When life hands you (too much) mashed potatoes….

MAKE BISCUITS!

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I now have THREE different types of biscuits in my recipe arsenal.  But this recipe was imperative as I probably took home ten pounds of mashed potatoes on Thanksgiving!  They have a slight potato flavor, they’re fluffy, and they’re hypoglycemic’s nightmare.

Mashed Potato Biscuits:

(makes 12 large biscuits)

Ingredients:

–  3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour + 1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour (make all cups of flour all-purpose flour if you want extra light, fluffy biscuits)

–  2 Tbsp baking powder

–  1 Tbsp salt

–  1 1/2 cups Earth Balance

–  1 1/3 cup unsweetened soymilk

–  1 Tbsp mild tasting vinegar (like rice vinegar) or lemon juice

–  2 Tbsp flax meal

–  3 cups mashed potatoes

Directions:

1)  In a large bowl, add flour(s), salt, and baking powder.

2)  Add melted butter to large bowl with flour mixture and combine until coarse crumbs form.  Set aside.

3)  In a medium bowl, add soymilk and vinegar or lemon juice and stir.  Let sit for a few minutes.

4)  Add flax meal to soymilk mixture, stir, and let sit for a few minutes.

5)  Add mashed potatoes to soymilk mixture and whisk until combined.

6)  Add mashed potato mixture to flour mixture and mix until combined.  Do not overmix as this will turn your fluffy biscuits into hockey pucks.

7)  Scoop dough by 1/2 increments (I used a dry measuring cup, which acts as a nice biscuit mold) onto a greased sheet pan.

8)  Bake at 425 deg F for 20-25 minutes, until lightly browned.

9)  Eat and be thankful you don’t have to eat a few spoonfuls of cold mashed potatoes, as if you were eating out of an ice cream container, each time you visit the refrigerator as I have for the past week…

Who’s Got the Herb[ed Lentil Patties]?

What to do now that Thanksgiving has left, and you’re left with the leftovers:

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A fraction of the Thanksgiving table at my very Montana Thanksgiving celebration with friends

If you’re like me, and have twelve pounds of mashed potatoes, a few pints of gravy, one entire pie, and half of a squash all left over from Thanksgiving, and on top of that, live by yourself, you are probably wondering what on Earth to do with all of this food.  I am trying to come up with solutions.  I actually made the following recipe for Thanksgiving, but because this dish was next to the turkey and people thought they were some weird cookies, I pretty much went home with all of these patties.  They are delectable with a ladleful of gravy and will quickly deplete your gravy supplies.  If you do decide to make them, I would advise adding some extra water or unsalted broth as they were a bit dry, probably because they slowly baked in the oven.  Better yet, if you’re feeling particularly unabashed about additional calorie consumption this holiday season that is bound to happen (you’ll be better about this come January 1st, right?  Probably not…Right!), I would FRY these patties.   I often forget how much I like lentils.   They take a lot less time to prepare than their other leguminous brethren (no soaking, and about 30 minutes to cook!) and they’re flavorful and versatile to boot.  Did I mention this recipe is gluten-free?  It can also be made with wheat flour, if you are not concerned about gluten.  Top these with some gravy and serve them with some mashed potatoes (if they are not nauseating to you by now), some slow-cooked collard greens, and you’ve got a comfort meal for a cozy night in.  Alternatively, top these suckers with some homemade sauerkraut, a spicy smokey tabasco mayonnaise, all in a crusty sourdough bread, and you’ve got yourself a nice sandwich for lunch.

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Herbed Lentil Patties:

Ingredients:

2 c. lentils

4 cups of water (or unsalted broth)

2 Tbsp flax meal + 6 Tbsp water (let sit for a few minutes)

3/4 cup all-purpose gluten-free or wheat flour

1 Tbsp rosemary

1 tsp celery salt

1/2 cup finely chopped mushrooms

1/2 cup finely chopped onion

1 tsp smoked salt

1 tsp ground pepper

1 tsp tarragon

1 cup water (added 1/4 cup at time until mixture is slightly wet – add more than 1 cup if necessary)

Directions:

1)  Cook lentils until tender, about 30 minutes.

