Category Archives: Seasonal Ingredients

Quick Grilled Bok Choy

I haven’t posted in two weeks!!!!!  Eek!  I have so many backlogged I must remedy this situation immediately.  I’ll start with one of my fave items from our first CSA jackpot from Blandford Nature Center.  Bok choy.

There are about a thousand ways to spell this little veggie wonder.  I’m going with ‘bok choy’ for purposes of this post.  High in vitamin C, antioxidants, folic acid, and potassium yet low in cals and carbs makes bok choy an eat-until-you-are-stuffed candidate for low guilt and high yum.

Ingredients:

  • 3 baby bok choy, cut in half length wise
  • 1 T roasted sesame oil (garlic oil, chili oil, walnut oil, anything would be great here)
  • 1 tsp hot pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste

This is a no-brainer.  Heat grill to let’s say, hot…I just turned it all the way to high and waited like 5 minutes.  I know, scientific eh?

Drizzle bok choy halves with oil, sprinkle hot pepper flakes, salt and pepper on top.  Toss on HOT grill until charred.  Mr. Wonderful said, “if more people could experience charred greens, they would LOVE them.”  I would have to agree.

I served this next to brown rice, mandarin orange chick’n and a few crushed up cashew bits I had lying around.  Quick meal, as the rice was in the freezer just waiting for a chance to shine.

Baby Bok Choi Recipe

Recipe adapted from: Simply Recipes.

Here is another recipe that I’ve wanted to try for a while now too:  Sesame Coconut Bok Choy.  If you make it let me know how it turns out.

So…are you going to do it?

Butternut Squash Surplus

Last week I was up to my ears in butternut squash.  A few from my CSA, and a few from one of my work friends (these alone were over 9 pounds each and more than 2 feet long).  I have a tendency to put these items out in the garage, and then forget about them until I can actually smell them…not good.  So this time I got a leg up on the surplus.  I roasted three baking pans of squash last night and then today made a few cups of it into butternut squash ravioli with brown butter and sage sauce, then froze the rest for soups and such.

Butternut Squash Ravioli

Inspired by this recipe from Epicurious

  • 3 cups mashed butternut squash (from roasted)
  • 1-4 oz log creamy goat cheese
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/8 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
  • 1 package won ton wrappers (40-60 count)
  • 1/2 cup shallots, chopped
  • 1 stick, butter
  • 1 handful fresh sage leaves, whole
  • 1/8 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
  • pepper, salt to taste
  • handful of fresh parsley
  • parm cheese

Filling:  Saute’ garlic over medium until lightly browned, add goat cheese, squash, nutmeg and combine until creamy.  Remove from heat, let cool.  When filling is cool, drop 1 1/2 tsp in the middle of a won ton wrapper, lightly brush edges with water.  Seal by touching opposite sides together in whatever shape you like.  I touched opposite corners together to form a triangle, then flipped it like a dumpling.  Be sure to squeeze the air out of the ravioli before sealing and DO NOT overfill.

Sauce:  Combine in a frying pan over medium high heat butter, shallots, fresh sage and nutmeg.  Let this combo simmers until butter turns a nutty brown, shallots and sage crisp.  Turn off the heat.  Let hang out until your ravioli are ready to dress.

Ravioli:  Bring a dutch oven 3/4 full of salted water to a boil.  When it hits boiling, turn it down to medium heat, this is a little more gentle on your fragile raviolis.  Immerse 6-8 ravioli in the hot water so the water temp doesn’t drop but also so they do not touch the bottom, sides or each other…this would be bad. Allow the ravioli to hang out in the hot water bath for 2-4 minutes until they float or become opaque in color, remove with a slotted spoon directly into a serving dish, top with brown butter sauce, fresh parsley, a bit of parm cheese and serve.

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Since it’s just the two of us to cook for, but this recipe makes around 45 raviolis, I made the remaining raviolis, put them on a cookie sheet and froze them for an hour.  Then I tossed them into a freezer bag and tossed into the deep freeze.  The Interwebs say that they should keep for 3 months and to make them straight from the freezer next time.  I’ll let you know how that works out later.

A win for used cookbooks and TVP

I’ve had this bag of Bob’s Red Mill TVP (textured veg protein) in my freezer for about 4 months.  Sometimes things seem like a good idea when you purchase them only to get a product home and be at a total loss for usage.  I had this relationship with TVP until I stumbled upon a used cookbook that sparked my interest at Schuler’s Books:  Vegetarian Sandwiches from Chronical Books.  In it a recipe for Vegetarian Sloppy Joes.  I basically bought the book because 1) it has really great pictures in it and 2) it has 3 recipes for TVP inside, also with pictures.  Turns out, I had all of the other necessary ingredients at home in my pantry and from my most recent Doorganics delivery to make this magic happen.  I was both shocked and delighted by the authenticity of the texture that this recipe recreated.  It tastes very, very similar to sloppy joes with ground beef, but doesn’t have that super dense and filling aftermarket feeling.  The recipe as it was written was a little too sweet for my sloppy joe needs so I spiced it up a little, the adjustments are worked into the recipe below.  I’m so glad I made a double batch with the intent of taking some along to the next GVSU tailgate to share.  I’m anxious to see meat-eaters try ’em.

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Vegan Sloppy Joes

Filling:

  • 1 C Texturized Vegetable Protein (TVP)
  • 3/4 C boiling water
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1/2 C coarsely chopped onion
  • 1/2 C coarsely chopped bell pepper (your choice of color)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 4-oz can tomato sauce
  • 1/4 C water
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 1 T packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp Sriracha
  • 2 whole chipotle en adobo, chopped finely
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 4-6 large hamburger buns or rolls or 10-12 slider buns

Directions:  To make the filling, stir the TVP and boiling water together in a medium bowl, let this stand for 5 or more minutes until the water is absorbed and the TVP is softened.

Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet (I used a wok) over medium-high heat.  Cook the onion, bell pepper and garlic through until the bell pepper is tender (8-10 minutes).

Stir the remaining sandwich filling ingredients together in a medium bowl.  Add this mix and the soft TVP to the skillet; stir until the mixture is bubbly.  Reduce the heat and cook, stirring for about 5 additional minutes.

To serve, spread filling onto a bun and enjoy.

Soggy Baby Cukes Remade Into Crisp Quick Pickles

I’m a pickled veggie snob.  I will spend $12.00 on a jar of pickles.  I will eat one a week so as not to get rid of them too soon, savoring every bite, then I will keep the jar of juice and dump baby carrots into the remaining sea of spices until I drain the jar dry.

Today I noticed some very much neglected pickling cukes in the back of my crisper, not looking so much crisp as sad.  Here is my science experiment and foray into quick pickles.  I hope you like it spicy.

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Pickles:

  • 6 baby cucumbers washed and cut into rings
  • 1 habanero pepper cut into 4ths
  • 2 jalapeno peppers cut in half
  • 2 whole cloves garlic smashed
  • Handful kosher salt

Brine:

  • 1 1/2 C white vinegar, cause I’m old school
  • 1 C water
  • 1 1/2 T garlic chopped
  • 5 bay leaves, whole
  • 2 T dried dill, or 4 T fresh dill
  • 1 T black peppercorns
  • 1 T agave nectar
  • 1 T cumin seeds, whole
First, prep the cukes.  Cut into rounds, place in colander, salt generously, let sit for 15-30 minutes.  This should perk up your cukes if they were a little sad like mine.  Place cukes, peppers, and garlic cloves in a couple of jars you have lids for, it could be a jam jar for all I care, just make sure it’s clean.  Since we are not “canning” here, it doesn’t make a difference.
To make the brine, boil for 15 minutes the ingredients listed in brine list.  Remove from heat, pour over veggies in the jars.  Let cool on counter, then pop in the fridge. 
Eat these little guys within the week.

Vegan Zucchini Pancakes

Sometimes inspiration comes in the form of ‘payday isn’t for 2 more days, so use what you have in the fridge’.  This recipe comes from precisely that situation. Thank goodness Trillium Haven Farm CSA and Doorganics day was yesterday, so at least there were fresh veggies from which to create goodness.  The result is Vegan Zucchini Pancakes not to be confused with a prior post, Zucchini Fritters which are definitely NOT vegan (goat cheese).

Vegan Zucchini Pancakes

Cucumber Salad (topping)

  • 1 lb tomatoes
  • 2 small cucumbers
  • 1T balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp EVOO

Pancakes

  • 1 1/2 zucchini or summer squash, shredded
  • 1 medium, sweet yellow onion
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp salt (to taste…err on the side of less)
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 C egg substitute
  • 1/8 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
  • 3 T flour
  • 2 T fresh basil, chiffonade
  • 2 T Parmesan cheese (if Vegetarian, do not include for Vegan)
Directions:
1.  To create the cucumber salad chop the tomatoes and cucumbers coarsely and top with EVOO and balsamic vinegar.  Set aside.
2.  Grate the zucchini and onion, roll up in paper towel or cheesecloth and squeeze until it is fairly dry.
3.  Combine the pressed zucchini and ionion with garlic, salt, basil, nutmeg, fake eggs, flour, salt and pepper.
4.  Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet.  Pour 1/4 C of the batter into the oiled pan.  The batter will be lumpy.  Let the pancake completely brown on one side then flip to brown the other side.  Remove from the pan and place on paper towels.
5.  When you are ready to serve, top the pancakes with the cucumber salad and enjoy.

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Thanks to a reader for writing in that the original recipe for these pancakes were too salty!  I’ve changed the recipe to account for her feedback.  If you are putting these on a bun or in a flatbread, you will need additional salt, but if just eating as a pancake, please follow the change in added salt.  Thanks!

Pectin Free Blueberry Jam

Short and sweet.  This was a small batch I used to experiment with the ratio of sugar to Berries.  I think I can still make it with less sugar.  I’ll let you know what happens with a less sugary recipe later in the month.

If you have excess blueberries, save summer by making Blueberry Jam.

  • 4 C Blueberries, mashed
  • 2 C sugar, white
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced

In a dutch oven over medium heat, cook mashed berries until they boil add sugar, boil while stirring until sugar dissolves, then turn heat down to low and simmer mixture for up to 60 minutes, stirring every few minutes until it reaches your desired jam thickness.  Once you hit the thickness you desire, for me this was 40 minutes, add the juice of 1 lemon and its zest, turn up to medium, bring back to a boil and then shut off heat.

Remove from heat, pour into canning jars and either freeze or if you have done the boiling canning method, seal and keep at room temp.

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The Kohlrabi Has Landed…

…in my CSA bag for 3 weeks in a row.  I admit, even though I’m a well-seasoned vegetarian, this odd vegetable stumped me for uses and it was necessary to run to Google and figure out finally, after 3 weeks, what in the hell to do with multiple kohlrabi (is that the plural?  So confusing.).

