Vegan Moroccan Chicken, Chickpeas & Butternut Squash with Preserved Lemons for the Slow Cooker (or Not)

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

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

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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 just 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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OK – in order to make this recipe – you really will need two important ingredients – seen above – preserved lemons & ras el hanout.  The preserved lemons will give the dish its distinctive Moroccan flair and the ras el hanout will keep this stew from tasting like a curry.   You can make the ras el hanout – as it is just a blend of other spices – but buying it will be so much cheaper & easier.  See the package below – list the spices involved in that particular brand.

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I used saffron – because I had it – but saffron can be very expensive so – if you don’t have any & don’t want to shell out the funds – blow the saffron off.  Same with the harissa (a hot sauce).  The two things I really suggest you not blow off are the preserved lemons & the ras el hanout – both of which can be purchased on Amazon.

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Preserved lemons come in a jar (see above) & are simply lemons pickled in brine.  They maintain all their sharp lemon flavor but are quite salty & very soft.   The flavor they give this dish is critical – so – be patient – and get some before making this.

Other than that – this is a straight-forward slow cooker dish (which could be made by simmering on the stove, too) with ingredients that are easy to come by.  I served mine with this Trader Joe’s blend of grains but couscous is more traditional.  I like this stuff from Trader Joe’s because it is pretty & offers lots of textures.  You can serve yours with whatever grain you prefer.

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I used Beyond Meat chicken because I think it is the best on the market.  I thawed & shredded it because it breaks down in stews better that way & because – visually – it really looks like shredded chicken.   I am convinced you could slip this by meat-eaters with no complaints.

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Vegan Moroccan Chicken, Chickpeas & Butternut Squash with Preserved Lemons for the Slow Cooker (or Not)

Serves 4-6 with couscous or rice

INGREDIENTS

9-12 oz vegan chicken

1 onion – diced

2-4 garlic cloves – chopped

2 (15 oz) cans of chickpeas – drained

4 cups vegetable stock

1 TBS ras el hanout

1/4 – 1 preserved lemon (depending on hpw large it is) – diced small (start with less & add more as you go – just so that this flavor doesn’t get to overpowering for you) – I used the entire 1/2 lemon using all parts

Saffron (a large pinch or more) – optional

Green and/or black olives – I used half Kalamata & half large martini olives – in a quantity to suit your taste for olives – optional

1 TBS harissa (or other hot sauce) – optional

1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes

3 carrots – chopped

1 butternut squash – peeled, seeded & cubed

1/2 – 1 red bell pepper – diced

1 lemon – peeled & sliced

1 handful cilantro

GARNISH – chopped cilantro or parsley, lemon wedges/slices

Cooked couscous or other grain

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DIRECTIONS

Put everything into a slow cooker & cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 8.  If you started light with the preserved lemon – taste occasionally & add more – if you like the flavor.  Overall – it should have a strong lemon flavor.  It should not need salt – because the preserved lemons, olives & stock should have that covered.

Stove top – just bring to a boil & simmer everything until the vegetables are soft – likely less than an hour.  If you started light with the preserved lemon – taste occasionally & add more – if you like the flavor.  Overall – it should have a strong lemon flavor.  It should not need salt – because the preserved lemons, olives & stock should have that covered.

In both cases – add water if it gets too thick.

Serve with whatever grain you chose & garnish with cilantro or parsley & lemon wedges.

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And Now For Something Completely Different…Sex, Sexy Selfies & Sexism

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

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

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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 just 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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This rant of mine from a year ago today came up in my Facebook Memories feed today – so I re-read it.  It still had the same resonance for me – so I am sharing it again – here.

