the only cleanse you will ever need!

Lemonade Cleanse, Master Cleanse, Juice Cleanse, Detox Cleanse, Smoothie Cleanse, Raw Food Cleanse, Fasting Cleanse……the list is long and painful to navigate. Which is the right cleanse for you, you may have wondered from time to time, and perhaps have even followed the road down the path of one or more of these diets.

So, why do we subject ourselves to these regiments? Why put ourselves through weeks of relative torture? What are the benefits?  Most of the time, we cleanse because we are feeling tired, run-down, lethargic, foggy, slow and burdened by one thing or another. Maybe the environment we live in or the foods we consume has our plumbing bogged down and we need a roto-rooter, of a sort, to get things moving again.

Very recently, I, too, felt these familiar and most unwelcome side-effects of living and, I, too, wondered how to fix my plumbing. But the more I thought about it, the more it occurred to me that my entire LIFE needed an overhaul, not just my body. What now, I thought? Was there a cleanse for this type of massive spring cleaning? I was crestfallen at the prospect of finding just the right cleanse. I felt doomed to this life of mediocrity and eternal blah-ness.

I felt stuck and hopeless.

Then magic came through the wires of my dial-up and right into my e-mail box: The Taco Cleanse (Amazon, B&N).

I had heard rumors about this miracle cleanse through the air-waves of Vegan Month of Food in 2013, but I didn’t feel the massive oppression in my life then as I had of late and, therefore, just ignored the titillation that surrounded the Taco Cleanse. But now, I recognized that I NEEDED THIS CLEANSE.

I received the book a few weeks ago and immediately dove in.




The first thing the authors presented was an easy self-diagnosis of symptoms to see if, indeed, the Taco Cleanse was for me. Pointed questions, such as “Do I get hungry on a daily basis?” {YES!} “Do you experience a range of emotions? {BOY, DO I EVER!}. Bottom line was, I needed this cleanse!

Then I dove into the research that was presented by the esteemed Taco Scientists. The wealth of knowledge had my head spinning, but I knew that I was on the right track! Taco Cleanse was for me!

Very helpfully, the authors provided a week’s plan for the tacos that I needed to consume right off the boat. Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner and Supplement were suggested. I especially enjoyed the Supplement aspect of the cleanse -- such delicious and nutritious elixirs as Avocado Margarita and Everyday Mexican Martini had me sleeping like a baby, something that was sorely lacking during these last few years of my life.

Now that I have been on The Taco Cleanse for more than a few weeks, I have decided to delve further into the book and begin the author’s Life-long Recommendations to further enhance my life using the beneficial flora and fauna of The Taco Cleanse. This includes Taco Yoga, Taco Salutations, Taco Mudras and Planting a Taco Garden.

I have been feeling TACO times better as of late. My energy has been returned TACO fold times and I feel exuberant and joyous at last!

I want to spread the Taco Love far and wide and give everyone the opportunity to partake in the Taco Cleanse, should you be experiencing any of the symptoms I mentioned above. Here is a run-down of one of my days on the cleanse, to show you how well-fed, delicious and decidedly un-cleanse like this cleanse is. Below is an excerpt from my Taco Journal (which the authors whole-heartedly recommend keeping).


December 7, 2015

7 AM
I wake up, feed the kitties, shower and launch into Taco Yoga and Taco Meditation. 

7:30 AM
It’s going to be a fine day; I can already tell!

8 AM
I head downstairs, prepare my daily schedule, drink a cup of tea and prepare my first taco of the day. This morning I decide on the Supreme Bacon, Scramble and Cheese Breakfast Taco. The authors mention to keep it simple and adhere only to the mentioned ingredients in your taco. Difficult to do as I like to add a bunch of toppings; we’ll see!





8:40 AM
I followed directions and they are right (as usual!) and the taco starts my cleanse off on the right hand (you use your hand to eat tacos, folks). I prepared the bacon and the scramble mixture the night before, so this taco took about 20 minutes to cook and assemble. Yum.

