Tricolore Salad with Shaved Brussels Sprouts, Belgian Endive and Radicchio

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2015

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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Few things are easier to throw together than salads & this salad is no exception.  Simple ingredients, clean & light & so pretty.

You could use other ingredients like – arugula or frisee (curly endive) or shaved fennel.  Whatever floats your boat.

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Tricolore Salad with Shaved Brussels Sprouts, Belgian Endive and Radicchio

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS

3 heads Belgian Endive – thinly sliced

6 large Brussels sprouts – shaved with a mandolin or very thinly sliced

1/2 head radicchio – thinly sliced

(you should have approximately the same amount of each)

1/4 cup nice olive oil

2 TBS fresh lemon juice

S&P to taste

1/4 cup or more (to taste) of grated or shaved Pecorino or Parmesan (or vegan alternative)

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DIRECTIONS

Slice up the leafy guys.  In a small jar or in a bowl – mix the lemon & olive oil.  S&P to taste.  Tweak the lemon to oil ration to suit your taste.

Toss the salad with the dressing & 1/4 cup of cheese.  Plate it up & serve with more cheese & freshly cracked pepper.

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Zucchini & Mint Enchiladas

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2015

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I am a huge fan of the zucchini & mint combination.  I got the original recipe from my good friend, Naomi Priestley.  It was one of my earliest posts on this blog. Zucchini & Mint Pasta with Parmesan – seen above.

I later adapted it to a Fresh Mint and Zucchini Mac and Cheese version – which was rather lovely – seen below.

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Today, I found myself looking at 4 huge but wilting zucchinis & a bunch of wilting mint – so – I decided to try this experiment.  It is sauceless because the zucchini & mint are such delicate flavors that you don’t want to offer too much competition for them but, if you like wetter enchiladas & don’t mind cream sauces, I would recommend a light Alfredo or something.  They are very easy to make & cook up in about 45 minutes total – prep & baking included.  Light & fresh – they are breadier than most enchiladas seem because of the lack of sauce & because I filled them sparingly.    Still – I would call them a success!

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Zucchini & Mint Enchiladas

Makes 8 enchiladas

INGREDIENTS

Olive oil

8 flour tortillas

4 large zucchini (or more for fatter enchiladas) – grated

6 garlic cloves – minced

1 cup Parmesan – grated – or vegan alternative

1 cup mozzarella – grated (or fresh mozzarella – sliced) – or vegan alternative

1 bunch fresh mint (about a cup) – chopped

S&P

Garnish – extra mint and/or cheese

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Grate the zucchini & cheeses.

Heat about 1 TBS olive oil in a large saute pan over med-high heat.  Add the garlic & about 30 seconds later – add the zucchini.  Garlic burns easily & tastes bitter when it does so be quick here.

Saute about 15 minutes or until it becomes a bit of a mush.  Add the mint & 1/2 cup grated Parmesan.  Season with S&P.

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Assemble the enchiladas by rolling 1/8 of your zucchini into each of eight tortillas.  Treat a baking pan with coking spray (or olive oil) & line the enchiladas up, seam-side down.

Cover with remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan & the mozzarella.

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Bake for 20 minutes or so or until the cheese is melted to your taste.

Serve with extra cheese and/or mint as garnish.  Easy peasy!

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Sriracha Ginger Soy Sugar Snap Peas

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2015

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These are extremely easy & quick to make.  The hardest part is cutting each of the sugar snap peas in half.  Apparently, you can break the stem end of them & pull down on the string, like a zipper, and string these guys but that didn’t work on mine.  Maybe they were not fresh enough.  I don’t know.  But – if you want to string your beans – knock yourself out.  Mine were great without that step.

I used vegetarian hoisin sauce in these but if you cannot find that (or regular hoisin) – do not be discouraged.  These are awesome without that one ingredient, too.

This really makes just one serving so increase as needed to suit your head count.

