Taco Pasta

Yesterday evening while waiting for my son to wake up from his nap, I was browsing on Pinterest. I came across this pin for Taco Pasta. Noodles with a Mexican-style meat sauce. It looked so good and I hadn’t had an actual home cooked dinner since my mom left a week ago. So I decided to quickly make a vegan version of it before Jack woke up.

I did not use a taco seasoning packet like in the original recipe. I never buy spice packets like that, too high in sodium and you never know what else in there exactly. Just make your own spice blend with your own fresh spices.

Taco Pasta
5 oz Penne 
Olive oil
1/2 white onion, chopped fine 
1 clove if garlic, minced 
1 package of vegan ground beef (I used Tofurky Ground Beef Style
1/4 tsp salt 
1/4 tsp pepper 
1/2 tsp garlic powder 
1/2 tsp Mexican oregano 
1/2 tsp paprika 
1/2 tsp ground cumin 
1 tsp chili powder 
1 cup salsa (I used pico de gallo) 
1/2 cup vegan cream cheese ( I used Tofutti Better Than Cream Cheese
1/2 cup vegan sour cream 
Vegan cheddar cheese, optional 
Cook the pasta according to the direction on the package. 
While that cooks, add a little olive oil to a large skillet. Heat over medium heat. 
Add the onions and sauté until soft. 
Add the garlic and the ground “beef”. Cook until the “beef” is slightly browned. 
Add the salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano, paprika, cumin, and chili powder. Cook until fragrant.
Turn the heat to low. Add the salsa, cream cheese, and sour cream. Mix well and cook until heated through. 
Once the pasta is ready, drain and return to the pot. 
Add the “meat” sauce to the pasta and stir together well. 
Serve it up and add a sprinkle of cheddar cheese on top if you wish.

Michael was really happy to have a home cooked meal and so was I. This was so filling and tasty after several says of frozen food and sandwiches. I love the tang from the sour cream.

Green Chili Stew

I fell asleep on the couch last week (one of the joys of being pregnant) while watching Food Network. As I started to wake up, I heard something about roasting hatch chilies for green chili strew. By the time I actually woke up, the show was over so I have no idea what it was or who was making. It still sounded good so I decided to make it for dinner.

This stew came out FANTASTIC. When Michael walked in the door he said it smelled like his grandma was cooking (he is half Hispanic, his grandparents were of Spanish decent born in New Mexico).  He is not a big soup or stew fan, but he asked for a second bowl!

Sadly, I don’t have hatch chilies right now. And, I did not feel like going to the store to by anaheims or some other chili. So I just used the jalapenos already in my fridge. It still came out AMAZING, but would be even better with hatches if you can get them.

This recipe makes 4 servings.

Green Chili Stew
6 jalapenos
3 tbs olive oil
1 block of extra firm tofu, cubed
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 large carrots, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbs flour
4 cups water (or vegetable broth)
1 large tomato, diced
Salt and pepper, to taste
Cilantro, for garnish

Roast the whole jalapenos. I did this over my gas stove burner. You can also do it in the broiler or over a grill. You want a nice black char on the skins.

Pop the roasted peppers into a zip lock bag and let them cool. The steam will loosen the skins. Once cooled, remove the charred skins and the stems.

Chop the jalapenos.

In a large pot over medium heat, add the olive oil.

Lightly brown the tofu.

Add the chopped onions and carrots, saute until they start to soften.

Add the garlic and cook saute for a minute.

Add the flour and coat the veggies well.

Add the water and mix together well. Break up all the flour clumps.

Stir in the chopped jalapenos.

Turn the heat down the low and let the broth thicken slightly, about 10-15 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Removed from the heat and add the diced tomatoes.

Garnish with a little cilantro and serve.

A warm tortilla on the side and you have a very tasty dinner!

Corn Chowder

One of the best things at the restaurant I used to work at was the Corn Chowder. Creamy, sweet, a little spicy and tons of flavor. So I decided to make my own version at home since I had lovely fresh organic corn from my vegetable box delivery.

