Tag Archives: quick meals

Low Carb Lamb Curry–Quick!

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This is not a fancy recipe. This is a “I need to use this lamb before it goes bad and I have a ton of zucchini from the garden and hey, look, there’s a can of coconut milk in the cupboard” type of recipe. It is not very pretty, either. But it was filling and good and I didn’t have to throw out expensive lamb or waste the fruit of my garden!

Quick and Easy Lamb and Zucchini Currylamb curry

1 TBSP coconut oil
1 large zucchini, sliced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 pound ground lamb
1-2 TBSP Bangkok Blend seasoning from Penzey’s
½ tsp ground ginger
1 tsp dried cilantro
1 can coconut milk

Heat a large skillet and add  the coconut oil to melt. Cut the zucchini into sections about 1 inch wide and slice, adding to the skillet as you go. Mince the garlic and add to the skillet as well. Sautee for a minute or two, then add the lamb, breaking up with the spoon.

There was a lot of liquid in the skillet at this point, so I had to stir a lot to get the lamb cooked. You could brown the lamb in a separate skillet and add to the zucchini when done, but I wanted this to be quick and easy, so I just worked through it.

Add all spices and simmer for a few minutes to reduce the liquid a bit. Add coconut milk, bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Taste for seasoning. Allow the mixture to simmer for 10 minutes or so to thicken and blend seasonings. Taste again and adjust spices as needed.

This turned out to be more a soup than a traditional curry, although it was thicker the next day. You could also add a bit of cayenne pepper if desired. Fresh herbs and spices are always better, but this was a quick lunch I threw together while working, so I used the dried for speed and ease.

As I have been making the switch to low carb eating, I have had to change a lot about the way I eat and cook. For a while, it seemed like I was eating far too many of what I call component meals–meat, veg, salad, all separate. I like more complex flavors and dishes, and I like to make everything in one skillet, especially if I am cooking for only myself. This kind of recipe really helps me to feel like I am eating interesting food while staying on the low carb diet that seems to be helping me so much.

Good fast dinner

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I didn’t take a picture of this, but I had to post, because it was fantastic. Also, the girl complained a lot and tried to get me to give the extra plain rice that I made for a future meal, but when she finally tried it, she loved it!

I was looking around online, trying to find all my old blogs on my new computer, when I came across this tahini onion sauce recipe. I love tahini, and I like to use recipes that we can customize at the table without me feeling like I am making separate meals. A sauce that everyone can choose to add or not add is ideal for this. It came together quickly, too.

For the lentils and rice, I cooked up the rice, then added some pre-cooked lentils from Trader Joe’s and seasoned the dish with a small palmful of ground cumin, maybe about half as much dried oregano, and a few shakes of Mrs. Dash Original Blend. I put about half an onion, sliced thinly, in a small skillet with some Earth Balance while I cooked the rice and made the tahini sauce. Since I wanted them good and carmelized, I mostly ignored them for 10 or 15 minutes (maybe longer), just stirring occasionally to make sure it all got browned and sweet.

On the side we had green and purple beans from the garden. Well, not actually my garden, but the gardeners brought some from other gardens they do, and we will be getting the same thing from our garden soon. They told me the purple beans would turn green when steamed, so I made sure the kids looked at them before I put them in the microwave to steam. They were originally a very dark, bright purple, making for an interesting experiment. They did come out green–a little mottled, but definitely green. The kids thought that was fun.

For dessert, sliced watermelon, which is always a big hit with the children.

The girl was convinced that she would hate the lentils and rice, but she loved it. The boy loved it, too, which I new he would. But he was also adventurous and tried the sauce. He didn’t like it, but at least he tried it. I loved the sauce. I could probably carmelize an onion every day and happily eat it, but I think that might be going overboard. The people around me may not appreciate that! But at least I can enjoy some carmelized onion here, without worrying about kids complaining (or having to share!)

La Dolce Vegan

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Man, I love this cookbook! I have had it for a while, but for some reason, I didn’t use it until recently. A couple of weeks ago I got it out and realized that I should have been using it all along, because there are a lot of awesome recipes. I made the fruit dip for a picnic at the local Shakespeare festival, but I have no picture. It was really good, though, and I loved how it was all healthy and still felt like a treat.

Last week I got a delivery from my gardeners with radishes, lettuce, spinach and fresh parsley, so I decided to find another recipe to try. I didn’t find much for the veggies, but I did find a great recipe for some fresh herbs–Peacefrog’s Artichoke Heart Pasta. I used the parsley and some basil from out in my garden. It was so delicious and easy! I did get a picture of this one:

Doesn’t that look delicious? I pretty much followed the recipe as is, although I did use a bunch of grape tomatoes instead of one large tomato, and I just used water instead of vegetable stock, but it was still great.

Tonight I got this cookbook out again, but I had to use a bit more creativity. I made Karen’s Mexican Burrito Pie, but I only had three tortillas instead of the five the recipe called for, and I was out of shredded cheese and pinto beans. I had some sliced cheese and black beans, though, so I used those instead. I think the cheese may not be entirely vegan, and I honestly prefer Tofutti, which is vegan. Next time I will get that, but this was still an awesome casserole.

I can’t seem to add another picture, so I will continue this in another post….

A couple of quick meals

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I read a lot of vegan blogs with fantastic gourmet recipes. I love to see people showing that great meals do not need to center around a hunk of rotting flesh, or baby animal milk. People do some truly amazing things. But in general, that is not me.

I just want to get dinner on the table most nights. I want my food to have nutrition and flavor, but I am not passionate about making it just right or gourmet, or taking a long time. There are so many things I want to do in life, and cooking is definitely one of them, but only one. I want to get good food made in the smallest amount of time that is necessary. Sometimes that is not such a small time, but some nights it has to be fast, or we can’t do it. Here are some examples of fast meals we have done lately.

First, I described my recipe for fast vegan fried rice awhile back, but here is a picture:

Doesn’t that look healthy and delicious? The kids even like it. The boy had seconds and the girl ate hers without too much convincing (although she did try to convince me that she wasn’t that hungry, a holdover from a virus she had the week before–she didn’t complain about the taste, though). Every time I make rice these days, I make some extra so that we can have this later in the week. It is super fast, nutritious and we all like it.

Here is an even faster way to use up leftover rice:


For this one, I used fried tofu I got from the international foods market, along with a canned Thai soup and frozen green beans. I had to add some sriracha hot sauce to mine, but my friend said it was very good.

So, there you have it: some fast to the table, but still flavorful vegan meals. I hope this gives someone some good ideas for quick family meals that don’t sacrifice flavor or your food convictions.

My Backwards Dinner

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The kids are at their dad’s for the night, so I had dessert first. I was really excited this weekend to see the coconut milk ice cream at Whole Foods this weekend. I was looking forward to it all day at work, so I decided to dive in as soon as I got ome tonight. Oh my goodness, was it good! So creamy, no soy taste, just about perfect. I had to stop myself from devouring the whole pint, but I am looking forward to being able to have it again, so I was able to take only one serving and put it back in the freezer.

Why do I get to eat dessert first, when I won’t let my kids do the same? Because I knew I was making urban vegan’s delicious 30 minute Polish meal. I didn’t get a picture, but it was awesome! I added cried cranberries to the carrots, and used baby carrots rather than slicing whole carrots, but other than that I pretty much followed the recipe as is. Oh, and the first time I tried to toast some walnuts to throw in the carrots, I accidentally turned off the wrong burner, so they burned, while I lost cooking time for the carrots. It all turned out very good, though, and I caught it before it got too bad. I had to throw out that batch of walnuts, but I didn’t ruin the pan or start a fire or anything.

I tell you, having my own house is so good for me–the kids weren’t here, but I cooked a real meal and washed dishes, two things I used to avoid when the kids were gone. I ate out a lot, or made sandwiches and left the dishes for the next night. So, healthy delicious eating, saving money, cleaner home. All in all, a definitely good thing!

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Yesterday I cooked twice. I worked from home, so I decided to cook lunch, too, and freeze some of the leftovers. I made the Red Lentil and Cauliflower Curry from Veganomican. I had made it before, but just from what I had on hand when I went searching in the cookbook. This time I actually planned ahead to make it and went to the store to buy all the ingredients for it. It was good last time, but this time it was even better. The parsnip was good–I had only had parsnips once before and I don’t think that was a good recipe. I remember thinking it was weirdly textured and bland, but it really worked in this recipe. I got an Anaheim chili, which isn’t quite as hot as the jalapeno or serrano recommended, because I think the kids may eat some when I thaw out the remainder. I have to warn you, though, they are still plenty hot enough to set your eye on fire if you touch it without washing your hands. I learned that the hard way well after I was done eating, while I was on a work phone meeting. People are asking me questions, and I am trying not to scream while frantically searching for the nearest washcloth to help rinse my eye out, with impaired sight since I couldn’t open the one eye. Not something I recommend. Be careful with chilis!
I had it with some garlic naan from Trader Joe’s. Doesn’t it look delectable?


And for dinner, I made my friend Andrea’s favorite dinner (well, her favorite dinner that I cook, anyway): Curried Stir-Fried Noodles with Vegetables. No picture of this one, but I can assure you it was very good, as usual.

See all these fresh veggies? I feel so healthy! And full.

Stir-Fry

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I went to my dad’s house this weekend, and he invited us to stay for dinner. He offered to make salmon, but while I haven’t completely sworn off seafood, I prefer to avoid it most of the time, so I went to the store with him to see what looked good. After much searching through the store, I came up with the following easy and delicious meal.

Fake Crab and Veggie Stir-Fry
(I know, this isn’t a great recipe name. Let me know if you have a better one.)

1 bag Rainbow Salad mix (shredded hearts of broccoli and cauliflower, shredded carrots and red cabbage)
1/2 bag angel hair shredded cabbage
1 pound AuraPro crab meat substitute
about 1/2 bottle Soy Vay Island Teriyaki sauce

It doesn’t get much easier than this. I put this all in a big skillet, using a wooden spoon to break apart the fake crab. Then I simmered it, covered, for about 10 minutes, until it was all good and hot, and the veggies were tender, but not mushy. I made Minute Rice to go with, because that is the only kind of rice my parents had in their pantry, but I would usually use brown basmati rice.

This was so incredibly yummy, and healthy, and easy. The boy loved it, and the girl didn’t hate it, although she wouldn’t admit to any enthusiasm at all.

Dinner, fast!

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I haven’t been around much now that it is summer, but I haven’t forgotten my blog entirely. It’s just that summer is so much less structured, all my habits change. My children spend a lot of time with their dad (6 weeks, in 2 week chunks), and I am not home much during that time. It just gets so lonely here when they are gone. Why, yes, I do know that I am pathetic, why do you ask? 😉 The kids came back this weekend, though, so I have been cooking again. I am trying to cook up what I have in the house, both to use up stuff I don’t have room for in my storage-challenged new kitchen, and to save some money, so cooking is a bit of an adventure these days.

I came home from work today with no idea what to make for dinner, so I hit the cookbooks. Now, I love my Vegan With a Vengeance book, but at 6:30 this evening, every recipe I looked at needed an hour’s marinating, or 30 minutes on the stove followed by an hour in the oven, or 3 labor intensive components that had to be baked for 45 minutes after they were assembled. So, they obviously weren’t happening.

Next I turned to The Vegetarian Family Cookbook, by Nava Atlas. I’ve mentioned this cookbook before, but it’s been awhile since I looked at it, and I had forgotten just how wonderful it is. I quickly found a delicious recipe that I mostly had the ingredients to make, and I was able to throw together a good nutritious dinner while I chatted with a friend for about 20 minutes. The boy ate well, and the girl didn’t complain too much, which is a victory with her. Of course, I threatened her with dire punishments if she said anything bad about the food—she is always doing that, and then the boy has to say he doesn’t like it, just like his big sister. But, if I can get her to keep her opinions to herself, he almost always really likes what I make. I have to say, if you like good food that is not difficult to make and that appeals to a wide array of people, you need to buy this book.

Stewed Tofu with Corn and Tomatoes

1 pound firm tofu
2 Tbsp light olive oil
1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes (the original recipe called for fresh tomatoes, but I didn’t have any)
3 cups cooked corn (I did one can, drained, because that is what I had)
4 scallions, sliced
1 tsp paprika
Freshly gound pepper, to taste
Minced fresh parsley or cilantro for topping, optional (I used cilantro, yummy!)

Slice the tofu and press between paper towels or clean kitchen towels, then dice the slices into small cubes. Heat the oil in a wide-bottomed skillet until just hot, and gently fry the tofu, stirring, until the pieces are mostly golden. I added the scallions, giving everything a quick stir at this point, then added the tomatoes, corn and paprika, stirred everything together and ground some pepper on top, stirred again, and let it all simmer gently for about five minutes. Of course, you could add salt at this point, but I never cook with salt, so I didn’t. I ladled the stew into bowls and topped my portion with chopped cilantro and more freshly ground pepper, but neither of the kids wanted any cilantro. Very good and easy, we will definitely be having this again!