March 3, 2011 § 2 Comments
How are you? I don’t know about you, but I was so freakin’ happy to turn the calendar from February 28 to March 1. While it’s still cold here, the possibility of warm weather is upon us! I’m so beyond excited.
Just this morning, my toes asked me to slide them into a pair of flip flops, but sadly I had to say “no” while stuffing the little guys into gym socks and stinky sneakers. Sigh. Sorry, little dudes. I honestly just want to bring Peter to the park and sit on a bench in the sun while he plays. That’s it. I’m a pretty simple person, with simple wants and needs
So, on Monday night I found myself in a familiar situation: I wanted a healthy, hearty dinner but was faced with a nearly empty fridge and pantry. It was time for another clean-out-the-cabinet creation.
I was in the mood for quinoa, and luckily I had some. I then pulled out a big can of kidney beans, a can of diced tomatoes, a can of light coconut milk, 3 sweet potatoes, an onion, 2 garlic cloves, curry powder, cocoa powder, a bay leaf and red pepper flakes.
And then…I looked at all that stuff on the counter and wondered what the hell I could do with it. It should be noted, if it hasn’t already been noted, that I am not a recipe developer. I often can’t even follow someone else’s recipe. Despite that handicap, I was determined to make something that tasted half-way decent out of these hodge-podge ingredients .
My first thought was some kind of baked quinoa casserole, but then I thought that a curry-type stew would be better, served over the quinoa.
I have to say, this may be the first recipe that I’ve “developed” that is worthy of being called a “recipe.” It turned out really good. But as God likely said after he created Adam: “it’s good, but it could be even better.”
So on Tuesday night, I topped my stew and quinoa leftovers with pan-toasted unsweetened coconut flakes and cashew pieces. And it was awesome.
But, you know what? I think this dish could get even better. The quinoa base was a little bland, and while I haven’t tried it yet to confirm, I think a coconut milk/lime juice/lime zest dressing mixed into the quinoa may be the ticket. Any thoughts?
Coconut-Curry Sweet Potato Stew over (Limey?) Quinoa
1 c. quinoa, cook according to package directions
3 medium-sized sweet potatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks and roasted (buy organic so you can leave the skin on–just wash thoroughly)
4 tablespoons olive oil
salt & pepper
25 oz. can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
28 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 medium onion, chopped
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
4-5 tbsp. light coconut milk
1 bay leaf
2.5 tsp. curry powder
1.5 tsp. cocoa powder
pinch of red pepper flakes
Topping Ingredients (per serving)
1-2 tbsp. unsweetened coconut
1-2 tbsp. cashew pieces
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a baking sheet/roasting pan, toss the sweet potato chunks with 1-2 tbsp. olive oil and salt and pepper, and roast for 20-30 minutes, until they’re browned and soft enough to pierce with a fork.
When potatoes are done, heat 1-2 tbsp. olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chopped onions and cook until softened, about 8 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in bay leaf, curry powder, cocoa powder, and red pepper flakes and cook for another 30 seconds. Then add diced tomatoes, coconut milk, kidney beans, and roasted sweet potatoes (combine all the ingredients well), reduce heat a bit, and simmer for up to 20 minutes.
Directions for topping:
In a small dry skillet, toast coconut and cashew pieces over medium heat. Remove from heat once the coconut begins to brown (don’t let it burn!).
Assemble to serve:
Place some quinoa in a bowl, top with the sweet potato and kidney bean stew, and top that with the toasted coconut and cashews.
And that’s it. You may want to kick up the spice amounts. I kept it pretty mild for Peter. Let me know if you try it with “limey” quinoa.
Have a nice Thursday evening!
P.S. Do you watch “Raising Hope“? You should. I can’t get a line from Tuesday’s episode out of my head. When discussing coin toss rules with her husband, the wife said:
“Heads I win, tails you lose.”
the son flipped the coin and it came up tails-
the husband paused and then said:
“Man, I never win coin tosses!”
So funny. I literally cry from laughing during most of the shows. I feel like I’m cheating on “Parks and Recreation” and “30 Rock,” but “Raising Hope” may make me laugh just a little bit more…
February 1, 2011 § Leave a Comment
I’m probably stating the obvious here, but in case you didn’t know, it’s snowing again.
That’s all I have to say about that.
A certain kind of weather calls for a certain kind of food.
Hot, humid, summer days beg for fruity, icy popsicles.
