Tag Archives: vegetarian

Chipotle- Cheddar Kale Chips

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My love for kale chips borders on obsession. It’s probably illegal in most states. I’ve made several version of kale chips including plain salt and olive oil, sour cream and onion, and applewood smoked. These are my favorite yet and I just had to share!
I first started making kale chips in the oven, but after burning  them almost every time I decided to try a dehydrator. What a huge difference it makes! Now I can have kale chips that are crispy and crunchy but never burned, every time. Even when I forget about them and end up cooking them for almost 24 hours. Not only does the dehydrator save energy and preserve nutrients, but it’s also fool proof to use since it “cooks” so slowly that the amount of time doesn’t have to be exact.
But don’t let not having a dehydrator prevent you from trying these out. They are so ridiculously delicious and packed with nutrition that you will want to try them out. Kale haters have been known to fall in love with these chips. I have been known to forget to tell the husband I made these in order to keep them all for myself…

Kale is an excellent source of vitamins A,C, and K as well as a good source of minerals like calcium, iron, and manganese. Additionally, as a member of the Brassica Family (like broccoli, cabbage, and cauliflower), this veggie contains compounds which have been shown to inhibit cancer activity. So what are you waiting for?

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Chipotle-Cheddar Kale Chips:

- 1 bunch kale (curly varieties work best for kale chips, but lacinato will work too)

-3/4 cup raw cashews, preferably soaked for at least an hour

-1 chipotle chile in adobo sauce

-1 clove garlic, peeled

- 2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast (helps contribute to “cheesy flavor and is high in B vitamins)

- 1 Tablespoon olive oil

- 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar (lemon juice can be substituted)

- 1 teaspoon agave nectar

- scant 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste

- 1/3 to 1/2 cup water as needed for blending

Directions:

1. Wash and dry kale. Remove the tough stems and tear into bite sized pieces, placing them in a large bowl. There should be able 6-7 cups. It will look much smalled when it is dehydrated though!

2. Combine all other ingredients except water in a high speed blender. Add about 1/4 cup water and blend until smooth, adding more water as needed.

3. Pour the sauce over the kale and mix well. Distribute evenly among the trays of your dehydrator and dehydrate about 10-12 hours. I like to do this over night so I don’t feel like I have to wait so long.  OR you can bake these at about 250F for about an hour, or until crispy.

These can be stored in jars or plastic containers (just not bags- they may crumble) and make a great on-the-go snack. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Cherry Tomato Tart

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…Or “Welcoming fall with an end of summer bounty…”

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I realize I’ve been M.I.A for the past month… I expected my blog posts would slow down as school started for me, but I certainly intended to keep posting at least weekly. This month has just kept me pretty busy… beginning with visits from my sister the first weekend (so much fun!), making up for those days at work the next weekend (less fun!), camping at Silver Falls (beautiful!), running in the Race for the Cure, school and school related workshops,  and again making up extra work days…

Not to mention our C.S.A. was cancelled due to pests destroying the crops. I was pretty upset about this as it was supposed to go from June to November and only ended up going until August. We were also not given the items we were told we would biweekly such as local eggs and cheese after the first month. Of course you pay for these ahead of time and cannot get a refund, so this was a big financial loss for us. We had budgeted for our grocery bills to be lower after that initial investment and it’s been tough to stick to the numbers we should be. So we’ve been eating a lot of beans… And I’m all about frugal cooking but it’s not as fun to share when every meal is focused on cheap rather than achieving it’s full potential.

Additionally, I’ve been channeling my creative energy previously being used for cooking into other ventures… namely painting, ink drawing, and jewelry making. I have even replaced a good portion of my blog reading with Etsy ogling… If it weren’t for my time commitments at work and school, I’d gladly make time for both creative cooking and art making, but I just don’t have that much time in my day!

For some reason I have  had tarts on my mind the last few days… I was thinking of making some with the fresh figs I bought, but have been eating so many fresh that I may run out. While trying to decide what to make for dinner, I decided to use the plethora of tomatoes available to us…

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These cherry tomatoes are from our neighbor. He is growing more than he can eat and we are helping as best we can! Real tomatoes are truly divine… I can eat them like candy. They are sweet and juicy and taste like.. well, a tomato.  During the winter, I hate fresh tomatoes- those mealy and bland imposters don’t fool me.  I only buy them because Andrew likes them, but otherwise I simply use canned tomatoes for my winter cooking.

Anyhow, I thought it would be yummy to try a savory tart with cherry tomatoes. And I am sooo glad I did… Why do I always forget how delicious savory pastries are? I love that they provide the visual appeal of a dessert, while being filling and nourishing enough for a main course.

This tart is made with a gluten free crust, which I found to be quite rich and delicious, but you can substitute your favorite pie crust if you want. I used ground sunflower seeds as an adaptation of a crust recipe made with almond flour because they are much cheaper and work just as well in most recipes.

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Cherry Tomato Tart:

adapted from Marla

Crust:

*1.5 cups ground almonds, sunflower seeds, or a combination of both

*1/2 teaspoon sea salt

*1/4 cup olive oil

*1 tablespoon water

*fresh or dried herbs if desired such as basil, rosemary, oregano, or thyme (I used rosemary and oregano)

Filling:

*1 cup cottage cheese (I used fat free)

*1 egg

*1 large clove garlic

*herbs as desired

*1/4 teaspoon salt

*1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika

Topping:

*1-2 cups cherry tomatoes

*2 ounces goat cheese (or try fresh mozzarella, feta, or even cheddar)

*2 tablespoons parmesan

Directions:

1.)Preheat oven to 350F. Combine ingredients for crust and mix until well combined. Press mixture into a 9 inch tart shell or pie pan. Bake for about 10 minutes and let cool while you prepare the filling.

2.) Combine filling ingredients in food processor or use an immersion blender like I did.  You could also use ricotta instead of cottage cheese and mince the garlic and get away without blending it at all. Spread this mixture onto prepared tart shell and top with tomatoes in a pretty pattern. Sprinkle on the cheese and bake for about 25-30 minutes. You may wish to broil for a minute at the end to brown the cheese also.

Add a salad for a well rounded meal!

xo/Nikita

Lazy Day and Mexican Lasagna

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Hello lovelies! I apologize for taking so long to post again…I have been working a lot and generally feeling exhausted. I do have several posts I’m working on though!
What a long weekend it was for us! Andrew and I both work long hours on weekends, and this one especially full of… tedious and unpleasant extras. Riding my bike to work three days in a row was tiring, especially in the dark after working 12 hours. After attending a 60 year high school reunion. I was kinda excited, curious since I’ve only been out of high school 5 years. Andrew said “That sounds like it will be depressing and boring.” I said “It will be fun! I get to wear a dress!” And… it was boring and depressing. And I was overdressed. As if being in a room full of people 3 to 4 times my age didn’t make me feel out of place enough.
I don’t mean to complain. I am really lucky to be employed at all and generally enjoy my job. Sometimes it’s just lonely… I used to think I was such a loner. Not antisocial, but not especially social. But there’s nothing like moving to the other side of the country away from all your friends and family and then landing one of the few jobs in which you really don’t interact on a normal human level with anybody to make you realize how socially needy I am.
Monday I was completely taking it easy. I had some things that need to be done, such as returning books, mailing things, phone calls. I walked for my errands and did some light yoga. Otherwise I just did as much relaxing as possible. I worked on some jewelry and spent time with Andrew. We watched Breaking Bad and I made Mexican Lasagna. Good, lazy times. Just what we both needed!
I have made many incarnations of Mexican Lasagna and it is one of Andrew’s favorite dishes. This version is vegetarian and gluten-free.

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Mexican Lasagna:

Ingredients:

*12 6 inch corn torillas

*2 cups salsa (I use cheapo brands for this, save the fancy stuff for something else)

*1 8 oz can tomato sauce

*1 tablespoon olive oil
*1 cup diced onion

*1/2 red bell pepper, diced

*1 green chile, minced (optional- leave out if you don’t like it hot!)

*1 clove garlic, minced

*1.5 cups cooked pinto or black beans

*2 cups lowfat or fat free cottage cheese

*1 egg
*1-2 cups shredded pepper jack or sharp cheddar cheese
*minced fresh cilantro and green onion for garnish (optional)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400F. Pour 1/2 cup salsa into a large casserole dish, spreading evenly. Combine the cottage cheese with the egg, mixing thoroughly, and set aside.
2. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat and add the onions, bell and chile pepper, and garlic. Saute until softened. Add the beans, remaining 1.5 cups salsa, and tomato sauce and cook until heated through.

3. Now you are ready to begin layering! Lay 4 torillas on the bottom of your dish, overlapping slightly. Top with 2 cups bean-vegetable mixture, then 1 cup cottage cheese mixture, then 1/2 to 1 cup shredded cheese. Repeat this layering, leaving out the shredded cheese (save it for the final topping). Layer on your last four tortillas, last bean-veggie mixture, and the remaining shredded cheese.

4. Bake uncovered for 35-40 minutes. Let stand at least 15 minutes before cutting for best (neatest!) results! Top with cilantro and sliced green onion if desired.

We ate our fill of this, kept some in the fridge, and put some in the freezer. This weekend I had two freezer meals that I had made already waiting for me to just heat up after work and it was great! I don’t get home until 7:30- 7:45 pm and am covered in sweat after my uphill bike ride home. The last thing I feel like doing is cooking! This way I can get home and heat dinner up while I shower! So much better!

xo/Nikita

 


Miso-Ginger Fried Rice with Nori Strips

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I can hardly contain my excitement- in just a matter of days, my best friend is moving across the country and we will be neighbors! To prepare I have been practicing my gluten-free baking skills (she recently discovered she is gluten intolerant). I am dying to share a super simple muffin recipe I made that the husband literally wrote me a love letter for, but I this fried rice has been nagging at me to be shared for awhile now so here we go…

I’m really more of a stir-fry girl than fried rice… Indeed, I’m not typically drawn to things with the word “fried” in the description. My husband, however, loves anything fried and orders fried rice almost every time we go to an Asian restaurant of any sort. So I tried making fried rice at home, using the method in which the eggs are cracked into the pan and scrambled/ cooked into the vegetables, but I could never learn to like that texture. Finally, I read about a different method of cooking the eggs separately on Heidi’s  site, and it revolutionized my fried rice!

Once I learn a really good method of cooking something, it’s much easier to create recipe variations on the fly. To be completely honest, I don’t think I’ve ever made the same stir-fry or fried rice twice. Both of these can be made with almost whatever produce is on hand and can be made quickly- huge bonuses in this house! I have been making a lot of these types of dishes with our CSA goods. They also both rely on a method of cooking tofu that I adhere to for many dishes.

Forgiving as this recipe is, there are a few things that I think really make it stand out: Besides the method of cooking the tofu and eggs, I like to use brown basmati rice- I buy it in bulk at Costco and am absolutely in love with it. It has the flavor and aroma of basmati, with the nutrition of brown rice. It is nice and fluffy, not sticky like some brown rice can be.  I also like a combination of coconut and sesame oil for cooking. Coconut oil and sesame oil both have strong flavors and a little goes a long way. You can use another oil instead, I frequently do, but it doesn’t pack quite the same punch. Lastly, I add a bit of liquid such as broth or juice mixed with soy sauce at the end. The addition of the liquid reduces the amount of oil you will need to “fry” the rice.

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Miso-Ginger Fried Rice with Nori Strips:

*2 1/2 cups cooked and cooled rice or other grain such as quinoa or barley

*7 oz. (1/2 package) tofu, cubed and cooked (*see instructions below)

*2 large eggs, preferably free-range organic

*2 1/2 cups chopped vegetables (this batch included chopped red onion, julienned carrots, chopped broccoli, sliced cabbage, and shitake mushrooms. Last week we had snow peas- my favorite!)

*2 teaspoons sesame oil

*1- 1 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil

*1/4 cup orange juice

*4-6 tablespoons soy sauce (or tamari for a gluten-free version)

*1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger

*1 tablespoon white miso

*1 small clove garlic, minced

*1/2 sheet nori, cut into strips (toasting gives an even better flavor, but careful not to burn it!)

Directions:

1. Begin by making the sauce, combining orange juice, ginger, garlic, miso, 2-4 tablespoons soy sauce (depending on how salty you want it). You can use this sauce to braise the tofu as well, or you can use plain soy sauce.

2. Next, prepare the eggs: Heat 2 teaspoons sesame oil in your skillet or wok. Beat two eggs with a pinch of salt and pour into wok. Cook until almost set, then flip and cook a minute more. Cool and slice into strips.

3. Heat 2 teaspoons coconut oil in wok and add the onions, cooking a few minutes before adding the other vegetables. When the vegetables are tender-crisp, add the rice. Stir to mix evenly and cook until heated through. Add the tofu and egg, then pour the sauce in. Stir and cook until liquid is absorbed.

4. Serve hot, garnished with nori strips.

*Ah tofu… It has such a bad rep among the general population, yet it really has such potential! I still remember my first time trying to cook tofu… I was in 8th grade. I bought some silken tofu and tried to cube and saute it in a pan. It crumbled all over and was flavorless and awful! I now use tofu in a variety of dishes, cooked in different manners, but when I make stir-fry or fried rice or sometimes even a curry, I use this method:

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1. Begin with the right tofu. Buy the firmest regular tofu you can find. Extra Firm if you can find it. And don’t use silken tofu for this!

2. Press the tofu. Layer a few paper towels on a big plate, set the block of tofu on top, layer a few more paper towels, then another plate and finally something heavy like a text book to set on top of the plate. Leave for at least 30 minutes or overnight in the fridge. This will help remove excess water so that the tofu can absorb more flavor. When the tofu has drained, cut it into 1/2 – 3/4 inch cubes.

3. Heat a little oil (2 teaspoons should be plenty) in a wok or large nonstick skillet. I really like to use coconut oil here for the flavor and the high heat properties , but you can use what you have on hand. Add the tofu and cook until golden brown on two or more sides, flipping the pieces after a few minutes to cook evenly. This should take about 8 minutes.

4. Now here is the important part: Prepare 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, with or without seasonings such as garlic, ginger, chile, or a hint of something sweet like agave or orange juice. Drizzle this into the pan with the crisped tofu, coating as evenly as possible and stir until all liquid is absorbed.

I’m going to be working a long stretch starting tomorrow… I like to have either super simple or make ahead meals when I work long days. Any ideas for a make ahead or quick dinner?

xo/Nikita

Pupusas De Queso- My Accidental Salvadoran Treat

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The theme when planning our meals this week was “use up what we have.” While I need fresh produce on a weekly basis, pantry staples like beans and grains have a much longer shelf life, and also a tendency to be forgotten once their role in a particular recipe is over.

I was brainstorming ways to use up some pinto beans, which I had purchased a very large quantity of when my grocery store was selling them for $0.30/lb (!), and some masa harina, the type of flour used to make tortillas and tamales. I had a bag of this from when I made tamales back in May. I was thinking I could make tortillas with it and turn these into quesadillas to serve with some refried beans. Simple and easy, right? Maybe too simple for me- it sounded boring. What if I stuff the tortillas with cheese before cooking them? Now that sounds more like a fun dish!

I sauteed a diced jalepeno with some sliced green onion, mixed it with some chevre, tucked this inside two uncooked tortillas, and cooked this on a pan with a little olive oil. What a fun new twist on Mexican food!

Well it turns out, I was only half way right about that. They are fun (and oh so tasty), but a quick google search of “stuffed tortillas” prior to writing this proved that this little snack was not my own invention, but rather a variation on a popular Salvadoran dish called “Pupusas de Queso.” That being said, keep in mind that my recipe doesn’t attempt to be faithful to tradition. (The recipe that I found from my search my from a site called Herbavoracious, and the recipe can be found here if you want to check it out- it’s a pretty awesome site!)

