Greens and more greens…and a recipe

I hope you had great holidays; it seems that all of us get some time off from the regular routine, no matter what we are celebrating. Personally, the whirlwind of the week before Christmas just about did me in. I had a huge amount of work due the 21st on a project related to my job, and a million other things to do. I’m glad that’s over. Now I feel peace…

Extra free time is such a gift, seriously. I have so enjoyed using my WordPress blog reader and checking out old and new blogs that I have not had time for.  I’ve had time to delve  into recipes without worrying about time requirements or rushing somewhere…

I received a new cookbook from my mom, which I love-Wild about Greens, by Nava Atlas. This is such a beautiful book. If you are a book lover, you will relate…pleasing green colors on dust jacket (color green enhances serotonin production in the brain, you know), nice feel to the pages, illustrations throughout that help me with identification of my greens, and easy to follow directions, with tons of tips. I made a few recipes already which turned out well. I think she has set me straight on kale chips…they definitely turned out better than my past attempts.

Here is a picture of her Kale Salad with Dried Fruits and Nuts in a fun container I found at TJ Maxx. This was still delicious 2 days later! In Wild About Greens, Nava gives basic directions for massaged kale salads and easy variations. I used Craisins and walnuts. Although I had made a variation of this in the past, she provided the best instructions I have seen. Click here for Nava’s quick video on making a massaged kale salad, which I got from her website VegKitchen.

kale salad in frigoverre container

 

I’ve also meant for a very long time to share the following recipe I developed. I can’t believe I found this picture of it too. Just before I started this blog in March 2012, I was building confidence with cooking quinoa and greens. I saw an email at work that our hospital was having a cooking contest for Nutrition Month. I think the top meal would be served in the cafeteria. I tinkered with this recipe a bit and submitted it, sure that I would be in the top few. It is a quick, well-rounded, gluten-free, plant-based meal. It was not meant to be, and I will admit I was disappointed that I never heard back from them. But here it is.  I like to think at least one of the folks that judged the recipes took this one home and is using it…He, he, we all have our daydreams…

 

IMG_0260

 

Easy and Colorful Spinach and Quinoa (Entrée)

Ingredients:

1 c quinoa grain

2 c water

1 vegetable bouillon cube (use cube designed for 8 oz of broth) if desired to add flavor to the water–can be omitted if desired

1 TBSP +1 tsp Extra-Virgin Olive Oil

2 tsp minced garlic from jar (approx 4 small cloves)

¼  cup pine nuts

8 packed cups washed and ready to eat fresh spinach (approximately 10 oz in weight). You can add in more if desired because it will reduce down significantly in cooking.

1/8 tsp kosher salt

1/8 tsp freshly ground pepper

1/3 cup Original flavor Craisins (or any sweetened cranberries)

 

  1. Using small sauce pan, bring 2 cups of water to boiling, then add the bouillon cube and stir to dissolve. Add the quinoa, stir, and reduce to simmer. Cover and simmer according to package directions, until water is absorbed (usually 10-15 minutes). Fluff quinoa, remove from heat, and keep covered.
  2. As the quinoa is cooking, heat olive oil in large non-stick skillet on medium until hot. Add garlic and pine nuts and stir for 1 minute. Keep the skillet on medium for the remainder of cooking.
  3. Add about ½ of the spinach and stir constantly to coat and distribute the oil mixture.
  4. Once spinach is mostly wilted, move it to the outside of the pan and add the remaining spinach in the open “hole” in the center. Stir the fresh spinach in the middle for 1-2 minutes. Stir the entire pan as needed to evenly cook the spinach.
  5. Stir spinach mixture frequently and once nearly fully wilted, add salt, pepper and Craisins.
  6. Stir another 1-2 minutes to warm but do not overcook the spinach. Add more pepper to taste.
  7. Serve the spinach (with some of the toppings included) on top of a large spoonful of quinoa. Combine them if desired.

Recipe is easily adjusted to add more spinach, pine nuts, or craisins if desired.

Serves 3-4

Entire recipe takes 25-30 minutes.

 

Have you ever entered a recipe contest? Do you like to fix greens?

Have a great week!

 

 

 

Vegan Green Bean Casserole

green bean casserole

Another holiday approaches with many family and group meals. I am craving green bean casserole–the classic. I ponder…can it be made vegan? I mean, can it be made vegan and be acceptable to those used to the classic recipe?

I scoured the net for several days, looking for a recipe that sounded good and did not involve growing my own beans. Meaning, not too complex…just a foolproof recipe I can pull out every year during holidays and serve to anyone. I thought I had a winner when I decided, unfortunately after buying several ingredients, that I was headed for disaster. I was perplexed by the eternal questions of the recipe reader…is the sage ground or leaf? What is the range of acceptable baking pan sizes…9 by 13? 8 by 8? I started over and made this recipe from the Earth Balance spread website with a few modifications (see below for my modified version).

Results? I was thrilled. My new dish I can bring to holiday meals. I suppose you really can’t go wrong with 4 oz of fried onion! Yum. I haven’t tried it out with a crowd yet, but I think it will go over well.

Green Bean Casserole, modified from recipe posted on Earth Balance website

Serves 6-8 depending on serving size (tricky area here, don’t you think?)

Ingredients:

1/4 cup Earth Balance Natural Buttery Spread

1/4 cup flour

1 1/2 cups vegetable broth

1 Tbsp soy sauce

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

2 Tbsp vegetable oil (I question if this is needed, but I wasn’t risking disaster…but next time I will try 1 Tbsp)

1/4 cup nutritional yeast

3-4 small button mushrooms, sliced as thinly as you can. You may want to use more if you like a stronger mushroom flavor; this was fairly mild.

