Vegetarian California BLTs

Today I’m sharing with you one of my favorite summer sandwiches!

I’m sure you have seen a similar sandwich elsewhere, and I know this probably isn’t an original creation, but oh well!

We call this a “California” BLT because my husband and I “invented” this sandwich while we lived in California.  See what we did there?  Interesting fact.

Here are the basic ingredients.  You can of course use whatever bacon you prefer, whether it’s full strength, turkey, or veggie.  These veggie Morningstar Farms ones are classic and yummy!


First up, make some guacamole.  My quick way is to mash avocado with a fresh salsa.  You get the onion, cilantro, garlic and acidity all in one with the salsa.  If you need a quick guac, that’s my top tip! 20140609-200210-72130948.jpg

Next, build the sandwich!  Toast the bread.  Add a layer of guacamole.  Then add the sprouts, bacon, and cucumber.  Top with your other slice of bread.


And done! Yum-o!!20140609-200225-72145142.jpg20140609-200241-72161681.jpg

We had some roasted potatoes.  Quite a satisfying meal!20140609-200254-72174553.jpg 20140609-200255-72175403.jpgMommy Tip: For those that do Baby Led Weaning, you can easily break this sandwich up into baby friendly parts.  My daughter is obsessed with avocado, and would probably eat the guacamole or certainly just the avocado.  The bread can be cut up into strips.  Even the cucumber for the littles with a few teeth would be tasty!

Anyway, here’s a “proper” recipe:

California BLT Sandwich

Avocado (2)
Fresh Salsa (approx 4 TB)
Bacon – your choice – 3 strips per sandwich
Any other sandwich toppings you prefer!

1. Toast sandwich bread

2. Cook the bacon according to package instructions.

3. Make your guacamole – for my quick version, halve the avocado, remove the pit, and scoop the avocado flesh into a bowl.  Add to the avocado 2-3 TB of salsa.  Mash.  If the avocado needs a bit more salsa to help mash (if they are barely ripe and little firm), add.

4. Build your sandwich!  In our house, the order is: Bread, Avocado, Sprouts, Bacon, Cucumber, Bread.


Easy Vegetarian Meatballs | Cup of Tea Recipe


Folks, it’s recipe time!  Allow me to show you how to cook my favorite vegetarian meatballs! The original recipe is from my Mother-In-Law, but I’ve tweaked this a bit each time I prepare them.

I’ve had this post in the works for MONTHS!  Literally months.  I took most of the pictures in February.  All that was missing was a finished product pic.  How sad is that?  You could have made these meatballs many times over if it weren’t for my laziness.

Sorry about that.

So, as the title suggests, these meatballs are really easy!  Everything gets mixed up in the food processor.  And the ingredients are pretty easy to gather, so if you’re making one batch, you might as well make several at a time!

These also freeze really well.  So I’ll make multiple batches at once, form them into the balls, then place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet to stick in my freezer.  Once they’ve hardened (about 3 hours), place them in a gallon sized freezer storage bag and you have a tasty, yummy meal just waiting in the wings!

This is also one of my go-to potluck, fancy dinner, or holiday meal options.  I’ve even had meat lovers try these and like them (and ask for the recipe… which I think is a good sign, right?).

So I’ll quickly go through the steps and show you the pics (if you’re visual), and then the official recipe is down below, for easy printing (so you don’t print 18 pages).

The meatball ingredients are pretty simple.  The “meat” comes from the Morningstar Farms Grillers Original (Original is key here… not the crumbles, and definitely not the Grillers Prime patties).  You can find these burgers everywhere.  You’ll also need an onion, cheddar cheese, some dried thyme, walnuts, and 4 eggs (or egg beaters – I’ve used both!).


Toss the hard ingredients in first (walnuts and onions) into your food processor and pulse to break them up.20140527-094425-35065854.jpg

Then add your Griller patties (thawed in the microwave), cheese and thyme.  Combine it all together until it’s the same consistency.  Then add your eggs.  Blend for about 10 seconds, until it all comes together.

