Tail Between My Legs Veggie Menu Monday

brenna1

Sorry for disappearing. Let’s just say too much money was spent and there was an eating out frenzy that’s made my budget look like the dog chewed it.

So here I go with the basics – menu planning. Over and over again it proves itself to be invaluable!

Fall is the perfect time to pull out the slow cooker if you haven’t used it in awhile. Take a look at a few of my favorites, and see if there are any you want to add to your menu plan this week.

I also recommend spinach salads for the week. Buying a large container of pre-washed baby spinach is a great investment. Not only does it keep longer than baby lettuce, when it’s at the end you can saute it, add to pasta sauces and even sneak some on sandwiches to add extra fiber and vitamins.

Monday: Minestrone and spinach salad (recipe near the bottom of linked post)

Tuesday: Refried Bean Tacos in blue corn shells with chorizo Spanish couscous over a romaine salad

Wednesday: Cauliflower curry potato curry with dahl over basmati brown rice and naan

Thursday: Grilled Pizza and salad

Friday: Pepper steak with steamed brown rice and wonton soup

Saturday: Chickenl-ess Parmigiano with vegan Cesar salad and garlic bread

Sunday: Clean out the fridge veggie soup made in the slow cooker and fresh bread recipe from sparkpeople

Pesto Anyone?

basilI have 3 kinds of basil this year Italian, lemon, and Thai all growing in my garden. Some are in the veggie bed and I have others in containers. If you have no space you can even grow some inside on a sunny window sill.

If you don’t have a garden you should be able to get locally grown basil at your farmers market, or local natural foods store at this time of the year. You can get fresh herbs in the winter, but they are expensive and they don’t taste as good to me.

Pesto is fragrant mixture of herbs and nuts ground into a thick paste with olive oil. And there are dozens of variations.

Traditional Basil Pesto

  • 2 cups basil leaves
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • ½ cup pine nuts
  • 1/4 – 1/2  cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (optional – add salt to taste if you are leaving out or use a vegan substitute)

Put basil, garlic, ¼ cup olive oil, nuts, and cheese if using into a food processor. Process the pesto using the pulse setting, so you can still have a few small chunks of nuts for texture. Add more oil if the mixture is too thick. Taste and add more garlic, salt, or cheese until you love what you have and can’t wait to eat it.

What to do with it?

  • Toss with pasta and top with fresh ground pepper
  • Spread on a pizza crust instead of red sauce
  • Put in mashed potatoes
  • Add into a soup (minestrone is great for this)
  • Mix into your scrambled tofu in the morning
  • Blend with silken tofu for a perfect dairy free dip

Ok, so I’ve sold you on trying to make pesto, but you don’t have any pine nuts? Or maybe your basil didn’t do so good this year. Now it’s time to get creative. First off you can substitute any nuts for the pine nuts. I used almonds in mine. Why not try pistachios or walnuts?

Use the recipe above for general proportions, but realize you will have to taste as you go even more since some herbs have a stronger taste than others. You’ll begin to notice how the oils of the bruised herbs smell mingled with the smell of the nut you chose.  And then you’ll know if you need to add more of another ingredient.

  • A few combinations to try:
  • Arugula (Rocket) and Pistachio
  • Oregano and Walnut
  • Sage with Pine nuts and a little lemon juice
  • Mint and Almond
  • Rosemary and hazelnut
  • Tarragon and no nuts at all

If you need more ideas take a look at this post on the gardenWeb herb forum.

Save your new creation for a winter surprise! Oil an ice cube tray and put your freshly made pesto into the slots. Once the cubes are frozen, remove them from the try and place into a freezer bag. Now in January they’ll be waiting to go into your steaming pot of minestrone!

Vegan Watermelon Gazpacho

watermelon_day_smNothing says summer has arrived like a chilled soup. When it’s so hot you’re sweating and the a/c is working as hard as it can, a chilled soup can make your whole day. Gazpacho is like a cool, liquid salad. It goes down easy, you don’t have to heat up the house to make it, and it cools you from the inside out. That’s my kind of hot weather dinner!

