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Best Vegetable Recipes of 2012 ♥ Personal Favorites

The best vegetable recipes of 2012 from A Veggie Venture, just one per month, all in one handy spot for easy reference.
It's that time of year, the week when we food bloggers look back over a year's worth of recipes and pick our favorites! I love-love-love this process! It really helps us hone our recipe collections, highlighting the best of the already very good, especially for sites like A Veggie Venture and my food column Kitchen Parade which by design, already post only really good recipes, the ones that work, the ones that are special or especially useful. (Here's the 2012 favorite recipes from Kitchen Parade too.)

But I also love all the many sources of "best of the year" lists for movies, books, gadgets, etc. So this year, I'm collecting "best of the year" lists on Pinterest. Follow me there and you'll see all the new entries over the next couple of weeks on this board, Best of the Year Lists & Favorites.

But okay, here you go, m…

Good Luck for 2013: New Year's Soup Recipe ♥
with Black-eyed Peas & Collard Greens

Today's soup recipe: Easy, healthy and satisfying, a good way to kick off the new year (even a few days early!) after the indulgence of the holiday. Great for Meal Prep. Low Carb. Low Fat. Weight Watchers Friendly & Freestyle Friendly. Not just Vegan, Vegan Done Real. Naturally Gluten Free. And of course: dee-licious!
So how did 2012 treat you? Mine was just swell, thanks for asking. (And yours? Do tell!) Should credit be given to this lovely little soup that I cooked up for New Years a year ago? Maybe! You see, by southern tradition, black-eyed peas bring "good fortune" to the new year and greens – any green, that's collard greens, turnip greens, kale, chard, etc – bring "financial success".

And no bitter medicine, this soup. It really hits a sweet spot with just a tiny touch of underlying heat. It's a vegan soup, though no one will likely notice. On the other hand, a little ham or bacon wouldn't hurt here (Note to Vegetarians). Meat isn'…

Easy-Easy Healthy Holiday Appetizers: Party Rye with Tomato & Cucumber ♥

Today's easy appetizer recipe, red and green for the holidays but fresh and festive for summer, too. Just one Weight Watchers point!
Scramble mode, that's me just before a party's to start, that rush-rush hour or so when there will be exactly enough time to get everything done but not a minute, not a second, more. How does that happen anyway?

But here's an appetizer I used to keep in my back pocket, just in case I really ran short of time and the appetizer I'd planned, more elegant but more fussy, just wasn't going to happen. But now I just put these out on purpose, because people like them. There's nothing unfamiliar or mysterious about this, you also can tell, hey, it looks fresh and healthy. So these just go, one by one, some people back for seconds and thirds, until the platter is empty.

I hesitate to call this a recipe, really, it's more like a visual suggestion, an eyeball reminder. Buy a packet of those small party squares (I'm partial to …

Silky Smooth Corn Pudding ♥ Recipe

Today's extra-easy Thanksgiving vegetable recipe: An oh-so-smooth custardy corn pudding that takes all of ten minutes to throw together. Now don't turn up your nose that it starts with a can of creamed corn. The resulting custard is slightly sweet, oh-so-smooth that I promise, no one will know. Everyone will think you are a kitchen magician!
Have you developed your own style, a personal preference for taste and timing? I sure have. When it's supper for one or two, my style is to make it fresh, eat it asap, no setting the slow cooker in the morning, no putting aside meals for the freezer.

But for parties and family gatherings? I am the make-ahead queen. That's why virtually every single Thanksgiving recipe here on A Veggie Venture includes tips for making a dish the day before. Last year's Thanksgiving, I cooked and prepped so much on the Wednesday that by Thursday morning, all that was left was to "cook" was the turkey my grandmother's butterhorns …

Quinoa Pilaf with Kale & Corn ♥ Recipe

What a favorite new kale recipe! It's no more than quinoa and kale cooked together in one pot, then tossed with a bright lemon vinaigrette and a few kernels of corn. You might serve it on the side, you might choose it for Meatless Monday! Easy Weeknight Supper. Very Weight Watchers Freestyle Friendly. Vegetarian. Naturally Gluten Free.
So. Confession time. You know that household chore you put off and put off and put off some more and then when you finally buck up and just do it, well, it takes all of ten minutes start to finish? (Except for the four months it took to get around to it in the first place.) Kale is like that for me, it's a bit of a chore, something I ought to buy/cook/eat more of but always put off. Then when I finally do, I'm half surprised to realize all over again, that "Hey! Kale is really good stuff!" And no chore at all!

Enter this quinoa, just quinoa and kale cooked at the same time in the same pot – yay, just one dish – then tossed with r…

Fried Zucchini Sticks vs Baked Zucchini Sticks ♥ Recipe

<< Today's vegetable recipe: My friend Helen's recipe for Fried Zucchini Sticks (what she calls just "Fried Zucchini") plus my test of the same recipe, but baked, so Baked Zucchini Sticks. It's a face-off, Fried vs Baked in taste, calories and Weight Watchers points. Which recipe wins out, the Fried Zucchini Sticks or the Baked Zucchini Sticks? You might just be surprised. >>
Are fried vegetables the "gateway" technique for vegetable haters? I admit a weakness for fried plants: fried onions, fried green beans, fried pickles, fried okra, fried eggplant. Fried eggplant? Yes, it's been known to turn self-proclaimed "we are not eggplant people" into fried-eggplant fiends.

So why no fried vegetables on A Veggie Venture? Well, it's a healthy-eating thing. Because we all know that fried food is bad, right? Right?

Well maybe it is, maybe it isn't. These Fried Zucchini Sticks were fried in a skillet that started with 8 tables…

Baked Oatmeal with Pumpkin & Pears ♥ Recipe

Today's healthy breakfast recipe: Oatmeal baked with pumpkin plus fall fruit, pumpkin-pie spices and nuts. There's just enough pumpkin for color and moisture without making the oatmeal dense and heavy.
Come October 1, American-based food blogs take on a fevered orange tinge – pumpkin orange, that is – as we go cra-zee for pumpkin recipes. I have my own collection, My Favorite Pumpkin Recipes but am always happy to add another! "Never look a gift pumpkin in the face," I say, especially when it's a healthy pumpkin recipe. :-)

The last few weeks, I've been made one pan of Easy Baked Oatmeal after another, twice with blueberries and bananas, twice with apples and pears (and the all-important bananas), then twice more with pumpkin and pears (and more bananas). It took some tweaking to get the right amount of pumpkin and pumpkin-pie-type spices and the baking time right, but the last batch was just excellent.