Tuesday, October 9, 2012

White Bean Kale Soup

It's Fall, one of my favorite times of year. When the air is crisp and wood-fire smoke scent wafts on the breeze, I turn to comfort food -- especially soups and stews. This White Bean Kale Soup is a family favorite. 

I first experienced kale in academy, when I worked for a garden nursery and greenhouse. We planted hundreds of pots of flowering and decorative kale for people to use in their Fall/Winter landscaping. I never knew you could actually eat it! :0) Now that I am older, I've found that kale is a very versatile and delicious addition to our diet. Add it to smoothies, toast it into "chips", replace spinach or collard greens with it in soups, toss in salads...the possibilities are endless. And the best part? Listen to this: Kale is a nutritional powerhouse! Read Web MD's article here. 

"What makes kale so exceptional? Here is why it's a superstar vegetable -- One cup of kale contains 36 calories, 5 grams of fiber, and 15% of the daily requirement of calcium and vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), 40% of magnesium, 180% of vitamin A, 200% of vitamin C, and 1,020% of vitamin K. It is also a good source of minerals copper, potassium, iron, manganese, and phosphorus. Kale’s health benefits are primarily linked to the high concentration and excellent source of antioxidant vitamins A, C, and K -- and sulphur-containing phytonutrients. Carotenoids and flavonoids are the specific types of antioxidants associated with many of the anti-cancer health benefits. Kale is also rich in the eye-health promoting lutein and zeaxanthin compounds. Beyond antioxidants, the fiber content of cruciferous kale binds bile acids and helps lower blood cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease, especially when kale is cooked instead of raw."  

Fantastic! I think I'll serve up another helping of soup... 

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup diced yellow onion
4 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped
32 oz. vegetable broth
4 cups chopped, de-veined kale
2 cups diced tomatoes in juice
1 can (14.5 ounces)  cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 tsp. salt
Pepper, opt.
1 tsp. dry basil or several leaves fresh basil, torn

In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook 2 minutes longer. Add basil, broth, kale, beans and tomatoes and cover. Bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until the broth has reduced and soup is thickened slightly. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve with parmesan or parmesan style sprinkle and toasted crusty bread.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Pumpkin Scones

I've been trying to be thrifty lately. Making my own laundry detergent, frequenting thrift stores instead of heading directly to the department store, baking and pureeing my own pumpkin...I thought I'd save a lot of money by doing the latter. I didn't. Here's why. 

I bought two small pie pumpkins for $4.00 and only ended up with about 30 ounces of pumpkin. That's the equivalent of two cans of pumpkin at the grocery store. I'm pretty sure you can get a can of pumpkin for less than $2.00. So, in order to really save money, I need to get a gigantic pumpkin! I'm sure I can...I know I can...I WILL do better than a purchased can of pumpkin. Plus, fresh pureed pumpkin tastes better, in my humble opinion.

So, tonight I used my puree in two recipes. First I made Pumpkin Bars (archived recipe) to take for my daughters class tomorrow morning, and then I found a recipe by Iowa Girl Eats for Starbucks Clone Pumpkin Scones. They sounded delicious and easy. They are. I chose to use my food processor to mix the ingredients together, but you can use the bowl and spoon method, too. I altered her recipe, but you can visit her website for the original. Just click on the link above.

2 cups all purpose flour
7 Tb. granulated sugar
1 Tb. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1/2 cup fresh or canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
3 Tb. canned coconut milk
1 1/2 tsp. egg replacer (Ener'G) whisked with 2 Tb. warm water
6 Tb. cold stick margarine, cut in pieces

Preheat oven to 425. 

In large food processor or mixing bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and spices and mix well to combine. Add cold margarine in chunks and pulse in food processor until mix is the texture of dry biscuit mix. If you're not using a food processor, just cut the margarine in with fingers or a fork until it reaches the same texture. 

In a small bowl, combine pumpkin puree, coconut milk and egg replacer. Add to dry ingredients and pulse to combine, or stir until the dough comes together into a ball. Remove the dough and place on a lightly floured surface. Knead a few times to bring the dough together, then shape into a circle about 1" thick. Cut the circle in half, then into quarters (making 8 equal scones).

Place wedges on a baking sheet and bake for approximately 15 minutes or until golden brown. Allow to cool until safe to handle, then transfer to a cooling rack. When scones are cool, top with these two delightful icings. 

Plain Icing:
1 cup powdered sugar
2 Tb. canned coconut milk

Mix together in a small bowl until smooth and creamy. Use half of the icing as the first layer. Allow to harden slightly before applying the spiced icing. 

Spiced Icing:
Add a pinch of cinnamon and a pinch of allspice to the remaining plain icing. Drizzle over the top of the plain icing. Allow to harden before eating scone. It will be hard, but you can do it.

