Tag Archives: Vegetarian

Apple Cheddar Squash Soup

30 Sep

Do y’all know how much I am loving soup? I never thought of soup as a main dish, except for chili. But after last winter’s CSA, I found myself really enjoying soups, not least because soups are an easy way of sneaking in more veggies into your diet. I’m not a fan of simple vegetables — I like lots of added flavor and spices. The BF is happy eating steamed veggies with salt and butter, but I prefer something a little more than that, so spiced soups are awesome. Plus, I love cooking up a soup and then having bowls and bowls of it leftover for meals throughout the week. As I’ve mentioned before, I eat weird things for breakfast, and soup is one of my favorites to have in the morning.

Squash Soup's On!

When I was researching recipes to use up the 4 dozen apples I had after the Apple Fest, I found this amazing recipe for Apple Cheddar Squash Soup. Even after ABC sandwiches and Honey Apple Cake, I still had apples from the festival. I also happened to get a butternut squash in my CSA that week too, so it seemed like fate. I finally got around to making this soup and have been enjoying it since.

This soup is super tasty with subtle flavors. I thought that the soup tasted better and better with each passing day — the flavors built over a few days in the fridge and were stronger by the time I finished the last bowl around day 5. It is a pureed soup — I love eating pureed soup but I don’t love preparing it. After transferring multiple batches of soup into my semi-functioning food processor, I am feeling the need to invest in an immersion blender soon. The lid on my food processor keeps getting stuck on, and I’m certain that if I keep wrestling with it, this will eventually mean a lot of soup spilled all over my kitchen, and I really don’t want to have to clean that up. How long is it until Christmas again?

Delicious Fall in a Bowl

Apple Cheddar Squash Soup adapted from Food Network

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion, diced
2 medium apples, thinly sliced
1 medium sweet potato, diced
1 1/2 cups chopped peeled butternut squash
Salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/3 cup apple juice
4 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 cup milk
2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese
Bacon, cooked and crumbled (optional)
Chives for garnish (optional)
Crusty bread, for serving (optional)

Melt butter in a large pot over medium-low heat. Add the onion, apples, sweet potato, and squash. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Cook until the onion is soft, about 8 minutes.

Stir in the sage and flour. Add the apple juice and cook over high heat, stirring, until thickened. Add the broth and milk. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring, until the potato is soft, 8 to 10 minutes.

Add the cheese to the soup and stir over medium-low heat until melted.

Puree in a food processor or blender in batches until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. If necessary, transfer back to the pot and cook uncovered over low heat until soup reaches desired consistency.

Garnish with crumbled bacon, chives, and more cheese, if using. Serve with bread.

Linking up With:

Funday Monday from Still Being Molly and Lipgloss and Crayons
Block Party from Sumo’s Sweet Stuff
Made by you Monday from Skip to my Lou
Inspiration Monday from I Should Be Mopping the FloorTwelve O EightRedhead Can Decorate, and Scattered Thoughts of a Crafty Mom
Melt In Your Mouth Monday from Make Ahead Meals for Busy Moms
Create It Thursday from Lamberts Lately
All Things Pretty from Sparkles and a Stove and My Fashion Forward Blog

Stuffed Acorn Squash

5 Aug

This was so easy and so delish, I’m about to go out and find me some more acorn squash. The acorn made a terrific bowl that both held tasty fillings and also made for good eating. Like a tasty bread bowl for soup expect it doesn’t get soggy and mushy.

As we ate this for dinner last week, we brainstormed all the amazing ways we could prepare it. Italian style with sausage, tomatoes, mozzarella, and herbs. Greek style with lamb, tomatoes, olives, and feta. Mexican style with beef, tomatoes, cheese, and taco seasoning. There are loads of all-veggie options too.

Mmm cheesy goodness

This is such a versatile recipe. If you try it, you should definitely experiment and make it your own. Think up what flavors you’re in the mood for, and run with it. And if you don’t have a veggie on the ingredient list, no worries. Just leave it out or substitute it for something else. No big deal. It will still be delicious.

Better yet, prepare this on a night when you have guests over. The presentation is pretty amazing. They will think you’re a secret top chef.

