Your Very Own Black Beans! and Quesadillas Sin Queso

7 Feb

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Song of the Post – Lust for Life by Girls

Hello diligent readers – I hope you are having a fantastic week so far!

So I’ve made a few tasty dishes this week, and I’ve made sure to make tons so there are leftovers aplenty. My first endevour involved dried black beans. Buying these babies in bulk is so much more economical than in cans. I put my best foot forward and set out to be a money saver! It ended up being an excellent choice that resulted in a mountain of flavorful black beans, yum.

This recipe comes from Budget Bytes – and requires the use of a crock pot. Leave your beans and veggie mix for 4 hours and voila! Magic occurs and you’re left with something extraordinary (and cheap). [Take note: the recipe says not to add salt to the crock pot mix. When I reheat the beans, I make sure to add either salt or sriracha sauce, otherwise the beans seem a little bland.]

Now comes the real fun: cooking with black beans. With the beginning of the semester in full force, I haven’t had much time to get creative with my meals. But I did find an intriguing idea for an avocado quesadilla – minus the queso. What a great way to enjoy latin inspired food without the costly vegan cheese! The other really awesome thing about this meal is it’s simplicity. In 2 minutes this “avo-dilla” is ready. Bon appétit!

Best,

Lauren

Crock Pot Black Beans

  • 2 cups dry black beans
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 can diced tomatos
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 tbsp cumin
  • 1 jalepeno, diced

Sort through your beans to remove any stones or damaged beans. Rinse the beans well to remove any dust. Place the beans in the slow cooker.

Also add to the slow cooker: diced tomatoes, garlic (smashed or roughly chopped), one jalapeno, and chopped veggies. Do not add salt at this point. Add 5 cups of water, secure the lid and set the heat to high.

After four hours open the slow cooker and check the beans to make sure they are tender. They should be fully cooked at this point but if they aren’t, simply cook them longer and check again after a couple hours.

Either serve the beans immediately or divide up and freeze in single or double serving sized portions.

Additional options: red pepper flakes, bay leaves (1 or 2) or low sodium chicken stock in place of water.

Avo-dillas

(recipe adapted from Healthy Happy Life)

  • 1/2 ripe avocado
  • 1 whole wheat tortilla
  • 1 tbsp vegan butter
  • few spoonfuls of black beans (optional)

Melt the vegan butter in a very hot skillet.  Add the tortilla. Toss it around in the melted butter a bit to wet all sides.

Lay “butter-tossed” tortilla flat in the pan and quickly add the avocado+black beans. Mash the avocado a bit into the tortilla and fold over one side – just as you would a quesadilla. Note: you can also sear the avocado a bit in the hot pan if you’d like a warmer – softer avocado filling texture.

Flip the tortilla so that both sides brown. If a few ago slices spill out, just open the wrap and slide them back in. Transfer to plate and munch!

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excuse the poor quality of this photo! Check out Happy Healthy Life for more scrumptious pics 🙂

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all done!

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Samosa Wraps, mmmm

1 Feb

Hey cuties! I’m back from Jan Term break, and ready to get cookin’!

Here’s a simple yet intensely flavorful recipe I found on Fat Free Vegan Blog. Samosas are maybe my favorite part about Indian food, so when I stumbed across these Samosa Wraps I knew I had hit the jackpot. Potatoes, tofu and frozen peas are the meat of this dish (pun intended). Obviously I added extra jalapeños, just for that needed punch of spicy. Enjoy this relatively quick meal! I know I did!

Best,

Lauren

Samosa Wraps

Adapted from Fat Free Vegan Blog

  • 1 pound (450 g) red or gold potatoes (about 2 medium)
  • 14 ounces (390 g) extra-firm tofu, frozen for 24 hours and thawed
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 1 cup (236 ml) frozen green peas
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1/2 – 1 jalapeno pepper, stemmed, seeded and finely diced
  • 1/2 – 3/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon salt to taste
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 6 whole-grain tortillas

Cook the potatoes, unpeeled, in boiling water until they’re tender (pierce easily with a fork). Remove from water and set aside to cool. When cool enough to handle, peel and cut into 1/4-inch pieces (6mm).

Squeeze tofu to remove as much water as possible. Cut into 1/4-inch cubes.

Heat a deep non-stick skillet and add the onion. Cook on medium-high until onion begins to brown. Add peas, tomato, ginger, jalapeno pepper, and 2 tablespoons water. Cook, stirring, until peas thaw.

Add potatoes and tofu to skillet along with 1/2 cup water, salt, curry powder, coriander, cumin, cayenne, and lemon juice. Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes, adding more water if necessary. Remove cover and cook until most liquid has evaporated. Check to see if more salt or lemon is needed.

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Day 18 – Time for A Treat

24 Jan

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Song of the Post – Please Don’t Go by Mike Posner

Hey gang!  It’s been a long month.  There are vegetables everywhere I look, whole grains galore, and my cupboard is full of every type of canned bean imaginable.  Seems like what we need is a treat, am I right?

Since I’m going home tomorrow (my brother comes back from South Korea on Thursday!!!) my efforts have been focused on using up all my fresh produce.  The spinach is gone, bell peppers caput, and now the only thing that remains is a small, inviting sweet potato.  It’s basically begging, “make me into something sweet!”

After a few Pinterest searches I came across this lovely Sweet Potato Biscuit recipe.  Substitute milk for coconut milk and butter for vegan butter, and we’ve got ourselves a winner.

Can I tell you a secret?  These are the tastiest biscuits you’ll ever try.  Not too sweet, and perfectly fluffy.  Now what are you waiting for, go make some!  Don’t forget to eat these biscuits warm, with a generous amount of butter on top.  YUM.

Best,

Lauren

Sweet Potato Biscuits

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup mashed cooked sweet potatoes
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter (vegan butter), softened
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons milk (coconut milk), depending on the moisture of the potatoes

To cook sweet potatoes, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add potatoes and cook until tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Drain and mash. Set aside to slightly cool.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. In a separate, large bowl, mix the sweet potatoes and butter. Add the flour mixture to the potato mixture and mix to make a soft dough. Add milk, a tablespoon at a time, to mixture and continue to cut in. Turn the dough out onto a floured board and knead very gently until dough comes together, about five or six times. Shape into a disk, and pat to an even 1-inch thickness. With a floured 3-inch biscuit cutter, cut out biscuits and place on prepared baking sheet. Brush tops with melted butter. Bake for 20-22 minutes or until golden brown.

(Before the oven)

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Day 17 – The Elusive Veggie Burger

24 Jan

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Song of the Post -Blue Jeans by Lana Del Rey

That’s right y’all!  Veggie Burgers!

Over the course of this month I’ve seen about 100 recipes for veggie burgers.  They all seemed too simple, too weird, or too complicated.  In my opinion, stuff like oatmeal should not be in burgers.

Well – its official, this is the best veggie burger recipe ever.  Crisp, perfect consistency and an absolutely excellent flavor.  The sweet potatoes make the mixture creamy, and the mashed black beans thicken it up.  Fluffly cooked quinoa, corn and onions add variety to every bite.  (Please ignore the fact that these burgers look really ugly.)

This recipe comes from EdiblePerspective.com, but I ended up adapting it to work with the supplies on hand.  The best addition was jalapeños!  They jack up the flavor and make the burger a little more interesting.  Can you tell that I’m in love with this veggie burger?  It’s fabulous, and I’m so glad the recipe yielded WAY too many burgers.  I ❤ leftovers!

Without a doubt, these little guys will wow you.  Use this recipe as a guide, and feel free to throw in whatever other ingredients you think would work.  Happy eating!

Best,

Lauren

Sweet Potato Black Bean Veggie Burgers

  • 15oz black beans, drained + rinsed
  • 3 cup cubed sweet tater, cooked + skin on [~1.5lbs]
  • 1/2 cup frozen or fresh corn
  • 2/3 cup finely chopped onion [1/2 medium onion]
  • 2 large garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 small jalapeño pepper, finely chopped (remove seeds if you want spicy!)
  • 1/2 – 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 6 tbsp flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • black pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp coriander (I used turmeric)
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne [optional]
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Preheat your oven to 375 once you finish cooking the quinoa and potato.

Mash half of the beans in a bowl until paste-like.  Add in the rest of the beans and give a very light stir/mash to combine.

In a large bowl, mash the sweet tater.  Each cube should be mashed, but you don’t want it creamy.  Stir in the salt, pepper, oregano, coriander, chili powder, cayenne and olive oil, until combined.  Mix in the onion, garlic, corn, black beans, quinoa, sunflower seeds, and ground oats, until just combined.  Taste, and adjust seasonings to your liking.

Form into balls, between your hands and flatten into 1/2”-3/4” thick patties.  This should make 8 medium/large patties.  Place on a pan lined with parchment paper (or lightly greased pan) and bake on each side for 15 min, flipping once, half-way through.

Notes: If you want to refrigerate or freeze them, let fully cool on a cooling rack.  Place in a sealed container for the fridge, or wrap in saran, then foil, then in a bag for the freezer.  If reheating a frozen burger, let it thaw completely.  Re-heat in a greased pan, over medium heat for 3 – 5 minutes per side, until hot throughout.

