Zucchini Casserole ~ Easy Vegetarian Main Dish

zucchini casserole ~ thecomynspace.com

I’ve made this a few times and we really love it! This recipe makes 6 servings but this holds well in the fridge and reheats really well. Given how poorly the zucchini casserole did, I was worried the first time!zucchini casserole ~ thecomynspace.com

You’ll need:
3 medium zucchini, washed and sliced into rounds (you should have 6-8 cups)
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
2 tsp seasoned salt or your favorite spice mix (I use Forward from Penzy’s)
1 egg
1/2 freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided
1/2 cup bread crumbs

Preheat the oven to 350. Steam the zucchini for 2 minutes, until it’s just tender. Drain and return the warm large pot. Add in the butter and toss to coat. Once the butter is melted, stir in the flour. In a small bowl, whisk together the spice mix, egg and 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese. Add to the warm zucchini and toss to coat. Turn out into a greased casserole dish (I use an 8×8 dish) and top with the bread crumbs and remaining cheese. Bake for 30 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes before diving in.

Chocolate Sugar Cookies~Simple Cookie Recipe

M has been really stepping it up in the cooking department lately. It might be due to the grill he got for Christmas, but either way, I’m happy! I told him I owed him cookies for all the cookies he’s been doing lately and I was really happy to find we already had everything for these in the house.

These are very good, which is saying something as a person who doesn’t love chocolate. I never even had it until college, when my roommate made so much fun of me for not eating brownies. They are sweet and have a distinct chocolate flavor but it isn’t overboard. I think they’d be just amazing with a little vanilla bean ice cream in the middle.

chocolate sugar cookies~the comyn space

You’ll Need:
3 cups all purpose flour, plus more for rolling
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
16 tbsp (2 sticks) softened butter
1 1/2 cups white sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

Whisk together the dry ingredients. Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time. Scrap down sides and mix in vanilla. Gradually mix in dry ingredients. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for last an hour.

Preheat over to 350. Roll out dough on a floured counter. Cut into desired shapes. Bake on a parchment lined baking sheet for 8 to 10 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Creamy Kale and Sausage Pasta~Weeknight Dinner Idea

I made this as a quick weeknight dinner because I was craving a creamy carb-o-licious pasta dish. Man, did this deliver! AND! It made 8 servings so I got to have it all week for lunch. Win-win right there.

creamy kale and sausage pasta~the comyn space

Serves 6-8

You’ll Need:
2 tbsp. olive oil
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 tsp. crushed red chile flakes
1 pound pork or turkey sweet Italian sausage, casing removed
1 bunch kale, stemmed and roughly chopped
2½ cups milk⅓ cup grated Parmesan
Juice and zest of 1 lemon
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 pound dried whole wheat penne pasta
3 tbsp. finely chopped parsley, for garnish

Heat a stock pot of water to a boil, add pasta, cook, drain and keep warm during the below. You should have enough breaks to avoid spillover. RESERVE 1/4 CUP OF THE PASTA WATER. (I thought this was silly and I was wrong. ’tis important.)

Heat olive oil in a 6 qt pan over medium high heat and add garlic, onion and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown, about 10 minutes.

Add sausage and use a wooden spoon to break up into bite sized pieces as it cooks. Cook until browned, 15 to 18 minutes. Add kale and season with salt and pepper. Cook until wilted, about 3 minutes.

Add milk and bring to a simmer. Cook until reduced by about a third, about 7 to 8 minutes. Stir in Parmesan, lemon zest, juice, and 1/4 cup pasta water. Add in drained pasta and cook an additional 5 minutes, until sauce is creamy. Serve with parsley.

Mini Meal Plan Ideas

I’ve been getting burnt out with planning lately. It takes so much time to come up with 6-7 new dinner recipes each week. Part of the problem is that I don’t have a great system for recipe management. I keep a binder of recipes I’ve printed and ripped out of magazines with my cookbooks, my Saveur magazine’s live together as I refuse to ruin them and more inspiration is pinned on my Pinterest.

In efforts to streamline our meal planning and grocery shopping, I put together a few smaller lists of meal plans, just 3 each. I know myself and I know that if I tried to tie myself down to 7 pre-planned meals, I would rebel and take us out for dinner. These are mostly things I’ve made before or are on this week’s schedule. If they don’t work out, I know I can switch something else in.

Each week, we can pick a flavor since the recipes share fresh herbs and other ingredients, hopefully helping our grocery dollar stretch a little further. This system is designed to that I can still experiment with new recipes each week too, just a smaller, more manageable number.

Also, I want to memorize these recipes. I’ve become way too attached to reading recipes and have gotten out of the habit of changing things up and experimenting with ingredients. Hopefully, memorizing a few standards will help!

