Vegetarian Fajita Tacos

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These are using my Whole Wheat Protein Tortillas I posted earlier.  I was originally not going to post this because I felt like it was just vegetables in a tortilla, but Justin said people like recipes.  I guess I trust him.  We’ve been together for a while now, I think I owe him that.

Recipe:

2 white onions (sliced, caramelized) 
1 red pepper (sliced, roasted)
1 green pepper (sliced, roasted) 
3 jalapeno or serrano peppers (diced, roasted) 
1/2 cup corn
1 15 oz can black beans (or 1.5 cups cooked beans)
1-2 tsp oil
salt

Toppings:

Greek yogurt
salsa
avocado
lettuce

First we’re going to slice our onions.  People get all weird about onions.

They’re like, “No, I’m going to cry.”

And, “Oh my god, my breath.”

I read all sorts of forums about people complaining about onions and crying all that stuff.  People come up with the silliest solutions to avoid this problem — goggles, freezing the onion, soaking the onion in water, cut near a flame.

Silly business.

When you cut into an onion you’re breaking cell walls, inside those cell walls is a chemical compound called sulfoxide which is basically sulfur and oxygen bonded together with other compounds.  When we cut into an onion we release this and it turns into sulfuric acid, which then stimulates the tears in our eyes.  Mind you this is a bastardly simplified version, but enough for these purposes.  Anyway, the majority of the sulfoxides are contained near the root of the onion.  So if you leave the last 1/2 inch of the onion alone and cut with a sharp knife (which disrupts less walls) 9 times out of 10 you won’t have tears and chances are your breath won’t smell.

So quit your bitching and cut your onion.

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Leaving the root on, cut the very top of your onion of after you’ve halved it.  Make slices through your onion, making sure not to disrupt that last 1/2 inch.

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hyperink.com

Here’s a diagram.

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Then slice the root off.

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No tears!

And no freezing, flames, or goggles.

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Now we’re going to caramelize our onions.  This is a process.  Any person writing a recipe that tells you you can caramelize an onion in 5 or 10 minutes is a damn dirty liar and is never to be trusted again.  It takes minimum 30 minutes, but longer is always better.

Add 1-2 tsp oil to a pan and heat over medium heat.

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Add your onions and salt.  Cook over medium-medium high heat.  Don’t stir too often or you’ll prevent caramelizing.

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Every 10 minutes I deglaze the pan.  It’s up to you what you want to use–oil, vinegar, wine, water.  I just used water.

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While your onions are doing their thing get everything else ready.

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Roast your peppers, you can do it on the stove or in the oven.  On the stove or under the broiler is the fastest.

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Just make sure your skins are most, if not all the way black.

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20 minutes in, deglaze your pan if needed.

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Wipe or rinse of your skins.

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And slice.  Dice your serrano or jalapeno peppers if you’re using them.  Or you’ll pay for it.

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30 minutes in.  This is the bare minimum for caramelizing onions.  You could go all day with these beauties and they will only get more delicious.  But you do have to eat eventually, and I can only plan for a meal an hour or so in advance.

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Add your peppers, beans, and corn to your onions and toss around to warm everything.

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Get your toppings ready.

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And your tortillas.

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I love Greek yogurt and find it’s one of those things that is well worth the extra cost.

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Fixins.

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I decided to be cheap and buy iceberg lettuce.  Never again, once you grow accustomed to eating dark leafy greens you’ll wonder why the fuck this stuff even exists.

I’m sorry iceberg but it’s true, you’re a superfluous vegetable.

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The End.

Roasted Tomatillo Pepper Salsa

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Justin likes to call posts like this my “Night Time Cooking Series.”  AKA my “Shit Light Set Up Series.”  I usually get the desire to bake or cook at about 10 or 11 at night.  That’s usually when the sun has long stopped being out and I’m too lazy to get out my umbrella light.  But not too lazy to make a batch of granola, banana bread, and salsa.  I know, I’m weird.

Anyway, tomatillos are in abundance at the farmer’s market so Justin has been bringing them home every weekend.  I had never made tomatillo salsa before this summer and now I love the stuff.  I put peppers in it because I have a hard time not putting peppers in things.

