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Thanksgiving – Don’t Join Them, Beat Them!

22 Nov

Isn’t Thanksgiving one of THE best days of the year?!  The sound of football and family talking, the smell of herbs roasting, and the sensation of binging on your favorite once-a-year recipes.  I adore this holiday because it brings together my family and friends over an amazingly delicious and unique meal.  Most of the dishes we serve on Thanksgiving are only served on this holiday, which makes it that much more special.  AND I love left-overs!  What holiday has left-overs like Thanksgiving?  Not one.

turkeys
I have been celebrating Thanksgiving as a vegetarian since 1997. For me it is easy and it always has been.  However, some of you fledglings out there are daunted by the prospect of sitting down with your family and not eating turkey flesh.  If your main worry is the heckling you will receive, my best advice is to beat them. I don’t mean pound them with your fists, although tempting after you hear those boring vegetarian jokes for the hundredth time.  I refer to making a better meal for yourself (and your fellow diners if they choose to pull their heads out of their…) than they have made for themselves.  Make them jealous of your fantastic concoctions!

There is not one traditional Thanksgiving recipe you can’t alter to make vegetarian.  You can even make a turkey flesh alternative with seitan if you so choose.  I have been wowing meat eaters on Thanksgiving with recipes like Walnut Apple Stuffing, Smoked Gouda Mashed Potatoes, Tofurky Roast in a homemade Savory Sauce and Roasted Root Vegetables, Vegetable Pot Pie, etc.  Every year I am surprised by the reactions from my meat eating co-diners when they taste a well executed vegetarian dish.  I am not surprised that they think it’s great, I am surprised by their amazement.  You would think in the year 2013 people would KNOW our food is fantastic.  *shrugs*

Below is a Thanksgiving recipe for your taste buds to discover.  Remember, don’t join them, beat them this Thanksgiving!

VEGETARIAN POT PIE

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1 tablespoon unsalted butter (or substitute vegan margarine)

2 small heads fennel, finely chopped (about 3 cups)

1/2 medium yellow onion, finely chopped

2 medium carrots, peeled and finely chopped (about 2/3 cup)

12 ounces crimini or white button mushrooms, sliced (about 5 cups)

2-3 red potatoes, diced small (about 2 1/2 cups)

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup low-sodium mushroom broth

1 cup whole milk (or substitute plain soy)

1 cup frozen baby green peas

1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh chives

1/4 cup parsley

1 tablespoon white vinegar

1 large egg yolk (remove from recipe if vegan)

7 ounces store-bought puff pastry or pie dough, defrosted if frozen (vegan and gluten-free options available in most health food stores)

Heat the oven to 400 degrees F and arrange a rack in the middle.

Melt butter over medium heat in a 3 to 4 quart heavy bottomed saucepan. When it foams, add fennel, onions, and carrots, and cook until just soft and onions are translucent, about 2 minutes. Add mushrooms and potato, season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and stir to coat. Cook, stirring rarely, until mushrooms have let off water and are shrunken, about 6 minutes.

Sprinkle flour over vegetables, stir to coat, and cook until raw flavor is gone, about 1 to 2 minutes. Carefully add broth and milk, stirring constantly until mixture is smooth. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.

Remove from heat, add peas, herbs, and vinegar, and stir to coat. Season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Turn filling into an 8 by 8-inch baking dish.

Whisk egg together with 2 teaspoons water and a pinch of salt until evenly mixed. Set aside.

Cut dough to fit over the baking dish. Place dough over filling and tuck into the edges of the dish. Brush dough with egg wash and cut slits in the top to vent. Place on a baking sheet and bake until crust is golden brown and mixture is bubbling, about 25 to 30 minutes. Let sit at least 5 minutes before serving.

Quinoa is SUPER

24 Apr

Not only is quinoa delicious, it is high in protein, fiber and iron, and it’s gluten free.  Quinoa has every one of the nine essential amino acids. These nine essential amino acids are the ones that your body cannot synthesize in quantities sufficient to sustain good health, so they need to come from food sources.  It is also reported to help migraine headaches, because it is a great source of magnesium, a mineral that helps relax blood vessels, preventing the constriction and rebound dilation characteristic of migraines.  Low dietary levels of magnesium can also lead to hypertension, ischemic heart disease, and heart arrhythmias.  Quinoa is good for the heart.

Many people think that quinoa is a type of grain, but it’s not. Quinoa is actually the seed of a plant related to spinach. This food staple is grown in the mountains of Ecuador and was once called “the gold of the Inca’s” because it increased stamina. At that time, the Incas didn’t know about quinoa’s nutritional facts or amino acids.

So now that you know how super quinoa is for you, try one of these unique recipes.

