Showing posts from January, 2006

The Best of January

No surprise that a veggie-loving cook follows the four seasons. Fresh tomatoes in winter? No way. Butternut squash in summer? Not on your life.

Still, January warrants special thought when picking the month's favorites, the one soup and the one vegetable that together simply shout winter and holler holiday letdown. And sure enough, they do.

Weight Watchers Zero Points Vegetable Soup
Easy to make. Easy on the holiday-gorged palate. Life-giving vegetables. Low-carb and low-calorie. Zero points or one point in the Weight Watchers world, depending on how you count. Yup: perfect for January.

Turnip Potato Puree

Girds the winter soul for the remaining months of cold and snow. (In Missouri, where it's been in the 50s to the 70s in January, for heavens sake, northern sorts like me still live in hope.)

January perfect.

FROM THE ARCHIVES ... Find all ten months' Picks of the Months in the Recipe Box.

(c) Copyright 2006 Kitchen Parade

Day 295: Cabbage with Winter Pesto ◄

Simple and good. And OH so fast.

Just a little cooked cabbage (no sniffing! no up-turned noses! it's good!) with a little spinach pesto, what I call Winter Pesto, stirred in.

A definite keeper.

FROM THE ARCHIVES For other oh-so-simple vegetable sides, see here in the Recipe Box.

Bookmark or print this recipe only
Hands-on time: 5 minutes
Time to table: 20 minutes
Serves 4

Salted water to cover
1 pound cabbage, cored and roughly chopped (would a bag of coleslaw-cut cabbage work? maybe, although the texture would be considerably different, and it only took 4 minutes to chop the cabbage)
1/2 tablespoon Winter Pesto(or a commercial pesto though the calorie differences are likely significant)

Start the water in a medium saucepan over MEDIUM HIGH. (Don't forget to salt the water!) Add the cabbage as it's prepped, even before the water boils. Once the water begins to boil, cover, reduce the heat to MEDIUM and let simmer for about 15 minutes. Drain and stir in the …

Day 294: Spinach Curry ♥

Today's Vegetable Recipe: Fresh spinach quick-cooked with onion, garlic, mustard seed & cumin. Weight Watchers 1 point. Low-carb. Vegan.
~ recipe & photo updated in 2008 ~
2005: What an easy, healthful and unexpectedly delicious vegetarian supper! (Or of course, if preferred, vegetable side dish.) The recipe is inspired by Indian- and vegetarian-cuisine food blogger Mahanandi, whose simple vegetable dishes capture my culinary imagination.

And, hey! in one dish, I've made a good start on two of my 2006 food resolutions. Not bad, eh? The hardest of those resolutions -- the one that always created a bad case of FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) -- is hot peppers. But my fridge is now home to a pound of tiny Thai peppers, a couple hundred of them. I used two of those tiny little green guys tonight -- it's a start, yes! -- especially because I loved the underlying subtle heat, even if next time I'd probably use one pepper, not two.

2008: Once again, this easy spinach re…

Day 293: Carrots & Mushroom Ragout

The idea here was a hearty vegetarian supper, as suggested by the inspiring cookbook, Vegetarian Suppers, a favorite during my meatless years.

Instead, the carrot and mushroom combination seemed much more like a savory vegetable side dish.

What might have made it more supper-ish? More sauce perhaps, to soak into rice or a grain or even mashed potatoes. And honestly, I think the ragout would be delicious with chunks of cooked lamb. Oh dear, so much for good vegetarian intentions!

NEXT TIME I'd skip the raisins which added little and were slightly odd paired with mushrooms.

NUTRITION NOTES Skipping the currants drops the dish into 'low carb' territory.

FROM THE ARCHIVES For other vegetarian supper ideas, see here in the Recipe Box.

Bookmark or print this recipe only
Hands-on time: 20 minutes
Time to table: 40 minutes
Serves 6

1 tablespoon unsalted butter (reduced from 2 tablespoons vegetable oil and 1 tablespoon butter)
1 small onion, diced
8 ounces mushroo…

Sneaky Moms Unite!

First it was Sweetnicks.

And now it's Alysha over at The Savory Notebook
who's using delicious-looking and great-tasting food
to teach her boys veggie-loving habits.

Today Alysha's boys gobble up asparagus gussied up with a
Penzeys gift spice blend called Florida Seasoned Pepper.
She's also had luck with cauliflower mashed liked potatoes and
an ever-so-healthful vegetarian soup with -- get this! -- spinach!

Great work, Alysha!

VEGGIES for KIDS is a continuing crusade here at A Veggie Venture,
a forum for parents wanting to encourage healthful eating habits at home and school.
What works for you?What would you like to fix at your own table?
Leave a comment, send an e-mail or write your own post --
ideas and links along with kid-tested recipes will be posted inVeggies for Kids.

