Rainbow Baked Potatoes

rainbow-baked-potatoes-vegan-high-carb-lifestyle-st-patricks-day-potato-easy-vegan-cheap

Rainbow baked potatoes are a comforting, colorful dish that’s easy to fall in love with. Kale, beets, and carrots bring an extra dose of veggies and vibrance to this dinnertime classic.

rainbow baked potatoes baked potatoes vegan healthy baked potatoes high carb lifestyle meals

A few weeks ago, I went out to dinner with some beloved folks. I usually do  bit of restaurant recon before dining out, but it was an impromptu meal. As it turned out, the only thing on the menu that I could have was a plain baked potato. I thought I didn’t like baked potatoes, so I figured I could just eat when I got home. After all, I was there for the people, not the food.

My mother, sitting next to me, hissed that I was being rude and insisted that I order the potato.

Don’t you just hate it when your mother is right? It was the most amazing baked potato ever.  The outside was an oily dark crust, flecked with coarse salt. The inside was filled with pillows of butter-soft carbs, all but melting beneath my fork. Mercy.

rainbow baked potatoes baked potatoes vegan healthy baked potatoes high carb lifestyle meals

 

I guess I like baked potatoes after all. Who knew? (ahem, they whole world, Annie. The whole world knew of the classic awesomeness of the baked potato)

After that meal, I tried to remember why I thought I didn’t like the tuber in its foil-wrapped form. The only answer I could come up with it that I have an occasional aversion to foods with uniform textures and flavors. And the baked potato can sometimes fall into this category. But not this dish.

rainbow baked potatoes baked potatoes vegan healthy baked potatoes high carb lifestyle meals

It’s bright and colorful. The outsides are delicately crisp; the insides fluffy and steamy. The moods change from bite to bite — sweet carrots, bright grassy kale, deep earthy beets.

One of the reasons that baked potatoes are so popular is their reliable thriftiness, and this pied meal is no different. You’re just having your veggies in the potato instead of on the side. I mean, there’s nothing stopping you from having them on the side as well, you veggie-freaks, you.  ❤️

rainbow baked potatoes baked potatoes vegan healthy baked potatoes high carb lifestyle meals

 

Rainbow Baked Potatoes

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 4

Ingredients

  • 4 large russet potatoes
  • 1/2 cup unflavored almond milk
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 medium beet, or two smaller beets (about 6 oz)
  • 3 cups packed kale
  • 2 cloves roasted garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • about 3-4 springs of thyme
  • coconut oil, optional

Instructions

  1. Wrap each potato in a wet paper towel. Put them all in the microwave and nuke on high for 10 minutes. You can tell they're done when a fork pierces effortlessly through the flesh. Some older microwaves will take more than 10 minutes, some newer models will take less than ten minutes.
  2. Throw the potatoes in the freezer for about 5 to cool them down quickly, so you can handle them without burning yourself.
  3. Preheat oven to 400.
  4. Cut each potato in half and scoop out the soft middles, and lay the potato skins out on a large baking dish. Optional-- oil the baking dish with melted coconut oil
  5. Blend the middles with the milk and garlic till smooth, add salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the thyme
  6. Mentally divide the potato puree into 4 parts.
  7. Scoop one of the parts into a piping bag and randomly pipe into the skins.
  8. Take the second part and throw it in a blender with the carrots.
  9. Repeat step 7 with the carrot-potato mix
  10. Take the third part of the puree and throw it in a blender with the beets.
  11. Repeat step 7 with the beet-potato mix
  12. Take the last part of the potato puree and toss it in a blender with the kale.
  13. Repeat step 7 with the kale-potato mix.
  14. Sprinkle a little more thyme over top, and brush tops of potatoes with melted coconut oil if desired.
  15. Bake for 18-20 minutes, until puffed and crispy.
  16. Serve with love.

Notes

*I got my roasted garlic recipe from Real Simple. It doesn't taste quite as mild as long roasted garlic, but it's still good and only takes about ten minutes. What you do is, chop off the top of the head so that all the cloves are somewhat exposed. Put in in a bowl with olive oil and two tbsp water. Cover it with plastic wrap, and microwave for 7 minutes on 50% power. Leave the plastic wrap on for about three more minutes and then you're good to go. you can make batches of this and keep the cloves in the fridge in the oil they were cooked in, so they are ready for use whenever.

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Kitchen & Craft: Spicy Broccoli Butternut Bowls & Produce Garland

vegan thai healthy thai vegan thai sauce peanut sauce tahini

paper garland how to

Hi guys! How were your weekends? Mine was freezin’ (duh), but productive.

