Mushroom-Walnut Tacos with Queso

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January 29, 2015 By

The idea for these tacos came in bits and pieces. I guess it started a few weeks ago  when my soon-to-be brother-in-law was telling me how mushrooms are the umami, or savory part, of vegan dishes. He’s right! Mushrooms have volume, can easily absorb flavors, and ooze juices when cooked just right.

Fast forward to that special time of month when my stomach becomes a dumping ground from all the crap I stuff my face with. Okay, I’m exaggerating a tad, but the cravings were a bit out of control this month. I was obsessed with this Dairy-Free Dorito Popcorn recipe from Whole New Mom.

I thought about that perfect spice blend nonstop that week. Then, it came to me: “This would be a delicious taco seasoning.” That thought, plus the thought of the savoriness of mushrooms, led me conceive this dreamy meal. The “meat” here is full of flavor and has a great consistency!

Don’t get me wrong; I looove black bean tacos. However, it’s difficult to incorporate taco seasoning in black beans. They’re just not the absorbent type.

Try this recipe and you will not be disappointed. In fact, you might be obsessed like I am.

 

Mushroom-Walnut Tacos with Queso

Click here for a print-out version of this recipe!

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 10-20 minutes

Yield: 8 tacos

 

Ingredients

For the Mushroom-Walnut Meat:

  • 2 large portobello mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, crushed (but not minced)
  • 4 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • a dash of cayenne pepper (optional)

For the Queso:

  • 1/2 cup raw cashews, milled in the blender or food processor
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup coconut milk
  • 1/8 cup grape seed oil

Additional Ingredients/Toppings:

  • Taco shells/tortillas (I used mini corn tortillas to keep it gluten-free)
  • tomatoes
  • red onion
  • spinach
  • avocado

 

Step 1: Prepare the toppings.

I’m trying to get more organized in the kitchen by chopping the little stuff first.

I got an EXTREMELY rare, beautiful picture of my cockatiel Fleegle here. I was taking pictures of my chopped fruits and veggies, and Fleegle flew over to see what was going on. As soon as I snapped this picture, he flew away, leaving me with a lovely picture of his wingspan! I’ve never seen the details of his underwing, and it’s so beautiful!

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Step 2: Blend/mix/cook the meat.

I like to start with the spices. Since nutritional yeast is made with flakes, I like to put all the spices in the blender together at once. That way, all the spices are evenly distributed and fused together.

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After that, throw the mushrooms in the food processor until the mushrooms are in tiny pieces.

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Are your walnuts crushed yet? If so, do that now. Make sure your walnuts are decent chunks. I lightly crushed mine with the handle of my cutting knife.

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Mix the spices, mushrooms, and walnuts together in a bowl. There’s your meat!

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Throw the meat on a skillet set at medium heat. Stir/flip the meat every minute or so for about 10-12 minutes. You’ll start to see the meat become more crumbly; this is jackpot, people.

No, you're not looking at poop in a ramekin. It's deliciousness in a ramekin.

No, you’re not looking at poop in a ramekin. It’s deliciousness in a ramekin.

Step 3: Blend your queso.

The queso can be made in 5 minutes while the taco meat is cooking (as long as you keep stirring the meat every minute or so).

Start by placing only the cashews in the blender/food processor. Blend until the cashews are in tiny bits or like cashew meal.

 

Post milling

Post milling

After that, toss or pour the rest of the cashew cheese ingredients in the blender/food processor and blend until all ingredients turn into liquid gold.

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Step 4: Prepare your taco shells.

If you’re using corn tortillas like I did, you’re going to need to fry them on the pan on medium heat. I used a tiny bit of coconut oil for every tortilla I used. The tortillas fried for about 2 minutes on each side.

For those of you that are baking your tortillas in the oven, follow the packaged directions to do that.

For those of you eating soft flour tortillas, you may happily be on your merry way to Step #5… asshole. What? I didn’t say anything. Okay, I’m just super jealous, alright? Sorry.

