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living, decorating, and eating in hattiesburg, mississippi

Archive for June 2013

pan-fried sweet potatoes with jalapeño, red pepper, onion, and mushrooms

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Sunday brunch is the best. It should be decadent; it should be soul-food. But it should also be at least a little good for you, right? This vegan stir-fry is our go-to (and not just for brunch): it’s simple, it requires hardly any seasoning, it makes the kitchen smell amazing, and it’s delicious and hearty.

Pan-fried sweet potatoes with jalapeño, red pepper, onion, and mushrooms
3 sweet potatoes, cubed
1 sweet onion, diced
1 large red pepper, cubed
1 jalapeño, diced, seeds (mostly) removed
1 package mushrooms, chopped
Canola oil
Dash of red wine
Salt, pepper, and hot sauce to taste

Heat 2-3 tablespoons canola oil in a large frying pan. Fry sweet potatoes over medium-low heat, covered, stirring occasionally, until tender. Meanwhile, caramelize the onions in another pan in 2-3 tablespoons of oil with a splash of red wine. When sweet potatoes are ready, transfer them into a bowl with slotted spoon, leaving oil in pan. In that same pan, sauté red pepper and jalapeño until the edges are slightly blackened. When onions are ready, transfer them into the same bowl with a slotted spoon, leaving oil in pan. Sauté mushrooms in that pan until they are browned. When the peppers and mushrooms are done, use the slotted spoon the transfer them to the bowl and toss all ingredients. Season with sea salt, freshly ground pepper, and a dash of hot sauce. Bon appetit!



Written by Ann

June 23, 2013 at 9:17 pm

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roasted brussels sprouts and cauliflower

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In my last post, I declared dishes that require heating or cooking to be the last thing I’d want in summer.  So here’s me taking that back, because who doesn’t love roasted vegetables?  And especially roasted brussels sprouts?  Yes, running the oven at 400 degrees makes an already-hot kitchen hotter, but at least you don’t have to be in there with it.  I declare this dish to be easy and requiring minimal time in the kitchen with the hot oven: summer friendly!

Because I also love cauliflower, I used this recipe.  I knew it was a winner when I saw the ingredients, especially garlic and balsamic vinegar.  And it’s so easy.  And so good.

A note on oil: this recipe calls for olive oil, and I do love olive oil.  But it’s not necessarily safe to heat olive oil.  Many agree that olive oil should not be heated above medium-high on the stove, but others believe it can become carcinogenic with even less heat and eschew heating it at all.  At any rate, to be safe, canola oil would make a fine swap here.  And don’t hate on (real, pure) canola oil.  It’s from mustard seed, and it’s good for you!  (This from my husband, the plant aficionado.)


I paired this with a vegan not-steak, but I think there’s probably not much out there this wouldn’t go with.


What are you eating this summer?

Written by Ann

June 20, 2013 at 10:09 pm

marinated antipasti skewers

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As today’s heat index soared over 100 degrees, I was once again reminded that on days like these I can hardly bear to make or eat anything that involves heating.  Even though it wasn’t quite so hot on Memorial Day weekend, it was still pretty warm, and I chose to make these easy (and cool!) marinated antipasti skewers for a late-afternoon cookout with friends.


The ingredients are simple, and the winning ingredient is the fresh herb(s).  In this particular batch we used oregano, since that’s what we had in the garden, but basil and/or parsley are also lovely.  Go crazy.

Marinated Antipasti Skewers


Red bell pepper, cubed

Mozzarella, cubed

Large black olives, pitted


1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

2-4 cloves garlic, minced

2-4 tablespoons freshly chopped oregano, basil, and/or parsley

1 – 1 1/2 teaspoons red pepper

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Salt to taste

In a large bowl, whisk together marinade ingredients and adjust seasonings.  (We are very liberal with the black pepper.)  Prepare skewer ingredients and toss into the marinade.  Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour or two.  (The longer the chill, the better the flavors marry and absorb.)  When you’re ready to serve, alternate red peppers, mozzarella, and olives on skewers.



P.S.  These skewers + Ellen’s gin-champagne lemonade = a winning combination.

Written by Ann

June 13, 2013 at 6:16 pm

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ellen’s gin-champagne lemonade

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Earlier this spring, a friend brought this delightful and potent drink to a girls’ night, and when I was deciding on a drink for a Memorial Day cookout, Ellen’s gin-champagne lemonade was a no-brainer.  It’s perfect for a hot summer evening, and it’s super-easy to make.  It’s also super-strong: we won’t judge if you dilute yours with ice or water!

Ellen’s Gin-Champagne Lemonade

1/2 cup lemonade concentrate, thawed

1 cup gin

2 2/3 cups champagne

Lemon for garnish

Mix the lemonade concentrate with the gin and chill.  Before serving, mix in champagne.  Garnish with lemon slices.

(The pitcher above is holding a double-batch.)

Written by Ann

June 13, 2013 at 5:46 pm

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review: the thirsty hippo

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It’s no secret that finding good vegetarian fare in Hattiesburg can be tricky. (That’s why I’ve documented my favorites here.) I’m happy to report that the menu at the recently-reopened Thirsty Hippo is quite vegetarian-friendly and delicious. My favorite is the grilled Brie sandwich (with pepper jelly and spinach!) and the three-bean salad in a lemon-herb vinaigrette. I’m quite sure we’ll spend this summer trying to recreate that bean salad, because it’s pretty much the perfect summer food.

Also delicious is the Banh Mi vegan sausage (served either on bread or a bed of spinach).  I’m looking forward to trying the other vegan sausages and burgers on the menu.


They also serve up an interesting take on hummus: this version is made from red beans and served with lots of fresh veggies.


This place is truly vegetarian/vegan-friendly, and I’m delighted it’s back.

Written by Ann

June 6, 2013 at 8:56 pm