How Do Bloggers Birthday? (Plus Recipes)

4

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.

20170709_182711

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

20170712_091000

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.

20170712_091105

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.

16174

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

20170709_204056

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.

20170712_090630

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.

20170709_205003

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

20170712_090739

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…

20170709_220253

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.

20170709_225829

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…

20170716_134743

 

 

 

 

Meatless Monday-Veggie Zucchini Enchiladas

2

 

20170625_200431.jpg

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).

20170622_201148.jpg

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

20170622_184149

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!

20170622_185135.jpg

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.

20170622_190236

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.

20170625_200100.jpg

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)

20170622_185727.jpg

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

20170622_192221.jpg

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

20170622_191351

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

20170625_191847.jpg

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

20170622_192645

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

20170622_193419.jpg

  • 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.

20170625_193115.jpg

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

20170625_200100

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

Veggie Zucchini Enchaladas

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

20170625_200431

  • 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

2

20170506_204259

 

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.

20170507_131929

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.

20170507_131158

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

20170507_131321

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.

20170507_131330

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.

20170506_204251

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

20170408_155714

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

20170408_155425

  • 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.

20170506_173436.jpg

  • Wash greens and arrange in a large salad bowl.

20170506_184249.jpg

  • Sprinkle cooled quinoa over greens.

20170408_173941

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

20170408_174818

  • Slice avocado into bite sized pieces.

20170506_184804.jpg

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

20170506_204251

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

Citrus Green Salad with Crispy Quinoa

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

 20170506_204259

CITRUS GREEN SALAD WITH CRISPY QUINOA

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

CUMIN LIME VINAIGRETTE

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

Meatless Monday – Beet Salad with Goat Cheese and Pistachios

2

20170411_201731

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

20170410_112521

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

20170411_164041.jpg

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

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

20170411_201745

BEET SALAD WITH GOAT CHEESE AND PISTACHIOS

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

20170410_081645

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

20170410_082103

 

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

20170410_112051

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

20170411_123535

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

20170411_164029

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

20170411_165848.jpg

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

20170411_201755

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

 

 

 

Beet Salad with Goat Cheese and Pistachios

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

20170411_201731

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

 

Meatless Monday – Lentil & Quinoa ‘Meatballs’

0

20170226_201411

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

20170225_122132

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

20170225_122423

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

20170226_230129

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

20170225_122531

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

20170226_192313

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

20170226_201411

LENTIL & QUINOA MEATBALLS

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

20170226_175130

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

20170226_175054

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

20170227_095004

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

20170226_182547

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

20170222_170654

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

20170226_180645

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

20170225_102455

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

20170225_102526

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

20170226_180904

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

20170225_110924

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

20170225_115343

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

20170226_180601.jpg

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

20170227_095540

 

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

20170226_192313

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

20170226_193111.jpg

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

 

Lentil & Quinoa Meatballs

  • Servings: 36 1 inch meatballs
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
20170226_201411

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

Meatless Monday -Thai Red Curry Soup

2

20170209_185822

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

20170208_185752

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

20170208_192142

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

20170220_101110.jpg

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

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

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

20170209_185705

 

THAI RED CURRY SOUP

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

20170208_185228

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

20170208_190533

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

20170220_103033

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

20170208_192708

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

20170209_185705

Thai Red Curry Soup

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

 20170209_185822

 

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

 

Meatless Monday -Breakfast Tacos

0

20170205_115008

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

20170205_114853

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

20170205_115049

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

20170106_144753

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

20170205_103349

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

20170205_114717

BREAKFAST BURRITOS

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

Suggested Toppings:

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

20170205_101831

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

20170205_101843

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

20170205_101837

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

20170205_110712

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

20170205_102203

  • Fill tortillas with a spoonful of sausage and egg

20170205_114717

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

20170205_102443

Breakfast Tacos

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

 20170205_115008

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

Suggested Toppings:

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

Spicy Black Eyed Pea Soup (Vegan)

0

20170125_215908

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

20170125_184006

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

20170125_220015

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

20170125_192613

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

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

20170125_192711

SPICY BLACK EYED PEA SOUP

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

20170125_185317

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

20170125_190837

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

20170125_192711

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

20170125_220015

  • Serve with crusty bread or a fresh green salad.

Spicy Black Eyed Pea Soup

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

 20170125_215908

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

 

 

Meatless Monday – Hot and Sour Soup

3

20161215_183530

If hot soup equals a warm belly, what about hot soup that is also hot-spicy? As you can see, I’m still on my hot soup bender – and judging by the forecast for seven days of rain next week, it’s not ending any time soon. My husband is in bed with the sniffles so I decided that Hot and Sour Soup would be the perfect antidote. I am a true believer in the medicinal power of soup.  I used to rely on chicken soup but now I’m looking for vegetarian options and it looks like this one will do the trick.  Hot and Sour Soup contains anti inflammatory aromatics, like red chile and ginger, lending some truth to the old saying, that ‘soup is medicine in a bowl.’

