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)