Monday, April 29, 2013

Honey Lime Enchilada Casserole

I've recently been on a kick of attempting to re-make some of our old favorite meals.  At the beginning of going "heart healthy" and eating more plant based meals, we thought we'd eat meat only once a week.  Truth be told, I haven't purchased meat in almost 2 years and the only time I eat it is if we're at a friends house and it's in something.

This enchilada recipe was one we said we'd make over and over again even though we'd gone plant-based, but it never happened.  A few weeks ago, I got an itch for that Honey-Lime enchilada sauce and couldn't get it out of my mind.  I just had to figure out how to make the meal plant-based!

So here is what I came up with.  It ended up being a little too spicy for our little guys, but if it weren't for that I think I could easily eat this dish once a week.  Until they're older, I'll be making this for friends when they come over!  I was going to go the traditional route and roll the "stuffing", but it was too wet, so I made it into a casserole.  It worked out perfectly.  You can't taste the tofu at all, and you'll be scraping the plate for one more drop of the sauce.  Believe me, I took a spatula to the baking dish after putting leftovers away, and let me tell ya, I don't think I've seen a cleaner dish enter my sink!

Top these babies with whatever you wish.  I had olives on hand, but avocados or finely chopped lettuce would have been nice.  I served some slightly seasoned brown rice with these along with roasted green beans and a salad.  We were stuffed.

A time note: these are best if the tofu/bean mixture has all day (or even all night!) to sit in the sauce.  It takes all of 5 minutes to prep that part, so I strongly suggest thinking ahead.

Another note: you can combine 3 cups cooked brown rice with the tofu mixture before layering to help soak up all the goodness and have a less "wet" dish.

Don't forget -- Cinco de Mayo is just under a week away!

Honey Lime Enchilada Casserole [almost vegan]
serves 6 hungry men or 8 "regular" servings
  • 1 block firm tofu, drained
  • 2 cans white beans (cannellini, great northern...) rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup lime juice
  • 1 (heavy) TBLS chili powder
  • 3/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 3 10oz cans green enchilada sauce 
  • corn tortillas
  • enchilada toppings of your choice: salsa, lettuce, cheese, olives, guac or avocados 
-- Crumble the tofu into a large bowl until it's small chunks.  Add the beans.
-- In a small bowl, combine the honey, lime juice, chili and garlic powders with 2 cups enchilada sauce.  Stir until honey is dissolved.  Pour sauce over tofu/bean mixture and mix. The best thing to do at this point is let this mixture sit in the fridge until you're ready for it (up to a day!)
-- When you're ready, preheat your oven to 350.  While that's heating up, layer the casserole like this:  Start with the rest of the sauce from the opened can (a scant 1/2 cup) and spread it into a lightly greased 9x13 baking dish.  Next, lay down a layer of corn tortillas (you may have to cut them in half so the flat parts are against the side of the dish).  Next, pour in half the tofu/bean mixture followed by another layer of corn tortillas and the rest of the tofu/bean mixture.  End with a final layer of corn tortillas and an entire can of enchilada sauce (1 1/4 cups).
-- Bake, uncovered, for 30-40 minutes (just enough time to make rice!) until the top begins to brown ever so slightly.  Let sit for 5 minutes before cutting.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Zucchini Bisque

I got this recipe out of the Forks Over Knives cookbook (a great cookbook, by the way!) and tweaked it a little.  Thankfully, I planned to use it as a small side instead of half of a main dish.  It doesn't make a lot, but what it does make is delicious.

Initially, Scot and I were a little taken back by the lemon flavor, but halfway through our small bowl, we both knew we wanted seconds!

The soup is very light and refreshing.  It would be perfect as a small side or a starter soup.  It's elegant and easy to throw together, and perfect for all the zucchini available in gardens in just a few weeks!  Easier still, if you have an immersion blender!

Zucchini Bisque
serves 6 side dishes
  • 1 lg onion, chopped
  • 6 cups chopped zucchini, skins on
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 1/2 t dry thyme
  • 1/4 t nutmeg
  • 2-3 t lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk
  • salt and pepper to taste
-- In a medium sauce pan, heat some oil and saute the onion until translucent.  7-8 minutes.  (Meanwhile, chop your zucchini)
-- Add the zucchini, broth, spices and lemon juice and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer 15-20 minutes until zucchini is completely soft.
-- Puree until smooth using an immersion blender or VERY CAREFULLY transfer to a traditional blender.
-- Add in the milk and stir to combine.
-- Serve with a turn or two of freshly ground black pepper

Monday, April 22, 2013

Chickpea Salad Wrap

This is going to be a family summer favorite.  It was easy to throw together and I can see it gracing many a picnic dinners.  It's so versatile, too.  Eat it in a pita or a wrap, with crackers or naan, or with just a fork.  The flavors mixed in with the chickpeas were all very reminiscent of the tuna salad sandwiches my mother used to make when I was a kid.  They were, hands down, one of my favorite sandwiches she made.  Always a little mayo and mustard with some sweet relish and raisins.  Mmmmm....made with slightly toasted bread, they were perfection.

