Good Eats Good Times

I think this is going to be a blog about cooking.

(Vegan) Creamy and Spicy Butternut Squash Soup (with ginger and a bit of sweetness, too)

Yup…another soup. I know my soups often have similar ingredients/I make them in similar ways, but they always surprise me in the end with different flavors. This one was particularly delicious (and different) and I won’t be too surprised if I make it again in a few weeks. There are a lot of flavors going on here, but I’m perfectly okay with that.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 (medium sized) butternut squash
  • 3 potatoes
  • 3-5 carrots
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1-2 inches ginger
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2-3 tbsp mimic creme (or choice of milk/cream sub; this would also be awesome with coconut milk)
  • 2 tbsp earth balance (I use soy-free)
  • 1-2 tbsp agave syrup
  • 1 veggie bouillon cube
  • curry, paprika, cayenne, chili, cumin, salt, pepper

Prep Time: approx 40-50 mins, Serves 4-5

Peel and cut the butternut squash into smallish cubes. Wash, peel, and quarter the potatoes. Clean and chop the carrots (doesn’t have to be too finely). Set those veggies aside.

Chop the onions, garlic, and ginger and throw them into the bottom a large pot with some olive oil. Sauté them for about 4-5 minutes and add your spices. Start with .5 tsp of cumin, 1 tsp of cayenne, 1-2 tsps of paprika and chili, and 2-3 tsps of curry. Add a bit of salt and pepper if you’d like. Let the spices mix with the veggies for another minute, and then throw in the potatoes, carrots, and squash. Add water; you’ll probably come close to filling your pot (but leave some room!).

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pre-blending

Bring the pot to a boil. Whenever you’d like, you can also add the agave syrup, earth balance, mimic creme, tomato paste, and bouillon cube. Let the pot simmer for just about 15-20 minutes after it boils, and your soup should be just about done! At this point I of course taste it and usually add a few more spices as necessary. You should be able to taste a bit of everything: the curry, ginger, a bit of spice, and a bit of sweetness. Delicious.

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Also, as with my other soups, I let it cool and then throw it in the blender (magic bullet for me) so it gets a nice, smooth, creamy texture! Top it with cilantro, some black pepper, and serve.

Gluten Free/Vegan Banana Bread

This was the third time I made banana bread this semester, and I think I finally got it right. The first time was right after we got back from the holiday break and all of the roomies stayed up and anxiously waited for the Banana Bread to finish baking (see picture below). Sadly, however, it never really seemed to finish baking. There were a lot of chocolate chips involved and a bit too much apple sauce, and it was kind of a gooey (albeit still delicious) mess. The second time I made it it wasn’t bad…but I knew I could do better. I was low on sweetener (I’ve been using Agave Syrup but was out of it) and that one just didn’t do it for me.

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Nevertheless, it seems like third time was the charm. Try this one out for a delicious gluten free and vegan banana bread with some nutty/appley flavors.

  • 3 ripe bananas
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1/3 cup applesauce
  • 1/2 cup agave syrup
  • 1/2 cup nuts (walnuts and/or almonds, I used a mix)
  • 1 3/4 cups gluten free flour
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla

Bake at 350 for 50 minutes-1 hour.

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Preheat the oven. In a large bowl, mix (and mash) your bananas with the oil, applesauce, agave syrup, and vanilla. In a separate bowl mix your dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, salt, nuts). I used about 1 cup of Bob’s all purpose gluten free flour and 3/4 of Bob’s brown rice flour. I ground the nuts in the magic bullet but you could probably also just chop them. Next, mix your dry ingredients into the bowl with the wet stuff. Pour into a loaf tin (lightly greased) and throw it in the oven. About 50 minutes later it should come out nice, hot, and ready! (although you’ll probably want to let it cool before digging in).

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That’s it! Especially if you’re gluten free/vegan, this banana bread will not disappoint.

