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

Quick Quinoa

You come home from ________ which took longer than you anticipated and are exhausted ~ only you remember that you still need to make supper.  No problem…you have a plan…until you open the cupboard/frig/freezer and discover a) somebody’s eaten a crucial ingredient to your plan, b) formerly mentioned crucial ingredient has spoiled, or c) you are actually missing said ingredient that you thought you picked up at the grocery store last week.  Now what?

This recipe is what ~ at least for me two nights ago!  Quinoa (pronounced keenwa) is a super fast “grain” to cook up.  (It’s actually a seed, but it’s texture and behavior is more grain-like.  It has no gluten and loads of protein.)  It adds plenty of substance to a dish for the hungry hordes who can’t subsist on haute cuisine’s small portions.

Even as I made this as a substitute for what I was supposed to make, I found out I still had an ingredient problem.  When I opened the new salsa/picante sauce jar and poured it into the measuring cup, lo and behold, it wasn’t enough!!  (I was doubling this recipe.)  I already had some of the ingredients cooking.  What was I going to do?  Then I remembered I had some cans of Rotel diced tomatoes and green chilis.  Perfect.  I was so excited that I opened the can and tossed the whole thing into the frying pan…without measuring it.  Rats.  Did I mention that I was exhausted out of my mind?  Mmm.

Well, now I figured I would have a slightly soupy mix.  I could either take the lid off and cook it all down, taking more time than I was willing to give, OR I could get some soycurls out of the freezer, snap them into small pieces, and throw them into the mix to soak up the excess.  (What are soycurls?  Read this.)  I went with the soycurls ~ just 1 c. for the doubled recipe.  Perfect!  Hubby announced that the dish needed more soycurls…go figure.  I could have left them out if I hadn’t dumped so much liquid in!

This dish can be as mild or spicy as you like, depending on the salsa, picante sauce, or canned diced tomato/green chilis you have on hand.  Serve it with soy sour cream, diced avocado, and/or shredded vegan cheese.  Add a veggie and your are set to go ~ all in about 20-30 minutes.

Quick Quinoa

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1-2 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 c. quinoa, rinsed well and drained
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • 1-1 1/2 c. salsa or picante sauce, your choice of mild to hot **
  • 1 1/2 c. water
  • 1/2 c. soycurls, optional (use full measure of salsa/picante sauce if adding these.)

Saute the chopped onion in olive oil until a few pieces are beginning to brown on the edges and the rest are softened.  Add remaining ingredients.  Stir and cover, simmering for 15-20 minutes.  Stir occasionally.  Taste quinoa to test if it is fully cooked (tiny “tails” or curls will loosen from the kernels as they reach preparedness.)  Add extra salsa or water as needed to keep from sticking if extra cooking time is required.  If it seems too soupy, take the lid off and continue simmering.

** Use 1 c. if you want a drier end result.  You can always add more salsa as the dish simmers if it seems like the quinoa isn’t soft yet, but things are getting dry.  If you want to add 1/2 c. of soycurls, use the full 1 1/2 c.

Mounds Bars…er…Bark?

Necessity isn’t the mother of invention….laziness is!  Or at least it seriously has a role to play!  Think about it ~ who has the most to “gain” from inventing an easier way to do something?  (Deep down inside I am a very laid-back, lazy person.  It has only been because I am also a people-pleaser that I have become something different, because it is what is expected of me.)

On the day I set out to make a vegan version of a Mounds Bar, I did my internet recipe research to see what everybody else had done.  Oh, my mouth was watering!  I wanted one of these.  I played with the ingredients list and melted my chocolate chips.  I got everything ready and tasted the coconut filling.  Yes, it all tasted good, even if it wasn’t exactly like the recipes I’d found online.

My cute little mini-muffin liners (purchased on impulse who knows when from who knows where) were all separated and the plan was to make little layers from the chocolate and coconut mixtures.  And then I looked at the clock.  I looked everything I had laid out.  I thought about how long this was going to take and what a mess I was likely to make.  (And how long it would take to write about.)  There had to be a better way.

