Sugar Dish Me

"if you can read, you can cook" -my momma

Posts Tagged ‘vegetarian

Creamy Balsamic Vinaigrette

with 7 comments

Mealtimes have felt EXTRA boring for about a week now… I’m in a rut. I mean, I think we all know I have breakfast down pat. Lunch is no problem… I just eat soup because no one else will and I LIKE IT. I have no problem at all feeling creative with desserts or snacks. Those things are always fun. It’s dinner that is reeeeeally gettin’ me down.

I’m bored with chicken.

I’m bored with the grill.

I’m bored with pasta. And rice. And potatoes.

All the vegetables at the grocery store looked super boring on Sunday morning, but I may have been temporarily blinded by the giant-sized Pumpkin Spice Latte that accompanied me around the produce section. Sidenote: there were NO BANANAS at the supermarket. Not even one. Is there a banana shortage that I am totally unaware of?

Even Pinterest has failed to provide me with inspiration. That’s bad, right?

creamy balsamic vinaigrette

So until I figure something out, I’m going to share something with you that is the opposite of boring: Creamy balsamic vinaigrette. And THIS (I just can’t stop looking at this… it never ever stops being funny).

Anyway… this dressing is completely awesome! I love it. It makes carrot sticks interesting. Broccoli likes to dance around in it. Mixed green salads wanna swim in this stuff. I might have soaked a bit of it up with a pinch or two of whole wheat bread. Annnd I may have drizzled a little over Chad’s sandwich at lunch to see if he’d notice. He did. It’s his new favorite thing. I’m thinking I’ll try it as a marinade as soon as I make friends with chicken again. It’s only a matter of time.

So I’m trying extra hard to drum up some creative dinner energy. And until I come up with a few new somethings, we’re gonna be eating this dressing on everything.

If you have any suggestions, I’m wide open!

Creamy Balsalmic Vinaigrette (from THIS recipe at My Life as a Mrs)

4 cloves garlic, very very finely chopped

3 tablespoons mayonnaise

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon spicy or dijon mustard

1 tablespoon sugar

2 teaspoons Morton’s Nature’s Seasoning

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

3/4 cup olive oil (extra light is recommended)

Whisk together all of the ingredients EXCEPT the balsamic vinegar and olive oil. When they are well-combined, whisk in the balsamic vinegar and then gradually whisk in the olive oil.

balsamic vinaigrette


Written by Heather @ Sugar Dish Me

September 25, 2012 at 6:29 pm

Cheesy BBQ Veggie Sliders

with 22 comments

easy veggie burgers
This weekend was all about amusement.

Saturday night brought the demolition derby type of amusement, complete with mullet-sporting spectators, loud cars, lots of mud, and my 9-year-old thrilled to pieces over some car with the word “renegade” spray-painted on the side.

And then on Sunday there was this: rollercoaster!

Soooooooo many rollercoasters. I am a thrill-ride junkie. I love love LOVE a rollercoaster. It’s been a few years since we’ve made it over to Paramount’s Carowinds (which is, like everything else in the civilized world, about an hour from here) because it is usually pretty pricey, the heat is unbearable, and the lines are way too long. But! Our dear friend Pat, who is too adorable to even try to put into words, really wanted the boys to do something fun this summer – her treat. We waited until the summer was hanging on by a thread and picked yesterday to indulge in all things too fast, too high, and too much fun.

Armed with a 12-pack of Coca-Cola, a pile of peanut butter sandwiches, and a box of those chocolate Hostess cupcakes with the curly-cues across the top, we made our way to the amusement park, dead-set in our rain or shine mentality. It was a torrential downpour all the way up the road… I was beginning to fear I’d have to placate the children with a movie I couldn’t bear to sit through (to give you a good idea of what I mean, Evan thinks that Air Bud makes for quality viewing material). But when we pulled into the park the downpour turned to drizzle and eventually just… stopped.

As a result of our fearless drive through the hurricane-force sheets of rain, we were able to ride every rollercoaster in the park at least TWICE without waiting in one single line all day. That was a very sweet gamble.

