DDD #140 – Violife Vegan Cheese Review (Sharp Cheddar, Feta & Parmesan)

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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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DDD #113 – Vegan Heirloom Tomato Tart (Pie) with Homemade Buttery Crust

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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.

I keep throwing softballs like this out there to you kids.  Softballs in that the recipe is easy & the result delicious.  When, oh when, will you trust me & try one?

This one is almost like a quiche but uses no eggs or heavy cream – and it is vegan!  I used three colors of heirloom tomatoes but any tomatoes would work, even cherry tomatoes, I suspect.

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For the pastry crust

makes two tarts

INGREDIENTS

2 1/2 cups flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp sugar

16 TBS ice cold (even frozen) vegan butter

1/4 cup or more of ice water

Heirloom Tomato Pie with Arugula, Tofu, Cream Cheese & Parmesan

makes two tarts

INGREDIENTS

Pie crust – uncooked

5-6 heirloom (or other) tomatoes – sliced thin

2 cups fresh arugula

2 cloves garlic

1 (14 oz) block firm tofu

4 oz vegan cream cheese

2 slices of your favorite flavor vegan cheese

1/4 cup vegan Parmesan – grated  (plus a bit extra for topping – optional)

S&P

Basil – as garnish

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DIRECTIONS

For the pastry crust

Put the flour, salt & sugar in a food processor.  Pulse to blend.  Then, 1 TBS at a time, pulse in the cold butter until it is all incorporated.  Add a few TBS water & pulse until little balls of dough begin to form & it falls away from the bowl of the processor.

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Remove from the bowl & press into two balls – one a tad larger than the other.  Press flat, wrap in plastic wrap & chill for about an hour.  Let it sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes before you roll it out.

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DIRECTIONS

for the Heirloom Tomato Pie with Arugula, Tofu, Cream Cheese & Parmesan

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Press the dough into a greased pie or tart pan.  A traditional pie dish is absolutely OK to use – as is a spring form pan.  Slit the crust at the bottom and par-bake it for 7 minutes.

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Put the sliced tomatoes on paper towels, salt them & press more paper towels on top.  If your tomatoes are very wet & seedy, squeeze some of the seeds out to avoid excess moisture in the pie.  You can see that I did this with my red tomatoes.

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Meanwhile, blend the tofu, cream cheese, cheese slices, vegan Parmesan, arugula & garlic in a blender or food processor.  Season with S&P.

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When the crust has baked 7 minutes, top with the cup of grated Parmesan, the tofu mix & the drained tomatoes.  Add some S&P.  Maybe sprinkle some grated vegan Parmesan on top.  Drizzle a bit of olive oil on top.

Bake for 45-60 minutes – or until the ricotta is set.  You might need to wrap the edges of your pie with foil (or one of these cool silicone things – the red thing below – that I got at Bed Bath & Beyond) to prevent the crust from over-browning.

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When the center seems set, allow this to cool for at least 15 minutes before cutting into it.  It can be eaten warm or room temperature.

Garnish with basil & eat it up!

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DDD Ep. #22 – 10-Ingredient Vegan Eggplant Parmesan Mac & Cheese

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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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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or just print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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I am reposting this recipe because there is now a DDD video to accompany it.  Please click through & subscribe to my channel.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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10-Ingredient Vegan Eggplant Parmesan Mac & Cheese

Feeds 4-6 depending on appetites

INGREDIENTS

4+ cups or so of cooked pasta

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

1 cup bread crumbs

1/4 cup nutritional yeast (or vegan Parmesan)

1 TBS dry parsley

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

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

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

2 – 3 cups unsweetened vegan milk

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

Basil or parsley (or both) – chopped for garnish

Olive oil

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Waste no time & devour it!

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Eggplant Parmesan Casserole with Cauliflower Rice (Vegetarian or Vegan)

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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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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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Vegan Pasta with Creamy Avocado & Spinach Pesto (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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This is a 5 minute recipe so – if you can boil pasta & own a blender – you can make this dish.  I had an avocado that was about a day past its prime & loads of spinach – so this was born.  I used a few serrano peppers for heat but that it totally optional.

*NOTE – I also used fresh basil that I had frozen a few weeks ago.  Worked great – so – if you are ever wanting to preserve fresh herbs so they do not go to waste – they can be frozen & then used in pestos & sauces.

