Thursday, May 31, 2012

Portobello and Eggplant Tacos

Please oh please click on the picture for a bigger shot. It's so pretty.

This truly genius idea came about when I asked Rich one night what he wanted for dinner and he said eggplant, and this eggplant jambalaya dish we make (that will make its way on here eventually...) just wasn't doing it for us. Rich introduced me to the vegetarian taco at Fred's Mexican Cafe here in Old Town and I've ordered it every time since then: portobello mushroom, eggplant, corn, avocado and cotija cheese. So. Frickin. Good. 

And then the lightbulb went off and we realized we can make them. OURSELVES! It was every bit as good as we imagined and then some, and they turned out even better than the ones in the restaurant (if we do say so ourselves). The only disappointment was preparing a whole cookie tray of veggies thinking it would be more than enough, and it so wasn't. We're fat kids... I should have known. But we had leftover raw veggies so this was also lunch the next day, and I have a feeling we'll be eating this again soon and frequently.

Portobello mushrooms
Mexican cheese (cotija, pepper jack)
Seasonings (garlic, salt and pepper)

Chop the eggplant and mushrooms to thick bite sized pieces and spread on a cookie sheet with the corn.  Cover everything with a healthy coating of your seasonings, and flip or stir so the seasons get on all sides. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes on each side, flipping once.

Once the veggies are done to your liking (the mushrooms get a little brown and juicy) warm your tortillas and spoon the mixture into them. Top with avocado, shredded cheese and a tiny spoonful of salsa. 

We had enough veggies prepared for each of us to have four tacos, but that still wasn't enough. These were so good. So good, in fact, that here's another photo just to showcase the delicious goodness that these tacos are. 

Are the skies opening up and angels singing? I realize this is tooting my own horn quite a bit but they really are fantastic; the ingredients work together perfectly. This would be even better with roasted corn from the cob. Next time!

Total cost: ~$10 (essentially feeds 4)
Total cook time: ~35 minutes

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Five Layer Dip

This should have been a six layer dip, but I forgot the salsa, and the bottom layer was, like, 7 layers in and of itself thanks to the joy that is leftovers. 

I seriously love leftovers. We know people who do not like leftovers, and to us they're just crazy. Sometimes the best part about a meal is the leftovers (hello, turkey sandwiches the day after Thanksgiving?), especially when that meal gets to marinate in itself overnight, becoming even more flavorful and delicious. 

The bottom layer of this bean dip is actually the rest of the stuffed bell peppers we made last week, which were bomb (go check out that recipe, it's amazing). Basically beans, rice, tomatoes, soyrizo and a ton of spices. And corn, I'm pretty sure there's corn in there.

This photo does a much better job of showcasing the layers:
Bean mixture
Sour cream
Cilantro (not pictured... it didn't occur to me until right before eating it to use cilantro)

Just goes to show that every bit can be used and reused. We threw this together in about 5 minutes; it would have taken 10 if I wasn't lazy and actually mashed the avocado into guac with some tomatoes, but it worked this way.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Stuffed Bell Peppers

Even though stuffed bell peppers should be the easiest fancy dish ever, this took us a couple tries to get right. The first time I was going off of several different internet recipes that all said to use uncooked rice, so I also used uncooked rice despite thinking it wasn't going to work. I was right and it did not work. Rich still says the first try was great, except for the rice, but I couldn't get past the hundreds of hard little uncooked rice grains... so the second time around I cooked the rice first.

Bell peppers
Soyrizo (or ground meat)
Cheese (pepper jack and Colby work really well)
Worcestershire sauce
Green onions
Black beans
Canned tomatoes
Canned diced peppers
Whatever else sounds good, honestly

This is a prettier photo than boiling rice, even if the step is useless.

All of the other internet recipes said to boil the bell peppers for five minutes to get the skins softer and more prepared to be baked, but the second time around we skipped this step and it didn't make any difference whatsoever. I'd say skip this step for the sake of time and all that water. Instead, use that water to boil your rice!

Cook the soyrizo! Seriously, soyrizo is the best meat-ish thing to put in a stuffed bell pepper. It has such a great flavor on its own that it imparts to the dish as a whole that ground beef or even ground turkey just won't be able to match. Go generous with the soyrizo because there's plenty of other ingredients that'll try to steal its thunder.

Add the diced onion (like, half the onion), chopped garlic, and for funzies some chopped bell pepper. I'm pretty sure there's some diced eggplant in this photo too... these two tries taught us that it really doesn't matter what you stuff inside a bell pepper as long as it tastes good to you.

 This mix is good all on its own.

Add the canned tomatoes, diced tomatoes, canned diced peppers (or diced jalapenos), black beans, corn, cilantro, green onions, Worcestershire sauce (about a table spoon), whatever seasonings you like, and mushrooms, if you like them cooked. I prefer fresh mushrooms so they were more garnish than ingredient.

Hollowed peppers

Cut out and clean the bell peppers. You can do them two ways: like a bucket, above, or like boats, below. The first time we used buckets because the peppers were small and were able to stand up on their own (you could also cut portions off the bottom to help them stand upright), but the second time we did it boat style because they were much bigger and more weirdly shaped. I like boat style best because it's easier to eat.


Spoon the delicious goodness that you've prepared (remember to mix the rice in) into your bell peppers. Fill those guys up to the brim and get the mix into the little crannies that bell peppers have. If you're doing them bucket style pack it in 'till it's almost overflowing. We also mixed some shredded cheese into the mix before stuffing the bell peppers to make it creamier.

Cheesey bell peppers

Top with cheese! The blend of Colby/Cheddar with pepper jack cheese is really pretty and it melts perfectly and the tastes complement each other. The meltyness helps keep the goods in the pepper.


Here are cheesy stuffed bell peppers boat style. These stood up in an 8x8 baking dish. (Because we're fatties, we each ate two... but when properly prepared and with rice they can be a meal on their own.)

That one has a chipotle cheese that I wanted to try. Yum.

Line the dish with foil (though I'm not sure what that does) and set up the bell peppers so that they won't move around. We fit 6 large halves together in a 13x9 baking dish. Cover the whole thing with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Check on them and if they look like they need a bit longer keep them in the oven another 10 minutes.

Maybe top with some mushrooms, or cilantro, or green onion and DIG IN. This is a super hearty meal that's surprisingly healthy and pretty impressive if you're going to serve a group (you could make a big pot of the mix ahead of time and bake the peppers right before guests arrive). Yum!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Costco Churro

Lunch of champions.

OK, so I didn't make this. But I did buy it and I did eat it and it was delicious, so here it is. My breakfast was kefir milk with strawberries and blackberries and by noon I was starving and polished off my measly salad (with lettuce I don't really care for and a dressing that does a poor job mimicking the one I want but can't find). If I had to sit there the rest of the day thinking about when I would be able to eat next (not for at least five whole hours plus grocery shopping on an empty stomach?) I wouldn't have gotten any work done. 

So on my lunch break I hopped down the road to Costco and spent $1.78 on a churro and a soda. And I was happy. :) 

Hey, this is "we should be fat," right?