Mushroom Lentil Spaghetti “Bolognese”

Mushroom Lentil Spaghetti “Bolognese”

Have you seen those lists of the new 2017 trends? You know, the ones that go around the internet this time of year predicting everything from the popularity of coconut oil to the color of pale pink we’ll all be wearing in the spring? One that caught my attention lately is that “they” are saying that staying in is the new going out. And I’m totally on board with that one. If you’ve had a busy holiday season how good does this sound: Stretchy pants, pasta, wine and and a nice dinner by the fire with twinkly Christmas tree lights in the background?

Ok, just kidding. We don’t have a fireplace and we haven’t even put up the Christmas tree because if you remember last year it was FEBRUARY before we got around to taking the thing down. But festivity aside, let’s make pasta, shall we?

Mushroom Lentil Spaghetti “Bolognese”

I’m calling this a “Bolognese” although I realize that Italian grandmothers are shaking their heads right about now. A traditional bolognese has meat and other very specific ingredients. So while this is not exactly authentic, this pasta includes a delicious hearty mix of mushrooms and lentils that get all stewy with onions, carrots, tomatoes, and rosemary among other savory ingredients.

Mushroom Lentil Spaghetti “Bolognese”

Hidden in this recipe are some unconventional ingredients. I find that balsamic vinegar and soy sauce brings out a rich flavor in the mushrooms. Sage (to me) has a sausage-like scent, so I used a bit of dried sage to bring a depth of flavor to the sauce. In addition to the lentils, I also added some finely crushed walnuts that you won’t detect but they add some richness to this no-meat situation.

I used canned tomatoes as the base of the sauce and tossed in some sliced fresh tomatoes near the end for no other reason except that I find brown foods exceptionally challenging to photograph 🙂

Mushroom Lentil Spaghetti “Bolognese” Mushroom Lentil Spaghetti “Bolognese”

Aside from that whole not having a Christmas tree thing – Christmas came early because I got the chance to cook with KitchenAid’s new Stainless Steel Cookware set. The polished stainless steel is so fancy! The 12-inch skillet cooked my stewy sauce perfectly and these pieces were a breeze to clean. Plus, how pretty is this large pot (and Jack’s action-pasta drop shot!):

Mushroom Lentil Spaghetti “Bolognese”

Cook your pasta until al dente, toss it with the sauce and serve it with steamed green veggies if you like!

Mushroom Lentil Spaghetti “Bolognese”

Brussels Sprout Salad Avocado Toasts

Brussels Sprout Salad Avocado Toasts

There’s a shaved Brussels sprout salad in our Cookbook (page 68) that’s one of my go-to salads in the fall and/or winter. It has a tangy citrusy dressing and it’s tossed with cranberries and pine nuts. A few weeks ago while I was planning to make that salad for Thanksgiving, I saw a sprout and ricotta toast recipe on Epicurious and got the idea that my favorite little salad would make a bright festive appetizer. Instead of using ricotta cheese to hold the filling onto the toast I used smashed avocado – because I can never resist yet another seasonal avocado toast.

Brussels Sprout Salad Avocado Toasts

This one is super simple and also pretty healthy as far as holiday fare goes. Assemble the salad (which you can do far in advance, if you like). Before your guests come, toast the toasts, smash the avocado and top each toast with a bit of the salad.

Brussels Sprout Salad Avocado Toasts

If you’re not having a party, these are equally delicious for lunch with a bowl of soup.

Brussels Sprout Salad Avocado Toasts

Butternut Squash & Black Bean Enchiladas

Butternut Squash & Black Bean Enchiladas

Happy Friday from super-freezing Austin! Yikes, it got way too cold here yesterday and I’ve been bundled up in the house ever since. Last night, we stayed in, ate veggie bowls with roasted sweet potatoes and “vegged” out on the couch.

