VMM13 Squash and Lentil Casserole

I haven’t done a vegan meatless Monday in a while, so I decided it’s time to get back to it.  I think the fact that Ben & Jerry’s now has 4 vegan ice creams INCLUDING CHUNKY MONKEY maybe got me motivated.  I am super excited to try those, but they aren’t yet in my area.  The guy at Whole Foods (I figured they were the best bet) said it could be about 2 months before it’s offered widespread and I may be able to find it.  Boo, but probably worth the wait!

Anyways, back to meatless Monday.  I couldn’t decide what to try and make today, but as it was 4:30 Sunday evening and I still had to figure it out and go grocery shopping, I voted for something quick and easy.  What’s quicker and easier than a casserole?  Decision made.

I thought squash sounded appropriate for January, and decided to add some beans to make it more of a main dish and less of a side dish. Being short on time I went with lentils as they don’t have to soak before cooking.  Plus, I really like lentils.

So lo and behold, spaghetti squash and lentil casserole was born.  And I have to say, is was pretty dang good and very comfort foody. Plus my two teenagers even liked it and you KNOW how teenagers are if you aren’t serving pizza.  My son even took a second helping and he’s one of those that would typically be going to try something, find out it’s vegan and change his mind.  My favorite thing to tell him is “You probably shouldn’t eat that apple (or whatever), it’s vegan”.

Here’s the ingredient list:

  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • 2 cups thin sliced zucchini
  • 1 cup dry lentils
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 diced white onion
  • 1 diced bell pepper
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (I used the ones with basil, garlic and oregano)
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic (heaping, of course)
  • 1 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 6 servings instant mashed potatoes (it’s what I had)

Start by cooking the lentils in the water.  Just bring them to a boil and then simmer covered for about 40 minutes, until they are tender.

Cut the spaghetti squash in half, seed it, and put it in a dish with about an inch of water. Microwave until tender, 10 to 15 minutes and them scrape the flesh out into a large bowl.  As each thing (besides the mashed potatoes) is finished just throw it all into this bowl.

Preheat the oven to 350.

Pan fry the onions, peppers, garlic and zucchini.  I don’t use oil for this, the onions put off enough liquid to get the job done.  When the onions are translucent and the zucchini is a bit tender add this to the big bowl.

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Cook the mashed potatoes according to the package directions.  I used Earth Balance butter(ish) and Rice Dream milk and they came out great.

Mix all ingredients except for the mashed potatoes in the bowl and then turn them out into a greased 3 quart casserole dish.

Spread the mashed potatoes over the top, and rough them up a bit so that they will get nice brown spots on them.

No need to cover, just put the casserole dish I the oven for half an hour and you are done.

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I have to admit, I used a lot of pans and it took a bit more time cooking from scratch and cutting all the veggies, but this was totally worth it and is going to be a part of our regular cold weather meals.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Vegan Meatless Monday 3

I haven’t written all week and with the holidays I probably won’t write much if at all next week either.  I’m substituting holiday and family type things for writing and also for pretty much everything else.  And I am very OK with that!

Christmas light

I had to come tell about Meatless Monday though because it’s kind of become a goal of mine to be a once a week vegan. I’m thinking it may be one of my 2014 goals – to keep it up all year.  That may sound like an easy goal but only if you don’t know what a dairy addict being vegetarian has made me and only if you don’t know how slightly horrible I am with trying new recipes.

About that…

Breakfast:

Last week I tried to make this cranberry bread in the bread maker and my result was bad enough that it went straight to the trash.  I mentioned it wasn’t the recipe, it was most likely my choice of bread machine settings.

This week I just made it in the oven like the recipe called for – and I love it!  This is the first time I’ve actually bought an orange for the purpose of using the ‘zest of one orange’ but I doubt it’s the last.  I really like the way it tastes and highly recommend you try this recipe. I actually plan on making this to bring to Christmas dinner.  If you figure out how to do it in a bread machine do tell!

Cranberry bread

Lunch:

Thanks to having Christmas Eve and Christmas off it seemed kind of wasteful to make a full week’s lunches like I usually do.  I mentioned it to my boyfriend and he said he was just doing sandwiches.  Hmm, good idea. But are the breads sold at my local grocer vegan?  I didn’t even look because I kind of doubt it and even if they are you know they’re full of unnecessary ingredients.  And so I had my next bread machine (almost) disaster.

  • 1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 2/3 water
  • 2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 2 tbsp agave
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 3 and 3/4 c whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 c oats
  • 1/4 cup flax
  • 2 and 1/4 tsp yeast

I used the whole wheat setting for a 2# loaf.  I modified the recipe from this one on Paleo-ish Guilty Kitchen.  I was a little confused about the setting for this bread too because she says she uses the ‘rapid bake’ setting and that it takes over 4 hours but on my machine rapid bake is less than an hour.  Hmm.  I just used the regular whole wheat setting.

