Smoky Vegan Succotash

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Serves: 4

-1, 16 oz can of lima beans, drained

-2 cups fresh cooked corn (or frozen if you’d like)

-1 cup zucchini, diced

-1/2 medium onion, minced

-2 cloves garlic, minced

-6 “strips” MorningStar Farms Veggie Bacon, diced

-2 tablespoons olive oil

-2 tsps poultry seasoning

-1 tsp red pepper flakes

-1 tsp salt

In a large skillet on medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, zucchini, onion, and garlic. Cook for about 10 minutes or until the zucchini is tender. Remove from the pan and set aside in a bowl.

Add the other tablespoon of olive oil on medium/high heat. Cook the diced “bacon” for 3-4 minutes, or until it gets golden brown in color. Add back into the pan the zucchini mixture, along with the cooked or frozen corn, lima beans, and seasoning. Stir well and cook for another 10 minutes. Serve warm & enjoy!

 

 

Mushroom & Kale Puff Pastry Pockets

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Yield: 12 pockets

-1 box of Pepperidge Farms Puff Pastry Dough (two sheets come per package), thawed

-2 cups diced baby bella mushrooms

-2  and 1/2 cups finely chopped kale, stems removed

-1 medium white onion, minced

-2 cloves garlic, minced

-1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary (or dried)

-3 tablespoons butter

-2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Remove the puff pastry from the freezer and place into the refrigerator or on the counter for about an hour prior to making this dish. Set aside for now.

Add the butter into a large skillet. When it’s melted, add the onions & let them cook on low heat for about 15 minutes, or until they are slightly caramelized. Add the garlic, rosemary, & mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes until the mushrooms are halfway cooked through, then add the kale. Pour about 1/2 cup of water into the pan and cover with a lid so that the kale can steam and get soft–about 10 more minutes. Taste for salt and add some if you feel it needs it.

Once the puff pastry sheets are thawed, cut each ply of the sheet into 2 equal parts. This should make 6 equal pieces per sheet (12 all together). Using your hands, gently stretch out a puff pastry square. In the center of the dough, add about 2-3 tablespoons of the vegetable mixture. Bring together the opposite corners and pinch the puff pastry together as best you can. I had a little difficulty with this (as you can tell from the photo). I suggest that if you want your pockets to stay completely closed, dab your fingers into some cold water while you’re pinching them closed–this will help the dough to stay together.

Place the pockets onto a greased baking tray. Bake for about 2o-25 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown. Enjoy!

 

 

Spinach and Parmesan Balls

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Yield: Around 20 Spinach Balls

-1, 10 oz package of frozen CHOPPED spinach

-3/4 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs (you can use gluten free breadcrumbs for this as well)

-1 large egg, whisked

-1 medium onion, minced

-1 clove garlic, minced

-1/2 stick + 1 tbsp butter

-1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

-1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper

-1 tsp dried thyme

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place the package of frozen spinach into a microwave safe bowl. Cook for about 6 minutes then side aside for now.

In a large pan, add 1 tablespoon butter, minced onion, and garlic. Cook until the onion is translucent (about 3 minutes). Add the pepper and thyme, stir well, then place the ingredients into a large mixing bowl with the chopped spinach. When the mixture has cooled, add the whisked egg, melted 1/2 stick of butter, breadcrumbs, and parmesan cheese. Stir well so that the mixture looks uniform.

Grease a large tray and form 1-inch diameter spinach balls. Place into the oven for about 20-25 minutes, or until the top gets golden brown. Enjoy!

 

Vegan Thanksgiving Recipe; Stuffed Zucchini Boats

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Yield: 4 Stuffed Zucchini Halves

-2 medium/large zucchinis (about 8 in. in length)

-1/2 package of MorningStar Grillers Recipe Crumbles (or something similar)

-1 and 1/2 cups tomato puree

-1 and 1/2 cups raw kale, chopped into small pieces

-1 small white onion, chopped finely

-1 tablespoon fennel seeds

-2 tablespoons olive oil

-1/2 cup of water

-1 tablespoon salt

-2 tsps pepper

Remove the fake sausage crumbles from the freezer and let thaw for about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a casserole dish with edges, place the 1/2 cup of water and the halved zucchinis with the flesh-side up (make sure you halve them length-wise! :))

Bake the zucchini for about 30 minutes, or until the inside is tender. Remove from the oven but keep the oven on. Cool the zucchini until you can pick them up with your hands. Using a spoon, scoop out the insides of the zucchini. Leave about 1/4 inch around the  zucchini’s edge so that it does not fall apart.

