Chickpea Avocado Salad - Forks Over Knives

The sun was shining yesterday and I felt the hope of spring. I feel encouraged and ready to open windows, walk outside and eat lighter meals. Here's the perfect salad to wake up the spring in you. It's amazingly simple and incredibly delicious. Find the original recipe here posted at Forks Over Knives on their Super Bowl 2015 menu. (Looking back at the recipe just now, I realize I did not include the jalapeno pepper and I can't decide if this salad needs the heat or is perfect as is.)

Burgundy Mushrooms (a 9 hour recipe)

More mushrooms. I know! I know! Sorry. But these are very special. "The best mushroom experience of your life," according to the Food Network Magazine, December, 2014. My photo is exceptionally bad…. So embarrassed. Be sure to serve these babies with lots of crusty bread to soak up the buttery burgundy sauce. Heavenly as it, or with pasta, pizza, salad, any kind of rice. Literally, they melted in my mouth. I couldn't get enough, which was a problem because I took them to a party and you know what that's *should* be tasting everyone else's food, but you only *want* to eat yours. Been there? This recipe made way too many – next time I will cut it in half for a more manageable amount. 

4 pounds white button mushrooms
2 sticks butter (I used Earth Balance. Next time I will reduce this amount)
4 cubes chicken bouillon
4 cubes beef bouillon 
( I used 2 cubes vegetable bouillon - it was plenty. Be careful not to add too much sodium)
1 t dill seeds (I used dried dill)
5 cloves garlic
1 liter burgundy wine or other dry red wine
1 1/2 t Worcestershire sauce

Put everything in a large Dutch oven. Pour 2 C boiling water over all. Stir. Bring to boil, reduce to simmer, cover and simmer for 6 (yes, six) hours. Remove lid, simmer for another 3 (yes, three) hours. 

Roasted Cabbage Steaks

Take the largest head of cabbage you can find. Slice it into thick slabs, leaving the stem intact. Mince lots of garlic and mix it with lots of olive oil. 

Brush the garlicky oil over each cabbage steak. Sprinkle with pepper. Bake in a 400 degree oven for about an hour. Flip over once at the half way point, being careful not to break the delicate leaves apart. Devour. 

Beans and Cabbage and Pasta, oh my!

My first attempt at cooking dried fava beans was a big failure which was rather disappointing because everyone and his uncle rave about fava beans. Mine just turned to mush and the ugly skins peeled off in big clumps. Plus they tasted horrible. They went straight to the compost bin.

I was hesitant to cook these gorgeous beans for the same reasons. But I am happy to report they not only turned out perfectly, they tasted delicious. Tim brought them from Japan; the directions are in Japanese, but I figured I couldn’t go wrong with the standard bean method of a quick pre-soak and then a slow simmer till soft.  Google tells me they are called Japanese black kidney beans.

 All I know is that they were beautiful before they were cooked and even more beautiful when they were ready to be eaten.

I served them with a simple garlicy tomato sauce and pasta. As a side, I made a killer roasted garlic cabbage steak.  I’m telling you – this was a good meal. 

Tribes and a Stolen Stollen

Certainly by now you have all heard the theory that we belong to different ‘tribes’ of people. I am a member of the “Middle School Teachers” tribe. I want advice and support from as many others middle school teachers as I can get! Some folks call us crazy…..but we’re just awesome.

I’m also a church choir director, so I belong to that tribe as well. I follow blogs, subscribe to magazines, participate in workshops, and join discussion groups. Most likely, the funniest (and most fun) tribe I belong to is my ukulele tribe. (Yes, I am a closet ukulele player…..) I travel to various cities to sing and strum with other ukulele enthusiasts.

Don’t forget about the vegan tribe! I joined 2 years ago and intend to stay for the rest of my life. This tribe has changed my life! Don’t know where I’d be without the other vegans in my life – whether virtual or in the flesh.

I absolutely believe this quote from Seth Godin (Google him. Love him. Have learned tons from him.)

“A tribe is a group of people connected to one another, connected to a leader, and connected to an idea. For millions of years, human beings have been part of one tribe or another. A group needs only two things to be a tribe: a shared interest and a way to communicate.”

Another tribe I belong to is “Lutherans who love to cook” and this stollen recipe was shared on our Facebook page. It would be simple to Google a stollen recipe – this one has a marzipan filling, so look for that if you’re actually interested.

A crazy, crazy amount of ingredients and lots of steps. Time spent soaking, kneading, rising, worrying. I have to admit that I over baked my loaves and had to cut off the toasted bottom of two of them. I also admit that my dog Lucy ate AN ENTIRE LOAF. (a stolen stollen, if you will) 

The one pictured here was by far the best looking one.  I share it here just to brag about my culinary achievement.

The Really Hungry Burger –from Veganuary

Great for you mushroom addicts out there. Also great for those of you who are toying with the idea of going vegan. The recipe is a solid ‘A’ and the program ‘Veganuary’ is solid too. Basically, the good folks at Veganuary are challenging everyone to go vegan for the month of January. Guess what? It’s not too late! What are you waiting for? At least try their burger? 

Recipe found here and photos found below.... don't be too judgy when you compare my photo to their photo..... 

