New Recipe: Chipotle Black Bean Enchilada Casserole

This is a super easy, yummy recipe. My kids love it because it’s cheesy, and vegetarian (important for my big kid). I’m making a big batch for dinner this week, with plenty of leftovers!

It freezes well so you can make a bigger batch and have some for later.

Chipotle Black Bean Enchilada Casserole

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag MorningStar Farms® Chipotle Black Bean Crumbles (12 oz)
  • 3 cups cheese, divided (I use Mexican blend)
  • 1 large (28 oz) enchilada sauce (I like green)
  • 16-19 corn tortillas, torn into bite-size pieces
  • 1 bag (12 oz-ish) fajita blend (that’s onions and peppers)
  • spray release

Directions:

  1. Spray a 9×11 baking dish with spray release.
  2. Layer torn tortillas, black bean crumbles, fajitas blend, tortillas, sauce, and cheese.
  3. Layer until pan is filled, top with cheese.
  4. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes until bubbly.
  5. Remove foil and continue to bake for 10-15 minutes until the top is brown and bubbly.

Serve with sour cream, salsa, and diced black olives (optional, but a family favorite). I serve with a Mexican Caesar Salad, or Cilantro Lime Rice-a-Roni.

To make this dish vegan, use vegan cheese.

Mexican Cesar Salad

Ingredients:

  • 6-8 cups of your favorite lettuce/lettuce blend (romaine and bibb is great!)
  • 2 tomatoes cubed/sliced
  • ½ cup purple onion, cut into rings
  • 1 small can corn, drained and rinsed
  • ¼ c ranch dressing
  • ½ c your favorite salsa

Directions:

  1. Combine the salsa and ranch together, chill in fridge 6-8 hours before servings. This allows the flavors to blend.
  2. Toss the veggies in a chilled salad bowl with the dressing.
  3. Top with ¼ c crushed corn chips/tortilla chips for some added crunch!

Serve topped with grilled chicken breasts for an entree or without meat as a side dish.  Serves 3 as an entree, serves 6 as a side dish.

 

Roasting Veggies: Simple and Tasty!

Over the past six months, I’ve been trying to get us to eat more veggies. But honestly, you can only eat so much mixed green salads and steamed broccoli. My prior attempts at oven roasted veggies were basically a hot pile of steamed veggies that lacked any of the qualities of oven roasted veggies I knew- none of them were sweet, with crispy edges, tender but not soggy. Thankfully with our CSA box coming straight to our door weekly, were getting tons of tasty new veg to try!

I did some reading in a few cookbooks, websites, and asked some of my friends who are chefs/professional cooks. The secret to perfect oven roasted veg? Space. Room. The veggies need space for the heat of the oven to circulate and heat them evenly.

Second tip: place the pans in the oven and allow them to pre-heat. Once the oven has pre-heated, pull your pan(s) out and place your veggies on the pans, then back in the oven.

Third tip: Half way through roasting, turn over/flip your veggies to ensure they are getting equal roasting time in that hot pan. I say pan, but I use a baking sheet lined in foil, like this one.

It’s all about high temp and short cooking time- 450 degrees! Your veggies will be done in less than 45 minutes and you’ll be feasting away! And anyone can make roasted veggies- as long as you have the following:

  • Cooking pans (like these)
  • Aluminum Foil (I like it because it makes clean up easy)
  • 1-2 lbs of your favorite vegetables, chopped up into evenly sized pieces (the secret to having them come out perfect)
  • 3 Tablespoons oil (I like canola, avocado, or grapeseed)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon (or more, depending on how seasoned you like your veg) fresh cracked pepper

With the CSA boxes we’ve been receiving weekly, making roasted veggies is a snap. Here are cooking times for a few in season veggies. These times presuppose that you have cleaned/peeled as needed, and cut them into 1-inch pieces as needed. Cooking time is for 1 lb.

  • Beets: 20-25 minutes
  • Carrots: 20-25 minutes
  • Brussels Sprouts (Cut off the bottom, and cut in half): 15-20 minutes
  • Onions (I usually quarter and slice them): 15-20 minutes
  • Garlic (peel each clove- if they are large, cut in half) 15-20 minutes
  • Green Beans: 15-20 minutes
  • Potatoes/sweet potatoes: 20-30 minutes
  • Zucchini/summer squash: 15-20 minutes
  • Bell Peppers: 15-20 minutes
  • Asparagus: 10-15 minutes
Brussels Sprouts and Purple Onions

If you’ve got something that isn’t on this list that you want to roast, I suggest starting with 10 minutes at 450 degrees, then flip the veggies over and see how they are doing. If they are brown and caramelized on one side, give it another 10 minutes for the other side to cook, then test for doneness with a fork. If they need longer, give them another 5 minutes and test again.

Recipe: Butternut Squash Bisque (GF, Vegan)

This recipe is super simple, and I’ve included some steps to shave off more time to get the soup in your belly faster!

Butternut Squash Bisque

Ingredients

  • 1 T. Avocado Oil
  • 1/2 Large onion, diced
  • 3 cups butternut squash, peeled and cubed (You can save time by buying it in the frozen foods section)
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1 Quart Vegetable Stock
  • 2 cups Hazelnut Milk
  • 1t. Rubbed Sage
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. In a large stockpot, heat oil. Add onions, and cook for 5-10 minutes, until clear and fragrant.
  2. Add squash and carrot. Cook approx 10 minutes until softened.
  3. Add vegetable stock, and simmer until veggies are tender/soft.
  4. Remove from heat, add hazelnut milk.
  5. Blend soup with a stick blender until smooth.
  6. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve this luscious, velvety soup with hot, crusty bread and a crisp green salad.  It freezes well, in case of leftovers.

New Recipe: Baked Tortellini

00169 (1).jpgThis recipe is dead simple. Make it as complicated as you want. Use jarred sauce, make your own from scratch, or take a jar of sauce and church it up yourself. Whatever.

Frozen pasta, fresh pasta, heck, you can even use the shell stable/dried tortellini. You could use ravioli if you wanted.

You can make this Vegetarian, Vegan, Chock Full o’ Meat, Gluten-Free, it’s up to you.

This is one of those recipes that’s a big hit at potlucks too. It’s pretty inexpensive, and we always have the ingredients in one form or another to make a batch.

Baked Tortellini

Ingredients:

  • 6-8 cups of Red Pasta Sauce.  I usually make a big batch of this sauce and portion some out just for this recipe. If you use jarred sauce, I recommend  you add 3-4 cups of veggies (carrots, onions, celery, bell peppers, zucchini, chopped/diced tomatoes, etc.)
  • 22-30 ounces of Tortellini/Ravioli, cooked per the package directions (this will probably take a couple packages)
  • 2 Cups Italian Cheese blend

Directions:

  1. Cook the pasta per the package directions. Drain.
  2. Pour pasta sauce into a baking dish (I use a 9×13), toss cooked pasta in sauce.
  3. Sprinkle cheese on top.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-ish minutes until food is bubbly, and cheese is brown and delicious looking.
  5. Serve with hot French Bread or Garlic Bread and a green salad.

This serves 8-10 people as a main.

 

If you are vegan, substitute in filled pasta and cheese that works for you.

5/10/2020 Weekly Meal Plan!

0a5e9dab796cea8a07eabe4eb4795b9e.jpgI’ve started doing weekly meal planning on Sundays. It’s easier to do it while I’m writing up the kids at home learning schedules, and prepping the snack box for the week.

I’ve been buying snacks in bulk and only putting weeks worth out in the snack box. It keeps us out of the stores, and its healthier.

And I’ve been trying to visit the store once a week or less. I stocked up yesterday on stuff the kids love (and eat a lot of), so we should be good for the week.

For those of you that are new to meal planning, I’ve got an easy 101 style post here with super easy tips and steps. After you get that down, here is info about batch or freezer cooking.

I’ve gotten a pretty good inventory of the pantry, freezer, and fridge done (I update it after every shopping trip), so I’m able to plan meals and use up what we’ve got with little waste. If you are looking for kitchen inventory printable, I like the kitchen inventories here. They are great printables.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day: Right now our local school district is serving lunch for a drive-through service for kids 18 and under M-F. It’s great because it helps stretch our budget and it gets the kids out of the house for a few minutes. They also include a cold lunch (usually cereal and milk and a piece of fruit) for the next morning. Often times, the cereal ends up being a snack for late afternoon.

