Quinoa Apple-Coconut Breakfast Porridge

Let’s just pretend that I never stopped blogging here, shall we?

This is a vegan breakfast porridge inspired by a yummy-looking meal my co-worker had at work last week. I’ve recently been advised to avoid oats (which I’m doing, against my better judgment), but I’ve wanted a warm, porridge-y breakfast during the recent spot of cold weather. This came together quickly, and makes 4 portions, so it’s a quick batch that makes several breakfasts.

Quinoa Apple-Coconut Breakfast Porridge
 
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Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 c. quinoa
  • ½ c. water
  • ½ c. coconut milk (canned variety, light is fine)
  • ½ c. non-dairy milk (can add more coconut milk, if desired)
  • 2 Tbsp. unsweetened flake coconut
  • 2 Tbsp. flaxseed meal
  • 1 medium apple, chopped in large dice
Instructions
  1. Heat medium-sized saucepan over medium heat
  2. Add quinoa, and stir to toast, approximately 3 minutes
  3. Remove pan from heat and add milks and water. Be careful, as the liquid is likely to spit.
  4. Replace pan on burner, and add coconut, flaxseed, and apple
  5. Bring to a simmer and reduce heat to low
  6. Cover and cook for 15 minutes
  7. Remove pan from heat and allow to rest for 5 minutes
  8. Fluff, and enjoy!
  9. As desired, you can add additional toppings, such as chopped nuts, maple syrup, cinnamon, and more.
Notes
Nutritional data via SparkPeople Recipe Builder. Caveat lector.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: Scant 1 cup Calories: 244 Fat: 7.5g Saturated fat: 3g Unsaturated fat: 1.2g Trans fat: 0 Carbohydrates: 38 Sugar: 3.6g Sodium: 49mg Fiber: 5.4g Protein: 8g Cholesterol: 0mg

 

Hatch Pepper Hummus: Hatch Fever Continues

Hatch Chile HummusI always associate Hatch chile season with our move to Austin. The week we were here looking for a place to live before the big move coincided with the Hatch chile festival at Central Market, and thus my obsession began. I’ve rarely bought anything besides the chiles themselves, but this year I tried the roasted Hatch chile hummus and fell in love. I bought three tubs to prolong the festival feeling, but those were gone in short order. With my freezer stocked with 20 pounds of roasted chiles (hot, if you must know) I decided to give it a try and make my own. I adapted my recipe from this great base on Confections of a Foodie Bride. To make a super smooth hummus I use Alton Brown’s slow cooker chickpeas recipe. The trick is 1/2 tsp baking soda added to the cooking water–it dissolves the chickpea skins for smoother blending.

 

 

 

Hatch Pepper Hummus: Hatch Fever Continues
 
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Recipe type: Appetizer
Serves: Approx. 2 cups of hummus
Ingredients
  • 3 cups chickpeas, drained and rinsed (roughly 1.5 cans)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 3 Hatch chiles, roasted, seeded, and chopped
  • Juice of 1.5 limes
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp cumin
  • 3 Tbsp tahini
Instructions
  1. Place the chickpeas and garlic in the food processor and process until smooth, occasionally scraping down the bowl.
  2. Add the hatch chiles, lime juice, salt, and cumin and process again, scraping the bowl as needed.
  3. Add tahini and process until completely smooth.
  4. Transfer to a bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve, topped with additional chopped chiles as desired.

 

My Favorite Muffins

Banana muffinI admit, I’m on the anti-pumpkin spice bandwagon. I like my pumpkin spice goodies to contain actual pumpkin, and these muffins are my favorite pumpkin spice carriers.

This is my go-to muffin recipe, and it works well with either pumpkin or banana. They aren’t vegan, but I like to use “flax eggs” in place of eggs in the recipe for a great texture, extra fiber, and some good Omega-3s. They can easily be adapted for vegans using sugar or another liquid sweetener of choice and an equal amount of soured non-dairy milk. My King Arthur’s Baking Companion recommends 1 cup sugar : 3/4 cup honey for substitution. This recipe is so moist I wouldn’t increase the liquid, but if it seems too dry, add a couple tablespoons water or whey if you have it on hand. This is an original recipe, inspired by recipes I’ve tried over the years, from Cooking Light to Nancy Silverton.

