Easy Mushroom Gravy

I think we can all agree. Well, most of us, anyway. Pretty much everything’s better with gravy. Be it mashed potatoes, meatloaf, stuffing, or a holiday roast, gravy adds something extra comforting.

Here’s what I do when I want a quick, easy, satisfying gravy:


  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 8-oz package cremini or white button mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 cups vegetable stock, divided
  • 3 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp vegan worcestershire
  • 1 Tsp poultry seasoning


Heat a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Saute onion until it starts to brown, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook another minute. Add mushrooms and cook until they’ve released their juicy mushroom goodness. Add 2 cups stock, and heat until it starts to boil. Stir remaining 1 cup stock and the rest of the ingredients together and add to the pan.  Continue to cook over medium heat, stirring frequently until gravy has thickened.


Easy Lentil Soup From the Pantry

Ever have that day where you head to the kitchen to whip up something for dinner, only to find you’re out of pretty much everything fresh? I mean, like, even onions? It’s pretty much full-on panic time around here when I run out of something as essential to my every day as onions. Oh, and garlic. Did I mention I was out of garlic, too?

Guess it’s time for a trip to the store, huh?

Ok, but before we do that, a recipe born of necessity. Sometimes those turn out to be the best kind, I think.


  • 1 lb brown lentils, picked over and rinsed
  • 2 quarts vegetable stock (or the corresponding amounts of bouillon cubes and water – or in my case, a combination of both)
  • 1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp granulated garlic
  • lemon juice, optional


Throw it all in a large sauce pan (except lemon juice, if using), bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for 30-40 minutes until lentils are tender, stirring occasionally to be sure tomato paste dissolves and to prevent sticking (especially near the end of the cooking time. This gets pretty thick. I probably should have called it a stew). If you should happen to have some lemon juice, a dash of it at the end does wonders for this, but it’s good without it, too.

Savory Spinach and Mushroom Oatmeal

One thing you’ll learn about me pretty quickly is that I’m a HUGE fan of savory breakfasts. Once in awhile, I’ll enjoy something on the sweeter side (Dr. Fuhrman’s Super Seed Oatmeal is usually our go-to sweet-ish breakfast), but most of the time you’ll find me cooking up veggies and beans in the morning.  In fact, if it weren’t for having to feed another person, I’d probably just have dinner leftovers most days.

This morning I came across a half cup or so of jarred marinara sauce (I think I’d saved it with the lofty notion that I’d make pizza or something) and decided it might just go well with some nutty oatmeal. Oh, and spinach was on sale this week, and mushrooms almost always find their way on to our breakfast table. This was shaping up to be some potentially tasty breakfast!

Normally I’d use steel cut oats, but I didn’t happen to have any, so feel free to substitute according to your preference (and cook according to the directions on the package). This would be excellent with a sturdy grain like barley, too.


  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 8 oz mushrooms (white or cremini), washed and quartered (my mushrooms were a little on the bigger side, so I cut them in 6 pieces)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 1 cup rolled (old-fashioned) oats
  • 1/2 cup marinara sauce
  • 5 oz (1/2 bag spinach)
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1-2 Tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
  • Black pepper, to taste


Heat a large, non-stick pan over medium-high heat (or medium, if your stove is on the aggressive side). Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally until they start to brown and soften. Add a splash of water if they start to stick. While the onion is cooking, prep your mushrooms and add them to the pan. Cook an additional 7 minutes or so, until mushrooms have browned and start to release their juices. Add garlic and cook another minute.

In a large saucepan, bring water to a boil and add oatmeal. Return to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes or until oats are done.  Stir in the mushroom mixture and remaining ingredients (including nutritional yeast and red pepper, if using) and cook until spinach is wilted and tomatoes are slightly softened.

Easy Soft Polenta

When I was growing up, hot cereal usually meant oatmeal or cream of wheat. Oatmeal or cream of wheat meant milk, butter, and brown sugar. Mostly brown sugar.  You can imagine my shock and dismay when I moved to Florida as an adult and was handed a bowl of grits.  I gave them the usual sweet treatment, and was pretty much horrified.

Now, I know what you’re going to say. It’s what everybody says in the South when you say you don’t like something. “You just ain’t had ’em done right!” Um, no. This is gross.

So went my thinking for several years.  I was very certain I didn’t like grits. I’d see people eat them in a more savory preparation, and just couldn’t wrap my brain around the whole thing.  Then one day, I had ’em done right. They came as a (savory, garlicky) side dish with a dinner a friend had made, and the light bulb came on.  “This is like a runnier version of polenta!”, I exclaimed, to more than one strange look from the dinner crowd.  I never looked back.

That said, I’ve realized over the years that, while I DO like grits, I absolutely love the comforting creaminess of polenta, and will eat it as often as I can get away with it.  There’s one problem with making it yourself, though.  Anybody who’s ever been stirring a pot of the ever-thickening, bubbling, menacing molten deliciousness has felt the napalm-like burn on their hand/forearm that only polenta can deliver.

This method can help avoid that.  By stirring only until everything is combined well, and not waiting until it reaches the volcanic-eruption stage, I hope I can save some trips to the cold water from the faucet, and quite possibly some curse words. (Those should be saved for more recreational applications whenever possible.)  Simply pop a lid on the pot, turn it down, and let the lid take the abuse.


  • 4 cups water, divided
  • 1 cup fine cornmeal
  • 1 tsp salt (optional)


Bring 3 cups water to a boil (with salt, if using). Stir cornmeal in to remaining 1 cup water until well blended. Stir cornmeal mixture in to boiling water. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook an additional 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add any seasonings (nutritional yeast, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes? Yes, please!).  Stir and let sit for a few minutes before serving.