Monthly Archives: April 2017

Ole! Chipotle Sweet Potatoes & Taco Kale

Chipotle Sweet Potatoes

I like to get the most out of my food, so I try to come up with recipes that can be used in a variety of ways. I’ve been thinking about some type of empanada to make for Cinco de Mayo. I wanted it to be easy and definitely not fried. The “easy” parts were baking sweet potatoes, sauteeing kale and defrosting black beans. What’s nice about these recipes is that they can be enjoyed in so many ways. We had the sweet potatoes, kale and black beans plated for dinner one night and I used the left overs to make the empanadas a few days later. The empanadas can be filled a day before you plan to bake them, so this makes them perfect when planning a party. You could also use them to fill burritos or enchiladas. I’m hungry, how about you? Let’s enjoy our dinner tonight and come back for some empanadas later in the week. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Chipotle Sweet Potatoes

Note: As long as I’m putting on the oven, I usually make a large quantity of sweet potatoes to have for other meals during the week.

About four large sweet potatoes
1 chipotle in adobo sauce (from a can)

Preheat oven to 350F. Place a few potatoes on a baking sheet and bake until very soft and the juices start to ooze out of the potatoes. Remove from oven and cool enough to handle. Remove the skins, measure out two cups and place in a small bowl. Add one canned chipotle pepper and mash to combine.

Serve as a side dish or as a component in burritos or empanadas.

Kale with Taco Seasoning

1 lb. kale, de-ribbed and chopped
6 large garlic cloves, minced
4 teaspoons taco seasoning

Set an instant pot to saute setting. Add garlic and cook until lightly browned. Add ¼ cup of water and taco seasoning, then place kale on top. Set instant pot to cook on high pressure for 3 minutes. Quick release and remove cover when safe. To cook on stove top, saute garlic in a large non-stick skillet, add water and kale. Cover and cook until wilted, then remove cover to allow liquid to evaporate.

30 Apr 2017

Mother of Invention: Red Bean & Jamaican Collard Green Burgers

Jamaican Red Bean & Collard Greens Burger

“Necessity is the mother of invention.” When it comes to plant-based meals, necessity has become the mother of recipes. One of my biggest frustrations with following a plant-based diet is eating out. When we find a new restaurant that has even just one vegan offering we make it a point to try it out and hopefully become regular patrons. This is the case with a restaurant in our downtown area. When they first opened up, I was delighted to see that they serve black bean burgers. The appearance of a black bean burger on a menu isn’t anything special because it’s been my experience that most vegan options are either a grilled vegetable sandwich, a hummus wrap or . . .  a black bean burger. In any case, we’re happy that there’s something for us. On a recent visit to our go-to place for black bean burgers I was somewhat disappointed. The beans were barely smashed, the flavor was flat and the burger fell apart and out of the bun. Even a healthy pour of barbeque sauce couldn’t rescue my lunch. As so often happens, Bruce was subjected to my usual frustrating and somewhat rant-like questions. “How hard is it to have a bean burger on the menu?” or  “You would think they could come up with something other than a black bean burger. After all there are so many types of beans.” Sheesh! And then I start to rattle off all the different burgers I make. Gumbo Burger. Mushroom Burger. Frank n’ Burger. Jamaican Red Bean Burger. Corned Beet Reuben Burger. Chic Filet Burger. Hoppin’ John Burger. Mushroom Barley Burger. Sounds like a scene from the movie Forest Gump. On the way home I thought about my next burger recipe. I knew I had some leftover Jamaican collard greens and baked sweet potatoes in the fridge and a few cans of red beans in the pantry. I pulsed these ingredients in my food processor and added oatmeal to absorb any excess liquid and keep the burgers together. I kicked it up a notch by adding more Jamaican curry powder. I let them “firm up” in the fridge, then cooked them on a non-stick electric griddle. Since I still had more of the collard greens left, I used them to top off the burgers. (I recommend making the collard greens ahead of time and using the leftovers to make the burgers.) These burgers are so flavorful (and stay inside the bun) that they just might be my favorite burger recipe so far. Or it might be a close second to my Frank n’ Burger. Oh, but what about that Chic-filet Burger? One thing I know for sure — there will be more bean burger recipes being invented in my kitchen. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Red Bean & Jamaican Collard Green Burgers