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Spiced Tortillas Stuffed with Queso-Chile Filling:

(Vegetarian and gluten-free as is. For a vegan version fill with vegan cheese or refried beans)

Makes 4-6 stuffed tortillas

For the dough:

*1 cup masa harina (a flour of gound corn treated with lime that can be found in the ethnic founds section of most supermarkets)

*1 teaspoon each: ground cumin and smoked paprika

*1/2 teaspoon salt

*1 teaspoon baking powder

*1 tablespoon olive oil, plus a little extra for greasing the pan

*1 cup hot water

For the filling:

*1 jalepeno, minced

*3-4 green onions, sliced

*1 teaspoon olive oil

*1/2 cup crumbled chevre, queso fresco, grated cheddar, or a mixture of these. (I used chevre in mine, a mixture of chevre and cheddar in Andrew’s.)

Directions:

1. To make the dough, combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl and mix with a fork. Pour in the 3/4 cup of the hot water and olive oil and mix with the fork. The dough should hold together but not be too sticky. You should be able to form a little ball in your hand with out it crumbling too much or sticking. If it crumbles, add a little more water, slowly, until the desired consistency is achieved. Divide mixture into 8,10, or 12 equal portions and roll into balls. Cover these with a damp cloth while you prepare the filling.

2. Saute the minced jalepeno and the white part of the green onion (reserve the green parts) in the olive oil until softened. Tranfer to a small dish and stir in the green parts.

3. On a sheet of waxed paper, flatten the balls of masa dough into disks, about 1/4 inch thick. You can use you hands to do this, but if you own a tortilla press, you could use this too, just be sure not to flatten them as thin as a traditional tortilla. Divide the chile-onion mixture equally among half of the masa disks, then top with about 1.5- 2 tablespoons cheese each. Cover the filled halves with a plain masa disk and press the edges to seal.

4. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and coat with cooking spray or a teaspoon of olive oil. Transfer 2-3 filled tortillas to the skillet (depending on how large your skillet in and how large your tortillas are) and cook about 4-5 minutes on each side, or until crispy and golden brown. Transfer to a plate lined with a paper towel while you cook the second batch.

Serve with salsa, cilantro pesto, guacamole or sour cream. Round out the meal with a side of pinto or black beans and a fresh green salad.

I served mine with salsa, but used some of my leftover pesto to make a salad dressing by thinning in down with fresh lime juice! The salad consisted of organic greens from our CSA, avocado, green onion, and these beautiful heirloom tomatoes I found:

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Look at that color! If you haven’t tried heirloom tomatoes, they are worth seeking out! I think they tend to be more flavorful than many conventional tomatoes today, and they are definitely nicer to look at!

Enjoy!

xo/ Nikita

Grills Just Want to Have Fun…

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Believe it or not, I actually crack myself up.

Recently it has been quite warm here (gasp!) and we have not wanted to turn on the oven. The previous tenants of our little apartment left a small and dirty grill that has been mostly unused: The work of cleaning it off hasn’t seemed worth it to Andrew, and for me… well grills have always kinda scared me. By scared I mean… seem pointless. Why not use the broiler? But I’ve changed my mind!

On the fourth, we decided to have some friends over for food and drinks. I made boozy watermelon slushies, two kinds of grilled pizza, and grilled potato packets. People brought things also, such as mahi-mahi and some brats. I was a little nervous to grill a pizza, but oh.my.god. they turned out so good! Even the pickiest eaters enjoyed them and everyone kept telling me how good they are. Success! I imagine any pizza recipe could be used. I made a red sauce-mozzarella-roasted veggie and a pesto-mozzarella-chevre-roasted veggie. To my surprise, the pesto pizza was the overall favorite! Of course the chevre may have been a big part of that also… Anyhow, I did not get a chance to snap a photo of the pesto pizza, but here is the other:

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The picture does not do it justice. You have to trust me that it was fantastic :)

