A Delicious Mistake: Confused Stew

The weather was amazingly rotten yesterday so it was an easy decision on what to make for dinner – stew!  Of course, it had to be veggie stew and somewhat healthy.  I put my brain to work and came up with a shopping list for a recipe based on one main ingredient:  Anaheim chilies.  Truth be told, I didn’t actually know how it was all going to come together, but I knew what I wanted it to be so all I could really do was hope.

Then I ran into a big problem.  Something that happens to me more than I would like at our neighborhood Whole Foods.

There were no chilies.  I scoured the produce section only to find jalapenos, poblanos, and bells, but no Anaheim.  Their chili pepper section was a sorry sight and they should really be ashamed, but maybe it’s not chili season.

I was super annoyed now.  It was raining cats and dogs outside, I was already spending way to much money on the few things I had in my basket, and now I had to come up with a new plan.

I decided that I would just grab some canned chilies and be done with it.  I headed over to the Ethnic Foods Section where I found rice, beans, canned jalapenos, enchilada sauce, and salsa.  But no chilies!!!  WTF?  Where have all the chilies gone?

And this is how Whole foods continues to screw me, time and time again.  They only have one brand for many things – and it’s never the brand that I want – and it’s always the most expensive brand.  But of course I still shop there because it means that I don’t have to wear my bullet proof vest like I do when I shop at the Safeway on Potrero Hill and most of their stock really does kick ass.

But I digress…I cursed a few times under my breath and grabbed a can of Hatch Green Enchilada Sauce and I was on my way.  The end result of the catastrophe was a stew that was slightly soupy, but still thick enough to be a stew.  Oh yeah, and it was good!  Well it was good enough for my simple pallet, and even pretty healthy.

Serves 4-6
1 sweet potato or yam thinly sliced
I can diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cup hatch green chili enchilada sauce
vegetable stock
2 tsp chili powder (use less and then add more if you’re spice sensitive)
1 tsp dried oregano
1 can black beans
1 baking potato peeled, chopped into bit size pieces
1 sweet onion diced
2-3 cloves garlic minced
1 cup frozen corn
salt and pepper to taste
Sour Cream (optional garnish but so good!)

Toss the yams in a bit of olive oil (about 1/2 tsp) and lay on a baking sheet lined with foil.  Sprinkle with kosher salt and cracked pepper.  Roast for about 15 minutes at 450 degrees on each side (make sure you check on them because I forgot to check my timer and I may be off here…)

When the yams are nice and browned, toss them in a blender with about 1 cup of green chili enchilada sauce, 1/2 cup of diced tomatoes, and 1/4 cup of vegetable stock.  Puree and season with chili powder and salt and pepper and oregano.  It should be pretty thick. Set aside.

Place the baked potato pieces in a pot and cover with vegetable stock.  Boil and cook until they’re just under-done.

While the potatoes are cooking, saute the onion and garlic in a bit of olive oil.  Cook for about 5-6 minutes over medium heat and then pour in the baking potato and about half of the stock that you cooked them in.  Mix in the yam mixture and then add the black beans, remaining diced tomatoes, and corn.

Season to taste and let simmer for 30 minutes or more…stir occasionally.  It should now turn a bit more “stew like”.

Pour into bowls and top with sour cream, cheese, avocado, onions, whatever you like.  I mixed in a bit of sour cream and that seemed to be all that was needed.


Vegan and Low-cal: Creamy Corn Chowder

I know the title may sound a bit hypocritical.  I have the words “Vegan” and “Creamy” in the same title along with “Low-cal” and “Chowder”.  I assure you that this corn chowder is vegan, only has about 135 calories per serving, and will knock your socks off.  Especially if you eat it when it’s storming so hard out that you wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if your roof was ripped right off (taking your upstairs neighbor with it).

I served this with some crusty stale whole wheat bread that I bought at whole foods and a simple butter lettuce and arugula salad.  boston-lettuceI’m completely hooked on this hydroponic lettuce they sell at whole foods – I think I eat about one package a day.

I apologize for not having a photo – I’ll try to post one later today after our camera is charged and I heat up more of the soup to have for lunch.  I was far to hungry last night to fiddle with photos.  I had to eat as soon as it was finished cooking.  There was no stopping me.

I left my soup chunky, and it turned out thick.  Really, really thick.  If you’re not down with the chunky then you can certainly throw the finished product into a blender (just be sure it’s not too hot or you may burn the crap out of your hands).  Also, if you decide to blend it you may want to add more vegetable broth or soy milk and less potato flakes.  Yes, I said potato flakes.  Here’s the recipe:

Serves 6 (or 4 if you’re a piggy like me)

2 Tbsp. Olive oil

1 medium/large sweet onion finely chopped (depends on how much onion you like – I like A LOT!)