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Sriracha Ginger Soy Sugar Snap Peas

Serves ONE as a side dish

INGREDIENTS

8 oz fresh sugar snap peas – strung (see note above) and cut almost in half along the seam  (split them but not totally in half)

2 TBS soy sauce or tamari (I always use low sodium)

1 TBS sriracha

1 tsp sesame oil

1 TBS hoisin sauce (optional)

4 garlic cloves – cut in half or in thirds (you want big chunks so it doesn’t burn)

1 TBS minced fresh ginger (or 3-4 slices about the size of a quarter)

2 tsp olive oil

Sesame seeds – black and/or white as garnish

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DIRECTIONS

Whisk together the soy sauce, sriracha, sesame oil & hoisin sauce.  Set aside.

Prepare your sugar snap peas.

Have everything ready to go because these cook fast.

Heat a pan on HIGH HEAT for a minute & then add the olive oil.  Once the oil is hot, add the garlic & ginger (beware splatter).  Cook one minute & then add the sugar snap peas.  After about 2 minutes, add the sriracha mixture.  Cook on high – stirring continually so the garlic doesn’t burn –  until most of the dressing cooks off – maybe another minute.

Serve with sesame seeds.

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Spicy Indonesian Vegan Beef Rendang

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2015

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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The few of the ingredients in this might be a bit tricky but I will suggest easier to find alternatives.  This is supposed to be made with chuck roast or other cubed meat but I don’t eat meat – so – I used Beyond Meat’s beefy crumbles.  The kaffir lime leaves are probably the most singular flavor in this dish so I really recommend trying to find them.  I found them fresh at my Thai market (for about $2) but I see people saying they also are sold frozen.   You can also buy dry ones online HERE.

I also used a teaspoon if dried galanga seen below.  If you can’t find it – blow it off.  The fresh version looks a lot like ginger – see HERE.

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Spicy Indonesian Vegan Beef Rendang

Feeds 2 with steamed rice

INGREDIENTS

1/8 tsp ground cloves

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1 tsp turmeric

1/2 onion – chopped

4 garlic cloves

1 TBS fresh ginger

3 Thai chilis (or 1 serrano) – stemmed

1 tsp galanga powder or a tsp of fresh grated galanga (optional)

1 TBS olive oil

9 oz vegan beef

1/2 stalk fresh lemongrass – pounded to split the sides

1 cinnamon stick

1 tsp Szechwan peppercorns (also called Anise Pepper)

1 (13.5 oz) can unsweetened coconut milk

1/2 cup vegetable stock

4 Kaffir lime leaves (or 1 TBS lime zest and a bay leaf) – sliced in half

juice of 1/2 lime

Garnish: cilantro or lime wedges

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DIRECTIONS

Make some rice.

Blend the first seven ingredients (clove through the oil) in a blender until most large bits are broken up.  A little extra oil or water might make it easier.

Put this in a stock pot or frying pan & saute for 2-3 minutes.  Then just add everything else & bring to a boil.  I boiled it down until it had the texture you see – which took about 5 minutes.  Remove the whole spices – like the cinnamon stick, lemongrass & lime leaves (or eat around them) & bay leaf (if you used one)

Serve over rice & garnish as you like.

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Spicy Thai Basil Noodles with Sesame and Garlic

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This is yet another easy one that also just happens to be vegetarian (and could easily be made vegan).  It comes together in ten minutes & it is really flavorful.  I was inspired to make this because I found these fresh egg noodles in my local Asian market – Bangluck.   This is enough for 4 and it cost $1.49.  Pretty great!

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If you cannot find this kind of fresh noodle or if you are vegan, angle hair pasta works fine.  And thin noodle would work.

I used jarred ginger & this chili oil below is available at Asian markets but also at most large supermarkets in the Asian food aisle.   Fresh ginger is available in most stores, too, if you can’t find this very convenient jarred stuff.  The real key here is the Thai basil as it packs a real flavor punch & tastes distinctly different from regular basil – but regular basil will do if it is all you have access to.

