Meatless Monday – Chicken Fried Cauliflower ‘Steaks’ and Creamy Mash

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20170730_124206Here’s a vegetarian or vegan twist on the classic comfort food, Chicken Fried Steak, nestled on a bed of creamy mash.  This version has all the yummy flavor with none of the guilt, perfect for your summer barbecue or picnic. Cauliflower, the chameleon of veggies, makes a great couple of center cut ‘steaks’ while the rest is pureed into a silky, creamy cauliflower mash. This recipe makes use of the whole head of cauliflower and requires very few other ingredients, other than spices that you probably already have in your pantry. Now you can make a healthier, lower fat and meat free version of this popular dish.  Its an easy and surprisingly satisfying meal that can be ready in about 30 minutes. You just might lick the plate clean…

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This recipe serves two adults if prepared as directed but can easily be doubled.  The head of cauliflower is cut in half and two thick planks are cut from the center.  The remaining cauliflower is cut into florets and steamed until very soft and then pureed into a delicious low-cal substitution for mashed potatoes. Even though the puree and the steaks are made from the same ingredient, they taste and feel entirely differently from each other, so its not like eating a plate of cauliflower-even though it is.  You will be surprised.

I have found that cauliflower tends to fall apart once most of the core is cut away, which is why cauliflower mash is such a great idea.  If you are interested in the fried cauliflower and not the mash, you can carefully cut a few more smaller ‘steaks’ from the head before it falls apart and then fry up the remaining florets into ‘nuggets’ that are perfectly sized for small hands.  I wish I had tried this when my kids were little.

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Cauliflower is not as nutrient-dense as many of the other cabbage-family vegetables, but it is still power-packed with nutrition. Most people know it is low in fat and calories but did you know that it has protein?  One cup of raw cauliflower is an excellent source of vitamin K (476.2 percent of the RDA) and vitamin C and is a very good source of fiber, potassium, phosphorus, and B vitamins. A 3 1/2-oz (100 g) serving of cooked cauliflower provides 35 calories, 2.3 g of protein, no cholesterol, 0.4 g of fat, 7.2 g of carbohydrate, and 3.3 g of fiber.

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To boost nutrition, I used white whole wheat flour which is a real thing not a typo.  It is made from white wheat instead of the typical red wheat.  White whole wheat flour is lighter and milder in flavor than regular whole wheat flour which also tends to make everything heavy and can have an aftertaste.  White whole wheat flour also retains most of the fiber and nutrition through processing since its a whole grain flour. Regular white flour is made from red wheat which has been processed to remove the germ, which contains most of the nutrients, and the bran, which has the fiber. I prefer to use whole grain whenever possible, however, you can substitute any kind of flour that you normally use, including gluten free flour mixes.

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TIPS: The cauliflower can be fried in a pan or in a deep fryer, if you have one.  Any leftover oil can be reused if handled properly. Allow the oil to cool down to a safe handling temperature. Strain any food particles floating in the oil by raking through it with a slotted spoon and discard them. While pouring into a container, strain through a coffee filter or piece of cheesecloth.  Cover and store in the refrigerator or freezer for up to six months.  The oil may appear cloudy when cold but will clear as it warms up. How To Reuse Cooking Oil20170730_124206

CHICKEN FRIED CAULIFLOWER ‘STEAKS’ WITH CREAMY MASH

  • 1 head cauliflower

CAULIFLOWER MASH

  • 1/2-3/4 cup water
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1/2- 1 cup milk (unsweetened almond, soy or coconut)
  • 2 Tbsn vegan butter (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp pepper (optional)

CHICKEN FRIED STEAKS

  • 2 Tbsn cornstarch
  • 1 Tbsn milk (unsweetened almond, soy or coconut)
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten OR 2 Tbsn vegan mayo
  • 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour (or all purpose or gluten free)
  • 3/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 3/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 cup lighter vegetable oil, (avocado, grape seed or canola, not olive oil)
  • salt to taste

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  • Trim away outer leaves from cauliflower head. Do not core. Cut head in half lengthwise; cut a 1-inch-thick “steak” from each cauliflower half. Set steaks aside.

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  • Cut remaining cauliflower into small pieces. Place in a saucepan with 1/2 cup water and garlic; bring to a boil over high. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook 15 minutes or until very tender. Add more water if necessary. Remove from heat; let stand while you prepare steaks.

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  • Place cornstarch in a shallow dish. Combine milk and egg or mayo in another shallow dish. Combine flour and spices in a third shallow dish. (pie pans work well)

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  • Dredge one cauliflower steak in cornstarch; shake off excess.

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  • Dip in egg mixture

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  •  Dredge in flour mixture, shaking off excess. Repeat with other cauliflower steak.

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  • Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium. Add cauliflower steaks to pan and  cook 4 to 5 minutes or until browned on bottom.  Cover pan to steam the inside of the cauliflower.

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  •  Carefully turn and cook another 4 to 5 minutes, uncovered, until golden brown. Sprinkle with salt while hot.

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  • Place steamed cauliflower in a food processor or blender. Add 1/2 cup milk, butter. salt and pepper. Blend until very smooth, adding more milk as needed to reach the desired consistency.

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  • To serve, spread cauliflower over a plate and top with cauliflower.  As an alternative, you can thin the cauliflower into a sauce like consistency and drizzle over the top or use as a dip.

Chicken Fried Cauliflower Steaks and Cauliflower Mash

  • Servings: 2
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
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  • 1 head cauliflower

CAULIFLOWER PUREE

  • 1/2-3/4 cup water
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1/2- 1 cup milk (unsweetened almond, soy or coconut)
  • 2 Tbsn vegan butter
  • 1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp pepper (optional)

CHICKEN FRIED STEAKS

  • 2 Tbsn cornstarch
  • 1 Tbsn milk (unsweetened almond, soy or coconut)
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten OR 2 Tbsn vegan mayo
  • 1/2 cup white whole wheat flour (or all purpose or gluten free)
  • 3/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 3/4 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/4- 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 cup lighter vegetable oil, (avocado, grape seed or canola not olive oil)
  • salt to taste

 

  1. Trim away outer leaves from cauliflower head. Do not core. Cut head in half lengthwise; cut a 1-inch-thick “steak” from each cauliflower half. Set steaks aside.
  2. Cut remaining cauliflower into small pieces. Place in a saucepan with 1/2 cup water and garlic; bring to a boil over high. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook 15 minutes or until very tender. Add more water if necessary. Remove from heat; let stand while you prepare steaks.
  3. Place cornstarch in a shallow dish. Combine milk and egg or mayo in another shallow dish. Combine flour and spices in a third shallow dish. (pie pans work well)
  4. Dredge one cauliflower steak in cornstarch; shake off excess. Dip in egg mixture; dredge in flour mixture, shaking off excess. Repeat with other cauliflower steak.
  5. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium. Add cauliflower steaks to pan and  cook 4 to 5 minutes or until browned on bottom.  Cover pan to steam the inside of the cauliflower. Carefully turn and cook another 4 to 5 minutes, uncovered, or until golden brown. Sprinkle with salt.
  6. Place steamed cauliflower in a food processor or blender. Add 1/2 cup milk, butter. salt and pepper. Blend until very smooth, adding more milk as needed to reach the right consistency.
  7. To serve, spread cauliflower over a plate and top with cauliflower.  As an alternative, you can thin the cauliflower into a sauce like consistency and drizzle over the top or use as a dip.

How Do Bloggers Birthday? (Plus Recipes)

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Happy Birthday to Me!  So how does a food blogger celebrate her birthday?  Hint;  food will be involved, (too obvious?) and if she’s lucky, maybe some fun and games.  Last week I was in Maine for my birthday and a few of my peeps threw a goodmotherdiet party for me.  This theme was a sheer stroke of genius by friend and party planner extrordinaire, Kerri Eng (KGEvents) where all my guests brought dishes that have been featured on this blog. I was aware of the goodmotherdiet aspect but not what people were actually bringing, so each new dish was a surprise as well as a walk down memory lane.  I’m sharing the dishes that were prepared for the party as well as a link back to the original recipe, so if you feel inspired, feel free to make and send me a photo.

