Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Challenge #48 - One Pot Wonder!

This is a slight modification on a recipe I have already posted for Quick and Easy Soba Noodles.  I did not have any veggies already cooked in the fridge and wanted something quick to follow my salad after getting home late.  So here's what you can do in one pot...

Brussel sprouts - halved
Nori sheets (2) - (I use raw, un-toasted)
Carrots (shredded)
Soba noodles (check your labels, not all soba is 100% buckwheat many contain wheat)
Veggie Broth
Nutritional yeast (a couple teaspoons if desired)

Step #1 - Add a bit of broth to bottom of a pot.  Throw in  brussel sprouts and cauliflower.  I let mine cook only until al dente, but you can let them cook as long as desired.
Step #2 - When done, remove from pot leaving veggie broth behind and throw into bowl along with shredded carrots and torn nori sheets and anything else desired.
Step#3 - Add additonal veggie broth and when it comes to a boil, add soba noodles.
Step #4 - Cook until soba is tender (about 5 mins).  Pour soba & broth into bowl (no strainer needed!)
Step #5 - Add nutritional yeast of desired.  Enjoy!  Bonus - only 1 pot to clean!

Challenge #47 - Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti Squash was something new to me months ago and I never blogged about it.  I mentioned it the other day and someone asked me what is was.  The coolest squash ever because it's name says it all!  The recipe and photos below are with a pesto, but it is super versatile.  I have had it before with a variety or marinaras, plain with a little bit of butter and roasted garlic and veggies, anything goes!  If you follow food pairing like I do, spaghetti squash properly combines with goat cheese.  And now for the fun...

Spaghetti squash
Pesto (2 sm-med. zucchini, 2 cloves garlic, 2 cloves roasted garlic, sea salt to taste, several handfuls of basil and throw all into blender) (This makes more than enough pesto, I used it for several dishes)
    or your favorite marinara, butter & garlic, whatever you desire.

Step #1 - Place whole spaghetti squash into the oven on 400 for about 40-60mins (depending on how large your squash is)  Make sure to pierce a few holes in it.
Step #2 - Squash is done when fork tender (the skin will also start to brown)
Step #3- Remove and let cool.  When cool cut in half and remove seeds.
Step #4 - Now for the magic!  Run your fork to scrap out the flesh.  It will pick up on your fork like spaghetti - amazing.
Step #5 - Remove everything and place in bowl.  Afraid you will miss pasta?  Don't worry you can totally twirl spaghetti squash around your fork.
Step #6 - Add your favorite sauce and enjoy!  Pictured below is oil free, dairy-free, nut free pesto.  I also added some diced yellow and red peppers for additional color and texture. 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Challenge #46 - Faux "Rice" Pudding

I was at lunch the other day and someone ordered rice pudding for dessert.  I have not had that in years, and got an idea... I think I can make that without the rice! 
1 cup cooked millet
1-1/2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
1 heaping tsp cinnamon (or desired amount - I like a lot)
1 vanilla bean (or extract if that's what is handy)
Stevia to taste (I used about a dropper of liquid stevia, but I tend to not use much in comparison to recipes I see calling for stevia)
1-1/2 tsp Agar Agar

Step #1: Add cooked millet, coconut milk, stevia , cinnamon, and vanilla to pot (I sliced the vanilla bean, scrapped some out, then added in to the whole bean) on medium and let simmer.
Step #2: Stir and let millet begin to soak up coconut milk.  Add agar agar (sea vegetable gelatin). 
Step #3: Continue to cook until millet pudding is thick and creamy. Remove vanilla bean. Spoon into ramakins or whatever you have handy.  Place in the fridge to set for at least an hour.
Step #4: Remove from fridge and serve.  I ran the knife around 1 of he 2 I made, put a plate on top and flipped it to un-mold (bottom is creamy).  Photos of both are below.  You can see the pudding as thickened.  Can add some more cinnamon to top if desired.
Some variations based on taste.  I personally liked this consistency, if you want creamier, add more coconut milk and/or less agar agar.  Cinnamon and sweetness can be changed according to taste, just start with less, taste as cooking, and and more if desired. 

Challenge #45 - Quick and Easy Salad

I got home from work late one night and was took exhausted to cook.  I wanted something simple and quick, so I threw together some jicama salad I already had in the fridge over some arugala with a squeeze of half a lemon.  This meant I didn't even have to cut veggies.

Arugala (I used wild arugala, love it's spiciness)
Jicama salad (cubed jicama, celery, peppers, seasoning as desired, lemon dijon mustard dressing)

Step #1: Thrown everything into a bowl.  Squeeze some lemon, toss and eat!
I have prepared jicama and veggies  all ready to go soI can throw them into salads for this week when I am running late or  feel like being lazy.  I usually cook/prep a bunch of stuff on Sunday so I have shortcuts during the week night.

