Vegan Butternut Squash & Black Bean Enchilada Casserole with Homemade Red Enchilada Sauce

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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So – I am several days into eating only food I already have in the house.  I have WAY too many frozen leftovers & dry pastas & beans etc taking up space & yet I keep going to the store to buy more food. It is ridiculous & wasteful.  Today’s recipe was inspired by a huge butternut squash I had & some other veggies rapidly reaching the end of their shelf life.  I used jarred salsa because I had one open but made the enchilada sauce because I did not already have some in a jar or can.  You can choose to go all jarred or all homemade – your call.

I also roasted a whole butternut squash.  You might want to buy some already cubed & roast those – or just boil them.  This can be as labor-intensive or as simple as you care to make it.

The real star of this dish is this newer vegan cheese I found.  It tastes great & does a fair job at melting – so – I recommend trying it if you see it or can find it online.  It is from Parmela Creamery and you can definitely buy it – and loads of other vegan cheeses – from them.

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Oh – as an aside – TJ Maxx is a great source for kitchen items.  They always have loads of olive oil marked way down.  I stock up every time I go there.

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Vegan Butternut Squash & Black Bean Enchilada Casserole with Homemade Red Enchilada Sauce

Serves 6 well

INGREDIENTS

2 cups red enchilada sauce (my recipe HERE) or your favorite brand or recipe

16 oz salsa – homemade or your favorite brand

olive oil

1 small butternut squash

1/2 medium red (or any other kind) onion – diced

1-3 jalapenos (optional) – seeded & diced

3 tomatoes – diced

2 carrots – diced

1 cup corn

1 12 oz can black beans – drained

1-4 garlic cloves – minced

1/4 cup cilantro – chopped

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp chili powder

15-20 taco-sized corn tortillas

Up to 1 lb grated vegan cheeses of your choice ( I used both cheddar & mozzarella)

S&P to taste

GARNISH: cilantro, sliced scallions, avocado slices, additional salsa or hot sauce

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 375.

I roasted my butternut squash unpeeled & halved.  It was a sorta messy business doing it this way.  In the future, I will peel & cube it first.  Whatever you decide – roast it naked for 20-40 minutes, turning at least once, until it is soft.  If you cooked it like I did – let it cool in the sink & peel & cube it once it is cool enough to handle.  OR – you could peel, cube & boil it until the cubes are soft.  I had a large squash – so I put some extra mashed up into my dogs’ dinner.  They loved it!

Meanwhile, heat 1-2 TBS olive oil in a large saute pan & add the chopped carrots & onions.  When they start to soften, add the tomatoes, jalapenos, corn & black beans.  Add the spices & cilantro.  Heat through.  Add the garlic & saute 1 minute.  Stir in the cubed squash.  Season with S&P & set aside.

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Now – assemble the casserole.  Grease a casserole pan (I used cooking spray).  Put the salsa on the bottom.  The rest can be pretty random – as long as you end with 1/3 of the enchilada sauce & 1/3 of the cheese.

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Layer some corn tortillas & top with 1/3 of the veggie mixture, 1/3 of the cheese & 1/3 of the enchilada sauce.

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Add another 1/3 of the veggie mixture.  Layer with  1/3 of the cheese, more tortillas, the final 1/3 of the veggie & 1/3 of the enchilada sauce.

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Add another layer of tortillas & the rest of the enchilada sauce & cheese.

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I used the casserole glass lid to cover it.  You can do this or use foil.

Bake at 375 for about 25 minutes, remove cover & bake another 10 minutes or so.  Let rest for ten minutes before serving.

Garnish with cilantro or scallions & maybe salsa, hot sauce or a few slices of fresh avocado.  Enjoy!