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Our evening began with a sunset cruise of Bear Pond on a pontoon boat featuring Mango Margaritas made by my friend, Rick from the original blog post: Mango Margaritas and Homemade Tortilla Chips with Grilled Pineapple Salsa

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While we cruised around the lake, we munched on a yummy Asparagus Goat Cheese Tart made by my friend, Karen, from the original recipe: Asparagus Goat Cheese Tart Karen was kind enough to make one without goat cheese for those who abstain (cough, my husband) which was also delicious.

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We also enjoyed a wonderful version of my Cranberry Jalapeno Cream Cheese Dip which had been ‘summerized’ by Kerri by substituting strawberries which are so sweet and delicious right now while cranberries are hard to find.  I love how the same recipe can be turned into a seasonal delight just by changing one ingredient.

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Alas, we finally had to leave the lake and head in to dinner where more goodies awaited.

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Dinner was a fabulous group effort. First up was deliciously spicy Salt and Pepper Shrimp with Garlic and Chile.  I believe that the crew of Kerri, Rick and Jason had to improvise with chile sauce since they didn’t have Chinese 5 Spice.  It was hotter and wetter than the original but delicious. Other substitutions for Chinese 5 Spice would be any combination of star anise, cloves, fennel seed, cinnamon, Sichuan peppercorns and a dash of Creole Seasoning, red pepper and chili powder.  You can’t go wrong and this effort proved it.

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But the ‘piece de resistance’ was the Maple Bourbon Glazed Salmon made lovingly by my son, Eric, and his sous chef, Hannah Grace.  I say lovingly because Eric is an experimental cook like I am, rarely following a recipe twice but this time he followed the recipe painstakingly in honor of the occasion with perfect results, even with our finicky oven.  This dish is a family favorite and a great main course to prepare for dinner parties as it take very little fuss and cooks quickly giving you time to enjoy your own party.

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Eric and Hannah Grace also served a platter of perfectly roasted veggies, including eggplant, red and yellow peppers, yellow squash, zucchini and mushrooms.

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No dinner is complete without a fabulous salad like this Caesar Salad made by my friend, Geof, who went to the trouble to make his own dressing and homemade croutons.  Yum! Marjie brought a delicious carrot cake which wasn’t from my blog but then I don’t make many desserts.  Hmmm, maybe that will change…

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Then the fun and games portion of the evening began with a hotly contested game of FAMILY FEUD hosted by our own ‘Richard Dawson’.  The ‘girls’ squeaked out a narrow victory over the ‘boys’ in spite of the fact that I missed the last of the ‘Top 7 Barnyard Sounds’ by answering Meow instead of Cluck, which if you know that I am also know as the Chicken Lady that is pretty funny. (Check out Mrs Vs Rescue Chickens )  In my defense, my mother in law had already said cock a doodle doo so I figured chickens were taken.  Sigh…  Then on to music.  This photo taken before fab musician, Peter arrived.

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During dinner, my son gave a very sweet birthday toast and then asked me how it felt to see so many of my recipes come to life and if it was intimidating.  Surprisingly, I found it very validating as a blogger, especially one who is not experienced at creating recipes (which is harder than you might think).  All of the recipes were a success, even those that were adapted to accommodate seasonal ingredients or availability.  Whew!  I suppose it could have been a disaster, but it was sure fun.  For someone whose Mom always had to scrape up enough neighborhood kids that were in town in July to make it seem like a birthday party, I feel pretty lucky. (I’m sure other summer birthday people know what I’m talking about) Maybe I’ll celebrate the whole month…

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Caramelized Onion Tart with Brie and Cambozola

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Welcome to my new favorite appetizer, which “Hint” would be great for Fourth of July.  This tart has only six ingredients but together they create quite a taste sensation. Imagine  sweet and savory caramelized onions with creamy melted brie and sharp cambozola baked on puff pastry until golden brown.  This tart takes almost an hour to prepare because it takes about a half hour to caramelize the onions, which is worth it.  Otherwise, the preparation is easy.  Just unroll the puff pastry, spread the onions evenly over the top and dot with cheeses and bake until golden brown and melty.  If you are sharing, you won’t have any leftovers.

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You are probably familiar with brie which is a rich and creamy cheese that adds a richness especially when melted. We all know that Brie is calorie and fat laden,  but did you know that it is also a good source of protein? A serving of brie can provide 5 to 6 grams of protein. Brie also contains a good amount of both vitamin B12 and vitamin B2, so it is not just decadent and delicious but actually provides some good benefits. You’re welcome…

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Cambozola is a combination of a French soft-ripened triple cream cheese and Gorgonzola, although it is milder than gorgonzola and more like a camembert with a subtle blue cheese flavor.  You can easily substitute gorgonzola or blue cheese for a more pronounced flavor.  Or if you are not a ‘stinky cheese’ fan, use twice as much brie or substitute any other soft cheese and eliminate the cambozola altogether.

I first spotted this recipe from Your Home Based Mom.  Other good variations would be caramelized onions, sautéed mushrooms and gruyere OR if you’re not an onion fan, try thinly sliced tomatoes. mozzarella and fresh basil for a fresh take on that summertime favorite.

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CARAMELIZED ONION TART WITH BRIE AND CAMBOZOLA

  • 2 large onions
  • 2 Tbsn olive oil
  • 1 Tbsn brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsn balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 2 oz brie
  • 2 oz cambozola (or blue cheese)
  • 8 oz puff pastry, defrosted
  • 1 Tbsn fresh herbs, thyme or tarragon (optional)

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  • Slice onions into rounds and saute them in olive oil and until beginning to soften and brown about 10 minutes.

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  • Add sugar, vinegar, salt and pepper. Turn the heat down and continue to cook unjtil caramelized, about 10=15 minutes. Remove onions from heat and let cool.

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  • Roll pastry into a 10-to-14-inch rectangle on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Prick with a fork all over to prevent the pastry from forming bubbles while baking.

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  • Place onions over pastry.

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  • Dot with cheese. Sprinkle with fresh herbs if using.

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  • Bake in a preheated oven at 400°F for 15-18 minutes or until cheese has melted and pastry is crispy

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  • Cut into squares and watch them disappear…

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Caramelized Onion Tart with Brie and Cambozola

  • Servings: 12 pieces
  • Time: 60 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
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  • 2 large onions
  • 2 Tbsn olive oil
  • 1 Tbsn brown sugar
  • 2 Tbsn balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 2 oz brie
  • 2 oz cambozola (or blue cheese)
  • 8 oz puff pastry, defrosted
  • 1 Tbsn fresh herbs, thyme or tarragon (optional)
  1. Slice onions into rounds and saute them in olive oil and until beginning to soften and brown about 10 minutes.
  2. Add sugar, vinegar, salt and pepper. Turn the heat down and continue to cook unjtil caramelized, about 10=15 minutes.
  3. Remove onions from heat and let cool.
  4. Roll pastry into a 10-to-14-inch rectangle on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  5. Prick with a fork all over to prevent the pastry from forming bubbles while baking.
  6. Place onions over pastry.. Dot with cheese. Sprinkle with fresh herbs if using.
  7. Bake in a preheated oven at 400°F for 15-18 minutes or until cheese has melted and pastry is crispy
  8. Cut into squares and serve warm.

Meatless Monday-Veggie Zucchini Enchiladas

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Love Mexican food but not the heavy carbs and calories? You might like these vegetarian enchiladas packed with fresh corn, black beans, mushrooms and pasilla peppers, sauteed with garlic, cumin and chili powder, then rolled in thin slices of summer squash, nestled in a bed of zesty red enchilada sauce and topped with pepper jack cheese.  Bake in the oven until the cheese is melty and the sauce is bubbling. Yum!  You won’t miss the tortillas (or the calories).

