Tuesday, November 14, 2017

We Redesigned Our Website For You

Hi, y'all,

This week, please be sure to take a moment to visit and bookmark the completely redesigned TCV site:

You'll find all of our previous recipes there under the 'Classic TCV' tab + new stuff we're excited to share on the completely redesigned TCV site. First up: the Chickpea Filet Sandwich, located under the 'New Recipes' tab.

Thank you so much for cooking with us; we really hope you'll enjoy all that's coming up next in our kitchen! :)

Justin & Amy

Thursday, August 24, 2017

BBQ Brussels Sprouts Sandwiches with Brussels Sprout Slaw

BBQ Brussels Sprouts Sandwiches with Brussels Sprout Slaw

2 pounds Brussels sprouts
1 cup shredded carrot (about one large)
2 tablespoons mayonnaise 
1 tablespoon grainy mustard
Kosher salt and cracked black pepper (to taste)
1 white onion (quartered and sliced)
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil 
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons The Chubby Vegetarian's Signature Dry Rub (recipe follows)
1 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce 
6 hamburger buns

First. make the Brussels Sprout Slaw. Thinly slice enough of the Brussels Sprouts to make 2 cups. Reserve the remainder of the Brussels Sprouts. In a large bowl, combine the 2 cups shredded Brussels sprouts with the shredded carrot, mayonnaise, mustard, and salt and pepper to taste. Toss until well-incorporated. Set aside in the refrigerator until ready to serve. (Makes about 2 cups of slaw.)

Preheat your over to 350 degrees. Slice the remaining Brussels sprouts in half. In a large bowl, toss the halved Brussels sprouts and the onion with the sesame oil, vinegar, and BBQ dry rub until everything is coated. On a parchment-lined baking sheet, spread the seasoned Brussels sprouts out in a single layer. Top that with any remaining oil from the bottom of the bowl. Place the baking sheet full of Brussels sprouts in the oven for 30 minutes or until the edges are brown and they’re cooked through. Remove them from the oven and pour over one cup of your favorite BBQ sauce. Using a spatula, toss the Brussels sprouts in the sauce until they’re well-coated. Return the baking sheet full of Brussels sprouts to the oven for an additional ten minutes. Remove the BBQ Brussels and set aside until ready to assemble the sandwiches. 

On the bottom part of each hamburger bun, pile on the BBQ and top it with the slaw. (Makes 6 sandwiches.) 

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Tasting Zucchi Extra Virgin Olive Oil

This post is sponsored by Zucchi Olive Oil. We received olive oil to sample and were compensated for providing the following review of the products. All opinions are our own. 

You know how exciting it is to roll up to the house and spot a package on the doorstep. Our excitement doubled when we unpacked not one but four bottles of Zucchi Extra Virgin Olive Oil, each made with olives from specific parts of Italy, and depending on the blend, sometimes also Greece or Spain. When the olive oil was first delivered, we used Zucchi Sweet & Fruity Extra Virgin Olive Oil in place of the usual butter in breakfast crepes and then topped them with figs and honeyed yogurt. (Scroll down to see the finished dish.) Oh, my...that's definitely happening again.

This weekend, we made sprouted wheat/white whole wheat bread so we could have a proper olive oil tasting. (We subbed olive oil for vegetable shortening in this recipe.) As the  bread rose and baked and cooled and eventually showed itself to be surprisingly awesome, we began investigating. 

QR codes from the bottles took us to the right place to check the origin of the olive oil on the Zucchi website, where we put in a little info. from the first bottle and immediately saw where the olives it was made from originated. Like wine grapes, olives vary in flavor based on the climate, soil, and conditions in which they are grown, and being able to trace the origin of the oil and see how the blends worked together is interesting.

We then tried all of the olive oils and took individual (secret!) notes before we discussed what we thought. The color didn't vary that much among the four oils, but the taste sure did. Here's how it all shook out, including our personal favorites.

Zucchi Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil: This one was earthy, super rich, and bold. If you need the flavor of olive oil to be front-and-center in a dish, this is the one. (Because he likes strong flavors, this one ended up being Justin's favorite.)

Zucchi 100% Italiano Extra Virgin Olive Oil: It's made with only Italian olives, but this olive oil was all over the map flavor-wise in the best sort of way. There were many notes that we wanted to pinpoint. It has a bite to it and has more of a savory quality than the other oils we sampled. We picked up on green and fresh and herbal flavors. With its complexity, it would be a good one to use in a simple pasta dish to really make it sing.

Zucchi Sinfonia Extra Virgin Olive Oil: This oil is the assertive, sharp, 'pay-attention-to-me!' sort. There' a definite fruitiness and also a richness to it. Strong in taste but well-balanced.

