BBQ Pulled Sweet Potato Sandwiches



I need to be honest here. I cannot believe that I'm still a vegetarian. I've always wanted to try it since I was a little girl but could never manage to actually do it. I just loved my meat too much... I just didn't like thinking about the animals themselves. So, I'm shocked that after 2 years, I've stuck with it. It hasn't been easy though. There have been a few times where I've gone to parties, events, even restaurants, and my choice of a meal is pretty much carrots and ranch dressing. It made me very aware of the fact that we focus a lot on meat. That also includes myself as well. I have thrown parties and events where the only non-meat item was the dip, potato salad, and the dessert. Now, it seems like I can't even eat a deviled egg without there being bacon in it. And boy, let me tell you, when the warmer weather starts kicking in I miss a good BBQ. I'm sorry but tofu dogs and bean burgers just don't compare to good ol BBQ. Which is why I just about peed my pants in excitement when I made this recipe and realized that it was almost as good as a pulled pork sandwich. I mean, it's missing that greasy pork quality but then again... it's missing that greasy pork quality. Which, I'm sorry to say, is not exactly a bad thing.


 


This is a super easy recipe to make. The most difficult part was grating the sweet potato. For some reason, the grater and I just don't get along and I always end up fighting with it... and losing. Which is why I usually enlist the help of the Mr. when it comes time to grate anything. Aside from my struggles with the grater, this was almost as easy as making pulled... which is usually just a -plop-everything-into-the-crockpot sort of thing. I'm really happy with this recipe. It will definitely be my go-to for this summer.

 
 recipe adapted from Yup... It's Vegan
  • 1 medium-large sweet potato (about 2.5 cups grated)
  • 1 tsp. oil
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 c. BBQ sauce of choice
  • buns
  • coleslaw
  1. Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large, deep skillet. When hot, add the grated sweet potato and quickly stir to distribute the oil. Sprinkle with salt.
  2. Cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring and flipping the sweet potato several times.
  3. Once the sweet potato is starting to dry out and is browned in several places, add the BBQ sauce and stir. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the sweet potato is cooked to your preference.
  4. Serve a big scoop of the BBQ pulled sweet potato on a toasted bun with coleslaw.



Falafel Bowl



I love falafels! I remember the first time my friend Brooke made them for me. Man, I was pretty skeptical. I mean, she poured this green powder stuff out of a box, mixed it into a dough, rolled it into balls, cooked them, and then tried to feed it to me. I must say though, the flavor was amazing and I have been a fan of those green balls wrapped in pita ever since. However, between the bread and the frying, they aren't that great for you or your figure. I've made falafels before and have just baked them but they can be a bit time consuming to make from scratch. So needless to say, when I saw this deconstructed version, I was all over it. After all, the less work I have to do in the kitchen, the happier I am.



Now the original recipe says to make a pretty bowl by sectioning off all the ingredients in the bowl. I have to admit, I don't understand that method. While it is pretty for pictures, it will cause a mess when you try to mix it all together. So, mine looks a bit different from the original since I made mine into a more manageable salad style than the nicer looking version. I made about 3 cups of cooked quinoa since I wanted leftovers. There is no right or wrong way to do this. It's pretty much a recipe where you add however much you want of each ingredient. As you see in the pictures, each bowl was different depending on what the person wanted in their falafel bowl. 

recipes adapted from VeganYackAttack & Guy Fieri



FALAFEL BOWL INGREDIENTS
  • Falafel Roasted Chickpeas (recipe below)
  • Cooked Quinoa
  • Lettuce, shredded
  • Cucumber, sliced
  • Tomatoes, sliced
  • Hummus
  • Yogurt sauce (recipe below)
  • Hot sauce

    FALAFEL ROASTED CHICKPEAS
    • 3 cups chickpeas
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
    • ½ cup red onion, chopped
    • 3 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1½ teaspoons cumin
    • 1 teaspoon coriander
    • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
    • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
    • Pinch of cayenne
    • Pinch of cardamom
    • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley
    YOGURT SAUCE
    • 1 cup plain yogurt
    • 1/2 tablespoon lemon zest
    • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
    • 1 tablespoon freshly chopped cilantro leaves
    • 2 teaspoons freshly chopped parsley leaves
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
    • Kosher salt, as needed


    Roasted Chickpeas
    1. Pre-heat oven to 375°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
    2. Rinse and drain the chickpeas and place them in a large bowl.
    3. Add the olive oil, lemon juice, onion, garlic, cumin, coriander, salt, pepper, cayenne and cardamom to the bowl and toss until all the chickpeas have been evenly coated.
    4. Turn the chickpeas out onto the prepared baking sheet and spread them out into one even layer.
    5. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, stirring once halfway between roasting.
    6. Allow to cool slightly and toss with the fresh parsley.
    Yogurt Sauce
    1. Mix the yogurt, lemon zest, lemon juice, cilantro, parsley and cumin together in a small bowl. Add salt to taste. Chill until ready to use.
    Bowl Assembly
    1. To assemble the bowl, add some of the quinoa, then add a handful of shredded lettuce, then the chickpeas, some cucumber and tomato, and a dollop of hummus. Drizzle the whole bowl in yogurt sauce and add some hot sauce if desired.