Vegan Pasta with Creamy Avocado & Spinach Pesto

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

1 lb pasta – cooked as directed

1 large avocado

2 packed cups of fresh spinach

2 garlic cloves

1/4 packed cup fresh basil *See note above

2 serrano or jalapeno peppers (optional) – seeded

1/2 to 1 cup Parmesan (vegan or otherwise) – quantity to your taste

S&P to taste

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DIRECTIONS

Blend everything except the pasta in a blender or food processor.  Season with S&P & adjust anything else to suit your fancy.

Toss with warm pasta.

See?  EASY!

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Super Easy 5-Ingredient Homemade Frascatelli Pasta with Mustard Greens & Parmesan Cheese (Vegetarian or Vegan)

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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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My Farm Fresh to You delivery came today & there were mustard greens in there.  I’ve never cooked with them so I Googled them for some inspiration.  And did I find it!!!  The mustard greens in a recipe – sure.  But the revelation is the FRASCATELLI!    I had never heard of frascatelli before & I was intrigued.  It was the photo below (from Bon Appetit) that caught my eye. Looks like gnocchi.  I read more & discovered it was a 2 ingredient pasta that required no tools or resting time.  I had to try it.  Immediately!

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Incredibly, frascatelli is as easy to make as the instructions suggested & I am certain I will be making this stuff over & over again.

The process is to spread out 2 cups of semolina flour & splatter it with water.  Then scoop it up, put it in a colander & shake it around.  Tiny dumplings form & the rest of the semolina falls back to the work surface.  Repeat.  When all my flour was used up – I manually pressed some of the teensy bits into larger dumplings but that is not necessary.  And guess what?  You can cook it immediately & it is done in 30-60 SECONDS.  Yes – seconds.  You MUST try this.  It would be a great thing to make with kids.  I think they would love the process.  Here are the directions from Bon Appetit:

  • Spread semolina flour in an even layer in an 8x8x2-inch baking dish. Fill a small bowl with 1 cup water and set next to dish. Working in 4-5 batches, gather your fingertips and thumb of 1 hand together and, working quickly, dip into bowl of water, lift hand from bowl, and splatter water over semolina. Repeat several times until surface of semolina is dotted with ragged wet patches about the size of a nickel. Let stand until water is absorbed, forming individual dumplings, about 5 seconds. Using a fish spatula or slotted spoon, turn dumplings over to coat with semolina, then transfer to a sieve. Shake gently over same baking dish to remove excess semolina; transfer dumplings to a large rimmed baking sheet. Repeat with remaining semolina and water until all of the water or all of the semolina has been used (there may be some water or semolina left over).
  • Working in 3-4 batches, cook dumplings in a large pot of slowly boiling salted water (if the water is boiling too rapidly, it may break up the dumplings), gently swirling water once or twice to prevent sticking, until al dente, about 30 seconds. Using a slotted spoon, transfer frascatelli to another large rimmed baking sheet.

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Frascatelli is like a softer cavatelli or a chewier & more dense gnocchi.    Worked great with the cheese & mustard greens but a red sauce or cream sauce or anything would work with this stuff.  Just amazing!  I have no idea how frascatelli was not on my radar until today.

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5-Ingredient Homemade Frascatelli Pasta with Mustard Greens & Parmesan Cheese (Vegetarian or Vegan)

Serves 2 very well

INGREDIENTS

2 cups semolina flour

1 bunch mustard greens (or collard greens or spinach or arugula or chard) – ribs removed & chopped

2-3 TBS butter (or vegan butter or olive oil)

1-6 garlic cloves – chopped

1 cup Parmesan – vegan or otherwise (or any other cheese/vegan cheese you like blended into pasta)

OPTIONAL  – Crushed red pepper, S&P

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DIRECTIONS

Make the frascatelli & set aside.

Prep the other ingredients.

Bring a pot of salted water to a slow boil & immerse the frascatelli.  Stir so it doesn’t stick.  Scoop out a cup or two of the boiling pasta water & reserve it.  In 30-60 seconds – drain the frascatelli & set it aside.

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Heat the butter (or vegan butter or olive oil) in a large saute pan.  Add the frascatelli.  Warm it through – stirring but trying not to crush or mush the dumplings.  I added some crushed red pepper here – about 1 TBS.

Add the garlic & greens.  Stir in a little of the reserved pasta water to wilt the greens.

