Lunch & Dinner
lightened-up red vodka sauce
The omnivore is really, really sick of my fav easy dish — pasta noodles (often farfalle or shells) topped with jarred pasta sauce. I typically add my own extras — minced garlic, cayenne pepper, lots of herbs — but to him it's still a tired old dish. I don't blame him. But I still love it.
Tonight's compromise was a vodka red sauce. I still get my tangy tomato kick, but it's muted enough by lots of other goodness to please the guy. In fact, I got an enthusiastic "It's pretty tasty" tonight, which is saying something.
This meal was inspired by this recipe from Yummy Cookery, but modified to be a little lighter and to use what I had on hand. I forgot we had chicken — next time we will cook some of that in a separate pan, so the omnivore can toss that into his pasta.
lightened-up vodka red sauce
8 ounces farfalle
2 tablespoons Earth Balance
2 cloves minced garlic
a few dashes garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Several dashes cayenne
1/4 cup dried parsley (I added a bit of fresh, too)
2/3 cup vodka (Absolut makes an interesting cilantro vodka that worked well in this dish, but plain vodka is fine, too)
1/4 cup almond milk
1/4 cup fat-free plain Greek yogurt
5 tomatoes, chopped in large pieces
1-2 tablespoons tomato paste, depending on tangy preference
Step one: Prepare noodles according to directions on packaging.
Two: Melt Earth Balance in a saucepan and saute garlic.
Three: When it turns a golden color, add garlic powder, red pepper flakes, cayenne and vodka. Simmer for 4-5 minutes.
Four: Add tomatoes, parsley, almond milk and yogurt and simmering about 6-8 minutes.
Five: Drain noodles and top with sauce. Add salt and pepper, if desired.
nothin' fishy goin' on here... ok, maybe
Mike's been working 1,000 hours a week lately, so I told him I'd make dinner tonight. Except I didn't feel like going to the store.
So I dug through the cupboard and fridge (a familiar pattern) and here's what I came up with: Ginger tuna cakes with garlic mashed potatoes (already eaten by photo time) and carrots glazed with brown sugar (also already eaten).
Now we are both ready for a nap.
workin' for the weekend ginger tuna cakes
Servings: About 8 palm-sized patties
2 7-oz. cans tuna
4 T. fresh chives
1/2 lemon, squeezed (serve other half with meal)
1 cup Japanese-style panko bread crumbs
1 T. canola oil plus enough to coat bottom of pan
3/4 cup boiled, mashed potatoes (I used some of the garlic mashed potatoes I was making to go with it)
2 T. grated, fresh ginger
Salt, pepper and cayenne, to taste
Note: I didn't have any eggs, but if you do, beat one and add it to the mix so everything sticks together nicely
Step one: Mix everything together in a bowl. Shape into palm-sized patties.
Two: Coat bottom of pan with canola oil. Heat pan on high for a few minutes to warm the oil. Turn down the temp just a bit and add the cakes. Use a long-handled spatula if you are a wuss like me and are afraid of hot oil splatters.
Three: Fry patties for about 4 minutes, until golden brown on side in oil, then flip and finish cooking on other side.
Four: Serve with this homemade tartar sauce recipe (easy and really good!), boiled carrots glazed with butter and brown sugar, and garlic mashed potatoes.
Toss dishes in sink and head to couch for relaxation.
fuel to recover from the workout fire
Tonight after an awesome, sweaty workout, I wanted a good recovery dinner. I knew I needed decent protein and healthful fats, or I'd end up carb-loading the rest of the night. Enter this avocado-tomato-egg sandwichy goodness.
Sorry, no photo (too hungry!). But trust me, it looks good and hits the spot.
For one serving:
2 pieces whole-wheat bread
1/3 of an avocado, mashed
1 Tbsp mayo or Veganaise
1/2 tomato, sliced
Small handful various greens (spinach, spring mix, etc.), torn into smallish pieces
A few dashes Tabasco sauce
Dash of pepper
Dash of season salt
Fry the eggs. Sprinkle salt and pepper on them as they cook. Meanwhile, toast the bread, mash the avocado, slice the tomato and tear up the greens.
Spread the mashed avocado on one piece of toast. Spread a thin layer of mayo over it. Splash on a dash or two of Tabasco. Press the pieces of greens into the avocado mixture. Top with tomato slices, fried egg and last piece of toast.
Eat, relax and congratulate yourself on a fine meal after a fine workout.
Note: A hungry omnivore could fry some ham, bacon or lunch meat in a pan and then add that to their sandwich. My hungry omnivore ate leftover Savor-The-Summer Salad (see below).
It's the end of August. Almost time to head back to school. I'm lazy-ing it up, big time, savoring every moment before the chaos breaks out again.
I threw together this easy, cold summer salad that we could enjoy without too much effort or heating of the house. Plus, we didn't have a lot of time, because "Breaking Bad" was up next! Yes, it's gorgeous outside, but we have our priorities, dang it!
Store-bought Italian, or make your own by mixing oil, vinegar, garlic, salt, oregano.
8 ounces campanelli noodles, cooked according to directions, strained and chilled with cold water
1/2 cup diced red onion, sauteed in oil for 5 minutes
1 can artichokes, chopped
4 large cherry tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup sundried tomatoes (I used the jarred typed that's packed in oil)
3-4 tsp each of dried oregano, parsley, garlic powder
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 cup shredded cheese (I used Screaming Dutchman's Parmiasio. It's a parm/asiago mix that is 100% vegetarian and free of animal rennet)
Pepperoni slices, chopped into quarters (for the omnivore)
Prepare the dressing while the noodles are cooking. Saute the onion and chop the veggies. Shred your cheese of choice.
Pour a nice, chilled white wine. (Optional, but highly recommended.)
Toss everything together except the pepperoni. Use that to top the omnivore's salad.
Raise your glasses in a toast to the final, delicious days of summer.
Oh, our plates don't match, you say? See early mention of laziness. This is what happens when the dishes need to be done. Again, priorities. (And for the record, we did go outside to water our plants after we ate. See photo below)
Haha, just kidding. Those are from a park a few miles from our house.
This is one of our plants.
Hope you've been able to savor your summer!
his and hers cabbage rolls
Mike and I both grew up eating cabbage rolls. We loved them.
My mom calls her recipe "pigs in a blanket," which I think is adorable, but some people hear that and assume it's a hot dog wrapped in a biscuit. Instead, her version is seasoned hamburger with rice wrapped in cabbage and smothered in a delicious tomato sauce. Mike's grandmother made a similar dish.
We decided to try to make a meaty version and a vegetarian one.
We used the Taste of Home "classic" cabbage roll recipe and their vegetarian cabbage roll recipe as our base ideas. However, we tweaked them to suit our preferences.
For Mike's version, he roughly halved the recipe, and used equal parts hamburger and spicy ground Italian sausage. He skipped the vegetable juice. To speed the baking process, he browned the meat in a pan on the stove, then combined the ingredients as directed and put them in a square, glass baking dish (I think it is 9x9). He made about seven cabbage rolls.
For mine, I skipped the sweet red pepper and zucchini (I like both but decided I didn't need them), using instead a whole green pepper and a carton of mushrooms, which I sauteed with the onion. Instead of bulgur, I used brown rice leftover from another meal.
I used a square metal baking dish the same size as Mike's. I made about six large cabbage rolls.
We covered them both with foil and popped them in the oven at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.
We each loved our respective version! Added bonus: We both have leftovers for the weekend.
a little bit of this...
It was one of those nights — our schedules just didn't mesh for dinner.
I was headed to the gym when Mike got home, and when I got back, he was working on a project in the garage. In fact, at 8:30 p.m., he was still out there. Poor guy.
When he got in, he got leftover tuna hotdish-from-a-box that he made over the weekend.
I didn't take a picture because, well... it wasn't too pretty. But the box had been sitting in the cupboard awhile, so its day had come.
Meanwhile ... I had this:
I know. I'm cruel.
To be fair, he could have this, too, but he probably wouldn't want it.
Why? The BEANS — oh those dreadful BEANS!! The guy can't stand 'em. This is another reason making meals together can be a delicate dance.
If we had something else he could add for protein, he might be swayed; alas, his meat options right now are very limited.
So... more for me. ;)
Here's what I gathered and quickly transformed into a post-workout meal.
diy veggie burgers
I fell into a trap. A mental "I don't have time to make healthful meals at home" trap.
I was completing a full-time internship, commuting an hour each way. Then homework and gym and a few brief words to my wonderful husband before heading to bed by 9 p.m., up at 5 p.m. every day. No time or energy for cooking.
Please call the wwwwaaaambulance and cue violins to help console me.
I know you are all are busy, too!
That's why you'll love this easy-to-assemble recipe for homemade veggie burgers. It makes about 15 smallish ones (you could make them larger if you prefer). Freeze any extras to take to work for a quick, preservative-free.
Funny side story: I had intended to buy a can of plain old black beans, but accidentally grabbed refried black beans. I learned too late that the ones I bought are made with lard. Lard! At that point, I was determined to get them into the pan, so I decided to let that fact slide this time. But I wanted to give you the heads up so you don't make the same mistake I did. In the future I will be buying vegetarian refried black beans or mashing up regular cooked black beans.
Note: The omnivore of the house can easily add some of the diced mango and jalapeno to some hamburger for his version. I think he'll like the extra zing!
black bean-mango-jalapeno burgers
Servings: 15 smallish burgers or about a dozen larger ones
1 can vegetarian refried black beans (see funny side story above for why this distinction is important)
1 mango, diced
1 jalapeno, diced
5-6 green onions, diced
2 eggs, whisked
2 cups quick-cooking oats
3/4 to 1 cup cornmeal
A few dashes of whatever herbs you have on hand. I used:
1/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon dried parsley
1/4 teaspoon dried savory
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
Dash salt and pepper, to taste
Canola oil, as needed
1. Stir everything but the oil together in a large bowl, forming a stiff dough. (I used 3/4 cup cornmeal, but you can use more if the dough is too sticky.)
2. Add 2 tablespoons canola oil to bottom of pan and heat on medium.
3. Form dough into small patties in the palm of your hand, and carefully lower into pan. Cook 5-7 minutes on each side, until the patties are cooked through. You may need to add more oil to the pan for each round of patties you fry.
4. Remove patties and place on paper towel-lined baking sheet to cool.
5. Place on bun and top with mango salsa or spicy mustard and enjoy.
Note: You also can crumble these up or chop into bite-sized pieces and add to pasta with marinara sauce for a meatball-like effect. I also add them to a wrap or salad to get my protein fix and some added flavor.