Spinach Artichoke Enchiladas

Hearty spinach artichoke enchiladas with a simple homemade red sauce! - cookieandkate.com

I’m on a spinach and artichoke kick. I blame the new bar in town that offers an exceptionally tasty spinach-artichoke dip. Tessa and I order it almost every time we meet for happy hour and I daydream about it in between our weekly sessions. It’s more spinach-y than cheesy (how do they pack so much spinach in there?) and has passed for dinner more than once. I can’t get enough of the combination and Tessa can’t either, apparently!

spinach-artichoke enchiladas ingredients

I caught a mention of spinach-artichoke enchiladas on a menu in Austin and didn’t get a chance to try them, so here we are with my homemade version. I based them off memories of the enchiladas my mom makes at home. She is not one to change it up, so her enchiladas consistently feature green chilis, sour cream, flour tortillas and store-bought red sauce. Oh and cheese on top, of course.

I made sure to incorporate all of the above into these lightened-up vegetarian enchiladas, but took it upon myself to create a healthier from-scratch red sauce. I tried spice-based sauce first, followed by tomato-based sauce and finally settled somewhere in between. My recipe is made with common dried spices, tomato paste for some umami-rich tomato flavor, vegetable broth as base and flour to thicken it up.

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Frozen Blueberry Margaritas

Frozen blueberry margaritas made with all natural ingredients! - cookieandkate.com

Spring weather comes on with a vengeance in central Oklahoma, where I grew up. I miss it. I miss the way the energy crackles in the air as the warm, southern winds crash into the cooler winds from the north. I miss the eerily still, humid mornings that prickle the back of my neck and tell me something isn’t quite right. Inevitably, on those days, the wind will pick up and my hair will turn into a million little whips again, all flailing in different directions.

Sometimes the clouds turn black, the air goes green and the tornado sirens start wailing. Spring in Oklahoma is rarely boring, oftentimes terrifying and mostly exhilarating.

blueberry margaritas preparation

Kansas City has been covered up by gray clouds for days. Days upon days upon days, with a few hours of sunshine and some rain here and there. I can’t recall a more dreary, boring spring. I want to poke the clouds and shout, “Do something!” We caught some much-needed sunshine yesterday afternoon and we’re supposed to get more this afternoon, before the sky goes gray again. Gray for days, I tell you.

I took advantage of the sunshine yesterday to bring you some refreshing blueberry margaritas, which would be just perfect for storm sipping. They’re modeled after the blueberry margaritas at The Mont in Norman, Oklahoma, which is an institution. My grandmother went there in college and I did, too!

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12 Affordable Meatless Meals

Find a collection of affordable vegetarian recipes at cookieandkate.com!

Good morning! I thought it would be fun to highlight some of the more affordable recipes on my blog today. The reality is that vegetarian cooking is generally inexpensive, since we’re typically using beans and eggs for protein. Plus, cooking from scratch is a great way to save on groceries and minimize your exposure to the preservatives found in processed foods.

I went through the archives and marked the least expensive meals with my new “budget-friendly” category. Access it here or at any time by hovering over ALL RECIPES, then mousing down to “EVERYDAY” and clicking “Budget friendly”.

While we’re at it, I thought I’d share a few tips on saving money without sacrificing quality, starting with fresh produce! In-season fruits and vegetables are generally your best bets since they require less resources to grow under optimal conditions. Check my monthly seasonal produce guides to find out what’s in season now.

Organic produce is typically more expensive, unfortunately. You can spend wisely by choosing organic produce for the items on the dirty dozen list and often opt for conventional if they’re on the clean fifteen list.

You can often buy local produce at a discount if you shop farmers’ markets near closing time. Those hard-working farmers don’t want their vegetables to go to waste. If you’re ever wondering what to do with a lone eggplant or zucchini in your fridge, check my ingredient index for ideas (you can always access it by hovering over ALL RECIPES, then mousing down to INGREDIENT).

Cooking well-balanced meals with whole grains is a great way to save money and keep your belly full until the next meal. Whole grains offer more nutritional bang for your buck than processed grains, since they offer more fiber, nutrients and healthy fats. Some of my favorites include whole grain pasta, brown rice and farro. Gluten-free, grain-like options include quinoa, millet (millet is downright cheap, by the way) and sorghum.

Pulses like black beans, chickpeas and lentils are great additions as well, and they’re especially affordable if you cook them from scratch (although canned beans are undeniably convenient and still inexpensive). I mentioned this a couple of weeks ago, but one half-cup serving of cooked lentils has twice as many antioxidants as blueberries and costs a fraction of the price. Pretty amazing.

