Meatless Monday: 5 Recipes on Repeat During Quarantine

One of the benefits of shelter-in-place for those of us who enjoy cooking has been more time to indulge. It has also forced creativity, since we can’t hit up the grocery store whenever, especially for that one odd ingredient. My gracious husband has done all our shopping (so grateful!), which means I’ve written careful lists and also relinquished control.

We’ve had fun with it. Each of the following recipes we made for the first time during quarantine, and have made more than once since—family approved and then some!

5-Minute Hummus
The first time I made this, a delightful friend offered to trade me hummus for sauvignon blanc—easy decision!

The second time I reached out to a Lebanese friend whose hummus was the best I’d ever tasted. She taught me tricks. One: to remove the skins and make the creamiest hummus, you can boil cooked garbanzos (either cooked from dried or canned) with a little bit of baking soda until the skins disintegrate, then give them a good wash before mixing; you can also peel by hand, or toss them roughly in a wire-mesh strainer, but her method is easier.

Secondly, add an excessive amount of lemon juice; since this recipe calls for two cans of garbanzos, she recommends adding juice from four to six lemons. On my own, I discovered that we like way more garlic than called for, at least four to six cloves (my friend advises crushing the garlic before adding to the mixer), and I topped my finished product with lemon-infused olive oil and ground paprika. The recipe makes a lot, perfect to share with a friend.

Bombay Potatoes
I wanted to do something different with potatoes. I found this recipe from The Wanderlust Kitchen and decided to riff with what I had and also make it easier on myself. In the end my potatoes were Indian-spiced, not “Bombay.”

I combined 1 tsp turmeric, 2 tsps dried ground mustard, and 2 tsps curry powder in a large bowl. I cubed all the potatoes, no peeling. I tossed the potatoes with the spices and put them on a roasting pan, lightly sprayed with oil, and roasted them at 450 for 20-25 minutes.

My son, who couldn’t wait for them to cool, declared them “phenomenal.” That first batch was for dinner. I made them again and tossed with a breakfast hash. I’m making them this evening for our at-home Memorial Day BBQ; I will boil cubed potatoes briefly before tossing with spices and my husband will finish them on the grill.

Pad Thai
My eldest son loves pad Thai, but it typically has egg and shrimp in it. Someone recommended this recipe from Minimalist Baker and I realized that, though I rarely stock tamarind paste, we had recently ordered out Indian food which came with several small containers of, you guessed it, tamarind!

My tweaks: I doubled the sauce, subbing less maple syrup than the recipe calls for coconut sugar. Since I was also making Thai spring rolls (next recipe), I wanted to make one sauce that could be used for both + more for serving. I baked the tofu on a lightly sprayed roasting pan at 400 for about 15-20 minutes, and added some extra veggies, shredded carrots and edamame.

The next time I made it I doubled everything. Note to self: keep tamarind in stock.

Thai Spring Rolls
You’re watching more TV than normal, too, right? We caught Alton Brown’s Good Eats episode when he made Thai shrimp spring rolls. Marinated tofu makes for an easy substitution. On his next shopping trip, Guy bought all the ingredients. This made for a fun date night (first try) and family project (second try). It’s also an easy way to get kids to eat veggies!

Before baking tofu for the Pad Thai, I cut off eight thin slices and poured a little sauce over them, marinating while I prepped other ingredients. We didn’t have cilantro and didn’t miss it. The second time we also added some microgreens.

Quarantine Cookies
So far in quarantine, I’ve mostly stayed away from baking except for the occasional quick bread. Sourdough starter seems WAY too much work, I’m lazy that way.

Last week, though… I never thought I’d say this, but I got tired of reading, and I couldn’t stomach one more TV show, and two out of four of us were on evening Zoom meetings. And I’d been eager to try my pal The Creative Resource’s new cookie recipe. Especially because she included vegan adaptations—she loves me so.

Except…quarantine. I didn’t have granola, and definitely not cacao and cashew butter granola, the exact reason she created this cookie recipe, for Kellogg’s no less; she blows my socks off in amazement, landing a food photo shoot for one of the nation’s leading food corporations.

I took stock of our pantry. I had granola bars and stale multigrain cereal. I had a couple of mostly-used-up jars of nut butters in the fridge. I pulsed granola bars and multigrain cereal in the food processor and subbed for the amount of prepared granola. I subbed some nut butter for plant-based butter. Vegan, I subbed flax egg for actual egg (I hadn’t tried this in a cookie recipe before—so glad to know it works!). I added a little canola oil because my dough was too dry, likely due to my nut/plant butter substitution.

