The Magic of Leftovers

One of the main reasons I haven’t been posting much lately is that hubby and I are subscribed to Purple Carrot, which is one of those meal kit services. This one does vegan meals (if you want to try it out, you can use my referral link: http://fbuy.me/fr-7u and get $25 off your first order). Sometimes, though, our busy schedule doesn’t allow us to make all the meals, so we’ll store the things we can store and try to eat the produce in a speedier fashion (such as in an omelette, a salad, or a sandwich). A few weeks ago, that happened with a grain bowl recipe, so as my mom and I were rooting around to figure out what to make for dinner, we ran across the little bag of fregola rustica. I had to google it to find out what it is (apparently, it’s a mix of wild rice, quinoa, and a small, toasted pasta). So we used the fregola rustica as the base of our dish, which turned out surprisingly delicious. I would totally make this again, though I would have to find some fregola rustica first. My vision was sort of a patty, but I didn’t want to go to the trouble of frying, so I put it all in a casserole dish. The result is something that holds together well. This recipe is minus a lot of lactose, minus meat, minus troublesome fiber, and minus high smartpoints. Mom, hubby, and I all agreed it was delicious and very filling.

Broccoli & Fregola Rustica Patty/Casserole

3/4 cup fregola rustica, uncooked

~ 1 1/2 cups leftover roasted broccoli (we used the extra broccoli that we roasted for super upsetting veggie burgers the night before–this quantity really isn’t critical, use whatever amount of broccoli you want), chopped into smallish pieces

2 Tbsp nutritional yeast

1 clove garlic, minced (my garlic press was in the dishwasher–pressed would be fine, too)

1 cup egg whites

1 1/2 ounces shredded parmesan

pepper and Maggi seasoning to taste (those aren’t in the original picture because I didn’t think of them until I tasted and decided it needed something else)

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(I know you know what pepper looks like, but I thought some folks out there might be unfamiliar with Maggi seasoning, since it’s mainly used in northern Europe and southeast Asia)

Preheat the oven to 350F. Cook the fregola rustica according to package directions (basically, put it in a small pot with 1 1/4 cups water, bring to a boil, cover, reduce to a simmer, and simmer 15-20 minutes until the water is absorbed, the quinoa has done its tail-bursty thing, and everything is tender). Put the cooked fregola rustica in a bowl, and mix in the broccoli, nutritional yeast, garlic, and pepper and Maggi.  Make sure it’s mixed well. Mix in the egg whites.  They probably won’t mix super well.  Pour into a greased 9″x13″ casserole dish, and flatten out.  Sprinkle with parmesan.  Put in the oven for 30 minutes, until the egg whites are set (everything is firm) and the parmesan is somewhat melted.  1/4 of the dish (a very satisfactory serving) is 5 smartpoints.  Hubby says it’s also really good with the vegetarian bacon mayo on top.

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Fakin’ Bacon Mayo

A while back I posted about super upsetting veggie burgers. The same cookbook includes an intriguing recipe for a vegetarian bacon mayonnaise (which can easily be made vegan if you use Veganaise, but I used Hellman’s Light because I come from a loyal Hellmann’s family). So, I figured, what the heck, I’ll make the upsetting veggie burgers and a condiment to go with them.  The worst thing that can happen is it’s terrible.  Turns out, it’s really good (as attested to by my mother (who is visiting) and I, who don’t eat bacon, and hubby, who does eat bacon)!  And now I’m trying to think of other places to use it (I’m not a big mayo eater, so this is a tough one). The hardest part about this recipe is finding the tea.  I had to go to a specialty tea shop (Teaism), so make sure you can find the tea before you start trying to make this. This recipe is minus high smartpoints, minus lactose, minus fiber and minus meat (make it minus animal products by using Veganaise and make it minus gluten by using tamari).

Vegetarian Bacon Mayo

2 teaspoons Lapsang Souchong tea leaves (don’t use another tea, just hunt hard for this one)

1 1/2 cups mayonnaise (I used Hellmann’s Light, the author uses a homemade mayo)

1/2 tsp ground allspice

1/2 tsp ground black pepper (use finely ground)

1 garlic clove, pushed through a garlic press (the cookbook says to mince it)

1 tsp grape jelly

2 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce

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Preheat the oven to 250F.  Put the tea leaves on a small baking sheet and put in the oven for 10 minutes until completely dry and crumbly.  Your kitchen will start smelling suspiciously bacony.  Crush the tea leaves into a powder with a mortar and pestle (which I no longer have) or the back of a spoon in a bowl (my method of choice). Put the tea powder and all the other ingredients into a bowl and whisk well.  It may take a while to get it all completely mixed, especially the grape jelly, but get it all mixed.  If you taste it, it won’t taste very bacony at this point.  Cover it and refrigerate it for at least an hour, up to 4 days, and now it tastes bacony!  The smartpoints equal the number of smartpoints for whatever mayo you’re using, so with Hellmann’s Light, it’s one sp per tablespoon.