Maybe I am old or cranky or even wrong (there will be many opinions) – but I am provoked to vent a tad here. The fury about Michelle Obama not covering her head in an extremely misogynist region and a reaction I read to the song I posted here & another slut-shaming women for posting sexy selfies – all piss me off. Outside of the danger of under-age girls sending inappropriate images out to linger in the ether forever (which is dangerous & a real problem – I understand THAT) – I say – grown-up ladies – knock your fucking selves out! Michelle Obama has no obligation to respect a religious/cultural law/custom that demeans her/women – especially as folks from those cultures do not assume Western traditions when on western soil (read about the ultra-Orthodox men holding up flights by refusing to sit next to women). And if women want to post images of themselves that highlight their sexuality – so what? The argument that men get aroused or that the women are objectifying themselves – again – so what? I don’t agree but even if it were true – I still say – so what? If they want to post sexy selfies – they can. This song – is a light & superficial lady power song (this version here is SO CUTE) & I saw it criticized because someone felt it still preaches that a woman’s value is in her appeal to men. What about just wanting to feel sexy or pretty in your own skin?? When I get dressed up or wear tight clothes or whateverthefuck – I do it because I WANT TO – not because I give a fuck about some guy on the street & his opinion. It is my own opinion of myself that I struggle with – not YOUR opinion of me. Same thing when I do not wear make-up or when I wear baggy clothes. Guess what? FOR ME – not the pleasure or displeasure of men. Suggesting that women should never post sexy images of themselves because it cheapens them is just wading into the same waters that led to burkas. Sexuality is huge part of being human and sex is GOOD CLEAN FUN – not a dirty secret – & just about everybody likes to look at naked or sexy images of people. And guess what? WOMEN like to look at sexy & nude pictures of other women – whether or not they get aroused or want to fuck them. The female body is beautiful. So – if women finding power – any power – whatever way they can – even if it is in their sexuality – or even if it is in their appeal to others – even if you don’t understand how it is they feel empowered -then oh, well – that is none of your business. If you are uncomfortable with it – don’t DO it & don’t look at it – but your discomfort is your fucking problem. I am so sick of slut-shaming & fucking expecting women everywhere to conform to standards that make others comfortable. Pubic hair banned on Instagram? WTF? If you want to get worked up about something – why not focus on already-very-thin models being photoshopped to look even thinner so that your ‘tween daughters see unrealistic beauty standards everywhere & start dieting before they get their first period? Harumph! So – yeah. Let the shit storm begin.
Oh yeah – and here are four self portraits from 2008. Blow me, haters.

Here is the video I mentioned above:

All About That [Upright] Bass – Meghan Trainor Cover – Postmodern Jukebox ft. Kate Davis

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10-Ingredient Vegan Eggplant Parmesan Mac & Cheese

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

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

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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 just 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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Honest to God – this might be the most fucking delicious vegan meal I have ever made!  Seriously!  And to think it only came together because I had a fridge full of random leftovers & ingredients that I needed to be done with.  I had a package of Tofutti American cheese, several slices of their mozzarella cheese (both of which I totally shit-talked in my vegan cheese review) & some leftover pasta.  Oh – and two Chinese eggplants.

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I actually had this selection of vegan cheeses – seen above.  I opted to use the individual slices first because 1) they were getting old and 2) I thought this dish would make better use of (read: mask) their less than fabulous flavor.  Ultimately – I did use some of the other two cheeses, as well.  The result is AMAZING!  You can use whatever vegan cheeses you prefer but you are going to need about a pound of various cheeses – before all is said & done.

I used Chinese eggplant & I recommend them because they are less bitter & carry less moisture than regular eggplant.

I used nutritional yeast but a vegan Parmesan would also work.  Or use neither.

This takes a few steps but all are simple & the result is a decadent feast that nobody would ever guess was vegan – at least with this particular combination of cheeses.  I find some vegan cheeses taste more fake than others – so – the brands you use will matter – but I am certain lots of other brands would be just as yummy – especially the Field Roast Chao cheeses – my favorite of the vegan cheeses I have tried.

Whatever you do – get it together to make this – at least once.  It really is killer!

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10-Ingredient Vegan Eggplant Parmesan Mac & Cheese

Feeds 4-6 depending on appetites

INGREDIENTS

4+ cups or so of cooked pasta

2 Chinese eggplant (or other variety) – sliced 1/2″ thick

1 cup bread crumbs

1/4 cup nutritional yeast (or vegan Parmesan)

1 TBS dry parsley

8 oz (or 12 individual slices) vegan American or cheddar cheese (or a mix) – PLUS SOME  EXTRA – just in case

4 oz (or 6 individual slices) vegan mozzarella – PLUS SOME  EXTRA – just in case

(Extra grated vegan cheese to top the casserole – one that melts would be prettiest)

2 – 3 cups unsweetened vegan milk

1 1/2 – 2 cups pasta sauce (I used Rao’s Arrabbiata)

Basil or parsley (or both) – chopped for garnish

Olive oil

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Mix the bread crumbs, nutritional yeast & dry parsley in a bowl.  Put about 1/2 cup milk in another bowl.  Heat some olive oil in a frying pan.  Dunk the eggplant rounds in the milk & then through the breadcrumbs and drop into the hot oil.  They should brown pretty quickly.  Flip & brown the other side.  Put on a cooking sheet & into the oven while you repeat the process until all the eggplant is cooked.  You will likely need to wipe out the burnt breadcrumbs & add more oil with each batch.

