Evergreen Gourmet

In the eternal quest to live a healthy lifestyle, last September I became vegetarian. I had dabbled in it for several years, but as my health worsened, I sought out new ways to become healthy. Since then, my world of food has become a plethora of taste explosion. I am trying new herbs and spices that I never would have before, eating lots of fruits and veggies, and encouraging my family to do the same. I love going to buy fresh produce, subscribe to veggie magazines, read cookbooks, and even search for new ways to enjoy old favorites or revamp traditionally ethnic foods. Becoming vegetarian has been on of the greatest adventures of my adult life. I enjoy eating, carefully preparing meals with love, and tempting my family with delicious dishes that are made without harming anything else. It has improved my health, my outlook, my weight, my skin, and my life.

Appetizers

Entrees


Ultimate Veggie Fried Rice (Vegetarian Times Magazine) - Vegan
Serves 4
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped (1 cup)
  • 1 small carrot, diced (1/4 cup)
  • 1 stalk celery, diced (1/4 cup)
  • 1 tsp. herbes de Provence
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice, crumbled or broken up
  • 2 cups leftover vegetables, beans, etc., optional
(I include 1/2 cup Thompson seedless raisins and 1/4 cup sunflower seeds as well.)
Directions
1. Heat skillet over medium-high heat, and add oil. Sauté onion, carrot, celery, herbes de Provence, and salt 10 to 15 minutes, or until well browned. Add a little more oil if pan seems dry. Add rice, and stir-fry 5 minutes, or until mixture is hot and well combined.
2. Rice is now ready to be served, but if you have some time before your meal, turn heat to low, add a little more oil to pan, and let rice sit undisturbed 7 to 10 minutes, or until browned. If it begins to stick, scrape it up, stir tasty brown bits in, and continue browning with a little more oil. The more time and energy you spend at this stage, the tastier the rice will be. If using leftovers, add them just before serving and continue to heat thoroughly.

Granola Base (Body and Soul Magazine)
Ingredients
  • 6 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 1 1/4 cups nuts, such as almonds, pistachios, walnuts, etc., coarsely chopped
  • 1/4 cup seeds, such as sunflower, pepitas, etc.
  • 1/3 cup flaxseed meal, wheat germ, or a mixture of the two
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup sweetener, such as honey, agave syrup, or molasses
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup dried fruit, such as sour cherries, cranberries, currants, raisins, apricots, figs, or pineapple, coarsely chopped
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine the oats, nuts, seeds, flax and/or wheat germ, and cinnamon in a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk the egg whites and the salt until frothy. Whisk in the sweetener and the olive oil. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients, and stir until the oats are evenly coated.
  3. Transfer mixture to two rimmed baking sheets and spread flat.
  4. Bake for 20 minutes, then gently flip with a spatula, moving granola from the outer edges to the center of the sheet. Continue to cook until golden, about 10 minutes more. (If the granola starts to brown too much at the edges, gently stir those parts into the middle.)
  5. Cool completely on pan, then transfer to a bowl and gently stir in the dried fruit.
Grilled Cheese with Fig and Basil (Vegetarian Times, Jan. 1, 2006 Issue)

I will preface this recipe by stating that it is by far the best grilled cheese I have ever tasted.  I substituted Challah bread and fresh basil from my herb garden.  This is going to be a staple in my diet and will be written into my recipe book.  Luckily, a local goat dairy farm sell honey and fig chevre which I used instead of separate ingredients.  Truly delightful!

