What Life Dishes Out A Gluten Free and (almost) Vegetarian Cooking Blog

November 29, 2010

Magical Mushrooms & “Meaty” Vegetarian Chili

Filed under: Recipes,Soups,Vegan,Vegetarian,Veggies — Tags: , , , , , , , , — admin @ 7:27 pm

Mushrooms are magical.  No, not those kind of mushrooms.  I’m talking about the regular ones.

Minced and cooked, these gems can stand in for meat, bringing an earthy, almost meaty flavor and texture that is way more authentic tasting than any processed soy granules.  Healthier, too!

When I set out to make Chili last weekend, I searched the web and found numerous Vegetarian Chili recipes, and a few called for mushrooms.  It was one of those “Aha Moments”.  I knew that instead of the bag of TVP in my cupboard that I’d had in mind, I’d be using the giant package of fresh mushrooms in my refrigerator. 

Another component of many of the vegetarian chilis were vegetables not traditionally used for chili, like zuchinni and corn.  But I wanted a chili that looked and tasted like real chili.   So, I did what I do best…I adapted.

This recipe is loosely based on an Emeril Lagasse recipe for Vegetarian Chili, which can be found here.

You’ll need:

2 Tbsp Canola Oil

1 large Onion

2 medium Bell Peppers – Red or Green

4-5 cloves Garlic

2 Serrano or Jalapeno Peppers

20 ounces fresh Mushrooms

2 Tbsp Chili Powder

2 tsp Cumin

1 1/2 tsp Salt

1/4 tsp Cayenne

1/4 tsp Pepper

3 large Tomatoes

2 – 15 oz cans beans – I used Red Kidney and Black

1 – 15 oz can Tomato Sauce

1 cup Water

What to do:

Prepare vegetables.  First, chop onion.

Chop Bell Peppers.

Mince Serrano Pepper (remove seeds if you don’t like it very spicy) and Garlic.  I used a food processor to get them very fine.

Chop Mushrooms into very small pieces (think burger meat size).  Again, I used my food processor to make this job easy. 

Chop Tomato.

(Oops!  No photo – sorry!)

Rinse and drain beans.

In a large stockpot, heat Canola Oil.  Add Onions, Peppers, Serrano and Garlic and cook until onions start to become translucent.

Add Mushrooms to pot. 

Cook for a few minutes, then add spices and stir for 30 seconds before adding tomato, beans, tomato sauce, and water.

Cook chili over medium heat, stirring often for about 20  30 minutes before serving.

Serve garnished with shredded cheese and sour cream (if desired), beside a hunk of Cornbread or Tortilla Chips. 

This was so Yummy!  The mushrooms really did a great job standing in for the burger meat.  I never would have known the difference, except maybe for the lack of grease!

While were on the subject of mushrooms, have you ever seen a Fairy Ring?  I had always been told that when you found a ring of mushrooms in the grass, you knew the fairies has been dancing there the night before.  

 See?  Mushrooms really are magical.

We were out playing tennis at a nearby park one day last summer and as happens frequently with unskilled players like us, the ball kept going over the fence (never mind that the fence reaches practically to the sky, we somehow managed to still hit it out of bounds over and over again).   During one ball retrieval trip, I spotted this ring of mushrooms and called everyone over to take a look.  My friend snapped this photo, which I just love.

To learn more about fairy rings and their true cause, check it out here.  I, however, am going to hang onto my belief that it really is a mark of the fairies’ recent visit.

October 10, 2010

Hot Potato, Hot Potato! Spicy Breaded Oven Fries

Filed under: Potatoes,Recipes,Sides,Vegan,Vegetarian — Tags: , , , — admin @ 3:57 pm

(Oh great – now that song by The Wiggles is going to be stuck in my head all day!)

Do you like French Fries? 

I’m going to go out on a limb and make the assumption that you answered “Yes” to that question.

These are a much healthier and much tastier alternative to regular French Fries.  We first tried this recipe, which was loosely adapted from a recipe I’d seen in some cookbook I’d checked out of the Library, a few summers ago during one of our camping adventures in the yard.  Although I cooked these inside the house in a regular oven (one of the great benefits of camping at home), we served them beside veggie burgers and ate them around the fire pit.  They were a big hit!

Back then, I made them with regular bread crumbs, but since we discovered Spawn #1 is gluten-intolerant, I now use gluten-free Bread Crumbs, which I easily make myself.  Here’s how to do it:

You’ll need some slices of Gluten Free Bread.  The leftover ends work well, but any slices will do. 

Cut into cubes (or just tear if you don’t want to get your cutting board and knife dirty).

Place into bowl of your Food Processor.  If you don’t have a Processor, you could use a coffee grinder, working in small batches.

Process until they are the texture you desire – coarse or fine.

Place crumbs in a baking pan.

Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes.  You don’t want them to brown much, you just want to get the moisture out.

 

 Let cool until ready to use.

