Tag Archives: vegan

Easy Lentil and Rice Pilaf – microwave OR slow cooker recipe

Easy rice and lentil pilaf recipe slow cooker microwave joy makin' mamasI have always loved those rice pilaf mixes that come in a box. The ones with rice and pasta or rice and another grain, that come pre-seasoned. You know the ones! They are easy to make and they go well with lots of foods. Unfortunately, they tend to be really high in sodium, the price per pound is shocking unless you have a coupon, and when I was a vegetarian, they were out of the question entirely. (And if you have food allergies? Forget it!) I have spent years trying to come up with a simple, vegetarian recipe that was every bit as delicious as the box without any of the added expense. I’ve made things that were delicious, but complicated. I found vegetarian products that were even more expensive. I conducted a lot of recipe trials that were best described as disappointing. Finally, with help from my mini crock, I have done it! I made a rice and lentil pilaf that I love every bit as much as any other pilaf side dish I’ve ever tried. The ingredients are inexpensive, it goes together quickly, and cleanup is a snap. The slow cooker version can be set up ahead of time to be ready at dinner, so you can give your full attention to the main dish. I will probably never buy the box mix again, even on sale, since I have limited storage space and I always have rice and lentils on hand.

When my husband and I were a family of two, I loved the mini crock for making smaller meals with all the convenience of my big crock pot. Since he is one of those people who don’t like leftovers (I don’t understand it either) it worked out to be easier for me to make smaller portions than to try and figure out what to do with the rest of a full size recipe. I also cooked smaller quantities when I lived alone, because even though I personally LOVE leftovers, there’s a limit. I sort of thought that once I moved on to cooking for a family of four, my mini crock would languish, unloved, in my pantry- but that hasn’t been the case. The mini crock has been an unfailing convenience for side dishes. I also sometimes deploy it for something that I know only my husband and I will eat- making a smaller amount and integrating it into our dinner plans means we don’t have to stop eating those foods or endure a picky eater rebellion when we just want to enjoy something spicy. It is also the perfect size for keeping dips warm at parties. I can definitely say that my mini crock has turned out to be a surprise star in my convenient-family-cooking lineup.

Slow Cooker Lentil and Rice Pilaf
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • ½ cup lentils
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon parsley flakes
  • ¼ cup dried onion
  • Pinch salt
  • 3.5 cups vegetable broth
Instructions
  1. Rinse and pick over lentils.
  2. Add all ingredients to mini-crock. Stir well.
  3. Cook 3-4 hours on high or 4-5 hours on low, until rice and beans are tender.

Don’t have one? you can get one:

Rival 2 Quart Slow Cooker Crock Pot, White with Tempered Glass Top {Aff link}
Rival 2 Quart Slow Cooker Crock Pot, White with Tempered Glass Top {Aff link}

or, if you don’t think a mini crock is right for your kitchen, you can make this in the microwave in a 2 quart stoneware casserole. (We all have to be selective. Much as I would love to own every tool and gadget known to humankind, I find that I have to edit, because one kitchen only holds so much.) You can use a glass casserole if that’s all you have, but I’ve found that the ceramic and stoneware casseroles do a better job of making microwaved food taste like it was cooked on the stove or in the oven, and avoid the “microwaved” pitfalls like chewy meats or overdone grains.Easy rice and lentil pilaf microwave process shot Joy Makin' Mamas

Microwave Lentil and Rice Pilaf
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
I made this in my Kitchenaid 1.9 Quart ceramic casserole and in my Pampered Chef Round Covered Baker for test purposes. You could use any stoneware casserole of a similar size.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • ½ cup lentils
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon parsley flakes
  • ¼ cup dried onion
  • Pinch salt
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
Instructions
  1. Rinse and pick over lentils.
  2. Combine brown rice, lentils, canola oil, parsley flakes, and dried onion. Stir well.
  3. Add vegetable broth and salt.
  4. Microwave on high 16 minutes, stirring every 4-6 minutes. Check for doneness. If there is still a great deal of liquid in the casserole, microwave in 2 minute increments until it is mostly absorbed.
  5. Let stand, covered, for four minutes. Nearly all liquid should be absorbed.
Notes
The slow cooker version needs more liquid because of the longer cooking time. The reason I can't give you a single, firm cooking time is because microwave power varies, and mine is fairly low power. If you have a high power microwave, I recommend you do the initial cook for 8 minutes and test it every two to four minutes until you arrive at the right time for your microwave.