Ingredient list
Serves 4
  • 4 oz. chèvre (soft goat cheese)
  • 1 Tbs. honey, optional
  • 8 thin slices cinnamon-raisin bread
  • 2 tsp. minced fresh basil
  • 2 Tbs. fig preserves
Directions
  1. Combine chèvre and honey, if using, in bowl, and mix until well blended. Spread about 1 Tbs. mixture on each of 4 bread slices; top with 1/2 tsp. basil each. Spread remaining slices of bread with 1 1/2 tsp. fig preserves. Close sandwiches, and lightly coat both sides with cooking spray.
  2. Heat large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add 2 sandwiches to skillet. Place heavy skillet or pot on top of sandwiches; press gently to flatten. Cook 3 minutes on each side, or until bread is lightly toasted (leave skillet or pot on sandwiches while they cook). Repeat with remaining sandwiches. Serve warm.
Basmati and Wild Rice Stuffed Acorn Squash (Vegetarian Times Magazine)
Ingredient list
Serves 8
Acorn Squash
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. low-sodium soy sauce
  • ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 2 medium acorn squash, quartered and seeded
Basmati and Wild Rice
  • ¼ cup pine nuts
  • 1½ cups basmati-wild rice mix, such as Lundberg Farms
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, diced (¾ cup)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (2 tsp.)
Braised Vegetables
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 head fennel, cut into chunks (1½ cups)
  • 2 cups baby carrots
  • 2 cups sugar snap peas
  • 1 Tbs. capers, drained
  • ¹⁄3 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • Cranberry sauce for garnish, optional
Directions
1. To make Acorn Squash: Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat baking sheet with cooking spray, or line with parchment paper. Whisk together olive oil, maple syrup, soy sauce, cinnamon, and 2 Tbs. water in small bowl. Brush inside and edges of acorn squash wedges; place on prepared baking sheet. Bake 30 to 40 minutes, or until squash is soft enough to prick with tip of knife. Keep warm.
2. To make Basmati and Wild Rice: Toast pine nuts in small skillet over medium-low heat 3 to 5 minutes, or until browned and fragrant, shaking pan often. Set aside. Cook rice according to package directions. Set aside. Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium heat. Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil 3 to 5 minutes, or until soft. Stir in rice and pine nuts, and season with salt and pepper. Keep warm.
3. To make Braised Vegetables: Heat olive oil in Dutch oven or large saucepan over medium heat. Sauté fennel in oil 10 minutes, or until softened. Add carrots, and sauté 5 minutes more, or until carrots begin to brown. Add 2 cups water, cover, and steam vegetables 10 to 15 minutes, or until soft. Add snap peas, and steam 2 to 3 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper, and stir in capers.
4. To serve: Place 1 Acorn Squash wedge on each plate. Spoon Basmati and Wild Rice into center of each squash quarter, and top with Braised Vegetables. Sprinkle with chopped parsley, and add a dollop of cranberry sauce, if desired.


White Bean and Sage Patties (revised -  www.wholeliving.com)
Ingredients
Serves 6 to 8; makes 12 patties
  • 1 19-oz can white beans
  • 1 baby red onion, finely diced
  • 1 small carrot, finely grated
  • 1/3 cup yellow cornmeal or Matzoh meal
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh sage
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Directions 
1.  Drain beans, reserving 2 tablespoons liquid. Transfer to a bowl and mash. Stir in shallot, carrot, cornmeal,  and sage. Season with salt and pepper. Add 1 tablespoon reserved liquid. If mixture is too dry, add the other.  
2.  Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons oil. Form mixture into 12 patties (about 2 1/2 inches diameter each) and saute in batches until golden brown and crisp, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Repeat with remaining oil and patties. Season patties with salt and serve with sour cream.



Side Dishes


Roasted Vegetables (www.wholeliving.com)

Ingredients
  • 1 cup red or sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2" wedges
  • 1 small Butternut squash peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch wedges
  • 1 cup carrots, cut into 2-inch lengths
  • 1 cup parsnips, cut into 2-inch lengths
  • 1 small rutabaga (1 pound), pared, halved, and cut into 1/2-inch wedges
  • 1 cup red onions or  shallots, peeled, halved if large
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • 3 rosemary sprigs
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
Directions

Put veggies and herbs in a tin foil wrap and drizzle with olive oil.  I roasted at 450 F for 1 hour, then reduced heat to around 350-400 F for another half hour. Uncovered, and roasted 10-15 minutes more while I prepared quinoa as a side. Delicious. Beautiful presentation and aroma. Perfect for holidays in autumn and winter. Slice veggies smaller for shorter roasting time.


