Cruciferous Crunch Slaw

Named after a bag of shredded veggies I picked up at Trader Joe’s the other day, this recipe will have you happily munching on these oh-so-good-for you super foods and going back for more. The pre-bagged shredded stuff makes it quicker, but if you don’t have a Trader Joe’s handy or you prefer the therapeutic undertaking of shredding or thinly slicing your own veggies (it’s definitely relaxation therapy for me!), go for it. Some dried cranberries are added for a sweet-tart component and some toasted almonds for crunch. Topped with a lime-tinged vinaigrette spiced up with a little sriracha, you’ve got yourself one amazing salad!

For a filling and gluten-free meal, pair the salad with these Porcini-Crusted Red & Black Bean Cakes, substituting a simple guacamole like this one for the sauces. With avocados on sale this week at the grocery store for shockingly low price of 3 for 99 cents, I stocked up and have been making small batches of guac all week—it’s great on anything!

Cruciferous Crunch Slaw

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
¼ teaspoon sea salt
Pinch or two of cumin
A squirt of sriracha
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

One bag Trader Joe’s Cruciferous Crunch veggie mix, or
Kale, thinly sliced
Brussels sprouts, shredded
Broccoli stems, cut into thin matchsticks
Green cabbage, shredded
Red cabbage, shredded

A big handful or two of dried cranberries or golden raisins
A handful of unsalted silvered almonds, toasted
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a small bowl, mix together lime juice, rice vinegar, honey, salt, cumin, and sriracha until combined. Slowly whisk in the olive oil until fully emulsified. Set aside.

In large bowl, combine veggies and dried cranberries. Drizzle with some of the dressing and toss (or just massage the dressing into the veggies with your hands—really the best way to do it!). Let stand for 5 minutes to allow the dressing to slightly soften the veggies. Add the almonds, freshly ground black pepper, and the rest of the dressing and toss again. Makes about 4-6 servings, depending on how hungry you are. Enjoy!
Bowl of slaw



Spring Quinoa Salad

Quinoa Salad
Here in Minnesota, we’re emerging from the coldest winter in about 30 years. Temperatures are slowly warming, a lot of that hip-deep snow has melted and ducks and geese are returning to our still-frozen, but gradually thawing, pond. So understandably, we’re experiencing an epidemic of spring fever and I have not been spared!

Pastels and Easter décor are taking over the house, freshly-pedicured feet long for open toes, the liner has been removed from my trench-coat, I’m itching to hike or trail run, and I’ve got the urge to create light, bright meals full of color and crunch.

This resulting recipe is full of vibrant hued veggies, made light by slicing paper thin, combined with a burst of strawberry and fresh mint and served over substantial, yet delicate quinoa. A honey-kissed balsamic vinaigrette and shaved parmesan top off this eye-pleasing dish that makes a satisfying full meal. Enjoy! And happy spring!

Spring Quinoa Salad

1 cup uncooked traditional or red quinoa
2 cups water or vegetable stock
½ teaspoon salt (if using water)

1 small zucchini, sliced paper thin
1 small yellow squash, sliced paper thin
2 medium carrots, sliced paper thin
3-4 radishes, sliced paper thin
4 Brussels sprouts, shredded
4 medium ripe strawberries, sliced thin
A handful of pea shoots, chopped
¼ cup chopped herbs (I used mint, Italian parsley, and tarragon—heavy on the mint)
Salt, to taste

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Good quality parmesan cheese, shaved thin (optional)

Rinse and drain quinoa. Place drained quinoa in a medium saucepan. Add water or stock, and salt (if using water). Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes until liquid is absorbed. Fluff with a fork. Set aside to cool to room temperature.

Using a mandolin if you have one (or your best sharp knife, if you don’t), slice zucchini, yellow squash, carrots, and radishes into paper thin slices. Place in a medium bowl. Add the shredded Brussels sprouts, strawberries, pea shoots, and chopped herbs. Toss. Sprinkle with salt and toss again.
Sliced veggies

To make vinaigrette, combine olive oil, balsamic vinegar, Dijon, honey, salt, and pepper in a small jar and shake until combined.

To serve, spoon quinoa onto serving plates, top with vegetable mixture. Drizzle with vinaigrette and sprinkle with shaved parmesan. Makes about 4 servings.

Portabella Piccata

Piccata Plated2
Last week my online newspaper skimming led me to a recipe I couldn’t get out of my mind, even though it wasn’t vegetarian. This happens frequently–a dish makes my mouth water while my brain goes into conversion mode, mulling over ways to make it meatless. Such was the case with this recipe from the fabulous Sarah and Tony Nasello of Sarello’s Restaurant in Moorhead, MN.

