Sides Vegan Vegetarian

Chinese Mushroom and Bok Choy Stir Fry

Mushrooms are one of the best foods in the world, in my humble opinion. They come in all shapes, sizes and textures and always taste so earthy, meaty and satisfying. Mushrooms are simple to prepare and never complicated in taste. When cooking mushrooms, my belief is that they should not be overpowered by too many ingredients because they are amazing by nature. 

While the star of the show in this quick and amazing Chinese mushroom and bok choy stir fry is definitely the complex and earthy shimeji and beech mushrooms, this dish is further enhanced by the fresh and clean taste of the tender, but crunchy bok choy. These lovely vegetables are lightly coated in a simple sauce so that their beautifully natural flavors shine though – just like nature intended. 


½ lb. Shanghai bok choy or very small baby bok choy, cleaned and halved lengthwise 

1 package of seafood  (white beech) mushrooms, hard ends removed 

1 package of shimeji mushrooms (enoki would work too), hard ends removed

4 green onions, sliced

2 tsp. sesame oil 

1 inch piece of ginger, minced

1 clove of garlic, minced

½ Tbsp. oyster sauce or vegan oyster sauce

1 Tbsp. soy sauce 

1 tsp. dark soy sauce

Black pepper to taste

Heat the sesame oil in a wok over medium high heat. Add the boy choy and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add a bit of water (2 Tbsp. or so) and cook until the water evaporates, about 2 more minutes. Add the ginger, garlic, and green onions and toss together for about 1 minute. Add in the mushrooms, oyster sauce, and soy sauces and cook, tossing, for about 2 minutes (or until the liquid evaporates). Season with black pepper to taste. 

Serve hot as a side dish or a main course with steamed rice. 

Sides Vegetarian

Savory Ancient Grains with Sweet Potato, Kale and Goat Cheese

Traditional Thanksgiving side dishes are amazing, I’m not gonna lie, but sometimes it’s good to mix it up a bit. This delightfully warm, healthy dish featuring savory ancient grains, sweet potato, kale, and goat cheese combines all of fall’s loveliest ingredients into one eye-and-palate-pleasing side dish that is sure to wow your guests. 

If mixing up Thanksgiving sides isn’t your jam, this lovely dish makes a wonderful side to any meal or is equally good served up as a main dish for a healthy, hearty lunch. However you choose to serve this, it will make you feel thankful. 


¾ c. ancient grains, uncooked

1 ½ c. chicken broth or vegetable broth

1 sweet potato, peeled and diced

2 c. kale, torn into bite-sized pieces

2 cloves of garlic, minced

2 Tbsp. olive oil

Juice from ½ lemon

4 oz. goat cheese, crumbled

Salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Place the diced sweet potatoes on a lined baking sheet. Drizzle with a little olive oil and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven for about 25-30 minutes, or until soft and lightly browned. Remove from the oven and set aside. 

While the sweet potatoes are cooking, cook the ancient grains according to package directions using the chicken broth in place of water. 

Heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the kale and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until soft. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Set aside. 

In a large serving bowl, mix together the ancient grains, sweet potatoes, and kale. Toss to combine. Squeeze in the lemon juice and add the goat cheese crumbles. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss to combine and serve warm. 

Appetizers Sides Vegetarian

Homemade Takeout-Style Veggie Egg Rolls

Just because you’re having a craving for egg rolls does not mean that you have to order takeout. It’s quite easy to prepare your own egg rolls at home, using fresh ingredients. This version of homemade egg rolls happens to be veggie-based and does not contain any meat, but you could easily add ground pork, chopped chicken or diced shrimp to the cabbage mixture for a protein boost. Obviously adding meat is your choice, but I don’t feel these egg rolls really need it because these are so delicious dipped in Chinese mustard sans meat. Mmmm. 

Be advised, though, that you must use a deep, heavy frying skillet in order to be covered in gruesome-looking, polka-dot burns all over your arm and face. I made the mistake of using a more shallow skillet because I was too lazy to dig out the “big gun” cast iron skillet. Trust me, the burns really hurt and I look like I have leprosy, so don’t go there. Other than that little mishap, making these egg rolls was super easy and they were absolutely divine. 


