Nutty Vegetable Millet Croquettes with Lemon Mustard Dressing

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This recipe started out as a pilaf but there was so much leftover, I turned it into croquettes or veggie burger, if you prefer. Millet is such a great grain to use and this is a fantastic way to incorporate it into the rotation. Click to find out how to make perfect millet every time.

Nutty Vegetable Millet Croquettes/Burgers (makes 6)
1/2 cup uncooked millet
1 cup water
1/2 small onion
1 carrot
1 parsnip
2 shallots
1 clove of garlic
1 bunch spinach
1/4 cup pecans
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
Salt, to taste

2 tablespoons quinoa flakes
1 flax egg 

Add the uncooked millet to a skillet and toast for 5 minutes. It will start to smell delicious and pop. Then, add the water and bring to a boil. Add a pinch of salt and reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook until the water is absorbed, 5 to 8 minutes. Let sit covered until ready to mix with the vegetables.

Organize the vegetable mise en place. Dice the onion, carrot, parsnip, shallots and mince or press the garlic. Chop the spinach. Sauté the onions in a dry pan until they start to brown. Add a splash of water to deglaze the pan. Then add the carrots, parsnips, shallots and garlic and cook until soft adding water as necessary. Season with a pinch of salt. Add the spinach and wilt at the last minute.

Toast the pecans and pumpkin seeds in a 325 oven for 8 to 10 minutes or until fragrant and browning.

Combine the millet, vegetables, seeds and nuts.

Stop here and serve this as a great side dish!! Or move onto the croquettes.

Make the flax egg and mix into the millet mixture along with the quinoa flakes.

Use a 1/2 cup measure and press the mixture together to form burgers. Fry on the stove top until both sides are golden brown and then place on a lined baking sheet. Rest the croquettes for 30 minutes. Freeze now or bake in a 350 oven for 20 minutes.

Lemon Mustard Dressing
1/2 cup cashews
1/2 cup filtered water
The juice of 1 lemon
1 clove of garlic
2 tablespoons stoneground mustard
Salt, a pinch

Place all ingredients into the Vitamix and let it rip until smoooooth.

Serve cakes over a nice piece of Romiane and top with a dollop of dressing. Enjoy!

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Ice Cream Shmice Cream #18: Drunken Rum Raisin

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Along with the vanilla coconut layer cake, my husband requested rum raisin ice cream for his birthday celebration. I love making his food (and other) wishes come true! I have never eaten rum raisin so I really have no idea what it is supposed to taste like but my husband gave it two thumbs up!

I use actual rum, hence “Drunken Rum Raisin.” Even that little raisin looks a little tipsy, like it’s about to fall out of the ice cream scoop!

Warning: “Friends of Bill” and little kids should be careful. It doesn’t taste overly rummy but still…it’s got liquor!

1 cup raisins (I used half golden, half Thompson)
1/2 cup rum
2 cans coconut milk
3/4 cup vegan sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Place the raisins in a small container with a tight fitting lid and add the rum. Cover and shake to evenly coat the raisins. Leave sitting out at room temperature for 8 to 12 hours.

Combine coconut milk, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon in a bowl and chill for at least two hours.

Pour mixture into ice cream maker and churn for 10 minutes. When it is almost done, add the raisins and rum liquid.

Turn out into a Tovolo container or a freezer safe container with a piece of wax paper on top. Enjoy!

Vanilla Layer Cake with Vanilla Coconut Buttercream Frosting

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Happy birthday to my husband! He requested that I make a vanilla cake with vanilla coconut icing. His mom used to serve his family a frozen Pepperidge Farm layer cake for their birthdays and this was my husband’s favorite. When I cut into the cake, my husband’s sister totally got the reference right away. Great family memories now homemade, healthy and vegan!

Vanilla Layer Cake
3 cups flour (all purpose or whole wheat)
2 cups vegan cane sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups cold water
1 cup sunflower oil
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (about the juice of 1 lemon)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 375. Prepare two 9″ round pans.

Sift the dry ingredients together in a big bowl. Add the wet ingredients and mix with a hand mixer until a smooth batter forms.

Pour into the round pans. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes or until the cakes test done.

As they start to cool, use a serrated knife to level off one of the cakes. Cool the cakes completely.

