The Best of January

No surprise that a veggie-loving cook follows the four seasons. Fresh tomatoes in winter? No way. Butternut squash in summer? Not on your life.

Still, January warrants special thought when picking the month's favorites, the one soup and the one vegetable that together simply shout winter and holler holiday letdown. And sure enough, they do.

Weight Watchers Zero Points Vegetable Soup
  • Easy to make.
  • Easy on the holiday-gorged palate.
  • Life-giving vegetables.
  • Low-carb and low-calorie.
  • Zero points or one point in the Weight Watchers world, depending on how you count.
Yup: perfect for January.






Girds the winter soul for the remaining months of cold and snow. (In Missouri, where it's been in the 50s to the 70s in January, for heavens sake, northern sorts like me still live in hope.)

January perfect.










FROM THE ARCHIVES ... Find all ten months' Picks of the Months in the Recipe Box.

(c) Copyright 2006 Kitchen Parade

Day 295: Cabbage with Winter Pesto ◄

Simple and good. And OH so fast.

Just a little cooked cabbage (no sniffing! no up-turned noses! it's good!) with a little spinach pesto, what I call Winter Pesto, stirred in.

A definite keeper.

FROM THE ARCHIVES For other oh-so-simple vegetable sides, see here in the Recipe Box.

CABBAGE with WINTER PESTO
Bookmark or print this recipe only
Hands-on time: 5 minutes
Time to table: 20 minutes
Serves 4


Salted water to cover
1 pound cabbage, cored and roughly chopped (would a bag of coleslaw-cut cabbage work? maybe, although the texture would be considerably different, and it only took 4 minutes to chop the cabbage)
1/2 tablespoon Winter Pesto (or a commercial pesto though the calorie differences are likely significant)

Start the water in a medium saucepan over MEDIUM HIGH. (Don't forget to salt the water!) Add the cabbage as it's prepped, even before the water boils. Once the water begins to boil, cover, reduce the heat to MEDIUM and let simmer for about 15 minutes. Drain and stir in the pesto. Serve and enjoy!!

NUTRITION ESTIMATE
Per Serving: 143 Cal (19% from Fat, 19% from Protein, 62% from Carb); 8 g Protein; 4 g Tot Fat; 1 g Sat Fat; 26 g Carb; 11 g Fiber; NETCARB 15; 242 mg Calcium; 3 mg Iron; 141 mg Sodium; 2 mg Cholesterol; WEIGHT WATCHERS 2 points

ALANNA's TIPS
  • When you see this in the title and the Recipe Box, you know the recipe's a personal favorite. Tastes vary, of course, but the mark is one indication of another vegetable recipe that's worth paying attention to.
(c) Copyright 2006 Kitchen Parade

Day 294: Spinach Curry ♥

Today's Vegetable Recipe: Fresh spinach quick-cooked with onion, garlic, mustard seed & cumin. Weight Watchers 1 point. Low-carb. Vegan.

~ recipe & photo updated in 2008 ~

2005: What an easy, healthful and unexpectedly delicious vegetarian supper! (Or of course, if preferred, vegetable side dish.) The recipe is inspired by Indian- and vegetarian-cuisine food blogger Mahanandi, whose simple vegetable dishes capture my culinary imagination.

And, hey! in one dish, I've made a good start on two of my 2006 food resolutions. Not bad, eh? The hardest of those resolutions -- the one that always created a bad case of FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) -- is hot peppers. But my fridge is now home to a pound of tiny Thai peppers, a couple hundred of them. I used two of those tiny little green guys tonight -- it's a start, yes! -- especially because I loved the underlying subtle heat, even if next time I'd probably use one pepper, not two.

2008: Once again, this easy spinach recipe was a big hit. I didn't have any chilis on hand so used Thai green curry paste. Next time, I'd definitely use chilis. The dish looks prettier if there's time to slice off the spinach stems.



VEGETABLE RECIPES from the ARCHIVES
~ more spinach recipes ~
~ more curry recipes ~


SPINACH CURRY
See Mahanandi's recipe
Hands-on time: 15 minutes
Time to table: 15 minutes
Serves 2 (with rice or beans or lentils or bread) as a main dish, 4 as a side dish


1 teaspoon peanut oil
1/2 teaspoon mustard seed
1/2 teaspoon cumin seed
2 teaspoons minced garlic (from a jar, or 2 cloves, minced)

1 onion, chopped
1 Thai chili, chopped fine (Mahanandi uses 2 green chilis)
9 ounces fresh spinach

1 teaspoon coconut powder (this seems to be unsweetened coconut, somewhat finely ground)
Turmeric to taste
Salt to taste

Heat the oil in a large, deep skillet over MEDIUM HIGH. Add the mustard seed, cumin seed and cook til the mustard begins to pop. Add the garlic and cook a minute. Add the onion and chili, stir to coat well with the oil and to incorporate the seeds, cook til onion is soft. [2008: I added a couple of splashes of water to what was an essentially 'dry' skillet.] Add the spinach, in batches if necessary for room as it wilts. Cover, reduce heat to MEDIUM and let cook for about 5 minutes. Stir in the coconut powder, turmeric and salt. Uncover and cook another 5 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

NUTRITION ESTIMATE
Serving Two: 94 Cal (27% from Fat, 19% from Protein, 54% from Carb); 5 g Protein; 3 g Tot Fat; 1 g Sat Fat; 14 g Carb; 4 g Fiber; NETCARB 10; 159 mg Calcium; 4 mg Iron; 105 mg Sodium; 0 mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 1 point

Serving Four: 47 Cal (27% from Fat, 19% from Protein, 54% from Carb); 2 g Protein; 2 g Tot Fat; 0 g Sat Fat; 7 g Carb; 2 g Fiber; NETCARB5; 79 mg Calcium; 2 mg Iron; 52 mg Sodium; 0 mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 1 point


(c) Copyright 2006 Kitchen Parade

Day 293: Carrots & Mushroom Ragout

The idea here was a hearty vegetarian supper, as suggested by the inspiring cookbook, Vegetarian Suppers, a favorite during my meatless years.

