Archive for the ‘vegan’ Category

When Life Gives You Lemons – Makes Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

Thursday, March 16th, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hands down these are the muffins I get the most requests to make, and garner the most compliments. I can’t believe I never shared here. Sorry. Whether it’s a school function or a team snack. They work for all ages and diets.  I hate to say upfront that they’re vegan because then some may not want to try them. But they are. I can’t even tell you where I got the recipe. I found it online, printed it, and pasted it in my recipe notebook when my sister was just starting a vegan lifestyle. I made them for Easter brunch about 7 years ago and have been making them ever since. They check a lot of boxes for diets, but no they’re not gluten free. If you have a lemon tree, you can make these at a moments notice.

Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

Makes 12 muffins

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 5 teaspoons poppy seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup soy, almond or rice milk (I’ve been using Ripple)
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 375F. Lightly grease a muffin tin.

In a large mixing bowl, mix together flour, sugar, baking power, poppy seeds, and salt. Make a well in the center and add milk, lemon juice, zest and vanilla. Mix just until moistened.

Fill muffin cups 3/4 full and bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until muffins are lightly browned on top and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Transfer to cooling racks.

 

 

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Pickle Power

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016

pickle ingredients pickling

 

 

 

 

 

 

My family has been experimenting lately with pickling.  Pickling cucumbers, green beans and carrots.  It started because of our affection for banh mi sandwiches.  Somehow homemade pickles just taste better for these sandwiches.  Not too tart or spicy.  Plus I needed to find a reason to use all the old sauce and pickle jars I’ve collected.  This recipe makes 3 large (about 18 – 24 oz.) jars of pickled veggies.  I usually do one of each veggie.  They’ll last about a week in the refrigerator, but ours usually don’t last that long, between sandwich toppings and lunchbox additions.

 

When choosing cucumbers to pickle I like the small Persian or kirby cucumbers.  These have less seeds and a more mild flavor than garden or American slicing cucumbers. You can buy glass jars online or at the hardware store. Even better clean out glass sauce and pickle jars to recycle and make your own. These make great gifts too.   As long as they have a tight fitting lid, they’ll work well. Happy pickling!

Homemade Pickles

3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped

1 ½ cups distilled white vinegar

¼ cup sugar

4 teaspoons pickling or kosher salt

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

1 teaspoon coriander seeds

1 teaspoon peppercorns (black, pink or variety)

¾ teaspoon dill seeds

2 cups hot water

2 pounds (about 6) Persian cucumbers, quartered lengthwise (or combination carrots, green beans and cucumbers)

6 sprigs fresh dill

In a medium saucepan, bring 4 cups water to a boil, reduce the heat so the water simmers and add the garlic. Cook for 5 minutes. Add the vinegar, sugar and salt. Raise the heat and bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar and salt dissolves. Remove from the heat.

 

In 3 clear 1-quart jars, place two sprigs of dill. Divide the seeds and peppercorns between the jars. Using a slotted spoon, remove the garlic from the brine. Place a few cloves in each jar. Then pack the jars full of cucumbers. (You can also slip in some carrots, scallions or green beans, cauliflower and chilies). You want them to be tightly stuffed.

 

Bring the brine back to a boil. Remove from heat and carefully transfer liquid into a glass pitcher or large measuring cup with spout.  You may have to do in batches but this makes it easier to pour in jars.  Pour hot liquid over the vegetables to cover completely. Let cool, then screw on jar lids and refrigerate. The pickles will taste good in just a few hours, and even better after a day or two.

 

 

 

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Summer of Pop – Cool Popsicle Ideas and Recipe

Thursday, September 10th, 2015

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My kids are usually big on making ice cream in the summer.  We certainly did make and eat some.  However this year at our house it seems to be the popsicle which took center stage for recipe experimentation and overall cool treat winner.  My daughter and her friend Emily, even set up a popsicle stand after experimenting for 2 days with flavors.  Watermelon, mango and strawberry were big hits while peach, raspberry and pineapple not as sweet.  It was actually less about the flavor than the texture.  The girls’ popsicles were nothing but fruit.  No sugar or anything added.  Just take fresh fruit, blend in a blender and pour into a popsicle mold.  That’s it!  This also meant no one would worry about gluten, dairy or nut allergies.  There was discussion and tests about water and they figured our about dilution and flavor vs quantity.  There was also a discovery that fruit should be ripe.  Under ripe fruit meant bland popsicles.