 

 

Flax Pecan Muffins
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Baked good
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • 2 tbsp ground flax seed
  • ⅓ c. warm water
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • 1 cup canned pumpkin or 2 large bananas, pureed
  • ½ cup plain yogurt OR whey
  • ½ cup honey
  • ¼ cup coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 12 pecan halves, chopped and toasted
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Lightly grease muffin tin with coconut oil.
  3. Allow yogurt or whey to come to room temperature to prevent coconut oil from solidifying when mixed.
  4. Mix flax seed with warm water and set aside.
  5. While mixing ingredients, toast pecans for 5 minutes.
  6. Combine dry ingredients (flour through ginger) in a large mixing bowl, whisking well.
  7. Combine the remaining wet ingredients, including the flax mixture, in another bowl, whisking well.
  8. Add wet ingredients to dry, stir just until moist.
  9. Lightly stir pecans into the batter.
  10. Divide evenly among 12 prepared muffin cups.
  11. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until muffins test done with a toothpick.
  12. Cool in tin for 10 minutes on a wire rack. Remove from tin and cool completely.

 

Many Posts, All Undone

Honey-Flax GranolaI have a bunch of posts half-written that may never see the light of day. I figured I would just get back on the horse and write a little something. The last few months have had their difficulties, and writing just wasn’t something I wanted to do. But I’m started to feel it again. What will follow today, I’m not certain, but let’s see, shall we?

Today I made a magnificent smoothie for breakfast. Unfortunately there’s no picture of it since I wolfed it down. I think it was magnificent because I used some rich coconut milk (the real stuff, not the Silk or whatever they sell in the refrigerated section), so it was thick and delicious. I mixed in some frozen bananas, pineapple, and mango, a little ground flax and chia seeds, and finally a big handful of baby greens. Topped off with a couple of tablespoons of homemade granola (oh, I do have a picture of that!), and it was delicious.

Tropical Green Smoothie
 
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Whip this up for a quick, bright breakfast or a filling snack.
Author:
Recipe type: Smoothie, Breakfast, Snack
Cuisine: Vegetarian, Vegan
Serves: 1-2
Ingredients
  • 1 frozen banana, sliced
  • ½ cup frozen pineapple
  • ⅓ cup frozen mango
  • 1 date, coarsely chopped
  • ½ to ¾ c. non-dairy milk (coconut adds to the tropical flavor)
  • ½ Tbsp. ground flax seed
  • ½ Tbsp. chia seeds
  • large handful baby greens (about 2 oz.)
Instructions
  1. Place fruit, ½ cup milk, and seeds into the blender jar.
  2. Blend until the fruit starts to break up. Mixture will be very thick, add additional milk if needed.
  3. Stop blender and add greens, pressing them into the mix with a spatula.
  4. Blend again until smooth, stopping and scraping down if needed.

 

Tofu, radish, and shaved carrot salad with sesame-miso vinaigrette

I Don’t Do Resolutions

So why have I decided to embark on a cleanse this year?

I am one who scoffs at resolutions, mostly because I am crap at following through with them. I hate setting myself up for failure, so rather than set some reasonable goals for self-improvement I just don’t even bother. Not formally, anyway.

Last year while we were still in Uzbekistan I saw lots of tweets about Bon Appétit‘s annual Food Lover’s Cleanse. Unlike a juice cleanse or that cayenne pepper and lemon detox thing, this “cleanse” relies on whole, fresh foods, simply prepared, with a minimum of processed ingredients, and no refined starches or sugars. I was really intrigued by the two-week venture, partly because I’d been sick for several weeks and felt run-down and icky. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find many of the ingredients on the local market in Tashkent, so I abandoned the idea.

But this year Paul and I have decided to do it, and frankly we’re totally excited about finding new ways to use up all the interesting veggies we get in our CSA box from Johnson’s Backyard Garden every other week! We really lucked out because our box comes with an incredible variety of produce, most of which we’ll use in the recipes, and since we’ve already paid for it the grocery bill didn’t seem too steep.

In reviewing the recipes and planning my shopping list, I did find myself struggling a bit. A couple of dishes call for mangoes, which are out of season and stupid expensive this time of year. Some others call for agave nectar, which is fairly high in fructose and has been shown in studies to be linked to insulin resistance and other health concerns. And since I don’t eat beef or pork, we’ve got some substituting to do. I’ll be using honey or maple syrup in place of agave, but not sure what to do about those dang mangoes!

Getting Started

On New Year’s Eve day Paul and I headed to Central Market with our cleanse shopping list in hand. We bought a ton of greens, lots of herbs, freshly ground almond butter, miso, nuts and seeds, and a shocking amount of Aleppo pepper. All this supplements the carrots, radishes, cabbage, fish, and fruits we already had on hand.

It felt like we were the only people buying “normal” food in the entire store. Most carts were filled with wine, cheese, cream, dips, fancy desserts, champagne, and other celebration foods. I’ll admit, we were feeling a bit smug, but we did close out this difficult year with a lovely New Year’s Eve dinner at Swift’s Attic.