Sidenote: I didn’t refrigerate since I found that it stayed much moister that way (although popping it in the microwave doesn’t hurt if it does get dried out). Does anyone have any advice on refrigerating vs. not refrigerating? I usually eat this stuff pretty quickly so I had no problem finishing it off within a few days (with some help from my roommates of course…)

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Ultimate Turkey Chili

Chili’s great. This was my first time actually making it but having eaten it plenty of times, I pretty much got the basic idea of throwing a bunch of delicious (and often spicy) things in a pot and seeing what happens. Josh and I used turkey for a leaner and still very delicious alternative and threw in some other good stuff (plenty of spices, quinoa, kidney beans). This chili was really easy to throw together and I’m really happy with how it turned out. Lots of good stuff. Lots of sustenance. Great chili.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 pound lean ground turkey 
  • 1.5 onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 bell pepper (mix and match…we used half green and half red)
  • 1 jalapeño pepper
  • 3 cups kidney beans (prepared/canned)
  • 1.5 cup quinoa
  • 2.5 cups water
  • 27 oz can (800 ml) canned diced tomatoes
  • 1 veggie bouillon cube
  • 3-5 bay leaves
  • paprika, cumin, chili, cayenne, salt, pepper (and TJ’s south african smoke if you have it!)

Prep time: 1 hour (maybe a bit more) Serves: 4-6

Drop the ground turkey in the bottom of a large pot. Let it cook for about 5-7 minutes and most of the meat should be cooked. Add the chopped onions and garlic and let them sizzle along with the meat for another few minutes. Add the chopped bell and jalapeño peppers and let them sauté for a few minutes.

At some point also add in the first round of spices. A bit of salt and pepper, 1-2 teaspoons of cumin and cayenne and 2-3 teaspoons each of chili and paprika. Let the veggies and meat sizzle for another minute or two and then add the diced tomatoes. 1 or 2 minutes later add 2.5 cups of water and 1.5 cups uncooked quinoa. Also add the veggie bouillon and bay leaves. Also add your kidney beans. I had already soaked them (overnight) and boiled them (for about an hour) but you could always save a few steps by just using canned beans.

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Bring the mixture to a boil. Take it down a few notches and let it simmer for about 35-45 minutes (the main thing is the quinoa being fully cooked but letting it simmer won’t hurt the flavor by any means). Now, try the chili. You might want to add a bit of salt and pepper, and if you’re craving more spice, a few more sprinkles of chili/paprika.

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That’s it! Throw it in a bowl, top it with sour cream or cheese (barring any dairy allergies), dip some chips in it, and enjoy this easy and filling meal.

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Chili dinner time selfie

Vegan/Gluten Free French Toast

French Toast is delicious. With the tahini and almond/cashew cream, this french toast has a great, nutty flavor. This recipe is great since it’s pretty much exactly like regular french toast, just with a few substitutes. This is a quick and easy way to enjoy this old treat sans gluten, dairy, and eggs.

This recipe was adapted from http://www.spiritvoyage.com/blog/?p=16415

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup almond/cashew Mimic Creme (original calls for 3/4 cup almond/soy milk)
  • 1-1 1/2 tbsp gluten free flour
  • 1/2-1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp nutmeg, 2-3 tsps cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp tahini
  • 1 1/2-2 tbsp agave syrup (original calls for maple syrup)
  • A few slices of Udi’s Gluten Free Whole Grain Bread or your bread of choice

Serves 1-3, Prep time: 15 minutes

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Whisk the Mimic Creme, agave syrup, vanilla, and tahini in a small bowl. Add the flour, nutmeg, and cinnamon. Transfer the mixture to a pan or something with a shallow base (a tupperware worked perfectly). Take the bread and coat each side with the mixture. Toss the gooey bread into a frying pan with some Earth Balance (margarine/oil) and let it fry on each side for probably about 3-5 minutes.

Your quick and easy, gluten, vegan french toast is ready to be topped with some maple syrup, fresh fruit, or whatever else you’d like.

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Sweet Potato Black Bean Burgers

If you’re a vegetarian craving the taste of meat (without changing your diet), look no further than this recipe.

It was a Friday evening. For me, it was one of those winter nights I just didn’t feel like going out. My friend Emma, laying low after a wild night at Igloofest, asked me if I wanted to get together and cook. We’ve long talked about trying to make sweet potato black bean burgers, and these did not disappoint.

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I used inspiration from various recipes… this one is definitely a mash up.

Ingredients:

  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • 1 large can black beans (28 oz)
  • 1.5 cups brown rice (cooked)
  • 1.5 onions
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 2-3 tbsp tahini
  • 1/2 cup gluten free flour
  • 1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • spices: salt, pepper, lemon pepper, cayenne, cajun, paprika, cumin, south african smoke

We didn’t mean to, but we ended up making a huge batch. This recipe yielded 20-25 burgers, so if you’re not looking to feed more than a few people, I think you could safely cut this recipe in half. You may still have leftovers. Prep time: approx 30-45 minutes.

