featured on foodgawker
Sometimes you just need Mexican food. In the form of a bean and veggie tortilla casserole. Spicy, warm, and comforting.
I love Mexican food. It’s one of those things that happens when you move to Southern California. Prior to moving here, Mexican to me was Taco Bell or Don Pablo’s (which is, as I remember now, a not-very-good Mexican chain in the Northeast). I almost always ordered a quesadilla or enchiladas, which is kind of like the cheater “Mexican” food. “Give me a tortilla filled with greasy melted cheese and possibly covered with bland tomato sauce.” Yuck.
Here in LA, thanks to the large Mexican population, you can get authentic Mexican food on nearly every corner. Burritos are my go to, with (soft) tacos a close second. Flour tortillas are smooth and buttery, chewy, sometimes a tiny bit crisp. Tacos from a street truck are just two small corn tortillas topped with the meat of your choice, and cilantro and onions if you’d like. Outside the truck is a table of assorted condiments – spicy pickled carrots and jalapeños, green, red, and orange salsas pureed to a smooth consistency. And since I love condiments, you can guess I load up on all of them.
Not to mention this wonderful thing called POTATO tacos and burritos (notably from one of my favorite Santa Monica spots, Tacos Por Favor). Soft potatoes with lettuce, guacamole, rice, beans. This is a really big thing, considering potatoes are one of my favorite food items. I’ve never seen anything potato related at Taco Bell or a chain Mexican-American restaurant, have you?
I usually need to have some sort of Mexican food at least once a week. Usually it’s a burrito from my beloved Benito’s around the corner, but they’re not exactly the lightest thing to eat. So for those times when I shouldn’t splurge, at-home-Mexican it is.
Enter black bean and veggie tortilla casserole. This is a nice twist on enchiladas. I’m not really a fan of enchiladas anymore because I feel like the corn flavor of the tortillas deepens when they’re baked and ends up tasting weird. Here, in this casserole, the tortillas end up softening and practically melting into the rest of the ingredients. In a word, it’s awesome.
This recipe was inspired by Everyday Food, but has been pumped up with the addition of veggies and mushrooms.
bean and veggie tortilla casserole
makes 6 servings
- 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 8 ounces crimini or white mushrooms, sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cans (15.5 ounces each), black beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 cans (14.5 ounces each) or 3 cans (10 ounces each) diced tomatoes with green chiles
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
- 1/2 cup frozen corn
- 1/2 cup frozen peas
- 10 corn tortillas
- 6 ounces shredded cheese (Monterey Jack, Mexican blend, or Mozzarella)
- Optional: reduced-fat or fat-free sour cream, sliced green onions, avocado, jalapenos for garnish
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
In a medium pot, heat 1/2 tablespoon olive oil and sliced mushrooms over medium heat, until softened, 3 – 4 minutes. Put the mushrooms in a bowl and toss with the frozen corn and peas. Return the pot to the heat.
Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the pot, as well as the garlic. Heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the beans and 1/2 cup water. Bring to a simmer, about 5 minutes. Slightly mash some of the beans.
In a food processor or blender, puree the tomatoes (with juice) and cilantro. If you don’t have one of those, finely chop the cilantro and mix it with the tomatoes.
Lay 4 tortillas in the bottom of an 8-inch square baking dish, overlapping a bit and slightly going up the sides of the dish. Spread 1/3 of the tomato mixture on top. Spoon 1/2 of the black beans in, then evenly distribute 1/2 of the veggies. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the cheese. Top with 3 tortillas and repeat the layering process. Finish it with the remaining 3 tortillas, last 1/3 of the tomato sauce, and last 1/3 of cheese.
Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and reduce the heat to 350 degrees. Bake for another 20 minutes.
To serve, top with sour cream, green onions, avocado, or jalapeno slices.
This buffalo cauliflower recipe was inspired by an incredible dish at a mostly vegan restaurant in Silver Lake, Mohawk Bend. Mohawk Bend is a great little spot with all local ingredients and offerings, including only beer, wine, and liquor produced in California. And a live jazz band on Sunday mornings!
We made our way over here before a Dodgers game one hot Sunday afternoon. Everyone on Yelp raves about the vegan buffalo cauliflower, so we knew we had to try it out. I’ve been trying to recreate it ever since!
