Vegan or Vegetarian or Not – Spicy Beef & Cheese Nachos with Baked Corn Tortilla Chips & and Simple Guacamole

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2014

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

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First of all – a friend sent me this picture today.  It HAS to be ME – right?  Am I not the only cigarette-smoking blonde to ever “kill” Chucky?

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Here I am with Alex Vincent – then & now.

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At any rate – I am very pleased with that illustration!!!

So – this recipe requires two other recipes I posted today – the Purist’s Homemade Guacamole & Baked Corn Tortilla Chips.  OR – you can just buy some ships & use any guacamole you want – or skip the guac entirely.  Your call.

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I used these ingredients – Beyond Meat’s Vegan Beefy Crumbles & a can of hot chiles & a can of Campbell’s Cheddar Soup (so MY version was not vegan) :

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I want to say that Campbell’s has a Feisty Nacho Cheese Soup that would likely work better than my version of nacho cheese resulting from combining that 1 can of soup with that can of chiles & a tsp of sriracha.  I found the texture of the soup “cheese” to be more like a custard & not flavorful enough.  So – either try the Feisty nacho soup or use a can/jar of actual nacho cheese that you get in the chip aisle or – better yet – use REAL or vegan shredded cheese & bake the nachos in the oven the traditional way.  If you use the soupy cheese – you can just heat it stove-top & pour it over the chips.

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I used the Beyond Meat Crumbles but you could use another brand or even real ground beef.

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Spicy Beef

INGREDIENTS

11 oz vegan (or real) ground beef

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp smoked paprika

olive oil (not required if you use real meat)

DIRECTIONS

If using vegan meat, heat 1 tbs olive oil over medium heat & add the other ingredients & heat through.  Leave on the lowest flame to keep warm until you are ready to assemble the nachos.  If using real meat, cook it with the spices until it is done.  Keep warm until you are ready to use it.

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NACHOS

INGREDIENTS are really just suggestions. I used:

1 fresh jalapeno – diced

Jarred pickled jalapenos

Chopped tomato

Cilantro

Cheese (see above) – you can use vegan or real grated cheese or a jarred nacho sauce or devise one (as I did with underwhelming results) from a combo of cheese soup, canned chiles & a tsp sriracha.

Chips

Guacamole

OTHER IDEAS that I did not include:  Salsa or pico de gallo, sour cream (or vegan alternative), sliced black olives, black beans, refried beans, corn, diced red onion, shredded cabbage or lettuce etc…

DIRECTIONS

Once you have your chips (homemade or otherwise) & guacamole (ditto) – assemble your nachos.  If you went with a pourable version of cheese – simply heat it & pour it over the chips & add the other toppings.

If you used grated cheese (real or vegan) – layer the ingredients (but not the guacamole or tomato/salsa & jalapenos or sour cream – because those are better added once the nachos come out of the oven) & bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes or until your cheese is as melted as you desire.

Garnish as you will & shove that shit in your face!  Mmmmmmmmm!

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A Purist’s Homemade Guacamole & Baked Corn Tortilla Chips

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2014

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

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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I am an absolute purist when it comes to guacamole.  Three ingredients only!  Avocado, lime juice & salt.  I know people add salsa and cilantro or jalapeno or spices etc but if the avocados are perfect, I think it is a crime to fuck with them.

These chips used only cooking spray & 12 minutes in the oven.  So much healthier & just as crunchy.  I hear they keep in an air-tight container for up to 5 days but I ate all mine – so I cannot vouch for that.

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Baked Corn Tortilla Chips

INGREDIENTS

Corn tortillas

Cooking spray

Salt (optional)

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cut the tortillas & spread on parchment paper (or cooking sheet treated with cooking spray) – spread without touching each other so they crisp the most, spray with cooking oil (add salt if you want to) and cook 10-12 minutes or until they are golden & crunchy.  My oven heats unevenly so mine cooking unevenly.  To avoid this – you might want to spin the pan in the oven every few minutes.

Put into a bowl to cool & set aside.

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A Purist’s Homemade Guacamole

INGREDIENTS

2 avocados (keep the pits!)

juice of 1/2 lime (or more to taste)

1/2 tsp salt (or more to taste)

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DIRECTIONS

Scoop the avocado out of the skin & chop in a bowl.  Add salt & lime juice & keep mashing until it is as chunky or as smooth as you like.  Put the pits BACK INTO the bowl when you are done & this tricks the avocados into thinking they are still in tact & the guacamole will not brown nearly as quickly.  Serve with the chips & a cold cerveza & get your chow on.

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Vegan Moroccan Meatball Soup with Israeli Couscous & Waterfront Film Festival!

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2014

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

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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I have been shirking my blogging duties lately because last weekend was year 16 of the AWESOME Waterfront Film Festival (Waterfront on Facebook) – a festival I have programmed for every year.  This year was our second season in South Haven, Michigan – having been in Saugatuck for 14 years before that.  We screened a ton of amazing films & the weather was gorgeous & I got to meet a lot of new folks & reunite with some old friends.  Internationally acclaimed artist Ron English did our poster again this year

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and he even came early & painted this mural – IN A DAY.  That is my stepdad, Alvan Long, in the black get-up.