Yield: 8 scones

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Spiced Carrot Ginger Soup

It started out yesterday with a slight tickle in the back of my throat. Ugh. No! I popped two Ester-C tablets, hoping that they would keep the cold at bay. No luck. By this morning, my nose had become a leaky faucet. I wanted to snuggle deeper down into the covers and stay in my pajamas all day! Something sounded good...something warm and comforting, but spicy enough to kick this bug out of my system. Spiced Carrot and Ginger Soup. 

Carrots and ginger both contain important properties for boosting your immune system. According to an article on the LiveStrong website, dated December 2, 2010, "Carrots contain vitamin A and vitamin B1, which are two important vitamins for keeping your immune system healthy and able to fight off infection. Adding carrots to your diet while you have a cold may motivate your white cells to work more efficiently at ridding your body of the virus causing your symptoms." Read more here.

"One of the benefits of ginger is its effects on congestion and its abilities to help fight colds. The use of ginger for combatting the common cold has been a staple of Ayurvedic medicine for centuries and was popular even before scientific research began revealing how powerful ginger truly is. For those who are suffering from congestion or a cold, consuming ginger may be extremely advantageous." Click on this link for the entire article.

So, with those two amazing ingredients as the base of this recipe, my cold symptoms should be gone in an.....Ha...haAChooO! Sorry. Let's just get to it...

1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
1 Tb. olive oil
1 Tb. fresh ginger, peeled and minced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 1/4 cup sliced carrots
1 Tb. vegetarian chicken seasoning mixed with 2 cups water, or 2 cups vegetable stock
1/8 tsp. turmeric
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/4 tsp. coriander
1/8 tsp. allspice
1/2 tsp. cumin
pinch red pepper flakes
1 1/2 cups pureed acorn squash (You could use butternut, too.)
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/4 cup orange juice
1 tsp. salt

In a medium pot and over medium heat, sauté onion in olive oil until it begins to clarify. Add minced garlic and ginger and stir to combine. Allow to sauté for a minute, then add sliced carrots. Continue to cook until carrots begin to soften. Add broth and spices, including red pepper flakes, and bring to a boil. Cook until carrots are completely soft.  Add pureed squash, coconut milk, orange juice, and salt during the last few minutes of cooking. Transfer all ingredients to blender and blend until smooth and creamy. Pour back into pot and bring to a simmer. Check for seasoning and salt if necessary. Serve immediately. This was especially tasty with some hearty croutons!

Enjoy while I nurse my aching joints! :0)
Yield: 3-4 servings

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Walnut Fig Scones with Citrus Glaze

Fall is here, whether I'm ready for it or not. I spent the morning going through my children's clothes and pulling out their shorts and t-shirts to make room for the toasty warm sweaters and fleece pajamas that will fill their dresser drawers now. With the gusty winds and brisk temperatures comes the desire for something warm and comforting. Pumpkin...walnuts...figs...come to mind when I think of Fall.

A friend of ours knows that our family likes unusual foods and graciously gave me the inspiration for these breakfast treats. A jar of Dalmatia Fig Spread. I thought, "What kind of neat experiment can I come up with using fig spread? We love it served with scones. Whole wheat toast makes a pretty good accompaniment, too. What would happen if I mixed fig preserves into a scone dough?"  These emerged as a result. I added grated apples, walnuts, and a hint of molasses.  I also incorporated whole wheat flour up the ante on the fiber content. The top has a nice citrus glaze with a bit more fig preserves to really enhance the flavor. 
We had mixed reviews in our home after the initial taste test. Our toddler ate two of them right away. My small group ladies and I enjoyed them, too. Our 6-year-old, however, took one small bite and put the scone aside. I take it fig isn't her favorite flavor. :0) 


3 cups flour (half white, half wheat or 2 cups white to 1 cup wheat)
1 Tb. baking powder
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. allspice
1 cup peeled, grated apple of choice (I used 1 Golden Delicious)
1/2 cup coarsely ground walnuts
3 Tb. Fig preserves
6 Tb. Earth Balance margarine
3/4 cup Almond milk
1 Tb. ground flax seed, mixed with 3 Tb. water


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine flours, baking powder, sugar, salt, and allspice. Cut margarine into flour mixture until it looks like the consistency of small peas. Make a well in the center. In another small bowl, combine grated apple, walnuts, fig preserves, almond milk, and flax seed-water mixture.  

Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients and stir well to combine. If the dough appears to be too soft (like muffin batter), add a bit more flour until it's easy to handle. Turn out onto a lightly floured board and knead a few times to incorporate flour. Shape into a 8 x 8 square about 1-in. thick and cut into to wedges or squares. Place scones about  3/4-in. apart on a large baking sheet and bake for approximately 16-18 minutes or until toasty golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before spooning the citrus glaze over.

Citrus Fig Glaze:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 T. fig preserves
1 T. orange juice, or enough until you reach the desired drizzling consistency.

