Easy Vegan Thai Sweet Basil & Coconut Lentils

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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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Lentils are cheap, versatile, comforting & good for you.   These can be made thick & served over a grain (like Basmati rice) or made a bit thinner & served as a soup.  They freeze well, too, so why not make a fuckton – like I did – and freeze a bunch for lazy days in the future?

I used sweet basil from Bangluck Thai market in Hollywood but hot basil or regular basil will do.  Were I to make this again – I would double the basil quantity.  I used a small amount of coconut milk in this so keep it lighter & less fattening but more coconut milk would make this creamier & yummier.  I also used a combination of lentils & dal & mung beans – seen below.  You can use all one kind or any combo you have handy.

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Easy Vegan Thai Sweet Basil & Coconut Lentils

Makes a large pot full

INGREDIENTS

Coconut oil

5 cups lentils (or dal or mung beans)

1 onion – diced

2 jalapenos – chopped (optional)

1-8 garlic cloves (to taste) – minced

1-2 TBS minced ginger

5 ounces (or more) coconut milk (a 15 oz can would not be too much – I just kept it light)

2 TBS rice vinegar

6 TBS liquid aminos (or soy sauce or tamari)

8 or more cups vegetable stock

1-2 cups fresh basil

GARNISH – cooked rice & more basil

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DIRECTIONS

Melt 1 or more TBS of coconut oil (or other cooking oil) in a large stock pot.  Add the onions & jalapenos & saute until soft.  Stir in the garlic & ginger for a minute & then add everything else – (except the fresh basil) – starting with only about 6 cups of the stock.  Bring to a boil & reduced heat to low.  Cover & simmer for 30-60 minutes or until your lentils are soft.  I used & immersion blender & mashed about 25% of the lentils.  Not necessary.  Add more stock for a thinner dish or a soup.  Heat it down if it is too thin.

Stir in the fresh basil & serve with additional basil as garnish.  Serve as it is or over cooked rice.

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Vegan Creamy Roasted Red Pepper & Sweet Potato Soup with Coconut-Ginger Cream, Pistachios & Pomegranate Seeds

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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 might – honestly – be the most delicious soup I have ever made and it is as easy as can be.  If you have a blender, food processor or immersion blender – you can wow the fuck out of your friends with this glorious, autumnal, light & healthy, rich & creamy soup!  I used all the random veggies that I had wilting in my vegetable bins.  You can add or subtract ingredients but I gotta say – this baby is kinda perfect!  Very little added oil & chock full of veggie nutrients.  The Coconut- ginger cream is certainly optional but it adds a nice level.  The pistachios & pomegranate were for texture & color – but they can go with little impact on this soup.  If you are not vegan – stirring in a little goat cheese might be a nice touch.

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Vegan Creamy Roasted Red Pepper & Sweet Potato Soup with Coconut-Ginger Cream, Pistachios & Pomegranate Seeds

Serves 4 very well

INGREDIENTS

3 medium sweet potatoes – sliced into 1/2-inch rounds

3 bell peppers – halved & seeded

1/2 onion (or a leek or some shallots) – peeled & cut in half

10 small carrots – ends trimmed

1 jalapeno (optional)

1 TBS fresh lemon juice (optional)

2 garlic cloves

1 tsp red (or other) curry powder (or curry paste)

1 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 to 1 tsp cayenne

Several fresh thyme sprigs (or 1/2 tsp dry thyme)

4 cups vegetable stock

olive oil (or coconut or other oil)

S&P

Garnish – pistachios and pomegranate seeds (optional)

for the coconut-ginger cream

5.5 ounces coconut milk

1-3 TBS minced ginger (I used a squeezable kind) – or to taste

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 450 degrees.

Toss the vegetables in a bit of olive oil & spread in a single layer on cooking sheets (covered with either foil sprayed with cooking spray or parchment paper).  Salt & pepper liberally.  Cook for about 30+ minutes or until the veggies are soft.  Some might need to come out earlier than others.  I cooked an extra sweet potato to put in my dogs’ food tonight.  They LOVE sweet potatoes.  The bell peppers should blacken a little bit.  When the peppers are done – either put them in a tightly-closed container or wrap them in foil to cool a bit.  This will make them sweat & the skins should peel off nicely under running water.  Do not worry if all the skin does not come off.

