Thursday, October 30, 2008

Yummy Sweet Balsamic Dressing

No gooky fillers here... just flavor.

1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2-3 tbsp agave nectar
1 tbsp garlic powder
1-2 tsp sea salt

Place everything in a jar or bottle and shake it up baby!
Makes enough for about 2-3 good sized salad servings. (My salad serving may be larger than yours!)

Come to think of it, a little crushed basil might rock in this dressing. Try it and let me know!

Veggie Shepherd's Pie

A vegetarian twist on a cozy, hearty comfort food.
If you have kids that are picky about the way their food looks, you may have to talk fast. The gravy is delicious, but quite green and oozy! It'd be a great one for St. Patty's Day.
For ease and convenience, you could use a frozen veggie mix and add the onion and whatever else.

Veggie Shepherd's Pie

1 - 2 cups broccoli florettes
1 cup carrots
1/3 onion (white, red or yellow)
about 8 spears asparagus
1-2 cups cauliflower
1-2 cups fresh or frozen green beans
1 cup frozen corn kernels

1 tbsp olive or coconut oil
1 can coconut milk
1 large clove garlic
a little but of grated onion
about 1 cup finely diced mushrooms
1-2 cups fresh spinach
1/2 red pepper
2 tbsp corn starch or other thickener
sea salt

8 red potatoes (or whatever you have- adjust the numbers for approximate potato size)
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup rice milk or coconut milk
2 tbsp butter or vegan spread
sea salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Wash and/or peel potatoes. Chop and put on to boil with whole garlic cloves.
If using fresh veg, chop coarsely and steam lightly (not too much or you'll end up with mush).
Place steamed veg or veggie mix in bottom of baking dish.
When potatoes are soft, drain, mash and mix with rice milk, butter and salt.
To make sauce:
Heat oil on medium heat in skillet or pan.
Saute mince garlic, onion and mushrooms in skillet for about 2 minutes. Add coconut milk and stir well. Whisk in corn starch. bring to a low boil and then turn down heat to simmer, stirring frequently.
Place spinach and red peppers in food processor or blender and puree, adding a little water if necessary. Mix puree into gravy mixture in pan. Sea salt to taste.
Pour gravy over vegetables in baking dish, cover with mashed potatoes, top with a little sea salt and bake for 15-20 minutes.
Remove from oven and let cool for about 10 minutes before serving.

(I told my kids the gravy was Halloween ooze.)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Balsamic Garden Pasta

Once upon a time I created a chicken pasta that swiftly became my husband's favorite. He requested it last night, but I have an aversion to chicken lately and with our current 90% vegan lifestyle, the chick doesn't fly. And so, an adaptation.

Balsamic Garden Pasta

approx. 14 oz whole grain spaghetti or other whole grain pasta
1/2- 1 cup plus 2 tbsp olive oil
approx 2 cups grated carrots
1 large clove fresh minced garlic
approx 3/4 cup finely diced red pepper
1 cup chopped fresh mushrooms (about 8 baby bellas)
approx 1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
approx 2-3 cups fresh spinach, chopped
3 roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
about 1/2- 1 cup balsamic vinegar
sea salt
garlic powder
dried basil

Cook pasta according to package directions. Toss with a little olive oil and set aside.
Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet or pot.
Saute garlic, carrots, peppers, mushrooms and corn, on medium heat for a few minutes, adding more oil as needed.
Add cooked noodles to skillet along with balsamic, more oil, spices, tomato and spinach.
Toss everything together over medium low heat until spinach is wilted.
Serve warm on it's own or with garlic bread.

My husband liked this just as well as the original chicken pasta.

Monday, October 27, 2008

An Old Fave- Quinoa Salad

Cold or warm, this one's a winner.

Cook up about 2 cups of quinoa (I do it in the rice cooker). Cook it just as you would rice- at a 3:1 water to grain ratio (so 6 cups of water, two cups of quinoa).

While it is cooking, start chopping some veg!
This is another one of those 'whatever you've got' recipes.

My favorites:
black beans
tomatoes, seeded and chopped
cucumber, seeded and chopped
red/purple onion
frozen or fresh corn kernels
chopped flat leaf or baby spinach
red peppers
yellow peppers
chopped or shredded carrots
sliced black olives
artichoke hearts

Chop everything pretty finely and place in a large bowl or tupperware (with a lid is good but not mandatory). Add the cooked, warm quinoa to the bowl and mix well. Add 1/2 to 1 whole bottle of Kraft Roasted Red Pepper Italian Dressing. (Or your favorite Italian type dressing. I have also done this with olive oil, balsamic, white vinegar, agave, garlic powder and sea salt.)
Mix everything together and let sit for at least 10 minutes. Serve warm or cold.
Cover and refrigerate leftovers.

I like this one better cold after it's had at least an hour to soak. SOOOO good!!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Pina Colada Chutney

I was two weeks out from my last Costco trip and in need of some lunch but unwilling to eat anything just for the sake of eating. I needed something good. Out came random cans and leftovers and the dregs of my fresh stuff and here's what happened:

Pina Colada Chutney

1 cup leftover cooked brown rice
1/2 large can drained and rinsed black beans
1 14.5 oz can petite diced tomatoes with sweet onions
1/2 can drained pineapple
approx 1 cup fresh spinach, chopped
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp sea salt
3-4 tbsp unsweetened shaved coconut

Throw everything but the coconut into a pot and mix well. Heat on stove top stirring occasionally until warmed through. Top each serving with desired amount of coconut and enjoy!


