Home - Cheap Wine and Cookies Main Page ............. Ethical Eating

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Mexican Lasagna

      Another excellent Tempah recipe.  If you don't tell 'em it's not meat, they may not even know!  Start with a green pepper and a red pepper (which our garden is STILL producing!).  Dice them up and throw them in a pan with a diced onion (let 5he onion sit for 5 minutes after chopping for max nutrition).   Get the veggies sauteeing then use a cheese grater to grate up a brick of tempah (which you should be able to find in any grocery store).  Toss that in with the peppers and onions (I just grated it right into the pan), and sautee all that together with a lot of garlic and cumin as well as some paprika, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and a touch of tumeric.  You could also use your favorite taco seasoning mix.  Add water as needed to keep the seasonings wet and reach the desired consistency.

      While that cooks, mix a good (preferably organic) salsa with a can of (preferably organic) diced tomatoes in a bowl. Stir in a can of dark kidney or black beans and a small bag of (preferably organic) frozen corn (thawed).

      Once the tempah tastes like taco meat, spray a deep pie dish with cooking spray and lay a whole wheat tortilla at the bottom.  Add a layer of the tempah mixture then a layer of the tomato mixture. Next is a layer of (HUMANE!!!) Cheese (Organic Valley is a great Humane brand) or cheese substitute.  Lay another tortilla over it and repeat until you reach the top of the dish.  Top with one final tortilla and more cheese.  Bake at 375 until cheese is bubbly and starting to crisp at the edges.

      Enjoy!  And please let me know if you try it!

Flintstone loved it!

Though he wasn't SO into the corn . . .

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Savory Squash Soup

    I love Fall and I love cooking seasonally.   I've already talked about pumpkin in a couple of posts, but squash is another wonderfully versatile Fall staple.  Plus, since it keeps for so long, it's easy to keep on hand. And this recipe turned out amazing. Seriously, I can't exaggerate it. This is a must try!

      A couple weeks ago, one of our favorite farms at the Farmer's Market had a beautiful selection of squashes, and we had to grab a few.  Since then, they've been making such a beautiful centerpiece all arranged in a great big bowl with some onions and sweet potatoes, I was almost hesitant to use them!  But I'm sure glad I did!  This soup is unbelievable.
      MacGyver has always been a big fan of squash soup.  Actually, MacGyver is really a big fan of soup in general.  I like to try to do a lot of different things with squash, but soup remains the standby.  We typically do two different squash soups: one savory one, which I'll detail here, and one sweet one that also has apples in it.  Both are delicious.
      Tonight, I used one butternut and one acorn squash, but you could use two of the same or incorporate any number of other fall squashes, though I recommend against using spaghetti squash. I cut the squashes in half and steamed them for 10-15 minutes to soften them up. In the meantime, I chopped up an onion and a large leftover sweet potato we got from the same Farmer's Market.  I went out and picked some rosemary and oregano from the garden.  I can't express how much I love garden fresh herbs and how happy it makes me to hop outside while I'm cooking and grab ingredients.

      I tossed the diced sweet potato, onion, rosemary, and oregano in a small amount of olive oil, spread them in a pan, and broiled them until the potatoes had softened and were just starting to brown.

      Once the sweet potatoes were starting to soften, I added the squashes to the pan and stuck it back in to bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes or so.

      Once I felt that everything was nicely roasted and the squashes were cooked through, I transferred everything into the food processor (scooping the squashes out of their skins).
      I blended everything up, adding low sodium organic veggie broth until it reached the desired consistancy (I'd estimate about 3 cups of broth).

      At this point, you could serve straight from the blender/food processor since everything's still hot from broiling, but I moved it all into a pot to keep hot since it wasn't quite dinner time yet.
      This soup was a smash hit. I highly recommend it (as do MacGyver, Punky, and Flintstone). Steaming the squash at the beginning is not a necessary step, but I find it easier to scoop out the squashes that way. You could also cube the squashes raw in the beginning.

