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Vegetable Enchiladas with Tomato-Beet Sauce

One of my favorite parts about cooking is the ability to make dishes from any style of food, any culture. Some are definitely trickier to pull off with an authentic feel, but others are so flexible to interpretation and preference that anyone can cook them! We enjoy a lot of Japanese, Thai, Indian, Pakistani, and Italian dishes, as well as some South American, Spanish and Mexican dishes.

These vegetable enchiladas are decidedly “South West”, with of course a whole-foods plant based (WFPB) flair. Featuring vegan pepper jack cheese, a robust tomato and beet sauce, and loaded with black beans, peppers and corn, the enchiladas will fill you up, but without the heavy feeling that often comes with animal-products. The delectable mix of flavors and textures is amazing, and will get even your carnivorous eaters to get up for a second serving!

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You can make these enchiladas as spicy or as mild as you would like, and top with whatever sides you prefer! I added fresh sliced jalapenos, avocado, arugula sprouts, and some garlic cashew cream. We serve a fresh quinoa and raw veggie salad on the side, they paired so well together.

The other wonderful part about these enchiladas is that they hold well, so you can easily make a tray of them in the morning or afternoon, and just warm them through at dinner time!

Serves: 4

Prep Time: 10 Minutes

Cook Time: 25 – 50 minutes (depends on cook option, see below)

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Enchilada Ingredients:

1 cup yellow corn kernels (frozen OK!)

2 cups fresh arugula

1 cup cooked black beans

1 small red onion, diced

1/2 cup each, diced – green bell pepper, red bell pepper

1 medium carrot, diced

1.25 cups, shredded, vegan pepper jack cheese

3 garlic cloves, minced

Salt & Pepper to taste

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

6 medium-sized tortillas or wraps of choice

Optional Toppings:

Fresh jalapeno, thinly sliced

Arugula or broccoli sprouts

Fresh Avocado

Garlic Cashew Cream or vegan sour cream

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Tomato & Beet Enchilada Sauce Ingredients:

16-oz diced tomatoes (or whatever size jar/can you can find close to this. I used one pint of home canned heirloom tomatoes)

2 plum tomatoes, diced

2 small beets, diced

1 teaspoon baking powder

Salt & Pepper to taste (fresh cracked black pepper preferable)

1 teaspoon cumin

2 teaspoons chili powder

2 teaspoons garlic powder

1 cup vegetable broth or water

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Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 325F.
  2. For sauce – mix all ingredients (except beets) in a sauce pan, bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Once liquid has reduced down by about a third, add the beets, and blend. Set aside.
  3.  For enchiladas – saute peppers, onion, garlic, and carrots for 3-4 minutes or until slightly tender. If you are making this in advance, allow the filling to cool completely before moving on to step three. If you will be baking right away, you can go right ahead.
  4. In a large bowl, combine sauted veggies, black beans, arugula and 1 cup of the shredded vegan pepper jack.  Mix well.
  5. In a large baking tray, add about a 1/2 cup of the tomato and beet sauce, and spread across the bottom. Add filling to your tortillas or wraps, fold in both sides, and roll. Place in baking tray on top of sauce, and repeat until you have a full tray.
  6. Add more sauce on top of the enchiladas, to your preference. I don’t like it when enchiladas get to dried out, and this tomato and beet sauce is SO good, that I added probably about 2-3 cups worth.
  7. Top with the remaining pepper jack, and sliced jalapenos if you would like.

 

If you prepared your enchiladas in advance of your meal, you can cover in foil and put in the refrigerator. This is why the cook time is listed as a variable. If you are baking right away, your cook time will be less, as the filling is already warm, and you are only trying to crisp up the tortillas and melt the cheese. If you are making ahead, it will take longer to reheat the enchiladas all the way through.

When ready to bake, put the covered tray in a 325F oven. For ready-to-bake, about 5-10 minutes. For made-ahead, about 30-35 minutes. Remove the foil for the last 5 minutes to allow the tops to get nice and brown and melted.

Add your desired toppings and fixings, and enjoy!

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Roasted Bok Choy

Oh, baby … bok choy! Seriously, where has this vegetable been all of my life? My husband picked up a massive pack of fresh baby bok choy a while back at our local Asian market, and it has been love at first bite ever since!

My preferred way to prepare and eat them is to pan roast them. I’ve had them in soups and broths, one of the more traditional preparations for bok choy, but I found that the bok choy gets a little too chewy, stringy and tough for my preferences. So I roast them up, and just add them to noodle dishes as I’m eating, or serve them as a delicious side. Sometimes, I’ll make a plate of them just to snack on! They are truly irresistible.

