Tag Archives: Vegan

Quinoa & Veggie Stuffed Winter Squash.

To make up for my Stromboli post so close to all of those New Year’s resolutions to be healthier, workout, and eat with more thought, I have made you this awesome protein and veggie rich dish. I still have so many winter squash kicking around from the garden this past summer and we are on a squash cooking rampage, so what better than filling it with more veg and the best whole grain around, quinoa. This dish is vegan and dairy free, though I give some suggestions below for dressing up should you want to.

Quinoa & Veggie Stuffed Winter Squash. Makes 2-3 whole squash.


2-3 roasted winter squash (cooking instructions below, this varies slightly from my standard recipe)

1/2 C uncooked quinoa (cooking instructions below, I do this the day before to make for faster preparation the night of)

1 1/4 – 1 3/4 C water

1-2 T olive or coconut oil

4 oz broccoli, broken into small florets (you can use the stalks too, I freeze mine to use in soup later)

1 small red onion, diced

6 crimini or white mushrooms, diced

1 large carrot, quartered the long way and diced

1/4 t kosher salt

1/4 t fresh cracked black pepper

1/2 t dried thyme, crushed

2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1 T butter or non-dairy replacement, optional

Roast Squash Process

Preheat oven to 425. Cut squash in half and clean them. Place all squash cut side down on a baking sheet with sides. Fill sheet with water and place in the oven for 35 minutes. Start to work on the quinoa while this cooks, unless it is precooked, then get to work on the veggies.

Quinoa Process

Place quinoa and 1 1/4 cup water in a pan and bring to a boil. Boil for 15 minutes adding more water, a little at a time, if the grain gets too dry. Stir frequently while cooking. Cover and remove from heat. Allow to sit for 20 minutes or more. If making this ahead of time, refrigerate in an air tight container. Now get started on your veggies!

Stuffing Process

Preheat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add all of the veggies and spices expect the garlic. Sauté for 8 minutes (12-15 if you like your veg on the very soft side, I prefer mine to have some tooth to them), stirring frequently. Turn off heat and add garlic. Toss to mix and allow to sit for two minutes, stirring once. Toss with the quinoa.

When the squash is done, remove it from the oven and discard the cooking water. Place the squash cut side up, add 1/4 tablespoon of butter to each squash if you want, and fill with quinoa mixture. Reduce the oven to 350 degrees, put the squash back in the oven. Bake for 10-15 minutes, just to get everything good and warm (unless you added cheese, then go 15-20). Remove and serve.

Variations: Goat cheese, or any other cheese mixed in with quinoa and sprinkled on top. Served with your favorite pan gravy (this is how we had it…yum!).



Filed under Casseroles/Bakes, Dairy Free, Edible Plants, From the Garden, Grains/Rice, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

“Super Food” Kale Chips.

With Christmas travel coming up, the hubs and I were seeking some healthy snacks that keep well without refrigeration and that will keep us away from fast food temptations. We were browsing around at the store and saw some kale chips that looked really good. The only problem was that for a 3 ounce bag of the healthy goodness, they get you for $6.99, so yeah, we were not going to buy those. So instead we ran around the grocery store collecting ingredients to make our own.

Here is what we came up with. It is one of those recipes where I wish I was a dietitian so I would know more about just how good it is for me.

“Super Food” Kale Chips.


1 large golden beet (about .5 lb)

1/2 lb kale (I used the pretty purple kind)

1/4 lb spinach

1 t kosher salt

1 t granulated garlic

1/2 t chili powder

1 T coconut oil (heated to liquify in the microwave)

1 t toasted sesame seed oil

2 T chickpea flour, heaping (I used Bob’s Red Mill)

1/8 C flax seeds (I used brown)


Roast golden beet at 400 degrees until soft (about 1 hour) — the easiest way to do this is to set the beet, skin and all, in the center of a piece of foil and drizzle with olive oil. Close up foil and place the beet in the middle of the oven rack. When the beet is soft, remove and allow to cool in foil for about 20 minutes, or until it is cool enough to handle. Cut the ends off the beet and he skin should peel right off with your fingers. If it is stubborn, just use a vegetable peeler.

Prep kale and spinach by washing them. Remove the woody ends of the kale stems, but leave the rest there. Rough chop the kale so that the food processor doesn’t have too hard a time with the big leaves. Add all ingredients except the chickpea flour and flax seeds to the food processor and process until everything is completely chopped up. You may need to rock the processor just a little to get all of the kale leaves broken down.

Move the mixture to a large mixing bowl and  add the flour and flax seeds. Mix to combine. Add one tablespoon at a time to your dehydrator trays. Be sure to use the solid trays. Flatten the dollops and make sure you space them so they are not touching.

My dehydrator only has an on setting. Even the manufacturers website and manual do not state the temperature that it dehydrates at. But you can see what I use here. I think that it is about 120 degrees. We used two different methods for measuring the temp and that is the average we are getting. I dehydrated my chips for 10 hours, turning after 7, but I think they were too thick and turned them only to make them cook faster. If you make them thinner, I would bet that you are sitting at about 6-8.