 

KitchenAid KBLR19CRBF Streamline Ceramic 1.9-Quart Casserole Bakeware
KitchenAid KBLR19CRBF Streamline Ceramic 1.9-Quart Casserole Bakeware {Aff Link}

Sorry, honey, I’m busy exploding dinner.

Have you read this Consumer Reports article about Pyrex dishes? To sum up: Newer glass cookware is made from a different (cheaper) type of glass that doesn’t withstand thermal shock as well as Grandma’s Pyrex dishes did. Also? Using damaged glass dishes, (meaning scratched or chipped) increases the danger of failure. (And by failure, they mean KERBLOOEY.)

I had never been told (or had completely forgotten) that you should never, ever, ever use Pyrex that is scratched or chipped to cook with. (I’m not sure what else one would use it for… paint palette? Paperweight? It’s not recyclable, so I guess someone is going to have to come up with a brilliant idea. Is it you? Please share.)

Look at what I’ve been using to cook dinner for my family for about… oh, the entire time I’ve had a family.Damaged glass baking dishes are not safe Joy Makin Mamas

I know. This (or worse) could totally have happened to me:

exploding pyrex Flickr Shane Ede
Let’s order pizza. And buy a new oven.

So when KitchenAid sent me these ceramic casseroles (the Streamline Ceramic 1.9 quart, and the Nesting Ceramic 4 piece set) to test out in exchange for my honest and explosion-free feedback, I breathed a sigh of relief. Because one recommendation for avoiding the danger of glass failure is to use ceramic casseroles instead. So they are safer, number one. Number two: they are so pretty! And- guess what? These five dishes take up less room than my three old ones in my cabinets. Since I have a small, mid-century kitchen and two very destructive boys, shelf space is at a premium- especially up high for breakables. I know, we’re only a little way into this and I’ve already detailed at least two precautions I’ve taken against my children being injured by shattered cookery. The world is a dangerous place.Kitchenaid ceramic casserole dishes review Joy Makin Mamas
Since I’ve seen first hand how long-lived KitchenAid products are, I expect that these will outstrip their five year warranty by a lot. After all, the KitchenAid stand mixer that my mother bought when I was a kid- and which inspired the purchase of my own, beloved stand mixer- is still chugging along without a single hiccup. And considering how much my mother uses it, I’ve basically just told you that it will never die. I really like that the handle with the recessed bottom makes it easy to hang onto these casseroles. I have (soon will have to say, “used to have”) a set of ceramic casseroles that have two sizes with no handles and one size with very small, smooth handles. I am constantly afraid I will drop them on the way out of the oven. It’s just awkward to lift them when they are full of heavy food, and the last thing I want to do after I’ve prepared a delicious dish for my family is drop it and splatter it all over the kitchen. If I just want to get takeout, I don’t have to work that hard.

Now. You know I cannot just show you some pretty casserole dishes and call it a day. That would be like returning a borrowed plate without any cookies on it. (I’m not a complete barbarian. I may cut corners on party planning, but there are certain things that just don’t call for compromises.)

