Jack O’lantern Smiley Fries

Jack O Lantern Smiley Fries Baked Vegan Easy

Hi!  Oh I missed y’all. How has everyone been? Any new life developments? New cat/dog/baby pictures to share? What is everyone going to be for Halloween?

Sorry for all the questions! I’m just so out of the loop. I finally took my boards, but I haven’t gotten the results yet, so I’m not home-free yet. That’s pretty much all that’s been going on in my life.  Studying, work, running. Taking cat pictures. Increasing my alcohol tolerance, due to nerves.

The week leading up to I my test, we ate Tetra-pak soup and avocados for dinner every night. Jason got frozen Amy’s burritos for lunch, instead of lovingly packed sandwiches and pretzels and homemade cookies.

So I’m very happy to be back in the kitchen.

I’ve been wanting to make a smiley-face fry recipe forever, but I’m glad I waited. These aren’t just any smiley fries. They are jack o’lanterns! 

jack o lantern smiley fries vegan easy

I love Halloween food, don’t you? It’s a perfect excuse to eat fun food, things that look like eyeballs and slime and nobody can say anything about it.

And these look complicated, but they’re quite easy. Chop up some potatoes and simmer them till tender. Then whip them up with a can of pumpkin and some other stuff here and there. Pipe them out onto a cookie sheet — they don’t have to be perfect, jack o’lanterns are supposed to be funky — and bake them up.

I used chopped-up chives for the stems, but if you’re making these for kiddos and you don’t think they’ll like them, feel free to leave them off. These would be prefect for a Halloween party for kids or adults or even just yourself and your boo.


jack o lantern smiley fries vegan baked easy

Jack O’lantern Smiley Fries

Yield: 50 fries

These make a huge batch, which means you might not finish them all in one sitting. Everybody knows fries taste best hot and fresh. If you need to reheat them, do so on a skillet, for a few minutes on each side. 

Starred ingredients are common vegan pantry items. For non-vegans, see substitution notes at the end.


  • 2 lbs of potatoes
  • 1 can of pumpkin
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast*
  • 1 flax egg (1 tbsp flax meal + 3 tbsp water)*
  • dash of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp crushed or microplane-grated garlic
  • 1/2 cup gf flour (I used bob's cup-to-cup, sifted)
  • salt
  • olive oil
  • handful of chopped chives


  1. Peel and cube the potatoes. Bring to a boil in salted water, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 20 minutes. Drain well and allow to cool completely.
  2. Blend potatoes with remaining ingredients (minus the olive oil, salt, and chives) until you get a smooth, thick paste.
  3. Preheat the oven to 450.
  4. Draw 2.5 inch jack o'lanterns all over a piece of parchment paper (I used a biscuit cutter, and then free handed the eyes, mouth, and stems).
  5. Flip the parchment over and brush with olive oil.
  6. Fill a zip lock bag up with potato paste. Don't do all the potato paste at once, it will be too hard to manage. Cut a tip off the end of the bag, just under 1/3-1/2 inch.
  7. Pipe out the fries, guiding yourself with the outlines you made. If necessary, smooth them out a little with a butter knife.
  8. Press the chives onto the stems.
  9. Brush the tops of the fries with olive oil and freckle with coarse salt.
  10. Bake at 450 for 12 1/2 minutes. Serve hot and with love.


* parmesan cheese may be used in place of nutritional yeast. And a regular egg may be subbed for the flax egg.

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Quick Hello + Skinny Spicy Pumpkin Dip + A Few Blog Changes

a simple, savory, & vegan pumpkin dip

a skinny spicy pumpkin dip

Hi folks!

As you might have noticed, I have a new blog name, logo, and URL. This blog started out as a running site named chase that i love, from an Avett lyric. I soon realized that a. I liked running to be intimate b. I was talking way more about food than about running. I can’t really explain the second blog name, don’t push meowI thought it was funny, I guess. But several people pointed out that it sounded like “don’t push me now.” I admit that’s a bit aggressive.

I’ve finally settled on kitchen window clovers, an exploration of home cooked fare. Blog adjectives include: vegetarian or vegan, wheat free, soy free, pocket-friendly, and (mostly) small batch.

