Upcycled Rice Salad

upcycledgrainsalad 1

Do you ever find yourself starving at lunch time and the peanut butter and jelly you’re making for your kids looks dreadful? Turning to your fridge you find, well, nothing. Nothing but a bunch of randomness that makes no sense in terms of a “normal” meal? Or maybe I’m the only one. This here salad is the result of such an afternoon and a template for future afternoons, when you know you need the energy and stamina that comes from whole foods but can’t seem to put it together.

I love the word Upcycling. Upcycling describes how you and your partner are more than the sum of the two parts, or how that almond milk box was transformed from future trash into a bird-feeder. Sure, you and your milk carton were both functional before the change, but now you’ve become magical. It’s so much more than just reusing.

upcycledgrainsalad

So, an upcycled salad is just the mixing of ho-hum parts to make beautiful epicurean harmonies in a matter of minutes. Here’s how it works in my house. My fridge usually has a cooked grain and various and sundry vegetables can be found lying around. If you aren’t accustomed to having lots of vegetables around, it’s time for you to give it a try. Buy things you normally wouldn’t when they’re on sale and try them. I generally also have a random salad dressing I experimented with or some sort of leftover sauce. Right now there is a quasi-creamy balsamic and a raw waldorf. And what kind of a hippie would I be without nuts and dried berries stored in the nooks and crannies of my community kitchen (it’s a small community, but a community nevertheless)?

That’s all a grain salad needs to come together. And when you stir it together, the creative genius inside you will sing songs of happiness, the writer’s block that has plagued you for 12 years will lift, and your children will behave. Or, perhaps, you will at least feel better than if you’d had that peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

upcycledgrainsalad2

Upcycled Grain Salad, this incarnation

2 c. cooked grain – brown rice, quinoa, barley, whatevs.
1-2 c. sturdy diced raw vegetables – carrots, onions, tomatoes, spinach, zucchini, corn, peas, etc.
2 T. chopped nuts, pepitas, or sunflower seeds
1-2 T. chopped dried fruit – cranberries, blueberries, raisins, apples, etc.
½ c. (give or take) Pepita Maple Butter dressing (thinned), or something of your own creation.
*optional: chutney, diced avocado, fresh herbs, random condiments for garnish

Combine everything but your garnish and stir. Garnish, chill (you or your salad, either works) and enjoy.

*You may notice the awesome green stuff on top. It was a rushed, and perhaps failed, attempt to make coconut cilantro chutney from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian, but on this application, it was AWESOME!

“Mexican” Quinoa in the rice cooker? Yes.

Mexican QuinoaI am not an overly scheduled person. I can’t handle a full calendar – that’s what college was for, right? But my son has a reading group at the library on Wednesday afternoons that goes right up to 5pm and my husband has meetings at 6:30. Soooo, if at all possible, I like to have dinner waiting for me when we get home to keep the yelling to a minimum.

I got creative this afternoon. My rice cooker (similar to this one) is very smart and can cook rice 6 different ways. But I don’t understand it very well and the instructions aren’t all that helpful. In fact it came with two special measuring cups for different uses that hold the exact same amount – explain that to me. But I do know how to use the timer (that sings “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” to my daughter’s delight) so I wanted to have something ready when we got home.

Nearly every recipe online for Mexican rice in a rice cooker calls for white rice, not what I wanted and besides, this was for our standard burrito/wraps and we like quinoa better anyway. Though this time I wanted something with more heft than plain quinoa.

Knowing that quinoa and white rice take about the same amount of time to cook made this a more universal recipe, meaning any rice cooker should work. All I needed were the ingredients and a plan – I had the former and came up with the latter. And I’d say it worked since all three kids, the Matt, and I loved it.

Mexican Quinoa

Mexican Quinoa in a rice cooker

Ingredients:

2 ¼ c. water
1 c. quinoa, rinsed thoroughly
½ c. frozen corn
½ medium onion, diced
1 – 2 cloves garlic, minced or 1-2 t. garlic powder
3 T. tomato paste
1 T. dried green chiles or 2 T. fresh or canned, keeping seeds for more heat
1 T. Veggie powder or 1 t. vegetable Better Than Bouillon
1 – 2 t. salt (or to taste)
1 t. cumin
Juice of one lime
Cilantro, for garnish

Directions:

Add all ingredients except lime juice to the rice cooker and cook (or set the timer on your rice cooker to be done when you get home!). As soon as it’s done, fluff it up and stir in the lime juice. Enjoy as is, or use for topping your burritos or tacos or salads.

