Archive for the ‘Mexican’ Category

Ate Days a Week

In Beans, Bread, Breakfast, Brunch, Challenge, Fruit, Healthy Lifestyle, Holiday, Italian, Japanese, Mexican, Nuts, Oats, Party, Pasta, Pizza, Quick Meal, Rice, Salad, Saving Money, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian on February 24, 2015 at 7:04 pm

When it comes to healthy eating, I find there is a fine line between two philosophies: 1)Variety is the spice of life and 2)Consistency is key.  How does one stay in balance without getting bored of the same 10 meal repertoire?  When it comes to diversification, I’m always looking for inspiration.  I often look at healthy eating blogs/sites, fitness magazines, and even get sucked into the articles on the latest celebrity eating crazes.  There are definitely common trends (who else is sick of seeing kale everywhere?), but there is also a lot of differing and conflicting information.  Some people eat the same exact breakfast and lunch every day because it helps them stay on track, while others will cave into candy if they have another egg white fritata.


Could you eat THIS every day?

Where do my habits fall on this spectrum?  It’s kind of hard to say.  There have been weeks where I definitely fall into the same lunch rut, and others where I order take out every night.  It really depends on what else is going on that hour/meal/day/week/etc.  In an effort to better answer this question, I decided a couple of weeks ago to keep a log of my food/water/alcohol intake every day for 7 days.  This practice helped me to reflect more accurately on my habits and identify trends, which is something I hadn’t done in several years.  Back in my days of working with a personal trainer, I had been required to turn in a nutrition log at the beginning of each session, which gave me so much anxiety.  If I was honest about every morsel, I’d get ripped apart for having even one cookie, even if the other 98% of my intake was perfect.   I would end up omitting anything that I knew was “inconstant” and veering away from my “goals”, just to avoid the wrath of someone who subsisted on protein shakes, whey, and hardly any fresh fruits or vegetables.



It’s been a long time since I’ve followed any sort of “diet” or meal plan, so this time I took a different approach to the journaling process.  I didn’t focus exclusively on calories, macronutrients, or obsessively counting and measuring.  While I did note approximate amounts (I have a very good sense of portions and volumes, so that’s how I was able to quantify all the ingredients), I didn’t use any measuring devices (scale/cup/calculator), except when required by a recipe (baking).    I just wanted to get a sense of 1)the main components of my meals, 2)some idea of ratio (is the meal 1/2 veggies, 1/4 each protein/carb), 3)how often/frequently I eat, 4)what kind and how often I was having alcohol and “treats”, and how 5)much water I was consuming.  For water, I used the same size glass throughout the day (usually a 17 oz size, which I’d note as 2 cups), and I didn’t include cooking water.  I also noted times I ate/drank to understand the frequency better.

Here’s a high level overview, which I’ll follow with more details and pics.  This particular week had a busy weekend (Valentine’s Day, birthday parties, 2 big family dinners), so it’s an example of more splurging than usual.

  • Breakfast is the most consistent, usually some combination of protein (eggs or yogurt) with whole grain (oats) and lots of veggies
  • Lunch is usually leftovers or a simple salad
  • Dinner is the most varied, usually freshly cooked, and has carb heavy options for the other members of my family
  • I’ll have 1-3 in between meal snacks or bites
  • I drink a minimum 12 cups of water a day, but usually 16+ (especially on days I exercise).  This equates to about a cup/hour.
  • 1-2 glasses of wine 4 times a week; 1 night of cocktails.  None of that bothers me. 🙂
  • A piece or two of chocolate 3x; ice cream 1x
  • During the week, frequency is 2-3 hours; Weekend eating frequency is less, but more indulgent

That’s the basic gist of the week’s trends.  Some of you may want more information, the same way I look at other blogs as I mentioned earlier.  For those who want more details, here they are, along with some photos when I remembered to take them.

  • Monday
    • Water total: 16 cups
      • 530: 2 cups water before/during barre workout
    • 7 am grande coffee w 1 oz milk
    • 7:45 am: 2 cups water; porridge – 1/2 cup oats, 2 cups water, 1.5 cups kale, 1 tsp miso, 2 eggs, 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
      • 2 more cups water btwn meals
    • 11:15 Carob spirulina energy bite (1)
    • 12:30 pm: 2 cups water; salad of 3 celery stalks, 1 small gala apple, 1/3 cup chickpeas, lemon juice; 1 brown rice cake with 1/3 avocado and 1/2 oz sharp cheddar
      • 2:30 2 cups water
    • 3:15 whole wheat banana nut bread
      • 4:30 2 cups water
    • 6:00 low fat string cheese 1 cup water
    • 7:15 2 cups water; whole wheat pasta with honeynut squash olives capers and almonds (1 cup)
      • 1 cup water after dinner





Whole Wheat Banana Bread




My itty portion.

  • Tuesday
    • Water total: 16 cups
      • 8:30 am: 2 cups water
    • 9:00 – pancake (1.5 eggs, 6 tbsp oats, 3 tbsp nonfat Greek yogurt, 1.5 cups flower sprouts [like kale]). 2 cups water
      • 10: stroller strides (interval full body workout) 2 cups water during workout
    • 11: 3/4 cup Greek yogurt with 1 tsp pb 3/4 apple and cinnamon
    • 11:30 – grande coffee w 1 oz milk
    • 1:00 pm – 2 cups water; 1 whole wheat pizza slice with broccoli and spinach topping
      • 2:45 – 2 cups water
      • 4:15 – 2 cups water
    • 5:15 – 1.5 clementine 10 raw almonds
    • 6:15 : 2 cups water, 3 bell pepper slices
    • 7:30 2 cups water. 2 (really big) glass red wine. 1/3 cup sprouted brown rice, 1/3 cup mushroom stroganoff, 1/2 cup roasted sugar snap peas in 1 tsp Evoo, 1 small bell pepper stuffed w 1/2 cup chickpeas w lemon zest and juice; 2 choc truffle

Pancake with a hot sauce smile.


Yogurt parfait.


  • Wednesday
    • Water total: 16 cups
      • 9:15 am 2 cups water
    • 9:30 – smoothie (3/4 cup Greek yogurt, 1/2 banana, 1/2 cup blueberries, 1.5 cups broccoli, 1/4 cup oats, 1 tbsp pb, 1/2 cup water, vanilla and cinnamon)
      • 10:30 2 cups water
    • 11:15 cup of coffee w splash of milk
      • 11:40 2 cups water
    • 12:15 pm 1 cup coffee
      • 1:00 2 cups water
    • 1:15 leftover snap peas stroganoff and rice, kidney beans 1/2 cup each
    • 2:45 2 cups water. 1 oz sharp cheddar
    • 5:15 thin slice whole wheat banana bread
      • 6:30 2 cups water
    • 7:00 carrot ginger coconut soup (1 cup), sesame noodles (1/2 cup brown rice quinoa pasta with pb and sesame sauce (pb, molasses, sesame oil, ginger, garlic,etc), 2 cups water, 1 piece dark chocolate w raisins and pecans
      • 10:30 2 cups water
 IMG_1089 IMG_1090


Finished smoothie.


