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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vromans front

vromans back

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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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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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Chicago Veggie Hot Dog Taco on a Gluten-free Cauliflower Tortilla

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

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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Another way to avoid carbohydrates!  Cauliflower tortillas!  A traditional Chicago hot-dog would be served on a poppy seed bun & use something called sport peppers.  I didn’t have sport peppers (nor have I ever heard of them) but I did have leftover roasted jalapenos – so I used those.  A real Chicago dog would use white onions – but I had red.  They call for dill pickles – so I used my homemade ones.  Yellow mustard only – no Dijon or other fancy stuff & sweet relish, which I usually hate but I thought it was great on these.  And lastly, it should be sprinkled with celery salt but I discovered that I had none after it was too late.  I loved the result here so much, however, that I am buying celery salt tomorrow & I am going to look for sport peppers.

You could make these using real hot dogs or with a real bun.  But these guys are really satisfying the way I assembled them so, if you eat veggie dogs & wanna go even lighter with them – this is the way to go.

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24-Hour Easy Refrigerator Dill Pickles

INGREDIENTS

1.5 lbs cucumbers (I used cocktail cucumbers – but you can try any variety you find available) – cut into spears or 1/4″ chips.

8 garlic cloves – 4 quartered, 4 left whole

8-16 sprigs fresh dill

2 TBS coriander SEEDS (not ground)

3 TBS sea (or Kosher) salt

2 TBS sugar

1 1/3 cups white vinegar

water

Jars for containing the pickles

DIRECTIONS

NOTE – these are very garlicky!!!  If you don’t LOVE garlic – cut the garlic back a lot.

In a sauce pan – heat the vinegar & add the salt, sugar & coriander seeds.  Heat, stirring, just until both the sugar & salt dissolve.  Try to get this done before the vinegar gets hot.  If it gets very hot – let it cool before pouring over your cucumbers.

Put your cucumbers in the pickling container (a mason jar, old pickle jar – or other container with a water-tight lid) – with the garlic & the fresh dill.  Pour the vinegar mix over the cucumbers.  Add water to fill the container to the top.  Seal the container & chill in the fridge for at least 24 hours.  Try one.  ENJOY!

These should last in your fridge (in a sealed container) for up to one month.  If they get too vinegary – drain the jar & replace the vinegar with fresh water.

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Chicago Veggie Hot Dog Taco on a Gluten-free Cauliflower Tortilla

INGREDIENTS

Hot dogs (heated whichever way you like)

Cauliflower tortilla (or a bun) – toasted or not – as you like

Sport peppers (or roasted jalapenos)

Yellow mustard

Sweet relish

Dill pickle spears

White onions – diced

Tomato – diced

Celery Salt

DIRECTIONS

Layer the cauliflower tortilla (or other tortilla or bun) with the hot dog, mustard, dill pickle spear, onions, sweet relish, tomato & celery salt.  Shove it in your face like a competitive eater.  Smile!

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Gluten-Free Cauliflower Tortillas as Goat Cheese, Roasted Pepper & Spinach Pizza or Margherita Pizza

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

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 made these cauliflower tortillas as part of a recent effort to shed a few pounds – quickly.  I am cutting out bread, pasta, white rice, flour tortillas, potatoes – you know – white carbohydrates.  I am on day three of just cutting out those things & have lost four pounds already!  Of course, I lost two of them in just a single, one-hour class at my gym (owned by Billy Blanks siblings – Irene & Michael).  I lost two pounds this morning despite downing a 51 ounce bottle of water during the class.

At any rate, I made these with the plan to make tacos out of them last night but pizza just sounded so much better!  So – little 6″ pizzas it was.

This is really just a simpler variation of my Cauliflower Pizza Crust Dough recipe – but they really are easy & can be used as the basis for pizza or tacos or, as I will show soon, to replace hot dog buns.  One fairly large head of cauliflower produced about six 6″ tortillas.  The toppings I used were sorta random.  I had a bunch of jalapeno, red & orange bell, red jalapeno & poblano peppers that were getting a tad wilty.  I roasted them on the stove top.  You do this right on the burners (or under a broiler in the oven) by just charring the outside completely black.  You then steam them for 5-10 minutes by putting them in a covered container.  Under cool water, rub the skins off & remove the seeds.  Then just store them for later use.

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Gluten-Free Cauliflower Tortillas

INGREDIENTS

1 large head of cauliflower

3 eggs

Generous pinches of onion powder, oregano and S&P.

DIRECTIONS

Rice the cauliflower by grating it – either by hand or with a food processor.

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Put an inch or two of water in a large stock pot & add the cauliflower.  Bring to a boil & then reduce heat to med-low & simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.  Drain into a colander lined with a kitchen towel & run cold water over it.

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Squeeze as much water out of the cauliflower as possible.  The drier you get it, the better!

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Mix in a bowl with the eggs & spices.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper & press the mixture into little tortillas about 1/4′ thick or thinner.

Bake in an oven pre-heated to 375 degrees for 10-12 minutes & then flip & repeat.

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Cool on a wire rack so they do not steam themselves & get soggy.

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I made two mini-pizzas from these guys by baking them (with toppings) at about 425 for about 10-15 minutes (or until cheese is bubbly & melted).  One was topped with:

Spinach

Goat cheese

Sliced tomato

Chopped roasted peppers

Crushed red pepper

and the other was simply – Margherita using:

Sliced tomato

Mozzarella

Crushed red pepper

Chopped basil as garnish

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Lavash Pizza with Whipped Feta, Grilled Eggplant, Red Onions & Arugula Salad

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

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 love pizzas with cold salads on top of them.  I will even dump a bunkus “house salad” of iceberg lettuce & shaved carrots on a slice – if I find myself in a pizza joynt.  But arugula salad is my favorite salad & arugula tops pizza so delightfully – I hope you give this a try.

