Catching Up Over Couscous

I visited the World Market last week and forgot how fun that store is. I was the classic retail therapy shopper, entering the store needing nothing in particular and leaving with an armful of “must-haves.” One of the items I found was this Israeli couscous:

  
I enjoyed the concept and it was a nice change of pace, veering away from boring rice. Some things to be mindful of, it’s a little plain. Although, at 5mg of sodium, I can’t blame it. To add more flavor, I incorporated mushrooms (shiitake) that were sautéed in oil and garlic, along with sautéed kale and an herbed goat chèvre. You can easily keep this vegan by leaving the chèvre out. 

I would definitely buy this dish again. It made more (in my mind) than 2 servings and by adding greens and other veggies, you can definitely squeeze a few meals out of this tiny box!

  
 

A Simple Stir-Fry with Teryaki Chik’n and Ramen Noodles

 
Tonight, dinner was ready in about 20 minutes. I used 1/2 an onion, one yellow pepper, 1/2 c edamame, garlic, ginger, tamari, Gardein Teryaki Chik’n and two ramen noodle packages. You could use whatever veggies you have on hand. And while the Gardein Teryaki sauce was flavorful, I enjoyed the extra garlic and ginger for a deeper flavor.

If you are a fan of spice, like I am, don’t forget to dress the noodles in Sriracha. 

For a quick rundown on the process, I sauteed the veggies and once they were soft, I added the garlic, ginger and tamari. As this became fragrant, I added the Chik’n and covered until the Chik’n was cooked through. I poured in the sauce packet and added the noodles next. I simmered everything on low heat for about 5 minutes. 

Braised Kale and Carrots with Sprouted Lentils

  

Making this meal was incredibly simple. However, there isn’t a lot of liquid, so if you’re looking for a soup or stew add more liquid and tomato paste to thicken. Feel free to play around with the spices. I used berbere and cumin. You could use herbs de province or even chili for a different twist.

Ingredients 

  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 bunch of kale, de-stemmed and torn into bite sized pieces
  • 1 c dried sprouted lentils, rinsed
  • 2 c water
  • Veg base
  • Berbere
  • Cumin
  • Olive oil
  1. In a cast iron skillet, sauté onion and carrots in olive oil for 5 minutes 
  2. Add spices (I didn’t measure, but would start off with 2 tsp of each and go from there)
  3. Next, add kale, lentils, water and veg base (same as above but start with 1 tsp)
  4. Cover and simmer. Add water as needed. Cook until veggies and lentils are soft

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cookies

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I made these as a thank you to my neighbor who kindly watched my cat while I scooted down to Florida for a few days. I modified a recipe for a chocolate crinkle, omitted the powdered sugar and added some peanut butter chips. The pb chips make it vegetarian (they contain dairy), feel free to use a vegan friendly chip instead.

Ingredients

  • 1 2/3 c flour
  • 1/2 c cocoa
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 c sugar
  • 1/4 c real-deal maple syrup
  • 1/2 c canola oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3-4 Tbls non-dairy milk
  • 1/2 c peanut butter chips
  1. Whisk the dry ingredients together, set aside
  2. Mix the sugar, syrup, oil, vanilla and milk together, really well, and pour into the dry mix
  3. Stir everything together and add the chips
  4. Bake at 350F for 10 minutes

90 Days of Missed Meals

No, I’m not going to post everything I’ve eaten in 90 days, but seriously, where has the time gone? I’ll tell you. I was promoted and began working as a social worker in child protection. In addition to the job, I moved in with my partner; and was training for my first full marathon. Needless to say, dinners were quick and as healthy as I could make them.

Also, you will see one of my biggest deterrents in posting blogs: inadequate photos. Most of these photos are from my iPhone and are pretty shoddy.

To make simple meals, I often prepared things in large amounts. For example, I’d make 2 cups of rice, using some of it for a side or later as fried rice or as a rice salad. I would also cook large batches of veggies to have as snack or to use as fillers for other dishes.

