Saturday, December 3, 2016

VEGETARIAN SHEPHERD'S PIE

This recipe is a remake of the traditional shepherd's pie but uses kidney beans instead of ground beef. It uses cheese but could be made using vegan cheese or nutritional yeast. I liked using kidney beans as the bean base as they are a larger hearty bean and I think better suited to this dish than using black beans or chick peas. The shepherd's pie turned out well and it was enjoyable.  I also like mashed potatoes which goes well with everything. Well almost everything.  I haven't tried mashed potatoes and chocolate but I have tried chocolate potato chips which I liked.

Carrots and celery added to the bottom of the casserole dish. 

The kidney bean mixture is layered over the carrots and celery.

Mashed potatoes and shredded cheese provide the top layer. 

INGREDIENTS:
1 onion, chopped            
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup chopped walnuts or almonds            
19 oz can kidney beans, drain and rinse
1 small can tomato paste            
1 tsp Worcestershire
1 tsp soy sauce            
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 tsp herbes de provence or add marjoram and dried basil or use fresh thyme and basil
1 cup water
2 cups diced celery            
2 cups diced carrots
5 medium potatoes            
½ cup milk
½ cup shredded cheese            
Parmesan cheese to cover top

DIRECTIONS:

1. Peel, cut small & cook potatoes; drain & mash with the ½ cup milk and ¼ cup of the cheese.

2. Sauté in olive oil, the onion, garlic and walnuts for 5 minutes; add kidney beans, tomato paste, water, Worcestershire, soy sauce and herbs.  Bring to boil then simmer for 20 minutes.

3. Microwave carrots and celery in small amount water until almost cooked, drain & put in bottom of a sprayed casserole dish.  I used a large Corel casserole dish.

4. Top with the hot bean mixture.

5. Spread hot mashed potatoes over top; sprinkle with shredded cheese then Parmesan.

6. Bake @ 350°F until bubbly (about 30 minutes)  Serves 6.


Saturday, November 19, 2016

MAUREEN'S BIG BATCH CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES

In the 1980's a friend gave me this recipe for chocolate chip cookies.  Both of us were in school and baking big batches of cookies and other recipes made it more convenient between studying, going to classes and looking after yourself.  I haven't made this recipe in years and it still tastes as good when I made them today.  

I followed the original recipe except that I used Splenda in place of the white sugar.  I did not add the peanut butter.  I also decided to experiment and use mini tart baking shells instead of making all of them in the traditional cookie shape.  I wanted to make small cookies that would be easy to freeze and also easy to transport to share at work and with friends.  I like the smaller size as they are about 3 bites.  Using the mini tarts baking shells, I made 8 dozen and I also made about 17 cookies in the traditional way.  I used a teaspoon of batter, not heaping, in the mini tart shells.  The cookies were enjoyed by the DH.

I used my large bowl KitchenAid  to mix the batter.

Adding the chocolate chips as the last step.

I flattened the batter in the mini tart baking shells. Ready for the oven.

Cooling down before I remove them to place on wire racks.

The cookies taste as good as they look.
INGREDIENTS:

2 cups crisco or other shortening
2 cups brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 tsp vanilla
3 eggs
4 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp salt
12 ounces chocolate chips

1/2 cup peanut butter (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

Heat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a large bowl or mixmaster, cream together the shortening, brown and white sugar and vanilla.  Add the eggs.  Mix well.  Add the flour, baking soda and salt to the mixture and combine.  Add the chocolate chips and peanut.  

Using a generous teaspoon, place spoonfuls of the batter on a large cookie sheet, flatten with a fork and bake for 8 to 10 minutes.  Provide some space between each cookie as they do spread.  Makes between 9 to 10 dozen cookies. 



Saturday, November 5, 2016

EGGPLANT VEGETABLE CASSEROLE

Having bought two eggplants, the purple globe variety, I was thinking about various recipes that incorporate eggplant.  I wanted to make a main entree   versus an appetizer or a spread like baba ghanoush. 


