Saturday, September 24, 2011

Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

I can't lie about the fact I am slightly excited about Fall being around.

I think it's the season that has life the hardest - it immediately follows everyone's beloved summer, it gives shorter days, and it means you can't walk around in your bathing suit top at 9pm because you're SO HOT. It's easy to hate on Fall.

However, somewhere between your first pumpkin spiced latte and smelling fresh chimney spoke, you succumb to the idea that Fall can't be too bad. Longer, dark nights to hunker down and not feel bad about watching It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia on repeat? Jumbo pumpkin cookies? 80's style Halloween parties?

Poor Fall - it spends half it's days trying it's damdest to awaken your senses to its glory, and then when we do, it's just about winter.

It's cold season around here - it seems like everywhere I go, there's someone fighting or getting over one. Including our household. We crossed our fingers, hoping it was just allergies, it will work out in the morning. But no, this girls has got a full-on stuffed nose with a sore throat that nothing but soup can soothe.

Hence, Fall's Vegetarian Tortilla Soup made it's way onto our stove this evening, and thank goodness for that. True, Fall may bring a few more germs, but if you get a gastronomical treat like this in exchange, it's allll goooood.

Vegetarian Tortilla Soup
adapted from Epicurious

1 small white onion, diced
1 heaping tablespoon garlic
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon taco seasoning
 2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 quart vegetarian broth
1 cup black beans
1 head broccoli, cute into bite-sized pieces
1 can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
1/2 cup frozen corn
3 tablespoons diced jalapenos
6 six-inch corn tortillas, sliced into 1/2 strips
cilantro, for garnish
S&P, to taste
Hot sauce

1. In a dutch oven or large soup pot, soften the onion and garlic in Pam over medium heat for about 3 minutes; stir in 1/2 cup broth, the tomato paste, the cumin, and the taco seasoning.

2. Add broth, black beans, broccoli, tomatoes with juice, corn and jalapenos. At this point, I also added 2 tomato can-fulls of hot tap water so I can get more broth. More broth = happy (un)sore throat. Crank the heat up to a boil; once it boils, turn back down to medium until the broccoli are soft; about 5 minutes.

**A note here about the fire-roasted tomatoes - you can use any kind of tomato you wish, but I strongly recommend these bad boys. They contribute so much more flavor, but not in a selfish, all-eyes-on-me way. Subtle, roasted flava. Get 'em. Try 'em. Stick with 'em or not.

3. Once the broccoli are tender, add in the tortilla strips. Give the pot a quick stir to ensure all the strips get dunked in, and let cook a few minute more until the tortillas are soft.

4. Once soft, sprinkle in some S&P and ladle into mixing bowls. Garnish with cilantro and add some of your favorite hot sauce. Relax, and enjoy your over-sized bowl of Fall.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Blackberries: All Up Everywhere

My name is Brittani, and I'm an addict. To blackberries. My hands are scratched, my tennis shoes are black, and my teeth have seeds in them. Which makes me not only a person with an unhealthy obsession, but a frightening one that you would rather not see running from points A-F around your city.

The blackberry obsession started innocently enough. I began to take note of their fruitful locations on points here and there on my runs. I casually stopped, snacked, and carried on. I don't know when this apathetic attitude crossed over to the darkness of insanity, but it sure didn't take long. Soon I was running this way and that, just so I could scout out more blackberry bushes. Yea, the road runner is a perfect example.

So I showed THEM the Friday afternoon before the glorious 3-day weekend. I took a large bowl, got in my car, and drove around to all my per-determined blackberry stops. I stopped on the side of the road, waved to the unsmiling watchful neighbors, picked as many ripe ones as possible, and hopped back in my car. (**Please note, if your emotions run this wild, bring a towel to wipe your hands on. Your steering wheel will thank you.)

What's rather ironic about the whole ordeal, is that while I knew I had to have these gems, I really had no idea what I was going to do with them.

Plan to acquire blackberries? Spot on. Plan to use them? Fail.

So that's how I came up with three blackberry recipes in three days, with the end results being gone by the end of third day.

2/3 of the fruits of my labor. On Labor Day. Fruits of Labor Day.

Blackberry Lemon Corn Muffins
adapted from Isa Moskowitz
Makes 1 dozen muffins

These were darn tasty - soft, juicy, and with a nice gritty, corn texture.

1 cup of your favorite GF flour blend
1 cup cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup applesauce
3/4 cup soy milk
2 tablespoons yogurt
1 teaspoon vanilla
grated lemon zest
1 1/4 cup blackberries

1. Turn oven on to 400F and grease your muffin tin.

2. Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking powder, salt and sugar in a medium bowl.

3. In another bowl, whisk the oil, applesauce, milk, yogurt, vanilla, and lemon zest.

4. Fold the wet ingredients into the dry, lightly mix, and add the blackberries. Give a quick, gentle mix to incorporate the blackberries.