These are really best eaten the same day. 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Blackberry Scones with Lemon Drizzle - Sunday Bonus

I usually like to make something a bit more special for breakfast on Sundays. I have more time, and Daddy is home to enjoy breakfast with the family. So this morning, I made coconut and citrus scented oatmeal and these blackberry scones. I looked online for a recipe for blackberry scones and found one that I augmented quite a bit. The concept was good, but I like a bit more depth of texture in my scone, so I added cornmeal and whole wheat flour to the white flour it called for. The drizzle on top...Oh, man. It makes the flavors come alive. 

1 1/4 cup frozen blackberries
1 Tb. flour
1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
2 Tb. cornmeal
3/4 Tb. baking powder
3 Tb. sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
6 Tb. Earth Balance margarine
1 cup canned coconut milk
2 tsp. vanilla
1 Tb. Earth Balance margarine

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. 

Pour blackberries into a small bowl and toss them in 1 Tb. flour. Set aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, whole wheat flour, cornmeal, baking powder, sugar, and salt.  Cut in margarine or mix with fingers until the texture of the mix is pebbly. Make a well in the center of your dry ingredients. 

In a glass measuring cup or small bowl, stir together canned coconut milk and vanilla.  Add all at once to the dry ingredients. (My daughter enjoyed helping me with this part!) Stir together with a fork until a soft dough forms. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead a few times until it's somewhat smooth. Add blackberries. I did this by making a small disk shape with my dough and pouring the blackberries into the middle of the dough disk. I then folded one side of the disk over and lightly pressed down, repeating with the other side of the dough. Gently pull and press the dough maybe a total of 4 times before shaping into an 8-in. round circle about 3/4 in. thick.

Cut the dough circle into 8 wedges and place wedges onto ungreased cookie sheet, leaving about 1-in. space between each piece. Cut 1 Tb. of Earth Balance margarine into small pieces. Place a small dab of margarine on each wedge before popping them into the oven to bake. Bake for approximately 21 minutes, or until the tops are beautifully golden brown.

Remove from oven. Drizzle warm scones with the following lemon icing and allow to cool for a few minutes to harden the icing. 

Lemon Icing:
1 cup powdered sugar
3-4 Tb. lemon juice

Place 1 cup powdered sugar in a small bowl. Add lemon juice, one tablespoon at a time, stirring well, until you get a nice thick drizzling consistency. The icing should cling to the spoon a little bit like honey. 

Enjoy on these blackberry scones or  blueberry cornmeal scones.

Cranberry Walnut Applesauce Muffins

Making good food for my family brings me this sense of satisfaction that nothing else quite can. I felt that satisfaction after making these muffins. They are hearty, moist, and super tasty! And the fact that they have applesauce in them makes me even more happy. The applesauce allows the muffins to retain their moistness, without eggs or a large amount of oil. The recipe does call for oil, but you could experiment with all applesauce (just substitute on a 1 to 1 ratio: 1/2 a cup of applesauce to 1/2 cup oil, etc.).

I originally made these with dried cranberries and fresh pears, and they were delicious. The next time I made them, I added ground English walnuts instead.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tb. ground flax seed mixed with 6 Tbs. water
1 cup brown sugar
1 1/3 cups applesauce
1/2 cup cooking oil (or increase the amount of applesauce by 1/2 cup)
2/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup ground walnuts

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line 24 muffin cups with paper liners, or spray lightly with cooking spray. You may not use all the liners, but be prepared just in case.

In a large mixing bowl, combine flours, baking powder, cinnamon, soda and salt. In a separate bowl, combine flax seed mixture, brown sugar, applesauce and oil (if using). Add wet ingredients to dry, and fold and stir gently to combine well. Mix in cranberries and walnuts.

Spoon batter into muffin tins, filling about 2/3 full. I used a large ice cream scoop and one scoop was a perfect fit. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until golden brown or a toothpick or skewer inserted into a muffin emerges clean. Cool for 5 minutes, then remove from tins and serve warm.

My toddler son has requested these for breakfast the past two mornings in a row.
"Mommy, muffin." "Charlie, would you like a muffin?" "Yes, pease." "Ok, baby, you can have a muffin!" (Smiling on the inside, because I know he's getting the good stuff.)


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Lebanese Style Lentil Soup

We used to attend a small group designed especially for families when we lived in Salt Lake City. It was one of those delightfully necessary things that every parent with small children knows: a safe place to go to socialize with other adults while your children play with other children and their (exciting/new) toys. :0)

One cold winter evening, we slipped and slid across town to the host's (Lisa and Glenn, you know who you are!) home where we were greeted with this amazing lentil soup, amongst other steaming soup choices. The combination of flavors were delicious and I asked to have the recipe. It's still one of our favorites.

