Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Buttercup Squash and Cranberries with Toasted Breadcrumbs

We were lucky enough in Vermont to escape the wrath of Hurricane Sandy; however, my heart goes out to all of those affected by the superstorm. Having grown up on the Connecticut shoreline, family members and friends have been in my thoughts constantly.  My parents fared well, but if you’ve met my dad, you know they were ready. Others in my hometown were not so lucky. The day after the storm, on my way to work, I saw a rainbow. I stopped to snap a pic and sent it to my mom, with the caption “a good omen.” Peoples support for one another this past week has been astounding, and has shown what the human spirit is truly capable of.
On another non-related note… Mark and I filed for domestic partnership and it was approved by the state of Vermont this week. Oh to be financially interdependent! How romantic!
 
Saturday night we met Mark’s parents for dinner at the Home Hill Inn.
It’s an old inn on the Connecticut river, with a restaurant that focuses on the use of local ingredients. Mark’s parents brought gifts: cheesy kielbasa for Mark and a stalk of brussels sprouts, from their garden, for me. Thanks for the dinner and gifts!
Naturally I had to find something to do with the brussels sprouts, so for lunch yesterday I had brussels sprouts with buttercup squash, cranberries and toasted breadcrumbs. Buttercup squash was new to me; I’ve been seeing it at the store and finally gave it a try. It’s a sweet, dry squash, with orange flesh and green skin. It tastes kind of like a sweet potato.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Buttercup Squash and Cranberries with Toasted Breadcrumbs 
 
1/2 lb of brussels sprouts
 
1 buttercup squash, peeled and cubed (you could sub any other winter squash
 
1/4 cup of cider vinegar
 
1 tablespoon of olive oil
 
1 tablespoon of mustard
 
2 teaspoons of maple syrup
 
Black pepper to taste
 
1/4 teaspoon dried garlic
 
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
 
2 tablespoons dried cranberries
 
3 tablespoons of whole wheat or gluten-free breadcrumbs
 
Cooking spray or oil for drizzling
 
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Combine all ingredients through red pepper flakes, tossing to coat. Spread out evenly on a cookie sheet and bake for 30 minutes, tossing occasionally. Once browned and cooked through, add cranberries and divide evenly between 4 ramekins. Divide bread crumbs evenly over the top of the ramekins and spray with a little cooking spray or drizzle with a little bit of olive oil. Return to oven for 5 minutes, turning the broiler on for the last minute to brown the breadcrumbs. Remove from the oven and enjoy!

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Squash Muffins with Streusel Topping

Yesterday, Mark and I hiked Camel’s Hump for the second time. I’m not sure if its because I’ve been running more lately, but we flew up the mountain. We did the whole hike, including spending a half hour at the top, taking pictures and eating lunch, in less than 3 hours. At 4,083 ft., Camels Hump is the third tallest peak in VT. Its unique shape was carved by glaciers! The trail is just under 5 miles, round trip, and usually there are spectacular views from the exposed and undeveloped peak. When we got up to the top, the wind was whipping, clouds were swirling around us and it was freezing! After snapping a few pics of the less-than-stellar views, we hiked back down the trail a bit and found a little ledge on the leeward side of the mountain to have lunch.

Today, I spent the day attacking this massive trombone squash that Mark’s co-worker gave us… this thing is huge! Possibly 3 feet long. Trombone squash are a type of heirloom squash from Italy. They are notorious for being massive. In the summer, when they are green, these squash can be eaten like zucchini, and in the fall when they turn yellow, they can be used like butternut squash. So, I cut it up and roasted it in the oven at 375 for about 45 mins to an hour. Then some went into muffins for Mark’s office, some into squash soup for dinner tonight and the rest is being saved for squash ravioli later in the week.

Get your mind out if the gutter, I know what you’re thinking. You might also be thinking, why muffins… why not… this squash tastes a lot like pumpkin, think of them more as pumpkin muffins… or you can just use pumpkin if you want.