I looked in at the bread a wee bit through and it was all crumbly  like it had sand in it.  What?  I make bread often enough to know it doesn’t do that.  So I ran back to the site and scrolled through the comments and saw one that said they thought they may have added too much water.  Um, I don’t remember water being in this recipe.  Talk about an A-Ha moment.  So I went back to the machine and added my 2/3 warm tap water and squished it in with my hands.  I kind of wrote off the bread at that point but figured there was no harm done by letting the bread machine do it’s thing.  And what came out?  An ugly, uneven, slightly heavy but very tasty bread!  Talk about a fool- proof recipe! So sandwiches it is.

wheat bread attempt

Dinner:

I do like to stick with easy on Monday nights so this week I’m making a minestrone type soup.  I can’t give an exact recipe because my method of making soup is throw a little of this and a little of that in a pot, then switch to a bigger pot once or twice, and so on and I didn’t make this one in advance.  But here is the general idea:

  •  a can of cannellini beans
  • maybe a can of kidney beans if it looks like it needs more
  • 1 sliced zucchini
  • 1 sliced yellow squash
  • a chopped onion
  • about 2 regular sized chopped carrots
  • a stalk or two of thin sliced celery
  • lots of fresh minced garlic – at least 3 or 4 cloves and likely more
  • fresh green beans
  • bite sized kale pieces
  • a can or two of diced Italian tomatoes
  • shell or macaroni pasta (depending on what I have)
  • Italian seasoning
  • spices but I’ll just have to use the add and taste method for that part (it’s my favorite cooking method!)

This is totally unrelated to any kind of meatless Monday but totally related to spending my time not blogging.  My son just showed me this:

Alex's highlighter expeimentHe squeezed the innards of a highlighter into a glass of water and put it in front of his black light.  Believe it or not I did nothing to the above picture at all, I just took the pic and uploaded it.

Groovy!!

If you have a vegan bread machine recipe I’d love a link to it!

Also let me know what you thing of my son’s experiment. I told him I was posting the pic on my blog and he of course instantly asked me what people thought.

 

 

 

Vegan Meatless Monday 2 (and some kitchen disasters)

This Monday’s meals didn’t turn out exactly as planned…

I made this cranberry bread for breakfast. Unfortunately although it looked great on the top the flour didn’t mix in on the bottom and it didn’t cook through so looks like it will be bananas and cantaloupe for breakfast. Which I like, but still.

I’m not sure what happened there, maybe I chose the wrong setting?  I’ve never made anything completely inedible in the bread machine before. I was kind of excited to make something with fresh cranberries so I’m pretty bummed about it. Plus I burned the hell out of my hand taking the pan out of the bread maker. It wasn’t the recipe – I ate a piece of the top crust and it would have been incredible. I think I’ll try it again when I get over severely not wanting to be in my kitchen unless it’s to get an adult beverage.

Lunch:

I made enough to pack for lunches all week because otherwise I’ll end up eating just a banana or fast food for lunch.

Earlier this week I made my own version of the Barfly‘s island salsa and it was so good I wanted to eat it with a spoon.  Granted the ingredients are all healthy, but that still may have been a bad idea.  So as an excuse to eat more of it I decided to morph it into island rice.  Score!

The salsa:

  • 1 can diced pineapple
  • 1/2 a diced red onion
  • 1 finely diced habanero
  • Fresh chopped cilantro to taste – is ‘lots’ an official cooking amount?
  • diced bell pepper (not green, just because it’s cooler with more colors!)

Island Salsa

I modified the salsa by using shredded pineapple and 3 chipolte peppers in adobe sauce instead of the habanero just because I had them and it sounded good. Then I cooked a cup of brown rice with 2 cups of water in the rice cooker and threw it all together with a drained can of black beans. Turned out kind of awesome if I do say so myself.

IslandSalsaWithHabanero

The first salsa with chunks of pineapple looks nicer as a dip but they were both really good. Here’s the end result of the island rice:

Island Rice

I’m going to go totally easy and just make a big green salad with a vinegar and oil dressing for dinner.  This is because of the stupid carrot fries.

So. I decided I’d be all cool and make carrot fries too, as a healthy vegan snack.  Why? Because I have still not learned to quit when I am ahead.  Here’s the recipe, they were great.

Cut about 2 pounds of carrots into fry shapes – I made mine on the thin side and about 2 inches long.

Toss them with 2 teaspoons of oil and 2 teaspoons of salt

I put the first half on one cookie pan and then added a tsp of chili powder, a tsp of onion powder, and a sprinkle of cumin on the second half and baked both pans at 400 for a little over 20 minutes, then put them under the broiler for a few minutes to crisp up a bit.

They were so good we ate them all Sunday and so they didn’t end up being part of meatless Monday at all.  But this little trip into cooking taught me many valuable lessons, so I thought I’d share them with you.

  • The drawer under the oven is NOT a broiler, it’s for storage
  • The garbage disposal is really easy to take out, but Google it first because the screws that look like they’re holding it in are not holding it in at all
  • All of the pipes under a kitchen sink come apart and go together pretty easily, and you don’t even need putty
  • Do not run your dishwasher and then walk away when your sink is clogged up
  • Do NOT peel 2 pounds of carrots into the sink, even if you have a garbage disposal, even if you’d swear you’d done it before with no ill effects

Ya. That’s how I spent my Sunday afternoon, how about you?  Sometimes I think it’s a miracle I haven’t yet starved to death or totally broke my entire house yet…