Category Archives: Quick Meals

Awesome Mushroom Lo Mein

Chinese food is one of my husband’s favorite cuisines. Come the days leading up to Christmas Eve, it’s all he talks about.  It’s been challenging finding great Chinese food recipes to make at home…until now.  This Lo-Mein recipe is awesome.  The flavors are so good, it was really hard for me to stop noshing on it between finishing making it and serving it.  The recipe called for steak seasoning, but since we don’t cook red meat at home, I splurged on this seasoning by Nom Nom Paleo instead, and it’s definitely worth it.  I opted to use sweet chili sauce instead of chili paste, because all the options at the store had wheat and/or soy in them.  I read that Avocado oil can be subbed for sesame oil because it’s also nutty in flavor – that worked great here!  If you’re craving Chinese food, these noodles are worth a try.  Happy holidays!

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Mushroom Lo Mein

serves 8

adapted from Whitney Bond

INGREDIENTS

Mushrooms

2 8oz. packs mushrooms, cleaned, stems removed and quartered

2 tbsp coconut aminos

2 tbsp rice vinegar (unseasoned)

1 tsp minced ginger (fresh or from jar)

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp avocado oil

1 tsp Magic Mushroom Powder (recipe here or sold at Whole Foods)

Noodles

10 oz. brown rice spaghetti noodles (I like Tinkeyada)

1/4 cup coconut aminos

1/2 tbsp Sriacha

1 tbsp rice vinegar (unseasoned)

1 tbsp honey

2 tbsp sweet chili sauce (I like Thai Kitchen brand)

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp grated ginger (I use jarred by Ginger People)

1 tsp avocado oil

TOPPING – Scallions, thinly sliced

DIRECTIONS

  1. Prepare mushrooms first.  Mix all ingredients for the sauce together in a large bowl.  When well combined, toss quartered mushrooms in sauce.  In a large cast iron or nonstick skillet, add mushrooms and extra sauce to pre-heated pan.  Cook until mushrooms have cooked down in size and majority of the sauce is evaporated.  Remove mushrooms from heat and set aside in a separate bowl.
  2. Prepare noodles according to package.  Cook and drain immediately, rinsing with cold water/according to package instructions.  Return cooked, drained, and rinsed noodles back to the pan.
  3. While noodles are cooking, mix all sauce ingredients together in a bowl.
  4. After noodles are returned to the pan, add in the sauce and toss well.  Add mushrooms, and stir until well combined.  Cook over low heat until warmed throughout.
  5. Enjoy!
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Chili Dog Chili

The last chili recipe is one I found that’s meant for chili cheese dogs, though we don’t eat it with hot dogs (or the cheese).  We double the recipe so it can last a few extra meals, and it’s not only easy to make, but it’s also really good.  I first made it for the last night of the World Series, and have since altered it, to what I think is the perfect meal.  I don’t have any pictures of this one, but I am including a picture of a fun serving idea – over butternut squash “fries” – i.e. crinkle cut butternut squash. It’s also great on a sloppy joe type sandwich for kids (and kids at heart).

BONUS – If you want to check out the cookbook where I found the recipe, the Kindle version of the cookbook is on sale now for less than $5!  It has other great recipes like Grown up Beans on Toast and the Go-To Frittata.IMG_8132

Chili Dog Chili

serves 6-8

adapted from Dude Diet Cookbook

INGREDIENTS

2 lbs ground chicken breast

3 tsp olive oil

2 small onions, chopped small

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 tbsp chili powder

4 tsp paprika

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp kosher salt

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

2 14.5 oz cans of diced tomatoes (I use Muir Glen Fire Roasted with Garlic)

1 15 oz can tomato sauce (I use Muir Glen Organic)

2 small cans mild diced green chiles

2 tsp coconut aminos (or Worcestershire sauce)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Heat oil in a large stockpot.  Add onions and garlic and saute until softened and fragrant, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add spices and stir in until toasted, about 30 seconds – 1 minute.
  3. Add chicken and cook while breaking up into small pieces with a wooden spoon.
  4. Once the chicken is all just cooked, add diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, green chiles and coconut aminos.  Bring to a boil and simmer for about 15 minutes, or longer, until desired thickness is reached.