Her cookies may be better, but these turned out so dang good. I mean, with granola and cereal, they might even be breakfast fair, we won’t judge (don’t judge: we may have had them for breakfast. More than once).Cover image by Jerzy Górecki from Pixabay

Meatless Monday: IP Tortilla Soup (vegan)

We had a zoom call scheduled for 5 pm on a Sunday evening. I checked the clock and was surprised to see that it was already 4:40 pm. I had hoped to get dinner in the Instant Pot so that it would cook while we enjoyed our call. Could I do it?

This recipe was so simple, and perfect for shelter-in-place because the only fresh ingredients are onion, bell pepper, and garlic; the rest are spices and canned goods. And yes, I locked the lid on the IP just in time to pour a glass of wine before we logged in to zoom.

Spring in California isn’t necessarily what we think of as soup weather. But the Instant Pot takes the heat out of cooking, no standing and stirring a steaming hot pot. And by the time we ate our soup al fresco at our patio table, it was in fact cool enough to enjoy a satisfyingly warm soup.

Among the joys of shelter-in-place has been the opportunity to cook, to play with new recipes and pull out old favorites. Still, I find I need to balance my efforts between days when I want to cook elaborately and others when I wish I didn’t have to cook at all. Sometimes it helps to streamline the process, which the IP does beautifully, in order to maximize time together. And with everyone staying home, not rushing off to each one’s separate evening activities, we once again have time to linger over family meals.

BTW, this recipe can easily be made on a stove top if you don’t have an IP. Just taste and adjust time as you go.

Ingredients
1 medium onion, diced
1 bell pepper, diced (or 3-4 mini bell peppers- I use an assortment of red, orange, and yellow for color)
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp paprika
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
1-2 tsp chili powder (start with 1 and adjust at the end for taste)
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 28oz can crushed tomatoes, undrained
4 c veggie broth (I use Better Than Bouillon)
2 15oz cans kidney beans, drained/rinsed
1 15oz can black beans, drained/rinsed
Tortilla chips, to serve
Cilantro & green onions to garnish
Vegan cheese, to garnish

Directions
Add diced onion to IP and set to saute for 5 minutes. After 3 minutes, add diced peppers and garlic and stir well. Saute 2 more minutes, then stir in spices. Add additional ingredients and stir well to make sure nothing is stuck to the pot. Set to pressure cook on high for 10 minutes. Natural pressure release for 5 minutes and then carefully quick release. If pressed for time, add all ingredients and cook on high pressure for 12 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.

To serve, add tortilla chips to the bottom of each bowl. Pour soup over chips, then top with a few more chips. Garnish with cilantro and green onions. If desired, sprinkle bowls with a little vegan cheese.

More NYC

We crammed so much fun into just a few days that my heart and head are full of NYC…

Since we returned, I’ve been posting pictures and reflections (art, architecture, history, public spaces, etc) over on Instagram. Follow me there for more: @sivricketts.

And meanwhile, settle into fall with a delicious, healthy, and oh-so-easy Cauliflower Soup.

Meatless Monday: Instant Pot Pasta e Fagioli Soup (vegan!)

It cooled off just enough last week to eat soup again. Notice I didn’t say “to cook soup,” because IP cooking means I don’t have to stand and stir a hot pot. It’s one of my favorite things about the IP: I can quickly make yummy veggies and soups that would require more time on the stove top and heat up the house. For this very reason, my husband makes globe artichokes in the IP almost every week; it’s fast and fail-proof!

When we first bought the IP, I left it in the box in the garage for a solid nine months. I’d read enough to expect it to sound like R2D2, and anything with too many buttons makes me nervous. When I finally decided an appliance would not best me, I made my husband watch a YouTube video with me and then together we did the water test to make sure it sealed correctly.

That was so long ago I don’t remember what we actually cooked. It may have been a red lentil curry. Whatever it was, it was easy enough to try again. And again and again…

For this soup, like a lot of my recipes, I started with online inspiration, combing recipes for similarities and differences. I consulted my IP go-to guide, Vegan Under Pressure*, for cooking times (the authority for cooking beans, both dried and canned). And then I experimented. As the weather continues to cool and I will continue to make soups both in the IP and on the stove top, this recipe will be in my regular rotation.