Sautéing veggies for the soup.


Soups on!


Sesame noodles, with some modifications on this recipe:

  • Thursday
    • Water total: 14
      • 9:30 am 2 cups water
    • 10:00 1/2 cup oats, 6 oz baby spinach sautéd in 1 tsp Evoo and garlic, 2 scrambled eggs, 2 cups water
    • 10:45 2 cup coffee w splash milk
      • 12:30 pm 2 cups water
      • 1:30 2 cups water
    • 2:00 leftover carrot soup (1.5 cups) rice beans and mushroom (1/2 cup each;) 1 cup water
      • 3:00 1 cup water
      • 5:15 2 cups water
    • 6:15 2 cups water. 1 small sweet potato with skin and sprinkle cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup white beans cooked in sriracha sauce, 1 cup slaw (napa cabbage carrots onion pepper apple celery lemon juice avocado), 1 glass red wine



Leftovers. Again.




BBQ(ish) Dinner.

  • Friday
    • Water total: 17 cups
      • 5:30-7am 3 cups water before/ during barre
    • 7:00 grande coffee with splash milk
    • 8:30 2 cups water. Miso soup (1 tbsp miso w 2 cups water) with 1/2 cup leftover sprouted brown rice, 3 cups flower sprouts, 2 poached eggs, 1 tsp toasted sesame oil and hot sauce
      • 9:30 2 cups water
      • 11:15 2 cups water
    • 12:15 2 cups water. 2 cups leftover slaw w 1/2 cup kidney beans, 1 small sweet potato w sprinkle cheddar
      • 4:00 2 cups water
    • 4:30 2 clementines 15 raw almonds
      • 530 1 cup water
    • 7:00 pm – FAMILY DINNER. 1 cup water. 1/4 cup guac w 10 scoops, 2-3 oz white fish, 1/2 cup black bean, 1/2 cup cabbage, 2 margaritas. 1 piece salted caramel dark chocolate, 1 scoop vanilla ice cream
      • 10:00 2 cups water

Another take on Breakfast.


  • Saturday
    • Water total: 16 cups
      • 9:45 am 2 cups water
    • 10:15 2 cups water. 1/2 cup oats cooked in water, 3 oz baby spinach in 1 tsp Evoo, 1/3 avocado, 1 tbsp toasted pumpkin seeds
      • 11:00 am – 1:00 pm 4 cups water before/during/after barre
    • 1:00 pm grande coffee splash of milk
    • 2:30 pm salad w romain eggplant roasted red pepper cucumber tomato chick peas fresh mozzarella 1 tbsp vinaigrette, 10 French fries, 5 bites broccoli cheddar omelet, 1 cup water
      • 7:00 pm 4 cups water
    • 8:30 VALENTINES. 2 glasses red wine, 5 slices baguette 1/2 inch thick,  5 crackers, cheese (3ish oz), cherry jam, 10 olives, 2 cups water
      • 1 cup water before bed

More savory oats.


VDay with my love.

  • Sunday (Busy day, no photos)
    • Water total: 12
      • 9:30 am 2 cups water
    • 10:30 am 16 oz americano w steamed milk (1/2 cup?), 1 slice whole wheat banana bread, 1 cup water
    • 12:30 pm BIRTHDAY BRUNCH PART 1. 3 cups water, 1/2 cup brown rice 1 cup sauted Chinese broccoli,  2 bites tapioca custard, 2 bites dessert bun
    • 3:30 BIRTHDAY BRUNCH PART 2.  1 cup water, 2 poached eggs, 1/2 biscuit, 1/2 cup sauted kale, 1 cup mixed green side salad, 1/2 Bloody Mary
    • 6:30. BIG FAMILY DINNER.  3 cups water, 2 glasses red wine, 1/2 cup mixed greens, 1/2 slice fresh mozzarella, 1 bite bread w butter, 1 cup whole wheat pasta w arabiata sauce, 1/2 cup green beans, 1/4 cup sauted spinach, small piece eggplant parm (3 bites), 3 bites sole oreganata
      • 9:00 pm. 2 cups water

To answer my initial question, what does all of this mean? After this experiment, I think I can say that I am consistent with adhering to the healthy habits I’ve developed over the years, all while spicing things up with twists and changes.  And even if I do indulge a smidge, I don’t have to worry about hiding it from anyone, because I don’t consider it something off limits.  How else do you expect me to muster up the energy to cook (or chase a toddler) without a glass or two of wine?


And if you’d like to see any of the recipes from this week, comment and let me know.  They could be included in a future post.


Has it Really Been (Almost) a Year!!??

In CSA, Fruit, Holiday, Indian, Jewish, Mexican, Nuts, Party, Pizza, Sweet Potato, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian on October 19, 2014 at 6:52 pm

Whenever I meet somebody new, while talking and getting to know each other, we inevitably talk about food.  Sometimes, the conversation will go something like this:

New Person (NP):  I love food, but I hate cooking.  The closest thing to a homemade dish I’ll make is something frozen from TJs.

Me:  It’s not that hard.  I find it easier if I do A, B, and C. (More tips ensue).

NP:  Those are great ideas.  Do you like to cook?

Me:  I do!  I even have a food blog…

NP:  Really, what’s it called?

Me: Lauren Likes to Cook.  Although, it’s been months since I’ve written anything.

NP:  You should write something new!

Okay, so not verbatim, but you get the idea.  The last time this happened, I decided to look back at my homepage and see how long it really has been.  Turns out, it was last October.  Now I know my life has different responsibilities than when I started this journey, but still, I couldn’t believe it.  This blog, the manifestation of my love for food, had been pushed to the back burner.  What, you say, has made its way to the forefront of my to-do lists?  Well, a lot happened this past year.

After 7 years (9 for Nick) of living in Brooklyn, we finally made the move to the ‘burbs.  We staged and sold our condo, moved in with my in-laws, bought a new house, and fixed/furnished the bare necessities of our new space – all while caring for an infant (who is now a bonafide toddler).  Spruced in with some firsts and milestones, here are some highlights (warning – there are a lot of baby pictures):

  • October 2013

    Rocco's First Halloween!  Charlie Brown (with Snoopy)

    Rocco’s First Halloween! Charlie Brown (with Snoopy)

  • December 2013
    Rocco's first solid food - Avocado

    Rocco’s first solid food – Avocado

    Good-bye view from our Condo.

    Good-bye view from our Condo.

  • January 2014 – Coldest and longest month ever.

