Roasted Zucchini with Orange & Lemon ♥

Ready to lighten up, vegetables turned spring-light
Today's vegetable recipe: Easy roasted zucchini recipe. Tossed with citrus zest and juice. Low carb. Weight Watchers 1 point.

Spring is upon us: any day now, really truly positively. Already my seasonal sensibility for vegetables and other foods is doffing the winter, donning the spring.

This easy zucchini hit just the right spot on a cusp-ish day, spring-ish in the morning, wintry-ish in the afternoon. Laffodil-daffodils, where are you?!

NEXT TIME I will try-try-try to remember to line the baking sheet with foil!

THE QUESTION IS Will Freddie and Alex like the zucchini? Their Mum, my pal Charlotte, is collecting "S is for summer squash" recipes this week. Big news! Their own veggie venture will soon be a book. "The Great Big Veg Challenge" -- how to get your children eating vegetables happily -- will be published in July. Congratulations to my vegetable-curious friends all the way in England! I couldn't be prouder!

THE ANSWER IS Apparently Freddie likes it! His Mum wrote: "Freddie is just going to bed and wants to send you a message." The ingredients look delicous, and I like the idea of the lemon with the extremely tasty zuchinni. I really look forward to eating this (by the looks of it) mouth-wateringly tasty meal. First impression:10/10.




MARCH FAVORITES
Each month, I look back through the recipes for my favorite vegetable recipes, just three, a favorite side dish, a favorite vegetable salad and a favorite soup. For anyone overwhelmed by all the vegetable recipes here, the Favorite Vegetable Recipes is a great place to start.

FAVORITE VEGETABLE SIDE DISH - Stuffed Artichokes

FAVORITE VEGETABLE SALAD - Bok Choy Salad with Homemade Creamy Vinaigrette

FAVORITE SOUP RECIPE - Weight Watchers Mexican Zero Points Soup




ZUCCHINI RECIPES from the ARCHIVES
~ Roasted Zucchini with Lemon, my favorite roasted zucchini, with roasted lemon slices, goes great with Maple Glazed Salmon from Kitchen Parade ~

~ more zucchini recipes ~
~ more roasted vegetable recipes ~


ROASTED ZUCCHINI with ORANGE & LEMON

Hands-on time: 15 minutes
Time to table: 45 minutes
Serves 4

1 pound zucchini, stem, blossom ends trimmed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt

Zest & juice of 1/2 an orange
Zest & juice of a lemon
Pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 500F.

Cut zucchini into equal-size pieces. (For medium zucchini, this likely means cutting into quarters lengthwise, for small halving, then cross-wise into 1-1/2 inch slices. I cut on the diagonal but this nicety was lost during roasting.) Toss well with olive oil and salt. Arrange on foil, with sides crimped to contain juices. Roast for 10 minutes, then toss a bit, then roast for another 10 minutes or until some sides are brown. Toss with zest and juices, then add pepper to taste.


KITCHEN NOTES
The very hot oven warped a not-inexpensive baking sheet. It did recover its shape after cooling but next time I'll use something like Corningware lined with foil for easy clean-up.
The inspiring recipe called for tossing with fresh mint leaves, too.


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Eat more vegetables! A Veggie Venture is the home of Veggie Evangelist Alanna Kellogg and is the award-winning source of free vegetable recipes, quick, easy, and yes, delicious. Start with the Alphabet of Vegetables or dive into all the Weight Watchers vegetable recipes or all the low carb vegetable recipes. © Copyright 2008

Stuffed Artichokes ♥ Recipe

Today's recipe: Fresh artichokes stuffed with a simple bread-crumb mixture, then baked.

Until now, anyone searching A Veggie Venture for artichoke recipes might well come away disappointed. In three years, I've collected only four recipes -- not one calling for fresh artichokes. Nil. Nada. Zip. Zilch.

I just didn't 'get' artichokes. They were eeeh, okay, hardly worth the fuss. "Here, just eat the heart," I heard time after time. Eh.

I did buy artichokes, half-writing posts in my head right there in the produce department. Two years in a row, their spiked leaves dried to nothing in the fridge. This year, they languished a good week before I forced myself to do something -- anything -- with them. Suddenly, one warmish spring evening, I was inspired to pull out the weapons that anyone veggie averse should have at hand, bacon and cheese.