1 package of egg roll wrappers

2 Tbsp. sesame oil

2 16 oz. bag of coleslaw mix 

½ onion, chopped finely

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 inch knob of fresh ginger, minced

2 Tbsp. soy sauce

1 Tbsp. rice vinegar

1-2 c. vegetable oil (for frying)

Small cup of water

Heat the sesame oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Cook the onions until they are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the coleslaw mix, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, and rice vinegar and cook for another 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat and allow the mixture to cool in a bowl until you can handle it (but not too long because you don’t want the cabbage to get mushy). 

To fill the egg rolls, place each egg roll wrapper on a flat surface. Place the cabbage mixture in the center. Brush the edges of the egg roll wrapper with water. Fold the sides in and roll like a burrito. Set the egg rolls aside as you continue the process with the rest of the eggrolls. Be sure to lay them side by side, as they will stick together if you try to place them on top of each other. 

Heat the vegetable oil in a deep cast iron skillet over medium high heat. The oil should be about 350 degrees. Place 4-5 egg rolls at a time in the oil and cook until crispy and brown on all sides, about 5 minutes per batch. Place the egg rolls on a wire rack or paper towels on a plate. 

Serve with Chinese mustard, duck sauce, sweet and sour sauce, or your favorite dipping sauce!

Sides Vegan Vegetarian

Classic Provençal Ratatouille

Ratatouille is an old-school French dish that is made of stewed late-summer vegetables and served with crusty, country bread. It’s comforting, rich, and harkens back to a time when slow-cooked food was the norm. Ratatouille is what your French grandma would have made especially for you as a child because she knew you loved it, even though it took a very long time and lots of labor to make. 

The traditional method of cooking ratatouille requires the slow cooking of each ingredient in separate pans in order to cook each ingredient perfectly. Those ingredients are then combined and stewed together to meld the flavors. You can imagine that this process is extremely time-consuming and requires constant babysitting. Ain’t nobody got time for that in today’s world.

My version of ratatouille deviates a bit from the traditional method because I roast the veggies and then allow them to stew together. The result is a balanced and delicious ratatouille that takes much less time and attention to prepare, which is always a good thing. I think grandma would actually approve. 


5 large heirloom tomatoes

1 medium eggplant, or two small, diced

1 red bell pepper, diced

2 medium zucchini, diced

1 large yellow squash, diced

1 yellow onion, diced

4-5 cloves of garlic, minced

¼ c. olive oil

2 bay leaves

2 tsp. fresh thyme, chopped

1 tsp. fresh rosemary, chopped

1 tsp. fresh oregano, chopped

Salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Prepare two large baking sheets with parchment paper or foil.

Remove the cores from the tomatoes and pulse them in a food processor until they are saucy, but still a bit chunky (think the consistency of a chunky salsa). 

Place the eggplant on one baking sheet. Coat with olive oil, mix with your hands, and place the pieces in a single layer on the baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper.

Place the red pepper, zucchini, and yellow squash on the other baking sheet. Coat with olive oil, mix with your hands, and place the pieces in a single layer on the baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper. 

Place both baking sheets in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes. 

While the vegetables are roasting, heat 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Cook the onions for about 10 minutes, or until they are soft and lightly browned. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute. Add the tomatoes, bay leaves, thyme, organo, rosemary and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Turn the heat down to low, and allow the sauce to simmer. 

Remove the vegetables from the oven and stir. Place them back into the oven, and cook the eggplant for 10-15 minutes, or until soft. Remove the eggplant and add to the tomato sauce. Stir to combine. 

Roast the red pepper, zucchini, and yellow squash for another 10 minutes while the sauce simmers. Remove from the oven and add to the sauce. Allow the ratatouille to simmer for 10 more minutes so that all of the flavors can meld together nicely. 

Remove from the heat. Season with salt and pepper. Top with a little olive oil. 

Serve in a bowl topped with Parmesan with a baguette, on top of polenta, or mixed into pasta.  

