Quick and Easy Pizza Sauce

You know those recipes for pizza and pasta sauces? The ones with the 15 ingredients and the hours of simmering to get that authentic taste?

This isn’t one of them.

My cooking style is best described as no-nonsense.

We like to make flatbread pizzas, and we prefer a sweeter pizza sauce.

Store bought ones always taste a little flat, and even though they are often on sale, I can do better on my own.

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Pizza Sauce

Prep Time 1 minute
Cook Time 1 minute
Total Time 2 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 6 oz can Tomato Paste
  • Garlic Powder
  • Onion Powder
  • Dried Oregano
  • Red Pepper Flake
  • Olive Oil

Instructions

  1. In a small microwave safe container that has a lid, combine the contents of the can of tomato paste and a splash of olive oil. 

  2. Add spices to taste. And I mean really taste - add them in, mix it thoroughly and taste it. Add more of what is missing.

  3. If sauce is too thick, mix in a little water.

  4. Microwave with the lid covering the dish but not on tightly (let steam escape, but use the lid to protect the top of the microwave if it explodes). Heat in 20 second intervals stirring after each until sauce reaches desired temperature.

Recipe Notes

This creates a thick, sweet sauce which we like to use on flatbread pizza.

Because it is thick, it is also a good sauce for zoodles (those "noodles" made from spiralized zucchini) since those tend to be watery and will dilute the sauce to a better pasta sauce texture.

Leftovers can be refrigerated, or frozen.

This does not keep long in the refrigerator because it contains no preservatives, but does well in a freezer bag and reheats just fine.

Quick Fix BBQ Turkey Wrap

Low-Carb, tasty and ready in mere minutes

This is a recipe that I can’t personally vouch for the taste, but based on how often he makes it (and the fact that there are zero leftovers), it’s a hit in Mr. SuzerSpace’s book.

There are plenty of recipes for using your slow-cooker to make barbecue meats for sandwiches. Pulled Pork, turkey breast, the list goes on.

But what if it’s 7:30 at night and you suddenly have a hankering for a BBQ-meat sandwich? And you are keeping to a low-carb diet so getting take out isn’t really an option?

Enter the quick fix BBQ Turkey Wrap.

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Quick Fix BBQ Turkey Wrap


Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 1 minute
Total Time 6 minutes
Servings 1

Ingredients

  • 1 Low-Carb Flatbread
  • 1 oz Sliced Turkey
  • 2 Tbsp Bottled BBQ sauce
  • 1/4 cup Black Beans Rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 Tsp Olive Oil
  • Shredded Cheese Optional
  • Arugula Optional

Instructions

  1. In a microwave-safe bowl (or Mr. SuzerSpace's favorite - a coffee cup) combine turkey, sauce and olive oil. Stir to combine.

  2. Cover bowl/cup with a spatter shield and microwave on high for 30 seconds. Stir, and then heat again for 20 seconds more.  The turkey is pre-cooked so you just want to heat it and the sauce to eating temperature.

  3. Sprinkle black beans on flatbread, top with cheese (if desired) and Turkey/sauce mixture. Top with arugula if desired

Vegetarian Black Bean Chili

Comfort Food with a healthy twist

Chili is usually a Fall season food, but this last little bit of April has been unusually cold and rainy, and the other night we really wanted comfort food.

Fun Fact: I’m not a meat eater (it’s a boring story, so we’ll skip it). Mr. SuzerSpace does eat meat, but since he really likes to cook, it’s not a deal breaker.

Meatless chili recipes tend to splinter off into mostly two groups – the types that are more bean salad with sauce, or the ones with so many special expensive ingredients that they really aren’t chili anymore.

I’ve been tweaking my own recipe for many, many years, and have come up with a version that we both really like. I think it’s a pretty good compliment that Mr. SuzerSpace will actually request this meal vs. cooking up his own version with more standard ingredients. He also likes to serve this on top of a hot dog – his own “healthyized” version of a chili dog.

There is one special ingredient in this recipe – TVP – also known as Texturized Vegetable Protein. If you go googling this, it sounds weird and scary (doomsday preppers buy it by the pallet). It looks like spray insulation, and if you don’t add anything to it when you cook it, it takes about the same.

My trick is to add layers of flavor to it at every stage – I add Soy Sauce to the water for rehydrating it, and I cook it with the onions and spices BEFORE I add in the other ingredients so it has a good amount of time to soak up all the flavors.

Personally, I buy small bags of the Bob’s Red Mill Brand (not a paid endorsement – it’s just the only version I’ve used). It’s in the health market section of my regular grocery store, or I can find it at Trader Joe’s and Sprouts.

You can leave the TVP out of the dish and it’s still good. Before I discovered TVP I made this using the veggie burger crumbles from the frozen food section. I like the texture of TVP better, it keeps forever in the cabinet, and it is much more economical.

The great thing about this (any any good chili recipe) is you can make a big batch and eat it for days, or freeze leftovers. And it scales up or down beautifully.

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Vegetarian Black Bean Chili

Prep Time 35 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 cup Textured Vegetable Protein small crumble version
  • 3/4 cup Warm Water
  • 3 Tablespoons Soy Sauce Low Sodium
  • 2 cans Black Beans Rinsed and Drained
  • 2 cans Diced Tomatoes with Green Chilies Drain off some, but not all of the liquid
  • 1 can Garbanzo Beans Rinsed and Drained
  • 1/2 small Onion (White or Vidalia) large dice
  • 4-6 oz Frozen Sliced Carrots
  • 8 ounces Tomato Sauce
  • Shredded Cheese For topping, if desired
  • Sour Cream For topping, if desired

Chili Spice Mix

  • 1 1/2 Tablespoons Chili Power
  • 3/4 Teaspoon Ground Cumin
  • 1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Onion Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Paprika

Instructions

Prepare the TVP

  1. In a medium bowl, add TVP, the warm water and Soy Sauce.

  2. Stir to combine (mixture should be watery).

  3. Allow TVP to absorb liquids for about a half hour. This is a good time to chop the onion, open and drain and rinse canned items and drink a beer.

Create Chili Spice Mix

  1. Combine all spice items in a small dish and mix gently. Set aside

Cook the TVP

  1. In a large dutch oven, stock pot or other deep pot with a lid, saute the onion in a bit of olive oil until translucent. It is OK for the onion to brown, but do not let it burn.

  2. Add the TVP to the cooked onion and continue cooking over medium heat. TVP won't brown like ground beef, but cook and stir in the same manner. The object is for it to warm and pick up the oniony olive oil flavors.

  3. Sprinkle the spice mix over the cooking TVP and onion mixture, and stir to combine throughly. Be sure to not let spices burn on bottom of pot.

Create the Chili

  1. Add all the canned ingredients and stir. If mixture is too dry, add a little water.

  2. Continue cooking over medium heat, stirring often to keep items at bottom of pot from sticking. 

  3. Bring to a simmer, and then add frozen carrots, stir again, and then lower heat and put lid on pot.

  4. Cook until carrots are tender, and then serve. Add topping as desired.

Black and Bleu Wrap

Layers of flavor for an easy meal

The trick to eating with a focus on good nutrition and a tight budget is to think like a restaurant.

Besides frying everything, and using a lot of salt to make everything taste good, restaurants know that layers of flavor are the key to a good dish.

If you take a flatbread wrap, throw on some cheese and black beans and nuke it in the microwave, it’s a little bit soggy and sad.

But if you heat the beans first, and then layer the wrap with cheese, the beans, arugula and top with chunks of bleu cheese, suddenly you have something special.

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Black Beans and Bleu Cheese Wrap

Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 1 minute
Total Time 6 minutes
Servings 1

Ingredients

  • 1 Flatbread (we use low-carb)
  • 1/8 cup Shredded Cheese
  • 1/4 cup Black Beans Rinsed and Drained
  • Arugula Washed and Patted Dry
  • Bleu Cheese Chunks* (see note)

Instructions

  1. In a microwave safe bowl, heat beans in the microwave for about 30 seconds, until really warm but not dried out.

  2. On flatbread, sprinkle cheese in center

  3. Layer on black beans, arugula and black beans. Add salsa on top if desired.

  4. Roll and enjoy!

Recipe Notes

*Note: I don't actually like Bleu Cheese - Mr. SuzerSpace does. I make my version with Feta, but we still call them Black and Bleu Wraps. Sounds fancier that way 🙂

 

Crustless Quiche

A meal made from leftovers

Technically, I’m not sure if this is a crustless quiche that doesn’t have milk, or a frittata that doesn’t start on the stove. We tend to make it heavier on the veggies and lighter on the eggs, but you can vary your ratios to suit your taste.

Either way, it’s a favorite lunch meal at SuzerSpace.

I usually make this on a Sunday afternoon to clean up the leftovers languishing in the fridge.

Couple of eggs? Check.

Some wilty veggies leftover from salads during the week? Check.

Some spinach or arugula that is getting past it’s prime? Check.

Cheese? Are you kidding me? We always have cheese 🙂

This is great slightly cooled from the oven, or cool it completely and refrigerate it and reheat it during the week. Even though it’s already loaded with veggies, I usually serve it with a salad.

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Crustless Quiche

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 10 minutes

Ingredients

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup chopped vegetables
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup shredded cheese
  • 1/4 cup spinach or arugula chopped

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.