The productivity stemmed from a running injury I sustained on New Year’s Eve. I twisted my ankle and fell. It hurt, but since I was able to finish the rest of my planned miles, I figured it couldn’t be that bad. I was wrong. I woke up on January 1st with it all swollen and purple, the styloid of the fibula completely hidden beneath puffy flesh. Since that day, I’ve had to keep my runs short because it hasn’t completely healed. It sucks, but the upside is that I have more time to do other things.

paper garland

 

I’m kicking off two new blog projects this week. The first one is Kitchen & Craft, where I’ll feature a simple handicraft paired with an easy recipe. To be honest, I’m not sure how regularly I’m going to do these, because I enjoy cooking far more than I enjoy crafting. Right now, I’m aiming for once a month. We’ll see.

I’ll announce the second project on Friday. 🙂

This simple paper garland, and ode to produce, was inspired by Nepalese Lokta paper garlands. I needed to hang up something bright and festive after we took down our Christmas tree, just to bring a little warmth to winter.

This project couldn’t have been simpler. I had some colored paper that my mom had given me for Lord knows what reason. All I did was draw up some shapes, cut them out, and hot glue them to embroidery floss. I detail it all below, and I’ve provided a link to the pattern I made of all the veggies. paper garland

The spicy veggie dish was also Asian inspied, Thailand this time. When we lived in Raleigh, Jason always wanted to go to this Thai place at Briar Creek. I liked it, but not as much as he did. I always felt too heavy and bloated afterwards, all those salty carbs.

I took some traditional Thai flavors and paired them with spicy broccoli, lime rice, and butternut noodles. The result is comforting but not overbearing, and you can skip the rice if you want to lighten it up even more.

spicy thai peanut sauce thai sauce vegan thai sauce no fish veggie bowl

I adapted the spicy sauce from a Brussels spout recipe I made last year, simply switching out the original peanut butter for some tahini. If you don’t have tahini on hand, peanut butter will certainly do. Like my last post, this dish is totally budget friendly.

I’m going to try to keep my future crafts pocket-friendly as well. I have  list of things I plan to make, but it’s sort of incomplete, so if there’s anything you’d like to learn how to do, let me know in the comments and I’ll try to make it happen.

easy thai sauce vegan thai sauce thai sauce no fish thai noodle bowl

Spicy Broccoli Butternut Bowls

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 12 minutes

Yield: 2 hearty servings

Ingredients

  • a 1-1/4 lb butternut squash
  • 2 big heads of broccoli
  • 2 cups cooked Jasmine rice
  • 1 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 tbsp lime zest
  • salt to taste
  • spicy sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup tanini
  • 2 tbsp sriracha
  • 1.5 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 3 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400
  2. Chop the broccoli up into florets and spiralize the squash on the largest noodle setting.
  3. Slice the broccoli florets into 2-3 pieces, lengthwise
  4. Spread the broccoli and the noodles out on two separate baking sheets
  5. Sprinkle the broccoli with the crushed red pepper and the nutritional yeast. Add a sprinkle of salt.
  6. Place the broccoli on one oven rack and the noodles on another. The broccoli should bake for 12 minutes, and the noodles for 8 minutes.
  7. While the veggies are cooking, fluff the lime zest into the rice.
  8. For the sauce, combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir till combined. It helps if the water is a little warm.
  9. To serve, veggies and rice among the plates and drizzle with sauce.Enjoy.
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For the produce garland:

You’ll need two 5’6″ strands of embroidery floss. You can use one color or two. I used white and red, only because that’s what I already had. Twirl them together.

Here is the pattern printout for the veggies. Cut five of each, and cut ten of the beet greens. Use a glue stick to affix the greens to the veggies, and a hot glue gun to affix the veggies to the embroidery floss. Due to the greens, the beets will be top heavy and will flip upside down. Hot-glue a small weight (like a penny or bottle cap) to the bottom of each beet to keep them upright.

penny

Hang them up and enjoy!

Savory Oats with Turmeric Roasted Carrots, Kale, and Cranberry Ketchup

savory-oats-kale-cranberry-ketchup-turmeric-carrots-vegan-vegan

Savory oats are a satisfying and pocket-friendly dinner. These get an extra dose of veggies from kale and turmeric-roasted carrots.

savory oats turmeric carrots kale cranberry ketchup vegan

Jason and I spent the holidays at my mother’s home in Delaware. The cat protested during the long drive over, but once we got there, she was delighted at all the new hiding spaces and places to jump on. It was so cute. Nana’s place is always best, I guess. Jason likes it too because my mom always stashes all kinds of muffins and cookies for him.

A few days after Christmas, we drove out to Cape May on the Jersey shore. My aunt lives there and manages a farm. It had been at least a year since I’d last seen her, and I’d never gotten to see the farm.

