Tag Archives: Mexican

Tamales

I believe Amelia (Common Ground deli manager extraordinaire) when she says tamales aren’t that much work… if you make them with a friend (or co-worker, in her case).

I’ve made the latest batch on my own, and if took much less time than it did a few years ago when I made them for the first time. After rolling about 30-40 of them, I can see how boredom would set in. I had enough stamina to last through about one package of husks.

Here is a video that’s as close to my favorite rolling technique as I’ve seen. I prefer to leave more space (1/2 inch?) from the open “top” of the tamale since the dough expands when cooked. I like this method because there’s no tying involved. If you fill your steamer with tamales standing on the closed end, they will stay closed.

The dough recipe I used comes from Veganomicon. I used canola oil instead of corn oil, which turned out alright. The ingredients are simple and quick to mix.

My filling was a simple mixture of coarsely-mashed pinto beans, baked and diced sweet potatoes, tomato paste, cumin, and ground chipotle peppers. Next time, I’ll make smaller batches of a variety of fillings. I’ll also use double the amount of chipotle (2 dried peppers, freshly ground, with most of the seeds) since the relatively bland dough mutes the filling’s flavors. If you try your filling by itself and it seems spicy enough, it won’t be once it’s inside the tamales. Add more spice.

The “sauce” for these tamales was Green Pumpkin Seed Mole from Veganomicon. I used fresh roasted tomatillos instead of canned – about 5 tomatillos, but I think it could have used 7 or 8. I like tomatillos a lot, and they’re so easy to use. I’ll be making green sauces more often!

To roast the tomatillos, remove the paper skins, rinse, cut in half horizontally, and broil on a lightly-oiled sheet pan until some black spots appear.

This mole also makes a good spread for sandwiches or dip for fresh vegetables. Like any other Veganomicon recipe, it makes a ton – so enjoy the leftovers.

Tamales freeze very well and work great for packed lunches. Toss them into a bag or container, and either re-steam or microwave in their husks to reheat.

Smoky Mexican Chickpeas and Cranberry Chimichurri Grilled Tofu

smoky mexican chickpeas and cranberry chimichurri tofu

Vegan MoFo 2011 - Vegan Month of FoodSometimes I’m in the mood for channa masala, but I’m out of canned (and fresh) plain tomatoes. So I grab whatever tomatoes I have – in this case, Muir Glen Organic Fire-Roasted Diced Tomatoes with Adobo flavor. They said “NEW” on the label, yet were on clearance at the grocery store. Go figure, but I stocked up. I’m glad I did, because I think they have been discontinued. Boo! If you can’t find them, you could probably use their regular fire-roasted tomatoes, and add two or three tablespoons of adobo sauce.

For the tofu marinade, I had some cilantro and jalapeños that needed to be used. The immersion blender was already out from blending the tomatoes (nobody around here likes tomato chunks except me). So I decided to throw some fresh cranberries in the blending cup with the cilantro and jalapeño and make a tart and spicy chimichurri sauce to marinate the tofu. I left the seeds and ribs in the jalapeño, and the resulting sauce was quite spicy. You can de-seed your pepper if you want less heat.

I love how this marinade worked. Some parts of the tofu immediately took on a pink color from the cranberries, and other parts were dyed green with cilantro. Pretty tofu!

 

Smoky Mexican Chickpeas

Serves 4.

Ingredients:
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tsp Mexican oregano
1 tsp cumin
3 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
2 tsp smoked paprika
2 14.5 oz cans Muir Glen Organic Fire-Roasted Diced Tomatoes with Adobo flavor
1 15 oz can chickpeas, or your own fresh-cooked chickpeas
1 cup water
salt and pepper (to taste)

Directions:
In a heavy pan, heat olive oil and saute onions until translucent. Add oregano, cumin, and garlic. Saute until fragrant.

Add paprika, tomatoes, chickpeas, and water. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and simmer for 45 minutes or longer, until chickpeas are tender. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve over hot basmati rice.

 

cranberry chimichurri tofu

Cranberry Chimichurri Grilled Tofu

Serves 4.

Ingredients:
1 pound extra firm tofu, pressed and sliced into squares or triangles
3/4 cup cilantro, leaves and stems, packed tightly
1/2 jalapeño pepper, chopped (de-seeded if you want it less spicy)
1/2 cup fresh cranberries
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup water
1/4 tsp salt
fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Directions:
Combine all ingredients except tofu in a blender, food processor, or cup for an immersion blender. Blend thoroughly until smooth.

Pour sauce over tofu and marinate for at least a half hour.

Grill tofu on a oiled indoor grill or outdoor grill until browned on each side.

 

Sushi and pizza: the birthday weekend begins.

Round one of birthday weekend food started with Thursday night sushi.

sweet potato sushiSweet potato, grilled tofu, green onion, avocado, cucumber, sesame seeds. Served with sweet-hot pepper jelly. I love hot pepper jelly.

grilled tofu sushiGrilled tofu, sriracha, cucumber, daikon, avocado, sesame seeds, cilantro leaves.

On Friday night we made homemade pizza with a lot of improvisation. First, I ran out of semolina flour for my usual crust recipe, so I substituted garbanzo bean flour. It worked! Then I ran out of Daiya mozzarella, so I decided to make a Mexican pizza and use the cheddar I had.

Mexican pizzaIt’s topped with smoky oaxaca salsa, seitan chorizo, onions, portabella mushrooms, avocado, cilantro, and Daiya cheddar. It was delicious.


 

C-U Vegan Meetup, August Edition: Brunch

August’s Meetup for the C-U Vegan Meetup Group featured the most underrated meal of the day: brunch. Our small group gathered at Jason’s house to admire his staghorn fern (vegan taxidermy!), discuss how it gets watered, contemplate restroom fixtures and the people who love them, and enjoy some delicious vegan brunch dishes.

vegan chorizo scramble

Amber scrambled up a delicious combination of Soyrizo, tofu “eggs”, potatoes, peppers, and onions. I could eat this every day.

raspberries and cucumbers

Dana found a great sale on red raspberries and shared the bounty, along with some cucumbers from her CSA.

masala spiced donut bites

Dana also made Masala Spiced Donut Bites from Meet the Shannons. She did not disclose the calories per bite, which she actually dared to calculate. They’re baked, but rolled in melted Earth Balance and spiced sugar, resulting in deliciousness.

Amelia's coffee cake

Amelia baked a delicious coffee cake, filled with cinnamon streusel and walnuts. It contains yogurt, and was extra rich and tasty.

vegan diner herbed sausage patties

Amelia and Chase also brought delicious Herbed Breakfast Sausage Patties The recipe is from Vegan Diner, and the author, Julie Hasson, is a genius with seitan. I need to make these at home NOW since I found vegan English muffins last week. Veg McMuffin, anyone?

I missed getting photos for my own Biscuits and Sausage Gravy, but Dana managed to get great photos of some other yummy dishes, including baked french toast, tofu scramble, carrot and raisin muffins, tofu frittata, homemade tomato bagels topped with Parma!, roasted potatoes, and vegan egg rolls.

And on top of all this goodness, this weekend I found the scribbled-on-a-post-it recipe I made for Seitan Gyros! So now I just need to find some sumac and give it a little tweak, then unleash it upon the world. I’m contemplating shaping it into a big cone and steaming it that way for a little more authenticity.

 

Random Eating: Aug. 28 – Sep. 3

seitan fajitas

Seitan Fajitas: Simple Seitan from Veganomicon (similar recipe on Post Punk Kitchen), sauteed with taco seasonings (chili powder, paprika, cumin, onion, garlic), water, and vinegar. I was going for a chorizo-type flavor. It was very tasty, but I’m not sure about the texture of simmered seitan. I like it more chewy, like what you get from the Julie Hasson steaming method.

peaches and greens smoothie

It was still hot this week (it’s September already!) so I had a few smoothies. This is a Peaches and Greens Smoothie: coconut milk, agave nectar, kale, frozen bananas, frozen peaches.

ukranian borscht and waldorf salad

Lunch at work: red peppers and basic homemade hummus, grapes, waldorf salad (granny smith apples, black raisins, walnuts, cinnamon, low-fat Vegenaise), with Ukranian Borscht from Common Ground Co-Op.

portabella steak dinner

Portabella steak dinner: steak sauce-marinated mushrooms, yellow basmati rice, sauteed zucchini.

zaatar

This week I finally tried Za’atar. I am SO addicted! I’ve seen this many times at World Harvest foods, always sold in what seemed like very large bags, and wondered… who would need that much of a spice? Now I know.

Za’atar is a mixture of thyme, oregano, sumac, sesame seeds, salt, and other spices that you can mix with olive oil and use as a spread, dip, or condiment. I like it mixed with olive oil on bread. I sprinkled it on some spring mix salad. It’s also good with hummus.  I should make some chapatis for dipping.

channa masala with zaatar

Here is more za’atar, with basmati rice and channa masala.

mobile crockpot unit

Despite the 90 degree heat this week, I made a big hot crock pot of vegan chili to share with colleagues. Everyone liked it. I’ve made chili twice in the last two weeks, and I’m a little tired of it, so I think I’ll freeze the leftovers for later.