Zucchi Sweet & Fruity Extra Virgin Olive Oil: I really liked this one, so we'll crown it Amy's fave. Smooth, light, and floral, this olive oil was the one that's been used most often in our kitchen. Its flavor is bright but still subtle, and it's the mildest-tasting oil out of all the bottles we sampled.

Thanks to Zucchi for providing us with lots of olive oil to try; hopefully, their products will be available in Memphis soon! We appreciate the company's care for the environment and its commitment to authenticity. As home cooks who had gotten used to buying a huge, rather nondescript quart of olive oil for cooking and occasionally a smaller, finer bottle for drizzling and finishing, this experience impacted our thinking about olive oil as well as what we'll decide to purchase and use in the future.

And here's a fun announcement: We're planning on featuring Zucchi Extra Virgin Olive Oil in at least one of the courses at an upcoming Chubby Vegetarian dinner in Memphis at Char on the evening of Thursday, August 24! Please set aside the date if you'd like to attend, and we'll be sharing more information about it here and on social media as the details come together.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Chubby Vegetarian Tour of Concord Farm in Mississippi

See where a lot of the fruit and vegetables we use in developing our recipes is grown these days: Concord Farm in North Mississippi. We love that Amy's dad can grow anything and always is curious to see what we all can cook with the yield. Here, Justin takes you on a tour of what's growing in early July and shows you how this summer's new addition, a flower patch, is doing. At this point, he's in the middle of eating a just-picked tomato like it's an apple:

P.S. If you'd like to see our upcoming cooking demo and preview the new Sprouts Farmers Market in East Memphis on the evening of July 11, please see more details and register HERE.  

Thursday, June 29, 2017

July 11 Vegetarian Cooking Demo and Tasting with The Chubby Vegetarian at Sprouts Farmers Market in East Memphis

This post and the event it details are both sponsored by Sprouts Farmers Market.                                              As always, all opinions are our own. 

Okay, so folks have been asking us when we're doing our next pop-up restaurant in Memphis -- possibly because they remember this $5-an-item TCV menu and set-up at Iris Etc. from one summer a little while ago. We've been working on a couple of fun opportunities, and we hope to share at least one of them with you soon. But right now, we have a pretty immediate way for y'all to let us cook a little something for you. 

Come get the first look at the new Sprouts Farmers Market on Poplar in East Memphis with us on Tuesday, July 11 at 5pm, the evening before the official grand opening of the store! We're going to demo two recipes from our cookbook, The Chubby Vegetarian: 100 Inspired Vegetable Recipes for the Modern Table (Susan Schadt Press, 2016), let you in on the specific Sprouts brand products that we like to use, and offer samples of two dishes toward the end of the presentation. 

We're so happy that Sprouts is going to have a spot closer to where we live because we're willing to drive out to the ones in Germantown and Bartlett, but this is going to be so much more convenient.  Hope you're as excited as we are to have another option for grocery shopping out east!

      There are 50 spots available for this event; please check out    
     more details and register for the event at Sprouts HERE

Monday, June 19, 2017

New Recipe Video: Simple Salsa

Hey! So we're still figuring this recipe video stuff out, but we're moving right along. For our second one, here's how to make a super-flavorful homemade salsa that's perfect with a quesadilla, over some BBQ Tofu Nachos, or just as a dip with your favorite chip. This time of year, all the ingredients you need are fresh and in-season. You'll never buy salsa in the summertime again.

(And to answer your main question...yes, that really is Justin's real hair.)

Monday, June 12, 2017

First TCV Recipe Video: Young Coconut Ceviche

So we've been talking to each other about doing more step-by-step, how-to recipe videos for y'all, and this weekend, we got to it! We're excited to share the latest installment of what we believe will be a new weekly feature this summer.

So in the video below, we have two ideas about how to serve the perfect hot-weather dish, our vegetarian ceviche made with young coconut and a hearty amount of diced vegetables. The Young Coconut Ceviche recipe is in The Chubby Vegetarian cookbook on p. 41, you know, along with 99 other vegetarian recipes that made the cut last year when we were finishing and editing the manuscript. Get your copy and cook along with us this summer!

Check out The Chubby Vegetarian YouTube channel HERE to see our other videos and subscribe so you're first to see what's new or just go on and watch us make our version of ceviche here:

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Julie Taboulie's Lebanese Kitchen

This past week, St. Martin's Press sent us a complimentary copy of a soon-to-be-released cookbook to preview, and we enjoyed it so much that we wanted to share our take on it with you. 
As always, all of our opinions here are our own. 

Julie Taboulie's Lebanese Kitchen by Julie Ann Sageer was a revelation for both of us. There are some modern preparations of dishes that we already knew we loved, like hummus, baba ghanaouj, pita bread, and fattoush, along with a ton of great desserts we're going to make.