While strange looking, sorta like a hot air balloon while it grows, kohlrabi possesses many attributes worth notice:

  • Low in calories, only 19 for a half cup raw, sliced
  • High in dietary fiber, 2.5 grams for one-half cup
  • Potassium content peaks at 245 grams for one-half cup
  • Vitamin content for that same one-half cup includes 25 I.U. vitamin A, 43.4 mg. vitamin C, 11.3 mcg folic acid, and 16.8 mg. calcium.

Turns out, this little guy is also known as a German Turnip and is the bee’s knees in Kashmir where it is the most consumed vegetable (food must really suck in Kashmir).  Everywhere I searched, the claim is that kohlrabi is delish both raw and cooked. Well, I’m here to tell you people, while there are several varieties of this alien veggie, I apparently got the two that suck raw.  Both white and purple variety of kohlrabi, are dare I say it, horrible raw…so off to the interwebs I went in search of a way to browbeat this veg into submission.  I found the perfect solution:  empanadas!  Pie crust can make ANYTHING taste better.  I present to you:  Kohlrabi and Sweet Potato Empanadas.

  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 1 inch of ginger, peeled and grated
  • 2 tsp coriander, ground
  • 2-3 medium kohlrabi, peeled and cut into small cubes
  • 1 large sweet potato, cooked and smashed
  • 2 large scallions, both white and green parts, finely cut
  • 1 radish, minced (optional)
  • 1 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 T butter
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • dash of freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 box of pre-made pie crust or one batch homemade*
  • 1 egg

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In a medium skillet, heat oil and butter over medium heat.  Add garlic and ginger to brown.  Add kohlrabi cubes, a pinch of salt and some pepper. Toss well and cook 3 or 4 minutes until kohlrabi are softening a bit.  Add potato mash and continue to cook for 4 more minutes.  Add scallions, radish, nutmeg, coriander and another pinch of salt and pepper.  Mix well and cook for one minute before removing from heat.  Set mixture to this side to cool.  It should be a very, very dry, looking mixture.  Moisture equals disaster for empanadas.

Roll out dough to be a little thinner than pie crust typically is.  If you are using pre-made crust from the store, run your rolling pin over it once or twice.   Using a cereal bowl or large circular cookie cutter, cut out 6 inch-ish circles from the dough.  It should yield about 15, give or take depending on your cutter and dough thickness.

Pre-heat oven to 425F and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.   Prepare egg wash by beating egg with a teaspoon of water and set to the side along with a small bowl of water.

To make the empanadas, spoon one teaspoon of kohlrabi  mixture into the center of a circle of dough (it’s better to have less filling than too much or the empanadas won’t hold together. Feel out the right ratio that allows you to close off the dough without any filling popping out.).   Dip your finger in the bowl of water and run it around the outside edge of the dough.  Fold dough over the filling to create a half circle.  Press down edges.  Carefully pick up the dough pocket and pinch edges or use a fork, then place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and brush with the egg wash.  The video below shows how to appropriately fill and thus seal an empanada.  Caution:  it only LOOKS easy.  By the time you have made all of your precious empanadas your last one will look like this person’s first one; it is however, well worth the effort.

After you assemble the dough pockets, pop them into the preheated oven, cooking for 8 minutes on the first side, then flip and cook for 5 more minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly on a rack so they don’t get soggy.  I served mine warm with what else, Frank’s Red Hot.

**My next kohlrabi experiment is going to be this:  Kohlrabi Curry.

Replace Gluten AND Eggs? It’s Worth A Try.

Warning:  I’m not a *real* chef, AND I got a C+ in organic chemistry, B+ in inorganic chemistry.  Proceed with caution.

Excess zucchini means science experiment time!  I have lots of vegan friends and recently a handful of gluten free friends, so I decided to see if I could please both of them with a summertime staple:  zucchini bread.

First, the research for a gluten free bread recipe was pretty easy, but…wait Xanthan Gum?  What is that?  I had an idea of what that did in gluten free baking but no idea where it came from or where even to get such a thing, certainly I wasn’t going out for it.  Thanks to Wikipedia I again know way more about an ingredient than I care to, thus, had to find a replacement which WAS NOT a chemical.  It dawned on me that flax basically can be used as a sub for anything….so why not as a sub for xanthan gum.  Turns out, lots of people think xanthan gum is icky like I do, and use flax as a sub, teaspoon for teaspoon.  Now…in my vegan banana bread recipe, I also subbed flax and water for eggs, decided to try that in this one too.  Science experiment complete.  I crossed my fingers hoping it would taste okay and had SUPER results!

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This bread came to work with me to our staff meeting and noshers said it was super moist, and slightly spicy.  I particularly appreciated the crispy exterior and the chewy interior.  Bonus is that it didn’t need a spread of any kind, it stands on its own two feet.

This recipe makes one loaf.

  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 1 ½ cups freshly shredded zucchini
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs (or to Veganize it: 1T flax seed ground with 3 T hot water)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla (check this, some have gluten in them-gross)
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 ½ cups GF Flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill chickpea and fava bean)
  • 1 teaspoon flax sprinkles for each cup of flour
  • up to 13 teaspoons hot water (I know this sounds random, but it depends on the type of gluten free flour you use how much water you will need)

Shred the zucchini, allow it to rest on paper towel to reduce moisture and chop the walnuts in a food processor or by smashing them in a plastic bag and set them aside.

Use a mixer to beat the flax/water mixture and add the sugar, oil and vanilla. Add the baking soda, cinnamon, salt and baking powder. Slowly pour in the flour and flax sprinkles (dry) until well mixed. Now if you have made bread before, you will know that the end consistency is not thick like cookie dough, but rather, thicker than cake batter, so to get from cookie dough to almost cake batter, slowly add hot water 1 teaspoon at a time until you have a workable quick bread viscosity.  For me, that took 13 teaspoons.