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Not Yo’ Cheez

Hubby was craving nachos, and asked if I could make a nacho cheese he could eat (i.e., lactose-free).  I found this recipe, and really had to twist his arm to get him to try it, because he really wanted “real cheese,” but I explained that wasn’t really possible with his dietary restrictions and the flavor that one is aiming for in nacho cheese, so he grudgingly okayed this idea, and after tasting it, is a total convert.  I found this recipe by googling vegan nacho cheese (it’s from hotforfoodblog.com), and I have to say, it’s pretty awesome, though it seems like it wouldn’t work at all.  It reminds me, in fact, a lot of the nacho cheese at Spiral Diner, my favorite vegan restaurant ever, in the heart of Cow Town (Fort Worth, Texas).  This recipe is minus high smartpoints, minus lactose, minus animal products, minus troublesome fiber, minus gluten.

Vegan Nacho Cheese

1 cup peeled, cubed white potato (I used Russet, in fact, only about 3/4 of the potato pictured, cut into dice-sized pieces)

1/2 cup peeled, cubed carrot (I only used 3 of the carrots pictured, and “cubing” a skinny carrot is sort of silly–I just chopped horizontal chunks)

1/4 cup vegetable oil (the original calls for sunflower, I think the idea is a neutral-flavored oil)

1/4 cup unsweetened plain almond milk (the original calls for non-dairy milk or water)

2 tsp lemon juice

6 pickled jalapeno slices (I used small ones so it wouldn’t be too hot)

3 Tbsp jalapeno pickling liquid

1 Tbsp tomato paste

1 1/2 tsp cornstarch (the original calls for arrowroot starch, but I had cornstarch)

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion powder

1 Tbsp nutritional yeast

1/2 tsp sea salt

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Bring a pot of water to a boil.  Add the potatoes and carrots and boil for 10 minutes.  Drain.  Meanwhile, put all the other ingredients in your Vitamix (or probably a regular blender or food processor would work, but a Vitamix is great for this).  Add the drained veggies, and blend until it’s smooth.  Done.

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Looks like nacho cheese, doesn’t it?!  It’s a little on the sweet side, but really quite passable for nacho cheese.  Hubby was in seventh heaven.  I would say it beats the nacho cheese you usually get at movies, baseball games, etc.  And it’s so much healthier!  Mine made about 1 cup, though the original recipe claims it makes 1 1/2 cups.  At 1 cup, it’s 1 smartpoint per tablespoon, which is nice.  And this is what it looks like on nachos–totally authentic looking:

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Neither Macaroni Nor Cheese

I think while I was still in college I got my mother’s macaroni and cheese recipe, which I believe she adapted from the back of a Mueller’s elbow noodles box.  Over the years, I have tweaked it and tried a number of variations based on ingredients on hand, inspirations, and dietary restrictions.  I promised hubby I would make macaroni and cheese for dinner tonight, and tonight’s version turns out to technically be neither macaroni (because I used rotini) nor cheese (because I used Daiya), but it’s still pretty good (he hasn’t come home yet to give a thumbs up or thumbs down, but I liked it, though it’s not as good as when I use real cheese).  This recipe is minus lactose, minus meat, minus high smartpoints, and minus troublesome fiber (the artichokes seem to be OK for hubby).

Mac & Cheese That Isn’t

12 oz rotini

1 bag (12 oz) Quorn Chik’n Tenders

2 cans (each 8.5 oz drained weight) quartered artichoke hearts, chopped

3 Tbsp cornstarch

1 1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 tsp dried mustard

1 Tbsp nutritional yeast

3/8 tsp pepper

3 Tbsp I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter light

3 3/4 cup plain, unsweetened soymilk

4 oz Daiya cheddar (I used slices, so cut I cut them into strips to mimic shreds)

4 oz Daiya mozzarella (I used shreds)

4 oz Daiya jalapeno havarti (I used a block, so I shredded it)

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Cook the rotini according to the package directions, drain, and set aside. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 375F. Grease a 9″ x 13″ casserole dish. Spread the Quorn out in the casserole dish. Spread the artichokes out among the Quorn. In a medium pot, put the cornstarch, salt, dried mustard, nutritional yeast, pepper, I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter, and soymilk. Put the pot on the stove on medium-high heat, and stir constantly. When the mixture comes to a boil, let it boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly, and making sure it doesn’t boil over. Turn the stove down to low, and add the Daiya, a little at a time, stirring after each addition until it is melted and incorporated into the mixture. Once all the Daiya is melted, add the rotini, and mix well. Scoop/pour the rotini mixture evenly over the Quorn and artichoke mixture. Put the casserole in the oven, and bake for 25 minutes. Let cool for about 10 minutes before eating.

