Vegan Chickpea Salad Panini

I mentioned mock “tuna” salad in an earlier post. Of course, I couldn’t get it out of my head after that until I made some. The recipe I used is below. To make a panini I used organic white bread and spread the salad over one slice, then covered the top with marinated artichoke hearts. Then grill it on a panini pan or press. I promise you – you’ll be glad you made this!

Vegan Chickpea Salad (mock tuna salad)

  • 1 15 oz can of chickpeas
  • 2 heaping Tb of eggless mayo (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp Garam Masala or curry powder
  • dash of garlic powder (or 1/2 clove fresh)
  • onion salt and pepper to taste

Mash the chickpeas with a fork or potato masher. You can use the food processor if you’re careful. Too long and you’ll have a smooth hummusy like paste instead of a chunky tuna one.

Add in the other ingredients, mix, taste and season again if needed. This is a great lazy day sandwich spread!


Vegan Caesar Salad Dressing with Meyer Lemon

lemon_slice.jpgEarlier this year I got myself a dwarf Meyer lemon tree. I have wanted one for a few years. It was only 2 feet tall, but already covered in green baby lemons. Now, 6 months later, I have about 8 juicy yellow Meyer lemons to cook with.

It looked beautiful on my deck, and the white flowers were very fragrant. Unfortunately, I had to cut off the branch that was blooming to get rid of an unidentified icky pest that was trying attack it. I’m not sure if I’ll be harvesting much next year, so I want to make the best of what I have now.

In a warm climate, you could plant it outside, but I’m keeping mine in a pot. This way I can enjoy the green foliage inside during the winter and bring it outside for the summer.

If you haven’t used Meyer lemons before, you are in for a treat. They are sweeter, more of a cross between a mandarin orange and a lemon. Also the skin is much thinner. In fact, so thin that when I hit it on the counter to get it ready to juice, it busted open and went all over me and the floor. Let that be a lesson you don’t have to learn first hand!

I used the juice of my first lemon to make this dressing:

Eggless Caesar Salad Dressing with Meyer Lemon – serves 2 – 4

  • 1 Tbl eggless Mayo
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon Mustard
  • 1/2 Meyer lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 vegan Worcestershire sauce
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • pepper to taste

In a wooden salad bowl combine all the ingredients. Mix thoroughly.

Wash and dry a small head of romaine and tear into small pieces. Add lettuce to salad bowl. Toss until the dressing is clinging equally on all the leaves.

Serve with fresh ground pepper and freshly shredded Parmesan.

Vegan Acorn Squash filled with Boca Burger Bread Stuffing


I love me some winter squash! The last Acorn squash recipe I posted was cooked in the slow cooker. I did this one in the oven, but you could also cook it in the slow cooker if you prefer.

I wanted to try using Boca burger in it because I’m trying to use up some I have in the freezer. It would be great with your leftover homemade burger or not-meat loaf as well. I also bought stuffing mix, but you could certainly make your own or use leftover stuffing from another meal.

Be aware that most stuffing mixes have chicken broth in them. The mixes my Whole Foods is carrying this year are not vegetarian. In years past they were. So read your labels carefully. I ended up getting mine at the local co-op instead. Just one more reason not to buy mainstream!

Vegan Acorn Squash filled with Boca Bread Stuffing – serves 4

  • 2 medium size acorn squash
  • 1 bag stuffing prepared using instructions on the bag
  • 4 vegan Boca burgers
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1/2 tsp sage
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cut squash in half (be very careful), scrape out the seeds and stringy parts. Use a rectangle casserole dish that can fit them all in, add about 1 inch of water to the dish, and set the acorn squash in it cut side up.

You can spray a little olive or canola oil on the cut sides of the squash if you want, but it’s fine without it.

Heat a skillet over medium heat, and cook the burgers. Once they are soft enough to cut with a spatula, chop them up small while cooking them. Add garlic powder, sage, liquid smoke, and fennel seeds. Cook until the crumbled burgers become a little crispy.