There’s a little converted barn on the property that serves as a rotating produce shop, lunch counter, and event space. And of course everything that’s served there comes right out of the earth only a few yards away. On New Year’s, they dropped a huge sparkly egg from the rafters in place of a ball.

savory oats turmeric carrots kale cranberry ketchup vegan

Although the lunch counter was closed when we got there, the chalk-dusty remains of their latest menu were still on display. One item in particular drew my eye ….butternut squash steel cut oats and toasted walnuts.  Does that sound amazing or what? Even though I didn’t get to sample a bowl of the stuff, it became the inspiration for this post. The squash became carrots, and I added some handfuls of kale for some green lovin’. And some cranberry ketchup because I love the color. And taste, obviously.

My favorite part of this dish was the turmeric-roasted carrots. Guys, they were so good. I can’t even begin to tell you how amazing they were. Toasty and spicy, but not overwhelmingly so. Warm. I could eat turmeric-roasted carrots for every meal for the rest of the season. Only, I promised myself that I was going to do other things with veggies besides roast them. So maybe every other meal then?

savory oats turmeric carrots kale cranberry ketchup vegan

I sprinkled sesame seeds over the carrots, which made them nutty and wonderful. If you don’t have sesame seeds in the house, you can totally leave them off because this dish is supposed to be a budget meal. To that end, I used quick oats because that is what I had on hand. You can totally used rolled oats or steel cut, if it pleases you.

Even though the name of this dish is super wordy, it’s quite simple. The ketchup requires very little effort, and roasted veggies are always easy. The cranberry ketchup makes a huge batch, way more than you’ll need for this dish. As is the nature of ketchup, it goes on many things. Just scoop it into jar and keep it in the fridge for whatever.

Hey, one last thing. As you can see, I gave the blogaroo little makeover. Do you like it? Hate it? Any constructive feedback or improvements? Lemme know what you think. Thanks! <3

savory oats turmeric carrots kale cranberry ketchup vegan

Savory Oats with Turmeric Roasted Carrots, Kale, and Cranberry Ketchup

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Yield: 2-3

The carrots and ketchup have similar cooking times and can be made simultaneously.

Ingredients

    cranberry ketchup
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 cups cranberries (one package)
  • 8 dates
  • 2 cups chopped purple onions
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp stone ground mustard
  • salt to taste
  • carrots
  • 1 lb carrots
  • 3-4 tbsp melted coconut oil
  • 1 tsp microplane grated garlic
  • 1 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp coarse kosher salt
  • 3 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds (optional)
  • other
  • 4 cups packed kale
  • 1 cup of quick oats, plus water to cook them in
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

    for the ketchup
  1. Combine the water, the cranberries, the dates, the onions, and the bay leaf in a saucepan. Cover and bring to a boil.
  2. Uncover and cook over medium heat for 15 minutes. Remove bay leaf.
  3. Add the mustard and cider vinegar and stir constantly for 5-7 min, until thickened.
  4. Remove from heat and puree till smooth
  5. for the carrots
  6. Preheat oven to 450
  7. Cut the carrots onto 4-6 pieces lengthwise. Set aside.
  8. Combine the coconut oil tsp, garlic, pepper, turmeric, salt, and lemon juice.
  9. Toss carrots in tumeric mix, coat well.
  10. Lay carrots in a single layer on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.
  11. Sprinkle the sesame seeds over the top.
  12. Roast for 18 minutes.
  13. for the rest
  14. Wilt kale in microwave for 3-4 minutes
  15. Bring 1 1/3 cup water to a boil.Add quick oats and stir till water is absorbed. Add salt and pepper to taste
  16. Divide kale, carrots, and oats among serving bowls. Drizzle cranberry ketchup over top.
  17. Serve with love.
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cranberry ketchup recipe slightly adapted from taste of home

Easy Plantain Veggie Tart

plaintain-crust-vegan-tart-plaintain-bread-plaintain-pizza

Fluffy vegan plantain crust, awesome green sauce, all topped off with greens and goodies. Wow.

easy plantain crust vegan plantain bread veggie tart vegan

It’s been years since I wandered over to the paleo blogs, but last I remember, they were obsessed with plantain bread.

quick aside — my mom pronounces paleo like it rhymes with Scott Baio, even after I explained to her that it was short for paleolithic diet. Oh well. Parents, whatcha gonna do about em.

plantain crust easy vegan pizza plantain bread vegan

Up until recently, I never tried my hand at plantain bread. I did make an awesome pastry out of a similar recipe. Little pastry hearts, filled with cinnamon coconut cream and drizzled with chocolate. That was when I first fell in love with coconut whipped cream. (warning, link leads to vegetarian non-vegan recipe)

But the day I made this, I was hankerin’ for a savory meal.  Good news, folks: you don’t need eggs to make amaaaazing fluffy, oh-so-carb-satisfying plantain bread. Flax to the rescue.

plantain crust easy vegan pizza plantain bread vegan

Really. This almost inch-thick fluffy crust is basically just plantains and flax. This is gonna become a staple in my kitchen. I am going to make a million things with it, I can’t wait.  Due to my wheat allergy, I usually avoid bread completely. I do purchase the occasional Udis, but there are two issues there: One, it’s expensive. Two, it contains egg whites, which is against my goal of slowly transitioning from vegetarian to vegan.