1 1/2 cups celery finely chopped

1 cup carrots finely chopped

2 cloves garlic minced

2 cups GOOD vegetable broth

2 1/2 cups frozen corn (or use fresh, whatever you have)

2 cups soy milk

2/3 cup potato flakes (I used Whole Foods brand which has 70 cal per 1/3 cup)

1/2 cup chopped scallion

salt and pepper to taste

This is a one pot meal so break out a large soup pot.  Heat the olive oil over medium heat and toss in the celery and onion.  Saute until translucent and soft, about 5-6 minutes.  Add the carrots and the garlic and cook, constantly stirring, for about 5-6 more minutes.  Pour in your vegetable broth and heat for about 2 minutes then add the corn.  Give the corn about 2 more minutes in the pot and then add the soy milk.  Stir it up and raise the heat so that it comes to a slight boil.  Immediately turn it down to med-low and stir in the potato flakes.  (This makes it “chowder-like” so you may want to start out with less and gradually add more.)  You have your choice now to add the scallions or you can wait and use them as a garnish.  I added them to the soup while cooking and I think I made the right decision.  Add salt and pepper to your liking (who am I kidding? add LOTS and LOTS of fresh cracked black pepper!) and let simmer for about 5-10 minutes.  You can let this sit as long as you need to actually, just make sure you stir it occasionally.

Pour yourself a very large glass of wine, pop a Netflix in the DVD player, and enjoy!

Nutritional breakdown per serving: (the salt is not included because everyone uses a different amount. If you’re watching your salt intake then make adjustments as needed.)

Calories 135.5
Total Fat 6.0 g
Saturated Fat 0.8 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.5 g
Monounsaturated Fat 3.4 g
Cholesterol 0.7 mg
Sodium 357.0 mg
Potassium 432.1 mg
Total Carbohydrate 17.5 g
Dietary Fiber 2.9 g
Sugars 3.7 g
Protein 3.7 g

Beet Burgers Look Just Like Meat Burgers

So last night I decided to try a Roasted Beet-tofu Burger recipe that I found on one of my favorite blogs, FatFree Vegan Kitchen.  I never would have thought to try, let alone make a beet burger but my boyfriend ordered one at The Plant Cafe (formally known as Lettus) a while back and I thought it was awesome.  beet_burger_

The only thing I changed was adding Italian style bread crumbs to the mix and I left out the flax seeds because that’s what I had – and I deeply regret that alteration.  Before the addition of the bread crumbs the mixture tasted pretty good.  Afterwards…”Why did I do that?!”.  Anyway, I baked them about 10 minutes longer than suggested, flipped them over halfway through cooking, and slathered them with a chipolte aioli (as suggested on the original recipe).  The addition of a pile of thinly sliced tomato and arugula almost made up for the “Italian Bread Crumb Incident”.

I have to admit that I was a little shocked when I opened the oven halfway through cooking – they looked just like real animal meat patties! I assure you though, they do not taste like meat, nor would I want them to.  They’re earthy and healthy – just as a vegetable burger should be.

Again, I don’t have a photo of the fully constructed burger because, well, last night was the season premier of ‘House’ and I finished making these right at 8pm and had just enough time to throw ’em on a plate and leap over to the couch.  Besides, if you check out the original recipe here, you’ll see that I simply can’t compete with Susan’s photos…

Spaghetti Squash Casserole – A.K.A: Ugly Casserole

If you’ve ever cooked spaghetti squash, then you probably already know that once you mix it up with your favorite sauce, it doesn’t look all that appealing – at least I don’t think so.  Not to be to vulgar, but it always looks a bit like something that has been regurgitated and not like something you’d want to eat.  But you do want to eat it.  Trust me.  You do. squash_spaghetti

This recipe has an extra, “umm, I know it doesn’t look good but trust me it tastes good!” factor to it so I think it’s best to serve it to people who trust your cooking, like your family, and not presented to guests at your next fancy dinner party.  Unfortunately there aren’t any pictures because I forgot to take them – I’m a horrible photographer anyway and this dish would, most likely, not photograph well.  The measurements are guestimates because I rarely measure anything, and it’s open to whatever you may have on hand.  You will need something like this:

1 medium sized spaghetti squash

1 can of creamed corn

1/2 cup of italian style breadcrumbs (really optional, but I thought it added a little extra texture)

1/2 cup low fat cottage cheese (sounds gross, but it’s good!)

12 oz of your favorite marinara sauce (I used Rao’s tomato basil because it rocks! It’s also pricey at about $9.00 a jar – I used half of a jar that I had opened last week)

Freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional, but good!)

Preheat your oven to 425.  Cook the spaghetti squash however you like.  I poked holes in the top and microwaved it for 12 minutes.  It exploded after about 9 minutes so I assumed it was done.  Use your judgment depending on the size.

Get rid of the seeds and scrape the stringy strands into a casserole dish.  This is a one dish meal, so make sure it’s large enough to mix everything up.  Toss in your can of creamed corn, the marinara sauce, and the cottage cheese.  Mix well, making sure that the strands are all separated and incorporated with the sauce.  Top with the breadcrumbs, you can use more or less than I did, and spray the top of the breadcrumbs with an olive oil spray (I used Trader Joe’s brand).  Place it in the oven with the rack in the middle and bake for about 40 minutes.  It will be really bubbly and smell yummy!  Let it sit on the counter for about 5-10 minutes to let the juices settle and the flavors blend.  The last step is to scoop it out into bowls and top with some Parmesan cheese!  I put hot sauce on mine because I can no longer enjoy anything without hot sauce on it.

