Lucky Scatterbrain [Best of Fall Vegetable Polenta Bake]

Cheesy creamy polenta topping a mix of flavourful fall vegetables. Vegan comfort food boasting with vitamins.

Two secrets to getting out of a cooking rut: getting yourself into troubles and being scatterbrained.

Polenta casserole 3

The Farmers’ Market is a dangerous place to go for me so that’s where the trouble part comes from. Even if I meant to pick up just one ingredient with a recipe using it in mind it never happens. Never. I don’t even know why I’m still trying to fool myself into believing it. The second I set foot onto the market I’m lost. Or should I say: my salary? In my defense, walking past a dozen stalls brimming with the freshest produce, most delightfully scenting breads and local honey [ even of the very rare kind!] until you get to the one you’d originally settled on is torture.

Long story short I didn’t just finally (!!) pick up the first kale of the season – can you believe it had been unavailable since the end of January? – but also lots of other autumnal produce.

Polenta casserole

About that scatterbrained part: Do you ever swear you had an ingredient at hand not even needing to check because you definitely know it’s there? Until you actually need it. Turns out you’d better have checked earlier than Saturday night with stores closed already. And when your heart’s set on a balsamic kale and butternut squash phyllo pastry it hurts just a little to notice you’re out of balsamic vinegar.

Polenta casserole 2

But lack of ingredients has the potential to boost creativity and variety is the spice of life after all. Old but true.  In hindsight I’m -very- glad I strained from my original plan because this might just be my new favourite.  The sweeteness of the soft parsnips, slightly bitter taste of the kale covered and meaty mushrooms once more mingling in a silky sauce and topped with creamy cheesy polenta? And did I mention chickpeas? Sign me up. Okay,  I guess I need to sign myself up or better yet get cooking but I recommend you do, too, for full fall flavour enjoyment. You’re welcome.

Polenta casserole 4

Also note that this is super fast and just right for lazier days because we’re preparing the polenta in the microwave.  Yes! Trust me it’s the surefire way to perfect polenta. It also saves you another dish to clean because you can eat right from the bowl you used for the polenta. I’m not going back to stovetop corn meal any time soon.

Name-wise I was torn with this dish. It’s autumn to me but I know the majority of you are used to the term fall so that’s what I ended up choosing.

Best of Fall Vegetable Polenta Bake

  • one medium Parsnip,  cut into half moons
  • one medium red onion, sliced into rings
  • Brussels sprouts (90 g) – 1/2 cup
  • Kale (50 g cleaned) – about 1 cup
  • 4-5 mushrooms, sliced thinly
  • 1 clove of garlic,  minced
  • Coconut oil for frying
  • 100 g chickpeas [1/2 cup + 1 tbsp]
  • A generous 1/4 cup passata/tomato sauce (70 g)
  • 3 tbsps soy creamer, divided
  • Salt + pepper
  • 1/2 tsp each smoked paprika and thyme
  • 1/4 cup polenta
  • 2 tbsps nutritional yeast

As involved as it might look or sound this comes together really fast.

  1. Start by sautéing the onion rings until caramelized at mediun heat. Add the garlic and fry for another minute.
  2. Sprinkle in the spices.
  3. Deglaze the pot with some water and add the Parsnip.  Cover the pot and let cook for about three to four minutes or until the parsnip is tender.
  4. Add the mushrooms,  sauté until the release some water. Then stir in the kale and let it wilt.
  5. Pour in the tomato sauce and two tablespoons of soy creamer. Stir to combine.
  6. Mix in the chickpeas.
  7. Turn off the heat and transfer the vegetable mixture to a greased baking dish.
  8. Top with the polenta and bake at 300 °F for about 20 minutes or until set.

 

  1. For the polenta: Place the polenta and 3/4 cup of water in a large microwave-safe bowl. Add a sprinkle of salt. Stir and microwave on high for 2 1/2 minutes.  Microwaves vary so stay close by to avoid boiling over.
    Remove, stir in the remaining tablespoon of soy creamer and pepper to taste. Microwave for another 2 1/2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the microwave,  stir in nutritional yeast, salt to taste and 1/2 tsp of coconut oil.

