Tag Archives: vegan

Garbanzo “Meatballs” with Spaghetti Squash

I take the same route to drop my son off at preschool every morning.  Some days I consider going a different way just to make the synapses in my brain do something different (and no, I have no idea if that is what synapses actually do).  But I usually go the same way, making the same familiar turns, crossing the main roads at easier intersections with less traffic.  Something that you only do after you have lived in a town for many, many years.  I sneak through the alley ways and the back streets.  The car drives itself.

Along my way, I see the beautiful elderly woman walking her little yippy dog.  In my estimation, she doesn’t belong here.  She wears large Jackie O style glasses and is dressed impeccably for her morning walk.  This morning she had on a bright blue oxford shirt with a hot pink, tailored jacket.  Her dog is often dressed as nicely as she is.  She walks everywhere, but it seems like she should occupy the streets of the Upper East Side instead of this small town.  One day I saw her near my daughter’s school without her dog and with her hand bandaged.  I imagined what had happened and worried about her for a day or two, after which I thankfully saw her walking with her dog again.  She is always otherwise alone.

When my daughter was in daycare and I was still working, every morning we would drive past the high school on our way to her school.  Every day we saw a man walking with a newspaper that he bought at the grocery store down the street.  The weather never mattered.  If it were raining, he’d carry it in a bag.  If it were sunny, he’d hold it under his arm.  My two year old daughter affectionately called him “newspaper man” every time we’d pass.  Then our route changed.  I quit my job and he was no longer on our morning agenda.  We saw him the other day walking far from his normal route.  At 10, she still remembered him.

Yesterday, while I was walking in my neighborhood, I passed a very elderly woman slowly strolling arm-in-arm with a much younger caregiver.  I have never actually passed her while walking on the street — only by car. My earliest memories of her (from years ago) are walking while holding hands with her very elderly husband. I always noticed because I wondered whether my husband and I would still want to hold hands at that age. Was it because they were still in love or was it simply to steady each other?  One day I saw her walking and he was absent.  For the first few days I imagined he might be ill.  She needed fresh air.  I’ve never seen him again.  Yesterday, I wanted to look her in the eyes and tell her that I was sorry for her loss.

I turned 40 last week.  I just noticed that my uncle is turning 70 in a few days.  He was 30 when I was born. I was 25 when my nephew was born.  My brain furiously calculates numbers that it should ignore.  Subtractions, additions, comparisons.  I’ll be this when that.

Mid-life crisis seems too cliché.  Too self indulgent.

But I’m post-babies who need moment-to-moment care.  I have no career to speak of, having abandoned it so I could perform that moment-to-moment care.  I’m walking the same streets and I don’t know whether to rejoice in the routine or scream out loud in panic.

Garbanzo “Meatballs” with Spaghetti Squash

Makes 15 meatballs

10 ounces of green garbanzos (available at our Wegman’s in the organic frozen foods.  Could also use edamame.)
3-4 cloves of garlic
2 teaspoons italian seasoning
1 teaspoon dried fennel seeds
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup crushed rice cereal (Brown Rice Krispies or Rice Chex style cereal)
2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil or parsley
1/4 cup olive oil, plus one tablespoon
4 tablespoons marinara sauce
1 medium spaghetti squash
Additional Marinara Sauce

1.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

2.  Split spaghetti squash lengthwise and remove seeds.  Rub cut surface with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Place it cut side down in a baking pan and bake for about 45 minutes until it is tender and a knife pierces it easily.

3.  Meanwhile, combine the garbanzos, garlic, italian seasoning, fennel, salt and pepper, and olive oil in the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse about five times.  You want to leave a lot of texture to it.

4.  Remove garbanzo mixture to a bowl and stir in crushed rice cereal, 4 T marinara sauce, and 1 T of additional olive oil (if necessary to hold the mixture together).  Season with additional salt and pepper or spices to taste.  Stir in fresh basil or parsley.

5.  Form garbanzo mixture into meatball shapes and bake for about 12-15 minutes on the bottom rack of the oven (that gives them a little “crust”). (You can also make these ahead of time and chill in the refrigerator.)

6.  When spaghetti squash is finished, use a fork to scrape the strands into a bowl.  Toss with a bit of olive, salt and pepper, and additional fresh herbs if you like.  Serve the squash with a few garbanzo meatballs and marinara sauce.



