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

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2018

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


Click the image above to watch the video.

The Ivy Copycat Grilled Vegetable Salad with Lime Vinaigrette

serves 2 as an entree


for the dressing

Juice of 1-2 limes

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

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

Season to taste with S&P.

Combine & taste.  Tweak to suite your palate.

for the salad

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

1 zucchini

1 yellow squash

2 ears fresh corn – in the husks

1 bunch asparagus – tough bottoms trimmed

1 red bell pepper – seeded

1/2 cucumber – diced

1 handful cherry tomatoes – haved

3-4 radishes – chopped

1/4 small red onion – diced

1 avocado – chopped

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


Make the dressing while the veggies are grilling.

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

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

Serve & enjoy!!!


Baked Stuffed Eight Ball Squash (or Zucchini) with Leftover Pasta (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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Farm Fresh To You sent me three little 8-Ball squashes this week – and I had a boatload of leftover pasta and so – this dish was born.   I used the three eight ball squashes & a green & a yellow zucchini I had, too.  The kind of squash is not important but the eight ball squashes do make a cute presentation.   You can eat the flesh (and skin) of the eight ball squashes but I think this might be less pleasant if yours are very large.  Mine were pretty small & got very tender in the oven.

I did stuff the yellow zucchini but ran out of stuffing for the green one & could not be bothered to make more – so – I just filled it with sauce.  I used a teeny bit of real mozzarella on top & a really tiny bit of real Asiago in the filling but vegan cheeses would work just as well.

I used leftover pasta like this & the jarred sauce below.  You can use any type of pasta & sauce you prefer – even homemade ones.  You could add ground meat – like Beyond Meat Beefy Crumble to either the squash filling or your sauce – if you wanted to add protein to the dish.


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Baked Stuffed Eight Ball Squash (or Zucchini) with Leftover Pasta (Vegetarian or Vegan)

Serves 2


12 oz cooked pasta

4 eight ball squashes (or 4 zucchini)

2 TBS olive oil

16 oz pasta sauce (or less but up to 16 oz – depending on how much sauce you like on your pasta)

1-6 garlic cloves

1 TBS fresh oregano – chopped (or 1 tsp dry)

1/4 cup vegan mozzarella)

1/8 cup grated Asiago (or vegan Parmesan)


Garnish – chopped basil or parsley and maybe extra vegan cheese)

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Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Cook the pasta & drain.

Cut the tops off the eight ball squash & carefully scoop out the flesh & set it aside.  A melon-baller or grapefruit spoon might make that easier.  If using zucchini – slice in half the long way & scoop out the seeds & flesh and set it aside.

Take about 1 cup of the cooked pasta & chop it a bit.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet.  Add the squash flesh & saute a minute or so.  Add the garlic & oregano & stir.  Add the CHOPPED pasta, 1/2 cup or so of pasta sauce stir.  Add Asiago or vegan Parmesan & stir.  Season with S&P & set aside.

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Treat a cooking pan with cooking spray.  Carefully stuff your peppers in the pan.  Top each with a little more sauce, some grated mozzarella & then with the squash tops themselves.  Bake for about 30 minutes or until the squash are tender & the cheese is warmed (and/or melted).  If using zucchini – do the same thing – but there will be no little squash hats for the zucchini boats.

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This next part is up to you.  You can either boil water & put the remaining pasta in it for about a minute, just before you are ready to serve – or warm as much pasta sauce as you think you need for 2 servings & stir the pasta directly into it to reheat it.   The advantage to heating the pasta & sauce separately is that you can better control how much sauce each serving gets – because some people like lots of sauce & others prefer less.  This is your call.

Whatever you decide – when the squash is ready – plate some pasta & sauce on two plates & place two baked squash on top of each.

Garnish with basil and/or parsley & grated 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


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)


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)


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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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 Carrot Kootu (Thick Coconut Curry with Lentils)

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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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vromans back

Here is the Wikipedia definition of “kootu:”

Kootu is a Tamil word means ‘add’ i.e.vegetable added with lentils which form the dish, made of vegetable and lentils and are semi-solid in consistency, i.e., less aqueous than sambhar, but more so than dry curries. Virundhu Sappadu (Typical Tamil feast) comes with the combo of boiled rice (‘Choru’ in Tamil), sambar, rasam, curd, poriyal, kootu, appalam, pickle and banana. All kootus by default have some vegetables and lentils, but many variations of kootu exist.


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I am a big fan of vegan curries – especially those with lots of “sauce” and even more so if they are made in a slow cooker.  This recipe is simple with no exotic ingredients & feeds a LOT of people.   I made this in a 7-quart Crock Pot & nearly filled the thing.  It makes enough to feed a dozen people if served with rice.  I ate it for lunch every day & froze a bunch.  You can do this or cut the recipe down.  I just developed an urgent passion to use ALL the produce I had in my house this week & I had 4 pounds of carrots – so this kootu.