This recipe was enough for the BF and me, but we’re pretty light eaters, so one half of a filled squash was enough for each of us. I’d recommend getting two squashes and doubling the recipe.

For me, the key to this recipe is to chop everything really small — that way, you can cram more into your squash bowl.

Beautiful Squash

Stuffed Acorn Squash adapted from TheKitchn

1 medium acorn squash
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 bell pepper, chopped small
handful cherry tomatoes, chopped small
1 large sausage link or vegetarian substitute, diced small (I used sweet apple chicken sausage)
1/2 teaspoon French or Italian herb mix
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup baby spinach
Salt and pepper as needed
Bread crumbs (I used crushed-up seasoned croutons — they gave a little extra flavor!)
1/4 cup parmesan, finely grated

Wash the squash and halve it. Scrape the insides and seeds out of the squash. Place the squash in a shallow dish with about half an inch of water. Microwave on high for 7-10 minutes or until tender. Leave in microwave until ready to use.

Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the garlic, bell pepper, tomatoes, and sausage. If using uncooked sausage, cook until sausage is almost cooked through. If using pre-cooked sausage, cook until the garlic starts to smell.

Add the spices and stir well. Add the spinach and cook, covered, until wilted. Add salt and pepper as needed. Remove from heat.

Place squash halves on a lightly greased baking sheet. Spoon the filling into squash halves, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add one tablespoon of water to each squash. Coat the filled squash with breadcrumbs. Sprinkle with a thick layer of grated cheese. Broil just until cheese is lightly browned.

Dig In!

Linking Up With:

Funday Monday from Still Being Molly and Lipgloss and Crayons
Market Yourself Monday from Sumo’s Sweet Stuff
Made by you Monday from Skip to my Lou
Time to Sparkle from Love Grows WildInside BruCrew LifeThe Recipe Critic, and The Gunny Sack
Link Party Wednesday from Lil’ Luna
Create It Thursday from Lamberts Lately
All Things Pretty from Sparkles and a Stove and My Fashion Forward Blog

Dairy-Free Chocolate Mousse

15 Jul

Mmm this is so delicious. Maybe not quite as delicious as the Best Chocolate Mousse Ever, but still pretty incredible. I have a friend who is both gluten-free and dairy-free, so coming up with a dessert that fit those parameters was difficult – I mean, I bake, right? But I was so excited for this amazing find. So simple, so quick, and so tasty.

IMG_2002

As long as you remember to refrigerate the coconut milk in advance, this only takes about 5 minutes to put together. Plus, mousse is like grown-up pudding. It’s as delicious and creamy as a Snack Pack, but super classy. To make it even classier, serve it out of something ridiculous like a martini glass or something a little less ridiculous like a stemless wine glass. And then when everyone’s done, bring out the bowl and mixing spoons and let people lick them clean. Classy.

For my mousse, I used a combo of regular Hershey’s cocoa powder and Special Dark Hershey’s cocoa powder. I haven’t tried it, but I imagine spending money on some high-quality cocoa powder would be worth it. There’s not a ton of sugar in this recipe, so unless you like really dark chocolate, be careful using too dark chocolate.

Also, need a good way to use the leftover coconut water? Try using it as the liquid base in smoothies! Super tasty with banana and pineapple.

Okay, go try this! It’s super easy to get a delicious, smooth, creamy, chocolate-y with a slight hint of coconut dessert that’s not too terribly unhealthy for you. I might just leave a can of coconut milk in the back of the fridge for whenever I need a quick chocolate fix.

Mmmousse

Dairy-Free Chocolate Mousse from The Urban Poser

1 cup full fat (canned) coconut milk, cream only (takes about 2 cans)
4-5 tablespoons cocoa
3 tablespoons honey or vegan alternative or stevia, to taste
1 teaspoon vanilla

Chill your cans of full-fat coconut milk in the refrigerator overnight.When ready to make the mousse, open up the cans and scoop the thick coconut cream into a large bowl, leaving the liquid behind. Add the rest of the ingredients to the bowl and beat the mixture for 2-5 minutes.Serve. Excellent with strawberries, raspberries, etc.