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These enchiladas are seriously good!  I made them twice.  The first time (above) I used corn, mushrooms and pasillo peppers.  You can see that the zucchini slices were harder to roll. (*See TIPS) The second time I added black beans and black olives.  I loved both versions but preferred the second one but I happen to love beans. I understand that some people don’t like or can’t tolerate beans.  It’s pretty easy to adapt this recipe to your tastes. The addition of beans (of any type) boosts protein as well as adding fiber and important vitamins and minerals without adding loads of calories.  Even without the beans, the corn, mushrooms and peppers have quite a bit to offer.  Corn has gotten a bad reputation nutritionally speaking because it’s a carb but corn contains certain B vitamins and vitamin C, as well as magnesium and potassium.  Corn also contains a large amount of insoluble fiber which helps get the bowel going and feeds ‘good’ bacteria in the gut. For more information on poor maligned corn, read this great article 5 Myths About Corn

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I added a dab of ricotta for creaminess and a sprinkle of pepper jack for cheesy deliciousness but these cheeses are optional for those who want to cut dairy or calories. This is a vegetarian recipe but it is easy to veganize.  My favorite ricotta is made by Kite Hill, a vegan ricotta made from almond milk rather than cow’s milk.  It’s slightly salty taste and creamy texture complement the veggies and sauce in this dish. I use it for everything!

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There are plenty of vegan hard and shredded cheeses available for use instead of traditional pepper jack.  Vegan readers, please message me your favorites and how you like to use them and I will give them a try.  I love using new products and I am slowly moving away from dairy.

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TIPS:  This recipe calls for yellow squash because it is softer and more pliable than zucchini.  If you do use zucchini, you might try salting it after slicing and letting it sit for about 10 minutes to soften.  This is also a good trick if you like your ‘tortillas’ to brown as the salt draws out excess water.  If you can only find small squash, use 4 slices instead of 3 to make your tortilla wraps.  Fresh corn is fabulous but you can also use frozen corn.  I don’t recommend canned corn unless that is your only option.

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VEGGIE ZUCCHINI ENCHILADAS

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 Tbsn olive oil
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup criminy mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 medium poblano pepper, seeded and diced (or small can diced green chilis)
  • 1 16 oz can or 1 1/2 cups red enchilada sauce
  • 4 large yellow squash (or zucchini) *see TIPS
  • 1 cup ricotta (optional)
  • 1 cup cheddar, jack or hot pepper jack cheeses, shredded
  • sliced black olives as garnish (optional)

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  • Preheat oven to 350º. Saute onion in large skillet over medium heat until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, cumin, and chili powder.

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  • Add corn, pepper and mushrooms, saute several minutes until mushrooms release their water. Remove from heat and stir in beans.

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  • Using a mandolin or vegetable peeler, slice squash lengthwise into thin strips.

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  • Arrange three zucchini slices, slightly overlapping, and Spread a Tablespoon of ricotta along the center, if using.

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  • Place a spoonful of veggie mixture on top and a sprinkle of shredded cheese.

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  • Spread 1 cup enchilada sauce in the bottom of a baking dish. Roll up and transfer to the baking dish, open side down. Repeat with remaining squash slices.   Spoon any remaining corn mixture into ends of enchiladas.

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  • Top with remaining enchilada sauce, cheese and olives, if using.

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  • Bake until cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbling, about 25-30 minutes.

Veggie Zucchini Enchaladas

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 50 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 Tbsn olive oil
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup criminy mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 medium poblano pepper, seeded and diced (or small can diced green chilis)
  • 1 16 oz can or 1 1/2 cups red enchilada sauce
  • 4 large yellow squash (or zucchini) *see TIPS
  • 1 cup ricotta (optional)
  • 1 cup cheddar, jack or hot pepper jack cheeses, shredded
  • sliced black olives as garnish (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 350º. Saute onion in large skillet over medium heat until translucent, about 5 minutes.
  2.  Stir in garlic, cumin, and chili powder.
  3. Add corn, pepper and mushrooms, saute several minutes until mushrooms release their water. Remove from heat and add black beans.
  4. Spread 1 cup enchilada sauce in the bottom of a baking dish.
  5. Using a mandolin or vegetable peeler, slice squash lengthwise into thin strips.
  6. Arrange three zucchini slices, slightly overlapping, and Spread a Tablespoon of ricotta along the center, if using.
  7. Place a spoonful of veggie mixture on top and a sprinkle of shredded cheese.
  8. Roll up and transfer to the baking dish, open side down. Repeat with remaining squash slices.   Spoon any remaining corn mixture into ends of enchiladas.
  9. Top with remaining enchilada sauce and cheese.
  10. Bake until cheese is melted and bubbling, about 25-30 minutes.

 

Wheatless Wednesday – Endive Salad Bites

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I’m still travelling but back to my kitchen soon… Here is a yummy three bite appetizer (or salad) that is also gorgeous and easy to make. Enjoy!

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Appetizers are the little things you keep eating until you lose your appetite. ~ Joe Moore
I don’t know who Joe Moore is but I’m with him on this.  The way I look at it, you might as well make the appetizer as yummy and nutritious as dinner.  This one is sure to satisfy, or at least start your night off on a delicious, healthy and low cal note.  I’m loving the three bite salad!

I was feeling a bit under the weather today, perhaps a result of spending so much time clearing out and planting my garden.  My raging allergies  have turned into a cold and the best remedy for a cold is soup.  So I made a big pot of White Bean and Swiss Chard Soup for dinner last night, which is a personal favorite. It has luscious creaminess without any added cream or thickener. Click on…

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10 Mother’s Day Recipe Ideas

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For those of you who are still looking for Mother’s Day inspiration, I have compiled 10 vegetarian and vegan ideas to help you pamper your Mom on her special day. Just click on the links for recipes and directions or Pin them for later (See below).

Happy Mother’s Day!-Joyce

goodmotherdiet

Goodmotherdiet Mothers Day Collage

For those of you who are still looking for Mother’s Day inspiration, I have compiled 10 vegetarian and vegan ideas to help you pamper your Mom on her special day.  Just click on the links below for recipes and directions or Pin them for later (See below).

Happy Mother’s Day!-Joyce

20150214_111634Heart Shaped Eggs  Start your Mom’s day with these adorable and easy heart eggs with toast, strawberries and a big mug of coffee. LOVE.

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Summer Vegetable Tart Slices of eggplant, zucchini and tomato alternating with fresh mozzerella baked into a flowery tart.  This is a personal favorite and although it’s not quite summer yet, these vegetables are readily available now or you can substitute what you have on hand.

Asparagus and Goat Cheese Tart5

Asparagus and Goat Cheese Tart  Serve this easy and fast tart with a salad and a glass of wine.  Done!  Top it with cherry tomatoes which will blister and…

View original post 251 more words

Citrus Green Salad with Crispy Quinoa & Cumin Lime Vinaigrette

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With sunny weather finally here, I have moved on from steaming hot soups to fresh seasonal salads and lighter dishes.  This citrus and kale salad is loaded with flavor and textures.  The cumin lime vinaigrette is a perfect complement to the creamy avocado and zesty citrus while the crispy quinoa adds a delightful crunch as well as a healthy dose of protein and vitamins.  Once you try crispy quinoa, you will never go back to croutons and their empty calories.  Even if you aren’t a fan of quinoa, you might be surprised by how different it tastes once it’s been ‘crisped’ in olive oil.

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This is my favorite time of year, when my garden comes to life. The month of May is a wonderful overlapping of seasons.  Spring blooming plants like rhododendron and azalea are still in full bloom and summer roses are just beginning to emerge creating a gorgeous riot of color.

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My vegetable garden is loaded with greens.  You can just see the chickens photobombing in the background.

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Recent warmer nights are allowing tomatoes to retain blossoms and artichokes are sending up their first stalks, so stay tuned for new artichoke dishes this spring.  We will tackle tomatoes later in the summer. when they are ripe and abundant.

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Let’s circle back to today’s green salad.  It’s very easy to prepare with only a few really good ingredients.  I have gotten in the habit of making more quinoa than I need and freeze one cup servings which makes it easy to add to salads, soups and chili.  Just defrost and you’re good to go.  I prefer using red quinoa for this purpose since I like it’s flavor and texture better than white quinoa, but you could also try using the tri-color quinoa which could make an interesting salad.