So it’s been a few years since I’ve been on a rollercoaster, and though I am ever unafraid, I have to admit that the Intimidator rattled me. It was the first stop of the day because we just knew that bananas long lines would happen at any minute. Rather than work our way up to the tallest, fastest, longest coaster in the southeast, we just jumped in with both feet. Eyes wide open.

There are no shoulder harnesses.                                                      YIKES.

diced red onions

But ohhhh so worth the scary.

Chad, my little brother, and I spent a good chunk of the day convincing the children to get on rides they had dubbed “too high” or “too scary”. Evan quickly established that his comfort zone involves lap belts and hills, but absolutely no loops. He actually buried his face in his hands on his first go of the Goldrusher, a train ride I very affectionately remember riding with my parents when I was very super small. Five I think.

making veggie burgers

Andrew totally resisted his status as son of a thrill-seeker until …he didn’t.  When he finally got it, he was all-in. You have never seen a kid more excited or more fueled by pure happy adrenaline than mine after his third trip round on the scariest rollercoaster I’ve ever ridden.

Heart-warmingly adorable.

chick peas, black beans, BBQ, sliders

The only thing we didn’t do yesterday is eat greasy amusement park food. We by-passed every steak ‘n’ hoagie, every single cheeseburger. We did not eat even one giant soft pretzel. There were no $7 Dippin Dots or $9 soft drinks in fancy souvenir cups. Halfway through the day we marched out to the parking lot, ate our picnic lunch, and marched right back in. That’s not to say I wasn’t totally enticed by the smells of Cinnabon wafting past, but I’m the mom that brings a purse full of candy to the movie theater. And I’m okay with that.


I did, however, bring thoughts of fair-like food home with me. So I indulged today, but I healthed it up a pretty good bit.

These Cheesy BBQ Veggie Sliders are HANDS-DOWN the best veggie burgers I’ve ever had. What’s better is that they’re itty bitty, so you can have two.

Cleverly smashed into these lovely little sliders are chick peas, black beans, carrots, spinach, caramelized onions, cheese, and BBQ sauce. Ohhhhhh yeah.

Topping these with more cheese was an important decision. In my opinion, there is no such thing as too much cheese.

More veggies on top of the unreasonable amount of cheese.

veggie burger sliders

If they had sold these tiny veggie burgers at Carowinds, I might have been tempted to splurge. But I think I’m glad I waited to gorge myself on park-ish food today, in the comfort of my own home, where Chad is the only person that might point and laugh if I smear BBQ sauce on my face.

Cheesy BBQ Veggie Sliders (modified from THIS recipe at How Sweet It Is)

1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped

1 teaspoon olive oil

just a dab of butter

a pinch of kosher salt

15-16 ounces of cooked, drained, and rinsed garbanzo beans, black beans, or a combination of both (see note at the bottom)

1 medium carrot, grated

1/2 cup cooked greens — spinach or kale both work well, OR you can use thawed frozen spinach- just be sure to squeeze allll the water out

1/2 cup grated colby jack cheese (or whatever your preference)

2 tablespoons BBQ sauce (I used Sweet Baby Ray’s Sweet & Spicy)

1 teaspoon honey

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon paprika

a dash of onion powder

3 tablespoons whole wheat flour

More cheese, lettuce, tomato, red onion, and BBQ sauce for topping the finished sliders

8 whole wheat dinner rolls

Place the red onion, olive oil, butter, and kosher salt in a small saute pan over medium heat. Caramelize the onion, stirring it around in the butter and oil occasionally. This should only take a few minutes.

Meanwhile, put the beans in a large bowl and start smashing them with the back of a fork. You could use a food processor to pulvarize the beans, but I like this rustic sort of texture, PLUS the chunks of beans seem to help the patties stay together. Add the grated carrots, greens, and cheese. When the onions are good and caramelly dump them in. Continue smashing everything together with the fork. Mix in the BBQ sauce, honey, pepper, paprika, and onion powder. Keep using the fork to combine all the ingredients evenly. Then mix in the flour.

