Menu Planning

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Philly No-steak Sandwiches January 24, 2011

Filed under: Main Dish,Vegan — bhrastich @ 2:38 am
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I made these the same week that I made the African Peanut Stew. Man that was a good week. I’m pretty sure Kyle enjoyed these quite a bit for not having any meat in them. I didn’t think I would be able to really make a good vegan version of a Cheesesteak Sandwich, but really, I enjoyed this just as much, if not more than the original.


1 pkg of Tempeh

1/4c Balsamic Vinegar

1/2c Teriyaki Sauce

1/8c Worchestershire Sauce (vegan)

1 Green Pepper, sliced into long strips

1 Yellow Onion, sliced into long strips

1/2 package of mushrooms

6 Hoagie Style Buns

Vegan Mozzarella Slices

Vegan Mayo

Salt & Pepper

Cajun Seasoning

Olive Oil for sauteing

Bring a small skillet of water to a slight boil, submerge unsliced tempeh in water and simmer for about 10-15 minutes. While tempeh is cooking, combine balsamic vinegar, teriyaki sauce and worchestershire sauce in a shallow dish. Remove tempeh and place on a paper towel and pat dry. Thinly slice tempeh and marinade in sauce for about 20-30 minutes or until tempeh has absorbed a good amount of marinade.

While tempeh is marinading, slice peppers, onions and mushrooms.

When the tempeh is ready, heat oil in a large skillet and saute vegetables. Once soft, add tempeh and cook till heated thru. Add seasonings for taste.

Toast Hoagies, spread mayo on, then add tempeh and veggies. Add cheese on top and place under heat again.

The picture above had regular cheese and mayo on it. I’m having trouble getting to a store that sells vegan cheese and just am not loving spending 5 dollars on cheese. I also still have some regular mayo that we rarely use, so I’m trying to get thru that before I buy the veganaise. Again, pricey at about 6 dollars for a pint. But I will make the switch once we run out or it expires. I am trying to just not use the fake cheese and other substitutes since they really don’t provide any nutritional value and really are just substitutes, but this was just one of those meals that I really think needs it! Even if you aren’t vegan, I really recommend this one. Especially just to try tempeh. If you do, I think the mult-grain tempeh is beter tasting than the regular kind. Try it! You won’t regret it!


African Peanut Stew January 11, 2011

Filed under: Main Dish,Soup,Vegan — bhrastich @ 3:42 am

Oh me, oh my. This was a winner! I’m just sad that I had this on my menu for the past two weeks or so and I just now got ’round to making it. I seriously think I could eat this once a week, or maybe everyday for lunch. If your mouth doesn’t like a bunch of flavors at once, this may not be for you. I asked Kyle what his thoughts were on it and he said he couldn’t tell since he wasn’t sure if he tasted everything yet. Not only was this delicious, it was so incredibly easy.

The only thing hard for me is that sometimes I don’t think about making dinner so early in the day, so by the time I should have started it, it’s too late.  While I do menu plan for each week, I don’t necessarily plan a specific meal each day. This allows me to be flexible if I’m in the mood to do a more involved meal or an easy to throw together one or what we may be in the mood for taste wise. It works for us, but just sometimes I do forget if I need to prep eary- say marinade something or like this meal- takes a while to cook. This one I tell you, is worth the wait! It smells so good, I didn’t want to wait for it!

So here it is:

Spicy African Peanut Stew

  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 sweet potato, cubed (about 1 c. total)
  • 1 1/2 t. curry powder
  • 1/2-3/4 t. garam masala (depending on how spicy you like it)
  • 1 t. cumin
  • 1 T. minced ginger
  • 2 t. minced garlic
  • stevia to taste (I used some florida crystals, about 3/4 of a t)
  • dash of cinnamon
  • 1 can fire roasted tomatoes, in juice
  • 1 can light coconut milk
  • 2 c. vegetable stock
  • 2 T. natural peanut butter
  • 1/2 c. red lentils, drained and rinsed (can substitute quinoa, if desired)
  • Optional garnishes: cilantro, chopped peanuts, sour cream or plain yogurt (vegan, if desired)

Add all ingredients into crockpot, cook on high for 1 hour and turn to low for several hours. I used soy yogurt and peanuts, which were amazing on it for garnish. Had I had cilantro, I would have added it, but both Wal-Mart and Hy-Vee were out- bummer! I served this with naan bread that I toasted, sooooooo yummy!


Spinach and Chicken Pasta Salad December 21, 2010

Filed under: Chicken,Main Dish,Salad,Vegan — bhrastich @ 12:43 am

Oh my, this is a favorite in our household. We don’t repeat recipes that often, but this one makes a somewhat regular appearance. This is more of a summer meal, but we love it so much we eat it year round. A couple years ago Pioneer Woman had a give away and to enter it you were supposed to leave your favorite recipe. So I went through a lot of the comments and cut and pasted them to try out. This is one of them. So I have no idea who this comes from. To the creator- many thanks!


