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Posts from the ‘Meatless’ Category

Grits with a Twist:  Roasted Veggies & Cheesy Grits

I know what you are thinking.  It is okay.  There are days I can’t believe it either & I wanna know what the hell am I doing putting vegetables in a dish that should contain a protein that runs and jumps.  

Lately, I have been eating less meat.  Truth be told, I feel a whole lot better now that I have consistently eat more vegetables.  I don’t feel sluggish.  I have more energy than I had when I was in college.  I’m kinda liking what I see in the mirror.  My stomach isn’t so flabby.  My legs are shaping pretty good. 

In order to NOT miss meat, I am remixing my own recipes.  My key to eating more vegetables is seasoning.  You can go from Cajun cauliflower to lemon pepper cauliflower by simply changing spices.

This flavor remix is to my Shrimp & Cheesy Grits recipe.  Instead of shrimp, I turned the flavor on an array of roasted vegetables 🙂 and black beans.

Roasted Vegetables

1 Red Bell Pepper
1 Head of Cauliflower
1 Small Green Zucchini
1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 teaspoon Chipotle Chili Pepper
1 teaspoon Onion & Herb Seasoning

ONEPreheat oven at 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
TWOClean veggies & cut into small pieces.
THREEPlace veggies in a bowl.
FOURAdd EVOO & seasonings.
FIVEToss until all veggies are well covered.
SIXPlace veggies on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
SEVENRoast veggies in the oven for about 15 minutes or until veggies are browned.

Roasted Veggies

Roasted Veggies

Black Beans

1/2 cup canned vegan black beans rinsed
1 tablespoon chopped shallots
1/2 teaspoon garlic
1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil

ONEAdd oil to a skillet on medium heat.
TWOSauté garlic & shallots until translucent. Be careful to not burn the garlic.
THREEAdd beans to skillet & sauté for about 5 minutes.

Cheesy Grits

1 1/2 cup shredded aged white cheddar cheese
1 ounce cream cheese
2 cups water (plus a 1/4 cup of water set to the side)
1/2 cup grits

ONEAdd water & grits to medium saucepan.
TWOCook mixture on medium heat.
THREEWhisk mixture to prevent from sticking.
FOURAs mixture thicken, turn heat to low.
FIVEAdd cheese to mixture & continue to stir until all cheese is melted.
NOTEAdd a little extra water if necessary prior to adding the cheese. If grits look dry, add a little bit of water.

Assemble Roasted Veggie & Cheesy Grits with Black Beans

ONEAdd grits to a bowl.
TWOAdd beans.
THREETop with roasted veggies.

Roasted Veggies & Cheesy Grits with Black Beans

Roasted Veggies & Cheesy Grits with Black Beans

Vegetarian Enchiladas

I was craving tacos all week. But instead of making tacos, I had planned on breaking from the norm and make a pan of enchiladas. After my run today, I was crazy hungry. Guess who forgot to take the ground turkey out of the freezer to thaw. If you answered me, you were correct. Instead of throwing the idea of enchiladas out the window, I found a can of black beans and turned everything around.

Vegetarian Enchiladas

1 15-ounce can reduced sodium black beans, rinsed
2 small zuchinni squashes, chopped
1/4 cup onions, chopped
1/2 green pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro
1 pinch of salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 pinch ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 10-ounce can red enchilada sauce
5 or 10 corn tortillas (If the tortillas are thin, double up the tortillas.)
1 teaspoon canola oil
Cooking spray or olive oil in spray bottle
1/4 cup your favorite shredded cheese (I used extra sharp cheddar & prairie breeze cheese.)

Preheat oven at 375 degrees.


ONEAdd enchilada sauce, ground cinnamon, and cayenne pepper in a small sauce pan.
TWOCook at low heat for 15 minutes, occasionally stirring to ensure sauce does not stick.
THREESet to the side.


ONEAdd canola oil to skillet over medium heat.
TWOAdd zuchinni, onions, green pepper, chili powder, salt, and garlic powder to skillet. Sauté mixture for about 10 minutes.
THREEAdd beans & cilantro. Continue to cook for about 5 minutes.

