Veggie Enchiladas

9 11 2012

Whoa, November. Another year is quickly speeding to the finish line and it seems winter has shown up a wee bit early. It’s hard to ignore the changes in our climate. Besides the dump of snow we got here, hurricane Sandy and the follow-up storm has many folks stopped in their tracks, the devastation is clearly unbelievable. We need to reflect on the impact climate change has had on our environment (while some continue to deny it). Hopefully we not only sort out a recovery but how to adapt and rethink how we interact with our world.

Back to food (and dreaming of warmer days already)…growing up, Mexican food was a staple in our house including taco night, dad’s nachos (he makes good nachos) or going to Chi Chi’s with family and friends. Like many Canadians, trips to Mexico started as teens to escape our long winters. No all-inclusive for us, we always had an apartment and mom cooked with local ingredients. Later on, travelling there on my own, staying with friends, I learned the art of making great guacamole.

I can hardly call this veggie enchilada recipe a ‘recipe’ because it’s so easy. If you can, pick up fresh corn tortillas and pepper sauce from a Mexican store. I get mine from Sabores at Kingsland Farmers Market. I think the enchiladas are $5 for a stack and they last me two enchilada dinners. I just freeze half for a second dinner. The corn tortilla is what separates an enchilada from a burrito, so for gluten-free folks, it’s the way to go. Pick a filling, roll up and cover with sauce and a bit of cheese and bake. You can make your own pepper sauce, recipes are plentiful, pick a red or green, but I cheat and buy them to make this an even easier dinner to throw together. Here are two simple ways to get your enchilada on, veggie style.

Filling #1: Mexican Veggie Ground Round

  • I package Yves or other Veggie Ground Round (I season my own, but you can use the Mexican one if you’d like)
  • 1/2 tsp ground Cumin
  • 2 tsp ground Mexican seasoning or Taco seasoning – season to taste
  • 1/4 – 1/2 tsp ground Chipotle seasoning
  • Olive Oil for sautéing
  • 1/2 small Sweet Onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 small Red or Yellow Pepper, sliced
  • 6 White Mushrooms, sliced
  • Heat the veggie ground round, season to taste
  • Saute the onion, peppers and mushrooms in a bit of olive oil until softened and move to enchilada construction

Filling #2: Refried Beans

  • 1 can black or pinto Refried Beans, warm in a pot over the stove, season to taste
  • Sautéed veggies from filling #1
  • Move to enchilada construction

General ingredients:

  • 10-12 Corn Tortillas
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 cups of salsa or pepper sauce of your choice – I buy a red sauce from Sabores, it’s perfect but I have also used a canned Mexican green sauce bought in the Mexican section of your grocery store
  • 1-2 cups of shredded cheese or vegan alternative of your choice. Monterey Jack and Mozzarella work well

Enchilada Construction:

  • Lightly coat a 9×13 glass baking dish with a non-stick spray.
  • Before assembly, you have to soften the tortillas, work with them at least at room temperature, but they may crack. I did some research and there are two ways of making them easier to roll, heat in oil or lightly steam in microwave, I chose the latter.
  • Wrap the tortillas in a damp cloth or paper towel (wet and squeeze out water), put in the microwave for 30-60 sec. Now work fast.
  • In each tortilla, place 2-3 tablespoons of the bean or ground round filling and then a small amount of the veg on top. You don’t want to over stuff. Practice makes perfect.
  • Roll softly, they don’t have to be tight, place seam side down in the pan. You don’t have to tuck in the sides like burritos, just roll them up. If they crack, don’t panic, try again. Tuck them beside each other to keep in place.
  • Cover with sauce and then cheese.
  • Bake in the oven until golden brown at 375 for 40-50 min.
  • Serve with fresh guacamole, salsa, sour creme or whatever you’d like.

The best part about these is that they make great leftovers (if there are any). Ole!

