Friday, June 12, 2009

Chili Rellanos With a Twist

One of my all time favorite dishes is Chili Rellanos. This is a twist on the traditional Chili Rellanos using polenta and some vegan cheese to stuff the peppers. The first time I made this dish, my husband said it was the best meal I had ever made! For this dish I usually have things going in more than one pan to get things prepped a bit faster.

Prep Time 1 Hour/ Cook Time 45 Minutes

6-8 Fresh Poblano Peppers, washed

1 Cup polenta

½ of a Large Onion
2 tsp Garlic Powder
1 tsp chili powder (or chili powder to taste-mine is super spicy & only takes a dash)
Vegan Cow Nacho Cheese
Vegan Cow Swizz or Brie 2-3 Cups of Enchilada Sauce

Step 1
Turn your oven onto 475 Wash poblano peppers and place on a baking sheet Place in oven for about 10 minutes. The peppers will begin to brown and the skin will start to puff up a bit Turn peppers over and cook another 10 minutes. The outer skin should be pulling away from the peppers, and peppers will begin to brown Remove peppers from oven and allow to cool slightly While still warm peel away the outer skin (the stuff puffed up on the outside) from all of the peppers. Cut off the ends of the peppers and remove the seeds, carefully so as not to tear the peppers

Step 2
While the peppers are cooking make your polenta It takes about 20 minutes, patience, and attention to make polenta Heat 4 cups of water to boiling Add 1 cup of polenta corn meal (the think grainy looking corn meal) Reduce heat to a medium low. Once the polenta begins to thicken add the onion, garlic and chili powder If you don’t keep stirring bubbles will form and pop in your face, so STIR AWAY! Continue stirring…Greg gets really impatient with this and begins to eat it after about 15 minutes…But if you are patient the polenta will thicken even more and begin to pull away from the sides and forms a mound in your pot. You will want to use the polenta while it is still hot because it will begin to firm up as it cools.

Step 3
Add 1-2 cups of Vegan Cow Nacho Cheese (or vegan cheese of your choice.) Stir in the cheese so it is mixed in well. If you do not have vegan cheese, never fear, this recipe is delicious regardless. Using a small scoop, (I use a small melon ball scoop) fill each poblano pepper. I also add some creamy Vegan Cow Brie or Swizz cheese to make the inside of the peppers creamier. Cover all of the stuffed peppers with enchilada sauce. At this point if you have a mexi- topping you like, or want to add more vegan cheese of choice, it is an option that makes it look pretty when coming out of the oven when guests are over.

Step 4
Cover glass baking dish with aluminum foil Bake at 400-425 (depending on your oven) for 40-45 Minutes Remove from oven and let cool for 15 minutes Serve as a main dish! We don’t usually need anything else to go with this ☺

Enchilada Sauce
Just in Case You Want To Make Your Own
– 2-4 Cups Water
– 1-2 Vegetable Bullion Cubes

– 3 TB Onion Powder
– 3TB Garlic Powder
– 3 TB Corn Starch
– 1 jar of tomato paste (the organic glass jarred tomato paste has almost no sodium!)
– 1 Tsp chili powder (if you use mild chili powder you might need up to ¼ cup but again I use super HOT stuff where a little goes a long way

Mix in all of the ingredients except for the cornstarch and tomato paste. Use about ¼ cup of the water in a small glass or dish. Add the cornstarch to the ¼ cup of water and mix in completely. Then pour this mixture into the pot, stirring constantly. Once it thickens a bit add the tomato paste, stir and let simmer! This is my favorite recipe adapted from a couple of different recipes I found online. I like to make a big batch of this and then freeze it so I just have to thaw it out the next time I make a Mexican dish!

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

My Vegan Beginings

Recently I realized there was a lot I could learn about who I am today by looking back to who I was at the age of 10. My childhood self is someone I look up to a lot these days. Looking back on it now, 5th grade was where I began paving the path I would walk in this life. Of course as with any path, I have wandered on and off of that path quite a few times. Yet, I am amazed at how the person I was at the age of 10 is still the person I most want to be.

In 5th grade I was an environmental activist who helped change school regulations. One of the accomplishments I am still proud of today was the work I did along with my classmates in an advanced learning program. I interviewed cafeteria workers, did research and wrote a report. We presented to the school board on the negative environmental impact of using Styrofoam. This advocacy led to the school getting rid of Styrofoam plates and dusting off the old plastic school trays, which had been sitting along the wall of the cafeteria.

The future environmentalist came out even stronger with a school fundraiser I participated in. We raised money to buy acres of rainforest to preserve it for the future. (I don’t remember how many acres now, but at the time it seemed like a lot.) I remember the walk from the school to the park where we celebrated earth day. My heart was filled with pride for making a difference and doing my part to save the earth. To me, the tall-canopied trees in Dead Horse Ranch State Park, were rainforest trees growing in the middle of Arizona.

Fifth grade also pointed me towards an important part of my future career, when I won an award for an essay I wrote about how important nurses are. (I spent over a month in the hospital at the age of 7 recovering from being run over by a car. I had plenty of nurse stories to tell even at the age of 10.) It was then, I decided I would be a writer when I grew up. With the confidence of winning an award, I wrote my first short story. Writing is something I never set aside. I am currently working on writing my first novel.

One of the most important moments of my 5th grade year, came the day my teacher showed our class a video which changed my life forever. I came home from school and told my mother I was becoming a vegetarian. She fully supported me in this and we began eating healthier as a family.

Today, those childhood values lead me forward every day. I was vegetarian on and off my whole life before I went vegan. In becoming vegan, I have found myself once again an active environmentalist. It feels good to know my goals as a child have led me into the beautiful life I am now living.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Vegan Egg-less Scramble, aka lunch

For Lunch today we got creative and ended up eating brunch. It turned out fabulous (of course) and so I thought I would share.

Vegan Egg-Less Scramble
1 block extra firm tofu
Veg "sausage" (or potatoes or any other yummies)
2 TB Olive Oil
1/4 Cup Rice Vinegar

1-2 Tsp Turm
2-3 small Sweet red peppers

1 small onion
Salt & Pepper to taste
Your Favorite Bread

Drain any moisture from tofu by pressing firmly between two paper towels or a small hand towel. Heat frying pan on medium heat. Add olive oil, rice vinegar, turmeric. Mix in spice so it dissolves into oil and vinegar. Crumble in tofu and cook on lower heat until the tofu soaks up the vinegar and oil. Add the rest of the ingredients and cook together. Very simple, quick and easy meal!