Using about 3 heaping tablespoons at a time, form the mixture into 8 equal-sized patties. Refrigerate them for 30 minutes (this just makes them easier to handle- it’s not completely necessary).

Heat a large skillet on medium high. Coat with just a dab of oil or non-stick cooking spray and add the patties just a few at a time so you have room to flip them (they will be a little bit soft; I like to cook 3 at a time so that there is room for my spatula in the skillet). Cook them for about 3 minutes on each side – you’re just browning them and trying to heat them through.

Slice the whole wheat dinner rolls in half, burger-bun-style. Drizzle a little more BBQ sauce onto the bottom half of each mini bun, Place the cooked veggie sliders on top of the BBQ sauce. Then top them with cheese while they’re still HOT! so it will melt. Stach each slider with lettuce, tomato, and red onion slices, finishing with the top half of the bun. You can hold them together using frill picks if you’d like.

**Note: To make 8 regular sized burgers or 16 sliders, use 1 (15 ounce) can of garbanzo beans (chick peas) and 1 (15 ounce) can of black beans, and then double the rest of the ingredients. You could use all of one kind or the other, but the combination of the two beans was great for flavor AND color. If you aren’t doubling the recipe, you could certainly still use half of each can and save the rest of the beans for another dish OR you could do like I do (if you either plan ahead or have a bit of extra time) and soak & prepare dried beans — I just measure them by scooping them out of the big pot with my liquid measuring cup. All beans do need to be drained and rinsed, of course. Even those you cook yourself.**

veggie burgers

Written by Heather @ Sugar Dish Me

September 17, 2012 at 9:47 pm

Sassy Oatmeal

with 20 comments

I’m a cereal kinda girl. Granola? Love it. Granola bars? Love those, too.
Quaker Toasted Oatmeal is darn near perfect.
You can stuff cereal into muffins. You can make it into treats that are drenched in pink sprinkles.
Chex Mix, anyone?
Corn Flakes are smashed and sprinkled over casserole. Chicken is dredged in cereal crumbs and baked to crisp perfection.
Cereal and fruit are quite a pair. Strawberries, blueberries, bananas… cranberries, raisins, dates, peaches… there is really no shortage of possibilities.

Which got me thinking about my oatmeal.
I’m an oatmeal purist: no sugar required.
I love slow cooked old fashioned oats topped with a healthy fistful of dried cranberries and a few chopped walnuts. It’s breakfast perfection.
Sometimes I whisk in a slightly beaten egg for creaminess (similar to the pasta carbonara effect; I like all breakfast foods all hours of the day) and protein.

So anyway I wondered what might happen if I started putting my food into my cereal instead of my cereal into my food?

It’s time to start a revolution.

If you follow me here regularly, you already know that I am killing myself on the daily with the Insanity workout. It’s good. And bad. But mostly good. So as much as I love my sugary treats, I have to say that I haven’t been too interested in negating my hard work with things like cake (surely this is a phase and will soon pass).

But I need cake. I LOVE CAKE.

So I turned my oatmeal into carrot cake.

I told you: revolution.

Carrot Cake Oatmeal (inspiration for this HERE at Oh She Glows; her version is vegan!)

Ingredients (serves 2)

1 cup old fashioned oats (quick oats would work; just make sure to read the package for liquid:oat ratio)

1 1/2 cups of milk (I used 2% but you could use almond or soy milk easily)

1/2 cup water

1 cup grated carrots

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon ginger

1 teaspoon vanilla

2 tablespoons maple syrup

1 egg, lightly beaten (optional)

2 teaspoons brown sugar (optional)

raisins, chopped walnuts, and shredded coconut to top the oatmeal

To Make

Bring the milk and water to a slow boil (careful not to burn the milk!!!). Stir in the oats and then the carrots. Continue to simmer, over medium high heat, stirring occasionally. Stir in the cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and vanilla. Stir in the maple syrup. Continue cooking until the oatmeal is creamy and cooked through. Remove it from the heat and then whisk in the egg. Return the pan to the burner, stirring constantly, over very low heat until the egg is completely incorporated (oatmeal will be sort of frothy). Divide into two bowls, sprinkle a teaspoon of brown sugar on each, and garnish with the raisins, walnuts, and shredded coconut.