Eat well, Be well,

Nat

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Recipe Share: Bok Choy and Mushroom Soup

12 02 2012

It’s Sunday once again and soup’s on. This week I am sharing a recipe from a friend of mine, E. We swapped a bunch of recipes a few months back and I have been meaning to try this soup for sometime. It is good, filling and hit the spot on a late Sunday afternoon. It honestly took 30 min from start to finish. I like that kind of soup 🙂

  • 3-4 cups sliced Mushrooms (shitake and crimini)
  • 1 package firm Tofu, cubed (1.5 cm squares)
  • 6 cups Chicken or Veggie stock
  • 2 tbsp low-sodium or regular Soy Sauce
  • 2 tbsp Rice Vinegar
  • 1 tbsp Sesame Oil
  • 3 cloves Garlic, minced (I used 1/2 tsp garlic powder, you know me ;))
  • 1 tbsp minced Ginger
  • 6-8 heads of Baby Bok Choy
  • 3 Green Onions, sliced fine
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Toasted Sesame Seeds for garnish
In a soup pot, stir-fry tofu and mushrooms in a bit of oil with the garlic and ginger over medium-high heat. Cook until the tofu and mushrooms start to brown. Add all but the bok choy and let simmer for 10 minutes. I used organic chicken stock, organic poultry makes it into our house now and then, but I am sure the veggie would work fine. Add the bok choy and green onions and simmer for 5 more minutes. Serve in a big bowl and garnish with sesame seeds.
If you wanted, you could add udon noodles to this, that would be good. As well, T thinks it would be good with a touch of sriracha sauce, it’s all the rage right now but an oldie and a goodie asian hot sauce.
Quick recipe, quick blog, have a great week friends!
Eat well, be well,
Nat




Chipotle Veggie Chili

27 11 2011

Nothing warms up the soul like a bowl of chili and this recipe’s got heat, that’s for sure. I think I added one too many chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, so that’s your fair warning. I searched for hearty veggie chili recipes and found one called ‘Ultimate Vegan Chili’ and when I saw the use of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, I knew it had to be good. If you like the Spicy Black Bean Soup from my blog, you’ll love this chili. I love it because it is another way to use those yummy chipotle peppers. Remember you can freeze what you don’t use and thaw a bit to use again.

I hate chili that relies on onions for bulk or main ingredient, so I didn’t go that route. I used a small onion and added celery for the texture. The original recipe called for seitan, a gluten based protein substitute. I couldn’t find any, but I wanted to try it. I figured for all those out there that are gluten intolerant, it wasn’t necessary to use it, so I opted for soy based veggie round. Here is my adaptation of the chili:

  • 1 small Onion, diced
  • 4 stalks Celery, diced
  • 2-3 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1-3 cloves of Garlic, minced
  • 1 or 2 (not 3 like I did) Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce, minced
  • 2 cups finely chopped Mushrooms (use crimini, button or Portobello)
  • 1 pkg veggie ground round like Yves Original
  • 1 small can Tomato Paste (or 3-6 Tbsp if you have some in a tube. I bought Italian tomato paste in a tube from the farmers market. It’s handy, just keep it in the fridge)
  • 3 tsp Smoked Paprika (a good addition to your spices)
  • 2 tsp dried Oregano
  • 2-3 tsp Mexican Chili powder seasoning
  • 1 tsp of Sea Salt (or more to taste)
  • 1 cup Water
  • 1 14oz can Diced Tomatoes (with liquid)
  • 3 19oz cans of cooked beans, drain half the liquid (choose from Pinto, Black and Kidney and mix it up)
  • 1 1/2 cups of chopped Carrots
  • 2 Tbsp Tamari, Soy Sauce or Braggs
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce

Heat the olive oil in a big soup pot over medium-high heat, add the onion and celery and saute until soft and the onions start to brown. Add the garlic and chipotle peppers and cook for another minute, stirring. Add the mushrooms and saute until cooked down and liquid is released, about 4-5 min. Add the veggie round, tomato paste, paprika, oregano, chili powder, salt and water, stirring occasionally, for 4-5 min.

Add the rest of the ingredients, cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for 1 hour stirring occasionally. Chili is ready when carrots are tender. Serve with slices of a toasted baguette (we love the Turkish bread from Cobbs) and a sprinkle of mozzarella cheese (or your vegan choice).

Eat well, Be well,

Nat





Chaga

11 01 2011

Happy New Year! How have the first few days of 2011 been? Busy? Our holiday season ends with an Epiphany Celebration with friends and my mom’s birthday today (Happy Birthday Mom). Now it’s time to get back into the swing of things…seems to be  slow burn back up though.

