Quarantine food game freezer edition

So, how are things going for you?   COVID-19 cases are growing here in Charleston and I think (and hope) a stay at home order is coming.  We need to flatten the curve so we can save lives.

I know you’re not here for news, but for food help.  If you haven’t already seen the pantry and fridge posts, give them a peek. This one is all about what we keep in the freezer and how it helps us get through the busy days and when we just don’t feel like hitting the grocery store.  Believe me, those days were many when my back went wonky a few months back and walking was an ordeal.  Grabbing a bag of veggies and a veggie burger or sausage out of the freezer made meals so much easier.

What are our freezer staples?

  • Veggies – blends, cauliflower, broccoli, green beans, Brussels sprouts, greens, and okra
  • Beans – either cooked from dry and frozen in 2-cup increments or store-bought
  • Fruit – whatever happens to be on sale but usually berries, mango, and pineapple
  • Veggie meat – burgers and sausage
  • Vegan meals – occasionally homemade leftovers, skillet meals, and individual meals
  • Tofu – firm and extra-firm

It’s a short list, but these staples paired with pantry and fridge staples result in fantastic meals and snacks all day long.  Sometimes just the frozen options can make nice meals.  These are goodies I’ve made in the past, present, and future.

Smoothies with fruit and greens (or cauliflower rice) make a nice breakfast or snack.  I’ll add oats sometimes to make it a heartier drink or make a smoothie bowl topped with oats, nuts, and fresh or thawed frozen fruit.  Sometimes, I’ll blend tofu and berries to make a mousse as a snack or dessert.  Topping it like a smoothie bowl also makes a nice breakfast – one I ‘ve had a few days this week.  rsz_20200331_120333

A veggie burger with or without a bun served with fries and baked beans is a standard go-to when I’m not feeling creative.  When I am feeling more creative or feel like re-creating my old favorite tv dinners, I’ll turn the burger into Salisbury Steak with mashed potatoes, mixed veggies, and a fruit crisp or brownie for dessert.  I’ve also turned burgers into meatloaf when I want a lof but not lentil loaf.

Vegan sausage is perfect on a bun with sauteed peppers and onions, sliced up and mixed with beans (who didn’t like Beanie Weenies as a kid?), or sitting on the side of red beans and rice.  For a snack, a link with brown mustard and pickles is nice for a lower carb day.  Beyond Sausage and Lightlife’s new Sausage are in the freezer now.  I found them on sale a few months back and stocked up for a rainy day.

Sometimes all I want for dinner are beans, greens, and rice.  Throwing the rice in the InstantPot and thawing cooked beans and greens on the stovetop or microwave makes a healthy comfort food meal easy.   Hitting them with a little hot sauce or bbq sauce always does it for me. And if there’s time, some cornbread will seal the deal. There is no shame in using cornbread mix, y’all.

Frozen planned overs or leftovers help me get a homemade meal ready to go quickly.  Right now there is chili and a black beans and rice casserole waiting for their time to shine again.  When you freeze, make sure to put the name and date on the container. I’m not always up for “Vegan Surprize” after a long day.

Gardein Skillet Meals are a store-bought option that will work well if you’re in a hurry. Keep in mind that these will not feed more than two people.  Or one really hungry person.  I have Chik’n Florentino and Italian Style Rigatoni and Saus’age on hand and am looking at the Porkless Thai Curry as the next one to try.

Frozen veggies are perfect to round out a meal or as a meal in themselves.  I’ll serve cauliflower mashed, as wings (breaded or not), straight up with a sauce of some kind, as 20200308_214605a low carb potato substitute in home fries or salad.  Why? Why not.  Cauliflower rice is also a nice side option some days.  A stir-fry blend is nice for a quick curry or with teriyaki, hoisin, or orange sauce.  Classic mixed carrots, peas, and corn can be a nostalgic side or added to soup, a pot pie, or veggie fried rice.  See where I’m going here?  Ask me for more examples or my recipes and I’m happy to share.

I hope that these last few posts have given you idea for meals that won’t bore you while saving you from extra grocery stops.   Remember, there is no shame in convenience foods.  Do whatever you need to do to make healthy, filling meals that make you and yours happy.   Please be safe out there and wash your hands.

Take care.

 

 

 

 

The quarantine food game pantry edition

Howdy!  I hope that you’re settling into the new routine a little more and feeling less anxious about the state of the world.  I’m used to working from home but hubby (and I’m sure some of you) are not quite sold on working from home yet.  I hope at least that some of those meetings that could be emails are actually emails now.

Last time I posted about some of the staples in our refrigerator and how we turn them and some batch cooked rice, beans, and greens into various meals.  This post is all about the pantry.   A little bird told me that a specific list may be more helpful than paragraphs, so here goes.

  • Grains and pseudo-grains are a must – rice, oats, grits, dry cereal, and quinoa (when I’m in the mood)
  • Beans – dry and canned for quick meals.  I usually batch cook and freeze beans in 2-cup increments
  • Pasta – whole wheat, whole grain, or gluten-free, generally elbows, spirals, and spaghetti unless I’m in the mood for lasagna
  • Onions
  • Potatoes – sweet and red, Russet, or Yukon
  • Shelf-stable plant milk (when I remember to grab some)
  • Nuts and nut butter – usually cashews, walnuts, and a mix for snacking
  • Flour
  • Sugar and other sweeteners (stevia, dates, maple syrup, and Lakanto products)
  • Unopened condiments – barbeque sauce, mustard, salsa, salad dressings, and the like
  • Pickles – cucumbers, green beans, artichoke hearts – Yes, we treat pickles as staples.  Don’t you?
  • Tomatoes – diced and stewed
  • Pasta sauces – We tend to favor Classico
  • Bread and tortillas
  • Crackers (occasionally)
  • Spices and seasoning mixes
  • Vinegar – red, white, champagne, rice, and balsamic are here at the moment
  • Oil – Mostly for the family – olive, corn, and coconut