Saturday, October 18, 2008

For Dinner Tonight

This one is an adaptation of a recipe from my awesome mother-in-law- who adapted it from an "Original Fast Foods" recipe.
It is super easy and super yum and calls for basically whatever you have around!

Rainbow Roasted Veggie Potatoes

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Chunk and chop whatever good veg you have into a bowl.
Some of my faves for this:
red onion
whole garlic cloves
yellow squash
asparagus (cut in two inch sections)
fresh or frozen green beans
chopped and seeded roma tomatoes
red, yellow or green peppers
baby carrots

Drizzle in some olive oil and toss to coat. Spread veg mix onto a baking sheet and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper if desired). Put in hot oven for about 40 minutes, stirring at 20 minutes.
While veg roast, chop, boil and mash potatoes (red are my favorite- I leave the skins on, whatever you have will do) with a little butter, sea salt and chicken broth, vegetable broth or coconut milk.
Serve roasted veggies over mashed potatoes.

Originally there was a gravy that went over this, but we love it without the gravy and just nixed it altogether.

You can also substitute the mashed potatoes for mashed sweet potatoes or yams.


Friday, October 17, 2008

Autumn Pasta Rolls

Yum. This is another creation of mine. Easy and healthy.

Autumn Pasta Rolls
1 package Ayuzama wraps (sheets used to make eggrolls)
1/2 small to medium zucchini
1 gala apple (fuji or similar type would work)
approx. 2-3 cups fresh spinach
approx 1 cup shredded mozzarella plus a little extra to sprinkle on top
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp dried basil
1 and 1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp dried oregano
Pasta sauce
1 can diced tomatoes
2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
(place all in blender and pulse until mixed well but slightly chunky)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Place spinach and cheese in food processor with chopping blades. Pulse until finely chopped. Remove chopping blades and use grater to grate cored apple and zucchini into the mix. Add nutmeg, basil, oregano, garlic and a little salt and stir with spoon by hand until well incorporated.
Spread a few spoonfuls of sauce in bottom of baking dish (prepared with cooking spray). Scoop about 1/3-1/2 cup of filling into the center of a wrap sheet and roll into a tube and place roll in baking dish. Repeat until filling is gone, placing wraps side by side in baking dish. Once dish is full, cover wraps with remaining sauce and sprinkle with mozzarella. Cover with foil and bake for 40 minutes. Remove foil and bake for about 5 more minutes. Let cool and set for about 10 minutes and serve with a colorful green salad.
Makes about 8 rolls- feeds 4-6.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Savory Garlic Coconut Shrimp Risotto

Holy Moly. This one came out of nowhere!

Once a week or so our family eats a little meat with our dinner. It usually ends up being Sunday night, but sometimes we have it on Saturdays too. We try to keep the animal product consumption below 10%.
Tonight I pulled some shrimp out of the freezer and some leftover brown rice out of the fridge and made magic! I made this up- yes, but I don't know quite how. Heaven.

Savory Garlic Coconut Shrimp Risotto
approx 2 to 2 1/2 cups frozen shrimp (pre-cooked, de-veined, tail off- as easy as it comes)
6 cloves garlic
1 1/2 cups water
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1 tbsp coconut oil
2 cups pre-cooked brown rice
1 13 oz can coconut milk (you'll use 3/4 of it)
3/4 cup frozen corn
approx 1 tsp chili powder

1. Defrost shrimp in warm water.
2.Place garlic cloves, water and 1/2 tsp salt in blender (I used my magic bullet) and pulse until garlic is in fairly small chunks.
3.Drain shrimp, place in bowl and cover with garlic water mixture. Marinate for 10 minutes.
4. Heat coconut oil in large skillet, add diced red pepper and saute for approx 1 minute.
5. Strain water from shrimp and garlic. Add lime juice and a little extra salt and toss to coat.
6. Add shrimp mixture to skillet and stir to coat with oil. Cook for approx 2 minutes
7. Add about 1/2 can coconut milk to skillet and bring to boil, then turn down to simmer. Add chili powder and a little salt. Mix well.
8. Add brown rice and mix in well. Let cook for 2 minutes or so and then add corn.
9. As the rice soaks up the milk, gradually add about 1/4 more can of coconut milk while stirring.
10. Let simmer on medium low until most of moisture is soaked up and it's at about a risotto consistency.
Serve with a colorful green salad and enjoy!

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

When 'friend' is not strong enough a word

Some people are brought into our lives for some small purpose, a fleeting moment in the eternities that guides us ever so subtly on our path. Others effect us awesomely. They boldly help to mold our very beings, to fill chasms and coax us to expand ourselves. They wash in like a tidal wave, turning us on our ear and morphing moments of fear into the thrill ride of a lifetime. They sand smooth the rough spots and build beautiful monuments on our souls. These are those that add fulfillment, that nourish and sate in the far reaches of our spirits. That settle themselves like puzzle pieces into the definition of who we are as if they belong permanently- because they do.