Cooking when you’re too busy to cook

Back in August, I went through a very busy time with work – straight through two weekends, and several days that passed 12 hours. It’s not the first time I’ve done this to myself, but this time was different. I stayed sane – beyond outer appearances! Putting some extra planning into my food was no small part of this, and this little cookbook was a huge help:

 One-Dish Vegan by Robin Robertson:

First, there was the Artichoke Spaghetti Pie. I loved that this recipe felt kind of fancy, but was super easy to make. Just boil the pasta, blend everything else, mix together, and bake.

Spagetti pie uncookedspagetti pie cooked

The recipe makes a sizable pie, which is great for having leftovers. Not too shabby for a super quick lunch!

spagettie pie leftover

Oh man, the corn was good this year!

Then there was the chickpea and cauliflower laced Indian-Spiced Risotto. This recipe won’t replace taking a whole afternoon to cook up your favourite Indian dishes, but it’s a fantastic weeknight tribute to many of my favourite things about those meals.

Indian risotto in pot Indian risotto on plate

There is a whole chapter on chili in this cookbook! I chose the West Coast Chili because I had some lovely little zucchinis in my fridge, as well as the remnants of a can of chipotle chilies in adobo sauce – and I don’t think I’d ever tried adding wine to chili before (beer, yes).

West coast chili in bowlsWest coast chili on balcony table

Most of the leftovers went into the freezer for lunches, but I kept one portion out for Friday night nachos (this is another keep-your-sanity trick I’ve discovered… even if you’re going to work straight through the weekend, it still does good to mark the end of the week).

This isn’t a super thick chili, so I added some kidney beans before pouring it over the tortilla chips.

West coast chili as nachos

Overlapping ingredients is always a good thing, especially when you’re busy. In this case, zucchini, chickpeas, chilies and cilantro for Oven-Baked Indian Vegetable with Chickpeas. This is a wonderfully easy recipe as you basically throw everything together in a baking pan, then shove it in the oven.

oven roasted Indian vegetables with chickpeas

It’s rare that I make lunch from scratch when I’m busy, but I still had chickpeas on hand (I cooked my whole pressure cooker full) and mangoes were on sale.  This Smoky Chickpea Salad with Mango and Avocado is delicious! This is my favourite of all the roasted chickpea recipes I’ve tried so far, and mango worked great as the base for the dressing (I chose the mustard variation).

Smoky chickpea mango salad

Finally, so I don’t come off as more culinarily virtuous than I actually am, I should also thank vegan freezer products for helping me get through that busy stretch. Lucky for me, these are super easy to find in my neighbourhood – there are 3 separate places where I can buy vegan freezer pizza within a 10 minute walk of my apartment! Beyond pizza, other freezer favourites are Gardein seven grain crispy tenders and golden fishless filet and SoL Cuisine burgers.

Double mushroom burger

SoL Cuisine mushroom and rice burger – doubled up with a roasted Portobello. I was really hungry that night!

As for the non-food things that helped keep me sane… Living with someone who does a pretty good job of tolerating my high-gear incarnation, yoga, getting enough sleep, the adorable fuzzy company of our cat, and long summer evening bike rides to the less urban parts of the city.

River at sunsetKitten Pants


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