Something was buzzing at her hair and in her sleepy confusion, she swatted her iPhone to the floor. The buzzing only grew louder against the hardwood in her living room. Evie finally squeaked open one eye, the one not squished against the ratty rug under the sofa.

“Oh shit!” she scrambled for the phone, “yeah!? I mean, hello?”

“Hey kale breath, you’re late! The party started an hour ago,” Kim joked, reminding her of the sales launch meeting that Evie was clearly missing.

Even though she was only one step up from a Betty, if she valued a future in Marketing, she needed to make a showing at the quarterly meeting. But she could barely stand upright and she had an even more challenging time recalling how she ended up asleep on the living room floor.

“There was food and wine, lots of wine. I see one…no…three bottles on the coffee table. Kim, I don’t remember anything. Just that Mitch came over to talk, and…we…uh, arm wrestled for dessert.” Evie recounted.

“Well, that might explain why he’s wearing a smirk today. You’ll have to tell me everything over lunch,” Kim replied, “Now get your baked buns down here before Spanx notices you’re missing. They’ve catered baked ziti today.”

Coulda used more juice, next time I’ll up the tomato sauce to 5 cups.

Baked Ziti with TWO cheeses and kale!

  • 1  16 oz. bag ziti pasta, boiled to al dente and drained
  • 3 cups your favorite tomato sauce (I should have used 4 or even 5 cups as my ziti was a tad dry)
  • 1 batch kale ricotta (using Susan’s Spinach Ricotta below but replacing spinach with kale)
  • 1 batch tangy cashew creme sauce (using Allison’s recipe below)
  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. Stir the pasta and tomato sauce together in a big bowl. Gently fold in the ricotta so it stays lumpy.
  3. Pour into a large baking dish.
  4. Dollop the cashew creme onto the ziti and use a butter knife to marble it through the pasta but don’t mix it in too well. You want to see ribbons of creme sauce.
  5. Cover with foil and bake for 30-40 minutes at 375F.

Husband Rating: 3 man grunts and he went back for seconds.

Optional add ins: If you want to up the veggie ante, toss in some mushrooms, peppers or kalamata olives. Just don’t use carrots. For the love of all things Italian, don’t use carrots please. It just ain’t right.

Susan’s Ricotta but with Kale

I pulled this ricotta, with permission, from Susan’s favorite lasagna recipe on her blog, Fatfree Vegan Kitchen. If you’re looking for a great lasagna, try her recipe! And BTW, this ricotta would be awesome without any greens at all, just in case you need something like that. It’s the kind of flavor combination you can eat from the bowl when no one’s looking.

  • 2 cups steamed kale (original recipe calls for 10 oz. frozen spinach)
  • 1 lb. firm tofu, not silken
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 1  1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed rosemary (I used rubbed rosemary)
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne

Put all ingredients, except kale, in a food processor and pulse until incorporated.  Add kale and pulse until mixed but don’t process so long that the ricotta turns green. You can also use a potato masher and do this by hand to get a chunkier, ricotta-like result.

Allison’s Cashew Creme

Allison also has a great ziti recipe from her column, VeganizeIT! in VegNews magazine. That’s where I snagged, with permission, this amazing and tangy cashew creme to give me something gooey for my ziti. Check out all her recipes from the VegNews column. She recently won the Veggie Award for favorite column in VegNews. Congrats Allison!

  • 3/4 cup raw cashews
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried dill (I subbed basil since I didn’t have any dried dill)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1  1/2 tablespoon lemon juice (about one lemon)
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon rice vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced with 2 tablespoons set aside

If you don’t have a high-speed blender like a Blendtec, blend the cashews into a fine powder first then add the remaining ingredients. But if using a fancy blender, you can  dump it all in at once and blended until creamy.

Snarky’s Basic Tomato Sauce

If you need a basic tomato sauce recipe, this one works. You could also use jarred sauce if you have a fave.

  • 3 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2  15oz cans tomato puree
  • 1/2 cup red wine, not a sweet wine
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 3 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried fennel
  • pinch or two of cayenne (optional)
  • salt to taste
  1. Saute garlic in oil until translucent.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and simmer on low for at least 40 minutes to deepen the flavors.
  3. Set aside until needed or make several days ahead and refrigerate.

Collapsing into her favorite chair, Evie reran the day’s horror show in her mind. Mitch was now her boss. She really didn’t see it coming. How could she? They’d only had one real date and then he never texted.

Having skipped lunch due to the stress of dropping her half-chewed donut into her hot pockets in front of her new boss, his boss, and all the Bettys, she was now starving. If she expected to develop a smart game plan for dealing with The Mituation, she would need food. And wine. Lots of wine.

