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Posts published in “Vegetarian Friendly”

Cranberry BBQ Sauce

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I really wish I had this recipe growing up, when my mom and I used to make tons of cranberry sauce for the holiday season. It's a great way to use leftover sauce that totally works, given that cranberry sauce (at least, how I make mine) is typically spiced, as well as sweet and tangyjust like barbecue (BBQ) sauce.

Skeptical? Don't be! The cranberry flavor isn't as pronounced as it would be eating cranberry sauce on its own. The cranberries do give the sauce a pretty, dark magenta color and are of course complemented by classic BBQ sauce ingredients, including tomato. Another benefit: using cranberry sauce helps to cut back on the overall sugar that you would normally add to a BBQ sauce because it already has some. I also found that I didn't have to add vinegar, given the tartness of the berries.

Classic Spiced Cranberry Sauce

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The season for holiday eating starts and lasts in my home well into January, since my birthday happens to fall on January 6th, just after the Christmas and New Year holiday stretch and on the day celebrated by some Christians around the globe as Three Kings Day. One of my favorite things about going grocery shopping at this time is how easy it is to find fresh cranberries. It wouldn't be the holidays in my house without cranberry sauce, which I have made every year for Thanksgiving since I was a kid.

In its fresh, not dried and sugar-coated, form, the cranberry is a controversial fruit: some love it, some hate it. I'm definitely on Team Cranberry and growing up, it was a contest each year between my mom and I to see how many bags of cranberries we could make for our sauce, which we did on Thanksgiving day. One year, we made six or seven bags worth of sauce, which we gave to family members in plastic containers along with festive tins of homemade cookies for their holiday celebrations.

And call me weird, but I like canned jelled cranberry sauce, too. I have mashed it up with some water, orange juice and fresh or frozen whole cranberries to make a "shortcut" cranberry sauce in the past, although I believe there is no substitute for homemade sauce from scratch.

I happen to think the cranberry is underrated. A lot of people don't like them because although they are round, like blueberries, they are mouth-puckeringly tart. Blueberries start off small and tart, ripening and getting sweeter as they mature. Not a cranberry, which is why I think of them as the blueberry's sassier cousin. Sadly, I guess that is why any cranberry dessert, cranberry juice, or cranberry sauce I have ever come across has been either spiked with a lot of other berry flavors, usually from raspberries, to up their sweetness (but sometimes detracting from rather than complementing the cranberries) or laden with a ton of sugar.

Elotes (Mexican Street Corn)

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Updated 11/23/20 to include a variation on this recipe for when corn is not in season—making it a perfect side-dish for any season! Click here to see recipe variation at the end of this post.

This is not a sponsored post or endorsement made in coordination with or paid by any of the brands mentioned here—only offering a few suggestions based on things my family and I have tried and enjoyed.

Elotes, otherwise known as Mexican street corn, is a hot food trend right now for good reason: it's really, really good.

The topping is a perfect, creamy addition to fresh, sweet, in-season corn that gets sprinkled generously with Mexican-style seasoning blend and and cotija cheese.

It's very easy to make your own spice blend but you can also use one that's pre-made, if you don't have the time, such as from McCormick or tajin, which is chili and lime flavored.

Cotija is a firm cheese that typically comes wrapped in a small wheel and can be easily crumbled, similar to feta but much milder in flavor. If you can't find this in a store near you, substituting a shredded Mexican-style cheese blend or cheddar cheese blend works. Definitely try the cotija, if you have that option!

The recipe makes enough topping for about 6-8 medium ears of corn. You can always cut the corn in half, too, to double the number of portions—this is a nice idea for a buffet when you have multiple side dishes that people can choose from.

Vegetarian Shepherds Pie

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Vegetarian shepherds pie was a staple dinner for me all of those years that I was following a stricter ovo-lacto vegetarian diet. Especially when I was in college, I could make this recipe on a weekend and have it several times as leftovers for dinner when I got home from school late during the week. It's easy to make, very satisfying and comforting to eat.

Menu Inspiration: Summer cocktail party

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Believe it or not, it's August. If you're gearing up for the long Labor Day weekend already or planning a casual end-of-summer party, here are some quick and easy entertaining ideas that will help you send the summer season off right.

Fresh, Mediterranean-inspired flavors highlight this menu, and for something sweet at the end that's still light: easy to make grilled peaches with honey-sweetened whipped cream. As a bonus, there's something for everyone: several recipes are vegetarian-friendly and could be made vegan with a few omissions or easy swaps.

Fresh and Easy Greek Salad

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As much as I love to cook as a way to relax, we've all been there: coming home from a long day at work or school, just wanting something quick for dinner so the kitchen clean-up can be expedited and the unwinding after that can begin.

Fortunately, it doesn't take a lot of time at all to make a big main course salad—one of my go-tos for an easy dinner on a weeknight, on a hot summer night when turning on the oven is out of the question or, frankly, on any night when the last place that anyone wants to be is in the kitchen for a long period of time.

Served on a big platter for 2-4 people, salads make a complete meal with the addition of some protein or a side of bread while still being light enough not to weigh you down for the rest of the night. Cobb salad is a favorite of mine, but takes a lot of ingredients to get it all together: blue cheese, bacon, avocado... All delicious, but if you're really looking to cut down time and want to save a couple of pennies since avocados and a good blue cheese can get pricey, turn to Greek salad.