Ukrainian Halushki (Halusky)

This is a favorite dish of the early Polish, Ukrainian, and Slovak immigrants to North America that is still enjoyed today. You will probably find it on the menu if you attend a block party, church bazaar, or county fair in northeastern Pennsylvania coal country. This is authentic Russian comfort food that is so simple to make with everyday ingredients. I rarely go a month without making halushki, because if I do they will start asking for it. Even today, halushki evokes warm memories of our grandmother, my mother, and her sisters cooking, laughing, and feeding the hoards together. If my mother had a head of cabbage, she could feed an army!

Halushki served with vegan sausage and applesauce

Today we try to eat healthier than the original recipes that were handed down to me, but I still want the flavor and the memories. Originally butter was a big part of any Russian meal, but I swapped that out for grapeseed oil and steamed the cabbage and onion instead of frying for lower fat and calories. This recipe is not complicated at all.

Ingredients:

1 head of fresh green cabbage (chopped, not shredded). Discard the bitter core.

1 large onion, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

2 Tbsp. grapeseed oil

Place the grapeseed oil in the bottom of a very large pot. Add the chopped cabbage and onion, seasoning each layer with salt and pepper as you add more. You don’t need to add any water, because the cabbage and onion contain enough water to steam the vegetables. Steam and stir occasionally until the mixture cooks down to about half the original volume. (HINT: if you add a couple teaspoons of vinegar you will greatly reduce the cabbage smell that will surely fill your house if you don’t).

Cabbage and onions steaming.

Ingredients for Drop Noodles:

2 cups flour

1 tsp. salt (I used Himalayan pink salt)

2 large eggs

warm water: 1/2 – 3/4 cup

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.

Mix the flour and salt together in a large bowl

Make a well in the center and add the eggs. In the same bowl whip up the eggs with a fork, gradually incorporating the flour/salt mixture a little at a time until it looks crumbly. Add just enough warm water to make a soft sticky dough (approximately 1/2 – 3/4 cups water).

Slide the mixture by spoonfuls into the boiling water. (This is the easiest and simplest way to do it. Some people insist that you need a “spaetzel maker,” but that is totally unnecessary. I use two large soup spoons — one holds a portion of dough and the other scrapes bits of dough off the spoon and into the boiling water). Work fast and repeat the process until the noodles are all in the water.

Cook noodles for 10 minutes and drain in a colander. Add the drained noodles to the cabbage/onion mixture and serve.

In a separate pot: noodles cooking in boiling water for 10 minutes.
Dinner is served!

Mediterranean Hummus Platter

I saw this on a friend’s Facebook Page and thought it was such a beautiful presentation that I had to share it with you all. I just know you will want to take this to your next potluck dinner or party.

Courtesy of Nourished with Alice Group page on Facebook.com

It’s so simple to prepare!

Spread hummus on a platter.

Top with a variety of colorful mediterranean vegetables, such as:

red onion, cucumber, grape or cherry tomatoes, kalamata olives, orange bell pepper, and fresh oregano.

Serve with crackers or pita bread.

Alice has more delicious recipes on her Facebook Page, Nourished with Alice Group. Thank you for sharing this recipe with us, Alice!

Barley Mushroom Casserole (Tsar-kasha)

Because I am working on a new book series for middle grade children that focuses on early 20th Century eastern European immigrants to North America where life was hard and childhood was short, I currently have a special interest in Russian/Ukrainian cuisine. Both of my grandfathers worked in the coal mines of northeastern Pennsylvania during that era, so some of these recipes have been passed down through the generations. I am resurrecting a few favorites from my childhood and experimenting with them to fit a meat-free plant-based lifestyle.

This is a simple Russian/Ukrainian peasant recipe that I have adapted from the original to be vegan. I am including the original ingredients in parentheses so you can choose the version you prefer. This was an easy recipe to adapt because it was already vegetarian. I just made a few minor adjustments to make it vegan.

