Cooking Club: Week 36

Hey hey! A few weeks ago, I asked ya’ll to send me some of your go-to dinners - meals that were quick, easy-ish and healthy-ish. We received lots of pasta submissions! I chose a few at random that seemed to offer some variety and was happy to cook YOUR meals this time, so thank you! I always try to add lots of notes to dietary and time saving tips, but if I missed anything, don’t hesitate to DM me on Instagram or send us an email.

We’ve also put together a little Photo Tips resource that we hope you will find useful! It’s aimed at concisely communicating some simple, conceptual tools that you can put to use straight away, regardless of what you use to take pictures and what your experience with photography is. Click the button below to check it out.



- We updated the Sauces & Dressings page, and renamed it as the Condiment Index, with a few new non-dressing & sauce requests, including the quick pickled onions, spicy maple pepitas, and the green tahini sauce.

- Comments, questions or suggestions? Submit your feedback here.


I am assuming you have sea salt, pepper, extra virgin olive oil and a higher heat oil, such as avocado oil or coconut oil. Check your stock on these before you head to the market, and check off any other items you may already have. As you continue to use these recipes, you will see repetition of my favorite ingredients. For example, while real maple and pine nuts are pricey pantry staples, they won’t sit in the pantry, you’ll use them in upcoming weeks. Use bulk bins at your local health food store to buy in smaller quantities if you prefer.

Your List i

Spicy peanut noodles w/ mushrooms + kale Harissa chickpea bowls w/ roasted potatoes, mixed greens + lemon tahini Salad w/ grilled chicken, smoked almonds, apples + goat cheddar Peanut butter cookie dough bites



Meat + Dairy + Fridge

recipe 01: Spicy peanut noodles w/ mushrooms + kale

serves 4

If Udon noodles aren’t available at your grocer, soba noodles work, or in this case, I just used regular spaghetti noodles. This is a similar sauce to others we’ve done, just be sure to save some pasta water so it will spread and gloss the noodles!

Thanks for the idea, Lauren!


Tips of The Week

Make Ahead: The vegetables can be chopped and the sauce ingredients can be combined a day in advance.

Kid Friendly: Chop the kale and mushrooms up a bit smaller to tangle up in the noodles. Otherwise, pull a handful of the plain, cooked noodles out before you mix them with the sauce and vegetables.

Gluten Free: Use a rice-based noodle.

Carnivore Addition: You could add chicken or shrimp on top of the noodles. Marinate them in similar flavors.


2 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil, divided
12 oz. mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
1 bunch Lacinato kale, de-ribbed + chopped (about 3 cups)
4 scallions white + light green parts, sliced thin
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
3 tsp. sriracha
1/2 tsp fish sauce, optional
1/3 cup peanut (or almond) butter
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
8 oz. udon or spaghetti noodles
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Juice of one lime

1/2 cup roasted and salted peanuts, chopped


Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Heat about 2 tsp. of the sesame oil in a frying pan. Sauté the mushrooms with a pinch of salt, not touching them often so they get some brown marks. After they are done releasing liquid, add the kale and green onions, and sauté another 2 minutes until wilted. Turn the heat off while you assemble the other ingredients.

Drop the noodles in the boiling water. While the noodles cook, stir together your sauce ingredients in a bowl - the remaining sesame oil, soy sauce, sriracha, fish sauce, peanut butter, vinegar, and a big pinch of salt and pepper. Add 1/3 cup pasta water to the sauce to emulsify everything. 

Turn the heat back on for the vegetables. Use tongs to transfer the noodles to the mushroom and kale pan, some transfer of water is great. Add the sauce and toss everything to coat. Squeeze in the lime juice, toss again. Taste, and add what you need: soy sauce? More acid? If things are looking dry, add a splash more sesame oil or pasta water. 

Garnish with the peanuts.

Nutrition Information

per serving

  • calories
  • fat i
    28 g
  • carbs i
    57 g
  • protein
    21 g

recipe 02: Harissa chickpea bowls w/ roasted potatoes + mixed greens

serves 4

Breanna sent this in and says it’s one she loves and makes often from The First Mess. I LOVE Laura’s food, and this was no exception. This dish was straight forward, quick and the sum was greater than its parts. I will for sure make this again.

Laura toasts dry spices and mixes them with tomato sauce for the chickpeas. I use the harissa paste (they also sell one at Whole Foods) from Trader Joes and found that 1 tsp. was plenty of heat for our family, but this will depend on the brand. The paste is included in the recipe below, but Laura’s blend for this recipe is: 1 tsp. cumin seeds, 1 tsp. coriander seeds, 1 tsp. caraway seeds and 1 tsp. chili flakes, all toasted in a hot pan then ground, and mixed with the tomato sauce. I buy a za’atar blend from Cost Plus World Market, or online. If you have a spice shop near you, they’ll have it too. It can be made from scratch too, but I feel like I may be asking for too much for one recipe with that. 

Feta wasn’t suggested as it’s a vegan blog, but I think it would be a nice addition for serving, so included it below and in the grocery list. 


Tips of The Week

Make Ahead: The stewy chickpeas and tahini sauce can be made up to three days in advance. Do the potatoes just before, but that is mostly hands-off time.

Use it Twice: This did fabulous with a re-heat. I used the tahini dressing for a chop salad also.

Kid Friendly: Easy on the harissa paste if you are going that route - you can always start mild and add as you wish. If you make the dry blend mentioned in the headnote, it shouldn’t be too hot.

Carnivore Addition: You could add some shredded rotisserie chicken in with the chickpea mixture. Double the harissa and add another 1/2 cup of tomato sauce in this case to keep everything moist.