After reviewing a number of cookbooks and recipes collected over time, I thought about making stuffed eggplant. I have made this dish over the years from one of my first vegetarian cookbooks that I bought, the Vegetarian Epicure. In making stuffed eggplant, you are limited to how many vegetables you can sauté because the vegetable eggplant mixture has to be put back into the shell of the eggplant that was cut in half lengthwise. The stuffed eggplant is then baked with a coating of bread crumbs or a mixture of wheat germ, shredded cheese and milk to make a finishing paste. My intention was to make this as the entree for supper.  

I did come across one recipe from Forks Over Knives cookbook for stuffed eggplant that also included brown basmati rice. I proceeded to make rice in the rice cooker.


While cutting and chopping and looking at the vegetables that I wanted to include I thought about not trying to stuff everything back into the shell of the eggplant and instead make a casserole. 


I used a large frying pan for all of the vegetables I added: onion, garlic, celery, green beans, eggplant, spinach, tomato and mushrooms. This amount would have been far too much to add to four eggplant shells. I combined the vegetables with the cooked rice and placed it into a large baking dish. 


I added some feta cheese and nutritional yeast on the top of the casserole and baked it for 30 minutes. When serving it, I added a bit of shredded gouda cheese to the individual dishes to make it cheesier. Both myself and the DH liked the casserole.  

Just out of the oven.
INGREDIENTS:

1 cup of uncooked brown basmati rice
1 tbsp oil
2 medium size eggplants, peeled and cubed
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 stalks of celery, chopped
4 mushrooms, chopped
handful of fresh green beans, chopped
2 handfuls of fresh spinach, coarsely chopped 
2 tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

cheese for topping, e.g. feta or nutritional yeast

DIRECTIONS:

Cook the rice per the directions on the package.  I used a rice cooker to cook the rice.

Heat the oil on medium high heat in a large frying pan. Add the onions and garlic, reduce the heat to medium and sauté for five minutes. Make sure to not over brown the onions and garlic. You can reduce the heat to medium low. Add the eggplant, celery, mushrooms and green beans and place a cover on the frying pan. Sauté for five minutes and stir occasionally. If the vegetables are sticking, add some water to the pan. Add the spinach and tomatoes and continue to cook for a few more minutes with the lid still on. Add the cilantro and salt and pepper to taste. Turn the heat off and add the cooked rice to the pan.  Combine well.  Place into an oiled large baking dish, sprinkle cheese on top and bake in the oven for 30 minutes at 350 degrees F.  Serves 4 to 6. If you are serving it as an entree it will be closer to 4 portions. 



Saturday, October 15, 2016

LIME CORNMEAL CAKE


For years I have read the food columns that Mark Bittman has written in the New York Times, have many of his cookbooks and VB6 books. I have written about him in previous posts. His latest cookbook is 'How to bake everything'.  It has just been published. I don't have a copy yet but I have been reading his blog with the new recipes. One recently posted caught my attention, lemon cornmeal cake. You can substitute ingredients and it is a quick cake to make.  The main ingredients are eggs, butter, sugar, flour, cornmeal, lemon juice and zest. It includes ricotta cheese but if you don't have ricotta you can use buttermilk instead.  You can also add blueberries, slivered almonds or other fruit or nuts.  

I didn't have lemons in the fridge but had limes that needed to be used. So instead of adding lemon juice and lemon zest, I used lime zest and fresh lime juice.  I also added half a cup of frozen cranberries.  The recipe uses 1.5 sticks of butter.  I pondered about using butter or coconut oil and did use butter.  One and half sticks of butter equals three quarters of a cup of butter.  The recipe uses one cup of sugar and instead I used half a cup of splenda.  My concession to making the recipe lower in calories and sugar. 

The cake was delicious and it will be one to make on a frequent basis. 

Batter in springform pan and ready to go into the oven.

Out of the oven and onto a serving plate.




