Night 2: Crispy Quinoa and Bean Cakes

Tuesday was night one of a two-night meal plan. We had quinoa, kale, sweet potatoes and pesto. Last night we used the leftovers to make quinoa cakes.

NIght #2 Recipe: Crispy Quinoa and Bean Cakes

Oh my goodness were these good and so simple to make. Total prep couldn’t have been more than 10 or 15 minutes and they cooked in about 4 1/2 minutes per side. I topped each with pesto from the night before since we now have an entire jar of pesto in our fridge to use. We each ate two cakes and will have them tonight again for dinner since there was so much leftover mixture.

Whether you are completely meatless or are just trying to cut meat out a few days a week, bookmark this recipe. Mike, a big meat eater, gave it a thumbs up both nights. Also, I’m now hooked on one night’s recipe turning into the base for night two. If you have similar recipes or meal plans, please share in the comments section!

Polenta with Mushroom Ragu

I’ve been a bad blogger! Work, life…everything is hectic right now and I haven’t been able to motivate at night much past a few pins on Pinterest and reading my favorite blogs every evening. You can’t keep me away from Living Like the Kings (she’s expecting baby #2!), Running to the Kitchen, Cupcakes and Cashmere or Sequins and Stripes, to name a few.

I ask for forgiveness in the form of a really delicious vegetarian recipe from last week’s Sur la Table cooking class. Despite not having any motivation to cook, I recreated it tonight with just a few changes. Man do I love polenta. Mike seemed quite pleased as well – he really has been a great sport about my pescatarian/meatless journey. But I do the cooking, so he darn well should be!

Polenta with Tomato and Mushroom Ragu


  • Quick cook polenta (I had the Sur la Table brand on hand)
  • Vegetable broth (I used a vegetable bouillon cube I had on hand)
  • Grated Parmesan cheese
  • Butter
  • Olive Oil
  • Shredded mozzarella
  • Mushrooms
  • Garlic
  • Onion
  • 24-ounce can of whole tomatoes
  • Optional: fresh sage and fresh flat-leaf parsley

Prepare the polenta according to the directions using vegetable broth in lieu of water if desired. When it was nearly ready I tossed in about a palm’s worth of shredded Parmesan. If you have one, pour into a small round pan and set in the fridge to form a round polenta loaf. While the polenta sets heat the oven to 350 and grease a baking sheet. Right before the ragu finishes flip the polenta onto the sheet, top with shredded mozzarella and bake until the cheese is melted. I suggest about five – six minutes.

Meanwhile thinly slice your mushrooms if using whole Portobellos or in my case, use the pre-sliced ones from the store. I love cooking shortcuts after a long day at work. Dice the onion, garlic, fresh herbs (if you have them, I did not) and whole tomatoes, reserving the the juice.

To get going on the ragu, melt two tablespoons of butter and one tablespoon of olive oil over moderate heat. Add the diced onion and cook until translucent, about six minutes. Add the garlic and constantly stir for one more minute. Stir in the mushrooms, sage (I substituted a few shakes of dried rosemary) and add salt and pepper to taste. Keep stirring until everything softens and any moisture evaporates. Add the tomatoes and juice. I like to turn the heat down a bit at this point and just let everything simmer. Keep tasting the sauce and add more salt or pepper if desired. Some red pepper flakes are also delicious for a bit of a kick.

Pull the polenta out of the oven and top with the ragu. Sit back, pour a glass of red wine and savor just how fantastic vegetarian cuisine can taste.

Vegetarian Stuffed Acorn Squash

Last week I bought most of the fixings for the Moroccan Stuffed Acorn Squash recipe from Door to Door Organics. I omitted raisins (the devil’s food), and chose tofu over chicken (meatless baby!), and swapped chicken broth for vegetable stock.