Squash Muffins with Streusel Topping
Makes 12 large muffins (adapted from Mark Bitman’s Whole Wheat Muffin Recipe)
 
2 1/2 whole wheat flour, use whole wheat pastry flour if you can
3/4 cup of sugar
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 cup of squash puree (I used trombone, you could use butternut, acorn, delicata, pumpkin or any other winter squash)
1/2 cup of vegan butter, such as earth balance, melted
1/2 cup of almond milk (or other non-dairy milk) mixed with 2 teaspoons of cider vinegar (making our own butter milk)
1 egg or one flax egg (1 tablespoon ground flax and 3 tablespoons of water, mix and let sit in the fridge for 15 mins to 1 hour to set up)
 
Preheat your oven to 375 and line a muffin tin with 12 liners, or spray with cooking spray.
 
In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. In another bowl, combine the squash, melted butter, milk and (flax) egg. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Spoon evenly into muffin tins. Top with streusel (see below) and bake for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and drizzle on spiced drizzle using a spoon and enjoy!
 
 
 For the Streusel
1/2 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of flour
2 tablespoon of oats
1/4 cup of melted butter, I used earth balance
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice
 
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Divide mixture evenly over the top of the 12 muffins.
 
  
Spiced Drizzle
1/4 cup of powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon of maple syrup, look for a “pure” maple syrup with the kosher label, otherwise it might not be vegan (or omit)
1-2 teaspoons of almond milk (or other non-dairy milk), start with a little and add more to reach desired drizzly consistency 
Dash of cinnamon
Dash of pumpkin pie spice
 
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Drizzle over muffin after they are baked
 
 

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Vegetable and Quinoa Croquettes with Spicy BBQ Sauce

Last Saturday was Switchback Brewery’s 10th anniversary and they threw a big party. They had a live band, local food vendors, brewery tours and other activities on their lawn. For $10 you got 3 beer tickets, 1 food ticket, and a newly bottled 22 of switchback ale. We also go access to specials at countless bars downtown with our exclusive wristband. All of this for $10! And it just so happens that we have our first keg of Switchback in the kegerator, coincidence?

I also broke in my new $13 crock pot with some switchback ale chili with cornmeal dumplings.

On another unrelated note… last week I lost my opal ring that Mark got me last year. I might have cried for a few days and tore apart our home and my work. I had everyone on the look out… And just when I had given up hope, Mark found it in our baggie of curry powder. Of all places! Maybe I have a cooking problem. (the worst part, I had looked in some of the other spices and the flour, just not the curry powder). My finger no longer feels naked!

We’ve been having warm weather the past few days, so a 6 mile run though the wooded part of the bike path was a must. This morning I woke up and decided to make vegetable nuggets croquettes… much more fancy sounding… to eat during the Pats game this afternoon. However, Mark and I ate them all by 11:30 am… they’re that good… but also good for you. These vegan croquettes are packed full of veggies and quinoa, breaded lightly in whole wheat bread crumbs and baked in the oven. Served with some doctored-up BBQ sauce, it’s a grown up twist on your childhood favorite: chicken nuggets with sweet and sour sauce. After a small amount of digesting, we burned them off with a 5 mile run along the lake. I ran 31 miles this week!

Vegetable and Quinoa Croquettes 

Makes about 22-24 croquettes
 
2 cups of broccoli florets
 1 cup of carrots, diced
 1 cup of onion, diced
 Olive oil, divided, about 1 tablespoon total
 Black pepper, divided, about 1/2 tablespoon total
 Garlic flakes, divided, about 1 tablespoon total
 Red pepper flakes, divided, about 1/2 tablespoon total
 1 russet or Yukon potato, washed and diced in 1″ cubes
 1/4 cup of quinoa, uncooked
 1/4 cup of veggies stock
 3/4 cup of water
 1 tablespoon of vegan butter
 1/2 cup of peas
 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne 
 1/2 teaspoon of cumin
 1/2 teaspoon of curry powder
 1/2 tablespoon of mustard
 1/2 cup (approximate) of whole wheat bread crumbs, you can sub gluten free bread crumbs or grind up your favorite gf crackers to keep it gf. Also look for ones low in sodium and without cheese if you want them to remain vegan.

Preheat the oven to 400 F. Chop up the broccoli, carrots and onion, and place them on a foil lined baking sheet with some of the black pepper, garlic flakes, red peppers flakes and about a teaspoon of olive oil. Place them in the oven, tossing every 10 mins or so, until cooked and a bit crispy, about 30 minutes.