 

Step 5: Assemble your tacos.

Oh yay! This is the fun part! Will you put on the leafy greens first, or the meat? Who cares? It’s up to you!

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If you like what you see, you might want to do the following:

  • Follow me on Instagram @thisvegangirl. I post my day-to-day meals there. If you try one of my recipes, I love when you post a picture and tag me!
  • Like me on Facebook for quick updates on new recipes.
  • Follow my board on Pinterest to see what’s pinspiring me.
  • Comment below!

 

¡Olé!

thisvegangirllogo

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Quesadillas with Monterey Jack Cashew Cheese

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July 27, 2014 By

I have been going a little crazy over cashew cheese lately. I was avoiding it for a little while. I think that’s because perfecting the taste of cashew cheese takes a lot of experimentation, and I’m someone who likes to get it right the first time.

About a week ago, I decided to put my ego aside and took a stab at making the first vegan quesadilla I’ve ever attempted to make… with cashew cheese. DUN DUN DUN. My first attempt created the texture I wanted, but the quesadilla as a whole was a bit dry. Next time, I added more cheese to moisten it up, but the taste didn’t wow me.

The third time was a charm with this one, which is what you’ll be viewing today (and hopefully trying yourself later)! I have to give it up to my once aquaintence, now friend, Nutritional Yeast. You really pull your weight in creating the cheese flavor. I must say, however, that the true star of this post goes to Smoked Paprika. Smoked Paprika was the key ingredient I needed to make me say, “Oh my God. This tastes like a real quesadilla.” out loud.  Nutritional Yeast and Smoked Paprika, you two make a GREAT COUPLE, and you have earned a permanent spot in my spice collection! Congrats!

Quesadillas with Monterey Jack Cashew Cheese

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 4 whole quesadillas

 

Ingredients:

For Monterey Jack Cashew Cheese:

  • 1 cup of raw cashews (soaked for 8 hours, then drained, OR milled)
  • 4 tbs nutritional yeast
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup grape seed oil

Other Ingredients Needed:

  • 8 flour tortillas (for GF, corn tortillas and GF tortillas both work perfectly)
  • 1 15oz can of organic & vegetarian refried beans
  • red onion, diced
  • tomatoes, diced
  • red pepper, diced

 

Step 1: Blend the raw cashews.

Let’s get the most difficult part out of the way first, and that’s the cashew cheese. I have a NutriBullet, which has a milling blade that grinds cashews to a flour without the need for soaking. (Seriously people, buy a NutriBullet. They’re the best.) I believe a coffee grinder will do the job, as well. For the non-soakers, blend your cashews first before adding the rest of the ingredients.

Pre milling

Pre milling

Post milling

Post milling

For most of you, you will need to soak your cashews for 8 hours prior to making this meal. Once the soaking is over, drain your cashews. Make sure you have a strong blender or food processor to avoid chunks of wet cashews (ew). For the soakers, you’ll probably need blend the cashews and coconut milk first before adding the rest of the ingredients.

 

Step 2: Blend the rest of the cashew cheese ingredients.

Blend ingredients until you have a smooth, thick consistency. This cheese is really thick and oozy. It makes a huge mess in whatever it’s being blended in!

Messy!

Messy!

Put the cashew cheese to the side.

Mmmm… I can't wait to eat you.

Mmmm… I can’t wait to eat you.

 

Step 3: Prepare tortillas, refried beans, and vegetables.

Start with the bottom tortilla. Add 1-2 generous spoonfuls of refried beans on top, spreading it around evenly with the back of the spoon.

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For non-GFers, I am currently in love with Trader Joe’s Habañero Lime Tortillas!

Next, add your vegetables. I didn’t specify specific amounts because it’s your preference!

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Step 4: Spread cashew cheese on top tortilla.

Add 2-3 generous spoonfuls of cashew cheese on top of the tortilla that hasn’t been used yet.

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Now, take the top tortilla and make it “kiss” the bottom tortilla. Pat it down gently so everything sticks.

MUAH!

