Three (Almost) No Prep Vegetarian Dinners

Sometimes life just feels as though it is moving too fast. Well, ok . . . maybe that’s most of the time (to me, anyway). On those weeks when I have not been a dutiful meal planner and have not created a detailed list of groceries, dinners can become quite chaotic in the Cozy and Sage household. I am a diehard believer in the power of planning (meals and everything else), but when I do fall off the wagon, these are some of the meals that save our family dinners.

Note: One challenge in preparing vegetarian meals for my family is ensuring the meal contains enough protein. Canned beans have become an easy, healthy go-to solution for us; thus, all of the recipes below use some form of canned bean.

Baja Potatoes

baja potato

  • 2-4+ baking potatoes (depending on the number of individuals you are feeding)
  • 1 can black beans (mostly drained)
  • shredded cheese
  • chopped tomatoes
  • sour cream
  • salsa
  • Adobo seasoning
  • chopped onions (if desired)

When I’m running late and dinner needs to be fast, I love to throw a few washed and pricked baking potatoes in the microwave. After those are done, I microwave the black beans for about 2 minutes with some of the Adobo seasoning and about a quarter of a cup of chopped onions (optional) stirred in. Then I simply set the potatoes and the toppings out on the table and allow folks to dig in!

(Simple) Red Beans and Rice

simple red beans and rice

  • 1 bag frozen rice steamer bag (I use frozen brown rice steamer bags from my local Kroger)
  • 1 can dark red kidney beans (drained)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (half-drained…leave a little juice)
  • salt, pepper, cumin, onion powder (or garlic powder) to taste

First, I toss my bag of frozen brown rice into the microwave and cook. (Sometimes I am super ambitious and make my own frozen bags of rice ahead of time, but I usually resort to store-bought. Just being honest.) After the rice is done, I combine the beans, tomatoes (with a little of the fluid), and my desired spices, then microwave the beans for about 2 minutes. When done, stir the rice and beans together in a large bowl and serve. Et Viola! Dinner is served!

(Effortless) Chickpea Salad

chickpea salad

  • 1 can of chickpeas (drained)
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cucumber, chopped
  • 1/2 small red onion, chopped
  • 6 ounces crumbled feta or goat cheese (goat cheese makes for a creamier dressing)
  • favorite Italian dressing, added to taste (our favorite is the Kraft Tuscan House Italian)

Chop, chop, chop!  Toss everything in a bowl, stir, and serve. It doesn’t get any easier than this, folks! This is an especially nice dinner for hot summer evenings (and a handy side dish for other meals, too).

While it’s true I use a microwave to cook most of these meals (because I am almost always in a rush), they can be prepared in an oven/on a stove top as well. Just FYI.

I hope this post is helpful and thanks so much for stopping by! Stay cozy!

Lentil and Spinach Soup

Fall is approaching, if ever so slowly where I am. The chill that’s beginning to creep in makes me long for soft, fuzzy blankets, good books read by a fire, and belly filling, soul-warming soups. Now is the time I bring out my giant, battered, decade-old soup pot and begin concocting.

Soups are wonderful for so many reasons, not the least of which are their ease and simplicity. They can come in so many varieties and forms, so as to suit any taste. They are generally economical to make, and can also be scaled to feed any number of guests. Paired with a warm loaf of bread, crackers, or a squat, buttery biscuit, they can become a hearty and robust meal, or light fare, when enjoyed solo.

I have recently become quite enamored with lentils. Firstly, they are extremely nutritious, with one cup of cooked lentils boasting 16 grams of fiber and 18 grams of protein. They also cook up extremely quickly as compared to other dry legumes; they are quite economical as well. Additionally, they are extremely versatile and pair rather well with various cuisines and flavors.

lentil and spinach soup

Lentil and Spinach Soup

1 cup of dry lentils

1 can of diced, stewed tomatoes

6 cups of broth of your choice

pinches of oregano and ginger, to taste

1/4 cup olive oil

2-3 dense handfuls of fresh, cleaned spinach leaves

In a soup pot, combine broth, diced tomatoes, dry lentils and spices. Bring to a boil and cook for approximately 20 minutes on medium-high heat, adding olive oil at about the 10 minute mark. After 20 minutes, or when the lentils are soft, add the fresh spinach and simmer the soup for an additional 10  minutes. This recipe could easily be made vegetarian with a vegetarian broth.

Serve with crusty bread or flavorful crackers. This recipe is simple to prepare and can be the perfect accompaniment to a chilly autumn evening.

Enjoy, and stay cozy!

Cheater Vegetarian Enchiladas

We love Mexican food in my house! At any given moment, we are guilty of having various types of salsas in the refrigerator, beans in the cupboard, and a diverse assortment of tortillas lurking in the breadbox (whole wheat, flour, spinach, etcetera), ready for any Mexican-inspired craving. We prefer authentic, of course, but when we don’t have the time or inclination to go out, we attempt something simple and fast at home. This particular recipe was actually pioneered by my husband and son on a busy night years ago (I just added more cheese).

vegetarian enchilada

cheater vegetarian enchilada

This recipe is about as simple as it gets. It might appear time-consuming at first glance, but honestly the preparation only takes about ten minutes at the very most. Most of the production is already completed by using a premade enchilada sauce. (Note: not all enchilada sauces are created equal, and because this recipe depends heavily on the sauce for its flavor, try to choose the best one available to you.)

This recipe is versatile in that it can be easily doubled or tripled if you have a large crowd to feed; just make sure you have a large enough pan! It can also be a quite economical meal if you purchase generic items or some items in bulk.

enchiladas in pan

vegetarian enchiladas in the pan

Cheater Vegetarian Enchiladas

6-10 tortillas (depending on the size of your pan)

1 can of vegetarian refried beans

2 cups of shredded cheese (we prefer sharp cheddar)

1 can of premade enchilada sauce

Start by lightly greasing a 9×13 baking pan (I usually use a Pyrex-type glass dish), or larger depending upon the number of enchiladas you want to assemble. Place a tortilla on a clean, flat surface and spread a spoonful of refried beans (roughly 1/4 cup per enchilada) along the middle. Top the beans with a sprinkle of cheese (retaining some for the topping), roll up somewhat tightly, and place in baking dish. Repeat for desired number of tortillas and nestle each enchilada next to one another in the pan. Open and pour your favorite enchilada sauce over the top and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 20 minutes (until cheese is melted and any exposed tortilla is slightly crispy).

enchiladas 2

cheater vegetarian enchilada

If you wanted to get a little fancy, it might be nice to include some grilled or oven-roasted vegetables in them. Of course, these could be made with meat if desired; however, meat should be completely cooked prior to assembling the enchiladas.

Serve with preferred toppings and sides; we like sour cream, some Spanish-style rice, and some of our various salsas. Enjoy!

What do you like to make on a busy weeknight?

Stay Cozy!

Simple Pan Fried Zucchini

I spent my early childhood in an area that is notoriously green. It is the kind of place where you can drop a seed in a pile of dirt, walk away for several months and find a huge, green, vegetable-bearing plant in its place. I have such fond memories of my childhood, most of which are associated with either the green backdrop of the area, or the many foods which it produced.

At least four generations of my family have fried zucchini in the following fashion. It is not complicated or unique, but it is one of my favorite dishes, ever. Though I make it myself today, no one has ever made it better than my precious mother. I remember being very young, at her side, watching her cook, and waiting impatiently for the little circles of fried goodness to be done. My father and I would devour them almost as soon as they popped off the pan, lured by their savory taste and smooth, yet crispy texture. Even today, the smell and taste of this recipe take me back to days of yore.

fried zucchini squash

Simple Pan Fried Zucchini

2-3 medium to large zucchini

2 eggs, beaten

1 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

salt and pepper

1/4 -1/2 cup olive oil

First, slice the zucchini to desired thickness. Remember that thicker slices will retain more moisture and therefore be “juicier” while thin slices will crisp up better. Keep the beaten egg and flour in separate bowls. I like to season this recipe twice (once in the flour and once in the pan), so I add some salt and pepper to the dry flour and mix. Submerge zucchini slices in the beaten egg and allow to soak for a moment, then move each slice to the flour and coat thoroughly. In a large frying pan on medium heat, add some olive and fry both sides of zucchini slices to desired doneness. Season again with salt and pepper during frying as you see fit. Between batches you may have to add additional olive oil.

This dish is best served immediately! These little circles of delightfulness can become cold and mushy given too much time on the plate. I usually set them out as they are being cooked so as not to let too much time pass. I sometimes serve them as part of a meal, though many times they become the meal themselves, and the act of cooking transforms into a social event with people commuting between conversation, watching the process, and waiting for each batch to finish.

fried zucchini squash plated

Yum!

I will admit that although this is a very simple recipe, it can also be a very time-consuming one. Therefore, rather than doing it for a proper dinner, I usually make it a late afternoon “event” that generally replaces dinner. Crudités and cocktails (or mocktails, for the little ones) generally round out the fare nicely.

Do you like zucchini? What are your favorite late summer recipes?

Enjoy, and stay cozy!

Cozy and Sage Herbal Lime Rickey

Since we’re still experiencing some pretty warm temperatures where I am, I thought I would offer up one more refreshing (and refreshingly easy) beverage recipe for these late summer afternoons.

Growing up in the west I have imbibed in many versions of the “Lime Rickey” (non-alcoholic, of course). Some were definitely better than others, but because of the inclusion of lime I think, they have all been invigorating in the hot summer months. I understand that the Lime Rickey has had a long and illustrious history as both a soda fountain favorite as well as an “adult” beverage. Here I’ve tried to put my own spin on it and create something that is both satisfying and sophisticated enough for the adults, and fun for the kids as well.

lime rickey 2

Cozy and Sage Herbal Lime Rickey

3 to 4 leaves of sage (or your favorite herb)

2-3 tablespoons of frozen white grape juice concentrate

Juice of 1/4 lime (and a slice for garnish, if desired)

Seltzer water (may use ginger ale, though it may mask some of the herbal flavor)

Ice

Muddle the leaves of herb along the white grape juice concentrate in the bottom of your favorite glass. Add lime juice and seltzer and stir gently. Finally, add in ice and garnish as desired. To make this a “tipsy” Herbal Lime Rickey, add 1 ounce of gin before adding seltzer (adults only please). If the bits of leaves in a muddled beverage are bothersome to you, consider straining the mixture or using a straw.

lime rickey 1

And there you have it, another cooling potation that’s not too sweet or cloying to keep those late summer afternoons from being overly balmy (even when they are).

Stay cozy (and cool), cheers!

 

Super Simple Chicken Burrito Bowl

It’s happened again, I’ve gotten off late from work and arrived home only to have no idea what to make for dinner. With a hungry spouse and a ravenous child (and a growling belly myself) waiting for me, what can I prepare that’s super easy, quick, and healthy?

Enter my latest creation, the Super Simple Chicken Burrito Bowl! (Otherwise known as what I threw together in a moment of hangry panic at a time when we happened to have some produce but no tortillas on hand…alas, I digress…)

chicken burrito bowl

Super Simple Chicken Burrito Bowl

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken, chopped into bite-sized pieces (I prefer thighs, but any cut will do)

1 can of black beans

1 bag (2 cups) of frozen steamer-bag brown rice (or you can make your own)

1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

Adobo seasoning to taste (I like Goya’s)

Goya Adobo

2 tomatoes, chopped

1 avocado, chopped

In a large frying pan, sauté chicken in olive oil and add Adobo. Once fully cooked, add black beans and cooked rice. Stir mixture over low heat until combined; add Adobo to taste.  Top with tomatoes and avocados.

This meal was so quick to prepare, in part due to the steamer bag of rice. It was hearty enough and healthy enough to satiate a busy family on a hectic weeknight as well. Speed and nutrition are hallmarks of simple food in my opinion.

If you decide to try it I hope you enjoy!

Stay cozy!

 

 

My Simplest Dinner Plan

 

Over the course of a decade I have developed a few VERY simple dinner plans that are both a breeze to prepare and mostly nutritious.

This meal includes a protein, a carbohydrate (our household nutrition needs demand one), and a green vegetable (yes, I insist it must be green).

Tonight I cooked some boneless pork chops in a skillet with olive oil, salt, and pepper. I steamed some simple white rice (though I usually prefer jasmine or brown) and used a steamer bag of mukimame. This meal, especially with the help of the steamer bag, took 20 minutes to prepare, tops!

simple meal

I added my favorite Hoisin sauce tonight as well- Soy Vay Garlic Hoisin, yum! There are countless ways to modify this meal plan, below are our favorites.

Simplest Dinner Plan(s)

Protein– pork, chicken, beef, or veggie patty sautéed in frying pan with your choice of oil and salt and pepper.

Carbohydrate (optional)- rice (traditional or steamer bag), sweet potato done in the microwave, couscous, or quinoa.

GREEN vegetable– I don’t care what it is as long as it’s a vegetable and it’s green (I often let my son choose for us).

I find this to be an easy formula on nights when I just don’t know what to make for dinner or if I have very little time. I adore the simplicity of it in preparation as well as flavors; although, I do sometimes add any sauces we happen to have on hand when I need to jazz it up a bit.

Hope this is helpful! Stay cozy.