New Favorite · Vegan · Vegetarian

Vegan Winter Lentil Stew

Vegan Winter Lentil Stew is a flavorful, hearty winter stew.  I first tried this soup when hosting book club and preparing two stews 1) Vegan and 2) Beef Stew.  The key to the flavor in this soup is the Dijon mustard.  Who knew it could pack such a yummy punch.  Even non-lovers of lentils and beans have enjoyed it.  If you insist on adding a protein, go for it!  I’m sure it would be delicious.

WINTER LENTIL STEW

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 yellow onion
4 cloves garlic
4 carrots (about 1/2 lb.)
4 stalks celery
2 lbs potatoes
1 cup brown lentils
1 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1.5 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp brown sugar
6 cups vegetable broth
1 cup frozen peas

  • Dice the onion and mince the garlic. Add the olive oil, onion, and garlic to a large soup pot and begin to sauté over medium heat.
  • While the onion and garlic are sautéing, dice the celery, then add it to the pot and continue to sauté. As the celery, onion, and garlic are sautéing, peel and chop the carrots into half rounds. Add the carrots to the pot and continue to sauté.
  • As the onion, garlic, celery, and carrots are sautéing, peel and cube the potatoes into 3/4 to 1-inch pieces. Add the cubed potatoes to the pot along with the lentils, rosemary, thyme, Dijon, soy sauce, brown sugar, and vegetable broth.
  • Briefly stir the ingredients to combine, then place a lid on the pot, turn the heat up to high, and bring the stew up to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, turn the heat down to low and let it simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Toward the end of the simmer time, when the potatoes are very soft, begin to mash the potatoes a bit as you stir. This will help thicken the stew.
  • Finally, after 30 minutes, stir in the frozen peas and allow them to heat through. Taste the stew and add salt if needed. Serve hot and enjoy!

Recipe from: Budgetbytes.com  

Garden · Gluten Free · New Favorite · Vegan · Vegetarian

Sweet Potatoes, Carrots and Apples Roasted with OJ

Roasted Vegetables are my absolute favorite yet I didn’t discover this technique until a few years ago.  My carrot harvest this year was the best I’ve ever had, despite Joe’s (my 12 year old Golden Retriever) attempts to steal the carrots out of the basket.

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I found this wonderful recipe which did not call for apples, but in later versions I added the apples and loved the added sweet/tart bites.

SWEET POTATOES & CARROTS WITH APPLE CIDER THYME

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
3 medium-large carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch rounds
1-2 apples, peeled and chopped in large pieces
1 small red onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 whole garlic cloves
1/4 cup apple cider
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme
salt and pepper to taste

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Place cut sweet potatoes, carrots, red onion and garlic cloves on a baking sheet and spread them in a single layer.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together apple cider, olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper. Drizzle mixture all over vegetables and toss to coat evenly.
  • Roast for 35-45 minutes, until vegetables are caramelized to your liking. Serve immediately.

Adapted from http://www.myjewishlearning.com/blog/food/2014/10/13/sweet-potatoes-and-carrots-with-apple-cider-and-thyme/

Family Favorites · Vegan · Vegetarian

Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette for Quinoa Salad, Green Salad or Marinade

Cilantro is an herb that people either LOVE or HATE.  I’m on the love side of Cilantro. It brings such a fresh, aromatic addition to select dishes, including this Vinaigrette and Salad. This Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette was a discovery a few years ago and I love it, especially on a summer Quinoa Salad, enjoying the salad throughout the week.

CILANTRO LIME VINAIGRETTE

3 T extra virgin olive oil
3 T red wine vinegar
2 T freshly squeezed lime juice
1 small jalapeno pepper (or less) chopped
1 clove garlic, halved
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1.5-2 tablespoons fresh cilantro

  • Put all ingredients in food processor or blender. Pulse until ingredients are blended. Shake before serving.

QUINOA SALAD

  • To prepare the quinoa, cook 1 cup quinoa to 2 cups liquid (water or chicken broth) for 15-20 minutes. Drain. Cool.
  • Then I throw in whatever I have on hand: onion, peppers, beans (garbanzo or black beans), carrots, celery, tomatoes, etc.  I’ve never had a combination I didn’t like.  You can use it as a side dish or add a protein to make it an entrée.
New Favorite · Skinny · Vegan · Vegetarian

Asparagus Tapenade…almost Springtime treat!

