2015 – A Year in Review

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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 – WordPress sent me a list of statistics for my blog and I found it very interesting.  The most interesting thing was that my Easy Spicy Southern Chicken Spaghetti (seen above) is – by 500X – THE MOST POPULAR recipe on my blog.   To date – it has gotten 312,149 views!!!  The next most popular (I will list them all below) is my Spicy Vegan Chinese Eggplant (seen below) with a mere 55,874 views.  It is curious that these two reign supreme because both posts involve stories of my house failing me.  In the case of the chicken spaghetti, my stove would not heat beyond 200 degrees so I overcooked the fuck out of the dish.  Also – because it has meat in it – it is one of the few recipes I have posted that I have never tasted.  I made this in an effort to recreate the badass, Miles Miller’s, grandmother’s recipe.  I was winging it, ruined it, photographed it very poorly & never tasted it – and it has gotten 300K+ views.

In the case of the eggplant – it was a plumbing failure involving raw sewage & plumbers & money woes.  One reader even complained that I including talk of fecal matter in a food blog post – and that is a valid complaint.  Still – it remains my number 2 most popular post.

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Rounding out the the 5 all-time most popular are my Grown-up Fireball Whiskey Cupcakes (39,053 views), my Margarita Pizza Quesadilla on Homemade Spinach Tortillas (32,574 views), and my ZERO CALORIE ZERO CARB Vegetarian Shirataki Pho (13,138 views) – seen below, respectively.

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Another interesting thing is that none of those top 5 were posted in 2015.  I am not sure if that is because they have just been up there the longest or if they just struck a chord with folks.  I guess time will tell.

I have posted over 700 posts and the blog has gotten 624,455 views by 481,055 visitors  – over all.  If it were an exhibit at the Louvre, it would take 26 days for everyone to see it.  My most popular day was Nov. 8, 2015 with 5819 views – a day that chicken spaghetti got something like 3000 views.

In 2015, the 12 most popular recipes were:

Easy Vegan Meatloaf

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5-minute Sticky, Spicy, Korean BBQ Chicken with Sesame Hibachi Noodles (Vegan)

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Annie & Dan Shannon’s Vegan Yankee Pot Roast Dinner

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Vegan Spicy Citrus Black Beans (Slow Cooker or Stove Top)

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Rustic Pizza with Vegan Sausage, Broccolette (Broccolini), Shaved Brussels Sprouts, Mushrooms, Farmers Cheese, Goat Cheese and Micro Arugula

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Spicy Indonesian Street Cart Noodles – Mie Goreng – with Vegan Chicken (and Crispy Shallots)

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5-Minute Vegan Burnt Brown Sugar Chicken Fingers

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Vegan Meatballs

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Fast and Easy Stove Top Vegan Mac and Cheese

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Vegan Jackfruit Spicy Szechuan Dan Dan Noodles

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20-Minute Spicy Vegan Kung Pao Chicken

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and

Easy 10-minute Vegan Firecracker Chicken

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The most amazing discovery was that raw egg heals the pain and scarring of terrible burns – almost INSTANTLY.

Miracle Cure for Burns

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I probably cooked these most often:

Easy Crispy Oven Baked French Fries

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Craziest fake “meat” option:

Vegan Jackfruit Tuna Salad & Avocado

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And I took a lot of photos of food!

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Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Potato Hash – Vegan or Not

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Creamy Vegan No-Pasta Zoodles with Arugula & Chanterelle Mushrooms & Thyme

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Burnt Eggplant with Pomegranate Seeds & Cucumber – or Really Fancy Baba Ganoush

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Vegan Creamy Sweet Potato Pasta with Fried Sage

 

And I made a LOT of pizza!

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Spicy Jalapeno Pizza with Avocado & Cilantro

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The Best Fast & Easy Vegan Mozzarella – for Melting & Grating

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Sweet Potato and Asparagus Pizza with Vegan Mozzarella & Watercress

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Caramelized Fennel & Spinach Pizza with Goat Cheese

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Peach & Tomato Caprese Pizza with Mozarella, Basil & Balsamic Reduction

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Vegan or Vegetarian BBQ Pulled Chicken & Jackfruit Pizza

And there you have it.  That is my 2015 in food.  See you in 2016!!

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Vegan Roasted Butternut, Kabucha & Delicata Squash with Pomegranate, Mint, Balsamic Glaze & Roasted Pepitas

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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 had managed to collect a variety of squash with no real plans for them.  Today – as I often do – I looked around for inspiration & came up with this.  It is gorgeous & light & delicious and can be served warm or room temperature.    I have leftover roasted squash & pepitas & if you end up with leftovers, too – consider cutting the skins off the squash & make a salad!  Toss with arugula & pomegranate seeds & pepitas & a balsamic vinaigrette (adding goat or feta – if you are a cheese eater) – OR – make a pizza with slices of squash atop a crust with some mozzarella (vegan or not – up to you) and then top the cooked pizza with arugula & pomegranate seeds & pepitas.  Lots of ways to use all these pretty colors & flavors.

This is not a difficult recipe.  The most painstaking parts are seeding the pomegranate (or you could buy pomegranate seeds) and roasting the pepitas (you could buy roasted pepitas).  It is far more satisfying to do it all from scratch.

I used three kinds of squash.  You can use all one kind or choose different kinds – but use ones that all have thick skins so the cook at the same rate.

Speaking of which – I tossed the seeds from all 3 squash into the same bowl to clean & roasted them together.  In the future – I will keep the kabucha seeds separate – as they are far larger than the others.  I will put the smaller seeds on one cooking sheet & the larger on another – so I can take each out of the oven at the rate they are ready.

The ratio of ingredients here is kind of up to you.  You might like more or less glaze, more or less pomegranate or pepitas or mint – so – assemble yours to taste.

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Roasted Pepitas

Seeds from the squash

Fine salt

Olive oil or cooking spray (I used olive oil spray)

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to about 325.

Get a large bowl of water & put the messy seed mix in there.  Separate the seeds from the flesh & the seeds all float to the top.  Use a slotted spoon & get those suckers outta there.

Boil some water & add a tsp of salt.  Lower the heat, add the seeds &  simmer the seeds, uncovered, for about 10 minutes & then drain them.

I let them set out to dry a bit & then tossed them with just a hint of olive oil or some cooking spray.  If you have two wildly different sized seeds – cook them on separate sheets so you can take the smaller ones out sooner than the larger.

Spread them on a cooking sheet in as thin a layer as you can – trying to minimize overlap so all the seeds get heat equally.  Sprinkle with a little salt & bake for about 10 minutes.

Take them out & stir them around.

Now continue roasting in 5 minute increments because you DO NOT want to burn these.  They are done when they are just starting to look golden but the real test is how they chew.  So – cool a few off each time you test them & eat them.  They are done when they chew easily & are nice & crunchy!