Linking Up With:

Funday Monday from Still Being Molly and Lipgloss and Crayons
Market Yourself Monday from Sumo’s Sweet Stuff
Made by you Monday from Skip to my Lou
Anything and Everything Blog Hop from My Thrifty Chic
Time to Sparkle from Love Grows WildInside BruCrew LifeThe Recipe Critic, and The Gunny Sack
Link Party Wednesday from Lil’ Luna
Create It Thursday from Lamberts Lately
All Things Pretty from Sparkles and a Stove and My Fashion Forward Blog

Summer Pasta Salad

24 Jun

It’s officially summer time! And with the summer solstice, it certainly got dang hot in North Carolina. And muggy. And gross. I’m sweaty all the time. But just for the record, this is NOT a complaint. I most certainly prefer this weather to anything below 60 degrees. Though we’ll see if I’m willing to negotiate that number come July. It’s maxed out at 90 so far, so I may change my mind once it gets into the triple digits.

I went to my nephew’s 6th birthday party on Saturday, which meant hot dogs and pasta salad and cake and ice cream. Yum. That night, I was heading to a potluck for a friend’s housewarming party, and I hadn’t any ideas. But the pasta salad was good inspiration, and I decided to make my own.

IMG_1914

My mom and sister make a very simple, classic pasta salad: noodles, olives, and feta cheese, all held together with Italian salad dressing. I expanded on the idea by adding a bunch of veggies I had in the fridge from our CSA delivery. I left out the olives though: disgusting.

When you make this, there are only two basic things to know:

Girard's

1) Use Girard’s Italian dressing. For reals, it’s the best. And don’t put it on until within an hour or so of serving it. If you put it on too far in advance, the pasta will soak up the dressing, and you’ll have to add more to get more flavor, which is just wasteful, both of the delicious dressing and of calories. If you need to make it in advance, just put everything together except the dressing, and add that when you’re ready. Easy peasy.

2) My family’s basic ratio is a pound of pasta to a bottle of dressing. I cut it to about 3/4 of the bottle, but go with what works for you. As long as you keep that ratio, you can then add whatever fresh, raw veggies you want.

Oh, here’s another tip! Let the pasta air-dry a little bit before you mix everything together. If there’s too much water, the oil-based dressing won’t stick. (But if the pasta is too dry, it will absorb all the oil and flavor.)

The cool thing about this dish is its versatility. You can add whatever veggies you and your family like, so it’s completely and easily customizable. And it can easily serve as a side to hot dogs and burgers OR as a cold main dish, perfect for a hot summer night. Add some beans — edamame would be awesome! — and it would be an even better main course.

IMG_1911

Summer Pasta Salad

1 lb pasta, preferably rotini or bowtie (farfalle)
1 bottle Girard’s Italian dressing
feta cheese, crumbled
1 zucchini, diced and quartered
1 yellow squash, diced and quartered
2 carrots, sliced into rounds
1 handful grape or cherry tomatoes, halved

Boil the pasta to al dente. Drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside.

Chop the vegetables. Place pasta and veggies in a large bowl. Pour in the dressing. Add crumbled feta cheese, to taste.

Toss and serve.

Note: For a vegan dish, omit the feta. For gluten-free, substitute rice-based or other gluten-free pasta for the rotini.

Linking Up With:

Funday Monday from Still Being Molly and Lipgloss and Crayons
Market Yourself Monday from Sumo’s Sweet Stuff
Made by you Monday from Skip to my Lou
Anything and Everything Blog Hop from My Thrifty Chic
Time to Sparkle from Love Grows WildInside BruCrew LifeThe Recipe Critic, and The Gunny Sack
Link Party Wednesday from Lil’ Luna
Create It Thursday from Lamberts Lately
All Things Pretty from Sparkles and a Stove and My Fashion Forward Blog
Link Party Thursday from Somewhat Simple

Curry Coconut Vegetable Stew

17 Jun

Oh my goodness, y’all, so I finally got around to finishing this last season of Revolution, and let me just say, after those last 10 minutes, my mind = blown. I almost gave up on that show because I thought the middle part of the season was getting kind of lame, but it really picked up there at the end. And that last scene? Whaaat? I don’t even know what to think.