And cold, snowy, winter days beg for nourishing, hot soup (and copious amounts of red wine. After 5:00 p.m., of course. Although today may be an exception. What time is it now? 9:30 a.m.? It’s 5:00 somewhere, right?).
Anyway, I love this soup. I’ve made it at least 4 times this winter. And despite its name, it’s not just for the holidays.
Thanks to Angela at Oh She Glows for yet another winner of a recipe.
This is hands down one of my all time favourite soups! Not only does it look festive just in time for the holidays, but it tastes incredible and warms the soul. It packs a wide array of seasonings and spices from cinnamon, nutmeg, and vegetable bouillon, to the saffron and curry. Somehow it just all works together magically!
Inspired by Fat Free Vegan Kitchen.
- 1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
- 1/2 cup red quinoa, uncooked (I used regular quinoa this time – pwa)
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium sweet onion, finely chopped
- 1 medium zucchini, chopped*
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 vegetable bouillon cube (not low sodium)
- 6 cups water, boiled
- One 15-ounce can diced tomatoes (I used 1 28 oz. can this time – pwa)
- 1.5-2 cups cooked black beans (about one 15 oz can) (I used 1 25 oz. can this time – pwa)
- 1 tsp good-quality curry powder
- Pinch or two of cinnamon
- Pinch of ground nutmeg
- 2 cups baby spinach leaves, well rinsed and roughly chopped
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt, to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Pinch of saffron threads (optional, but tasted amazing) (I didn’t use saffron this time – pwa)
Directions: Heat the oil in a large soup pot. Add the chopped sweet onion and sauté over medium-low heat until translucent. Add the chopped carrots, chopped zucchini, and minced garlic, and continue to sauté for about 5-7 minutes.
Place your bouillon cube into a medium sized bowl. Boil 6 cups of water and pour over the bouillon cube. Stir well to dissolve. Add bouillon mixture, tomatoes, red quinoa, black beans, and spices + seasonings. Bring to a boil and then simmer gently for 15 to 20 minutes.
Add the roughly chopped spinach, stir well, and cover. Simmer on low for about 15-35 minutes. The longer you cook it the more the flavours will develop. Taste test and adjust seasonings if necessary. I also have a feeling this soup will be even better the next day! Garnish with nuts of choice if preferred.
Makes about 8-10 cups.
*I usually don’t buy zucchini (or tomatoes) in the winter because it just doesn’t seem right to eat them in the winter. They grow in the SUMMER and should be eaten in the summer. However, I really do like the zucchini in this soup, so I made an exception to my rule.
I also used more diced tomatoes and black beans than called for in the original recipe because I had the larger cans on hand. I often follow a recipe to a T, which results in little Tupperware containers of leftover diced tomatoes or whatever taking up space in my refrigerator. I have the best intentions to use the leftovers, but of course they sit and sit and sit until they look like a mold-growing experiment.
Luckily, the extra ingredients did no harm. It’s still soupy, not stewy. I added a little more cinnamon and nutmeg at the end, but that’s it.
The result is a warming, feel-good soup that’s great mopped up with a piece of sourdough bread.
And accompanied by a glass of red wine.
Stay warm and safe if you’re weathering the storm somewhere.
Peter and I will be hanging out, pretending to drink Play-doh hot cocoa, and singing songs like “Cocoa-cabana” and “I’m Dreaming of a White Tuesday.”
January 25, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Hi! How are you? I hope you’re someplace warm. I’ll live vicariously through you. We had more snow this morning and another Nor’easter is on the way tomorrow. It’s challenging to stay positive, but I am trying! We’re just watching entirely too much SpongeBob in this house. I love that little guy, but it’s just too much.
So, Sunday was the last day of my 21-day vegan kick start program. I didn’t post too much about it over the last three weeks because, frankly, nothing too exciting happened. It was fairly easy for me to forgo dairy.
- On Friday nights when the boys had pizza, I ordered a veggie sub and added some hummus.
- Last Friday night I made my own pizza dough (which turned out pretty well. It needs tweaking, but it was edible!) and used Daiya mozzarella-style shreds (which are a lot better tasting than the cheddar-style shreds).
- We had bagels last weekend and I topped mine with avocado and nutritional yeast instead of veggie cream cheese or egg and cheese.