Vanilla Coconut Buttercream Frosting*
2 sticks (1/2 cup) Earth Balance shortening
2 sticks (1/2 cup) Earth Balance butter
5 cups vegan powdered sugar
5 tablespoons water
3 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup shredded coconut

* The key to making perfect frosting is to make sure all of the ingredients are room temperature. Take the shortening and the butter out of the refrigerator and let them sit on the counter. Pour some water into a cup and let that sit out as well. Don’t start the process until everything is the same temperature. If making ahead of time, store in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Bring back to room temperature when ready to decorate.

Using a hand mixer, cream together the shortening and butter. Sift in one cup of powdered sugar at a time plus one tablespoon of water with each cup of sugar. Mix each addition well. Then, when it is all incorporated, add the vanilla and mix until incorporated.

Fold in the coconut using a wooden spoon,

Cut up a few pieces of parchment paper and put them on the bottom of a nice pie plate or whatever serving dish you are using. These will act as a boundary for the frosting so any extra does not end up on the plate.

Place the cake with the cut off top onto the parchment. Spread a fat layer of frosting onto the top of the bottom layer. Cover with the top layer and frost until you cover the entire cake. Pull out the little parchment tickets and display the cake prominently!

Sing happy birthday, cut the cake, make sure the birthday boy has his first bite, then everyone else can have theirs. Enjoy!

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Winter Vegetable Soup with Pumpkin Sage Pesto

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Any soup is super warming on a very cold winter day. This one is particularly good because it took no time at all. I used half of a big butternut squash plus everything else that was in the refrigerator. We topped the soup with a dollop of leftover pumpkin sage pesto from the other day because butternut squash, pumpkin and sage are a perfect match! Roasted Brussels sprout leaves would be another great topper. This bowl of loveliness is great with fresh bread!

Note: Vegetable sizes differ so use these measurements as a guide. Use what you have. It will be good no matter what!

1 onion
1 clove of garlic
2 Russet potatoes
2 parsnips
1 small butternut squash
1 big carrot
Vegetable stock or filtered water, enough to cover the vegetables
Salt, a few pinches

Rough chop the onion. Mince the garlic. Peel and chop the potatoes, parsnips, squash and carrot.

Add the onions and garlic to the soup pot and either water or oil sauté until softening. Add the rest of the vegetables and toss around. Cover with stock/water and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until everything is soft.

Serve as is or use an immersion blender (or blender) to puree the soup. Enjoy!

Saffron Polenta over Cauliflower Mash Topped with Pumpkin Sage Pesto & Sautéed Shallots

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If you read this bog you know I am a huge fan of Isa Moskowitz. I recently got to see her do a live show down at the City Winery. Funny, entertaining and great food!

I follow Isa’s restaurant, Modern Love on FB, and they recently posted a picture of this new dish: Saffron Polenta With Pumpkin Sage Pesto, Cauliflower Puree, & Crispy Shallots. They said, “It’s here now and waiting for you.” Yes, if I lived in Omaha I would have been right over.

I figure since I can’t easily get to Modern Love, although I am planning a field trip, I might as well try to imitate the dishes and flavor combos in my own kitchen. I used parsley to balance out the earthiness of the sage in the pesto which, like with any pesto, is better if made ahead of time. giving the pesto time to mellow and the flavors to marry. The earthy sage contrasts so nicely with the freshness of the saffron. In fact, that little spoonful I place gently on top of my dish was definitely not enough! The cauliflower mash and sautéed shallots add wonderful texture.

Note: Depending on how many people you are serving, there will be leftovers.

Saffron Polenta
1/2 cup uncooked organic polenta
1 1/2 cups water
Pinch saffron threads

Pour water into a pot. Rub the saffron threads between your fingers and drop them into the water. Bring it to a boil and then add the polenta. Reduce the flame and whisk until the polenta soaks up the water. Take the polenta off the heat and pour it into a rectangular baking dish and spread it out so that it is about 1″ thick. Let it sit for about 30 minutes for it to set. Cut it into any shape you like. I like to use a circle cutter.

Heat about a tablespoon of oil in a skillet and add the polenta. Let it go until it is starting to get crispy on the first side. You might even hear it popping. Then flip it and cook the second side.