 

 

Pumpkin Chili (Meatless Monday)

Making easy and nutritious meals everyone will actually eat is an ongoing experiment in our house.  As much as I’d like us all to eat the same thing for dinner, several nights a week I’ve resigned to being a short order cook.  There are few exceptions, chili being one of them. This week, I’m going to post three chili recipes we like the most.  First up, Pumpkin Chili, from the Thug Kitchen cookbook.  Don’t let the name fool you, this meatless chili is full of flavor, and made heartier with the addition of pumpkin puree, without tasting like pumpkin.  It’s super easy to make and topped with avocado and some good chips, it’s a great meal for everyone in the family.

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Thug Kitchen Pumpkin Chili

Pumpkin Chili

serves 4-6 (double the recipe if you want extra to freeze)

adapted from Thug Kitchen

INGREDIENTS

1 yellow onion

1 carrot

1 red, orange or yellow pepper

1 tsp olive oil

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 tsp coconut aminos (soy sauce or tamari also works)

2 tsp chili powder

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp cumin

1 14.5oz can diced tomatoes

1 can pureed pumpkin

2 cups vegetable broth or water

2 cans beans, any kind you like – kidney and black beans work well

1 tbsp lime juice

TOPPINGS – avocado, cilantro, red onion, vegan cheese (we like to make shreds from the Daiya Cheddar block), vegan sour cream (plain unsweetened non-dairy yogurt works well)

DIRECTIONS

  1. Chop up carrot, onion, and pepper to the size of a bean or smaller
  2. In a big pot, heat the oil, and cook vegetables until they begin to soften and brown, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic, coconut aminos, and spices – cook for about 30 seconds.  Add the tomatoes, broth, pumpkin, and beans – stir well so everything is nicely combined and all the flavors are getting to know each other.  Turn down the heat and keep covered for about 15-30 minutes, until it reaches your desired thickness.  The longer it cooks, the better it’ll taste.  (We like it thicker, so I simmer it longer than 15 minutes.)
  3. When done cooking, stir in the lime juice and serve right away. Top with your favorites and enjoy!

NOTE – This makes great leftovers.  After reheating the next day, add some more fresh lime juice and cilantro to make it taste just as good as the first day.

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Wednesday Wishlist

I’m always looking at new cookbooks and in my dream kitchen would have a separate library (and sitting room) for them like Ina Garten.  I recently discovered checking out e-books from the library, and have been looking at several I’d love to add to my permanent collection.  I’m a minimalist when it comes to kitchen appliances, partly because we have a small kitchen, and mainly because the thought of more to clean after meal prep is pretty much the last thing I want to do.  But cookbooks, can never have too many of those.

Danielle Walker’s Against All Grain Celebrations: A Year of Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, and Paleo Recipes for Every Occasion

This cookbook includes grain free and dairy free recipes for a year’s worth of holidays and seasonal celebrations – there are plenty of kid-friendly recipes, holiday sweets, and party foods like sweet and sour meatballs.  It’s kind of hard to not want to make it all!

The Moosewood Cookbook: 40th Anniversary Edition by Mollie Katzen

There’s something about the lack of pictures and handwritten style of the recipes that’s always made this book so appealing and comforting to me.  I recently made the Minestrone Soup and it couldn’t have been easier, and more delicious. The cool thing about the soups is they all were tested with water instead of stock, which makes them even easier to throw together mid-week.  I was first introduced to these cookbooks from a nutritionist I worked with in college.  Moosewood is a vegetarian restaurant that’s been around since 1963 in Ithaca, New York — many of the cookbook recipes are pretty easy to adapt to gluten-free and dairy-free.  SIDENOTE:  If you’re looking for an inspiring follow on Facebook, Mollie Katzen, is a great add!

