Brainstorming Dinner? Slice and Dice through Monday and Tuesday with these Simple Weeknight Recipes

After a long and stressful workday, it can be daunting to break out Julia Child’s opus, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking,” let alone speed-dialing your favorite pizza delivery joint. When all you want to do is kick off your heels and gaze into a reflective pool of Syrah, preparing a homecooked meal and even ordering takeout seem monumental.

Okay, we guess cooking vs. ordering delivery aren’t exactly equal. Living where we do, Clark and I can do the Chinese, Sushi, Thai, Italian, Indian, and Greek shuffle all week long, easy. But can our pockets (and waistlines) afford it? Probably not

I’m in love with the idea of cooking for a variety of reasons: you can control what you eat, guaranteeing you’re eating more nutritiously when you prepare your meals; it’s a way to connect with those you love through cooperation and communication, plus cooking is fun. Yes, there’s something to say for kitchen therapy. Working with real ingredients after a full day of keyboards and smartphone screens is soul soothing. And the work of it, “chop, chop, chop” on the cutting board is downright meditative. Throw in a healthy and delicious meal at the end of it to share with my favorite person and cooking seems like a no-brainer.

But the time to prepare a good meal and mental space required to be organized enough to know what to prepare is not easy. Until <drum roll> now! I’d like to share with you two of our favorite recipes to make in a pinch. They only require a few ingredients, so both are cost friendly. We tend to stick to a plant-based diet, so these are meat-free as well. Why meat free? We can thank Netflix and their documentaries for this, plus my high cholesterol. But that story will be a whole other post. 🙂 We’ve included some of our favorite valued wines that go great with these dinners. Note: a ton of this is ordered through Peapod or down the street at our local Farmer’s Market.

Enjoy!

Recipe #1: Tofu burritos

What you’ll need:

  • A glass (or 3) of rose or white wine (to drink, not for cooking) **Sacha Lichine Rose ($10) and Fritz Riesling ($13) are some of our favorite summer wines right now
  • 1 package of extra firm tofu (we like Nature’s Promise)
  • 1 whole wheat tortilla (we like Mission 100% Whole Wheat Large Flour Tortillas)
  • 1 small onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Olive Oil
  • Brown Rice (we like Minute Instant Brown Rice)
  • Butter (we like Earth Balance Vegan Butter)
  • 1 can or Kidney or Black Beans (we like Nature’s Promise)
  • Seasonings: Paprika, Cayenne Pepper, Taco seasoning, salt, pepper
  • 1 ripe Avocado
  • Cilantro
  • 1 Lime

Directions:

1.) Cut onion and garlic up into tiny pieces – because everything’s better with these 2, ama right?

2.) Drizzle olive oil into large frying pan

3.) Place the onion and garlic in the pan

4.) Cook for 5 minutes between low/medium heat, or until they start to slightly brown

5.) Rinse the tofu, then add it to the onion and garlic – start breaking it up with a spatula or wooden spoon

6.) Start sprinkling on the spices – the tofu can be pretty bland without it, so when you think you’re adding too much, you’re not

7.) Heat up the rice on the stove or microwave, whatever your preference – add a small scoop of the butter for flavor and creamy texture (this should only take 8-10 minutes)

8.) Add beans to the rice once it’s cooked through.

9.) In a separate bowl, smash up a very ripe avocado, add a handful of cilantro (chop up first), take the rest of the rest of the chopped onion, add the juice of half of a lime, salt and pepper to taste.

10.) Once the tofu is warmed up, place a scoop (or 3) onto the wrap. Followed by the rice and bean mixture, and a dollop (or 4 dollops) of the fresh guac. We like to have ours open faced.

So, what’d you think? Satisfying and colorful, tofu burritos always make me happy. This next one also has some wonderful aromatics that will fill your living space with that great “homecooked” vibe. Don’t be surprised if your neighbors invite themselves over for dinner!

Recipe #2: Veggie Lasagna

What you’ll need:

  • A nice Cab or Malbec **Zolo ($14) and Clos du Bois ($10) are our favorite reasonable reds right now
  • 1 package of whole wheat lasagna (we like Barilla)
  • 1 can of tomato sauce (we like Victorias or Cucina Antica)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Olive Oil
  • Veggies such as yellow or green squash, broccoli, mushrooms, onions, eggplant
  • Cheese optional (mozzarella, parm, ricotta)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Mixed greens or Arugula
  • 1 Avocado
  • 1 Carrot
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 cup of ground cashews

Directions:

1.) Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees

2.) Sauté the onion and garlic on medium-low heat for 5 minutes or until it starts to brown

3.) Add the veggies and cook until limp (mushrooms should give up their liquid) Remove veggies to a large bowl.

4.) To assemble the vegetable lasagna: Cover the bottom of a 9-by-13-inch dish with a layer of the tomato sauce. Add a layer of noodles (we usually add 3-4 for each layer). Cover the noodles with sauce. Spread the veggies over the sauced noodles. Cover with a layer of noodles and another layer of sauce. Add the final layer of noodles, and a last topping of sauce. Cover with foil and bake in the oven for 45 minutes. Remove the foil, sprinkle with the cashew (or cheese if you wish) and return to the oven for 15 minutes. Let lasagna sit for 15 minutes before serving.

5.) To assemble the salad: Toss up the mixed greens, cut up and add ½ the avocado, peel and add the carrot, drizzle about 1 tbsp of olive oil (eye ball it), squeeze a quarter of the lemon, add salt and pepper to taste.

We certainly hope you enjoy these recipes – Monday and Tuesday night meals may now be the dinners you look forward to most during the week!

~Carley

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