Lunch often seems to get overlooked in the “meal planning” schedule, especially at my house. I usually go with noodles and sauce or a sandwich – I love sandwiches, so much so that lunch just may be my favorite meal (one of my favorite meals anyway!). Going out to dinner is standard old-hat, but going out for lunch really gets me excited – something in the middle of the day (making a nooner cocktail legal), there are lots of meal options, and you still have a good part of the day ahead of you when you walk out the door…there’s still hope for accomplishing something with the remainder of the day. Hope, that’s what lunch offers me.
When I have a few extra minutes for cooking I like to have something warm for luncheon: a toasted sandwich or a quesadilla come to mind. The Vegan Quesadilla is one of my favorites, but I took it a step further and I bring you: The Mexican Sandwich.
It’s a quesadilla. It’s a sandwich. It’s both at the same time! Have I blown your mind?
Making the quesadilla
The Quesadilla Sandwich aka "The Mexican Sandwich"
- ---For the Quesadilla---
- 2 large tortillas
- 1-2 handfulls of Daiya - cheddar flavor or other
- ---For the Sandwich---
- 3-4 slices Tofurky "lunchmeat"
- Salad Greens
- Vegan Sour Cream
- Sliced Onion
- Start out by making a vegan quesadilla
- Let the quesadilla cool for a few minutes
- Cut the quesadilla in half
- Pretend the quesadilla halves are bread
- Build a sandwich to your liking!
I prefer savory sandwiches (vs. PB&J or other sweeter ones) and love adding vegan lunchmeat and pesto or my Delicious Sesame Sauce. Other favorite sandwich ingredients include: tomatoes, cucumbers, salt & pepper, arugala, marmite, sauerkraut, hummus, or my BEST Bean Dip.
Chow-Down Sandwich Time!
What makes a kick-ass sandwich for you?? I’m sure I’ve just left out a lot of awesome ingredients!
We recently moved to California and while I knew one could grow citrus in one’s own yard here, I hadn’t really experienced it until we moved in. I unfortunately don’t have a citrus tree in our yard -but our neighbors do I wonder if while I long for a lemon tree, do people who have lemon trees secretly hate them for the nasty rotton fruit that eventually ends up on the ground? We just moved from a home with 12 old-growth crabapple trees surrounding the house – I couldn’t hate a tree more than those crabapples, they showered the house with apples from July through November – it sounded like hail. And don’t get me started on the cleanup in the yard, I swear I was out there with a snow shovel (no exaggeration!) cleaning them up into a large trash bin nearly every day. I’m no wimp when it comes to yard work, but this was totally excessive – billions of crabapples every season.
Anyway, are citrus trees a nuisance or do people love them? I probably use one lemon per day, sometimes two. Whenever I go to the grocery I automatically pick up two or three, just in case.
5 Classic Ingredients
This recipe was invented last week when I realized I was out of groceries and didn’t know what to make. As I pawed through the pantry and the fridge I pulled out these five items and got to work. I almost always have these items on hand, they’ve just never debuted together on my stovetop. Pine nuts, lemon, spaghetti noodles, Earth Balance, and arugala (or spinach or any green probably) – these are all great staples to have on hand!
Toasty Pine Nuts
- 1 8oz box Spaghetti
- 3 Tbsp Pine Nuts
- 1 medium-large Lemon
- 3-4 Tbsp Earth Balance - or your fav vegan butter
- 1-2 handfuls Arugala
- Toast the pine nuts first in a dry pan over medium to medium-high heat until they start to brown and smell toasty. Set aside.
- Zest the lemon. Set aside and keep the lemon for its juice in a moment.
- Boil the noodles according to package instructions.
- Drain the noodles and set aside.
- Over a medium flame put the Earth Balance, lemon zest, and squeeze all of the lemon juice into pan - discard lemon rind. Stir until mixed together and melted.
- Add the noodles to the pan and stir until the butter sauce is evenly distributed.