While you are baking the zucchini, cook the onions with the olive oil and fennel until the onions are translucent (about 10 minutes). Add the kale, salt, & pepper and cook for another 5-10 minutes until the kale is very tender. Add the fake “sausage” and tomato puree and stir until completely mixed. Fill your zucchini boats with the vegetarian sausage mixture and place back into the oven for another 20 minutes, or until the top gets crispy.

 

Pulled “Pork” (BBQ Jackfruit) Tacos with Brussels Sprout Slaw (Gluten Free & Vegan)

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Have you ever heard of Jackfruit? Well, neither had I until a few weeks ago. I like to peruse the Natural Foods section of Wegmans and see if they have any new products, or try products that I’ve never had before. In the faux meat section (my favorite!), there were several new products by The Jackfruit Company. This company was started by a woman named Annie who tried Jackfruit on her first trip to India in 2011. There, she saw huge potential for this gigantic fruit. She then created Global Village Fruit; a social enterprise that helps local farmers use this healthy, natural meat alternative in their local market. I love this idea. If you’d like to learn more about Annie’s mission and the products that this company offers, click here!

So after I learned a little bit about The Jackfruit Company, I wanted to learn more about this fruit. It’s INCREDIBLE. Here’s the Wiki page on the jackfruit. It’s the largest tree-borne fruit in the world, and can weight up to 80 lbs! Not only is this fruit mild in taste, has a sturdy texture, and takes on whatever flavor you cook it with; it is extremely nutritious. About 1/2 cup of Jackfruit has 90 calories, & is a good source of the antioxidant vitamin C, providing about 13.7 mg. The fruit is also rich in vitamin B6, potassium, and calcium. Needless to say, I think that this a HUGE up and coming vegetarian/vegan/gluten free eater phenomenon, & I am very excited for it!

Yield: 6 tacos

-1 package of BBQ Jackfruit made by the Jackfruit Company (I found this at Wegmans in the natural foods section)

-6 corn tortillas (These are my favorite gluten free corn tortillas. They stay together the best and I have found that they are the more moist than other brands).

For the Brussels Sprout Slaw

-1 cup shredded Brussels Sprouts

-1 tablespoon minced onion

-2 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped

-1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

-1 tsp celery seed

-1/2 tsp cumin

-1 tsp salt

-1/2 tablespoon vegetable oil

In a medium skillet, add the oil. Add the shredded Brussels Sprouts and onions and cook until tender–about 5 minutes. Remove from the skillet and pour into a bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients into the bowl and stir well so that all of the ingredients are mixed.

For the Spicy Vegan Mayo

-1/2 cup Vegenaise Original Mayo (Again, I found this in the natural foods section of Wegmans. I also find it at any health food store or food co-op).

-1 tablespoon water

-1 tsp cumin

-1 tsp chili powder

-1/2 tsp garlic powder

Mix together all of the ingredients; easy at that!

Assembly

Heat the BBQ Jackfruit either in a skillet or in the microwave. While it’s heating up, wrap your corn tortillas in plastic wrap and stick them in the microwave for just 10 seconds. This will make them pliable and soft!

Put an equal amount of the jackfruit mixture in each taco shell, topped with a few tablespoons of the brussels sprouts slaw, and then a drizzle of the spicy mayo. Simple as that, and enjoy!! xx

Auspicious Autumn

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“Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.”
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We’ve all read it, we all quote it on occasion: The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost; one of the most beautiful poems of all time (of course, my opinion). The autumn imagery this poem elicits is one of the reasons I chose to share it. But another reason is because of the last five lines. When he writes “I shall be telling this with a sigh, somewhere ages and ages hence” I always wonder if he is sighing out of contentment or remorse; or neither. Perhaps he looks back on all of his life choices and sighs because, either way, there was a path that he steered away from. Not because it was bad, not because he didn’t want to go there, but because sometimes we have to choose between two directions that do not line up. As he writes, “though as for that the passing there, had worn them really about the same,” he is explaining that each path has been taken by many people before; not one path was “better” or “more attractive” than the other. We simply sometimes don’t know why we do things; why we choose one action or behavior over the other. And that’s okay. None of us will ever know what our life would have looked like if we did something differently. Isn’t that the beauty of it all, though? But I still wonder about the “sigh,” and hope that one day, ages and ages hence, I’ll look at the path that I’ve taken and I will sigh with contentment.

