Superbowl dinner and snacks

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Superbowl Sunday calls for a spicy chili and plenty of snacks to nibble on while watching the game. This year, we didn’t bother making a kid-friendly chili because they never like it much anyway. So we threw in the jalapeño pepper and didn’t skimp on the flavours. It’s topped with a dollop of spicy cashew dip for a creamy kick.

The chili was served with homemade pretzel dough cut into little “bites.” I got the idea from Vegan Richa (this dip is delicious and super easy too). I love the fact that the pretzels take no time to shape at all. Fresh out of the oven, there’s nothing like them! Aside from the hour it takes to let the dough rise, they’re quick to bake. Once you try them, you’ll be craving them again and again!

They’re served with a spicy cashew dip but we also dipped them in the chili. I usually make cornbread with chili but this was a really nice change. The recipe made enough pretzel bites for leftovers – even after we all ate our fill.

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For the kids, I fried up some vegetables and tossed leftover rice and lentils in the pan for a very easy kid-friendly meal. It’s flavoured with just sesame oil and soy sauce. Not too complicated but it makes the kids happy.

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Lentils and rice are a great pair that can be dressed up however you like them. If you have leftover rice and lentils, fry up some onion and garlic, add any vegetables you have on hand and spices that you like, add the rice and lentils, and you have a really nutritious and delicious meal.

If you’ve never cooked lentils before, they’re really simple and quick to cook. Just wash them well, checking for stones, cover them with water and simmer for 20 minutes. You can add your flavour in the water at the beginning or cook the lentils in plain water without any salt or seasoning. Fry onions and vegetables while the lentils are simmering and then throw the lentils in at the end. Give them a try!

Noodle soup with vegetable pancakes

We spent the afternoon outside hiking and feeding the chickadees in the mild winter weather. As soon as we got out of the car, we were spotted by some chickadees who called to us to feed them. These friendly birds followed us throughout our hike – singing in the trees and keeping us in their sight.

We were in an area owned by the local public school board where the staff host nature walks for their schools. The birds are wild but used to kids feeding them. The blackcapped chickadees are very tame.

We didn’t just see our the friendly chickadees. We saw two kinds of woodpeckers and a couple other little birds we weren’t able to identify. But the chickadees were the only ones interested in our seeds and brave enough to approach us.

 

We got home just before dinner time. There’s nothing like a steaming bowl of noodle soup after being out in the cold. This soup has wheat noodles, tempeh, mushrooms, greens and shredded carrots. The broth has coriander and star anise and it’s garnished with cilantro.

vegan noodle soup

We had asian-style vegetable pancakes on the side with a spicy dipping sauce for the adults and a soy dipping sauce for the kids. The pancakes are a simple flour, salt and water mix but when cooking, I press pre cooked, shredded vegetables in the batter.

vegan vegetable pancakes
Vegetable pancakes with shredded carrots and cabbage.

The end result is delicious – I almost didn’t get a picture because the kids ate them all before I got the camera out! But my son asked for more while I was still cooking the adult pancakes. I made him one more with the remaining batter – as you can see, his fork got to it before I took this picture!

The difference between the adults’ pancakes and the kids’ pancakes is that I added mushrooms and onions to the adults’ pancakes. The kids’ only have cabbage and carrots – although my daughter liked them enough to eat one of the adult pancakes, onions and all, without complaining.

vegan vegetable pancakes

Vegetable pancakes

  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 cup water
  • thinly sliced or shredded veggies (try onion, carrot, mushrooms, etc.)
  • oil for frying

Fry the vegetables in oil until cooked. Set aside.

Mix the remaining ingredients together and heat a griddle. Scoop 1/4 cup of batter onto the hot, lightly greased griddle and spread the batter around. Add a spoonful of the veggies and press them into the batter.

When the sides of the pancakes look ready, flip the pancakes and cook for a couple minutes on the other side until the vegetables are seared and the batter is cooked.

Make a dipping sauce with soy sauce, lime juice, rice vinegar, hot pepper flakes and minced garlic. Or just dip it in soy sauce.

