Fiesta Quinoa

Fiesta QuinoaAh, the plans I make and the menus I create….only to be dashed to pieces the first night!  Grocery day can be crazy in our household, with stops at several stores, since no single one of them carries everything with which I cook.  Today (actually, several months ago, since I found this post hiding in my draft folder) was no different ~ except a couple of extra errands were tossed in for good measure.  This meant I didn’t have the needed time to make the do-ahead items on my menu for the week.  Which also meant that when I got home late, there was no instant supper to put on the table. Continue reading

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Ripe Peach Blueberry Smoothie

Now that it’s fall and recipes are leaning toward pumpkin and apples, I’m going to bring you a blast from the heat of August!  So put on your sunglasses and flip flops and pretend it’s still hot outside.

Our friends brought back a huge basket of ripe South Carolina peaches for us twice this year.  They were so juicy and amazing!  This was one of the things I made with them.  They were so ripe that you could just cut them in half (across the equator of the peach), twist them apart, and scoop them out with a spoon (the skin was very thick and didn’t do well in the blender.)  I threw them in granola, smoothies, fruit salads, cobblers, crisps, and ice cream.

I thought I had posted this during the summer so you could make it with ripe peaches, but apparently I was wrong.  However, if you froze some of the fruit of your summer bounty, you can thaw them now and go from there, remembering the sweet tastes of summer.

Ripe Peach Blueberry Smoothie

Ripe Peach Smoothie

  • 2-3 very ripe peaches, halved, pitted, and scooped out of the peel
  • 2 large handfuls of baby spinach
  • 2 kale leaves, stems removed OR 1/4 c. of loose flat parsley leaves (this gives a peppery taste)
  • 1/2 c. (approximately) frozen blueberries
  • 1/4 c. (approximately) frozen pineapple (optional)
  • 3-4″ piece of celery, roughly cut into a few pieces to help the blender
  • 2 T. ground chia seeds (or flaxseeds)
  • stevia or other sweetener, to taste (I use a few sprinkles)
  • non-dairy milk as needed (I prefer coconut) ~ I rarely needed any with the ripe peaches

Place the peaches in the bottom of the blender, because they will become the liquid for the rest of the smoothie.  Throw in everything else and blend thoroughly.

This makes one very large smoothie, or 2 smaller ones.

Blueberry Lemon Kale Smoothie

Some of my favorite recipes have come together because of what I did or did not have on hand.  This morning I had no more fresh spinach left due to my forgetfulness to stop at the store yesterday, but there was a slice of honeydew.  My typical morning smoothie contains kale and spinach along with fruit ~ usually frozen.  After tossing in just the kale and the honeydew, I stared at the blender trying to imagine what would go well with them.  I love blueberries and honeydew together.  And of course everyone knows that blueberry and lemon pairing is classic, but would it translate into the smoothie?  I’ve failed before with lemon juice in a smoothie….

…But not this time!!  This smoothie has a bright, summery flavor that makes you want to jump right into your favorite warm weather fun.  The flavor lasts hauntingly in the background of your taste buds teasing you long after the smoothie is a memory.  I have a new favorite now!

Blueberry Lemon Kale SmoothieBlueberry Lemon Kale Smoothie

  • 3 red curly kale leaves, stem removed (if fairly large, just use 2)
  • 1 1/2 – 2 c. honeydew melon (about 1/8 of a melon)
  • 1/2 – 1 c. frozen blueberries (honestly, I didn’t measure – just tossed)
  • 2″ piece of frozen banana
  • 2-4 T. ground chia seed **
  • juice of 1 small lemon
  • sweetener, to taste – I used a few sprinkles of pure stevia powder
  • coconut milk (not canned) – I used Silk coconut vanilla flavor, but use the brand you prefer.

Whiz all ingredients up in a blender, using just enough coconut milk to get the blender going at first.  You can always add more as you go, but the honeydew typically will release a lot of juiciness so that you won’t need very much else.

This makes enough for 1 person’s stand-alone breakfast or 2 people’s smaller servings.  Mine made about 3 cups and though I offered sips to other family members, I wasn’t sad when they turned me down and I got it all.  😉  (They are not green smoothie enthusiasts.)