- We went out to dinner twice in three weeks and I didn’t have a problem finding vegan options on the menu. At a tapas place I had grilled rosemary bruchetta, a roasted vegetable special, and veggie paella (now, there may have been butter in the paella. I didn’t ask, but there may have been some. At least I passed on the Manchego!) And at a funky little pub-type place I had an amazing falafel salad with roasted farro, pine nuts and winter frisee topped with a lemon vinaigrette.
For the most part, I found vegan eating to be pretty simple and satisfying. I honestly didn’t crave cheese once.
Now, how do I feel?
I had hoped to feel lighter, cleaner and healthier by mid-January, and…
1. I feel heavier.
2. I feel like my PMS symptoms arrived early and with a vengeance.
3. I feel that I’m easily irritated, lacking patience, and kind of depressed.
4. In better news, I feel that my lungs have cleared. Yay! However, that may be due to the antibiotics I took the week I started the vegan kick start. Boo – I dread taking antibiotics, but push came to shove and I did not want to end up in the hospital with pneumonia. I’ve been taking probiotics to replenish the good bacteria the antibiotics may have killed off.
To say the least, I’m shocked by how I feel. I thought for sure I’d feel amazing after eating clean for three weeks. I looked back over my food diary and I don’t think that I overate. I seem to have had a good balance of food and nutrients.
I didn’t do the kick start to lose weight, but I certainly didn’t plan to gain weight either! My clothes are uncomfortably tight and I just don’t feel comfortable in my own skin.
I can’t make sense of it.
The only plausible reason I can think of is that since “my time of the month” coincided with the end of the kick start program, how I’m feeling now is simply Mother Nature giving me a good old kick in the butt. For 26 years, Mother Nature has kicked me in the butt something awful each month, but this month is up there with the worst times. “Blech” is all I can say. Mother Nature hates me.
So, maybe a nasty Mother Nature combined with a slight change in diet was enough to throw my body/metabolism out of whack. That’s my best guess.
All’s not lost though. I’m sure I’ll feel peachy-keen sometime next week. And I plan to get back into going to the gym–I haven’t worked out in ages since I hadn’t been feeling well. Exercising will make a world of difference, not only for my body, but it will help clear the winter SpongeBob sludge out of the space that once held my brain.
Ultimately, and despite how I’m feeling now, the last three weeks have re-invigorated my commitment to eating as cleanly as possible. Here’s some of what I’ll be doing from this point forward:
- Limit/exclude cow’s dairy.
- Drink green tea in place of coffee in the morning. (Coffee has been making me sick recently–and I can’t find a non-dairy creamer I like–so I’ve decided to switch to green tea for now. Maybe I’ll go caffeine-free at some point.)
- Drink fresh juice in the morning
Yesterday morning and the morning before, I made this green juice:
2 Granny Smith apples
1 large cucumber
big handful of washed baby spinach
This morning I had a carrot and apple juice:
2 Fuji apples
I’ll also be cooking from two new pretty fabulous cookbooks by Terry Walters (a fellow Institute for Integrative Nutrition grad):
And this amazing cookbook:
While it’s not quite time to say I’ll be doing a Spring Cleaning, that’s pretty much what I’ll be doing. Like, forever. Not just now and not just in the spring. It’s going to be my new year-round lifestyle.
If being sick for months on end has taught me anything it’s that there is nothing better than feeling healthy. When I feel healthy, I can do anything; I can handle anything.
Really, is there anything better than that?
January 12, 2011 § 4 Comments
I have no idea from where this recipe originated. It’s written in my circa 1995 handwriting on a piece of food-splattered, wrinkled notebook paper. My handwriting is constantly changing, it’s bizarre. I couldn’t copy this script now if I tried.
Go-to Lentil Soup
Serves approximately 6 people
1 onion, chopped
1/4 cup olive oil
2 organic carrots, diced
2 stalks organic celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 (14.5 oz.) can organic crushed tomatoes (I usually use a 28 oz. can** - pwa)
2 cups dried lentils, picked over and rinsed
8 cups water, organic vegetable broth, or organic chicken broth (I use 8 cups of vegetable broth – pwa)
1/2 cup organic spinach, rinsed and thinly sliced, optional
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, optional
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large soup pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, carrots, and celery; cook and stir until onion is tender. Stir in garlic, bay leaf, oregano, and basil; cook for 2 minutes.
Stir in lentils and add broth and tomatoes. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for at least 1 hour. When ready, stir in spinach, and cook until it wilts. Stir in vinegar, if desired. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
This soup is so easy and satisfying. I often add curry powder and turmeric to spice up leftovers, too.