Vegetarian Cauliflower Chik’n Wings

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I have made these wings about five times just in the last month. Fair warning; they are addictive! Let me also add that the people who have asked me for this recipe have ALL been meat-eaters. That says a lot, huh?! I made them for a good friend who I had over for dinner a few weeks ago. She absolutely loved them– the texture, the flavor, and how they weren’t greasy like chicken wings are. I then made them again for my family’s annual Halloween party. They were a hit there, too! I think the fact that they are healthier, less messy to eat, and still have the same flavor profile as chicken wings make this recipe a hit for all types of palates.

Now, if you are vegan and/or gluten free, let me just tell you how simple it is to re-work this recipe a little bit to accommodate your dietary needs. Using the same measurements, replace the flour with gluten-free all purpose flour, like this one from Bob’s Red Mill. Instead of using melted butter, just use margarine or olive oil–it’ll get the job just fine, and replace the milk with PLAIN soy milk or PLAIN rice milk.

Yield: ~24 wings

-1 large head of cauliflower, broken into florets

-1 and 1/2 cups milk or plain soy milk

-1 cup flour (or 1 cup gluten free flour)

-1 tsp garlic powder

-1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper

-1 tsp salt

-3/4 cup Red Hot Buffalo Wings sauce

-3 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a large baking tray with butter or cooking spray.

Break up the cauliflower into medium large pieces; about the size of a typical chicken “wing.” Make sure there is not a lot of the stem left on each piece. This part gets kind of messy; just a warning!

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the milk, flour, garlic powder, black pepper, and salt. The consistently will be like a sticky, thick paste. Coat each cauliflower piece and let the excess mixture drip off from each piece. Place onto the greased baking tray. Cook the cauliflower for 20 minutes. You don’t want them so soft that they are falling apart though! Remove from the oven and set aside.

Mix together the Red Hot Buffalo Wings sauce and the melted butter. Coat the cauliflower wings in this mixture and place them back into the oven on 400 degrees until they begin to get crispy–about 5-10 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve with blue cheese and celery sticks if you prefer.

Also, what I like to do, is pour some wing sauce over the cauliflower right before I am going to serve them. This gives them a more authentic, saucy taste. Enjoy!!

Mayonnaise-Free, Turnip & Fingerling Potato Salad

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For all you people afraid of mayonnaise (and I know there’s a lot of you out there), fear no more! This turnip/potato salad is packed FULL of flavor and nutrients that your creamy, nasty, mayonnaise-based potato salad doesn’t even have! (I actually like mayonnaise but I’m just trying to get on your good side).

Anyways, I was having guests over for dinner who do NOT like mayonnaise–like, at all. They don’t like to talk about mayonnaise, see mayonnaise, HEAR mayonnaise (cause we all know that’s a real thing), and especially eat it! No problem what-so-ever. I love cooking for people with weird food phobias–it gives me an opportunity to play around with some new flavors and dressings. So, I knew I wanted to make a potato salad, but I wanted to make it unique; fresh & flavorful without all the fat.

So I had some beautiful fingerling potatoes that I wanted to use, and saw that I also had a few turnips. Now, if you are afraid of turnips because they aren’t the prettiest looking things, always remember that beauty is only skin deep. The true substance of this beautiful root vegetable is on the inside–and it’s DEFINITELY worth a second glance.

I mixed the fingerling potatoes with the turnips and made a really fresh, vegan, garlicky, dill dressing. The bite from the spicy turnip and the natural creaminess from the fingerling potatoes, SO good. And my mayonnaise-phobics really loved it–and that makes me one happy lady!