Carrot Cake Oatmeal is sassy.

Written by Heather @ Sugar Dish Me

June 6, 2012 at 4:15 pm

Two Soups

with 16 comments

Was your Mother’s Day wonderful? I hope it was.

Mine was super, from start to finish.

Coffee in bed (and now I know I’m not the only one that knows how to work the coffee pot) while I propped up on pillows and read a book. A creamy bowl of old fashoioned oatmeal with cranberries and walnuts (and now I know I’m not the only one that knows how to work the stove), a clean kitchen (my children know how to wash dishes!!!!), and handmade garden-ready gifts. My little boys stayed up half the night painting clay pots to plant in that say, “Happy Mother-D,” which translates to, “Happy Mother’s Day; we ran out of room for ‘s’ and ‘-ay'”. I will plant flowers in my pots and cherish them forever and ever again.

Chad started me an herb garden (complete with chamomile for tea!); he stored away a little snatch of a passing conversation we had months ago and served it up for Mother’s Day. I love that.

Thank you Chad for orchestrating a relaxing morning full of well-behaved little boys and happy surprises. Thank you little boys for the best presents ever! Also, thank you for not being annoying in the car. Great big thanks to my sister, Lindsey, who put on a beautiful brunch for my mom and I (mimosas, chicken salad, fruit salad, mini quiche, potato skins & cookies!) and for having really good taste in clothes. Thank you littlest sister Steph-O for driving in circles, taking the day off, making a fruit tart that we totally devoured last night, for a super cool gift, and for braiding my hair. Thank you Momma for being the most awesome mom on the earth everyday all the time; and thank you for purple African daisies and O.P.I. nail polish.

Last but not least, thanks to all the boys for patiently keeping each other company while us girls fixed each other’s hair and chattered away in between bouts of champagne induced giggles. It was great.

It’s super rainy in the Carolinas today; we are alternating between torrential downpours and spotty sunshine through the rolling storm clouds. Days like this always inspire soup – the ultimate cozy comfort food. Remember on Easter when I was pining away for Easter ham?

this is the ham my little brother put in the freezer instead of the fridge… oops.

Well I never had the ham, but mom gave me the ham bone. I made a creamy corn chowder.

A week or two ago I tried my hand at black beans from scratch. I started with dried beans, soaked them overnight, cooked them with lime juice and fresh herbs and was so excited about the finished product…


I don’t know where I went wrong (the original measurements were weird… I might have gotten confused? sounds about right…) but I was left with a vat of beans that I could not make myself eat. And I hate throwing food away. I have all sorts of guilt about it. So I coaxed the offensive beans into a yummy black bean soup.


Soup is a really simple way to use up all your leftovers or disguise rude pots of beans.

Corn Chowder from


1 ham bone, all extra meat trimmed off and set to the side (to be added back in later)

4 tablespoons butter

4 tablespoons flour

2 cups of milk (I used 2%)

1 1/2 cups frozen corn

1/2 a large onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

salt, pepper & paprika to taste

To Make

Make ham stock. Put your ham bone in a stock pot and fill with just enough water to cover it. Bring it to a boil and cook for 30 minutes. Remove the ham bone and drop the heat to a simmer, reducing the stock to about 2 cups of liquid. Remove the stock from the heat and set aside. Melt the butter in a large skillet and remove from heat. Whisk in the flour until it’s smooth and then slowly whisk in 1 cup of the milk. Return the skillet to the heat stirring until the milk thickens. Then stir in the corn, onion, garlic, and trimmed ham from earlier. Slowly stir in 1 cup of the ham broth. Simmer. Stir in the second cup of milk. Simmer and stir. Add more of the ham stock until the soup is to your desired consistency. Add the salt, pepper, and paprika to your taste.