Last, by hand, mix in the zucchini and walnuts. Pour in greased & floured loaf pan and bake at 350F degrees for 55-75 minutes. Let cool.

BerryCakes

Tired of reading about raspberries?  Well, we’ve been eating them for a solid week, how do you think we feel?  The last of ’em went into pancakes a final breakfast.  Using the pancake base from the Milk Chocolate Banacakes post last year, just add raspberries in place of the chocolate and/or bananas and you have breakfast.  Goodbye raspberries!

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Doorganics Tacos

Mike Hughes I salute you.

It’s a rare opportunity when you can shake the hand of the person who not only planted, but harvested and DELIVERED your fruit and/or veggies to, your, door.  I don’t want to ruin the fantasy I have playing in my head about him digging up my little french radishes, putting them in a cooled green bin and driving them over to me personally just to say hi…but he basically did just that.

I’m going to keep this short and sweet.  Doorganics delivered today, thus, these tacos were created from my bin.  Go online, hook up with Doorganics and be pleasantly surprised.  I was.

I give you Doorganics Tacos.

  • 1 tablespoon, vegetable oil
  • 2 cups fresh white or yellow corn kernels
  • 1 cup chopped white onion
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced ( I used purple)
  • 4 french radishes, finely diced
  • 4 green onions, green parts diced only
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 large tomato, roughly chopped
  • 1 large zucchini, diced
  • 1 cup cooked black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 teaspoons fresh oregano leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 warm corn tortillas
  • 1/4 cup salsa
  • goat cheese or Daiya to taste

PREPARATION

  1. Heat half of oil in a large skillet over high heat. Toast corn 5 minutes, stirring; season with salt. Remove corn; set aside. Heat remaining oil in skillet. Cook onion, stirring, until it caramelizes, 5 minutes. Add garlic; cook 1 to 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, both peppers and cook 1 to 2 minutes, until warm-I like ’em crunchy still.  Add zucchini; cook until tender but not mush, 6-10 minutes; season with salt. Add corn, beans, oregano and pepper. Cook 3 minutes. Split filling among tortillas; top each with 1 1/2 tsp salsa, a few bits of radish, green onion and 1 tsp cheese.  This makes a TON more than 8 tacos worth.  I’m taking it to lunch tomorrow sans shells.

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Buckle Up…Another Raspberry Recipe

If you like berries but don’t want to be overwhelmed with a sweet dessert-like cake, this recipe is for you.  Tastes great with coffee, or fatten it up with some ice cream.  Be careful not to overbake or it will be dry, if anything, underbake it slightly so it retains its tender texture.

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Berry Buckle

  • 2 C all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ C shortening
  • 2 C berries (mixed, raspberries, or blueberries)
  • ¾ C sugar
  • 1 egg
  • ½ C milk
Topping:
  • ½ tsp cinnamon
  • ½ C sugar
  • ¼ C Earth Balance, or butter
  • 1/3 C all purpose flour

Beat shortening and gradually add sugar, egg and milk.  Add dry ingredients.  Stir in berries gently.  Spread into 9 x 13 pan.  Cut butter into flour, sugar and cinnamon.  Sprinkle over batter.  Bake at 350 degrees F for 30-40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Saved The Best For Crisp

While making the raspberry jam from the previous post with some of the mushier berries, I couldn’t wait to make this crisp from Ina Garten’s recipe with the perfect berries.  Alas, I opened up the fridge and no butter.  Each of Ina Garten’s and Paula Deen’s recipes begin with butter, so a trip to the store was needed before I could begin, but the outcome was well worth the wait.

You could make this vegan with Earth Balance sticks pretty easily.  I like to over bake the crisp just a little so it’s super crunchy.  It can be baked ahead of time and reheated but who in the world has the willpower to let a hot fruit crisp hangout for future consumption?  Not this girl.

For your immediate consumption, I give you a modified version of Ina’s Peach and Raspberry Crisp, modified for the raspberry lover.

  • 1 orange, zested
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 1/2 cups plus 2 to 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 pints raspberries
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup quick-cooking oatmeal
  • 1/2 pound cold unsalted butter, diced

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the inside of a 10 by 15 by 2 1/2-inch oval baking dish.

Combine in a large bowl, add the orange zest, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar, and 2 tablespoons of flour. Toss well. Gently mix in the raspberries. Allow the mixture to sit for 5 minutes. If there is a lot of liquid, add 1 more tablespoon of flour.   Pour this mixture into the baking dish and smooth the top.

Combine 1 1/2 cups flour, 1 cup granulated sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar, salt, oatmeal, and the cold, diced butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on low speed until the butter is pea-sized and the mixture is crumbly. Sprinkle evenly on top of the raspberries. Bake for 1 hour, until the top is browned and crisp and the juices are bubbly. Serve immediately, or store in the refrigerator and reheat in a preheated 350 degree F oven for 20 to 30 minutes, until warm.

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The Gift That Keeps On Givin’

Mr. Wonderful and I have a very, very large raspberry bush.  Since raspberries last for about 10 seconds after you pick them, I picked a few large batches and then cooked like crazy.  The next few posts are all about the Raspberry.  First up, Raspberry Jam.

  • 4 C mashed fresh raspberries
  • 4 C white sugar

No need for pectin here people, finally a use for the seeds!

