Brown Spanish Rice

1-2tbsp olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1-2 peppers, chopped.  Select your pepper based on spice tolerance.  Bell if you don’t have much…jalapeño if you like it spicier.

1-2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp oregano

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp paprika

1 can diced tomatoes or dice 2 tomatoes of your own if you want more of a fresh taste

1 1/2 cups brown rice

3 cups water

In a large pan with a tight-sealing lid, heat olive oil over low heat

Add onion, pepper and garlic and sauté over low heat for about 5 minutes until onion begins to soften.

Add cumin, oregano, paprika and cayenne and stir with vegetable mixture for about 2 minutes until fully integrated and fragrant

Add rice and stir until covered in spice mixture

Add water, bring mixture to a boil over low heat.

Cover and cook for 30 minutes on low heat.  Do not stir.

Add tomatoes, do not stir them in but let them sit on top of rice mixture, spread out.

Cook an additional 15 minutes or until most of the water has cooked off.

Remove from heat and keep covered for 10 minutes.

Stir in tomatoes and this will fluff the rice at the same time.

Salt if needed and serve.

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Smashed Potatoes

Another one that isn’t mine but is very good.  It’s easy to make but also easy to screw up if you cook them too long.  If done the right way, they are exactly as the recipe explains…crispy on the outside and like a mashed potato in the middle.

Vegetable Minestrone

Needed:

1 large pot or dutch oven

3 tbsp olive oil

1-2 carrots, sliced however you like

1-2 celery stalks sliced

1 small onion chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 jalapeño or pablano pepper, something with a little kick.  (You can leave this out if you’re sensitive to spicy food)

2 small tomatoes, chopped

1-2 tsp oregano

1 tsp basil

6 cups water or veggie stock

1 16oz can tomato sauce

16 or more oz kidney beans

salt/pepper to taste

1 cup pasta

Directions:  Heat large pan or dutch oven over med/low heat.  Add 3 tbsp olive oil and allow to heat for a couple minutes.  Add carrot, onion and celery and sauté for about 5 minutes.

Add garlic, add tomatoes and pepper and sauté for another 5 min or so.

Add oregano, basil, salt and pepper and stir for about 2 min.

Add water or veggie broth and simmer on low heat.  (I like to mix 3 cups water and 3 cups veggie broth in an attempt to not make it so salty.)  Add tomato sauce, cover and cook for about 45 min.

Add kidney beans, cover and cook about another 15 min.

After you have cooked on low heat for an hour, check the carrots for tenderness.  (If they are somewhat soft, you’re ready for the next step.  If not, cook covered another 15 or so minutes and check again.  You can also turn up the heat a little if you want to speed the process.)  Taste the soup at this point and decide if you need to add more salt and pepper.

Assuming the veggies are tender and the flavor is to your liking, add pasta and cook another 10 min or so.  Let cool a bit and serve.

Quick rice or pasta blend

When I’m in a hurry or don’t feel like cooking for hours, I usually use a recipe like this one…

Cook rice or pasta

(meat if you’re a meat eater)

Stir-Fry:

1 carrot

1 celery stalk

1/2-1 onion

1 bell pepper or jalepeno depending on desired spice

1 zucchini

Add a couple tbsp olive oil, carrot, onion and celery in medium fry pan on low-med heat. Cook for about 5-7 min until veggies are slightly tender (I’ve read that it’s not good to eat completely softened vegetables because they lose their nutritional value. As a general rule, I cook until they’re about 1/2 soft.)  Add zucchini and carrot and cook another 3-5 min until zucchini and pepper are softened.  Add salt/pepper to taste.  Add any sauce.  I usually use a chili sauce or teriyaki sauce.  Mix rice/pasta and veggies together and cook another minute or so to absorb the flavor of the sauce.  You can also add the sauce earlier to speed up the softening process of the veggies.  Serve immediately or cool and package for a quick lunch (like I usually have to do)

Pumpkin Spice Bars

Needed: 

4 eggs

2 cups sugar

16oz pumpkin

1 cup veggie oil

2 cups flour

2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1tsp baking soda

3/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp ground cloves (I grind up about 10 cloves in a coffee grinder)

1/2 cup raisins (optional)

1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a large jelly roll pan.  For those of you who don’t know what a jelly roll pan is (like me when I first made these) it’s a baking sheet with 1″ sides on it.  Beat together eggs, sugar, oil and pumpkin. (Side note: these taste much better if you cook your own pumpkin…I will add a recipe for that below.) Mix in flour, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, ginger and cloves.  Mix in raisins (I don’t make them with raisins.)  Pour batter into pan and bake until light brown, about 25-30 min.  Cool, frost with cream cheese frosting (below) Sprinkle with chopped nuts.  Cut into bars any size you like and refrigerate if not eating immediately.

Cooking pumpkin:

Using a serrated knife, cut pumpkin in half.  Scoop out seeds and stringy insides with an ice cream scoop.  Save pumpkin seeds to roast if desired.  You can cook the pumpkin in an oven, stovetop or microwave.  I prefer either oven or stovetop.  Oven: Cut the pumpkin into smaller pieces and put into oven-ready pan with lid. Add 2-3 cups of water to keep pumpkin moist.  Cook at 325 for 45 min to 1 hour.  Check on it after 30 min because all ovens are different.  Stovetop: Using a steamer pan (or rice cooker with a steamer) cut pumpkin into smaller pieces and steam for about 30 min.  Micro: Same as stovetop.  Put in micro for about 15-20 min with 1 cup water added to bowl.  Whatever system you use, when pumpkin has cooled, use a spoon and separate flesh from skin.  Put into mixing bowl and mix for 2-5 min depending on your mixer until you have a pumpkin puree.  Then you’re ready to add the pumpkin to your spice bar or pie or whichever recipe you desire to cook that day.

Cream Cheese Frosting:

Regular style: Mix 3 oz cream cheese (softened), 1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp butter or margarine (softened), and 1 tsp vanilla. Gradually beat in 2 cups powdered sugar until smooth and has a spreadable consistency.

Vegan style: Mix 2/3 cups of vegan cream cheese (tofutti or any other brand) 1 stick of earth balance veggie spread sticks (soften both.) Add 1 tsp vanilla and gradually beat in 2 cups powdered sugar until smooth and has spreadable consistency.

Enjoy!

Red Sauce Recipe:

Needed:

1 small or med carrot

1/2 onion

2 garlic cloves

Red wine

Jalapeno or bell pepper (if you desire a little more kick in your recipe)

Oregano

Basil

Heat 3 tbsp olive oil in saucepan over low heat and add carrot, stirring occasionally for 5 min.

When carrot has softened a bit, add onion, garlic and bell pepper (if desired)  Cook for another 5 min or so until onion has softened

Add about 1/2 cup red wine.  This is subject to personal preference.  If you want more of a wine flavor to your sauce, add more.  Probably no more than a cup.  Stir occasionally and  simmer for another 5-8 min

Add 2 cans tomato sauce, salt and pepper (about 1 tsp pepper, 1/2 tsp salt), oregano (1/2 tsp) and basil (about 1 tsp dried or 1-2 tsp freshly diced.)

Let simmer for about 20 minutes until sauce is bubbling.  At this point, taste the sauce, add more salt/pepper if needed and you’re ready to serve.

I use this sauce for pastas, lasagnas, anything similar.