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CITRUS GREEN SALAD WITH CRISPY QUINOA

  • 1/2 cup red quinoa (1 cup cooked)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 6 cups baby kale or mixed greens
  • 2 oranges
  • 1 avocado
  • 1/4 small red onion (or 3 scallions)

CUMIN LIME VINAIGRETTE

  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, to taste

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  • Cook quinoa according to directions. For more flavor, use vegetable broth instead of water. Drain on papertowels to prevent splattering.

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  • Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet and ‘fry’ quinoa on medium heat until crispy, 5 to 10 minutes.  Season with salt. Remove from heat and let cool.

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  • Wash greens and arrange in a large salad bowl.

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  • Sprinkle cooled quinoa over greens.

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  • Using a sharp knife, remove peel and slice the oranges into rounds and then bite sized pieces.

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  • Slice avocado into bite sized pieces.

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  • Thinly slice red onion and add to salad along with orange segments and avocado.

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  • Whisk together (or use a shaker) all vinaigrette ingredients and dress salad just before serving.

Citrus Green Salad with Crispy Quinoa

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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CITRUS GREEN SALAD WITH CRISPY QUINOA

  • 1/2 cup red quinoa (1 cup cooked)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 6 cups baby kale or mixed greens
  • 2 oranges
  • 1 avocado
  • 1/4 small red onion (or 3 scallions)

CUMIN LIME VINAIGRETTE

  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, to taste
  1. Cook quinoa according to directions. Drain on papertowels to prevent splattering.
  2. Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet and fry quinoa on medium heat until crispy, 5 to 10 minutes.  Season with salt. Remove from heat and let cool.
  3. Wash greens and arrange in a large salad bowl.
  4. Sprinkle cooled quinoa over greens.
  5. Using a sharp knife, remove peel and slice the oranges into rounds and then bite sized pieces.
  6. Slice avocado into bite sized pieces.
  7. Thinly slice red onion and add to salad along with orange segments and avocado.
  8. Whisk together (or use a shaker) all vinaigrette ingredients and dress salad just before serving.

Meatless Monday – Spring Vegetable Tart with Asparagus and Artichoke Hearts

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I spent last week digging a trench in my garden and hauling wood chips so my blog posts didn’t get written-maybe later in the week. Since spring is finally here in all it’s glory, I thought it timely to bring back my Spring Vegetable Tart. Nothing says spring like artichokes, asparagus and spring peas. Here they are featured in a creamy puff pastry tart dotted with fresh herbs. Cherry tomatoes add a dash of color and a pop of sweetness. This tart is very pretty and great for parties or special occasions, like Mother’s Day Brunch, perhaps. Best of all, it is deceptively easy, no pre-cooking or extra pans. Just defrost a sheet of puff pastry, mix ricotta with garlic, feta and basil, and spread it on the pastry. Decorate with raw veggies and pop it in the oven. Gorgeous and ready in 25 minutes.

goodmotherdiet

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Nothing says spring like artichokes, asparagus and spring peas.  Here they are featured in a creamy puff pastry tart dotted with fresh herbs. Cherry tomatoes add a dash of color and a pop of sweetness. This tart is very pretty and great for parties or special occasions, like Mother’s Day Brunch, perhaps.  I made it for a ladies luncheon and it was a big hit. Best of all, it is deceptively easy, no pre-cooking or extra pans.  Just defrost a sheet of puff pastry, mix ricotta with garlic, feta and basil, and spread it on the pastry. Decorate with raw veggies and pop it in the oven.  Gorgeous and ready in 25 minutes.

california-poppy.jpg (500×316) Photo Credit: https://berkeleygardencoach

Spring is my favorite season.   The hills are vibrant green from winter rains and wildflowers abound. Crocuses have pushed their way out of the damp earth and gorgeous camelias are in bloom.  My favorite…

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Meatless Monday – Beet Salad with Goat Cheese and Pistachios

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Roasting beets intensifies their natural flavors and jewel toned colors.  Slicing them into rounds creates a gorgeous base for creating a spectacular but simple salad.  I topped the roasted beets with crumbled goat cheese and pistachios with a drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette. The goat cheese adds a creamy tang that complements the earthy beets and the pistachios provide a satisfying salty crunch. This is the perfect departure from the traditional tossed green salad, although you could lay the sliced beets on top of a bed of baby greens.  Other good additions would be citrus slices or segments, pomegranate seeds, thinly sliced red onion, avocado, burrata or sliced fresh mozzarella.

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The intense colors of BEETS are not just for show. The pigments that give them their rich colors are phytonutrients called betalains. which are either red or yellow, and provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits.  Beets give you a big bang for the buck.  They are vitamin rich, including iron, vitamin C and B6, while also low in calories (35 calories in a 2 inch beet), no cholesterol and almost no fat, so they can be your guilty pleasure.  Speaking of guilty pleasures, this Four Pepper Goat Cheese from Trader Joe’s was a nice extra touch.  However, use any cheese that you prefer.  A great vegan option would be using one of the soft cheeses by Miyoko’s Kitchen which is starting to get traction outside of the Bay Area, so check them out!  I have good luck finding it in Whole Foods Markets.

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Pistachios are one of my favorite nuts.  They are delicious and easy to use if you buy them pre-shelled.  Although this salad uses only a small amount of them, they still contribute more than just flavor and crunch. Pistachios have protein and fiber and as a bonus, contain fewer calories and more potassium and vitamin K per serving than other nuts.

TIPS: The beets take about an hour to roast and then they have to cool, at least enough to handle.  Luckily, they can be roasted a day or so ahead of time, peeled and refrigerated until you are ready to use them.  Or you can sometimes buy already roasted beets for a super short cut.  Once the beets are cooked and cooled, the salad is ready in minutes. Enjoy!

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BEET SALAD WITH GOAT CHEESE AND PISTACHIOS

  • 4-6 beets, preferably different varieties (red, golden or chiogga)
  • 1/4 cup pistachios (toasted almonds, walnuts or pecans)
  • 2 oz (2-3 Tbsn) goat cheese (or other crumbly cheese like feta)
  • 1 Tbsn fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

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  • Cut off beet greens and save for another use.  (They are delicious sautéed in butter or olive oil with salt and pepper} Take care not to cut into the beets or you will lose some of the juice in cooking.  Leave the root or ‘tail’ end.  It’s easy to pinch off after it’s cooked.  If you must remove it, leave a short tail to minimize juice seepage. (I absent mindedly cut mine off without thinking and they turned out fine but a slightly harder clean up.)

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  • Spray a baking dish with olive oil and place the beets inside.  Spray or drizzle them with olive oil.  Cover tightly with foil. For an even easier clean up, line the bottom of the pan with foil too.  Bake in a preheated oven at 450 degrees for about an hour.  They should be easily pierced with a fork but not soft and mushy. Remove from heat and let cool.

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  • Remove the beet skins with a papertowel and pinch off the stem and tail.

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  • Using a mandolin or a sharp knife, slice the beets and place on a platter in a single layer.

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  • Here is your opportunity to be artistic.  I recommend slicing your golden beets first to prevent having to wash the mandolin between colors. Warning:  the red beets will dye anything they come into contact with, so don’t use anything with a porous surface (like wood).

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  • Roughly chop the pistachios and parsley and sprinkle them on top of the beets. Crumble the goat cheese and sprinkle it as well.

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Whisk the oil and vinegar together (or combine in a shaker).  Season with salt and pepper to taste (I usually use 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper).  Drizzle over beets and serve with remaining dressing on the side.

