Tag Archives: quick and easy

Weeknight recipes

10 Oct

Frequent readers of this blog know I’ve been pretty hardcore about meal planning the last couple of months due to my CSA, my need to save money, and my desire to eat better. Naturally, these efforts necessitate cooking during the week, even when I’m tired and cranky (or, in the case of last night, fighting off some nasty allergies). I’m turning to meals that sound delicious but are not complicated, and so far I’ve had great success this week, so I wanted to share a couple. First off is a variation on my Basic Lentil Soup:

I adapted it for the slow cooker, though, since I still only have one working burner at home.

Slow Cooker Lentil Soup

  • 1 cup brown lentils
  • 1/3 cup barley
  • 3 small-medium carrots, chopped
  • 1/2 container of mushrooms, coarsely chopped
  • 3 scallions, sliced (white and green parts) — you could use a small onion instead
  • 2 to 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Tofurkey Italian Sausage, chopped coarsley
  • 1/2 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper
  • Salt and pepper to taste

The soup epitomizes what I love about the slow cooker: combine everything in your cooker, add eight cups of water, and set to cook. You can put it on low and let it cook all day while you’re at work, or you can set it to high, and it will be done in three or so hours. I did the latter since I was preparing it for lunches on Sunday evening. It makes a very thick soup that is filling but not too heavy.

Serves 6ish.

I love lentil soup because, really, you can add any vegetables you want and season it however you prefer. I went Italian this time, but it could just as easily been curried or made Mexican-style.

For dinner Monday and Tuesday night, we enjoyed a variation on Oh She Glows’ Butternut Squash Mac ‘n Cheeze.

I made the following modifications:

  • Used olive oil instead of Earth Balance.
  • Added two garlic cloves (instead of the powder), two scallions (though I would actually saute regular white onion next time for even more flavor), and a lot of crushed red pepper.
  • Mashed the roasted butternut squash with a fork and didn’t bother with a blender.

Our bowls contained the sauce, whole wheat spaghetti, shiitake mushrooms, the rest (FINALLY!) of the white beans, and kale. I would guess the ratios were:

  • 1 recipe of the sauce
  • 1 bag of spaghetti minus one serving (though I did boil the spaghetti fresh each night since I really hate the texture of leftover whole wheat pasta)
  • Half a container of shiitake mushrooms (button or cremini would work great, too)
  • 1.5 cups cooked cannelini beans
  • 1 bunch of kale, torn into pieces

Made 4 hearty servings.

Since I had roasted the squash on Friday night, the meal came together really fast, especially last night, since all we — Mr. X, rather, since I was feeling sick and, therefore, had regressed to a whiny baby — had to do was boil some pasta and reheat the sauce. I won’t say it truly tasted like a cheese sauce, but the flavor was delicious and very interesting. It also had a great consistency even without blending it.

Tonight we’re having variation #10 billion on X’s Spicy Portobello Chili, and he has demanded I update the recipe with our current favorite combination, so expect that post soon.

Dinner on the fly

12 Jul

Last night, we made another on-the-fly, his-and-her dinner. This time the centerpiece was black bean burgers. I don’t have a formal recipe, but it went something like this:

  • Use your hands to mash and smash one can of rinsed black beans, half a container of chopped mushrooms, enough corn meal (maybe 1/4 cup?) to bring it together, and a few dashes of cumin and cayenne.
  • Form into four patties.
  • Heat a little olive oil in a saute pan over medium.
  • Add patties and cook for five-ish minutes on each side until they are browned.

He ate his two somewhat traditionally, on buns with lettuce, tomato, roasted corn, and barbecue sauce:

I cut one in half and ate it taco-style on two blue corn tortillas with roasted corn and barbecue sauce, plus a salad:

The verdict: good and SO easy. The latter was a necessity, given how tired and hungry I was last night. I saved the fourth patty for today’s lunch, which I will share tomorrow.

I was disappointed in the sauce, though. During my last trip to the grocery store, I grabbed some Stubb’s Spicy Bar-B-Q Sauce because the ingredients were decent (vegetarian and HFCS-free). The flavor, however, was very artificial-tasting. I enjoyed the kick, but I can’t quite put my finger on the ingredient that made it taste so plastic. I would not buy it again.

Anyway, the dinner made me glad I stocked up on cheap organic black beans at Trader Joe’s over the weekend. I had not planned this meal in advance at all, so hurrah for quick thinking.