Okay, Revolution is not at all related to this recipe, but I just had to get that out of my system. I don’t know anyone who watches that show, so I never get to talk about it. Onto the stew!

I had a ton of veggies in my fridge, and not much else. And I was looking for something easy, so what better than a soup? The thing I love about soups is that they’re easy to customize based on preference and available resources. Don’t like greens? Leave ’em out. Got zucchini but no squash? Whatever, that’s fine.  If you stick to similar weights/amounts, and then just use whatever suits you, you’ll be fine. And actually, I used chicken stock instead of vegetable stock, just ’cause that’s what I had.

Mmm... Stew

This is a really hearty stew. The rice and beans definitely fill you up. But the coconut curry flavor keeps it light enough to eat year-round. And it’s super healthy too. The coconut and curry flavors are delicious and definitely noticeable, but not so strong that you don’t still taste the vegetables themselves. You definitely want to stick with fresh vegetables, for that reason. Don’t bother with canned or frozen — just use whatever’s fresh in season.

You can’t really see it in the picture, but there’s definitely some liquid down in the bottom there. It’s soup-y the first go-round, and thickens up to more of a stew texture when eaten as leftovers. Both are equally delicious. As you’re cooking, try to keep the lid on the pot as much as possible so you don’t lose too much liquid. That way, at the end, if it’s too runny, you can simmer with the cover off for a little while to reduce it. But it’s hard to go the other direction.

Don’t forget that when it’s ready, you have to shout, “Soup’s on!” :)

So many veggies!

Curry Coconut Vegetable Stew

1 Tablespoon olive oil
3 Tablespoons garlic, minced
3 1/2 cups vegetable stock
3/4 cup white basmati rice
3/4 lb potatoes, diced
1/4 lb carrots, sliced
1 Tablespoon curry powder
salt and pepper
1 tomato, diced
1/2 lb squash, sliced
1/2 lb zucchini, sliced
1/2 lb green beans, ends removed and cut into 1″ pieces
1/4 lb greens (chard and kale)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can light coconut milk

Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Add the stock and bring to a simmer.

Add the rice. Cover and cook for 8 minutes.

Add the potatoes and carrots. Cover and cook for 5 minutes.

Stir in the curry powder, salt, and pepper. Add the tomato, squash, zucchini, and green beans. Cover and cook for 8 minutes.

Add in the greens. Cook, stirring occasionally, until wilted.

Stir in the black beans and coconut milk. Cook until heated through. Serve hot.

Soup's On!

Linking Up With:

Funday Monday Link-Up from Still Being Molly and Lipgloss and Crayons
Market Yourself Monday from Sumo’s Sweet Stuff
Made by you Monday from Skip to my Lou
Anything and Everything Blog Hop from My Thrifty Chic
Time to Sparkle from Love Grows WildInside BruCrew LifeThe Recipe Critic, and The Gunny Sack
Create It Thursday from Lamberts Lately
All Things Pretty from Sparkles and a Stove and My Fashion Forward Blog

Zucchini-Rutabaga Fritters

29 Apr

Fritters? Latkes? Hashbrowns? Something like that. But with zucchini and rutabaga instead of white potato, they were just as delicious (especially when dipped in ketchup) but way healthier. Plus it was a great way to use up what will hopefully be the last of my winter CSA vegetables. (I am getting real tired of roots and greens.)

These do have a bit of flour in them, but if you’re gluten-free or doing the paleo thing, substitute almond flour, and it will be just as good.

Fritters

I guess technically these are a side dish and would be great as the starch alongside a main course. But I’ve had them as a main dish along with sauteed greens or a salad. They’re definitely versatile and would be appropriate for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

As with most of my root-vegetable recipes, you can use pretty much any combination of root vegetables you have on hand. Straight-up zucchini would be good, using some sweet potato would be delicious. Whatever. Use your imagination.

It took some time to prepare these, mostly just because it takes a while to grate vegetables. But the nice thing about it was that I fried up a bunch of them and saved extras in the fridge. They were really easy to re-heat (in the convection oven, baking on 350 until warm) and have as a snack or as part of a quick, last-minute meal.

You may like these served latke-style with sour cream and apple sauce. I preferred them with ketchup, like hashbrowns. Yum.

