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.

Black Bean Salsa Dip

I was trying to make a sort of black bean hummus with this recipe, but failed to realize that the liquid-to-bean ratio would make it distinctly wetter than hummus. No worries! It tastes great, is essentially fat-free, and is easily scoop-able on a chip.

Black Bean Salsa Dip (makes…3 cups? I forgot to measure and I ate a ton of it):

  • 1 15-oz. can of black beans (or two cups of cooked beans)
  • 2 T onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 medium-sized tomato, roughly chopped
  • 1 T cilantro
  • 1  jalapeño
  • juice of one lime
  • 1 tsp red wine vinegar

Add all ingredients to your food processor or blender and pulse until smooth. Enjoy!


Noodles & Veg

Ah, Vegetarian Times. Some months, there is nothing to cook in there at all. And the other months–a beautiful extravaganza of vegan delights. This month they are totally on their game. This is the first of a few meals I’ve made from the October 2011 issue, and they have all been terrific.

This picture is horrible, though, right? This is the best one! I took about a million pictures, and this one was the only one that wasn’t blurry. ARGH! I think my problem is that the Vegetarian Times dinners are SO much more work, I’ve barely had time to do all the dishes afterwards before crawling into bed.

Anyhow, I believe this one is called “Vegetables and Noodles with Sesame Dressing.” That isn’t the sexiest name for a recipe that I’ve ever seen, but it gets the job done. I would say my only real complaint here is the steamed tofu–why on earth would anyone want to eat just plain steamed tofu. Is there anything less flavorful in the whole world? Even when you put the sauce (which is amazing) on it, it doesn’t help much. I’d recommend marinating it in a little bit of sauce and then dry frying it for some added awesome.


Pad Thai Déjà vu?

Never have I felt so confused by a salad.

I will literally swear to you that I think I have both made this salad and posted about it here before. But now I’m starting to think that maybe I made it before I started posting, but I can remember taking a picture of it last time. Argh! I don’t have that many posts that I can be this confused. Oh well.

So, here we go. Do you like peanuts? Me, too. Eat this! Do you like bean sprouts? Yes? EAT. If you read this blog at all, you know I have a deep love for two things: 1. Sprouts, and 2. Spelt. I will eat almost anything that has sprouts in it. I think especially mung bean sprouts, because my mom used to grow them in the kitchen when I was a little kid. It was like a magic trick–dried beans go into a wet paper towel and then *poof* bean sprouts appear. I thought of them as alien cigarettes (daughter of a smoker) and used to pretend to take a drag off of one during lunch break. Oh, the innocent times of smoking a bean sprout to impress your friends.

I love the super freshness of this salad, plus the fact that you can make it insanely spicy. I love a lip-numbing salad, the hot and cold next to each other is so fascinating. Anyway, this recipe from Appetite for Reduction is a keeper. Word to the wise, add some edamame to the top for added protein.

Oh, and as a side note–what other vegan cookbooks should I invest in? I have all of Isa’s, but I’d like to branch out a little bit.

Pasta de the place I sorta used to live near

Here’s Pasta de los Angeles, in all it’s mixed-up glory. It’s a recipe I make often from AfR, though it isn’t one of my favorites. But there’s a part of my brain that goes…mmm…hot salsa pasta? Yeah. Tomatoes, cilantro, garlic, black beans–it’s all there. But when I get done making it, I usually don’t want to eat it. Odd, right?

It’s a tasty dish, easy to make, and the spinach adds a looooot, despite the fact it seems like a strange addition. I also like to put in corn, since it gives a hint of sweetness that the original recipe is missing. And I put on lots of hot sauce. Usually Dan’s Texas Dew Drops. Of which I have a massive stash in my cupboard. I LOVE YOU, DAN!


Peanut-Lime Bowl

Appetite for Reduction suggests using tempeh in this bowl, but I didn’t have any extra tempeh–so I just dry-fried some tofu. I think that it probably had a milder flavor, since it’s missing the bitterness of tempeh, but I liked that! I made an awesome marinade for the tofu out of two tablespoons (each) of liquid aminos and chili garlic sauce with about 1/2 a cup of veggie broth. Score!

Can I get an amen for the mixture of peanuts and lime? Really, why isn’t there more peanut-lime goodness out there in the world? Would peanut-lime butter even be feasible? I may need to test this out.

I also had a ton of extra sprouts–I forgot to put them on the chef salad we had yesterday. So I put sprouts on this. Genius! And it furthers my thesis that sprouts belong on everything. Almost.