Pumpkin Sage Pesto (makes about 1 cup, can be frozen)
1/2 cup fresh sage
1/2 cup fresh parsley
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
1 tablespoon chickpea or sweet white miso
1 clove of garlic
Pinch of salt

Place all of the ingredients into the food processor and process until it comes together and forms pesto.

Cauliflower Mash
1 head of cauliflower
Vegan milk *
Vegan butter *
Salt and white pepper, to taste

Cut the cauliflower into chunks and place in a pot. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Cook until the cauliflower is soft. Drain and place back into the pot.

* The amounts of milk and butter will vary, just like mashed potatoes, depending on the texture you like.

Start with a small amount of milk and butter use an immersion blender to puree until smooth. Add more butter or milk if necessary. Season with salt and white pepper.

Sautéed Shallots
Shallots, about 1 per person

Slice the shallots and water or oil sauté until soft.

Plate it up however you like and enjoy!

How to Save Fresh Parsley & Creamy Parsley Dressing v2

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I always have fresh parsley on hand. I love it sprinkled over everything but it really is more than a garnish. It is full of vitamins and minerals, it is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, and is great for digestion. But sometimes a big bunch is even too much for me. So I have figured out a way to save it without drying it out because then it loses its real parsley-ness.

In the past, I have frozen herbs on baking trays and I have frozen basil in olive oil. For this batch of parsley, I decided to chop the parsley, drop it into an ice cube tray, pour water over it, and freeze it into cubes. Once frozen, I popped them out of the tray and dropped them into a freezer bag.

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How to use parsley cubes? I use it to garnish a soup at the end of the cooking time. I take a few cubes out, place them in a bowl and let them melt. Then, I drain the water and drop the parsley into soup just before I’m ready to serve it.

This is the other way I use the cubes. I have made a new version of creamy parsley dressing which is a combo version of my creamy parsley dressing and my creamy cashew dressing. It’s not a parsley as the original and a little different than my house creamy cashew because of the white balsamic. A really nice creation.

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Creamy Parsley Dressing v2
1 cup raw cashews
1/2 cup filtered water
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
4 parsley cubes (or 1/4 cup water + handful of fresh chopped parsley)
1 tablespoon chickpea or sweet white miso
1 clove of garlic
The juice of 1/2 lemon

Place the parsley cubes in the Vitamix and let them melt. When all the way melted, add the rest of the ingredients and let it rip until smooth. Store in a jar and enjoy!

Spiralized Zucchini

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Spiralized Zucchini

A few years ago I got myself a gigantic spiralizer that I promptly returned. It was too big and seemed unnecessary. Recently I was corresponding with a friend on Facebook about my Cacio e Pepe and one of her friends recommended tossing spiralized zucchini with the cheese sauce. I was inspired and so I got myself a cheapy compact spiralizer from Brieftons.

So far, I have only spiralized zucchini, which seems to be the go to vegetable to spiralize. I am not sure I will be spiralizing anything else but you never know.

Here is what I have made so far. I tossed the “noodles” with my creamy cashew dressing for a nice salad dish. I also simply heated it through for a minute in a nonstick pan and served on the side of a tofu dinner.

I paired the zucchini with my weekly dose of mushrooms. Mushrooms are super healthy for tons of reasons and I like to eat shitakes at least once a week. I dry sautéed them and then added the zucchini spirals. With a big kale salad, this made a great lunch.

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I also tossed the zucchini with tomato sauce and topped it with two of my tempeh meatballs. I am under no illusion these zucchini spirals are “noodles” but it worked well as a light lunch.

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I think I prefer my zucchini lightly cooked but I am going to try to come up other ways to use it. Any ideas?

Lentil Vegetable Soup

IMG_7167Post cleanse craving filled: lentils. Lentils are a real super food because they are full of fiber and iron. I made myself a big bowl of this broth-y soup filled with lentils, potatoes, spinach, carrots and celery.

I accidentally bought lentils that had to be soaked prior to cooking. I didn’t realize it until making this soup (the first batch) because the lentils didn’t cook through while the rest of the vegetables melted into oblivion. So, I soaked a new batch, cooked the lentils separately and vegetables separately before incorporating. Note to self. don’t buy lentils that have to be soaked again. Read the label!