Breakfast: Coffee with 1/2 and 1/2  for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids (they love the Kodiak Cakes Mix).  I also keep sandwich Ziploc bags of other frozen fruit on hand to make the kids smoothies when they request them (a few times per week). Berries, peaches, and mangos are pretty popular. recently the Big Kid has been on a protein shake kick in the AM.

Usually, I do a crockpot meal on Mondays, but now that we are home all the time, we’ve been having an odd combination of fully home-cooked, scratch meals, and frozen entrees and veggies. I have been posting our meal plans on Instagram too- As well as pics of stuff we are doing to keep busy.

We’re on week 4 of distance learning. It’s finally become a habit, and there are plenty of chances to play and get our wiggles out. I bought the kids a kiddie pool for the patio and that is totally helping them get out the pent up energy.

  • Sunday:  Cheeseburger Salad (It’s a cheeseburger served sans bun on a bed of greens). The kids will have chick’n nuggets as Big dude is a vegetarian, and Bitty doesn’t like red meat.
  • Monday: Cheesy Chicken Broccoli casserole, fruit salad, Texas Toast and leftover nuggets. The casserole has a very small amount of chicken, so I can scoop some out for the big kiddo and he can have some meat-free.
  • Tuesday: Bean, Rice, and cheese bowls with grilled veggies
  • Wednesday:BBQ chicken and veggie bowls (with rice)
  • Thursday: Pizza Night!
  • Friday: Leftovers
  • Saturday: Waffles and fruit salad

Please stay safe you guys! The sooner we flatten the curve, the sooner life can go back to normal- whatever that means.

Talk Back: What are you cooking for dinner this week?

Veggie Soup Recipe- 2/4/2020 is National Soup Day!

cooking--3.jpgI received an email from Olive Garden this morning telling me tomorrow is National Soup Day. WOOO! In the mood for their Zuppa Toscana? Here is my copycat recipe.

I had planned to make veggie soup this week, it’s a perfect way to use up all the bits and bobs of veggies you have hanging around your kitchen.

Here is my No Fail, Easy Peasy Vegetable Soup Recipe. It’s Vegan and Vegetarian as is.

 

Ingredients:

  • 2 quarts Veggie Stock
  • 2 c. onions, diced
  • 1 c. celery, chopped
  • 1 c. carrots, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 2 Bell peppers, chopped (your choice of color)
  • 2 T. grapeseed oil or your favorite cooking oil
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • 1 large can (approx. 28 ounce) crushed tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2T. Mural of Flavor
  • Salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
  • 1-2 yellow crookneck squash or zucchini with skin on, cut into bite-size pieces

 

Directions:

  1. In a large stockpot, saute onion, carrots, bell peppers, and celery until veggies are soft and onions are clear (about 20 minutes).
  2. Add garlic, cook 5-10 minutes until fragrant.
  3. Add Veggie Stock, Tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, herbs, and simmer on medium/low for 30-45 minutes.
  4. Add squash/zucchini and continue to simmer for 10-20 minutes.
  5. Serve with bread (I like Beer Bread). Top with Nutritional Yeast or cheese of your choice.

Feel free to substitute in veggies in the amounts that you have. This recipe is just a guide! Other veggies that go great in soup: potatoes, cabbage, green beans, turnips (cook just like potatoes), kale, and spinach.

Leafy greens are added to the soup about 10-15 minutes before serving. Potatoes and turnips should be peeled, chopped and added during step 3.

1/30/2020 Free Beyond Meat Burgers at Denny’s!

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Have you tried the new Beyond Burgers? We had them for dinner a few weeks ago and they are really good.

Denny’s is offering a FREE Beyond Burger with the purchase of any beverage at all participating locations on January 30 from 11am to 10pm, while supplies last. As the first restaurant group within the family dining category to offer a 100% plant-based protein option made with Beyond Meat to its menu, Denny’s is meeting guests’ desire to move toward a flexitarian diet.

The Beyond Burger at Denny’s features a 100% plant-based “meat” patty topped with sliced tomatoes and onions, lettuce, pickles, American cheese, and All-American sauce on a multigrain bun. If you want it vegan, skip the cheese, sauce, and bun and have it lettuce wrapped!

Not all locations are participating, so I suggest calling the location you plan on visiting in advance to double-check. For more information about this deal, click here.

