It’s Guacamole Time!

5 08 2010

I sometimes wonder if I am a pregnant woman stuck in a man’s body. I get cravings ALL the time! Right now, I’ve been craving guacamole pretty regularly. This recipe is just how I like it: simple, chunky, mashed avocado with a few other veggies, some light spices and a little heat. It’s super easy and refreshing to eat during these hot summer days!

guacamole


Ingredients:

•4 avocados
•juice of 1 lime
•1 medium jalapeno
•4 cloves of garlic
•1/2 large red onion
•1/2 pint of grape tomatoes
•large handful of fresh cilantro, finely chopped
•1/2 tsp cumin
•salt and pepper to taste


Directions:

1. Finely chop the jalapeno (remove seeds if you want a milder guacamole), garlic, red onion and tomatoes. Set aside.
2. Cut avocados in half, de-pit (whack sharp knife into the pit and twist out), scoop out the flesh and mash in a large bowl, leaving fairly chunky.
3. Squeeze the juice of 1 fresh lime over the avocado to prevent browning.
3. Add the chopped vegetables, cilantro, cumin, salt and pepper and mix with a fork until well incorporated.
4. Cover with plastic wrap or move into sealable container and chill for at least 30 minutes. This will allow the spices and heat to bleed into the dip.
5. Serve and enjoy!


guacamole tacosRecommended Serving Instructions:

Obviously, guacamole is great with tortilla chips or as a condiment for most any Mexican dish. However, when I’m craving guacamole (like I am now), I love making guacamole tacos (see below). It’s a great alternative to typical grilled veggie or fake meat tacos. Serve with some fresh brown rice and homemade refried black beans – easy, filling, balanced and delicious!


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Sweet Potato “Enchiladas”

7 07 2010

I love enchiladas, I love sweet potatoes – I LOVE sweet potato enchiladas! Below you will find the recipe for my favorite meal. The recipe is simple, takes a small investment in time and rewards big with large quantities and big flavor. I particularly love this using my favorite tomatillo sauce recipe.

sweet potato enchiladas


Ingredients:

•2 large sweet potatoes, diced small
•1 large cooking onion, diced
•1 1/2 Tbs vegetable oil
•1 Tbs ground cumin
•2 tsp garlic powder
•1/2 tsp salt
•6 cups tomatillo sauce (32 oz. pre-made salsa verde can be substituted)
•12 corn tortillas, cut into halves
•2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese (yellow or white – whatever you prefer)
•2 cups Monterey jack


Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 450º F.
2. Toss sweet potatoes, onion, vegetable oil, cumin, garlic powder and salt and place in a large casserole dish.
3. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven, stir and bake an additional 10 minutes until edges are brown.
4. Once baked, remove sweet potatoes and turn down the oven to Preheat oven to 375º F.
5. Spray a large casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray. And then spread 1/2 cup of sauce in the bottom.
6. Take 4 tortillas and layer to cover the bottom of the dish.
7. Spread 1 1/2 cups of sauce over the tortillas.
8. Spread half of the sweet potato mixture over the tortillas.
9. Sprinkle 3/4 cup of each cheese over the sweet potatoes.
10. Take 4 tortillas and layer to cover the sweet potatoes.
11. Repeat steps 7 through 10.
12. Spread another 1 1/2 cups of sauce over the tortillas and sprinkle the remainder of the cheese over the top.
13. Loosely cover the dish with foil and place in the oven (set to 375º F). Bake for 20 minutes until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbling.
14. Optional: Remove foil and turn oven up to 500º F. Bake on top rack until starts to brown.


Recommended Serving Instructions:

This dish is great by itself. However, my ideal dinner is this served with short grain brown rice, refried black beans, a small side salad (of baby spinach, grape tomatoes and red onion), and a little fresh salsa and sour cream. Yum!


Tips:

•So, as I’m sure you could tell, this is not exactly a recipe for enchiladas. I like to make this more lasagna style because a) it’s easier, b) it gets you more filling without having to use TONS of tortillas (but without seeming like there is not enough tortilla), and c) I always mess up enchiladas when I serve them, so this just makes it messy to begin with, allowing you to say “it looks like that on purpose!.”
•If you do want to make this into actual enchiladas (as I occasionally will), just make individual enchiladas by dipping tortillas into the sauce (you’ll need probably closer to two dozen tortillas), and fill with 1/4 cup of filling and a large sprinkle of each kind of cheese. Wrap and place seam side down in a casserole dish. Cover with extra sauce and sprinkle with cheese and bake as instructed above.
•You can really use any quality tortilla for this dish because it will soak up the sauce and melt into the dish. However, if you make enchiladas, I recommend trying <a href="https://beetnikrecipes.com/2010/06/23/favorite-things-1-tortillas/"these hybrid tortillas – it will make wrapping easier. If you use a less flexible corn tortilla, simply wrap in foil and bake for 10 minutes at a low temperature and that should help.






Favorite Things #1: Tortillas

23 06 2010

This is the beginning of a series of posts you will see from time to time. As a vegetarian, there are some things that make life easier and/or more enjoyable, and “Favorite Things” is an attempt to share such things.


I love me some tortillas! I love large, slightly doughy flour tortillas for burritos, and small, gritty corn tortillas for enchiladas and tacos. Good tortillas are hard to find in DC– particularly if you are trying to avoid partially hydrogenated oils (like we do in my household). The options are scarce, and they’re generally paper thin, they fall apart and are too dry.

Whole Foods has some okay ones – although they tend to stick together too much and rip when I pull them out. But they at least taste decent. The local co-op has local, organic ones, but they fall apart like bad moo shoo pancakes (and taste similarly like paper). I once attempted to make flour tortillas, and while they didn’t quite taste right, they functioned beautifully.

If you haven’t been able to tell, coming across quality, tasty tortillas has become somewhat of a minor (read: major) obsession of mine. And I’m proud to report that I now have a couple favorites to share!


LA TORTILLA FACTORY
Hand Made Style Corn Tortillas

This relatively new line of tortillas presents the most unique, and probably tastiest, corn tortillas I’ve ever had! They’re not traditional corn tortillas at all, because they’re a blend of white corn and wheat. They have a slightly milder corn taste and they are moister and more flexible. They make great enchiladas, quesadillas (as they crisp nicely on the outside when pan-frying), and could be baked slowly at a low temperature for delicious, home-baked tortilla chips.

LTF white corn tortillas

Around the DC area, they can be found at some Safeways. Apparently they can also be found at some Giants, Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.


REYNA FOODS MEXICAN GROCER (Pittsburgh, PA)
Handmade Tortillas

During my first trip to Pittsburgh (only a matter of months ago) I was taken to the Strip District. It’s a cute area along one of the rivers offering a great selection of specialty markets. After some breakfast and walking around, we were about to head back to the car and I spotted Reyna Foods. Because of my long-time search for good tortillas I thought, ‘let’s take a look – who knows, they might have a good selection of tortillas.’ To my dismay, their selection was not huge. However, they were full in stock of 3-4 types of homemade tortillas that I could see them making on a large contraption in the back. They looked amazing! I picked up a pack, gave it a gentle squeeze and sniffed through the plastic as I read the sign explaining that these were homemade with no preservatives and that they’d only last about 10 days.

I grabbed a pack of the garlic tortillas to take home and test. On the ride back to DC from Pittsburgh I kept thinking about them, occasionally getting a whiff of the garlicky aroma. After about an hour of torture, even though I was still stuffed from breakfast, I broke down and tore open the pack. With one bite, I immediately transcended to tortilla heaven! So delicious, they were a joy to bite into. I went back 2 weeks later for work and stopped by to try the corn, flour, and chipotle varietals. They were all just as satisfying. I have to head to Pittsburgh every few months for work and will most certainly ALWAYS make time to stock up on tortillas from Reyna’s.

Just a note, they did have a refrigerator containing tortillas made with preservatives that would last longer, but with me around, expiration dates on good tortillas are irrelevant – so why get the unnecessary preservatives?