This particular pizza was so delicious last night – I kept thinking, “I think this is my favorite pizza ever.”  That is saying a lot because I experiment with pizza nearly weekly.  Last August, I posted a Grilled Indian Eggplant Pizza with Feta, Tomatoes & Black Olives made with tiny, little Indian eggplants.

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And while that pizza was yummy – the one last night was a revelation.  Maybe the lavash (rather than pizza dough) allowed the subtle flavors to come through better.  I’m not sure.  But I really recommend this pizza with all the enthusiasm I can muster.  If lavash isn’t available near you – try this with tortillas – like I did HERE.

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I used Japanese eggplants here & sliced them VERY thin.

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You can use regular eggplant but that can sometimes be bitter.  I sliced my Japanese eggplants as thin as I could with a mandolin & then dredged them through some bullshit Italian dressing I had.

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I grilled them on each side for about a minute or two.

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You could pan sear them a few minutes on each side or use a grill pan – or even roast them at 450 for just a few minutes.  But I think precooking them some way is sorta critical to the overall result here.  Still – you could probably use them raw – just slice them PAPER thin.

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I will not give specific quantities of certain toppings here because that is really a matter of personal taste – but I will show you what I used.  Also – fresh mozzarella is nicer than the processed kind you typically buy grated up for pizza topping but that can also be used.  The fresh is better, though.

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Lavash Pizza with Whipped Feta, Grilled Eggplant, Red Onions & Arugula Salad

INGREDIENTS

Lavash (or tortillas or pizza dough)

Whipped feta ((t is made by simply blending 8 oz of feta with 3 oz cream cheese & just enough water to get them to blend in your food processor (or other tool you use to whip things)

Japanese eggplant – sliced very thin

Red onion – sliced paper thin

Cherry tomatoes (or other tomato) – diced

Fresh mozzarella – sliced

Fresh oregano – chopped

Crushed red pepper

S&P to taste

Arugula

Lemon

Olive oil

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DIRECTIONS

If using lavash or tortillas, preheat the oven to 350.  If using pizza dough – heat it to 500.

Dip the sliced eggplant in an oil based Italian (or Greek) dressing (or olive oil) & grill just to soften & give some color.

To assemble simply layer your lavash with whipped feta, eggplant, fresh oregano, mozzarella, tomatoes, onion and crushed red pepper.   Bake for about 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted & the lavash is browned at the edges.

Meanwhile, toss the arugula in a LITTLE olive oil & some fresh lemon juice.  Add S&P to taste.

When the pizza is done, top it with the arugula salad & serve it up!

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Tortilla Pizza with Whipped Feta, Cilantro Pesto & Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

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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Today is the first anniversary of my blog!!!!!!  AND – the 4th birthday of my gorgeous daughter, Moxie!!!  Here is how she woke up this morning.  As you can see – my dogs have it pretty rough.

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At any rate – a year!  Today!  I can hardly believe it.  And I wonder if I can come up with another year’s worth of entries.  It is already a challenge for me to come up with new things – so you might want to brace yourself for some kooky ideas!

Thanks for reading.  Please – tell your friends.  And if you are not already receiving emails about my posts – just click the “follow this blog” link under my photo there on the right.  Cheers!

So!

Pizza on flour tortillas!  Easy & fast.  And maybe a little lighter in the carbohydrate area, too.  The salsa recipe here is quite spicy but really tasty.  You might opt to cut the amount of jalapeno or lose the chipotle pepper – if spices bother you.  The feta & cilantro & salsa really do create a wonderful combination of flavors, though, so the salsa is worth the effort.

I went rather light with the toppings so that they did not get the tortilla too soggy so keep that in mind when you assemble yours.  The layer of whipped feta seemed to create a decent barrier between the tortilla & the wetter ingredients.

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Tortilla Pizza with Whipped Feta, Cilantro Pesto & Roasted Tomatillo Salsa

INGREDIENTS

Flour tortillas

Cherry (or other) tomatoes – diced

Fresh mozzarella – sliced

Whipped feta (It is made by simply blending 8 oz of feta with 3 oz cream cheese & just enough water to get them to blend in your food processor (or other tool you use to whip things).

Chopped cilantro for garnish

For the cilantro pesto

1 bunch cilantro – stems & all

1/4 cup walnuts

2 TBS Parmesan – grated

2 garlic cloves

juice of 1/2 lime

1/4 cup (or so) olive oil

S&P

For the roasted tomatillo salsa

10 tomatillos

1 Roma (or other) tomato – quartered

2 jalapeno peppers

6 cloves garlic still in their peels

1/2 onion

1/3 cup cilantro

1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce

1 TBS lime juice

olive oil

1/2 tsp salt

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DIRECTIONS

For the cilantro pesto

Toast the walnuts in a dry pan for about 3 minutes or until fragrant – being careful not to burn them.  Put them in your food processor with the remaining ingredients & pulse into a pesto.  You might need more or less olive oil so you can reach your desired consistency.  A little water can be added to thin it, too.

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For the roasted tomatillo salsa

Heat the oven to 375.  Peel the papery skins off of the tomatillos & wash them.  Take half of them & put onto a baking sheet with the UNPEELED garlic (ignore that mine pictured here are peeled) and the jalapenos & toss in a little olive oil.

