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    Vegan Stuffed Shells #SundaySupper


    It’s been way too long since I’ve been able to or had the head to join the Sunday Supper Movement. This week’s theme is Cheesy Dinner Ideas brought to us by Em. In this new(ish) wave of healthier eating, there are more and more vegans and vegetarians following our blogs. While this doesn’t follow the strict definition of cheesy, these stuffed shells are close enough – and delicious enough – for my vegan.

    Learning to adjust one’s culinary brain when one of your children announces they’re a vegan – or even a vegetarian – is not easy. So now there was a vegan AND a vegetarian AND a dyed in the wool carnivore. How is a girl to cope?

    I’ve learned to start with a base – in this case the marinara sauce and the cooked shells – and then split into two meals. In this case, only the stuffing for the shells. Side by side, the Dear One was hard pressed to know which was which. Taste? Not too bad. I think the seller for me with this recipe was the tofu being ground up. I am not a big tofu fan, but bring ground up and mixed with the rest of the yummy ingredients was a game changer.

    There had been a love hate relationship – mostly hate – with Nutritional Yeast. I have to admit that this hate formed without ever tasting it. It turns out it’s full of B vitamins, folic acid, selenium, zinc and protein. Hmmmm …. well, it’s good for you. But the name is so unappealing. I tried it sprinkled on popcorn and I was hooked. I sprinkle it on eggs, have used it in a vegan form of pesto, popcorn … if you haven’t tried, do.

    Scroll to the bottom of my post and stop by the other blogs in this week’s Sunday Supper Movement!

    • 1 t vegetable oil
    • 6  garlic cloves , minced
    • 8 oz. baby spinach
    • 1 t salt
    • 1 vegan egg
    • 2 t Nutritional Yeast
    • 12 oz. Onederful® Tofu, drained
    • cooking spray
    • 12 Jumbo Pasta Shells, cooked
    • 16 oz. Marinara Sauce
    • Canola oil (as needed)

    NOTE: There was no opposition to an egg, so I used a fresh egg. I have used Follow Your Heart vegan eggs with no trouble.

    Pre-Heat over to 400

    Heat a sauce pan over a medium flame and add 1 teaspoon of oil. Add minced garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the spinach and half the salt. Cook until the spinach is wilted.

    Place the sautéed spinach mixture in a strainer so the extra liquid can drip out. Set aside,

    Add the tofu to a food processor and pulse several time to break the tofu down to small crumbles.

    In a large mixing bowl, mix together the crumbled tofu, drained spinach, egg, nutritional yeast and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

    Lightly spray a baking dish with the cooking spray. Pour half the marinara sauce on the bottom.

    Fill the shells with the stuffing mixture. Add shells to the baking dish.

    Pour the rest of the marinara sauce over the shells.

    Bake uncovered for 8 -10 minutes, uncovered.

    Serve immediately.

    Cheesy Dinner Ideas

    Cheesy Appetizers and Sides

    Cheesy Main Courses

    Sunday Supper MovementThe Sunday Supper Movement is committed to bringing our readers delicious recipes that encourage them to gather and eat together around the family table. Search for your favorite ingredients on our Sunday Supper website. Also check out the Sunday Supper Pinterest boards for plenty more ideas and inspiration.

    Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

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    Oven-Roasted Fiddleheads with Capers and Lemon #SundaySupper

    Another Sunday … another Sunday Supper Movement. This week hosted by Christie at A Kitchen Hoor’s Adventures. Stop by and check out her blog … scroll to the bottom and check out all of the Healthy Green Recipes for St. Patrick’s Day.

    I will admit from the outset, that this recipe has been sitting on my to-do list since last spring. I’ve just had a hard time sitting in front of this computer and writing. Seeing this week’s theme jolted me into, Come on, girl, get off yer are and write. So here I am.

    Besides, it’s cold here in Maine. I am longing for springtime. Remembering this recipe and the lovely spring day I found these green beauties makes me warm and happy. Perhaps by you, the little fiddleheads are pushing through the ground as you read.

    Fiddleheads are the young unfurled fronds of ferns that pop their little heads out of the ground in the spring. Usually an Ostrich Fern. You harvest them in the spring before they unfurl and are close to the ground. This involves a lot of tramping around – well, treading lightly around the woods, peering on the ground for these little prized gems. Usually under or near trees, so they’re in a cool-ish, damp-ish place. You cut close to the ground and try not to take too many from the same cluster so as not to kill the fern – we’ll want more next year, right?

    They are high in omega- 3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and high in iron and fiber and potassium.

    They are fiddly to clean – hahaha, get it? Fiddleheads? Fiddly? – oh, I crack myself up. Cutting off the bottom, peeling the brown papery stuff and soaking, and soaking, and soaking.

    But once soaked they look like this:

    Cool, right? And a little weird.

    I wanted the preparation method to be light as the flavor of the Fiddlehead is delicate. They taste like spring-time, a little grassy, a little nutty, a bit like an asparagus. and I think a bit like an artichoke.

