Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Brussels Sprouts n' Lima Beans

Okay, back track eight years ago. I definitely would not have been eating this:

Pictured: Delicious stereotypical health food.

Heck, I hadn't even tried a brussel sprout yet. And, except for one dinner in which my much younger self and younger sister made a mess with Lima beans and ketchup (ketchup made them "taste better"...), I hadn't ate a Lima bean either. Now, however, I'm much more in tune with what is good for me, good for the planet, and well, good tasting!

I got a small bag of baby brussel sprouts from the garden and I knew that they would be roasted. But with what? I have a Whole Foods recipe app for my phone and awhile back I bookmarked a recipe for roasted lima beans. Why not roast the two things together?

Luckily, the idea turned out to be genius and I was able to munch on these for a couple of days! The sprouts and beans rely on roasting to really bring out their flavor and the onions, garlic, and thyme give them a little oompf. This meal comes together fairly quickly and without much effort. It's also great if you only have a couple items on hand. To make it a complete meal I served them with some mashed sweet potatoes that I had leftover. This meal goes really well with sweet potatoes (but then again, what doesn't!?).

I am not gonna lie though, I felt super granola-crunchy-hippie as I was eating this... but that's not always a bad thing! Lol.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Lima Beans:
1 (10 oz.) box of frozen Lima Beans
1 bay leaf
3 c. brussel sprouts, ends trimmed and quartered if large
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, divided, minced
3/4 tsp. thyme (I used the leafy thyme, not powdered... not sure if that makes a difference...)
1 Tb. olive oil, divided
Kosher salt and pepper

1. Preheat oven to 400F.
2. Combine sprouts with onion, 3 cloves garlic, 2 tsp. oil, and kosher salt and pepper to taste. Pop in the oven and roast for 20 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, boil the frozen lima beans in salted water with the bay leaf and a minced garlic clove for 6-8 minutes or until firm-tender. Drain them well and blot the excess water with a paper towel. Set aside.
4. After the 20 minutes is up, pull the sprouts out of the oven and toss them with the drained limas, an additional teaspoon of olive oil, and the thyme. Stir well to mix everything up.
5. Roast an additional 15 minutes, stirring once or twice, until the sprouts are browned and tender. Enjoy!

This recipe will make about three servings, with about 192 calories, 4.9 grams of fat, 9.3, grams of protein, 13.3% of your Vitamin A, 145.7% of your Vitamin C, 8.5% of your Calcium, and 15.8% of your Iron per serving! And since it's a cruciferous vegetable (like broccoli, cabbage, kale, and collards) you know it's an excellent part of a disease-fighting, healthy diet!

For the sweet potatoes, I just cut a couple peeled potatoes into 1/2 inch thick coins and boiled them until they were done (around 10-15 minutes or until a fork pierces them easily). After that, they were drained, mashed, buttered, and a little plain, unsweetened almond milk was added for smoothness. Delicious! I'll be making this whole meal again once I get some more brussel sprouts.

Oh, and by the way, how is this thing spelled: Brussels sprouts (capitalized like the city?), Brussel (capitalized like the city but not plural?), brussel (quite possibly not named after any city??). I'm too lazy to look it up, lol. Anywho, some more quick meals I've got planned: an epic tofu scramble (I know, I know, what vegan doesn't make a tofu scramble... but this one is awesome, I promise), a bok choy, bell pepper, and tofu stir-fry, and ohmygoodness... today I tried a Field Roast sausage. Amazing! I am going to stock up when I go to Whole Foods next month, because even though they're expensive, they're still WAY cheaper than where I get them!

So yeah, that's about it! I've got 11 weeks and I'll be back to blogging on a regular basis, no more school for me (except, for that additional six years I plan on undertaking next year...)! People keep giving me a confused look and saying, "Jess, isn't that three months?" Le sigh... yes, it is, but "weeks" don't sound nearly as long as "months"!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Mabon Recipes Two and Three!