 

You have to give them credit…spending all day blending and freezing (of to be patient) and sign making, they still wanted to then go out and sell.  Here’s where the tricky part came and the logistics of a popsicle stand vs other non frozen edibles.  We thought ahead and used popsicle sticks and straws for sticks so people wouldn’t have to give back the reusable popsicle tops (or I wouldn’t loose them).  We carefully loosened the popsicles, set them back in the trays and carefully placed them in an ice chest with ice packs.  But how long would this last?  Well when opening and closing an ice chest full of frozen popsicles on an 85 degree day at the park the answer is about 30 – 40 minutes before they turn to slush.  Thankfully Emily’s mom to the rescue with a stop at the store to pick up cups.  They then rebooted the popsicles to “new fruit slushies” and ventured to another park to sell. Certainly their popsicle stand wasn’t as big of a draw as their past bake and lemonade stand sales, but you never know what they’ll create next.

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Not over the love of popsicles (or our crazy 90 degree heat), I decided to use some left-over canned coconut milk and create my own popsicle as a surprise for my kids finishing the first week of school.  I made sushi for dinner and then these were the perfect dessert pop to finish the hot evening.  I was inspiredly by a coconut popsicle recipe from Don’t Waste The Crumbs .  I changed mine to all coconut milk (vs mix with cream), reduced the maple syrup, omitted the fresh coconut flakes (my kids wouldn’t have wanted the hairy texture) and increased the recipe for a bigger pop mold.  Next time I’ll check my chocolate stash before freezing as the use of chocolate fudge sauce didn’t give my popsicles the hard chocolate coating I was hoping for.  However there were no complaints.

Coconut Chocolate Popsicles

(makes 4, 3 oz. popsicles)

  • 12 oz light coconut milk
  • 4 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/2  tsp vanilla extract
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 3 oz dark chocolate for coating, less if drizzling
  • ½ tsp coconut oil
  • pinch of sea salt
INSTRUCTIONS
  1. Combine coconut, syrup and vanilla in a mixing bowl. Add a pinch of sea salt, or more to taste.
  2. Ladle or pour the mixture into popsicle molds and freeze for a few hours, or until set.
  3. Prepare the chocolate “shell” coating by melting chocolate and coconut oil in a small sauce pot over low heat, stirring constantly until just melted.  Or melt in the microwave for 15 second intervals, stirring between each. (This is where I used fudge sauce and although tasty it don’t set in the freezer).  Once melted, remove from heat immediately and stir in a pinch of salt.
  4. When pops are frozen, remove from molds and place on a cookie sheet or plate lined with wax paper. Place pops in the freezer.
  5. Removing one pop at a time, use a small ladle or spoon to drizzle or pour the chocolate over the pop. Quickly transfer the pop back to the lined board in the freezer. Can sprinkle with additional flaked coconut if desired.
  6. Repeat until all pops are coated and in the freezer to set.
  7. Store pops in freezer until ready to eat (cover if storing longer than a few hours).
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Vegan for Fun – Cookbook Review and Coconut Curry Recipe

Monday, September 8th, 2014

America may not, at least I didn’t,  know German celebrity chef and cookbook author Attila Hildmann.  He’s big in Europe and started the vegan trend with his bestsellers, Vegan for Fun and Vegan for Fit.  We, Americans will know him shortly as his books have now been translated and published in English.  Attila lost his father to a sudden heart attack due to malnutrition.   Attila was motivated and converted to a vegan diet and lost 77 lbs.  His book Vegan for Fun, Modern Vegetarian Cuisine shares his favorite recipes which shows his passion for health and fitness and also for taste.  In addition to his story and over 200 tasty vegetarian and vegan recipes, he gives great tips about vegetable substitutions, stocking a pantry, getting motivated to change your diet, how to shop at the grocery store and kitchen tools to make your life easier.

 

I’m always looking for more vegetarian ideas and this book is inspiring with lovely photographs as well.  There are many simple, tasty recipes for everything from sandwiches and pastas to salads and desserts.  Many do not even require having to buy added vegan ingredients, which I like.  I’ve also found these recipes are easy to convert for all diets and tastes.  I made the Vegetable Coconut Curry (recipe below) vegan for myself and daughter but also added chicken for my husband and son.   My daughter who usually thinks curries are too spicy, loved this one.  We also enjoyed the Spaghetti Bolannaise both as written with tofu and also with ground turkey.  The only drawback is this cookbook seems geared for a single or couple.  You have to check the servings andy sizes if you’re making for a family or larger group.  I make sure I double the ingredients on many of these recipes to feed my four.  My kids are looking forward to trying some of Attila’s desserts next.  Chocolate croissants anyone?

Vegetable Coconut Curry with Basmati Rice (pg 112. Vegan for Fun)

INGREDIENTS for 2 servings

¾ cup Basmati rice (150 g)

Sea salt

1 carrot1

1 ½ cups sugar snap peas (150 g)

1 red chili pepper

1 cup mung bean sprouts (80 g)

3 tablespoons canola oil

1–2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 onion

1 garlic clove

¹  ³–½ inch fresh ginger (1 cm)

1 teaspoon curry powder

1 cup coconut milk (250 mL)

1 teaspoon agave syrup

1/4 bunch cilantro

PREPARATION TIME: 30 minutes

Cook the Basmati rice according to the package instructions in lightly salted water. In the meantime, peel the carrot and cut into thin matchsticks. Wash the sugar snap peas and blanch in well-salted boiling water. Wash the chili pepper, remove the seeds, and cut into thin rings. Wash the mung bean sprouts and allow to drain. Heat 2 tablespoons canola oil in a skillet or wok and sauté the vegetables over high heat for 3 minutes. Add the soy sauce and remove from heat. For the sauce, peel and finely chop the onion, garlic, and ginger. Heat 1 tablespoon canola oil in a skil let; sauté the onions, garlic, and ginger with the curry powder for 2 minutes. Add the coconut milk and agave syrup. Cook for 2 more minutes and season with sea salt. Wash the cilantro, shake dry, finely chop the leaves, and fold into the rice. Arrange the rice on plates with the vegetables and sauce and serve.

 

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July WAS Ice Cream Month

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

Yes, July was National Ice Cream Month.   And yes, I know it’s August.  But that doesn’t mean ice cream season is over.  My family turned out the ceremonial first batch of homemade ice cream just after school got out in June.  Of course we always start with Mint Chip.  The real deal (see past blog) with real mint.  Not the fake colored, extract stuff.  This year we’ve also made a few new flavors, below.  When making ice cream remember to explain to your kids (and husband) it’s not a quick instant gratification process.  Be sure to read the recipe and see how much time (refrigerator, freezer, machine) you’ll need before you’re actually ready to scoop and enjoy.

 

Vegan Coconut Ice Cream

This was a huge surprise.  I received the Vegan Al Fresco Cookbook and went for this right away.  Overall I like this cookbook, and we love this ice cream.  The coconut oil gives this a great dense and creamy texture.  It has become my husband and daughter’s favorite flavor.  I even brought a batch to a friends’ for dinner and she served it with a homemade peach pie she had made.  It went together perfectly.

I made a few changes you’ll see noted below.  I don’t like the coconut texture so I didn’t add the shredded coconut.  I didn’t have the extract, so I didn’t use that either.  There’s still debate about confectioner’s sugar and whether it’s a “vegan” ingredient.  If you’re concerned buy the vegan brand.  (I explained “bone char” in an earlier post.)  And I didn’t see the need to buy arrowroot when I had cornstarch in my pantry.

Coconut Ice Cream from Vegan Al Fresco by Carla Kelly

Makes 4 cups

2 14 oz. cans full-fat coconut milk

3 tablespoons melted coconut oil

3/4 cup confectioner’s sugar

2 tablespoons arrowroot powder – I substituted cornstarch

1/2 teaspoon coconut extract (optional) – I didn’t use

1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut (optional) – I didin’t use

Place 1 can of coconut milk in refrigerator overnight (to speed this up I put in the freezer for 2 hours).  Open can – do not shake – and scoop off 1/2 cup cream from surface.

In a blender, process coconut cream with contents of second can of coconut milk, melted oil, sugars, arrowroot and extract until creamy and smooth.

Transfer blender jar to refrigerator to chill overnight.  Stir in shredded coconut if using, and mix to distribute evenly.

In an ice cream machine, process mixture for 30 minutes, or according to machine instructions, until aerated and cooled.

