If you’re anything like me, you love food and eat it unabashedly. We all know the holidays can be stressful, so as parties draw near you may feel a little worn out and the idea of preparing food may seem too much. We all have our standby recipes, but it can be just as nice to try something new and watch people devour it.
Here’s a few simple recipes to jump start your party’s menu:
1. Garlic Broccoli with Spaghetti – This is my lazy night go-to dinner. I’m a huge fan of whole wheat pasta, so I usually go with that instead of a regular variety, but feel free to use whatever you prefer.
Ingredients: 1 box spaghetti (or pasta of your choice), bag of frozen broccoli, olive oil, garlic clove, crushed red pepper flakes, ground black pepper, salt
Instructions: Prepare pasta as directed on box. Microwave covered broccoli for two minutes (depends on your microwave – I find that two minutes on half power works). Chop garlic into small pieces, set aside. Heat oil in a skillet (enough to barely cover bottom of pan) and add broccoli. Let it cook for a few minutes, then add garlic. At this point, you don’t really want to let it burn, but heat up the garlic so it adds flavor. Pour on top of pasta, add pepper flakes (to taste), salt, and black pepper. Add oil or any sauce if desired.
2. White Bean Salad – We made this for Thanksgiving, but didn’t get around to eating it at dinner due to a lack of space on the table. However, it’s just as good the next day, and even better the next. You can eat it warm or cold, whichever you prefer. I’m not sure where this recipe comes from (was written up for me), otherwise I would give due credit.
Ingredients: 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, 1/4 teaspoon fine grain salt, 1/2 cup thinly sliced shallots, more olive oil for skillet, 2 cups carrots sliced into quarters (vertically and horizontally), 1 drained can of white beans, 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, 1/3 cup sliced almonds
Instructions: Mix the olive oil, lemon juice, salt and shallots in a bowl and set aside. Heat olive oil over medium high in a large skillet, and add carrots. Do not stir frequently, but flip every few minutes until carrots are brown. Add beans and dill, cook for about five minutes more. Be sure not to overcook beans. Put the carrots, beans, and dill into a large bowl, add the oil mixture and brown sugar (to taste), toss gently. Let sit for a few minutes to absorb flavors, add salt or sugar if needed. Add almonds before serving.
3. Bruschetta with Bread – I fell in love with this easy recipe when I was at the beach. I made it literally every day I was there and even brought it to the beach as a snack. Weird? Maybe. Again, I’m not sure where this came from, but it’s so easy that you can do it from memory.
Ingredients: 2 large tomatoes, fresh basil, salt, pepper, garlic clove, loaf of bread (I usually use Italian), olive oil
Instructions: Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Cut the bread into medium-thickness slices. Peel garlic, and cut a sliver off. Rub garlic onto both sides of the bread, cutting slivers off when necessary. Pour olive oil onto a plate, lightly dip both sides of bread in oil. Place on a sheet in the oven for a few minutes, until the bread is a light golden brown. Remove from oven and set aside to cool. Chop tomatoes into small pieces, place in a bowl. With your fingers, rip pieces of basil and add them to the tomatoes. You want enough to give flavor, but not too much to overpower it. Lightly sprinkle salt and pepper, then mix. Serve cold.
4. Double Chocolate Chip Cookies – I’ve been making these the past few years, and they’re ridiculously delicious. All of my non-vegan friends are shocked when I tell them there’s no eggs/dairy (the flax serves as the binding agent), and they look too good not to try. They’re perfectly chewy and not overwhelmingly decadent. This comes from the Post Punk Kitchen, created by Isa Chandra Moskowitz (a.k.a. my favorite cookbook author).
Ingredients: 3/4 cup canola oil, 2 cups sugar, 2 teaspoons vanilla, 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon whole flax seeds, 1/2 cup soymilk, 2 cups flour, 3/4 cup Dutch processed cocoa powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 cup chocolate chips (more or less, based on how chocolatey you want these to be)
Instructions: Preheat oven to 350 F. Grind the flax seeds on high in a blender until they become a powder. Add soymilk and blend for another 30 seconds or so. Set aside. In a large bowl sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt. In a separate large bowl cream together oil and sugar. Add the flax seed/soy milk mixture and mix well. Add the vanilla. Fold in the dry ingredients in batches. You can use a spatula or your hands to mix, though I find using hands easier. Add the chocolate chips and mix with your hands again. Roll dough into 1 inch balls and flatten into a disc that’s about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet about an inch apart. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool for about 5 minutes, then set them on a wire rack to cool completely