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Super Simple Soup

This is a basic recipe that is sooo adaptable and really hard to get wrong! Try it and adapt it,

Fry off (to soften only) an onion and two cloves of garlic. Include a chilli (or a tsp of 'lazy chilli') if you want it spicy.

Chop some veg - any veg at all. Root veg is the easiest so maybe 3 carrots and 3 parsnips, or 4 carrots and one swede etc. (you can use any veg but will need to reduce cooking time accordingly)

Cover with water, add a veg stock cube (and if you are me extra pepper to taste) and boil until soft.

Meanwhile, once the onion/garlic is softened add it to the rest of the veg bubbling away.

Once the veg is cooked to soft (about 20 mins) take it off the heat and leave to cool for 5-10 mins. The blitz it with a blender to make it smooth.

Result = delicious and super easy, suoer tasty, super healthy soup!!!!

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Stir Fry Vegetables with Ramen Noodles

I'm aware of the bad reputation of ramen noodles, but there are ways to make them yummy and a bit healthier.  Depending on what brand you buy, though, you will need to look carefully at the package to ensure it's vegetarian.

Stir Fry Vegetables with Ramen Noodles

Oriental-flavored ramen – One package, with seasoning packet
Frozen “Asian-style” mixed vegetables – 1 ½ cups
Stir fry oil – 2 tablespoons (I prefer sesame oil.)
Water – one cup

Thaw vegetables in microwave, then add to a hot wok with oil and stir fry until just done but still crisp. Just before finished, sprinkle with one third of ramen seasoning. Remove vegetables from wok, and add 1 cup of water. Bring to a very rapid boil and added ramen noodles and remaining seasoning. Separate noodles as they cook. Return vegetables to wok when moisture is mostly absorbed. Combine well, and serve immediately.

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Freaky Fruit Salad

In honor of Halloween (a bit late, I know), here's one of my new favorite potluck dishes.  For those unfamiliar with lychee, it is a small Asian fruit with an unusual taste and texture.  When canned, the pit is removed but the rest is left intact, leaving little pale, fleshy cups of fruit.  That's where the grapes come in.

Freaky Fruit Salad

Lychee - 1 can, drained (Most canned lychees come pitted and peeled, and that's what you want for this recipe.)
Red seedless grapes - 1 cup
Mixed berries - 1 cup
Melon - 1 cup, cut into bite-sized pieces (Any type of melon will do, depending on your taste.  I use a combination of cantalope and honeydew.)
Citrus fruit cocktail - 1 cup, drained (I buy the prepackaged kind.  If you can't find it, then the meat of one orange and one grapefruit will do nicely.)

After thoroughly washing grapes, stuff one inside each lychee "cup".  (You will be left with something that looks very much like an eyeball but tastes suprisingly delicious.)  Gently combine with all other fruits.  If your berry mixure includes raspberries or strawberries, they will stain the lychee slightly, but that works.

If you are feeling really ambitious, you can also cut the melon into freaky shapes.  I have a small set of cookie cutters, the largest about 1 1/2 inch across, that work very well for this.  Honeydew makes very good moons, ghosts and skulls, and cantalope excellent pumpkins and cats.

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Savory Oatmeal

I love oatmeal for breakfast, but don’t have much of a sweet tooth. This is a great variation. The consistency varies depending on what quality of oats you use. This recipe is for rolled oats. If you prefer steel-cut oats, double the liquid and triple the cooking time, and microwave covered for the first 6 minutes.

 Savory Oatmeal

 Oats – 1/2 cup
Water – 1/2 cup
Broth – 1/2 cup (I prefer a vegetarian “chicken” broth, but you could also use prepared onion soup or whatever other broth you like)
Peas and carrots – 1/2 cup (I buy the canned version, frozen works too, just thaw first)
Cheddar cheese – 2 tablespoons
Salt and pepper to taste

 Combine oats, broth and water. Microwave for 2 minutes. Watch carefully and stir as needed to keep from boiling over. Add peas and carrots and cook for 1 minute more. Stir in cheese and serve.

 Makes one good-sized serving.


Better Brussels Sprouts


I really should call this recipe BEST brussels sprouts.  Most people who don't like brussel sprouts don't like the smell or slimy texture that comes from boiling them, but this recipe dodges both those objections.  Simple, quick, and most importantly, tasty!

Better Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprouts - 5 to 6 medium-sized sprouts

Garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon (be sure it's garlic powder - not garlic salt)

Olive oil - 1 tablespoon

Parmesean cheese - 1 to 2 tablespoons, grated

Clean sprouts by removing outer raggy leaves and any excess stem, then rinse well.  Chop each sprout in half from stem to top.  (To keep the sprout mostly intact, try to cut down the center of the upper leaf.  If some leaves come off, you can either dispose of them or press them back into place - they will mostly stay in place.)  In a small bowl, combine half the olive oil and garlic powder.  Coat the sprouts in this mixture, taking care to rub the garlic gently into the cut sides.  Then, add the remaining oil to a small saute pan over medium heat and place the spouts cut side down into pan.  Cover and let cook for 7 to 10 minutes, or until the sprout's are just tender and browned on the bottom.  Turn sprouts over and allow to cook, uncovered, for another five minutes.  Serve topped with parmesean cheese.

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Asian Cabbage Salad


Asian Cabbage Salad

A great side dish that can easily be stepped-up to a main dish by adding your favorite soy “chicken” strips, prepared.