 

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One tip though – you have to eat them fast, or keep them covered! Tender little bok choy don’t retain heat well, so they will be cold quickly if you leave them out on an open dish for too long. But with this delicious recipe, that will hardly be a problem! We can’t help but gorge ourselves on these tasty little greens the minute they are out of the pan!

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Prep Time: 3 minutes

Cook Time – 2-4 minutes

Serves – 2

 

Ingredients

4-6 Fresh baby bok choy

1/2 tablespoon minced ginger

1 teaspoon soy sauce

Garlic powder, to taste

Salt & Pepper, to taste

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Directions

1. Slice bok choy in half, lengthwise, and arrange on cutting board, insides facing you.

2. This is where I vary from the true WFPB diet …. I still use a small amount of olive oil at the bottom of a cast iron skillet to get the nice char that I want. Come warmer weather, I will do these on the grill, but for now, oil in pan…. go ahead, judge. It’s fine! I figure a tiny bit isn’t going to put me over that threshold and we try to use good quality oil when we do. So, heat about a tablespoon of oil in the pan, and get your pan HOT! You need to be able to cook these fast and hot to get a nice char on the greens.

3. Mix together the soy and ginger, and brush on to the greens. Get that whole, beautiful baby bok choy all lathered up, from base to greens! Don’t skimp! Then sprinkle with a little salt, pepper, and garlic powder, to your liking.

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4. Once that pan is hot and ready to go, lay the bok choy into the pan, “face down”, with the insides down and the back of the greens up. Cook for about 1-2 minutes, or until they are getting crispy and brown. Even a little black is ok! The softer leaves will wilt a lot and get very brown, but trust me, it still tastes delicious! Just don’t walk away while you are cooking these. Because they do cook so quickly, you want to keep an eye on them and keep checking, so you don’t completely burn and ruin them.

5. Once the insides are crispy, flip the bok choy over and let them cook another 30-60 seconds on their backs.

6. Remove from the pan immediately, and enjoy!

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Spring 2018

Spring is slowly, but surely, coming upon us here in the great Northeast. It’s been a very wet, muddy winter, with nearly non-stop rain and snow all season. Period of warmth allowed the snow to keep melting between storms, but we have flooding in all low-lying areas, including all around our property!

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Our seedlings are going strong indoors  – tomatoes, eggplants, peppers and a few greens – and I have been able to get out on some of the milder days to start tilling and preparing my garden bed. I added more soil and some of our compost, and it is looking lovely! If I was a plant, I’d want to settle my roots there! Any how, for a detailed look at what I will be growing, eating and preserving in our garden this year, head on over to our
What Are We Growing? page and check it out!

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Beekeeping
This spring completes our first year as beekeepers! I am so eager to get a look inside our beehives. On warm days, both hives are active, and you can see the honeybees coming and going, doing their cleansing flights and preparing for Spring work. This was so exhilarating and relieving the first time we saw it! Our honeybees survived their first winter! So many times you hear how first year keepers lose one or more hives, and so we were feeling the pressure to do as much as we could do help our hives along.

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I did get to peek at them a few weeks ago, on a warm, sunny day. I removed the top covers on each hive for just a few minutes, long enough to replace some of the wet pine shavings in the top box that help control the overall hive moisture (it’s so critical to keep excess moisture out of the hives during the winter, so the bees don’t get wet, cold, and die). There was a small cluster of bees in each hive that were quietly working on the candy boards. The silence that hundreds of honey bees are capable of is astounding – I will never forget bringing home our two packages of honey bees, and how you would never know they were in the car or house if someone didn’t tell you!

We picked up a bunch of hive bodies, and are hoping to create a third colony this year. Three, we have decided, will be our perfect number of hives, and I am hoping we can do a successful split of our strong hive, to create the new colony.

 

Chickens
Our chickens are doing very well, and resumed laying a few weeks ago. How I have missed fresh eggs! We have been able to allow them to free range around the property, they tend to stay in the general area of the coop, but I have found them wandering off a time or two. The did build an adorable nest in a sea grass we have growing up front, where they started depositing their eggs on days they free-ranged. Luckily we found it early on, before they eggs had been sitting there long, as I couldn’t find one of the chickens and went on a panicked run of the property. We do have a lot of large hawks, some foxes and coyotes, so the reality of them being picked up by a hungry predator is very real.

 

We are hoping to completely redo the chicken run, and replace the coop, this year. If all goes well, I would like to get a couple new chicks in Spring 2019 to add to our flock!