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Spicy Thai Basil Noodles with Sesame and Garlic

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS

1/2 pound noodles

1 TBS sesame oil

2 TBS ginger

4 garlic cloves – minced

2 TBS soy sauce or tamari

2 TBS balsamic vinegar

1 TBS agave nectar (or sugar)

1 TBS chili oil (or another TBS of sesame oil & 2 tsp crushed red pepper)

1 tsp salt

1/2 cup Thai basil – chopped

2 scallions – sliced

a handful of crushed nuts ( I used almonds) – optional

Vegetables are optional but I added 1 carrot cut into matchsticks & a dozen or so sugar snap peas

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the sesame oil over medium-high heat & saute the ginger & garlic for one minute.  If you are using sesame oil & crushed red pepper rather than chili oil – add them to the pan, too.  Stir & pour into a bowl & whisk in the soy sauce, balsamic, agave, chili oil & salt.

Boil water for the noodles.  If using fresh noodles, add the vegetables a minute before you add the pasta.  Fresh noodles cook very quickly.  Drain & toss with the sesame oil mixture.

If using regular pasta – add the vegetables you are using in the final minute of the noodle cooking time.  Drain & toss with the sesame oil mixture.

You can let these sit for an hour & really soak up the flavors & serve at room temperature – or eat them warm.  When you are ready to eat – toss in the basil & scallions & stir well.  Add nuts & you are good to go!

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Spicy Sriracha Vegetable Ramen with Homemade Noodles (Vegan or Vegetarian)

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I have been wanting to make ramen noodles from scratch for a long time but, apparently, the recipe requires something called “kansui” – an alkaline mineral water that gives the noodles their yellow color & chewy texture.  I don’t have a Japanese market nearby but I found a recipe to make a version of it myself with just water & baking soda – so that is what I used.  I was not completely satisfied with the texture of the noodles (they were a bit gluey) and I am not certain why they came out that way.  Maybe I really needed kansui or maybe they didn’t rest, drying on my counter for long enough.  Maybe I overcooked them.  Maybe I should have made a recipe for the noodles that used egg.  I do not know.   What I do know is that I will try again.

The recipe below is really just for the spicy broth.  The vegetables you chose & quantity is entirely up to you.  And, obviously, if you are vegan – skip the egg.  🙂   If you like poached egg in your soup, try poaching them THIS way.  I did & it worked great. And you can even cool them for use up to 8 hours later.

Also – making the noodles is so not necessary.  Use packaged noodles (throw away the flavor packet), or spaghetti or soba or any kind of noodle.

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Homemade Ramen Noodles

serves 2

INGREDIENTS

2 tsp baking soda

2 cups flour

Pinch of salt

1/2 cup water

DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 275 degrees.  Put some baking soda (I used half a box so I would have more of this for future ramen efforts) into a pie dish & bake for one hour.

In a bowl (or in a bread machine), mix 2 tsp of the baked baking soda into the flour & salt.  Add the water & mix until a dough forms.  Once it is mostly together, use your hands to knead it a bit more.   Press flat & wrap in plastic wrap for an hour.

Using a pasta maker , roll the dough out flat & then into noodles.  This can be done by hand but, criminy, that would be a pain in the arse.  I used the awesome attachment you see below on my Kitchenaid mixer.

Lay out on a counter & toss lightly with rice or other flour & let dry an hour.

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Spicy Sriracha Vegetable Ramen 

INGREDIENTS

3 TBS sriracha (more if you like it very spicy)

2 TBS sesame oil

2 tomatoes – chopped

1 onion – diced

1 TBS ginger – minced

6 garlic cloves – minced

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp celery salt

1 TBS soy sauce (or tamari)

6 cups vegetable stock

Vegetable ideas: edemame, corn, sliced mushrooms, snow peas, bok choy, carrots, zucchini, spinach, bamboo shoots, sliced onion, scallions, bean sprouts, peas, water chestnuts etc etc…

Garnish: cilantro, basil, poached egg, hard-boiled egg, tofu cubes, lime wedges, shredded nori or this mix of nori & sesame seeds below.

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DIRECTIONS

Slice up your vegetables.  Boil water & blanch them by putting them in the boiling water for about a minute & then plunging them into cold water.  Drain & set aside.

Poach your eggs – if you are using them.   Plunge into cold water, drain & set aside.  Careful you don’t break them!