2 14-oz cans green beans, well-drained or equivalent in frozen or fresh beans (I used frozen 365 Brand cut green beans, steamed first)

1 4-oz can of French-fried onions

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a small saucepan, melt the Earth Balance spread on medium to medium low and add the flour, stirring well. Add the vegetable broth, soy sauce, garlic power, and onion powder, stirring frequently until this thickens. Whisk in the nutritional yeast, vegetable oil, mushrooms, and about 1 oz of fried onions.

3. Combine the sauce and beans in a 9X13 or similarly sized casserole dish. Bake 10 minutes.

4. Remove the casserole, sprinkle the rest of the fried onions on top of the casserole and bake for another 10 minutes.

Enjoy!

Happy Holidays to all. May the new year bring more peace. Everywhere.

 

 

End of the Year Cookbook Roundup

I like cookbooks a lot. I like books a whole lot. I guess it’s a logical thing. I’ve seen  a few top 10 cookbooks of the year lists. I’m going to list a few cookbooks that I either bought or borrowed from the library this year that I liked and really used (not just eye candy). These are in a general order of most favored at the top…and some are older, I warn you. I just discovered the world of vegan cookbooks this year. Until then I was using my old cookbooks from my 20’s when I went through my first vegetarian period.

Chloe's Kitchen: 125 Easy, Delicious Recipes for Making the Food You Love the Vegan Way

1. Chloe’s Kitchen by Chloe Coscarelli-Interesting yet mostly non-time consuming recipes, that taste delicious. I have fixed the Avocado Toast at least three times. Amazing and so simple. Every time I look through it, I find something I want to make.

2. Veganomicon by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero…very popular, but here’s why I love it…great information in the beginning 44 pages of the book. It helped me learn how to cook many a vegetable and grain. I spent an embarrassing number of evenings last winter reading this part and learned tons that I have been able to apply to my everyday cooking, shopping, and eating. I was so happy when I looked back in my records and found that I ordered this in January, so it could be in my list. I know it’s full of great recipes too, but so far I have only used basic ones such as several in the quite thorough section on cooking tofu.

3. Quick-Fix Vegan by Robin Robertson-I used this during the summer when I knew I was getting an unfamiliar (to me) vegetable in my delivery. Quick and simple recipes that seemed to highlight the vegetable and not the sauce, if that makes sense.

4. Everyday Happy Herbivore by Lindsay Nixon–I’ve only had it a week from the library, but it’s already a favorite. Her recipes include (mostly) ingredients I already have at home. I will be getting my own copy soon. Heck, it may be at the top of the list soon. Last night I made her Sweet Potato Dal, another recipe with red lentils in it…It had a really rich flavor, and did not include any added oils. (She does not add any oils, in the Forks Over Knives manner-see my last few posts). Later this week I plan to make Sweet and Sour Tempeh, and without planning I already have all the ingredients. Love that.

5. Blissful Bites by Christy Morgan-I find these recipes a little more time-consuming, but I love the book for its information on tools, techniques, etc. (more than the typical cookbook and really helpful stuff). I really like the Un-Tuna Salad I had read so much about. I even bought kelp granules for this one! She uses macrobiotic techniques, which I am just beginning to learn about. I’m planning to make her Sea Veggie Sushi rolls next.

These are all still available through online sources and probably in some larger bookstores.

I am trying to find a good vegan green bean casserole recipe right now. Test number one is tonight. I’ll try to share soon.

Happy Cooking, and please share your fave cookbooks of the year, whatever type they are!

Cookbooks and Books

I made another recipe from the Forks Over Knives Cookbook by Del Sroufe. The Veg Cookbook Club (check them out!) has moved onto a new book, but I’m still plodding through some recipes from Forks Over Knives that I never got to last month. It has over 300 recipes and I do think I will be using it in my healthy cooking rotation. Probably not so much when I want a rich not-so-healthy meal. Which is never, right? Sure…

Red Lentil Dal was a winner for me. I love Dal of all types…Unfortunately, I was the only one in the family to eat much of it. For the next time, I will probably cut it in half to reduce the mountain of leftovers, even after I ate it three times! I will also cut the onion in half as I did in the other Forks Over Knives recipe I tried. This did have a bit too much onion for me. Something in the combination of spices (maybe the turmeric?) and red lentils always gives this type of recipe a crazy color. But I still love my red lentils unconditionally. See below, served with Tofutti “sour cream”…

red lentil dal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Next cookbook: A find at the library: The Good Neighbor Cookbook by Sara Quessenberry and Suzanne Schlosberg, published in 2011. No, it is not vegetarian, but it has plenty of veg recipes and others that I can easily convert. It contains (I quote from the cover here), “Easy and delicious recipes to surprise and satisfy new moms, new neighbors, recuperating friends…” The book has recipes for other occasions also, including condolences, block parties, and community, religious, or business gatherings to name a few. Just about covers it all! I’ve always wanted to be the good neighbor or friend who shows up with the pan of lasagna or similar dish at the first opportunity, but I only actually achieve this about 25% of the time. I hope to find a few standby dishes that I can whip up quickly.

The Good Neighbor Cookbook

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lastly, I just finished up The Lucky Ones: My Passionate Fight for Farm Animals by Jenny Brown. I had a special interest in the book because Jenny Brown is the founder of Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary. I happen to have a brother who lives in  Woodstock, NY. We are hoping to spend a week with my brother this coming summer, and now I definitely hope to visit the sanctuary. Truthfully, I never heard of farm animal sanctuaries until I started reading about veganism. The book is a good read. I loved the way she shows the personalities and intelligence of the animals. It won Editor’s Pick: Book of the Year from VegNews magazine. I have always loved the book Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White from a very young age. I can’t turn down a chance to get to know some big Wilburs!

What have you been reading or cooking from?