Monday, September 30, 2013

Retro Recipe Redux: Beef(less) Stew

I know that many of you are experiencing chilly Autumn temperatures already, and I am green with envy!  It's still warm and humid here, don't expect a significant drop in temperatures anytime soon.  But that doesn't mean I can't turn down the a/c and pretend it's cool outside, right?

I have shared this beef(less) stew recipe with you already, but it's so good, it deserves another posting.   Since I don't have a Dutch oven, I used my "spaghetti pot" for simmering, but I think it would be awesome in aslowcooker as well. Just be sure to follow the first steps, cooking the Gardein & onion separately because that keeps the "meat" from getting mushy.  Also, I had some unusually big baby carrots so I cut them into chunks instead of leaving whole, I liked it better that way because then the vegetables were uniform in size and cooked evenly. 


Beef(less) Stew photo 20130930_165242_zpsa54d4c84.jpg

Again, you can find the original recipe over at Meet the Shannons.  So many goodies over there, I could spend days browsing!

Enjoy!

Michele~



Monday Menu Planning: Week of September 30th


Good morning and happy Monday! As I post this, it is 3 am and I'm wide awake, ready to start my day.  Chip left for work a few minutes ago, I'm sipping coffee and searching for recipes.  This work schedule of his is insane, and it looks like it's going to get worse before it gets better! Due to some unforeseen project-related issues in Miami, we will be packing up and headed south on Thursday.  This is about six weeks sooner than we'd anticipated, is really throwing a wrench into our plans.  But, hey, the bills need to get paid so off we go.  In light of this, I won't be buying a whole bunch of groceries for this house, will plan the meals around what we have on hand.  I don't know exactly which days we'll be having what meal, it'll be a surprise to us all.  *grin* As usual, I'm allowing for one night of leftovers and one for eating out. 

Beef(less) Stew
Tacos
Spaghetti and "meat" balls
Indian-Spiced Slow Cooker Red Lentil Soup
"Chicken" Noodle Soup

Well, believe it or not I am off to Walmart. I have 3 cats that need transporting and only 2 kitty carriers stacked in my garage.  I refuse to pay the pet store prices so..off I go.

Have a great day!

Michele~
Indian-Spiced Slow Cooker Red Lentil Soup
Indian-Spiced Slow Cooker Red Lentil Soup
Indian-Spiced Slow Cooker Red Lentil Soup


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Retro Redux: "Tuna" Mushroom Casserole



I grew up in a home with two full time working parents. My dad worked in steel construction, Mom was a legal secretary and, eventually, a Paralegal. As an overprotected only child, I was far from being a "latch key" kid, though, and wasn't left alone until I was well into middle school. Even then, it was only during the day for a couple of hours, never at night. I think it was eighth grade when I finally persuaded my parents that I was old enough to find my way home after school, but there were conditions. No guests in the house (especially boys!), doors had to be locked, and since I was home anyway, I would contribute more to the household chores.  This included cooking dinner.  Now, my family was not very adventurous in the way of eating; meals consisted of meat/potato/vegetable with bread or rolls on the side, and casseroles were king!  Don't get me wrong, our dinners were always tasty and filling, good solid food, just nothing too fancy.  This made it very easy for me to create a basic menu plan for the nights I was in charge of cooking:  Baked, breaded chicken breasts.  Baked, breaded pork chops.  And some kind of casserole concoction, usually involving beef.  Once a year we had fresh dolphin (mahi) caught by my mom's boss, but otherwise the only seafood served was tuna, either in sandwiches or, my favorite, Tuna Casserole.  My dad still teases me about that tuna casserole, I guess I must've made it a zillion times! Given the chance, I'd still polish off the creamy, soupy concoction if not for the fact that, oh yeah, I'm vegan.  



Like many plant-based folks, I still occasionally long for some of the dishes from my pre-vegan days, but I'm not willing to sacrifice my ethics or morals for the experience.  No animal should have to die for my belly.  That doesn't mean I have to give up the flavors and memories of those favorite foods, I just need to get creative, or in this case, let someone else do it. 

 A quick Google search led me to several mock tuna casserole recipes, but this one looked most similar to the casserole I used to make.  I gathered the ingredients, threw it all together, and then waited patiently for the end result.  Would it be good enough? Could it possibly resemble the original?

