Veggie Quesadillas From Leftovers

A half package of tortillas has been languishing in the cupboard for a while. One of these days I’m going to learn how to make my own so that I don’t have to buy a giant package for one person. Meanwhile, I needed to do something with the leftovers.

It just so happens that I had an abundance of veggies and some vegan cheese waiting to be tried so it was veggie quesadillas for lunch! Actually, for a couple of meals because they were excellent and I had the supplies.

I just sautéed small amounts of veggies that I already had – onion, green pepper, mushrooms, squash and broccoli in one pan.

In another nonstick pan, I put down a tortilla, added the vegan cheese, and tossed in the veggies. Then I added the top tortilla and let it all warm up and brown on both sides.

Served with some lettuce, black olives, black beans, and barbecue sauce for dipping (you read the right- bbq sauce) and it was a delicious meal.

All ingredients were things I already had that would’ve been wasted and it came together in mere minutes. The green pepper had actually seen better days and was teetering on the edge of becoming compost so I was glad to give it purpose!

What’s your go-to meal for using up leftover veggies? I do a lot of stir fries and often sautée veggies to put on top of a baked potato. When I still ate eggs, omelettes were a wonderful way to use odds and ends.

Comment and share your ideas!

Beyond Burger

A recent trip through Kroger revealed a refrigerated case full of Beyond Burger patties near the check out. I squealed like a little girl and grabbed a package to try.

I’ve had Beyond Burger in restaurants but never had the opportunity to cook it at home.

In case you’re not familiar, it is a simulated beef that contains no meat or dairy. If you eat beef every day, it may be a clear imposter. However, if you’re like me and haven’t tasted cow in a while, it’s a convincing replacement. The texture and taste are great but I will admit that it doesn’t smell quite right. It doesn’t smell bad – just not right. However, it cooks up nicely with no shrinkage and good flavor.

If you are a beef eater and are happy doing that, say no more. Do your thing. I’m not interested in pushing my choices off on anyone.

If you’re interested in eating less meat, this might be a good way to ease into it. And if you’re vegan or vegetarian like me, it’s a fun way to have something that reminds you of your old life without harming an animal or eating meat.

When I stopped eating meat some years ago, there were few faux meats worth eating. Thankfully, many advancements have been made and the options are broadening rapidly. It’s fun rolling up to Burger King for an Impossible Whopper or finding really good fake chicken tenders in the frozen food section.

This stuff is still processed and not something we should be eating every day but it’s a great treat and I highly recommend giving Beyond Burger a whirl if you’re so inclined.

Happiness Is…

Happiness is a homemade meal that comes together in mere minutes. This veggie enchilada dish allowed me to use up odds and ends of yellow squash, onion, peppers, mushrooms, broccoli and spinach that might have been wasted. It took just a few minutes to prep and twenty minutes to bake!

Happiness is also homemade “Nicecream” made in the blender with just three ingredients – all of which have names you can pronounce!

How Lucky Are We?

How fortunate are we to live in a place where this bounty is accessible year round at a store? I think about it all the time but don’t say it nearly enough.

I’m grateful for access to affordable fresh foods. People the world over would give anything for easy access to fresh, delicious fruits and vegetables. Here we have it as close as our local grocer or farmer’s market.

What small thing are you grateful for that you don’t say nearly enough?

Homemade Nice Cream

There’s nothing better than a dish of ice cream on a hot summer day. Since embracing plant based eating, I’m constantly on the prowl for ways to transform unhealthy comfort foods into something plant based.

Turns out, chocolate ice cream is the simplest thing to figure out.

I looked at several recipes but it seemed like one would be too dry, another would taste more like bananas than chocolate – so I doctored up one into something that suited my tastes.

Homemade Chocolate Nice Cream

2 cups of frozen sliced bananas

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1 cup unsweetened almond milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until creamy. If this seems too dry for your blender, just add a little more almond milk to get things going.

Once it’s well blended, pour your mixture into a parchment paper lined container to store in the freezer. It’s that easy. At this point you may wish to add some chunks of vegan chocolate or nuts.

A couple of things to note. You can freeze this to enjoy later or can enjoy as soft serve right now! Add a little more almond milk for milkshakes!!

Also, I allowed mine to freeze overnight and it was hard to scoop. Next time, I will freeze in single serve containers. That way I can set it out to soften just a bit before eating.

Being Smart About Food

Earlier this year I figured out a way to shop for groceries every two weeks and to save money in the process. The goal was to have nutritious meals and snacks but to be more strategic about it during a No Spend Month. I’ve held onto much of what I learned because it simply works well for me.

First of all, you quickly learn which produce items last the longest. For example, apples and oranges have a longer shelf life than grapes or berries. So you use the grapes and berries during week one and save the rest for later.

Salads are best enjoyed for the first week while frozen veggies are a nice change for week two. Although, if I’m in the mood for salad, I’ve been known to cheat and stop at the store to grab a few things!

At some point I realized that all my bananas were going into smoothies so I could buy ripe bananas, dice ’em up, and freeze them to be ready when needed.

In fact, many things freeze well. I buy mushrooms for stir fry and flash freeze the extras for later. Lots of foods can be frozen for cooking and other things keep well when properly stored in the fridge far longer than most people think.

I prefer fresh foods but usually keep some plain frozen steak fries and lots of frozen veggies. I rarely buy the cook in the bag kind because they’re more costly and I never need an entire bag of frozen peas at one time. Buy a regular bag of cheap frozen peas and you can cook them as needed.

Plain and simple, you find ways to be less wasteful and to meal plan better. I made the above pictured pasta primavera using a combination of stuff from the fridge and fresh veggies that I had flash frozen last weekend. The sauce was something from a jar that I had leftover from another dish. The pasta was the end of a package I had opened a couple of weeks ago.

This ability to plan, salvage and preserve has come in handy these last few weeks. Very little is getting wasted right now. I even discovered that leaf lettuce can be frozen for smoothies!

Another thing – when I come home from the store I jot down a list of things that need to be used first and hang it on the fridge. Things tend to get shuffled around and forgotten to languish in the back.

Given how much food is wasted in this country, I would hope that people are using this uncertain time to be more careful and thoughtful about food. That’s probably a pipe dream but this seems like the perfect time to embrace the old adage- use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.

I’m not advocating that anyone do without but I would like to think we could embrace using and making do.

What about you? Are you being more careful with resources? Have your attitudes about shopping and using what you have changed lately? Let’s talk!