So far, I’ve been vegan all year! ( 😒 😑 😴annie, we’re only three days in. we’re not impressed.)

I know, I know.

plantain crust easy vegan pizza plantain bread vegan

But I think you’ll forgive my paltry transition effort when I tell you about this oh-so-good green sauce. It started out as a drunken salad dressing at my mom’s house over the holidays. Who says booze can only lead to trouble? This sauce is so creamy and tasty, and it tastes super on everything. Salads, toast, tacos, everything. I had it on noodles on Christmas eve, as an alternative to our family’s traditional angel hair and clam sauce. Seriously. Y’all need to make a double batch of this.  I think I’ve made it almost everyday since Christmas eve-eve.

plantain crust easy vegan pizza plantain bread vegan

I topped it all off with spinach and cress and crunchy radishes and tomatoes and pomegranate, aka, what was already in the house. But you can top this with any veggie mix that pleases you. Just make it colorful, because that’s always more fun to eat. And hard to resist.

Easy Plantain Veggie Tart

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Yield: 4 main, 6 side

Ingredients

    crust:
  • about 2 lbs green plantains (4-ish)
  • 2 flax eggs plus 2 tbsp flax meal
  • sprinkle of salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • sauce
  • 1/3 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
  • 2 avocados
  • 1/2 cup fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • heaping cup parsley
  • 1 heaping tsp grated garlic
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • salt to taste
  • topping
  • 2 handfuls of greens (I used spinach and cress)
  • 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 5-6 radishes, sliced
  • handful of pomegranate arils

Instructions

    for the crust
  1. preheat oven to 350
  2. combine the plantains, salt, flax eggs, and flax meal in a blender till smooth.
  3. Stir in the baking powder and baking soda.
  4. Pour mix into parchment-lined 9 x 13 pan.
  5. Bake for 20-25 min, until fork inserted in center comes out clean
  6. for the sauce
  7. Blend all ingredients together till smooth
  8. to assemble
  9. Spread sauce over crust. Add toppings (you can also throw in your own toppings, as desired).
  10. Enjoy
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Veggie Lentil Bowls

Veggie Lentil bowls are simple and delicious. They’re healthy and pocket friendly, and are a great option for a quick vegan dinner

veggie-lentil-bowls-easy-vegan-dinner-cheap-vegan-quick-vegan-dinner

lentil veggie bowls quick vegan dinner healthy cheap vegan dinner ideas easy simple

When I think of the best meals that I’ve had, they are seldom the ones that were hardest to make. Sometimes they weren’t even homemade. Sitting in my Nana’s kitchen with all my cousins, eating piping hot pizza from the closest mom n’ pop place. (I used to love to pick off the cheese and sauce and only eat the bread. I was five years old, no judgement please.💁 😊)

A plate of rice and beans at a friends house, the summer after my first year at college.

Salads that my mom threw together out of whatever was in the pantry and fridge.

lentil veggie bowls quick vegan dinner healthy cheap vegan dinner ideas easy simple

Grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup. That was a good one. Jason and I had gone out kayaking on the Neuse outside of Raleigh. We’d gotten a late start and we’d also forgotten that Daylight Savings Time had just ended. Dark fell and we had no flashlights, so we tried to make our way the best we could in the fading light. By the time we were done, we were wet and starving. Since there was no food in the house, Jason swung by the gas station to get a loaf of bread and processed cheese and canned soup.  The meal was hot and buttery and filling, and I remember feeling an odd, delirious joy as we ate.

lentil veggie bowls quick vegan dinner healthy cheap vegan dinner ideas easy simple

This dish is like all those meals. Simple, comforting, quick.

Unlike most of those meals, this baby is super healthy. I made this at Jason’s request — I didn’t know he liked lentils. It’s always nice to find out little things you didn’t know about your spouse. Well, almost always. But don’t worry, babe. I’d still love you even if you told me you used to do drag shows in Tulsa…..

lentil veggie bowls quick vegan dinner healthy cheap vegan dinner ideas easy simple

…..whoops. I got distracted there. Anyways, as I was saying. I made these at Jason’s request quite awhile ago, but I wanted to save it for the new year. Lentils are a popular new year food, and I feel like this dish covers a lot of resolution bases. It’s economical, which is good if your goal is to save money. It’s healthy but filling, which is good for those seeking a cleaner diet. And it comes together quickly, for those who vowed to spend more time with the people they care about. And what better way to spend time with your loved ones than sharing a warm meal?

