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Quick & Easy Weeknight Dinner – Grilled Vegetables & Rice!

1 Sep

Two staples that will pretty much always be found in my kitchen: vegetables and rice. Since we haven’t ventured to the grocery store in far too long, dinner had to be whatever we had on hand! After a rather laborious dinner the other night, I was in no mood for drawn-out dinner shenanigans, so N got some rice cooking while I was on my way home. I whisked together a quick+simple marinade for the vegetables (soy sauce, ginger, sesame seed oil, LOTS of garlic, agave nectar, & chili paste), sliced some zucchini and green bell pepper and let sit for a few minutes while the grill was heating. The awesome thing about vegetarian marinades? They can also be used as sauce after everything is cooked without worrying about contamination from raw meats! Nom nom nom. While the vegetables were grilling and the marinade was looking a little lonely, I sliced up some beefsteak tomatoes and let those soak up the lovely sauce for a bit. No need to grill the tomatoes, these tasted great raw! Once done, everything gets thrown in a bowl to commence devouring.


  • Need protein? Use Quinoa instead of rice. Thought of doing this after the rice started cooking, unfortunately…
  • Turn this all into a wrap! Add some beans & cheese and you got yerself a burrito.

Seitan (Carne) Asada & Spanish Rice

10 Aug

I always forget to put an apron on. I have a perfectly awesome apron that my mother made just for me! BUT I ALWAYS FORGET TO WEAR IT. My vigorous stirring of Arborio rice left me with tomato splatter all over my shirt. The things I do for good food!

Seitan is definitely my favorite out of all the meat-alternatives out there. It’s chewy and flavorful, but isn’t soggy and strangely textured like some of those “others” out there (*ahem* tofu). I’ve made it a few times before, but always find it to be an annoying process even though there’s only a few steps involved. There are so many different ways to prepare it and I decided to use the Bible of all the vegan cookbooks: Veganomicon. It’s a basic seitan recipe that you can shape to your own tastes or to match whatever recipe you’ll be using it for. Definitely better than store-bought!

Seitan Recipe (in Veganomicon & The PPK)

The only changes I made to the recipe were spices, in order to complement the carna asada marinade that I would be using for the seitan. I added lots of garlic powder, ketchup, worcestershire sauce, and omitted the lemon juice. Prepared as the recipes states, except I just left my hunk of gluten in one blob instead of dividing into two.  I wanted something that I could make slices out of and felt this was a good approach.

Carne Asada Marinade

Seeing that I was missing quite a few vital ingredients to the carne asada marinade and didn’t feel like meandering to the grocery store, I winged it. I combined elements from recipes on AllRecipes and Simply Recipes to come up with a quasi-carne asada marinade. If you have a reliable and authentic recipe, use that. The marinade I whipped up was great, but needed a bit more spice to it (jalapenos would have solved this problem). Also, I was only able to marinade the seitan, zucchini and bell peppers for an hour. The longer the better! Two very essential ingredients to the marinade (in my humble opinion): fresh garlic cloves and fresh cilantro!

Slice the seitan into long strips and place in non-reactive bowl with sliced zucchini and bell peppers. Pour marinade over and let sit for at least a couple of hours. Fire up the ol’ grill and cook until desired crunchiness in vegetables. Roll in a whole wheat tortilla, drizzle with some leftover marinade and serve with fresh avocado, pico de gallo or spanish rice!

Spanish Rice

When I learned that one of the best ways to prepare rice is to saute it in some garlic and oil before adding water, rice became a whole lot more exciting. For spanish rice, I prepared some arborio rice (the stuff you use for risotto) using a can of unsalted diced tomatoes and low sodium vegetable stock. Towards the end I stirred in more garlic powder, onion powder, cumin and chili powder. Easy! Not particularly authentic, but delicious.


Wednesday already? Hard to believe that my classes start in 12 days…and I’m running the Warrior Dash in 11 days…eek! This also means that the kids that incessantly loiter at the library will also be back in school very soon…yeeeeeessssss…! Happy Hump Day, everyone! 🙂 The weekend will be here soon!

Grilled Zucchini with Rosemary Risotto & Balsamic Reduction

8 Aug

Late night blogging! I’m much too good at procrastinating. I’m currently lounging on our couch, half-watching the movie Sideways and listening to our ice cream maker churn some coconut milk ice cream. Delightful Monday night, no? Since I get off work so late on Mondays and Wednesdays, I always feel so crunched for time when making dinner, so I try to just whip things up quickly (or if all else fails, LEFTOVERS!)

Tonight’s dinner involved a little to much slaving over a hot stove, but was quite worth it. Arborio rice turned into creamy risotto is one of my favorite sides. I made this with some vegetable stock, cooking sherry (very important!) and rosemary stirred in at the end. A patron at the library came in and gave us a large stash of her homegrown zucchini squash, so I cut them in diagonal, 1/2″ slices, tossed in canola oil + salt + pepper and grilled them for a few minutes each side. Finally, the balsamic reduction. I must admit, I adore balsamic vinegar and always try to find a way to work it into a dish. I’ve never actually made a reduction, but it was easy enough. The only problem? I reduced mine too much! It turned into the texture of taffy. Tasty tasty balsamic taffy. Ah well, live and learn! The reduction was just some balsamic vinegar + maple syrup + onion powder + garlic powder + salt/pepper over medium heat for like 20 minutes. So many sweet, tangy flavors mixed into one dish. Now to find other things to make a balsamic reduction for…

I wandered into the thrift store about two blocks away from I work today and really had to use all my self-control to not buy more Pyrex dishes. I found a bunch of mixing bowls in various patterns (Homestead, Old Orchard and Snowflake patterns). I’m hoping they will still be there on a 50% off day! 🙂

Oooh, I think it might be time to stir the chocolate chips in to the ice cream…yum!