General Tso’s Cauliflower

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Another Lenten dinner, another vegetarian take on Chinese takeout. I actually liked this a little better than the Kung Pao Chickpeas I shared few weeks ago for one reason – it’s a from scratch sauce. There is nothing that annoys me more than finding a bottled sauce you like only to have the company discontinue or change the recipe a few months later. Falling in love with a from-scratch sauce is easier. It will never desert you.

I’ve tried a few General Tso’s sauces before, but this one comes closest to the Chinese takeout we’re used to. I’ll definitely be trying this again with chicken at some point.

GeneralTsoCauliflower

General Tso’s Cauliflower
(from Bakeaholic Mama)
Serves 3

1 large head of cauliflower, cut into florets
2 tsp. sesame oil
1 egg
1/3 cup corn starch
3 Tbsp. soy sauce
Oil for frying

2 1/2 tsp. minced ginger root
3 cloves of minced garlic
1 1/2 cups vegetable stock
1/3 cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
2 tsp. garlic chili sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar, loosely packed
1 Tbsp. sesame oil
1 Tbsp. olive oil
White rice, for serving
Green onions, for garnish

In a large bowl, whisk together the 2 tsp. sesame oil, egg, 1/3 cup cornstarch and 3 Tbsp. soy sauce until well combined. Add the cauliflower florets and toss until thoroughly coated. Set aside to marinate for about 20 minutes.

After marinating, heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet and add cauliflower. Fry cauliflower until evenly browned on all sides. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a separate pan, add the 1 Tbsp. sesame oil and olive oil. Over medium-high heat, sauté the garlic and ginger until fragrant, about a minute. Add in the vegetable stock, 1/3 cup soy sauce, 2 Tbsp. cornstarch, chili garlic sauce and brown sugar. Cook until it comes to a low boil and has thickened.

Add the sauce to the cauliflower and toss to coat evenly. Serve over rice, topped with green onions.


Honey-Lime Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos

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We’re two months into “real food” with Jake. So far he hates every green vegetable we’ve tried but will happily eat his weight in bananas, peaches and pears. It also means that Jake-friendly ingredients are making it into our menus more frequently. It’s a lot easier to cook up some sweet potatoes for him when I’m already prepping them for us – or mash up some avocado while I’m dicing it for dinner. Can you guess what he had for dinner the night we had these tacos?

These are pretty similar to the Roasted Vegetable and Black Bean Burritos that I love. These ebb on the side of sweet instead of spicy (honey instead of jalapeno) so I think they’d be a little more kid-friendly. And adding fresh avocado and pico de gallo on top made them feel more fresh and almost summery. Definitely one of my favorite meatless meals this Lent!

SweetPotatoBlackBeanTacos

Honey-Lime Sweet Potato Tacos
(from Cooking Classy)
Serves 6

1 1/2 lbs. sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/2″ cubes
4 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
1 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. paprika
1/4 tsp. ground coriander
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 14 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup frozen yellow corn, thawed and drained
3 Tbsp. honey
3 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
Tortillas, for serving
Feta cheese, diced avocados, pico de gallo, for serving

Preheat the oven to 425F degrees.

In a large bowl, toss the sweet potatoes with 3 Tbsp. olive oil to coat evenly. Add in the spices and toss to coat. Spread out the sweet potatoes on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake 15-20 minutes, until tender, tossing halfway through.

In a large skillet, heat the remaining olive oil until shimmering. Add the onion and cook 5 minutes, until beginning to brown on the edges. Stir in the garlic and cook an additional 30 seconds, until fragrant. Reduce heat and add in black beans, corn, honey and lime juice. Heat until warmed through and add in sweet potatoes.

Serve in tortillas topped with feta, avocado and pico de gallo.


Buffalo Hummus

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I was lamenting to myself the other day that I had so many recipes bookmarked for football season that didn’t get made – and then I realized it’s March. March Madness is right around the corner! I’m very ready to binge-watch basketball and get annoyed when my bracket implodes.

For fun, I put together a bracket group for Kate’s Recipe Box readers. Click here to join and fill out your bracket once teams are announced. It’s free and I’ll be sending the group winner some goodies!

And if you need some game-watching munchies, this is a great option. I always associate buffalo flavor with junk food so, to me, this tastes “bad” without any of the deep-fried guilt.

HummusBuffalo

Buffalo Hummus
(from Fettle Vegan)
Makes about 2 cups

1 15oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 tsp. cumin
3/4 tsp. smoked paprika
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
3/4 tsp. salt
3 cloves garlic
2 Tbsp. tahini
2 Tbsp. Frank’s buffalo sauce
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 cup roasted red peppers
2 Tbsp.olive oil

In a food processor, combine everything except olive oil and pulse until well combined. Add olive oil and process until well combined and at desired consistency.