Black Bean Soup (modified from


1 tablespoon oil

2 thin slices of deli ham (optional), diced into tiny pieces

2 medium onions, finely diced

6 cloves of garlic, minced

2-3 cups of reduced sodium chicken broth

1 can of Ro-tel OR diced tomatoes with green chiles

2 tablespoons ketchup

2 tablespoons worcestershire sauce

1 tablespoon chili powder

all your offensive black beans OR 4 cans of low-sodium black beans, drained, not rinsed

salt & pepper to taste

1 bunch of cilantro, coarsely chopped

juice of 1/2 a lime

To Make

In a large non-stick skillet heat the oil. Stir in the ham and onions and cook for about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for about a minute. Pour in the chicken broth, canned tomatoes with green chiles, ketchup, worcestershire sauce, and chili powder. Bring it to a boil and then stir in the beans. Boil and then reduce the heat to simmer, stirring frequently. Season with the salt and pepper. After about 10 minutes stir in the cilantro and lime juice.

What’s your favorite soup on a rainy day?

Written by Heather @ Sugar Dish Me

May 14, 2012 at 5:38 pm

In the Summer I Still Love My Slow Cooker

with 18 comments

While we all marvel at the summer weather before the first day of spring (this is at least my third post on the topic; read more here and here) I am honing my skills at cooking without turning the a/c on. It’s MARCH for crying out loud! I should still be sporting a light jacket with my flip flops, not kicking off the covers and sprawling across the bed while I’m trying to sleep.

I have thrown all the windows open and am refusing to turn the air on. In March. Because that’s wrong.

It’s very nice in here in the morning- I have yet to add a pile of ice cubes to my morning coffee cup- so I have decided that the morning is when I will be cooking dinner. For those that cannot be home to cook in the morning, this can all be done the night before. When it’s hot outside you can still be friends with your crock pot.

I found this recipe for Soupe Au Pistou (translation: a delicious pile of vegetables with a dollop of pesto on top) in the March 2012 issue of Family Circle magazine. Coarsely chop up carrots, gold potatoes (you need a variety that will hold up), onions, and zucchini. You could also add yellow squash or fresh green beans: draw your inspiration from what’s fresh and plentiful when you’re out and about.

Stir in a can of your favorite diced tomatoes,

Season with kosher salt and coarse ground black pepper according to your taste and pour in 8 cups of water. Put the lid on and cook on low for 8 hours. Thirty-ish minutes before your soup is done, add one cup of uncooked soup-ey pasta (I used ditalini; I couldn’t find any alphabet or stars) and two 15 ounce cans of white beans.

Asparagus is my favorite spring vegetable. Trimmed and cut into two-inch pieces, if I were using asparagus, I’d add it now (because no one likes asparagus that’s mushy).

Replace the lid and continue slow-cooking for that last thirty minutes until your pasta is tender. Serve with a generous spoonful of pesto on top (you can purchase pesto already prepared or use your favorite recipe). Hot soup, cool house.

Vegetable Pesto Slow Cooker Soup (from Family Circle, March 2012)


4 medium carrots peeled and coarsely chopped

4-5 cups of peeled and chopped boiling potatoes (I used Honey Gold)

2 medium onions, chopped

2 zucchini, cut in half lengthwise and then sliced into half-moons

1 can of your favorite diced tomatoes

salt and pepper to taste

8 cups of water

2 cans drained and rinsed cannellini beans (really any beans would do)

1 cup of dry soup-ey pasta (I used ditalini)

pesto- prepared or purchased ahead of time and added according to your taste

To Make

Add carrots, potatoes, onions, zucchini (along with any other veggies that hold up in a slow cooker; squash, fresh green beans…) and canned tomatoes to a large slow cooker. Add salt and pepper to taste and stir until all the veggies are well combined. Pour in 8 cups of water, cover and slow cook for 8 hours on low. About 30 minutes before the soup is done, add in the pasta, beans, and any other “soft” veggies you like– ahem, asparagus. Recover and continue cooking for that last thirty minutes, and serve this veggie soup with a big glop of pesto on top!