MUAH!

Here was Matt's gluten-free corn tortilla. :)

Here was Matt’s gluten-free corn tortilla. 🙂

Step 5: Bake.

Bake your tortillas in the oven at 400 degrees for about 7-10 minutes. Keep a close eye on your quesadillas, as every tortilla is different and unpredictable.

Just ask my toaster oven, which is now covered in soot after a tortilla incident a few weeks ago. It caught on fire while toasting a tortilla. I swear, sometimes, I wonder if I really should be the person behind a food blog.

Anyway, just make sure the tortillas are crispy enough to hold their own, but by no means burnt. Okay?

 

Step 6: Slice and serve!

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Look at the oozy cheese! It’s so exciting!

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I enjoyed these quesadillas with a Mexican side-dish favorite, Fiesta Potatoes. Click here to get the recipe.

If you happen to try this recipe and have Instagram, take a picture of your quesadilla and use the hashtag #thisvegangirl so I can see your wonderful creation. Don’t forget to add me at thisvegangirl, as I update my IG every day.

This is just the beginning of my cashew cheese journey! Stay tuned, everyone!

 

Happy cooking,

thisvegangirllogo

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Mexican Stuffed Peppers

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April 19, 2014 By

I’ll admit that throughout my life, I’ve never loved stuffed peppers. It was never made for me as a child. In fact, peppers in general haven’t been a member of my  craving palate.

That is, until recently. A friend of mine made stuffed peppers for me, and I liked it. No, I really liked it! Why were my previous attempts to enjoy stuffed peppers so sour? It was a food epiphany.

It was your traditional stuffed pepper, complete with a grain stuffing and tomato sauce on top. But after my friend told me she made Soy Sauce stuffed peppers once, it got my mind reeling of all the possibilities a stuffed pepper could become. I bet there could be a stuffed pepper for every type of cuisine, I thought. I got right to work.

The Mexican Stuffed Pepper was my first creation, and it was love at first bite.  I even got my nose-in-the-air anti-stuffed-pepper boyfriend to jump on board with it. We paired it with Fiesta Potatoes, which will be featured soon.

 

Mexican Stuffed Peppers

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 1 hour total

Yield: 4-5 stuffed peppers (the pictures feature 2 stuffed peppers, but I’ve done the kindness of doubling the recipe for you)

 

Ingredients:

  • 4-5 red peppers, cored and seeded
  • 1 cup of quinoa
  • 1 can of organic vegan refried beans (I use Amy’s)
  • 1 can of organic black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup of grape tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/2 cup of onions, chopped
  • 1 can of salsa
  • 1 avocado, chopped, as garnish (optional)

 

STEP 1: Prepare the quinoa by boiling 2 cups of water and 1 cup of quinoa. Once at a boil, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

Do you do anything interesting with your quinoa? I always buy one package of white and one package of red to mix together. The red quinoa is more firm than the white, which provides a bit of variety in the texture when mixed together. Not to mention that the colors look awesome when mixed.

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STEP 2: Core and seed the peppers by making a round incision at the top of the pepper and taking out the innards.

After that, boil the peppers in a big pot for 5 minutes.

When ready, remove and allow to cool.

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Hey guys. Lookin’ hot. Want to come back to my place?

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“HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO ME?!”

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You need to loosen up a bit. How about a dip in the hot tub?

 

STEP 3: While the quinoa absorbs and the red peppers dance in the boiling water, prepare the beans, tomatoes, and onion.

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STEP 5: When the quinoa is ready, scoop out about 4 hearty tablespoons of refried beans in the quinoa. This will give the stuffing a thick texture, while providing a lovely contrast of moisture and saltiness.

While you’re at it, add the vegetables and black beans and stir.

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STEP 6: Stuff those babies and stuff ’em good.

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STEP 7: Place peppers on a tray and pour salsa on top. Place in the oven at 350° for 30 minutes.

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STEP 8: Garnish with avocados, slice in half, and dig in!

