As my baby’s due date approaches, I’ve become inundated with advice for the days and weeks immediately following the birth. One I come across time and time again is to make and freeze some meals for Phil and I to enjoy while we’re adjusting to life with a newborn. I’ve never been one to do this normally (cook meals ahead of time and store them in the freezer) except for vegetable stock (which definitely isn’t a meal) but I think it will come in really handy for us.
I looked up a few freezer-friendly dinner recipes and tweaked them a little. And today was my cooking day since the rain is relentless and certainly doesn’t make it feel much like Memorial Day weekend!
The first recipe actually makes a double batch (I decided to freeze both, but you could always cook these before dinner – serve one that night and freeze one for later). Here’s my Garden Baked Penne:
Garden Baked Penne
Prep Time: 35 mins
Cook Time: up to 2 hours
Keywords: bake simmer saute entree gluten-free wheat free vegetarian soy-free Italian
Ingredients (serves 8)
- 1 pound brown rice penne
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 10 ounces frozen spinach, thawed and drained
- 1/2 cup grated Pecorino cheese
- 2 small zucchini, grated
- 1 cup goat or buffalo Mozzarella, broken into small chunks
- ground black pepper to taste
This recipe makes 2 separate batches. If you’re serving one for dinner tonight, preheat the oven to 375F. If not, start at the next step.
Line a baking or casserole dish with foil with excess folded over the sides.
Cook the pasta according to package instructions, draining 1-2 minutes before completely cooked.
Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, heat the olive oil over a medium heat and add the onion and red pepper. Cook for 5-7 minutes, then add the garlic, herbs, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook for an additional 2 minutes. Then pour in the crushed tomatoes and water, along with a teaspoon of sea salt. Simmer for 20 minutes uncovered.
Add the sauce to the cooked pasta, along with the spinach, pecorino, zucchini, and a pinch more black pepper. Stir to combine.
Divide between the two dishes and top with the mozzarella.
IF COOKING NOW: bake for 20 minutes or until cheese is lightly golden.
IF FREEZING NOW: leave to cool completely, then cover with foil and freeze for up to 3 months. (Once the dish is frozen after 24 hours, you can remove the foil wrapped meal from the baking dish to be used in the meantime. Place the foil wrapped meal back in the freezer by itself). To cook, transfer the covered meal back into the original pan you used and place directly in a 375F oven for 90 minutes. Uncover and bake for an additional 15 minutes until golden.
That’s plenty of food for us as we get into the rhythm of parenthood!
I personally can’t wait for this Sunday’s main event – watching all the overpriced commercials and picking my favorite. Oh and the football game too.
In the last few years, however, since I was living in London and they show the game live, which means it goes on far too late for me and my sleepy head, I’ve been more excited about having people over for chili and cornbread. It’s a great excuse to invite friends over and share a casual meal – something that requires very little effort on your part and produces tasty results.
I’ve posted about Superbowl parties I’ve had before, but decided to re-post the recipes here with some tweaks I’ve made over the years and will be using this Sunday.
Have a fabulous Super Bowl Sunday everyone and enjoy the day!
Gluten-Free Vegan Cornbread
Adapted from Veganomicon
- 2 cups coconut or almond milk
- 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 2 cups cornmeal
- 1 cup gluten-free flour mix (like Bob’s Red Mill)
- 1/4 cup coconut sugar or honey
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/3 cup coconut oil, melted
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Either use a cast-iron skillet or a 9 x 13-inch baking pan.
- Combine the milk and vinegar in a jug and set aside to curdle.
- In a large mixing bowl, sift together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Make a well in the center and add the milk mixture and oil. Use a wooden spoon to mix together until just combined. Some lumps are okay.
- Pour the batter into the prepared skillet or pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes, until a knife inserted through the middle comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool before serving.
Adapted from Eat, Drink & Be Vegan
- 1 1/2 tbsp coconut oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 3 celery stalks, diced
- 1 red pepper, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, diced
- 1 tsp sea salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tbsp hot chili powder
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/8 tsp allspice
- 3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 15-oz cans chopped tomatoes
- 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 can light coconut milk
- 1/2 cup shredded coconut
- tabasco, to taste
- 1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
- lime wedges, to serve
- In a large pot, add oil, onion, celery, pepper, garlic, salt, pepper, chili powder, cinnamon, and allspice, and stir to combine. Cover and cook for 7-9 minutes, stirring occasionally; reduce heat if onions or garlic starts to burn.
- When onions start to soften, add cocoa powder and stir for 1-2 minutes, then add tomatoes, beans, coconut milk, and coconut, and stir to combine. Increase heat and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Stir in corn kernels and cook another 5 minutes to heat through. Remove cover to let liquid reduce if desired. Season to taste with additional salt, pepper, and hot sauce. Serve with lime wedges to squeeze on generous amounts of juice.
For the month of April, I’m participating in the Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge from Wego Health. Each day I’ll be writing a health-related post based on the HAWMC prompts, aiming to challenge myself as a writer and health activist. Thanks for following!
Today’s prompt was to write about a memory you have in the third person. I’m not really feeling it, so instead, I’d like to share a delicious and nutritious dinner recipe that Phil and I shared the other night and then again for the rest of the week (SO MANY LEFTOVERS)! We had been talking about what Phil’s Mom used to make for dinner for him and his brothers when they were kids. Red Dragon Pie – he could remember the name but not the contents – is something he’s mentioned before. And shortly after we talked about it, I was catching up on reading blogs and saw that someone in my blogroll had posted a photo of their own version of Red Dragon Pie. It was time to slay the dragon…
The original recipe for Red Dragon Pie comes from Sarah Brown’s Vegetarian Kitchen, who named it because “the Chinese call aduki beans ‘red dragon’ or ‘red wonder’ beans as they have found them to be so full of goodness…maybe you will have the power of the dragon after eating it!” So there you go!