Save extras in a jar.

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Vegan Roasted Butternut, Kabucha & Delicata Squash with Pomegranate, Mint, Balsamic Glaze & Roasted Pepitas

6-10 as a side – depending on the size of your squash & appetites

INGREDIENTS

3 squash of your choice (I used butternut, kabucha & delicata)

Roasted seeds from your squash (recipe to roast them above)

Balsamic glaze (store bought or homemade – recipe:  Simply boil a balsamic until it reduces by about 50-75% and has a thick syrupy texture.  It really does reduce a LOT so – if it reduces to too little for your squash – just reduce some more.  If it gets too thick – add a few drops of water.)

Pomegranate seeds

Fresh mint – chopped

Olive oil or cooking spray (I used olive oil spray)

S&P

Parchment paper optional but it makes clean-up so easy!

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Heat the oven to 425.

Seed the squash & put the seeds in a bowl of water.  If there is a large disparity of size – separate them in different bowls by size.  I did mine altogether but I risked burning the smallest seeds waiting for the large kabocha seeds to cook.  It worked out – but I would still separate them next time.

Cut the squash into 1″ to 1.5″ inch slices.  Arrange on a cooking sheet.  Toss with olive oil (or spray with cooking spray on both sides) – and add some S&P.

Roast about 30 minutes – flipping once – or until they are soft & beginning to caramelize or brown a bit.

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If you are using homemade glaze – make that while the squash cook.  Simply boil a balsamic until it reduces by about 50-75% and has a thick syrupy texture.  It really does reduce a LOT so – if it reduces to too little for your squash – just reduce some more.  If it gets too thick – add a few drops of water.  If you like a lot of glaze – start with at least a cup or more before you reduce it.

Seed your pomegranate.

When the squash is done, arrange it on a platter.  Drizzle glaze & then sprinkle the pomegranate, pepitas & mint on top.

Gorgeous & healthy.  Wow the villagers with this shit!

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Easy Vegan Baked Polenta Fries

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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 made Vegan Creamy Polenta Bowl with Roasted Beets, Toasted Walnuts, Thyme & Balsamic Glaze (seen above) the other day but I had a ton of leftover polenta.  What to do with it?  Once polenta gets cold – it sets – so I packed it into a greased loaf pan & chilled it.  Then – I flipped it onto a cutting board & sliced it up to make baked fries & they were TREMENDOUS!   Nearly guiltless, crunchy & crispy yummy!  I dipped one batch in ketchup & another in a warm & spicy pasta sauce.  You could use any dip that floats your boat but these are really easy & delightful to I recommend them very highly!  You can either make fresh polenta or buy some premade in a tube – the latter ratcheting up the simplicity of this recipe exponentially.  The fresh polenta that I used came together (polenta & stock) in a slow cooker in two hours, though, so it isn’t like fresh polenta is labor intensive.  I only seasoned with S&P but fresh herbs might make these that much more elegant.

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Easy Vegan Baked Polenta Fries

Some prepared polenta  (from a tube – or my slow cooker recipe for the polenta is HERE)

S&P

Cooking spray (I used olive oil cooking spray)

Parchment paper (optional but awesome)

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 450 degrees.

Cut your polenta into fries & place on parchment paper or directly on a greased cooking sheet.  Spray with cooking oil & add S&P.

Bake for 20-30 minutes – flipping once – or until cooked to your desire.  See?  EASY!  Now – get your ass to dipping these motherfuckers!

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Vegan Creamy Polenta Bowl with Roasted Beets, Toasted Walnuts, 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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Once again, I created a dish out of an effort to use what I had on hand and, I must admit, I am quite delighted.  I had a bag of polenta from the bulk section at Lassen’s (a store that is a wonderland of healthy foods but 1) mixes meat & vegan items in the same cases & it can get confusing and 2) is SO FUCKING claustrophobic that I am in a mild panic the whole time I am there).  I also had some roasted beets I needed to use.  Voila!

I am a huge fan of both polenta & grits (grits being the same thing, really, but just not as finely ground).  I especially like them creamy & soft – like a porridge.  Most polenta & grits recipes have cheese in them & you can certainly add cheese but this didn’t need it.  AND – I cooked the polenta in my slow cooker while I went spinning this morning!  I came home, exhausted, to a vat of steaming, creamy polenta.  Win win!

If you are not vegan, some crumbled goat cheese on this would be divine!  Actually – they make lots of vegan cheeses that are like goat cheese or Boursin & a little bit of one of those might be a nice addition to this dish.   If you don’t like or don’t have walnuts – I think pistachios would be better, anyway – I just didn’t have any.  Oh – and polenta is naturally gluten-free.  This is a very low fat recipe but is warm & hearty & great for winter weather.  If you really want to get all cold-weather crazy – stir a small can of pumpkin puree into the polenta.   Yuuuum!

I used this balsamic glaze (below) but a balsamic reduction is VERY easy to make.

BALSAMIC REDUCTION

Simply boil a nice balsamic until it reduces by about 50-75% and has a thick syrupy texture.  It really does reduce a LOT so – if it reduces to too little for your pizza – just boil down some more.  Be careful not to burn it! I used about a tablespoon of the reduction on this polenta.

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Vegan Creamy Polenta Bowl with Roasted Beets, Toasted Walnuts, Thyme & Balsamic Glaze

This makes enough polenta to feed 4 easily.  The quantity of the toppings is up to you.

INGREDIENTS

2 cups dry polenta

8 cups vegetable stock

Beets

Walnuts (or pistachios)

Fresh thyme removed from stems

Balsamic glaze (see recipe above if you want to make it yourself)

(Adding vegan goat cheese – or any other very soft cheese) at the end with the beets & nuts would take this to the next level.  Fried sage – in place of the thyme – might also be nice.)

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 425 degrees.

I cooked my polenta in a slow cooker by simply putting the polenta & stock in there, setting it on high (cover on) and two hours later – I had a lot of creamy goodness.  If it gets too thick, add more water or stock.  If it is too thin – cook a bit longer (taking the top off accelerates this process).

OR – cook your polenta according to the package (using stock rather than water).  Stove top – this should take 30-40 minutes.

Wrap beets well in foil. You might want to drizzle a bit of olive oil in there but that is not necessary.  Place on a baking sheet and bake until beets are slightly soft to the touch, 45 minutes to 1 hour depending on their size. Cool beets and then rub off skins (use a paring knife for tough spots).

Toast the nuts in a dry pan for 2-3 minutes – stirring frequently so they do not burn.  Set aside.

Now – assemble your bowls.  Spoon in the polenta, top with beets & nuts & a drizzle of balsamic glaze & some thyme leaves.  Add cheese – if you are using some.  I did not.

Eat’m up!

