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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Easy Vegan Fried Green Tomatoes

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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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I had fried green tomatoes in Vicksburg, Mississippi once and I have been obsessed ever since.  The ones there were decadent & I think they had cheese on them or a remoulade and they were amazing.  Since then, I order them whenever they are on the menu.   The other day, I found genuine GREEN tomatoes – meaning – tomatoes that were not yet ripe.  In the past, I have cheated & used ripe, green heirloom tomatoes but they do not have the texture and tang of an authentic green tomato.  Despite being on a pantry strike (eating ONLY what I already have in the house & attempting to spend zero on groceries) – I put out $2.50 for these two beauties.

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Hard & shiny & bright green.

Traditionally, the slices of tomato are dipped in a milk & egg mixture & then dredged through a breadcrumb-cornmeal mixture.   Almond milk works just fine & rather than try to sub out the egg with a vegan alternative – I decided to just omit it.  The result was that the crumb mixture had less to grip – especially on the slick edges of the tomato.  But – I am cool with that.  The fried breading is lovely but also the only naughty/guilty part of these guys so – a little less fried stuff is better for my own personal girth.  I only cooked one tomato today.  Tomorrow, I will try a different method & post that but I was very happy with these.  They would go great in a sandwich – like – an avocado, lettuce & fried green tomato sandwich or a grilled cheese with fried green tomatoes.  Again – I am trying to drop a few pounds (over the holidays – right?) so I just ate these naked – but for a few splashes of Crystal – my all-time favorite hot sauce.

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Easy Vegan Fried Green Tomatoes

Serves 1

INGREDIENTS

1 unripened green tomato – sliced into 1/4 to 1/3 inch rounds.

1/4 cup panko crumbs

1/4 cup cornmeal

1/4 cup breadcrumbs (or any mixture you prefer or have handy)

Cajun seasoning (to taste) or S&P

1/4 cup or so non-dairy milk

Enough vegetable oil to submerge the breaded tomato in your frying pan

Hot sauce of choice

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DIRECTIONS

Mix the dry ingredients in one bowl.  In another bowl – pour some almond milk.  Use enough oil so that your tomatoes will be submerged in it.  This way – you do not have to flip them – increasing the opportunities for the breading to fall off.  Heat your oil until it is very hot – hot enough for a few breadcrumbs to immediately sizzle when dropped into the pan.  Dip the tomato slices in the milk & then the breadcrumb mixture.  I then put each breaded slice back into the milk & crumbs a second time.  When your oil is hot – carefully put the tomato slices in the oil & fry until browned to your desire.  Drain on paper towels.  Serve with hot sauce or a remoulade.

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

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

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

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

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

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

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Fresh Mint & Zucchini Pasta (Vegan or Vegetarian)

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS

1/2 lb pasta – cooked & drained

Olive oil

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

1-3 cloves garlic – chopped

1/4 cup fresh mint – chopped

S&P to taste

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

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

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DIRECTIONS

Cook & drain the pasta.

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

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

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Easy Vegan Kung Pao Cauliflower

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

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

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

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

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Easy Vegan Kung Pao Cauliflower

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

INGREDIENTS

1 head cauliflower – cut into florets

2 TBS olive oil

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

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

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

1 TBS minced fresh ginger (I used jarred)

for the marinade

2 TBS low-sodium soy sauce (or tamari)

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

1 TBS cornstarch

for the kung pao sauce

3/4 cup black vinegar

4 TBS low-sodium soy sauce (or tamari)

4 TBS vegetarian hoisin sauce

4 TBS sesame oil

2 TBS cornstarch

1 cup water

GARNISH – cooked rice & peanuts

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

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DIRECTIONS

Cook some rice.  I used brown basmati.

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

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Whisk the sauce together & set aside.

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

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

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

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10-Minute Spicy Vegan Sriracha Chicken & Broccoli Bowl

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

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

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

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10-Minute Spicy Vegan Sriracha Chicken & Broccoli Bowl

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS

9 to 12 ounces vegan chicken – cubed

1 jalapeno – seeded & diced (optional)

Olive oil

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

1/2 cup vegan hoisin sauce

1-2 TBS sriracha sauce

1-3 tsp crushed garlic (I used jarred)

1 TBS ginger (I used jarred)

Broccoli for 2 – fresh or frozen

Salted peanuts

Sliced scallions as garnish

Cooked rice for 2

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DIRECTIONS

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

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

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

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Easy Crispy Oven Baked French Fries

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2015

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

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

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

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

OK – I digress.

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

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Easy Crispy Oven Baked French Fries

INGREDIENTS

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

Olive oil

S&P

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

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DIRECTIONS

Prepare the potatoes & soak them in icy cold water.

Heat the oven to 450-475.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Easy Basil Pesto (Vegan or Not)

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

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

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

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

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

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Easy Basil Pesto (Vegan or Not)

Makes a lot

INGREDIENTS

6 oz (or 4 packed cups) fresh basil

1/2 cup almonds

1/2 cup grated Parmesan (or vegan alternative)

2 garlic cloves

1/4 cup olive oil

S&P to taste

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DIRECTIONS

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

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

Season with S&P.

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

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