Supersize me! Autumn Stuffed Banana Squash

This is one large meal where there is no guilt in supersize portions.  And it’s not primarily made of corn, unlike some *other* supersized options out there.

I’ve been dreaming of stuffed squash for the last month.  So colorful.  So flavorful.  So fun!  And with these wholesome ingredients you can’t go wrong. When we found this beauty at the farmers market, I knew the time had come.

Chopping this super size squash in half provided great entertainment for the kids, a task that proves challenging for me every time, apparently it is a talent I just may never master.  Thankfully squash is forgiving.

Autumn Stuffed Banana Squash

1 Banana Squash (or a few smaller squash of your choice), halved, seeded, and ends chopped
3-4 Tbl olive oil
3 c. cooked quinoa (I cooked mine in veggie broth)
juice of 1 lemon (add a little zest for extra flavor)
2 apples, cored and chopped
3 stalks celery, diced
1 onion, diced
1 c. pecans (thinking of toasting these in the skillet for a few minutes next time so they maintain more crispiness)
1 c. raisins
Sage, 1 Tbl. fresh or 1 tsp. dried
sea salt and pepper to taste
optional veggie cheese of choice to sprinkle on right before serving

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Rub 1-2 Tbl olive oil onto flesh of halved squash.  Rub in salt and pepper (to taste).  Lay flesh down on baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes (30 for smaller squash.)

While it bakes, add 2 Tbl. olive oil, onion and celery to skillet.  Cook until softened and shimmery.  Add sea salt and pepper to taste.  In a large bowl toss apple with lemon juice.  Add quinoa, pecans, raisins, sage and sauteed celery and onions.

Pull the squash out of the oven, flip over and fill with quinoa stuffing.  Cover with foil and bake for another 30-45 minutes, or until flesh is soft in the center.

Back to Basics: Baked Flautas

Sometimes, I think, I bite of more than I can chew. And I know exactly what that looks like, since my 2YO regularly has so much food shoved in her mouth that she can’t close it. Not only is it bad for digestion, it’s downright unattractive. Anyway, I digress.

“When stress levels rise, when distress appears, when tragedy strikes, too often we attempt to keep up the same frantic pace or even accelerate, thinking somehow that the more rushed our pace, the better off we will be….One of the characteristics of modern life seems to be that we are moving at an ever-increasing rate, regardless of turbulence or obstacles.”

So, I’ve done it again. This time though, it’s not at all food related. Well, not really. I’m just extra busy with my kids. It’s wonderful and I am so grateful we’ve made the choices we have, but it’s putting pressure on areas that previously had a little wiggle room. Throw in teething (two in three days – really?) and a traveling husband with funerals to attend to and soccer for my 5YO, and well, something had to give.

I think most of us intuitively understand how important the fundamentals are. It is just that we sometimes get distracted by so many things that seem more enticing.

What had to give, sadly, has been my creativity and fancifulness in the kitchen. Dinner has become more of a 50-yard dash (and I use 50 because that’s totally a kid race and I’m totally falling back on kid food) than a loping 10K. (Marathons are pre-kid, let’s be fair.)

“My dear brothers and sisters, we would do well to slow down a little, proceed at the optimum speed for our circumstances, focus on the significant, lift up our eyes, and truly see the things that matter most.”

                                                                                                                    ~”Of Things that Matter Most“, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf

So we’ve been eating a lot of oatmeal at breakfast (my kids actually cheer when we do, so I don’t feel guilty), I’ve been baking this bread (I know it’s not vegan – can you still love me?) and making fresh vegetable sandwiches with garden fresh cucumbers and tomatoes and onions and carrot butter – YUM!, eating Chef AJs dressing on plain Costco greens day in and day out, putting a bunch of stuff in a slow cooker and calling it soup (and then throwing it out when it’s terrible), and shoving more and more green beans from the garden into the fridge with a prayer that I’ll eventually deal with them.

And then on a whim, I resurrected these flautas. But I made them better. And had fresh tomatillo salsa (I’m sure that post is to come…someday). And then we had them again three days later. Quite simply, they were happy, healthy, kid-friendly, and super-fast if you use canned beans. And if you cut things small, you can shove a lot of veggies into them without anybody caring. Mind you, the recipe is totally loose on how you put together your filling. I think the most important part is baking at 425 for 12-17 minutes.

