Meal Plan: August 9-14

My first week back to work went well, the schedule is pretty ideal for being able to see my baby lots! And how could I not want to see this face as much as possible?? I mean, look at her!
IMG_1623.JPGOk, now to the food!

Saturday: Homemade Ahi Sushi
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IMG_1942.JPGA family from church (thanks Tammy!!) gave us fresh caught Ahi, so what better way to enjoy such a treat than in it’s original state!
We used soy paper, spread sushi rice on the paper, then laid cucumber, artificial crab meat mixed with a little mayo and sriracha, avocado, and green onion. Then we carefully and tightly rolled up the sushi and topped with the fresh ahi.
For dipping sauce we made unagi sauce (equal parts soy sauce, mirin, and sugar that is reduced down). It was SO GOOD!!

Sunday: Ahi Sushi…again
It was so good the first time around, so we had it again!! 🙂
This time we had it with yummy egg drop soup
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Monday: Sweet Potato Zucchini Fritters
So I didn’t exactly follow the recipe…at all…I more used this recipe as an idea, so here is my version!

Grate the following into a bowl:
1 zucchini
1 sweet potato
1 onion
Add to the bowl and mix well:
2 eggs
4 tablespoons of flour
a little salt, pepper, chili powder, garlic powder, and paprika
Heat vegetable oil in a pan. Place a spoonful of the mixture into the oil, saute until brown, flip and repeat. Place the cooked fritter on a paper towel to absorb excess oil.
In the mean time, place a cooling rack on a baking sheet and preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the cooked fritters on the cooling rack and place in the oven, bake about 10 minutes.
I topped the fritters with an aoli made from mayo, garlic powder, ground coriander, dry mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and lemon juice.

Tuesday: Tex Mex Orzo
IMG_1982.PNGThis one pot meal was super easy and delicious! I added some chopped avocado when I served it!

Wednesday: 5 Ingredient White Chicken Chili
IMG_2022.PNGI made a half batch of this and it was enough for dinner for both of us plus leftovers for lunch. In true VanGent fashion, I put my own twist on it by adding a can of diced tomatoes and a bunch of kale…delicious!
I served it with this homemade focaccia bread. IMG_1999.JPGSince I can’t eat dairy, I topped the bread with sea salt (I only put half the salt in the bread), rosemary, and thinly sliced onions.

Thursday: Grilled Veggie Sandwichthi

IMG_2023.PNGThis is always a hit in our house. So easy and delicious! This time we made it on the focaccia I made last night (see recipe above).

Stay tuned for next week’s meal plan!

Meal Plan: August 1-7

Matt got back from his mission trip in Mexico on August 1, so I wanted to make sure he has great meals this week! Plus I went back to work on Monday so I did my meal planning a little early!

Friday: Chicken Parmesan (Matt’s favorite)
20140802-185756-68276573.jpgPound the chicken thin, dredge in flour, then egg, then season bread crumbs. Place the breaded chicken on waxed paper and place in the fridge for 10 minutes (if you skip this step, your breading will be more likely to fall off when you cook the chicken. Then saute/lightly pan fry the chicken in olive oil until golden brown on both sides. Top with mozzarella and then hot tomato sauce. I used my tomato sauce.
I served it with zucchini that I cut into spears, topped with olive oil, basalmic vinegar, and garlic powder and baked at 350 degrees until soft.

Saturday: Pineapple Grilled Mahi Mahi
20140803-193717-70637978.jpgThis was so fun to make! I chose to use Mahi Mahi, but next time I think I’ll try salmon or chicken.
Soaked some twine in water while you prepare the pineapple. Cut the the pineapple so the ends are the same size as your piece of whatever you are grilling. I brushed the fish with a little teriyaki sauce, then sandwich the fish in the pineapple and tie up with twine. This has to grill for a long time, but don’t worry about the fish drying out, the juice from the pineapple keeps is nice and moist! I served this with some rice and fresh pineapple.

For dessert I surprised Matt by making one of his favorite treats…CHURROS! If I had know how easy it was to make churros I would have made them a long time ago! I don’t have a piping bag, so I just used a ziploc bag and cut a hole in the corner!
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Sunday: Corn-off-the-Cobb Chicken Tacos
20140803-195417-71657391.jpgThese tacos were so much better than I expected!!
I cooked the chicken ahead of time (while the baby was napping, since I didn’t know how much time I would have later!). I put olive oil in a pan, browned one side of the chicken, then flip the chicken and pour about a cup of chicken broth in the pan, cover and simmered about 10 minutes or until the chicken was cooked. Once it had cooled a little I shredded for later.
For the corn (a fresh gift from my aunt), I wrapped them in a damp paper towel, husks and all, and microwaved for 4 minutes, flipping half way through.
We had these on warn corn tortillas topped with fresh pico de gallo and guacamole. SO GOOD!

