No Peel Potato Latkes for Hanukkah

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Hanukkah falls really early this year, beginning Sunday, December 2nd (which is tomorrow!) and the holiday season starts with a bang. You know what that means… chocolate and latkes!  So, I want to share my easy no-peel latke recipe which, besides skipping the tedious and time consuming job of peeling potatoes, serves two purposes. The skin has much of the nutrition and leaving it on helps make the latkes extra crispy and tasty.  Warm latkes topped with applesauce and sour cream, are a family favorite. The only problem is, that no matter how many I make, they disappear! Feel free to try my No Peel Applesauce recipe as a great topper. Click HERE for the recipe

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Who wouldn’t love a celebration that lasts eight days and involves lighting pretty candles, exchanging gifts, playing games that involve chocolate coins and eating foods that have been fried in oil?  Once a year, latkes (and even doughnuts) which are fried in oil are the reigning treats.  So what is the significance of the oil?  Hanukkah, (Hanukah, Chanukkah or Chanukah depending on the transliteration) also known as the Festival of Lights, is an eight-day Jewish holiday in which candles are lit for eight nights to commemorate the rededication of the Holy Temple in Jerusalem which had been desecrated and a statue of Zeus built in it’s place back when Greek Gods were in favor (2nd century BCE). During the dedication a cask of oil which should have only been enough to burn the temple menorah for one night miraculously burned for eight, thus the eight days of celebration today incorporating candles, menorahs and oil.

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Dreidel is a popular game played during Hanukkah.  Tradition has it that the reason the dreidel game is played is to commemorate a game devised by the Jews to camouflage the fact that they were studying Torah, which was outlawed at the time by the Ancient Greeks. The Jews would gather to study, posting a lookout to alert the group to the presence of soldiers. If soldiers were spotted, the Jews would hide their scrolls and start to spin tops, so it would look like they were gambling instead of studying Torah. My family loves playing dreidel for chocolate coins, and I have been collecting dreidels for over 20 years.  Every year I hunt for a new one to add to our collection. It’s getting harder to find something unique but I always find one.  Here is the new addition.

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The other ubiquitous Hanukkah treat is the chocolate coins given as gifts or used as collateral in dreidel. Gold are milk chocolate and silver are dark, so pick your favorite!

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Latkes are easy to make but it does take a toll on your kitchen as the splattering oil makes a bit of a mess – but they are worth it!  There are many kinds of latkes, made with grated, shredded or mashed potatoes but my family prefers them extra crispy made with long thin strips of potato that allows the oil to  seep in through the middle, crisping them the whole way through.  Topped with applesauce and sour cream, they are hard to beat.

TIPS:  This recipe calls for potato only latkes but it’s fun to add other veggies or even fruit.  I often add shredded apple strips which makes them salty sweet.  You can also try grated or shredded carrots or any other root vegetable.  Get creative!

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NO-PEEL POTATO LATKES
4 large potatoes
2 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp salt (or more to taste)
1/2 large or 1 whole small yellow onion, chopped
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsn lemon juice
2 Tbsn flour (any kind)
1 to 2 cups vegetable oil

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  •  Grate unpeeled potatoes using a hand grater or food processor fitted with the grate attachment. You can use a blender but your latkes will be more like pancakes. Squeeze excess water from the grated potatoes with paper towels and add lemon juice right away to prevent browning.  Pour into a large bowl and add chopped onions.

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  • Stir in the flour, baking powder, salt and eggs. It will not look like batter.

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  • Heat half the oil in a heavy skillet on medium high to high until the oil is almost smoking. A cast iron pan works great as it holds the heat. Drop potato mixture by generous spoonfuls onto hot oil and flatten slightly with the tip of a wooden spoon. I try to poke a few holes so oil can bubble up through the middle.

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  • Brown well on both sides, turning to accommodate hot spots in the pan.

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  • Drain on paper towels.

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  • Keep warm in a 250 degree oven covered loosely with aluminum foil.  Latkes can be made ahead and reheated in single layers in a 350 degree oven.

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  • Serve plain or with applesauce and sour cream.

 

Potato Latkes

  • Servings: 2 dozen
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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4 large potatoes
2 large eggs, beaten
1 tsp salt (or more to taste)
1/2 large or 1 whole small yellow onion, chopped
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsn lemon juice
2 Tbsn flour (any kind)
1 to 2 cups vegetable oil

  •  Grate unpeeled potatoes using a hand grater or food processor fitted with the grate attachment. You can use a blender but your latkes will be more like pancakes. Squeeze excess water from the grated potatoes with paper towels and add lemon juice right away to prevent browning. Pour into a large bowl and add chopped onions.
  • Stir in the flour, baking powder, salt and eggs.
  • Heat half the oil in a heavy skillet on medium high to high until the oil is almost smoking. A cast iron pan works great as it holds the heat. Drop potato mixture by generous spoonfuls onto hot oil and flatten slightly with the tip of a wooden spoon. I try to poke a few holes so oil can bubble up through the middle.
  • Brown well on both sides, turning to accommodate hot spots in the pan.
  • Drain on paper towels.
  • Keep warm in a 250 degree oven. Serve with applesauce and sour cream.

 

 

 

Portobello Wellington (Vegan)

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This vegan Portobello Wellington is pretty enough to serve as a main course for Thanksgiving or Christmas. It features layers of rich beluga lentils, whole portobello muchrooms and sauteed garlic spinach. I made a vegan Wellington last year using chestnuts and portobello mushrooms as the predominant ingredients.  While the dish was beautiful, it wasn’t as tasty as I thought it should be.  So this time, I scrapped the chestnuts which are difficult to find, and a bit dry, and layered lentils,  mushrooms and spinach instead.  The dish was a huge success, pretty AND delicious.  Just add mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce!  🙂

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A traditional Beef Wellington is a fillet steak coated with pâté and duxelles, which is then wrapped in pastry and baked.  In this reimagined vegan  version, whole portobellos stand in for the ‘steak’  and the lentils with shallots and garlic would be the ‘pate’ with duxelles, which is just a fancy name for mushrooms sautéed with onions, shallots and garlic.  The flavor combination of the three layers worked so well together in creating a flavorful but still juicy filling.  I cooked the lentils in vegetable broth for more flavor. Of course, adding sauteed shallots and garlic to the black lentils gave them an even richer taste.  They were a great first layer.  Then I placed whole sauteed portobello mushrooms as the middle later and topped with spinach sauteed in garlic.

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Except for the pretty crust, which is what makes this a holiday worthy dish, all of the ingredients add flavor and nutritional value.  Spinach and mushrooms are high in food value, including fiber, vitamins and minerals, plus protein.  They also have zero or low amounts of fat, cholesterol, carbs and sugars.  If I were going to make my own crust, I would try a recipe using white whole wheat flour like this one from King Arthur Flour.  I actually didn’t know I was going to be making this last until the last minute, so I cheated with pre-made crusts.  It happens…

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I chose black lentils, also called Beluga lentils due to their resemblance of black caviar, because I find them the richest in flavor and their texture remains firm when cooked.  However, brown or green lentils would work well here too.  They are also quite healthy.  100 grams of cooked lentils contains 116 calories, 9.02 g of protein, .3 g of fat and 9.02 g of fiber.  They are also rich in minerals and vitamins.  Click for MORE info.

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TIPS:  This recipe is easy to prep a day or so ahead of time and assemble just before cooking.  Just prepare the lentil mixture and saute and drain the mushrooms and the spinach, then place in the refrigerator in airtight containers until ready to assemble.  You can preform them into log shapes before refrigerating for easier assembly.  For those who really like to plan ahead, you could probably assemble the whole thing a day or two ahead and refrigerate until you are ready to bake.

 

PORTOBELLO WELLINGTON

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Note:  This recipe can be made with 3 or 4 large portobello mushrooms.  The 3 mushroom wellington will fit in an 18″ baking sheet, while a 4 mushroom one needs a 21″ pan.  The recipe is for both.  For the larger wellington, use the larger quantities.