Baked flautas:
Bean filling:

2-3 cans black or pinto beans, drained & rinsed OR 4-5 c. cooked beans

½ c. diced onion

½ c. water

A splash of whatever salsa you have on hand

Add to small saucepan and cook down until creamy and beans start breaking down (help them along with a bit of mashing – you’ll feel better as you do it too.

1-2 c. diced vegetables (peppers, onions, summer squash, carrots)

In another pan, quickly sauté your diced vegetables in a bit of oil or water, just so they’re tender. Then add vegetables to the bean mixture with ½ to 1 c. leftover cooked grains if you have them, and let it all cook until it’s nice and mashy.

Divvy the filling up between 8 tortillas and roll them up. Put them on a cookie sheet, brush lightly with oil, and bake at 425 for 12-17 minutes, depending on how big they are.

Enjoy with guacamole (the best!) and salsa.

And now, I’m going to bed.

The Adventures, Disasters and Redemption of Bravo! (Orange Cinnamon Rice Pudding, Tamales)

Let me just preface this post by saying that the review of this poor vegan cookbook was doomed from the start…

It arrived a few weeks ago. I was thrilled to receive a copy to review and left it on the counter-top and meant to give it a proper read through once I put the littles to bed. When the house was quiet, I went to retrieve it and it wasn’t there. No biggie, things often disappear in this house- only to resurface at some later point. Like clockwork, a few days later, while doing doggy doo doo duty in the yard I spied it beneath the kids playset. It was warped with water damage from the sprinklers and the edges were a bit chewed on by my dog, but otherwise it was perfectly legible and usable. I could blame my toddler or my dog, but I really think it was a conspiracy between the two of them.

I LOVE Ramses story, he was an overweight, worn out chef that was presented with an opportunity to work as Executive Chef at TrueNorth Health Center in Santa Rosa, California. This particular health center happens to focus on a very clean, plant-based diet. Ramses calls his food SOS Free (no sugar, oil or salt). I also figured out that the book is pretty much gluten free as well. As you can imagine, Ramses experienced his own personal transformation once he adopted the same diet he was preparing for his clientele at TrueNorth. He lost weight, gained energy and vitality.

The cookbook is formatted well, is easily searchable and has many excellent suggestions for adding flavor to food without the evil trinity mentioned above. There are plenty of color and black and white photographs too, which I find extremely helpful in a cookbook.

Unfortunately I must have been having an off day in my kitchen when I decided to do some major recipe testing. I made the Coconut Vanilla Granola (page 36,) and the fixins’ for Black Bean Tamale Pie (page 106)  which included Tamale Dough (page 34) and Black Bean Stew (page 98). At the end of the day I also made the Orange Cinnamon Rice Pudding (page 125).

So, the Coconut Vanilla Granola, was pretty good but didn’t completely knock my socks off. (I have super high expectations from calorie dense food, even if it doesn’t contain sugar or oil). It had a really long cook time (1.5 hours, due to the amount of liquid in the recipe), I also found that the amount of granola (more than 10 cups) really needed two large rimmed baking sheets that needed rotation in the oven instead of the one recommended in the recipe. It surprised me however, by being even tastier on day 2.

Oh man, where do I start with the Black Bean Tamale Pie? The beans were somewhat lackluster, but this is more likely due to my inability source epazote and kick my very real salt addiction (something discussed here on this page on the TrueNorth site, under “Adjusting to the Diet“) then a recipe flaw. I stuck to the no salt rule though and ended up adding 2 t. crushed red pepper flakes for an additional kick. The tamale dough on the other hand was a complete disaster. It was more like a runny pancake batter than a hearty tamale dough. I tried to rescue it by turning it into cornbread instead, but the cornbread baked up like a bitter-tasting brick. I don’t like to throw things away in my kitchen, but the whole shebang ended up in the garbage. A very sad event.

At 10pm I made a last-ditch effort to make something really tasty out of the cookbook. This is where the Orange Cinnamon Rice Pudding comes in. Since I didn’t want to stand around for another two hours while it cooked, I dumped everything in my crockpot, gave it a taste (absolutely delicious) and went to bed. Of course fate would have it that it was burnt to a crisp the next morning. My poor crock pot may never be the same.

Not wanting to blast a fellow plant-based diet lover, I emailed Chef Ramses Bravo and told him about the tamale dough. (the other failures were all my fault) I wanted to know if the measurements in the book were wrong. Almost immediately, he sent me back this very helpful reply.