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Vegan Carrot Kootu (Thick Coconut Curry with Lentils)

Serves 10-12 with rice


2 cups peeled split mung beans (yellow lentils)

4 pound carrots – sliced

1 onion – chopped

3 cans coconut milk

3 cups vegetable stock

1 or more (according to your taste for heat) jalapenos (or other peppers) – seeded & diced (I used several split Bird’s Eye chilies)

1 TBS fresh ginger (I used jarred)

4 garlic cloves – minced

2 TBS tomato paste

2 TBS turmeric

1 TBS ground coriander

1 tsp chili powder

1 TBS ground cumin

1 cup fresh cilantro – chopped plus more for garnish

1/2 cup or more Thai or other basil – chopped

Lime wedges for garnish


Cooked rice (I used brown jasmine)

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Put everything into the slow cooker & cook on high for 4 hours or until the carrots are tender.  Season with S&P.

Serve withe rice & garnish with cilantro & lime wedges.

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Vegan Puerto Rican Pink Beans & Yellow Rice with Homemade Sofrito (Habichuelas Rosadas Y Arroz con Gandules) for the Slow Cooker


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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So I bought those pink beans above for pennies.  I Googled for idea & these Puerto Rican bean recipes kept popping up.  They all called for Sazon & Sofrito – both, allegedly, readily available in the Hispanic section of the grocery store.  I live in Hollywood – with a huge Hispanic population so – it ain’t hard to find ingredients for recipes of the Mexican or Central/South American variety.   Yet, my local Ralph’s had no Sofrito.  Lots of Sazon (which you can make at home – as it is just a bunch of spices) but no Sofrito.

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So – I bought all the Sazon varieties & decided to make the Sofrito.  It is just a sort of salsa with green bell peppers as the base rather than tomatoes.  The problem is – I made 4 cups of the stuff before I realized most recipes only call for a tablespoon or two.  I didn’t want to waste all the fresh produce goodness – so – I dumped a full two cups of the shit into my beans.  As a result, these are less than authentic but they still taste great – so – I give less than no fucks.  So there!  Lol!

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The rice calls for pigeon peas (above) – which are really a variety of bean.  They were in the Hispanic aisle and, it seems, critical if you want your yellow rice to be authentic.

Like most of my slow cooker recipes, this can be made stove top in a fraction of the time but where is the fun in that?

So – let us begin with the sofrito recipe.

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Homemade Sofrito

makes 4 cups (but you can freeze it in an ice cube tray or other small containers for future use)


1 green bell pepper

1 red bell pepper

15 sweet peppers

1 sweet or red onion

3 heads (not cloves – HEADS) of garlic – peeled

2 tomatoes

1 bunch cilantro

1 TBS salt


Puree in a blender or food processor.  Set aside.

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Vegan Puerto Rican Pink Beans (Habichuelas Rosadas)

feeds – like – 6 to 8 with rice


1 lb. dry pink beans

1-3 cups of sofrito (recipe above) – you can add it in increments & taste as you go but I went with three whole cups

4 cups water

2 packets Sazon (I used the Con Culantro Y Achiote but I don’t think it matters much which you use)

Garnish – cilantro, hot sauce


Stick it all in a slow cooker & leave it on high for 5 hours.  Serve with rice (recipe below) & garnish as you like.

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Puerto Rican Yellow Rice with Pigeon Peas (Arroz con Gandules)

Serves as many as the amount you make – but I started with 2 cups dry rice


2 cups rice (I used brown Texmati)

Water as per instructions on your rice (make 1/4 cup less – so the rice doesn’t get mushy)

1 packet Sazon (I used Con Azafran (saffron) but any kind will do)

1 TBS sofrito (recipe above)

1 (15 oz) pigeon peas

1 TBS olive oil (optional)


Cook the rice as directed on the package with with the rest of the ingredients added to the uncooked rice.

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Lazy Night Creamy Goat Cheese & Tomato Pasta



All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

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.



This is a very easy, cheater’s version of a pasta sauce.  I was feeling very lazy & determined to make a creamy & comforting pasta dish using stuff I had around.  Two things I had around were these guys.


I also had a hunk of goat cheese.  The result was this dish.  As you can see from the photos, my basil was on its last legs but it was still tasty!  Easy, easy, easy, fast & delicious!  The sauce comes together in less time than it takes to cook the pasta.  Try it!


Lazy Night Creamy Goat Cheese & Tomato Pasta

Serves 2


1/2 lb of your favorite dry pasta

olive oil

2 garlic cloves – minced

1 (10 oz) can Campbell’s sun-ripened yellow tomato soup (or another variety – if you choose)

1 (10 oz) can Rotel (or diced tomatoes)

1/3 cup Parmesan cheese – grated

4 oz goat cheese

1 tsp crushed red pepper

S&P to taste

Garnishes: fresh basil, chopped tomatoes, parsley, grated Parmesan, crumbled goat cheese





Cook the pasta.