20161225_135047

This soup has all the healing properties you need to fight infections, help digestion and boost both your immune system and your metabolism.  It’s also a great way to warm up on a cold winter’s day. The soup’s warm and silky texture feels great on a sore throat, and its hot and sour flavors help clear a stuffy nose and sweat out toxins. Plus the combination of mushrooms, tofu and bamboo shoots swimming in a flavorful broth that tickles your tastebuds is reason enough to enjoy this satisfying dish.

bamboo_sprout2

Photo Credit:  Wikimedia.org

 

Here’s your fun fact of the day:  Bamboo Shoots are not just an empty filler only found in Chinese food.  They are rich in dietary fiber, vitamins (including B vitamins) and minerals, especially copper and iron which are used to produce red blood cells and potassium, important for healthy heart and blood pressure. They also contain 2.5 grams of protein per 100 g serving for the low price of 27 calories. Not bad for such an innocuous little veggie…  The photo above is of a young bamboo shoot just peeking above the ground.  I decided to look it up because I didn’t know what they look like in nature.  You’re welcome.

20161215_183453

I have made this soup once before but this time I’m perfecting it.  It is based on a Tyler Florence recipe which I veganized and added a bit more spice (because I love it). Here is the original Food Network Recipe which was my inspiration. Don’t forget to try a few drops of sesame oil on the top. Mmmm…

20161215_180042

TIPS:  Most Hot and Sour recipes call for Chinese mushrooms like wood ear or cloud ear which are easier to find dried than fresh.  However, any kind of mushroom can be used.  I used a combination of fresh criminy and maitake which provides good flavor and texture. If you use dried mushrooms, pour boiling water over them and let sit for about a half hour to reconstitute, then slice.  The scallions, cilantro and sesame oil are optional garnishes but I think they add a lot.  I liked the sesame oil so much that next time I may add it right to the pot.

20161215_183552

HOT AND SOUR SOUP

  • 2 Tbsn light oil (avocado or canola)
  • 1 Tbsn fresh ginger, finely grated (or ginger paste)
  • 2 Tbsn red chili paste
  • 1 4 oz can bamboo shoots
  • 2 cups criminy mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 small clump maitake mushrooms(optional)
  • 1  block extra firm tofu, cubed
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce (or liquid aminos for GF)
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 quarts vegetable broth
  • 3 Tbsn cornstarch + 1/4 cup water
  • 1 large egg, room temperature (optional)
  • scallions, chopped (optional)
  • cilantro, chopped (optional)
  • sesame oil (optional)

20161215_180042

  • If you are using dried mushrooms, put them in a small bowl and cover with boiling water. Let stand for 30 minutes to reconstitute. Drain and rinse and discard any hard clusters in the centers.  Wipe fresh mushrooms clean with a paper towel and slice.  Pull apart Maitake mushrooms.

20161215_180743

  • Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high flame. Add the ginger, chili paste, mushrooms and bamboo shoots; cook and stir for 1 minute to infuse the flavor.

20161215_181153

  • Combine the soy sauce, vinegar, salt, pepper, and sugar in a small bowl and add it to the mushroom mixture.  Gently stir in the tofu taking care not to break the cubes apart.

20161215_181744

  • Add the vegetable broth and simmer for 10 minutes. Dissolve the cornstarch in the water and stir until smooth. Slowly pour it into the soup and continue to simmer until the soup thickens.

20161215_183210

  • Remove the soup from the heat and stir in 1 direction to get a current going, then stop stirring. Slowly pour in the beaten egg in a steady stream. It should feather and spread out in the broth.

20161215_183530

  • Serve with chopped green onions and cilantro, and drizzle with a few drops of sesame oil, if desired.