Asian Flavors
Thai Beef with Basil
Easy Pad Thai
Coconut Curry

Italian Flavors
Penne with Kale and Sausage
Crock pot Ragu
Poached Eggs in tomato sauce

Mexican Flavors
Enchilada Hot Dish
Crock pot Chicken Tinga
Spicy Black Bean Burgers

American Flavors
Salmon Cakes + seasonal side
Chicken Wings + seasonal side
Creamy Butternut Cavatappi with Blue Cheese

How do you meal plan? Any suggestions?


I have been wanting to make this recipe for AGES and we finally got around to it this weekend. There is a big long list of ingredients, but we had everything but tofu and sprouts on hand, so that made it a bit easier on the wallet.

This is not something to make in a rush on a weekday, you’re going to make loads of dishes and a big ol’ mess. But! This is WORTH it. The flavors are there, which is exactly what we were after. Related: anyone know of any good Korean joints in Columbus? This serves 4, but we only put together two bowls and then used the left over rice, tofu and veggies for stir fry the next day.

bibimbop~the comyn space

You’ll Need:
8 oz extra firm tofu, drained
1/3 cup water
1/4 apple cider vinegar
2 tsp sugar, divided
2 tsp minced garlic, divided
1 tsp minced ginger, divided
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1 cup julienne-cut carrot
2 tbsp soy sauce
3 tbsp plus 3 tsp toasted sesame oil
3 cups cooked white rice
1 cup fresh been sprouts
5 oz sliced mushroom caps
9 oz fresh spinach
1 pat butter or cooking spray
4 eggs
Sriracha for topping
salt for topping

bibimbop~the comyn space

Slice the tofu into 3/4 inch slices and place on a plate covered in paper towels. Top with more paper towels and another plate. Mine weren’t heavy enough to press the water out so I put a few coffee cups on there as well. Let sit for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine water, vinegar, 1 tsp sugar, 1/2 tsp garlic, 1/2 tsp ginger, and crushed red pepper in a small saucepan. Bring to boil, add carrot, cover and remove from heat. Let sit for 30 minutes and then drain (This is when I cooked my rice FYI).

Remove the tofu from paper towels and and cut into 3/4 cubes. Place in a bowl where you can toss the tofu. Combine 1 tsp sugar, 1/2 tsp garlic, 1/2 tsp ginger, soy, 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil and whisk together. Add 1 tablespoon of this mixture to the tofu and gently toss to coat. Let stand until time to cook, about 15 minutes.

Heat a cast iron skillet over high heat for about 4 minutes. Add 1 tbsp sesame oil and swirl to coat. Add rice to pan in a single layer and do not stir. Cook for 1 minute and then remove from heat and let sit until time to serve, about 20 minutes.

Heat over to warm, get a large jelly roll or Heat a second (I told you there was going be loads of dishes) large skillet over medium high heat. Add 1 tsp oil, swirl to coat and add 1 1/2 tsp soy sauce mixture and sprouts to pan. Saute one minute and remove to pan to keep warm.

Add 1 tsp oil to pan, swirl to coat and add mushrooms to pan. Saute two minutes and then stir in 1 1/2 tsp soy sauce mixture, saute an additional minute. Remove from mushrooms from pan and keep warm.

Add 2 tsp oil to pan, swirl to coat and add tofu to pan. Saute 7 minutes or until golden brown on all sides. Remove from pan and keep warm.

Add remaining 1 tsp oil to pan, swirl to coat and add remaining 1 tsp garlic and remaining 1 tbsp soy sauce mixture to pan. Saute for 30 seconds and then add spinach. Saute 1 minute or until spinach is wilted. Remove from pan and keep warm.

Reduce heat to medium, spray pan with cooking spray or melt pat of butter in pan. Crack eggs into pan and top with a sprinkle of salt. Fry eggs until whites are set, or yellows too (for me at least!).

To put together the bowls, add 3/4 cups rice and then top evenly with sprouts, mushrooms, tofu, spinach, quick pickled carrots, and fried egg. Service with sriracha.

Easy, Vegan Tortilla Soup

This soup came together very quickly and makes loads of soup! M and I got about 10 servings out of this recipe! What I love the most-it has all the flavor you except out of a slow simmer tortilla soup but in under 30 minutes-my kind of soup 🙂 I know that adding the tortillas to soup seems weird but it really thickens the soup up.


You’ll Need:

1 tsp olive oil

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

1 jalapeño, seeded and thinly sliced

1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

1 tsp salt

24 oz canned whole tomatoes

24 oz vegetable broth

4 oz tortilla chips

1 tbsp ground cumin

1 15 oz can pinto beans or about 1 1/2 cups cooked pinto beans (I use this technique)

1 cup frozen corn

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

juice from 1 lime


Preheat a 4 quart or bigger pot over medium heat. Add the oil and swirl to coat. Sauté the onions, jalapeño and bell pepper until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add a little broth if required. Add garlic, red pepper flakes and salt and cook for another minute.

