Archive for the ‘Vegan Recipes’ Category

Red and White Bean Vegan Gumbo

Posted on: February 12th, 2014 by veggiebeauty 1 Comment

hcv_redandwhitebeangumbo1It was a challenge to veganize gumbo, as most recipes I’ve encountered in my research are heavily meat based. The trick is to use the “holy trinity” of Creole cooking: onions, celery, and peppers. Also, making your roux a chocolate brown color adds a depth of flavor and richness to the gumbo that is unmatched. Browning your roux past a blonde shade reduces its thickening capabilities, so if you want your gumbo to be thicker, stop before it turns a deeper shade. You can add 2 cups sliced okra to this recipe if you want more it to be thicker than what file powder or a blonde roux can achieve. The possibilities with gumbo are endless, so don’t be afraid to experiment.  I have also provided an all purpose Creole seasoning blend with this recipe to simplify things a bit and add a New Orleans flair to other dishes.
Serves 6-8

 

Ingredients
1/4 cup Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour (Bob’s Red Mill makes one)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil + 1 TB to sauté, divided
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1-2 jalapeno peppers, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups vegetable stock
3 TB tomato paste
4 TB vegan Worcestershire sauce (I use Annie’s brand, optional)
1 TB Creole Spice Blend (recipe follows)
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 1/2 tsp Smoked Spanish paprika
2 cans red beans
1 can white Cannellini beans
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
pepper to taste
1/4 cup Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 1/2 tsp file powder, stirred in after taken off heat
To Serve
2 cups white rice, rinsed with cold water till it runs clear and cooked in 3 cups of water.
1/4 cup green onions, chopped
Tabasco or cayenne pepper sauce, to taste

Directions
In a 6 quart dutch oven, cast-iron or non-stick ceramic, sauté onion, celery, and green bell pepper on medium-high heat with olive oil until softened a bit, about 5-6 minutes. Remove from pot and add a bit of oil to sauté to jalapeño for about 4-5 minutes. Add garlic, and cook for another 1-2 minutes until fragrant.

Add vegetable stock and return onion, celery, and green pepper to the pot. Reduce heat to medium-low.

Add tomato paste, Creole spices, cayenne pepper, smoked Spanish paprika, Worcestershire sauce, red beans, white beans, and salt-pepper to taste. Let simmer for about 30-40 minutes, longer if you have time to develop flavor.

Start your roux. A roux is used to either thicken sauces or stews or to deepen the flavor profile of your dish. In this recipe, we are using the roux to deepen the flavor, so we are taking the color to a milk-chocolate shade. Make sure to not overcook the roux or it will burn. 

In a small, non-stick saucepan, heat 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil on medium heat for about 4-5 minutes until the oil gets hot. Add flour and stir constantly on medium heat with a wooden spoon until the roux turns a chocolate brown. Allow to cool slightly before adding to your gumbo or it may separate and will spatter and could cause burns. Also, before you add your roux, make sure the stew isn’t boiling.  If you want a thicker gumbo, stop your roux when it turns a blonde shade, about 10-12 minutes in.

Tips on making a perfect roux:  
If you have never made a roux before or are afraid of burning it, you can use a double boiler or heat the roux on low. It will increase the cooktime to about 30-40 minutes, so its up to you what your comfort level is. I find that cooking my roux faster is fine by me, as long as I constantly stir it vigorously and keep an eye on it. Using a non-stick, ceramic saucepan really helps keep the roux from burning and sticking as well. Make sure and stir the bottom of the pan frequently to keep the bottom from burning.

Add roux and mix into the stew. Remove from heat and add file powder. If you add file while still cooking the gumbo, it will turn a slimy consistency. Stir to combine, the stew should thicken slightly. Add chopped parsley and stir. Serve gumbo over rice and garnish with green onions.

Creole Spice Blend (Blend all ingredients in a coffee grinder designated to blending spices)

  • 1 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 TB celery seeds
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp cayenne
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1/4 tsp all spice
  • 2 bay leaves

Tomato Basil Cashew Cream Sauce with Shell Pasta

Posted on: December 17th, 2013 by veggiebeauty No Comments

tomatocreamsauce*Vegan, Gluten Free, Soy Free

Serves 6

This is a great recipe for potlucks, as it travels well and can be cooked in advance. It is creamy, savory, and great dish to present to your omnivore friends and family to show them how tasty vegan food can be. Plus, could there be a more harmonious flavor combination than tomato and basil?

