Lower Carb Fajitas

I was thinking about my good buddy Peter the other day and how I promised him that I’d make a lower carb version of something so that he could have it. In the ten plus years that Peter and I have been family, I have made this promise multiple times and fall short. Mostly due to the fact, that most days I just want to force feed Peter biscuits and gravy; I don’t of course but I think real hard about it. So with Peter in mind, I made some Lower Carb Portobella Fajitas. You heard me right, Peter? For the most part mushrooms are really a low carb food, bell peppers too although green bell peppers are the lowest carbs of the peppers. Tortillas……well those are NOT low carb. But I did find an alternative tortilla although you could make these as lettuce wraps if you really wanted to get rid of as many carbs as possible. Let’s talk about what you need to do.

  • Portobello mushrooms – sliced
  • bell peppers – I used red, yellow and orange thin sliced
  • fajita season – you can make this yourself
  • liquid smoke
  • Cassava Flour tortillas
  • Kite Hill sour cream alternative
  • avocado
  • lime
  • little bit of oil

Grab your pan y’all. Add a little oil and your portobellos, fajita seasoning, liquid smoke (just a couple dashes – a little is great, more is too much), and chipotle chili seasoning (for spice). You want the mushrooms to start to get tender and brown a little. Add in your peppers and saute everything together. You can of course add some slices of onions, but by now we know how I feel about them.

Add a little squeeze of lime and a couple tablespoons of water, let everything simmer together and a nice sauce to form. While thats going on, lets get the tortillas ready.

So I found these Cassava Flour tortillas at Whole Foods. They are light, thin and honestly delicious. You want to add a little oil to a non stick pan and crisp up on each side. Be careful, they will break when you go to flip them if you don’t use a gentle hand.

Now assemble. Listen, avocados are good for us but those babies are high in carbs, so you can leave them off. The Kite Hill sour cream however isn’t so bad coming in at 2 carbs. Squeeze a little lime add a little cilantro and enjoy babes.

Here’s to you P. I miss you terribly and once this whole pandemic is over, I’m on the next flight to Michigan to squeeze you tight, plan shenanigans and drink all of our carbs. Love you the most.

Kung Pao Cauliflower with Vegetable Fried Rice

Sometimes you just need good Chinese food. I mean I’ve never met an egg roll I didn’t like, okay that’s not entirely true, I have. But I digress, I didn’t even make egg rolls for this. I should have, but I didn’t. What I did do though was turn cauliflower into Kung Pao Chicken so there’s that. As I mentioned, in my intro I have been on a search to turn all my favorites into plant based eats and still feel like I’m nomming on the real thing. Because let’s face it, if it doesn’t taste good I’m not eating it and I’m certainly not making it for any of my friend or sharing with you. I’ve had some fails and some wins. I’m marking this one as a win. Just fair warning, this one is a bit time consuming so maybe hold off for the weekend. I began prepping this during my lunch break and then finished cooking after work. Worth it!

I can still remember the first time I had Kung Pao Chicken. I was with my Mom at a random little spot in our hometown. I laugh now about how she told me not to eat the peppers, but I did and set my mouth ablaze!!!! From that moment, kung pao chicken became my favorite. The light crispy breading, tender chicken, sticky spicy sauce – I was done. So let’s talk about why this is a bit of a time consuming thing, Tempura batter. Tempura batter is literally three ingredient, shifted flour ice cold water and eggs. That’s it. But in order for you to get that light fluffy coating the batter has to stay cold, even after you’ve coated something in it. Once I made the batter and coated my cauliflower florets in it, I put them on a parchment lined baking sheet and put them in the freezer until I was ready to put them in the oven and before they went in I gave them a good coating of cooking spray. Of course you can fry these or use and air fryer but seeing as this was the first round, I went with the oven. You are going to bake your florets on 450 for about 20 to 25 minutes, which gives you plenty of time to make the sauce and your fried rice.

The sauce wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. This is what you need:

  • low sodium soy sauce
  • hoisian sauce
  • toasted sesame seed oil
  • brown sugar
  • ginger
  • garlic
  • chili sauce

Simmer everything in a pot until combined through and extra sticky. Now let’s work on the fried rice. I used, brown rice, peas, corn, peppers, carrots, edamame, onions, soy sauce and JUST EGG. If you have leftover rice from something you’ve made during the week this is a great time to use it up. Add all your ingredients to a pan with a bit of oil. All your vegetables should be roughly the same size. You want to let it get brown on one side before you begin mixing it up, then add the JUST EGG to the middle and scramble through.

By now your sauce should be ready and so should your cauliflower. Take out of the oven and coat in the sauce. Plate (or bowl) up. Put a little of your fried rice on the side and your kung pao cauliflower on top. You can splash your rice with a little extra soy sauce if needed. Your cauliflower is going to be crispy outside and nice and tender inside. This meal will not disappoint, and don’t be surprised when people come back for seconds. Enjoy y’all!!

Boozy Hot Chocolate

I love some hot chocolate y’all, especially around the holidays. But sometimes a girl just needs a chocolatey night cap. I’ve made this in a crock pot for parties but what do you say we make a single serving. Here’s what you need:

  • Unsweetened Almond Milk
  • Good dark chocolate
  • cinnamon
  • vanilla extract
  • bourbon, whiskey or cinnamon flavored vodka – any of them will work so just use your favorite.
  • Almond Milk Reddi Whip

Add about a cup of almond milk to a sauce pan. Once the milk is warm add in a generous amount of dark chocolate, don’t go cheap here, get the good chocolate. Add a splash of vanilla extract and cinnamon. Keep whisking until everything comes together, this will also keep your milk from scalding.

Pull from heat once everything is mixed and melted. Add a shot (or two, no one is judging) and whisk to warm it through. Pour into your favorite mug, top with Reddi Whip, sprinkle on some cinnamon and sit back to sip away babes. You deserve this.

Not My Dad’s Nachos

Y’all my Dad can do so many wonderful things in the kitchen, but his nachos are on another level. I have great memories of nomming on them while watching a game, late night movie or even after a long night out. And Dad, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry but I had to make them plant based. I’m not sure I can live without your Nachos every now and then.

It’s nachos guys, not rocket science. And I know there are a million and one ways to make them, and I’ve had a lot, bbq nachos, seafood nachos (those were eh) nachos with a salad on them. All in all you still need some basics. Tortilla chips, meat, beans, jalapenos, and cheese. My Dad will tell you the only way to have the cheese is by getting the block and shredding it yourself – he’s not wrong y’all. The pre-shredded stuff is great in a hurry but there is also additives in it that keep it from sticking together, and to keep it fresh. If you have a cheese grater, do it yourself. So for my Nachos we are going to do things a little different. First, we are using a meat alternative, we are making a cheese sauce and finally only the chips are going in the oven. Let’s get to it. Here’s what we need:

  • Tortilla chips – use your favorite
  • Beefless Ground – get it from Trader Joes. More on this in a minute.
  • Can of black beans – drained and rinsed
  • Taco seasoning – or make your own
  • Jalapenos
  • black olives
  • cheese sauce * we’ll go over how to make this
  • gauc
  • sour cream alternative

I was turned on to this Beefless Ground from Trader Joe’s by some friends of mine (thanks Anne + BT) if you have a Trader Joe’s near you give this a try. It really is by far the best meat alternative that I’ve found out there. One small package is the equivalent of a pound of ground beef. It’s great in sauces, in tacos and in nachos. Leftovers are also great with some JUST EGG scrambled in and wrapped in a tortilla. So here’s what we are going to do: add package of beefless ground into a pan with a little bit of oil and cook through. It’s already cooked so you are just warming it up and adding a little more color to it. add your taco seasoning, add your drained and rinsed black beans and mix together. add just a little bit of water to the mixture and let it simmer together. While that’s working lets get the chips in the oven. Preheat your oven to 375. Lay your chips on a parchment lined baking sheet and spray with a little cooking spray. Sprinkle with chili powder and add some lime zest. Put in the oven for 5-10 minutes. You just want them to be warmed through.

