DDD #61 – Easy Vegan Holiday Gravy

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2017

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

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This is easy & can be made in 20 minutes.  It is delicious & even meat eaters will delight in it.  I brought it to a Thanksgiving diner yesterday & the hostess tasted my gravy & chose not to bother making a turkey-based version for her carnivorous guests.  Everyone ate the vegetarian gravy & all were pleased!

Click the image below to watch the video.


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Easy Vegan Gravy

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup vegan butter (or vegan alternative or olive oil)

1/2 – 3/4 cup shallots (or onion) – minced

1/2 cup flour

6 cups vegetable stock

1 TBS soy sauce

1/2 tsp Marmite

1 tsp black pepper

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the stock in a pan.

Melt the vegan butter in another large stock pot.  Add the chopped shallots or onion & cook a few minutes letting the butter heat just to the point of boiling.  Add the flour & whisk it in until it is smooth.  Lower heat to med-high & brown the roux just a bit – whisking constantly.  ImageImage

It should get very thick very quickly.  Add the soy sauce & Marmite & black pepper.  Whisk them in & then slowly add the stock in small increments.  Here is where you can control how thin or thick the gravy gets.  Let it thicken before adding the next portion of stock.  When all the stock is incorporated – you can cook it down to thicken it more.  If it gets too thick – add a bit of water.  And there you have it!  Enjoy!

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DDD #55 – Vegan Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Spicy Candied Walnuts

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2017

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

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Click the image above to watch the video.

These are so easy & so delicious – I bet even folks that hate Brussels sprouts will like them.  Sweet & salty & crunchy & warm & soft.  They are ready in 15 minutes.  YUM!

Vegan Caramelized Brussels Sprouts with Spicy Candied Walnuts

Serves 4 as a side

INGREDIENTS

for the spicy candied walnuts

1 cup walnut pieces

1/4 cup white sugar

1 TBS vegan butter

1 tsp (or more) cayenne

for the caramelized Brussels sprouts

2 dozen small Brussels sprouts (6 cups or so)

2 garlic cloves – chopped

2 TBS olive oil

1/4 cup brown sugar

salt to taste

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DIRECTIONS

for the spicy candied walnuts

Heat everything in a pan for 3-5 minutes – stirring constantly being really careful not to burn the sugar.  When it is thick & gooey & fragrant – put the nuts on a piece of parchment paper & – using a fork so you do not burn yourself – separate the nuts so they do not clump together.

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for the caramelized Brussels sprouts

Either slice the sprouts in a food processor or slice them very thin so you are left with mainly ribbons.

Heat the olive oil in a large pan, add the sugar & stir.  Add the sprouts & saute until soft – maybe 5 minutes.  Taste to see if maybe you need another generous pinch of sugar.  When a minute from being ready – add the garlic & saute another minute.  Season with salt & pepper.

Serve with the candied walnuts on top.

See?  Crazy easy!

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DDD # 44 – Vegan Cold Soba Noodle Salad with Brown Sugar Tofu & Chili Oil

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2017

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

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Click the image below to watch the video & please subscribe to my channel.

Vegan Cold Soba Noodle Salad with Brown Sugar Tofu & Chili Oil

Serves 2 very well

INGREDIENTS

for the chili oil

1/2 cup oil

3 star anise pods

1-2 TBS chopped fresh ginger

2 TBS crushed red pepper

2-4 garlic cloves – minced

3 scallions – chopped

for the dressing

2 TBS sesame oil

2 TBS rice vinegar

2 TBS low sodium soy sauce or liquid aminos or tamari

2 TBS brown sugar

for the soba salad

7 oz soba noodles – cooked & drained

1/2 – 1 pound tofu (I used pressed tofu)

2 TBS brown sugar

1/2 tsp S&P

1 TBS sesame oil

Mixed chopped vegetables.  I used:

1/2 cucumber

4 radishes

1/4 red bell pepper

1 cup purple cabbage

2 scallions

(you could use edamame, cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, snow peas, green beans or whatever you like)

Cilantro

Sesame seeds

Lime wedges

DIRECTIONS

Cook the noodles & set aside.

Whisk the dressing together & set aside.

Heat the oil for the chili oil in a pan.  Add the star anise & crushed red pepper.   Add the ginger & scallions.  When the scallions are soft & just starting to brown – add the garlic & heat for one minute.  Put the oil in a storage container to cool.  You won’t need all the oil for this recipe & the leftover should keep in the fridge for several days.