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In a stock pot, melt the American and/or cheddar cheese.   Add vegan milk in small increments until it becomes creamy.   Stir in the pasta.  At this point – I decided it needed more cheese so I added two slices of this cheese (below) and a bit more milk & cooked it until it looked wet & yummy & creamy.   I am not giving exact directions as to the cheese-milk-pasta ratio because different cheeses might have more or less moisture – and everyone has a different idea of how wet mac & cheese should be.    I would suggest going a little wet – as the pasta & eggplant will absorb it & you won’t have a dry dish.

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Look at that up there!!!!  Doesn’t that look just ridiculous?!  It was all I could do not to just start shoving it in my face.  But I used considerable will power & continued with the recipe.

So – when you get your pasta-cheese-milk ratio to where it looks creamy but still a bit wet (so it won’t dry out in cooking) – take it off the flame.

Grease a casserole pan & layer half the eggplant on the bottom.

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Add another layer of eggplant with the rest of the slices & top with pasta sauce.

In the same pan you melted the cheese in – melt the mozzarella & pour it over your casserole & pop the pan into the oven.

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At this point – I took my dogs for a walk – COMPLETELY forgetting I had this in the oven.  I think it needed 30-45 minutes in the 375 oven – but it got way more than that.  Don’t burn yours.  I kinda did.   Look – not so pretty.

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So – in an effort to make it pretty again – I grated some of that cheese above onto it & popped it back into the oven for about ten minutes.  As you can see – it did little to make it prettier (that cheese did not want to melt) – but when I scooped it onto plates – it looked & SMELLED amazing!

So – maybe do not burn yours & it will be prettier but nobody needs to see it before it hits the plate, anyway.

So – scoop some onto plates & garnish with parsley and/or basil.  I swear – this will fool people out of suspecting it is vegan.  So yummy & comforting!

Waste no time & devour it!

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Vegan Avocado Tacos

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

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

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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 just 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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Tacos are like pizza – in that – there is one for everyone.  Everybody can find one type of taco or pizza that fits their tastes – even if they are wildly finicky.  And – like pizza – they are fun to eat.  My tacos today are all veggie – with no protein outside the black beans.  Light & clean & all raw – outside of the tortillas.  No muss – no fuss.  Lots of textures & flavors.  A perfect lunch for someone looking for a quick & light meal.

Like with my pizzas & other taco posts – I am really just sharing with you what I used in MY tacos.  You can add other stuff  or lose some things – because tacos are a very forgiving meal.  Some folks just want meat & maybe cabbage on there – others want their tacos fully loaded & bursting.  So – make these to suit yourself.

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Vegan Avocado Tacos

My tacos included:

Street-taco-sized tortillas (very small)

Avocado slices

Black beans (drained & rinsed)

Red bell pepper – diced

Purple cabbage – sliced

Cilantro

Chipotle Vegenaise

Lime wedges

OTHER OPTIONS:  Lettuce, cabbage, corn, pico de gallo, sliced radishes, vegan chicken or beef crumbles, vegan sour cream or a vegan cheese, shredded carrots, guacamole, salsa, scallions, jalapenos, diced onion.

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DIRECTIONS

Grill the tortillas on the stove burners a bit on each side to warm & add grill marks. Assemble at will!

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Vegan Mixed Vegetable Burrito Bowl with Cauliflower “Rice”

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

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

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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 just 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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Burrito bowls – easy & endlessly customizable.  I used leftover Coconut, Ginger & Jalapeno Cauliflower “Rice” – seen just above – and that made this bowl virtually guiltless – because cauliflower rice is just grated cauliflower.  The only ingredients left in the bowl that were not vegetable were the vegan cheese & the black beans.

So – there is no real recipe here – but rather a list of ingredients I used & a few suggested alternate or additional ingredients.

I used a teensy bit of bottled vinaigrette on my bowl.  You can toss yours with dressing or a squeeze of lime & some olive oil – or just lime – or whip up a:

Lime & Cumin Vinaigrette

1/3 cup olive oil

3 TBS lime juice

1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp chili powder

S&P to taste

Whisked together.