I think we’ll stay in again tonight and I just realized (thanks to the tortillas that I keep on hand in the freezer), that I have most of the ingredients to make enchiladas so perhaps these will be on tonight’s menu. This recipe comes from the “Winter Squash” section of our cookbook:

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Unlike some enchiladas, these are pretty simple to make. And to make things even easier – this recipe is available next week from The Purple Carrot, which means that you can click over and order this recipe (plus a week’s worth of other delicious plant-based meals), and the ingredients will come to your door pre-measured ready for you to cook and assemble without leaving your house. The only difference is that my version here has cheese – the version you order will be a delicious vegan version!. Order by next Tuesday, December 13th and type in the code LEMONS25 for $25 off your first order!

Butternut Squash & Black Bean Enchiladas

The filling here is a mixture of roasted butternut squash, black beans, and scallions (although I think sweet potatoes in here would be delicious as well). Roll it up in corn tortillas and smother them with this smoky tomato-chipotle sauce. Top with cheese if you like. Note – pictured here is not the vegan version, but there is a vegan option in the recipe below.

Butternut Squash & Black Bean Enchiladas Butternut Squash & Black Bean Enchiladas

Nacho Snacks with Carrot “Queso”

Nacho Snacks with Carrot "Queso"

This recipe takes me back to college, when I used to binge on super unhealthy things like chips and queso at night while trying to eat reasonably healthier and more vegetarian during the day. My transition to eating healthier foods took a few years to settle in. As a busy college student, the foods from Amy’s Kitchen really helped me make this transition. I loved their Vegetable Lasagna, the Breakfast Burrito, and of course these Nacho Snacks. So when the folks at Amy’s reached out to me, I knew I wanted to make a recipe that incorporated these snacks in a slightly healthier holiday appetizer.

Nacho Snacks with Carrot "Queso"

The secret to this carrot “queso” is that it’s actually vegan. It’s made out of carrots, potato, sauteéd onions, and smoked paprika, among a few other ingredients. I’ve seen these carrot-potato-based “cheese” recipes around the internet lately and I’ve been intrigued to try this sort of thing out myself. While I’ve been making cashew-based “cheese” recipes for years, the starch from the potato really creates a more gooey queso-like texture. As you’re blending it together, it seems impossible, but just go with it. It won’t fool your biggest cheese-lovers, but once you top it with the proper fixins, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

I served it with Amy’s Nacho Cheese and Bean Snacks – which makes this whole thing pretty indulgent, but remember that the dip is still made of carrots, and besides, it’s the holidays so let’s live a little.

Nacho Snacks with Carrot "Queso" Nacho Snacks with Carrot "Queso"

2016 Cookbook Gift Guide

2016 Cookbook Gift Guide

Like I say year after year – I think cookbooks make the best gifts! Here’s my official 2016 list. Some titles you may recognize because I’ve featured them here throughout the year, and some you’ll likely hear more about very soon. You might also want to check out my 2014 and 2015 lists because there are some favorites on those lists as well. As always, be sure to list your recommendations in the comments – I always love hearing about new books!

Click the books in the photo above or in the links below to check them out!

The Love & Lemons Cookbook by yours truly
Another shameless plug to put our cookbook on your wishlist and/or to remind you that it would make a great gift 🙂  It features over 100 vegetarian (many vegan) recipes that you won’t find here on the website. It’s organized by fruits & vegetable from A-Z (Apples to Zucchini) – a perfect gift for the veggie lover in your life!

Ingredienti by Marcella and Victor Hazan
This one isn’t actually a cookbook, but I’m in love with this charming book anyway. Based on the handwritten notebooks left behind from the late Marcella Hazan (author of legendary books on Italian cooking such as Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking), it’s a book about ingredients and how Marcella recommends that you select and simply prepare them. “Don’t think so much about what else you can put into a recipe. What you keep out is just as important as what you put in.” The book is based on sixty years of her daily visits to the  market and the notes are lovingly transcribed by her husband Victor. A must-have if you love vegetables and Italian grandmothers.