    Running redefined

    Running redefined

  • February 2014

    Best Valentine's Day Gift - a juicer!

    Best Valentine’s Day Gift – a juicer!

  • March 2014
    We moved!

    We moved!

    New workspace.   Boo for Electric cooktop.

    New workspace. Boo for Electric cooktop.

  • April 2014 – The end of my 20s.  Starting my 30s off as a Lush.
    Mixology party for my 30th Birthday.

    Mixology party for my 30th Birthday.

    Best. Drink. Ever.

    Best. Drink. Ever.

New Kitchen Floor.

New Kitchen Floor.

First Family Vacation

First Family Vacation

  • May 2014
    First Mother's Day

    First Mother’s Day

    Starting my First Garden

    Starting my First Garden

    A garden grows in Garden City.

    A garden grows in Garden City.

  • June 2014
    Rocco Turns 1!

    Rocco Turns 1!

    New CSA

    New CSA

  • July /August 2014 – Beach vacations
    Playing on the beach

    Playing on the beach

    Summer Corn

    Summer Corn

    First backyard BBQ

    First backyard BBQ

  • September 2014
    Happy 3rd Anniversary, Nick!

    Happy 3rd Anniversary, Nick!

    Anniversary Dinner.

    Anniversary Dinner.

  • October 2014 – Back to Apple and Pumpkin Season!
    Pumpkin and Apple Pancake

    Pumpkin and Apple Pancake

    Lots of Apples

    Lots of Apples

    Apple and beet juice

    Apple and beet juice

    Apple cinnamon cocktail

    Apple cinnamon cocktail

    Slow cooker stew with what else - Apples!

    Slow cooker stew with what else – Apples!

    Apple multigrain Breakfast bars

    Apple multigrain Breakfast bars

There you have it!  Pictures worth thousands of words.  Now that life is a little less hectic and routines are rather consistent, I’ll have more time to blog about what’s cooking.  In the meantime, some more photos of last year’s concoctions.  Happy drooling!

Gold/Purple Cauliflower and Romanesco

Gold/Purple Cauliflower and Romanesco

Fish in a white wine butter sauce over wild rice, with roasted brussel sprouts, radish, carrots, and jerusalem artichokes

Fish in a white wine butter sauce over wild rice, with roasted brussel sprouts, radish, carrots, and jerusalem artichokes



Watermelon radish, red cabbage, avocado

Watermelon radish, red cabbage, avocado

Sweet potato gnocchi

Sweet potato gnocchi

Homemade Indian feast at the In-Laws

Homemade Indian feast at the In-Laws

Moscow Mules

Moscow Mules

Rocco eating dried Mango

Rocco eating dried Mango

Homemade Almond Milk

Homemade Almond Milk

Typical Lunch

Typical Lunch

Roasted veggies

Roasted veggies

Ratatouille stuffed pepper, truffle risotto, roasted green beans

Ratatouille stuffed pepper, truffle risotto, roasted green beans

Pesto Pizza

Pesto Pizza

Sweet potato with goat cheese and maple glazed nuts

Sweet potato with goat cheese and maple glazed nuts

Crustless quiche for Passover

Crustless quiche for Passover

Chocolate covered strawberries

Chocolate covered strawberries

Drunk kale quesadillas

Drunk kale quesadillas

Juicing cucumbers and lemons for cocktails.  Very healthy.

Juicing cucumbers and lemons for cocktails. Very healthy.

More roasted veggies.

More roasted veggies.

Nicoise salad.

Nicoise salad.

Roasted cabbage

Roasted cabbage

Rocco's story time choice - Eat to Live.

Rocco’s story time choice – Eat to Live.

A Meal’s a Meal, but That’s Just Fruit

In Beans, Fruit, Mexican, Salad, Vegetables, Vegetarian on July 31, 2012 at 3:12 pm

A few months ago, I went early to the express DMV to officially change my last name from maiden to married.  I had packed my lunch and afternoon snack to take along with me so I could go straight to work as soon as I was done.  On my way to the office, a delirious “homeless” man gave a spiel I could barely comprehend, although I did catch something about “cancer” in there.  At the end, he of course asked for money, but also mentioned food.  I never give money to people on the subway (did you know that some panhandler in Houston claimed to make $60k from begging?), but if somebody were to ask for food I would jump at the opportunity.  When that rare instance occurs, I never seem to have even a stick of gum with me.  This time, I was so excited to offer him my afternoon snack of an orange and raw almonds.  I would have given my actual lunch, but I’m sure it was some Tupperware filled with beans and rice and veggies.  When I offered the food to him, he said some more delirious nonsense, something about a fleece being $3, and I said “I don’t have a fleece, you asked for food.”  And you know what happened?  He all of the sudden started speaking “clearly” and said to me “A meal’s a meal, but that’s just fruit.”  Then he walked away from me.  I was shocked.  My $7/lb raw organic almonds weren’t worth his time; I guess only crack, booze, and McDonald’s met his requirements.  I had approached my stop to transfer, still shaking my head at my fellow straphangers, and I shouted “beggars can’t be choosers, ever hear that expression?”

I was infuriated for the rest of the day, which really was a waste of my energy.  What did I expect?  It makes me so sad that this idiot has to ruin charity for all those legitimately hungry people who would be grateful for any morsel of food.  Those thoughts usually run through my mind any time I throw away any scraps, which is why I try to use everything I buy.  Last week, I received lots of fruit from the CSA distribution, and it was more than I was used to using at once.  Fruit tends to ripen quickly and should be used within a couple of days – whether you eat it raw, dabble in some canning, or freeze for smoothies/baking.  Although I had frozen about half of the peaches and plums, I couldn’t manage to finish the remains at a steady pace.  Once Thursday arrived, I still had 3 peaches and about 15 sugar plums left.  Since Nick won’t touch either of those, it was all up to me to consume.  Luckily, he went to the movies with a friend on Thursday, so I had the opportunity to use the peaches for dinner.  I usually don’t like to eat fruit so late in the day, but since I had procrastinated my workout til almost 9(!), it was the perfect exception.

The workout I made up. I think I’m sick of all my usual DVDs (hence the procrastination), so this was a nice change.

I still had the head of cabbage left from Saturday, and some of the green onions, so I thought a slaw would be perfect!  The recipe is really simple, and could use any stone fruit or apples/pears you have on hand.

Peach Lime Coleslaw

Makes about 8 cups

1 small head cabbage, shredded
3 scallions, sliced thin
1 bell pepper, small dice
3 peaches, small dice
Juice of 3 limes
2 tbsp agave nectar
Salt to taste

I used my food processor to shred the cabbage, but you could use a box grater if you don’t have a processor.  You could also go the easy route and buy pre-shredded coleslaw mix :).