This recipe makes 4 servings.
Corn Chowder
4 ears of fresh corn (frozen will not work for this)
Olive oil
1 poblano pepper, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 jalapeno, chopped
2 cups soy milk
2 to 4 cups water
Salt and Pepper
Chili Powder
Cilantro, chopped
Avocado, optional
Salsa, optional
Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.
Remove the husks and clean off all the silk.
Remove the kernels from cob. I did this by holding the cobs vertical and cutting straight down with a knife over a plate. You can leave the kernels for roasting and cut them off later, but I think this is easier.
Lightly coat a baking sheet with olive oil and spread the kernels down in an even layer. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown. Some might go a little blacks, that is totally fine.
Set aside and let the kernels cool completely.
Meanwhile, remove the stem from the poblano and chop into small pieces.
Peal the onion and chop as well.
Remove the stem (and sees if you want less heat) from the jalapeno and chop too.
In pot over medium heat, add a little olive oil and saute the chopped veggies until softened. Turn off the heat and set aside.
Next, get out your blender or food processor. Add the corn, soy milk, and two cups of water. It should be smooth, but with a little texture. Add additional water as needed.
Once you get the desired texture, add the puree to the pot with the veggies. Turn on the heat to low.
Season with salt, pepper, and chili powder to taste. Once it is heated through, remove from the heat and add some cilantro.
I topped mine with some sliced avocado and salsa. Serve it with a warm tortilla or chips on the side too. So good and pretty light on calories too. In fact, you can probably skip the olive oil all together and it would still be great.

Tamale Pie

I have no real story or reason behind the recipe. I had dry pinto beans, I had masa, and I had fresh organic veggies. So I made a tamale pie. I decided to make it more like dumplings on top instead of a solid crust, just trying something different.

Tamale Pie
2 cups dry pinto beans
6 cups water
1 tbs chili powder
2 tsp Mexican oregano
1 tsp cumin
Salt and pepper
2 zucchini, cubed
1 medium onion, diced
2 green bell peppers, diced
2 sweet gypsy peppers, diced
2 cups masa harina
Salt
About 3 cups water

Rinse the dry pinto beans.

In a large pot, add the beans, 6 cups water, chili powder, oregano, and cumin. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Cook for one and a half hours, or until the beans are almost soft and most of the water is absorbed. Add more water if needed. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Next add the zucchini, onion, bell peppers, and sweet peppers. Stir well and let if cook covered 30 minutes. Now the beans and the veggies should be all soft.

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees and spray a baking pan with cooking spray.

In a small bowl, mix together the masa and salt. Add a little water at a time until the dough reaches a moist play-dough-like consistency.

Pour the bean and veggie mixture into the baking pan.

Tear off small chunks of the dough and cover the top of the bean and veggie mixture. It’s okay if not every spot is covered.

Bake for 30 minutes, until the masa is slightly golden.

I topped mine with homemade guacamole, try one of my Guacamole 3 Ways recipes. And all the veggies (but the onion) were organic from the box delivery I mentioned in Roasted Beet and Carrot Salad post.

Tequila Sunrise Fajitas

I like fajitas and I like tequila sunrises, so this recipe was inevitable.  They were my last call drink during college (my logic being that it is almost morning so why not have some OJ). My mom brought me back from sliver tequila from her trip to Mexico last month, and I have been wanting to make this delicious drink very badly. But, I began to think, why stop there? I heard of margartia-style tacos and such before, so why not try tequila-sunrise-style?

This post contains two side recipes in order to assemble the fajitas. This will make enough for 8 fajitas.


Tequila Sunrise Fajitas
Fajita Vegetables
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
1 small yellow onion, cut into strips
1 cup white mushrooms, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 tsp curry powder
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp olive oil
1 oz sliver tequila
1/4 cup orange juice
Salt and pepper
Corn Salsa
2 ears of white corn
1 jalepeno, chopped finely
2 tsp fresh cilantro
1 tbs orange juice
1/2 tsp chili powder
Salt and pepper
Other Ingredients 
Guacamole (try one of my recipes)
Small tortillas (I used Trader Joe’s Corn and Wheat Tortillas)
Salsa of your choice

To make the fajita vegetables….

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and mix together well. Make sure to coat the veggies thoroughly.

Let this marinate for at least an hour.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the veggies.

Stir often and cook until the veggies soften and most of the liquid has been absorbed.

To make the corn salsa…

Remove the kernels from the cob. I do this by standing the ear up in a large bowl, and cutting the kernels off downward in to bow.

In a large bowl (like the one you just conveniently cut all the kernels in) add the remaining ingredients and mix together well.

Chill in the fridge until ready to serve.

Now to assemble to fajitas…

Warm your tortillas (I usually place mine on a plate, cover with a damp paper towel and microwave for 30-60 seconds).

There is no “right way” to assemble them really, I did mine in this order but do them however you like.

Lay the warmed tortilla flat.

Add a small scoop of fajita veggies.

Add a small scoop of corn salsa.

A dollop of guacamole.

Top with some salsa.

Eat!

A tangy from the orange juice, with a little flavor kick from the tequila. I loved the contrast from the fresh and crisp corn salsa.  I must confess,  I did make Michael steak strips for this. I used the same marinade for the vegetables. He loved it. And, I did have a tequila sunrise with my dinner too.