If you’re a dunker like me, you’ll love it with grilled cheese/Daiya.
And if you’re in the Northeast like we are, today is the PERFECT day for soup. We’s got us some snows:
January 11, 2011 § 2 Comments
So, this is the 9th day of my successful vegan life.
And this right here is my 100th blog post! (For some reason, Christina Aguilera’s ”Dirrty” is the celebratory song in my head. “Ring the alarm, ring the alarm…Oh, I’m overdue, give me some room…”)
Anyway, I’m not a hugely active blogger, but 100 posts in just under one year seems like a respectable amount. Right? I think I’ve stayed true to my initial vision (which can be read here), although I didn’t spend as much time on a few topics, such as gardening and travel, as I thought I would (no, we didn’t go to Tuscany. Boo.). (And, NO, Peter and I didn’t pick enough blueberries to get us through the winter. The kid eats a whole pint in a sitting. There’s not a freezer big enough to hold the amount he’d eat all winter.)
Failures aside, my main mission was–and still is– this: to encourage you to think about–and care about–what you’re eating.
If you’re eating meat, is it the best quality meat you can find? The best quality red meat will be organic and grass-finished. The best quality chicken will be organic and free-range. Why don’t you search your area for local farmers to buy meat from directly? It will take some legwork, but wouldn’t it be nice to know where exactly your meat is coming from?
The same goes for eggs and dairy. Try to find a local organic dairy farmer from who you can buy your dairy products.
If you’re eating fruit and vegetables (and you darned well better be), are you buying the organic version of those on the most recent EWG “dirty dozen” list?
To make life easier for you:
Here’s the 2010 Top 12 Dirtiest Produce (The 2011 list isn’t available yet):
5. Blueberries (domestic)
7. Sweet bell peppers
10. Kale/collard greens
12. Grapes (Imported)
You should most definitely buy the organic version of these 12 fruits and vegetables.
I simply want you to treat your body with the respect it deserves. If you treat it well, it will treat you well by staying healthy and happy.
Speaking of which, and as I’ve previously mentioned, I’ve had my share of health challenges over the past few months. It’s obvious to me that I wasn’t treating my body the way it needed to be treated. It was pissed and it was letting me know it was pissed by harboring an evil germ in my lungs for months. In an attempt to make amends with my body, I’ve started a 21-day vegan eating plan and I’m making the time to stop and really listen to what my body needs. One of the things that my body is screaming for is a massage, so I’m getting an hour-long massage on Saturday!
I also reviewed my food diary to search for a clue as to what I’d been doing wrong nutritionally and I saw that I hadn’t been eating nearly enough vegetables. Especially leafy greens, which are crucial for healthy living.
So, last week I bought a huge bunch of kale, an amazingly nutritious and health-supporting vegetable. I had planned to use it for some of the recipes supplied by PCRM, but since I’ve started eating vegan, I’ve done my own meal planning.
Yesterday I decided to use about 3/4 of the bunch of kale for Mama Pea’s BBQ kale chip recipe (yum!) and the other 1/4 for a raw kale salad recipe that I first ate shortly after I registered at The Institute for Integrative Nutrition.
(Unfortunately, I can’t recall who posted the recipe on the online education forum nearly 4 years ago! Give me a break! I can hardly remember what I did yesterday.)
Anyway, it was my first experience with kale, and as is the case with many first times, it was memorable. And in this case it’s a good memory… unlike some of my other “firsts.” You know, like the first time I tried eating a scallop. Blech. Bad memory. Bad.
Energizing and Citrusy Kale Salad with Avocado
A good-sized bunch of kale, thoroughly rinsed, leaves torn into bite-sized pieces, or cut chiffonade style
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 avocado, diced
2 tablespoons sunflower seeds
2 clementines (or oranges), peeled and separated into segments
Juice from two oranges
1. Place the washed kale into a large bowl. Add the teaspoon of sea salt and with your hands “massage” the salt into the kale. Do this for 2 minutes until the leaves start turning a deeper shade of green and feel softer. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty. I’ve found that I truly love using my hands as a food prep tool – kneading dough, rolling chocolate truffles, massaging kale. It’s awesome.
2. To the softened kale, add the diced avocado, sunflower seeds, orange segments and orange juice. Mix all together with your hands.
