admin / February 23, 2015

It’s Meatless Monday-Roasted Root Vegetable and Lentil Salad

 Salads don’t always have to be about lettuce and this one combines slow roasted root vegetables and lentils. I admit I’m a fan of any type of lentil and use them in just about any type of recipe. One thing I hate doing is cooking them. I grew tired of babysitting them while they simmered on the stove and then have them stick to the bottom of the pan and turn into lentil mash. One day I thought why not try cooking them in the oven like I do when I make rice. The amount for this recipe is actually more than you need but they freeze well, and yes, I’ll be using more of them in upcoming Meatless Monday recipes so have them on hand.

Ingredients

1 ½ cups brown lentils

Salt and pepper (for both the lentils and vegetables)

1 teaspoon onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 tablespoon butter or margarine…whatever is your preference

4 large carrots, peeled and chopped

4 parsnips, peeled and chopped

4 golden beets, peeled and chopped

Oil

4 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

 

Method

Pre-heat oven to 375. In a large baking pan add the carrots, parsnips and beets. Sprinkle with a good amount of both salt and pepper and then drizzle with oil. Using your hands, ‘massage’ the oil and seasonings into the vegetables. Put the pan in the oven and cook the root vegetables for about 20 minutes. What you’re looking for is a lightly golden, caramelized look which brings out their flavor and sweetness.

At the same time the vegetables are cooking you can cook the lentils.

First wash them and make sure there are no bits of gravel/stones lurking in them. Put them in a large baking dish that has a lid. Add a generous amount of salt and pepper, and also both the garlic and onion powders. Add the butter and then add enough water so the lentils are covered by at least an inch of it.

Place the dish in the oven and bake for about 50 minutes. Check often just to make sure the water isn’t drying out. When they’re cooked they should be soft but still remain their shape.

When both the vegetables and lentils are cooked remove the oven and let them stand for about five minutes.

To make the salad. In a large bowl add about 1 ½ cups of the cooked lentils and all the vegetables and mix together. There should be enough oil left on the vegetables to coat everything but if not you can add more.

Next add the rice vinegar (you can also use balsamic too) and mix everything together. Give a final taste test and add more salt and pepper or vinegar if you like.

You can top this with some feta cheese too and I like to serve it with some homemade pita bread.

Serves 4.

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admin / February 9, 2015

It’s Meatless Monday-Chunky Vegetable and Black Bean Chili

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When the weather turns extra cold there’s nothing better than a bowl of something hot and spicy. Chili always seems to fit the bill this time of year. In my latest venture into the world of the vegetarian variety, I kept the vegetables in large pieces, added some mushrooms for more depth of flavor. Final taste boost was a can of black beans. When you top it with sour cream, cheese, chopped avocado, salsa, and then pair it with brown rice, it’s a quick and easy Meatless Monday supper.

Ingredients

1 15 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 onion, peeled and chopped into ½ inch pieces

3 carrots peeled and chopped into ¼ inch pieces

1 ½ cups roughly chopped mushrooms

Salt and pepper

1 14 ounce can fire roasted chopped tomatoes

1 teaspoon each garlic and onion powder

1 teaspoon oregano

1 tablespoon chili powder (more or less depending on your heat tolerance)

Water-I pour it into the empty can of chopped tomatoes and it’s just about the right amount

Oil

Method

In a large pan and over medium high heat, heat the oil and then add the onions, carrots, and mushrooms.

Sprinkle with salt and pepper and cook for about five minutes until they begin to soften and turn slightly golden brown.

Add the onion and garlic powders, oregano and chili powder and cook a further five minutes.

Add the chopped tomatoes and then the water and bring to a boil.

Lower heat and simmer for about five minutes and then stir in the black beans.

Cook for another five minutes, adding more water if necessary.

Taste test and add more salt if necessary.

Serve immediately.

Serves 4.

admin / February 2, 2015

It’s Meatless Monday-Summer Inspired Tofu ‘Steak’ with Pasta

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About this time of the year I begin craving something that reminds me of summer. I thought about a salad but then came up with these tofu ‘steaks’ that are topped with a combination of ingredients that makes you think warm summer day. I used the topping for a sauce for the pasta so the flavor carried throughout the whole recipe. Something that I think is essential for vegetarian cooking. I used thin spaghetti but any pasta would work. As an added bonus use the topping for a sandwich filling on toasted bread.

