Monday, November 18, 2013

Vegetarian Split Pea Soup
Adapted from Everyday Foods

I really love this vegetarian version of split pea soup. This soup has so much flavor on its own without having to depend on smoked turkey drumstick (or smoke ham shank) for flavor. This recipe will make a very large quantity. You can either cut the soup recipe in half or you can make the full recipe, portion it into containers and freeze it. Since this soup is vegetarian, I even have this soup for breakfast, and again for dinner the same day. It's that delicious and good for you!

2 pounds dried split peas, rinsed well and drain
4 quarts water (16 cups)
2-1/4 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces (2 extra-large potatoes)
1 pound carrots, peeled and thickly sliced
3 medium-size red bell peppers, seeds and membrane discarded and finely chopped (1:3.1 pounds)
2 large yellow onion, finely chopped (1:6.0 pounds)
2 large celery stalks, finely chopped (5.1 ounces)
4 large garlic cloves, finel minced (0.8 ounce)

2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 large dried bay leaf
3 to 4 teaspoons salt or to taste
1-1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper or to taste

Combine all the ingredients, except the salt and ground black pepper, into a 10-quart or larger stock pot. Bring the soup to a boil over high heat (Pb on induction cook top). Reduce heat to a simmer (2.4 to 2.0 on induction cook top) and cook for 3 hours, covered, stirring occasionally and skimming away foam from the surface as needed (I don't bother with the skimming, if you stir occassionally, the foam will eventually cook out). During the last hour of cooking time, continue to stir occasionally and smashing a few chunks of potatoes against the sides of the pot each time you stir.

When cooking time is up, the soup will become thicker and peas will be cooked down. Add the salt and ground black pepper to taste.

Remove from heat. Ready to serve. Let soup cool completely before portioning soup into containers and storing in the freezer. Soup will thicken even more as it is cooling and stored in the refrigerator/freezer. You may need to add water to thin it out if it becomes too thick.

Yield about 7 quarts

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Vegetarian Moussaka

Vegetarian Moussaka
Adapted from Cooking Light Magazine

Moussaka, a Greek eggplant casserole, is traditionally made with ground lamb. Fine bulgur is used in place of the ground lamb to make this a vegetarian version of moussaka. It's hearty, savory and delicious. It is a great dish to make ahead and reheat later. I loved this dish a lot and is planning to include this vegetarian dish for our Christmas dinner.

Three eggplants, unpeeled, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices (about 3 to 3-1/2 pounds)
2 cups chopped yellow onion (10.3 ounces)
4 large garlic cloves, minced (0.8 ounce)
3/4 cup uncooked fine bulgur (4.5 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
One 14.5-ounce can fire-roasted, no-salt diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons tomato paste (1.0 ounce)
2 cups vegetable stock (16 ounces)
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons butter (1.0 ounce)
4 tablespoons whole-wheat pastry flour (0.8 ounce)
2 cups 2% reduced-fat milk (16 ounces)
4 tablespoons finely grated fresh Parmesan cheese (0.8 ounce)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper

Preheat broiler to 475 degrees or high. Position oven rack to be able to broil the eggplant slices 5 inches from the heat source.

Line a shallow-rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place one-third of the eggplant slices onto the foil in a single layer.

Brush each eggplant slices with olive oil. NOTE: Eggplants tend to soak up olive oil very easily like a sponge. To use minimal amount of oil, dip only the very tip of the pastry brush with olive oil and brush each eggplant slice. By dipping the very tip of the pastry brush, the olive oil will go a long way. I was able to stretch 1 tablespoon of olive oil for the entire batch of eggplant slices.

Broil 5 inches away from the heat source for 5 minutes or until browned on the first side. Leave the oven door slighly ajar when broiling?! I have always left the oven door slightly ajar when broiling and it seemed to work perfectly for my eggplant slices. You decide!
Remove eggplant from the oven and turn each slice over. Brush the second side with more olive oil and broil for anther 5 minutes or until browned. Transfer eggplant slices to a plate and repeat the broiling process with the remainder of the eggplant slices.
NOTE: While I am broiling eggplant slices, I always do an extra eggplant so I can eat it for my lunch. I like to package eggplant slices and eat it with hummus. I spread some hummus on each slice and fold it or roll it up and eat it like a taco.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat (7.0 for induction cook top) until hot. Add a tablespoon of olive oil to skillet and swirl pan to coat the bottom. Add the chopped onions and saute onions, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and saute for additional 1 minute.

Add the bulgur and continue to cook for 3 minutes or until bulgur is lightly toasted, stirring frequently. Add the allspice, cinnamon, cloves, salt and black pepper. Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Stir in the diced tomatoes, tomato paste, vegetable broth and oregano. When mixture comes to a boil, reduce heat to simmer (4.0 to 3.0 on induction cook top) mixture for 20 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally, smashing large chunks of tomatoes to break them up.