(c) Copyright 2006 Kitchen Parade

Day 292: Eggplant Lasagna

No surprise that something called eggplant lasagna contains eggplant. But in this recipe, the eggplant actually replaces the lasagna noodles!

Is that a good idea?

Yes: This was one of the best, maybe the best, lasagnas I've ever eaten. That said, I credit the slow-roasted tomatoes, Batch 11 to be specific, rather than the eggplant. I'd recommend the base recipe with traditional noodles any day. (Folks from the Southern Hemisphere: Are you planning to slow-roast tomatoes this year? I really really REALLY recommend it! Just LOOK what's possible when you do!)

No: The inspiring recipe called for a fussy, time-consuming process for precooking the eggplant, one I'll never repeat. I think there're other ways, however, like this one.

Yes, But: The eggplant lasagna is about 1/3 lower in calories and contains fewer than 1/2 the carbs. That said, neither version can be considered 'diet' food. If I were going to splurge on lasagna, I think I'd go whole hog, so to speak…

Day 291: Orzo with Spinach ♥

One of my oldest recipes, a garlicky pasta with strips of tender cooked spinach. This one requires will power: I could eat the whole pot if I let myself!
~recipe & photo updated & reposted 2012~
~more recently updated recipes~
2006 Original: Funny. This pasta and spinach has been a year-round favorite for so long that it's made two cookbooks, one for church, one for family. So how nearly 300 Veggie Venture days have passed without its appearance here is beyond explanation. But with little ado, here it is, just simple orzo with spinach, Parmesan and pine nuts. Fast, easy, and unless you're a carb counter, not entirely unhealthful.

2012: Funny again. I still make this recipe off and on, it's so easy to throw together. The trick is to use plenty of garlic and let the garlic essence really develop as it turns golden.

"I use this recipe for inspiration all the time. ... I've passed it on to many friends, and have probably posted it to my Facebook feed mor…

Kitchen Parade Extra: Cashew Chicken Curry ◄

Until introduced to Indian home cooking exemplified in food blogs like One Hot Stove, Mahanandi, Food, in the Main and Hooked on Heat, my experience with Indian cuisine was limited to two favorite restaurants (one a Friday-night hangout during grad school in Austin, another here in St Louis), a tiny grocery in Dallas that sold fresh curry leaves alongside saris and -- most famously -- London take-away.

If I had my druthers -- and I have, despite considerable objection -- take-away curry would be the choice for at least one, and preferably two, meals a day in London.

So at home, I struggle to replicate that fiery, steaming goodness and still please the American palates which pull up chairs at my table. The dozenth version of something close is the subject of this week's column in Kitchen Parade.

Day 290: Two Recipes for Edamame Snacks

The Sugar High Friday online edible events are always a welcome challenge for A Veggie Venture.

But January's mean'n'lean Sugar LOW Friday created a special, um, opportunity. Sure, there're vegetables in cakes and sweets and even sorbets and ice creams (oh! I can't wait to spring one or two cold ones on us all some warm day soon!) and all calling for piles of sugar, buckets of butter.

So like every good writer who starts over entirely when a sentence doesn't work, I decided to turn the SHF/SLF thinking upside down by choosing not a sweet, not a dessert, but instead a dessert replacement ... a snack.

A vegetable snack, of course, made from protein-rich edamame beans. With NO cream. And NO sugar. And only a tiny bit of oil. And quite tasty to snack on after supper, at your desk ... although some messy but no more than a potato chip or even popcorn.

I tried two versions, one roasted with olive oil and salt (on the left) and another microwaved and tossed with ground L…

Day 289: Turnip Potato Purée ♥

~recipe & photo updated 2012~
~more recently updated recipes~
2006 Original: Talk about a ***** five-star ***** recipe. Fast. Easy. Delicious. Cheap. Healthful. That said, I made a big mistake with this pur&eacute:e. It doesn't belong on the "side", it belongs "under" – a big plopful under a lambchop, pork medallions, even a slice of meatloaf. The orange and ginger flavors are subtle, just enough to stop mid-bite to wonder, Hmmm, what's that taste?

TURNIPS vs RUTABAGAS Like yams and sweet potatoes, grocery stores often interchange turnips for rutabagas. One would be as good as the other here, but Stephencooks has side-by-side photographs so at least you know what you're cooking!

Day 288: No Waste Leek Stock ◄

Contemplating homemade vegetable stock, I struggle with whether the vegetables are actually going to waste.

But what's the one vegetable that all cooks always throw away half to three-quarters of?

Leeks, of course. The green stalks are tough and inedible and recipes always specify, 'white and light green parts only'.

So after making this soup, just to see what would happen and with nothing to lose, I threw the leftover leek stalks into a pot along the leftover peels from a russet potato.

