Savory Vegan Succotash-Stuffed Zucchini

Here’s what I had:

  • A beautiful heirloom round yellow zucchini
  • 4 ears of white sweet corn
  • 1 pt of fresh shelled lima beans
  • 1 lb. of baby purple-skinned potatoes
  • A few red onions
  • Leftover fresh baby spinach
  • Various pantry odds and ends

Here’s what I made:

Vegan Succotash-Stuffed Zucchini with Roasted Baby Purple-Skinned Potatoes

 

Here’s what I did:

I sliced the potatoes thin, coated them with oil and some Spike’s Veg Magic and baked them at 425F for 15-20 mins.  Wanted to get the taters done first so I could snack on them while cooking the rest!

While the potatoes cooked, I scooped out the middle of the zucchinis and mashed up the insides with 2-3 Tbsp of nutritional yeast and some Kosher salt.  I sauteed 2 small red onions and a clove of garlic in some coconut oil and then added the limas.  I put a lid on the pot and left them alone until the lima beans were bright green and tender (about 3-4 mins).  Once the limas were tender, I added the cheesy squash and the corn.  I let that get happy for another 2-3 mins before tearing up some spinach and letting it wilt in.  The zucchini and corn were both sweeter than I was feeling for dinner, so I had to taste and adjust the seasonings a few times.

Suffering Succotash! …Couldn’t help myself

Meanwhile, I gave the round zucchinis a massage in some evoo, Kosher salt, and black pepper.  I reduced the heat on the oven to 375F (the potatoes were long-since done and already being snacked on).

It’s like they were calling my name!

I baked the zucchini for about 15 mins, or until just short of tender.  Then, I stuffed the zucchini halves and baked them for another 5-7 mins, or until the squash were tender and juicy (but not at all mushy).

Little heirloom boats of awesome waiting for the oven

At the end, I layered the leftover potatoes in a casserole dish and topped them with the juicy leftover succotash.

 

What would you have made with these ingredients?  Do you prefer to plan out your meals or just jump in the kitchen and see what happens?  Does your cooking style change from season to season like mine?

 

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Vegan Potato, Green Bean, and Cauliflower Soup

This soup is what I’m all about. Easy prep and clean flavors inspired by what was at the market yesterday.  A no-fuss hot comforting meal for those of us with no money to waste and even less time.

Potato, Green Bean, and Cauliflower Soup: 

O Hai! Cola (my three-legged study buddy) iz checkin out teh delishus noms

Equipment:

  • Big soup pot with lid, food processor, knife, cutting board, wooden spoon, stove-top

Ingredients:

  • 1 large head cauliflower, cut into big bite-sized pieces
  • 2 lbs red new potatoes, cut into large bite-sized pieces
  • 3 large yellow onions, cut into a large dice
  • 1 head of garlic (8-12 cloves), peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 pt. of green beans, trimmed and halved
  • 1 celery heart with leaves, chopped (I didn’t have any celery around this time, so I used a big bunch of a celery-flavored herb called Par-cel and it worked out well!)
  • Basil
  • Thyme
  • 1 block silken tofu
  • 2 Tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 6-8 cups water or veggie stock, with 1/2 cup set aside
  • Evoo
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Heat a Tbsp or 2 of evoo over medium-low heat in the bottom of a large soup pot.  As you prep the veggies, add them to the hot oil (prep in this order: onions, celery, garlic, potatoes, cauliflower, green beans), stirring occasionally.
  2. Season the veg with salt, pepper, basil, and thyme.  Continue to saute over med-low 10-15 mins, letting the potatoes and cauliflower really mingle with the onions and garlic.
  3. Meanwhile, break the silken tofu block into 2-3 pieces and add them to the food processor.  Add the 1/2 cup water/stock and blend until the tofu is liquefied and completely smooth.  Season with a generous couple of pinches of salt and pepper as well as the nutritional yeast.  Add the “cheese” to the cooking veggies in the pot.
  4. Let the sauce cook with the veggies a few minutes and then add 6-8 cups of water or stock to the pot until the veggies are totally submerged.  Stir, cover, and bring to a boil on high heat.
  5. Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium and let the soup simmer, covered until all of the vegetables are tender (about 15-20 mins).  Re-season as needed.
  6. Enjoy!!