And oh glory, I get it, I finally get it. And yes, artichokes are a tad fussy (especially stuffed) but way easier to trim and prep than all those prickly leaves and complicated diagrams lead you to expect. Call me glad it's early in artichoke season: you see, I've got some catching up to do.

SO ONCE THEY'RE STUFFED AND BAKED, HOW DO YOU EAT ARTICHOKES? With your fingers! I served these in big bowls, ones large enough for leftover leaves. Starting from the outside, pull off a leaf and scrape the fleshy part at the leaf's bottom between your teeth, discard the rest. After all the leaves are gone, you'll find the artichoke heart at the bottom, a cylinder of meaty flesh. Depending on the size of the artichoke, the heart will be just a couple of bites big but it's worth saving for last and savoring. If someone offers their heart, say yes!

STUFFED ARTICHOKES

Hands-on time: 25 minutes for 2
Time to table: 90 minutes
Serves as many as needed

STUFFING, per artichoke
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 cup onion, chopped small
1/2 ounce pancetta, chopped (optional, not used in the inspiring recipe)
2 cloves garlic, slivered
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme (the inspiring recipe called for fresh)
1/4 teaspoon dried ground fennel
1/2 cup fresh breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon fresh Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 tablespoon capers (I was out, didn't use these, think the saltiness would be excellent)
Salt & pepper

Lemon
Vegetable/chicken broth
White wine (the inspiring recipe uses this too, I used only broth)

Preheat oven to 400F.

In a skillet, heat the olive oil til shimmery. Add the onion, pancetta and garlic and cook til just soft. Stir in the thyme, fennel and bread crumbs and cook, stirring often, til bread crumbs begin to brown. Stir in Parmesan and capers. Season to taste.

While cooking the filling, prep the artichokes. Rinse the artichoke. Pull off the outer layer of leaves. Slice off the stem (these need to be able to sit flat.) Slice off the artichoke's tip, about 1 inch deep. With scissors, snip off the tips of the outer leaves, they're sharp!) Rub the cut edges with lemon (this is to prevent browning.) With your fingers, reach into the artichoke's center, spreading the leaves. Pull out the interior center leaves to expose the prickly choke. With a serrated grapefruit spoon or melon baller, scoop out the choke and discard. If prepping ahead, drop artichokes into lemon water before proceeding. (See Simply Recipes for a great photo tutorial on prepping artichokes. The one difference is that for this recipe, we're going to remove the choke before cooking.)

Filling the artichokes: With a small spoon, stuff a tablespoon of filling into the center. Then, working from the outside in, put a half teaspoon of filling between each layer of leaves. This is a little fussy but not hard. I actually started at the second layer of leaves, so none of the filling would fall out between the outside leaves.

Place the artichokes upright in a baking dish. Pour the broth and/or wine into the bottom, about an inch or so high. Cover with foil and bake for an hour. Enjoy!!



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MORE VEGETABLE INSPIRATION & RECIPES
~ more artichoke recipes ~
~ more stuffed vegetables ~





Eat more vegetables! A Veggie Venture is the home of Veggie Evangelist Alanna Kellogg and is the award-winning source of free vegetable recipes, quick, easy, and yes, delicious. Start with the Alphabet of Vegetables or dive into all the Weight Watchers vegetable recipes or all the low carb vegetable recipes. © Copyright 2008


Tool Tip: Asparagus Steamer

My make-shift asparagus steamer, a must-have during asparagus season
One of my favorite kitchen gadgets, a tall narrow pot to steam asparagus.

By today's standards, my kitchen is small. Whenever I peer longingly into beautiful new kitchens and wish mine were bigger, more open, more something, I think of my 70-something west-door neighbor who cooked and fed husband and six kids in the same space -- and once again feel content with my kitchen, just the way it is.

Few kitchen tools are allowed a permanent home in my kitchen, especially tools that are single-purpose. But my commitment to an asparagus steamer started early in this vegetable recipe odyssey. On Day Three's Lemon Asparagus, I sang the praises of an asparagus steamer. By Day Seven's Asparagus Tapenade, I'd finagled a decent alternative using a 9x13 pan. By Day Seventeen's Ginger Asparagus, I'd rigged one up -- very inexpensively -- using a tall narrow pot from Target and an everyday expandable vegetable steamer.