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Add the cheese & some more pasta water (only use as much water as you need to melt & blend the cheese).  I added a bit of salt & a bunch of pepper.

Serve with extra cheese.

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Vegan Roasted Golden Beet Risotto with Parmesan & Beet Greens Pesto

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

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

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or just print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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I love beets.  I always have.  I have discovered, however, that many folks don’t think they like them – until they have fresh ones roasted.  I have converted more than a few people from beet-haters to beet-lovers.  And why hate them?  They are really a lot like carrots – sorta earthy & sweet.  Who hates carrots?

Anyway – risotto is easy – despite its reputation.  So – though this recipe has a few steps – they are all easy & you end up with a fuckton of yummy, vegan risotto!  If you are not vegan – you could stir in some real Parmesan or – even better – some goat cheese.  If you ARE vegan – you, too, could opt to stir in a vegan creamy cheese – like cream cheese or any of the brands that make soft, spreadable vegan cheeses.  Or – go with no cheese.  Your call.

The pesto is easy & makes great use of the beet greens but you can omit it – or make it with kale or some other greens – even traditional pesto – with basil.

If I were not on a diet – I would have tossed a few chopped walnuts or pistachios on the bowls as garnish.  If you are in a “giving zero fucks” mood – toss some motherfucking nuts on there & get your chow on!  I ain’t judging!

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Vegan Creamy Golden Beet Risotto with Parmesan & Beet Greens Pesto

Serves 4-6

INGREDIENTS

for the beet greens pesto (this makes way more than you will likely use on this dish but you can freeze it or put in on pizza, toss it with pasta or use it as a sandwich spread)

Tops to several beets (I used the tops to about 6 beets – both red & golden) – washed VERY, very well & stems trimmed off

Several kale leaves (only because I had them – so this is easy to omit – if you want to) – ribs removed

2-6 garlic cloves (according to your taste for garlic)

1/2 cup nuts (I used raw almonds but walnuts, pecans, pistachios or pine nuts will work)

1/4 cup oil

1/2 cup water (more or less)

1/4 cup vegan Parmesan (or a TBS or 2 of nutritional yeast)

S&P

for the golden beet risotto

4-6 large beets (I had 3 large golden beets & 3 small red ones) – I like a lot of veggies in my risotto to lower the carb hit

3 TBS coconut oil or olive oil

4 garlic cloves (less if you are not a big garlic fan)

1 onion – diced

2 cups Arborio (risotto) rice

1 cup dry white wine (optional – use more stock if you don’t want to use wine)

8 cups vegetable stock

1/4 cup (or more) vegan Parmesan (or other cheese – as you prefer)

S&P

Garnish – more cheese, parsley and maybe some chopped nuts (like pistachios or walnuts) – and maybe some chopped or sliced roasted beets

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DIRECTIONS

for the pesto

WASH THE GREENS WELL!  Beets greens are usually very gritty.  In a food processor, pulse the nuts & garlic & cheese until blended.  Pulse in the greens & kale & oil & then only add as much water as you need to get it to the pesto texture you prefer.  I went drier than usual with this because I wanted it to sit on the risotto without blending – just so I could photograph it.  You can go wetter – if you prefer.  Season with S&P.  Set aside.

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For the Vegan Roasted Golden Beet Risotto with Parmesan

Heat the oven to 450-500 degrees.

Wrap the beets in foil.  If you are using two colors – wrap them separately or the red ones will dye the golden ones.

Cook for about an hour or until they are tender.  Allow them to cool & then rub the skin & rough parts off under running water.  Use a knife to get any stubborn places.  Dice or slice them – reserving a bit for garnish later.  This can be done a day or two in advance – just store them in the fridge.

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Bring the vegetable stock to a boil & reduce to a simmer.

Heat the oil & saute the onions until translucent.  Add the rice & stir so all the rice is coated in oil.  Add a bit more, if you need to.  Cook for about 3 minutes or until the edges of the rice start to look translucent.  Add the garlic & stir for 1 minute.  Add the wine (or one cup of stock) and cook until it is absorbed.  Add the beets (reserving some for garnish) and combine.  Now – over medium heat & stirring almost constantly, add the stock one cup at a time – allowing to to get absorbed each time.  I like my risotto a little wetter but this is a personal preference.  Cook until the rice is just tender – NOT mushy – this may or may not take up all the stock.  Stir in any cheese you are using.  Season with S&P.  Add more stock (or water) if it gets too thick.