2)  Remove lentils from heat and transfer to a larger bowl.  Mash lentils with ricer.

3) Add remaining ingredients until well combined, and add water 1/4 cup at a time, mixing, until mixture is slightly damp.

4)  Form into patties by the 1/4 cupful.

5)  Fry in 1/2 – 1″ of hot oil until lightly browned, or bake at 400 degrees F for 30 minutes (Flip patties at 15 minutes)

6)  ENJOY.

The [Cranberry] Apple [Crisp] of my Eye…now with sound!

Oh JOY! It’s the most glorious day of the year…a day revolving around feasting and a day where it is okay for me to cook all day and take my time and not feel like I’m playing whilst piles of graduate school work loom over me.  It’s…THANKSGIVING.  I am going to yet another Friendsgiving which marks the third year of me being away from my family during this holiday… 😦  I am grateful for dear friends who have taken me in every year and thrown the most delectable gatherings though.  This Thanksgiving, I will be feasting with friends from my graduate school department.  I will be bringing a whole slew of things, partly because I love to cook for others, and partly because there are more people here who are localvores and will most likely make local Yukon gold potatoes mashed and chock full of Lifeline Creamery milk and butter, than care about vegans…I’m sure they care, but there won’t be any vegan mashed potatoes!!  Ain’t no hard feelings!  Soo, I will be making some local Yukon gold potatoes mashed with Earth Balance and soy milk.  MMM.  I will also be making mushroom gravy, herbed lentil croquettes, a delicata squash boat (see previous post!), aaaand two cranberry apple crisps!  Did you know that New Jersey is the third leading cranberry producer in the US of A?  It’s true!  I’ve gotta represent up here!  This recipe makes two 9 inch pies.  The crust is a coconut shortbread crust with a hint of maple.  The apples are coated in lemon zest, honey, and cinnamon.  The topping is a classic crumb, buttery, nutty, salty/sweet, and full of oats!  I hope you, your family, and your friends have an absolutely wonderful Thanksgiving.  May your holiday not be fraught with unsavory political or social opinions and/or discriminatory remarks of any kind. Instead, may it be full of good food, love, kindness, and warmth.  There are so many things for which to be grateful!  Enjoy.

Also, listen to this cooking/entertaining soundtrack I’ve made filled with songs with food, party, or autumn themes, or song titles that at least could be interpreted as such.  The last song is the best… Listen here:  A Very Twigfood Thankgiving Playlist

Cranberry Apple Crisp:

Crust:

–  2 1/2 cups flour

– 1 cup coconut

–  1/2 cup Earth Balance

–  1/4 cup coconut oil

–  2 Tbsp flax meal + 6 Tbsp water (mix and let sit for a few minutes)

–  2 Tbsp maple syrup

Filling:

–  4 medium baking or tart variety apples, cored and thinly sliced

–  2 Tbsp honey

–  2 tsp cinnamon

–  zest of 2 lemons

–  1/2 c fresh cranberries

Crumb topping:

–  2 cups rolled oats

– 1/2 cup flour

– 1/2 cup chopped pecans

–  1/4 tsp salt

–  1/4 cup Earth Balance

–  1/4 cup brown sugar

–  1 1/2 tsp vanilla

Directions:

1)  In a large bowl, mix flour and coconut together.

2)  Add Earth Balance and coconut oil and use a pastry cutter (or your hands) and combine until mixture forms coarse crumbs.

3)  Add flax meal mixture and maple syrup and mix until just combined.  Knead mixture briefly and divide into two portions.

4)  Flatten evenly along the bottom and up the sides of two well greased and floured 9 inch pie pans.  Set aside.

For the filling:

1)  In a large bowl, add sliced apples and cranberries.

