Category Archives: Mexican

Vegan Black Bean and Sweet Potato Quesadillas


When I first started dating my husband he pretended he had the desire to learn to cook, so that first Christmas I got him the Student’s Vegetarian Cookbook. All of the recipes are budget-conscious, have only a handful of ingredients and are easy to make. It’s a great, simple cookbook for both those just starting to cook or just starting to eat vegetarian.

I had him pick what he wanted to learn how to make first and he chose a simple black bean and sweet potato quesadilla recipe. Well, he opted to paint his daughter’s room during our “class” but popped out every now and again to check the status and pretend to be absorbing my instruction. Six years later, I’m still the one making the quesadillas, but that’s OK. I made some tonight inspired by that first simple recipe. Still delicious after all these years.

• 1 14.5 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
• 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and grated
• 1/2  med. yellow onion, diced
• 1 garlic clove, minced
• 1 1/2 tsp. cumin
• 1 tsp. coriander
• 1 tsp. chili powder
• salt and pepper to taste
• 1-2 handfuls fresh spinach
• your cheese of choice (I went with Daiya cheddar vegan cheese)
• olive or other oil

1. Dice, chop, etc. all vegetables as noted above. Feel free to add more or less of any given ingredient. For the sweet potato, use a box grater or the grater plate on your food processor. I finally got to use the grater on my new Magimix three-bowl food processor. Worked great and took about 5 seconds.

2. Add a small amount of oil to a saute pan (1 Tbsp. should do it). Saute onion until beginning to soften, then add garlic and cook for about one minute. This would be a good time to toss in some minced jalapeno or other hot peppers if you’re into that kind of thing.

IMG_50813. Add grated sweet potatoes and saute until soft (you can always smell when they’re done too — when it starts to smell like sweet potato fries, you’re good!). Add spices and spinach and cook until spinach is wilted.

4. Add beans and lightly mash with a potato masher or fork. This isn’t a must, but if you mash them they help form the glue that keeps the two sides of the quesadilla together/keep the ingredients inside the quesadilla AND it can be a vehicle to sneak other veggies in there. Oh — and feel free to use whatever peans you have on hand — black bean, pinto, white beans, you name it.

The more they’re all mashed together, the less the little ones in your life will take note of all the goodness they’re ingesting. I stopped here tonight, but you could finely dice just about anything and include it. If you’re trying to sneak things, you could use cauliflower, which smushes up really well with other things.

5. When it’s all cooked up to your liking, heat a griddle pan or another large sauté pan over medium heat (or if you’ve only got one pan, just remove the contents to a bowl and use the same one). You can spray the pan with an olive oil mister or something. but it’s not technically necessary. Then, build your quesadilla.

I lay one large flour tortilla down and put a small sprinkle of cheese down (again — more glue). Put a layer of filling from the other pan. I try to spread it out evenly and get pretty close to the edge. I then top with a good amount of cheese and another tortilla.

6. Let it sit until the bottom starts to brown. Using a large spatula, quickly flip over. If you’ve mashed the beans, etc., not too much stuff should fly out mid-flip. If you’ve got whole beans in there, beware!

7. Continue to cook until the cheese is all melty and the bottom tortilla starts to brown and get a little crispy. Remove onto a cutting board and cut into four wedges (I prefer using a pizza cutter).

8. Serve with salsa, hot sauce, guacamole or sour cream (I went with Toffutti Sour Supreme vegan sour cream tonight and Newman’s Own Medium Roasted Garlic Salsa. Delish! These store really well in the refrigerator and can easily heat up again in the microwave or on the stove top. You can even send them with the kids to school!

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Enchiladas

I’ve made these for a client and my own family this week — they are delicious. I made the vegan version for my family and that is what’s photographed above. The store was out of the “cheddar style” Daiya vegan cheese, so I got the mozzarella style version and it was still delicious. This recipe is really easy to make too. Enjoy!

Serves 4

•  28 oz. can of whole, peeled tomatoes
• 2 tsp. chili powder
• 1 large onion, chopped
• 3 Tbsp. canola oil or other high heat oil
•  salt and pepper
• 1 garlic cloves, minced
• 1 15 oz. can of black beans, drained and rinsed
• 1 medium potato, grated
• 2 tsp. oregano
• 2 c. cheddar cheese or vegan cheese
• 8 flour tortillas
• 2 green onions, thinly sliced/chopped

Preheat oven to 450

1. In a blender or food processor, puree tomatoes, chili powder, half the onion, 1 Tbsp. oil, 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. pepper or until smooth

2. Heat 1 Tbsp. of remaining oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add remaining onion and cook until softened, 3-5 minutes.

