Tangy Shrooms & Greens

Buying fresh spinach is a big commitment for me. I take into consideration the expiration date, and make sure I have smoothies, wraps/sandwiches, salads, and/or dishes like these planned. Organic spinach is expensive, and while I want to get a good value on an economy bag of organic greens, I just hate to waste any food (yet alone costly organic produce)!

Actually, raw spinach and kale freezes well, in my experience. I leave it in the original bag and if I want small pieces of the green, I wait until the leaves are frozen, then squeeze the bag all over.

I’ve made other’s recipes similar to this dish that called for balsamic vinegar and lemon juice. Today I decided to improvise without lemon juice, and give apple cider vinegar a try…and it was delicious!

Recipe:
Preheat nonstick skillet over medium-high. Add raw sliced mushrooms. Cook, stirring occasionally, until they begin to release their juices. Then add apple cider vinegar, soy sauce, chipotle Tabasco, minced garlic, and spinach or kale. Cook, stirring often, until liquid is absorbed. Yum!

Catboy doesn’t like mushrooms and didn’t try it, but Hunny Bunny asked for seconds. They cook down and reduce in size, so don’t be afraid to throw plenty of shrooms and greens into the pan.

Muffins!

I had a collection of muffin recipes before I went vegan. They were pretty traditional, with all-purpose (AP) flour (which I’d haphazardly exchange for whole wheat as I felt like it/had it available), egg, and sometimes milk. I did like to use pumpkin puree or unsweetened applesauce, but they always included sugar and CHOCOLATE CHIPS. We lloooovvve chocolate chips!

More recently my baking efforts have been a little more sophisticated, in that I want to use a recipe that is specifically designed for the particular flour that I use. But I don’t like the idea of using AP flour–I seek out whole wheat recipes. I have found some good ones:

Dark chocolate banana bread: I’ve never been a fan of bananas. This includes smoothies that include bananas, banana flavored candies, and banana bread. But, I’m a vegan now, I eat plants, so I think I should try to get on board the banana train if I want to eat muffins. I made this quickbread as muffins, so it counts. I decided to try it because my kids like bananas and muffins, I had new star-shaped muffin molds, and chocolate (it can’t be that bad with all that chocolate, right?). It was ok. The kids liked them, but I had a hard time with the banana. The second time I made it, I had a cold and a stuffy nose, and couldn’t taste the banana. I loved them that day.

Sugar-free banana muffins: I used molasses instead of honey, vegan margarine as the butter, and some sort of egg replacer (I don’t remember–either pumpkin puree, aquafaba, or Ener-G, I’m guessing). I also left out the walnuts. These were super delicious, but unnecessarily sweet. Also, I get her point, but it irks me when people say “sugar free” when you just sub a liquid sweetener or xylitol for the sugar. Really, with overripe bananas, you can get by with very little sweetener.

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Bread from Chocolate Covered Katie: This recipe was already vegan, so I didn’t make changes, other that omitting the additional sweetener. I went with canned pumpkin puree, sugar over xylitol, spelt flour over AP, and my milk of choice was unsweetened almond. I don’t have pumpkin pie spice; I just used a combination of cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves (in ascending order) to make up the 1/2 teaspoon called for. I had to bake it for a little longer that the recipe specified. This doesn’t have any fat like butter or oil, but it was still pretty good for me and the kids. And chocolate chips are in it, so ya know…:-D

Those chocolate chips got me thinking…they are sweet enough that whatever I throw them into doesn’t need to be so sweet. Maybe I could find an “unsweetened” muffin recipe rather than “sugar free”. More on that later!

What attributes do you look for in a muffin recipe?

Chick’n-y Green Beans and Carrots

I made this dish for my family, and it went over well with myself and my kids. So I made it for my omnivorous, Standard American Diet extended family, and they loved it! Even my 1-year-old nephew gobbled it up.

First I took the ends off of about 10 oz fresh green beans (local farmer’s market!) and broke into bite size pieces. Then I sliced about 6 oz organic carrots (I buy them from Walmart for less than $1 a pound and slice them into coins or sticks for dipping). I throw that into a frying pan over high heat with about and inch of water and mixed in about a tablespoon Better than Bouillon, imitation chicken style. Once the water boils down, I remove from heat and sprinkle on garlic powder and Chipotle Chili Power (more like hot Ground Red Pepper than Chili Powder; the right kind is important!). The Chipotle Chili Powder gives a very spicy, smoky flavor and is pretty hot, so go easy on it.

Veggie Chili

This tasted a little more like a soup than a chili, so call it Black Bean Veggie soup if you want :-D. I didn’t measure the spices, so just taste as you go (without burning yourself!). It makes 6 generous servings.

Spices:
Smoked paprika
Chipotle sea salt
Ground cumin
Cilantro

Ingredients:
400 grams (measured dry) black beans
1 15-oz can corn
4 mini sweet peppers, sliced/chopped
4 carrots, chopped
1.5 tablespoons minced garlic
255 grams chopped onions (frozen)
1 cup TVP
3 beefsteak tomatoes
1 tablespoon vegetable bullion (better than broth–beef would have been best but I only have veggie)
2 tablespoons coconut oil

For serving:
Caulirice
Daiya pepper jack shreds
Salsa

Instructions:
Soak, drain, and rinse beans. Cook, then drain the liquid and reserve for another use.

While beans are cooking, cut stems off tomatoes, chop (if your blender or food processor requires it), and puree. Simmer over medium heat with bullion and a little water.