Seeing as most all the other components were present in this recipe, I decided to add those raisins in.  They aren't pictured because I didn't decide until after we were all seated at the table, but believe me when I tell you they brought the meal from good to great!  I think craisins would work wonderfully, too!

This recipe is adapted from the recipe here, on Oh She Glows.  Angela just has some of the best recipes, doesn't she?

Serve this with some gazpacho and a green salad.

Chickpea Salad Wrap
serves 4-6 (4 cups total)
  • 2 cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained, and slightly mashed in a large bowl
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 3/4 packed cup raisins, craisins, or currents
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red or sweet onion
  • 1/3 cup sweet relish
  • 2-3 TBLS lemon juice (start with 2, taste once salad is done, and add more to liking)
  • 2 tsp dijion mustard
  • 1 tsp dry dill
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • Pitas, whole wheat wraps, naan, crackers...
-- Add celery, raisins, and onion to the large bow with the chickpeas and stir together.
-- In a smaller bowl, combine remaining ingredients and stir to combine.  Stir into the larger bowl and mix until everything is well-coated with the dressing.
-- Eat right then, or (best option!) chill until needed to give the salad time to marinate in all the amazing flavors

Friday, April 19, 2013

Pineapple Black Bean Burrito Filling

I think one of the hardest challenges of eating plant-based is finding main dishes.  That aren't soup, that is.  After 2 years of cooking this way, a "dinner" to me is still a main protein with a starch and a vegetable as a side.  Yes, I'm getting a lot better at adapting, but especially in the cooler months when soup is such a comfort, it's trying at times to find new dishes for us that aren't soup.

For me, soups are just the easiest all-in-all meal to throw together.  I have everything I need in one pot. Add a salad and some bread and there's a full and delicious meal on the table.  I'm sure, if left to myself, I would eat soup every single night.  Thankfully, I have my boys who keep me well-balanced.

When I saw this recipe, I was naturally drawn to it.  It was soup. What's not to like?  In reading the description on the blog, though, I realized I could make this into a burrito filling by just omitting the broth.  Since I'm constantly on the hunt for good and filling main dishes that aren't soup and don't call for meat-look-a-likes or have weird/expensive ingredients, I considered this a find.

We ate this as a burrito filling, but beware, if you don't simmer the mixture until almost all the liquid is gone, you will end up with messy plates.  I realized it would be very easy to serve this over some brown rice.  In that scenario, you wouldn't have to make sure the liquid was simmered off -- in fact, it would be a quicker dinner because you'd really just have to make sure the vegetables were soft enough and the extra liquid would actually be welcome with the rice.

In case you're curious, the pineapple flavor was very subtle.  There was a sweetness to the dish, but I had to tell my husband what he could attribute it to.  All in all, a dish we'll be seeing again, but probably over rice.

No matter how you choose to consume this delicious chili adaptation, just enjoy.  (If you want to enjoy this as a chili or soup, just add broth to desired consistency)

Pineapple Black Bean Burrito Filling
serves 4-6

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped (I used a green one, but a red one would have been really pretty)
  • 1 lb zucchini or yellow squash, diced
  • 4 t minced garlic
  • 2 t mild chili powder
  • 2 t oregano
  • 1 t cumin
  • hot sauce if you want it for a kick (opt)
  • 2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can diced tomatoes with juice
  • 1 cup crushed pineapple, with juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • whole wheat tortillas OR 3 cups brown rice
-- In a large skillet, heat some oil and saute the onion, pepper, zucchini/squash, and garlic 10 minutes until the zucchini/squash has started to soften and the onions are translucent.
-- Add the spices and saute for 2-3 minutes
-- Add the beans, tomatoes, and pineapple and simmer 10 minutes (for burrito filling) until the liquid has all simmered off, or just heat through (if using rice).  
-- Season with salt and pepper!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Oatmeal Cookies [vegan]

A couple weeks ago it was cold.  It was more than just cold, really.  The snow was falling heavily, and if it had been December I'm sure I would have been overjoyed.  Seeing as it's not December, I needed a little something in the afternoon to make the day seem a little more fun than the gray skies looked.