Instead, the carrot and mushroom combination seemed much more like a savory vegetable side dish.

What might have made it more supper-ish? More sauce perhaps, to soak into rice or a grain or even mashed potatoes. And honestly, I think the ragout would be delicious with chunks of cooked lamb. Oh dear, so much for good vegetarian intentions!

NEXT TIME I'd skip the raisins which added little and were slightly odd paired with mushrooms.

NUTRITION NOTES Skipping the currants drops the dish into 'low carb' territory.

FROM THE ARCHIVES For other vegetarian supper ideas, see here in the Recipe Box.

CARROT & MUSHROOM RAGOUT
Bookmark or print this recipe only
Hands-on time: 20 minutes
Time to table: 40 minutes
Serves 6


1 tablespoon unsalted butter (reduced from 2 tablespoons vegetable oil and 1 tablespoon butter)
1 small onion, diced
8 ounces mushrooms, left whole
1 pound carrots, peeled and cut in one-inch chunks
2 tablespoons currants (reduced from 1/3 cup raisins, skip these next time)
1/3 cup vermouth (or additional stock)
1/3 cup vegetable stock (tonight I used No Waste Leek Stock)
1 teaspoon caraway seed

1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons water
Salt & pepper to taste

Heat the butter in a large, deep skillet on MEDIUM. Add the onions, stir to coat with fat and let cook for 2 - 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms, stir to coat and let cook for 2 - 3 minutes. Add the carrots, currants if using, vermouth, stock and caraway seed. Bring to a boil. Cover, adjust temperature and let simmer for about 20 minutes or until carrots are completely cooked. (The recipe said 30 minutes, 20 was plenty tonight.) Blend the cornstarch, water and seasoning in a small dish, then add to the carrot mixture, let cook for 2 - 3 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE
With currants, Per Serving: 79 Cal (25% from Fat, 11% from Protein, 64% from Carb); 2 g Protein; 2 g Tot Fat; 1 g Sat Fat; 14 g Carb; 3 g Fiber; NETCARB 11; 35 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 87 mg Sodium; 5 mg Cholesterol; WEIGHT WATCHERS 1 point

Without currants, Per Serving: 71 Cal (28% from Fat, 12% from Protein, 60% from Carb); 2 g Protein; 2 g Tot Fat; 1 g Sat Fat; 11 g Carb; 3 g Fiber; NETCARB 8; 33 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 86 mg Sodium; 5 mg Cholesterol; WEIGHT WATCHERS 1 point

CREDIT WHERE CREDIT'S DUE
Adapted from Vegetarian Suppers by Jane Suthering (out of print but available cheap on Amazon Marketplace)

(c) Copyright 2006 Kitchen Parade

Sneaky Moms Unite!

First it was Sweetnicks.

And now it's Alysha over at The Savory Notebook
who's using delicious-looking and great-tasting food
to teach her boys veggie-loving habits.

Today Alysha's boys gobble up asparagus gussied up with a
Penzeys gift spice blend called Florida Seasoned Pepper.
She's also had luck with cauliflower mashed liked potatoes and
an ever-so-healthful vegetarian soup with -- get this! -- spinach!


Great work, Alysha!

VEGGIES for KIDS is a continuing crusade here at A Veggie Venture,
a forum for parents wanting to encourage healthful eating habits at home and school.
What works for you? What would you like to fix at your own table?
Leave a comment, send an e-mail or write your own post --
ideas and links along with kid-tested recipes will be posted in Veggies for Kids.

(c) Copyright 2006 Kitchen Parade

Day 292: Eggplant Lasagna

No surprise that something called eggplant lasagna contains eggplant. But in this recipe, the eggplant actually replaces the lasagna noodles!

Is that a good idea?

Yes: This was one of the best, maybe the best, lasagnas I've ever eaten. That said, I credit the slow-roasted tomatoes, Batch 11 to be specific, rather than the eggplant. I'd recommend the base recipe with traditional noodles any day. (Folks from the Southern Hemisphere: Are you planning to slow-roast tomatoes this year? I really really REALLY recommend it! Just LOOK what's possible when you do!)

No: The inspiring recipe called for a fussy, time-consuming process for precooking the eggplant, one I'll never repeat. I think there're other ways, however, like this one.

Yes, But: The eggplant lasagna is about 1/3 lower in calories and contains fewer than 1/2 the carbs. That said, neither version can be considered 'diet' food. If I were going to splurge on lasagna, I think I'd go whole hog, so to speak, and make this with real noodles.

FOR THE RECORD This is A Veggie Venture's official entry in the Weekend Cookbook Challenge (specifically the "Winter Comfort Food" edition) going on over at Something So Clever. It's not too late to join the fun!

FROM THE ARCHIVES For other vegetable casseroles and hot dishes, see here in the Recipe Box.


EGGPLANT LASAGNA
Bookmark or print this recipe only
Hands-on time: Maybe 45 minutes?
Time to table: Maybe 2 hours?
Serves 6



IN GENERAL
Roast the eggplant, make the white sauce, collect the other ingredients, then assemble and bake.

ROASTED EGGPLANT
1 1/2 pounds eggplant
Salt and pepper to taste

Slice the eggplant cross-wise as thin as possible, 1/4 inch or less. (If you're worried about bitterness, soak the eggplant slices in salted water for about 30 minutes, then drain and pat dry.) Transfer to a baking sheet covered with foil. Season with salt and pepper. (Don't skip this step.) Place the tray about four inches from the broiler and broil until golden, 4 - 5 minutes per side.

