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. 

Monday, December 23, 2013

Quinoa Butternut Squash Salad

1 butternut squash, peeled and diced
1 red onion, peeled and diced
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 cup quinoa
2 cups vegetable broth (or water)
2 cups chopped spinach
2/3 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup pecans

1 cup orange juice
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tablespoon honey
salt and pepper to taste

Put squash and onion in a large mixing bowl.  Toss with oil and season with salt and pepper.  Place on a large baking sheet and roast for 20 to 30 minutes at 400 degrees.

Meanwhile, combine quinoa and vegetable broth in sauce pan.  Bring to a boil and then lower heat to simmer.  Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

Combine cooled squash, onion and quinoa.  Combine in large bowl with spinach, cranberries and pecans.

In a mason jar, combine dressing ingredients and shake.  Pour on salad and mix well a few hours before serving.  (This is a salad best served at room temperature in my humble opinion.)

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Tomato Basil Soup

If you've had the Tomato Basil Soup that Bob Evans offers, this is a very-close vegetarian version (I'm pretty sure they put chicken broth in theirs).  It's so yummy and easy to fix for a quick weeknight meal.  I "stole" and modified a copycat recipe of the Bob Evans Tomato Basil Soup from here.  Here's my Tomato Basil Soup recipe:

1 onion, diced
1/2 stick butter or margarine
1/3 cup flour
2 Tablespoons Italian seasoning
1 can (or 2 cups) vegetable broth
1 small can tomato paste
2 large cans crushed tomatoes
1 teaspooon sugar (optional-cuts down the acidity a bit)
croutons (garnish)
shredded Italian cheese (garnish)

In Dutch-oven, cook onion in butter over medium heat until onion is tender.  Then, add flour and stir for about a minute.  Add in rest ingredients, stir well and let lower heat.  Allow to simmer for 30 minutes.  Serve with garnish of croutons and shredded cheese.  Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Cooking with Dried Beans

About a year ago, I made the switch to using dried beans instead of canned.  I made this change because dried beans are a bit cheaper and because BPA is used to line cans.  I always thought that using dried beans would mean more work and longer cooking times.  However, I found out (thanks to the wonders of the Internet) that you can use your crockpot to make beans and then freeze them!  Talk about easy!  So here's what I do:

1.  Grab a bag of dried beans
2.  Pour the beans into the crockpot.
3.  Pour water into the crockpot until there is about 2 to 3 inches of water over the beans.
4.  Cook on high for 6 hours.
5.  Drain and rinse beans.
6.  Put beans in freezer container and freeze.

Now whenever you need beans for a recipe, just take the beans out of the freezer and thaw in the microwave.  You an take out however much you need that day and then re-freeze the rest.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Chickpea Quinoa Soup

This soup is reminiscent of that good old chicken noodle (or Rice) soup we all grew up on.  We all had it for lunch on a snow day or our moms fixed it for us when we were feeling sick.  Before I became a vegetarian, I made chicken noodle soup all the time.  Since then, I have used and modified this recipe.  Currently it is sitting in my crockpot cooking up for Soup Sunday!  But the cool thing about this recipe is its versatility.  You can make it on the stovetop.  You can replace the quinoa for some sort of noodles.  You can use whatever veggies you have on hand.  It still turns out delicious.  Here's my Chickpea Quinoa Recipe:

1 onion, diced
1 Tablespoon powdered vegetable broth
4 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 teaspoon garlic powder
salt and pepper to taste
2 carrots, sliced
2 celery stalks, sliced
1 cup quinoa
2 cups chickpeas

If you have time, saute up the onion in a skillet.  If not, oh well!  No biggie :)  Just throw everything in the crockpot and stir.  Cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 6 hours.  Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Sonny Maye's Famous Apple Cake

About 10 years ago, my dad found a recipe for an apple cake in an old church cookbook from the 1960s.  He tweaked it and created a masterpiece!  This cake has been requested for birthdays and is famous in Charles Town.  (okay maybe not famous but...)  This cake is moist, delicious and all around goodness on a plate!  It's my dad's culinary legacy.  And I love that I can carry on the legacy and share this amazing cake with my friends!

4 cups diced raw apples
2 cups sugar
3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of nutmeg
2 eggs (or equivalent of egg replacer)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup oil

 Combine apples and sugar and let stand for one hour.  Mix dry ingredients together.  Beat eggs, oil and vanilla.  Mix half of the dry ingredients and all the apples.  Add oil and egg mixture and rest of dry ingredients.  Mix well by hand.  Pour into 9X13 pan and bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour.

1 cup brown sugar
1 stick margarine
1/4 cup milk (can use non-dairy or dairy milk)
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix all ingredients together in saucepan.  Cook over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes.   Pour over cake while hot.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Rainbow Skillet

Next to my Butternut Squash Soup, Rainbow Skillet is my favorite recipe to use some butternut squash from our garden.  It's a very easy and very yummy dish.  I made some modifications to this recipe from Taste of Home (seriously, how awesome are their recipes?!).  Here's my version:

1 medium butternut squash, peeled and chunked
1/4 cup melted butter
2 Tablespoons Splenda
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 bell peppers, diced into large chunks
1 medium onion, diced into large chunks
2 cups grape or cherry tomatoes

Place butternut squash chunks in large bowl.  Fill bowl with water and place in microwave.  Microwave squash until it is tender (about 12 minutes).  Meanwhile, saute peppers and onions in Dutch oven.  Add squash when it's finished in microwave.  Combine in small bowl melted butter, chili powder, salt, pepper and cinnamon and add to Dutch oven.  Heat through and add in tomatoes before serving.  Makes 4 to 6 servings.