In a large stock pot, heat the sesame oil & the sriracha.  Do not get burned by splatter.

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Add the onion & tomatoes & saute until soft.  Add the ginger, garlic, garlic powder, onion powder, celery salt and saute another minute.

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Add the soy sauce and one cup of the stock.   Stir it together.  Using an immersion or regular blender – puree this & return to the pan.  Add the rest of the stock & bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer until you are ready to assemble the ramen.

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Cook the ramen noodles you are using according to the package.  Homemade ones are ready when they float to the top of the pot.  Drain & rinse under hot water.

Put some noodles into a bowl & ladle the broth on top.   Arrange some blanched vegetables on top & a poached egg (if using) & whatever garnish you opted for.

Mix it all up to heat the ingredients through & slurp it up!

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Moroccan Giant Lima Beans, Cherry Tomatoes and Black Olives

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2015

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I love making thing with dried beans.  They are so ridiculously cheap & can be made into so many different things – they provide endless opportunities.  Typically mildly flavored – they take on the flavors you add & provide lots of nutrition and a texture that can be crunchy or creamy.  When cooked, these giant lima beans are nearly as soft & creamy as gnocchi.

I found a bag of these giant lima beans at Ralph’s for $2.  I wasn’t really sure what to do with them.  I soaked them overnight & tasted one the next morning & it was still crunchy & kind of bitter.  Intimidated, I Googled recipes and for this one here – Moroccan Tagine of Lima Beans, Cherry Tomatoes and Black Olives.  The photos were pretty & I already had all the ingredients – so I whipped it up – making a few minor tweaks here & there.  Easy & quite delicious – flavorful because of the olives & tomatoes & spices but creamy & comforting because of those beans which had lost all their crunch & bitterness.  She suggested serving this over couscous but I prefer the suggestion of crusty bread.  I haven’t tried it but I feel like this would smear onto crostini easily & make a yummy appetizer.

PS – this dish calls for saffron which can be very expensive.  I use Golchin liquid saffron seen in the photo below from my recipe for Saffron Cream Pasta with Cauliflower, Tomatoes & Chili Flakes (also seen below)  – and it only costs about $7 for that bottle – and a bottle goes a long way.  I recommend buying some not only because it is so cost efective but also because I believe it has a longer shelf life than fragile saffron threads.

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Moroccan Giant Lima Beans, Cherry Tomatoes and Black Olives

INGREDIENTS

1 lb of giant lima beans soaked overnight or quick soaked

2 TBS olive oil

1 red onion – diced

1 tsp crushed red pepper

4 garlic cloves – minced

2 tsp ground coriander

2 TBS fresg ginger – minced

a pinch of saffron or 2 TBS liquid saffron (I used the liquid)

20 cherry tomatoes – left whole

1 tsp agave nectar (or sugar)

2 tsp dry thyme

2 TBS black olives (I used Kalamata) – chopped

Juice of 1/2 lemon (about 2 TBS)

Salt & pepper – important

1/4 cup cilantro – chopped (use parsley if you hate cilantro)

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DIRECTIONS

Soak the beans overnight or quick soak them in one hour.  Drain the beans & then put them in a pot with enough water to cover them by an inch or two.   Bring to a boil & let boil for about 5 minutes then reduce heat & simmer for about 45 minutes to an hour.   Do not let the water simmer away.  Taste for tenderness.  If soft & creamy – rinse them under cold water.  Be careful not to overcook them of they will become too mushy to hold their shape when mixed with the other ingredients.

Heat the olive oil over med-high heat & saute the onions until soft.  Add the crushed red pepper & garlic & saute one minute.  Be careful not to burn the garlic.  Reduce the heat to med-low & add the coriander, ginger, saffron – stir to combine.  Add tomatoes, agave & thyme & cover.  Cook for 5-10 minutes – or until the tomatoes start to crinkle up & soften.  Add the beans, olives and lemon juice.  Stir to combine.  Season with salt & pepper.  Cover & cook another 5 minutes or until the beans are heated through.