Monday: Crock Pot Honey Garlic Chicken with Protein Garlic Mashed Potatoes with sauteed onions, kale, and green beans
20140805-074248-27768353.jpgToday was my first day back at work so we decided to have a crock pot meal (when I was pregnant I prepared a few crock pot meals and froze them). Unfortunately, with my pregnancy brain I didn’t save the recipe, but I believe it was some combination of honey, minced garlic, soy sauce, ketchup, and oregano. I do apologize!
The mashed potatoes were left over from another meal, so I decided to spruce them up by sauteing diced onions, cut green beans (I used frozen), and kale, then adding the mashed potatoes and sautéing until the potatoes were hot and starting to brown.

Tuesday: The plan was to make sweet potato zucchini fritters but my poor hubby got sick so we had matzo ball soup from a local diner instead

Wednesday: Broccoli Apple Salad
20140806-193651-70611240.jpgI pretty much followed this recipe except I used sliced almonds instead of walnuts and added avocado. I also blanched the broccoli for about 30 seconds in hot water just to take a little of the bite off.
The dressing called for sour cream, so I used the vegan sour cream that I’ve written about a couple times.

Thursday: Dragon Bowl
IMG_1920.PNGI saw this recipe on The Chew. It sounds a little strange…but it’s so good! Matt even said it was in the top 10 dishes I’ve ever made! Sautéed kale and rice, roasted sweet potatoes, fried chickpeas, avocado, fried egg…each component is delicious on it’s own, and even better together!

Meal Plan: July 27-29

My mom is here this week to visit and help out before I go back to work next week (sad day, it’s been so nice being off for 15 weeks!). I asked my mom to pick some of the recipes I’ve been making that she wanted to try, so here they are!

Sunday: Grilled Ginger Sesame Chicken Salad
I know, not vegetarian, but the dressing makes it all ok! This salad could easily be made sans chicken and would be just as good, or use the marinade for tofu if you’d like! It’s the perfect amount of salt and vinegar that you want in a Chinese chicken salad!
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Monday: CauliPower Alfredo
One of the things I craved most while pregnant (and still do) is fettuccini Alfredo. While this is definitely not as soon as the real deal, creamy, fattening Alfredo sauce I know and love, it is a great alternative until I can eat dairy again! It has a similar mouth feel to dairy Alfredo and is thick and creamy, but is made from cauliflower so it’s much healthier! I like to add broccoli to it, but you could add anything you’d like!
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Tuesday:Taco Chicken with Zucchini Pasta
This dish is so easy and delicious, and comes together super fast! I bought a mandolin with a julienne part that works great for making the zucchini noodles! This recipe is with chicken but you could just as easily use tofu or shrimp!
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Unfortunately I won’t be cooking the rest of the week, but here is a bonus recipe! I made this delicious dessert while my mom was visiting so she could try a vegan raw dessert! I added an extra tablespoon of maple syrup to the filling, and also added about 1/4 cup of cocoa powder 🙂
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cheesecake Bars
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Stay tuned for next week’s meal plan!

Meal Plan: July 20-25

Alright, so the plan from here on out (or for now, at least, until we have time to start experimenting again), is to post our weekly meal plan with links to the recipes we are using! I apologize for the lack of pictures this week…I had every intention of taking daily pictures, but a crying baby, my hunger, and my lack of patience kept interfering!

Sunday: Zucchini with Garlic Lemon Vinaigrette
We added grilled chicken to make it our main dish, otherwise it would be great as a side dish!

Monday: Quinoa Black Bean Tacos
These tacos were incredible! I baked shells using Mission Artisan Whole Wheat tortillas (our favorite), and topped them with avocado and vegan sour cream.
With the leftovers I made baked flautas one day (place avocado and filling on a tortilla, roll is tightly, place on a baking sheet and spray with cooking spray. Bake until crispy), and had enough leftover after that to make quesadillas another day! (And there is still more in the fridge!)
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Tuesday: Vegan Crispy Potato Pizza
This was so much fun to make! From the homemade baked potato chips to the beer pizza crust, it was all delicious, and surprisingly we didn’t even miss the cheese! I added thin sliced onions under the chips for a little extra flavor, and next time would add more and maybe a little spinach!
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Wednesday: Spinach Barley Salad
I followed the recipe but used pearl barley instead of wild rice which I think was a great choice because it really absorbed the delicious dressing!
We went to the LA Galaxy vs. Manchester United soccer game and this was the perfect healthy tailgate food because I was able to make it ahead of time and stick it in the cooler!
Tip: the salad minus the spinach was even better leftover the next day!
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Thursday: Grilled Thai Chicken with Coconut Jasmine Rice
This chicken marinade was so good! Next time I would reserve some of the marinade and reduce it to make a sauce to drizzle over the chicken when I served it, because it was that good! It would also be a great marinade for veggies like zucchini!