2)  Add honey and lemon zest and gently mix, to avoid tearing the thinly sliced apples, until combined.

3)  Arrange the apple slices in a spiral pattern (if you’re feeling particularly fancy) in the prepared pie crusts like so:

For the crumb topping:

1)  In a medium bowl, add oats, flour, pecans, salt, and brown sugar, and mix until combined.

2)  Add the Earth Balance, vanilla, and flax meal mixture and stir until crumbs form.  Top the filled apple filled pie crusts.

3)  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes, when the crumb topping and crust has slightly browned.

4)  Enjoy!

Don’t Rock the [Squash] Boat, Baby!

I know it probably doesn’t seem like it from a majority of the recipes that I’ve posted thus far, but I’m actually a healthy eater…although, I did use about half of a three pound tub of Earth Balance, consume a few pumpkin maple cupcakes, nosh on a few biscuits with more Earth Balance, and try a few types of fruit-based booze my friend made, just this past weekend…I think it’s a time I prove that I actually do love making and eating healthy food.  I feel like I’ve been trying to come up with something for weeks to make for Thanksgiving that won’t have me faceplant into my dinner halfway through the meal because I’m eating such heavy food.  I have mentioned that I LOVE that it’s squash season now, right?  I know that squash was featured in my last recipe, but in this recipe you can actually see an intact squash, my favorite squash, the delicata, in all its stately emerald-striped golden glory.  It’s time to set sail in a delicata squash boat to taste the motley mingling of worldly flavors from Peru to France to the Mediterranean to your local farmer’s market into…uncharded territory, perhaps?  Har har.  Protein-, calcium-, and iron-rich quinoa (accompanied by chili powder, peppers, sweet potatoes, and a little heat from some cayenne peppers) fills a buttery-tasting baked delicata squash boat, and is topped with mix of rainbow chard and kalamata olives seasoned with fresh lemon juice, shallots, salt, pepper, with a garnish of maple-honey glazed pistachios.  I don’t want to toot my own horn anything, but toot toot…Dang, this is delicious!  It’s worth the time it takes to prepare it!

Quinoa & Chard-Stuffed Squash Boats:

Ingredients:

Quinoa filling:

– 2 large delicata squash, seeds removed, baked (400°F for 30 min or until tender)

–  2 cups cooked quinoa

– 3/4 cup cubed (1/2 in) sweet potatoes

– 1/2 c. sweet red, yellow, or orange bell pepper

– 1/4 cup chopped yellow onion

– 1/2 small fresh cayenne pepper, finely chopped (optional)

–  1 Tbsp chili powder

– 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

–  1 tsp smoked salt

Chard topping:

– 2 large leaves of rainbow chard

– 1/4 cup chopped shallots

– 1/2 tsp ground black pepper

–  2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice

– Zest of 1 lemon

– 1/2 tsp salt

– 5 kalamata olives, pitted & finely chopped

Pistachio garnish:

-1/4 shelled pistachios, chopped

– 1 Tbsp Earth Balance, coconut, or olive oil

– 1/2 tsp honey

– 1 tsp Grade B maple syrup

– pinch or two of salt

Directions:

1)  In a large oiled skillet, add sweet potato cubes.

2)  When sweet potatoes are half cooked, add yellow onion, cayenne pepper, and bell pepper.

3)  Add cinnamon, chili powder, and smoked salt.  Stir occasionally until sweet potato mixture is fully cooked.

4)  Add quinoa and stir until well combined and flavors have melded.  Fill squash boats with equal amounts of filling.

Chard topping:

1)  Add chopped chard stems and chopped shallots to oiled skillet over low-medium heat.

2)  When shallots and chard stems are cooked, add olives, black pepper, lemon juice, salt, and chopped chard leaves.

3)  Remove from heat and and top, in equal amounts, the quinoa filled squash boats.

Pistachio garnish:

1)  In a skillet over low-med heat, add Earth Balance or oil.