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Creamy Mushroom Casserole in progress photo e294b804-97a5-485a-a431-5da59ab9ba85_zpsde2c87f1.jpg

 

Creamy Mushroom Casserole


Ingredients

  • 4 tablespoons vegan margarine, divided
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 10 ounces baby portobello mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1.5 cups veggie broth
  • 1 1/2 cups unsweetened nondairy milk (I use soy)
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • paprika, to taste
  • 1 cup canned chickpeas, drained and mashed
  • 8 ounces fusilli pasta (or shape of your choice)
  • 1 cup French fried onions (or potato chips, or 1/2 of each)

Directions


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, and prepare an 8x8" glass baking dish with a quick spray of cooking oil. Heat 1 tablespoon vegan margarine in a pan. Add onion, celery and mushrooms and saute for a few minutes. When mushrooms give off liquid, add soy sauce. Keep cooking until all vegetables are tender, turn off heat.


2. In a medium soup pot, melt the remaining 3 tablespoons vegan margarine over low heat. Stir in the flour and whisk for a few minutes. It will get thick. Start adding the broth bit by bit, whisking all the while and bring to a boil. Add the milk little by little and continue to stir and simmer.


3. Add the mushroom/celery/onion mixture and lemon juice. Season with salt, pepper and paprika. Add the mashed chickpeas a spoonful at a time to break it up evenly throughout the sauce. Add frozen peas.


4. Cook pasta according to package directions, until al dente, approximately 9 minutes. Drain and return it to the pot. Add the mushroom sauce to the pasta and stir gently to combine. Transfer the mixture to the baking dish. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 15 minutes.


5. Uncover the dish and sprinkle crushed chips and/or French fried onions on top and bake for another 5-6 minutes or so or until the top is browned and crispy.

Serving Size: 8 servings


Nutrition Info

  • Calories: 287.9
  • Fat: 10.6g
  • Carbohydrates: 45.3g
  • Protein: 7.9g 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Creamy Mushroom Casserole photo 20130925_165456_zps8b9df77a.jpg

 The Verdict:  Omni-hunny had no fond memories of 1970's casseroles, so he declined a taste.  I was left on my own with this whole Pyrex full of..perfection! Rich, creamy sauce mixed with mushrooms and pasta, the epitome of comfort food! The only thing missing was, of course, the fishy taste of the tuna which is why I'm renaming this Creamy Mushroom Casserole.  Note: I made a couple of small changes such as the addition of peas, thought they would provide much-needed veggies as well as a splash of color.  I used rotini-shaped pasta instead of fusilli. Also, I found the sauce to be a tiny bit more watery than I'd like so next time I'll cut back on the vegetable broth.  Otherwise, 5 stars on this dish! Chip really doesn't know what he's missing, and at this point I'm not sure I'll share! Alas, due to the high fat content, this is not a meal I can enjoy very often, at least not without expanding my waistline, but it certainly hit the spot on a day I wanted some comfort food.

We'll be headed down south for the weekend, not sure how much cooking I'll be doing. I might just take advantage of the numerous veg-friendly restaurants down there..shrug..either way, you know I'll be snapping pics and sharing stories here. Hope you'll come back and visit me!

Have a great day,

Michele



Wednesday, September 25, 2013

On My Hearth: "Copycat" Amy's Tofu Scramble


Good morning! Hope everyone's day is off to a great start. I am definitely a morning person, am often up before sunrise.  I love to read, putter around on the computer, etc when the house is quiet and no one else is awake.  It's so peaceful.  Loki and I also enjoy taking our walks at the break of day, before it's too hot and we have the local park mostly to ourselves. 

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When I first became a vegan, breakfast was the hardest transition for me.  My standard morning meal had been my own breakfast sandwich creation: an over-easy egg, a veggie sausage patty and a slice of veggie cheese between a light English muffin. I ate this almost every day. So, now what? Even though I like oatmeal, it doesn't always fill me up enough to last throughout the morning, and for some reason I consider it a cold-weather food, not suitable for the constant heat here in Florida.  On someone's recommendation, I tried the Amy's Tofu Scramble, and I was hooked! I stocked up on this little frozen package of deliciousness, enjoyed it thoroughly.  However, tasty as it is, this meal is processed, a bit expensive, and very high in fat! (19g, yikes!)  I had to find an alternative.  I tried many other tofu scramble recipes, but none compared to the veggie-full yummy-ness of Amy's.  What to do?