Now let’s talk about this cheese sauce. I’ve made it a few different ways, carrots and potatoes but we are going to use just a few things:

  • Alternative cheese slices- torn apart
  • Alternative cheese shreds
  • Nutritional Yeast
  • unsweetened almond milk

add cheese to a pot and and whisk until it begins to melt. add almond milk and nutritional yeast, keep whisking. it will become bubbly and smooth. Add a little chili powder as well.

Let’s put these babies together. Pile your warm chips on a plate and top with your beans and meat mixture. Drizzle over your cheese sauce. Top with some sliced jalapenos, black olives, guac and sour cream – I used Kite Hill Sour Cream, its a great alternative to regular sour cream. Grab a cold beer and some friend and dig in y’all!!!

Not My Mama’s Pot Roast

One of the meals my Mama always made really well was Pot Roast. She’d put it in the crock pot with some potatoes, carrots, onions, a little stock garlic and bay leaf. By the time everyone got home it was pull apart delicious. As an adult, it’s a meal I’ve made frequently. It’s pure comfort. I like to take the potatoes, carrots and onions mash them together with some butter and a little cream or milk and serve it on the side of the roast with a nice salad, adding a little flour to the drippings to make gravy. Y’all so good. Let’s get into shall we?

  • Potatoes -chopped
  • Carrots- chopped
  • garlic- finely diced
  • onions – finely diced
  • No Evil foods Comrade Cluck
  • Liquid aminos
  • seasonings: basil, thyme, oregano, bay leaf, little salt, pepper
  • liquid from a jar of peppers – use your favorite or what you have on hand. I went with some pepperonicini pepper juice.
  • mushroom stock

Chop your vegetables so they are all roughly the same size, and put into your pot. I used my dutch oven for this one because it doesn’t need to cook all day but you can certainly use your crock pot. Add in your No Evil Foods Comrade Cluck and break it up a bit. You’ll notice it as the look of pot roast that has been shredded but still chunky. Add your seasonings, liquid aminos, splash of pepper juice, and your stock, a good splash of wine would be good too. You want to just cover whats in the pot.

Put your lid on, and let simmer for a few hours. You want all your vegetables to be tender. If you’re using your crock pot, I would say put it on low for a couple hours. Just a warning, your house is going to smell delicious.

I decided to serve mine over some polenta slices. You can find this in most grocery stores. Simply slice and put in a pan with some butter and let get golden on each side. This is a great fridge staple.

Once everything is ready, veggies tender, and your liquid has reduced and thickened put your polenta in your plate or bowl and serve your “roast” and veggies over the polenta. Toast up a slice or two of good crusty bread for mopping. Don’t forget your wine, and enjoy!!

Weekend Southern Breakfast

Growing up in the south you could be sure of a few things, God, football/baseball, family and a big breakfast over the weekend not always in that order. Now this breakfast always came with eggs, maybe some grits, biscuits and sawmill sausage gravy (both made from scratch), bacon, maybe some hash browns and a few slices of tomatoes. To this day, I will never understand why my Papa liked tomato slices with his breakfast, but he did y’all and I guess he passed that down to me. I wanted a few things different for my breakfast this weekend y’all. I didn’t make the coma inducing biscuits, I also opted out of grits. Instead of traditional hash browns, I used root vegetables and made my gravy with Lightlife sausage and Cassava flour. Don’t worry, I can feel my Nana shaking her head at me from heaven. But I think even Nana would have liked this version.

If you’ve never used Cassava Flour let me go over this with you. First, I wouldn’t bake with it. Maybe you would. It’s made from the Yuca plant and can be used in the place of cornstarch or in this case used for sawmill gravy. A little goes a long way and y’all I promise it gets THICK, QUICK.

Let’s make this breakfast y’all.

