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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Pesto Portobello Mushroom Burgers

Because good ideas (and good food!) are meant to be shared!

This month's recipe contest theme is "Healthy Sandwiches, Salads, and Snacks."  I already submitted the dill chickpea salad sammies, my cheddar jalapeno BBBs and that oh-so-elegant balsamic apples and arugula salad, but I had more ideas to throw out there!  Unfortunately, while the ideas are plentiful, the free time to do all of the recipe testing is lacking.  But, thanks to a spontaneous trip home, a few willing taste-testers, and the help of my lovely sister, I was finally able to present these babies to my sister and a couple of friends over the weekend and boy, were they a hit!  I can't say that the prep and cooking went exactly as planned, but I am in love with the way these 'shrooms turned out!

Probably these burgers would be amazing cooked on the grill but, well, I don't have a grill.  Or even know how to grill, for that matter.  So, whatever, the stove top worked just fine thankyouverymuch.  I think the flavors of the marinade could be changed up a bit, according to your tastes (more heat, less smoke, etc).  It is also entirely possible that I may have forgotten to write down some of the measurements because I was drinking vodka socializing while preparing the food.  So the following ingredients are a best guess.  But I'm pretty sure it's right.  Almost positive.  It's all about confidence, right???

Let's be honest, you don't have to top the burgers with pesto.  In fact, I'm sure they would be brilliant smothered in BBQ sauce and topped with veggie cheese.  But the truth is, you'd be doing yourself a disservice if you didn't at least try the pesto.  Fresh basil is one of the most amazing foods in the world.  Seriously.  Take advantage of the summer flavors and enjoy!

2 cups vegetable broth
2 tsp liquid smoke
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
Salt and pepper

6 portobello mushrooms, stems removed and gills scraped out with a spoon

2 cups fresh basil
3 tsp chopped garlic
3 Tbsp pine nuts
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
Salt and pepper

12 slices of hearty bread (or 6 burger buns)
Additional toppings: mayo, lettuce, tomato, onion, as desired

In a medium sized bowl, combine broth, liquid smoke, balsamic vinegar, cumin, poultry seasoning, garlic powder, and onion powder.  Stir to mix well.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Arrange the mushrooms in a baking dish (it's OK if they overlap) and pour the marinade over them.  Swish the liquid around to wet all of the mushrooms and let sit for 10 min, flipping the mushrooms over after 10 min. 
While the mushrooms are marinating, prepare the pesto.  In a food processor, combine the basil, garlic, pine nuts, olive oil, and red wine vinegar.  Pulse the ingredients until pine nuts are finely chopped.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
Spray a large frying pan with cooking spray and heat on medium.  Add two mushrooms, pouring 1 Tbsp marinade over each mushroom, and cook 3-5 min on each side, until heated through.  Repeat with remaining mushrooms.
Top each mushroom with pesto and any additional toppings, as desired.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Dilly Chickpea Salad Sandwiches

Because it's picnic time!!!

 I love going on picnics.  There's something so magical about sitting outside, eating sandwiches and drinking wine with someone you're sweet on.  [As long is it isn't too hot, too cold, too buggy, too humid, too windy, too rainy, too early, too late, or marred by any other inconvenience that may be accompanied by "enjoying the great outdoors".]  Lucky for me, I've found a new picnic partner (and the weather was perfect!), so we set off for an evening of sandwiches, salad, cabernet, and good conversation by the lake.

I insisted on offered to make the meal, since I'm a total control freak I had a few good picnic ideas rolling around in the ol' noggin.  Of course my go-to sandwich is chickpea salad.  I changed it up a bit to taste more like a chickpea melt I've had at a restaurant in Grand Rapids that is absolutely to die for (the sandwich and the restaurant, actually).  This meant no pickle relish, fresh herbs, a bit more mayo [Side note: have you ever noticed that most summer salads are made with mayo?  Potato salad, egg salad, tuna salad... other salads.  I'm gonna have to come up with an alternative at some point.  One can only consume so much mayo before jeopardizing one's "girlish figure."].  But really it's very simple and absolutely delicious.  I was also going to post the quinoa salad I made, but, to be honest, it was only OK.  I may tweak the recipe later this summer and share it after I get the flavors and measurements right.  So for now, try out this creamy, dilly sandwich and I promise you'll fall in love.

15 oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup diced celery
2 Tbsp chopped fresh dill weed
1/2 cup vegan mayonnaise (I used Vegenaise original...though I could have gone with the low-fat)
3 Tbsp honey mustard
1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp paprika
Salt and pepper
12 slices multi-grain bread
Romaine lettuce

In a large bowl, mash the chickpeas with a potato masher or a fork until all beans are broken up. Add onion, celery, and dill.  Stir in the mayo, mustard, and vinegar, and mix well.  Sprinkle with paprika and season with salt and pepper, to taste.
*Divide the chickpea salad among six slices of bread.  Top with a leaf of Romaine and another slice of bread.
Serves 6.  (Or two hungry people with leftovers for the week.)

*Let's get serious, I know y'all know how to assemble a friggin' sandwich.  But I also posted this recipe to a contest, and sometimes readers just want you to spell everything out for them.  It's whatever.

Oh yeah, and here are some bonus pics of my picnic view.  I love love love Lake Michigan.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Deanna's Lentil Vegetable Soup

Because it's OK to be a copy-cat sometimes.

You know how some people have a favorite restaurant that serves their favorite dish, and those people will always choose that beloved restaurant when given the option because they know they get to order that killer meal, and they look forward to it all day, and after they eat it they feel all warm and happy inside and know that their lives are now complete?  Yeah?  Well, I have a favorite canned soup that makes me feel that way.  I know, it's weird. But just work with me here.

When I don't have time to cook and I don't have any left-overs in the fridge, and I need something quick to grab for lunch, my favorite thing is Amy's Kitchen soup.  [Does this sound like an endorsement to you? Maybe I should write to them and ask for commission...]  Particularly the lentil vegetable soup.  I don't know what it is about that soup but I am completely in love.  However, at $2.50 a can, and more sodium than I ought to be consuming in one meal (I can eat the whole can in one sitting... and almost always do), I got to thinking that I could probably figure out how to make this soup myself.  So I set to work last week and came up with this.  It's not exactly the same, but it's awfully close and it's still delicious and filling and comforting and super duper simple to make.  That's not to say that I'll never buy the canned stuff again (let's get serious, with my lack of time management skills, I'll find myself starving for soup with not enough time to cook again at some point in my life... probably next week), but  this is a fantastic alternative.

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup green lentils
3 1/2 cups water
2 bay leaves
15 oz can diced tomatoes
1 cup vegetable broth
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
1 lb frozen mixed vegetables
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp molasses
A few drops of liquid smoke, optional
Salt and pepper

Heat the olive oil in a pressure cooker on medium heat.  Add the onion and garlic and saute for about 5 min or until onions are soft.  Add the lentils, water, and bay leaves and fasten the pressure cooker lid.  Turn heat up to high to bring the pot up to pressure.  Reduce heat to medium and cook for about 10 min.  Remove pressure cooker from heat and release the pressure (do this according to the directions for your own device).  Remove lid and return pan to medium high heat.  Add the tomatoes, veg broth, cumin, oregano, and  poultry seasoning, and stir to mix well.  Add in the veggies, balsamic vinegar, molasses, and liquid smoke (if using) and stir it all up.  Cook for another 7-10 min until veggies are cooked through.  Season with salt and pepper, to taste.