Ingredients

1 14 ounce package extra firm tofu

Salt, pepper, garlic powder

Oil

8 ounces thin spaghetti

½ cup pitted olives

2 tablespoons capers

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil

1 tablespoon balsamic or red wine vinegar

 

Method

Prepare tofu following the usual recipe of freezing it, letting it thaw, and then boiling it for ten minutes. Drain well, and then cut into 8 slices and dredge it both sides with salt, pepper and garlic powder.

In a skillet and over medium high heat, heat about two tablespoons oil and saute tofu steaks on each side for about 2 minutes or until they’re slightly golden brown. Set to one side.

Put the olives, capers, sun-dried tomatoes, Italian seasoning and vinegar in a food processor and pulse until everything is chopped and well-blended.

Spread each tofu steak with about half a cup of the mixture, reserving the remaining ¼ cup for the pasta.

Cook the pasta according to the package directions. Reserve about ¼ cup of the pasta water and then drain the pasta, add the olive mixture and reserved pasta water making sure all the pasta gets coated. Serve in a large bowl topped with the tofu steaks.

Serve immediately and top with shredded cheese if you like.

Serves 4.

admin / January 26, 2015

Slow Cooker Vegetarian Baked Beans

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One vegetarian food that I’ve never thought matches or exceeds its meat counterpart is baked beans. They don’t seem to have the depth of flavor and I think that’s because of the lack of one ingredient- bacon. The result is an absence of the smoky undertone that is a must for baked beans. So last week I set out to try and make what I hoped was something close to the real thing. I opted to use a slow cooker partly because of a little laziness on my part, but mostly to give the beans a chance to get soaked in all the flavors, and my second trick; vegetarian bacon bits. (I purchased a can of these from Augason Farms). I usually need to make adjustments after a first run recipe I’m testing but have to say these are pretty close to the meat version. My thought is serve them with a fried egg on top and toast. Maybe this is the making of the perfect Meatless Monday breakfast.

Ingredients

1 pound bag of navy beans

1 cup ketchup

1 6 ounce can tomato paste

1 cup packed brown sugar

¼ cup agave nectar

1 generous tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning

1/3 cup bacon bits

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 teaspoon garlic powder

Good pinch of black pepper

2 cups vegetable stock or water

Method

Wash beans and then soak them for at least six hours. Drain the water and then rinse them again. Place the beans in a slow cooker.

While the beans are soaking, in a medium size bowl mix all the other ingredients (except for the stock) together and place the bowl in the fridge.

Drain the water from the beans and then rinse them again. Place the beans in a slow cooker.

Add the ketchup mixture and coat the beans and then slowly add the stock. Make sure everything is mixed well and then turn the slow cooker to low and cook for 8-12 hours.

(I found the navy beans took longer to cook than other beans I’ve prepared in a slow cooker so taste test them after eight hours. Also if you feel they need some salt, add it once the beans are cooked).

Makes 8 cups.

 

admin / January 19, 2015

It’s Meatless Monday-Tofu Taco Bites

Ever since I made the Crispy Tofu Nuggets from the Vegan for Fun cookbook by Attila Hildmann I’ve been experimenting with different coatings to see what I can come up with. My latest combination, and I think the best so far, is this taco coating mix. By adding more or less spices you can vary the heat level.

The coating makes more than you actually need but don’t throw it away because you’ll need it for the quick and budget friendly recipe I’ll be posting later this week.

If you’ve not cooked with tofu before here’s a reminder about how to make it more ‘workable’ especially in a recipe like this where you’ll be handling it a lot.

As soon as you bring it home put it in the freezer for a few days. Remove it and let it defrost thoroughly. Remove it from the package and drain it. Place it a medium sized saucepan and cover it with water. Bring the water to a boil and let the tofu cook for about ten minutes. Drain it, let it cool and then press out as much water as you can and let it stand for another ten minutes.

I’ve found this combination of freezing and boiling really causes the tofu to become a hardier substance which reduces the risk of it falling apart in a recipe and takes away some of the ‘wobblyness’ that some people dislike with tofu.

