Buffalo Cauliflower Bites

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I have a weakness for Frank’s Hot Sauce. It makes me feel like Everett looks in this photo after eating pizza. It is such a versatile ingredient that has all the spicy, salty, tangy flavors that I love. You can mix it with Ranch for southwest salads, mayo for spicy black bean burgers, and as a dip for veggies. I usually associate it with my “off diet” days because it inevitably (and happily) means I’m eating bar food. But when I recently stumbled upon this devilishly good recipe going around on Pinterest for Buffalo Cauliflower Bites I knew I had hit gold.

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You can substitute unflavored soy milk for the buttermilk to make it vegan. I also made it without the butter so it was a tad dry but totally worth it.

BUFFALO CAULIFLOWER BITES
1 head of cauliflower, cut into bite size pieces
1/2 c buttermilk
1/2 c flour
1 tsp garlic salt
1/2 c buffalo sauce
1 tbsp butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350º. In a large bowl whisk together buttermilk, flour, and garlic salt until smooth. The batter should be slightly thick so that it sticks to the cauliflower. Place the cauliflower into the bowl of batter and gently toss to coat. Spread the battered cauliflower out on a greased baking dish. Bake for 20–25 minutes turning once until some of the edges turn a nice golden color. While the cauliflower is baking combine the buffalo sauce and melted butter in a small bowl. Remove the cauliflower from the oven and drizzle the buffalo sauce mixture over the top and toss to coat. Return the cauliflower to the oven and bake for an additional 5–10 minutes. Remove the finished cauliflower from the oven, serve hot or warm.

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Asian Quinoa Salad

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Today’s recipe is one of the BEST things I have eaten in a long time. I found it on the popular blog www.twopeasandtheirpod.com and thought it tied in nicely with this months Real Simple magazine feature about “health bowls” – combining fresh salad ingredients with unexpected flavors and grains. This Asian Quinoa Salad features some of my favorite ingredients, the only thing missing is potato chips. Because potato chips are amazing. I diverted from the original recipe and added some roasted unsalted peanuts for some extra crunch, and used my nifty food processor on the grater setting for the cabbage and carrots instead of chopping by hand. This delightful recipe tastes amazing for several days in the fridge and would be a popular potluck dish. And need I say VEGAN. And that is worth celebrating!

ASIAN QUINOA SALAD
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cup shredder red cabbage
1 cup shelled and cooked edamame
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1 diced cucumber
1/2 cup roasted unsalted peanuts

DRESSING
1/4 cup lite soy sauce or tamari sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped green onion
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1/4 teaspoon grated ginger
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Salt and black pepper, to taste

Boil 2 cups of water then add 1 cup quinoa, cover and turn down to simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork. Place the quinoa in a large bowl and add the cabbage, edamame, red pepper, peanuts, carrots, and cucumber. Set aside. In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, green onions, cilantro, sesame seeds, ginger, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Pour the dressing over the quinoa salad and stir to combine.

Red Cabbage Slaw Taco Salad

Being a child of the 80’s, I was reminded last night of O’Boises Potato Chips. This memory also conjured up thoughts of a plethora of other food substances completely toxic to our bodies including Squeeze-It, Ecto Cooler, bubble gum cigarettes, and Big League Chew. Asher has recently become obsessed with Dum Dums, you know the lollipops with the mystery flavor that you get for free at the bank. It’s unbelievable the amount of processed foods with zero nutrition that we have unlimited access to at such a young age.

saladWhile I am not vegan, I do constantly get questioned about my vegetarianism and raising my kids vegetarian, which is particularly baffling to people living in the Midwest. So I have made it my mission to share with the world as many vegan recipes as I can come up so I don’t have to hear “What do you eat? Pasta???” There is a world of flavorful and indulgent ethnic foods which embrace vegan ingredients, including Thai, Indian, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and Central American, all of which I love to cook. Which naturally leads me to my recipe of the day, Red Cabbage Slaw Taco Salad! This is a very clean, refreshing, and filling dish that can be eaten as a side salad or taco stuffing, and still taste good four days later (I’m eating it right now!)

RED CABBAGE SLAW TACO SALAD
1/2 head of red cabbage, chopped into long slivers
1 jicama, peeled and julienned
1 bunch of cilantro, roughly chopped
1 bunch of green onions, trimmed and chopped
1 can of black beans, drained
1 package of meatless ground beef
1 onion, diced
Juice of 5 limes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large pan, fry onions in olive oil on medium heat about 4-5 minutes, until translucent. Add meatless ground beef and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Add cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper and stir until combined, then stir in the drained black beans. Turn off the heat and let cool. In a large salad bowl, add the chopped red cabbage, cilantro, jicama, and green onions. Toss well, then pour the lime juice over the slaw and top with salt and pepper then toss again. Warning: the lime juice causes the red coloring from the cabbage to turn the jicama pink after a day in the fridge as you can see from the photo, but it makes a great first impression when preparing it fresh!

The Big Freeze

photo 4-17 degrees Fahrenheit is no fun! For only the second time in the almost 15 years that I’ve lived in Chicago, the city has shut down and people are barricading themselves at home. Chicago’s a tough city, but this is ridiculous. Yet somehow, I look out my window and there are still folks walking nonchalantly down the street and waiting at bus stops for buses that surely are not coming as the street is no longer visible. There are children happily holding hands with their daddies as they get dropped off at the daycare across the street, while Asher meanwhile kicks and screams as we wrap him in a blanket like a burrito and strong daddy has to carry him the one block distance which feels like a mile and he screams at the top of his lungs that he doesn’t want mommy’s scarf. People are posting videos all over Facebook of what it looks like to toss a cup of boiling water into the air as it turns to hot mist. I get it people, you’re not deterred by this weather. But you know what? I prefer to stay indoors. Tent forts have been our preoccupation this weekend for Everett, and Asher’s exploratory nature has taken him throughout the house pulling out old toys and making collections of like objects. Our heaters have been bumped up high enough that Asher came into our room last night at 1:00am asking for a cup of water because his room was hot. I don’t care!

photo 2photo 3Gearing up for the Big Freeze of 2014 naturally took us Costco. Last Saturday, Asher adamantly pushed the over sized shopping cart through the television aisle dazing at the large screens proclaiming that this is where the eggs are kept, and then happily declared “They have couches here too!!!” We busied ourselves in the cafe with pizza and churros, and then spent nearly $200 on nothing. Yes, I have enough toilet paper, paper towels, and coffee creamer to get us through this Apocalypse. But somehow we got home and I felt like I didn’t buy anything of substance or nutrition. Well, I did get a pineapple.