This Week’s Random Food

Here’s another installment of random things I have eaten this week.

vegan curry udon with tofu and vegetablesBest photo first! This is Curry Udon Noodles with Tofu and Vegetables, from Cravings Restaurant in Champaign. “Meat-Free” Mike from Food For Thought suggested this, and it was excellent. I love the shape of the carrots. Thanks, Mike!

vegan macaroni and cheese with beer cheese sauceNext on the carb parade: Macaroni with Beer Cheese Sauce. We made fondue last weekend, and I tossed the leftover vegan beer cheese sauce with some hot pasta and seasoned it with black pepper. The beer cheese sauce is based on Classic Fondue from The Uncheese Cookbook. It was delicious as a fondue, but subbing all beer for the wine in the original recipe meant the beer flavor was a bit too strong. Next time I’ll go with half veg broth and half beer. Very creamy, cheesy, and easy to make in a blender.

vegan tofu, lettuce, and tomato sandwich with olive saladHere’s a version of one of my favorite vegetarian sandwiches, the Tofulatta from Strawberry Fields in Urbana. The original sandwich contains grilled tofu, lettuce, tomato, provolone, and olive salad. No provolone here, but plenty of yummy olive salad. It’s the Tofuletta!

I am thrilled to have successfully grilled tofu. And now I can’t stop eating it. I used an indoor panini maker, and it was fast and easy.

tofu on the grill

The Best Tofu In The World is from the deli case at Common Ground Food Co-Op, sold in bulk. Thank you to Sarah, my vegetarian friend and colleague, for the suggestion. It’s the perfect firmness, and requires very little pressing. I slice it about 1/2 inch thick, press it briefly between towels, spread it out on a plate, and brush it with a soy/garlic marinade, then grill for about 3 minutes. The texture is great for sandwiches: chewy and a little crisp on the edges. I’m working on a post featuring several marinades. I prefer these a lot over vegan deli slices.

vegan smoky white beans and kaleThese smoky white beans and kale were awesome, and so easy to prepare. I started with roughly-torn kale, sauteed in some olive oil, with garlic and black pepper. When the kale was slightly wilted, I added about 2 cups of leftover canellini beans I had slow-cooked earlier this week, and 1/2 cup of vegetable broth with a few drops of liquid smoke mixed in. I also added vegan bacon bits. In about 10-15 minutes, the kale was tender but not completely mushy – just right.

vegan zucchini pasta with white bean basil sauceThis is a weird late-summer combination resulting from excessive heat and too many produce odds and ends.

The corn is topped with mayonnaise and lime juice, like elotes served from a local Mexican food truck. I’m really not a fan of mayonnaise on corn, but at least I tried it. The tomatoes have bacon bits on them, because I really wanted something with tomato and bacon flavors. The zucchini is sliced into ribbons with a vegetable peeler. This is the first time I have tried that, and I found that I liked slicing off the outer part of the zucchini only, just down to the seeds. I sliced the leftover seedy “core” I was left with and saved it for smoothies later. Let no vegetable go to waste, right?

The sauce on the zucchini isn’t very visible, but it’s a leftover white bean and basil dip that I made over the weekend. I will definitely post this recipe later, because it’s AWESOME. I was surprised how well it transformed into a creamy sauce over the warm zucchini. I think serving it over wheat pasta would be too bland, but the zucchini “pasta” really works.

vegan Doodles cup: ramen, tofu, bok choy, marinated carrotsThis cup of noodles is from Doodles in Champaign. It’s a little restaurant on campus serving customized bowls of ramen noodles. You can choose your broth flavor (a few flavors are vegan, most surprisingly the “beef” flavor; must be a hydrolyzed soy-based flavoring) and top it with whatever you want. There are a number of meats, of course, and plenty of vegetable options, including vegetable gyoza (not sure if they’re vegan, though).

Cilantro Cumin Slaw

Cilantro Cumin Slaw

Two of my favorite flavors – cilantro and cumin – combined with Reduced Fat Vegenaise. A creamy and relatively healthy side dish. Now with nutrition information! It’s easy to calculate your own nutrition information for recipes at SparkRecipes.com.

Cilantro Cumin Slaw

Makes 3 servings.

Ingredients:
2 cups purple cabbage, shredded
1/2 yellow or orange bell pepper, chopped
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 cup Reduced Fat Vegenaise
1 tsp lime juice
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp agave nectar
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp fresh ground pepper
salt to taste

Directions:
Combine cabbage, bell pepper, and cilantro in a large bowl.

In a smaller bowl, combine Vegenaise, lime juice, cumin, vinegar, agave nectar, onion powder, pepper, and salt. Pour over salad ingredients and toss well to coat.