Naturally Delicious by Danny Seo
This book is at the top of my stack right now. If you are like me and you love healthy plant-forward recipes, this book is for you. Although it’s not vegetarian there are some really creative vegetable recipes, many are gluten free and grain free. I have my eye on the Red Hibiscus Gazpacho, Saffron Cauliflower “Rice” Paella, and the Flourless Double-Chocolate Cauliflower Brownies. I know “cauliflower brownies” sounds kind of scary but I’m SO fascinated to try!

The Forest Feast Gatherings by Erin Gleeson
I LOVED Erin’s first book, but I want to tell you that I really really love this followup. It’s packed with even more glorious graphics and gorgeous watercolor recipe illustrations. This is a great holiday hostess gift or a great one to pick up before the holidays for a little entertaining inspiration. Also, check out The Forest Feast for Kids – an adorable cookbook for the little ones!

Small Victories by Julia Turshen
I wrote about Julia Turshen’s lovely book in this post along with a recipe for her delicious Afternoon Cake recipe. What I love about this book is that each recipe gives at least 3 variations of how to tweak the recipe to make it completely new. It’s full of creative ideas and tips (small victories) – a great book for beginner cooks and avid home cooks alike.

Molly on the Range by Molly Yeh
The hilarious book from my blog pal Molly is not only filled with funfetti and mac & cheese flow charts, but check out these Cauliflower Shawarma Tacos that we made that we absolutely loved.

Sweeter off the Vine by Yossy Arefi
I follow Yossy of the blog Apt. 2 Baking Co. on Instagram and regularly drool over her gorgeous pies, cakes, and gorgeous galettes. If you want to bake like she does, I recommend picking up her book. It’s organized seasonally by fruit – a great resource for baking with the seasons. I’m excited to try her Cranberry Bread Pudding for the holidays.

How to Celebrate Everything by Jenny Rosenstrach
“How to Celebrate Everything” includes recipes for Christmas, New Year, but most importantly, every holiday in between (birthday mornings, a bus-stop social, pasta night with friends). I wrote more about Jenny’s wonderful book in this post. It’s an encouraging book to create family rituals and to find meaning in the connectedness of day-to-day family life.

Alternative Baker by Alanna Taylor-Tobin
If you’re gluten free and you love to bake, you need this book. Heck, even if you’re not gluten free, you’ll love her amazing uses of unconventional flours to enhance the flavors (and nutritional value) of the recipes. Think Buckwheat Double Chocolate Cookies, Mesquite Gingersnaps buckwheat chocolate cookies, and this Pumpkin Cranberry Nut & Seed Loaf that’s become a regular in this house. I especially love how she gives options to make her pie and tart crusts vegan by using coconut oil.

Chickpea Flour Does It All by Lindsay Love
I’m sure many of you read the popular blog Dolly and Oatmeal – I just adore Lindsay’ls recipes. As the title suggests, every recipe in this book uses chickpea flour – from savory recipes (we loved her Chickpea Flour Pizza with Asparagus) to sweet, this is a great resource if you’re looking for allergy-friendly cooking and baking.

Oh She Glows Every Day by Angela Liddon
I’ve been a fan of Angela’s blog long before I started mine. I loved her first book and her second book is an absolute must-have! Soups, smoothies, salads, hearty vegan entrees and more. This would be a great book to pick up before Christmas because she has an entire chapter devoted to vegan cookies! We made these Chocolate-Dipped Vanilla Bean Macaroons and they were delicious. I also made her Peanut Butter Lover’s Chocolate Tart and could not believe it was vegan!

Modern Potluck by Kristen Donnelley
Entertaining can be SO much work which is why I love Kristen’s book. Instead of taking on all the hostess responsibilities yourself, why not throw a pot luck? This book is full of creative, foolproof, crowd pleasing recipes. I especially love how each recipe comes with make-ahead preparation and storage tips. Check out the delicious No-Bake Sweet Pea Enchiladas that we made.

What books are on your list?

2016 Cookbook Gift Guide