Add bread stuffing to the skillet and mix thoroughly. Stuff into squash and cover pan with aluminum foil (or an oven safe cover) and cook for 1 hour.

Veggie Menu Monday

Still eating from the pantry and the freezer. This week I bought romaine, brown sugar and veggie stuffing. We’re going to Asheville for our first real vacation this year and I’m treating myself to the spa on Sunday. I’ll be posting more about it next week.

Monday: Acorn Squash stuffed with sausage bread stuffing with vegan Cesar salad

Tuesday: Layered Mexican Burrito Casserole – recipe to follow

Wednesday: Fried rice and green beans with garlic sauce

Thursday: Hazelnut Ravioli with marinara sauce and vegan Cesar salad

Friday: Something from the freezer

Saturday: Vacation in Asheville, dinner at Laughing Seed

Sunday: Vacation in Asheville, dinner at Biltmore

Check out more menu’s here:

See More Veggie Menus:

Budget Friendly Chickpea Winter Squash Stew


Most of us have a can of chickpeas in the pantry, if not some dried ones. You can make a great stew, minestrone, hummus, and a tuna salad substitute all from this great bean. The chickpea, sometimes know as a garbanzo, is very multicultural!

Remember that dried beans cost much less than canned, and have nothing added. Canned beans tend to be high in salt, so at least rinse them before using. You can always cook up a whole bag of dried beans and freeze them in can-sized packages for the next time you need them.

You should be able to get a winter squash for about 89 cents a pound right now, or you may have some from your garden. Mine were lost to squash borers.

You’ll need a can of tomatoes, which I think is a must in the pantry. Next year I’m hoping to can enough to not buy any from the store. But this year I’ve gotten some from Whole Foods on sale, organic ones from Big Lots, and some more with Muir Glen coupons.

You can substitute the veggies and spices to fit with what you have on hand. If you’re like me a run to the store for that one thing turns in to 5 things I didn’t have to have…

Slow Cooker Chickpea Winter Squash Stew

  • 2 cans chickpeas
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups winter squash, peeled and cubed
  • 3 cups vegetable broth
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of cloves
  • 1 Tb garam masala
    (or other curry you have on hand and you can leave out the cinnamon if you think it’s too much.)

Put everything into a slow cooker and cook on low for 5 – 9 hours. You can do this on the stove top as well, just check often to see if you need more liquid.

The Budget-wise Pantry

sm_jacobs_cattle_beansNo matter how much money you make or how secure your job is, all of us are trying to start saving more money. Maybe it’s for a rainy day, or maybe it’s to pay off that mound of debt that we’re keeping at bay.

Your food budget is usually a great place to shave a few dollars off. Most of us (me included) splurge more than we need to when it comes to food. Menu planning, only going to the grocery once a week, and buying what you can in bulk is a great start. It’s good for the environment and for your wallet.

But what about those weeks that you’re waiting on a check to come, or you have to get a new furnace? An emergency tends to happen during the leaner times. Having a stocked pantry and freezer can really be handy.

For this post, I’m assuming that you have a few dollars that you can use to stock up. If you don’t you may be able to find a food bank in your area that can help you right now. Feeding America is a website that can help you find out what’s available in your area.

It’s easy to build up your pantry over time once you get into the habit. First, you have to really think about what items will last almost indefinitely. Then when you see them on sale, get as many as your budget will allow for that week. If you do this little by little, you will find your cabinets overflowing in a few months.

I keep the following stocked up by buying in bulk, looking for sales, and even using some coupons. It’s important to keep an open mind. In the beginning it will seem like more work for you, but there is no better reward than having what you need to take care of yourself and your family.

You may want to take a look at ebay for organic coupons, some are the Mambo Sprouts coupons you can pick up yourself at Whole Foods. But others are from the newspaper and you can pay someone for their time to cut them out. It’s much cheaper than buying 10 newspapers. I have gotten coupon foe Muir Glen, Cascadian Farms, Newman’s, and more through ebay. Only buy coupons for the products you know you will buy.

Dry beans of all kinds

This is the where people start to get nervous. They think that beans offer no variety. But once you start to look at recipes from all over the world you’ll see how many flavors you can get using this cheap staple. Mexican, Indian, Ethiopian, English, Creole, Brazilian, French, and more all use beans as a staple. You can also make your own burgers or bean balls, add to soups, and much more.

Bean prices seem to vary from place to place. I find buying them in bulk or at International stores to be the best value in my area. Do you have an Indian food store? You’ll find great prices on spices and rice, as well as some beans.

Here are a few places to get some ideas about cooking beans:

Pasta of all shapes and sizes
I try to get whole wheat or multi-grain pasta whenever possible. I find that the main stream groceries are carrying healthier pasta and there are more coupons in the newspaper for them. If the grocery has a sale and your use a coupon on top of it, you can sometimes even get some free or close to it.

Pasta is great because it’s so easy and with some premade sauce you have an almost instant meal. It’s also good in soups and helps stretch that last bit a little further. Lasagna is a great thing to make ahead and freeze in portion sizes for lunches, future dinners, or even have a pan in the freezer for an impromptu dinner party.

Transfer the pasta that comes in cardboard containers to an air tight glass container or zip lock bag to insure freshness and keep the bugs out.

Brown rice and other grains
You can make a meal of rice and beans, or mix with leftover veggies and a sauce and have a great casserole. There are so many different kinds of grains you can use to vary your diet with. Be adventurous and try a new one each month.

Whole wheat flour
Having flour on hand allows you to make things from scratch that you may not be able to afford some weeks. It’s needed to make gravy, bread, muffins, cookies and more. It’s good to always have on hand. Keep it in an air tight container to keep any bugs out.

Try getting your flour in bulk or on sale. This is one staple I’ve noticed the price going up alot on.

Canned pasta sauce
I use coupons and sales to stock up on organic pasta sauce. Most bottles and canned sauces are fine, but check the ingredients to make sure you know what you are getting. I have gotten bottles as cheap as .50 each during triple coupons if a sale was going on.

Also keep an eye out for organic canned or frozen veggies to go on sale. I keep a few cans of pumpkin, corn, green beans, and regular beans. These are good when you are in a hurry. Frozen vegetables are a great time saver and they go on sale fairly often. Cascadian farm coupons come out fairly regularly and they have a great selection of frozen organic fruit and vegetables.

I like to buy shelf stable milk (soy, rice, or almond). It keeps for about a year and you can usually get a case discount from most health food stores. Costco also has good prices on cases of soy milk.

In addition to your pantry, buy produce that is in season. Many grocery stores have sales on potatoes right now and it’s also a good time to stock up on winter squash. These last all winter and go great in soups, casseroles, and create an elegant meal when you stuff them.

Don’t forget about stores like Big Lots, or other closeout stores in your area. I’ve gotten some great deals. Just check the cans and look at the dates before you buy. Some of the items are there because they are close to their expiration dates.

For the next week or so I’ll be posting inexpensive recipes using the items I have in my pantry. Let me know what some of your go to recipes are.

My Sleepy Mistake

Last night I decided to be a good housewife and make some hot cereal in the slow cooker for breakfast. Even better, I thought I’d be extra nutritious and use quinoa instead of my usual steel cut oats.

A great idea, and if I hadn’t been half asleep when I did it I would’ve had the best breakfast this morning. Instead I had a pot of bitter nastiness. Why? I forgot to rinse the quinoa. It’s used like a grain but it’s actually a seed. You have to make sure you rinse it well, to get rid of the bitter tasting saponins that surround the seed.

So don’t make the same mistake I did, rinse and rinse it again. My compost pile is happy and well fed at least!

Slow Cooker Breakfast Qunioa – serves 2

  • 1/2 cup quinoa – thoroughly rinsed!!
  • 1 1/2 cup filtered water
  • 1 apple, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp clove
  • dash of freshly grated nutmeg

This is the perfect opportunity to use your little dipper slow cooker. Again, don’t be like me – rinse your quinoa well, and combine everything in the slow cooker and cook on low overnight. Add some honey or brown sugar when serving.

Let me know how it turns out for you!