Friday: BBQ Crock Pot Ribs, Grilled Corn on the Cob, and High Protein Garlic Mashed Potatoes
These ribs are always requested for special occasions, and are AMAZINGLY easy and delicious! (No picture because it was way too good to wait and eat…we are working on our patience!)

All the meals this week cost about $60 and made enough for both of us to have leftovers for lunch the next day! The biggest tip was waiting for the ribs to go on sale and then I had a Just For U coupon on top of that (from Vons)

Vegan deliciousness

As I said earlier, I have had to stop eating dairy while breast feeding thanks to baby girl’s super sensitive tummy! It has been really fun trying new recipes and discovering the magic of turning nuts into cheese, sauce, and dessert!

Here are some of the amazing recipes we have tried:

Entree
Vegan Zucchini Gratin
Taco Chili with Nacho Cheeze Sauce
CauliPower Alfredo
Roasted Garlic White Pizza with Macadamia Ricotta

Cheese
Baked Cashew Cheese
Herb Cashew Cream Cheese

Dessert
Flourless Chocolate Cake (not actually vegan because it has eggs, but it is dairy free)
•and the most AMAZING THING EVERDouble Dark Chocolate and Raspberry Cheesecake

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Have you tried soaking cashews?? Who knew they become so creamy and versatile! Most of the time I don’t even miss cheese! (Although I could really go for some good cheddar on crackers, or a good cheese pizza!)

Also, I came across this recipe for a basic white sauce (can be used for sour cream, dip, sauce, cream cheese, etc, depending on how much water you add):
1 cup cashews – soaked in water for about an hour, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup olive oil
3oz of lemon juice
1-2 cloves garlic
1/2 tsp salt
1/4-1/2 cup water (depending on what you want to use it for, I used 1/2 cup for sour cream/dip)

Combine all ingredients in a food processor or high speed blender. Blend until very smooth. Place it in the fridge, it will thicken slightly when cooled. You can also add anything else, spices, etc!

Been a while! Life with a baby…

Well, it certainly has been a while since we posted anything here! Life has been a little hectic adjusting to a new baby! We haven’t had as much time for cooking, but are starting to get back into it! I have had to stop eating dairy while breast feeding, so that has added a whole new layer of fun in the kitchen, experimenting with dairy free and vegan recipes! We also have been eating a lot of raw foods thanks to a huge zucchini and cucumber harvest from our garden!

Here are some of the things we’ve been eating:
raw pad thai20140722-102943-37783743.jpg
zucchini pasta with lemon garlic vinaigrette
zucchini salad with avocado and edamame
quinoa and black bean tacos

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brussel sprouts with cranberries and barley

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broccoli pesto orzo with lemon and avocado

These meals have been perfect for summer and all of them have been easy to make between crying, feedings, and lots of cuddles! I hope you have the chance to try some of these recipes, many of then can be made in advance!

Stay tuned for some of the vegan recipes we’ve been trying!

Potato Pancake Parmesan

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Growing up, my family established a tradition of eating my dad’s potato pancakes for breakfast on Christmas morning every year. Now that Matt and I have been cooking so much, we are constantly striving to make everything better than the last time we had it, so this is that success! (Not attempt, because this dish is AMAZING!!!). This recipe is a combination of my dad’s recipe (from the Joy of Cooking), Giada, and our own!

What you need for the potato pancakes (makes about 20):
3 russet potatoes
1 onion
1 zucchini
4 eggs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup fresh chopped basil
1 cup Italian seasoned panko

Using a grater attachment of a food processor or a cheese grater, grate the potatoes, zucchini, and onions in a large bowl. Using paper towels or a clean dish towel, soak up any liquid in the bottom of the bowl. Add remaining ingredients and combine well. The mixture should be a little runny.

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Heat vegetable oil in a large pan. Using a spoon or your hands, form the mixture into pancakes and place in the oil (wait until the oil is nice and hot). Cook until brown, flipping once the bottom is brown. Place the cooked potato pancakes on a paper towel to absorb extra oil.

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This is a good place to stop, these potato pancakes are amazing to eat as is. Or…keep reading and prepare to be blown away!

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the cooked potato pancakes on a piece of foil on a baking sheet. Place a slice of fresh mozzarella and bake until the cheese has melted.

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Top with hot tomato sauce, and ENJOY!! It’s an amazing vegetarian version of our favorite chicken Parmesan, but the potato pancakes are also delicious on their own!!