Now, upon the first asparagus sightings, I move this makeshift asparagus steamer from the back of a cupboard to the front, where it'll be easy to reach. Why? An asparagus steamer makes it soooo easy to steam perfect asparagus every time -- because the asparagus spears stand upright while steaming, the denser ends are closer to the heat source, the tender tips are further away.

PS If it's easier to buy an asparagus steamer, go for it! After all, asparagus season is short!



From the ARCHIVES
~ so many asparagus recipes! ~
~ more tool tips ~





Eat more vegetables! A Veggie Venture is the home of Veggie Evangelist Alanna Kellogg and is the award-winning source of free vegetable recipes, quick, easy, and yes, delicious. Start with the Alphabet of Vegetables or dive into all the Weight Watchers vegetable recipes or all the low carb vegetable recipes. © Copyright 2008

Country Cornbread ♥

Corn bread, a great way to use up leftover ham and other tidbits
Today's recipe: Homemade cornbread made supper-substantial with ham, sun-dried tomatoes and cheese. A 'concept' recipe.

Who's looking for good ways to use up leftover ham? Me too, it seems, always. Add a bowl of soup and this homemade cornbread makes for a filling supper. [Note to Vegetarians]

NEXT TIME I'll use bigger chunks of cheese so there are pockets of cheesiness.

LEFTOVER REPORT Don't forget to refrigerate any leftovers, there's meat in this cornbread! This cornbread remained fresh and moist for the second day.

NEW PRODUCT ALERT I love-love-love what I call 'fresh' sun-dried tomatoes. They're not the dried and dusty sun-dried tomatoes that require reconstituting in boiling water, neither are they the sun-dried tomatoes soaked in oil and calories. 'Fresh' sun-dried tomatoes are fat and plump, more like dried plums/prunes. They last in the fridge for several weeks - except that they're easy to snack on, too. Good news, they've shown up recently at Trader Joe's (St. Louisans, check Dierbergs and Global Foods first, in the produce departments) so are more widely available. Like all dried fruits, sun-dried tomatoes are calorie-dense foods and it's easy to toss back a handful without thinking. See nutrition analysis for sun-dried tomatoes.



MORE RECIPES for LEFTOVER HAM from the ARCHIVES
~ Baked Pasta with Ham, Tomatoes & Peas, with pasta ~
~ 15-Bean Soup, with beans ~
~ Bubble & Squeak, with potatoes ~
~ Scandinavian Pea Soup from Kitchen Parade, with split peas ~

~ one year ago this week, Green Chutney, a great last-minute appetizer recipe ~
~ two years ago today, Beet & Walnut Salad, the single highlight from a Rachael Ray 30-Minute Meal ~


COUNTRY CORNBREAD

Hands-on time: 25 minutes
Time to table: 1 hour
Serves 8

Preheat oven to 350F.

WHISK:
3 eggs
1/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup buttermilk

ADD:
1/4 pound chopped ham (I used leftover smoked ham)
1/4 pound cubed cheese (I used gorgonzola)
1 ounce (six halves) sun-dried tomatoes (not the ones in oil, the 'fresh' ones), slivered

STIR TOGETHER:
1 cup flour, sifted to aerate before measuring
3 tablespoons cornmeal (I used yellow, stone-ground would be great)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda

Lightly stir flour mixture into batter, stirring just until incorporated. Turn into greased 1" round cake pan. Bake for 30 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Let cool 5 minutes, cut into slices and dig in!




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Eat more vegetables! A Veggie Venture is the home of Veggie Evangelist Alanna Kellogg and is the award-winning source of free vegetable recipes, quick, easy, and yes, delicious. Start with the Alphabet of Vegetables or dive into all the Weight Watchers vegetable recipes or all the low carb vegetable recipes. © Copyright 2008


Carrot Cake Cupcakes ♥

Carrot cake flavor with perfect cupcake texture
Today's recipe: A cupcake adaptation of a Cook's Illustrated recipe for carrot cake. Light crumb, lightly spiced. Excellent cream cheese frosting.

People, as if we need one more reason to share our very best recipes, it's this: should we lose a recipe, we can call to ask, "By chance, did I give you my carrot cake recipe?" and then sigh with relief when hearing, "Yeah! It's our favorite."