I rely on canned beans…I love the idea of soaking and cooking beans, but I never seem to make the time to actually do this. I also use some pre-made foods such as fake meats (which I use sparingly) and fermented goodies like kimchi, curtido and sauerkraut. One of my favorite meals for lunch is kimchi with avocado.

Dinner: roasted broccoli with sautéed carrots, shallots, and edamame, served with a side of garlic quinoa and kimchi

 

Lunch at my favorite restaurant in St. Cloud, Viet-Tien; the Mock Duck Vermicelli bowl

Lunch at Wise Acre in Minneapolis, fresh greens straight from the garden!

Testing a new sriracha on some fried rice (edamame, carrot, onion, cabbage, rice and teriyaki sauce)

Gardein chick’n tenders with couscous and sautéed cabbage, yellow peppers and mushrooms

Banana pancakes with EarthBalance butter

Quinoa “rice bowl” with spinach, black beans, peppers and avocado

Homemade alfredo served over Target brand chick’n strips, steamed kale, mushrooms and fresh pasta

Trader Joe’s veggie tamale with Spanish rice, black beans and avocado

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Honey Mustard Vinaigrette

There is nothing I love more in this food world than Brussels Sprouts.
To prepare mine, I cut the ends off which normally has a chunk of stem remaining. Then, I slice the sprout in half and remove a layer or two. Now they are ready for a rinse. After rinsing, I coat them with oil, salt and pepper.

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Roast them at 400F until they are tender. Eat them as is, or dress them with a vinaigrette. I love pairing roasted sprouts with a sweet honey mustard. I usually make the dressing by putting spoonful of dijon, with a generous amount of honey, a splash of vinegar, and a healthy amount of olive oil… I know what you are thinking, where are the exact measurements!? I fail here. I will do my best to work on one. But, I will tell you this: every time I attempt to measure something, it is never as good as making it off the cuff.

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Vegan Biscuits and Gravy

Biscuits and gravy must be one of the least photogenic foods out there….

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Case in point. Moving on, it was incredibly simple to make, especially since I used a vegan, ready made biscuit. Do I recommend always doing this? Absolutely not. Ready made vs. homemade, homemade wins hands down every time. However, let’s be real, some of us don’t want to knead out a batch at 9am. We have other things to do, places to be, etc.

For the gravy, I used a package of Trader Joe’s frozen mushrooms. It was all I had on hand, and I wanted the sauce to have some substance. I pulsed the mushrooms in the food processor a few times. Then, in a cast iron skillet, I heated some oil and added the mushrooms. After the mushrooms were cooked, I added 1 Tbls of flour, along with salt, pepper and paprika. I cooked the flour into the mushrooms and slowly whisked in some unflavored almond milk. I let the gravy thicken and removed from the heat. Add a generous portion of gravy to each biscuit. If you’re feeling adventurous, add a tofu scramble or fried egg to the dish.

Ready Made Dinners

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I’m sure most of you can relate, there are some nights where food is the last thing on your mind. While I try and steer clear of frozen meals, sometimes, it’s a must. This meal exceeded my expectations. I found a sweet and spicy ‘chicken’ at Target and paired it with fresh green beans (with a brown butter sauce, topped with toasted almonds) and Trader Joe’s Quinoa Pilaf which had a subtle curry undertone.

We all need meals like this from time to time and I feel these products were great at getting the job done!!

Sweet Curry “Football” Deviled Eggs

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If you follow this blog, you know one of my areas for improvement is presentation. Here is my attempt at a clever and fun presentation for deviled eggs. The laces of the egg football are strips of basil. I recommend using chives, if you have them handy. You could also use spring onion. While the basil pairs nicely with the curry, it quickly looses its bright green color.

For the filling I used yolk, Just Mayo (Chipotle), vegenaise, salt, and Maharaja curry powder. Absolutely delicious!!