Sriracha Brussels Sprouts

These are addictive and can be served as a side dish or over pasta. They are simple to prepare and packed with flavor. Better still, they are vegetarian  and vegan if you sub out the honey with agave syrup.
I find brussels sprouts to be very versatile. Even people who claim not to like them are won over by these. Eating your veggies never tasted so good.
 
 
Ingredients 
2 lbs Brussels Sprouts, trimmed and sliced in half. 
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/4 cup Rice or Champagne Vinegar
3 Tbsp Honey or Agave Syrup
2 Tbsp Sriracha Sauce, more if you want it spicier. 
1/8 tsp Sea Salt, or to taste. 
Freshly ground Black Pepper
Preheat oven to 400F and mix together your sauce ingredients, place prepped brussels sprouts into a large bowl and pour sauce over them and mix until they are well coated. 
Pour into a large oven proof dish, which will allow them to be in one layer. Drizzle any remaining sauce over the top and into the oven for 15 minutes. Bring them out and give them a stir and then back for 15-20 minutes, until they are crispy and well browned. 
 
Serve promptly.
 

Pesto Broiled Shrimp

I can’t imagine a dish easier to prepare than this one. It has a fresh basil pesto taste and slightly crunchy crust. 
It works very well with Costco’s Kirkland brand pesto, which I must say, is very good. I prefer my own freshly made, but I never feel the basil in the winter is really up to the task. 
 

 

One suggestion, try to get larger sized shrimp. A 21-25 count is perfect. If you’re not familiar with this phrase, it means you will get 21-25 shrimp in one pound. A smaller number would mean the shrimp would be bigger. 
Ingredients
1 lb Raw Shrimp, shelled and cleaned. 
1/3 cup Pesto
1 Tbsp Parmesan Cheese, grated
Freshly ground Black Pepper
Preheat you oven broiler. Take the raw shrimp and make sure they are patted dry. 
Add them into a large bowl and add the pesto. Toss well to coat, then add the Parmesan cheese and the black pepper and toss again. 
Place them onto a foil lined baking sheet and put under the broiler. Broil for 3 minutes, turn them over and then another 3 minutes and remove and serve immediately. Tongs are very handy to remove them. 
They are wonderful over a salad, on their own as appetizers, or with a side  dish.

Savory, Sweet and Spicy Butternut Squash

This is so decadent and additive. It’s like having your dessert first. It is very easy to make and is quick to cook. It is a little rich, but it is that time of the year. Best of all it\s vegan and no one will ever know.
 
 
I’ve yet to meet anyone that doesn’t like this. However, if you have a real squash hater, you can sub out with sweet potatoes.
 
 

Ingredients

 
2 lbs Butternut Squash, cubed to about 1 inch. 
3 Tbsp Earth Balance
3 Tbsp Maple Syrup
1/8 tsp Chili Flakes
1/4 tsp Sea Salt
A few grinds of Black Pepper
Preheat oven to 400F and arrange all ingredients in a Pyrex baking dish. Ideally, they should be in one layer, but a little overlap is okay. 
 
Bake for 20 minutes, stir things around a bit and bake for another 15-20 minutes, or until done. 
Note: You can adjust the maple syrup and chili flakes to make it more or less sweet and more or less spicy. 
 

Vegan? Vegetarian? What’s the deal?

I am often asked why I post vegan, vegetarian and some older recipes including meat on my blog.

Well, it’s fairly simple, a 100% vegan diet is a bridge too far for some people. To be frank, sometimes it’s a challenge for me as well. Do I occasionally eat dairy, eggs and very rarely some seafood and meat? Yes I do, but must admit I feel better when I stay closer to vegan.


I never intended for my diet to be a political statement. I am enthusiastic about it, but try not to be preachy. Sometimes I probably get too animated about it, but that’s me. Haha!


My goal has always been to encourage and inspire people with healthy non meat recipes and options and to also make the case for a more plant based diet.


Some will notice that some of my much older posts contain recipes with meat. I considered deleting them when I transitioned to an occasional meat diet, but decided that whatever brings people to my blog is a good thing, as it shows people that they have non meat options.


Even encouraging people to feel confident and comfortable with having one meat free day per week, would be a huge step forward for them and our planet.


Bon appetite!

Cajun Fish and Rice

This is a fantastic one pot meal. It’s not difficult  to throw together and can feed a fairly large group. It’s packed with flavor, and has a nice soft spicy flavor. 
 
 
A few things to remember. You need a thicker filleted fish and a fish that has some fat. Cod is perfect, as are hake and monkfish. Halibut could work, but tuna would be a bit too dry. 