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Roast for about 30 minutes or until they begin to char.  Place in a sealed container for about 15 minutes to sweat them.  Squeeze the garlic out of the skins into your clean food processor.  Then – under cool water, peel & seed the jalapenos & the tomatillos.  The tomatillos are likely to have roasted away to almost nothing.  Place the peeled (don’t worry if you cannot get all the skin off) tomatillos & jalapenos into the food processor.

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Cut the stemmed tops off the remaining, uncooked tomatillos.  Quarter them & put them in the food processor with all the remaining ingredients.  Pulse into a puree.Image

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Lower the oven temperature to 350.

Assemble your tortilla pizza with some whipped feta, a layer of cilantro pesto & the fresh tomatoes & mozzarella.  Bake on a cooking sheet for maybe ten minutes or until the cheese melts.  Check it while it cooks to be sure you do not burn it.

Top with a dollop of roasted tomatillo salsa & some chopped cilantro.  Mmmmmm!

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Road Kill Roasted Cauliflower & Hominy Tacos with Homemade Corn Tortillas & Spicy Peach, Pineapple & Mango Salsa

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

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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Roadkill?  Caught your attention, didn’t it?  Silly!  I don’t eat meat.  But I did buy some Dean Jacobs Road Kill Grill Rub because of the promise that it “Makes all critters taste great.”

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I bought it in Gilroy (the garlic capital of the world) for my boyfriend, Miles, who lives almost as exclusively on meat as zombies do on brains.  Whenever I think of zombies, and these days – what with their resurgent popularity – I think of them quite often – I think of my favorite zombie chant.  (I stole the image below from Google.)

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The monomaniacal nature of zombies can sometimes be quite endearing.

At any rate – I bought the Road Kill rub in Gilroy on a road trip that led to my vagina-centric post about Elsy’s Antojitos & my Shrimp & Cheesy Grits post which got into my pug, Memphis, and his tooth removal & the drunken, loopy slob he returned home as – still wobbly from getting put under.  Look how drunk he looks in the pose he struck!  🙂

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That was last September (when I bought the Road Kill Grill) & Miles has never used it so I decided to bust that shit out.  It has a very smokey salty flavor & it worked AWESOMELY for this dish but, if you cannot find it, any taco seasoning or other grill rub would likely work.  Even a homemade blend of spices would work – and you can Google a zillion options for that.

The recipe for the corn tortillas is HERE.

The recipe for the Spicy Peach & Pineapple & Mango Salsa is HERE.

You can use pre-made corn tortillas and any kind of salsa you like.  The real magic here is the roasted cauliflower & hominy filling.  I have been long obsessed with each of those ingredients & the threesome we had last night was – well – worth repeating.  Much like my Vegan Pozole, and any taco recipe, the toppings are up to you.  Here are a few ideas:

IDEAS for the toppings –

Grilled or fresh corn cut from the cob

Chopped tomatoes

Chopped cilantro

Sliced avocado

Sliced radishes

Lime wedges

Chopped cabbage (red or green)

Red onion – diced

Lettuce – chopped

Feta or Cotija (or other) cheese

Sour cream or yogurt or Mexican Crema

The only thing you need from me here is the recipe for the roasted cauliflower & hominy – so let’s get to it!  I found myself devouring it right off the roasting pan.  Try to use a high quality spice mix – and not something that has been in your pantry for 6 years & requires a fork to break it up.  OK?  I can’t take responsibility for your old, ashy spices!  🙂

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Roadkill Roasted Cauliflower & Hominy

1 head cauliflower – broken into the tiniest florets

2 cups hominy

3 tsp Road Kill Grill rub (or rub/spices of your choice)

olive oil

S&P

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DIRECTIONS

Heat your oven to 425.

Place your tiny cauliflower florets on a greased cooking sheet.  Drizzle with a little olive oil & toss TWO (reserving one) of the tsps of spice rub in.  I tossed this with my hands to get a good even mix.

Roast for 15 minutes.  In the meantime – toss the other tsp of spice with the hominy with a teensy bit of olive oil (not more than a teaspoon).

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When the cauliflower is done, add the hominy to the pan & roast all of it another 15 minutes.

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Take out of the oven.  Try not to just stand there & eat that shit.

Now – you simply have to assemble your tacos!

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Authentic Homemade Corn Tortillas

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

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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Ok – again – this is not really a recipe. It is inspiration for you to try something that you might not have ever even considered.  Corn tortillas!  I have posted spinach tortillas & kale tortillas in the past.  Those were both flour tortillas – and they have their place.  But I really love corn tortillas, too, and I love tacos – so – I thought I’d give it a go!

There is no real recipe.  You simply go buy some masa harina.  It is ground hominy – or a product of corn & lime.  It is ground very fine.  You then make the dough according to the measurements on the bag.  Mine suggested 2 cups flour to 1 1/3 cups water.  Period.  The dough comes together in a bowl instantly.  You are, I discovered, meant to let the dough rest for 30 minutes or more before working with it but I was impatient.

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I happen to have invested about $10 in a tortilla press.  Totally unnecessary!  Not because it isn’t easy to use – it is.  But – because just getting a glass pie dish out or the bottom of a large pan – anything with a large, flat surface that can be used to apply pressure will work.  The dough is very soft & flattens far more easily than a flour dough would.  It also tears for more easily – so do not beat yourself up if it takes a bit to get the hang of these.  Know that these tortillas have a softer, breadier texture than the more coarse & grainy store-bought ones.

Definitely put either wax or parchment paper on either side of your dough – or use plastic wrap.  Others SWEAR by cutting a ziplock freezer bag in two & using two sheets of that.  Apparently – it is the least sticky option.  If your dough is REALLY sticky – try adding more masa.

