TTT: Recipes I’ve Been Loving This Year

I love to bake, and while I’m not a huge fan of cooking, humans have to eat to survive, so I end up meal prepping every Sunday. I work a full-time & part-time job, so that means both lunch & dinner for the week. I also make my own bread, and I have the same breakfast every morning, so I have a lot of tried and tested recipes that I return to again and again. I only recently started with my part-time job being a lot more intense than it normally is, so the dinner meal prepping is new, but I thought it’d be fun to share some of the recipes that I’ve been loving this year!

I would be straight up lying to you if the first recipe on here wasn’t this Mediterranean chickpea salad. I’ve probably made it once a month this entire year? It’s one of my favorite things to make because it’s quick, it’s easy, and I can whip it together last minute. I do soak my own beans, so that’s always a thing I have to consider, but if you’re using canned, this is so fast.

Some notes:

  • I have stopped roasting my chickpeas after soaking & boiling, and I don’t miss the taste of the spices at all. The dressing is really powerful, so, if you’re feeling extra lazy, you can totally get away with just draining a can of chickpeas and calling it a day.
  • If you’ve got a Trader Joe’s near you, they have an amazing grain mix called Harvest Blend that I sub for the couscous. And, if you’ve got a Whole Foods, they sell black pepper feta, which is an actual game changer, do yourself a favor. If you don’t, I guess just crack some pepper into your feta before crumbling it on top because oh my gosh.
  • I roast my own peppers rather than using jarred, and I think this makes it way less oily and much tastier.

I haven’t made General Tso’s chickpeas in a while because the sauce is a solid 15 ingredients long or something, but it’s so good. Okay, it’s 11, but close enough! And don’t skimp on any of those ingredients. This sauce is amazing, and it deserves to be at its full level. I do usually add other veggies, like mushrooms & carrots with the occasional baby corn, into this and just make it into a stir fry, and I have made it with chicken before for my parents, but the chickpeas are truly a perfect compliment to this.

Pro tip: marinate your chickpeas (or meat) while you’re dicing the veggies and preparing the sauce. Occasionally re-whisk the sauce while you’re cooking the veggies to keep it cohesive, as well. And, if you don’t have cornstarch (I never do, for some reason), flour works just as well, you’ll just need a bit more than you think.

Not only is sticky sesame tempeh easy, it’s so filling and so tasty. You could probably make this with chickpeas really easily, but I like to switch up my protein sometimes, and this is such a different way of cooking tempeh than I’m used to. I usually just grill or sauté it, so I get a lot of enjoyment watching it come together in just a little bit of water and sauce. It ends up having a very sticky, syrupy taste that’s just wonderful, and I often steam carrots with the broccoli.

I have 100% made this Mexican casserole at least three times in recent memory, and I’m definitely going to be making it again. Not only is it hella easy to make, it’s so filling and yummy. I will say, as an overall note to any recipe that I recommend, I always skip the canned tomatoes and dice my own. Pro tip, though: use cherry tomatoes and not big tomatoes. Big tomatoes will release a lot more juice and water your food down, but cherry tomatoes are small enough that they add about the same amount of juice as a can would. This is also healthier and tastier! I also don’t add cheese to this because, while cheese does belong on everything, this packs enough taste without the addition of cheese, which I think might overwhelm it and make it taste different. I love the tomatoey goodness this has got going on without it too much to add it and change it. Also, I add summer squash in addition to the zucchini.

Another one I haven’t made in a while are stuffed peppers because I’m not a huge pepper fan, but this filling is honestly too legit to quit. I do 100% add cheese to this because, I mean, just look at them. This is good without cheese, but it’s amazing with it. Again, I swap canned tomatoes for dicing tomatoes on my own, and I’ll even sometimes add a little tomato paste to thicken this up a bit because watery stuffed veggies is the worst. Also, I have definitely swapped the spinach for kale, and it wasn’t great, but wasn’t terrible, and now I’m just at a place where I put zucchini instead. And, if you’re soaking your own beans, make sure to boil them before adding them to the stuffing.

Despite the fact that I’m terrifying of frying things, I’ve made this sticky sesame cauliflower twice this year, and you don’t actually need that much oil. Most of the work in frying this is going to come from the dressing, and the oil is just to get it going in the beginning. This is going to be similar to the sticky tempeh in texture, but the flavor is just different enough with the cauliflower that it kicks this up a notch. And yes, you can definitely swap cornstarch for regular flour. I like to pair this the same way I do for the tempeh–with rice, broccoli, and carrots! There ends up being no protein, but it’s a myth that you need a lot of it anyway.

Fair warning, this chickpea tikka masala will make an absolute mess of your stove, but it’s so worth it. Maybe I’m cooking it wrong, but I always end up with tikka masala sauce everywhere. Most of the time, I can’t keep cooking this once everything is in, and I have to stir it off of the burner while it cools down. This is also the first time I ever got my family to try Indian, and they actually liked it! So if you’ve been trying to expand your family’s palate, look no farther. And, as always, about the tomatoes–I use cherry instead of big tomatoes because they have less water, and you want this sauce to thicken up.

This Greek shrimp pasta is my lunch the week I’m drafting this, and it’s made me realize that cooking white wine is very different from white wine vinegar, so don’t do what I did and panic buy vinegar. The white wine vinegar tastes fine, but it made this a bit strange rather than kind of tarty sweet, so, you know, proceed with whichever taste you’re looking for. I was really tired when I made this recently, so I definitely overcooked my shrimp, and I added too many onions. I also swapped the kale for broccoli, and yoooooo, that’s so much better. I forgot to cook the barley ahead of time, too, so fun fact, just put the uncooked barley in when you’re pouring in the vegetable broth, cover it and set it to simmer, and it’ll cook up just fine like that. Again, I didn’t add the cheese to this, and I think I like it better without it.

Also, PSA: about 98% of the time, your grains are one cup dry to two cups water, cook until the water is gone.

I’m so excited to make a hearty vegetable soup again when winter rolls around. It’s easily the most filling soup I’ve ever eaten, which makes sense given the list of ingredients. Like, damn. There’s so much in here that you’re definitely going to end up with way more soup than you think, and you won’t even need that big of a serving like you usually do with soup. As a note, I don’t put celery in mine–fun fact: it’s the only food that I don’t like!–and it tastes just as amazing. And I know that the yogurt & dill garnish sounds psycho, but it’s freaking amazing, and it levels this up big time.

And my brother says this mushroom barley soup looks like prison slop, and while he’s not wrong, and it is bland as hell, I love it so much. This is such a comfort soup for me, and it’s so easy to just stick in the crockpot overnight and wake up to soup for lunch. I really like the vegan option of using cashew cream, not only because it’s super easy to make, but because it changes the flavor in ways you’re not expecting. And if you can’t/don’t want to buy fresh thyme, I never do, and dried thyme tastes great.

Are you going to make any of these?

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