As I mentioned last week, it’s getting down to the wire with my board exam and I’m not supposed to be at the kitchen table blogging. I’m supposed to be at the kitchen table studying. So I’ll jump right into the recipe:

skinny pumpkin dip

Skinny Spicy Pumpkin Dip

This quick and savory pumpkin dip can be ready in no time. Vegan.


  • 1 can pure pumpkin
  • 1 1/2 cups of cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup diced purple onion
  • 1 1/2 tsp microplane grated garlic
  • 1 serrano pepper
  • 2 tsp nutritional yeast
  • 2/3 cup canned white beans, rinsed and drained
  • a pinch of brown sugar, or a drizzle of maple syrup
  • salt to taste


  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender till smooth. Taste and add a little more salt and maple as needed.
  2. Place in a small pot over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until warm.
  3. Serve warm with crunchy chips.
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ETA 9/7/16: I won’t likely post again until after October 13th, post-test. Some nonsense about priorities or what not. But I will be a-stalkin’ everyone else’s blogs on my study breaks to see what’s cookin’. Love y’all. 

Gluten Free Apple Crisp with Potato Chip Crust

A gluten free and vegan apple crisp, with a sweet and salty twist.

potato chip crusted apple crisp vegan gluten free

Apple season is upon us! Let’s pile the family in the car for a day of apple picking. Let’s pore over cookbooks for apple cider donuts, breads, pies, butters, sauces, granolas.

Let’s take nature’s wholesome gift and layer it with syrups and sugars and butters. And, um, potato chips.

AND LET’S NOT FEEL GUILTY ABOUT IT! Okay, I don’t feel guilty. I don’t want to project my feelings onto you.

I made this a small batch on purpose (it’s just a 1-quart pan) with the very foresight that I would want to devour the whole thing. Which I did end up doing. Salty sweet foods are almost invariably addictive. So small batch = no guilt, right? 😬

a-potato chip crusted apple crisp vegan gluten free

One thing I do feel guilty about is not spending enough time lately studying for my upcoming board exam. So I might be absent for the next few weeks while I cram, because I have to take it by October.  I have all these fall recipes I want to share, but UGH, this test comes first.

Okay….back to talking about this crisp.  You have the top layer of crumble, all sweet and salty from the chips, flecked with caramelized brown sugar. Underneath, you have a second layer of crumble, which is not crumbly in the least. It’s more soft and muffiny. That’s right. TWO LAYERS of crumble, neither of which are actually crumble but are delicious nonetheless .

And of course the apple layer, which is just apples and maple syrup and cinnamon. Easy. The ingredient list appears long at first glance, there are repeating ingredients in all layers — so it’s kinda pocket friendly, too.  And the top layer has kettle chips, which are my second-favorite chip behind tortilla chips. I’m not that much of a chip person, but sometimes you just want a big greasy salty handful, ya know?

As I mentioned, this recipe makes a small batch, but I’m it would be easy to adapt to a larger pan to feed a crowd. You might need to increase the baking time about 5 minutes. If you do so, make sure that the potato chip layer (which you add it partway though cooking) still only bakes for 15 minutes, or else it will burn.

enjoy! <3

gluten free vegan potato chip apple crisp
goes wonderful aside coconut-milk based yogurt, or a frosty glass of almond milk.

Potato Chip Crusted Apple Crisp

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Yield: 4 huge servings or 8 smaller servings

I know that many traditional apple desserts call for Granny Smiths, but I used sweet apples in every single test run of this recipe and greatly enjoyed the results. So feel free to use whatever you have on hand...Galas, Mollies....anything!