Use a VERY large pot, like a dutch oven, add to it the mashed raspberries.  Cook over med-high until the jam reaches a full rolling boil.  Boil x 2 minutes.  Add sugar and stir well.  Bring back to a boil, stirring consistently, boil x 2 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Beat with rotary beater x 4 minutes.  Pour into jars, either sterile and shelve when proper seal has been achieved, or pop into plastic containers and freeze.

*5# of berries is approximately 9 C crushed berries.

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Radish Sammich

My previous post discussed the ever important Village of Manchester Chicken Broil in all of its glory.  Something I remember more than the chicken dinner, were the leftovers from the dinners and what my Grandma Helen used to make from them (we always ate Chicken Broil at Grandma’s house).  In case you neglected to read the links provided in that post, let me briefly recap:  the dinner is comprised of a half chicken, roll with butter, fresh made cole slaw with secret local recipe, radishes, chips and beverage.  What was always leftover besides chicken (which was made into chicken salad)?  Rolls and radishes.  No one EVER ate the radishes until my Grandma made them into ‘sammiches’ with the neglected butter pat.

So just what in the hell am I getting at here, talking about chicken for the last 2 posts?  Well my point is….in my CSA  share bag for the last few weeks, I’ve had radish overload, so I grabbed some slider buns and made a delish lunch of radish sammich and Parmesan cheese, pictured below.  Don’t knock it ’till you’ve tried it.  Besides, what the heck else are you going to do with those radishes?  You can thank me later.

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If you plant a herb garden, you better damn well like pesto.

My herbs are staging a coup d’état in the backyard.

I’m striking back with pesto.

One of my fave 101cookbooks.com blog posts is entitled “How to Make Pesto Like an Italian Grandmother”.  She’s right.  It’s a brilliant recipe; however, sometimes I do not have 1) pine nut cash allowance (so expensive!), 2) oh, I don’t know 1000 extra calories to inhale a 2 tablespoon mouthful of wonderfulness or 3) time to chop BY HAND (wtf?!) a zillion leaves into a paste-like substance-I guess that’s where the grandmother part comes in for Heidi Swanson’s recipe; grandmothers have lots of extra time for this stuff.

Tonight when I realized my parsley was about to FLOWER for goodness sake, I took it upon myself to hack it all down, grab some garlic and headed to the food processor to make, “Certainly not an Italian Grandmother’s Pesto” while muttering to myself, “it’s a damn good thing I like pesto.”

Pesto from the Fridge

  • 2 lemons zested and juiced
  • 2 large handfuls of something delish and green from your herb garden (could really be anything)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, 2 if you are not interested in vampire protection (TrueBlood starts at the end of the month)
  • 1/4 C good EVOO

**To make this real pesto, add 1/2 C toasted walnuts or pine nuts,  sometimes called Pinons and 1/2 C grated parm cheese to the mix then increase your EVOO as needed to get a nice puree.

Hack down a bunch of your herbs you have been neglecting, use the tender leaf part for the pesto (wash and dry it) and the stems to clean out your garbage disposal, it will make it smell better after you grind them up in there and send them to their new water home.

In a food processor, take the peeled garlic cloves, lemon juice, lemon zest and all of that beautiful greenery and blend while slowly adding the EVOO.  You might need less than 1/4 C depending on how liquidy you want the pesto.  I like mine a little bit on the dry side.

To store, I take an old ice cube container, spray a little oil in the bottom and on the sides then portion out my pesto in the little wells which happens to make a nice amount of sauce for 2 people when I decide I need a pasta fix; freeze and then pop out and store in a freezer bag.

I have also used this concoction as:

  • Tofu marinade
  • Combined with greek yogurt to make dip, or thinned with water to make salad dressing.
  • Mixed with more EVOO and a dash of balsamic vinegar to create a quick and flavorful vinaigrette.
  • Tossed with pasta and raw veggies for a quick lunch or dinner.
  • Tossed with pasta, a little pasta water, goat cheese and toasted walnuts for a yummy dinner.
  • On top of crusty bread for the base for bruschetta or plain as garlic bread.
  • Tossed with saute’d mushrooms.
  • Base for marinated olives and bocconcini (baby mozzarella balls) skewers.
  • Base for tortillini soup.
Technically this recipe might be considered a Coulis due to lack of cheese; but whatever the case, it’s a flexible, cheap, quick and yummy way to put that herb garden to use and just about any herb or green will due.  I’ve even used spinach with fantastic results.  Pulling one of these little cubes out of the freezer in February makes my heart remember spring.

June Strawberries = Vegan Strawberry Shortcake!!!!!!!

I have always, always loved strawberries.  Like, eat them until you are nearly sick to your stomach love strawberries.  In June I always think, I should really get to a pick-your-own berry farm, but inevitably June becomes September and I have certainly NOT made it to a pick-your-own farm.  June in Michigan brings early berries so today on my way home from Grand Haven, I stopped at a market on Lake Michigan Drive and bought my first summer berries.  Summer early berry season is short, about 3-4 weeks if you are lucky, so get out there! Between this recipe for Strawberry Shortcake and basic inhalation, I managed to polish off 2 pints in about 8 hours.  It’s the best kind of sick you can be.  Berry sick.

When I was a kid, Grandma Helen made the shortcake, and Aunt Mar made the crisps (we will talk crisp, crumble, betty, etc in the fall).  This is the baking powder biscuit recipe I’ve taken from Grandma Helen’s collection and slightly modified to be vegan for all my animal lovin’ friends.

