#52NewEats :: Week 32 :: Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

Guysssssss.  Who knew vegan desserts could be SO delicious?

This is another recipe from my friend Daniela over at //dulce y natural// blog.  The //original recipe// was for chocolate chip cookies, but for whatever reason, the dough did not really come together enough for me to be able to roll into a ball, so I improvised and pressed it into a pan to make chocolate chip cookie bars instead.  I suspect my issue may have been that my house was so warm to start, that my coconut oil was already in the liquid state.  In her blog Daniela instructs you to work quickly with your hands in the dough, as the heat from your hands will keep the coconut oil soft.  Maybe when she made them, the coconut oil started to firm up just enough to tighten up the dough.  But not for me on a 90-degree day here in the Pennsylvania countryside!

Regardless, these chocolate chip cookie bars were a major success.  I baked them for the same amount of time, maybe a minute or two longer, than the cookie recipe, and they made my house smell amazing!  I lined an 8×8 pan with parchment paper, and when the cookie bars were done baking and had cooled a bit, I lifted them out of the pan and cut them into bars with a chef’s knife.  The day I made them, I was meeting my mostly-vegan BFF for dinner and decided to bring a box for her and her wife to share.  The next day she texted me and said they couldn’t stop eating them and they wanted the recipe!

These chocolate chip cookie bars were made from ingredients I already had in my house, which was also awesome, because I didn’t have to go buy anything fancy to make them – and, also, because that means I can basically make them anytime I want!  I hope you head on over to Daniela’s blog and give these chocolate chip cookies (or cookie bars!) a try.  And while you’re there check out the rest of the recipes… I’ve got my eye on that carrot cake next!!

#52NewEats :: Week 31 :: Watermelon Margaritas

Watermelon Margarita

We had a big BBQ over the 4th of July weekend and of course, abiding by American standards, I bought a big watermelon.  Well actually, I thought I bought a small watermelon, or at least a smallER watermelon, but it was still entirely too much for our party.  So, I served half of it in cut wedges, and cubed the other half and froze them on a baking sheet.  Once they were frozen, I stored them in plastic bags.

Figuring, surely, someday, I would find a use for frozen watermelon… right?  🙄

Well, magically, then I did!  Sometimes I swear it’s like Pinterest reads my mind.  Scrolling through just after our party, BOOM, up pops this recipe for //Watermelon Margaritas//.  The good news is, I had all the ingredients on hand, except for the simple syrup, which I could whip up real quick anyway (in case you don’t know: equal parts sugar + water simmered over low heat until the sugar has evaporated).  So, as soon as the opportunity presented itself, I made these margaritas…. and then, I made more…. and then I made some more….

They were SO good.  SO.  GOOD.  And I still have frozen watermelon in my freezer, so I reckon I may go home and have another one tonight.  #drinkydrinkyfuntime  With a little bit of prep, you will have a bar-worthy drink to serve to your guests.  Or, to just yourself, if you’re like me.  And there ain’t nothing wrong with that.

#52NewEats :: Week 30 :: Apple Almond Muffins

Apple Almond Muffins

I met an adorable fellow food blogger, Daniela, in the food bloggers group on Facebook, and immediately fell in love with her work because….. well, because the very first post I read of hers had the F word in it, and I knew she was my kind of girl!

Ok, ok, ok… also, because, she focuses primarily on sweets?  But uh, not just any sweets, vegan sweets!  If you have not dabbled in vegetarianism or veganism, you might be sitting there wondering just how possible it is to create vegan sweets recipes that actually taste good, and Daniela is here to tell you, and I am here to echo her, that it is ENTIRELY possible, and ENTIRELY delicious.

I have made two of Daniela’s recipes now – the second will be up very soon – and I just went to her page to grab the link to her blog, //Dulce y Natural//, and noticed now she’s got a carrot cake recipe up.  And lord help me, because if I have major weaknesses, carrot cake is definitely one of many…  But anyway, yes, I have made two of her recipes so far, and these muffins promptly disappeared, and I made the mistake of sharing the second recipe with my vegan BFFs instead of keeping them all to myself, so I guess I need to make those again too (stay tuned!!)…

These //apple almond muffins// were the PERFECT little vegan companion to my vegan smoothie for breakfast every morning.  Um, actually, I guess mine weren’t so vegan since I did slather some Kerrygold butter on them, but, ok, vegetarian muffin with vegan smoothie, good enough.  #plantbased #imgettingthere

I have to admit, I have not done much vegetarian or vegan baking, and I was not sure how these would turn out or come together.  But they totally surprised me, and now I am a believer.  When you are raised to believe that “you need an egg to bind it”, then you read a recipe for something like a muffin and of course feel doubt that it would come together.  These muffins were delicious though, and so easy to make, considering I pretty much always have all of these ingredients in my house anyway.  The only thing I will say though is, I am not sure how accurate conversion measurements would be.  I have a kitchen scale, so I set it to grams, and measured everything out that way.  I attempted to google conversions but they were so precise, I didn’t even bother going that way.