This recipe calls for a 1-quart casserole pan.


    apple layer
  • 3-4 apples of choice (depending on their size)
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • middle cake layer
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats, ground to fine flour
  • 1/4 cup quick-cook oats
  • 1/2 cup liquefied banana (1 banana)
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • top crust
  • 3/4 cup crushed kettle chips
  • 1/4 cup old fashioned oats, ground to fine flour
  • 1/4 cup quick-cook oats
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 1/2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 tsp coarse sea salt


    apple layer
  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Peel the apples. Dice or thinly slice them into a 1 quart casserole dish.
  3. Add the maple syrup and cinnamon over the apples and stir to coat all apple pieces
  4. middle cake layer
  5. Combine all ingredients and stir well. Spread over the apples
  6. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes
  7. potato chip crust
  8. While the bottom two layers are baking, stir together the potato chips, oat flour, the quick-cook oats, and the coarse sea salt.
  9. Mix in the brown sugar and coconut oil.
  10. After 20 minutes, remove the pan from the oven and gently scrape the top with a fork.
  11. Add the potato chip mix on top and return to the oven for another 15 minutes.
  12. Allow to cool at least a little before eating. I actually think it tastes much better at room temp or cold.
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lightly guided by Shelly’s Perfect Apple Crisp

gluten free vegan apple crisp with potato chip crust





Layered Eggplant Fattoush

eggplant fattoush

All summer long, I have been obsessing over the stunning eggplants at the farmers markets. Beautiful shades of light and speckled purple, striped and red and blank white. I never picked up a single one because I was totally uninspired as to what to do with them. Then I saw Sarah’s beautiful Heirloom Tomato Eggplant Caprese Stacks.  They looked bright and summery and craveable and reminded me of a strained yogurt and spicy tomato eggplant thing I used to make. I don’t know what it was called, or even where I got the recipe, but I do recall that it was of Middle Eastern origin. And I had recently acquired a generous amount of sumac, my favorite all-time Middle Eastern spice. I think I like sumac even better than I like thyme.  So sumac + eggplant + farmer’s market whatever = fattoush something.

eggplant fattoush

I used these pretty Dancer eggplants, shining in a lovely amethyst hue.  After roasting, they were so creamy, almost melting on my tongue. I never want another supermarket eggplant again. But I’ll probably change my tune once the farmer’s market closes for the season and I’m huffing around the Kroger produce section, kicking at the wheels of my cart. I actually like Kroger produce, but nothing can ever compare to fresh-from-the-dirt. There is a nice tomato-headed kid who always helps me out, showing me cotton candy grapes and such. Digging up the plumpest Brussels sprouts when he catches me poking at the bruised brown-leaf ones. So I guess going back won’t be so bad. Maybe.

Since I love sumac so much, I made a pseudo-hummus out of lemons and chickpeas and sumac. A little garlic and salt. It really brings makes the Middle Easter flavor spark, like a hot hum of the last days of summer.

eggplant fattoush


Layered Eggplant Fattoush

Yield: 2 main, 4 side

I used beautiful Dancer eggplants, a gradient white-lilac variety known for their low bitterness. If you use darker eggplants such as Nadia, Galine, or Traviata, you may want to increase the salt-and-sit time to 20-25 minutes.


  • about 2 lbs worth of eggplant (This was 5 medium eggplants for me)
  • 8 oz cherry tomatos, sliced
  • 1 large cucumber, or 1.5 smaller cucumbers
  • 5 radishes, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup parsley, minced
  • 6 green onions, top parts only, thinly sliced
  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 3/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 scant tsp microplane grated garlic
  • 1 1/4 tbsp sumac powder, plus more for sprinkling
  • salt to taste
  • olive oil


  1. Cut the eggplant into 1/4 inch slices. Sprinkle both sides with salt and allow to sit for 15 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 450.
  3. Lightly grease a baking sheet with olive oil. Lightly drizzle the slices with olive oil as well. (very lightly)
  4. Bake for 10 minutes, flip, and bake for 10 more minutes
  5. While the eggplant is baking, blend the chickpeas, lemon juice, garlic, and sumac, into a smooth paste. Add salt to taste.
  6. Place a single layer of slightly overlapping eggplant slices in a square (about 8x8) This will be about half of the eggplant slices
  7. Spoon on a layer of the chickpea-sumac paste and delicately spread.
  8. Add layers as follows: cucumber, radish, sprinkle of parsley, sprinkle of green onion, tomato, sumac paste, cucumber, radish, parsley, green onion, tomato, sumac paste, and then top it all off with the remaining eggplant.
  9. Sprinkle with sumac and garnish lightly with additional radish, parsley, onion, and cucumber.
  10. Serve with pita or soft corn tortillas.
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Chocolate Chip Zucchini Cat Cake

No special equipment, no mold, no fondant. If you have an 8×8 pan, you can make this meow-some cake! Vegan and GF. 