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Vegan Potato, Leek, Fennel & Turnip Soup with Carrots & Pepitas

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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This soup is very easy & guiltless & comforting & delicious.  I roasted the turnips because I was roasting other veggies & just included them.  Once they were done, I though – why not add them to this soup.  You could roast all the veggies n this soup first, if you wanted to, but that is not necessary.  There is enough flavor going on without that extra step.  The vegetables I used were random & included simply because I had them around.  You can add or delete ingredients according to your taste or what you have handy.

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Vegan Potato, Leek, Fennel & Turnip Soup with Carrots & Pepitas

Makes about 8 cups

INGREDIENTS

3 TBS vegan butter

1 large fennel bulb – chopped (reserve some fronds for garnish)

1 large leek – sliced

1 zucchini – sliced

2 celery stalks – chopped (reserve a few celery leaves for garnish

3 large potatoes – peeled & cubed

3 small turnips – chopped

4 carrots – sliced

4 cups vegetable stock

2 TBS fresh oregano (plus maybe a bit extra for garnish)

2 TBS fresh thyme (plus maybe a bit extra for garnish)

Vegan milk (I used unsweetened almond milk) – maybe a cup or so

S&P

Pepitas as garnish

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DIRECTIONS

I like a few chunks in my pureed soups so – if you do, too – take one carrot & one potato (both cubed) & boil until soft.  Drain & set aside.

If you want the soup completely pureed – skip that step.

Heat the butter in a large stock pot.  Add the chopped, raw veggies & saute until soft.  Add the stock & herbs (no need to chop the herbs) & bring to a boil.

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Very carefully, in batches, blend the soup smooth.  I added just enough almond milk to each batch so that it blended very smoothly.  Reheat.  Add the boiled carrots & potatoes.  Ladle into bowls & garnish with celery leaves or fennel fronds & some pepitas.  Add some cracked pepper.  Enjoy!

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Vegan or Vegetarian Poutine with Vegan Mushroom, Leek & Sage Brown Gravy plus Emily Valentine, 90210, Puddles Pity Party & Chucky!

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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It has been an exciting few weeks.  First of all – I attended Rewind Convention in Chicago for an 80’s-90’s TV & film thingy & lotsa the 90210 folks were there.  It was great seeing them!

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It was as cool as seeing the Child’s Play 2 cast – which I did in September.  Coolest of all was seeing the 90210: The Musical in NYC!   It runs thru Dec. 17 so – if you live near NYC & love 90210 – you MUST go see it.  Here is a little peek:

Is that not BRILLIANT?  I have to say – this homage was as surreal as it was flattering.  Truly – a highlight of my career – to have a character I created recreated by others.  REALLY fun.

Then I got to see & MEET Puddles!!!   If you are unfamiliar – you are really missing out.  He is a 6’8″ sad clown with a truly golden voice!   See him if you ever get the opportunity.

So – it has been an incredible fall for me!

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Oh!  And there is more!   I had a few lines on a new TV show!   See above.  Only a few lines but they were with Topher Grace (swoon!) and Ray Romano – so – that did not suck.  Even the 5am call time was made OK because it was at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery!  And Topher Grace was VERY generous & confessed to having been a big 90210 fan, back in the day.  It is always comforting when other actors acknowledge being aware of you and your work.  And I am a huge fan of Topher’s so – yeah.  That was fun!

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So – yeah – a fun-filled autumn.

So – I realized this week that I am becoming a hoarder.  A food hoarder.  I have moth issues so I like to keep all my dry goods (beans, rice, sugar, flour, pasta etc) in the fridge or freezer.  Still – they keep putting that Di Martino pasta on sale for .79 cents a pound!  I cannot afford NOT to buy it!  So – as I was shoving my twentieth pound of overflow dry goods into my pantry – I saw my pantry.  Really saw it.

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Those drawers are DEEP.  I have enough food in there to last years and I live ALONE!  I have every condiment from American standards to those needed for Thai or Indian or whatever-the-fuck food.  There are about 20 jars of Rao’s Arrabbiata pasta sauce and at least 20 pounds of dry pasta & every kind of canned bean & oil or vinegar of whatever you can think of.  If you can name it – I probably have more than one container of it and if it comes in varieties – I will have several.  I even have canned tuna & meats for my dogs.  It is a fucking problem.

