Roasted Rainbow Carrots with Thyme & Balsamic Glaze

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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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I belong to a produce delivery service called Farm Fresh to You.  I get a box of custom-selected veggies every two weeks & the standout items so far have been their carrots!  Whew knew?  SO sweet and the texture is wonderful – unlike the almost bitter & very hard store-bought carrots I have been experiencing recently.  These carrots are DELICIOUS & it is nearly impossible to bite into one & not eat the whole thing.  Good news, though!  You CAN eat the whole thing.  Eat the whole bunch.  They are just carrots, for fuck’s sake.  Go friggin’ crazy!

Anyway – my last box had this little bunch of rainbow carrots it it.

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They get even prettier when you peel them.  The color combination looked so autumnal – roasting them with some earthy thyme & sweet balsamic glaze just seemed like the way to go – so I did just that!  Takes about 20 minutes or so – depending on the size of your carrots.  Easy & delicious!

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Roasted Rainbow Carrots with Thyme & Balsamic Glaze

Serves 2 as a side

INGREDIENTS

1 small bunch of rainbow or other carrots

1 tsp olive oil

S&P

Fresh thyme

1/2 cup or more of Balsamic vinegar

Parchment paper (optional)

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 425.

Peel the carrots & cut any thick ones in half.  Leave thin ones whole.  Toss with olive oil and S&P until they are evenly coated.  Put on a roasting pan (topped with parchment paper – if you have it).   Sprinkle with fresh thyme leaves – maybe a tablespoon or two.  Roast 10 minutes.

Meanwhile – basically boil the balsamic until it thickens.  It thickens quickly & reduces very fast so be careful not to burn it.  If it gets too thick – just add more balsamic.  The thickness of the glaze is up to you.

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When it is thick even – drop a few thyme leaves into it.

After 10 minutes, flip the carrots & then drizzles most of the balsamic glaze onto them – reserving a little (or make more for later).  Roast another ten minutes (more or less – depending on how well you want the carrots cooked).    Drizzle with remaining balsamic glaze, maybe sprinkle more fresh thyme leaves on them & serve.

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Beyond Meat Beastly Avocado Cheeseburger (Vegan) – “The Beast”

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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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First of all – every month Beyond Meat posts coupons HERE so be sure to download a few.

Secondly, those sliders above are my Beyond Meat Vegan Beastly Nacho Cheese Sliders that I posted yesterday.  For a review of the product (which really applies to both the sliders & burgers) – read that post.

Today, I experimented with the full-sized burgers.  I made this bad boy this morning & could not resist eating it – despite the fact that it was 8am.  SO DELICIOUS.

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I used the center Chao cheese seen above which did not really melt – as you can see in the photos – despite trying to increase the heat by putting a pan over the burger while it cooked.

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I zapped a slice in the microwave for 30 seconds which destroyed it.  I zapped the cheeseburger 20 seconds and achieved little.  I stopped trying because I hate microwaves (I think they make your food toxic) and this cheese tastes REALLY good so melting was not 100% necessary.

I added avocado, tomato, Bubbie’s dill relish, red onion, lettuce, Dijon & ketchup, pickles and some sport peppers.  You can add anything you prefer – but these burgers are amazing and each patty only has 260 calories.  The Chao cheese has 60.  Healthy & vegan, kids!!!  Have a cruelty-free 4th of July!!!

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Beyond Meat Vegan Beastly Nacho Cheese Sliders

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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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This is not really a recipe.  It is more of an endorsement of this product.  I have long been a fan of Beyond Meat & use it in all kinds of ways but this was my first experience with their veggie burgers.   First things first – you can get Beyond Meat coupons HERE and there is a store locator on the site, too, so you can see where you can buy this stuff near you.

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So – as you can see – they LOOK pretty beefy (which is half the challenge) and their texture is chewier & meatier than say, a Gardenburger.  They chew a bit closer to how a McDonald’s burger chews and, let’s be honest, McDonald’s burgers probably are not real meat either.  And even when your burger is a bona fide beef burger – did you know that any burger patty you eat might contain meat from up to 100 different cows – from several different countries?  GROSS!

These Beast burgers taste delicious – though no real meat eater will be fooled.  I actually find it frustrating that meat-eaters expect there to be no way to detect the difference between real & fake meats.  Though Beyond Meat chicken comes as close as anything I have ever experienced in the department of trickery (in that, if cooked right, some folks might believe it really is chicken) – but the point of these products, from my perspective, is to offer a viable, healthier & cruelty-free replacement/substitute to unsustainable & cruel real meat products.  Diet Coke doesn’t fool anyone that it is real Coke but people have adjusted – in the interest of saving calories.   Consider fake meats the same way – that they are a reasonable substitute for real meat that is full of fat & hormones & pain & unbelievable agony.  These Beyond Meat products look convincing & have none of that aftertaste that some earlier fake meats had.  These burgers are the best faux burgers I have ever had & Beyond Meat faux meats take on sauces & other accoutrements like champs & the more you season them with things like my vegan nacho cheese sauce or Asian flavors, etc, the more convincing they get.

HERE are a bunch of vegan chicken dishes I have posted in the past.

HERE are a bunch of vegan ground beef recipes.

 Here – I melted my 2-ingredient, 5-minute vegan nacho cheese sauce in a pan & poured it over the cooked burgers.

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I then added red onion, tomato, arugula, pickles, mustard & ketchup.  The result was a trio of sloppy, delicious “beef” sliders that everybody could enjoy.  Top yours with your favorites but be sure to try the Beast in either version – slider of full-sized.  Again – go to the site for a store locator and coupons are HERE.  These guys will make you proud at the 4th of July BBQ’s you attend!  I recommend them without reservation.

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Blue Apron Vegetarian Dinners – Night Two – Szechuan Tofu & Long Beans

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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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OK – I had a far more successful experience with this recipe than I did with my Blue Apron Vegetarian Dinners – Night One – Spring Pea Gnocchi – seen above.

If you read that post about the gnocchi, you will learn that I had a compulsive eating situation with the brie & the bread they delivered.  Turns out – that bread was sent in error.  I got four loaves of shitty sub bread rather than the 4 slices of bread I needed to make the grilled brie sandwiches that were 1 of the 3 meals in the package – so – I might not be making the grilled brie.  Because 1) they did not send me the right bread and 2) I ate all the brie is a wine-fueled frenzy…as is outlined in the gnocchi post.  But – I do love me some brie – so – keep tuned.

The gnocchi dinner was labor intensive and underwhelming for the effort (my friend, Jack, who gifted me this week of meals confirmed that the gnocchi was the hardest & least effective of the Blue Apron meals he has tried).  This one – easier to make & to clean up after & tasted super yummy!  I pressed my tofu (wrapped in a kitchen towel with a heavy pot on it in the sink) to get the excess water out & it kinda mushed it so that it did not cut into pretty cubes but it tasted great.  700 calories per serving is pretty shocking, however, so I threw most of the peanuts away & used less oil than they suggested and ate less than half the rice in my serving.  So – without further adieu, let me present Blue Apron Vegetarian Dinners – Night Two – Szechuan Tofu & Long Beans.

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Blue Apron Vegetarian Dinners – Night Two – Szechuan Tofu & Long Beans

I am not going to list ingredients & directions because they are in the images below.  Enjoy!

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Blue Apron Vegetarian Dinners – Night One – Spring Pea Gnocchi

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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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First of all- CONGRATULATIONS to the LGBT community!  The Supreme Court upheld gay marriage so – now – we can finally just say MARRIAGE, for everyone.  That Jesus meme, above, really reduces the objections to gay marriage for the farcical horseshit that they are.  So – bravo to the LGBT community for a win over bigotry!

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Now – on to this gnocchi.  My good friend, Jackie O, VERY GENEROUSLY gifted me three meals from Blue Apron.  Thanks, Jackie O!   You gifted me a food adventure!  AND – at least three blog posts that require no thought or inventiveness from me.  Whew!

They have a meat or vegetarian option so, obviously, I chose the vegetarian.  Here is what showed up at my door yesterday:

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Organized!  Pretty!  Exciting!!

I decided to make the Spring Pea Gnocchi.  There were lots of fresh ingredients portioned perfectly to make this dish for two.  They gnocchi were fluffy & soft & I wanted to eat them at their freshest – hence my selecting that recipe first.  I had never heard of or seen garlic scapes – which are, basically, scallions that taste like garlic.  I assembled & prepared the produce as instructed.

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I boiled the gnocchi & drained it & made the sauce.  My first issue was the suggestion of two tablespoons of olive oil to saute the scallions & scapes.  That seemed high to me so I used only 1 TBS.  When it came time to add the grated Parmesan – the portion they provided also seemed high – and I am a gal trying to drop a few LBs – so I cut that cheese in half, too.  I did not, however, think to cut the water by half so the sauce was pretty thin & I could never get the Parmesan to fully melt & incorporate…maybe my fault for tweaking the ingredients/directions.

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Another direction I ignored was the suggestion to use a non-stick skillet to brown the gnocchi.  I like my chrome-looking pan more & it photographs well – so I used that, instead.  Mistake.  Before the veggies could soften – I was burning the fuck out of the gnocchi & at risk of mashing them into a mashed potato thing.