Yes, that a Medjool date in there..... somehow, it worked!
The binder is beans, parsely, Tahini, garlic, etc
Mix it with sauteed Portabello mushrooms, bread crumbs, etc
Fry in some oil, serve with the usual suspects.

Marinated Mushrooms – from “Vegan Finger Foods”

I am having lots of fun working my way through my new cookbook, “Vegan Finger Foods” by Celine Steen and Tamasin Noyes. Click back a bit on the blog to see their amazing (and unusual) Brewpub Cauliflower Dip.  As I wrote then, and repeat now, I can’t believe the strange combination of ingredients in that dip. Somehow they work!

The cookbook also has a great stuffing for jalapeno peppers. Again, unusual ingredients, but they come together beautifully. I have a freezer full of jalapenos from my bumper crop last summer, so it’s poppers, poppers, and more poppers around here. I imagine this beany-creamy-lemony stuffing would be good on a pizza as well ….. I’ll let you know.

Today I present the Marinated Mushrooms from “Vegan Finger Foods.” No unusual ingredients here: olive oil, lemon, herbs, vinegar. So incredibly simple and amazingly delicious. I liked that the ‘shrooms are fresh, and not cooked. Not only were these great as a finger food, they would be great on pasta, salads, or stuffed in a tortilla. 

Pumpkin French Toast - from "Vegan Brunch"

Seems like as soon as we flip the calendar to October, the world goes mad for pumpkin.  I fall for it every year. Once I made a pumpkin latte in my crock pot….totally yucky…there were pieces of canned pumpkin floating around in there. Not my style. I make a mean pumpkin pie and somewhere on this blog is a killer chocolate pumpkin torte, but usually, I lean away from the stuff (which is strange, cuz my pantry is full of cans of it.)

My worst experience with pumpkin was when I gifted some homemade pumpkin dog treats to my dog-loving friends. Within 3 days every single doggie cookie had gone rancid-moldy-green-stinky. A total humiliation and embarrassment!  How that happened, I have no clue. But I think my reputation as a great cook took a hit that day.

Last week I made this Pumpkin French Toast for brunch and even I must admit – it was heavenly. My photo does no justice to this beautiful breakfast. I made apple compote as a side dish and also served tempeh bacon. Delicious!

If you don’t know Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s work, well, you better get to the library or book store and check out her cookbooks. Her recipes are amazing! This recipe comes from Vegan Brunch. There’s also a Peanut Butter Waffle batter included in the book that is great.

Brewpub Cauliflower Dip

Serve this with dipping size Fritos Chips. By the way,
this is a double batch.

I feel as though I have turned a corner in my vegan adventure. Last week,  I hosted an entire vegan dinner party for 12 friends and nobody blinked an eye.  Appetizers were enjoyed, plates were licked clean and desserts were spectacular. (I made both Triple Lemon Cupcakes and Flourless Chocolate Tart.) I think maybe one person on the invitation list was ‘anti-vegetable,’ and probably a bit skeptical to eat at my table, but I noticed he ate his entire meal. Just goes to prove you must never underestimate anyone.

This was all that was left the next day. 

I also stepped up and served this unusual appetizer at my annual choir party open house. I say unusual because of the list of ingredients – I knew I HAD to try it! Not only was it great, people came back for seconds. I heard a few people call it the ‘Buffalo Chicken Dip’…… ha! Little did they know it was sauerkraut! This dip has all the elements of any other indulgent cheesy bar dip - except it's made with cashews, and oatmeal, and cauliflower, and celery. I told you the ingredient list was unusual! 

This recipe can be found in “Vegan Finger Foods” by Celine Steen and Tamasin Noyes. I actually WON a copy of this fun cookbook during the Vegan Month of Food. There are over 100 recipes included and I want to try at least 90 of them!

Autumn Harvest Acorn Squash

I've made this beautiful Autumn Harvest Acorn Squash a few times recently. It’s deceptively simple and very delicious. What makes it extra easy (and quick) is to pre-bake the squash in the microwave before popping it in the oven. These are special enough to go on any holiday table in any home (vegetarian or not!)  Is it too early to make your menu for Thanksgiving and Christmas 2015? If you’re like me, you’re always thinking of food and menus J

Here’s what you need:
Acorn squash
Slivered or sliced almonds
Dried cranberries or cherries (golden raisins would be good also)
Dried thyme
Store bought grain mixture (quinoa, brown rice, etc) I think the quality of your finished meal will depend on what type of grain mixture you choose. I used Earthly Choice Three Continent Blend (check it out here) and it was perfect

Here’s what you do:
Stab the squash with a sharp knife a few times and place in microwave oven for about 10 minutes. Be sure to check on it and maybe turn it over a few times.  Carefully cut the squash in half and remove the seeds and extra strands of stuff.

Saute lots of onions in a bit of olive oil. Add minced garlic at the end. Also add the dried cranberries and almonds. Cook the grain mixture according to the manufacturer’s directions. Mix grains and veg and spoon generously into the squash halves. (The amounts are all a guessing game, but plan on about ¾ C filling per squash)

Drizzle squash with olive oil and sprinkle dried thyme over the top. Bake at 350 until the squash is totally soft – about 45 minutes. 

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