- Add the arugala (more or less depending on your preference). Stir until mixed and remove from heat when the arugala becomes wilted.
- Serve with the nuts sprinkled over individual servings, if they're stirred into the pan they always sink to the bottom.
The flavor of this dish is so fresh and delicious. Lemon always makes things feel wholesome, clean, and alive! It pops in my mouth and makes me smile, my blood pressure drops, and I feel like it’s summer. Is that crazy? Do you feel that way about lemon? Do you have a food that does that to you?
Get ready for a blast of lemon!
This dish goes very nicely with a piece of crusty garlic toast too!
Even my toddler loved these noodles and he’s going through a phase of not wanting to eat anything that doesn’t fall under the category of dessert.
Rare photo of my toddler scarfing down food!
What do you eat garlic toast with? I’m not sure there’s nothing garlic toast couldn’t go with. Italian. Soup. Chili. Stew. Curry. Noodles. Cereal? Probably not, but if it’s after 11am I can’t make any promises.
When I was a kid my Mom used to make garlic toast sometimes; she would toast it in the oven, under the broiler, and then put butter and garlic salt on the toast. I do like to toast it in the oven, it’s easier if you’re making more than a couple of pieces and it just seems more romantic that way – something old fashioned about it. But garlic salt? No thank you.
The most important part of my garlic toast is: GARLIC! I use whole garlic on my toast. Garlic salt and garlic powder do not compare to using real garlic! And why wouldn’t you want to use real garlic? I mean, really?
Instead of butter I use Earth Balance. With Earth Balance there is NO reason to ever miss butter. It’s awesome! Yes, I know they have the whole palm oil thing going on, but they are taking measures to ensure they’re not contributing to the killing of orangutans and other endangered animals. Check out my palm oil blog post here.
- Bread - as many pieces as you would like
- 1 clove Garlic - or more if you're making a lot of toast
- Earth Balance or other vegan butter substitute
- Toast your bread in the toaster or under the broiler in the oven
- Peel the garlic and cut one end off so there is a small flat surface on one end.
- Hold the clove of garlic with the flat cut end against your toast and rub the garlic all over your toast.
- Rub as much garlic on your toast as you like - use a little (mild flavor) or a lot (more intense garlic flavor)
- Spread on some vegan butter with a knife - again, use as little or as much as you like.
- Enjoy your authentic garlic toast!
Authentic Garlic Toast
This recipe (I’m not sure 3 ingredients constitutes a recipe!) may seem obvious, but having been raised on garlic salt and garlic powder I always enjoy eating eating garlic toast this way.
Feel free to enjoy the garlic toast like this or you can top it with vegan cheese, marmite, brushetta, or other yummy toppings. I also like to make this garlic toast and then create a grilled cheese sandwich with it.
What do you like on your toast? What do you eat garlic toast with??
I am in love with pasta, I could easily be one of those vegans who eats noodles every day, in fact sometimes I am. I recently was thinking up my list of recipes for the week and realized I hadn’t had noodles on the menu for at least a couple of weeks (how could this be?)! I’ve been on a soup kick and somehow didn’t notice the lack of soft, comforting noodles. Weird.
I decided we’re going to have a pesto, but I often get bogged down by the amount of basil one must buy in order to make enough to serve a family. I usually grow my own, but we just moved out of state a few weeks ago and I haven’t gotten to the point of growing anything yet. Even when I do have my own basil plant I typically have to steal all of its leaves to make a meal! What I do have a lot of these days is KALE. I hate to jump on any “superfood” bandwagon since there’s a new superfood discovered nearly every day, but we’ve come to love our kale. On Sundays we walk up to a farmers’ market just a few blocks from our house (Kensington Farmers’ Market) and buy 4-5 bunches of kale from a local organic farm. I typically juice most of it, but I think I got a little too much last week – this ends in other kale inventions such as this.
