Sweet and Spicy Enchilada Casserole

I don’t really have a story or witty anecdote to introduce this recipe. It was a long week. I hope you’re not disappointed.

 

Ingredients: black beans, enchilada sauce, firm tofu, tortillas, zucchini, sweet potato, and mushrooms

Ingredients: black beans, enchilada sauce, firm tofu, tortillas, zucchini, sweet potato, and mushrooms

Ingredients (serves 3-4):

  • 6 small tortillas (I used Trader Joe’s vegan corn and wheat tortillas)
  • 1/2 cup of black beans
  • 2 oz tofu
  • 1 small zucchini
  • 1/2 sweet potato
  • 8-10 mushrooms
  • 1 bottle of enchilada sauce (or be really amazing and make your own!)
  • Seasonings (I used sea salt, cumin, cayenne pepper)

Directions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Stack your tortillas on a plate, pouring a small amount of sauce in between each one.  Set them aside.IMG_1932
  3. Chop your tofu into small cubes and add to a bowl with your black beans.
  4. Chop the rest of your vegetables and sauté until they begin to soften.  Add in the tofu and black beans, then seasonings.IMG_1934
  5. Beginning with a layer of tortilla, build your casserole layer by layer! Because I used a 9×9 inch glass pan and my tortillas were much smaller, I cut them in halves and then cut half of those into quarters.  Once completed, pour any remaining sauce on top.IMG_1936
  6. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 15 minutes.  Uncover and bake for an additional 5.
  7. Cut, serve, and shovel into open mouth.

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The Most Controversial Macaroni and Cheese

The one recipe I’ve been wanting to try and make vegan for a while is my vegetable filled macaroni and cheese.  However, I’ve been afraid to do it, because I wasn’t very confident in how it would come out.  It’s difficult to cook something and have it fail, you know?  My entire plan was to make it exactly how I would have made it before, but with vegan ingredients, since that seemed like it’d be my best bet.  What if the almond milk did something weird?  What if the cheese didn’t melt, or clumped up, in the attempt to make a sauce?  But, I finally decided to give it a go.  The worst thing that could happen would be me throwing it away and eating something out of the freezer, so I didn’t feel like I had much to lose (than some wasted ingredients, that is).

I decided to see if anyone wanted to come over and be a test subject (I fully support human testing) for this mac and cheese experiment, so I posted about it on everyone’s favorite social media network.  What I didn’t realize was the controversy I had created by calling my potential food creation “mac and cheese,” since it would neither contain traditional macaroni nor cheese.  A pretty unnecessarily brutal argument broke out regarding the animal-alternative industry’s nomenclature involving alternative products like cheese, and how vegans are essentially all hypocrites because if we don’t want to eat something because it’s animal based, we should just stop trying to create vegan versions of it, and we don’t accept where our food comes from.  I was pretty taken aback at all of this; how did my simple invitation to my friends turn into an attack on my lifestyle that has absolutely no negative effect on anyone else?  I was accused of being a judgmental, pushy, hipster vegan for defending my lifestyle choice on the basis of my morality.  It was great.

I guess what I ultimately don’t understand is why this, out of all of my other lifestyle choices, is the one that gets attacked most regularly.  I didn’t realize that, by becoming a vegan, I was offending so many people.  I don’t run around chanting, “I am a vegan, and all of you non-vegans are terrible people!!!!” so I don’t really understand why I am constantly under attack.  Hey, guess what, I also don’t drink, smoke, or do drugs!  No one seems to want to attack me for that, though.  I share my recipes because I like food, and I think that it’s great when people make the decision to go vegan; I never do it to convert all of my friends/the universe to my lifestyle.

Anyway, let’s get to this recipe, yeah?

Ingredients: nutritional yeast, flour, almond milk, pasta, vegan cheese alternative, vegan buttery stick, mushrooms, jalapeño, zucchini, asparagus, and tomatoes.

