Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Cucumber, Radish, and Carrot Salad

I often ate cucumbers with vinegar when I was growing up. This salad is a prettier and more flavorful version of that easy snack. The mint and red wine vinegar can be substituted with other fresh herbs or vinegars if you want a different flavor.

Cucumber, Radish, and Carrot Salad

1 medium cucumber
1 medium carrot
5-6 radishes
15-20 fresh mint leaves, minced
1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp agave nectar
3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
pinch salt and pepper

Peel and thinly slice the cucumber and carrot. Thinly slice the radishes. Place all three vegetables in a bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk together the minced mint, olive oil, agave, red wine vinegar, salt, and pepper. Poor dressing over the vegetables and mix well. Cover the bowl and put in refrigerator to marinate for about an hour before serving. Serve salad on it's own or over a bed of baby spinach. Serves about 4.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Cheesy Herbed Potatoes

I haven't been cooking much new lately since I've been fighting with bronchitis and asthma. I'm feeling a little better now and had a bag of baby gold potatoes, so I decided to make one of my family's favorite side dishes. I served them with Field Roast vegan Italian sausages and a second side of almond green beans.

Cheesy Herbed Potatoes

1.5 lbs new or baby potatoes, sliced thin
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp ground sage
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp salt
freshly ground pepper to taste
1 Tbsp olive oil

Preheat oven to 425F. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl, then spread evenly on a greased cookie sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes, stirring once halfway through baking, or until potatoes are soft and lightly browned.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Kumquat Cashew Bran Muffins

A local grocery store had kumquats for $2 a pint, so I picked some up. I had no idea what to do with the odd little citrus fruits. They are entirely edible except for the seeds. The skins are sweet and the pulp is tart.

In my respiratory infection-induced delirium, I decided muffins would be a good way to use some of these mystery fruits. If you don't have kumquats available, try chopped apples instead. I wasn't sure how these would turn out, but they are quite good and Turbokid loves them.

Kumquat Cashew Bran Muffins

1/2 cup untoasted wheat germ
1/2 cup wheat bran (alternatively, you can use all germ or bran totaling 1 cup. I only had 1/2 cup germ left, so I used both)
1 Tbsp ground flax seed mixed into 3 Tbsp water
1 cup almond milk (I used vanilla)
3 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp blackstrap molasses
4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
2 Tbsp oil
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup chopped and seeded kumquats
1/2 cup raw cashew pieces

Preheat oven to 400F.

Mix wheat germ and wheat bran together in a mixing bowl. Stir in flax mixture and almond milk and let sit briefly until some of the moisture is absorbed. Mix in sugar, molasses, baking powder, salt, and oil, then mix in the white whole wheat flour. Fold in chopped kumquats and cashews.

Fill lined or greased muffin cups with the batter. Bake for 15-20 minutes.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Herbed Biscuits

These flaky biscuits are a great compliment to the French Lentil and Kale Soup. They are soy-free and whole grain.

Herbed Biscuits

2 cups white whole wheat flour
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbsp baking powder
1 Tbsp dried Italian herbs
4 Tbsp coconut oil
1 cup non-dairy milk (I used almond)

Preheat oven to 450F.

Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl. Using a fork or your hands, cut the coconut oil into the flour mixture. Add the non-dairy milk and mix well.

Form biscuits and place on a cookie sheet. Bake for 12-15 minutes.

Number made depends on how big you like your biscuits. I generally get 8-12 biscuits from this recipe.

French Lentil and Kale Soup

This recipe uses French (green) lentils instead of the more common brown variety, but you can use red or brown lentils if you don't have green available. The taste of each is a little different, but all make for good soup. French lentils hold their form much better than other varieties. I keep a bag of frozen sliced leeks on hand for dishes like this, which saves both money and leek cleaning time. I like to add leafy greens to as many dishes as possible, so this one utilizes kale.

French Lentil and Kale Soup

2 cups sliced leeks
2 carrots, sliced into rounds, then quartered
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp olive oil
6 cups vegetable broth (or 2 low-sodium bouillon cubes in 6 cups water)
2 cups green lentils
3 bay leaves
1 Tbsp Herbes de Provence
1 bunch kale, stems removed and leaves chopped
sea salt to taste
freshly ground pepper to taste.

In a stock pot, saute the leeks, carrots, and garlic in the olive oil until the leeks are translucent. Add the broth, lentils, bay leaves, and Herbes de Provence. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes, or until lentils are tender.

Add kale and cook until kale is wilted. Remove bay leaves and salt and pepper to taste.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Love Lotion #1

I love the tension-relief body lotion I made recently, but what I really wanted was something more lotiony and less buttery. The Thieves lotion I made at a craft night in December had a wonderful texture, but the scent wasn't my favorite. Since my little jar is almost gone and I found a little bottle of ylang ylang essential oil on clearance, I thought it was time to experiment with some more refreshing and less wintery scents. I reduced the butter content from my original recipe to get a softer result. Like the original recipe, it goes on a bit oilier than commercial lotions, but that oil gets absorbed into your skin and leaves it silky.

I'm not sure how to describe the scent of this lotion. It is both citrus and floral, light and sensual. I think it's perfect for Valentine's Day, especially if you're like me and not so fond of the rose and patchouli scents of most "sensual" blends. Scent preference is subjective, so you might get a different impression of this combination than I do. I started with orange and ylang ylang, but felt it needed something additional so I added a few drops of lavender for a subtle floral undertone.

Love Lotion #1

1/2 cup coconut oil
1/2 cup pure shea butter
1/3 cup almond oil (or apricot or jojoba oil)
1 tsp Vitamin E oil
15 drops orange oil
10 drops ylang ylang oil
3 drops lavender oil

This the same basic process as the Tension-Relief Body Lotion, so check out that recipe for photographic instructions.

Measure the coconut oil and shea butter in the top of a double boiler. Boil the water in the lower half until the coconut oil and shea butter are melted. Remove from heat, stir, and let cool for about 10 minutes. Place in the freezer for 20-30 minutes, or until partially solidified.

Stir in almond oil, Vitamin E oil, and essential oils. Whip with a hand mixer or stand mixer, scraping the sides often, until a smooth, lotion-like consistency is achieved.

Scoop the lotion into a clean glass jar and store in a cool place.

This batch made about 9oz of lotion.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Roasted Chickpeas

These are one of my favorite snacks and picky Turbokid decided they were one of his, too. I couldn't even get him to put the bowl down long enough for me to take a picture, so he's my hand model here.

Roasted Chickpeas

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 400F. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Spread chickpeas into a single layer on a cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, stir, then bake for another 15 minutes.