“Hello Somer, Thank you for the interest in my book, I really appreciate it. As for the tamale dough recipe, you are correct in that the amount of broth should end up at 4.5 cups after reduction. It should not end up however like pancake batter. The blended sunflower seeds should have a paste consistency. It should not be watery at all. When we make it here at True North it is very much like regular tamale dough. We actually use the same batter to make tamales or the tamale pie. When we make it for tamale pie the end result is somewhat thick, it is not meant to be fluffy. Tamales do come out fluffy, but that’s because they go in the steamer. I’m not sure if this helps or not, I hope it does. You can always email me with any more questions you might have. By all means, review the book as you experience it.”

So, afterwards, I’m standing in my pantry trying to figure out what the heck went wrong, I’m typically fairly competent in the kitchen despite what you might think while reading this post. A light-bulb went on in my head.

Duh Somer, everything in your pantry is in glass containers and NOT labeled. You mixed up the masa harina for the finely ground corn meal.

Anyone who has worked with either flour knows that one is much more absorbent than the other. Hence the pancake batter issue.

Back to the drawing board.

I’m so grateful I gave these recipes another chance. What a difference a day can make!

Orange-Cinnamon Rice Pudding

recipe used permission of Book Publishing Company

4 C. unsweetened apple juice

1 C. short grain brown rice

Zest and juice from 1 orange

1/4 C. raisins

1 t. ground cinnamon

1 t. peeled and chopped fresh ginger

1/t. alcohol-free vanilla extract

2 C. unsweetened soymilk

1/4 C. almonds, toasted and crushed

Method: The book calls for cooking this on the stove-top, which is too difficult for me while chasing a three year old. I pulled out a different non-burnt crockpot (you know you’re a Mormon when you have crockpots in four different sizes). I added all ingredients except the soymilk and vanilla. I cooked it on high for three hours, then stirred it, turned the heat to low and added the soymilk. I cooked it on low for another hour and then turned it off and added the vanilla. Chill for 8 hours or overnight before serving. This recipe was insanely good!

Tamale Dough and Method

recipe used permission of Book Publishing Company

9 C. vegetable broth (preferably homemade)

1 t. granulated garlic

1 t. granulated onion

3/4 C. sunflower seeds soaked in cold water for 3 hours (I used cashews, I was out of sunflower seeds)

4 C. masa harina (NOT corn meal people)!

2 1/2 t. baking powder

3/4 C. raw tahini (I used up all my tahini trying to make the first batch so I used raw cashew butter), which I think solved the bitterness issue of the first doomed batch.

Method: Put the broth, granulated garlic and granulated onion in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Simmer until the liquid is reduced by half, about 15 minutes. Let cool until lukewarm. You should have about 4 1/2 cups of liquid.

Drain the sunflower seeds (or cashews) saving 1/2 cup of the soaking water. Put the seeds in a food processor and process into a smooth paste, adding the soaking water, 1 tablespoon at a time, as needed.

Combine all ingredients using an electric stand mixer (I used my food processor with the dough blade), mix for five minutes or so until dough is nice and fluffy and combined.


I filled the tamales with the leftover black bean stew from the night before, but you could use vegan refried beans, lentils, or whatever floats your boat. I’m thinking about fajita veggies and pepperjack cashew cheez next time, AND THERE WILL BE A NEXT TIME. Wrap them up in corn husks and steam in a steamer basket for 60 minutes. Serve with salsa. I couldn’t wait and ate mine directly out of the husks. Unbelievably delicious, without any of the dryness issues I encountered last time I tried to make tamales without refined oil!

p.s. my husband doesn’t even like tamales (Australians have a hard time appreciating real Mexican food). He worshiped these.

A special thanks to Ramses Bravo for his time and to the Book Publishing Company for giving me the opportunity to review this book. Despite my kitchen failures, (again, all my fault!) I highly recommend it and hope that it will help me break my own salt addiction! I can’t wait to try ALL the salad dressings, the Breakfast Potatoes, the Tortilla Soup, the Mango Banana Pie and more!

See even more on Chef Bravo’s Facebook page here!

My favorite zucchini casserole and other things to do with all this squash

My mouth starts to water for my mom’s zucchini casserole as soon as we put the first zucchini seeds in the ground. She makes it with loads of cheese and sour cream, then covers it with crunchy seasoned bread crumbs. I had to figure out how to veganize it and I was happily surprised at how well it turned out. My Dad even ate it—twice (he doesn’t know it is vegan).  He just told me it was as good as he has ever eaten! Grandma also enjoyed it, but Grandma tells me everything I bring her is the best thing ever.

