Search around, let simmer...

Monday, August 30, 2010

Roasting in August...

So it's hot in new England today - a bit above ninety today. So what better way to spend the morning than roasting butternut squash and Beets!
Yes, there are a plethora of ways to spend the day that are better but they did accompany my dinner of Spinach Pie, marinated tomato, and fresh sweet corn decidedly well.

Simple (sweet) Roasted Squash and Beets
1 large Butternut Squash, sliced and peeled
3 large beets, peeled and sliced
1-2 tbsp olive oil
a dash of fresh ground pepper
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground nutmeg

Brown Sugar
Garlic powder

Simply begin by cutting the squash in half length-wise. Slice into semi-circles, and further into cubes. Slice off the skin and set aside in a large container (that you can cover). Wash, peel, and slice the beets into 1 inch cubes (or similar to the squash cubes).
Combine the beets, squash, oil, clove, and nutmeg. Cover your container and shake to coat all of the ingredients so as to evenly coat the the vegetables. Empty into a large ceramic casserole dish, evenly. Sprinkle a few pinches of sugar and a few shakes of the garlic over the whole mess and pour about 1/4 cup of water into the dish. cover (with a real cover or tinfoil) and bake for 40 minutes at 375 degrees.

Uncover at the end of this time, stir the contents of the dish and uncover. set the oven to broil for 5-10 minutes.

Let cool and enjoy hot, lukewarm, or tossed together with other delicious things.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Baking in the Storm...

New England has been rainy for the past few days (the first real rainy days of this long summer, finally an excuse!) and so I've found myself indoors with relatively little to do. As my mother was asking me to bake more of the peach muffins I made a week or so ago, I decided last night (at about 9pm for whatever reason) to whip up a batch of muffins. Sadly, I find myself without the delicious peaches I had had for my last batch. Skimming through my beloved "The 100 Best Vegan Baking Recipes" I found a tantalizing recipe for French Toast muffins. Dense, sweet, and aromatic they came out terrifically. I did make some additions, however, to the recipe (largely because I couldn't run to the store at 9 to buy the maple extract called for and maple syrup itself wont work in place). So here it is, late-night French toast in a muffin cup.

Mmmm... French Toast but in a muffin shape
French Toast Muffins (with Maple crumble)
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flower
3/4 cup Graham (or other whole) flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp Vital Wheat Gluten
1/4 cup Wheat bran
9/16 (1/2 cup + 1 tbsp) agave nectar
1 1/4 cups milk (soy etc, otherwise if you prefer)
1/3 cup oil
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp plain fat-free yogurt (6 oz - a small container's worth)
1 1/2 tsp maple extract**
1/2 tsp vanilla*
1/2 cup baking raisins (the soft sort - golden or red)
1/2 cup oats
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp brown sugar
Cinnamon to taste

*/**If you don't have maple extract, don't use maple syrup - it doesn't work that way. Add more vanilla extract (maybe 2-3 tsp vanilla? More was good).

Preheat oven to 350, and either lightly oil or preset with baking cups, a muffin tin (6 extra large muffins, or 12 more normal ones).
Combine flour(s), baking powder, salt, cinnamon, bran, and gluten in a large mixing bowl. Whisk together agave, milk, oil, yogurt, and vanilla in a separate bowl.
Add dry (although I did this backwards) to wet ingredients and mix very lightly. Add raisins and finish folding. Remember to mix as little as necessary or the muffins will be flat, overly dense, etc...

Spoon the batter evenly into the muffin cups so that they are nearly full. Combine topping ingredients and spread over filled muffin cups, evenly coating the muffin-caps.
Bake for 18-20 minutes (longer for extra-large muffins) testing with a toothpick (careful not to over bake - they seemed to bake more quickly than I anticipated in my beloved, old, non-convection oven).

Store covered in a dry place, room temperature. They're dense and sweet but very moist, so watch out for spoiling in rainy (like it is here...) weather.

Friday, August 20, 2010

A long summer day...

It's been a long tired day. Little to do and a need to bake. I was considering making some cookies but then I found this recipe for Black Bean Brownies and wanted to give them a go.
Nothing too spectacular, but a good recipe, certainly up to my standards for healthiness too!

I used 3 eggs in place of bananas (because, to my great sorrow, I found myself without the 2 bananas called for) so they're not really vegan, but still good and vegetarian. Also, I would recommend sticking to the recipe except perhaps by adding more cocoa powder, a half of a cup of chocolate chips (perhaps...) and reducing baking time by a portion. It could have been that I made my brownies in muffin cups in my new favorite muffin pan but they cooked rather quickly. No pics just think brownie and mild chocolate. they're good, just be very careful not to over-bake these ones.
Enjoi :D

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The first leftovers...

So today I took the lentil stew (dal) from last night and threw it together with a few ounces of firm tofu, about a half of a cup of quick oats, third of a cup of pepitas, sprinkle of Nutritional Yeast, two eggs, some minced garlic (again, the ready made kind...), about a tablespoon of whole wheat flower to help bind and some other spices I found. It was all random, so no real recipe but I based it off of this 101 Cookbooks recipe (I love that blog...)

Pan fried with a bit of cooking spray, flipped, and then steamed with a lid on for about 5 minutes per trio (or however many your pan accommodates) they formed pretty well. A simple whole wheat bun and some pickles, lettuce, etc... made for a good veggie patty!

Monday, August 16, 2010

A Lentil-Kale-Tomato Dal...

So I have this huge bunch of Kale in my fridge, several not-quite-ripe Tomato, and some Lentils burning a hole in my cabinet. What ever did I do you ask? I cut up some Eggplant, Zucchini, shallots, and figs in and sautéed. It may be mid August (and I keep thinking fall is around the corner!) but I've had a hankering for stew and curry lately (albeit, not together necessarily). So with the help of some leftover Quinoa from last night and some roasted Cherry-tomatoes from last week, I threw something together for dinner that more or less fit the bill for curry, stew, lentil, and kale.

I sprinkled some feta around the edges, can't say why... I like Feta I guess
Sweetly Spicy Kale Dal

1/2 cup green lentils
1 1/2 cups water
1 medium shallot
1 tsp diced garlic (I cheated, used the jarred type)

3/4 cup diced eggplant, un-peeled
1 small zucchini, diced
3 cups kale, chopped and with the spine removed
1/4 cup roasted cherry tomato halves
12 dried black gigs, cut into eighths*
1 medium tomato, cut into chunks (they can be tough to cut...)
1/2 cup vegetable broth (and any water to add to the vegetables as they simmer)
2 tsp curry powder
1-2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp olive oil
light 1/2 tsp salt
pinch of cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground ginger
For the Yogurt addition:
1/2 cup Fat-Free yogurt
1/2 medium cucumber, diced (peeled)
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
And on the bottom:
(Insert quantity of) leftover grain (I used Quinoa) mixed with a few tablespoons of whole grain mustard, some Herbs-De-Provence.
And a pinch of Microgreens on the top, for a simple garnish!

I simply threw the diced Eggplant and zucchini in Tupperware with a bit of the curry, pepper and the olive oil and shook it all up.
Begin cooking the lentils (per package directions) and begin to sauté first the eggplant mixture and after several minutes the kale, and then the rest of the veggies in a large, deep pan with the vegetable stock. Add water as needed, as the stock will evaporate in the beginning and you will burn the vegetables!
Begin to sauté the diced garlic and shallot with a splash of olive oil and set aside. As the vegetables are probably shaping up well, add the spices and continue stirring. After several minutes (the tomatoes begin to break down, or rather the skin should look as if it's drying) cover and reduce to low heat. Make sure you stir periodically!
Combine the shallot-garlic sauté with the lentils just as the water is beginning to disappear (by this i mean the lentils are separating from their shells and the water has reduced below the height of the lentils). Stir and cook for several minutes more.
Combine lentils and vegetable mixture. Stir and simmer for a few minutes more. Serve over grain of your choice, top with (optional) yogurt, and finish with a pinch of greens (Alfalfa!)

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Whats for Breakfast...

Sure, I love Crepes, French Toast, Pancakes, and a wide array of more savory egg and tofu dishes for breakfast, some weekends I just want some old fashioned, stewed oatmeal.

Here's a basic dish from this bright, cool August Saturday...

Oatmeal A la mode (because oatmeal is in fashion - no ice cream, I swear)
Serves 2
1 1/4 cups oatmeal. (preferably rolled, Steel cut is good too; quick don't work well on the stove)
1 large fresh peach, diced and partially peeled.
1/3 cup blueberries.
2 cups water.
1 tsp lemon juice.

Add oatmeal and water to saucepan, boil on high. As the oatmeal begins to bubble, add the fruit and lemon juice. Stir periodically (to avoid sticking), boiling until the water is low enough so that it has a consistency consistent with your taste (soupy or solid? I like the former).
Serve hot, with a fine cup of tea (or coffee... I guess...if you must).
*Feel free to add chopped nuts or Flax meal - In fact add flax meal, its just too good to pass up (I forgot this morning, sadly).

Friday, August 13, 2010

Peachy, Muffins...

What began as a hope for peach cobbler cookies became peach muffins (I'll get you evetually, cobbler cookies...). I just added an extra egg last minute - It worked out well (and probably would have been too cake-like anyways had I kept them as cookies. Because I cannot help myself when it comes to boosting nutritional content of foods, these muffins pack 100% whole grain goodness between wheat bran, oatmeal, and whole wheat flower. Delicious and, well, peachy.
The trial (top left) was quite good...
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
Scant 1/4 cup wheat bran
1 cup quick cooking oats
3/4 cup chopped (broken-by-hand) walnuts
1 1/2 tsp pie spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves...)
4 medium-large peaches, ripe
A bit more than 1/2 cup agavae nectar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp almond extract
2 eggs
A light 1/2 cup canola oil (I prefer blends myself, but at the least use canola)*

*And as a thought, feel free to substitute about 1/2 cup of low/no-fat plain yogurt for all but 1 tbsp oil. It brings lowfat muffins to the oven, without harming the consistency - infact, I generally like its baking properties more.

Mix flour, oats, bran, salt, and baking soad in a large bowl (a whisk is nice). Seperately, combine the eggs, oil, agave nectar, and extracts. Chop (or use pre-chopped) walnuts and cut the peaches into small, cubes/rectangular prisms; add to dry mixture. Finally, add the wet ingredients to the fruit, nut, dry mixture and mix, lightly enough so that the air isn't beaten out (remember, never mix muffins or breakfas breads too much - you want to keep the air pockets).
Preheat oven to 325. Line muffin pan with cups (medium sized work well) and fill (about 2-3 tbsp each, give or take). Bake for 13-16 minutes.
Enjoy for breakfast, that snack attack, or warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream (or frozen yogurt, or better yet soy cream!)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The First Time I’ve Approved Of A Bread, Wholly…

I love Pumpkin Bread. I also Love Lemon Poppy-Seed baked things. Seldom would I recommend someone eat a bread like these as a healthy snack. I did, however find a recipe on one of my favorite cooking blogs - Half baked - for Carrot Muffins. A conglomeration, in the sense that everything fits, of fruits, nuts, and veggies made my mouth water; swapping in whole-wheat flower and yogurt made my stomach growl with desire. So I took out to design the perfectly healthy muffin for my mother when she asked me to bake her something as I offered to do some cooking (for myself… and anyone else) one weekend. Throwing the recipe together into my favorite loaf pan and several large muffin cups, I had found my favorite - and most publicly accepted - baked good to date. If you like Carrots, applesauce, yogurt, almonds, blueberries and warm breakfast breads, I suggest you take a look at this recipe!

2 1/4 Whole Wheat Flower
3/4 cup Agave Nectar + 1/4 cup Sugar (I use organic evaporated Cane Sugar - just a preference)
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. Nutmeg (and whatever other sweet spices you may like)
2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups grated carrot, squeezed mostly dry (About 4 medium carrots)
1/2 cup Apple Sauce
1 Sliced Apple (A firm variety - granny smith… Partially peeled)
1/2 cup quick-cooking oats (or I Pureed Old-Fashioned rolled oats)
1/3 cup walnuts roughly chopped (Any Nut works though - I put almonds in the food processor… A loud adventure)
3 large eggs
2 tbsp vegetable oil + 1 cup Fat-Free(or low-fat) plain yogurt
1 tsp. vanilla (And, as an afterthought - I didn’t actually try… - add 2 tsp almond extract - if you’re into the flavor only of course)

And… 1 cup Fresh blueberries (because they’re in season - hooray!) mashed slightly with a fork (just to help it blend in together)

Preheat Oven to 350 degrees.

Combine: Agave nectar, sugar, apple sauce, yogurt, extract(s), and set aside. In a larger bowl combine flower, baking soda, nutmeg…, cinnamon, and salt - whisk until combined. Add the eggs, oil, blueberries, apple, carrots, nuts (anything else/that I forgot?) to the flower mixture, mixing lightly, and then the wet mixture you first mixed. **Remember, only mix so that the flower is all combined and the mixture as homogeneous as such a chunky, awkward batter can be. over mixing will leave baked goods like this flat - you want it light!

Now, pour the batter into a greased loaf pan (maybe 2 inches deep for a long, skinny pan) and any excess into muffin cups (if that’s what you’re into).

Bake for about 10 minutes and check them - the muffins will finish first, around 12 minutes, the loaf pan closer to 15 minutes - careful not to overcook. slight moisture is ok, pull it out - let it cool and it should finish.

That’s ll there is to it. Enjoi :D

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Meatless Monday!

Here's a great article from NPR from a day ago - going meatless on Mondays to help yourself and the environment. Hooray!
Let's hope it catches on (it has for some of us...)

Campaign Aims To Make Meatless Mondays Hip

The Beets...