Filed under Dairy Free, DIY, Gluten Free, Grain Free, Nuts/Seeds, Outside of the Box, Snacks, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Root Vegetable Minestrone.

I still have a bunch of spring vegetables kicking around that need to get used up. Even without the root cellar everything has kept surprisingly well in the ground or the refrigerator. Soup is always a great option for using up extra veggies. I have never made a minestrone before today, but it seemed a perfect fit for my needs. According to Wikipedia, Minestrone is  “the big soup, the one with many ingredients” and it often includes “beans, onions, celery, carrots, stock and tomatoes.” How perfect for me that I just so happen to have all of the above on hand!

Root Vegetable Minestrone.


2 T olive oil

4 small turnips, peeled and diced

1 large kohlrabi, peeled and diced

2 carrots, peeled and diced

2 stalks of celery, diced

1 large potato, diced

1 small onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 32 oz pack of vegetable stock (I used mushroom)

1 t dried oregano, crushed

1 t dried thyme, crushed

1 bay leaf

1 t kosher salt

1 t fresh ground black pepper

1 15oz can diced tomatoes

1 15oz can of vegetarian beans, drained and rinsed (I used kidney)

Heat a large stock pot over medium heat. Add the first 8 ingredients (through garlic) and sautee for 10 minutes, stirring often. Add broth and spices and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered over medium-low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add tomatoes and beans and simmer for 20 more minutes, covered. Adjust salt and pepper as needed. Remove bay leaf and serve. Garnish with parmesan cheese or some croutons.


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Filed under Dairy Free, Edible Plants, From the Garden, Gluten Free, Grain Free, Italian Inspired, Soup/Stew, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Eggplant Caponata and a Little bit of Grandma.

I don’t often make other’s recipes, but my cousin Audra gave me this recipe to try because I just don’t like eggplant! No matter how I prepare it, it just does not get a long with my palette…nor the texture with my mouth. She said this is the one, the one her small sons will eat…I figure if the kids will, I should! And you know what? It was wonderful.

So I wanted to try this recipe, out of a West Shore Symphony cookbook…for those of us from Michigan we know the Muskegon based group as a symphony orchestra that has been performing musical pieces for the last 70 years. Now, while I have not heard the ensemble in person, anyone from Muskegon holds a certain regard in my heart as it was the birthplace of my father and the past home of my fantastic and inspring grandparents.

My grandma never made me eggplant, but she is THE inspiration for my passions. Food, recipes, garden, snapping beans, making cookies, baking, my grandma was one of the most wonderful women in my life. She was so sweet and so wrinkly, I remember the day when I fit neatly beneath the crook of her arm pit, back before I won the race of height. I will never forget the smallest of details about her. I truly believe she instilled in me a sense of urban homesteading…a woman who truly homesteaded…and moonshined…moved to the city and gardened in limited space, to raise 7 children and please a husband!! I think my soft spot is mushy over this woman!

I often wonder what my grandma would think about my gardens, my hard work, my meals. I think about it as I consume this eggplant dish, provided by another of my grandmother’s offspring!

So, we made Caponata. I had to do a little research on this one to see what we were getting ourselves into. This is a traditional Sicilian dish served most often as a side. The key is to keep the dish undercooked to maintain the integrity of the ingredients. All of them are so fresh and bright, but have the tendancy to turn to mush when hot heat is applied to them for too long. In typical fashion, though I set out to use the recipe supplied, I have wandered quite a bit here. However, I think we still succeeded in keeping the integrity of the dish insomuch as we have made Caponata and used eggplant!

Just opening the book that chronicles the life of my grandma makes me smile. I am sure there is much, much more to come.


1 large eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes

4 T olive oil

1 small red onion, diced (no more than 1/2 cup)

3 stalks celery, thinly chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 large tomato, seeded and cubed

1/2 C black olives, quartered (about half a can)

2 T red wine vinegar (you could use white or champagne too)

2 T slivered almonds

Pepper to taste

Peel and cube eggplant, placing it in a colander in the sink or over a bowl. Season generously with salt and allow to sit for 30 minutes to one hour. It is important with eggplant that you remove the excess liquid from it or else it will become quite soggy. While your eggplant is draining, prepare the rest of your veggies. Rinse the eggplant well to avoid your dish being too salty. Pat dry.

Cook eggplant in 2 T of olive oil over medium-high heat in a single layer for about 5-8 minutes. You want to brown it on each side, so flip these as they cook. Remove from pan and set aside. If you have too much eggplant to cook in a single layer do two batches adding more oil as needed to keep the pan well greased. Reduce heat to medium and add remaining olive oil and onions to the pan. Sauté for 3 minutes. Add garlic and celery and cook for 2 minutes more. Remove from heat.

Add tomatoes, olives, eggplant, vinegar, and pepper.  Mix well. Add almonds and allow to cool slightly before serving. If you want to make this a complete dish you can toss with some cooked quinoa to add whole grain and protein. Or you can cool and refrigerate and serve as a cold salad the next day. You can also accompany with a tablespoon or so of fresh parsley or tarragon.