    • cups fiddleheads
    • tablespoons capers
    • tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    • tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
    • 1/4teaspoon sea salt
    • 1-2 thin lemon slices

    NOTE: I left the capers out. Someone here has an issue with capers. I’m not quite sure what or shy, but for marital harmony, I left them out.

    Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

    Wash fiddleheads thoroughly, in at least 2-3 changes of water. Trim away any brown, woody ends of fiddlehead stems.

    Bring a medium pot of water to a boil and blanch fiddleheads for 5 minutes. Drain and plunge into an ice water bath to stop cooking.

    Drain thoroughly and toss with lemon juice, olive oil, capers, salt and lemon slices.

    Spread onto a parchment lined baking sheet and roast for 8-12 minutes, until lightly browned and crisp around the edges.

    Healthy Green Foods for St. Patrick’s Day

    Healthy Green Main Meals

    Super Green Side Dishes

    Sunday Supper MovementThe Sunday Supper Movement is committed to bringing our readers delicious recipes that encourage them to gather and eat together around the family table. Search for your favorite ingredients on our Sunday Supper website. Also check out the Sunday Supper Pinterest boards for plenty more ideas and inspiration.

    Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

    Caramel Brownies

    Brownies.

    I love brownies.

    I’m not much of a sweet tooth person, but I am a total sucker for a good brownie. Tell me I can make brownies  in a small batch and you’ve won me completely.

    Most of my brownie recipes call for an 8×8 pan, so to me these aren’t really small batch, but still totally worth it.

    I am totally addicted to Dessert for Two … not just desserts, but dinners for two as well. With just the Dear One and I at home these days, I always have a hard time cooking for just two people. Christina is the solution for everything … desserts, mains, drinks, cookies! It’s all there!

    We invited our dear friend Dave for dinner and while dessert isn’t usually on the menu, one of the dear daughters brought chocolates, lots of chocolates to the house. One of the selections was Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate & Sea Salt Caramel squares. The stars aligned. Tonight we needed dessert and this had to be the one.

    • 10 T unsalted butter, diced
    • 1 1/4 C granulated sugar
    • 3/4 C + 2 T unsweetened cocoa powder
    • 1 1/2 t vanilla extract
    • 1/2 t espresso powder
    • 1/4 t salt
    • 2 large eggs
    • 1/2 C all-purpose flour
    • 9 caramel-filled chocolates

    NOTE: I used Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate & Salted Caramel squares.

    Preheat the oven to 325, and make sure an oven rack is in the lower third of the oven.

    Line a 8×8-inch square baking pan with parchment paper in two directions, overlapping. Leave enough excess to make handles so it’s easier to pull the brownies out once they’re baked.

    NOTE: My parchment paper is really wide, so I just used one piece and tucked it in. I always find it hard to keep the paper in place and those large metal clips do the trick.

    Next, in a large bowl, combine the butter, sugar and cocoa powder.

    Microwave for 30 seconds, stop and stir, and microwave for another 30 seconds. The mixture will be quite hot.

    NOTE: So we don’t have a microwave. I know. I know. I’ve been living int he woods for far too long. But when someone who will remain nameless put something with metal in the microwave, she did us a favor. We really only use it to start potatoes and melt butter. Why take up all the cabinet or counter space? I did this on the stove top and it was fine.

    Let the mixture rest on the counter for a few minutes to cool, stirring occasionally.

    When the mixture feels warm, not hot, stir in the vanilla, espresso powder and salt. Finally, stir in the eggs.

    Add the flour to the batter, and using a spatula, vigorously stir the mixture for 50 strokes. This activates the gluten and makes for a rich, chewy brownies.

    Spread the batter into the prepared pan evenly.

    Bake for 23-26 minutes, until the top is dry.

    Unwrap the squares while the brownies are still hot, and press into the top of the brownies evenly. Slice and serve.

    Cannoli

     

    One of the best things about the job I started last summer are all the new friends I have made. Don’t get me wrong, there have been some real clunkers, but that happens everywhere, every day, with any job. We won’t dwell on them.

    But, take M&J. Starts off just silly giggles while working to take some of the stress away, a lot of guidance and support and suddenly … BAMMO … you’ve realized just how much you like these folks, realized that this should be more than just a work friendship.

    Dinner invitations go back and forth … lots of laughs … lots of wine … lots of good food.

    One last dinner before we all take off for the holidays? Oh, yes, please! M&J were heading to Viet Nam (so jealous!), the Dear One to Antarctica and me to New York to see my dearly missed parents, siblings and friends.

    What to make, though? I need to show off my culinary chops a little bit, right? The rub is, the Dear One and I were flying out the next morning, not returning – well, me the beginning of the New Year and the Dear One WAY TOO LONG AFTER THAT!!

    One pot, easy cleanup, great to freeze if there are leftovers – Iron Skillet Roasted Chicken with White Beans and Tomatoes, a favorite easy go-to of mine.

    With a really easy dinner, I wanted to get a little nutty with dessert. It can’t be a lot – no leftovers, and no one has a huge sweet tooth. I needed inspiration. None was forthcoming.

    Suddenly, while walking around Hanford’s, there in front of my was my answer! Ferrara cannoli shells! All cooked and ready for filling with whatever your heart desired! This was the answer!