Black Bean and Sweet Corn Mexican Quinoa

Easy, delicious, fast, fresh, flexible = perfect dinner for a busy school night.

Go.

Black Bean and Sweet Corn Mexican Quinoa:

I think this would be great with some yellow bell peppers and tomatoes if you've got some on hand, but it's damn good as is too!

Equipment:

  • Large, deep skillet with tight-fitting lid (I used enameled cast iron – worked great), knife, cutting board, stove top
Ingredients: 
  • 4 ears of corn, cut off the cobs
  • 2 small yellow onions, cut into half moons
  • 4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 jalapeno with seeds, chopped
  • Your equivalent to 1 can of black beans
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 heaping Tbsp cumin
  • Fresh/dried cilantro to taste (dried is milder, if you’re not a cilantro fan like me)
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
Directions:
  1. Melt the coconut oil over medium heat in your skillet.  Saute the onions until softened, about 3-5 mins.  Add the garlic and jalapeno and saute another 2 mins, being careful not to burn the garlic.  Stir in the cumin, dried cilantro (if using fresh wait until the end and just wilt it in), a hefty pinch of salt and a couple hits of pepper.
  2. Stir in the quinoa.  Cook the quinoa dry for 1-2 mins, being careful not to burn it, but still letting it get toasted and coated in the spices.  Add the 2 cups veg stock, reduce the heat to med-low, cover and let simmer until the quinoa is cooked and all the liquid has evaporated, about 20 mins.
  3. When the quinoa is done, stir in the black beans and then the sweet corn.  Increase the heat if needed, and saute 2-3 mins until the beans are heated through and well incorporated.  Re-season as needed.
  4. ENJOY!!

 

Mass Cooking Dried Beans = $avings Today, Convenience Tomorrow

There are a couple of reasons I prefer dried beans over canned: they taste better, you can easily control the sodium levels, there are zero preservatives in dried beans (I’m sorry, but why does a can of beans need an ingredients list???), properly soaked and rinsed dried beans don’t make you as musical as canned beans, and dried beans are much more cost effective.

But, I will be the first to admit that dried beans either require a pressure cooker (which is far too fancy for my budget to handle) or planning ahead for each dish (which can be too fancy for my brain to handle).  So, as part of my prep for this semester, I’ve decided to make my brain think about one less thing by spending this rainy Saturday cooking a few batches of beans and then freezing them.  I thought it noteworthy because some others out there might appreciate the idea (and I can use this post as reminder to myself to do the same next semester!).

Red beans look outside one last time before they meet the freezer (And No Ingredients List Necessary!!)

I spent about $6 on over 6 lbs of a variety of beans from a local bulk grains store: red, black, kidney, navy, and pinto.  From that $6, I got a whopping EIGHTEEN 16 oz. servings (approximately 18 cans of beans), and so, at $1.19 per can, I more than tripled my money without adding any chemicals.  And, because I chose 16 oz. containers, every time a recipe calls for a 15 oz. can of beans, I can just grab one of these bad boys out of the freezer already perfectly portioned!

Here’s what I used:

  • Medium to Large mixing bowls
  • Large stock pots
  • Large strainer
  • 16 oz. freezer-safe mason jars
  • Water
  • Kosher salt (optional)
  • Stove top
Here’s how I did it:
  • Soak beans over night in the bowls.  You can also soak beans in hot water for half the time (4-5 hours) if you want to start them in the morning and then cook them the same day.
  • Strain the beans, rinse them really well in your stock pot, strain them again, and pick them through to make sure there aren’t any pebbles or other intruders you don’t want to cook.
  • Boil the beans 30-60 mins (depending on type of bean and temp/duration of soaking) in lightly salted water (salt is optional).  Taste test to make sure they’re tender.
  • Pour the cooked beans back into the strainer.  Run cold water over the hot beans until they’ve cooled enough to touch and scoop them into your freezer-safe containers.
  • Next time you need beans, you don’t have to think about it the night before, but you’ve still done something that benefits both your wallet and your health! 😀

Roasted Garlic and Basil Hummus

This is a pretty generic recipe for hummus.  This time around, I threw some roasted garlic and fresh basil in, but you can add almost anything you want to a basic hummus set-up.  Aside from being super flexible, this recipe is also ridiculously easy – it just takes a looooong time to prep if you use dried chickpeas (which I really do recommend so you can control the sodium levels and eliminate any preservatives found in canned garbanzo beans).  The only thing I keep forgetting is that chickpeas double in size when they’re re-hydrated, so I almost always make way too much.  This time I’ve got a whopping quart of hummus to get through from just a 1 1/2 cups of dried chickpeas (might be giving some away to the fam this week!).  So, note to self – don’t be fooled! 1 cup is plenty!!