Serve with fresh cilantro or parsley – maybe over couscous, or rice or smeared onto crusty bread.

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Easy Eggplant Rollatini with Spinach and Mushrooms

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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Eggplant is an odd thing.  Some of my favorite dishes are made of eggplant – most markedly my nearly guiltless Indian Baingan Bharta & one of the most popular recipes of this blog’s history, my Spicy Vegan Chinese Eggplant – both seen just below.

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But if it is cut into slices or cubes that are too large & then under-cooked – it can have an icky texture & an icky flavor.  Lots of people categorically reject it because the first time they tried it – it was yucky.  But it is so versatile & can take on so many flavors so well.  I love it & I feel certain I could convert more than a few haters – if I served them the right dish.

THIS dish might just be that dish – assuming they do not also hate mushrooms and/or spinach.   The eggplant is very subtle & melts in your mouth.  This could be customized a zillion ways.  Use feta or goat cheese or smoked mozzarella, lose the mushrooms, use a vodka sauce.  There are no rules.  Just make a little mash of some flavors you like & roll’em up & bake them – and voila!  Yes – there are a few steps but none are difficult & the result is delightful.  A tad hard to photograph but really delicious.

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Oh!  I got this new little garlic press at Bed Bath & Beyond for (I think) under ten dollars & I am kind of in love with it.  There are to ways to go with this – sliced or minced (there is a second blade tucked into the base) & all you do is press the garlic through & it creates a little drawer of crushed garlic for you.  Se easy & easy to clean & no garlic fingers!

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Easy Eggplant Rollatini with Spinach and Mushrooms

Should feed 4

INGREDIENTS

2 medium eggplant – tops removed & sliced 1/4 inch thick (thick makes assembly harder)

8 oz mushrooms – sliced

1 lb fresh spinach (or 8 oz frozen or other spinach – thawed)

3-4  cups (28 0z or so) – marinara (your favorite brand or homemade or the one I  post below) or my 5-minute spicy arrabiata 

1 egg

1/2 cup grated Parmesan (or Pecorino)

1/2 cup cottage cheese (or ricotta)

1/4 cup parsley – chopped

4 garlic cloves – chopped

S&P

Olive oil

1 cup grated mozzarella

Parchment paper (if possible but not imperative)

Garnish: more cheese and/or parsley

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Cut the tops off the eggplant & try to cut them evenly 1/4 inch thick.  I used a mandolin.  Lay the slices on paper towels & sprinkle with salt.  Flip & salt the other side (lightly – so they won’t be overpowered by salt).  Salting the eggplant helps release excess moisture & can temper any bitterness.  Let them sit for about ten minutes.

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Steam the fresh spinach by simply boiling a tiny bit of water to a very large stock pot & adding the spinach.  Cover the pan.  It should wilt in less than a minute (this works to thaw frozen spinach, too, though it might take longer).  Strain into a colander & run cold water on it.  Squeeze out as much water as you can & chop the spinach.

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In that same pan. wipe out any water & add a TBS olive oil.  Heat over high & add the mushroom.  Sprinkle with a bit of salt.  Saute until softened – maybe 5 minutes.

Put the mushrooms, spinach, garlic, parsley, egg & your Parmesan & cottage cheese in a large bowl & blend.  Add some S&P.  I used the wooden spoon to break the mushrooms down a bit more.

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Pat the eggplant slices dry & sprinkle with ground pepper.  Place them on a cooking sheet covered in parchment paper (or foil treated with cooking spray – because you do not want these guys sticking).  Bake about ten minutes.

Layer some sauce on the bottom of a casserole pan.  Spread about 2 TBS of the filling on each of the eggplant slices.  If you have extra – spread it around.  Carefully roll those guys up & place them in the pan, seam side down.

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Layer some more sauce on top & then sprinkle with grated mozzarella.  Cover tightly with foil & bake for 1 hour.  Remove from the oven & uncover & let rest a good 5-10 minutes before cutting in.  Serve with more cheese and/or parsley and copious red wine.  See?  You like eggplant!