Heat 1 TBS sesame oil.  Add the brown sugar & salt & pepper.  Add the tofu & heat until the sugar caramelizes onto the tofu.  Set aside.

In a bowl – toss the noodles with the tofu & veggies.  Add some dressing (not all of it) and a drizzle of the chili oil.  Start very light with both the dressing & the chili oil & add more to taste.

Garnish with sesame seeds and cilantro & serve with lime wedges.

 

DDD #39 – 5-Minute Burnt Brown Sugar Chicken Fingers

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2017

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

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Click the image below to watch the video recipe.


 

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Ok – these things were so delicious – I was almost unable to keep from eating them all as I photographed them.  They take 5 minutes and can be eaten as is or packed into a sandwich or taco.  They would go really well with my Spicy Vegan Sriracha Miso Cole Slaw, seen above.

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As always, I used Beyond Meat brand chicken because it is, quite simply, the best on the market.  Click that link to use their store locator & get a coupon.

These could be baked but I think that really only works for real chicken as the grease in the chicken would keep it moist.  Faux chicken, like I used here, I think, is better served stove-top & it is faster & easier that way, anyway.  These suckers are REALLY good – I promise!

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5-Minute Vegan Burnt Brown Sugar Chicken Fingers

Feeds 1 or 2 – depending on appetite

INGREDIENTS

1 9oz bag of vegan chicken strips – thawed

2 TBS olive oil

1 TBS brown sugar

2 tsp garlic powder

2 tsp onion powder

2 tsp chili powder

2 tsp smoked paprika

1-2 TBS agave nectar

S&P

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DIRECTIONS

If you have a nonstick pan – use it.  Burnt sugar is a pain to clean.  If you don’t have one – maybe up the olive oil a tad.

Mix all the ingredients (except the chicken) – reserving 1 TBS agave nectar – in a bowl.  Put the mixture in the bag with the chicken & mush it all around until all the strips are covered.

Again – use either a nonstick pan or a pan greased with some olive oil & cook on medium high, stirring occasionally, until the sugar just begins to blacken.  Toss with another TBS agave nectar to moisten things up a bit & serve!

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Vegan or Vegetarian Poutine with Vegan Mushroom, Leek & Sage Brown Gravy plus Emily Valentine, 90210, Puddles Pity Party & Chucky!

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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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It has been an exciting few weeks.  First of all – I attended Rewind Convention in Chicago for an 80’s-90’s TV & film thingy & lotsa the 90210 folks were there.  It was great seeing them!

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It was as cool as seeing the Child’s Play 2 cast – which I did in September.  Coolest of all was seeing the 90210: The Musical in NYC!   It runs thru Dec. 17 so – if you live near NYC & love 90210 – you MUST go see it.  Here is a little peek:

Is that not BRILLIANT?  I have to say – this homage was as surreal as it was flattering.  Truly – a highlight of my career – to have a character I created recreated by others.  REALLY fun.

Then I got to see & MEET Puddles!!!   If you are unfamiliar – you are really missing out.  He is a 6’8″ sad clown with a truly golden voice!   See him if you ever get the opportunity.

So – it has been an incredible fall for me!

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Oh!  And there is more!   I had a few lines on a new TV show!   See above.  Only a few lines but they were with Topher Grace (swoon!) and Ray Romano – so – that did not suck.  Even the 5am call time was made OK because it was at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery!  And Topher Grace was VERY generous & confessed to having been a big 90210 fan, back in the day.  It is always comforting when other actors acknowledge being aware of you and your work.  And I am a huge fan of Topher’s so – yeah.  That was fun!

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So – yeah – a fun-filled autumn.

So – I realized this week that I am becoming a hoarder.  A food hoarder.  I have moth issues so I like to keep all my dry goods (beans, rice, sugar, flour, pasta etc) in the fridge or freezer.  Still – they keep putting that Di Martino pasta on sale for .79 cents a pound!  I cannot afford NOT to buy it!  So – as I was shoving my twentieth pound of overflow dry goods into my pantry – I saw my pantry.  Really saw it.

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Those drawers are DEEP.  I have enough food in there to last years and I live ALONE!  I have every condiment from American standards to those needed for Thai or Indian or whatever-the-fuck food.  There are about 20 jars of Rao’s Arrabbiata pasta sauce and at least 20 pounds of dry pasta & every kind of canned bean & oil or vinegar of whatever you can think of.  If you can name it – I probably have more than one container of it and if it comes in varieties – I will have several.  I even have canned tuna & meats for my dogs.  It is a fucking problem.