Sorry I don't have any pictures to go with these recipes. The last time I made them was last fall... I guess that means that I'm going to have to make both of these dishes all over again so I can show you what they look like, huh?

The first recipe is my Pecan and Apple Stuffing. I lurve stuffing. Of course, I'm a carboholic, so I tend to naturally gravitate towards these kinds of foods anyway, lol. This stuffing is great, and I've even made it for our large family gatherings and nobody knew it was vegan... soy sausage and all! The tart apples and crunchy pecans give a nice balance to the savory sausage. This dish (as well as the veggie medley, below) have all the flavors of fall wrapped up into one dish!

One note: the recipe calls for fresh sage, but I've never used fresh. I usually use a teaspoon or two of rubbed sage (the leafy kind, not the powdered kind). Since sage can be a little overpowering, I would just add a teaspoon of dried and then maybe go from there. Just don't add 1/4 cup dried! Lol (ahem... speaking from experience here...). Also, I can't remember where the recipe is from or what I've done to change it. My bad. I usually like to give credit where credit is due, so if it looks familiar, just let me know!

Pecan and Apple Stuffing:
10 slices whole wheat bread, cubed
10 slices hearty white bread, cubed (I like to use a thick oat bread)
1 (14 oz.) tube Gimmie lean, crumbled
1 Tb. olive oil
1 lg. white onion, chopped
5 ribs celery, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tart apples, peeled, diced (Granny Smith are good)
1/2 c. roasted pecans, chopped
1/4 c. fresh sage
1 1/2 c. vegetable broth
Salt and pepper to taste.

1. Preheat oven to 325F. Bake bread cubes 10-15 minutes, or until toasted. Once toasted, set aside to cool then place in a large bowl.

2. Spray a skillet with some nonstick and saute the Gimmie Lean until cooked and crumbled, about 5 minutes. Toss with the toasted bread cubes in the bowl.

3. Heat the olive oil, then add the onion, celery, and garlic. Saute 1 minute. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook 7 minutes more. Stir in apples, nuts, and sage. Cover, and cook 5 minutes more or until apples are crisp-tender. Add to bread in the bowl (you can actually make ahead to this point. Once you reach here, just cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator until you're ready to finish the stuffing later. You could easily make this a day ahead).

4. Increase oven to 350F. Coat a 13 x 9 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Toss stuffing with the vegetable broth and season with salt and pepper. Cover with foil. Bake 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake 15 more, or until top is crisp and brown.

The second recipe is for a simple roasted vegetable medley. The rosemary and sage give it lots of "autumn" flavor and the sweetness of the butternut squash pairs well with the potatoes and onions. Since I love garlic, I usually roast an entire head along with the vegetables, but if you're not as hip on garlic as I am, you can reduce it. You could also substitute sweet potatoes for the butternut squash if you have them around. I love both of those vegetables so I often go back and forth between them. Apparently, you can use a vegetable peeler to peel squash (at least that's what the new issue of Vegetarian Times tells me!), so I can't wait to try that out and see if it works. If it does, I bet it's a lot easier than peeling the whole damn thing with a large knife!

Simple Roasted Vegetable Medley:
1 medium-sized butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1" cubes
1 lb. potatoes, cut into 1" cubes
1-2 onions, cut into wedges
1 head garlic, cloves peeled and crushed (I use the back of my knife)
1 Tb. minced garlic (I told you I get crazy with the stuff...)
1 tsp. rubbed sage
1 tsp. rosemary
3 Tb. oil, divided
Kosher salt and black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 450F.

2. Toss the squash, potatoes, onion, garlic cloves, 2 Tb. oil, sage, and rosemary in a large roasting pan (a "turkey pan"). Season with salt and pepper. Roast, covered, for 25 minutes. Toss once. Add the minced garlic, and the remaining oil (if necessary).