Happy New Year, all. Let’s make this one count. <3

lentil veggie bowls quick vegan dinner healthy cheap vegan dinner ideas easy simple

 

Veggie Lentil Bowls

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Yield: 4

Salting lentils prior cooking makes them tough, so make sure to use unsalted broth there. You can also substitute 2 tbsp nutritional yeast plus 4 cups of water.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup lentils
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled and chopped into large chunks
  • 4-5 cups of medium-packed kale, chopped/shredded
  • 2 cups shredded purple cabbage
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 tsp crushed or grated garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sliced japapeno
  • 4 cups of unsalted veggie broth
  • salt to taste

Instructions

  1. Place lentils, carrots, cabbage, onion, garlic, bay leaf, and jalapeno in a wide and deep skillet. Cover with broth.
  2. Place lid over skillet and place over medium heat.
  3. Cook, stirring occasionally for 25-30 minutes.
  4. Add kale.
  5. Cook for an additional 4-5 minutes.
  6. Add salt to taste.
  7. Serve with love, and side of avocado and tortilla chips.
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Garlicky Millet Cakes with Sweet Potato Adobo Sauce and Peas

These rustic millet cakes are warm and filling. Paired with sweet peas and a rich and spicy sauce, they make a wonderful winter meal.

easy millet cakes garlicky millet cakes

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I cooked of course, but I also goofed around with my nieces and nephews and relaxed a lot.   I was really nervous that the T-word was gonna come up (the one that rhymes with chump), but nobody even mentioned it.  😌

Now that Thanksgiving is over, I can start in on the Christmasy goodies. I’m so happy to start it out with this humble dish. It’s homey and warm, just like the holidays should be. Comforting.

At the outset, the simplicity of this dish is deceiving. But the flavors and textures at play here are not to be undermined. The cakes are flaky and crispy on the outside, and fluffy and soft on the inside. And the sauce. It’s hearty but not cloyingly so, with a spiciness that compliments the gentle notes of the millet cakes. The sweet little peas are nestled in all of it, like bright little Christmas balls.

Easy Millet Cakes Garlicky Millet Cakes

You start out with making millet porridge. Literally just water and millet, like you were making oatmeal or polenta. When the porridge gets big and fluffy, pour it into a baking dish to set. Pour some nice olive oil on a cookie sheet and let the oven get good and hot. Then cut out the cakes with a biscuit cutter and bake them up all warm and crispy. The sauce is a breeze, three ingredients and very little work. Spoon it into a bowl with the golden cakes and sprinkle a generous hand of peas over top.  Serve it with a nice jammy red wine, and plenty of love.

easy millet cakes garlicky millet cakes

P.S. On Monday I’m starting a 4 part mini-blog series that I’m kind of excited about. Be sure to swing by and check it out!

Garlicky Millet Cakes with Sweet Potato Adobo Sauce and Peas

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Yield: 2 main or 4 side

Ingredients

  • 1 cup millet
  • 4 cups water
  • hefty pinch of salt, plus more to taste
  • 2 medium cloves of microplane grated garlic
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • good quality olive oil
  • 2 cups frozen peas
  • 3/4 cup cooked sweet potato
  • 2 cups crushed tomato
  • 1 1/2 tbsp canned adobo pepper

Instructions

  1. Pour the millet in a big flat pan set over medium heat. Shake the pan back and forth over the burner so that the millet gets a little dark and toasty, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the millet to a big pot along with the water and salt. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to low. Stir very occasionally. Continue to cook for 25 minutes. If water is not absorbed at the end of cooking, raise the heat and stir until the porridge is good and thick, and all water is gone.
  3. Add the pepper and the garlic to the millet.
  4. Pour millet into a large baking pan. Spread it out so that it's 3/4 inch thick. Allow to cool completely.
  5. Preheat oven to 450. Pour a nice layer of olive oil over a foil-lined baking sheet.
  6. Using a round cookie cutter or biscuit cutter (approx 2.5 inch diameter), cut out millet cakes. You should get about 16-18.
  7. Place the cakes on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, flip, and then bake for 10 more minutes.
  8. While the cakes are baking, make the sauce. Use a food processor to blend up the crushed tomatoes, the adobo pepper, and the sweet potato. Move the sauce to a pan and heat, adding salt if needed.
  9. Defrost the peas.
  10. Divide the sauce, the peas, and the cakes among plates. Serve.
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garlicky-millet-cakes-with-sweet-potato-adobo-sauce-vegan-gluten-free

Vegan Thanksgiving Meatballs and Vegan Thanksgiving Burger

These festive vegan meatballs and burgers are created from the same easy recipe.

vegan-thanksgiving-meatballs-vegan-thanksgiving-burger

A while ago, I made an incredibly easy vegan burger. With the holidays coming up, I wanted to make a cozier version of that burger, something for people who liked side dishes well enough, but needed a heartier meal. These meatballs (and burgers!) are filling and protein packed and absolutely delicious.