  • 1-1 1/4 cup black lentils (or brown)
  • 4-5 cups vegetable broth (optional)
  • 3-4 large portabello mushrooms
  • 3-4 large shallots peeled and minced
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, minced (divided)
  • 3 Tbs olive oil (divided)
  • 8-12 oz fresh spinach (3- 4 cups)
  • 2 – 3 blocks or rolls of pastry dough (or puff pastry, if preferred)
  • 1/4 cup vegan butter or soy milk (as pastry wash)
  • salt and pepper to taste

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  • Cook lentils in vegetable broth for more flavor (optional) following instructions on package.  Remove from heat and let cool. Trim mushroom stalks if needed and wipe caps clean with a damp paper towel. Do not immerse in water.

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  • Heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil in a skillet and place the mushrooms, top side down. Cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes.  Turn them over and cook for another 5 minutes or until you hear the water release and sizzle in the pan. Remove from the heat, and drain on paper towel cap side up as they will release liquid as they cool.

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  • In the mushroom skillet, heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil and half of garlic, lightly saute spinach.  Just cook until wilted and liquid releases.  If you decided to use frozen spinach, squeeze out as much water as possible. Remove from heat and let cool

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  • Saute shallots in 1 Tablespoon olive oil until lightly browned.  Add remaining garlic and cooked lentils.  Stir to combine. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed.  Remove from heat and let cool.

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  • Once cool enough, you should be able to form it into a log.  If you can’t, it’s probably too wet, so return it to the stove or put it in the refrigerator to firm up.

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  • Roll out pastry dough into any shape you prefer to make both a top and bottom crust.  I used 4 pre-made pie crusts and rolled 1 1/2 together to make the long traditional Wellington shape, however, you can make it a circle, square or rectangle.

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  • Place bottom crust on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Form lentil log in center of bottom crust and pat into shape

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  • Arrange mushrooms on top of lentils, cap side up

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  • Top evenly with the sauteed spinach.  Pat into as smooth a shape as possible for best results

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  • Place top crust over your lentil, mushroom, spinach creation and smooth it with your fingers.

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  • Cut around the Wellington using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, leaving a generous 1 inch margin.

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  • Using a fork, firmly press the two edges closed going all the way around.

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  • Cut shapes with a cookie cutter to decorate the top if you like.  Save any leftover dough for future use.

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  • Brush the pastry with melted vegan butter or soy milk and poke air holes with a fork.

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  • Bake at 400 degrees for about 30 to 40 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.  If the edges start getting too brown, cover them with strips of aluminum foil.

Portobello Wellington

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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Note:  This recipe can be made with 3 or 4 large portobello mushrooms.  The 3 mushroom wellington will fit in an 18″ baking sheet, while a 4 mushroom one needs a 21″ pan.  The recipe is for both.  For the larger wellington, use the larger quantities.

  • 1-1 1/4 cup black lentils (or brown)
  • 4-5 cups vegetable broth (optional)
  • 3-4 large portabello mushrooms
  • 3-4 large shallots peeled and minced
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, minced (divided)
  • 3 Tbs olive oil (divided)
  • 8-12 oz fresh spinach (3- 4 cups)
  • 2 – 3 blocks or rolls of pastry dough
  • 1/4 cup vegan butter or soy milk (as pastry wash)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Cook lentils in vegetable broth for more flavor (optional) following instructions on package.  Remove from heat and let cool.
  2. Trim mushroom stalks if needed and wipe caps clean with a damp paper towel. Do not immerse in water.
  3. Heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil in a skillet and place the mushrooms, top side down. Cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes.  Turn them over and cook for another 5 minutes or until you hear the water release and sizzle in the pan. Remove from the heat, and drain on paper towel cap side up as they will release liquid as they cool.
  4. In the mushroom skillet, heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil and half of garlic, lightly saute spinach.  Just cook until wilted and liquid releases.  If you decided to use frozen spinach, squeeze out as much water as possible. Remove from heat and let cool
  5. Saute shallots in 1 Tablespoon olive oil until lightly browned.  Add remaining garlic and cooked lentils.  Stir to combine. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed.  Remove from heat and let cool.  Once cool enough, you should be able to form it into a log. If you can’t, it’s probably too wet, so return it to the stove or put it in the refrigerator to firm up.
  6. Roll out pastry dough into any shape you prefer to make both a top and bottom crust.  I used 4 pre-made pie crusts and rolled 1 1/2 together to make the long traditional Wellington shape, however, you can make it a circle, square or rectangle.
  7. Place bottom crust on a parchment lined baking sheet
  8. Form lentil log in center of bottom crust and pat into shape
  9. Arrange mushrooms on top of lentils, cap side up
  10. Top evenly with the sauteed spinach.  Pat into as smooth a shape as possible for best results
  11. Place top crust over your lentil, mushroom, spinach creation and smooth it with your fingers.
  12. Cut around the Wellington using a sharp knife or pizza cutter, leaving a generous 1 inch margin.
  13. Using a fork, firmly press the two edges closed going all the way around.
  14. Cut shapes with a cookie cutter to decorate the top if you like.  Save and leftover dough for future use.
  15. Brush the pastry with melted vegan butter or soy milk and poke air holes with a fork.
  16. Bake at 400 degrees for about 30 to 40 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown.  If the edges start getting too brown, cover them with strips of aluminum foil.

Tomatillo Salsa

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I recently asked all of you for suggestions on what to do with all the tomatillos I’m harvesting from my garden.  The vast majority of you said to make Tomatillo Salsa, better known as Salsa Verde because of its vibrant green color.  So right you were.  It’s fresh and delicious with just the right amount of zing.  I quick broiled tomatillos and garlic, and combined them with jalapeno peppers, onion, mint and cilantro in my food processor with a bit of salt, cumin and lime.  The blackened but still raw tomatillos added a slightly smokey flavor to the salsa and tempers the natural acidicity of the fruit, while the cilantro and mint give it a freshness.  However, you can skip the broiling step and make an all raw salsa too.  This salsa would be great on enchiladas, tacos or just with tortilla chips.  This recipe uses very few ingredients and takes less than 30 minutes.  If you can, make it the day before because the flavors will develop and improve with passing hours.

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What are tomatillos?  Tomatillos (Physalis philadelphica) are also known as the Mexican husk tomato, since that is where they originated. They are related to the tomato, but grow enclosed in a papery husk. They taste a little bit like a green tomato, which can be used as a substitute in this recipe. They are usually green or yellowish in color. I have one bush that grew larger yellow to almost white fruit and two other plants that grew smaller green fruit.  The yellow fruit is sweeter and the green is more tart, so a combination works well in rounding out flavors.

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Tomatillos, like tomatoes, are actually a fruit, not a vegetable.  If you are planning on growing tomatillos, you need to plant at least two plants or more, as one plant will not produce fruit on its own.  The plants are quite pretty but somewhat leggy, so I have mine in tomato cages.  The tomatillos remind me of paper lanterns with their pretty papery skin and hot air balloon shape.  After picking, tomatillos can be kept in the refrigerator for up to two weeks, longer if the papery skin is removed before storing.

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Tomatillos are a very good source of dietary fiber, niacin, potassium, and manganese. They contain 20 percent of the daily recommended value in vitamin C, 13 percent of the vitamin K, and a healthy amount of iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and copper. They don’t have any protein but they don’t have any fat either.

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TIPS: The salsa can be stored in the refrigerator for about two weeks but it can easily be frozen for later use.  Cool salsa before freezing to prevent condensation which can change the taste and texture when thawed.  Pour into an airtight container or sealable plastic freezer bag. Leave at least an inch of space as foods expand when they are frozen. Remove as much air as possible before sealing.  If you have a clean straw, use it to suck out the air or press it out with your hands before sealing.  If you have a large quantity of tomatillos, you can find directions to can the salsa from Ball Fresh Preserving  but keep in mind, that for safety reasons, only hot salsa can be canned so heat it up first.

 

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TOMATILLO SALSA

  • 1 1/2 lb tomatillos (about 4 cups)
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 3-5 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup mint leaves (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 2 Jalapeño peppers OR 2 serrano peppers, stemmed, seeded and chopped (you can use whole for more heat if you want)
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp cumin (optional)
  • Salt to taste

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  • Remove papery husks from tomatillos and rinse

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  • Cut the tomatillos in half and place cut side down on a foil-lined baking sheet. Add the garlic cloves in their skin.