Chickpea Puttanesca

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I think eggplant parmesan is the default vegetarian option for most American-style Italian meals. More often than not, that’s what you’ll find alongside trays of baked ziti and chicken parmesan at parties. So, when I start seeking out new meatless meals for the Lenten dinner series, I tend to avoid Italian-inspired searches. It’s not that I don’t love eggplant parmesan, I do, it’s just that it sort of feels overdone.

I was searching for something else entirely when I came across this recipe – and it made me realize how wrong I was to discount Italian options for this series. This was so, so good. Comfort food at it’s finest! And easy enough that I didn’t feel overwhelmed making it after a busy week.

ChickpeaPuttenesca1

Chickpea Puttanesca
(slightly adapted from Mountain Momma Cooks)
Serves 4

1/2 cup polenta
2 cups water
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp. butter
2-3 Tbsp. half & half
3 Tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, quartered
2 Tbsp. drained capers
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 14 oz. can stewed tomatoes
1 14 oz. can petite diced tomatoes
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. dried crushed basil
1/8 tsp. dried crushed red pepper flakes
Salt, to taste
1 14 oz. can garbanzo beans
Fresh basil, for serving

In a saucepan, bring the water to a boil and stir in polenta and salt. Return a boil then turn to low and let simmer for about 30 minutes. If it gets to thick, stir in an additional 1-2 Tbsp. water. Remove from heat and stir in cheese, butter and half & half.  Keep warm until serving time.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil until shimmering. Add in onions and cook about five minutes, until soft. Add the olives and capers and cook for 2 more minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add in stewed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, Italian seasoning, basil, red pepper flakes and salt and stir to combine thoroughly. Let simmer until slightly reduced, about 20 minutes. Stir in garbanzo beans and let heat through.

Serve sauce over polenta, topped with fresh basil.


Black Bean Tacos with Avocado Cilantro-Lime Sauce

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You know how you have crutch dinners you make in a pinch? Like, oh no! I forgot to defrost the chicken! What am I going to do?! nights. This is one of our new crutch dinners. It uses things we usually have in the house and comes together in less than 15 minutes.

They are, undoubtedly, not the prettiest tacos ever but what they lack in looks they make up for in flavor and ease. And since you can make them in about the time it takes to get a pizza delivered, they’re a perfect option for busy Lenten Fridays.

BlackBeanTacos

Black Bean Tacos with Avocado Cilantro-Lime Sauce
(from The Garden Grazer)
Serves 4

1 15 oz. cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup salsa
1/2 tsp. cumin
Tortillas, for serving
Corn and Pico de Gallo, for serving, optional

1/2 ripe avocado
3/4 cup cilantro, stems removed
Juice from 1 lime
1 clove garlic
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. honey
1/8 tsp. salt

In a skillet, combine the black beans, salsa and cumin over medium heat. Warm, stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 5 minutes. Mash about half the beans and stir to combine.

While the beans are warming up. combine the avocado, cilantro, lime juice, garlic, olive oil, honey and salt in a food processor. Process until well-blended and mostly smooth.

Serve black beans on tortillas, topped with avocado cilantro-lime sauce and corn and Pico de Gallo, if desired.


Kung Pao Chickpeas

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Part of Lenten obligation is to abstain from meat on Fridays – so for the Fridays during Lent, I’ll be sharing some delicious meatless meals. Whether you’re abstaining from meat for Lent or just looking to add some new meatless meal ideas, I hope these posts give you some inspiration. I’m so excited to kick off this year’s Lenten dinner series with this recipe because it’s a real winner!

Chinese takeout is one of my favorite Friday night meals – but unlike pizza, it’s harder to do during Lent. Chickpeas aren’t on the menu at our local place but it turns out they make a pretty fantastic substitute for chicken. This meal was one of those times you don’t miss the meat – it was flavorful and filling. Even the often-skeptical husband was a fan!

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Kung Pao Chickpeas
(adapted slightly from She Knows)
Serves 2-3

2 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar
2 Tbsp. lime juice
1 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. coconut oil, melted
1 Tbsp. cornstarch

2 Tbsp. coconut oil
1 14oz. chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 cup kung pao sauce
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
1 inch knob of fresh ginger, grated
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

Steamed rice and steamed broccoli, for serving

In a small bowl, whisk together the first six ingredients. Stir in chickpeas, cover and refrigerate for at least an hour to let marinate.

When ready to cook, heat the remaining 2 Tbsp. coconut oil in a large pan. Drain and discard the marinade and add the chickpeas to the pan, along with the kung pao sauce, garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes. Saute for 6-8 minutes, until the chickpeas begin to brown slightly. Serve with rice and broccoli.


9 More Meatless Dinner Ideas for Lent

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Sharing meatless meals on Fridays during Lent has become my favorite blog series over the years. I love finding new things to try and love hearing that the ideas help others break out of the stereotypical pizza or pasta with tomato sauce rut. And the annual Ash Wednesday post rounding up some of my favorite meatless meals from the previous year has been some of the most popular posts on my blog.

Today is Ash Wednesday so, of course, I’m sharing the annual round-up. And Friday will kick off the Lenten dinner series for this year.

If you’re looking for additional dinner ideas, check out my previous posts: 16 Meatless Dinner Ideas for Lent and 16 More Meatless Dinner Ideas for Lent.

9MoreMeatlessDinners

Bang Bang Cauliflower

Caprese Quiche

Thai Veggie Burgers

Vegetable Minestrone

Crisp Black Bean and Rice Burritos

Sweet Potato, Black Bean and Quinoa Jar Salads

Grilled Pizza

Eggplant Parm Burgers

Black Bean Fajitas


Vegetable Minestrone

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You’d think after the soup swap I’d be pretty much soup-ed out, but nope. The weather here is just too perfect for soup and I’ve been craving it like crazy.

This is a copycat of the Olive Garden minestrone – and it’s a good one. Serve along with a loaf of crusty bread and it’s the perfect snow-day lunch.

VegetableMinestrone

Vegetable Minestrone
(adapted from Cooking Classy)
Serves 6

4 cups vegetable stock
1 1/2 cups water
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced yellow onion
1 tsp. parsley
2 tsp. basil
1 tsp. oregano
1/2 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. rosemary
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp. sugar
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 1/3 cups diced zucchini
1 1/3 cups small shell pasta
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 can dark red kidney beans
1 can cannellini beans
1 can green beans
2 cups spinach

In a large pot, stir together the vegetable stock, water, tomatoes, celery, carrots, onions, parsley, basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, bay leaves and sugar. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for two hours.

Add zucchini, pasta, garlic, kidney beans and cannellini beans to the pot and stir to combine. Cook until pasta is tender, about 30 minutes. Stir in the green beans and spinach and cook a few minutes, until heated through. Serve warm.


Southwest Bean Soup

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This soup was my contribution to the Soup Swap Party. It’s one my Mom has been making for years – it’s really easy and really good.

I generally expect soup recipes to take a while, but this one is super quick. The bulk of this soup is canned beans and canned tomatoes so the faster you open cans, the faster this makes it to the table. It took me about twenty minutes total, because I’m generally a terrible can-opener and was juggling the baby. I’m fairly certain you would be faster.

I eat mine without toppings (cornbread on the side is my go-to!) but it would be good with tortilla strips, cheddar or sour cream.

SouthwesternBeanSoup

Southwest Bean Soup
(from Taste of Home)
Makes 3 quarts

1 large onion, chopped
1 tsp. canola oil
2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
2 cans diced tomatoes with garlic and onion
2 cans vegetable broth
1 can dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can white kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 cups frozen corn
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
1 1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. hot sauce

In a large pot, heat the oil to shimmering and cook onion until translucent. Stir in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until heated through, about 5 minutes.


Thai Veggie Burgers

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For some reason, Thursdays are my power day. I always feel the most together and most ambitious on Thursdays. It’s also the day I make my meal plans for the next week – which is both a good and a bad thing. Bad because I’m often more ambitious with the plans than I feel like being when I actually get around to cooking dinner. Good because when I power through the plans, I often get some pleasant surprises.

When I started making these, I had a what-were-you-thinking?! moment. We don’t generally eat a lot of Thai food. Mark isn’t crazy about peanut sauce. Veggie burgers are pretty hit-or-miss around here. Why did I think these would be a good thing to try mid-week?

Luckily, they were a huge hit. I served leftovers for lunch the next day – bun-less, on a bed of slaw – and they were even better. And we froze a few to break out for lunches during Lent. I already can’t wait.

Thai Veggie Burgers
(slightly adapted from Annie’s Eats)
Makes 6

1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
2 tsp. olive oil, divided, plus additional for cooking
1 cup vegetable broth
1 15 oz. can of chickpeas
3/4 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. paprika
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 egg
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
3 cups cole slaw mix
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
2 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. freshly grated ginger
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp. lime juice
2 Tbsp. water
Chopped peanuts
Burger buns

Rinse and drain the quinoa. Heat 1 tsp. of oil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat, until shimmering. Add the quinoa and cook, stirring frequently, for 2-3 minutes to lightly toast. Stir in the vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Let cook for 15 minutes, then remove from heat and let stand for 5. Remove the lid, fluff and set aside to cool.

In a food processor, combine the chickpeas, oats, cornmeal, salt, paprika, garlic and sesame oil until well blended. Pulse in the egg. Add the mixture to a large bowl and stir in quinoa, red pepper, onion and remaining 1 tsp. olive oil. Stir together until evenly mixed, divide into 6 equal balls and roll into patties.

In a small bowl, whisk together the peanut butter, honey, soy sauce, ginger, red pepper flakes, lime juice and water until smooth. Set aside.

Heat a generous drizzle of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, until shimmering. Add the patties and cook until both sides are browned and cooked through, about 3-4 minutes per side.

Serve the patties on buns topped with slaw, peanut sauce and chopped peanuts.