5. Fill each muffin tin 3/4 full and bake for about 20 minutes. Enjoy warrrrrrm.

Corn muffs

Vegan Blackberry Scones
Makes about 8 medium scones

*These were my favorite recipe of the bunch. The scones turned out light, but still had that signature biscuit-like bite. They are mildly sweetened, which is balanced out by those bomb blackberries.

1 1/2 cups GF flour
2 tablespoons baking powder
1/8 cup sugar
2 tablespoons vegan margarine (I love Earth Balance)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup milk
1 cup blackberries
2 tablespoons raw sugar (optional)

1. Heat oven to 375F; grease a baking sheet or prepare with a Silpat.

2. Mix flour, baking powder, and sugar together in a medium bowl.

3. Cut in the margarine in with the dry business using a pastry cutter or 2 knives until the whole mess is crumbly and the margarine is pretty much incorporated.

4. Add the vanilla and milk to the mix and stir together with a wooden spoon.

5. Take a bit of dough (you decide how big - they're your scones!) and flatten to about 1/4 inch thick and place it on the baking sheet. Add some blackberries on top to cover the surface, and add another flattened piece of dough the same size to make it's top. I sort of melded the top and bottom doughs together, just to the blackberries know they're not going anywhere.

6. Repeat step 5 until the dough's gone, sprinkle with some raw sugar, and pop them in the oven for about 15 minutes. Let cool slightly before eating; proceed to eat all but one.

Yeah, whatever Blackberry Festival.

Blackberry Pear Cobbler
Fills one pie dish

This one snuck it's way up to me on the fly. We had pears that were practically disintegrating on our counter top, which the fruit flies loved and I did not. This cobbler is a little more on the juicy side, and would go fantastically with ice everything else in the world.

For the filling:
1 cup blackberries
3 peeled, sliced pears
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup corn starch

For the top:
1 cup GF oats
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
6 tablespoons vegan margarine, divided

1. Preheat oven to 350F.

2. In the pie dish, mix together the oats, brown sugar and cinnamon; cut in 4 tablespoons of the margarine so the entire mixture is slightly sticking together.

3. Shake the topping over the blackberry filling; cut and dot the remaining 2 tablespoons of margarine on top of the entire cobbler.

4. Cover with tinfoil and place in the oven for 12 minutes. After 12 minutes, take off the foil and bake for another 10 minutes.

Summertime foods

So there you have it - my labor day lovefest. Let me know how they turn out for you!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Saucy Style 'Ladas

Oh, geez. Another enchilada recipe.

I'm not cheatin' you, pinky swear. This one is different, mainly because it's saucy, like those pink heels you wore that one day running errands. But this recipe is cheezy saucy, which is totally not an adjective I would use to describe any pair of high heels. Unless they're making out with a movie star, then yes. Totally cheesy.

I picked up a new blog that is brilliantly constructed by Mama Pea. I have bookmarked her recipe page and don't ever plan on not looking at less than twice a day. What I should do is back down on the double negatives.

These enchiladas are great - I like my food juicy, and since juicy sure as heck ain't coming from a burger, then I'm going to stuff all in a casserole dish. Also, a quick word about corn tortillas. I really got out of the habit of making them because they would always fall apart if I didn't fry them in bajillion amounts of oil first. However, I found a solid (literally) brand that will let you heat them up in the microwave and still stay in tact when you roll them up with the goods - all without saturating them in oil first. This magical brand is Don Pancho, and I found him at Freddies. Always Freddies. 

Cheezy Enchiladas
inspired by Mama Pea

Cheeze Sauce
everything as in the link above, plus I added 1/2 teaspoon of cumin for a little more Mexican flair

8-10 corn tortillas
1 20 oz. can enchilada sauce
1 can refried beans
1.5 cups cooked white or brown rice
chopped jalapenos, amount to your preference
1 cup shredded green cabbage
1/4 of a small white onion, diced
shredded mozzarella cheese

1. Heat a small amount of olive oil in a skillet over medium hear; add onion and saute until soft, about 3 minutes.

2. Add shredded cabbage to the onion in the skillet and saute until it's all soft and smells good, about 5 more minutes.

3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

4. Bust our your baking dish of choice and add about 1/4 of the enchilada sauce to the bottom.

5. In a mixing bowl, mix together the beans, rice and a smaller amount of the cheeze sauce; eyeball the cheeze amount and of course add more if you feel it's necessary, which it probably is.

6. Microwave the corn tortillas in a damp paper towel about 30-45 seconds.

7. Begin stuffing the tortillas, starting with the saucy cheezy mixture, then the jalapenos, and finally the cabbage and onion mixture. At this point, you can also add your hot sauce of choice.

8. Roll your tortillas and place face down in the casserole dish; continue until they're all lined up and ready to go.

9. Pour the remaining enchilada sauce over your lovely creations, and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. You can see that I made 2 separate pans - a reeeeeal cheese and one sprinkled with leftover cabbage. Guess which is for who.

10. Pop in the oven for about 20 minutes until it's all hot and, well, saucy.