Another problem is that I recently watched the amazing Food Choices documentary.  Click that to watch the trailer.  I already eat about 90% vegan – with cheese being my final hurdle.  The movie really drove home, for me, the idea that eating cheese is really no better than eating meat.  It requires the same suffering & death (of baby calves) – making cheese consumption on par with veal.  I would NEVER eat veal & even silently judge those I hear order it.  Yet – cheese is still on my plate.

So – I went to the farmers’ market in Hollywood the past crisp & gorgeous Sunday morning hoping to find the Soledad Goat folks & buy vegan cheese from them.  They were not there (but I discovered & purchased their cheezes online HERE this week & bought several) – but, like an asshole, I let myself be drawn to the local REAL cheese guy’s table.  I have been longing to experiment with a poutine recipe but have never seen cheese curds anywhere.  I was not even sure what they were.  But – he had them.  They are:

From Wikipedia:

Cheese curds, in cuisine or cooking, are the solid parts of curdled milk either eaten alone or used in various regional dishes mostly in Canada and the northeastern and midwestern United States. They are sometimes referred to as “squeaky cheese“.

Cheese curds start off with fresh milk. The milk is pasteurized, much like in the process of creating cheese. During this process, rennet is added to clot the milk. After the milk has been pasteurized, the result is a mixture of whey and the early stages of the curd. This mixture is then cooked. Next, it is pressed to release the whey from the curd, thus creating the final product of cheese curd.

Characteristics

Their flavor is mild, but can differ in taste depending on the process in which it was made. It has about the same firmness and density as cheese, but with a springy or rubbery texture. Fresh curds squeak against the teeth when bitten into, a defining characteristic due to air trapped inside the porous material. This “squeak” has been described by the New York Times as sounding like “balloons trying to neck”. After 12 hours, even under refrigeration, cheese curds lose much of their “fresh” characteristic, particularly the “squeak”.[4] Keeping them at room temperature can preserve the squeakiness.

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While I debated buying those – he insisted I taste his sage-cheddar.  I did.  It was delicious.  I caved & bought the sage cheese & the curds.  Here are some of his other cheeses & some info on him.

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I also headed to the Korean table because they make the MOST INSANELY DELICIOUS TEMPEH!  I bough two of those.  And a fennel bulb.  Then I became overwhelmed by the choices, the number of vendors peddling produce and, frankly, the prices.  These markets are not cheap.  So – I scuttled home with the tempeh, the guilty cheese & the fennel.

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Several years ago, I realized I had stockpiles of food that were getting out of control.  I did an experiment & tried to ONLY eat what I already had, in an effort to spend ZERO on groceries in one month.  I managed to almost do it but I had to spend a few dollars here and there for non-dairy creamer & stuff.  But – I bought no produce so – after a week or so – I was fresh outta fresh produce & was reduced to eating pastas, rices & breads that I had frozen.  As I state in my novel – and all beige diet has consequences.   I will let you guess what I mean but let’s just say it is very different than, say, an all-BEET diet.  My friends knew I was doing this and began panicking.  Two different people delivered bags of produce to my door.  When I attempted this pantry-emptying plan a second time – again – one of those friends delivered produce to my door.  VERY VERY sweet!  But – I was not on a hunger strike.  I was just challenging myself to stop hoarding & being wasteful of perishables.

So – as I launch into my third effort to spend zero on groceries (wine being an exception – and eating in restaurants doesn’t count, either) – I will still allow myself my regular twice-monthly delivery of produce from Farm Fresh to You.  That way – my friends won’t be wringing their hands, terrified that my bones are crumbling & my skin is falling off or whatever it is they fear.   I will attempt to keep a log of what I eat & what money I spend.  Yesterday – I spent just under $10 at Carneys.  I had a Garden burger & fries.  For dinner – a small salad.

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Today’s breakfast.  That is the best almond milk – in my opinion.  And vegans, beware!  Those Morning Star sausages are only vegetarian – not vegan!  Bear with me – these posts will get more and more creative as I am forcing myself to eat what I have without buying anything – for a month!   We will see how it goes.

OK – on to the POUTINE!  I do not think I have ever had poutine but the idea appeals to me.  You can use fresh cheese curds (as I did) or mozzarella or VEGAN cheese – like this amazing stuff below.