She poured her current fave, Hahn Syrah, and began pulling together ingredients to make her favorite comfort food, potato gratin, with kale of course. The gooey potatoes would help ease the day’s stun and kale always helped her think.

Mesmerized by her own stirring of the béchamel, she barely heard the door buzzer. She wasn’t expecting anyone and she really wasn’t in the mood. Even if it were Kim. The last thing she wanted after the kick in the stomach at this morning’s meeting was getting ribbed in the side.

The door buzzed again. They weren’t going away.

“Only trolls live here, beware yee who want entry,” she growled into the mic.

“It’s me, Mitch. We have to talk,” came the reply from the tiny butch voice in the speaker.

Au Gratin Potatoes, Leeks, and Kale

  • 1 pat of margarine, enough to coat the baking pan
  • 4-5 Yukon or gold potatoes, sliced 1/8-inch thick
  • 2 cups sliced leeks, washed and drained
  • 4 cups chopped kale, washed and dried
  • 2 cups béchamel sauce (recipe below)
  • 1 cup shredded vegan mozzarella or your favorite crumbly topping like vegan parma
  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Coat the baking pan with the pat of margarine.
  3. Line the bottom of the pan with sliced potatoes, overlapping by 1/3 so they fan out evenly. This makes the gratin easier to serve after baking.
  4. Spread the sliced leeks as the next layer. Top with the chopped kale.
  5. Spoon the béchamel over the top, smearing it on the kale as you go.
  6. Cover with foil and bake at 400F for 45 minutes. Uncover and add your topping. Bake an additional 10-15 minutes until topping is melted or browned (depends on your preferred topping).

NOTE: You could add a cup of vegan cheese to the béchamel before pouring on the gratin if you want an extra cheesy sauce.

Béchamel

  • 2 T. margarine
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 T. flour
  • 2 cups almond milk, heated in the microwave
  • 1 cube veggie bouillon or Not Chick’n broth dissolved in the milk
  1. Heating the milk separately helps the bouillon dissolve. Do this and set aside.
  2. Sweat the garlic in the margarine over medium heat.
  3. Add the flour and stir to create a light golden roux.
  4. Slowly stir or whisk the almond milk/bouillon mixture into the roux, working on those lumps as you go.
  5. Continue stirring over medium heat until béchamel starts to thicken. Then it’s ready to pour on the gratin.

NOTE: Remember, the darker the roux, the less it will thicken your sauce later. That’s what you trade for a smokey, dark roux.

The kale balls she made on Friday had reminded her too much of Mitch, whom she hadn’t heard from in a week. Where was he anyway and why hadn’t he texted? Evie felt let down again by yet another guy. So, she took out her frustrations in the kitchen, as usual. This time making donuts. Not that there was anything remotely nut-like about them. “They’re more like dough-holes, really,” she thought, deciding they’d come in handy for the Monday morning staff meeting since it was her turn to bring the goodies.

Evie arranged her donuts next to the coffee as the team started filing into the conference room. Mr. Spanx had sent a memo on Friday alerting everyone they’d be welcoming a new employee today and not to be late. All anyone knew for sure was that the the newbie would be managing Evie’s department, replacing Angie who’d been caught having a tryst with the photocopier.

Kim slithered in next to Evie, both of them facing the windows. Jorge sat opposite Kim, as usual, just to watch her squirm. Bettys filled the chairs unoccupied by suits. Soon, the only chair open was at the end opposite Mr. Spanx, Angie’s old chair.

Evie was too focused on the sweet-tart, lemon glaze on her donut to notice the replacement entering. She was making like a squirrel with stuffed cheeks when Spanx instructed, “Everyone, please stand and welcome our newest team member.”

Evie stood, turned to greet her new manager, then suddenly dropped her jaw allowing wads of donut to complement her cleavage.

“Mitch O’Donnell! Welcome!” said Spanx.

Mitch, handing Evie a napkin, said with a grin, “Well, I guess that didn’t go down well.”

Kale Donuts with Lemon Glaze

Today’s yummy donut recipe comes from A, B, C, Vegan. They’re low-fat, moist, baked, and contain a blend of kale and zucchini. Her recipe makes 12 donuts which will net you about 1/4 cup of veggies per. She has a glaze recipe along with her donut recipe but I used a simple lemon glaze (below). I did not deviate from her recipe for the donuts though. It works well and the resulting green donuts could easily work for a Halloween party.

Lemon Glaze

  • 2 T. margarine
  • juice from 2 large lemons
  • 3 cups powdered sugar, better if sifted

Melt margarine over low heat in a saucepan. Add the lemon juice and powdered sugar and stir or whisk until all lumps are gone and sugar is blended and not grainy. Spoon over hot donuts.

You may have to reheat the glaze to liquify which is why it drools better down the side of hot donuts. If your donuts are already cooled, you’ll have to spread it on then with a knife or spoon.