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Serve immediately & garnish with a dollop of beet greens pesto, more beets, parsley, more cheese & any nuts you might have decided to use.

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Vegan Three “Cheese” & Alfredo Lasagna with Power Greens (Kale, Chard & 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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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 lasagna is delicious & 100% vegan.  I made three kinds of vegan “cheese” for this.  You can make the cheeses yourself (they are all very easy) or buy vegan pre-made varieties.  I used three kinds of sauce, a cup of leftover homemade, the remnants of a jar of Rao’s marinara & a little more than a cup of Rao’s Arrabbiata – my favorite jarred sauce.  You can use all homemade or all from a jar – or mix it up – as I did.

I used red chard, kale & spinach.  You can use any combination of greens that you prefer.  I used cheddar cauliflower, because I had it, but regular cauliflower is just as good (it just has less vitamin A).  I used the sort of lasagna that needs to be cooked in advance – mainly because I noticed the no-cook kind had egg in them.  You can use your favorite vegan lasagna noodles.

I am going to post the three cheeses first.  You can choose to make any or all of them.

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Best Fast & Easy Vegan Mozzarella (above) – for Melting & Grating – recipe is HERE.

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Vegan Herbed Tofu “Ricotta”

INGREDIENTS

1 lb extra firm tofu

1 TBS olive oil

1 tsp garlic powder

1-3 TBS mixed chopped fresh herbs (I used thyme & sage)

1 tsp each salt & pepper

1 TBS dry parsley

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DIRECTIONS

Crumble the tofu & mix in the other ingredients.  Set aside.

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Vegan “Parmesan”

INGREDIENTS

1/2 cup bread crumbs (I used panko)

1/2 cup pumpkin seeds (pepita) – I used roasted & salted because I could not find raw – but raw will work, too

2 TBS nutritional yeast

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp dry thyme

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DIRECTIONS

I think it would be ideal to grind these ingredients together in a spice mill – but I don’t have one.  You might get a finer result.  I used my food processor & ran it a few minutes.  The pumpkin seeds were not totally ground – but I went with it anyway.

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Vegan Three “Cheese” & Alfredo Lasagna with Power Greens (Kale, Chard & Spinach)

Makes a standard lasagna

INGREDIENTS

1 lb lasagna noodles – cooked as directed

3 cups pasta sauce of your choice

2+ cups vegan mozzarella – grated

for the power greens

1 head kale – ribs removed & chopped

1 head chard – ribs removed & chopped

2 cups spinach

1 cup fresh basil

4 garlic cloves – minced

1/4 onion – diced

1/4 cup vegan Parmesan

Olive oil

for the alfredo

1 head cauliflower – cut into florets

1 cup vegetable stock or water

2 TBS vegan butter

5 garlic cloves – minced

3/4 cup vegan Parmesan

GARNISH – chopped basil or arugula leaves or parsley

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DIRECTIONS

Cook the pasta & drain.

for the alfredo

Boil the cauliflower (maybe even boil it in vegetable stock) until very soft.  Drain (I reserved 1 cup of the water I boiled the cauliflower in).

Melt the butter & saute the garlic for one minute.

In a blender or food processor – blend the cauliflower, stock (or water) butter & garlic, vegan Parmesan & a bit of S&P until very smooth.  Set aside.

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for the power greens

Heat a TBS or 2 in a large saute pan & heat the onion until soft.  Add the garlic & kale, chard & spinach & heat just until the greens wilt.

In a food processor (not a necessary step – but it prevents large & hard to bite pieces of greens in your lasagna that can flop, hot, out of a bite you are taking & burn you – or just make a mess) – pulse the hot greens, the basil, and 1/4 cup of the Parmesan.  Set aside.

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for the lasagna

Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

In a large lasagna pan, put about 1 cup of sauce on the bottom & then layer noodles.  The rest of the layering can be random & at your discretion – but here is the order I used.  I topped the noodles with half the “ricotta,” half the “alfredo,” then noodles, then all the greens, noodles, remaining “ricotta,” cup or more of sauce, noodles, remaining “alfredo,” noodles, remaining sauce & mozzarella.

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Bake for about 45 minutes or until well heated.  I would say “or until cheese melts,” but many vegan cheeses do not truly melt.  So – just eyeball it until you think it seems done.