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Vegan Mixed Vegetable Burrito Bowl with Cauliflower “Rice”

MY ingredients were:

Cauliflower rice (you can use regular cooked rice or try one of my cauliflower rices)

Sliced avocado

Black beans – drained & rinsed

Cherry tomatoes – halved

Arugula (you can use any lettuce or leafy greens you prefer)

Purple cabbage – sliced

Red onion – diced

Jalapeno slices

Vegan cheesed – chopped

Cilantro

Lime juice & wedges

Dressing of choice

OTHER POTENTIAL INGREDIENTS – corn, pico de gallo, sliced radishes, vegan chicken or beef crumbles, vegan sour cream or a vegan Mexican-style cheese, bell pepper, shredded carrots, guacamole, salsa, scallions, corn tortilla strips, quinoa or lentils or other grain – rather than rice.

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DIRECTIONS

Assemble the bowls as you like or let individuals assemble their own.  Add whatever dressing you like & mix it all up.  Easy peasy!

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Easy Roasted Sunchokes (Jerusalem Artichokes) with Herbs

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

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

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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 just 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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I had never seen or heard of sunchokes until my Farm Fresh to You veggie delivery offered them.   Intrigued – I ordered some.  They look like ginger but – when you cut them – the texture inside is more like a water chestnut or a radish.  Online – a bit of research revealed that people spoke of how wonderful these things are roasted because they get crispy on the outside but really soft & creamy on the inside.  So – I commenced to roasting them.

While they cooked, I did some more research and happened upon a blog post where the blogger claimed that – after eating roasted sunchokes – she was struck with a 24-hour bout of explosive diarrhea.  Her husband was ill for 12 hours.  So – I added a few key words to my sunchoke searches & it because clear that LOTS of people get horrible digestive & tummy issues after eating these things.  Apparently – they are unaffectionately nicknamed “fartichokes.”  Someone went so far as to say it was “irresponsible” for restaurants to serve them.  Jeez.  I looked at my oven warily as I toyed with the idea of just throwing the sunchokes I had directly into the trash.  But – 45 or so minutes later – they came out of the oven looking all golden & delicious – I could not resist trying one.  It was definitely softer & creamier inside than a potato would have been – and the subtle flavor it had definitely resembled the taste of an artichoke heart – but with a hint of sweetness.  I read somewhere someone saying these taste a lot like Terra chips – but I just got artichoke with sugar.   Of course, I immediately imagined my stomach rumbling in objection – but that was just paranoia.  I ate two or three more bites before I decided the sweetness was unpleasant & determined I had ample reason to throw the rest away – which I did.

So – between the flavor being off & the risk of an explosive shit storm – I don’t think I am endorsing these guys.  Attempt at your own risk!

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Easy Roasted Sunchokes (Jerusalem Artichokes) with Herbs

INGREDIENTS

Sunchokes – washed & cut into bite-sized pieces

Olive oil

Fresh thyme

Dry rosemary

S&P

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Toss the sunchokes in a bit of olive oil & stir in a few tablespoons of fresh herbs.  Season with S&P.

Roast for 40-60 minutes or until they are soft & golden.

Eat at your own risk!  🙂

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Roasted Fennel & Mushroom Pizza

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

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

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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 just 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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Ah, pizza!  This is not really a recipe – in that the quantities you use of each ingredient is up to you – as is the sauce you use & the dough you use.  I roasted the mushrooms – seen above (that recipe is HERE) and the fennel – but you could slice them very thin & use them raw.  I used real mozzarella here but your favorite vegan cheese will do.  It is pizza and pizza loves you no matter what.

Roasted Fennel & Mushroom Pizza

INGREDIENTS

Pizza dough ( I use this No-Rise thin crust recipe, lately)

Sauce (I always use Rao’s Arrabbiata)

Cheese

Roasted (or raw) sliced mushrooms

1 large fennel bulb – sliced very thin

Olive oil

Salt

Chopped basil as garnish

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DIRECTIONS

Roast the mushrooms as outlined HERE – of just use them raw.

To roast the fennel – heat the oven to 400.  Toss the fennel slices with a little olive oil & a bit of salt.  Roast for 10-20 minutes – or until the fennel is soft & just turning color.

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Heat the oven to 450-500 degrees.

I love parchment paper as nothing sticks to it so I recommend it highly.  If you don’t have any – lightly grease your cooking sheet.

Roll out the dough & put it on the sheet.  Top with sauce, fennel, mushrooms & cheese.  Cook for about 12 minutes or until the crust is golden & the cheese is melted.  Add the basil & get busy getting your eat on!

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