Written by Heather @ Sugar Dish Me

March 20, 2012 at 10:44 am

Caramelly Pineapple, Crunchy Broccoli

with 24 comments

It’s going to be 82 degrees here, today. This is what I was afraid of.

Now don’t get me wrong; I am all about 82 degrees. But in North Carolina, when it’s 82 degrees in March, it will be 94 degrees in May. By July the grass will be scorched off the lawn and my flowers will be laying flat on the ground next to me while I sprawl out in a kiddie pool full of water that used to feel cold but is now bath water warm (a necessary pit stop on the way back from the mailbox so I don’t pass out). I don’t even wanna talk about August.

And when venturing onto the porch feels like standing on the surface of the sun, getting motivated to cook (or eat anything besides a cold garden cucumber followed by a party cup full of homemade ice cream) is the task of all tasks. We’ve had a real warming trend here for the last 4 or 5 days (because hoping for warmth at a Saturday morning soccer game is like hoping to win the lottery) and my kitchen productions have been reflecting the premature early summer. I’m convinced we are skipping over spring.

I love me some pineapple. But not as much as my little guy, Evan, who ate so much he got a tummy ache.

I start this pineapple-broccoli-ricey concoction by browning some bite size seasoned chicken pieces in a little oil. When the chicken is cooked through, I remove it from the pan and throw in some diced onions to soften. While I have this going on I start a pot of water to cook my jasmine rice. When the rice has been added, and is almost done, I load my fresh broccoli on top and cover to slightly steam it. I like my broccoli to keep some CRUNCH.

To my skillet where the onions are soft, I stir in some mushrooms- button, baby bella, shitake- I use whatever the grocery store was eager to be rid of for 99 cents. Then I get out a big ‘ol bowl. In the big bowl I dump the cooked jasmine rice and the nicely steamed broccoli, the cooked chicken pieces, and the oniony mushroom stuff. While my skillet is still hot I toss in the pineapple cuts, just to heat them a bit and give the edges a little of that nice caramelly color. Then they go in the big ‘ol bowl, too.

Stir it up, and you’re DONE. The jasmine rice & pineapple is sweet, the broccoli has my requisite crunch, and the mushrooms are meaty. Leave out the chicken and you have a super fresh fast vegetarian dish. If I leave out the chicken I have a very hard-working hungry man on my hands, so for the sake of avoiding a late night refrigerator raid I try not to do that much.

Pineapple Broccoli Jasmine Rice


3 tablespoons oil

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, seasoned with salt and pepper and cut into bite sized chunks (the chicken is optional)

1 whole pineapple cut into 1-2 inch pieces

2 bunches fresh broccoli florets (about 3 cups), cut into small pieces

1 medium onion, diced

1 1/2 cups chopped mushrooms

1 to 1 1/2 cups uncooked jasmine rice

To Make

Heat the oil in a large skillet. If using the chicken, add it to the hot oil and brown (make sure it’s cooked all the way through- I cut my pieces very small for faster cooking). Remove the chicken and set it aside. Follow the package instructions for cooking the jasmine rice- now is when you want to bring the water to a boil, add the rice, and reduce the heat to a simmer; cover & stir, stir, stir! Add the onions to the still hot skillet and continue cooking until soft. Watch the rice and when it’s close to being done, throw the broccoli on top and re-cover it to steam. Add the mushrooms to the skillet with the onions and cook until they’re tender (the onions will stick to them… yum!). Get out a big serving bowl and dump in the rice and broccoli when it’s done. Add in the chicken and then the onions and mushrooms. Add your pineapple pieces to the hot skillet and cook for a couple of minutes until it’s warm and has a little caramel color. Add to the bowl and stir. Fresh, delicious spring & summer goodness.

If you wanna get fancy serve this in  the pineapple that’s been hollowed out.

Be aware that this makes ALOT. We have leftovers for days, which is fine by me cause it makes an awesome lunch.

Written by Heather @ Sugar Dish Me

March 14, 2012 at 10:39 am

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