10 AM
I spent the last hour planning my Spring Taco Garden. The authors are right again! So much peace and contentment it is to plan the growing of my future food. I’ve ordered some organic seeds for the spring and can’t wait to begin getting dirt under my fingernails. Hmm. That’s making me hungry. I’m going to need a taco soon!

Noon
At last, taco time! For lunch I decide on Frito Pie Tacos. I don’t know what it is about it, but the crunch from the Frito chips sounds really appealing. I think my body is missing in the nutrient “crunch” and I feel the need to oblige it. Incredible that this cleanse even accommodates the crunch factor! 




12:40 PM
This particular taco was supremely satisfying and so, so delicious! Yum and Crunch!

3 PM
After working on my next book, I decide to take a well-deserved break, but I can’t think of what to do! So I pick up my trusty Cleanse book and discover the Taco Crossword in the back! Serendipity! 

3:15 PM
I decided that this was a great way to test how far I had come on my taco cleanse. Educational and Fun. What a relaxing way to spend some time.

5 PM
Grumble, grumble. Tummy is asking for another taco. The possibilities are endless in this taco manual, and after some searching and salivating, I decide on the Infinite Fish Taco





5:40 PM
I salted my cabbage, made the slaw and fried up some tofu and threw this easy taco together in no time. In fact, it was ready just in time, as my taco alarm was going off and I needed to supplement with tacos as soon as possible. Truly worth the wait, however, and my taco-senses stopped tingling. 

7 PM 
At this time of night, I like to focus my taco energy and therefore indulge in a half hour of Taco Mudras. Again, the Taco Mudras guide is available in this manual that is dubbed The Taco Cleanse. Thank goodness!

7:30 PM
Normally, after the mudras I like to indulge in a detoxing libation, such as Mind-Limbering Michelada (it does wonders in helping me sleep!), but on this eventide, I have the inexplicable hankering for another taco! Luckily, the taco scientists address this issue, and instruct us to give into the cravings no matter what time of day or night, so, I am throwing caution to the wind and going downstairs to whip up a Tater Tot-cho Taco




8:15 PM
This hit the spot! It might not be a delightful brew, but definitely an indulgence that was not really an indulgence at all, but more like a mind-blowing necessity! I am going to sleep like a kitten tonight!



There, see?! The Cleanse has done wonders in my life and I am sure it can do the same for you! The delightful authors (Wes Allison, Stephanie Bogdanich, Molly Frisinger and Jessica Morris) and their delightful publisher (The Experiment) have given me the permission to publish a taco recipe from The Taco Cleanse (and what better way to start than with a breakfast taco – although, as the taco scientists point out, breakfast tacos are meant to be eaten at any time of day!)

Not only that, but I have a copy of The Taco Cleanse up for grabs! To enter for your chance to win just leave a comment telling me why you think The Taco Cleanse would help you. If you like me on Facebook or Follow me on Twitter, leave a SECOND comment for another chance to win! Easy as vegan tacos!

Contest ends on Monday, December 21, Midnight. Contest open to US and Canadian residents, courtesy of The Experiment publishing.

All the best and luck to everyone!


Photo Credit: Stephanie Bogdanich







Mighty Migas

What started out as a way to use up leftover corn tortillas has become a staple of brunch tables. Migas tacos are transformational because they contain two superfoods: corn and flour tortillas. If you’ve been afflicted with collywobbles or gripe, try eating at least one migas taco a week. Because your homemade corn tortillas are probably too delicious to leave any leftovers, tortilla chips stand in here.