Ingredients: nutritional yeast, flour, almond milk, pasta, vegan cheese alternative, vegan buttery stick, mushrooms, jalapeño, zucchini, asparagus, and tomatoes.

Ingredients (this is for 2 servings!)

  • 2 servings of your choice of pasta (I did whole wheat elbows, although I very nearly purchased shells)
  • 1 tablespoon vegan butter
  • 1 tablespoon of flour
  • 1 cup of milk alternative (I used unsweetened, plain almond milk)
  • 3oz of cheese alternative (since I had two kinds of “cheese,” I used 1.5 oz of each)
  • 1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast
  • Seasonings (salt, paprika, pepper)

**Note that all of the following ingredients are completely optional.  If you don’t want vegetables infesting your food, leave all of these out.  You can absolutely make the recipe with just the ingredients listed above.  This is just what I like to add!

  • 1/2 jalapeño
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 1 small zucchini
  • 5-6 asparagus stalks
  • 1.5 oz mushrooms (I prefer crimini)
  • 8-10 cherry tomatoes, or 1 small roma tomato
  • Optional: a slice or bread or some bread crumbs, for the top!

Directions:

  1. Cook your pasta choice according to package directions, minus a minute or two.
  2. Melt the vegan butter, and add the flour.  Cook these together until they bubble a bit and expand (you’re creating a roux!).  Add your milk alternative and stir over medium heat until the mixture bubbles and thickens.  Add your cheese alternatives and stir until melted goodness happens.
  3. Add your nutritional yeast and spices.
  4. Once this is done, add your pasta to the sauce.  If you are not adding vegetables, you are done!

If you are going to add the vegetables, complete the following steps while the pasta is cooking:IMG_1923

  1. Finely dice the garlic and jalapeño, and chop all of your other vegetables into bite sized pieces.  Sauté the garlic and jalapeño until they soften a bit, and then add all of your other vegetables.  Cook them until they become soft and begin to give up most of their liquid, maybe 5-7 minutes.
  2. After you have completed steps 1-4 above, add the vegetable mixture into your mac and cheese.
  3. Put it all into a dish, and get ready to eat!

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  • If you want a crunchy bread topping, preheat your oven to 425.  If you don’t have bread crumbs, toast a slice of bread and cut it into cubes.  Put your bready goodness on top, and bake in the oven for 5-7 minutes.  Pull out and shovel into your mouth.

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What year is it?

Help me out here – is it 2014, or is it the 1960s? I’m a little lost. I thought we figured out that discrimination against a group of people was a generally bad idea and that we shouldn’t do it.  It really appears that being homophobic and/or anti-transgender is the new racism, hidden behind a cloak of “religious freedom.”  The fact that we have states in our working towards passing laws that bear a striking resemblance to Jim Crow laws is unbelievably disturbing.  There is also a lot of irony around the fact that we claim this whole separation of church and state thing, yet religion is being used as the basis for these laws.  “Land of the free”?  More like “land of the free to discriminate.”

So, why is this happening?  It defies all common sense, really.  Until you remember that there are actually no laws that protect the civil rights of the LGBTQ community.  The Civil Rights Act of 1964 only prevents people from being discriminated against based on their race, color, religion, sex, or national origin – not their sexuality or gender identity.  And now, the religious right is trying to pass laws that claim the LGBTQ community actually discriminates against them because of their religious beliefs, so they should be able to refuse services to them.  Because, we all know, since being a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered person, or queer is a fucking choice, everyone identified as the previous is just doing it to piss everyone off, especially religious people.  I mean, duh.

I also find a lot of irony in the fact that Republicans are attempting to pass these bills, since they usually want less government involvement in the lives of citizens.  Well, I guess unless they feel like their rights are being violated… by something that has absolutely nothing to do with them.  Just as there is no logical argument that a white person loving a black person is bad for society, there is no logical argument that can argue that two ladies or two dudes being in love is bad for society.  Hiding behind the “it’s for the kids” argument is a total load of shit, too, since studies have shown that two loving parents, regardless of gender, are better for children than just one parent.  Letting kids be adopted by a pair of loving adults gives them a far better chance at success in life, regardless of the gender of those two adults.