1/27/2020 Meal Plan Monday

0a5e9dab796cea8a07eabe4eb4795b9e.jpgThis week we’ve got so much going on, We’re doing a lot of super low key/easy meals, and relying on a couple meals from the freezer!

My shopping week for this week was small:

  • Milk
  • Butter
  • Bagels
  • Avocados
  • Snacks for school lunches (Goldfish, a batch of cookies, etc)

For those of you that are new to meal planning, I’ve got an easy 101 style post here with super easy tips and steps. After you get that down, here is info about batch or freezer cooking.

I’ve gotten a pretty good inventory of the pantry, freezer, and fridge done (I update it after every shopping trip), so I’m able to plan meals and use up what we’ve got with little waste. If you are looking for kitchen inventory printable, I like the kitchen inventories here. They are great printables.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day: You may notice a lot of plant-based meals- We are not vegetarian (well, the big kid is, but the rest of us aren’t), but I am trying to get more veggies into our diet. I do a lot of cooking from scratch- I find it easier to get veggies and fruit into recipes that I can have 100% control over.

Breakfast: Coffee with 1/2 and 1/2  for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids (they love the Kodiak Cakes Mix).  I also keep sandwich Ziploc bags of other frozen fruit on hand to make the kids smoothies when they request them (a few times per week). Berries, peaches, and mangos are pretty popular.

Lunches are leftovers, salads, or soups for me and Bitty. The big kid takes his lunch to school, but once in a while, I can convince him to buy his lunch.

IMG_9133.JPG
Our Meal Plan/ Shopping list area in the Kitchen Command Center

For dinner, when we’ve got busy days (like Mondays), I’ll try and put something in the crockpot in the morning, or pull something I’ve already prepped out that can be quickly cooked. We’ve got a bunch of stuff in the freezer, as I’ve been portioning out 2-3 adult-sized entree portions from several meals a week and freezing them for later meals.

  • Monday: Waffles, eggs, sausage
  • Tuesday: Meat Pies, Green Salad
  • Wednesday: Frozen Entrees
  • Thursday: Chicken Chili
  • Friday:   Veggie Stir Fry & Brown Rice
  • Saturday: Pizza & fruit salad
  • Sunday:  Leftover fiesta!

 

Talk Back: What are you cooking for dinner this week?

Crockpot Chili Recipe (GF, Vegan, Vegetarian)

bb7aaf49c1b99f67342c1e2ba108e792.jpg
Easy, Delicious, and Healthy!

I realized the other day when searching for my chili recipe on my blog so I could share it with someone on Facebook, that I have not posted my chili recipe, ever! Which is weird, because I make it at least once a month.

What I love about making chili in the crockpot is that you can use either fresh, frozen, or canned veggies, it really depends on what you have in your house, and what your budget is.

Because I get vegetables and fruit twice a month at our local co-op, frequently I will have fresh vegetables that I have diced or prepared and put into Ziploc bags to store in the freezer. It ensures that we have nutritious vegetables with no additives at our fingertips throughout the month.

Another great thing about this chili recipe is you can make it vegetarian, you can put meat in it, or you can make a vegan! This recipe is naturally gluten-free.

Slow Cooker Chili

  • One large onion diced
  • Two bell peppers, diced
  • 3 cups tomatoes. You can either use canned tomatoes, or if you have fresh tomatoes available you can quarter them.  No need to peel or seed them.
  • Two cloves of garlic, diced
  • 1 T. Avocado oil
  • 1 pound of meat (optional) I usually use ground pork, but other good choices include ground beef, ground chicken, ground turkey, or bite-sized pieces of stew meat. If you want a meat substitute, I like these crumbles from Beyond Meat.
  • One can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • One can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3T chili powder
  • 1t cumin
  • Salt and pepper as needed

Optional, but delicious:

1 cup corn niblets. If you use canned corn, drain and rinse it prior to adding.

If you do not care for black or kidney beans, you can swap in Northern beans, or navy beans.

Directions

  1. Personally, I like to brown the meat on the stove prior to adding it to the slow cooker. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch Oven, heat avocado oil and brown meat until thoroughly cooked/browned.
  2. Add onions and peppers, cook until onions are clear and fragrant, about 10 minutes.
  3. Add garlic, and cook, stirring often until garlic is fragrant about 5 to 10 minutes.
  4. If your pan has a lot of brown food remnants on the bottom, I recommend taking 2 to 4 tablespoons of liquid (you can use water) and pour it in the pan stirring and scraping all the yummy brown stuff off the bottom. This is where all the flavor lives.
  5. Pour all of the ingredients from the pot into your slow cooker.
  6. Add remaining ingredients, place lid on the slow cooker and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.