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So – basically – you make little balls somewhere between the size of a golf ball & a pool ball.  Press it flat in between two pieces of some sort of wrap.  Then, peel it off one side, flip the bare side onto your palm & carefully peel off the other side.  I tore a lot of them & just balled them up & pressed them again.Heat a dry pan to very high heat then reduce it just a bit so the pan doesn’t smoke.  Carefully flop the tortilla into the pan.  Do not try to flip it until it moves around on the pan when you push it.  If it sticks still – let it cook more.  Once it slips around easily – flip it.  This should take between 30-60 seconds.  Do the same on the other side.  Then store in a tortilla warmer or wrap them in a kitchen towel until you are ready to eat them up.

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Reheating?  From Epicurious:

There are several methods for reheating corn tortillas: dry heat (gas flame), moist heat (steamer and microwave) and oily heat (dry-frying).

Dry heat:
This method works only if your tortillas have been made that day. Heat the tortillas directly over the flame (or on a griddle or skillet), flipping them until toasty and pliable.

Moist heat of a steamer:
This is easier for larger quantities of corn tortillas, especially if you need to hold them hot for a little while. Pour 1/2 inch water into the bottom of the steamer, then line the steaming basket with a clean, heavy kitchen towel. Lay the tortillas in the basket in stacks of 12 (a small vegetable steamer will accommodate only one stack; a large Asian steamer will hold three or four stacks). Fold the edges of the towel over the tortillas to cover them, set the lid in place, bring the water to a boil and let boil only for 1 minute, then turn off the fire and let stand, covered, for 15 minutes. If you wish to keep the tortillas hot for up to an hour, slip the steamer into a low oven or reheat the water periodically.

Moist heat of a microwave:
This easy method works best with no more than a dozen tortillas. Drizzle a clean kitchen towel with 3 tablespoons water and wring the towel to even distribute the moisture. Use the towel to line a microwave-safe casserole dish (8 or 9 inches in diameter is best). Lay in a dozen tortillas, cover with the towel and the lid, then microwave at 50 percent power for 4 minutes. Let stand for 2 to 3 minutes. The tortillas will stay warm for 20 minutes.

Oily heat:
Though it’s not much a part of home cooking, street vendors of seared-meat tacos reheat fresh tortillas with the heat of a slightly oily griddle — they’re not so much frying the tortillas (which would mean completely submerging the tortillas in oil) as griddle-heating them with a tiny bit of oil.

When just-baked tortillas come off the griddle or when they’ve been reheated, they’re traditionally kept warm in a tightly woven basket (chiquihuite) lined with a cloth; some have lids, others don’t. In the Yucatan, they use hollowed-out gourds. And in modern households, they use Styrofoam containers — which are so efficient that they now come in many decorated styles. If you’re having a party, hold hot tortillas in an insulated chest (like an ice chest) lined with a towel.

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Breakfast Quesadilla with Hominy & Roasted Jalapenos on a Kale Tortilla

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

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

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This is less of a recipe & more just an idea.  You can make your breakfast quesadilla with anything you like inside.  This one was made using my freshly made kale tortillas.  I also roasted a few red & green jalapenos.  This is done on your stove top.  Char the outside of the jalapenos until they blacken.  You can do this directly on the burners or by broiling in the oven.  Once blackened, seal them in Tupperware or wrap them in foil for about 15 minutes.  This will sweat the skin off.  Then, under cool running water, roll the blackened skin away & squeeze off the tops & remove the seeds.  Then – chop the jalapenos finely.

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I also used hominy – the food I am currently having an overt affair with.  Shhh!  Don’t tell cauliflower about that!

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I used one egg, some egg whites, diced tomato, cilantro & grated cheddar cheese with the hominy & roasted jalapenos.  It was really delicious!  I whisked some cheese and S&P in the eggs & scrambled them.  Then I heated the tortilla in a dry pan over medium heat, layered the ingredients & folded the tortilla in half.  After a few minutes, I flipped it & once the cheese was melted, I friggin’ ate it!  🙂Image

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Spicy Chipotle Cream Pasta with English Peas & Tortilla Strips

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

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

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I have had a rough week.  Had to go to one of the most dreaded places on Earth.  Worse the the gynecologist.  Worse than the incredibly awful, boob-squishing mammographer’s office.   Almost as bad as the dentist’s office.  I had to go here:

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Time to renew my driver’s license.  Despite being freshly showered & having an appointment, the staff here treated me with suspicion & hostility & looked at me like I had a load in my pants.  They spat questions at me & demanded I stand squarely behind this counter or that, cover this eye or that while reading this string of letters or that.  It was like a fucking field sobriety test and every answer or action on my part seemed to beg imprisonment or the opening of some trap door through which I could be permanently disappeared.   I am not sure why the people at the DMV are such douche bags but I am sure that they are.  More mysterious to me is how they actually PULL OFF being so intimidating.  They have no Goddamn power.  They are not cops.  Why did I panic with every irritated question they asked & quiver under the scrutiny of their surly focus?   It’s ridiculous.  Anyway – I had to run nearly their full gauntlet:  the eye exam, the written test & get a new photo.  I managed to avoid the cavity search but I have no idea how.

From there, I had to go to that other glorious bastion of government animosity – the post office – where, again, I was treated like an illegal trying to hustle female minors over a border for enslavement in the sex trade.  All I wanted to do was mail a package to Canada with a tracking number & insurance.  It took FOUR different clerks & thirty minutes before they stopped shoving my package back at me, telling my request was impossible & screaming, “NEXT in line!” over my shoulder.

They said:

You cannot track international packages.  (You can)

You cannot insure documents. (You can if they are negatives.)

You cannot insure international packages.  (You can.)

You cannot use a Priority envelope.  (You can.)

You have the wrong customs form.  (I didn’t)

Speak to that manager out there on the floor. (Who stared back at me blankly and gave me a different form.)

This form is the wrong one.  (It was – but the manager had just given it to me.)

Stand aside & fill this one out.  NEXT person in line please!

Meanwhile, the 32 minutes I had on my meter outside ticked away as the meter maid sat in her car ten feet away.  Parked in the red.

There was more – but you get the picture.  In the end – they did everything I asked but it was like some Kafka-esque nightmare of willfully ignorant bureaucracy & I was seconds from screaming, “No wonder people want to kill you fucktards!”  But, I didn’t.  I just wanted to mail a fucking valuable item to Canada.  Is that the most exotic request the Wilcox post office (the largest one in Hollywood) had ever encountered?

Anyway – with that task completed & seriously disgruntled, I headed home & tried to think of something to cook that could be made without having to venture forth and deal with anyone else in the disservice industry.  I decided to make this dish & as I went to remove my first effort at baked tortilla strips (which I baked to blackness) – I burned my arm.

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I have a much grosser image of this sizable burn but this is a food porn blog & I don’t want to put anyone off their dinner.

Ok – despite the unfortunate burn – this is a really easy dish to put together.  You can use any basic pasta sauce – with or without cream.  I used a little 6 oz container of my homemade vodka sauce that I had in my freezer – so this is a recipe to feed two.  You could use a homemade or jarred vodka sauce or other pink sauce or even a marinara.  I used 4 chipotle peppers in adobo -and found that to be a tad ambitious on the spice side.  I think, in the future, I’ll cut that in half with a quantity of sauce as small as I worked with last night.  I added peas because I had them & they looked pretty.  I added the tortilla strips for the Hell of it.  Either of these two ingredients could easily be omitted with no great loss to the overall impact of the flavor of this dish.  Really – all this is is a sauce with some chopped chipotle pepper in it.  You can’t mess that up.  And it is really delicious!

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Spicy Chipotle Cream Pasta with English Peas & Tortilla Strips

INGREDIENTS

1/2 lb dry pasta

6 oz vodka sauce (or other pasta sauce)

2 chipotle peppers in adobo – chopped finely

1 tomato – diced

Parsley or cilantro – chopped for garnish

2 corn tortillas (optional)

1 cup peas (optional)

Pico de gallo – as garnish (optional)

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 400.

Slice the tortillas into 1/4 inch strips.  Spray with cooking oil & bake for 5 minutes or so – until crispy.  Remove from heat & set aside.

I used fresh peas so I wrapped them in a wet paper towel & zapped them in the microwave for a minute.  This isn’t necessary with frozen or canned peas.

Warm your sauce, add the chipotle & peas, stir & heat it all through.

Cook the pasta as per box instructions.

Drain.  Toss with sauce.  Top with tortilla strips, diced tomato & cilantro or parsley.

Voila!

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Shrimp & Tortilla Cheesy Lasagna in a Pink Sauce

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2012

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Once again – a make-shift invention born of the need to not waste ingredients I already had.  My recent homemade tortilla fixation nets me twelve tortillas at a time.  I eat two meals a day.  Even if I eat NOTHING but quesadillas (and that is what I have been doing – just ask my growing arse) – that is still 6 days of eating.  The tortillas have a three day shelf life – I am discovering.  So – out of desperation not to throw away more unused & stale tortillas – I came up with this guy.  I had everything in it already.  I used a frozen batch of my Roasted Tomato & Garlic Pasta Sauce which I recently tried on pizza & found it too acidic.  I had heavy cream left over from my Vegetable Pot Pie Cupcakes – and I plotted to curb the acid of the sauce with the smooth silkiness of the dairy.  I had a lot of grated cheese (a mix of cheddar & mostly mozzarella).  I also had frozen shrimp.  I know that cheese & seafood are an ill-suited pairing (some Italian restaurants even stating on their menus that they will not comply with any request to cheese up a seafood dish) – but these were some BS frozen shrimp in a two pound bag in danger of dying a second death due to advanced freezer burn so I decided to risk the arrival of the food police and blend them up in a recipe with a HEAVY dose of cheese.  My shrimp had tails – which I had to remove post-cooking.

I just took this thing out of the oven & tasted the slice you see in the photos.  HOLY CRAP!  This is one of the most delicious things I have ever made.  It was all I could do not to just inhale the whole piece – even though I had just eaten a quesadilla.  Outrageously delicious & undeniably, flat out out AWFUL for you!  SO much fatty cheese & cream & tortillas & yum!   I bet this would go over very big with kids or at football parties.

This is a very easy dish to prepare – especially if you use a jarred sauce (but try not to!  Try this easy 5 minute arrabiata sauce – if you possibly can) & pre-made tortillas.  You could cut the heavy cream entirely, too, to lessen the devastation to your waistline.  Maybe use cooked chicken or cooked sausage rather than shrimp?  But whatever way you make it – you gotta try it!  Trust me!

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Shrimp & Tortilla Cheesy Lasagna in a Pink Sauce

INGREDIENTS

5 flour tortillas

3 TBS butter

30 shrimp or about 1 lb – peeled & cleaned

1 tsp crushed red pepper (optional)

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground pepper

6 cloves of garlic – chopped coarsely

2 cups tomato sauce

1 cup heavy cream (optional)

2 cups (or to taste) grated cheese (mozzarella or a mozzarella blend)

fresh parsley – chopped

Pico de Gallo – as garnish

DIRECTIONS

Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.

