Summer has been very hot in New Jersey this year. I don’t think it’s usually quite this hot, although I don’t know for certain as it’s only our second summer here. When the heat rivals summer in the Midwest, meals for us usually consist of whatever Alex has grilled that day, leftovers from when Alex grilled, pancakes (because I use an electric griddle), or BLTs, which are really cooling if you (perhaps heretically) microwave your bacon and don’t heat up your oven or a frying pan.
This Eggplant and Barley Salad from Smitten Kitchen is really very nice in the summer, once you get past the steps of roasting vegetables. I first made this salad a few years ago, and I really liked it. Alex doesn’t like eggplant, but he enjoys this salad. Roasting the eggplant makes it a little less eggplanty and more delicious. The barley is tender yet chewy, flavored with cumin and coriander. The grain is surprisingly good cold. I usually don’t like salads because dressing is too vinegary or assertive, but this salad is dressed with olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic, all of which I like. Tomatoes and roasted zucchini (and olives, if those are your thing) give the dish extra flavor. I love the balanced flavors in this dish.
This is a delicious, flavorful summer salad. It works great as a make-ahead vegetarian/vegan meal and is perfect as leftovers on a lot summer day. We had 4 dinner-sized servings plus some for a toddler, but it would yield more as a side dish.
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One-Pan Farro with Tomatoes is one of my favorite new dishes. I’ve made it several times already since I first tried it. It involves minimal prep – maybe about 10 minutes while you cut everything up and heat the pot. It’s easy enough to do with a toddler playing at your feet, or sitting on the counter watching you. It’s ready after 30 minutes of hands-off cooking. It smells amazing by the time it’s done, more amazing than you think anything with this few ingredients can be.
This will serve two and a toddler as a vegetarian meal, or more as a side dish.
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One of the soups that I’ve made a few times recently(ish) is the Carrot Soup with Tahini and Chickpeas from Smitten Kitchen. It’s a healthy and delicious soup, and is pretty quick and easy to make.
The soup itself is lightly spiced. Do not skip the sesame-lemon drizzle! It provides a definite punch of flavor, making the soup anything but boring. The addition of chickpeas also makes this more interesting than your usual blended veggie soup. In some ways, it’s like eating a soup version of hummus. As a meal, this soup is light but filling. It’s also vegetarian and vegan!
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My friend Kate came from St. Louis to visit us in New Jersey! She was the first of our friends to visit (aside from when she and Jen drove out here with me). Alex and I were very excited to have her as a house guest. We three and baby had a great time visiting the boardwalk in Ocean City (which I think I prefer over Atlantic City’s) as well as relaxing at home.
Kate didn’t just visit us – she visited on her birthday! I don’t yet have much of an opportunity to cook and bake (although hopefully that will change soonish), but I had to make her something. Kate is vegan, so of course the Vegan Clementine Cupcake recipe from King Arthur Flour jumped out at me when I saw it this month.
The cupcakes were incredibly easy to make. The recipe calls for peeled, finely chopped clementines or tangerines, but I think any flavorful seedless orange would work. I took a hint from the reviews, and used mandarins from Trader Joe’s and left the thin skins on them. Rather than chop them by hand, I whirred them in my bullet blender for a few seconds until it was slightly chunky pulp. These cupcakes are vegan, but they don’t take any fancy ingredients other than fresh citrus. Vegan or not, they’re the best orange cake I’ve ever tasted.
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For Bread 38, I made an old favorite of mine, Big Sur Hide Bread, that could be made vegan. I’ve made and written about it on here twice, including early in 2010. Every time I make it, I wonder why I haven’t made it more often. It’s incredibly easy to make, and takes very little time overall.
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My family came to visit for Memorial Day, and we had quite a cookout, despite threats of rain and storms. It was a great excuse to dive back into traditional baking and make some hamburger buns for Bread Week 22. I wanted a lot of them to pair with the lots of leftovers that we would inevitably have, so I decided to retry the King Arthur Flour buns recipe that I made in 2010 for my 365 recipe challenge.
I was just as happy with the results now as I was in 2014. This is a great hamburger or brat bun recipe if you want a serious bun to stand up to a hefty filling at toppings.
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For Bread Week 20, I decided to try out this Gluten-Free Vegan Bread recipe from Fork and Beans. I wanted to have something that I could have as toast for breakfast this week. Overall I’ve liked the recipes from Fork and Beans that I’ve tried, so I decided to give this bread a try, and I’m really glad that I did. It was hearty and satisfying.
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My friend Kate was willing to sacrifice a birthday dinner so she could watch a co-ed softball game that her friends play on. That’s friendship. To show how special she is, I thought I would surprise Kate with cake!
Kate is also vegan, which makes baking a little, but not a lot, trickier. I also had to make something gluten-free if I wanted to make sure everything tasted okay, as any good baker will do. (How do you discover you forgot the sugar unless you taste the batter?) So I went to a website she shared with me, and found this recipe for gluten-free and vegan Mini Chocolate Bundt Cakes.
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I really enjoy it when my friends send me recipes. My friend Kate came across this recipe for gluten-free (and vegan) cinnamon rolls. I really enjoyed the bagels that I made from a recipe from Fork and Beans, so I was happy to try it for Bread Week 17. I am very happy that I did. The cinnamon rolls were excellent!
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I don’t make single-vegetable soups very often. I’ve eaten enough boring ones to be indifferent. I like a little more texture in my soup than you usually get from a pureed or cream soup. I like my soup to be hearty; I don’t want a light appetizer soup at home. However, I can always come up with counterexamples of tasty or hearty ones.
I’ve made this Miso-Carrot Soup twice now, so it’s clearly one of the good ones. It’s simple and uncomplicated to make, and you feel healthy once you’re finished eating. Plus, this soup is hearty enough that you don’t feel like you still need dinner when you’re done eating it.
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