DDD #137 – Vegan Chicken & Eggplant Casserole

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2019

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 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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Click the image above to watch the video.

Vegan Chicken & Eggplant Casserole

Feeds 4-6

INGREDIENTS

8 vegan chicken patties (like Boca or Quorn)

1 large eggplant – sliced 1/4-1/2 inch slices & sprayed with cooking spray

24 ounce or more pasta sauce (I used Rao’s Spicy Arrabbiata) (my recipe for homemade is HERE)

12-16 ounces vegan mozzarella (at least half of it grated)

Basil for garnish

DIRECTIONS

Make sauce – if you are using homemade.

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Grill the eggplant slices on both sides on a grill or in a grill pan.

Assembly instruction is not really important – as long as you have about 1/2 the sauce & 1/4 of the grated mozzarella left to top the casserole.

Layer 1/4 of the sauce in a casserole pan.  Layer 4 chicken patties, all the eggplant & then about 1/2 the cheese.  Top with another 1/4 of the sauce & the remaining 4 chicken patties.  Top with the rest of the sauce & as much grated mozzarella as you like.

Bake for 30-45 minutes or until it is heated through & the cheese is melted.

Serve garnished with fresh chopped basil.

 

DDD #117 – Vegan Eggplant Parmesan Casserole with Cauliflower Rice & Sausage

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2018

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 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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Photo from The Iron You.

Click the image above to watch the video.

The photo just above is from the wonderful blog – The Iron You.  It is their Eggplant Parm Rice Casserole and it is that recipe that inspired mine here.  There are a few subtle changes but the primary difference is that I used cauliflower rice rather than real rice and I made it vegan.  That way – this dish is very light & nearly guiltless.  Is is very easy to make & comes together in less than 45-60 minutes – 30 of which are in the oven.  It is a surprisingly tasty recipe & chock full of fresh vegetables.

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Eggplant Parmesan Casserole with Cauliflower Rice (Vegetarian or Vegan)

Serves 8

INGREDIENTS

1 large head of cauliflower

2 eggplants – cut into 1/4 inch slices

Olive oil

1 cup basil – chopped

2 large shallots (or 1/2 small onion) – diced

2 cups cherry tomatoes – quartered (reserve a few extra to garnish)

2-3 cups vegan mozzarella – according to your preference (I used 3 cups)

1-2 cups grated vegan Parmesan – according to your preference

S&P

1 TBS oregano

1 TBS crushed red pepper (optional)

1 cup vegetable stock

1 1/2 cups of your favorite pasta sauce

3 (or more) vegan sausages – cooked

Parsley or basil – chopped as garnish

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DIRECTIONS

If you have a grill or grill pan, spray some olive oil on the eggplant (or toss them in a light coating of olive oil or dressing) & grill on each side until a bit charred & soft.  Set aside.

If you do not have a grill or grill pan – follow Iron You’s oven method directions:  Preheat oven to 400°F  and place a rack in the middle. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and grease them with vegetable oil. Set aside.
Fill a large bowl with cold water, add 1 teaspoon of salt and stir until it dissolves completely.
Add eggplant slices and let them sit for at least 20 minutes to draw out the bitterness.  Fish the eggplant slices out of the water, pat them dry, and arrange them on a single layer on prepared baking sheets. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes, or until the slices turn deep brown on top.
Remove the slices from the baking sheets and carefully transfer them on a plate to cool.

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Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Cook sausages & chop.

Cut the florets from the cauliflower & either grate them on a box grater or using the grater of your food processor (the FAR neater way to go).  Set aside.

Toss the tomatoes with basil, a pinch or S&P & the oregano & crushed red pepper & set aside.

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Heat a TBS or so of olive oil in a large frying pan (large enough to hold all the cauliflower rice) & saute the shallots or onion until soft.  Add the cauliflower rice & the stock.  Over high heat – saute until the cauliflower is soft & the bulk of the stock has evaporated.  Stir in the tomato & basil mix and the sauce.

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Grease a casserole pan (I used cooking spray) and layer 1/3 of the rice on the bottom.  Top with half the eggplant and 1/3 of the cheese and 1/2 the sausage.  Add another 1/3 of the rice, remaining eggplant and 1/3 of the cheese & the remaining sausage.  Top with a final layer of rice & cheese.

Bake for 20-30 minutes or until the cheese is melted & the casserole is heated through.