Fritters2

Zucchini and Rutabaga Fritters adapted from SlimPalate.com

1 medium zucchini (about 200 g)
1 medium rutabaga (about 200 g)
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup flour (or almond flour, to be gluten-free)
1/4 cup parmigiana reggiano, grated and packed down
2 eggs, beaten
salt and pepper to taste
Oil for frying (I used garlic grapeseed oil)

Grate zucchini and rutabaga with a medium-sized grater. Add a dash of salt. Place shredded vegetables in a clean paper towel and squeeze to get as much liquid out of it as possible.

Place in a large bowl and add beaten eggs, garlic, flour, cheese, and fresh ground black pepper. Mix well.

Heat 2 tablespoons of cooking oil over medium heat in a large skillet, and wait for the pan to get hot. Once oil is shimmering, add spoonfuls of mixture to the pan. Fry until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes per side.

Place on platter lined with paper towels to soak up any grease.  Serve with sides of salt, pepper, sour cream, applesauce, and/or ketchup.

Linking up with:

YOLO Mondays from Still Being Molly and Lipgloss and Crayons
Market Yourself Monday from Sumo’s Sweet Stuff
Time for a Party from Fine Craft Guild
Made by you Monday from Skip to my Lou
Anything & Everything Link-Up from My Thrifty Chic and The Sapphire Bee
Time to Sparkle from Love Grows WildInside BruCrew LifeThe Recipe Critic, and The Gunny Sack

Green Smoothies

17 Mar

If you’ve been following my posts about the CSA we’re doing, you know that I’ve been having these for breakfast almost every morning. And I haven’t gotten tired of them! They’re so easy and super fast. If you get bored, you can also add in new fruits, veggies, flavors, and other ingredients to the mix. Don’t be turned off by the idea of greens in your smoothie! When you add enough fruits, you don’t taste the greens at all. It tastes like a delicious fruit smoothie, and you get the added benefit of an extra serving of veggies. Kinda like those V8 fruit/veggie juice things.

Here’s a few things I’ve learned while experimenting with smoothies. It’s a lot, so if you’re not in the mood to read my dissertation, just jump to my recipe for a basic green smoothie at the bottom.

Mmm... green

Shopping & Prep

I recommend buying organic greens — since they don’t have a peel or skin, they can absorb a high amount of pesticides and chemicals. For other fruits and veggies, I refer to the Dirty Dozen list (a list of veggies that you should always buy organic). But mostly, I follow this rule: If it doesn’t have a skin (greens) or if I eat the skin (apples), I buy organic. If it has a thick peel that I don’t eat (bananas, citrus, avocado), I don’t bother with organic. I do buy organic dairy products (yogurt, milk, etc).

I have learned to prepare my fruits and veggies way in advance, which makes it a breeze (about 3 minutes) to prepare breakfast each morning. For example, my freezer currently contains a bag of diced fresh pineapple, banana slices, and apple chunks, and I have strawberries and blueberries in the fridge.

I have not bothered with any fancy equipment. I’ve read some blogs that say you need a super expensive blender in order to get a well-blended smoothie, but I’m not spending that much money. I use a knock-off Magic Bullet single-serving blender that my mom got me for probably less than $40. Maybe I’m missing out on incredibly well-blended smoothies, but I doubt it.

Greens

To ensure that your greens blend in smoothly, blend your greens with your liquid first, and then add the rest of your ingredients. You can use any kind of greens, but each is going to be slightly different.

When I get a big bunch of greens, I go ahead and wash them and store them right in my salad spinner. Then they’re ready for each morning, when I pull out a couple handfuls and rip them up just a bit while I stuff them into the blender.

I learned from a little internet research that many greens, especially those from the brassica/cruciferous family (pretty much everything on my list except for spinach and lettuce) have a natural chemical that can disrupt hormone function. This is really not an issue for most people because you’d have to eat a TON of greens every single day. But since I already have thyroid problems (and my spring CSA has given me almost entirely brassica vegetables), I was a little more concerned. The good news is that cooking them can help. So for brassica greens, I wash them, rip them up a bit, steam them, and then store them in a bowl in the fridge. Then each morning I can just pull some up and stuff them into the blender. Easy peasy.

