Pumpkin black bean soup recipe

For everyone drooling over my Best Shot Monday post, here’s the recipe. It’s quick and easy and both of my kids love it. :)

It’s reportedly one of Rachel Ray’s recipes and I think my friend Nicole gave it to me. (Thanks, Nicole!) My comments/changes are in parenthesis.

Julian enjoying pumpkin and black bean soup - 2/29/08Pumpkin and Black Bean Soup
4-6 servings; Cook 20 min, 5 min prep

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (1 turn of the pan)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 cups canned vegetable stock, found on soup aisle (I use a few cups of water and a few teaspoons of vegetarian chicken base here)
1 (14 1/2 ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice (I blend it first so that it’s not chunky, since a few family members don’t like tomatoes)
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 (15 ounce) cans pumpkin puree (avoid buying Libby – it’s owned by Nestle)
1 cup corn, frozen or canned (drain and rinse if canned)
1 cup heavy cream (I use 1% milk, but you can use soy milk as well)
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (I don’t add this since my kids don’t do spicy foods)
coarse salt
20 sprigs fresh chives, chopped or snipped, for garnish

1. Heat a soup pot over medium heat.
2. Add oil.
3. When oil is hot, add onion.
4. Saute onions 5 minutes.
5. Add broth, tomatoes or tomato sauce, black beans, pumpkin puree and corn.
6. Stir to combine ingredients and bring soup to a boil.
7. Reduce heat to medium low and stir in cream, curry, cumin, cayenne and salt, to taste.
8. Simmer 5 minutes, adjust seasonings and serve garnished with chopped chives.
9. For Vegan option use Soy Cream or Soy milk.

The NoMeatPoWeek challenge wrap-up

I decided to participate in NoMeatPoWeek, a challenge by the League of Maternal Justice, BlogHersAct Canada, and Green Mom Finds to go without meat for five days (Monday, Jan. 28 through Friday, Feb. 1).

Over the years I’ve been an on-again/off-again vegetarian and more recently a flexitarian (meaning I consume far less meat than the average American, but I still eat it), but lately meat has become more of a regular fixture in our meals. I think that in part it has been due to my laziness.

Cooking for me goes in waves. One week I’ll be totally gung-ho about cooking and try all new (often vegetarian) recipes and then the next few weeks I’ll feel totally burnt out on cooking and just make some old stand-by recipes, regardless if they include meat or not.

Because I’ve been in a rut again lately, I suggested to Jody that maybe Rachael Ray’s 365: No Repeats cookbook might bring me some inspiration, so he bought it for me. Now a LOT of the recipes in there include meat, but I found some vegetarian ones and found others that I was able to convert to vegetarian by simply removing the meat or by adding in a meat substitute like my beloved Quorn chik’n tenders. And I love that the recipes are all things you can make in 30 minutes or less, because I don’t know about you, but I don’t have that much time to devote to making dinner.

So what did we have for dinner all week?
Monday – Artichoke and Walnut Pesto Pasta (I substituted pumpkin seeds and pine nuts because I’m allergic to walnuts) – from Rachael Ray’s (RR’s) cookbook
Tuesday – Chik’n tenders (Quorn), corn and black bean Stoup (stew/soup) – adapted from RR’s cookbook Wednesday – Spinach salad and Veggie fritters – from RR’s cookbook
Thursday (Jody was gone skiing and I was too lazy too cook) – Cheese pizza from Little Caesar’s
Friday – Spinach salad and pizza again, but of the veggie variety (that Jody brought back from his ski trip)

The challenge was only through Friday technically, but I also stayed veggie over the weekend.
Saturday – Delicious veggie enchiladas out with some friends
Sunday – Spinach artichoke calzones – also from RR’s cookbook – they took longer than 30 minutes to make, but they were pretty darn good and I have leftovers for lunch this week.

It wasn’t hard for me to go five (seven) days without meat. I didn’t clue Jody in on the challenge (oops), so he still ate meat while at work and on his work skiing trip this past week, but he was fine eating the vegetarian dinners I prepared (he used to be a vegetarian for 7 years). The kids ate vegetarian throughout the week as well, with the exception of having a few slices of Applegate Farms roasted turkey deli meat two of the days.

All in all, I think we did fairly well. I enjoyed finding some new vegetarian recipes and hope to keep up on the eating mostly vegetarian kick. I’m looking forward to reading how others did with this challenge and hopefully picking up some new recipes from them as well. If any of the four recipes that I mentioned above (from Rachael Ray’s cookbook) appeal to you, let me know and I can try to get them typed out to share with you.

If you are a meat-eater, did you give the challenge a go? If you didn’t, would you consider trying it for a week, a couple days or a day? It’s really not as hard as one might think.

Best Shot Monday – 11/19/07

NaBloPoMo – Day 19

There’s nothing like the expected arrival of house guests (my parents will arrive later today) to get my butt in gear with both a) cleaning my house and b) decorating my house. This weekend was a blur of shopping (new rugs and picture frames), printing photos, hanging pictures and cleaning. We’ve lived in this house for 7 years and there were still a number of empty walls (mostly in the basement, where our guest bedroom and bathroom are, but still). Having a passion for photography and having taken more pictures than I can possibly count, I have no excuse for not having some printed, framed and hung, so I did just that. I now have five family pictures hanging in the guest bedroom, some Anne Geddes pictures (that I cut out of a book – got the tip on Oprah no less) hanging in the guest bathroom, pictures hanging in the basementbathroom pictures hallway, nature pictures (that I took) hanging in our main floor bathroom (see pic to the right – btw, my color seems to be totally off, that’s what I get for using auto white balance), a collage of family pictures on our downstairs landing, and soon to be more nature pictures hanging in our upstairs office – including my sunset picture that I finally (2 years later) had printed. I’m quite pleased with all that I accomplished. It certainly was a long time coming.