Serves: 4

-1/2 lb, about 8 fingerling potatoes, diced

-1 medium sized turnip, washed and diced

-2 cloves garlic, minced

-2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

-1/3 cup olive oil

-1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

-1 tablespoon honey

-2 tsps salt

-2 tsps freshly cracked black pepper

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Season with salt if you prefer. Add the turnips into the boiling water and cook for about 5 minutes before adding the fingerling potatoes. Turnips are a much denser root vegetable and take longer to cook. Keep an eye on the potatoes, and when you can stick a form right through them easily, they are done!

While your vegetables are cooking, whisk together the oil, apple cider vinegar, honey, garlic, dill, salt, and black pepper.

And…it’s THAT easy people. While the potatoes are still hot, pour over the dressing and stir gently (the potatoes will probably be falling apart a bit, but that’s okay)! Enjoy!!

Also, mayonnaise haters, just so you don’t feel alone, Honey Boo Boo’s mom, Mama June, is afraid of mayonnaise as well. Read about it here!

Mung Bean Noodles with Tofu and Bok Choy (gluten free, vegan, yummy)

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So I realize that these noodles kind of look like little worms. But, I can promise you they don’t taste like them! (Actually, I can’t because I’ve never tasted worms before–but I know that THESE are delicious).

I first had mung bean noodles a few years ago when a friend who lived in NYC at the time began seeing them on a lot of menus in Brooklyn. He brought some back to Syracuse and made a delicious stir fry with them. The texture is different than regular, wheat noodles, but I think is pretty similar to other gluten free fettuccine/linguini pasta that I’ve tried. It’s a little bit chewy, has a nice texture to it, and has a mild flavor.

I thought that I would have a hard time finding them at the grocery store. But, at the end of the “Asian Food” aisle at Wegmans, there they were! They are not too expensive, either. The noodles double in size so despite the small size of the bag, it actually makes an adequate amount of pasta.

I have used these noodles in a variety of cuisines–Italian, Chinese, American–and they are great in all of them. Their taste is not overpowering in any capacity, so whatever you flavor them with, they’ll taste like. I love making this super easy tofu and bok choy stir fry with them. It’s filling, healthy, & I love all of textures! (I’m a texture freak).

Serves: 4

  • 1 package Mung Bean & Edamame noodles (I use these that I found at Wegmans, but you can find them at a local Asian market or food co-op)
  • 1, 16 oz. package of extra firm tofu, cut into bite-sized pieces as shown
  • 1/2 lb. baby bok choy or regular bok choy, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup gluten free soy sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon honey
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 and 1/2 tsps powdered ginger

Boil the noodles per package instructions, or until they are the firmness that you prefer. Drain them well and set aside.

In a large skillet on medium heat, add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil. Add your cut tofu pieces and lay them flat in the skillet so that they can brown on each side–about 2/3 minutes on each side. Add the roughly chopped bok choy and cook until tender but not TOO soft. You want the stems (the non-leafy part) to be crunchy still. So this should take about 3-4 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the garlic. Stir for about 1 minute.

In a small mixing bow, whisk together the 1/2 cup gluten free soy sauce, the 1/2 tablespoon honey, the 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, and the powdered ginger. Whisk until the oil and soy sauce have combined, then add this to the tofu/bok choy mixture. Stir well, then add your mung bean noodles, and stir well yet again! Serve warm & ENJOY!

P.S–> Don’t know what a mung bean is? Neither did I when I first heard of these noodles! Here, read for yourself about this cool lil’ bean!

Warm Broccoli and Yellow Squash Salad with Creamy Fresh Mozzarella

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Serves: 2

-1 cup of broccoli florets

-1 cup of diced yellow squash (about 1 small yellow squash)

-8 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, cubed

-2 cloves garlic, minced

-3 tablespoons olive oil

-1/2 cup of water

-2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

-salt and pepper to taste

In a large skillet, add the 3 tablespoons of olive oil and 1/2 cup of water. Turn the heat to medium-high, and add the broccoli and squash. Cover the pan with a lid so that the vegetables can steam for about 8-10 minutes, or until fork tender. Add the garlic, fresh basil, and cubed mozzarella into the pan. Taste for salt and pepper. Stir the mixture for about 1 minute in the pan (heat off) so that the mozzarella JUST begins to melt. Serve warm and enjoy!