Hot and Sour Soup

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

 20161215_183530

  • 2 Tbsn light oil (avocado or canola)
  • 1 Tbsn fresh ginger, finely grated (or ginger paste)
  • 2 Tbsn red chili paste
  • 1 4 oz can bamboo shoots
  • 2 cups criminy mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 small clump maitake mushrooms(optional)
  • 1  block extra firm tofu, cubed
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce (or liquid aminos for GF)
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 2 quarts vegetable broth
  • 3 Tbsn cornstarch + 1/4 cup water
  • 1 large egg, room temperature
  • scallions, chopped (optional)
  • cilantro, chopped (optional)
  • sesame oil (optional)
  • If you are using dried mushrooms, put them in a small bowl and cover with boiling water. Let stand for 30 minutes to reconstitute. Drain and rinse and discard any hard clusters in the centers.  Wipe fresh mushrooms clean with a paper towel and slice.  Pull apart Maitake mushrooms.
  • Heat the oil in a large pot over medium-high flame. Add the ginger, chili paste, mushrooms and bamboo shoots; cook and stir for 1 minute to infuse the flavor.
  • Combine the soy sauce, vinegar, salt, pepper, and sugar in a small bowl and add it to the mushroom mixture.  Gently stir in the tofu taking care not to break the cubes apart.
  • Add the vegetable broth and simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Dissolve the cornstarch in the water and stir until smooth. Slowly pour it into the soup and continue to simmer until the soup thickens.
  • Remove the soup from the heat and stir in 1 direction to get a current going, then stop stirring. Slowly pour in the beaten egg in a steady stream. It should feather and spread out in the broth.
  • Serve with chopped green onions and cilantro, and drizzle with a few drops of sesame oil, if desired.

Meatless Monday – Butternut Squash Barley Risotto

0

20161207_194811 Risotto is so rich and creamy that it seems fancy and somewhat decadent.  Well this version is no different, even though it is made without meat or dairy and I used barley instead of the traditional Arborio rice which adds flavor and interest. If you are intimidated by making risotto at home, don’t be.  It’s actually a pretty easy (mostly) one pot dish.  Yes, you do have to stir it but not constantly.  You don’t have to be a slave to the stove but it is the technique of slowly adding broth and allowing it to absorb into the barley which creates the rich and creamy almost sauce-like texture which is the result of the barley releasing starch into the broth. Starch is that magic ingredient that helps marry the ingredients.  (This is same reason I always save a cup of cooking water when making pasta). The barley risotto is a wonderful, slightly chewy consistency and the butternut squash is sweet and perfectly accented by the lovely ‘sauce’ and fresh tangy sage. The end result is worth the extra attention, however, I have a short cut in TIPS below for those who can’t be bothered but still like the idea of butternut squash and barley.

20161207_180017

Risotto is traditionally made with Arborio rice which lends itself to a creamy consistency but I decided to use pearl barley instead to give my risotto a heartier, winter ‘stick to your ribs’ feel and to boost the nutrition. So what exactly is pearl barley?  Pearl Barley, or pearled barley, is barley that has been processed to remove its hull and bran. All barley must have its fibrous outer hull removed before it can be eaten; pearl barley is then polished to remove the bran layer.  Although pearl barley is not a whole grain, it still has twice as much fiber than white and brown rice. Adding fiber to your diet helps prevent cardiovascular disease and diabetes and keeps your digestive system running smoothly. Pearl barley also has almost four times the amount of calcium than white rice but white rice, surprisingly has a bit more iron and more protein.  Go figure. You can also buy hulled barley, which still has the bran, for even more nutrition.  It may not make as creamy of a dish and will take about 20 minutes more to soften.  To read more on Livestrong, click HERE

20161207_181002

TIPS:  If you like this combination of ingredients but don’t have the patience to add the broth a half cup at a time, just saute the onions and squash, then add 3 cups of broth, the squash and half the sage, cover and cook on low heat about 25 minutes. Stir in parmesan and remaining sage.  It won’t be as creamy but should still taste pretty good.  Since the squash will continue to steam, it may fall apart but that is probably okay.

20161211_173654

 

BUTTERNUT SQUASH AND BARLEY RISOTTO

  • 4 cups vegetable broth plus 2 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil, butter or vegan butter (0r half and half)
  • 12 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cups butternut squash, diced into bite sized pieces
  • 1 cup pearl barley (or arborio rice)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped or 12 teaspoon dried
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese (optional)

20161207_181633

  • In a small saucepan, bring the broth to a boil. Cover, and reduce heat to low. Heat oil in a medium sized pot and saute onion over medium heat until tender.

20161207_182044

 

  • Add squash and sauté for another 5 minutes.

20161207_182723

  • Add barley and stir to coat. Add 1/2 cup of the boiled broth, and chopped sage. Simmer, stirring often until broth is absorbed, about 5 minutes.

20161207_191123

  • Add remaining broth slowly, about 1/2 cup at a time, allowing it to be absorbed each time before adding more.

20161207_191453

  • Cook until the barley is tender but still firm, about 35-40 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

20161207_191507

  • Remove from heat and stir in parmesan and remaining sage.

20161207_191904

 

  • Serve with fresh sage or parsley, if desired.

