Skillet Squash Saute

I have never been a huge fan of yellow squash, I’ve always been more in love with zucchini.  But I had some yellow squash sitting on my counter taunting me, so I started thinking about how I could use it.  I had some Roma tomatoes that were going to go soft if I didn’t use them up, and a few jalapenos that would also go soft if not used, so I grabbed everything along with a yellow onion and got to work.

Let me tell you, this dish has made me a believer!  I am now totally in love with yellow squash!  The flavor in this dish is slightly spicy, a little sweet, and totally delicious.  It is low in calories and full of vitamins A and C, so it is a nice side to add to any of your favorite summer meals.  If you’re already a fan of yellow squash, you’re going to love this dish.  If you’re not, give it a try anyway.  You may be pleasantly surprised.  I sure was.

Skillet Squash Saute 2

Skillet Squash Saute
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Serves: 6

Ingredients:
2 Tbsp olive oil (or less, depending on taste and diet restrictions)
1 yellow onion, diced
2 – 3 fresh jalapenos, diced (see note 1)
3 large or 6 medium yellow squash, cut into 1 inch pieces (see note 2)
4 roma tomatoes, diced
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper

Directions:
1. Heat oil in non-stick skillet over medium heat.
2. Add onion and jalapenos to oil and saute until tender.
3. Add squash and spices, stir to combine. Continue to heat, stirring occassionally, until squash is slightly softened, but still with a bit of crunch (not mushy).
4. Add tomatoes, stir to combine, and continue to cook until everything is heated through; about 3 minutes. Serve.

Notes:
1. For minimal heat, remove seeds and veins from jalapenos. If you want to maintain maximum spice, leave seeds and veins in when dicing.
2. If using large yellow squash, sometimes the skin can be quite thick and bumpy. You can use a peeler to remove a thin outer layer of the skin to keep it from staying too tough while the inside gets too soft. If using smaller squash, only peel off marks and bumps and cook with the skin on.

Nutrition (according to www.caloriecount.com):
Calories per serving: 66 Calories from fat: 44 Total fat: 4.9g Saturated Fat: 0.7g
Cholesterol: 0mg Sodium: 316mg* Total carbohydrates: 5.4g Dietary Fiber: 1.5g
Sugars: 3.1g Protein: 1g

*The sodium content is most likely incorrect.  I believe the calorie counter was calculating for jarred or canned jalapenos which would contain sodium.  I used fresh jalapenos, which would not.

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Avocado Pasta Salad

Avocado Pasta Salad 1

I came across a post the other day for this Creamy Avocado Salad Dressing from Simply Scratch and knew I had to make this as soon as possible!  Not only would this be delicious on a salad with some ice-cold, crisp romaine lettuce, but I thought it would taste great in a pasta salad, too.  So I started thinking about the half box of Ditalini pasta I had left from making the Peas and Pasta recipe and just started putting the pasta salad together in my head.  I wrote down my list of ingredients and headed out to the grocery store to pick up the few items I didn’t have on hand.

This Avocado dressing comes together very quickly (I used my NutriBullet to blend it) and can be adjusted for your personal taste and consistency.  I simply boiled the rest of the pasta and drained it, then tossed it in a large bowl with my other ingredients, topped it with the dressing and stirred until everything was nicely coated.  I topped it off with a few turns of the pepper mill and it was ready to serve.  (I ate it right away and it was delicious, but of course you can place it in the refrigerator for a couple of hours if you prefer it to be nicely chilled).

You can alter this salad to include any ingredients you like, it’s very versatile.  Don’t be afraid to experiment.  I hope you’ll give a try at your next Summer gathering.  And then stop back by and let me know how you liked it.

Avocado Pasta Salad 2

Avocado Pasta Salad
Serves: 8 – 10
Prep Time: 20 -30 minutes
Chill Time: 2 hours (optional)

For The Creamy Avocado Salad Dressing
Ingredients
1 avocado
1 clove garlic
1/2 Tablespoon fresh lime or lemon juice
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
water

Directions
1.  In a mini food processor add the peeled clove of garlic, avocado, lime or lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.

2.  Process until smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides a few times. Thin the salad dressing out with a little bit of water until it reaches a desired consistency.

For The Pasta Salad
Ingredients
1/2 box small pasta such as Ditalini, Elbow, or Bowtie (can use Gluten free pasta) cooked to package directions
1 – 2 avocados, diced
2 ears of sweet corn, cut off the cob or 1 cup of frozen corn, thawed
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1 container grape tomatoes, sliced
2 small cans sliced black olives
1 batch of Creamy Avocado Salad Dressing (see above)

Directions
1.  Place everything in a large bowl and stir to combine. Top with a few turns of the black pepper mill.

2.  Let chill in the refrigerator for a couple of hours. Serve and enjoy.

Can be served alone or on a bed of crisp romaine lettuce.