Vegetarian Stuffed Acorn Squash (adapted from Door to Door)

Extra firm tofu, drained and cubed
2 large acorn squash (halved, seeded)
2 stalks celery (chopped)
2 large carrots (chopped)
1 cup garbanzo beans (drained)
1 (14 oz) can vegetable broth
1 cup quinoa
3 cloves garlic (minced)
2 tbs brown sugar
2 tbs butter (melted)
2 tbs olive oil
1½ tbs ground cumin
salt & pepper (to taste)


  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Arrange the squash halves, cut-side down, on a baking sheet and bake until soft (about 30 minutes).
  2. Dry/pan fry the tofu until cooked throughout. I prefer the texture after about 10 – 15 minutes.
  3. While the squash is cooking, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in the carrots and celery and saute until soft (about 5 minutes), then add the garlic and cook for an additional minute.
  4. Once the squash are ready, remove them from the oven and flip.
  5. Combine the brown sugar and melted butter and brush over the squash. Cover to keep warm.
  6. Add the tofu to the carrot and celery mixture.
  7. Stir the garbanzo beans into the mixture and season the mixture with the cumin, salt and pepper. Continue to cook until heated through and vegetables are tender (about 3 minutes).
  8. Pour the vegetable broth into a separate saucepan and cook the quinoa until all of the broth is absorbed and quinoa is tender (about 10 minutes).
  9. Combine the quinoa and tofu mixture and spoon into each squash halve.
  10. Serve with additional filling if desired.


Sweet Potato, Black Beans and Goat Cheese Tostadas

It snowed in Denver last night. Winter is knocking on fall’s door and I am beyond excited to be using our oven nightly without having to take a cold shower after dinner is done. Our house has returned to a normal, pre-summer temperature. WOO HOO!

Now that we’ve gotten our house temperature update out of the way (we WILL be getting an AC unit next summer), let’s transition to a conversation about a completely meatless recipe that is so simple, even a “I don’t know how to cook vegetarian dinners” husband can get ‘er done while you are at the gym or happy hour with girlfriends. We were fresh out of butternut squash so I adapted Naturally Ella’s recipe by using sweet potatoes instead. Serve with a small salad or in our case, a batch of freshly steamed broccoli. Then prepare to join the “who needs meat” clean plate club.

Roasted Sweet Potato, Black Beans and Goat Cheese Tostadas

(adapted from Naturally Ella)


  • 2 cups ¼” cubed butternut squash (or approx. 2 sweet potatoes peeled and cut into small bites)
  • 1 medium red onion (We’re not huge onion fans so we omitted)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1-2 teaspoon crushed dried chipotle peppers (I didn’t have this so I tossed the sweet potatoes with a few shakes of crushed red pepper)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup black beans, rinsed and drained if using canned (I always opt for low sodium regardless)
  • Juice from half a lime
  • 1 tablespoon honey (I used light agave)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 corn tortillas
  • 2-3 ounces goat cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 425˚
  2. Roughly dice onion and toss with cubed butternut squash. Combine olive oil, 1 teaspoon crushed chipotle peppers, and salt. Add to butternut squash and toss again to coat. Roast for 20-25 minutes or until squash is tender and beginning to brown.
  3. In a bowl, combine black beans, lime juice, honey, and olive oil. Once squash is done, add to black beans and stir. Spoon squash and black bean mixture on to corn tortillas and sprinkle with goat cheese.
  4. Place tortillas in the oven and let bake until the goat cheese is browning and the tortillas is crisp, 10-15 minutes.


Grilled Tandoori Tofu

On my continued quest to turn tofu into a regular staple in our house I went hunting for a new recipe to test last night. I came across this Tandoori Tofu recipe on and thought it would be a good one to try, despite not having all of the ingredients, since I would be able to try out the grilling method.

Tandoori Tofu (adapted from Eating Well)


  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 2 14-ounce packages extra-firm or firm water-packed tofu, drained
  • 2/3 cup nonfat plain yogurt
  • 6 tablespoons sliced scallions or chopped fresh cilantro for garnish


  1. Preheat grill to medium-high.
  2. Combine paprika, 1/2 teaspoon salt, cumin, coriander and turmeric in a small bowl. Heat oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add garlic, lime juice and the spice mixture; cook, stirring, until sizzling and fragrant, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.
  3. Slice each tofu block crosswise into 6 slices; pat dry. Use about 3 tablespoons of the spiced oil to brush both sides of the tofu slices; sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. (Reserve the remaining spiced oil.)
  4. Oil the grill rack (see Tip). Grill the tofu until it has grill marks and is heated through, 2 to 3 minutes per side.
  5. Combine yogurt with the reserved spiced oil in a small bowl. Serve the grilled tofu with the yogurt sauce, garnished with scallions (or cilantro), if desired.

Tips & Notes
Kitchen Tip: To oil a grill rack, oil a folded paper towel, hold it with tongs and rub it over the rack. (Do not use cooking spray on a hot grill.)

We didn’t have yogurt (and I was WAY too lazy to go to the store) so I skipped that step. I also had to substitute chili powder for the paprika because we were out of that too. I grilled the tofu over the stove on a super hot griddle, grill side up. It turned out fantastic, which is an awesome discovery as the temps fall outside and true grilling gets less appealing. I plated the tofu on top of quinoa and steamed organic spinach, and topped it all off with fresh avocado slices and a splash of Annie’s Lite Goddess dressing to make up for the lack of yogurt.

The result? Another tofu clean plate club! The dish was absolutely delicious and indoor-grilled tofu will likely become a winter dinner regular.Seriously, this whole meatless (plus fish) deal is not that hard. It takes some extra prep and thought – and a willing husband – but we’ve never eaten healthier. Go meatless people!

Tofu and Kale Salad

By Sunday evening of this past weekend I felt stuffed with wine, cheese, beer, fries, and other not-so-healthy foods. We attended a wedding just outside of San Francisco and indulged from the moment we landed to takeoff for home.

On Monday all I could think about was “clean eating” for the week ahead. So I got onto Pinterest and typed in tofu for my search. Hundreds of pretty food photos popped up but the one below caught my eye immediately. I knew it was what our bodies needed…stat!

Source: via Alexis on Pinterest

I forgot a few items at the store (mainly carrots) but that did not negatively impact the dish whatsoever. The dressing is my favorite part and our house smelled wonderful as the tofu baked. Mike, once again, gobbled it up with no “ewwwwwww” references to the tofu. Score! 

Asian Kale & Tofu Salad by Clean Eating

P.S. This salad was fantastic the next day as well for lunch. The kale holds up nicely and does not get super soggy. Go meatless one night soon and try this dish! You won’t be disappointed (dad!).

Colorful Summer Stir Fry

Lately I’ve been trying to go truly meatless on Mondays for “Meatless Monday.” That means no fish, which is tough even though it has been months since I’ve eaten meat. Enter Bon Appetit…the latest issue is full of gorgeous meatless dishes.

Following a particularly gluttonous weekend (an early celebration of my 30th birthday this Wednesday) I decided to start the week right with a Summer Vegetable Stir Fry for dinner. I shopped for fresh ingredients immediately following work. Our kitchen is quite miserable in this heat but I chopped and diced my heart out knowing the healthy reward would be worth the effort. We were not disappointed.

Savvy Bon Appetit readers/home chefs can make this in their sleep. Yet the extra prep step for an herb dressing took this stir fry to a totally new level for me. I’m typically a soy sauce kind of gal whenever I make a stir fry. Not anymore.

My chosen ingredients (a few variations from the recipe…I am getting brave!):

  • Mexican squash
  • Mushrooms
  • Green bell peppers
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Diced purple potatoes
  • Herbs for dressing – fresh basil from our garden, cilantro and tarragon
  • Quinoa instead of wheat berries

Mike nearly licked his plate clean, which is always a major win when I make true vegetarian dishes. Next I want to try a watermelon gazpacho recipe from the same issue. Stay tuned!

