How do we make it meatless and still enjoy our meal?  The latest food guide at MyPyramid.gov is still based on grain foods, but now it recommends from nine to thirteen servings of fruits and veggies a day along with more servings of legumes, dried beans and peas, lentils and the like. It’s not an impossible task to make it meatless, not if you combine several items in a single dish.

make it meatless

For dinner, it’s easy to make a nutritious meatless casserole with a grain and assorted vegetables. With the exception of soy foods, though, the protein of plant foods is incomplete. So, for good nutritional balance, many casseroles also include an animal protein food, such as eggs. In addition to providing the highest quality protein next to mother’s milk, eggs are nutrient-dense, their nutrient total is high compared to their calorie count.

In Rice, Bean & Veggie Casserole you have one of the best ways to make it meatless, using eggs to bind together a short list of have-on-hand ingredients. You can layer the minimal-prep casserole in almost no time one evening, refrigerate it and pop it into the oven when you arrive home the next day. For the rice base, cook the instant variety or make good use of what’s left over from take-out. With handy bottled salsa, any hotness level your family prefers, a can of beans and corn, all you need to do from scratch is chop some colorful peppers. Simply beat the eggs, then add the shredded cheese before layering it into the casserole. To round out a no-fuss meal, add only a tossed green salad to the flavorful, hearty entree.

Rice, Bean & Veggie Casserole

6 servings

Cooking spray

6 eggs

1 cup (4 oz.) shredded reduced-fat Monterey Jack cheese

3 cups cooked rice (1 cup raw)

1 jar (16 oz.) thick and chunky red salsa, divided

1 can (15 oz.) red kidney or black beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup whole kernel corn (about 3 oz.)

1 cup chopped green, yellow and/or sweet red pepper (about 5 oz. or 1 medium)

Evenly coat 11 x 7 x 2-inch baking pan with spray. Set aside. In medium bowl, beat together eggs and cheese. Stir in rice. Pour into prepared pan. Smooth with back of spoon or gently shake pan to spread rice mixture evenly in pan. Gently spread 1 cup of the salsa over rice mixture. In medium bowl, stir together beans, corn and pepper. Evenly spoon bean mixture over salsa. Drizzle remaining 1 cup salsa over bean mixture.  Add a layer of cheese on the top and place into the oven.

Bake in preheated 350 degree F oven until casserole is puffed and begins to pull away from sides of pan and knife inserted near center comes out clean, about 55 to 60 minutes.

Making it meatless from time to time, will not only save you money but improve your health by incorporating more veggies into your diet.

Nutritional information per serving of 1/6 recipe using kidney beans and red pepper: 334 calories, 10 gm total fat, 226 mg cholesterol, 815 mg sodium, 346 mg potassium, 42 gm carbohydrate, 19 gm protein and 10% or more of the RDI for vitamins A, B12 and C, niacin, riboflavin, thiamine, iron, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, dietary fiber.

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Potatoes are one of my favorite vegetables. You can do so many things with them.  Baked, Fried, or Hashed, they are simply one of the best all around food items.  This wonderful simple soup recipe will delight anyone who eats it, give it a try on a cold Autumn night.

You will need:

4 Cups of Chicken Broth

1 ½ Cup of Whole Milk

2 to 2 ½ Cups of Potatoes, cubed

¼ Cup Celery, thinly sliced

¼ Cup Carrots, thinly sliced

½ Cup Sweet White Onions

¾ Teaspoon of Salt

¼ Teaspoon of White Pepper

4 Ounces of Cream Cheese, room temperature, cut into one inch pieces

1 Tablespoon Corn Starch

1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

Add the oil to a six quart soup pot, heating it over medium high heat.

When the oil gets hot, add the carrots, onions, and celery. Cook for two – three minutes while stirring. Turn the heat down to simmer.

Add the chicken broth, potatoes and spices, cooking until the potatoes are fork tender [about 10 minutes].

Add 1 Cup of the milk, while stirring, to avoid curdling. When the milk has reached the same temperature as the cooking soup, drop in the cream cheese, allowing it to melt for a couple of minutes before stirring the soup,once more.

Taste the mixture to be sure you do not need to add more salt or pepper.  If more is needed, do so now.

Add the corn starch and the rest of the milk to a small bowl and mix well.

Slowly pour the mixture into the hot soup, stirring, until the soup thickens. Reduce the heat to warm and allow the soup to cool.

Serve with a good hardy bread or an assortment of crackers.

  • Options:

[1] Top with your favorite shredded cheese.

[2] Slice a couple green onions and sprinkle on top.

[3] A couple tablespoons of Bacon Bits will add lots of extra flavor.

[4] Add a pinch or two of Red Pepper Flakes to the cooking soup, to add a little kick to the soup.