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Quick Basil Marinara

1 (26-28 oz) container of crushed tomatoes or tomato puree

1 tsp olive oil

3 garlic cloves – chopped

2 bay leave

1 tsp oregano

1/2 cup chopped basil

1-3 tsp crushed red pepper – optional

S&P to taste

Directions

Heat the olive oil over medium heat & saute the garlic for one minute.   Add the rest of the ingredients (except the basil) & simmer on med-low for about 15 minutes.  Season to taste.  Stir in the basil.  Remove from heat.

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Easy and Spicy Brunswick Stew (Vegan or Vegetarian or Not!) – with Chicken and Beef

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2015

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

images (1)download (1)

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

~

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vromans back

OK!  I was away a while but I should be posting more often now.  Today, let me present – Brunswick Stew.  Apparently, this is a traditional southern dish, but, despite dating a man from Arkansas for three years – I have never heard of it.   Apparently, there are lots of variations of this tomato-based soup that usually consists of lima or butter beans and one or two kinds of meat  – the most authentic using rabbit, squirrel or opossum – and vegetables.  Since most people aren’t often in the mood for those delicacies – chicken & pork are often used.

I did not use any back yard meat sources.  Or any real meat products.  I used Beyond Meat vegan chicken and their beefy crumbles – and these vegetables (plus a few more)!

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This could be done in a slow cooker on high for a few hours but it comes together on the stove in about an hour.  That time is mainly needed to make this dish thick – like a stew – and not just a hearty soup.  You could hasten that thickening by whisking a TBS of cornstarch into 1/2 cup water & adding it to the pot.  I went the old fashioned way & just let it simmer for a while.  And it was even thicker & more yummy the next day.

In a quick aside – look at this picture I caught of my cutie latest foster – Sid Vicious!  Isn’t he the sweetest little 7 pound guy?

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Anyway – here is the recipe.   The list is long but the ingredients are easy.

Easy and Spicy Brunswick Stew (Vegan or Vegetarian or Not!) – with Chicken and Beef

Feeds 4-6 very well – more of you serve it with steamed rice

9 oz vegan chicken (or real chicken)

9 oz beefy crumbles (or real ground beef)

Flour

2 cups vegetable stock

1 medium onion – diced

1 green bell pepper – diced

12 oz frozen or canned lima beans

6 oz corn

6 oz okra

2 red potatoes – diced (I skipped these to cut the carbs but potato is traditional in this recipe)

1 or 2 (10 oz) can Rotel or other diced tomatoes (or fresh tomatoes) – I used one can because I don’t like a lot of tomato in my soups

2 TBS Worcestershire sauce (or tamari/soy sauce – if you are vegan/vegetarian)

2 TBS steak sauce (or your favorite BBQ sauce)

1 TBS BBQ sauce (or more – to taste) – I used some of the Korean variety I show below AND some Spicy Stubb’s brand.

1 TBS ketchup

1 TBS Dijon

1 TBS hot sauce (I love Crystal – seen below) – more if you love heat

4 oz diced canned spicy jalapenos (optional) – I used all of a 4 oz can but use less if you dislike heat

2 bay leaves

1/2 tsp cayenne

S&P

Olive oil

Cornstarch (maybe)

Garnish ideas:  avocado, cilantro, chopped raw onion, HOT SAUCE, steamed rice, diced fresh tomato

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DIRECTIONS

I tossed the chicken (in the bag) with enough flour to coat it.

Heat 1-2 TBS olive oil in a large stock pot over medium heat.  Cook the chicken until it sears & browns a bit.  Take it from the pan & set it aside.  Later – when it is cooled – you can shred it with two forks – though this step is not necessary.  I did shred it.

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If you are using real meat – cook both the chicken & beef (separately) in a bit of olive oil.  When done – shred the chicken & set both meats aside.

Add the onion & green pepper to the same pot.  Add a little oil if you need to.  Scrape the browned bits off the bottom of the pan & cook until the veggies are soft – only a few minutes.

