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 / 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 / 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 13, 2014

It’s Meatless Monday-Cranberry-Orange Kale Salad

Kale always seems to be on sale, but the price per bunch dips even lower around this time of the year. It’s a superfood too which makes it a nutritional powerhouse. However, two things I’ve found are, one; it can often be bitter. Two, it gives your mouth a workout because of the chewiness of this veggie.

I’ve found a couple of ways to overcome these problems. One is to cook it before I add it to things like soups. And the second way, which I used in this week’s Meatless Monday recipe, is to add some salt (for want of a better word), and then massage it. It turns the kale into a deep green veggie, almost like cooking it because it reduces it down to size too. Best thing is the salt removes any hint of bitterness and makes this veggie a little less chewy.

I like to pair kale in salads with oranges but for this one I took a short cut and used a can of mandarin oranges in my pantry supply. The liquid doubles as the base for the dressing so nothing goes to waste.

1 bunch of kale, washed, stalks removed (keep them for making stock), cut the leaves into small shreds

½ teaspoon salt

1 11 ounce can mandarin oranges (Drain them but reserve the liquid)

½ cup dried sweetened cranberries

½ cup crumbled feta cheese

Splash of vinegar (I used white balsamic vinegar for this one but rice wine vinegar would be perfect too)

Good pinch of pepper

About ¼ cup oil.

Place the shredded kale in a large bowl and add the ½ teaspoon of salt. Using your hands ‘massage’ the kale until it starts to reduce down and releases a liquid.

Place the kale in a strainer and drain all the liquid.

Place the drained kale in a bowl and add the slices of mandarin oranges and cranberries. Toss everything together.

Pour the reserved liquid from the mandarin oranges into a measuring cup and add some water so the amount totals about ½ cup.

Add the splash of vinegar and the pepper.

With a whisk slowly add the oil until everything is well blended. Taste test and add some more pepper and salt if needed.

Pour the dressing over the kale mixture and then add the crumbled feta cheese.

Serve immediately.

Serves 4.

 Happy Thanksgiving to everyone in Canada.

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admin / September 29, 2014

It’s Meatless Monday-Tofu and Mushroom Stew with Herbed Mashed Potatoes

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About this time of the year I begin craving soups and stews. However, I’ve often found vegetarian stews to be lacking in flavor and substance. My goal for this recipe was to have a thick flavor packed gravy that would cling to a comfort food like mashed potatoes. The key is three ingredients and one cooking technique. Slow cooking of the vegetables and then tomato paste, soy and Worcestershire sauce…and yes there is a vegetarian Worcestershire sauce.

I used already cubed tofu that you can buy just about anywhere now but regular block tofu works too, just cut it into bite size cubes after it’s been through the usual tofu ritual. Freeze it, defrost it, drain it, boil it for about five minutes, let it cool, drain and press all the water from it, and then cube it.

The mashed potatoes are a breeze to make and if you use non-dairy cream cheese and milk, this whole meal becomes vegan.

For the Stew

1 14 ounce package extra-firm tofu (see note above for preparation)

1 cup sliced mushrooms

3 carrots, washed, peeled and sliced into ¼ inch pieces

1 onion, chopped

1 cup frozen sliced green beans

3 cups vegetable stock

3 tablespoons tomato paste

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon soy sauce

Salt and pepper

Oil for cooking

For the Potatoes

4 large potatoes (about one pound…Yukon Golds are especially good)

4 ounce package cream cheese

¼ cup milk

2 tablespoon dried herbs, use whatever you like best, parsley, chives, dill, thyme etc.

Salt and pepper

For the Stew-

In a large saucepan and over medium high heat, heat about two tablespoons of oil and then add the tofu cubes. Sprinkle on some salt and pepper and saute until they are slightly golden brown.

Add the carrots, onion, and mushrooms…you might need some more oil or you can use some of the stock. Saute for about 2-3 minutes and add a little more salt and pepper, and the thyme.

Add the tomato paste, soy and Worcestershire sauces. Stir well and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently.

Slowly add the stock and bring to a boil. Lower heat and add the frozen green beans and cook until the liquid is reduced by half and you’re left with a thick gravy.

For the potatoes

Peel and cube the potatoes and cook them in boiling salted water until tender.

Drain, return to the saucepan you cooked them in. Don’t turn on the heat but put the pan back on the stove and let the heat dry them out while you mash them.

Add the cream cheese and once it’s melted add the herbs and then the milk.

Taste test and see if you need salt and pepper.

Serve immediately with the stew.

Serves 4

 

admin / September 22, 2014

It’s Meatless Monday-Roasted Carrot Soup with Cumin and Garlic Crostini

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My upcoming cookbook contains a recipe for carrot soup. However, after reading the article about foods you can eat when you’re broke (and seeing that item on the list), it inspired me to create another one. This time I slow roasted the carrots in the oven and instead of adding croutons made crostini to serve as hearty garnish.

For the Soup

4 large carrots, washed, peeled and cut into one inch pieces

½ onion, peeled and diced into one inch pieces

½ teaspoon coriander

½ teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon dried thyme

Salt and pepper

4 tablespoons oil

3 cups vegetable stock

1 cup unsweetened coconut milk

For the Crostini

8 slices of French or Italian bread

1 clove of garlic smashed or 3 cloves of garlic that you’ve already baked in the oven, they have a milder taste and there’s less chance they’re burn and turn bitter.

½ teaspoon cumin

Salt and pepper

Oil

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Place carrots and onion in a large baking pan. Sprinkle on the paprika, coriander and thyme, salt and pepper. Pour on the oil and mix everything together making sure all the carrots and onion get evenly coated.

Cook for about 30 minutes, stirring about two or three times, under the carrots are tender.

Remove the pan from the oven and deglaze it with about one cup of stock. Let the mixture cool.

Put everything into a food processor, making sure to scrape the pan so you get all the baked on pieces.

Add another cup of stock and puree.

Add the mixture to a large saucepan and stir in the rest of the stock and gently heat through. Turn off soup and make the crostini.

In a skillet over medium high heat, heat about two tablespoon of oil and add the garlic and cumin and stir together and cook until fragrant.

Add the slices of bread and cook on both sides for about two minutes or until slightly browned.

Reheat soup and stir in the one cup of coconut milk.

Serve immediately with two slices of the crostini.

Serves 4

 

admin / September 15, 2014

It’s Meatless Monday-Stuffed Acorn Squash

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Stuffed Acorn Squash

Acorn squash is on sale now and while I love to roast it and use it as a side dish, it also makes a pretty good Meatless Monday meal. For this one I used dried sweetened cranberries combined with feta cheese and a pre-packaged Ancient Grain blend although you could use a mix of brown and white rice, or even wild rice.

2 Acorn squashes, washed, seeded, halved lengthwise

1 ½ cups of grain or rice blend, cooked

½ cup crumbled feta cheese (divided)

½ cup sweetened cranberries

Salt and pepper

Oil for roasting

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

Sprinkle the squash with salt and pepper and place cut side down in a large baking pan. Drizzle with oil and bake uncovered for about 15 minutes or until slightly softened.

Remove from the oven and allow the squash to cool and then make the center’s bigger by scooping out some of the flesh.

Add the chopped flesh to a bowl and mix in the grain or rice mix, the cranberries and almost all of the feta cheese, but reserve some for topping when the squash comes out of the oven. Mix well and pile it into each hollowed out squash.

Put the squash back into the oven and bake for 15 minutes or until warmed through and then top with more feta cheese.

Serves 4.

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