Sunday, October 4, 2015

Easy Bean Soup

Growing up in West Virginia, everything had meat in it.  Green beans for a side:  put ham in for flavor.  Pancakes:  use a little bacon grease to oil up your skillet.  Vegetable soup:  add cubes of beef.  So, it's no wonder that as an adult vegetarian I try recreate these home cooked country style dished without meat.  The easiest has to be bean soup.  Traditionally, bean soup has at least a ham hock or bits of bacon in it.  But I discovered a way to "cheat" and make a bean soup that keeps that same flavor.  It really is a cheat because I use a bean soup mix that happens to have a "ham flavor" packet included that is accidentally vegetarian!  Several companies make this bean soup mix.  I just use whatever is at the store and check the ingredients list.  Throw it in a crockpot with a little salt, pepper and liquid smoke (for that extra ham-y flavor).  EASY!  Here's the low-down:

2 bags bean soup mix (get the ones with ham flavor packets included)
salt and pepper to taste
liquid smoke to taste (I generally use about a teaspoon)

Add bean soup mix, ham flavor packets, salt, pepper and liquid smoke to 5 quart crockpot.  Add water so that beans are covered with at least 3 inches of water (I fill up the crockpot almost to the top, leaving head room for the beans to expand).  Cook on high for 4 to 6 hours.  Using a blender or food processor, puree about 1/3 of the soup and add back to crockpot (this gives it that creamy, thick bean soup texture).  Cook on low for 1 to 2 hours.  Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Monday, September 7, 2015

Heirloom Tomato Tart

We planted 50 tomato plants in our garden this year.  50!  So needless to say we've been chowing down on tomatoes A LOT lately.  We grew 4 different types of heirloom tomatoes--Cherokee Purple, Peg's Round Orange, Mortgage Lifter and Mountain Princess.  They each have unique and different characteristics and absolutely none of them is anything close to a store bought tomato.  The flavors are amazing.  So I went online to find recipes or recipe ideas to utilize our bounty.  I ended up making tomato jam (which I should probably blog about) and this, Heirloom Tomato Tart.  This tart is like a grown-up pizza.  Here's the recipe:

1 whole wheat pizza crust (here's my recipe)
8 ounces ricotta
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup basil leaves, shredded and torn
4 to 6 heirloom tomatoes

Slice the tomatoes.  Salt and place on a cookie sheet lined with paper towels.  Leave sit for a few hours so the water is drawn out of the tomatoes.

Bake crust at 425 degrees for 10 minutes.  Then top with ricotta, mozzarella, basil and tomatoes (in that order).  Bake another 10 minutes.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Lentil Stuffed Pepper Soup

I once mentioned how we do Soup Sundays here at Joy Orchard Farm.  It is so easy to throw a soup together in the crockpot and eat on it for at least 2 meals.  So, here's another staple from Soup Sundays that I am throwing together today to use up some peppers from our garden!  It's such an easy meal:

1 cups dried lentils
1 cup brown rice or quinoa
5 bell peppers, diced
1 onion, diced
1 Tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
2 teaspoon minced garlic
4 cups vegetable broth or water
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup spaghetti sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Put everything in the crockpot and cook on low 6 to 8 hours.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Butternut Squash and Spinach Baked Ziti

Sometimes when you combine recipes, it creates a recipe for deliciousness!  I had found several recipes using butternut squash in lasagna and decided to take my own twist on things.  This was dinner tonight, and it was beyond amazing.

4 cups cubed butternut squash, roasted or boiled (you want to mash it)
1 block firm tofu
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 Tablespoon dried Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 can spinach, drained
1/2 jar spaghetti sauce
1 cup mozzarella cheese, plus more on top
salt, pepper to taste
12 ounce box pasta (ziti, penne or rottini), cooked (I used veggie penne)

Combine squash, tofu, nutritional yeast, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, spinach, spaghetti sauce and mozzarella in large bowl.  Stir in cooked pasta and place everything in a 9X13 baking dish.  Top with additional mozzarella.  Cover the dish with foil.  Bake 350 degrees for 45 minutes.  Remove foil and bake an additional 15 minutes.  Makes 8 servings.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Spinach Salad with Pears