Let sit for 10 minutes & then serve with parsley or basil & maybe extra diced tomato.

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DDD #111 – The Ivy Copycat Grilled Vegetable Salad with Lime Vinaigrette

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2018

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.

The Ivy Copycat Grilled Vegetable Salad with Lime Vinaigrette

serves 2 as an entree

INGREDIENTS

for the dressing

Juice of 1-2 limes

match the lime juice with an equal part of olive oil so it is 50/50.

Add about 1 TBS each of balsamic vinegar (or other vinegar) and agave

Season to taste with S&P.

Combine & taste.  Tweak to suite your palate.

for the salad

Your choice of greens – or a mixture (arugula, romaine, butter lettuce, watercress, field greens – your call)

1 zucchini

1 yellow squash

2 ears fresh corn – in the husks

1 bunch asparagus – tough bottoms trimmed

1 red bell pepper – seeded

1/2 cucumber – diced

1 handful cherry tomatoes – haved

3-4 radishes – chopped

1/4 small red onion – diced

1 avocado – chopped

OPTONAL  – chopped herbs (basil or cilantro), protein (chickpeas, black beans, vegan chicken or any other protein you desire)

DIRECTIONS

Make the dressing while the veggies are grilling.

Slice the zucchini & squash in 1/4 inch thick slices & grill until softened & there are grill marks – turning a few times.  Do the same with the red pepper & asparagus.  Set aside.  Grill the corn in the husks until blackened on the outside.  Cool & throw the husks away then cut the corn from the cobs.

Now – just assemble the salad the way you would any other.  If there are going to be leftover veggies – do not dress them.  They will stay fresher in the fridge undressed.

Serve & enjoy!!!

 

DDD #85 – Grilled Portobello Mushrooms and My 1st Anniversary on Youtube – A One Year Retrospective!!

4 Comments

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2018

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

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I did it! My channel is officially one year old! In this episode you will see how I make my grilled portobello mushrooms and, more importantly, get a look back at a year’s worth of rants (and there ARE some rants!), bloopers, blunders, boobs & f bombs.  I hope you laugh!  Thank you for your support this year. This channel would suck for me if nobody watched. And – PLEASE SUBSCRIBE!  Click the image below to watch.

Portobello mushrooms are a great meat substitute.  You can eat them hot or room temperature – in a salad or on a bun.  I sliced mine up & tossed them with the extra marinade & some heirloom cherry tomatoes, arugula & a few scallions.  It was like a vegan steak salad!  Mmmmmm!

Marinated Grilled Portobello Mushrooms

serves 4

INGREDIENTS

4 large portobello mushrooms

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup nice balsamic vinegar

1 TBS sambal oelek or sriracha

1/4 cup soy sauce or tamari

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DIRECTIONS

Cut the stems from the mushrooms & scrape the fine ribs from the bottom – as they can get bitter.

Mix the marinade ingredients & toss the mushrooms in it & let them sit at least an hour.

Heat your grill or dry grill pan until it is very hot.  The mushrooms should sizzle upon contact.  Cook 3-4 minutes on each side.

Serve whole or sliced – any way you prefer.  You can drizzle the extra marinade on them – if you like.  Eat’m up!

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DDD #56 – 5-Minute Vegan Sticky & Spicy Indian Masala Chicken Fingers

2 Comments

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.

Today is Official Chucky the Killer Doll Day!  So – be sure to watch the UNRATED dvd version for a post credits surprise!

1989 – above.  2017 – below.

Kyle fan art by @LuxBlackArts

Isn’t that cool?  Anyway –

These take 5 minutes & are completely irresistible!  I ate the entire 9 oz of chicken in one sitting.  I recommend using Beyond Meat chicken because it really is the best on the market.  Click the link to  use their store locator.  In the pictures – I cooked these in a regular non-stick pan but I did, ultimately, transfer them to a grill pan – just for the aesthetic of the grill marks.  If you have a grill pan – use it – otherwise any pan will do.

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5-Minute Vegan Sticky & Spicy Indian Masala Chicken Fingers

Serves 1-2 as an appetizer (though this would go great with rice, too)

INGREDIENTS

9 oz vegan chicken

2 TBS garam masala

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp salt

1/3 cup chili sauce (the sweet Thai kind)

2 tsp soy sauce

2 TBS sriracha

1 TBS ketchup

juice of 1/2 lime

Agave nectar

Olive oil or cooking spray

GARNISH – sliced scallions, sesame seeds

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DIRECTIONS

Whisk all the ingredients except the chicken, agave & garnish.  Set the sauce aside.