 

Vegetable soup with kidney beans

Vegan vegetable soup

We started the day with above seasonal temperature. It had been lightly raining much of the night and the snow piles had melted. Farmers’ fields were showing their soil. At noon, there was still a light drizzle and it wasn’t very cold yet. But this morning, they cancelled school buses because the forecast was calling for nasty weather.

Everything changed after lunch. The rain turned to ice pellets clacking at the windows. By three o’clock, there was blowing snow. Now it is below freezing (-11), the wind is blowing and we’re back into mid-winter. We decided to stay in tonight since the roads are a mess.

When the kids got home, they were miserable and exhausted after a long week. They needed some comfort food and fast. It’s a good thing I was working on dinner. Vegetable soup and fresh flatbread to go with it.

For the flatbread recipe, I made a quick pizza dough with whole wheat flour and added some herbs de provence and nutritional yeast. I let it rise for about 20 minutes and then rolled it out like a pizza, brushed it with olive oil and sea salt and baked it like a pizza (but without the toppings) on a pizza stone. It wasn’t exciting but it was something quick and fresh to sop the soup up with.

This is a clean-out-the-fridge soup with everything in it. I chopped a bit of everything (onions, carrots, celery, potato, sweet potato, orange pepper, broccoli and mushrooms). I added herbs de provence for a bit of flavour. Threw them into a pot with some olive oil to soften them, added broth and a can of diced tomatoes and simmered for 25 minutes. About halfway through that time I added orzo (because we had it). After the vegetables were soft and the orzo was cooked, I added a can of beans.

It’s a great way to get rid of any vegetables that are starting to wilt in the fridge. I hate to let fresh vegetables go bad in the crisper so this is an easy way to use things up. Another way would be a stir-fry but on a snowy day like today, there’s nothing like a nice soup.

Spiced carrot soup with red lentils

Vegan carrot soup
Carrot soup made with red lentils, cumin and curry powder. It’s garnished with red pepper flakes.

I may have come down a bit harshly on the lowly red lentil in last night’s post so I thought I’d give an example of a recipe that works well with red lentils. Red lentils are the secret ingredient in this carrot soup making it thick and creamy enough to banish the chill from our bones.

It has been snowing since last night and I’m hoping the smell of dinner cooking will make up for the fact that I have refused go back out to shovel the driveway for a second time today. I summoned all my will to force my aching body to clear the last of the snow this morning. When I went to leave the house but saw the snowplow had deposited a new, rock-hard pile at the end of my no-longer clear driveway, I drove right over it!

This soup will melt any hard feelings. The carrots are sweet and the cumin and curry gives it a bit of a kick without overwhelming the kids. The grown-ups’ soup is garnished with red pepper flakes.

Carrot soup with red lentils

  • 1 cup red lentils, rinsed in cold water
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp curry powder
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cups grated carrots
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • salt to taste

Heat a large pot over medium heat and toast the spices until they’re fragrant (it takes about a minute). Add the remaining ingredients (except the salt) and bring to a boil. Simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. Season with salt according to taste.

FYI – my daughter came in the door singing, “I hope Mommy shovelled the driveway, I hope Mommy shovelled the driveway!” So, I guess the subject came up on the car ride home – but all was forgiven thanks to this yummy soup.

I served it with homemade bread – the dough was ready in the fridge, I just had to preheat the oven and bake it while I made the rest of dinner. We had the rest of the lentils I had cooked for last night’s dinner with basmati rice cooked in cumin, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, turmeric and garam masala.

My son asked me to make this dinner every night. If I had to, I could live on this too! But they’ll have to be happy with having the leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

Leek and bean cassoulet with biscuits

Vegan stew with biscuits
A hearty stew topped with biscuits.

This will be a short post because it is Christmas. But since holiday meals can be a challenge for new vegans and a curiosity for those who are not vegan, I thought I’d share what we’re having for dinner tonight.

Holiday meals are also a challenge for my picky eater because the flavours that make the foods special to us tend to be the ingredients he’d like picked out. This warming stew is no different – it is full of leeks and flavoured with onions and garlic but there are plenty of goodies for him to indulge in (like carrots, potatoes and peas) and the biscuits are a treat.

Vegan Christmas meal
First the stew is made on the stove top and then it is topped with the biscuits and baked in the oven for 15 minutes.