Well, I think I've found the solution.  I happened to stumble upon this recipe over at Sparkpeople, and with a bit of tweaking (eliminating oil, adding more vegetables), I made it my own.  While not exactly the same as the commercial version, this one is good enough.  Quite so, in fact.

Copycat Amy's Tofu Scramble photo 20130924_083224_zps3750a049.jpg

Copycat Amy's Tofu Scramble


Ingredients

  • 15 oz extra-firm tofu
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 medium zucchini, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 T salsa
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Drain & press tofu, removing as much water as possible.
  2. Heat a little water or vegetable broth in skillet. Crumble drained tofu into pan. Sprinkle with chili powder and cumin. Saute until desired crispness, making sure to scrape up browned bits of spice.
  3. Remove from pan and set aside on plate. Heat a little more water or vegetable broth in same pan. Add zucchini and onion. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Allow to saute for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add frozen corn and spinach, cook until heated through. Stir in tofu and heat for 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in cilantro. Top each serving with 2T salsa.
  4. Feel free to add other vegetables such as spinach, carrot, cooked potato, etc. to make it your own.
  5. To add more spice, top with a drizzle of Sriracha sauce.
Serving Size: Makes 4 servings



Nutrition Info

Calories: 107.7
  • Total Fat: 2.5 g
  • Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
  • Sodium: 66.5 mg
  • Total Carbs: 12.9 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 2.6 g
  • Protein: 10.6 g
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Verdict: I absolutely love this scramble.  It's hearty, especially when "bumped up" with extra veggies and served with a side of whole wheat or Ezekiel toast.  I'm saving a ton of fat & calories, that's what really matters.  I make a batch, divide into individual containers and I'm set for a few days of effortless breakfasts!

Tonight I'll be making a re-do of a popular comfort food classic, "Tuna" Casserole, so please stop by tomorrow for the recipe and review!

Have a wonderful day..

Michele~

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

On My Hearth: Vegetarian Chili & Cornbread

In honor of Mom's birthday, I decided to dedicate this week's menu to some of her favorite foods, those that remind me of my childhood.  First up: Vegetarian Chili.  When I was a little girl, Mom would cook up a pot of chili on Friday evening and we'd "eat off" it all weekend long.  Sometimes she'd make cornbread to go alongside, but more often than not we'd simply use fat slices of white bread for dunking.  Now, of course Mom's version contained ground beef, but I've done my best to replicate her recipe, such as it is, to make it my own.  This is so easy, you really can't even call it a recipe, I just dump in whatever ingredients look good to me at the time.  Today I used some leftover taco "meat," a couple cans of tomatoes, and cooked kidney beans.  Chip likes to top his with veggie sour cream and cheddar, I go for a slice of avocado.

Veggie Chili photo 20130923_172012_zps627fd6a9.jpg

Speaking of cornbread, I've tried several vegan recipes over the past year and have yet to find my favorite.  They are either too dry, too flat, not sweet enough, etc.  This one by Jazzy Vegetarian, however, was perfect!  While I don't cook with oil everyday, I think sometimes a dish calls for just a tad. Now, this bread is a little sweet due to the banana & brown sugar, but I think it's a nice accompaniment to the spicy chili.

Hope your week is off to a great start..

Michele~


Monday, September 23, 2013

Happy Birthday, Mom

Today would have been my Mom's 73rd Birthday. She passed away at 68 years of age from lung cancer, still so full of life and love..she was taken from us much too soon.

Mom, 1980's photo 405388_3202399823365_637568552_n.jpg

Bathing Beauty Mom photo 224370_2015375388496_5240201_n.jpg

I am going to take a day off from blogging, no menu planning or recipe sharing, just a quiet day of reflection and remembrance.

Blessings,

Michele

Saturday, September 21, 2013

On My Hearth: Buffalo Chick'n Sandwich & Tomato Soup


What a nice day I've had, how about you? Chip and I ran a couple of errands, tackled some house chores, and squeezed in a bit of reading time. I got up so early, though, was ready for dinner at 5pm! I had planned on making grilled "cheese" sandwiches to serve alongside tomato soup, but my grocery store didn't have any vegan cheese in stock.  What they did have, however, was Frank's Hot Sauce on sale..hmm..I've been craving something hot & spicy, and since we had Gardein Chick'n Cutlets in the fridge, it didn't take long for me to come up with this:

I mixed up about a cup of the hot sauce, added some melted Earth Balance margarine, then tossed in the cooked patties.  I then returned the patties to the oven for a few more minutes, making them nice & crispy.  So delicious! Not something I would eat every day, of course, but a nice treat.