      You should totally try this hearty, healthy, delicious winter soup! And let me know if you do!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011


       Spaghetti is a great go-to quick and easy dinner.  We pretty much always have whole wheat noodles and a couple jars of organic spaghetti sauce in the cupboard.  And if we really are dealt just a SUPER busy night with nothing prepped ahead of time, there's no harm in just throwing the two together and calling it good. But I'm pretty sure we all know that's not really my style.

       I honestly don't think we've had spaghetti that was just noodles and sauce in years.  It can still be quick and easy: If I'm pressed for time, I'll just throw in a can of beans and a bag of frozen spinach or other frozen veggies.  Boom, that's it. Still quick and easy, but definitely a more nutritious, satisfying, and rounded out meal.

      And if I have a few minutes, I like to dice up an onion and a couple peppers and some basil from the garden and sauteé them for a few minutes before adding the sauce.  And I always like to throw in some leafy greens. The nutritional benefits of leafy greens (kale, spinach, collards, mustard or turnip greens, chard, . . .), are so amazing that I see no reason not to slip them in at every possible point.  Note: like onions and garlic, kale benefits from being allowed to sit for a few minutes after being chopped and before being heated.

      Just ten minutes of chopping for a drastic improvement in flavor, nutrition, and texture.  And if your kids don't like chunky veggies in the sauce or bulk at the idea of greens in spaghetti, throw the veggies in the blender or ninja for a few seconds before stirring into the sauce. It really is just that easy.

      Last night we had spaghetti, not because we were particularly rushed, but because I was too lazy to invent something else (it's rare, but it happens).  I added an onion and, from the garden, a red pepper, a green pepper, and some fresh basil. I also threw in a good about three cups of chopped Farmer's Market kale.

       Lastly, I added some Boca fake meat crumbles. I don't like cooking with fake meat, because it's processed and sometimes has artificial colors, but MacGyver loves it once in a while and we happened to have some in the freezer. I'm also a big fan of Veggie Patch brand meatless balls (ok, they're called meatless meatballs, but I call them meatless balls in hommage to La Vie Boheme from Rent).

       What is your favorite quick and easy dinner?
       Do you doctor your spaghetti?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Pumpkin Spice Latte

      We've already thoroughly discussed the fact that I am completely in love with Fall. One of my favorite parts of Fall is Fall flavored things - like the Pumpkin Spice Latte at Starbucks!

       Now, I have a deep love for Starbucks. Their coffee is all Fair Trade/Equal Exchange and they treat their employees very well. But I do have a problem with the amount of sugar (and lack of pumpkin!) In Starbucks' Pumpkin Spice Latte.

       So I set out to make it for myself. I found one recipe online, but it was a bit complicated and I didn't really like it.  What I came up with is much simpler:

1 Can Pumpkin (I used Farmer's Market brand Organic)
2 cups fair trade/equal exchange coffee (I used Full Circle Ecothentic Blend)
1 cup Almond Milk (if you use regular milk, please use Organic Valley, but Almond milk has a better texture and flavor for this recipe)
Cinnamon, Allspice,  and Ginger (or whatever your preferred pumpkin spice recipe is)
Agave nectar (you can also use brown sugar or another sweetener, but agave nectar works perfectly for this and is lower glycemic index than sugar)

      Combine all the ingredients in a blender (adjusting the spices and agave nectar to taste), blend and enjoy!  Pour into a pot and simmer gently until you reach the desired texture.  Added bonus: all the pumpkin nutritional goodness!

      If you try this recipe out, feel free to send me the $4.95 you saved by not going to Starbucks ;-)

Sloppy Joes

      Years ago, when I was just starting out in the Mom Cooking world, I was always on the lookout for ways to sneak more veggies into Punky's diet.  Bell peppers were a particular sticking point for me.  I love peppers and put them in darn near everything and Punky insisted that she hated them though she had had next to no experience with them since MacGvyer wasn't big on peppers.