Slightly crisp baked cauliflower is paired with the spicy buffalo goodness of Frank’s Red Hot sauce to mimic buffalo wings. Mohawk Bend serves theirs with a homemade vegan blue cheese, but that’s besides the point. you can make your own vegan blue cheese or pair this with your favorite blue cheese dressing (or ranch). This recipe is for the main star – buffalo cauliflower!
This is a fantastic recipe for Football Sundays, which makes it absolutely perfect for the Super Bowl this weekend!!
What are your plans this Sunday? Staying in? Party with friends? Heading to a bar? (or “Melissa I don’t care about the Super Bowl!”)
I’ll be hanging out with my friends enjoying a keg of Lumen (hoppy Belgian-style pale ale with jasmine flowers) from Monkish Brewing!
makes 2 servings
- 1/2 head of cauliflower
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup water
- salt and pepper
- 1/4 cup Frank’s Red Hot Sauce
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Cut the cauliflower into florets, about bite-sized. You want to still be able to grab them up with your fingers (okay, I guess a fork is more civilized, but whatever…).
Stir the flour, water, salt, and pepper together until smooth. Toss the cauliflower in the flour mixture. Shake the excess batter off each piece of cauliflower and place in a single layer on a baking sheet.
Bake for 30 minutes, until golden brown on the edges. Remove the cauliflower from the pan with a spatula and place into a bowl. Toss with Frank’s Red Hot and serve!
In my junior year of college, I lived in a house with two other girls, one of whom was also a vegetarian. This was before the food blog era. Most of my recipes during this time came from bargain vegetarian books, printouts from FoodNetwork.com, or Everyday Food Magazine. From time to time, I would look through my roommate’s cookbooks.
The very first Thanksgiving I cooked was during this year. I did roast my first turkey, which I was told was good, but I was a vegetarian and didn’t try it. For my main course, I came across a recipe that sounded really great. It was a mixture of celery, leeks, lentils, mushrooms, and nuts, all stuffed between layers of phyllo dough. It sounded very similar to the vegan nut roast served in the cafeteria (which I was introduced to my freshman year, which was awesome!)
I decided to try this mushroom nut concoction out and LOVED it. A light, crunchy phyllo layer surrounded an herbed, earthy mixture that went perfectly with gravy and cranberry sauce.
Why I didn’t photocopy the recipe or write it down is beyond me, because for the next five years I tried over and over again to replicate it. I’d come close, but there was always something that just wasn’t right. Finally I decided to ditch the messy phyllo dough and use puff pastry. Somehow the stars finally aligned, because with that change, I’d also found the perfect combination of the rest of the ingredients, a simple mushroom gravy recipe, and I’m finally content.
This recipe takes some time, but it’s mostly time spent prepping the ingredients. It’s a great main course for a vegetarian holiday meal or any time during the winter. It’s excellent served alongside green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, and sweet potatoes.
This recipe is forgiving. If you want to do a cheaper version, use white button mushrooms and yellow or brown onions in place of the wild and portobello mushrooms and leeks.
mushroom nut roast
makes 8 servings
- 1 sheet of puff pastry
- 1/3 cup green lentils
- 1/2 cup raw almonds
- 1 cup raw cashews
- 1/2 cup walnuts
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/2 cups finely chopped leeks OR 2 finely chopped onions
- 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 6 medium white button mushrooms, finely chopped
- 1 ounce (3/4 cup) dried wild mushrooms (porcini, oyster, portabello, morel) OR 5 ounces white button or portobello mushrooms, finely chopped
- 1 1/2 cups breadcrumbs
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon thyme
- 1 teaspoon sage
- 1 teaspoon basil
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup vegetable broth
Allow the puff pastry to thaw for about 40 minutes.
Cook the lentils according to package instructions.
If using, soak the dried wild mushrooms in a bowl of 1 1/4 cups hot water for about 20 minutes. Squeeze the excess water out of the mushrooms and into the bowl. Reserve 1 cup of the mushroom water and set aside to use for gravy. Finely chop the mushrooms.
In a pan over low heat, toast the nuts until fragrant, stirring frequently to keep from burning. Remove from heat and place in a food processor. Pulse until the nuts are ground into a fine texture. Transfer to a large bowl.
Heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the leeks (or onions), celery, and garlic. Saute for about 5 minutes, until everything begins to soften. Add all the mushrooms and saute until soft. Add to the bowl of ground nuts.