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Happy cooking,

thisvegangirllogo

 

 

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Gluten-Free Tempeh Chili

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July 11, 2013 By

Growing up, my mom made two things that really rocked: meatballs and chili. Surprisingly, she wasn’t even a beef person, really, but she cooked it damn well. Her ingredients were simple and her recipes weren’t complicated. I think the secret to her success was her crockpot.

Oh, the crockpot. It was such a glorious day when I inherited that crockpot from her (when I moved out). Along with it, she gave me her recipes for those two marvelous things she made. And soon, I too became good at cooking meatballs and chili.

chili

The old Shoemaker chili, back in the beef & cheese days.

But the day came when I became vegan, and I gave up my meatball and chili dreams…

… until now.

I had lost all hope until I visited one of my favorite local vegan restaurants, Dandelion Communitea Café. They feature a “famous chili,” vegan of course, yet it had a curious ingredient I had never had before: ~TEMPEH~

At the time, I was baffled. Especially when I went to the store and checked the packaging. What the heck (keeping it nice) is this stuff? It looks like a brain, I thought.

Of course, now, I know tempeh pretty well, as most vegans do. It’s a great beef substitute. It’s firm, has a nutty flavor, and can be sliced into strips, diced into chunks, or ground up. It’s perfect for chili.

Unfortunately for me, since I’m in Mississippi on vacation, I don’t have my crockpot. ☹

So I did it the old-fashioned way and put a big pot on the stove, which is OKAY, I GUESS. However, if you’re lucky enough to have a crockpot, lug that thing out of the shadows and put it to work!

 

Gluten-Free Tempeh Chili
Prep Time: 20-30 minutes
Cook Time – 4 hours
Yield – 4-6 servings

ESSENTIALS

  • 1 package of tempeh (8oz)
  • 1 15oz can stewed tomatoes, halved
  • 1 can of white beans
  • 1 can of kidney beans (dark or light)
  • 1 cup of onions, chopped
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 packet/mix of chili
  • 4 tbs olive oil
  • 1 tbs fresh or dried oregano
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • salt/pepper to taste

OPTIONALS

  • ¼ cup celery
  • ¼ cup carrots
  • ½ cup green/yellow/red pepper
  • 1 avocado, sliced (garnish)
  • a dollop of vegan sour cream (garnish)
  • tortilla chips (as a pairing)

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STEP 1: Start cutting up your tempeh into diced pieces. I love cutting tempeh because I feel like I can make the perfect little squares out of it! Throw it in a bowl with 2 tbs olive oil and the oregano, garlic salt, salt, and pepper. Mix it up with your hands.

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STEP 2: Heat a skillet to medium-low heat with 2 tbs olive oil. Once heated, throw the tempeh in the skillet for 5-10 minutes, stirring often. Watch it carefully, as it can burn easily. When finished, place chili in your crockpot or a big pot on your stove.

WARNING: Tempeh tends to get a bit crumbly when you’re cooking. Those little crumbles will become burnt while the rest of your tempeh is still cooking. Do NOT add those burnt pieces to your chili, as it will give your chili a bitter taste.

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Before…

 

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After

STEP 3: Rinse and drain your beans.

As for your stewed tomatoes, we want those tomato juices in our chili, so don’t drain the stewed tomatoes! A personal preference of mine is to cut them in half, but my mother would tell you otherwise. Do as you want with them.

Dump everything in the pot when finished. Use your stewed tomato can to add water to your chili. Fill up your can twice and pour it in the pot.

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STEP 4: Cut up your garlic, onion, & optionals!

Chili is awesome because you can really throw in any kind of vegetable you’ve got laying around. I like seeing a few colors in my chili, so I try to include a pepper and something green. Corn is a nice addition, too, if you have it. Get creative!

Place everything in the pot when finished.

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STEP 5: Mix in chili mix and get this party started.

I had always used your basic 99¢ chili mix in my pre-Matt days, but all of those have gluten in them. Hmm… who knew?