 

 

 

Beet Salad with Goat Cheese and Pistachios

  • Servings: 6
  • Time: 90 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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  • 4-6 beets, preferably different varieties (red, golden or chiogga)
  • 1/4 cup pistachios
  • 2 oz (2-3 Tbsn) goat cheese (or other crumbly cheese like feta, or gorgonzola)
  • 1 Tbsn fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Cut off beet greens and save for another use.  (They are delicious sautéed in butter or olive oil with salt and pepper} Take care not to cut into the beets or you will lose some of the juice in cooking.  Leave the root or ‘tail’ end.  It’s easy to pinch off after it’s cooked.  If you must remove it, leave a short tail to minimize juice seepage.
  2. Spray a baking dish with olive oil and place the beets inside.  Spray or drizzle them with olive oil. Cover tightly with foil. For an even easier clean up, line the bottom of the pan with foil too.  Bake in a preheated oven at 450 degrees for about an hour.  They should be easily pierced with a fork but not over soft. Remove from heat and let cool.
  3. Remove the beet skins with a papertowel and pinch off the stem and tail.
  4. Using a mandolin or a sharp knife, slice the beets and place on a platter in a single layer.  Here is your opportunity to be artistic.  I recommend slicing your golden beets first to prevent having to wash the mandolin between colors. Warning:  the red beets will dye anything they come into contact with, so don’t use anything with a porous surface (like wood).
  5. Roughly chop the pistachios and parsley and sprinkle them on top of the beets. Crumble the goat cheese and sprinkle it as well.
  6. Whisk the oil and vinegar together (or combine in a shaker).  Season with salt and pepper to taste (I usually use 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper).  Drizzle over beets and serve with remaining dressing on the side.

 

Lemon Ricotta Appetizers-5 Ways (Vegan)

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How can you turn one easy dip into four (or five) different appetizers?  Here you go… Make this lovely Lemon Ricotta Dip and serve it with sliced baguette or crackers (or bake it for a yummy hot appetizer).  Roll it up in grilled zucchini slices with a fresh basil leaf, add Kalamata olives and red chili peppers and fill cucumber boats, or make a spring bruschetta with fava beans or edamame and fresh mint.  All are delicious and all vegan if you use my new kitchen favorite, dairy free Kite Hill Ricotta.  It is creamy and buttery just like the original made with cow’s milk but made from almonds so it is guilt free as well.

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This lemon Ricotta dip is quick to prepare and can be served immediately or you can bake it until it’s warmed through for a delicious hot dip.  This vegan ricotta holds up well in cooking and it’s becoming one of my go to ingredients when I’m craving creamy comfort foods. The addition of lemon zest and juice, scallions and red pepper flakes gives the buttery ricotta some zing.  A drizzle of olive oil is the perfect finish.

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LEMON RICOTTA DIP

  • 8 oz ricotta
  • 1/2 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 scallions, minced
  • 1/4 tsp salt (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
  • drizzle of olive oil (optional)
  1. Mix all ingredients together in a serving bowl, drizzle with olive oil and serve with crackers or sliced baguette.  This dip can also be baked in a greased baking dish at 375 degrees until heated through (about 15 or 20 minutes).  Drizzle before serving.

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Take advantage of seasonal fava beans or edamame and make easy Spring Bruschetta.  I was disappointed not to find fava beans or edamame in my local market so I used frozen edamame which were just as good as fresh.  The hardest part of this appetizer is remembering the toasting bread in the oven… or maybe that’s just me.

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LEMON RICOTTA BRUSCHETTA

  • 1 cup lemon ricotta dip
  • 1/2 cup fresh shelled fava beans or edamame
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • additional lemon zest (optional)
  • baguette, sliced
  • 1 Tbsn olive oil

 

  1. Brush baguette with olive oil and toast under broiler for a minute or two on each side.  Let cool.
  2. Spread lemon ricotta mixture on each slice and top with fava beans, fresh mint and lemon zest.
  3. For a low carb, gluten free option, fill endive leaves instead of bread.

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Using the Lemon Ricotta mixture as a base, I added chopped Kalamata olives and spicy red chili peppers to make cucumber boats.  I thought that the crispy cool cucumbers would perfectly balance the salt and heat.  I was not disappointed.  I left some of the cucumber peel for aesthetic purposes but you can always peel the whole thing or leave the peel intact. It’s just a matter of taste.  Chilling the filled cucumber to firm up the ricotta mixture before slicing makes it easier to cut perfect bites.

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RICOTTA CUCUMBER BOATS

  • 1 cup lemon ricotta dip
  • 1 red chili pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 cup Kalamata olives, roughly chopped
  • 2 large cucumbers
  1. Stir the chili pepper and olives into the lemon ricotta mixture
  2. Using a potato peeler or sharp knife, remove strips from the cucumber skin.
  3. Slice cucumbers in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds.
  4. Fill the cucumbers with the lemon ricotta mixture and smooth with a knife.  Chill 10 or 15 minutes to firm up, if you have time.
  5. Slice into 1 inch half circles and serve cold.

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If you’re looking for a more sophisticated (but still easy) appetizer, try these Zucchini Roll Ups.  Grill or broil zucchini strips, then spread them with a thin layer of lemon ricotta mixture and roll them up with a whole basil leaf.  The sweetness of grilled zucchini really complements the creamy ricotta.  It’s really easy but it doesn’t look like it.  You can’t go wrong here. My Zucchini Roll Ups were inspired by The Kitchn

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LEMON RICOTTA ZUCCHINI ROLLUPS

  • 3 medium zucchini
  • small bunch fresh basil
  • 2 Tbsn olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Remove both ends from the zucchini and slice lengthwise into slices 1/4-inch thick using a sharp knife or mandolin. .
  2. Brush or spray each side of the zucchini slices with olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Grill or broil until lightly browned, about 2 minutes on each side.  Zucchini slices should be soft enough to roll without breaking.  Let cool completely.
  3. Spread a thin layer of ricotta mixture on a slice. Place a whole basil leaf on one end  and roll up starting with the basil end (so the basil ends up in the middle like a little flag)

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Lemon Ricotta Dip

  • Servings: 1 cup
  • Time: 10 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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LEMON RICOTTA DIP

  • 8 oz ricotta
  • 1/2 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 scallions, minced
  • 1/4 tsp salt (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
  • drizzle of olive oil (optional)
  1. Mix all ingredients together in a serving bowl, drizzle with olive oil and serve with crackers or sliced baguette.  This dip can also be baked in a greased baking dish at 375 degrees until heated through (about 15 or 20 minutes).  Drizzle before serving.

Bruschetta with Ricotta and Edamame

  • Servings: 24 bites
  • Time: 20 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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LEMON RICOTTA BRUSCHETTA

  • 1 cup lemon ricotta dip
  • 1/2 cup fresh shelled fava beans or edamame
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves, chopped
  • additional lemon zest (optional)
  • baguette, sliced
  • 1 Tbsn olive oil
  1. Brush baguette with olive oil and toast under broiler for a minute or two on each side.  Let cool.
  2. Spread lemon ricotta mixture on each slice and top with fava beans, fresh mint and lemon zest.
  3. For a carb free option, fill endive leaves instead of bread.

Cucumber Boats with Olives and Chili Peppers

  • Servings: 24 bites
  • Time: 15 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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RICOTTA CUCUMBER BOATS

  • 1 cup lemon ricotta dip
  • 1 red chili pepper, chopped
  • 1/4 cup Kalamata olives, roughly chopped
  • 2 large cucumbers
  1. Stir the chili pepper and olives into the lemon ricotta mixture
  2. Using a potato peeler or sharp knife, remove strips from the cucumber skin.
  3. Slice cucumbers in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds.
  4. Fill the cucumbers with the lemon ricotta mixture and smooth with a knife.  Chill 10 or 15 minutes to firm up, if you have time.
  5. Slice into 1 inch half circles and serve cold.