I was a vegetarian for over eight years, and I still have close family members who are vegetarian. All our family dinners go both ways- with vegetarian options and omnivorous ones. One of my biggest frustrations as a vegetarian cook is the fact that once you take Canned Cream of Something soup out of the equation, your easy, one dish, comfort meal options disappear. I personally like to create vegetarian casseroles that do well as the center dish or that coordinate with traditional holiday dishes, and this Cranberry Barley Casserole (with a vegan variation for my dairy free friends) would be delicious alongside your Thanksgiving feast.

barley casserole recipe Joy Makin Mamas

Cranberry Barley Vegetarian Casserole
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
This vegetarian casserole with vegan variations can be the star of the show next to a green vegetable or salad, or join a buffet of options for every dietary preference. The tart cranberries make a nice contrast to the other flavors, and the barley and lentils give plenty of texture. (No mushy casseroles for us!)
Ingredients
  • 2 shallots sliced thinly
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • ½ cup lentils rinsed and picked over
  • 2½ cups vegetable stock
  • ½ cup unsweetened or low sugar dried cranberries
  • ½ cup cheddar cheese
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 and grease the inside of a 1.9 quart casserole dish with lid.
  2. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.
  3. Add the shallots, fennel, sesame seeds, paprika, and garlic to the pan and sautee until the shallots are translucent. This only takes a couple of minutes.
  4. Add the barley and lentils. Stir until the contents are well mixed.
  5. Add the vegetable stock and bring to a low boil.
  6. Stir in cranberries and transfer to the casserole.
  7. Bake covered for 30 mintues.
  8. Remove cover, top with cheese, and bake for 15 more minutes.
Notes
To make this dish vegan, use canola oil and a pinch of salt in place of the butter. Instead of cheddar cheese, pulse ⅓ cup raw sunflower seeds and ¼ cup nutritional yeast together in your food processor until the texture looks like coarse crumbs, and use as a topping.

Cranberry Barley Casserole Recipe Joy Makin Mamas

No Bake Sea Salt Brownie Protein Bars

sea salt brownie no bake protein bars recipe vegan peanut freeSo, I know I’m pretty much always saying that whatever treat I just made for the first time is the “best thing ever!” but seriously, once you’ve tried these, you’ll never think of pre-packaged protein bars as “first choice” again, ever. There’s no denying that a protein bar makes a good, filling snack when you’re hiking or after a workout, but sometimes they’re a little… not so delicious. Even my very favorite ones are only good if they are fresh- which is fine if I buy them at a store that does a lot of turnover, but not so much if they aren’t a popular item, and there’s no way to tell how long they’ve been on the shelf until you bite into one.

No bake sea salt brownie protein bar process shot vegan peanut free recipe Joy Makin Mamas
Process the dry ingredients until they resemble fine crumbs.

If you’re making your own bars, you won’t wonder if you’re about to bite into a stale protein bar and be left with a mouth full of regret. You’ll know when you made them, and you can whip up a quick batch any time. (Ok, I confess- I have been stealing pinches of the dough out of the food processor bowl before I even chill it during the test cooking for these. Yum.)

This Sea Salt Brownie version got a 100% taste tester approval rating. They are easy to whip up, require minimal dishes, and are ready with almost no waiting. If you want bite size nibbles for a hike, cut them into 24 pieces and roll into balls with your wet hands instead of cutting them into bars. Roll them in crushed nuts or powdered sugar to prevent sticking, and pack them in a sealed container or zippered bag. (Coming soon: a completely NUT FREE version.)

No Bake Sea Salt Brownie Protein Bars
Author: 
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
These vegan, peanut free chocolate protein bars are so fudgy and delicious, you'll feel happy to have traded a brownie for one!
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup unflavored protein powder
  • ⅓ cup old fashioned oatmeal, uncooked
  • 2 Tablespoons of cocoa powder
  • 1 Tablespoon of sugar (Splenda works too)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 20 dried, pitted dates
  • 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon water
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ⅓ cup raw, slivered almonds
Instructions
  1. In the bowl of your food processor, combine protein powder, oatmeal, cocoa powder, and sugar. Pulse to chop finely.
  2. Add vanilla, dates, oil, water, and salt. Process until mixture resembles very fine crumbs.
  3. Add almonds and process until the mixture forms a sticky dough ball. If your mixture seems too dry, add water 1 teaspoon at a time until it forms a ball.
  4. Refrigerate dough until chilled- about 1 hour.
  5. Roll out dough to 1" thickness and cut into bars. Garnish with additional slivered almonds, if desired.
Notes
If you prefer to make bite size treats to take along, roll into 24 balls and roll balls in powdered sugar or crushed nuts, to reduce sticking.