The result? A lovely, sweetish, onionish stock.

And absolutely no waste.

Bookmark or print this recipe only
Hands-on time: 5 minutes
Time to table: 1 hour
Made 4 cups

8 cups water
Peelings from a potato (optional, I suspect)
'Green parts' from 5 leeks, roughly chopped

Start the water to bring to a boil. Add the potato peels and leeks and bring to a boil. Cover and let simmer for about 45 minutes.

(c) Copyright 2006 Kitchen Parade

Calling Vegetarians! Calling Vegetable Lovers!

(Many thanks to Brian Naughton for Tomato Republic, his photo oh so evocative of stars on a flag field. Vegetable-wise, it'll have to keep us happy for six more months, until real-life tomatoes are worth eating again!)
Are you the author of a vegetarian or vegan food blog?
Or the author of a food blog that features vegetarian or vegan dishes occasionally?Or are you a carnivore who regularly writes about vegetables?Does your blog have an easy-to-find category for vegetarian dishes? or vegetables? or salads?
And everyone, where do you turn for meatless inspiration -- favorite blogs? websites? cookbooks?
I'm building a resource site -- here at The Veggie Evangelist -- with lists of vegetarian and vegan blogs along with what I call 'veggie-loving' sites, that is, bloggers who write regularly though not exclusively about vegetables.

Just click on through, then leave a comment in the appropriate list. I'd love to hear from you -- and, hint, hint, doing so could be fruitful,…

Day 287: Peas with Chili Lime Butter

Oh dear.

I'd already half written the post in my head, extolling the delicious simplicity of peas topped with the chili lime butter that was such a hit with a watercress sandwich.

But nope, nothin' special here. Sorry. I wish so too!

Hmm. Broccoli, perhaps?

ARF TUESDAYS For the record, this is A Veggie Venture's contribution to the gentle eat-right encouragement from Sweetnicks.

FROM THE ARCHIVES For green-pea favorites, see here in the Recipe Box.

Bookmark or print this recipe only
Hands-on time: 10 minutes for the chili lime butter, 2 minutes for the peas
Time to table: 20 minutes
Serves 4

1 pound frozen green peas, steamed (although I'm learning that I prefer to cook peas in boiling water so they can be liberally salted)

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 a large jalepeno, minced fine
Zest and juice from a lime
Salt and pepper to taste (I skipped both)

Stir together the ingredients. Makes 4 tablespoons.…

Day 286: Cucumber Pancakes

Sneaking vegetables into breakfast is hard!

Even after nearly 10 months of cooking a vegetable in a new way every single day, the breakfast and brunch list is pretty short; worse, not one recipe really shouts 'breakfast' in the way a dedicated veggie- and breakfast-eater might hope.

So Nupur's One Hot Stovecucumber pancakes sent me scurrying for rice flour. (Ooops. Only mid-cucumber-grate and too late did I realize that there's "rice flour" and then there's "sweet rice flour". I'd bought the wheat-free and gluten-free sweet rice flour at Trader Joe's. Was it the wrong kind? I don't know! The pancakes weren't sweet-tasting in the least.)

These were savory good! To my surprise, I especially liked the bits of hot pepper and the taste of cumin. Nupur suggests serving the pancakes with relish or chutney but I have to say, the tiny bit of chili lime butter leftover from Day 280 was sublime. I also tried a bite with maple syrup -- okay but…

Day 285: Weight Watchers Zero Points Garden Vegetable Soup ♥

The famous zero point Garden Vegetable Soup from Weight Watchers. Quick to make with minimal chopping, sure to satisfy. This recipe for WW no point soup uses a mix of inexpensive and easy-to-find fresh and frozen vegetables. If you're looking to slim down, reset your body's expectations after a period of too-much or too-rich food, make this fresh soup your starting gate.
Saturdays: They're my favorite day to cook, especially in winter. Most Saturdays, you'll find soup simmering on my stove, either for supper or the week ahead. This Garden Vegetable Soup is famous in Weight Watchers circles. To my mind, it deserves fame in wider circles for it's easy, it's delicious, it's healthful. There's some chopping involved but in a rush, frozen vegetables are perfectly acceptable. Saturdays, you'll find it on my stove.

Many Zero Point Soup Recipes from Weight Watchers Weight Watchers Garden Vegetable Zero Points Soup (the original, recipe below)
Weight Watch…

Day 284: Watercress Soup ♥

Today's recipe: A classic watercress soup, slightly peppery thanks to the bright green leaves of watercress. Naturally Gluten Free.
~recipe updated, first published way back in 2006~
~more recently updated recipes~
BACK IN 2006 A Turkish food blogger commented, "Seems it was watercress week over here ;-)." It was! But no more, that whole case of watercress I purchased for a whole dollar is gone. It's been quite an odyssey! Three salads, the very favorite with watercress, tangerines and blue cheese; the colorful crunch of daikon and bell peppers; plus another less-favorite that mixes watercress with iceberg lettuce. But a case of watercress goes a long way! I also made a spicy cucumber and watercress relish and a watercress sandwich and a wonderful turkey and tortellini soup plus, well, a a mistake and a few others hidden behind the screen.