Cat Shaped Cake Chocolate Chip Zucchini Cake Vegan Gluten Free

Don’t worry, I didn’t feed chocolate chip zucchini cake to my cat.

I baked this to celebrate our 1 month Clover-versary. I actually made it a few days late, but it’s not like the cat’s gonna know that. And Jason didn’t care, so long as there was cake in the house. I think he ate 80% of the test batch by himself.

We love our little Clover so much, we can’t imagine life without her. Jason initially objected to her, when she first started hanging around and before we actually adopted her. But now he’s ridiculously smitten for that kitten. Building a cat drinking fountain out of a fish tank filter. Saying “awww, look at her,” several times a day. And I have to exercise a huge amount of self control when it comes to social media. I want to post a plethora of pictures, like those parents who share everything their kids do.

In lieu of Facebook-virusing my wall with cat images, I made a cat cake. It’s so easy. Take a look, folks:

It starts with this awesome chocolate chip zucchini cake. Bake it up in an 8X8 pan and let it cool.

Cat Shaped Cake Chocolate Chip Zucchini Cake Vegan Gluten Free

Position the cake in a diamond shape. Measure about 1 inch above the corners and make a cut all the way across.


Cat Shaped Cake Chocolate Chip Zucchini Cake Vegan Gluten Free

Cut the big triangle into two smaller triangles. Then flip the triangles so that the uncut edge/crust edge/hypotenuse is the innermost part of the ear.


Cat Shaped Cake Chocolate Chip Zucchini Cake Vegan Gluten Free

Cut about an inch off the bottom corner/chin and place it between the ears You may be able to place this directly between the ears, or you may have to cut it and reshape it a little with your fingers — as you can see, I had to cut the piece to make it fit. Round it a little with you fingers if you wish.

Once you’re happy with the way it looks, move the pieces over to your serving plate. Put the pieces back in place, holding them together with frosting. Now you can start frosting the cake.

That’s it. Serve this cake with your loved ones. Toast to your feline’s health with catnip wine. Ew, that’s not a thing. I hope it’s not a thing. *goes over to Google* Oh no. It is a thing. Why? Why!

Toast to her health with beer or mead or milk; whatever pleases you, with plenty of kitty cuddles on the side.

Cat Shaped Cake Chocolate Chip Zucchini Cake Vegan Gluten Free
ugh mom, so embarrassing. It doesn’t even look like me!


Chocolate Chip Zucchini Cat Cake

Every bit of food coloring in this is natural. The pink ears came from beet juice and the eyes were matcha. The light accent fur is cinnamon and dark fur is cocoa powder. If you prefer an orange cat, use turmeric and carrot juice instead.


  • 1 1/2 cups shredded zucchini
  • 1 cup unsweetened unflavored almond milk
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 flax eggs*
  • 2 tsp Saigon cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 1 1/4 cups of Cup-to-Cup GF flour, such as Bob's Red Mill**
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/4 cups of mini chocolate chips
  • For the frosting
  • 3/4 cup of non-dairy non-soy butter spread, softened
  • 2 1/2 cups confectionery sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • for decorating
  • a little bit of beet juice (ears)
  • a little bit of matcha (eyes)
  • a little bit of cocoa powder and cinnamon (fur)
  • a small scoop of chocolate chips (eyes and mouth)


