Meatless Monday -Winter Vegetable Soup (Vegan)

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I love winter soups and this one is no exception.  It manages to be hearty but light and very low calorie AND it happens to be delicious.  The combination of winter root vegetables, potatoes, carrots and turnips with creamy baby lima beans, also called butterbeans, is a winner.  The crispy fried sage on top is the bomb!  I know, you might think you don’t like lima beans but these petite ‘baby’ beans are delicate and creamy.  They don’t have the same tendency as the larger lima beans do to be mealy.  You may be surprised.  That said, you can use canellini beans and any root vegetables, if you prefer.

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As a Meatless Monday Blogger, I was lucky enough to have been gifted with 5 lbs of Green Baby Limas from Camellia Foods as part of the Food for Change movement sponsored by Slow Food USA. Camellia Brand Foods is a New Orleans based company that prides itself on its high quality and standards.  Their products are all non-GMO and gluten free. So, thank you Camellia Foods! All I had to do was come up with a recipe.  Well, half of my first pound became this lovely soup. I have four more pounds of Camillia Baby Lima Beans.  I will send or deliver to the first four readers who request a pound.

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Thank you also for Slow Food USA who spearheaded this project, Terra Madre Day.  (Which I missed because my delivery was late – better late than never). Check out their website to see more recipes using Camellia products by other bloggers or to learn more about them.  Here is a little taste:

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SLOW FOOD USA

Welcome to the table! We inspire individuals and communities to change the world through food that is good, clean and fair for all. As the Slow Food movement grows, we stay true to these core values for all:

GOOD

  • Believe that delicious nutrition is a right for everyday life
  • Cultivate joyful connections to community and place
  • Advocate for diversity in ecosystems and societies

CLEAN

  • Protect natural resources for future generations
  • Help people and the environment depend on each other
  • Promote food that is local, seasonal, and sustainably grown

FAIR

  • Build local cooperation and global collaboration while respecting all laws
  • Require no prerequisite or credential for participation
  • Fight for dignity of labor from field to fork

Slow Food USA is part of the global Slow Food movement creating dramatic change in more than 160 countries. In the US, there are more than 150 local chapters and 6,000 members. Join us to connect the pleasures of the table with a commitment to the communities, cultures, knowledge, and environment that make this pleasure possible.

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So lets go back to the recipe at hand.  This is a very easy soup.  The beans can be made ahead of time and refrigerated in a covered container for a day or so.  You can also make a whole pound and use half for soup and use the rest for salads or other dishes.  Baby lima beans are delicious sauteed with shallots and garlic in olive oil and make a wonderful side dish.

TIPS:  The fried sage is optional but I think its pretty tasty as a topping and it only takes a minute or two.

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WINTER VEGETABLE SOUP

  • 8  oz. (1 1/4 cups) dried baby lima beans or cannelini beans
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 bay leaf (optional)
  • 1-2 large shallots or 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1  medium clove garlic, minced
  • 2  Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 cups vegetable broth (or more for a brothy soup)
  • small bunch of sage, whole leaves
  • 1/4 cup fresh thyme, chopped or 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 large russett potato, peeled and diced small
  • 1 large carrot, scrubbed or peeled and diced
  • 1  large turnip, celery root or other root vegetable, peeled and diced
  • 1  to 2 tsp. white wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

 

  • 20181216_185509Rinse and sort beans, Put the beans and the water in a large pot with the bay leaf, if using. and bring to a boil for 10 minutes.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about an hour. Beans will still be slightly firm. If you feel the beans are already done, pour them into a bowl including the cooking water and add them for the last 5 minutes of cooking. Remove the bay leaf

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  • Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat and saute the shallots and until transluscent not browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic for the last minute.  Add to the pot of beans.

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  • Pour in the broth and add the potatoes, carrots, and other root vegetables. Simmer, partially covered, until the vegetables are just tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Add thyme.

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  • While the veggies are cooking, heat 1 Tbsn olive oil in a frying pan on medium heat and fry the whole sage leaves on both sides. Sprinkle with salt.  They should sizzle and get crisp when cooled.  Try one first to make sure you have it right.  It should only take a minute or 2. Remove from the oil and let cool on a paper towel.

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  • Add the vinegar, taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

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  • Top with fried sage.