Watermelon Gazpacho

  • 3 cups watermelon chucks, seeded with rind removed
  • 2 cups heirloom tomato chunks
  • ½ cucumber (peeled if it is not organic or is waxed)
  • 1 small bell pepper (green is fine, but purple and yellow add a nice color)
  • 1 small hot pepper of your choice, seeded with the ribs removed, and chopped
  • 1 lime or lemon, juiced
  • ½ – 1 cup filtered water
  • 2 – 3 Tbs. olive oil (use less if you are cutting down on fat or calories)
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 2 Tbs. fresh basil (lemon or lime basil works great if you have some growing in your garden)
  • Big handful of fresh mint leaves only – no stems (orange or lime mint is perfect)
  • 2 Tbs. fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • Pepper to taste

If you hate hot foods you can leave this out completely or choose a mild variety like a banana pepper. If you like it hot I recommend the heirloom variety Bulgarian carrot pepper. Really any hot or mild pepper you like or just have lying around would work fine, but it needs to be fresh. Don’t forget to use gloves if it is an extremely hot variety so you don’t transfer the oil to your skin. It’s no fun to rub it in your eye!

Mince the cucumber, green pepper, basil, mint, and cilantro and set aside. Puree everything else in a blender or food processor until relatively smooth. Add in the minced veggies and herbs. Stir with a spoon to mix everything together.

(To make a smooth soup place everything but the cilantro in a blender or food processor, and puree the heck out of it. You will still have specks of tomato, cucumber, and green pepper skins to add a little texture and color. You can keep blending it until it is a smooth as you want it.)

Before serving take a final taste and decide if you need to adjust the salt and pepper, or add any more herbs or lime juice. Once it’s the way you like it, put it in the fridge to chill for an hour or so.

Garnish with the chopped cilantro, and a few sprigs of fresh mint. It will be a beautiful refreshing treat!

Blueberry Pecan Muffins with Stevia

My first try using stevia and it turned out pretty good. The muffins didn’t rise as much as I hoped, but they are really tasty!

Blueberry Pecan Muffins with Stevia

1 cup Rolled Oats
2 Tb. Flax Seed Meal (ground flax)
1 cup Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
1/2 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. stevia (taste the batter and add more if needed – but only an 1/8 of tsp. at a time.)
3 tsp. Baking Powder
1/2 tsp. Cinnamon, ground
1/4 tsp. Ginger, ground
3 Tbl. Egg white or 1 Egg, or substitute that equals 1 egg
3/4 cup Non-fat Milk, soy, rice, or almond
1/4 cup Applesauce, unsweetened
1 cup Blueberries
1/4 cups Pecans, chopped

Preheat oven to 375 and oil a 12 muffin tin. Mix all dry ingredients in one bowl. In another bowl mix egg white, milk, and applesauce. Add dry ingredients to wet, mix and add blueberries and pecans. Put in muffin tins and bake about 15 minutes.

My next experiment will be tonight. I’m thinking strawberries with almonds…

Nutrition Facts from http://recipes.sparkpeople.com

Stevia Blueberry Pecan Muffins
Serving Size: 1 serving
Amount Per Serving
Calories 101.3
Total Fat 3.1 g
Saturated Fat 0.4 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1.0 g
Monounsaturated Fat 1.3 g
Cholesterol 0.3 mg
Sodium 232.5 mg
Potassium 144.9 mg
Total Carbohydrate 20.3 g
Dietary Fiber 3.9 g
Sugars 1.8 g
Protein 3.8 g
Vitamin A 0.2 %
Vitamin B-12 1.0 %
Vitamin B-6 3.6 %
Vitamin C 1.1 %
Vitamin D 0.0 %
Vitamin E 2.2 %
Calcium 10.3 %
Copper 7.9 %
Folate 3.5 %
Iron 7.4 %
Magnesium 10.7 %
Manganese 60.6 %
Niacin 4.4 %
Pantothenic Acid 3.7 %
Phosphorus 15.2 %
Riboflavin 4.2 %
Selenium 10.8 %
Thiamin 11.4 %
Zinc 6.7 %
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Vegan Chickenless and Rice Soup

I’ve over extended myself this week, so we’ve been eating out a lot. So to make up for it, I have been eating soup for lunch everyday. So here’s another soup recipe.

This can be made in the slow cooker, but I did it stove top and it took less than 1 hour from start to finish. To make in the slow cooker, throw everything in the pot and cook for 8 – 10 hours. Adjust seasonings and add more water if needed before serving.