  1. Line an 8X8 pan with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 350
  2. Combine the zucchini, almond milk, flax eggs, brown sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla
  3. Measure the flour according to suggestions below. **
  4. Combine wet and dry incredients until just mixed. Do not over mix.
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan. Swirl in the chocolate chips. Chocolate chip palooza.
  6. Bake at 350 for 35-38 minutes, or until inserted toothpick comes out clean.
  7. Allow to cool completely before cutting and assembling.
  8. Assemble according to tutorial above.
  9. to frost and decorate
  10. Beat frosting ingredients together. If you like a thinner frosting, add a splash or two of almond milk.
  11. Layer on a thin crumb coat and then a top coat. You'll still have plenty of frosting remaining.
  12. Divide up the remaining frosting. Dye some of it pink with beet juice for the ears. Dye a smaller potion green for the eyes. Cinnamon for the light brown fur and cocoa for the dark brown fur.
  13. Frost on the ears.
  14. For the eyes and mouth, you'll be drawing with chocolate. It's super easy, I promise. First, draw the eyes and mouth and whiskers on a piece of scrap paper. Place a piece of parchment paper on top of the scrap paper.
  15. Place some chocolate chips (about 1/4 cup) in a sealable plastic bag. Heat some water in the microwave and then immerse the bag in the hot water until the chips fully melt.
  16. Cut a very small tip off the bag and pipe the chocolate over the parchment paper. Allow to harden.
  17. If you don't understand anything I've said about how to draw with chocolate, here is an excellent video with a perky lady. (hover for link)
  18. Gently peel off the chocolate and place it on the cake. Fill in the eyes with green frosting and then add the pupils (more chocolate)
  19. Frost on the light and dark brown fur as desired.
  20. Serve with love.


*flax egg = 1 tbsp flax meal + 3 tbsp water.

** I have found that even the best cup to cup blends of GF flour can yield gummy results. If you have a sifter, you should sift the GF flour prior to measuring and then measure with a spoon-and-level method (spooning into your measuring cup). I don't have a sifter, so I sifted it as well as I could with a fork and then used the fork-and-level method (same as spoon-and-level, but with a fork). Yes, it took a little bit longer to measure with a fork, but the results are far better.

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cake adapted from my baking addiction, frosting from very well

cat cake gluten free vegan no mold
chocolate chip zucchini cake gluten free vegan

Padrón Pepper and Blackberry Salsa

a sweet and simple and mostly mild salsa

Blackberry and Padron Pepper Mild Salsa

I used begrudge our little Ohio town for Not Being Raleigh and for Not Having An Umstead Park To Run At.  I sneered at the quaint Stars-Hollow beat of life. (But in all seriousness…..I pretty much live in Stars Hollow).  At night I’d whisper beneath the covers, glaring into my Kindle — this place is dumb, it’s not real.  

But after a year, I’m falling in love. There are several contributing factors:

  1. Insert very long story … and then Jason realized I was clinically depressed and took me to my doctor.  
  2. Cat.
  3. Getting back into a regular running routine.
  4. Summertime. I love being hot and sweaty and the sun staying out late and everything else that goes along with it.
  5.  Being DONE with school
  6. Our awesome little farmer’s market.

Okay. So really only one of those factors actually has anything to do with the town. I did love the Raleigh farmer’s market, but this one is close enough to walk to. And as I no longer work on Saturdays, I can go on a regular basis.

padron peppers

There’s no single stall I like the best. Jason says I throw elbows at the peach stand, but a) that’s not true and b) you gotta try these peaches. There are stands that I skip and stands that I must hit every time. One of the ones that I hit every time is the kale lady. I never actually buy her kale, but I do load up on her padrón peppers and puslane.

Padrón peppers are also known as roulette peppers because they are mostly mild, with the occasional scorcher. They are fun to pop as a snack, all toasty and oily and blistered from the pan.

But they also make excellent salsa. Normally I am not a fan of mild salsas, but in the summertime, I just want to taste every flavor, and not just the heat. Plump blackberries, sweet milky corn, the ephemeral wonder of the summer tomato. I want to know that they are all there on my tongue.  The padrón is perfect for this, a hovering of warmth with an occasional flare.

I kept the corn in the salsa raw, but it bothers your stomach, feel free to roast it first. In this case, use two ears of corn instead of one, as some of the plumpness will be lost in cooking.


Padrón Pepper and Blackberry Salsa

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes

Yield: about 4 cups

Although some salsas taste better as they mellow over time, this recipe tastes best fresh. Eat it the same day you make it. If you must keep it for a second day, add a spoon or two of brown sugar to bring back the sweetness in the blackberries.