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So – I transferred it all to a non-stick pan & completed the cooking process.  I plated a single serving (because each recipe is for two) and did my best to photograph it on my stove top.  I was starving & taking photos was the last thing I wanted to do but – if you wanna blog you gotta photograph.  It is a curse.

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It tasted pretty good – I will admit – but it has a pretty high calorie count at 560 per serving and, I must say, the cooking process was no simpler than any other recipe I might make – except that the portions are pre-measured.   It took about an hour before I was eating & then a good twenty minutes of clean-up, afterward – and that burned pan is still soaking.

So – is it easy – easier than just making your own recipes?  Only if measuring things makes you want to shoot yourself in the face. I guess you get to skip the shopping for things – which is nice – and you have no leftover portions of stuff to leave until they rot in your fridge.  But – on the down side – the vegetarian version offers no options or opportunity to customize the selections – so your menu is set & inflexible.  Plus – vegetarian meals often cost less that the $10 per person you pay for each meal on this plan.  HERE is the menu I will be getting next week – Black Bean & Red Quinoa Enchiladas, Fried Green Tomato Burgers & Mozzarella & Barley Stuffed Zucchini.  I am pretty sure I could make all those things at home for less than $20 a meal.   Another issue for me is that I live alone.  Which means I eat each meal 2x – meaning my dinners are booked 6 nights a week.  As a blogger – a food blogger – that shit ain’t gonna cut it.

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So – while it might work for you – Blue Apron is not a fit for me.   I mean – my other menu items THIS week are a Grilled Brie Sandwich & Szechuan Tofu & Long Beans.  One – I am not a huge tofu fan – despite the success of my awesome Vegan Tofu Chilaquiles with 5-Minute Vegan Nacho Cheese Sauce – seen below.

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And two – I would never eat so many heavy meals in a week & I pretty much never eat bread – which brings me to the nail in Blue Apron’s coffin: they delivered 4 – count’em FOUR – loaves of bread.  Airy, chewy & totally unyummy bread.  The kind that has absolutely no crispiness or flavor.  Look at it.

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It is exactly as lame as it looks.  Not even worthy of being made into garlic bread.  Yet, after I cleaned up from the gnocchi – it was like 9:30p – shockingly late for me to be doing my post-dinner settling in – and my brain began quietly flashing the word BRIE in my head.  Brie….brie.  SHUT UP – I told my brain.  Brie.  Brie.  STOP IT.  BRIE.  BRIE.  Fuck off!  BRIEBRIEBRIEBRIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!    Then- I realized.  The brie was not calling from my head.  It was calling from INSIDE THE HOUSE!  There was brie – IN MY FRIDGE!  Brie for the Goddamn Grilled Brie Sandwiches I was supposed to eat two times in the next few days.

FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK!

That cunting brie in the fridge was calling.  BRIEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!  Coaxing.  Taunting.  Demanding to be acknowledged.  To be heard.  To be EATEN!

And I am weak.  I would never be foolish enough to stock my house with things like bread & cheese – especially after my admitted obsession with tortilla cheese pizzas.  I never buy junk food because red wine, a weak will & junk food under the same roof are a calamity waiting to happen.  I know.  I have seen the carnage.  Carnage like the roof of my mouth seared by Family-Size Bag Dorito-induced chemical burns or hanging in shreds from an orgy of reduced-fat chips & shitty powdered onion dip (made with yogurt to save calories).  Yes – of course – the champagne involved typically dulls my sense of shame in the immediate aftermath of these blood baths but my scale is always there in the morning to bear witness to my gluttony & chide me for my shallowness of character.

So – yeah.  Fuck it.  Fuck you.  I got up & got that brie out of the fridge and without even the decency to let it warm to room temperature – I placed it on the table & sat down in front of it.  I tried to rip off a chunk of the uncrustiest bread ever but it moved in my hands like a Stretch Armstrong – rubbery & flexible.  But it was no match for me.  I had low-end, hard & cold brie in front of me & I was going to eat it.  Just SOME of it – settle the fuck down.  I dug a nail into a loaf to create a perforation in the defiant bread & ripped like a strongman tearing a phone book in two.  The bread was no mach for my brie-frenzy.  It gave in – and tore – jagged & ugly – revealing just how much of the loaf was just a honeycomb of air & thready dough – but with the resiliency of a particularly stubborn cobweb.  My mouth was already hanging open in anticipation – and my fatty Memphis was table-side to catch any errant orts that might fall his way.  The brie – like a jaded hooker on the job too long – was too cheap to even pretend to want to spread & the bread was too flaccid to gain any leverage to use against the brie – so I just placed a hard slice atop the porous carbs and crammed them into my pie hole.  There may have been unsavory sounds, groans or slurps, as I ingested the stuff – I can’t rightly say – but I can say the bread & cheese combo was underwhelming to the extreme – as if it had come from 7-11.  Even the plastic container I was eating the cheese from (because who had time to bust out a plate?) – screamed 7-11.  It was just awful.   Absolutely just the worst sort of emotionally-unsatisfying, empty calories.