I usually like to make a batch with whatever GF Bread is leftover on the weekend when I make a fresh loaf for my son.  Recently, we rarely have any bread leftover from the week to make crumbs because my new everyday bread is so tasty that it’s often all gone even before I can bake up another batch! 

Just store your crumbs in a freezer bag inside the freezer, and remove only what you need for your recipes.  They will keep practically forever.   I use my frozen crumbs frequently for Zucchini Au Gratin during summer’s bountiful Zuchinni harvest.

Now that we have our crumbs, we can make our Spicy Breaded Oven Fries!

Here’s what you’ll need:

4 large Potatoes

4-5 Tbsp Bread Crumbs

1 Tbsp Canola Oil

1/4 tsp Cayenne (or less if you can’t handle spicy)

1/2 tsp Ground Cumin

1 tsp Garlic Powder

1 tsp Salt

1 tsp Black Pepper

1 tsp Paprika

1 tsp Thyme

What to do:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Line 2 baking sheets with Parchment and set aside.

Measure out your spices into a bowl.

Combine spices with Bread Crumbs, then set aside.

Scrub Potatoes and cut in half.  Then cut each half into wedges, leaving some skin on each wedge.

Place Potatoes in a large bowl and drizzle with the oil, tossing to coat.

Sprinkle half of crumb mixture over potatoes.

Toss well with a spoon.

Sprinkle the remaining crumb mixture on top.

Toss again, until all the potatoes are fairly evenly coated with the mixture.

Individually lay each wedge on the parchment lined pan, trying to keep them from touching too much.

Once all the potatoes are in the pan, sprinkle any remaining crumb mixture left in the bowl over the top.

Slide trays into oven on middle rack.

Bake for 40-50 minutes (depending on size of wedges) at 425 degrees, until crisp and golden.

Enjoy piping hot with Ketchup on the side for dipping!  Yummy, Yummy! :-)

September 22, 2010

Spicy Szechwan Peanut Sauce with Grilled Chicken, Brocolli and Peppers over Pasta

Filed under: Appetizers & Dips,Pasta,Recipes — Tags: , , , , , , — admin @ 7:23 am

I developed this recipe a few years back and since then, this has been a favorite in our household and a regular part of our dinner rotation.  I am constantly passing the recipe along to friends who dine at our house and the dish finds itself falling into their regular repetoire as well.  Not only is this an easy and tasty sauce to be served over pasta or rice with stir fried vegetables and chicken, but it also makes a fabulous dipping sauce for raw veggies!  

 

You’ll need:

For Sauce/Marinade:

2/3 Cup Peanut Butter (Smooth or Crunchy)

8 Tbsp Soy Sauce (Bragg’s Liquid Aminos are Gluten Free)

4 Tbsp Rice Vinegar

1-2 tsp Cayenne Pepper (depending on heat desired)

1-2 tsp Jarred Crushed Garlic (You can use fresh but be sure it is minced very fine or put through a garlic press)

Cold Water (up to 1/2 cup as needed)

For the Pasta Dish:

4 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts

16 oz. prepared Pasta – Gluten Free or Otherwise (I like Rotini)

1 cup Brocolli Florets

1 Red Bell Pepper, cut into chunks

Snipped Chives (or sliced Green Onions)

What to do:

First, make the marinade/sauce.

Put all sauce ingredients, except water, into a bowl.

Mix with a wire whisk to incorporate.  It’s gonna seem hard to mix at first, but just keep wiggling that whisk and the Peanut Butter will start to break up.

You’ll find that as you continue whisk, the sauce will become thicker. 

Once it is thick and smooth, add water a bit at a time, and continue whisking.  You want it to reach the consistency of very heavy cream.

You can serve this immediately or refrigerate for later use.  The sauce will thicken up when cold, but is easy to thin again by bringing to room temperature or, if you are in a hurry, adding a bit more water.  The cayenne will become stronger as it sits, so be careful not to add too much if you are taste testing.  You can always mix more in before serving if you feel it needs it.

Now, grill your chicken.  You can separate out some of the sauce and spread the marinade over the breasts while cooking, or if you have time you can let the breasts sit with marinade on them in the refrigrator for a few hours.  It’s up to you!    Just don’t contaminate the sauce you will be using later with raw chicken!  That’s yucky and just plain dangerous!

Set the chicken aside, and it’s time to cook your veggies.

Heat about 1 Tbsp of Oil in a Wok or Saute pan. 

Stir Fry Peppers and Brocolli (this dish is also great with sliced carrots) until cooked, but still somewhat crunchy.

Okay, it’s time to eat!

Place a portion of cooked Pasta on each serving plate, and top with vegetables and a sliced grilled chicken breast.  Drizzle with the sauce and sprinkle with snipped chives. 