Vegan Baking Powder Biscuits

Sift before measuring.
1. Preheat oven to 450 F. Sift flour with baking powder and salt into medium bowl.
2. Cut shortening into flour mixture with a pastry blender or 2 knives (used scissors-fashion), until mixture resembles coarse cornmeal.
3. Make a well in the center. Pour in 3/4 cup milk all at once. Stir quickly round the bowl with a fork. If mixture seems dry, add a little more milk to form dough just moist enough (but not wet) to leave side of bowl and form ball.
4. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface to knead. Gently pick up dough from side away from you; fold over toward you; press out lightly with palm of hand. Give the dough a quarter turn. Repeat ten times.
5. Gently roll out dough, from center, to 3/4 inch thickness.
6. With floured 2 1/2 inch biscuit cutter or a juice glass like Grandma Helen did it, cut straight down into dough, being careful not to twist cutter.
7. Place on ungreased cookie sheet; bake 12 to 15 minutes.

Makes 8 (2 1/2 inch) biscuits.

DROP BISCUITS:

When I’m too lazy to roll and cut, I make drop biscuits by using the recipe for Baking Powder Biscuits, but increasing milk to 1 1/4 cup. Do not knead or roll out. Drop dough, by tablespoonfuls, onto lightly greased cookie sheet; bake at 450 F. for 10 minutes, or until golden brown.

Makes 20.

For the rest of the strawberry shortcake, I took a pint of berries, washed, hulled and sliced them and mixed them in a deep bowl with 1 T sugar and 1 T peach schnapps (don’t judge me – any flavored liquor you like will do here).  Left this mixture on the counter to create magic while I made the biscuits.  Upcycle the remaining 3/4 C or so of the coconut milk into a flat vegan whipped cream by using your hand mixer on high, toss in a 1/2 tsp of sugar and 1 tsp lemon thyme for fun.

To plate, cut a biscuit in half, spoon in strawberries, top with vegan whipping cream and a mint sprig.  Store remaining biscuits in the freezer for peach and nectarine season.  Shortcake isn’t just for berries.

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Want some Kale with your Black Beluga Lentils?

Perhaps you saw the title of this post and thought, WTF I don’t even know what Black Beluga Lentils ARE let alone why I would want Kale with THEM!  I know, I know, weirdo veggie Adrienne wants us to eat crazy stuff and be kind to things with faces…well, yes, but Kale is a powerful, versatile and sturdy vegetable.  It is often overlooked, mostly because the only interaction you ever have with it is under that crappy obligatory unripe melon slice, next to your steak and baked potato at the steakhouse.  Yep, that’s Kale and it’s delicious.

Kale seems a little dark and mysterious, a little scary, and so is the amount of times this woman says “super” in this Kale video.  Nonetheless, it’s a good primer-when you are done watching, come back for the soup recipe will ya?

Black Beluga Lentil Soup

Adapted from Heidi Swanson’s Lively Lentil Soup at 101cookbooks.com

  • 2 C black beluga lentils (or green French lentils), picked over and rinsed
  • 2 C great northern beans, cooked
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 T chipotle en adobo sauce (from the can)
  • 2T cumin
  • 2T smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp pepper, ground
  • 2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp fine-grain sea salt
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 C water
  • 3 C of a big leafy green (chard, kale, etc), rinsed well, deveined, finely chopped

Saffron Yogurt

  • a pinch of saffron (30-40 threads)
  • 1 T boiling water
  • two pinches of salt
  • 1/2 C 2% Greek Yogurt

Bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan, add the lentils, and cook for about 20 minutes, or until tender. Drain and set aside.

While the lentils are cooking, make the saffron yogurt by combining the saffron threads and boiling water in a tiny cup. Let the saffron steep for a few minutes. Now stir the saffron along with the liquid into the yogurt. Mix in the salt and set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a heavy soup pot over medium heat, then add the onion, carrot, and spices and saute until tender, a couple minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, lentils, and water and continue cooking for a few more minutes, letting the soup come back up to a simmer. Stir in the chopped greens, cooked beans, and wait another minute. Taste and adjust the seasoning if need be. Ladle into bowls, and serve with a dollop of the saffron yogurt.

This soup hurts so GOOD!!  It has a little kick to it, but the saffron yogurt is cooling.  To make less spicy, just put in less of the hot stuff up there silly!  I of course added Frank’s Red Hot to this before I served it.

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My new guilty pleasure: Horrocks

I’m sure this is old new to most of you, because I haven’t shut up about Horrocks for about 3 weeks now since my first visit to the grocer in Kentwood. My best find to date, besides their seed packets that are 40% “basically every day” according to the butcher in line behind me, is the Michigan grown lentils, peas and beans.

Horrocks carries Michigan grown and packaged dried items from Carlson-Arbogast Farm in Howard City (that’s 49329 for those of you keeping track). They even have a video on YouTube under the Michigan Farm Bureau Channel:

So what in the world do you do with dried beans?  Well, you soak them on a Saturday night over night, then get up on Sunday and cook them about 70% done (while you are ironing or doing laundry) drain, dry, cool and freeze in bags to add during the work week to delicious stoups, soups, stews, tacos, casseroles, curries, etc.  They will finish cooking in the pot of whatever delicious finished item you create.  Why do this?  Less sodium, a better quality, whole bean in your dish, AND they are CHEAP!  From one bag of great northern beans, dried, I got 9 ziploc bags of cooked beans (2C per bag) to enjoy.

Now if you will excuse me, I’m off to make a lentil stew with white beans from a local grower, surely by this time, you know who I am referring to.  Eat. More. Dried. Beans.  Save a few bucks, help a local grower, and serve a higher quality product.  Oh, and cross your fingers that Horrocks will hire me part-time this summer to feed my foodie addiction; I applied today.