 

Vegettable Winter Soup

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

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  • 8  oz. (1 1/4 cups) dried baby lima beans or cannelini beans
  • 6 cups water
  • 1-2 large shallots or 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1  medium clove garlic, minced
  • 2  Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6-8 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 bay leaf (optional)
  • small bunch of sage, whole leaves
  • 1/4 cup fresh thyme, chopped or 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 large russett potato, peeled and diced small
  • 1 large carrot, scrubbed or peeled and diced
  • 1  large turnip, celery root or other root vegetable, peeled and diced
  • 1  to 2 tsp. white wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste

 

  • Rinse and sort beans, Put the beans and the water in a large pot with the bay leaf, if using. and bring to a boil for 10 minutes.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer for about an hour. Beans will still be slightly firm. If you feel the beans are already done, pour them into a bowl including the cooking water and add them for the last 5 minutes of cooking. Remove the bay leaf
  • Heat the olive oil in a frying pan over medium heat and saute the shallots and until transluscent not browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the garlic for the last minute.  Add to the pot of beans.
  • Pour in the broth and add the potatoes, carrots, and other root vegetables. Simmer, partially covered, until the vegetables are just tender, 10 to 15 minutes.
  • While the veggies are cooking, heat 1 Tbsn olive oil in a frying pan on medium heat and fry the whole sage leaves on both sides. Sprinkle with salt.  They should sizzle and get crisp when cooled.  Try one first to make sure you have it right.  It should only take a minute or 2. Remove from the oil and let cool on a paper towel.
  • Add the vinegar, 1 teaspoon at a time to taste, and add salt and pepper as needed.
  • Top with fried sage.

D’Anjou Pears in Vanilla Brandy Syrup (with Canning Instructions)

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These delicious and pretty poached pears could be your new holiday treat! This recipe showcases the pears natural delicate flavor but adding a few spicy peppercorns and anise, along with the richness of the vanilla and brandy to the sugar syrup creates a wonderfully flavorful dessert.  These lovely pears can be served just as they are, or with a dollop of whipped cream, creme freche or ice cream, or with a slice of angel food cake to soak up the juices. Yum!  Of course, if you don’t have the sudden urge to can, you can follow this recipe and serve right away or refrigerate for a week or so.  Just simmer the pears in the syrup (with all the ingredients) for about 30 minutes, until they are tender but not falling apart.

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It takes time to can fruit, but the effort really pays off.  Just open a jar of your poached pears and serve in a pretty bowl and you have a fabulous dessert, hassle free. I adapted this recipe from Put Up or Shut Up , a canning blog filled to the brim with great canning ideas.  The blog name is a cute reference to canning. When people can goods, they refer to it as ‘putting up’ something.  Don’t be afraid to try canning.  Once you get the hang of it, it’s pretty easy.  Just follow the guidelines for headspace (amount of space to leave at the top when filling) and processing (boiling) time.  When I canned applesauce for the first time, I called my Mom for help.  She told me to relax and follow the directions AND to watch out, because after this, I was going to be looking around to see what I could can next.  She was so right! Smile…

There is another practical reason to can your extra fruits and vegetables.  You can freeze many fruits and preserves but then your freezer gets full and there is no room for ice cream.  Frown…  Canned goods can be stored practically indefinitely at room temperature.

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These canned pears make a pretty hostess gift as well.  People seem to appreciate home made gifts.  Maybe because we rarely take the time to make things any more when it’s so easy to just pick them up from the store.  Its fun to snazz  up your jars with a cute label and some decorative tape or ribbon.   For wide mouth jars, I use a round 3.33″ label from Onlinelabels.com.  For regular mouth lids, I use the round 2.75″ labels. You can download a printing template right from their website and create your own label. It’s easy!

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I always have a selection of colorful tape handy to decorate the lid edge.  My colors, of course, go with goodmotherdiet, red, white and black.  You can find the tape in craft stores like Michaels or The Container Store.

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TOOLS REQUIRED:

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Canning Pot with wire rack

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Mason Jars:  4 Quart jars, 6 Pint and a half jars or 8 Pint jars with lids and rings

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Wide mouth funnel, pot grabber, tongs, melon baller, sharp knife or potato peeler

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 gallon cold tap water
  • 1 teaspoon citric acid or 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 8-10 lbs firm pears
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  •  6 cups cold water
  • 1 vanilla bean, cut into 4 pieces (or one for each jar)
  • 24 peppercorns (preferably pink)
  • 4- 8 tablespoons brandy (optional)

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1. Fill your canning pot with 4 clean quart, 6 pint and a half, or 8 pint canning jars fully immersed in the water.  Bring to a simmer.  Immerse lids, but not rings, in a shallow pan of water. Bring to a simmer.

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2.Mix the water and citric acid or lemon juice together in a large bowl. Peel, halve lengthwise and core the pears and place them in the water mixture to prevent browning. I like to use a melon baller to cleanly remove the core.