  • 6 oz padron peppers
  • 8 oz blackberries
  • 8 oz cherry tomatoes
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 large ear of corn
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp microplane-grated garlic
  • salt to taste
  • coconut oil


  1. Coat a large pan with a thin layer of coconut oil, and set over medium heat.
  2. Once hot, place the peppers in the pan. Cook until dark blisters appear on the bottom of the peppers, about 3-4 minutes. Turn and cook on the other side for 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and salt immediately.
  3. Mince the peppers
  4. Dice the avocado and tomatoes, and strip the kernels off the corn.
  5. Gently cut the blackberries in half.
  6. Toss the peppers, the corn, the tomatoes, the avocaodes, and the blackberries together in a bowl.
  7. Add the lemon juice and garlic.
  8. Add salt to taste and serve right away.
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mostly mild salsa easy padron pepper






Almond Joy Almond Butter

Almond Joy Almond Butter

Even though I’m a big chocolate fan, I tend to dislike candy bars. They’re just not chocolaty enough for me, too sweet, never worth the calories. The one exception used to be (pre-soy allergy) almond joy bars.

When I came across a jar of coconut-cocoa-almond butter in the discount bin at the grocery store, I was super excited. Upon arriving home, I discovered why it was discounted. It was rather dry and crumbly and somehow heavy and gloppy all at once. The chocolate and coconut flavors were indiscernible, and even the almond presence was rather lacking. I tried to salvage it by mixing in a little maple syrup, but it just wasn’t worth it. I had to throw it away, which I hated doing because food waste unnerves me. (insert rant here) 

almond joy almond butter

In stereotypical food blogger fashion, I decided instead to make my own coconut-cocoa almond butter. We live in the Pinterest era. DIY or bust.

I started this recipe with slivered raw almonds, which were somehow cheaper than whole raw almonds. Beginning with slivered almonds also means your blender has to do less work, thus reducing the risk of blender burnout. And the maple syrup supplies a wonderful blade lubricant without adding extra oil.

I will conceded that the added maple makes it somewhat less healthy than regular almond butters. On the other hand, it is a protein rich snack that’s perfect to satisfy a chocolate craving.

This is a wonderful back to school recipe because it’s so quick and easy. And if you don’t have kids (or your kids hate coconut, gah, why) you should make it for yourself anyways. It’s a candy bar in a jar, which is pretty much the cat’s pajamas.


Almond Joy Almond Butter


Almond Joy Almond Butter

Yield: approx 2 cups

Because of the maple syrup, this will become a coarse butter quickly, but it will take about 8 minutes to smooth out. Remember to give your food processor/blender a break every few minutes so that it doesn't overheat.


  • 2 cups slivered raw almonds
  • 3/4 cup unsweet coconut flakes
  • 3/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder


  1. Grind the almonds down to a coarse meal.
  2. Add the coconut and grind again.
  3. Add the cocoa powder and maple syrup. Process until it becomes a paste.
  4. Enjoy!
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easy vegan almond joy almond butter

Raw “Fried” Avocado Salad with Peaches, Ground Cherries, and Tangy Strawberry Dressing

Silky raw “fried” avocados, the best summer produce, and a creamy low fat vegan dressing come together to make this yummy salad.

Raw Fried Avocado Salad

Earlier this week, I went to TJ Maxx in search of some work dresses and running gear. Save for an eight dollar pair of shorts, I found neither work clothes nor sweat-in clothes. That’s how it usually is at TJ Maxx-y type places, you either find armfuls of cute outfits or nothing at all. This was a nothing-at-all day.

I didn’t leave totally empty handed, because I wandered over to their random foodstuffs section and kinda hit the jackpot. Saigon cinnamon, Himalayan salt, peanut butter powder. And best of all — hemp hearts! I usually don’t buy hemp hearts because they are rather pricey, but these were so discounted that I just had to have them. Funnily enough, a few days later, I came across this article in Bon Appetit, all about how our TJ Maxx food purchases are mostly fueled by FOMO.

Guilty. But not too guilty because those are ingredients that I really want anyways, and can definitely put to good use. Big Lots also has an excellent food section, the Bob’s Red Mill stuff is cheaper than it is anywhere else.

ground cherries

I was very pleased with my hemp-heart purchase. Paired with avocado, they create a lovely crust — a little crunchy, a little soft, very reminiscent of fried avocado. Only better, because I dislike hot avocado.