Substitution options: If you don’t like mushrooms, you can omit and add cannellini beans for extra protein. If you tolerate soy, try adding sauteed tempeh. This recipe is also good as, without any of these additions. Just omit the deglazing step.

Ingredients:

1 (16 oz) package gluten free shell pasta

2 tsp extra virgin olive oil (divided)

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

4 large cloves garlic, minced

8 oz Cremini mushrooms, (quartered with stems removed)

2 TB cooking sherry (or vegetable broth)

1 cup raw cashews (soaked for 2 hours or more)

3 TB tomato paste

1 (16 oz) can diced tomatoes

3 TB nutritional yeast (optional)

1 ½ tsp dried basil

1 cup vegetable broth, divided

1 TB fresh lemon juice

1 TB fresh italian parsley, chopped finely (optional)

fine sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste

 

1. Prepare gluten free pasta according to the directions on the package, Rinse, drain, and set aside.

2. Using a 10”, heavy bottomed 3 quart covered sauce pan (or any large, covered sauce pan you have), saute yellow onion on medium heat with one tsp extra virgin olive oil, cover and stir occasionally for 5 minutes, until translucent. If you are using ceramic non-stick cookware, cook for up to 8 minutes to further develop the flavor of the onion. Uncover and saute garlic for another 1-2 minutes, lowering heat to medium-low.

3. Remove onions and garlic and add to blender or food processor. Add cashews, diced tomatoes (water drained), nutritional yeast, and ¼ cup vegetable broth. Blend for about 5 minutes on high, scraping down the sides with a spatula intermittently until cashews are completely smooth and blended in with all of the ingredients. Set aside.

4. Using the same saute pan you used to cook the onions and garlic, add another tsp of olive oil and pre-heat pan on medium heat for 2 minutes. Add quartered mushrooms, and season with a little bit of fine sea salt. Cover and saute for about 5 minutes, making sure to stir the mushrooms. The mushrooms will start to decrease in size and release liquid; at this point, add 2 TB cooking sherry to deglaze the pan, and cook for another 2 minutes until the alcohol cooks off.

5. Add the cashew-tomato cream sauce directly to the pan with the mushrooms. Pour the rest of the vegetable broth into the sauce, and reduce heat to low-simmer. Stir and reduce the sauce for 5 more minutes, adding basil, and fine sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. Stir in cooked shell pasta until the sauce covers all of the pasta and add 1 TB freshly squeezed lemon juice. Add TB fresh italian parsley as a garnish right before serving.

Cook Dried Beans in a Slow Cooker & Save Money

Posted on: November 8th, 2013 by veggiebeauty 4 Comments

http://ak9.picdn.net/shutterstock/videos/2428040/preview/stock-footage-beans-and-peas-close-up.jpg

I have been trying to save some money on my food budget. I’ve pretty much constantly had my 4 quart slow cooker going this month, either making economical casseroles & stews, or to cook my dried beans. Instead of using as many canned beans, I’ve been cooking dried beans in bulk and freezing them in can sized portions for my recipes in air tight containers. Its just as convenient as canned when you make them ahead of time.

There are quick cooking legumes for those nights when you forget to pre-cook your beans. Red Lentils, brown lentils, & split peas cook on the stove in less than hour, just make sure to simmer on medium-low; these kinds of legumes are more delicate and will explode and split if you cook them on high heat. All of these are also great additions to slow cooker stews, as you can just throw them in the same pot as your other ingredients and they will cook to perfection without a lot of effort. Just make sure to pre-sort them for debris and rinse them in clean water.

Most other dried beans in the slow cooker require a similar method of preparation (unless they are kidney, then you need to pre-boil them for 10-15 minutes to neturalize their toxin, phytohaemagglutinin,). I like to pour out my beans on a clean dish towel and sort through for any broken pieces or little specks of rock. Then, I rinse them thoroughly in a colander until they are clean. 1 pound of dried beans fits perfectly in a 4 quart slow cooker. The rule for most slow cookers is that you want it be filled up to about 3/4 of its capacity for the most even heating. You want at least 3 inches of water above the line of your beans in the crock. You can error on the side of caution with more water, just drain the beans or fish them out with a slotted spoon. Nothing worse than dried up, burnt beans from not using enough water!