In a stock pot – heat a TBS or two of olive oil.  Add garlic & crushed red pepper.  Cook for one minute then add the Rotel, canned soup, Parmesan & goat cheese.  Stir to blend & season with S&P.  Add a little hot pasta water if it seems too thick.  Toss with cooked & drained pasta, garnish as you will & devour.




Indian Yellow Curry Cauliflower with Coconut Milk & Forbidden Black Rice (part 2 of a 3 curry meal)


All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

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

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This is the second of three curry recipes I will be posting today.  The first is my Thai Green Curry Coconut Shrimp.  Be sure to read that blog post as it also outlines a pretty embarrassing experience here:




Indian Yellow Curry Cauliflower with Coconut Milk


1 head of cauliflower – cut into florets

6 tbs oil

2 TBS cumin seeds

Spice mix

2 TBS coriander seeds

2 TBS cumin seeds

Ginger, garlic & serrano paste

1 tsp salt

10 cloves garlic

2 inch hunk of fresh ginger – peeled & diced

2 serrano peppers – seeded


1 onion – minced

1 cup peas

1 tsp ground turmeric

2 14oz cans (or about 4 cups) coconut milk (lite, if you prefer)

4 ripe tomatoes

1 cup yogurt (optional)

1 lime, juiced

4 tsp salt (or to taste)

1 cup chopped cilantro plus more for garnish


Cut your cauliflower into florets.  Set aside


Dry roast (in a dry frying pan) the 2 TBS each cumin & coriander seeds.  They should become fragrant in a few minutes.  Definitely agitate the pan to avoid burning the spices.  When they are just browning, remove them & transfer to a mortar & pestle & grind them into a fine powder.  Set aside.


In a food processor, puree the salt, garlic, ginger & serranos.  Set aside.

Puree the tomatoes in your food processor.  Set aside.


Mince the onion in your food processor.  Set aside.


In a LARGE saute pan, heat the 6 TBS of olive oil & toss the cauliflower florets n it with 1 TBS of the whole cumin seeds.  Stir occasionally & fry until the florets begin to brown in sections.  Remove from heat & set aside.

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In that same pan,  add a bit more oil & the other TBS of whole cumin seeds.  Once they start popping, add the minced onion.  Fry for about 10 minutes of until they just start to turn golden.

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Add the ginger, garlic & serrano paste & stir.  After a minute or two, add the dry, ground spice mix, coconut milk, tomatoes & cauliflower & peas & stir to combine. Simmer for about 20 minutes or until your cauliflower is tender.  Stir in the yogurt (if using), the juice of the lime and a cup of chopped cilantro.  Taste & add salt if you think it needs it.   Heat through & serve over rice with more cilantro as garnish.



Forbidden Black Rice

Just use two parts water to one part rice.  For example, bring 4 cups of water to a boil.  Add 2 cups rice & return to a boil.  Reduce heat, wrap a kitchen towel around the pot lid & cover the pan.  Be CAREFUL that your kitchen towel is nowhere near the flame.  You don’t HAVE to take this step but it is supposed to produce a fluffier rice.  Let the rice sit unmolested on lowest heat for about 45 minutes.  Check the texture.  If it isn’t soft enough yet, let it sit another 15 minutes.

Or just use a rice cooker.




Homemade White American Cheese


All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.
This is not a very pretty post.  Making white cheese from other white cheese doesn’t make for very pretty images but this will lead up to something in the near future.

American cheese is popular mainly for its melting qualities.  And its mild flavor.  This recipe can be tweaked by using different cheese(s) than I did.  Use a Colby or a pepper jack or a sharp cheddar.  It doesn’t matter.  I had a huge bag of pizza cheese – so I just used that.

You might want to use a smaller loaf pan than I did & get a more blocky shaped cheese.  Maybe even use a disposable foil one.  My cheese came out only an inch thick because my loaf pan was too big but it doesn’t matter.  This cheese was made to be used for grilled cheese sandwiches – so – the shape of the cheese is irrelevant.



Homemade White American Cheese


3 cups grated cheese (Colby or cheddar or pepper jack or mozzarella or a blend of cheeses of your choice)

1 TBS powdered gelatin

2 TBS water

2 TBS milk powder

Salt to taste – go very light

1/4 tsp cream of tartar

1 cup plus 4 TBS milk


Line your loaf pan with plastic wrap.


Combine the cheese, milk powder, salt & cream of tartar in a food processor.  Pulse in the grated cheese.

Dissolve the gelatin in the water & let sit a minute or two.  Do not wait too long or it will completely gel.  Pulse the gelatin into the cheese.


Heat the milk in a pan until it simmers.  Pour this milk into the food processor  while it is running & puree until completely smooth – a minute or two.


Pour this into the lined loaf pan.  Press flat to squeeze out any air pockets.  Refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

Slice it up & use it the way you would use any other American cheese.