Roasted Garlic and Basil Hummus:

It could be delicious and healthy homemade hummus, or it could be highschool mashed potatoes... Hmmm, tricky tricky!

Equipment:

  • Large food processor (sorry, you really do need the fancy kitchen gear for this one), colander, silicone spatula, large soup pot, strainer, a couple medium-sized bowls, small saute pan, a spoon, stove top
Ingredients:
  • 1 cup dried chickpeas
  • 2-4 Tbsp tahini (to taste)
  • 1-4 Tbsp lemon juice (to taste)
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • Evoo (or this is a great way to get some omega-rich but temperature sensitive flax oil into your diet)
  • 2-5 cloves garlic (to taste)
  • Other flavors you may want (7-10 fresh basil leave, roasted red peppers, cumin/cayenne pepper, etc)
Directions:
  1. Soak the chickpeas over night in hot water (actually, I usually soak them overnight, replace the water with hot water again in the morning, and let them soak the rest of the day too).  Drain the chickpeas, and boil them 1-2 hours in a large stock pot with lots of water.  Strain the chickpeas again, and rinse with cold water until they’re cool enough to handle.
  2. Fire up a movie and grab a glass of wine or a few little kids and start peeling!  Garbanzo beans have a thick husk on the outside, and if you want smooth hummus, it’s got to go!  But, it is completely edible, so if you’re making hummus to satisfy personal munchies, then texture may not be a concern and you can leave it on.
  3. Once the chickpeas are prepped, throw them in the food processor along with the tahini, lemon juice, whatever other flavors you’re using, and some salt and pepper.  To roast the garlic: heat the garlic in a dry saute pan over med to med-high heat until the papers start to char and you start to smell that amazing roasted garlic aroma.  Peel and trim the cloves and toss them in the food processor too.
  4. Blend the hummus until the chickpeas are smooth.  Scrape the sides of the processor with the spatula and taste and adjust the flavors as needed.  **If you decide to use garlic powder for a quick pantry-alternative, I’ve found that garlic powder gets considerably stronger in the fridge over night, while whole, fresh garlic tends to mellow out.  Keep this in mind if you’re cooking ahead for a party! 
  5. Blend again with adjusted seasonings and flavors, and this time drizzle in Evoo until the hummus has reached a moist smoothness.  This typically takes a lot of oil (I’ve found around 7-10 Tbsp minimum), so just be prepared! Serve chilled with veggies, crackers, toast, or whatever your heart desires.
  6. ENJOY!!

Caramelized Onion and Lentil Stew

This week, the humidity left the air, the temperatures at night began to fall back down below 70, and my annual excitement for the return of Autumn has left me pumped for pumpkins, casual jackets, and apple cider!!  Fall is hands-down my favorite season, packed with the best of Summer’s thunderstorms, Spring’s tranquil temperatures, and the heavily-spiked ciders of Winter – Not to forget the colors of the trees, the return of AC-free electric bills, everybody starts wearing an acceptable amount of clothing again, and the general buzz of excitement and uncertainty as kids and adults alike get ready for another school year.

In order to celebrate the re-opening of windows and nights spent sweat-free on the porch, today I made a cool-weather stew that is filling but not too heavy (since it’s not really that cool yet).   This is a low and slow soup with a short ingredients list and a big  flavor pay-off.  Tonight, I’ll say goodbye to Summer with one last battle with my charcoal grill, but for lunch, this soup is a comforting bowl of Fall food awesomeness.  The picture doesn’t do the layered flavors of this stew justice.  I guess if you want to make it look prettier, you could use red lentils, but I personally like green lentils better in soups because they hold their shape where red lentils tend to disintegrate (and then I can’t see what I’m eating).  If you want to make it look a little fancier, I really like a small bunch of toasted almond slices on top (plays well with the hint of smokiness the caramelized onions give too).