I usually slow cook my beans on low heat for about 8 hours overnight in my slow cooker and they are usually perfectly tender when I wake up. Make sure to test them to ensure they are done; if they aren’t tender enough, let them cook for another hour or so in the slow cooker. Another benefit of slow cooking beans is that I find I don’t have as much issue with the beans losing their skins or becoming too mushy as when I soak them and simmer them on the stove.

Some beans may take longer to cook, depending on a few factors:

  • Make sure your dried beans haven’t been sitting on the shelf for too long. If dried beans are old, they might never become tender and soft.
  • Garbanzo beans, great northern, lima, and soybeans have the longest cook times

I know cooking your own beans seems like it would be a lot more work than opening up a can, but using a slow cooker is effortless. You don’t have to slave away stirring beans on a stove, they can cook while you sleep! Also, dried beans double in volume when they are cooked; 1 pound usually equals about 6 cans worth of beans for less than $2!

Smokey Baked Broccoli Mac n’ Cashew Cheese (Gluten Free & Vegan)

Posted on: November 7th, 2013 by veggiebeauty 4 Comments

pp_smokymac1As some of you may already know, I’m working up recipes for a cookbook I’m going to try and release by next year. I’m a perfectionist, so its going to take me a a decent amount of time to test everything until I feel its perfect. In the meantime, I plan on sharing a few recipes from my book here on my website. I whipped up this dish by using up items I had in my pantry and frozen broccoli from a freezer. Its a great end of the week kind of meal, using what’s at hand to make something even better than what you remember from your pre-vegan childhood days. The smoked Spanish paprika really creates a vibrant orange-yellow color to the sauce, and imparts and piquant smokiness to this traditional baked Mac n’ Cheese. It also just happens to be gluten-free as well, as I’m gluten intolerant and try my best to make all of my meals without wheat.

Ingredients:
1 package brown rice rotini noodles (I use Tinkyada)
1 cup raw cashews, soaked for for 2 hours
1 cup vegetable broth (I use 1/2 a teaspoon Vegetable Better Than Boullion in one cup hot water)
1/2 cup nutritional yeast
2 tsp smoked Spanish paprika
1/4 tsp chipotle powder or cayenne, optional
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil, for sautéing
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups broccoli florets, steamed & chopped into smaller pieces
1/4 cup gluten free bread crumbs (I use cornflakes)
 Directions
 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Start a large pot of water boiling. Cook noodles as package dictates, rinse in colander, and set aside.
2. Saute onions for five minutes on medium high heat, or until translucent. Add garlic and cook for one more minute.
 3. Blend together cashews and water in a blender on high speed until smooth (about 3-5 minutes). Add garlic, onions, nutritional yeast and spices. Blend until completely smooth make sure to scrape down the sides intermittently with a spatula.
4. In a small, dry, non-stick sauce pan, toast gluten free crumbs until golden on medium heat.
5. Lightly oil a oven safe casserole dish and pour in noodles, broccoli, and the cashew sauce. Stir together and season to taste with salt and pepper.
 Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes. Serves 6

What is Hing (Asafoetida)?

Posted on: June 9th, 2013 by veggiebeauty 4 Comments


When I first started looking into Indian cooking techniques and recipes, I kept coming across this elusive ingredient known by many different names: asafoetida, asafetida, and most commonly known as hing. I looked up a picture of the plant and realized that my grandmother used it to make homemade pickles! Hing is used in many recipes that I wanted to try, so I decided to order some online from My Spice Sage (they have the most elusive ingredients, so if you can’t locally source something, check this site first). It an ingredient that has no substitution, so its worth the hunt if you enjoy authentic Indian cuisine.

The most intimidating thing I discovered about working with hing is its strong, pungent smell. Some would describe it as foot odor, but I don’t know if I’d go that far. It definitely is an evasive smell, so its best to keep hing in an air tight container or double bag, or your spice cabinet may take on its odor. This smell goes away when hing is added to cooking oil, and develops a similar flavor profile similar to a combination of leeks, onions, and garlic. It is a great flavor substitute if you are sensitive to any of those particular ingredients.

I have been using it lately with a cooking technique known as a chaunk. A chaunk, also known as a tarka or tadka, is a common technique used to impart flavor from whole spices. I heat about 2 TB of vegetable oil (a replacement for ghee, which is clarified butter) and heat on medium heat. I usually add cumin seeds to my chaunk, so I add one seed into the pan to see if the oil is hot enough. If it pops and sizzles, the oil is ready for the cumin seeds. I add hing towards the end of the cooking of my chaunk, which never takes more than 30 seconds or the spices will start to burn. You then pour the chaunk into your gravy or dal (lentils), you can even add it to basmati rice! It imparts such a depth of flavor that is essential to Indian cooking.