The way I see it, this is just legalized hate.  Just like it was before 1964.  When you turn your clocks back Sunday, don’t forget to reset the year 50 years back, too.

Taco Tuesday: Portobello Tacos

I really love “Mexican” food.  There are not a lot of vegan Mexican food options, even in Los Angeles, unless I go to an all-vegan restaurant, and at that point I’d probably order something else.  So one of my favorite things to do is come up with ways to mix these flavors in my kitchen, and that is what I did tonight!  I had originally planned on going with one of my staples, a flatbread pizza with beans and whatnot, but when I was shopping at Trader Joe’s, I was struck with inspiration when I saw the portobello mushroom caps.

A word really quickly about food and my cooking: I buy organic whenever possible.  Sometimes, I can’t find what I need when I need it organic, so oh well.  Also, I am almost always cooking for 1, which should make it easy for you to figure out my recipes if you’d like to cook for more people.  I eat a lot of food, but it is loaded with nutrition, so I really don’t care, plus, I work out!  I also obsessively track calories, so every bit of my food is weighed on a scale, and I will include those weights for vegetables and serving sizes for other items, where applicable.  If you think my portions are too large, feel free to cut them down!  Recipes are merely guidelines for creation.

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Ingredients: portobello mushroom caps, Beyond Meat chicken strips, Follow Your Heart Vegan Gourmet cheddar shreds, Trader Joe’s refried pinto beans, a sweet potato, grape tomatoes, jalapeño, and avocado! Not pictured: zucchini (I forgot about it until I started cooking!)

Let’s get to this recipe, right?

Ingredients (serves 1):

  • 2 portobello mushroom caps (about 3 oz each)
  • 1 serving of refried beans (I normally go black, but I mixed it up with these since they’re veg)
  • 1 very small sweet potato (~100g)
  • 1 small-medium zucchini (~100g)
  • 1/2 a large jalapeño (if you’re into that), 1/2 diced and 1/2 sliced
  • Seasonings (I used sea salt, cayenne, cinnamon, and cumin, but whatever you have and like works)
  • 1/2 serving Beyond Meat chicken strips, or your choice of meatless protein, thawed
  • Several grape tomatoes (I cut up 7 and used 5)
  • 1 oz vegan cheese (I personally use Follow Your Heart’s vegan shreds because they’re a little lower in calories than Daiya, and I absolutely love their restaurant, so I like to support them!)
  • 1/4 an avocado, to put on top

Directions:

  1. Preheat your toaster oven to 400 degrees (note: I almost always use my toaster oven, because it seems silly to turn on my oven when I am cooking for just me.  If you don’t have one, your conventional oven would probably be just fine.  But invest in a toaster oven… they’re the best!)
  2. Scrape the gills out of the mushroom.  This isn’t something I do usually with mushrooms, but I knew these babies were going to be loaded to the top, so I figured I’d need the room.  Then, fill them with the refried pinto beans.  Set aside.Image
  3. Dice up the sweet potato into small cubes.  Add them to a pan over medium heat with a tiny amount of your choice of cooking oil.  Dice up the zucchini and half of the jalapeño, and after the sweet potato starts to have a little give, add them to the pan.  Sprinkle with the spice mixture, stir, and cover to allow to steam a bit while cooking.  Cut up the Beyond Meat (or your choice of protein) and add to the mixture at the end.
  4. Once the sweet potatoes are soft, remove from the heat and scoop the mixture into the mushroom caps.  Top with sliced tomatoes and vegan cheese.  Add the jalapeño slices to the top, and get ready to bake!

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5.  Bake at 400 for about 20-25 minutes.  The mushroom cap will soften and the cheese will melt when they’re ready.  Top with slices of avocado and enjoy!

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