I’m sharing this lucky byproduct of scatterbrainedness with Laura, Kierston, Healthy Vegan Fridays, Gluten-Free Wednesdays, The Virtual Vegan Linky Potluck, Tasty Tuesday and Gluten-Free Fridays.

 

 

Happiness-inducing today: My main work assignment for the day. It involved visiting a daycare facility and the little ones were too adorable.

Stay in touch!

Twitter: @MissPolkadot21
Pinterest: MissPolkadot21
Bloglovin’: Let’s get living

 

Scatterbrain, going produce-buying crazy at the Farmers’ Market, …: What are your best ways out of food ruts?

What are your top three seasonal vegetables in autumn?

Do you prefer saying autumn or fall? I’ll admit ‘feeling fall-ish‘ has more of a ring to it but still, in my heart it’s all about autumn [and alliterations].

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Simply perfect [Brussels Sprout Chili with Cauliflower Couscous]

There are recipes that come together on a whim and are so simply they hardly seem worthy calling a recipe. However, when thinking about the type of recipes I prefer on other blogs and in cookbooks it’s actually just this kind that I’m most likely to try. Yes, the fancy stew that calls for roasting vegetables, at the same time multitasking the homemade vegetable broth on the stove and baking your own biscuits to go along with it is tempting.

Giant white bean chili

Taking it away right here: this recipe isn’t anything like that. Let’s be honest: who has the time and patience for a dish that takes more than twice as long to prepare as eating it does? At least on a weekday afternoon or night? If you need any more convincing of how easy and fast this is the day I first tried this I had just come home ready to chew my arm off. Granted, there may or may not have been a spoonful of peanut butter and some cereal to tide me over while the chili cooked on the stove. But it still isn’t too much work to whip up on a weekday – and even less if you’re doubling the serving size.

Chili_spoon

Don’t be surprised by the random odds and ends coming together in this dish. It’s just what happens when I’m working on another produce stash that has grown into large dimensions without me noticing. And sooner than I’d like I’m faced with the task of using them up as soon as humanly possible. Or sooner.

Chili VI

When deciding what to have for lunch I knew I wanted creaminess but also a tomato-y element. Out of soy creamer I knew tomato sauce alone wasn’t going to satisfy and when I spotted the tiny remainder of butternut squash in my fridge it seemed worth a try. And it was a good try.

Brussels Sprout Chili with Cauliflower Couscous

  • ½ cup passata/tomato sauce
  • ½ cup cubed butternut squash
  • 1 heaped tbsp of salsa
  • 1/2 cup [100 g] kidney beans
  • 1/4 cup [50 g] giant white beans
  • A handful of Brussels sprouts, washed, outer layers removed and sliced thinly into disks
  • 1 cup [100 g] cauliflower
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp chili flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp dark cocoa powder

1. Heat the passata in a pot over medium heat with the cayenne pepper and oregano.

2. Add the butternut squash and let simmer until it is tender.

3. Blend the butternut squash and passata to create a thick sauce. Add about 1/4 cup of water if it’s too thick. You’ll want it to be more saucy than like a stew before you add the beans and Brussels sprouts. Let simmer for about 5 minutes. Stir in the salsa.

4. Meanwhile, process the cauliflower in a food processor until it reaches couscous/rice consistency.

5. Add the cauliflower couscous to the chili. You might need to add some more water at this point as the ‘couscous’ absorbs some of it. Cook for about 2-3 more minutes so the cauliflower softens slightly.

6. Stir in the cocoa powder, add salt and pepper and adjust seasonings to taste. It tastes best when left to sit for a while before serving to let the flavours mingle a little.

Serve whichever way you like to eat your chili. I enjoy adding a dollop of plain soy yogurt on top and a spoonful of peanut butter mixed in.

Chili_

Because I hope others agree there can never be enough easy and quick recipes in my opinion I’m linking up with Laura, Kierston, Healthy Vegan Fridays, Allergy-Free Wednesdays and Wellness Weekends. Head over to all of them for even more meal inspiration.

Have a delicious and happy Friday!

Happiness inducing today: One of my articles for the newspaper being accepted right away – and it was even for the Sports department which really isn’t my specialty.

Keep in touch:
Twitter: @MissPolkadot21
Pinterest: MissPolkadot21
Bloglovin’: Let’s get living

What’s your favourite way to eat chili? With some crusty bread for dipping? Yogurt? Hot sauce?

Are you more intrigued to try simple or more involved recipes?

WIAW: Why so fluffy?

Would anybody like to let me know what exactly my stomach has been trying to tell me lately? An appetite that’s off the charts? Not exactly my favourite but fine, I can live with that knowing it’ll [usually] ebb off soon. Feeling a bit ‘fluffy’– it happens. But both at the same time with no change in sight? Not cool. Way not cool. However, such is life and instead of sitting around waiting for miracles to happen I pondered any possible recent changes in my life. All I could think of were miniscule amounts of new foods or those I hadn’t eaten before or  at least not in a while. So changing it up again it was and today’s What I ate Wednesday will give a glimpse in some of what I tried. Thanks to Jenn for hosting!

wiawloveyourveggiesmonthbutton2

Breakfast has always been the hardest meal to change up for me. I’m neither exactly creative nor patient in the morning. As a result I end up eating the same thing on end until I get so fed up with it I really feel an urge to change. Under these current circumstances, however, I knew changing this meal up, too, was my only chance to possibly find out what has been [yes, has not had as I’m still not sure] upsetting my stomach.

Baked blueberry pancake_Feb2014

And being the good blogger I decided to go with a common favourite that’s far from my usual breakfast[s]. Okay, another factor playing into my decision was seeing Robyn’s idea of baking any pancake recipe the night before making for a quick breakfast the next morning. The additional bonus: no flipping skills required and one dish less to clean up. Does anybody of you pancake fiends really enjoy cleaning the skillet? I’m okay with pots but skillets – especially those of the non-stick variety that require extra pampering – aren’t my favourites. But back to the pancake: a gluten-free protein oat & coconut flour pancake with fresh blueberries. It was okay. Not life-changing but nothing a bit of both almond and peanut butter [post-photo because I reheated it after snapping the pictures – no cold pancakes for me] couldn’t hide.

Pancake_II

Something I can’t forget to mention is my birthday lunch of choice. By far not the prettiest pictures [ugly, even] but it’s all you can get with impatient parents sitting at the table :(. Delicious nonetheless. Semmelknödel  – bread dumplings – here prepared using whole wheat buns which should excuse the even uglier than usual look – with orientally spiced sauerkraut. Trust me you actually really want to eat these.

Semmelknödel_Geburtstag

Even though I know the fibre in vegetables and legumes causes stomach woes for many people I couldn’t give them up just yet. Going with my cravings again after the not-so-satisfying breakfast I actually thought I was going to end up with a non-mention- or picture-worthy dish.

Giant white bean chiliTaking one bite, however, I knew I had to share it. While it started out as ‘just a chili’ I kept adding a little of this and a little of that ending up with a dish that’s good enough to deserve a mention. Brussels sprouts and giant white beans hadn’t made an appearance in far too long and their comeback had a tasty result. A perfect recipe for a cold day. But for now I’ll add it with my favourite snack [or second after apples and chocolate which share the first place ;)]: blueberries. The awesome deals at the stores continued so I couldn’t say no.

Blueberries

Writing this post Tuesday night I can’t tell if my changes made any difference yet but keeping my fingers crossed for a relaxing night of sleep after two rather uncomfortable ones. If not I’ll keep experimenting and possibly cutting out some other foods to see what works. What better day to get some inspiration in how to change it up than Wednesday?!  And with that I hope it’s a happy one for you!

Happiness inducing today: The many offers on my last post for listening to my rambles next time I need somebody to talk to. Just don’t start complaining once I get back to you ;).

Keep in touch:
Twitter: @MissPolkadot21
Pinterest: MissPolkadot21
Bloglovin’: Let’s get living

If you’ve ever experienced any discomfort or bloating despite not changing your diet:  how did you identify the triggers?

What is your go-to breakfast? I usually mix it up between a sweet and savoury option depending on what I feel like.

Con-fusing definitions [Kidney Bean Pot Pie with Mashed Parsnip Topping]

First things first: I’m glad many of you like the idea of a Blogger Birthday Calendar! Just so I can work on it [further, that is, as I already got started] please let me know your birth date in the comments of yesterday’s post if you’d like to be included. What’s not to like about birthday wishes from all over the [blog] world?!

Let’s talked [confusing] defintions! In case you’re really busy and just want to see the recipe you’re excused to skip to the bottom of this post right away. If, like me, you enjoy some random musings in a recipe post join me in my ponderings.

bite

While taking the first bites of this dish I wondered how I personally defined strange but good. It’s [obviously] never an inedible dish but just something I wouldn’t serve to my parents [or any other family member for that matter]. Granted, they are interested in new foods and dishes but at the same time consider oat bran [not kidding!] strange already so … there you go. Who knows what my dad would think of Indian-German fusion dishes? I’d rather not try to avoid creating memories or running gags of the “do you remember the time* when you served us that weird food?!”

Bean Bake

*Michael Jackson reference totally unintended but not unwelcome

The next definition confusion: Know that when I’ using the term ‘fusion cuisine’ I actually have no idea what the exact definition is. Usually being Miss proof-read-and-check-everything-twice when it comes to work I’m letting loose of my need to control everything on the blog. That being said my definition of fusion cuisine is met by just combining elements of different styles of cooking. Mashed potatoes [Kartoffelpüree] are typically German to me, the spices in the kidney bean part are Indian-inspired – ergo: fusing two cuisines. Simple. Wrong or right? Feel free to let me know if you’re familiar with these terms.

Fusion

Vegan Kidney Bean Pot Pie with Mashed Parsnip Topping

  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • ½ cup kidney beans (100 g)
  • ½ cup passata/tomato sauce
  • ¾ tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp coriander
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • coconut oil for frying
  • optional: 4-5 mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 medium parsnip, peeled and chopped
  • 4-5 brussels sprouts, outer leaves removed and quartered
  • Scant ½ cup unsweetened almond milk
  • Garlic + onion powder
  • salt and pepper to taste

For the beans:

  1. Heat the oil in a saucepan and sauté the onion until translucent.
  2. sprinkle in the spices. Turn the heat down to medium and carefully toast the spices for about two minutes. Don’t walk away or you might burn them.
  3. Mix in the kidney beans and sauté for about two to three minutes.
  4. Add the passata and let simmer for five more minutes. Lightly mash some of the kidney beans to create a creamier texture.
  5. Layer the kidney bean sauce into a small casserole dish. Add the mushrooms on top if using.

For the mashed parsnips:

  1. Add parnsips and Brussels sprouts to a small pot and add just enough water to cover them. Cook until tender.
  2. Pour in almond milk and blend [I used an immersion blender] until not completely smooth but leaving parts of the Brussels sprouts whole.
  3. Season to taste with garlic and onion powder*, salt and pepper.
  4. Spoon the mashed parsnips on top of the kidney bean mixture. Smoothen out the top.
  5. Bake the covered casserole in the preheated oven [375°F] for 20-25 minutes.

*I find tastes vary hugely so my advice would be to start by adding just a sprinkle of garlic powder and 1/4 tsp of onion powder for a start. Then season to taste.

Seeing this as a spin on the classic American pot pie I noticed just now that I’m writing this post that I actually fused three cuisines. An American/German/Indian fusion dish? Should we call it a multicultural taste experience?! I’ll let Laura and Kierston – as well as you – be the judges :). I’m also linking up with Healthy Vegan Friday for the first time.

Happiness inducing today: Many wonderful happening that almost made me forget today (Friday) [or todmorrow – depening on what time you’re reading this] is my last day at the newspaper.

Have you ever fused two cuisines? Which ones and how?

Are you a fact-checker or relaxed about terms, definitions and spelling? I’m usually really finicky about it and my colleagues and family are simultaneously glad and scared when asking me to proof-read any texts they’ve written. Knowing I’ll be deeply honest and hard in my criticism.