THE HEALTHY HAG

I COOK … I EAT … I SHARE.

Easy Vegan Lentil “Burgers” March 30, 2010

And so the love affair with lentils continues.  I wanted something to compliment my other half’s MEAT night BBQ, seeing as it was an even 50/50 split for the veggies and the carnivores.  I’ve made a bunch of meatless burgers (or patties if you’re offended by that term), and it’s always a challenge to get them to stay in one piece and not crumble apart.  Well my dears, this worked beautifully!  I just modified a few of the usual methods/ingredients, and what resulted was a hearty, tasty and totally vegan lentil burg that I’ve been enjoying for 2 days now (yes, made a HUGE batch).  Anyhoodle, give these ones a go, and serve ’em with your FAVE sauces … and say HELLO to BBQ season!!!

 

INGREDIENTS:

 

 

1 cup dry red lentils
1 cup water
1 cup stock
½ tsp salt
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 garlic gloves, minced
1 medium carrot or zucchini, diced
3 tbsp tomato sauce
½ tsp pepper
1 tsp curry OR chili powder (or any other spice you’d like)

Meal: ¾ cup bread crumbs OR rolled oats OR ground almonds mixed with nutritional yeast – finely ground

extra meal (about 2-3 tbsp)

 

DIRECTIONS:

 

 

1) Sauté the onion, garlic and zucchini (or carrots) in oil until soft, about 5 minutes.

2) Place the lentils, stock, water, tomato sauce, spices and salt in with onion/garlic, bring to a boil, lower heat, cover, and simmer for about 30-45 minutes, until water is nearly gone and lentils are very soft.

3) Stir in additional salt and pepper (per taste) and allow lentil mixture to cool (about 30 min) then mix in the ground “meal” of your choice.

4) Place additional “meal” in a small dish; form lentil mixture into “burgers” and coat with crumbs on all sides.

5) Cook and serve with zesty sauce (I used a delish vegan hemp mayonnaise by BFF made for me) Cooking options:
(A) In a frying pan, heat a bit of oil (do not use olive oil), place burgers on top and fry until brown (about 2 minutes per side).
(B) In a 400ºF oven, bake the burgers on a greased baking sheet until light brown (about 15 minutes total), flipping once mid-way through.

 

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Note – these store really well for up to a week!

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Homage to Aunt Marg!! Mac’n’cheese and Buttery Raisin Scones January 28, 2010

So growing up I was lucky enough to have all 4 grandparents PLUS an extra couple of great aunts that basically were like yet another pair grandparents (all lived within a 20 min radius).  Lucky – you think?? I was super close with my Aunt Marg, and spent many a weekend and vacation with her … and she’s mostly the reason I got into cooking and baking as a young kid.  She was an old fashioned chef with the tastiest classics under her belt.  I could always expect my favaourite meal of the year on my birthday – mac ‘n’ cheese and warm buttery scones.  Don’t ask.  So, when it came time for my brothers birthday a few weeks ago, I offered to make him a tasty meal in honour of our good old Aunt Marg (she passed quite suddenly 6 years ago), and he was like a little kid he beamed with glee.  What was the result?  One banging dinner the entire fam enjoyed… beyond delish and so reminiscent of dinners with Aunt Marg we were all taken back to over-heated apartments and the soft laugh she bellowed so often.  What’s your favourite childhood meal?

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MAC’N’CHEESE

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INGREDIENTS:

2 cups uncooked elbow macaroni

1 small onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, finely minced

¼ cup TBSP butter

2 ½ TBSP flour

2 cups shredded OLD cheddar cheese

½ cup grated Parmesan cheese

3 cups milk (I used 1%)

½ cup bread crumbs (I used multigrain)

1 pinch cayenne pepper

Salt and pepper to taste

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DIRECTIONS:

1. Cook macaroni according to the package directions, then rinse with cold water, drain and set aside.

2. In a large stove-top & oven-friendly casserole pot (I use my big Le Crueset for this), melt butter over medium heat, and then sauté onion and garlic for 3-4 min until soft (not browned!), then stir in flour and combine.

3. In a separate small pot, bring milk to a steam (not boil!) then add milk slowly to onion/garlic/flour mixture, stirring constantly, and lightly simmer for 5 minutes.

4. Stir in cheeses and cayenne pepper to casserole pot, and cook over low heat until cheese is melted and the sauce is a little thick, adding salt and pepper to taste.

5. Remove from heat and add macaroni to casserole dish, and stir well, then sprinkle with bread crumbs to cover completely.

6. Bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes, then place under broiler for a few minutes until top is slightly browned.

7.  Allow to cool for 5-10 min before serving, and serve HOT!

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BUTTERY RAISIN SCONES

I always wanted scones with my mac’n’cheese – I still love the combo for some reason.  So buttery and so comforting, these scones are juicy with raisins, and are a semi-sweet treat you can enjoy all on their own too.  I loved to wipe up all the leftover cheese in the bottom of my bowl with these.  Oh good grief – huge cravings now!

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INGREDIENTS:

2 cups flour (use regular white if you can)

2 TBSP baking powder

2 TBSP sugar

½ tsp baking soda

½ tsp salt

½ tsp nutmeg

½ cup COLD butter (I then use a grater and grate the butter in for easier mixing)

¾ cup raisins

¾ cup buttermilk

1 egg white, lightly beaten OR 1 TBSP butter melted

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DIRECTIONS:

1) Preheat oven to 425F, and mix together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg in a large bowl.

2) Grate in butter until mixture is like large crumbs, then stir in raisins and buttermilk.

3) Drop dough (using a ¼ cup measuring cup – or very large spoons) onto a greased baking sheet, brush tops with egg whites OR butter and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

4) Remove from oven and serve immediately!

 

The Weekly Soup – Red Lentil

I live for lentils.  Okay not literally, but I get excited about lentils the way some people do about bacon.  I could add them to just about everything and be one happy camper.  Packed with flavour, protein and fiber (okay, and phosphorus, copper, thiamin and potassium, you get the point) lentils come in a variety of forms and typically are cheap cheap cheap.  Oh did I mention they are pretty darned easy to prepare too?  If you’re a lazypants, buy the canned, however you can really control the flavour and texture (and sodium!) if you buy them dried, and they’re even cheaper.  This soup is creamy, slightly sweet and hearty.  Perfect for fall, winter or a chilly summers night.  PS – it’s dairy free too!

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INGREDIENTS:
1 TBSP coconut oil (this is a great way to add more flavour, but you could use olive oil if you’re desparate)
1 cup onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp salt

2 cups red lentils
2 cans coconut milk (I use the powdered kind that you add to water – it’s handy to have, and less fatty)
4-6 cups water (enough to cover all ingredients)
1/2 cup carrot or zucchini, diced

1/2 cup celery, diced
2 cups sweet potato, diced
1 TBSP fresh ginger, minced
1 1/2 TBSP curry powder
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp pepper
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DIRECTIONS:
1. In a dutch oven or large stockpot over medium heat, sauté onion for 2 min in coconut oil, then add garlic and salt, stir, and cook for 1-2 min.
2. Add all remaining ingredients, combine and cover and bring to a boil.
3. Stir well, reduce heat to simmer, cover again, and cook on low for 30-45 min, until lentils are cooked through and creamy.
4. Add salt and pepper to taste, and serve with your favourite naan or pita bread!

 

The Weekly Soup: Tomato Dill December 23, 2009

I went a little over zealous last week at the grocers with a sale of cherry tomatoes.  I am a sucker for a sale and when these little gems were 2 pints for $3 I just had to get some (okay more than some).  I then found myself with too many little red rubies staring at me every time I hit the kitchen. There was only so many Greek Salads I could eat in a week, so I decided to soup it.  I forgot how nicely dill and tomato go together.  This is a fresh style soup – and it can be served smooth or rustic – your choice.  Good for any time of year!!  I loved this with super crusty bread and tasted incredible the next day too.  I assume it would freeze pretty well, but mine didn’t make it that far. 

