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Vegan Walnut Pesto

I’ve always loved pesto. Pesto on my pasta, pesto spread on toasty bread, pesto on a sandwich or wrap, etc. After going from vegetarian to vegan, I learned that a lot of pesto’s usually have parmesan cheese in them. I also learned that making vegan pesto is crazy easy and whatever that parmesan cheese added to the flavor, nuts could add an even cleaner taste to it-while maintaining the “cheezy” notes. For the last few years, however, I’ve not really fooled around with pesto. Then we started an herb garden and I found what I’d been missing out on-fresh basil. I’d searched the web, collected and saved recipes and when my basil was ready-I was more than ready. My mouth watered just looking at the basil leaves! So here’s what I did. I used NeverHomeMaker’s Pesto recipe as my base, slightly altered it, and added a little nutritional yeast. (Check out her blog if you have not already-I have a crush on her food pictures!)

Once we made this and served it over pasta, we literally looked at each other constantly saying “Oh my god, now this is delicious!”, “Oh my god, I can’t even believe how good this is!”, “Wow.” haha!

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Walnut Basil Pesto

(slightly altered from NeverHomeMaker’s version)

Makes about 8-12 oz of sauce

  • 3/4 cup walnuts (or pine nuts-but I used walnuts because they’re cheaper)
  • 2.5 cups fresh basil leaves (loosely packed)
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped up a bit
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1-2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast flakes

How-To

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. In a rimmed baking sheet, spread your walnuts and then roast for 5 minutes. Stir. Roast another couple minutes, until you can smell them. Set aside to cool completely. I put mine in the freezer while I did the other steps to speed up the cooling process.
  2. Boil a cup and a half of water and then “shock” the basil (helps keep the green color longer) by placing it in water for 10 seconds. Then immediately pour into colander and rinse with cold water and pat dry with a tea towel. You’ll be shocked at how much the leaves shrivel down to nothing!
  3. In a food processor, combine all ingredients. Then pulse until well combined.
  4. Store in an air-tight container for 2-4 days in the refrigerator for use or freeze in ice cube tray for the future.

Thank you NeverHomeMaker!!

photo(9)Reaping my harvest! Ha!

photo(11)We cooked some quinoa pasta and steamed and sauteed veggies, then topped it with the pesto!

This made for such an incredible meal!

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Do you have any pesto tips or recipes? I’d love to hear them!

 


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Cilantro Hummus and Mexican Dip!

Hey guys and gals! We hope y’all had a good Easter weekend! For ours, my mom and step-dad threw together a last minute family gathering at their house. It was really fun and full of flavorful food! Since my mom and step-dad decided to go plant-based over 2 months ago, most of the food we served was vegan-and scrumptious :). My mom made her famous red beans and brown rice, a veggie pad thai, vegan spinach “cream cheese” dip, vegan potato salad, and a vegan seven-layer dip, among other things like veggie dogs with veggie chili. I added to the mix by making Cilantro Hummus and a Mexican Corn and Bean Dip. Everything was so good! A few other members of our family even brought over a veggie dish or 2! While not everyone may understand or is very keen on this lifestyle and way of eating, most people really enjoyed all the dishes.

I got the idea for cilantro hummus from the New Orleans Farmer’s Market on Saturday. My mom and I went early that morning to get some fresh produce and one vendor, a Lebanese woman who we always see there, made a cilantro hummus dip that she was selling. We tasted it and thought it had such a fun, flavorful kick! So I decided I’d try to replicate the idea. This makes a yummy dip for chips or carrots and veggies. Also, I think it would be a great addition to a veggie sandwich! Nix the mayo-add the hummus! Here’s what I sorta did!

Cilantro Hummus Dip (serves 6-10)

I am approximating a bit here, as I added and tasted as I blended-which I recommend you do as well.

3 cans garbonzo beans
half an avocado
1 tsp ground cumin
2 lemons squeezed
3 large garlic cloves
fresh cilantro leaves torn off the stems-I’d add this as you go to see how much you want. I added then blended then tasted a lot so I don’t know how much I really used.
olive oil-as needed but I wouldn’t use a lot since it’s fatty…
water as needed for whatever consistency you want

Blend all together!

Also, below I am giving you the recipe for an easy, tasty, affordable dip that you can bring to any party and people will love you for it!

Mexican Bean & Corn Dip (serves 6-10)

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

1 can rotel (I used lime & cilantro-but any should work fine)

1 can shoepeg corn, drained

1 avocado, chopped up

1/3 purple onion

2-3 green onions, chopped

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

Mix all together! Ole!


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Fish Are Friends Not Food

Hi! It’s been a while-I know. The holidays just swept us up! I hope you guys had a great one! Now let’s get to business! Food food food! I’m a cold salad kinda person-Are you? When I say salad in this context I’m talking about pasta salad, potato salad, tuna salad, chicken salad-catch my drift? When I was a kid, before I was a full-blown vegetarian, I ate things like chicken salad sandwiches and tuna salad sandwiches for lunch. I remember loving them. The crunch of the celery was so fresh and light! Well, like I have stated before, I was a lazy vegetarian when it came to cooking and experimenting-for 10 long years too…Crazy to think I just ate almost whatever I wanted sans meat/chicken/fish. It wasn’t until I became vegan 4 or so months ago that I started really experimenting in the kitchen. Well, after the long ten year wait-I finally have what I am calling my “Fish Are Friends Not Food No Tuna Salad Sandwich”! This is so exciting, let me tell you! I can not only eat something I always enjoyed-but it’s something healthier for me, and cruelty-free! You can’t get any better than when everyone wins!

I saw that Lindsay Nixon had a “Tuna” salad recipe in her Happy Herbivore book, and I also came across another similar on on a blog. So I basically did what they both did, leaving out a few small things like nutritional yeast, and onion flakes. Anywho, tonight was the night to make it!Serving Size: About 6 Sandwiches

INGREDIENTS:

2 (15 oz.) cans garbonzo beans/chick peas, drained

1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise – I use Nayonaise or Veganase

2/3 cup minced organic celery (I love celery and the crunch so I will probably add more next time)

3 Tbsp. minced dill pickle

2 green onion, chopped

1.5 tsp. soy sauce

1/2 to 1 tsp. organic kelp granules

pepper, to taste

*My mom tried this recipe and added in some yellow mustard and said it was delicious!

*The next time I made this, I took some fresh cauliflower and put it in the food processor and then mixed it in! It adds bulk to the mix and also all the wonderful nutrients from cauliflower! And you can’t even taste it!

DIRECTIONS:

Pour both cans of drained chick peas into a bowl. Mush them up with a fork. This part is where you work for your food. But it’s so worth it! Smush away! Once they’re mushed up a bit, add in the rest of the ingredients and mix! Then toast some whole grain bread and throw in some sprouts or lettuce or whatever fixin’s you like!

Let me know if you guys like it!

Happy New Year! Love, Kelli


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Po-Boy Fest 2011 & BBQ Jackfruit? WTF?!

Hello All!

I wanted to share with you guys about my weekend! Jason and I went to Po-Boy Fest on Oak St. Uptown New Orleans this past Sunday with my mom, step-dad, brother and his girlfriend. It’s a festival a few blocks long of music, art and-you guessed it-different po-boy stands from local restaurants set up all along the street! The past few years I’d always wanted to go but something always came up-plus there really wasn’t going to be a po-boy I could eat most likely. First of all, do ya’ll know what a po-boy is? Let me learn ya a lil sumthin’ in case you don’t! I’m stealing this from FrenchQuarter.com by the way. “…the most widely accepted story holds that the sandwich was invented by Clovis and Benjamin Martin, brothers and former streetcar drivers who opened a restaurant on St. Claude Avenue in the 1920s. When streetcar drivers went on strike in 1929, the brothers took up their cause and created an inexpensive sandwich of gravy and spare bits of roast beef on French bread they would serve the unemployed workers out of the rear of their restaurant. When a worker came to get one, the cry would go up in the kitchen that “here comes another poor boy!,” and the name was transferred to the sandwich, eventually becoming “po-boy” in common usage.” So there you have it! Just a lil ‘ole sandwich for dem poor boys that became such a tradition in New Orleans! Today we have all different kinds of po-boys-roast beef, fried shrimp, oyster, crawfish, eggplant-you name it! If you ever visit, find yourself a po-boy and grab a little taste of New Orleans. The problem for me is the obvious–I very very rarely eat anything fried, and if I want to get an eggplant po-boy, most all people/restaurants use egg in their fry batter. But that’s about to change!

So, back to my Sunday at Po-Boy Fest! I heard through the grapevine that is Facebook that 2 local vegan catering companies – “Dream A Little Green” (http://www.facebook.com/?ref=logo#!/dreamalittlegreen) and “O! Vegasm” (http://www.facebook.com/?ref=logo#!/ovegasm?sk=wall) had teamed up to provide plant-based po-boys for the festival! I was so excited and immediately decided that nothing was going to come between me and eating a po-boy this year! And so we went and oh my goodness-their po-boys were amazing! Jason and I split 2. They used an Asian fruit called “Jackfruit” for both recipes I believe. One was a BBQ jackfruit po-boy with vegan cole slaw on top and it was to-die for! It was smothered in BBQ sauce and was meant to resemble a pulled pork sandwhich. I personally haven’t eaten pork since I was under 10 years old, but my brother and meat-loving my step-dad both said they thought it was amazing and it definitely resembled that flavor. The other po-boy they served was a Maryland Save-the-Crab Cake. This was also awesome, dressed with lettuce and tomato and pickle and maybe a little sauce of some kind–I can’t be sure–we scarfed it down so quickly! My mom ate both of these herself and stood by their stand advertising how awesome they were. She was quite enthusiastic and very impressed with them! After this, I decided that I needed a little more Jackfruit in my life, so I’ve been researching. I even found a recipe that I’m hoping and thinking is similar to their BBQ style po-boy. (http://chowvegan.com/2008/05/28/bbq-pulled-jackfruit-sandwich/). Also, it seems to be a fruit that you can buy fresh, frozen, or canned and that if you can’t find it anywhere else, Asian markets tend to sell them. I’ve read that peeling it yourself can be difficult-so for my first attempt I may try canned or frozen. I’ll post once I get to this! Have any of you heard of or tried jackfruit? If so, send some recipes my way! A whole new world has opened up to me!

Oh and Happy Thanksgiving week!

-Kelli