Buffalo Chick'n Sandwich photo 20130921_173647_zps34ce3449.jpg

The Tomato Soup with Spaghetti Squash is from Happy Herbivore, such a nice flavorful soup for such low calories & fat!

Tomato Soup with Spaghetti Squash photo 20130921_170643_zps19014dc5.jpg

Chip and I are going out tonight to see a band, am sure I'll have a couple cocktails so good thing I saved some calories! *wink*

Hope you're having a good weekend so far..

Michele~

Friday, September 20, 2013

On My Hearth: Butternut Tribute Stew


Hello and Happy Friday!

Just a quickie post to share with you last night's dinner. I had decided on Robin Robertson's Butternut Tribute Stew, but since we had errands to run that were going to take up a better portion of the day, I prepared this recipe in the morning and poured into the slow cooker before we left, turned to the Warm setting. When we returned home in the evening, we were greeted with a warm & spicy aroma, what a lovely welcome! I put the final touches on the dish, ladled it into bowls and served a nice hunk of fresh bread alongside. So delicious! If you're already experiencing chilly Autumn-like temperatures (lucky!), this dish will be especially appreciated.

Butternut Tribute Stew photo 20130920_112725_zps90bb2f19.jpg

Please visit Robin's site for this recipe as well as many others, I hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Have a wonderful weekend..

Michele~

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Guest Post: Hilda's Veggie Vegetarian Chili

Tonight I dedicate this post to my good friend Hilda.  Not only is she smart, beautiful and sassy, she is also a dedicated animal rights advocate, working tirelessly on various issues and causes.








With such a big heart for animals, it's no surprise that Hilda decided to take her compassionate way of living one step further by going vegetarian. Eleven days now without meat, I'm so proud of her! She sent me her first "official" veg-friendly recipe, a Veggie Vegetarian Chili. Doesn't it look amazing?! Recipe inspiration can be found here at Allrecipes, love that Hilda has served it over rice, such a pretty presentation!

Hilda's Veggie Vegetarian Chili photo CAM00435_zpsdee20589.jpg

Thank you, Hilda, for everything you do for the animals. I'm honored to be your friend!

 xoxox

Michele

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

On My Hearth: Taco Tuesday

 

My middle daughter works for a popular Mexican restaurant which is well known for it's Taco Tuesday specials.  Over the years our whole family has taken on the habit of eating tacos on Tuesday, partly out of sympathy for Lindsey (it's crazy busy in that place!) but also just because we all love tacos so, why not? Here's my favorite way to make everyone's favorite hand-held Mexican meal.

First, the shell.  As much as I love my wraps, when it comes time for tacos, I want crunch.  Since many traditional shells are higher in fat than I like, I've taken to making my own salad shell using this handy-dandy pan set. This way I can control what kind of tortilla I am using, whether it be fat free, whole wheat, etc.  I love it!

Taco Salad Shells in Progress photo 20130918_121323_zpsce81fc7b.jpg

Next, the "meat" filling.  While Chip enjoys one made from Boca veggie crumbles, I prefer a bean mixture.  The Taco Bean recipe below was inspired by Robin Robertson, from her Vegan on the Cheap cookbook.

Taco Tuesday photo 20130918_122858_zps71291219.jpg

Then, of course, we have the toppings. Chip is traditional with his (vegan) cheese & sour cream, I go for avocado and maybe a dash of hot sauce.  Either way, the result is scrumptious!

09.18.13 Taco Salad photo 20130918_123332_zps927d8f46.jpg

Taco Beans


Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups cooked black beans (or beans of your choice)
  • 1.5 cups cooked pinto beans (or beans of your choice)
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 cup salsa

Directions

  1. In a large saucepan, combine the beans, 1 cup of salsa, and the chili powder. Use a fork or potato masher to mash a portion of the beans. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally to heat through, for 5 to 7 minutes. Keep warm.
  2. Use as a filling for taco salad or burritos, topping with tomatoes, lettuce, avocado, salsa, etc.

Makes approximately 6 servings


Nutrition Info (as calculated by Sparkpeople)
  • Calories: 130.1
  • Fat: 0.7g
  • Carbohydrates: 24.3g
  • Protein: 8.0g
 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

So yummy, and so healthy, I look forward to Tuesdays! Do you have a similar weekly tradition?

