When you live with your boyfriend, cooking dinner is a normal part of everyday routine. Obviously you both need to eat, and obviously you’re going to eat together if you both happen to be home from work at a common hour. Sure, there are days when you are both exhausted and run down and the best idea ever includes a takeout menu, the couch, and something dramatic via netflix. Naturally. But cooking together, creating meals from scratch, working alongside one another is one of the best things you can do as a couple. If I were a relationship therapist, that’s the piece of advice I’d give most frequently: cook together.
Color me corny, but I genuinely look forward to cooking dinner with my boyfriend every night. Coming up with new recipes, trying fancy ingredients, or even just adding a bottle of wine into the mix can make a random Tuesday night feel like a date night. And after all, one of the reasons I started this blog to begin with was to share the recipes we came up with to fit both of our tastes, vegetarian and non-vegetarian alike.
Almost four years of co-habitation later though, and we definitely have our favorites. There are meals we’ll make at least once a week, if not more. But we’ve made a lot of dinners. Almost four years of living together equals 1,460 days, and if we stay in and cook approximately 85% of the time, that’s 1,241 dinners. And who says that art girls are bad at math?
So as a tribute to those one thousand plus meals, I decided to compile a list of my favorites. And a link to the recipes. Obvi.
Reader Question: What meal(s) do you find yourself cooking frequently?
Filed under food/drink, life
This post is inspired by a good friend of mine. She mentioned today that she was on the hunt for more kid-friendly vegetarian and/or vegan recipes, as her daughter (who is almost 2 years old) has been showing a dislike for meat. (That little girl knows what’s up!) Kids can be tricky; you never know what sort of food may be a turnoff for a child, and, consequently, what may last through adulthood. My brother, for example, swears that he once threw up after eating a banana when he was 2 or 3 years old and he refuses to eat bananas to this day. (For the record, I don’t think this banana incident ever occurred. I also have witnessed him eat banana bread without any sort of physical ramification.) On the flipside, when I was a little kid, I hated dark green vegetables. HATED. Spinach? Kale? Broccoli? Forget it. You could bribe me with all the Rider Strong posters or Lisa Frank folders in the world; it wasn’t going to happen. But now (as you’ll see momentarily), dark green veggies are some of my favorites.
At any rate, finding a balance between meat-free and kid-friendly is definitely tricky. You can’t just put a bowl of massaman curry in front of a kid and call it a day. But some kind of sandwich? With melted cheese? And sweet potato? Cut into triangles? Um, heck yeah.
You will need…
- 1 large sweet potato, skinned, and cubed
- 1/2 sweet slicing onion, diced very fine
- 1/4 cup sliced scallions (green onions)
- olive oil
- salt, pepper
- 5 large kale leaves, rinsed and chopped
- 1 can black beans, rinsed & drained
- grated mild cheddar cheese (optional – leave out if you want this to be vegan)
- 3 whole wheat tortillas (vegans- check ingredients for honey)
- Preheat oven to 400. On a baking sheet, spread out the sweet potato cubes and drizzle with olive oil, salt, & pepper. Cook in the preheated oven approx 20 minutes, checking once to turn. Remove from oven and let cool. Mash slightly if desired.
- In a skillet, heat some olive oil. Add onions and cook until soft, about 4 mins. Add scallions and chopped kale; cook approx another 5 minutes. Season with salt & pepper. Set aside momentarily.
- Lay one tortilla flat. On half of the tortilla (to make a half-moon), sprinkle some of the cheese. Top with a spoonful of black beans, kale mixture, and sweet potato. Add a little more cheese, if desired. Repeat with other tortillas.
- Fold the tortilla in half to make the quesadilla. Heat a large skillet or grill pan and spray with non-stick cooking spray. Cook the quesadilla on top of the stove, turning once every couple of minutes, until cheese begins to melt. Remove from heat, and cut into triangles! Yuuuum.
Want more? Click the pictures below for links to other kid-friendly recipes on this blog!
And, for good measure, because who doesn’t love a pancake?! –>
I love these quick flourless pancakes! They are super easy to make, and little kids usually like to help in the kitchen. Stirring the batter was always a favorite job of mine when I would help my mom cook.
And, when in doubt, use a fun-shaped cutter for sandwiches. Obviously.
photo from lunchinabox.net, dino cutter from cheftools.com
You can’t go wrong with a dinosaur. More to come!