Check out Reyna Foods on yelp.com by visiting the link below. As you’ll see in the reviews, I’m not the only person raving about their homemade tortillas!
http://www.yelp.com/biz/reyna-foods-pittsburgh?q=tortilla






Tomatillo Sauce

23 05 2010

This sauce is easy to make, low in fat and full of green veggies. In addition to being good for you, it adds a bright color and bold flavor to otherwise bland dishes and ingredients (i.e. tofu and tempeh). My favorite use of this sauce is as a light, fresh alternative to traditional mole sauce.


Ingredients:

•2 lbs fresh tomatillos, peeled and quartered
•2 large poblano peppers, seeded and quartered
•2 tsp ground black pepper
•2 tsp ground cumin
•2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
•1 large yellow onion, chopped
•6 cloves garlic, minced
•2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
•2 cups vegetable broth
•2 medium jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped
•1 tsp salt
•the juice from 1 lime


Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 500ºF (use broiler if available).
2. Prepare tomatillos: remove skins, rinse in warm water to reduce stickiness, pat dry and quarter.
3. Toss tomatillos and poblanos with 1 Tbs olive oil, pepper and cumin. Place in lightly greased large casserole dish. Bake on top rack of oven until charred, roughly 10 minutes.
4. Heat remaining olive oil in medium sauce pan. Add onion and garlic and cook until tender and slightly translucent.
5. After letting the tomatillo and onion mixtures cool for at least 5 minutes, combine with cilantro, vegetable broth, jalapenos, salt and lime juice in blender. Blend on high for 30 seconds until mixture is smooth.


Recommended Serving Instructions:

Enjoy with your favorite tortilla chips. Simmer vegetables, tofu or tempeh in this sauce until heated throughout (at least 5 minutes) and enjoy with rice and beans. Make delicious enchiladas (stay tuned for a recipe!).


Tips:

•Adjust the level of hotness by adding or subtracting jalapeno peppers.
•Adjust other spices to fit your taste preferences (I personally love extra cumin and sometimes add a Tbs of garlic powder).
•Blend less for a chunkier sauce – particularly great if using as a condiment.
•Short on time? Replace 2 lbs of fresh tomatillos with 2 28-oz cans of tomatillos. Drain and rinse before cooking. Follow the directions as you would with fresh tomatillos, noting that the roasting time may be shorter.






Tamale Pie

20 05 2010

This is a casserole-style, tamale-inspired dish, fusing fresh vegetables with earthy spices and a mild polenta crust. This recipe is based on one I came across in Vegetarian Times (view it here), but I have tweaked it some (namely the filling and proportions) to make it more veg-centric and gritty.

tamale pie


Ingredients:

Filling
•1 Tbs vegetable oil
•5 cloves garlic, minced
•1 large yellow onion, diced
•1 medium zucchini, diced
•1 1/2 peppers (a combination of red, yellow and/or green), diced
•1 Tbs chili powder
•1 Tbs ground cumin
•1 tsp oregano
•1 15-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
•1 15-oz can tomato puree
•3/4 cup frozen corn kernel
•1/4 cup chilled water
•2 tsp flour

Topping
•2 cups water
•1 cup dry polenta or corn grits
•1/2 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese


Directions:

1. Heat oil in large sauce pan over medium heat. Sautee garlic and onion for 5 minutes.
2. Add zucchini, bell pepper, chili powder, cumin and oregano. Stir and cook an additional 5 minutes.
3. Stir in beans, tomato puree and corn. Cook for 1 minute.
4. Mix cold water and flour and add to vegetable mixture. Cook 3 minutes; sauce will thicken slightly.
5. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
6. Preheat oven to 375ºF.
7. Bring 2 cups of water to boil. Stir in polenta and simmer on medium-high heat for 5 minutes.
8. Remove from heat and stir in cheddar cheese.
9. Coat 9×13″ casserole dish with cooking spray.
10. Spread vegetable filling into dish. Spread polenta topping evenly on top, making sure it touches the edges.
11. Bake 30 minutes. The filling should bubble slightly and the top will become golden brown.
12. Let stand 5 minutes or more and serve.


Recommended Serving Instructions:
Serve with fresh salad greens, avocado and sour cream.