  2. In a medium bowl, mix the eggs thoroughly. Add water or milk if desired.

  3. Line a small baking dish (mine is 7 x 10) with parchment paper.

  4. Distribute the veggies and spinach or arugula in the dish.

  5. Sprinkle half of the cheese on top of the veggies.

  6. Pour the eggs over the veggie and cheese mixture. Stir lightly with a fork to make sure the eggs get evenly distributed.

  7. Top with remaining cheese.

  8. Bake for approximately an hour, or until the quiche appears set and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

  9.  Allow to cool and then cut into slices.

Recipe Notes

  1. Use whatever veggies you have the fridge. I usually go with green peppers, mushrooms and broccoli. Cut everything up bite size so you don't end up with big hunks of something on your fork.
  2. I more than just line my baking dish with parchment - I make sure the sides are protected and I fold up the corners before I add in the veggies so I have a barrier all around. It makes removing the quiche easier when it is baked - you can just lift up the sides of the paper and everything comes up all at once.

Lining the entire baking sheet makes removal easier for the crustless quiche

 

 

One pot peanut noodles

A quick meal from just a few ingredients

For this dish I like to use veggie pasta (not spiralized veggie noodles – I do love those but here I’m referring to a dry pasta that contains vegetables in the ingredients.

I boil a two-serving size amount of the noodles. We actually use a scale and match the nutrition information on the back of the package for this. Pasta, even with veggies in it, is high in carbs and that is a number with work diligently around for meals since we are a Type 2 Diabetes family. I’ve learned that if I make a whole box of spaghetti, we will eat a whole box of spaghetti, no matter what the suggested serving size is.

When the noodles are close to being done, I add in about a half package of frozen mixed vegetables to the pot and cook until they are tender (usually doesn’t take very long).

I use a measuring cup to remove about a cup of pasta water and then drain the rest of the water from the pasta and veggies, and return the pot to the stove. Turn the burner off – we are just using the residiual heat here (if you somehow have a stove that is instantaneously cool to the touch after turning it off, you might need low heat).

I add about 1/3 cup of good peanut butter to the noodle and vegetable mixture. By “good” I mean not full of sugar. By “about” I mean measuring peanut butter is ridiculously messy, so I just use a knife and carve out a blob that appears to be around 1/3 cup. Add about a tablespoon of soy sauce (we use low sodium) and half that amount of cider vinegar. Stir pretty vigorously to get the peanut butter melting and then add in that reserved pasta water to create a sauce. I like to add a good dash of red chili flake at this point because we like it spicy.

Keep stirring until the sauce is the correct consistency. If it’s too thick, you can add a little more water. If it’s too thin, you might consider being OK with it as the pasta will absorb some sauce as it sits. And it’s slurpy good fun to eat with a thin sauce, and next time you’ll be able to guess better on how much water to put back in.

I dish this out into bowls and add a sprinkle of peanuts on top before serving.

This dish is best served fresh – it kind of keeps, but the noodles nearly completely absorb the sauce so it will be dry if served as leftovers.

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One Pot Peanut Sauce Noodles


Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 2

Ingredients

  • Veggie Spaghetti two servings according to package directions

  • 8 oz mixed frozen vegetables
  • 1/3 cup peanut butter
  • 1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce Low Sodium
  • 1/2 Tablespoon Cider Vinegar
  • Dash Dried Red Chili Flakes Optional
  • Dry Roasted Peanuts For Topping

Instructions

  1. In a large pot, cook pasta according to package directions.

  2. Add frozen vegetables to boiling pasta when pasta is nearly cooked.

  3. Continuing cooking pasta until veggies are cooked through.

  4. Reserve 1 cup of pasta water, drain pasta and veggies.

  5. Return pasta and veggies to pot, add peanut butter, soy sauce, cider vinegar. Stir to combine.

  6. Add reserved pasta water as needed to thin sauce to desired consistency
.

 

 

 

Roasted Chickpeas

A quick, spicy dish

Roasted chickpeas (or garbanzo beans) are another one of those recipes that is more of technique than an actual list of steps and measurements.

And it’s been posted in some form or another all over the food blogs.

But I’m going to put it here at SuzerSpace, too, because it’s a staple in our house.

It ticks all the boxes – super simple to make, inexpensive, tasty and good for you.

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Baked Tofu

Tofu isn’t scary. Really.

Tofu is kind of like the opposite of Fight Club.

EVERYONE talks about tofu. I read so much about making tofu that it scared me.

I will confess it took me a few tries to nail down a solid system. My general cooking technique for most food involves skipping any steps I don’t want to do or don’t have a gadget to do it with.

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