Fried Eggplant

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On Sunday I had gotten a very beautiful eggplant from the lovely lake Eola farmers market in downtown Orlando. I hadn’t gotten a chance to use it yet, but I had been promising Keely I would make her eggplant for the first time, and I delivered. I did a very simple fried eggplant.

You’ll need:

1 1/2 cups flour
4 eggs
Garlic powder
Salt & pepper to taste

Mix the flour, a pinch of salt and pepper and a tsp of garlic powder in a dish suitable for dipping the eggplant. Crack the eggs scramble and put in a bowl. I like to double dip my batter so it gets a nice thick crust because who likes soggy eggplant.

Once they were done to a nice crisp I lightly salted them because I wasn’t using cheese or sauce and just eating them plain. They were a hit amongst the family well except for my significant other Chas who isn’t a fan of the texture of eggplant. More eggplant for me! and Keely of course.

Jenni’s step by step picture guide to cooking the perfect artichoke!

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Artichokes are one of the most labor intensive food to eat, but they yield a delightful taste, that makes all the work worth it! I tried my first artichoke eight or nine years ago, and it continues to be a favorite!

Now, I understand that artichokes are scary looking…and often quite expensive! I found these two beautiful artichokes on sale at Publix today, and decided that I must make them for dinner (and one for lunch tomorrow!). In order to demystify the experience of cooking an artichoke, I became an artichoke paparazzi. Here is Jenni’s step by step picture guide to cooking the perfect artichoke!

Ingredients:

2 artichokes
6 or so cloves of garlic
olive oil
black pepper
parsely

First, you need a cutting board and a very very sharp knife. Shout out to my ancient best friend Elizabeth for gifting me with sharp knives this christmas! (ancient in that we have known eachother for over 21 years…not because she is old)

Lay the artichoke on the cutting board

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And chop off the top

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Then survey the bottom for small leaves that do not seem to add to the integrity of the artichoke

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And get rid of them. Then, using a kitchen scissor, cut off the tops of each leaf. You do not want the pointy pieces on the artichoke!

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As you can see, the right hand side side is nicely trimmed…

Your next step is to make sure that they fit into a pot snuggly…chop off part of the stem to help them stand properly

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Taking the artichokes one at a time, open the leaves and place garlic in them. I aim for a tiny piece of garlic in each leaf!

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Once both are filled with garlic, place back in the pot and generously sprinkle parsley and pepper over the artichokes. I also use two tbs of olive oil per artichoke.

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Finally, add water to the pot, up to the bottom leaves.

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Place on the stove, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover (while vented) and wait. Mine took about 40 minutes to cook. To test, uncover, pry off a leaf (gently rinse it as it will be very hot!) and glide the tender side of the aritchoke leaf against your teeth. If it comes off clean, and soft (and tastes awesome!) then your artichokes are done! If it is rough, and not quite flavorful, they are not ready!

Finished product should look like this:

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To eat: take off a leaf at a time.

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Bite lightly towards the middle of the leaf, and slide across your bottom row of teeth. This gets the inner ‘meat’ of the leaf. As mentioned earlier, this is quite labor intensive!

When you get to the part that looks like hair,

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gently scoop out with a spoon

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and then eat the bottom portion.

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The hair is the ‘choke’ the bottom part underneath is the ‘heart’ and the best part!

This meal is well worth the work and wait. Vegan, healthy, and a good meal to share!!

Mushroom Garlic Butter Sauce over Pasta- another Keely&Kristina Adventure

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I return to again with another garlic and mushroom fueled recipe. I had the rest of my mushrooms from the farmers market, I wanted to go again today but I got stuck working, so Keely mentioned mushrooms with butter. I was curious about the idea and she googled a recipe that sounded good and turned the mushrooms and garlic into a sauce.

For this recipe you will need,

1/4 c butter
4 gloves garlic
1 cup mushrooms
Salt&pepper

Place half the butter in a pan at medium and melt the butter when it is melted add the garlic until lightly browned. While this is happening chop your mushrooms to desired size, and then toss in with the garlic and butter cook down until soft and add the other portion of butter. We added a little bit of olive oil to make a big more sauce.

Place over pasta and ta-da.

Enjoy!

Late night mushroom omelette with Keely!

Hello long lost land of WordPress and all my lovely food blog lovers out there. 🙂 It has been quite sometime since I have graced the WordPress stratosphere with my sarcastic food loving presence. It has been a whirlwind of activity since I last spoke to you all. I went home for thanksgiving, shortly after I had finals and then Christmas break, as soon as that was over I went to Pennsylvania with my boyfriend Chas for New Years. Where I had every intention of blogging some of the fantastic things we made with his brother Patrick and sister in law Beth, but time just got away with us.