Find the recipe in Veganomicon, 10th Anniversary Edition: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook.

My youngest did require encouraging to finish his meal but the rest of us enjoyed this hearty stew and are waiting for him to finish so we can indulge in the sweets. Merry Christmas everyone!

Ginger miso noodle soup

Here’s another super easy weeknight meal that can easily be customized and it will boost your immune system through the cold evenings. It’s a ginger and miso broth over noodles and tons of vegetables. Feel free to use whatever you have in the fridge for this one!

vegan noodle soup
The kids’ soup has a lot of vegetables. They’re big and easy to identify – which makes it easy to pick out the mushrooms for my son.

This meal will take about 30 minutes – maybe less if you’re handy with a knife. Let’s get started!

Broth

  • fresh ginger root (about 2 inches)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 carrot
  • 5 cups of vegetable broth or water
  • 2 tsp miso paste (it doesn’t matter what kind of miso you use)

Soup

  • package of asian noodles of your choice (I used rice noodles)
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 head of broccoli
  • 1 block of tofu (firm)
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar snap peas or other podded peas
  • 1 1/2 cups mushrooms

Prepare the broth. Slice the ginger and garlic into thin slices. Chop the carrot into chunks. Throw the ginger and carrot in a large pot over medium heat for a couple minutes. Add the garlic and stir for another minute. If it sticks to the pot, it’s fine. Just scrape it off with the wooden spoon. When they’ve started to brown and smell nice, add the vegetable broth or water and simmer it all together for about 15 minutes while you make the rest of the soup.

Prepare the noodles according to the package directions.

Chop all the vegetables into bite sized pieces. Cube the tofu.

When the broth has been simmering for 15 minutes, use a slotted spoon to remove the ginger and the carrot (if you want – my kids like the overcooked broth carrots so I keep them in). Scoop out 1/2 cup of broth and add the miso to it before returning it to the pot – you don’t want to overcook the miso since it’s a fermented food.

Toss the vegetables and tofu into the broth and let it cook for a couple minutes. While it’s cooking, put the sesame seeds and hot sauce out on the table.

Divide the noodles among the bowls. Pour the broth and vegetables over the noodles and you’re done. Enjoy!

Vegan noodle soup
I’ve topped my serving with sesame seeds (both white and black) and hot sauce.

 

Sniffle-busting soup with ginger and garlic

Vegan wellness soup
My soup was topped with a generous helping of hot sauce – which also feels good on the throat.

When I picked the kids up from school yesterday, I had a telltale feeling in my sinuses that something was not right. By the time I made it in the door, I was glad to be near the kleenex box. I decided to fry up some garlic and ginger to make an immunity-boosting soup to stop the cold in its tracks.

All I wanted to do was eat my soup and cuddle up on the couch for the evening so it wasn’t going to be fancy – just the basics of a decent meal with enough ginger to kick the cold without causing a fuss from the kids. Luckily, I am able to bury plenty of ginger and garlic in a soup without paying for it with whine as long as the garlic has mellowed from being cooked.

I grabbed some rice noodles, tofu, mushrooms and shredded a carrot and got to work. It didn’t take long and it was just what the doctor ordered.

Soup with rice noodles and tofu
I picked the mushrooms out for my son – he did get one and declared it is still on his yucky list. No comment on the ginger and garlic!

Sniffle-busting soup

  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 inch of fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 cup mushrooms
  • 1 block of tofu, cubed
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp mirin
  • rice noodles, cooked according to directions on package
  • sesame seeds
  • chives
  • hot sauce

Fry the garlic and ginger in the sesame oil on medium heat until browned. Add the mushrooms and tofu and cook until the mushrooms release their juices. Add the carrots and stir. Add the stock, soy sauce and mirin and turn up the heat to bring to a boil. Once it is boiling, turn it down to simmer and prep the bowls.

The noodles should be cooked and drained. Divide the noodles among the bowls. Pour the broth and vegetables over the noodles. Garnish with sesame seeds (I used white and black), chives and hot sauce. Enjoy!

I woke up this morning feeling healthy – I think I’ve managed to kick it. I had some leftover soup for lunch so I’m sure that helped too. What do you do to keep the sniffles away?