Tag Archives: Tex Mex Casserole

Edmonton July 2017 Class

July 22, 2017

I had a wonderful opportunity this month to hold a class in Edmonton. It was great to meet both fellow vegetarians and those looking to make their diet more plant strong. We had a great discussion on the reasons for eating more plants – health, environment, compassion and spiritual.

For the class we used kale three different ways – in a green smoothie, in a main dish of rice and beans, and in a salad. For dessert, we had a simple fruit salad – no added sugar needed. The meal was delicious, simple to prepare and budget conscious – proving once again that it is not necessary to spend the day in the kitchen, have a lot of cooking skills or break the bank to enjoy a good, wholesome, home cooked meal.

Green Smoothie

One of the most important things you can do to improve your health is to add more greens to your diet. While it is best to chew your food, rather than drink it, I still find green smoothies the easiest way for most of us to increase the amount of green leafy veggies we consume. Since smoothies are well blended, the sugar from the fruit enters your blood stream faster than chewing the fruit, so it is best to sip it slowly and try to mix as much saliva with it as possible. My basic recipe for a green smoothie is below. For the class we used my favorite mix – kale for the greens, anana,  orange and mango for the fruit, and a squeeze of lemon.

  • 2 cups greens (kale, spinach, Swiss chard, parsley, cilantro, beet greens, collards, etc)
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen fruit (banana, mango, pineapple, orange, apple, berries, etc)
  • Juice of ½ lemon

Place all ingredients in a blender in the order given. Blend until smooth.

Tex Mex Casserole

This recipe which I have adapted from the Oh She Glows Cookbook by Angela Liddon, is a mainstay in my house. It is fast and simple to prepare and always gets good reviews. I like to use the leftovers to make burritos, and they freeze well too. Just roll in a flour tortilla, wrap in parchment paper and freeze for a later meal.

When making this casserole for a crowd, I usually to omit the jalapeño. The cayenne in the spice mix gives it a tiny bit of a kick, but not too much.  Serve with a spicy salsa so guests who like the heat can spice it up a bit.

The cheese in this recipe is not essential for the casserole, but if you decide to add you can use a plant based cheese like Daiya shredded cheese or add 1/4 cup of cashew cheese sauce to it.

While the recipe calls for everything to be prepared in a frying pan and then popped in the oven to heat, it can easily be served straight from the frying pan, as we did in class. Or prepare it ahead of time and pop it in the oven the next day to reheat. We skipped the topping of cheese and taco chips on top and served it straight from the pan with taco chips on the side.

Spice blend:

  • 1 tbsp chilli powder
  • 1 ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp smoked sweet paprika (or ½ tsp regular paprika)
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp ground coriander

Casserole:

  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 orange bell pepper, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 jalapeño, diced fine (optional)
  • ½ cup corn kernals (fresh, canned or frozen)
  • 1 – 14 oz can diced tomatoes and their juices
  • 1 – 14 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp red wine or balsamic vinegar
  • 2 cups finely chopped kale leaves or spinach
  • 2 cups cooked  black beans (rinsed and drained)
  • 3 cups cooked rice (brown rice or a brown and wild rice mix, we used short grain brown rice)
  • ½ cup cheese or cheese substitute (optional)
  • tortilla chips

Combine spice mix and set aside.

Preheat oven to 375F, oil a large casserole dish (4 to 5 quart)

In a large pan, add onion, garlic, peppers and sauté until softened. If necessary, add water, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent sticking. Stir in spice mix and sauté for a few minutes until fragrant. Add corn, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, kale, beans and rice. Sauté until heated through and season with salt and pepper to taste. If desired, mix in ¼ cup of shredded cheese, cheese substitute or cashew cheese sauce.

If desired, you can pour mixture into prepared casserole dish, sprinkle on crushed tortilla chips (and the other ¼ cup of shredded cheese if desired), cover and bake 15 minutes.  Or you can serve straight from the pan. Serve with optional toppings such as chopped avocado, salsa, taco chips or green onions.

 

Kale and Apple Salad

This recipe is another of my go to recipes. For those who are new to using kale, massaging the kale with a squeeze of lemon and/or sprinkle of salt help make it more tender and less bitter. Also, making this with a mix of kale and romaine is a good way to introduce kale to the menu. If you love kale, like I do, skip the romaine and use all kale.

This recipe is my adaptation of the original from Raw Amazing 

Dressing:

  • 1 cup cashews, soaked until soft, drained and rinsed
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 lemon, juice from
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced

Soak cashews for 2 to 12 hours. Drain cashews and place all ingredients in high-speed blender and blend until smooth.