There is lots of talk of diets, cleanses and resolutions this time of year. Turn a TV on long enough and you’ll see a commercial for losing weight, ‘keeping it off’ and ‘time to achieve those new years resolutions’. I am not totally against cleanses, I’ve done them but I have mixed feelings about them, not for this post. Healthy weight loss is 1-3 pounds a week, so if you really did it in over the holidays, say five pounds, get back into those sweats, yoga pants or runners, eat well and by mid to late January you’re back on track. Who cares? Fancy pills and vitamins aren’t gonna do it, you are, and not just part of the year, but all the year, and for a lifetime. But since we are all ‘health food junkies’, we didn’t go crazy over the holidays anyhow, right? 🙂 It’s what we do throughout the year that’s important, so we can enjoy guilt free holidays, be it Mexico in the Spring or mom’s over the holidays. Personally, my biggest challenge this time of year is finding my rhythm again after so many late nights.

Speaking of magic potions and such, this post is about Chaga. Otherwise known as Inonotus obliquus. Chaga is a fungus that grows on birch trees and has been used as a medicinal mushroom for centuries. It grows in the Northern US and Canada, Northern Europe, Russia and the like. I tried chaga tea and was given some chaga by a yoga friend of mine from Montreal, he is a ‘forager’. ‘Foraged’ and ‘wild’ menus are making their way into your favourite hip restaurant this year, so says articles like this one. This foraging yogi though is serious, he collects and drinks water from natural springs, forages the woods on his land for food, gardens, sprouts and has close relationships with farmers and honey producers that he gets the rest of his food from. Amazing, but not all of us can do this. 😉

I took some time over the holidays to investigate this chaga he raved about. I am always inquisitive about things first, and we should be. However, many of our known cures and medicines are derivatives of plants. What is clear is that chaga has been used as a medicinal mushroom for centuries and in the last few decades research shows it has high levels of betulinic acid. What’s betulinic acid? It is a derivative of the Betula alba or common white birch tree. It is known to have antiinflammatory, anti-HIV and antineoplastic activities and because of this it is being studied on various of types of cancer including melanoma and brain tumors (www.cancer.gov). Siberian chaga apparently also has an incredibly high ORAC score, “ORAC–short for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity–measures the ability of foods, blood plasma, and just about any substance to subdue oxygen free radicals in the test tube.” Other common and high ORAC antioxidant foods are acai, pomegranate, raspberries, prunes, blueberries, blackberries and kale. There is a lot of material on the web about chaga as well a world of other medicinal mushrooms. They have been a part of medicine for centuries and as time goes on, current testing is being done that is proving some of the folklore, interesting.

Once you boil the chaga for minimum 20 min and up to a couple of hours, you can store it in the fridge for a week. Not as appealing as the other antioxidant drinks out there. Where do you get it? Well, online unless you live somewhere that has chaga and sells it…and I wouldn’t go wandering through the woods to pick your own unless you know what you are doing…as for it’s benefits…the jury’s still out here….

Bottoms up!

Eat Well, Be Well,

Nat





Comfort Food

14 11 2010

When life hands you lemons you can react a couple of different ways. Leave your head on the pillow or get up and put one foot in front of the other. After leaving my head on the pillow for a few days, I got up, put one foot in front of the other until I was in the kitchen doing what makes me feel better, cooking. Unfortunately for Tony and I, the past few weeks have dealt us some blows, but we are surrounded by amazing family and friends. Thank-you to those that read this and have been by our side.

I have made Borshch with my mom many times (assuming ‘made’ means drinking wine and watching). Last year and at the start of this blog, I chronicled our Ukrainian Christmas Eve dinner, which includes Borshch. My mom measured out the recipes as she cooked from memory. This way I could write them down and make it all on my own one day. I’m workin’ on it.

Well I grew great beets this year, although small, and they’ve been in the fridge since October. I paired them up with some organic beets from Planet Organic to make a big pot of Borshch. I followed the recipe, consulted mom and found solace in a quiet kitchen and the comforting smell of soup simmering on the stove like the generations before me. Here is our family Borshch recipe, I hope it brings you as much comfort as it did me last night.

  • 6 large Beets, I ended up using about 12 small beets
  • 1/2 c dried Brown Mushrooms, broken and chopped up (if not dried, then saute them in a bit of olive oil before using)
  • 2-3 Chicken Bouillon cubes (I use the veggie variety)
  • 4 Bay Leaves
  • 6 Pepper Corns
  • 1 1/2 c diced Celery
  • 1 1/2 c diced Carrots
  • 1 1/2 c diced Green Beans
  • 1 1/2 c Peas (frozen okay)
  • 1 medium White Onion, diced and sautéed until golden brown
  • 3-4 c of Beet Tops, chopped small, separate the stems from the leaves
  • 1 tsp Dill (dried okay)
  • 1/2 c Italian Parsley, chopped well
  • 2 tbsp Flour
  • 1 tbsp Butter
  • 1 tbsp Olive Oil (choose a natural oil, stay away from processed oils, aka Canola)

Clean off the beats, no need to peel, cut the roots and tough parts off. Grate the beets using a food processor, rough chop them first, the grating attachment makes this very easy and less messy. If you don’t have a food processor, grate whatever way works for you. Makes about 12 cups.