Caramelized Onion and Lentil Stew:

Savory with a touch of spicy - This stew makes me grateful I don't have to eat cafeteria food anymore.

Equipment:

  • Big stainless steel soup pot with lid, large saucepan, wooden spoon, knife, cutting board, stove top
Ingredients:
  • 2 large yellow onions, slivered into half-moons
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2-3 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/3 cups lentils
  • 1/2 cup brown rice
  • 6 cups vegetable stock
  • Evoo
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper to taste
Directions:
  1. Warm the stock in the saucepan over medium heat.  Keep it warmed (or just barely simmering).
  2. Drizzle a Tbsp or two of evoo in the bottom of the soup pot and warm it over medium heat.  Add the slivered onions and saute 3-5 mins.  When you notice the onions are translucent, add the thyme and the red pepper flakes.  Continue to saute the onions over medium or medium low heat until they are a rich golden brown and thoroughly softened, or 15-20 mins.  If you’re worried they’re burning, don’t be afraid to lower the heat!  The name of the game with this stew is low and slow.  Stir frequently to prevent burning the onions or spices, and to keep the bottom of the pot from getting crusty.
  3. Once the onions are caramelized, add the chopped garlic, and cook about 1 minute.  Then add the warm stock, lentils, and rice to the pot.   Cover and let simmer 30-40 mins, or until the rice and lentils are tender.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  If you used good stock, the soup should have a nice depth of flavor (not be flat at all) and shouldn’t need more than a big pinch or two of salt.
  4. ENJOY!!

Mexican-Inspired Veggie Bakes

After a great success with a new cooking method that allows me to portion out meals (decreasing waste and keeping the convenience of ready-to-eat food), I want to keep this foil packet method going.  In the original post, I mentioned that cooking portions out with aluminum foil packets might lend itself to a Mexican burrito-like dish.

Go.

Mexican Veggie Bakes:

After I portioned out this one, I realized these definitely serve 6 not 4

Equipment:

  • Knife, cutting board, large saute pan with lid, large sauce pan with lid, medium pot with lid, colander, 6 1′-wide sheets of aluminum foil, stove top, oven
Ingredients:
  • 1 small-medium head of broccoli, cut into small florets
  • 2 zucchini or yellow squash, cubed
  • 1 tomato, cubed
  • 1 green bell pepper, cubed
  • 2 portobello mushrooms, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 jalapeno, with or without seeds, diced
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 cup dried red and/or black beans
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • Ground coriander
  • Cumin
  • Chili powder
  • Paprika
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • The juice of 1 lime
  • 1 Tbsp coconut oil
  • Evoo
Directions:
  1. Soak the beans overnight.  Strain and rinse.  Cook covered in a large pot of lightly salted boiling water 25-40 mins, or until tender.  Strain and set aside.
  2. Over medium heat, bring the veggie stock in the sauce pan to a boil.  Add the brown rice.  Cover, reduce the heat and let simmer until the rice is cooked and all the liquid is gone.  Fluff with a fork and set aside.
  3. Preheat the oven to 375 F.
  4. Over medium heat, melt the coconut oil in the large saute pan.  Add the broccoli, zucchini, and pepper.  Let cook 2 mins then add the onion and let cook another 2 mins, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add the garlic and jalapeno and let cook about 1 minute.  Now that the veggies are just starting to soften, stir in the coriander, cumin, chili powder, paprika, and a pinch of salt and pepper (start with about 1 tsp each, except 1/2 tsp black pepper).  Add the tomato and portobello mushrooms, cover, and let soften for about 2-4 mins.  Stir in the lime juice.  Taste-test and re-season as needed.
  6. The vegetables should now be soft, but not the very soft texture often found in burritos.  Remove from the heat.
  7. Pour a small dime-sized drop of evoo on the bottom half of one of the aluminum sheets, and rub with your fingers to coat the bottom half of your future packet.  Portion out and layer 1/6th of the rice, beans, and vegetables onto the aluminum foil.  Fold the sheet in half and seal up the edges.  Repeat until all of the ingredients are gone.
  8. Bake as many packets as needed now for 20-30 mins at 375 F, or until the veggies reach the desired softness.  Store the rest in the fridge up to a week.  When reheating from the cold fridge, allow an extra 10 mins in the oven.
  9. ENJOY!!