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  • Broil on high for  5-7 minutes until the skins of the tomatillos have slightly blackened. Let cool and remove the garlic skins.

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  • While the tomatillos are roasting, roughly chop the onion and pappers.

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  • Place the tomatillos in a blender or food processor with the garlic, peppers, onion, cilantro, cumin, lime juice and 1/4 cup water to the and pulse to a coarse puree. Transfer to a bowl, add salt, and thin out as desired with water. Taste and adjust salt, and set aside to let the flavors develop.

Tomatillo Salsa

  • Servings: 3 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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  • 1 1/2 lb tomatillos (about 4 cups)
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 3-5 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup mint leaves (optional)
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 2 Jalapeño peppers OR 2 serrano peppers, stemmed, seeded and chopped (you can use whole for more heat if you want)
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp cumin (optional)
  • Salt to taste
  1. Remove papery husks from tomatillos and rinse
  2. Cut the tomatillos in half and place cut side down on a foil-lined baking sheet. Add the garlic cloves in their skin.
  3. Broil on high for  5-7 minutes until the skins of the tomatillos have slightly blackened. Let cool and remove the garlic skins.
  4. While the tomatillos are roasting, roughly chop the onion and pappers.
  5. Place the tomatillos in a blender or food processor with the garlic, peppers, onion, cilantro, cumin, lime juice and 1/4 cup water to the and pulse to a coarse puree. Transfer to a bowl, add salt, and thin out as desired with water. Taste and adjust salt, and set aside to let the flavors develop.

 

 

 

 

Meatless Monday Celebrates Fall Harvest

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Meatless Monday published my Harvest Vegetable Tart in their Fall Harvest recipe  roundup.  Check out my recipe featuring root vegetables like sweet potatoes, parsnips, purple carrots and butternut squash cut into leaf shapes using small cookie cutters.  This is a savory vegetarian pie with a creamy rich filling of vegetables braised in vegetable broth, coconut milk and parmesan cheese, although goat cheese would work well too for the filling.  Harvest Vegetable Tart Recipe on goodmotherdiet  By the way, goodmotherdiet has 99,771 hits to date.  Who is going to be the 100,000?

Meatless Monday has compiled a nice assortment of recipes from bloggers like me, pastas, curry, lentils, squash, beets, enchiladas, etc. For the full list of Fall Harvest recipes click HERE

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Join me in supporting the Meatless Monday movement.  Even if you’re not ready to skip meat altogether, going meatless one day a week helps.  Choosing to go Meatless Monday can help fight diseases, reduce the risk of diabetes, and improve heart health. It also conserves land, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, saves water, and saves energy. Meatless Monday is in over 40 countries and over 20 languages.  Check out their website for more information. Meatless Monday Website

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Graphic Image created by Danielle Russell for Meatless Monday.

Meatless Monday – Sesame Crusted Tofu

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I’m sorry for going MIA this summer.  A combination of travel without my computer,(Iceland is another coming post)  made blogging (and cooking) difficult and the recent illness and death of my beloved father left me with a void that I am struggling to fill.  He was a kind man. He chose family and a career in education over wealth and prestige. Dare I say it was not the exciting career he probably thought he was going to have. He and my mom fostered dozens of kids and believed in uplifting others, especially those that really needed help the most.  I suppose, his death, following hers three years ago, only reaffirms my growing belief that we should try our best to  leave a gentle footprint on the earth and make a positive difference in the world, no matter how small.  Kindness matters. Voting with your pocketbook matters.  Our choices matter. Speaking up for those that have no voice matters.  I guess a tofu recipe is a good start.

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This is my favorite, quick and easy, protein filled, go-to dish.  I especially like to make it for my meat eating friends who think they don’t like tofu.  I have changed some pretty closed minds with this one.  The tofu is savory and crispy on the outside and creamy on the inside.  I like to serve sesame crusted tofu over pasta or rice to take advantage of the yummy pan drippings.  Surprise! Vegan food can have pan drippings. This time I tossed together some sugar snap peas sauteed with ginger and garlic until they glisten, tender but firm.

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I love the combination of black and white sesame seeds, but if you think they are just a pretty decoration you would be mistaken.  They add a nutty flavor and add to the crunchy texture in this dish, but for their small size, they also provide quite a bit of nutrition. Sesame seeds  are an excellent source of copper, a very good source of manganese, and a good source of calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, vitamin B1, zinc, molybdenum, selenium, and dietary fiber.  Black sesame seeds are unhulled while white seeds are hulled.  Since most of the calcium is in the hulls, black sesame seeds have more calcium.  Otherwise, they are nutritionally similar.

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TIPS:  This time, I served the tofu over thin spaghetti which picks up the sesame seeds and spices easily but angel hair pasta would work well too.  I just stirred the hot, cooked pasta in the same pan I cooked the tofu to evenly coat the strands. I often serve this with brown jasmine or basmati rice.  Just cook with vegetable broth and a 1 inch knob of peeled fresh ginger or teaspoon of ginger paste and drizzle the sesame oil and pan drippings over the rice.  Yum!…  (*smacking lip sound*)

This recipe serves two to four people, depending on appetites.  I can only eat one 4 ounce tofu steak but my husband can eat two.  You can easily double the recipe. I also prefer the 4 oz steaks because I like the crispy edges.

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SESAME CRUSTED TOFU

  • 1 block extra firm tofu
  • 1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup black sesame seeds
  • 1-2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 cup + 1 Tbsn sesame oil, divided
  • 1 Tbsn soy sauce (or gluten free tamari)
  • 2 Tbsn cornstarch
  • 3 scallions, minced (optional garnish)
  • 8 oz thin spaghetti

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  • Drain tofu and slice in half lengthwise into two wide slabs (8 oz. steaks).  You can also cut the slabs half again for four 4 oz. servings.  Arrange in a single layer on double papertowels or a clean dishcloth, cover with more towels and let drain 15 or 20 minutes.  Placing a heavy pan on top might help press the liquid out.
  • Cook spaghetti as directed, drain and set aside

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  • If you are making sugar snap peas, in a cold saute pan, stir together a Tablespoon each of olive oil and sesame oil, 1 teaspoon minced ginger or ginger paste and several cloves of crushed garlic. Remove stems and strings from the peas, rinse and stir them into the garlic mixture.  They can sit until you are ready. Cook for about 5 minutes on medium heat just before you cook the tofu.

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  • Place cornstarch in a shallow pie pan or plate

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  • Stir together 1 Tablespoon sesame oil and 1 Tablespoon soy sauce

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  • Combine sesame seeds, red pepper flakes, garlic and onion powders in a shallow pie pan

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  • Heat a heavy fry pan (cast iron if you have) on medium heat and add remaining sesame oil while you prepare your tofu.
  • Dredge tofu on all sides in cornstarch

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  • Dip tofu in soy/sesame mixture, all sides

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  • Press tofu into sesame seed mixture making sure to coat all sides. Repeat with remaining pieces.

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  • Cook in hot sesame oil several minutes on each side, or until crispy and golden brown.  Lower heat if the oil starts to smoke.

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  • Remove tofu from pan and set aside. Turn heat to low.

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  • Toss cooked spaghetti in hot pan used for cooking the tofu until sesame seeds and oil are evenly distributed.  Add any remaining seeds and spices or a drizzle of sesame oil, if desired.

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  • Serve tofu topped with tofu steaks and sugar snap peas, garnish with scallions, if desired.