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Then, just add everything else.  Bring to a boil & then simmer on low for about an hour.  If it gets too thick – add water.  If it is too thin – whisk 1-2 TBS cornstarch or flour into 1/2 cup water.  Bring the stew to a boil again & add the mixture.  It should thicken up pretty fast.  Season to taste with S&P, hot sauce & maybe more BBQ sauce.

Serve in bowls or over rice & garnish as you like.

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Orecchiette Pasta with Creamy Blue Cheese, Shaved Brussels Sprouts & Arugula (Vegan or Not)

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2015

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

images (1)download (1)

~

All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

~

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vromans back

A disclaimer at the top: sometimes my photographs are underwhelming – even to me.  And – in this case – the photos do not do justice to the wonderful flavors of this dish.  I shoot with my i-phone only & usually use only ambient or natural light.  When you add the additional hurdle of a full-time job – that means I am making these pasta dishes as soon as I get up & shooting them in the morning sun – before work.  In the winter, the sunlight changes pretty quickly & dramatically in the mornings & evenings.  So – one day, I might shoot a dish at 9am in great light (like yesterday) but the next day I get the dish done earlier & am shooting at 8am – as was the case today.  The 8am light isn’t pretty.  It is blue & blue is an ugly tone to add to food – especially foods in the white/cream color zone because the blue is so much more evident.  Then – trying to correct the blue – shit gets all yellow.

So – I carted this bowl of pasta all over my house trying to find nice light.  I never really succeeded – but I did get a shot of the ever-optimistic Memphis – who follows me faithfully, hoping against hope that I will drop the food (which has happened) or just decide to give it to him (which has not happened).  Look at him in the upper right of frame:

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He is so fucking cute!  And I love him too much.

Anyway – I digress.  My point was, these are not my best photos but the dish is EASY & delicious & lighter than you might guess from the photos.   Eh – fuck it.  TRUST ME – this dish is really tasty!

On another note, I get sorta frustrated always pointing out ways in which my recipes can be tweaked to be vegan or vegetarian or meat-filled.   I kinda expect a committed vegan to know how to sub out dairy & I expect meat-eaters to know they could use real meat (in my vegan meat recipes) or add it if they want it – even if I never mention it.  I am never deterred by a meat item in a recipe title because I know at least half a dozen things I can replace it with (from vegan meat to chickpeas to cauliflower etc etc).

So – that in mind, cooked chicken could be added to this.  Vegan alternatives exist for blue cheese as they do for milk & butter.   Or use real milk & butter.  But if you use real milk or butter – try to get the highest end organic stuff you can find.  I used these things in this recipe (including the gourmet salts my friend Alyse brought me back from Hawaii):

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But there is this vegan butter out there available at most large supermarkets.

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Whatever you decide – this comes together in the time it takes to cook your pasta.  You can up the dairy (or faux dairy) ingredients if you want a more Alfredo-style pasta.  I don’t like heavy sauces – so I went pretty light with this one.

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Orecchiette Pasta with Creamy Blue Cheese, Shaved Brussels Sprouts & Arugula (Vegan or Not)

Feeds 2 well

INGREDIENTS

1/2 lb pasta of your choice

1 TBS butter (or vegan alternative)

1/2 cup milk (or vegan alternative)

1/2 cup blue cheese (or vegan alternative)

1+ cup fresh arugula  (use more of the veggies to get an even lighter dish)

10-15+ small Brussels sprouts – trimmed & grated, shredded or chopped very fine (I grated mine in a food processor)

S&P to taste

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DIRECTIONS

Cook & drain the pasta.

Shred the Brussels sprouts

In a large saute pan, melt the butter over med-high heat & saute the Brussels sprouts for maybe a minute – longer if you cut yours into larger pieces but these guys should soften very quickly.  After a minute or two, add the milk & blue cheese.   Let it come to a boil & then lower to simmer & stir to melt the cheese.  Season with S&P.  Add the pasta & the arugula & heat through – letting the arugula wilt.

Serve that shit up & garnish liberally with freshly ground pepper.