Mom’s Squash Casserole

Serves 6

6 cups sliced squash (summer and/or zuchinni)

1 cup shredded carrots

¼ cup chopped onion

2 cups melted cashew cheese (recipe https://goodcleanfood.wordpress.com/2012/06/01/ode-to-cheese/ I measured 2 cups before it solidified. Make sure if you use solid cheese it measures 2 cups melted)

10 oz bread crumbs (if you are counting calories or carbs, reduce to 5 oz) I like to use Arrowhead mills organic savory stuffing, but you can use just plain breadcrumbs, if you do up the vegi bullion

1 tsp vegi bullion

½ cup earth balance (reduce to ¼ cup if you are only using 5 oz of bread crumbs)

Method: Boil squash, onion and carrots for 5 mins, drain, mix with melted cashew cheese, set aside.  Mix melted earth balance, bread crumbs and vegi bullion. Place ½ bread crumb mixture in 9×13 pan, pour squash mixture over the top, spread remaining bread crumbs across top.  Note: if you are only using 5 oz of bread crumbs, don’t put any on the bottom, place the squash mix directly in the pan and then spread bread crumbs over the top.

Bake uncovered, 350 for 30 minutes.

Updated Nutritional info Per serving, (5 oz bread crumbs) Makes 6 large servings (I had the calories for the cheese too high)

Calories Protein Fat Carbs Sugar Fiber
253 10 20 37 7 6

Even with the casserole I still have squash coming out my ears, so I have been trying to incorporate it into some of my “staple” meals. Mountain West Burrito gave me the idea to put it in my burritos (never would have thought of it).

Low Carb Burrito

½ cup black beans

1 onion

1 cup summer or zuchinni squash diced

¼ cup tomatillo salsa optional (costco carries it now)

Costco low Carb Tortillia

4 T Guacamole

¼ cup Salsa (drain the extra juice)

Water sauté onions and squash, add black beans. Warm tortilla in pan, spread guac and salsa, put ½ squash mixture in the middle.

Nutritional Info:

Calories Protein Fat Carbs Sugar Fiber
334 18 12 52 7 19

I LOVE squash breaded and fried, but that doesn’t go well with my calorie budgeting. I found this alternative online. http://www.thenakedkitchen.com/zucchini-chips/ I like it better! I love how the breading stays on. My version:

Zucchini Chips

Ingredients:

1/4 cup Homemade Breadcrumbs (I used arrowhead stuffing crumbs)

1/4 cup nutritional yeast

1/8 tsp black pepper

heaping 1/2 cup white flour

1 cup cold milk (I used soy milk)

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

2 1/2 cups sliced zucchini (about 2 small zucchinis)

2 tsp Herbamere (salt seasoning of your choice)

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In a medium bowl combine breadcrumbs, cheese (if using) and black pepper.

In separate bowl add flour, milk and vinegar.  Gently stir until combined but do not over stir.

Dip zucchini slices in flour mixture and then dredge in breadcrumb mixture.

Place coated zucchini slices on a baking sheet (I line mine with non stick foil for easy clean up!) and bake for 30 minutes, flipping (tongs work best) the slices over once halfway through cooking, or until browned and crisp.

Nutritional Info:

Makes 2 servings.

Notes:

These chips are best eaten right out of the oven.  They don’t save well.

Calories Protein Fat Carbs Sugar Fiber

224

10

5

41

4

6.5

Progress Report (if you want the full story of why  you are getting my weight https://goodcleanfood.wordpress.com/2012/07/25/gah-i-cant-breathe-in-my-fat-clothes/

Nutrition: Stayed within 1400 calorie budget 4 out of 7 days—not stellar, but going to do better this week!

Weight: I weigh in with my trainer every Monday night. I weighed in this Monday at 156, so I am .6 lbs down, which is about right considering I only stayed within my calorie budget 4 days of the seven last week.

Exercise : Running 3 times (about 3 miles each), strength training twice (hour each), and taught one power yoga class

I have been drinking lemon water like there is no tomorrow, cut down on sugar and fat and trying to keep carbs under 100/day—that is kind of hard. But overall I feel good about what I am doing. I am wearing one of my favorite pair of shorts and I can breath!

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ETW: Cafe Supernatural & my copycat Machu Picchu recipe!

