Hangover Breakfast Hash

After a late night of celebrating with my now former coworkers, I awoke craving something fried. My fridge was looking a little empty, but I had just enough ingredients to make this delicious and nutrient-rich breakfast hash, which I served alongside oven-roasted potatoes and black coffee. Can you ever really go wrong with potatoes?

Ingredients

1 medium onion, diced

2 small sweet potatoes or 1 normal sized, peeled and diced small

1 block of frozen medium firm tofu, thawed, squeezed out and drained, then shredded

2 or 3 big curly kale leaves, stemmed and roughly chopped

roughly 2 Tbs barbecue sauce

salt and pepper to taste

a little oil or cooking spray, optional if you use a good nonstick pan

  1. Heat up your pan with oil, if using, on medium-high, then add the onion. Cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally, until it starts to brown.
  2. Add your sweet potato chunks and let them brown with the onion.
  3. When your sweet potatoes and onion are a little brown and starting to soften, add the shredded tofu and give it a good stir. The tofu will start to brown as the water evaporates. Add salt and pepper.
  4. When the sweet potatoes are soft enough and the tofu is brown, add your kale. Then put a lid on it and let the kale wilt for a couple minutes before uncovering and giving a good stir. Cover again and let the kale cook almost to your desired tenderness.
  5. When your kale is almost where you want it, throw in the barbecue sauce and mix thoroughly. Cook until the flavors have blended a little and the kale is sufficiently wilted for your taste. Adjust salt and pepper, or add more sauce if you prefer. I really think it’s at its best with just a little bit though.

There you have it. Serve with whole grain toast or more potatoes like I did! This would also be great for dinner with side of rice or another cooked grain.

Post-Gluttony Smoothie

I don’t know about you all, but I ate my weight in pie and stuffing this weekend! It was pretty great, but after this long weekend of indulgent fare, I am ready to get back into my good habits again. That means starting my Monday morning off right with a little yoga and a special seasonal green smoothie.

I have a discarded apple from my mother’s awesome centerpiece (they’re turkeys made of apples! I didn’t take a picture!), as well as a good amount of fresh cranberries in the freezer. I bought them not for the sauce potential, but because they’re a healthy treat this time of year. I’ve also got an abundance of lemons due to a special at the local store. It is with these humble ingredients that I bring you this sweet-tart, light, refreshing breakfast.

Ingredients:

1 small apple, or half of a large one (your choice of variety), chopped

1 lemon, juiced

1/3 cup of fresh cranberries, or to taste (they are quite sour)

handful of greens (I had celery and chard)

1 cup cold green tea

1-2 Tbls chia seeds or ground flax seeds

Optional, for sweetness: half a frozen banana or one or two dates

a bit of fresh ginger if you’ve got it, 1/2 tsp powdered if not

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/4 tsp cardamom

And if you are brave, a dash of cayenne!

  1. Place all ingredients in the blender and blend until smooth.

I hope all of you had as delightful a holiday as I did! My manfriend and I spent Thanksgiving day in the country with my family for dinner, then spent the rest of the weekend eating leftovers and snuggling under blankets watching Jessica Jones.

People often ask me what on earth I could possibly eat at a meal centered on a slaughtered bird, but in the 15+ years I have eschewed eating animals, I’ve never gone hungry on this holiday. Most sides can be easily made meatless (stuffing made with vegetable broth, for example), and the rest are mostly vegetables anyway. Since I figured out my sensitivity to dairy, it’s been a little trickier, but we just make the mashed potatoes with almond milk and butter the vegetables with Earth Balance. For a main dish, we used to buy a Tofurkey, but a few years ago my mom started to experiment with making her own seitan-centerpiece for my brother and me. Some of them have been frankly pretty bad, but this year she got it just right! I’ve also brought to the meal a good number of hearty vegan dishes, like last year’s Corn Chowder Quinoa Casserole (from Let Them Eat Vegan!) and this year’s foray into vegan potpie…That recipe is to come! Stay tuned!

 

Buddha Bowl

This week’s lunch has been the usual improvisation: What do I have, and how can I combine it so it tastes good?

Starting with starches, I almost always have some cooked brown rice on hand, which is the basis for such a wide variety of dishes.

Next come vegetables. I have some basics like carrots and celery, as well as loads of kale (it was on sale!) and some raw beets.