Ingredients:

2/3 cup finely chopped onion

3 Tbsp grapeseed oil (or 6 Tbsp butter)

1 large clove garlic, minced

1 lb fresh sliced mushrooms (these were traditionally hand-picked in the forest, but you can just use sliced white mushrooms from the grocery store as I did here)

3 cups water

1 cup regular barley

3 tsps instant vegetable bouillon granuals or “Better Than Bouillon-No Chicken Base” (or instant chicken bouillon or regular chicken broth)

1/4 cup snipped fresh parsley

1 tsp dried basil leaves

1/2 tsp salt (optional)

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

Method:

In a large pot combine the onion, oil, garlic, and mushrooms. Cover and cook on medium, stirring occasionally, just until the onion is tender.

Stir in remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Lower heat to simmer, cover and cook until barley is tender. Stir occasionally and add more water if needed.

Remove from heat and let stand covered for 5 minutes.

This simple recipe yeids 8 -10 side dish servings or 4 – 5 maindish servings.

My mother would have served this with ground redbeets mixed with horseradish, but I really dislike that concoction. I served it with a side of whole cranberry sauce instead and roasted vegetables. Serve as you like.

If you are interested in learning about the early 1900’s coal mine experience as seen through a child’s eyes, then please check out my new book, “Peeling Potatoes: Katie’s Story” on Amazon. Available in Paperback or eBook: https://amazon.com/dp/B0B4KTJL3F

Easy Barbeque Vegan Burgers

What will you serve at your Memorial Day Picnic?

This delicious Barbeque Vegan Burger recipe is something you can make ahead, freeze, and then pull out as many as you need. The recipe makes 10 super-size burgers, as you see here, or you can make them smaller to fit the average hamburger bun. You can even prepare them ahead! These were made to perfectly fit a large multugrain roll. The recipe takes about 10 -15 minutes to put together and is so simple you will make them often.

Ingredients:

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 can fat-free refried beans

1 cup rolled oats

1 cup (leftover) cooked rice (white or brown)

1 cup chopped walnuts (not too fine)

1/2 cup barbeque sauce

1/2 tsp liquid smoke

1 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp onion powder

2 Tbsp ground flaxseed

Extra barbeque sauce to top burgers after baking

Procedure:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees, and line a baking sheet pan with parchment paper

  • In a large bowl, partially mash the black beans.
  • Add remaining ingredients, mix well and allow to sit for at least 20 minutes (or cover and refrigerate overnight and continue forming and baking the burgers the next day). Allowing the mixture to sit awhile will help bind the ingredients together and makes it easier to form the burger patties.
  • Form rounded 1/2 cup portions of mixture into burger shapes and place on the parchment lined pan.
  • Bake for 20 minutes, turn over and coat each burger with a layer of your favorite barbeque sauce
  • Bake for another 15 – 20 minutes. (Adjust baking time according to the size of your burgers)
  • Serve with your favorite burger toppings and more barbeque sauce if desired.

Happy, healthy summer eating!

Matcha Green Tea Latte

Do you ever find a product that is so outstanding you just have to share it? Well, sometimes I do, and this is one of those times. I should mention at the beginning that I am not being paid for this review. I simply believe that when a product performs above and beyond your expectations, it deserves to be noticed.

I like to start my day with green tea… and not just any green tea. Each morning I enjoy lingering over a tall vegan Matcha Latte. Tea is very important to me, so I have tried many different brands of matcha. Some are good, and some are just meh. The very best I have had so far is Rishi Ceremonial Matcha (organic, single origin). You can find this tea at many retail outlets and online: http://www.rishi-tea.com

There is absolutely nothing bad about this tea. It mixes well and creates a decent layer of foam when I mix it with my little electric whisk. (Hint: If you do use an electric whisk be sure to also use a tall mug. Fill the mug 1/3 full with boiling water and a spoonful of matcha powder. Then, and this is the important part, completely immerse the whisk BEFORE turning it on. Otherwise you will have green matcha tea splashing everywhere!) When you are satisfied with the quality of the mix and the foam you can add more boiling water, sweetener, and non-dairy creamer if desired. The foam and flavor last even after adding plant-based creamer.