Melt the butter in a frying pan & cook the shrimp with the garlic (I left mine whole – but you can use chopped garlic), salt, pepper & crushed red pepper (if using).  When they are pink – remove from heat.  Err on the side of under-cooking because they will cook more in the oven.

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Blend the two cups of tomato sauce with the heavy cream (if you are using it).

Grease (with olive oil, butter or cooking spray) a deep pie dish.  Put a tortilla on the bottom.  Layer with 1/4 of the shrimp, 1/5 the sauce, 1/5 the cheese & some parsley. Add another tortilla, press it down & continue in the same manner until the last tortilla which you only top with sauce & cheese.

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Bake at 350 for 20-30 minutes or until the cheese begins to brown.  Remove from the oven & let rest a good ten minutes before cutting into it.

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Make a promise to yourself not to step on the scale for a few days – and serve this baby hot with more chopped parsley & pico de gallo (if using).

Enjoy!

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FOLLOW UP!!!!  This tastes great at room temperature, too!  And here is how it looks sliced up – cold out of the fridge:

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Chipotle Sweet Potato & Caramelized Onion Quesadilla with Goat Cheese on Homemade Flour Tortillas

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2012


Well – now that I know how easy it is to make homemade tortillas – I’ve kinda gotten lazy & have been living on an all-quesadilla-all-the-time diet.  Once you invest in the 5 lb bag of cheese from Smart & Final and the 10 lb bag of flour – all you really need is a bunch of creative details, other ingredients – most of which can be overlapped from one quesadilla adventure to the next.

I will post two more random choices from my quesadilla marathon: a sweet potato & onion one & a simple mozzarella & green chile version.  They are both delicious!  The sweet potato one is stuffed pretty thick & is rather substantial.  Here is the sweet potato one but made with spinach tortillas (which were beginning to stale & get too crumbly):

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FLOUR TORTILLAS

INGREDIENTS

3 cups flour

2 tsp baking powder

1-2 tsp salt

5 TBS olive oil

1 – 1 1/2 cups water

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DIRECTIONS

In your food processor, pulse the flour, baking powder & salt until blended.  Add the olive oil & pulse until it is incorporated.  Add water in a slow stream & pulse until it is completely incorporated and the dough has formed a tacky ball & is traveling around the bowl.  You might not need all the water – you might need a bit extra.  If it is too sticky – just add a bit more flour & pulse it around.

Put the dough on a lightly floured surface & roll it around to eliminate any tackiness that remains.  Dived the dough into four balls & then divide each of those four balls into three more balls.  Each ball should be about the size of a golf ball.  Let the dough rest 10 minutes or so.

Roll out each ball as flat & thin as you can – or until they are about 8 inches across.  Heat a large skillet over medium high heat.  Do not use any oil or cooking spray.   Leave the pan dry.  Cook each tortilla on each side about 20 seconds or until brown spots begin to appear.  Over cooking will make them crispy so err on the side of under-cooking.

Store under a clean kitchen towel as you cook all 12 tortillas.

Wrap the ones you do not use in a zip-lock bag or tightly in plastic wrap & store on your counter for up as long as they last (3 days or so) before getting stale.

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Chipotle Sweet Potato & Caramelized Onion Quesadilla with Goat Cheese on Homemade Flour Tortillas

INGREDIENTS

1 baked sweet potato (pierced with a fork & baked for 45 min at 400 degrees)

2 TBS Adobo sauce from a can of chipotle peppers (or to taste)

1 inch cube of goat cheese (or to taste)

1 small onion – sliced thick & sauted on olive oil til soft & browning

Grated cheese (cheddar, jack, pepper jack or mozzarella – or a blend)

sliced fresh jalapeno (optional)

1 small can green chiles (optional)

Fresh cilantro

Tortillas

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DIRECTIONS

Mash the baked sweet potato into a creamy texture.  Add adobo sauce to taste.

Saute your onions til they begin to caramelize.  Remove from heat.

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Heat a tortilla in a dry pan over med-high heat.  Layer with sweet potato, goat cheese, grated cheese, sauted onions and jalapeno and/or green chiles (if using) – and maybe some chopped cilantro.  Fold over & place a soup pot or other heavy, heat tolerant item on top your quesadilla.  OR – you can just top the flat tortilla with a second tortilla & continue.  After a minute or so, flip it, put the pan on top of it & cook until your cheese is sufficiently melty.

Cut into slices.  Sprinkle with fresh cilantro.  Serve!

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And just because I have the photos – here is a lighter, easier one.

Cheese Quesadilla with Green Chiles & Cilantro

INGREDIENTS

Tortillas

Cheese

Green Chiles

Cilantro

DIRECTIONS

I think pictures get it all across:

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Serve with pico de gallo!  YUM!

Spinach Pesto Quesadilla with Homemade Spinach Tortillas

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2012

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Hey!  Have you heard?  I wrote a really funny & dirty novel!  www.BathingBook.com.   Check out the reviews on Amazon!  Why not buy a copy?

vromans front vromans back

I posted a Margarita Pizza Quesadilla recipe with the spinach tortillas earlier this week HERE.  I am posting the tortilla recipe again here but without the photographs.  These tortillas can be made without spinach simply by leaving the spinach out and using 3/4 cup to just over a cup of water.  DELICIOUS!  And easy.  I really recommend trying them.

Anyway – not sure if it is the holidays or the Connecticut tragedy or both plus more – but I really need comfort food these days.  And I haven’t got the energy to get elaborate with the meal.  These quesadillas are a super-fast & easy & yummy & how can you go wrong with melted cheese?