Pineapple Quinoa Boat

1 1/2 cup fresh pineapple, diced

4 cups cooked quinoa

1/2 red onion, diced

1 cup Shiitake mushrooms

1 cup kale, shredded

1/4 cup nutritional yeast

1/2 tsp dried jalapeno

1/2 cup finely diced pineapple

2 Tbsp mint, chopped

2 Tbsp Tahini

3 Tbsp pineapple juice

to taste: splash of tamari, fine black pepper, and pinch of salt

  • Cook your quinoa. I used 1 1/4 cups dry quinoa + 1 cup water + 1 cup veggie broth + pinch salt. Set cooked quinoa aside.
  • Put Quinoa, diced pineapple (not the finely chopped), red onion, shiitake mushrooms, 1 Tbsp mint, kale, nutritional yeast and jalapeno to the pan with a splash of safflower oil. Turn heat to high and cook for about 3 minutes – moving quinoa around so it cooks on all sides. A few crisped bits of quinoa is a good thing. Add a splash of tamari, black pepper and salt to taste. Transfer the fried quinoa to a bowl. Set aside.
  • Quickly sauté the 1/2 cup finely diced pineapple to add as a garnish later. Just brown the edges a bit. The pineapple will pick up the flavor left in the pan. Set aside.
  • Mix the tahini, pineapple juice, and chopped mint for the sauce, and set aside.
  • To plate you spoon in the quinoa mix into a pre-hollowed pineapple. Then add the pineapple garnish over top. Sprinkle 1 Tbsp fresh chopped mint on top. You can serve with the dressing on the side or you can add right over top this dish.

Italian Quinoa Cakes

2 cups cooked quinoa

1 flax egg (1 tbsp of ground flaxseed with 3 tbsp of hot water)

1/2 cup almond flour

2 green onions sliced thinly

2 Tbsp sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

8 fresh basil leaves, chopped

1/2 cup Daiya mozzarella Cheese-Style Shreds (or “real” mozzarella if that floats your boat)

1/2 tsp sea salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper and 1/2 tsp cayenne

1 tsp olive oil, for cooking

  • Place all ingredients in a large bowl and stir well to combine.
  • Form compact cakes with about 1/2 cup of the mix per cake.
  • Heat a frying pan over medium heat with 1 tsp olive oil.
  • Place quinoa cakes in the pan and cook about 4-5 minutes per side, until golden brown.
  • Serve over a bed of salad.

 

Quinoa Brazil Nut Paella

 

1 cup whole grain quinoa

1 1/2 cups vegetable broth

1/2 orange, juiced (about 1/4 cup juice)

1/2 orange de-seeded and diced

2 tsp orange and lemon rind zest

1 lemon, juiced

1 bag frozen mixed organic veggies (peas, corn, carrots)

1 large onion, chopped

2 white button mushrooms, chopped

7 cloves garlic, chopped thickly

1/2 Serrano pepper, roasted, de-seeded and chopped

1/2 cup Brazil nuts, chopped

2 Tbsp olive oil

2 Tbsp vegan buttery spread

2 bay leaves

1/4 teaspoon saffron strands

1 tsp cayenne

generous black pepper

sea salt to taste

Prep:

  • Rinse and dry quinoa with cold water. Set aside.
  • Juice, chop and zest the orange.
  • Juice and zest the lemon.
  • Chop onion, garlic, mushrooms and Brazil nuts.
  • De-seed and slice Serrano pepper. Roast strips of pepper.
  • Microwave frozen veggies for two minutes (or thaw on counter prior to use)

In soup pan:

  • Add oil, vegan spread, a pinch of salt and pepper.
  • Turn heat to high-until oil sizzles.
  • Add onion, garlic, pepper, Brazil nuts and bay leaves.
  • Saute for a few minutes, on medium heat.
  • Add chopped orange and orange zest.
  • Saute uncovered for an additional few minutes.
  • Fold in 3/4 package of frozen veggies (thawed or warmed).
  • Add lemon juice.
  • Saute on medium-high for five minutes, stirring constantly.
  • When all ingredients are cooked through and slightly browned, remove 1/2 of veggies from pot. Set aside, covered.

Quinoa:

  • Turn heat to high and add veggie broth, cayenne, saffron and orange juice.
    Bring to boil.
  • (Yes, half the portion of veggies will still be in the pot.)
  • Add dry quinoa and stir.
  • Reduce heat, cover pot, and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  • Stir occasionally.
  • When quinoa has absorbed all the liquid, remove cover and fold in remaining veggies to pot.
  • Re-cover and allow to cook on low heat for five minutes. (This should add a nice browning effect to the bottom layer of quinoa.
  • Fluff finished quinoa with fork.
  • Remove bay leaves before serving.
  • Serve hot. Garnish with grated/chopped raw Brazil nuts.

 

Thanks to http://kblog.lunchboxbunch.com/2009/03/recipe-vegan-quinoa-brazil-nut-paella.html for the paella recipe. 