·         1 tablespoon cooking oil
·         ½ cup (70 g) chopped onion
·         1 jalapeno, sliced into rings
·         14 to 18 ounces (397 to 454 g) firm tofu, drained
·         1 teaspoon salt
·         ½ teaspoon ground cumin
·         1/8 teaspoon black pepper
·         1 cup (37 g) crumbled tortilla chips
·         1 cup (170 g) seeded, chopped tomato
·         ¼ cup (15 g) nutritional yeast
·         ¼ cup (60 ml) unsweetened plant milk or water
·         ½ cup (48 g) vegan cheddar, optional
·         8 Flour Tortillas

Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion and jalapeño for 2 minutes, or until the onion starts to soften. Crumble the tofu into the pan and sprinkle with the salt, cumin, and pepper. Cook until the tofu is dry and browned on at least one side, about 10 minutes. Try not to stir too often as this prevents browning. Add the rest of the ingredients, including the cheese if you’re using it, and stir thoroughly. Cook until the tomato softens and the liquid is completely absorbed. Serve in the flour tortillas.


Credit line: Recipe from The Taco Cleanse: The Tortilla-Based Diet Proven to Change Your Life, copyright ©Wes Allison, Stephanie Bogdanich, Molly R. Frisinger, Jessica Morris, 2015. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, The Experiment. Available wherever books are sold. theexperimentpublishing.com


"BOWLS!" by becky striepe




As you may know, I'm pretty big into bowl meals  ------->
as evidenced by my having written a whole cookbook on the subject!

However, right before my book, Vegan Bowls (AmazonB&N), was published, another wonderful vegan author came out with her own version of the epic meal in everyone's favorite vessel: BOWLS! (Link)

If you aren't familiar with Becky Striepe, she is the author and creator of the popular Glue and Glitter site and the author of the e-book 40 Days of Vegan Smoothies (Link).

When my book came out, Becky noticed the strong resemblance regarding the topic of our books and contacted me. Becky reviewed my book (HERE) and I'm reviewing hers now. After all, what better way to get a feel of the similarities and differences of two books so related than from the authors themselves?




In order to get a good feel of Becky's book, I decided to make a few dishes. As the title of BOWLS! indicates, Becky's book is extensive in the "mix-and-match" department. She devotes a whole chapter to just sauces and a whole chapter to just layers that you can make to assemble a delicious bowl.




Not that Becky doesn't provide stand alone recipes; there are 18 complete bowl recipes, ranging from breakfasts, to soups, to lunches and suppers, such as Roasted Veggie Bowl with Tahini-Miso Sauce and Peanut Butter Tofu Bowl.




All in all, all the bowls I made were tasty and very simple and easy to prepare. I believe the biggest asset of this book is the simplicity of the recipes and Becky's writing style. Her directions are easy to follow and she doesn't mince words.

The family enjoyed everything I made from BOWLS! and I did, too! Overall, a very nice cookbook, one that would please anyone in the mood for a delicious bowl of food.




Since I'm quite late to this party (Becky published it in August of 2014), there have been other wonderful bloggers who have sung the praises of BOWLS!

Vegan Richa - Peanut Butter Tofu Bowl
Canned Time - Southern Style Grits
A Cook in the Making - Chai Spice Oatmeal
Cadry's Kitchen - Ginger Sesame Kale
An Unrefined Vegan - review

Nevertheless, Becky has graceously offered a 10% discount for either BOWLS! paperback, e-book, or 40 Days of Vegan Smoothies. Becky self-published this book, which is quite the feat, I must say, as I work with a publisher and it is still very challenging! To get the 10% off any of her books, use the code ZSU10 when checking out. (Link to Becky's books.)


Photos of book courtesy of Becky Striepe

"jazzy vegetarian classics" + "vegan bowls" giveaway

Earlier this week I was interviewed by the fabulous Laura Theodore, television cooking show host extraordinaire, radio personality, singer and author of the brand new, amazing cookbook Vegan-ease. I wanted to post this with a recipe, but, as more often than not, life gets in the way and I ran out of time.

However, I did not want you all to miss this wonderful opportunity to enter this giveaway: Laura and I have teamed up and we are giving away TWO cookbooks, her Jazzy Vegetarian Classics (Amazon, B&N) AND my Vegan Bowls (Amazon, B&N).




Isn't that sweet?!? And to enter couldn't be easier! Go to Laura's Jazzy Vegetarian site (HERE) and leave a comment (read the instructions first, of course). Laura will announce the winner on her show THIS WEDNESDAY, and the contest ends MONDAY at 6 PM Eastern time. You've not a moment to lose!!