Tofu Chilaquiles

16 Jun

I have some more tofu lovin’ for you today. Last weekend, we were hungry and broke, so I decided to use some stuff that was on the fact decline in the fridge. The result is essentially another tofu scramble variation but with a fancier title:

Tofu Chilaquiles

  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 container tofu, drained and either quickly pressed or squeezed of excess liquid
  • 1/2 jar of salsa
  • 1/2 cup of black beans
  • 2 tablespoons of nutritional yeast
  • Sprinkle of cumin and chili powder
  • Four handfuls of tortilla chips (stale is great!), or enough to cover the top of the mixture in a single layer
  • Optional garnish: more salsa, hot sauce, avocado, cheese, sour cream, green onions, cilantro

In a skillet, saute the onions over medium-low heat (or medium, if your stove runs cooler) in spray oil, water, or a little olive oil until it softens and starts to brown. Add the garlic, and saute another two or three minutes. Now crumble the tofu into the pan with your hands and stir to mix. Add the salsa, black beans, nooch and spices, stirring to combine well. Crumble your tortilla chips on top and stir to mix. Serve immediately topped with your choice of garnishes.

Serves 3 or 4.

I would absolutely recommend both green onion and cilantro on this dish, but ours died a tragic death in the fridge. If you have corn tortillas but no chips, throw a couple in a warm over for a few minutes to crisp up and then follow the recipe. This recipe is equally great for any meal and it’s ready in minutes. A real winner!

I’m off to update my Recipes page, which I’ve neglected of late. I hope everyone’s Saturday is off to a great start! I have plans that involve the Miracle Mile ArtWalk today and then the Hollywood Fringe Festival tonight — big day. Catch you on the flip side!

Tofu Breakfast Tacos

8 Jun

I have been craving tofu lately, and it all started with an idea to make tofu scrambles for breakfasts last week. That quickly turned into a full-fledged obsession.

Anyway, over the weekend, I saw corn tortillas in the fridge and decided to transform my usual scramble into breakfast tacos. They were so good and incredibly quick, so now I share them with you.

Tofu Breakfast Tacos

  • Spray oil
  • 2 corn tortillas
  • 1 scallion, sliced (and green and white parts divided)
  • 1/4 block of tofu, either pressed or just quickly squeezed of its liquid
  • 2 tablespoons of salsa
  • 1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast
  • Optional for serving: fresh cilantro, more salsa, hot sauce, avocado, or sour cream

Heat a medium saute pan over medium heat with a little spray oil. When ready, add the tortillas and heat just until warm. Set aside.

Now add the white parts of the scallion (with more oil, if desired) and cook until they lightly soften, about 4 minutes. Using your hands, crumble the tofu directly into the pan. Add the salsa and the nutritional yeast and stir the mixture together. Cook until everything is warmed through, about 2 to 3 minutes. Serve in the tortillas topped with the green parts of the scallion and your favorite add-ons.

Serves 1.

You can see that I added a hefty amount of fresh cilantro to mine. There’s also a drizzle of hot sauce. Avocado would have been insanely good here, too.

If you wanted to jazz things up, you could add a clove of minced garlic and 1/4 of a chopped bell pepper to the onion saute, as well as a handful of fresh spinach to the very end of the scrambling. I would probably do those things next time, though this mix was perfectly delicious on its own. Plus, you can’t beat the speed!

Have you had any food cravings lately?

Sweet n’ spicy eats

19 Mar

In my last post, I shared some recent restaurant eats. Today, I want to focus on some homemade stuff. We are trying to get back in the swing of cooking again (again again). Here’s what I’ve been brewing in my kitchen:

X’s Spicy Portobello Chili for the billionth time! Every time I make it, I change something because that’s just how I am. I’ve been working on thickening it up lately, so this batch contained:

  • Olive oil spray instead of regular olive oil
  • 2 large Portobello mushroom caps instead of 5 (shh! don’t tell the mister)
  • Closer to 1 cup of water instead of 3
  • 1 can of chickpeas and 1 can of black beans, our current favorite combo
  • 4 chipotle peppers instead of 2, per his request
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder instead of 3
  • No cumin instead of 1 tablespoon because I’m out and way cheap

But everything else is the same ingredients-wise and preparation-wise. This time, I also used my new Le Creuset Dutch oven for the preparation, and I love how it deliciously caramelizes the onions. Thanks to my work committee who bought it for me as a wedding present!

Our pantry and fridge were pretty bare this weekend, but I still managed to concoct a tasty vegan breakfast Saturday morning:

Breakfast quinoa with a few chocolate chips (maybe 7), 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract, two pinches of brown sugar, hefty sprinkling of cinnamon, and toasted slivered almonds. Perfection!