1 1/2 cup brown lentils
8 cups vegetable or vegetarian chicken stock
1 large potato
1 bunch fresh or 1 lb. frozen spinach (or you could substitute chard)
1 medium onion, diced
4 T. olive oil
1/2 cup coarsely chopped (washed) cilantro or 1 tsp. ground coriander
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
salt to taste
1/4 tsp. pepper or Pepper Like Seasoning from The Vegetarian Express
1/2 tsp cumin
3 Tb. fresh squeezed lemon juice
Lemon slices (optional)

Rinse lentils well. Combine lentils and stock in a large soup pot. Cover and bring to a simmer. Peel potato and cut into small cubes. Add to lentils. Cover and simmer about 20 more minutes. Wash fresh spinach well and cut into strips. Add to soup, cover and continue cooking until lentils are tender (about 20 more minutes). Meanwhile, sauté onion and garlic in olive oil until onion is soft and semi-clarified. To the onion mixture, add 1/2 cup cilantro and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Add onion/cilantro mixture to soup during last 5 minutes of cooking. Stir in salt to taste (maybe about 1 1/2 tsp), pepper, cumin and lemon juice.

(Side note: I prepared this last night and didn't have cilantro. I altered the directions to suit my situation. I had 1 lb. frozen spinach, so I added it to the onion/garlic and sautéed them together with the 1 tsp. dried coriander. It was good, but the fresh cilantro is better.)

Make this a complete meal with crusty artisan bread and a tossed green salad.

Makes 6 servings (1 2/3 cup size)

*This is a family recipe from L. B.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Orzo with Wilted Spinach

I love orzo. It cooks quickly, is versatile, and has such a cute little shape! One of my first experiences with orzo pasta was with my (then) fiancé on Valentines Day 2004. He took me to J. Alexanders, a fantastic restaurant in Denver. A steak house, there was not much on the menu to suit our vegetarian dietary preferences, but they did offer a delectable variety of vegetarian side dishes such as a mountain of smashed red potatoes, haricot vert with almonds, steamed broccoli, braised red cabbage, heirloom carrots, and this amazing orzo salad. It was a mouthwatering blend of dried fruit, pasta, wild rice, sweet peppers, etc...You'd really have to try it to believe me. ;0) We finished off our meal with a gigantic piece of warm carrot cake too big for the two of us to finish. I've attempted to replicate that salad many times, but just can't seem to get it right. That's ok. I'll save the experience for the next time I visit J. Alexanders. 

This recipe is a respectable nod to orzo as a side dish. I made this dish this afternoon for dinner with a vegetarian chicken cacciatore and toasted whole grain baguette. It's lemony fragrance really enhanced the cacciatore. 

Olive oil
1 cup orzo pasta, dry
15 oz. vegetarian chicken broth (I used 1 Tb. chicken seasoning to 15 ozs. water)
1/2 medium onion, roughly diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups fresh spinach, washed and cut into strips
2 tsp. fresh basil, julienned
1 tsp. fresh lemon zest
Juice of half a lemon
Pepper (opt)


Drizzle about 2 tsps. olive oil in bottom of medium saucepan. Add dry orzo. Warm over medium high heat until orzo begins slightly brown. Add broth and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat. Allow to cook until tender, approximately 18 minutes. 

Meanwhile, start your spinach. Saute onion and garlic in a small amount of olive oil until fragrant and beginning to clarify. Add spinach and basil. Cook and stir until spinach is wilted. Add lemon zest and juice and season well with salt and pepper, if using. Cook a moment longer to allow the flavors to combine. Remove from heat and seat aside. 

When orzo is tender, add spinach mixture, stir and fluff combination. Check for seasoning and add salt if needed. Serve warm.

Serves 4.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Quick and Easy: Roasted Mini Burritoes

If you're a busy mom like me, you might be able to identify with this frequent scenario: We come home from the store, the kids are starving, and I've got to think quickly -- "What am I going to make for lunch?" My youngest is pulling on my pant leg, letting me know he needs to eat soon, and my eldest is scouring the fridge for something to tie her over. Hmmm. Now is when a quick and easy, throw-together meal comes in handy. Enter roasted mini burritos. A less-fat cousin of the crisp bean burrito from a certain fast food restaurant, this version is super satisfying and baked, not fried. 

As vegetarians, our family relies on beans, nuts, tofu, and vegetarian meat substitutes for protein. My daughter will not eat the meat substitutes. This is fine, because while they are a slightly better alternative to meat (lower fat, etc.), they are not the absolute best for us (highly processed and full of sodium). But, it does make life a bit more difficult when planning quick meals. So, this mini crunchy burrito using fat-free refried beans, is perfect for her little body. 

My new favorite

12 fajita size flour tortillas
1 can fat-free or vegetarian refried beans
1/4-1/3 cup roasted corn salsa (I LOVE San Antonio Farms Roasted Chipotle Corn & Lime Salsa from Costco)
1/2 cup grated dairy free cheese (opt.)
Cooking spray


Preheat oven to 375. Wrap tortillas in a paper towel and warm slightly in microwave for about 20 seconds. 

In a small mixing bowl, combine refried beans and salsa. Spread about a tablespoon of bean mixture into the center of tortilla, sprinkle with a pinch of cheese (if using). Working from one edge of the tortilla, roll up, leaving both ends open. Spray burrito with cooking spray and lay on a cookie sheet. Continue process until all tortillas are gone. Bake for approximately 5-7 minutes or until the tops are nice and golden brown. 