I combined all the ingredients except the lime juice and agave in a large bowl; I mixed the lime/agave in a small bowl just to make sure it was even.  Then I poured the juice over the veggies/fruit, mixed to combine, and let it sit in the fridge while I worked out.  I served the slaw with some black beans, cholula, and goat cheese, which was really yummy!  You could also add some brown rice, or stuff a tortilla with the slaw/beans/cheese to make a burrito.

Now onto the plums.  I really wanted to experiment with fruit drying.  Buying dried fruit is usually fine, but most of the time it’s full of sulfur and/or sugar.  We had added a dehydrator to our wedding registry, and luckily somebody had bought it for us.  Unfortunately, Nick decided to christen it first with beef jerky (boo).

After washing the trays several times since, I finally tested the fruit drying capabilities with the leftover sugar plums.

Following the direction booklet, I washed, halved, and pitted the fruit.

I set the dehydrated to the recommended 135º and waited almost 20 hours until the fruit was dried out.  I was slightly shocked at both the temperature and the time.  First of all, how do all these raw foodists dry their produce below 118º if the manufacture suggests 135?  Secondly, 20 hours seems like a really long time for drying – did I do something wrong?  Anyway, this is the end result:

The dried version tastes slightly more tart and less sweet than the fresh fruit.  It also had a slightly oniony-garlicky hint to it, which I think means the trays or bottom tray weren’t really cleaned thorough from jerked meat (which is super gross).  Next time, I think I will try the below-118º raw rule, as well as super disinfect the machine.  Not wanting to waste this experiment, I think I will use them as treats for my dog.  I could also carry them in my purse as an offering to any other “homeless” hungry beggars.  Who knows, maybe somebody else would consider this fruit a meal?

Don’t Throw That Out!

In Beans, CSA, Flexitarian, Japanese, Meat and Pultry, Mexican, Rice, Saving Money, Soup, Vegan, Vegetables on July 17, 2012 at 12:08 pm

I hate to waste, especially with food.  Maybe it’s from years of hearing my Great-Depression era grandmother say “eat everything on your plate.”  Or perhaps it’s from watching the starving children in those commercials you can feed for 25 cents a day.  Along with  several other motivators,  I strive to use every inch of food I buy.  I’m not perfect, but I’ve definitely found some ways to get creative.  Especially with my CSA produce.  I was able to stretch out the “scraps” from three items this past week and turn them into delicious meals!  This includes pods from peas, stems from broccoli, and greens from beets.  Let’s take a look.

I got about a quart worth of peas in a pod last week.  One doesn’t normally find these too often.  Usually people use frozen or canned peas, but the fresh kind are the best!  You can eat them raw as a snack or in a salad.  After I spent a good 15 or so minutes shelling the peas, I reserved the pods to potentially use in a stir fry (like I would use snow peas).  When the day came that I planed to make said stir fry, I found out Nick had Thai food for lunch, so I wanted to make something completely different.  That’s how this recipe was invented.  It still has an East Asian flair, but it’s a soup instead of a stir fry.

Ginger Lime Pea Pod Soup

Makes about 8 cups (4-6 servings)

1 quart peas in pod, shelled and separated
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 medium or 1/2 large onion, chopped (reserve some for garnish)
2 tbsp minced ginger
2 tsp EVOO
3 cups low sodium vegetable broth
3 cups water
1 tbsp chickpea miso paste (or miso of your choice)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 cup cooked chickpeas
1 lime, zest and fruit

I had shelled the peas in advance, so I was able to start chopping the pods right away.  I also chopped the celery, onion, and ginger.

In a large pot, I added the EVOO and chopped veggies, allowing them to saute for 3 or 4 minutes just to get a little bit of the raw bite out of them.

I added the broth and water, and brought to a boil.  Then I added the chickpeas.  I combined 2 tbsp of the hot broth with the miso paste so that I could easily incorporate the latter.  I also added the sea salt.

I lowered the soup to medium-low to simmer for 20 minutes.  Then I added the zest of the lime to the pot.  Then I peeled the skin so I could use the fruit.  I know that sounds weird, but trust me you get a lot of flavor that way.  Plus, you don’t have to juice several limes, which helps to stretch out what you have some more!

I added those wedges to the pot.

After cooking another 2 minutes, I turned off the heat so I could use my immersion blender.  Once everything was smooth and incorporated, I added the fresh peas to gently cook for 5 minutes.

Then it was time to serve!

The soup had a really nice bite to it!  Tart from the lime, spicy from the ginger, and crunchy from the peas.  It was great both hot and chilled.  I even added a dollop of soft goat cheese to it later on, which was an amazing addition.

Now let’s move on to the other ingredients I mentioned:  Broccoli stems and beet greens.  I’ve used the stems before in slaw, and the greens for a salad.  Both occurrences were raw, which render a truer taste and texture.  Nick isn’t a fan of certain tastes and textures.  This is when I have to get really creative (i.e. sneaky).  The best trick I’ve learned is to chop any less-desired veggies into tiny pieces and mix them with other veggies.  That way it’s really hard to pick out the ones you don’t like, and you end up eating everything.  Case in point, enchiladas.  I had leftover pumpkin seed mole sauce, so this was a perfect way to use up the leftovers.  You can refer back to the original enchilada post for details, but here are the ingredients I used:


1 cup zucchini
1 yellow pepper
1 small green pepper
1/2 large onion
Stems of 2 bunches broccoli, cut into match sticks
1/2 bunch beet greens (about 3 cups chopped)


I didn’t measure them out, but I’d guess about 1/2 tsp of each (except Cayenne).

Ancho chili powder
Onion powder
Garlic powder

I sauteed all the veggies (except greens) for 5 minutes, and then added all the spices.  Then I folded in the greens.

I added about 1/2 a cup of vegetable broth to deglaze.  I used a similar method with chicken breast (to add to Nick’s enchiladas).

I rolled up the enchiladas, topped with mole and low fat cheddar, and baked for 20 minutes at 350.  I served the enchiladas with some black beans and leftover brown rice.  I try to make a bunch of rice at a time, and then stretch it out by reheating with some broth.  You can do the same with leftover rice from Chinese take-out.  Money and time saver!

I just had the veggies and beans with some mole sauce and a sprinkle of cheese.  Without the cheese, this is a really good vegan dish!  Look at how the stems from the beet greens turned the veggies a lovely ruby hue.

Not only was I able to use all the veggie scraps, I was also able to use up all the mole, rice, and a lot of the tortillas I had on hand.  Next time you think of throwing out any of those, don’t.  Make one of these recipes instead!