WHITE SAUCE
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon fennel seed
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
2 tablespoons flour
1 cup whole milk

Takes 10 minutes to make. Melt the butter with the fennel and Italian seasoning in a medium saucepan on MEDIUM. Stir in the flour and let cook for a minute, stirring the entire time, working out all the floury lumps. Slowly -- this means starting with a few drops at a time, incorporating each addition completely before adding more -- add the milk. Let cook until thickened, about 5 minutes, stirring the entire time.

ADDITIONAL INGREDIENTS
3 cups slow-roasted tomatoes (or your own or a commercial pasta sauce)
1 pound fontina, grated (could you use less cheese? maybe ... but it'd still never be diet food)

ASSEMBLY
Grease a casserole dish. Create layers in this order, bottom to top.
  • A thin layer of tomato sauce, just enough to cover the bottom of the dish
  • 1/3 of the eggplant
  • 1/3 remaining tomato sauce
  • 1/3 white sauce
  • 1/3 cheese
Repeat two more times. Bake at 375 for about 45 minutes or until bubbly. Put under the broiler for a few minutes to brown, if desired. Cover and let cool for 10 - 15 minutes before serving.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE
Made with Eggplant, Per Serving: 459 Cal (61% from Fat, 20% from Protein, 19% from Carb); 24 g Protein; 32 g Tot Fat; 18 g Sat Fat; 22 g Carb; 7 g Fiber; NETCARB 15; 445 mg Calcium; 2 mg Iron; 650 mg Sodium; 104 mg Cholesterol; WEIGHT WATCHERS 12 points

Made with traditional lasagna noodles, Per Serving: 559 Cal (51% from Fat, 19% from Protein, 29% from Carb); 28 g Protein; 33 g Tot Fat; 18 g Sat Fat; 42 g Carb; 8 g Fiber; NETCARB 34; 445 mg Calcium; 2 mg Iron; 650 mg Sodium; 104 mg Cholesterol; WEIGHT WATCHERS 16 points

ALANNA's TIPS
  • When you see this in the title and the Recipe Box, you know the recipe's a personal favorite. Tastes vary, of course, but the mark is one indication of another vegetable recipe that's worth paying attention to.
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT'S DUE
Very adapted from Mary Kafka's Vegetable Love , a relatively new cookbook but first cracked for this lasgna


(c) Copyright 2006 Kitchen Parade

Day 291: Orzo with Spinach ♥

Orzo with Spinach
One of my oldest recipes, a garlicky pasta with strips of tender cooked spinach. This one requires will power: I could eat the whole pot if I let myself!

~recipe & photo updated & reposted 2012~
~more recently updated recipes~

2006 Original: Funny. This pasta and spinach has been a year-round favorite for so long that it's made two cookbooks, one for church, one for family. So how nearly 300 Veggie Venture days have passed without its appearance here is beyond explanation. But with little ado, here it is, just simple orzo with spinach, Parmesan and pine nuts. Fast, easy, and unless you're a carb counter, not entirely unhealthful.

2012: Funny again. I still make this recipe off and on, it's so easy to throw together. The trick is to use plenty of garlic and let the garlic essence really develop as it turns golden.

REVIEWS
"I use this recipe for inspiration all the time. ... I've passed it on to many friends, and have probably posted it to my Facebook feed more than once. Thanks so much for the inspiration!" ~ Renee
"I love coming across vegetarian recipes that are quick. I asked my granddaughter to describe and she said it was 'BAZOOMA GOOD'!" ~ Anonymous

Kitchen Parade Extra: Cashew Chicken Curry ◄

Until introduced to Indian home cooking exemplified in food blogs like One Hot Stove, Mahanandi, Food, in the Main and Hooked on Heat, my experience with Indian cuisine was limited to two favorite restaurants (one a Friday-night hangout during grad school in Austin, another here in St Louis), a tiny grocery in Dallas that sold fresh curry leaves alongside saris and -- most famously -- London take-away.

If I had my druthers -- and I have, despite considerable objection -- take-away curry would be the choice for at least one, and preferably two, meals a day in London.

So at home, I struggle to replicate that fiery, steaming goodness and still please the American palates which pull up chairs at my table. The dozenth version of something close is the subject of this week's column in Kitchen Parade.

Day 290: Two Recipes for Edamame Snacks

The Sugar High Friday online edible events are always a welcome challenge for A Veggie Venture.

But January's mean'n'lean Sugar LOW Friday created a special, um, opportunity. Sure, there're vegetables in cakes and sweets and even sorbets and ice creams (oh! I can't wait to spring one or two cold ones on us all some warm day soon!) and all calling for piles of sugar, buckets of butter.

So like every good writer who starts over entirely when a sentence doesn't work, I decided to turn the SHF/SLF thinking upside down by choosing not a sweet, not a dessert, but instead a dessert replacement ... a snack.

A vegetable snack, of course, made from protein-rich edamame beans. With NO cream. And NO sugar. And only a tiny bit of oil. And quite tasty to snack on after supper, at your desk ... although some messy but no more than a potato chip or even popcorn.

I tried two versions, one roasted with olive oil and salt (on the left) and another microwaved and tossed with ground Lapsang souchong tea and salt (on the right). They were remarkably similar -- the flavor really comes from the meaty texture of the soybeans. (Yes, edamame is a fancy name for the beans of a soy plant!)

RECIPE for ROASTED EDAMAME BEANS

Hands-on time: 5 minutes
Time to table: 30 minutes
Makes 1 cup

8 ounces frozen edamame beans, still frozen
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 400F. Toss the edamame beans with the olive oil and kosher salt until well coated. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet and roast for 15 minutes, tossing occasionally. Serve warm.