So how does one grill a pizza? Glad you asked…

Grilled Pizza:

Begin by making your crust. You can use store bought, or your favorite recipe. I used this, adapted from a baking book I have:

Pizza Crust (makes 2)

*1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour

*1 3/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour (you could try all whole wheat, but I knew I was cooking for a crowd and wanted to make sure the texture was on target)

*1 teaspoon sea salt

*2 teaspoons active dry yeast

*1 1/4 cup warm water

*2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for brushing

*cornmeal for dusting, optional

Directions:

Combine flours and salt in large mixing bowl. Make a well and add water, yeast, and oil. Let stand 15 minutes to dissolve.

Stir until just combined, then transfer to a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. Avoid adding too much flour while kneading.

Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover loosely. Let rise about 45 minutes.

You can prepare the toppings at this point. A sauce of some kind, maybe cheese, and some veggies. I recommend cooking veggies first, since they do not get heated from the top as they would in an oven. I roasted mine on the grill.

Meanwhile, fire up the grill.

Divide the dough into two equal portions and roll out into smooth, thin rounds. I use about a tablespoon of cornmeal to keep it from sticking to the counter at this point, which has the added benefit of imparting a pleasant crunch and flavor to the final product.

Now comes the fun part: Lightly brush the dough with olive oil and transfer to a couple sheets of foil. Place the whole dough and foil on the grill. It should puff up a bit and begin to brown on the bottom. Flip it over after about 5-10 minutes to lightly brown the other side.

Remove the crust and add your toppings to it: Sauce, cheese, veggies. Then put it back on the grill for about 10 more minutes, until cheese it melted and everything is hot. Remove from grill, slice, and serve. Thats it!

Chipotle Barbecue Tempeh

A couple days after our holiday grilling success, I wanted to play with the grill again! I Chipotle Barbecue sauce and coated some tempeh with it before grilling it. (There is also grilled corn on the cob in the above picture- super easy, just soak it in water for at least 30 minutes before tossing on the grill whole!)

The barbecue sauce was out of this world though! We used it on some lentil burgers last night also and it was great! It has quite a bit of heat from the chipotles, so if you dont like too much spice, you may want to cut back. Andrew and I loved it as is.

Chipotle Barbecue Sauce:

*1 cup ketchup

*1/2 onion, coarsely chopped

*2 cloves garlic

*1 can chipotle chilis in adobo sauce

*2 tablespoons brown sugar

*1 tablespoon soy sauce

*1 teaspoon mustard

*salt to taste

Directions:

Combine onion, garlic, and chipotles in food processor and process until smooth. You could also finely chop these by hand, but using a food processor makes a smoother texture and less mess on your hands!

Combine the pureed mixture with the rest of the ingredients in a small pan over low-medium heat and simmer 10-15 minutes to take the raw edge off the garlic and onion and meld the flavors. Makes about 2 cups.

Chipotle Barbecue Tempeh:

Slice tempeh (you could also use tofu) into large pieces and place in a container or plastic bag. Pour enough BBQ sauce to cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, preferably overnight or all day.

After heating up the grill, tempeh can be placed either directly on the grill or over foil on the grill. Foil will help keep all the sauce from dripping off and keep the grill cleaner. Grill about 15 minutes total, turning every five minutes or so and spreading on more BBQ sauce as it gets drier. It should be crisp and slightly charred in spots when done. Serve with more sauce!

What are some other great uses for BBQ sauce? I had never really used it much because I’ve been a vegetarian for so long and it is usually something associated with meat. I used it on lentil burgers and as a dip for pretzels. Any other suggestions?

xo/ Nikita

Tamale Tutorial: Authentic Recipe Reworked

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Tamales are a near and dear to my heart. They were always served at major holiday get togethers and handmade with care by my abuela. Of course, she made them with traditional ingredients like lard and meat fillings. I have adapted mine to be vegetarian or vegan friendly, while preserving as much authenticity as possible. When I was in high school, I was entrusted with the task of learning how to make them. I wrote everything down on a couple little pieces of paper. Seven years later and 2200 miles away, I was amazed when I found this while cleaning:

The original recipe! Complete with a diagram!