 

Lemon Sorbet

My daughter requested this when she started her orthodontist expander.  I was happy to oblige.  Especially after realizing I already have the ingredients on hand.  Ice cream requires a trip to the store for cream and whole milk.  Sorbet is simple.  The recipe I used came with my ice cream maker.  I even had simple syrup in the fridge left over from making lemonade.  Next time I need to read the recipe more thoroughly as the one I used made a small quantity (maybe a pint vs our usual quart).

Lemon Sorbet from Allrecipes.scom

Ingredients

Original recipe makes 6 servings
  • 1 lemon’s peel, finely diced
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup carbonated mineral water
  • 6 strips of lemon zest, for garnish

Pina Colada Sorbet 

This was almost a merge of flavors from the coconut and the lemon.  It was bright and refreshing and we ate it with my daughter’s birthday cake.  Seemed very tropical as we enjoyed it during the Fifa World Cup in Brazil.

Pina Colada Sorbet from MyRecipes.com

Ingredients

  • 3 cups cubed fresh pineapple
  • 1 cup coconut water $
  • 1/2 cup sugar $
  • 1 cup light coconut milk
  • 2/3 cup cream of coconut

Preparation

  1. 1. Place first 3 ingredients in a blender, and process until smooth and sugar dissolves. Combine pureed pineapple mixture, coconut milk, and cream of coconut in a bowl; stir with a whisk. Cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled.
  2. 2. Pour mixture into the freezer can of an ice-cream freezer, and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Spoon sorbet into a freezer-safe container; cover and freeze for 2 hours or until firm.

 

My son just asked what flavor is up next.  My daughter and husband said coconut.  But he wants something new.  Stay tuned…

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Coconut Water Taste Test – Fresh and Fun, or Canned?

Friday, July 18th, 2014

My kids love to open coconuts.  Last year (see post) it was on their list of top 5 summer activities.  However we  never seem to actually eat or drink much of it.  This time was different.  Because of all the coconut waters and juices on the market we decided to do a taste comparison.  Does the coconut milk from the actual coconut taste like the kind in the can?  We also needed to learn the difference between coconut milk, coconut juice and coconut water.

 

Coconut milk is easy.  It’s the stuff you cook with.  Think Indian food.  It’s the liquid and meat that comes from the brown coconut.  It’s pulverized and put in a can.  It can be light fat or full fat.  More of the solids and fats move to the top of the can so depending on your recipe you may spoon the creme off the top, use just the milky liquid or use it all.

 

But what’s the difference between coconut juice and coconut water?  Both coconut water and juice is the clear liquid in young green coconuts.  Seems the difference is the marketing.  The juice may have other additives (although I bought one that didn’t) and the water does not.  They may sometimes have pulp at the bottom of the can/bottle.

 

My kids were split on what they like.  No surprise there.  My daughter didn’t like that the juice from the actual coconut was still cloudy after straining.  My son thought is tasted more like coconut and the canned tasted like vanilla.  I, to liked the stuff right out of the coconut, but best after being refrigerated.  However everyone agreed it was lots more fun to break open the actual coconut vs opening a can.

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Happy Birthday and National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day!

Thursday, March 27th, 2014

I always like to bake something to send to Poppa for his birthday.  How many golf hats and shirts can you have?  Although we did that too – sshhh.  When I realized today was Chocolate Chip Cookie Day (no it’s not on my calendar, another blogger informed me) I figured that was the start.  Trying something different I was inspired by a vegan chocolate mint cookie recipe.  I made some tweaks to reduce oil, omit nuts and amp chocolate and here’s what I came up with.  I had to pack them quickly and remind my kids they were (mostly) for Poppa.

Oatmeal Chocolate Mint Cookies

The mint and spices make set these apart from the same old chocolate chip cookie recipe.  They have a scone or cake like texture because of the lack of butter and addition of applesauce.  These can be made vegan by choosing dark or vegan labeled chocolate chips.

Makes about 24 cookies

2 cups flour

1  1/2 cups chocolate chips

3/4 cups rolled oats

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon cinnamon

pinch ground nutmeg

2/3 cup maple syrup

1/2 cup applesauce

3 tablespoon canola oil

2 tablespoons water

1 teaspoon peppermint extract

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Place dry ingredients, first six listed, in a large bowl and mix together.

Combine wet ingredients in a medium bowl.

Add wet to dry ingredients and mix well with a rubber spatula.