Tostada Tuesday

In Beans, Flexitarian, Meat and Pultry, Mexican, Salad, Vegetables on July 3, 2012 at 11:39 am

Growing up, we always had a Taco night.  It wasn’t always on a Tuesday, but it was one of those crowd pleasers my mom could whip up on a busy week night.  It’s interesting to reflect back on our version and toppings, especially compared with other people I know.  We always had vegetarian chili from a can.  My mom would portion the beans out into the shells, and bake them.  She would also shred up a block of cheese, and chop up lettuce and tomato.  There was also salsa.  I never knew any differently, until we went to my aunt’s for a weekend and she heated the shells and chili separately (which was so awesome because the shells didn’t get soggy).  When I’d ask my mom if she could do the same, she didn’t; she always made things the same way, not with even the slightest change.  As I got older, I craved new and exciting combinations.  One recent obsession is the tostada at Calexico Cart in Red Hook.  It’s a flat crispy corn tortilla with pinto beans, avocado, caramelized onions, fresh goat cheese, romaine lettuce, cilantro, crema, and cotija cheese.  You can also opt to add chicken, steak, pork or tofu on top of it.  The standard  no-topping version is amazing all on its own, so I tend to order that quite often.  It’s really refreshing because it’s a cold dish, so perfect for summer.  This can get quite expensive, though, so I decided last Tuesday to make my own!  There are some slight modifications, but it came out pretty spot on to the original.

Kinda Like Calexico Cart Tostadas

Makes 4 tostadas

1 vidalia onion, sliced in half and then into thin crescents
1 tbsp EVOO
Salt to taste
1 cup cooked smashed pinto beans (or refried beans), chilled or at room temperature
4 oz soft goat cheese
2 cups shredded lettuce
1/4 cup green pumpkin seed mole sauce (recipe to follow)
1 avocado, cut into strips
6 oz Cilantro Lime Chicken (optional, recipe to follow)
4 thin soft corn tortillas
Oil for frying
Limes for garnish

I started caramelizing the onions first, since they take the most time.  After slicing the onion in half, and then into crescents, I added them to a skillet over high heat with 1 tbsp oil to start.

Once you start to hear it sizzle, then it’s time to lower the heat to medium low, and let it brown up for about 30 minutes.  You can stir it around every 5 minutes or so.  Add some salt at the end.

I also prepped the mole sauce and marinated the chicken during that time.  I decided to use the green pumpkin seed mole sauce that I had used for my enchiladas, primarily because it allowed me to use up the rest of my cilantro from the farmer’s market.  It is also super delicious, and great to have around for omelets and lunches.

Green Pumpkin Seed Mole Sauce Adapted from Veganomicon

Makes about 2 cups

3/4 cup pepitos (green pumpkin seeds)
1/2 cup tightly packed chopped cilantro (about half a bunch)
3/4 cup tomatillos or salsa verde
3 scallions
1 clove garlic
Salt and pepper to taste

Add the pepitos to a food processor and pulse until the seeds form crumbly sand.  Then add in all the other ingredients.

Blend in the food processor until all combined and creamy (about a minute).

Pretty simple, huh?  If you don’t have a food processor, use a blender.  If you don’t have that, either, you are SOL.

Take about 1/4 cup worth and combine it with shredded lettuce for these tostadas.

Now onto the chicken.  Also rather easy, and you can swap tofu for chicken to make this vegetarian.

Cilantro Lime Chicken

6 oz boneless skinless chicken breast
1 clove garlic, minced
1 scallion, thinly sliced
1/4 cup tightly packed chopped cilantro
Juice of 1 lime
1 tsp EVOO
Salt and Pepper

Add everything to a bag or bowl covered in plastic wrap.  Let it all hang out in the fridge for 30 minutes.  Take it out, let it sit a few minutes.

You can either bake it at 350º for 30 minutes, or do how I did and just slice it up to saute on the stove.  That way only takes about 5-7 minutes.

To assemble the tostadas, first heat up the soft tortillas over very high heat in some oil for about 10-15 seconds each side.  Let them rest on a paper towel to absorb some of the extra oil.  For each tostada, add 1/4 cup smashed pinto beans.

Then you add 1-2 tbsp caramelized onion and an ounce of crumbled soft goat cheese.

Top them off with about 1/2 cup shredded lettuce, 1/4 of an avocado sliced up, and any optional protein.

Super yummy combo!  Looking for a slimmer version?  Just omit the tortilla and make a salad!

You can also omit the cheese to make this vegan.  However, the goat cheese adds a really nice tanginess to this dish, so I’d suggest keeping it in if you’re not too much of a hippy.

I was really pleased with how these tostadas came out.  My next missions: replicating Calexico’s Crack Sauce.  It is this creamy chipotle sauce that they serve with their quesadillas, and it is probably more addictive than crack itself.  At least this stuff is legal, though.

Taco Flavored Kisses

In Beans, Mexican, Quick Meal, Vegetables on June 8, 2012 at 1:32 pm

Whatta you know?  I made tacos de pescado last night.  That means fish tacos for those who don’t speak Spanish.  They are really simple to make, and the fish could even be interchanged with chicken breast or tofu for the veg heads.  May I present to you another dose of Mexican foodness.  As Eric Cartman’s Heniffer Lopez would say (or should I say palm), “I’ll give you Taco flavored kisses, honey….Taco, taco, burrito, burrito, taco, taco.”  Or, I could just give you this recipe.

Please note, those tortillas were not used, since they are too hippy dippy for Nick. He went to the store while I prepped and got whole wheat ones he liked, plus some cilantro that I forgot.

Fish Tacos with Chipotle Lime Slaw

Serves 3-4

3/4-1 lb flounder or other thin white fish fillet (grouper, tilapia, sole, flounder, etc), cut into strips
1/4 cup blackening seasoning (I’ve made a recipe and keep it in an old glass jar – can’t seam to locate the link online)

1 small head red cabbage
1 large or 2 small carrots
1/4 tsp sea salt
2 scallions, whites and greens, thinly sliced
Juice of 2-3 limes
1 tbsp chipotle in adobo (more if you like it really spicy)
1 tbsp EVOO
2 tbsp agave nectar
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped

Corn or flour tortillas to serve
Cilantro, lime, avocado for garnish

I got working on the slaw first, since it takes time to work its magic.  After removing the top layer of cabbage, I cut it into quarters, and then cut out the core.  Then I used my handy dandy food possessor to shred that cabbage, that way no knuckle skin gets mixed in :).

Of course, my dog Indy patiently waited for scraps.  Here he is obeying the “Up” command…

…and there he is enjoying his spoils on the couch.  I tried to get closer, but he growled at me.

Okay, back to the kitchen.  I transferred the cabbage mixture to a large bowl and sprinkled on some salt.  Then I massaged the veggies for a minute to release the water.  Grabbing handfuls at a time, I squeezed out the excess liquid, and transferred the dry batches to another bowl.  This is a similar process to the Israeli style slaw I made for Falafel.  Once I got out as much liquid as I could, I placed a plate over the cabbage and weighed it down with a tea kettle.