The night before my birthday we got a babysitter and hit the town. I sometimes forget how awesome life is with just two until three seems more awesome than five and I wonder what the two of us alone would be like…

I digress. Upon hitting the town, or rather just after we walked out the door, we did as all good married couples do and looked at each other and said, “Huh, what do you want to do?”

“I dunno, leaving the house was a good first step. You hungry?”

“Come to think of it, yeah. Did I eat yet today?” (That was me, if you couldn’t tell – the bottomless pit.)

And then we ended up (after wandering around Trolley Square for 15 minutes) at Cafe Supernatural. Just FYI, so as to spare you the random phone call asking where they are – it’s on the west side, outside of the main building adjoining a yoga studio.  Cafe Supernatural is Chef Ian Brandt’s fourth plant-based venture, following after Sage’s Cafe, Vertical Diner, and Cali’s Natural Foods.

The atmosphere was pleasant, though it made me wish I was going to a yoga class as people came and went. It’s a walk-up and order, sit down and wait kind of place, nice enough without being too pretentious. The menu is relatively small, probably half cooked and half raw, but the brevity didn’t help me decide. So, after telling her I was starving and a nursing mom, upon the recommendation of the girl behind the counter for heartier options, we got the Machu Picchu and the Mesa Azul, and a ginger lemonade. We ordered our Machu Picchu with potatoes AND quinoa (I know, we’re rebels), just so we could try them both. From the menu:

Machu Picchu

Steamed potatoes or quinoa served with steamed seasonal vegetables and roasted chili cashew cream sauce 8.75

Mesa Azul

Two blue corn winter squash tamales with pumpkin seed-tomato mole and baby greens 9.75

Like any good food paparazzi reviewer, we snapped a few shots with the phone. (Why do I always feel so dorky when doing this?) And we were about to eat when the girl behind the counter stopped by our table to mention that I shouldn’t eat the husk on the tamale. Come again? And she was dead serious, and I thought that was hilarious. She was sincerely concerned that I might try to eat the dry papery thing on the outside of sweet succulent goodness. Did it often happen that people tried to eat the husk and she hadn’t warned them and felt bad? Had they been sued? You laugh, but I went to law school and that’s not too far fetched.

Anyway, back to the food. It was fantastical, delicioso, and marvelous – the kind of food that just feels good to eat. But, it had the same problem that Omar’s had, that I was still very, VERY hungry afterward. Two small tamales and a salad (both extremely delicious, mind you, and I would eat them again in a heartbeat) did not a sufficient meal make. Nor did a bit of quinoa, veggies, potatoes and a luscious cream sauce. I wish my meal had been 50% bigger. So, again, we found ourselves elsewhere – Whole Foods this time – looking for a second dinner.

I’ve heard that as we get older, our need to eat reduces (my neighbor told me that today), or maybe we’re supposed to order an appetizer and dessert too, or maybe I’m just so accustomed to “other” restaurant’s meals that I want MORE! Either way, I’ll still probably go back and order those tamales with that amazing mole again. I think about them in my sleep.

But, after what I did tonight, I probably won’t go back for the Machu Picchu, because I recreated it for a fraction of the price and I can eat until I’m full.  And it made enough to feed our new plant-based neighbors (score!). And it will go into the regular rotation because, even with my kids, I think it took me just over 30 minutes to make (plus cashew soaking time), everyone ate it and loved it, and it felt so, so good to eat.

The Machu Picchu Knockoff

  • Assorted Seasonal Vegetables, steamed
    • I used 4 carrots, 1 summer squash, half a bunch of broccoli
  • Thinly sliced potatoes, steamed (I used those ever-present garden ones, probably 10 or so, not quite 1/4″ thick)
  • 3 + c. cooked Quinoa (I started with 1 1/2 c. uncooked and used the open pan-1/2 to 1″ of water above-simmer until cooked method)

Cashew Chili Cream Sauce

  • 1 to 1 ½ c. raw cashews, soaked in water for at least a few hours
  • Juice of one lime
  • 1 T nutritional yeast
  • 1 t. chili powder
  • 1 ½ c. veggie broth (I used 1 t. vegetable base + 1 ½ c. water)
  • Salt, to taste

Drain the cashews, tossing out the water. Place all ingredients in blender and rip until smooth. Cook over medium heat to thicken for a few minutes, stirring regularly or it will burn. Taste, adjust seasonings, and try to not to eat it all. I found that enough salt was the key to making it ever so amazing.