Butternut Squash Barley Risotto

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

 20161207_194811

  • 4 cups vegetable broth plus 2 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil, butter or vegan butter (0r half and half)
  • 12 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cups butternut squash, diced into bite sized pieces
  • 1 cup pearl barley (or arborio rice)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped or 12 teaspoon dried
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese (optional)

 

  1. In a small saucepan, bring the broth to a boil. Cover, and reduce heat to low.
  2. Heat oil in a medium sized pot over medium heat.
  3. Add onion and sauté until tender.
  4. Add squash and sauté for another 5 minutes. Add barley and stir for 2 more minutes.
  5. Add 1/2 cup of the boiled broth, and chopped sage. Simmer, stirring often until broth is absorbed, about 5 minutes.
  6. Add remaining broth slowly, about 1/2 cup at a time, allowing it to be absorbed each time before adding more.
  7. Cook until the barley is tender but still firm, about 35-40 minutes. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed.
  8. Remove from heat and stir in parmesan cheese. Serve with fresh sage or parsley, if desired.

Meatless Monday – Creamy Mushroom Soup (Vegan)

4

20161129_193648

Calling all mushroom lovers!  My husband declared this the BEST MUSHROOM SOUP HE’S EVER HAD – and I have to agree with him.  I have had some pretty delicious mushroom soups in restaurants but I think this one, stocked with a blend of earthy mushrooms and a rich and creamy base, beats them all.  Best of all it is very easy, ready in less than 30 minutes and requires few ingredients.  It’s vegan too! Many soups are made delicious by adding thick creamy ingredients that add fat and cholesterol and actually mask the natural flavors of the main ingredients.  I substituted the traditional heavy cream with almond milk and veggie broth, thickened with a bit of flour, which really cuts calories without losing flavor.  This soup was wonderful served immediately after cooking, but the small bowl that was leftover that I ate for lunch a couple of days later was even better.  So this is a great soup to make a day or two ahead and reheat when needed.  What could be easier? For other soup ideas, check out last week’s blog post, 12 Vegetarian Winter Soups.

20161129_183432

The stars of this soup are the mushrooms, so choose your favorites but make sure they are good quality. I love a combination of mushrooms to deepen the flavor and add texture.  I prefer brown criminy mushrooms over white mushrooms, also called button mushrooms, since I think they are more flavorful but how do they compare from a nutritional standpoint? White button mushrooms have more vitamin C and slightly more iron but criminy mushrooms are the clear mineral winner.  Criminy mushrooms have twice as much calcium and significantly more potassium and selenium than white mushrooms.  The two mushroom varieties contain similar amounts of vitamin B12, vitamin B6, riboflavin and niacin. Surprisingly, white mushrooms contain slightly more fiber and protein than criminis, although criminis are slightly lower in fat, however they are both extremely low in fat.(Livestrong) So nutritionally speaking, it’s really a toss up, so go with your tastebuds or better yet, use a combination for the ultimate in flavor and nutrition.

TIPS: I have provided substitutions in this recipe for gluten free people.  For more information on gluten free thickening agents, check out this article from SF Gate.  I would like to offer one word of caution for those who are not used to cooking with almond milk, make sure you buy unsweetened, not original flavor, or your soup stock will have an underlying sweetness that is hard to cover up.

20161129_193628

CREAMY MUSHROOM SOUP

  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 2 Tbsn olive oil, butter or vegan butter ( like half oil half butter)
  • 1 carton criminy or brown mushrooms (about 10 oz or 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 carton Portobello mushrooms (2 large or 10 small)
  • 1 generous Tbsn flour (or cornstarch, arrowroot or tapioca flour for GF)
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme leaves (or 1 tsp dried)
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1-2 cups almond or cashew milk (unsweetened)
  • 2 tsp soy sauce (or liquid aminos for GF)
  • salt and pepper to taste

20161129_183344

  • Saute onion in olive oil or butter in a large soup pot until translucent.

20161129_183432

  • Wipe mushrooms with a damp papertowel.  Don’t rinse or they will get soggy.  Cut smaller mushrooms in half and slice larger mushrooms. Really large Portobello slices might need to be cut in half.

20161129_184850

  • Add mushrooms to onion mixture and saute about 5 minutes or until the mushrooms start to lose their water.

20161129_184943

  • Stir in flour until absorbed by the juices and add thyme.  Let cook several minutes.  If you like really thick soups, add another tablespoon of flour.

20161129_185133

  • Add vegetable broth, soy sauce and 1 cup almond milk and stir to combine.  If you want it creamier, add the remaining almond milk.Cook about 10 to 15 minutes stirring occasionally until soup thickens and flavors develop.   If your soup is not as thick as you would like, dissolve another tablespoon of flour in a quarter cup of water, stir in and allow to simmer. Taste (as broths can vary in saltiness) and add salt and pepper as needed.

