One Pot Chili Mac and Cheese

Boy, was this recipe good! The more I ate it, the more I liked it! Don’t leave off the cheese, that’s what pulls it all together! I used Quorn Grounds for the ground beef, and vegetarian chicken broth. Next time I will add more beans.

rating: 9

One Pot Chili Mac and Cheese

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
8 ounces ground beef (I used 1 bag of Quorn Grounds)
4 cups chicken broth (I used vegetarian chicken broth)
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes
3/4 cup canned white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
3/4 cup canned kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoon cumin
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
10 ounces uncooked elbows pasta
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves


Heat olive oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add garlic, onion and ground beef, and cook until browned, about 3-5 minutes, making sure to crumble the beef as it cooks; drain excess fat.
Stir in chicken broth, tomatoes, beans, chili powder and cumin; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Bring to a simmer and stir in pasta. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer until pasta is cooked through, about 13-15 minutes.
Remove from heat. Top with cheese and cover until melted, about 2 minutes.
Serve immediately, garnished with parsley, if desired.

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Slow Cooker Veggie Lasagna

I seem to always have problems making lasagna, at least when I use uncooked noodles. But this, THIS recipe was awesome! And super easy! For the veggies, I just used a bag of baby spinach. That bag shrivels down to nothing, though! You can totally change up what veggies you use each time. This was probably the best lasagna I have ever made. I chose the “cook on low 4-5 hours” option, and turned the cooker to “keep warm” after 4 hours.

rating: 9.8

Slow Cooker Veggie Lasagna


* 24 oz. jar plus one cup tomato pasta sauce
* 9 long lasagna noodles, uncooked
* 2 1/2 cups chopped veggies (I used 1 bag of baby spinach)
* 1 teaspoon minced garlic
* 1 tablespoon olive oil
* 15 oz. container Ricotta cheese
* 1 1/2 cups shredded cheese – reserve 1/4 cup for very top (I used a mozzarella and parmesan mix)
* 1 egg


In a medium bowl, mix 1 and 1/4 cup shredded cheese, egg, and ricotta cheese. Reserve 1/4 cup of shredded cheese for the very top. Sautee chopped veggies on the stove with olive oil and minced garlic for about 3-5 minutes. Add one jar plus 1 cup of your favorite pasta sauce with the veggies. Take off heat. Spread about a fourth of the veggie sauce mixture on the bottom of slow cooker. Add 3 of the uncooked lasagna noodles, and break them apart to fit. Spoon on 1/2 of the ricotta cheese mixture. Layer more sauce, 3 more noodles broken to fit, the remainder of the ricotta cheese mixture, more sauce, 3 more noodles, the last of the sauce, and sprinkle 1/4 cup of cheese on the very top. You should have a total of 4 layers of veggie sauce, 3 layers of noodles, and 2 layers of ricotta cheese mixture total.

Cook on LOW 4 to 5 hours (or on HIGH 2 to 3 hours) or until liquid is absorbed. If you opt to cook on high, watch the bottom carefully to ensure it doesn’t burn – mine almost did at the 3 hour mark on high. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley if you choose. Serves about 7-8 people.

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Blackened Tofu Caesar Salad

Wow, was this good! And it was a lot easier to make than I thought it would be! My 8 year old preferred his tofu and salad separate, so I gave him a little bit of salad, and then he wanted to make a sandwich with the tofu (tofu, mustard, and baby spinach). There was some tofu left over (I used two blocks), and I can’t wait to add them to my lunch salad today. When husband first tasted the dressing (that I had made earlier in the day), he thought it was too strong, and told me to “thin it out”, but I didn’t, because I knew I would be mixing it up in the lettuce and it wouldn’t be as strong. And I was right (of course). Husband said several times during dinner “Wow, this is really good.”

rating: 9.5

Blackened Tofu Caesar Salad
(Vegan Cooking for Carnivores, Roberto Martin)


one 14-16 ounce block of firm organic tofu
Blackening spice
2 yellow bell peppers, cored, seeded, and sliced into med. strips
2 red bell peppers, cored, seeded, and sliced into med. strips
1/2 red onion, sliced into thin strips
2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
4 large heads romaine lettuce, cored, cut into quarters lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1/2″ strips, washed and spun dry
caesar dressing
salt and pepper


Cut the block of tofu into 4 equal rectangles, then squeeze the tofu between paper towels to get rid of water (put something heavy on top). Sprinkle a generous amount of the blackening spice on all four sides of each piece of tofu. Place the seasoned tofu slabs on a plate and set aside.

In a medium bowl, toss the bell peppers, onion, and 1 tsp of the olive oil.

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Preheat a saute or grill pan until blazing hot. Add the bell peppers and onions to the pan and grill, tossing, until they are soft and charred. Place the peppers in a small bowl and allow them to cool to room temperature.

Heat a medium saute pan over high heat, add the remaining olive oil, and wait until it shimmers. Add the seasoned tofu steaks and cook on all sides, about 2 minutes each. Remove the pan from the heat and set the tofu aside.

In a large bowl, toss the romaine lettuce with enough of the dressing to coat. Add the bell peppers and toss again. Portion the salad evenly among four large plates or shallow bowls. Cut each tofu steak into slices and place them on top of the salad.

Caesar Dressing:


Juice of 2 lemons
3 garlic cloves, crushed
4 TB capers
Dash of caper brine from the jar
4 TB Dijon mustard
2 tsp vegan Worcestershire sauce
2 TB red wine vinegar
1 c mayo (light mayo is good)
1 TB ground pepper
3 oz extra-virgin olive oil


Place all the ingredients in the jar of a blender and puree until smooth. Use immediately, or store the dressing in a squeeze bottle or glass container with an airtight lid and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. Makes 2.5 cups dressing.

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Cannellini-and Leek Soup with Sourdough Breadcrumbs

Yesterday was a perfect day for soup. It rained all day here! This soup comes together in a flash, and you know what? You really don’t need that half-and-half at the end. It was good without it! And if you use vegan butter with the sourdough bread, it would be vegan! My 8 year old liked it, but would have preferred the beans to be whole instead of “ground up”. Next time I make this, I might add an additional can of cannellini beans at the end for him.

rating: 9.5

Cannellini-and Leek Soup with Sourdough Breadcrumbs
(Coastal Living, April 2015)

serves 6
time needed: 40 min.


2 tablespoons unsalted butter (I used vegan butter)
3/4 cup fresh sourdough breadcrumbs
3 tablespoons finely chopped almonds
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cups thinly sliced leeks
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper (I omitted)
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
2 (15-ounce) cans cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
2 1/2 cups unsalted chicken stock (I used vegetarian “chicken” stock)
1/2 cup half-and-half
1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

1. Melt butter in a nonstick skillet over medium-low heat until foamy. Stir in breadcrumbs and almonds; cook 10 minutes or until toasted, stirring frequently. Stir in 1/8 teaspoon each salt and black pepper.

2. Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add leeks, garlic, red pepper, and 1 teaspoon salt; cook 7 minutes or until leeks soften, stirring occasionally.

3. Add beans and stock; increase heat to medium-high, and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and puree with an immersion blender until smooth. Stir in half-and-half, vinegar, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Divide soup among 6 serving bowls; sprinkle with toasted breadcrumb mixture and chives.

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Crunchy Black Bean Tacos

Um, I consider these quesadillas, but still, they were really good! My 8 year old loved them. These couldn’t have been easier. Well, yes, they could have been. It was tricky trying to flip them over without the beans spilling out!

rating: 8.5

Crunchy Black Bean Tacos
makes 8 tacos


1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed
1/2 cup red onion, minced
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
2 Tablespoons cilantro, chopped
4 ounces pepper jack cheese, grated
Nonstick cooking spray
8 corn tortillas
1 avocado, sliced
Sour cream


In a medium bowl, combine beans, red onion, cumin, paprika and cilantro. Grate cheese and place in a small bowl. Heat a large, non-stick skillet over medium-high heat and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Place one tortilla at a time on the hot skillet and add about 1/4 cup of bean filling to one half of the tortilla. Top with a sprinkle of grated cheese. Use a spatula to carefully fold the tortilla over so it forms a shell. Press down lightly on the tortilla with the spatula so it holds its shape. Cook each taco for about 3 minutes per side or until golden brown and crispy. Serve with avocado, salsa, sour cream or any toppings you prefer.

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My Signature Homemade Salad Dressing

Not mine, but someone else’s. :) This was simple to make (you probably already have the ingredients in your kitchen), and was really good! Husband (who is very picky about salad dressings), said it was good! I didn’t want to pay for white balsamic, so I used champagne vinegar instead (what I happened to have). I think regular balsamic can be used as well.

rating: 9

My Signature Homemade Salad Dressing


1/4 cup white balsamic
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 shallot minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1/4 cup olive oil


In a jar with a tight lid, combine vinegar, mustard, shallot, salt and pepper. Put lid on and shake vigorously. Add oil and shake again.

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Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes

I was so excited to try this, and to be fair, I need to try it again. I chose the longer time at low temp, and I think they cooked too long. They ended up being a little brown and were kind of hard to mash. I really think they just cooked too long. I tried to revive them with some almond milk, sour cream, etc., but they still had a sickly brown color and they just didn’t taste good to me. Funny enough, my 8 year old (who hates mashed potatoes), LOVED them. What’s up with that? I will give this another try and go for less time.

rating: 6

Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes

prep time: 10 min.
cook time: 4 hours


2 pounds red potatoes, cut into 2 inch pieces (you can peel them but I never do – I love red potato skins in my mashed potatoes!)
½ cup sour cream (or plain greek yogurt)
¼ cup milk (I used plain almond milk)
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon black pepper


Spray the inside of a slow cooker with cooking spray. Add chopped potatoes. Cover and cook 2-3 hours on high or 5-6 hours on low.
Add sour cream, milk, garlic, salt, and pepper to potatoes. Use a hand mixer to blend together all ingredients. (Please see note below recipe!) Give them a taste and add more salt if desired.

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