I like to keep this salsa really simple because the tomatillo has such a unique and complex flavor that you don’t want to mask.  At least I don’t.  There are other recipes that put coriander and cumin and green onion and chili peppers and oregano and other such nonsense in their salsas.  This salsa is about honoring the flavor of the tomatillo.

Recipe:

5 Tomatillos (broiled)
2 medium peppers (broiled, I’m using 3 small)
1/2 lime (juice)
1/2 red onion (broiled)
1 garlic clove (broiled)
1 tbsp cilantro (dried)
salt to taste

Optional:

1 Jalapeno or 1 serrano (broiled)

Turn on your broiler.  You can either broil these, roast them in the oven, or roast them on the stove top.  Some recipes tell you to boil the tomatillo, I wouldn’t do this.  You’re going to lose a lot of your flavor in the water that way and it mellows the flavor of the tomatillo.

Why would you do that?

You can also do everything raw, but roasting unlocks a depth of flavor that you wouldn’t experience otherwise.  Up to you.  Sometimes I have my red salsas raw, but a tomatillo is special, you should treat it as such.  If you do decide to have it raw, the salsa will be a lot more citrusy and you may want to forego the lime juice.

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Remove the husk from your tomatillos and wash.  Cut them in half along with your peppers.  Leave your garlic clove intact.

The purple peppers you see in the background, while they look fancy are nothing that special.  Their taste is similar to that of a green pepper and when they cook they turn an off white color.  Still, they’re pretty and fun to use from time to time.  If you get one that’s a merlot color then that will taste more like a red pepper.

While you may be tempted to be fancy and get a red or yellow pepper think about it before you do.  Tomatillos are sweet on their own and a red pepper is sweet.  If you want a very sweet salsa then this may be a good choice for you.  But the slight bitterness of an unripe pepper (read green or light purple in this case) helps to balance out that sweetness.

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Put everything cut side down on a baking sheet cut side down.  No need to oil.  You can lightly salt here.

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Broil for 5-8 minutes, I think I was 7 minutes here.  If you have a lot of numminess stuck on the bottom of your pan you can add your lime juice here to help remove it.  Salting before you broil will help avoid that though because the peppers and tomatillo will release a little bit more water.  Make sure you add this water loss into your blender later.

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Place in a bowl and cover for a couple minutes to let the steam work it’s magic and loosen the skin a bit.

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Add the juice of 1/2 a lime to your blender or processor along with your cilantro.

If you don’t like the taste of cilantro consider trying dried cilantro.  I find fresh cilantro a little over powering in most dishes but I don’t feel that way with dried.  So maybe it’s something you would like if you find yourself hating things with cilantro.

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Peel your garlic.  Add everything to your blender or food processor and blend.  Don’t worry about removing all the charred parts.  They give the salsa a subtle smokey flavor that balances out the acidic nature of the tomatillo.  If you’re worried about cancer then I guess remove the charred parts, but guess what, reading this post is giving you cancer, breathing gives you cancer.  Wake up and live your life and eat the damn charred parts of your tomatillos.  Even if they kill you’ll have died of something else long before…

Decide how smooth or chunky you want it to be.

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Salt to taste and enjoy.  If you want it with some spice add a jalapeno or serrano pepper in with your broiling.  While I love spicy salsas I feel the sweet, sour flavor of the tomatillo lends itself better to a non spicy salsa.

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Vegetable Quinoa Burritos

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This is not your typical burrito, but it’s delicious, so read on.

This dish is one of my favorite things that I make.  I started making it a little over a month ago and Justin and I have been eating it for dinner ever since.  We just haven’t gotten sick of it yet.  It is probably the perfect balance of cost effectiveness, nutrient richness, and tastiness that I’ve managed to make so we’re sticking with it for the time being.  Even though it contains more expensive ingredients like avocado, mango, and the nicer lettuce our grocery bill has dropped noticeably because the bulk of the dish lasts so long .  One batch of this lasts Justin and I about 5 days with both of us eating about 2-3 a day.

It’s also open to customization  which is always important in recipes for me.  But I haven’t found the need to do much of that yet.  I guess we really love burritos.