Toss your plate contents together a bit, then take a bite and get prepared to be hooked! :-)

I frequently make this vegetarian-style, without the chicken.  My kids also love this sauce over plain cooked spaghetti and it’s an easy thing to keep on hand so they can throw a plate together on their own.  My husband has been know to go through a pound of cut carrots in a couple days dipping into this sauce!   Even folks who say they don’t like Peanut Butter ask for this sauce when they come over.  Try it, and please tell me what YOU think!

July 14, 2010

A Passage To India – Part 3: Spicy Green Beans

Filed under: Recipes,Sides,Vegan,Vegetarian,Veggies — Tags: , , , , , — admin @ 12:50 pm

In part three of our Indian Night Trifecta, we’ll be tackling the simplest of the three dishes.  This doesn’t even require step-by-step photos, so my obvious lack of coordination in terms of cooking and remembering to take pics at the same time won’t even come into play.

You’ll need:

Green Beans (about a pound), washed and trimmed

Canola or Olive Oil

2 Cloves Garlic, minced (or roughly 1 tsp jarred garlic)

Salt

Red Pepper Flakes

What to do:

In large skillet or wok, heat 1 Tbsp Oil. 

Add garlic and beans, then sprinkle with salt.

Stir Fry for a few minutes over high heat, then  add a bit of liquid (water or broth), reduce heat to medium, and cover.

Let cook, stirring occasionally, until beans are tender.

Sprinkle with red pepper flakes (to taste), and stir fry for a few more minutes before serving beside your Spicy Lentil Dal and Indian Cauliflower

Bhog keejeeae   भोग कीजिए 

(“Enjoy!” in Hindi)

July 12, 2010

A Passage To India – Part 1: Spicy Lentil Dal

This recipe came from a good vegetarian and fellow-homeschooling friend of mine, when our families were doing an Indian Feast as part of our Unit Study on the country.   I loved this dish immediately!  I pretty much demanded the recipe and have made it nearly weekly since.  It’s full of so many really good-for-you foods like Turmeric, Garlic, Onion and of course, Lentils.  This versitile dish can be served as your main course over Basmati Rice, or as a spread on freshly baked flatbread, or as a dip for chips! 

What you need:

2-3 cups Vegetable Broth

1 cup dried Lentils, well rinsed

1-2 Tbsp Canola Oil

1 Large Onion

3 cloves garlic

1 tsp Yellow Mustard Seed

1 tsp Cumin

1 tsp Turmeric

1/2 tsp Crushed Red Pepper

1/2 tsp Coriander

1/2 tsp Black Pepper

1/2 tsp Salt

1/2 Cup Coconut Milk

1 Tbsp Tomato Paste

Juice of 1 Lime

What to do:

In a medium saucepan, cook lentils in 2 Cups Vegetable Broth over medium heat until tender. 

While lentils are cooking, chop onion.  There is an easy way to do this:

Cut off stem end of onion.

Then, cut in half from root end to cut end…

…and remove outer skin.

Ooooh…they’re NAKED.

Now, cut in about 1/2 inch slices, but not all the way through to the root end.

Then, turn onion and slice the opposite direction.

Keep going…

TA DAH!  Chopped Onion – quick and easy!

Now, chop garlic. 

I can’t recommend an easy way to do this, but my preferred method is to ask my hubby to do it for me. 

He likes to play with knives anyway, just like my boys.

You can also use a garlic press or even jarred garlic, as those are my two back-up plans in the event he isn’t around and I am feeling too lazy to chop it myself.

I think my favorite step in this recipe is measuring all the wonderful, aromatic spices into a small bowl. 

It always makes me feel as if I’ve created a masterpiece.  Isn’t it pretty?

Now, heat the canola oil in a large skillet, then add the onions and garlic to the pan.

Saute for just a minute or two.  Then, add the spices. 

Warning:  This is going to smell really good.  You may need to grab a quick snack at this point, since this won’t be ready for a while.

Stir the spices around and continue to saute until your onions are translucent.

Then, add the coconut milk, tomato paste and lime juice to the pan.

Then, add the lentils.

It is with the utmost regret that I tell you I don’t have a photo of the remaining steps.

I will get better at remembering to take photos while cooking, I swear.

I just get so carried away with the cooking part to remember the photo-taking part.

I’m just not good at multi-tasking, I guess.

Again, I’m truly sorry.

Okay, so add the cooked lentils and let simmer until thickened.  You actually may have to add some vegetable broth at this point if the lentils have soaked up all the juice.  I usually add about another cup of liquid, and then let simmer until thickened back up.

Save the rest of the vegetable broth in the refrigerator (I buy mine in a 32 oz container) because you are going to need it for tomorrow’s recipe.

Fortunately, I did have sense enough to take a photo before I ate.

The Spicy Lentil Dal is up there between 12 and 3 o’clock, sitting happily atop Brown Basmati Rice, and beside Spicy Green Beans, and Indian Cauliflower.   I’ll be posting those recipes in the next two parts of this series, coming over the next couple days, so please check back!

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