If you have a grill pan (or other pan) – treat it with cooking spray or olive oil.  Put the chicken in the pan on high heat.  Add the sauce & cook, turning the strips frequently, until the sauce thickens & begins to blacken in spots – likely only a few minutes.  Just before they are done – drizzle with a little agave nectar for moisture.

Serve with choice of garnish.

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Vegan Tomato Basil Bisque and a Grilled Cheese & Chiles Sandwich

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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 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 soup was just a way for me to use up some vegetables & create a creamy, warming bisque – with tomatoes out of season.  Fresh tomatoes would be better but I did not have any & I am attempting to eat only what I have on hand – without spending any money on groceries.  I call it “the pantry challenge.”  I have done it a few times in the past with very strict rules.  This time – I have allowed a few cheats but I am still saving a ton of money.  I have so many leftovers frozen away & so many canned & dry goods – I could literally last months.  The only problem is that produce gets scarce – so – I have allowed a twice-monthly delivery from Farm Fresh to You.  Anyway – I a rambling.

This soup is easy & customizable.   You could sub out or lose a few of the veggie ingredients to suit your fancy.

For the sandwich – I used my homemade Vegan Basil Mozzarella Cheese for Grating & Melting – seen below.

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You can use any cheese you prefer.  I also topped it with some hot green chiles of the ilk seen above.  You can use whatever level of heat suits you.

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Grilled Cheese & Chiles Sandwich

INGREDIENTS

Bread of choice

cheese of choice

vegan butter or cooking spray

Chiles of choice

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DIRECTIONS

Treat a pan with cooking spray or melted butter.  Butter one side of each slice of bread & spray with cooking spray.  Over medium heat, place the UNBUTTERED side of each slice down for a few seconds to warm them.  Then flip one slice, top with cheese & chiles & the other slice of bread – buttered side up.  Grill, flipping a few times & pressing with a spatula until the cheese gets soft and/or the bread id grilled to your taste.

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 Vegan Tomato Basil Bisque

Makes a lot – enough for 4 to eat as a meal or for more people as a side

INGREDIENTS

2 TBS olive oil

1 leek – sliced (or a small onion)

1 red bell pepper – seeded & chopped

3 garlic cloves

5 carrots – chopped

1 jalapeno – seeded & diced (optional)

52 ounces of tomato sauce or diced tomatoes (6-7 cups)

1/4 cup or more fresh basil

1/4 cup vegan cream cheese

1/4 cup vegan milk or cream

S&P

Garnish – fresh basil & maybe vegan cream or sour cream

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oil in a large stock pot.  Add the veggies (carrots, leek, bell pepper, jalapeno) & saute a few minutes – until the leek (or onion) is soft.  Add tomato sauce & garlic.    Bring to a boil.  When the carrots & other vegetables are soft, add the cream cheese, milk & basil.  Combine.  Now – in batches – blend with an immersion blender or a regular blender.  Season with salt & pepper.

Serve with fresh cracked pepper & basil leaves.  Swirl in some cream or sour cream, if you desire.

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Baked Vegetarian Penne Pasta alla Siciliana with Smoked Mozzarella & Grilled Eggplant

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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 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 rich & comforting & easy to make.  I made the sauce but you could use a jar of your favorite kind.  I used real cheese – you can use a vegan alternative – or even omit it.    If you go with no cheese – there is no reason to bake it & you can serve it right from the stove top.  The real key to this is grilling the eggplant – to get rid of that texture & add a smokiness that adds to the autumnal flavors of this dish.

Baked Vegetarian Penna Pasta alla Siciliana with Smoked Mozzarella & Grilled Eggplant

Serve 4 well

INGREDIENTS

1 lb dry pasta

Olive oil

1 eggplant – sliced into 1/2 inch rounds

28 oz chopped tomatoes

6-10 cherry tomatoes – quartered (optional)

1-6 garlic cloves (to taste) – chopped

8 oz smoked mozzarella – grated

1 cup regular (or more smoked) mozzarella – grated

1 tsp – 1 TBS crushed red pepper (to taste)

1 tsp oregano

1/4 cup fresh parsley – chopped

1/4 cup fresh basil – chopped

S&P

Garnish: more grated cheese (Parmesan or Asiago), chopped fresh basil or parsley

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven (if you are using cheese) to 350 degrees.