Refrigerate dough for 15 minutes.  Drop dough on prepared sheets by heaping tablespoon or small ice cream/cookie scoop.  Gently press with spatula.  Cookies will spread so leave room between.

Bake until golden brown on bottom, about 12 minutes.  Let cool on sheets.

 

 

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Vegan Desserts in Jars – Cookbook Review and Pumpkin Cream Brûlée Recipe

Thursday, December 5th, 2013

A few weeks before Thanksgiving I received the cookbook, Vegan Desserts in Jars, Adorably Delicious Pies, Cakes, Puddings and Much More by Kris Holechek Peters.  I was very excited flipping through the book since we would be going to my parents for Thanksgiving dinner, sharing dinner with my sister and brother in law (the vegans) and in charge of making dessert.

 

I realized the best thing about this book is inspiration for making dessert to go.  I know the jars are trendy in some restaurants however they are quite practical.  Since we had quite a drive for Thanksgiving, a pie may not have traveled as well, however these little jars with lids on were super easy to transport.  I’m going to keep this in mind for other potluck and school occasions.

 

The other thing I like about desserts in jars is the individual servings.  There is no bickering between my kids about the size of the slice or dollop or dessert.  Your jar is your jar.  You can experiment too with various size jars and vessels. Though many of the recipes are for 4 oz. canning jars which means you can reuse and try a variety of individual pies, cakes and puddings.  Canning jars can be found easily online and even at the hardware store.  Mine are from The Container Store which has a variety of styles and sizes in stock now for the holiday.  There is a section of the book that talks about jars and options.

 

I skipped the brûlée part mostly because there were so many things vying for space in my mom’s ovens.  So we made the suggested coconut cream.  I’ll be using that for all kinds of dessert toppings (or eat right out of the bowl).  I must warn you my sister, the vegan did not eat the pumpkin brûlées and that’s because she doesn’t like pumpkin pie and the consistency.  I somehow forgot.  However everyone else loved them.  My mom seemed disappointed at first because there was no traditional pie.  However we bought one from the Whole Foods bakery last minute to please the traditionalists and non traditionalists.  However it seemed the brûlées went faster.  Even though I’m not expecting any vegan guests, I’m already flipping through to see what to make for the next holiday dinner,…perhaps S’mores in a Jar or Rustic Rhubarb Cakes or Raw Pecan Pie or all of them!

Book Review:

Pros: variety of flavors and textures from pies, to breads, to custards etc.  Most of them are quick to make and convenient to transport. Great for vegans as well as those with dairy allergies.

Cons: powdered sugar wasn’t specified as “vegan”, which many vegans do not eat (see blog about bone char) . May have to invest in canning jars.

Pumpkin Crème Brûlée (page 74, Vegan Desserts in Jars)

Creamy, spiced pumpkin with a crisp sugar crust is as elegant as it is comforting.

Ingredients

¾ cup non-dairy milk of choice

½ cup raw cashews

¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons evaporated cane sugar, divided

1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie mix)

¼ cup maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

1∕8 teaspoon salt

Makes 6 crème brûlées

Directions

Set aside six 4-ounce canning jars.

In a small bowl, combine the milk and cashews. Let them soak for about 30 minutes. Place the milk and cashews in a food processor or blender container. Purée until creamy. Add ½ cup of the sugar and the remaining ingredients, and blend until creamy, scraping down the sides as needed, about 2 minutes.

Pour the pumpkin mixture into a saucepan over medium heat, stirring often, until it begins to bubble and thicken, about 5 minutes. Fill each jar to just under the brim, leaving about ¼ inch of space. Refrigerate the jars until ready the serve.

Just before serving, sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the remaining sugar over the top of each jar. There are two options for brûléeing the desserts: using a propane brûlée torch or by broiling the tops of the desserts. If using a torch, follow the manufacturer’s instructions. If broiling, place the jars on a rimmed baking sheet and turn the broiler on high. Place the jars under the broiler, with about 2 inches of space between the jars and the element. Keeping a watchful eye (the sugar burns quickly), heat the jars until the sugar caramelizes and becomes brown, 30 seconds to 2 minutes, depending on the heat intensity.

Note: Don’t feel like messing with the brûlée part of crème brûlée? This recipe is just as delicious as a lovely custard. Dollop some Coconut Whipped Cream (page 111) on top and call it good.