Kitchen Matters by Pamela Salzman

OK, I own this one, and it’s been the best cookbook I’ve read/used in a long time.  Almost all the recipes have tasted great, and they’re all very easy to put together.  I discovered her through some rabbit hole I was down on Instagram one day, and I’m glad I found her.  My favorite recipes are the Chicken Shawarma, Slow Cooker Burrito Bowl Chicken, and Chocolate Zucchini brownies.  The main reason I’ve never like cooking chicken is because I’m horrible at it…until this cookbook.  The two chicken recipes I’ve tried have resulted in perfectly cooked chicken almost every time.  Many recipes also feature tips to accommodate dietary restrictions.  Her website is awesome too, and every week she writes a Dinner Planner for the week.  Her approach has helped me cut down on our food budget, find recipes our whole family can enjoy, and inspire me to try new ways to be organized about the week.  DREAM = taking one of her LA-based cooking classes.

Feeding a Family: A Real-Life Plan for Making Dinner Work by Sarah Waldman

I found this cookbook while searching library books, and it’s such a cool format – organized by Season, and every recipe includes a way to adapt it for a baby to enjoy as well.  What a great way to make meal prep easier!  We’ve tried the Autumn Meatballs and Butternut Squash Casserole – both were delicious!  I adapted both for gluten free, dairy free – they weren’t perfect when tweaked, but the flavors were incredible; especially, the Butternut Squash Casserole.

Feed the Resistance:  Recipes + Ideas for Getting Involved by Julia Turshen

I love her earlier cookbook Small Victories for its easy recipes and ways to alter them to be even simpler than they start, not to mention most of the dishes include basic ingredients.  I keep seeing this new cookbook of hers pop up in my feeds, and I’m so curious about the recipes and the content – from what I can tell it seems like an all around inspiring win.

Skinnytaste Fast and Slow: Knockout Quick-Fix and Slow Cooker Recipes by Gina Homolka

One of the best cookbooks out there because the recipes are easy and contrary to the title, you don’t have to own a slow cooker to make the recipes.  Within the first few pages, she includes a chart of how to make all slow cooker recipes on the stovetop or with a dutch oven.  We’ve had the Chicken Pumpkin Chili, Taco Chili and Teriyaki Chicken (adapted with Coconut Aminos).  All are really delicious, super easy, and feel like an indulgence without splurging.  Though I’ve yet to own this cookbook, I’ve looked through it at the bookstore and it has beautiful pictures and the format is easy to follow (even includes markings if the recipe adapts to dietary restrictions). I have her first cookbook, and this one is drastically better – the recipes are easier and more appealing.  

Life Update + [Pepperoni] Pizza Pasta

When I first started this blog, it was a way to keep myself accountable after nearing the end of a weight loss journey, I had spent nearly a year and a half on.  I lost weight using Weight Watchers, and by adapting recipes I’d see on blogs and TV, with the Recipe Builder feature on the App, it was a fun way I could still enjoy “regular” food, just in a more healthful manner.  In this process, I discovered I preferred meatless meals to ones with, and it was so fun to explore a whole new world of recipes.  I reached my weight loss goal and shortly after, I became pregnant with my first child.  In the year after he was born, we discovered he has multiple food allergies.  Because I was nursing at the time, this meant my diet also had to be tweaked to accommodate him.  While frustrating at first, over time, years of my own stomach problems labeled as IBS, nearly all went away.  For the sake of my health and our son’s, we adapted to a kitchen free of wheat, dairy, and soy – also including anything made in facilities with these ingredients.  B is now 4 years old and has a new little sister.  As we’re trying to figure out her allergies, I’m back in a similar situation, accommodating my diet to help identify the culprit.  I can now add nuts, eggs, corn, and a few other items to the list of foods my cooking is free of.  B, can eat them, but my current list has set me on a new path, yet again, of finding some great resources to help me eat healthy, while also making meals our whole family can enjoy – what this means is I’m back to eating chicken and turkey, and very occasionally red meat (though I still don’t cook that at home).  We’ve always enjoyed fish (sans shellfish), so nothing has changed there.  I have found some really amazing recipes and chefs who cook pretty close to the way I am eating right now.  The other fun thing is I’m finally finding a way to cut down on our weekly food costs, while still making delicious and nutritious meals. (Ask anyone who needs to be mindful of food allergies, and they’ll tell you just how costly it can be – article).