1/4 cup tahini
2 Tbsp. water
Zest of a lemon
2 Tbsp. Lemon juice
1 clove garlic, grated in
1/2 tsp. sea salt
Fresh ground pepper


1 1/2 lbs. baby potatoes
2 Tbsp. avocado or other high-heat oil
1 tsp. za’atar, plus more for serving
1 tsp. sea salt


1 Tbsp. avocado or olive oil
1 small shallot, fine dice
2 garlic cloves, minced
sea salt
1.5 cups cooked chickpeas (about 1 15 oz. can)
1-2 tsp. Harissa paste
1 cup tomato sauce
water, if needed


Mixed greens or baby kale
Extra virgin olive oil
Lemon juice
Sheeps milk feta, optional


Preheat the oven to 400’.

Make the lemony-tahini. In a bowl or jar, combine the tahini, water, lemon zest and juice, garlic, salt and pepper. Mix or shake until combined and smooth. Taste, season, set aside. 

Cut the potatoes into 1” thick wedges and transfer them to a rimmed baking sheet. Toss them in the oil, za’atar, salt and pepper and toss to coat. Roast for 40 minutes, flipping them halfway through. 

For the harissa chickpeas, heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and sauté or just a minute. Add the harissa paste (if you’re toasting and grinding your own spices, see headnote), chickpeas, tomatoes, water, stir, and turn the heat to low. Let it all simmer for 10 minutes. You want the chickpeas to be saucy but not fluid. 

Toss the greens with a drizzle of oil, lemon juice, salt and toss to coat. Assemble your bowls with some greens, potatoes, chickpeas and the tahini sauce. Garnish with a bit of extra za’atar and feta, if using.

Nutrition Information

per serving

  • calories
  • fat i
    21 g
  • carbs i
    58 g
  • protein
    13 g

recipe 03: Grilled chicken salad w/ apples, smoked almonds and white cheddar

serves 4

Note: plan for an overnight marinade if possible.

So most of the submissions were pasta, and I try not to do more than one noodle dish a week, as I’m aware some of you try to do lower carbohydrates/grains. So, McKenzie mentioned this go to salad of hers, and I thought it sounded so satisfying, and a great combination to pull things out for little ones, if you go that route when serving entree salads. 


Tips of The Week

Make Ahead: The chicken can be marinated and grilled in advance. The dressing can be made in advance - double or triple it if you like having a vinaigrette on hand.

Use it Twice: Once you have all these bits prepped, repeating this salad is easy.

Kid Friendly: I pulled the tasty bits from the greens and added some sliced cucumbers as a vegetable.

Vegetarian Swap: Replace the chicken with whatever else you like to grill, or some hard boiled eggs in its place.

Dairy Free: Skip the cheese and replace it with some avocado.



1/4 cup avocado or extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. sea salt
2 cloves garlic, grated
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. soy sauce or coconut aminos
2 chicken breasts, pounded down 2” thick


2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. maple syrup
1 garlic clove, grated in
1/4 cup chopped parsley (or whatever green herbs you have)
Juice of one lemon (about 1/4 cup)
2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
Dash of red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp. sea salt


6 heaping cups spring mix (about 8 oz.)
1 large apple, diced
4 green onions, trimmed and sliced thin
3/4 cup smoked almonds, chopped 
3 ounces grated goat cheddar or sharp white cheddar


In a large bowl or Ziplock, combine the oil, salt, garlic, vinegar, soy sauce or coconut aminos and squish it all around. Add the pounded chicken breasts to the marinade and turn them around to coat. Cover/seal and marinate overnight or for at least an hour. Leave the chicken at room temp. for an hour before you’re ready to grill. 

Heat your grill or grill pan to medium heat and grill the chicken on both sides until cooked through, around 6-8 minutes per side. Set aside to cool then chop it up. 

Shake all the dressing ingredients together in a jar or whisk in a bowl. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine your greens, apples, green onions, half of the almonds, cheese, and chicken, and a drizzle of dressing. Toss everything to coat. Top the salad with the remaining chicken, nuts and cheese, a fresh grind of pepper and serve. 

Nutrition Information

per serving

  • calories
  • fat i
    61 g
  • carbs i
    22 g
  • protein
    30 g

recipe 04: Peanut butter cookie dough bites

Makes 18 balls

We have a treat-loving household, and having these around feels like a treat, without being overly indulgent. If you can pack nut-based treats for school lunches or sports snacks, these would be great.

 This recipe comes from Oh She Glows cookbook, by suggestion of Leslie. 


Tips of The Week

Nut Free: Use sunflower seed butter and 1/4 cup flaxmeal (it is more absorbent) in place of the almond meal.


1 cup old-fashioned oats
2 Tbsp. coconut oil, warmed to a liquid
1/4 cup runny, natural peanut butter, salted
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 cup almond meal or almond flour
1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips


The entirety of the recipe can be done in a food processor, but I’ll write it as published in case you don’t have one. 

Put the oats in a blender (or food processor) and pulse until a coarse flour forms. 

Transfer the oats to a large mixing bowl. Add the coconut oil, peanut butter, vanilla, maple, salt, almond meal and stir to combine. Chop up the chocolate chips and stir them in. Alternatively, everything can be pulsed together in a food processor. 

Roll the dough into small balls. Keep them covered in the fridge. They should stay good for 1-2 weeks. 

Nutrition Information

per ball

  • calories
  • fat i
    6 g
  • carbs i
    9 g
  • protein
    2 g