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That little bag costs $8 but is the best & meltiest vegan mozzarella I have found – after my own homemade vegan mozzarella – seen below.

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OK – so – you can make poutine using frozen fries & canned gravy & make this very easily.  I opted to MAKE the fries as I describe HERE.  And – I made a new vegan gravy because my other vegan gravy does not have the rich & dark color I wanted for the poutine.

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So – first up – the

Vegan Mushroom, Leek & Sage Brown Gravy

INGREDIENTS

5 TBS vegan butter

2 cups chopped mushrooms

1 leek

ten or more sage leaves

1/2 cup flour

6 cups vegetable stock

2 TBS soy sauce (or tamari or liquid aminos)

2 tsp Kitchen Bouquet

Chives – chopped for garnish (optional)

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DIRECTIONS

Finely chop the mushrooms & leek.  I pulsed them in my food processor.  If you do not own one – maybe just blend the finished gravy to make it smooth.

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Heat the stock in a soup pan.  Add the soy sauce & kitchen bouquet.  Simmer.

In another pan, melt FOUR of the five tablespoons of the butter & saute the vegetables until soft.  Add the flour & stir to combine.  Add the stock 1/2 to 1 cup at at time – over high heat – until the gravy thickens.  If it is too thin once you add all the stock – just boil it down a bit.

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Melt the remaining TBS of butter & fry the sage leaves a minute or two.  Drain them on a paper towl & crumble.  Add to the gravy.  Add the leftover sage butter to the gravy.  Voila!

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Vegan or Vegetarian Poutine with Vegan Mushroom, Leek & Sage Brown Gravy

INGREDIENTS

French fries – either THESE homemade, or your recipe or frozen ones

Gravy – either the recipe above or your favorite one

Cheese curds or grated cheese or vegan cheese

Chives or parsley as garnish

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Once the fries are crispy & the gravy is warm – assemble the poutine:  fries, cheese, gravy & some chives or parsley.  Shove’m in your pie hole fast – before they get soggy.  Or – you can just dip fries & cheese in gravy.

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5-Minute Vegan Burnt Brown Sugar Chicken Fingers

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2015

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

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Ok – these things were so delicious – I was almost unable to keep from eating them all as I photographed them.  They take 5 minutes and can be eaten as is or packed into a sandwich or taco.  They would go really well with my Spicy Vegan Sriracha Miso Cole Slaw, seen above.

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As always, I used Beyond Meat brand chicken because it is, quite simply, the best on the market.  Click that link to use their store locator & get a coupon.

These could be baked but I think that really only works for real chicken as the grease in the chicken would keep it moist.  Faux chicken, like I used here, I think, is better served stove-top & it is faster & easier that way, anyway.  These suckers are REALLY good – I promise!

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5-Minute Vegan Burnt Brown Sugar Chicken Fingers

Feeds 1 or 2 – depending on appetite

INGREDIENTS

1 9oz bag of vegan chicken strips – thawed

2 TBS olive oil

1 TBS brown sugar

2 tsp garlic powder

2 tsp onion powder

2 tsp chili powder

2 tsp smoked paprika

1-2 TBS agave nectar

S&P

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DIRECTIONS

If you have a nonstick pan – use it.  Burnt sugar is a pain to clean.  If you don’t have one – maybe up the olive oil a tad.

Mix all the ingredients (except the chicken) – reserving 1 TBS agave nectar – in a bowl.  Put the mixture in the bag with the chicken & mush it all around until all the strips are covered.

Again – use either a nonstick pan or a pan greased with some olive oil & cook on medium high, stirring occasionally, until the sugar just begins to blacken.  Toss with another TBS agave nectar to moisten things up a bit & serve!

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

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Hot peppers
  • Blueberries (domestic)

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

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

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White Balsamic & Dijon Vinaigrette

INGREDIENTS
3 TBS white balsamic vinegar

2 TBS olive oil

2 TBS Dijon

S&P

DIRECTIONS

Shake that shit up in a jar.

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

Serves 2 as a main course

INGREDIENTS (flexible according to your tastes)

1/2 lb raw, organic spinach – chopped

1 cup organic strawberries – sliced

9 oz vegan chicken – thawed

1 ear fresh corn – kernels cut off

2 cups cooked brown rice

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

Cilantro – chopped – optional

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DIRECTIONS

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

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

Easy & gorgeous.

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