While bulgur mixture is simmering, make the bechamel sauce. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. With a wire whisk, whisk in the flour, salt and white pepper. Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly with a wire whisk. Gradually add the milk, stirring constantly with a wire whisk. When mixture comes to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low (3.0 on induction cook top) and continue to cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently with a wire whisk. Whisk in cheese and remove from heat. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Position oven rack to the center of the oven.
Lightly spray an 11-inch by 7-inch size rectangular baking dish (I used a Le Creuset 9-1/2-inch by 14-inch size cast-iron baking dish) with nonstick cooking spray. Arrange half of the eggplant slices on the bottom of the baking dish, slightly overlapping slices.

Spread the bulgur mixture evenly over the eggplant slices.

Arrange the remainder of the eggplant slices over the bulgur mixture, slightly overlapping slices.

Top the eggplant slices witt the bechamel sauce.

Bake, uncovered, for 40 minutes. Remove dish from oven. Increase oven temperature to 475 degrees. When oven reaches 475 degrees, return dish to the oven and bake for additional 4 minutes or until top is lightly browned. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Yield 6 to 8 servings.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Zucchini Muffins

Zucchini Muffins
Adapted from Simply Recipes

I have to agree that these are the best zucchini muffins ever. What I love about these muffins, they are pack full of zucchini. They also have a lot of walnuts and raisins that adds sweetness, crunch and texture to these muffins. Just as I do with most recipes, I modified a few ingredients to suit my healthy way of eating, like replacing all-purpose flour with WHITE whole wheat flour and replacing butter with EXTRA LIGHT olive oil. I like my zucchini bread spiced up tasting like a pumpkin bread or a carrot cake, so I added a few more ground spices to this recipe. I seem to detect an unpleasant "metallic" aftertaste from the amount of baking soda the original recipe called for so I reduced the amount of baking soda and replaced the difference with baking powder which worked out perfectly.

3 cups WHITE whole wheat flour (12.6 ounces)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
3 cups slightly packed grated fresh unpeeled zucchini (about 13.7 to 14.1 ounces from about two large-size zucchini)*

1-1/3 cups unrefined natural cane sugar (8.9 ounces)
2 extra-large eggs, beaten (3.8 to 4.0 ounces)**
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup EXTRA LIGHT olive oil or expeller-pressed canola oil (3.4 ounces)
1 cup chopped walnuts, toasted (4.0 ounces)

1 cup dark raisins (5.0 ounces)

*ZUCCHINI: If you don't have enough zucchini, no worries. Just add enough grated peeled carrots for the difference in weight.
**EGGS: You don't have extra large eggs, just add enough EXTRA LIGHT olive oil to make up the difference in weight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Position two oven racks to the upper third and lower third of the oven. Spray 15 muffin cups with nonstick baking spray (2 muffin pans). Set aside.

In a medium-size bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, ginger, and cloves. Whisk everything together until thoroughly blended. Set aside.

Grate the unpeeled zucchini using the large holes of a box grater. DO NOT need to squeeze dry the grated zucchini. Set aside.

In a separate large-size mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar and vanilla extract until light and creamy. Sugar will somewhat dissolved, but not completely. Whisk in the olive oil until blended.

Using a pastry fork, stir in the grated zucchini. Then add in all the flour mixture. Gently stir/fold the flour mixture with the pastry fork until almost combined.

Using a rubber spatula, fold in the walnuts and raisins until thoroughly combined, but do not over mix.

Divide batter among 15 muffin cups. Place the muffin pan that is entirely filled in the upper third rack and the other pan that is partially filled in the lower third rack. Bake for 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let muffins cool in the pan for about 5 minutes; then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

Best to store muffins in an airtight container and place in the refrigerator. The muffins will become more moist as it sits out at room temperature of more than one day. Reheat muffins in the microwave for 15 seconds.

Yield 15 muffins, approximately 291 calories per muffin

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Banana-Peach-Mango Smoothie

Banana-Peach-Mango Smoothie

I was lucky to receive some homegrown mega-size peaches from my friend's harvest. The peaches ripen faster than I can consume them so I had to put most of the peaches in the freezer. The peach skin separated very easily from the peaches. I slice the peaches into thick slices and place them in a single layer on a plate lined with waxed paper. Place the plate in the freezer and freeze the peach slices until they were firm enough to transfer into a large plastic storage bag. Now the frozen peaches will separate easily until I am ready to use them.

It's my day off today and started my day with a delicious breakfast smoothie using frozen banana slices, peach slices, mango chunks and 100% pineapple juice. NO SWEETENER OF ANY KIND NEEDED. Just blended the frozen fruits together with the pineapple juice and I had a large glass of thick slushy smoothie.