Indian food is all about spice blends and balancing strong flavors so that not one element overpowers another, which is not as easy as it seems. Enter in the mysterious ingredient that melds flavors and aids in digestion, hing. If you have trouble digesting legumes, try adding a pinch of hing to your recipe! It is my secret ingredient in making authentic, restaurant quality Indian food at home. I also don’t mind the smell of raw asafoetida anymore, although I still don’t risk leaving it out too long uncovered.

Jamaican Creamy Coconut and Sweet Potato Soup

Posted on: February 10th, 2013 by veggiebeauty No Comments

I adore creamy sweet potato soups on a cold, winter night. What better way to beat the cold weather blues than to take the already tasty sweet potato soup and add a Jamaican twist. The coconut cream and cashew cream make this soup decadent and hearty, while adding protein.

image

3 TB creamed coconut (reconstitited with 1/2 cup hot water)
1 TB extra Virgin coconut oil
1 cup cashews soaked, drained, and blended until smooth with 1/4 cup water
2 TB Jamaican curry powder (I used a homemade blend from Vegan Eats World by Terry Hope Romero)
1 TB all purpose seasoning
1, 4oz can diced green chiles
1 yellow onion, chopped
4 cups peeled and chopped sweet potatoes
4 cups vegetable broth
3/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1 1/2 TB fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste

1. The creamed coconut I use in this recipe comes from this brand (Edward and Son’s Let’s Do Organic)
Take 3 TB and mix together until disolved with half a cup of hot water and set aside.

2. Prep onions and sweet potatoes. Heat a TB of extra Virgin coconut oil and sauté onions on medium heat for 5 minutes.

3. Add sweet potatoes and mix into onions. Cook covered for 8 minutes and add salt and pepper to taste, along with the rest of the seasonings.

4. Add vegetable broth, cover, and increase heat to medium high. Cook covered until sweet potatoes are soft, about 15 minutes.

5. While cooking, blend soaked cashews with 1/4 cup water until smooth in a blender or food processor.

6. When sweet potatoes are soft, blend half of the soup in your blender and add back to pot.

7. Add diced chiles, creamed coconut and cashew cream into the soup pot and turn heat to low to heat through and develop flavor.

8. Before serving, mix in lemon juice and add cilantro.

9. Serves 6

Vegan Spinach and Tofu Wontons

Posted on: January 12th, 2013 by veggiebeauty No Comments

imageMy mother wanted me to make an appetizer to celebrate her birthday since she enjoys my cooking. I remembered as a child how much she loved Chinese food, and would always get crab ragoons for an appetizer. I decided to make a vegan version for her, and needless to say they were enjoyed and devoured by all.

Wontons are very easy to make, and you can customize them according to your culinary whims. Here is the version I made for my mom!

Ingredients:

1 package of wonton wrappers (about 30-40)
1 container plain tofutti cream cheese (softened to room temp)
3/4 cup frozen spinach (water pressed out)
1 tsp sriracha chili paste (optional)
2 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp Szechuan 5 spice or pre-made Chinese 5 Spice (I make my own from the recipe in Vegan Eats World by Terry Hope Romero)
4 scallions diced
1 large carrot shredded
8 oz extra firm tofu (water pressed out)
Vegetable oil (enough to deep fry)

In a medium mixing bowl, mix together the softened Tofutti cream cheese, garlic, ginger, Szechuan 5 spice, soy sauce, and sriracha.

Crumble up pressed tofu and add the frozen spinach into the mixture. Make sure the water is thoroughly pressed out of both or you will have soggy wontons. Add shredded carrot and scallions and set aside once everything is well combined.

Lay out a sheet of parchment paper on your countertop; open up wonton wrappers and place a wet paper towel on top of unused wrappers to keep them pliable.

Place 9 wrappers onto the paper and grab a small bowl of water. Wet the edges of the wrappers with a clean finger or a basting brush.

Place a small amount of filling (about a teaspoon) in the center of each wrapper. If you overfill them, they won’t seal and will leak.

Fold the ends over until they meet and pinch them together firmly until they seal. Wrap the to ends in together until they form a “hat”.

Repeat until you use up all of the filling.

Heat up a pot on high heat with enough vegetable oil to deep fry 5 wontons at a time. Wait until the oil starts bubbling and deep fry the wontons until golden, making sure to stir them with tongs.

