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The Sweet Simple Pleasures of Late Summer

24 Aug

My neighbors started a small but amazing garden this year. They generously gave me some of their tomatoes the other day.

These tomatoes are the most flavorful tomatoes I can ever remember tasting. They are far and above, way better than the tomatoes in my CSA.

I ate these tomatoes by themselves and they were awesome, but what really hit the spot was my open faced tomato and  mayonnaise sandwich.

I have a sweet memory of my first tomato and mayonnaise sandwich. I was probably 11 when I went through a pretty severe Harriet the Spy phase. Harriet love tomato and  mayonnaise sandwiches, so of corse I needed to try one.

My Nanna lived with us, and she saw me making the sandwich in the kitchen and got all excited. Seeing the tomato and  mayonnaise sandwich stirred up memories of her past and childhood when she used to make them all the time. She said that she had not seen one in years and years and decided to join me and have a sandwich of her own.

Now tomato and  mayonnaise sandwiches are like comfort food. It always brings me back to that day with my Nanna in the kitchen and Harriet the Spy on my mind.

I made my tomato and  mayonnaise sandwich open faced this time because the tomatoes were so beautiful I thought it would be a shame to cover them with a piece of bread.

I toasted scali bread in the toaster oven (an italian style bread covered with sesame seeds), and topped the toast with vegan  mayonnaise and large slices of tomato.

I could eat this everyday for the rest of my life.

-Kerri

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Cold Cucumber Rice Salad

21 Aug

I’m always looking for things to make for lunch at work. This cold cucumber and rice salad is the perfect thing because I can make it ahead of time, and the flavors blend beautifully by the time my lunch break rolls around. I made a batch of this and ate it two days in a row, and it was even better the second day.

I thought of this dish because i wanted something with a light flavor, that would stick my your ribs. I had a lot of cucumbers but i didn’t think my Cool Cookout Cucumber Salad would fill my up enough, and I didn’t want anything with a slot of dressing. This salad has just the right balance of flavors and texture. I’m really happy with the way it tuned out.

Cold Cucumber Rice Salad

1 cup plain rice (measured uncooked rice)

2 cucumbers

1 lime

1 teaspoon white vinegar

vegan mayo

I use extra long grain white rice. I make it like sushi rice because I love it slightly sticky. I make sticky rice by rinsing the uncooked rice with really cold water. I swish the water around and scrunch the damp rice in my fists so the grains rub against each other polishing the outside of the rice. Rinse several times until the water is pretty much clear. Drain rinsing water and add fresh water to the pot. Bring water and rice to a boil. Then turn the heat down and cover the pot to steam the rice. Simmer (watch out for boiling over) for 30 minutes.

While the rice is cooking cut cucumbers into bite sized pieces.

When rice is cooked remove from heat and place in mixing bowl, add white vinegar and fold into the rice.

Add Cucumbers to the bowl.

Add the juice from one lime.

Add a small amount of vegan mayo. Just enough to bring the mixture together. Taste test the salad until you get the right amount. People are very picky about how much mayo to use. Remember you can always add more if you want, but you can’t take it out once it’s in there.

You want to fold the ingredients together while the rice is warm and then place the batch in the refrigerator. I suggest making this at least 20 minutes before serving, but you can do it a day in advance. The flavor is better when its had time to blend.

Enjoy!

I’d love a comment if you try this recipe.

-Kerri

Kate’s Cookout Goodies

19 Aug

I attended a super fun cookout yesterday and made sure there were plenty of vegan options for me that others could try out. I made this Lemon Cilantro Avocado Pasta Salad and received many compliments. The recipe can found here.

I also made a large bowl of Kale Chips. Believe it or not, those went faster than the pasta salad! Toward the end of the night, they weren’t as crisp, which was disappointing. I’m not sure if it was the humidity or if they were under-cooked.

I made sure to bring a couple of vegan veggie burgers for myself and made a vegan dip using Tastefully Simple’s Fiesta Party Dip Mix, Vegan Sour Cream, and Vegan Mayonnaise. Delicious!

~Kate

Vegan Cooking Marathon

12 Aug

I went a little crazy in the kitchen today… here are a few pictures of some of the delicious vegan dishes I made.

Hawaiian Teriyaki Chickpeas

(A variation of this Happy Herbivore recipe can be found here)

 

These chickpeas were unbelievably good! This will definitely be one of my new favorite meals. I served them over rice and Pineapple Mango Salsa. Here’s the recipe:

Easy Pineapple Mango Salsa

Chop equal parts pineapple and mango.

Add freshly chopped cilantro and fresh lime juice.

My next attempt was a bit of a flop. The Happy Herbivore has a vegan brownie recipe in her cookbook that I have been wanting to try. The author notes that this recipe is by far her most popular. I don’t know if I did something wrong or if my taste buds disagree with the rest of the vegans out there. Oh well! If you are interested in trying the recipe, here it is.

After the brownie debacle, I tried making Quinoa Mac ‘N Cheese. Once again, I used the Happy Herbivore Cheese Sauce recipe, which can be found on her website. Replace the noodles with quinoa and your have a delicious, healthy meal!

Finally, with much thanks to my Grill Master Husband, Tim, I had an amazing grilled dinner of vegetable kebabs and Gardein’s BBQ Skewers. The veggies were fabulous. The skewers were ok. I had never had them before, not sure if I would get them again. I think Gardein’s chick’n products are better than the beef ones.

Hope everyone had a fabulous weekend!

~Kate

If Vegan Food is Scary, Try This Bruschetta

5 Aug

For someone transitioning to a vegan lifestyle, one of the scariest things is the idea that you can’t eat any familiar favorites. For friends and family of vegans, sometimes the word vegan is scary, not to mention how terrifying the idea of actually eating a vegan dish might be. Maybe terrifying is too harsh of a term, but there is a lot of intimidation that surrounds a vegan lifestyle.

People say, “Oh my God. You don’t eat meat? What do you eat?” or “Hmm, I’ve never had a vegan meal before”. Chances are, almost all vegans thought this way before switching. An easy reply to “I’ve never had a vegan meal.” Is “sure you have, what about spaghetti and marinara sauce, or peanut butter and jelly.”

A slow introduction to vegan dishes can be a lot easier than suddenly showing up to a party with kale chips, or seaweed salad.

Here’s a familiar crowd pleaser to bring next time you’re invited to bring food to a party or a meeting. Serve this oil free bruschetta you friends and family of all ages, it’s that good! It’s to full of flavor they wont miss the cheese, and they won’t believe it’s oil free! I came up with this the other day and it was gobbled up in no time. All the ingredients were from my CSA!

Kerri’s Oil Free, Tomato and Eggplant Bruschetta:

Serves 3

1 Eggplant – I used one of the light colored, long and skinny varieties.

1 hand full of salt (trust me)

2 Large Garlic Cloves, or 3 small ones

2 Cups of Chopped Tomatoes – I used plum tomatoes, whatever’s handy

Salt and Pepper to taste

3 Large Slices of Crusty Bread – I used Panera Bread’s County Loaf.

Balsamic Vinegar to taste

Slice the eggplant into pieces about a ¼ inch thick.

To get rid of excess moisture and to avoid mushy cooked eggplant, place the eggplant slices in a single layer in a colander or on a paper towel. Sprinkle both sides of the eggplant with a hand full of salt. Let the eggplant slices sit for 10 minutes with the salt. You will see the water bead up as it’s drawn out of the eggplant by the salt.

While the eggplant is sitting chop your tomatoes. I cut my plumb tomatoes into 3 or four pieces each, no uniform shapes. If you cut the veggies into non-uniform shapes, it will give your dish a rustic look and varieties of texture.

Place a garlic clove on the cutting board. With a broad knife over the garlic pound down with the palm of your hand to squish the garlic, therefore releasing it’s fragrant oils and flavor, and freeing the clove from it’s paper prison. Again, I love my food rustic so I use the garlic in this smooshed state, but if you want you can cut it up a bit too. Continue with remaining cloves.

Put tomatoes and garlic in a bowl, add salt and pepper, and mix with your hand until evenly blended.

Place tomatoes and garlic in a single layer on a baking pan and bake in a 350-degree oven for 10 minutes until juicy and colored on the edges.

Remove from oven and place tomatoes and garlic back in the bowl.

Wash the salt off of your eggplant and pat dry. Cut sliced eggplant into ¼ inch chunks. Place eggplant in a single layer on baking pan and bake in 350-degree oven for 15 minutes until lightly brown, may flip once mid way through.

Cut slices of crusty bread in half and toast in toaster oven. Do this while the eggplant cooks.

Add cooked eggplant into the bowl with the tomatoes and garlic. Mix well.

Serve with toasted bread.

My mom suggested dressing bruschetta bites with balsamic vinegar. I put it out so people could serve themselves, and the balsamic vinegar was a big hit.

Marathon Month!

4 Aug

Kate and I have just agreed to the challenge of writing a blog post everyday for the month of August!

This month we plan to post more recipes, write some restaurant reviews, write about nutrition, and tell some personal stories.

What do you want to read about? I’d love some feedback.

-Kerri

What To Do About Cookouts

4 Aug

So far my family has tried to be accommodating about my new vegan lifestyle. Mike’s sister, Beth, has gone out of her way to cook me meat free sauce at a family pasta dinner, and at her barbeque she grilled veggies before the meat went on the gill (so thoughtful). However it is ultimately up to me to make sure there are vegan options.

Mike’s youngest sister, Sarah, graduated from high school this year, and the family celebrated with a pool party cookout. Most cookout food is just grilled meat, and if there is a veggie it’s mostly mayo potato salad, or bacon fat beans. I decided it would be best to bring something to ensure I didn’t spent the day eating empty hot dog buns just in case.

I had a few cucumbers from my CSA and not a lot of other ingredients, so I decided to make cucumber salad, and to bring enough for everyone. That way when everyone eats it and tells me how good it is I can see the looks on their faces when I say “and it’s vegan too”. So congratulations to Sarah for graduation high school, and congratulations to me for whipping up an awesome summertime side dish!

Cool Cookout Cucumber Salad:

notes:

  • I didn’t measure any of the ingredients, just keep tasting it til it’s awesome.
  • For milk I used Almond Breeze original unsweetened almond milk, but you can use whatever milk you have handy
  • A lemon could be used instead of the lime. I only had limes at the time and it ended up pairing quite well with the cucumbers believe it or not.
  • I used about 4 cucumbers, for variety I cut them all into small chunks but not uniform size, just smallish.
  • I also varied how much peel I left on each cucumber, this added dimension to the flavor, look, and texture of the dish.

Summertime Lunch

3 Aug

Today’s lunch:

Meredith Farms Vegan Veggie Burger with ketchup, mustard and pickles on a light wheat bun

Olivia’s Organics baby romaine

Organic red bell pepper

Local, organic cucumber I received in my CSA pick-up yesterday

Organic salad dressing

I need to find some good, organic hamburger buns. Any suggestions?

~Kate