Zucchini Roll Ups

  • Servings: 12 bites
  • Time: 20 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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LEMON RICOTTA ZUCCHINI ROLLUPS

  • 3 medium zucchini
  • small bunch fresh basil
  • 2 Tbsn olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Remove both ends from the zucchini and slice lengthwise into slices 1/4-inch thick using a sharp knife or mandolin. .
  2. Brush or spray each side of the zucchini slices with olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Grill or broil until lightly browned, about 2 minutes on each side. Zucchini slices should be soft enough to roll without breaking.  Let cool completely.
  3. Spread a thin layer of ricotta mixture on a slice. Place a whole basil leaf on one end  and roll up starting with the basil end (so the basil ends up in the middle like a little flag)

 

Meatless Monday – Roasted Artichokes Stuffed with Garlic, Parmesan & Quinoa

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It’s artichoke time again (at least here in California)! Take advantage of the season’s gorgeous bounty when they are freshest and abundant. How about stuffing them with a yummy cheesy quinoa filling and roasting them to perfection? Yum! I may have to make these again…

goodmotherdiet

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My Mom used to steam whole artichokes and serve them with bowls of melted butter or mayo as a special treat. I have fond memories of sitting around the table with my brothers and sisters, peeling off leaf after leaf and watching the piles of toothmarked leaves growing ever larger.  That is certainly the easiest way to prepare artichokes and sometimes simple is best, however, I was looking for a recipe that would feature an artichoke as a main course, rather than an appetizer or side dish.  Most of the stuffed artichoke recipes I found call for some variation of garlic, olive oil, parmesan and breadcrumbs, which I’m sure is delicious, but I wanted something healthier and heartier.  So I swapped out the breadcrumbs for red quinoa which is more nutrient dense, added fresh herbs and several cheeses. I used an Italian blend of parmesan, romano, mozzarella and provolone. The…

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Meatless Monday – Lentil & Quinoa ‘Meatballs’

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Meatballs are a perennial favorite, one of America’s most common comfort foods.  Serve them dipped in a spicy barbecue sauce as an appetizer or over zoodles for dinner.  This gluten free version uses red quinoa, brown lentils and whole oats which make a surprisingly delicious meatball with the help from a few spices and some TLC.   This is a vegetarian recipe with vegan alternatives.

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I have made vegetarian meatballs before using eggplant, breadcrumbs and parmesan with good results Check out Eggplant Meatballs.  This time, my goal was to make a meatless, gluten free meatball that has a similar texture and flavors of the meatballs and meatloaf I used to make when I still used ground beef. I have a frequent guest at my table who is gluten intolerant so, whereas I never worried about gluten before (just empty carbs) my priorities have changed.

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I know there are faux meat beef substitutes  but not everyone has access to them, so I prefer to experiment with normal everyday foods.  In this recipe, I used red quinoa which has been a great stand in for ground beef in taco and chili recipes. Check these out: Quinoa Black Bean Tacos with Chili L:ime Sauce and Black Bean Chili Con Quinoa.

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I like red quinoa (or multi colored), as opposed to white for this recipe because it has a heartier consistency and flavor. Plus the color helps create results that look more like we are used to seeing when cooking with red meat.  I paired the quinoa with cooked brown lentils which add a creamy consistency and raw oats to absorb liquid and give it bulk.

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So these vegetarian/vegan meatballs are pretty satisfying and delicious but how do they stack up nutritionally speaking?  Both lentils and quinoa are high in protein and fiber with virtually no fat. Both are also rich in nutrients. The third part of the meatball triumvirate is oats which also has protein and fiber. Although oats are hulled, the bran and germ are not stripped away, as is common with other grains, which means the bulk of their nutrients are retained.  If you serve them over zoodles, you’ve got a low calorie, low carb, low fat meal that is nutrient rich. Win Win!

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TIPS: I made this recipe twice.  The first time I used cooled quinoa and lentils and oat flour.  The second time I used cold, refrigerated quinoa and lentils and raw oats.  Hands down, the second meatballs won.  They were easier to roll and maintained their shape.  So I recommend making the lentils and quinoa the night before or in the morning to speed things along. The second meatballs also had a better consistency which I contribute to the oats.  You could also use panko bread crumbs which won’t give you the same nutritional boost and they are not gluten free.  Store meatballs and sauce separately for best results.

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LENTIL & QUINOA MEATBALLS

  • 1/2 cup dried brown lentils (or 1 cup cooked)
  • 2 cups vegetable broth or water
  • 1/2 cup red or tri color quinoa (or 1 cup cooked)
  • 2-3 Tbsn olive oil or spray (divided)
  • ½ onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 egg or 1 flax egg (1 Tbsn ground flax seed + 2 1/2 Tbsn water)
  • 1 Tbsn soy sauce or Bragg’s liquid aminos (GF) or vegan Worcestershire Sauce
  • 2 Tbsn ketchup or steak sauce
  • 1 tsp dried Italian seasoning or oregano
  • 1 tsp each salt and pepper (or to taste)
  • 3/4 – 1  cup oats (GF) or bread crumbs
  • 2 cups tomato sauce (optional for serving)
  • 4-6 large carrots or zucchini, or 12 oz pasta (optional for serving)

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  • Rinse and drain the lentils. Bring vegetable broth or water to a boil in a large saucepan,  add the lentils. Reduce heat and cook for about 15 or20 minutes until the water is absorbed. Remove from heat and let cool completely.

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  • Rinse and drain the quinoa and cook as directed for about 20 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed and the ‘tails’ are visible. Remove from heat and let cool completely.

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  • If you are making a flax egg, combine the flax seed and the warm water in a mug or small bowl. Mix and let stand for several minutes until it becomes a gel.

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  • If you are making veggie noodles, wash and remove the stem ends and slice into ‘noodles’ using a spiralizer, a mandolin or a potato peeler. Set aside

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  • Saute onions in a heavy cast iron pan until transluscent and slightly browned, 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.

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  • Put the lentils, onions, egg, parsley and spices in a food processor and pulse a couple of times to combine. Or you can smash with a potato masher. The mixture should be chunky not smooth.

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  • Transfer the lentil mixture to a large bowl and mix in the quinoa.

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  • Mix in half of the oats and try to roll a ball.You want the consistency to feel firm, like a meatball. If it feels too moist, add more oats. I used a whole cup

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  • Put the meatball mixture into the fridge for 20 to 30 minutes to allow the oats to absorb liquid and make it easier to roll into balls.

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  • Take the bowl out of the fridge and scoop up some of the lentil mixture and roll it into a ball with your hands. This recipe makes 3 dozen 1 inch meatballs. Make them whatever size you like but make them all the same size so they cook evenly. Roll it until it feels sturdy.

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  • Place them on an oiled baking sheet and spray the tops with olive oil. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes. You can broil for a few minutes to brown the tops.

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  • Wipe out frying pan and pour in tomato sauce.  Heat on medium until bubbling and then turn to simmer.

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  • Remove meatballs from the oven and place in tomato sauce.  Spoon sauce over to cover.

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  •  Saute the noodles in oil or butter with a pinch of salt, if you prefer.  If you are using regular pasta, follow the cooking instructions on the package. Or you can par boil Zucchini noodles for 1 to 2 minutes. Drain and set aside.

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  • Serve over hot noodles with fresh parsley and a sprinkle of parmesan, if desired.

 