Tender stalks of asparagus at the store are a sign that Spring is upon us (or at least we hope it is). This recipe for Asparagus Tapenade has been in my stack of ‘must try’ recipes for a long time.  I wish I could remember where the recipe came from so I could give proper credit.

Asparagus Tapenade is a great recipe for anyone, but is a tasty treat for those practicing a Vegan or Vegetarian diet.

I served the Tapenade with vegetables and bits of bread.  It was great with both but I LOVED it on artisan bread. 

ASPARAGUS TAPENADE

1 pound asparagus (thick spears work fine)
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 large cloves garlic
1/2 cup fresh basil or fresh tarragon
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, optional
1/4 teaspoon fresh pepper
Additional salt and pepper to taste
  • Bring pan of water to boil over high heat.
  • Rinse and trim ends from asparagus, then cut in 1 – 2 inch pieces.
  • Add asparagus to water, return water to boil, reduce heat to medium. Cook until just soft and still bright green, about three minutes. Drain well.
  • Meanwhile, toast pine nuts in a dry skillet over medium high, stirring occasionally, watching carefully to avoid burning.
  • Add remaining ingredients to a food processor. Add toasted pine nuts and cooked asparagus. Pulse until thoroughly blended but still roughly chopped.
  • Transfer to clean container and refrigerate until fully chilled. Serve with crackers, vegetables and/or on crostini/bread.

 

New Favorite · Skinny · Vegan · Vegetarian

Summer’s Harvest Salad

Every two months a group of great friends meet for a themed potluck before our book club gathering.  This month, an hour before our meeting, I had nothing.  It had been a busy day and I was fresh out of ideas and time.  After writing about food it seemed tacky to run to the grocery store and buy something…God forbid!

I stood in my kitchen and contemplated my next move when suddenly I saw a bowl of sun gold tomatoes from my garden and an avocado.  Hmmmm.  I quickly looked up a few recipes using those ingredients and then decided, ‘what the heck’, I’ll just through a bunch of vegetables in a bowl and toss with Greek Dressing (or vinaigrette) and call it good.

What resulted was a yummy refreshing summer’s harvest salad.  It’s a keeper!

SUMMER’S HARVEST SALAD

Sun Gold (or cherry tomatoes) halved
Fresh Sweet corn, cooked and cut from the cob
Chopped Avocado
Chopped green or sweet white onion
Chopped fresh basil
Salt & Pepper
Balsamic vinaigrette (or Greek Dressing)

Nicaragua

Nicaragua…one crazy, divine adventure!

It all started with an email from my sister-in-law, Betty, asking me if I wanted to go to Nicaragua.  With a flip ‘sure, when and how much’, she replied with pricing and the news that I would need to be on a red-eye flight THAT NIGHT in order to meet the eco tour group in Managua.  Are you kidding me?  I’m ‘Ms. Gotta Have a Plan’ and yet I’m considering this?  The more I talked to Betty and then to my daughters, it WAS going to happen.

Since the tour was a hands-on experience at Finca Esperanza Verde (FEV) for 4 days and another 3 days in San Ramon with a local family, the attire was very casual so a current passport, T-shirts, jeans, hiking boots, socks, rain gear, and bare personal essentials in a borrowed carry-on from my new son-in-law and I was ready to roll.  A quick call to my trusty PA and the Doxycycline was called into the pharmacy.   I was on a flight that evening at 11:55 p.m., arriving in Miami at 5:30 a.m. with a connecting flight at 10:29 a.m. and final arrival in Managua at 11:55 a.m.  WHEW!  I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

The flights were uneventful, the layover long but the views flying into Nicaragua were stunning!  My seat mate thought me crazy for taking pictures from the plane, but wouldn’t you take a picture of this,  Lake Managua with volcanoes Momotombo and Momotombito.

