Double Layer Beefless Nachos

We love Mexican food.  Tacos, burritos, bowls, nachos…you name it, we like it.  As in, the whole family will eat it.  No one complains when I suggest a Mexican dish for dinner.  I like it because usually it ends up being a quick meal.  Last week, when we were visiting Sky in Saint Augustine, I wanted to cook for her as much as possible.  It’s the one thing I know she really misses about being away from home.  We threw some ideas around until I came up with Nachos.  Everyone jumped on board quickly, even Sky’s roommate up for it. I gathered up the ingredients and got started.  I am highlighting the olives because they are THE BOMB on nachos.  😀


I missed a few things in the photo above, because I had already started making the crumbles.  I added olive oil, finely chopped onion, and Beyond Beef Meaty Crumbles to a hot pan and fried until the crumbles were nice and brown all around. Then, added the Taco Seasoning per directions.  While Bruce stirred the crumbles, I chopped the tomato into small pieces.

Once your taco meat is ready, it’s time to layer your nachos.  I made two layers since it was for dinner and not just a snack.  Chips, meat mixture, shredded vegan cheese…then the same order again.  I didn’t use much of my shredded cheese on the bottom layer, so I went crazy on the top layer.  🙂

That pile of awesomeness goes into a 375 degree oven for 5 minutes.  Trust me, it doesn’t take long for vegan cheese to melt and the meat is already hot.

When it comes out, top it off.  I put tomatoes on the entire pile, but the black olives only on half.  Skylar doesn’t like them.  On top of that goes finely shredded iceberg.

That is one giant pile of nachos, but between the four of us, we finished it off.  I like mine with tofutti sour cream, but I leave that as a side, because not everyone in the family does.  Okay, so the photo on my plate doesn’t do the dish justice.  It may not look as pretty as I would like, but it tasted delicious.

Mandarin Chick’n Buddha Bowl

I have been seeing Buddha Bowls for years and have always admired how beautiful and healthy they look.  But for one reason or another, I never got around to trying them until this last month.  Honestly, I think the tipping point was all the amazing photos I have been seeing every day on Instagram.  I was literally liking ALL of the posts I saw, and finally decided to try making one for myself.  My go-to for recipes is always Pinterest, so I went in search of recipes and ideas to try.  This recipe is my first attempt with the concept.  I actually made this for lunch for myself last time I was visiting my daughter in St. Augustine.  She saw it and asked if I would make her one as well.  She must have really enjoyed it, because she requested it again while I was in town for Mother’s Day weekend.  This time I remembered to take photos of the process, so you guys could try it.

Buddha Bowl’s are called that because of the top of the bowl.  It’s supposed to be nice and rounded like a Buddha Belly.  In other words, don’t skimp on what goes in!  After looking around, I realized the concept isn’t hard and it makes for a quick, easy, and delicious meal.  You can also be super creative with your ingredients.  There are so many options to try!

You need 5 things to really make your Buddha Bowl tasty.  Here are a few ideas to start with:

  1. Starch: Rice, Quinoa, Sweet Potato, Rice Noodles, Couscous…
  2. Veggie Protein:  Tofu, Edamame, Tempeh, Gardein Chick’n, Peas…
  3. Veggies: Broccoli, Carrots, Asparagus, Avocado, Cukes, Lettuce, Sprouts…
  4. Toppings: Pistachios, Pine Nuts, Pumpkin Seeds, Sesame Seeds, Cranberries…
  5. Sauce:  Eel Sauce, Goddess Dressing, Vinaigrette, Balsamic Glaze, Olive Oil and Lemon Juice…

I obviously have listed the tiniest bits of the available options.  If I tried to list them all, we would both be exhausted.  What I tried to do with this bowl, was to pick a theme and run with it.  The idea for this one came from two places.  First, I found the Ready to Serve Minute Rice in a two pack of individual serving sizes.  All you have to do is pop the top and microwave for 60 seconds (90 seconds for two).  I know, I know…not the healthiest way to make rice, but I need quick and easy sometimes.  Then, I saw the gardein Mandarin Orange Crispy Chick’n which I have been wanting to try, but haven’t.  I immediately put the two together in my head and decided to go in an Asian direction.