Growing up, I loved afternoons when my mom would have fresh cookies and tea out for my brother and me after school.  While my boys aren't school-aged yet, they do take naps still.  On this particular day I had cookies, hot out of the oven, waiting for them when they woke up.  Is there anything better on a snowy day?

These totally vegan cookies were amazing.  Slightly crispy on the outside and still soft and chewy on the inside.  If I had used chocolate chips, I don't think there would have been as many for the boys.  I will say, though, the next time I make these with raisins, I'll use almond butter for the more muted flavor, but if I use chocolate chips, I'm sticking with peanut butter.  The batter was so good, too!  And since the boys were napping when I made these, I didn't have to share the spoon or the bowl!

Oatmeal Cookies
makes 1 1/2 doz

  • 1/3 cup smooth peanut or almond butter
  • 2 T canola oil
  • 1/3 cup almond or soy milk
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1 t vanilla
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/2-3/4 cup raisins, craisins, or chocolate chips
-- Cream together the nut butter, oil, milk, sugars, and vanilla until very smooth
-- In a smaller bowl, combine dry ingredients.  Slowly stir into bowl with wet ingredients.
-- Stir in raisins or chocolate chips.
-- Drop in spoonfuls onto non-stick mat (silpat) or parchment paper lined cookie sheet
-- Bake for 10 minutes at 400 (until lightly brown)

note: you may want to very slightly flatten. they do spread out a little, but not a whole lot.  to avoid a totally gooey middle, flatten just slightly. 

Saturday, April 13, 2013

4 Weeks of SUMMER Dinner Meal Plans





4 Weeks of SPRING Dinner Meal Plans

4 Weeks of Spring Dinner Meal Plans

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Minestrone Soup with Quinoa

It was a little amazing to me, but I didn't have a classic minestrone soup in my recipe box.  I had seen this recipe in my Clean Eating magazine awhile ago and saved it.  There's also a fairly decent looking recipe in the Forks Over Knives cookbook, but neither of them on their own looked fabulous.  So I meshed them together and came up with this!

After sitting down and eating a bowl-full, I realized I did actually make something similar to this.  The White Bean and Kale soup is extremely similar, but I like this better.  It made more and the flavors melded better, and there weren't any potatoes to deal with.  Oh, and the quinoa.

I loved the quinoa in this soup.  I don't know what it is about it, but it just adds another dimension to any soups it's in -- thickening it and packing a protein punch to boot.

We ate this with some delicious bread and a green salad.

Minestrone Soup with Quinoa
Serves 6-8

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 lg onion, chopped well
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 T minced garlic
  • 7-8 cups broth and water (I used 4 cups broth and 3 cups water, but we like our soups on the thicker side)
  • 1 t each: thyme, oregano, and basil
  • 1/2 cup dry quinoa, rinsed well
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 2 cans white beans (cannellini or great northern), rinsed and drained
  • 1-2 cups frozen spinach or kale (I used 2 and it was almost too much, but it's a great way to get your greens!) OR 3-4 cups chopped, fresh
  • salt and pepper to taste
-- Saute onion, carrots, celery, and garlic about 10 minutes until onions are translucent and vegetables are softening
-- add broth/water, spices, quinoa, and tomatoes.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer 20 minutes until quinoa is done (little "tails" are fully showing)
-- Add beans and spinach and cook an additional 4-5 minutes until greens are wilted/heated and entire soup is heated through
-- Season as desired with salt and pepper

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Sweet Curried Rice Bowl

We are a bowl family.  Put a spoon in front of us with something to scoop up in a bowl, and we're good to go.  This is only one of the reasons this meal was such a hit last week!

Other reasons include the unexpected well-rounded yet bold flavors balanced with the slightly sweet, and the fullness in our tummies once we were done.  We loved that with only adding some roasted broccoli and a side salad, this was a complete meal.  We literally licked our plates clean we enjoyed the flavor so much.  OK, so maybe we just used the broccoli to clean up any excess in the bowls...but had the broccoli not been available, I'm sure we would have resorted to licking!

This was a cinch to put together.  I used my rice cooker and that saved so much time and energy.  I used only 1/2 cup chopped dates and Scot and I both thought it could have used more -- we were hunting for them, but they all seemed to be lost!  Next time I make this, if I don't have dates on hand, I'll sub in raisins as they would go really well and won't make the meal too sweet using a full cup.