20161129_193622

  • Serve hot with a sprig of fresh thyme

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

20161129_193648 

  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 2 Tbsn olive oil, butter or vegan butter
  • 1 carton criminy or brown mushrooms (about 10 oz or 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 carton Portobello mushrooms (2 large or 10 small)
  • 1 generous Tbsn flour (cornstarch, arrowroot or tapioca flour for GF)
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme leaves (or 1 tsp dried)
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1-2 cups almond or cashew milk (unsweetened)
  • 2 tsp soy sauce (or liquid aminos for GF)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Saute onion in olive oil or butter in a large soup pot until translucent.
  2. Wipe mushrooms with a damp papertowel.  Don’t rinse or they will get soggy.  Cut smaller mushrooms in half and slice larger mushrooms. Large Portobello slices might need to be cut in half.
  3. Add mushrooms to onion mixture and saute about 5 minutes or until the mushrooms start to lose their water.
  4. Stir in flour until absorbed by the juices and add thyme.  Let cook several minutes
  5. Add vegetable broth and 1 cup almond milk and stir to combine.  If you want it creamier, add the remaining almond milk.
  6. Cook about 10 to 15 minutes stirring occasionally until soup thickens and flavors develop. If your soup is not as thick as you would like, dissolve another tablespoon of flour in a quarter cup of water, stir in and allow to simmer 10 more minutes. Taste (as broths can vary in saltiness) and add salt and pepper as needed.
  7. Serve hot with a sprig of fresh thyme

 

12 Vegetarian Thanksgiving Recipes

7

picmonkey-collage

Thanksgiving is celebrated as a day of giving thanks for the blessing of the harvest, and in that spirit our festivities rightly revolve around food and lots of it.  I have collected a dozen of my favorite vegetarian and vegan dishes which would be perfect for your Thanksgiving dinner as main courses or side dishes. In keeping with the theme, most of them are stuffed or roasted and they are all deliciously vegan or vegetarian (that can easily be made vegan). I have thrown in a couple of my favorite seasonal salads to complement the roasted dishes and add a splash of color to your festive table.

Luckily, most of these recipes are healthy and naturally low fat so won’t add to the ‘winter layer’ we seem to start putting on this time of year. Clicking on any link will take you to the recipe and original blog post. Next week I will post a collection of My Favorite Soups so check back or Follow so you don’t miss it. Lots of sharing buttons below too… Share with your friends!

Happy Thanksgiving!  xoxo J

 

Acorn Squash with Wild Rice Stuffing

Roasted Acorn Squash with Wild Rice Stuffing

Brussels Sprouts1

Shaved Brussels Sprouts with Crispy Shallots and Toasted Pinenuts

20161030_182005

Mason Jar Veggie Pot Pies (Vegan)

Acorn Slices1

Acorn Squash Rings with Cornbread Stuffing

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers3

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

Root Vegetable Tian3

Root Vegetable Tian with Goat Cheese and Crispy Shallots

20151117_203702

Wild Rice, Mushroom and ‘Sausage’ Stuffed Pumpkin

Roasted Acorn Squash1

Roasted Maple Glazed Acorn Squash with Apples and Pecans over Rainbow Quinoa

20160102_194635

Roasted Artichokes Stuffed with Garlic, Parmesan and Quinoa

20151019_193128

Spice Crusted Whole Roasted Cauliflower

20151101_200735

Honey Glazed Winter Squash with Pomegranate

20151201_195204

Portobello Mushrooms Stuffed with Eggplant, Tomatoes and Mozzarella

20160522_152218

Kale Salad with Apples, Pecans and Goat Cheese

Black Rice Dish

Black and Wild Rice with Roasted Squash and Pomegranate

 

 

 

Mason Jar Veggie Pot Pies (Vegan)

6

 

20161030_202008

Pot pies are the ultimate in cold weather comfort foods and these mini pies baked into mason jars are adorably delicious and a festive, fun dinner or party idea.  They also made the house smell heavenly and feel warm and cozy on a dreary, rainy day.  These mini pies are filled with a savory blend of potatoes, mushrooms, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli and peas in a creamy vegan sauce made with veggie broth and almond milk. Mini pies are an easy way to make individual servings, especially for busy families who may not eat dinner at the same time.  This recipe makes eight individual pot pies so eat four now and freeze four for another meal (although my husband ate two, just FYI).