Yummy Delicious Pesto
I’m not saying I invented kale pesto, I’m almost certain I haven’t, but I did just whip it together for dinner last night and it was a bit of an experiment for me. I wasn’t sure the kale would be sweet enough as it can sometimes be quite bitter and/or tough to eat, so I blanched it with the garlic for 3 minutes to soften and sweeten it up. I ended up making a lot, which is great because it’s delicious maximous! We’re having it two nights in a row and I’ll freeze the rest in an ice cube tray for some quick lunches for the toddler and I.
Toasty warm pine nuts
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It may seem self-explanatory or obvious, but I hadn’t heard about water sauteing until a year or so ago. I’ve also had some other people asking me about it lately, so I thought I’d throw this idea out there.
It is a simple and much healthier option than cooking your vegetables in oil on the stove! I’m thrilled to be cutting out 1-2 tablespoons of oil per meal, those calories really add up. Each tablespoon of olive oil is 120 calories and 14 grams of fat – 2 being saturated fat. Fat that will never get to see my thighs or stomach!
I use this method to saute onions mostly, because that’s what I saute most often, but it can be used for most any vegetable that you’re cooking and trying to soften. However, I don’t think this method will get you a nice crispy crunch or sear.
A little boiling water
I can’t give an exact measurement because pan sizes vary, but I use just enough water to cover the bottom of the pan. I heat the pan over the heat I plan to cook over (medium-high) and let the water start to bubble and boil.
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Being a slave to my CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) share, I needed to find something to do with these huge cabbages I have on the counter and in the fridge. They’re gigantic – I’ve never seen a cabbage this big in the grocery store and I wonder if CSA members end up with the oddball vegetables because we also have a HUGE spaghetti squash (more on that later).
Swear the cabbage I used weighed in at 8.2 pounds – I tried using the kitchen scale I have and I got an error message because it was too heavy for the kitchen scale!
This concoction used up a lot of my fresh CSA veggies: Cabbage, Green Onions, Jalapeno, and Cilantro. And it’s so good I’m going to have to make it every few days to keep up with the demand. I know slaw doesn’t seem very exciting – it’s often just a side dish you never asked for that comes with your lunch. Something that looks suspicious at the salad bar because it’s probably been sitting out too long (and certainly has mayonaise in it). I don’t have a lot of positive slaw experiences to draw on, but this recipe makes my mouth buzz! What’s not to like? Lime! Jalapeno! Cilantro!
Cut to a fine to medium shred
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I know, Brussels Sprouts are a cliche in and of themselves – people love to hate them and kids despise them! They’re the quintessential green vegetable that everyone loves to hate. I really think most adults who say they hate them haven’t actually tried them since they were 10. If that’s you, you need to give this recipe a try.
Very alien looking
I didn’t know until quite recently that Brussels Sprouts grew tall on a big stalk. I saw them that way at a Whole Foods a few winters ago and I was blown away. It’s really quite beautiful. Check out the Brussels Sprouts Wikipedia page if you want more information on them. They’re really good for you, easy to clean and prepare, and really scrumptious.
These are fascinating vegetables!
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This is the vegan version of the stroganoff from my childhood, if I may say, it is the improved version since there are no chewy, stringy, mystery pieces of meat; just mushrooms and yummy sauce!
I’ve seen a lot of methods for making stroganoff, including one in a crock pot that makes the house smell amazing, but this one takes only about 45 minutes – including prep time, so for me (a real-world mother who doesn’t have time for a 4-hour cooking extravaganza) this one works out really well. I needn’t plan way ahead or save this recipe for a weekend when I may (or may not) have more time and assistance in making a high-maintenance meal. Know what I mean?
Mushrooms and Onion in the pan – it cooks down fast, don’t worry about an overflowing pan!