 

 

 

 

Sesame Crusted Tofu

  • Servings: 2 - 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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  • 1 block extra firm tofu
  • 1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup black sesame seeds
  • 1-2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/4 cup + 1 Tbsn sesame oil, divided
  • 1 Tbsn soy sauce (or gluten free tamari)
  • 2 Tbsn cornstarch
  • 3 scallions, minced (optional garnish)
  • 8 oz thin spaghetti
  1. Drain tofu and slice in half lengthwise into two wide slabs (steaks).  You can also cut the slabs half again for four servings.  Arrange in a single layer on double papertowels or a clean dishcloth, cover with more towels and let drain 15 or 20 minutes.  Placing a heavy pan on top might help press the liquid out.
  2. Cook spaghetti as directed, drain and set aside
  3. If you are making sugar snap peas, in a cold saute pan, stir together a Tablespoon each of olive oil and sesame oil, 1 teaspoon minced ginger or ginger paste and several cloves of crushed garlic. Remove stems and strings from the peas, rinse and stir them into the garlic mixture. They can sit until you are ready.  Cook for about 5 minutes on medium heat just before you cook the tofu.
  4. Place cornstarch in a shallow pie pan
  5. Stir together 1 Tablespoon sesame oil and 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
  6. Combine sesame seeds, red pepper flakes, garlic and onion powders in a shallow pie pan
  7. Heat a heavy fry pan (cast iron if you have) on medium high heat and add remaining sesame oil
  8. Dredge tofu on all sides in cornstarch
  9. Dip tofu in soy/sesame mixture, all sides
  10. Press tofu into sesame seed mixture making sure to coat all sides
  11. Cook in hot sesame oil several minutes on each side, or until crispy and golden brown.  Lower heat to medium if the oil starts to smoke.
  12. Remove tofu from pan and set aside
  13. Toss cooked spaghetti in hot pan used for cooking the tofu until sesame seeds and oil are evenly distributed.  Add any remaining seeds and spices or a drizzle of sesame oil, if desired.
  14. Serve tofu topped with tofu steaks and garnish with scallions, if desired.

 

 

Meatless Monday – Buffalo “Chicken” Lettuce Wraps

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This is what happens when hot, crunchy ‘chicken’ tenders are wrapped in fresh lettuce leaves and topped with blue cheese, jalapenos, red onion and dill pickles, then drizzled with spicy buffalo sauce and cool ranch!  Mmmm… brings your game higher.  It’s easy because the crispy tenders are already done.  You just have to bake them for 16 to 20 minutes, assemble and go!  You get special bonus points when your tenders are vegan and guilt free like these from Gardein.  Did I mention that this is good ballgame food?

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I received a box of frozen goodies from the nice folks at Meatless Monday as a promotion for Gardein, a company that makes meat substitutes. In their words, “We are insanely passionate about helping the world eat less meat.” I was thrilled to see quite a nice sampling of veggie burgers, meatballs, chicken sliders, chicken strips and chicken tenders.  They were generous enough to send me about a dozen items. In return, I needed to come up with a recipe using one of their products.  I had never tried any of their products so this was going to be fun – I hoped.

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The 7 Grain Crispy Tenders was the first product I tried.  Wow, I really liked them!  I’m embarrassed to admit that somehow I ended up eating almost the whole bag.  I don’t usually love meat substitutes but in this case, I was sold.  My family, usually squeamish about food that is said with air quotes, also declared this a winner.  I actually caught my husband later, eating the tenders plain, right off the tray.  If that isn’t proof right there, I don’t know what is.

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So, what (might you ask) are the 7 grains and what are the tenders?  The tenders are primarily soy protein and vital wheat gluten with various whole grains, vegetable proteins and fibers, flavorings and spices.  The coating is a combination of enriched wheat flour, rice flour, oat bran, oats, quinoa flour, amaranth flour, millet flour and KAMUT® khorasan wheat. Two tenders are 100 calories and contain 8 grams of protein.  For more nutritional information click HERE  To find other great products made by Gardein click HERE  To get a $1 coupon for Gardein products, click HERE

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I based this recipe on the classic party food, buffalo chicken wings, and visualized these crispy vegan tenders inside crisp and clean lettuce cups with all the usual things you would find on a party tray, like blue cheese, carrots, pickles, jalapenos and of course, buffalo wing sauce and ranch.  I like to make a self-serve bar, so people can ‘decorate’ their plates as they wish.  Or you can make up a tray yourself.  Be forewarned that these are as messy as any lettuce cups and provide lots of napkins.

TIPS:  To make your prep even easier, pick up a bag of pre-shredded coleslaw and pre-crumbled blue cheese or pre-shredded pepper jack cheese, if using.  You may want to buy two heads of lettuce to ensure that you have enough large leaves and then use the smaller inside leaves for something else.  Pre-made buffalo sauce and ranch dressings are easy to find as well. 20180523_123828

Buffalo ‘Chicken’ Lettuce Wraps

  • 1 Tbsn olive oil or olive oil spray
  • 1 12 oz package Gardein 7 Grain Chicken Tenders
  • 1 large head Boston or Red Leaf Lettuce (about 12 leaves)
  • 1/3 cup buffalo sauce
  • 1/3 cup ranch dressing (optional)

Suggested Toppings

  • 2 cups Shredded cabbage and carrot
  • 1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles or shredded pepper jack cheese
  • dill pickles, sliced or chopped or black olives, sliced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, sliced or chopped
  • 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced or chopped
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

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  • Spray or brush a baking sheet with olive oil (optional, but made them really crispy)Place chicken tenders in a single layer on the baking sheet and bake for 16 to 18 minutes in a 430 degree oven.  Turn once halfway through.

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  • While the tenders are cooking, prepare your condiments and toppings.20180522_191108.jpg
  • Wash and shake lettuce dry.  Carefully remove whole leaves for serving.

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  • Remove tenders from oven and let cool slightly, serve whole or cut into thirds, then place on a serving tray if desired

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  • Place several tenders in a lettuce leaf and top with pickles, jalapenos, onion and cheese.  Drizzle with buffalo sauce and ranch dressing.

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Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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  • 1 Tbsn olive oil or olive oil spray
  • 1 12 oz package Gardein 7 Grain Chicken Tenders
  • 1 large head Boston or Red Leaf Lettuce (about 12 leaves)
  • 1/3 cup buffalo sauce
  • 1/3 cup ranch dressing (optional)

Suggested Toppings

  • 2 cups Shredded cabbage and carrot
  • 1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles or shredded pepper jack cheese
  • dill pickles, sliced or chopped or black olives, sliced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, sliced
  • 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  1. Spray or brush a baking sheet with olive oil (optional, but made them really crispy)
  2. Place chicken tenders in a single layer on the baking sheet and bake for 16 to 18 minutes in a 430 degree oven.  Turn once halfway through.
  3. While the tenders are cooking, prepare your condiments and toppings.
  4. Wash and shake lettuce dry.  Carefully remove whole leaves for serving.
  5. Remove tenders from oven and let cool slightly, serve whole or cut into thirds, then place on a serving tray if desired
  6. Place several tenders in a lettuce leaf and top with pickles, jalapenos, onion and cheese.  Drizzle with buffalo sauce and ranch dressing.

Meatless Monday – Squash, Wild Rice and Kale Salad

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I love this combination of kabocha squash brushed with maple syrup and roasted to sweet tenderness, on a bed of fresh baby kale, hearty wild rice, creamy avocado, pomegranate seeds and salty crushed pistachios, all drizzled with a light orange, ginger vinaigrette.  Its a hearty main course salad when paired with crusty sourdough bread or a bowl of soup.

My friend, Kerry and her daughter, Gabby, were visiting from Maine last week. I could tell that Kerry was unimpressed by the pile of greens on the counter while i was making dinner. By the time the whole salad was assembled, she was singing a different tune…

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The colors alone tell you that this salad is a nutrional powerhouse.  Remember “Eat the Rainbow”?  The more colors you combine in your meals, the more vitamins and minerals you are likely to be getting.  I haven’t posted a food color chart in a while, so here is good one compliments of eatlocalgrown.com.  Its actually pretty interesting knowing that food is a certain color for a reason, or conversely, that the phytonutrients a plant contains determines its color.  color.jpg (720×720)I love wild rice in salads.  It has a nutty flavor and chewy texture that helps satisfy your mouth and your belly.  This salad is not heavy but it makes you feel satisfied and happy. For those that like to compare the nutrition of various ingredients, there is a healthy reason to incorporate wild rice into your diet.  According to SF Gate,  a one-cup serving of cooked, long-grain white rice contains 210 calories, 4 grams of protein and 45 grams of carbohydrate, including 1 gram of fiber. The same-sized serving of cooked wild rice provides you with 170 calories, 7 grams of protein and 35 grams of carbohydrate, including 3 grams of fiber.20180222_171101.jpgThis recipe calls for kabocha squash which is perfect for salad since its flavorful and tender and has a soft edible rind.  You can also use acorn squash which also has the pretty scallops but the rind is hard and inedible.  Its not really a problem, you can just remove the rind as you eat.  Acorn squash should probably be cut in thin quarter rounds since they are generally larger and may need to cook longer depending on thickness.