Garnish option: Before the glaze sets, sprinkle with lemon zest. Zest won’t stick if the glaze has cooled.

There was little Evie loved more than good balls. They had to be a little salty, smell yummy, and a combination of spicy and sweet always sent her over the edge.

Evie kept her balls in a jar, on a shelf, in the fridge. They stayed fresher that way so she could include them in her morning bento for the gym. One of her secret pleasures was savoring a healthy kale ball after watching the buff boys lift weights. Luckily, her balls weren’t sweaty.

Use a wide mouth Ball jar so your balls are easier to retrieve.

Curry Kale Balls

Pulse the following in a food processor until evenly ground but stop before it gets gummy:

  • 1 t. curry powder, Madras style, hot
  • 1 cup pistachios, shelled, I prefer roasted and salted
  • zest from 1 lemon

Add and process until evenly chopped and mixed:

  • 1 cup chopped kale, Dino/Tuscan type, no stems

Add these last and run the processor until a soft dough starts to collect. It will still be crumbly but will hold together.

  • 8 medjool dates, pitted

Roll 12-14 balls between your palms then roll them in 1/4 cup pistachios, crushed fine, to coat.

Depending on how big you like your balls, you’ll get around a dozen. Keep refrigerated until needed.

NOTE: 1 teaspoon of hot Madras curry powder will give you a very slight heat in your throat after you swallow. If you want them hotter, add more but I wouldn’t go over 1 tablespoon unless you have big balls.

More balls from VeganMofo 2012!

If I’ve neglected your balls, please leave a comment with a link!

Sweet balls
http://zbveganrecipes2.blogspot.com/2012/10/vegan-mofo-indulgences.html
http://thatpainintheassvegan.blogspot.com/2012/10/vegan-mofo-day-2-aw-hell-no-t-dogs.html
http://www.joannavaught.com/2012/10/08/snowballs/
http://dadavegan.blogspot.com/2012/10/vegan-mofo-1st-truffles.html
http://www.notjustgranola.ca/2012/10/11/mocha-energy-balls
http://goldensunrise.tumblr.com/post/33348599104/peanut-butter-cookie-balls-via-choccoveredkt
http://thealmostvegan.com/chocolate-peanut-butter-balls/
http://blog.veganosaurus.com/2012/10/cashew-barfi-truffles-and-video-vegan.html
http://veganyackattack.com/2012/10/03/cocoa-nut-quinoa-bites/
http://vegansparkles.com/2012/10/02/veganmofo-pistachio-date-coconut-bliss-balls/
http://veggiev.wordpress.com/2012/10/02/coconut-goji-balls/

Savory balls
http://veganfoodrocks.blogspot.com/2012/10/mofo-post-3-veggies-balls-and-pasta.html
http://tofu-n-sproutz.blogspot.com/2012/10/tofu-non-meat-balls.html
http://chaletbakery.com/2012/10/08/spaghetti-and-neatballs/
http://elitefood.wordpress.com/2012/10/05/mushroom-balls/
http://tuxedocat.us/2012/spaghetti-tofu-balls
http://dontfearthevegan.com/2012/10/04/sauerkraut-soup-and-czech-vegan-in-america/
http://urbanvegan.net/2012/10/vegan-mofo-sweet-ish-meatballs.html
http://alienontoast.blogspot.com/2012/10/vegan-mofo-day-3-balls-hehe.html
http://veganforthewin.wordpress.com/2012/10/02/tofu-cookery-tofu-spaghetti-balls/
http://cockbullstory.blogspot.com/2012/09/vegan-on-holiday-spaghetti-and-spinach.html

Balls with ears
http://forkandbeans.wordpress.com/2012/10/05/rawchocolate-cake-pops/

“Hey there, kale breath. What’s for lunch?” laughed Kim.

Evie rolled her eyes and motioned to her leftover potato kale salad with a side of cherry tomatoes. Best idea she ever had; mixing in kale to add nutrients to a high carb dish.

At that moment, Jorge from sales strutted into the office kitchen, flashing his beamer at the girls as he made way toward the coffee machine. Evie had always had a crush on Jorge. He was so dashing and confident, as only the top-earning sales associate could be. He knew it too, he knew all the interns liked to watch him. And he was good at putting on a show.

Swaying to the slow rhythm of his spoon stirring the coffee, he turned to give them a rear view, just for fun. Evie couldn’t stand it any more, “Jorge—hon—do you need help with your coffee? Cuz you know, Kim specializes in cups of all sizes.” Kim kicked her under the table. If anyone had a bigger crush on Jorge than Evie, it was Kim.

Jorge planted himself spread eagle at the table facing them and proceeded to sip his brew, slowly. Kim flushed redder than Evie’s tomatoes then dashed to the ladies room.

