Recipe: Spicy Szechuan Style Green Beans (a la PF Changs)

In our recent Yasukochi Family Farms CSA box, we received 5 fistfuls (about a pound) of fresh green beans. I cleaned them, put them in a large ziploc bag in the fridge until I could be struck by inspiration.

I was doing the end-of-week veg prep Sunday morning (to make room for the new box arriving Monday), and I came across the green beans. I was watching tik tok last night and saw a video for spicy green beans. I decided to give it a go.

To start, I searched online for a bunch of recipes and Frankestein’d together a recipe using what we had on hand, which wasn’t much. Our fridge died last summer and I still haven’t replaced all of the condiments, in part because of supply chain issues, and also because of freaking inflation.

Spicy Szechuan Style Green Beans

Ingredients

  • 1 lb fresh green beans, trimmed
  • 2 T. your favorite cooking oil (I used grapeseed)
  • 2 T. Diced Garlic (It’s ok to use the stuff in a jar)
  • 1 T. Chili Paste or Sriracha (whatever you have)
  • 2 t. onion powder
  • 1 green onion, white and light green parts only
  • 3 T. Soy sauce (I used low sodium)
  • 1/4 c. water
  • 1 T. rice vinegar (or white- whatever you have)
  • Juice of half an orange

Optional, but tasty

  • Sesame Seeds
  • Red Pepper Flakes

Directions

  1. In a large pan or wok, heat oil.
  2. Cook green beans for 5-8 minutes, or until they start to brown and wilt. If your green beans have been stored in the fridge, it will take longer.
  3. While the beans cook, add the 1 T. garlic, chili paste, onion powder, and green onion to a small bowl and combine.
  4. After the beans have browned and wilted, add the chili/garlic mixture and combine/coat the green beans. Cook for 3-ish minutes on medium until the garlic is fragrant.
  5. Add the remaining liquid ingredients (I poured all of them into a mixing cup and set it aside until this step, but you can pour them directly into the pan/wok), cooking on low until some of the water evaporates. Remove from heat, and add sesame seeds and red pepper flakes (less than 1 tablespoon each).

This is a great side dish for any Asian food. I served it for breakfast -grown ups only- over basmati rice, topped with a jammy egg. It was very filling.

This recipe is vegan/vegetarian. If you are sensitive to gluten, replace your soy with tamari or coconut aminos.

Back To School Sale from Yasukochi Family Farms CSA!

Two things I love: Fresh produce and deals! Thanks to  Yasukochi Family Farms we are able to get both through September 10th.

Now through 9/10/2022 you can score 4 Regular boxes for $108, or 4 Jumbo boxes for $152.

I get a Regular sized box each week, and it’s good for a family of 4 or smaller. A Jumbo-sized Box is perfect for larger families or for families that are vegetarians or vegans.

Here are pictures of a box we received earlier this year.

This is the type of variety that comes in the boxes each week! Each week the box is stuffed full with the freshest. in season fruits and veggies! And don’t forget there are add-ons too! Berries, local honey, olive oil, farm-fresh eggs, and more!

I’m partnering with Yasukochi Family Farms this month to bring you all of the best deals and freshest produce! I’ll be posting pics on my socials as well.

 

7/11/2022 Weekly Meal Plan

0a5e9dab796cea8a07eabe4eb4795b9e.jpgSummer break is here! We’ve got all sorts of adventures planned, you can check out some of our adventures here.

Summer school started, and I’m back on campus helping teachers and kiddos for the next two weeks. Then the big kid is going to equestrian camp for a week- he’s stoked.

This weekend we delved deep into our summer to-do list. I cleaned the garage, and pictures were posted on Instagram.  We also washed, dried, and put away ALL of the laundry, it was an insane undertaking.

The kids and I went to Costco late last week for our quarterly stock-up trip- Trash bags, toilet paper, paper towels, and of course we got a rotisserie chicken. It’s featured a bit in this week’s meal planning.

No CSA boxes until the weather cools down and I can be home when the boxes are delivered. With the heat and the lack of shade on my patio, if we aren’t home when it’s delivered, some of the more delicate foods can spoil.