  • Just Egg (or regular eggs if your not going plant based)
  • Root vegetables: white potatoes (peeled) carrots (peeled) parsnips (peeled) sweet potato (peeled) Grate them all up and give them a good squeeze to get rid of the access water.
  • spinach
  • Lightlife sausage – this really is great y’all and has such good flavor. You can make them in patties or crumble up. (of course regular sausage for my non plant based people).
  • Cassava flour
  • unsweetend almond milk
  • spices: garlic, onion powder, chili powder, salt and pepper.
  • grapeseed oil.

I suggest making your hash browns first, as they take a little to get brown. Add some grapeseed oil or even a little butter to a hot pan (cast iron would be great here). add in your grated root vegetables, and a sprinkle of all your spices. Let cook until you get the brown bits on some. Mix well and add a couple handfuls of spinach. Keep stirring until the spinach begins to wilt through.

Once those are done go ahead a cook up your sausage. You’ll need a little oil in your pan, the lightlite doesn’t have fat content of its own. I like when the edges are a little more brown and crispy. Pull from the pan and set aside. Make your eggs. If you are using Just Egg, you kind of have to go with scrambled but if you’re using regular make them your favorite way. Plate up some hash browns and your eggs. Now it’s time to make your gravy. Oil or butter in your pan. Almond milk and 2 tbsp of Cassava Flour, whisk until smooth. Add in some salt pepper and chili powder. Add your sausage back in, if its too thick you can always add a little more milk. Put your sausage gravy over your hash browns. Top your eggs with some cheese, maybe some avocado, a few tomatoes, sprinkle with parsley and enjoy!! And if you still need to take a nap after, well that’s okay too.

Not Fried, Not Chicken

You read that right. It’s not fried and it certainly isn’t chicken. In fact, it’s oyster mushrooms and I used the air fryer (because its Summer in Florida and I’m not frying ANYTHING in hot grease, I’m just saying). So if you’re like me and on this plant based journey, then you have seen all the rage around oyster mushrooms, well mushrooms in general. I mean they have a great meaty texture, and you can give them so much flavor. So I came across a post (I honestly don’t remember if it was Instagram or Pinterest) and all I saw was a plate of fried chicken, but as I kept reading I quickly found out that it was actually NOT chicken but oyster mushrooms and the little hamster in my brain began running on her little wheel so fast y’all! You mean to tell me that I can have plant based fried chicken? Okay I’m in.

Unlike regular button or even portobello mushrooms that grow individually, oyster mushrooms kind grown in a clump. You can break them apart if you wanted to do more bite size pieces, say for “chicken wings” but keeping them together makes them almost look like a piece of chicken when they are coated.

So lets get into what we are going to need to make this:

  • Oyster mushrooms, clean them and I cut off the ends to give them a more uniform look.
  • Flour, cornmeal, panko – yes all three
  • unsweetened almond milk
  • garlic powder
  • onion powder
  • poultry seasoning
  • parsley
  • chili powder
  • hot sauce

Clean your mushroom and cut off the ends, pat dry and set aside. Let’s start making the batters. First, lets talk about the issue of buttermilk or not. You can certain soak these in buttermilk before hand. I mean if it was regular chicken I would but this was a first run on these bad boys and I just wanted to see if it worked. To make buttermilk (yes you can make it with alternative milks) just take your milk of choice and add a little vinegar – mix well. The vinegar will cause the milk to curdle and thicken – tada!!!! buttermilk. But like I said, I didn’t go that route this time. So lets make your batters, one wet, one dry. All your almond milk (or buttermilk) a little flour, cornmeal all your spices and some hot sauce. And if you’ve every had my actual fried chicken, yes I put hot sauce in it. Then mix up your dry, flour, cornmeal, panko, and spices. Dredge your mushrooms in your wet batter making sure they are fully coated, then move to your dry – again making sure they are fully coated. Let sit for a moment. Before you start to dredge your mushrooms, preheat that air fryer at 370. Once finished you are going put your mushrooms in the air fryer and cook at 370 for 15 minutes, turning once.