While the veggies roast, chop up the potato and place in a pot of boiling water. Boil for 15-20 minutes or until a fork pierces through a potato cube easily. Once the potato is in the pot, place the quinoa in another pot with some red pepper flakes and some garlic flakes. Heat over medium high heat, tossing the quinoa frequently to toast it, about 3 minutes. Then add in 1/4 cup of low sodium veggies stock and 3/4 cup of water. Stir the quinoa and potatoes occasionally. (you will have extra quinoa left over from this recipe, store in a container and add to meals that need a little protein boost)

When the veggies are done, nice and browned, scrape them and the browned bits in a food processor and pulse to chop them coarsely. When the potatoes are done, place them in a large bowl and mash them up with butter and a teaspoon of olive oil, more black pepper and garlic flakes. Add the veggies, 1/2 cup of the cooked quinoa and the peas to the potatoes, add in the cayenne cumin, curry powder and mustard, along with more garlic, black pepper or red pepper flakes, based on your preference. (I love black pepper, garlic and red pepper flakes, so I added more). Mix everything together.

Place the bread crumbs on a plate. Put the remaining olive oil (about a teaspoon) on your baking sheet (tin foil removed and discarded). Form little croquettes, I made about 1 inch diameter balls then shaped them into more of an oval shape (like a nugget). You could use a small ice cream scoop if you want to speed up the process.

Roll each nugget in the bread crumbs and place on the baking sheet. Or you can place them in the freezer, spread out on a baking sheet, not touching, and freeze for 2 hours, then transfer them to a Ziploc bag and store in your freezer until ready to use (we froze half). When ready to bake, place them in a 400 F oven for 10 minutes, or until browned on the bottom, then flip and bake for another 5 to 7 minutes.  Serve with your favorite dipping sauce.

Doctored-Up Spicy BBQ Sauce

1/4 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce, I used Sweet Baby Ray’s Honey Chipotle
6 small Thai hot chilies, diced very fine
1 tablespoon of mustard
1 tablespoon of sriracha
Black pepper
1/4 teaspoon of garlic flakes

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.

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White Bean, Kale and Mushroom Soup

It rained almost every day this week, which meant some soggy runs and workout DVDs. Finally one morning, the sun made and appearance and instead of dreading lacing up my damp sneakers, I was glad to. The sun made some neat shadows along the bike path.

Then yesterday, after hours of torrential rain, the sun came out again and I went for a 5.5 mile run along the lake, and strong winds made for nice resistance training. Maybe it’s time to stop pretending I can make it all winter without purchasing a gym membership.

Today, Mark and I went on a gorgeous hike up Nebraska Notch, a glacially formed cirque. Though the hike was significantly less strenuous than we anticipated, the foliage has definitely peaked. On the way home we stopped at the Alchemist Cannery to sample some Heady Topper, an unfiltered IPA that has become a hot commodity in the Burlington area… generally selling out 24 hours after delivery to a location.

We made it home in time for football, and of course had soup for soup Sunday. This soup is hearty and healthy  It has kale, white beans, mushrooms, carrots and diced tomatoes. The balsamic vinegar adds a nice bite and the red chili flakes add some heat. We ate ours with seed bread from O Bread Bakery in Shelburne.

I should also mention Mark and my new obsession: cocktails with apple cider, apple brandy, seltzer, and a squeeze of lemon or lime or both. Or you can omit the seltzer and warm the cider, kinda like a hot toddy but better. Apple brandy is delicious; it’s made by fermenting apples in oak barrels for 5 or more years.

 
 
White Bean, Kale and Mushroom Soup
makes 8 large bowls
 
1 table spoon of olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves or garlic, minced
15 baby carrots, sliced thinly
3 cups of crimini mushrooms, diced
Splash of apple brandy or red or white wine (whatever you have on hand)
1 can of white beans (cannellini) 
1 can of fire roasted, diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar 
2 cups of low sodium veggie stock
3 1/2 cups of water 
Bunch of kale, stems removed and sliced in thin ribbons
1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon of rosemary
1 teaspoon of thyme
1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon of black peppers
 
In a large soup pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add in onions and sauté for 4 minutes, then add in garlic and carrots and sauté another 4 minutes, then add in mushrooms and sauté for 5 minutes. Add a splash of brandy or wine to deglaze the bottom of the pot. Then add in the tomatoes, beans and balsamic vinegar. Give it a stir and add in stock and water. Bring the stock to a boil for a few minutes then add in the kale, red pepper flakes, rosemary, thyme, Italian seasoning and black peppers, and cook for at least another 5-10 minutes at a simmer. Serve with crusty bread. 