I love serving chili with cheese, sour cream, and tortilla chips.

This recipe is incredibly versatile.

If you don’t have fresh onions and peppers, you can grab a bag of fajita mix out of the freezer (which is pre-chopped onions and bell peppers).

If you don’t have fresh tomatoes (which let’s face it a lot of us don’t) you can use canned tomatoes. You can use whole canned tomatoes you can use diced, you can use chopped, whatever kind of tomatoes you have in your cupboard.

Use whatever kind of canned beans you have on hand. One time I made chili and I used chickpeas! And it turned out delicious!

If you don’t have cumin and chili powder in your cupboard but you have chili seasoning, use that instead.

I find the chili is a great go-to meal for when you are at the end of the month, and you are low on funds but you have lots of canned goods and frozen veggies.

If you were strapped for time, you don’t have to brown your meat, you can just put it in the crockpot and pour all the other ingredients over top, cook it, and let it cook. Just make sure to break up the meat (if you’re using ground meat) with a spoon prior to serving.

1/6/20 Weekly Meal Plan!

0a5e9dab796cea8a07eabe4eb4795b9e.jpg

Time for the first full week of meal planning in 2020! We’ve been doing some de-cluttering and cleaning around the house, and I found a whiteboard in the closet that I’ve decided to use in the kitchen for meal planning and other stuff.  Since we moved our living room furniture around and took down the desk/main work station, I’ve had to re-arrange a lot of processes I use to keep family productivity. I’ll post a picture of the Meal Planning Board on Instagram this afternoon.

For those of you that are new to meal planning, I’ve got an easy 101 style post here with super easy tips and steps. After you get that down, here is info about batch or freezer cooking.

Over the weekend I cleaned out the fridge, re-organized the freezer, and looked through the pantry. I meal planned for this week based on what we had on-hand. The fridge is looking a little bare today, but I’m going to pick up fruit and veggies this week.

I’ve gotten a pretty good inventory of the pantry, freezer, and fridge done (I update it after every shopping trip), so I’m able to plan meals and use up what we’ve got with little waste. If you are looking for kitchen inventory printable, I like the kitchen inventories here. They are great printables.

You may notice a lot of plant-based meals- We are not vegetarian (well, the big kid is, but the rest of us aren’t), but I am trying to get more veggies into our diet. I do a lot of cooking from scratch- I find it easier to get veggies and fruit into recipes that I can have 100% control over.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day:

Breakfast: Coffee with 1/2 and 1/2  for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids (they love the Kodiak Cakes Mix).  I also keep sandwich Ziploc bags of other frozen fruit on hand to make the kids smoothies when they request them (a few times per week). Berries, peaches, and mangos are pretty popular.

Lunches are leftovers, salads, or soups for me and Bitty. The big kid takes his lunch to school, but once in a while, I can convince him to buy his lunch.

For dinner, when we’ve got busy days (like Mondays), I’ll try and put something in the crockpot in the morning, or pull something I’ve already prepped out that can be quickly cooked. We’ve got a bunch of stuff in the freezer, as I’ve been portioning out 2-3 adult-sized entree portions from several meals a week and freezing them for later meals.

  • Monday: Frozen Entrees for the grown-ups, leftover pizza for the kids (We got HUGE pizzas for NYE and I stashed some pieces in the freezer for a later date), Siggi Whole milk yogurt and strawberries
  • Tuesday: Chicken Corn Chowder (From Scratch- Recipe will be posted this week)
  • Wednesday: Bean, Rice, and Cheese Bowls (I’ll also sneak in some veggies)
  • Thursday: Soup and Sammiches (I’m making a big batch of veggie soup)
  • Friday:    Probably homemade pizzas- I plan on making a couple batches of dough and a loaf of bread Friday.
  • Saturday:  Shakshuka, Fresh bread, green salad
  • Sunday:  Leftover fiesta!

I’ve got some new recipes to test out and post this week, including a couple new cookies recipes!

Talk Back: What are you cooking for dinner this week?