Break up the tomatoes with your fingers or a pair of scissors and add them to the pot, including the juice. Fill the can with broth and add that to the pot as well. Stir in cumin.

Crush 2 oz of the tortilla chips into crumbs (like dime sized) and add to the soup. Cover and bring to a boil. Once it boils, reduce to a simmer and add the beans, cron and about most the cilantro.

Let simmer for about 5 minutes and then add the lime juice. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with the rest of the remaining chips and cilantro.

Warm Cauliflower Salad with Herbed Butter Beans

warm cauliflower and herbed butter bean salad~the comyn space

You’ll Need:
1 1/2 cups cooked barley (I had the slow cooking kind, but pearl would be faster)
1 tbsp freshly grated lemon zest
1 tsbp mayonnaise
1 heaping tsp Dijon style mustard
6 tbsp olive oil
freshly ground black pepper
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
1 15 oz can butter beans (they might be labeled gigante or corona beans)
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
2 tbsp fresh tarragon leaves, chopped
Whisk the lemon juice, mayo, mustard, and 5 tbsp of the olive oil together in a same bowl. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper (I probably used 1/2 teaspoon).

Heat remaining olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat. Cook cauliflower, turning occasionally, for 10 to 12 minutes or until it is browned in spots. Add 2 tbsp water, cover, and cook until tender-crisp, about 2 minutes more.

Transfer to a large bowl. Combine butter beans, parsley, tarragon, barley, and dressing. Toss to coat and serve immediately, while still warm.

warm cauliflower and herbed butter bean salad~the comyn space

Ribbon Salad

carrot ribbon salad~the comyn space

Carrots are one of my favorite root vegetables (beets being their only serious contender) and I’m really craving vegetables at this point of year. Spring is just beginning to break but nothing is really growing, yet.

I made this to satisfy that fresh springy vegetable craving on our still-40-degrees-and-gray nights.

You’ll Need:
3 tbsp mayo and 3 tbsp greek yogurt (or all of each-up to you!)
the zest of 1 lemon
the juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp fine grain salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
3 lb carrots (which was two at our fruit stand!)
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup currants (again, 1/2 of either would be tasty too)
3 green onions, finely sliced

You Will:
To make the dressing, whisk first 7 ingredients (thru pepper) together in a small bowl and set aside.

Using a vegetable peeler, shave the carrots into ribbons. This took me longer than I thought but my iDevice says it was only 10 minutes.

Toss carrot ribbons with raisins, currants, green onions, and dressing. Serve immediately. If not serving right away, store carrots and dressing apart and combine right before serving (it got really oniony as I didn’t!)

Dreaming of spring…

Hot Cross Buns

hot crossed buns

I made these over the weekend thinking 20 buns would last the whole week thru Easter. Ha ha. I was wrong! Despite the work, they were really good and totally worth it!

You’ll Need:
1/2 cup dried currants or raisins (I used currants)
2 tablespoons water, plus more to cover currants
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1 package (or 2 1/4 tsp) active dry yeast
2 tablespoons hottest tap water
1 cup milk (I used skim)
5 tbsp melted butter
3 tbsp sugar, white
1 large egg
1 tsp salt
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour (you can use 2 cup bread flour if you want lighter buns)
1 egg, lightly whipped
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tbsp fresh lemon or orange juice

You Will:
Put the currants in a small saucepan and cover with water. Bring water to a boil and then drain well. Transfer the currants to a small bowl and sprinkle with 2 tbsp water. Cover and let soak for at least 30 minutes. Stir in cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger.

Come yeast and hottest tap water in a large mixing bowl or the bowl of your stand mixer. Let stand for about 5 minutes and then add milk, melted butter, sugar, egg and salt. Mix on low for 1 minute and gradually stir in the flour until dough is moist but not sticky. Knead for about 10 minutes by hand or on medium until dough is smooth and elastic. Add currant mixture near the end of the kneading process.

Transfer to a greased bowl and turn dough to cover lightly. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place for about an hour to an hour and a half, until doubled in size.

Cut in 18 to 20 equal pieces, about an 1oz each. Grease two baking sheets and on an unfloured surface, roll the dough into balls. Place them 2 inches apart on the cookie sheets and then cover with plastic wrap. Let rise for about an hour, until doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 425 and brush with egg wash. Bake for about 15 minutes, until lightly browned.

While the rolls are baking, make the frosting by stirring together the powdered sugar and the orange juice. While the rolls are still warm, decorate each one with the glaze, in the shape of a cross, or a big X on top.