Carrot hot dogs?! Yup. My review of Kathy Hester's new book The Easy Vegan Cookbook

Disclosure: I received Kathy Hester's book the Easy Vegan Cookbook for my honest review. Easy Vegan
You guys know I'm not a vegan.  I like to think of myself as an equal opportunity food processing unit.  But I have to admit, I love me some vegetables.  And I love it even more when foods look like, smell like, and taste like other foods.  

Like, on April Fools Day, I like to trick my kids by putting little Cheerios on a plate and telling them I accidentally spilled some sort of shrinking potion on them.  They don't buy it at all, but it makes me laugh anyway.  (They are 7 and 11.  If they bought that, I might have to go back to parenting school.)

Anyway... 

In Kathy Hester's new cookbook, The Easy Vegan Cookbook, she's got some really cool vegan recipes that are perfect for those times when you want to try something new, but not ALL the way new... like Cauliflower Po' Boy Sandwiches, and  Spiced Pumpkin-Cashew Cream Chez, and my favorite - All-Natural Carrot Hot Dogs.   Carrot hot dog

But the Easy Vegan Cookbook isn't all just swap-out-meat-for-vegetables recipes.  There are so many delicious looking plant-based recipes that are EASY to make.  I mean it.  So whether you are just starting a vegan lifestyle, just want to add some more great vegetable recipes into your diet, or have been a vegan for a million years, the Easy Vegan Cookbook is a refreshing take on healthy cooking.  There are sections on how to stock your pantry and your freezer to make everyday cooking easier.  Each recipe lists adaptations to make each one fit into restricted or special diets.  It also lists some items that non-vegans may be unaware of that when added to your kitchen will help make cooking a bit easier.  (Butler's Soy Curls..?  Never heard of them until reading this book!)

I'm sure you've been sitting on the edge of your seat ever since reading the words Carrot Hot Dog, so without further ado: Here is Kathy Hester's recipe for All Natural Carrot Hot Dogs from her awesome The Easy Vegan Cookbook.

ALL-NATURAL CARROT DOGS
•gluten-free •soy-free •oil-free option*
 
A carrot is the same shape as a hot dog and close enough in color to make a decent substitute. But what about the taste? I promise you, this marinade really takes it to the next level. I think the sesame oil helps, but the vinegar gives it that “cured” flavor, too.
 
SERVES 4
  • 4 carrots, cut into bun lengths
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) seasoned rice vinegar (or apple cider vinegar and a dash of salt)
  • ¼ cup (60 ml) water
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) sesame oil (*leave out)
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) coconut aminos (can substitute soy sauce; use unseasoned vinegar)
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder (or ½ clove garlic, minced)
  • ¼ teaspoon liquid smoke
  • Pepper, to taste
  • Toasted hot dog bun, lettuce or collard leaves, to serve.  
Heat water in a pot large enough for all the carrots. When it comes to a boil, turn down to medium heat and add the carrots. Cook until you can just pierce them through with a fork; you want them to have a snap when you bite into them.  Remove from pot and run cold water over them to stop them from cooking.
In a container with a tight-fitting lid, combine the remaining ingredients to make the marinade. Tighten the lid and shake until well mixed.
Place the carrots in a container in which they can lie flat. Pour the marinade over them and marinate at least 3 to 4 hours, up to 24. The longer they marinate, the more vinegar flavor they take on. If you know you need to leave them longer than a day, cut the vinegar to ⅛ cup (30 ml). If the carrots are very skinny, keep the marinating time short.
To serve, heat the carrots in a 350°F (177°C) oven, or in a grill pan on a hot grill, until heated through, 10 to 15 minutes.
Serve in a toasted hot dog bun or wrapped in a lettuce or collard leaf, and pile on your favorite toppings.
 
TIP from Kathy: You can cook these in your slow cooker in the marinade. You need to check on them so they do not get mushy, so it is not a set-it-and-walk-away affair. Cook until a fork just goes through the carrot but it is still slightly firm.  
 
Here's a pic of what mine looked like! 
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PS: These are SERIOUSLY good.  I was skeptical.  I'm not going to lie.  I was afraid they would taste like I put a carrot on a hot dog bun.  But they honestly didn't!  They were great!  I am going to make them again and again.  My daughter loved them too and even asked for them for dinner tonight!

If you'd like to purchase the book using my affiliate link below, that would be awesome.  Of course, you don't have to use my link, but I would surely appreciate it.  Either way, I recommend getting the book.  It rocks!

 


Roasted Italian red pepper and garlic marinated chicken - CSA recipe for late summer

I love my CSA. You know that by now. I really can't say enough wonderful things about it.  If you have the ability to join one in your area, you really REALLY should.  And if you're in MY area, you should check out the farm I've been going to for the season: The Sea Salt CSA at B & B Farms.  The season is still going strong and I'm still amazed at the bounty I bring home every week.  

I love being given specific ingredients and using them to come up with meals my family will eat.  It makes it so much easier for me when I'm given fewer choices.  (Just ask my husband what it's like dining with me in a restaurant that has an extensive menu.)  Every week, I can plan my meals according to that week's crops which makes my brain happy.

The past few weeks, there has been a huge harvest of peppers of every size, shape, color, and level of spiciness.  My favorites have been the long gorgeous red Italian peppers that look like they should be in the movies.  They are delicious cooked into cacciatore or stuffed with meats and vegetables or even eaten raw.  

This week, I roasted a bunch of those beautiful red peppers to store for the winter.  **If you've never roasted a pepper, it's seriously so easy.  Just put as many as you would like in a single layer  on a broiler pan close to the flame in the broiler until the skin turns black and blistery.  Be sure you turn the peppers to get all sides.  It takes about 15 minutes total.  Then take them out and drop them into a paper bag and close it for about 10 minutes.  Using the back of a knife, scrape off the black skin and cut the peppers in half.  Scrape out the ribs and seeds and you're all done. You can store them in the fridge packed in olive oil for a few weeks, but for longer storage just lay them between wax paper in a sealed container in the freezer.**

I saved one roasted pepper to use for dinner tonight.  I had taken out chicken drumsticks and thought I'd try to marinate them with some sort of roasted pepper/garlic/herb marinade.  This is what I came up with:  IMG_7040

Roasted Italian Red Pepper and Garlic Marinated Chicken

  • 1 roasted red pepper (or about 1/3 cup if you have chopped)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp dried sage
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • salt to taste
  • 8 chicken drumsticks

Blend all the above ingredients (except the drumsticks, of course) in your food processor or blender until smooth.  Pour over chicken drumsticks and let marinate for at least 4 hours in the fridge turning every couple hours to make sure everything is coated.

Grill chicken on medium grill (450° surface temp) turning frequently until internal temp is 185° (about 30 minutes).  And let me know what you think!

 

 

 


Mini Eggplant Rollatini Bites: CSA recipe for mid summer

If you are into buying produce that is in season or if you're part of a local CSA you probably notice that now is the time for eggplant in the northeastern states.  I love eggplant so much and would eat it every day if I could.  Luckily, right now I can.  So I do.  A lot.

This year, I got a few of those skinny Chinese eggplants in my share, and didn't know what to do with them.  I looked up some recipes but none of them were exactly what I wanted.  But then my husband said, "Why don't you fry them up like you would regular eggplant and use them as dippers?"  That sounded absolutely perfect.  But of course, I had to take it a step further and make them even prettier.  So I came up with these little Eggplant Rollatini bites that I think would be absolutely perfect for your next get together with friends!   Mini eggplant

Eggplant Rollatini Bites

  • 6 skinny Chinese eggplants cut into thin rounds (about 1/4 inch)
  • salt
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 eggs- beaten
  • 1 cup Italian breadcrumbs places in a large sealable plastic bag
  • 1 quart frying oil
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1/2- 1 cup your favorite marinara sauce
  • 10 basil leaves

Prepare your eggplant by salting the rounds generously and letting them sit for about 1/2 hour until the moisture is pulled to the top.  Rinse off the salt and pat the eggplant dry between paper towels giving them a good squeeze to get as much liquid out as possible.  Heat your oil in a deep pan to about 375­°.

Toss the rounds in the flour shaking off any excess. Dip into beaten eggs shaking off excess.  Then add the coated rounds to the bag of bread crumbs and shake them until coated.

Fry the rounds in batches in the oil until golden about 4 minutes.  Drain on paper towels until cool enough to handle.  Layer one round with a dollop of ricotta, another round, a drizzle of marinara, and a small basil leaf.  If your basil leaves are large, just cut them into slivers to use on each bite.

 I actually served these as a meal last night with some pasta and the leftover marinara sauce.  In fact, I think I might go have the leftovers for lunch right now... 


Super overstuffed peppers : CSA recipe of the week

I love naturally colorful food.  I try to incorporate as many different colors into each meal as possible.  I feel like every color is a different nutrient.  I don't know if that's accurate, but as far as I'm concerned it's enough to make me feel good.  The other night I made some super stuffed peppers using all the colorful veg I got from my CSA share.  In fact, they were so stuffed they overflowed.  So I'm calling them: Overstuffed peppers

Super Overstuffed Peppers

 

    • 1 large pot of boiling water
    • 4 green bell peppers- keep 3 whole and mince half of the 4th)
    • 1 lb 85% lean ground beef
    • 1/2 cup cooked rice
    • 1 clove garlic- minced
    • 1 small carrot- minced
    • 1 zucchini - minced
    • 1 small yellow squash- minced
    • 1/2 cup corn kernels
    • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
    • salt & pepper to taste
    • 1/2 cup prepared salsa 

 

Preheat the oven to 375°. Place the 3 whole green peppers into the pot of boiling water to blanch them for about 4 minutes.  Remove them and let them cool slightly then cut them in half lengthwise removing the seeds and stems.  Place the halves cut side up in a deep baking dish.  In a large pan, Brown the meat along with the minced garlic.  Add all the remaining ingredients (except the salsa) to the pan and mix together.  Spoon the mixture into the pepper halves and top each with a bit of the salsa.  Bake for about 30 minutes and enjoy.

Sorry the picture isn't all that great, but we were hungry.  I wasn't waiting around to get any better shots!  Hope you like it.


Blueberry, Yellow Squash, Zucchini, and Carrot Confetti Cake with Lemon Glaze AKA: this week's CSA recipe

The last few days I have seen a picture floating around the interwebs of a gorgeous layer cake containing blueberries, zucchini, and butter cream frosting.  I found the recipe on iambaker.net.  I wanted to try it, but when I went into the fridge I noticed that I had to move all the yellow squash and carrots out of the way to get to the zucchini and blueberries.  Instead of putting those extra veggies back in the fridge, I decided that incorporating them into my own version of a similar cake might not be a bad idea.  I loved the idea of all those natural colors mingling around together.  

I had the thought that all those veggies might make the cake a bit dense, so I figured instead of a layer cake, I'd make a bundt cake.  

And guess what?  I didn't have any butter to make buttercream frosting.  I know, I know.  You're SHOCKED to find out that I was out of an ingredient.  But I thought the frosting might be a little heavy anyway, so I opted to make a glaze instead.  

Well, ever since yesterday when I made my cake, I haven't eaten anything BUT that cake.  It's so soft and delicious I really don't want to share.  But I will share the recipe.  Here ya go. Confetti cake

Blueberry, Yellow Squash, Zucchini, and Carrot Confetti Cake

with Lemon Glaze

  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • seeds from one vanilla bean
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 small zucchinis, 2 small yellow squashes, 1 carrot- grated or finely processed in your food processor.  Drain as much liquid out as possible.
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup blueberries

Lemon glaze

  • 3/4 cup confectioner's sugar
  • 1-2 Tbsp lemon juice

Preheat oven to 350°.  Grease a bundt pan.  Lightly beat the eggs.  Add the oil, vanilla, and sugar.  Once mixed, stir in the drained zucchini, squash, and carrots.  In a separate bowl sift together the dry ingredients (flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder).  Slowly stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients.  Once fully incorporated, fold in the blueberries.  Pour the batter into the bundt pan and let it bake in the 350° oven for 50-60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Let the cake cool in the pan for about 10 minutes and then carefully flip it onto a plate.  Let it cool for about 1/2 hour.  Make your glaze by mixing the confectioner's sugar with the lemon juice and drizzle it over the top of the cake.  Voila! Delicious.  Confetti cake 1

Now, I don't like "sneaking" vegetables in anything.  I normally like to be straightforward about the ingredients I'm using in anything I make.  But I know that it might be easier to get a picky eater to eat cake laced with vegetables if they don't know they are there.  If you want to try this cake with your kids, I suggest maybe peeling a bit of the squash skin off and grinding the veg up as small as possible and to lessen the veggie taste a bit.  Because while it is a very slight taste, you can taste the vegetables a bit.  I personally love that flavor, and hope you will give it a try! IMG_6630


CSA recipe for mid-summer: Cornish Pasties

Growing up in Wharton, NJ, we had the best little locally known shop called Rocky's where you could get these awesome little meat and potato filled pies called pasties (pronounced "pass-tees", not "paste-ees").  Rocky's is still there, but I'm not.  Even though my mom sometimes still brings me a pasty or two when she visits, I find myself craving them more often.  I love their flaky exterior and slightly peppery taste once you get to the insides.  So I came up with my own south Jersey version using turnips I got from my CSA last week.  They are pretty easy to make and so tasty.  I love them with some ketchup and a side salad.  My version is a bit "rustic" and isn't very neat, but I sort of love that about them. Pasties