    Four Cheese Drunken Sun-Dried Tomato and Spinach Pasta Bake



    This is one of my new favorite dishes. Not only because it's delicious but you just mix everything together, lay it in a casserole dish, and bake it. That's it! It's got so much flavor and depth to it that you would think you spent more time in the kitchen. It's perfect for the weeknights where you get home late and just don't want to cook anything. It's great for those times when you are having guests over and don't want to spend all your time in the kitchen cooking. It's great when you're just being lazy. I just love this recipe.




    I did make a couple of changes from the original recipe. I was unable to find burrata cheese. So, I bought fresh mozzarella and sliced that up instead. Don't get the pre-grated or dry mozzarella cheese. Trust me on this. You will want that wet round ball of cheesy goodness for this. It just melts and tastes so much better than the dry stuff. I was also unable to find fontina and asiago cheese. Let's just say my grocery store doesn't know how to order stock... it's always out of things. Anyways, since I couldn't find those, I did end up buying a bag of mixed pre-grated cheese that had the blend of cheeses I needed. Then I just added in a touch more of fresh parmesan. In the end, the dish was still amazing and is definitely something that I will be making on a regular basis.



    recipe adapted from Half Baked Harvest

     
    • 1 (28 ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes
    • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
    • 1/2 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, oil drained but reserved
    • 1 (10 ounce) package frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed of excess liquid
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
    • 1 Tbsp dried basil
    • 2 tsp dried oregano
    • 1/2 tsp salt and pepper, or to taste
    • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
    • 1 cup red wine
    • 1 pound rigatoni pasta
    • 8 ounces fontina cheese, cubed
    • 1 1/2 cups asiago cheese, grated
    • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese*, grated
    • 8 ounces burrata cheese
    • fresh basil or parsley, chopped for garnish

    1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
    2. Grease a 9x13 inch baking dish. Add the whole can of san marzan tomatoes, crushing the whole tomatoes with your hand. Add the tomato paste, sun-dried tomatoes + about 2 tablespoons of the oil left in the jar, thawed spinach, garlic, dried basil, dried oregano, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, wine and 1 1/2 cups water. Give everything a good stir to combine and then add the dry pasta, fontina cheese, asiago cheese and parmesan cheese, toss everything to evenly coat. Push down gently on the pasta to get most of it under sauce.
    3. Tightly cover the baking dish and bake for 40-45 minutes. Uncover and break the burrata cheese over top of the pasta. Bake an additional 15 to 20 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly. Remove from the oven and garnish with parsley and or basil. Cut and serve.
    *be sure the parmasen cheese doesn't have animal rennet in it 



    Slow cooker Mexican quinoa


    I can't believe I have not put this recipe up on the blog yet. It's one of my favorite go-to recipes for a big potluck. It's really cheap to make, it's vegetarian and vegan friendly, and it's super simple to make. You just dump everything into the slow cooker and walk away.


    The most tedious part of this recipe is peeling and chopping the butternut squash. I've made this a handful of times and have made it with canned enchilada sauce (not a huge fan of the canned, there's just no flavor), homemade enchilada sauce (highly recommended), butternut squash, and sweet potatoes. So, if you aren't a fan of having to peel and cut a squash, then go with the sweet potatoes instead. Personally, I like it both ways.


    The only thing you will need for this is a 5-6 qt slow cooker. When I first started making this I only had a 2 qt slow cooker and a small one Let's just say it was a mess. I found myself mixing it together in a massive bowl, and then trying to pour the mixture between two separate slow cookers equally. Which, didn't always happen. So yeah, you are going to want a big slow cooker for this recipe.




    Enchilada sauce 
    recipe adapted from Emeril Lagasse

    3 tablespoons vegetable oil
    1 tablespoon flour
    1/4 cup chili powder
    2 cups vegetable stock
    12 ounces tomato paste
    1 teaspoon dried oregano
    1 teaspoon ground cumin
    1/2 teaspoon salt

    1. In a medium saucepan heat oil, add flour, smoothing and stirring with a wooden spoon. Cook for 1 minute. Add chili powder and cook for 30 seconds. Add stock, tomato paste, oregano, and cumin. Stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and cook for 15 minutes. The sauce will thicken and smooth out. Adjust the seasonings.