I also need something proteiny and some flavor. My options were a little limited this week as I had only dry beans and no time to cook them, and very few nuts. I do always have peanut butter and some frozen peas, which I think are the most budget-friendly and convenient sources of protein you can get, aside from lentils and split peas which still have to be cooked.

So let’s get cooking! I decided to forgo the peas since I had some in my oatmeal for breakfast, and whip up some peanut sauce. Three birds, one stone: Flavor + protein + healthy fats.

Beets and carrots were quickly run through the grating disk on my food processor and tossed with a few tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and a little salt to make my favorite Easy Beet Salad.

I steamed a couple of stemmed and torn leaves of kale in the microwave in my Tupperwave Stack Cooker, but a covered glass or ceramic dish will also do the trick.

I simply layered the kale, brown rice and peanut sauce on a plate (use a big bowl, it will be easier to stir), and put a hefty serving of beet salad on the side, thinking it wouldn’t be great with peanut sauce. I was wrong; it was pretty good with peanut sauce. There you go, beets are a peanut butter food! Also topped the whole mess with some scallions, since onions are both delicious and good for your heart.

 

I ate half of it before I remembered to take a picture.

I ate half of it before I remembered to take a picture.

Since this is lacking a bean or tofu, I wondered what the actual protein content would be, since folks seem to be obsessed with where vegetarians get their protein. Plugged the ingredients into Google, and based on 1 cup each of rice and vegetables, plus two tablespoons of peanut butter, you end up with around 18g of protein, about a third of what a woman my size needs for the day. Not bad, right?

 

PS – I’ve been eating black bean soup for dinner at work all week.  In case anyone wanted the recipe, you can find a version of it here.

Cucumber-Strawberry Salsa

I’ve been making this in my Tupperware Quick-Chef Pro for my parties and it’s been a big hit!  So simple and perfect for this season.  I don’t recommend making it in a food processor; it’s too hard to control and you might end up with soup (tasty, but not what we’re going for).  If you don’t have a Quick-Chef or something similar, just finely chop everything by hand.

Ingredients:

1/2 lb strawberries

1 medium cucumber, peeled and seeded (if you get the little persian ones, you can skip peeling it)

1/2 a lime’s juice

handfull of fresh cilantro

a few scallions

Freshly ground black pepper and a dash of salt.

1.  Start by whirring the scallions and cilantro in the Quick-Chef until they are roughly chopped.

2.  Add your cucumber, in 1″-2″ chunks, give it three or four good turns.

3.  Add the strawberries and turn until chopped however finely you like, then gently fold in the lime juice.  Top with fresh black pepper and salt to taste.

Serve with tortilla or pita chips.  Yum yum yum.  It’s also really great over a salad of lettuce or baby spinach with a few pepitas.

Simple Skillet Suppers

If last winter was the winter of soup, this is the winter of the skillet.  All my meals lately seem to consist of whatever vegetables I have lying around tossed in a skillet and lightly seasoned.  Some of these meals turn out better than others for sure, but what I am really liking about them is how quickly they come together.  No need to simmer for hours at a time, hovering around near the kitchen lest it scorch or boil over.  Takes about 25 minutes if you chop as you go like I do (a good chef wouldn’t recommend that, but I’m not a chef, so there!)  Here’s one that was particularly delicious.

Southwest Skillet

Ingredients:

2 medium red or other potato (not russets, they fall apart), scrubbed and diced

1 onion, diced

8 oz package mushrooms, sliced

1 large green bell pepper, diced

1 can pinto beans, rinsed and drained

1/4-1/2 cup your favorite salsa

salt and pepper to taste

1.  In a large non-stick skillet over medium-high flame, heat enough water to cover the bottom.  Add the onions and potatoes, cover and cook about 5 minutes.

2.  Add the mushrooms and cook uncovered for 5 minutes.

3.  Add the pepper, cover and cook 5 more minutes, adding a little more water if it’s starting to stick.

4.  Finally, add the beans and salsa, give it a good stir and heat through.  Depending on how big you chopped your potatoes, you may need a little more time with the lid on to get them cooked through.

What I liked most about this meal was its versatility.  It made an excellent reheat-able dinner at work, for one thing.  My boyfriend topped it with cheese and wrapped it in a tortilla, and I think he also added some kolbassy when I wasn’t home to wrinkle my nose at it.  I ate the last of it for breakfast today, topped with a fried egg.