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TIPS:  I love fresh pomegranate seeds, or arils as they are technically named, but they are not available all year around.  Sometimes you can find them in the frozen section but I have started buying them when they are in season, seeding them and storing them in the freezer until I need them.  Its best to store in small, usable quantities instead of trying to chip away at a large block.   You can also freeze the small plastic containers of pomegranate seeds available in stores during the season if you haven’t opened them. They thaw perfectly!  You can always substitute another fresh fruit like blueberries or dried cranberries or raisins.

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SQUASH, WILD RICE AND KALE SALAD

  • 1 kabocha squash (or acorn squash)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup wild rice, uncooked (1/2 cup cooked)
  • large bunch baby kale or arugula
  • 1/3 cup pomegranate arils (or dried cranberries)
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 1/4 cup roasted pecans (pistachios, hazelnuts or almonds)
  • Vinaigrette: 1/4 cup orange juice
    1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
    1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
    1 garlic clove, freshly grated
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon pepper
    1/3 cup olive oil

 

  • Cook the rice according to instructions in vegetable broth, if desired. For salads, al dente is preferred. Remove from heat and let cool.

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  • Cut the squash open and scoop out the seeds. Place it flat-side-down on a large cutting board and slice into 1/2 inch half rounds

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  • Arrange the Kabocha slices on an oiled baking sheet (or lined with parchment paper). Whisk together the olive oil and maple syrup and brush squash generously, sprinkle with salt and pepper

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  • Roast on 450ºF for 12-15 minutes or until soft and beginning to brown.  Turn halfway through and brush maple oil mixture on other side, salt and pepper. Remove from heat and let cool.

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  • Spread baby kale or arugula in a layer on a large platter.

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  • Dot evenly with wild rice and avocado slices

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  • Top with squash slices

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  • Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds (arils) and slightly crushed pistachios

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  • Whisk together vinaigrette and dress salad just before serving.  Serve with extra dressing on the side.

 

Squash, Wild Rice and Kale Salad

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
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  • 1 kabocha squash
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup wild rice, uncooked (1/2 cup cooked)
  • large bunch baby kale or arugula
  • 1/3 cup pomegranate arils (or dried cranberries)
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • 1/4 cup roasted pecans (pistachios, hazelnuts or almonds)
  • Vinaigrette: 1/4 cup orange juice
    1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
    1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
    1 garlic clove, freshly grated
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1/4 teaspoon pepper
    1/3 cup olive oil

 

  1. Cook the rice according to instructions in vegetable broth, if desired. For salads, al dente is preferred. Remove from heat and let cool.
  2. Cut the squash open and scoop out the seeds. Place it flat-side-down on a large cutting board and slice into 1/2 inch half rounds
  3. Arrange the Kabocha slices on an oiled baking sheet (or lined with parchment paper). Whisk together the olive oil and maple syrup and brush squash generously, sprinkle with salt and pepper
  4. Roast on 450ºF for 12-15 minutes or until soft and beginning to brown.  Turn halfway through and brush oil mixture on other side, salt and pepper. Remove from heat and let cool.
  5. Spread baby kale or arugula in a layer on a large platter.
  6. Dot evenly with wild rice
  7. Arrange squash and avocado slices on top
  8. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds (arils) and slightly crushed nuts
  9. Whisk together vinaigrette and dress salad just before serving.  Serve with extra dressing on the side.

Vegetarian “Beef” Enchiladas

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Okay, these are seriously good!  I was experimenting with a couple of vegetarian enchilada recipes last week as potential Superbowl options and we liked both.  I posted the Vegetable Enchiladas recipe for Meatless Monday and here is the second recipe, as promised. These enchiladas are based on a typical enchilada recipe using ground beef but using vegan ‘beef’ crumbles instead with surprisingly good results.  My meat lovers claimed they couldn’t taste the difference.  I also added whole corn kernels and fire roasted canned tomatoes to round out the flavors. It’s very easy to make this vegan by using a vegan cheese.

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Historically, I have not been a fan of substitute or vegan ‘meat’ products, just because I don’t usually like them.  However, the vegan food industry is exploding with really great products and Beyond Meat, in particular, has opened up a whole new world of vegan meat substitutes.  Their Beef-Free Crumbles are soy and gluten free.  They are made from a pea protein and provide the same amount of protein as ground beef but only half of the fat (which is canola oil). I have liked every product that I have tried so far, so you may see a few more recipes in the future using their products.  And for the record, they don’t pay me to promote their products or even know about my little blog (unfortunately). A couple of my other favorite vegan products are Miyoko’s vegan butter (and her soft cheeses), Kite Hill Ricotta and Just Mayo (which is also made from pea protein).  All three products are as good as or better than their dairy counterparts.

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TIPS:  I found that 6 enchiladas fit easily in a 13 x 9 glass baking dish. If you don’t have a larger one, you may want a little extra sauce.  Do not forget to heat the tortillas before filling them or they will split.

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“BEEF” ENCHILADAS

  • 1 15 oz can Red Enchilada Sauce (or more if using multiple pans)
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 1 16 oz package frozen Beyond Beef crumbles
  • 1 15 oz can Diced Fire Roasted Tomatoes, drained
  • 4 oz Diced green chile peppers, drained
  • 1 cup frozen whole kernel corn, thawed
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese (or half pepper jack cheese)
  • 12 corn tortillas (6 inch)
  • Cooking Spray
  • 1 4 oz can sliced black olives (optional)

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  • Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray 2 13×9-inch glass baking dishes with cooking spray. Spread 1 cup sauce over bottom of baking dishes.

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  • Saute chopped onion until soft and translucent.  Add ‘beef’ crumbles and cook several minutes. Remove from heat.

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  • Stir in drained tomatoes, drained chilis, corn and 1/2 cup shredded cheese.

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  • Warm tortillas in damp papertowels in the microwave for 30-45 seconds to make them pliable and prevent splitting. Spread the middle of each tortilla with 1/4 cup ‘beef’ mixture. Roll up and place seam-side down in baking dish.

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  • Spoon remaining sauce over top of enchiladas and sprinkle with remaining 1 cup cheese. Garnish with black olives or sliced jalapenos, if desired.

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  • Cover baking dish with aluminum foil and bake 20-25 minutes or until enchiladas are hot and cheese melts.

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  • Servings: 12 enchiladas
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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  • 1 15 oz can Red Enchilada Sauce
  • 1/2 large onion, chopped
  • 1 16 oz package frozen Beyond Beef crumbles
  • 1 15 oz can Diced Fire Roasted Tomatoes, drained
  • 4 oz Diced green chile peppers, drained
  • 1 cup frozen whole kernel corn, thawed
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese (or half pepper jack cheese)
  • 12 corn tortillas (6 inch)
  • Cooking Spray
  • 1 4 oz can sliced black olives (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray baking dish with cooking spray. Spread 1 cup sauce over bottom of baking dish. If you are using more than one dish, you may want extra sauce.
  2. Saute chopped onion until soft and transluscent.  Add ‘beef’ crumbles and cook several minutes. Remove from heat.
  3. Stir in drained tomatoes, drained chilis, corn and 1/2 cup shredded cheese.
  4. Warm tortillas in damp papertowels in the microwave for 30-45 seconds to make them pliable and prevent splitting.  Spread the middle of each tortilla with 1/4 cup ‘beef’ mixture. Roll up and place seam-side down in baking dish.
  5. Spoon remaining sauce over top of enchiladas and sprinkle with remaining 1 cup cheese. Garnish with black olives or sliced jalapenos, if desired.
  6. Cover baking dish with aluminum foil and bake 20-25 minutes or until enchiladas are hot and cheese melts.