**Not only is this little seed a powerhouse of omega-3’s, but it has loads of protein and fiber, too!  It will give your smoothie staying power so that you aren’t hungry for hours.  If you aren’t a fan of chia seed or haven’t used it much, only use a small amount to begin with until you get acclimated to it.  It will thicken the smoothie, especially if you don’t drink it right away.  If you plan to take it with you as you commute, you might use more liquid or less chia seed.

Tuscany Stew for the Virtual Vegan Potluck

Welcome to Cheerfully Vegan’s main course dish for the Virtual Vegan Potluck!  If you’ve started from the beginning of the potluck and are working your way through, you must have seen some amazing recipes by now.  If you are jumping into the potluck for the first time using my blog as your entry point, then welcome to the program already in progress!  😀  Let me catch you up to speed (the rest of you can jump to the next paragraph.)  V.V.P. is a marvelous online, twice-yearly get-together of 100 (give or take) vegan or vegan-friendly food bloggers around the world.  Each blogger signs up for what kind of dish they will “bring” ~ and then on the set date, posts that recipe on their blog.  We each link to the blog before and after ours (see the leaf links at the bottom of this page) so that you can start at any one point in the 100 blogs and just click to see the previous or the next entry.  Pretty simple, huh?  Let’s get started!  For those of you who want to jump to the head of the table and start from the beginning, click on the leaf at the beginning of this paragraph.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled program….

When I was trying to decide what to bring to the potluck, I was torn.  Do I make something showy and/or spectacular, or do I choose a simple dish that everybody will make time and time again?  Since I was jumping into this at the last minute (somebody needed to bow out a couple of days ago and I was blessed to take their place) I really didn’t have a lot of time to hem and haw over the decision!  Finally, I chose something that is a little of both.  It is simple to prepare with a relatively short list of ingredients, but the flavor is spectacular ~ at least if you love garlic and spicy Tofurkey links it is!  😉

The great thing about this dish is that you can be as hands-on, or not, as you like.  You can choose to cook the beans from scratch and grow your own greens to pick fresh (okay, okay…or pick them fresh from the display at the store), or you can pick up canned cannellini beans and frozen greens when you need supper on the table quickly.

My plan was to do something in between ~ canned beans and fresh kale from the market.  Mmmm…not so much.  By the time I got to the store late yesterday all of my favorite organic curly red kale was GONE!  (Understand that this was more of a crisis in my mind for my morning smoothies than for the soup…*sniff*)  I knew that the grocery store also carried a great substitute of frozen turnip greens with diced turnips (alas, not organic) that I had used in the past.  Since I not only needed a picture or two for the blog as well as supper for the evening ~ and it was getting late ~ I opted for the frozen greens.  Time had run out to dash to another store in the hopes that they still had some kale left.

I made a double batch of this last night and it is a good thing I did!  My plan was to have enough leftovers for lunch for 2, or even 3 of us.  It was so popular with the family that there is only a single serving left.

Tuscany Stew

  • 2 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lg. onion
  • 1 14-oz pkg. Tofurkey Italian “sausage” links, halved lengthwise and sliced (to decrease the intensity of the spicy flavor, only use half the package)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2-2 c. cannellini beans (or 1 can), rinsed and drained (you may substitute navy beans, but add them a few minutes before serving so that they don’t turn to mush)
  • 2 c. water
  • 2 T. chicken-style seasoning
  • 1 pound greens, fresh or frozen – kale, turnip greens, spinach, etc. – chopped (remove any tough stems if you choose fresh greens)
  • non-dairy grated Parmesan cheese for serving (optional)

In a very large frying pan or a Dutch oven*, saute the onion and Tofurkey pieces in olive oil on medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until the onion is softened and the Tofurkey is browned nicely.  Add the garlic and continue cooking for 1 minute, stirring often to keep the garlic from browning and getting bitter.  (If you prefer, you can skip the last step and just toss the garlic in at the next step instead.)  Stir in the remaining ingredients and simmer until the greens are cooked to your preference ~ I like mine very tender.  Whether you chose fresh or frozen greens will affect the cooking time, too.  You probably should plan on approximately 15-20 minutes.  If you like a saucier stew, cover the pot.  If you prefer less broth, cook with no lid, but stir often so that the greens at the top of the pot don’t dry out.