Another purchase I was happy with this week was a bag of ground cherries from our Saturday farmer’s market. Ground cherries are relatively new to me, but I’m already crushing hard. They look delicate beneath their gossamer shell, but they are actually firm and juicy. The papery husk peels back to reveal a small golden fruit that tastes like pineapple and honey. I just cannot get enough of all this wonderful summer produce. Also, when you’re peeling them, they look like little Golden Snitches.

I did have a little problem while I was shooting the cherries, though. They are toxic to cats, and Clover likes to poke her little nose whatever I’m doing. I kept having to shoo her away, and finally I gave up let her play outside so she would leave me alone. Then she climbed a tree, and looked cute doing that, so I stopped taking pictures of food and started taking cat videos. Which defeated the whole purpose of letting her out to play. In the end, I just gave her her lunch a little bit early.  As a new cat mama, I’m learning that the feline-human relationship is hierarchical — and we’re on the bottom.

raw "fried" avocado salad with tangy creamy strawberry dressing

Raw “Fried” Avocado Salad with Peaches, Ground Cherries, and Tangy Strawberry Dressing

Yield: 1-2

For best results, make the dressing a few hours (or even 1 day) prior to serving. This allows the flavors to mellow and mingle. If your strawberries are extra sweet, you might may want to omit the maple syrup. This dressing lasts about a week in the fridge, and makes way more than is necessary for this salad -- so you'll be able to enjoy it on other summer goodies as well.

This recipe can be eaten as a main meal for one, or as a side salad to share between two.


    for the salad
  • 1 avocado
  • 1 peach, sliced
  • 1/3 cup ground cherries, husks removed prior to measuring
  • 3 tbsp hemp hearts
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 ear of corn, shucked
  • 3-4 handfuls of greens of choice
  • for the dressing
  • 1 lb strawberries, hulled
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled
  • 2/3 cup canned northern white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp sriracha
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 3/4 tsp microplane-grated fresh garlic
  • salt to taste


    for the dressing
  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender until smooth. Makes just over 2 1/2 cups
  2. for the salad
  3. Turn on the broiler. Once hot, place the corn directly under the heat. Cook for for 12 minutes, turning the corn every 3-4 minutes. Allow to cool and strip off the kernels.
  4. Combine the hemp hearts and the salt.
  5. Slice the avocado into 8 pieces. Gently roll in the hemp hearts to coat.
  6. Combine the greens, the peaches, the avocado, the corn, and the ground cherries in a bowl. Drizzle with dressing.
  7. Enjoy!
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avocado and peach salad with low fat dressing


Cherry Berry Sundae

Cherry Berry Sundae

Oh gosh. I’m sorry I’ve been a bit absent. Between running and being hyperfocused on studying for my boards and starting a new job next week and taking a beginning drawing class, I haven’t spent much time in the kitchen.

That’s why this sweet, cold dish is just perfect right now. Just blend up some frozen fruit, drizzle on an easy homemade magic shell, and go to town. It’s refreshing and filling. Not filling in an ughhhh-gotta-take-a-tap kind of way. Filling in a that-hit-the-spot-now-I’m-gonna-tackle-the-rest-of-my-day kind of way. I ate it right after a run, before heading to my art class.

frozen fruit

Y’all, I’m so awkward with a charcoal stick and I’m probably the least advanced person in the class, but I LOVE it. Even if it is 40 minutes away. The folks I’ve met are chill and kind and I enjoy their company. And after spending all winter cooped up and sad, that feeling is just about as refreshing as this sundae.