We’ve been trying a lot of new foods lately, thanks to the really great freebies from Social Nature lately too. It’s fun to try new foods. I received a few more coupons over the weekend, so I’ll visit Sprouts sometime this week to pick up the new foods. I’m focusing on snacks and treats from Social Nature.

For those of you that are new to meal planning, I’ve got an easy 101 style post here with super easy tips and steps. After you get that down, here is info about batch or freezer cooking.

I’ve gotten a pretty good inventory of the pantry, freezer, and fridge done (I try to update it after every shopping trip), so I’m able to plan meals and use up what we’ve got with little waste.

I only post our dinner plans for the week, because our other meals are usually the same each day.

Breakfast: Coffee with 1/2 and 1/2  for me, and pancakes or something along those lines for the kids. They are also into fruit and bagels for breakfast. Lately, the big kid has been digging protein shakes in the morning. This is his favorite kind. 

Lunch: I have a plastic tote in the cupboard full of self-serve snacks. I buy treats and snacks in bulk and fill up snack-sized zip-top bags. This is really helpful for the summer when for some reason, kids are starving all the time. The kids get free lunch at summer school too!

Dinner: We finished our last Dream Dinner last week! I’ll be ordering more next month once the new menu comes out. I’m trying to get us to eat together as a family more often and get the kids into eating more fruits and veg, so you’ll notice that our meals are pretty simple this week.

  • Monday: Buttered noodles, fruit, cheese & crackers

  • Tuesday: Beef kebabs (from Costco), rice, salad, pita bread

  • Wednesday: Chicken broccoli casserole 

  • Thursday: homemade chicken soup, grilled cheese

  • Friday: Takeout night!
  • Saturday:  Leftovers
  • Sunday:  Breakfast for dinner, I’m hoping for waffles or omlettes.

Recipe: Hot Honey Ginger Carrots!

This recipe is so easy and so tasty. You probably already have some (if not all) of these ingredients in your kitchen.

We get carrots in our Yasukochi Family Farms CSA box every week, and with a few extras we have hanging around in our fridge, I make these weekly.

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 lbs of carrots
  • 2 T oil of your choice, I used Yasukochi Farms Olive Oil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 3 Tablespoons Yasukochi Farms Honey
  • Pinch Ground Ginger
  • Pinch Pepper Flakes

Directions:

  1. Place a foil-lined baking sheet in a cold oven. Pre-heat to 425 degrees.
  2. While the oven and pan heat, peel and cut into spears or bite-sized pieces, and toss carrots in oil, salt, and pepper.
  3. Roast carrots in the oven for 20 minutes, stirring mid-way.
  4. Once the carrots are cooked, toss in a bowl with honey, ginger, and pepper flakes, as serve right away.

These carrots are so good. If you don’t want the heat from the pepper flakes, omit them. The honey and ginger plays nicely with the natural sweetness from the carrots.

Family Recipe: Baked Red Pesto and Roasted Veggie Pasta

This recipe is easy to make, and amazing. It uses Red Pesto, which has a tomato base. It’s warm, filling, and comforting.

The first thing you need to do is roast some veggies. Check my recipe here. I roast 5-ish lbs of veggies each week, so we usually have some in the fridge.

 

Baked Red Pesto and Roasted Veggie Pasta

Ingredients:

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Boil salted water and cook pasta per package directions. As you drain, reserve some of the pasta water (about 1/2 cup).
  3. In a large baking dish (11×13) mix roasted veggies, pasta, red pesto, and add pasta water a little bit at a time, until all the pasta is coated. You may not need all 1/2 cup.
  4. Mix in 1/2 of the cheese.
  5. Smooth the mixture down into the baking dish, and bake for 20 minutes covered.
  6. After 20 minutes, top with the remaining cheese and continue to bake uncovered for 10-ish minutes until the cheese is brown and bubbly.
  7. Serve with garlic bread and a green salad.

Serves 6-8. This re-heats well, if there are any leftovers.

Notes:

  • This dish is vegetarian, but not vegan. This is a vegan red pesto, but I’ve not tried it. To make it vegan, use a vegan red pesto and vegan Italian Cheese blend.
  • Pesto is not a nut-free product! If you have a nut allergy, be careful!
  • Feel free to use your favorite pasta (high protein, gluten-free, made from soy, etc). I do not recommend shirataki noodles- They have a weird texture and smell (seriously).