Also, the variations are endless!  I’m seeing another version with sweet potatoes, red pepper, and black beans, finished with a squeeze of orange juice and maybe a handful of baby spinach. Yum.  Last week I made one with potatoes, leftover roasted squash, an apple, and some cabbage, finished with lemon juice.  Trust me, that one was much better than it sounds 😉

Easier Kale Salad for Lazy Busy People, aka Me

I’ve spent so much time singing the praises of Dreena Burton’s Kale Slaw with Curried Almond Dressing from her wonderful book Let Them Eat Vegan (go buy it now.  NOW.)  I’ve served it at countless parties and never once found someone who doesn’t like it (exception being my family because they are weird.  (I love you)).  Die-hard junk foodies and meat-and-potatoes men have gone for seconds of this green ambrosia.  You should make it!  Really really do.

I was going to make it myself yesterday to counteract my weekend junk food binge, but had trouble mustering the energy because I was missing several dressing ingredients.  Plus I didn’t feel like hauling out the food processor or blender.  So I had a great idea.  Over the weekend I picked up some weird “40 spices” hummus at my local inadequate grocery store.  It was pretty strong and I wasn’t crazy about it on my pretzels, but I thought it might be a good sub for the dressing on my kale.  So I thinned it out with some lemon juice (from a bottle!  Please go buy a real lemon.) and other stuff and voila!  Passable dressing.

So here it is. All amounts are approximate because Penny Parsnip doesn’t measure ever.

Lazy Kale Slaw

Ingredients:

1 big bunch of kale, stemmed and torn into bite-size pieces

couple of carrots, thinly sliced or julienned (or buy pre-shredded carrots like a true lazy person)

4 stalks celery, thinly sliced

1/2 of a small onion, thinly sliced (optional)

handful of raisins or craisins

1 apple finely diced or julienned, tossed with some lemon juice

1/2 a small tub of your favorite or least favorite spicy hummus.  I used Tribe 40 Spices hummus.

lemon juice, vinegar, soy sauce, maple syrup or honey

assorted dry seasonings like garlic powder, mustard, or dried herbs to jazz it up

1.  Toss the veggies together in a giant bowl.

2.  Whisk the lemon juice or vinegar into the hummus until it is thinned out a bit, adding more to taste.  You want it to still be pretty strong, since it will be clinging to a lot of veggies.  Season to taste, and thin it to about the consistency of a thick bottled ranch dressing, but no thicker than mayonnaise.  Does that make sense?

3.  Pour the dressing over the veg and mix with your hands to distribute it evenly over the greens.  Really massage the leaves so they soften up a bit, and make sure all the small stuff doesn’t sink to the bottom.

Enjoy!  Let me know if you find any interesting combinations.  You could put all kinds of vegetables in; the original recipe calls for fennel.  I often use shredded raw beets.  Some red bell pepper would be good in there, or some nice fresh corn if you can still get it this late in the year.

Emptying the Cupboards

Dear friends, I have not had the time to do much writing in a while and I think it’s fair for you know why, since I hope that the reason will eventually lead to better content.

In a few short weeks I am leaving Brooklyn, my beloved home of nine years, for Pittsburgh, the city of my birth.  My reasons are many and diverse, but I’m hoping that I’ll find a stronger sense of community there as well as much much lower rent.  Brooklyn has been good to me.  I’m eternally grateful to so many people I have met over the years, all of the friends, teachers, children, and employers – many of whom have become like family to me.  All of you have taught me so much and made me into the woman I am today.  I will miss you.

So now that I’ve got the heartfelt sappy stuff out of the way, let’s talk about food!  For the past month I’ve been slowly stuffing things into boxes and trying to use up the contents of my freezer and pantry.  I successfully emptied the liquor cabinet by throwing a party, but I didn’t realize just how much real food I had been stockpiling.  I’ve still got a lot to eat (or give away) in the next five days before I abandon my apartment.  There are even things I can’t eat!  Namely a box of frozen salmon patties and some frozen raspberries. 

 It’s been a real adventure in eating finding ways to combine these things!  There have been grain pilafs with a variety of frozen veggies, soups and stews, innovative pasta sauces, oddly colored smoothies, and countless bowls of grits (why do I have so much cornmeal???).  Today I came up with a particularly good pot of glop stew that I’d like to share with you.