Line a plate with paper towels to absorb the excess oil and place the cooked wontons on top. Cover with a clean dish towel or aluminum to keep them warm.

Repeat until all or cooked and serve immediately. You can serve as is or with your favorite dipping sauce (Asian hot mustard, sweet and sour sauce, or soy sauce).

Italian Vegan Quesadillas

Posted on: January 8th, 2013 by veggiebeauty No Comments

Italian Vegan Quesadillas (modified from a recipe from the cookbook, Moosewood Simple Suppers)

This is a nice change from Mexican based Quesadillas; made them last night and Kerry and I loved them! Its really quick to throw together too. Makes about six folded in half quesadillas.

1 package vegan tortillas
1 (8 oz) container button mushrooms
1 sm. yellow onion diced
1 container tofutti cream cheese (softened)
1 (8 oz) bag non-dairy mozzarella cheese sub
1 TB balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp garlic powder
salt-pepper to taste
1 1/2 tsp dried basil
3 roma tomatoes (sliced)

spinach (optional)
fresh basil (optional)

Saute onion and mushrooms in olive oil on medium heat for 5-7 minutes, until cooked through. Sprinkle in salt and pepper to taste.

Mix together the softened tofutti, balsamic vinegar, salt-pepper, garlic powder, dried basil, and cheese sub in a small mixing bowl.

Take a tortilla, spread the mixture on one side, and fold over.

Add mushrooms and onions to the quesadilla and top with tomatoes and other optional toppings.

Heat a non-stick skillet to medium-high heat; Heat on one side until golden (about 2 minutes) and repeat with other side.

6 servings!

Homemade Vegan Pumpernickel Stuffing

Posted on: November 21st, 2012 by veggiebeauty No Comments
I love the dark and rich taste of Pumpernickel bread and I thought it would make a nice twist on traditional stuffing which usually uses white or wheat bread. Tastes so much better than the boxed alternative.

 

10 cups vegan pumpernickel bread cubed
1 cup finely chopped celery
1 small onion finely chopped
3 cups veggie broth
1 tablespoon vegan margerine or olive oil
1 tsp thyme leaf
2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley minced
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp white pepper
Salt-pepper to taste

 

Toast bread until crisp but not burned at 400 degrees F stirring a few times.
Sauté onion and celery in a skillet with vegan margerine until translucent over medium heat.
Transfer bread into covered casserole dish and add seasonings, parsley, and veggies.
Stir in 2 cups broth until absorbed.
Cook at 350 degrees F covers for 20 minutes. Stir in 1 more cup broth and cook covered another 15 minutes.
Uncover and cook another 15 minutes if you want a crust on top.
Photo: Homemade vegan Pumpernickel stuffing! So easy!</p> <p>10 cups vegan pumpernickel bread cubed<br /> 1 cup finely chopped celery<br /> 1 small onion finely chopped<br /> 3 cups veggie broth<br /> 1 tablespoon vegan margerine or olive oil<br /> 1 tsp thyme leaf<br /> 2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley minced<br /> 1/2 tsp garlic powder<br /> 1/2 tsp white pepper<br /> Sat-pepper to taste</p> <p>Toast bread until crisp but not burned  at 400 degrees F stirring a few times. Sauté onion and celery in a skillet until translucent over medium heat. Transfer bread into covered casserole dish and add seasonings, parsley, and veggies. Stir in 2 cups broth until absorbed. Cook at 350 degrees F covers for 20 minutes. Stir in 1 more cup broth and cook covered another 15 minutes. Uncover and cook another 15 minutes if you want a crust on top.

Week 2: Grocery List & Budget Shopping

Posted on: August 7th, 2012 by veggiebeauty 4 Comments

This week we ended up spending more money than we’d like at the grocery store, even with a trip to ALDI. I realize that we got food for more meals than our normal 6 meal limit, so I’m taking that into account. Also, the pantry was low on a quite a few items, so those grocery trips do tend to cost a bit more. I think I need to take account of my pantry a bit more and space out our staples so we don’t have to purchase them all in one week.

We scored on a few items on our list….ALDI is now carrying 100% Grade A Maple syrup for only $3.99!!!! Its from Canada too…I tasted a little bit and absolutely nothing is wrong with the quality. I hate that people stick their nose up about shopping at ALDI…that store is the reason we are able to eat such a wide variety of interesting meals and still be able to afford a few luxury items from time to time. I also found pine nuts there last week for super cheap, score!