When I was thinking about what to put in these, I was inspired by the traditional poultry-rub herbs that are used at Thanksgiving: thyme, sage, tarragon. Soon the air was filled with nostalgia. Our home smelled precisely like Thanksgiving dinner at my Auntie Maryl’s house. Food is truly a time machine. When I was a kid, Thanksgiving was always held and Auntie Maryl and Uncle Eddie’s house. Auntie Maryl had a talent for holiday decorating, her vast family room bright and inviting. She passed four years ago, and I can’t think of Thanksgiving without also thinking of her.  The sharp, clean scent of every towel in her home. The way she always insisted that everyone congregate in the family room, post dinner, to hate-watch White Christmas. The way she made folks feel understood.vegan-thanksgiving-burger

And even though she was a big meat eater, I feel she would have appreciated this dish. Especially because of how simple it is. Yes, the toppings take a little work, but the burgers and meatballs themselves are rather effortless.  All you need to do is chop up some herbs, and the blender does the rest of the work.

I topped these burgers with sweet potato noodles, but if you don’t have a spiralizer, thinly chopped sweet potatoes are just fine.

vegan-thanksgiving-meatballs-easy-vegan-thanksgiving-burger

 

Vegan Thanksgiving Meatballs and Vegan Thanksgiving Burger

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 18 minutes

Yield: 20 meatballs OR 8 burgers

This recipe yields 20 meatballs or 8 burgers, whichever strikes your fancy. The ingredients include nutritional yeast, which is quite salty itself. However, I strongly recommend tasting the mix before you bake it and add more salt to taste.

This recipe freezes very well, so you can make them well in advance.

Ingredients

  • 2 cans of chickpeas
  • 2 cups of tightly packed kale
  • 1 big shallot
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
  • 2 heaping tbsp flaxmeal
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh tarragon
  • 1 tbsp fresh sage
  • 2 tbsp fresh thyme
  • hearty dash of salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • toppings
  • cranberry sauce (recipe below)
  • sweet potato noodles (recipe below)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 450.
  2. Blend all burger ingredients in a food processor or blender until you get a coarse paste. Depending on your blender, you may need to do this in batches (I did).
  3. to make the meatballs:
  4. Form mixture into 1 inch balls. Place on parchment-lined pan and bake for 8.5 minutes. Yields 20. Serve aside sweet potato noodles and cranberry sauce. They also taste good with ketchup, no shame.
  5. to make the burgers
  6. Form the mixture into 1/2 inch thick, 3 inch wide burgers. Place on parchment lined pan and bake for 12 minutes. Flip and bake for another five minutes. Yields 8. Top with cranberry sauce and sweet potato noodles.

Notes

cranberry sauce: Place 2 cups of cranberries, 1/2 cup of water, and 4 tbsp of brown sugar in a small pot. Cover and bring to a boil, and the reduce heat. Cook for about 5-8 minutes, until thickened.

sweet potato noodles: spiralize a 1 lb sweet potato on medium width. Nuke in microwave until desired texture is reached (anywhere between 2 - 8 minutes). Frozen noodles will only need 3 minutes to reach a pleasant, al dente texture.

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you can also try these with cranberry tahini sauce

incredibly-easy-vegan-thanksgiving-meatballs

Jack O’lantern Smiley Fries

Jack O Lantern Smiley Fries Baked Vegan Easy

Hi!  Oh I missed y’all. How has everyone been? Any new life developments? New cat/dog/baby pictures to share? What is everyone going to be for Halloween?

Sorry for all the questions! I’m just so out of the loop. I finally took my boards, but I haven’t gotten the results yet, so I’m not home-free yet. That’s pretty much all that’s been going on in my life.  Studying, work, running. Taking cat pictures. Increasing my alcohol tolerance, due to nerves.

The week leading up to I my test, we ate Tetra-pak soup and avocados for dinner every night. Jason got frozen Amy’s burritos for lunch, instead of lovingly packed sandwiches and pretzels and homemade cookies.

So I’m very happy to be back in the kitchen.

I’ve been wanting to make a smiley-face fry recipe forever, but I’m glad I waited. These aren’t just any smiley fries. They are jack o’lanterns! 

jack o lantern smiley fries vegan easy

I love Halloween food, don’t you? It’s a perfect excuse to eat fun food, things that look like eyeballs and slime and nobody can say anything about it.