Ingredients

1 1/2 lbs Cod, cut into fairly large pieces. Dusted with Old Bay Seasoning or a Cajun spice mix (Tony Chacheres is perfect) on both sides. 
4 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
3 cloves Garlic, sliced
1 Large Onion, chopped 
1 Red Pepper, chopped
1 Stalk Celery, chopped
 1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper
1/2 tsp Thyme
Pinch of Cloves
3 Bay Leaves
2 cups Medium Grain Rice
4 cups Vegetable Broth 
Salt and Pepper to taste 
Preheat your oven to 375F/190C/Mark 5.
Heat 3 Tbsp of oil a heavy Dutch oven (Le Cruset is perfect), that has a cover and can be put into the oven. Add the onion, garlic, red pepper and celery and salt and pepper and sauté until lightly browned. 
While sautéing the vegetables, heat up a sauté pan with the remaining 1 Tbsp of oil and lightly sear your cod. Just 1 minutes per side and then set aside. 
Add the rest of your ingredients to the Dutch oven, except the fish, rice and vegetable broth and sauté for 3-4 minutes. 
Add the rice and sauté for 1 minutes, coating well. Add the broth and bring up to a simmer. Gently place the fish into the broth and put on the cover and into the oven for 35 minutes. 
Remove from oven and allow to rest covered for 5-10 minutes and serve with hot sauce.

Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Sauce

This is a wonderful sauce for pasta, noodles or brown rice.

Its simplicity is the key. It’s only 6 ingredients. Olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, red peppers and cherry tomatoes. With this basic sauce you can do whatever you like. It’s very good on its own, or you may add wine, chilis, basil, the list is endless. 

Slow cooking concentrates the flavors and creates something akin to a vegetable confit. I use produce from my own garden, but if you don’t have a garden, just find the freshest organic produce you can find. I particularly like using my Corno de Toro peppers and sweet cherry tomatoes.

Ingredients 
2 large Red Peppers, or 4 -5 Corno de Toro peppers, seeds and membranes removed.
2-3 cups of Cherry Tomatoes
4 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 clove Garlic, crushed with side of knife.
1/2 tsp Sea Salt
Freshly ground Black Pepper
Optional: Wine, Chilis, Basil, Thyme, Capers, Lemon, grated Ginger Root.

Slice the peppers and bring the olive oil up to temp in a large sauté pan. Add the garlic and after it becomes fragrant, add the peppers a cook over medium heat for about 10-15 minutes. Add salt and black pepper and then add the cherry tomatoes, being sure to puncture each one. Otherwise, they have nasty habit of exploding.

Sauté for an additional 10 min and reduce heat to low and simmer until done. If you are going to add any optional ingredients, now is the time. Give it at least an hour on the low simmer.

Hint: I find that mashing the tomatoes with the back of a wooden spoon or a potato masher works well to create a thicker sauce.

I like to serve it over pasta or brown rice.  I find that some non dairy Parmesan cheese is perfect to finish it.

Chu Chee Seafood Curry- Southern Thai Goodness

This is one of my favorite Thai curries. I first had it in the south of Thailand in Surat Thani at the bus station on my way to Phuket. It had every kind of seafood imaginable. Some of the seafood had been grilled, so it was epic. 

My version is much simpler, and although it sounds a bit involved, it really isn’t. Just have everything ready to go and you will be rewarded with a wonderful meal which is bursting with flavors. 
Feel free to add whatever seafood you like and if you are allergic to shellfish, it is just perfect with fish. Or, if you want to make it vegetarian, just add deep fried tofu or broccoli.
Ingredients

1 lb Fish, cut into 3 inch squares. I use cod. 
6 Large Shrimp, shelled. 
6 large Scallops, scored. 
1 4oz can Chu Chee Curry Paste, easily found in Thai or Most Chinese markets. 
1 13.5 oz can Coconut Milk
3 Tbsp Oil
4 Thai Chilies, whole or chopped, if you like it very spicy.
2 Tsp Sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp Fish Sauce
1 1/2 Tbsp Lime Juice
Fresh Kaffir Lime Leaves, lovely if you can find them. 
Prepare your fish and other seafood and heat the oil in a large sauté pan which has a lid. 
Once the oil is hot, add your curry paste and keep stirring. After it is fragrant, add your fish and lightly sear each side. Maybe 1 minute per side. Remove to a plate and add your Thai chilies. Stir for maybe one minute. Then add your coconut milk and sugar and cook on a medium simmer for 5 minutes. 
Add in your fish, shrimp and scallops and make sure they are well coated with the sauce. Reduce the heat to a soft simmer. Put on the lid and cook for 6-7 minutes.
Turn off the heat, add the fish sauce, kaffir lime leaves and lime juice, mix well and serve over steamed Jasmine rice. 

KFC Fried Chicken with 11 Herbs and Spices

Here’s the back story. The Chicago Tribune was interviewing Harland Sander’s nephew, and in a scrapbook he showed the reporter a hand written recipe for the original KFC. 
“The recipe came to us (Chicago Tribune) by way of Colonel Harland Sander’s nephew, Joe Ledington of Kentucky. He says he found it in a scrapbook belonging to his late Aunt Claudia, Sanders’ second wife. Ledington, 67, says he used to blend the spices that went into his uncle’s world-famous fried chicken, and the recipe in question is the real deal.”
So, here you go:
Ingredients 
2 cups all-purpose flour
2/3 Tbsp Salt
1/2 Tbsp dried Thyme
1/2 Tbsp dried Basil
1/3 Tbsp dried Oregano
1 Tbsp Celery Salt
1 Tbsp ground Black Pepper
1 Tbsp dried Mustard
4 Tbsp Paprika
2 Tbsp Garlic Salt
1 Tbsp ground Ginger
3 Tbsp ground White Pepper
1 cup Buttermilk
1 Egg, beaten
1 Chicken, cut up, the breast pieces cut in half for more even frying
Expeller-pressed canola oil
1) Mix the flour in a bowl with all the herbs and spices; set aside.
2) Mix the buttermilk and egg together in a separate bowl until combined. Soak the chicken in the buttermilk mixture at room temperature, 20-30 minutes.
3) Remove chicken from the buttermilk, allowing excess to drip off. Dip the chicken pieces in the herb-spice-flour mixture to coat all sides, shaking off excess. Allow to sit on a rack over a baking sheet, 20 minutes.
4) Meanwhile, heat about 3 inches of the oil in a large Dutch oven (or similar heavy pot with high sides) over medium-high heat to 350 degrees. (Use a deep-frying thermometer to check the temperature.) 
When temperature is reached, lower the heat to medium to maintain it at 350. Fry 3 or 4 pieces at a time, being careful not to crowd the pot. Fry until medium golden brown, turning once, 15-18 minutes. 
Transfer chicken pieces to a baking sheet covered with paper towels. Allow the oil to return to temperature before adding more chicken. Repeat with remaining chicken.

Note: This would be very good with Portobello mushrooms.
A note on MSG: A number of readers have asked how much MSG to use in the recipe above. Although KFC has confirmed that its present-day recipe uses MSG, that ingredient was not part of the list of herbs and spices we received from the Colonel’s nephew, so we didn’t include MSG in the published recipe. But we did taste the fried chicken with a sprinkle of MSG. If you want to try the chicken with MSG, we suggest doing as we did: Sprinkle a little on the finished chicken pieces right before eating.

Coconut Rice – Pure Comfort Food

I’m not sure if this is more of an southern Indian dish, a Southeast Asian, or Carribean dish, as I have had it in many countries with slight variations, but either way, it is a fantastic side dish which is the perfect foil for so many main dishes. Its easy to prepare and very good indeed.

I will include the variations at the end of the recipe, as there are so many options, but here is my basic recipe and you can let your creativity flow from there.

Ingredients

2 cups of high quality Jasmine Rice, such as Hom Mali.
1 14 oz can of Coconut Milk
1 1/2 cups of water
1 tsp Sugar
Pinch of salt
1/4 cup of toasted Coconut, sweetened or unsweetened.

Begin by rinsing the rice well in cold water. Then drain and add in all ingredients except the toasted coconut.

Bring to a boil and then cover with a tight fitting lid and reduce heat and allow to cook for 15 minutes. While the rice is cooking, toast the coconut in a 375F oven on a baking sheet and then remove and set aside. 

Remove rice from the heat, stir gently with a fork and replace lid and allow to set for 10 minutes. Remove lid, fold in the toasted coconut and serve.

Optional Toppings:
Green Onions
Cashews 
Fried Shallots
Cilantro

Vegan Fish Tacos – No Guilt!

These are very good, good for you and will fool most anyone into thinking they are having authentic fish tacos right on the beach in Baja California Norte. 
This is not just a dish for vegans, but also for anyone who is allergic to seafood or fish.
If you don’t yet have access to Gardein products, use another suitable vegan fish filet. You may also prepare these grilled style, rather than a fried style. 
Note: Many Chinese markets have a good selection of vegan meat substitutes in their frozen case. Additionally, if you are unable to find soft corn tortillas, you can substitute the hard tortilla shells, but wrap them in a warm flour tortilla to hold it all together. 
Ingredients
 
8 soft Corn Tortillas
4 Gardein Vegan Fish Fillets, cooked and cut in half
1/2 cup Shredded Cabbage
1/4 cup Cilantro, coarsely chopped. 
Lime wedges, to serve on side
Slice of Avocado, optional
Sauce:
4 Tbsp Vegan Mayonnaise
1 Tbsp Green Onion, finely chopped 
1 tsp Mustard, yellow or Dijon
1 1/2 Tbsp Ketchup
1/2 tsp Old Bay Seasoning
1/8 tsp Black Pepper, freshly ground. 
Serves 4, makes 8 tacos
Begin by preheating your oven to prepare the fish filets. While oven is heating, prepare your sauce. 
Begin with your vegan mayo and add each ingredient one by one, gently folding them together. Set into the fridge. 
Put your fish filets into the oven and cook as directed. Wrap your soft tortillas in aluminum foil and put into the oven for the last 3 minutes of cooking. Remove tortillas from oven and remove the fish filets. 
Cut the filets in half and assemble your tacos. A soft tortilla, a small amount of sauce, then 1/2 fish filet, cabbage and more sauce. Finish with cilantro and fold in half. Serve with lime wedges on the side. 
Hot sauce on the table is a must.