Tortilla Soup

One of the most popular dishes at the restaurant I work at is the Tortilla Soup. Unfortunately, it is made with chicken and chicken broth, so I have never tried it. On Saturday the cooks were making a giant batch of it and it smelled so good, so I decided to make my own version. No chicken obviously and I used vegetable broth. I added more vegetables too. Pretty easy to make and very filling. I used tortilla strips from my work, but you can make your own or use crushed tortilla chips.

This recipe makes 4-6 servings of soup.

Tortilla Soup
1/2 of a red onion
1 large carrot, grated
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 green bell pepper, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
32 oz vegetable broth
2 cups water
14.5 oz can roasted and crushed tomatoes
1 tsp Mexican oregano
1 tsp taco seasoning
1/2 tsp cumin
Salt and Pepper to taste
Tortilla strips (or crushed tortilla chips)
Cilantro or any other desired toppings

Heat some oil in a large pot over medium heat.

Add the onions, bell peppers, and grated carrot. Cook until the onions are golden.

Add the garlic and cook for a few more minutes.

Add the vegetable broth and water. Stir well.

Add the can of tomatoes. Stir well.

Add the oregano, taco seasoning, and cumin. Mix in well.

Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover and let it cook for 45 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Once it has thicken slightly, add the salt and pepper to taste.

In individual bowls, put a handful of tortilla strips.

Ladle the soup on top.

You can garnish with some cilantro and salsa like I did, or anything you like. Try some avocado, hot sauce, vegan sour cream & etc.

I was so happy to have this steaming hot bowl on such cold day (I thought California was supposed to be warm!).  I ate this a warm tortilla on the side too. Light but really hit the spot.

Southwest Quiche

I have done a quiche recipe before but I wanted to try a different recipe. This is a Southwest inspired quiche, mainly because I work at a Southwest cafe and thought that sounded good. This can be a lovely brunch or can be paired with a fresh salad for dinner.

Southwest Quiche
1 vegan pie crust (I used frozen)
1 block of firm tofu
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup soy milk (add more if not blending well)
2 tps turmeric
1 tps cumin
1 tsp paprika
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 poblano pepper, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1/2 small onion, chopped
1 cup salsa of your choice ( I used the black bean and corn salsa from my work)

Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Spray a pie pan with cooking spray.

Shape the pie crust into pie pan, set aside.

In a food processor or a blender, add the tofu block and soy milk, blend until smooth. Add the turmeric, cumin, paprika, salt, and pepper. Blend until combined.

Pour the tofu mixture into a large bowl. Add all remaining ingredients Mix well.

Pour the tofu/veggie mixture into pie crust.

Bake for 45 minutes, or until the crust is brown and the filling is firm.

 Topped with tomatillo salsa and paired with a cabbage salad.

Top your Southwest treat with some salsa and enjoy!

Beanadilla? Noquesadilla? Something Like That…

My work has these quesadillas with mushrooms in them, and it sounds amazing. But, queso is not vegan so I can’t have them. Then it dawned on me today that I could make a quesadilla with beans instead, like I often do at home. I originally got the idea from a recipe I saw on VegWeb for one with white beans.

I had the luxury of making this on the flat top grill at work. And I used the homemade slow-cooked pinto beans and the already marinated mushrooms and poblano peppers. But, luckily I have already posted a recipe for how to slow cook pinto beans and it’s not that hard to marinade and sauté veggies at home.

As I was making this, the cooks all looked at me funny and asked what I was making. When I explained it was, they thought I was crazy, “Quesa-dilla, you need queso in order to make it, not frijoles!” So I said, “Fine, it’s a noquesadilla…a beanadilla.”

This makes 1 large quesadilla/beanadilla/whatever you want to call it.

Beanadilla
1/2 cup mushrooms, washed and sliced
1/2 of a poblano pepper, chopped
1/2 tbs of olive oil
Juice of a lime
Red pepper flake, to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 large tortilla (read the label carefully to make sure it doesn’t have lard)
1/2 cup of cooked pinto beans (try mine)
Salsa, guacamole, or whatever other condiment for dipping

In a skillet over medium heat, sauté the sliced mushrooms and chopped poblano pepper until soft.

Immediately add to a small bowl and add the oil, lime juice, pepper, and salt and pepper. Let it sit for at least 15 minutes. Drain off the excess liquid when ready to use.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, place the tortilla down in it.

Spread the beans evenly on one half.

Top the beans with the veggie mixture.

Fold the tortilla over to cover the filling.

Brown on the onside as desired.

Flip carefully and brown on the other side.

Slice into wedges and serve with the sauce of your choice.

My restaurant makes killer homemade salsas. I had some of the tomatillo, my favorite and our delicious homemade guacamole.

Forget cheese, mushrooms are good no matter how you serve them. And the poblano gives it just a touch of sweetness.