 

Ingredients

1 14 ounce package extra firm tofu

For the batter-

½ cup all-purpose flour

Good pinch of both salt and pepper

About ¼ cup water

For the coating-

1 teaspoon chili powder

2 cups crushed tortilla chips

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon cumin

½ teaspoon chipotle chili powder (more if you’re brave)

Oil for cooking

Method

Once you’ve drained the tofu, cut it into bite size pieces (as big or small as you like). Place them on a plate.

In a bowl, mix together the flour, salt and pepper and chili powder and make sure they’re evenly distributed. Slowly add the water until you get a runny paste like consistency that will cling to the tofu. Set this mixture aside.

In a bowl add the crushed chips, chili powder, cumin and chipotle chili powder and mix everything together. Pour the mixture onto a large plate.

Dredge each tofu bite with the flour mixture and then roll onto the plate with the crushed chip mix, making sure each bite is well coated.

Repeat with the rest of the bites and place them on a plate and let them sit in the fridge for about 15 minutes.

Over medium high heat add about three tablespoons oil to a skillet and cook the tofu bites, turning so each side gets crispy and browned. You might need to add more oil to the skillet as you go. Place on a plate that’s been lined with paper towels to drain the excess oil.

Serve immediately with salsa or sour cream. These are also great with seasoned French fries!

Serves 4.

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admin / January 12, 2015

It’s Meatless Monday-Vegetarian Scotch Eggs

I’m always looking for ways to turn meat centric recipes into vegetarian ones and my next challenge was the Scotch egg. A childhood favorite of mine, and if you’re not familiar with it, it’s a simple recipe of a hardboiled egg encased in sausagemeat. It’s then rolled in breadcrumbs and deep fried.

I’ll admit I had lots of challenges with this one but I’m glad I didn’t give up because it’s a tasty dish that I think rivals its meat counterpart.

My first problem was what to use in place of the sausagemeat. It would need to be something that could be wrapped around the egg and something with a savory/herby taste. I’d been using stuffing in another dish and knew I had my answer.

Next challenge was getting the stuffing to stick to the egg. Scotch eggs are usually rolled in breadcrumbs but adding more bread to the recipe seemed pointless so I opted for Parmesan cheese which actually gave them a tasty shell.

And finally, I’m not a fan of deep frying and don’t have a deep fat fryer so I opted to saute them in a skillet which was a big mistake so for this one I highly recommend deep frying these for better results.

I also decided to make a sauce to accompany them.

Hope you’ll agree these are worth the effort and replace the meat version perfectly.

Ingredients

4 hard-boiled eggs

2 cups pre-made stuffing

1 egg, beaten

1/3 cup Parmesan cheese (the type you find in the containers in the dairy aisle)

Oil for frying

For the dipping sauce

½ cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Generous sprinkling of pepper

Dash of rice wine vinegar

Method

For the Scotch Eggs-

In a bowl, add the stuffing and egg and mix together well.

Take one of the eggs and a handful of the stuffing and begin molding it around the egg. This does take some patience but don’t give up. Do the same with the other three eggs.

Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese onto a plate and gently roll the eggs so they get coated. If some of the stuffing begins to pull away just mold it back.

Put the eggs on a plate and put them in the fridge for at least an hour so they can set before you fry them.

Deep fry them for about 2-3 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Set them on a paper towel lined plate and serve immediately with the sauce.

For the Sauce-

In a small bowl combine all the ingredients together and put in the fridge until you’re ready to serve the Scotch eggs.

Serves 4.

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admin / January 5, 2015

It’s Meatless Monday-Golden Beet and Cranberry Salad

About this time of the year I begin craving salads again. This one uses a mix of spring greens and baby kale and combines it with two favorites of the late fall/winter season, golden beets and cranberries. The beets are sweet, the cranberries have a slight bite to them, and pull all the flavors together with a miso dressing and I think this scores a hit with any salad lover, especially on a cold winter’s day.

Ingredients

For the salad

1 pound (about 4 medium sized) golden beets

¾ cup sweetened dried cranberries

5 cups spring green/baby kale salad mix (washed and dried)

For the dressing

2 teaspoons sesame oil

¼ cup rice wine vinegar

½ tablespoon white miso

2 tablespoons oil

1 tablespoon brown sugar

¼ teaspoon coriander

Good pinch black pepper and ginger powder

 

Method

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

Trim, wash and peel the beets and cut into one inch cubes. Place them on a baking sheet and toss with some oil, salt and pepper and toss everything together again so each piece of beet is evenly coated.

