Tag Archives: vegetarian

Jar Lunch: Polenta with Cream Cheese & Chives

The Jar Lunch: It’s like a bag lunch or a bento lunch, but the next big thing is lunch packed in a good ol’ mason jar. I have to microwave my lunch at work, so metal containers won’t work and heating up plastic has me worried. We often simply fill mason jars with leftovers, but sometimes it is fun to come up with a clever jar lunch and make a big batch. Lunch for the whole family is already packed.

Oh my gosh, it’s Friday! I went to bed last night convinced it was Wednesday. This post was already a week late thanks to a trip to urgent care last week. Everyone is okay, except possibly my gallbladder. We have been absentee bloggers as we’ve moved from one project to the next in our house and yard. Sadly, the blog and garden have been neglected. I do have a new Jar Lunch for you, however!

Sometimes new ideas come about from leftovers. Instead of trying to make a creamy polenta packed with milk and heavy cream, I decided to try stirring in a little cream cheese and fresh chives. It was a hit, and stores perfectly in a pint-sized jar. You can make them ahead, store in the fridge and add your favorite toppings later.

Polenta with Cream Cheese & Chives
Makes six small servings

4 cups water
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup yellow corn meal
6 tablespoons cream cheese
2 tablespoons chopped chives

Directions:
In a medium sauce pan, bring water and salt to a boil. Add the corn meal slowly while whisking. Reduce to low heat and simmer about 10 minutes, stirring frequenly, until thickened.

Turn off heat and stir in cream cheese and chives until fully incorporated. Using a jar funnel, divide the mixture between six pint-sized mason jars. Allow to cool, then refrigerate until set.

You can put just about anything on top of polenta. This week we opted for vodka sauce, sauteed mushrooms, Trader Joe’s Meatless Meatballs, and a little parmesan.

Next time, I’m taking a cue from the store bought tubes of polenta and adding some cooked quinoa for a healthier grain. And perhaps a poached egg on top!

xo Krista

See our other Jar Lunches here.

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weekending

How is it that project task lists multiply? We started with a two-step plan when our oven stopped working.

Step one: get a gas line installed
Step two: buy a new gas range

And then we decided that before our new stove is delivered, we might as well re-do the kitchen floors since you can’t just unplug a gas oven and move it out of the kitchen. And by some miracle, we pulled off installation of a new floor before the range was delivered and installed, although we still had to polish it.

Eventually we managed to get all 7 layers of polish. Seven! But since all the furniture and kitchen gadgets are out of the kitchen (and as you can imagine, I have A LOT of kitchen gadgets), we might as well paint the walls, right?

You would if your kitchen came with stenciled vines and beige and green walls. It seems worth it, but it is hard to squeeze all these projects in between late-spring/early-summer activities and busy work weeks. And I haven’t even mentioned that the painting led to replacing the cheap trim and also removing and replacing filthy caulk. And every single one of these tasks takes way longer and way more trips to the hardware store than you could anticipate. Our house has been chaotic for weeks as a result.


US, Sweden, and Washington flags all at half-mast on Memorial Day

We are SO close to being finished. And we celebrated “almost finished” with a trip to IKEA where we failed to find new window treatments.

Of course, a trip to IKEA means we have to squeeze in some Seattle food, right? Jess found us an incredible food experience in Katsu Burger. The burgers are different kinds of meat or tofu breaded in panko and fried, served on a giant sesame bun and topped with amazing sauces, pickles, or in some cases wasabi coleslaw.

They were the most gigantic burgers I have ever been served. Veggie burgers aren’t typically gigantic. Levi had a curry pork cutlet.

And then there were the fries. Oh my god. We shared an order of nori fries and curry fries with dipping sauces like wasabi mayo and a spicy mayo made with sriracha and magic.

And to complete the meal – milkshakes! Green tea pineapple and kinako cup (kinako, chocolate, and black sesame). Wow.

The perfect weekend is a careful balance of hard work accomplished and some fun. Sunshine and junk food help. And a bonus chicken Instagram (create your own caption, it’s fun):

My weekend still has one last day. Back to painting, caulking (say “caulk” a dozen times in front of a teenage boy and try not to laugh), and mitering for me.

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Jar Lunch: Homemade Pudding Cups

The Jar Lunch: It’s like a bag lunch or a bento lunch, but the next big thing is lunch packed in a good ol’ mason jar. I have to microwave my lunch at work, so metal containers won’t work and heating up plastic has me worried. We often simply fill mason jars with leftovers, but sometimes it is fun to come up with a clever jar lunch and make a big batch. Lunch for the whole family is already packed.

I won’t turn down a Snack Pack, but nothing from the store compares to homemade pudding. Why not pack it in jars for lunch? Add a little whipped cream – even better. Any half-pint jar will do. If you can’t get the wide mouth half-pints, this would be adorable in the quilted jelly jars.

Being huge fans of lemon desserts (Lemon meringue pie! Lemon curd! Lemon bars!), we decided to try this lemon pudding recipe.

If only we had thought of this sooner.

In case you don’t have a favorite pudding recipe, how about a pudding recipe round-up:

Please add your photos to the Jar Lunch Flickr pool for this or any other jar lunches you make!

See our other Jar Lunches here.

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Jar Lunch: Little Lasagnas

The Jar Lunch: It’s like a bag lunch or a bento lunch, but the next big thing is lunch packed in a good ol’ mason jar. I have to microwave my lunch at work, so metal containers won’t work and heating up plastic has me worried. We often simply fill mason jars with leftovers, but sometimes it is fun to come up with a clever jar lunch and make a big batch. Lunch for the whole family is already packed.

Pasta and cheese are not at the top of my list of healthy foods, but sometimes what you need is a healthy-sized portion of something delicious. It’s the whole concept behind many of the frozen diet meals on the market, only better and cheaper. Why not make your own small lasagna portions in wide mouth half-pint jars to take for lunch with a giant salad?

Little Lasagnas with Portobello Mushroom
Makes 8 small servings in wide mouth half-pint jars

Ingredients:
8 lasagna noodles
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1 large portobello mushroom
1-1/2 cups marinara sauce
3/4 cup low fat cottage cheese
1 egg
2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella
1/2 cup shredded parmesan

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350° F.

Cook the lasagna noodles according to the package directions. After draining, rinse with cold water. Slice the noodles in half lengthwise.

Roughly chop the portobello mushroom. If you prefer, you may opt to remove the gills first. Heat a sauté pan over medium heat. Add olive oil and once hot, add the mushroom to the pan. Sauté until soft and browned, 8-10 minutes.

Place 8 wide mouth half-pint jars on a baking sheet. Add a tablespoon of marinara sauce to the bottom of each jar. Fold each piece of noodle back-and-forth a few times and stuff two into each jar, ruffled ends up. Add two more tablespoons of marinara sauce evenly on top of the noodles. Divide the mushroom pieces evenly between the jars, stuffing them down between the folds of the noodles.

In a small bowl combine the cottage cheese, egg, parsley, and garlic. Divide the cottage cheese mixture amongst the jars and spread evenly. Top each jar with two tablespoons of mozzarella and one tablespoon of parmesan. Pat the cheese down slightly so it doesn’t cover the rim of the jar.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until golden around the edges.

Please add your photos to the Jar Lunch Flickr pool for this or any other jar lunches you make!

See our other Jar Lunches here.

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homemade mango lassi

We are smoothie junkies around here, so I don’t know why it didn’t occur to me sooner that we could make mango lassis at home. It also didn’t occur to me that they are healthier than they taste. Instead of yogurt and milk, I like to replace some of the dairy with light coconut milk.

mango lassi
Makes a 1-3/4 cup serving.

Per person blend:

1 mango, peeled and chopped
1/3 cup lowfat plain yogurt
2 tablespoons light coconut milk
1/4 – 1/2 cup cold water
1 teaspoon sugar or honey
a generous pinch of salt
a dash of cardamom

Optional: sprinkle with pistachios and drink through a colorful straw.

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Jar Lunch: Preserved Lemon Pasta with Morrocan Olives

The Jar Lunch: It’s like a bag lunch or a bento lunch, but the next big thing is lunch packed in a good ol’ mason jar. I have to microwave my lunch at work, so metal containers won’t work and heating up plastic has me worried. We often simply fill mason jars with leftovers, but sometimes it is fun to come up with a clever jar lunch and make a big batch. Lunch for the whole family is already packed.

This pasta was created for the sole purpose of trying to eat some of our preserved lemons. I would say both the lemons and the pasta were a success! I paired the preserved lemon with Moroccan olives, which are cured black olives.

Morrocan olives: cured black olives. If you don’t have these available, you can substitute Kalamata.

Preserved Lemon Pasta
Makes 8 generous servings

Ingredients:
1 (14.5 ounce) package whole grain pasta
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium red onion, halved and thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup dry white wine
1/8 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 egg yolks
1 cup reserved pasta cooking water, divided
1/2 cup halved and pitted Moroccan olives
1/2 cup diced preserved lemon (pulp and peel)
1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas
3/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
4 ounces pecorino, shredded

Directions:

Cook the pasta al dente, according to the package directions. Drain, reserving one cup of the starchy pasta cooking water.

Meanwhile, heat a sauté pan over medium-high heat and then add the olive oil. Once the oil has heated, add the onion. Sauté until translucent, 5-8 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté for an additional minute. Add the wine, turmeric, and red pepper flakes. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to low and cook until liquid has reduced by about half and appears slightly thickened.

In a small bowl whisk the egg yolks. Very slowly pour in 1/2 cup of reserved pasta cooking water while whisking constantly. There should be no lumps. Add the egg mixture to the sauce, and continue to cook over low heat until slightly thickened, 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat.

Toss the sauce with the noodles. Add as much additional reserved pasta cooking liquid as needed so the sauce easily coats the pasta. Add olives, preserved lemon, parsley, and pecorino and toss until well combined.

Enjoy!

Please add your photos to the Jar Lunch Flickr pool for this or any other jar lunches you make!

See our other Jar Lunches here.

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Jar Lunch: Thai Peanut Tofu Spread

The Jar Lunch: It’s like a bag lunch or a bento lunch, but the next big thing is lunch packed in a good ol’ mason jar. I have to microwave my lunch at work, so metal containers won’t work and heating up plastic has me worried. We often simply fill mason jars with leftovers, but sometimes it is fun to come up with a clever jar lunch and make a big batch. Lunch for the whole family is already packed.

This is an old recipe of mine that somehow has never made it onto this blog. I love flavored tofu spreads. You can eat them on a bagel, in a wrap or on a sandwich. This recipe would even be good in a fresh spring roll with some lettuce and sprouts. Here we’ve packed it in jars with vegetables and whole wheat flat bread for dipping.

Thai Peanut Tofu Spread
Makes 5 cups (10-15 servings)

20 ounces high protein, extra firm tofu
1-1/2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and quartered
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 teaspoon chili paste
1/3 cup tamari
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar*
1 cup shredded carrot
3/4 cup finely diced bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced (about ½ cup)
1/3 cup chopped peanuts or cashews

Directions:
Press the excess liquid out of the tofu. You can watch a quick video on that technique here. I use two cutting boards instead of plates, slice the tofu lengthwise into two thinner pieces, and wrap them in a kitchen towel to absorb the liquid. This step is important, as you want to get rid of the tofu liquid so it can absorb the liquid you are adding to the recipe.

In a food processor, pulse the ginger and garlic until finely minced. You may need to open the food processor and scrape down the sides and pulse again to get all of it minced. Add the peanut butter, coconut milk, chili paste, tamari, rice vinegar, and sugar. Mix in the food processor until thoroughly combined, about one minute.

Cut or tear the tofu into several smaller pieces and add to the peanut mixture. Pulse the food processor until the mixture is combined and the tofu is chopped into small pieces. Leave some texture, as pictured below:

Finally, put the peanut mixture in a medium bowl and fold in the remaining ingredients.

Though we love this stuff on bagels, we packed a jar lunch with about 1/2 cup of tofu spread in a half-pint jar along with a pint jar of carrots & cucumber and another half-pint with triangles of whole wheat flat bread.

Cucumber rounds are great for dipping.

It reminds me of little Levi in kindergarten getting “carrot cookies” from his teacher in the school garden. They were just slices of carrot. That would make these cucumber chips.

*You can substitute a different sweetener of choice, but don’t omit sweetener entirely as it will throw off the balance of flavors.

Please add your photos to the Jar Lunch Flickr pool for this or any other jar lunches you make!

See our other Jar Lunches here.

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Jar Lunch: Cornbread Topped Chili Leftovers

The Jar Lunch: It’s like a bag lunch or a bento lunch, but the next big thing is lunch packed in a good ol’ mason jar. I have to microwave my lunch at work, so metal containers won’t work and heating up plastic has me worried. We often simply fill mason jars with leftovers, but sometimes it is fun to come up with a clever jar lunch and make a big batch. Lunch for the whole family is already packed.

We make a pot of chili every two or three weeks. If I make a really big batch, Levi will sometimes complain about taking it as leftovers. This trick makes the leftovers a little more enticing for him, especially since we don’t eat a lot of bread around here. At dinnertime, vegetarian chili is usually served over quinoa or brown rice and comes with the works: a dollop of crema, chopped avocado, scallions, and cilantro. Here I’ve put some of the leftovers in a mason jar, topped it with cornbread batter, and baked it.

Use your favorite chili and cornbread recipes. Just put about a cup of chili in a wide mouth pint jar and top it with 1/3 cup plus 1 heaping tablespoon of cornbread batter. Use leftovers that are room temperature or still warm, as refrigerated chili could cause your batter not to bake throughout. As always, a jar funnel makes filling the jars easier. I found that baking time for these is about the same as baking a pan of cornbread. For the cornbread recipe shared below, that was 20-25 minutes at 425° F.

Our favorite online vegetarian chili recipes are Vegetarian Chili with Peanut Butter and Black Bean and Espresso Chili. I’ve included a cornbread recipe you can use below, which makes enough batter to top ten jars of chili. If you have too much batter for your leftovers, bake the rest in prepared muffin tins!

Jalapeño, Creamed Corn, & Cheddar Cornbread
adapted from Alton Brown

Ingredients:
2 cups yellow cornmeal
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
2 eggs
1 cup creamed corn
1/3 cup grated onion
2 medium jalapeños, finely diced
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425° F.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the cornmeal, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.

In a large bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, creamed corn, onion, and jalapeño. Once combined, add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture and stir thoroughly. Finally, fold in the cheese.

Fill a wide mouth pint jar with about a cup of leftover chili (warm or room temperature). Scoop 1/3 cup plus 1 heaping tablespoon of cornbread batter on top of the chili. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Make sure to cool the jars completely before putting on the lid. Refrigerate enough leftovers to be used the next day. Freeze any additional leftovers to be used up later.

Enjoy!

Please add your photos to the Jar Lunch Flickr pool for this or any other jar lunches you make!

See our other Jar Lunches here.

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chipotle mashed cauliflower

Years ago in Vegas I ate the most decadent chipotle mashed potatoes at a buffet. I could seriously eat those every single day, and I immediately came home and replicated the recipe. Since we are always looking for new ways to add veggies to our dinner plates, it occurred to me that chipotle mashed cauliflower might be pretty damn good, too.

It is.

chipotle mashed cauliflower
Makes 4 cups

one large head cauliflower (about 2-1/2 pounds)
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon pureed chipotles in adobo*
1 cup shredded white cheddar
1/4 cup milk

Remove the leaves and chop the cauliflower into small florets. Steam in a steamer basket until very soft, about 10 minutes. In a medium sized pot, place the steamed cauliflower, butter, salt, chipotle, cheddar, and one tablespoon of the milk. Puree with an immersion blender, adding the rest of the milk one tablespoon at a time until you achieve the perfect mash texture.

If desired, you can put the mash in an oven-safe dish and place under the broiler with a little additional cheese and/or butter. Sprinkle with some additional cheese, leaving a small well in the center. Broil until golden, remove from oven and place a pat of butter in the well to melt.

*I always keep this in the refrigerator in a jar. Simply buy canned chipotles in adobo and dump them in the blender, stems and all. I usually puree two cans at once.

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Jar Lunch: Irish Shepherd’s Pie

The Jar Lunch: It’s like a bag lunch or a bento lunch, but the next big thing is lunch packed in a good ol’ mason jar. I have to microwave my lunch at work, so metal containers won’t work and heating up plastic has me worried. We often simply fill mason jars with leftovers, but sometimes it is fun to come up with a clever jar lunch and make a big batch. Lunch for the whole family is already packed.

Shepherd’s Pie is already Irish, but this vegetarian version adds bit of Guinness and is topped with colcannon instead of plain ol’ mashed potatoes. Colcannon is a traditional Irish dish with cabbage or kale in mashed potatoes. I’ve used kale here as we still have it in the garden and it adds a festive green touch for St. Patrick’s Day.

This recipe can easily be made vegan with non-dairy margarine and milk & forgoing the optional cheese.

Irish Shepherd’s Pie
Makes six jar lunches in wide-mouth pint jars.

colcannon topping ingredients:
3 medium Yukon Gold potatoes (just under 1-1/4 lbs.)
3 (packed) cups chopped kale, tough ribs removed
1 leek, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
¾ cup milk
1-½ tablespoons butter
¾ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg

filling ingredients:
14 ounces vegetarian sausage (such as Gimme Lean), crumbled
1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 ribs celery, chopped
2 medium carrots, finely chopped
1 cup chopped cabbage
1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons flour
½ cup Guinness
½ cup vegetable broth
2 teaspoons vegetarian Worcestershire
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
¼ cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

optional topping:
6 tablespoons shredded Dubliner cheese or sharp white cheddar

Preheat oven to 400° F.

Prepare the colcannon:
Peel the potatoes and chop into large cubes. Place in a medium-sized pot and cover with water. Bring to a simmer over high heat, and then reduce heat to low. Simmer about 15 minutes, until the potatoes begin to break apart when poked with a fork. Drain the potatoes, return to the pot, mash thoroughly and cover.

While the potatoes are cooking, bring the kale, leek, milk, butter, salt, and nutmeg to a simmer in a small pot. Keep covered and stir occasionally until soft, 10-12 minutes. Add the kale mixture to the mashed potatoes and stir to combine. Keep covered while you prepare the filling.

Prepare the filling:
Heat one tablespoon of the olive oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the vegetarian sausage crumbles. Cook until browned. Set sausage aside on a plate.

Put ½ tablespoon olive oil in the same pan used for the sausage. Add onion, garlic, celery, carrot, cabbage, bay leaf, salt and pepper. Saute for 10-12 minutes, until soft. Add flour and stir until veggies are evenly coated. Next add the Guinness, broth, and Worcestershire and cook until thick and bubbly, stirring constantly. Add the sausage, peas, and parsley and continue to cook until combined and warmed through. Remove the bay leaf.

Fill the jars:
Divide the filling evenly between six wide-mouth pint mason jars (a little over a cup in each jar). A jar funnel is very helpful for this step but not required. Next divide the colcannon topping evenly between the six jars (just over ½ cup in each jar).

Bake the filled jars:
Place jars on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake at 400° F for 20 minutes. Remove the sheet with jars from the oven, and switch setting to broil.

Add cheese as an optional topping. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon at the top of each jar. Return baking sheet and jars to the oven under the broiler. Watch closely while broiling. Allow the cheese (or colcannon if you didn’t add cheese) to turn golden, approximately 1-3 minutes.

Cool completely before putting lids on the jars and refrigerating.

Next time I make this, I’m doubling it and freezing half!

If you try this recipe or any of the other Jar Lunches, don’t forget to add your photos to the Jar Lunch Flickr Group. Flickr users, please join! Show off your own clever jar lunches.

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