20161030_182005

The big decision is doing a top and bottom crust or just the top.  My Mom used to buy frozen pot pies for us and I clearly remember when Swanson switched to top crust only.  It was a huge let down for me, obviously as I still remember.  So I decided to do half with a bottom crust and half without.  My personal opinion is that the bottom crust is unnecessary in such a small pot pie and the bottomless pies have more savory filling.  So perhaps my tastes have changed over the years.

20161030_160912

TIPS:  There are several ways to take shortcuts when making pot pies.  The easiest is to start with a prepared crust, although for those that prefer to make their own, I like a recipe for White Whole Wheat Pie Crust from King Arthur Flour.  Incidentally, if you are using a prepared pie crust, the 2 crusts are enough dough for 8 top crusts and four bottoms. Another shortcut is to use frozen prechopped vegetables, Just saute for about 5 minutes before filling the pies. These veggie pot pies can be frozen before cooking and popped in the oven later.

20161030_181959

MASON JAR VEGGIE POT PIES

  • pie crust, enough for top and bottom of regular pie *see TIPS
  • 2 Tbsn olive oil
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1 large carrot, sliced
  • 2 Tbsn flour (0r 0ther thickener)
  • 1 large russet potato, peeled and diced
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup almond or coconut milk, unsweetened
  • 1 tsp thyme + 1/2 tsp oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup cauliflower florets
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 6 large criminy or baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen peas
  • 1 small egg, egg substitute, melted vegan butter or almond milk with a dash of agave (for eggwash)
  • 8 small mason jars and 1 lid (or ramekins)

20161030_170605

  • If you are using homemade pie crust, roll out dough to quarter inch thickness and cut into 8- 6 inch circles, if making a bottom crust. If you are using a prepared crust, cut one of the circles into quarters.

20161030_170937

  • Line mason jars with the dough, pressing with your fingers to spread or omit this step if just using top crust.

20161030_170307

  • Then using a mason jar lid, cut 8 circle toppers with the other crust.  Reserve remaining dough for garnish.

20161030_162631

 

 

  • Saute onion in olive oil for several minutes, then add celery and carrots and saute another five minutes.

20161030_163324

 

  • Stir in flour and slowly add broth, then the almond milk and simmer until it thickens another 5 minutes.  If it’s not as thick as you like, add another tablespoon flour (best done by dissolving in water first to prevent lumps).  If you like a creamier sauce, use a larger proportion of almond milk.

20161030_163932

  • Add potatoes and spices while the sauce is thickening and simmer 5 minutes or so. Check taste before adding salt.

20161030_165857

  • Add cauliflower and broccoli florets and simmer five minutes.

20161030_165955

  • Add mushrooms and peas and simmer just until mushrooms lose their water.

20161030_171834

  • Spoon filling to top of mason jars

20161030_172041

  • Top each pie with a crust circle and crimp the edges with a fork.

20161030_173524

  • Brush with egg wash of choice

20161030_173819

  • Roll out leftover dough and cut out 8 shapes with cookie cutters, if desired.  If you don’t have leftover dough, you can also cut out shapes leaving a decorative hole in the crust. Hearts or stars are cute options.

20161030_173617

  • Using a sharp knife, ‘draw’ on lines to recreate the suggestion of stems, if desired.

20161030_174353

  • Place cut outs on top and brush with eggwash.

20161030_181959

  • Bake at 425 for 30 minutes

20161030_182005

  • Let cool slightly before serving.

20161031_111101

Mason Jar Veggie Pot Pies

  • Servings: 8 pies
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

20161030_182005

  • pie crust, enough for top and bottom of regular pie *see TIPS
  • 2 Tbsn olive oil
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1 large carrot, sliced
  • 2 Tbsn flour (0r 0ther thickener)
  • 1 large russet potato, peeled and diced
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup almond or coconut milk, unsweetened
  • 1 tsp thyme/1/2 tsp oregano
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup cauliflower florets
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 6 large criminy or baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen peas
  • 1 small egg, egg substitute, melted vegan butter or almond milk with a dash of agave (for eggwash)
  • 8 small mason jars and 1 lid
  • If you are using homemade pie crust, roll out dough to quarter inch thickness and cut into 8- 6 inch circles, if making a bottom crust. If you are using a prepared crust, cut one of the circles into quarters and line mason jars with the dough, pressing with your fingers to spread. Then using a mason jar lid, cut 8 circle toppers with the other crust.  Reserve remaining dough for garnish.
  • Saute onion in olive oil for several minutes, then add celery and carrots and saute another five minutes.
  • Stir in flour and slowly add broth, then the almond milk and simmer until it thickens another 5 minutes.  If it’s not as thick as you like, add another tablespoon flour (best done by dissolving in water first to prevent lumps).If you like a creamier sauce, use a larger proportion of almond milk.
  • Add potatoes and spices and continue to thicken another 10 minutes. Taste before adding salt and pepper.
  • Add cauliflower and broccoli florets and simmer five minutes.
  • Add mushrooms and peas and saute just until mushrooms lose their water.
  • Spoon filling to top of mason jars
  • Top each pie with a crust circle and crimp the edges with a fork.
  • Brush with egg wash of choice
  • Roll out leftover dough and cut out 8 shapes with cookie cutters, if desired.  If you don’t have leftover dough, you can also cut out shapes leaving a decorative hole in the crust.
  • Place cut outs on top and brush with eggwash.
  • Bake at 425 for 30 minutes
  • Let cool slightly before serving.