Serve with non-dairy Parmesan cheese and a tasty bread to soak up any extra broth.

Serves: 3-4 (which doesn’t include hungry teenage boys, by the way, which is why I have only one bowlful leftover today.)

*Note ~ I highly recommend a non-stick pan for this, or you’ll need extra oil to keep the links from sticking.

Substitution Soup (aka: Eggplant-Cabbage Soup)

This is a bit earlier in the year than I usually make soup ~ but with cooler evenings arriving earlier than normal, I couldn’t resist.  Last week I found a very large organic eggplant at Kroger.  I’d never seen one there before, so I quickly pounced on it!  Since I needed to use it before it went the way of other science experiments in the back of my frig, this influenced my decision to make this particular soup.

My dear high school friend who taught me about this soup has a different name for it than I use.  She calls it garbage pail soup, because you can throw in just about anything you want and it’s likely to taste good.  Use up the veggies that just can’t wait much longer.  Throw in whatever meat-like substitutes you like.  Just start with the base of the soup and have fun.

I do wish the greens would stay brighter for visuals with this soup, but my family doesn’t like the texture of them wilted at the last minute of cooking time, so I have to put up with duller-looking greens.  The good thing?  It still tastes amazing!  (I ate 2 large bowls of it.)

There is one thing you should know.  This makes a HUGE pot of soup that will last you for more than one meal.  You can freeze some of it.  You can add something new each night to it to make it slightly different.  Or you can invite a crowd over for supper.  🙂

Substitution Soup

Absolutely necessary:

  • 12-16+ c. filtered or well water (depending on the size of your cabbage and other veggie amounts)  Good water is important to the taste of your soup
  • 1 small-to-medium cabbage, diced or sliced
  • 1 eggplant, peeled and diced
  • 2 large onions (more if you like)
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 28-oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 T. basil (more if using fresh)
  • 1 1/2 – 3 tsp. Marmite or Vegex (add the smaller amount and taste test later)
  • 6-8 T. chicken-style seasoning     (ditto)
  • salt to taste
  • 1 T. +/- sweetener (depending on how acidic your canned tomatoes are), optional

Variables:

  • herbs and seasonings of choice (including Spike*, or Mrs. Dash)
  • 3-6 c. diced or shredded potatoes* (or use small cauliflower florets or corn)
  • 1-2 lbs. green vegetables ~ may be frozen (chopped leafy greens such as spinach*, kale, turnip greens*, etc., zucchini – diced or shredded, green beans, chopped broccoli, etc.
  • 1/2-1 c. dried lentils* (or add canned beans at the end of cooking time)
  • 1/2-1 1/2 c. brown rice*, millet, barley (increase cooking time), or other whole grain
  • veggie meat of your choice ~ use more than one kind for added interest ~ chorizo* (for a spicy version), TVP, seitan, homemade or canned gluten pieces, broken soy curls*, soy hot dogs or links, Gimme Lean, chopped up soy burgers, Tofurkey “sausages,” etc.

Throw everything from the “absolutely necessary” list into a large stock pot.  Bring this to a boil while you chop everything else, adding as you go.  The cabbage will decrease in size as it cooks, so you may not need as much water as you think you might.  You may always add more later, as well as more seasonings to balance the extra water.  When the lentils, rice, and potatoes are cooked, taste the soup and see if it needs something, like more salt, or some other kind of seasoning.  Adjust it as needed.  Let the soup cool to serving temperature as a large stockpot of soup can be seriously hot.  Pair it with some marvelous bread and enjoy!

*my choices for the soup pictured

Green and Not-So-Green Smoothies

I’m sure by now that you’ve at least heard of green smoothies if you read very many healthy-eating blogs.  They are the easiest way to increase your leafy green consumption without spending all day chewing your “cud.”  🙂  They are a great way to get kids to eat their veggies, too…….or maybe not.  If your child is color blind, perhaps you can sneak it passed them.  I happen to have a child old enough to know better who flatly refused a green smoothie, even when his relatively-food-fussy father said they tasted good!  (Perhaps even you have dug in your heels against the thought of drinking “grass.”)  So, what is a mom, or a wife, in some instances, to do?