If you don’t have an IP, of course you can make this on the stove top. Everything should be about the same with two exceptions: you’ll need to adjust cooking times; and you can cook the pasta right in the pot.

This soup can also be really flexible. Don’t have cannellini beans? Add another can of kidney beans or more/different diced veggies. Kids not fans of zucchini? Add chopped greens at the end of cooking. (Personally, I peel the zucchini and the kids don’t know it’s there). You can use veggie crumbles instead of sausage, or leave the “meat” products out altogether. I’m all for playing with recipes!

Instant Pot Pasta e Fagioli Soup
Serves 6-8

1 large yellow or white onion, diced
3 Field Roast sausage links, diced (I used 2 Italian & 1 chipotle)
5-6 garlic cloves, minced
6 c low sodium veggie broth (Better Than Bouillon)
3 tsp Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute (or 1 tsp each dried basil, thyme, and oregano)
¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional if using chipotle sausage)
1 15 oz undrained can diced tomatoes (if you use fresh tomatoes, add 1/3-1/2 c additional water/broth)
1 15 oz can tomato sauce (or prepared marinara sauce)
Diced veggies – celery (3 ribs), carrots (3-4 peeled), and zucchini (2 small)
1 14.5 oz can each garbanzo, kidney and cannellini beans, drained & rinsed
1.5 cup ditalini pasta or elbow macaroni cooked separately, 8-10 minutes

On “saute” setting, stir onions and sausage for 5 minutes; add garlic and cook 1-2 minutes longer. Add broth, seasonings, tomatoes and sauce, veggies and beans, and stir to combine.

Lock the lid in place. Cook on high pressure for 10 minutes. Allow the pot to sit for 3-4 minutes and then turn the release valve for a “quick release.”

If pressed for time, dump everything in and cook on high pressure for 12 minutes. Allow the pot to sit for 3-4 minutes and then turn the release valve for a “quick release.”

Stir in pasta and adjust seasonings. Mangia!

 

*As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. But seriously, if you have an IP and you like to cook veggies, this book is so worth the purchase.

Ginger for Breakfast: 3 Recipes Fueling My Mornings

I ❤ ginger! Fan-fave cinnamon is great, but ginger is my jam. It’s peppery-delicious, versatile all day long, and so good for you. Here are three breakfast-inspired ginger-infused recipes I’ve been making on repeat.

Ginger-Lemon Shots
Yes, you can buy ginger shots at Jamba Juice, Whole Foods, even at farmer’s markets (which is where I first discovered them, and I don’t mind supporting a female entrepreneur). But making them at home is easy and much less expensive. I bought a clam shell of organic ginger at Costco and picked lemons from my tree. If you use organic ginger and lemons you don’t even need to peel them. I use a juicer (so old they don’t make it anymore, so I can’t endorse a brand) and start with ginger cut into pieces, then finish with halved lemons. Grating ginger by hand is a pain, so either a juicer or a blender is the way to go; if you use a blender, though, you’ll want to peel the lemons and perhaps also the ginger. I added a little water and the teensiest drizzle of maple syrup, put the concoction in clean spice jars, and stored three days worth in the fridge. Shake it up before sipping.

Chia Pudding
I use almond milk, vanilla, and a slight drizzle of maple syrup, and add a few dashes of ground ginger and turmeric (sub cinnamon, cardamom and cloves for a chai flavor). I put it in a glass jar and shake it up hard, then give it a stir about five minutes later to break up any clumps. So easy I can prep it just before bed while I’m setting the coffee maker, and I won’t even have to think about breakfast in the morning. Sometimes I add fruit, other times I just dig in. BTW, 1/4 c of chia + 1 c of non-dairy milk makes two breakfast servings, so put it in two individual jars or one larger container. Or make a big batch and eat throughout the week.

Granola
The ginger shots and chia pudding are mine all mine, but the whole fam chows down on this recipe for breakfast, lunch, and snack. The kids can hardly wait until it’s cooled. I make it a little different each time, changing up the nuts, adding or not adding dried fruit. The always-adds are equal amounts of ground ginger and cinnamon and unsweetened coconut flakes. The family likes to eat it by the handful (it’s great for lunch boxes, too); I like it with some fresh fruit and a little almond milk.

Bon Apetit!

 

Cover image by Ajale from Pixabay

Meatless Monday – Berry Muffins

Once a month I teach the preschool Sunday school class. Yesterday’s lesson was about being fearfully and wonderfully made in God’s image, which means we are smart, and helpful, and creative (among other things).