3. Roast 25 minutes more, tossing once, until vegetables are browned on the edges and completely tender. Enjoy!

Also, feel free to add carrots and parsnips. I've never ate a parsnip. I just really like the sound of the word. Parsnip... parsnip... parrrrsnip. Anytime anybody says that word I imagine bunnies munching on them in some garden somewhere (thank you, Beatrix Potter). However, we have some parsnips (as well as carrots and turnips) in the garden. I'm kind of excited to try one! The ones you buy at the store are all woody and covered in wax, so I feel homegrown would be the best route to try them, by far!

The Fall Equinox is this Friday, September 23rd! There is still time to plan your own autumn celebration! Enjoy this traditional fall foods with copious amounts of mulled cider and red wine and I can guarantee that good times will be had!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Mabon Recipe One: Chocolate-Nut Tart

I recently had a comment on my old Mabon post asking about an ingredient in a recipe. As I looked at the comment, and then looked back at the post, I realized I had never actually gotten around to posting any of my Mabon recipes! Not only that, but my Mabon recipes were actually made a couple of years in a row, so they had been tried and tested all around!

(Oh, and Mabon is a harvest celebration festival that is based around the autumn equinox. The actual post explains it in more detail).

I replied back to the comment about the ingredient, but I then promised I would actually POST the recipes in question! And, since I'm not one to go about breaking promises without abandon, here's the first recipe: a vegan chocolate-nut tart. When I made this, I'm not gonna lie, I think I was the only one who really liked it. HOWEVER, it is a sort-of sophisticated dessert. It will absolutely be enjoyed by your foodie friends, but those who tend to live off the Standard American Diet and enjoy cheap snack cakes and McDonald's won't appreciate it as much (that was the crowd I served it to). You can find the original recipe here. Although, I didn't actually change anything!

 Another great VT photo!

I personally thought this tart was delicious, and I'd definitely make it again if I thought I had the self-control to not eat the whole thing! The bittersweet chocolate contrasts nicely with the buttery nuts, and the cornmeal adds a great texture to the crust. It is a very rich tart... prefect for any holiday or festival gathering!

Triple Nut Chocolate Tart:
1 cup pastry flour
½ cup cornmeal
2 Tbs. sugar
¼ tsp. salt
½ cup Earth Balance (1 stick)
1 tsp. vanilla extract

3 cups mixed walnuts, pecans, and almonds (1 cup each), coarsely chopped
¼ cup Earth Balance (½ stick)
5 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped or in chips
2 Tbs. pastry flour
¼ tsp. salt
½ cup maple syrup
2 tsp. vanilla extract

1. To make Crust: Combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, and salt in bowl. Rub margarine into flour mixture with fingers until mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle in vanilla, and stir. Add 1 to 2 Tbs. cold water until dough clumps together loosely. Press dough into pie dish or tart pan until sides and bottom are covered (I actually used a cookie sheet!). Chill in freezer 30 minutes.

2. To make Filling: Preheat oven to 375°F. Spread nuts on baking sheet, and bake 10 to 12 minutes, until lightly browned.

3. Melt margarine and chocolate in saucepan over low heat, stirring until smooth. Sprinkle in flour and salt, and stir until smooth. Stir in maple syrup and vanilla. Stir in nuts.

4. Spread nut mixture in piecrust. Bake 25 minutes, or until crust is golden and filling is firm. Cool on wire rack at least 20 minutes before serving.

Now I've got to go back and find my famous pecan and "sausage" stuffing recipe and my signature roasted vegetables. All these recipes have got me longing for the holidays, and I know they'll make a great addition to your Mabon table!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Lazy Chana Masala and Cookies in a Jar??

Okay, so a waaayyyy long time ago, I saw a mention on Bianca's Vegan Crunk blog about a mysterious vegan spread that was literally made from cookies. It was called "Biscoff Spread" (or "speckuloos spread") and it was a jar of ground up Biscoff cookies made into a spread the consistency of peanut butter. It looked glorious but here in the good ol' Midwest, no such item existed. I daydreamed about it gracing many a bowl of oatmeal, and then promptly forgot about it.

