Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Quinoa-Broccoli Casserole

Broccoli Casserole is my absolute favorite holiday dish! When my husband and I were dating, I took it over to his parents' house for either Thanksgiving or Christmas.  My brother-in-law said how good and cheesy it was, and asked if I used Cheddar.  I said, "Actually it's Cheez Whiz."  All I could hear were GASPS from my future sisters-in-law! I totally had no idea there was anything wrong with Cheez Whiz. I grew up eating it in Broccoli Casserole at family gatherings.

Since then, I have found healthy ways of making it.  But, I was especially excited when I found this version of it, using Quinoa.  It is delicious! My husband and I scarfed it down!



I followed the recipe linked above, but here are some changes I made:
  • I used "Imagine" brand Creamy Broccoli soup instead of condensed Cream of Broccoli.  It's organic and comes in a carton.
  • I used vegan mayo.
  • I used almond milk instead of regular milk.
  • I left out the sugar. 
  • I didn't cook the broccoli.  I bought a box of frozen chopped broccoli and dumped it in with the hot cooked Quinoa. It cooks as the casserole is baking.
  • I did not put Parmesan on top.
Some changes I might make in the future:
  •  Possibly use vegan cheese.
  • Add a 1/4 cup of chopped onion and 1/4 cup of chopped celery.
  • Add crushed crackers on top.
I hope you'll give this a try! I love Quinoa and it's so easy to cook!
Check out some of the health benefits of Quinoa.

Jessica

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Product Review: Environne




Every time I'm in Trader Joe's, I see bottles of fruit and vegetable wash sitting in the produce section.  I think, "Hmmm...I should buy that, but it's $4.00.  I can use lemon juice."  But, I never do use lemon juice.  I just give my fruits and vegetables a rinse with water.

Well, today I saw the bottles of Environne Fruit and Vegetable Wash again, and decided to try it.  I bought a 16 oz. bottle for $4.00.  You mix one tablespoon of it with 4 cups of water, and that cleans up to 10 lbs. of produce. You just swish your produce around in the solution for 30 seconds and rinse.

As I was swishing my fruit around in the water, I could actually feel the waxiness change to the slightly bumpy natural feel of the fruit's skin. After I finished washing all of my fruits and vegetables, I realized that the clear solution I had been washing them in had become murky! I was shocked!  I called my husband in the kitchen, "Come look at this!"  I left the fruit on the counter to dry, and awhile later my husband said, "Wow, the fruit feels a lot different."

That really got me thinking about how much wax, pesticides, and chemicals we are putting into our bodies.  Definitely a wake-up call.  From now on, I will be taking the extra time to wash my produce.  No more rinsing with water.

I would love to know your thoughts on this! Do you use anything besides water to clean your produce?


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

No Chicken-n-Dumplins

Who needs chicken!? These vegetables and dumplins were to die for! My husband, who eats meat, said it's better without the chicken!

Little Miss Vegetarian readers are the best!  I asked for advice on how to thicken the "gravy" for the dumplins and I got an outpouring of responses! Thank you!

Many of you wanted the recipe, and I am more than happy to share it with you!  I really hope you like it as much as I do! It's completely free of animal products.


No Chicken-n-Dumplins

Ingredients:
  • 6 cups of Not-Chick'n broth (vegan)
    Note: These boullion cubes are made by "Edward & Sons" and you dissolve 3 cubes in 6 cups of water.
  • A heaping 1/4 cup of thinly sliced carrots
  • A heaping 1/4 cup of thinly sliced celery
  • 2-3 green onions sliced
  • 2 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening
  • salt and black pepper to taste
Instructions:
  • Boil the carrots, celery, onions, and Not-Chick'n cubes in 6 cups of water for about 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are cooked almost all the way through.
  • In a large bowl, add the flour, shortening, salt and pepper. Cut in the shortening with a pastry blender until it has a coarse consistency.
  • Ladle out about 1 1/4 cups of broth from your pot.  Let it sit in a bowl for a minute or two until it is no longer boiling.  
  • Add the broth to the flour and shortening mixture and mix gently with a spoon, until just incorporated.  You need to be REALLY careful to not over-mix it, or the dough will become dense.  You want it to be delicate.  Don't worry about all of the flour mixing in.  
  • Roll the dough out to about 1/4 inch thick.  Cut into strips or squares. I cut squares.
  • Drop your dough squares into the gently boiling broth.  If there is any flour left in your mixing bowl, just dump it right into the pot! Reduce heat and simmer for about 20-30 minutes, stirring pretty constantly.  You don't want anything burning on the bottom of the pot.  Your broth should get thick and gravy-like.
  • Ready to serve!  Serves about 4.


I have to admit that I snacked on some of the dough for the dumplins before I put them in the broth.  I couldn't resist!  That's the great thing about vegan cooking...you can do that!

Jessica

P.S. This is a pastry blender:

Photo from www.stockphotopro.com

Monday, July 16, 2012

Lasagna Al Dainty

These lasagna "muffins" are oh-so-cute. They're called muffins because they're baked in muffin cups and take on the shape of muffins.  But, my funny husband calls them "Lasagna Al Dainty." They are very delicate and charming, after all. ;)

I'll go through how I made them, step-by-step. I wish I had an exact recipe to give you, but I don't.  They're super easy to make!




Step 1: After boiling your WHOLE WHEAT (Come on guys, they're good for you!) lasagna noodles, use a round cookie cutter to cut 12 circles out of some your noodles.

Step 2: Place a lasagna circle in the bottom of each greased muffin cup.

Step 3. Cut lasagna noodles in half lengthwise, and make "cups" with your noodles by lining the inside of the muffin cups.

Step 4: Saute some frozen chopped broccoli, chopped zucchini, chopped onions, and chopped green peppers in olive oil.  I seasoned them VERY generously with Italian spices, salt, and pepper, in addition to chopped basil and oregano from my garden.


Step 5: Fill the lasagna cups, by alternately layering the marinara (pre-made in a jar), vegetables, little pieces off noodles, and mozzarella cheese.  You want your layers to end with a topping of cheese.

Step 6: Loosely cover your pan with aluminum foil, so your noodles don't burn. Bake on 350.  Once the cheese melts, take the aluminum foil off and let the cheese brown.

Step 7: Let cool for a few minutes in the pan before serving, so they don't fall apart.



I garnished with a little sprig of miniature basil.

You can always use a non-dairy cheese or no cheese at all (vegan). 

This is one of those meals where you can change the ingredients to make everybody happy!

Jessica

Friday, July 13, 2012

My Grocery Receipt

Friends and family are always asking me what I buy at the grocery store and how much I spend on groceries. A certain family member has even called me from the grocery store for ideas on what to buy. ;)

Photo credit: http://www.wellandgoodnyc.com

Well, here you go...I'm revealing my grocery shopping receipt!  This is pretty typical of what I buy (and spend) each week for two people.

Non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening (Spectrum brand) ...$5.29 (Kroger)

(4) 6 oz. soy yogurts (raspberry, peach, strawberry, blueberry)...$4.00 (Kroger)

Bag of frozen chopped broccoli...$1.00 (Kroger)

Bag of frozen cut okra...$1.69 (Kroger Note: most of the time I can get this for $1.00)

Sabre classic hummus...$3.50 (Kroger)

3 ears of yellow corn...$1.14 (Kroger)

Can of blackeyed peas (store brand)...$0.69 (Kroger)

Sprite melon...$1.00 (Kroger)

2 fugi apples...$1.99 (Kroger)

1 vine ripe tomato...$0.78 (Kroger)

3 bananas...$0.61 (Kroger)

Loaf of Nature's Pride whole wheat bread...$1.99 (Kroger)

Trader Joe's Multigrain O's Cereal...$2.99 (Trader Joe's)

1 liter of cold pressed olive oil...$5.49 (Trader Joe's)

Loaf sliced multigrain sourdough...$2.99 (Trader Joe's)

Reduced guilt wheat crackers...$1.99 (Trader Joe's)

Whole wheat flour tortillas...$2.29 (Trader Joe's)

Bagged Romaine lettuce...$1.99 (Trader Joe's)

2 lbs mini pearl tomatoes...$4.98 (Trader Joe's)

Small block of baby Chalet swiss cheese...$2.74 (Trader Joe's)

Jar of Kosher dill pickles...$2.29 (Trader Joe's)

Jar of Traditional marinara sauce...1.29 (Trader Joe's)

Box of multigrain waffles...$1.99 (Trader Joe's)

3 lbs of gold potatoes...$2.99 (Trader Joe's)

Seedless watermelon...$3.99 (Trader Joe's)

2 Hass avocados...$2.58 (Trader Joe's)

TOTAL 64.27 before tax

  • I plan my meals for the week and make a list based on what I need for those meals.
  • We eat leftovers for lunch. Sometimes a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or a tomato sandwich.
  • We snack on fruit, nuts, dark chocolate, and sometimes homemade cookies. I don't buy a lot of snack foods.
  • We drink tap water put through a filter in our Brita pitcher. I don't buy juices or drinks.
  • I spend more on certain items at Trader Joe's because it's important to me to buy food with the least amount of preservatives and additives, and organic when possible.
  • I occasionally buy organic, free-range chicken for my husband (which adds to the overall cost).
  • This particular week (above), I didn't need milk.  But, I do buy a half-gallon of organic milk for my husband.
  • I usually spend between $50-$75 per week for two people.
 I hope this feeds your curiosity! :)

Happy Shopping!
Jessica

Monday, July 2, 2012

Tomatoes, Okra, and Corn...Oh My!

I went to our farmers market this weekend for one reason, and one reason only: to get a great big tomato for a tomato sandwich!  It's officially summer when I have my first tomato sandwich.

As you can see, I picked up a few other things, as well. Corn, okra, peaches, plums, and a patty pan squash.








My husband and I made our first tomato sandwiches of the summer, and here they are!  We topped them off with some herbs from our little herb garden.  I chose the miniature basil leaves, and he chose fresh dill.




To make a tomato sandwich, all you have to do is toast bread, slather on some mayonnaise (I didn't have any vegan mayo, so I skipped it.), layer on your tomato slices, and sprinkle with lots of salt and pepper (and herbs, if you want).

This past weekend, I posted a picture on facebook of Succotash, that Little Miss Vegetarian reader, Jasmine, from Phoenix, shared. It looked so good, I had to try it myself!  So, I used a few more of my farmers market ingredients.


OUT. OF. THIS. WORLD.  

Jasmine said, "It sounds too simple to be as yummy as it is!"  She was right!  I will definitely be making this again. For those of you who missed it, here are Jasmine's easy instructions for making Succotash:

Put all of the ingredients (tomatoes, corn, and okra) in a saute pan with a pinch of salt. Cook at a gentle heat until the okra is cooked to your liking.

It really is as easy as that, and I hope you'll try it! Thanks, Jasmine!

Don't forget, if YOU have something you'd like me to share on the Little Miss Vegetarian facebook page, send a photo and your recipe to littlemissveg@yahoo.com. I can't wait to hear from you!

Jessica

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Double Choco Chunk Cookies

I know, this is the second cookie recipe I've posted in the last week.  I love cookies!  If you're a chocolate lover, you will love these Double Choco Chunk Cookies!

A few months ago, I was given a cookbook called, "The Allergen-Free Baker's Handbook."  It has become my favorite cookbook for baking.  It has 100 recipes and they're all vegan, meaning they don't contain animal products, such as milk, eggs, butter, etc.  I am asked often what it means to be vegetarian or vegan.  That's why I reiterate it in most of my posts.

So, here they are...Double Choco Chunk Cookies!  
They are so soft, rich, and chewy. It's almost like biting into brownies!


 Double Choco Chunk Cookies

 Makes 24 2-inch cookies
Recipe by Cybele Pascal


  • 1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 c. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. cream of tartar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt (I used sea salt.)
  • 1/3 c. canola oil
  • 1/3 c. rice milk
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 2/3 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 c. dairy-free chocolate chips (Make sure milkfat is not listed in the ingredients)

1. Preheat oven to 325. Spray two baking sheets.

2. Combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, cream of tartar, and salt. Mix thoroughly, being sure to work out any lumps in the cocoa powder. (I ended up sifting all of my dry ingredients.)

3. Mix the canola oil and rice milk for 30 seconds with an electric mixer on medium speed.  Add the vanilla and sugar.  Mix for 20 seconds more.

4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and mix on low speed.  Fold in the chocolate chips.

5. Scoop out the dough by heaping tablespoonfuls, roll into balls, and place on the baking sheet.

6. Bake for 12 minutes.  Do not overcook, as chocolate easily burns.

7. Let the cookies cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheets before transferring to a cooling rack.


They're good for breakfast too! I think I just told on myself. :)

Jessica