 

Easter Bunnies Love Carrots

5 Apr

For Easter, most people think of ham and eggs.  But I think of carrots, because that cute Easter Bunny loves them so.  Not only are carrots a super food, they also are amazingly versatile. Different cooking methods highlight different flavors and can bring out surprising changes in how they taste.  Here are a few unique carrot recipes:

Turkish Carrot Salad

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons whole cumin seed
  • 1/2 cup whole milk plain yogurt (or Plain Vegan Yogurt)
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic (about 1 small clove)
  • Pinch cayenne
  • Pinch granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 cups grated carrots (3 to 4 carrots, depending on size)
  • 1 tablespoon mint, plus additional for garnish

In a small dry skillet over medium heat, gently toast the cumin seeds until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Let cool and grind in a spice grinder or with a mortar and pestle.

Whisk together the yogurt, olive oil, garlic, cayenne, sugar, pepper, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon of the ground cumin. (For improved flavor, make the dressing an hour or two before assembling the salad.)

Right before serving, toss the carrots and mint together gently. Add enough dressing to coat the salad thoroughly. Adjust seasoning, adding more cumin and salt to taste. Sprinkle with additional mint.

Carrot Soup

  • 1 lb fresh carrots
  • 1 medium Russet potato
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter (or vegan margarine)
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 qt vegetable broth or stock
  • Kosher salt and ground white pepper, to taste
  • A bit of parsley for garnish

Peel the carrots, then trim the top and bottom ends. Cut carrots into (roughly) same-sized pieces, about ½ inch to 1 inch thick, depending on diameter. Don’t worry about precision — the soup is going to be puréed anyway. You just want the pieces to be of uniform size so that they cook evenly.

Peel the potato and cut it into pieces about the same size as the carrots.

In a heavy-bottomed soup pot, heat the butter over a low-to-medium heat.

Add the onion, garlic and carrots and cook for 2-3 minutes or until the onion is slightly translucent, stirring more or less continuously.

Add the wine and cook for another minute or two or until the wine seems to have reduced by about half.

Add the stock and the potato. Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Then lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes or until the carrots and potatoes are soft enough that they can easily be pierced with a knife. Don’t let them get mushy, though.

Remove from heat and purée in a blender, working in batches if necessary.

Return puréed soup to pot and bring to a simmer again, adding more broth or stock to adjust the thickness if necessary.

Season to taste with Kosher salt and white pepper.  Garnish with a bit of parsley to make it pretty.

Pomegranate Balsamic Glazed Carrots

  • 1/4 cup pure pomegranate juice
  • 1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp. honey
  • 1 oz. (2 Tbs.) unsalted butter (or vegan margarine)
  • 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 lb. carrots, trimmed, peeled, and cut into sticks about 2 inches long and 3/8 inch wide
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup veggie broth
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne
  • 2 Tbs. lightly packed thinly sliced fresh mint

Combine the juice, vinegar, and honey in a liquid measuring cup and whisk. Cut 1 Tbs. of the butter into 4 pieces and refrigerate.

In a 12-inch skillet, heat the remaining 1 Tbs. butter with the olive oil over medium-high heat. When the butter has melted, add the carrots and a pinch of salt and toss well to coat. Cook without stirring until the bottom layer of carrots is lightly browned in spots, 4 to 5 minutes. Using tongs, stir and flip the carrots and then leave undisturbed for 1 to 2 minutes to brown. Continue cooking, occasionally stirring and flipping, until most of the carrots are a bit browned in places and are starting to feel tender, an additional 3 to 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium if the bottom of the pan begins to brown too much.

Carefully add the veggie broth, cover quickly, and cook until all but about 1 Tbs. of the broth has evaporated, about 2 minutes. Uncover, reduce the heat to medium low, and add the pomegranate mixture (re-whisk, if necessary) and the cayenne. Cook, stirring gently, until the mixture reduces and becomes slightly glazy, about 1 minute. Take the pan off the heat, add the chilled butter, and gently toss with a heatproof spatula until the butter has melted, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Season to taste with salt and stir in about two-thirds of the mint. Serve in a warm shallow bowl or on a platter, garnished with the remaining mint.

Spanish Carrots and Olives Tapenade

  • 1 Lb young carrots cut into 2 x ½ inch sticks
  • 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 TBS chopped cilantro
  • 12 Spanish Green olives, pitted and sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 TBS slivered almonds, slightly toasted

Heat the olive oil in a heavy-based skillet, add the carrot sticks and cook, covered, over low heat for about 10 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally, until almost tender.

Add the garlic, parsley and green olives and stir to combine.

Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, then toss the carrots over low heat for 1 minute. Stir in the slivered almonds and serve warm.

Happy Easter my friends!

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