 

In a soup pot, place the beets, diced beet stems, mushrooms, bay leaves, pepper corns and bouillon cubes and cover with water. Bring to boil, cover, simmer covered for 15 min. Add celery, parsley, simmer covered for 15 min. Add beans, carrots, simmer covered for 15 min. Add peas, chopped beet greens, sautéed onions and 1/4 to 1/2 c of water if you think it needs it. Simmer covered for 15 min, the veggies will be al-dante.

Once the soup is done, in small sauce pot, cook the flour over medium-high heat, stirring continuously for 60-90 seconds. Take the flour off the heat and add the butter and oil, continue stirring, the butter should melt and maybe froth up a bit. You’ve just made a roux and probably didn’t ruin it over the heat, good job. Add three cups of the borsch to the roux, one cup at a time, mixing well, and then add it all back into the main soup pot. The cooked flour and roux brings the flavours together and makes the soup glisten. Look at it, isn’t it pretty.

Serve with a dollop of sour creme or plain yogurt and fresh cracked pepper. It’s like a hug in a bowl.

Eat well, Be Well,

Nat





Zucchini Blossoms

5 09 2010

We have huge zucchini plants and some great sized zucchini’s growing. Zucchini is a popular squash good for grilling, salads, sauteing, curries, baking and more. You can freeze it to use through the winter it is so versatile, but more on that another day. If you have grown zucchini, or other vegetables like tomatoes, you would know that eventually you have to sacrifice the new blossoms for the advancement of the ones already established. Zucchini has two types of blossoms, girls and boys. The boys do not grow up to be zucchini, but long stems with a blossom on the end and the girls, once pollinated, turn into zucchini’s, also with a blossom. As I was doing the sacrifice of blossoms and stems I asked myself, what can you do with the blossoms?

Most of the recipes out there are for stuffed zucchini blossoms, usually lightly battered and fried. What’s the point? The blossoms are basically used as a vessel for a cheese like filling. There are lots of amazing recipes but sounded like to much work and not really about the blossoms. I thought, I bet they would be nice to add to sautéed vegetables, right-o. A favourite so far is mixing them with sautéed mushrooms for scrambled eggs. Saute the mushrooms first in butter or olive oil, remove the stamens and add chopped blossoms and cook until soft, add the eggs, salt and pepper. Cook till eggs are done. Serve warm with slices of avocado, grainy toast and choice of fruit. How’s that for a <rainy> long weekend breakfast?

Happy long weekend. What kind of cooking are you doing?

Eat well, be well, Nat





Just Eat It: Mushroomy Pate

28 06 2010

It is still June so I have time to post a recipe for the Yoga Shala! This month it is Mushroomy Pate. I have had this before but made a few changes and added coconut oil, a miracle ingredient I am eating a lot of for fertility (I’ll let you know how that goes). This recipe is simple and a great accompaniment to veggies, crackers or a baguette. It is fairly common to make pates from a mixture of mushrooms and a variety of nuts, like almonds, walnuts and in this case cashews. I have a raw food mushroom recipe I’ll share one day too. I love tapas and mushroom pate’s make a great addition to small plates. This recipe is adapted from the Vegetarian Times.

½ cup lightly toasted cashews

1 ½ tbsp coconut oil

4 cups sliced mushrooms (cremini, white button, portobello)

¼ cup chopped onion (optional but great to replace with celery)

1 clove garlic, minced (optional)

1 ½ tsp curry powder

¼ tsp cumin powder

dash of cayenne

2 tsp cooking sherry or port wine (optional)

2 tsp unsweetened almond butter

Melt the coconut oil in a large skillet, add the onion or celery, sauté for a few minutes, add the garlic, curry powder, cumin and cayenne, continue to sauté for 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and sauté until browned and most of the liquid has evaporated, 12-15 minutes. Add the sherry or port, cook a few minutes more and remove from the heat.

Add the mushrooms, toasted cashews and almond butter to a food processor and puree, letting steam escape. Puree until smooth but with texture. It’s better with time, so chill for a few hours or overnight. Serve with fresh parsley on top.

Eat Well, Be Well,

Nat