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Cabbage and Apple Slaw

October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month… So I would like to take a moment to acknowledge all the women and men who have been affected by breast cancer. Breast cancer runs in my family, my mom, my maternal grandmother and my maternal great aunt all had it. This puts me at a much higher risk, so becoming aware, getting check-ups, eating healthy and exercising have been a crucial part of my life.

My mom was diagnosed with stage 2 breast cancer the summer before I entered 7th grade. After a rough year of treatment, she went into remission and has been cancer free for a just about a decade! Four years ago my grandmother passed away from breast cancer and last year my great aunt passed away from it, as well.

When I was 16, my mom and I walked 60 miles in 3 days to raise money for the Susan G Komen Foundation. It was one of the best weekends of my life. It was such a supportive community and I learned a lot about breast cancer!

The National Cancer Institute estimates that 80% of cancer cases are preventable and the number one preventative measure is maintaining a healthy lifestyle (source). Recent studies, including one out of Harvard University, have shown that a vegan diet can reduce the risk of many types of cancer (source). My mom was part of study at Yale that demonstrated that exercise can help prevent cancer or reduce the risk of its reoccurrence (source)   Another recent study has linked eating cruciferous vegetables with the prevention of breast cancer (source). A Chinese study found a correlation between the consumption of cruciferous vegetables and an increased survival rate of those battling breast cancer (source).  I’ll eat loads of whatever veggies are linked to prevention, I mean loads.

Cruciferous vegetables include : Arugula, bok choy, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, collard greens, horseradish, kale, radishes, rutabagas, turnips, watercress, and wasabi

(source)

So I made a healthy cabbage and apple slaw in honor of breast cancer awareness month… so load up a big bowl of this salad and chow down for the sake of your breasts.

Speaking of my strong and brave mother, she and my dad came to visit this weekend. Though the weather was less than ideal, we were still able to sneak in a 15 mile bike ride along the lake and a walk along the bike path in Stowe to admire the foliage through the mist.

We had dinner at the Farmhouse Tap and Grill on Saturday and lunch in Stowe on Sunday. My parents also bought us a jar of maple walnut peanut butter from the Vermont Peanut Butter Co… I’m afraid to open it because it might disappear too quickly.

Cabbage and Apple Slaw

2 large servings
 
1/2 a head of green cabbage shredded
1 apple, julienned
2 tablespoons of dried cranberries
1/4 cup of almonds, sliced slivered (I used tamari roasted almonds for more flavor)
2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon of mustard
black pepper
 

Whisk together cider vinegar, mustard and black pepper in the bottom of a large bowl, add in the remaining ingredients and toss to coat.

You can eat the whole bowl… it’s helping prevent cancer!

 

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Apple Streusel Cake

Sunday, after some grocery shopping, a five mile run, an ab workout and some cleaning, I spent the afternoon in the kitchen. The analytical side of my brain loves baking, it’s like an experiment. Baking is really the only time that I follow a recipe, it’s all about proportions, and if you mess those up you can end up with a disaster.  Sometimes I get an idea in my head and can’t find an already existing recipe in my cookbooks or on the internet. If I can find a solid recipe to use as a jumping off point, then the wheels start churning in my brain, swap this for that, change this, increase that, and voila!

Since we have 7 lbs of apples that we picked, I wanted to make a vegan apple cake, loaded with apples and a streusel topping, I wanted a layer of apples to cover the entire top, like an apple upside-down cake, but I also wanted apples in the batter, and I wanted a cinnamony-sugary-crumbly topping. I wanted it to be whole wheat, flavorful and moist and trick people into thinking it had sour cream or egg yolks or something like that in it. Maybe I’m crazy.

Maybe I shouldn’t have cleaned before I baked, I made a mess and had to re-clean the floor and counter. But it was worth the extra cleaning, this cake is awesome. It was what I had in my head… The analytical side of my brain is very pleased with itself.

I also made butternut squash soup, and roasted the squash while the cake baked away in the oven… conserving energy! Ahh, the return of Soup Sundays!