For the fastest way to cook your sweet potatoes, cut some holes in them, put them on paper towel, and microwave them for 12-14 minutes. They should come out very hot, but also nice and soft. Cut them into cubes, and throw them into a large mixing bowl (we used a pot).

With the sweet potatoes, toss in the cooked rice and black beans (drain the can first). Begin to mash the mixture using a hand masher.

Chop the onions and garlic, and throw those in as well. Add the flour, worcestershire sauce, and tahini. Continue to mash as well as you can. Throw in your spices. If you don’t feel like using all of the spices we did, you obviously don’t have to. Since our recipe turned out to be massive, we threw in quite a bit of each spice (probably a few teaspoons).

Before you’re ready to make them into patties, taste it! Does it have all the flavors you want? Even after throwing a fair amount of spices in, they could’ve been even spicier.

"This semi resembles prison food, but I know it's gonna be good" -Emma

“This semi resembles prison food, but I know it’s gonna be good” -Emma

According to Emma, who was doing most of the mashing, “this semi resembles prison food but i know its gonna be good.” So if the mixture looks like prison food, you’re probably ready to form the patties.

We formed pretty large patties, probably about 2 inches in diameter (but it’s tough to say). They could’ve been smaller if you wanted to make them more like appetizer size (they’d probably stay together better, too). But we were feeling ambitious.

Since we had 23 uncooked patties on our hands, we weren’t sure what the best way to cook these the fastest. Therefore, we threw some in the oven at 350 while we were frying the first batch. I’m not sure if this made any sense or any difference, so you could probably skip this step.

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Now, to the frying. In a large frying pan, heat a layer of oil for a few minutes. Then, drop your patties in. They should take about 4-6 minutes to get nice and brown on each side. Once they’re done, I advise putting them in the oven at 200 to keep them warm and also to bake a bit of the grease off (this step I do advise).

Your burgers are now ready to be dressed. We settled on wrapping them in lettuce, with sliced tomatos, Trader Joe’s Corn and Chile Salsa, and cilantro. Feel free to add ketchup, mustard, or cheese as necessary. It was a great choice and the burgers were delicious. They were definitely a bit delicate (probably in part to the size of the patties), but nonetheless some of the most awesome veggie burgers I’ve ever tasted.

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Easy and Savory Veggie Potage (Puree)

I know what you’re thinking….another soup?!

But what can I say? They’re easy, hearty, and healthy. In addition, they’re so easy to make around food allergies. Especially since my roomies were getting sick, it was time to make some soup.

This soup definitely has some similarities to the other ones I’ve made, but with much more emphasis on letting the vegetables’ flavors speak for themselves, instead of the spices. When it was done, the soup had a really great consistency and you could really taste the carrots, celery, mushroom, and potatoes in each bite. Delish.

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Ingredients:

  • 6-7 potatoes (medium sized)
  • 4-5 celery stalks
  • 6-8 carrots
  • 6-8 mushrooms
  • 1 large onion
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 3-5 bay leaves
  • 2-3 tbsp earth balance (or butter or margarine)
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 bouillon cubes
  • salt/pepper
  • South African Smoke (spice from Trader Joe’s)

Serves: 3-5, Prep Time: approx 45 minutes

In the bottom of a large pot, sauté the garlic and (chopped) onion with some olive oil for about 5 minutes. Chop the mushrooms, celery, and carrots (they don’t have to be finely chopped by any means). Peel and quarter the potatoes. Add the mushrooms and sauté for another few minutes. Then, add all of the veggies and pretty much fill the pot with water. Add the dried parsley, basil, and bay leaves. Add one of the bouillon cubes. Bring the broth to a boil.

Once the broth has boiled, bring it to a simmer. Add the tomato paste and earth balance. Add a bit of salt and pepper. Add a good amount of the South African Smoke (if you don’t have any, you can obviously leave it out, but it gave the soup an amazing smoky/roasted flavor that worked really well with the vegetables). Let it simmer for probably about 15-20 minutes. Then, taste the soup! You’ll probably want to add another bouillon cube. If the veggies are nice and soft (check the potatoes), your soup is pretty much done.