I didn’t add salt and pepper because the creamed corn had salt.  Feel free to taste it before you bake it to make sure it’s salty enough for you.  My boyfriend added extra Parmesan cheese, which I assume is because it needed just a bit more salt.

That’s it.  That’s the Ugly Casserole.  It’s cheap to make, tastes great, and it will probably taste even better today!

Here’s the nutritional breakdown (not including Parmesan cheese, and using a generic marinara sauce):

4 Servings

Amount Per Serving
Calories 274.5
Total Fat 5.2 g
Saturated Fat 0.9 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1.2 g
Monounsaturated Fat 1.3 g
Cholesterol 2.3 mg
Sodium 1,139.0 mg
Potassium 667.9 mg
Total Carbohydrate 48.3 g
Dietary Fiber 7.3 g
Sugars 11.5 g
Protein 10.7 g

Vegetable and Green Chili Sour Cream Enchiladas!

CookedEnchi_1Yesterday I had an insane craving for enchiladas.  But not restaurant enchiladas which are usually super cheesy and just downright nasty (and usually one of the only ‘vegetarian’ options at Mexican restaurants. YUCK!).  I wanted homemade, chalked full of veggies, made with whole wheat tortillas, and just a hint of cheese enchiladas.  The end result isn’t as healthy as I had hoped because as I walked by the dairy section at the supermarket, I grabbed a tub of low-fat sour cream and decided to throw it into the mix.

This recipe is extremely versatile, so feel free to sub any veggies you have on hand for the ones I used.  The only thing I wouldn’t do is skip the sour cream because it’s a key ingredient, and one that makes these so freakin’ good.  Also, I made these in the early afternoon and put them in the fridge for about 4 hours.  Then when it was dinner time I just popped them into the oven.  I’m not sure, but I think letting them sit for a few hours made them taste better….just a thought.

Mixed Veggie and Sour Cream Enchiladas:

Serves 4-6, depending if you have a side dish or salad to go along with it.

1 1/2 cups chopped onion (about 1 large onion)

2 cloves chopped garlic

2 cups chopped mushrooms

1 cup frozen corn

1 cup black beans (canned, drained)

2 Hatch or Anaheim chilies, roasted, skinned, and chopped (you could also sub canned roasted chilies here)

1 14oz can green chili sauce (I used Hatch brand ‘Green Chilie Enchilada Sauce’ and it’s super delicious!)

1/2 tsp cumin

1/8 tsp dried oregano

1/4 tsp dried basil

1/2 cup lowfat or fat free sour cream

6 flour or whole wheat tortillas (I used red chili tortillas that I found at Whole Foods) or you can sub 10 corn for a more traditional enchilada

1/2 cup of low-fat jack cheese (More or less, depending on how cheesy you like your enchi’s)

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Start by making the sour cream sauce.  In a food processor or blender, combine sour cream and 1/2 cup of the green chili enchilada sauce.  Put in the fridge to let the flavors blend while you prepare the other ingredients.

Drizzle some olive oil in a large pan or wok over medium heat and add the onions and garlic.  Saute until onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.  Be careful not to burn the garlic.


Add the mushrooms, frozen corn, oregano, cumin, and dried basil.  Cook until mushrooms and corn are cooked through, about 3-4 more minutes.  Add salt and pepper to taste at this point.  Add the black beans and season the mixture to your liking again.  Last, toss in the chopped chilies.


Remove the veggie mixture from the heat and put a dry pan over the heat.  Once it’s warm, place a tortilla on the dry pan for about  45 seconds on each side.  This will soften up the tortillas so you can roll them without them cracking.

Take a large glass baking dish (I’m sure any dish would work) and pour about 1/4 cup of the green chili enchilada sauce on the bottom of the dish.  This will prevent the tortillas from sticking.

Take your heated tortilla and spoon about a tablespoon of the sour cream mixture into the center of it.  Top with a couple spoonfuls of veggies, and finish with a light sprinkle of cheese.  Take one side of the tortilla and carefully roll it until you have a mini burrito.  Don’t fill these too much though because they are, after all, enchiladas and NOT burritos.  Place the enchilada, seam side down, into the prepared dish.


Continue to do this until you’ve rolled up all of your enchiladas.  (Fyi, I made 6 large enchiladas and had about 1 cup of veggies leftover.  I plan on using them on top of a salad or tossed into some rice later in the week.)


Top your enchiladas with the remaining green chili sauce and a light sprinkling of cheese.  Cover the dish with foil and bake for 25 minutes.  Take the foil off and bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until the cheese is bubbly.  Let them rest for about 5 minutes before you cut into them so that the juices have time to settle.


I served mine on a bed of shredded red cabbage topped with some red salsa that I had in the fridge.  Oh, and for a little added tanginess, don’t forget about the leftover sour cream chili sauce (I didn’t need it buy my boyfriend went a little nuts with it).