Fast forward. I'm making a usual trip to my favorite store, Big Lots. I walked in and they had a new "international foods" section set up. I immediately noticed the Nutkao stuff, which is an Italian brand that makes their own version of Nutella, but this was something different! It was a product I hadn't seen before: Nutkao brand Fine Dark Chocolate Spread. I read the ingredients expecting there to be some milk or something in there, but it was completely vegan! I was shocked! Into the basket it went.

Om nom nom.

Then, next to the chocolate spread, was the 'effing speckuloos spead. I read the ingredients... completely vegan! The price was a little steep, $5, but I knew that I wouldn't eat more than a serving at a time so it would last me awhile. I also knew that if it was $5 at Big Lots it was probably $7 somewhere else (in fact, the similar Biscoff spread can be bought online, but it is around $6.50 a jar not including shipping). And folks, let me tell ya, it is delicious.

Ground up, spreadable cookies in a jar. One word: Genius.

I love putting these two spreads together, the cinnamon spread and the thick, ganache-like chocolate are amazing. Mostly I've been eating them spread on bananas, but today I did the unthinkable:

It's ghost-toast... you know... cause it's floating in mid-air. Ooohh.

I made some toast.

Finally, tomorrow I'm going to put it to the ultimate test when I stir them up in my bowl of oatmeal. With bananas. Then, later on in the week I'm going to put it to the PMS test when I melt them together and pour them on top of some Almond Dream ice cream... somebody stop me!!!! But seriously. This moment would not have been possible without Big Lots... so a shout out to Big Lots. I love you, man.

Anywho, I'll wrap this post up by sharing with you a recipe for some easy, lazy, chana masala. Authentic chana masala is a North Indian stew consisting mainly of chickpeas, tomatoes, and lots of spices. This is a streamlined version of the same dish using common canned beans and spices, some fresh tomatoes, and lemon for a citrusy-sour background. It's super-quick to make, about 30 minutes total. In fact, I made it with rice and the rice was the part of the meal that took the longest! It's not the most authentic version around, but it's super filling and it satisfied that Indian urge I started to feel coming on. I'm definitely going to put this recipe in my weeknight dinner rotation. It's a small recipe too, the perfect size for two meals or two people. Double it if you would like some leftovers or wish to serve a couple additional people.

Also, since I was out of garam masala, I used my favorite curry powder instead. It was an excellent idea!

Lazy Chana Masala:
1 (15 oz.) can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 c. onion, chopped (about 1 medium)
1/2 Tb. fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. olive oil
1/4 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. curry powder OR garam masala
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp. salt
2-3 Roma tomatoes, chopped
3/4 c. vegetable broth or water
juice from 1/2 a fresh lemon
Additional salt to taste (optional)

1. In a skillet over medium heat, saute the onion, garlic, and ginger in the olive oil until softened and golden. About 5-7 minutes.

2. Add the cumin, curry powder/garam masala, cayenne pepper, and salt; cook 1 minute or until fragrant.

3. Add the chickpeas, tomato, and water or broth. Stir. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer about 15 minutes, or until all the broth has evaporated. Before serving, taste for salt and squeeze in the fresh lemon juice. Stir. Enjoy!

To make this a complete meal, I served it with some plain brown rice and some swiss chard I sautéed with onion and a little olive oil (it also had a nice squeeze of fresh lemon). Not bad for a Tuesday night dinner... not bad at all!

This recipe makes two servings of chana masala at one cup per serving. It has around 235 calories, 5.2 grams of fat, 12.9 grams of fiber, 15.9 grams of protein, 27.3% of your RDA of Vitamin A, 56.7% of your Vitamin C, 11.1% of your Calcium, and 16.9% of your Iron!

So, next up on my blog: my decadent chocolate-speckuloos oatmeal, Filipino Pancit (a easy weeknight version of a noodle dish), and a beer chili... cause I really like putting (vegan, microbrewed) beer in my chili!