Then scoop it out of the food processor and put the meatball mix into a separate bowl.  Stir in either 1 cup of ground up soda crackers OR, my personal favorite, ground up rolled oats oatmeal (because I always have that on hand.  Who has soda crackers on hand??).  You might want to add 3/4 cup of the oatmeal or cracker first, stir the mix, then check for consistency, to make sure the mix isn’t too dry.  I usually, though, end up adding the full cup.20140527-094426-35066258.jpg

Form into balls of meat, and place on a greased 9×13 casserole pan (or parchment-lined baking sheet if you plan on freezing).  Then pop them into a 350 F oven for 30 minutes.20140527-094426-35066634.jpg

While the meatballs bake, you can make the sauce. The sauce for these bad boys is half a bottle of BBQ sauce (for THIS recipe, I prefer the Kraft Original) and one 12-15 oz jar of Apricot Preserves (I’ve used full strength and sugar free before… don’t really notice a difference).  Combine them together.  20140527-094427-35067423.jpg

After 30 minutes of baking, pull the meatballs out, pour the sauce over them, and pop it all back in the oven for a final 15ish minutes (until the sauce starts bubbling).20140527-094427-35067906.jpg

Yum!  They are so delicious.  Our perfect comfort food!  (Look at this fancy picture.  I remember asking my husband “Should I add parsley?  Would that look good?”.  I instead ended up with a bad Italian restaurant menu picture… sigh.  I’m not a food blogger, ok??)20140527-094424-35064882.jpg

Ok, official recipe time!

Easy Vegetarian Meatballs

From the Cup of Tea blog

These freeze really well.  Make the meatballs up to step 5.  Roll the meatballs and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and place in the freezer.  Let freeze and harden for about 3 hours, then place the meatballs in a gallon sized freezer storage bag.  If you’re making multiple batches, make one batch at a time.  The meat ball mix, for whatever reason, can’t double well.

Makes approx. 30 meatballs, depending on how big you make them.

1 package (4 patties) Morningstar Farms Grillers Original, thawed in the microwave
1 medium yellow onion, quartered
1 cup grated cheddar cheese (sharp or mild, doesn’t matter)
1 cup finely ground rolled oats (like Quaker) or soda crackers
1/2 cup walnuts
1/2 tsp sage
4 eggs or 1 cup Egg Beaters

For Sauce:
1/2 bottle barbeque sauce (I use Kraft Original, since it’s a little sweeter)
1 12 oz jar apricot preserves

Preheat oven to 350 F.

1. Place 2 cups rolled oats or soda crackers into a food processor.  Pulse until finely ground.  This should yield you about 1 cup of finely ground, plus a little extra.  Grind up more for another use.

2. Put the quartered onion and walnuts in the food processor.  Pulse to break up into smaller chunks.  It doesn’t have to be a smooth mix yet. You just want to break up the harder ingredients before adding the rest.

3. Next, add to the onion mix the Griller patties (broken into quarters), cheese and thyme.  Pulse until combined.

4. Add your eggs (or stream in the Egg Beaters) to the mix in the food processor and pulse to combine, until smooth.

5. Spoon your meatball mixture into a mixing bowl. Stir into the mix about 3/4 cup of your finely ground oatmeal or soda cracker. Try rolling the mix into a meatball.  If it’s too wet and not sticking together, add the remaining 1/4 cup of the oatmeal or soda cracker.  I usually end up using the full 1 cup.

6. Form into meat balls (whatever size you’d like!).  Place rolled meatballs on to a 9×13 baking dish, prepped with non-stick spray.  If freezing, place on a parchment-lined baking sheet instead.

7. Bake in the oven, at 350 F, for about 30 minutes.  The meatballs will warm through and get a nice crunchy exterior.  (You could pan fry the meatballs instead at this point.  I just prefer baking them.)

8. While the meatballs are baking, you can make the sauce.  Combine together the barbecue sauce and the apricot preserves.  You could microwave the mix for 10 seconds to make it easier to stir and pour.

9. After baking for 30 minutes, remove the meatballs from the oven and pour the sauce over them.  Return the meatballs back to the oven for an additional 15 minutes, or until the sauce starts to bubble.

Serve the meatballs with rice pilaf, or mashed potatoes (why not??), or any other tasty side you prefer.


20140527-094423-35063037.jpgLinking up at Good Tips Tuesday!


Cup of Tea Recipe | Tomato Pesto


Oh man, I love this pesto.  It screams summer at me!  I’m not a huge fan of the traditional pesto because this one has ruined me.