To pan cook – Heat a pan to medium and lightly grease.  Cook on each side for 5 – 8 minutes on each side, until golden brown.

For the grill – Bake burgers for 15 minutes on one side, flip burgers once and bake another 10 minutes.

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Day 15 – Birthday Time!

22 Jan

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Song of the Post – Head over Heels by Tears for Fears

Hey y’all! Yesterday was my birthday, so obviously I didn’t cook anything! I did, however, eat some delicious Ethiopian food (vegetarian combo plate, yes please) and I’d like to share with you how excellent it was.

For my vegan-friendly birthday dinner Nikki suggested Queen of Sheba, and I was immediately on board!  If you haven’t tried Ethiopian, I highly recommend going for the food and the experience.  They serve each dish with injera bread, which looks kind of like a fluffy pancake.  Then, you scoop up bites of meat and veggies with pieces of the bread.  Who doesn’t love eating with their hands every once and a while?

Queen of Sheba, located in the Flour Mill near downtown Spokane.  This place is amazing!  Also, the wait staff is very helpful when deciding what to order.  Just tell them what you feel like having, beef, poultry or vegetables, and they’ll let you know which dishes to pick.

Here are a few fun photos from the evening.  Side note: best birthday ever!  We had a party, my friends’ band played and covered a Tears for Fears song for me.  YAY!

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Chocolate flower! Mmmmmm.

Day 13 – Experimentation is Key! (Featuring Sloppy Joes)

18 Jan

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Song of the Post – Informer by Snow

Oh, what’s up buckets upon buckets of snow?

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Yeah, looks like it’s getting pretty chilly out there.  Walking places is no bueno these days with all the giant snowflakes coming at my eyeballs.  Driving is not an option, since A. my car won’t start and B. its slick as heck!  Guess my only option is to stay at home and try to warm up.  But I wonder… however could I achieve such warmth in this snowy wonderland?

I have a great idea!  Curry!

Here’s a painfully simple recipe I found for curry chickpeas.  It comes from an extremely helpful website called Budget Bytes.  So far, I’m in love with this blog!  It informs you just how inexpensive her recipes are, down to each serving.  Nice!

So, midway through cooking this delicious dish I decided that quick curried chickpea soup sounded better.  To make this happen, I added the same amount of water called for but didn’t simmer it as long.  With that discovery fueling my ingenuity, I threw in two tomatoes (chopped up), one cup of frozen corn and a few handfuls of spinach.  I’m very happy with how this chickpea chili curry turned out!  Scrumptious, spicy and filling; baby that’s my kind of meal.

Quick Curried Chickpeas

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 can of garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 half medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 1/2 can tomato sauce
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 heaping cup spinach
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tbsp sriracha (optional)
  • 1 tsp red chili flakes (optional)

Cook the onion and garlic in a large pot with olive oil over medium heat until softed.

Add chickpeas to the pot, as well as the tomato sauce, tomatoes, corn, water and curry powder. Stir until everything is evenly mixed. Bring the mixture up to a simmer over medium heat.

While the chick peas are simmering, rinse the spinach. Roughly chop the leaves and add them to the pot. Give everything a stir and continue to simmer until the sauce has reduced to a soupy or thick consistency (about 20 minutes total). Stir the pot every few minutes to prevent the sauce from burning and sticking to the bottom.

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This next recipe is my treasure, my knight in shining armor of meals.  The very first moment I saw this online, I knew I had to make it.  There are about 1 million ingredients, but dedication and patience have finally brought me to this delightful meal.

Experimentation also had a huge role in creating this meal.  The first ingredient on the list is TVP, or for those who don’t speak veganese, textured vegetable protein.  I opted out of buying an eight dollar bag of TVP, since I haven’t seen any other recipes that call for it, and chose to use the remaining half of a firm block of tofu.  Wary as I was, I figured tofu was a low-maintenance ingredient that would pick up the overall flavor of the mix.  This assumption turned out to be true, and the tofu was a crumbly, almost ground-beef like texture alongside the variety of veggies.

But wait – there’s more!  You see, I went to the store with one mission – obtain sweet potatoes to use for sloppy joes.  I rushed home, peeled and boiled my sweet potato, grinning at how prepared I was.  Then, I checked the recipe.  Alas, there was no sweet potato to be found.  This did not stop me!  I added half of a large SP to the sloppy joe mix near the end of its sautéing.  Let me assure you, the results were stellar.  Moral of the story: feel free to add whatever sounds good!  Next time I’m chucking in some eggplant, or maybe zucchini if I’m feeling wild.

