Halloween Taco Rice Bowl

Apparently today is National Taco day. And Halloween is just around the corner. So I thought I would combine the two. But, my normal grocery store did not have vegan tortillas and I didn’t feel like driving around town to find some, so I decided to make a rice bowl instead. All the same stuff as a taco, just over rice. For the Halloween  aspect, I used orange bell peppers, black-eyed peas (wooo, scary your food has eyes!) and topped it with a slimy-looking (but actual texture far from it) green kale pesto. I made the pesto the other day so I don’t have photos, but it’s so easy they aren’t needed. This recipe makes 2, but can easily be multiplied. Black beans would be good for the Halloween theme too.

Halloween Taco Rice Bowl

Kale Pesto:
1 large bunch of kale (sorry I didn’t measure it exactly)
Handful of basil
3 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup of olive oil
1/4 cup of lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste
Red pepper flakes (optional)
The Rest of the Stuff:

1 cup cooked brown rice
1 cup black-eyed peas (I used dried and cooked them myself but canned is fine too)
1 clove of garlic, chopped
2 orange bell peppers, sliced into strips
1/2 cup onion, sliced
Salt and pepper to taste
1 medium tomato, chopped
Cilantro, chopped
Jalapeños
Or any taco toppings you wish.

To make the kale pesto, first wash the kale and basil well. You can remove the stems if you like but I left them on. Peel the garlic too.

In a blender or food processor, add the kale, basil, garlic, and pine nuts. Pulse until ground up and combined.

Add the olive oil and lemon juice. Blend until smooth.

Season with salt and pepper to taste. I also added some red pepper flakes for a little kick.

The color might be reminiscent of slime, but it’s so good. And not to mention the wonderful health benefits of kale.

For the rest of the rice bowl….

Cook the rice according to the direction. I did mine in a rice cooker. Set aside.

I soaked my beans overnight and cooked them according to the package with just a bit of salt. If using canned, rinse them well and just heat them up. Set aside.

Slice the onions and peppers into strips. Chopped the garlic.

Heat some oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook just until it softens.

Add the onions and bell peppers. Season with a bit of salt and pepper and cook until the bell peppers start to blacken a bit and onions start to caramelize.

Time to assemble. In a bowl, put a serving of rice.

Next put on some black-eyed peas.

Then the orange peppers and onions.

Now put some of that lovely green kale pesto.

Lastly, I topped mine with some cilantro and jalapeños. But sour cream, vegan cheese, olives, or any taco toppings would be wonderful too. I am trying to eat more holistic foods so I kept it simple.

The pesto is what totally makes the rice bowl. And the orange peppers are just fun.

There will be more Halloween posts to come. It’s my favorite holiday because I am named after Elizabeth Montgomery’s character Samantha on the TV show Bewithched.

Guacamole 3 ways

I’ve lived in my new place all summer now and apparently never bothered to look up when I walked out the door. My friend Shane last week mentioned there was an avocado tree right outside my door and I was surprised. He picked a whole bunch of them for me and I’ve been patiently waiting all week for them to ripen.

I decided to make 3 types of guacamole: basic, mango, and hot roasted pepper. The basic is just the traditional with some tomatoes, onions, garlic, and lime juice. The mango is the same, just add some chopped mango. The roasted pepper obviously has a roasted bell pepper, and for some kick, some Serrano hot peppers.

Basic Guacamole
1/4 cup onion
2 cloves of garlic
2 medium tomatoes 
2 large ripe avocados
Juice of 2 limes 
Pinch of salt

Chop the onion and garlic into desired sizes. I like my a little guacamole a chunky so I did mine into small chunks. Add to a large bowl.

Cut the tomatoes into about the same size the onion. Add to the bowl.

Avocados aren’t hard to cut up, but they can be messy. Alton Brown explains it better than I can, so watch from minutes 2:50 to 3:40 of this clip if you don’t know how.

 

Chop the avocado into equal size pieces to the onion and tomato and add to the bowl.

Now squirt on the juice from the limes and sprinkle on the pinch of salt.

Mix it all up, breaking up the avocado chunks a little bit as you go and now you have yummy basic guacamole!

Mango Guacamole
1/4 cup onion
1 clove garlic
1 cup mango
1 medium tomato
2 large avocados
Red pepper flakes
Juice of 1 lime
Pinch of salt

 
Peal and chop up the mango into desired chunks.

Follow all the directions above for the basic guacamole, but just add the mango and some red pepper flakes. I add the red pepper in this one because I like the contrast with the sweetness of the mango.

Hot Roasted Pepper Guacamole
1/4 cup onion
1 clove garlic
1 medium tomato
1 bell pepper, roasted
2 ripe avocados
2 Serrano peppers
Juice of 1 lime
Pinch of Salt

I decided to puree this version because I thought the flavors would mesh together better. This is my new favorite way to make guacamole now!

You can buy the jarred roasted red peppers if you like for this, but I roasted my own. Just spray a pan with cooking spray and the pepper as well. Place under the broiler until the skin is charred black.

Once it is cooled (unless you like burning yourself on hot vegetables), peal off the brunt skin and chop into chunks.

Follow the steps for the basic guacamole, but this time throw everything, including the roasted pepper but not the Serrano pepper, into a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth.

Next chop the stem tops off the Serrano peppers. Then cut in half lengthwise. If you don’t like it hot, you can tone it down by scraping out the seeds.

I like it hot so I so i added the whole thing to the blender. Blend until it is incorporated.

I topped some homemade black beans with the basic guacamole for lunch today.

Good thing I like guacamole because I’ll be eating the rest of the week now!

Mexi Pizza

Sorry I haven’t posted recently. Finals week and moving to a new place kind of sucked up all my time. But now I am finished with the semester and all settled into my apartment (that’s right, no more dorms!). I went to Walmart to buy some stuff for my place and saw 12 inch pizza pan on for $3.99! No more square pizza made in a sheet pan for me.

I must have Cinco de Mayo on my mind still because I’ve been thinking about a Mexican pizza all week. A vegan Mexican pizza is similar to any other Mexican pizza—salsa for the sauce, cheddar cheese instead of mozzarella, and anything you would put in a taco for the toppings.

Since I liked the Daiya cheese so much in my Mac and Cheese, I thought I’d give it a try on my pizza. I was once again surprised that it actually melted— well kind of melted. When you first take it out of the oven, it doesn’t look that different. But once you cut it and bite into it, it melts and gets gooey. I used some of my Pizza Dough I made and froze a few weeks ago and bought my veggies pre-cut from the salad bar at the grocery store.

Mexi Pizza
1 Pre-baked pizza crust (try mine)
1/2 cup salsa
1 cup shredded vegan cheddar cheese (try Daiya)
Handful of sweet corn, off the cob
Handful of onions, sliced
Handful of olives, sliced
Handful of bell peppers, sliced
Handful of mushrooms, sliced

Pre-heat the oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.

 

Spread the salsa evenly over the pre-baked pizza crust. I used a chunky salsa, but a smoother one is fine too.

Next sprinkle on the vegan cheese.

Top with the veggies. Try to keep them in a thin layer so they cook evenly.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the veggies are cooked and the cheese is slightly melted. It won’t get bubbly so don’t leave it in for too long, it will just burn.

The salsa gives it a little spice, while the corn and belly peppers are a little sweet. And gooey cheese is always awesome.  It went lovely with a glass of wine and a pepperoncini.

Feliz Cinco de Mayo: Tostadas and Margaritas!

 

On May 5, 1862 the Mexican Army had a surprise victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla during their occupation after the Mexican-American War. Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico’s Independence Day like most Americans think. The holiday has minor significance in Mexico, mainly celebrated in the state of Puebla. It was first celebrated in the United States by Mexican immigrants in southern California as a way to celebrate their heritage.

The holiday is mostly celebrated by Americans because it’s an excuse to party during the week. I can hear the phrase “Cinco de Drinko” echoing all over college campuses now. The victory actually had great significance for America as well. France had been giving supplies to the Confederacy at the start of the Civil War. The loss stopped France from continuing aide to the South, who already was being crippled by lack of goods and supplies.  So, might as well toast to Mexico for helping end slavery if you going to get totally wasted on Thursday.

Sadly, this college kid has very tough finals all next week and will be shutting herself up in the library studying for the week, so I will not be partaking in the festivities tomorrow. But today was the last day of class, so I thought I’d throw my self a little fiesta to celebrate surviving my first year in Hawaii.