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Creamy Vegan No-Pasta Zoodles with Arugula & Chanterelle Mushrooms & Thyme

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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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Zoodles.  Noodles made from spiralized zucchini.  No carbs.  No guilt.  Really yummy & very easy.  I prefer the hand held & less expensive spiralizer like THESE for zucchini.  It is fast & easy to use & has minimal clean up – but if you have a tabletop version – knock yourself out.

I used Chanterelle mushrooms because I had them but any of the more mildly flavored mushrooms will do.  I might avoid portobello only because they can get dark when cooked and not look so pretty.  I also used arugula but spinach or any other leafy green, like kale or chard, would also work.

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I used my own, homemade vegan mozzarella (seen above) but any mild vegan cheese will do – and even real cheese would work – if you are a cheese eater.

This was my first effort with zoodles where I did not add real pasta to the mix so – without the heat of pasta to toss them with – they needed some cooking.  My result was more watery (you can see in the photos) than was ideal and so – in the future – I will use THIS technique to drain them a bit before cooking them and I recommend you do, too.  The procedure is simply to lay the zoodles on paper towel & lightly salt them & press more paper towel on top.  Maybe change out the top towel – if necessary.  Roll up in paper towel & squeeze.  This should get most of the excess moisture out.

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Creamy Vegan No-Pasta Zoodles with Arugula & Chanterelle Mushrooms & Thyme

Feeds 2

INGREDIENTS

2 very large zucchini (enough so you get about 5-6 cups of spiralized noodles) – spiralized

1/2 lb mushrooms (I used Chanterelle) – sliced

1-2 cups arugula (or spinach)

1-2 cups grated vegan mozzarella (I used one cup but would suggest going with two)

2 garlic cloves – chopped

Olive oil

Several TBS Fresh thyme – removed from stems

2 TBS vegan butter

2 TBS flour

1 cup almond (or other vegan) milk

S&P

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DIRECTIONS

Spiralize the zucchini & follow THESE steps to remove excess moisture.

Heat the butter in a stock pot & whisk in the flour.  Add a TBS or two of fresh thyme.  Incrementally add the milk in small amounts – allowing the roux to thicken each time.   Add the cheese & stir with a wooden spoon until the cheese melts & the sauce is creamy.  Season with S&P.  Stir in the arugula.  Set aside on medium-low to keep warm.

In  saute pan – heat a TBS olive oil & cook the mushrooms.  When they are almost done to your liking – add the garlic & a TBS of thyme & stir to incorporate.  After 2 minutes or so – remove from heat because you don’t want to burn the garlic.  Season with S&P.

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In that same saute pan – heat another TBS or two & quickly cook the zoodles – not more than 2-3 minutes or they will get too mushy.  Toss the zoodles with the cheese sauce & heat through.

Serve on plates & spoon some mushrooms onto each serving.  Garnish with more thyme & freshly cracked pepper.

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Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Potato Hash – 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.

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NOTE – the hash itself is vegan.  Eggs, clearly, are not.  If you are vegan – just skip the eggs.

So – I had a lot of leftover Simple Salt & Pepper Roasted Brussels Sprouts – seen above.  Looking around the kitchen, I saw potatoes & determined to make this hash.  I used only onion, potato & the leftover sprouts but you could add garlic and – if you eat seafood – salmon (smoked or otherwise) would be delicious in this!  Also – I fried an egg (free range & fertilized – from Farm Fresh to You) and put it on top of the hash – primarily because I always love photos with eggs in them.  The egg was steaming hot & vibrant & made for pretty images – but I could not bring myself to eat it.  I fed it to my dogs.  While, currently, I am merely a vegetarian – I lean closer & closer to veganism, all the time.  I never use any real milk products – and, at this point, even very fresh milk smells sour to me & tastes thick & gross.  I almost always use vegan butter & now that I discovered this The Best Fast & Easy Vegan Mozzarella – for Melting & Grating (seen below) – I use this on my pizzas.

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While I do still eat real cheese sometimes – I have made a real effort to get off eggs completely.  That will be easier now that I seem to have developed a psychological block against them.  I really could not even put that egg to my lips.

But folks love eggs & lots of you would really enjoy this hash with a fried or poached egg on top of it.  Know that if hen cruelty concerns you – you should buy only eggs labeled PASTURED (meaning – out in a pasture) – and not cage-free.  Cage-free just means they are not contained in battery cages but they are still packed, indoors, in an ammonia-soaked environment & they suffer terribly.   If you want to see a bunch of free-range hens being rescued & released into a sanctuary – watch THIS video.  It is not gross or gruesome but it shows you how sick & devastated these “free range” chickens are.

Anyway – back to pretty pictures of eggs & some delicious hash!

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Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Potato Hash

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS

5-10 roasted Brussels sprouts – chopped (if you don’t want to roast them first – grate them up or shred them & they will cook nicely)

1/2 small onion (I used a red one) – diced

1 large Russet potato – peeled & diced small

S&P

2 TBS vegan butter or olive oil

Eggs – OPTIONAL – in the quantity that suits you (one or two per person)

Parsley – chopped as garnish

OPTIONAL – chopped garlic, chopped smoked or other cooked salmon, diced jalapeno, diced red bell pepper

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the butter or oil over medium-high heat & cook the potatoes a few minutes.  Add the onion & the Brussels sprouts & some S&P.  Add any other ingredients you are opting to use.  Cook until the potatoes are soft.  Lower temperature to low & keep warm.

If you are using eggs – fry or poach them.  Put some hash on each plate & top with eggs (if using) and a pinch of parsley & some S&P.

Easy!

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Simple Salt & Pepper Roasted Brussels Sprouts

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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 love Brussels sprouts.  They can be cooked lots of ways & go great in pasta or on pizza.  They are also wonderful, raw & shredded, in salads.  Here are some of my posts using these babies.

Vegan Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Spicy Candied Walnuts

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Rustic Pizza with Vegan Sausage, Broccolette (Broccolini), Shaved Brussels Sprouts, Mushrooms, Farmers Cheese, Goat Cheese and Micro Arugula

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Mixed Vegetable Risotto with Fennel and Roasted Brussels Sprouts (Vegan – Vegetarian)

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Tricolore Salad with Shaved Brussels Sprouts, Belgian Endive and Radicchio

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

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Pasta with Crispy Brussels Sprouts and Creamy Gorgonzola and Pear

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Brussels Sprouts & Burrata Pizza with Pecorino & Dried Meyer Lemon Zest

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Pizza with Roasted Red & Golden Beets, Garlic Fried Brussels Sprouts, Pistachios, Feta & Honey

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Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad with Toasted Pistachios, Dried Cranberries & Pomegranate Seeds

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Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie with Brussels Sprouts, Carrots & Jalapeno Mashed Potatoes

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Raw Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad with Toasted Pecans & Feta Cheese

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So – today – I just cut a bunch of these guys up – tossed them with a little olive oil and S&P.  They were delicious, as is, and could be served as a side dish or – as I did – served as an appetizer with some dipping sauce of your choice.  I happened to have truffle aioli by Stonewall Kitchen (I am helpless against their packaging which makes all their products almost irresistible to me) & it was a perfect, if very rich, flavor with the Brussels sprouts.  You could make your own aioli or use a dressing – like ranch or something.  The best part was the crispy outer leaves.  Mmmm!

