In the weeks leading up to little one’s arrival, I tried to prep as much as possible in regards to food so that even if I was functioning on two hours there would still be something edible. With that, about a month before D-day my mom and sister came up from VA for a day of (in my opinion) fun prepping two dozen freezer meals. While a few of them were some old favorites (stuffed shells, enchiladas, and lasagna) that would just need to be popped in the oven, the rest were variations of recipes I had been collecting and tweaking in order to make them freezer AND slow cooker ready. I read soooo many articles about freezer meals, taking notes on what freezes super well (presoaked bagged beans, tomatoes, peppers, etc) and what does not (coconut milk, sour cream, cream cheese) and special items where the other ingredients determined if it would freeze well (tofu is awesome solo or just with veggies but no sauces). Once I had identified what meals I wanted to try I then set out to make the ultimate shopping list while keeping to a very tight under $10 per meal with each meal making 4-6 servings.
Some of these meals, everything is in the bag and it just goes straight in. With others there are things to add day of (extra stock, coconut milk, etc) or a side dish that needs to be prepped. Like today’s dish, Spinach and Mushroom Stroganoff. This was one of the first dishes on my list and is a variation of my standard stroganoff just with more “green stuff”.
One of the biggest tips I can give is if you are having people helping you make sure the ingredients are set up in a way that flows. This is something I did not do and it resulted in lots of extra work until I put my Lean Sigma hat on (yes, I’m a dork) and figured out how to eliminate a good chunk of the transportation/motion waste that was happening. To get the meals out of the freezer bag, place in bag in hot water for 5 minutes then use a knife to cut a slit along the side of the bag, then open the top and peel back from the corner (if using a zipper bag cut the side the zipper is one when closed).
Welcome to April Group A edition of the Secret Recipe Club! This month I got to go Down Under, as I was partnered with the incredible Claire of My Hobbie Lobbie. Seems rather fitting to get an Australian blog when just a week ago my littlest sister moved to Australia, tho she is currently in Melbourne while Claire is in Sydney. Claire’s blog is stuffed with delicious Indian treats along with more traditional fare, but my stomach only had eyes for the Indian goodies. Palak Paneer, Aloo Bhaji, Chana Dal with Spinach, the list just goes on and on and on! In the end it was the story that went with the Chana Dal, as I loved the idea of taking a bland mash and turning it back in to the incredible dish that her husband remembered his mom making. I wasn’t able to find ghee, so instead I used some brown butter – otherwise recipe is actually as Claire wrote it (converted to US measurements).
This dish was fantastic! I have a feeling it could also be converted to a slow cooker or done in parts in order to speed up the beginning with the chana dal. Regardless, the taste was incredible and was very well received! Another SRC success that leaves me counting down the days til the May reveal.
Trying something new with my site, in theory things should now be MUCH faster and hopefully posts/updates will stop disappearing. Today’s post is a healthier twist on my standard lazy night dinner, a recipe that started back in college as it is easily double and can be made on little to no sleep. Just requires some pasta, a leafy vegetable, and shredded cheese of some form! In college this normally meant thin spaghetti, frozen spinach with onions, and whatever fake stuff was on sale. Now that I have a bit more money, and still no time, I’ve been able to upgrade this recipe while reducing the sodium that goes along with fake cheese and fake (or canned) vegetables. It still comes together in under 30 minutes, so perfect for late nights after work or for a late lunch when the day is slipping away. As a bonus – it’s a green dish perfect for St. Patrick’s day!!!
I’m also sending this over to /r/52weeksofcooking for their hangover challenge as I’m fairly certain the first time I made this in college that was the case. This recipe is also a great way to clean out the fridge or freezer, and no need to stick to just one vegetable!
I’m not a fan of fall weather, even more so when it comes to the season after fall, but I am a fan of many of the vegetables that pop up during these chilly months. From the winter squashes, to the greens, to the delicious root vegetables – the fall is well stocked with delicious vegetables. Today’s treat features a number of those goodies, including some of the last of the produce from the Farmer’s Market at my office. Butternut Squash is a familiar vegetable in our house and it really seems to go with everything. In this case I added some swiss chard, baby kale, and some mashed pie pumpkin (thought the variety was called baby boy but that just resulted in lots of baby costumes) that was leftover from making the pumpkin chocolate chip cookies.
Lasagna will never be a healthy dinner option, and it’s not always the most budget-friendly option, but it will always be something delicious and hearty and fantastic. I figured that if I only make it a few times a year it’s not that bad…right??? I’m sending this recipe over to November’s Secret and in Season, which is being hosted by Katie of FeedingBoys and was founded by the awesome Ren. There are so many delicious fall recipes being linked up over there, I can’t wait to give them a whirl!!!
What to make for an 80s food challenge when I wasn’t eating food for the majority of the 80s…that was the question! Thankfully Google has come to the rescue again by providing all sorts of lists of popular 80s cuisines. After ruling out a number of dishes that would be beyond my skill set to convert to vegetarian living (meatloaf I’m looking at you), I decided to convert something that I had adjusted during my early vegetarian days. While I know that Hamburger Helper, and its friends Tuna and Chicken Helper, are far from healthy – they were easy to make and by switching the beef for mushrooms they were easy to vegetarianize. This time I decided to make one of my favorite helpers from those good ole days totally from scratch: Cheesy Pasta Helper. I debated making the pasta in one pot and mixing in to the sauce after the fact but after my one-pot pasta success last month I decided to do it again! This also made it much more authentic since one of the best things about Hamburger Helper is the ease of making it all in one pot.
This is totally not 1980s Hamburger Helper but it’s got all the ease of that one-box wonder without all the sodium and fat! Plus it can easily be veganized by switching in Diaya meltables, or cashew cheese, for the “real” stuff. Always an important thing to note, most cheeses are not vegetarian due to various enzymes so make sure to double check to avoid a less than pleasant surprise! Another quick note – when using GF pasta you might need to add up to a 1/4 cup of extra water in order to insure the pasta cooks all the way just be sure to only add 1 tbsp at a time to avoid watering down the sauce.
I’m finally back in the kitchen, and hoping to stay upright and cooking for at least the next week or so…but we shall see how that plan goes! I’ve been spending some of my down time going thru old cookbooks and recipe notes, keeping track of all the new things I want to try. That’s one of the best parts of spring, all the new produce showing up at the markets – and being in a new city that also means checking out new to me markets! The spinach in today’s recipe is one of those finds, as are some carrots that wound up going straight in to my belly via dip instead of soup – but that’s okay! The spinach turned the stuffing a fantastic spring green color, and it worked perfectly with the Italian sausage and the simple sauce – perfection 🙂
Normally I try to take a picture of the finished dish, but in this case the finished dish doesn’t look different from any other picture of stuffed shells. The stuffing would also work great inside of ravioli, or as part of a vegetable lasagna! This is a dish all about the filling, which is why I focused on that for my picture. I’m also sending this over to /52weeksofcooking for their soy challenge, and this will probably be the last soy dish on here for a bit since we are still on a low soy diet. However there’s nothing wrong with an occasional treat!
Ignoring the random snow we had yesterday (none of which stuck), I think it might be safe to say that spring is finally here! I am ready for the ground to thaw so that I can start clearing out all the old beds and start figuring out my plan for this year. As far as gardening goes this year is going to be a pot garden, since there is no established garden at our new place and I have no idea what areas of the yard will get the right amount sun – with the exception of the patio. The few flower beds in the front of the house are home to a few types of ivy, both poisonous and non, so odds are nothing new will get planted there until I know the nasty stuff is gone. However the first step is going at least a week without frozen precipitation. Today’s recipe is wishful thinking in that it features all the vegetables that I’m hoping to grow in my garden. From tomatoes to spinach to red onion – this cheesy treat is packing with the good stuff!
I’ll always be a fan of dishes that allow for easy seasonal switches. Garden overflowing with zucchini? Toss them in! Growing three types of tomatoes? Add them all! I decided to stick with the spring greens but look forward to trying a summer variety in the coming months. With that in mind I’m sending this over to the amazing Ren and her Simple and in Season April blog challenge, which is being hosted by Michelle who blogs over at Utterly Scrumptious I can’t wait to see all the early Spring treats everyone will be sending in!!!