Another problem is that I recently watched the amazing Food Choices documentary.  Click that to watch the trailer.  I already eat about 90% vegan – with cheese being my final hurdle.  The movie really drove home, for me, the idea that eating cheese is really no better than eating meat.  It requires the same suffering & death (of baby calves) – making cheese consumption on par with veal.  I would NEVER eat veal & even silently judge those I hear order it.  Yet – cheese is still on my plate.

So – I went to the farmers’ market in Hollywood the past crisp & gorgeous Sunday morning hoping to find the Soledad Goat folks & buy vegan cheese from them.  They were not there (but I discovered & purchased their cheezes online HERE this week & bought several) – but, like an asshole, I let myself be drawn to the local REAL cheese guy’s table.  I have been longing to experiment with a poutine recipe but have never seen cheese curds anywhere.  I was not even sure what they were.  But – he had them.  They are:

From Wikipedia:

Cheese curds, in cuisine or cooking, are the solid parts of curdled milk either eaten alone or used in various regional dishes mostly in Canada and the northeastern and midwestern United States. They are sometimes referred to as “squeaky cheese“.

Cheese curds start off with fresh milk. The milk is pasteurized, much like in the process of creating cheese. During this process, rennet is added to clot the milk. After the milk has been pasteurized, the result is a mixture of whey and the early stages of the curd. This mixture is then cooked. Next, it is pressed to release the whey from the curd, thus creating the final product of cheese curd.

Characteristics

Their flavor is mild, but can differ in taste depending on the process in which it was made. It has about the same firmness and density as cheese, but with a springy or rubbery texture. Fresh curds squeak against the teeth when bitten into, a defining characteristic due to air trapped inside the porous material. This “squeak” has been described by the New York Times as sounding like “balloons trying to neck”. After 12 hours, even under refrigeration, cheese curds lose much of their “fresh” characteristic, particularly the “squeak”.[4] Keeping them at room temperature can preserve the squeakiness.

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While I debated buying those – he insisted I taste his sage-cheddar.  I did.  It was delicious.  I caved & bought the sage cheese & the curds.  Here are some of his other cheeses & some info on him.

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I also headed to the Korean table because they make the MOST INSANELY DELICIOUS TEMPEH!  I bough two of those.  And a fennel bulb.  Then I became overwhelmed by the choices, the number of vendors peddling produce and, frankly, the prices.  These markets are not cheap.  So – I scuttled home with the tempeh, the guilty cheese & the fennel.

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Several years ago, I realized I had stockpiles of food that were getting out of control.  I did an experiment & tried to ONLY eat what I already had, in an effort to spend ZERO on groceries in one month.  I managed to almost do it but I had to spend a few dollars here and there for non-dairy creamer & stuff.  But – I bought no produce so – after a week or so – I was fresh outta fresh produce & was reduced to eating pastas, rices & breads that I had frozen.  As I state in my novel – and all beige diet has consequences.   I will let you guess what I mean but let’s just say it is very different than, say, an all-BEET diet.  My friends knew I was doing this and began panicking.  Two different people delivered bags of produce to my door.  When I attempted this pantry-emptying plan a second time – again – one of those friends delivered produce to my door.  VERY VERY sweet!  But – I was not on a hunger strike.  I was just challenging myself to stop hoarding & being wasteful of perishables.

So – as I launch into my third effort to spend zero on groceries (wine being an exception – and eating in restaurants doesn’t count, either) – I will still allow myself my regular twice-monthly delivery of produce from Farm Fresh to You.  That way – my friends won’t be wringing their hands, terrified that my bones are crumbling & my skin is falling off or whatever it is they fear.   I will attempt to keep a log of what I eat & what money I spend.  Yesterday – I spent just under $10 at Carneys.  I had a Garden burger & fries.  For dinner – a small salad.