Cherry Berry Sundae


Cherry Berry Sundae


  • 2 frozen bananas
  • 1 cup of frozen cherries
  • 1 cup of frozen blueberries
  • almond milk
  • tahini
  • cinnamon toasted oats -- hover for recipe
  • 2-3 tbsp each of:
  • coconut oil
  • maple syrup
  • cocoa powder


  1. Blend the cherries and one banana, with enough almond milk to make the blades move.
  2. Repeat step one with the blueberries.
  3. Place the ice cream in the freezer while you prepare the cinnamon toasted oats and the magic shell.
  4. Prepare the oats
  5. Combine the cocoa powder, the coconut oil, and the maple syrup until smooth.
  6. Remove the ice cream from the freezer, scoop into a serving bowl.
  7. Drizzle heartily with tahini, magic shell, and oats. Top with additional berries if desired. Eat right away!
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Lemony Smashed Potatoes with Okra, Tomato, and Purslane

or……what Annie found at the farmer’s market this week. Minus the lemons, duh. Those came from the grocery store.

Smashed Potatoes with summer produce

What I really wanted to make this week was this dish, minus the potatoes and add squash blossoms. But nobody at the farmer’s market had squash blossoms, and the German butterball potatoes just looked too good to pass up. I ended up loving my choice because it was hearty and easy and cheap and I didn’t have to stand over the burner sauteeing squash blossoms. I’m not ruling out those big orange flowers for future posts, though.

The folks at the market also had some nice purslane. I’ve been foraging my own wild purslane, and it’s delicious. But the farm-grown greens are even better. Sweeter and lemony and meatier. I usually eat purslane sauteed with a little garlic and onion, but the farm-grown stuff is good raw. Also, sauteed purslane looses its color in like five seconds after it hits the pan and I like my food bright. I’ll still eat the foraged kind because it’s free and plentiful, but for this recipe, I used the farmed shoots.

smashed potatoes with summer produce

I was super excited for the okra because I haven’t had any this summer. I just love how the little seeds pop in your mouth when you bite in.  This is kind of like fried okra, only not fried. I used aquafaba to get the breading to stick to the okra. Just be sure to shake off excess moisture, or the breading will get soggy even after baking. Yuck.

The guy at the potato stand had three different kinds of midsummer tubers, and I had the hardest time choosing. Finally I decided on the German butterballs because the dude said they got the best golden crust when roasting. In truth, they were a little mealier than I like, but not by much. Little viking potatoes or red bliss or whatever small potato you can find will work just fine.

Smashed Potatoes with Summer Produce

Lemony Smashed Potatoes with Okra, Tomato, and Purslane

This recipe calls for coconut oil, but you can certainly substitute olive oil if you wish. For an extra golden crisp, drizzle a little bit more oil over the lemon coating.


  • 18-20 German Butterball potatoes
  • 8 oz multicolored cherry tomatoes
  • 12 oz of fresh okra
  • 1 cup of purslane leaves
  • 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp of coconut oil, plus a little more
  • 2 tsp lemon zest
  • 2 tsp microplane-grated garlic
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • Okra breading
  • 2 1/2 cups of corn Chex or generic equivalent
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • aquafaba from 1 can of chickpeas


  1. Scrub the potatoes and boil them in salted water (uncovered) over high heat until the yield to a fork -- about 15-20 min.
  2. Combine the lemon juice, the coconut oil, the lemon zest, the garlic, the salt and the pepper. Set aside.
  3. Cut the stem and the tip off the okra and slice in half lengthwise. Set aside.
  4. Cut the tomatoes in half or quarters.
  5. Place the corn cereal in a blender and pulverize. Combine with the salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Set aside.
  6. Preheat the oven to 450 and grease 2 pans with coconut oil
  7. Once the potatoes are done boiling, allow them to cool. Quarter the larger ones (so you get more "smashed" surface area) and then place them on one of the pans. Smash flat with a cup.
  8. Carefully pour the lemon mix over top of the potatoes.
  9. Bake the potatoes for 25 minutes, until nice and golden. Sprinkle with more salt the second they come out of the oven.
  10. While the potatoes are roasting, dip the prepared okra in the aquafaba, shake off excess, and roll in breading. Place them on the second pan. Put them in the oven 10 minutes after you've started the potatoes, but remove them at the same time. (okra bakes for 15 minutes)
  11. Combine the orka and potatoes in a big serving dish. Toss in the tomatoes and purslane leaves.
  12. Serve right away, with lots of love.
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lemony smashed potatoes with summer produce easy cheap vegan