Mushroom, Lentil and Kale Stew (Vegan!)

SAM_4809This hearty stew is full of fresh veggies like onions, carrots, celery, mushrooms and kale. And it’s vegan, too! Lentils are full of fiber that will help keep you fuller longer and help keep you warm on those chilly winter nights. I like to make this stew with intentions of freezing half of it for when I don’t have time (or don’t want) to cook. This recipe yields a lot of stew, so I’d recommend freezing some of it if you don’t have intentions of eating it throughout the week. This is also a great recipe to make on the weekend when you have a Saturday afternoon free since this crock pot recipe is time consuming.

What you will need:
a large crock pot and medium pot
8 oz crimini mushrooms
1 T vegetable oil
1 c red lentils
1 c green lentils
2 celery stalks
2 carrots
1/2 of an onion
5 c vegetable broth (preferably mushroom based)
1/4- 1/2 lb of kale

Turn crock pot on high heat and start to melt the butter. Cut the crimini mushrooms in half and add to the crock pot, stir and continue to cook for 45 minutes. Meanwhile, in a separate pot, bring water to a boil and add the red and green lentils to the pot. Cook for 20 minutes and drain any excess water. You can also chop the onion, celery and carrots while the lentils cook. Set lentils aside. Once the mushrooms have cooked for 45 minutes, add the onions, celery and carrots and continue to cook for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, chop kale into thin slices, then cut those slices in 3rds. Add 5 cups of vegetable broth to the crock pot and add the kale and cooked lentils. Continue to cook for about another hour and a half or until the kale has wilted and the carrots and celery have softened. Serve with crusty, buttery toast on a chilly winter day.

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Acorn Squash Baked with Eggs in a Savory Basil Rosemary Mushroom Sauce

Acorn Squash Baked with Eggs in a Savory Basil Rosemary Mushroom Sauce

Here’s another recipe from the ongoing series called “Eggs in Holes”! Acorn squash is a very easy squash to work with; you can use all sorts of different butters and sauces with it (a creamy spinach sauce would work great, too) AND it already comes with it’s own perfect little serving bowl. Leftover cream of mushroom soup works as a great base for the sauce (btw, the sauce for this turned out AMAZING). You can doll it up with fresh herbs and a little lemon garlic sea salt from the herb grinder. You can also go for a sweeter version by making a sauce out of honey, cinnamon, brown sugar and nutmeg. Recipe makes 1 acorn squash.

What you will need:
roasting pan
1 acorn squash
1 egg

The sauce:
1/8 c olive oil
1/4 c (well rounded) Amy’s condensed cream of mushroom soup
fresh basil
fresh rosemary
a couple turns of the lemon garlic and pepper grinder
a sprinkle of asiago cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Carefully cut the top off of the acorn squash, remove the seeds, and place both pieces face down in a baking sheet filled with 1/4 inch water (we don’t want the acorn squash drying out!). Bake for an hour or until squash is soft. Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the sauce, stir, and set aside. Once the squash is ready, remove from the oven and turn down the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Use a spatula to turn the squash over (careful, it will be really hot!) and start scooping the squash away from the flesh. Combine the squash with the sauce. Leave a “hole” for the egg and crack the egg over the squash. Return to the oven and bake for another 20 minutes at 350 or until the egg is white and set. Garnish with fresh rosemary and serve as a main course.

Cauliflower Bread Sticks

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My first attempt at making cauliflower bread sticks has been a total SUCCESS! I wanted to come up with a gluten free, grain free, crust that my grandma can enjoy for the holidays (she has celiac disease and gluten is a no-no). This recipe is still a work in progress (I have a second batch baking in the oven for pizza right now), so bare with me. I’m still experimenting with cooking time, temperature and even the consistency of the cauliflower (should I make it more of a “rice” consistency? I don’t know). But I guarantee that these cauliflower bread sticks are amazing no matter what!

What you will need:
Food processor, mixing bowl, large pot for steaming, baking sheet
1 small head of cauliflower (it weighed just over a pound at the store)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1  c cheese (I used fresh Asiago, Parmesan and mozzarella)
about 1/4 c fresh basil, shredded
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp Italian seasoning
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp pink Himalayan sea salt
butter to coat the baking sheet

Heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and grease the baking sheet with butter. Chop or break the cauliflower into small florets and add to the food processor. Blend the cauliflower until it is smooth (well, as smooth as you can get it). Steam the cauliflower for 5-7 minutes and set aside to let cool. Once it has cooled, make sure to squeeze out any excess water in the cauliflower, otherwise, your bread sticks won’t stick together or crisp up as nicely. In a mixing bowl, lightly beat the egg. Again, strain any excess water from the cauliflower, add it to the mixing bowl along with the cheese, Italian seasoning, fresh basil, crushed red pepper, garlic and salt and stir. Form into 1/4- 1/2 inch thick bread sticks and bake for 40 minutes or longer until the edges are golden brown and the bread sticks are firm and stay together. Dip them in marinara sauce or olive oil and balsamic vinegar with herbs or eat them just as they are. Serve to your friends and see if they can tell the difference between the cauliflower bread sticks and the real thing!