Go check out Daniela’s blog, and make these muffins!

#52NewEats :: Week 29 :: Beef Bourguignon

Beef Bourguignon

Earlier this year, I mentioned in a post that I joined a really inspiring food blogging group on Facebook.  This group is full of so much fun and positivity.  And, duh, photographic inspiration!  Seeing everyone else’s work cuts both ways for me – on the one hand, I feel like I have so much work left to do; on the other, it is so inspiring to see how others photograph food!

I met Anyonita through this group, and asked if I could make one of her recipes for my blog.  She has a vast selection of delicious recipes on her site, //Anyonita Nibbles//, where she focuses primarily on gluten-free eats.  It was really difficult to choose just one recipe, but this //beef bourguignon// was the winner!

Beef bourguignon is probably one of my husband’s favorite dishes, so I knew I had to make this.  Also, bonus?  It’s a crock pot recipe!  I have made a couple different beef bourguignon recipes over the years that require hours of simmering and watching a pot, with tons of different ingredients, and granted, they were all tasty, but oh so much effort.  This recipe was practically effortless, and I LOVE simple crock pot recipes that I can throw together on a Sunday and have leftovers for lunch at work the next day!

The only thing I did different here was, Anyonita recommends serving with carrots and mashed potatoes, but I decided to put sliced carrots into the stew itself.  I added these to the bacon fat in the skillet just prior to adding the shallots, as they would need some more time to cook down a bit.  Then everything went into the crock pot with some delicious red wine, and oh, what a rich, hearty, delicious beef stew!

This was so easy, and so quick, that it will definitely make my fall rotation of soups and stews.  (I know, I know, it’s the middle of summer and I’m already counting down to fall… it’s my favorite season!)

Y’all go make this recipe, it gets two thumbs up from me!

#52NewEats :: Week 28 :: Broccoli Cheddar Wild Rice Casserole

Broccoli Cheddar Wild Rice Casserole

It is no secret that I looooove //smitten kitchen//.  Love her.  LOVE.  HER.  She was probably one of the first blogs I’ve ever followed, and I found so much inspiration in her photography.  She has taken some really mouthwatering pictures, famously, with only a single window in her NYC apartment kitchen to light the food.  I am quite confident that had I never seen smitten kitchen’s work, I would never have thought I could do something like a food blog myself.

I have a deep love for many of her dishes…  //Red Wine Chocolate Cake//, once recommended to me by a dear friend; //Homemade Ricotta//, I submit that there is no easier, no tastier, no creamier homemade ricotta recipe out there; I could go on and on.  I also absolutely love her site, because it it minimalist, and there are maybe 1-2 ads on her pages, and none of them get in your face, no annoying popups, no splash screens.  Nothing ever gets in the way of the content you are there to see!

Quite frankly, she is my ultimate food blogging idol.  #skwannabe

Now, folks, I can add this delicious casserole to my list of favorites.  There are a couple reasons I LOVED this //broccoli cheddar wild rice casserole//:

🍴  It tastes decidedly “grown-up”.  The cheese sauce doesn’t taste like a run of the mill cheese sauce.  I am attributing this to the dijon mustard, though I could be wrong.  My kid’s 7yo tongue would definitely NOT like this dish.  😂  Not right now anyway.

🍴  Broccoli!  I mentioned recently that I like dishes like this casserole because they help me get more broccoli into my belly.  Broccoli isn’t so bad when it’s covered with cheese sauce.  😉

🍴  It was REALLY good leftover.  I ate it for lunch for the next two days.

I already have this casserole on my menu again for next week – we will be pairing it with a salad, following our new primarily vegetarian diet.  Maybe I can get my kid to try it.  🙏  But YOU should DEFINITELY try it.  Go forth, and eat the broccoli!

#52NewEats :: Week 27 :: French Potato Salad

French Potato Salad

As an “Irish” girl, I LOVE potatoes.  I mean, L O V E them.  I could eat them with every meal of every day.  Potatoes all the ways.  Hot, fried, boiled, baked, smothered in butter, smothered in sauces, //smothered in balsamic//; Cold, covered in mayo, mixed with bacon and scallions…  Potatoes.  All.  The.  Ways.

So as per usual I was perusing Pinterest recently and happened upon //this recipe// for French Potato Salad.  Hmmm, I hear the word “French” and immediately think of tarragon, and boom, tarragon is in this, and I am sold.

I made this as a side dish for a steak dinner one night and Aaron and I couldn’t stop eating them.  THESE POTATOES WERE SO GOOD.  They were so good, in fact, that I made them for a little BBQ we had over the July 4th weekend.  We had some guests attending on the healthier side so I didn’t think they’d want a traditional, mayo-based potato salad AND macaroni salad, so I decided to go oil-based for the potato salad to switch it up a bit.  Also, bonus, this can be eaten at room temperature, so no worries about having food outside in the warm weather.

Anyway, I really love these potatoes and am definitely keeping them on my recipe rotation.  I know it sounds like I’ve loved all there recipes I’ve made so far for #52NewEats, and mostly, yeah, I have, but I guess I just love food that much.  🙂  Next week I will be sharing another #52NewEatsFail with you though… so stay tuned!

