Easy-Easy Barely Roasted Zucchini & Yellow Squash ♥

Easy-Easy Barely Roasted Zucchini & Yellow Squash
Today's extra-easy vegetable side dish recipe: Big chunks of zucchini and yellow squash roasted but just barely, leaving some bite. Weight Watchers Friendly. Low Cal. Low Carb. Gluten Free. Paleo. Not just vegan, "Vegan Done Real". All that good stuff and did I mention yet, really really good, too?

So people, really, it is still January. Enough with the cupcakes! and the cookies! and over-the-top Superbowl party food! Enough! It.Is.Still.January.

And besides, isn't January food, you know, the food that we should eat "most" of the time, our "every day" food? And aren't all the bazillions of sugar-butter-flour combinations we come up with, even the so-called “healthy ones”) aren't these "December" food and "every once in awhile" food?

We each of us make our own food choices but I happen to love the spareness that is January. Doesn't it just feel good? Less food. Less-rich food. Less fussy food. January is a great food month, no deprivation in the least, the simplicity is much welcome.

And certainly there can be nothing simpler than this quick and inexpensive side dish! JW's daughter served it for dinner with roasted salmon filets a couple of weeks back and I've bought one bag after another of zucchini and yellow squash ever since. It couldn't be simpler. It couldn't be more January. Because yes, January food, it should be February food. And March food. And. And.

The trick – if you can even call something so simple and spare a "trick" – is to barely roast quite-large but still bite-size chunks of squash, this leaves them warm but also leaves some bite.

Vegetable Chili with Sweet Potatoes & Chipotle ♥

Vegan Vegetable Chili with Sweet Potatoes & Chipotle
Today's vegan vegetable chili recipe: A confetti of colorful vegetables warmed with chili spices. Weight Watchers Friendly. Low Cal. Gluten Free. Paleo. Vegetarian. Not just vegan, "Vegan Done Real".

What is it about chili, anyway? My recipe calendar reports that this kitchen has produced eight pots of chili since the weather turned cooler. We've made eggs and oatmeal and salads more often but other than that, if it's a food race, chili wins, hands down.

With a freezer full of meat and more on the way, no surprise, our chilis tend toward meaty affairs. But ever since tasting the Three-Bean Chipotle Chili from The Wolf, a fun little scratch-cooking spot not far from here, my taste buds have longed for another all-vegetable chili, a small bowl for lunch, a spoonful or two on the side of a poached egg in the morning, a small measure spread on a Mexican Pizza (Oaxaca Tlayuda). I've toned the heat back, waaaaay back in fact, but this is a chili that's easy to dial up or down, aiming for that sweet spot – spicy spot?! – that suits your mood or your taste.

CHILI WITH MAC 'N' CHEESE Yum! Who else loves to pair spicy chili with something warm but definitely not spicy? Chili with mashed potatoes? Years back, Iowa farm wives used this combination to extend chili fed to hungry farm workers for noon dinner. Chili with cubes of cornbread? My personal favorite! Until now! Chili with mac 'n' cheese? Back in November, we headed to Texas with my dad to visit my sister and her family, then drove down to the Hill Country to celebrate the Marine Corps Birthday in Kerrville where our friends Pat and Keri Wilt own a wine bar and restaurant called Grape Juice. I was in total heaven with a big bowl of "crack"eroni 'n' cheese with cabrito chili. Since, I've served chili with mac 'n' cheese for family here and oh! it goes down easy!

Rustic Tomato Basil Soup ♥

Rustic Tomato Basil Soup, vegan soup on the table in 45 minutes.
Today's vegetable soup recipe: It's Tomato Basil gone all rustic, showing off its pretty red, green and – hey! what's that orange stuff? - colors. Weight Watchers Friendly. Low Cal. Low Carb. Gluten Free. Not just vegan, "Vegan Done Real".

Across the country, lots of people are seeing "white" this weekend. Me, I learned two things, not bad for just coming off the holidays, eh?!

Our new glass-on-two-sides kitchen is a lovely during a snowstorm: warm and cozy inside, so white and windy outside, like being out in the middle of a snowstorm but warm and dry with a cup of hot cocoa in hand. Keep it comin,' Old Man Winter, today was a good day!
Yeah, yeah, I know, the basil came from a pricey plastic package. But even for a committed seasonal cook, to my taste Tomato Basil Soup is a winter soup not a summer soup. Usually, it's blended until smooth but I found the tomatoes and carrots and basil so pretty, I left it in its natural rustic state. What do you think, isn't it pretty?

And I'm smitten when a dish hints at what's inside. Left rustic, it’s obvious there are carrots in this tomato soup! Why? The sweetness of the carrots helps balance the acidity of the tomatoes, they really make a difference.