Easy 5-Ingredient Fresh Mint & Zucchini Pasta (Vegan or Vegetarian)

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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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I started this blog on about July 5, 2012.  On July 13, 2012, I posted one of my all-time favorite recipes.  It is one I got from my good friend, Naomi Priestley.  It is Zucchini & Mint Pasta with Parmesan (seen just above).  But – it is such a divine dish – I thought I would post it again with a few new options.  1) It can be made without cheese altogether or 2) without cheese but with a squeeze of lemon juice or 3) with vegan Parmesan.

Do not be thrown by the idea of mint in a pasta dish – it is delicious!  It is especially lovely when you use fresh, homemade pasta – but dry pasta is fine, too.  If you do not consider oil and S&P to be legit ingredients – this is a 5 ingredient dish & comes together in less than 20 minutes.

I bought this ridiculous $5 micro basil because it looks pretty.  It is tasty, too, but it is certainly an unnecessary indulgence.




Fresh Mint & Zucchini Pasta (Vegan or Vegetarian)

Serves 2


1/2 lb pasta – cooked & drained

Olive oil

3-5 zucchini – either grated or spiralized or sliced (you can use as much zucchini as you like to mitigate the amount of pasta you eat or to, at least, lighten up the dish)

1-3 cloves garlic – chopped

1/4 cup fresh mint – chopped

S&P to taste

OPTIONS – Parmesan or vegan Parmesan (to taste) and or a squeeze of fresh lemon juice

Garnish: chopped mint and/or parsley and/or basil, more cheese, crushed red pepper





Cook & drain the pasta.

I spiralized the zucchini but you can grate or slice it.  Spiralizing is a good way to bury veggies in a spaghetti dish so your kids do not notice the veggies in there.  I sliced the ends that were too short to spiralize.



Heat a glug or two of olive oil in a large saute pan.  Saute the garlic for about 30 seconds & then add the zucchini.  Saute a few minutes & then add mint and season with S&P.   When the zucchini is soft – add the pasta & combine.  Add cheese or vegan cheese here – if you are using it – or squeeze in some lemon – if you are going that route.  Plate & serve with cheese and/or chopped herbs (mint or basil or parsley).








Easy Vegan Kung Pao Cauliflower

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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 is simply a variation of my 20-Minute Spicy Vegan Kung Pao Chicken – seen just above.   I decided to make it even lighter by using cauliflower.  But – truth be told – I added a can of garbanzo beans AND a 9 oz bag of Beyond Meat chicken to my final result – because I had so much extra & delicious kung pao sauce over the cauliflower – I decided to stretch it out.  You can opt to add either or both of those things – or even other veggies.  It is really just all about this sauce.

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Easy Vegan Kung Pao Cauliflower

Serves 2-4 (with rice) depending on appetites & the size of your cauliflower (or if you add vegan chicken and/or chickpeas)


1 head cauliflower – cut into florets

2 TBS olive oil

1-10 dry red chilies (these are very hot so go easy until you are familiar with how much heat they add) cut in half (throw seeds out of you hate heat) – (I used ten but I really like spicy food)

4-6 scallions (white & green parts) – sliced

1-6 cloves garlic – chopped (I used 6)

1 TBS minced fresh ginger (I used jarred)

for the marinade

2 TBS low-sodium soy sauce (or tamari)

4 tsp rice wine (rice wine – not rice vinegar)

1 TBS cornstarch

for the kung pao sauce

3/4 cup black vinegar

4 TBS low-sodium soy sauce (or tamari)

4 TBS vegetarian hoisin sauce

4 TBS sesame oil

2 TBS cornstarch

1 cup water

GARNISH – cooked rice & peanuts

OPTIONAL – a drained can of chickpeas and/or Beyond Meat vegan chicken cubes





Cook some rice.  I used brown basmati.

Whisk the marinade together & toss it with the cauliflower & set aside for 15-30 minutes.  I did this in a Ziplock bag.


Whisk the sauce together & set aside.

Heat the oil in a large saute pan.  Add garlic, chilies & ginger & fry about 1 minute.

Add cauliflower, most of the scallions (save some green parts for garnish) & the sauce & cook over high heat until it s bubbling.  Add water & continue cooking until the sauce thickens & the cauliflower is tender but not mushy.




If you are adding chickpeas or chicken – add them now.  When the sauce is thick & the contents are heated through – serve with rice.  Garnish with scallions & peanuts.