Layer bars between wax paper and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week, or freeze for up to 3 months.

no bake sea salt brownie protein bars vegan peanut free recipe Joy Makin Mamas

Need more nutritious snack ideas? Join me on my Healthy Eating, Healthy Life pinterest board!
Follow Meghan’s board Healthy Eating Healthy Life on Pinterest.

Lunchtime SOS! Lunch ideas plus The Best Egg Salad EVER

No more lunch rut! Quick, easy, nutritious lunch ideas for busy moms & DadsGood morning, Joy Makin’ Mamas. Let’s have lunch. No, really, I want to talk about lunch!

It’s so easy to get into a rut here. I mean, if breakfast is “the most important meal of the day,” and dinner is the meal that brings your family together, that doesn’t leave a lot of time and energy for lunch ideas. Am I right? So let’s shake things up with a little Lunchbox Rescue! Today I want to talk about OUR lunch. You know, put on your own oxygen mask first? If you’ve got a fantastic kids’ lunch idea, send it to me– I’m working on a kids’ lunch post for next week! Continue reading Lunchtime SOS! Lunch ideas plus The Best Egg Salad EVER

Mary-Alice’s No Honey Honey chicken

No Honey Honey Chicken RecipeWhen I went away to college and got the rudest dietary shock of my entire life, I used to dream about this chicken at night. It is so, so, SO good and you never get tired of it. I even developed a vegan version of it during my vegetarian/dairy intolerant years, because I couldn’t live without it. The vegan version isn’t QUITE the same, but it’s very very good, and I served it to many a tofu hater who was pleasantly surprised to find they liked it.

The chicken recipe is also included in our Joy Troupe Family Favorites cookbook, but this is the official internet debut of the vegan version. (Odd since I’m once again an omnivore, but I’m still a veg*an sympathizer!) Want to pin this recipe? Click here.

Mary-Alice's No Honey Honey chicken
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
this delicious chicken recipe is great immediately, perfect for buffet service, holds well, reheats well, freezes well, basically does everything well. It is the perfect food.
Ingredients
  • 2-3 lbs chicken parts
  • 3 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • 5 oz soy sauce
  • 1 stick butter
Instructions
  1. Combine all ingredients except chicken in sauce pan and melt over medium heat. Pour over clean chicken parts in baking dish and bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 90 minutes.
Notes
TIPS: I use reduced sodium soy sauce and cheap maple syrup. The meat comes out very tender and has a nice, dark color to it. It makes great party wings. The only caveat is to make sure the pan you use isn't too big, or the tops of the chicken pieces will dry out and will not have the nice flavor of the rest. This is excellent served with egg noodles and salad. CROCK POT LOVERS: Rejoice- you can do this in the slow cooker if you substitute boneless, skinless thighs for the chicken pieces.