I was in Montreal a few weeks ago - had some delicious Quiche, Crepes, and Beet salads. Comfortable with the first two, I haven't had much experience with Beets in the kitchen, and so I thought I'd have a go at making my own beet salads. I think I got a good dressing down last week when I first experimented (I however used red carrots - they're what I had) and so now I think I will apply Beets to the aptly named Sweet, Beet Salad (oh, how clever I am with names...).
A simple wrap of Yves and veggies... with it

Sweet, Beet Salad

8 medium sized beets, peeled
2 relatively hard pears
4 pieces of candied ginger (or 3 quarter-sized fresh pieces - to taste, it's strong!)
2 tbsp chopped walnuts
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 to 1 tsp pie spice (nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves)
About 1/4 cup of red wine vinegar (a healthy 1/4 cup)
1 tbsp agave nectar (or honey, if thats what you have)
Large pinch ginger powder
Pepper to taste
Boil the beets, draining of most of the liquid (careful it stains, gets everywhere - save it for Red Velvet Cake :D ) and slice into small chunks when cooled. Slice the pear into pieces slightly smaller than the beets (or very near the same size I suppose...) and combine in container you intend to store in.
Add chopped walnuts and slice the ginger into small pieces (the candied variety is harder to slice, so it will be larger, fear not).
Pour in vinegar, trying to pour it over all of the ingredients evenly. Add spices and agave nectar. Add water to bring the water level into sight (this depends on your container, mine being about 4 inches deep needed about 3/4 cup of water I estimate). Mix all ingredients to evenly distribute and coat liquid and spices among the salad pieces.
Add a bit more water, mix/slosh it around (careful not to spill!) and then pour about 3/4 of the liquid out. the Vinegar will become too strong if you leave it in more than about 24 hours, so feel free to let it soak, I just like the beets' natural flavor.

Stores for about a week covered in the fridge!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Fruit on the Plate...Repost

For anyone who wants to find that sausage-y goodness from back in the meat eating times but just wants to try something that isn’t made from soy (I love soy, that said) there’s a wonderful company called Field Roast. I wanted to pick up one of their celebration roasts to freeze for Christmas or Thanksgiving this year (I’m tired of the prodding glare telling me to eat turkey). Stopping in Burlington Vermont (a teriffic college town by the way, filled with wonderful restaurants - go to Stone Soup if you’re ever there - and all sorts of stores) on my way back from a Montreal vacation, I ran across the company’s products in a large Co-Op market. I bought that roast and some of their delicious sausage - Sage Apple - and decided that I needed to make something summery to go with them. Grilling them simply, I served them with whole wheat Crepes - a personal favorite and, at the moment, of particular interest after my visit to Montreal - a delicious Avocado, Tomato, Onion salad from Clare’s Corner Copia in New Haven CT (Or their cookbook I should say) with added Bulgur Wheat, and a sweet fruit salsa I found atFat-Free Vegan Kitchen.

The sausage pre-made, the crepes simple to whip up, I’ll share the two recipes that accompanied and truly made the meal.

Blueberry-Peach Salsa (fromFat-Free Vegan Kitchen)

1 1/4 cups fresh blueberries

1 peach

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1 seeded and minced jalapeno pepper (or to taste)

1/4 cup diced red bell pepper

1/4 cup chopped red onion

1/2 teaspoon maple syrup

1/4 teaspoon salt

Put blueberries in food processor. Pulse 4-5 times until berries are coarsely chopped. (Some berries will remain whole; do not over-chop.) Cut peach into 1/2-inch cubes. Combine berries and peach in a medium-sized bowl with remaining ingredients. Mix well, cover, and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Servings: 8

Yield: 3 cups

Avocado, Tomato, Onion (and Bulgur) Salad

(From the ever-wonderfulClaire’s Corner Copia)

3 Large Tomatoes (I used solely cherry tomatoes, because my garden has been churning so many out this summer - about 2-3 cups, sliced into quarters)

1 Large avocado, ripe, peeled and sliced

1/4 small red onion (2-inch diameter, I made that mistake…) sliced into thin rings

3 tablespoons Olive Oil

Juice of 1/2 lemon (soft, roll it around before you cut it to help squeeze all of the juice out)

6 fresh basil leaves, chopped

salt to taste (1/2 tsp. or so)

1/2 tsp. pepper

And… I added about 1/2 cup of bulgur wheat, cooked, to the salad - to add some whole grain. The nuttiness surpasses that of brown rice, and it just fits nicely.

Cut each tomato (if using regular beefsteak… cut in half lengthwise, and cut each half into 6 wedges). Cut the avocado in half, and slice lengthwise, about 4-6 pieces per half. Place all ingredients in a bowl and mix, careful not to mash the tomato or avocado slices.

A delicious dish, relatively easy to prepare, and simple to plate elegantly.

Fruit on the plate...

My blog (having moved from has landed here. It was so very young, but there are still a few posts there. if you read it, read here now :-D