2 cans red kidney beans, drained
1 cup Jamaican collard greens, drained of any liquid (see below)
1 cup cooked sweet potato
½ cup old-fashioned oats, processed into a coarse flour
1 teaspoon Jamaican curry powder

additional Jamaican collard greens for topping

Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place all ingredients in food processor and pulse until beans are smashed and all ingredients are mixed together. Form into patties and place on parchment paper. (A one-half cup measure makes a large burger to fit a Kaiser bun. One-third cup will fit a standard hamburger bun. Refrigerate a few hours to firm up.

When ready to cook, preheat oven to 350F. Place baking sheet in oven and bake about 20 minutes, flipping once halfway through baking. Alternately, you can use a non-stick electric griddle to grill the burgers.

Jamaican Collard Greens

1 lb. collard greens, thinly sliced or chopped
1 large onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tomato, chopped
½ to 1 Scotch Bonnet or Habanero pepper, seeds intact (see note)
1 teaspoon Jamaican curry powder
2 cups water (see notes for cooking in instant pot)
½ cup coconut milk (canned)

Note: depending on your tolerance for hot peppers, use your judgement as to how much of the pepper you want to use and whether or not to scrape the seeds out before cooking.

Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onions and garlic and saute until lightly browned. Add tomatoes, collard greens, Scotch Bonnet, curry powder and water. Reduce to simmer, cover and cook until very tender (about 1 hour). Add coconut milk, uncover and continue cooking until most of liquid has evaporated.

Instant Pot:

Turn setting to saute. Cook onions until lightly browned. Add garlic and cook one minute, then add ¾ cup water, chopped tomato, curry powder and whole pepper. Place collards on top. Cover and pressure cook on low for 10 minutes. Quick release pressure. Set control to saute setting, then add coconut milk. Continue cooking until coconut milk gets absorbed and any excess liquid is evaporated. Remove pepper.

 

18 Apr 2017

Flexibility: Eggplant Puttanesca

Eggplant Puttanesca & CameBOSH

I like recipes that are flexible. They can be flexible from the standpoint of not needing exact measurements with ingredients that can be easily substituted. Flexible also means that the dish can be served either hot or cold, as an entree or appetizer, and can be served at the table or easily transported to work or a family gathering. One of my favorite eggplant recipes is for Baingan Bhartha, an Indian dish made with grilled eggplant, tomatoes, onions, garlic and ginger. Some time ago I changed it up and made an Italian-influenced Giambotta. Another one of my favorite meals is Pasta Puttanescaa spicy dish made with tomatoes, olives and capers. I took bits and pieces of these dishes and came up with this recipe for Eggplant Puttanesca. I grilled eggplant slices then simmered them with tomatoes, Kalamata olives, capers, garlic and crushed red pepper. It’s a versatile dish that can be enjoyed on its own, with a side of pesto-scented orzo or Italian bread for dunking. It reheats nicely and can be eaten at room temperature which makes for a tasty, make-ahead appetizer. Toss it with a small cut pasta to pack for a workday lunch or to share at an outdoor gathering. I had the leftovers for lunch today with CameBOSH, a warm cheese-like spread from Bosh TV. I still have a little leftover and I’m already dreaming up my next meal. Add a little flexibility to your meal plan with this Eggplant Puttanesca. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

EggplantPuttanesca

Eggplant Puttanesca

8 plum tomatoes (or 1 can Italian plum tomatoes)
1 large eggplant (about 2 pounds)
4 large garlic cloves, minced
2 Tablespoons capers, rinsed and drained
¼ cup Kalamata olives, sliced in half
2 teaspoons dried marjoram or oregano
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
Salt and pepper to taste

Cooked pasta (a small cut like orzo)

If you’re using canned tomatoes, skip this step. Bring a medium pot of water to boil. Using a knife, score an “x” into the blossom end of the tomatoes. Place tomatoes in water long enough for skin to soften and peel away from the flesh of the tomatoes. Place in a colander and when cool enough to handle, remove skins. Place tomatoes in food processor and process until chunky.