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INGREDIENTS:

1 small onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 TBSP canola or olive oil

1 tsp butter

2 medium tomatoes, sliced (or 1 pint of cherry tomatoes)

1 tsp sugar

1/4 tsp salt

Pepper to taste

1/3 cup tomato paste

2 TBSP (all-purpose) flour

1 1/4 cups cold water, divided

1/3 cup cream

1 tsp minced fresh dill (or 1/2 tsp dried)

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DIRECTIONS:

1) In a small saucepan, cook onion and garlic in oil and/or butter over low heat until translucent.

2) Add tomatoes, sugar, salt and pepper, and cook over medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes, then remove from heat then stir in tomato paste.

3) In a separate small bowl, combine flour and 1/2 cup of water until smooth, stir into tomato mixture, then gradually stir in remaining water until smooth (you can add more water if you want a thinner consistency).

4) Return saucepan to heat and bring to a boil, then continue to cook and stir for 2-3 minutes longer.

5) Place a sieve over a large bowl, pour soup into sieve, and press with the back of a large spoon to remove tomato seeds and skin.  NOTE – you can skip this step if you want a more rustic or chunky soup.

6) Return puree to pan and add cream and dill, and cook over low heat just until heated through (do not boil!!!!!!!).

7) Serve HOT!

 

The Weekly Soup: All alone-ey Minestrone December 16, 2009

I found myself with a night of me me me, so what do I do?  Cook.  It was cold, wet, damp and miserable enough out that I was desperate for comfort food that would not infringe on my upcoming Christmas binging.  The result was another soup – one that was sooooo good it only lasted a day (no freezing possibilities were even a glimmer in anyone’s eye).  The best thing about this soup is its versatility.  Add or remove whatever you want or have or feel like – maybe double the batch so at least there’s a chance it may last for more than a day.

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INGREDIENTS:

1 TBSP olive or canola oil

1 large onion, chopped

1 tsp coarse salt

2 cups mushrooms, chopped

1 medium zucchini, chopped

1 pepper, chopped (red, yellow, orange will do)

1/2 can of sweet corn

1 celery stalk, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced)

4 cups good quality broth

1 can diced tomatoes (14 oz )

1 can mixed beans (19 oz)

2 TBSP tomato paste

2 tsps each of dried basil and dried parsley

1 tsp dried thyme

fresh pepper to taste

3-4 cups water

1 cup dried macaroni or shells

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DIRECTIONS:

1. Heat oil in a large stove-top pot at med-high, add chopped onion and sauté until translucent.

2. Add all remaining vegetables to the pot and sauté until well cooked and softened (about 10 min).

3. Gradually add stock, tomatoes, mixed beans, tomato paste, spices, and water (add as much as you like until you get your desired consistency – I used 3 cups).

4. Cover with lid and simmer on low heat for 20-30 minutes – stirring occasionally.

5. Meanwhile, fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil for macaroni or shells then add pasta to boiling water, and cook until al dente (just under the recommended time)

6. Add al dente pasta to soup and simmer for another 5 minutes.

7. Remove soup from heat, and serve sprinkled with fresh Parmesan and crusty bread.

 

Saucy Polenta Fingers December 10, 2009

After feeling like I hit a culinary wall of non-creativity (why is it that we always go back to the same old same old after a while??), I went a huntin’ in the great abbyss that is my pantry.  My prey?  Turned out to be a big fat zippy filled with cornmeal.  Enter… inspiration!  I’ve made both the store bought and homemade kinds before, but I wanted to jazz this lil diddy up, so I made this into fingers.  Cooled ’em, cute ’em, grilled ’em, then smothered ’em in sauce.  Outcome?  A brilliantly cheap, quick, hearty and luscious winter-time meal.  Bonus was the totally gluten-free day I had!  Woot!