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Simple Salt & Pepper Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Feeds as many as you like – depending on how many you make

INGREDIENTS

Brussels sprouts – halved or quartered if they are very large

Olive oil

S&P

And your choice of dipping sauce – optional

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.  Toss the sprouts in a drizzle of olive oil & some salt & pepper.  Roast 15-20 minutes or until they are done to your liking.  Bust out the dip & go to town!

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Easy Vegan Butternut Mac & Cheese with Kale for the Stove Top

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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 a very easy dish & it is really yummy.  I wanted to make a vegan mac & cheese without cashews & without nutritional yeast – because cashews are calorie dense & because nutritional yeast just isn’t for everybody.   The flavor of this dish is dominated by the butternut squash – but it is a really mild flavor.  Squash is kinda sweet, though, so I thought this needed more salt than I would typically use – to balance that sweetness.  I also used boatloads of Crystal hot sauce (my favorite brand).  Because the bulk of the “cheese” is really squash – this is a much lighter dish than a regular mac & cheese would be – so you can really go fucking nuts shoving it into your face – in an effort to, at least temporarily, fill the gaping hole in your heart.   And then you can pat yourself on the back for eating the (mysteriously trendy) kale that the recipe calls for.  Or – you could give the finger to leafy-green-eating hipsters & blow off the kale – or use spinach or peas or fried sage.  After all – emotional eating is different for all of us & your aching soul wants what it wants.  It is the holidays.  Give in.  Use this creamy carb porn to suppress things that would probably go away if you faced them but who needs that shit?  Facing things?  Leave that to the hipsters, too, while you eat this pasta out of the pan with a serving spoon and think hurtful things about man buns, full beards & whimsical mustaches.  Might as well bust out the liquor, too.   Then, do what I do, and nurse a bottle of champagne while watching doc after doc about people who have it worse than I do.  Human rights violations & Jonestown & international women cruelly subjugated.  The Holocaust.  Rare or incurable diseases.  And then think about how good you actually have it & bust open a second bottle of bubbly to celebrate.    Works for me.

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Easy Vegan Butternut Mac & Cheese with Kale for the Stove Top

Serves 4-6 (or one really depressed person)

INGREDIENTS

1 lb macaroni (or other pasta) – cooked according to directions

1 medium butternut squash – peeled, seeded & cubed

2 TBS vegan butter

2 TBS flour

1 cup unsweetened almond milk (or other vegan milk)

1/2 cup vegan cream cheese

1 vegetable bouillon cube (optional)

2 tsp mustard powder

1 TBS onion powder

1 TBS garlic powder

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 head kale – ribs removed & chopped (optional)

S&P

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DIRECTIONS

Cook your pasta.

Boil some water & cook the squash until it is very soft – maybe 15 minutes.  Drain.

Melt the butter in a stock pot & whisk in the flour.  Add the bouillon cube & then add the milk in small increments, melting the bouillon cube but also not adding more milk until the roux is thick & bubbly.

When you have used the full cup of milk, blend the roux with the squash and cream cheese.  I had to add a little more almond milk to get it to blend – but be careful it doesn’t get too thin.  Add the spices (I added mine later (as the photos show) but that was because I was winging it.  If you add them in the blender – they will blend in better.  Season with S&P.  Blend until very smooth.

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When the pasta is done, drain it & return to the pan.  Stir in SOME of the butternut sauce.  I say some because there might be too much – depending on how wet you like your mac & cheese.  Save a little – to pour on top of the mac & cheese when you serve it.  Stir in the kale until it wilts.  You can heat this on the stove – if things have cooled to much – but be careful not to burn it.  Season again with S&P & serve with a few tablespoons of butternut sauce on top.  Voila!

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The Best Fast & Easy Vegan Mozzarella – for Melting & Grating

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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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My quest for a truly successful mozzarella has only just begun & I think I found the easiest & best already – see above!  I posted the one below a few days ago & that post is HERE.  The gist of that post is this: It was, indeed, very easy & the visual – as you can see is very convincing.  The texture – when cold – isn’t bad, either.  My only issue was that there was a tang to it – that was a result of using yogurt as the base.  The tang wasn’t overpowering or unpleasant, in and of itself, but the overall impression it gives one is that they are eating mozzarella that has soured a bit.

It worked fairly well on pizza & the sour flavor became unnoticeable and it softened quite a bit.  The texture is really a bit closer to ricotta, though, so this version below might be better suited to things like lasagna.

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So – while I considered that buffalo mozzarella a success – it wasn’t perfect – so, I tried THIS one by Living My Pinterest Life – seen below.  This version came together more quickly & the only thing you might not have ready access to is the agar flakes.  I happened to have agar agar powder – not really sure what the difference is but the agar agar powder worked perfectly.  I got it at TJ Maxx in their “random kitchen shit” section – but your supermarket might carry it in the spice aisle.  Or buy some online.  Whatever you do – TRY THIS CHEESE!  It tastes GREAT naked.  Living My Pinterest Life said they thought it tasted like tofu but mine did not.  At all.

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Additionally, I was completely unable to find any kind of vegan heavy cream – so I used 3/4 cup almond milk & 1/4 cup vegan sour cream & I could not be happier with how this cheese turned out.  Non-vegans will never question this cheese.  It looks like mozzarella, has the correct texture & absolutely nothing in the flavor (which is mild) to give it away.  Simple ingredients.  Simple instructions.  Wondrous result!  I promise – you will not regret trying this cheese!  And look how is does on pizza!  I took the flat edge of a knife & pressed it a bit after I took it from the oven & that helped the grated cheese to give up its shape a bit more so that – visually – it looked as melted as it actually was.  It even looks like it is greasy – like real cheese – but it isn’t.  It has to have less calories than real cheese & so much protein from the tofu & calcium from the almond milk – it is tantamount to a health food.  People seldom think of cheese as particularly healthy – but this shit is!  I just cannot say enough about how happy I am with this!

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The Best Fast & Easy Vegan Mozzarella – for Melting & Grating

INGREDIENTS

1 package Extra Soft Silken Tofu
1 cup Vegan Heavy Cream (I used 3/4 cup almond milk & 1/4 cup vegan sour cream)
1/2 TBS Salt
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp Rice Vinegar
6 tsp Agar Flakes or 2 tsp agar Powder
1/2 cup water

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DIRECTIONS

Blend until smooth the tofu, heavy cream, salt, garlic power, and vinegar. Transfer to a small sauce pan and stir in the agar flakes and water. Bring to a boil on medium, stirring frequently. Boil until the agar flakes are almost completely dissolved (about 20 minutes), adding water if necessary so it doesn’t boil down too much.  Pour into a large loaf pan and place in fridge until completely cooled.