 

Coleslaw mix (shredded cabbage and carrots) – 1 16 ounce bag

Almonds – ½ cup, slivered or chopped

Ramen soup mix – 1 package

Rice wine vinegar – 5 tablespoons

Sesame oil – 1 teaspoon

Sugar – 3 tablespoon

Black pepper – 1 teaspoon

Salt – 1 teaspoon

 

Wisk together vinegar, oil, sugar, black pepper, salt, and the seasoning packet from the ramen soup until the sugar dissolves. In a large bowl or dish, combine coleslaw and almonds. Add vinegar mixture and stir until all cabbage is evenly coated. (I usually break down and use my hands.) Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour. Just before serving, break ramen noodles into small chunks and mix with salad.

Garden Cream Cheese Pizza (Or Crudités by the Slice)

 My favorite potluck dish, because it’s easy to make, doesn’t require utensils to eat, and can be easily modified. For example, the red pepper can easily be switched with cherry tomatoes, or you can leave off the olives, or you can add some green onions, cauliflower, or vegetarian “ham”.

 Prepared pizza crust – 3 8 inch crusts
Cream cheese – 2 boxes
Sour cream – 4 tablespoons
Ranch dressing mix – ½ an envelope, to taste
Broccoli – 1 cup when cut into small florets
Carrot – 1 small
Olives – ½ cup (any kind of olives will do, whatever tastes/looks good)
Red peppers – ½ cup chopped into small pieces (I cheat and used the jarred pimento pieces)

Allow cream cheese to soften at room temperature. Clean and cut broccoli into small florets, shred carrots, and chop pepper. Drain olives. When cream cheese is soft enough to stir, add cream cheese and ranch dressing mix. Combine well. Divide cream cheese into thirds and spread over each of the prepared pizza crusts. There should be a thick layer on each, with a small amount of room around the edge to make it easier to pick up. Top with carrots, pepper, broccoli and olives and press into the cream cheese. Wrap each “pizza” in plastic wrap and refrigerate until the cream cheese has reset. (Overnight works well.)  Cut into slices and serve.
 


Rosti


Rosti

 Super simple, but brilliantly tasty. You can vary the filling to your taste, but you should definitely try it with gruyere or Swiss cheese first. It’s also great with some browned soy sausage or Tofurkey layered with the cheese to make it more of a meal.

Shredded potatoes – 4 cups (frozen hash browns works great, just defrost in microwave)
Gruyere or Swiss cheese – 1 cup
Butter – about 2 tablespoons (if you’re concerned about the fat content, you could replace the butter with non-fat cooking spray or something like it, but then what’s the point?)
Salt, pepper, onion powder – to taste

 Note – You will need a small non-stick frying pan for this recipe, between 6 and 8 inches. The rosti should pretty much fill the entire pan by the time you’re done assembling, and you will need to be able to slide it out of the pan in order to turn it.

 Season potatoes to taste. Add half of butter to pan over medium-low heat and spread evenly to coat bottom. Layer a third of the potatoes and press down. Sprinkle half of the cheese on top, then another third of the potatoes, then the remainder of the cheese. Top with remainder of the potatoes and press down so that you’ve created a solid disk.

 Cover and allow to cook for 10 minutes or until bottom of potatoes are browned. Carefully slide rosti out of pan onto a plate, cooked side down. Again add tablespoon of butter to pan and spread evenly. Then put pan upside down over rosti, and turn the whole the whole thing over, which will put the rosti back into the pan uncooked side down. Cook for another 10 minutes, uncovered, until bottom of potatoes is browned.

 Slide back out of pan onto serving plate and cut into wedges to serve.
 


Veggie Shepherd’s Pie


 

This is one of those hearty winter dishes that’s easy to make and can be adjusted to any taste. If you like onions, omit the onion powder and add diced onions to the crumbles while browning. For a more “grown-up” version, replace the vegetable broth with red wine.

 

Veggie Shepherd’s Pie

Prepared Mashed Potatoes – 3 cups

Soy Crumbles – 1 bag (approximately 12 ounces)

Peas and Carrots – 1 can (or ½ cup each of fresh or frozen peas and carrots)

Ketchup – 1 tablespoon

Vegetable Broth – 1 cup

Water – 1 cup

Onion powder – 1 teaspoon

Garlic Powder – ½ teaspoon

Black Pepper – ½ teaspoon

 

Sauté crumbles until browned. Combine broth, water, onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper, and ketchup and added to crumbles. Add peas and carrots. Cook until broth begins to reduce. Pour crumble mixture into 9 x 9 baking dish. Carefully layer mashed potatoes over top. (Be sure to leave a few open spots for the lower mixture to vent.) Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until potatoes start to brown.

 

Makes approximately 4-5 big servings.

 


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Baked Blueberry Pecan Oatmeal

A favorite breakfast dish of mine. I often make a batch on Sunday night and then I don't have to worry about making breakfast for the next few days!

Baked Blueberry Pecan Oatmeal
Oatmeal - 3 cups
Brown sugar - 1/2 cup
Baking powder - 1 teaspoon
Cinnamon - 2 teaspoons
Salt - 1 teaspoon
Milk - 1 cups
Eggs - 2
Blueberry yogurt - 1 small container (if you use a different dried fruit, substitute vanilla or some other complimentary yogurt)
Vanilla extract - 2 teaspoons
Dried blueberries - 1 cup (or dried cranberries, raisins or cherries)
Pecans - 1/2, broken into small chunks (or walnuts or almonds)

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine oatmeal, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl. In separate bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, yogurt, and vanilla. Stir wet mixture into dry. Add dried fruit and nuts. Stir well.

Pour mixture into 9 x 9 dish and spread evenly. Bake for 30 minutes or until knife inserted into center comes out clean.

It's good warm or at room temperature. Though it has a soft, cake-like texture, it can be cut into squares and carries pretty well.