So I am here to tell you about the mushroom omelette we made on Thursday night. I had gone to the farmers market with Jenni on Sunday and gotten some lovely fresh fruit and veggies but, I didn’t know what I was going to do with them. I’ve been staying at my boyfriend families house quite frequently and his sister keely (who is an insomniac like me) has quickly become my night time hang out awesome friend and sous chef. She shares my love of mushrooms so we decided to make an omelette.

So for this you will need 4 eggs, minced garlic, a hand full of mushrooms, half an onion.

Set the heat for medium, mixed up eggs with a fork and put in a small/medium pan depending on the size of the omelette you want and the amount of insides you are putting. Let it whiten a bit and then add the ingredients to one side. Push the side of the eggs that doesn’t have the veggies and drain the excess liquid off to the side, no one likes soggy eggs. Once all the liquid is drained flip the one side over the other and serve.

I’ll have another late night creation for you guys tomorrow. Stay tuned.

I’m back!! 🙂

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Two lovely vegan sandwiches…with Avocados

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Growing up, I was continuously exposed to new and exciting foods. I did, however, have my food hangups. I abhorred onions, and refused to eat sandwiches. I did not like bread touching my food, which also removed traditional hamburgers from my list of acceptable food items. My poor mother, sending me off to school with a decent lunch was no easy feat! No PB&J, no turkey sandwich, no sub, nothing! It was a running joke with my family that my first ‘real’ job was at Firehouse Subs…selling the one product I refused to eat! (I was a fan of their meatball sub, as it reminded me of eating meatballs with italian bread).

Now that I have grown older, my taste buds have shifted. I am still opposed to onions, but I have come to a détente with sandwiches, especially those that have been pressed in a george forman like a panini!

So today, I present you with two different sandwiches, both vegan, and both extraordinarily delicious.


Sandwich Adventure #1

Ingredients for the “Everything Jenni posts about all the time sandwich” (I should copyright that name!)

2 pieces of 5 grain Italian bread
1/2 avocado
a handful of cherry tomatoes
a few mushrooms
some spinach
pesto (see pesto recipe here

Spread Pesto on both sides of the bread, add the spinach, avocado, sliced mushrooms, and sliced tomatoes. Cover and press in george forman until the bread is cooked!

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Sandwich adventure #2

Since I had a lot of vegetables in my fridge from my recent splurge at Fancy Fruit and Produce, I decided to try to make my own salsa, again. I also wanted a sandwhich that required salsa, so I veganfied a sandwich recipe from the local sandwich shop “PomPoms”.

The last time I tried it using my individual cup attachment on my blender. This time I used the entire blender.

Homemade Salsa Ingredients

Handful of cilantro
3 garlic cloves
2 green peppers
1/2 ear of corn
~ 10 cherry tomatoes
1 tsp lemon juice
pinch of sea salt
red pepper flakes (if desired)

First dice the cilantro and garlic in the blender. Add in the two green peppers and pulse until chopped, but not liquid. Move to a airsafe container. Next, pulse the tomatoes, salt, and red pepper flakes until the tomatoes are in small pieces with some juice released to the bottom of the blender. Add the second mixture to the first, and add the corn. Place in fridge for 30 minutes to allow the flavors to blend. Amazing!

Ingredients for the “Shameless vegan knockoff of the Awesome PomPom’s “Low-Rider” sandwich”

2 pieces of 5 grain Italian bread
1/2 avocado
black beans
spinach
cream cheese (vegan!)
homemade salsa

Spread the cream cheese on the bread, add avocado, black beans, and salsa. Top with spinach and another piece of bread. Press in george forman, or other pressing device. Sit back and admire the genius of the flavors in this unusual sandwich!

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Peri Peri Veggies and CousCous

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During the summer of 2011, I was fortunate to travel with a lovely group of ladies (and one guy, Jay!) to the beautiful country of Botswana. When in Botswana, we would regularly dine at a restaurant named Nandos. Nandos was known for its “Chicken PeriPeri” a dish so spicy and hot that it made us sweat, even though it was the middle of winter! (Botswana is in the southern hemisphere, so their seasons are aptly switched. Contrary to prior beliefs, it was actually fairly cold in Botswana! The heat of this dish was welcome!)

Recently I ran into a woman from Botswana while out and about downtown Orlando. What a small world! While reminiscing about Botswana cuisine, I learned that there was an international food store near downtown that sold PeriPeri sauce! I finally made it down to the International Food Club today, and was completely psyched to find PeriPeri sauce from Nandos!!! Hooray!

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Since I am now a vegan, I obviously did not recreate the Chicken PeriPeri dish…I did use what I remembered from the food though and created the following dish.

PeriPeri Veggies and CousCous

1 green bell pepper
1 red pepper
3 cloves of garlic
2 zucchini
2 small squash
generous handful of mushrooms
3 tbs wild herb peri peri sauce
olive oil for the frying pan
1 cup dry couscous

Cous Cous expands a lot…I used 2 cups and it yielded five cups of cooked couscous, so I recommend only using one in this recipe. 1 cup of dry couscous for every 1 1/4 cups of water. Boil the water first, add couscous, cover and simmer. You should rinse the couscous first until the water runs clear as to get rid of any gunk that may be in the mixture. Once the couscous has absorbed all of the water, remove from heat and allow to sit.

While the couscous is cooking, dice all of the vegetables! place in a container that has a lid and add 3 tbs of peri peri sauce. Cover and shake until everything is coated! Place in a frying pan with some olive oil and garlic and cover. Stir intermittently until vegetables are to a desired tenderness!

Note: My ‘large’ frying pan was too small to hold all of the vegetables, so I had to cook this in shifts. This recipe makes ALOT of food. I did not, however, want to place “half of a pepper” in the recipe. Also, leftovers rock!

Once the veggies are done, place couscous in a bowl, add vegetables and enjoy! I added more periperi sauce for an additional heat, although it is already quite spicy!

While I give this recipe multiple stars for the reminiscent factor, it is actually quite good! Kristina agreed, as she benefited from my cooking skills.

Fresh Vegetables Lightly SautĂ©ed…and a quick note about my hair!

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This weekend was a whirlwind…I had attended a double bachelorette party for two of my good friends, my former roommate of four years, Kaylee, came down to Orlando to visit, and I was a hair model for Mosaic Hair Salon and Blow Out Bar during the Orlando ‘I do’ Bridal Crawl. During the Bridal Crawl, I acted as a hair model getting extensions, and now I have lovely long hair! I could not be more excited!

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I have not had hair past my shoulders for 10 years, and I am near clueless on what amazing things I can accomplish with my new hair. To aid me in my journey, I enlisted the help of Christine, who works the marketing side of Mosaic. It was during one of our ‘lets teach Jenni how to do hair’ sessions that I came up with the following recipe (see! I had a food related point to make after all!)

Fresh vegetables Lightly Sautéed

2 tbs olive oil
3 cloves of garlic
2 yellow squash, chopped
handful of cherry tomatoes, diced
1-2 cups of fresh kale sliced
1 red/green combination pepper chopped
fresh basil to season
fresh oregano to season
juice from 1/2 lemon

This is a great way to clean out the fridge! Lightly sauté the garlic in the olive oil. Add the squash, tomatoes, kale, and pepper. Let sit for a few minutes. Add basil, oregano, and lemon juice. Lower heat and cover. Cook until the vegetables are tender.

This colorful dish is a healthy snack, or meal! (I had been grazing all day, and needed a healthy snack!) As this dish is quick (under 15 minutes, if timed correctly) it is great for when you need to throw something together! Did I mention cleaning out the fridge?

Fresh Vegan Fiesta Pizza

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I have cooked a few times after the last post, but few of my creations were blog worthy. :/ While going through a mental checklist of food in my fridge, I realized that I had a few more pieces of flatbread from my last pizza adventure waiting to be used. After stopping by my favorite produce store Fancy Fruit and Produce, I came up with the ingredients for a Fresh, Vegan, Fiesta Pizza. Everything in this recipe (with exception of the pizza crust) is unprocessed!

Ingredients

“Salsa Sauce”
Cilantro
3 cloves garlic
1 Green Bell Pepper
1 Red Bell Pepper
half a small lime of lime juice
1 cup of black beans

For the base, I decided to create a salsa from scratch. I first blended one stem (with leaves) of fresh cilantro with three cloves of garlic. I then added one green and one red (both deseeded) bell pepper. My blender then did something really unusual. Instead of chopping as it usually does, it decided to completely liquify the mixture! I guess my new juicer gave it appliance envy. The liquid salsa tasted amazing though, but was too runny to use as a base. Fortunately, I was already making black beans in my rice cooker, and I was able to add a cup of cooked black beans to the mixture, blend, and come up with the perfect consistency to substitute a traditional tomato sauce. I did add lime juice to the mixture.

Pizza topping

spinach
mushrooms
tomatos
corn
black beans

With two flat bread crusts waiting on a larger pizza pan, I spread the salsa sauce evenly onto both. I then added (surprise!) spinach, chopped mushrooms, chopped tomatoes, corn cut from the ear, and extra black beans from the rice cooker batch. The pizzas went in the oven at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes, or until the sides started to brown.

I was also in the process of making guacamole to take to a work function tomorrow. I used some of the guacamole as a side garnish for this dish.

Guacamole Ingredients

3 hass avocados
3 cloves of garlic
sea salt
black pepper
handful of cherry tomatoes
1 stem of cilantro
juice from half of a lime (convenient since half is used earlier!)

Combine all into your favorite blending tool, and blend until smooth. Instant party favorite!

Add the guacamole to the pizza, once it is baked for a delicious, fresh, vegan meal!

Vegan Pesto Green Pizza!

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Living downtown means that pizza is a staple in my diet. With a pizza place on almost every street (and sometimes across the street from each other!), the temptation to stray from a vegan diet is strong! While I have had one of the pizzerias make me a cheese-less personal pizza, I find it much more satisfying to create my own!

Tonight’s dish was an incredible green pesto pizza. I used a recipe from pinterest, more specifically, from Eating Well. I also used a combination of recipes to create the pesto base.

Ingredients for Pizza (makes two pizzas, perfect for dinner and lunch! I guess you could also share them…)

2 pieces of whole wheat flatbread
2 cups of broccoli florets
2 large handfuls of fresh spinach
7 (or so) asparagus stems
2 cloves Garlic
pesto (see recipe below)
daiya mozzarella
salt and pepper to taste

Pesto!
3-4 cloves of garlic
1 1/2 cups of fresh basil
1/4 cup of sliced almonds
3 tbs of olive oil
coarse sea salt

One of my favorite things about this recipe is that it extremely easy and fast to make! First, place broccoli in a pan with 1/4 cup of water and 2 sliced cloves of garlic, cover and cook until slightly tender. While the broccoli is cooking, combine the pesto ingredients (garlic, basil, almonds, olive oil, sea salt) in a blender and combine. IF your blender is like mine, in that it is totally awesome, but does not do the trick for pesto…add a little bit of water, and watch magic occur. If you add too much water, you can always add more basil to thicken the mixture.

After the pesto is formed, or in between altering consistency, throw sliced asparagus and the spinach into the pan withe broccoli, and cover. The goal is to get the asparagus slightly tender and the spinach wilty.

With the veggies on the stove…and the pesto perfect, it is time to start constructing the pizza. Using a pizza pan, or a baking sheet, cover the flat bread crusts with pesto. Once the spinach starts to wilt, drain the vegetables and divide them equally between the pizzas. Sprinkle daiya (or real) mozzarella on top. Place in oven at 450 for 10-15 minutes, depending on personal taste and how crispy you desire the crust to be.

This is probably the best pizza this side of Orlando!

Homemade Vegan Bread!

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I adore bread, and fortunately, many of the loaves of bread at Publix are made without eggs or dairy! A few days ago I decided to try something different. I had made my own pita bread, I had made my own ( homemade tortillas, I was ready to try a loaf of bread!

Scouring the internet, I found the necessary ingredients. Adding and subtracting a few items, I finalized my list to five key ingredients

2 cups of flour
1 tps seasoned salt
1 tbs active yeast
1 cup of boiling water
1 tbs olive oil

Mix the flour, salt, and yeast together in a bowl, with a defined well in the middle. Slowly add the boiling water and oil, stirring with a spoon until thoroughly mixed. Allow to cool for a few minutes before taking out of the bowl and kneading on the counter. Since you just used boiling water, the dough is going to be really hot!

Knead the dough until it becomes stretchy and pliable. If the mixture is too sticky, add flour to smooth out the consistency. After 5-6 minutes of kneading the dough, place it back in the bowl and cover with a damp cloth.

Find something else to do for the next hour. I watched the one and a half episodes of the West Wing.

After you have left the dough to rise and expand for the past hour, knead it again, break into two loaves, and sit in a greased pan to rise again for another 20 minutes (or until the second half of West Wing is over).

Bake in the oven at 325 for 40 minutes.

Yes, this recipe is quite labor intensive, and it would probably have been easier to run downstairs to publix to grab a loaf of bread. This bread, however, is really good, and made even more delicious knowing that it is homemade.