My sad story: I've lost my carrot cake recipe. It wasn't even my recipe, it was my grandmother's, the carrot cake recipe she made for my 17th birthday the year it was just the two of us, the carrot cake recipe I made for her 80th birthday when family gathered from all over the country, the carrot cake that I made, after she died a few months later, year after year after year to commemorate her birthday, delivering fat squares to friends, neighbors and in her special memory, elderly acquaintances, often to huge surprise and delight.

I've searched high and low. I've called family and friends. It was hand-written on a smudged-up 3x5 orange index card, wrapped in a plastic sleeve. The flipside includes notes on each year's deliveries and details my own 'secret technique' for moist, flavorful carrot cake. I even remember the last likely time I made it: in 2001, when my parents were here on Gramma's birthday.

My sister doesn't have it. My cousins don't have it. For some reason, it didn't make the family cookbooks on either side and it's not in the church cookbooks I've contributed to. I fear it's lost forever - a special shame since as 100s of thousands of visitors to A Veggie Venture and KitchenParade.com can attest, I am hardly, what shall we say, stingy? with good recipes.

I'm sad, teary even. Sure, everyone has a decent carrot cake recipe. And the lost recipe may not have been so special except that it was particularly mine, my grandmother's, the one we shared. And I want it back! And I especially wanted it, now, to share with Danielle from Habeas Brulee who's collecting stories and recipes for her "Sweet Gifts" edition of Sugar High Friday.

Instead, I'm sharing Cook's Illustrated's 2003 recipe for Simple Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting, adapted for cupcakes. Luckily, it's a great carrot cake recipe -- it's just not mine. But you? It can be yours. And if it does become yours, won't you please be sure to share it?

Oh, and the excellent cream cheese icing that comes from Cook's Illustrated recipe? It's now mine, too, the one I'll put on Gramma's carrot cake, should I ever ever ever be lucky enough to find my recipe. (Why? It's slightly lighter, in texture, flavor and calories, than most cream cheese icings, the result of less butter. Be aware, however, that it doesn't harden.) If I do, you'll be the first to know because no matter what, I'm sharing it with the world.



VEGETABLE RECIPES from the ARCHIVES
~ more Baking with Vegetables recipes ~

CARROT CAKE CUPCAKES

Cook's Illustrated's inspiring recipe fills a 9x13 pan. To make a dozen cupcakes, I cut this recipe in half. Half would also work for 9x9 pan.

Hands-on time: 65 minutes (for cupcakes, less time for 9x13)
Time to table: about 2 hours
Makes a 9x13 cake or (halving the ingredients below) 12 cupcakes

CAKE
2-1/2 cups flour, fluffed to aerate before measuring (see KITCHEN TIPS)
1-1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1-1/14 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon table salt

1 pound carrots, peeled and trimmed

1-1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 large eggs
1-1/2 cups vegetable oil (or canola or safflower)

Preheat oven to 350F. For 9x13, spray pan with cooking spray. Line the bottom with parchment, then spray the parchment. (This seems to be able to lift the entire cake out of the pan. To just cut pieces right in the pan, I think you could safely skip this step.) For cupcakes, grease muffin tins well. (I used vegetable oil and the cupcakes were quite sticky. Next time I'll use Baker's Joy or use cupcake papers.)

Measure the dry ingredients into a large bowl.

With a food processor (see KITCHEN TIPS), grate the carrots, transfer to another dish. Add the sugars and eggs to the food processor and process for 20 seconds. With the food processor running, pour the oil into the food processor in a slow stream, then process for another 20 seconds. Stir this mixture and the carrots into the dry ingredients until no flour streaks remain.

Pour into prepared 9x13 or muffin tins. For 9x13, bake for 35-40 minutes (rotate half-way through) or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. For cupcakes, bake for about 30 minutes. For 9x13, let cool to room temperature. For cupcakes, let cool about 10 minutes, then remove from tins. For 9x13, Cook's Illustrated suggests inverting the cake onto a wire rack, peeling off the parchment, then inverting onto a serving plate.

Spread icing over top.

CREAM CHEESE ICING / CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
8 ounces cream cheese, softened but still cool (I used Neufchatel, the reduced-fat cream cheese)
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened but still cool (see KITCHEN TIPS)
1 tablespoon sour cream (loved this addition!)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1-1/4 cups powdered sugar (also called icing sugar, confectioner's sugar, it's the white powdery stuff)

In the food processor (washed), mix the cream cheese, butter, sour cream and vanilla til smooth, wiping down the sides as needed. Add the powdered sugar and process til smooth, just a few seconds. NOTE: Half the icing was more than enough for a dozen cupcakes.