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Today’s breakfast.  That is the best almond milk – in my opinion.  And vegans, beware!  Those Morning Star sausages are only vegetarian – not vegan!  Bear with me – these posts will get more and more creative as I am forcing myself to eat what I have without buying anything – for a month!   We will see how it goes.

OK – on to the POUTINE!  I do not think I have ever had poutine but the idea appeals to me.  You can use fresh cheese curds (as I did) or mozzarella or VEGAN cheese – like this amazing stuff below.

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That little bag costs $8 but is the best & meltiest vegan mozzarella I have found – after my own homemade vegan mozzarella – seen below.

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OK – so – you can make poutine using frozen fries & canned gravy & make this very easily.  I opted to MAKE the fries as I describe HERE.  And – I made a new vegan gravy because my other vegan gravy does not have the rich & dark color I wanted for the poutine.

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So – first up – the

Vegan Mushroom, Leek & Sage Brown Gravy

INGREDIENTS

5 TBS vegan butter

2 cups chopped mushrooms

1 leek

ten or more sage leaves

1/2 cup flour

6 cups vegetable stock

2 TBS soy sauce (or tamari or liquid aminos)

2 tsp Kitchen Bouquet

Chives – chopped for garnish (optional)

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DIRECTIONS

Finely chop the mushrooms & leek.  I pulsed them in my food processor.  If you do not own one – maybe just blend the finished gravy to make it smooth.

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Heat the stock in a soup pan.  Add the soy sauce & kitchen bouquet.  Simmer.

In another pan, melt FOUR of the five tablespoons of the butter & saute the vegetables until soft.  Add the flour & stir to combine.  Add the stock 1/2 to 1 cup at at time – over high heat – until the gravy thickens.  If it is too thin once you add all the stock – just boil it down a bit.

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Melt the remaining TBS of butter & fry the sage leaves a minute or two.  Drain them on a paper towl & crumble.  Add to the gravy.  Add the leftover sage butter to the gravy.  Voila!

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Vegan or Vegetarian Poutine with Vegan Mushroom, Leek & Sage Brown Gravy

INGREDIENTS

French fries – either THESE homemade, or your recipe or frozen ones

Gravy – either the recipe above or your favorite one

Cheese curds or grated cheese or vegan cheese

Chives or parsley as garnish

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Once the fries are crispy & the gravy is warm – assemble the poutine:  fries, cheese, gravy & some chives or parsley.  Shove’m in your pie hole fast – before they get soggy.  Or – you can just dip fries & cheese in gravy.

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Vegan One-Pan Chicken Piccata with Green Beans & Roasted Potatoes

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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This is a very, very easy dish.  It can be made with your favorite vegan chicken (or even real chicken, if you eat it, put in the pan skin-side up).  I have not eaten chicken since the eighties & I pretty much always use Beyond Meat chicken when making vegan chicken dishes.    You can use as much chicken to potato to green bean as you desire.   I prefer a heavier vegetable content.  Others like more protein.  You can decide for yourself how much of each of the three ingredients you need to feed your head count.

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 Vegan One-Pan Chicken Piccata with Green Beans & Roasted Potatoes

This recipe feeds two very heartily

INGREDIENTS

9-12 oz vegan chicken

3/4 lb green beans – trimmed

8-10 potatoes – cut into large bite-sized pieces

3 lemons

6 TBS olive oil

4 oz (more or less – to taste) capers

2-6 cloves garlic – chopped

S&P

Garnish – chopped fresh parsley, additional capers, lemon wedges

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or treat a casserole dish with cooking oil.

Whisk the olive oil & about 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice with the garlic & season with S&P to taste.

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Thinly slice one or two lemons & layer the bottom of your cooking pan.

Toss the green beans in the lemon juice & olive oil in a pan or bowl.  Using tongs – put them on one third of the cooking pan – leaving the remaining olive oil mixture in the bowl.  Toss the chicken & place it in the center of the pan.  Toss the potatoes & put them on the pan.  Reserve the remaining oil & juice.  Add a bit of S&P.  Do not add the capers yet.  My photos show that I did but they got a bit too dried out.

Roast about 25 minutes & then mix each of the rows up a bit so the other sides of things can roast.  Add the capers.  Cook another 25 minutes or so or until everything looks done to you.  You can remove anything that seems done & keep roasting other things – the potatoes, for instance – until they are done to your liking.

Plate & garnish with the remaining olive oil & lemon, extra capers, parsley & lemon wedges.

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Easy 5-Ingredient Fresh Mint & Zucchini Pasta (Vegan or Vegetarian)

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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I started this blog on about July 5, 2012.  On July 13, 2012, I posted one of my all-time favorite recipes.  It is one I got from my good friend, Naomi Priestley.  It is Zucchini & Mint Pasta with Parmesan (seen just above).  But – it is such a divine dish – I thought I would post it again with a few new options.  1) It can be made without cheese altogether or 2) without cheese but with a squeeze of lemon juice or 3) with vegan Parmesan.

Do not be thrown by the idea of mint in a pasta dish – it is delicious!  It is especially lovely when you use fresh, homemade pasta – but dry pasta is fine, too.  If you do not consider oil and S&P to be legit ingredients – this is a 5 ingredient dish & comes together in less than 20 minutes.

I bought this ridiculous $5 micro basil because it looks pretty.  It is tasty, too, but it is certainly an unnecessary indulgence.

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Fresh Mint & Zucchini Pasta (Vegan or Vegetarian)

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS

1/2 lb pasta – cooked & drained

Olive oil

3-5 zucchini – either grated or spiralized or sliced (you can use as much zucchini as you like to mitigate the amount of pasta you eat or to, at least, lighten up the dish)

1-3 cloves garlic – chopped

1/4 cup fresh mint – chopped

S&P to taste

OPTIONS – Parmesan or vegan Parmesan (to taste) and or a squeeze of fresh lemon juice

Garnish: chopped mint and/or parsley and/or basil, more cheese, crushed red pepper

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DIRECTIONS

Cook & drain the pasta.

I spiralized the zucchini but you can grate or slice it.  Spiralizing is a good way to bury veggies in a spaghetti dish so your kids do not notice the veggies in there.  I sliced the ends that were too short to spiralize.

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Heat a glug or two of olive oil in a large saute pan.  Saute the garlic for about 30 seconds & then add the zucchini.  Saute a few minutes & then add mint and season with S&P.   When the zucchini is soft – add the pasta & combine.  Add cheese or vegan cheese here – if you are using it – or squeeze in some lemon – if you are going that route.  Plate & serve with cheese and/or chopped herbs (mint or basil or parsley).

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Vegan “Eat Your Greens” Warm Broccoli Rice Salad with Rainbow Chard, Basil, Mint, Avocado & Citrus Vinaigrette

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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Living alone & being nearly a complete recuse can make eating all the food I buy.  I buy produce with a thousand inspirations in my head – often forgetting that I have to eat everything I make myself.  That can get difficult – especially with produce like avocados & leafy greens that have a short shelf life.  Yesterday – I made a Spicy Vegan Szechuan Beef & Vegetable Stir-Fry (seen above) that used a lot of the veggies I had around – but – it did not use everything.  I also had a lot of leftover basmati rice.  So – I dreamed up this salad.  I used a little (1 cup) of the rice I had.  You could use more – or less – depending on how light you want this to be.  You could also use quinoa or brown rice or some ancient grain of your choice.  Whatever you decide – this salad is full of nutrients & tastes clean & light & fresh.  If you do not add the avocado – this salad will keep in the fridge for a few days.  Just add the avocado just before serving.

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Vegan “Eat Your Greens” Warm Broccoli Rice Salad with Rainbow Chard, Basil, Mint, Avocado & Citrus Vinaigrette

Serves 2-4 depending on appetite

INGREDIENTS

2 TBS olive oil (or coconut oil)

1 cup cooked rice or other grain (optional)

1 head broccoli – grated or pulsed in a food processor

1 cucumber – chopped

1 zucchini – chopped

Avocado – amount at your discretion – sliced

2-3 scallions – sliced

1 bunch (6-8 leaves) rainbow chard (or other greens of your choice) – ribs removed & chopped

1/3 cup fresh basil – chopped

1/3 cup fresh mint – chopped

Pepitas (or other nuts) – amount at your discretion

GARNISH: basil, mint, lime wedges

for the dressing

2 TBS olive oil

2 TBS cider vinegar

2 TBS fresh lime (or lemon) juice (or a combination)

1 tsp lemon or lime zest

2 TBS Dijon mustard

1 or 2 TBS agave (I used 2 but might go less next time)

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

S&P to taste

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DIRECTIONS

Whisk the dressing together & adjust flavors to suit your tastes.

Pulse the broccoli in a food processor or grate it (grating is very messy).

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Heat the olive oil in a large pan over high heat.  Add the broccoli & rice & toss.  Add the zucchini & chard.  Add a few TBS water & cover the pan & remove from heat.  You just want to warm everything through & get the chard & broccoli & zucchini wilt a bit.

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In 5 minutes or so – put the rice mixture in a large bowl (or in the pan) & toss in the scallions, mint & basil & cucumber & some (not all) the dressing.

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Put some of the warm salad on plates & garnish with avocado slices, pepitas, extra basil and/or mint, lime wedges, additional dressing & freshly cracked pepper.

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Spicy Vegan Szechuan Beef & Vegetable Stir-Fry

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2016

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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This is really easy & does not use any ingredients that are especially exotic.  I added WAY too many hot peppers & blasted my face off with this one – so – I will recommend using less spice here than I did.  I used Gardein Beefless Tips that I found in the freezer section of my local Ralph’s.  You can use these or any other meat replacement you prefer.  The ratio of veggies is an entirely personal one.  You can take my suggestions or wing it – or just go straight beef & rice.  Your call.  But it is easy & bursting with flavor!

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Spicy Vegan Szechuan Beef & Vegetable Stir-Fry

Serves 4 with cooked rice

INGREDIENTS

Cooked rice of your choice

2 TBS coconut oil (or other cooking oil)

9 oz meatless beef – defrosted

2 cups broccoli florets

2 bell peppers – seeded & cut into strips

3 carrots – chopped

1 leek or medium onion – chopped

1 large zucchini – chopped

4 oz mushrooms – sliced

1-2 jalapenos or serranos (seeded to lessen the heat) – or to taste – diced

1-3 tsp cornstarch (optional)

for the sauce

2 TBS vegan oyster-flavored or mushroom-flavored sauce

1 TBS minced ginger

1 TBS minced garlic

2 TBS chili garlic sauce (or sambal oelek)

1 TBS liquid aminos (or tamari or soy sauce)

1 TBS dark soy sauce

1 tsp chili oil

1 TBS sesame oil

1 TBS dark berry jam (or molasses or brown sugar)

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INSTRUCTIONS

Cook the rice & set aside.

Mix the sauce & pour it into the bag with the faux beef & smoosh it around to marinate.

Heat the coconut oil in a wok or large fry pan.  I added the leeks & carrots & mushrooms first – because they take the longest to soften.

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Add the fest of the produce.  Broccoli & zucchini cook fastest – so I added them last.  Once the veggies are cooked to your liking, stir in the beef & marinade.  You might want to add a bit of water – but not much.  If the sauce feels too thin – whisk in a tsp of cornstarch.  Mine did not need it but yours might.  Toss to heat through & serve with rice.

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