On a whim, I stirred half of the lovely coconut mixture into the melted chocolate.  Not enough.  I dumped in the rest of it and stirred madly.  I got a little spoon and tasted.  Hmmm.  Not bad.  I started filling all of the cute little muffin cups that were in an 8″x8″ pan (alas, no mini-muffin pan.)  At the end there was extra chocolate-coconut stuff, so I filled the papers to the very top.  There was still left-over melted candy.  I had a few more tiny muffin papers, but this time I put them on a cookie sheet so that they weren’t as squished as the others were.  Maybe the end product would look prettier.  I didn’t fill these to the top, either, to see if that was more aesthetically pleasing.  (Actually, buying some nice candy molds is highly recommended for this sort of thing, but I’ve never been able to justify the space they will take in my cupboards.)  When they were complete, there still was extra melted gooey yumminess left.

I cast about in my mind.  I could just eat what was left with a spoon….No, probably not a good idea.  I mentally peeked into my baking cupboard remembering there were no full-sized muffin papers in there.  What to do…what to do.  A light bulb went off.  I pulled out a piece of waxed paper, scooted the smaller candies over to one end of the cookie sheet, and spread the waxed paper across the other end.  I poured the remaining candy out, but it was so thick that it just stayed in a pile.  Spreading it out worked very well.  I made it pretty thin so that it can be broken once it’s chilled.

During a taste-testing session, my teens declared all of them delicious!  My favorite was the bark version.  R’s was the thick fudgy version.  J’s?  You guess it ~ ALL of them.  😀  The next day I served them to the whole family and everybody liked them.  We decided the muffin papers were a nuisance to peel, so molds are now on my to-buy list.

Mounds Bars…er…Bark?

  • 3 c. vegan semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used Trader Joe’s)
  • 2 c. unsweetened finely shredded coconut
  • 1/3 c. virgin coconut oil (decrease to 1/4 c. or less to make into bark)
  • 1/2 c. honey or other liquid sweetener
  • dash of salt
  • splash or two of vanilla

Melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler (or in a metal bowl set on top of a saucepan ~ this is what I actually use.)  Mix the remaining ingredients together*.  Decide you are much too lazy to form cute little Mounds bars or any such thing.  Once the chocolate chips are melted completely, mix the coconut mixture into the chocolate and stir (*or if you know ahead of time you will skip the fancy stuff, throw all the ingredients into the melted chocolate without pre-mixing it.)  Drop into molds, muffin papers, or spread out on waxed paper.  Chill.  Break into bark, pop out of molds, or peel out of papers.  Eat.  Smile.  🙂

Black Bean Patties

I love a simple patty recipe.  A fast patty recipe that doesn’t involve 45 minutes to an hour in the oven.  One without a list of ingredients as long as your arm.  One that you might actually have all the ingredients for in your cupboard.  One that doesn’t require a multitudinous amount of chopping.  One that tastes good without a bun (for those with gluten issues.)  Oh, yeah…and one that the whole family actually likes, with no exceptions!  Whew, what a relief.

Black Bean Patties

  • 2 cans organic black beans, drained
  • 1 c. medium, or stronger, salsa
  • 2 T. ground flaxseed
  • 1 c. old-fashioned rolled oats (for gluten-free patties, use certified gluten-free oats)
  • 1/2 c. millet flour*
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp. onion powder (opt., depending on the strength of your salsa)
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder (opt., depending on the strength of your salsa)
  • 2 T. melted coconut oil, preferably (if you are out of coconut oil, use extra virgin olive oil, but the coconut oil has medium-chain fatty acids that are so good for you)

Put all ingredients except coconut oil into a food processor and process until only tiny pieces or flecks of beans remain.  Add melted coconut oil and continue processing, or mix together in a bowl.  Let mixture stand for 5 minutes.