“So, Eeeeeevie. Don’t you have a new client to show around the office today?” The sound of his velvet voice alone could lube a rusted out 1956 Chevy but combine it with the sexy eyebrow gymnastics and none of the girls could sit still.

Startled, Evie realized the new client was due in 5 minutes and she had yet to assemble the welcome kit. She started for the door.

“Hey wait! Do you want some floss?”

“Huh?”

“You’ve got kale in your teeth.”

Potato Kale Salad

  • 6 medium potatoes, chopped
  • 2 cups chopped raw kale, stems removed
  • 2 spring onions, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 bunch of fresh dill, chopped, use as much as you want
  • 3/4-1 cup vegan mayonaise
  • 1 T. yellow mustard
  • 1/4 cup sweet pickle relish
  • garlic salt and pepper to taste (regular salt also ok)

While chopped potatoes are boiling, mix the mayo, mustard and relish in a small bowl. Put all the other chopped ingredients except the kale in a big bowl.

When the potatoes are just about done, add the chopped kale to the boiling water and stir. Before the kale turns army green, drain potatoes and kale then add to the large bowl with chopped veggies. Fold to mix. Fold in the mayo mixture and season with garlic salt and pepper. Serve.

She hadn’t experienced such pain since her first red wings in high school. This was the type of pain that only comes when too many girls get together and play drinking games.

“Oh holy hominy, I can’t call in sick again,” Evie complained to no one within earshot.

She had to man up quick and coffee wasn’t going to do it. She needed something to hydrate her and provide energy more than she needed to be awake. There would be time for waking up on the Red Line.

Grabbing the ear plugs and aspirin, she plodded to the kitchen to fix a smoothie that would go down, well, as easily as Mitch. Then, perhaps she could manage to change out of the clothes she wore to Kim’s party.

Hangover Smoothie

A pair of ear plugs are helpful if your hangover is severe and your blender loud.

  • 1 banana, chunked
  • 1 mango, pith removed and flesh chopped
  • 1 knob of fresh ginger, skinned
  • 3 large or 4 small kale leaves stripped from their stems and torn roughly
  • 1 cup coconut water, chilled

Dump everything in the Blendtec and hit the smoothie button. Only add ice cubes to the blender if your headache is not so bad you can’t stand drinking a cold beverage too quickly. Yields about 2 cups of smoothie.

Notes:

  • Use Tuscan/Dino kale because it’s milder and will create a nicer smoothie for this particular occasion.
  • Don’t go overboard on the ginger, a short knob about an inch long is sufficient. Really, the only reason I skin ginger is because so many people rummage through it at the store. Bugs me.
  • You won’t need sweetener if your banana and mango are ripe.

It wasn’t like she knew all that much about football. Nope, Evie was there for the tight ends and drinking games.

Exiting the elevator, she could already smell the odd mix of eight different perfumes and hear the high-pitched chatter of female interns. Kim answered the door, “There you are! I was beginning to think Mitch had you tied up the rest of the afternoon.”

“No way! I am the reigning food queen of your girly games. I have a duty,” Evie replied, unloading her BBQ kale chips on the soapstone kitchen island. Then her eyes grew wide when she spied the bowl of gorgeous green tapenade.

“You’re not the only one who with a fetish for kale. Babs made this…uh…hey Bab’s! What did you call this?” Kim yelled as if the intercom were never invented.

Green Envy Tapenade came the answer. Ah yes, something to give Evie a little competition in the kale department. Evie puckered at the sharp briny edge of Bab’s so-called Green Envy on a chunk of crusty bread. Her eyes rolled, yes, this would be great with a very dry, authentic German Riesling. But first, she had to get Babs to tell her the recipe.

Yells from the living room indicated the drinking games had begun. With any luck, there’d be enough butt patting from just the Bears alone to make Babs spill the beans.

Green Envy Tapenade

  • 1 and 1/2 cup green olives
  • zest from 1 lemon
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 4 of your biggest basil leaves
  • 5 small to medium Tuscan kale leaves, stems removed
  • 3-5 T. olive oil
  • Optional: a few shreds of vegan mozzarella

Put all items in a food processor and process until slightly chunky spreadable consistency. You might need to add a dribble of more olive oil to keep the blades turning. Play it by ear (which never makes sense because you should really play it by sight). Keeps for a few days in the fridge.

Assemble the Bruschetta:

  1. Spread tapanade on slices of baguette.
  2. Top with mozzarella if you’re opting in.
  3. Roast under broiler just a tad to heat. Serve with a dry white wine.

Don’t tell Evie but Bab’s adapted the olive tapenade recipe on cookster.com, merely increasing the amount of olives, adding kale and topping with vegan mozzarella.

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