All of this brings me to one of our new favorite recipes – Pepperoni Pizza Pasta.  I don’t have my own picture of it because we’ve eaten it too fast, the past two times we had this.  It is SO good and very easy to adapt – you can sub your favorite pasta noodles for the squash noodles, and you can leave out the pepperoni and use mushrooms and garlic instead.  What really makes this taste like pizza is the tomato sauce, oregano and nutritional yeast.  It’s also incredibly easy to prep the night before, so the whole meal can go from stove to table in less than 30 minutes.  I keep the spiralized noodles in a large ziplock, airtight in the fridge, and get the mushrooms pre sliced.

Danielle Walker is the author of this recipe, and she herself, has a wonderful blog (and cookbooks) called Against All Grain.  Her recipes are super creative, and you’d hardly know they were grain free and mostly dairy free.  My mom and I have looked through all three of her cookbooks and there’s enough that appeals to both of us.  She even inspired me to purchase a Spiralizer, which I’m LOVING!

Pepperoni Pizza Pasta

serves 3-5

adapted from Danielle Walker’s Against All Grain: Meals Made Simple: Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, and Paleo Recipes to Make Anytime

INGREDIENTS

3-5 yellow squashes, spiralized like noodles (OR your favorite pasta)

2 cloves garlic, minced

12 oz. sliced mushrooms

4 oz. kosher salami or turkey pepperoni, diced

3/4 cup tomato paste

2 tsp dried oregano

1 tbsp nutritional yeast

salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS

If using pepperoni or salami, heat in a large pot (I used a enameled cast iron one like this) until crispy. Remove from pan when crisped.

If making vegetarian, add mushrooms and garlic until mushrooms have reduced and are soft and you can smell the garlic.  If making with pepperoni, do this step after the pepperoni has been removed.

Take squash noodles and add to garlic and mushrooms.  Cook for a few minutes until noodles are softened.  Add tomato paste, oregano, and nutritional yeast.  Heat until all combined  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Cook a few more minutes.

Mix in pepperoni and serve warm.

NOTES: To make Kosher, use Kosher salami; to make vegetarian/vegan, omit pepperoni and use double mushrooms; to make Gluten-free with out squash noodles, use your favorite brown rice noodles – we love the Tinkeyada brand.  If you run out of tomato paste, your favorite tomato sauce also works fine here.

No-Bake Tahini Cherry Bars

These no-bake bars are the perfect treat to hit the spot, when it’s hot outside, you want something sweet,  but also something wholesome.  Prep was really easy, and a child could easily help with the stirring parts.  I added mini chocolate chips on half, to make it more appealing to little ones, because I think it’s going to be hard to convince a toddler to eat a dessert with tahini, if they’ve never tried it before.  These are perfectly sweet, and the hit of salt, is just what they need to make them really good.  Now to think what else I can add in other than dried cherries…

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Ready for the freezer

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No-bake Tahini Cherry Bars

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A great summer sweet & wholesome treat

No-Bake Tahini Cherry Bars

adapted from One Part Plant

makes 8-24 bars depending on how you cut them

INGREDIENTS

2 tbsp coconut oil

1 tsp vanilla extract

3 tbsp pure maple syrup

1/3 cup tahini, stirred well

1 1/4 cups gluten-free rolled oats (not the instant/quick cooking kind)

pinch of sea salt

1/4 cup dried cherries

handful of Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips (optional)

DIRECTIONS

Line a 4×8 loaf pan with parchment paper.

On low heat, melt the coconut oil in a small saucepan.  Once melted, remove from heat immediately and stir in vanilla and syrup.  Stir in the tahini.  Once combined, add oats and salt.  Stir until all the oats are coated.  Stir in the cherries.

Pour mixture into loaf pan and spread evenly.  If desired, sprinkle on chocolate chips, lightly pressing them in with your fingers.