Have a great day,

Michele~

Monday, September 16, 2013

On My Hearth: Slow Cooker Leek and Potato Soup

Before I share dinner with you, let me first mention breakfast.  Using Happy Herbivore's recipe as inspiration, I threw together a little Mexican Tofu Scramble. I left out the mustard because it tastes weird to me in a breakfast food, added some spinach and mushrooms to bulk up the veggies, served alongside whole wheat toast and sliced tomatoes.  Yum!

Mexican Tofu Scramble photo 20130916_100550_zpsa608a3b2.jpg

So, as for dinner.  I tweaked this recipe a tiny bit, came up with a delicious soup that was perfect for a lazy-feeling-kinda-sick Monday dinner.  While preparing the soup, I baked two loaves of Beer Bread, shared one with my next door neighbor.  She just reported that her husband has eaten half the loaf by himself, ha! I tell you all the time, I hate processed foods and limit them as much as possible, but this bread is so good and so easy, it's worth an occasional "cheat."


Beer Bread in Progress photo 20130916_115730_zpse6e02df2.jpg

Slowcooker Leek and Potato Soup photo 20130916_181246_zpsb1eaa5d9.jpg 

 

Slow Cooker Leek and Potato Soup


Ingredients

  • 2 large leeks, washed, ends trimmed, thinly sliced
  • 4 large russet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 3 carrots, washed and chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 to 6 cups vegetable broth, enough to cover the vegetables
  • fresh parsley for garnish

Directions

  1. Place the leeks, potatoes, carrots, celery, and garlic in the slow cooker pot.
  2. Add in the vegetable broth, just to cover the vegetables.
  3. Cover and cook on HIGH for 4 hours, or LOW for 6 hours.
  4. Puree the soup with either an immersion blender, or a food processor (in batches). For a chunkier soup, use a potato masher.
  5. Ladle the soup into bowls.
  6. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Garnish with fresh parsley and shredded vegan cheese (optional, not included in nutrition analysis)
Number of Servings: 6




Nutrition Info (as calculated by Sparkpeople)

  • Calories: 229.3
  • Fat: 2.5g
  • Carbohydrates: 46.6g
  • Protein: 5.7g 
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Verdict:  Vegan Gypsy says: Super-yummy! I served mine plain, without the cheese, just a few sprigs of parsley and a twist of freshly-ground black pepper.  I used the immersion blender to make the consistency smooth-ish; next time I'll try the potato masher for a chunkier texture. 

Omni-Hunny says:  It was good.  (He's a man of few words)

 Well, Loki's here begging for a little walk so I'm going to drag myself up & out.  Hope everyone had a wonderful Monday!

Michele~

Monday Menu Planning: Week of September 16



Good morning! How was your weekend? I had a lovely time visiting with my kids who drove over from Gainesville. We did a little shopping, a little cooking, and quite a bit of eating!


Kristyn at the Flea Market photo 20130915_120859_zps9ffa42ed.jpg
Garden Shopping

Dinner Wine 09.15.13 photo IMG_20130915_141418_zpseeb6c791.jpg
A little wine for the recipe, a little for the cook..

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Sunday Family Dinner
Our dinner menu featured Baked Ziti and Garlic Bread from the Jazzy Vegetarian, big green salad on the side.  I must say, everything was delicious and it was so much fun cooking for my kids again! I sent all of the leftovers home with them, hope they'll enjoy it as much the second time around.

Here's what I'll be dishing up this week: 

Southwest Zucchini Pie
Butternut Tribute Stew 
Tomato Soup with Spaghetti Squash
Slowcooker Potato Leek Soup
Mushroom Stroganoff

Wow, I notice there's an abundance of "comfort food" on this week's menu..hmm..I feel a cold/sore throat coming on so I guess that's why.  Nothing like a big bowl of soup when you're feeling under the weather, right?

I'm off to make my grocery list and finish my morning chores.  Have a wonderful day!

Michele~


Monday, September 9, 2013

Monday Menu Planning


Good morning and happy Monday! I know that's an oxymoron for some folks but since I don't work outside the home, the beginning of the workweek means an empty house and a return to a structured schedule, something I typically enjoy.

This week I'll be making a couple of the recipes I didn't get around to last week, as well as a few new ones. 