1 lb bow tie pasta

10 oz fresh spinach

6 oz bag Craisins

2 15 oz cans mandarin oranges, drained

1/2 c. chopped cilantro

1/2 bunch green onions, chopped

6 oz honey roasted peanuts

2 c. cooked chicken, chopped

Dressing: (you can halve it)

1 cup vegetable oil

2/3 c bottled teriyaki sauce (I have found that I prefer a thicker version like LaChoy opposed to a thinner one Kikoman)

2/3 c. white wine vinegar

3 T sugar

1/2 t salt

1/2 t pepper

Cook pasta till al dente. Whisk dressing together in a large bowl while pasta is cooking and set aside. Once pasta is done, drain and add to dressing. Let marinate 2 hours or overnight. (I prefer overnight)

Add remaining ingredients to pasta and toss. Another option we do is mix everything except the spinach together and then place the spinach on the plate and top with the pasta. To veganize it, crumble some tempeh after broiling and marinate it in the dressing in a separate container and keep the chicken on the side.


Sweet Potato, Tomato and Chipotle Soup November 12, 2010

Filed under: Main Dish,Soup,Vegan — bhrastich @ 4:14 am
This was an interesting one. With some tweeking it could be more suitable for our family. From past experiences in using chipotles in recipes I knew that 2 would be too much and figured I would be safe with one. Well, one was still on the spicy side and there was no way the kids were going to be able to eat it. Granted, the pepper was on the larger side, so I would say a small chipotle could have made it family friendly or maybe a half with some of the adobo to give it the smokey flavor. Here’s a tip when using chiptles- I know a can is pretty cheap, but being the cheap-o that I am, I freeze all the extras. I would even recommend covering a baking sheet and laying each pepper on there to freeze individually and then throw them all in a ziplock. I also save the adobo sauce since some recipes I have call for it. And again, being a cheapie, I saved a huge amount of the little gerber baby food containers with lids and reused them when I made my own baby food. So I store all kinds of stuff like that in the freezer- like tomato paste which I never use a whole container of and any other freezer friendly sauces. And while I mentioned baby food. The consistancy of this soup was a little too much like baby food. My sweet potatoes were on the large side, so I think I would keep it to medium potatoes or just add more broth/water. It was very good served with some whole grain sourdough from Trader Joe’s! I thought it was a good recipe, just needing some tweeking for our family.

3 T olive oil

  • 1 large red onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 3 carrots, sliced
  • 3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 14 oz tomatoes, diced
  • 4 c vegetable stock or water
  • ½ c maple syrup (I used 1/4 c and it was plenty sweet)
  • 2 chipotle
  • 2 t salt
Sauté the onions and garlic in oil over medium heat for 3-5 minutes. Add celery and carrots and cook about 5 minutes, until softened.

Add sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and stock, bring to a boil, reduce heat, partially cover, and simmer until vegetables are soft, 30-40 minutes.

Add remaining ingredients, purée until completely smooth, and serve with a sprinkle of parsley.


Vegetable Enchiladas

Filed under: Main Dish,Vegetarian — bhrastich @ 3:30 am

I seriously don’t know how many enchilada recipes I have collected through the years. And the funny thing is that I think this is the only one that uses an authentic enchilada sauce. The sauce is the key to this recipe. I had no idea that making my own enchilada sauce would be so easy. Never buy a can of the stuff again! This one was easy to veganize for me. I just filled my tortillas before adding the cheese to the mixture.

2 Tablespoons olive oil, plus more for baking dishes

2 teaspoons ground cumin

¼ cup all-purpose flour

¼ cup tomato paste

1 can (14 ½ oz) reduced sodium vegetable broth

Coarse salt and ground pepper

3 cups grated pepper jack cheese (12 oz) (you really don’t need this much cheese and any type will do)

1 can (15 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained (I add an extra can)

1 box (10 oz) frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dried (If I have some fresh on hand I’ll throw some in)

1 box (10 oz) frozen corn kernels, thawed

6 scallions, thinly sliced, white and green parts separated

16 corn tortillas (6”)  (I use flour tortillas, the medium size)

Make sauce: In a medium saucepan, heat oil over medium. Add 1 teaspoon cumin, flour, and tomato paste; cook, whisking, 1 minute. Whisk in broth and ¾ cup water; bring to boil. Reduce to a simmer, and cook until slightly thickened, 5 to 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and set aside.

 Make filling: In a large bowl, combine 2 cups cheese, beans, spinach, corn, scallion whites, and remaining 1 teaspoon cumin; season with salt and pepper.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly oil two 8 inch square baking dishes (I usually end up with a 9×13 and another 8×8), set aside. Stack tortillas and wrap in damp paper towels, microwave on high for 1 minute. Top each tortilla with a heaping 1/3 cup of filling; roll up tightly and arrange, seam side down, in prepared baking dishes.

Dividing evenly, sprinkle enchiladas with remaining cup of cheese, and top with sauce. Bake, uncovered, until hot and bubbly, 15 to 20 minutes. Cool 5 minutes; serve garnished with scallion greens.