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Tried and True. Asparagus Stir Fry.

In an effort to get Spring to hustle up a little, I bought asparagus today from my new fave food store Horrocks on 44th and Breton in Kentwood.  It’s not quite Whole Foods or Trader Joes, but it is a fine substitute.  When I saw asparagus was on sale, I started dreaming of my fave stir fry recipe from Heidi Swanson at 101cookbooks.com.  When I think of stir fry, I think of this recipe. Salty, sweet, crunchy, tart, easy to add ingredients to, a great clean out the fridge starter recipe and very, very pretty, super green.  It just reeks of good for you.  And if you serve it over soba noodles or brown rice, it will net you 2 dinners and 2 lunches.  Enjoy!

Asparagus Stir Fry

  • toasted sesame oil
  • 8 ounces extra-firm tofu, cubed 1/2″
  • 1 cup shelled edamame
  • 1 hand full pea pods
  • 4 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped ginger (peeled)
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 bunches of asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • a couple big pinches of fine-grain sea salt
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 big handful of toasted cashews, chopped up a bit
  • a few handfuls of spinach, or chopped kale, or chopped chard
  • zest and juice of two limes
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 1 small handful fresh mint, slivered
  • 1 small handful fresh Thai basil, slivered

Have all your ingredients prepped and within arms reach of the stove. Heat a splash of sesame oil in a large pan, or well-seasoned wok over medium high heat. Alternately, you can do this in a dry non-stick pan – one of the few occasions I still use non-stick. When it is hot, add the tofu, and cook until golden – a few minutes. Remove the tofu from the pan and set aside.

Add another (generous) splash of oil to the pan and, as soon as it is hot, add the onions, ginger, red pepper flakes, asparagus, edamame and salt. Stir fry for about a minute, then add the garlic, cashews, and spinach and stir-fry for another minute, or until the spinach wilts. Return the tofu to the pan. Stir in the lime zest and juice and the hoisin sauce. Cook for another 10-20 seconds, stirring all the while.

Remove from heat and stir in the mint and basil. Taste and add a bit more salt if needed.  I like to serve this over soba noodles or brown rice.

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Holiday Leftovers Take I

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I’m terrible when it comes to leftovers.  They typically end up in the garbage.  This dish however, began as stragglers, so not technically leftovers as in cooked and saved, this was mostly the stuff that didn’t get made and that would normally rot in my fridge.  As there isn’t really a recipe, here is what I did:

1.  Roasted the squash (in cubes) and brussels sprouts in a few teaspoons of EVOO at 400 until sprouts were caramelized and squash was done.

2.  Warmed up some leftover Basmati (my fave) rice from a previous stir fry.

3.  Stir fried extra firm tofu with lemon juice, orange juice and the zests of both until the tofu was caramelized and the juice made a little sauce.  Then I tossed in a little soy for salt, it created a little glaze.

4.  To assemble:  tofu on rice, with side helping of veggies roasted and topped with pom seeds from the fridge.  We enjoyed this with some leftover French bread and smoked cheddar cheese.

Nom nom.  🙂

Christmas Day with The Wonderfuls

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On the veggie menu:

  • Cranberry Crostini
  • Apricot Crostini
  • TLT Open Faced Baby Sammies
  • Sweet Potato Chipotle Gratin/Casserole
  • Brussels Sprouts with Cranberries
  • Chocolate Mallow Fondue with Dippers

Cranberry and Apricot crostini are this simple:  toast a French baguette, slather a little goat cheese on it, top with dried fruit and honey if you so desire.  For the cranberry crostini, I used cinnamon/cranberry goat cheese, topped with whole dried cranberries, and for the apricot crostini, I used honey goat cheese, topped with chopped apricots and lavender honey drizzle.

The TLT sammy recipe was adapted from Heidi over at 101cookbooks.com.

Ingredients

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 2 pints tomatoes
  • 2 packages fakin’ bacon tempeh
  • 1 clamshell mixed baby lettuce leaves
  • 1 small package regular plain goat cheese
  • 1 French baguette, sliced and toasted
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • EVOO

The night before, preheat the oven to 400, toss the tomatoes with EVOO and roast until sweet and caramelized.  Save these for the next day in the fridge.  Day of, mash the avocado with the lime juice to make a make-shift-guac, this will go on the crostini at assembly.  Prep the fakin’ bacon per the package instructions.  To cook a bunch of it at a time, I cut the strips in half, put on a baking sheet and tossed into the oven for a few minutes until warm and crispy.  Next, assembly is easy:  take a crostini, top with a schmear of goat cheese, lettuce, avocado numminess, fakin’ bacon, and tomatoes.  Or whatever order your OCD compells you to assemble this tasty bite.

So as not to lull you into submission or boredom with the length of this post here are the other recipes I made.

Smokey Chili Scalloped Sweet Potatoes

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Cranberry Brown Butter

Chocolate Marshmallow Creme Fondue (use the creme so it’s veg friendly, sans gelatin)

Stuff An Acorn Squash, Not A Turkey

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I launched this mini “save the turkey” campaign via my Facebook page last week wherein I actually paid $20.00 to adopt a turkey, which equates to sponsoring a month of food for the poor little guy to offset what he might have sold for at the market to become someone’s dinner Thursday (yikes take a breath!).  This brought on the usual slew of “what are you gonna eat for dinner if not a turkey?” commentary from people who think that vegetarians/vegans only eat lettuce.  Oh, and for this behavior, I was basically called a Communist by one of my Republican friends.  A Communist, really?  Huh.