      I know from my background in Anthropology that human tastes change and develop according to exposure.  When a person tries an unfamiliar food a number of times in most cases, that person will develop a taste for that food and begin to like it.  That is why pediatricians recommend having a child try any veggie at least 15 times before giving up on it (the accepted threshold for number of tastes required to develop an affinity for a particular food had always been 14).  Recent research has even indicated that the more new and different foods a person tries, the more quickly one adapts a taste for them.  I am a prime example of this.  I will try any really nutritious food over a few times, even if I don't like it, and it typically only takes me a few tries to develop a taste.  Similarly, after years of living with my cooking experimental ways, Punky is also much more willing, and even excited, to try new things and often takes a liking to them very quickly.

      So I was on a mission to encorporate peppers into as many meals as I could, but they had to be hidden.  Just like MacGvyer and I, Punky can be very bullheaded when she wants to be, and at the time she was only 4.  I don't care what anyone says; there is no reasoning with a 4 year old.

      I don't remember how I found out that Sloppy Joes had peppers in them, but I do know I was surprised as heck to find it out.  I guess I had never watched my mom make them growing up.  I was chatting with NotDonna about my discovery, and she already knew (heck, she may have been the one who told me).  She said that her mom, MMom, had a great sloppy joe recipe, so I called her up to get it (or maybe NotDonna called?  Either way, I got MMom's Sloppy Joe Recipe).

      I was thrilled to find out that not only did it include peppers, they were basically the main componant.  And, ultimately, this was the recipe that won Punky over on peppers.  To this day, she loves my Sloppy Joes.

      After getting Happy Herbivore, my favorite cookbook, I tried making these with Tempah instead of ground up animals, and I was thrilled with the results.  It is almost impossible to even tell the difference, and Tempah is sooooo good for you.  If anyone is trying this recipe, I implore you to try it with the Tempah.  Its so much better for you, and the result is amazing.  If you've never heard of tempah, it is a soybean product but one with a completely different texture and nutritional profile than tofu.  It's very nutritious and good for your digestion.  And, as I said, it works perfectly in this recipe.  There is also a sauce recipe in Happy Herbivore, but I perfer the recipe I got from MMom, below.

Basic Ingredients:
Two 8oz pkgs Tempah (which you can find in most any grocery store)
One Medium Onion
2 large or 3 smallish bell peppers, at least one red
Organic Ketchup (without high fructose corn syrup - important),
Yellow Mustard
Worshtershire and/or Soy sauce
Pepper, to taste
Optional: TBLSp brown sugar

      Add enough water to a pot to submerge the tempah.  Add a couple of shakes of soy sauce and bring to a boil.  Boil the tempah for 10 minutes.  In the meantime:

      Finely dice the onions and set aside for at least 5 minutes to maximize nutritional potential.  Finely dice bell peppers.  Lightly sautee the peppers and onion with the garlic (adjust according to your own taste).  You can either sautee in a little water or a bit of grapeseed oil.

      If you're "hiding" the veggies, puree the onions and peppers in a food processor or blender and return to the pan.  Otherwise, just leave them in the pan and go on the the next step.  I haven't had to puree the peppers into the sauce for years.

      Next, add the ketchup.  You can adjust the amount per your taste, but you'll need a lot of ketchup since it's the base of the sauce.  That is also why it's important to get a ketchup without HFCS in it (most organic ketchups are HFCS free), you're using a lot of it and that much HFCS is gross and makes the sauce way too sweet.  I would say you're going to want to start with at least a cup of ketchup.

      Stir in a couple tablespoons of yellow mustard and a couple dashes of soy and/or worchestershire sauce.  Cook on medium/low heat, stirring continually, adjusting ketchup, mustard, soy sauce, garlic, and black pepper as necessary to taste.  Add a tablespoon of brown sugar or a dash of cinamon if desired.

      Once the sauce is heated through and at the taste you want, leave it on just enough heat to keep it warm.  After boiling for 10 minutes, drain the tempah and grate it into the desired texture, usually about the size of rice grains, maybe a little bigger.  If you're grating by hand, run the tempah under some cold water to keep from burning yourself.

      Stir the grated tempah into the sauce, "slop" onto some whole wheat buns, and enjoy!

      Please let me know if you try this recipe!  It is definitely a favorite in our house.  Heck, I just made it last night.