Remove from oven, allow to cool for a minute, then serve with a nice green salad. You could top it with a bit of store-bought enchilada sauce for a wet burrito, or serve it plain with a dollop of Tofutti sour cream substitute.

My kids love them and that makes me happy. :0) 
Yield: 2-3 per person

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Eggplant Medallions

My dad never enjoyed eggplant. It was just one of the vegetables he wouldn't eat...along with zucchini, yellow squash, peppers, etc. (I love you, Dad!) One day my mom made eggplant parmesan, and he declared that he might be able to like eggplant if he couldn't taste it. :0) I think Dad might approve of this eggplant, too. It's thin, crispy, and delicious--not tough or bitter at all. 

I remember the first time I tasted eggplant prepared this way (five years ago!). Our friends, Mark and Jyothi, invited us to their daughter's birthday party. I arrived early to help Jyothi get things ready, and she asked me to make the eggplant. I spread a thin layer of Vegenaise on each side of the eggplant round, then dipped it in a breading mixture of nutritional yeast flakes and some other seasonings. It was then baked until crispy and golden. I was a little suspicious. After I tried one piece though, I was hooked. It was sooooo good. 

Recently, I found a recipe in one of my favorite new vegan cookbooks "Give Them Something Better" by Sarah Frain and Stephanie Howard, that is very similar. If you have their cookbook, you should give it a try. It is very good.  I think the only thing different here is my breading mix. Their ratio of water to mayo alternative is slightly different, too. 

1 large eggplant, peeled and sliced in 1/4-in. thick rounds
(For my family I only used 10 slices and froze the rest of the eggplant pieces)

For batter, whisk together:
1/4 cup Vegenaise 
1/4 water

For breading, combine:
1/3 cup cornmeal
1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup nutritional yeast flakes
Salt, to taste
Granulated garlic, to taste

Preheat oven to 400. Dip each slice of eggplant into the batter, then coat completely with breading. Place medallions on a lightly sprayed cookie sheet until sheet is full. Spray the tops of the eggplant rounds with cooking spray. Bake for 15 minutes on each side, or until golden brown and crispy. (Mine only took 13 minutes).

This recipe is super versatile! You could serve it with pasta or layer it on a sandwich with grilled onions and bell peppers. At the birthday party, we ate it as an appetizer with dipping sauce.

Monday, July 30, 2012


It's my personal opinion that nearly any vegetable tastes better roasted. I've never been a fan of steamed cauliflower, brussel sprouts, or asparagus...but roast them? Amazing. Roasting deepens the flavors, and in some cases, releases a certain sweetness that isn't normally found when boiling or steaming.

I try not to roast vegetables too often, for I have to practice self-control when I do. :0) I could seriously eat an entire head of cauliflower, an entire pound of asparagus, an entire....cup...of brussel sprouts (I think you get the idea) prepared this way. The only veggies I haven't really enjoyed roasted were beets and sweet potatoes mixed. It was an interesting recipe I found that sounded good, but was terrible. I chalked it up to experience and moved on. 

Here is my preparation for roasted cauliflower, but you could apply the same principle to brussel sprouts or asparagus. 


1 head cauliflower, cut into florets and washed
3 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely minced
Olive Oil
Pepper (optional)


Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spread cauliflower out on a medium cookie sheet. Drizzle olive oil over florets. Toss to combine. Sprinkle minced garlic over cauliflower and mix well. Season with salt and pepper to taste, then place cookie sheet in oven. Bake for approximately 15-20 minutes, or until cauliflower is softened and pieces are slightly browned. Check for seasoning and add salt if needed.

Serve with lentils, rice, and tossed green salad. Delicious! ;0)

Friday, July 27, 2012

Southwestern Quinoa Salad

Summer = salads. No labor intensive cooking to heat up your kitchen -- just easy, satisfying, and cool salads. This salad does involve some cooking, but it's pretty simple to throw together. Plus, with the pairing of quinoa and black beans, it yields a perfect balance of carbohydrate and protein. 

According to Wikipedia, "Quinoa grains contain essential amino acids likelysine and good quantities of calcium, phosphorus, and iron. Nutritional evaluations of quinoa indicate that it is a source of complete protein. Furthermore, it is a good source of dietary fiber and phosphorus and is high in magnesium and iron. Quinoa is also a source of calcium, and thus is useful for vegans and those who are lactose intolerant. Quinoa is gluten-free and considered easy to digest." 