In addition to all of the picture hanging going on this weekend, I also finally made a recipe for Pumpkin Seed Pesto Ravioli (from The Vegetarian Mother’s Cookbook). It’s one I’d been wanting to make for a while now. I froze the raviolis to have for dinner this week while my parents are here, but I did take a few (OK, a lot of) tastes of the filling while assembling the raviolis and it was damn tasty. I can’t wait to eat them. :)

So here’s my non-standard best shot for the week – the ravioli I slaved away on for the afternoon. (It’s my first time making my own ravioli, so I’m a little proud of them. Can ya tell? ;) Though I do have to add, thank God for store-bought wonton wrappers. I can’t imagine making all of the dough myself!)

Pumpkin seed pesto ravioli

See more best shots over at Picture This (click the button):
little bsm button

P.S. Happy 35th anniversary to my parents (yesterday)! :)

To all my vegan friends

Help! I’d like to buy a vegan cookbook (just one) so that I can start experimenting with vegan meals once or twice a week. I am looking for something with relatively easy to make, quick if possible and kid-friendly (in that the meals aren’t so elaborate that the kids will turn up their noses) recipes. I’m mostly looking for dinners though desserts are always welcome too. ;)

So my question is: what is your favorite vegan cookbook and why?

Thank you! :)

Herb, The Vegetarian Dragon – a review and a contest

Herb, The Vegetarian Dragon

October is Vegetarian Awareness Month, and while it is only Oct. 5, I’m happy to say I have not had any meat yet this month. It honestly hasn’t been hard for me, but then again, I don’t eat meat all that often to begin with. Anyway, the reason I mention veggie month is because my next review and contest is all about a vegetarian dragon! :)

I received a copy of the book “Herb, The Vegetarian Dragon” from Barefoot Books and was immediately impressed by the beautiful and vibrant illustrations. The book is about a dragon named Herb who tends to a nice vegetable garden in the forest and is a vegetarian, unlike the rest of the carnivorous dragons in the forest, lead by Meathook, who enjoy raiding the castle for amusement (and tasty eats). The knights of the castle set forth to rid the forest of the meat-eating dragons, but the meat-eaters hear of their plan and hide out in a cave. Meanwhile Herb is the only dragon left in the forest. The knights find him, assume he is a meat-eater as well and capture him. Herb is about to meet his fate at the mouths of hungry alligators when an unlikely hero emerges and saves the day.

Herb, The Vegetarian Dragon is a story about diversity, acceptance and living together in harmony. I do want to note that it’s recommended for ages 4-10 and I have to agree that the content is a bit more mature than toddler-level. When the book first arrived in the mail, I read it to Ava (3) before I had read it for myself or realized it was meant for older children. (Oops.) While she expressed some concern about Herb’s safety and other parts of the book, I explained it to her well and she did OK with it. We have since read the book a few times and she knows how it ends which I think reassures her that Herb will be OK even when the knights are tying him up.

Herb, The Vegetarian Dragon would make a great addition to any child’s library. The illustrations are gorgeous and the book teaches some valuable lessons about life.

Barefoot Books – founded by two moms in 1993 – “offers products that are thoughtfully written, beautifully designed and illustrated, and have high educational value.” If Herb isn’t your cup of tea, check out the rest of the site. There’s a huge variety of books available – many of which celebrate other cultures. I love that their books are free of media, toy or candy references, and are unique and meaningful children’s literature. Most of the paperback books sell for $6.99 and the hardcover books sell for between $16.99-19.99. I suggest keeping Barefoot Books in mind for birthdays and holiday shopping for the kids this year.

Win it!

If you’d like to win your own copy of Herb, The Vegetarian Dragon, please leave me a COMMENT below STATING WHAT BOOK YOU LIKE BEST FROM BAREFOOT BOOKS. Make sure to include a valid email address so I can contact you if you win. The deadline to enter is Tuesday, Oct. 16. The winner will be chosen at random (using random.org) and announced on Oct. 17. It’s not required, but please feel free to post about this contest on your blog if you’d like to share the love. :)

Eat your veggies day

World Vegetarian Day
Today, Oct. 1, 2007, is World Vegetarian Day – the annual kick-off of Vegetarian Awareness Month. We eat vegetarian meals several days of the week in this house, but I made a point of selecting only vegetarian meals for this week, and especially today.

We started off the day with cereal and fruit and had leftover pumpkin and black bean soup for lunch (a favorite of both Ava and Julian who had his first bowl full last night for dinner). Jody said he even chose to even vegetarian while at work today, which isn’t that big of a deal considering he used to be a vegetarian for seven years, but he seems to like his meat these days.

For dinner I am making a spinach and chard quiche which calls for tofu instead of eggs (though I may still throw in a couple eggs). The rest of the week will include dinners like Spinach Lasagna, Fall Minestrone Soup, G-Z Burgers (G for Garbanzo beans and Z for Zucchini – a recipe I got from Isil a long time ago) and a few others that I haven’t committed to yet.

How about you? Are you going meatless today? What veggie meals are you eating?
Special thanks to everyone who signed up to ‘go veggie for a day’ below. You rock! :)