Put in freezer for at least 45 minutes.  Cut and serve immediately. Store any leftovers, covered, in the freezer.

Lentil Cream Cheese Tartines

Over the past few weeks, I’ve seen a lot of my favorite food bloggers mention a cookbook, Pulse Revolution.  Curious, I looked it up on Amazon, and the Kindle version is so affordable (99 cents), I had to check it out.  All of the recipes are vegetarian, with many that include options to adapt for adding meat, if you desire.  I also found that while many of the recipes feature dairy, they are easy enough to adapt with non-dairy versions – like this Lentil Cream Cheese Tartines one.  I used Kite Hill Plain Almond Milk Cream Cheese and the rest was same as suggested.  The cookbook calls this a breakfast recipe, but we enjoyed for dinner.  Honestly, it’s so good, it’d be good any time of day.  I also halved the recipe, because we tend to use less cream cheese than the serving size.  And, for ease of a weeknight dinner, I used canned lentils – and prepared the cream cheese mixture in the morning.FullSizeRender-3

Lentil Cream Cheese Tartines

makes 4-6 toasts

adapted from Pulse Revolution

INGREDIENTS

4 oz. non-dairy cream cheese (I like Kite Hill plain)

1 tbsp chives, chopped

Lemon zest from 1/2 a lemon

1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp cooked lentils (I used pre-cooked canned lentils)

Your favorite gluten-free bread (we like Canyon Bakehouse Rye and Heritage Whole Grain)

Eggs (1 egg per toast)

DIRECTIONS

In a small food processor, blend cream cheese, lentils, chives, and lemon zest.  Season to taste with sea salt and pepper.  Set aside.  You can make in advance and refrigerate.

In a small nonstick fry pan, heat over medium heat.  Add a little bit of oil (about 1/2 tsp per egg).  Crack the egg in the pan and cook until the whites are cooked and the yolk is just starting to get firm.  Cook longer if you want a more well done egg.

While the egg is cooking, toast your bread.  Spread cream cheese mixture on bread and top with fried egg.  Enjoy immediately.

 

Grown-up Beans on Toast

Another great cookbook I’ve been using lately is The Dude Diet.  Along with the great frittata recipe I made awhile ago, we recently made ‘Grown-up Beans on Toast.’  The recipe calls for chicken sausage, but we made without, and it still tastes great – even kid approved!  It’s pretty quick to make – took about 30 minutes start to finish – and, it tastes great as leftovers too.  The author says the recipe makes 2 servings, but I think it can make about 6-10 toasts, depending how much you use to top the bread.  If you eat meat, go ahead and use your favorite chicken sausage.  I’ll list those steps as optional below.  We made ours wheat and dairy-free using gluten-free bread, and Vegan Parmesan shreds.IMG_4052.JPG

Grown-up Beans on Toast

adpated from The Dude Diet

makes about 6-10 toasts

INGREDIENTS

2 tsp. olive oil

2 chicken sausages (sweet or spicy), diced – OPTIONAL

1/2 sweet onion, chopped finely

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 tsp. dried oregano

2 tsp. tomato paste

3/4 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp sea salt

1 15 oz. can cannelini beans (or great white northern beans), rinsed & drained

1 15 oz. can diced or crushed tomatoes

1/4 cup water

Your favorite gluten-free (or traditional) bread, toasted

Chopped parsley, to sprinkle on top

Vegan Parmesan, to sprinkle on top (I like Follow Your Heart, found at Whole Foods)

DIRECTIONS

  1.  In a medium saute pan, heat pan and add olive oil.
  2. [OPTIONAL] Saute diced chicken sausage for about 4-5 minutes, until browned.
  3. Add onion and saute until translucent, just starting to brown.
  4. Add garlic and stir until fragrant.  About 30 seconds.
  5. Add dried oregano, tomato paste, salt, and paprika.  Cook for a few minutes more.
  6. Add drained beans, tomatoes and water.  Heat until boiling.  Then, reduce the heat and cook for another 10 minutes so flavors can combine.  I waited until most of the liquid had evaporated.
  7. Serve warm on toast.  Top with chopped parsley and vegan parmesan.