First step, prep ingredients according to package directions. I used the pan fry option.  Be sure to use medium low heat for the Chick’n or it will burn on the outside and still be cold on the inside.  Also, put the sauce in at the VERY end after the chick’n is browned on both sides and ready to come off the heat. If not, it sticks to the pan terribly.  I popped the rice and edamame in the microwave to prepare.  The edamame ended up a little wrinkly, so steaming would probably be a better option there.  I did steam the broccoli for a few minutes.

Once your ingredients are ready, start filling your bowl.  I chose to add a bed of spring mix lettuce on the bottom. I like what happens to lettuce when you add warm things on top.  The slight wilt actually makes it easier for me to digest.  Skylar, however, did not like the lettuce at all.  Use it or don’t, it’s all personal preference.  If you hate wilted lettuce, definitely don’t use it.

On top of the lettuce, I dumped the rice cups upside down.  I thought it actually looked pretty cool in that shape.  Around the rice, I added the broccoli, mandarin chick’n, and edamame.  After that I drizzled eel sauce over the top…eel sauce is vegan…who knew?  I just found out this month. I haven’t eaten it in years, so I was super happy to be able to enjoy it again.  At the very end, I sprinkled the top with sesame seeds, salt and pepper.

Remember, people eat with their eyes first, so try to make it look pretty.  Don’t just toss the broccoli in; set it so the floret is up and the stem is down. Pile the chick’n in a pretty pile, and when you put the edamame on, leave a bit of the rice showing through.  It looks pretty that way and people know exactly what they are getting.  And don’t just dump some sauce on top of your bowl!  Drizzle it…make a nice pattern.  Make it pretty, even if you are making one bowl just for yourself.  You deserve delicious looking and tasting food.

As always, leave a comment.  Let me know what you think.  Did you make any changes?  Did you explore an entirely different theme?  I am always looking for delicious new options, so your feedback is appreciated!




Cheezy Mac and Crabless Cakes

When things get super busy, I try to find find easy meals that will satisfy everyone.  This week is a little crazy at my daughter’s house.  I am training and implementing strategies for my business, and my daughter has finals.  Since I am running her to and from class, I don’t have large chunks of time to really get in the flow and get things done like I usually do.  Rather than feel overwhelmed about feeding both of us, I am searching for solutions like easy meals that we both enjoy and won’t take a long time to make.

I found Daiya’s new cheesy mac at Publix (in the gluten free section) last time I was there , and since I have some serious time constraints right now I thought it would be a good day to try it. I decided the best protein to make with it were these gardein mini crabless cakes, and I am glad I did.  The combination is fantastic.

Both cook up super fast.  I didn’t time myself, but I am going to say dinner was ready in 15-20 minutes.  It definitely didn’t take over 20 minutes from start to finish.  The flavor in the gardein crabless cakes perfectly complements the veggies in the daiya cheezy mac.  Next time I make this, I will add steamed veggies as a side, but this time it was just fine. The instructions for prep are on the containers, so I won’t get into that overly much.  Instead, I am going to just share my tips for speeding up the process while making sure everything is as tasty as possible.

As usual I had two burners going at once, that always helps.  It also ensures that everything is finished at the same time, and nothing sits and gets cold.  I can multi-task with the best of them, so when I cook I overlap prep as much as possible.  I even cheated a little bit with the crabless cakes.  While the water was boiling for the cheezy mac, I put the crabless cakes on a microwave safe plate and microwaved them for one minute before putting them into the frying pan. This ensured they would be warm in the center without ending up burnt on the outside.  From the microwave, they went into the frying pan and crisped up while I finished the mac.

I fried the crabless cakes on all sides.  I like them crispy all the way around the edges, not just on the top and bottom.  As you can see in the photos, I had to lean them against each other so they wouldn’t fall over while the sides were browning.  This TLC really does make them extra special.  Be sure to turn them regularly so they don’t end up with an extra brown spot somewhere.  This may have happened to me once or twice while making them.  Ijs.

I made the cheezy mac per instructions exactly.  The box comes with macaroni, a cheezy pack, and the dried veggies inside.  Instructions are very straightforward.  I ended up with a quick, comforting, and delicious meal.  Skylar gave it great reviews.  She said it was the best vegan mac-and-cheese she has ever had (thanks, kid), and really liked the crunchiness of the crabless patties.  She said she would totally eat it again anytime I wanted to make it for her.  I call that a win!