#52NewEats :: Week 26 :: Broccoli Cheese Risotto

Broccoli Cheese Risotto

Since making my very first risotto a few months back and discovering exactly how not hard it was, I have sort of been on a risotto kick.  This is the third one I’ve made, and I can’t wait to try more.  I especially love this one because it’s a good way for me to get broccoli in my system!

Broccoli is my vegetable nemesis.  I don’t mind it, but I honestly could care less for it unless it’s covered in some kind of sauce or baked into a casserole.  We have sauteed it with garlic, roasted it with parmesan, all the healthier ways to eat broccoli, and it’s just, meh.  If I have to eat it that way, I do so begrudgingly.  I am way more inclined to eat it happily if it’s covered in cheese or alfredo sauce though.  😊

Hence, why I really love //this recipe//!!  Broccoli mixed with cheddar cheese risotto means I can eat as much as I want, right?  The first time I made this, I left the florets a little too big, so they took longer to steam to my liking.  But I recently made it for a second time, and had my daughter help me – which she absolutely loved – and cut the florets smaller.  It was all around a little easier to eat, with the small florets matching better with the small grains of rice.  Speaking of my daughter – she LOVES this risotto, but without the broccoli of course.  😂

This recipe is definitely a favorite and has made it into the regular recipe rotation.  Risotto is DEFINITELY weeknight-worthy.  It is NOT that bad.  Especially this one – you can absolutely prep it all ahead of time.  And if you have a kid helping you, you’ll get it done even faster.  I had my daughter stir the risotto (yes I had her do the hard work lol) while I added the stock for her, and chopped and steamed the broccoli, and shredded the cheese.  Thirty minutes or less, easily!

#52NewEats :: Week 25 :: Italian Bread Dipping Oil

Italian Bread Dipping Oil

Several years ago, I went to visit my friend Sara in Kansas City with some girlfriends, and we went out to dinner at this Italian place called Garozzo’s.  On the way there, Sara raved about the bread dipping oil.  WAIT TILL YOU DIP YOUR BREAD IN THAT OIL… OMG.  And I chuckled a little, thinking, this restaurant is famous for their bread dipping oil?  Like THAT’S what put them on the map?

But alas, I was eyes-rolled-up-to-heaven when I took my first delectable bite of warm, crusty bread, dipped in that herby, slutty oil.  I have no idea what the secret ingredient was, what made it so amazing, but I can tell you that I have never had anything like it since.  I am pretty sure we ordered extra bowls of it, and more bread, because you know, we foodies and all.

So, one day, I happened upon //this recipe// for Italian Bread Dipping Oil, and I thought HEY THAT LOOKS LIKE THAT STUFF I ATE AT THAT RESTAURANT IN KC.  And you know, I HAD to try it, so, I pinned it and promptly got around to making it about 2,000 years later.  It wasn’t exactly like the heaven in a bowl in KC, but it was pretty darn delicious.  I omitted the cheese here, and I used dried herbs instead of fresh, and I probably went a little heavy-handed on the balsamic bc duh balsamic, and it was very, very tasty.  I would highly recommend whipping this up to go with your baguette at your next pasta dinner.  You probably have all the ingredients on hand anyway!

#52NewEats :: Week 24 :: Vegetarian Enchilada Skillet

Vegetarian Enchilada Skillet

While I was vegetarian in May, I ate a TON of Mexican recipes.  It wasn’t even really on purpose… okay, maybe subconsciously it was, but… there are just a lot of options out there for vegetarians in Mexican cuisine.  This dish has become one of the ‘keepers’ out of all the new recipes I tried last month!

I was stoked to find this skillet because a) I love skillet meals, can’t beat one dirty pan, and b) I love any opportunity to get sweet potatoes into my diet.  I just learned to love sweet potatoes in maybe the last couple of years #adulting but I still only like them certain ways in certain things.  I don’t eat them with sweet toppings, only savory.  I like them spicy, particularly with smoked paprika, or dipped in //chipotle mayo//.  But I really liked this skillet because the sweet potatoes gave it some heft without making me feel like a slug.  A lot of the vegetarian recipes I ate were so pleasantly filling!

You can find the original recipe //here//.  I tweaked it a little bit and will probably tweak it again next time I make it (next week), by using grain-free tortillas instead of corn tortillas.

🍴  I used Hatch Tex-Mex enchilada sauce and it was soooo yummy.

🍴  I also used 1 cup leftover rice, even though it’s listed as optional – I actually planned it out so that I would make my //Spanish rice// the day prior and set aside 1 cup to have leftover for this dish.

🍴  I did not use mozzarella cheese though (this is Mexican food sacrilege to me, Mozzarella is ITALIAN, if you want white stretchy cheese in Mexican food please use Chihuahua cheese or Monterey Jack cheese!) – I used a mix of Monterey Jack and cheddar.

All in all, a very good dish that I look forward to making again and again!