Enchilada Filling

Enchilada Filling


ONESpray oil on both sides of each tortilla.
TWOWrap in paper towels.
THREEHeat up in microwave for 30 seconds


ONEAdd about a 1/4 cup of sauce to a small non-stick baking pan or casserole dish.
TWOOver to the side, add about 1/2 cup of filling to the tortillas and roll up. Place enchilada with seam side down in the dish.

Rolled Enchiladas

Rolled Enchiladas

THREECover with the remaining of the sauce.

Sauced Enchiladas

Sauced Enchiladas

FOURTop with cheese.
FIVEI added cilantro & black beans to the top.

Dressed Uncooked Enchiladas

Dressed Uncooked Enchiladas

SIXBake for 20 minutes or until cheese is melted & not burned.

Vegetarian Enchiladas

Vegetarian Enchiladas


Vegetarian Enchiladas

Vegetarian Enchiladas

A Favorite with a Twist: Smoked Cheddar Macaroni & Cheese

Macaroni and cheese is one of my favorite dishes to eat. I can eat macaroni and cheese every other day. I can eat it as a side dish or as an entrée. You can add meat and vegetables. You can use one cheese or a variety of different cheese: American, Meunster, Cheddar, Gruyère, Parmesan, Romano, and the list goes on and on.

I like my macaroni and cheese simple. Give me pasta with great cheeses and I am winning. Check out how I made Smoked Cheddar Macaroni & Cheese:

Smoked Cheddar Macaroni & Cheese

1 cup milk
3/4 cup half & half
2 tablespoons flour NOTE: I used garbanzo flour.
2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
2 cups smoked cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 cup smoked cheddar cheese & extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded mixed for topping
1 cup garlic panko bread crumbs (recipe below)
pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon cracked pepper
4 cups cooked pasta, drained

ONEPreheat oven to 375 degrees.
TWOCombine milk, half & half, melted butter, and flour in a sauce pan. Whisk over low heat until mixture thickens.
THREEAdd salt & peeper.
FOURGradually stir in cheese (Be sure to not use the cheese set aside for topping.) until mixture is completed melted.
FIVEAdd cooked pasta to casserole dish, baking pan, or cast iron skillet coated with oil or cooking spray.
SIXStir in cheese sauce.
SEVENTop with shredded cheddar cheese mixture.
EIGHTTop with garlic pinko bread crumbs.
TENBake for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden brown.

Garlic Panko Bread Crumbs

3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup panko bread crumbs

ONEMelt butter in a skillet over low heat.
TWOAdd chopped garlic. Sauté garlic for about 3 minutes or until garlic is fragrant.
THREEAdd panko bread crumbs.
FOURIncrease to medium heat & stir mixture for about 5 minutes being careful to not burn the bread crumbs.

Mac & Cheese

Smoked Cheddar Mac & Cheese

Celebrate the Big Game: Bean & Corn Empanadas

Anyone who knows me, know that I love me some football. In my world, football is the 5th season that occurs between fall and winter. All I can say is that this girl has it honest. I grew up with food & football & family. Sundays were extra special when we sat around the television cheering & chewing.

The Super Bowl is in two weeks. Parties and get to togethers will be held in celebration of the big dance. Chicken wings, chips, cheese dishes, dips, burgers, and ribs re just a few items on the menu. Many of these items are the beginning of the downward spiral to falling off of the New Year’s Resolution healthy eating journey. Also, many of the dishes are not vegetarian friendly.

Eating what’s good for you does not have to be tasteless and boring. These bean & corn empanadas are sure to please vegetarians and carnivores alike.

Bean & Corn Empanadas

2 9-inch pies crusts
1 15-ounce can black or red kidney beans (take your pick) rinsed & drained
1/4 cup frozen broccoli, thawed
1/4 cup frozen corn, thawed
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
10 to 12 fresh cilantro leaves, chopped fine
1 green onion stalk, chopped fine
1 teaspoon oil
small bowl with a little bit of water

ONEPreheat oven on 375 degrees.
TWO oil in skillet on medium heat.
THREEAdd chopped green onion, brocoli, garlic, and pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes.
FOURAllow mixture to cool.
FIVEAdd seasoned broccoli mixture to food processor. Add cilantro and beans.
SIXChop for about 5 to 7 minutes or until thoroughly combined.
SEVENStir in corn.
EIGHTLine cookie sheets with parchment paper. Spray parchment paper with nonstick cooking spray if parchment paper isn’t non-stick.
Roll out/flatten pie crust.
NINEUsing a 4-inch circle cookie cutter, cut out circles and place on lined cookie sheets. TIP: If you have scraps, combine them & roll them into a ball. Flattened them with your hand.
TENSpoon mixture onto circles. Be sure to leave room along the edges.
ELEVENFold one side over and press edges.
TWELVEDip fork into bowl of water. Crimp edges of empanadas closed.
THIRTEEN Bake empanadas for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.
FOURTEENServe with your favorite dipping sauce or salsa. I served the empanadas with my favorite hoisin sauce.

Bean & Corn Empanadas

Bean & Corn Empanadas

Happy New Year: Simply Raw Zucchini with Sunshine Cool Breeze Dressing

We are well into a new year. I hope the year is bringing you laughter and smiles thus far. With January, comes New Year’s resolutions. I don’t like the word ‘resolution’. I don’t keep resolutions; but the word improvements is an on-going process that gives me an opportunity to succeed. So I will use the word improvement 🙂

One of the improvements that we make concerns improving our health. Whether we set out on the journey to eat healthier or lose weight, we need to equip ourselves with tools that we will be able to sustain in the long run so that we can reach our goals. Great tasting healthy options will keep us on track to better health.

Last year, I made a lifestyle change that I have been able to sustain and carry me into the new year. The change I made was to incorporate more raw vegetables into my day. Eating raw vegetables on a consistent basis doesn’t mean that you are eating raw carrots and celery or the traditional lettuce, tomato, and cucumber salad. There are a host of vegetables that will ensure you do not get bored with eating a dish packed with vitamins and high in fiber.

One of my favorite vegetables is zucchini. I love it sautéed, steamed, and raw. Truth be told, raw zucchini is boring and taste like cardboard. By adding the refreshing dressing below, the zucchini is kicked up to new heights.

Sunshine Cool Breeze Dressing

juice of 1 small lemon
1 1/2 teaspoon agave nectar
8 fresh mint leaves chopped fine
1 pinch cayenne pepper

ONECombine all ingredients in a bowl with lid or bottle with a cap.
TWOShake vigorously to combine all thoroughly combine all ingredients.
THREEPour over your favorite vegetables. Toss the vegetables to make sure they are evenly coated.

I julienned one medium sized zucchini. I tossed the zucchini in the Sunshine Cool Breeze Dressing. I then served the zucchini over a bed of baby spinach and baby arugula for extra vitamins. Yuuuuuuumy!!

Raw Zucchini w/Sunshine Cool Breeze Dressing

Raw Zucchini w/Sunshine Cool Breeze Dressing

Happy Holidays: Christmas Bruschetta with Garlic Crustinis

I love this time of year. I get to hang out with friends and family. Everyone is full of smiles and holiday happiness. Not to mention, the food is amazing. I want to leave you with this appetizer that is sure to be a hit with meat lovers and vegans alike.

Have your fruit and vegetable tray if you like. But this Chrstmas Bruschetta will impress even the pickiest of eaters. To accompany the bruschetta, you can serve your favorite bread. In order to make this a low carb appetizer and to make this dish vegan friendly, have fresh tomato slices on the side.

Bruschetta & Garlic Crustinis

Christmas Bruschetta w/Garlic Crustinis

Christmas Bruschetta

7 Roma tomatoes
2 green tomatoes
6 fresh basil leaves, finely chopped
1/2 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
pinch of salt

ONEWash and remove seeds & drain juice from tomatoes.
TWODice tomatoes in small pieces.
THREEAdd tomatoes to a bowl alon with remaining ingredients.
FOURToss lightly being careful to not smash the tomatoes.