With a swipe of stone ground mustard (I don’t have veganiase yet) and handful of crisp spinach, this hot sandwich is ready for you to chow down on.  Enjoy!

Best,

Lauren

Garden Veggie Sloppy Nellys 

(as adapted from Healthy Happy Life)
makes 6 burgers

  • burger buns, warmed in oven

Sloppy Filling:

  • 1 1/2 cups TVP or 1 firm block tofu, crumbled
  • 1 Tbsp tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp maple or agave syrup
  • 14 ounce can of fire roasted tomatoes, crushed
  • 14 ounces water
  • 6 ounces tomato paste
  • 3/4 cup onion, diced
  • 1 1/4 cups green bell pepper, diced
  • 3/4 cup mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/2 jalapeno, diced (use seeds for spicier flavor)
  • 2 Tbsp vegan buttery spread
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp dried parsley flakes
  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled, diced, boiled and mashed a bit (optional)
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke (optional – adds smokiness)
  • 3 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast (optional – adds savory flavor) *I highly recommend it
  • salt/pepper to taste (I like a heavy hand of fine pepper)

Add the vegan butter and oil to a med-high x-large nonstick skillet.  Add onions, bell pepper, mushrooms to pan. Sauté until onions turn translucent.

Add in the tomato paste, water and TVP (or crumbled tofu).  Stir until TVP absorbs liquid and thins paste (if using tofu, stir for a few minutes). Now you may add in the remaining ingredients.

Turn heat to medium and sauté for about 5 minutes until the ingredients become flavorful and the mixture thickens well. Add nutritional yeast and liquid smoke as desired. Salt and pepper to taste.

Fill buns with sloppy mix – slather buns with vegenaise or other condiments – and maybe a few leaves of fresh spinach or romaine for extra green flavor. Serve hot.

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[Not the cutest thing I’ve ever cooked – but DANG it is tasty.]

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Day 11 – Tortilla Casserole & Almond Cheeze

16 Jan

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Song of the Post – Municipality by Real Estate

Happy MLK Day!

Martin Luther King day has a special place in my heart.  My brother’s birthday is January 15th, and it was so unbelievably cool to have the Monday following his birthday off from school.  So now, a decade or so later, I still think of being so psyched to play in the snow with my little brother.

With those cozy thoughts in mind, let us dive into a warm and toasty meal!

My original aspiration for dinner night with the guys was lofty.  I’ve been craving a big juicy burger ever since day 1 of this vegan challenge, so I suggested homemade veggie burgers.  Upon realizing I had absolutely none of the ingredients necessary, I switched to a much more low-key recipe: Tortilla Casserole.  Also, when I showed up with to the guys’ house I couldn’t find the recipe online – it was bookmarked on my laptop but nowhere to be found on the world wide web!  Overall, it’s pretty difficult to mess up a black bean/tex mex casserole.  It turned out excellent, without the dang recipe!

So, this is the original recipe from VegKitchen.com.  I added sautéed onions and mushrooms to the mix.  The result was a fantastic, low maintenance casserole perfect for any spontaneous get-together.  Also, when the fellas were dressing up the casserole with cheese, Stephen surprised me with a stash of almond cheez!  My meal was indeed vegan, and I lived happily ever after!

We all enjoyed this dish very much, and I hope you do too!

Best,

Lauren

Super Easy Tortilla Casserole

  • One 16-ounce can pinto or pink beans, drained and rinsed
  • One 16-ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • One 16-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • One 4-ounce can chopped mild green chilies (optional)
    or 1 to 2 small hot fresh chilis, seeded and minced
  • 2 cups frozen corn kernels, thawed
  • 1 cup crimini mushrooms, diced small
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 2 scallions, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili flakes
  • 10 corn tortillas
  • 1 1/2 cups grated nondairy Monterey Jack, cheddar, or jalapeño cheese
  • Salsa for topping
  • Vegan sour cream for topping, optional

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Sautee onions and mushrooms until soft.

Combine both kinds of beans, tomatoes, chilies, corn, scallions, cumin, and oregano in a mixing bowl. Mix thoroughly.

Lightly oil a wide, 2-quart casserole dish and layer as follows: 5 tortillas, overlapping one another; half of the bean mixture; half of the cheese. Repeat layer, adding the onion mushroom mixture on top.

Bake the casserole for 15 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly. Let stand for a minute or two, then cut into wedges or squares to serve. Pass around salsa and optional vegan sour cream to top each serving.

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Do not be alarmed!  The white cheese is provolone, and the carrot-looking stuff is actually almond cheez.  It didn’t taste like much, but I was happy to be included in the cheese gang!