If desired, you may spray or brush the griddle with olive oil to make it easier to form the patties, but it’s not required.  Heat griddle to 300° (I use a large electric pancake griddle) or frying pan to medium heat.  You may begin forming patties while it is heating.  Pile about 1/4 c. measure onto the griddle and smooth into a patty using the back of a serving spoon (bigger than a tablespoon from your silverware set, but not as big as a cooking spoon ~ I use this to scoop up the 1/4 c. approximate measure, too.)  Cook for 5 minutes; flip, press down lightly with the spatula to obtain an even surface on the bottom side, and cook for another 5 minutes.

Makes 12 patties.  Serve with guacamole, salsa, or ketchup, or on a burger bun.

*If you don’t have millet flour in your larder, you probably could substitute another type, but I haven’t experimented with different ones.  (Hey, when something works for me, I don’t mess with it!)  You also can put dry millet in a coffee grinder or strong blender and whiz it into flour.

Secret Ingredient Brownies

There are some dietary “fads” that just seem inherently wrong.  When I heard of this particular whopper, I backed slowly away from the recipe source and ran.  There was NO WAY I was making this dessert.  Just no way.

Enter my doctor.  He told me I needed to not eat flour products – not any.  After going through serious withdrawl and pouting a significant amount, I did lose some weight.  But more than that, I discovered that my aches and pains had receded!  That was enough to keep me away from wheat forever.  (Especially after I binged on a batch of cookies and a few slices of cornbread and was slammed back into pain.)

Therefore, the next time a recipe mentioning beans in brownies showed up (yes, I said beans), I paused before running screaming into the night.  Brownies without flour?  I could have brownies again?  Hmmmm…maybe these did bear some closer examination.  After all, if you throw enough chocolate at something, it’s bound to be good.

Per usual, I didn’t choose the first recipe I saw.  That’s not my style.  With the availability of the internet, there are comparisons to be made.  I wanted the BEST tasting brownies for the minimum amount of fuss.  (It’s not unusual for me to take the best ideas from several sources and whip up my own plan like I did here.)

Are you feeling brave?  Would you like to pull the wool over somebody’s eyes (especially a fussy eater)?  Never fear…these taste wonderful.  I even licked off the spatula and scraped out the blender while my first batch was baking.

Now these are my go-to recipe when I need cookies for my husband’s lunch and I’ve run out of time.  He loves them, the kids love them, and I love how fast they are to make!  Seriously ~ just throw the batter ingredients into the blender, whiz it up, and pour it into the pan.  Sprinkle the nuts and chocolate chips across the top, give it a stir, and pop it in the oven.   Done.  Baking doesn’t get any easier than this.

Secret Ingredient Brownies

  •  1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 c. coconut oil (preferably virgin)
  • 4 1/2 tsp. Ener-G egg replacer powder (no water added)
  • 1/2 c. honey
  • 1/2 tsp. pure stevia powder
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 1/2 tsp. coffee substitute powder (Cafix, Roma, etc.)
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 c. cocoa
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4-1/2 c. chopped pecans (or other nut of choice)
  • 1/2 c. chocolate chips (non-dairy)

Preheat oven to 350° and spray an 8” x 8” pan with oil.

Puree all except the nuts and chocolate chips in a blender, scraping down the sides occasionally to make sure all ingredients are well incorporated.  Blend until very smooth.  This is the key to making them good.  If you don’t blend them enough, they will taste ever so slightly beany.

Scrape batter into prepared pan with a rubber spatula.  Sprinkle nuts and chocolate chips over the batter, stirring them in with the rubber spatula.

Bake for 25-30 minutes.  Do not overbake!  Cool on rack.

These may be doubled easily in a 9″x13″ pan, but if you don’t have a high powered blender, it may be harder to get the batter smooth.  This is the way I’ll be making them from now on, because otherwise they disappear to quickly!