When making my usual lentil soup, I call for 3 cups of liquid to 1 cup of lentils so if you are using regular lentils remember the adapt the recipe so the lentils cook properly.

1 small onion
1 clove of garlic
1 carrot
1 celery stalk
2 yukon gold potatoes
1 cup cooked green lentils
1 cup fresh spinach
2 to 3 cups of filtered water or vegetable stock
Salt, a big pinch

Prepare the mis en place. Dice the onion, carrot, celery, and potato. Press the garlic.

Water or oil sauté the onions. When just softening, add the garlic. Add the carrots, celery and potatoes. Season with a pinch of salt.

Cover with water or stock and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the potatoes are just soft enough to eat. Add the lentils and spinach and cook until the spinach is wilted and the lentils are heated through. Enjoy!

Post-Cleanse Favorite Salad & Creamy Cashew Dressing

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The outcome of the cleanse? Not only can I tolerate kale, but I am craving it. I have been eating big bowls of this salad since I came off the cleanse and loving it. It’s my new fave! I douse it with my amazing creamy cashew dressing which I always have on hand. It is my “house” dressing and almost exactly like my Caesar dressing minus the nooch and mustard.

Creamy Cashew Dressing
1 cup raw cashews
1 cup filtered water
1 tablespoon chickpea or sweet white miso
1 clove of garlic
The juice of 1 lemon

Drop all ingredients into the Vitamix and blend until smooth. If you don’t have a Vitamix, soak the cashews for 4 hours to overnight.

Kale
Spinach
Romaine
Cucumber
Apple
Avocado
Creamy Cashew Dressing

Chop, dice and mix the salad ingredients together. Toss with dressing. Enjoy!

The BluePrint Cleanse

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I just completed a 5-day Excavation cleanse by BluePrint Cleanse (BPC). What a week! I feel energetic, light, clean, bright and super healthy!

I decided to do a cleanse because I felt like I needed to give my digestive system a break. I love to cook and I eat super clean and healthy but once in a while I like a good cleanse.

Here is how it works. You order however many days you want to cleanse for and BluePrint delivers to your door. I got my first delivery Sunday night so I was all set Monday morning and a second delivery on Wednesday to finish out the week. The bottles are packed in a special foil insulation with lots of ice packs and I got a special little BPC traveling bag to tote around town.

I chose the Excavation cleanse, which is the most intense cleanse BPC offers, because “Excavation is designed to flood your body with chlorophyll, restore your alkaline balance, and seriously rest your insides…Excavation takes you much deeper; it digs down to a cellular level, and leaves you feeling brand spanking new.”

Yes, exactly!

There are 6 juices per day (the same ones each day) four of which are green (that’s 1, 2, 3 and 5). The 4th juice is a spicy lemonade and the last bottle of the day is slightly sweetened cashew milk which turns into the best end of day dessert ever.

The green juices actually taste great, which is a feat, because for me, green juices can be dense and difficult to get down. Also, in the Excavation cleanse there are no juices with high glycemic ingredients like carrots, apples or beets so I didn’t have any crazy sugar highs or mood swings. “”Excavation focuses on juices that trigger detox and elimination, such as citrus (spicy lemonade), which act as “cleaners” and green vegetable tonics which act as “healers” and, ahem, “sweepers.””

So how was my week? As I knew it would be, day 1 was a bit challenging. I was definitely hungry and I had to run to the bathroom a lot but that all started to mellow out as the week went on. I found myself drinking the juices at 1 to 2 hour intervals, with room temperature water in between, and finishing the cashew milk between 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. The hunger pangs subsided and by day 3 I felt fine, like it was totally normal not to eat and only drink.

Admittedly, I thought about food much of the time but in a way that didn’t make me feel hungry but more in way that made me congratulate myself on how well I eat, the foods I love, and what, if any changes I might make in the near future. One thing I will continue to do is have a room temperature glass of water with the juice of half of a lemon right when I wake up. Oh, and, even though I had to make dinner for my son and husband, I had prepped over the weekend so I had meals on hand that were easy to reheat and serve.

I have done cleanses in the past but BluePrint is definitely the tastiest, most nutritious, most convenient and well thought out cleanse I have done. I feel fantastic and totally ready to eat again. I’m starting off with a perfectly ripe avocado in the a.m. I highly recommend embarking on a cleanse when you feel ready.