ALDI doesn’t always carry almond milk, but when they do I enjoy getting some as it is my favorite non-dairy milk. Their almond milk tastes wonderful, I highly recommend it. Their soy milk is quite reasonable as well and is organic which is important to me regarding soybeans as many soybeans are gmo.

Also, while jams and jellies aren’t super healthy, we enjoy eating a PB & J sometimes. ALDI’s Strawberry preserves and Corcord Grape jelly do not have processed cane sugar in them. Yes they have corn syrup instead, but at least we know that is a vegan sweetener whether its healthy or not.

Onto the meal plan, to give you guys some ideas of what the heck we eat. Once you have a meal plan down, it makes life much easier and you also know that your food won’t go to waste in your fridge because you have a specific plan for each item.

This week, I decided to crack open a new cookbook (well, at least open up my Nook lol) called Color Me Vegan by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau. I have her book, The Vegan Table, but I enjoy the organization and theme of this book a bit more. I adore how the recipes are split up into different colors with information about why foods of a certain color are good for you and what they can provide for your body. There are many gluten-free and oil free options in the book for those looking to eat a bit healthier.

I ended up picking 3 recipes from this book this week:
Stuff Shells with Marinara: features a beautiful and healthy tofu ricotta recipe…a genius mix of soft and extra firm tofu with pine-nuts..mmmmm.

Beet Burgers: This sound very colorful and interesting…I was quite intrigued by the inclusion of sesame seeds and sunflower seeds as well. The picture was what really inspired me to make this and it sounds healthy and tasty. We splurged and got the new block version of Daiya, the Jack style one? I’ve heard that it tastes better than the shredded version!

Nori Wraps with Orange Cashew Cream: These look so colorful and tasty..a nice alternative to a tortilla wrap. Love the addition of avocado, makes them more like a California roll. We ended up using rice wraps instead of nori though, as the only Nori sheets we saw seemed too small to make a wrap. I think I’ll just add some dulse flakes to the Cashew Cream to give it the seafood flavor. Should work nicely. The rice wraps were gluten free, made of just rice and tapoica flour.

The rest of the recipes are just family favorites that we’ve made a million times before…but there is nothing wrong with that. I notice we do tend to eat more Mexican dishes when were are budgeting because it easy to pack in flavor with spicey ingredients like jalapenos and chili sauce. Also, while the dishes may seem humble, we are always satisfied by their comforting taste and delicious flavor. Simple can be wonderful if you use the right spices and flavor profiles.

Chili: We just take a large can of tomato juice, add in some onion, garlic, green pepper, frozen corn, 2 cans kidney beans, 1 can black beans, and a small can of tomato paste to help the food stretch a bit further and to thicken the soup. I also love adding in a lot of lime juice and chili powder…we also have some fresh jalapeños to use up from last week. May throw in some TVP if I think about it.

Garbanzo Tacos: This is the meal my husband is making this week. Its a very quick and simple meal to make and he feels comfortable with it, so that makes it easier to get him in the kitchen:) We are going to save part of the Daiya block of cheese and shred it up for the tacos to give them a bit more interest. He uses a can of diced tomato, onion, garlic, and basic taco seasonings (onion powder, chili powder, oregano, salt-pepper). The key to making garbanzos sit in taco shells is to smash them up a bit with a fork.

3-Pepper Fajitas: ALDI has super cheap tri-color peppers right now that look beautiful. We got a whole 3 pack for a $1.69! We are going to saute those with some mushrooms, spinach, onions, gralic and add some black beans, spices, and lots of ground pepper. And of course we will douse it with Tapatio hot sauce, but that’s a given:)

Spaghetti w/ Maranara: Cheap, cheap, cheap and easy…this a a recipe we make constantly. We are using organic pasta sauce and using up left-over green peppers, mushrooms, maybe a bit of textured vegetable protein to make it a bit heartier. I may even make some parmesan with walnuts and nutritional yeast that I have on hand, but we shall see.

Tofu with Stir-Fry Veggies w/ Jasmine Rice:  Jasmine rice  is a pantry staple of ours, its so fragrant and flavorful. We love this recipe as a way to use up veggies in our fridge and as a budget stretcher. I always make my own homemade sauces with cornstarch, soy sauce, turbinado sugar, and whatever spice blend I want that week or fruit (like pineapple) if I’m making a sweet and sour sauce.