Cook & drain the pasta.

Either brush the eggplant with olive oil r spray with cooking spray & grill (or a grill or grill pan) – for a few minutes on each side until they are nicely grilled.  Cool & chop.

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Heat a TBS or so of olive oil in a stock pan.  When hot – add the garlic & cook one minute.  Add the chopped tomatoes, crushed red pepper, oregano, cherry tomatoes, eggplant, basil & parsley.  Cook on low for a while until it thickens & the flavors meld.  Maybe 20 minutes or so.  Add the cooked pasta & toss.  If not using cheese – serve & garnish once it is heated through.

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If using cheese – add the 8 oz grated smoked mozzarella & toss.  Put it into a greased casserole & top with the remaining cup of grated cheese.  Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the cheese is melted & bubbling.

Garnish with cheese or herbs & serve!

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Vegan Creamy & Healthy Roasted Red Pepper Pasta with 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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This one is easy & healthier than you might guess – because both the pasta & the sauce are chock full of cauliflower.  No cream is used & you can control the ratio of pasta to cauliflower to suit your tastes & needs but the cauliflower in the sauce is a great way to get extra veggies into your kids.

I used fresh roasted red bell peppers but you can used jarred.  It is not difficult to roast them.

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Fresh Roasted Red Bell Peppers

Ingredients

Red bell peppers

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DIRECTIONS

Roast on a grill or on the burners of your stove (or in the over at 500 degrees for 30-40 minutes) – turning often until completely black on all sides.  Wrap in foil & allow to sweat a few minutes.  Under cold running water – slide the skin off the peppers & remove the stem & seeds.  Done!

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Vegan Creamy & Healthy Roasted Red Pepper Pasta with Cauliflower

Feeds 4

INGREDIENTS

Olive oil

1 large head cauliflower – cut into florets

3-5 red bell peppers (The more you use the stronger the flavor & brighter the color.  I used 3 in this.) – roasted & peeled as described above OR an equivalent jarred roasted peppers.

1 large leek – sliced & washed (or onion or shallots) – pat them dry to avoid splattering the oil

1-6 cloves garlic (to taste) – chopped

1 – 1 1/2 cups non-dairy milk (I used unsweetened almond milk)

1/4 – 1/2 cup fresh basil (plus extra for garnish)

Crushed red pepper to taste

S&P

1-2 TBS nutritional yeast (optional)

1/4 cup vegan Parmesan

12 oz pasta

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DIRECTIONS

Cook the pasta, drain & set aside.

Meanwhile, boil the cauliflower 5-7 minutes – until soft.  Drain & set aside.

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In a very large saute pan, heat about 1 TBS olive oil & saute the leeks until soft.  Add crushed red pepper & garlic and saute another minute.

Put the leeks, about 1/2 the cauliflower florets, roasted red peppers, nutritional yeast, vegan Parmesan, fresh basil and s&p (to taste) into a blender or food processor.  Puree adding as much milk as you need to get the sauce to a consistency you like.

Return the sauce to the pan & add pasta & remaining cauliflower.  Heat through & season to taste.  Serve with basil as garnish.

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Eggplant Parmesan Casserole with Cauliflower Rice (Vegetarian or Vegan)

2 Comments

 

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 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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Photo from The Iron You.

The photo just above is from the wonderful blog – The Iron You.  It is their Eggplant Parm Rice Casserole and it is that recipe that inspired mine here.  There are a few subtle changes but the primary difference is that I used cauliflower rice rather than real rice.  That way – this dish is very light & nearly guiltless.  Is is very easy to make & comes together in less than 45-60 minutes – 30 of which are in the oven.  It is a surprisingly tasty recipe & chock full of fresh vegetables.  Use vegan cheeses, if you prefer.  There are enough flavors at play here that I think this dish would work very well vegan-style.