Garlic Crustinis

1 loaf of French bread
about 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
approximate 2 to 4 garlic clove pieces

ONEPreheat oven to 350 degrees.
TWOSlice French bread, making the pieces 1/4 to 1/2 inch in thickness. NOTE: It is best to cut the bread with a bread knife. Also, cut the pieces about the same size. This will allow for consistent toasting.
THREEBrush or drizzle bread pieces with olive oil on both sides. TIP: If you don’t have a brush, use a plastic bottle dispenser used for ketchup or mustard. This way you have better control over the amount of oil used.
FOURPlace on cookie sheet covered with parchment paper.
FIVEBake for approximately 10 minutes or until golden brown.
SIXAllow to cool for 5 minutes.
SEVENRub crustinis with garlic cloves until well covered.

Day 2 Detox Dinner: Vegan Barbeque Lettuce Wraps & Potato Wedges

On day 2 of my detox, I had a taste for barbeque. Yep, I was tempted to go and purchase turkey tips and fries with mild sauce from one of my favorite spots, Uncle John’s. But I held back and came up with this recipe to satisfy my barbeque and fries combo fix. This recipe is made with beans. NOTE: When buying bean,s be sure to read labels to ensure they are not made with meat.

Tex Mex Lettuce Wraps

Vegan Barbeque Lettuce Wraps

Potato Wedges with Dill Sauce

Potato Wedges with Dill Sauce

Vegan Barbeque Lettuce Wraps

1 can Black Beans (reduced sodium)
1/2 cup your favorite Barbeque Sauce
1/2 cup Frozen Corn (thawed)
1 stalk Green Onions (chopped)
1 cup Shredded Carrots
1 teaspoon fresh Minced Garlic
1/2 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper (or to taste)
1/2 cup Roasted Butternut Squash
1 head of Lettuce (clean and separate leaves) NOTE: I used a head of Boston Lettuce.

ONERinse liquid from black beans.
TWOCombine black beans, barbeque sauce, corn, garlic, and cayenne pepper to a medium nonstick skillet.
THREECook for 20 minutes over low to medium heat stirring occasionally.
FOURStir in remaining ingredients. Simmer for an additional 10 minutes.
FIVEAllow to cool before spooning mixture in lettuce leaves.

Potato Wedges

4 small Red Potatoes (scrubbed & cut in wedges)
1/2 teaspoon Cracked Black Pepper
1 teaspoon of Olive Oil

ONEPreheat oven to 400 degrees.
TWOToss red potato wedges in olive oil and pepper.
THREELine a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
FOURPlace potato wedges on lined cookie sheet. Do not overlap wedges.
FIVECook for about 10 to 15 minutes (until light brown on side) and turn over.
SIXCook for about another 5 to 10 minutes.

Cucumber Dill Sauce

1 cup Cucumber (chopped)
1 1/2 teaspoon Fresh Dill (chopped)
1/4 cup filtered Water
1 pinch of salt (optional)

ONECombine all ingredients into your favorite blender.
TWOBlend until smooth.

Day 1 Detox: Chili Blanco & Roasted Butternut Squash

I have been on an eating frenzy. To clean my machine, I decided to detox for 7 days. Seven days may seem like a long time; bit it isn’t that bad. Yes, I could eat a large cheese pizza, but that won’t help my digestive tract.

I believe I should not have to punish myself in order to detox. I am eating a combination of cooked and raw flavorful foods. If you want to ‘detox’, be sure to educate yourself and be sure to be honest with yourself. Be honest about know what you can and cannot do. For instance, I cannot drink smoothies and juices for seven days. If I opted for a liquid detox, I know I would fail after day 1.

If you are responsible for your cooking your meals, be sure to stock up on fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs. My Saturday grocery shopping trip to the grocery store resembled a trip to the farmer’s market.

Grocery Cart @ Mariano's Market

Grocery Cart @ Mariano’s Market

For dinner on Day 1, I made Chili Blanco & Roasted Butternut Squash.