I stacked two pieces on top of each other for photos & you could do this, too, for an impressive presentation.  Or not.  Your call.  Garnish with basil or arugula or parsley.  Devour!

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10-Ingredient Vegan Eggplant Parmesan Mac & Cheese

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

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

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or just print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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10-Ingredient Vegan Eggplant Parmesan Mac & Cheese

Feeds 4-6 depending on appetites

INGREDIENTS

4+ cups or so of cooked pasta

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

1 cup bread crumbs

1/4 cup nutritional yeast (or vegan Parmesan)

1 TBS dry parsley

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

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

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

2 – 3 cups unsweetened vegan milk

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

Basil or parsley (or both) – chopped for garnish

Olive oil

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Waste no time & devour it!

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CHEF’D – Vegetarian Tofu Parmigiana with Arugula 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.  And – while the meals were tasty, they were pretty labor-intensive – some taking an hour to prepare.

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.  Additionally, so far, I have found their recipes fresh & interesting but fast & easy to prepare.  Great for date night!  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 & posted about the burger HERE – and the tacos in another post HERE.  I also posted about the Fig Pizza with Arugula & Goat Cheese HERE.  They can be seen below, respectively.
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So – as you can see from that big, orange box – I am posting yet another recipe from Chef’d – their Tofu Parmigiana with Arugula Salad.  I haven’t eaten meat since the eighties and the question I get most (after, “Where do you get your protein?”) is “Do you eat a lot of tofu?”
That used to get me disproportionately cranky because it implied that the only thing vegetarians ate was tofu – and sort of excused meat eaters from examining the truth because, after all, nobody should have to live on tofu!  But – I have never been a huge tofu fan and, frankly, have never bought into the whole protein “myth.”  Most of the largest animals on Earth – from elephants to rhinos & gorillas – are primarily vegan or vegetarian – and I am pretty sure they don’t take protein supplements.  At any rate – I was never a huge fan of tofu (unless it was fried) and, therefore, had very little tofu (if any) in my diet.  Then a vegan friend requested a vegan scramble recipe – so, I broken down & made one – my Vegan Tofu Chilaquiles with 5-Minute Vegan Nacho Cheese Sauce – seen below.
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I was SHOCKED at how delicious tofu could be & by how convincingly it replaced eggs.  This success led to Vegan Tofu Scramble Breakfast Burrito with Mixed Vegetables & CheeseVegan Tofu Quiche with Chard, Spinach & CheeseVegan Sausage, Broccoli & Cheese Quiche with Tofu & Fried Sage and even my Vegan Spicy Orange & Sriracha Glazed Tofu with Pomegranate Seeds – seen below, respectively.
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I have come to really love tofu!  So, when I saw the Tofu Parmigiana on Chef’s menu – I had to try it!  And am I glad that I did!  It might have been the easiest to prepare of all the Chef’d dishes I have tried so far & it really was delicious.  I made no changes to the recipe (though I did accidentally break one of my tofu patties) – and it came out very well.  There was a little arugula, cherry tomato & pine nut salad that was crazy easy to make and, since arugula is my favorite of the lettuces out there, I found it to be delicious – and clean & lite.
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As you can see – I overcooked the cheese a bit – likely because my oven needs calibration – but Chef’d had supplied more mozzarella than the recipe called for so I just added a bit more & baked it another 2 minutes or so – until it melted.  The golden cheese was actually quite yummy!  In fact – the entire dish – including the salad are definitely worth repeating.  But – while I was photographing it – I decided a bit of fresh basil would be a nice touch – so I went on my balcony to get some.  And look who met me out there!
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Cutie, little lady bug!  I tried to get a better shot but she scuttled away.  So – I picked some basil & continued to photograph.  And then I ate it up.  But – like with the CHEF’D – Vegetarian Fig Pizza with Arugula & Goat Cheese – I found this meal to be quite light – maybe too light to serve two for dinner.  I made this for lunch & easily killed the salad alone and scarfed three of the tofu Parmigiana cutlet thingies and had to stop myself from eating the fourth.  Granted, I had just done a heated spinning class that burns about 1000 calories but – still.  I think there is no way two MEN could share this meal & call it dinner – unless they were looking to restrict portion size & trying to lose weight (and who isn’t trying to lose weight?).   And – maybe I am just a good ole-fashioned American glutton – but I nearly ate all of this for lunch – all of a meal planned to feed two.  I would definitely eat it all at dinner – all of both portions.  I mean – the tofu seemed to be about 1/2 lb (notice the label is the label for almost a pound but is cut in half) –
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meaning that the 1/2 pound block supplied only has 225 calories.  Add the sauce & cheese & even the salad and you increase the calories a bit but still – if feeding two – within the calories range of your average Lean Cuisine.  I don’t know about you – but although I used to eat Lean Cuisine – ALL THE TIME – I never found them very filling.  That said – there are likely more people out there looking for a truly light but still delicious vegetarian meal & this dish supplies that in spades.
After writing that – I realized that Chef’d must supply nutritional info – and they do.  Here it is (below) showing more calories than I guessed – at 495 per diner.   I think 500 calories for a dinner – for most people – would result in weight loss.  Since most of us need to lose a few – that could be a very good thing.  Still – I think it is unrealistic to think most Americans would find this meal substantial enough for two adults – for dinner.
That said – it really was easy & it really was tasty & I really am glad I did not eat the whole 2 portions for lunch – like I wanted to.  Primarily, because I still have an entire Chef’d pizza – a White Pizza with Broccoli & Mushrooms and an Arugula Salad with Lemon Mint Vinaigrette – downstairs.  Waiting to be cooked.  By me.  And eaten.  By myself.  Tonight.  Alone.  Whole pizza.  Yup.
Don’t judge me!   🙂
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PS – Chef’d has two holiday dinner options that you can customize – to serve 4 or 8.  Smoked Goose & Prime Rib.
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Homemade Black Pepper Fettuccine Pasta with Summer Truffles, Parmesan and Butter