If you have ever had this, you will never, ever forget it, and you will always want more! Now, for the vegan version. If you are NOT vegan and you are making this for someone who is, be aware that “cheap” maple syrups may not be vegan, so get the real stuff.
Meghan's No Honey Honey Tofu
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
This is my vegan version of my favorite chicken dish of all time.
Ingredients
  • 2 blocks of extra firm tofu
  • 1 block silken tofu
  • 5 oz soy sauce
  • 3 Tablespoons maple syrup
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil (peanut or canola are my preference, but sesame is nice too.)
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • pinch of nutritional yeast (optional)
Instructions
  1. Slice the extra firm tofu approximately ¾" thick, and drain on towels for about ½ hour.
  2. Combine soy sauce, maple syrup, vegetable oil, salt, and nutritional yeast.
  3. Lay extra firm tofu slices in a single layer in a baking dish. Crumble the silken tofu and spread evenly over top.
  4. Pour sauce over tofu and bake at 350 degrees for approximately 1 hour, until the tofu has darkened and the sauce has started to caramelize on top. (Sort of looks like the skin on pudding.)
Notes
I've also done this in the crock pot, but I don't remember how long it took. Four hours is a reasonable starting point if you want to experiment with it.

Both versions of this recipe are perfect served with rice or noodles and a green vegetable. I personally think green beans with almonds set the whole thing off just right, and the sauce from the pan over some noodles is almost better than the main event! Enjoy!

Visit our Cookin’ Hot Mamas page for more awesome recipes, indexed by ingredient.

Crockpot Cranberries (and tips for pleasing a veg*an at Thanksgiving!)

Slow Cooker Roast CranberriesHold the phone! This recipe is so easy that it’s actually not too late to add it to your holiday list! And let me give you a little tip if you are expecting vegetarians to dinner this week. Make this and some plain quinoa (BE SURE to wash it first. Here’s why.), and add a green salad and a dish of toasted almond slivers to the table. (That sounds really good, doesn’t it? Ask about nut allergies, of course, and if you are using a bottled dressing, check the ingredients for things like anchovy paste. Yes, really, they like to sneak that one in there.) When you look forward to hosting a big meal, part of what makes all the effort feel worth it is knowing that everyone is looking forward to eating. If you also make traditional favorites like sweet potatoes, squash, or (vegetarian) dressing, these additions will round out the meal for the veg folk and make sure everyone feels that excitement when they sit down at the table.

NOTE: To be absolutely certain that your veg friends and family can eat something, you want to make it vegan. That means, no animal products at all. If they eat eggs or dairy products they will have no trouble adding those foods, but a great deal of difficulty removing them if they don’t. If you are worried about the salad dressing, offering oil and vinegar and letting each diner dress their own is a safe bet.

I found the original recipe at Bon Apetit and adapted it for the slow cooker. (There are some other really good cranberry recipes in that article! You should check it out. Om nom nom…) Please note that this does cook down by about 50%, so if you’re making it for guests, you may want to double or even triple it. A triple recipe will still fit in a “regular” size slow cooker. If you cook these too long, the sugar WILL scorch, so if you increase the recipe watch your cook time.

Crockpot Cranberries (and tips for pleasing a veg*an at Thanksgiving!)
Author: 
 
Super easy, super fast, and it won't even take up room on your stove or in your oven! NOM.
Ingredients
  • 1 12 oz bag of fresh cranberries
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • ½ Tablespoon olive oil
Instructions
  1. Wash the cranberries and pick out any damaged or spoiled berries. Drain them and put them in a mini-crock.
  2. Add sugar, oil, and thyme (just pinch the leaves off the stems with your fingers) and mix well.
  3. Cook on high for 1 hour, or low 2-3 hours.
Notes
I am really going to miss my fresh herbs when the last of my garden is gone this year! If you don't have fresh, you can use ⅓ the measure of dried herbs. (In this case, 1 teaspoon.) If you are expecting a Vegan, use turbinado sugar or another unbleached, cane sugar. You can find them in the baking section next to the kind you're used to!

And if you are looking for an entertaining* holiday read, may I recommend the Famous Black Turkey Recipe of Morton Thompson? It so happens that the bird itself (which I have made many times, to much delight) is delicious, but so is the recipe. *The dish is not vegan in the slightest. In case the word “turkey” didn’t clear that up for you… 😉

Visit our Cookin’ Hot Mamas page for more awesome recipes, indexed by ingredient.