Julie's writing is interesting and spot-on, and we really connected with the narrative that she tells in the introduction. She drifted from her roots and then circled back with a new appreciation for her grandmother's cooking and Lebanese classics. We had a similar journey with Southern American food. To us, years ago, Southern food and vegetarian food didn't seem to mesh all that well. As kids, we kind of started to think that Southern food wasn't really for us. We strayed, too, finding curry, stir-fry, falafel, sushi, and a world of possibilities before circling back around to the South, and transforming Southern favorites makes up a part of our cooking today.

We appreciate Julie's amazing new cookbook and really feel that it comes from a true place. We were so inspired that we made a feast the first night after we'd both read it cover to cover. Our table quickly filled up with freshly spun hummus, smoky baba ghanaouj, homemade Lebanese pita, taboulie with tons of parsley and lemon, yogurt with mint and cucumber, olives, and tangy feta.

This book can really help the home cook transform everyday ingredients into 'wow' Lebanese dishes. We loved the inspiration and look forward to Julie's success with the book (to be released on Tuesday, June 6) and with her cooking show on PBS!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Baked Chiles Rellenos (Cheese Stuffed Poblano Peppers)

Amy's dad said that this was the best thing he'd ever had at our house. That's high praise since he regularly refers to our kitchen as his "favorite restaurant," although we all know his favorite restaurant is Bari. But we'll take the praise where we can get it. This dish has two kinds of peppers and the option to add some hot sauce, so it was tailor-made for him. 

That said, it is remarkable. The richness of the cheese is a foil for the smoky, spicy poblano, and the whipped egg whites give the whole thing an ethereal quality. Baking instead of frying this dish is a great way to make it just a touch healthier.

There are a few steps to this one, but none of them are difficult. Give this a shot. We think you'll love it!

Baked Chiles Rellenos

4 large poblano peppers
1-2 chipotle peppers (from a can)

1 14.5 ounce can diced fire-roasted tomatoes
3 eggs (separated)
1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/4 cup chopped green onion
1/2 teaspoon cumin
3 egg yolks

Sliced avocado, cilantro, and hot sauce (to garnish)

Roast the poblano peppers over the fire on your burner or under the broiler turning frequently until blackened on all sides. Set poblano peppers aside in a covered bowl until cooled. Gently rub each pepper with a paper towel until most of the char is removed. Using a paring knife, make a slit down one side of each pepper and pull the seeds out. Set aside. 

In a blender, make the sauce by blending together the chipotle peppers and the can of tomatoes until smooth. Pour  mixture into a medium saucepan over medium heat. Simmer until ready to serve. 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk the egg whites and the cream of tartar until stiff peaks form. Set aside in the fridge.

In a medium bowl, combine the cheese, onion, cumin, and egg yolks. Stuff each of the poblanos with 1/4 of the mixture. Remove the egg whites from the fridge. 

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Holding each pepper by the stem, drag each pepper through the egg whites and place onto the parchment-lined baking sheet. Using a spoon, add the remaining egg whites to the top of the peppers.

Bake for 20 minutes of until golden brown. Serve topped with the chipotle and tomato sauce, avocado, cilantro, and hot sauce. This dish goes great with rice and beans.
(Makes 4 peppers. Serves 2.)

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Our Article on DWJ 2's Amazing Korean Dishes for Memphis Magazine

Excited to share our take on DWJ 2 in the Cooper-Young neighborhood of Memphis HERE! The two of us collaborated on the article for Memphis magazine last month and made a point to try some dishes that were new to us at one of our favorite new spots.

We actually hadn't ever been to a Korean restaurant before, but we make kimchi, mushroom BBQ steamed buns, and bibimbap at home sometimes. Now we're inspired to try our hand at a few more things that we've liked at DWJ 2

Sunday, May 7, 2017

The World's Best Veggie Burger

Happy National Burger Month to you and yours! Seems like a strange greeting to hear from the authors of two vegetarian cookbooks, right? Here at The Chubby Vegetarian, we think veggie burgers are burgers, too. That's right, we said it! Veggie burgers sometimes seem to get a bad rap and, okay, a lot of times, it's for a good reason. 

The truth is that there are way too many over-processed, mushy, or otherwise unappealing versions of veggie burgers out there. Our aim here is to change that perception. To do that, we knew we had to simplify our go-to recipe, and in turn, make a burger that shines with flavor, has a great texture, won't completely fall apart, and will appeal to just about everyone who's willing to give it a try. 

This burger is vegan, gluten-free, and has only two main ingredients: mushrooms and rolled oats. It sounds strange, but we've been inching our way toward this recipe for more than a decade. In the past, we could make good veggie burgers that were complicated to make or simple burgers that were a stretch for some (Here's looking at you, sweet potato burger!). 

This recipe ticks all the boxes and passes the ultimate test: the Amy test. She may not always stick to eating just veggie burgers, but this one, she actually loves and even requests. 