Salad:

  • 1 bunch of kale, de-stemmed and shredded fine
  • Juice from ½ lemon
  • 1 apple, cored and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
  • ¼  cup dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup red onion, sliced thinly and separated into rings
  • 1 carrot, julienned
  • 1 bunch romaine lettuce, washed and torn into pieces
  • ¼ cup pumpkin seeds (hulled, you can use raw or roasted and salted)

Place kale in large bowl. Sprinkle with lemon juice and a dash of salt. Massage the lemon juice and salt into the kale for a few minutes.  Add chopped apples, dried cranberries, sliced red onion, julienned carrots. Toss. Add enough dressing to coat the salad, toss well.  Just before serving, add the romaine and top with pumpkin seeds.

Fruit Salad

This is the same fruit salad we made at our July Winnipeg class. By varying the fruit combination, you get a different dessert every time.

  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut milk yogurt (cultured coconut milk), or plain yogurt
  • 1 tbsp finely minced ginger (or more to taste)
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup (or sweetener of choice)
  • 4 mandarin oranges, peeled and sectioned
  • 2 apples, diced
  • 2 cups pineapple, diced
  • o   2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 1 cup seedless grapes
  • 2 cups strawberries, cut in half

Mix yogurt, minced ginger and maple syrup and place in a small serving bowl.  Refrigerate for several hours before serving.

Place oranges, apples and pineapple in a large bowl. Toss to coat apples with the liquid to prevent browing.  Add blueberries, grapes and strawberries and gently stir to combine.  Serve fruit with a dollop of ginger yogurt on top.

You can change this salad up by using any mixture of your favourite fruit. Change up the yogurt sauce by omitting the ginger, using cane sugar and adding ½ tsp vanilla.

 

 

May 2015 Cooking Class

May 2015 Cooking Class Entree
May 2015 Cooking Class Entree

I am behind in my posts, so catching up by posting the recipes from the May cooking class. This was the first cooking class since Dec 2014 and it was wonderful to see many participants returning from last year and many new faces as well. The menu for the night was:

  • an Orange Mango Parsley Smoothie
  • a Rice and Bean Casserole (Tex Mex Casserole)
  • a salad with an oil free Honey Mustard Dressing
  • and Chocolate Cupcakes frosted with Chocolate Coconut Cream Whipped Topping

The recipes are included below, as well as the recipe used for the cashew cheese that we used on the Tex Mex Casserole.  Thanks James for the outstanding photos.

Orange Mango Parsley Smoothie

This is a vibrant green smoothie. If you have organic oranges, include a bit of the zest in the smoothie for a more intense orange taste.

  • 2 cups frozen mango cubes (or pineapple)
  • 2 cups parsley
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 2 oranges, peeled
  • Zest of ½ orange (optional)
  • ¼ tsp turmeric
  • 2 tsp grated ginger
  • 2 cups water

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth.

Tex Mex Casseroles in three heat levels
Tex Mex Casseroles in three heat levels

Tex Mex Casserole

This recipe is from the Oh She Glows cookbook by Angela Liddon. It is easy to throw together if you make your rice and beans ahead of time. We made the casserole in class in three levels of spiciness, mild – with 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper and no jalapeño, medium – with 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper and no jalapeño, and hot – with 1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper and 1 jalapeño pepper.  Most preferred the medium, but if you are making this for a crowd that does not all enjoy spicy food, I would suggest the mild version and serve with hot salsa on the side. The casserole is delicious without any cheese. The Daiya cheese somehow did not make it to class; however, we did have Cashew Cheez which we used as a topping. The addition of any type cheese helps mitigate the heat of the dish.

Spice blend:

  •           1 tbsp chilli powder
  •           1 ½ tsp ground cumin
  •           1 tsp smoked sweet paprika (or ½ tsp regular paprika)
  •           ¼ tsp cayenne pepper (or 1/8 tsp for a mild version)
  •           1 ¼ tsp salt
  •           ¼ tsp ground coriander

Casserole:

  •           1 ½ tsp oil
  •           1 onion, diced
  •           3 cloves garlic, minced
  •           1 orange bell pepper, diced
  •           1 red bell pepper, diced
  •           1 jalapeño, diced fine (optional)
  •           ½ cup corn kernels
  •           1 – 14 oz. can diced tomatoes and their juices
  •           1 cup tomato sauce or tomato puree (or substitute the diced tomatoes & tomato sauce for 1 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes plus, 1 tablespoon vinegar and 2 tablespoons tomato paste)
  • 2 cups finely chopped kale leaves or spinach
  • 2 cups cooked black beans (if using canned, rinsed and drained)
  • 3 cups cooked rice (brown rice or a brown and wild rice mix)
  • ½ cup shredded cheese (vegan such as Diaya)
  • Crushed tortilla chips

Combine spice mix and set aside.