Here is the link to Mark Bittman's blog site for the ingredients and directions to make this cake - 
Mark Bittman's recipe for lemon cornmeal cake.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

DOG COOKIES


A colleague at work recently provided me with a recipe for dog cookies.  It is very simple to make.  It is based on tuna for protein and flavouring.  When I first read the ingredient list I thought these dog cookies could easily become savoury crackers.  I didn't use the best quality tuna in that I used light solid tuna in water.  I made likely 5 dozen cookies as I rolled them out thinly.  Both the dog and I like these cookies.  I did some sampling along with the dog after they came out of the oven.  We both thoroughly enjoyed them.  For the next batch that I make, I might half the ingredients and make less cookies.  If I was making them as savoury crackers, I would add herbs and roll them out very thinly.

Cooling off on the baking sheets.

In a storage container that is kept in the fridge. 

INGREDIENTS:

1 - 8 oz tin tuna in water, drained
2 cups cornmeal
2 cups flour
3/4 cup water
2/3 cup oil
1/2 tsp salt
DIRECTIONS:

Using a mix master or food processor, add all of the ingredients into the bowl and mix on a slow speed for several minutes. If it is too dry or not binding, add a little bit of water and continuing mixing for another minute.  The mixture should resemble dough.  Roll out in the cookie pan to 1/4 or 1/2 inch thickness.  Score the dough into rectangular squares.  Bake at 350 degrees F for 20 to 25 minutes.  Let cool in the pan.  Makes at least 3 dozen cookies.  Store them in the fridge. 

Sunday, September 25, 2016

BLACK BEAN AND CHICK PEA SALAD

I was thinking about what to make for lunches this week.  I had my mind set on making pureed squash soup with carrots, apple and ginger.  But I came across a recipe that someone had posted on Instagram with a link to the blog site simple veganistic.  The recipe looked very interesting and it was made to resemble a balela salad sold at Trader Joe's.  I didn't have all of the ingredients listed on the blog including fresh mint or a spice called sumac.  I decided to improvise and added more vegetables, used less beans, used less olive oil and added cumin.  It is a wonderful salad and thanks to simple veganistic for figuring out the salad that Trader Joe's sells.  Maybe next week I will make squash soup.  I plan to add this bean salad to a bed of chopped lettuce to have for lunches this week.  This bean salad should keep for four or five days in the fridge but I think it will be consumed much quicker than that. 




INGREDIENTS:

1 can (540 ml) of chick peas
1 can (540 ml) of black beans 
2 mini cucumbers, diced
1 small red onion, diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
1 coloured pepper, diced
2 tomatoes, seeded and diced
large handful of fresh parsley, chopped
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic. minced
1 tsp cumin
salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Mix the beans and vegetables in a large mixing bowl.  In a separate small bowl, mix the lemon juice, oil, garlic and cumin.  Add to the salad.  Season with salt and pepper.  Makes about 6 one cup servings. 

Saturday, September 17, 2016

TOMATO JAM

Several years ago I made a tomato pate using small cherry tomatoes.  I used it as an appetizer and made enough that I would be taking it to friends' homes when invited over for a meal.  I had been thinking about making this pate again as the recent tomato haul from the garden was pretty good.  There are lots of tomatoes to use and to just freeze them doesn't help me as there are still frozen tomatoes in the freezer from last summer.  Recently a friend posted a recipe on facebook for tomato jam that she had just made.  She thought it was great.  This recipe is a bit different than the one I made several years ago.  I thought I would try it as variety is always good.  The original recipe called for 3/4 of a cup of sugar but I thought that would be too much so I decreased the quantity.  I also used only 1/2 tsp of red pepper flakes instead of a full teaspoon.  I don't always seed tomatoes when using in recipes but I did seed these and it does make a difference especially as the tomatoes are cooked down and you don't want to a concentration of tomato seeds.  For the tomato pate recipe that I made several years ago, the cherry tomatoes were not seeded (that would have been a futile exercise seeding small cherry tomatoes) and I found it to a very dense seedy pate.