Bake for around 20 minutes or until they’re caramelized and golden brown around the edges. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.

Place the spring green mix into a bowl, add the beets and cranberries and toss well.

In a small bowl combine all the dressing ingredients and blend them together.

Right before serving add it to the bowl with the salad mix, beets and cranberries and toss well making sure everything gets a coating of dressing.

Serve immediately.

Serves 4-6

 

admin / November 10, 2014

It’s Meatless Monday-Cajun Hashed Potatoes with Baked Eggs

A hectic week because I’m putting the final touches to the cookbook so I thought I’d share another recipe from it with you. It’s perfect when you’re short on time, plus, sweet potatoes are on sale now.

Ingredients

1 large white potato, peeled and shredded

1 large sweet potato, peeled and shredded

1 large onion, finely chopped

Salt and pepper

1 teaspoon Cajun spice mix

4 eggs

4 tablespoons of oil

Method

Preheat oven to 375

Put the while potatoes in a sieve over a bowl and sprinkling with salt to draw out some moisture.

Meanwhile heat the oil in a large roasting pan.

Drain the potatoes and squeeze out any extra juices.

Add them to a large mixing bowl along with the onion, sweet potato, Cajun mix and s and p. Mix together and then add them to the heated oil and mix thoroughly.

Cook until the potatoes are crisped and browned, and stir frequently so they don’t stick to the pan.

When they’re done remove pan from the oven and make four indentions in the hash browns.

Break an egg on each indention.

Return pan to the oven and cook for about five minutes or until eggs are set.

Serves 4.

Copyright-Excerpted from Adventures in Budget Smart Eating-2014.

 

admin / November 3, 2014

It’s Meatless Monday-Herbed Mushroom and Pea Risotto

The herbs in my garden might be done for the year but I’m glad I took time to dry most of them. With that in mind I thought of a recipe where I could put some of them to good use and came up with this risotto that I think is perfect for a fall supper.

Mushrooms have a woody flavor that pairs perfectly with herbs, and peas; well, I always keep a few packages of the frozen variety sitting in the freezer. An added plus, I recently read they’re a good source of protein so great as part of a meatless meal. Although you should use Arborio rice for a true risotto, if you can’t find any or it doesn’t fit into your budget than regular rice should work too. The key is to add warm not cold liquid about half cup at a time for the creamy consistency that’s characteristic of a true risotto.

1 cup Arborio rice

2 cups roughly chopped mushrooms

1 cup frozen peas

½ teaspoon each of dried thyme and oregano

Generous pinch of salt and pepper

4-4 ½ cups of warm vegetable stock

2 tablespoons oil

Over medium high heat, heat the oil and add the mushrooms. Stir, and then add the salt and pepper. Cook until they’re starting to get some color and then add the peas.

Stir together for a few minutes and add the thyme and oregano.

Next add the rice and give everything a good stir to make sure both the vegetables and rice are well coated with the herbs.

Cook for a few minutes and slowly add ½ cup of the warm vegetable stock. Continue cook until the stock as evaporated and then add another ½ cup.

Repeat the process until the rice is tender…you might need more stock or even less.

Serve immediately.

This is great as is or combined with some type of store-brand veggie burger that has a ‘meat’ like substance…not the grain variety.

Serves 6.

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admin / October 20, 2014

It’s Meatless Monday-Fiesta Eggs

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This one could be a breakfast, lunch or a quick, light supper. Pantry staple items, ten minutes of your time and you have a meal. Serve this with hash browns or cubed pan-roasted potatoes, more salsa and some sour cream.

1 15 ounce can chili beans, drain slightly

4 pieces of bread, toasted

1/3 cup salsa

1/3 cup shredded cheese

4 eggs

 

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

Spray four ramekin dishes with non-stick cooking spray and place on a baking sheet.

Break up pieces of toasted bread and place at the bottom of each ramekin dish.

Spoon the chili beans on the toast.

Break on top of the beans.

Spoon a couple of tablespoons of salsa on each egg.

Sprinkle a couple of tablespoons of cheese on top. (Reserve some for later)

Bake in the oven for about ten minutes or until the eggs are set.

Remove and sprinkle on the remaining cheese.

Serve immediately.

Serves 4.

 

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