Green Coconut Curry with Chick Peas

You probably don’t want to read a food related post that starts out talking about snow and phlegm and pink eye, but here we are.  I’ve been trying to finish up the first 7 of the Cuizoo Arsenal and I’ve been rather hemmed in by snow days (2 in one week) and sick days (too many to count).  My four year old has had this crazy virus that has gone from fever to cough to congestion to earache to conjunctivitis.  And every day, I think he is feeling better — and then he develops another symptom (I hear from friends that hives are the next step!).  Today the eye goop cleared up in one eye only to pop up in the other eye tonight.  And, oh great!  As I type, my daughter tells me that she has a sore throat.  It is the only time of the year that I want to throw away my earth-friendly cleaners and buy a case of Lysol.

But I promised a curry recipe, and so I deliver.  I ended up making this with only pantry ingredients (who wants to introduce grocery store germs into the mix?) and eating it by myself because of a traveling husband, a sick son, and an uninterested daughter.  I really enjoyed it — but that might have been because of the two glasses of wine (what I call my “coping medicine”).  FYI … the shitty part of sick kids is that you can’t even invite anyone over for dinner to combat your housebound loneliness.  “Hey, wanna come over for a curry and a guaranteed case of pink eye?”

Anyway.  Curries fall into the category of totally flexible and easy and cheap weeknight meals.  Lentils (or in this case, garbanzos) or Tofu are perfect for vegetarian options — but any kind of meat or seafood protein works equally well.  Vegetables can be anything that you have on hand, provided that you have a nice amount of ginger and garlic.  If you don’t have coconut milk and Thai curry paste (which take you in the Thai Curry direction), you can go the Indian Curry route and use a good quality Indian/Madras curry powder and garam masala with some broth or water.  Serve it over rice if you like — or without rice and thick like a stew, or thinned out as a soup.  I should add that I made my own easy (and not spicy for the kids) pantry version of a Thai green curry paste because most of the prepared varieties have peanut or nut products in them (we are nut allergic here).  But if you have a prepared red or green curry paste that you like, feel free to use it to make this dish even more simple.

So, give it a whirl.  And wish me luck getting everyone healthy.  We have a warm weather vacation scheduled and I am sure that warm sun and boat drinks are truly the best disinfectants.

Green Coconut Curry with Chick Peas

Serves 4-6

1 1/2 cups dried chick peas (or 2-3 cans of chick peas)
2 small red onions
2 large sweet potatoes
1 cup of mushrooms
3 cups of shredded cabbage or spinach
4 cloves garlic
2 inch piece of fresh ginger
Zest and juice of one lime (plus additional wedges for serving)
1/2 t salt
1/2 t white pepper
1/2 t cumin
1/2 t coriander
15 ounce can of unsweetened coconut milk
1 T soy sauce or fish sauce
1 cup, plus 3 T fresh cilantro (packed)
1/4 cup of unsweetened coconut
1/4 cup of pumpkin seeds (or other nuts/seeds)
Olive oil

1.  If using dried chick peas, rinse them and place in a medium sauce pan or stock pot.  Cover with plenty of water, bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer for 60-90 minutes until tender.  (You can also do a long soak method or skip this step if using canned.)

2.  Make Green Curry Paste by roughly chopping garlic and ginger.  Put in the bowl of a food processor or blender.  Add zest and juice of lime, salt, white pepper, cumin, coriander, 2 T of the coconut milk, soy or fish sauce, and 1 cup of the fresh cilantro.  Process until very smooth and set aside.

3.  Peel and chop the onions.  Peel and chop the sweet potatoes into approximately 1/2 inch cubes.  Stem and slice the mushrooms.  Shred the cabbage or spinach.

4.  When chick peas are done (or whenever if they are canned), strain them and set aside.

5.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.  In a stock pot, heat a bit of olive oil over medium heat.  Saute the onion for 3-5 minutes. Add sweet potato cubes, chick peas, and all of the Green Curry Paste you made previously.  Stir in remainder of coconut milk from the can, plus about 3/4 cup of water.  Cover and cook about 20 minutes over medium low heat until everything is tender.

6.   Meanwhile, roughly chop the pumpkin seeds and place on a baking sheet.  Toast in a preheated oven for about 10 minutes.  With about five minutes remaining, add the coconut and toast both pumpkin seeds and coconut until golden.  (Watch the coconut especially so it doesn’t burn.)  Remove and set aside.

7.  When the curry mixture is basically done, add in sliced mushrooms, shredded cabbage or spinach, and about 3/4 cup of additional water (less if you don’t want as much “broth”). Let cook, uncovered, for another 5-10 minutes until everything is tender and the sauce is reduced a bit.  Season to taste with additional salt and pepper and feel free to season with chiles to make it spicier.