At first I was thinking of using mock duck in place of the pork. Then I thought maybe tofu, but ultimately settled on the meaty portabella. I made the right choice. Both Pete and I declared this absolutely delicious and definitely blog-worthy. Because we were starving, I served it over whole-wheat spaghetti, but for a lighter dish, you could top cooked greens such as kale with this tasty concoction. And I bet it would be great over baked or mashed potatoes too. Enjoy!

Portabella Piccata

4 portabella mushrooms, stems removed and gills scraped off with a spoon
Half to ¾ cup unbleached all-purpose flour (or your favorite gluten-free flour), seasoned with salt and pepper
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
4 tablespoons butter or non-hydrogenated margarine (like Earth Balance), divided
1/4 cup minced shallot
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup vegetable stock
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons capers, drained
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Chopped flat-leaf parsley

If your mushrooms are thick, slice them horizontally to create thinner mushroom slices. Place seasoned flour in a large zip-lock bag. Sprinkle half of the mushrooms with a little bit of water and put them in the zip-lock bag, seal, and shake until mushrooms are coated with flour.

Heat one tablespoon oil and one tablespoon butter or margarine in a cast iron or sauté pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add dredged mushrooms. Cook three minutes, then turn with tongs and cook three more minutes. Remove to a plate and repeat process with remaining mushrooms.

After the second batch of mushrooms is out of the pan, reduce heat to medium and add another tablespoon of olive oil and of butter. When hot, add garlic and shallots and cook about 30 seconds, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen those yummy brown bits left by the mushrooms. Carefully pour in stock, wine, lemon juice, and sugar. Whisk to combine. Bring to a simmer and cook until it’s reduced by about half. If the sauce doesn’t thicken up enough, sprinkle a little of the leftover flour mixture over sauce and whisk to combine. When sauce is thick, return cooked mushrooms to the pan and reduce heat to low. Add the capers and last tablespoon of butter, stirring until the butter melts and is mixed in. Taste and season with salt & pepper.

Serve over whole wheat pasta, cooked greens (like kale or spinach), or potatoes, either baked or mashed, or whatever strikes your fancy. Sprinkle with parsley. Serves 2-4.
Piccata Plated

Chocolate Stout Cupcakes with Creamy Irish Whiskey Frosting

Cupcakes top
With St. Patrick’s Day falling on a Monday this year, most of the hard-core celebrating will probably take place this weekend. You know, the pub crawls, green beer drinking, Irish coffee breakfasts, Jameson samplings, etc. But here’s a treat full o’Irishness that is totally Monday-appropriate!

I came across this recipe a couple years ago after I had just purchased Chloe’s Kitchen, Cupcake Wars winner Chloe Coscarelli’s vegan cookbook (yes, competing against non-vegan cupcakes, hers won!). The cookbook led me to the author’s website, which includes more recipes. Vegan cupcakes with vegan frosting intrigued me, and this boozy Irish version was so fitting being it was mid-March. They were so good I was blown away, and making a batch or two has become a St. Patrick’s Day tradition. Enjoy! And may the luck of the Irish be with you!

Chocolate Stout Cupcakes with Creamy Irish Whiskey Frosting

Recipe courtesy of Chloe Coscarelli
Cupcake row
1 ½ cups unbleached all-purpose flour (or gluten-free flour of choice plus ¾ teaspoon xanthan gum)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (plus more for dusting frosted cupcakes)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup stout beer, open and allow to go flat before use
½ cup canola or grape seed oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two 6-cup or 1 12-cup cupcake pan with cupcake liners.

In large bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together stout, oil, vinegar, and vanilla. Pour the wet mixture into the dry and stir just until mixed and flour is thoroughly incorporated—do not over mix batter.

Fill cupcake liners about two-thirds full with batter. Bake for 16-18 minutes (rotate pan halfway through for even baking) or until toothpick inserted in center of a cupcake comes out with only a few crumbs adhering to it. Place pan on cooling rack and cool cupcakes in pan for 10 minutes. Then remove from pan and cool completely on rack.

1 cup non-hydrogenated shortening (Spectrum Organic works great and its production is sustainable and ethical)
3 cups powdered sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2-4 tablespoons non-dairy milk of choice (I used almond milk)
1+ tablespoon Irish whiskey (I used Jameson)

With a hand-held or stand mixer, beat shortening until smooth. Mix in powdered sugar, vanilla and two tablespoons nondairy milk. Add a tablespoon of whiskey, and mix some more. Add a little more milk and/or whiskey until spreadable consistency. Then beat on high for 2 minutes until frosting is light and fluffy.