RECIPE for SMOKY EDAMAME BEANS

Hands-on time: 10 minutes
Time to table: 15 minutes
Makes 1 cup

8 ounces frozen edamame beans, still frozen

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 teaspoon Lapsang souchong tea leaves (or the Spanish paprika called pimenton)
1/2 teaspoon olive oil

Place the edamame beans in a microwave-safe bowl, cover with plastic wrap and cook on high power for 5 minutes. Let rest for 1 minute.

Meanwhile, grind the salt and the tea leaves. Toss the mixture with the cooked edamame beans and the olive oil. Serve warm.


A Veggie Venture - Printer Friendly Recipe Graphic



MORE FAVORITE EDAMAME RECIPES
~ Edamame in the Shell ~
~ Asparagus & Edamame Salad ~
~ more edamame recipes ~




© Copyright Kitchen Parade 2006


Day 289: Turnip Potato Purée ♥

Turnip Potato Purée
~recipe & photo updated 2012~
~more recently updated recipes~

2006 Original: Talk about a ***** five-star ***** recipe. Fast. Easy. Delicious. Cheap. Healthful. That said, I made a big mistake with this pur&eacute:e. It doesn't belong on the "side", it belongs "under" – a big plopful under a lambchop, pork medallions, even a slice of meatloaf. The orange and ginger flavors are subtle, just enough to stop mid-bite to wonder, Hmmm, what's that taste?

TURNIPS vs RUTABAGAS Like yams and sweet potatoes, grocery stores often interchange turnips for rutabagas. One would be as good as the other here, but Stephencooks has side-by-side photographs so at least you know what you're cooking!

Day 288: No Waste Leek Stock ◄

Contemplating homemade vegetable stock, I struggle with whether the vegetables are actually going to waste.

But what's the one vegetable that all cooks always throw away half to three-quarters of?

Leeks, of course. The green stalks are tough and inedible and recipes always specify, 'white and light green parts only'.

So after making this soup, just to see what would happen and with nothing to lose, I threw the leftover leek stalks into a pot along the leftover peels from a russet potato.

The result? A lovely, sweetish, onionish stock.

And absolutely no waste.

NO WASTE LEEK STOCK
Bookmark or print this recipe only
Hands-on time: 5 minutes
Time to table: 1 hour
Made 4 cups

8 cups water
Peelings from a potato (optional, I suspect)
'Green parts' from 5 leeks, roughly chopped

Start the water to bring to a boil. Add the potato peels and leeks and bring to a boil. Cover and let simmer for about 45 minutes.

(c) Copyright 2006 Kitchen Parade

Calling Vegetarians! Calling Vegetable Lovers!

(Many thanks to Brian Naughton for Tomato Republic, his photo oh so evocative of stars on a flag field. Vegetable-wise, it'll have to keep us happy for six more months, until real-life tomatoes are worth eating again!)
  • Are you the author of a vegetarian or vegan food blog?
  • Or the author of a food blog that features vegetarian or vegan dishes occasionally?
  • Or are you a carnivore who regularly writes about vegetables?
  • Does your blog have an easy-to-find category for vegetarian dishes? or vegetables? or salads?
  • And everyone, where do you turn for meatless inspiration -- favorite blogs? websites? cookbooks?
I'm building a resource site -- here at The Veggie Evangelist -- with lists of vegetarian and vegan blogs along with what I call 'veggie-loving' sites, that is, bloggers who write regularly though not exclusively about vegetables.

Just click on through, then leave a comment in the appropriate list. I'd love to hear from you -- and, hint, hint, doing so could be fruitful, er, I mean, veggie-ful.

Day 287: Peas with Chili Lime Butter

Oh dear.

I'd already half written the post in my head, extolling the delicious simplicity of peas topped with the chili lime butter that was such a hit with a watercress sandwich.

But nope, nothin' special here. Sorry. I wish so too!

Hmm. Broccoli, perhaps?

ARF TUESDAYS For the record, this is A Veggie Venture's contribution to the gentle eat-right encouragement from Sweetnicks.

FROM THE ARCHIVES For green-pea favorites, see here in the Recipe Box.

PEAS with CHILI LIME BUTTER
Bookmark or print this recipe only
Hands-on time: 10 minutes for the chili lime butter, 2 minutes for the peas
Time to table: 20 minutes
Serves 4


1 pound frozen green peas, steamed (although I'm learning that I prefer to cook peas in boiling water so they can be liberally salted)

CHILI LIME BUTTER
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 a large jalepeno, minced fine
Zest and juice from a lime
Salt and pepper to taste (I skipped both)

Stir together the ingredients. Makes 4 tablespoons. Stir 1 tablespoon into the cooked peas, reserve the rest for broccoli or some other reasonable choice!

NUTRITION ESTIMATE
Chili-Lime Butter Only, Per Teaspoon: 34 Cal (97% from Fat, 1% from Protein, 2% from Carb); 0 g Protein; 4 g Tot Fat; 2 g Sat Fat; 0 g Carb; 0 g Fiber; NetCarb0; 2 mg Calcium; 0 mg Iron; 1 mg Sodium; 10 mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 1 point

1 tablespoon chili lime butter with 1 pound of peas, Per Serving: 113 Cal (25% from Fat, 20% from Protein, 54% from Carb); 6 g Protein; 3 g Tot Fat; 2 g Sat Fat; 16 g Carb; 5 g Fiber; NetCarb 11; 26 mg Calcium; 2 mg Iron; 127 mg Sodium; 8 mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 2 points

(c) Copyright 2006 Kitchen Parade

Day 286: Cucumber Pancakes

Sneaking vegetables into breakfast is hard!

Even after nearly 10 months of cooking a vegetable in a new way every single day, the breakfast and brunch list is pretty short; worse, not one recipe really shouts 'breakfast' in the way a dedicated veggie- and breakfast-eater might hope.