KITCHEN NOTES
Nearly all my recipes for baked goods read, xx cups flour, "fluffed to aerate before measuring". This is because flour packs down from its own weight, fluffing the flour makes a huge difference in the ultimate lightness of baked goods, pancakes, biscuits, etc. Today I fluffed the flour before measuring it, then weighed it to compare with Cook's Illustrated weight information. The two were 100% in synch. It's one more reason to invest in a kitchen scale.
I used the 'standard' size muffin tins and the batter came up a little higher than preferred, creating a 'cap' that made it harder to remove the muffins. Next time I'll use the next size up or only fill the muffin cups half-full versus 2/3 full.
What if you don't have a food processor? A hand grater works just great for carrots. But this recipe uses a food processor to mix the sugars, eggs and oil -- and Cook's Illustrated's notes say that this is a critical step, that emulsifying the sugar, eggs and oil disperses the fat throughout the mixture, so it doesn't sink to the bottom, creating a heavy, soggy, bottom.
I let the cream cheese and butter warm up a bit in the food processor while the cupcakes baked.
Leftovers should be refrigerated.


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Eat more vegetables! A Veggie Venture is the home of Veggie Evangelist Alanna Kellogg and is the award-winning source of free vegetable recipes, quick, easy, and yes, delicious. Start with the Alphabet of Vegetables or dive into all the Weight Watchers vegetable recipes or all the low carb vegetable recipes. © Copyright 2008


Comfort Food: Reuben Casserole ♥ Recipe

Reuben Casserole, great for leftover corned beef, easy & very tasty.
Today's easy casserole recipe for St. Patrick's Day or afterward to use up leftover corned beef, a reuben sandwich, deconstructed in casserole form using corned beef, sauerkraut and Swiss cheese.

~first posted 2008, recipe & photo updated & reposted 2014~
~more recently updated recipes~

2008: When the butcher asked if I wanted the "big" piece of Kobe corned beef for our St. Patrick's Day feast, I was sure a "small" one would be plenty. "Are you sure?" he encouraged. "It's really good." So I charged ahead, "Sure, a big one, it is." Good advice, good decision. The Kobe beef was spectacular, moist and meaty and fork tender in my long-time favorite Corned Beef & Cabbage. The only downside to lots of meat turns out to pure upside: great leftovers. This casserole, it's a keeper. [Note to Vegetarians]

2014: Thanks, Pinterest! This recipe pops up on Pinterest often, thanks for the reminder! It's so easy to throw together, just a handful of ingredients. It made for a nice light supper and with just the two of us, was finished off in grilled sandwiches. Wonderful!

COMPLIMENTS!
"[With cream cheese for an appetizer ...] it's exceptional." ~ Diana

Swedish Pickled Beetroot Salad ♥

Our favorite dish from Christmas dinner, beautiful with ham
Today's recipe idea for a quick Easter vegetable: Pickled beets and orange slices in a light mayonnaise, sour cream and horseradish sauce. Traditional Scandinavian Christmas food. Bright pink in color!

This easy beet salad was one of three favorite new recipes last Christmas. It works so beautifully with ham, it's already on the Easter menu.

The combination of beets, sour cream and horseradish makes it much like Borscht Beets but this is special (better? perhaps!) because of the extra spark from pickled beets and the texture/flavor/color contrast from orange slices (or apples, as in the inspiring recipe from Karin at the great Swedish food blog, My Recipes).

WHERE TO FIND PICKLED BEETS? Our Christmas salad used up the last of some homemade pickled beets butcommercial pickled beets are found alongside canned beets in the canned vegetable aisle at the grocery. I also supplemented the homemade pickled beets with my favorite (and inexpensive) refrigerator pickle Swedish Beets (which, please be aware, must be refrigerated at least 24 hours before eating or using in this salad) and there was no telling the difference.