2 tsp. oil
1 medium yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
3/4 cup uncooked quinoa, well rinsed
1 1/2 cups vege chicken broth (1 1/2 T. vege chicken seas. to 1 1/2 cups water)
1 tsp. cumin
1 cup frozen corn kernels
2 15-oz. cans black beans with jalapeños, drained
2/3 cup cilantro, washed and coarsely chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 orange bell pepper, diced

Saute onion and garlic in oil until wilted and fragrant. Mix quinoa into saucepan and cover with broth. Season with cumin and salt. Bring to a boil; cover, and reduce heat. Simmer for 20 minutes or until broth is absorbed. Stir in frozen corn, black beans, cilantro, and bell pepper. Check for seasoning and add salt if needed.


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Wild Rice Pilaf

As young newlyweds, my husband and I began looking for ways to establish our own family traditions, including adding non-traditional foods that we both loved into our holiday meals. The first Thanksgiving we shared after we were married was bittersweet. It was the first time we stayed home for a holiday.We had family coming to our house for the afternoon. We weren't alone, but it was just...different. It signified the fact that we were adults now, with a home of our own. It was a little sad....until the cooking began. 

I made my first pumpkin pies. Mashed potatoes. Gravy. Seitan. Green bean casserole. Stuffing. And my mother-in-law brought this amazing wild rice pilaf. The nuttiness of the rice paired with the sweetness of the dried fruit made it an instant holiday tradition. That, and fresh cranberry salad. Over the years we have enjoyed many additions to our holiday meals, but the wild rice pilaf is always present---except the year we enjoyed a traditional mexican meal for Thanksgiving. 

3 cups mixture of half short grain brown rice and wild rice, cooked
1/3 cup coarsely chopped roasted almonds (or you could use pecans, but I like almonds better)
2/3 cup dried cranberries
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, sliced (wash and remove leaves, of course)
Olive oil

Sauté onion and celery in a small amount of olive oil until soft; add garlic. Add cranberries and continue to sauté a moment longer. Add salt to taste. Add rices to pan and stir to combine. Allow to warm completely through, check for seasonings, then add roasted almonds.

Serve and enjoy! This really tastes best made a day ahead and reheated. 

Serves 4-6

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Freezing Flavor

There was a 5-page spread in my most recent Vegetarian Times (July/August 2012) on tips and technique for using ice cube trays to preserve summer's flavors for use in the winter months. This is not a new idea for many of you, I'm sure, but I find it fascinating. There are so many things that you could freeze for later: soup/broth cubes, herbs, vegetable purees, juices, etc.  I have a long planter box filled with basil on my patio, and I've been concerned that I wouldn't be able to use all of it before it goes to seed. Now, with this tutorial, I can make pesto and freeze it; I can chop fresh basil and freeze it in water for that extra flavor kick that fresh basil gives to sauces and soups. It's a great concept. 

In three easy steps, they outline how to preserve your liquid contents:

1. Fill the trays or molds so that the liquid comes just under the lip of the tray, as freezing liquids expand and you'll want to avoid spillage. 

2. Cover trays with plastic wrap and freeze until solid. 

3. Transfer frozen cubes to freezer bags and label for long term storage. Frozen flavor cubes are best served within 6 months. 

Besides regular ice cube trays, the magazine recommends using silicone trays, muffin pans, or clean yogurt cups. I used baby food ice cube trays to freeze leftover smoothie from last night's dinner. When I made breakfast today, I popped a few cubes in my kids bowls of oatmeal. Instant coolant with flavor additive! Plus it was an easy way to get their serving of fruit this morning. 

Just a tip I thought I'd pass on if you hadn't already considered it. :0)

Monday, June 25, 2012


Beans. We could eat beans everyday. In fact, our family's personal blog was entitled: Beans for Breakfast. A perfect source of protein, beans are flavorful, adaptable, and nutritious. Our bean of choice is the amazing Anasazi bean. They are smooth, creamy, and delicious. They also cook faster than other beans, such as pinto or navy. We just ordered a large quantity from Adobe Milling Company in Dove Creek, Colorado. They included a brief history of this little bean in their shipping materials.

"The Anasazi bean is named after the Anasazi or Pueblo Indians, whose descendants still live in the Four Corners region. This new, yet ancient, bean has the most amazing history behind it. One story has it that in the 1950s archeologists on one of the Anasazi digs found a sealed pot with a few of these beans in it. Some of them sprouted, and it is said that modern Anasazi beans come from those few beans. The Anasazi Indians left their homes in late 1200 AD, making those beans a minimum of 750 years old....A California accountant, Waller, learned of the bean with his agronomist partner, Riddell. With their efforts this bean was brought to the public's attention. It was first commercially sold in 1983, and is now gaining a foothold in the market."

I throw my beans in a crockpot in the morning, and within three hours of slow cooking, they are ready for lunch. 

Beans in the Crockpot

3 cups of dry beans, (your choice) rinsed and picked over for dirt or stones
9 cups of water

Combine beans and water in a crockpot and cook on high setting for approximately two hours. When beans begin to soften, add the follow ingredients:

1 Tb. dried minced onions
1 tsp. granulated garlic
1 1/2 Tb. cumin
1 Tb. red chile powder (not chili seasoning)
2 tsp. salt

Allow beans to continue to cook until completely soft and seasonings have soaked in - about one more hour.

