Easy Basil Vinaigrette

Whipping up a salad dressing is so easy and can be as simple as oil and vinegar plus some salt and pepper.  This takes it up a notch using two shortcut ingredients, frozen basil and garlic cubes (picture below).  I find these at most stores these days including Trader Joes and Harris Teeter.  I don’t always measure exactly when making a dressing.  You can wing it and go by your taste but I typically go with a 2:1 ratio oil to vinegar.  This recipe can be doubled to make a larger batch.

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Makes 3/4 cup

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Ingredients

1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar (could also use fresh lemon juice)
2 frozen basil cubes
2 frozen garlic cubes
Salt and pepper to taste

Method

I make this directly in the measuring cup.  Just add oil to 1/2 cup then add vinegar to reach 3/4 of cup.  Add in the basil and garlic cubes.  Let sit for 5-10 minutes until they thaw, then whisk together.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

 

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Cranberries & Pecans

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I showed these brussels sprouts a little extra love by adding in the dried cranberries and pecans.  If you want to dress it up even more, a balsamic glaze would be delish!  A simple, perfect fall veggie side dish.  It makes a perfect vegetarian and vegan side dish for Thanksgiving!

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Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato Soup

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My favorite thing about pureed soup is that I don’t have to worry about chopping up the garlic and veggies into little bits because it doesn’t matter in the end.  🙂  What else makes this soup awesome is the roasted flavor from the red pepper and tomato.  The ratio I’ve used here has a nice balance.  You can definitely taste the red pepper but it’s not Continue reading “Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato Soup”

Sweet Potato Apple Hash

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I first published a recipe for this years ago but it desperately needing updating, both with the method and the photos.  So about this dish, simply put it is all about Fall with my favorite 2 produce items of the season!  It only has a few ingredients and it’s easy to make so that’s a big win in my book.  I like the red onion in this for a little color but any onion will do.  Also, a favorite of sweet potatoes or yams (what is the difference anyway? Read this) is the Garnet Yam!

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Makes 2 servings

Ingredients

1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2 in cubes

Olive oil

1 apple, cored and diced

1/2 red onion, diced (about ½ cup is good)

1-2 Tbsp vegan butter (optional)

Salt and pepper, to taste

Method

Heat iron skillet (or nonstick skillet) over medium heat with enough olive oil to coat the bottom.  Let warm for a few minutes.  You don’t want to throw your sweet potatoes into a cold skillet with cold oil – it should sizzle a little bit.

Add sweet potatoes and stir around a little to coat in the oil.  Let cook untouched for about 5 minutes.  Then give them a toss, bottoms should be a little browned, and cook another 5 minutes.  Add additional oil in needed to keep them from sticking.

Add onion and apple, cook 4-5 minutes until everything is tender and the sweet potatoes are browned.

Stir in butter if using, give a toss to melt it and coat everything.  Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve.

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DC Vegfest 2016

 

This past Saturday I ventured out to DC VegFest in Washington, DC and was so excited to try some yummy vegan food!  I was only there for just over an hour so I didn’t get to check out every booth or vendor.  I actually had looked at a map of the exhibitors and vendors thinking I could be strategic with my time but then I just went freestyle and wandered, stopping by whatever had a crowd or sounded good. So here’s a quick recap of a few of my favorites.

Ben & Jerry’s – Non Dairy PB & Cookies

pb-and-cookies-non-dairy-detailWhen I saw the Ben & Jerry’s trunk I made a beeline through swarms of people, dogs, unruly kids, and strollers. Yep that’s right, Ben & Jerry’s has non-dairy ice cream.  And not just fruity sorbet.  This is was actually where I started because why not have dessert first.  This was soooo good that I actually had to question whether it was real ice cream and I had to remind myself that it was an all vegan festival so it had to be. Even my dairy ice cream loving BF couldn’t believe it was non dairy.  We gobbled this up before I could get a photo.

 

 

Barefoot Bucha

img_4524I always enjoy trying new kombucha and I really liked that this was kind of local to me.  Just 2 hours south in Afton VA which is near Charlottesville.   Side note – great area to visit…lots of amazing wineries and breweries there and the Farmhouse at Veritas is a fantastic place to stay.  Back to Bucha – I sampled the black raspberry and LOVED it!  I had to have more and shelled out $5 for a 12oz pour and it was well worth it.  They were serving on tap which was kind of cool.  Apparently that is a thing, kombucha on tap, and they serve at Whole Foods.  I’ll be checking my neighborhood WF soon for this.  Also pretty sweet is how green they are for selling on tap and you bring your glass bottle to refill.

 

Treeline Nut CheeseTreeline Nut Cheese

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Photo credit: http://www.treelinecheese.com

I am always excited to try some of these “fancy” nut cheeses and this one had line to get a sample so I had to get a taste.  My favorites were the soft French style cheeses almost like a spread.  Herb Garlic and the Chipotle Serrano Pepper were two standouts for me.  I thought the Herb Garlic would be a great cream cheese alternative to put on a bagel.  I gobbled up my samples before I could get a photo.