3. Eat and enjoy!
You can add whatever you want to the massaged kale. I think grapefruit and grapefruit juice would be a delicious substitute for the oranges. You could add apples, fennel, red onions, celery, blueberries, chickpeas, shredded carrots, nuts, olive oil…I mean, the possibilities are endless.
I honestly feel a tingly, energizing surge a few minutes after I eat this salad. A feeling very similar to another first time experience. You know, driving the car for the first time by myself. Wha-hoo!
Try this salad. Kale season is now through early spring.
Enjoy your Tuesday!
January 5, 2011 § Leave a Comment
I hope you’re having a fantastic first week of 2011! Do you still have a “fresh start” buzz, or has it already worn off ? I hope you still have it. Ideally, we should wake up each morning with a fresh start buzz, regardless of whether it’s the first week of January or the last week of December. Am I right? That’s a rhetorical question. Of course I’m right.
So, as I mentioned in my last post, I’m removing dairy from my diet for 21 days with the hope that doing so will help me finally kick this bug that’s been plaguing me since early fall. It’s going pretty well so far. I’ve come to realize that I haven’t been eating a whole lot of dairy lately. I do miss milk in my coffee, and I’m sure I’ll be wanting a piece of pizza on Friday night, but for the most part I haven’t felt deprived in the least.
Here’s a sampling of what I’ve eaten these last few days:
Oatmeal with banana, peanut butter, golden raisins and cinnamon; Sprouted grain raisin toast with peanut butter and sliced banana.
Coffee with almond milk
Lara bars, apples, vegan macaroons, blueberries, roasted chickpeas with jerk seasoning*, Naked green superfood juice, dairy free dark chocolate, pretzels
Veggie burger with avocado, hummus and spinach on sprouted grain toast; Leftover brown rice with Daiya, avocado and roasted chickpeas; Vegetarian burrito bowl at Chipotle
Vegan tamale, brown rice with sautéed onions, garlic and broccoli; Whole wheat pasta with baby spinach and marinara
(*I’m a fan of the roasted chickpeas! To make them, I opened a can of chickpeas, dumped them in a strainer and rinsed them off, dried them with paper towels and then tossed them with some olive oil before roasting them at 400 degrees for about 30 minutes. When I took them out, I added sea salt and pepper and plopped them into my bowl of rice, avocado and Daiya (I gave Daiya another shot, but I’m still not crazy about it). I had quite a few leftover chickpeas that didn’t fit into my rice bowl, so to spice them up a bit I sprinkled on some Jamaican Jerk Seasoning. Spicy, salty, crunchy…a really tasty upgrade from potato chips or pretzels thanks to the protein and fiber in the chickpeas.)
So. So far, so good. PCRM provides a daily menu, but I’ve been using what I already have in the house and improvising. I’m going to the grocery store tomorrow and plan to pick up ingredients for some new vegan recipes that PCRM has supplied. I definitely need more leafy greens.
Have you made any changes this week with the hope of improving your health? How is it going?
I’ll leave you with a link to today’s Daily Candy video featuring Dr. Frank Lipman. I’m not too familiar with Dr. Lipman, but from what I’ve seen and read, he seems to support ”my” type of eating (whole, organic food). If anything, he gives some good grocery shopping tips!
December 31, 2010 § 2 Comments
Aaaahh. So. Hello there! I guess my hiatus is over. I won’t bore you with all the details, but I will say that I took a break from writing because I felt like a big bag of crap for a very long time. I’m still not 100% healthy, but I think I see the light at the end of the tunnel. I think. I don’t want to jinx myself. And, yes, I eventually gave in and took a few puffs from the inhaler. Not as many as the doctor prescribed, but I think what I did take might have helped a little.
Anyway, in an effort to completely rid myself of this relentless respiratory illness (I picture this little germ on horseback in my lungs trying to lasso my alveoli. Seriously, this little eff-er is trying to bring me down), I have decided to embark on PCRM’s 21-Day Vegan Kickstart beginning on Monday, 1/3.
I’ve kind of started already. For the past two days I’ve used almond milk in my coffee in place of my usual 1% organic milk. And I passed up an egg and cheese sandwich this morning for a bowl of oatmeal with almond butter, golden raisins and cinnamon.
(You may be asking why a certified Holistic Heath Counselor needs to join a group to start a vegan challenge. And the answer to that is: pure, unadulterated laziness. Sure, I could create my own vegan eating plan, but why should I when someone else has already created one? And even professionals need a helping hand sometimes.)