When cooled – it just dropped right out of the inverted pan & was ready to devour.  Try it naked.  AWESOME!

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Sweet Potato and Asparagus Pizza with Vegan Mozzarella & Watercress

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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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See that mozzarella above?  It is vegan and I posted my attempt at The Artisan Vegan Life’s recipe for it HERE.  My only problem with the result was that the cheese had a bit of a sour tang to it because it was made with vegan yogurt.  While I found that unpleasant when eating the cheese naked (because it seemed like real cheese that had gone bad) – I still had high hopes for what it would be like on pizza. I felt that – if this cheese had other flavors competing with it – the mild sour flavor might disappear.  I was also curious about its melting abilities.

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My first attempt with a pizza is above.  I used Rao’s Arrabbiata sauce because I love it & because I felt it would have enough flavor to make the sour yogurt element of the cheese go away.  I also made the pizza with half REAL mozzarella – so I could properly compare the melting.

On the top right of that image above, you can see how the real cheese melted – completely melted & released some fat & looks ooey-gooey delicious – and it was.  The rest of the image shows the vegan mozzarella.  While it never lost its shape – it did soften – a lot.  And more importantly – the sour flavor was undetectable!   Big victory!  Still – this cheese would never fool a real cheese whore – but I bet it would make a lot of vegans VERY happy – and really is a solid replacement for real cheese – whatever your reasons for wanting to avoid real cheese might be – beyond being vegan.  Also – melted – it has a texture very much like ricotta so – I imagine – this would be amazing in a vegan lasagna.

Encouraged by the success of the first pizza – I decided to make another – but one with more subtle flavors so I could see if the sour flavor was still mitigated.

I decided to make this Sweet Potato and Asparagus Pizza with Vegan Mozzarella & Watercress – primarily because I had been baking sweet potatoes for my dogs & they smelled so fucking good – I had to use some.  I also, predictably, had some random produce that was on the verge of spoiling (asparagus & watercress, to be specific) – so this pizza was born.  If you can’t find watercress – arugula would be great, too.  It is a VERY mild pizza – so – in lieu of watercress and arugula – you could top this with some fried sage or fresh, chopped rosemary before baking it for an even more autumnal combination of flavors.

And – good news!  Despite the mild flavors – the cheese blended in beautifully & the sour flavor was imperceptible.  And – as you can see in the photos – it did actually melt & brown.  So – I recommend The Artisan Vegan Life’s vegan mozzarella very highly.

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Sweet Potato and Asparagus Pizza with Vegan Mozzarella & Watercress

As with most of my pizzas – I suggest ingredients but not the quantity to be used because that is up to each person’s personal preference.

INGREDIENTS

Pizza dough (I used this no-rise Easy Thin Crust Pizza dough)

Vegan sour cream

Slices of boiled or baked sweet potato (cut thinner than 1/4 inch)

Asparagus (tough ends removed like THIS)

Watercress or arugula

Vegan mozzarella

S&P

Cooking spray (I used an olive oil type)

Semolina flour (optional) or regular flour – for rolling your dough

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 500 – or as close as your oven gets to that.

Prepare your veggies.

Put a little semolina (or regular) flour on a flat surface & roll your dough out.  Place it on a greased cooking sheet (or – better yet – use parchment paper).  Put a thin layer of sour cream on top & then arrange the sweet potato slices & asparagus.  Top with slices of mozzarella & a good dose of S&P.

Cook for 10-12 minutes (more or less – depending on your oven & the density of your pizza).   About half way through – I sprayed olive oil on the mozzarella & I think that helped it brown, a bit.  When your crust is done to your liking & the cheese has softened (maybe even melted & browned a bit) – take it out & top with watercress or arugula.  Yummy!

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Easy Vegan Mozzarella

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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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CAPRESE-SALAD

Well – it seemed about time that I venture into making some vegan cheeses.  I have absolutely NO IDEA where to start – so I started by trying someone else’s recipe.  That caprese salad (above) from Artisan Vegan Life caught my eye & the recipe seemed very simple – with only a few ingredients I had to order from Amazon – so I decided to try it.

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It was, indeed, very easy & the visual – as you can see is very convincing.  The texture – when cold – isn’t bad, either.  My only issue was that there was a tang to it – that was a result of using yogurt as the base.  The tang wasn’t overpowering or unpleasant, in and of itself, but the overall impression it gives one is that they are eating mozzarella that has soured a bit.  So – I would not use this in a clean recipe like that caprese but I certainly wanted to try it on a pizza!  I wanted to see if other flavors competing with the mozzarella mellowed the tang & I wanted to see if it melted.  That post is HERE!  Look how pretty!   Sweet Potato and Asparagus Pizza with Vegan Mozzarella & Watercress!

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So – without further ado – here is Buffalo Mozzarella by The Artisan Vegan Life.

Easy Buffalo Mozzarella 

INGREDIENTS

1 cup plain, unsweetened soy yogurt

1 cup raw cashews, soaked in water for 3 – 8 hours and drained

1 cup water, divided

1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt

3 tablespoons tapioca flour

1 tablespoon agar powder

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DIRECTIONS

Combine the yogurt, cashews, a half cup of the water, and salt in a blender and process until emulsified. Transfer to a container, cover loosely, and set aside for 12 to 24 hours until slightly tangy. Whisk in the tapioca flour.

Combine the agar and remaining half cup of water in a small saucepan. Whisk together. Cover with a lid and bring to a boil. Simmer for 3 to 4 minutes. Pour in the yogurt mixture and mix well with a whisk. Continue cooking over medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the mixture is smooth, glossy, and stretchy.

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Prepare a large bowl of ice water. Using an ice cream scooper, drop balls of the cheese into the ice bath. Let sit for 20 to 30 minutes until firm.  My balls were a bit mishapen with straggling bits.   I just trimmed back the messy bits with a knife for a prettier look.  Voila!

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CHEF’D – White Pizza with Broccoli & Mushrooms

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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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There has been a huge rise in food services that send either already-prepared meals to your home for you to heat up and, more interestingly, ones that send pre-measured fresh ingredients & recipes & you make the food at home.  I tried Blue Apron – which is the latter service – and was not totally impressed.  One issue was the lack of selection for vegetarians (and nothing for vegans) & the fact that there was no option for a single person.  Their subscription plan meant I would get 3 meals – for two – each week – which meant six of my seven dinners were decided for me each week – with me eating the same thing twice – three times in a row.  Also – if you happened to LOVE a dish – you could not order it again soon – but had to wait – indefinitely – hoping it would eventually reappear in the cycle.  And – while the meals were tasty, they were pretty labor-intensive – some taking an hour to prepare.