Meatless Monday – Fall Harvest Minestrone

0

20161015_123034

It’s been raining outside, so… soup.  I actually could have called this ‘Stone Soup’ from the old children’s fable, because it’s less of a recipe than a gathering of what was readily available from my pantry; like the last of the tomatoes and zucchini from the garden paired with root vegetables and winter squash.  I know several people, like me, who hastily gathered the last of summer’s bounty from our gardens before the season’s first storm hit. This minestrone is a broth based soup so it isn’t heavy but it is hearty and filling with the addition of potato, butternut squash and cannellini beans.

20161015_125926 Fall is a fabulous time for food. It’s a collision of the best of summer and the emergence of hard squashes and root vegetables.  This broth based soup is relatively low in calories, cholesterol and fat but still densely nutritious. Cannellini beans add protein, calcium and iron.  Butternut squash is an excellent provider of Vitamin A and potatoes (wrongfully maligned) is a surprisingly good source of Vitamin C.  The more vegetables you include in your soup will result in a better array of vitamins, minerals, protein and fiber.  However, the best thing about soup is that it just makes you feel good and warm inside.

20161010_183004

TIPS: Canned tomatoes make an easy shortcut but if you are trying to use up fresh tomatoes, you can just dice them to make about 2 cups.  If you don’t like tomato skins, just blanch the whole tomatoes in boiling water for about a minute or until you see the skin split.  Then they are easy to peel, seed and dice. Feel free to use whatever fresh vegetables that are available. Try substituting other root vegetables or various types of squash. The more colors you see, the better.

20161015_122821

HARVEST MINESTRONE

1/2 large onion, chopped
1 large carrot, scrubbed and cut into half circles
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 Tbsn olive oil
1 large potato, peeled and diced
1/2 small butternut squash, peeled and diced
2 zucchini or summer squash, diced
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes (or fresh, see TIPS)
1 Tbsn fresh oregano or thyme (or 1 tsp dried)
6 cups vegetable broth
parsley (for garnish) optional
parmesan (for garnish) optional

20161010_182247

  • Saute onions, carrots and celery in olive oil in a large soup pot until soft.

20161010_183136

  • Add broth, potatoes and spices and simmer about 10 minutes.

20161010_204352

  • Add squashes, tomatoes and cannellini beans and simmer another 10-15 minutes.

20161015_122826

  • Ladle into bowls and serve with fresh parsley and a sprinkle of parmesan, if desired.

Harvest Minestrone

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

20161015_122826

1/2 large onion, chopped
1 large carrot, scrubbed
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 Tbsn olive oil
1 large potato, peeled and diced
1/2 small butternut squash, peeled and diced
2 zucchini or summer squash, diced
1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 can diced tomatoes (or fresh, see TIPS)
1 Tbsn fresh oregano or thyme (or 1 tsp dried)
6 cups vegetable broth
parsley (for garnish) optional
parmesan (for garnish) optional

  • Saute onions, carrots and celery in olive oil in a large soup pot until soft.
  • Add broth, potatoes, tomatoes and spices and simmer about 10 minutes.
  • Add squashes and cannellini beans and simmer another 10=15 minutes.
  • Ladle into bowls and serve with fresh parsley and a sprinkle of parmesan, if desired.

Meatless Monday – Veggie Tofu Spring Rolls with Asian Dipping Sauce

4

20161009_162759

If you’re looking for a new take on salad, these spring rolls are far from boring and the dipping sauce made with almondbutter is so good you might find yourself using it on everything! I took advantage of the gorgeous colors of the season with striped Chiogga beets and pink radish, which are surprisingly sweet raw when thinly sliced. They also create a fun splash of color on your plate.  Shredded carrot and purple cabbage and sliced avocado add more crazy color and texture.  I added crispy tofu for a protein boost and to make them worthy of a main course, but you can make them all veggie or add rice noodles if you prefer.  Best of all, they can be tailored for personal tastes.