These would be great served with some mashed potatoes and a veggie – I mean make it a real southern meal. But I can totally see me making these into hot “wings” and serving with some vegan ranch and veggies. The leftovers from last night are going to be turned into a “chicken” sandwich for lunch today, I can’t wait! I have to tell y’all I wasn’t too sure about this one but one bite and I got the crunch I love from fried chicken and honestly the taste was like I was having a piece of dark meat. It was pretty dang good. I hope you give it a try. Until next time y’all.

Chickpea “Tuna” Salad

The title is throwing you off right? Yeah it did me too when the first time someone told me you could use chickpeas (or garbanzo beans), to make tuna. Lemme think about this for a minute. Yeah no, that’s not gonna work. Oh but sweetheart, it does! And this quick salad is pretty versatile as far as how you use it. It’s a staple in my fridge. I can make a batch of this on Sunday and nom on it through out the week for quick bites when I’m in a rush or honestly just too lazy to cook.

I have never met a chickpea I didn’t like. Y’all I’m tellin ya, these little gems really are great in a lot of ways. They can be a pantry staple, you can roast them up and have a crunchy little snack, they are great in salads, grain bowls, I’ve even made them into burgers, and well you like hummus right? Like I said, staple. But let’s get back to this tuna salad. I make a base and then go from there. You can add in celery, carrots, cherry tomatoes, nuts or seeds, even grapes or dried cranberries. Here’s what you need:

  • 1 can of chickpeas, drained and rinse.
  • Nori Fukuoka
  • Vegan Mayo
  • Onion powder
  • Garlic powder
  • Chili powder
  • salt and pepper

Take your chickpeas in a bowl and grab your trusty potato masher. Mash those babies up. I’ve tried it in a food processor, blender and ninja, mashing them by hand gives you little chunks still. I mean we are not making hummus here. Once most of your chickpeas are mashed add a couple of tablespoons of mayo, Nori Fukuoka be generous here, you want that flavor, onion powder, garlic powder, chili powder, salt (easy on this) and pepper. Mix well. You’ll start to notice the “tuna” type of texture you are working with. You can always add more mayo if you need too. Cover in plastic wrap, and put in the fridge, you just want it to get cold. That is your base. From here you can make it into whatever you’d like. Feel like a tuna sandwich, put it with some bread and there you go. Put it on top of some mixed greens, add tomatoes, cucumbers and some dressing. Better yet, lets add some panko on the outside and fry it up a bit to make “tuna” patties, and even put it on some toasted bread and make an avocado toast… the possibilities are endless friends, and each idea is more delicious than the next. What do you want to do with your chickpea “tuna” salad?

Fried Tuna Patty Sammy
Tuna Avocado Toast

Grain Bowl Noms

I love good food. I mean seriously, I do. But I also love food that is easy and can be mixed with different things, especially when meal prepping for the week. With just a few ingredients you have a filling meal that is healthy and delicious – win win here babes. So lets get into it.

  • Grains – any type will work but these are my go tos; quinoa, brown rice, farro, and jasmine rice. These are great because a little goes a long way and they can all be mixed together.
  • Roasted Veggies – whatever you like is what you should use, or if there is something you want to try or something you are maybe not so fond of (cough cough broccoli) then roasting them gives it a new flavor. it’s also a great way to use up the things that might not be so pretty anymore. I used, asparagus, broccolini, mushrooms, peppers and brussel sprouts.
  • Dressing- i mean its like a salad you kinda need a little something. especially with the grains. As great as they are, they can be a little dry.
  • Toppings – life is just better with toppings y’all, and it adds some freshness to a cooked dish, try avocados, tomatoes, maybe a sprinkle of parm.

Get your grains going first, they are really going to take the longest out of everything unless you have a rice cooker or use the shortcut microwave packs. I will caution and say that where those packs are a great shortcut you really don’t get to control the flavor you add. Cooking on your own, you are able to cook with stock or broth and fresh herbs or even tossing in some garlic, I mean just about everything is better with garlic and you need to season your food at every level. Also when your grains are just about cooked you can add in other things, spinach, tomatoes, red peppers etc.

