Monday, May 2, 2016

Sparkling, Spicy Fruit Snack

What sweet, spicy, and sparkling new thing should you try this week? Our favorite new snack, that's what! There's nothing more refreshing or fun to eat than this layered fruit cup. You can sip it and crunch it. It's a spicy soda and a refreshing fruit cup rolled into one. It's got tropical fruit, honey roasted peanuts, dates, and it's topped off with a homemade syrup of honey, raspberries, and a little cayenne. 

We've modeled it after the Mexican tradition of eating fruit with lime and chili pepper, but the best version in Memphis is at a cool place called Las Jarochos on Summer, and the many times we've ordered it there inspired us to make one at home. You should stop by there soon, too! Just go ask Carlos Pavon for 'The Tornado' and thank us later.  

We were assigned to try out and write about the ice cream shop last June, and it amazed us. We've been back to visit often since then. We make our own version at home using local honey and raspberries in place of the traditional chamoy, a sweet and spicy Mexican condiment used mainly as a dip for fruit. Oh, and Happy Cinco De Mayo on Thursday!

Sparkling, Spicy Fruit Snack

1 personal-sized, seedless watermelon (cubed, rind discarded)
1 small jicama (peeled, cubed)
2 large mangos (peeled, cubed)
1 medium pineapple (peeled, cored, cubed)
1 medium English cucumber (cubed)
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
4-8 dried medjool dates
1 cup honey roasted peanuts
Spicy Spicy Raspberry Honey (recipe follows)
2 12-ounce cans sparkling water
6 strawberries

Once all the fruit is cut and chilled, sprinkle the fruit cubes with the Kosher salt. This will wake up the flavor. Simply layer in the cubed watermelon, jicama, mango, pineapple, and cucumber into a quart-sized jar. This recipe makes about 2 to 3 quart jars or 3 to 5 pint jars. Thread two or three dates onto each drinking straw and place one in each jar. Top each jar with 1/4 cup of honey-roasted peanuts. Top that with a generous spoonful or two of Spicy Raspberry Honey. Top that off with sparkling water, garnish the rim with strawberries, and grab a fork. (Serves 2.)

Spicy Raspberry Honey Syrup

1/2 cup lime juice (from 4 to 5 medium limes)

1/2 cup honey
1/4 teaspoon cayenne 
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 cup raspberries

Into the work bowl of your food processor, place the lime juice, honey, cayenne, Kosher salt and raspberries. Blend until smooth. Set aside until ready to use. (Makes 1 1/4 cups.)

Monday, April 25, 2016

Picking Strawberries

On Sunday, we went to the Jones Orchard pick-your-own-strawberries patch by the Agricenter and Shelby Farms here in Memphis, and we picked a $5 quart and got the inside scoop that there will be more ripe strawberries mid-week. People have been hitting the fields pretty hard on the weekend, so be strategic, pack your pickin' shoes in the car, and head over after work one afternoon. They're open every day from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. We wanted to share a few pretty pics with you to kick off the week! We also learned a new trick from the internets that involves hulling a strawberry with, yes, a straw. Now it's time to make some strawberry beverages, hand pies, and jam. Go!

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

It's National Grilled Cheese Day!

Thank you to the International Housewares Association for partnering with us on this blog post! We were compensated for our time and were thrilled to be able to keep the products we used in creating new recipes for the accompanying article. As usual, all opinions expressed are our own. 

It's National Grilled Cheese Day! Of course we wrote about it and included some new TCV recipes for you to try. Check out our new post on the IHA Inspired Home blog HERE. 

The inspiration for a grilled cheese party came to us after we were invited to dinner at our good friends' house earlier this year. It was so much fun to see all the options for bread and fillings and such on the table and choose how we'd  build our sandwiches. (Yeah, we all secretly thought we each made the BEST one, and we weren't shy about telling that to the group!)

Our IHA post features three new waffle maker grilled cheese recipes that we trotted out last week at our house for a 3-sandwich extravaganza of a weeknight dinner (a dessert sandwich is included, of course!). 

We love it when people cook for us, and we love it when our friends share what they like to make for dinner. If you have any favorite dinners that you'd like us to try here on the blog, let us know in the comments section below!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Sweet Potato, Kale, & Black Bean Enchiladas

Enchiladas are easily a once-a-week deal at our house, so it's strange that in the 8 years (wow!) we've been writing The Chubby Vegetarian blog, we've never shared a single recipe for them. It's unexplainable. It may be a good thing, though, because over the years, we've simplified the process and amplified the flavor. This recipe is great just like it is, but feel free to swap out the black beans for refried beans or the sweet potato for mushrooms or the cheddar for goat cheese. There are so many great combinations out there, and we usually just make our enchiladas with what we have on hand.

How very easy these are to make! The cool thing is that the recipe makes a ton, so you're sure to have leftovers (which is kind of our favorite part). These are perfect for breakfast with a fried egg on top, and there's nothing like finding something this delicious in your freezer for a weekday dinner when you're worn out and only have the energy to reheat something, slice an avocado, and pile on the Greek yogurt and hot sauce.

Sweet Potato, Kale, & Black Bean Enchiladas

Chipotle Enchilada Sauce (recipe follows)
1 tablespoon olive oil 
1 medium sweet potato (peeled and diced, about 2 cups)
1/2 medium red onion (diced, about 1 cup)
2 heaping cups de-stemmed, finely chopped kale 
1 teaspoon cumin
1 13.4-ounce box of black beans
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar 
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)

8 small corn tortillas (warmed) 
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

+ Optional toppings like Greek yogurt, chopped avocado, cilantro, sliced radish, chopped green onion, and Mexican hot sauce.

Make Chipotle Enchilada Sauce according to the recipe and keep warm in a saucepan until ready to assemble the enchiladas. 
In a large skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil and the diced sweet potato. Cook, stirring often, until sweet potato has softened and is beginning to brown (about 10 minutes). Add the onion and cook until it starts to soften. This will be about 5 minutes. Add the kale, cumin, black beans, and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir and cover until heated through and the kale has wilted, about 6 minutes. 

Preheat the oven to 350. 
Into a 9 x 12 casserole dish, add 3/4 cup of Chipotle Enchilada Sauce and spread it around the bottom in a thin layer. Lay the tortillas out on the counter and divide 1 1/2 cups of the cheese among them while reserving the rest to sprinkle on top. Divide the filling among the tortillas; each tortilla will get about 1/4 cup. Roll tortillas and place seam-side down into the casserole dish. Repeat until all tortillas are wrapped. Top with the remaining Chipotle Enchilada Sauce and cheese. Bake for 20 minutes or until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese has melted

Serve topped however you'd like. We love Greek yogurt and chopped avocado, but there's no reason to stop there. Feel free to add cilantro, sliced radish, chopped green onion, or Mexican hot sauceThe leftovers can be placed in a lidded container and frozen for an easy and delicious weeknight dinner. (Makes 4 servings.)

Chipotle Enchilada Sauce

1 large can diced fire-roasted tomatoes 
1 clove garlic
1 chipotle pepper (from a can)
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar

Into a blender or food processor, place the tomatoes,  garlic, chipotle pepper, and sherry vinegar. Blend until smooth. In a saucepan over medium heat, warm the Chipotle Enchilada Sauce through and then turn off the heat. This can be made ahead of time and refrigerated up to 5 days or frozen up to 6 months.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Pimento Cheese Style Carrot Spread

The idea of replacing the cheddar cheese in our pimento cheese with shredded carrots has been with us for a while. I mean, shredded carrots look exactly like shredded cheddar, but who would ever think they could play the part? Back in 2014, a version of this dish got our friend Kelly R.'s seal of approval (which isn't the easiest thing to come by). However, we know that if Kelly likes it, then everyone likes it. It wasn't until recently that we decided to try this recipe with not some, but all of the cheddar replaced by carrots. Whoa! It takes the pimento cheese form and makes it into something familiar yet different and, dare we say, better.

The sweetness of the carrots plays nicely with the acidity of the pickled peppers while the creamy goat cheese and mayo add that old familiar richness. The idea here, as with a lot of our cooking, is to use vegetables in unexpected and exciting ways in order to motivate all of us to eat them more often. The result is a lightened-up pimento cheese that has a ton of flavor and a great texture.  

Pimento Cheese Style Carrot Spread

2 cups shredded carrots
3 ounces soft goat cheese
1/4 cup mayo 
1/2 cup finely diced pickled peppers (We like the marinated sweet peppers you can find on almost any olive bar, but actual pimentos are great, too.)
1/4 teaspoon champagne vinegar
1/8 cup minced shallot*
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt

Place the carrots into a microwave-safe bowl and cover the bowl with a dinner plate. Microwave for 1 1/2 minutes. Uncover -- be careful not to let the steam burn you! -- and allow the carrots to cool. Mix the carrots, goat cheese, mayo, peppers, vinegar, shallot, black pepper, and salt until incorporated. It's as simple as that. Refrigerate and allow the flavors to meld for at least an hour for best results. 

*Mince the shallot then place it into a mesh strainer. You'll only need about a tablespoon. Run the minced shallot under cold water for a few seconds. This will take away any raw onion flavor and keep the shallot from overpowering the dish.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

The First Saturday of the Memphis Farmers Market 2016

It definitely feels more like spring now that market season is here! We set out early-ish this past Saturday to check out the opening day of the Memphis Farmers Market downtown, and though it was pretty cold out, the deals on vegetables were, you know, rather hot. A bunch of stuff besides winter greens is suddenly available now, stuff we thought we could work with this weekend to create an entire dish. We'd settled on making a frittata on Sunday with a little side salad, so we bought kale, eggs, spring onions, beets, carrots, French breakfast radishes, basil, a mix of micro greens, and Camembert. First, we made a pretty radish appetizer we'll share here this week.

It was great to see friends and catch up, to feel everyone's excitement about winter ending and new opportunities to shop for ingredients popping up. It's about time for something new to look forward to, and now we're dreaming of tomatoes and peaches for sure.

We know we'll try to hit the Memphis Botanic Gardens Farmers Market on Wednesday, April 27, its opening day, and stop by the Agricenter market in May. We also love that the Cooper-Young Community Farmers Market is year-round on Saturdays, and we'll be sure to report back on it soon this month!

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

TCV Visits Little Rock, Arkansas

We've been wanting to visit this wonderful place right outside of Little Rock for such a long time, and we finally made our way there on Easter Sunday. Today, we're still thinking about all of the beautiful gardens, the amazing meal, and the wonderful hospitality we enjoyed at P. Allen Smith's Moss Mountain Farm! If you're thinking about your next trip to the South, or wondering where to go for your next quick getaway if it happens that you already live around here, we think fitting in a jaunt to a workshop or tour there would amaze you, too.

We stopped in Little Rock and stayed at the Capital Hotel on Saturday. We arrived in running clothes, which may have raised an eyebrow or two—there was a fancy wedding taking place later that evening and we sort of really didn't match that particular aestheticbut we laughed about it and immediately set out exploring downtown and getting in some miles.

Our first choice for dinner was Three Fold; we had a slightly hazy recognition of it due to a recent article in this magazine, but the guy at the counter reminded us where we'd seen it when we asked him about it. We ordered everything on the menu and went with the vegetarian option for each dish. It was just 3 things, really: the Noodle Bowl, Dumpling Bowl, and Steamed Bun, all with seasoned tofu and seasonal veg, and we loved all of them. We walked back through downtown a couple of times, walked the Junction Bridge, and hung out at the park for a while to take in the sunset.

The next day, we woke up early to drive to one of the places our friends Kyle and Petya recommended from their last Arkansas trip, Mylo Coffee Co. They had mochi doughnuts, gluten-free and made with rice flourhow amazing, chewy, and different! We also tried a cheese croissant, which was like cheese straws times a million. What they're baking at Mylo blew us away with its creativity and playfulness. Their pour-over coffee and cortado were exactly what we needed. After quick stops at a little promenade overlooking a nature trail and then the Capitol, we were ready to get to the countryside and see what was in store for us at Moss Mountain Farm.

Little Rock was so much fun, and there are plenty of vegetarian options in town. It came across as a vibrant and forward-thinking place, and spring was exploding there when we visited. Pretty nice that's it's only a couple of hours from our house in Memphis, Tennessee.

So, let us know in the comments if you're interested in us sharing more about upcoming short trips with you soon! We've been thinking of including more travel stuff on TCV since we've discovered a new love of making plans to get away now. We like the kind of one-night, two-day vacations where you don't have time to put off anything, and we find that it's always good to get recommendations in order to figure out the vegetarian angle ahead of time.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Our Visit to P. Allen Smith's Moss Mountain Farm (And All About Our Upcoming New Cookbook!)

Earlier this year, we decided to plan to visit Moss Mountain Farm for a tour and their first-ever Easter brunch; we'd been talking about going for a while, and finally, we made it happen. Looking forward to the trip to Little Rock on Saturday and then driving 40 minutes or so outside of the city on Sunday to where the farm is located got us to thinking. We have a great deal of respect for what Moss Mountain Farm founder P. Allen Smith is doing to shine a light on Southern agriculture and the importance of conservation, and we learned so much during our visit this past weekend.

Our journey started two years ago when Allen and his awesome crew came to our house in East Memphis and filmed two cooking segments with us (our Grilled Watermelon and Tomato Salad with Honey-Lime Vinaigrette was featured and also our Mushroom Tamales). Allen conducted a radio interview with us in our living room, and pretty much made sure that crazy-fun summer day in 2014 was one for the memory books. Later, we grew ingredients in a container garden for Allen's Patio to Plate Challenge and ended up creating a new dish, Thai-Inspired Green Curry with Eggplant and Peppers with our surprisingly impressive little crops.

Almost two years later, here we are gearing up for our new project, and we're so thrilled to be able to tell you more about it now. The same day this year that we took the leap and signed up to make the trip to Allen's farm, something inspired us. We started dreaming about maybe, possibly asking him to write the foreword for our second cookbook. The new book is set to be released in November 2016 by Susan Schadt Press, and we'll be in some pretty remarkable company there, not to mention having the invaluable gift of Susan's admirable expertise and style as our new editor.

So we crossed our fingers and asked Allen to write the foreword for our new cookbook via email the very day that we made our plans to go to Arkansas. Guess what? He said yes, and now we can't wait to see how it all turns out!

And oh, Moss Mountain -- what an experience we had there this past weekend. Never in early 2016 did we as a couple imagine we'd soon be sitting together silent in the light wind one morning while hearing intermittent rooster crowing and lambs baaaaa-ing as we sat together inside a house made of daffodils. Where we end up sometimes through this serendipitous adventure that's built on our cooking and our writing is quite surprising at times.

The classical planning of Allen's garden with its symmetry, origins in history, and surprising details is one of the most pleasing things we've seen in a very long while. We felt so at peace there and grateful for all the work and vision that goes into such a monumental endeavor. Once we thought we'd been curious and intrepid enough and discovered every corner of the gardens -- upon arrival we'd all been set loose to explore before Easter lunch in the barn, and wow, did everyone love the sense of freedom and trust inherent in that -- someone would ask, Did you see the vegetable garden? Did you see the chickens? And we'd set off to discover more.

That Easter meal, by the way, was spring perfection with dishes made from Allen's cookbook. We made friends with the sweet south Louisiana folks sitting across from us and admired the tiny white dog they brought with them. We enjoyed a magnificent spread of chilled asparagus-potato soup, deviled eggs, sweet and citrusy kale salad, roasted brussels sprouts, mashed sweet potatoes, pecan chess pie, orange-vanilla frosted cake, and slices of spiced carrot bundt. The barn where we had lunch was replete with beautifully set tables, fairy lights, barn doors that were also Dutch doors…yeah, it seemed like something out of a daydream. Being included in the celebration of a place we'd heard so much about for so long from our neighbors and friends made us happy beyond measure.

This is a day that came with an abundance of realization and resolve for us. And also a question: How does one transform a beloved passion into something everyone else can join in to celebrate?

Well, quite an excellent example has been set for us…

"I believe in the transformative power of beauty," Allen remarked in his talk to guests after lunch under a huge oak tree with reaching branches, the tree that's right in front of his house. The two of us recognized ourselves in those words; we glanced at each other. It's something we've appreciated lately more than ever. We both love the beauty of a shared meal, the simpler the better; certain relationships with friends and family that weather all of the unexpected surprises, happy or not so much, that are bound to happen in life; a garden at any stage; the beauty of tapping into our creativity every day; the beauty of love.

So we are writing a new cookbook this year. It's going to have recipes in it from all over the world and reflect more of our usual home cooking, not just our Southern, Memphis roots like we highlighted in our first book, the one that taught us everything we know about writing a cookbook, The Southern Vegetarian. Like last time, we are thrilled to have so much genuine support from people around us and so many folks wishing for us to just absolutely kill it this time around.

We appreciate you reading here, and we hope to make all y'all and everyone who's involved in our new endeavor so very proud later this fall!

Saturday, March 26, 2016

Lunch at Park + Cherry in the Dixon Gallery and Gardens

Acre is one of our favorite places in our neighborhood here in Memphis. It is where we hammered out the details of our first cookbook, The Southern Vegetarian, with our very first editor, where we've celebrated big birthdays and hung out on Saturday date nights, where a family-style meal orchestrated by a bunch of good friends cheered us up during a pretty trying holiday season last year (oh, the fluffy herb biscuits, smoked sunchokes and carrots, Vietnamese pancakes, lotus root chips, and that jar of red, spicy housemade sriracha that we took home, with chef's permission, of course!), and where we've prepped for joint events with Andrew and his awesome, welcoming staff.

All of this is to say how we'd been so looking forward to going to lunch on Friday at the new café created by Wally Joe and Andrew Adams of Acre. It's always fascinating to see the creativity and vision chefs tap into when they try something different. Park + Cherry is a casual, beautifully designed spot inside the Dixon Gallery and Gardens in Memphis, and it just opened this past Tuesday. We ordered at the counter and then browsed in the new shop that 20twelve has created right next door and got to catch up with our aunt who works there. You can choose to sit at one of the tables that circle the counter or settle in at a quieter spot in the hallway / alcove.

Yesterday, we tried the Truffled Pimento Cheese sandwich and the Goat Cheese, Roasted Beets, and Arugula one, Yukon Gold potato salad, Quinoa with Pickle Pear, Cranberries, and Arugula, and oh my, the amazing Triple Chocolate Brownie. Such a gorgeous and fun lunch! All of this and two drinks came to around $40, and though you may just stop by for a quick meal without paying for admission into the museum, we opted to spring for it in order to walk the gardens after lunch. Every year, the two of us try to make it to the Dixon to take in the change of season, and all of this newness made for one of the best adventures we've had so far in 2016.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Kale-Artichoke Dip

After having some baby kale dropped off at our door this week by Amy's dad, who's always got some awesome food growing at his place, Concord Farms out in Slayden, Mississippi, we started thinking about what our new version of spinach-artichoke dip would be. The Lawrence side of our family orders spin-art dip whenever it's on a restaurant's menu, and it's just something that everybody at the table agrees is great.

Feeling inspired by Whitney's Coconut Creamed Greens recipe that we make all the time, we decided it was time to finally make a greens-and-artichoke dip, you know, officially. In the past, we have posted an artichoke dip that we've been making since we were teenagers in Germantown, Tennessee, and we've done Spinach and Artichoke Ravioli.

(This dip with kale is part of our lunch today along with these beauties as we're hanging out in the kitchen and putting together a dessert for a going-away dinner tonight. We'll share what we decided to create for this soon!)

Kale-Artichoke Dip

4 cups loosely packed baby kale
2 tablespoons Kosher salt
3/4 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon Champagne vinegar
1 large egg (beaten)
1 can artichoke hearts (drained, roughly chopped)
1 clove of garlic (chopped or microplaned)
1/4 cup grated parmesan or asiago cheese
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
cracked black pepper (to taste)
Baked Tortilla Chips (recipe follows)

Boil 2 quarts water in a saucepan; add 2 tablespoons of salt. Place the kale in the saucepan to blanch, which takes a minute or two and turns the kale bright green. Remove kale from the pot using a mesh strainer or spider and set it aside to cool.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together the coconut milk, Greek yogurt, vinegar, and egg. Add the artichokes, garlic, parmesan, salt, red pepper flakes, and black pepper. Drain and roughly chop the kale and add it to the bowl. Stir ingredients until well incorporated and pour into a small casserole dish. Bake for 25 minutes or until dip is lightly browned around the edges. Grate some parmesan on top if you like. Serve with Baked Tortilla Chips.

Baked Tortilla Chips

2 sprouted wheat tortillas
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut tortillas into 1/8ths making them into triangles. Lay them out in one layer on a parchment-lined pan. Drizzle with the olive oil and sprinkle with the salt.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

New Ingredient: Mung Bean and Edamame Fettucini

Oh, wow, these are pretty great! This type of bean pasta is starting to pop up at stores around town, and Hannah and Amy of Raw Girls in Memphis have a great dish made with these, so you can order it in town or by mail this week. That's how we first learned about mung bean noodles, from trying their excellent food truck dish made with them. Here's how they describe it: Mung Bean Pasta with Roasted Asparagus, Blistered Cherry Tomatoes, and Basil Pesto (raw) with hemp seeds and pine nuts. 

Mung bean and edamame fettucini is ruffly, chewy, and most importantly, it has a good tooth to it, unlike some gluten-free noodles. We put together a broccoli-cashew-Beyond-Chicken stir fry today for lunch and served it over these. (See our favorite stir-fry method here.) We'll definitely be using this ingredient again soon and think it's worth a try if you want a different spin on pasta.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

7-Layer Chipotle-Chocolate Chili

Thank you to Sprouts Farmers Market for partnering with us for this post! We have been compensated for our time, but as usual, all opinions are our own. 

The most common question that's asked when the subject of vegetarianism comes up is definitely this one: "So, where do you get your protein?" The question is asked with a tilt of the head and an abundance of concern as if the person is trying to figure out how you're standing upright in front of them with, they figure, no protein at all in your diet. After all, according to Janet Little, Sprouts Farmers Market's Director of Nutrition, "Proteins are the main functional and structural building blocks of every cell in your body and help rebuild and repair muscles and tissues."

Well, believe it or not, many plant-based foods, particularly seeds, nuts, and grains, are great sources of protein, and there are benefits to getting at least some of your protein from vegetable sources. "Clean, plant-based protein provides easily digestible, nutrient-dense fuel for optimal performance and health," Janet told us. Quinoa is at the top of her list of plant-based protein sources because this gluten-free grain contains healthy omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and is a complete protein.

This week, we decided to make a simple vegetarian dish that uses quinoa as the base and is topped with a protein-packed chili that's made using lentils and walnuts. The dish gets its depth of flavor from two sources: smoky chipotle chilies and dark chocolate. This chili is so easy to make -- you seriously won't believe it. There's no sautéing and almost no chopping. All the ingredients were found at our local Sprouts Farmers Market, and most of them are organic to boot. 