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Filed under Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Grain Free, Midwest Inspired, Side Dish, Vegan, Vegetarian

Grilled Garlicky Smashed Potatoes.

I recently read this recipe on Serious Eats. It is so much fun. We have been grilling potato sticks for some time, even made grilled potato salad, but this is new for us. It was fun to have potatoes on the grill in a new way. That said, I did have one complication…the smashing part! The potatoes just fell apart when I used my hand, so I resorted to using heavy bottomed glass, which actually worked rather well.

I see many variations of this side dish in my future, especially with summer right around the corner. These potatoes could even be substituted for the more time consuming ones I use in my grilled potato salad (yes I will share the recipe, though it is not my own…it was too good to change!). This was just a great, healthy side.


12 baby red potatoes

2 T olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, minced

2 T chive, finely chopped

salt and pepper to taste

Scrub potatoes and put them in a pan. Cover them with cold water, just to the top of the potatoes. Heat over high heat to a boil and maintain the boil for 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and cool on a cutting board. Allow to cool about 10-20 minutes. While the potatoes cool, combine the rest of the ingredients in a dish and set aside. When the potatoes are cool enough to handle smash with the palm of your hand or the bottom of a jar, glass, or measuring cup taking care not to smash them apart. You want the skins to continue holding them as one potato.

Grill over medium-high heat for 5 minutes on each side, basting with the garlic oil.

Enjoy with hamburgers!

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Filed under Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Grain Free, Grilling, Potatoes, Side Dish, Vegan, Vegetarian

Quick Weekday Chili.

Chili does not have to an all day ordeal. We very frequently make chili after work as a quick but healthy dinner option. Our chili is also most often vegetarian. Beans, veggies and spices. This one pot dish makes for easy clean up and a full belly. The best part is that we almost always have left overs for lunch at work the next day. If you don’t want to eat chili all week you can also freeze this. It thaws beautifully for a midweek dinner or lunch later in the month!

We make a lot of variations of this recipe. Some take a little longer, some take a lot. If we add lentils the time seems to lengthen quite a bit. Quinoa, not so much. Either way you can add any whole grain you want, just make sure to account for cooking time….boiling the whole time speeds things along. In any case, this is the pared down, quickest version of this recipe we do.

This recipe makes about 6 bowls of chili but is easily doubled if you are serving a crowd or want to freeze some for later.


1 can black beans

1 can kidney beans

1 can diced tomatoes

1 T olive or canola oil

1 medium onion, diced

1 clove of garlic, minced

1 green pepper, diced

1 jalapeno, diced, optional (seed and de-vein it if you want to control the heat)

2 T homemade chili seasoning

1 10 oz bag of frozen corn

Salt and pepper

Heat oil in 3 quart stock pot over medium heat. Add onions and saute for 3-5 minutes. Add garlic and continue to cook for 1 minute longer. Add all remaining ingredients to the pan.

Simmer over medium-low heat for 20 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve with your favorite chili toppings and maybe a side of some corn bread!


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Filed under Beans, Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Soup/Stew, Vegan, Vegetarian

Veggie Yakisoba.

I LOVE yakisoba. Fried noodles. Mixed with cabbage, carrots, amazing sauce. The best yakisoba I have had is at the Portland Saturday Market. I go to the market just to eat noodles. But as with many other Asian dishes, I struggle with replicating them in the restaurant way that makes them soooo good.

I have an idea, whenever I try to make fried rice or something like yakisoba I CROWD the pan. When you go out for Chinese or Japanese food, they make it to order. They cook one serving at a time. But this is not how we cook at home. We cook to get it made, get the family fed, get the dishes done. So tonight I cooked this noodle dish one serving at a time to replicate the scrumptious, delightful yakisoba that I get at the market. The other problem, of course with replication of foods made in restaurants, is equipment. For some reason they just don’t make residential kitchens the same as commercials ones!! Ha. But I think that avoiding the crowded pan will help with this too.

Veggie Yakisoba.

Ingredients (Per serving…these are restaurant sized servings, one served us both!)

10 oz fresh Yakisoba noodles

3 oz green cabbage, roughly chopped

1 medium carrot, julienned

1 oz bean sprouts

2 T peanut, coconut or olive oil

2 T soy sauce

1 t toasted sesame oil

1 T rice vinegar


Prepare vegetables and set aside. Combine soy sauce, sesame oil and vinegar in a small bowl with fork. Set aside. Heat oil in large saute pan or wok over medium-high heat. Add vegetables and sauce, move veggies to the edges of the pan and add noodles. Cover for 5 minutes. Remove cover and toss to coat noodles with sauce.

If the pan is not hot enough to fry the noodles a little, turn it up more. You want the pan really hot, but you don’t want the noodles and veggies to burn. Toss frequently for 5-10 minutes until the noodles are as fried as you like. I prefer mine quite fried together so I let them go a little, I just made sure to keep the majority of the veggies on top of the noodles so they did not burn.

This was about the fastest one pot meal! You could jazz it up with some sesame chicken or some shrimp.

Enjoy…I did!

Some yakisoba resources that I liked:



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Filed under Asian Inspired, Dairy Free, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian