Falafel Burgers ♥ (Lentil Burgers)

Falafel Burgers (Lentil Burgers), another Meatless Monday Recipe ♥ AVeggieVenture.com. Naturally Gluten Free. Low Cal.
Meaty lentils formed into vegetarian (and easily vegan-ized) veggie burgers, like falafel except shaped into burgers. Naturally Gluten Free. Very Weight Watchers Friendly, just four SmartPoints! Hello, Meatless Monday!

So here's the story.

Just days before Christmas one year way way back, my big Cuisinart food processor gave up the ghost. Quit. Failed. Died. Went kaput. And I panicked! How would I cook without a food processor?! I know, I know. #FirstWorldProblems. My mom and I trekked from one Christmas-packed mall to another to seek out a mini Cuisinart, the little prep food processor.

But that little guy was completely unimpressive. I couldn't figure out why Cuisinart would attach its name to a worthless inferior product and off it went to Goodwill. (There was good news. Believe it or not, it took some weeks but Cuisinart was great about fixing my food processor. Since then, I've needed another bowl or two but that now-30-year old Cuisinart remains an old workhorse!)

Fast Forward. Somehow I came to own another mini food prep device, call it a "mini food processor", if you will. It's still not in the same class as the big Cuisinart but both are welcome and much-used in my kitchen. I bring this up because, well, if you have a mini food processor, it'll be put to good use with this recipe! Go dig it out!

Spring Garden Vegetable Soup with Asparagus, Artichokes, Peas & Spinach ♥ Recipe

Spring Garden Vegetable Soup with Asparagus, Artichokes, Peas & Spinach ♥ AVeggieVenture.com, all our favorite spring veggies in a single bowl. Low Carb.
Today's spring soup recipe: A bowlful of our favorite spring vegetables, especially artichokes and asparagus. Low Cal. Low Carb. Gluten Free.

~recipe updated for a little weekend inspiration~
~more recently updated recipes~

The seductress that is Spring is toying with us here in St. Louis. For a few days, she taunted us with warm – hot, even – days, luring us into the impression that "Spring is really here!" For years, I've tracked the very day in my estimation when spring really arrived and 2011 (and again now, in 2016) was looking record early by some days.

But no. The real spring has yet to arrive. As I write, there is new snow on the ground and tomorrow's outdoor birthday party is moving inside.

Still, spring will come and it helps to bridge the seasons with what I think of as "bridge foods" – in this case, a big potful of soup that simmered on the stove. But this is no heavy stew or meaty soup of winter, instead, a potful of spring vegetables. I envisioned an all-green soup – thus the celery, asparagus, artichokes, peas and spinach – but then thought better of myself and chopped in some carrot for color. With a little help, patience will pay off and spring will make herself known, this time for real.

Day 312: Cape Breton Cabbage ♥

Cape Breton Cabbage, a quick, easy way to cook cabbage for a delicious side dish, way more than the sum of its parts. Low Carb. Vegetarian. Gluten Free. For Weight Watchers, SmartPoints 3.
graphic button small size size 10 A quick and easy way to cook cabbage, yielding a gobble-it-up delicious side dish. Low Carb. Gluten Free. Vegetarian. Weight Watchers friendly! graphic button small size size 10

~recipe updated & republished 2016~
~more recently updated recipes~

WAY BACK IN 2006 This is one more simple cabbage recipe, just like Day 295's Cabbage with Winter Pesto. If you haven't had cooked cabbage for awhile, it's worth a retry. I remember cabbage being kinda icky – but these last two recipes have turned out cabbage that's sweet and wonderfully fresh tasting. This recipe makes a low-carb, low-calorie and high-fiber side dish: simple, delicious AND healthful. Next time, I'll skip the egg, it just doesn't seem necessary. The trick seems to be the vinegar.

UPDATE Cabbage lovers will love this, I think. I know I sure do! The cabbage is so creamy and sharp at the same time, almost like a gentle Sweet 'n' Sour Cabbage. VERY good! I do now indeed skip the egg, it isn't missed. An egg does make the sauce a tad a richer and perhaps smoother so it might be a good choice for some meals. Do know, this may be "plain fare" but I wouldn't hesitate to serve it to guests. It would be especially good as a low-carb and low-calorie substitute for a "starch" served with winter stews and broiled fish. It could be "prettied up" with a quick sprinkle of fresh herbs (dill or tarragon, perhaps) but I hesitate to remove attention from the sweetness of the cabbage itself. So good!

"This recipe was a very tasty way to use up the last of my farm share.... Very yummy!" ~ Nancy

Maple-Glazed Chicken ♥ with Easy Skillet Creamed Carrots & Onions

Maple-Glazed Chicken with Easy Skillet Creamed Carrots & Onions, another Quick Supper ♥ AVeggieVenture.com, with a touch of rosemary. Low Carb.
No more mid-winter supper blues, I've got you covered. Chances are good, you've got everything it takes to make this tonight. So simple! Oven-baked chicken with a maple syrup and rosemary glaze, served alongside carrots and onion cooked together in a skillet. So good! Low Carb and Weight Watchers, you'll love a hearty dinner for just 6 points.

Culinary archeology, that's my new hobby obsession, slowly paging through old issues of Gourmet magazine. Back in December, I started with a stack of Januarys, oldest to newest, looking for easy dinner ideas, wondering if, some 25 years later, the recipes would still appeal.

First up, Gourmet January 1992. The ads collectively profile Gourmet's target readers, a snapshot of a heady time: expensive watches; hotels and travel destinations; wines and liquor; plus one financial service ad with the unfortunate headline, "The unfortunate burden of making money". Gail Zweigenthal's name and face were familiar but required a quick Google search: she preceded Ruth Reichl as editor. The 1992 issue featured Hearty One Pot Dinners, Yosemite in Winter, also collections of rice and hot chocolate recipes. The monthly menu marked the Quincentennial Celebration, 1492 - 1992: it strikes me that in 2016, less than a generation later, this would be deemed culturally insensitive, at best? It was a thrill to find a piece by Barbara Kafka, who'd just lowered her cooktop and butcher block to fit her 5-foot-2 frame. A wave of sadness hit when a Laurie Colwin column appeared, homey boiled beef, yes, another unfortunate word choice but still, Laurie Colwin.

But enough of the culinary artifacts. Did dinner emerge from those pages? Yes! It sure did, and a good one for that very night since the ingredient list was short, all pantry ingredients. The chicken? Excellent. The carrots? Dreamy good! They're so very much like "creamed" carrots but without all the fuss of cooking a white sauce.

QUICK SUPPERS So what's with the chicken, Alanna? First, a Note to Vegetarians. Second, I'm making good on a 2015 promise to deliver more Quick Supper recipes. Some will be vegetarian, others will include animal protein. Remember, from Day One way back in 2005, A Veggie Venture has been the food blog about vegetables, mostly but not exclusively vegetarian or vegan.

Egyptian Kamut Salad ♥ with Roasted Carrot & Pomegranate

Egyptian Kamut Salad, another Meatless Monday recipe ♥ AVeggieVenture.com, a whole-grain salad with roasted carrots, kale, dried fruit and walnuts, rained with pomegranate. Vegan.
A hearty main dish salad to celebrate Christmas Day in Egypt, that's January 7th according to the Julian calendar followed by Egyptian Coptic Christians. The whole-grain salad starts with the ancient grain called "kamut" [pronounced ka-mutt, rhymes with a mixed-breed dog, not a moot point], a chewy, nutty grain. From there? Gorgeous roasted carrots and some kale for color plus a basketful of Middle Eastern fruits, dates, apricots and pomegranate, all drizzled with pomegranate molasses. Not just vegan, "Vegan Done Real".

"We'll never eat all this," my head-talk worried. I'd just spent three hours in the kitchen concocting a massive whole-grain salad. The labor of my love sat on the counter before me on a white oval platter, a splendid pile of kamut, roasted carrots and kale plus more fruity jewels than a binge of Bejeweled. So beautiful! But my salad had formidable competition. I'd made it for the annual Christmas feast for some foodie friends here in St. Louis, our dinner theme that night was an "Egyptian Coptic Christmas". Call me surprised – shocked even – when all but a small portion disappeared in a flash. The next day I sampled the leftover salad on its own, without all the competition. Swoon ... beauty with soul!

It's a hearty salad to celebrate the Coptic Christmas Day today, that's January 7th. After the traditional 43 days of fasting before Christmas? Even better. This salad is definitely a feast food, a festival of color and texture and flavor. It would also be good for a special Meatless Monday. This salad has a few moving parts, the kamut, the carrots, the onion, the kale and all the fruit. But in the end? Totally worth it. [Still curious? Read more about the Coptic Christian tradition here, WhyChristmas.]

WHAT IS KAMUT? Kamut is the brand name for an "ancient grain" wheat called Khorosan – the kernels are twice as big and contain more protein. The texture is meaty, the taste nutty. Two years ago, it was nowhere to be found in St. Louis but is part of the wonderful product lineup from Bob's Red Mill. But if you can't find kamut, a good substitute would be the Italian grain called farro. Barley would also be a good substitute, so would buckwheat. (For my fellow Word Dancers. A brand name for a food, really? You know, like Kleenex is to tissue. Or Parmigiano Reggiano for genuine parmesan cheese.)

Best Everyday Vegetable Recipes of 2015 from A Veggie Venture

Best Vegetable Recipes for Everyday 2015 ♥ AVeggieVenture.com. Want to eat more vegetables? Find new ideas and inspiration in this special year-end collection of everyday recipes for vegetable lovers. Many vegetarian, vegan, low-carb, paleo and Weight Watchers friendly recipes.
A Veggie Venture's Best Recipes from 2015, just one per month, all in one handy spot for easy reference, all "everyday vegetable recipes" to make again and again.

I'm going out on a limb this year. For the first time ever, A Veggie Venture's "Best Recipes" of 2015 are not the most clicked, pinned, shared or even the most liked recipes.

Forget popularity. I'm standing up usefulness!

So this collection of recipes are the most every-day recipes, special in their very every-day-ness, recipes destined to be made and remade so often they'll fast lose recipe status and become "just a little something you whipped up."

Truth is? I've personally made all but two of these recipes more than once, three many times, seven of the twelve many-many-many times. And I wasn't "recipe testing". I was just putting breakfast on the table. Or making lunch. Or a salad. In my kitchen? Those are the best recipes of all, the ones you pull out every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the Best Everyday Vegetable Recipes. I hope one or two or three or even more will find a home in your kitchen too.

Anddddd ... because social media is oh-so-fun, I've already added each of these recipes to a Pinterest board called My Best Recipes – extra-easy for re-pinning! I will add recipes from prior years too, way back to 2002!

So okay, here you go, the Best Recipes of 2015. Which ones have your name on them? Let everyone know in the comments!

Cabbage & Pepper Chakchoukah ♥ aka OogaChaka Eggs

Cabbage & Pepper Chakchoukah aka Ooga-Chaka Eggs, another healthy breakfast ♥ AVeggieVenture.com. A savory make-ahead vegetable stew, perfect for nesting runny eggs. Low Carb. For Weight Watchers, just PointsPlus 3.
Today's healthy breakfast recipe: Say hello to "Chakchoukah" – a savory Tunisian stew, perfect for nesting runny eggs. Low Carb. For Weight Watchers, just PointsPlus 3. Totally satisfying!

So stop me now, wouldja please? My fingers may haltingly tap out the unfamiliar combination of letters for Chakchoukah but what my brain insists on spilling out is that 1970s ear worm of a song, Ooga-chaka Ooga-chaka.

OogaChaka Eggs, how's that? It's got a ring, right? But that would ignore the North African roots of this dish, what I called Shakshuka (Eggs Nested in Summer Vegetables) when I first fell for baking eggs in tomato-y skillets. Call these eggs what you like but do, yes, make them one day this week because heaven knows, we need an antidote for the sugar, butter, cream and wine consumed in the last week. I so love it when Christmas falls on the weekend – Monday's return to healthy food is such a relief! But if I'm not really-really careful, though? It's the week between Christmas and New Year's when it's way-way easy to let your guard down.

Clean eating? It deserves its own earworm.