From Everyday Food


Homemade Chipotle/Qdoba Burritos July 27, 2010

Filed under: Chicken,Main Dish,Sides — bhrastich @ 8:17 pm

This is a 3 part recipe and all 3 are essential. I saved this recipe for Saturday since I do my long runs then and I typically have little energy to think about what I plan on making for dinner, let alone make it! These recipes took very little effort and by the taste of the burrito, one would think much more effort was put into it.

First up: Sweet and Spicy Chicken

Use how ever many chicken breasts you think you will need and adjust ingredients accordingly, I used 3 and it was enough for our dinner and leftovers

Place the chicken in the bottom of the crock pot. In a small bowl, combine 1 can diced tomatoes, drained, 1/3 cup brown sugar and red pepper flakes. Pour over the chicken. Cover the slow cooker and cook on high for 4-6 hours or on low for 8-9 hours. Remove the chicken to a cutting board and shred with two forks. Return to the slow cooker and mix the chicken with the juices from the tomato/brown sugar sauce. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Next time I think I will omit the red pepper flakes and subsitute a diced chipotle pepper for the spice.

Next up: Cilantro Lime Rice

1 cup long grain rice (I used Basmati and it worked beautifully)
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons water, divided
½ cup fresh cilantro
2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 clove garlic, chopped

Combine the rice and 2 cups water  in a medium saucepan set over medium-high heat.  Bring to a boil, stir briefly, cover and reduce the heat to low.  Let cook, covered, until the water is absorbed and rice is fluffy and tender, according to package directions

While the rice is cooking, combine the cilantro, lime juice, olive oil, garlic and 2 tablespoons water in a blender or food processor.  Blend until smooth.  Stir the mixture into the cooked rice and fluff with a fork.  

 And finally: Spicy Citrus Black Beans

2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
pepper, chopped or minced (bell, Anaheim or jalapeno depending on your taste) (I think I used red bell pepper)
½-1 cup reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable broth (I used a full cup and think I would use closer to the 1/2c next time)
1½ tsp. dried oregano
2 bay leaves
½ tsp. salt
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 tsp. pureed chipotles in adobo
1½ tsp. ground cumin
¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
Juice of 2 limes (added lime zest – optional)
1 tbsp. white wine vinegar

 Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Sauté the onion and pepper until tender, about 5-7 minutes.   Add the garlic and sauté just until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Stir in the beans.  Mix in broth (more or less depending on how much liquid you would like) and bring to a simmer.  Mix in the oregano, bay leaves, salt, chipotle puree, cumin, orange juice, lime juice and vinegar.  Once simmering, reduce to medium-low or low and let simmer, covered, 20-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.  

So to wrap it up…haha

Take a warm tortilla and layer the rice, then beans, then shredded chicken, a little sour cream if you desire or some shredded cheese. Wrap it up and enjoy. We had a good amount of left overs and they were gobbled up right away. I wonder if I could assemble these, wrap in seran wrap and freeze? Hmmmm. I can’t wait to make them again. Seriously so good. I really think it’s the rice that made them extra special. I love recreating restaurant favorites, maybe it’s because I can control the fat and calories that go into them, and keep my portion size in check, which makes it feel that much healthier, and probably cheaper!

I totally forgot to mention where I got these recipes. The Rice and Beans are from Annie’s of course and the chicken is from Sisters Cafe at


Herb Rubbed Chicken in Creamy Orzo July 12, 2010

Filed under: Chicken,Main Dish,Uncategorized — bhrastich @ 8:03 pm

Here’s another fab recipe from Annie’s Eats. I really need to post some recipes other than ones from Annie’s. Maybe one day I’ll get there. This meal is probably on my top 10. It’s rather easy and other than the Herbes de Provence, uses very basic pantry staples (well, I don’t usually have heavy cream, but it is an easy to find!) This is a great meal for any time of year and pairs well with a nice red wine. I’m making this one tonight, maybe I’ll even remember to take a picture and post later! …..don’t hold your breath!


Herb-Rubbed Grilled Chicken with Creamy OrzoIngredients:
8 oz. orzo pasta, uncooked
2 chicken breasts, butterflied into halves (4 pieces total)
Salt and pepper
2 tsp. Herbes de Provence
2 tbsp. olive oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, with juices
2 cups broccoli florets
½ cup heavy cream
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese 

Bring a saucepan of salted water to boil.  Add the orzo and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, about 10 minutes.  Drain the pasta, reserving ½ cup of the pasta water. 

Season both sides of the chicken breast halves with salt and pepper.  Sprinkle evenly with the Herbes de Provence.  Heat the olive oil in a 12- or 14-inch skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the chicken breast halves to the pan and cook about 3 minutes per side, until golden brown.  Reduce the heat to medium, add the shallot to the pan and sauté 2-3 minutes.  Add the garlic and sauté an additional minute, until fragrant.  Add the diced tomatoes with juices and the broccoli florets to the pan, scraping the bottom of the pan to remove any browned bits.  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to simmer over medium-low.  Cover and let cook until the broccoli florets are crisp-tender, about 10 minutes.  Stir in the cooked orzo, heavy cream and Parmesan cheese.  Mix until well blended and the cheese has melted.   If necessary, add some of the reserved pasta water to smooth out the sauce.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve immediately.