However, I didn’t have any aduki beans, so used black beans instead, and I’m sure any other bean would be wonderful in this recipe. But I love adukis, so I’ll be making this again the right way.
It’s a great one to make ahead of time and then refrigerate or freeze. That way you’re only 30 minutes from having a great meal – one that is packed full of goodness. The filling has loads of veggies and flavors and the topping is pure and simple sweet potatoes with a little turmeric mixed in for an anti-inflammatory boost.
Red Dragon Pie
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 45 mins
Keywords: saute steam boil bake entree vegetarian vegan wheat free gluten-free nut-free sugar-free
Ingredients (serves 6)
For the Filling
- 2 cans aduki beans
- 2 onions, chopped
- 2 tsp ginger, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 small red chili, finely chopped
- 4 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 3 celery sticks, sliced
- 1 green bell pepper, chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 2 cups chopped tomatoes
- 1 tbsp tamari or Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
For the Topping
- 6 small sweet potatoes, scrubbed and chopped (leave skins on)
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- 1/2 cup milk (non-dairy)
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 2 tsp paprika
Start by preparing the sweet potatoes. Boil or steam them (already chopped) until you can easily pierce with a dinner knife. Drain if necessary. Then mash with the coconut oil, milk, and turmeric. An optional step here is to place this mixture in a food processor for a smoother result, but if you like the texture with the skins, feel free to leave it as is. Set aside.
In a large casserole dish, saute the onions, ginger, and chili in some coconut oil until soft. Season, then add the carrots, celery, and peppers. Contain to cook for a few minutes, then add the beans, tomatoes, and tamari or liquid aminos. Cook for 10-15 minutes. You’re looking for a dryer consistency rather than too liquidy.
Heat the oven to 375F if you’re planning on eating soon.
Top the vegetable and bean mixture with the sweet potatoes, smoothing across for an even layer. [At this point, you can refrigerate or freeze your dish for cooking later]
Using a fork, make a pretty pattern on the top! Sprinkle with the paprika.
Place in the oven and cook for 30 minutes, or until the top starts to brown. Enjoy warm with something green on the side.
I think I’ve sussed it. The key to a successful vegetarian shepherd’s pie is to let the lentil stew cook for a lot longer than you’d think. The texture and flavor will resemble a meaty version so accurately that your non-vegetarian friends will never guess! And this comes from actual experience.
Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie
Serves 4; adapted from a bbc good food recipe
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 2 tbsp fresh thyme, finely chopped
- 1 cup red wine
- 1 can chopped tomatoes
- 3/4 cup vegetable stock
- 2 cups green lentils, cooked
- 4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
- 2 tbsp goat’s butter
- 3/4 cup mature goat’s cheddar, grated
- In a large saucepan or casserole dish, heat the oil, then add the onion, and cook for 5 minutes until slightly softened.
- Add the carrots and garlic and continue to cook for 2 minutes. Reserve a tiny bit of the thyme for sprinkling on top, and put the rest into the pan with the veg. Saute for 1 more minute.
- Pour in the veg stock, wine, and tomatoes and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Add the lentils, then cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the lentils have started to break down.
- Meanwhile, boil the sweet potatoes for 15 minutes until tender, then drain and mash with the butter. add salt and pepper to taste.
- Prepare the pie in a casserole dish with the lentil mixture on the bottom, followed by the sweet potato mash spread across the top. Sprinkle the grated cheese over the sweet potatoes, and finish with the remaining chopped thyme on top. At this point you can cover and chill the pie for 2 days or freeze it for up to a month!
- Bake in a preheated oven (375F) for 20 minutes (40 minutes from chilled), or until golden and bubbling. Serve with purple sprouting broccoli.
Lately, I’ve been getting some great meal inspiration from the Guardian’s food and drink section. They usually have some wonderful recipes from the likes of nigel slater and hugh fearnley-whittingstall, but this feature article struck my eye: what meat substitutes taste like. We’ve always got some Quorn products in this household, as Phil pretty much grew up on the stuff and loves it. However, it’s packed with egg, dairy, and soy protein, making it not a great option for us both. But this article reminded about how great linda mccartney sausages are! As far as meat substitutes go, this is topnotch. Unfortunately, they do contain gluten, so they’re not great for a celiac or gluten-intolerant person. But, on occasion, they work well when combined with lots of fresh vegetables or for a traditionalist, some mash and gravy.
The other night for dinner, when the temperature inexplicably dropped to see-my-breath levels, I incorporated some chopped up McCartney sausages with sweet potatoes, onions, and apples. The resulting baked casserole was a tad on the dry side, but tasted just like fall. This is a really hearty and wholesome meal, and can be enjoyed with any kind of sausage you like.
Sweet Potato and Sausage Bake
- 2 medium sweet potatoes, chopped
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 1 red chili, finely chopped
- 1 medium apple, cored and chopped
- 6 sausages, chopped into 4 pieces each (vegetarian version optional)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp dried rosemary
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- Heat the oven to 375F. Combine all ingredients in a roasting tray and toss together so that all the vegetables and sausages are coated with the oil and herbs. Season and bake in the oven for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
- Serve warm from the oven with a dollop of your favorite chutney or mustard and some green salad.