Some favorite menu ideas include: softened corn tortillas with beans and fried potatoes, tostadas with a variety of toppings, or beans and green chile corn muffins. The possibilities are endless! Enjoy :0)

Sunday Smoothie: Strawberry Orange Banana

Two years ago, we purchased a VitaMix blender and my life will never be the same. [Shameless plug for VitaMix] Sauces are creamier, smoothies are smoother! It seriously was one of the best investments we've ever made. 

We have smoothies nearly every morning, and my kids love them. My toddler sees me getting the blender out and says..."'moothie?" It's a great way for them to get their servings of fruit for the day. 

There are countless combinations of ingredients for smoothies, and just as many methods for getting just the right texture. My husband, the food techie, has narrowed it down to this equation: 1 fresh element, 1 frozen element, and 1 liquid element. 

I'm sharing my go-to recipe for an easy, nutritious smoothie today. Please don't be alarmed if it is not thick like a milkshake. This is a frothy drink that requires no spoon. 

In a blender base, combine the following ingredients in order:

1 medium banana, peeled (of, course!) and broken in chunks
10 lg. frozen strawberries
1 Tb. flax or chia seeds
2 cups orange juice

Place the lid on the blender, and blend at low speed to break up the fruit, then gradually increase to high speed. Blend until smooth. 

Makes 2 large servings. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Creamy Nacho Cheese Sauce

I love cheese. I'm ashamed to admit how much I like cheese...especially on a vegan blog. When our family decided that we'd like to attempt a vegan lifestyle, my heart sank a little bit at the thought of certain recipes that would be left behind because they just wouldn't be the same without cheese. One biggie? Our family favorite: homemade layered cheese enchiladas (New Mexican Style).  I tried various alternatives, but they just weren't IT. One day, I asked my friend, Marion, if she had any good recipes for a vegan cheese sauce. She sent me two, but this one was amazing. It's originally for mac 'n' cheese, but I've altered it by cutting down the salt, adding a bit more water, and spicing it up. I made a pan of enchiladas to beta test....It totally passed. It was so good. 

So, here is my version of nacho cheese sauce: perfect for dunking chips, dolloping (is that a word?) on haystacks, pouring over enchilada casserole...

In a blender combine:

1 cup canned coconut milk
1/2 cup cashews
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup pimientos
1 T lemon juice
Scant 1/4 cup cornstarch
1 tsp dried or granulated onion
2 1/4 cups water
1 Tb. Chipotle in Adobo
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp red chile powder
Sm. pinch red pepper flakes
1 7-oz. can green chiles (opt.)

Blend cashews and coconut milk with 1 cup water until very smooth and creamy (no cashew grit remains). Add all other ingredients, except green chiles, and continue blending until incorporated. 

Pour into a medium pan and bring to a boil, stirring often to prevent scorching, until it thickens. Remove from heat and stir in green chiles, if using. 


I have modified an original recipe found in the cookbook "7 Secrets" by Jim and Neva Brackett. 

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Strawberry Almond Scones

My husbands Aunt Carol provided the inspiration for these lovely tea scones. I experimented with a batch and they disappeared somehow!

This recipe is so versatile ~ you could substitute other types of dried fruits and nuts and they'd be just as tasty.

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
3 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 cup margarine
3 Tbsp. chia gel (or other egg replacer to equal 2 eggs)
3/4 cup canned coconut milk or cream
1/2 cup fresh or frozen, thawed strawberries, chopped
1/3 cup almonds, finely chopped
1/4 tsp. almond extract
Soy milk

Combine flour, 2 Tbsp. sugar, baking powder, and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Cut in margarine with a fork or pastry blender until mixture looks like crumbs. Make a well in the center of the mix and set the bowl aside.

In a 2 cup measure or small mixing bowl, combine coconut milk, egg replacer, almond extract, and strawberries. Add all at once to the dry ingredients. Add almonds and stir with a fork until just moistened.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Quickly and gently knead by folding and pressing dough for 12 strokes or until dough is nearly smooth. Pat or lightly roll dough into an 8-in. square. Cut into 16 squares.

Place scones on an ungreased baking sheet and brush tops with soy milk. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 400 for 14-16 minutes or until golden brown.

Let scones rest slightly to cool, then drizzle with powdered sugar glaze.
*1 cup powdered sugar, 1/4 tsp. vanilla, 1 Tbsp. soy milk or water. Mix well in a small bowl and add enough water or milk to make a drizzling consistency.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

White Chocolate Cherry Walnut Scones

I'm a mom. When I moved from Detroit to a small town in Western Michigan, I missed my involvement in a moms group. I enjoyed conversation with other women who were experiencing the same challenges I faced every day; I enjoyed the refreshments and warm atmosphere there. So, one of the first things I did when we moved? Started planning a moms group...

And, for our first meeting, I made this tasty rendition of an English Tea Scone. I love scones anyway, but these are special- all crunchy and only slightly sweet.

