Week 29: Leftover Mystery Basket Challenge

Last weekend I hosted a party to celebrate my brother’s 40th birthday.  It was a casual family affair of twenty or so, but this is only the second or third time I’ve hosted a gathering of this magnitude so I still struggle with the age old question of how much food to get (read: I may have overdone it).

My Mother is the eldest of five and generally family gatherings throughout my life have been at my Grandmother’s house with all the aunts, uncles and cousins.  Of course, the older we all get the larger the family gets since my Mother and her siblings each had two children and now the great grand children are nearing double digits.  None of this ever seems to concern my grandmother who somehow always manages to have plenty of food without excessive leftovers.

I don’t think this talent has passed onto me, or maybe I just need more practice!  I certainly don’t think anyone was hungry, but most went home with goodie bags of leftovers and I had to come up with some creative ways to use up the rest.  Luckily, I love a good challenge and I had some great fresh ingredients to work with.

The Mystery Basket (any other Chopped fans?):

  • Homemade salsa – I don’t really use a recipe; I just dice tomatoes and onion and add basil, cilantro, lime juice, salt and pepper
  • Olive tapenade – for sandwiches or with crackers
  • Sun-dried tomato & roasted red pepper spread – for sandwiches
  • Raw Vegetables – I had bought a vegetable platter from Wegman’s (it was worth it to save time putting it together myself!) and had leftover peppers and broccoli
  • Grilled Vegetables – zucchini, squash, red onion, eggplant, and red/yellow/orange bell peppers marinated in the Forks Over Knives grilled vegetable kabob marinade

The first and most obvious to me was a pasta.  For this I took the fresh salsa, olive tapenade, grilled zucchini and squash and heated it on the stovetop.  It looked like it needed some more of a sauce component so I added some of the sun-dried tomato spread and a bit of water to thin it out before I tossed with fettuccine.  I was worried about mixing the lime/cilantro salsa with the balsamic of the grilled veggies but  the flavors were a good combination and the dish made for a quick and satisfying dinner.


004The grilled peppers and onions made me think fajitas.  I bought a couple of portabellos and followed the Forks Over Knives Grilled Portobello recipe for the “meat”.   Happy Herbivore Abroad has a fajita recipe so I used this for the sauce of the fajitas.  Technically, I didn’t follow the whole recipe but I’m counting it as my new recipe this week for being resourceful and saving on ingredients.  The sauce was spicy and really transformed my leftovers into a whole new flavor profile.  My chili powder is an Indian chili powder  from the International aisle of my grocery and is much spicier than others I’ve had so this may not be as spicy depending on your source of spices.

Even after fajitas, I still had some peppers and onion left.  A grilled naan pizza makes for a great lunch.  I start out with fresh spinach on garlic naan so the wet ingredients don’t make the naan soggy.  I layered with thinly sliced tomato then the leftover grilled peppers and onion; a few banana peppers add some zest.  My favorite weekend lunch in the summer time!


After all of this I was left with broccoli and peppers from the raw vegetable platter.  Any excuse for Happy Herbivore Cheater Pad Thai is a good one.


Finally, left over sangria transforms well into ice pops 🙂

New Recipes Made This Week: 1

New Recipe Tally 2013: 77


Week 28: Supper Sandwiches Vegan Style

I love a good sandwich.  For me a good fresh bread and the toppings make the sandwich.  The bread must be crusty on the outside and soft on the inside.  The toppings are all about the texture, flavor and color – I don’t stop at lettuce and tomato, if they’re are not toppings falling out the sides then my sandwich is not properly prepared.  In the summer time I will often make a sandwich for dinner to avoid having to cook in the heat (yes, I have air conditioning but somehow just the thought of cooking makes me hot this time of year).

I have had in the back of my mind a picture from Veganomicon that I recalled seeing when I first received the book at Christmas time and thinking that I must make that sandwich.  Of course, in winter I’m all about stews and soups…it perfectly logical trust me.  I finally looked back through the book before shopping for the week.  This week’s new recipe was Roasted Eggplant and Spinach Muffuletta Sandwiches.  The traditional muffaletta sandwich originated in New Orleans and consists of layers of marinated olive salad, mortadella, salami, mozzarella, ham, and provolone.  The Veganomicon version is made with olive salad and eggplant, with layers of spinach and roasted peppers.

The recipe called for roasting the eggplant but I chose to grill it.  There was olive oil listed in the olive salad; if you are low-fat plant based you can substitute broth or use the Happy Herbivore Olive Tapenade from Happy Herbivore Abroad.  For this first attempt I simply left the olive out so the flavor profile was as intended.  I also improvised a bit on the roasted red pepper topping.  I decided to make a sun-dried tomato, roasted red pepper spread that I’ve made before for a baked eggplant recipe (here I buy the dry sun-dried tomato instead of oil-packed).  The picture doesn’t do the layers of yummy goodness justice.

Veganomicon Muffaletta

I loved this sandwich so much that I grilled up more vegetables to have for a party I was hosting yesterday afternoon and had it again.  They’ll be more on the party next week as I’m currently scheming what to do with my leftovers!

New Recipes Made This Week: 1

New Recipe Tally 2013: 76


Week 27: Summer Farms

Happy 4th of July weekend America! The holiday weekend is coming to close but I had a great break from the day job and got a lot done at home (read: my yard finally looks presentable). Besides yard work and such I did get to spend some time visiting my friend Nikki (The Pink Ticket) for our annual blueberry picking adventure. What better thing to do in a heat wave than go blueberry picking 🙂 I always come home with a ton of blueberries thinking they’ll last through the winter and they rarely even make it through the summer. You can be assured there will be new blueberry recipes in the upcoming weeks (I was eyeing up the Engine 2 Diet Spelt Pancake recipe this morning but had no spelt flour so went with my usual pancakes).


Nikki inspired this week’s new recipe. As we were waiting for Oyster Mushroom Po Boy’s from Sprig and Vine (our reward for our hard work in the fields) we were talking recipes and she mentioned she’d been enjoying Susan Voisin’s (aka Fat Free Vegan’s) Zucchini Noodles with Sesame-Peanut Sauce. I hadn’t made any new recipes yet and had just bought some zucchini and squash at the farmers market with no real plans as to what to do with them…so here we are.

When I went online and looked up the recipe I was surprised to see this is a raw recipe. I don’t usually eat zucchini raw but considering the 100 degree heat index I wasn’t going to argue. This was really fast and easy to throw together and tastes great. I used both zucchini and yellow squash because I didn’t have enough zucchini by itself. All you need is a julienne peeler to end up with noodle-like zucchini. I added cilantro and green onion to the dish because I also had them on hand and next time I’ll add more chili sauce to satisfy my love of a good spicy dish (as written I didn’t find this very spicy). Susan warns it can get watery leftover and I haven’t tried the leftovers yet so we’ll have to see if it passes for lunch tomorrow.


I never managed to get my container garden going this year so I’m looking forward to the Farmer’s Markets and pick your own orchards even more than usual.

New Recipes Made This Week: 1

New Recipe Tally 2013: 75