What do you use tomato jam for?  Tomato jam can be used in place of ketchup, on a cracker with cheese, as an ingredient in salad dressing, in a grilled cheese sandwich or used as the sauce in a pizza.

To cook the jam, I used a Staub cast iron cooking pot.  Le Creuset or other heavy cooking pots would also work to cook this jam for several hours and not worry about it sticking to the bottom of the pot.  The jam is very good and the red pepper flakes add enough zip to make it more of a bolder taste.

Jam starting to cook for the next few hours.

INGREDIENTS:

1/3  cup sugar
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup water
10 cups of ripe tomatoes, skinned, seeded, coarsely chopped
1 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
1/2 tsp kosher salt

DIRECTIONS:

Add the sugar, vinegar and water to a 6 quart heavy duty cooking pot.  Heat to a boil, reduce heat to medium and cook for about five minutes.  Stir occasionally as you want the liquid mixture to be a bit syrupy.  Add the tomatoes, red pepper flakes and salt.  Heat to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for about 2 to 2.5 hours until the tomato jam has thickened.  Stir occasionally especially as it thickens.  Season with more salt if required and let cool.  Place into small jars and either keep in the fridge or freeze.  If left in the fridge it should last for several weeks.  Makes about 3 cups.

Adapted from www.finecooking.com

Saturday, September 10, 2016

STACKED VEGETABLE CASSEROLE

In a recent post, I provided a recipe for an eggplant, zucchini and tomato bake.  This recipe also uses eggplant, zucchini and tomato but it is prepared differently and includes leftover mashed potatoes.  I like this recipe as the bottom layer of mashed potatoes acts as crust and also soaks up the juices from the vegetables.  I used a large pan for this casserole and took leftovers for lunches for several days.  Leftover casserole was a good change from soup for lunches.  


Layer of mashed potatoes as the base.

Next layer is eggplant.

Zucchini is layered over the eggplant.

Sliced tomatoes over the zucchini.

Cheese including fresh mozzarella was added during the baking.  Vegetable casserole ready for eating.
INGREDIENTS:

leftover mashed potatoes, about 3 medium to large mashed potatoes
1 eggplant, peeled and thinly sliced
1 medium size zucchini, thinly sliced
1 can of sliced mushrooms or 6 fresh mushrooms, sliced
1/2 red or sweet onion, chopped
3 tomatoes, sliced
salt and pepper to taste
cheese for topping - cheddar, fresh mozzarella or feta

oil for greasing casserole dish

DIRECTIONS:

Grease a large pan, 9 X 11 or 9 X 13.  Place a base layer of mashed potatoes and spread evenly across the pan.  Add the next layer of eggplant followed by the zucchini.  Distribute the onion and mushrooms across the pan and then add the tomatoes.  Add salt and pepper to taste. 

Place the pan in a preheated oven at 375 degrees F and bake for 30 to 40 minutes.  Halfway through the baking, pull the pan out of the oven and add the shredded or sliced cheese based on personal preference.  Return the pan to the oven to finish baking.  Serves 8.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

SLOW COOKER SPAGHETTI SAUCE

While visiting friends several weeks ago, they served this spaghetti sauce over homemade pasta.  It was delicious.  They had already made a batch of this sauce and froze it in containers for future meals so it was simple meal to put together as the homemade pasta was also made in advance and had been frozen.

With the tomatoes ripening from the garden, I had over 20 tomatoes that needed to be processed, frozen or cooked with.  I decided to make this spaghetti sauce and got the recipe from my friends.  She had gotten this recipe from a friend of hers many years ago. The recipe comes from this site.  I have provided the original recipe and directions in this post.  

I made some changes as I wanted to use fresh tomatoes, I didn't want to use tomato sauce and I decided to add a small can of tomato paste.  I skinned and cored about 20 to 25 tomatoes, then coarsely chopped them and added them to the crockpot.  For the ground beef I used lean ground beef and for the sausage I used one mild italian sausage and one hot italian sausage.  These sausages are made in one of the grocery stores that I frequent.  I also added two stalks of chopped celery to the crockpot.  I didn't add any bay leaves to the recipe and used frozen basil leaves. 