Sides Vegetarian

Panfried Lion’s Mane Mushrooms with Sriracha Mayo

If you haven’t entered the amazing world of exotic and gourmet mushrooms, what’s holding you back? There are so many types of glorious mushrooms readily available in grocery stores now. Back in the day, it was button mushrooms or nothing – but my, how times have changed. I’m a HUGE fan of mushrooms of all types, shapes, and sizes. I have even started foraging for them recently, and what an amazing world full of mushrooms we live in! 

So naturally, when I was at the store last week, I saw some locally-grown lion’s mane mushrooms and jumped at the chance to buy them because they are so, so delicious. If you have never tried them, they taste like really stellar mushrooms with a crab-like texture (lion’s mane cake recipe to come soon).  I whipped up this appetizer version of lion’s mane mushrooms served with a side of sriracha mayo, and what a match made in heaven! 


½ lb. fresh lion’s mane mushrooms

2 Tbsp. butter

1 tsp. garlic powder

Salt and pepper

Sriracha Mayo 

3 Tbsp. mayonnaise

1 Tbsp. sriracha sauce

1 Tbsp. lemon

Cut the bottoms off of the mushrooms and then slice them thinly into strips. 

Mix the ingredients for the sriracha mayo in a small bowl and set aside. 

Heat the butter in a skillet over medium high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook for about 2 minutes, or until browned and crispy on one side. Season with salt, pepper, and garlic powder while they are cooking. Flip the mushrooms over with tongs and cook for another 2 minutes, or until both sides are browned and crispy. Note that if the mushrooms aren’t crispy on both sides, they can be bitter, so it’s important to get that crispiness!

Remove and place on a plate. Season with additional salt and pepper, if desired. 

Serve as an appetizer with sriracha mayo, or on a baguette for a yummy sandwich!


Restaurant-Style Slow Cooker Refried Beans

Why are refried beans so good at Mexican restaurants and so NOT good when you buy them canned at the grocery store? It’s because any truly good Mexican restaurant makes their own refried beans. Homemade refried beans made from dried pinto beans are not only leaps and bounds tastier than their canned counterparts (though I can hardly even make this comparison in good faith), they are insanely economical. For just a few dollars, you can make enough delicious beans to last your family for quite a few meals. 

This recipe for restaurant-style slow cooker refried beans really couldn’t be more simple and hands-off. Throw together the ingredients in the morning and leave them to cook while you’re at work, and you’ll come home to a wonderful-smelling kitchen and super yummy beans that taste great in burritos, tostadas, tacos, or on the side of your Mexican favorites. Don’t buy canned beans. Make them yourself, and your family will thank you.   


1 lb. dry pinto beans, rinsed

1 onion, peeled and quartered

6 cloves of garlic, smashed

1 serrano pepper, quartered

2 tsp. cumin

2 Tbsp. olive oil

8 c. chicken broth or water 

Salt and pepper

Place all ingredients in a large slow cooker (except for the salt and pepper). Set to high and cook for 8 hours or low for 12 hours. 

Drain the beans in a colander (reserving about a cup of the water) and place them back into the slow cooker. Using an immersion blender, blend until the beans reach your desired consistency. If the beans are too thick, add some of the cooking water until they are just how you like them!

Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot or store in an airtight container for later use.

Sides Vegan

Marinated Grilled Zucchini

This recipe for marinated grilled zucchini is simple, but there’s a little trick that makes grilled zucchini tasty: marinating it. This super-fast, incredibly easy recipe just requires a few minutes of your time prior to grilling and trust me – the very small extra step makes all the difference. 

This marinated grilled zucchini is flavorful, firm but tender, and so much more delicious than you thought grilled zucchini could be. The specific herbs in this recipe are only a suggestion, so if these aren’t your favorites, swap them out for the ones you love. This preparation method might result in you actually enjoying the huge overload of garden zucchini that is likely at your fingertips right now instead of dreading having it AGAIN. Hey, we’ve all been there. Hope this helps!


3-4 small zucchini, ends removed and quartered lengthwise

2 Tbsp. olive oil

Juice from ½ lemon

1 clove of garlic, minced

2 tsp. oregano

1 Tbsp. fresh parsley

Salt and pepper

Combine all ingredients in a large glass bowl and marinate in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours prior to grilling.

