Vegetarian Enchilada Stacker

October 16, 2012 By: Megabeth Category: Main Dishes

Some may think that eating vegetarian meals requires making fussy gourmet recipes every night of the week…in reality, it’s far from it. We vegetarians are just like everyone else where sometimes we want to eat good and eat good NOW. Even more so, it’s getting to the time of year where I want to come in out of the chilly air, spend just a few moments in the kitchen, and then immediately get in my jammies. I’m constantly looking for warm, filling and easy easy easy recipes to make.

This enchilada stacker recipe is an easy weeknight meal that converts to some fantastic leftovers for lunch the next day. I whipped up some homemade enchilada sauce (seriously, it’s super easy) and then got to work quickly layering some ingredients I had on hand. While the pie was cooking in the oven, I had just enough time to get my jammies on…and it was time to eat!

Vegetarian Enchilada Stacker
by Megabeth

  •  6 whole wheat tortillas
  • 2 cups cooked black beans (or 1 15.5 oz can black beans)
  • 1 8 oz package seitan chicken strips, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cup shredded cheese (use a combo of monterey jack and cheddar cheese)
  • 1 1/2 cups enchilada sauce

Coat bottom of glass pie pan with cooking spray (or, drizzle a small amount of olive oil to lightly coat the bottom).

Then add the ingredients in the following order (spread evenly):

– 1/2 cup enchilada sauce

– two tortillas

– 1/2 of the seitan

– 1/2 of the black beans

– 1/3 of the cheese

– two tortillas

– 1/2 cup enchilada sauce

– 1/2 of the seitan

– 1/2 of the black beans

– 1/3 of the cheese

– two tortillas

– 1/2 cup enchilada sauce

Put the tortilla stack in an oven preheated to 400 degrees. Bake for 30 minutes.

Remove from oven and sprinkle remaining cheese on top of tortilla stack. Place back in oven until cheese is melted  – about 5 minutes.

See, told you…easy easy easy!

Vegetarian Chicken Divan Pot Pie

December 26, 2011 By: Megabeth Category: Main Dishes

This vegetarian chicken divan pot pie tastes like it too hours to make when in fact, it only takes about 5 minutes to prep and 20 minutes to cook. (Just remember to thaw your puff pastry ahead of time.)

Because you’re only placing a few squares of puff pastry on the top, you don’t get overwhelmed by too much breading. The filling really is the star of the show. However, the success of the recipe depends on the portabello soup you use, so find a nice flavorful organic soup and you’ll be good to go.

Mock Chicken Divan Pot Pie
from the October 2010 issue of Vegetarian Times

  • 4 cups broccoli florets (halved if large)
  • 11/4 cups prepared creamy portobello mushroom soup
  • 3/4 cup light mayonnaise or soy mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp. dry sherry or cooking sherry
  • 1/4 tsp. poultry seasoning (or 1/8 tsp. each ground thyme and ground sage)
  • 1 lb. seitan, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese or shredded vegan cheese of choice, optional
  • 2/3 sheet (1/3 of 17.3-oz. pkg.) frozen puff pastry, thawed

Preheat oven to 425°F, and place oven rack in bottom third of oven. Coat 13- x 9-inch baking dish or oval casserole or gratin dish with cooking spray.

Place broccoli florets in microwave-safe casserole with lid, and add 3 Tbs. water. Cover, and microwave on high power 2 minutes. Stir, cover, and microwave 2 minutes more, or until broccoli is tender. Drain, and set aside.

Meanwhile, whisk together soup, mayonnaise, sherry, and poultry seasoning in large bowl. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.

Add seitan and broccoli florets; stir to combine. Transfer broccoli-seitan mixture to prepared baking dish, and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, if using.

Cut pastry into 6 equal squares. Place squares evenly over seitan mixture. (Filling does not need to be completely covered by squares.)

Bake 20 minutes, or until pastry is puffed and golden and filling is hot and bubbly.

Vegetarian Giro d’Italia: Seitanstoofpot with Beer

May 10, 2010 By: Megabeth Category: Main Dishes, Other, Vegetarian Giro d'Italia

Seitanstoofpot with Beer

Today was the last stage in The Netherlands so I’m rounding out the recipes with a hearty soup called Seitanstoofpot with Beer. This dish was created to honor International Labour Day on May 1st, so it’s a Dutch homage to hearty factory worker food which invariably involves beer and meat. In the Netherlands, instead of Labour Day, they celebrate Koninginnedag on April 30th –  a celebration of the birthday of the Queen’s Mother. The holiday brings folks to the streets dressed in orange much like these fine fellows:

Let me be honest, though, this recipe came out rather…um, not so good. Before I get to that, I wanted to let you in on some amusement I had…

In my research for the Giro stages in the Netherlands, I stumbled across this great Dutch vegetarian site – Vegatopia. To read through the recipes I used Google Translate (Dutch to English) and soon I was lulled into reading interesting grammatical structures from mistranslations.

Google translate sometimes hits the nail on the head, but Dutch seems to give it trouble. You can almost understand it…but then realize you have no idea really what it’s trying to say. (Some of my Podium Cafe readers might recognize this phenomenon as “Fringlish”.)

In particular, this translation of the description of Koninginnedag provided for an asparagus croquettes recipe could better be performed during a poetry reading by a man with a beret and a cigarette hanging out of the side of his mouth, snapping and banging on a bongo in a smoky room.

Queen does for most people: a lot of beer and greasy bites. Want to make sure that happen – besides fat – really delicious?…Guys, I have this year is no sense in Queens. All those stupid people who wander about the streets drunk. Just the idea of a candy.  Muk mountains that people just had to leave the attic. Gruesome forms of happiness. Spoiled children, worse still, cool parents. Bands which are not starting nothing and remain so. Fanfares. Salmonella huge barbecues full mapping satay, which comes from such a nauseating fumes.

Ahhh, yeah. (I do think that if I ever write a song the line “spoiled children, worse still, cool parents” and “gruesome forms of happiness” have got to be in it.)

So, let’s let Google Translate lead us with a description into of Seitanstoofpot with Beer.

Bovendien zorgt het ontbreken van grote stukken vlees ervoor dat de stoofpot niet uren hoeft te garen, maar in een half uurtje klaar is. Vlug in de keuken dus.

Moreover, the absence of large cuts of meat make the stew not have hours to cook, but in half an hour to finish. So get in the kitchen.

Wait, hold on a minute, don’t go into the kitchen so fast with this recipe until you read further.

Beer selection is probably key for this soup to work. In short, it starts off pretty good on the palate then you get a really bitter aftertaste. I had the opportunity to serve this to others besides my in-house taste tester so I was able to get some interesting impressions of this recipe including:

  • It needs a starch in it. But, I like what it did to the kidney beans.
  • It tasted like it was going to eventually give me a stomach ache.
  • It’s a bowl of bitterness but falls short of vitriol.
  • It didn’t have a bad aftertaste, it had a bad middletaste and a good beginningtaste.
  • It was bilious…that’s why I had to stop eating it.

That said, try this beer soup recipe at your own risk. There has to be something I’m missing in the recipe and maybe Google Translate led me astray. The only liquid in this soup is the beer so that’s the only culprit I could find. Perhaps the beer should be cut with another liquid? If you know of a beer that doesn’t do this funky turn of taste when you cook with it, please let me know.

Now, without further ado, the last of the cuisine from the Netherlands for the Giro…

Seitanstoofpot with Beer
Translated from Vegatopia

2 onions, sliced (Note: This seemed to be a lot of onion. I used only one.)
1/2 cup carrot, thinly sliced
3/4 cup mushrooms, sliced
3/4 cup seitan (Note: I used a “chicken” seitan and liked how it soaked up the flavor)
3/4 cup kidney beans (from a jar) (Note: I just dumped in an entire 15 oz can, drained)
2 bottles dark beer
1 1/2 T parsley, chopped
2 T flour
a pat of butter
salt, pepper

Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat.  Cook the onions in the butter and turn frequently. Then add carrots and mushrooms and stir occasionally.

After five minutes add the seitan to the pot.  Turn the heat to high and stir occasionally.

Three minutes later, lower the heat and add the beer and some salt and pepper. Simmer 15 minutes with the lid on the pan.

Add the flour into a bowl and get half soup-ladle the liquid from the stew. Put the liquid into the bowl with flour and stir well. Add the flour paste to the stew.

Add the beans and cook another two minutes.