Cornish Pasties

  • 1 prepared recipe of pie crust large enough for 2-crust pie 
  • 1 pound 85% lean ground beef
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 1 large potato chopped
  • 2 small turnips chopped
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 2 Tbsp butter divided into six pieces

Preheat oven to 400°.  Separate prepared pie crust into 6 equal pieces and roll into circles about 1/4 inch thick.  Stir together ground beef, onion, potatoes, turnips, salt and pepper in a bowl.  I use my hands to make sure everything is equally distributed.  Divide the mixture between each circle of pie crust and fold each over to form a small half circle pocket.  Seal the edges of each little pasty and place them on a cookie sheet.  Make a small slit on top of each and place a small piece of butter in each slit.  Bake at 400° for 50-60 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let them sit for a few minutes to cool and then remove from the pan.  

They freeze very well, too!  Just wrap up the cooled pasties in foil and place in a bag in the freezer.  Reheat by placing the foil wrapped pasties in a 350° oven for about 20 minutes.

 


Super Simple Roasted Root Vegetables - CSA recipe for early summer

Seriously.  This is so easy and sooooo good.  I don't know what else to say.  Just try it.

Roasted root veg

Roasted Root Vegetables

  • 3 small beets
  • 1 large potato
  • 5 small carrots
  • 5 small turnips
  • 2 cloves unpeeled garlic
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • 1 sprig sage- leaves separated
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Salt

 Preheat the oven to 400°.  Cut all vegetables except the garlic into pieces that are about the same size.  Place into a roasting pan along with the unpeeled garlic, rosemary, and sage.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt to taste.  Toss to coat.  Roast for 45 minutes stirring the veg occasionally.

Delicious!

 


Garlic Scape Pesto Primavera - A CSA recipe for late spring/early summer

Scapes
Have you ever woken up with a certain taste craving in the morning and then thought about it all day hoping that you have the ability to pull it off in a dinner recipe that night?  Me too.  And I am happy to say I think I pulled it off with this one.  

When I picked up my last CSA share, it consisted of more garlic scapes (not snakes, as my kids like to call them), radishes, turnips, lettuce, zucchini, yellow squash, cucumbers, arugula, Chinese cabbage, herbs, flowers, and more peas.  I brought my mother-in-law with me this time to pick blueberries, too, which she promptly turned into the best blueberry pie in the world.

But that craving I had was for something garlicky, something vegetable-y, and it included pasta.  So I looked up how to make garlic scape pesto and found the perfect recipe from the Creekside Cook (although I used walnuts instead of pine nuts simply because that's what I had on hand) which I used to make this primavera pasta dish.  

It turned out absolutely PERFECT, in my opinion.  Hope you like it.

Garlic scape pesto

 Garlic Scape Pesto Primavera

  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 pound thin spaghetti uncooked
  • 1/4 cup onion sliced thin
  • 1 each small zucchini, small yellow squash, large carrot all julienned
  • 1/2 cup fresh shucked peas (save the husks for a stir fry or other recipe)
  • 1/4 cup Garlic Scape Pesto (or regular pesto)
  • splash of whole milk
  • salt & pepper

Place butter and oil in a large deep pan and turn on medium.  Break spaghetti noodles in half and add them to the pan tossing to coat with butter and oil.  Let them get slightly toasted and then add all the vegetables.  Saute over medium high heat until the vegetables are softened.  Add ladles full of chicken broth, sitrring constantly like you would with risotto, allowing the noodles to absorb the liquid between each addition.  Stop adding liquid when the noodles are al dente. Remove from heat and stir in the pesto and a splash of milk and add salt & pepper to taste.

I served this to my kids with some crusty bread and they both said it was their favorite meal yet!  Score!


CSA recipe for late spring: Beef & vegetable lettuce cups with kohlrabi salad

So I joined a CSA this year through our local B&B Farms in Egg Harbor, NJ.  Last Wednesday was my first pick up ever and let me tell you something. I am in LOVE.  I can remember not even knowing what CSA stood for a couple years ago - it stands for Community Supported Agriculture-  and now it is my favorite thing in the world.  If you have the opportunity to become a part of a CSA and pick up fresh produce every week, I have two words for you: DO IT.

I picked up the most beautiful veg I have ever seen.  3 heads of lettuce, a bunch of beets, 2 heads of kohlrabi, a bunch of garlic scapes, a pint of arugula, 2 bunches of kale, and we picked 2 pints of snap peas ourselves.  I immediately started thinking of how to use these beauties.  The next night, we came up with some lettuce cups.  They were so good, I wanted to share the recipe in case you were looking for something to do with YOUR share this week. Lettuce cups

 

 Beef & Vegetable Lettuce Cups with Kohlrabi Salad

  • 1 head hohlrabi cut into thin matchsticks
  • 1 1/2 carrots- 1 carrot cut into matchsticks, 1/2 carrot diced
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1 lb ground beef (I used 85% lean)
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1 small red onion diced
  • about 10 snap peas diced
  • 1 garlic scape diced
  • 1/2 green bell pepper diced
  • 1/4 c soy sauce*
  • 1 to 2 Tbsp sriracha sauce
  • 1 Tbsp honey*
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • one head  lettuce, leaves separated
  • sesame seeds as garnish
  • *Make it Whole 30 compliant by using coconut aminos instead of soy sauce and eliminating the honey

For the salad:

Toss the kohlrabi and carrot matchsticks (save diced carrot) in a bowl with the sugar and rice vinegar.  Set aside.

Cup filling:

Add the ground beef, garlic, onion, snap peas, garlic scape, diced carrot, and peppers to a medium high pan and cook until meat is brown.  If you're using a leaner beef, you might want to add a small bit of oil to the pan.  In a small bowl, mix together the soy, sriracha, honey and ginger.  Pour over meat mixture and heat until warm.  

Assembly:

To assemble the lettuce cups, place two leaves on a plate.  Add about 1/2 cup meat mixture and about 1/4 cup kohlrabi salad to the top.  Garnish with sesame seeds and YUM! Just pick them up like you would a taco.  

 

 

 


What to make with those leftover Chinese food condiment packets

If you're like me, you just hate throwing away food stuff for no reason.  Whenever we order Chinese food, we end up with about 6 million extra little packets of duck sauce, 4 billion packets of soy sauce, and about infinity packets of hot mustard that I just KNOW can be used for something.  So yesterday I surveyed the packets we had accumulating on the kitchen counter from the past few order-out days and came up with a couple marinades and sauces for ya. Condiment collage

First, I used a few packets of mustard, duck sauce and soy to create a marinade for chicken which I skewered with broccoli and onions to grill.  

Next, I made a ginger and sesame marinade for some beef cubes using a couple more packets of soy and mustard.  I skewered them with some mushrooms, peppers and onions and grilled them too!

Finally, I made a ginger soy dipping sauce for the beef skewers and a honey mustard dipping sauce for the chicken skewers.

Of course, you can go out and buy these ingredients, but if you already have these packets laying around they can save you some money!

 

Sweet and hot mustard chicken and broccoli skewers

with honey mustard dipping sauce Chicken skewers

  • 6 10 inch bamboo skewers soaked in water
  • 3 packets* Chinese hot mustard
  • 2 packets* duck sauce
  • 1 packet* soy sauce
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar (or white vinegar if rice vinegar isn't available)
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 crown broccoli cut into florets and slightly steamed
  • 1 onion cut into wedges
  • melted butter for basting

Add condiment packets, vinegar, and garlic to a large plastic bag or sealable container.  Add the chicken cubes and toss to coat.  Marinate for at least 2 hours.  Poke alternating chicken and vegetables onto the soaked skewers and grill for about 15 minutes, turning and basting with butter every 4 minutes.

To make dipping sauce:

Mix together 3 packets of hot mustard, 1 tsp honey, 1/4 cup mayonnaise, and 1 Tbsp either coconut water or regular water.

Sesame beef and vegetable skewers

with sesame soy dipping sauce Sesame beef

 

    • 6 10 inch bamboo skewers soaked in water
    • 3 packets of soy sauce
    • 1 packet of hot mustard
    • 1/2 tsp sesame oil
    • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
    • 1/8 tsp ground ginger
    • 1 tsp rice vinegar (or white vinegar)
    • 1 clove minced garlic
    • 1 lb 1 inch beef cubes (sirloin works great)
    • 6-10 button mushrooms
    • 1 onion cut into wedges
    • 1 green bell pepper cut into 1 inch pieces
    • melted butter for basting

Add condiment packets, sesame oil, vinegar, lemon juice, and garlic to a large plastic bag or sealable container.  Add the beef cubes and toss to coat.  Marinate for at least 2 hours.  Poke alternating beef and vegetables onto the soaked skewers and grill for about 15 minutes, turning and basting with butter every 4 minutes.

For the sauce:

Mix together 3 packets of soy sauce, 1/8 tsp ground ginger, and toss in a few sesame seeds for fun.

 *Each packet contains about 8 grams (or 1.6 tsp) of each condiment.

I served these skewers with a blend of different rices and the whole family really enjoyed them.  Hope you do, too!

Do you have any good uses for all those leftover packets? I'd love to hear them!

Also, this is not a sponsored post.  These pictures represent the brands I have in my pantry right now.