Let stand for at least an hour before serving, or overnight, to allow the flavors to blend.

Nutrition Information (per serving)

  • Calories: 74.3
  • Total Fat: 5.3 g
  • Cholesterol: 0.0 mg
  • Sodium: 130.9 mg
  • Total Carbs: 7.9 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 1.4 g
  • Protein: 1.2 g

Quick Polenta with Black Beans and Mole

polenta with black beans and mole

Today’s lunch is brought to you by the secret word: drool.

Here we have a few slices of prepared polenta and black beans, topped with Doña Maria Mole. This prepared mole comes as a sauce that you can use right out of a little square Tetra-Pak, about the size of a juice box. It’s convenient for our family, because I can serve the omni-people their chicken with mole, and save some sauce for topping my veg protein of choice. (I should try it with tempeh.) It all comes together in under 5 minutes, minus cooking the Mexican Rice on the side (which takes about 25 minutes).

I packed up two lunch portions in these Pyrex “frozen dinner”-sized containers. They’re about the same size as one of those overpriced meals you buy out of the freezer. I’ve eaten my share of Healthy Choice, and they never compared to my own leftovers. I’m trying to phase out plastic containers and use more glass for reheating. These containers come with plastic lids which do an adequate job of sealing, except for really juicy foods. When I’m concerned about leakage, I seal the container with plastic wrap under the lid.

Pyrex lunch containers

And… check out my new To-Go Ware utensil set! It’s made from bamboo, and includes chopsticks and a fabric carrying case (not pictured). It fits in my small purse, so it can go to restaurants, or wherever I eat my packed lunches. The sets retail for $12.95 each at the manufacturer’s web site, but Common Ground Food Co-Op has them for only $9.99.

 

A Batch of Breakfast Burritos, and Mexican Rice

breakfast burritos

I made ten breakfast burritos last weekend, which I froze or refrigerated for future grab-and-go breakfasts. Each burrito contains:

  • a flour tortilla
  • a smear of vegetarian refried beans
  • Mexican Rice (see recipe below)
  • basic scrambled tofu
  • breakfast potatoes
  • a little hot sauce (Cholula is good)
a batch of breakfast burritos in a bag
Why not use the tortilla bag to hold them together in the freezer?

The process took about an hour. All components except the refried beans were prepared from scratch. A lot of the time was not hands-on, such as when the rice was simmering. I could have used two separate skillets for potatoes and scrambled tofu and cooked them simultaneously, but I wanted to keep dirty pans to a minimum. I cooked the breakfast potatoes in the skillet, followed by the scrambled tofu.

The breakfast potatoes are simply diced potatoes sauteed in olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper.

These burritos are very filling. I prefer to let them thaw a little in the refrigerator overnight (or longer) before microwaving. I heat them on medium power to avoid hot ends and a cold middle.

I tossed one in my bag this morning and it was an excellent post-run breakfast.

Mexican Rice

This recipe makes more than double what you need for ten breakfast burritos, but reheats well. Use any type of rice you prefer, including long-grain or basmati. I used a medium-grain rice because that’s what I had on hand.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups medium-grain rice
  • 1 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 8-oz can tomato sauce (not spaghetti sauce)
  • 2 tsp vegetable stock concentrate (Better Than Bouillon is what I use, or substitute 2 cups of broth)
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper

Directions:
In a deep saucepan, heat canola oil over medium heat. Add rice and stir to coat. Toast rice for a few minutes while preparing liquid mixture, stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile, in a 4-cup measuring container, combine tomato sauce, spices, and vegetable stock concentrate or broth. Add enough water to make a total of 4 cups of liquid.

Stir liquid into rice. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer 20 minutes. (Be sure to follow cooking time guidelines for the rice you’re using.)

Uncover rice and remove from heat. Stir to separate grains and let stand for about 10 minutes before serving.

Tip: When reheating rice, it helps to sprinkle a little water on it before microwaving, in a covered dish. It keeps the rice moist.

Seitan Chorizo

I can barely live without having these in my refrigerator at all times. They are seriously tasty. The texture and flavor is just right. I think they might even fool a meat-eating chorizo lover if you tucked them into a breakfast burrito with some black beans and rice.

I’ve varied the recipe from mild to extra spicy. I like to use smoked paprika, and add a little extra. One thing is always the same: I have to put it away promptly or I’ll end up eating it all, right out of the pan. It sounds like I’m not the only person with this problem. I recommend doubling your batch.

Seitan Chorizo Crumbles
http://havecakewilltravel.com/2008/12/22/seitan-chorizo-crumbles/

Thank you, Celine Steen at “have cake, will travel“. You rock.