I’m not the biggest fan of Chipotle – mostly because it’s boring and expensive. I understand why people might seek it in places that don’t have a great taqueria (or taco truck) in every corner, but I fail to understand its appeal in California. Still, my daughter likes it, so we ordered it for lunch a few days ago.
This time I decided to try the quesadilla, which is basically a deconstructed burrito grilled enough to melt the cheese. It’s served with 3 “sides” which really mean the ingredients you’d otherwise have inside the burrito, things like rice, beans, salsas, etc. Burrito extras, like guacamole, are still extra for quesadillas.
The steak quesadilla was tasty, but it felt smaller than a burrito (probably just my imagination), and having the salsa/sour cream/guacamole (it came in a different container) outside the burrito only made it more difficult to eat. The shape of the quesadilla, and the fact that it’s cut in two diagonally made it even more impractical – the filling kept filling out as I tried to dip it.
At $11.40 (prices vary by location), it was a pretty poor value – though I’m sure no worse than anything else at Chipotle.
On the plus side, the ingredients were fresh and the beef has less gristle/fat than that at some local taquerias. Also on the plus side, Chipotle is very vegan friendly. Not only do they offer sofritas, a plant based protein, as a vegan alternative to meats, but their rice, beans, tortillas and chips are all vegan. Often times, Mexican restaurants use chicken broth for their rice, or lard for their beans and/or tortillas.
This apple pie granita tastes exactly like frozen apple pie, and it’s absolutely delicious. I served it as a palate cleanser for my 2020 Christmas Eve dinner, though it’s probably too sweet for that. It would work just as well as dessert. Everyone enjoyed it nonetheless.
I made it using Martinelli’s apple juice rather than “natural-style apple juice” like the original recipe called for, because that’s what I had at home. If I made it again using regular apple juice, as I did, I’d probably reduce the sugar to 1/4 cup or leave it off altogether.
3 cups apple juice
1/4 to 1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
a dash of nutmeg
a dash of allspice
Place all ingredients in a medium saucepan and heat over medium heat until sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes. Transfer it to an 8″x8″ glass baking dish. Place in the freezer until the sides start to freeze, about 1 to 2 hours. Using a fork, break and mix and put back in the freezer for another 2 hours. Break again with a fork and transfer to small serving glasses. Keep in the freezer until ready to serve.
My vegan daughter wanted pasta with a creamy pesto sauce for Thanksgiving, and I, of course, obliged. I was fortunate to find this amazing recipe online and both my daughter and her non-vegan sister loved it. It did require a couple of adaptations from the original recipe, noted in the one below.
12 oz pasta
2 cups plain, unsweetened oat milk or another vegan milk
Meanwhile, add the milk, pesto, corn starch, nutritional yeast and salt to a medium sauce pan. Heat over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until it starts to boil. Turn heat down to medium and continue whisking until it has the consistency you want, add more cornstarch if necessary.
I made this recipe for vegan pecan pie for Thanksgiving, and my vegan daughter was quite happy with it. Unlike most vegan pie recipes this one didn’t use corn syrup and it wasn’t too sweet. It had the right consistency, however, and the pie set perfectly – no need for eggs.
I was cheap and made it using a Safeway refrigerated pie shell and it was horrible! There are far better vegan pie shells out there. The filling, though, was good:
1 pie shell
3/4 cup canned coconut milk
3 Tbsp cup corn starch
2 Tbsp vegan butter
6 oz pecans, chopped
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake pie crust for 7 minutes. Set aside to cool.
In a bowl. whisk together the coconut milk and corn starch until dissolved. Set aside.
Heat butter in a small saucepan over medium heat until it melts. Add the pecans and cook, stirring constantly, for 30 seconds. Whisk in the coconut milk mixture, brown sugar, maple syrup, vanilla extract and salt.
Pour the mixture onto the pie crust. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Cool on the counter for two hours and then let cool completely on the fridge.
I set out to make chicken tetrazzini as part of my exploration into Italian food for my International Food Project. Alas, after doing a bit more research into the dish, I found out that it’s not Italian at all. Rather, it was apparently created by chef Ernest Arbogast at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco in honor of Italian soprano Luisa Tetrazzini. I had already bought the ingredients to make it, though, as well as those to make a vegan version for my daughter, so I went along and made it for dinner last night.