While that was resting, I sliced up the scallions and had them sit in the fresh lime juice to break down some of the sharpness.

Then it was time to tend to the fish.  On a separate cutting board, I chopped up 2 fillets of wild flounder.

On a plate, I poured about 1/4 cup of blackening seasoning, and then mixed up the fish so every piece was coated.  In a nonstick skillet, I sprayed some EVOO spray over medium high heat and crowded the pan with all the protein.

It only took about 3-4 minutes before it was time to flip.

I went back to the slaw, adding some chipotle, olive oil, and agave to the bowl.

I mixed the dressing together and combined it with the cabbage in the bigger bowl (don’t worry, I used that tupperware to store the leftovers).

Then it was assembly time!  I warmed a tortilla over an open flame for 10 seconds on each side, then layered some slaw, fish, and sliced avocado.  I added some black beans on the side that were frozen from chili relleno leftover.

Here’s a close-up.

Purty Colors.

I had everything without the tortilla.

Nick finished his dinner off with a Margarita.  I am known as the margarita maker amongst family and friends.  They are really simple to make.

Technically, the ratio is 7 parts tequila, 4 parts triple sec, and 3 parts lime juice.  If I’m making a bunch, I try to follow those proportions, but for just 1 person, I generally do 2 parts tequila, and 1 each triple sec and lime.

Margarita for One

4 oz Herradura Silver Tequila
2 oz triple sec
Juice of 2 limes, freshly squeezed
Sea salt or kosher salt for rim

In a shaker with ice, pour in all liquid ingredients.  Using the leftover lime after being juiced, ring the rim and dip into a plate of salt.  Shake the mixture, and pour straight up into the garnished glass.

Pretty basic, huh?  You could be real fancy and sub some or all of the triple sec with agave nectar.  Or you could add more tequila.  Whatever floats your boat.

Winning! – A Week in Review

In American, Beans, Breakfast, Chinese, Fruit, Indian, Lentils, Mexican, Oats, Pasta, Pizza, Rice, Salad, Saving Money, Shopping, Uncategorized, Vegetables on May 29, 2012 at 6:17 pm

Last week (Saturday-Friday) was incredibly busy and successful.  I accomplished a lot on the road, in the field, at home, and in the kitchen.  Let’s take a look, shall we?

Saturday – Why I Love Brooklyn, Part I

Unfortunately one of the more photogenic race images. At least the Cyclone is in the background.

Starting near the Brooklyn Museum, circling through the familiar Prospect Park, and heading down Ocean Parkway to the Coney Island Boardwalk:  I dazed through my third half marathon.  The first one was so exciting because it was my first, whereas the second was an exciting opportunity to actually achieve a decent time.  This third one felt more like a chore than an achievement.  The first few miles were slow and steady.  I just wasn’t feeling like myself.  And the familiar routes gave me little site-seeing material.  However, the second half perked up!  We got to run down the usually bumper-to-bumper Ocean Parkway, only completely open for the weekend warriors.  The best part was around mile 11, when my hubby came to cheer me on and run with me for a block to push me to speed up for those last 2 awful miles.  I managed to not only finish, but beat my previous time by almost a minute!  Many people rewarded themselves with a Nathan’s hotdog, but I made the trip to Buschenschank for a mustardy bloody mary, some beet salad, and a pizza di verde, which was like a regular pizza topped with bruschetta tomatoes and pesto.  Hey, I deserved it after the extra 1300+ calories burned running through Brooklyn.  And then it was nap time.

Sunday – Why I love Brooklyn, Part II

Both Saturday and Sunday were extra special in my borough, not just for me but for the community at large.  Foodies and music lovers alike flocked to Prospect Park for The [Partially Not so] Great Googa Mooga.  Apparently, Saturday was a mess.  Luckily for me I had Sunday tickets, and I learned from the mistakes of Saturday’s Past.  Slathered in sunscreen, with blanket and water bottle in tow, I made sure to get to the park just after they opened at 11:00 AM.  My strategy was to a) avoid lines, b) find a spot to park and c) make sure I got my fill before my impending football playoffs.  I was pleasantly surprised to show up, enter without a bag check, and see so many food stands sans lines.

Calexico is one of my hubby’s favorites. Can you say Crack sauce?

I grabbed a beer, spread out my blanket and enjoyed some tunes while basking in all the googa glory.

Before heading out, I procured a mango chili popsicle, and watched an air guitar competition on the Hamagaddeon Stage.

Hamageddon, of course, was adjacent to BaconLand.

If only I consumed pork, I would be in heaven.

All in all, I personally had a great experience.  I really hope the festival becomes annual!

It was on to Fort Greene, to compete for the Zog 2-hand-touch coed football championship.  This meant wining the playoff game against Pink Socks, and immediately playing The Parents in the championship game.  Of course, we won, and we’re number one!

Go buttonholes! Not to be confused with button hooks.

We celebrated at a nearby bar called Hot Bird, which is next door to a super good bbq place.  They actually have several vegetarian/vegan dishes.  I got some mac, collard greens, and baked beans.  And beer.

Delicious food covered by even more delicious beer.

Such a great weekend!  Full of fun, food, and fantastic accomplishments.  And then there’s the workweek…

Monday – It’s “Business” Time

Luckily my schedule at work has been more flexible.  I can actually take Mondays off most of the time.  This makes for great chore-doing, grocery shopping scheduling.  Monday is not only laundry day, but it’s also supposed to be my blogging, recipe writing, and creative brainstorming day.  Unfortunately,  I haven’t had a real workspace of my own at home.  I usually work at the dining table, or sitting on the couch, which isn’t great for productivity.  Then this past Monday, between laundry and grocery shopping, I stopped at Ikea to pick out a small desk and chair.  Let me say, going to Ikea at 1:00 PM on a rainy Monday is the best time to go.  Nobody was there, and I could just navigate to the workspace station and try out the desks and chairs.  I picked out a fun black/white desk with a red swivel chair, brought it home, and even put the chair together myself!  The desk is conveniently placed near our “bar”.  How very Mad Men of me.

I love this chair!  It’s so bright and will hopefully pull me to the desk to write some more.

Dinner that night was my baked falafel with Israel salad, which was also lunch for Tueday.