Meanwhile – combine the coconut milk & ginger – adding ginger in increments – until it tastes good to you.  Set aside.

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Once you can handle the veggies (not the sweet potatoes) – chop them a little bit.  Seed the jalapeno to make it less spicy.  I used the seeds.

Heat a little olive oil in a large stock pot & add the chopped veggies & sweet potato and garlic.  Stir to combine & then add stock & spices.  Squeeze in about a TBS lemon juice.  Bring to a boil & turn off heat.

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Puree the soup in batches or with an immersion blender.  I added about 1-2 cups of water to thin it enough to puree in the blender.  Season with S&P.

Serve garnished with coconut-ginger cream, pistachios & pomegranate seeds.

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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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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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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

INGREDIENTS

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

S&P

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

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DIRECTIONS

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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Fried Sage and Mushroom Cream Pasta Sauce with Orecchiette

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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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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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First of all – I want to point out some new eggs I found.  I am not vegan – though I wish I were & will likely be one day – but until then, I feel real guilt whenever I buy cheese and especially when I buy eggs.  Free-range is a bullshit fraud.   Watch THIS video (sad but not graphic) of a bunch of free-range hens being released to a sanctuary & tell me that you think they led happy lives.   They clearly did not.

So, I have been buying pastured eggs & paying about a dollar each for them.  That is OK – because I don’t eat a lot of eggs & I am happy to have my money support genuinely humane farming practices.  So – imagine my delight when I saw this brand of eggs selling for about $6 a dozen.

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Vital Farms even includes the above little flyer explaining the lives of their ladies.  I love that they call them ladies.  Anyway – assuming they are not pulling off some elaborate hoax – these guys seem to be a good source for eggs that come from happy chickens.  I got mine at a local Ralph’s but their site lists other venders.  Look for one near you!

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Ok – onto this pasta.  A Facebook friend requested it & I could not believe I had not already posted the recipe.  This dish is an old regular of mine from 25 years ago & there is a funny story that goes with it.  I used to make it all the time at home & for company & many of my friends had asked for the recipe.  One day, my then boyfriend & I were served a mushroom cream pasta dish at my friend Angie’s.  My boyfriend took one taste & looked at me and said, “Babe!  This is amazing!  You have to ask for her recipe!”

Yeah.  Well – it WAS my recipe.  The only difference was that she added salt to hers & I was still brainwashed into thinking using salt was a capital sin.   I learned that lesson well that day & now I consider salt a genuine ingredient in most things – not just a forgettable & optional seasoning.  There are all kinds of fancy salts widely available now, too, and some even have healthy benefits.  Pink Himalayan salt, for example, boasts these benefits:

(from http://fitlife.tv/10-amazing-benefits-of-pink-himalayan-salt/)

  • Create an electrolyte balance
  • Increases hydration
  • Regulate water content both inside and outside of cells
  • Balance pH (alkaline/acidity) and help to reduce acid reflux
  • Prevent muscle cramping
  • Aid in proper metabolism functioning
  • Strengthen bones
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Help the intestines absorb nutrients
  • Prevent goiters
  • Improve circulation
  • Dissolve and eliminate sediment to remove toxins

 

So, yeah – use salt.   Salt is not just a flavor unto itself.  It also brings out & enhances other flavors.  Trust me.  Too much is awful but just the right amount is magic.

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Fried Sage and Mushroom Cream Pasta Sauce with Orecchiette

Feeds 2 very well

INGREDIENTS

1/2 pound pasta cooked according to package instructions

Olive oil

10 or more fresh sage leaves

1 lb mushrooms (of nearly any variety or mix) – sliced

2 shallots – chopped

3 garlic cloves – chopped

1 cup heavy cream (more if you want a heavier cream sauce) – or vegan alternative

1/4 cup grated Parmesan – (more if you want a heavier cream sauce) – or vegan alternative

Salt & pepper to taste

Parsley – chopped as garnish (it adds a lot of flavor!)