 

 

Yeah Dawg

hot-dogsAfter checking out the food vendors, all of which had long lines, I settled on a vegan hot dog.   If I was going to buy a full size meal, I wanted something good and something I couldn’t get anywhere.  These guys are from New York and I can’t actually get their hot dogs down here, plus just in general it’s hard to find a good veggie dog.  And judging by the line, I thought they must be good!  So 30 minutes in line later, we had 2 tasty dogs.  A New York with kraut, relish, and mustard, and a Cali Kush with kale ceasar, avocado, coconut bacon, and chipotle mayo.  Sounds like a lot going on but this was actually my favorite of the two.  The dogs are actually gluten-free too!

 

 

 

 

 

Lemon Garlic Kale

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Glorious green kale! Simply sauteed with just olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper. Spritzed with lemon before serving.  One tip: don’t cook the hell out of it since we want to preserve some of those wonderful nutrients kale has to offer.  Just a few minutes until it lightly wilted is all it needs!

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Serves 4 as a side

Ingredients

Olive oil

1 bunch of curly kale, large rib removed, torn into pieces

3 large cloves of garlic, thinly sliced or chopped

Water

Salt and pepper to taste

Juice of about half a lemon

Method

Add enough oil to coat the bottom of the a large skillet or sauce pan and heat over medium heat.  Add garlic and saute about 3 minutes.

Add kale and 2-3 tablespoons of water, cover and allow to steam just 2 minutes.  Remove lid and toss kale around to cook evenly.  If needed, return lid and let steam additional minute.

Season with salt and pepper, transfer to a dish and toss with lemon juice and also a drizzle of olive oil if desired.

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Frontier Soup Enchilada Mix Gone Vegan!

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I love soup and I often make from scratch but sometimes on a weeknight I just don’t have the time or patience to cook up a homemade soup. I recently tried this soup mix from Frontier Soups and made it not only vegetarian but also vegan!  I subbed beans for the chicken and omitted the cheese and instead topped with tortilla chips and avocado, plus some fresh cilantro and green onion.  It was delicious, easy and quick to make and still felt homemade.

Note: I found these soup mixes at Whole Foods and I also bought there my favorite vegetable broth which is the Edward & Sons Not-Chick’n bouillon cubes.  Trust me, you want a good vegetable broth because it can make or break your soup. This one has been a long time favorite of mine.

Here’s my vegan version

Ingredients

6 cups vegetable broth

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed (sub for the chicken)

1 package of Frontier Soup Enchilada Soup Mix

1 cup salsa verde

Omit the cheese if making vegan

Toppings: avocado, tortilla chips, cilantro, green onion

Method

Just follow the simple instructions on package and add desired toppings!

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Tofu Lettuce Wraps

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I discovered tofu lettuce wraps years ago at PF Changs and boy were they tasty!  Most recently for the past two years I’ve been visiting the True Food Kitchen near me in Virginia and they have the most amazing tofu lettuce wraps.   I finally just got around to creating my own and I’m in love.

TIP – make sure to use the tofu that comes vacuum sealed like the Wildwood brand or Trader Joes also has this and has new sriracha flavor.  This tofu is not in water and is very firm, so easy to chop into small pieces.

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Makes 6

Ingredients

Vegetable oil

6oz package of vacuum sealed tofu (not the kind in water), diced very small

2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped

3 Tbsp soy sauce or tamari

1 Tbsp rice vinegar

1/2 cup whole cashews, roughly chopped

1/3 cup chopped water chestnuts (from a can)

1/3 cup chopped scallions

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

1/2 a fresh lime

6 small ice berg or butter lettuce leaves

Toppings

Avocado Slices

Sriracha

 

Method

In a small bowl mix soy sauce and vinegar and set aside.

Lightly coat a skillet with the oil and warm over medium heat, then add tofu. Saute 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned all around.

Add garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Stir in soy sauce and vinegar mixture.

Add water chestnuts, cashews, and scallions and cook 3-4 minutes.

Add cilantro and squeeze lime juice over the mixture.  Stir to combine and remove from heat.

Spoon mixture into lettuce cups and garnish with avocado slices and sriracha and serve.

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Gazpacho

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I’m a soup addict, to the point I’ll even eat hot soup during the triple digit heat of DC in August.  However, it is a nice treat to have a flavourful soup that is cold and refreshing!  I came across this recipe in my Vitamix recipe book and made some tweaks based on what I had available.

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Serves 4

Ingredients

3 cups V8 original or plain tomato juice

1/3 cup red wine vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

2 large tomatoes, cut into chunks

1 small cucumber, peeled and cut into chunks

1/2 medium onion, peeled and cut into chunks

1 small zucchini, ends trimmed, cut into chunks

1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into chunks

1 garlic clove, peeled

Dash of hot sauce (or more)

Salt and pepper to taste

Method

Add all ingredients to blender in order listed.  Puree to desired consistency and serve topped with avocado or croutons and a drizzle of olive oil.