Monday: Red Beans & Rice
Tuesday: Tacos
Wednesday: New Orleans' Style White Beans 
Thursday:  Crockpot Callaloo Soup 
Friday:  Pizza

How was your weekend? I have been feeling a bit under the weather so I didn't do much cooking, or anything else for that matter, over the past few days.   We ate out a couple of times, enjoyed a nice happy hour..


took Chip's vintage car out for a drive to New Smyrna Beach..




but otherwise I relaxed around the house eating leftover soup, sandwiches and quickie meals. I did make a homemade pizza which tasted much better than it looked..grin...just dough, fresh tomatoes & basil, yum!



Well, I think I hear the dryer calling my name, better get moving.  Have a wonderful day!

Michele~


 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

On My Hearth: Bell Peppers Stuffed with Salsa Rice and Beans

Bell Peppers with Salsa Rice and Beans, Ingredients photo 20130904_110824_zps9405002e.jpg

I made use of my Crock-pot again yesterday, really love that I can put dinner together in the wee morning hours while the house is quiet (read: no tv blasting!) & Chip is still at work, have it ready to eat whenever he feels like it.  Of course, I'm never completely alone, always have a kitty or two to keep me company in the ktichen.


Jackson, my cooking companion photo 20130904_111133_zpseef55b79-1.jpg
My trusty cooking companion. Every kitchen witch should have one!

The recipe is from Fresh from the Vegetarian Slow Cooker by the awesome Robin Robertson. There was an error on the original site, amount of kidney beans was listed incorrectly, and I also tweaked the recipe just a bit by, once again, doubling the amount of spice.  So, I present my version to you here.  


Bell Peppers with Salsa Rice and Beans, in Progress2 photo 20130904_111927_zpsc0b5e3a8.jpg

 

Bell Peppers Stuffed with Salsa Rice and Beans



Ingredients


  • 4 large bell peppers (whichever color you prefer)
  • 2 1/2 cups cooked white or brown rice
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked or one 15 1/2-ounce can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup tomato salsa
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • One 14.5-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

Directions

  1. Cut the tops off the bell peppers and remove and discard the stems, seeds, and membranes. Arrange the peppers upright in a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the rice, beans, salsa, scallions, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix well. Fill the pepper cavities evenly with the rice mixture, packing lightly. Replace the pepper tops.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the tomatoes with the cumin, oregano, sugar, and salt and pepper to taste. Pour over and around the peppers in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours, or until the peppers are tender but still hold their shape.

Serving Size: Serves 4


Nutrition Info (as calculated by Sparkpeople)
  • Calories: 323.3
  • Fat: 2.5g
  • Carbohydrates: 67.4g
  • Protein: 12.1g
Original recipe from Fresh From the Vegetarian Slow Cooker by Robin Robertson

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Bell Peppers Stuffed with Salsa Rice and Beans photo 20130904_163120_zps6961b0d5.jpg
Not very pretty but oh-so-tasty!

The Verdict: We both really enjoyed this dish! I'm glad I doubled the amount of spices, though, as I think the original version might have been a tad bland for me.  The peppers were cooked just enough, didn't get mushy and fall apart as has happened to me in the past, and they were stuffed so full that one pepper plus a slice of bread was just the right amount for dinner. I'm looking forward to leftovers!

Have a great day,

Michele~

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

On My Hearth: Crockpot Eggplant and Tomato Stew with Garbanzo Beans


Last night's dinner consisted of Crockpot Eggplant and Tomato Stew with Garbanzo Beans and fresh bread. Both were absolutely delicious! 

I love making my own bread but don't really like the end result of loaves baked in my bread machine, they have a strange consistency and I just can't get past that weird shape! I saw this recipe and decided to give it a try, appreciated the fact that I was able to use the machine for the kneading/rising, then pop the dough into a loaf pan for the final rise and bake.  Perfect! 

Best Fresh Bread photo 20130903_165143_zpsb8579bea.jpg

As for the stew, I wasn't sure how I'd feel about the eggplant. While I've yet to meet a vegetable I don't love, my only experience with eggplant has been the breaded Italian variety.  The end result was a pleasant surprise! The stew was thick & hearty, made 6 very generous portions.  Because I enjoy strong flavors/spices, I doubled the amount of dried herbs in the recipe, and topped with a sprinkle of vegan parmesan when serving.  A thick slice of crusty bread allowed me to soak up every single drop! So yummy, will definitely be making this one again.  

Crockpot Eggplant and Tomato Stew with Garbanzo Beans photo 20130903_165328_zps3b5aecd8.jpg 

Today's plan is to catch up on a couple of household chores and perhaps take Loki for a nice long walk.  It's so hot outside, am dreaming of cooler autumn temps! 