That same day, I made an easy lunch that we both absolutely loved — and it’s one I can add to the quick and easy tag for the first time in forever! Behold:

Barbecued Mushroom Wraps

  • Olive oil spray (or use water or veggie broth)
  • 1/4 of a large onion, sliced thinly
  • Pinch of salt
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped finely
  • 2 Portobello mushroom caps, washed and chopped (cremini ‘shrooms work, too)
  • 1 cup of prepared barbecue sauce
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced (optional)
  • Hot pepper sauce (to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • Black pepper (to taste)
  • Four whole wheat tortillas

Spray a medium pot or skillet with cooking spray and place over medium heat. Add the onion and salt, cooking until softened. Add the garlic for about a minute. Now add the mushrooms and cook for about two more minutes. Pour in the barbecue sauce, chipotle (if using), hot pepper sauce, chili powder, and black pepper, stirring to combine. Let it do its thing while you heat up the tortillas. I add them one at a time to a dry skillet over low heat, about 20 seconds per side. When they’re pliable, plate ’em and fill with the barbecued mushroom concoction. Enjoy!

Serves two hungry people.

I served ours more like tacos than wraps because, frankly, I suck at the wrapping thing, and I wanted to maximize the amount of filling we could use.

I have been using a Trader Joe’s barbecue sauce recently, but my other favorite cheap-ish, healthy-ish one is Bull’s-Eye Kansas City Style. It’s still kinda high in sugar, but it doesn’t contain any corn syrup or anything else too nasty.

What’s your favorite kind (or style) of barbecue sauce? I’ve always preferred the molasses flavor of KC-style, as long as it isn’t too sweet.

Taco salad

10 Jan

Dinner #1 (to be repeated tonight) this week is taco salad.

Taco salad isn’t sexy or fancy or ground-breaking, but it is delicious and healthful, when prepared lovingly. And if you have cooked beans on hand, it qualifies as a quick and tasty meal suggestion!

Here’s our variation on Taco Salad this week:

  • 1 bag of organic greens (the crunchier, the better, but we used baby romaine this time), squeaky clean and dry
  • 3 cups cooked pinto beans, warmed and tossed with spices (cumin and chili powder) – optional
  • 1 large or 2 small avocados, sliced
  • 1 jar prepared salsa (anything low in sugar, sodium and salt — I’m in love with Trader Joe’s garlic chipotle salsa)
  • 1/2 a bunch green onions, washed and sliced
  • Baked tortilla chips*

Just layer everything in order (or your preference) in a large bowl. Toss and enjoy! Serves 4.

Basic but delicious. In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll note that X topped his salad with low-fat sour cream, but mine remained dairy-free. I made the pinto beans from scratch — actually, Mr. X did! And the kitchen didn’t catch on fire! I’m so proud. I also baked the tortilla chips myself using an incredibly simple method. You just preheat the oven to about 375, cut tortillas (I use whole wheat from Trader Joe’s) into 1/8ths, lightly toss with olive oil and sprinkle with salt (and optional cumin and/or chili powder), and bake for a little under 10 minutes. I like to flip mine after a few minutes, but I think it’s unnecessary. I’m just paranoid of burning the chips, having done so on several occasions in the past.

It was lurve — healthy, spicy, beany love. Mr. X revealed to me this weekend that he loves salads, just not basic lettuce-tomato-dressing ones, so expect more slightly jazzed-up versions in the coming weeks.

On a slightly related subject, I’m aching to try making pizza next week, so I was hoping some of you might have homemade dough recipes to share. I prefer it to contain some whole wheat, and it cannot require a food processor or mixer, as I’m totally technology-less in the kitchen still. I’ll keep Googling, but a tried-and-true recipe from a reader would be great!

Meatless Monday and Sunday Night Scramble: Tacos

28 Nov

Once again, I’m presenting a two-fer tonight.

Vegan MoFo has been fun, but it’s actually made me eat a little worse in an attempt to present interesting eats this month. In an effort to clean things up a bit, I’m going to do a week of eating based on Dr. Joel Fuhrman‘s Eat to Live starting tomorrow. So tonight, I wanted to finish off some not-so-healthy leftovers. The contenders: incredibly greasy (and delicious) fajita vegetables, half a can of black bean chili, and flour tortillas. The solution:

Fajitas! Wait, no, Quick and Easy Vegan Tacos! I mixed the rest of the salsa and some Chipotle Tabasco into them, too.

These could easily be made healthy by using a whole-wheat tortilla (Whole Foods makes my favorite kind), plain black or other beans, and veggies you saute yourself in a small amount of olive oil or vegetable broth. Defrosted frozen vegetables work well, too. There are also lots of fat-free refried beans on the market that are vegetarian, though the sodium count can be high. You can mimic them by lightly blending a can of beans and adding your favorite spices, such as cumin and cayenne. Guacamole would be a tasty addition, and I would have thrown in some nutritional yeast if I’d been thinking straight.

I hope your weekend was fabulous!