Lentil & Quinoa Meatballs

  • Servings: 36 1 inch meatballs
  • Time: 90 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
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  • 1/2 cup dried brown lentils (or 1 cup cooked)
  • 2 cups vegetable broth or water
  • 1/2 cup red or tri color quinoa (or 1 cup cooked)
  • 2-3 Tbsn olive oil or spray (divided)
  • ½ onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 egg or 1 flax egg (1 Tbsn ground flax seed + 2 1/2 Tbsn water)
  • 1 Tbsn soy sauce or Bragg’s liquid aminos (GF) or vegan Worcestershire Sauce
  • 2 Tbsn ketchup or steak sauce
  • 1 tsp dried Italian seasoning or oregano
  • 1 tsp each salt and pepper (or to taste)
  • 3/4 – 1  cup oats (GF) or bread crumbs
  • 2 cups tomato sauce (optional for serving)
  • 4-6 large carrots or zucchini, or 12 oz pasta (optional for serving)
  1. Rinse and drain the lentils. Bring vegetable broth or water to a boil in a large saucepan,  add the lentils. Reduce heat and cook for about 15 or20 minutes until the water is absorbed. Remove from heat and let cool completely.
  2. Rinse and drain the quinoa and cook as directed for about 20 minutes, or until the liquid is absorbed and the ‘tails’ are visible. Remove from heat and let cool completely.
  3. If you are making a flax egg, combine the flax seed and the warm water in a mug or small bowl. Mix and let stand for several minutes until it becomes a gel.
  4. If you are making carrot noodles, scrub the carrots and remove the stem end. Or cut ends off of zucchini. Slice into ‘noodles’ using a spiralizer, a mandolin or a potato peeler. Set aside
  5. Saute onions in a heavy cast iron pan until transluscent and slightly browned, 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
  6. Put the lentils, onions, egg, parsley and spices in a food processor and pulse a couple of times to combine. Or you can smash with a potato masher. The mixture should be chunky not smooth.
  7. Transfer the lentil mixture to a large bowl and mix in the quinoa.
  8. Mix in half of the oats and try to roll a ball.You want the consistency to feel firm, like a meatball. If it feels too moist, add more oats. I used a whole cup
  9. Put the meatball mixture into the fridge for 120to 30 minutes to allow the oats to absorb liquid and make it easier to roll into balls. Take the bowl out of the fridge and scoop up some of the lentil mixture and roll it into a ball with your hands. This recipe makes 3 dozen 1 inch meatballs. Make them whatever size you like but make them all the same size so they cook evenly. Roll it until it feels sturdy. Place them on an oiled baking sheet and spray the tops with olive oil. Bake at 400 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes. You can broil for a few minutes to brown the tops.
  10. Wipe out frying pan and pour in tomato sauce.  Heat on medium until bubbling and then turn to simmer.
  11. Remove meatballs from the oven and place in tomato sauce.  Spoon sauce over to cover.
  12. Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add carrots and boil for 2-3 minutes. Zucchini noodles will only take 1 to 2 minutes. Drain and set aside.  Or you can saute the noodles in oil or butter with a pinch of salt, if you prefer.  If you are using regular pasta, follow the cooking instructions on the package.
  13. Serve over hot noodles with fresh parsley and a sprinkle of parmesan, if desired.

Meatless Monday -Thai Red Curry Soup

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So you might have noticed that I am still on a soup kick.  It may have something to do with the constant deluge of rain blown sideways by strong gusts of wind.  This soup, in particular, is designed to use winter veggies like sweet potato, squash and mushrooms with fresh ginger  in a deliciously spicy red curry, coconut milk broth. I added tofu for extra protein and millet, brown rice ramen noodles to make a pretty hearty meal in a bowl.

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I love the spicy but comforting flavors of this soup. It’s loaded with vegetables that make it a nutritional feast but also provide interest.  Each spoonful is a different culinary adventure, from the creaminess of the sweet potato, to the earthy mushrooms and the just tender bok choy all swimming in a yummy coconut curry broth.

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What really makes it though, is the garnishes of sliced red onion and fresh cilantro (or parsley if you’re not a cilantro lover), so don’t skip this step. You can use whatever vegetables you prefer or have on hand.  Japanese eggplant would be a good choice.  Just keep in mind that some veggies take longer than others to cook.

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TIPS: I used whole grain ramen noodles which I was trying for the first time.  They had a good flavor and texture but broke into small pieces which made it easier to eat but not quite as pretty as intended.  Rice vermicelli or spaghetti would hold it’s shape better.

This recipe calls for several Thai spices which are easy to find in my grocery stores. I’ll admit that the list of ingredients is pretty long but each adds an important flavor to the mix.  If you don’t have the ingredients or can’t be bothered to buy them, you may be lucky enough to find a curry soup base in your market.  Just add the fresh ingredients and you’re done.

Draining the tofu isn’t absolutely necessary, especially if you are pressed for time, since it’s going into a liquid base, but I prefer to squeeze out the water it was packed in to allow the flavors of the broth to be absorbed.  It makes the tofu more flavorful.

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THAI RED CURRY SOUP

  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 2-3 Tbsn Thai red curry paste
  • 2 tsp red chili paste (optional)
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 13oz. can coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsn fish sauce or Bragg’s liquid aminos (GF)
  • 1 Tbsn lime juice
  • 2 Tbsn brown or white sugar
  • 1 block extra firm tofu, drained and diced
  • 1 small sweet potato, peeled and sliced or diced
  • 1 cup winter squash or zucchini, sliced or diced
  • 4-5 shitake or criminy mushrooms, sliced
  • 2-3 sliced baby bok choy, 1 cup shredded Napa cabbage or 1 cup shredded leafy greens
  • 6 oz. whole grain ramen noodles or rice vermicelli noodles (GF)
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 red onion

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  • Drain tofu on papertowels, cover with papertowels and gently press water out by hand or with a heavy pan.  Let sit while you prepare the other ingredients. Add garlic, ginger, red curry paste, red pepper paste, vegetable broth, coconut milk fish sauce and half of sugar to a large soup pot and bring almost to boiling. Reduce to a simmer. Taste and add rest of sugar if desired and more

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  • Add sweet potato, tofu and squash (If you are using zucchini, add with the bok choy) and simmer for about 10 minutes.

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  • Add bok choy, mushrooms and noodles and cook another five minutes.

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  • Serve topped with sliced red onion, chopped fresh cilantro and maybe a drizzle of sriracha.

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Thai Red Curry Soup

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 30 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 2-3 Tbsn Thai red curry paste
  • 2 tsp red chili paste (optional)
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 13.5 oz. can coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsn fish sauce or Bragg’s liquid aminos
  • 1 Tbsn lime juice
  • 2 Tbsn brown or white sugar
  • 1 block extra firm tofu, drained and diced
  • 1 small sweet potato, peeled and sliced or diced
  • 1 cup winter squash or zucchini, sliced or diced
  • 4-5 shitake or criminy mushrooms, sliced
  • 2-3 sliced baby bok choy, 1 cup shredded Napa cabbage or 1 cup shredded leafy greens
  • 6 oz. whole grain ramen noodles or rice vermicelli noodles
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 red onion
  1. Drain tofu on papertowels, cover with papertowels and gently press water out by hand or with a heavy pan.  Let sit while you prepare the other ingredients. Add garlic, ginger, red curry paste, red pepper paste, vegetable broth, coconut milk fish sauce and half of sugar to a large soup pot and bring almost to boiling. Reduce to a simmer. Taste and add rest of sugar if desired and more
  2. Add sweet potato and squash (If you are using zucchini, add with the bok choy) and simmer for about 10 minutes.
  3. Add bok choy, mushrooms and noodles and cook another five minutes.
  4. Serve topped with sliced red onion, chopped fresh cilantro and maybe a drizzle of sriracha.

 

Meatless Monday -Breakfast Tacos

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I was tired of toast for breakfast, so decided to ratchet it up a notch with breakfast tacos.  I love Mexican food so this was a no brainer, and even though these tacos are vegetarian, they even satisfied my husband who went back for thirds. Warm corn tortillas loaded with Mexican Chipotle ‘vegan sausage’, scrambled eggs (or tofu), jalapenos, black olives, tomatoes and shredded cheese were a great way to start the day. I’m pretty sure you will like them too. We had them for Sunday morning breakfast but I would eat them for dinner too…

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Those that follow me know that I’m not a fan of fake foods, i.e. fake ‘meat’.  I usually prefer to make my own substitutions, or just not eat it at all, so I have pretty much stayed away from store bought ‘meat’.  Luckily for me (and vegetarians everywhere), our choices are getting better all the time and I decided to give the Field Roast Grain Meat ‘sausages’ a try. I chose the Mexican Chipotle because I thought the flavors would be great in a taco. Well, I loved it.  My husband loved it. I will definitely be trying the other flavors too.

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For those like me that don’t know, grain meat is a combination of grains and vegetables that are ground up like a traditional sausage.  The links are encased in plastic, which must be removed before cooking, in contrast to natural casings which are made from animal intestines. Sausage is sometimes enclosed in artificial casings made of cellulose, collagen or synthetic materials, so know what you are buying.