Once you get your grains going, preheat your oven at 375. Grab your veggies, seasoning, use what you like best – I tend to like things on the spicy side so I use a lot of chili powders. This is a great time to experiment with seasoning. You’ll also need some oil, I like grapeseed, and a parchment lined baking sheet. clean and wash all your veggies, pat dry and chop up! Drizzle with oil and your seasonings. Put in the oven 375 for about 25 minutes, if you add potatoes you may need to leave them in there just a little longer.

Before
After

Let’s talk dressing for a quick minute. You can always go with store bought, lord knows I have a multitude in my fridge but you can also make one with just a few ingredients and it all starts with a mason jar. Jar – oil- spices-maybe some red wine vinegar – lid on shake up Italian dressing. Jar -tahini, oil, a little water-spices- lid on shake up Hummus dressing. You get the idea here. I firmly believe fresh is best but hey if its not in your wheel house there is nothing wrong with getting a bottle of your favorite.

Grab a bowl , we’re about to eat y’all. Put some of your grains down first, a little dressing of your choice. Layer your veggies around, drizzle a little more dressing, maybe a sprinkle of parm or your favorite cheese. Grab your fork and dig in. Enjoy y’all.

Sausage + Peppers times Two

I first fell in love with Sausage and peppers when I lived in Chicago. There was this little vendor just down the street from my studio that served them dog style; hoagie roll steamed, Italian sausage hot or mild, flat top seared peppers, onions and garlic, and topped with the gooey mozzarella and provolone cheese melted goodness. Marco if you ever come across this – thank you for so many delicious lunches, laughs and for being so very gracious the day I brought my MIL with me.

Speaking of my MIL her way of making sausage and peppers wasn’t as portable but so dang comforting. She would simmer the Italian sausage on a bed of peppers, onions, garlic and diced tomatoes and serve them over a bowl of cheesy herby polenta. Honestly, my mouth just watered a bit. In honor of the two people who are responsible for my love of sausage and peppers, let’s make them both ways, one pot!

With so many meat alternatives out there (and I’ve tried just about all of them) I’ve found that the Beyond Sausage is the best textually out there and the taste is pretty good; meaning you can give them a lot of flavor. But please if you have one that you like better, use it or if you are not following the plant based life and want to just go with regular Italian sausage then do you babe. Here’s what we are going to need:

  • Beyond Sausage – all 4 links
  • can of diced tomatoes – drained
  • peppers- sliced, make them colorful
  • onions- sliced. Now I’m not an onion fan so instead of the onions, I use onion powder instead.
  • garlic – finely chopped.
  • Mushroom – this is optional and not normally in sausage and peppers, but I like them in it.
  • Follow your heart provolone cheese slices
  • Kite Hill ricotta cheese
  • unsweetened almond milk
  • hoagie rolls or hot dog buns
  • Jasmine rice

For Both: add your peppers, onion, mushroom and garlic into a cast iron skillet (if you don’t have cast iron, go with something you can put into the oven) add a little oil to your pan and saute’ everything for a couple of minutes. Then nest your sausage links on top. Put in oven on 375 for about 15 minutes.

Chicago-style Sausage + Peppers Dog: steam or toast your buns. While everything is cooking in the oven make your “cheese” sauce. Break up a couple slices of the follow your heart provolone slices into a pan to melt. Add a splash of almond milk, and a spoon of the kite hill ricotta. You could also add a little nutritional yeast in to give it a little more flavor. Whisk until fully incorporated and smooth. Add a sausage link to your bun, top with some peppers and then drizzle over that cheesy sauce, dig in y’all.

Sausage + Peppers bowl: Cook your jasmine rice per package instructions. I’d suggest using veggie broth or stock instead of water, it adds some extra flavor. Put your rice into a bowl. Slice your sausage links. Add the about half the can of diced tomatoes to your pepper mixture and saute’ together, add your sliced sausage back into the pan and cook together for about 5 minutes then top over your rice. Add a spoon full of the ricotta and sprinkle on some basil for garnish – Enjoy babes!!!