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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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I made this dish with THESE noodles & simply added a tablespoon of ground pepper to the eggs before kneading them into the dough.   Any dry pasta would work, too, but fresh noodles are just that much more delicate and the flavors here benefit from that.  If you cannot (or don’t care to) make homemade pasta – maybe buy the fresh pasta available at most supermarkets in the refrigerated section.

I found these truffles at my local Gelson’s for $14 and could not resist trying them – for that low price.

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Ultimately, they were very, very lightly flavored – so I added a drizzle of the truffle oil above.  Still, the flavors were almost imperceptible but that was OK because I discovered that noodles with butter & Parmesan (and maybe some fresh parsley) are pretty awesome, too, and had that as my second meal with the homemade fettuccine.

If you ever come across actual fresh truffles, come back to this recipe & try them this way.   Or – if you have a truffle oil you love, drizzle that on the pasta & skip the actual truffles, altogether.

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Homemade Black Pepper Fettuccine Pasta with Summer Truffles, Parmesan and Butter

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS

1/2 lb fresh pasta (or dry pasta of your choice)

2 Summer Truffles (optional) – sliced at thin as you can muster

Truffle oil

2 -3 TBS of the highest quality butter you can find (preferably grass fed)

1/2 cup or more of Parmesan cheese (highest quality you can find) – grated or shaved

Salt

Freshly ground pepper

Fresh parsley – chopped (if you are not using truffles)

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DIRECTIONS

Cook & drain the pasta – reserving about 1/2 cup of the hot pasta water.

Melt the butter in a large saute pan (large enough to hold all the pasta).   I drizzled a bit of the liquid from the truffle jar in the butter & a few little bits of the truffles.

When the butter is melted, add the pasta & the Parmesan.  I used about 1/2 cup but the amount of cheese is really up to you.

Stir to blend & warm through.

Plate the pasta & garnish with sliced truffles, truffle oil, salt & lots of freshly cracked pepper.  Add more cheese, if you like.

If you are not using truffles, freshly chopped parsley is nice.

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Tricolore Salad with Shaved Brussels Sprouts, Belgian Endive and Radicchio

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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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Few things are easier to throw together than salads & this salad is no exception.  Simple ingredients, clean & light & so pretty.

You could use other ingredients like – arugula or frisee (curly endive) or shaved fennel.  Whatever floats your boat.