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I calculated the smartpoints at 98 for the whole recipe, so I ate 1/12 of the recipe (a decent, but not huge portion), for 8 smartpoints.

Toast Shmoast

For a while now, I’ve been seeing recipes for avocado toast.  It’s apparently all the rage.  And from what I can tell, it’s basically a piece of toast with mushed-up avocado and some other stuff on it.  Well, I had an avocado, and a desire to experiment, so toast shmoast, let’s squish some avocado on tortillas!  This recipe is minus animal products, minus lactose, minus troublesome fiber, and minus gluten.  Using the particular ingredients I did, it was 11 smartpoints, so not so minus on the high points.

Avocado Tortillas

2 small corn tortillas

3/4 small avocado (I had to cut out a bunch of bad spots, so I ended up with less than a whole avocado)

2 Tbsp nutritional yeast

pepper and shallot salt to taste

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Mush up the avocado in a bowl.  Add the nutritional yeast, shallot salt, and pepper, and mix/mush it all together well.  Spread on the tortillas, and enjoy.  I think this would also work well as a dip for corn chips.

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Pump Up the Banana

One of my favorite baking recipe sites is Chocolate Covered Katie.  So when I saw she had a new recipe for a pumpkin-banana bread, I had to try it (especially since I’m married to someone who is obsessed with banana bread and quite fond of pumpkin bread at this time of year).  The results made me realize that Katie and I don’t have entirely the same taste in sweet breads, but I think with some tweaks, it could improve.  First of all, it doesn’t really have much pumpkin flavor.  I think it should maybe be half pumpkin, half banana, rather than 3/4 banana.  Hubby said it basically tasted like banana bread.  Also, neither of us liked the chocolate chips, which shocked the heck out of me.  I love chocolate.  But it doesn’t belong in this recipe (and removing the chips saved 1 sp per slice).  Also, Katie mentions how she likes her bread a bit undercooked, and likes eating the raw dough.  I enjoy licking the spoon, but I want my bread done, so I think it needs to bake longer.  This recipe is minus animal products, minus troublesome fiber, minus lactose, and minus high smartpoints.  If you want the original recipe, you can find it here.

Banana Bread with a Hint of Pumpkin

2 cups flour (Katie prefers oat flour, I used AP, use what you like)

1 tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp cinnamon (I think this could be upped to help enhance the pumpkin)

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice (I think this could be upped to help enhance the pumpkin)

1 packet splenda (Katie says to use 1/16 tsp uncut stevia or 2 Tbsp sweetener of choice, I decided to just go with the splenda packet, since it seemed like it would be enough, and I had it on hand)

2 cups total pumpkin puree and mashed, overripe banana (Katie calls for 1 1/2 cups banana and 1/2 cup pumpkin, but I think it should be more like 1 cup and 1 cup)

1/2 cup agave nectar (Katie says or honey or maple syrup, but hubby chose agave; now that I’ve looked them all up, I’d say maple syrup is the best bet points-wise–24, vs. 29 for agave or 32 for honey)

1/3 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (Katie says use your milk of choice, or use oil, but why would you use oil?)

2 tsp vanilla extract

optional (leave them off!): 1/2 cup chocolate chips

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Preheat your oven to 350F and grease a 9×5 loaf pan.  Put the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, pumpkin pie spice, and splenda in a big bowl and mix them with a whisk (best way to incorporate dry ingredients).  In another bowl, put all the rest of the ingredients (except the chocolate chips), and mix well with a whisk.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, and mix until its incorporated.  Pour it all into the prepared pan, smooth it out, and if you must have the chocolate chips, sprinkle them over the top, and press them in lightly.

Katie is actually not very clear on what to do with the chocolate chips–she mentions combining all the dry ingredients in one bowl and all the wet in another, but usually in these situations, things like chocolate chips get added in last.  Then she says you can press “extra” chocolate chips into the top before putting the pan in the oven.  So I took that to mean that’s what I should do with all the 1/2 cup of chocolate chips I had.  Now I know I just shouldn’t have included them.