Instead of cooking this sauce during the day, I decided to cook it overnight and put all of the ingredients together in the evening and just let it simmer away overnight.  I woke up to the smell of spaghetti sauce.  It had been simmering for ten hours.  It needed a few good stirs.  There was some sauce stuck to the bottom of the pot which I worked at to loosen it up.  The downside of cooking this overnight is that you can't open the crockpot lid and stir it every hour or two.  Since the sauce was more liquidity than I liked, I added two more tablespoons of minute tapioca.  I turned the cooking heat off of the crockpot and let it sit for two hours.  After some taste testing and asking the DH for his sampling opinion, I added a little bit of splenda and agave.  It needed something to counter balance the acidity from the tomatoes.  I didn't seed the tomatoes that I added and seeds when cooked over a period of time can add a bitter taste.  All in all the spaghetti sauce tastes great and I will make this again.  Since it is a large batch, I will freeze it in batches for future meals.  If you want to make this into a vegan or vegetarian sauce you can easily substitute the beef and sausage for a soy based product. 

All ingredients added and ready to be simmered for 10 to 12 hours.


Ingredients:

1 lb ground beef
1/2 lb Italian sausage
1 onion; chopped
2 garlic clove; minced
2 cans of tomatoes; 16 oz each, chopped
2 cans tomato sauce; 8 oz each
2 cans mushrooms; drained and chopped 
1 green or coloured pepper; chopped
4 tbsp quick cooking tapioca 
2 bay leaves
1 tsp dry basil, or use fresh - 6 to 8 leaves
1 tsp dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

In a frying pan on medium high, add the ground beef, sausage, onion, and garlic until meat is brown and onion is tender; drain off fat.  I added a little bit of oil and cooked the onion and garlic first for a few minutes. 

While the meat is cooking, into a medium to large size crockpot, combine undrained tomatoes, tomato sauce, mushrooms, green pepper, tapioca, bay leaves, oregano, basil, pepper, and salt. Stir in the browned meat mixture. Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 10-12 hours or high heat setting for 5-6 hours. Remove bay leaves.  Makes 8-10 servings. 

Sunday, June 19, 2016

EGGPLANT, ZUCCHINI AND TOMATO BAKE

I don't buy eggplant all the time though I do like it.  I bought two eggplants the other day at one of the local grocery stores.  I decided to make a simple vegetable casserole with eggplant, zucchini, onions, tomatoes, celery and red pepper.  You can also add sliced mushrooms if you wanted.  The following pictures show the layering I did with the vegetables and parmesan cheese.  I used more of a shallow dish but if you used a deeper dish you could layer the eggplant, zucchini and tomato mixture and then repeat these layers topped with parmesan cheese.   The dish was delicious and it was not overly tomatoey like a lasagna.





After baking.


INGREDIENTS:

1 tbsp high temperature cooking oil, e.g. avocado or grape seed
1/2 large onion, chopped
1 celery, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 red pepper, diced
3 medium size tomatoes. chopped
1 large eggplant, peeled and sliced into rounds, about 1/4 inch thick
1 large zucchini, sliced in half, and then sliced lengthwise, less than 1/4 inch thick
1/2 tsp italian seasoning
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS:

In a non stick pan, heat the oil on medium high heat.  Add the onions, celery and garlic and sauté for 3 minutes.  Add the red pepper and tomatoes, reduce heat to medium and sauté for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring often.  Add the italian seasoning and combine with the tomato onion mixture.  Remove from heat.

Using a 13 inch baking casserole dish which I added coated with a little bit of oil, layer the eggplant, followed by the zucchini.  Then add the tomato onion mixture and speed it over the zucchini slices.  Top with the grated parmesan cheese.  Bake at 375 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes.