Tag Archives: vegetarian

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

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

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.


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.



Filed under family

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.


Filed under food

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.


Filed under food

Jar Lunch: crustless quiches 3 ways

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 week’s Jar Lunch is individual crustless quiches in three flavors so your family won’t get bored: rosemary tomato, broccoli cheddar, and pea & leek.

For this recipe you’ll need my absolute favorite jar, the half-pint wide mouth mason jar.

half-pint wide mouth mason jar

These jars are perfect for preserves like jam, but they truly are versatile as you can use them in place of an 8-ounce ramekin for just about any recipe. The bonus is you can see your food from all sides!

Crustless Quiche in a Jar 3 Ways: Rosemary Tomato, Broccoli Cheddar, and Pea & Leek

Makes 8 individual quiches.

butter for greasing jars
12 eggs
1 cup half-and-half
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Filling options (choose one):
Option one: Rosemary Tomato
(this option requires extra prep time)
8 medium tomatoes
1 tablespoon butter
2 cups halved, thinly sliced onions
1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, torn into small pieces
4 ounces crumbled feta


Option two: Broccoli Cheddar
20 ounces frozen broccoli florets
6 ounces sharp cheddar, grated
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg


Option three: Pea & Leek
2 cups frozen peas, thawed
1 tablespoon butter
4 medium leeks, sliced (white & light green parts only)
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme
3/4 cup shredded parmesan

1. Prepare chosen quiche fillings according to directions found below.

2. Preheat the oven to 350° F. Lightly butter 8 half-pint wide mouth mason jars and place them on a rimmed baking sheet.

3. Beat together eggs, half-and-half, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Mix in the prepared fillings along with cheese and fresh herbs or spices listed for your chosen quiche flavor. Using a ladle, divide evenly between the eight mason jars. Though not required, a jar funnel makes this job a little easier.

4. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until set and golden on top. Allow to cool completely before putting on lids and refrigerating.

Preparing fillings:

Rosemary tomato: If you opt for the tomato quiches, roasting will take an additional 45 minutes of prep time. Preheat the oven to 450° F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat mats. Slice the tomatoes, and spread evenly over the prepared baking sheets. Roast for 35-45 minutes, until most of the liquid is gone and tomatoes begin to caramelize. Roughly chop the tomatoes after they have cooled.

Meanwhile, heat a medium pan over medium high heat and then melt one tablespoon butter. Sauté the onions until soft and golden, 7-10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Broccoli Cheddar: Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the broccoli florets, and cook for one minute. Drain well and remove excess water with paper towels. Roughly chop.

Pea & Leek: Heat a medium pan over medium-high heat and then melt one tablespoon butter. Sauté the leeks until soft, 7-10 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart.

Show us your jar lunches! We have created a Flickr pool for everyone to share. What are you packing in your mason jars? Go here to join the Flickr Group and add your photos!


Filed under family, food

Healthy eating on a budget

Since some of our readers are new (Hello new readers!), I added a page to the blog with an index to one of our favorite projects from January 2011. After helping Levi come up with a cheap grocery budget for health class inspired us, we decided to limit our food budget to $5 per-person, per-day as a month long January challenge.

You can now access an index of the day-by-day posts up at the top of the blog next to the “About” page link. Or if you don’t want to scroll up click here.

We still make many of the dishes we came up with during that challenge, and reminisce about how well we ate during that month.

day seven: hulled barley, pico de gallo, avocado, and a poached egg breakfast for 60 cents per serving

day ten: banana & steel cut oatmeal brulee for 22 cents per serving

day fourteen: baked eggs with grape tomatoes & feta for 86 cents per serving

day nineteen: veggie breakfast pizza for dinner $2.10 for 1/3 a pizza

Each day we posted all the food we ate and broke down the cost of different recipes. If you missed it, go check it out!


Filed under food

Monday Meal Planning

As a follow up to my post about meal planning with Pinterest, I thought I would occasionally share our weekly dinner schedule. Using a little bit of Pinterest, some old favorites, and including less complicated dinners to throw together (this week: tacos), meal planning is really getting easier.

This is what’s on the menu this week:

Click here to view the full PDF.

MONDAY: shahi paneer & peas

TUESDAY: kale, cannelinni, & veggie sausage soup (adapting a Rachael Ray recipe so we can use up an abundance of kale from the garden)

WEDNESDAY: tempeh tacos (corn tortillas, tempeh, shredded cabbage & carrot, mole, crema – or maybe avocado and pico)

(Photo via Serious Eats)
THURSDAY: lentil coconut soup with a side of sliced mango

FRIDAY: kale, onion, & cheddar frittata with smoothies (perhaps our own recipe for avocado banana smoothies)

SATURDAY: BBQ tofu sandwiches with caramelized onion & cabbage with a side of carrot sticks

SUNDAY: date night dinner out!

Click here to borrow our dinner schedule template.

Comment and share what’s on your menu this week!


Filed under family, food

Thanksgiving for busy people

I love nothing more than cooking an elaborate Thanksgiving meal with the works. That won’t be happening this year, though. The 911 center doesn’t close on holidays, so I will be working my usual 10 hour shift. It’s okay, I love holiday pay, and even though we won’t make it up north to visit the extended family, I will be home early enough to make a few dishes and join some friends for dinner.

Here’s what we’ll be making:

We’ll be the only vegetarians in attendance, so we’re bringing our own Tofurky. We like the simple roast, without the extras. It’s much better with homemade gravy.

Here’s an old picture of my homemade vegan gravy. This recipe has evolved over the years, and I might just have a few tricks up my sleeve. True story: the day Jess and I met I cooked my vegan biscuits and gravy. It’s on my list to write a recipe zine next year that includes this recipe.

Photo via Real Simple

Of course we will also need to bring meat-free stuffing. Last year we tried Real Simple’s Cheddar and Jalapeño Stuffing, and I suspect we’ll be making every year going forward. Italian bread, jalapeños, cheddar cheese, and lager beer – need I say more?

Photo via BHG

I’m dying to try this recipe for Creamy Green Beans with Crispy Shallots from Better Homes and Gardens. Due to time limitations, we’ll be going for the all-American green bean casserole from the recipe on the french fried onion can. I’m hoping we can try the crispy shallot recipe sometime over the holidays. I love a good green bean casserole. It has to be even better from scratch, right?

Photo via Epicurious

And of course I have to bring some pecan pie. I’ll probably be making three of these, one for work and two for Thanksgiving dinner. I’m going to try this recipe from Epicurious, although I’m omitting the orange zest. I already messed up one dessert with orange zest earlier this year.

A few Thanksgiving links

Wishing you a happy Thanksgiving full of incredible food. Now I better get to the store before they sell out of pecans!


Filed under food, holidays, traditions