Add the lentils, vegetable broth, breadcrumbs, oregano, thyme, sage, and basil. Stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
Crack one egg into a bowl and beat. Pour over the mushroom mixture and mix well.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Spray a loaf pan with nonstick spray.
Roll out the puff pastry. It should be wide enough to fit inside your loaf pan, covering both long walls, with enough overhang on each side to fold back over the filling we put inside.
Place the puff pastry in the loaf pan. Evenly spread the mushroom mixture into the pan, pushing down to compact it if it seems like there’s too much. Stretch and fold the flaps of pastry over the filling, enclosing it.
Beat the second egg in a small bowl. Brush the egg over the top of the pastry. You won’t need to use all of it, just give it a nice, even coating. This will help the loaf to brown.
Bake for 20 minutes, then reduce the heat to 350 degrees and bake for another 40 minutes, until the loaf is golden brown. Slice and serve with the mushroom gravy recipe below.
makes 8 servings
- 4 ounces white button mushrooms
- 4 ounces portabello mushrooms
- 1 cup reserved mushroom water
- 1 can vegetable broth (add 1 cup plain water if not using reserved mushroom water)
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch or flour
- Dried sage
- Dried thyme
- salt and pepper
Saute the mushrooms in a pan with a drizzle of olive oil until soft.
In a saucepan, mix the vegetable broth and mushroom water (or regular water) with the cornstarch or flour until smooth. Add the mushrooms and the herbs, to taste.
Heat the gravy over medium-high heat until your desired thickness is reached, adding cornstarch or flour as needed to thicken it. If it’s too thick, add some water or vegetable broth.
You guys, this week is my FAVORITE holiday, and I’m so excited. This Pumpkin Soup with Maple-Glazed Banana and Pecans is a non-traditional, but easy way to start off a Thanksgiving meal.
I usually host a Thanksgiving dinner for 40 people, but this year I’m taking it easy and letting my friend’s aunt and uncle do all the work Although, I’ll absolutely be contributing my Mushroom Nut Roast with Mushroom Gravy (recipe to come next week!)
If you’re not quite sure what to contribute this year to your Thanksgiving pot luck, or are looking for a fun addition to your usual menu, give this soup a try. It’s both sweet and savory.
easy pumpkin soup with maple-glazed banana and pecans
makes 4 servings
- 1/4 cup pecans
- 2 teaspoons maple syrup or pancake syrup
- 1/2 banana, diced
- 1 cup pumpkin puree
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 cup vegetable stock
- 6 teaspoons light sour cream
- Pinch of cinnamon
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Spread the pecans in an even layer and toast for about 7 minutes, or until they’re fragrant. Let cool and chop. Toss with the syrup and bananas.
In a medium saucepan, heat the pumpkin, water, and vegetable stock. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Heat until warm, then stir in the sour cream and cinnamon.
Ladle into bowls and top with a dollop of the pecan-banana mixture.
I’ve never been much of a chili fan. I don’t know why. It just never floated my boat. Maybe it’s because I’m not a fan of ground beef crumbles. I don’t like the texture, which is a major reason why I was able to be a vegetarian for eight years and not miss beef at all.
I gravitate towards this delicious chili recipe because 1. It does not have ground beef, and 2. its flavor is completely different from traditional chili. The green chiles, oregano, cumin, and cilantro all come together for more of a Mexican feel. Great on its own and even better topped with light sour cream or chunks of avocado.
chicken chili verde
makes 4 servings
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, chopped
- 4 oz green chile peppers
- 4 oz diced jalapenos
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 1/4 teaspoons oregano
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 3 cups vegetable or chicken broth
- 2 – 15.5 ounce cans cannellini beans, not drained
- 2 cups cooked, shredded chicken breast
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- Light sour cream, if desired
Heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a large pot. Add onion and cook until golden and soft, about 5 minutes. Add the chiles, jalapeno, garlic, oregano, cumin, and chili powder. Stir and cook for 3 minutes.
Add the broth, beans, and chicken. Simmer for 20 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper. Add the fresh cilantro and cook for another 5 minutes. Serve each portion topped with light sour cream, if you desire!
Per serving, with chicken: 350 calories, 6.5g fat, 1439mg sodium, 42g carbohydrates, 37g protein
Per serving, vegetarian with black beans: 337 calories, 4g fat, 1472mg sodium, 60g carbohydrates, 22g protein
to anyone. You don't have to know a lot about cooking or be a foodie to prepare and enjoy nutritious homecooked meals! Read more...