Tuesday – Thursday – Back in the Groove

After a long weekend filled with events, it becomes really hard to feel rejuvenated for the week.  I often find that weekends like those lead to workweeks of takeout.  I was determined to complete the week with homemade breakfast, lunch, snacks, dinner, and coffee for myself and Nick.  My usual breakfast was my oatmeal/fruit combo and egg whites with spinach and salsa, whereas Nick preferred cereal with strawberry yogurt.  I tend to eat yogurt for my snack, whereas nick likes actual “snacks” of pretzels and the sort.  His lunches were egg salad, mine were leftovers from dinner.  Here’s what we ate each night:

Tuesday: Chili relleno, rice, and black beans

Wednesday: Cheddar and Broccoli brown rice macaroni and cheese with a slide of beet slaw

Thursday: Chicken and veggie “fried” brown rice.  I was pretty exhausted and didn’t eat any official “dinner”.  This is also due to gorging on Trader Joe’s triple cream brie with wild mushrooms on crackers.  OMG.  You must try this cheese.

A pretty good variety for the week.  Middle Eastern Monday, Mexican Tuesday, American Wednesday, and Chinese Thursday.  And not an extra penny spent, even on coffee!

Friday – Working for the Weekend

We continued to have some nutritious meals for most of Friday.  I worked so hard all week, in the office, at the gym, and in the kitchen, and I didn’t want to lose my momentum.  Since I hadn’t made myself any dinner the night before, I was left to MacGyver me some lunch.  I did have some leftover plain rice from the night before, so I put together my new favorite quick lunch!  It is kind of Indian inspired, and is quick, easy, delicious, and uber healthy!  It includes:

1/2 cup cooked brown rice
1/2 cup lentils or chickpeas (I used lentils this time)
1.5-2 cups fresh chopped kale
1/2 bell pepper, diced
2 tbsp chopped red onion
1 plum or two campari tomatoes, diced
Fresh Cilantro or parsley
Sprinkle each of cumin, turmeric, coriander, cayenne, cinnamon, salt, and pepper

Combine everything in a microwaveable bowl or tupperware bottom.  Microwave on high for 2 minutes with the lid on top but not sealed (or you can use a paper towel).  Mix to combine, and enjoy!

 You can also add some raita or avocado after cooking for a yummy cooling affect.

Once the day was over, it was definitely time for some 3-day weekend Happy Hour fun!  A stein of beer was exactly what I needed to end this very successful week.  Hope you all enjoyed your holiday weekend, I know I surely did!

Chili Relleno es Bueno; Pero Me Gusta Esto, Por Supuesto!

In Beans, Mexican, Quick Meal, Rice, Vegetables on May 23, 2012 at 4:32 pm

¡Hola, Amigos! As I’ve mentioned before, my two favorite cuisines are Mexican and Italian.  I love nothing more than a delicious combination of tacos, tostadas, fajitas, beans, guac, you name it.  However, my digestion and waistline prefer a lighter version of cantina style comidas.  This is especially true with chili relleno, aka stuffed/batter/fried peppers.  Although it tastes amazing as I chew, my tummy suffers as I clench into a ball on the couch the rest of the evening.  I mean really, what else do I expect eating globs of cheese stuffed in a spicy pepper and then fried with batter?  And eating the entire chip basket beforehand usually doesn’t help, either.

While grocery shopping for this week, I saw some bright yellowish-orange cubanel peppers calling my name…”Lauren…buy us…stuff us with delicious things…you won’t regret it.”  Believe me when I say that call of inspiration was the best decision I made at the store (aside from the pound of chocolate hazelnut coffee).   Typically poblano peppers are used for a chili relleno, but I thought these slightly milder and much smaller cousins would offer just a nice twist to my Tuesday night dinner.  I selected some “meaty” portobello for the vegetarian option, and a rotisserie chicken for the flesh version (time and e-coli saver!), along with all the other fix’ins.


Lauren’s Chilis Rellenos

Serves 2-3

2 portobello mushrooms OR 4 oz shredded chicken OR half and half
Olive oil Spray
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp oregano
Dash cayanne pepper
4 Cubanel peppers, sliced lengthwise and seeded
4 tbsp thin salsa (optional)
2 ounces reduced fat/sodium cheddar cheese

Black beans, rice, and guacamole to serve


The night before, I soaked some black beans.  That morning, I rinsed/drained and cooked them in the slow cooker to be ready for din din later on.  I made sure to add a lot of extra water so that they had that velvety frijoles consistency.

Now on to night-of prep.  I preheated the oven to 375°, and lined a baking sheet with foil and olive oil spray.  Then I got to chopping the mushroom into 1/2″ pieces.  Since I was doing half and half, I only used 1 large cap.

I added the ‘shrooms to an olive oil sprayed nonstick pan, and sauteed until nicely brown (about 7 minutes).  Then I added the minced garlic and other spices and cooked another 2 minutes.

I cut and cleaned the peppers, lining the halves up on the prepared tray.  Then I started to shred some rotisserie chicken.

I filled 5 halves with the mushroom mixture, and 3 with the chicken (Nick wanted 1 veg version of his own).  The latter variety needed some extra oomph, so I sprinkled some of the same spices as on the mushrooms, and dolloped some salsa.

I sprinkled on the shredded cheese, and baked them open-faced for 20 minutes.

Here’s a close-up.

Chicken on the left, Mushroom on the right.

While those baked away, I prepped the rice and guac side dishes.  I finely chopped some cilantro (for both) and red onion (for guac).

I had made some brown rice a few days ago, so I used the leftovers.  I added half the cilantro and a tsp of butter.

In another bowl, I tossed in the remaining cilantro, the red onion, one avocado, and one small tomato with some salt and lemon juice.

Then the chilis were done!

Those cheesy bits on the sides make yummy cheddar crisps!

Here’s another close-up.

Nick’s plate had all the components.  ¡Muy delicioso!

My vegetarian plata, sin arroz.

My attempt at creative plating. To no avail.

Everything was delish!  Nick said I knocked it out of the park and gave it between a 9.5 and 10.  Hey, I’ll take it.  And without the added tummy-ache.

Chili Sin Carne

In Beans, Lentils, Mexican, Rice, Saving Money, Vegetables on January 24, 2012 at 1:32 pm

I’ve written previously about my love/hate relationship with Hale & Hearty (“H&H”).  They make some pretty tasty, relatively healthy soups with clean ingredients.  My go-to lunch in my corporate ladder days was either Tuscan white bean soup with spinach, or 3 lentil chili.  The latter was by far the best vegetarian chili I’d ever had, aside from the version I’d eaten as a young child at this small vegetarian coffee shop called The Smile in Queens.  Like I’d mentioned before, the H&H version of chili can be quite costly.  Even if you buy the large quart sold in grocery stores (which I never did during those days), it’s still $2 a cup.  One day, I actually looked at the ingredients on the container.  They all seemed like pretty standard ingredients, and similar to my chili con carne recipe of meat-eating past.  I opted to tweak my version to match theirs, and it came out really well – I’d say about 95% spot on.  And cost half as much as their cheapest option.

