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Archive for the ‘Comfort Food’ Category


Fricasse de Seitan

Fricasse de Seitan

Recently I discovered a new dish – Cuban Fricase de Pollo. It is an ideal Sunday dinner dish because it takes a bit more time and effort to make than you might want to spend on a weeknight and it also provides great leftovers for a lunch or two during the week. And it is absolutely delicious and 100% worth the effort. The mixture of sweet and savory in this dish make every forkful a treat. Nutritious too. I substitute seitan for the chicken, and it works superb. Here is my vegan version of this oh so tasty Cuban dish:

Cuban Fricase de Seitan (Cuban-style stew)

¼ cup lime juice
¼ cup orange juice
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 8 oz. package of seitan strips
1 green pepper, thinly sliced (stem and seeds removed)
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
2/3 cup white wine
1/3 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
2 yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1” pieces (peel optional)
1/3 cup pimento-stuffed green olives
2 tbsp. capers plus 1 tsp. caper juice from jar
¼ cup raisins
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 tsp. Hungarian paprika
1 tsp. dried parsley
1 tsp. cilantro
Salt & pepper
Extra virgin olive oil

Fricasse de Seitan with white rice

Awesome Cuban stew. Works well with white rice.

1) Mix together the lime juice, orange juice, garlic and ground black pepper. Add the seitan strips. Let sit in marinade for about 30 minutes.
2) Meanwhile, sauté the onion in olive oil in a deep skillet on medium high heat for about 5 minutes. Add the green pepper and sauté another 5-10 minutes.
3) Remove pepper and onion from skillet. Add diced potatoes and more olive oil. Stir fry about 10 minutes until potatoes are fork tender. Add the seitan and stir fry with the potatoes a few minutes. Add more oil if, needed. Add in all of the remaining marinade.
4) Then add all of the remaining ingredients and stir together, including the pepper and onion and all spices. Add a little water if needed. Bring to a quick boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer about 10 minutes so flavors can meld together.
5) Traditionally served with white rice.

Makes four main-dish servings.

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Delicious Stuffed Pepper

Delicious Stuffed Pepper

These peppers are a little labor-intensive, but worth the effort! So delicious and good-for-you, filled with so many healthy ingredients: brown rice, fresh corn, black beans and tomatoes. Not to mention the peppers themselves. Also, you can make them the night before if you are having friends over for dinner. They also make great leftovers.

Stuffed Peppers, Southwestern-style

3 large bell peppers (your choice of color), stems and seeds removed, and cut in half
2 cups cooked brown rice
1 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 15 oz can whole tomatoes
1 10 oz can Rotel brand diced tomatoes
2 ears corn
½ onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. cilantro
½ tbsp. cumin
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 ½ cup low-fat cheddar cheese or Daiya vegan cheese
Olive oil

1)      Prepare peppers. Place halves in large casserole dish greased with olive oil, with smooth side facing down.

2)      Cook corn in the microwave (each ear should be microwaved about 1 minute 15 seconds). When cool, scrape from cob. A serrated knife works well for this.

3)      In large sauce pan, add a couple tbsp. of olive oil. Heat oil on medium high heat and add chopped onions. Saute until tender. Then add minced garlic, ciliantro, cumin and chili powder.

4)      Add corn and black beans and stir. Remove tomatoes from can and set juice aside. Chop tomatoes and add to the sauce pan. Add 2 tbsp. of the Rotel tomatoes.

5)      Stir in two cups of cooked brown rice and ½ cup cheese or vegan cheese.

6)      Spoon rice mixture into the pepper halves. Mound it up, as needed.

7)      For sauce: Add tomato juice from canned tomatoes, remaining Rotel tomatoes, garlic powder and 1 tbsp. oil oil to medium-sized bowl. Stir together. Pour over peppers.

8)      Cover with foil. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove foil. Sprinkle with remaining cheese and bake for another 20 minutes.

Makes 6 servings. Great leftovers.