And these look complicated, but they’re quite easy. Chop up some potatoes and simmer them till tender. Then whip them up with a can of pumpkin and some other stuff here and there. Pipe them out onto a cookie sheet — they don’t have to be perfect, jack o’lanterns are supposed to be funky — and bake them up.

I used chopped-up chives for the stems, but if you’re making these for kiddos and you don’t think they’ll like them, feel free to leave them off. These would be prefect for a Halloween party for kids or adults or even just yourself and your boo.

 

jack o lantern smiley fries vegan baked easy

Jack O’lantern Smiley Fries

Yield: 50 fries

These make a huge batch, which means you might not finish them all in one sitting. Everybody knows fries taste best hot and fresh. If you need to reheat them, do so on a skillet, for a few minutes on each side. 

Starred ingredients are common vegan pantry items. For non-vegans, see substitution notes at the end.

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs of potatoes
  • 1 can of pumpkin
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast*
  • 1 flax egg (1 tbsp flax meal + 3 tbsp water)*
  • dash of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp crushed or microplane-grated garlic
  • 1/2 cup gf flour (I used bob's cup-to-cup, sifted)
  • salt
  • olive oil
  • handful of chopped chives

Instructions

  1. Peel and cube the potatoes. Bring to a boil in salted water, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 20 minutes. Drain well and allow to cool completely.
  2. Blend potatoes with remaining ingredients (minus the olive oil, salt, and chives) until you get a smooth, thick paste.
  3. Preheat the oven to 450.
  4. Draw 2.5 inch jack o'lanterns all over a piece of parchment paper (I used a biscuit cutter, and then free handed the eyes, mouth, and stems).
  5. Flip the parchment over and brush with olive oil.
  6. Fill a zip lock bag up with potato paste. Don't do all the potato paste at once, it will be too hard to manage. Cut a tip off the end of the bag, just under 1/3-1/2 inch.
  7. Pipe out the fries, guiding yourself with the outlines you made. If necessary, smooth them out a little with a butter knife.
  8. Press the chives onto the stems.
  9. Brush the tops of the fries with olive oil and freckle with coarse salt.
  10. Bake at 450 for 12 1/2 minutes. Serve hot and with love.

Notes

* parmesan cheese may be used in place of nutritional yeast. And a regular egg may be subbed for the flax egg.

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Layered Eggplant Fattoush

eggplant fattoush

All summer long, I have been obsessing over the stunning eggplants at the farmers markets. Beautiful shades of light and speckled purple, striped and red and blank white. I never picked up a single one because I was totally uninspired as to what to do with them. Then I saw Sarah’s beautiful Heirloom Tomato Eggplant Caprese Stacks.  They looked bright and summery and craveable and reminded me of a strained yogurt and spicy tomato eggplant thing I used to make. I don’t know what it was called, or even where I got the recipe, but I do recall that it was of Middle Eastern origin. And I had recently acquired a generous amount of sumac, my favorite all-time Middle Eastern spice. I think I like sumac even better than I like thyme.  So sumac + eggplant + farmer’s market whatever = fattoush something.

eggplant fattoush

I used these pretty Dancer eggplants, shining in a lovely amethyst hue.  After roasting, they were so creamy, almost melting on my tongue. I never want another supermarket eggplant again. But I’ll probably change my tune once the farmer’s market closes for the season and I’m huffing around the Kroger produce section, kicking at the wheels of my cart. I actually like Kroger produce, but nothing can ever compare to fresh-from-the-dirt. There is a nice tomato-headed kid who always helps me out, showing me cotton candy grapes and such. Digging up the plumpest Brussels sprouts when he catches me poking at the bruised brown-leaf ones. So I guess going back won’t be so bad. Maybe.

Since I love sumac so much, I made a pseudo-hummus out of lemons and chickpeas and sumac. A little garlic and salt. It really brings makes the Middle Easter flavor spark, like a hot hum of the last days of summer.

eggplant fattoush

 

Layered Eggplant Fattoush

Yield: 2 main, 4 side

I used beautiful Dancer eggplants, a gradient white-lilac variety known for their low bitterness. If you use darker eggplants such as Nadia, Galine, or Traviata, you may want to increase the salt-and-sit time to 20-25 minutes.