As you probably know, dairy products are mucus forming. And since I have mucus to spare (are you turned on yet?) I have made the logical (and belated) decision to remove dairy from my diet. Since I already don’t eat meat or fish, the only thing keeping me from being vegan is dairy. I actually once wrote a post here saying that I could never be vegan because I love cheese so much. Well, here I am being all contradictory. I will be vegan. For 21 days, at least.
I’m feeling kind of excited about it. I think I’ll feel cleaner, lighter, and healthier by mid-January. I’m praying that’s the outcome, anyhow.
I can’t say that I’ll become vegan after the 21 days since I can’t see myself using dairy substitutes like Earth Balance for butter and Daiya for cheese for an extended period of time. I bought some cheddar-style Daiya yesterday and I don’t know who they think they’re fooling, but it doesn’t taste like cheddar cheese.
Now, before I get yelled at, I’m not knocking these products (even though it sounds like I am) or saying that they are “bad.” They’re just not for me. I prefer to eat good quality, whole, organic food rather than processed food-stuff. But, for those people who are vegan for ethical reasons, those products are suitable substitutions for the real thing. And who knows? Maybe I’ll become a convert.
Anyway, I’ll be blogging about my vegan experience over the next few weeks and sharing recipes. If you care to join me on this adventure (I don’t think it’s too late to sign up), I’d love to hear how it’s going for you.
In the meantime, have a super fun and safe NYE!
November 3, 2010 § 1 Comment
It seems that the colder weather this year ushered in not only my jeans and Uggs, but also the urge to bake. I blame these two ladies: Mama Pea and Angela. Interestingly, they are both vegans, but they come up with the most amazing-sounding baked goods. (I think many non-vegans assume that vegans are hard-core vegetable eaters who never eat sweets. Not true.)
As I mentioned in a previous post, I don’t have much of a sweet tooth, but I’ve had an odd desire to bake recently. I’ve had some hits and misses using MamaPea’s and Angela’s recipes — since I’m not vegan, I use butter, milk, and eggs instead of the vegan replacements, and I think using those items may make a difference in texture? Can anyone confirm that? I use an equal amount per the recipe (for instance, if the recipe calls for 1/2 cup of Earth Balance margarine, I’ll use 1/2 cup of unsalted butter.) Is that wrong?
I made Brown Sugar Bars yesterday using butter instead of Earth Balance and they turned out…exceedingly moist, some might call them “not fully cooked,” and they don’t look like Mama Pea’s pictures
When I checked them after 20 minutes, they weren’t set at all, so I put them in for another 3 minutes, and then another 5 minutes after that. When I took them out, the sides looked fully cooked, but the middle had puffed up like an airy souffle. Which promptly deflated when I took the pan out of the oven.
It was quite dramatic, like the bars were taking their last breath. And then they done died right there in my new 8×8 Calphalon cake pan.
They taste fine, like blondie brownies, but they’re not perfect.
However, I did make one perfect baked good a few weeks ago: Pumpkin Scones.
Generally, I’m not drawn to scones. I find them to be so dry that I may as well eat a stick of chalk and call it a day.
But something about these particular scones called out to me. I think it was the pumpkin. They are noisy things this time of year, always asking to be eaten in some form or another. (I had a belly ache on Halloween night, not from candy, but from eating one too many roasted pumpkin seeds.)
When I saw this recipe, I was hosting a mom’s playgroup the next day and I thought that these would be nice to have on hand.
Save Some Bucks Pumpkin Scones (by Mama Pea at PeasandThankYou.com)
Makes six large scones
- 1/4 c. non-dairy or organic milk (I used 1% organic milk – pwa)
- 1/2 c. pumpkin
- 1 t. lemon juice
- 1/2 t. baking soda
- 2 c. whole wheat pastry flour
- 1/2 c. organic sugar
- 1 1/2 t. baking powder
- 1/4 t. cream of tartar
- 1/2 t. salt
- 1/2 t. cinnamon
- 1/2 t. nutmeg
- 1/4 t. ginger
- 1/2 c. vegan margarine (i.e. Earth Balance) (I used unsalted organic butter – pwa)
- 1/2 c. powdered sugar
- 1-2 T. non-dairy or organic milk (I used 1% organic milk – pwa)
- 1/2 c. powdered sugar
- 1/4 t. cinnamon
- 1/4 t. nutmeg
- 1/4 t. ginger
- 1 T. non-dairy or organic milk (I used 1% organic milk – pwa)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a small bowl, combine milk, pumpkin, lemon juice and baking soda. Set aside.