As a West Coast girl, I grew up eating killer Mexican Food. I loved going to my Mexican friends’ houses, nothing like a homemade tortilla. And there is no shortage of awesome Mexican restaurants. Two of my favorites in the Portland area are Maztalan and Lupe’s Escape. And if you are in Eugene, you have to try Daniel’s or The Mission, spent some good May 5th’s in those places as an undergrad at University of Oregon. As for Hilo, there is only one Mexican place, Ruben’s. It’s good, but nothing special to be honest.

Mexican is my second favorite cuisine after Thai, so I had a hard time deciding what dish I wanted to make. After probably more thought than necessary, I decided on tostadas because I had not had one in awhile. This also works out well because they are gluten free and May is Celiac Disease Awareness Month. But, I knew there would be margaritas. I love tequila, and there is nothing like a sweet and tangy margarita to refresh you after a long day. I will forever think of my friend Joely every time I have one. During my senior year at U of O, she and I would often go share a pitcher (or two) at The Mission and gossip for hours. I miss you terribly girl, please come visit me soon!

This recipe should feed 4 people, 2 tostadas each.

Pinto Bean Tostadas
2 cans pinto beans, drained
4 cloves garlic
1 cup water
1 tbs chili powder
2 tsp smoked paprika
Salt to taste
1 large red bell pepper
1 large green bell pepper
1/2 medium white onion
salt and pepper to taste
1-2 Anaheim pepper
8 Corn tortillas
Salsa
Vegan sour cream

Margaritas
Sweet and Sour Mix
Gold Tequila
Salt
Fresh lime
Ice

The smoked paprika makes all the difference.

Drain and rinse the pinto beans. I picked pinto because it is very common in Mexican cooking and I like the mild flavor. Mince the garlic cloves, and add along with the pinto beans to a sauce pan. Add the water, chili powder, smoked paprika and salt. I really suggest you used smoked paprika, it can be found in most stores and really gives the beans a great flavor.

Similar to refried, but way less fat and sodium.

Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Coook until the liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Stir occasionally.

All organic, of course.

While the beans cook, cut the bell peppers and onions into thin strips. I picked red and green for the colors of the Mexican flag.

 

Love the smell of cooked bell peppers.

Spray a skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium heat. Add the veggies to the skillet and season with salt and pepper. Cook until the onions are slightly golden and the peppers start to blacken a bit.

 

All organic corn tortilla.

Remove the peppers from the skillet and cover to keep warm. Spray the skillet again with cooking spray and keep it on medium heat. Depending on the size of the skillet, put 1 to 2 tortillas in at a time and heat until they crisp up and start to blacken slightly. Watch carefully, they tend to burn quickly.

 

I leave a few seeds because I like it hot.

Lastly, chop up the Anaheim peppers. You can use any hot pepper you like. I strongly suggest doing this last so you don’t contaminate everything and make your food insanely hot. Cut the pepper down the middle. If you want less heat, clean out the membrane and seeds with a spoon. Chop into small pieces. WASH YOUR HANDS afterward, the juice will soak into your fingers and can get into your eyes.

 

Green, white, and red like the Mexican flag.

Now time to assemble. Plate one crisped tortilla and evenly spread about 1 to 2 tbs of beans on top. Next put on about 1/4 cup of veggies.

Tofutti sour cream is so good.

Then top with as much fresh salsa and sour cream as you like. Then sprinkle on some of the Anaheim peppers and squirt some lime juice for kick. A little cilantro is wonderful too.

 

Both on sale, score.

Now, for the margaritas.  I like mine on the rocks instead of blended. I am not the best bartender so I used sweet and sour mix. I don’t like triple sec  and I don’t notice a different without it, so I don’t use it.

 

The salt is red because it’s Hawaiian sea salt, tainted from algae

I used a regular drinking glass since I used my margarita glasses for my Chocolate Chili Mousse yesterday. Wet the rim of your glass with lime juice. Pour some salt on a plate and roll the rim in the salt.

 

Here’s to the end of my first year as a geology undergrad!

Add a handful of ice cubes to the glass. The best ratio is 3 parts mix to 1 part tequila. Pour the liquids over the ice and stir gently. Squirt in a little lime juice and garnish with a wedge.

Yeah for Mexico’s victory over France that prevented aide to the Confederacy! Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

I am one happy gringa.