My professional taste tester (hubby) suggested keeping them a little more simple, so you can exercise your own creativity and mix and match flavors to your own preference.

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
4 Tblsp brown sugar
1 Tb. baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 cup margarine
4 Tbsp. Chia gel (or egg replacer to the equivalent of 2 eggs)*
3/4 cup canned coconut milk
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts (opt)
1/2 cup white chocolate chip (opt)
White Sugar


In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Cut in margarine until it resembles coarse crumbs. Toss in dried fruit and chopped nuts and combine with flour.  Make a well in the center of dry mixture and set the bowl aside.

Combine egg replacer, coconut milk, and vanilla in another small bowl. Add all at once to dry mixture. Using a fork, stir and press until the dough comes together and forms a ball. 

Turn dough out onto lightly floured surface. Quickly knead dough by folding and gently pressing about 12-14 strokes or until it's nearly smooth. Pat or lightly roll dough into a large circle. Cut into 8 equal wedges. 

Place scones 1-in. apart on a lightly oiled/sprayed baking sheet. Brush scones with milk and sprinkle with additional sugar. Bake in a 400• oven for 12-14 minutes or until golden. Remove scones from oven. At this point you can drizzle with an orange glaze** or just serve as is...nice and warm.

* Chia gel can be made by combining 2 Tbsp. Chia seeds with 1 cup of water. Stir well and set aside for a few minutes to allow gel to form. 2-3 Tbsp. = 1 egg. Chia seeds are extremely high in protein and are very good for sustained energy.
** Orange glaze: 1 cup pwdrd. sugar, 1 Tbsp. orange juice, pinch of orange zest. Mix together sugar, orange juice and zest, adding additional juice until it becomes a drizzling consistency.

You don't have to be a mom to enjoy these little treats... :-)

~ Modified from the original recipe in my Better Homes and Gardens New Baking Book.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Giant Oatmeal Cookies

These are the best oatmeal cookies I've ever tasted. Seriously. I found the recipe tucked neatly inside my Better Homes and Gardens New Baking Book and thought, "Hmmm. Exactly how giant can they be?" I found out. I had a difficult time finding a storage container wide enough to fit them.

I made them first as directed with dried tart cherries. Within a week I was making them again with dark chocolate chips and orange zest. Both times? Amazing. (I veganized them by substituting chia gel for eggs and margarine for butter.)

1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1/2 cup margarine
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
6 Tblsp. Chia gel (or egg replacer equivalent for 2 eggs)
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
2 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 1/2 cups snipped dried tart cherries
1 tsp orange zest

Grease a cookie sheet; set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter and shortening with electric mixer for 30 secs. Add brown sugar, white sugar, spices, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Beat until fluffy. Add egg replacer and vanilla and beat thoroughly. Beat in flour. Stir in oats, dried cherries, and orange zest.

Fill a 1/3 cup measure with dough and drop onto greased cookie sheet. Press into a 4 in. circle. Repeat with the rest of the dough, placing cookies about 3 inches apart.

Bake at 375* for 8-10 minutes or until edges are golden. Let stand for a minute then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Yield: 14 large cookies
(You might split them in half to savor the joy a little longer...or maybe not.)

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Coconut Creme? Um....Yes, please!

So, I've been on a pie kick lately. I made a double batch of pie dough and pressed single crusts into disposable pie tins. They are now waiting patiently in the freezer until I'm ready to use them. It's all about efficiency for me...

My husband loves coconut cream pie. I believe it might be his favorite. I thought I would surprise him one evening with a sweet treat and make a vegan Coconut Creme pie. Modifying a vegan vanilla pudding gave me a good start....The results were, can I just say without sounding too ostentatious, AWESOME! I honestly couldn't believe it.

I have to share this recipe with you. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do. (I made three pies in two weeks! Disclaimer: We shared with others.)

2 cups original soy milk
1 can unsweetened coconut milk
1/3 cup sugar
Pinch or two of salt
1 tsp vanilla
Scant 1/3 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 cups shredded coconut (I used sweetened), plus a little more for toasting
1 container non-dairy whipped topping

Place all ingredients except shredded coconut into medium saucepan. Being to a boil, stirring constantly so the cornstarch will not clump. As it begins to thicken, add shredded coconut to pan and stir to combine. Pour hot filling into a prebaked pie shell. Allow to cool in the refrigerator for several hours before smothering under a blanket of non-dairy whipped topping. You won't need the whole container-just a few cups.

In a dry pan, spread a thin layer of shredded coconut. Stirring frequently over medium heat, toast the coconut to a lovely light golden color. When it cools, sprinkle decoratively over your pie.

Return pie to the fridge until ready to serve, that is if you can wait that long!

*You can modify this recipe to make many other flavors of cream-style pies. I've made a "Mounds Bar" pie with chocolate and coconut that was pretty tasty, too. Oops! Shouldn't give all my ideas away...;-) Enjoy!