The Best Vegetarian Sloppy Joes

I’ve never actually eaten a “real” Sloppy Joe. In the years before I stopped eating meat, they were never on our dinner table. I didn’t feel like I was missing anything because, honestly, their name and appearance kind of turned me off. But when a friend tells me that I absolutely have to try a recipe, I listen. And now I’m telling you, they may not look pretty but you absolutely have to try this recipe for Chickpea Sloppy Joes:
Squeaky Green Machine chickpea sloppy joe with tater tots

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Just Desserts: Peanut Butter

Peanut Butter Cookie Bars

I like to tell myself that when treats include healthy ingredients, they are actually good for me. This attitude has helped me justify eating entire pumpkin pies, scores of Oatmeal Raisin Cookies, and now these tasty Peanut Butter Bars for breakfast. Packed with protein, these bars will power you through your day, right?

peanut butter bars

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Waking Up With Breakfast Barley

I’ve been in a food rut lately and desperately needed to try something new. There were caveats though. Since I haven’t been to the grocery store this week, the recipe had to be made with ingredients in my pantry and it had to be easy. It sounded like it was time to drag out the crockpot! After flipping through my cookbooks, I landed on the perfect recipe to try – I had everything but the pecans!

Orange-Flavored Breakfast Barley with Cranberries and Pecans

breakfast barley with coconut milk

Breakfast Barley with Vanilla Coconut Milk

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Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars

This recipe is for all of the peanut butter lovers out there! Move this to the top of your list IMMEDIATELY. Better yet, stop whatever you’re doing and bake a batch right now! Peanut butter is one of my favorite things in the whole world and this treat gives me even more reason to love it.

I made these for a family get-together and part of me regretted leaving the plate of them behind. They have been on my mind all week, they were that good. Thinking about them so much even made me realize that the recipe could be modified in fun ways. Sure you can use any fruit jam you want, but what about using milk chocolate or Nutella instead? I suspect there will be some experimenting in my future….

Another recipe from Real Simple, it turns one of my favorite lunches into a delightful dessert:
peanut butter and jelly bars

Here’s the recipe for Real Simple Recipe for PB&J Bars:

Ingredients
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the baking dish
1/2 cup raspberry jam (I used all natural jam)
1/2 cup fresh raspberries, mashed (I used organic raspberries)
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup creamy peanut butter (I used natural peanut butter)
1/2 cup chopped salted roasted peanuts

Directions
Heat oven to 350° F. Butter an 8-inch square baking dish. Line with parchment paper. (I was out of parchment and used buttered aluminum foil)

Combine the jam and raspberries in a small bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder.

Beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer on medium-high until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined. Add the peanut butter and beat until combined.

Gradually add the flour mixture, mixing on low until just combined.

Press half the dough into the prepared dish. Top with the raspberry mixture. Fold the peanuts into the remaining half of the dough and drop in clumps over the jam. Bake until the top is golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes.

Cool in the dish for 30 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Cut into 16 squares.

Makes 16 bars. Hands-On Time: 15 minutes. Total Time: 3 hours

Campfire Flavor: Foil Packets

This recipe is for all the campers out there, whether your version of camping is in the wilderness or in your backyard. This is a favorite meal for the fire pit and you won’t have any dishes to wash when you’re done!

Foil packet dinners (aka Hobo Packets) are popular with campers not only because they are so easy but because they are so flavorful. Have everyone make their own and you’re sure to have happy campers with clean “plates.”

The Husband’s Steak Packet:

Sirloin steak, potatoes, carrots and sliced onions.

Cubed sirloin steak, potatoes, carrots and sliced onions.

My Veggie Lovers Packet (vegetarian):

Tofu, napa cabbage, carrots, onion, fresh parsley

Tofu, napa cabbage, carrots, onion, fresh parsley

HOW:  Select your favorite vegetables, make sure they are cut to similar sizes. Add a protein, if desired. Toss with oil to coat, season with your favorite herbs, salt and/or pepper. Optional but strongly suggested, add a few pats of butter to make this really flavorful. The final step is sealing your tinfoil packet tight  and throwing it in the fire to cook for 20-30 minutes.

NOTE:  To avoid mushy, overcooked veggies, put tender vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower, and asparagus in foil packs together for shorter cook times. Hardier vegetables like carrots and potatoes do best on the fire longer.

You don’t have to wait to go camping to make these either. If you don’t have a fire pit in your yard, try throwing these on your grill instead! Imagine how easy cleanup could be at your next dinner party. 😉

Rhubarb Cupcakes

A week of blog posts celebrating my birthday wouldn’t be complete without something cake-related, so I give you a very Minnesotan treat:  Rhubarb Cupcakes. This recipe comes from Taste of Home and was made from rhubarb picked in my own backyard, but according to the recipe works with frozen rhubarb just as well.

rhubarb cupcake

While I can eat rhubarb straight from the garden, The Husband is not a big fan so I cut this recipe in half to yield 9 cupcakes. Here’s how I did it:

1/4 cup shortening
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/8 cup white sugar
1/2 egg (I broke an egg into a cup, whisked it up and measured out half)
1 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/8 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup finely chopped fresh rhubarb

Taste of Home provides very clear instructions that I somehow didn’t follow at all, but I still think the cupcakes turned out yummy. Here’s how you should make them:

  • In a large bowl, cream shortening and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in egg. Combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder and nutmeg; add to creamed mixture alternately with buttermilk, beating well after each addition. Fold in rhubarb.
  • Fill paper-lined muffin cups two-thirds full. Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Frost if desired.

The frosting recipe that I used was the cream cheese filling in these yummy Stuffed Strawberries. A perfect birthday treat for one!

Killer Broccoli

When @cleverkate recommended this recipe, I was a little skeptical. It looked delicious, but isn’t most roasted broccoli great? Well, she was absolutely right – this recipe is killer.

broccoli

The Amateur Gourmet says that this is the most popular post on his blog and how can we be surprised? The recipe comes from culinary goddess extraordinaire, The Barefoot Contessa – Ina Garten. Oh Ina, you can make me dinner any time…. But I digress. This recipe is far more than your average roasted broccoli (which don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love) but the addition of lemon zest, fresh basil and parmesan is what puts this over the top.

To make this delicious broccoli, you can either follow Ina’s orderly instructions or the Amateur Gourmet’s first hand account which includes pictures. Personally, I liked his instructions which also referenced very sage advice from Jacques Pépin on to wash or not to wash the broccoli.

The Recipes for a Great Weekend

Start with some people you love. Add some good food:

bbq

Gingery Quinoa Salad with Apples, Peas and Coconut; Jerk Pork Loin; Three Bean Salad

And don’t forget dessert:

strawberries

Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries

Here are the recipes to get you started on your own great weekend:
Gingery Quinoa Salad with Apples, Peas and Coconut (vegan, gluten-free)
Jerk Pork Loin
Three Bean Salad (vegan, gluten-free)
Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries (vegetarian, gluten-free)