Extra Parmesan for garnish

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DIRECTIONS

Cook the pasta.  Reserve about a cup of the pasta water (in case you need it to thin your sauce later) & drain the pasta.

Heat 1-2 TBS olive oil over med-high heat & fry the sage a few minutes.  It need not brown.  Drain on paper towels.

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Add the mushrooms & about a tsp of salt & raise the heat to high.  The salt will help the mushrooms release their moisture.  Stir the mushrooms occasionally – letting them get seared.  When they are nice & brown – add about another TBS of olive oil & the shallots & garlic.  Fry for about 2 minutes & then add the cream & Parmesan.   Crumble the fried sage & add that to the sauce.  Bring to a boil & then lower to a simmer.  It should thicken very quickly.  Use more cream & cheese if you want a pasta with more sauce.  Add some pasta water if it gets too thick.   When it is the consistency of a heavy cream sauce – season to taste with salt & pepper.  Add the pasta, stir to combine & serve it up.  Garnish liberally with chopped parsley & maybe more Parmesan.

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Healthy Spicy Vegan Red Beans and Rice

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2014

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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OK – I decided I had to make these for two reasons.  1) Sir Mix-a-lot & his Baby Got Back song.  Is there EVER a time when this song doesn’t sound great?  For a novelty-sounding song – it really holds up over time.  Anyway – one line is “Red beans & rice didn’t miss her.”   While that makes it sound like red beans & rice give you a huge ass – this recipe is clean & healthy.  I hear this song at the gym rather frequently & it always makes me crave red beans & rice.

2) It has been hot as FUCK this week and these can be made stove-top (or in a crock pot) – minimizing the heat added to my already sweltering kitchen.

I am sitting at my desk in my un-air-conditioned office (the hottest room in my house) – I will simply show what it was like outside before 10AM today:

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Yes.  That says 100 degrees at 9:58 am.  UGH!!!!!!!!

So – I will keep this brief & slink down to my kitchen – the coolest room in my house – for the remainder of the day.

One note – I used two kinds of veggie sausage here but I am not 100% certain either is vegan (though I think they are).  Just check the brand you use to be sure – assuming you are vegan.

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Also – I browned the two Field Roast links you see there before adding the other ingredients & that was sort of a waste of time because they just got sort of soggy after the stock was added.  So – I browned additional sausage:

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and set it aside & just added it at the end – sort of like a garnish.  That way, it retained it seared qualities.  You can do this – or not – your call.  Combined – the two varieties of sausage made this a “meatier” dish than it need be but those fake sausages are yummy – so fuck it.  I did add a couple of zucchinis to lighten the beans up a bit.

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QUICK SOAK METHOD

Presoaking beans overnight not only cuts down on cooking time by up to 25 percent, it also helps the beans cook evenly without splitting. It’s easy, too (if you remember to do it). Still, we prefer the “power soak” method. Not only is it faster than soaking beans overnight, it also breaks down more of the complex sugars that can make beans hard to digest. The process is simple: Place beans in a pot and cover with water by three inches. Bring to a boil and simmer briskly for two minutes. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand for one hour. Drain. Your beans will be ready to use in your favorite recipes.–Kay Chun

Healthy Spicy Vegan Red Beans and Rice

Feeds a lot – 6 or more

INGREDIENTS

Cooked rice ( I used brown basmati)

1 lb dry small red beans (soaked overnight or quick-soaked as outlined above) – try to use small red but kidney will do in a pinch

Olive oil

4 celery stalks – chopped

1-3 chipotle peppers in adobo (I used 3 & these beans were SPICY!) – minced

1/2 large onion – diced

2 zucchinis – cubed (optional)

1-2 jalapeno peppers – seeded & diced (I used two)

4 garlic cloves – minced

1 bell pepper – diced (traditional in the dish – but I didn’t have one & I didn’t miss it)

2 tsp dry thyme

3 bay leaves

1 TBS dry rub (I used that Road Kill stuff above but any rub you like will do)

1-3 tsp Creole seasoning (I used Zatarain’s)

Vegan sausage (I ended up using 6!) – in a quantity you feel suits your taste – sliced

5+ cups vegetable stock

Scallions for garnish

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DIRECTIONS

Quick-soak the beans if you did not soak them overnight (instructions are above).  The soaking helps to stop the gas beans are famous for giving us.