So Nupur's One Hot Stove cucumber pancakes sent me scurrying for rice flour. (Ooops. Only mid-cucumber-grate and too late did I realize that there's "rice flour" and then there's "sweet rice flour". I'd bought the wheat-free and gluten-free sweet rice flour at Trader Joe's. Was it the wrong kind? I don't know! The pancakes weren't sweet-tasting in the least.)

These were savory good! To my surprise, I especially liked the bits of hot pepper and the taste of cumin. Nupur suggests serving the pancakes with relish or chutney but I have to say, the tiny bit of chili lime butter leftover from Day 280 was sublime. I also tried a bite with maple syrup -- okay but nothing special.

I did have trouble, I think, getting these to cook through. They turned out more dough-y than expected, certainly more doughy than American-style flapjacks. Hmmm, the flour, perhaps? Or perhaps that's the intended texture? It wasn't unpalatable, just unexpected.

FOR THE RECORD This is A Veggie Venture's official entry into Hooked on Heat's monthly food fun called From My Rasoi. This month, the fun features, yep, Breakfast.




FROM THE ARCHIVES For other recipes using low-calorie, low-carb cucumber, see here in the Recipe Box.

CUCUMBER PANCAKES
Bookmark or print this recipe only
One Hot Stove's original recipe
Hands-on time: 15 minutes
Time to table: 30 minutes
Makes 10 3-4" pancakes

1/2 an English cucumber, skin on (for fiber) and grated (about 2 scant cups)
1 cup rice flour
2 tablespoons minced cilantro -- oops, I forgot this!
1/2 large jalapeno, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
1 teaspoon whole cumin seeds
1 cup buttermilk (and later I added another 1/2 cup to further thin the batter, Nurur also says you can use water or a combination of water and buttermilk)
Salt to taste
Sesame seeds (to my taste, these didn't add much)

Butter for frying (I tried butter-flavored cooking spray, it didn't work but it took only a tiny sliver of butter, maybe 1/8 a teaspoon, per pancake)

Grate the cucumbers into a large bowl (Nupur says you want to make sure to grab the cucumber juice). Add all the remaining ingredients except the sesame seeds.

Melt a tiny bit of butter in a large skillet (the bigger the skillet, the more pancakes you can cook at once). Pour 1/4 cups of batter into the skillet, use a spatula to even out the thickness and spread evenly. (If using, sprinkle the top with sesame seeds.) Cook til the bottom is crispy, then flip and cook the other side til crispy too.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE
Per Pancake: 58 Cal (5% from Fat, 13% from Protein, 83% from Carb); 2 g Protein; 0 g Tot Fat; 0 g Sat Fat; 12 g Carb; 0 g Fiber; NetCarb12; 34 mg Calcium; 0 mg Iron; 27 mg Sodium; 1 mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 1 point


(c) Copyright 2006 Kitchen Parade

Day 285: Weight Watchers Zero Points Garden Vegetable Soup ♥

Weight Watchers Zero Points Garden Vegetable Soup ♥ AVeggieVenture.com, the famous original soup. Vegan. Low Carb. Gluten Free. Whole 30.
The famous zero point Garden Vegetable Soup from Weight Watchers. Quick to make with minimal chopping. Uses inexpensive and easy-to-find fresh and frozen vegetables.

Saturdays: They're my favorite day to cook, especially in winter. Most Saturdays, you'll find soup simmering on my stove, either for supper or the week ahead. This Garden Vegetable Soup is famous in Weight Watchers circles. To my mind, it deserves fame in wider circles for it's easy, it's delicious, it's healthful. There's some chopping involved but in a rush, frozen vegetables are perfectly acceptable.

MANY VARIATIONS from Weight Watchers
Weight Watchers Garden Vegetable Zero Points Soup (the original, recipe below)
Weight Watchers Mexican Zero Points Soup (it's got zing!)
Weight Watchers Asian Zero Points Soup (it feels light too!)
Weight Watchers Italian Zero Points Soup (it's milder!)
Weight Watchers Fresh Vegetable Soup (best made a day ahead!)

MY OWN VARIATIONS
How to Make Homemade Vegetable Soup (a master recipe, my never-the-same vegetable soup from Kitchen Parade, my food column)
Low-Fat Vegetable Soup (a huge batch, from Kitchen Parade)
How to Convert One-Point Soup Recipes to Zero-Point Soup Recipes (an easy technique to convert your own recipes)

Day 284: Watercress Soup ♥

Watercress Soup, another healthy soup ♥ A Veggie Venture
graphic button small size size 10 Today's recipe: A classic watercress soup, slightly peppery thanks to the bright green leaves of watercress. Naturally Gluten Free. graphic button small size size 10

~recipe updated, first published way back in 2006~
~more recently updated recipes~

BACK IN 2006 A Turkish food blogger commented, "Seems it was watercress week over here ;-)." It was! But no more, that whole case of watercress I purchased for a whole dollar is gone. It's been quite an odyssey! Three salads, the very favorite with watercress, tangerines and blue cheese; the colorful crunch of daikon and bell peppers; plus another less-favorite that mixes watercress with iceberg lettuce. But a case of watercress goes a long way! I also made a spicy cucumber and watercress relish and a watercress sandwich and a wonderful turkey and tortellini soup plus, well, a a mistake and a few others hidden behind the screen.

But there's no experimenting with watercress without returning to an old favorite, watercress soup. Some years ago, I served it for a childhood friend and her toddler who came for lunch one day. She is a nutritionist and was galled that her son would usually touch nothing remotely green – and so was amazed when he lapped up a bowl of Watercress Soup and then asked for more!

Mostly, I keep this a simple soup, tasty and flavorful and nutritious and perfect middle-of-winter or cool-spring-day comfort food. That said, the inspiring recipe calls for sour cream and whole milk and suggests sautéed scallops: yum, over-the-top delicious!