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Spinach Tortillas

INGREDIENTS

2 cups fresh spinach

3 cups flour

2 tsp baking powder

1-2 tsp salt

5 TBS olive oil

Water

DIRECTIONS

Steam the spinach in a pan in about a cup of water.  Once wilted, scoop it out with a slotted spoon & cool in in cold water.  RESERVE the hot spinach water.  Squeeze all the water out of the spinach, put the dry ball into a measuring cup & then add the hot spinach water until you have 1 1/2 cups with the ball of spinach in there. (ignore my photo showing 1 cup.  I did end up using 1.5 cups.  If there isn’t enough spinach water – just add more tap water.  Set aside.

In your food processor, pulse the flour, baking powder & salt until blended.  Add the olive oil & pulse until it is incorporated.  Add the spinach & pulse it in & then add the spinach water in a slow stream & pulse until it is completely incorporated and the dough has formed a tacky ball & is traveling around the bowl.  You might not need all the water – you might need a bit extra.  If it is too sticky – just add a bit more flour & pulse it around.

Put the dough on a lightly floured surface & roll it around to eliminate any tackiness that remains.  Dived the dough into four balls & then divide each of those four balls into three more balls.  Each ball should be about the size of a golf ball.  Let the dough rest 10 minutes or so.

Roll out each ball as flat & thin as you can – or until they are about 8 inches across.  Heat a large skillet over medium high heat.  Do not use any oil or cooking spray.   Leave the pan dry.  Cook each tortilla on each side about 20 seconds or until brown spots begin to appear.  Over cooking will make them crispy so err on the side of under-cooking.

Store under a clean kitchen towel as you cook all 12 tortillas.

These can be stored at room temperature in a zip-lock bag on your counter for several days.  Rewarm in the oven wrapped in foil or between damp paper towels in the microwave.

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SPINACH PESTO

INGREDIENTS

2 packed cups fresh spinach

40 almonds, crushed & toasted for 5 minutes or so

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

3 cloves garlic

1/2 cup grated Parmesan

1/2 cup olive oil

water for added smoothness

DIRECTIONS

Blend all in a food processor.

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SPINACH PESTO QUESADILLAS

Ingredients

Tortillas

Cheese

Spinach pesto

diced jalapeno (optional)

DIRECTIONS

Heat a dry pan.  Place a tortilla in the pan, spread pesto & sprinkle cheese.  I added diced jalapenos.  Fold & heat until cheese melts.  Devour.  ‘Nuff said.

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Margarita Pizza Quesadilla on Homemade Spinach Tortillas (Vegan)

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2012

 

LARGE BathingandthesinglegirlOrangeV52

 

My debut novel is out!  Check it out!  I think it is HILARIOUS!  I hope you will, too!

www.BathingBook.com

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Yes – yes, I bought the 3 pound bag of spinach at Costco & now I am making a conspicuous number of things using spinach.  At least spinach is good for you.  Not so much the 5 pound bag of grated pizza cheese I bought at Smart & Final but this recipe puts both items to use so it works for me.

These tortillas are EASY to make – if you own a food processor.  I really suggest you try them at least once – because I think you will have the same sense of pride & achievement I did – making such a simple & basic item but so clean & fresh – it makes a huge difference.

Lots of tortilla recipes I looked at used lard or vegetable shortening.  Not only does that sound gross, I don’t have Crisco in my house which would have meant adding more expense to my already bloated grocery tab – so I substituted olive oil.  It worked out just fine!

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 Spinach Tortillas

INGREDIENTS

2 cups fresh spinach

3 cups flour

2 tsp baking powder

1-2 tsp salt

5 TBS olive oil

Water

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DIRECTIONS

Steam the spinach in a pan in about a cup of water.  Once wilted, scoop it out with a slotted spoon & cool in in cold water.  RESERVE the hot spinach water.  Squeeze all the water out of the spinach, put the dry ball into a measuring cup & then add the hot spinach water until you have 1 1/2 cups with the ball of spinach in there. (ignore my photo showing 1 cup.  I did end up using 1.5 cups.  If there isn’t enough spinach water – just add more tap water.  Set aside.

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In your food processor, pulse the flour, baking powder & salt until blended.  Add the olive oil & pulse until it is incorporated.  Add the spinach & pulse it in & then add the spinach water in a slow stream & pulse until it is completely incorporated and the dough has formed a tacky ball & is traveling around the bowl.  You might not need all the water – you might need a bit extra.  If it is too sticky – just add a bit more flour & pulse it around.

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Put the dough on a lightly floured surface & roll it around to eliminate any tackiness that remains.  Dived the dough into four balls & then divide each of those four balls into three more balls.  Each ball should be about the size of a golf ball.  Let the dough rest 10 minutes or so.

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Roll out each ball as flat & thin as you can – or until they are about 8 inches across.  Heat a large skillet over medium high heat.  Do not use any oil or cooking spray.   Leave the pan dry.  Cook each tortilla on each side about 20 seconds or until brown spots begin to appear.  Over cooking will make them crispy so err on the side of under-cooking.

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Store under a clean kitchen towel as you cook all 12 tortillas.

These can be stored at room temperature in a zip-lock bag on your counter for several days.  Rewarm in the oven wrapped in foil or between damp paper towels in the microwave.

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Margarita Pizza Quesadillas

INGREDIENTS

Tortillas

tomato

grated mozzarella (or fresh buffalo mozzarella) – or vegan alternative

chopped basil

S&P

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DIRECTIONS

Heat a dry skillet.  Put a tortilla in there & let it warm with the pan.  Add cheese, THINLY sliced tomatoes, chopped basil & heat until cheese begins to melt.  Fold the tortilla over & press.  I put a smaller pan on top to increase the heat & to compress the quesadilla – but this is not necessary.  Once your cheese is good & melted – remove the quesadilla from the pan, slice it up & serve!