Growing an herb garden is a great way to save on fresh herbs. You can buy a whole plant for the cost of one on those three-dollar-per-packet specialty herbs! I grab cheap bunches of cilantro and parsley at the store, but prefer to grow basil, mint, rosemary and thyme at home. Those are all pretty hardy plants that don’t require too much fuss. Another option is to use dried herbs, substituting one-third the amount of dried herbs for the specified amount of fresh, but that trick works best in simmered recipes like soups and pasta sauces.

When you’re cooking, feel free to play around with herbs, spices and other flavorings. If the recipe calls for multiple spices and you’re missing one of them, you can probably skip it altogether without sacrificing a lot of flavor.

Extra-virgin olive oil costs more than processed vegetable oils, but I use it liberally for its incredible health benefits. It’s my go-to cooking oil (quality extra-virgin olive oil can actually be heated up to around 425 degrees Fahrenheit before it starts breaking down). Big bottles of California Olive Ranch Everyday, Trader Joe’s 100% Greek Kalamata and organic olive oil purchased on sale are my top picks.

Maple syrup and local honey are pricy and there’s not much to be done about it, although I do buy the biggest jars available to save per ounce. (Let’s get real, though—treats are treats and are therefore nonessential.) You can also save on vegetable broth by making it from scratch or just replace it with water, albeit for less flavor.

Alright, I think that just about covers my tips. What are yours?!

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Vegan Chipotle Carrot Queso

Chipotle carrot vegan queso - cookieandkate.com

Yeah, I would be skeptical of this cheese-less queso if I were you. Queso literally means “cheese” in Spanish, so this dip is a dairy-free, cheese-like fraud—a fraud that this dairy-eating queso lover thoroughly enjoys. That counts for something, right?

vegan queso ingredients

I was highly skeptical of vegan queso until Ali convinced me to give Füd’s vegan nachos a chance. She said they’re the best nachos in town, vegan or not, so I agreed to meet her there for lunch. While I would still argue that the world’s best nachos feature golden, bubbly, baked cheese (and are cooked to order at The Library Bar and Grill in Norman, Oklahoma), Füd’s nachos were pretty good.

They were good enough that I happily polished off my half of our heaping plate of nachos and left with a belly full of chips and “cheese,” like I would if presented with real cheese nachos, except this time I didn’t need a nap afterward. Bonus point for dairy-free queso.

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Almond Cake with Roasted Strawberries & Rhubarb on Top

Honey-sweetened, gluten-free almond cake - cookieandkate.com

This cake was originally designed to be an upside-down strawberry-rhubarb cake. I envisioned a gorgeous, glossy pink-and-ruby top, but I turned over the cake to find a shaggy-edged, brown-ish mess. Usually, I don’t discriminate blog recipes based on appearance, but this cake was not cute. Not cute at all.

strawberries and rhubarb

It was, however, a remarkably tasty cake. I relished a slice, took Cookie on a walk and carried on with my evening. Eventually, the idea to top the cake with roasted strawberries and rhubarb (baked in the oven at the same time as the cake) popped into my head, and here we are! Cake success.

I’m not going to make it home to celebrate Mother’s Day with my mom this year, but if I could, I’d bake her this cake. It’s about as easy as cakes get (no mixer required), it’s gluten free (possibly paleo as well, I’m not sure) and just a beauty overall. Happy Mother’s Day to all the mamas out there! You make the world go around.

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Quinoa Broccoli Slaw with Honey-Mustard Dressing

Quinoa Broccoli Slaw with Honey Mustard Dressing - cookieandkate.com

I’m seeing green! Green broccoli is only the beginning. I keep looking up for relief from this shockingly green salad only to be struck by shades of bright, fresh, springtime green outside my windows. The tall trees and new grass look positively electric under our overcast sky. Blink, blink, blink.

how to make broccoli slaw

Spring is undeniably here and, with it, comes potlucks and picnics. We celebrated Jordan’s birthday in the park on Sunday. Sarah brought an awesome mayo-free broccoli and potato salad, which vaguely inspired this broccoli slaw. It’s not too far off from my Greek broccoli salad and colorful beet and quinoa salad, but it was just too good to keep to myself.

Shredded broccoli florets form the foundation for this slaw, which you can easily make yourself in your food processor (or you can skip a step and buy pre-shredded broccoli slaw). Cooked quinoa blends right in, thanks to its similar texture and complementary flavor. Add toasty almonds, a tangy honey-mustard dressing and chopped basil for little bursts of freshness flavor, and you have one fantastic mayo-free broccoli slaw.

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