    I buy them and bring them home. I stood staring at them, slightly disappointed. They were perfectly fine. But … well, they just looked too plain to me. If you’re going to go through all the trouble of making a fabulous filling, why not dress up the shells a bit!

    I melted some chocolate, dipped the edges on each end in the chocolate and then dipped them in chopped pistachios.

    The result, was pretty elegant! Well, at least I thought so!

    And before we get to the recipe, just a little pet peeve of mine – and the pet peeve of most Italians I know. Cannoli is plural. Cannolis is not a word. The singular would be Cannolo, not that anybody would know what you were talking about in most places. You wouldn’t say mooses, or mouses, or shrimps, or sheeps … you get the picture. Just remember the Godfather, “leave the gun, take the cannoli.”

    Now that my shells are fabulous, I need a fabulous cream.

    • 2 C fresh ricotta
    • 2/3 C granulated sugar
    • 1/4 t ground cinnamon
    • 1/3 C mini semi-sweet chocolate chips

    NOTE: No time? Buy the best ricotta you can find and drain it a bit. I also added a tiny bit or lemon zest to just brighten it up.

    I tried to be fancy and use a star tip to pipe in the cream. The chips kept getting stuck. Into a ziplock the filling went, cut off the tip, and off we went. You want to try and fill them halfway on each side so there isn’t a space in the middle with cannoli shell and no filling.

    Fill them just before sitting down to dinner. Much before that and the shells will begin to get soggy.

    Delizioso! Divertiti!

    The Aviation Cocktail

    It’s SPRING-time, SPRING-time! Finally, SPRING-time.

    SPRING-time calls for pretty things, a flowers, and budding trees, and lovely purple cocktails!

    The Aviation became a cult favorite in 1916 when it first appeared in “Recipes for Mixed Drinks”, by Hugo Ensslin, head bartender at Times Square’s Hotel Wallick. Ensslin’s original formula called for the drink to include crème de violette, as I have here, which tints the drink this lovely color.

    The Aviation also appears Harry Craddock’s “Savoy Cocktail Book” from 1930 where you find a version of the Aviation without the crème de violate – but what would be the point of that!?

    I used an Amarena Cherry as garnish, but a maraschino cherry or a lemon twist would work just as well.

    Try it, the doldrums of winter will slowly slough off and you’ll be doing a happy spring dance!

    • 2 ozs gin
    • 3/4 oz maraschino liqueur
    • 1/4 oz creme de violette
    • 1/2 oz fresh lemon juice

    Shake with ice.

    Strain.

    Garnish with a cherry or a lemon twist.

    Pretty!

    Balsamic Roasted Carrots

    It starts to be that time of year. Fresh vegetables start to appear. Carrots grown in the greenhouse over winter pop up and are ready to eat.

    I wish I could say these were my carrots, but alas, we planted nothing for over winter in the greenhouse this year. These are local and fabulous.

    I love roasting carrots; it really bring out their sweetness. Tossing them with balsamic and garlic … well, woweeeeee! I made these one night we had a bunch of people over. Another of those situations, where 4 turns into 6 which turns into 8 and finally stops the train at 10! Fortunately, the Dear One must have been Italian in a past life as he will always opt for erring on the side of too much food. Well, except these carrots. I made a 1 1/2 times this recipe and there wasn’t a single carrot left!

    • 24 thin carrots, tops trimmed to 2 inches (or cut thicker ones in half)
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
    • 5 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
    • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
    • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
    • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves (additional shopped for garnish)

    Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly oil a baking sheet or coat with nonstick spray.

    Place carrots in a single layer onto the prepared baking sheet.

    NOTE: Some that seemed too wide I cut in half. Slender baby carrots would be perfect for this.

    Mix next 7 ingredients in a bowl.

    Pour over carrots and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat all carrots.

    Into oven and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until tender.

    Serve immediately, garnish with chopped parsley.

    PLT #FantasticalFoodFight

    While tip-toeing through the internet, I came across Fantastical Food Fight. And, while I’m REALLY bad at timed anything, this really intrigued me. A dish is picked, make your own version, compare. I liked that.

    And April’s theme … the BLT! Not that I think there’s anything you can do to a BLT to improve it. Bacon, mayonnaise, bacon, lettuce, bacon, tomatoes, bacon, bread. But perhaps, just perhaps, there is another way to have a BLT.

    Crispy pancetta, arugula and sun-dried tomatoes, some olive oil and balsamic vinegar, all tucked inside a ciabatta roll. Well, that works for me.

    The arugula is from our garden. The sun-dried tomatoes too – the last jar from last summer.

    You may find this shocking, but there really isn’t a recipe for this.

    • Ciabatta roll or loaf
    • Thinly sliced pancetta or prosciutto
    • Arugula
    • Sun-dried tomatoes

    Heat oven to 425.

    On a baking sheet, make a single layer of the pancetta or prosciutto. Should take about 10 – 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

    Pile everything onto the ciabatta.

    Drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. (I suggest a balsamic glaze or reduction)

    DIG IN!