The regular chicken tetrazzini I made was good, my husband in particular liked it, but not special enough for me to repeat it – so I’m not going to write down the recipe (to make it, I combined this recipe by Ciao Italia with this one by Giada di Laurentiis). My daughter would like me to make the vegan version again, however, so here is the recipe (yes, this blog is mostly for myself):
8 oz spaghetti
2 Tbsp vegan butter, divided
1 Tbsp olive oil
8 oz cremini or button mushrooms, sliced
1/2 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp dried thyme
salt & pepper to taste
2 tsp flour
1/2 cup coconut milk
1 1/2 cups unsweetened oat, soy or almond milk
a dash of nutmeg
1/2 tsp white wine or apple cider vinegar
4 oz vegan chick’n strips, cubed
1/2 frozen peas
1/2 cup shredded vegan mozarella
1/4 cup vegan panko breadcrumbs
Preheat oven to 350°F
Cook spaghetti according to package instructions and set aside.
Melt 1 Tbsp vegan butter and olive oil in a medium or large saucepan over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid evaporates. Add the onion, garlic and thyme and cook until the onion is soft, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer mixture to a bowl and set aside.
Add remaining tablespoon of vegan butter to the saucepan and melt over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk until you have a thick paste. Whisk in the coconut milk and let cook a few minutes until it thickens, whisking occasionally. Add the non-dairy milk and cook a few more minutes until it thickens. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Stir in the vinegar and turn off heat.
Add reserved spaghetti, mushrooms, chick’n and peas to the sauce. Mix well. Transfer mixture onto an 8″x8″ or similar size oven-safe dish. Top with mozarella and breadcrumbs.
This is a vegan cashew cream that you can use in place of soft cheeses in traditional recipes. To my mind, this doesn’t taste anything like cheese – but I’m not vegan. My vegan daughter loved it, however.
2 cups raw cashews
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp nutritional yeast
1 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp salt
~2 cups water
Soak cashews in water for about 4 hours. Drain.
Place the cashews, lemon juice, vinegar, nutritional yeast, Dijon mustard, salt and 1 cup water in an electric blender and process until smooth. Add more water as needed to achieve the consistency you want.
My daughter has been asking for tomato soup for a while, and I figured tonight was a good time to make it for her – plus I had all the ingredients! I followed a recipe I found online, with a couple of modifications from the comments, and my daughter was very happy with it. It was quick and easy to do – I actually made the soup in advance, and then had her heat it up and add the coconut milk when she was ready to eat it. Note that I added a diced fresh tomato to the ingredients below – I had it and it was getting close to going bad so I had to use it.
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 28 oz can diced or whole tomatoes
1 cup water
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. dried basil
1/2 – 1 tsp vegetable broth base
salt to taste
1/3 cup coconut milk
Heat oil in a medium sauce pan over medium-low heat. Add onion and saute until soft. Add garlic and saute, stirring, for a minute. Add the tomatoes. If using whole tomatoes, push with a wooden spoon to break out. Add the water, paprika, oregano, basil and vegetable broth base. Turn heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Using an immersion blender, puree until smooth.
Taste and add salt if needed. At this point, you can refrigerate if you want to use it later. Right before serving, heat the soup until warm and then stir in the coconut milk.
I made this coconut curry for my vegan daughter and vegetarian niece for a family dinner, and they both enjoyed it. It’s very easy to make and you can use any vegetables you have around, tofu or really, anything. My daughter did like it with the sweet potato. Use as much curry as you like.
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 yellow onion , chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 14 oz. can coconut milk
4+ tsp curry powder
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. maple or corn syrup
1/2 tsp salt
1 sweet potato , peeled and chopped
2 cups vegetables, peeled and chopped
Heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onions and sauté until they soften, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic and sauté for one minute.
Add the coconut milk, curry powder, soy sauce, maple syrup and salt. Mix well. Taste and add more curry powder as needed.
Bring to a boil and add the sweet potato. Turn down heat to low, cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the rest of the vegetables and mix well. Cover the pot and cook until the vegetables are done, about 10 minutes.