Put the pan in the oven, and bake for 30-40 minutes (Katie says 30, but she likes things raw in the middle–I did 30 and wish I’d let it go longer).  Don’t open the oven door, but turn off the oven and let the bread hang out for another 10 minutes (maybe more?), then take it out.  Once again, Katie is sketchy here.  She then says to let it cool completely, but doesn’t say whether it should be removed from the pan first.  So, I let it cool in the pan for a few minutes, then we had a slice each (since I realized that with chocolate chips over the top, I would have a mess flipping this out of the pan onto a cooling rack).

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So-so.  Once it was cool, I used 2 forks like tongs to lift it up and out of the pan (surprisingly, that worked).  Store tightly wrapped in the refrigerator.  And take off the chocolate chips, so yours starts looking like a moon scene, too:

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At 12 slices, it’s 5 sp per slice without the chocolate chips, or 6 sp per slice with the chocolate chips (the chocolate chips are worth 20 sp total; the whole recipe is either 55 or 75 sp using agave and splenda–you’ll have to adjust for your sweetener choices)

Stewing in My Own Juices

I’ve been sick for over a week now–viral bronchitis, apparently.  I spent a few days unable to taste anything and many days without enough energy to do anything more than heat up something frozen to eat.  But today I actually had enough energy to make dinner, so I made a vegan stew that is called African Peanut Stew in the original recipe (it’s from Relay Foods).  I’m not really an expert on African cuisine, so I don’t know if it’s anything close to authentic, but it turned out delicious, so I’m using my last little bit of energy today to share it with you.  This recipe is minus animal products, minus high smartpoints, minus lactose, and minus gluten.

Vegan Stew with Peanuts, Sweet Potato, and Collard Greens

2 Tbsp olive oil (could you do this with less oil? Maybe, but the oil helps with the sauteeing, carries flavor, and isn’t that major of a contributor to the final points tally)

1 large onion, chopped (the original doesn’t specify the size of onion, and says finely chopped, but I was too lazy to chop finely)

3 cloves garlic, pressed through a garlic press (the original says minced; I used 2 large cloves and one small clove, because that’s what I had)

chunk of fresh ginger, peeled and minced (the original says 1″ piece, but I always have a hard time with those measurements, because do you count all the knobs?  Mine ended up being 2 Tbsp once I minced it)

28 1/2 oz fresh sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed (the original says 2 sweet potatoes, which is what I used, but I weighed them out after peeling just so I’d know what I’d actually used)

2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/8 tsp ground cloves

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1/4 tsp Aleppo pepper (the original calls for crushed red pepper, but I like Aleppo better)

1 can (28 oz) fire roasted diced tomatoes (the original doesn’t specify fire roasted)

2 cups water

2 tsp vegetable bouillon goo (the original calls for 2 cups vegetable broth)

3 cups packed raw collard greens, ribs removed, chopped (the original doesn’t specify packed or ribs removed, but you don’t want to eat a collard rib)

1/2 cup peanut butter (I used creamy)

salt and pepper to taste

1/3 cup chopped cilantro

1/4 cup chopped peanuts

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Use a big pot.  Put in the olive oil and heat it over medium heat.  Add the onion, and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent (like the original recipe suggested), or for 5 minutes (like I did).  Add the garlic and ginger, and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant (and the original recipe says also brown, but I just went for fragrant/4 minutes).  Add the sweet potato and cook, stirring occasionally, until just softened (like the original recipe suggested) or 8 minutes (like I did).  Add the spices, and stir them in thoroughly, and cook for 2 minutes, during which time, the spices will stick to the bottom of the pan, but that’s all part of the plan.  Add about 1/3 of the tomatoes and use them to deglaze the pan (get the spices unstuck from the bottom).  When that seems to be working, add the rest of the tomatoes, the water, and the bouillon goo, and stir it all together.  Turn up the heat (the original doesn’t say this, but I wasn’t going to wait for a boil on medium heat) and bring it to a boil.  Add the collards, and mix them in well.  Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes and collards are done to your liking (like the original recipe suggested) or 20 minutes (like I did).  Stir in the peanut butter thoroughly.  Taste, and add salt and pepper as needed.  The original recipe says to garnish with the cilantro and peanuts, which is what I did before taking the picture below, but then I mixed them in, since I’m not serving for company.  The original recipe says this makes 4 servings, but I measured it out, and it’s 10 generous cups, so those would be some big servings.  Each cup is 6 smartpoints.  I had 2 cups for dinner, and I was stuffed (after having been quite hungry).  I’ll be eating it in one-cup servings in the future, probably with a side of something like rice or cornbread.  This is great food for being sick, because the spices are warming, and there’s all sorts of healthy veggies in it.

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