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10-Minute Spicy Vegan Sriracha Chicken & Broccoli Bowl

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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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This chicken & broccoli comes together faster than the rice – so – if you have warm, cooked rice ready – you can serve this in ten minutes.  None of the ingredients are particularly exotic but it is GENUINELY spicy.  I like a lot of heat & this took it to my limit – so – if you are more timid in the spice department – cut the spicy things way back or drop them completely.  I used – as always – Beyond Meat brand vegan chicken because it is absolutely the best on the market.  It comes in 9 or 12 ounce packages.


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10-Minute Spicy Vegan Sriracha Chicken & Broccoli Bowl

Serves 2


9 to 12 ounces vegan chicken – cubed

1 jalapeno – seeded & diced (optional)

Olive oil

1-5 dry red chilies – halved & seeded (VERY optional as these are VERY spicy – and if you use hem – do not chew & swallow them – but pick them out when you eat)

1/2 cup vegan hoisin sauce

1-2 TBS sriracha sauce

1-3 tsp crushed garlic (I used jarred)

1 TBS ginger (I used jarred)

Broccoli for 2 – fresh or frozen

Salted peanuts

Sliced scallions as garnish

Cooked rice for 2

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Cook the rice.  If you are using fresh broccoli – steam it a few minutes until it is done to your taste & set aside.  If using frozen – cook it according to directions & set aside

Heat 1 TBS olive oil in a pan.  Saute the jalapeno & red chili – if using them.  When the jalapeno is softens (a few minutes) – add the garlic & ginger & saute 1 minute.  Add the hoisin & sriracha and the chicken & heat the chicken through.

Assemble the bowls with the rice, broccoli & chicken & garnish with peanuts & scallions.

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



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


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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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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Spicy Creamy Vegan Butternut Squash & Celery Root Soup

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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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BathingandthesinglegirlCover vromans back

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Lots of my recent recipes have been born from the need to use the vegetables that Farm Fresh to You sends me every two week.   I had a butternut squash and, you guessed it, celery root.  Two.  HUGE.  Celery roots.  I love celery root but there are not really that many ways to use it (it ain’t no cauliflower – that’s all I’m saying) – but this soup is a perfect way.  Creamy & light & guiltless.  I ate it for lunch at work for ten days straight.  I am certain it will freeze well – so if variety is the pice of your life – get ready to freeze some of this stuff.

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Spicy Creamy Vegan Butternut Squash & Celery Root Soup

Serves 10+ depending on portions


1 large butternut squash – peeled, seeded & cubed

2 large celery roots – peeled & cubed

1 onion

3 celery stalks – sliced

5 carrots – sliced

1 jalapeno – seeded & chopped (I did not seed mine & the soup was delightfully spicy!)

1-2 TBS dry sage (add it in increments)

10 cups vegetable stock

1 cup almond (or other vegan) milk (option – skip the milk & add more stock)

olive oil


GARNISH OPTIONS – fresh chopped sage, fried sage, a dollop of vegan sour cream or lots of freshly cracked pepper

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Heat a glug or two (2-3 TBS) of olive oil in a large stock pot.  Add the onions, carrots, celery & jalapeno until the onions just start to turn color – just a bit.  Add everything else except the almond milk.  Bring to a boil & cook until the squash & other veggies are VERY soft.

Puree in a blender in batches – putting the puree into a clean pan.   When it is all smoothly pureed, season with S&P & stir in the almond milk – or more stock – if you think it needs it.  Heat through.

Serve with whatever garnish you choose.

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Easy Crispy Oven Baked French Fries


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. So I started a new job last week – in post – on Tamar & Vince (click that to see the trailer).  Lemme just say – it is a world I would not typically stumble into – even over-served.  But – it is entertaining & it is NOT breaking rocks in the hot sun so – I go – I do post things –  I giggle.  I get paid.

Then I come home & feel like I deserve shit – after watching rich people HAVE shit for 9 hours.  Of course – I can’t have a McMansion in Calabasas but you know what?  I CAN have French fries in Hollywood & so having French fries in Hollywood is what I did.  TWO DAYS IN A ROW!  Except for a little olive oil – these are really just baked potatoes in miniature form.  Virtually guiltless.  SO yummy!  And so many options for dipping.  I used ketchup & two (non-vegan) aiolis from Stonewall kitchen – mainly because I am drawn to their packaging and I like to pay too much for things that are still affordable even at exorbitant prices.  The Sriracha one is better than the truffle one – in my opinion – and these two things could easily be made at home using vegan mayo.