Take it off heat and let it cool (at least for a bit). Fish out the bay leaves to the best of your ability. Then, put it in the blender for just a few seconds. I also mashed it with a hand masher before blending it so that it would be easier on the blender (especially considering my blender is a Magic Bullet). I only blend it for a few seconds since a few chunks are nice.

This soup was delicious and savory, but still definitely pretty light. I highly recommend throwing some rice in to make it a bit heartier, and if I make it again I’d probably trying putting some lentils or kidney beans in it. Top it with some cilantro, homemade croutons (refer to one of my other soup posts), or even some potato chips, as I did.

Gourmet Tuna Melt

Everyone loves a tuna melt. Okay, that’s probably not true, but people who like tuna most likely love tuna melts.

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This tuna melt is gourmet because I got this tuna salad recipe from the Italian deli/restaurant I work at when I’m in New Jersey. It was one of the first things I made after I was hired, since when you’re making a much bigger portion, chopping those veggies gets a bit tedious. However, it’s easy when it’s just for yourself, and adding the carrots, celery, and red onion is the secret to taking your tuna salad up a notch.

Tuna Melt: Udi’s Gluten Free Bread, Trader Joe’s sliced goat cheese, tuna salad, 2 tomato slices

Gourmet Tuna Salad:

  • 1 can tuna
  • .5-1 tbsp mayo
  • 3/4 carrot
  • 3/4 celery stalk
  • red onion (a few slices)
  • 2-3 tsps lemon juice
  • 2-3 tsps red wine vinegar
  • salt, pepper

Time: 15 minutes. Serves 1-2.

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Chop the tuna, red onion, and celery finely. Put the veggies in a bowl and add the tuna and mayo. Stir with a fork or spoon. Add a few tsps each of salt and pepper, the lemon juice, and red wine vinegar. That’s it! It’s so simple and delicious.

After preheating the oven to 350, on a cookie sheet place a slice of bread, slab the tuna over it, add a slice of tomato, and your choice of cheese. Bake it in the oven for 5-10 minutes depending on the oven and your preference. I also like to broil it for a couple minutes so that the cheese gets nice and bubbly.

There you have it. An easy and delicious way to make the perfect tuna melt.

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Honey Gingery Almonds

Even though the website I got this from advertised it as a snack to help women during their “moon time,” having once eaten a luna bar without any side-effects, I figured this snack would be safe.

Especially considering the four ingredients needed are usually lying around my house (except for Ghee butter, which I substituted Earth Balance for), and it practically takes a few minutes, I figured I’d give it a whirl.

This is a quick and easy one I found on Twitter from the folks @glutenfreeworks, who got it from the lovely people who run a blog called Spirit Voyage (http://www.spiritvoyage.com/blog/index.php/yogi-recipe-sauteed-ginger-and-almonds-with-honey/).

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Prep time: approx 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup raw almonds (about 75)
  • 3-4 inches ginger (diced)
  • 1.5 tbsp honey
  • 1.5 tbsp Earth Balance (subbed for Ghee butter, feel free to try it with margarine or regular butter)

Serves: 1-3 snackers

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Sauté the Earth Balance and diced ginger in a frying pan over medium heat for about 4-5 minutes (stirring occasionally). The ginger will start to brown and soften. Toss the almonds into the frying pan and continue to stir. They’ll probably need another 7-8 minutes to become a darker brown and will smell nicely roasted.

Let the nuts, and buttery gingery honey cool. After cooling, the nuts will be surrounded by the sticky deliciousness and make this healthy snack practically taste like candy.

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Lamb Burgers topped with Sautéed Veggies

I love lamb’s succulent flavor. Lamb burgers are delicious, so Josh and I decided to make some.

Considering what we had lying around the house, we decided to top them off with some sautéed mushrooms and onions and sautéed zucchini. I probably would’ve used a grill, especially for the burgers and zucchini, if I had one (also if it wasn’t -30 Celcius/-22 Fahrenheit). We do have a George Foreman, but sometimes those are just a pain in the ass.