But there's no experimenting with watercress without returning to an old favorite, watercress soup. Some years ago, I served…

Kitchen Parade Extra: Winter Pesto with Pasta ◄

Basil's both hard to find and dear right now. But spinach? It's everywhere and oh-so-cheap.

So experiment with this low-carb spinach and walnut pesto, whether to toss with pasta or to top onto vegetables.

Winter Pesto is featured in this week's Kitchen Parade column.

Retro Appetizer: Cheesy Artichoke Nibblers ♥ from the Best of Bridge

Today's quick 'n' easy vegetable appetizer recipe: Pure comfort food, warm squares of an artichoke and cheddar mix, with a little holiday color from pimento and fresh parsley.
~recipe & photo updated & reposted 2012~
~more recently updated recipes~
2006 Original Post: So there's a blog party and we're all invited! The theme is 'retro appetizers' so pick your decade. I picked mine, the 80s, after encountering slim-pickin' ideas from my small collection of vintage cookbooks.

My grandmother's first cookbook, Meals Tested and Approved, published in 1920 by Good Housekeeping, devoted a chapter to 'cereals for breakfast' and another to 'baking powder biscuits and shortcakes' but not one word to appetizers.
The 1938 American Woman's Cookbook had seven pages of appetizers in a 900-page book, all lobster, caviar, anchovy and foie gras.
The 1959 Electric Cook Book ('your complete guide to cooking electrically') - nothing.

Day 282: Cucumber & Watercress Relish ◄

Look closely -- see those little seeds?

They're whole fennel and mustard seeds -- and they convert this simple salad/relish from something nicely fresh to something alive with subtle layers of flavor and deliciousness. I'm sooo glad I didn't skip them!

And this is the second cold vegetable salad of the week -- in the middle of winter! (The first is here.) Vegetable salads are summer staples, of course, but seem out-of-season in January.

O Contraire! What a fresh combination, a great side to roast chicken or piled on a big supper salad.

NEXT TIME No watercress? No problem, just omit it or substitute cilantro or even parsley.

FROM THE ARCHIVES For other cold salads, see here in the Recipe Box. And don't miss this week's first cold salad, made with daikon and red peppers.

Bookmark or print this recipe only
Hands-on time: 15 minutes
Time to table: 45 minutes
Serves 4

2 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds
3/4 teaspoon fennel seeds

1/4 cup white wine vin…

Day 281: Daikon & Pepper Salad ♥

Today's winter vegetable salad: A quick mix of crisp, wet daikon and bell pepper. Very pretty color, yes?! Weight Watchers Friendly, however you count points. Low Cal. Low Carb. Naturally Gluten Free. Paleo. Not just vegan, "Vegan Done Real".
WHAT IS DAIKON? Meet my new favorite vegetable: daikon! Daikon is the ONLY vegetable that starts with the Letter D – who knew? (The Alphabet of Vegetables knew, that's who!) It's also called Japanese radish, Chinese radish, Asian radish and Chinese turnip; also white radish, winter radish, even the "icicle radish". The syllables mean big (dai) and root (kon) in Japanese.

Daikon comes in a huge, white baton-like root. (For pictures, see Wikipedia.) It is sweet and wet and has wonderful tooth-crunch. It lacks the bitter bite of radish and the woodiness of jicama. It peels as easily as a carrot and slices as easily as a cucumber. Daikon would be a terrific addition to crispy vegetable platters or diced/grated into …

Leanne's Veggie Soup
Guest Post: The SISTER Cooks Too

Today's slow cooker vegetable soup recipe: One of my sister Adanna's favorite recipes, just vegetables in a crockpot and there you go, soup! Low carb. Weight Watchers friendly.
~recipe & photo updated 2012~
~more recently updated recipes~
ADANNA's 2006 POST My sister has been gently encouraging me to write a guest post, so – DEEP BREATH – here goes!

So yes, this post is being written by Adanna, not Alanna. Yes, we're sisters. No, we're not twins. In fact, our memories are so different that some times, we wonder if we grew up in the same family. For example, Alanna claims she's the younger sister. Hmmm. My memory of that is almost four years different.

Our family has always been a little over-the-top when it comes to food. Our mom taught us about nutrition at such an early age that at about age four, I finished eating my chicken at a family dinner and announced, “There! Now I’ve had my protein!” In college, when given the assignment to plan a week’s menus fo…