20161008_181715

I saw a version of these Psychedelic Spring Rolls on Pinterest by @erinireland and couldn’t wait to give them a whirl, of course with my own spin. I love their vibrant and crazy colors which border on the unnatural but is actually the complete opposite, as all ingredients are fresh and organic.  If you use seasonal veggies, the wonderful colors and flavors will be different throughout the year depending on what is available.

20161008_174520

I have never used rice wrappers before and I must admit that it takes a few tries to perfect the technique.  The nice thing about them though, is that they are a fun alternative to tortillas or bread and they are gluten and cholesterol free and low calorie to boot. In addition, they are clear so they really showcase your yummy fillings.

20161009_123111

TIPS:  Have all ingredients ready before immersing the rice wrappers in hot water to soften.  Practice on one or two to perfect the wrapping technique and make sure to fold in the sides before the top and bottom.  They will feel sticky at first but that will go away as they dry. If you are using shredded veggies, make sure they are going in the same directions (up and down) instead of crosswise to prevent them from poking out or ripping the wrapper.  Add additional hot pepper sauce for a spicier sauce. Be creative!

20161009_162759

VEGGIE TOFU SPRING ROLLS WITH ASIAN DIPPING SAUCE

8 rice paper wraps
1 block organic extra firm tofu
1 cup purple cabbage, shredded
2 large carrots, shredded
1-2 avocados, sliced lengthwise
1 Chiogga beet, thinly sliced
1 radish, thinly sliced
small handful fresh mint and/or parsley, chopped (optional)

ASIAN DIPPING SAUCE
1/4 cup almond butter (or creamy peanut butter)
2 Tbsn water
2 Tbsn rice vinegar
2 Tbsn soy sauce (or gluten free aminos)
1-2 tsp hot sesame oil(or regular)
1/4-1/2 tsp grated ginger or ginger paste

20161008_145342

  • Cut tofu in half to make 2 flatter rectangular pieces, then cut into 8 equal sticks.
  • Place in a single layer on a double layer of paper towels, cover with more paper towels and put a heavy pan on top (to help remove excess liquid) Let sit 10 minutes.

20161008_154740

  • Prepare veggies using a mandolin or a sharp knife.

20161008_174520

  • Arrange prepared veggies on a workspace.

20161009_161506

 

  • Combine all sauce ingredients in a bowl and stir into a smooth sauce. Add additional water if necessary to thin.

20161008_160417

  • Heat 2 Tbsn olive or avocado oil in a heavy pan.  Season tofu with salt and pepper and saute on medium high heat until golden brown on all four sides. Let cool on a paper towel.

20161008_175944

  • Dip rice wrapper in hot water until soft (10 seconds) Remove from water and spread flat on a plate. Arrange vegetables, herbs and tofu in the center with your ‘star’ veggie on the bottom (that is the one that will show).

20161009_163544

  • Fold sides inward, then fold bottom and top inward.  Roll as tightly as possible.

20161008_181715

  • Place on a serving platter seam side down and make remaining 7 rolls.

20161009_162759

  • Serve with Asian Dipping Sauce

Veggie Tofu Spring Rolls

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
 20161008_181715

8 rice paper wraps
1 block organic extra firm tofu
1 cup purple cabbage, shredded
2 large carrots, shredded
1-2 avocados, sliced lengthwise
1 Chiogga beet, thinly sliced
1 radish, thinly sliced
small handful fresh mint and/or parsley, chopped (optional)

ASIAN DIPPING SAUCE
1/4 cup almond butter (or creamy peanut butter)
2 Tbsn water
2 Tbsn rice vinegar
2 Tbsn soy sauce (or gluten free aminos)
1-2 tsp hot sesame oil(or regular)
1/4-1/2 tsp grated ginger or ginger paste

  • Cut tofu in half to make 2 flatter rectangular pieces, then cut into 8 equal sticks.
  • Place in a single layer on a double layer of paper towels, cover with more paper towels and put a heavy pan on top (to help remove excess liquid)
  • Prepare veggies using a mandolin or a sharp knife.
  • Arrange prepared veggies on a workspace.
  • Combine all sauce ingredients in a bowl and stir into a smooth sauce. Add additional water if necessary to thin.
  • Heat 2 Tbsn olive or avocado oil in a heavy pan.  Season tofu with salt and pepper and saute on medium high heat until golden brown on all four sides. Let cool on a paper towel.
  • Dip rice wrapper in hot water until soft (10 seconds) Remove from water and spread flat on a plate. Arrange vegetables, herbs and tofu in the center with your ‘star’ veggie on the bottom (that is the one that will show).
  • Fold sides inward, then fold bottom and top inward.  Roll as tightly as possible.
  • Place on a serving platter seam side down and make remaining 7 rolls.
  • Serve with almond sauce