Apple Streusel Cake

Streusel:
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1/4 cup of corn meal
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup vegan butter, softened, such as earth balance
1/2 cup of oats
2 tablespoons vegan vanilla yogurt, such as Whole Soy Co Vanilla Yogurt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
 
Cake:
1/2 cup vegan butter, melted
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup vegan vanilla yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 cup of corn meal
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
3 apples peeled and cored. 1 diced and 2 sliced thinly
 

Preheat the oven to 350. Grease a 9X9 or 8X12 pan and lightly dust with flour. In a small bowl, combine all the streusel ingredients and set aside.

For the cake: In a large bowl, combine the butter, sugar, applesauce, yogurt and vanilla extract with a wooden spoon. Then add in the flour, corn meal, baking soda, baking powder and vinegar, stir to combine.

Peel and core the apples. Dice one up and leave the other 2 in ¼ inch slices. Stir the diced apple into the cake batter. Spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan. Place the apple slices in a single layer over the batter, overlapping the slices slightly. Dot the streusel over the top of the apple layer, allowing the apple layer to peak through. Place in the oven and bake for 45-55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

end photo montage… cake flavors marry together the longer they sit, so it tastes better the next day, warmed back up in the oven or microwave.
 

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Falafel Stuffed Eggplant

 

I said last post that I had big plans for the farmer’s market haul I got last week… And I did. One night we had pasta with “creamy” pumpkin sauce and roasted delicata squash. Another night we had quinoa stuffed pattypan squash. And a third we had falafel stuffed eggplant. Mark asked if it was a mix from the store (code for “it tasted authentic”) and nope, I whipped it up in my food processor.

I also made Baked Chili Cheese Fries for the Pats game last weekend, recipe courtesy of Joy the Baker… and they were delicious. (Did you know Cabot Cheese is lactose free? I didn’t)

This week was interesting at work… I’m still riding the steep learning curve of a new job  and a new computer system. It’s a little overwhelming and it doesn’t help that my supervisor is not the nicest human on the planet. It’s all making me a better person, right? But the rest of my co-workers have been super nice!

Today, after I rode my bike to the Farmer’s Market (15 miles round trip), through gale force winds, Mark and I had a date day. We  picked apples at Shelburne Orchards and noshed on apple cider donuts, just beating the rain. The Orchard has views of Lake Champlain, so pretty! After purchasing 7 pounds of apples, 3 cider donuts and a pumpkin, we headed on over to Shelburne Vineyards for a tasting. Though they were a great little vineyard, we quickly realized that spending 4 years in Finger Lakes Wine Country has made us wine snobs. I MISS GENEVA!

I’m planning some apple treats with those 7 pounds of apples.

On to falafel, this recipe is adapted from Cooking Light Magazine. The pictures didn’t come out too well, with the sun setting earlier and earlier, it’s been hard to find good lighting in our apartment. The fact that the house was built in 1900, means there is a lack of overhead lighting.

Falafel Stuffed Eggplant

1 eggplant
Cooking spray
1/4 cup chopped scallions
1/4 cup fresh breadcrumbs ( I ground up Stacy’s Italian herb pita chips, you could use gluten free crackers to make it gluten free)
1 tablespoon tahini (roasted sesame seed paste)
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 cup egg substitute
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 can no-salt-added chickpeas, rinsed and drained

Toppings

Chopped tomatoes
Sliced scallions
Lemon wedges

Preheat the oven to 475°F. Slice the eggplants in half lengthwise and score the cut sides with a crosshatch pattern. Place the eggplant halves, cut sides down, on a baking sheet lined with foil and coated with cooking spray. Bake for 8 minutes or until slightly tender and browned. Remove from oven; carefully scoop out pulp, leaving a 3/4-inch shell. I used the pulp in the couscous I prepared to go with the eggplant.

Combine onion, through chickpeas in a food processor and blend until smooth. Divide the mixture evenly between the two eggplant shells. Bake at 475° for 25 minutes or until eggplant halves are tender and chickpea mixture is lightly browned. Remove from the oven and top with tomatoes, scallions and a squeeze of lemon.

I served mine with couscous that had the same spices as the chickpeas, scallions, and the left over eggplant pulp that was scooped out.

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