Okra – Part Deux

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Come summertime and this intriguingly fuzzy little pod always shows up in my grocery store. Curiosity bit me last summer and I finally jumped in to the okra scene by adding it to a Southern inspired stew. I figured the long cooking time and melded flavors of a stew can take the scariness out of any food, right? Ehhhh, not so much. It’s not that though okra tasted bad, but it did turn my meal into a gelatinous mess. The recipe did not prepare me for this okra side effect and unsurprisingly, spoonfuls of goo did not top my list of pleasurable eating experiences.

So it’s August and the pods are making an appearance in my produce section again. At the same time I spied this Peanut Stuffed Okra recipe in my Vegetarian Times. Okay okra, time to redeem your self! And did it ever. The pods made perfect little boats for the spicy, nutty (non-sludgy!) filling. Okra success.

(Mikey also made a heat-filled ‘Bee Sting’  to accompany this snack. Maybe it was his way of saying he needs to be intoxicated to try my okra again, ha.)

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Ladies and Gentleman, The Beets!

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Whenever cooking with beets, the 1995 smash hit (at least in the Nickelodeon universe), “Killer Tofu”, worms it’s way into my brain. Not familiar with this ear infecting ditty? It’s by virtual rockstars, The Beets, who hailed from the cartoon Doug, which had heavy rotation on my childhood tube. If you care to listen:

Anyway, back to beet beets. I have hummus at least a few times a week as a part of my lunch routine so I’m always thinking of ways to jazz it up. Here, roasted beets & toasted walnuts turn your ordinary chickpea, tahini, lemon and garlic mixture into an earthy, magenta hued, delight.

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“This Actually Tastes Like Clam Chowder!”

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Exclaimed a skeptical Mike when he was served this veganized version of the New England classic. Some may have been offended by his shock, implying his doubt, but I took it as the highest compliment. Out of all the traditional meat based meals I’ve tried to make animal free over the years, mimicking a fishy flavor & texture is tough. This combo of oyster mushrooms, artichoke hearts and a slew of other flavor enhancers comes damn close.

Check out the surprisingly simple recipe here at: Meettheshannons.net

Alien life forms? Nah, just pretty oyster mushrooms.

Alien life forms? Nah, just pretty oyster mushrooms.

Apparently, it takes a village to capture the essence of the sea.

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PB & SP Sitting In A Tree

 

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Peanut butter and sweet potato, what an epic pairing. I can’t think of a way you could put these two together that could go wrong. I tried two tasty variations recently. Check them out here.

Thai Sweet Potato Stacks with Peanut Sauce at the minimalistbaker.com.

I went fancy-pants and choose to stack, while Mikey went all nacho style on it.

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With & w/out Sriracha

With & w/out Sriracha

Next up this soul warming Sweet Potato Peanut Bisque at eatingwell.com. I topped mine with cashews for an extra crunch. Decadently delectable.

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Bulgur Tabbouleh Stuffed Kale

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I just could not come up with a cutesy blog post title for this meal. I tried! Bulgur tabbouleh stuffed kale didn’t lend itself to any appealing nicknames or interesting alliterations. Have I failed you? Any ideas?

Despite it’s un-fun moniker, the meal was quite tasty. Light and refreshing. Check out the recipe at Foodandwine.com. (To ‘veganize’ simply sub in vegan greek yogurt.)

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My cherry chopper needs a mani!

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My Salad (And Arteries) Thank You , Whole Foods.

Fig Balsalmic, yum.

Fig Balsalmic, yum.

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Avocado Vinaigrette, yes please.

In my haste to eliminate all-things-oil from my diet I completely neglected to think about what was going to top my salads. Subbing in water or broth when sautéing, easy. Applesauce in baked goods, done. But what of my salads?! Dressings basically equal oil. Whole foods to the rescue! They’ve added a totally delectable line of oil-free low sodium, salad dressings that I simply swoon for.

Sesame Ginger, my absolute fav! Divine over spinach, strawberries, zucchini & sunflower seeds.

 

Pomegranate Vinaigrette, with beets & apples.

Pomegranate Vinaigrette, with beets & apples.

Pomegranate again, over spinach, clementines, endives, walnuts, quinoa & duh, pomegranate.

Pomegranate again, over spinach, clementines, endives, walnuts, quinoa & duh, pomegranate.

Vegan Caesar & Carrot Ginger, mmmmm.

Vegan Caesar & Carrot Ginger, with a guest  appearance by Mike!

So Nice I Made It Twice

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For Christmas this year, five fabulous vegan cookbooks lay beautifully wrapped under my tree. Or maybe they just sat in Amazon boxes on my dining room table. However they arrived, I’ve been having a ball with them. Starting a relationship with a new cookbook is always such a treat.

Paging through ‘Cooking Crunk: Eating Vegan in the Dirty South’, the Garlicky Black Eyed Pea Hummus recipe stopped me immediately. I decided to have some ready for New Year’s. Black eyed peas, good luck in the New Year, I live in Vegas, you get it.

The recipe is just your standard hummus procedure with black eyeds swapped in. Can of the peas (though I cooked my fresh from dried), 1/4c tahini, 3TBs of olive oil (I omitted & didn’t miss), 1TB lemon juice, 2 cloves of garlic, 1/4tsp salt, & 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water. Process. Plus some paprika to pretty it up.

The rich smokey flavor the peas brought has me hooked. It was so, so, so good. So good, I’ve made two more batches in the last month!

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My hand model could use a manicure.

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Side note, I always have tons & tons of leftovers and get annoyed at having to use a roll of foil a month to keep my dishes covered. Simple & cute solution I received for Xmas:  these amazing lily pad bowl covers. They work better than I could’ve ever hoped for & are a breeze to clean. In love!

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Walnuts and Apples and Oats! Oh my!

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I’ve been adoring Cooking Light’s spin on a Waldorf Salad for a good while now. Any recipe sans mayo has to be an upgrade, right? Ha. And I’m not even one of those people who have mayo related terrors. I just shudder thinking about a salad covered in the stuff. Anyway, two notes:

-I omit the blue cheese crumbles & swap in Agave for the honey to veganize. You might think the salad would be lacking in flavor without the cheese but I don’t miss it all, not even tempted to try faux cheese here. The sherry vinegar dressing & agave red pepper walnuts punch this up enough.

-The 7 minute simmering time they give to cook the oats is way off. Unless I’m doing something wrong, my steel cut outs take at least 25 minutes to cook, then 10 minutes for their recommended cooling. Maybe they like their oats undercooked? Or??? I don’t know. Of course, I forget this every time I cook this recipe so I’m always waiting around for the oats that were suppose to be done in a magical 7 minutes! Anyhoo, just use 3 cups of water per one of oats, simmer for about 25 minutes & stir occasionally so the oats don’t glue themselves to the bottom of the pot.

Enjoy.

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