Meatless Monday – Vegetable Enchiladas

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Do you have football mania in your house?  My team wasn’t even close.  As a consolation, even if your team didn’t make the playoffs, the Superbowl is still a fun excuse to get friends together, even if just for the commercials and maybe Justin Timberlake…and, of course, the food.  Like so many of you, I am trying to come up with a menu for the Superbowl.  I will be making a big batch of my Chili Con Quinoa which is always a fan favorite.  In keeping with the Mexican theme, I decided to try out a couple of vegetarian enchilada recipes.  One is stocked full of veggies, spinach, zucchini, corn, tomatoes and the other has Beyond Meat ‘beef’ crumbles in place of ground beef. Well, we liked them both so I’m sharing both recipes this week but on different blog posts.   Today is the veggie enchilada but stay tuned…  I will also repost some of my favorite vegetarian Superbowl recipes this week.

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The best thing about these enchiladas is that most of the ingredients come from your pantry or freezer, so it makes a great out of season (or I don’t want to go shopping) meal.  AND there is no pre-cooking.  Its basically an assembly and bake meal.  Feel free to substitute your favorite vegetables just make sure they are all sliced or diced fairly small since they aren’t pre-cooked.  If you want to add some protein, substitute the spinach with a can of drained and rinsed black or pinto beans.   It is also very easy to make this vegan by using vegan cheese.

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TIPS:  DO NOT FORGET TO WARM THE TORTILLAS BEFORE FILLING.  THEY WILL SPLIT. GUARANTEED.  I found that 6 enchiladas fit easily in my 9×13 glass pans which means you need two pans, unless you have a larger pan that fits all 12.  If you use multiple pans you may want to have extra enchilada sauce on hand.

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VEGETABLE ENCHILADAS

  • 1 15 oz can Red Enchilada Sauce
  • 1 15 oz can Diced Fire Roasted Tomatoes, drained
  • 1 4 oz can diced Green Chilies, drained
  • 1 10 oz pkg frozen chopped spinach, thawed
  • 1 cup frozen whole kernel corn, thawed
  • 1 small zucchini, small dice
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese (or half pepper jack cheese)
  • 12 corn tortillas (6 inch)
  • Cooking Spray
  • 1 4 oz can sliced black olives (optional)

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  • Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray baking dish (or 2) with cooking spray. Spread 1 cup sauce over bottom of baking dish.

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  • Using a double paper towel, squeeze the water out of the spinach.

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  • In a medium bowl, stir together drained tomatoes, drained chilis, spinach, corn and 1/2 cup cheese.

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  • Heat the tortillas  in a damp paper towel 6 at a time for about 30-45 seconds in the microwave to soften and make pliable. Spread the middle of each tortilla with 1/3 cup veggie mixture. Roll up and place seam-side down in baking dish.

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  • Spoon remaining sauce over top of enchiladas and sprinkle with remaining 1 cup cheese. Garnish with black olives, if desired.

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  • Cover baking dish with aluminum foil and bake 30 minutes or until enchiladas are hot and cheese melts.  I forgot to cover mine until halfway through. Distracted cooking.  It happens. Yours will be prettier.

Vegetable Enchiladas

  • Servings: 12 enchiladas
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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  • 1 15 oz can Red Enchilada Sauce
  • 1 15 oz can Diced Fire Roasted Tomatoes, drained
  • 1 4 oz can diced Green Chilies, drained
  • 1 10 oz pkg frozen chopped spinach, thawed
  • 1 cup frozen whole kernel corn, thawed
  • 1-1/2 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese (or half pepper jack cheese)
  • 12 corn tortillas (6 inch)
  • Cooking Spray
  • 1 4 oz can sliced black olives (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Spray 13×9-inch glass baking dish with cooking spray. Spread 1 cup sauce over bottom of baking dish.
  2. Using a double paper towel, squeeze the water out of the spinach.
  3. In a medium bowl, stir together drained tomatoes, drained chilis, spinach, corn and 1/2 cup cheese.
  4. Heat the tortillas  in a damp paper towel 6 at a time for about 30-45 seconds in the microwave to soften and make pliable. Spread the middle of each tortilla with 1/3 cup veggie mixture. Roll up and place seam-side down in baking dish.
  5. Spoon remaining sauce over top of enchiladas and sprinkle with remaining 1 cup cheese. Garnish with black olives, if desired.
  6. Cover baking dish with aluminum foil and bake 30 minutes or until enchiladas are hot and cheese melts.

 

 

Meatless Monday – 16 Vegetarian Soups

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Thanksgiving is over but Soup Season has just begun. Brrr… Soup is the ultimate comfort food for cold, rainy or snowy days.  It’s hot, steamy goodness warms you up from the inside out. Click through for a collection of 16 of my favorite soups. Mmm, so good!  All soups are vegetarian or vegan (or easily adapted for vegans) and gluten and wheat free.  Since they are meat free, they are naturally low in calories but nutrient dense, so fill up your belly guilt free!  Each link will send you to the recipe and original blog post. Sharing is caring. -J

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Creamy Mushroom Soup (Vegan)

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Thai Red Curry Soup

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Hot and Sour Soup

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Tuscan Bean Soup with Squash and Kale

Cauliflower Leek Soup2

Creamy Cauliflower Leek Soup

Black Bean Soup1

Spicy Black Bean Soup

CArrot Sweet Potato Soup1

Carrot, Sweet Potato Soup with Turmeric

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Ginger Miso Tofu Noodle Bowl

Mushroom Barley Soup 1

Mushroom and Barley Soup with Cannelini Beans

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Fall Harvest Minestrone

Autumn Harvest Soup11

Butternut Squash and Potato Soup with Crispy Fried Sage

Black and White Chili

Black and White Chili with Garlic Toast

White Bean and Swiss Chard Soup

White Bean and Swiss Chard Soup

Carrot Coconut Soup with Marinated Tofu Triangles

Butternut Squash Soup and Polenta Tower2

Butternut Squash Soup with Polenta Towers

Dhal Lentil Sou[p

Dhal Lentil Soup with Quinoa Cauliflower Cakes

 

Meatless Monday – Harvest Vegetable Tart

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As you can see, I’m still on a tart kick.  You might say I’m ‘practicing’ for Thanksgiving, but in my defense, when the air gets cold outside, I love to be bundled up inside with a steaming casserole (or hot bowl of soup) and a tart is really just a fancy casserole.  This beauty takes advantage of the exquisite red/orange palate of fall by using colorful root vegetables cut into small leaf shapes using cookie cutters to create an Autumn motif. It happens to be savory and delicious too!

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The original inspiration for this recipe was filled with three kinds of cheese which sounds delicious but I was looking for something less caloric and more savory.  I opted to braise the leftover bits of veggies in olive oil and vegetable broth with shallots and garlic for a flavorful, lower fat tart filling.  I also added coconut milk for creaminess and parmesan for its nutty and salty flavors, but of course, that is optional or there are some great vegan cheeses that could be used.  For the creamy, three cheese recipe, check out Crafty Baking.

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I have had this set of leaf cookie cutters for so long that I don’t remember where I got them but they are still available for sale: 7 Piece Leaf Cookie Cutters. William Sonoma and other gourmet kitchen and restaurant supply stores have a good selection too.  They are worth having in your kitchen arsenal to decorate pies, casseroles or yes, even to make cookies.

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Root vegetables are decidedly homely from the outside, but once you remove their rough exterior, they are positively lovely, an entire array of jewel tones.  I chose my veggies for their variety of colors and flavors. In fact, their brilliant colors show us what a storehouse of nutrients they are.  Since they grow underground, they absorb a tremendous amount of nutrients directly from the soil which includes a variety of vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. Click through for 5 Reasons To Eat More Root Vegetables

Parsnips are a funny veggie and actually get a little bit sweet when cooked.  If you don’t like them, substitute another veggie or regular potatoes, especially in the tart filling. Actually, you can use any combination of root vegetables that you like.  Just beware that red and purple veggies may stain wood cutting boards and fingers… heads up.

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TIPS:  I found it helpful to use a potholder to protect my hands when pressing the cookie cutters into the veggies.  Also, I opted to not use the purple carrot ‘scraps’ in the tart filling as it leaches pink liquid turning the whole filling pink and unappetizing. (Yep, found out the hard way)  Other options would be to omit the coconut milk and parmesan and dot with goat cheese or ricotta before topping with the leaves.