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Creamy Mushroom Stroganoff
- 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
- 1 Yellow Onion - medium, diced
- 1 cup Baby Portobello Mushrooms- sliced or quartered
- 1 cup Button Mushrooms - sliced or quartered
- 1 Tbsp Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
- 1 package Mushroom Gravy Mix - I use a Simply Organic gravy dry-mix packet
- 1/4 cup Red Wine
- 1 cup Vegetable Stock
- 1 tsp Sugar
- 1/2 tsp Black Pepper
- 1/4 tsp Salt
- 1/4 - 1/2 tsp Thyme - fresh and picked from the thick stems
- 1/2 cup Vegan Sour Cream - I use Tofutti
- 1 1/2 tsp Ground Mustard
- Rice or Noodles to serve
- If you wish to serve the stroganoff over noodles or rice, please cook according to instructions and time accordingly.
- In a large frying pan, heat the olive oil over medium to medium-high heat and sauté the onion and mushrooms.
- Meanwhile, prepare the mushroom gravy according to package instructions.
- When the onion and mushrooms are soft and cooked down, about 7 minutes, add the flour and stir until it develops into a thin paste.
- Add the gravy, vegetable stock, red wine, salt, pepper, and sugar. Stir to combine.
- Simmer for 20 minutes.
- Mix in the vegan sour cream, thyme, and ground mustard. Stir to combine.
- Serve over rice or noodles.
You know it’s autumn when your CSA package includes huge butternut squash and a big head of yellow cauliflower! What to do? What to do? It’s week 19 of this season’s CSA and I still sometimes struggle to figure out meals to make with all of our vegetables. Combining vegetables into one dish seems to be the only sane way of getting through the veggies before the next delivery comes! I do hate to use a quote from Seinfeld (that was SO 1990′s), but I often think of when Newman said, “The mail never stops., it just keeps coming and coming, there’s never a letup. It’s relentless!” That’s how I feel about our vegetable deliveries sometimes. Just as soon as I catch up and empty the refrigerator…a get another big load to try to cram in the fridge! A delicious and healthy load, but it still keeps coming.
This week I wanted to combine the butternut squash with the cauliflower – and I’m still on a quest to get my family into couscous. What’s not to like? Nevertheless, it’s not a favorite around our table. And pistachios? I don’t know when they’re in season, but they’re always at the store so I figured they could be a fall addition too!
Butternut Squash Rounds
Instead of cutting a squash right in half and then having to clean out the “guts,” I slice it the short way across its neck and then just peel off the skin around the rounds. It seems like a simple idea, given that I hate the slimy stuff inside the squash, but when people see me cut the squash like that, they always seem surprised and delighted. Up in the neck of the squash there are no seeds or slimy spider-webby stuff!
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Roasted vegetables always remind me of big Sunday lunches with my parents and my grandparents on my Dad’s side. For some reason they called lunch “dinner,” that was always a mystery to me, but it was funny to a little girl so it didn’t matter. My only early memories of roasted vegetables were from big family gatherings and always came with a huge piece of meat in the middle of the pan. It also seemed to take 5 hours to cook.
It turns out it doesn’t have to take that long to cook, it doesn’t have to include a hunk of meat, and there doesn’t have to be a big family gathering to make roasted vegetables! I’ve learned so much as an adult, haven’t I? I went probably a decade without roasted vegetables in my life because I didn’t know how to cook that ugly hunk of meat. Strange how some thoughts are blocked by other thoughts that needn’t be in the way.
Everyone’s tossed in the hot tub
This time I whipped out my Crockpot and cooked the veggies that way. It’s officially autumn, root vegetables are totally in season, and I don’t mind having a small heating device on my cupboard all day. Actually, I love coming home and smelling the wonderful aroma of food cooking. As the main chef of the household I rarely, if ever, get to come home to someone cooking food! When I get that first whiff of dinner in the Crockpot I get the warm-fuzzies all over thinking of my grandma making lunch…or dinner…whatever meal it was, it was delicious. Read the rest of this entry