Very slightly adapted from this recipe.

Sweet Curried Rice Bowl
serves 6
  • 2 1/2 cups brown rice 
  • 5 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 TBLS sweet curry powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 3/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cup carrots, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped dates OR 3/4 cup raisins
  • 2 cans garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained 
-- Cook the rice with all the spices until rice is tender
-- When rice is close to being done, saute the onion and carrots with a little olive oil until tender (10 minutes)
-- Combine everything in a large bowl and stir.  Serve immediately, or simply reheat when ready.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Creamy Tomato Soup. With options.

A simple tomato soup is a recipe that should be in everyone's recipe box.  When we ate lots more cheese and had grilled cheeses sandwiches weekly, tomato soup was also a weekly occurrence   Since our switch, though, we've been consuming a lot less tomato soup.  In reality, why make a soup that doesn't have a protein component unless it's a side soup?  There are some dishes, though, that just beg for a small bowl of tomato soup.

In steps this recipe.

Originally an Ina Garten recipe, I tweaked it to fit our family.   In fact, I made extra because I wanted to experiment with it.  Thankfully the base recipe was great, so I was able to experiment away!

After doubling the soup (a total risk since it made a ton and I had never made it before!) I reserved half for one experiment   We enjoyed the soup that night as a side to some de.lish. chickpea salad wraps that will be on here later.  With the leftovers, though, we spooned it over some cooked quinoa as an easy lunch.  Can we say fabulous?  We also tried it with cooked barley -- I'm not sure which we liked better!

The other experiment was to try the whole rice&lentils with tomato soup route again.  Thankfully, things turned out this time.  I simply cooked 1 1/2 cups dry brown rice&lentils (3/4 cup each) in 3 cups of broth and added it to the 7 cups of soup.  It thickened it up and with a side of roasted balsamic green beans, it was a complete meal.

Now that you now all the things you can do with this base soup, go and have fun with it!

Creamy Tomato Soup
serves 4-6 (7 cups total)
  • 1 TBLS olive oil
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 1 TBLS minced garlic
  • 1 TBLS dry oregano or basil
  • 1, 28oz can crushed tomatoes, with juice (fire roasted is optional, but recommended)
  • 4 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup almond milk
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • salt to taste
-- Heat oil in a large dutch oven.  Once hot, add onions and saute 15 minutes until golden brown.
-- Add garlic and saute another minute
-- Add tomatoes, broth and pepper.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes.
-- Add milk and continue to simmer 10 minutes until thick
-- Optional: puree with an immersion blender.  

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Sloppy Bobs

This was an "oops" dinner that turned out better than the original plan.

I was going to make these black bean burgers the other night, but when I got to making them, I only had old fashioned oats.  It's been months since I've made these, and while I remember us liking them quite a bit, I didn't remember the breadcrumbs being such a big deal.

It is.  If you want to make the burgers and don't have breadcrumbs, use quick oats.  And maybe even pulse those a little.  If not, you'll end up with a slightly crumbly mess that doesn't mold well into patties.

So I improvised and added a can of Italian diced tomatoes to save the day.  They saved dinner, is what they did!

This new concoction could be used as a burrito filling, or even a thick chip dip.  I kept with the original plan and used our "skinny buns" and renamed the dish "Sloppy Bobs" -- the boys thought it was a lot of fun and the name stuck I guess.  Scot voted these better than the plain black bean burgers and I agreed.  If you want a fabulous black bean burger recipe though, here you go -- they are hands-down my favorite recipe for them I think.

Now for the Sloppy Bobs!  Which, if you're curious, are quicker to put together and healthier than the original recipe.  (And taste amazing.  I should know.  I couldn't stop sampling and still ate a huge portion for dinner!)

Sloppy Bobs
serves 4-6
  • 2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained and smashed in a bowl
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 2 T flax meal
  • 1 T basil
  • 1 T dry cilantro
  • 2 t onion powder
  • 1 t cumin
  • 1/2 t garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 cups corn
  • 1 can Italian diced tomatoes, with juice
-- Mix the oats, flax meal, and spices together.  Add to the beans and mix thoroughly.
-- Add in the corn and tomatoes and stir until combined.
-- Either eat at room temperature or heat in the microwave or in the stove.
-- To serve: pile on a toasted whole wheat bun, or in a whole wheat tortilla