 

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HARVEST VEGETABLE TART

  • 1 single pie crust
  • 1 butternut squash*
  • 1-2 purple carrots*
  • 1-2 parsnips*
  • 1 large sweet potato*
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 3 medium shallots, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 tsp flour
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk
  • 1/2+ cup shredded parmesan (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste

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  • Pre heat oven to 375. Peel and slice squash neck into 1/4 inch rings.

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  • Using a cookie cutter, press firmly into squash. I recommend using a potholder to make pressing down easier on your hands.

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  • Peel and slice remaining root vegetables, using various leaf shapes.  Reserve veggie ‘scraps’.

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  •  Line one or two baking sheets with parchment paper or foil.  Arrange the leaves on the baking sheets. If your cookie cutters have large and small shapes, separate them as they may have different cooking times. Spray or brush with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt. My cookie cutters are small and I had about 70 leaves.

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  • Prebake the leaves until they are tender enough to pierce with a knife tip, but not so tender that they fall apart, about 15 minutes.  Larger leaves may need another 5 minutes. Let cool.

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  • Saute shallots until lightly browned in 2 tablespoons olive oil.  Add garlic.

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  • Gather the veggie scraps and dice. You should have about 6 cups of veggies. Don’t include purple carrot scraps as they will turn everything pink. Add to the shallots along with vegetable broth.  Simmer 10 minutes with the lid off.  Add more broth if necessary but liquid should mostly evaporate.

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  • Veggies should be soft but still somewhat firm.  They will cook again in the tart pan.  Stir in 2 tsp of flour and then add coconut milk, herbs and parmesan (if using).

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  • Roll out pastry dough and place it in a tart pan, pressing gently into the bottom.  Roll the pin over the top to cut the dough to fit the pan.

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  • Pour vegetable filling into pie crust and spread evenly with a spoon.

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  • Arrange the leaf shapes onto the top of the filling, covering any gaps until entire tart is covered.  Spray or brush with olive oil. Sprinkle with more parmesan, if desired.

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  • Bake tart for 35-45 minutes.  Let cool slightly before cutting. Serve with a crisp green salad.  Enjoy!

Harvest Vegetable Tart

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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  • 1 single pie crust
  • 1 butternut squash*
  • 1-2 purple carrots*
  • 1-2 parsnips*
  • 1 large sweet potato*
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 3 medium shallots, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 2 tsp flour
  • 1 can full fat coconut milk
  • 1/2+ cup shredded parmesan (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Pre heat oven to 375. Peel and slice squash neck into 1/4 inch rings.
  2. Using a cookie cutter, press firmly into squash.  I recommend using a potholder to make pressing down easier on your hands.
  3. Peel and slice remaining root vegetables, using various leaf shapes.  Reserve veggie ‘scraps’.
  4.  Line one or two baking sheets with parchment paper or foil.  Arrange the leaves on the baking sheets. If your cookie cutters have large and small shapes, separate them as they may have different cooking times. Spray or brush with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt.
  5. Prebake the leaves until they are tender enough to pierce with a knife tip, but not so tender that they fall apart, about 15 minutes.  Larger leaves may need another 5 minutes. Let cool.
  6. Saute shallots until lightly browned in 2 tablespoons olive oil.  Add garlic.
  7. Gather the veggie scraps and dice. You should have about 6 cups of veggies. Don’t include purple carrot scraps as they will turn everything pink. Add to the shallots along with vegetable broth.  Simmer 10 minutes with the lid off.  Add more broth if necessary but liquid should mostly evaporate.
  8. Veggies should be soft but still somewhat firm.  They will cook again in the tart pan.  Stir in 2 tsp of flour and then add coconut milk, herbs and parmesan (if using).
  9. Roll out pastry dough and place it in a tart pan, pressing gently into the bottom.  Roll the pin over the top to cut the dough to fit the pan.
  10. Pour vegetable filling into pie crust and spread evenly with a spoon.
  11. Arrange the leaf shapes onto the top of the filling, covering any gaps until entire tart is covered.  Spray or brush with olive oil. Sprinkle with parmesan, if desired.
  12. Bake tart for 35-45 minutes.  Let cool slightly before cutting. Serve with a crisp green salad.  Enjoy!

 

 

Meatless Monday – Caramelized Onion & Brussels Sprouts Galette

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People seem to have strong feelings about brussels sprouts.  They are either lovers or haters.  Well, this delicious tart might persuade some of the haters to walk on the wild side.  The caramelized onions add that mouthwatering flavor (officially called umami) that is created when an unassuming onion is thinly sliced and slowly sauteed to a silky brown deliciousness.  Its a process that can’t be rushed but is totally worth the time.  I also added gruyere cheese, a hard Swiss cheese with a nutty flavor that blends well with the onions and brussels sprouts.  This is a main course worthy meal and particularly festive for the holidays.

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I had a 2 lb bag of brussels sprouts and was looking for a new way to prepare them. when I spotted this recipe in the new Eating Well magazine.  This is not one of those recipes with a long laundry list of ingredients.  You only need brussels sprouts, onions, garlic, any kind of cheese you like (even vegan), salt, pepper and olive oil.  The pie crust is optional, as this recipe would also make a good baked casserole for those cutting carbs or gluten free.  The original recipe called for layering the ingredients starting with the cheese on the bottom, caramelized onions and then the brussels sprouts on top with a final sprinkling of cheese.  I liked the idea of a caramelized onion ‘crust’, so skipped the layering and loved the results.  I don’t think you can really go wrong.

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You might be wondering what the difference is between a tart, a pie and a galette.  Well, I decided to look it up and the answer is actually not very exciting.  A pie is cooked in a pie pan and a tart is cooked in a tart pan, while a galette (and it’s French relation, Crostata) are free form and cooked on a baking sheet.  I love the rustic look of galettes and they are very forgiving. It almost looks like you wanted it to be misshapen.  You will notice that this recipe calls for two prepared pie crusts which are placed on top of each other and rolled several inches larger to make sure that there is enough dough to fold over.  Of course you can make your own crust if you are feeling industrious. Click through for a recipe for a good White Whole Wheat Pie Crust or a Gluten Free Pie Crust, both from King Arthur Flour.

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Onions are pretty easy to slice with a sharp knife. You can do the same with brussels sprouts too but if you have a mandolin, it’s a lot faster.  Just squeeze as many sprouts as you can in the bowl and slice them at the same time.

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TIPS: This recipe is not hard but it takes about an hour and fifteen minutes to make but you can easily do some of the steps ahead of time.  Caramelize the onions and saute the brussels sprouts and then refrigerate them for up to 1 day.  Or you can bake the galette, let cool and refrigerate for up to 1 day, then reheat at 350°F for about 40 minutes.

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CARAMELIZED ONION & BRUSSELS SPROUTS GALETTE

  • 4 cups thinly sliced onions (2-3 large)
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper, divided
  • 5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 12 ounces Brussels sprouts, trimmed and thinly sliced (4 cups)
  • 1½ cups shredded Gruyère, cheddar or sharp Cheddar (6 ounces)
  • 2 7- to 8-ounce prepared pie crusts, thawed if frozen
  • fresh thyme, chopped (optional)
  • Peel and thinly slice onions

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  • Using a sharp knife or a mandolin, slice brussels sprouts.

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  • Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and ⅛ teaspoon each salt and pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are tender and browned, 15 to 20 minutes. (deeply caramelized onions might take longer) Add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, if they start to burn. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute more. Transfer to a large bowl.

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  • Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in the pan. Add Brussels sprouts and the remaining ⅛ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes.

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  • Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Stack pie crusts on top of each other so you have a double-thick crust. Roll out on a lightly floured surface into a 13- to 14-inch circle.

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  • Transfer to the prepared baking sheet.

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  • Remove half of the caramelized onions from the bowl and reserve. Add brussels sprouts and one cup of the shredded cheese to the onions and stir to combine.

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  • Spread the brussels mixture on the pastry crust, leaving a 1½-2 inch border around the edge.  If you are making a crustless casserole, oil the baking dish well before adding the brussels mixture.

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  • Spread the remaining onions on top of the brussels mixture 

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  • Top with the rest of the cheese.

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  • Fold the edge of the dough over the filling, pleating every 3 inches.  If you like a shiny crust, spray the edges lightly with olive oil or brush with an egg wash.

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  • Bake until the crust is lightly browned, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

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  • Garnish with fresh thyme, if using.