Coconut Whipped Cream (page 111)

This coconut whipped cream is deceptively simple and will change your life.Be sure that you use good old canned coconut milk, rather than the boxed coconut milk beverage, so the fat content is correct.

Ingredients

1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk (not low-fat)

½ teaspoon vanilla extract

¼ to ½ cup powdered sugar, sifted

Makes 2 cups

Directions

Refrigerate the coconut milk for at least 3 hours, overnight if possible. Open the can and scoop out only the hard, white coconut cream, leaving the watery part in the can. Place the coconut cream in a large bowl. Add the vanilla and ¼ cup powdered sugar. Using a stand mixer or electric hand mixer, whip the cream until fluffy. Add more powdered sugar, if necessary, to your desired sweetness.

Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before using. Store the coconut cream covered, in the fridge, for up to 4 days.

 

 

 

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We Adopted a Turkey! Hooray for Martha!

Tuesday, November 26th, 2013

This is a conflicted time for our family.  My daughter being a vegetarian and my sister and brother in law, the vegans, don’t want to think about turkeys being slaughtered for Thanksgiving.  My parents will have a turkey.  How the bird gets cooked and carved is for the carnivores in the family only.  In an effort to off-set the killing of many turkeys our family has decided to help save one.  Really it’s about donating money to help care for a turkey that has been rescued from a factory farm.  There are many such animals at Farm Sanctuary, a rescue in New York, Northern and Southern California.   A visit to the sanctuary in Los Angeles led to my daughter’s vegetarianism a few years back.  Where she learned “Animals are Friends, No Food”.

So my daughter choose this adorable turkey, named Martha to adopt.  When I told my family about the adoption campaign at the dinner table (we were eating something vegetarian) both my kids were excited.  My son, the carnivore, said he’d even pay the $30 fee.  My daughter was let down at first when she realized adopting the turkey meant in name only and it wasn’t coming to live with us as a pet.  Next, she had to think about putting her own money in to contribute to Martha’s care, which I said was the deal.  However she came around and there was a $5 per child share with mom and dad picking up the last $20.  It seemed fair.  My daughter was so excited that she called and told her grandmother who adopted another turkey, Minerva while they were on the phone together.  I wish my daughter would use those sales skills when it’s time to fundraise for her school.  She hasn’t put it together that her grandma rescued Minerva but will be buying another bird, a dead one to eat.

We’ll see what happens…..That’s what makes holidays interesting.

 

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Herbed Garlic Polenta Fries – I Heart Trader Joe’s Vegetarian Cookbook

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

Sometimes I heart Trader Joe’s and sometime I do not.  This week I was not happy as TJ’s discontinued my kids’ favorite spicy spinach pizzas.  These were pizza bread rounds with a spicy cooked spinach on top.  They were great to dress up with cheese or wrap around veggies or just toast and eat plain for a quick lunch or snack.  Well they’re gone and I’m bitter.

However I do heart their vegetarian cookbook.  This is great for quick meals using their products.  Everything from breakfast items such as Pineapple Upside Down Pancakes (made quick by using their precut pineapple), to creating hearty dinners including a Classic Pot Pie (using their artisian puff pastry).  The recipes use Trader Joe’s products as short cuts however you can use your own ingredients just as well.  Not only are the ingredients bent towards a plant based vegetarian and vegan items but also are touted as budget conscious.  Who doesn’t heart that?

My family’s new favorite side dish is the Herbed Garlic Polenta Fries.  Next time I’ll try some different herbs such as sage and rosemary salt.  They were good in a quick aioli I whipped up using Veganaise, lemon zest, garlic and olive oil.  They could also be dipped in tomato sauce, pesto or catsup.

 

Herbed Garlic Polenta Fries

(page 46 from I Love Trader Joe’s Vegetarian Cookbook)

1, 18 ounce log Trader Joe’s Organic Polenta (find near pasta)

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons garlic powder

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Preheat the oven to 400F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Prepare the polenta slices by cutting into 1/4 inch discs, then strips (about 3 – 4 strips per disc).  In a small bowl whisk the olive oil, garlic powder and oregano to combine.  *Gently toss the polenta with the olive oil mixture and spread in an even layer on the prepared pan.  Sprinkle with salt.  Bake until slightly browned and crispy on the edges, 35 to 40 minutes, flipping halfway through.  Serve the fries warm with aioli.

Makes 4 servings.

*I found it easier to lay out polenta strips and use a brush to coat the oil and herbs.

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