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Eggplant Parmesan Casserole with Cauliflower Rice (Vegetarian or Vegan)

Serves 8

INGREDIENTS

1 large head of cauliflower

2 eggplants – cut into 1/4 inch slices

Olive oil

1 cup basil – chopped

2 large shallots (or one small onion) – diced

2 cups cherry tomatoes – quartered

2-3 cups grated mozzarella (or vegan alternative) – according to your preference (I used 3 cups)

1-2 cups grated Parmesan (or vegan alternative) – according to your preference (I used 2 cups real Parmesan – I would have used less of a vegan Parm)

S&P

1 TBS oregano

1 TBS crushed red pepper (optional)

1 cup vegetable stock

Parsley or basil – chopped as garnish

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DIRECTIONS

If you have a grill or grill pan, spray some olive oil on the eggplant (or toss them in a light coating of olive oil or dressing) & grill on each side until a bit charred & soft.  Set aside.

If you do not have a grill or grill pan – follow Iron You’s oven method directions:  Preheat oven to 400°F  and place a rack in the middle. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and grease them with vegetable oil. Set aside.
Fill a large bowl with cold water, add 1 teaspoon of salt and stir until it dissolves completely.
Add eggplant slices and let them sit for at least 20 minutes to draw out the bitterness.  Fish the eggplant slices out of the water, pat them dry, and arrange them on a single layer on prepared baking sheets. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes, or until the slices turn deep brown on top.
Remove the slices from the baking sheets and carefully transfer them on a plate to cool.

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Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.

Cut the florets from the cauliflower & either grate them on a box grater or using the grater of your food processor (the FAR neater way to go).  Set aside.

Toss the tomatoes with basil, a pinch or S&P & the oregano & set aside.

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Heat a TBS or so of olive oil in a large frying pan (large enough to hold all the cauliflower rice) & saute the shallots or onion until soft.  Add crushed red pepper (if using) and the cauliflower rice & the stock.  Over high heat – saute until the cauliflower is soft & the bulk of the stock has evaporated.  Stir in the tomato & basil mix.

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Grease a casserole pan (I used cooking spray) and layer 1/3 of the rice on the bottom.  Top with half the eggplant and 1/3 of the cheese.  Add another 1/3 of the rice, remaining eggplant and 1/3 of the cheese.  Top with a final layer of rice & cheese.

Bake for 20-30 minutes or until the cheese is melted & bubbly or browned.

Let sit for 10 minutes & then serve with parsley or basil.

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Hearty & Spicy Vegan Eggplant & Mushroom Bolognese Pasta Sauce

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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 had a fridge chock full of produce & not enough days of cooking before me to get through it all without a lot of it going bad – so – I made this very thick & hearty tomato sauce.  It is a great way to use a ton of veggies & clean out that fridge.  Additionally – if you puree it or use an immersion blender – you can hide the veggies from kids & other finicky palates.

I grilled the eggplant first – to add a smokey flavor – but this is not necessary.  I used kale & collard greens – because I had them – but they are totally optional – or you could use spinach, instead.  You can eliminate a lot of the ingredients without a negative impact on this sauce so feel free to customize it.

I had a bunch of sage that I had frozen.  It worked really well in this sauce – so – if you have herbs that are going to spoil, put them in sandwich bags & freeze them for use in future sauces.

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Hearty & Spicy Vegan Eggplant & Mushroom Bolognese Pasta Sauce

Makes a boatload – so either serve a large group or freeze some

INGREDIENTS

9 oz vegan beef crumbles (I used Beyond Meat)

Olive oil

7 Japanese eggplants (or 3 large regular eggplants)

2 onions – diced

2 bell peppers – diced

2 large zucchini – chopped

4 jalapenos – diced (optional)

1 bunch kale – (optional) ribs removed, washed & chopped (or spinach)

1 bunch collard greens – (optional) ribs removed, washed & chopped fine (or spinach)

8 oz mushrooms – sliced

1/4 cup fresh sage – chopped

1-6 garlic cloves – chopped

1/2 cup tomato paste (1 small can)

3 (26 oz) containers of chopped & strained tomatoes – in any combination (I used 2 strained & 1 chopped)

1/4 cup vegan Parmesan (very, very optional)

1 TBS salt

1-3 tsp crushed red pepper (according to your tolerance for heat)

1 TBS dry parsley

1 TBS oregano

1 TBS thyme (I used fresh chopped)

1/2 cup fresh basil – chopped

GARNISH – Cooked pasta, fresh chopped parsley or basil

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DIRECTIONS

If you are grilling the eggplant – slice them & either spray them with cooking spray or brush them with olive oil & then grill them on both sides.  Set aside to cool – then chop.  Set aside.