 

Veggie Loaded Zuppa Toscana Recipe!

I’ve posted my copycat Zuppa Toscana recipe before and it’s good, but this recipe is better! Heartier, more filling, and best yet- Loaded with Veggies. We got all of the veggies from our Yasukochi Family Farms CSA box. To learn more about these awesome produce boxes, check out my post here.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lb of Italian Sausage (hot or mild, your choice)
  • 3 T. crumbled cooked bacon (I like the kind from Costco)
  • 2 T. Butter
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 ribs of celery, diced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 T. Italian Seasoning
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 3 medium potatoes, sliced into bite-sized pieces (I left the skin on- it’s up to you)
  • 1-quart chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 bag triple-washed spinach
  • 1 can (12 oz) evaporated milk (or 12 oz milk of your choice)

Directions:

  1. In a large stockpot, cook and crumble Italian Sausage
  2. Add in bacon and heat  until sizzling
  3. Add butter, onions, carrots, and celery. Cook until onions are translucent (about 10 minutes).
  4. Add garlic, and herbs/bay leaf- cook until fragrant.
  5. Add broth, and scrape brown cooked bits off the bottom of the pot.
  6. Add Potatoes, cook on medium with the lid on the pot until the potatoes are soft (about 15 minutes).
  7. Remove lid, turn the stove up to high, add spinach. Stir and incorporate the spinach until wilted.
  8. Turn the stove down to low, add milk, and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
  9. Remove Bay leaf prior to serving.

This makes 10-12 servings. Serve with bread of your choice. I like to top with a little parmesan cheese.

Notes/Substitutions:

  • If you prefer Kale, substitute for the spinach and add another 5-10 minutes of cooking time.
  • This soup keeps well in the fridge for up to a week, and it freezes well.
  • If you are a vegetarian, substitute 2 cans of rinsed/drained cannellini beans in place of the Italian sausage (or meat-free Italian sausage), and use crumbled vegetarian/vegan bacon. Use Vegetable broth, and 12 oz. alternative milk (I like almond or hazelnut for this recipe). Add in 1/2 t. Fennel Seed, and a pinch of red pepper flakes (to mimic the flavor of Italian sausage) when using beans.

 

Vegetarian Recipe Round Up

It’s time for some yummy veggie meals!

Most of these are vegetarian, not vegan. These are recipes that I feed my family, so they are kid-approved and don’t require any weird, expensive ingredients.

And as a bonus, many of the ingredients for these ingredients are frequently given out in Neighborhood Distributions.

Trying to Add Veggies to Your Meals?

Is one of your New Years Resolutions to eat better or increase your intake of fruits and veggies?

Since we have been getting CSA boxes from Yasukochi Family Farms we’ve been adding tons of fresh fruit and veg to our diet. It’s fun to get the kids involved in preparing and tasting new and different fruits and veggies.

I’ve made a round-up with some of my favorite fruit and veggie recipes to inspire you to add a little more “green” to your family’s meals!

New Recipe: Chipotle Black Bean Enchilada Casserole

This is a super easy, yummy recipe. My kids love it because it’s cheesy, and vegetarian (important for my big kid). I’m making a big batch for dinner this week, with plenty of leftovers!

It freezes well so you can make a bigger batch and have some for later.

Chipotle Black Bean Enchilada Casserole

Serves 6-8

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag MorningStar Farms® Chipotle Black Bean Crumbles (12 oz)
  • 3 cups cheese, divided (I use Mexican blend)
  • 1 large (28 oz) enchilada sauce (I like green)
  • 16-19 corn tortillas, torn into bite-size pieces
  • 1 bag (12 oz-ish) fajita blend (that’s onions and peppers)
  • spray release

Directions:

  1. Spray a 9×11 baking dish with spray release.
  2. Layer torn tortillas, black bean crumbles, fajitas blend, tortillas, sauce, and cheese.
  3. Layer until pan is filled, top with cheese.
  4. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes until bubbly.
  5. Remove foil and continue to bake for 10-15 minutes until the top is brown and bubbly.

Serve with sour cream, salsa, and diced black olives (optional, but a family favorite). I serve with a Mexican Caesar Salad, or Cilantro Lime Rice-a-Roni.

To make this dish vegan, use vegan cheese.