The World's Best Veggie Burger

1 pound cremini or Baby Bella mushrooms
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
3 cups rolled oats
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
6 soft hamburger buns (like brioche or kaiser)

To garnish, your choice: mustard, mayonnaise (vegan or dairy), ketchup, pickles, sautéed onions, sliced tomato, lettuce, cheese (vegan or dairy), avocado, a fried egg, or whatever else you can dream up to put on your burger 

Into the work bowl of your food processor, place the mushrooms and pulse until they're very finely chopped but not blended. (You may need to work in batches depending on the size of your processor.) Into a large mixing bowl, place the chopped mushrooms and then the salt. Allow mixture to rest for 5 minutes. You'll notice that the water is being pulled from the mushrooms; do not discard that water! To the mixing bowl, add the oats and black pepper. 

Using your hands, knead the mushrooms and oats together until well-incorporated. The mix will seem a little dry at first. Cover the mixture with plastic wrap and place it into the fridge for 20 minutes. Remove the mixture and knead it once more. This time, it should resemble ground beef -- seriously! :)

Divide the mixture into 6 equal balls. On a sheet of parchment or wax paper, press each ball into roughly a 4-inch patty. Make sure your patties have smooth, rounded edges because this makes them more structurally sound  so they won't fall apart. 

In a large frying pan over medium heat, add 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil. This sounds like a lot of oil to some, but remember, there's no fat in the burger, and a burger needs some fat. Pan-fry the burgers three at a time for about 4 minutes per side.  Add the remaining oil before cooking the second batch. 

(We love to cover them with sautéed onions and melty cheddar before taking them off the heat, but hey, we all know that building the perfect burger is a very personal endeavor. We won't assume to know exactly how you like it, so you decide the rest. However, we will say a fried egg on top is always an excellent idea. 

Serve hot on a toasted bun topped however you'd like. (Makes 6 burgers.)

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Unboxing and Testing the Eggstractor

We went to a cool new store last time we visited the outlets in Southaven, Mississippi to get our J. Crew Factory fix. It was called Kitchen Collection, and walking through it provides prime entertainment for home cooks. There were quite a few items we'd never even seen before, and now we feel that we need all of them.

We knew we had to try the Eggstractor to make the process for deviled eggs easier. We're not super pleased when our peeled hard-boiled eggs turn out looking like amateur hour due to our usual impatience. The resulting crags and unevenness are annoying, so we hoped this gadget would help. The Eggstractor, which was $2.98 on clearance, actually does peel an egg in seconds as promised! Check out our video above this to see how it went.

A few other items were captivating as well; take the terracotta Brown Sugar Bear, for instance. That's a big problem-solver for dry, clumped sugar and beats our old microwave-a-damp-paper-towel-in-the-brown-sugar-jar solution. (This leaf design is the one that we ended up getting online.) Oh, and this tab can opener is pretty smart. We decided against spending .99 for it and have wished multiple times since that we had that thing handy in the midst of clumsily opening a can of dog food with a butter knife. We got this mini springform pan for the cute factor and to scale down this classic vegan cheesecake for 2.

This post is not sponsored--we're just thrilled to find a new kitchen store! And we are so happy that we're finally getting Sur La Table in the Memphis area later this May. We'll report back on that soon.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

This Weekend's Vegetable Butchering Demo and Chubby Vegetarian Cookbook Signing at Bookstock at The Memphis Public Library

A hearty thank you goes out to the folks at the Benjamin L. Hooks Central Library for a wonderful celebration of reading and authors at Bookstock this past Saturday in Memphis. We did a fun demo and showed everyone how to make an avocado rose, cut spaghetti squash ribs and butternut squash steaks, slice cauliflower into chops, and how to supreme oranges. We appreciated all the support and kindness of the library staff members who made the event go smoothly for us, and it was wonderful to connect with people in the community who are interested in learning more about vegetarian cooking!

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Our New Articles in Edible Memphis and Memphis Magazine

Check out the restaurant review we worked on together for the April issue of Memphis magazine HERE! We've loved Bhan Thai in Memphis for a while now and got the opportunity to see it in a new light this year as we tried new dishes in addition to the awesome green curry that's our mainstay. We have another collaborative article about a new favorite place coming up in next month's issue.

We're also thrilled to announce that we have a brand-new quarterly column in Edible Memphis called "TCV Cooking School"; we'll be experimenting with various cooking methods in order to help readers get the best results in their own home kitchens. With our first story called "Throw Us a Noodle Party (Please!)," we show you how to turn a big pot of boiling water into a comforting spring meal that is perfect for sharing. We're so grateful to our friend and Edible Memphis editor Melissa Petersen for the opportunity to share our kitchen adventures with you on a regular basis in the magazine, and we're seriously loving the redesign and the new website.

We wrote this first column because a couple of our good friends had our backs during a very difficult time. Justin's father's passed away in the fall of 2015 after battling pancreatic cancer for a year and a half, and if some of y'all also have been through a cancer diagnosis and treatment with someone who's close to you, you know as well that the experience will floor even the strongest person.

