Chia pudding. Up until a couple of years ago, if you were to say “chia,” the first thing that came to mind was “chia pet.” Yes. That. For those of you who didn’t grow up with commercial TV and when you couldn’t fast forward through commercials, here is one of the commercials for the infamous “chia pet.” Sorry that I now gave you an ear worm from the past and it will be stuck in your brain for hours.
Fiber, Omega-3, and Protein
Low brow, I know, but that’s how I knew the word “chia.” I didn’t know you could eat it. Let alone how good it is for your health. Honestly, I discounted it all of these types of seeds as well weird until I moved towards a plant-based diet. I need to find replacements for animal-based proteins. Chia seeds has large amounts of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids, plenty of high quality protein, and several essential minerals and antioxidants. Recipes kept coming up with chia seeds. As I watched Mary McCartney Serves It Up on the Food Network, she made a chia pudding as part of a brunch. It look good topped with fruit and easy. I tried it. And loved it.
Chia Pudding is easy to make
It does look very appealing, but the end result is yummy. The ingredients are simple: chia seeds, plant-based milk, maple syrup, and cinnamon. Mix it throughly and pop it in the fridge overnight for a quick breakfast in the morning. Since I’m the only one enjoying it, a batch will last me a week. You can top it with anything you like, but I prefer fruit. It is very filling so start with 1/4 or 1/2 cup. Mary McCartney’s recipe is so simple and worth checking her show and recipes out.
A fresh and simple meal: roasted vegetable hummus tart.
Folks have it in their minds that preparing good food has to be hard. Good food doesn’t have to be complex. Simple is just as good and often even better. We tend to overthink food. Yes, there are some recipes that complex in terms of techniques, tools, and/or ingredients, but for the most part, simpler is better. Making a veggie hummus tart for dinner. Simple, fresh ingredients.
There is nothing easier than making this roasted veggie hummus tart. All the ingredients are stars in this recipe. Start with simple, fresh ingredients you may have on hand. Chopped up some red peppers, onions, mushrooms, zucchini, tomatoes and/or eggplant with some fresh chopped basil. Add olive oil with salt and pepper tossing. The end result is delicious roasted veg which will be the topping for the tart. Spread hummus – store bought or homemade – on the baked puff pastry then top with the roasted veg. Perfection. This dish can be served warm or cold.
We all have them. The meal that is your go-to dinner when no one feels like cooking, didn’t go to the grocery store, or don’t want to order delivery. For us, it is black bean quesadillas. We can always count on them filling out bellies quickly and easily. It is a simple and quick meal made in 15 minutes with a handful of items I always have on hand:
canned black beans
canned tomatoes with green chiles
canned “Mexican” corn
shredded cheddar cheese
I do my best to keep my pantry stocked and fridge filled with essential fresh veg for moments listed in the previous paragraph. I always have a bottle of minced garlic, limes, and fresh cilantro in the fridge since I cook them with 3-4 times a week. I don’t know if flour tortillas go off, but they seem to last forever and we haven’t die yet.
Kitchen Tip: To keep herbs fresh put trimmed herbs in a jar filled with cold water, put a plastic bag over it, and keep in fridge changing the water every 3 days or so.
The key to lazy meals is knowing what works for you and building your pantry around it. Our schedules are hectic though we try to keep them in check. There are days dinner is the last on my mind and having a list of go-to meals I can throw together in 15 is wonderful. Take out is great, but it does take a toll on your waistline and wallet.
Back to our go-to meal of black bean quesadilla which was based on a recipe from Real Simple magazine from years ago and has evolved. It is flexible as to how you make it. It is what I call a drain and dump meal. I like to add a splash of lime juice just to the bean mixture for a zing. We add cheese, but it tastes nice without cheese making a good vegan meal.
Pickled red onions are my latest food addiction. It is interesting how your tastes changes as we age and change diets. Since I’ve gone plant-based and eliminated most processed sugars and foods, my taste buds have went crazy. My body craves crunchy and strong flavored foods like pickled foods. I never was a pickled kind of person outside of a Kosher pickle and sauerkraut and they were to be paired with certain foods. A very rigid way of looking at food, but that’s how many of us were brought up.
Eating plant-based I find is all about the condiments. Flavor, color, and texture is encouraged. Condiments play a huge role in layering the flavors of your sandwich. My taste buds rejoice in this new way.
That’s where pickled red onions come into play. Don’t ask me why I started craving them then decided to make them out of the blue. But I’m glad I did. They make sandwiches and salads so much better. I put them on veggies burgers, hash browns, and hummus pitas. They add a crunch with sweet, and sour flavors. My guys enjoy them, too.
Red onion pickles are addictive. And it is a good thing they are so easy to make. In fact, I’m just wondering if you can even buy them in the store. I’ve never seen them. Outside of the pickled pearl onions and olives… hmm… something to think about. Any way as my mind wanders to filling jars of pickled red onions to sell as the farmer’s market, let’s get back to making them.