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Caramelized Onions & Brussels Sprouts Galette

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
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  • 4 cups thinly sliced onions (2-3 large)
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • ¼ teaspoon ground pepper, divided
  • 5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 12 ounces Brussels sprouts, trimmed and thinly sliced (4 cups)
  • 1½ cups shredded Gruyère, cheddar or sharp Cheddar (6 ounces)
  • 2 7- to 8-ounce prepared pie crusts, thawed if frozen
  • fresh thyme, chopped (optional)
  1. Peel and thinly slice onions
  2. Using a sharp knife or a mandolin, slice brussels sprouts.
  3. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and ⅛ teaspoon each salt and pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are tender and browned, 15 to 20 minutes. (deeply caramelized onions might take longer) Add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, if they start to burn. Add garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute more. Transfer to a large bowl.
  4. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in the pan. Add Brussels sprouts and the remaining ⅛ teaspoon each salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes.
  5. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  6. Stack pie crusts on top of each other so you have a double-thick crust. Roll out on a lightly floured surface into a 13- to 14-inch circle. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet.
  7. Remove half of the caramelized onions from the bowl and reserve. Add brussels sprouts and one cup of the shredded cheese to the onions and stir to combine.
  8. Spread the brussels mixture on the pastry crust, leaving a 1½-2 inch border around the edge.   If you are making a crustless casserole, oil the baking dish well before adding the brussels mixture.
  9. Spread the remaining onions on top of the brussels mixture and top with the rest of the cheese.
  10. Fold the edge of the dough over the filling, pleating every 3 inches.  If you like a shiny crust, spray the edges lightly with olive oil or brush with an egg wash.
  11. Bake until the crust is lightly browned, 30 to 35 minutes. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.
  12. Garnish with fresh thyme, if using.

 

Meatless Monday – Easy Vegetable Tart

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Do you have a go to dish that you whip up when you don’t know what to make for dinner?  Well, this vegetable tart is mine. In fact, I made this last night when I realized I needed to get something on the table. It is easier than it looks and no precooking is required!  This tart is a delicious combination of eggplant, zucchini and fresh tomatoes arranged in a spiral pattern interspersed with fresh mozzarella. Just bake in a hot oven for about an hour until the mozzarella is golden and bubbling.  Every time I make this tart, it looks different.  This time I used red, red/orange marbled and yellow heirloom tomatoes for a more colorful look. Sometimes I use yellow and green summer squash.  This time I also made a more vertical (and deeper) tart by arranging the veggies almost on their ends.  Just place a layer of eggplant in a circle around the outer edge of the pie pan, then zucchini, mozzarella and tomato.  Continually push the layers to the outside to make room for more.  It’s easy and a great way to get people to eat their vegetables.  Hmmm, maybe I need to come up with a Winter Vegetable Tart…  I’m on it!

For the original recipe and full instructions, click through: Summer Vegetable Tart

TIPS:  Don’t forget to salt the sliced eggplant or your tart will be watery.  A quick spray of olive oil before baking ensures that the crust and veggies turn golden and don’t dry out. If you are gluten free, try a GF crust or make this crustless, just oil the bottom of the pie pan before adding the veggies.  Vegans can omit the mozzarella or try using Vegan Mozz by Miyoko’s Creamery.

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Meatless Monday – Zoodles with Vodka Sauce

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Get your spiralizer out!  If you are looking for an easy, low carb, gluten free meal, or if you’re still harvesting loads of zucchini from your garden, here is a tasty dish to try.  The Vodka Sauce is delicious and so creamy, you won’t believe it’s vegan.  The vodka gives the sauce a bit of zip (although the alcohol is evaporated out so this is actually a kid friendly dish).  Zoodles, or zucchini noodles, are low calorie, low carb and naturally gluten free. Check out the handy chart below which compares zoodles and regular pasta from Dr Axe or check out his blog for more info.  Of course, if you are a pasta lover like I am, feel free to use regular pasta, no guilt intended.

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I love kitchen tools like my spiralizer and my mandolin!  They transform homely veggies into glorious pasta; spaghetti, linguini or even lasagna depending on which blade you use.  Dark green zucchini makes the firmest noodles but finicky eaters might not like seeing the bits of green.  Of course, you could peel it first but then you would lose out on a good part of the nutrients which hang out in or just under the skin.  Yellow zucchini (or summer squash) looks more like regular noodles and are generally softer so cook more quickly.  Just don’t forget to cut the zoodles into 6 or 8 inch strips or you could end up with a 6 foot long noodle which only works if you are in ‘Lady and the Tramp’.

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For other zucchini ‘pasta’ recipes, check out these two goodies:

20170625_200431.jpg Veggie Zucchini Lasagne or

Zucchini Spiral Salad1Zucchini Apple Spiral Salad with Basil and Mint which was the original inspiration for the Lady and the Tramp reference.

My zucchini plant is still going strong but my tomatoes are mostly done for the year.  Time to plant some winter veggies! If you are lucky enough to still have fresh garden tomatoes, you can use a couple of them in place of the canned chopped tomatoes.

 

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TIPS:  Not all vodka is gluten free as it is usually made from grains like wheat, barley and rye which contain gluten.  However, vodka made from potatoes, corn or other fermentable foods are gluten free.  If you are having trouble finding gluten free vodka, here is a surprisingly long list – Gluten Free Vodka List from Very Well

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Zoodles with Vodka Sauce

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  • In a large skillet saute garlic, onion and shallot in olive oil until translucent, about 5 minutes

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  • Stir in tomatoes and vodka, and let simmer for 10 minutes

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  • Stir in coconut milk, red pepper flakes and basil. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and let simmer for about 20 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste and more red pepper flakes if desired.

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  • While the sauce is cooking, spiralize zucchini to make ‘zoodles’ and cut into 6 or 8 inch strips, if necessary

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  • Saute zoodles in a splash of olive oil for about 4-5 minutes, stirring often

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  • Serve zoodles topped with vodka sauce.  Garnish with fresh basil and freshly grated parmesan, if desired.

Zoodles with Vodka Sauce

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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  1. In a large skillet saute garlic, onion and shallot in olive oil until translucent, about 5 minutes
  2. Stir in tomatoes and vodka, and let simmer for 10 minutes
  3. Stir in coconut milk, red pepper flakes and basil.
  4. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and let simmer for about 20 minutes
  5. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste and more red pepper flakes if desired.
  6. While the sauce is cooking, spiralize zucchini to make ‘zoodles’ and cut into 6 or 8 inch strips, if necessary
  7. Saute zoodles in a splash of olive oil for about 4-5 minutes, stirring often
  8. Serve zoodles topped with vodka sauce.  Garnish with fresh basil and freshly grated parmesan, if desired.

10 Fabulous but Easy Tomato Recipes

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Are you a tomato lover? If so, this one is for you – 10 easy recipes featuring the lovely tomato. The French called the tomato the pomme d’amour, or The Love Apple, and they believed that tomatoes had aphrodisiac powers.  Believe it or not, but right now tomatoes are so delicious and plentiful that you may just fall in love…

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You may have noticed that my blog posts have recently been few and far between. I have been travelling so much this summer that I have spent very little time in my kitchen.  Now that I am back in California for a while, I’m making up for my neglect with this post featuring some of my favorite recipes starring luscious tomatoes which are still gloriously in season.  There are three different yummy tarts, bruschetta, pasta, salads and vegetable platters.  You really can’t go wrong here… Just click on the link to go to the original post and recipe. Don’t skip the scrumptious Rustic Roasted Tomato Tart which will melt in your mouth. Enjoy!  New recipes beginning again soon!  Pinky swear…

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Rustic Roasted Tomato Tart

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Zucchini Tomato Tart

Eggplant Tart2

Summer Vegetable Tart

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Spaghetti with the Best No Cook Tomato Sauce

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Tomatoes, Mozzarella and Peaches with Balsamic Reduction

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Bruschetta with Pesto and Heirloom Tomatoes

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Arugula, Corn and Tomato Salad with Jalapeno Vinaigrette

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Roasted Beet and Tomato Salad

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Tomato and Eggplant Stacks with Basil Vinaigrette

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Roasted Eggplant, Peppers and Tomatoes with Burrata