MORE FAVORITE BEET RECIPES
Once beets are cooked, they make up into salads in minutes. Some favorites include:

~ Beets with Feta, so simple, so delicious it turns non-beet people into beet lovers! ~
~ Beet & Walnut Salad, a supper salad ~
~ Beet Carpaccio, looks so beautiful on a plate ~

~ more beet recipes ~

~ one year ago today Birdseye frozen vegetables with trans fat, except, good news, a reader has written that the transfats are gone! ~
~ two years ago today Mâche with Orange Cumin Dressing, a lovely simple salad dressing recipe ~

SWEDISH PICKLED BEETROOT SALAD

See Karin's inspiring recipe, some richer for those who tend that direction!
Hands-on time: 20 minutes
Time to table: 20 minutes (can be made ahead by a few hours)
Serves 4

1/4 cup mayonnaise (I used Hellman's Light, my favorite mayonnaise)
1/4 cup sour cream with a splash of lemon juice (I used this to substitute for Karin's crème fraîche)
1 tablespoon grated horseradish (I used a homemade grated horseradish that was quite hot, you might need to adjust for this)
1/2 tablespoon yellow onion, grated small with a cheese grater
6 pickled beets (homemade or commercial)
1 or 2 oranges, with peel sliced off, then the orange cut into bite-size slices (Karin uses sourish apples such as Granny Smith, I really loved the contrast of the dense beets and moist orange sections)
Salt
Pepper
Lemon Juice
Garnished with pickled herring (my addition)

Whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, horseradish and onion. Season with pepper, lemon juice. Taste the sauce and adjust as needed. Cut the beets into pieces, prep the oranges and stir into the sauce. Taste and adjust as needed. Garnish if you like. Refrigerate until serving but bring it out to come to room temperature beforehand. NOTE: If you prefer 'lightly dressed' beets, this sauce could handle quite a few more beets.



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Eat more vegetables! A Veggie Venture is the home of Veggie Evangelist Alanna Kellogg and is the award-winning source of free vegetable recipes, quick, easy, and yes, delicious. Start with the Alphabet of Vegetables or dive into all the Weight Watchers vegetable recipes or all the low carb vegetable recipes. © Copyright 2008

Farm Pie with Whole Wheat & Lard Crust ♥

Today's recipe for a savory pie, my contribution to a collection of pie recipes at Kitchen Parade, in celebration of Pi Day. Crust made with whole wheat flour and lard.

First, the innards: good but not outstanding. I did feel like quite the farm wife, creating supper out of 'air', just cabbage, onion and hard-boiled eggs, especially here on the cusp of winter and spring when farm cellars would be running on empty.

Second, the crust. I experimented with two new ingredients, farm-rendered lard and whole wheat flour. (Do these strike anyone else as incongruous, one not as good for you, one very good for you? Do you suppose they cancel themselves out to a neutral?)

LARD in PIE CRUST Forever and ever, lard crusts have been coveted for their tenderness. But for the last 20 or so years, lard, as an animal fat, was considered 'bad' for us. These days, the belief is that lard is as good for us as -- butter, say -- so long as it's not hydrogenated. (Want more info about whether lard is good for you? Champaign Taste has an excerpt from a February 2008 Bon Appetit article.) Last fall, I bought a Canadian product, Tenderflake, a 100% non-hydrogenated lard. Heavens, it makes gorgeous pie crusts! And it's shelf-stable, like Crisco, so keeps. But so far, I've had no luck finding non-hydrogenated lard in my St. Louis supermarkets. So last month I purchased lard from a local farmer (for St. Louisans, Farr Out Farms). It's been in the freezer, waiting inauguration.

Even at room temperature, (at least this) farm-rendered lard has the consistency of cold butter, not cold Crisco. This makes it perfect for pie crusts -- and yes, wow, was this ever one of the most tender crusts I've ever made. There's also a slight -- very slight -- pork-y and bacon-y essence to the flavor, making this lard especially perfect for savory pies. I used my great pie crust recipe, Flaky Tender Pie Crust, just substituting the lard for vegetable shortening.

Now, farm-rendered lard has no preservatives so needs to be kept frozen until ready to use. Just today, I packed it into four-ounce packets and returned it to the freezer -- ready for more pie crusts, when the opportunities arise!

Question: Do you have access to non-hydrogenated lard in your stores? If so, please "name names", your city and where you buy lard. I'd love to know.

Note to Vegetarians

WHOLE WHEAT FLOUR Saturday I purchased 10 pounds of just-ground whole wheat flour -- talk about fresh. (Check with your local baker. Mine came from Great Harvest, a nationwide franchise, for $1 a pound.) For this crust, I used a 50:50 ratio of all-purpose:whole wheat flour, which created a nutty-flavored but slightly drier and heavier than preferred crust. Next time I'll try a 60:40 ratio but yes, whole wheat flour is a keeper for savory pies.