Seriously, I don’t know how it got here, but I took it as a sign that I needed to make some tamales asap.

I’m not going to lie. Making tamales is not for sissies. There is a reason why these are a fiesta food, not a lazy weeknight cooking food. They take time! But they are oh so rewarding… delicious and homey yet fancy enough to impress your friends :)

I decided to prep my fillings the night before I planned to serve them. Tamales are usually filled with meat, but you can really put anything you can imagine in them. My abuela used to make some filled with pinto beans for me (she understood that I didn’t eat meat, but never got the whole lard thing…) and she also made cinnamon raisin ones. I decided on a Spinach and Cheese filling and a Chipotle-Kissed Pinto Bean filling.

Popeye would be proud

Spinach and Cheese:

1 small onion, minced

1 Tbsp olive oil

10 frozen chopped spinach (thawed)

1 teaspoon oregano

1/2 teaspoon cumin

6 oz queso fresco

1-2 oz chevre

1-2 Tbsp parmesan

1 Tbsp lemon juice

salt and pepper

Directions:

Saute the onion in oil until translucent. Add the spinach, oregano, and cumin and season with salt and pepper. You may also need to add about 1/4 cup water or broth to keep it from drying out. Cook about 5 minutes and remove from heat. Let cool a few more minutes before adding the crumbled queso fresco, chevre, parmesan, and lemon juice. Stir to combine and either use right away or refrigerate for later use.

Chipotle-Kissed Pinto Bean

Ingredients:

1. 5 cups cooked pinto beans (or about 15 oz can)

1 small onion, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 cup canned tomatoes with green chiles

2 Tbsp chopped chipotle chiles in adobo sauce (the rest freezes beautifully for later use)

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke

salt and pepper

Directions:

Saute onion until translucent, then add garlic and saute a few minutes more. Add remaining ingredients and simmer until thickened. You can mash them up a bit to thicken them, but leave them chunky for the best texture in the tamale. Again, use now or refrigerate for later.

Ready to begin working on the dough? Get your hojas soaking! Soak hojas in hot water while you prepare the dough. Corn husks are traditional, as are banana leaves in some areas. In a pinch, tin foil will do the trick too, but it wont be as cute.

Hojas

Now for making the dough:

*For truly authentic tamales, you would soak a dried ancho chili in water overnight, and blend it in the morning to add to the dough. My abuela told me this was just for color, not flavor because the ancho is so mild, but I disagree! It has a subtle kick and adds a more complex note to the masa. It can be left out, but its worth it if you can find dried anchos.*

*This recipe makes about 35-40 tamales. That may sound like a lot, but you can always freeze leftovers (before cooking)*

Masa Dough:

Combine dry ingredients:

6 cups masa harina

1 Tbsp baking powder

1 Tbsp salt

1 Tbsp tumeric (something I discovered also gives a nice color. Use double if you could not locate anchos)

Combine fats (beat until smooth):

1 cup butter, softened

1 cup coconut oil, softened

*for vegan tamales, use all coconut oil*

Blend your chile up, if using. Add the dry ingredients to the fats and add the blended chile plus warm water as needed to make the dough soft and pliable. It should not be crumbly, but it shouldn’t be too wet either. This might take about 1.5- 2.5 more cups of water.

Now you’re ready to start assembling the tamales!

1. Lay soften corn husk on a flat surface and spread about 2 heaping Tbsp of masa dough onto it.

2. Spread a scant Tbsp of filling in a line down the middle of this.

3. Now roll the tamale length wise, THEN tuck the end, and secure with a slim strip of corn husk.


4. Holy crap! now all you have to do is cook them! Steam these babies for about 15 minutes.You will have to do this in batches unless you have a ginormous steamer.

5. Serve with salsa (I made a roasted tomatillo green salsa to accompany),  regular or tofu sour cream or greek yogurt, cilantro pesto, jalepeno hummus- hey go crazy. Your worked hard and deserve to have a little fun!