Preheat oven to 375F, oil a large casserole dish (4 to 5 quart)

In a large pan (we used an electric frying pan), heat oil and add onion, garlic, peppers and sauté until softened. Stir in spice mix and sauté for a few minutes until fragrant. Add corn, squash, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, kale, beans and rice. Saute until heated through and season with salt and pepper to taste. Add 1/4 cup of the cheese if desired.

Pour mixture into prepared casserole dish .Sprinkle on crushed chips (and the other ¼ cup of shredded cheese if desired), cover and bake 15 minutes. Serve with optional toppings. We served with chopped avocado, salsa and cashew cheese.

Cashew Cheese

  • 1 cup cashews
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ tsp garlic granules or powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • ½ – 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp paprika
  • 2 tbsp nutritional yeast

Soak cashews in plenty of water overnight. Drain and add to blender with 1/2 cup of the water and the spices (but not the nutritional yeast). Blend until smooth, adding more water as needed to make it blend. Once blended smooth, add nutritional yeast. Taste and adjust seasonings to your preference (additional salt, lemon juice or nutritional yeast).

If desired, you can replace some of the water with a diced orange pepper. (add the diced pepper to the blender with the cashews and add just enough water to help it blend). You want to produce a cheese that is thick but still pourable. If you have a small squeeze bottle, use it for the cashew cheese and squeeze it on top of the casserole or on individual plates; or on a pizza.

Squeeze Cheeze
Squeeze Cheeze

Honey Mustard Salad Dressing

This is a modification of a favorite dressing of my mother’s. I substituted 3 tablespoons of tahini and 3 tablespoons of water for the 6 tablespoons of oil. It is a great dressing on any salad, especially spinach or kale.

  • 3 tbsp tahini
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp pepper

Combine all ingredients and store in refrigerator in a glass jar with a lid.

 Salad: mixture of Spinach, romaine lettuce, red onion, julienne carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, toasted sunflower seeds

salad

Chocolate Cupcakes

From the  Oh She Glows Cookbook by Angela Liddon. I used 2 cups whole wheat and 1 cup unbleached white flour and found the texture to be just fine.

  •  2 cups plant-based milk (I used almond)
  • 2 tbsp apple cider or white vinegar
  • 1 ½ cups natural cane sugar
  • ½ cups melted coconut oil (or grape seed oil)
  • 2 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 ¼ tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350F. Line 24 muffin tins with paper liners.

In a medium bowl, stir together milk, vinegar, and let sit for 2 minutes. Add sugar, oil and vanilla and whisk to combine.

In a large bowl, whisk together, flours, cocoa, baking soda and salt. Pour milk mixture into flour mixture and beat with hand mixer until smooth.

Pour batter into prepared muffin tins, filling each cup to about 2/3 full. [Note: I made these today for Kelsey’s birthday and filled each cup full. They rose to nice domed tops, but you get less than 24 cupcakes. See picture below.]

cupcakes1

Bake 20 to 25 minutes. Cupcakes are done when a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool on cooling rack for 10 minutes in the pan, then remove cupcakes from pan and continue to cool on a rack.  Once completely cooled, frost with Chocolate Coconut Cream Frosting. You can freeze the cupcakes with the frosting.

Chocolate Cupcakes with Whipped Chocolate Coconut Cream Frosting
Chocolate Cupcakes with Whipped Chocolate Coconut Cream Frosting

Chocolate Coconut Cream Frosting

I prefer to use a Whipped Coconut Topping for a frosting rather than conventional frosting because it is much lower in sugar and tastes great. Also, it freezes well.

  •  2 cans high fat coconut milk, chilled in can
  • 2 -3 tbsp natural cane sugar
  • 2 tbsp cocoa

Open bottom of chilled coconut milk cans and pour out coconut water. Open top of can and scoop out solid coconut cream. In a bowl, place coconut cream, sugar and cocoa. Beat with beaters until smooth. Adjust to desired sweetness. Refrigerate.