Peach and Black Bean Loaded Quinoa

This recipe was shared with me a few weeks ago but we’ve been in a rut of eating out or falling back on quick, frozen fixes. Yuck! Especially when so many delicious fruits and veggies are finally in season. I am determined to get back on track and hope to also start hitting our local farmer’s market on Saturday to keep our kitchen stocked with wholesome, real food.

Black Bean and Quinoa with Bowl with Peach Salsa (via the a Couple Cooks blog)

What I love about this recipe is how filling it is. I paired it with salmon (for me) and chicken (for Mike) and I could barely finish my salmon. The quinoa in itself is filling, but the beans and peaches add another whole dimension that really makes this a standalone dish. I could however also see myself adding some seasoned and broiled tofu in the future–for those “I am really hungry” nights.

Overall, I give this dish an A+. I am actually sad to have a lunch meeting today because this would’ve been an amazing noon-time fix. Oh well, at least I know what’s for dinner again!

What are your favorite quinoa dishes?

Side note…I don’t sing the praises enough of the Rosle Multi Chopper, one of our all time favorite wedding presents. It makes prepping recipes like this SO simple. Throw in the onions, pepper and cilantro–and with just a few pulls, everything is diced to perfection. No tears. No random chunks. Everyone who sees me prep with this chopper declares it a must-have within 30 seconds. I love it! Worth every single penny, and then some.

Quick Homemade Tabouli

Thank god my friend and colleague Ramonna let me borrow her Student’s Vegetarian Cookbook. Lately I haven’t been motivated to do anything complicated for dinner. Blame it on a hectic work schedule or a bit of cooking fatigue. But everything in this cookbook is ridiculously easy so I’ve been able to forge ahead with my new meatless lifestyle.

I suggest prepping a big batch of this salad for lunches and dinner. On Monday I served it alongside shrimp with Singapore seasoning from Penzey’s Spices and some corn on the cob. Perfection.

Tabouli Salad Ingredients

  • Bulgar wheat (I used the quick cooking variety)
  • 2 tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • Fresh or dried mint, about a teaspoon (more/less based on taste)

Cook the Bulgar according to the instructions. I made enough for four servings, about one cup dry. Once all the water has been absorbed transfer to a bowl and stir in all of the remaining ingredients. Chill for about 30 minutes in the fridge. Devour.

What cold summer salads do you love to prepare?

Tofu and Cabbage Stir Fry

Since giving up meat I have been wanting to experiment with tofu but continually avoid it for fear of screwing it up royally. I know that is hard to do but some recipes are a little intimidating. But on Monday I decided to get over it and selected a simple tofu and cabbage stir fry recipe from the Student’s Vegetarian Cookbook. Idiot proof, right?

In this case I am happy to report, it was super simple!

What you’ll need:

  • 1/2 head of small cabbage, chopped
  • 1/2 block extra firm tofu cubed (to prep, sandwich the tofu between two plates and top with a heavy book for about 20 minutes to squeeze out all the excess water)
  • Chopped garlic (I opted for two cloves)
  • Teaspoon of fresh ginger (ours was moldy so I used powdered ginger instead)
  • Vegetable oil

Heat a tablespoon of vegetable oil in a pan over medium/high heat. Add tofu and cook, stirring often, until the cubes are slightly browned. It took about 5 minutes for me. Add the garlic and ginger and combine for about a minute. Transfer to a plate.

Add another splash of vegetable oil to the pan and cook the cabbage until soft, about 4 minutes. Add the tofu/garlic/ginger mixture and quickly combine with the cabbage before removing from the heat. Serve with a dash of soy sauce and sesame seeds if you have time on hand.

The verdict? Even Mike cleaned his plate and declared it (as someone who does not love tofu) very tasty. Major success in my book.

Do you cook with tofu?

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