Thursday, August 14, 2008

Vegan recipe: Veggie Chick'n Taquitos with Guacamole

Hey, whaddaya know? The Veggie Guy has posted a recipe for the first time in... well, too danged long. Really, it's a pretty simple recipe, but it turned out very well.

Okay, first, the guacamole.

I have a confession to make - I've always used those seasoning packets from the produce aisle - you know, mash 2 avocados, add the seasoning packet, and... instant guacamole.

But tonight, I decided to make guacamole from scratch. Here are the ingredients (minus the tomatoes, which were fashionably late for the event):

Clockwise from top: 2 monster avocados (really, these were the biggest danged avocados I've seen in a while), 2 cloves of garlic, a few sprigs of cilantro, a red jalapeno, a small red onion, and a jar of cumin. As I mentioned, 2 roma tomatoes showed up just after the picture was taken. Prima donnas...

Step 1: Peel and mash the avocados.

Step 2: Dice 1 roma tomato, about 1/2 of 1 small red onion, 2 cloves of garlic, 1 jalapeno, and cilantro. Add all ingredients , plus 1/2 tbsp cumin, to avocado.

Step 3: Mash all ingredients with a fork and mix. Put in a bowl and refrigerate for 1/2 hour to allow flavors to combine.

Now for the taquitos:

1/2 package Morningstar Farms Veggie Chick'n Strips

4 small flour tortillas

1/2 tbsp adobo seasoning powder

4 oz. Veggie Shreds cheddar and pepperjack flavored soy cheese

1 roma tomato, diced

1 red jalapeno, diced

1/3 tbsp olive oil

4 oz beer (or whatever you don't drink while cooking)

1/2 small red onion, diced

In a medium skillet or wok, add olive oil, Veggie Chick'n strips, adobo seasoning, jalapeno, 1/2 of the diced red onion, and beer. Cook over medium heat for about 5-6 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

At this point, my 5-year-old daughter confiscated the camera and snapped a shot of the Veggie Guy in his favorite place in the house:

Place 1/4 of the Veggie Chick'n in each tortilla, add Veggie Shreds. Roll into taquitos and place in a baking dish. Bake for 5 minutes.

Serve with diced tomatoes, remaining red onions, vegan sour cream, and guacamole. (Kroger had Tofutti vegan sour cream on sale for $1.88 today!)

So there you go. The Veggie Guy has resurrected, like the proverbial phoenix or Jesus or that guy from the Evil Dead series... Only I make way better guacamole.

The Garden of Evil

This year marks the first time I have tried to grow anything since I helped my dad with his garden some 20 years ago. I decided to just start out with some peppers. While the harvest is a bit light, I'm happy to say that I do have some peppers to incorporate into my recipes.

First, the cayenne peppers:

Next up, jalapenos. I let these ripen a bit longer than I intended - jalapenos turn red when fully ripe - but I've read that red jalapenos have a slightly sweeter, more complex taste than the standard green jalapenos. I'm making Mexican tonight, so we shall see:

These are Peruvian purple peppers. I chose these on a whim, and I'm really not sure what to do with them. But rest assured, I will figure something out:

Finally, the kings of evil - habanero peppers. Out of all the varieties, these seemed to do the best. Mind you, I only use one of these in a whole batch of chili, so I really don't know how I'm going to use all of them.

So there you go... my Garden of Evil. I'll be using these in recipes in the next couple of weeks (although I might dry most of the cayenne peppers and use a coffee grinder to make cayenne powder).
All hail the mighty power of capsacin!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Coming around...

Hey all,

Well, with a lot of help from my wife, I've finally started getting back in the kitchen. I have to say, my culinary skills are a bit rusty, but they're coming around.

And... I have finally caught up with the times (well, sorta...) by springing for a new digital camera. It's a bit laughable, really... my digital camera was about 6 years old, with 2 megapixels and a capacity of 4 megabytes. It took AA batteries, for crying out pete's sakes!

Ok, I'm still learning how to use the new one. But I think you'll see some less crappy pics in the coming weeks. :-)

What else... Oh! I'm currently working on my fourth book, entitled The Vegetarian's Guide to Las Vegas. It features vegetarian and vegan options in all (well, most) of the restaurants along the Strip, in the Fremont Street/Downtown section, and in the off-Strip hotels.

It's been really great to talk to the chefs of these restaurants, and many of them have been quite willing to discuss off-menu vegetarian/vegan creations they can provide for guests.

Why the heck am I writing this book? Well, the first time my wife and I went to Vegas, I nearly starved! I mean, I had a great time, but the vegan options weren't well-featured. Vegas has a gazillion upscale restaurants, and unfortunately, the town equates "upscale" with "tons of meat".

When I first started writing the book, I wondered if I would have enough information to merit an entire book on the subject. Turns out, I have enough material for over 500 pages, so I'm going to have to narrow it down a bit.

The other thing that is slowing the process down is that I'm seeking a new publisher for this one. The company that published my first three books is strictly interested in "how-to" works, so this one really doesn't fit with their objectives. I'm negotiating with two publishers right now, but if any of you can think of one that would be a good fit, I'd love to hear about it.

Well, that's all for now... back to trying to figure out this camera. [curmudgeon] Danged electronical contraptions... [/curmudgeon]
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