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.

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Braised Potato Leek Soup

I’ve always wanted to have my own recipe for potato soup, since it’s one of my favorite things to eat. And it’s one of those foods you absolutely can’t get from a can–the texture is too slimy, the flavor tinny. I’ve attempted this soup before, but always with tons of cream and butter–so it left me feeling heavy.

Hello, veganism.

What gives this soup a rich flavor is braising the leeks, celery, carrots, onion and garlic before putting in the other ingredients. It has a creamy texture and sweet flavor, but no cream. Or butter. Just veggies and happiness.

Braised Potato Leek Soup (makes about 10 servings):

  • 4 small leeks (or 4 cups of leeks), chopped (the smaller the leek you get, the better the texture and flavor)
  • 1 small red onion (peeled and cut in half)
  • 6-8 cloves of garlic
  • 1 cup baby carrots (or a cup of diced carrot)
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 head of cauliflower, roughly chopped
  • 2 large yukon gold potatoes, or 3 average-sized ones (roughly chopped)
  • 2 cups veggie broth
  • 3 cups unmilk (I used rice milk)
  • 1/2 to 3/4 tsp salt, depending on your preference
  • chives or scallions to garnish
  • salt and pepper to taste

Get out a large soup pot. The largest one you have! Heat 1 tsp of oil (or spray with cooking spray) over medium heat. Add the leek, onion halves, garlic, carrots and celery. Cook over medium heat until the leeks begin to brown (about 5 minutes). Add the cauliflower, potatoes and 1 cup of broth. Cover and cook until all the veggies are very tender.

Now, this is the tricky part, because the soup is HOT! But you’ll want to put portions of soup in your blender and puree until smooth. If it needs a little help getting smooth, add the rest of the broth as you puree. The finished mixture should be the texture of very loose mashed potatoes. Lower the heat to a simmer and put the soup back in the pot. Add all the unmilk and the salt. Return to a uniform warmness, but not to boiling.

Garnish with chives or scallions, add salt and pepper to taste. If you happened to have some fake bacon bits on hand, this would be a great time to use them!

E2 Week: Sweet Potato Bowl

You have to admit, even if this recipe from the Engine 2 Diet didn’t taste good, it looks beautiful. Also, I got to eat an entire half of an avocado! I haven’t had that much avocado in one sitting in ages…so good. I partially decided to make this because it sounded so strange. Mango? Sweet potato? Balsamic Vinegar? Lime juice? Cilantro? It was a weird mishmash of different textures and tastes–mostly sweet and sour–that ended up working really well together. The only problem–too much cilantro. Normally I love the stuff, but it fought with the other flavors. Still–for a dish with no seasoning–this was amazingly flavorful. I’d for sure make it again, but I’d cut back on the pepper (so much bell pepper!) and, of course, the cilantro. Nice job, E2!