While Mr. Wonderful and I basked in the yum that is Chipotle tonight, chasing a Costco expedition high that ended with the purchase of more wine, cheese and bread than two people should even contemplate purchasing, we discussed what parts of Thanksgiving we liked best and it was hand’s down:  sides and desserts. Mr. Wonderful maintains that basically you eat like 2 pieces of dry turkey out of obligation and then head right for the stuffing, cranberry chutney, potatoes and gravy, green bean casserole, 7-layer salad, sweet potatoes and dinner rolls.  I don’t disagree.  As long as I can remember I headed right for the scalloped potatoes, the spinach gratin, sweet potato casserole, corn pudding, and of course, the homemade yeast rolls.  Top it off with a little pumpkin pie, and…oh, I forgot to mention the endless precursors to Thanksgiving dinner, where you stuff yourself before you stuff yourself with as many gherkins that will fit in your mouth at once, black olives you wear on the tips of your fingers and nibble off that taste like the tin can they fell out of, little cubes of cheddar “fancy” cheese where the serving size is a fist-full, along with all you can eat Wheat Thins and Triscuits, I mean, seriously, this is Americana at it’s finest.  Who needs a turkey? Not us.  Oh, and keep those little wieners in bbq sauce to yourself too. Sick.  Sick.

Here is my “main dish” for Thanksgiving, it mixes a few of my fave sides all into one delish, not to mention beautiful dish.  Give it a try, I bet you will serve more of this than that Turkey Lurkey.  I have yet to go home with leftovers.  Consequently, if you do have leftovers, you can wrap these individual portions in plastic wrap and freeze for up to 2 weeks, defrost in fridge and warm back up in the oven to rehash their goodness when you need a quick bite to eat, post food coma day.

Quinoa and Wild Rice Stuffed Acorn Squash
  • 6 small acorn squash, halved and seeds removed
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 cup uncooked wild rice (), rinsed
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
  • 2 tsp EVOO, optional
  • 4 green onions (white and pale green parts), chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/3 cup chopped granny smith apple tossed in a bit of lemon juice to keep from browning
  • 1 T fresh sage
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1/3 cup dried apricots, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped and toasted pecans, walnuts, or hazelnuts
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup fresh-squeezed tangerine or blood orange juice
  • Salt to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Arrange squash halves cut side down in baking dish or roasting pan. Bake until tender, 25 to 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, make filling. In large saucepan, bring 4 cups water to boil. Add wild rice and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Reduce heat, cover and simmer until rice is tender, about 40 minutes. Drain if necessary.
  3. In another large saucepan, bring remaining 2 cups of water to boil. Add quinoa. Reduce heat and simmer until water is absorbed and quinoa is tender, about 12 minutes.
  4. In large, deep skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add green onions, celery, apples, and sage, and cook, stirring often, until vegetables begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Add dried fruits and nuts and cook, stirring often, until heated through. Using a fork, fluff quinoa and wild rice, then add both to skillet. Add juice and mix until heated through. Season with salt.
  5. To serve, remove squash from oven and arrange on serving platter. Spoon filling into each squash cavity and serve.

More pics to come.  This recipe adapted from Vegetarian Times, 2007.

Vegan MoFo Readers Inspire

This is an infant blog. I post willy-nilly when I feel like I have righted some food wrong in the universe with a really delicious recipe. Mostly I blog about food because when I tell people I’m vegetarian or semi-vegan, people give me that blank “deer in the headlights” sort of stare; however, in reality, vegetarianism and veganism is not so uncommon. According to a recent study by my friends at Vegetarian Times, 7.3 Million people are vegetarian, of those 1 Million are vegan, consuming NO animal protein at all and a pretty incredible 10% of US adults, say that they are “vegetarian inclined”.

Good work friends. Keep up your enthusiasm and fierce dedication to a meat free lifestyle and I will keep sharing simple, fun and fresh meat-free recipes to assist your quest for a veg life. If I can do it, so can you. I even have Mr. Wonderful requesting and eating TOFU when we go out to restaurants. It’s a great contagion. Happy Vegan MoFo-ing. Be sure to check out other blogs linked to this site:  Vegan MoFo Headquarters.  Cheers to your next meat free masterpiece.

One Potato, Two Potato, Three Potato, Vegan MoFo!

Confession:  I ate out tonight.  Worse yet, tomorrow I begin noshing at Restaurant Week GR, which means, the next 10 days will have more dining out than I care to admit to…however, in honor of November 2, Election Day FINALLY being behind us, I give you a recipe I will be making at some point in the next few days, as I have already baked off the potatoes in prep for it:  Baked Potato Soup. What’s the correlation to Election Day?  Well, I came across this YouTube clip of the humble potato and its rise to fame in 1992 when then VP Dan Quayle was schooled by a 6th-grader in how to spell the singular of potatoe, er, I mean potato.  Soup’s on!

Baked Potato Soup

2 T EVOO
1/4 of a large onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
4 baking potatoes (about 2-1/2 lbs.)
2/3 cup all-purpose flour (about 3 oz.)
6 cups milk (reduced fat if you prefer, or plain soy if vegan)
1 cup shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese, divided (use reduced fat if you prefer or soy if vegan)
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 cup reduced-fat sour cream (for garnish, omit if you prefer)
3/4 cup chopped green onions, divided
6 faux-bacon slices, cooked and crumbled or other meat sub that has a smoky bite to it.  I used Morningstar Ground Sausage Crumbles in a pinch tonight.
Cracked black pepper (optional)

*adapted from Cooking Light, Rachael Ray and anon on the Interwebs