1 cup packed brown sugar
¼ cup vegan, non-hydrogenated margarine
4 teaspoons non-dairy milk of choice

In small saucepan, over medium heat, heat brown sugar, margarine, and nondairy milk, stirring frequently. Once mixture comes together, increase heat to medium-high and let cook for one to two more minutes, until it begins to boil and the bubbles move into the center of the caramel. Remove from heat. Let cool slightly before drizzling, but don’t let it cool too long or it will start to stiffen and you won’t be able to drizzle it.

To assemble cupcakes, frost cooled cupcakes and dust with a little cocoa powder. Let frosting set at least an hour before making and drizzling the caramel. Drizzle warm caramel over cupcakes using a fork or a squeeze tube. Makes one dozen cupcakes.

Chocolate Chambord Mousse Parfaits (vegan!)

Thanks to my dear friends, another crazy and wonderful girls’ night dinner party is in the books. We ate and drank and talked and laughed the evening away. So much fun—we really need to do this more often!

After hearing about carb-free Fridays from Lori and Dawn’s Paleo diet, I decided to gear our menu in that direction. A white bean dip, spiced up with a little sriracha, was served with matchstick veggies as a starter with glasses of an outstanding Conundrum 2011 red blend (thank you Lori!). Then it was a pizza and salad dinner consisting of this kale salad, minus the farro, and several different pizzas made with this cauliflower crust I blogged about recently. Dawn was in heaven—it’s been so long since she’s had pizza! Who knew pizza could be paleo!?!

But the biggest hit of the evening was dessert, a vegan chocolate mousse, spiked with Chambord and made into pretty parfaits with some fresh berries and coconut whipped cream. When something tastes this rich and creamy and provides the antioxidants of dark chocolate, super foods berries and avocado, plus the health benefits of coconut, why on earth would you ever want the traditional version loaded with saturated fat? The mousse is adapted from this Giada de Laurentiis recipe that will have you wondering why you don’t use avocados in dessert all the time! Enjoy!
Parfaits 3

Chocolate Chambord Mousse Parfaits (vegan!)

½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used Guittard, but any good quality brand works)
3 medium (about 8 oz. each) ripe avocados, peeled and pitted
½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/3 cup agave
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
1/3 cup Chambord (or use almond milk for an alcohol-free version)
Coconut whipped cream (recipe follows)
Berries (I used organic blueberries and raspberries, but strawberries would be good too)
Fresh mint (for garnish)

Melt the chocolate chips and let cool slightly. Place melted chocolate, avocados, cocoa, agave, vanilla, salt and Chambord in food processor and process until thoroughly mixed. Scrape down the sides and process again, making sure all the avocado is completely incorporated and your mixture is totally smooth. Transfer to a container and refrigerate for several hours or until the next day.

Coconut Whipped Cream
1 can full fat coconut milk, chilled overnight
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

Chill a bowl and beaters in the freezer. Open the can of coconut milk, being careful not to shake it up. Spoon only the solids that have formed on the top into the chilled bowl. Don’t use any of the coconut water, just the solids, or the cream will be soupy. With mixer, beat coconut milk solids until the consistency of whipped cream. Add sugar and vanilla and beat a little longer. Chill for several hours or until the next day.

To assemble, place some berries on the bottom of parfait glasses, wine or water goblets. Spoon in a chocolate mousse layer, followed by a coconut whipped cream layer. Repeat, finishing with extra berries on top. Garnish with a sprig of mint. Makes about 4-6 servings, depending on the size of your glasses. Indulge!

Parfaits 2

Cauliflower Crust Pizza

Pizza sliced
I love pizza! For its comfort, for its versatility, for its downright deliciousness and its ability to pretty much make everyone happy by a tweak of the toppings. Quite a few variations are in my pizza repertoire, but almost all of them have been built upon a whole wheat crust. Till now.

My dear Swedish “niece” Sarah shared a recipe on Facebook the other day from a blog called The Iron You. Intrigued by the title, I poked around the blog and found a bunch of mostly vegetarian recipes, many vegan, and lots of them gluten-free. Other terms listed next to recipe titles were Paleo (which I’ve heard of) and Primal (which I have not). A paleo, gluten-free pizza with a crust made from cauliflower just had to be made.

I deviated little from the crust part of the recipe (but did bake it on a stone instead of a baking sheet), and changed up the toppings, but since everyone has their favorites in that regard, the real takeaway is the crust. Very thin, crispy and beautiful, I think it will stand up best when lightly topped, and you’ll feel so good inside knowing that funny looking, but oh so healthy vegetable you probably turned your nose up to as a kid, is the star of the show!
Cauliflower CrustPizza

Cauliflower Crust Pizza

1 head cauliflower
1 egg, lightly beaten
½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
½ teaspoon fine grain sea salt
½ teaspoon oregano
Freshly ground black pepper

Pizza sauce (homemade or good quality store-bought)
½  of a medium onion, finely chopped
½ of a medium green bell pepper, finely chopped
½ cup shredded parmesan cheese
A sprinkling of pizza seasoning
Crushed red pepper, to taste

Place a pizza stone on middle oven rack and preheat oven to 450 degrees F.

