Grilled Halloumi and Watermelon Salad with Fresh Mint and Lemon Pepper Sea Salt

SAM_4940Halloumi cheese is perfect for summer cookouts and BBQ’s because of it’s high melting point, making it the perfect cheese to throw on the grill. Halloumi is a very salty cheese that pairs perfectly with watermelon and mint. Rosemary and basil are also great herbs to use with this salad. Throw in a couple twists from the lemon pepper sea salt grinder and you have the perfect side for your cookout. Enjoy!

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Cucumber and Cashew Salad with Goat Cheese and Tomatoes

Cucumber and Cashew Salad with Goat Cheese and Tomatoes

Sometimes less is more, as is the case with this salad. Made with sweet grape tomatoes, crunchy cashews, crisp and refreshing cucumbers, tangy honey goat cheese, fresh ground lemon pepper seasonings and a fig balsamic drizzle. You can use whatever balsamic vinegar you can get your hands on, but a sweeter, lighter balsamic works best for this salad. (Make it vegan by omitting the goat cheese!)

What you will need:
cucumber
grape or cherry tomatoes
honey goat cheese (or any type of goat cheese, really)
cashews
lemon pepper sea salt grinder
balsamic vinegar

Slice the cucumbers and quarter them. Slice the grape tomatoes in half and place both ingredients on a plate or in a bowl. Add crumbled goat cheese and cashews, give the lemon pepper grinder a few twists and drizzle with balsamic vinegar. Serve outdoors on a humid summer’s day with an ice cold martini.

Sweet and Spicy Curried Tofu Taco Lettuce Wraps

Sweet and Spicy Curried Tofu Taco Lettuce Wraps

With ingredients like hot Jamaican yellow curry, cooling cucumber and mint tzatziki sauce, Asian slaw and sweet pineapple- these tacos are infused with flavor that’s bursting at the seams! And they’re gluten free! The Hot Jamaican Yellow Curry Hot Sauce used in this recipe from my good friend, Cowboy George, at Blaze Gourmet, will have you running home crying for yo momma. That’s where the fresh mint leaves and tzatziki come into play. Without them, you might really run home crying to yo momma.

Also, follow these tips on how to freeze and thaw tofu to achieve the best texture and flavor. Don’t skip this step. It’ll give you the best tasting tofu you’ve ever had!

What you will need:
oil for sauteing
1 lb extra firm tofu
1/2 c yellow curry sauce (I recommend Trader Joe’s Yellow Curry Sauce)
1/4 c Blaze Gourmet Hot Jamaican Curry Hot Sauce
Asian coleslaw (you can buy this prepackaged at just about any grocery store. Most of them already have the Asian slaw dressing included. If not, look for an Asian ginger salad dressing)
canned pineapple tidbits, drained

tzatziki sauce
red onion, sliced
fresh mint leaves
romaine lettuce leaves

First, follow these tips on how to freeze, thaw and drain tofu. Crumble the tofu into a scrambled egg consistency and fry in a greased frying pan over medium heat, letting the tofu get crispy on the outside. Mix the two different curry sauces in a bowl and add to the frying pan, making sure to coat every piece of tofu in the sauce. Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl, mix together the ingredients for the Asian slaw. Then, start filling your romaine lettuce leaves, starting with tzatziki, then the curried tofu, Asian slaw, red onion, pineapple tidbits, and mint leaves. Serve with tequila for your next Taco Tuesday night!

Vegan, Gluten Free Mushroom Gravy

Vegan, Gluten Free Mushroom Gravy

This hearty and savory mushroom gravy holds its own against it’s meaty counterparts. Arrowroot powder substitutes flour in this recipe and also makes it safe to eat for anyone with a gluten intolerance or gluten allergies. Cornstarch would also be a great alternative if you can’t find arrowroot powder. So vegans and the gluten intolerant, don’t spend another holiday meal suffering through dry mashed potatoes! Smother them with this gravy that both meat eaters and vegans alike will love! Makes 2 cups of gravy.

What you will need:
medium to large pot
10 oz of your favorite mix of mushrooms (I used crimini and shiitake), sliced or chopped. If using shiitake or oyster mushrooms, remove the stems as well.
1/2 of an onion, finely chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
4 tbs earth balance buttery spread
1 1/2c vegetable stock
1/2c almond milk
3 tbs arrowroot powder
1/4c nutritional yeast
2 tbs Bragg’s liquid amino acids
1 tbs Italian seasoning
a twist or two of the lemon pepper grinder (if you don’t have this ingredient, that’s ok)
fresh sprig of rosemary
liquid smoke

In a pot over medium heat, melt earth balance buttery spread. Add your sliced mushrooms and onions and continue to cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes or until mushrooms start to reduce and release some of their liquid. Add your minced garlic and continue to cook for another minute. Add your vegetable stock. Turn the heat on high and let the gravy start to boil. While continually stirring, slowly add the arrowroot powder, making sure to not let it stick and clump together. Once the powder is mixed in, turn down the heat and continue to stir. Add the almond milk, nutritional yeast, Italian seasoning, Bragg’s, lemon pepper, rosemary and a couple of drops of liquid smoke and stir until all ingredients are combined. Serve over mashed potatoes or any other part of your holiday dinner.

Cauliflower Bread Sticks

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My first attempt at making cauliflower bread sticks has been a total SUCCESS! I wanted to come up with a gluten free, grain free, crust that my grandma can enjoy for the holidays (she has celiac disease and gluten is a no-no). This recipe is still a work in progress (I have a second batch baking in the oven for pizza right now), so bare with me. I’m still experimenting with cooking time, temperature and even the consistency of the cauliflower (should I make it more of a “rice” consistency? I don’t know). But I guarantee that these cauliflower bread sticks are amazing no matter what!

What you will need:
Food processor, mixing bowl, large pot for steaming, baking sheet
1 small head of cauliflower (it weighed just over a pound at the store)
1 egg, lightly beaten
1  c cheese (I used fresh Asiago, Parmesan and mozzarella)
about 1/4 c fresh basil, shredded
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp Italian seasoning
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp pink Himalayan sea salt
butter to coat the baking sheet

Heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and grease the baking sheet with butter. Chop or break the cauliflower into small florets and add to the food processor. Blend the cauliflower until it is smooth (well, as smooth as you can get it). Steam the cauliflower for 5-7 minutes and set aside to let cool. Once it has cooled, make sure to squeeze out any excess water in the cauliflower, otherwise, your bread sticks won’t stick together or crisp up as nicely. In a mixing bowl, lightly beat the egg. Again, strain any excess water from the cauliflower, add it to the mixing bowl along with the cheese, Italian seasoning, fresh basil, crushed red pepper, garlic and salt and stir. Form into 1/4- 1/2 inch thick bread sticks and bake for 40 minutes or longer until the edges are golden brown and the bread sticks are firm and stay together. Dip them in marinara sauce or olive oil and balsamic vinegar with herbs or eat them just as they are. Serve to your friends and see if they can tell the difference between the cauliflower bread sticks and the real thing!