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I have 12 chickens, most of whom have been rescued from  factory farms so I am lucky enough to have plentiful and beautiful eggs from happy hens who have been given a second chance at life.  If you don’t have access to eggs from your own backyard or a farmers market, look for Pasture Raised eggs in your supermarket.  All the other labels like Cage Free and Organic are misleading.  I have written about this before so won’t repeat myself.  For those that haven’t read my egg rant or are still confused about egg labeling, click  HERE for more info on how to decipher egg labels. They are designed to keep people from making informed decisions. (i.e. organic may not mean what you think it does).  The bottom line is DON’T BUY CHEAP EGGS. My chickens, ambassadors for factory farmed animals, have their own Facebook page,  Mrs Vs Rescue Chickens .Check them out. They love new followers.

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*If you are vegan or don’t eat eggs, tofu makes a good scramble.  You can buy boxed tofu scramble or you can make your own using extra firm tofu.  Click HERE for a Basic Tofu Scramble Recipe.

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BREAKFAST BURRITOS

  • 2 Field Roast Mexican Chipotle Sausages (vegan)
  • 1/2 block firm tofu or 3 pasture raised eggs*
  • 1 Tbsn olive oil
  • 1 tsp vegan butter or butter
  • 6 corn tortillas

Suggested Toppings:

  • 1 small tomato, chopped (or several cherry tomatoes cut in quarters)
  • 1/2 avocado, chopped
  • Sliced black olives
  • Sliced or chopped jalapeno peppers
  • Shredded Cheddar or Monterey Jack Cheese (vegan options available)
  • Sriracha or other hot pepper sauce

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  • Remove the plastic casing from the sausages and break into pieces with a spatula or fingers (it’s a bit messy).  Saute in olive oil on medium for about 5 minutes.  Reduce to low. (The sausage can get too crispy if overcooked)

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  • While sausage is cooking, prepare your toppings. You don’t need very many.

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  • If using tofu, follow suggested recipe* or your own.  If using eggs, add 1 teaspoon cold water and scramble in butter until done and remove from heat.

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  • Heat tortillas. My favorite way is to wrap in papertowels and microwave about 30 seconds.  Keep warm in foil or a cloth, or a tortilla warmer if you have one.

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  • Fill tortillas with a spoonful of sausage and egg

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  • Add the toppings of your choice.  Top with hot sauce, if desired.  Goes well with fruit.

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Breakfast Tacos

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Time: 20 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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  • 2 Field Roast Mexican Chipotle Sausages (vegan)
  • 1/2 block tofu or 3 pasture raised eggs*
  • 1 Tbsn olive oil
  • 1 tsp vegan butter or butter
  • 6 corn tortillas

Suggested Toppings:

  • 1 small tomato, chopped (or several cherry tomatoes cut in quarters)
  • 1/2 avocado, chopped
  • Sliced black olives
  • Sliced or chopped jalapeno peppers
  • Shredded Cheddar or Monterey Jack Cheese (vegan options available)
  • Sriracha or other hot pepper sauce
  1. Remove the plastic casing from the sausages and break into pieces with a knife or fingers (it’s a bit messy).  Saute in olive oil on medium for about 5 minutes.  Reduce to low. (The sausage can get hard if overcooked)
  2. While sausage is cooking,
  3. If using tofu, follow suggested recipe* or your own.  If using eggs, add 1 teaspoon cold water and scramble in butter until done and remove from heat.
  4. Heat tortillas. My favorite way is to wrap in papertowels and microwave about 30 seconds.  Keep warm in foil or a cloth.
  5. Fill tortillas with a spoonful of sausage and egg and the toppings of your choice.  Top with hot sauce, if desired.  Goes well with fruit.

Spicy Black Eyed Pea Soup (Vegan)

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You have heard that ‘Necessity is the mother of invention’.  Well, this yummy soup was a brainchild of a recent severe rainstorm, on a day we lost power for 4 or 5 hours due to heavy rain and high winds.  Our lights came back on around 6:30pm so I went around blowing out candles and then had to come up with something for dinner, now that I had no excuse not to cook.  I found a bag of frozen black eyed peas and a few veggies in my refrigerator.  Threw in a few canned items from my pantry and I ended up with a big pot of some pretty tasty hot soup.  I didn’t take any photos because I didn’t think those humble ingredients would amount to much.  Boy was I wrong!  The fire roasted tomatoes and peppers combined with cumin and enriched with a splash of Worcestershire sauce (or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos) add a savory and slightly spicy backdrop for the veggies.  Luckily for my family, I had to make it again just to take photos – such a hardship…

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Black eyed peas are not peas (which are actually seeds in a pod).  They are legumes (beans) and the seed we eat is called a pulse.  There you go, that was the vocabulary lesson for the day. Black Eyed Peas are a good source of protein (at 6.7 grams per half cup), fiber and a host of vitamins and minerals, including iron, zinc, potassium, Vitamin A and Folate.  They are also low in fat and have zero cholesterol, making them an ideal food. They also have a mild flavor and firm texture which makes them a popular choice in soups and stews.

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Frozen black eyed peas are just fresh peas that have been frozen with no additives, so they are my preference if you can find them.  Occasionally, I am lucky enough to find them fresh in the produce section and consider it a great find. For those that live in areas where you can’t get good fresh produce year around, I recommend stocking your freezer with fresh frozen beans,  dark leafy greens and pre-cut veggies.  You won’t regret it, especially on nights where you are searching the kitchen for dinner ideas. Add whatever veggies you have on hand.  I used kale, zucchini, carrots and celery.

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TIPS: If you are using canned black eyed peas, drain and rinse them before adding them to the soup.  Just in case you’re wondering about that slimy liquid with them in the can, it is mostly water and salt  and/or calcium chloride (both of which are preservatives ) along with natural starch given off by the beans.  Some recipes call for the starchy liquid to thicken dishes but I usually rinse because I don’t care for the texture or the flavor which is sometimes metallic from being in the can. Those watching sodium in their diets will also benefit from rinsing the extra salt from the beans.

If you are using dried beans, I would recommend soaking one and a half cups of them overnight in cold water.  Drain and follow the recipe but increase cooking time to about an hour, or until beans are soft.

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SPICY BLACK EYED PEA SOUP

  • 32 oz bag frozen black eyed peas (or 2 14 oz cans)
  • 1 Tbsn olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, scrubbed and chopped
  • 1 large stalk celery, trimmed and chopped
  • 8 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 16 oz can fire roasted chopped tomatoes
  • 1-2 4 oz can fire roasted green peppers
  • 1-2 tsp cumin
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1-2 tsp Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce or liquid aminos (GF)
  • 1 small zucchini, chopped
  • 1 cup lacinato kale, stems removed and thinly sliced

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  • Saute onion, carrots and celery in olive oil until softened (about 5 minutes)

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  • Pour in vegetable broth and add all remaining ingredients, except zucchini and kale.  I recommend adding 1 can of peppers, 1 teaspoon cumin and 1 teaspoon of your chosen sauce to begin. Simmer about 30 minutes.  Add more broth or water, if necessary.

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  • Taste broth and add cumin, soy sauce, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper to taste. If you want more zing, add another can of fire roasted peppers.  Stir in zucchini and kale and cook another 5 minutes.

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  • Serve with crusty bread or a fresh green salad.

Spicy Black Eyed Pea Soup

  • Servings: 6
  • Time: 45 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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  • 32 oz bag frozen black eyed peas (or 2 14 oz cans)
  • 1 Tbsn olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, scrubbed and chopped
  • 1 large stalk celery, trimmed and chopped
  • 8 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 16 oz can fire roasted chopped tomatoes
  • 1-2 4 oz can fire roasted green peppers
  • 1-2 tsp cumin
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1-2 tsp Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce or liquid aminos (GF)
  • 1 small zucchini, chopped
  • 1 cup lacinato kale, stems removed and thinly sliced
  1. Saute onion, carrots and celery in olive oil until softened (about 5 minutes)
  2. Pour in vegetable broth and add all remaining ingredients, except zucchini and kale.  I recommend adding 1 can of peppers, 1 teaspoon cumin and 1 teaspoon of your chosen sauce to begin. Simmer about 30 minutes.  Add more broth or water, if necessary
  3. Taste broth and add cumin, cayenne pepper, soy sauce, salt and pepper to taste. If you want more zing, add another can of fire roasted peppers.  Stir in zucchini and kale and cook another 5 minutes.