Recipe

1 cup quinoa
1 onion (diced)
4 ounces mushrooms (chopped fine)
3-5 cloves garlic (chopped)
2 carrots (diced or grated)
2 small peppers or 1 large (diced)
1 cup corn
1 28 ounce can whole tomatoes
1 cup dried kidney beans
1 cup dried garbanzo beans
1 tbsp epazote (optional)
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
salt to taste
2 tsp cilantro (dried)

Toppings

medium size burrito shells
spring mix lettuce
0% greek yogurt
flax seed
mango slices
avocado slices

Prepare all your vegetables.  How large you cut everything is dependent on your preference but I would dice the mushrooms very fine because their purpose is to mimic the texture of ground meat.  Obviously it doesn’t come close, but you get the idea.  I’ve used as much as a whole 8 oz package of mushrooms and the dish still works out wonderfully.

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Soften your onion and carrot in your cooking vessel.  Vessel should be large enough to hold all of your ingredients at the end.  How much or little oil you use is up to you, I use probably 1/2 tsp.

Sometimes I grate my carrots instead of dicing them.  If you grate them you can add them later with your mushrooms.

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Add your peppers and soften slightly.  Don’t forget to lightly salt in between each addition.  Emphasis on “lightly.”

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Add your mushrooms and cook down.

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Add your corn.

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Add your tomatoes.  I like to use whole tomatoes in anything that requires tomatoes because I think the flavor is better and I find them easier to deal with.  I just pull them out of the can, split them open and rinse them under the sink to remove some of the seeds, and rip them into my pot.  You can cut them on a cutting board but all the juice gets everywhere and I can’t be bothered to clean that up.  Reserve your liquid.

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Now add your beans.  I use 1 cup of kidney beans and 1 cup garbanzo beans but have used black beans, pinto beans, white beans, and pink beans in the past.  It’s really hard to go wrong.  Just find out what combination you prefer.  I use dried beans because it makes the dish cheaper overall and it tastes better but you can use canned if you haven’t joined the dry side.  The conversion is:

2 cup dried beans (this recipe) = 6 cups cooked beans = 4, 15 oz cans beans

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Add any spices you’d like.  I’m adding epazote and cilantro.  What is epazote?  Epazote is an herb with a pungent flavor compared to that of anise, fennel, or tarragon and is traditionally used in Mexican dishes for flavor and its carminative properties (ability to prevent the formation of gas in the GI tract, meaning you don’t toot as much-bonus!).

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Add your quinoa.  If your mixture looks a little dry add some of your liquid from your tomatoes.  Add as much as you need.  I usually wind up adding the whole can.  Cook everything for a few minutes on low to let the flavors meld.

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Warm your shells in the microwave or on the stove.  Justin and I eat 1-2 each depending on how hungry we are.

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Set up your goodies.  We serve it with Greek yogurt, flax seed, mango, avocado, and mixed green lettuce.

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Now I’m going to teach you how to make a burrito, because you always cater to your stupidest reader.  No, I just felt like taking more pictures.

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You can skip on the mango or avocado but I think they really do add something to the dish that would be lacking otherwise.  And if you don’t like mango try it in this dish, for whatever reason Justin hates mangoes but loves them in this.  Doesn’t make sense to me but, whatever.

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We started using 0% Greek yogurt instead of sour cream a while back and found we actually prefer it, plus you get more protein and less calories with the Greek yogurt.

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You can grind your flax seed if you want to make them easier to digest but we’re mostly adding them because we like the crunch.

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I usually add 3x this much lettuce but that didn’t make for a very pretty picture.

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Enjoy!

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Roasted Veggie Hummus

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Yay!  Another hummus recipe.  I’ve made some others, you can check them out if you feel like it.

Roasted Red Pepper and Spinach Hummus
Spicy Spinach Artichoke Hummus

Kalamata Olive and Sun Dried Tomato Hummus

Hummus is a wonderful snack, but I find the ones you buy at the store contain way too much oil.  In fact I don’t put any oil in my hummus.  I just never seem to need it.  I’m sure if I made plain hummus I would feel the need but I wind up putting so many additions to get some extra nutrients that it never seems to be an issue.

Alright, time for “Roasted Veggie Hummus” or “Things that are about to go bad in my fridge Hummus.”  Whichever seems more appealing to you, but the latter is a common theme with my recipes so if you like this blog you better get used it.