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Fried Sage and Mushroom Cream Pasta Sauce with Orecchiette

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2015

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

images (1)download (1)

~

All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

~

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vromans back

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First of all – I want to point out some new eggs I found.  I am not vegan – though I wish I were & will likely be one day – but until then, I feel real guilt whenever I buy cheese and especially when I buy eggs.  Free-range is a bullshit fraud.   Watch THIS video (sad but not graphic) of a bunch of free-range hens being released to a sanctuary & tell me that you think they led happy lives.   They clearly did not.

So, I have been buying pastured eggs & paying about a dollar each for them.  That is OK – because I don’t eat a lot of eggs & I am happy to have my money support genuinely humane farming practices.  So – imagine my delight when I saw this brand of eggs selling for about $6 a dozen.

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Vital Farms even includes the above little flyer explaining the lives of their ladies.  I love that they call them ladies.  Anyway – assuming they are not pulling off some elaborate hoax – these guys seem to be a good source for eggs that come from happy chickens.  I got mine at a local Ralph’s but their site lists other venders.  Look for one near you!

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Ok – onto this pasta.  A Facebook friend requested it & I could not believe I had not already posted the recipe.  This dish is an old regular of mine from 25 years ago & there is a funny story that goes with it.  I used to make it all the time at home & for company & many of my friends had asked for the recipe.  One day, my then boyfriend & I were served a mushroom cream pasta dish at my friend Angie’s.  My boyfriend took one taste & looked at me and said, “Babe!  This is amazing!  You have to ask for her recipe!”

Yeah.  Well – it WAS my recipe.  The only difference was that she added salt to hers & I was still brainwashed into thinking using salt was a capital sin.   I learned that lesson well that day & now I consider salt a genuine ingredient in most things – not just a forgettable & optional seasoning.  There are all kinds of fancy salts widely available now, too, and some even have healthy benefits.  Pink Himalayan salt, for example, boasts these benefits:

(from http://fitlife.tv/10-amazing-benefits-of-pink-himalayan-salt/)

  • Create an electrolyte balance
  • Increases hydration
  • Regulate water content both inside and outside of cells
  • Balance pH (alkaline/acidity) and help to reduce acid reflux
  • Prevent muscle cramping
  • Aid in proper metabolism functioning
  • Strengthen bones
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Help the intestines absorb nutrients
  • Prevent goiters
  • Improve circulation
  • Dissolve and eliminate sediment to remove toxins

 

So, yeah – use salt.   Salt is not just a flavor unto itself.  It also brings out & enhances other flavors.  Trust me.  Too much is awful but just the right amount is magic.

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Fried Sage and Mushroom Cream Pasta Sauce with Orecchiette

Feeds 2 very well

INGREDIENTS

1/2 pound pasta cooked according to package instructions

Olive oil

10 or more fresh sage leaves

1 lb mushrooms (of nearly any variety or mix) – sliced

2 shallots – chopped

3 garlic cloves – chopped

1 cup heavy cream (more if you want a heavier cream sauce) – or vegan alternative

1/4 cup grated Parmesan – (more if you want a heavier cream sauce) – or vegan alternative

Salt & pepper to taste

Parsley – chopped as garnish (it adds a lot of flavor!)

Extra Parmesan for garnish

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DIRECTIONS

Cook the pasta.  Reserve about a cup of the pasta water (in case you need it to thin your sauce later) & drain the pasta.

Heat 1-2 TBS olive oil over med-high heat & fry the sage a few minutes.  It need not brown.  Drain on paper towels.

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Add the mushrooms & about a tsp of salt & raise the heat to high.  The salt will help the mushrooms release their moisture.  Stir the mushrooms occasionally – letting them get seared.  When they are nice & brown – add about another TBS of olive oil & the shallots & garlic.  Fry for about 2 minutes & then add the cream & Parmesan.   Crumble the fried sage & add that to the sauce.  Bring to a boil & then lower to a simmer.  It should thicken very quickly.  Use more cream & cheese if you want a pasta with more sauce.  Add some pasta water if it gets too thick.   When it is the consistency of a heavy cream sauce – season to taste with salt & pepper.  Add the pasta, stir to combine & serve it up.  Garnish liberally with chopped parsley & maybe more Parmesan.

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