After you enter the contest, come back here to hear Laura and me discuss bowls and flavors and cooking. Laura is an amazingly fun radio host and if you haven't already, add her podcasts to your list of "must listen to." The shows are fun, funny, insightful and very interesting.

Take a listen below:







spicy noodles with peanut sauce




After reading many of the comments that folks left about what their favorite bowl meals are, I felt the inexplicable need to make one that seems to be a particular favorite among the crowd - bowls with peanut sauce.

While I've dabbled in the nutty concoction before, I haven't posted it to the blog - a huge oversight on my part!




At first I wanted to add coconut milk to the sauce, but then - with the addition of peanut butter and, (what I think is a great idea), the addition of red curry paste (more on that later), it became too much like Thai Panang Curry (recipe HERE).

So, I kept it simple, at 9 ingredients. The red curry paste (available in grocery stores, though watch out for fish or shrimp in the curry) is an easy recipe in my new book, Vegan Bowls (AmazonB&N). Red curry paste typically includes garlic and ginger and, therefore, omits the need to add those ingredients to the peanut sauce. Of course, if you don't have red curry paste, simply add garlic, ginger and red chili flakes to the sauce, and you're all set.




The optional capers add a *funk* to the sauce - much like fish sauce does. Add it completely at your discretion for that ingredient, though, since it is not a necessary addition.

To bring color and additional nutrition to the dish, I added kale and red bell peppers. Possible substitutions might be broccoli rabe (my first choice), julienned carrots, bok choy, napa cabbage, purple cabbage or daikon radish.

Watch out for your peanut butter; omit the sugar from the recipe if your peanut butter is sweetened.




After cooking the pasta (reserving about 2 cups of the cooking water), saute the kale and peppers and add the curry paste (cooking it a bit first, because the garlic and the ginger within it need to be sauteed), the peanut butter, scallions, tamari, lime and sugar and salt.

The whole thing can be done in under 30 minutes, including prep. Start the medium pot of water to boil while you chop the ingredients and this is a dish ready in a snap.









Spicy Noodles with Peanut Sauce
Prep time: 15 minutes Cook time: 15 minutes
Serves 4 

10 ounces pasta, such as soba, udon or spaghetti
1 teaspoon olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced**
1 (1-inch piece) ginger, grated**
8 ounces kale, tough stems removed and chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, cut into 1/4 -inch slices
1 teaspoon red chili flakes OR 1 to 3 tablespoons red curry paste (depending on spice level)
1 cup reserved pasta water
5 tablespoons peanut butter
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium tamari
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons sweetener***
3 scallions, minced
1 teaspoon caper brine liquid (optional)
Sea salt and black pepper
Roasted peanuts, to garnish
Lime wedges, garnish

1. Cook the pasta in a medium pot of salted boiling water. Cook until al dente, drain, reserving 2 cups of the pasta water, and set aside.
2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, ginger, kale and bell pepper. Cook until the kale is tender, about 5 minutes. Add the red chili flakes and cook for 1 minute. Add 1 cup of reserved pasta water, peanut butter, tamari, lime juice, sweetener, scallions and caper liquid (if using). Mix well to combine. Add more water if the sauce is too thick. Add the pasta and mix well again. Cook to reheat, taste and adjust seasoning with sugar, salt and black pepper.
3. Serve the pasta garnished with peanuts and lime wedges.


**garlic and ginger: omit if using red curry paste 
***sweetener: omit or reduce if using sweetened peanut butter


 © 2015 Copyright Zsu Dever. All rights reserved.

chorizo-spiced potato enchiladas



I was torn between calling this dish Autumn Enchiladas or, what it wound up being named (I'm too much into calling recipes what they actually contain, I guess), Chorizo-spiced Potato Enchiladas with Black Beans and Swiss Chard. Regardless, note that these enchiladas contain fall produce: Swiss chard and potatoes.