Peas and Pasta

One of the things I enjoy about eating a Vegan diet is taking ordinary non-Vegan recipes and adapting them so they are Vegan.  I receive emails and subscribe to newsletters from some online recipe sites that are not Vegan-specific sites because I can still find truly delicious looking meals that just need a few tweaks.  And I’m always up for the challenge.  So when I saw this recipe from Better Homes & Gardens, I knew it was one I had to make!

I love peas!  And I also love pasta.  So this one was right up my alley.  It’s easy to make, comes together quickly, can be served either hot or cold, and tastes divine.  You probably have most of the ingredients on-hand already, and the few that you don’t aren’t going to break the bank or have you running all over town to find them.  Simple, easy, perfect.

The sauce is made with peas, combined with shallot, milk and a few spices, and it transforms into this luscious, creamy sauce bursting with pea flavor that clings to each little noodle.  Each bite is a mouthful of pea heaven!  So I hope you will give this one a try, and that you love it as much as I do.

Pasta and Peas 2

Peas and Pasta

Makes: 4 servings
Serving Size: 2/3 to 1 cup macaroni
Yields: 4 cups
Start to Finish: 30 minutes

Ingredients
1 cup dried ditalini pasta (can use gluten free pasta)
2 cups shelled peas (fresh or frozen)
1/2 cup loosely packed fresh basil leaves, chopped (or 2 tsp dried basil)
1 shallot, peeled and quarted
1/4 cup finely shredded Vegan parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon oil (I used Magic Vegan Bacon Grease – found here)
1/4 cup Vegan milk/cream (I used regular, unsweetened, unflavored soy creamer)

Directions
1. Cook pasta according to package directions, adding 1 cup peas the last 2 minutes of cooking. Reserve 1 cup pasta water. Drain pasta mixture; return to pan.

2. Meanwhile, in a blender or food processor (I used my Magic Bullet), combine the remaining peas*, the basil, shallot, 2 tablespoons of the Parmesan cheese, the salt, and pepper. Add 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water. Cover and blend or process until nearly smooth. Set aside.

3. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add milk/cream to skillet; bring to boiling. Boil gently, uncovered, for 1 minute. Add pasta mixture, blended pea mixture, and the remaining 1/2 cup pasta water to skillet. Toss gently until heated through. Serve topped with the remaining Parmesan cheese.

Notes
* If using fresh peas, blanch them in boiling water for 2 minutes before processing.

Tuscan White Bean & Sausage Stew

Tuscan White Bean & Sausage Stew

This is a dish I have been thinking about making for a little while now.  I am obsessed in love with these Field Roast Smoked Apple Sage Vegan Sausages and I’ve been thinking about ways to use them.  Pairing them with white beans and spinach sounded perfect.  And it was.

This dish is quick to come together, easy to make, and most of the ingredients are probably already in your pantry.  Perfect for a week night meal for your family, but also pretty enough to serve to company.  Pair it with a salad, crusty bread and a nice wine for a complete meal.

Tuscan White Bean & Sausage Stew
Yield: 4 – 6 servings

Ingredients:
1 pkg. (4 sausages) Field Roast Smoked Apple Sage Vegan Sausages, sliced 1/4″ to 1/2″ thick
1 med. yellow onion, diced
2 cans white beans, drained (and rinsed if you prefer)
1 can fire roasted diced tomatoes
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
3/4 cup vegetable broth or water
1/2 cup frozen chopped spinach
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. dried basil (or to taste)
1 tsp. dried oregano (or to taste)
1 tsp. garlic powder (or to taste)
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
1. Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onion and saute for 2 minutes. Add sausage and cook until browned and onion is tender.
2. Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Bring to a boil.
3. Lower heat and let simmer for 5 – 10 minutes or until heated through.

Calabacitas

Calabacitas is a quick and easy dish that goes perfectly with just about any meal.  With the addition of roasted green chile, it gives it a rich southwestern flavor you’re sure to love.  If you don’t have access to fresh green chile, you can usually find canned diced green chile in the International Foods aisle of most grocery stores.  If you can’t locate it or don’t like green chile, you can simply omit it from the recipe.

You can serve the calabacitas as a side dish to your favorite meal, use it as a delicious filling for enchiladas and burritos, or simply enjoy it all on its own.  It’s sure to become a fast favorite.