Chef’d has solved those problems.  No subscription – meaning order what you want & when you want it.  Get the same thing every day for two weeks – or just get one thing – different things – a few times a month.  Additionally, so far, I have found their recipes fresh & interesting but fast & easy to prepare.  Great for date night!  Here is how they work:

Choose from Famous Recipes

Browse through hundreds of recipes from your favorite chefs, and cook them in the comfort of your own home!

From Our Kitchen to Yours

Fresh pre-portioned Ingredients delivered to your door. Reorder what you like, when you like. No subscriptions!

Cook, Love, Live

Enrich your life by creating memorable delicious experiences of love through our hand-cultivated recipes.

And look at the various tastes & lifestyles they accommodate

Shop Meals

LIFESTYLES:

FAMILY FRIENDLY
GOURMET
VEGETARIAN
GLUTEN FREE

PROTEINS:

BEEF
CHICKEN
SEAFOOD
LAMB
PORK
TURKEY
VEGAN
HERE is the list of the famous chefs contributing recipes.  And HERE are the vegan & vegetarian meals currently offered (kind of amazing looking).  I was given the opportunity to try the service & jumped at the chance.  I am a long-time fan of Beyond Meat & the pairing of these two companies is exciting to me.  I got the Beast Burger & Tacos & posted about the burger HERE – and the tacos in another post HERE.  I also posted about the Fig Pizza with Arugula & Goat Cheese HERE and the Tofu Parmigiana HERE.  They can be seen below, respectively.
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OK – so this is my third post about my box of three meals that I ordered from Chef’d in my second delivery from them.  It is their White Pizza with Broccoli & Mushrooms and Arugula Salad with Lemon Mint Vinaigrette.  Arugula salad is my favorite thing ever & I am also a huge fan of lemon & mint – but – I had this box delivered Saturday & did not get to this recipe until Thursday.  As a result – through no fault of Chef’d – my arugula had passed its edible period.
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I considered using the wilted arugula on the pizza but it was too far gone.   Sad.  I love arugula!  But – I just didn’t get to it on time.  MY fault!
But everything else was still fresh.  The recipe called for (and provided) real milk.  While I am still not totally off cheese or butter (vegan butter is so far ahead of vegan cheese – so far) – I am trying really hard to be entirely off eggs & milk – so I just substituted almond milk & vegan butter.  Made no difference – as in – was just as good.  I did use the real cheese, though.
My experiences with the Fig & Goat Cheese Pizza & the Tofu Parmigiana were that I found that they probably were not enough to realistically feed two American adults – for dinner.  That was not the case with this pizza.  I had accidentally used one of the pizza dough balls provided by Chef’d for my two pizzas on a separate pizza altogether – so I used my own (peppered) homemade crust when I made this.  Also – I only made  half pizza (using half the ingredients) and I was STUFFED!  So – I think this pizza actually might satisfy two adults.  Here is the nutritional info:
white pizza
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At 2480 calories (including, I assume, the salad that I did not even make) – this is a hearty meal!  And it was DELICIOUS!  Again – I found the Chef’d recipe to be less labor intensive than other companies that I have tried – less labor intensive BY A LOT – and the result more satisfying.  I only ate half of the half recipe I made.  Rich & filling & yummy! And easy.  The white sauce came together quickly.
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Mushrooms & broccoli cooked up fast & easy & the pizza assembled without incident.  I did add crushed red pepper but I add that to almost all things not served in a glass.  That peppery crust you see is my own homemade crust.  But – the result was a pizza with lots of flavors & textures.  While I have found all of the dishes I have tried from Chef’d to be easy to make & really tasty to eat – this one is the current champion of full-blown decadence.  So – if one night – you eat this entire decadent meal – maybe the next night – you compensate with the far lighter tofu parmigiana?
Whether eating light is your concern or getting a rich & wintery meal into your pie hole is your goal – I think Chef’d has you covered.  And I don’t eat meat – so I can’t even get into sampling what those dishes offer.  But I recommend these Chef’d meals with complete enthusiasm.  Even for the most novice chef – and especially for novice vegetarians.  Lots of folks who want to cut more meat out of their diet fear only salads in their futures & Chef’d can quickly dispel those fears – and leave almost everybody feeling more empowered in the most important room in their homes – the kitchen!
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Vegan Rustic Vegetable Spiral Tart

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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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Browsing randomly on Pinterest, I saw that spiral tart (above by Bake to the Roots) & I knew I had to make one.  But – I decided to adapt the recipe & make it vegan.  Overall – it was easier than I thought but, if I were to make this again (and I probably will), I would use a vegetable peeler to shave really thin pieces of the vegetables.  My mandolin cut the pieces thicker than was manageable – so I had to blanch all my veggies.  Also – while I tried to assemble it the way Baked to the Roots suggested (by creating the spiral from the inside out & then sliding the completed spiral into the crust) –

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– that proved trickier than I could handle.  Even tying kitchen string around it did nothing to make it stable enough to transfer.  So – I built it up from the inside out – but IN the crust with the poured cheese at the bottom.  And – if I were to try this again – I would use a potato peeler to slice thin veggies – skip blanching (except maybe the carrots) – and roll it up like a tire – starting with a center bit and alternating vegetables – but rolling it tight & upright (again – like a tire) – like they did on The Sweet Spot – seen below.

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See how much thinner her slices of veggies are than mine?  I bet rolling that fucker up was a breeze compared to my attempts.

Anyway – either way – the result is gorgeous & impressive & delicious & good for you!  So – if you need to bring a show stopper to some holiday party this season – let me suggest this!  I bet nobody will ever have seen one before.

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Vegan Rustic Vegetable Spiral Tart

Feeds 4-6

INGREDIENTS

for the pastry

1 1/2 cups flour

pinch of salt

1/2 cup ice cold vegan butter

1 TBS ice water

for the filling

1 cup vegan cheddar shreds

1/4 cup vegan sour cream

1/2 cup vegan cream cheese

S&P

1 tsp or more of chili powder or any herbs of your choice (I used chili powder)

3-4 medium zucchini (green or yellow or both – I used green)

1 medium eggplant

2-3 large carrots

olive oil

S&P

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

You have two choices for making the dough.

In a large bowl – mix flour and salt and cold butter in small pieces. Rub the butter into the flour until it resembles crumbs. Add the water and knead the dough. Work quick so the dough does not get too warm. Wrap in plastic wrap and let rest in the fridge 30-60 minutes.

OR – pulse the butter into the flour/salt in a food processor & add the water at the end.  For me – this resulted in just a bowl of crumbs but I poured them onto plastic wrap & used the wrap to press the crumbs into a ball.  I then wrapped it & put it in the fridge.