Quinoa Chili Glop  Stew

Ingredients:

1 big onion, diced

a few cloves of garlic, minced

1 big can of crushed tomatoes

2 cans of beans, drained and rinsed (I used kidney and black beans)

4 or 5 carrots, chopped

1 or 2 cups quinoa (or in my case, however much was in that jar (I didn’t measure))

cumin, chili powder, oregano, crushed red pepper, whatever spices you like in chili

1.  Saute the onions and garlic in a little water or broth until they are soft. Add the cumin and chili powder and saute a minute more.  Dump in the tomatoes and one can of water.  Cover and bring to a simmer.

2.  After about 10 minutes of simmering, add the carrots, quinoa, and beans and cook covered until most of the water is absorbed by the quinoa and the carrots are tender, about 20 minutes

3.  Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more water if necessary.  

There you have my lunch for the rest of the week!  Good stuffed into corn tortillas with some sliced avocado and hot sauce.  Who knows what I’ll do with it once I’ve run out of tortillas!

Mediterranean Bean Burgers

Mediterranean Bean Burgers

Make these!  They are from Dreena Burton’s wonderful cookbook, Let Them Eat Vegan.  Quite similar to my own Salsa Burgers, but with a different flavor twist.  Penny Parsnip makes them without olives, because olives are yucky 😉  I’m planning to eat these for dinner tonight with a side of pasta tossed with some steamed spinach, seasoned with lemon and lots of garlic.

Much love to all of my readers!  I’m  getting some things worked out for the better right now and hope to start posting my own recipes again soon.

FAQ’s: Is Eating a Plant-Based Diet More Expensive?

I’m having a bit of crazy New York City life crisis right now, so I haven’t had time to think about writing about my food (which really has just been a lot of hummus toast and  kombucha. Also coconut milk ice cream.  And so so much chocolate. Don’t judge me.)  But just because my life is stupid right now doesn’t mean that you should be deprived of great content!  Thus I direct you to one of my favorite blogs, MyPlantBasedFamily.com for some thoughts on budget-friendly eating.  Please share your thoughts with awesome writer mom Holly and definitely check out her other posts.

FAQ’s: Is Eating a Plant-Based Diet More Expensive?.

Also, if anyone else out there is on a budget and having a life event that creates the need to consume copious amounts of chocolate, allow me to recommend Trader Joe’s Pound Plus bar.  It’s $5.  Get one.

Split Pea Soup

It’s March, the weather is cold (then warm!  then cold again!), and St. Patty’s Day is around the corner.  Time to eat green things!  Kale, spinach, peas, and green beer (gag!).  Split pea soup is one of my favorite comfort foods.  It’s easy to make, very inexpensive, and super nutritious.  Plus, the variations are endless.  You can give it an Indian flair by using yellow peas and curry, or add different vegetables to stretch it out.  Swap the potatoes for barley or rice!  Add a dash of balsamic vinegar when serving for a bit of zest.  Deep down, though, I really prefer the most basic of recipes, which is what I’m sharing with you today.  Enjoy.

Ingredients:

1 lb split peas (green for St Pat! but yellow ones are nice too)

1 bay leaf

2 large onions

3 stalks celery

4 medium carrots

garlic, anywhere from 2 cloves to a whole head

4 medium potatoes.

Herbs: I like 1T each of dill, sage, and thyme, with some fresh parsley added at the end, and a healthy dose of black pepper

Optional: a big blob of miso paste, or salt to taste

1.  Bring the peas and bay leaf to boil in a large pot with enough water to cover.  Simmer while you prep the other veggies (or take a shower, or make phone calls, or whatever).  They should cook 30-60 mins.  You may need to add more water at any point if the pot gets too dry or the peas start to stick.

2.  Dice the onions, carrots, celery, and potatoes.  Size is up to you; I used my food processor to slice them into neat little disks because I’m lazy.  You could also grate the carrots, or chop everything roughly and puree the soup when it’s done.  Just a matter of preference.

3.  Once the peas have softened up quite a bit, you can add the veggies and herbs. Simmer until all the vegetables and peas are soft and flavors are blended.  Add miso or salt to taste (miso will take a few minute to dissolve).  If you’re planing to puree the soup, just sure to remember to take out the bay leaf!  Actually, take the bay leaf out either way.  I once told my kiddos that if you get the bay leaf in your bowl, it’s good luck.  I made that up to cover up the fact that I always forget to remove it.  Just don’t eat it.

Bon apetit!  Next task:  Green pancakes, without artificial coloring!  Wish me luck (of the Irish, that is)!