Firstly, let me sum it up: family said this is one of the best enchiladas I've ever made, and that includes many versions of the Mexican casserole. Secondly, this is the easiest enchiladas you will ever make (except for the Enchilada Bowl with Pumpkin Cream Sauce from Vegan Bowls (AmazonB&N)).

This recipe starts with these chorizo-spiced potatoes:



If you look at the ingredients list, you might want to skip the recipe, but there is really no reason to! Most of the ingredients are for the spiced potatoes -- spices that are actually used in making Mexican chorizo. Just grab all the ingredients you need for the potatoes before you mix it, and things go at a much quicker speed.

Although the recipe calls for ancho chili powder (which is dried poblano peppers), use any chili powder you have, but the ancho is well worth seeking out.

While the potatoes bake:




Quickly wilt the Swiss chard. If you use the stems of the chard, cook those for about 3 to 5 minutes before you add the leaves and the beans and that way there is no waste. If you aren't a chard fan, you'll be pleasantly surprised how wonderful they are in this recipe.

I strongly feel that all ingredients need to play well together and chard is well paired with black beans and the assertive spices of the potatoes. At first taste the potatoes might seem too spicy, but, like many of my recipes, it's all about balancing everything, and the spice of the potatoes is well tempered with the rest of the components.

Huge, HUGE tip coming up:



Until I started making my own corn tortillas (for Vegan Bowls  (AmazonB&N) ), my corn tortillas always cracked when I rolled them for enchiladas, even if I warmed them over a flame or in a microwave or whatever! So frustrating!

While testing the corn tortilla recipe for Vegan Bowls, I discovered that warming the tortillas is not sufficient: the extra step is steaming the tortillas in a kitchen towel or tortilla warmer.

Warm the tortillas in a skillet or directly over a burner and then place the warmed tortilla between the folds of a kitchen towel. Keep adding the tortillas as you warm them and set the folded package aside for up to 10 minutes.

Warm all the tortillas first, set them aside and when you are ready to fill the tortillas, take one out, place it on top of a work surface (I used the towel that they were steaming in since I was washing it afterward, anyway), fill it, roll and place seam-side down in the dish. In addition to the un-cracked tortillas, the process goes super fast this way!







This is really so delicious! If you'd rather use vegan cheese instead of the cheese sauce, go for it! The red sauce is simple and easy, the potatoes are mix-and-bake and the beans and greens are minimally processed as the flavor is all provided by the chorizo spices. Simple to make - although not completely fuss-free - this is well worth the minimal effort.










Chorizo-spiced Potato Enchiladas
Prep time: 30 minutes Cook time: 50 minutes
Serves 4 

Potato:
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons neutral oil
2 tablespoons vegetable broth
1 tablespoon chipotle puree**
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon ground ancho chili powder (or regular chili powder)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 pound fingerling or new potatoes, chopped into about 1/2-inch sliced or squares

Red Sauce:
1 tablespoon neutral oil
2 tablespoons whole wheat pastry or all-purpose flour
1/4 cup tomato paste (not concentrate)
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 cups vegetable broth
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Enchiladas:
8 (5-inch) corn tortillas
8 ounces Swiss chard
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
Cilantro, garnish
Vegan sour cream (optional)

Cheese Sauce:
1 tablespoon neutral oil
2 tablespoons whole wheat pastry or all-purpose flour
2/3 cups unsweetened plain nondairy milk
1/4 cup grated waxy potato
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon rinsed roasted red bell pepper
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon white miso
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon sea salt