Today’s Menu

This morning started with Steel Cut Oats with Blackberries and Hemp Seeds, except at our house it was Rolled Oats with Blueberries and Flax Seed. I couldn’t find hemp seeds at the market, and I have bags of frozen wild blueberries in my freezer, so I’ll just have to get my antioxidants and flavonoids from those guys until they run out.

Tofu, radish, and shaved carrot salad with sesame-miso vinaigretteLunch was what I’ll have to call a Hugh Jass salad, featuring a veggie I don’t love: radish. However, the Sesame-Miso Vinaigrette was incredibly flavorful, and once all the vegetables and tofu were combined the tastes blended quite well and I really enjoyed the radishes. I recommend the recipe for Spinach, Tofu, and Shaved Carrot Salad with Sesame Dressing and Spiced Pepita and Cashew Crunch, and the little spicy nuts and seeds are a great addition.

In working through the first day, this cleanse is not for the faint of heart, weak of kitchen skill, impatient, or otherwise easily frustrated in the kitchen. And if you’re unfamiliar with some of the ingredients, be prepared to do your own research, as the recipes don’t provide much information or guidance. Although, if you’re a food lover you probably are familiar with most of the ingredients.

Prepping dinner made me a little crazy. The Greenest Tahini Sauce recipe is unnecessarily complicated, I think. I understand blanching the garlic to give it a milder flavor, but blanching and shocking and draining and squeezing the relatively small amount of watercress (or in my case, arugula) and herbs is a bunch of steps in it that seem…excessive. Would it really be any less delicious if the greens and herbs were used fresh? Or maybe a quick steam in the microwave would work? It just took a lot of time and kitchen equipment to make about 1 cup of sauce.

The Red Quinoa with Walnuts and Shallots, however, was simple and delicious, even though I forgot to toast and add the walnuts (which would have been pecans in my case.

Roasted veg bon appetitI’m least pleased with the Roasted Beets, Carrots, and Jerusalem Artichokes. I already had a bunch of roasted beets, so I skipped that part of the recipe. My carrots and Jerusalem artichokes took longer than 20 minutes to cook, and when they were finally tender they were more steamed than roasted. My oven is pretty much right on temperature, so I would raise the temp to 450 to get more roastiness on the vegetable if I make this again.

Overall we enjoyed the meal, and I’m sure the leftovers will make a nice salad tomorrow. So far I’m generally impressed with how flavorful the recipes are, despite some of the prep difficulties, and I’m looking forward to the upcoming meals.

My Best Recipe: Butternut Squash Risotto

Squash blog

If ever asked, I would be hard-pressed to say what my very best recipe is, but this would be one of the handful that would leap to mind. In our foodie-obsessed culture it sometimes seems that the more retro or the more avant-garde a dish is, the more respect it commands. For me, the idea of a best recipe is one that is consistent, easy to remember, uses a handful of staple ingredients, and can be whipped together for weeknight dinner or easy weekend meals.

That’s exactly what risotto is for me. I’ve been making versions of this dish for about twenty years, adding flourishes to the basic recipe. This recipe is a best friend–it never lets me down, and picks me up when I need comfort. It’s hearty, savory, and there’s a zen to the process of making it.

One of our household favorites is pumpkin or butternut risotto. They both use the same basic recipe and take the same amount of time to make, but pumpkin from a can save a few prep steps and if you’re like us, there’s usually some in the pantry or freezer. This is a perfect fall recipe that can be made vegan or not, depending on your choice of stock and cheese.

Risotto with Butternut Squash or Pumpkin (adapted from Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant)

5 cups stock, vegetable or chicken

2 Tbsp. olive oil or butter, or a combinations of both (or sub some schmaltz for butter if you have it)

1 small yellow onion, finely chopped

1 1/2 cups arborio rice

1/2 small butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/2″ cubes or 1 cup pumpkin puree

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

salt and pepper to taste

  1. Bring the stock to a boil in a medium saucepan. Lower the heat and maintain a simmer.
  2. Heat the oil and/or butter in a large, heavy saucepan on medium heat and saute the onion for 2 to 3 minutes, until translucent but not browned.
  3. Add the rice and stir for one minute to thoroughly coat the rice with oil, taking care not to break the grains.
  4. Add the wine and stir constantly until it is absorbed.
  5. If using squash, add the cubes followed by 1/2 cup of stock and stir until the liquid is absorbed.
  6. Ladle in the simmering chicken stock, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring after each addition until it is absorbed. It should take about 18 to 20 minutes to cook the rice. Reduce the stock added toward the end and increase the frequency, tasting for the point where the rice is tender but al dente.
  7. If using pumpkin puree, add the puree at the halfway point.
  8. Remove the risotto from the heat and stir in the grated cheese.

If you are vegan, this recipe is still delicious without the cheese, but will likely need a bit more salt to taste.

Either version is really lovely with a bit of sage or herbes de Provence, as well.