Do you see these ingredients?  That’s all you need to make the yummiest dinner!  And, with summer produce coming, it’s even MORE tasty with in season tomatoes and basil.20140521-235946-86386193.jpg

I love a dinner that can be whipped up in about 5 minutes.  And it’s all done in the food processor!20140521-235947-86387040.jpg


You can actually make this pesto faster than it takes to cook your pasta!


Yum!  Want to make it?  This really easy recipe is below!


Tomato Pesto
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

1/4 c Walnuts
12 oz Grape or Cherry Tomatoes
2 Garlic Cloves (or more if you’re a garlic fan!)
1 tsp Red Pepper Flakes (optional)
1/3 c Olive Oil
1/2 c fresh Basil Leaves, julienned
1/2 c shredded Parmesan Cheese

Put the first four ingredients in the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse until blended (15-20 pulses).

Slowly stream 1/4 c of the Olive Oil while the food processor is in the On position.  Shut off the processor and check/taste the pesto.  The pesto should be a creamy consistency, but you should not see the oil pooling.  If you think it needs more oil, turn the food processor back on and add the rest of the oil.

Spoon the pesto into a serving bowl.  Stir in the basil and parmesan cheese.  Serve over top of favorite pasta (I like penne with this).

If you choose to make this ahead of time, don’t add the basil and parmesan cheese.  Wait to add those until serving.  Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

Leftovers are delicious as a sandwich or panini spread.


Cup of Tea Recipe | Tex Mex Black Bean Quinoa Casserole


Oh man, this was an easy recipe!!  I found it while cruising on Pinterest, and adapted it a smidgen for us.

We ate this as our main entree, but this could easily pass as a side dish if you’re having a Tex Mex themed dinner.  I wish I had made this recipe for the Mexican birthday bash we had for my husband.  It would have been perfect.

I followed the original recipe pretty close, with a few exceptions:

1. I subbed 1 cup of salsa for 1 of 3 cups of water to cook the quinoa for more flavor (ratio of quinoa is 1.5 cup quinoa and 3 cups liquid)
2. I used Olive Oil instead of Coconut Oil
3. Next time I plan to use 1/4 cup diced red onion instead of 1/4 cup green onion (but still used the 1/4 cup green onion for garnish)

Check out the original recipe at for more precise instructions.  I’ll give you the shortcut version!

The specific ingredients you’ll need are:

1 1/2 cup quinoa, dry
2 T oil (I used Olive Oil, original recipe suggests coconut oil)
12 oz can corn, drained (could use frozen if you’d like)
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 medium bell peppers, diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced
1 T cumin
15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
3/4 cup plus 1/4 cup (for garnish) cilantro, chopped
1/4 cup plus 1/4 cup (for garnish) green onion, chopped
1 1/2 cup plus 1/2 cup shredded cheese, either Mexican blend or Cheddar
3/4 cup coconut milk
1/4 tsp salt

Yes, coconut milk! I thought that was nuts, but it actually tastes good.  The dish still tastes spicy/Tex Mex and not too sweet.20140513-094334.jpgCook your quinoa according to package instructions (ratio is 1.5 cups quinoa to 3 cups liquid.  I used 1 cup salsa and 2 cups water).  Undercook the quinoa by a few minutes.  The quinoa will finish cooking in the oven.  While the quinoa is bubbling, you’ll want to sauté all the veggies together (bell pepper, garlic, jalapeño, corn & cumin) in a skillet over medium heat.20140513-094430.jpgOnce your quinoa cooks, put it in a bowl with the black beans and green onions.  Then when your veggies are sautéed, you’ll add them to the quinoa mix, along with the cheese, cilantro, coconut milk and salt.  Then stir it up!20140513-094443.jpgPop the mix into a prepared (sprayed with non-stick spray) 8×11 casserole dish, and then top with the 1/2 cup extra cheese.  This goes in a 350 F oven for about 30-40 minutes, uncovered.20140513-094457.jpgYummo!  Finished product!  We served our quinoa with some avocado, and then I sautéed some kale and carrots together for an easy side dish.20140513-094510.jpgThis kept well in the refrigerator post dinner.  The next morning, I used leftovers with a few eggs to make some breakfast quesadillas.  Really yummy!  This is a satisfying vegetarian main dish OR a great side dish.

Hope you try it out!  If you do, and you make other revisions, let me know.  I’d love to hear it!  Don’t forget to check out the original recipe at to get the more precise directions.