Iris Inn Spinach Artichoke Breakfast Casserole

iris-inn-spinach-casserole

For several years my husband and I made an annual long weekend excursion to the Shenandoah River Valley in Virginia. Always in Autumn so we could enjoy the gorgeous scenery dressed in stunning colors of orange, red and gold, and we were never disappointed. In mid to late October Virginia is still warm enough to enjoy outdoor fun like hiking and kayaking with only a sweater or light jacket occasionally needed.

We’ve stayed in many hotels and B&B’s on these vacations, but our favorite has always been The Iris Inn in Waynesboro. (www.irisinn.com). Built as a Bed & Breakfast (never a family home), this establishment offers everything you could want: secluded country location, yet close to many things to do and sites to see, beautiful accommodations from private rooms to individual cabins, and delicious bountiful breakfasts.

As vegetarians, breakfast at any B&B is always a challenge, however our hosts at The Iris Inn always tried to accommodate when we warned them in advance. One morning we were pleasantly surprised when the friendly innkeeper handed out recipes for the breakfast being served. Now, we usually tell people when we eat out that we are vegetarians (to relieve some of the pressure on them), but at home we follow a vegan lifestyle, so I was thrilled to have a copy of this casserole recipe that I easily veganized to enjoy at home. If you are planning to serve a brunch or take a dish to a potluck, this recipe is perfect for either occasion. It goes together quickly with only a few ingredients and is a welcome savory addition to any brunch table that even a vegan can enjoy. I hope you like it!

Ingredients:

3 – 10 oz. packages, or 1 – 32 oz. package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained (you can do this overnight)

12 ounces vegan “cream cheese” ( I used Tofutti brand Better Than Cream Cheese)

1/4 cup organic butter or vegan “butter” at room temperature

1/3 cup unsweetened almond milk

2 – 6oz. jars marinated artichokes, drained

Cracked pepper

1/2 cup Vegan “Parmesan Cheese” (Search under “Recipes” to make your own)

-Place spinach in the bottom of a large greased glass baking dish. Top with chopped artichokes.

-Mix together vegan “cream cheese,” “butter,” and  almond milk. Spread this mixture on top of spinach and artichokes in the dish.

-Top with vegan parmesan and cracked pepper, to taste.

Bake at 350 for 40 minutes. Serve warm.

 

 

 

 

Raw Vegetable and Nut Cereal

We call this cereal, but it’s really a salad disguised as breakfast.  It’s the strangest and healthiest breakfast cereal I have ever LOVED!  This recipe doesn’t contain any actual cereal at all, but oddly enough, it does have a granola-like texture and taste.  I promise, it is really good — the teenagers in our house have been known to eat three bowls full!  This simple recipe makes enough for several generous servings and will keep in your refrigerator for a couple of days (if it lasts that long).

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cup carrot

1/4 cup pecans or almonds

1/2 cup cauliflower

1 cup broccoli

1/2 apple (peeled if not organic)

Method:

Cut vegetables into chunks.  Chop carrots for about four seconds in food processor.  Add other ingredients to processor and pulse until desired texture is reached (pieces about the size of granola).  That’s it — wasn’t that easy?

Pour all in a bowl, and top with maple syrup (or sweetener of your choice) and pour almond or soy milk over top.

Optional: Sprinkle raisins and/or cinnamon on top.

Overnight Chai Steel-Cut Oats

In a perfect world I would wake up early each morning to make a hot breakfast for my family before sending them out into the cold, but in reality I am NOT a morning person. When I saw this recipe in Vegetarian Times magazine I knew it was created for people just like me and simply had to share it. It can all be assembled the night before and requires NO COOKING, yea!  The spicy chai flavor is wonderful, too.

Ingredients:

1 cup steel-cut oats

1 cup hemp milk (I used almond milk)

2 Tbs. chia seeds

1/4 tsp ground cardamom

1/4 tsp. vanilla extract

1/4 tsp ground ginger, OR 1 Tbs. crystallized ginger (I used)

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

1 pinch ground black pepper

1 Tbs. maple syrup, optional (I used)

1 Tbs. shredded coconut, optional (I omitted)

1 Tbs. chopped pistachios, optional (I omitted)

Method:

Combine oats, “milk,” chia seeds, cardamom, vanilla, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, black pepper, and maple syrup in a glass jar with a lid. Stir, close, and refrigerate overnight.

The next morning just open lid, stir, and serve sprinkled with coconut and pistachios if using.  I served it with sliced bananas and a little added almond milk instead, and it was delicious! If you desire you may warm it slighty before serving.

Makes 2 one cup servings at 270 calories each.

You can find more great recipes at http://www.vegetariantimes.com.

To find great deals on a subscription to “Vegetarian Times” magazine try these websites:

http://www.magazines.com

http://www.amazon.com

http://www.magazinepricesearch.com

Two Easy Granola Recipes

These are two of my favorites.  I always have some type of granola in the house for a quick nutritious breakfast or an easy pie or cobbler topping.  With the price commercial cereals it really is more cost effective to make your own, and then you know exactly what’s in it — all your favorites!
Both of these recipes are very adaptable.  I’ve been trying to avoid wheat, so I don’t use the wheat germ or bran, but double up on one or two of the other ingredients or simply omit them. Granola #2 (low-fat) is perfect for the dehydrator instead of baking; 105 degrees for 4 – 6 hours, or until dry. (I haven’t experimented with Granola #1 in the dehydrator yet)
Granola #1
3 c. rolled oats                                                1/2 c. vegetable oil
1 c. coconut                                                     1/2 c. honey
1 c. chopped nuts
1 1/2 c. wheat germ
1/2 c. toasted sesame seed
1/2 c. raw sunflower seeds (unsalted)
Toast oatmeal 10 minutes @ 250 degrees.
Add other ingredients (I use a large oblong cake pan to do all this).
Blend together honey and oil, and pour this mixture on top of everything in cake pan.  Stir well to coat.
Spread out mixture and bake @ 300 degrees for about 30 minutes stirring every 10 minutes.
Cool and add any dried fruit you like (raisins, cranberries, blueberries, etc.)
Granola #2
In a large bowl combine:
4 – 5 c. rolled oats
3/4 c. wheat bran
1/2 c. bran or bran flakes (optional)
1/2 c. sesame seeds
3/4 c. coconut
3/4 c. raw sunflower seeds
1/2 c. slivered almonds
1/2 c. chopped walnuts
3/4 c. flax seeds (ground or not)
In a separate bowl mix together:
1/3 c. raw, unfiltered honey
2 tsp. vanilla
1/3 c. fresh apple juice
Pour liquid over dry ingredients, stir to distribute evenly.
Spray oblong cake pan with PAM. Pour entire mixture into pan and bake @ 300 degrees for 30 – 45 minutes, stirring every 10 – 15 minutes.
Cool.  Add any chopped dried fruit.  Store in airtight container.
Enjoy!

No-Bake Granola Bars

I have been on a search for a good granola bar recipe for a long time.  They are nice to have on hand for lunches or a quick grab-and go breakfast or snack.  The price of granola and power bars in the supermarket is just going through the roof, and I refuse to pay so much for something I know is just a compilation of the ingredients I already have in my own kitchen.  Also, I like to know exactly what goes into the food I am eating, prefer organic, and cringe to read the long list of unidentifiable ingredients in most packaged products in the grocery store.

This recipe makes 12 – 16 good size bars.  They can be individually frozen or dehydrated if you prefer a crisper granola bar (I have found that dehydrating them is more successful if they are sliced thinner, so you will have more, but smaller, granola bars).  The recipe is very adaptable so feel free to experiment*.

Ingredients:

4 c. Old Fashioned rolled oats

1 c. raw sunflower seeds

1/2 c. chopped dates

1/2 tsp. Kosher salt

2 tsp. cinnamon

1/3 c. raw honey

1/2 c. almond or cashew butter

1/2 c. almonds or cashews, chopped

2 Tbsp. tahini

juice of one fresh orange

In a large bowl combine all dry ingredients.  In a smaller bowl blend together nut butter, tahini, raw honey, and fresh orange juice; pour over dry ingredients and stir well to mix until it starts to hold together almost like cookie dough.

Press mixture into an oiled 8″x8″ pan and refrigerate overnight.  Cut into bars, individually wrap, and enjoy.  (May be frozen or dehydrated after cutting).

*You can play with these ingredients by substituting pumpkin or flax seed for half the sunflower seeds, use a different type nut, add some dried berries in place of half the nuts, etc.  It will still make a delicious granola bar, so be creative!

Recipe: Baked Rice Pudding (vegan)

   This time of year, when the weather traps us inside, I always like to fill the kitchen with the wonderful smells I remember from childhood. Something sweet and creamy, like this vegan rice pudding, is the perfect comfort food for dessert or even breakfast on a cold day. There are only a few ingredients, and it goes together quickly. It does take a long time to bake, but the way the house smells as it bakes makes it worth the time. Everyone who comes in will say, “Yum, what smells so good?”

BAKED RICE PUDDING (vegan)

1/2 cup white or brown rice (brown rice takes a little longer to cook)

4 c. soy milk

2 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. cinnamon

dash of nutmeg

1/4 c. honey

   Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and then transfer to a lightly sprayed, ovenproof, 1 1/2 qt. casserole.

   Bake uncovered for 2 – 3 hours, stirring every half hour, until done. Remove from oven just before rice is completely done because it will continue to cook a little as the rice cools. If you cook until you think it’s completely done the rice may get mushy as it cools, and I think rice pudding is best when each grain of rice is separate and distinct — not one congealed mass.

   Serve warm or cold — it’s delicious either way!

Baked Rice Pudding (vegan)