Fancy eating today!

Recipe:

1 carrot
1/2 pepper (whatever color your have)
1/2 broccoli crown
2 garlic cloves
3 cups chick peas (2 cans drained or 1/2 lb dry)
1/2 cup water + 1/4 (if needed)
2-3 tbsp tahini
2 tbsp lemon juice
salt, pepper to taste
ground cumin garnish

For those of you crazy with your measurements all of my veggies came in between 2.5-3.0 ounces.

Cut up your veggies and roast them.  I roasted mine in the oven with no oil for about 30 min at 375°.  It’s not absolutely necessary you roast your vegetables but it will taste completely different.  It will still be a good dish, but you’re lazy or you’re one of those people who doesn’t cook food higher than the temperature of the sun on the earth…which, different strokes I guess.

Ignore that rogue onion in there, he had different plans.

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While your veggies are roasting you can prepare your chick peas.  I like to use canned because it makes the hummus cheaper that way but more time consuming…but tastier.  So you decide what you feel like doing.  If you use dried you’ll probably need more water and salt if you didn’t salt your beans when you made them.

Add your beans, water, lemon juice, and tahini to your blender or food processor.

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Blend until smooth.

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Now your veggies should be done.

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Add your veggies and blend until there are no more chunks.  Add that extra 1/4 cup water if need be.  Taste and add your necessary amount of salt.

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I topped it with some ground cumin, enjoy!

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Tomato Cabbage Lentil Soup

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I can’t get over how convenient lentils are.  I only recently discovered them, but I have not made a bad dish with them yet.  They taste great with a wide variety of ingredients and cook easily so it really is hard to truly ruin a lentil dish.  That being said, I’m sure Justin could find a way.  Just kidding.

No I’m not.

This is Tomato Cabbage Lentil Soup, so those are your three main ingredients.  I swear to you it doesn’t matter how much you put in of each it will still taste good.  Only have a 1/4 head of cabbage?  Awesome, put that in.  Oh, you have a whole head and want to use it all?  Still awesome.  What, you don’t have cabbage?  Well now it’s not going to be Tomato Cabbage Lentil Soup, it’s going to be Tomato Lentil Soup.  But it’s okay, that’s still a thing and it’s delicious.  After that throw in whatever you think sounds good, it probably won’t suck.

Recipe:

1 onion (small-medium size)
1 carrot
1 celery stalk
28 ounce can whole tomatoes (you can use diced, I just prefer whole)
8 cups liquid (tomato liquid + water or broth)
1/2 small head green cabbage (shredded, 2-3 cups)
1/2 tsp cumin (ground)
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp basil (dried)
1/2 tsp paprika
3-4 cloves garlic (chopped)
3 tbsp tomato paste
1 cup brown lentils
1 tsp oil

Prepare you garlic, onion, cabbage, celery, carrot, and tomatoes.  Reserve your tomato liquid (tomato chunks can be as large or small as you want).

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Heat oil in your soup pot and add you garlic/onions.  Heat over medium/medium low heat until onion starts to become translucent.

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Add your carrot/celery.  Cook for a couple minutes, just to get them started.

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Add your cabbage and lightly salt.  Cook until it starts to reduce in size.

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Add your tomatoes.

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Immediately followed by your liquid.  Add water to your reserved tomato liquid to equal 8 cups.  You can use vegetable broth if you want.  I hate buying broth and I never have extra vegetables lying around that I’m willing to use for a broth–so I use water.

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Heat until a simmer and add your paste and spices.  I add half of my basil now and half of it at the end because apparently cooking herbs for too long kills their flavor, so you’re supposed to add them near the end of your cooking.  Personally, from experience, I’m inclined to think not but experts say so.  So whatever, I just split the difference.  One day I’ll make an actual decision.

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Heat until a boil and add your lentils.  Then reduce heat and cover.  Cook for 20-30 minutes or until cabbage and lentils are done.

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Salt and pepper to taste.  I think I added 3/4 tsp salt total and I forgot to add pepper.  I love this soup because it’s awesome how much soup you can get from so little ingredients.  Plus it’s stupid easy.

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