Flying into NIcaragua
Flying into Nicaragua

Keep in mind, the only people I would know on this tour were my sister-in-law Betty, and her husband George.  Their flight arrived 2 hours after mine.  I was to look for a sign at the door for Finca Esperanza Verde, which I did not see.  Am I CRAZY?  I’m in a strange country, trying to meet strangers to go a destination I know little about. Somehow, there was no fear (mind you, there was also NO sleep) but rather a sense of great adventure.

After wandering around the exit for about 30 minutes, walking up to strangers asking if they were part of a group going to FEV, I learned there were a lot of groups coming to volunteer, to vacation and to get the heck away from me!  Finally, I saw a group of women that were congregating at a bus stop and kindly asked if they were with a group going to FEV.  I was so relieved when I found my group and delighted by their immediate acceptance of this one, bedraggled traveler.

It was time for lunch so we followed our fearless FEV guides, Gustavo and Everisto, inside to the food court.  Now this was not your normal airport food court.  We were set to try the local cuisine.  I so wish I could tell you what I ate that day, but that brain cell floated away before the last bite was swallowed.  It was wonderful…trust me on that.

After the final ecotour travelers arrived we were on our way toward San Ramon, in our mini bus, approximately 99 miles (160 Km) from the Managua airport.  As I recall, the bus trip took about 4 hours and was a wonderful introduction to the landscape, the people, the culture.

About halfway through the bus trip, we stopped for a quick break and were delighted to see a local food stand.  I snapped a few photos of the wonderful, local produce:

Fresh Peppers on roadside stand in Nicaragua
Roadside stand in Nicaragua

Fresh Carrots in NicaraguaWhen we were within about a half mile from FEV, the sun was setting and we were to transfer from the mini bus to a smaller vehicle.  It was a beautiful night and many of us decided to stretch our legs and walk to the lodge.  The sky was beautiful and the tropical forest serene!

We arrived at FEV in time for dinner in the open-air dining area.  It was dark when we arrived, but the wood stove was burning, the beer was cold, and the food was scrumptious.  We were greeted by the gracious staff and our hosts (and FEV co-founders), Lonna and Richard Hardraker.  I wish I could tell you what I ate that evening, but I cannot.  The best I can do is share a picture of Toña, my first Nicaraguan beer.  Quite tasty and refreshing!

Cold bottle of Toña Nicaraguan beer

With a full tummy and an almost non-functional brain, I hiked the short distance to Tucan Lodge to rest my weary Colorado head down for a peaceful slumber in the tropical forest at Finca Esperanza Verde, not knowing what adventures were awaiting me in the morning.

For more information on Finca Esperanza Verde, check out their website:

http://www.fincaesperanzaverde.org/

Update: 1/2021 new website is fincaesperanzaverde.com

NOTE:  I will be posting about my Nicaraguan adventures on Tuesdays for the next several weeks.  Join me as I relive this crazy, wonderful trip.  Did you say there was a flight to Nicaragua leaving tonight????

Family Favorites · Holidays · My Roots

Thanksgiving Leftovers…Yummy Turkey Vegetable Soup…

My Mother grew up in the depression and had a knack for making the most out of everything.  Every year, she would make a large pot of Turkey Vegetable Soup after the big day.  The aroma of the soup allowed us to relive Thanksgiving Day all over again.  I love to add caraway seed (if you are Czech…it’s a true passion).  Yum!

Turkey Vegetable Soup
Turkey Vegetable Soup

TURKEY VEGETABLE SOUP

1 Turkey Carcass (leftover from holiday meal)
Diced Potatoes
Pearl Barley
Corn
Green Beans
Green Peas
Diced Onion
Diced Celery
Diced Carrots
Diced Red or Green Peppers
Bits of leftover dressing
(Whatever you feel like throwing in the pot!)
Pinch of oregano, parley, thyme, dill, caraway seed
Salt & pepper to taste

  • Remove carcass/meat/skin from broth.  Strain broth.  Return bits of turkey to the broth.  Chill overnight.
  • Skim fat from broth.  Bring broth to slight boil.
  • Add vegetables, herbs, and seasoning.  Simmer until vegetables are tender.
Fresh Vegetables and Barley chopped and ready

The soup freezes so well and provides you with a taste of Thanksgiving long into the winter.

Do you have a favorite turkey soup that is tradition in your family?