To serve: top cooked quinoa, vegetables and potatoes with cashew chili cream sauce and eat. And eat. And then as you’re putting it away, lick the spoon, scrape the bowl, etc. And you’ll still have enough for lots of leftovers.  Or for the neighbor that just moved here from another continent whose stuff hasn’t arrived yet and is hardcore plant-based. I am SO excited to get to know them.

Vegan Margherita Pizza and “Blissful Bites” Book Giveaway

It’s Somer Saturday and some magical 20 minute dinners can happen when you have a well stocked fridge and pantry. This Pizza is totally doable start to finish in that time frame IF you have the ingredients/supplies on hand.

Margherita Pizza

Grapefruit sized portion of this 5 minute artisan bread dough (incredibly easy master recipe, I always have some version of it in my fridge, this particular batch was 7 days old and made an absolutely incredible sourdough crust)

Handful of fresh basil (mine was courtesy of Amanda’s garden!) Plus a bit extra for sprinkling at the end

1/4 to 1/2 C. pasta sauce (homemade is best, but jarred will do)

1 C. moxerella cashew cheez slices or other vegan cheese

2 or 3 vine ripened sliced tomatoes

sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Method: Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Roll out refrigerated artisan dough onto a lightly oiled baking sheet. Get it as thin as you can! Prick the dough all over with the tines of a fork. Spread with pasta sauce, I go lighter on it to allow the other flavors to shine through. Arrange cheez, basil and tomatoes over the dough. Sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Do not let rise (that’s right, no rising time necessary). Bake for 10 minutes or until cashew cheez is nice and browned. Remove from oven and sprinkle with a bit more freshly chopped basil. Drool. Serve with salad greens.

Today’s giveaway is my personal copy of “Blissful Bites: Vegan Meals that Nourish Mind, Body and Planet” by Christy Morgan. Despite the great recipes inside, I’ve hardly used it and think it needs a new home where it will be more appreciated.

Rules of Engagement:

1- You must be a follower of this blog, if you don’t know how to do that, there is a “Follow blog via email” button at the top column to the right. This contest is open to readers in the US and Canada only.

2- You must like this post (click on the title name of this post, then go to the bottom of the post just above comments and push the like button),

3- You must comment below, telling me what you make when you’ve only got 20 minutes to put dinner together!

Winner to be announced Saturday July 28th, 2012. 

Now for the winners of last Saturday’s Giveaway

3 pre-measured essential oil and rosehip blend that you will need for the remainder of this pit paste recipe It will come to you in a cute teeny tiny oil vial, just dump it in your recipe, and voila, Pit Paste!

The winners are:

Christie at Turning Veganese

Debbie at Going Vegan

Vegan Monologue

Winners were selected by using the random.org service. Please email your mailing addresses to me at goodcleanfoodblog@gmail.com and I will mail you your prize!

I also want to thank you all for your kind comments and virtual hugs during a particularly tough week last week. You literally helped me to snap out of it, I’m back baby!

The blog also received two kind awards! Thanks also to Caralyn at Gluten Free Happy Tummy for giving me the Sunshine Award! And an equally big thanks to Suz at Avocado and Basil for nominating the blog for the One Lovely Blog Award! You ladies know how to make a girl smile!

Veggie Grill Recipe

I tried a delicious salad at the Veggie Grill and needed it again, I scoured the internet, found some recipes, modified a little and this one is VERY close!

My Version of Veggie Grill’s “All Hail Kale Salad”

INGREDIENTS – (serves 4)

Gardein Crispy tenders (I can buy these at Smith’s in my area, check the internet to find them in yours. These are the BEST, you can trick carnivores with these babies)

16 cups Kale (about 3 big bunches)

2 cups cooked quinoa

2 cups corn salsa (recipe below)

2 cups red cabbage

10-16 Tbs chopped walnuts (just depends on how many you like)

3 cups Ginger Papaya dressing

Ginger Papaya Vinaigrette (1  1/4 quarts this is so yummy)

1 oz fresh ginger root or (1 T gound)

1 cup lime juice

1 ½ cups fresh papaya  (about one large Papaya)

½ cup rice vinegar

1 Tbs. sea salt

2 cups canola oil

1 cup water

1 ¼ cups evaporated cane juice

Corn Salsa (1 quart)

8 cups Roma tomatoes

1 cup red onion

½ cup cilantro

1 cup roasted corn (I used Costco frozen corn, spread on a cookie sheet and toasted in the oven for about 5 minutes on broil)