UPDATE 2017 Trader Joe's is carrying watercress, the peppery greens are packaged with their root balls for freshness. It's got me revisiting watercress recipes! I'm also much grateful for Trader Joe's bags of frozen leeks: soooo convenient. This soup got a thumbs up from my male eaters!

Kitchen Parade Extra: Winter Pesto with Pasta ◄

Basil's both hard to find and dear right now. But spinach? It's everywhere and oh-so-cheap.

So experiment with this low-carb spinach and walnut pesto, whether to toss with pasta or to top onto vegetables.

Winter Pesto is featured in this week's Kitchen Parade column.

Retro Appetizer: Cheesy Artichoke Nibblers ♥ from the Best of Bridge

Cheesy Artichoke Nibblers from the Best of Bridge
Today's quick 'n' easy vegetable appetizer recipe: Pure comfort food, warm squares of an artichoke and cheddar mix, with a little holiday color from pimento and fresh parsley.

~recipe & photo updated & reposted 2012~
~more recently updated recipes~

2006 Original Post: So there's a blog party and we're all invited! The theme is 'retro appetizers' so pick your decade. I picked mine, the 80s, after encountering slim-pickin' ideas from my small collection of vintage cookbooks.

My grandmother's first cookbook, Meals Tested and Approved, published in 1920 by Good Housekeeping, devoted a chapter to 'cereals for breakfast' and another to 'baking powder biscuits and shortcakes' but not one word to appetizers.
The 1938 American Woman's Cookbook had seven pages of appetizers in a 900-page book, all lobster, caviar, anchovy and foie gras.
The 1959 Electric Cook Book ('your complete guide to cooking electrically') - nothing.
The 1968 Salads, Sandwiches & Hors D'Ouevres seemed certain paydirt except that it was similarly enamored with lobster, caviar and anchovies except for a big nod to northern Europe with the sandwich-cake works of artistry which have appeared, just this week so hardly retro, over at Nami-Nami and cat in the kitchen.
So I turned to a likely source, a cookbook from Canada's Best of Bridge series of cookbooks written by 'ladies who lunch' and yes, play bridge. I figure: with recipes that rely on little more than tins of mushrooms and cream of shrimp soup, retro, it is. Plus, my mom's margin note for the Cheesy Artichoke Nibblers read, "Delicious, had at Lynda's 8/82, made 12/83".

Day 282: Cucumber & Watercress Relish ◄

Look closely -- see those little seeds?

They're whole fennel and mustard seeds -- and they convert this simple salad/relish from something nicely fresh to something alive with subtle layers of flavor and deliciousness. I'm sooo glad I didn't skip them!

And this is the second cold vegetable salad of the week -- in the middle of winter! (The first is here.) Vegetable salads are summer staples, of course, but seem out-of-season in January.

O Contraire! What a fresh combination, a great side to roast chicken or piled on a big supper salad.

NEXT TIME No watercress? No problem, just omit it or substitute cilantro or even parsley.

FROM THE ARCHIVES For other cold salads, see here in the Recipe Box. And don't miss this week's first cold salad, made with daikon and red peppers.

CUCUMBER & WATERCRESS RELISH
Bookmark or print this recipe only
Hands-on time: 15 minutes
Time to table: 45 minutes
Serves 4


2 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds
3/4 teaspoon fennel seeds

1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil (reduced from 2 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 an English cucumber, skin on and seeds in, diced
1 medium red onion, diced

4 ounces watercress, coarse stems removed, chopped

In a small skillet, heat the mustard seeds and fennel seeds on MEDIUM HIGH until the mustard seeds begin to pop, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, mix the vinegar, oil, sugar, cucumber and onion. Stir in the seeds. LET REST FOR 30 MINUTES OR SO. Gently stir in watercress, serve and enjoy!

NUTRITION ESTIMATE
Per Serving: 82 Cal (41% from Fat, 8% from Protein, 50% from Carb); 2 g Protein; 4 g Tot Fat; 1 g Sat Fat; 11 g Carb; 1 g Fiber; NetCarb 10; 66 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 15 mg Sodium; 0 mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 1 point

ALANNA's TIPS
  • When you see this in the title and the Recipe Box, you know the recipe's a personal favorite. Tastes vary, of course, but the mark is one indication of another vegetable recipe that's worth paying attention to.

CREDIT WHERE CREDIT'S DUE
Adapted from Bon Appetit April 2000


(c) Copyright 2006 Kitchen Parade

Day 281: Daikon & Pepper Salad ♥

Daikon & Pepper Salad, crisp and fresh. For Weight Watchers, just #PP1. Low carb. Vegan.
graphic button small size size 10 Today's winter vegetable salad: A quick mix of crisp, wet daikon and bell pepper. Very pretty color, yes?! For Weight Watchers, just 1 PointsPlus. Low Cal. Low Carb. Gluten Free. Paleo. Not just vegan, "Vegan Done Real". graphic button small size size 10

~recipe & photo updated 2015~
~more recently updated recipes~

WHAT IS DAIKON? Meet my new favorite vegetable: daikon! Daikon is the ONLY vegetable that starts with the Letter D – who knew? (The Alphabet of Vegetables knew, that's who!) It's also called Japanese radish, Chinese radish, Asian radish and Chinese turnip; also white radish, winter radish, even the "icicle radish". The syllables mean big (dai) and root (kon) in Japanese.

Daikon comes in a huge, white baton-like root. (For pictures, see Wikipedia.) It is sweet and wet and has wonderful tooth-crunch. It lacks the bitter bite of radish and the woodiness of jicama. It peels as easily as a carrot and slices as easily as a cucumber. Daikon would be a terrific addition to crispy vegetable platters or diced/grated into fresh slaws. A whole pound of daikon has only 82 calories. It's also low-carb, low-calorie and low-cholesterol. Daikon is GREAT!