Making Red Pickled Onions
The idea of pickling things made me nervous. The only person I knew who pickled and fermented was my friend Eric and he is a master of the craft. As a going away present form North Carolina, he presented me with a wonderful jar of Moroccan preserved lemons. While I tried to pickle green beans a couple years ago and it was disaster, Eric encouraged me to keep trying. Through his positive vibes, I decided to make the pickled onions.
This recipe came from Gimme Some Oven. What drew me to it was two things: it was quick and a sweetener option was maple syrup. Only five ingredients and 35 minutes you can have red pickled onions for your sammies or burgers. All you need is a clean glass jar, large red onion, apple cider vinegar, sea salt, water, and maple syrup. That’s it. I use Newport Sea Salt; because it is a locally made product by a veteran-founded, family-run small business. I use my mortar and pestle to grind the salt finely for this recipe and my vegan hazelnut spread.
While you could eat it after 30 minutes of chilling in the fridge, I recommend you wait a day. The wait will be worth it.
We all know the class French dish, cassoulet, with pork, chicken, and sausage. It is perfect on a winter’s evening for dinner. But what if you aren’t eating meat? A vegetarian cassoulet is a delicious non-meat alternative to this rich traditional version. While is without meat, it doesn’t lack flavor and fills you up. And what makes this dish even better than the original? It is simple to make and can be on the table in under an hour. The dish is respectable enough to serve on Sunday and to company. Even my meat loving guys enjoy this dish not missing the meat.
Simple Ingredient for Big Flavor
Simple ingredients you may have in your fridge and pantry. It is leeks, carrots, celery, garlic, thyme, parsley, bay leaf, ground clove, and canned cannelloni beans. I like to use fresh herbs even in winter, but you can substitute dried herbs. I bring my herbs inside keeping them in my mud room so I have fresh thyme, parsley, rosemary, and oregano to use in my cooking. I was fortunate when I made this vegetarian cassoulet last I had fresh leeks from my garden. They were little ones, but so good. I took pride in using them in my dish. The cassoulet has a garlic breadcrumb topping. Depending if I have stale homemade bread, I will make my own or I use store bought bread crumbs.
This really is a meaty dish. You can serve it with a salad and a baguette.
- 3 medium leeks (white and pale green parts only)
- 4 medium carrots, halved lengthwise and cut into 1-inch-wide pieces
- 3 celery ribs, cut into 1-inch-wide pieces
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 4 thyme sprigs
- 2 parsley sprigs
- 1 bay leaf
-1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
- 3 cans cannellini rinsed and drained
- 1 quart water
For garlic crumbs
- 4 cups coarse fresh bread crumbs
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
1. Halve leeks lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces.
2. Wash well and pat dry. Salad spinner is helpful.
3. Cook leeks, carrots, celery, and garlic in oil with herb sprigs, bay leaf, cloves, and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper in a large Dutch oven over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and golden, about 15 minutes.
4. Stir in beans, then water, and simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until carrots are tender but not falling apart, about 30 minutes.
5. Make garlic crumbs while cassoulet simmers.
6. Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle.
7. Toss bread crumbs with oil, garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper in a bowl until well coated.
8. Spread in a baking pan and toast in oven, stirring once halfway through, until crisp and golden, 12 to 15 minutes.
9. Cool crumbs in pan, then return to bowl and stir in parsley.
10. Discard herb sprigs and bay leaf.
11. Mash some of beans in pot with a potato masher or back of a spoon to thicken broth.
12. Season with salt and pepper.
13. Just before serving, sprinkle with garlic crumbs.
Dining at a Turkish restaurant, you are usually served a wonderful warm bread called Turkish Pide Bread. It is moist and chewy perfect for hummus and other fresh salads served. My husband grew up eating Turkish Pide Bread in the Netherlands straight from the market stalls. They would eat it with raclette or as they would call it gourmet. We make ours without cheese. It usually is a grilled meat feast where I insist on having a salad and fresh veg to dip in the various sauces. For the past 20 years, when we have gourmet, it would be with French bread. And in the most recent past, I have been making the baguettes with success. My husband mentioned how nice it would be to have the Turkish Pide Bread.
Overcoming Fear of Yeast
I decided to find a recipe and make it. Overcoming my fear of yeast bread making. It was surprisedly very easy. All it is is flour, yeast, salt, water, and Everything Bagel seasoning.
I have been experimenting with proofing my breads. Usually, I leave them out, but I decided to try and making a proofing oven in my oven without a proofing setting. It worked. I turned my oven to the lowest setting which is 170F. When it is ready, I put my dough in a metal bowl with a damp kitchen towel in the oven and shut it off leaving it to do a first proof for an hour or longer. It really works! I’m now making all of my breads this way and have cutdown production time by half. I’m now making my no-knead bread in a day instead of over two days.
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