Peppers before baking

Peppers before baking

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Corny Corn Bread

Corny Corn Bread

Since it’s summer, it’s easy to find fresh, sweet corn. While making cornbread the other day, I decided to add some fresh corn to it. It really sweetened the bread and made it extra delicious. It’s a simple recipe.

By the way, this bread is made from corn meal, which is a whole grain, so it’s gluten-free. Also, I use unsweetened almond milk and no eggs, so it’s vegan. And did I mention heart-healthy?  You and your family will love it!

Easy Extra Corny Corn Bread          

1 cup corn meal (I use Virginia’s Best)
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
1 tbsp. canola oil
1 tbsp. ground flaxseed whisked with 4 tbsp. water
1 ear of corn

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

1)      Shuck corn. Cook in microwave for 1 minute 10 seconds. Let cool. Scrape corn from cob into a plate.

2)      Mix all ingredients together

3)      Pour into pan that’s approximately 6” X 6”.

4)      Bake in 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes.

5)      Serve with Smart Balance buttery spread.

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Risotto with Brussel Sprouts

Risotto with Brussel Sprouts

The other day, I experimented with ingredients while making a risotto, and it turned out really delicious. I love brussel sprouts and wanted to incorporate them into the risotto. They seemed to pair nicely with the apple and the pistachios.

Risotto makes a delicious vegan main dish. It’s perfect when you want to impress someone (including yourself).

Risotto with Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Apples and Pistachios

3/4 cup Arborio rice
1 ½ cups roasted brussels sprouts, cut into thirds
½ tart apple, peeled and finely chopped
2 tsp. roasted shelled pistachio nuts, halved
2 cups reduced sodium vegetable broth
¾ cup white wine
2 tablespoon fresh rosemary
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
½ tsp. parsley
¼ tsp. ground black pepper
½ yellow onion, chopped
3 shallots, peeled and chopped
Olive oil

1) Place 1-2 tbsp of olive oil in deep sauce pan on medium-high heat. Add chopped onions and sauté about 5 minutes. Add chopped shallot and sauté another 5 minutes.
2) Add all spices and apples. Saute another 5 minutes.
3) Add rice and ¾ cup vegetable broth. Stir and keep an eye on it until broth absorbed – a few minutes.
4) Add another ¾ cup broth and sauté until broth absorbed.
5) Add ¾ cup white wine and sauté until absorbed.
6) Stir in Brussels sprouts.
7) Add ½ cup vegetable broth and stir until broth absorbed.
8) Stir in pistachio nuts.
Delicious!
Makes 3 main dish servings or 6-7 side servings.

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Enchiladas from a Mexican restaurant can’t compare with these homemade enchiladas. They come out of the oven ooey gooey, but much lower in fat and salt than the restaurant version. And they are also packed with nutritious beans, lycopene-rich tomato sauce and spices. My mom has made this casserole for special occasions for years, and now I’m making it too. Try it once and it might become part of your family’s traditions too.

Mom's Homemade Bean Enchiladas

Mom's Homemade Bean Enchiladas

Mom’s Homemade Bean Enchiladas

2 cans refried beans OR 2 cans pinto beans (mashed)
1 medium onion chopped
2 tsp. Chile powder
1/4 cup grated low-fat cheddar (or Mexican blend) cheese or daiya vegan cheddar
12 flour or whole wheat large tortillas
1/2 lb. grated low-fat cheddar (or Mexican blend) cheese or daiya vegan cheddar

SAUCE FOR ENCHILADAS
2 cups tomato sauce (two 8 oz. cans)
2 cups water
4 tsp. dried minced onions
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp. Chile powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1) Mix the first four ingredients together.

2) Simmer sauce ingredients together.

3) Spoon bean mixture into tortilla shell, add tsp. of sauce, and sprinkle with cheese.

4) Roll tortilla and place each in long baking dish. Pour remaining sauce over rolled tortillas. Sprinkle with remaining grated cheese.

5) Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Serve with chopped tomatoes, lettuce, sour cream, sliced avocado, black olives and/or salsa.

Serves 5 or 6.

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Everyone needs at least a few go-to casserole recipes. A casserole is a whole meal in one dish. It’s the perfect dish to make when you want to prepare something ahead of time to free you to be with your guests. Make it the night before and then bake it right before everyone comes over. Or, of course, you can make a casserole when someone you love needs a meal. Perfect drop-off food for couples with a new baby, new neighbors, or when you want to make a busy friend’s day. Casserole and comfort food are synoymous.

Spaghetti Casserole

Spaghetti Casserole

This spaghetti casserole is super yummy and fairly easy and inexpensive to make. I have made it three times in the last month.

Spaghetti Casserole

1 pound dried spaghetti (most boxes are 1 pound)(you can use brown rice spaghetti if following a gluten free diet) – cooked according to package directions

1 jar of your favorite tomato-based pasta sauce (about 25 oz.)

1 small can of tomato sauce (about 6 oz.)

1 medium-sized yellow onion, chopped

½ green pepper, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

6 – 8 button or cremini mushrooms, chopped or sliced

2/3 cup ground veggie burger

1 tsp. each of basil, oregano, crushed red pepper and parsley

Optional: layer in a small sprinkling of reduced fat mozzarella cheese or daiya Vegan mozzarella cheese between each layer and sprinkle cheese on top, if desired. You won’t miss the cheese though if you leave it out. I’d even go so far as to say, it’s better without the cheese

Olive oil

1)    In large sauce pan, heat 1 or 2 tbsp. of olive oil on medium-high heat. Add chopped onion and sauté about 8 minutes, until tender.

2)    Add chopped green pepper and sauté another 5 minutes. Add veggie burger and stir in with the onion and pepper. Saute a minute or two.

3)    Add garlic and sauté a minute more. Then add mushrooms and sauté a couple of additional minutes. Add more olive oil, as needed.

4)    Pour in tomato sauce and pasta sauce. Add all spices. Stir and simmer about 10 minutes.

5)    Grease a large, deep casserole dish with olive oil. Ladle enough sauce into the bottom of the dish to cover the bottom. Add a layer of spaghetti, and then another layer of sauce.

6)    Repeat layering 3 or 4 times until you have used all of your ingredients.

7)    Cover with foil and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 20 minutes.

Serves 6-8 people. Reheat leftovers in microwave. Makes good leftovers.

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As a housewife in the 1960s and 1970s, my mom embraced Bisquick and all of the other modern shortcuts to a good suburban meal. So, until today, it did not occur to me to try to make biscuits from scratch. I figured they would be too time-consuming, difficult or fattening.

Inspired by a delicious-looking blog entry at the Amateur Gourmet , I decided to try to make some biscuits.

Of course, being a health nut and vegan-ish, I had to change his recipe around to make it “lighter” and vegan, but even without the butter and buttermilk, these biscuits were darn good! More than darn good. Especially with honey and apple butter. Yum!  And I’ll add that they only took minutes to prepare (that’s why I call them “lazy” – they were just too easy!)

Lazy Vegan Biscuits

Lazy Vegan Biscuits

Lazy Vegan Biscuits

1/2 cup white flour
1/2 cup white whole wheat flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
2 tbsp. Smart Balance
3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk

Lazy Biscuits Turned out Good!

1) Mix together dry ingredients.

2) Melt Smart Balance in the microwave and add to the dry ingredients.

3) Gradually stir in the unsweetened almond milk. (You may need to add another tbsp. of flour if it looks too wet).

4) Spray a cake pan with non-stick cooking spray. Drop the biscuits by big spoonfuls into the pan.

5) Bake at 500 degrees for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to 450 degrees and bake another 10-15 minutes (check after 10 minutes).

6) Try with apple butter or honey. Yum!

Makes 5 good-sized biscuits.

Biscuit with Honey

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