 

Pantry
Our pantry, while dwindling down on canned goods, is actually still feeding us quite well. We finished up the last of the tomatoes two weeks ago, the peaches are gone, and most of the beets. There are a few jars each of strawberries, blueberries and apple butter, and maybe one or two lingering on our peaches. We have been replenishing the vegetable stock on a regular basis. I used to just freeze it all in bouillon-style cubes, but I like having the jars of stock better, so we have been doing that more frequently.

 

 

Our carrots held over really well, all 267 of them! I still cannot get over how many we put away. We finished the first crate around February, and are wrapping up the second box. This box got watered a little less, so we have had more losses as far as wrinkly or woody carrots, but we just drop them in the stock pot and it works just fine for that purpose!

I have big dreams for redesigning our upstairs pantry, and moving my herbal apothecary upstairs. We preserved a lot of our own herbs last year, and I feel like we would use them more frequently if we could see those beautiful chamomile flowers, the soft lambs ear, or the robust rosemary just beckoning to use from an rough-hewn, open shelf.

 

Home & Family
We have done small projects here and there in the house. Our basement is just too damp, so I gave up on having a craft room. I relocated my spinning wheel and sewing machine & table upstairs. We plan to just use the space for our seasonal storage, root cellar/pantry, and to build more wine bottle shelving and develop more of our own wine cellar.

An afternoon of some simple wood work resulted in a beautiful new closet system for our bedroom, and we were able to get rid of our dresser entirely! I love this, as it helps us continue to pursue our clean, minimal-ish (we definitely aren’t true minimalists!) lifestyle. It has made the closet space far more functional and sensible, and I am so happy!

This year, we also transitioned to a whole-foods, plant-based (WFPB) diet. Similar to a vegan diet, this means no animal-products – like meat or cheese. We don’t adhere to this 100%, as we still enjoy our eggs and occasional seafood. We will also, from time to time, enjoy some wild game, but these instances are rare and far between.

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The other reason we use the term WFPB is because a lot of vegetarians/vegans simply replace meat/dairy with highly-processed alternatives. We rarely ate processed foods before our changeover, so we aren’t going to incorporate them now. Everything is simply fresh and homemade.

So far, we are all loving the benefits and positive effects of the diet, and it has renewed our creative passions for cooking. I have been experimenting with vegan cheeses and creams, and the results are delicious!

I also plan on baking more this year – bread, mostly. I am making an organic Einkorn sourdough starter, and want to make more whole grain and sprouted breads, naan, flatbreads, etc., for us to enjoy.

 

2018 Recap
There is a lot ahead of us for this year! Big projects, small projects, and of course the usual routines and property maintenance that make up our wonderful, homesteading life. We kicked off the year with a fantastic maple sap harvest, turning it into 40-oz of beautiful maple syrup. The sap run is, to me, the marker of the beginning of a new year, and a new cycle. Then the hustle and bustle of the year bursts open – preparing the gardens and seed starting, cleaning the house from the winter, splitting and stacking and moving firewood, rotating compost, bee keeping, lawn maintenance, garden maintenance, foraging, picking, canning and preserving, preparing the pantry for winter; then it’s time for our annual Harvest Festival, and the wind down back into winter begins with putting our tools to bed, buttoning up hives, coops, greenhouses and loading the winter bins with firewood once more.

I’m looking forward to the explosion of activity, the physical labor and the long days ahead!

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Chickpea Curry

Loaded with chick peas, peppers and celery, this curry is warm and fresh all at once. I like to serve it with coconut basmati rice, and pan roasted baby bok choy!

This is robust, filling, and bursting with flavor. Sometimes I make the tikka masala sauce from scratch, but this time around I used a store bought sauce. It makes for a super easy, quick dinner that tastes as if it simmered all day like the real deal.

You can find the premise sauces in the international foods aisle of most grocery stores, or at a local specialty store. If following a WFPB or vegan diet, just make sure to read the ingredient listing as some do contain milk.

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Servings: 4-6

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: approx. 30-35 minutes

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Ingredients:

1 bunch of fresh collard greens

1/2 medium red onion, diced

3 celery stalks, halved lengthwise and diced

1/4 cup each, diced red and yellow bell peppers

1 Roma tomato

2 cloves minced garlic

1/2 tablespoon minced ginger

1 can chick peas, drained

1 jar tikka masala sauce

Water, as needed

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Directions

  1. Prep all veggies; drain chick peas.
  2. In a large sauce pan (one that has a lid), cook ginger and onions until onions are translucent. Add peppers and celery, cook for another 2-4 minutes, or until peppers are slightly tender.
  3. Add collard greens, chick peas and tomatoes. Stir well, and allow greens to wilt slightly. You may need to add a splash of water to keep everything from sticking to the pan.
  4. Add tikka masala sauce, reduce heat to low, and cover. Allow to simmer until you are ready to eat. You can really let this go for 10 minutes, or put on a warm-and-ready burner and let it stew and mingle for hours. It’s your preference. I do like to let it go a little longer, to help soften and flavor the chickpeas a bit more.
  5. Serve with basmati rice (use a can of unsweetened coconut milk instead of water, to 1 cup of rice!), grilled bok choy, and warmed naan for a full and delicious meal.

