Meatless Monday – Roasted Butternut Squash Salad

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Salads in winter must have a hearty element to them or they just don’t work for me, especially in cold, wet weather, like now.  This one has roasted butternut squash, toasted pecans, dried cranberries and salty feta over a bed of dark leafy greens, drizzled with a rich balsamic vinaigrette.  Yum! Best of all it’s simple, just a few delicious ingredients and good for you. Butternut squash is my favorite of the hard winter squashes and still in season.  Butternut squash has a natural sweetness that really shines when brushed with olive oil and roasted, and it is loaded with vitamins and minerals, as evidenced by it’s brilliant orange color.
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This salad is easy to make except for the peeling and cutting of the butternut squash  It is not that really that hard to peel but if you are looking for a shortcut, many supermarkets offer it already pre-cut into cubes.  Go for it if you need a big time saver!  This recipe calls for 1 to 1 1/2 pounds of cut up squash (medium butternut).  Supermarket packages of cut up squash are usually 16 to 18 ounces, which is equal to a small squash but totally adequate for this salad. It will just be slightly smaller.  To make this salad more hearty, you can add cooked barley or quinoa.  A layer of black or green lentils cooked al dente would be a good addition too.
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I used a sprinkling of feta cheese which works well with its salty flavor and crumbly texture.  Goat cheese would work well here too, as well as some of their vegan counterparts.  If you’re not a dried cranberry fan, walk on the wild side with dried blueberries or cherries.  Best of all is the vinaigrette with the balsamic reduction.  It’s rich and really complements the other ingredients, however, the ingredients do combine to a pretty delicious vinaigrette without the fuss of reducing the sauce.
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ROASTED BUTTERNUT SQUASH SALAD
  • 1 1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 3/4-inch cubes (about 3 cups)
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6-8 cups fresh greens (baby kale, spinach, arugula, etc)
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup pecans, toasted or candied
  • 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup feta or goat cheese, crumbled (optional)
Vinaigrette:
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • salt and pepper, to taste

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  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spread butternut squash pieces into a single layer on an oiled baking sheet. Drizzle or spray with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. You can line baking sheet with parchment paper instead of oil for easy clean up.

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  • Roast for 20-25 minutes, turning a few times, until squash is tender.

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  • While the squash is cooking, whisk together all the vinaigrette ingredients and set aside.  Or, if you want a thicker dressing, stir the vinegar and honey in small saucepan over medium heat until reduced by about half (recommended).  Let cool slightly and add the remaining ingredients.  Set aside.

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  • Thinly slice red onions and chop salad greens and add to large bowl or platter

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  • Allow squash to cool and then add to salad greens

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  • Top with dried cranberries, pecans and crumbled feta. Drizzle with vinaigrette.

 

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Roasted Butternut Squash Salad

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

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  • 1 1/2 pounds butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 3/4-inch cubes (about 4 cups)
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6-8 cups fresh greens (baby kale, spinach, arugula, etc)
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup pecans, toasted or candied
  • 1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled (optional)
Vinaigrette:
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spread butternut squash pieces into a single layer on an oiled baking sheet. Drizzle or spray with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. You can line baking sheet with parchment paper instead of oil for easy clean up.
  • Roast for 20-25 minutes, turning a few times, until squash is tender.
  • While the squash is cooking, whisk together all the vinaigrette ingredients and set aside.
  • Thinly slice red onions and chop salad greens and add to large bowl or platter
  • Allow squash to cool and then add to salad greens
  • Top with dried cranberries, pecans and crumbled feta. Drizzle with vinaigrette.
TIPS: This salad is easy to make except for the peeling and cutting of the butternut squash  An easy shortcut is to buy pre-cut squash which is a great timesaver but a bit more expensive.  To make this salad more hearty, you can add cooked barley or quinoa.

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.

Portobello Wellington (Vegan)

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

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

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

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

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

 

PORTOBELLO WELLINGTON

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  • Arrange mushrooms on top of lentils, cap side up

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Portobello Wellington

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

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

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

Meatless Monday – 12 Trader Joe’s Favorites

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You have heard of Oprah’s Favorite Things.  Well this is not that.  I can’t give you a free car or a surprise gift under your seat, more like several fun and easy vegan and vegetarian cooking hacks and ideas for quick and easy appetizers and meals.  People are often surprised when they come over and I haven’t made everything that I’m serving.  However, I love a good shortcut just as well as anyone.  So when I see something that I really like that saves me time or is an easy presto-chango dish that I can put on the table at the last minute, I’m all in.  It’s always nice to have a few tricks up our sleeves (or in our freezers), especially with the holidays already here.

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Okay, it’s actually 13 favorites plus a bonus.  I just miscounted and didn’t want to remake the collage.  Trader Joe’s has quite a few frozen foods that are actually really high quality and an excellent selection of vegetarian and vegan foods.  They also have the best selection of nuts, cheeses and snacks as well as some good prepared foods for when you REALLY don’t even want to turn on the oven.  Here is a list of some of my current favorites and some suggestions.  My top five that I always have in my refrigerator/freezer are Starred.  Oh, by the way, I’m not getting paid to mention Trader Joe’s products.  I’m just sharing because I like you and its the season of giving.

  1. VEGETABLE BIRD’S NESTS (VEGAN)*
  2. BANH MI INSPIRED NOODLE BOWL (VEGETARIAN/DRESSING HAS EGGS)
  3. THAI VEGETABLE GYOZA(VEGAN)*
  4. FIVE CHEESE GREEK SPIRAL (VEGETARIAN)*
  5. MIDEAST STYLE FEAST (VEGAN)*
  6. EGGPLANT CUTLETS (VEGAN)
  7. MEATLESS MEATBALLS (VEGAN)
  8. SEEDY ALMOND SALAD TOPPERS (VEGAN)
  9. CARAMELIZED ONION AND FETA BITES (VEGETARIAN)
  10. CAULIFLOWER AND BROCCOLI VEGGIE PATTIES(VEGETARIAN/EGGWHITES)
  11. FRENCH ONION SOUP (VEGETARIAN)
  12. BUTTERNUT SQUASH MAC AND CHEESE (VEGETARIAN)
  13. VEGETARIAN SAMOSAS (VEGAN)*
  14. BONUS! PUMPKIN SPICE ALMOND BEVERAGE.  JUST IN TIME FOR THE HOLIDAYS!

SCROLL DOWN FOR PHOTOS, DESCRIPTIONS AND SERVING SUGGESTIONS.

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  1. VEGETABLE BIRD’S NESTS (VEGAN):  These tasty treats are like a potato latke on steroids but with kale and other vegetables rather than potatoes.  They are crispy and delicious and come with their own soy dipping sauce.  Ready in 20 minutes.

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And here is the finished product…great as an appetizer or a side dish.  Especially great for your non-dairy friends. Buy two boxes, just because.  You can thank me later.

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2. BANH MI INSPIRED NOODLE BOWL (VEGETARIAN/DRESSING HAS EGGS)  I love this combination of ingredients which are well balanced with lots of protein.  The dressing is really good too.  This is large enough for two meals for me but you may devour the whole thing in one sitting.

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Just toss together with the yummy, slightly spicy dressing.  I like to cut the tofu into smaller cubes for easier eating and better dressing ratio.20181020_123247.jpg

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3. THAI VEGETABLE GYOZA(VEGAN):  This is my favorite Sunday breakfast served with fresh edamame, sliced oranges and the Sunday paper.  Whip up a quick dipping sauce of soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil and sriracha while they’re cooking and you’re good to go.  Or provide small bowls and let your diners create their own dipping sauce. I recommend skillet directions. Ready in less than 10 minutes.

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These are a house favorite.  Really delicious!

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4. FIVE CHEESE GREEK SPIRAL (VEGETARIAN):  Need I say more?  Just delicious and decadent with a wonderfully flakey pastry crust.  I will admit to making this my whole meal. Not on purpose, it just kind of happened. Ready in 30 minutes.

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This will go fast!  Guaranteed…

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5. MIDEAST STYLE FEAST (VEGAN):  This is an entire value meal;  stuffed grape leaves, hummus, lentil salad and tomato cracked bulgar wheat salad.  I love every part of this ready to eat HEARTY feast. Grab a fork!

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This is a hearty meal for one or two people or an appetizer for a small group. Just re-plate and go… and maybe add pita chips or naan.  Of course, you can make it prettier than this with some fresh herbs or a sprinkle of feta cheese.

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6. EGGPLANT CUTLETS (VEGAN) These breaded eggplant slices are a great time saver.  There are so many ways to use them.  Bake in a hot oven until brown and crispy, then let your imagination take over. Layer them with tomato sauce and cheese for a quick eggplant parmesan.   Tip:  Only cook what you are going to use right away.  They don’t refrigerate well.

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Roast and build a super sandwich with your favorite ingredients. Or just serve as they are with a drizzle of olive oil and some fresh herbs.

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7. MEATLESS MEATBALLS (VEGAN):  These soy protein based meatballs have good flavor and texture. Saute with tomato sauce and serve with toothpicks as an appetizer, a slider or over pasta. (Sauce not included)

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  Everybody loves a good meatball. 

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8.  SEEDY ALMOND SALAD TOPPERS (VEGAN):  These were such a great find.  This combination of seeds, nuts and spices will up your salad game and make any salad seem like you labored over a recipe.  Just open one of the individual packets and sprinkle over any combination of greens, veggies or fruit. Drizzle something. Done!

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9. CARAMELIZED ONION AND FETA BITES (VEGETARIAN):  I have made these by hand and they are delicious but it’s way easier to just pull them out of the freezer and pop them in the oven.  Delicious appetizers ready in 25 minutes while you get the wine ready.

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I have had them turn out prettier before, but I was making lots of food for a book group, so may have been rushed as my guests were arriving.  I know I dropped a few while plating.  They are really tasty though and small one bite treats.

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10,  CAULIFLOWER AND BROCCOLI VEGGIE PATTIES(VEGETARIAN/ CONTAINS EGGWHITES) These tasty cakes made with broccoli, cauliflower and potatoes were a pleasant surprise and a good quick little snack or appetizer.  They are a decent size but there are only four per box.   I recommend stove top instructions. Ready in 12 to 17 minutes. Serve immediately for best results.

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I served these veggie cakes with a jalapeno tartar sauce for me and a spicy cocktail sauce for my husband.  They would also be good with a salad as a light meal.

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11.  FRENCH ONION SOUP (VEGETARIAN):  Most onion soups have a beef based stock but this one features a nice vegetarian broth along with the traditional onions, swiss cheese and crouton.  Ready in 5 to 40 minutes depending on preparation.

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Be warned.  There are only two servings in each package.  My husband asked for seconds.  Oops!

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12.BUTTERNUT SQUASH MAC AND CHEESE (VEGETARIAN) This mac and cheese has a nice cheesy sauce and the butternut squash adds some extra flavor (and nutrition too).  Microwave five minutes.

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This is comfort food at its best. Dig in…

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13. VEGETABLE SAMOSAS (VEGAN):  These are seriously delicious!  These crispy triangles are filled with an Indian spiced mashed potatoes, carrots, peas and lentils.  I like them hot from the oven.  They are also a great small size for passed appetizers.

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BONUS! PUMPKIN SPICE ALMOND BEVERAGE:  Start your morning off right with this seasonal, not too sweet, pumpkin spice ‘milk’ frothed into your coffee.  It’s like the holidays in a cup.  Savor one sip at a time…

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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.

 

Tomatillo Salsa

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

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

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

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

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

 

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TOMATILLO SALSA

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

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  • Remove papery husks from tomatillos and rinse

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

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

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

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

Tomatillo Salsa

  • Servings: 3 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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

 

 

 

 

Meatless Monday – Sesame Crusted Tofu

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

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

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

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

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

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SESAME CRUSTED TOFU

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

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

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

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  • Place cornstarch in a shallow pie pan or plate

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

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

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

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  • Dip tofu in soy/sesame mixture, all sides

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

Sesame Crusted Tofu

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

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

 

 

Meatless Monday – 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
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  • 1 head cauliflower

CAULIFLOWER PUREE

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

CHICKEN FRIED STEAKS

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

 

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

How Do Bloggers Birthday? (Plus Recipes)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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.