Max and Marlinee did their best to cheer us on and support us as we figured out what life would be like when all of a sudden, everything changed. We have never forgotten how they brought our friends together in support of us one evening over  bowls of noodles and everyone simply showed up for us.

It's not easy dealing with this type of stuff, and it's hard to know what exactly to do for people who are suffering from a loss. Making something good for someone else to enjoy certainly helps to make anyone feel very loved.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Chubby Vegetarian News: Our Cookbook is Now an EBook + Bookstock at the Memphis Public Library on Saturday, April 29, 2017

There's so much for us to catch up on we hardly know where to begin today!

We'll start with the most pressing item first: our appearance at the Memphis Public Library's annual Bookstock festival. We're so excited that the Memphis Public Library invites local and national authors to this unique event to be held at the Benjamin J. Hooks Library this Saturday from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. We'll be doing a vegetable butchering demonstration at noon in the Goodwin Gallery inside the library. Stop by to see how to make "ribs" from a spaghetti squash, "chops" from a cauliflower, and get step-by-step instructions on how to make an avocado "rose." Even though that's a lot of "quotes," it's all real and we'll be using tangible vegetables to make these items! We'll also have our cookbooks for sale, and we'd love to sign one for you or for someone you love who loves to cook. Mother's Day is just around the corner, so maybe we can help you get ready.

Next, we're excited to tell you that our new cookbook, The Chubby Vegetarian: 100 Inspired Vegetable Recipes for the Modern Table (Susan Schadt Press, 2017) is now available as a digital download on Amazon at an excellent price. So, if you've been holding out for the ebook edition, your wait is over. To celebrate, we're planning a contest and giveaway next week, so stay tuned for that. (Look, we just bought a little stand to better use the iPad mini in the kitchen!)

Friday, April 14, 2017

Green Onion Pancake with Kimchi

There are a few simple, quick things we make all the time at home, and we're planning to share them more here on TCV. This is a great savory breakfast, and on evenings when there's not much in the fridge / we really don't feel like going to the store, this also makes for a good dinner if we at least have the last of a carton of eggs.

Kimchi has become a staple at our house, and sometimes we make our own, and sometimes we use Sunja's. And our favorite kimchi in Memphis is at DWJ 2.

Green Onion Pancake with Kimchi

5 large eggs (beaten)
2 medium green onions (sliced, about 3/4 cup)
1 teaspoon soy sauce (We like Bragg Liquid Aminos.)
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1/2 cup kimchi (to garnish)
Gochuchang or Sriracha hot sauce (to taste)

In a medium bowl, combine the eggs, onions, and soy sauce. Over high heat on your stovetop, heat a 12-inch frying pan (one that has a lid) until wisps of smoke gently rise from the metal surface. Add the sesame oil and tilt the pan to coat the surface. Add the egg mixture, turn the heat to low, and cover the pan. Allow the eggs to cook for 4 minutes or until the top is set. Place the pancake, pan side down, on  a plate, slice into quarters, garnish with kimchi and hot sauce, and serve. (Makes 2 servings.)

Monday, March 27, 2017


This crazy ESPN.com article we read over the weekend gave us even more confidence in the sandwich one of us packs for lunch nearly every single day: good old PB&J! Putting in our own two cents, we would like to recommend enjoying it toasted, open-faced on sprouted wheat bread, with Justin's creamy peanut butter, and all-fruit strawberry, apricot, or fig preserves..

We've also been batting around some combinations, and one includes a sandwich press and powdered sugar. Let's just call it fuel.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Chubby Vegetarian cookbook at a great price!

Hey, everyone, listen up! Amazon's running a special on our second cookbook, The Chubby Vegetarian: 100 Inspired Vegetable Recipes for the Modern Table (Susan Schadt Press, 2016). The sale price is just $16.37, which is down from the original list price of $24.99. We don't control Amazon's price structure and have yet to figure out why the price fluctuates so much. But all in all, this was great news today!

The Chubby Vegetarian cookbook contains our original recipes gathered from cuisines from around the world. All last year, we worked our hardest to ensure that the recipes that made the cut would open up a ton of new ideas for our readers and fellow home cooks.

We are proud of the beautiful foreword P. Allen Smith wrote for us along with the Introduction we wrote about our love of cooking and our journey from cooking at home as kids, to cooking together for our friends in college, to sharing the dishes we make at our home in Memphis.