We focused on the “creative” part and gave the kids lots of time to paint with watercolors, or color, or make paper airplanes. Some kids chose to create with play dough, while others created tree houses from blocks or created scenarios to act out with toy cars. We let the kids have a lot of free play while we noticed aloud their various creative efforts and how great it is that God made us all creative and unique.

I came home floating on cute kids’ creativity and decided I needed to express some creativity of my own. One of my favorite forms of creativity? Making delicious food for the people I love. Just the evening previous, I had come across a recipe for berry muffins that I knew I could vegan-ize, and I had some over-ripe bananas practically begging to become banana bread.

Muffins are a family fav because they make a quick breakfast, an easy lunch bag option, or a tasty after school snack. I’d wrongly anticipated this batch of 18 muffins would last most of the week, but today was a no-school day and the kids plowed through them with only a few leftover. Good thing they haven’t yet discovered the banana bread!

Berry Muffins

1 1/2 c white whole wheat flour
1/2 c whole wheat flour
1/4 c organic sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 flax egg (1 Tbsp flaxmeal + 3 Tbsp water, set aside 5 min)
1 c non-dairy milk
2 Tbsp agave
1/2 c unsweetened applesauce
1 c fresh or frozen berries
cinnamon sugar, optional

Preheat over to 350. Grease or line with paper 18 muffins cups. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Combine flax egg, milk, agave, and applesauce in a small bowl. Add wet ingredients to dry and stir until just combined. Gently stir in berries. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full with batter. If desired, lightly sprinkle cinnamon sugar on each muffin before baking (the recipe itself isn’t very sweet). Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Cool on wire rack.

Meatless Monday: Plant-Based Challenge Wk3

When you come to appreciate the wisdom of planning ahead because a) you get sick and b) you hadn’t planned adequately enough…

I enjoy meal planning and prepping on Sundays. But last Sunday would be followed by a day-off Monday, so less need. Plus, I felt slightly under the weather, so napping took priority.

Hence the week began with easy food: pasta with marinara (I didn’t roast, just sauteed All the Veggies, added a jar of ready-made sauce + spinach until wilted, then pureed) and bean dip that we folded into whole wheat tortillas with shredded lettuce, tomatoes, and more salsa for burritos. Oh, and yummy pumpkin smoothies for breakfast, sweetened with soaked dates rather than molasses.

By Wednesday, the bug had fully infested my system and I ended up in Urgent Care – bleh. And this is when I recognized how wise it would be to stock the freezer with yummy leftovers for just such a time… I needed to take meds with food, so toast with nut butter saw me through. One afternoon I warmed some veggie broth, added brown rice from the fridge and frozen peas, and seasoned with a little low-sodium soy sauce & a squeeze of fresh lime juice, my quicker-than-quick version of ramen.

Thankfully, the drugs are working and yesterday I got back at the meal prep. I bought a 2-lb. bag of cubed butternut squash (I know, bad for the environment, but grace…), bigger than I needed for the farro-kale soup I’d been craving. I roasted it all anyway (no oil, just Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute).

Once I’d made the farro-kale soup, I used the remaining squash to make my first-ever attempt at butternut squash soup:

2 c butternut squash, cubed
1/2 large yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 large carrot, diced
1/2 large russet potato, diced
4 c veggie broth
Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute, to taste
1 tsp dried thyme
other spices, to taste
toasted pumpkin seeds or fresh herbs, optional

Add squash to a roasting pan and sprinkle with 21 Seasoning Salute. Roast for 25-30 minutes at 400. Remove from heat.

In a large stock pot, saute onion for 3 minutes; add garlic, carrot, and potato and continue sauteing for 2-3 more minutes. Add veggie broth as needed to keep veggies from sticking and to deglaze the pan. Add squash, veggie broth, and thyme. Simmer for 10 minutes. Test potatoes and continue cooking as needed until potatoes are easily pricked with a fork. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Use an immersion blender to puree. Taste and adjust seasonings. I don’t like my squash to be too sweet, so I added a sprinkle of red pepper and curry powder; if you like sweet, try nutmeg. Top with toasted pumpkin seeds or chopped fresh herbs as desired.

My soup wasn’t the gorgeous orange color I expect with butternut squash soup, but I attribute that to the roasted and sauteed veggies. Still, it tasted so cozy-comforting. And now I have two different healthy soups to see me through until we go veggie-crazy on our meatless Thanksgiving Day feast. Yum-O!