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If Gordon Ramsay were vegan, I could picture him preparing this dish in his cozy kitchen in Scotland for his adorable kids. I’m not sure if Ramsay really has a cozy kitchen, but I’d like to think that he does. A European cottage in a Scottish hillside? It’s imaginable. But considering that Ramsay has made it publicly known that he’d probably disown his children if they turned vegetarian, the likelihood of him crafting a vegan shepherd’s pie is slim to none.
While The Boyfriend and I make it a point to compromise in the kitchen (and- hello? that’s the entire crux of our future cookbook), there are times when he lets me take the reigns and prepare an all-vegan dish. I love creating elaborate vegan dinners that are spin-offs of classic meat dishes. If it is done correctly, with the right combination of spices, it is easy to please the taste buds of even the most vivacious carnivore. There’s a classic mistake made by newly-turned vegans when cooking for omnis- they instantly think that the goal should be to convince them that tofu/seitan/tempeh is better than meat. If this is the mission, it will fail time and time again. Forget the comparison altogether; instead, the goal should be to illustrate the appeal of the vegan dish in and of itself.
This vegan shepherdess pie was inspired by a recipe found in the epic cookbook Veganomicon (aka, to some, the vegan bible.) While there are many similarities, the main difference is that I incorporated seitan into my dish rather than the tempeh used by Moskowitz & Romero. As described in our stew post, seitan is a product made from wheat gluten. Tempeh, on the other hand, is made from soy, like tofu. It usually also contains other whole grains and beans, giving it a chunkier texture. I chose to use seitan instead, because it has a firm and chewy consistency that would counterbalance nicely against the vegetables and potatoes.
Seitanic Shepherdess Pie
serves 8- be prepared for leftovers (Recipe follows)
photos © connorgleasonphotography
On occasion, a bit of extraordinary culinary magic can be found in our kitchen when the boyfriend and I are able to just throw as many things into a pot as possible and create something incredibly delicious. In this case, two pots.
It’s getting impossibly cold here in New England. Consequently, dinners require a certain amount of warmth and comfort as winter rapidly approaches. Bonus points are added when said dinner can make our kitchen smell like the inner-workings of a 5-star bistro.
This past weekend, we decided to make parallel stews using two large pots. The ingredients were identical, save for one crucial difference: my stew was loaded with seitan while the boyfriend’s stew contained beef. Seitan is a great vegetarian meat-substitute; it is made from wheat gluten, rather than soy. It is a good replacement for beef, as the texture is much thicker and chewier than tofu. The process of making your own seitan is rather tedious – it involves rinsing wheat flour dough thoroughly until the starch dissolves into an elastic texture, which is then cooked. Needless to say, I’d recommend buying the pre-packaged stuff – you can find it at most grocery stores (Whole Foods always has a good selection.)
This recipe makes a lot of stew, so be ready to have some leftovers on your hands. A little goes a long way for a meal, as both versions are rich and hearty. With merely an extra thirty seconds of dish soap and a sponge, this is a perfect compromise for any veg and omni pair who are looking to warm up on a winter’s night. (Recipe follows.)
photo © connorgleasonphotography
all photographs © connorgleasonphotography
As a couple with busy work schedules, breakfast usually consists of yogurt, quickly grabbed from the fridge, or a packet of oatmeal nuked in the microwave and adorned with a sprinkle of nutmeg. On the weekends, we get the chance to cook more complicated breakfasts, but sometimes the breakfast-food craving kicks in around dinnertime. It’s easy to agree on pancakes or french toast (and the boyfriend is even quite fond of vegan pancakes at a certain Allston restaurant, which we frequented often during my vegan days). However, now that I am eating eggs and dairy again, things get a little trickier, considering that most omnis enjoy some form of meat in their eggs. Instead of making two sets of omelets, or two sets of scrambled eggs (how exhausting!) we’ve devised a clever way of crafting an egg-cellent dish (oh, I had to say it) that satisfies the boyf’s meat-fix as well as my vegetarian tastes. As an added bonus, this is a protein-packed meal with fresh and vibrant ingredients – regardless of the time of day!
A frittata is similar to an omelet or a quiche, and can be as simple or as complex as you want it. Instead of stirred, the eggs are beaten, which creates a fluffy cloud-like texture. Frittatas are often baked, or cooked on a stove top and then broiled. We prefer the latter method, because the broiler gives it an extra kick and allows the cheese to melt perfectly.