1. Potato: Preheat oven to 400-degrees F. Combine the garlic, oil, broth, chipotle puree, vinegar, chili powder, oregano, cumin, paprika and salt in a medium bowl. Add the potatoes and mix well. Transfer to a baking sheet and cook until tender, about 30 minutes. 
2. Red Sauce: Heat the oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add the flour and cook for 2 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook until the paste darkens, about 3 minutes. Add the chili and cumin. Mix well and add the broth slowly, whisking with a whisk to prevent lumps. Add the salt, bring to boil and reduce to simmer. Cook for 5 minutes and remove from heat.
3. Enchiladas. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Heat the tortillas, one at a time, for 15 seconds per side and transfer to a kitchen towel to keep warm and steam the tortillas. When all the tortillas are cooked, add the chard and beans, cover and cook until the greens wilt. Drain the greens, if needed. Combine the cooked potatoes with the cooked greens and beans. Mix well. Taste and adjust seasoning. 
4. Transfer 1/4 cup of the red sauce to a 9x9 baking dish. Fill the tortillas with the potato mixture and lay each filled tortilla, seam side down, in the dish. Add the rest of the sauce, cover with foil and bake in the 400-degree oven for 20 minutes.
5. Cheese Sauce: Heat the oil in a small pot over medium heat. Add the flour and cook for 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk, add the potato and cover the pot. Bring to boil, reduce to simmer and cook until the potatoes are very tender, about 8 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a small blender, add the yeast, bell pepper, vinegar, miso, paprika and salt. Blend well until smooth.
6. Add the cheese sauce over the baked enchiladas and garnish with cilantro. Serve with vegan sour cream, if desired.

**chipotle puree: Blend the entire can of chipotle en adobo peppers in a small blender. Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 months or more. 


 © 2015 Copyright Zsu Dever. All rights reserved.


stuffed peppers with polenta + adobo pepitas



I have been looking to come up with an awesome stuffed pepper recipe for years now and short of using a ton of cheese, it hasn't occurred to me what to stuff it with. I'm not a fan of dry stuffed peppers and I didn't want it to be mediocre. After a long time, I've come up with something really great!

Stuffed Peppers with Creamy Polenta and Adobo-laced Pepitas. Yeah.

Ingredients? 12 total, plus salt, sugar, black pepper and water.




The polenta in these peppers is creamy and luscious. I used coarse cornmeal, so my polenta took about 45 minutes to cook until tender, but it was so worth it! It goes to show, when your cornmeal is coarse, don't be afraid to cook it longer than you would cook a finer version of cornmeal.




I cooked the onions until caramelized, cooked the polenta and added raw zucchini at the end. After cutting the tops off the peppers, leaving just enough room to add the polenta, I baked them in a very simple tomato sauce.




Speaking of the tomato sauce, once baked, it is crazy good! If you love sauce as much as I do, go forth and double its recipe.




Then there are the pepitas! Did you know that pepitas are super high in protein and they are so tasty. Pepitas can be roasted in hundreds of different ways and here I add an adobo seasoning to them.




Adobo seasoning is a Latin American mixture of spices, sometimes including cumin, coriander, garlic, oregano, turmeric and/or bay leaves (just watch out for meat ingredients). There are organic versions or traditional ones available at any grocery store and you will find yourself using it often. If you have a few spices, HERE is a recipe (sub the fresh garlic with 1 teaspoon garlic granules).

That's it! Enjoy!









Stuffed Pepper with Creamy Polenta
Prep time:30 minutes Cook time: 45 minutes
Serves 4 

Polenta:
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 small onion, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup cornmeal or polenta
1/4 to 1/2 cup non-dairy plain, unsweetened milk
Sea salt and black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 small zucchini, cut into 1/2 -inch dice
4 small peppers (bell, poblano or 6 medium Anaheim) 

Sauce:
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 cup tomato paste (not concentrate)
1 cup vegetable broth
1 teaspoon sweetener
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Pepitas:
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 cup raw pepitas
1 teaspoon adobo seasoning