So now, I use Carroll Shelby Chili Kit. I’ve seen it at most grocery stores for a little over $2, but it’s so worth the extra money. The ingredients aren’t scary and don’t leave anything to the imagination. Also, you have the power to make your chili as salty, spicy, and thick as you want!

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Included in the kit are packages of Chili Spice, Salt, Cayenne Pepper, and Corn Masa Flour (for thickness).

Since I like things hot and Matt likes things salty, I threw in all of the chili spice, salt, and cayenne pepper. I even threw in a little additional salt for safe measure. Save the corn masa flour for the end, when the chili is done cooking.

The box has a nice set of instructions on the back to help you with your packets.
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STEP 5: Stir up your pot, cover it, and let your chili cook on low heat for at least 4 hours. Some crockpots get extremely hot even on low heat; if this is the case with yours, you might want to add a little extra water for some added measure, as you don’t want all of your liquid to evaporate and your contents to burn. DSC_0117

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Bye! See you in a few hours!

STEP 6: There should be an amazing aroma wafting through your house right about now. Unveil your chili, marvel at it, and add your corn masa flour to desired thickness. I added half of my packet, but you decide. Cover your chili and let it simmer for another 5 minutes.

STEP 7: Have some sliced avocado and vegan sour cream ready. Unveil your chili again, marvel at it again, and spoon it in a bowl. Top with your garnishes and enjoy!

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NO FLEEGLE, you may not have any.

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… don’t give me that face.

Happy cooking!
thisvegangirllogo

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Mexican Pizza

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July 7, 2013 By

Do you want a dish that will make even the biggest vegan skeptics begging you for more? Look no further than this Mexican Pizza!

This is adapted from Vegan Richa, who has incredible recipe ideas! (Thank you!)

I adore this recipe because it’s really easy. It’s unlike any kind of pizza most people have ever tasted. You can make it as mild -or hot- as you want. I’ve made this pizza for almost every non-vegan I know and they always seem blown away at how delicious and flavorful it is.

In fact, I’ve made it so many times that I’ve kind of made my own adaptations to the recipe.

 

Mexican Pizza

Soak Time: 8 hours/overnight

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

 

Ingredients:

1-2 pizza dough balls

1 can of refried beans (I do Old El Paso Fat Free refried beans, as it is the only one without lard)

1/2 cup grape tomatoes, halved

1/4 red onion

1-2 avocado

1-2 tbs olive oil

1/2 lime, squeezed

a small bunch of kale, chopped

salt/pepper to taste

 

Lemon & Lime Crema Ingredients:

1/2 cup cashews, soaked in water for 8 hours/overnight

1/2 tsp salt

1-2 garlic cloves

1/2 lemon, squeezed

1/2 lime, squeezed

lemon/lime zest

 

STEP 1: Preheat the oven to 400° F. Spread your pizza dough out on your cooking pan. Spread the refried beans on top of the dough. Place in the oven when ready. It should cook for about 20 minutes.

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STEP 2: Create your lemon/lime crema. Drain your soaked cashews and place them in a food processor. Slowly fill up your food processor with water until it barely covers the top of your cashews. Turn your food processor on high. It might be a few minutes until they  become creamy.

After that, mix in your other ingredients. It may seem like a ton of flavor now, but you’ll thank me later when it’s on top of the pizza! Place in the refrigerator to cool.

 

Soaked cashews.

Soaked cashews.

 


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STEP 3: Prepare your pizza toppings. In a bowl, combine the fruits/vegetables, oil, juice, and seasonings into the bowl and mix.

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STEP 4: By this time, your dough should be ready! Take out the dough, spread out your toppings, and pour the Lemon/Lime crema on top!

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STEP 5: Get to this thing as fast as possible before it’s all gone.

 

I LOVE to smother the heck out of this bad boy with hot sauce. It pairs so well with the coolness of the Lemon/Lime crema.

 

I’m drooling just looking at this thing. Stop what you’re doing right now and make this insanely tasty pizza!

 

 

Happy cooking!

thisvegangirllogo

 

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