If you've been thinking about ordering a copy for yourself or picking up a copy for a friend, now is the time! It's so cool that TCV is available for about the same price as our first book from 2013, The Southern Vegetarian.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Vegetarian Pad Thai with Lemongrass (with ingredients from The Cooper-Young Community Farmers Market)

We really felt like it was all of a sudden spring (finally!) last Saturday morning when we stopped by the Cooper-Young Community Farmers Market. Feeling creative, we decided to shop with the goal of figuring out a new dish to make for lunch. There were lots of farm eggs (and some duck eggs), plenty of greens, and all kinds of mushrooms, including some Pioppino. We chose some really nice oyster mushrooms this time around. Sprouts, lemongrass, basil, cilantro, and microgreens were available, too. We immediately started thinking maybe pad Thai, maybe quiche. But the El Mero Taco truck was parked outside Muddy's Grind House, so it was clear this dreamy new dish was going to be on hold until Sunday lunch.

The local flowers from we chose from Delta Sol made my grandmother happy because she always asks if we or someone we know grew the arrangements we do for her. We could tell her yes for the first time this year!

We're also thrilled that opening day of the downtown Memphis Farmers Market is on Saturday, April 1 (seriously, no joke) from 8 a.m.-1 p.m.

So what are you most looking forward to buying? Over at our house, we have tomatoes, strawberries, peaches, and some nasturtium plants for the garden at the top of the list.

We'll definitely buy the ingredients for this Pad Thai again. Last night, we already made a similar version with other random vegetables we had in the fridge. Be sure to put a few pinches of sugar on top of the finished dish along with the sambal. Doing so balances out its spicy and savory nature and also makes it taste even better!

Vegetarian Pad Thai with Lemongrass (with ingredients from The Cooper-Young Community Farmers Market)

4 ounces pad Thai rice noodles (cooked according to package instructions)
Pad Thai Sauce (recipe follows)
1/4 cup coconut oil
2 large eggs
8 ounces oyster mushrooms
2 cups chopped Napa cabbage
1 bunch green onions (root end removed; cut into large pieces)
1 yellow bell pepper (sliced, stem and seeds discarded)
1 16-ounce package baked tofu (cut into triangles)
1 cup mung bean sprouts
1 small bunch cilantro
1/4 cup chopped peanuts
1 lime quartered
1 small bunch basil
Sambal (to taste)
A few pinches of sugar (to taste)

This dish comes together fast once you have everything chopped and ready. Make the noodles according to the package instructions and the Pad Thai Sauce according to the recipe below. Set aside with the rest of the ingredients.

Over high heat, get your large wok or frying pan hot enough that it starts smoking. Add the coconut oil and crack the two eggs into the bottom. Allow them to cook for about 2 minutes or until they're crispy on the bottom. With a large spoon, stir until the eggs are cooked through.

Add the mushrooms, cabbage, onions, bell peppers, and tofu. Cook, stirring frequently for 4 minutes or until the cabbage has wilted. Add the noodles and the Pad Thai Sauce. Stir and cook until everything is throughly heated through; this will take about another 2 minutes. Place Pad Thai onto a serving platter and garnish with mung bean sprouts, cilantro leaves, and chopped peanuts. Serve the lime, basil, and sambal on the side. (Makes 4 servings.)

Pad Thai Sauce

1 fresno or Thai bird chili (chopped)
1 stalk lemongrass (tender center part of the stalk, the rest discarded)
4 cloves peeled garlic
Zest of 1 lime
Juice of 2 limes
3 tablespoons soy sauce (We like Braggs Liquid Aminos.)
1 tablespoon sugar

In the bowl of a mortar and pestle, grind the chili, lemongrass, garlic, zest, lime juice, soy sauce, and sugar until well incorporated. You can also use a blender for this. Set aside until ready to use. 

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Huevos Rancheros Quesadilla

We're really into making breakfast here at home. You know that feeling when you wake up and have a super good plan for breakfast in mind or something already made ahead that you know is going to be, like, the best? That's the goal.

Sometimes it's just cereal, though. Or peanut butter on a banana before a run. If we're really fortunate to have both the inclination and the time, it's the gold standard: PANCAKES! WAFFLES! MONKEY BREAD! We save those for the weekend.

But this, we hadn't ever made before now. It was inspired by half a can of black beans sitting open in the fridge and a sleepyhead's idea of what would be better than just eggs on top of a tortilla.

Huevos Rancheros Quesadilla

2 teaspoons olive oil (divided)
1 12-inch tortilla
2 1/2 ounces smoked Mozzarella cheese (shredded)
4 large eggs
1 16-ounce jar of black bean salsa
1 large avocado (sliced)
Chives (chopped; to garnish)
Mexican hot sauce (to garnish)

In a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat, add 1 teaspoon of olive oil and the tortilla. Add cheese to one half of the tortilla and fold. Cook for 3 minutes per side or until the tortilla is golden and the cheese is melted. Remove the quesadilla from the pan, cut it in half, and place each half onto a large plate.

In the same skillet  add the remaining olive oil and crack the eggs into the pan. Cook eggs until the bottom of the egg is crispy and the whites have set; this should take 4 to 5 minutes. Remove 2 eggs and place them atop one half of the quesadilla. Repeat with the remaining 2 eggs.