8.  Serve in large bowls (over rice if you like) with additional chopped cilantro, wedges of lime, and the toasted coconut/pumpkin seed mixture sprinkled on top.

Almost Vegan Whole Grain Apple Dumplings

So, last week we were fortunate enough to be among the Pennsylvania residents who received the earliest October snowfall on record.  And not only did we end up with about 5 inches of snow (a day or so after our first frost of the season), we had major trees down and power outages because of the weight of the snow on the tree leaves.


Luckily, we were only without power for about eight hours (many were without for three days or more).  By the evening, all we had to do was enjoy the fireplace and some impromptu company for a snow day dinner.  Did I forget to mention that school was even cancelled?  Nothing like recording your first snow day in mid October.

Because I am a lazy, lazy woman, I refused to go out of the house to pick up any ingredients to make dessert.  And I quickly realized that I was completely out of butter.  This does not generally make for a very good dessert.  I improvised with coconut oil and pretended it was because I was trying to be healthier.  The rest of the ingredients were luckily sitting around — apples, apple cider, and some basic staples.  I call these dumplings “almost vegan” because I made them with honey and cow’s milk — which are clearly not vegan (although some vegans debate the use of honey).  However, you could easily substitute those ingredients with agave nectar or sugar for the honey and soy milk or your choice of milk substitute.


And if you are in no mood to be healthy, you could reverse engineer them with butter.  Especially if you don’t have to put boots on to go get it.  I would say that the one thing you wouldn’t want to change is the freshly ground cinnamon and nutmeg — you will not believe the difference.  I have a coffee grinder that I use exclusively for “sweet” spices and the end result is unlike anything you have ever tasted pre-ground.


Almost Vegan Whole Grain Apple Dumplings

Serves 8-10

For the apple mixture:
4 apples (I used a softer baking apple, but any will do), peeled, cored, and chopped into 1/2 inch chunks
1/2 cup honey or agave nectar
3 T coconut oil, melted
1 cinnamon stick (or 1 t pre-ground), freshly ground in a spice grinder
1 small piece of whole nutmeg (or 1 t pre-ground), freshly ground in a spice grinder
1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs

For the pastry:
4 cups whole wheat pastry flour
4 t baking powder
3/4 t salt
3/4 cup coconut oil, at room temperature or chilled (in a hardened state)
1/3 cup honey or agave nectar
1 cup milk (can easily substitute with soy milk, etc.)

For the sauce:
1 3/4 cups apple cider
1 cup honey or agave nectar

Plus additional milk for brushing tops of dumplings

1.  Make the apple mixture by combining the 1/2 cup of honey and 3 T of melted coconut oil.  Toss with chopped apples and combine with cinnamon, nutmeg, and breadcrumbs.  Set aside.

2.  Make the pastry by placing pastry flour, baking powder, and salt in a a food processor.  Pulse a few times.  Add in 3/4 cup of coconut oil and process until it looks like a fine meal, with no large lumps of coconut oil remaining.  Add in honey and milk and pulse until just combined.  Turn out onto a piece of parchment paper and knead a few times until it comes together as dough.  (It will feel a bit like cookie dough — it is somewhat fragile.)

3.  Make sauce by combining apple cider and 1 cup of honey in a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and let cook for about 3-5 minutes until slightly thickened.

4.  Preheat oven to 425 F.  Flatten pastry dough into a square shape and gently roll out (leaving it on the parchment paper) into about a 12 inch by 12 inch square.  It should be about 1/2 inch thick.  Cut that square into 9 smaller squares (a 3×3 matrix).

5.  To assemble a dumpling:  take one pastry square, flatten it a bit more, and place about 1/3 cup of the apple mixture in the center of the square.  Bring each corner of the pastry square over top the apples to the center.  Place the dumpling into the palm of your hand to firm up any cracks on the bottom and seal the dough to the top of the apples.  Repeat with remaining dough and apples.

6.  Place dumplings into a greased baking pan (I used a 11×14 pyrex), leaving a little space between them.  Brush the tops of the dumplings with milk.  (Can refrigerate at this point until ready to bake and serve.)

7.  When ready to bake (you will want to serve them somewhat warm), pour apple cider sauce around the base of the dumplings.  Bake at 425 F for 20-25 minutes until golden and the sauce is bubbly and nicely absorbed into the dumplings.  Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.

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