In a larger bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, cream of tartar, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger.
Cut in vegan margarine using a pastry cutter or fork, until texture is fine. and margarine is dispersed throughout.
Add pumpkin mixture to flour and stir until just combined. Do not overmix.
Turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead just until it comes together. (I loved this part – pwa)
Form a round mound that is even in height and about 8-10 inches in diameter.
Cut dough into six equal wedges.
and carefully transfer to a prepared baking sheet…
Bake for 22-26 minutes until bottoms are golden brown. Transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely before icing.
For plain glaze, mix all ingredients in a small bowl.
For spice glaze, mix all ingredients in another small bowl.
Spread plain glaze all over a cooled scone,
and then drizzle with the spice glaze.
(please pop over to MamaPea’s site to see her gorgeous accompanying photos).
Again, I used regular butter and milk, but they turned out perfectly (at least I think so). They weren’t too dry. They were subtly spicy and pumpkin-y. The icings totally made them.
Out of curiosity, I recently tried Starbuck’s pumpkin scone, and honestly, it does not compare to this scone. I couldn’t eat even half of the SB version — it tasted…artificial, I guess is the right word.
So, if the baking bug bites you,too, try out these scones. At the very least, to silence those nagging pumpkins.
October 10, 2010 § 7 Comments
If it seemed like I was weeping while I wrote recent posts about Peter, it’s because I was. And while I’m not crying now, I did shed a few tears after we turned his crib into a toddler bed yesterday morning:
It’s just that SO much is changing now, it’s a bit jarring. He’s changing every day and I can barely keep up with him, nevermind document all the ways he’s changing.
He was a pretty uneventful baby. He nursed like a champ. He rarely put things in his mouth. He didn’t start crawling until he was 11 months old. He didn’t walk until he was 16 months old. He stayed out of the kitchen cabinets. He never played in the toilet. His infant calendar is mostly blank because homeboy didn’t do anything until he was 6 months old, when he started growing some teeth. Even that was a little boring, frankly, since he didn’t have teething pain or anything.
I am not complaining. I think we’ve had it pretty easy with him and I’m so unbelievably grateful. There are definitely more good times than bad times with this kid.
I guess I’m feeling so weepy because I know now that my baby days are over. My baby is now–after a ridiculously quick 3 years–no longer a baby. And we’re not having another baby. Most of the time I’m ok with that fact, but sometimes I feel really sad when I realize that my body will never again produce another human being. Imagining my shriveled ovaries makes me feel old. Which I am, and that’s never fun to think about, right?
Ahhh, blah, blah, blah….enough with the mid-life crisis, Amy Anyway, after a wonderful day at the park, we came home and I made this Butternut Squash and Black Bean Chili served in Pumpkin Bowls (thanks to Angela at Oh She Glows and Emily at The Front Burner for sharing this recipe).
Emily’s Butternut Squash and Black Bean Chili in Pumpkin Bowls
- 3 mini [sugar] pumpkins *
- 1 medium sweet onion, diced
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 small butternut squash, cubed *
- 2 cups black beans (1 lg can), drained and rinsed
- 1 cup canned diced tomatoes
- 1 tbsp chili powder (or more to taste)
- 2 tsp cumin
- 2 tsp paprika
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- Sea salt, Spicy Herbamare, and pepper to taste
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Take mini pumpkin and slice the top off about 3/4 of the way up. Scoop out insides of the pumpkin using a grapefruit spoon. This part takes a long time- about 10 minutes per pumpkin so budget your time wisely. Save and rinse the pumpkin seeds to roast them with some olive oil and salt if desired. When your pumpkins are empty and cleaned out, brush the insides with olive oil and sprinkle on sea salt and ground pepper to your heart’s content. You will be eating the pumpkin flesh so you want it to taste delicious! Now pop your pumpkins onto a baking pan and into the oven for 30 minutes. While they are roasting in the oven, make the chili. In a large pot, add the oil and turn heat to medium. Add chopped onion and minced garlic and sauté the onion for about 5 minutes or so. Reduce heat if necessary to avoid burning. Now add the chopped pepper and butternut squash. Cook for about 12-15 minutes. Now add in the drained and rinsed beans, diced tomatoes, chili powder, cumin, paprika, vegetable broth, and S & P and stir well. Simmer on low-medium for another 5 minutes. Now remove your pumpkins from the oven and fill the bowls 3/4 of the way full. Place pumpkins carefully back into the oven (again without top) and bake for another 30 minutes. Once they are cooked, turn oven off and leave pumpkins in the oven with lid on to stay warm. They will stay hot in the oven for another hour if necessary.