I tend to forget about vegetable salads during the winter. My mistake! This simple daikon-pepper-watercress combination tasted so fresh and alive. It was both filling and nutritious.

Leanne's Veggie Soup
Guest Post: The SISTER Cooks Too

Leanne's Veggie Soup (Vegetable Soup for the Slow Cooker)
Today's slow cooker vegetable soup recipe: One of my sister Adanna's favorite recipes, just vegetables in a crockpot and there you go, soup! Low carb. Weight Watchers friendly.

~recipe & photo updated 2012~
~more recently updated recipes~

ADANNA's 2006 POST My sister has been gently encouraging me to write a guest post, so – DEEP BREATH – here goes!

So yes, this post is being written by Adanna, not Alanna. Yes, we're sisters. No, we're not twins. In fact, our memories are so different that some times, we wonder if we grew up in the same family. For example, Alanna claims she's the younger sister. Hmmm. My memory of that is almost four years different.

Our family has always been a little over-the-top when it comes to food. Our mom taught us about nutrition at such an early age that at about age four, I finished eating my chicken at a family dinner and announced, “There! Now I’ve had my protein!” In college, when given the assignment to plan a week’s menus for a family of four on the amount of food money given to families on welfare, I was the only one in my class who could do it.

Learning such information so young has served me well.

My kids have grown up on broccoli and whole wheat bread, and while they love pizza and fries as much as any kid, they also know about whole grains and cutting back on fat. I use lots of frozen bagged veggies, both for ease of preparation and for their simplicity – I LOVE steamed veggies with nothing more than some herbs sprinkled over top.

So my sister’s A Veggie Venture blog has definitely challenged me! I’m branching out with new-to-me vegetables (last week I bought my first turnip and felt very superior when the grocery store check-out clerk wasn’t sure what it was).

I’m also, like many of us, wanting to lose 10 pounds after the holidays. So this vegetable soup seemed perfect on all counts: lots of veggies, very filling for few calories, little fat, easy to make, and delicious! There will be a cup of this on my lunch table every day for the next few weeks.

Day 280: Watercress Sandwiches with Chili-Lime Butter ♥

When the ad writers prevail upon us to take a 'bite out of life', maybe they really mean to make a watercress sandwich?

Watercress greens are just so fresh, so full of pepper -- and just taste alive. And a whole cup's worth has virtually no calories, no carbs (setting aside today's sandwich bread) and is full of those life-breathing antioxidants.

All that said, what MADE this sandwich is the chili lime butter. It added real panache to the sandwich. Over the next few days, I suspect, it'll do the same with otherwise simple steamed broccoli and green beans and ... and ...

And because the butter is spiked with flavor, only a very little is needed.


2008 Update: This sandwich is a winner!






WATERCRESS SANDWICHES with CHILI LIME BUTTER
Hands-on time: 10 minutes for the butter, estimated 10 minutes for four sandwiches
Time to table: 20 minutes
Serves 4 or more

CHILI LIME BUTTER
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 a large jalapeño, minced fine
Zest and juice from a lime
Salt and pepper to taste (I skipped both)

Stir together the ingredients. Makes 4 tablespoons.

WATERCRESS SANDWICHES
4 or 8 slices whole grain bread
8 ounces fresh watercress, coarse stems removed

Spread a very thin layer of chili-lime butter on the bread. Top with watercress.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE
Chili-Lime Butter, Per Teaspoon: 34 Cal (97% from Fat, 1% from Protein, 2% from Carb); 0 g Protein; 4 g Tot Fat; 2 g Sat Fat; 0 g Carb; 0 g Fiber; NetCarb0; 2 mg Calcium; 0 mg Iron; 1 mg Sodium; 10 mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 1 point

Rough Estimate Per Sandwich, assuming a teaspoon of chili-lime butter on whole grain bread: 121 Cal (36% from Fat, 14% from Protein, 50% from Carb); 5 g Protein; 5 g Tot Fat; 3 g Sat Fat; 16 g Carb; 2 g Fiber; NetCarb 14; 99 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 180 mg Sodium; 10 mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 2 points

CREDIT WHERE CREDIT'S DUE
Adapted from Bon Appetit June 2002


(c) Copyright 2006 Kitchen Parade

Day 279: Watercress, Iceberg Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing

After a few nights reprising the amazing watercress and blue cheese salad from Day 276, I was ready for a change.

It'd been a long while since I'd had iceberg lettuce -- the only lettuce 'known to man' until well into my 20s -- and I was looking forward to revisiting something homey and familiar.

But as it turns out, at least to my nowadays taste, iceberg lettuce deserves its flavorless reputation. Tossed with watercress, the lettuce served only as filler and in fact watered down and washed out the watercress' trademark pepperbite.

And the big shock was how much dressing it took! Day 276's salad was barely dressed and yet spikey with flavor. Tonight's salad was drowning in dressing before any flavor came out.

FROM THE ARCHIVES For more green salads, see here in the Recipe Box.

WATERCRESS, ICEBERG SALAD with BLUE CHEESE DRESSING
Bookmark or print this recipe only
Hands-on time: 7 minutes for the dressing, 5 minutes for the salad
Time to table: 15 minutes
Serves 4


DRESSING
1 tablespoon low-fat mayonnaise (reduced from 4 tablespoons mayonnaise)
1 tablespoon sour cream (reduced from 4 tablespoons)
1 tablespoon blue cheese crumbles (reduced from 1 cup)
Squeeze lemon juice (reduced from 1 tablespoon)
4 tablespoons skim milk to thin (increased from 1 - 2 tablespoons)
Salt and pepper to taste

About 1/3 head iceberg lettuce, shredded
8 ounces fresh watercress, coarse stems discarded