     Quinoa
    recipe adapted from Chelsea's Messy Apron 
    • 1.5 pounds  butternut squash, about 4 cups
    • 1 cup frozen corn
    • 1 can (15 oz) black beans, about 1.5 cups cooked beans
    • 1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
    • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
    • 1 can (14.5 oz) fire-roasted petite diced tomatoes
    • 1 small jalapeno, optional
    •  enchilada sauce
    • 1 cup vegetable
    • 1 packet taco seasoning
    • Optional toppings: shredded cheddar cheese, fresh lime juice, sour cream, chopped cilantro

    1. Spray your slow cooker with nonstick spray.
    2. Peel and scoop the seeds out of the butternut squash. Cut it into cubes and place in the slow cooker.
    3. Add in the corn, drained and rinsed black beans, rinsed quinoa (I rinse mine in a fine mesh sieve), minced garlic, undrained fire-roasted petite diced tomatoes, diced jalapeno, the enchilada sauce, the vegetable broth, and the packet of taco seasoning.
    4. Give everything a really good stir, cover and cook on high for 3-4 hours or until the quinoa is cooked and the butternut squash is tender.
    5. Remove the lid and stir everything together really well. Allow the liquid to absorb while on low for another 30 minutes or until mostly absorbed.
    6. Season with any additional spices and/or salt and pepper if desired.
    7. Top bowls with optional toppings.

    Quinoa burger topped with gruyere, sweet potato fries, beer caramelized onions & fried egg




    Ever come across a burger that blows all the other burgers out of the water? You know, the one that the second you bite into it, your brain just shuts down and your sole focus is trying to fit as much of the burger in your mouth as possible? Well, for me, this is that burger. I saw it when cruising the internet for new recipes to try. Being someone who likes to try new and weird things, I immediately gravitated to it when I saw that there was a fried egg on top. Then I noticed the sweet potato fries, the beer caramelized onions, Gruyere cheese, and a quinoa burger that has cheddar mixed in, and I was hooked. I immediately went out to the store and bought all the components to make this. I even had to make a special trip to a certain over-rated hipster grocery store the day after pay-day just to get my hands on Gruyere cheese since my local grocery story didn't have it. And let me tell you, it was well worth the trip because this burger is the best thing to ever grace my taste buds.


    My pictures do not do this burger justice. Trust me, this burger is amazing. I wish I could say that it's a quick throw together meal that takes little to no work but I'd be lying if I did. Hold on though! Bear with me here. It's most definitely worth the work. When I looked over the recipe and realized what goes into making this, I made triple the burger recipe so that I could put them in the freezer to cook up at a later date. Which, I may have already done two days after making the burger for the first time. What?! They are THAT good! Plus, having the burgers already made made the rest of the process go faster. So, trust me, make a huge batch of the burgers, form them into patties, wrap them in plastic wrap, and store them in the freezer for a later date. ;)


    recipe adapted from Half Baked Harvest



    *makes about 4-5 burgers

    quinoa burgers
    • 2 cups cooked red quinoa
    • 1 cup cannellini beans, mashed
    • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
    • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
    • 1 clove garlic, grated
    • 1 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
    • 3/4 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
    • 3 tablespoons olive oil
    • 4 of your favorite burger buns
    • 4 eggs cooked to your liking

    sweet potato fries
    • 4 medium sweet potatoes, cut into thin 1/2-inch thick strips
    • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
    • 1/4-1/2 cayenne pepper
    • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
    • salt and pepper, to taste
    • 4 tablespoon olive oil

    caramelized onions
    • 1 tablespoon butter
    • 2 large sweet onions, thinly sliced
    • 1 cup beer



    1. In a bowl combine the quinoa, mashed cannellini beans, bread crumbs, egg, garlic, chipotle chile powder, salt and pepper. Mix well to moisten the ingredients and then mix in the shredded cheddar cheese. Mix well again and form into 4 or 5 equal burger patties. Place on a plate and put in the fridge.
    2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
    3. Place cut potatoes in a large bowl and drizzle with oil, chipotle chile powder, cayenne, smoked paprika, salt and pepper. Gently toss with your hands or two spatulas to evenly coat. Spread on a baking sheet in one layer. Bake for 15-20 minutes, then flip and bake for 15-20 minutes more. You want the sweet potatoes to be crispy, but not burnt. If you want perfectly crisp fries I recommend spreading the sweet potatoes on a greased wire rack and baking them as directed above. But this way is a bit of a pain. Keep the sweet potato fries warm until ready to top on the burgers.
    4. While the fries cook caramelize the onions. Heat large skillet. Add 1 tablespoon butter over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook about 15 minutes, stirring frequently, until softened.
    5. At this point you want to slowly add the beer, let it cook into the onions, add more and let it cook. Do this until the 1 cup of beer is gone or the onions are caramelized to your liking and the beer has evaporated. Remove from the skillet and keep warm.
    6. In the same skillet add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Grab the quinoa burgers and cook until golden and crisp, about five minutes per side. During the last minute or so of cooking add the Gruyere cheese, cover the pan and cook 2-3 minutes or until the cheese has melted.
    7. To assemble the burgers, place each burger on a bun, top with equal amounts of caramelized onions and sweet potato fries. Add you egg.