Additionally, the little container in which this tea comes deserves mention. It’s round, as every loose tea container should be — no nasty corners to trap that last bit of tea you just can’t dig out no matter how hard you try. The outer lid glides off easily and the little tab on the inner seal that helps you easily remove that seal without breaking a fingernail — inspired!

You may wonder why I am so passionate about this tea. Well, it’s not only delicious, but it also contains a healthy dose of L-theanine. Along with caffeine, L-theanine helps to increase focus and attention, ease anxiety and stress, and helps you to relax without causing drowsiness.* Sounds like the ideal way to start your day, right?

Several studies have also found that the antioxidants in green tea could enhance the function of the body’s immune system, decreasing upper respiratory tract infections and preventing flu symptoms. Right now it is more important than ever to bolster your natural immune system. Sipping this creamy Matcha Latte is a delicious way to do that. Drink to your health!

https://www.healthline.com/health/l-theanine

Recipe: Mock Crab Cakes (carrot cakes)

Do you juice? I try to drink one or two glasses of carrot juice everyday. It always bothers me to throw away the carrot pulp after juicing, so I’ve found some creative ways to use it (besides compost). This is one recipe I make often, and everyone seems to like it. The ingredients aren’t exact and you can adjust them according to the amount of carrot pulp you are using and your personal preference. The one thing I keep constant is the equal ratio of carrot pulp and cooked brown rice.

Ingredients:

Equal amounts of fresh carrot pulp and cooked brown rice. This is also a good way to use up leftover cooked rice. It should look something like this. I didn’t measure exact amounts, but this looks like about 2 cups of each which yielded 8 burger-size “crab” cakes.

1 cup finely chopped mixed sweet red and green peppers

1/2 finely chopped onion

1 – 2 cloves pressed garlic

1 – 2 Tbsp. Braggs Liquid Amino Acids (or soy sauce), to taste

1 1/2 tsp. Old Bay Seasoning

1 sheet Nori (sea vegetable), cut into small flakes

1 – 2 egg substitute (I used Ener-G Egg Replacer). Instead of mixing the Egg Replacer with water I mixed it with carrot juice.

And finally, Italian seasoned bread crumbs (enough to hold it all together when molded into cakes)

Procedure:

Put all ingredients into a large bowl and mix well with a wooden spoon. You want the mixture to hold together and not be crumbly. With your hands form handfuls of mixture into oval or round shaped patties (round if you are serving them on a bun), about 3/4 inch thick. Wetting your hands during this process helps keep the mixture from sticking to your hands.

Fry patties, several at a time, in a large lightly oiled, heavy frying pan. I use grapeseed oil or light olive oil — not the extra virgin kind (save extra virgin olive oil for your salad dressings). You can also bake them on a prepared pan in a 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes, brush cakes lightly with more oil, and turn once. (Baking is easier because it doesn’t require your full attention, but the cakes will be slightly less firm.) Today I baked them on a parchment lined pan after brushing both sides with grapeseed oil. Baked or fried, these are delicious!

Serve these imitation seafood treats with a sauce made from Vegenaise and bottled horseradish or ketchup mixed with horseradish. Make it as tangy as you like.

A yummy departure from the typical veggie burger. Enjoy!

CREAMY ASPARAGUS RICE CASSEROLE

This is the best plant-based comfort food, perfect on a cold winter day! It doesn’t call for any exotic ingredients, and you can mix and bake it all in the same casserole.

Ingredients:

2 1/2 cups No Chicken Broth or Boullion

2 1/2 cups water

1 – 1.5 lbs. fresh asparagus, cut into bite-size pieces

2 Tbsp. melted organic butter or plant-based spread

1 tsp. sea salt

3 cloves minced garlic

1 cup uncooked arborio rice

3/4 cup red lentils

1 small onion, chopped

1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced

2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast

Procedure:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

You will need a big (3 qt) glass casserole dish or oven-safe pasta bowl.

Place all the prepared ingredients, except the broth and water, in the casserole dish.

Heat broth and water unil hot, and pour over all ingredients in casserole.

Stir well and cover.

Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Stir, recover, and bake another 30 minutes.

Check to see if rice is cooked and creamy. If not, stir, recover, and cook for another 10 minutes or until done.