Chili Blanco

1 Medium White Potato (peeled)
1/2 cup filtered Water
1 cup filtered Water
1 can Small White Beans (reduced sodium)
1 can Northern Beans (reduced sodium)
1 Green Onion stalk (chopped)
1 teaspoon Fresh Cilantro (chopped)
1 tablespoon Ground Cumin
3 tablespoons Green Chile Powder
1 teaspoon Black Pepper
1 pinch Pink Himalayan Salt (optional)

ONESteam or boil potato until fork tender.
TWOAdd 1/2 cup of filtered water & potato to a blender. Blend until smooth (replaces tomato paste in traditional chili). NOTE: I preferred using my hand blender versus my standard blender.
THREETransfer the potato purée to a saucepan.
FOURStir in last six ingredients listed.
FIVECook on low heat for 5 minutes.
SIXStir in remaining ingredients.
SEVENCook for 30 minutes on medium heat. Stir occasionally, ensuring chili does not stick.

Chili Blanco

Chili Blanco

Roasted Butternut Squash

12 ounces Butternut Squash (peeled & cut in cubes) NOTE: The grocery store I went to, Mariano’s, sell Butternut squash raw and cubed in bags.
1 tablespoon ground Dried Ancho Chili Pepper

ONEPreheat oven at 400 degrees.
TWOAdd butternut squash to a bowl.
THREEAdd ground dried ancho chili pepper.
FOURToss butternut squash to coat with chili pepper evenly.
FIVELine cookie sheet with parchment paper.
SIXAdd seasoned butternut squash to lined cookie sheet.
SEVENCook for about 10 minutes or until butternut squash is fork tender and a charred crusting begins to form on top.

Roasted Butternut Squash

Roasted Butternut Squash

Meatless Monday: Vegan Mushroom Tacos

Meatless Monday always bring about a challenge for this meat eater. Yes, I have jumped on the Meatless Monday bandwagon. For people who don’t know, Meatless Monday is just that–no meat is eaten on Monday. With no reason in mind, I went to my favorite grocery store and picked up some mushrooms. I put a package of portabella mushrooms in my basket. Right below the portabellas were an interesting ruffled mushroom by the name of maitake. I told myself what the hey and put one maitake in my basket.

Portabella (left & middle) & Maitake (right)

Portabella (left & middle) & Maitake (right)

I was not in the mood to make a soup or sandwich; but I also wasn’t in the mood to browse the Internet for recipes. As usual, I went to the one food that never lets me down, TACOS. I honestly would make a taco out of anything edible 🙂 I cleaned and chopped the mushrooms. I must say, the maitake mushrooms smelled interesting. Since I had already paid my hard earned coins, I simply rolled with them.

You may say, “Mushrooms, yeah right.” If you have the right seasonings and vegetables, trust me you can turn the mundane into magnificent!! With the help of Smoky Paprika Chipotle, fresh Cilantro, Ground Cumin, Onions, Pink Himalayan Salt, and Ground Chili Powder, I transformed the mushrooms into a tasty taco filling.

A Few Key Taco Seasonings

A Few Key Taco Seasonings

Mushroom Taco Filling

Mushroom Taco Filling

I filled my favorite corn tortillas with the Mushroom filling, topped the tacos with chopped Spinach and Black Bean & Corn Salsa. With that said, Meatless Monday Vegan Mushroom Tacos were served.

Black Bean & Corn Salsa
1/2 cup Sweet Corn (frozen or fresh)
1/2 cup Black Beans (Reduced Sodium Canned)
1/4 cup Grape Tomatoes (chopped)
1 teaspoon Garlic (minced)

ONECombine all ingredients in a bowl.
TWOHow easy was that!!

Mushroom Filling
2 Portabella Mushrooms (cleaned & chopped)
1 Maitake Mushroom (cleaned & chopped)
1/4 cup Onions (chopped)
1 teaspoon Olive Oil
1 teaspoon Smoky Paprika Chipotle (any Smoked Chipotle Seasoning should work)
1 teaspoon Ground Cumin
1/2 teaspoon fresh Cilantro (Chopped)
1 dash Pink Himalayan Salt
1 package Corn Tortillas
Your Favorite Greens

ONEBe sure to wash all vegetables thoroughly. Mushrooms sometimes have an excessive amount of dirt.
TWOPlace chopped mushrooms in your favorite blender or food processor. Pulse no more than 3 times. NOTE: The longer you pulse, the finer the mushrooms are chopped.
THREEHeat olive oil in a sauce pan on medium heat.
FOURAdd onions. Cook until translucent.
FIVETurn heat to low.
SIXAdd mushrooms & stir until thoroughly mixed.
SEVENStir in remaining ingredients.
EIGHTCook for 7 to 10 minutes.
NINEAllow to mixture cool slightly.
TENAdd desired amount of mixture to warm tortillas.
ELEVENAdd your favorite toppings. Be sure to top with your favorite greens & salsa.
TWELVETacos are served.

Vegan Mushroom Tacos

Vegan Mushroom Tacos

Conscious Comfort Food: Karyn’s Cooked

With the cold winter days in Chicago, I wanted to stuff my face with mashed potatoes and meatloaf. I didn’t want the heaviness and fat that typically accompanies this dish so I decided to go to Karyn’s Cooked in Chicago’s River North neighborhood located at 738 North Wells Street. Note: Karyn’s Cooked is easily accessible by public transportation (You can take the bus as well as the Brown & Purple elevated train to the Chicago stop).

Karyn's Cooked

Karyn’s Cooked

An acquaintance had been telling me about this restaurant since I moved back to Chicago a few years ago. I tested out a recipe from the owner’s cookbook; but I had not made my way over to the cozy warm restaurant specializing in conscious comfort food.

Karyn’s Cooked offers a variety of vegan/vegetarian options that resemble non-vegan/non-vegetarian dishes that I am familiar with. Chili, Sloppy Joe’s, Mac & Cheese, Pecan Pie, and Bread Pudding are only a small sample of items on the menu.

WARNING: Honey is used in some of the desserts. If you are a vegan who does not consider honey vegan; be sure to ask which dishes are made with honey.

I didn’t order an appetizer. I dived right into ordering the Homestyle Meat Loaf served with Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Shitake Mushroom Gravy, Steamed Broccoli, and Garlic Bread.

Homestyle Meatloaf

Homestyle Meatloaf

As a meat eater, the vegan meatloaf does not have the same texture of the meat version; but this vegan version from Karyn’s Cooked is packed with flavor and isn’t dry. NOTE: The recipe for the Vegan Meatloaf is in the owner’s cookbook, Soak Your Nuts by Karen Calabrese.

The sides rounded out the meatloaf nicely. It only makes sense to offer mashed potatoes and gravy with meatloaf. I must confess that I don’t eat traditional gravy. As a child, gravy was synonymous with Gravy Train dog food. I stepped out of my comfort zone and experienced the shitake mushroom gravy. This gravy isn’t smooth. It is filled with chunks of mushrooms and other veggies. I could have eaten a full bowl of the shitake mushroom gravy and mashed potatoes by itself.

Since I didn’t get an appetizer, I ordered dessert to take home. I chose the Lemon Meringue Pie at the suggestion of my server. I was too stuffed to eat the pie at home. Yep, you read it correctly, I was more than satisfied. I even took leftover meatloaf & gravy home.

The next day, the pie was fabulous. The topping wasn’t too sweet; and it resembled a vegan whipped topping that I had made before. I must say that with each bite, I was amazed how the filling and crust tasted like my mother had made them.

Lemon Pie

Lemon Pie

Karyn’s Cooked is a restaurant that I will frequent as I travel the road of adding more meatless options to my diet. I am upset that it took me this long to get there. When my brothers come to visit, I am going to treat them to Karyn’s Cooked. I want to know what hard core carnivores have to say about Karyn’s Cooked. Be sure to check out Karyn’s Cooked for yourself and tell me what you think.

My Experience @ Karyn's Cooked

My Experience @ Karyn’s Cooked