Have a wonderful day,

Michele~ 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Monday Menu Planning (a little late)

Good Tuesday morning! I wasn't able to post a menu plan yesterday, sorry! Chip is back to his nighttime work schedule, waking at 2 am and returning sometime in the late morning/early afternoon.  I'm not thrilled about it but after a couple weeks of disjointed sleep and the resulting grumpiness, I've resigned myself to the fact that I'm better off adapting to his sleep pattern as much as possible.  So, we were in bed by 9 pm, up at 2 am, and here I am. I'm sure I'll be crashing later, but in the meantime, might as well be productive!

When he works nights, his eating preferences change.  He'll sometimes want breakfast at noon, dinner at 8 pm, etc.  I just never know.  This is where my Crock-pot comes in handy.  I'll be making a few slowcooker recipes this week in addition to one for my pressure cooker.  Though the weather is still summer-like, neither of us mind soups & stews at any time of year. And, since we finally toted my large freezer up here, I can package up the leftovers and freeze for another day. 

Here are the recipes I plan to make this week:


I will be baking fresh loaves of bread to serve alongside, and maybe even a vegan dessert or two, so please check back for updates. 

Have a wonderful day!

Michele~

Monday, September 2, 2013

Happy Labor Day!

Good morning and Happy Labor Day! After a long, hot afternoon of driving, we arrived in Ormond by dinner time last night.  I daresay we looked like the Clampetts, with our trailer all loaded down as it was! Chip's old Maxima really shouldn't pull this sort of thing anymore, but even with 200+ thousand miles on it, the car just keeps on going! In addition to furnishings for my kids, we also brought down my big freezer.  No reason for it sit down south in the empty house when I can make much better use of it up here. 
 
The Clampetts photo 20130901_125205_zps62a931f7.jpg

After a quick unload and visit with the kitties, we felt deserving of a cocktail so off we went in search of Happy Hour.  Caribbean Jacks on the Halifax River was the perfect fix for frazzled nerves, the beautiful view and breeze off the water was a wonderful welcome home. 
 
Caribbean Jacks View of the Halifax River photo 20130901_185129_zps71216604.jpg

Unfortunately, the restaurant menu contains mostly seafood dishes, nothing veg-friendly, so we didn't stay for a meal. We really didn't feel like cooking at that point so we just grabbed a couple of tacos to eat at home.  As much as I dislike fast food, I do make an exception for Taco Bell. Their crunchy bean tacos prepared Fresco style are delicious and not too unhealthy. 

Today's plans have yet to be determined, but since I didn't make all of the recipes from last week's menu plan, I'm sure one of those dishes will be on my hearth.  I'll work on a new menu sometime today and perhaps post again later.  For now, I hear a fresh cup of coffee and a new book calling my name. 

For those of you who are fortunate to have the day off, enjoy your well-deserved holiday! 

Michele~

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Tales from the Road: Ft Lauderdale & Hollywood, FL

Good morning,and happy Labor Day weekend! We are in South Florida, spent the past couple of days dealing with household chores and appointments.  We did manage to squeeze in a little bit of fun, starting with lunch in Ft Lauderdale at the Green Bar & Kitchen, an all-vegan cafe.

While I enjoyed a beer and Living (raw) Lasagna...

New Planet Beer photo 20130830_123955_zps308ea615.jpg

Living Lasagna photo IMG_20130830_124718_zps5ca15215.jpg

Chip decided to have beer & (raw) Raspberry Cheesecake. Not the healthiest choice..grin..but he enjoyed it.


  Raw Raspberry Cheesecake & Organic Beer, why not? photo 20130830_124527_zpsc6f50e16.jpg

 On Saturday, we decided to visit the beach where we grew up, Hollywood Beach. 

Hollywood Beach, FL photo IMG_20130831_105504_zps0ffd56dd.jpg


After a little stroll we enjoyed a delicious lunch at Whiskey Tango, a cool restaurant/bar in downtown Hollywood. The Gardein Buffalo Chick'n Wrap was so yummy! 

Gardein Buffalo Chick'n Wrap photo 20130831_112517_zps495b8140.jpg

This morning we are packing up the trailer, bringing more of Kristyn's belongings to her in Gainesville. We hope to be on the road soon and back home in Ormond by dinnertime. 

Hope you're all having a lovely weekend so far! 

 Michele~