Candied Sweet Potatoes (www.vegweb.com)


Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons non-hydrogenated margarine, melted 
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup orange juice 
  • 1 cup brown sugar 
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 
  • 5 large sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
Directions
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a medium saucepan, combine the first 5 ingredients and stir until well combined. Add the sliced potatoes, stir well, and transfer to a lightly oiled 9x13 baking dish.
  2. Cover and bake until the sweet potatoes are just tender, about 40 minutes. Stir once or twice during that time to distribute the liquid over the potatoes. Uncover, and bake until the glaze thickens, about 1 hour. Cover and keep warm until ready to serve.
  3. Enjoy this decadent treat with a side of quinoa and sauteed Swiss Chard.



Desserts


Oatmeal Raisin Muffins ( Deceptively Delicious Cookbook)

I have altered this recipe slightly from the cookbook Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld. I omitted some of her suggestions and changed some of her other suggestions. This is an amazing cookbook - if you are able, you should grab one today!
Ingredients
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 cup wheat flour
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar (light)
  • 6 tablespoons margarine, chilled
  • 1/2 cup banana puree
  • 1/2 cup zucchini puree
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat two making sheets with cooking spray.
  2. Combine flour, oats, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in bowl. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cut sugar and margarine together, until just combined - do not overmix ( do not use an electric mixer!). Add bananas and zucchini purees and egg white; stir to just blend. Add flour mixture - mix. Add raisins - mix.
  4. Drop the dough by heaping tablespoonsful onto well-oiled mini muffin tin. Bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Let the muffins cool on the baking sheets for 4 to 5 minutes, just until they are firm enough to handle, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.
Makes 24 mini muffins

Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies (www.realsimple.com)
Ingredients

Directions
  1. Heat oven to 350° F. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking soda.
  2. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugars on medium-high speed until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. One at a time, beat in the eggs, then the vanilla. Reduce speed to low and gradually add the flour mixture, mixing until just combined (do not overmix). Mix in the chocolate chips and nuts (if desired) by hand.
  3. Drop heaping tablespoonfuls of the dough onto baking sheets, spacing them 2 inches apart.
  4. Bake, rotating the baking sheets halfway through, until golden around the edges but still soft in the center, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool slightly on the baking sheets, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

Cinnamon Carrot Muffins  (adapted from www.wholeliving.com)

Ingredients
Makes 12
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 2 tablespoons ground flax seed meal
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cups skim milk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 cups finely grated carrots (4-5 carrots)
  • 1/2 cup raisins (optional)
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped  (optional)
  • 1 can cream cheese icing (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line a standard muffin tin with paper cups.
  3. Whisk flours, flax seed meal, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Whisk remaining ingredients in a separate bowl. Fold dry ingredients into wet and mix until just combined.  Fold raisins and walnuts into mixture.
  4. Spoon batter into cups.
  5. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 22 minutes. Cool in pan for 15 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool slightly before serving.  Top with cream cheese icing if using and enjoy!

Snacks

Frozen Fruity Pops (www.wholeliving.com)

For each recipe, combine the fruit, herb or spice, juice (if called for), and a dash of salt in a blender on high for 30 seconds, until smooth. Pour into Popsicle molds, and freeze for six hours.

Honeydew-BasilMix 4 cups of honeydew melon cubes (which contain potassium) with 1/4 cup of vitamin-K-packed chopped fresh basil and 1/2 cup organic frozen lemonade concentrate.

Pineapple-CinnamonFor an exotic tropical pop, use 3 cups of pineapple chunks (known for anti-inflammatory properties), 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/4 cup fresh orange juice.

Mango-ParsleyCombine 1 ripe mango (an antioxidant powerhouse) and 1/2 cup loosely packed chopped parsley (a bad-breath fighter). If the mango isn't ripe, add 1/4 cup frozen lemonade concentrate.

Frozen Yogurt Pops   (www.wholeliving.com)
Fold 1 1/2 cups berry jam of choice (we like seedless blackberry) into 2 cups low-fat Greek yogurt.  Fill ice-pop molds and freeze until firm, at least 6 hours.  Store for up to 3 days.