Super Bowl Week!…the un-nori bowl

So, my deal is that I refuse to even try nori. I don’t trust anything from the sea, and the flavors here seemed fine as is. I discovered in the back of my Appetite for Reduction, a little section on making various bowls. Instead of spreading the bowl love all over the place, I decided to cram it into one week. And thus begins my week of Super Bowls!

This bowl has azuki beans, brown rice, broccoli and carrot-ginger dressing. That’s the big orange blobby in the background. The flavors here were so, so good. The beans and grains really needed the freshness of the dressing, and somehow that orange madness tasted like magic. Personally, I also love any meal that doesn’t really require me to cut anything. Just toss the dressing ingredients in the blender, and blam! Dinner. And I’m getting good use out of my little $4 steamer, too. How did I live for so long without one?

Plus, now that I’m a vegan, the gods apparently decided to bestow upon me the ability to cook rice from scratch. There were always two really simple things I couldn’t make: rice and hard-boiled eggs. And now that eggs are totally out of the picture, maybe that meant I could devote more brain cells to rice? Whatever, I freaking love brown rice. Is that weird?

Blackened Butternut Jerk

Yet another dinner attempt that left me scratching my head. Why do I continue to make dinners that take me hours to prepare? Oh, yeah. The delicious.

I’m still getting used to eating tofu this way–as sort of a semi-meat. I’m good with tofu in noodle bowls, stir-fry, as ricotta cheese, even as eggs. But for some reason, seeing it in a slab like this creeps me out. I think it’s because of my aversion to fish, and it looks SO MUCH like fish when blackened and cut into little rectangles. So, I may never looove tofu this way, but it’s pretty good. A little dry, but I think that might have been from my 1.25 hour mega pressing.

Can we get to the sides? Cause seriously. These sides rock. I thought all of the ingredients in the Butternut rice would be weird. There’s what in there now? Lime? Ginger? Coconut? What? But it was great–tropical, but comforting. Like Thanksgiving served pool side. And the jerk asparagus. I thought my husband was going to pass out when he put this in his mouth. Then he begged, “please, please, PLEASE make this again.” Oh, I will. In a month, sucka!

As usual, recipes are found in Appetite for Reduction.

Tofu & Noodle Salad

I just ate the rest of this for lunch, so I figure that I’ll be at my most poetic with the flavors still on my tongue. And what a happy tongue I have! This may be my favorite recipe from Appetite for Reduction that I’ve tried so far. And I only picked it because I wanted to eat something “weird” and I had rice noodles left over from something else.

OH MY GOD. I almost can’t look at this picture without trying to lick the screen. I’ve never had Vietnamese food before, and I know this is an approximation, but DEAR LORD. Incredible. First, who would ever think that mint, garlic, chili, lime, cucumbers and peanuts would ever taste this good together? Frickin’ genius. The taste actually reminded me a bit of the sunshine pickles my grandma would make when I was a little girl. I think it’s the pungent garlic, onion and cucumber background. But the mint! THE MINT. As I was chopping it all up, I kept thinking–really? Really? Almost half a cup of mint, total? That is a ton of mint. But you know what? Perfect.

Also, I’m super excited that my tofu turned out awesome. Every time I make tofu and it doesn’t stick to the pan, or taste gross, or have a weird wet texture, I could cry. Oh, tofu. We were meant to be together.

My First Curry

I made curry for the first time! This is Curry Laksa, from, you guessed it, Appetite for Reduction. I happened to buy coconut milk for my breakfast, since I’m trying to increase the amount of B12 that I get from food, not just from my supplement. Did you know that it isn’t always included in vegan milk? I think that is super weird. Anyway, I know coconut milk probably isn’t the healthiest thing I could ever eat, but it does taste good. And is great for making curry!

This was super easy to make, especially if you press your tofu first. I just pressed mine in a kitchen towel between two plates, with Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone and the Veganomicon perched on top. Such a good idea, I’ve been making the worst tofu ever before this.

I used fairly strong veggie broth to make this, but I think it probably still needed that extra dash of curry paste. And I believe we did hot sauce it up, using our favorite Dan’s Prime Texas Dew Drops. If you find this hot sauce, buy it. BUY IT. I had to order five bottles directly from Texas, since they stopped carrying it at our Whole Foods. Even after I practically broke down crying in the store. What’s up with that, WhoFoo?