Ingredients

  • about 2 lbs worth of eggplant (This was 5 medium eggplants for me)
  • 8 oz cherry tomatos, sliced
  • 1 large cucumber, or 1.5 smaller cucumbers
  • 5 radishes, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup parsley, minced
  • 6 green onions, top parts only, thinly sliced
  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 3/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 scant tsp microplane grated garlic
  • 1 1/4 tbsp sumac powder, plus more for sprinkling
  • salt to taste
  • olive oil

Instructions

  1. Cut the eggplant into 1/4 inch slices. Sprinkle both sides with salt and allow to sit for 15 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 450.
  3. Lightly grease a baking sheet with olive oil. Lightly drizzle the slices with olive oil as well. (very lightly)
  4. Bake for 10 minutes, flip, and bake for 10 more minutes
  5. While the eggplant is baking, blend the chickpeas, lemon juice, garlic, and sumac, into a smooth paste. Add salt to taste.
  6. Place a single layer of slightly overlapping eggplant slices in a square (about 8x8) This will be about half of the eggplant slices
  7. Spoon on a layer of the chickpea-sumac paste and delicately spread.
  8. Add layers as follows: cucumber, radish, sprinkle of parsley, sprinkle of green onion, tomato, sumac paste, cucumber, radish, parsley, green onion, tomato, sumac paste, and then top it all off with the remaining eggplant.
  9. Sprinkle with sumac and garnish lightly with additional radish, parsley, onion, and cucumber.
  10. Serve with pita or soft corn tortillas.
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Lemony Smashed Potatoes with Okra, Tomato, and Purslane

or……what Annie found at the farmer’s market this week. Minus the lemons, duh. Those came from the grocery store.

Smashed Potatoes with summer produce

What I really wanted to make this week was this dish, minus the potatoes and add squash blossoms. But nobody at the farmer’s market had squash blossoms, and the German butterball potatoes just looked too good to pass up. I ended up loving my choice because it was hearty and easy and cheap and I didn’t have to stand over the burner sauteeing squash blossoms. I’m not ruling out those big orange flowers for future posts, though.

The folks at the market also had some nice purslane. I’ve been foraging my own wild purslane, and it’s delicious. But the farm-grown greens are even better. Sweeter and lemony and meatier. I usually eat purslane sauteed with a little garlic and onion, but the farm-grown stuff is good raw. Also, sauteed purslane looses its color in like five seconds after it hits the pan and I like my food bright. I’ll still eat the foraged kind because it’s free and plentiful, but for this recipe, I used the farmed shoots.

smashed potatoes with summer produce

I was super excited for the okra because I haven’t had any this summer. I just love how the little seeds pop in your mouth when you bite in.  This is kind of like fried okra, only not fried. I used aquafaba to get the breading to stick to the okra. Just be sure to shake off excess moisture, or the breading will get soggy even after baking. Yuck.

The guy at the potato stand had three different kinds of midsummer tubers, and I had the hardest time choosing. Finally I decided on the German butterballs because the dude said they got the best golden crust when roasting. In truth, they were a little mealier than I like, but not by much. Little viking potatoes or red bliss or whatever small potato you can find will work just fine.

Smashed Potatoes with Summer Produce

Lemony Smashed Potatoes with Okra, Tomato, and Purslane

This recipe calls for coconut oil, but you can certainly substitute olive oil if you wish. For an extra golden crisp, drizzle a little bit more oil over the lemon coating.

Ingredients

  • 18-20 German Butterball potatoes
  • 8 oz multicolored cherry tomatoes
  • 12 oz of fresh okra
  • 1 cup of purslane leaves
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp of coconut oil, plus a little more
  • 2 tsp lemon zest
  • 2 tsp microplane-grated garlic
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • Okra breading
  • 2 1/2 cups of corn Chex or generic equivalent
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • aquafaba from 1 can of chickpeas

Instructions

  1. Scrub the potatoes and boil them in salted water (uncovered) over high heat until the yield to a fork -- about 15-20 min.
  2. Combine the lemon juice, the coconut oil, the lemon zest, the garlic, the salt and the pepper. Set aside.
  3. Cut the stem and the tip off the okra and slice in half lengthwise. Set aside.
  4. Cut the tomatoes in half or quarters.
  5. Place the corn cereal in a blender and pulverize. Combine with the salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Set aside.
  6. Preheat the oven to 450 and grease 2 pans with coconut oil
  7. Once the potatoes are done boiling, allow them to cool. Quarter the larger ones (so you get more "smashed" surface area) and then place them on one of the pans. Smash flat with a cup.
  8. Carefully pour the lemon mix over top of the potatoes.
  9. Bake the potatoes for 25 minutes, until nice and golden. Sprinkle with more salt the second they come out of the oven.
  10. While the potatoes are roasting, dip the prepared okra in the aquafaba, shake off excess, and roll in breading. Place them on the second pan. Put them in the oven 10 minutes after you've started the potatoes, but remove them at the same time. (okra bakes for 15 minutes)
  11. Combine the orka and potatoes in a big serving dish. Toss in the tomatoes and purslane leaves.
  12. Serve right away, with lots of love.
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lemony smashed potatoes with summer produce easy cheap vegan