Roasted Spiced Chickpeas  (adapted from www.wholeliving.com)
Ingredients

Makes 1 cup
  • One 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon onion salt
  • 3-4 whole garlic cloves

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Toss chickpeas with oil and spices until evenly coated. Spread on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast, shaking pan occasionally, until chickpeas are golden and crunchy, about 30 minutes. Let cool completely. Store in an airtight container up to 2 weeks.
 

Condiments

Cranberry and Orange Relish  (www.realsimple.com)

Ingredients
Directions
  1. In a saucepan, over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the ginger and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add the sugar, orange juice, and cranberries.
  2. Cook until the cranberries burst and the sauce thickens, about 30 minutes. Stir in the marmalade to taste (depending on desired sweetness). Turn off heat. Stir in the pepper and cilantro just before serving. Serve warm or at room temperature.


Eggplant Spread  (www.wholeliving.com)
Ingredients

Serves 10 (3 cups)
  • 3 medium eggplant (about 4 pounds), halved
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and very thinly sliced lengthwise
  • 12 1-inch pieces fresh thyme
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons minced fresh herbs (a combination of parsley and basil)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • Freshly ground pepper
Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Arrange eggplant cut side up on a baking sheet. Make slits in eggplant and insert garlic and thyme. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons oil. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bake until tender, about 1 hour. Remove from oven; let stand until cool, about 20 minutes.
  2. Scoop flesh into a food processor. Add herbs, 2 tablespoons oil, and lemon juice. Puree until smooth. Pulse with 1 teaspoon salt and pepper to combine. Will keep refrigerated up to 3 days. Serve with crackers or crostini. 

Caramelized Onion Jam (www.wholeliving.com)

Ingredients:

Makes 1 1/2 cups
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 pounds onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup water (or low-sodium chicken stock)
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (add up to 2 Tbsp. as desired)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar  (I start with 1 tsp. and add up to 2 Tbsp. depending on the bitterness of the onion)
  • Coarse salt
Directions:

In a medium pot, heat oil over medium heat and cook onions, covered, stirring occasionally until translucent, about 15 minutes. Add water, vinegar, and sugar and cook uncovered, stirring, until onions are caramelized, about 30 minutes more. Season with salt. Let cool completely.  Place in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.  Use freely in any savory dish.

Balsamic-Poached Figs

Ingredients:
Makes 2 cups
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • 1 whole allspice
  • 2 black peppercorns
  • 1 star anise (optional)
  • 8 ounces dried figs, such as Black Mission, halved lengthwise
Directions:

In a small saucepan, heat sugar and 1/2 cup water until sugar dissolves. Add vinegar, orange juice, thyme, and spices and bring to a boil. Reduce until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a medium heat-proof bowl and add figs. Let cool completely.


Pumpkin Butter

Ingredients:
  • 1 lb. roasted sugar pumpkin, seeded, stemmed and pith removed
  • 1/2 cup cinnamon applesauce
  • 1/4 cup granulated or turbinado sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar (plus more if desired)
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon plus spice blend (Pampered Chef)
  • Pinch of coarse salt
Directions:
        
1.  In a stainless steel pot, combine pumpkin, sugar, brown sugar, applesauce, cinnamon, spice blend,  and salt; bring to a simmer. (If using fresh pumpkin, stir until it's tender, about 20 to 30 minutes.)

2.  Continue simmering until the mixture starts to thicken, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer to a blender; blend until smooth. Return mixture to pot and heat for 10 minutes on low until it reaches desired thickness. Remove, cool, and serve.

Beverages

Blackberry-Yogurt Smoothies  (adapted from www.wholeliving.com)
Ingredients
Serves 4; makes 4 cups
  • 12 ounces blackberries (3 cups)
  • 1 cup plain low-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1 Tbsp. ground flaxseed meal

Directions

  1. Blend ingredients in a blender on high speed until smooth, and serve.






 
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