Eat Curry, Be Happy.

When it’s 7 degrees like it was here in Montana today, I want something spicy to warm me up.  The answer to my craving for such things was a warm sweet potato spinach curry burger with a little dollop of chili garlic mayo (Vegenaise, of course) and some more fresh spinach, with a squeeze of fresh lime juice, all atop a crispy homemade corn tortilla.  That did the trick.  These curry burgers are laced with the warm flavors of smoked paprika, curry, and fresh ginger, and have a slight sweetness from the sweet potatoes, and a little tangy from the sun dried tomatoes.  Not only will these curry burgers warm you up on a chilly winter day, they also give your body a health dose of protein from lentils, quinoa, and brown rice flour, not to mention a slew of other vitamins and minerals.  Mmm.  P.S. You might want to cut this recipe in half, as it will make about 30 burgers!

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Sweet Potato Spinach Curry Burgers

Ingredients:

2 cups lentils

1/2 cup quinoa

1 medium sweet potato, cut into 1/4″ cubes

3/4 cup chopped onion

3/4 cup chopped mushrooms

3/4 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes

2 cups fresh spinach

1 cup unsweetened dried coconut

1/2 cup unsalted vegetable broth

1 cup flour (I used brown rice flour)

1 bunch of green onions

1 1/2″ piece of fresh ginger, grated

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 Tbsp smoked paprika

2 Tbsp curry powder

1 1/2 tsp ground black pepper

1 tsp salt, or to taste

Directions:

1)  Cook lentils and quinoa.  Transfer to very large bowl or pot and set aside.

2)  In a large skillet, add a bit of oil, and cook sweet potato until little browned and slightly soft.  Transfer to bowl of lentil and quinoa mixture.

3)  Add onions, mushrooms, and sundried tomatoes to skillet and cook over low-medium heat until onions are transparent.  Add to bowl of lentil mixture.

4)  Chop the two cups of spinach.  Add to bowl of lentil mixture.

5)  Add the remaining ingredients to lentil mixture, making sure to add the flour gradually as to avoid lumps.

6)  When all ingredients are well combined, form patties from 1/4 cup scoops of burger mix

7)  Add patties to a well-oiled skillet and cook until browned on both sides.

8)  Enjoy!

Auld Lang Pie

Hi friends!  I apologize for not posting any good eats for a few weeks.  ‘Twas finals week, but I guess all that hard work paid off:  4.0, yo!  And my wonderful boyfriend from Texas moved up to the Great Northern Yonder.  Anyway, I’m back and ready to lay it on thick with recipes.  Because I have time to read these days, reading of books of my choice, without deadlines, I have been reading all kinds of things.  As it’s harder for me to keep off weight now that I am not a construction worker any longer, sweating all the time in Texas, or biking nine hours a day, I thought it would be wise to read up on nutrition and keeping a healthy weight until I can get the heck back to Austin when I’m done getting learned up here in Montana.  I’m learning so much about the many minerals we humans need.  Magnesium, for one, is an extremely important mineral that of which about half of people don’t get enough.  This mineral is essential in over 300 cell reactions! (101 Recipes You Can’t Live Without from Prevention by Lori Powell)   Amazing.  I’m a pretty healthy eater (my carb-laden recipes on here do not reflect my very healthy diet) but there’s always room for improvement.  I suggest to all of you, that you get your vitamins and minerals in your food.  Don’t swallow them with a gulp of water.  Getting your nutrients from your food is the most absorbable and bioavailable form of everything you need to keep your body functioning and healthy.  Eating colorfully, seasonally, and with variety is a great way to ensure that you’re getting everything you need.  The following recipe should not be necessarily a staple of your diet, but a treat that is gluten free and contains some good nutrients.  Let’s talk about the star of this pie:  Chocolate!  

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Chocolate contains polyphenols, an antioxidant, in the form of flavonoids.  Flavonoids, have shown anti-cancer activity as well as help in stroke prevention as it reduces the blood’s ability to clot.  (Mayo Clinic)  Chocolate also contains some magnesium, iron, calcium, and potassium.  Almonds also are quite present in this recipe.  Almonds are rockstars when it comes to anticancer properties.  They are also full of protein, several B vitamins, calcium, iron, potassium, and are one of the best sources of vitamin E.  (The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia, Wood)  Secondly, flax has minor role in this recipe.  I mostly use flax seed as a staple when it comes to replacing eggs, which has its benefits.  Firstly, flax seeds are cholesterol-free and also contain “good fats,” in the form of omega-3 fatty acids.  Omega-3s are used for the prevention and treatment of coronary disease and may even serve to keep your brain young and help prevent Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.  (101 Recipes…, Powell) When I’m not eating the omega-3s from flax meal from this delicious pie, I make sure to sprinkle 2 tablespoons on my steel cut oats every morning and enjoy 2,400 mg of omega-3 (1,000 milligrams is the recommended daily amount), 3 grams of protein, 2% of your daily calcium, 4% of your iron, and a whopping 15% of the fiber you need for the day.  Another fatty acid in this pie is in the form of coconut oil, which I use for everything, and you should too.  Here’s why:  Although being high in saturated fat, it is over 50% medium-chain fatty acids.  This type of fat is never stored as fat but is instead metabolized by the body into the form of energy.  It also contains lauric acid, which helps improve brain and immune system function.  This pie also contains tofu which is full of calcium and iron, essential for bone and heart health, and keeps muscles functioning well and energy levels high, respectively.  So aside from the healthful new you, ring in the New Year with a rich and chocolatey (vegan and gluten-free) pie that’s a real crowd pleaser!  Happy New Year!!      

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Chocolate Dream Pie: 

Crust:

Ingredients  

  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp agave or maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • 1/4 cup flaxseed meal + 3/4 cup water (combine and let sit for a few minutes)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup slivered almonds

Directions:

1)  Work coconut oil into almond flour until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  

2)  Add unsweetened coconut.

3)  Add flaxseed meal mixture and mix until well-combined.

4)  Add remaining ingredients and add slivered almonds last.  Knead until a wet dough forms.

5)  Pat pie crust into greased 9″ pie pan and bake in 350 degree F oven for 20 minutes or until lightly browned.  

Filling:  

Ingredients

  • 1 cup organic and fair trade dark chocolate chips
  • 1 16 oz package of silken tofu, beaten until smooth
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/4 of egg replacer (corn starch, flour, or flaxmeal can also be used but the texture may be slightly different) + 6 tbsp water, mixed and set aside for a few minutes
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla

Directions:

1)  In a double boiler (or because I don’t have a fancy double boiler, a large pot filled with a few inches of water with another pot on top, allowing some steam to escape), melt the chocolate chips.  

2)  Add melted chocolate chips to beaten silken tofu.

3)  Add cocoa powder until no lumps remain.

4)  Add remaining ingredients.  

5)  Add mixture to medium pot and cook over low heat until hot being VERY CAREFUL not to scorch mixture as this will ruin the pie.  

6)  Pour filling into crust and chill until firm.  

7)  ENJOY!  

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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…