Calabacitas
Yield: 6 servings

Ingredients
2 medium zucchini, cut into 1″ pieces
2 fresh ears of sweet corn, kernals removed (or 1 1/2 cups frozen corn)
1 yellow onion, diced
2 roasted, diced green chiles (or 1 – 2 small cans of diced green chile)
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions
1. Heat oil in a non-stick skillet over medium heat.
2. Saute onion and corn for about 2 minutes.
3. Add zucchini and green chile, and continue to cook until zucchini is cooked but still firm, not mushy.
4. Add salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

Pinto Beans

These luscious and creamy pinto beans will satisfy everyone, and have them coming back for more.  These are not the beans you get at your local Mexican restaurant; they are not refried beans; and they certainly are not canned pinto beans.  They cook low and slow which brings out all the wonderful flavor of the beans, and they become cradled in a smooth gravy-like sauce.  It may seem like a lot for a simple bean, but I promise you the time is worth it. They are quite literally the best pinto beans I have ever had.  I mean, seriously, I had them with my dinner and then had another bowl of them for dessert!

Now, let’s discuss the Magic Vegan Bacon Grease.  This is my new obsession.  This wonderful bit of heaven is made with coconut oil, spices, salt and, well….magic.  It’s true!  It’s even listed in the ingredients!  There are very few things I actually miss being Vegan, but one of them was the crispy little bits you would get off the bottom of the pan after you had cooked meat.  I always loved that for cooking my onions, potatoes, eggs in the pan afterward.  But NOW I can have it again!   This gives all of your dishes that added flavor and texture guilt-free.  My omni parents even love this stuff.  It isn’t the cheapest oil you can buy, but the additional cost is worth it if you can swing it.  It is not necessary for this recipe, so if you don’t have it, just use your favorite oil.

You can eat these plain alongside your favorite meal, wrapped in a tortilla with cheese and your favorite fillings, or simply in a bowl with your favorite toppings.  I like mine with a little red or green chile and cheese (as pictured).

It is hard to determine how many servings you will get out of this recipe because serving sizes vary depending on how you are serving it (as a side dish, as a burrito filling, as a dessert 😉 ), but we got enough for about 10 side-dish-size servings.  Enjoy!

Pinto Beans (Vegan)

Ingredients
1 – 16 oz. bag dried pinto beans
2 small yellow onions, diced small
4 – 5 garlic cloves, minced
1.5 Tbsp. Magic Vegan Bacon Grease (or 1 Tbsp. oil of choice)
1 tsp. smoked paprika
Salt to taste

Directions
1. Pick through the pinto beans to remove any small stones or bad beans. Place beans in a large bowl and cover with 3 – 4 cups of water. Cover with plastic wrap and soak overnight.

2. Drain and rinse beans. Place beans in a large dutch oven, cover with about 4 cups of water and boil on stovetop for 45 minutes. Drain and rinse beans and set aside.

3. Heat oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat. Place onion and garlic in oil, and cook for about 5 minutes, just enough to soften. Add beans back to pot and cover with 3 – 4 cups HOT water. Stir in paprika, cover and cook over low heat for 3 hours. Add HOT water if/as needed to keep beans just covered. Stir occasionally.

4. After about 2 1/2 hours, take 3/4 to 1 cup of beans and liquid from pot and mash well. Stir this back into the beans. Taste for salt and add as needed. Continue to cook for another 1/2 hour or until beans are to desired softness and liquid is to desired thickness. Enjoy!

Notes:  

*This can also be cooked in a slow cooker or crock pot.  Just follow steps 1 and 2, and then put all the ingredients into your slow cooker and cook on low for 4 – 5 hours or until beans are creamy soft.  You may want to add a little more water at the beginning if you are not able to keep an eye on the level while it cooks.  You will have to make these adjustments as I have not made these in a slow cooker.

**When adding water to your beans while cooking, always add HOT water as adding cold water will cause your beans to turn dark brown.

Chocolate Walnut Brownie Bites

I found this recipe over on The Lemon Bowl and really wanted to try it.  I had made a pie crust from walnuts and dates before, and it was so good I couldn’t stop eating the mixture while I was pressing it into my pie plate.  So when I saw this recipe, I knew I simply had to try them!

These are delicious little bites of heaven!  They are moist and chocolaty just like a good walnut brownie, sweet enough to tame your cravings, and rich enough that you won’t need more than 1 or 2 of them to be satisfied.  And at around 70 calories each, a couple of these make for a healthy, light snack that is easy to grab on the go.

Chocolate Walnut Brownie Bites

Original author:  Liz DellaCroce from The Lemon Bowl
Serves:  16 – 20 (depending on size)

Ingredients:
1 cup dates
1 cup walnuts
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:
1. Place dates in a medium bowl and cover with warm water. Let soak for 5 minutes to soften, then drain.

2. Add drained dates and all remaining ingredients into a food processor and pulse until mixture turns into the consistency of clumped sand.

3. Remove blade from the unit. To form balls, you may use a stainless steel scoop or just roll enough of the mixture between your hands to make about 1″ balls. Continue until mixture is gone.

4. You can enjoy at room temperature or let chill for 30 minutes before enjoying.

(Check out the original recipe over on The Lemon Bowl by clicking here.)