I took inspiration from  Canadian Living’s 5 Best Lamb Burgers: http://www.canadianliving.com/food/bbq/5_best_lamb_burgers.php

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Well, here it is:

Lamb burgers

  • 1 lb. ground lamb
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 pinch each of cumin, chili, turmeric
  • 1 tsp minced coriander
  • 1 tiny pinch each of parsley, oregano
  • 1 tiny squirt lemon juice

First, lightly sauté the the finely chopped garlic and onion in some olive oil for about 5 minutes. Add a pinch each of cumin, chili, and turmeric, giving the onion and garlic a nice orangey color. If you’re feeling lazy you could skip this step and add the onions and garlic raw, but I think this brings out the flavors nicely.

In a mixing bowl, combine the ground lamb with the spiced/sautéed onions and garlic. Add the coriander, parsley, oregano, and a small squirt of lemon juice. Mix the ingredients with your hands (or a spoon) and then form patties. I made 6 patties that were a bit bigger than slider-size.

Drop the lamb burgers into a large frying pan. They’ll take about five minutes on each side; flip them once. They let off a lot of grease, so I’d definitely recommend draining the grease at least once. If you’d like, melt some cheese on them as well (I used my delicious Trader Joe’s sliced goat cheese and Josh opted for his favorite cheddar).

Sautéed veggies: mushrooms and onions/ zucchini

  • 1 large onion
  • 5-6 mushrooms (we used cremini)
  • Worcestershire sauce (we used quite a bit, 1/2-1 tablespoon will work)
  • Pinch of salt, plenty of fresh black pepper 

Pretty straightforward. Slice the onions (don’t chop!) and mushrooms. Throw them in a frying pan with a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper. When they start to soften, add the worcestershire sauce and let them get nice and soft for a few more minutes. Worcestershire sauce has such great flavor and works perfectly with the mushrooms, onions, and lamb.

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  • 1 zucchini
  • Olive oil
  • 1 tsp dired basil
  • salt, pepper

Cut the zucchini into on a sharp angle (it looks nice and zucchini is just more fun to eat that way). Throw the slices in a frying pan on medium heat with a bit of oil, salt, pepper, and dried basil. Flip them every few minutes and they should take between 7-10 minutes to get nice and soft and even a bit brown.

With the different components finished, dress your burger however you like. I had mine on Udi’s gluten free bread with a bit of ketchup, the zucchini, the mushrooms and onions, and of course, some hot peppers. Josh had his on a pita.

All Dressed

All Dressed

The burgers were delicious. Lamb on its own is packed with flavor, and the spices went really well together. That being said, if I made lamb burgers again, I might skip a few of the toppings. I’m always one for lots of flavor, but I have to admit there was a lot going on with this one. Nevertheless, however you decide to eat the burgers, I’m sure they’ll make your mouth water.

Hummus 101

Hummus. Snack of champions. This one is based on my mom’s recipe, who was inspired by my sister’s friend and Hummus aficionado Yotam. Despite her insistence on its simplicity when she sent me the recipe in an email awhile back, I have yet to make it until this past Thursday night.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 (15 0z) can chickpeas (save water)
  • Olive Oil, probably about 2-3 tablespoons
  • 3/4-1 cup tahini
  • 1-2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 to 3/4 of a lemon
  • Spices: chili, cumin, turmeric, cayenne, black pepper

Drain the chickpeas but keep the chickpea liquid and set it aside. Throw the chickpeas in a frying pan with a generous amount of Olive Oil and the chopped up clove of garlic. Sauté them on high for a few minutes and then add your spices. Add a few teaspoons of each spice. Feel free to coat the chickpeas with the different spices since a lot of the flavor will be absorbed by the tahini. Allow for the chickpeas to simmer about 10 minutes. Once they have browned a bit and are a bit crusty, transfer them to a bowl or whatever you’ll mix the hummus in.

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Using a masher or hand mixer, mash the chickpeas. Then, add the tahini. I would start with about 3/4 of  a cup and check how the consistency is. You can also add some of the chickpea water to help the consistency, since it’ll be pretty thick. Squeeze the lemon over the hummus and continue to stir. If you’d like, you could add more of the spices, a pinch of salt, or a clove of raw garlic to give it more zing.

You might want to throw it in the fridge for a bit before digging in, but there you have it! Your hummus is ready to dip or spread over…pretty much everything. A quick and easy way to make some delicious hummus. I’m definitely up for trying a more daring hummus next time (people on the internet seem to be putting a lot of weird stuff in hummus nowadays). But for now, this classic hummus, especially by providing a basis for future recipes, will do.

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