[5] Float a pat of butter on top of the hot soup.

If you’re looking for a meatless meal that satisfies, look no further. This isn’t an exact recipe, it lets you choose your favorite vegetables, herbs and spices.  Instead it is meant to inspire you for your next veggie only meal.

Preheat your oven to 350 F. Then open your refrigerator and see what is in the vegetable draw.  Choose your favorites and begin chopping up some veggies.  Next add some herbs, such as, Basil, Cilantro, Oregano or mint.  Drizzle with Olive Oil, then lightly toss.  Add a pinch or two or my favorite spices, salt and pepper, lightly mix to mingle the flavors.  Using two pieces of foil, [or as many as you need] divide the vegetables and place on the foil, folding them into small pouches.  Place on a cookie sheet and bake for about 20 minutes for a hot crunchy texture or 35 minutes for a completely cooked meal. 

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In this photo, we have pattypans, peppers, onions and tomatoes with basil, parsley and oregano.  You can also add, fresh mushrooms, eggplant, garlic and plenty of other veggies.  Most will work well in this little quick and easy [no] recipe meatless meal.

Take care when opening the pouch as steam can burn fingers and noses, if gotten too close.  The aroma will be amazing but don’t stop there, add a drizzle of your favorite balsamic reduction or soy sauce, then serve over rice, pasta, Quinoa or just have it by itself.  With all the flavors and texture of this meatless meal you will not miss the meat at all.

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If you prefer your food grilled, this [no] recipe can be done on your grill, also.  Just be sure to use one of the vegetable baskets made just for grilling so your chopped veggies will not fall through the grill while cooking.  Complete the cooking before adding the soy sauce, balsamic vinegar or Olive oil to the hot vegetables.  Toss to incorporate the flavors before serving. Serve with some slices of warmed french bread that has been sprinkled with Parmesan Cheese for a meal to remember.

 

I’m a believer in cooking more than one meal at a time.  Cooking multi meals at the same time, sets you up for more time in the evening for family activities or just plain sitting and enjoying each other.  If you don’t have time to do, two complete meals, do the prep work for both at one time. Below are three recipes where all the hard stuff can be done at once, setting you up for 20-30 minute meals.
Shopping list for three meals:
2 Pounds of Ground Beef
2 Large Onions
1 Red Sweet Bell Pepper
1 Jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce
Small head of lettuce
1 Package of soft tortilla shells
1 Package of Corn Tortilla Shells
3 Packages of Ramen Noodles [chicken or beef]
1 Can of Diced Tomatoes
Assorted Shredded Cheese
1 Package of Taco Spices
2 Roma Tomatoes
Prep by chopping the onions, tomatoes and pepper.
Shred ½ head of the lettuce
Place the vegetables into separate zip lock bags and refrigerate.
Brown the ground beef and ½ of the chopped onions, just until the meat is pink, then cool and divide into 3 equal parts.
Place the meat into air tight containers and refrigerate until needed.
Beef Tacos
1 part of the browned meat
1 package of taco spices
the chopped onions, tomatoes and lettuce
½ to ¾ cup of shredded cheese
Taco shells [flour and corn]
Finish cooking the ground meat, adding the spice package. Place all the ingredients on your table and allow everyone to make their own taco.
Serve with Corn on the cob and some Fresh fruit to complete your family meal.
Ramen Noodle Beef Casserole
1 part of the browned meat
3 packages of Ramen noodles, broken into pieces
¼ cup of chopped onions
1 can of diced tomatoes
3 cups of water
shredded cheese
Using a medium pot, add the ground meat, onions, diced tomatoes and cook until the onions are soft. Add in the water, noodles and flavor packages. Cook over medium heat until the water has disappeared, pour the mixture into a casserole dish. Sprinkle the top with ¾ cup of shredded cheese*.
Place in a 350 degree preheated oven and bake until the cheese has melted down over the noodles [about 12 minutes].
Serve with a garden salad, using the second half of the lettuce and some of the other chopped veggies.
*Velveeta Cheese can be used here, instead.
Spaghetti with Meat Sauce
Add the browned meat plus ½ cup of onions and ½ of the chopped red pepper, to a medium sauce pan. Cook while stirring, until the vegetables are soft, then add the jar of sauce. Simmer for about 10 minutes.
Using a large pot, heat 4-6 quarts of water. Salt the water until you can lightly taste the salty flavor to enhance the flavor of the pasta. You want it to taste like the ocean not the Dead Sea. When the water reaches its boiling point, place in the pasta of your choice and cook as directed on the package.
When the pasta has cooked, drain well, removing all the water you can, return it to the pot or a serving platter. Some people like to add the pasta into their sauce but I do not. It will soak up the sauce too quickly and in some cases will leave you with a dry pasta dish with no sauce to serve on the side. I prefer to place my pasta on my plate then add the sauce over the top, adding a little sprinkle of cheese.
Serve with warm garlic bread and steamed green beans to complete your meal.  Cooking multi meals at one time will allow you more family time when it comes to putting dinner on the table.