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Very Spicy Vegetarian Tortilla Soup with Homemade Vegetable Stock

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2012

My boyfriend doesn’t like to eat very much and I mean that both ways.  I mean – eating is something he seems to do only because he must and – when he must – there are only a few things that strike his fancy.  Among them are pizza (thank God), my pasta with clams, grilled cheese sandwiches, meat of all kinds (it seems) and a host of soups.  Tortilla soup is one of his favorites.  I decided I needed to make him some the other day.  I’d never made it before & I wanted to be able to try it – so I made a vegetarian version.  The other challenge I faced was that I had to make it from ingredients I already had in the house.  It was incredibly hot out & I was too lazy to make a market run.  “Why make a spicy soup on a hot day?” you might ask.  I might respond by saying, “That’s nothing.  I made three shepherd’s pies, a carrot cake & corn chowder this week on a 95 degree day.”  I don’t know that that would answer the question you were really asking – but that’s all I got for ya.

I didn’t have any vegetarian stock or bouillon cubes – so I had to make the stock from scratch, too.   A recipe will follow – but you can do this a zillion ways.  I chose to use what I did because I HAD it.  You might not have all these things or you might choose to use others that you think sound good.  This made a lot of stock – maybe ten cups.  I froze all that I didn’t use in one pint containers that I recycled from past sour cream, mozzarella or cottage cheese etc purchases.  These also make great to-go containers for you to send guests away with leftovers in (pardon that grammar).

This soup really is the result of some creative combining and I think it came out pretty good.  Still – in an ideal world – I would have used fewer canned items in it & gone with fresher options – especially with the cheese.  But the fact that it came out so well – means that you can probably substitute like crazy & still come up with a pretty decent tortilla soup – so do not feel you need to follow this one – either the ingredients or the quantities of each ingredient – with anything resembling loyalty.  I didn’t have any avocado – so mine here isn’t adorned with any – but I recommend you use some.

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Vegetable Stock

INGREDIENTS

Water

a few carrots – chopped into big chunks

a few stalks of celery – chopped into big chunks

1/2 large russet potato – chopped into big chunks

1/2 small head cabbage – chopped into big chunks

1 large shallot – chopped into big chunks

2 jalapenos – chopped into big chunks

several sprigs of fresh Thyme

a handful of fresh cilantro

a handful of fresh sage

a handful of fresh oregano

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

Salt & pepper

DIRECTIONS

Fill a large stock pot with water.  Add all the other ingredients & bring to a boil.  Reduced heat & simmer for 45-60 minutes.  Strain (through cheesecloth if you have it – but this isn’t necessary) into another pan & toss all the ingredients away.  Voila!  You will likely use 4-6 cups or more in this.  Freeze the rest in smaller containers for future use.

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Very Spicy Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

INGREDIENTS

4-5 corn tortillas – cut into thin strips

4-5 corn tortillas – chopped

3 TBS olive oil

1 large onion – diced

2 tomatoes – diced

8 garlic cloves – minced

1/2 russet potato – diced

6 chipotle peppers & their adobo sauce – diced (less if spicy bothers you)

1 15oz can diced tomatoes – fire roasted if you have them (I didn’t – so I used regular)

1 15 oz can of vegetarian refried beans (or you can use garbanzos or other canned white bean)

1 10 3/4oz can Campbell’s Cheddar Cheese Soup (REAL fresh grated cheese – a cup of it – would be MUCH better)

handful of chopped fresh cilantro

1 tsp paprika (smoked if you have it – though mine was not)

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp turmeric

Salt & Pepper (1 tsp each – or to taste)

1 cup corn (fresh of the cob is best – but canned or frozen are fine)

1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

6 cups vegetable broth

1/2 avocado – sliced or diced (for garnish)

1 tomato – finely diced (for garnish)

chopped cilantro (for garnish)

grated cheese (for garnish)

lime wedges (for garnish)

DIRECTIONS

Heat your oven to 350.  Spread the thinly sliced corn tortilla strips in a single layer on a cookie sheet sprayed with cooking oil.  Bake the strips 10-15 minutes until they are crispy.  Try not to overcook them (they should not be browned).  Remove from oven & set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large soup stock pot.  Saute the onion & potato over medium heat for about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic for a minute & then add the chopped tortillas and the dried spices (turmeric, thyme, paprika, S&P) and the chopped cilantro.  Stir them in & then add the canned tomatoes, diced tomatoes, beans, corn, chipotle peppers and the vegetable stock (use at least 5 cups – more if you like a thin soup).  Bring to a boil & then add the canned cheese soup.  If using real cheese – add it AFTER the soup has been pureed.

Remove the soup from the heat & allow it to cool enough that it is safe to begin blending it all up.  In smallish batches – blend the soup into a puree.  Never get lazy & try to over-fill the blender – as you are sure to pop the top off & scald yourself.  I go with 1/2 to 2/3 full & put a thick kitchen towel over the top of the blender to assure the top doesn’t fly off & create a hurricane of whipping, boiling soup in my kitchen – and in my face.

Once the soup is all pureed, add the real cheese (if you are using) and the heavy cream.  Simmer this on a medium-low flame – stirring frequently –  until the cheese & cream or fully incorporated.  If the soup is too thick – add more vegetable stock.  If it is too thin – allow it to cook down a bit.  Taste & add S&P – if you desire.

Serve in bowls & garnish with tomato, grated cheese, cilantro, avocado & a few baked corn tortilla strips.  Serve each bowl with a lime wedge to squeeze into the soup – if you desire.

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