Last week, I decided to revisit this recipe (along with some additions I wanted to play with) for a Thursday night dinner.  I gathered all the ingredients (pictured above).  The only problem was that when I went to gather all three of those lentils varieties, I was left with only  standard green lentils.  I’m usually pretty good with replacing bulk bin items, but I suppose I hadn’t visited the section since my last few lentil recipes?  Or perhaps it was super busy at Fairway and I just didn’t visit the section?  Whatever the reason, I had to find a suitable substitute.

Luckily, I had made some pinto beans some time ago and had frozen the leftovers.  I soaked them in water to defrost while I prepared all the other ingredients.  First, I started chopping up all the veggies: onions, carrots, pepper (all from the original recipe), and zucchini and summer squash (which I had in the fridge and used to bulk up this chili).

I added them to a heavy pot with 1 tbsp evoo, and let them cook at a medium-high heat for 10 minutes covered, making sure to stir every few minutes.  Then I measured out some spices: cumin, marjoram (because I was out of oregano), ancho chili powder, and regular chili powder.

I also washed, rinsed, and dried the lentil so that they’d be dry when it was ready for them to join the pot.

Another preparation was to dice up some chipotle in adobo.  Chipotle are smoked jalapeno peppers, and are super tasty!  You buy them in a small can, and usually only need 1 of them.  I will open a can, and freeze the remainder for another day, just like today!

I slice off a section, and then mince it up to add to the pot later.

10 minutes have passed, and the veggies are tender enough.  Now it was time to add the spices, and cook them into the veggies for about a minute or two.

Then I raised the flame to high and added those lentil, stirring for about 2 more minutes.

At this point, there are a lot of brown bits stuck to the pot.  Time to deglaze!  Normally I would just add water and canned tomatoes, but in the H&H recipe, they listed sherry cooking wine, so I used this opportunity to incorporate that into my version.  I added 1/2 a cup, making sure to scrape the pot really well.

After another minute or so, the alcohol had cooked out, so it was time to add the other liquid ingredients.  I had half a carton of vegetable broth, because I had already used half to make some brown rice, so I added that to the pot.  I also used a large can of san marzano crushed tomatoes, some water, and the diced chipotle pepper.  Salt and pepper were added as well.

I cooked the veggie/lentil/liquid mixture slightly covered for 30 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so to make sure nothing stuck to the bottom.  It became really thick and saturated.  Mmmmm.

Then I added the defrosted pinto beans, and cooked for another 15-20 minutes.

While that cooked away, I shredded some lowfat Monterey Jack cheese for garnish.  I also wanted to use avocado, but when I cut it open, there was mold INSIDE the flesh.  I had never seen that before!  Usually I don’t buy organic avocados, because they are less susceptible to contamination than other produce.  However, this time I did and it was a mistake!

The chili was ready, and it looked and smelled so yummy!

Then came time for assembly!  I lined a bowl with brown rice for Nick, creating a well for the chili.

I added a couple of ladels of the chili, and sprinkled some cheese.  EXTREME CLOSE-UP.

Non-extreme close-up.

Instead of using a bed of rice, I opted for a bed of baby spinach.

Veggie super powers, unite!

Although I was sad about the lack of aguacate creaminess, I was still very pleased with this chili rendition.  Not only did I have it for lunch the next day, but I had 4 more portions left to add to the freezer.  I love having leftovers in the freezer, because it really makes my lunch making process a hell of a lot easier on a Monday after a non-cooking weekend.

What are your favorite soups or stews to freeze?

Just Roll with It

In Beans, Mexican, Rice, Vegetables on December 14, 2011 at 1:11 pm

If somebody asked me what my favorite cuisine was, it would be a tie between Italian and Mexican.  This night’s meal (which I actually made last Tuesday – so much for punctual blogging) belongs in the latter category.  Although Mexican is commonly associated with cheesy-fried-carbs and fatty meats, one actually has multiple healthy options when enjoying comida Mexicana.  Case-in-point: the fajita (can be pronounced fa-heat-a, or as we like to say fa-gight-a).  Fajitas are usually made in a cast iron skillet, and include onions, peppers, and chicken/beef/pork (or extra veggies for vegetarians), all seasoned with traditional Mexican spices.  Very little oil or fat is generally used, and the tortillas (usually corn) are served on the side.  Sometimes a restaurant will offer fajita burritos, enveloping all the fajita goodness with a large flour tortilla that has the diameter of a newborn child’s length.  Submitted for your approval, I present a dinner that offers fajitas for both the carb lover and carb curbers.

First step, I cooked some brown rice in a rice cooker using this method.  I examined the veggie drawer in the fridge.  I had the minimum pepper and onion available.  I also had a carrot, some spinach, and a handful of purple kale.  Ideally I would also like to add some broccoli, zucchini, cauliflower, and chickpeas, but since there were none, I did not include them.  I sliced up the onions, peppers, and carrot into thin strips.  Then I smashed some garlic.

I sauteed them first in a tbsp of EVOO, since the leafy greens take less time to cook.  After about 5 minutes, I added some cumin, chili powder, coriander,  cayanne, salt, and pepper.

After cooking another minute, I added some veggie broth to deglaze the plan.

Then it was time to add the greens.  I combined everything, lowered the heat, and let simmer while I prepared everything else.

I took some frozen pinto beans and nuked them for a minute.

Then it was time to make some guacamole!  I scored half an avocado.

Then I used to a spoon to scoop into a bowl, mixed in some lemon juice, red onion, tomato, and salt.

Just as I finished with the quac, I grated some cheese and checked on the veggies.  They were done!  Mmmmmmm.

Now it was time to assemble Nick’s burrito.  I used a whole-grain one (healthier than traditional white flour), warming in the microwave for 15 seconds.  Then in long rows I added some cheese, pinto beans, fajita veggies, brown rice covered with salsa, and some guac).

Then came time to roll it up.  I’m sure that most of you have had messy burrito/wrap-rolling experiences in the past.  These are some of my tricks.  First, you can see above that I centered the fillings into a square space.  I know it is tempting to overflow with ingredients, but trust me – it’s not worth it!  If you really want extra, just reserve the excess filling for a side dish.

The next step is to fold over the top and bottom, perpendicular to the direction of the filling.  If you start the other way, you will have a different item in each bite as you progressively make your way through eating.  Doing it the way I suggest will allow you to ingest as many of the fillings in one bite as possible.

Next I folded the left side over to begin rolling from West to East.

Once you are almost towards the end, just the tortilla showing, then you pinch in the corners to prevent any spillage.

And then….the burrito is rolled up and ready to inhale.

My platter version had the fajita veggies, salsa, beans, and guac.  Still really yummy.  You could also always mix in some lettuce for a salad, but I preferred this dish just as I ate it.

The next day, I ate the same thing for lunch, but just added a lil bit of brown rice to make it heartier.

I’m two for two with this new dinner-time plan.  Stay tuned for the next installment!