When you’re ready to cook, preheat the grill to medium high heat. Place the zucchini onto the grill and cook for 3-4 minutes per side. Season with salt and pepper if needed. Serve immediately.

Sides Vegetarian

Calabacitas (Mexican Zucchini and Corn)

Calabacitas, a classic Mexican vegetable dish made from cooked zucchini, corn, onions, and other flavorful add-ins, is the epitome of comforting summer food. Calabacitas is one of those foods that is beloved by so many people in this part of the world for a good reason. It’s bursting with color, health benefits, and palate pleasing flavors. If you grew up eating calabacitas, you probably have some very happy memories of summer dinners with family or perhaps eating these at your grandma’s house. 

Calabacitas is commonly served as a side dish alongside meat, chicken, or fish, but it is also a terrific vegetarian main dish or filling for tacos. It’s also delicious topped with a fried egg and is a very nutritious way to start your day. However you serve this dish, smiles will definitely be on the menu. 


1 Tbsp. olive oil

1 onion, diced

1 poblano pepper, diced and seeded

1 jalapeno or serrano pepper, diced and seeded (optional: if you like heat)

1 15 oz. can of corn, drained

2 roma tomatoes, diced

2 large zucchini, diced (can also use yellow squash)

3 cloves of garlic, minced

2 tsp. New Mexican chile powder

¼ c. fresh cilantro, chopped

1 tsp. cumin

2 tsp. oregano 

½ c. water

½ c. sour cream

¼ c. cotija cheese or shredded cheddar cheese

Salt and pepper to taste

Garnish with cilantro, green onions, or any other favorite toppings

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add onion, poblanos, and serrano/jalapeno peppers. Cook for 2 minutes until soft. Add the corn, tomatoes, zucchini, garlic, cilantro, chile powder, cumin, oregano and cook for 5 minutes. Add water and cook until water is reduced and vegetables are soft, about 5 more minutes.

Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in the sour cream and cheese. Stir until cheese is melted. Enjoy hot!

Salads Sides Vegetarian

Classic Coleslaw

Sometimes I feel like the classics can get a bit too complicated. While there is certainly a time and place for more fancy versions of the classics, sometimes you just want the good ol’ original version. 

Take this coleslaw, for example. It’s the kind of coleslaw you would’ve gotten at your granny’s house at a family cookout. There’s nothing fussy about it. In fact, it’s about as basic as it gets. And in this case, that’s a good thing. Maybe I’ll make some fancy coleslaw some other time, but today definitely calls for granny’s simple version.



3-4 c. green cabbage, shredded

1 c. carrots, shredded

Poppy seeds, for topping


½ c. mayonnaise

1 Tbsp. white vinegar

2 tsp. apple cider vinegar

2 tsp. Honey

Salt and pepper

Combine dressing ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine. Place the cabbage and carrots into a large serving bowl. Mix the dressing into the veggies and refrigerate for 30-60 minutes before serving. Top with poppy seeds, if desired. Enjoy!

Pasta Salads Sides Vegetarian

Spring Green Pasta Salad

This spring green pasta salad is perfect for when you’re craving a salad, but you need something a little more substantial. Not only is this bright green pasta salad gorgeous, it is so fresh tasting. All of the best spring veggies are included: baby spinach, arugula, peas, asparagus, fresh parsley and mint. The salty feta and tangy and robust shallot dressing balances out all of the tender sweetness of the veggies, resulting in a tangy-sweet and healthy meal or side dish.

Serve this salad alongside grilled chicken, fish, or shrimp for a side dish, or eat it alone as a meal. If you’d like to add protein, this salad would be great with shrimp or chicken mixed in. You can also sub out any of these ingredients with your other springtime favorites, like baby kale or chard. 


1 lb. pasta, cooled

3 c. baby spinach

1 c. baby arugula

½ c. peas

1 c. steamed asparagus, cut into pieces

¼ c. fresh parsley

¼ c. fresh mint

½ c. feta cheese

Shallot dressing

Salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and cool. Prep the veggies and shallot dressing. 

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Add dressing a bit at a time, mixing the salad, until your desired taste is reached. Season with salt and pepper. Serve cold.