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Tricolore Salad with Shaved Brussels Sprouts, Belgian Endive and Radicchio

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS

3 heads Belgian Endive – thinly sliced

6 large Brussels sprouts – shaved with a mandolin or very thinly sliced

1/2 head radicchio – thinly sliced

(you should have approximately the same amount of each)

1/4 cup nice olive oil

2 TBS fresh lemon juice

S&P to taste

1/4 cup or more (to taste) of grated or shaved Pecorino or Parmesan (or vegan alternative)

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DIRECTIONS

Slice up the leafy guys.  In a small jar or in a bowl – mix the lemon & olive oil.  S&P to taste.  Tweak the lemon to oil ration to suit your taste.

Toss the salad with the dressing & 1/4 cup of cheese.  Plate it up & serve with more cheese & freshly cracked pepper.

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Fresh Mint and Zucchini Mac and Cheese

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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 mac & cheese is the easiest of the three I posted this week.  I already posted Smoked Gouda & Truffle Oil Mac and Cheese with Crispy Panko and Chipotle Gouda and Guinness (Stout) Mac and Cheese with Vegan Pulled Chicken (or Pork) in Homemade Chipotle Apricot BBQ Sauce – seen above, respectively.

I have also posted another version of mint & zucchini pasta in one of my earliest recipes in the first week or so of my food porn blogging adventure – Zucchini & Mint Pasta with Parmesan – seen below in a rather underwhelming photo.

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That recipe was stolen from my friend Naomi but this mac & cheese is all mine.  Mint & zucchini might sound odd but they add a light & refreshing taste to pasta – which is sort of the opposite of what you think of when you think pasta.

This mac & cheese was easiest because I did not bother with a roux.  This can come together very quickly  – like – the time it takes to cook the pasta – and then sit waiting on your counter (or fridge) until you are thirty minutes away from serving dinner.

Alas – my photos of THIS mint & zucchini dish are also underwhelming because 1) I didn’t photograph the leftovers until the next day (as these three mac & cheeses were made for a birthday dinner) and more importantly 2) I tripped over a dog gate as I carried the ramekins to a nicely lit spot & I took quite a fall.  I broke a little table:

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and hot mac & cheese flew all over a nutmeg leather & brocade love seat & all over the floor, too.  My self-pity knew no bounds & the photo session was over.  So – I had to settle for what I had taken so far.  But – trust me – this dish is far yummier than the photos suggest & it really is easy.

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Fresh Mint and Zucchini Mac and Cheese

INGREDIENTS

1/2 to 3/4  lb macaroni (or pasta of your choice)

6 very large zucchini or 12 regular ones

1 bunch fresh mint

6 garlic cloves

2 TBS olive oil

2 cups pepper jack – grated

2 cup mozzarella – grated

1 cup Parmesan

4 oz cream cheese

S&P

Extra Parmesan for garnish

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cook the pasta.

Meanwhile, using a cheese grater or a food processor – grate all but one large (or 2 small) zucchinis.  Slice the remaining ones into 1/4 inch thick rounds to be used to top the pasta – like you see on the one on the far right.

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Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan.  Drop in the garlic cloves.  I left mine whole because they were small but you can chop yours first – if the idea of biting into a whole clove later bums you out.

Add the zucchini & saute until soft.  Season with S&P.

Chop the mint.  Reserve some for garnish later & toss the rest into the zucchini pan.  Stir to combine.

When the pasta is done, drain it & toss it with the zucchini mixture.  Reserve 1 cup of mozzarella & the cup of grated Parmesan & mix the pepper jack, cream cheese & remaining one cup of mozzarella with the pasta.

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Treat a casserole pan (or ramekins) with cooking spray & put the pasta mix in.  Top with zucchini rounds & then with the 1 cup each of mozzarella & Parmesan.

Heat for about 30 minutes or until the cheese is all melted & bubbling & beginning to turn golden.

Let it rest 5-10 minutes, serve & garnish with more mint (and Parmesan) and lots of freshly ground pepper & then dig in.

Delicious, no?    Told ya so!

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Super Easy Vegan Chicken Parmesan & Pasta

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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 – let’s just get THIS part over with.  I wrote a book.  I promise – it is funny & dirty & smart.  And you will enjoy!!  www.BathingBook.com

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Ok – so – I stopped eating chicken 25 years ago and I cannot honestly say whether I have ever had chicken Parmesan.  But I made this & it is so fucking easy & delicious & guiltless (as far as your chicken karma goes) – I think this might become a staple around here.

I cheated a bit in that I did not use the Beyond Meat chicken here –