 

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Sweet Potato Taco Bake

Sweet potatoes are a big part of my whole foods plant based (WFPB) diet, and this dish is incredibly easy, truly delicious, and loaded with lots of healthy vegetables. My three year old can’t get enough, which makes it a true win-win dish!

If you’re short on time, or in to meal prepping, you can cook the sweet potatoes ahead of time! Then just prep, sprinkle on, and bake your veggies and you are ready to eat!

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Servings: 4

Ingredients:

2 medium sweet potatoes

1/2 cup each: corn kernels, sliced celery, bell peppers (I typically add two different colors), onion; dice all vegetables evenly

1 medium broccoli crown, chopped

Thinly sliced jalapeño (optional)

1/2 tablespoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 tablespoon oregano

Salt & Pepper to taste

Directions

1) Preheat oven to 425. Peel and cube up the sweet potato. Season with spices, and in sauce pan, cook until crispy and slightly tender. Remove from pan and spread out on a baking sheet.

2) Add all fresh vegetables, salt and pepper to taste. Add slices of jalapeño, if desired. (My daughter is only three, so these are way too much for her, so I just top half the tray with jalapeños.)

3) Cover tray and bake for 15 minutes; uncover and bake for 5 more minutes.

4) Serve immediately, and top with fresh guacamole!

Lentil & Chorizo Stew (Spanish Pork and Beans)

A little before my second daughter was born, my husband and I enjoyed a night out, dining at a local bistro. The menu is a French-Mediterranean fusion, serving up a delicious arrangement of dishes that often feature less popular, more unique ingredients. It’s one of those restaurants that we really enjoy eating at, because there is always some new dish or technique that we then try to replicate at home.

One of the tapas that we loved was a plate of stewed lentils, served alongside crispy slices of chorizo with thin slices of garlic. It was savory, warm, and we cleared the plate all the way down to mopping up the broth with bread. It was simple, but a new idea for cooking lentils – one of my all time favorite foods – and I knew I would have to try and make this at home.

After some quick research to help select the best Spanish-inspired spices for my dish, I played around in the kitchen a few times, and finally came up with this recipe. Each time I cooked it, I naturally progressed from the fancier, restaurant-matching presentation, to that one-pot cooking style I love so much (it’s just so much easier!).

This recipe is perfect for those cold days ahead, a warm, stick-to-your-ribs type meal that leaves you full and happy. Since the bulk of your protein and calories is plant-based,  that wonderfully full feeling comes without the nap-inducing effect that can accompany a meat-heavy dish.

Yields: 4 servings

Ingredients:

1 cup of brown lentils

1 white onion, diced

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 medium carrots, diced

2 chorizo sausage links (4″)

2 bay leaves

1 bunch of collard greens

2 tablespoons smoked paprika

Salt & pepper, to taste

Olive oil

Directions:
1) Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven or other large pan (one that has a lid). Add the onion and garlic, sauté until onions are translucent. Add smoked paprika, cook about one minute more, then add 1-cup of water. Mix well, then remove from pot and pour in blender. Blend to a paste and set aside.

2) In same pan, add a little more olive oil, cook thinly sliced chorizo until crispy, remove and set aside. Add carrots and cook until starting to soften. Add lentils, bay leaves, chopped collard greens, 3 cups of water and the paste. Bring to a boil, then reduce and simmer 45-minutes.

3) Add cooked chorizo, salt and pepper to taste and 1tsp. Smoked paprika if desired (this will increase the smoke and heat, so leave out otherwise.) Serve immediately with toasted ciabatta bread.

Spiced Bourbon Apple Butter

Barter and trade is probably my favorite method acquiring goods and services. I love how simple it is, and often rewarding, trading one item or lending a hand in exchange for something you need or want!

This spiced bourbon apple butter  wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for trading. My husband listed some paving bricks online for free that we didn’t need, but wanted gone as son as possible, and the woman who took them brought us a big container of apples, picked from her own trees! How sweet!

Continue reading “Spiced Bourbon Apple Butter”

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