In the same skillet, pour the salsa onto the hot surface and heat the salsa through. This should only take a minute or so. Spoon a generous amount of black bean salsa on top of the eggs on each plate. Garnish with sliced avocado, chopped chives, and hot sauce. (Makes 2 servings.)

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Dutch Baby Pancake with Nectarines, Marcona Almonds, Honey Goat Cheese, and Garden Mint

Here's the breakfast/dessert we made with the rest of our ingredients from our trip last week to Aldi, which was suggested by a TCV reader. (Here's the naan pizza we made first.) We had to wait about a week for the nectarines to ripen, but they were great when ready. Somehow the mint really made this dish!

Dutch Baby Pancake with Nectarines, Marcona Almonds, Honey Goat Cheese, and Garden Mint

1 Dutch Baby Pancake (recipe follows)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
5 medium nectarines (pitted, cut into eighths)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon brown sugar
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 ounces soft goat cheese (We used honey-flavored goat cheese that was fantastic.)
1/3 cup chopped marcona almonds
2 sprigs mint (from our garden)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
honey (to finish)

Make the Dutch Baby Pancake according to the recipe below. While it's cooking, prepare the nectarine filling on the stovetop. Into a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat, add the butter and nectarines. Cook for 3 minutes until the nectarines are lightly caramelized. Reduce heat to low, and then add the vanilla, brown sugar, lemon juice, and salt. Cook for a 3 minutes until syrupy. Remove from the heat and set aside until ready to assemble. 

Assemble the dish by distributing the cooked nectarines and their juice over the middle of the Dutch Baby Pancake.   Crumble the goat cheese over the nectarines and sprinkle the top with the chopped almonds. Finish with a few mint leaves, a dusting of cinnamon, and a drizzle of honey. (Makes 4 servings.) 

Dutch Baby Pancake

2 large eggs
1/2 cup flour 
1/2 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
pinch of nutmeg
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Into the cup of your blender or in a large mixing bowl, combine the eggs, flour, milk, sugar, salt, and nutmeg until well incorporated. (Don't worry too much about overworking the batter. It'll be okay.) 

Place a 10-12 inch frying pan into the oven with the butter. Once the butter melts, remove the pan from the oven using an oven mitt, pour the batter into the pan, and return the pan to the oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown. You'll be amazed to watch the thin batter start to climb the sides of the pan to form a bowl-like shape. Remove from the oven and fill with the nectarine filling. (Makes 4 servings.)

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Oven-Roasted Vegetable Naan Pizza with Tikka Masala

We received some interesting feedback the other day about our recipes, so y'all, keep the suggestions coming! The heartfelt words of a person who wished to remain anonymous persuaded us to feature some recipes with ingredients that can be easily sourced at places like Aldi, recipes that don't rely too heavily on specialized equipment that not everyone has. 

So, Anonymous, know that we hear you! :) Now we dare you to make this dish because we think you'll absolutely LOVE it. 

The very serious words 'mission statement' are especially hilarious when applied to a vegetarian food blog, but hey, here goes. We love to cook, and we want to change the way vegetarian dishes are perceived.  Our main goals are to renew longtime vegetarians' interest in home cooking and to make people who scoff at vegetarian food fall in love with it. We'll do just about anything to show how nutritious food can actually be good and 
craveable, too. We're all about creativity and learning new things, and we want more people to look forward to participating in Meatless Mondays and skipping meat at least some of the time. This might just make all of us better as a whole in terms of health, and it could help our environment a great deal now and in the future. 

Cooking at home means everything to us. We invest in tools that will help us hone our technique and share tips with y'all, and we seek out the best ingredients because that's a surefire way to make food taste unbelievably great. We still love the crunchy old veg favorites that we grew up enjoying, but now we want to be a part of how vegetarian food evolves and gets the spotlight it deserves. 

Anyway, so this post is not sponsored by Aldi, but upon our reader's advice, we stopped by the Summer Avenue location in Memphis last Saturday with the intention of seeing what ingredients were available and then creating a couple of new TCV recipes based on what we found. 
(Some fresh finds from Aldi)

We love what we were able to put together! The tikka masala that's used as the sauce for this pizza is from a jar, it's a product that's new at Aldi, and it's really good. We also found gluten-free items, lots of fresh produce, honey goat cheese, hemp seeds, marcona almonds, and all sorts of other awesome stuff at good prices there. 

Our box of ingredients (for 2 recipes for an entrée and a dessert that'll serve 4 to 6 people) rang up for around $30. We'll certainly be going back to Aldi to shop, and we welcome more advice about other places you'd like to see us try. 

Oh, and now we can't wait to show you the pretty spring dessert we've been working on developing with products from the same shopping trip…a bunch of nectarines are almost ripe and ready to hit the grill. 

Oven-Roasted Vegetable Naan Pizza with Tikka Masala

Oven-Roasted Vegetables (recipe follows)
4 naan flatbreads1 16 ounce jar tikka masala "simmer sauce" (like Journey to India brand)
8 to 10 ounce block of white cheddar cheese (shredded)

5 green onions (chopped, about 1 cup)
1 small bunch cilantro (large stems discarded)

Make the 
Oven-Roasted Vegetables according to the recipe below. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place naan flatbreads directly on the oven rack for 5 minutes in order to crisp them up. 

On two large parchment-lined baking sheets, arrange the warm naan flatbreads and get ready to dress them. Onto each flatbread, add about 1/4 cup of tikka masala and spread it almost to the edges. Arrange a variety of Oven-Roasted Vegetables in a single layer on top of the sauce. Top that with about 2 ounces of shredded white cheddar. Repeat for each flat bread. Place the baking sheet with the prepared flatbreads into the oven for 10 minutes or until the cheese has melted to your liking. Upon removing the flatbreads from the oven, sprinkle the top of each with green onions and 5 to 7 springs of cilantro. Cut each flatbread into quarters. Serve hot. (Makes 4 to 6 servings.) 

Oven-Roasted Vegetables 

8 ounces mushrooms (sliced)
1 medium eggplant (about 4 cups, sliced and quartered)
1 pound multicolored mini bell peppers (about 4 cups sliced)
1 teaspoon Kosher salt

2 tablespoons olive oil

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large mixing bowl, toss mushrooms, eggplant, peppers, salt, and olive oil until salt and oil are evenly distributed. On a large parchment-lined baking sheet, spread the vegetables out into a single layer. Some overlap is fine. Place baking sheet into the oven for 20 minutes. Remove the baking sheet, stir the vegetables around and distribute them into a single layer. Place the baking sheet back into the oven for an additional 5 minutes. Remove and allow to cool until ready to use. Store any leftover vegetables in an airtight container in the fridge for one week or freeze. 
(Makes 4 to 6 servings.)

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Bibimbap Served Paella-Style

We've been loving the vegetarian bibimbap bowls at DWJ 2, a new Korean restaurant with lots of vegetarian options. It's located in the Cooper-Young neighborhood of Memphis. The bibimbap comes to the table in a scorchingly hot stone bowl which renders the rice on the bottom of the dish crunchy and delicious. 

All we can even think about lately is this dish! Since we can't go out to DWJ 2 every single night like we really want to, we figured out how to get similar results at home without the use of a stone bowl. We thought about the many pans of paella we've shared with friends over the years and how the rice gets all crunchy on the bottom of the pan; this is called the socarrat.  This past Friday night when we had some time to develop this recipe, we decided to use our cast-iron pan to get the same result. Amazingly, it worked! 

We have to thank our friends Max and Marlinee for introducing us to DWJ 2. It's awesome! We recently took some of the family there for a late-night dinner, and they loved it, too! (One other tip for ordering: Get all of the vegetarian 50-cent sides. Twice.)

Bibimbap Served Paella-Style

1 1/2 cups sushi rice (rinsed until the water is clear)
1 1/2 cups water
8 ounces crimini or shiitake mushroom (sliced)
3 tablespoon toasted sesame oil (divided)

1 teaspoon soy sauce
4 large eggs

1 large carrot shredded
1 sheet nori (cut into thin strips using scissors)

2 tablespoons chopped green onion
1/4 cup gochujang or Korean BBQ sauce (We like Bushwick Kitchen's Weak Knees.)
1 cup kimchi (We like Sunja's if we're out of our homemade TCV Kimchi)

Add the rice and the water to your rice cooker and start the timer. Alternately, follow the package directions to yield 3 cups cooked sushi rice if you don't have a rice cooker available in your kitchen. 

While the rice is cooking, prepare the other ingredients. In a large cast-iron skillet over high heat, add one tablespoon of the sesame oil and the sliced mushrooms. Allow them to cook undisturbed for three minutes before stirring them. Allow them to cook for another two minutes, add the soy sauce, and then remove it all from the pan. Set mushrooms aside until you're ready to assemble the dish. 

Reduce the heat to medium. Into the same cast-iron pan, add an additional tablespoon of sesame oil and fry the eggs in the hot oil until they're crispy on the bottom and the whites are set. Remove the eggs from the pan and set them aside until you're ready to assemble the dish. 

Scrape out any reside left behind by the eggs in the cast-iron skillet. Add the last teaspoon of sesame oil and press the cooked sushi rice into the bottom of the pan. Remove from the heat. Add the eggs in a single layer, followed by the cooked mushrooms, shredded carrots, green onion, and a generous swirl of gochujang. Add the nori strips to the center of the dish. Serve the kimchi on the side. Place the dish in the middle of the table and allow everyone to serve themselves. (Makes 2-4 servings.)