As I explained above, you might want to brown your sausage & set it aside – and add it at the very end – so it retains its texture better.  If texture doesn’t matter to you – just add it with the onions.  Or – divvy it up & do a little of both – as I ended up doing.

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Cook your rice.

Heat 2-3 TBS olive oil in a LARGE stock pot & saute the sausage until browned & either set it aside or just continue.   Some vegan sausage is pretty dry & you might need more olive oil.  Add onions, celery, bell pepper (if using), jalapeno & saute til softened a bit.  Again – add more olive oil if you think it is getting too dry.  Add chipotle, zucchini, dry rub, thyme, Creole seasoning, bay leaves & garlic & stir to incorporate & then add the red beans & 5 cups of stock.

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Then bring this all to a boil.  Lower the heat & cover & simmer for 2 hours or so – or until the beans are tender.  Stir every once in a while & add water if it gets too thick.  I added 1-2 cups of water by the time it was all said & done.  At some point – when the beans are soft – smash a cup or two with a wooden spoon against the pot – or (as I did) – drop an immersion blender in there & mash a cup or two – so there is a thick broth.

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When you are ready to serve, put some rice on each plate, add the red beans & garnish with sausage (if you set some aside) & chopped scallions.  A cold beer or two – and you are good to go!

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Healthy Vegan Chicken Fricassee with Tarragon

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2014

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 another easy one & It could probably even be made in a slow cooker.  I browned the vegan chicken – really just for texture – so it isn’t totally necessary.   Beyond that – you kinda just throw everything together.  This makes enough for two easily – maybe even four if you served it over rice or noodles of mashed potato – or even mashed cauliflower.

This dish is flavorful but a rare NON-spicy dish for me.  Apparently, Abraham Lincoln was a very finicky eater but this was one of his favorite dishes – so it is obviously an old classic.   Lots of recipes call for heavy cream but I lightened this up by using a mixture of my light (homemade) almond milk & cornstarch.   The result is a dish that tastes like the filling for a pot pie – just without a crust.  Mild & comforting!

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Vegan Chicken Fricassee with Tarragon

Serves 2 – more if you add rice or noodles or another starchy base

INGREDIENTS

9 oz vegan chicken

1/4 cup flour with maybe 1/2 tsp each of salt & pepper mixed in

3 shallots (or 1/2 onion) – minced

3 carrots – sliced

10-20 pearl onions – fresh or frozen

4 oz mushrooms – quartered

2 celery stalks – sliced

Olive oil

Several sprigs fresh tarragon

1/2 cup dry white wine

2-3 cups vegetable stock

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1/4 cup almond (or other) milk

2 tsp cornstarch

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DIRECTIONS

If using fresh pearl onion – drop them into boiling water for 3 minutes.  Drain & cool & then cot the hard end off & squeeze the onions out the end.  Set aside.

Mix the flour with S&P & coat the vegan chicken.  I did this right in the bag the chicken came in.

Heat 2-3 TBS olive oil over medium heat & saute the chicken until it browns.  Set aside.

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If you need more olive oil – add a bit – and saute the shallots until soft.  Add the wine & scrape the browned bits off the bottom of the pan.  After a minute – add vegetable stock, carrots, mushrooms, celery, pearl onions, Dijon mustard & maybe 2-3 large sprigs of fresh tarragon.  Simmer for about 20 minutes & let flavors meld.

Whisk the cornstarch into the almond milk & add it to the pan.  Simmer until it thickens – maybe 5 minutes.  If it gets too thick, just add water or more veggie stock.  Add the chicken & heat through.  Carefully remove the tarragon sprigs & serve with additional chopped fresh tarragon.   Reflect upon how cool it is that you just made something Mary Todd Lincoln likely made loads of times!

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The top video there is trailer for my novel.  The second is me reading from it a while back – at Vroman’s.

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