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Heat 2-3 TBS olive oil in a large stock pot.  Add onions & bell peppers & jalapenos.  Saute until softened.

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Add the zucchini & mushrooms & saute until tender.  Stir in the chopped eggplant.

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Add the greens you are using & fold in so they wilt.  Add the garlic & cook for a minute or two.

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Add all the other ingredients – EXCEPT the beef crumbles.   Bring to a boil & then reduce the heat & simmer for about 30 minutes.  If it gets too thick, add water.

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Now – if you are going to puree the sauce or use an immersion blender – now is the time.   Whatever you decide – pureed or not – add the beefy crumbles & heat through.

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Season with S&P.

Toss some of the sauce with cooked pasta.  You will have a lot of sauce left over – unless you are feeding a very large group.  Garnish with basil and/or parsley.

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Vegan Cabbage Rolls Stuffed with Grilled Eggplant, Mushrooms & Spinach

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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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Everybody has had stuffed cabbage but, typically, it is stuffed with a mix of meat & rice.  This recipe uses neither – though you could add some – if you wanted to.  This recipe is more rustic & lighter.   No carbs.  No animal products.  Just loads of veggies & sauce!   I had grilled eggplant in the fridge – leftover from a night of Grilled & Baked Eggplant Pizza Towers with Fresh Mozzarella & Basil Chiffonade – seen below.

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If you have a grill pan or a grill where you can easily grill the eggplant – I recommend it because it adds a smokey char to the dish that is lovely – though not necessary.  If grilling the eggplant first sounds like a pain in the ass – blow it off & just cut your eggplant into small cubes

Grilled Eggplant

INGREDIENTS

1 eggplant – sliced into rounds

Olive oil or some kind of oil & vinegar salad dressing

DIRECTIONS

Dredge the eggplant through the olive oil or dressing & grill (either on a grill or in a grill pan) –  just to get some grill marks on them & cook out some moisture.  I did it on the grill & it took about 5-7 minutes – flipping the slices occasionally.  You can do this on your burners on the stove or in a grill pan or on a real grill – with or without oiling the slices.

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UPDATE – after eating this for lunch – at dinner – I wanted something more substantial.  So – I added a bag of Beyond Meat crumbles & some grated cheese to the top before I reheated these guys.  AMAZING!

Vegan Cabbage Rolls Stuffed with Grilled Eggplant, Mushrooms & Spinach

Serves 4 very well

INGREDIENTS

1 head cabbage (I used Napa but any kind will work

Olive oil

1 eggplant – either grilled as outlined above or not – and, either way, cubed

1/2 lb mushrooms – sliced or chopped

2 tomatoes – diced

1 onion – diced

2 stalks green garlic or 1-4 garlic cloves – chopped

2+ cups fresh spinach

1 TBS dry parsley

1 TBS dry oregano

Crushed red pepper (to taste)

S&P

2-3 cups pasta sauce (homemade or jarred)

Fresh basil as garnish

OPTION – vegan or fresh mozzarella baked on top of these might be nice.  I opted not to use any – in an effort to keep these very healthy – but I bet it would compliment this dish nicely.  Additionally – adding some faux beef crumbles on top or underneath the rolls makes this dish more substantial.

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Boil a large pot of water – deep enough for the head of cabbage.  Remove the cabbage core & drop the head into boiling water – whole.  With tongs – pluck out each leaf as it becomes tender & plunge into a bowl of ice water.

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Heat 1-2 TBS olive oil in a large saute pan.   Add the onions, mushrooms, tomatoes & eggplant.  Saute until the vegetables get tender.  Add garlic & spinach & stir until the spinach wilts.  Add the oregano, parsley, S&P and crushed red pepper to taste.  Remove from heat.

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Spread about 1 cup of sauce on the bottom of a casserole pan.  Place a cabbage leaf on a kitchen towel & scoop a few TBS of filling into it & roll it up.  I did not really bother with the ends but if you are good at making closed ends – knock yourself out.  Place in the casserole pan – seam-side down.  Continue until all the filling is used up.  Season the rolls with S&P.

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Top with sauce – as much as suits your taste.  You might want t reserve some to add – warmed – to the finished rolls.  Bake for about 40 minutes.   Serve with additional warm sauce – if you like – and some fresh basil.

