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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Spaghetti Squash…Soup?

What did I do wrong here? My soup didn’t come out soupy!

But it did come out tasty, so I’m not complaining! Thanks, Happy Herbivore, for finding one more way for me to eat spaghetti squash. Also, I added some orzo to the recipe because I was out of white beans and I needed the extra protein. But wouldn’t white beans be awesome in this?

Moroccan Stew

I’ve been terrified to make this.

I get a little scared to cook with mint. Yes, I know I love mint in other dishes. But hot mint? In a stew? With cinnamon? I’m just not used to thinking outside the box like this. My tastes have always run a little, well, predictable. Not strictly “American” food, but certainly with very tame spice combinations. I’d hoped this wouldn’t be like all my curry experiments gone awry.

But guess what? It was really, really good. Really.

We all liked it–even my picky 2-year-old. Which is amazing, if you know 2-year-olds. My husband likes anything with ginger in it, so I knew he’d be happy. But this whole dinner was really comforting, filling, and easy to make. Couscous is amazing, too. I don’t know why I didn’t start cooking with it earlier. The whole deal gets a definite thumbs up!

Recipe from Appetite for Reduction.

 

Baked Ziti!

No picture really does this dinner justice. Happy Herbivore‘s Baked Ziti is, hands down, one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. EVER. It’s like happiness in a casserole dish. The closest I can come to describing it is decadent adult beef-a-roni. And if you loved beef-a-roni like I did, you’ll understand where I’m coming from.

I followed her directions pretty exactly on this, except for the meaty part–I used Trader Joe’s Beef-less Ground Beef, because I didn’t feel like making HH’s TVP beef. So much work! It used half of the package, so now I have enough left to make another casserole. Which I will be doing. Next week.

I love the cheezy sauce topping, too. Much more than I like her Queso recipe, which is okay, but doesn’t have the absolute creaminess this baked cheese does. Now I will totally be using it to make little pizzas, just like the cookbook recommends. I totally recommend this for when you are looking for comfort food, or are having beefy cravings. It is amazingly satisfying, and tastes even better the next day.

 

Hot Salad Niçoise

 

Does anyone in the world eat more Salad Niçoise than I do? Probably the French, I’m guessing, but I have to come in a close second.

I compiled this dish from the basic ingredients for a Niçoise: Potatoes, onions, green beans and cherry tomatoes. Then I went a little crazy and threw in some summer squash. And roasted it in the oven at 400 degrees for about an hour. I topped it with some sauteed spinach, and the chickpea mixture and green goddess dressing from Appetite for Reduction.

I’m not going to say that this turned out great. It turned out okay. I will probably make it again in the winter, when I’m craving this salad but can’t bear to eat lettuce when it’s -17 degrees outside. But it was really missing something, I’m just not sure what. And the summer squash was not good. NOT GOOD.

 

Enchiladas!

Mmm…Happy Herbivore’s Smoky Black Bean Enchiladas. My photo does not look a THING like hers from the cookbook–my enchiladas are always a messy, messy affair, with ripped tortillas and gooey filling and melty sauce and cheese. These were no exception, and were totally, totally rockin’. I don’t say “rockin'” very often, but I think it fits here.

Can I just say I was totally skeptical about the chocolate in the sauce? Yeah. I didn’t believe, but now I do. When I smelled the distinct, accurate scent of enchiladas wafting from the oven, I knew she was right. And the smoky tofu black bean filling! It required 2 tsp of smoke flavoring, which scared me. Two whole teaspoons? I think I put in maybe one and a half, and I should have gone the whole way. Or added a little smoked paprika, too, that would be an awesome touch.

This dinner was also made possible by Trader Joe’s, who now has two stores in the Kansas City area. Bless them. They have totally superior and cheap products, and I have driven out there not once this week–but three times. THREE TIMES. In a week. That’s like 6 hours of transit time for a little Trader Joe’s fix. But I missed them so much! When I lived in San Diego, they were just down the street. I took them for granted. No longer!

So, yeah, Trader Joe’s organic sprouted tofu is my new favorite tofu. It smells amazing raw, which I do not normally think about tofu. At all. And great corn tortillas, since making my own is sort of a pain in the butt. If I talk any more about them, I’ll want to drive out there again. Must…stop…reaching…for the keys…

Chilaquiles…what?

I had no idea what chilaquiles were until I made this. And I thought I knew a lot about Mexican food! Guess not.

These are the Tofu Chilaquiles from Happy Herbivore. I gotta say, it tasted a lot like a tofu scramble, but with a little flair thrown in. I’m not sure I loved it as a dinner, but as an enchilada filling or a breakfast burrito (with some roasted potato) this would be divine. And look at the tomatoes! God bless my friends out in the country. I couldn’t grow a decent tomato here if my life depended on it. And trust me, I’ve tried.