E2: Chalupas

The name chalupa scares me, because all I think of are creepy tacos from Taco Bell, and a small dog insisting that I try them. Anyone else remember that? I’m terrified of Taco Bell because of both their mystery ingredients, and the way their food makes me feel after I eat it. UGGGGH.

But the Chalupa recipe from the Engine 2 Diet was undeniably amazing. Really. Of course I made a few changes to it (easy, easy changes). But I can’t express the joy this dinner brought to me. One bite of it was like being a kid again, at some favorite mexican restaurant with my family, eating something simple that a child would love: tortillas, refried beans and lettuce. See? Completely simple and easy.

So, to review the changes (or “upgrades” as I like to think of them) to this recipe:

  • Use two corn tortillas (I got a 12 pack from Trader Joe’s that were great) and sprinkle a tablespoon of cheddar daiya cheese in between. Then, broil following the steps in the book.
  • Salsa isn’t necessary. At all. I just topped ours with some additional green onion, lime juice and Tapatio. That’s all you need.

See? I’m pretty sure I actually made this easier than the original recipe, since you don’t have to go to all the trouble of making fresh salsa, or destroying this with jar salsa (ugh!). Also, I know this was a total success because my husband did not suggest that I put green chilies on it, and he wants green chilies on EVERYTHING.

Even More E2: 3 Bean Chili, Two Ways

I realize as I type this that I still need to make the E2 meatloaf. I just get side tracked! And this week I was put off my meal planning by the GIANT ENORMOUS POT OF CHILI that I made from this recipe. It says that it feeds 6 to 8. 6 to 8 what? Obviously not humans. Maybe professional wrestlers. Or Hulks. But this made easily 8+ servings for us, plus 2 quart-size freezer bags of leftover chili. I’m pretty sure that my grandchildren will be eating that chili someday.

As you can plainly see, this chili is not sexy (which begs the question: can chili be sexy?). But it is packed with basically every form of protein they could think of, with three different beans and a whole pound of tofu. As for taste? It has a lot of ground coriander, but no cumin, so it doesn’t exactly taste like traditional chili. It’s sweet from the addition of carrots, apple (see? What isn’t in this chili!), and molasses. It’s not something I would necessarily make again–probably because if you’ve made it once, you have enough leftovers to never need to make  a second batch!

To use up even more of this chili, I decided to make chili dogs for dinner this week as well. Because the texture of the original version is so…chunky…I ran it through the blender a bit to get it the right texture for hot dog chili. Behold!

The daiya really made the difference, giving it an authentic chili dog flavor. And I made the buns myself, using the same recipe for rolls from Thanksgiving. I’ve made that bread twice since we had it on November 24th, so you know I love it. Or I just love carbs. Whatever.

Recipe from the Engine 2 Diet.

Even More E2: Portobello Fajitas

I’ve always been nervous about portobello anything, which is weird, really. Because I love mushrooms, really and truly love them. But replacing any meat with giant mushrooms just seemed–sad. Let the mushrooms be mushrooms!

That being said: I was wrong. Let the mushrooms be fajitas! Because this recipe from the Engine 2 Diet was so amazingly good. I will say this: I think it should only be attempted in a cast iron skillet. I’ve never had fajitas turn out this good. They were practically restaurant quality, but with only sprayed-on oil and no seasonings. None. Not even salt.

I made their sour cream sauce (using cilantro and lemon juice) and it was fairly standard. I also added rice and beans on the side, just to make for a little extra protein. And, of course, I threw in some avocado. BONUS! I finally found the Ezekiel 4:9 tortillas! I love those things. I’ve been eating Ezekiel bread exclusively for sometime now, but I was having a really hard time locating any of their other products. The problem? I was looking in the wrong part of the grocery store. Uh…yeah. Smart.

E2 Week: BBQ Pizza

I will say that someone thinking they want to try the Engine 2 Diet should carefully examine if they like bell peppers. Because I’m pretty sure bell peppers figure into every single meal, in varying amounts. I’m not super fond of them myself, but on this pizza they were fantastic. I think the trick is to make those really fine slices, so the flavor isn’t so intense.

I learned two things from making this pizza: 1) mixing tomato paste with BBQ sauce makes the best pizza sauce EVER. EVER. I think I’m going to make all of my pizza sauces tomato paste based. 2) You can totally make pizza crust out of sweet potatoes. That’s right, sweet potatoes.

Sweet Potato Pizza Crust (enough for 1 large pizza):

  • 1 cup mashed sweet potato
  • 4 T applesauce
  • 1 T maple syrup
  • 1 T apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp ground flax seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup fine cornmeal
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3 T unmilk

Mix all of the wet ingredient except the unmilk in a medium-sized mixing bowl. Then, add the salt, baking powder, flour and cornmeal, and stir until barely combined. Now, douse it with the unmilk, adding more if it seems too dry.