Vegan Chicken-less and Rice Soup

  • 1 Tbl olive oil
  • 1 15 oz. can white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups brown rice – pre-cooked (I used leftover rice I had)
  • 1/2 onion, minced
  • 1/2 cup bell pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 Tbl Better than Bouillon – chickenless flavor
  • 1/2 tsp. liquid smoke
  • a few dashes of Tabasco (garlic flavor if possible)
  • 1 tsp herbs de Provence
  • 1 Tbl Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp. thyme
  • pepper to taste
  • at least 6 cups filtered water – add more to get the soup as ‘soupy’ as you want

In a large pot heat olive oil over medium heat and add onion when hot. Saute until onion is translucent, then add garlic and bell pepper and saute for a few minutes.

Add water and dissolve bouillon paste, then add all seasonings, rice, and drained beans. Add more water if you need to, and adjust seasonings to taste.

Because of the bouillon you shouldn’t need to add any additional salt. If you use no broth or a low sodium you may need to add some salt.

Vegan Slow Cooker Picky Eater’s Soup

You know the drill, and I’m sure you’ve all heard the protests of “what’s that in my food?!” Picky little ones often grow up to be picky adults. And while I’m kid-less, I still hear about texture issues and fight the good veggie fight all the time. This one worked really good, she even asked to have it again.

This soup has green peppers, chickpeas, and butternut squash, but pureed it looks like plain old tomato soup – only with tons more flavor and nutrition. My picky eater loved it, but she didn’t see it before it was pureed. I would suggest not letting your picky eater see it either. Sometimes it’s better if they just don’t know.

Slow Cooker Picky Eater’s Soup

  • 2 cups butternut squash, can be precooked, frozen, or raw (peeled and seeded of course)
  • 1 14 oz can chickpeas
  • 1 14 oz can organic crushed tomatoes (diced or stewed works fine too)
  • 1 cups bell pepper strips
  • 1 cloves garlic
  • 1 Tbl. Better than Bouillon
  • 5 cups filtered water (or use veg broth and leave out the bouillon)
  • 1 Tbl. port wine (optional)
  • 1/2 cup sauteed mushrooms (optional – use any little bits of leftover veggies you have)
  • 1 tsp. marjoram
  • 1 Tbl. Trader Joe’s Pasta Seasoning Blend (it’s a mix of Onion, Garlic, Basil, Lemon Peel, Paprika, Fennel, Oregano, Black Pepper, Ginger, Thyme and Lemon Oil)
    or Italian seasoning blend

Throw everything in the slow cooker and cook on low 6 – 10 hours.  Puree with an immersion blender or in a food processor before serving. You may need to add more filtered water to get it to the consistency that you like. Serve with oyster crackers.

I keep little baggies of leftover veggies in the freezer. This soup is perfect to add those to, or the little bits in the fridge that aren’t enough for a proper side dish. Yummy and frugal – my dream has come true!

Slow Cooker Thursday

It’s slow cooker Thursday!
See other great recipes at Diary of a SAHM

Easy Vegan Vegetable Soup

I can feel another soup kick coming on. In fact, I ate 2 large bowls of this one just last night. Who knew that something so low calorie could make me so full, and taste this good?

Easy Vegan Vegetable Soup – about 10 servings

  • 1 Tbl. olive oil (or broth for sauteing)
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup bell pepper, chopped
  • 3 carrots, sliced
  • 1 parsnip, diced
  • 2 – 3 cups cabbage, diced (I used 1/2 small head)
  • 14 oz can Muir Glenn fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 heaping Tbl Better than Bouillon, vegetable flavor
  • 6 -8 cups filtered water
  • 1/2 tsp liquid smoke
  • dash or 2 of garlic Tabasco
  • 1 tsp. marjoram
  • 1 tsp. basil
  • 2 tsp. Cajun spices
  • black pepper to taste

Heat oil in soup pot, add onions and sautee until transparent over medium heat. Add garlic, bell pepper, carrot, and parsnip and saute a minute more.

Add water, bouillon, tomatoes, cabbage and then add all the seasonings. Cook over low heat until the cabbage and parsnip are tender, at least 30 minutes.

You could also make this in a slow cooker by throwing everything in and cooking for 8 – 10 hours. Adjust spices before serving, slow cooking always seems to need a seasoning boost at the end.

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