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INGREDIENTS:

For the polenta –

4 cups water

3 1/2 cups of milk

2 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups cornmeal

1/2 tsp dried basil

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1 tbsp butter (I used unsalted)

For the sauce –

2 tbsp olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 cups fresh green beans, trimmed and chopped into 1 inch pieces

2 cups diced canned tomatoes

1 tsp EACH dried parsley and dried basil

Salt and pepper to taste

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DIRECTIONS:

1. Bring water and milk to a boil in a medium pot, then turn down to a simmer – watching closely so you don’t burn the milk.

2. Add cornmeal  into pot in a slow stream, stirring, then add dried basil and salt, and continuing to whisk for about 2-3 minutes.

3. Continue to simmer on low heat for about 15 minutes more – polenta will be gloppy and stiff, but try to keep stirring so the bottom does not burn, then remove from heat.

4. Mix in Parmesan cheese and butter, then plop into a greased 9×11 baking dish and cool for at least 30 minutes until completely solid.

5. While polenta is solidifying, in a large skillet heat oil over medium heat, and saute onions until translucent, then add in garlic and cook until garlic is fragrant and slighly browned (about 1-2 minute).

6. Add canned tomatoes and dried spices (and salt and pepper to taste), simmer for 5-7 minutes, then add in diced green beans and cook until tender – about another 5 min (simmer sauce on low until ready to use).

7.  Slice soild polenta into fingers, remove fro baking dish, and grill in a grill pan until heated and slightly browned (you could also broil in the oven, turning so all sides are browned).

8. Place grilled polenta fingers on a plate, and cover with sauce – sprinkle with parmessean and serve HOT!

 

The Weekly Soup – Leek and Cauliflower November 2, 2009

It dawned on me this weekend that I make home-made soup at least twice a month, so I thought seeing as the weather is turning why not make this into a heart-warming weekly affair!  I do love a theme.  So, I officially welcome you to the very first edition of the Weekly Soup.  Nice and timely right at the beginning of November.  It’s brisk but lovely here in Canadaland where I live, and soup seems to make it all the better.

 

Seeing as leeks just happened to land in my lap (a wee gifty from the mom-in-law), I set out yesterday to make something soothing and oniony.  I intended on making potato leek soup, but with nary a spud in sight, I swapped in that other tasty white veg: cauliflower.  The result?  A gorgeous smooth and savory soup that is actually one of the best I’ve had in ages.  It holds up pretty well to a quick zap to re-heat and would even do well served cold in the summer as a vichyssoise. Versatile, easy and spectacularly tasty?  SOLD!

 

INGREDIENTS:

1 TBSP butter

½ small onion, finely chopped

1 TBSP olive oil

2 leeks, chopped and washed of all grit (TIP: soak the chopped leek in cold water, drain a repeat a few times to ensure all the dirt is gone)

½ large head of cauliflower, chopped

3 cups stock (your choice – as long as it’s rich and good!)

1 cup boiling water (you may use more or less, depending on the thickness you desire)

1 ½ tsp sea or kosher salt (if your stock is super salty, use less)

½ cup 10% table cream

1/3 cup extra old white cheddar, grated (you could use any old hard cheese, but this is my FAVE!)

Pepper to taste

 

DIRECTIONS:

1)      Bring a large pot to medium heat and sauté the onion in the butter and olive oil until just browned.

2)      Add into pot the leek and cauliflower, and sauté until browned and softened (about 5-10 min).

3)      Pour stock, water and salt into pot, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 min (or until veg are very tender).

4)      Turn off heat and allow soup to cool slightly, then add in cream.

5)      Pour all contents into a blender, and blend until smooth (you can add in extra liquid if it’s too thick).

6)      Place puréed soup back in pot, add in grated cheese and re-heat slightly (you do not want to burn this soup, so be careful!).

7)      Serve warm with zesty crackers or crusty bread – even top with plain yogurt or sour cream and a sprinkling of freshly chopped chives!!  Mmmmmmmmmmmmm.

leekcaul