Camouflage, of course!

Remember that fussy child of mine?  He has one favorite smoothie – only one.  It contains a frozen banana, frozen strawberries, stevia, cocoa powder, and vanilla Silk soymilk.  He prefers it to be drinkable, rather than soft-serve-like.  After his staunch breakfast refusal of a green smoothie, he asked for his usual for lunch.  He left the kitchen as I got things out to make it.  I peeked to see if he was busy.  Ah, the coast was clear.  I whipped out the organic baby spinach, rinsed a few leaves, and threw it in.  Just to be on the safe side, I was liberal with the cocoa powder.  Ah…a safe deep brown color showed up as the blender whirred.  I ran it a little extra to make sure no tiny leaf particles remained – and snagged the only one I saw as I poured it into his cup.  When he was done I asked him how it had come out.  “Best ever mom – super creamy this time!”  LOL  Success!

The next time he asked for a smoothie, I put in a whole extra-large handful of the same spinach.  He still couldn’t tell.  The 3rd time I did the same.  I was wondering when to tell him.  That day his brother-in-law was over and pretended to take the smoothie from me for himself.  This man has an allergy to leafy greens!  I had to stop him from swigging some.  The jig was up.  R didn’t bat an eye when I told him what I had done.  He said as long as he couldn’t see it or taste it, he didn’t care what I put in the smoothie!

R’s older brother allows me to fix him daily “green” smoothies…but they must contain some kind of berry to mask the color.  The only trouble is that unless you put enough berry in there, the color leans toward brown or avocado green!  Much less appealing.  This morning I put raspberries in and when J sat down to eat, he was expecting mild chocolate flavor by the color and was startled to find coconut-raspberry.

Honestly, I’m the one in the family who can drink an intensely green smoothie without batting an eye.  As long as it has enough fruit and/or coconut flavor to balance it, I love it.  I feel so much more energy – and so fewer cravings – since I started making these!  (I’ve been known to have one for every meal.)  The only time I ever had trouble was when I put some golden beets in on suggestion of another great blog.  I don’t recommend using very much beet at a time if you choose to use that detoxifying veggie.

Here are my favorite things to use (not necessarily all at once, mind you!) in green smoothies (choose organic as much as possible) ~ baby spinach (the mildest taste effect), red curly kale (the organic version smells like flowers!), cucumber (make sure it’s not a bitter one), a celery stick, frozen blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, mango, and/or pineapple, cocoa powder, Silk coconut milk, and bananas.  I’m sure there are other things that work well, but this is what I have used to experiment thus far.  I also tend to throw some ground flax or chia seeds into mine.

It is fun to experiment with taste preferences.  Try blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, apples, pears, etc.  Let me know what your favorite is!  Or if you just aren’t brave enough to try.

Chocolate Green Smoothie

  • 1 frozen banana
  • 6 oz. of frozen strawberries (I just toss in 1/2 of a 12 oz. bag)
  • 1-2 heaping spoonfuls of cocoa powder
  • a sprinkle of pure stevia powder (optional)
  • a handful of washed baby spinach
  • enough non-dairy milk to make the blender turn (this will depend on the texture you like your smoothies to be – soft-serve or drinkable, and on your blender power)

Whiz all in blender until smooth.  Serve in glass or bowl.

Truly Green Smoothie

  • 2 red curly kale leaves, stem end broken off
  • 1-2 handfuls of washed baby spinach
  • a 3-4″ cucumber spear
  • a 3-4″ celery stick
  • 1 c. (or more) frozen mango chunks
  • 1/2 c. (or more) fresh or frozen pineapple chunks
  • a sprinkle of pure stevia powder (optional)
  • 1-2 T. ground flax or chia seed (optional)
  • enough Silk coconut milk to make the blender turn (this will depend on your blender power – I like a thick green smoothie somewhere between solely drinkable and spoonable)

Whiz all in blender until smooth.  Serve in glass or bowl.

Once you are accustomed to the green smoothie look and taste, increase your greens and decrease the fruit for more of a veggie-packed whollop.  You can add a banana to the mix for extra creaminess and sweetness.