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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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Chef’d & Beyond Meat Smash-Up – Part 1 – Vegan Beast Burger & Cucumber Dill 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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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.

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.  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 & will post about the burger here – and the tacos in another post HERE.
Here is what showed up (for the burgers):
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The box included everything I needed to make 4 Beast Burgers & the Cucumber Dill Salad.  I take childlike delight in tiny condiment bottles – to the degree that I didn’t want to open these & used some existing condiments I had.  So goofy.
Anyway – everything is outlined very clearly & the ingredients are pre-measured so – no measuring & no extra ingredients to leave around, unused, forever.
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The Cucumber Dill Salad came together in five minutes & was tangy & crisp & light.
And – no surprise – the Beast Burger was huge & meaty & delicious!  I have had many Beyond Meat burgers in the past but – it was nice to have all the things I needed right there – including just 4 buns for the 4 burgers.  My freezer is jammed with freezer-burned buns that I stuck in there after buying a whole bag but only wanting one burger.
Assembled – the burger really is a beast & just as messy as any burger ad you see on TV – in the best possible way.   I feel like this is a great choice for a family of four on a night when there is minimal time to get dinner together – OR – to bring to a meat-eaters BBQ.  With this meal plan – you can walk into a BBQ with everything you need to provide 4 vegans/vegetarians with something as tempting as anything else likely to be served there – no fuss & no waste.
Be sure to check out their TACO dinner (seen below) HERE.
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VEGAN10.2 Label

Grilled & Baked Eggplant Pizza Towers with Fresh Mozzarella & Basil Chiffonade – A CONTEST! – and Downtown Los Angeles!

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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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Uh-oh!  Wouldya look at that!  The AMAZING make-up company, Too Faced, has selected my book to give away in the summer essentials giveaway!  All you gotta do is go on Instagram, follow me at @christineelisemccarthy and then navigate to @TooFaced on Instagram, find this image on their wall & follow the rules to enter.  DO NOT enter on MY Instagram page.  Only entries on the Too Faced page will be considered.  A signed copy of my book, a bikini & Too Faced’s ENTIRE summer line!  CRAZY!  And the contest ends tomorrow (June 23, 2015), winner announced June 24, 2015 – so enter NOW!  And remember – go follow me on Instagram, then go follow Too Faced there & enter through their page.  Good luck!

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So – I had jury duty today.  That is the hallway at the court.  Everyone dreads jury duty but I work freelance & literally cannot afford to miss a day of work – let alone a week.  So – I had to miss work today to go down & asked to be rescheduled – which just means that, if I am working in December – I lose at least another day’s pay.  Such a fucked system.  But, anyway – they let me out at noon so I decided to make the best of being downtown & met my friend Rose for lunch at Grand Central Market.  Here is what that LA wonder looks like:

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Pizza was SUPER thin & delightful but it was so friggin’ hot out – neither Rose nor I could eat more than half of the tiny 8″ pizzas.  So – I have some for later!  🙂

Across the street to the west from Grand Central Market is another LA landmark – Angel’s Flight.  It is not currently in service, however.

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Even more interesting – across the street to the east is the Bradbury Building – most famous as a location in Bladerunner.  Look how incredibly gorgeous it is!

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6-22-15 (67)  CLICK THIS PANORAMIC ONE TO BLOW IT UP.

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And there you have it!  My downtown Los Angeles adventure today & a chance to win lots of make-up & a bikini & a signed copy of my book!

The recipe next.  It isn’t really a recipe.  It is an idea & I have been talking about it a lot lately & eating it even more frequently.  These eggplant pizza towers.  Not really pizza but born of my wanting a tortilla pizza but without tortillas.

I slice up & eat an entire small eggplant alone but quantities of everything really depends on how many you are feeding, how hungry they are & then personal taste as to the sauce-cheese ratio.  So – an informal recipe will follow.  Also – these would be nice served on top of pasta tossed with a red sauce.  I cannot recommend Rao’s highly enough.

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Grilled & Baked Eggplant Pizza Towers with Fresh Mozzarella & Basil Chiffonade 

INGREDIENTS

About 1 eggplant per person – sliced about 1/4-1/2 inch thick & lightly salted

Fresh mozzarella – enough to put a few slices on top of each slice of eggplant

Red sauce of your choice

Fresh basil

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

I grilled the slices on my stove top grill first to char them a bit.  Just to get some grill marks on them & cook out some moisture.  I did it on the grill dry & it took about 5-7 minutes – flipping the slices occasionally.  You can do this on your burners on the stove or in a grill pan or on a real grill – with or without oiling the slices.