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So, as you likely could predict, I ate the rest of it.  All of it.  Well – almost all of it.  Out of decency & for appearances  – I left that little bit there – which actually looks bigger than it was.  I say was – because I promptly ate it – in one tiny bite – early this AM.  But know that it was no larger than one from a standard pair of dice.

So, yeah, Blue Apron.  You can suck it.  I worked all evening to prepare a calorie-dense gnocchi, I still have a charred pan still soaking in my sink and I am cramping up at work from a belly-full of what was meant to be two more meals.  What did I eat last night?  2000 calories?

So – I will go home tonight & make the Szechuan Tofu & Long Beans – and I might report on them in the near future.  Also – I canceled too late – so I will get the menu for next week, too, and likely share the results but – the bottom line is that Blue Apron it not safe for a single old lady with no willpower & who is happy eating tortilla pizzas & curling up with a bottle of red every night.  It is just NOT SAFE!  You have been warned.

Strawberry & Spinach Salad with Fresh Corn, Chicken, Brown Rice & Gorgonzola (Vegan or Vegetarian) with White Balsamic Dijon Vinaigrette

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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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So – I made an eggplant curry the other day & it came out sorta bitter & yucky and, despite trying to sakvage it, I failed.  But, I had already made some brown rice to go with it & it needed a home.

I get deliveries from Farm Fresh to You and this week’s box had three ears of corn in it.  I typically avoid corn because the vast majority of it is GMO – but this corn came from a local farm – so I deemed it safe.

I recently bought myself some ORGANIC strawberries & spinach – and I stress organic because of information like this (from HERE):

The following “Dirty Dozen Plus” had the highest pesticide load, making them the most important to buy organic versions – or to grow them organically yourself:

  • Apples
  • Strawberries
  • Grapes
  • Celery
  • Peaches
  • Spinach
  • Sweet bell peppers
  • Nectarines (imported)
  • Cucumbers
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Snap peas (imported)
  • Potatoes

Plus these which may contain organophosphate insecticides, which EWG characterizes as “highly toxic” and of special concern:

  • Hot peppers
  • Blueberries (domestic)

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Armed with these things, some leftover gorgonzola crumbles & some Beyond Meat chicken strips – I made this salad.   Then I shoved a bunch of it into a mason jar & brought it to work for lunch!  PS – any “hair” you might think you see in the salad is just corn silk.  Whew!

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I made the dressing from those two ingredients, Dijon & some S&P.  If you cannot find white balsamic – white wine vinegar will do.

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White Balsamic & Dijon Vinaigrette

INGREDIENTS
3 TBS white balsamic vinegar

2 TBS olive oil

2 TBS Dijon

S&P

DIRECTIONS

Shake that shit up in a jar.

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Strawberry & Spinach Salad with Fresh Corn, Chicken, Brown Rice & Gorgonzola (Vegan or Vegetarian) 

Serves 2 as a main course

INGREDIENTS (flexible according to your tastes)

1/2 lb raw, organic spinach – chopped

1 cup organic strawberries – sliced

9 oz vegan chicken – thawed

1 ear fresh corn – kernels cut off

2 cups cooked brown rice

Gorgonzola crumbles (or vegan alternative or other cheese of choice like feta or goat) – optional

Cilantro – chopped – optional

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DIRECTIONS

Treat a pan with cooking spray or oil & sear the chicken strips.  Set aside.

Then basically, just toss everything together & then toss with the dressing.

Easy & gorgeous.

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Watermelon, Feta & Mint Salad

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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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OK – this is another fast & easy one.  If feta & watermelon seem like an odd mix – just think of the popularity of salting watermelon.  It might seem, initially, like an odd combo but it works really well.  It it refreshing & clean & and the water density of the watermelon makes it surprisingly satisfying.

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Watermelon, Feta & Mint Salad

serves 2

INGREDIENTS

2 cups diced watermelon

1/4-1/2 (or more) diced feta cheese

1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

1/4 red onion sliced paper thin

1-3 tsp olive oil

Juice of 1/2 lime

S&P to taste

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DIRECTIONS

Mix & serve.

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