*A tip for preparing squash/pumpkins: Place the whole squash on a baking sheet and put it in the oven while it’s preheating (about 10 minutes). This will soften the squash a bit to make cutting through the beautiful monster easier. I’ve used this method on acorn squash, mini pumpkins and a medium-sized butternut squash and I found that cutting is much, much easier.
I followed this recipe exactly to serve 3 people, but I had a bunch of chili that wouldn’t fit into my pumpkins! I must have bought super-mini pumpkins. I’m fine with the leftovers, though, as I plan on serving them over quinoa and topping the dish with roasted pumpkin seeds. I’m psyched for lunch!
So, I mentioned in the title of this post that the chili was beautiful, but potent. Yeah, about that. I was fine and Peter was fine, but my poor husband, well, let’s just say that he was primed for a colonoscopy when all was said and done. I felt so bad. I don’t know what happened. It wasn’t that spicy. I blame the combination of Alka Seltzer (he took it earlier in the night for his allergies), a pumpkin beer and chili powder. He does have a history of reacting badly to spicy food. I’m sharing this just to warn you that if you or your loved one is a wuss has a sensitive belly, you may want to dial back the spices. (But it really wasn’t that spicy. I’m just sayin’.)
May 16, 2010 § 3 Comments
Sorry vegans, but for this girl pasta just isn’t pasta without cheese. I could never be vegan. I love cheese and plain yogurt too much. Along with eggs, they are staples in my diet. I’ve tried limiting dairy products or replacing them with soy, but truth be told, I’m wary of soy. I was spooked by watching “Food, Inc.” and learning that most, if not all, of non-organic soybeans are genetically modified (as is non-organic corn. As far as I know, products labeled as organic are guaranteed not to be genetically modified). I’ll occasionally eat a soy product, like tofu or miso, but surely not every day. Organic dairy products work for me. And, yes, I most definitely buy organic dairy products. In my idealistic brain, they are procured in humane ways from healthy, well-treated, hormone-free animals. I hope I’m not being too naive.
All that is to preface this recipe which appears in the May/June 2010 issue of Vegetarian Times (p. 28). It’s a recipe that was excerpted from Donna Klein’s vegan cookbook Supermarket Vegan: 225 Meat-Free, Egg-Free, Dairy-Free Recipes for Real People in the Real World. With a few tweaks (sorry, Ms. Klein!)–which I’ll mention at the end of the recipe–this dish was a winner. Pair it with a fresh green salad and you’re good to go.
Baked Ziti with Zucchini, Chickpeas, and Olives
Serves 6 | 30 minutes or fewer
- 8oz. ziti, rigatoni, or penne pasta
- 1/2 pound zucchini, coarsely chopped (2 cups)
- 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas, or 1 15-oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 1 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes, with basil, garlic & oregano, juices included
- 1 cup tomato puree
- 1/4 cup chopped kalamata olives, divided
- 1 Tbs. olive oil
- 1 Tbs. tomato paste
- 2 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp.)
- 2 Tbs. Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat 11×7-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside.
- Cook ziti according to package directions for al dente in large pot of boiling salted water. Drain, rinse under cold water, and drain again. Return ziti to pot, and set aside.
- Meanwhile, combine zucchini, chickpeas, tomatoes and juices, tomato puree, 2 Tbs. olives, tomato paste, and garlic in large saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 5 minutes, or until sauce begins to thicken, stirring occasionally. Stir zucchini mixture into ziti, and season with salt and pepper, if desired.
- Transfer ziti mixture to prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs and remaining 2 tbsp. olives. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until pasta is heated through and breadcrumbs are golden brown.
My tweaks: I used whole wheat penne pasta. I also used panko breadcrumbs with added Italian seasoning in place of the pre-seasoned breadcrumbs suggested in the recipe. What really made the dish for me was the crumbled feta cheese and grated parmesan cheese that I added to the top along with the panko breadcrumbs. Next time I make this I may add some lemon zest to the sauce. That may sound odd, but the dish has a Mediterranean feel that I think would be complemented by a little lemon flavor. It’ll “kick it up a notch,” as Emeril would say.
I give this one 5 out of 5 zucchinis.