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Besides beaches & murals & movies – there were lots of parties & lotsa this kinda thing:

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As you might imagine, it takes a few days to recover from such debauchery – but recovered I am!  Sorta.  Still too lazy to get nuts in the kitchen but I made this soup today & it came together in about 20-30 minutes & tastes amazing!  EASY & healthy & vegan.  I used these products from Trader Joe’s:

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but you could use any vegan (or not) meatball or another grain – like barley or something.   So easy & flavorful – I hope you try it!

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Vegan Moroccan Meatball Soup with Israeli Couscous

serves 4

INGREDIENTS

1 1/4 cup uncooked Israeli couscous

1/2 lb vegan meatballs

1-2 TBS olive oil

1 medium onion – minced

6 garlic cloves – minced

4 cups vegetable stock

2 TBS mint – chopped (plus more as garnish)

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp ground cumin

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

1/2 tsp curry powder

1/2 tsp dry oregano

1/2 tsp dry mustard

1/2 tsp dry thyme

1/2 tsp chili powder

S&P to taste

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DIRECTIONS

NOTE – I tried the leftovers of this soup the next day & by day two – the spices seemed heavy-handed.  So – if you are going to eat this immediately – spice it up.  If you expect leftovers or intend to let it simmer long time – maybe reduce the spices by half and season it more (if it needs it) before serving.

Despite the photos above – keep your vegan meatballs OUT until the end to prevent them from falling apart.

Cook your couscous according to the package & set aside.  This should take 15 minutes.

Meanwhile – heat olive oil in a large stock pot over medium heat & saute the onion (not the garlic) with the dry spices until the onion softens – a few minutes.  Add the garlic for one minute & then add the stock.  Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer & add the couscous & meatballs.  Season with S&P – add some mint – and you are pretty much good to go.  The longer it gets to simmer – the better the flavors meld but be careful not to break up your meatballs.  If it gets too thick – add water.

Serve with more chopped mint & slurp it up!

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Wheat Berry Salad with Orange Vinaigrette – in a Mason Jar

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2014

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

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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This is a very easy recipe & you can tweak it any way you desire.   Lose the cheese for a vegan version or add other veggies or pomegranate seeds or nuts.  Go crazy!  The jar is a nice way to bring the salad to work or a picnic.

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Wheat Berry Salad with Orange Vinaigrette – in a Mason Jar

Feeds 2 well as a main course or 4 as a side

INGREDIENTS

Orange Vinaigrette

2 cups cooked wheat berries

1 cup cooked (or canned) black-eyed peas – rinsed

1 cup dried cranberries (or other dry fruit)

1/2 cup red cabbage – chopped

1/2 cup feta cheese – crumbled

1/2 cup red onion – diced

1/2 cup fresh mint – chopped

S&P

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DIRECTIONS

Toss that salad!   Add dressing in small increments until you get it like you like it.  MMMMM!

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Orange Vinaigrette

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2014

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

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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Orange Vinaigrette

2 oranges – zest & juice

2 TBS white balsamic vinegar (or regular balsamic)

2 TBS honey (or agave nectar – if you are vegan)

1/2 cup good quality olive oil

S&P to taste

Shake all the ingredients up.

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Easy Vegan Spicy Lamb Curry

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2014

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

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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This is easy & yummy & comes together fast. I used leftover spiced “lamb” seitan from my recent Vegan Gyro recipe (seen above)

If you do not want to make the seitan (it is REALLY EASY – I promise) – then just use some other vegan version of a red meat.   The seitan was a bit spongier than is ideal for this but it really is delicious & so satisfying to have made it truly from scratch.

So – without further ado – I present:

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Easy Vegan Spicy Lamb Curry

Serves 4-6 with rice

INGREDIENTS

Approximately 1 lb seitan spiced “lamb” or other vegan meat cubed – or real lamb  ;-(

Olive oil

1 large onion – chopped

5 tomatoes – diced

2 jalapenos – seeded & diced

1 cup vegan yogurt (or regular yogurt – if you are not vegan)

1 tsp fresh ginger – minced

4 garlic cloves – minced

1-2 cups cilantro – chopped

2 tsp ground coriander

2 tsp red chili powder

2 tsp garam masala

1 TBS turmeric

pinch of cloves

pinch of cinnamon

Salt to taste

Cooked Rice

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DIRECTIONS

Cook some rice.

In a LARGE saute pan, heat 2 TBS olive oil.  Saute the onion & jalapeno & the cubed “lamb” until the onions are soft.  You might need to add a bit more olive oil – if it gets too dry.  Have the tomatoes diced & ready to go – but add the garlic first.  After 30 seconds – add the tomatoes & everything else.  Simmer over medium until heated the flavors have time together – 20 minutes or more – or until your real lamb is cooked.  Add salt to taste – at least a teaspoon – in my opinion.

Serve over rice with chopped cilantro as garnish.  Then go online & buy my HILARIOUS & dirty novel – Bathing & the Single Girl.