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3.Meanwhile in a large saucepan combine the sugar and the water. Bring to a boil over medium heat stirring until sugar is dissolved. Reduce the heat to low and add the split vanilla bean.

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4.Place pears in a single layer (you may have to do two batches) in syrup. Cook over medium low heat for 5 minutes until fruit is heated through. Turn once.

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5.Use the pot grabber to remove a hot jar from the water. Put six peppercorns and 1 – 2 tablespoons of the brandy in the bottom of the jar.

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6.Using tongs or a slotted spoon pack pears into jars as snugly as possible (the fruit shrinks while cooking). Before filling completely, slide 3 star anise and one piece of vanilla bean down the side of the jar to make sure they are visible from the outside. Then fill to the top with pears, squeezing in an extra half pear if possible.

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6.Cover the pears with the sugar syrup leaving 1/2 inch headroom. Remove any air bubbles. Wipe rims with a wet paper towel to make sure you get a tight seal and place lids on using tongs, screwing rings on only finger tight.

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7.Place jars in canner covering with more hot water, if necessary,to submerge the jars by at least one inch. Bring to a boil and process for 25 minutes (timed from the boil). Process pints for 20 minutes. Turn off heat,  remove canner lid and wait 5 minutes before carefully removing jars  using the jar grabber. Don’t try using tongs or anything else or you will end up with a face full of boiling water. Place jars on towels or a cooling rack. Let cool undisturbed for 24 hours.  You may hear a pinging sound as the jars seal themselves but you may not. Both are normal.

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TIPS:

I prefer the look of wide-mouth jars, partially because they take a larger label and I like to include storing and serving instructions on my labels. However, canned fruits or tomatoes fare better in the regular jars as the small opening helps keep the fruit submerged. With the wide mouth jars the fruit rises up to the top sometimes leaving you with an inch or two of liquid on the bottom of the jar which does not look quite as pretty.

Poached D'Anjou Pears in Vanilla Brandy Syrup

  • Servings: 4 quarts
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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TOOLS REQUIRED:

  • Canning Pot with wire rack
  • Mason Jars:  4 Quart jars, 6 Pint and a half jars or 8 Pint jars with lids and ring
  • Wide mouth funnel, pot grabber, tongs, melon baller, sharp knife or potato peeler

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 gallon cold tap water
  • 1 teaspoon citric acid or 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 8-10 lbs firm pears
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  •  6 cups cold water
  • 1 vanilla bean, cut into 4 pieces (or one for each jar)
  • 24 peppercorns (preferably pink)
  • 4- 8 tablespoons brandy (optional)
  1. Fill your canning pot with 4 clean quart, 6 pint and a half, or 8 pint canning jars fully immersed in the water.  Bring to a simmer.  Immerse lids, but not rings, in a shallow pan of water. Bring to a simmer.
  2. Mix the water and citric acid or lemon juice together in a large bowl. Peel, halve lengthwise and core the pears and place them in the water mixture to prevent browning. I like to use a melon baller to cleanly remove the core.
  3. Meanwhile in a large saucepan combine the sugar and the water. Bring to a boil over medium heat stirring until sugar is dissolved. Reduce the heat to low and add the split vanilla bean.
  4. Place pears in a single layer (you may have to do two batches) in syrup. Cook over medium low heat for 5 minutes until fruit is heated through. Turn once.
  5. Use the pot grabber to remove a hot jar from the water. Put six peppercorns and 1 – 2 tablespoons of the brandy in the bottom of the jar.
  6. Using tongs or a slotted spoon pack pears into jars as snugly as possible (the fruit shrinks while cooking). Before filling completely, slide 3 star anise and one piece of vanilla bean down the side of the jar to make sure they are visible from the outside. Then fill to the top with pears, squeezing in an extra half pear if possible.
  7. Cover the pears with the sugar syrup leaving 1/2 inch headroom. Remove any air bubbles. Wipe rims with a wet paper towel and place lids on using tongs, screwing rings on only finger tight.
  8. Place jars in canner covering with more hot water, if necessary,to submerge the jars by at least one inch. Bring to a boil and process for 25 minutes (timed from the boil). Process pints for 20 minutes. Turn off heat,  remove canner lid and wait 5 minutes before carefully removing jars  using the correct tool.  Don’t try using tongs or anything else or you will end up with a face full of boiling water. Place jars on towels or a cooling rack. Let cool undisturbed for 24 hours.  You may hear a pinging sound as the jars seal themselves but you may not. Both are normal.

 

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 – 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.

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
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
20170730_124206

  • 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.

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
  • 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.

 

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
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

 20170506_204259

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 – 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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 – 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
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
20170226_201411

  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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.