I read somewhere that adding a tablespoon or two of sugar to the fries aids in crispiness without adding sweetness.  I will try that next time & add an update here.  Meanwhile – this is just potatoes, olive oil and S&P.  Eat two whole potatoes worth?  Maybe 400 calories.  400 calories?  I stress my way through that by lunch time – but – the stress does release cortisol into my system & leaves me just as fat as fries with no stress would – so – I’m not sure I am getting the best deal – BUT – these fries remain in a low calorie category, they are easy & cheap & do a lot to fill gaping holes in your soul that are supposed to be filled with various senses of personal accomplishment and with love (love from OTHERS – not this fickle & unreliable self-love shit).  I say – if you are gonna live a hollow & lonely life filled with missed opportunity, lost affection, inevitable aging, self-loathing & regret – these fries might be all that is left to live for.  Oh – and dogs.  Dogs & fries.  And champagne. And this paddle ball & that chair.

OK – I digress.

I read that soaking the sliced potatoes in ICED WATER helps them release starches & aids in the crisping process.  So – do it for as long as you can – or at least for as long as it takes your oven to heat up.

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Easy Crispy Oven Baked French Fries


Russet potatoes – peeled (or not) & cut into fries of the thickness you prefer (I went about the size of my pinkies)

Olive oil


POTENTIAL GARNISH – crushed garlic warmed for about a minute in a frying pan with some olive oil – or chopped herbs or Parmesan or a drizzle of truffle oil.

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Prepare the potatoes & soak them in icy cold water.

Heat the oven to 450-475.

After the potatoes have soaked for at least 15 minutes – dry them off.  I did this by rolling them in paper towels wrapped in a kitchen towel.

Toss with as little olive oil as you can use & still get a thin coat on all the potatoes.  Other oils – like canola or vegetable oil – would work, too.

Toss with S&P and maybe a TBS of sugar?  I tossed them by putting the potato, olive oil and S&P in a Ziplock bag or Tupperware container & shaking the shit outta them.

Spread the fries out on a cooking sheet (I lined mine with parchment paper because it is magical & nothing sticks to it but foil & cooking spray would work, too).  Do not let the fries touch each other or they won’t get crispy.

Bake the fries for between 30 minutes to an hour – depending on the thickness of the fries & the effectiveness of the oven.  Turn them in about 15-20 minute intervals – so at least two sides get browned.  Don’t overcook them & pull out the thinnest ones as the fatter ones still require cooking.  Eat those as a treat to yourself for doing the fucking cooking.

Here are mine at about half way through the process & before I flipped them.  When they are done – eat’m up!  See how easy?

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Easy Basil Pesto (Vegan or Not)


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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Pesto is a lovely thing – when used sparingly.  I loathe a pesto pasta that is heavy with oily dense pesto – but if the pesto is light & clean & used delicately – it really is yummy.

Traditionally – it is made with pine nuts.  I have sworn off pine nuts ever since a friend got “pine mouth.”  Pine mouth is a horrid metallic taste that overwhelms your mouth whenever you eat or drink.  It is from eating rancid pine nuts.  Apparently, pine nuts have a relatively short shelf life & many come from China, Korea, Russia and Vietnam.  Nobody seems to really understand pine mouth but there is one easy way to avoid ever getting it – avoid pine nuts.  Easy.  Pine nuts are rich & greasy & are used way too liberally & frequently – much like sun-dried tomatoes in the eighties.  Fuck you, pine nuts.  I never like you much, anyway.

So – you can make pesto with almost any other nut – like pecans, walnuts, cashews, pistachios or – as I did here – with almonds.   You can toast the nuts or not – it does not matter much.

The real news here is the concept of blanching the basil.  I read that it makes for a smoother & more vibrantly green pesto.  Vibrant green is nice to photograph – so I blanched my basil.  Judge the results yourself.  If you wanna skip the blanching – there will be no repercussions.  I promise.

Traditionally – real Parmesan is used and I used it here.  If you are vegan – just use vegan Parmesan.

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Easy Basil Pesto (Vegan or Not)

Makes a lot


6 oz (or 4 packed cups) fresh basil

1/2 cup almonds

1/2 cup grated Parmesan (or vegan alternative)

2 garlic cloves

1/4 cup olive oil

S&P to taste

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Blanch the basil by submerging it in boiling water for about 30 seconds.  Drain & plunge into cold water to stop its cooking. Squeeze the water out.

Puree all ingredients in a blender or food processor.  I add water in tiny increments to thin it & to facilitate the blending.

Season with S&P.

I put mine into sandwich bags in small portions & froze it for later use.  Works great!

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