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September 2015

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.)


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.

•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.
  • 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! 

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!