PIE LOVERS It's not too late to join pie fun! KitchenParade.com is hosting a special event for Pi Day today through Friday, March 14th. Head on over to see pie recipes and tips for making great pie crust from pie lovers across the world. I'll be collecting them throughout the week, so pop in often so see what's new.



FARM PIE

Hands-on time: 75 minutes
Time to table: 2 1/2 hours
Serves 8

One recipe Flaky Tender Pie Crust

Preheat oven to 375F. Mix crust, refrigerate while cooking the cabbage filling. Once filling is cooked, roll bottom crust and transfer into pie plate. Refrigerate the bottom crust while rolling the top crust. Layer egg slices on the bottom crust, fill with cabbage filling. Dot with cream cheese. (Note: the inspiring recipe called for spreading this across the bottom. So the cream cheese soaked into the crust. I'd recommend putting it on top of the cabbage filling, or perhaps better yet in the center, so it can soak down into the filling itself.) Add the top crust, crimp edges. Brush the top crust but not the crust's edge with egg wash (1 egg yolk whisked with a tablespoon of water) and bake for 60 minutes. Let cool for 15 minutes before slicing.

CABBAGE FILLING
Adapted from The King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion, a great resource for new bakers or anyone wanting a well-tested compendium of baking recipes

2 tablespoons butter
1 large onion, chopped
3/4 pound cabbage, chopped
1 large fennel bulb (my addition, added sweetness)
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Ground pepper to taste

OTHER INGREDIENTS
4 hard-boiled eggs, sliced thin (how to cook hard-boiled eggs)
4 ounces cream cheese (I used 1:1 cream cheese: goat cheese with some pesto stirred in)
8 ounces sliced mushrooms sautéed in 1 tablespoon butter (I forgot to buy these)
4 ounces thin-sliced ham (next time, I'd add this into the cabbage filling)




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Eat more vegetables! A Veggie Venture is the home of Veggie Evangelist Alanna Kellogg and is the award-winning source of free vegetable recipes, quick, easy, and yes, delicious. Start with the Alphabet of Vegetables or dive into all the Weight Watchers vegetable recipes or all the low carb vegetable recipes. © Copyright 2008

Weight Watchers Mexican Zero Points Soup Recipe ♥

Weight Watchers Mexican Zero Points Soup ♥ AVeggieVenture.com, the spicy adaptation of the famous original zero points soup. Vegan. Low Carb. Gluten Free. Whole 30.
Say hello to the new Weight Watchers zero points soup recipe, the "Mexican" soup. It has a delicious tomato broth with lots of vegetables and some underlying heat. Low Carb. Gluten Free. Whole 30. Paleo. Not just vegan, "Vegan Done Real".

A reader tipped me off that Weight Watchers UK just introduced three brand-new recipes for new Zero Point soups. Since A Veggie Venture readers are such fans of the original Weight Watchers Zero Points Garden Vegetable Soup, I couldn't wait to try them! The only question was, which new soup recipe to make first? Asian? Italian? Mexican?

A few of the Mexican-inspired recipe's ingredients were already on hand, so Mexican it was. And good news: this new soup recipe is a great soup for people who follow Weight Watchers. But it's also a great vegetable soup overall – definitely a keeper!

The positives: It's packed with both vegetables and flavor, no wan blandness here. It tastes like it has far more calories than it does. The negatives: Some ingredients might not be easy to find everywhere. It does require some chopping. But if you like soup made from fresh vegetables? Add this recipe to your "try soon" pile.

UPDATES I tried all the new Weight Watchers zero point soups! Check out the Asian Zero Point Weight Watchers soup, the Weight Watchers Italian Zero Points Soup and the brand-new Weight Watchers Fresh Vegetable Soup. Variety is good!

WW POINT CHANGES Sigh. Weight Watchers keeps changing its point calculations. Originally there were what we now call "Old Points" and then in 2010, we all made the conversion to "PointsPlus." And now, again in late 2015? Get used to "SmartPoints." Each change helps us make increasingly smarter food choices. But they also mean that these soups are no longer "zero point" soups. That said, all these soups remain delicious and very low in points and real staples for those of us who love the Weight Watchers food plans.