Mix dressing ingredients, using enough milk to thin to desired consistency. Toss with lettuce and watercress.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE
After being "Alanna-sized", Per Serving: 51 Cal (51% from Fat, 24% from Protein, 26% from Carb); 3 g Protein; 3 g Tot Fat; 1 g Sat Fat; 3 g Carb; 1 g Fiber; NetCarb2; 105 mg Calcium; 0 mg Iron; 119 mg Sodium; 5 mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 1 point

Following the recipe, Per Serving: 191 Cal (74% from Fat, 18% from Protein, 8% from Carb); 8 g Protein; 16 g Tot Fat; 7 g Sat Fat; 4 g Carb; 1 g Fiber; NetCarb3; 101 mg Calcium; 0 mg Iron; 553 mg Sodium; 27 mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 5 points

CREDIT WHERE CREDIT'S DUE
Adapted from Gourmet April 2002


(c) Copyright 2006 Kitchen Parade

This Year I Dare: The 2006 Food Challenge

[Oh so many thanks to the hillybilly photographer over at Blue Ridge blog for the inspiring Harley, who even, it's reported, loves lima beans and cooked spinach!]

So what's a cook to do?

The 2006 Food Challenge is the latest hip'n'happenin' thing, introduced by Lucullian Delights and perpetuated, thank you very much, by Seriously Good. It asks ... oh goodness ... that we further challenge our kitchen and culinary prowess. (Heavens, I'd just like to see my way through Day 365!) Still, what's a life-long learner to do?

So let's take a cue from Harley and make a game of it all. Kitchen Parade's three-balls-at-once goals for 2006 are ... SIT, everyone, SIT.
  • Playing with Knives ... take a knife-skills class to get over a bad case of I-don't-need-all-that-fancy-stuff, ignorance-driven superiority about knives

  • Playing with Peppers ... hot ones, that is

  • Playing with Fire ... figure out how to first turn on and then really use the new grill
  • Playing with Sauce ... butter sauces, wine sauces, French sauces though no getting saucy or getting soused along the way
  • Playing with Meat ... well, less meat, more vegetarian suppers

Good girl, Harley! Would you like a TREAT? Goo' girl! Very goo' girl!

(c) Copyright 2006 Kitchen Parade

Day 278: Turkey, Tortellini & Watercress Soup ◄

Ah, this soup struck the perfect note on a wintry Saturday afternoon.

If it looks like something you'd make right after Thanksgiving, no surprise:
November's broth-making and turkey-picking payoff was turkey broth and cooked turkey from the freezer and a wonderful soup that made up in just minutes.

The watercress added a bright note but spinach would suffice for the trademark 'pepper' of watercress was somehow lost in the rich broth and cheesy-salty tortellini.

NEXT TIME The tortellini definitely moved the soup from good to great. But it didn't take many: I allowed just five per bowl, which kept the soup in healthful low-cal and even low-carb territory.

LOW-CARB EATERS I suspect that this is a good way to limit carbs and still satisfy a pasta craving -- that is limiting the intake rather than eliminating a food entirely. With just five tortellini in the soup (as in the picture), net carbs are just 10 grams.

FROM THE ARCHIVES Do you still have Thanksgiving bounty in the freezer? Check for ideas here in the Recipe Box.

TURKEY, TORTELLINI & WATERCRESS SOUP
Bookmark or print this recipe only
Hands-on time: 10 minutes
Time to table: 30 minutes
Make 7 cups (the broth really evaporated)

4 cups turkey broth
4 cups canned chicken broth (see ALANNA's TIPS)
2 carrots, diced
3 cups cooked turkey, chopped
Tortellini -- a few per person (see ALANNA's TIPS and NUTRITION ESTIMATE)
8 ounces fresh watercress, coarse stems removed

Bring the broths to a boil. Add the carrots as they're prepped. Add the turkey and tortellini and cook for 5 - 7 minutes (or as long as the tortellini instructions say). Stir in the watercress, cook 1 minute. Serve and enjoy.

NUTRITION ESTIMATE
No Tortellini, Per Cup: 124 Cal (12% from Fat, 76% from Protein, 12% from Carb); 23 g Protein; 2 g Tot Fat; 1 g Sat Fat; 4 g Carb; 1 g Fiber; NetCarb3; 24 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 1032 mg Sodium; 59 mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 2 points

With 5 Tortellini per Cup of Soup: 170 Cal (14% from Fat, 60% from Protein, 27% from Carb); 25 g Protein; 3 g Tot Fat; 1 g Sat Fat; 11 g Carb; 1 g Fiber; NetCarb10; 24 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 1091 mg Sodium; 63 mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 3 points

Using full 8-ounce package of tortellini added to soup, per Cup: 230 Cal (15% from Fat, 48% from Protein, 37% from Carb); 27 g Protein; 4 g Tot Fat; 1 g Sat Fat; 21 g Carb; 1 g Fiber; NetCarb 20; 24 mg Calcium; 1 mg Iron; 1167 mg Sodium; 69 mg Cholesterol; Weight Watchers 5 points

ALANNA's TIPS
  • Add only enough tortellini as will be eaten right away. That way, there's no temptation to eat all the high-calorie and high-carb nuggets out of the pot -- plus, each time you reheat the leftover soup, add more for fresh-cooked pasta every time.

  • Awhile back, Cook's Illustrated did taste tests on commercial chicken broth and rated Swanson's Natural Goodness product the highest. Recently, I came upon updated results:
    • #1 Swanson Certified Organic -- clear favorite (I haven't found it yet)

    • #2 Better Than Bouillon chicken base -- very close second, favorite of several tasters

    • #3 Swanson Natural Goodness -- less expensive, more readily found

  • When you see this in the title and the Recipe Box, you know the recipe's a personal favorite. Tastes vary, of course, but the mark is one indication of another vegetable recipe that's worth paying attention to.
CREDIT WHERE CREDIT'S DUE
Adapted from Gourmet 1991


(c) Copyright 2006 Kitchen Parade