Friday, July 30, 2010

Mashed Cauliflower Smothered with Caramelized Onions, Black Beans & Collards

An uber healthy, light take on the beloved Shepherds Pie... plus it's crazy cheap to make this meal. This is one of those things that you truly have to try to make up your mind on how delicious it is. Easy, healthy, delicious, cheap AND super hearty... this meal is sure to please.

Serves about 3-4 hearty bowl fulls. :) nom nom...

Whatcha Need:

Creeeeamy Mashed Cauliflower

1 head of Cauliflower, cleaned and cut into florets
4 tablespoons of Earth Balance Buttery Spread
About a 1/4 cup of Almond Milk (you can also used Plain Soy or Rice Milk)
Sea Salt, Pepper, White Pepper

Clean, cut and rinse the cauliflower, place in a medium size pot, cover with water, and boil. Just like you are making mashed potatoes. I like to salt the water just a touch. Boil until tender, usually about 20-25 minutes depending on the size of the florets.

Once fork tender, drain well. Add the Earth Balance, Salt, Pepper, White Pepper, and Almond Milk. Mashed with a masher until very smooth... you can use the hand mixer, but I find cauliflower likes to fly. Catch my drift? For a cleaner experience, just mash the old fashioned way. :)

Caramellized Onions & Black Beans (Also really good served over rice!)
1 large Onion, half moons
1 can of Organic Black Beans (rinsed REALLY well, get the strainer out for this job!)
1 tablespoon of Brown Rice Syrup (if you don't have brown rice syrup, just omit this ingred.)
1 tablespoon Soy Sauce
Sea Salt, Pepper, Thyme, 21 Seasoning Salute

In a pan, bring the onions, oil, brown rice syrup and pinch of salt to a nice, slow simmer over med/high heat. Baby the onions, you want them to caramellize, not burn or get crunchy. Stir often. After about 10-12 minutes they should be looking good, add the spices and drained black beans. Let simmer, on low for about 5 more minutes.

Steamed Collard Greens
About 5-6 Collard Green leaves (You can also use Kale or Spinach... I just really liked the "meaty" texture of Collards for this dish)

Clean and de vein the greens. (the center vein, get it outta there. blegh!) And give the greens a very rough chop. If you have a veggie steamer, steam the greens with a pinch of sea salt & water for about 5 minutes, until they are a deep, rich beautiful green hue. If you don't have a steamer, you can microwave them or boil the greens. (NOTE: If you choose to boil the greens, wait to de vein and cut until after cooked. They will loose all their nutrients!)

Toss the greens into the Beans & onions.

Take a nice heaping spoonful of the Mashed Cauliflower and put into a bowl, and then like you would gravy, smother it with a heaping ladle of the beans, onions, and collards. You can also garnish with some red pepper seeds... mmm.

Enjoy with a nice piece of bread and earth balance buttery spread, and ya got yourself a hearty, healthy, and economically friendly meal. Woo hoo!!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

THE Veggie, Bean, & Barley Soup.

I swear, we live on this. This soup is fantastic and easy. Most of the time I just throw in the pot whatever needs to be used up! The recipe changes slightly every time, it's just so versatile. I make a pretty large pot of this when I make it, so it's also great if you have major left overs to just pour into glad ware and freeze! Perfect for lunches and those nights you don't feel like cooking anything.

When it comes to veggie broth, I use Better Than Bouillon Vegetable Broth, it comes in a little jar and it is delicious. It's organic, takes up very little space, and packs a lot of punch. (32 servings for around $7... heck yeah!) If you use a broth like this, this recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of it. You can get this at Giant Eagle, folks! It's great.

Cooking tip: When cooking with fresh veggies, adding a pinch of salt before they start to cook holds in all those vital nutrients we need. It also helps with flavor, of course. :)

Whatcha Need:

3 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 (large) yellow onion, half moons
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
3 carrots, chopped (if they have their green tops... use those too! just chop them up.)
2 stalks of celery, chopped
1 large daikon radish (amazing amazing vegetable, google it!!!)
1 zucchini, cubed
1 tomato, chopped
3 red potatoes,cubed
1 can of Organic Garbonzo Beans (rinsed well)
1 can of Organic Black beans (rinsed well)
1/2 cup of Barley
1 cup of chopped Spinach
Fresh cracked Pepper, Rosemary, Basil, White Pepper, Sea Salt. (and a DASH of cinnamon)
4 cups of water
4 cups of veggie broth (or 2 tablespoons of Better Than Bouillon Veggie Broth)

Put the extra virgin olive oil, onions, garlic, chopped carrots, celery, and two pinches of sea salt. Stir until shiny with oil and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, on Med/High heat.

Then add the daikon (chopped into medallions), zucchini, potatoes, tomatoes and a pinch of sea salt. Cook for another 5 minutes.

Add the rinsed beans, seasonings, greens, and a pinch of salt. Cook for 3 minutes, then add the water & broth. Should be just enough to cover all the veggies. Then add your barley.

Bring to a slight boil and then leave to simmer for about 45 minutes until barley is cooked.

Easy Weekend Pancakes

I recently made these amazing pancakes from the cookbook "Vegan Yum Yum" ( And I must say, it was worth sharing. Easy, delicious, and wholesome. The perfect Sunday Brunch! (Pre-make the batter the night before to make it SUPER easy! Just cover and store in the fridge.)

I did make a few tweeks when I made my pancakes, I used Almond milk instead of Soy and also added a dash of cinnamon. And remember folks... use REAL maple syrup! Yes, it may be a touch pricey, but it's worth it! You use less and you're not eating maple flavored high fructose corn syrup... SICK!

I topped mine with Real Maple Syrup, Earth Balance Buttery Spread, Walnuts, and a Banana. ENJOY!

Easy Weekend Pancakes
Makes about 25 Silver Dollar Pancakes, enough for two people

1 1/2 Cup Soymilk
1 Tbs Sugar
2 Tbs Oil
1 Cup Spelt (or all-purpose*) Flour
1/3 Cup All-Purpose Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Salt
1 tsp Extract (any flavor, I used orange, but vanilla is a no-brainer)
1-2 Tbs water, to thin batter if needed

*If using only all-purpose flour for this recipe, you may need to add more liquid. Regular flour absorbs more moisture than spelt.

Add soymilk to your blender. Add remaining ingredients except the water and blend for a few seconds until combined. Scrape down any dry flour stuck to the side of the jar and blend again. Place the top on the blender and refrigerate overnight. You can also use the batter immediately.

In the morning, place the blender back on the base and add 1-2 Tbs of water, blend to mix. This re-thins the batter that had thickened overnight.

Preheat oven to 200ยบ F, or the lowest setting, and put an oven-safe plate on the middle rack. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat for a few minutes. Pour the batter directly into the center of the UNgreased heated pan. I like silver dollar sized pancakes, 2 1/2 to 3″ in diameter, but you can make any size you want. This batter should create fairly thin pancakes.

After a few minutes of cooking, you’ll see the bubbles form and set on the uncooked side of the pancake. The batter will start to set, and it will change color from white to dull yellow. This is when you should flip. If your pancake isn’t brown by this time, turn your heat up. If it is overly brown, your heat is too high.While cooking the pancakes, place the finished ones directly into the oven on the plate. Stack the pancakes as you go. This will keep the whole stack warm while you’re cooking them.

While the pancakes are cooking, feel free to add blueberries, chocolate chips, or anything else you can imagine. Serve with vegan margarine (Earth Balance) and maple syrup.