Mexican Cesar Salad

Ingredients:

  • 6-8 cups of your favorite lettuce/lettuce blend (romaine and bibb is great!)
  • 2 tomatoes cubed/sliced
  • ½ cup purple onion, cut into rings
  • 1 small can corn, drained and rinsed
  • ¼ c ranch dressing
  • ½ c your favorite salsa

Directions:

  1. Combine the salsa and ranch together, chill in fridge 6-8 hours before servings. This allows the flavors to blend.
  2. Toss the veggies in a chilled salad bowl with the dressing.
  3. Top with ¼ c crushed corn chips/tortilla chips for some added crunch!

Serve topped with grilled chicken breasts for an entree or without meat as a side dish.  Serves 3 as an entree, serves 6 as a side dish.

 

Tutorial: Meal Prep with Protein Bowls!

We don’t eat a lot of meat. Partially because our fridge/freezer is still broken, and it’s getting really expensive. So we’ve been eating more non-meat proteins lately.

This tutorial is more like a choose your own adventure. Depending on your dietary restrictions, food likes and dislikes, and what you have in your pantry and refrigerator will greatly influence how your protein bowls turn out.

The base of your bowl is going to be a grain. We used red and white quinoa, but you can use brown rice, bulgur, Right Rice (which isn’t actually rice), you could use high protein pasta like the kind made with lentils, or if you don’t like any of those you could just use regular pasta, noodles, or white rice. It won’t be as high in protein. We prepared 8-ish cups of quinoa cooked per package directions with vegetable broth.

Your next step is to prep your vegetables. The vegetables will take up the bulk of this dish. Because we get a variety of veggies each week with our Yasukochi Farms CSA box, it was easy to select our veggies. We used onions, carrots, celery, peppers (bell peppers), zucchini, mushrooms, and bok choy. We added cherry tomatoes uncooked directly to the bowls while packing. 

Cut your veggies into bite-size pieces (you want to end up with about 8-10 cups of veggies, and sauté them in about a tablespoon of oil (I love avocado oil, but it’s up to you).

Because you will be re-heating these veggies before serving, cook them until they are al dente, or still slightly crisp. Otherwise, they can get mushy.

I started with the onions, cooking them until translucent, then adding the mushrooms, and cooking the moisture out. After that, add the remaining veggies and cook for 5-10 minutes.

While your veggies are cooking, in a separate pan you’re going to heat 2 tablespoons of oil, your choice. This is where we’re going to cook our protein and sauce. We cooked salmon. The salmon was cut into bite-size pieces and then lightly sautéed in oil until it was about 3/4 of the way cooked.

Then we added a jar of Private Selection tikka masala curry sauce (it’s available at Kroger brand stores). I’m usually not a big fan of premade sauces, but in the case of Indian food, the sauces are so much more financially savvy. I believe the sauce was three dollars or less for the jar, and it tastes delicious. Like restaurant quality mild tikka masala sauce. If you wanna add heat, you can add some chili oil or red pepper flakes. But I don’t recommend doing it while you’re cooking, because it will just infuse it with so much heat.

We cooked the sauce with the salmon pieces for about 10 minutes added bok choy and allow that to cook down for another five minutes.

And now the assembly!

We set out eight of the Rubbermaid storage containers (these are the ones that we use).

 

 

Each container contains:

  • one cup of cooked red and white quinoa
  • one and a half cups of vegetables
  • 2 6-oz ladles full of salmon and sauce

Once the containers had cooled to room temperature lids were put on, and they were stored in the refrigerator. When it is time to eat, we will then to the lids and reheat them in the microwave for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes.

Here are some other options if Salmon Tikka Masala isn’t your bag:

Meat/non-meats (you need 1- 1 1/2 lbs of meat/non-meats for this recipe)

  • ground beef/chicken/turkey
  • lamb chops
  • boneless chicken breasts/boneless thighs
  • beef (cut of your choice)
  • veggie crumbles/other faux meat
  • pollack/tilapia/fish of your choice

Sauce- All of these sauces are pre-made. Feel free to use your own recipe for your favorite sauce.

Kevin’s Sauces has a wide variety of sauces that would be GREAT!

Talk Back: I’d love to hear about your protein bowls- What combination of sauce and veggies would you use?