Challenge #44 - Winter Squash Medley

I had and acorn and butternut squash on hand and wanted to make something simple.  So I give you a simple squash medley with rosemary.

1 butternut squash
1 acorn squash
1 tbsp coconut oil
3 springs rosemary (1 cut up, 2 left whole)
Sea salt  & pepper (to taste)

Step #1:  Place acorn squash and butternut squash in glass dish whole.  Poke a few holes and bake on 400 until almost tender (About 30-40 mins).  You will start to smell it when it is close to ready.  Poke with fork and see how tender squash is.  I wanted this to be semi-tender.
Step #2:  Remove from oven and let cool.
Step #3: When cool, peel and cube squash.  Throw into baking dish and toss with salt, pepper, coconut oil and rosemary. Don't be afraid to get your hands dirty.  I find they are sometime the best mixing tool!
Step #4: Bake on 350 until tender (About 30 mins).  If desired, finish in broiler to brown squash cubes.   Remove whole rosemary sprigs and enjoy.  Be prepared for your house to smell amazing with the rosemary in the oven! 
Please note, you can skip the first couple of steps and start with peeled and cubed squash.  I have mentioned this is previous recipes that I struggle to open the squash when raw.  So this is my little trick to avoid that.  Some stores do sell peeled and cubed squash which can save you lots of time if desired.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Challenge #43 - Carrot Ginger Soup

Carrot Ginger is one of my favorite soups.  As it is getting colder, I thought it is the perfect time to make a batch.  I never made this before, so I started by looking at different options on the internet (non which  I found were vegetarian & diary free), and there are a lot of them.  So I got some ideas and just went for it instead of following a recipe.  Below is what I came up with. 

Ingredients: (Yields Approx. 9 cups)
4 cups peeled & diced carrots
1 shallots diced (can use onion instead)
3 celery stalks diced
2 inches ginger ( I used 1 inch to start, but it needed more)
Sea Salt  & Pepper to taste
6 cups veggie broth (low sodium & yeast free)
1/2 roasted butternut squash (I roasted this earlier)

Step #1: Saute shallot and celery.
Step #2: Peel ginger and grate into pot.  I adjusted the ingredients above for more ginger.
Step #3: Add carrots.  Saute for about 5 minutes.  Add Salt and Pepper to taste.
Step #4: Add veggie broth and cook on medium until carrots are fork tender (about 20-25 mins).
Step #5: Add butternut squash and let cook an additional 5 mins. I had roasted the butternut squash earlier in the morning.  Tip:  If you are like me and struggle to cut the squash open, I placed the entire butternut squash in a baking dish, made a few piercing with a knife, and baked the whole thing on 400 degrees for at last 40-60mins until you can pierce easily with a fork.  The skin will also start to brown as an indication that it is done.  When cool, cut in half, scoop out seeded, remove skin and cube butternut squash.  I used half for this recipe and will do something else with the other half during the week.
Step #6: If desired, reserve a few carrots to add to soup as garnish.
Step #7: Let soup cool for about 10-15 mins.  Slowly add soup to blender in batches.  I did this in about 4 batches.  Add, blend, & repeat until all soup has been blended.  Please note, my blender holds about 10 cups, if you have a smaller one, you will have to remove as needed.  Taste to see if need to add anything.  I added a bit more salt.  I also added some ginger powder since I desired more (already adjusted for above).  Of course you can add as much as you want depending on how much of a ginger kick is desired, I like mild.  My husband who tasted this as well, wanted more ginger.  So I left as is and tomorrow for leftovers, when I reheat I will make my bowl first and then throw in some more ginger powder for his serving.
Step #8: Serve and add carrot garnish if desire.
Enjoy!  This was delicious and warming on a cold day.  You have some options with this soup.  You can leave out the butternut squash and add more carrots instead.  Spice of course can easily be adjusted for desired level of kick.  Also, this make quite a bit.  If you were going to serve this to a bunch of people, you can go light on the sea salt, put a shaker on the table and let people add more themselves.  My original plan was to freeze some of this for future use, but I think it is going to all be eaten by the end of the week!  If I were to serve this at a party, I might dice up some scallion to add as garnish for a nice contrast to the orange.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Challenge #42 - Veggie Shepherd's Pie Plus Bonus lunches

Shepherd's Pie was another comfort food I used to enjoy, but once I became a vegetarian I thought it was lost to me because of the ground beef base.  I've developed a vegetarian version of the dish that replaces the traditional ingredients with seasoned mushrooms, sauteed vegetables and a whipped parsnip crust.  As a bonus, the recipe made enough extra vegetables to start a side dish, so I added quinoa to make an additional meal for the following day.

The result was a re-imagined but tasty version of Shepherd's Pie that works with my diet without sacrificing flavor.  My omnivore husband, who loved the original recipe, was a big fan of this new version.  Enjoy!

The typical Shepherd's Pie :             My Version:                 
Ground beef or similar                       Variety of mushrooms      
Vegetables (carrots, peas, typ)           Zucchini, peppers, broccoli
Mashed Potato                                   Whipped Parsnips

1 Large portabella mushroom diced
1 packaged mushroom variety (shiatake, oyster, & baby bellas) diced
2 tsp tomato paste
1 garlic clove - diced
1 sprig rosemary (next time I plan to use 2 for a stronger flavor)
1/2 cup veggie broth
1 large zucchini - diced
2 colored peppers - diced
1 head broccoli
1 med. red onion - diced
Sea Salt & Pepper (to taste)
4 parsnips - cubed

Step #1: Peel and cube parsnips.  Steam until very tender.  Throw in food processor with salt and pepper and blend until smooth and creamy.  Can add small amount of butter if desired. I actually made this last night, and used the parsnips today.
Step #2: Saute half the red onion, garlic, and mushrooms with rosemary sprig.  As mushrooms begin to cook, add in 2 tsp of tomato paste, about 1/4 cup veggie broth, salt and pepper.  Stir and allow tomato paste and veggie broth to make a little sauce.

Step #3: Remove mushrooms from pan and disregard sprig. Add to glass pan (I used an 8x6) as layer #1.
Step #4: Add in remaining onion,veggies, and broth  to pan.   Stir occasionally and cook until veggies and tender. Add salt & pepper to taste. Remove and add as layer #2.  If you follow the above ingredient list and use the same size dish, you will have left over veggies.  Reserve for bonus dish below.
Step #5: Add whipped parsnips as layer #3.
Step #6: Bake on 350 for about 20-25 mins.  When you see it has begun to bubble, turn off oven and put on the Broiler Lo setting for about 5 mins to brown top.  Make sure you watch this, as times can vary depending on you oven.
 Step #7: Serve and enjoy.
BONUS: While my veggie pie was baking, I cooked up 1 cup of quinoa in 2 cups of veggie broth.  When it was done, I add my left over veggies which gave my 3 lunches for the week.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Challenge #41 - Deconstructed Burrito

One of my favorite things I used to make was a burrito with veggies and spinach.  Its an easy dish with  a variety of flavors and customizable ingredients that come together for a quick and tasty meal.  Most of the time, I never even put it in a tortilla! I just mixed everything in a bowl and topped it off with some salsa and guacamole.   

My husband thought this was delicious too.  I just had this left over and it was yummy, maybe even better than last night since the flavors of the shallots and peppers had a chance to really soak into the millet.  This would be a great meal to make ahead on the weekend and throw together on a busy week night, something I am a big fan of. 

So inspired by an old favorite and reworked to follow my guidelines...I give you the Deconstructed Burrito.

Ingredients: (Approx. 2-4 servings)
1 cup millet (soaked overnight)
2 cups Vegetable broth (you can cook the millet in water instead)
2 colored peppers (I used one yellow, 1 red) julienned
1/2 large zucchini - julienned
3 handfuls of spinach
1 shallot finely sliced (can use an onion,shallot is what I had on my counter
Sea Salt
Butter or oil for sauteing
Guacamole (homemade or your favorite store bought)
Salsa (homemade or your favorite store bought)

Step #1 - Bring veggie broth to a boil, add millet and reduce heat to medium.  Cook for 20-30 mins.  Cook until millet has soaked up all the broth (or water).  If you want to make more millet, the basic rule is a 1 to 2 ratio of uncooked millet to broth.  I use veggie broth to add more flavor.
Step #2: Saute veggies. Add salt and pepper to taste  If using spinach, throw in at end as it will cook much faster than peppers.

Step #3: Combine cooked millet, veggies, guacamole and salsa.  I mix guacamole into the millet/veggies and well as adding as extra to the top.  I used salsa because it was handy, but next time I make this, I plan to make my own pico de gallo instead.  The recipe is very flexible.  You  can use whatever combination of veggies ou desire.  If you choose, you could also put everything in a gluten free or sprouted grain tortilla.  Personally I like it sans wrapper!
Enjoy!  If you have as left overs or make ahead, throw the millet and veggies in a pan to warm, plate and top with guacamole and salsa.  It takes a few minutes, easy on a busy along with a nice salad.