Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Spinach Stuffed Mushrooms

Because I had three full bags of baby spinach in the fridge that I needed to use or lose, spinach was the theme of last night's dinner.  We had a delicious spinach and tortellini soup, more on that another day, and these little mushroom bites.  They were such an easy and elegant addition to the meal and, since they're made with cottage cheese, not super heavy in calories like the cream cheese-based stuffed mushrooms I usually go for.

1 TBSP olive oil
12 baby bella mushrooms
12 mushroom stems, chopped
2 TBSP yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2c baby spinach leaves
1/2c cottage cheese
1 egg
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp. black pepper
1/8 tsp. cayenne powder
1 TBSP fresh basil, chopped
2 TBSP Parmesan cheese, grated

1.  Preheat oven to 350°

2.  In a large skillet, over medium heat, heat olive oil.

3.  Add onion and mushroom stems.  Saute 1-2 minutes.

4.  Add spinach and allow it to cook down; 1-2 minutes.

5.  Add garlic and continue sautéing another minute.  Remove from heat and set aside.

6.  To a food processor or blender, add the cottage cheese, egg, nutmeg, black pepper, and cayenne.  Pulse a few times to combine mixture but still retain some texture.

7.  Add spinach mixture and basil.  Pulse another 3-4 times; just enough to blend.

8.  Spoon everything into the mushroom caps.  Bake 25-30 minutes.

9.  During the last 5 minutes of baking, top each mushroom with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.

Tip: Make the filling ahead of time and store in the refrigerator until you're ready to bake.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Sweet and Salty Pumpkin Seeds

Have you carved your pumpkins yet?  If not, get to it; it's Halloween week!   If you're ahead of the game, I hope you didn't throw out the built-in snack.

This is the one and only time of year we eat pumpkin seeds so it's important to roast them with the perfect blend of sweet and salty.  Confession: I have never gotten this quite right, until now.  I'm convinced the secret ingredient is the brown sugar.

Mr. agreed these are the best yet and seriously addictive!
2c pumpkin seeds
3 TBSP vegan butter, melted
3 TBSP brown sugar
3/4 tsp. sea salt + a little extra 
1/4 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. cumin

1.  Clean the seeds by swishing them around with water in a large bowl.  Set aside to dry.

2.  Once seeds are dry, preheat oven to 250°

3.  Add seeds back to the bowl and add melted butter, brown sugar, sea salt, chili powder, and cumin; toss to coat.

4.  Pour seeds evenly into a prepared 11x13 baking dish.  Bake 90 minutes, stirring every 30 minutes.

5.  Remove from oven and season with additional salt, to taste.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Oven~Baked Refried Bean Dip

It's snack time!  Grab a bag of chips and dig in!

4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2c plain yogurt
1 (16oz.) can refried beans
3 TBSP taco seasoning
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper sauce
2 TBSP green onions, chopped + a little extra for garnish
1c Cheddar cheese, shredded and divided

1.  Preheat oven to 350*

2.  In a medium size bowl, stir all ingredients together, reserving 1/2c cheese and the extra green onions.

3.  Add to prepared baking dish.  I used two smaller dishes but the recipe works just as well if you put it all in an 8x8.

4.  Top with the remaining cheese.

5.  Bake, uncovered, for about 20 minutes.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Vegan Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

Fall is here!  Time for sweaters & boots, hot apple cider, and comfort food at it's best.  I've been making this family favorite every fall for several years now and it is always a big hit.  The recipe has evolved quite a bit from the first time I made this soup and I think it's better than ever now.

Hope you enjoy these classic flavors as much as we do!

1 pkg. Beyond Meat chicken strips
1 TBSP olive oil
salt, pepper, & garlic powder, to taste

6c vegetarian chicken broth
1 - 4oz. pkg. wild rice mix, with seasoning packet
3/4c all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
1/2c vegan butter
1/4c yellow onion, diced
1/2c carrots, diced
1/2c celery, chopped
1/2c white wine, optional
2c soy creamer

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add chicken strips and cook until heated through, seasoning with salt, pepper, and garlic powder, to taste.  Remove to a cutting board and shred.

In a large pot over medium high heat, bring the broth to a boil.  Add rice and seasoning packet included.  Cover and remove from heat.

In a small bowl, combine flour, salt and pepper.  Set aside.

In a medium-large saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter.  Add onions, carrots, and celery, sautéing until slightly tender.  Stir in garlic and cook another minute, until fragrant.

Add white wine, if desired, and reduce heat to low.  

Gradually whisk in the flour mixture.

Pour in the creamer, a little at a time, whisking to maintain a smooth consistency.  Allow to simmer approximately 5 minutes to thicken, stirring occasionally.

Stir creamy mixture into the large pot with broth and rice.  Bring heat to medium and allow soup to heat through; 15-20 min.

 Served with biscuits for dipping - yum!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Cinnamon Spice Applesauce (Slow Cooked and Sugar-Free)

Are you ready for the easiest applesauce you've ever made?  Break out the crock pot and let's get to it!

Let me just first say, even if you've been making applesauce with white or brown sugar forever, I promise, you absolutely will not miss it in this applesauce.  The apples have so much natural sweetness anyway.  I used Galas but don't see why any variety of apple wouldn't work here.

So, just use whatever you've got on hand and adjust spices to your personal preference.  Serve it hot; serve it cold - doesn't matter.  This recipe is super flexible!  Bonus: Your entire house will smell amazing!

Recipe can be scaled for whatever amount of apples you want to use without changing the cooking time.  I went with a small 1 lb. batch and it yielded approximately 1 1/2c.

1 lb, apples, peeled, cored, and sliced thin
1/3 tsp. cinnamon
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
1/8 tsp. nutmeg

1.  Layer apple slices in the slow cooker.

2.  Sprinkle with spices.

3.  Set temperature on High and leave it alone for about 4 hours, checking progress periodically.

4.  Stir everything together and mash to desired consistency.  I like a chunkier applesauce so all it took was just a few times around in the pot with a spoon and it was ready.

Monday, October 6, 2014

White Wine Alfredo Sauce

My husband could probably eat fettuccine Alfredo every day of his life and I've experimented with various combinations over the years.  Most were tasty, some were so-so, but this one has emerged as the clear favorite:

4 TBSP butter
4 TBSP all-purpose flour
1c. heavy cream
1c. chicken flavored broth (Better Than Boullion makes a great veg version)
1c. Mozzarella cheese, shredded
1/2c. Parmesan and Romano cheese, shredded
3 TBSP Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/4c. white wine 
salt and pepper, to taste

1.  In a medium-size sauce pan, melt butter over low heat.

2.  Add flour.  Cook and stir with a whisk until well blended. (2-3 min.)

3.  Add cream and broth.  Stir to blend.

4.  Add remaining ingredients and continue stirring over low heat until cheeses are melted and sauce is a smooth consistency.

*If the sauce starts to get too thick, just thin it back out with a splash of wine or broth.

5.  Toss with pasta and serve warm.

Some people swear by Chardonnay for Alfredo sauces but I used a Sauvignon Blanc for this one 
and thought it was fabulous - Cheers!


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