1. Polenta: Heat the oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add the onion, cover and cook until caramelized, about 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add a splash of broth if the onions are sticking. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt, add the water and bring to boil. Add the cornmeal slowly, using a whisk to stir while you add the cornmeal. Bring back to boil and reduce to medium-low. Cover partially and cook until tender, about 20 to 45 minutes, depending on grind, stirring occasionally. When tender, add the milk, season with salt and black pepper, add the lemon juice and zucchini. Add more milk if needed.
2. Cut off the sides of the peppers just large enough to add the polenta. Fill the peppers.
3. Sauce: While the polenta cooks, heat the oil in a small pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and oregano. Cook until golden, about 1 to 3 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook until the paste darkens a bit, about 2 minutes. Add the broth, sweetener and salt. Whisk well to combine, bring to boil and transfer the sauce to a 9X9 baking dish. Add the stuffed peppers on top of the sauce. Heat the oven to 400-degrees F (no need to preheat), and bake the peppers until they are tender, about 45 minutes. 
4. Pepitas. Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the pepitas and cook until lightly golden, about 3 minutes. Add the adobo and salt, to taste. Cook for another 30 seconds. Serve the pepitas garnishing the baked peppers.



 © 2015 Copyright Zsu Dever. All rights reserved.




seared cauliflower and chickpeas piccata



It seems I have made piccata for the blog more than a few times but it's probably all in my head as I can only find it HERE. My memory lags probably because I make it for home at least every few months. The family loves Seitan Piccata and because it is a very easy dish to throw together (given you have seitan handy), I'm all for it.

The usual mashed potatoes are the accompaniment and maybe a vegetable sneaks in there, such as steamed green beans, but this time around I wanted to make it without seitan.





The flavor affinities of cauliflower + chickpeas + lemon + sweet potatoes + greens is a winner and I instantly wanted to transform these ingredients into one cohesive dish. The sauce for the piccata has only 9 ingredients, plus the cauliflower and chickpeas.

While I served this bowl-style, with the addition of sweet potatoes and greens, you can by all means ignore my suggestion and go with the standard mashed potatoes and green beans.





Roasting the sweet potatoes is the first order of business as preheating the oven and cooking the tubers will take the longest.

The next longest step is cooking the collard greens, so get them on the stove and you can essentially forget about them.

In this recipe I treated the cauliflower a little differently. I simply sauteed and seared the pieces until they were tender and golden.  Cover the cauliflower as it cooks over low heat and it will not only sear but cook all the way through. Definitely a fantastic way to treat this vegetable! A little seasoning of salt and black pepper and I could eat them all day long. I might, if given the chance.





Finally, the sauce is made. This step goes pretty fast after the chickpeas are done sauteing so it might be a good idea to have everything ready to go once the chickpeas are golden brown.




This is the best dish to eat all these seasonal produce in: cauliflower, sweet potatoes, collard greens and lemon.

There it is! Gluten free (if using rice flour), nutritious, pretty and delicious.










Seared Cauliflower and Chickpea Piccata
Prep and cook in 40 minutes
Serves 4 

Potatoes:
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch half-moons
1 teaspoon olive oil
Salt and black pepper

Collards:
8 ounces collard greens, tough stems removed and cut into ribbons
1/4 small onion, chopped

Cauliflower:
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small head cauliflower, cut into 1/2 -inch slices (as best as you can)

Sauce:
1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 garlic cloves, cut into thin slices
1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour or rice flour
1/4 cup dry white wine or vermouth**
1/2 cup vegetable broth
 2 tablespoon capers
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons minced parsley

1. Potatoes: Preheat the oven to 425-degrees F. Combine the potatoes and oil on a baking sheet and season with salt and black pepper. Bake the potatoes until golden and tender, about 20 to 30 minutes, flipping the potatoes midway through cooking. Lightly mash with a potato masher.
2. Collards: Combine the collards and onion in a medium pot. Add enough water to cover the collards well. Cooking the collards in plenty of water will reduce their bitterness. Season with salt and black pepper and cook until tender over medium heat, about 20 minutes. Drain and keep warm.
3.  Cauliflower: Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the cauliflower slices (and the pieces that fell away when slicing), cover the skillet with a lid, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until golden, about 9 minutes. Flip the pieces and cook the other side until golden and the cauliflower is  tender, another 9 minutes. Remove from the skillet and keep warm.
4. Sauce: Heat the now empty skillet over medium heat. Add the chickpeas and cook until they are dry, about 3 minutes. Add the oil and cook until the chickpeas are golden, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and chili flakes and cook until the garlic is golden, about 2 minutes. Add the flour and mix well. Add the wine and cook until the wine almost evaporates completely. Add the broth and capers and cook until the broth is reduced by half and thickens, about 2 minutes. Add the reserved cauliflower, lemon juice and parsley. Cook until the cauliflower is warmed through. Season with salt and black pepper.
5. Assembly: Serve the mashed sweet potatoes with the collards and piccata. Spoon a little of the sauce onto each serving. 