This is the trickier part–getting it spread out into dough. I’m still not sure my technique is awesome, but here’s what I did: I put a sheet of parchment paper over my pizza pan (you can use a cookie sheet, don’t worry), plopped the dough in the middle, then placed another sheet of parchment paper over that. Then, using my hands, I spread the dough around until it was flat and reached the edges of my pan. However, this did result in some areas being not as thick as others. I think in the future I’ll strategically place the dough so that I can get a more uniform crust. Also, if you can, flip it over. The bottom parchment was very wrinkly, where the top was smooth. So–smooth out both sides.

Then, parbake the crust in a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes. It shouldn’t be all the way cooked, but should peel easily off of the parchment when finished.Here was my mistake number 2: I think I should have greased the pan, and peeled off both sheets of parchment before putting the toppings on. I left the bottom sheet of parchment paper on, and the crust came out slightly damp, and not as firm on the bottom as I would have liked. Either that, or I could have placed the crust on the bottom of the oven (in the pan, of course) like Vegan with a Vengeance recommends. So, that part is up to you.

The best part is that you end up with a very healthy crust with no added oil, but with some delicious fat from the flax seeds. And it tasted perfect with the BBQ sauce topping. I might use something like actual potato if I didn’t want a sweet crust for my pizza, or even a rutabaga. I’ll let you know about those experiments as they progress!

E2 Week: Mushroom Ginger Soba

Engine 2 food is undeniably some of the prettiest food I’ve ever made. I don’t get it–is it the technique? Because I’ve made dinners with all these ingredients before: soba noodles, baby bok choy, carrots, kale, mushrooms–but they weren’t as startlingly lovely as this.

The flavorings: a smidge of mirin, tamari, and rice vinegar weren’t quite enough to make this not bland, however. The garlic and ginger added something (and I tossed in red pepper flakes for fun), but I still needed to spice this up with Sriracha at the end. I’d love to make this again, but it needs a little flavor bump: maybe sautéing the garlic and ginger with the mushrooms would provide a flavor boost. Maybe even a dash of miso. Or just less broth, since the sauce calls for a full cup and a half.

At least now I have a lot of black sesame seeds. That should be fun! Now to remember to roast them first…

 

E2 Week: Lemon Cornmeal Pancakes with Blueberry Syrup

Of course, these pancakes are beautiful. Bright yellow, smothered in wild blueberries–there is no way to go wrong with that.

See what I mean? There’s a problem, though, and it comes from adapting a recipe too far. Oh, Engine 2 Diet, you can’t take all the sugar out of a recipe with the juice and zest of two full lemons! Since this recipe is adapted from Vegan with a Vengeance, I could check the original–eliminating the oil is one thing (since pancakes sort of don’t need it, if you grease your pan appropriately) but the sugar? THE SUGAR? It’s sort of like thinking you’re going to drink a big glass of lemonade, and what you get is a fresh glass of straight lemon juice. With salt in it.

My husband called these “bitter cakes” for a very good reason. Next time I make them–and I’m determined to make them again!–I’ll add only 1 or 2 teaspoons of zest, the same amount of lemon juice (it’s about 1/4 of a cup), and a tablespoon of raw sugar.

There were two exciting discoveries that came from this breakfast, though: 1. I LOVE soy yogurt. I think I tried it early on, when my tastes were still changing, and it seemed weird. But I ate a bit of the vanilla yogurt that went into these and it was amazing. So, yay! 2. Blueberry Syrup. I made this recipe off the top of my head, and then discovered that it was nearly identical to the one in VwaV. How do I do it?

Blueberry Syrup (makes enough for 4 servings of pancakes, used sparingly):

  • 1/2 cup frozen wild blueberries (the small kind)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 or 2 tsp vanilla (to taste)

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan over low heat. The syrup should come together in the time it takes to make all your pancakes, and be gently warm–not burning hot. So, about 15 minutes.

E2 Week: Veggie Stir Fry

You know how Stir Fry is one of those really easy things to make…except when it’s not? Like the veggies are super mushy and the sauce is too salty or overpowering or gooey or bland?

This is not that Stir Fry.

This the basic Veggie Stir Fry from the Engine 2 Diet. Lots of seitan, simple flavors, tons of veggies. PS, I also cheated. It says to add things in one at a time–but I have a GIANT bag of stir fry veggies from Costco, so I just chucked a few handfuls into the pan. Also, I used twice as much garlic. Also, I added a tablespoon of sweet garlic chili sauce. Also, I put some Sriracha on it at the end. Blam! Delicious.