Celebrating the Fourth with vegetarian-friendly noms

We had a lot of awesome awesome food this Fourth of July. And Christina made some of it!

We also had some help from our lovely friend Rachel, who spent the day with us and treated us to some delicious fried avocado. Rachel is a smart, sassy liberal who blogs about environmental and assorted other issues. Check her out!

Here was our menu for the day:

  • Baked Green Bean Fries
  • Fried Avocado
  • Black Bean and Sweet Potato Tacos (these are seriously one of the best things I’ve ever made)
  • Roasted Asparagus, Potatoes, and Chickpeas (I promise soon we’ll have a post that doesn’t involve chickpeas)
  • Cherry-Limeade Cake
  • Shirley temples (with a tiny bit of whiskey)

Baked green bean fries:

These were a great snack/appetizer, and pretty quick to make.

  •  Fresh green beans
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Flour
  • Egg
  • Seasonings (I recommend salt and crushed red pepper)
  1. Preheat your oven to 375.
  2. Slice the ends off the green beans. Arrange three bowls, one with some flour, one with an egg, and one with a mix of breadcrumbs and your chosen seasonings.
  3. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick spray or line with parchment paper.
  4. Dip each green bean into first the flour, then the egg, and then the breadcrumb mixture. Arrange them on the baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes. Enjoy!

Fried avocado (lovingly battered by Rachel):

I considered making an actual salad with my avocado when I found this recipe for avocado fries. Frying it doesn’t make it any less healthy, right? I adapted this recipe from Treehugger, adding flour into the process to help the egg and breadcrumb stick better. Then I dipped the avocado slices in flour,  egg diluted with a little bit of water, and then the breadcrumbs. This recipe says you can also put them in the oven to make them healthier, but I don’t view that as a valid option. So I decided to fry them.

Black bean and sweet potato tacos:

 Guys, these were so fucking good. This time we bought wheat tortillas, but next time I want to try making my own corn tortillas.

  •  Half a small red onion
  • Two sweet potatoes
  • Garlic
  • Old bay
  • Curry powder
  • Cumin
  • Black beans
  • Corn (I used a can of sweet corn for ease, but if you have fresh corn on the cob and don’t mind scraping some kernels off there, more power to you.)
  • Avocado
  • Tortillas
  1. Start the onion cooking in a skillet with a little bit of olive oil on about medium or medium-high heat. While the onion softens, dice your sweet potatoes.
  2. Add the sweet potatoes to the skillet with your seasonings and maybe between a quarter and half a cup of water. Cover to allow the potatoes to soften and cook through. Note on seasonings: Normally, I would have used spices like cayenne and paprika for this recipe. However, I was cooking in the kitchen where Christina is subletting, and their kitchen did not have those. So I went for the Old Bay (all Baltimore kitchens are required to have that, I think) and combined it with the curry and cumin, and it was super delicious. So, if you have the cayenne and paprika, that’s cool and you can totally use it. But if you have Old Bay, I’d recommend giving that a try too.
  3. While your potatoes are cooking, drain and rinse your black beans. Once the potatoes are pretty well cooked through, you can lower the heat and add the black beans.
  4. Drain the corn and add it. I didn’t use a whole can, but you do you based on how much you like corn.
  5. Heat tortillas according to directions on the package (I wrapped mine in aluminum foil and put them in the oven for a couple minutes.)
  6. Spoon potato and bean mixture onto tortillas. Add some avocado. Brace yourself for greatness.

Roasted asparagus, potatoes, and chickpeas:

This was a super delicious side. I had it in the oven while I was making the tacos, so they were ready at about the same time.

  • Asparagus (I used one package of frozen asparagus)
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2-3 small white potatoes, cubed
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Garlic
  • Crushed red pepper
  1. Preheat your oven to 425.
  2. Combine all the ingredients in a baking dish (I cut the stalks of asparagus into thirds for manageability.) Mix until it is well- coated with olive oil and seasonings.
  3. Bake until potatoes are pierced easily with a fork.
  4. This is also a recipe you can easily alter for a different taste. Try adding some balsamic vinegar, or different spices like rosemary and thyme. Get crazy!

Cherry limeade cake (baked by Christina):

One thing summer sublets rarely have is baking supplies. So, without cupcake tins, we were forced to adapt this recipe for the cupcakes into a cherry limeade cake. One adaptation I might suggest is to make a cream cheese frosting instead of a butter-based one. With the summer heat, the frosting was too runny when left on the kitchen table, but it was too hard when refrigerated. I find a cream cheese (or neufchâtel for a more health conscious frosting) can make for a less-melty option. Just substitute 2 8 oz packages of cream cheese with the recipe.

I also found that fresh cherries were nice to top the cake with, but a pain in the ass to use in the frosting. The recipe said the pitted cherries would break up in the mixer, but mine did not and I had to hand pick the cherry skin out of the frosting.

Next time, I would try this recipe with a few adaptations, but the flavors are quite nice for a summer dessert.

Christina’s Corner: 

Summer may be the time for picnicking and hiking and whatnot. But on days like today (hottest day of the year in Baltimore), sometimes it’s just better to stay indoors – for hydration’s sake. And for those days, might I recommend several shows have premiered this summer.

ABC Family’s The Fosters is the new gay show that is worth your viewing time. Although I wish gay representation on television was at a point where we didn’t need to qualify shows by the existence of gay characters or not, The Fosters is not simply about the gay. It is more about family than anything else, and it is the most heartwarming. Do not be scared away with the knowledge that this is the same channel that airs Switched at Birth or Secret Life of the American TeenagerThe Fosters tackles issues of race, abandonment, and feminism in more depth than I could ever expect from an ABC Family show. You will cry, but they will be happy tears.

For a little something different, Under the Dome is CBS’s new sci-fy show. To be honest, I am generally wary of the genre, but the episodes are simultaneously released on Amazon Prime, which was enough incentive for me to watch it. With only three episodes so far, I know nothing about what is actually going on, but I haven’t gotten bored. Much like many adaptations of Stephen King books, this is enjoyable and so far the television medium seems to be working.

If neither of these shows is your cup of tea, remember that Pretty Little LiarsThe Killing, and True Blood have all returned for their summer seasons. And there is no better way to beat the heat than a mini-marathon on HBOgo. 

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