OR – you can opt to bake the slices naked for 15-20 minutes to get them less thick & mushy.

Whatever you do – cook out some moisture & try to grill a little flavor onto the slices.

Top with sauce & cheese – quantities up to you.

Bake at 350 on a cooking sheet topped with parchment paper (THE BEST – nothing sticks) or treated with cooking spray or olive oil.  Assemble each eggplant slice with sauce & cheese & cook them in a single layer – stacking them into towers when you put them on the plate.

Meanwhile – to make the basil chiffonade – simply stack several leaves of basil, roll them into a tube & slice the tube up.  Voila!

It should take 10-15 minutes for the cheese to melt & begin to turn golden but all ovens are different so eyeball it & take them out when they look good to you.

Stack your little eggplant pizzas & garnish with basil.  Yum!

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Vegan Chicken, Lemon & Thyme Pasta with Grilled Zucchini & Maitake 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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Get your Beyond Meat coupons HERE.

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Look at those cool wine corks!!

OK – I have a bit of a confession to make.  I cook all the time & make fancy recipes & get delivery of fresh produce from Farm Fresh to You and I spend a fortune on groceries – but when I get home from work – all I EVER want to eat is a tortilla pizza.  So incredibly lame.  Made stove-top so the tortilla invariably blackens before the cheese is fully melted.  I give absolutely zero fucks.  I just make two or three of these charred fuckers & shove them into my face, swilling wine & watching Luther.  Don’t believe me?  Here is my dinner for each night last week:

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When Farm Fresh to You delivered an eggplant to me – I took a rare break from the tortillas & made an eggplant pizza tower.  That is grilled eggplant with Rao’s Arrabbiata sauce (best jarred sauce on the market) on it & fresh mozzarella – baked at about 350 until the cheese melts (10-15 minutes) & topped with fresh basil.  I recommend those eggplant towers with unbridled enthusiasm.  I bought 5 eggplants today & I intend to eat those every night this week.

But my fresh produce box also held a few zucchinis.  One night, I sliced them up, dredged them in Italian dressing & grilled them.  I then promptly stored them in the fridge & made a tortilla pizza.  Then – something awesome happened.  I had the idea to top a tortilla pizza with chopped, grilled zucchini & fresh thyme & it was a revelation!

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I have eaten thyme hundreds of times but that tortilla pizza with the subtle flavors of the zucchini & the fresh mozzarella really set the thyme off nicely & I fell a little in love with thyme.

Armed with additional grilled zucchini, fresh thyme & this crazy maitake mushroom (also in my Farm Fresh to You box) – I decided to make a pasta dish – and my Vegan Chicken, Lemon & Thyme Pasta with Grilled Zucchini & Maitake Mushrooms was born.  No single flavor is crucial here so – if you hate mushrooms or zucchini or whatever – leave it out.  It is more about the lemon & thyme.  Light & clean & vegan – this is an easy & delicious dish.

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Vegan Chicken, Lemon & Thyme Pasta with Grilled Zucchini & Maitake Mushrooms

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS

1/2 lb pasta

9 oz Beyond Meat chicken – cubed or left whole

Olive oil

1 cup chopped mushrooms – any variety will do – except maybe portobello as they turn dark & might be overpowering & not as pretty

1 zucchini – sliced, dipped in an oil-based dressing & grilled – or simply chopped raw

4 garlic cloves – chopped

Zest of one lemon (save wedges for garnish)

1-2 TBS Fresh thyme (more or less – to taste) – removed from stems

S&P

Garnish – more thyme, pepper, lemon wedges

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DIRECTIONS

Cook the pasta as directed.

Meanwhile – grill the zucchini – if you are doing that step.  If not, just cut the zucchini up.

Heat 1-2 TBS olive oil in a large saute pan.  Add the mushrooms & zucchini & vegan chicken.  Saute until the veggies soften.  Add the lemon zest, garlic & thyme & stir to combine – for about a minute.  Season with salt & pepper.

Drain the pasta & add it to the chicken & veggies & stir to combine.

Serve with more thyme, fresh cracked pepper & the lemon wedges.

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