2 tsp sea salt

1 tsp black pepper

2 oz. lime juice

Method:

Kale:

Remove spines from kale chop, rinse and dry. Place kale in large bowl add 3 cups ginger dressing and Quinoa, toss thoroughly, make sure all kale  is coated. Refrigerate overnight (this step infuses the kale with the ginger papaya dressing and makes it a lot yummier)

Ginger Papaya Vinaigrette:

Peel ginger root and papaya, combine with all ingredients to blender (except oil) blend until

smooth. Slowly drizzle oil while continuing to blend until dressing emulsifies, add to container and

refrigerate

Corn Salsa:

Chop cilantro, in large bowl combine all ingredients and mix well

Final Salad:

Mix 4 cups marinated kale to plate, swirl ¼ cup raw chopped cabbage around

kale, topped with ¼ cup corn salsa, 2 Tbs walnuts 4 crispy tenders

 

 

From my farm to my fork: Gingered Greens & Tofu

My husband went to school in upstate New York a few years back, long before I entered his life. He remembers distinctly the two times he went to Moosewood Restaurant. We have only been back there once together and it was before we were even married and I was still clueless about food – I made fancy spaghetti by adding veggies and sausage, but that might have been it. He was even more clueless – by the end of the week his individual meals would constituted an entire meal, corn one night, bacon another, salad yet another. So, suffice to say, we didn’t make it to Moosewood.

A couple few years ago, I got my first Moosewood cookbook from my mother and acquired yet another a few years after that. I want all of them now, well at least the ones I can use for everyday cooking and not so much the ones for Sunday meals and stuff since I’m not ready to fight that battle. But I love these books.

One night a few weeks back we got home late from our garden, fed the kids PB&J, and put them to bed. I was starving. Pancho was only a few weeks old and I wanted to eat something delicious. On my counter I had a bag full of stir-fry greens (quite honestly I don’t know what’s in them besides kale and chard, but probably mustards and stuff) and a pile of garlic scapes. So, I pulled out the handy Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home and made this in a jiffy. And can I just say how AWESOME it was to cook without distractions? I didn’t care that I was eating dinner at 10:30 – I was just happy to be eating dinner 25 minutes after starting with Matt and nobody else!!

And yes, I used white rice – GUILTY! But it was quick and like I said, a nursing mama’s gotta do what she can to stuff her face! AND, another and, I know, I apologize for posting a recipe that uses ingredients that you can’t necessarily find in a grocery store. It’s terribly mean, and I hate it when people do it to me, but if you get your hands on greens (which is tough this time of year, but give it a few months!) and some garlic, you’re good to go.

I don’t know if it was eating this without children that made it especially good, or if it was just really that good, but I made it again three days later, and then another week after that. I can’t wait until fall when my greens aren’t bolting at the first sign of sunshine to make it again, but this time with the beautiful bulbs of garlic I just finished tying and are ready to hang and cure.

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Gingered Greens and Tofu:
Adapted from Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home

Tofu Marinade:
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup dry sherry or mirin
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 Tbs brown sugar or agave nectar

1-2 cakes of extra firm tofu

2 Tbs coconut or safflower oil, divided
2 Tbs grated fresh ginger
5-6 garlic scapes, chopped
6 cups coarsely chopped stir-fry greens (bok choy, Chinese cabbage, or Swiss Chard)
Juice of one lime
Splash of chili oil

Optional toppings: toasted cashews
Put on a pot of long grain brown rice.
Cut the tofu into 1/2″ slices, then ~1″ squares.
In a small saucepan, bring the marinade ingredients to a boil. Simmer for 1 minute and remove from heat.
Place the squares of tofu in a non-reactive heatproof pan – a half sheet pan was big enough for two cakes of tofu.
Pour the marinade over the tofu squares, sprinkle with one Tablespoon of oil, and set aside for ~10-40 minutes.
Preheat the broiler on high.
Broil the tofu for 7-8 minutes, until lightly browned; then turn it over with a spatula and brown the other side. (This is the most tedious part.)
While the tofu broils, heat 1 Tbs of canola oil in a wok or large skillet.
Stir in the ginger and garlic scapes stirring until fragrant (~1 minute).
Add the greens, stirring constantly over high heat until the greens are wilted. When the greens are just tender, add the lime juice, and chili oil, and remove from heat.
When the tofu is browned, gently toss it with the marinade and the cooked greens, and reheat if necessary. Top with toasted nuts if you like and serve immediately over white brown rice.