** Wine substitute: Soak 1/2 cup of sun-dried tomatoes in 1 cup of hot vegetable broth. Set aside to rehydrate and infuse the broth with the flavor for at least 30 minutes. Drain and squeeze the tomatoes of their liquid. 

 © 2015 Copyright Zsu Dever. All rights reserved.

avgolemono soup + "cook the pantry" winner




The Greek soup, Avgolemono, has been on my mind for the past year or so, ever since I saw it being prepared on a cooking show. This classic soup is often made with rice and chicken, but it is always flavored with lemon and thickened with egg yolks, giving it its characteristic pale yellow color.

I redid this soup, not so much with authenticity in mind, unlike most other recipes I create, where that is a central theme of mine: authenticity but with better, kinder, vegan ingredients. Instead, this time I just wanted to play with the fall produce that is currently available. Lemon, kale and dill.

I simply love kale and using it to replace the chicken is such a great switch, especially since kale and lemon are a natural flavor-match. Add some dill, which is a flavor-match with lemon, and you have a bright, sunny summer-y dish in the middle of autumn.

In addition to flavor profiles, I also wanted this recipe to be very quick and very easy. This recipe needs only 9 ingredients, including water, salt and black pepper (not pictured below.)




It is a very basic soup recipe that starts with great quality vegetable broth. Most store-bought vegetable broths these days are golden in color and taste great, so if that is what you have on hand, this is a very speedy soup dish. If your broth is not dark golden color, omit the 2 cups of water from the soup and increase the broth to 5 cups. Easy fix.

While your rice is cooking in the broth....




Heat your pot of water for the kale. Cooking the kale separately in a good quantity of water will help draw out most of its bitterness. This same "bitter" remedy is perfect for collard greens as well, just make sure to cook collards for around 15 to 20 minutes, instead of 5 minutes, as collards are much tougher.

Don't forget to save your cooking water, cool it and water your plants with it.




After the rice is cooked, add the cooked kale, fresh dill and lemon juice mixed with the starch. Instead of eggs (which actually bring no flavor to the soup at all, since the lemon is such a dominant flavor), this version is thickened with arrowroot (or cornstarch). It leaves the soup silky and smooth, as does its egg counterpart. Add lemon juice to taste as some people find it very assertive.

That's it! It's done! It is a delicious, tangy first course or light supper when you don't want something too heavy to weigh you down overnight. You can also use short grain brown rice instead of the Arborio, but cook it longer, around 20 minutes.

Now for the anticipated winner of Cook the Pantry (AmazonB&N)  by Robin Robertson...

The winner is Janel Gradowski. Congratulations! Please contact me so I can get the book to you!











Avgolemono Soup with Kale and Rice
Prep and cook in 30 minutes
Serves 4 

4 ounces kale, tough stems removed and cut into ribbons
3 cups good quality vegetable broth
2 cups water
1/2 cups arborio rice
1 tablespoon minced dill
1 to 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon arrowroot or cornstarch
Sea salt and black pepper

1. Heat a large pot half-full with water to boiling. Add the kale and cook until the kale is tender, about 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.
2. Combine the broth, 2 cups fresh water and rice in a medium pot. Bring to boil, reduce to simmer and cook until the rice is almost tender, about 8 to 10 minutes. Add the kale and dill. Season with salt and black pepper. Simmer until hot.
3. Combine the lemon juice (smaller amount) with the starch and mix well. Add to the simmering soup and heat the soup just until it thickens. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt, black pepper and more lemon juice.


 © 2015 Copyright Zsu Dever. All rights reserved.