The first thing that comes to my mind, when dealing with leftovers, is soup. You can make a soup out of just about anything you have on hand, including holiday leftovers.

Roasted Chicken Leftovers

This year we didn’t have turkey for Christmas, we had [3] Roasted Chickens instead. After pulling off the meat, I kept the carcass to make our soup of the week. I’ll add them to 4 quarts of water with a teaspoon of salt, 2 celery stalks, 1 medium onion and 2 carrots. I’ll bring the mixture to a boil, then turn the heat down, allowing it to simmer for an hour or so, then drain off the broth, to use for the soup stock. I’ll reserve any loose chicken meat and the vegetables.

To the stock, I’ll add back in the carrots, celery, onion* and any leftover chicken, vegetables, including the mashed potatoes and gravy. The potatoes will thicken the soup and give it a creamy texture. Taste to see if it needs more seasonings, then simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, giving the ingredients time to mingle. Serve the soup with a loaf of warm French Bread and a new dessert. No one will know they are eating what was left of their holiday feast.

My second suggestion is a frittata. It’s another easy dinner that can utilize a lot of the stuff you might otherwise have thrown away.

To make one, use two or three eggs per person. Crack into a bowl and beat with salt and pepper. Then, add in vegetable leftovers, using whatever is in the fridge. Cold meat, can be sliced into bite size pieces and added in. Cooked vegetables can go right in. You may want to rinse them in hot water to remove their older seasonings. If so, be sure to drain them well before adding them to the egg mixture or your frittata might become wet and runny.

Firm fresh produce (carrots, broccoli, and even mushrooms) should be sauteed until tender, preferably with a little garlic or onion, before adding to the eggs. Italians even throw in leftover pasta, which is a great way to use those leftovers. Then, heat a little olive oil in a large saute pan, that can also be used in the oven and pour in the egg mixture.

While the egg mixture is cooking, turn the broiler on low. Heat eggs on stove top until they start setting around the edge of the pan. Then, grate some cheese over the top. (Use what you have on hand. Cheddar is really good with broccoli; Italian cheese like Parmesan is delicious with ham and/or mushroom.) Turn off the stove top and place the pan under the broiler until eggs are set and cheese is melted. Allow to cool briefly, then slice as you would a pie and serve.

You have just made good use of food items that might have gotten tossed. In turn, you have a couple of delicious dinners and saved lots of money in your food budget using your leftovers.

* cut the vegetables into 1/2 inch pieces

Cooking Meals and Saving Money on Winter Comfort Foods

The cold weather months are excellent for hearty comfort foods that warm you up and keep you full. Delicious soups, stews, and hot casseroles abound, most so good, that you almost don’t miss the warmer weather. Even better, many wintertime comfort foods can be made without spending a lot and they go a long way.  Often, you can feed a big family or make enough for a week’s worth of meals, and spend very little money on each serving.

enchiladas_nim

Save Time

Most people tend to slow down during the winter. Maybe it’s the cold, or maybe it’s the layer of ice or snow which is keeping everyone in the sloth mode, but people tend to move slower and take their time.  All that extra time spent bundling up and thawing out means you don’t have a lot of extra time to cook a gourmet meal. Luckily, winter is the best time for some simple meal ideas.

Slow Cooked

Slow cookers, or “crock pots” as they are also called, are the perfect solution for family meals on the go. Simply put your ingredients in the cooker in the morning, turn it on, and then come home to a delicious hot meal waiting for you. Most recipes are so simple you just throw everything in and go, while others may require very little prep.

cold weather comfort foods

Fix It and Forget It

Winter cooking is a great time to make use of some super easy “fix it and forget it” type meals. For example, a pot roast with some chopped veggies can be thrown into the oven and a timer set, cooking to perfection while you relax or get some other tasks done.

Savory Staples

To save money and keep your tummies full and satisfied, look to stocking winter staples. Root vegetables like carrots and potatoes go well in just about any savory winter dish, keep for quite a while, and are almost always some of the cheapest produce your grocery store has to offer.

Pantry Perfection

For simple, delicious, and hot meals of your favorite comfort foods, to warm you up when the weather gets cold, look no farther than a stocked pantry. Canned goods, rice, and pasta make for fast, easy, and cheap casserole ideas that cost even less than the time it takes to throw them together.

Extra Tips

Keep it simple – The simplest meals are often the most delicious, especially during the winter when anything hot and savory really hits the spot. Very few ingredients can go a long way.