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Vegan Gyro (with Homemade Seitan) & Tzatziki Sauce

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2014

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

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All my posts now have a VERY customizable PRINT & PDF option.  Create a PDF & save the recipe to your computer or print it out.  It offers a “remove images” option & you can delete any part of the post you do not need before printing.  The button is below by the Twitter & Facebook links.

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I have been very excited lately with a bunch of vegan recipes using store-bought vegan meat products.  Despite success with them, I have been intimidated by anything requiring homemade seitan or “nutritional yeast flakes.”  Well, mommy grew a pair this weekend & went to the fucking health food store & bought the Goddamned nutritional yeast & some of this stuff:

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Here is what Bob’s Red Mill has to say about nutritional yeast (which isn’t YEAST):

“Nutritional yeast is grown on enriched purified cane and beet molasses under carefully controlled conditions. T6635, with the addition of vitamin B12, is an ideal vegetarian support formula and has an appealing cheese flavor. It can be sprinkled over popcorn or salads, added to juice, cereal, smoothies, gravies, soups or casseroles, or used to make sandwich spreads.”

Here is what Wellness Today has to say about nutritional yeast:

Why is it so good for you?

Nutritional yeast is jam-packed with essential vitamins and minerals. In fact, it’s one of the best non-animal sources of folic acid and vitamin B-12.  The yellow color of the flakes is a result of their large amount of vitamin B – ½ tbsp. fulfills your entire daily vitamin B needs. In addition to B-12, nutritional yeast is high in 15 different minerals and 18 amino acids. Talk about a super food!

The yeast itself is grown on beets and dehydrated, so don’t let the word “yeast” scare you away. Since it is plant derived and dried out, it’s free of the harmful candida that can wreck havoc on your digestive system. Think of it as the kind of yeast your body will love!

Who can benefit from it?

The easy answer is vegans since nutritional yeast is such a good source of the vitamins and minerals usually found in animal meat and dairy products like cheese and milk. If you are as carnivorous as they come, I encourage you to still give nutritional yeast a try. It’s a great way to reap the benefits of meat without having to eat it everyday. Chances are your body and your wallet will thank you!

What can I use it for?

My good friend Shannon, who happens to be my healthy living guru, is notorious for her love of nutritional yeast. So her answer to this question would be – anything and everything! Nutritional yeast actually doesn’t have a really strong flavor, but it is slightly salty and reminiscent of Parmesan cheese. It packs a great punch of umami, meaning it brings all other flavors in the dish together in delicious harmony. My favorite way to use nutritional yeast is sprinkling it on popcorn for a guilt-free snack:

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See those ribs above?  NOT MEAT!  They were made from vital wheat gluten (sans nutritional yeast)!   The recipe is HERE.

Wowed by my own success with those (and with how easy they were), I decided to try a Greek gyro sandwich – typically made with lamb.  The gyro was just as easy if not a total show-stopper.  I mean, those ribs set the bar pretty high – so do not think the gyro was a failure – because it wasn’t.  It was awesome!  And I have lots of leftover “spiced lamb” to experiment with over the next few days.

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So – once you have the vital wheat gluten & nutritional yeast (and the tahini) in hand – the rest of the ingredients are pretty run of the mill.  This will make a little loaf in a loaf pan (4×8?) – that is about an inch thick.  Enough for 5-6 gyros – or for several recipes.  Stay tuned!

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My tzatziki recipe I used can be found HERE and I used some of the toum (garlic paste), too.

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Vegan Gyro

INGREDIENTS

Pita or naan

Tzatziki sauce (optional)

Garlic paste (optional)

Garnish options: lemon or lime wedge, sliced onion, sliced tomato, shredded lettuce and maybe a quinoa tabbouleh salad – as seen above!

for the seitan

1 1/4 cups vital wheat gluten

4 TBS nutritional yeast

1/4 onion – minced

1 clove garlic – minced

1 tsp salt

1 tsp onion powder

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp dry basil

1 tsp dry oregano

1 tsp black pepper

2 DROPS (like tears drops – because this shit gets overpowering FAST) liquid smoke (optional)

1 TBS tahini

2 TBS ketchup

3/4 cup water (or more if necessary)

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DIRECTIONS

for the seitan

Heat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a food processor, I pulsed the onion, garlic, tahini, ketchup, nutritional yeast flakes, liquid smoke, water & dry spices together but you could do this in a large bowl.

Or – mix all the wet ingredients (onion, garlic, liquid smoke, water, ketchup, tahini) in one bowl & the dry (wheat gluten, nutritional yeast, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, basil, oregano & pepper) in another & combine them.  It comes together fast & looks like raw hamburger – if hamburger was doughy.

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Grease a loaf pan & press this shit in there, COVER IT WITH FOIL & bake it for about an hour.  Or just kinda shape it on some foil, wrap it up & bake it.

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for the gyro

When you are ready to make the sandwich, slice off some seitan & fry it up until warmed through.

Grab your wrapping device (Pita or naan, silly!  I didn’t say RAPPING device you crazy-eyed MC’s out there!) – and layer the things on it you choose – like garlic paste, seitan, onion, lettuce, tomato & tzatziki.  Squeeze a lemon on there if you are feeling all summer fresh!   Then get your grub on – all vegan-style & shit!

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