2)  When Earth Balance had melted or oil sizzles, add pistachios.

3)  When pistachios have cooked for a minute or two, add honey, maple, and pinch of salt, and stir constantly for a minute at most.  Immediately top squash boats with this garnish.

4)  Reheat squash boats in oven, if necessary.

5)  EAT.

6)  ENJOY.

“Let me make you something to eat.”

This is what I imagine every Italian grandmother might say upon guests arriving at her house, regardless of the guests’ hunger level.  I imagine this is what mine would say, too, if I knew her now.  I think she made a lot of good, heavy, Italian food, and I wish I knew.  Regardless, I will try to carry on my little sliver of Italian heritage in my own way, aside from expressing it with my hair arms and my propensity to [almost] get tan in the summer.  Here in Montana, and probably everywhere in the country, it is one of my favorite times of year:  SQUASH SEASON!  The green-striped golden delicata squash with its delicate, buttery taste is my favorite.  However, I just tried a buttercup squash this week, and it is a close second behind delicata squash.  Imagine the the tastes of a sweet potato, pumpkin, and delicata all blended into one creamy squash and you have the buttercup.  This week, I discovered that it is not only delectable for eating roasted, mashed, and eaten plain with a bit of salt, but it is also perfect for making gnocchi!

What the heck is gnocchi anyway?  Gnocchi is a pasta, almost like small dumplings, that is traditionally made with a potato dough.  It’s great for vegans because you don’t have to make it with eggs.  It’s just potato, flour, salt, and oil, although I think some people make it with eggs and butter.  It is certainly a carb bomb and I think it could be part of a quintessential (& occasional) autumn or winter meal.  You know, the kind of meal, that just makes you want to do little else but take a snooze afterwards.  ‘Tis the season.

Also, now that it’s soup season, here’s a sustainable living tip:  Instead of tossing your carrot and onion ends, herb stems, and other less palatable pieces of vegetables into the compost, collect them in a large jar kept in the refrigerator.  When the jar is full, empty those scraps into a large stock pot, add a quart of water, and simmer.  You’ve got yourself some homemade broth!  Now, you can compost those scraps.  🙂  Note:  Do NOT add scraps from members of the cabbage family (beets, broccoli, kale, etc) as they have an overpowering effect in broth and smell like…methane.

O, Broth, where art thou? Hopefully not heading to your compost bin (yet)!

To begin, I cut the buttercup squash into two halves, removed the seeds, and placed them cut side down in a baking dish with about 1/2 inch-3/4 inch of water.  I baked the squash in a 400 °F oven for about an hour.  Then I scooped out the roasted flesh and mashed it.

Buttercup Squash Gnocchi:

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cooked, mashed buttercup squash
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups unbleached, white all-purpose flour
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • extra flour

Directions:

1)  Fill a large stock pot with water and heat until boiling.  Add a bit of oil to water to prevent pasta from sticking together.

2)  In a large bowl, combine mashed squash, olive oil, and salt until well blended.

3)  Add the flour 1/4 cup at a time to squash mixture and knead until the dough no longer sticks to your hands.  Do NOT overmix as pasta will become too chewy.

4)  Roll handfuls of dough into 3/4 inch diameter ropes on floured surface.  Cut of 1/2 -3/4 inch pieces, depending on the size you like your pasta.  Roll piece into ball in your palm.  Flatten ball with the back tines of fork and roll off fork.  Wait until you have about ten pieces.  Toss into boiling water and when pieces float to the top, skim out with slotted spoon.  Does this make sense?  Here is how another person does the gnocchi fork roll.

5)  Top with your favorite sauce!  I used a garlic leek cream sauce!  Mmm…

Eats to West: Two Wheels [& Six Meals a Day] for Victory!

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As you may know, I rode a bicycle across the US of A with Bike & Build this past summer.  Although I was unable to cook most of the time, that didn’t stop me from taking photos of my encounters with … Continue reading