Prep ahead – A little extra prep in the morning, or even spending time to prep once a week, can make meal times easy in the wintertime. For example, chopping up veggies and putting them in bags in the freezer cuts down on time and makes it super simple for you to just grab them whenever you need to.

Coupons – Most coupons tend to be for canned and boxed goods, so winter is the best time to make use of these pantry staples and save a lot of money.

Cooking is easy when you utilize some of these simple solutions. Not only can you make hot, satisfying comfort foods, but you can also save money in the process.

Have you ever wondered how our grandmothers managed to keep food on the table without going to the grocery store every day? They knew the importance of keeping a few staples on hand in their pantry.  Many great meals have been made using these ingredients.

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Kitchen Pantry

Flour

Flour is the beginning or the end of many great meals. It can be used, not only for bread items but gravies, pies, or making a great batter for frying chicken. There are several kinds of flour. The most common one being enriched white, whole wheat, self rising and all purpose.  Keep your family’s favorite in your pantry and see how often it comes in handy for your meal.

Rice

Rice, like the flour comes in many types. It’s very versatile pantry item and can be used from breakfast to dinner. Brown rice is better with meats, while white rice is what I call company rice. It likes keeping company with other food items, such as soups, salads or casseroles.

Pasta

I love pasta of all kinds. Just when I think I have tried every kind, I find a new one. You can cook a pound of pasta and have several different meals just by what you top or mix it with. It turns a simple soup into something spectacular, a salad into a meal and a tomato sauce into something divine. Choose your favorite, then keep it in your pantry to  save on your grocery budget through out the year.

Spices to keep on hand.

You should always have salt and pepper in the house but a few more to have on hand are:  Basil, Chili Powder, Cinnamon, Gloves, Ginger, Marjoram, Oregano, Sage and Thyme

These are my favorites but you should experiment with several spices and see what your family likes best. Buy them in small container as they will loose their strength as time goes on. Large containers can be a waste of your food budget.

Beans

There are many kinds of beans.  All are a great source of protein and can stretch your food budget.  They can be used alone of in salads, dips, soups or stews.

Pinto Beans are usually the most popular but I like the dark red Kidney Beans and the small Northern White Beans for most of my meals.   

Sugar, Honey, Molasses

Keeping one of these sweets on hand in your pantry, will ensure you the best results in your cooking and baking.  We all love something sweet in our meals.  It can be the baked beans, or the chocolate cake but having that little bit of sweet taste makes the whole meal, seem better.

Vegetable Oil, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Natural Butter

Very little cooking can be done without using one of these pantry stable.  Adding a little oil or fats will enrich the flavors of  meats or vegetables.  They also allow us to make a more fulfilling meal with salad dressings, gravies, breads and deserts. 

When you have these staples in your home pantry, there will always be a way to put a meal on your table.

Most of us are busy throughout the year but with the holidays coming we sometimes need a little extra help in keeping up with our duties.  These are a few of my favorite quick and easy dinners to do, just that.

Chicken Pizza Casserole:

Line an oven safe casserole dish or pizza pan with frozen chicken nuggets, get them as close as possible. Then pour a can of tomato sauce over the nuggets. Layer in about ¾ cup of mozzarella cheese and your favorite veggie toppings*. Cover tightly, with foil.

If you are going to use within 48 hours, place it your fridge until needed, then bake covered at 450 degrees for 20 minutes. Remove the foil, and bake until the cheese has melted and slightly browns.

*Cut your veggies into bit sizes for even cooking. A Jar of pizza sauce can be used instead of the tomato sauce for extra flavor.

Cheesy Mac and Beans Casserole:

Cook one or two packages of macaroni and cheese, depending on the size of your family, following box instructions. When done, place in oven safe large bowl or casserole dish. Make a dimple or path in the macaroni and cheese then pour in a can of drained dark kidney beans. Chop a large onion and do a quick fry with 1 tablespoon of oil, in a medium skillet until the onion is almost cooked. Spread the partially cooked onions over the cheese and bean mixture. Cover mixture with about 1 ½ cups of chopped chicken, ham or grilled beef, spreading it evenly. Cover with foil.

Cover your casserole dish with foil, then place in fridge until needed or freeze for later use. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 325 degrees and bake for 20 minutes, then remove the cover and sprinkle about ½ cup of shredded Cheddar cheese over the top and bake another 10 minutes until the cheese has melted and turned a light brown.

Serve with a tossed green salad for a nourishing quick meal. 

These two easy dinners, can be time savers for any night of the week.  They are delicious enough for company or just for family night.

More tips for easy dinners can be found at  http://hassieskitchentable.com/whats-dinner/