Add the parsley, stir, taste. Add  salt and / or pepper to taste and serve. Serve with bread or brown rice.

Fake Meats…Delicious or Disgusting?

January 10, 2010 By: Megabeth Category: Article

Fake meats. Are they delicious or disgusting? I’ve been inspired by a recent photo poll on Huffington Post to explore this very question. And, as you suspected, for most folks the answer is “disgusting” for me the answer is “it depends”.

Sure, us vegetarians have all heard it, “Why are you a vegetarian if you still eat things that taste like meat?” That’s not the point, at least as far as I’m concerned. We’ve all received the memo that meat substitutes don’t taste like meat. So, if the marketing team decides to call it fake chicken or fake beef, that’s up to them. I’m not looking for something to replicate meat. I’m looking for things that taste good and for ingredients that convey a flavor that I’m looking for in a particular dish.

What’s key to remember when working with fake meats or meat substitutes is that if you are expecting them to taste exactly like the meat they are supposed to be mimicking, they never will. I learned that early with bacon and pepperoni substitutes. You will never be able to recreate that taste. Many people have asked me if I miss bacon. Honestly, I don’t.  So, if I’m eating a bacon substitute I’m not expecting it to taste like bacon.  The spices in the product make fake bacon a good addition to a modified BLT sandwich.

Moving on to veggie burgers. I’ll admit, I usually have a box of Gardenburgers or Boca Burgers in the freezer so I don’t thumb my nose at them. Over the past few years there has been an explosion of flavors in what you can find in the store’s freezer. Some are a lot better than others, so you really have to experiment with what you like. In the refrigerated section you can also find portabella burgers and some grocery stores, like Whole Foods, have hand crafted patties. I prefer these much more than the frozen versions. Meanwhile, I do have a book of recipes of exclusively veggie burger recipes and have tried out a lentil goat cheese burger recipe that came out really good. But,  I hope to work on more of these recipes this summer when I can fire up the grill.

Ordering veggie burgers in restaurants gets tricky. Here’s my sage advice: When ordering a veggie burger from someplace new, don’t try to imagine what kind of burger they will bring out. Your mouth could be watering for a chunky, juicy, handmade patty and then be presented with a thin hockey puck. (This disappointment is otherwise known as, “Oh geez! We have a vegetarian at table #12! Run to the store and pick up a frozen box of Gardenburgers!” ) However, because I don’t set any expectations I’ve been pleasantly surprised when I am handed a gourmet and succulent veggie burger. Most notably, in Pittsboro, North Carolina and Katoomba, Australia. Also, you can’t go wrong with a veggie burger at Ted’s Montana Grill. They are also quite tasty.

As for fake hot dogs, that’s a whole other story. I’ve never met any veggie hot dog that I really like. Sure, I’ve been known to eat them at a baseball stadium or other random location, but that’s only out of desperation. And, I most certainly don’t even bother keeping them in my house. They are usually rubbery, chewy and tasteless. But never fear, vegetarians don’t have to feel left out at BBQ’s. Head towards the vegetarian sausages that come in a spectacular array of flavors. A while back, I introduced everyone to Vegetarian Sausagepalooza – a review of two brands of veggie sausages. You’ll find that the flavors you get out of these products depend on how you cook them. Stick them in a microwave, and you’re missing out. Fry them or grill them and you get more smoky flavors.

Then, there are the litany of other kinds of “fake meats” made out of seitan, TVP, tofu, and tempeh. They come in all types of shapes and forms from frozen cutlets to refrigerated stir-fry strips. I’ve made several recipes using these fillers and they all play different roles in different recipes. In vegetarian goulash, the seitan serves as a chewy stew like accompaniment the joins the rest of the ingredients.

But, if made as crispy fried bites, the seitan is the feature of the recipe.

If you’re not up to cooking from scratch, manufacturers have made it much easier to enjoy these creations through products that go beyond “chicken-like” and “beef-like” but also versions with sauces and marinades so all you have to do is heat and serve.

So, fake meats, delicious or disgusting? It’s not as simple as that. Because there is such a wide variety of flavors and forms, it’s best to not assume that you’re not going to like all fake meats. You have to experiment with all the different kinds of products rather than run and cower from them. If you’re looking for a vegetarian version of meat to taste exactly like the meat it’s substituting, stop searching because you’re never going to find it.

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