7-Layer Chipotle-Chocolate Chili

1 16-ounce jar fire-roasted salsa
1 cup dried green lentils
2 cup vegetable stock
1 cup water
1/2 cup chopped raw walnuts
1 chipotle chili from a can (minced)
1 ounce 72% dark chocolate (1/3 of a bar)
1 teaspoon cumin
Coriander Quinoa (recipe follows)

Cherry Tomato Pico De Gallo (recipe follows)
No-Fuss Guacamole (recipe follows)
4 ounces cheese shredded cheddar cheese

2 cups shredded lettuce
1 cup Greek yogurt

Into a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, add the salsa, lentils, vegetable stock, water, walnuts, chipotle, chocolate, and cumin. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce mixture to a simmer for 40 minutes or until lentils are tender. (Most of the liquid will be absorbed by the lentils.) 

While the chili cooks, make the Coriander Quinoa, Cherry Tomato Pico De Gallo, and No-Fuss Guacamole. Assemble each serving by adding 1/2 cup of Coriander Quinoa to a medium bowl and top it with 3/4 cup of the 7-Layer Chipotle-Chocolate Chili. Layer one quarter each of the cheese, lettuce, yogurt, and No-Fuss Guacamole. Finally, top it all off with 1/4 cup Cherry Tomato Pico De Gallo. Repeat the same pattern in 3 bowls. (Makes 4 servings.)

Coriander Quinoa

2 cups vegetable stock
1 cup white quinoa (rinsed under cold water)
1 teaspoon coriander

Into a medium saucepan over high heat, bring the stock to a boil and add the quinoa. Cover and reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes. Uncover a fluff with a fork. (Makes 4 servings.)

Cherry Tomato Pico De Gallo

1 small shallot (finely diced)
1 pint cherry tomatoes (halved)
1 cup cilantro leaves
Juice of 1 lime
1 small Serrano pepper (finely diced)
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)

Rinse the diced shallot under cold water. (This will keep it the onion from overpowering the mixture.) In a medium bowl, combine the shallot, tomatoes, cilantro, lime juice, and Serrano pepper. Add Kosher salt and cracked black pepper to taste. (Makes 4 servings.)

No-Fuss Guacamole

2 ripe medium-sized Haas avocados
juice from 1/2 orange
1/8 teaspoon granulated sugar (optional)
1 teaspoon olive oil
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper to taste 

Peel and dice the avocados and place them in a medium bowl. Add the orange juice, sugar, olive oil, salt, and pepper and then stir. (Makes about 1 1/2 cups.)

Monday, March 7, 2016

Oats at Every Meal

Our recent article about Chubby Veg recipes in The Memphis Flyer featured oats, and in writing it and choosing which dishes we wanted to feature, we found that there are so many options for fitting more of this amazing grain into your diet. You know, a big bowl of oatmeal is usually our go-to breakfast on Monday mornings, just like it was today after last night's pizza and chocolate extravaganza.

You don't have to relegate oats to breakfast, though -- veggie burgers, cookies, granola, and pancakes can benefit from the addition of them, too. Read more about the health benefits of oats here, and see if you like a recipe or two of ours that will make them a part of your week!

Friday, March 4, 2016

Chocolate Eclair Banana Pudding For a Party

Contrary to what some might think, we don't always cook labor-intensive dishes from scratch. You know, we're versatile like that. This version of banana pudding is easy to assemble, and after making this type of dessert pretty much weekly for years, we have some opinions about how good it can be while still being fairly easy to put together.

Banana pudding kind of has a lot of steps, so simplifying each one is key. We like European Gourmet Bakery Organic pudding mixes, and having both vanilla and chocolate on hand for this particular eclair-like / but no-real-eclairs-included idea makes the main part of the dish very simple and quick. Lately, were blown away when we tried GF vanilla wafer cookies by Kinnikinnick Bakery for the first time, and they're a staple in the cupboard now.

Layer it up and top it with homemade whipped cream, and you've got a killer dessert to take to a party in one of those handy insulated casserole carriers that seem like preparedness overkill but actually are pretty useful. Namely when you're transporting something and don't want to drop the contents of some flimsy aluminum pan onto the driveway once you get there (which has happened more than we care to discuss).

Hey, you can also browse some of our other takes on this dessert from years past on TCV:

Mascarpone Banana Pudding in a Jar

Classic Banana Pudding with Meringue

Banana Pudding Ice Cream Cake

Chocolate Eclair Banana Pudding for a Party

1 box vanilla pudding (European Gourmet Bakery Organic)
1 box chocolate pudding (European Gourmet Bakery Organic)
4 cups whole milk
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 boxes vanilla wafers (We used the GF kind by Kinnikinnick Bakery.)
3 sliced bananas
Whipped cream (recipe follows)

Make the puddings separately according to the package directions; however, for the European Gourmet Bakery brand mixes we like, we use the recommended 2 cups of whole milk per box but doctor it up a bit and also add beaten egg, 1/2 a teaspoon of salt, and a teaspoon of vanilla extract per box of mix before cooking.

While the two puddings are cooling, place vanilla wafers in a single layer on the bottom of a shallow casserole dish. Add a layer of chocolate pudding on top, add all the banana slices, and then top with a few cookies and the vanilla pudding. Top this with whipped cream plus some crushed cookies and a sprinkle of salt.

Whipped Cream

1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
a pinch of Kosher salt

Whisk cream, sugar, vanilla, and salt until soft peaks form when whisk is lifted.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Our Oven-Roasted Chipotle Sweet Potatoes with Avocado & Salsa-Poached Eggs over Fajita-Style Vegetables in the March issue of Good Health Memphis

Flip through the new issue of Good Health Memphis online HERE (or pick up a copy at any Memphis-area Kroger store) and be sure to check out p. 20-21 to see our brand-new vegetarian brunch recipes! We had a blast developing them and including our favorite finds from stores and farmers markets around the city.

You'll also read in the intro. about how very spontaneous we are, y'all. No planning of meals here, believe it or not. Life's better lived on the fly and with some room for serendipity, and a well-stocked fridge and cupboard are key.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Super-Quick Chocolate-Covered Strawberries with Microwave Ganache

Extra chocolate is like extra moneythere's really no such thing. However, if you're like us and           want to extend your Valentine's celebration through the end of Feb., you've got to locate a chocolate bar this week and make some of these berries!

There's really no need to order or buy those ready-made ones; putting these together yourself is inexpensive and truly not that difficult, and using different toppings makes them look even more amazing on the plate.

(You may even want to plan ahead to enjoy them on your upcoming Monday night date. You know, the one with Ben?)

Super-Quick Chocolate-Covered Strawberries with Microwave Ganache

1 quart large strawberries
1 bar sea salt dark chocolate
3 tablespoons heavy cream
chopped almonds, peanuts, or pistachios; toasted coconut

Wash and thoroughly dry the strawberries. Next, break up the chocolate bar into pieces and place it in a microwave-safe bowl and cover it with the cream. Microwave this for 30 seconds and then stir it; repeat. Spoon melted chocolate onto berries but leave the first quarter of the part by the stem plain. Roll or sprinkle berries in your choice of chopped nuts or coconut. Place them on a parchment-lined plate and let them set, which takes about 20 minutes.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Veggie-Packed Napa Cabbage Wraps with Spicy Peanut Sauce

Recently, as a thank-you for the friends who renovated our kitchen, we made food for 100 guests at a party that traditionally has been all about BBQ. We wondered how our dishes would be received by people who might not usually gravitate toward vegetarian food. It wasn't like we were going to serve “a bunch of tofu or something,” we reassured the hosts. That might be too crazy to do for this crowd.

But we ended up doing just that when we made these cabbage wraps! Tofu has a great, meaty texture when it's cooked correctly, and it just makes sense here in an Asian-inspired dish. These wraps are packed with vegetables, and the peanut sauce that accompanies them is awesome even on its own. 

We want everybody to be surprised by how amazing healthy food can be, so go on and make these for your next party or have them for dinner one night this week. We think they’ll win you over, too. 

Veggie-Packed Napa Cabbage Wraps with Spicy Peanut Sauce

1 head of napa cabbage
1 8-ounce package crimini mushrooms
2 medium carrots (roughly chopped)
1 red bell pepper
1-inch piece of fresh ginger
3 large cloves of garlic
1/2 teaspoon Chinese five-spice
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons olive oil (divided)
1 8-ounce package extra-firm tofu (drained, cubed)
1/2 cup dry roasted peanuts
1/4 cup cilantro leaves
Spicy Peanut Sauce (recipe follows)

Cut napa cabbage in half; reserve leaves for the wraps. Cut the root end off of the cabbage and discard. Place the remaining cabbage in the food processor and pulse 5 to 6 times until finely chopped but not mushy. Place chopped cabbage in a large bowl and set aside.

Place mushrooms into the food processor and pulse 5 times until finely chopped. Add them to the bowl with the cabbage. Place the carrots and bell pepper in the food processor and repeat the process of pulsing 5 times. Add this to the vegetable mixture. Place the ginger and garlic in the food processor and pulse. Add this to the vegetable mixture along with the five-spice, black pepper, and salt.

Put a wok or large frying pan over the highest heat on the stovetop, and let it heat up until wisps of smoke rise up from the hot metal. Carefully pour in one tablespoon of olive oil and wait for it to start to smoke. Now, put the tofu into the wok and give it a shake--be aware that it may pop and splatter. Let the tofu rest in the hot pan without being disturbed for 45 seconds before tossing to redistribute it. Flip the tofu two additional times; after each flip, allow tofu to cook for 1 minute or until nicely browned. Remove tofu from the wok and place it into the food processor along with the peanuts. Pulse the food processor 5 times until mixture is finely chopped.

Add the remaining olive oil to the hot wok. Repeat the same stir-frying process with the vegetable mixture. Once the mixture looks dry, add the tofu and peanut mixture and toss to incorporate. Spoon mixture onto a serving platter. Garnish with cilantro leaves. Serve alongside the reserved cabbage leaves and the sauce.

Spicy Peanut Sauce

1/4 cup peanut butter
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon brown rice vinegar
1 tablespoon sriracha
1 tablespoon Bragg’s (or soy sauce)
1 tablespoon mirin
1/2-inch piece fresh ginger
2 to 3 tablespoons water

Into the work bowl of the food processor, add the peanut butter, sesame oil, rice vinegar, sriracha, Bragg’s, mirin, and ginger. Blend until smooth. Add enough water to form a thick but pourable sauce.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Brunch for Valentine's Day: Croissant Egg Casserole for Two + Asparagus “Fries” with a Simple Aioli

Thank you to Sprouts Farmers Market for partnering with us for this post! We have been compensated for our time, but as usual, all opinions are our own. 

  You can do this! Yes, we’re talking to you -- well, especially if you’ve been unfairly labeled as ‘the one who doesn’t cook’ at your house. You’ve got this. And your sweetie is going to be so surprised! Here’s your guide for Valentine’s Day.

      It falls on a Sunday this year, and if you’re super last-minute like us, it's okay because there’s still plenty of time to prepare, and if you’re super romantic, you get a whole entire day to be sweet. Expectations can be a little high, sure, but it’s better to start the tone off right from the first moment. And the plan really should include cooking for your sweetheart! 

  While checking out all the boxes of cute mini pastries in the bakery at Sprouts in Germantown this week, we noticed the tiny croissants, which sparked an idea for this brunch egg casserole just in time for Valentine’s Day. It’s kind of reminiscent of a croque monsieur but with our own spin, which includes Montchevré goat milk brie and Sprouts Private Label marinated artichoke hearts and roasted red peppers. It’s rich but not too heavy, so hey, feel free to indulge a little on this special day. 

      On the side, we added some asparagus “fries” with a simple aioli for dipping. All of this is really easy to put together ahead of time, and the cool thing is that all you have to do in the morning is place the prepared casserole and asparagus in the oven. They’ll be ready at the same time, and you look like a hero. (And if you make coffee for the both of you while you wait for it all to cook, seriously, then you’re golden.)

      Shop for your ingredients this coming Saturday and knock all of it out in one trip: go on and pick up too many flowers and grab that nice chocolate you always talk yourself out of buying. Because we all know that even those cynical people who claim Valentine’s Day is a made-up holiday secretly want all the attention that comes with somebody thinking of them and only them. 

Croissant Egg Casserole for Two

5 Sprouts mini croissants (split lengthwise)
3 large Sprouts Private Label cage-free, organic eggs
1/4 cup whipping cream
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 6.5-ounce jar Sprouts Private Label marinated artichokes
1 11.9-ounce jar Sprouts Private Label roasted red peppers
1 4.4-ounce wheel of goat milk brie (sliced)
1 tablespoon Sprouts Private Label dijon mustard
1 recipe Asparagus ‘Fries’ with Simple Aioli (follows)

Place the bottom portion of the croissants in a 9x6 inch pan and set aside the top portion of them for now. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, cream, salt, pepper, and thyme. Pour egg mixture over bottom portions of croissants. Place 9x6 pan in to the refrigerator overnight or for at least 20 minutes. Spread dijon mustard evenly over the inside of the reserved top portions of the croissants and place into the fridge separately.

Once you’re ready to serve, preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Drain artichokes and peppers. Top each bottom portion of each croissant with an artichoke heart and a roasted red pepper. Top each with sliced brie. Place pan in the oven for 20 minutes. Top with mustard-spreaded tops and cook for another 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve along side Asparagus ‘Fries’ with Simple Aioli. (Makes two servings.)

Asparagus “Fries” with a Simple Aioli

1 pound asparagus (bottom 1/3 trimmed off)
1 1/2 lemons (divided)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 clove garlic (finely chopped)
juice of 1/2 a lemon

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, toss together the asparagus, juice from 1 lemon, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Allow to cook for 20 to 25 minutes or until the tips are slightly browned. 

In a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, garlic, and lemon juice to make a flavorful aioli. Serve roasted asparagus alongside small bowls of aioli and the croissant casserole. (Makes two servings.)