Remove leaves and core from head of cauliflower and roughly chop into like sized pieces. In batches, process in food processor until the consistency of rice. Put cauliflower “rice” in a microwave safe, non-plastic container and microwave uncovered for 8-10 minutes, until cooked.

Dump cooked cauliflower onto a clean tea towel. Spread it out a bit and let cool for a few minutes. Bring corners of towel together and twist it to squeeze the moisture from the cauliflower. There will be a lot of water to squeeze out. And when you think you’ve squeezed it all out, squeeze some more. If you don’t get enough of the moisture out, you won’t end up with a crispy crust. Once the cauliflower has all the liquid squeezed out, transfer it to a bowl and mix in the egg, mozzarella, salt, oregano and pepper.

Lightly oil a sheet of parchment paper. Place cauliflower mixture onto parchment and press it into a very thin 10-12” round. Carefully transfer to the pizza stone and bake for 15 minutes, turning once half-way through baking time for even browning.

Remove from oven and let cool for 5 minutes. Add toppings, except for crushed red pepper flakes. Bake 5-7 more minutes, until cheese is melted and crust is nicely browned. Remove from oven, sprinkle with red pepper flakes and cut into wedges. Makes 2-3 servings. Enjoy!

Vegetarian Borscht

In honor of the warm, friendly, and mostly snafu-free atmosphere it appears the Russians have delivered as Olympic host country, how about a batch of borscht?

Pete and I have been having so much fun watching these world class athletes throw their hearts and souls into competition and giving us thrills, chills, exhilaration, joy, and in some cases disappointment (never in the athletes, just some of the results). From the beauty of the opening ceremony, through the excitement of competition and the personal stories, the games have brought so much enjoyment, we’re sad to see them coming to an end with the closing ceremony tonight.

The skiing has especially entranced us. Near and dear to our hearts have been the cross country races, (we both got our first skinny skis when we were 12 and love the sport, with Pete still competing in Vasaloppet USA). And the amazing downhill events: super G, giant slalom, ski-cross. Also the different snowboarding events, sliding sports, hockey (yes, it still hurts), speed skating, figure skating and curling, it’s all been such a delight to experience from afar.

We’ve also recently had the excitement of the biggest snowstorm of this winter, so a soup is especially appropriate. And the stunning color of borscht is a beautiful backdrop to our snow-white landscape.
No matter how old I get, I still get giddy over the prospect of a good old-fashion blizzard, and this latest storm didn’t disappoint, although it has made driving extremely slow and stressful, even a couple days after the snow ended and the sun came out. Oh well, spring is less than a month away, and we’ve got borscht to warm us when we come inside. That, and maybe a shot or two of vodka! Vashe zdorovie!

Pulled together after reading a few recipes (including this and this) borscht is a hearty, filling soup that only needs some crusty whole-grain bread on the side for a complete meal. Enjoy!
Shredded beets and carrotsSachet


2 medium onions, chopped

3 cloves garlic, chopped

3 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 cups shredded green cabbage

4 medium beets, grated (either on a box grater or in a food processor)

2 large carrots, grated (either on a box grater or in a food processor)

3 medium unpeeled russet potatoes, cut in bite-size chunks

3 ripe tomatoes chopped (can use good quality canned if tomatoes aren’t in season)

8 cups water

3 cubes good quality vegetable bouillon

¼ cup apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

3 bay leaves

4 whole cloves

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Chopped fresh dill
Lemon wedges
Plain yogurt, sour cream, or vegan sour cream

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large stockpot. Add the onion and garlic and cook for several minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the cabbage, beets, carrot, and potato. Continue to cook for several more minutes, stirring once or twice.

While the veggies are cooking, cut a square of cheesecloth and place the bay leaves and whole cloves in the center. Bring the corners together and tie with kitchen twine or string, making a sachet or bouquet garni. Set aside.

To the stockpot, add the tomatoes, water, bouillon, vinegar, sugar, and salt & pepper to taste. Stir it all up and then place the sachet or bouquet garni into the soup and give it another stir. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about an hour, stirring every once in a while. Remove the sachet from soup before serving.

To serve, ladle the hot borscht into bowls. Squeeze a little lemon over soup, top with a dollop of yogurt or sour cream, and sprinkle with lots of chopped dill. Serve with crusty whole-grain bread for a full meal. Makes about 8 servings.

Bowl of Borscht