Meanwhile, preheat coconut oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook until translucent. Add garlic. Continue stirring often until they start to brown. Add spices, carrots, and peppers. Stir and cook a few minutes, then add corn (drained). Once oil is absorbed and veggie are browning, add to tomatoes. Add beans to tomato puree when they are cooked and drained. Once everything but TVP is in one pot, the chili should be more watery than desired. Rehydrate TVP with only .5 cups hot water (season with the spices) or broth, then add to chili and simmer longer.

To make caulirice, place cauliflower pieces in a food processor and process until each piece is about the size of rice, or use a shredder.

Serve with pepper jack and salsa mixed in. Pour the hot chili over raw caulirice and let the heat cook the rice slightly and the dish to cool just a bit. Yum! I made this for all 4 kids, me, and one more adult. I was the only one that added salsa, and the kids did dairy cheese instead of Daiya. Everyone said it was good, and the little ones requested seconds.

I haven’t tried freezing it yet, but I did eat it for lunch the next day. Chili/soup generally tends to freeze well, so this is a great recipe to make ahead of time in a huge batch.

Linguini Marinara with Cauliflower

To prep ahead of time, you can chop cauliflower into small pieces and cook noodles (I used whole wheat linguine). On the day you’ll be serving it, heat a small amount of oil in a pan on high heat. Put in the cauliflower, stir, and saute until cauliflower is starting to brown, adding a generous amount of Mrs. Dash Chicken (according the the container, it includes no sugar or chicken) about halfway through. Add enough marinara sauce for both the cauliflower and noodles, stir, and turn down the heat. Add the noodles and stir until everything is heated.

The little ones all kept telling me how good it was! This dish required no prompting to eat. I probably should have removed their white shirts, though. Catboy put sriracha in his, with yummy results. The leftovers went in the fridge for a different day and was good the second time!

Let me know if you make this–I’d love to see how others like it!

Simple Cornbread (from 31 Meals)

I don’t have a dishwasher. If I dirty up dishes cooking something, I have to spend time washing that individual dish. So I look for shortcuts where I can: I purchased an inexpensive food scale, so I can just measure by weight into one bowl, resetting to zero whenever I need to. I also look out for recipes that don’t instruct me to get out 5 different bowls just to mix (aren’t I using enough with the measuring and the baking and the serving???).

Minimalist Baker understands. Their blog has a whole category for recipes using only one bowl! They also have a cookbook filled with recipes that are one bowl, 7 ingredients or less, or 30 minutes or less. I haven’t tried very many of their recipes, but the chili and cornbread was sooo good. I made the cornbread a second time a few days ago, and I think it’s going to be the kind of recipe I make in small batches, because otherwise I just keep eating it until it’s gone!

I didn’t stray from the recipe, just left out the optional corn. It’s important to note that it rises a lot (like double) so keep that in mind if you are baking it in a pyrex dish to store with a lid for later, like I did. It kept in the fridge well for a few days, but we finished it before trying to store it any longer that that!

It has a very moist, creamy texture that is different from the more cake-like, slightly crumbly homemade cornbread I’ve had before. I didn’t add more calories with the suggested butter and syrup, just sprinkled cinnamon over mine. Hunny Bunny loved her “cake”. Catboy went back for seconds, then snacked on more later, then had more cornbread for a later snack.  I’d say my family approved it!

Chocolate Applesauce

I crave chocolate regularly. I could probably eat it with every meal and not get sick of it. I’ve been trying to reduce the amount of sugar in my diet, but I have no desire to reduce chocolate nor the accompanying antioxidants, fiber, or iron. Sometimes I go with stevia, but I really like fruit, too!

I’ve found that unsweetened applesauce is plenty sweet. Even if I want it chocolate flavored! Before I paid much attention to labels and calorie counts, I would sometimes make a “sundae” featuring applesauce and Milky Way hot fudge-type topping. These days, I always have plain cocoa powder on hand (my favorite is Hershey’s Special Dark), and I add in about a tablespoon per cup of applesauce. If I really want to indulge, I might throw in some peanut butter, too. If I can wait, sometimes I’ll throw it in the freezer for up to an hour so it gets a bit of a slush-y texture. I’ve also successfully added blueberries to chocolate applesauce for some extra flavor, texture, and vitamins.

What do you like in applesauce? Cinnamon? Strawberries? Nuts?

Pumpkin pie frosting-topped oatmeal cups

My kids get bored with bowls of oatmeal for breakfast. I get bored with cooking it. So sometimes I’ll use Chocolate Covered Katie‘s recipe for baked oatmeal, and make a huge batch for the freezer. To make it a little more fun for the kids, I decided to top it with “frosting” (inspired by Katie’s whipped cream trick) and sprinkles!

image

I am not a food photographer 😉

 

I mixed:

210g pure pumpkin

15g powdered sugar

5 drops english toffee flavor liquid stevia

several drops pure vanilla extract

~1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

6g cornstarch

in a bowl. I wasn’t ready to use it yet, so I put a lid on in and kept in in the fridge a few days. When I was ready to serve, I heated the oatmeal cups in a microwave until just barely warm and completely thawed, and piped the pumpkin through a frosting bag with a star tip. Then I topped with some mini chocolate chips–Ghiradelli is delicious, vegan, and available at my local Walmart.

I enjoyed them, especially when I sprinkled some dark cocoa powder onto it. Catboy disliked the difference in temperature (warm muffin and cold frosting), but delivered slightly positive reviews otherwise and said “yes” to me making it again. Hunny Bunny asked for seconds and wanted to eat lots of chocolate chips. I got the stamp of approval from the 2 little ones as well. I’ll be making this again!