Twenty Minute Meals.

There was a time a few years ago – when I was living in Charlotte – when I used to write more of a daily journal.  That’s was mostly due to the fact that I was in culinary school and I was writing about my daily classroom experiences.  But during that time, I used to share a lot of the meals I cooked at home too. 

As my cooking and writing developed, my food posts became more recipe centered.  I don’t miss sharing every detail of my days (which you would likely find very boring), but sometimes I find myself plating out our dinners and thinking – this isn’t a recipe, but it would be a fun meal to share

I am by no means an expert, but over the years I’ve developed a few tricks and trips to help my family eat a balanced, vegetarian diet even when time is short and days are long.  Here are a few things we’ve been eating lately – not recipes – just easy, throw together types of meals.

Once a week, I usually make a big mixture of grains/beans/lentils in the rice cooker – something I can keep in the fridge all week long.  Casey packs small containers for his work lunches, and it’s an easy healthy option for me to grab in between Cullen’s naps.

When we got home from Ohio on Wednesday night, I made a big batch of brown rice and lentils – 2 cups brown rice, 2 cups French lentils, 7 cups water, 1 vegetable bouillon cube – all on the quick-cook setting of the rice cooker.  Friday afternoon, I pulled it out of the fridge and served up an easy, healthy lunch for me and C.

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Our lunch dates are one of my favorite parts of the day.  It is clearly a highlight for Indy too.

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A small plate of brown rice, lentils, and green peas for Cullen.  Fifty percent in his belly, 25% in his seat, 25% flung from the high chair with wild arm swoops – his newest trick.

Even though this dish was already pretty high in protein, I topped mine with three drippy eggs because it just sounded good.  A little egg-y goop in each bite – delicious.  Kept me full for many hours, which isn’t an easy task these days.

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Here’s another yummy meal we had recently – this time for dinner.  Again, so easy, but delicious nonetheless.  And in case you are looking for easy weeknight dinner ideas, here you go.

Marinated & roasted mushrooms, cheesy baked kale chips, and seasoned black beans.  Twenty minutes from start to finish.  My only regret was not making double the amount of mushrooms – so good.

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This is one of those throw together and forget about it types of meals.  The kind that cooks itself while you are doing dishes, answering emails, or soaping up little baby bodies before bed.  As easy as…

Mushrooms:  Trim ends off four large portabellas.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Whisk together a mixture of olive oil (~2 tbsp) and ume plum vinegar (~1 tbsp).  Brush mixture generously on gills and tops of mushrooms (both sides).  Bake face up for 15 minutes, then flip face down and bake for 5 more.

If you don’t have ume plum vinegar, go buy some immediately.  It’s a game changer.

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Cheesy Kale Chips:  I have recently been buying pre-torn bags of organic kale from Trader Joe’s.  I rarely buy prepared vegetables, but this is a HUGE time saver and it’s organic – a double YES.  Casey and I have big appetites, so for the two of us I cook TWO big bags of kale.  Don’t judge.

I shake one bag of kale into a bowl, top with a big glug of olive oil, a sprinkle of sea salt, and a very generous layer of nutritional yeast.  Then I add the second bag on top, and repeat with all toppings.  I pull up my sleeves and rub the salt/oil/yeast into the kale with my hands for a few minutes, making it wilt and shrink. 

I dump the whole bowl out onto a baking sheet and spread it evenly.  One more coating of nutritional yeast on top, and I pop it in the oven (right above the mushrooms) for about 15 minutes (usually stirring once halfway through). 

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Black Beans:  Rinse and drain a can of black beans.  In a small sauté pan, heat a tablespoon of olive oil and add beans.  Add a few pinches of garlic powder and chili powder, a dash of cumin, and just a hint of cayenne pepper.  Finish with sea salt.  The spices will get toasty over the heat, and they really jazz up a boring can of beans. 

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Like I said, nothing groundbreaking here, but simply a good example of how I might throw together one of our weeknight meals.  (I should note that we typically have a more carb-heavy dinner, but we’d both had big breakfasts and lunches, so this dinner was a little lighter than normal.)  Heavy on the veg, and enjoyed in front of our favorite Canadian TV show – Dragon’s Den – along with some home-brewed kombucha.  But that is a post for another day. 

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I’ll try to start popping in and sharing more meals like this here and there.  Obviously I’ll keep plugging away at recipes too.  I don’t have time to make an elaborate meal every night of the week, and I know you don’t either.  In between feasts and homemade breads, there’s nothing wrong with sprucing up a simple can of beans.