Our pantry staples don’t seem like much on their own, but pairing them to what we keep in the fridge and freezer (post coming soon) shows that the basics can go a long way.  These meals and sides are pantry- and fridge-based:

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  • Baked sweet potatoes topped with black beans and barbeque sauce served with a simple salad
  • Stuffed Russet potatoes
  • Pasta and potato salads as lunch or dinner sides
  • Pasta with beans or lentil sauces or tossed with made with whatever veggies are on hand
  • PBJ or nut butter with fruit and a veggie or fruit side
  • Beans on toast (noms and thanks to the Brits for this one)
  • Home fries with a side salad if they’re not full of veggies
  • Chickpea “tuna” salad with crackers, on bread, or on top of a simple salad
  • Mac and cheese with a potato and carrot-based cheese sauce
  • Oats or oatmeal muffins for breakfast
  • Bean or nut-based sausage
  • Lentil loaf with mashed potatoes and whatever green veggies are in the fridge

There you go – a nice selection of meals and snacks for any time of day.  It’s easy to mix and match to suit your taste and cravings.

So, do you prefer paragraphs or a list?  Let me know and I’ll make sure to follow the preferences of the majority.  Sometimes this blog is a dictatorship, but it’s usually a democracy.

See you next time when I talk about the freezer.  That glorious beast!

How’s your quarantine food game? Fridge edition

Is your pantry stocked? The freezer?  do you have staples on hand so you can cook and eat all the goodness you need? If not, this post is for you.  The post works for you if you have stocked up.  There’s something for all the veggies and vegans here.  I’ll share what we keep on hand in my house and how we make it work for us.  I’m the only veggie in the house, but I will not share what the omnis add to their meals here.  This one is for us.

When you have pantry and freezer staples on hand, you can mix and match to make

culi fried rice

delicious and healthy meals.  Not sure about that?  Check out Miyoko’s Creamery on Facebook for live cooking demos featuring pantry staples.  Why?  Because Miyoko is a joy to watch and her products are banging.  She published a book all about the vegan pantry a few years ago.  The Homemade Vegan Pantry is one of my favorites and comes in handy in times of crisis and storm season.  If you have a busy schedule and don’t always have time to cook or shop the way you’d like, you should check it out.

What do I keep in my fridge?  Plant milk, condiments, and produce always.  The produce we pick up depends on what’s on sale and what looks good at the moment. After batch cooking, you’ll find rice, beans, and greens.  Depending on the condiments and sides, I can make different meals out of those goodies.  Add salsa, shredded lettuce, olives, radishes, and tortillas for Tex Mex night.  Arrange beans and green over rice with a little hot sauce and a  biscuit or cornbread for a Southern meal.  Turn the beans and rice into burgers (or sausage) depending on seasonings used and throw it on a bun, bed of salad greens, or bowl of grits.  Make bean burgers and serve them over rice and topped with mushroom gravy for a vegan take on Loco Moco (the link goes to Guy Fieri’s version, so don’t click if you’re not okay with looking at meat or dairy).  And there’s always soup or stew – throw everything in a large pot with sauteed onions, garlic, and water to cook until all is heated through,  Season it to your taste and there’s lunch or dinner.  Don’t forget about throwing veggies on a sheet pan to serve with the bean burger.  Try cutting carrots or turnips into fries – yum!

food prep

Sheet pan dinner ftw – toss with a little oil, water, or broth season, and roast.  Easy cleanup, too!

I hope this gave you some ideas on what to pick for the fridge.  If you want or need a specific grocery list, just ask.  I am always happy to help others find their groove in the kitchen.

Next time, I’ll focus on the pantry.  See you then!

 

Living the semi-quarantine life

Hello, family!  It’s been far too long since I’ve posted here.  I’m still active on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, but my official blog has been about empty.

Bruno 5-19

He was tiny, but look at those feet! 

Here’s a short update:

  • I’m a puppy grandma (happy birthday, boy!)
  • I’m recovering from a series of three steroid injections and one oral steroid pack) because my spine decided my legs and hips shouldn’t work correctly
  • I’ve been up, down, and all-around these last months and think am coming out of that cycle

Getting back on my feet has been my main goal lately, but making sure my nutrition game is on point is up there, too.  I’ve been unable to cook for a couple of months now and proved to myself yesterday that short cooking sessions won’t knock me out or lead to spasms.  Thanks to Instant Pot, I will have on-plan food that has flavor.

The main reason I popped on is to tell you to hang tight.  It may be annoying and a little rocky at first, but this current normal is not the end of everything.  It may take a few weeks to a few months, but we are resilient.  We will get through this pandemic by washing our hands and not being dicks.  Don’t buy more toilet paper or cleaning supplies than you need.  Don’t grab all the bread and nut butter.  Remember that we are all facing the same shortages, reduced shopping hours, and uncertainty.  We will heal together.  We will find or way together.  Your neighbor is not your enemy – fear is.

For the time being, I’ll share my thoughts, menus, and whatever random idea of entertainment that comes to mind.  I have a few book reviews to share, too.  I’ll stop treating my blog as an afterthought for those of you here to see what’s happening in my corner of the spoonie world.  Until then, be good to yourselves.

mug

I’ve chosen self-quarantine as a way of life.  Get offa my lawn! 

Peace.