I love making fabulous, good-for-you foods.  I also love being able to cook for family.  So, when I get to create amazing foods to share with family, I always feel so warm and happy.  This weekend Scott's family was up for Forest Festival.  They arrived Friday evening, and because I had the day off, I was blessed with time to create an awesome dinner and delicious dessert for Friday night.  Dinner was homemade pizzas using my 100% Whole Wheat Pizza Crust recipe, this Spinach Salad with Pears and chocolate bread pudding for dessert.  We had 4 different pizzas: a plain cheese pizza (for my 4 year old niece), a tofu-mushroom-ricotta pizza, a roasted broccoli and red onion pizza and a butternut squash-parsnip-leek-feta pizza.  I wanted a simple salad that could stand out next to these pizzas.  We were given pears from a friend down the road who has a beautiful little pear tree that's really producing right now.  So I thought a salad featuring these local pears would be awesome.  I found several different recipes online and pulled ideas from the all.  Here is what I came up with:

1/4 cup olive oil
4 Tablespoons gold balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon brown mustard
1 teaspoon salt
1 to 2 Tablespoons agave

Put ingredients in a mason jar.  Shake well.  If dressing tastes oily, add more water.  If you want it more tart, add more vinegar.  If you want it more sweet, add more agave.  It's a very flexible dressing recipe and can be made a day ahead of time.

12 ounce bag of baby spinach (you can also use a mix of baby spinach and baby kale)
1 thinly sliced red onion
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup pecans
3 firm, but ripe pears

Mix all ingredients in large salad bowl.  If making ahead, leave out pecans and pear until right before serving.  I prefer to serve this salad with dressing on the side so everything stays fresh and crisp.

Healthy Pumpkin Oat Muffins

Well, it's officially fall in Appalachia.  Up here that means gorgeously colored trees, Forest Festival and very unpredictable weather.  Yesterday in fact was Forest Festival Saturday and the weather was quite bizarre.  It was cold and windy and alternated between periods of beautiful blue sky with bright sun and miserable raininess.  At one point during the big parade, it sleeted!  But having family with us, enjoying the festival, made it a beautiful day, despite the crazy weather.

I love being able to cook for family.  I don't get to do it very often, so when I do, I try to go all out.  I was lucky to have a day off to prepare a wonderful dinner with fabulous dessert for when they arrived Friday night and make easy, grab-and-go breakfast items for us to munch on as we headed out early for all the festivities on Saturday.  Since most people associate fall with all things pumpkin spice, I wanted to make pumpkin muffins.  Hi, I'm Hilary and I am also a pumpkin spice addict.

I found this recipe on Taste of Home and modified it to make it healthier.  Just in general, the recipes from Taste of Home are fabulous and so was this one!  Scott declared it the best thing I've ever baked (which says a lot, because I am not a baker).  In fact, they were so good, that it was after we had eaten literally the last muffin, I thought about blogging the recipe and realized I hadn't taken a picture.  Oh well...

Muffin Mix:
1 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup maple syrup or brown sugar
1/4 cup Splenda or Stevia
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 heaping teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 flax egg (1 tablespoon flax meal mixed with 3 tablespoons water)
3/4 cup canned pumpkin
1/4 cup vanilla almond milk
1/4 cup applesauce
1 cup oats (I used quick oats, but you could use old fashioned ones)

Crumb Topping:
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 Tablespoon whole wheat flour
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1 Tablespoon butter

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In a large mixing bowl, combine the first 7 ingredients.  In a smaller mixing bowl, combine the wet ingredients.  Then, mix the wet into the dry until all is combined.  Then, add in the oats (adding them in last keeps them from getting soggy and lets them keep some of their texture).  Fill greased muffin cups 2/3 full with batter.  In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, flour and pumpkin pie spice and then cut in the butter until crumbly.  Sprinkle 1 rounded teaspoon full of the crumb topping on each muffin.  Then, bake for 15-20 minutes.

Makes 12 muffins.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Healthy Zucchini Muffins

I recently read a memoir about life in a rural small town in Wisconsin.  In the book, the author recounted how crime is very low in his little village and the only time that people need to lock their car doors is during zucchini season, otherwise they may return to find several large squash sitting on their seats.  Zucchini is one of those plants that is such a prolific producer that every gardener grows them as an insurance policy.  Even if your tomatoes failed this year, you got plenty of squash!  We chose not to grow zucchini this year because Scott is not a big fan of them.  But as gardening tends to go, I swapped some hot peppers for a large zucchini from a friend's garden.  I hunted online for a healthy zucchini bread/muffin recipe, found this one, modified it and baked these AMAZING muffins.  It's an easy recipe and you probably have zucchini hanging around, so take it for a spin!

1 2/3 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup stevia (you can use Splenda or sugar)
1 heaping teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 cups shredded zucchini
3/4 cups vanilla almond milk (you can use any kind of milk)
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons maple syrup (can use honey or agave)
1 egg 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Mix in rest of ingredients and pour batter into muffin tins.  Bake for 15 minutes.  Makes 12 muffins.