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a little bbq inspiration

summer is winding down here in chicago- the weather has cooled and we're finally getting some much-needed rain. but as much as i'm looking forward to warm drinks, cozy blankets, and pulling on plush socks knit by my grandmother, i'm not ready to say good-bye to summer yet. at least not before i get one more bbq in. here are some recipes from what was probably one of the best bbq menus i've put together- it was super tasty and SO EASY! i used grilled veggies as sides and toppings (instead of the usual raw lettuce/onions/tomatoes)- there's less to think about when everything just goes on the bbq (thus also amping up the yumminess quotient) and it makes sandwich combos pretty much endless (as well as highly customizable for those who are hesitant about tempeh/weirded out by mushrooms/etc). creamy coleslaw on my portobello burger? yes please!

bbq menu
bbq tempeh burgers with sweet potato (recipe from the first mess)
portobello cap burgers w/avocado
grilled veggies
coleslaw w/almond mayo
cantaloupe popsicles

bbq tempeh w/sweet potatoes 
(minimally adapted from the first mess based on what i had on hand. laura's tempeh & sweet potato sandwiches are pretty much perfect, so there's no point changing anything unless you're short on ingredients)
"burger" components:
1 block tempeh
2 medium sweet potatoes

2 tsp olive oil
1 yellow onion
3 cloves garlic
1.5 cups ketchup
4 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons sriracha
4 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons vegetarian worcestershire sauce (or tamari if you're in a pinch)
*optional: 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

- slice your block of tempeh width-wise (so you have two thinner versions of your original block) and cut into desired shapes/sizes (larger for burgers, smaller for dinner rolls, triangles if you want to get funky with it). set aside.

- peel your sweet potatoes and slice them into 1/3" rounds. steam until "al dente" (or boil if you're in a super hurry). 

- while the potatoes cook make your bbq sauce: mince onion and garlic in a food processor until they form a chunky paste. heat a saucepan and add your olive oil, followed by your onion/garlic mixture. allow this to cook for about 2 minutes until onion chunks become translucent. add all remaining ingredients and let simmer for 10-15 minutes. 

- while your sauce simmers drain your sweet potato, let cool, and place on a serving plate with sides/burger toppings (below).

- pour warm bbq sauce over tempeh (you'll have extra sauce, which is perfect because it's so delicious that you're probably going to want to spread it on everything else). let marinate at least 30 minutes and then grill. 

3/4 head of cabbage (green, purple, or a combo), shredded
5 carrots, peeled and julienned/shredded
1 red pepper, diced
almond mayo to taste (recipe from lagusta's luscious)

- mix shredded cabbage, carrots, and diced pepper together with almond mayo. easy peasy!

cantaloupe popsicles
1 cantaloupe
sweetener to taste (i use maple syrup)

- another super easy recipe: peel the melon, cut into chunks, and blend. mix in sweetener if desired, and pour into popsicle molds. freeze 3 hrs.

sides and alternate burger toppings
for the grill:
portobello mushroom caps
roma tomatoes, halved
red onions, sliced into thick rings
corn on the cob

fresh arugula
sliced avocado

you'll also want to have the usual suspects on hand: buns, mustard, relish/pickles, ketchup. daquiris...


meet pete!

there's always room for pete-za!
meet our new kitty pete (or pete-za as we like to call him)! we adopted him from tree house last week (he's had his share of ups and downs so we're hoping to be his forever home) and we have fallen under the spell of his his elvis snarl and affectionate, enthusiastic head-butts! pete is a kitty with a heart of gold- so loving, trusting, and so desperate to befriend our stranger-shy klaus... 

"love me!"
klaus: "why does this guy follow me EVERYWHERE?"
pete: "i wonder if she wants me
to head-but her..."
learning to share space
klaus isn't a very adaptable cat, but we've caught her warming up to sweet mr. pete, even letting him lick her face and cheek (a HUGE deal for our typically skittish and ornery klaus). it may take a while for klaus to trust him, but we know in time they'll be buds. i mean, even klaus can't resist a face like this...

greener pesto

i'm one of those people who doesn't like to eat the same thing twice, so i'm always changing up and adding to recipes. pesto is a really easy recipe to customize- i've seen all sorts of variations online- and tonight i tweaked ours by adding more greens to it. don't get me wrong, i love the simplicity and earthiness of pesto, but sometimes it gets a little boring.

greener pesto
1 cup blanched kale
1/2 cup blanched parsley
2 cups raw basil
1/3 cup raw pepitas
1/3 cup raw almonds
4 cloves fresh garlic
1/2 to 3/4 cup cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil*
1 teaspoon himalayan pink salt
a squeeze of lemon juice

*or sub 1 fresh avocado for the olive oil (or use 1/3 cup oil & 1/2 avocado!)

- add all ingredients except olive oil to a food processor or vita-mix and blend, adding the olive oil slowly as everything blends. if you use avocado you can just add it with all the ingredients at the beginning. that's it- so easy!!

tonight we mixed the pesto into red pepper linguine and have plenty extra for sandwich-spreading and veggie-dipping. if you're not going to use it within a day or so i would recommend storing it in the freezer in a closed glass jar, with olive oil covering the top of the pesto so it doesn't oxidize. then whenever you want some you can scoop out just what you need! this is a great way to add pesto flavor to dips and sauces in winter when fresh herbs are scarce.