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Grease a 10 inch tart tin*.  Maybe vegan butter is less binding than real butter – but I could not roll out the crust.  So – I just pressed it – in pieces – into the tart pan until the bottom was covered & the crust went almost an inch up the sides.  Place in the fridge for another 10 minutes to cool down.  Doesn’t look great but nobody is ever gonna see it.  Plus – when you make things that come out a little “rough around the edges,” just call them “rustic” and everything is excused.

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Take the tin out of the fridge, line with baking parchment and fill with (baking) beans or a second tin bit smaller than the one with the dough. Blind bake for 15-20 minutes. The edges should be slightly golden in color. Take out of the oven and set aside.   I used parchment paper & a pottery planter.  I don’t think they were really necessary – so – if you are feeling lazy & adventurous – just bake the thing naked for 15-20 – or until it just starts turning color.  (Ignore the circle I drew on that paper.)  Remove from the oven & raise oven temperature to 375.

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For the filling, melt the cheddar, cream cheese & sour cream together in a sauce pan & then stir in any seasoning or herbs you chose.  Season a bit with S&P.  Set aside.

Wash the vegetables and cut into thin strips with a vegetable peeler or a mandolin or a sharp knife (I would recommend the peeler). The strips should have about the same height – so you might have to half them or cut parts off. You will need a lot of those strips, so keep slicing. When done, place flat on a plate and season with salt and pepper.

Pour the cheese-mix into the pre-baked crust and spread evenly.   I did not use quite all the cheese I had.  You might use more or less – depending on the height of the edges of your tart – but don’t fill it up or the cheese will bubble over as you add the veggies.

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If your veggies are too thick or stiff for rolling – blanch them in boiling water.  My slices were almost 1/4″ thick so I started by blanching the carrots for 3 minutes & then adding the zucchini for one minute & then adding the eggplant for a final minute – so – my carrots spent 5 minutes softening.  If you used a peeler – your slices should be very thin & you might not need to blanch anything – or maybe just the carrots for a minute.  If you blanch things, though, submerge them in ice water to stop the cooking & to make them cool enough to handle.  Pat them dry in some paper towel.

Start rolling the vegetables, by starting with one strip of carrot for example in a tight circle and then wrap zucchini or eggplant strips around.  I suggest either doing this as demonstrated in the photo above (like a tire) or by just starting by curling strips around each other – directly in the center of the tart.  Play around with the different vegetable strips so you get a nice color mix at the end.  Continue wrapping & rolling until your circle of rolled vegetables is roughly 10 inches in diameter – or you tart is full.  If you rolled them like a tire – carefully place your spiral down onto the cheese filling of the tart & use extra strips to fill in any gaps.  I had lots of extra veggies so I just pureed them into a can of dog food for my dogs’ dinner.

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Brush with some olive oil & season with S&P.  Bake for 40-50 minutes. If the vegetables start to get too dark, cover with some aluminum foil and continue baking.   Allow to rest at least ten minutes before removing from the tart pan.

Feast your eyes on your gorgeous creation & commence the feast!

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CHEF’D – Vegetarian Tofu Parmigiana with Arugula 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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vromans back

There has been a huge rise in food services that send either already-prepared meals to your home for you to heat up and, more interestingly, ones that send pre-measured fresh ingredients & recipes & you make the food at home.  I tried Blue Apron – which is the latter service – and was not totally impressed.  One issue was the lack of selection for vegetarians (and nothing for vegans) & the fact that there was no option for a single person.  Their subscription plan meant I would get 3 meals – for two – each week – which meant six of my seven dinners were decided for me each week – with me eating the same thing twice – three times in a row.  Also – if you happened to LOVE a dish – you could not order it again soon – but had to wait – indefinitely – hoping it would eventually reappear in the cycle.  And – while the meals were tasty, they were pretty labor-intensive – some taking an hour to prepare.

Chef’d has solved those problems.  No subscription – meaning order what you want & when you want it.  Get the same thing every day for two weeks – or just get one thing – different things – a few times a month.  Additionally, so far, I have found their recipes fresh & interesting but fast & easy to prepare.  Great for date night!  Here is how they work:

Choose from Famous Recipes

Browse through hundreds of recipes from your favorite chefs, and cook them in the comfort of your own home!

From Our Kitchen to Yours

Fresh pre-portioned Ingredients delivered to your door. Reorder what you like, when you like. No subscriptions!

Cook, Love, Live

Enrich your life by creating memorable delicious experiences of love through our hand-cultivated recipes.

And look at the various tastes & lifestyles they accommodate

Shop Meals

LIFESTYLES:

FAMILY FRIENDLY
GOURMET
VEGETARIAN
GLUTEN FREE

PROTEINS:

BEEF
CHICKEN
SEAFOOD
LAMB
PORK
TURKEY
VEGAN
HERE is the list of the famous chefs contributing recipes.  And HERE are the vegan & vegetarian meals currently offered (kind of amazing looking).  I was given the opportunity to try the service & jumped at the chance.  I am a long-time fan of Beyond Meat & the pairing of these two companies is exciting to me.  I got the Beast Burger & Tacos & posted about the burger HERE – and the tacos in another post HERE.  I also posted about the Fig Pizza with Arugula & Goat Cheese HERE.  They can be seen below, respectively.
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So – as you can see from that big, orange box – I am posting yet another recipe from Chef’d – their Tofu Parmigiana with Arugula Salad.  I haven’t eaten meat since the eighties and the question I get most (after, “Where do you get your protein?”) is “Do you eat a lot of tofu?”
That used to get me disproportionately cranky because it implied that the only thing vegetarians ate was tofu – and sort of excused meat eaters from examining the truth because, after all, nobody should have to live on tofu!  But – I have never been a huge tofu fan and, frankly, have never bought into the whole protein “myth.”  Most of the largest animals on Earth – from elephants to rhinos & gorillas – are primarily vegan or vegetarian – and I am pretty sure they don’t take protein supplements.  At any rate – I was never a huge fan of tofu (unless it was fried) and, therefore, had very little tofu (if any) in my diet.  Then a vegan friend requested a vegan scramble recipe – so, I broken down & made one – my Vegan Tofu Chilaquiles with 5-Minute Vegan Nacho Cheese Sauce – seen below.
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I was SHOCKED at how delicious tofu could be & by how convincingly it replaced eggs.  This success led to Vegan Tofu Scramble Breakfast Burrito with Mixed Vegetables & CheeseVegan Tofu Quiche with Chard, Spinach & CheeseVegan Sausage, Broccoli & Cheese Quiche with Tofu & Fried Sage and even my Vegan Spicy Orange & Sriracha Glazed Tofu with Pomegranate Seeds – seen below, respectively.
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I have come to really love tofu!  So, when I saw the Tofu Parmigiana on Chef’s menu – I had to try it!  And am I glad that I did!  It might have been the easiest to prepare of all the Chef’d dishes I have tried so far & it really was delicious.  I made no changes to the recipe (though I did accidentally break one of my tofu patties) – and it came out very well.  There was a little arugula, cherry tomato & pine nut salad that was crazy easy to make and, since arugula is my favorite of the lettuces out there, I found it to be delicious – and clean & lite.
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As you can see – I overcooked the cheese a bit – likely because my oven needs calibration – but Chef’d had supplied more mozzarella than the recipe called for so I just added a bit more & baked it another 2 minutes or so – until it melted.  The golden cheese was actually quite yummy!  In fact – the entire dish – including the salad are definitely worth repeating.  But – while I was photographing it – I decided a bit of fresh basil would be a nice touch – so I went on my balcony to get some.  And look who met me out there!
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Cutie, little lady bug!  I tried to get a better shot but she scuttled away.  So – I picked some basil & continued to photograph.  And then I ate it up.  But – like with the CHEF’D – Vegetarian Fig Pizza with Arugula & Goat Cheese – I found this meal to be quite light – maybe too light to serve two for dinner.  I made this for lunch & easily killed the salad alone and scarfed three of the tofu Parmigiana cutlet thingies and had to stop myself from eating the fourth.  Granted, I had just done a heated spinning class that burns about 1000 calories but – still.  I think there is no way two MEN could share this meal & call it dinner – unless they were looking to restrict portion size & trying to lose weight (and who isn’t trying to lose weight?).   And – maybe I am just a good ole-fashioned American glutton – but I nearly ate all of this for lunch – all of a meal planned to feed two.  I would definitely eat it all at dinner – all of both portions.  I mean – the tofu seemed to be about 1/2 lb (notice the label is the label for almost a pound but is cut in half) –
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meaning that the 1/2 pound block supplied only has 225 calories.  Add the sauce & cheese & even the salad and you increase the calories a bit but still – if feeding two – within the calories range of your average Lean Cuisine.  I don’t know about you – but although I used to eat Lean Cuisine – ALL THE TIME – I never found them very filling.  That said – there are likely more people out there looking for a truly light but still delicious vegetarian meal & this dish supplies that in spades.
After writing that – I realized that Chef’d must supply nutritional info – and they do.  Here it is (below) showing more calories than I guessed – at 495 per diner.   I think 500 calories for a dinner – for most people – would result in weight loss.  Since most of us need to lose a few – that could be a very good thing.  Still – I think it is unrealistic to think most Americans would find this meal substantial enough for two adults – for dinner.
That said – it really was easy & it really was tasty & I really am glad I did not eat the whole 2 portions for lunch – like I wanted to.  Primarily, because I still have an entire Chef’d pizza – a White Pizza with Broccoli & Mushrooms and an Arugula Salad with Lemon Mint Vinaigrette – downstairs.  Waiting to be cooked.  By me.  And eaten.  By myself.  Tonight.  Alone.  Whole pizza.  Yup.
Don’t judge me!   🙂
VEGE23.2 Label
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PS – Chef’d has two holiday dinner options that you can customize – to serve 4 or 8.  Smoked Goose & Prime Rib.
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CHEF’D – Vegetarian Fig Pizza with Arugula & Goat Cheese

Leave a comment

 

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)

12-9-15 (21)

12-9-15 (35)

BathingandthesinglegirlCover

vromans back

There has been a huge rise in food services that send either already-prepared meals to your home for you to heat up and, more interestingly, ones that send pre-measured fresh ingredients & recipes & you make the food at home.  I tried Blue Apron – which is the latter service – and was not totally impressed.  One issue was the lack of selection for vegetarians (and nothing for vegans) & the fact that there was no option for a single person.  Their subscription plan meant I would get 3 meals – for two – each week – which meant six of my seven dinners were decided for me each week – with me eating the same thing twice – three times in a row.  Also – if you happened to LOVE a dish – you could not order it again soon – but had to wait – indefinitely – hoping it would eventually reappear in the cycle.  And – while the meals were tasty, they were pretty labor-intensive – some taking an hour to prepare.

Chef’d has solved those problems.  No subscription – meaning order what you want & when you want it.  Get the same thing every day for two weeks – or just get one thing – different things – a few times a month.  Additionally, so far, I have found their recipes fresh & interesting but fast & easy to prepare.  Great for date night!  Here is how they work:

Choose from Famous Recipes

Browse through hundreds of recipes from your favorite chefs, and cook them in the comfort of your own home!

From Our Kitchen to Yours

Fresh pre-portioned Ingredients delivered to your door. Reorder what you like, when you like. No subscriptions!

Cook, Love, Live

Enrich your life by creating memorable delicious experiences of love through our hand-cultivated recipes.

And look at the various tastes & lifestyles they accommodate

Shop Meals

LIFESTYLES:

FAMILY FRIENDLY
GOURMET
VEGETARIAN
GLUTEN FREE

PROTEINS:

BEEF
CHICKEN
SEAFOOD
LAMB
PORK
TURKEY
VEGAN
HERE is the list of the famous chefs contributing recipes.  And HERE are the vegan & vegetarian meals currently offered (kind of amazing looking).  I was given the opportunity to try the service & jumped at the chance.  I am a long-time fan of Beyond Meat & the pairing of these two companies is exciting to me.  I got the Beast Burger & Tacos & posted about the burger HERE – and the tacos in another post HERE.
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That big orange Chef’d box is so exciting!!!  Digging out the ingredients feel like a little foodie Christmas.  Today, I am posting about Fig Pizza with Arugula & Goat Cheese.  I am a bit of a pizza fanatic and – honestly – a bit of a pizza snob.  I have posted LOTS & LOTS of pizza recipes – which can be seen HERE.  At any rate – as you can see from the recipe cards (above) – I opted to try both of their vegetarian pizzas & the tofu Parmigiana.   Randomly, I selected the Fig Pizza with Arugula & Goat Cheese to try for dinner last night – probably because I had never heard of or seen dried figs.  Look at the – below.  Like tiny, hard & wrinkled little figs.  I was intrigued!
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I continue to be entertained by the teeny portion ingredients provided – as I am delighted when they send way more than you need of some things.
As it turns out, I had leftover pizza dough of my own in the fridge & had accidentally used one of the two dough balls provided by Chef’d for a pizza I had made the night before (so I will be using my own dough to make the second Chef’d pizza).  No biggy.  The Chef’d pizza dough is fantastic & very close to my own so it will not make a huge difference.
Anyway – last night I rolled out the Chef’d dough & prepared the pizza as suggested with only three changes: 1) I only caramelized one of the two onions provided (because – while I love caramelized onions – I think they can get overpowering) and 2) I added crushed red pepper to the pizza (because I add it to almost everything) and 3) I did not add the arugula until the pizza was done – rather than wilting it in the oven.  A change I would make if I made this pizza again – and I might, because it was delicious – is that I would not add the sliced figs until the pizza was done. Goat cheese needs a lot of heat to get melty & my oven (likely needing calibration) burned them a bit.
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