Soy Cheese Quesadilla

I have some very exciting news: I have a real job! I now work for Greenpeace doing frontline canvassing. I am so happy to work for an organization that shares my same morals and ethics. I love the environment and know that if people just understood what is truly going on in the world, they would want to be more accountable. I am happy with job and my semi-adult life so far. And, hopefully soon I will have my own place so I can start cooking more again.

I thought I would post a recipe for a healthy version of a college staple: quesadillas. Of course I don’t use real queso, I use Daiya Cheddar Shreds. Using soy cheese alone makes it healthier because it cuts out all the cholesterol. Daiya hands down make the best nondairy cheeses (you can read my review in my Mac and Cheese post), but I don’t care what it claims, soy cheese never melt under basic heat like dairy cheese. But, there is a secret to making it melt—steam. 
For some added nutrients (I mean come on, you can’t just eat a cheap pile of cheese and tortillas), I always add some greens into my quesadillas.  Any fresh greens will do—kale, spinach, swiss chard, lettuce & etc. I used some left over mixed salad that from dinner a few nights ago so I had a bit of each. I also whole wheat tortillas. They have more fiber, which is always good. 
This makes one quesadillas, but just multiply to make as any as you like.
Soy Cheese Quesadillas 
2 small whole wheat tortillas
Handful of Greens (spinach, kale, chard, lettuce…)
Red pepper flakes, to taste
2-3 tablespoons of water, just enough to barely cover the bottom of the skillet 
Spray a large skillet with some cooking spray and heat over medium-high heat.

Place one tortilla down into the pan.

Pile the cheese on top of the tortilla. 
Pile the greens on top of the cheese.
Sprinkle on some red pepper flakes.
Top with the other tortilla. 
Pour in the water. I suggest pouring it rounding the tortillas, not directly on, so they do not get too soggy. Add it slowly and stop once it barely cover the whole bottom.
Next cover the skillet, I used a large plate but a lid works fine too. 
Let it steam until the water is all evaporated. You can peak under the cover if you need to, but I just listen until I hear the tortilla start to sizzle.
Remove the cover, and adjust the heat as needed. Let it brown lightly. 
Flip gently and let the other side brown.
Remove from the pan and cut into desired pieces. 
I topped mine with some salsa and hot sauce. It’s easy and pack with protein, vitamins, and fiber. 

Five Layer Dip



*This is repost, since for some unknown reason, the first one got deleted.


I hope you all had a fun Fourth of July!

Once again, so for not posting very often. As I mentioned in my last post, I am moving to California. I am still staying with Michael’s parents and looking for a job (got some good leads so far!). Hopefully soon I will have a job and my own place so I get back to posting more. 

Yesterday Michael’s parents had a little BBQ so I thought I would make something nice for everyone too: five layer dip. I made this for a party before and it was gone within minutes. What’s not to love about layers of spicy beans, creamy guacamole, tangy Tofutti sour cream, fresh salsa and gooey cheese sauce? 


Some of the layers are from recipes I have posted before, so I will spare you the repeat and just post the links. 

Five Layer Dip:

First layer: Spicy Beans
16 can of pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 of a medium onion
1 large bell pepper
1 clove of garlic
Red pepper flakes, to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 jalapeño pepper, minced


Drain and rinse the beans. Set aside. 


Chop the onion and peppers into bite-sized pieces. Mince the jalapeño. 



Spray a large skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium heat.


Saute the onions and peppers until slightly golden.






Add the beans, garlics, and red pepper flakes. 












Cook until the beans are heated through. Mash the beans into a paste as it cooks. 








Season with red pepper flakes, salt and pepper, and add the jalapeño. 


Remove from heat and set aside to cool.






Second layer: Basic Guacamole 
Third layer: Tofutti Sour Cream


Fourth layer: Fresh Salsa 
2 large tomatoes, diced
1/4 of a medium onion, diced
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 jalapeño, minced
Handful of cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste


Dice tomatoes and onions, then add to a large bowl.



Mince the garlic and jalapeños and, add to the bowl. 






Add the cilantro and mix. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 


Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. 


Fifth layer: Cheese Sauce


Assembly:
I suggest doing this in a large see-through (I know I did it in a pink one, it was the biggest one I could find) bowl or dish so you can see all the contrasting layers.


In the bottom of the large bowl, spread an even layer of the Spicy Beans. 



Second, spread on the Basic Guacamole.



Next, cover with as much sour cream as you like. 


Then, put the salsa on top of the sour cream.

Lastly, pour on the cheese sauce. Garnish with some red pepper flakes and cilantro. 



This was big hit! We munched on this while the grill heated up and it was devoured quickly.