 

Walnut + Chickpea Tacos w/Lime Aioli

This recipe is about as easy as it gets.  It’s practically no-cook, but you wouldn’t know it when eating the final product.  Scott was impressed with how similar the walnut and chickpea taco “meat” tasted in flavor and texture.  And, for it to be a win in the texture category, is my favorite kind of vegan win.  I don’t eat soy, so other meatless taco “meat” alternatives aren’t an option for us. However, I think once you make this recipe, you’ll hardly miss the other vegan options, or meat ones for that matter.  TBD how this tastes the next day, but I’m guessing it’s just as great as it did tonight.  Taco Tuesday, anyone?

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Chickpea + Walnut Tacos with Lime Aioli

adapted from Pure & Beautiful Vegan Cooking

serves 4-6, makes about 10-12 tacos

INGREDIENTS

1 cup walnuts

1 cup garbanzo beans, drained

2 tbsp coconut aminos (or soy sauce)

1 tbsp cumin (or a little less for a milder flavor)

2 heaping tsp garlic powder

1 tsp chili powder

1/4 cup + 2 tbsp vegan low fat mayo

2 tbsp fresh lime juice

small corn tortillas

grape tomatoes

micro greens or green cabbage

avocado (optional)

DIRECTIONS

  1.  In a small food processor, combine walnuts, garbanzo beans, coconut aminos, cumin, garlic powder, and chili powder.  Pulse until spices are well combined and texture is chunky (though parts may be smooth – that’s OK).  Pour contents into a microwave safe bowl.
  2. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together vegan mayo and lime juice.  Set aside.
  3. Prepare the tortillas and toppings.
  4. Heat the taco “meat” in the microwave for 1 minute
  5. Spoon about 1 -1 1/2 tbsp of taco “meat” onto each tortilla.  Top with toppings you like, and finish each taco with a drizzle of the lime aioli.

“Magical” Applesauce Vinaigrette + Other Good Salad Dressings

My grandma used to say for a good meal, she just needed a good salad and good bread.  When I think about dinner with my grandparents, it always included a salad, and it always included a Mrs. Bernstein’s salad dressing.  But aside from that salad dressing, my favorite dressings were always ones my mom made.  That’s probably why I also love making my own salad dressings. Though, I still have a few favorite store-bought dressings I love, because let’s honest, who has time to always make their own dressings?!

This salad dressing really is “magical.”  I would never think to add cumin to a salad dressing, let alone applesauce or maple syrup, but this is really good.  I omitted the miso because I don’t eat soy.  I don’t know what it’s supposed to taste like with the miso, but the final product how I made it below is great! The only downside to the recipe is it makes just 4 servings, so you’ll need to double the recipe, if you want enough to enjoy throughout the week.  Bon apetit!

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“Magical” Applesauce Vinaigrette

adapted from Plant Powered Families

serves 4 (1 serving = 2 tbsp)

INGREDIENTS 

1/4 cup organic unsweetened applesauce

1/4 rounded tsp sea salt

1/4 tsp cumin

1/8 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp stoneground mustard (or dijon)

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 -1.5 tbsp maple syrup

freshly ground pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS

Place all ingredients in a small food processor and blend together until smooth. Adjust for seasonings.  Add a little more maple syrup for a sweeter dressing OR add a couple teaspoons of water for a thinner dressing.

NOTE – you may need to double batch to make it easier to blend in the blender or food processor.

 

OTHER GOOD SALAD DRESSINGS

(store-bought + vegan/gluten-free/soy-free)

Bragg’s Organic Apple Cider Vinaigrette (I’ve found it at Whole Foods + Ralphs)

Maplegrove Fat-free Balsamic Dressing (I’ve found it at Gelsons, Ralphs, + Walmart)

Follow Your Heart Low Fat Balsamic Dressing (I’ve found it a some Gelsons + some Whole Foods)