Slice eggplants crosswise into 1” thick slices. Preheat outdoor grill on medium heat. (It’s not necessary to coat the grates with oil, but you may do so if you like.) Place eggplants on grill and cook until grill marks appear on both sides. Remove to cutting board and cut slices into quarters or sixths. Set aside.

Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. (You can use a small amount of olive oil to coat the skillet if desired.) Add garlic and saute until it starts to brown, adding water 2 tablespoons at a time to prevent sticking. Add tomatoes, capers, olives, marjoram and red pepper. Cook until the sauce starts to thicken. Add eggplant and continue to cook until desired tenderness (about 10 minutes). Season with salt and pepper. Serve with cooked pasta or crusty Italian bread.

12 Apr 2017

Madness to My Method: Mint-Chocolate Smoothie

Mint Chocolate Smoothie

Mint Chocolate Smoothie

There’s a saying that goes “there’s a method to my madness” which means that there is purpose in what one is doing, even though it seems to be crazy. Today’s post is a peek into how my mind works, which I like to think of as the “madness to my method.” A recipe for a mint chocolate chip smoothie popped up on one of my Facebook groups a few weeks ago and it stirred up memories from when I was making my own dairy ice cream. Mint chocolate chip was one of my favorite flavors. Boy, could I go for some right now. So, the recipe that inspired my latest obsession contained fresh mint for flavor and a handful of spinach for color. I don’t know about you, but milk and spinach doesn’t do it for me. One of the first things I discovered about home-made mint ice cream, unlike most commercial ones, is that it’s not green. My approach was to create a smoothie that had a hint of mint and an ice cream-like feeling. I tried a version using frozen peas for what I thought would add a creamy thickness. (Yuk!) I tried using sweet rice as a thickener. I had to soak the rice overnight and steam it the next day, which proved to be too much advance planning for a smoothie. This also resulted in a more “gooey” and less creamy consistency. The chocolate chips were another problem. If I blended them with the other ingredients, they disappeared. When I added them in during the last few seconds they sunk to the bottom of the glass.The flavor of the fresh mint fell flat, so I sent away for a bottle of pure mint extract and put the testing on hold for a few days. While waiting for my shipment to arrive I couldn’t stop thinking about this recipe. What if . . . I just added the mint extract to my go-to cinnamon bun smoothie? What if . . .  I used brown rice instead of sweet rice? What if . . .  I just start from scratch? And the chocolate . . . what if I shave it and stir it in when ready to serve? By the time the extract arrived, I had it sorted out: almond milk, banana, dates, brown rice, oatmeal, mint extract and chocolate shavings. I tend to over-blend my smoothies to get them extra creamy, but that also makes them warm. I find that refrigerating them for a few hours allows the milk to absorb the starch from the oats and rice making for a thicker smoothie. A thicker smoothie helps the chocolate shavings maintain their buoyancy. All of this obsessing paid off with a Mad Good Mint Chocolate Smoothie that’s smooth, creamy, slightly sweet with a tinge of mint and specked with chocolate. Mix up your own batch of blissful madness today. Thanks for being Vegi-curious.

Mint Chocolate Smoothie

Makes one or two servings

1-½ cups almond milk
1 large frozen banana, sliced
¼ cup old fashioned oats
¼ cup cooked brown rice
4 pitted dates
1/8 teaspoon mint extract
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
Shaved chocolate

Combine all of the ingredients, except the shaved chocolate, in a high-speed blender and process until smooth. Pour into a glass and stir in shaved chocolate. If you would like a thicker smoothie you can place in the refrigerator for a few hours.

05 Apr 2017

%d bloggers like this: