What I’ve Been Cooking Lately

If you know me and my cooking you know that I get a lot of recipes from Pinterest and Instagram. Not all online recipes are created equally, so there are a handful of blogs and recipe sites I follow and trust when they share new recipes. I always look at a recipe with a critical eye and often make tweaks. Sometimes the tweaks are done out if necessity because I’m missing an ingredient, and sometimes for personal taste.

Lately I’ve been making recipes that cook in under 30 minutes, or have leftovers for lunches for me later in the week, or for freezing for dinners after out little girl is born in a little over 2 weeks! Below are some of my new favorite recipes and I hope they will become a new favorite for you too! Let me know how you make out in the comments below.

One-Pot Creamy Mushroom and Spinach Orzo – The Kitchn

Prep and Cook Time: 30 minutes

One pot orzo
Courtesy of The Kitchn

Once I tried this cooking technique for the first time, I was hooked. After sauteeing the mushrooms and garlic add your liquids with the orzo and stir until the orzo is cooked and the liquid is mostly absorbed. Add your Parmesan and you have tender orzo swimming in a velvety, dreamy sauce without using any heavy cream. This one-pot meal comes together in under 30 minutes and most of that time is spent stirring the pot.

What I Did Differently:

  • Added meat: I know this is a vegetarian recipe, but I added pancetta and crisped it up with the mushrooms and garlic. You could add chorizo or bacon instead. The recipe would still be totally delicious without the addition of meat as well.
  • Added spice: I also threw in ~1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes at the same time. Next time I want to try adding lemon zest and juice from 1 lemon with the chicken stock and milk.
  • Used lighter milk: I used 2% milk instead of whole because that’s what I had in the fridge
  • , and it still came out delicious! I’m not sure skim milk would yield the same creaminess, but 1% milk would likely be fine as well if that’s all you have on hand.

Links: Website / Pinterest

Spicy Peanut Tofu Bowls – Pinch of Yum

Prep and Cook Time: 30 minutes

Courtesy of Pinch of Yum

In an attempt to cut down on the amount of animal products Tom and I consume, I began hunting for vegan recipes. This recipe for Spicy Peanut Tofu Bowls from Pinch of Yum caught my eye since so much of the cooking was hands off, and the peanut sauce sounded really tasty.

I have struggled in the past when it comes to preparing tofu, but I decided to give this recipe a shot anyway since the author made it look so easy in the video with the recipe. The key is to get as much water out of it as possible before cooking. I usually cut the thick slab in half so I have 2 ~1/2″ thick pieces. I then wrap them side by side in a clean hand towel and place on a plate with a heavy dish on top. I use my cast iron griddle. I then leave the tofu on the counter like this for a couple of hours before I make dinner.

Once I start cooking the whole thing usually only takes me ~30 minutes to make. To make the recipe even easier I use microwaveable brown basmati rice, which I usually throw in the microwave right before the veggies are done roasting. This is also a great way to use up leftover takeout rice! This recipe has quickly become one of our favorites and I hope you enjoy it too!

What I Did Differently:

  • Cooking the tofu: I have not been able to find corn starch anywhere since I got to Dublin, so I toss the tofu in a mixture of flour, garlic powder, salt, and pepper instead. I also don’t have enough room in my oven to cook two large sheet pans at the same time, so I lightly pan fry the tofu rather than pan roast it. I usually combine vegetable oil and sesame oil in the pan and turn the tofu a couple of times, until most of the sides are light brown. The texture is a nice contrast from the rest of the ingredients. I do this while the veggies roast.
  • The sauce: I’ve been making it without a food processor, just a whisk. Start out slow or you’ll get oil all over yourself like I did the first time. I also usually thin it out with water since it usually comes out very thick. I typically have enough left over for another dinner the following week. If you’re not sure you’ll want to make this recipe more than once, half the sauce recipe. You’ll still have plenty for one dinner.
  • Add more veggies: I had some extra mushrooms lying around so I added those once. They came out delicious. You can roast them in with the other veggies or lightly saute them in a pan with some vegetable and sesame oils.

Links: Website / Pinterest

Portuguese Chorizo and Kale Soup – Adapted from Rachael Ray’s 30 Minute Meals

Prep and Cook Time: 60-65 minutes


Courtesy of Food Network

My mom was a big Rachel Ray fan back in the day and owned her 30 Minute Meals cookbooks. This was one of my favorite recipes she would make. When I started making it on my own I always found the cooking time took longer to cook those potatoes. I also really like crisping up the chorizo with the onions, allowing the oils from the sausage to permeate the broth of the soup.

What I Did Differently:

My version of Rachel Ray’s recipe tweaks a couple of the ingredients (less chorizo, more stock), but mostly changes around the order of the steps and increases the cook time. To make up for the added time, I make this recipe on a Sunday and have leftovers the next day when I don’t feel like cooking.

I usually pair this soup with crusty bread. Loaf not crusty? Throw it in a pre-heated 400 F oven for 10-15 minutes. Loaf 2-3 days old? Make garlic Parmesan toasts: slice bread and top with salted butter, garlic powder and grated Parmesan cheese. Arrange on a baking sheet and cook under broiler until golden brown.

Links: My version of recipe

No Recipe Cooking: Taco Ground Beef and Sweet Potato

Prep and Cook Time: 30 minutes

I’ve been having fun making dinner without the constraints of a recipe. I love trying new recipes but sometimes it sucks being glued to my tablet for the whole process and it always takes longer to get dinner on the table. New recipes also often require purchasing new ingredients I don’t already have in my cabinets. In an attempt to shorten my grocery list and time spent in the kitchen making dinner every week, I’ve been trying to freestyle with my cooking more often.

This recipe came from a sale on ground beef and my love of sweet potatoes. Assuming I have the spices I need in my cabinet already, I really only need to buy the beef, a large sweet potato, and some type of veggie each time I want to make it. Tom and I split a sweet potato when I make this for dinner but there is always leftover beef. Buy an extra sweet potato to have leftovers for lunches later in the week!

Since the whole purpose is to cook without a recipe, I will list the ingredients I use and the general steps, but I won’t be getting too specific. Taste the meat as you go (after it’s cooked of course) and adjust the seasoning to your taste!

Don’t eat beef? This recipe is delicious with ground turkey as well. Don’t eat meat? This recipe works well with tempeh too for an easy vegan meal! Just increase the amount of spices and use vegetable stock.

Top with plain Greek yogurt, cheese, or avocado

Pair with roasted broccoli, sauteed kale, or add spinach to beef just before it’s finished cooking.

Link: Non-Recipe

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