3.0 ounces frozen banana slices (about half of a large banana)
4.0 ounces frozen peach slices (about 1 cup)
3.0 mango chunks (about 1/2 cup)
6 ounces 100% unsweetened pineapple juice
1 tablespoon crushed ice (optional)
Place all ingredients into the blender container in order of ingredient listing, starting with banana slices and ending with crushed ice. Blend until smooth, using the blender tamper to push and stir.
Yield 16 ounces, 280 calories

Friday, July 5, 2013

Bulgur Salad with Chickpeas, Roasted Red Peppers and Spiced Cumin Dressing

Bulgur Salad with Chickpeas, Roasted Red Peppers and Spiced Cumin Dressing
Adapted from Jack Bishop, A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen

Bulgur is a whole-wheat grain that have been cracked and partially-cooked. The grains are high in protein and high in fiber. Bulgur is a staple of the Middle Eastern and is used in dishes like Tabbouleh, Kibbeh or pilafs. You can substitute bulgur where recipes calls for couscous, quinoa or rice. The grains are light with a slight chewy texture and a nutty flavor. Bulgur comes in different grades ranging from #1 fine, #2 medium, #3 coarse and #4 extra course. Since bulgur is becoming more popular, you can easily find them in your local supermarket.

1-1/2 cups fine-grain bulgur (9.0 ounces)
3 cups boiling water (24 ounces)
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (1.2 ounces)
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2  teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil (1.7 ounces)
One 15.5-ounce can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drain well
1 cup finely diced roasted red pepper (6 ounces or two homemade roasted red peppers)
1/4 cup minced fresh Italian parsley (0.4 ounce)

Place bulgur in a large bowl. Add the boiling water and immediately cover with a lid or plastic wrap. Allow the bulgur to sit for 45 minutes, undisturbed.

Meanwhile, in a separate small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, honey, cumin, cayenne and salt. Slowly whisk in the olive oil until the dressing is well blended. Set aside.

After the bulgur sits for 45 minutes, uncover. The bulgur have tripled in volume. You will notice excess water sitting in the bottom of the bowl.

Drain the bulgur through a fine sieve, pressing out all the excess water from the bulgur.

In a large mixing bowl, add the bulgur, garbanzo beans, roasted red peppers and parsley. Toss well until thoroughly combined.

Add the dressing and give the bulgur mixture another toss until thoroughly combined. Transfer bulgur to an airtight container and refrigerate for at least 2 to 3 hours before serving, allowing the flavors to bloom.

The salad can be eaten on its own along with some pita wedges or as a lettuce wrap. I like to serve this salad as a side dish to salmon or grilled chicken breast.

Yield 6 to 8 servings as a side dish or 4 as a main course

Monday, July 1, 2013

Golden Raisin Oat Bran Muffins

Golden Raisin Oat Bran Muffins
Adapted from www.epicurious.com

I have found the ULTIMATE bran muffin recipe. For many years, I THOUGHT I had a very good recipe for a wheat bran muffin. Not anymore! After making these delicious oat bran muffins, I'm throwing out my old wheat bran muffin recipe. This oat bran muffin recipe is a keeper! In my opinion, oat bran is more pleasant tasting than wheat bran. I've been making these oat bran muffins almost weekly. Bran muffins are usually the best when they are fresh-baked. These muffins will firm up the next day, but it reheats well. Just reheat them in the microwave for 15 seconds and they will taste just as good as fresh-baked. I've changed the original recipe to make it healthier by substituting WHITE whole wheat flour for the all-purpose flour. I also substituted unrefined coconut oil for the butter. The original recipe calls for half the amount of butter (coconut oil) than what I posted. By accident, I doubled the amount of coconut oil. It was already too late when I realize I added twice the amount of coconut oil, but it worked out for the better. Because I'm using whole wheat flour, the extra coconut oil made the muffins more tender and flavorful.

Golden Raisin Oat Bran Muffins

2 cups WHITE whole wheat flour (8.5 ounces)
Scant 3/4 cup Trader Joe's brand Toasted Oat Bran (3.1 ounces) - See NOTE below
1/4 cup unrefined natural cane sugar (1.8 ounces)
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup golden and/or dark raisins (5.0 ounces)
1 extra large egg (1.9 to 2.0 ounces)
1 cup well-shaken cultured low-fat buttermilk (8 ounces)
1/3 cup mild honey (3.6 ounces)
1/2 cup organic unrefined coconut oil or butter, MELTED (4 ounces)

NOTE: Not all oat bran are the same for this recipe. I had tried several other brands of oat bran in the past and the texture of the muffins were more dense and drier. I had the best results using Trader Joe's brand in which the muffins are tender and flavorful.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Position oven rack to the center of the oven. Spray a standard size muffin pan with nonstick baking spray. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl. combine the flour, oat bran, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Using a wire whisk, stir ingredients together until well blended. Toss in the raisins and set aside.

For the wet ingredients, I like to mix one ingredient at a time. In a separate medium-size bowl, beat the egg with a wire whisk until well beaten. Whisk in the buttermilk until blended. Add the honey and whisk until blended. Last, add the melted coconut oil and whisk until blended.

Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add the entire buttermilk mixture in center of the flour mixture. Using a pastry fork or wire whisk, gently stir and fold the flour mixture with the liquid mixture until just until dry ingredients are moistened and finish folding with a rubber spatula just until incorporated. Do not over mix. Batter will be quite thick.

Divide batter among the 12 prepared muffin cups. Bake for 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Let muffin cool in the pan for about 5 minutes; then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

YUM! Enjoy!

Yields 12 muffins, approximately 267 calories per muffin