  • Lettuce: Easiest to mask their flavor because they’re super mild. But of course, they also have the least nutritional benefits. If you’re really not sure about green smoothies, start here and work your way up to something a little more green. OR… this can be a great way to use up slightly wilted salad lettuce. I used butterhead, which was great. Romaine would be great too.
  • Spinach: A classic in green smoothies. More health benefits then lettuce but still an easy flavor to mask with fruits.
  • Kale: A standard in green smoothies. Super healthy! To prepare for a smoothie, I prefer to cut the stems out before I chop them up. If you don’t mind yours a little chunky, keep the stems. They’re edible and full of nutrients. When blended, you may see some flecks, but you won’t notice any chunks when drinking. Check your teeth afterward though.
  • Turnip greens: They blend really smoothly. They have a slightly more green taste, but not noticeable if you blend in stronger or sweeter flavors like banana and sweet juices.
  • Kohlrabi leaves: Same as turnip greens.
  • Collards: Same as turnip greens.
  • Beet leaves: Really mild flavor. A great way to use up greens that you usually throw away. They will turn your smoothie pink instead of green.
  • Mustard greens: No. Don’t do it. Gross.

Liquids

For the liquid, I started off with orange-peach-mango juice from Trader Joe’s. It was incredibly delicious, but a little too much sugar to start off my morning. As I grew accustomed to the green-ness of the smoothies, I started cutting back on sugars. Apple juice is a good option — it’s lower in sugar and acids. These days, I usually mix about half apple juice and half almond milk. Prune juice can also be a good option if you need some natural assistance in that department — just be careful not to overdo it.

For a thickener, I always include yogurt. With that addition and the fact that I don’t freeze all my mix-ins, my smoothie comes out more like the consistency of a drinkable yogurt than a frozen smoothie. I prefer Greek yogurt since it adds more protein to my breakfast, helping me feel fuller longer and have a bit more energy. And as with the juice, I started off with vanilla or blueberry and have gradually progressed to plain yogurt, with the goal of cutting out extra sugar.

Mix-ins

Any fruit is great. Banana is the best for masking other flavors, plus it makes your smoothie a little thicker and smoother. I use pineapple with almost every smoothie. I’ve also used strawberry, blueberry, apple, and clementines — basically whatever I have laying around.

I’ve also mixed in veggies, either in addition to or instead of the greens. Carrot is a great option — it goes well with apple juice and bananas. Mixing in a few leftover turnip pieces didn’t change the flavor at all but did give it a slightly powdery, grainy texture. Beets are good too — they go well with apple and pineapple.

Keep in mind that some mix-ins will change the color of your smoothie, if that’s the sort of thing that bothers you. Mixing warm (red, orange) and cool (green, blue) colors will usually result in a brown color, which isn’t particularly appetizing. Though sometimes I just do it and drink it from an opaque cup. Mixing cool colors (greens and blueberries) will usually result in a cool blue color. Just think back to your elementary-school paint palette, and you’ll be fine.

Green smoothie

Okay, that is way more information than I thought I would share, so if that’s too much for you, here’s a recipe. Just try it. You’ll be glad you did.

Green Smoothie

1/2 cup apple juice
1/2 cup packed steamed spinach or other greens (use 1 1/2 to 2 cups if not steamed)
1/2 banana, sliced
1/4 cup pineapple chunks
1/4 cup vanilla Greek yogurt
apple juice or almond milk to taste

Blend the juice and greens together until greens are thoroughly chopped.

Add the banana, pineapple, and yogurt. Blend until smooth.

Add more juice or almond milk until smoothie reaches desired consistency. Blend well.

After you try this, experiment a little! Add whatever you have and whatever you like. That’s the beauty of a smoothie — you can’t make it wrong. Enjoy!

Linking Up With:

YOLO Mondays from Still Being Molly and Lipgloss and Crayons
Monday Meet Ups from Covered in Grace
Market Yourself Monday from Sumo’s Sweet Stuff
Your Great Idea Link Party from Or So She Says
Time for a Party from Fine Craft Guild
Made by you Monday from Skip to my Lou
Make Something Monday from Sarahndipities