3. Add garlic and saute 1 minute more. Add black beans, sweet potato, oregano and salt and pepper (about 1/4 tsp. each). Cook, tossing frequently, until sweet potatoes are cooked, about 5 minutes.

4. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool slightly. Stir in 1 c. of cheese.

5. Spread one cup of tomato sauce  in bottom of 9×13 pan. Roll up bean mixture in the tortillas (about 1/2 c. each) and place seam side down in pan.

6. Top with remaining tomato sauce, cheese and green onions. Bake on top rack of oven until cheese is belted and bubbly, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Vegan Black Bean Tamale Pie

Look at me! Two posts in two weeks! I’m really on a roll, aren’t I? I decided I better post this ASAP or my week will get away from me. I made this for a client last week and have been craving it ever since. I finally got around to it tonight.

This can be vegan or just vegetarian, depending on what kind of cheese, milk and eggs (or egg replacers) you use. I chose to make it vegan. This is a really simple dish you can make with a few things you can keep in your pantry. If you have a bit of onion and some kind of bell pepper, that’s about the only produce you need (although I think I did throw some minced garlic in tonight because I can’t seem to leave garlic out of anything).

This got high marks from my better half too — he couldn’t stop himself from taking extra helpings. It’s really rich and filling, kind of like eating chili with cornbread all in one dish. It’s definitely a crowd pleaser and very easy to adjust the heat — throw some freshly minced jalapeno or habaneros in the early stages to kick it up a few notches.

• 1 tsp. olive oil
• 1/2 c. chopped onion
• 1/3 c. green pepper (I used yellow because it was what I had)
• 1 15 oz. can black beans
• 1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
• 1 c. corn canned, cooked fresh or frozen
• 1 1/4 oz. taco seasoning mix (or throw some cumin, coriander, garlic powder, onion powder, etc. in and season to taste).
• 1 1/4 c. cornmeal
• 1 c. grated cheese (I used Daiya pepper jack style grated cheese)
• 1 1/4 c. milk (I used almond)
• salt and pepper to taste (Oops, I forgot this entirely today… it was fine)
•  2 large eggs, beaten or equivalent egg replacer (I used 3 tsp. egg replacer powder mixed with 4 Tbsp. warm water).
• Minced jalapenos or habaneros (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
1. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add onions and bell peppers and cook until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. Throw your minced hot peppers in at this point too if you’re using.  (Just before the next step is when I threw in the garlic and cooked for 1 more minute).

2. Add undrained beans, tomato sauce, corn, taco seasoning or spices, 1/2 c. of the cornmeal and 1/2 c. of cheese. Cook over low heat, stirring often, until thickened and cornmeal is cooked through, approximately 15 minutes, then put in 1 1/2- or 2- quart casserole dish.

3. Meanwhile, heat milk with remaining 3/4 c. cornmeal in a small saucepan and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly (Well, close enough. I stirred it often…) until all of the milk is absorbed. Remove from heat. Slowly add eggs or egg replacer and stir in the remaining 1/2 c. of cheese.

4. Spread over top of bean mixture and bake uncovered for about 40 minutes or until top begins to lightly brown. Mine didn’t get that far, because there were hungry mouths to feed, but it was 40 minutes and good enough.

I can’t believe I waited this long to make this for my own family — I have a feeling it will stay in the winter-time rotation!

Vegan Stuffed Poblano Peppers

Last night I had to make something for a gathering with a Mexican theme and I was stumped — I couldn’t think of anything new or original to bring. So, I took to the Internet and one of my first searches turned up this great blog A Couple Cooks. Their recipe for Stuffed Poblano Peppers sounded great, so I decided to go with that, as well as a basic salsa recipe. (Look for that tomorrow).

First the peppers. (I didn’t take pictures — this one is from the post on A Couple Cooks.)

I decided to double it, which was just enough for 10 people (who also had another entree going on). Everyone loved these and there were only 4 leftover. I’ll post the single recipe here though, which would be good for 4+ people.  If you found some mini bell peppers, you could make great little appetizers out of this recipe too.

• 4 poblano peppers (I did a mixture of poblano and bell peppers — prepare the same way)
• 1 c. uncooked brown rice (could use quinoa or another grain too)
• 1 1/2 c. salsa (I ended up using 2 c. for the doubled recipe and it was great)
• 1 15 oz. can black beans
• 1 1/2 c. frozen or canned corn
• 3 green onions
• 1 tsp. cumin
• 1 tsp. chili powder
• cayenne pepper or Tobasco to taste
• salt and pepper to taste
• olive oil
• Shredded cheese
• Chopped cilantro for garnish (which I forgot…)

1. Cook rice according to package directions. I ended up not putting in all of the rice I cooked for the double batch. As it was I had some filling left over (which is great, because we can freeze it or use it for tacos or something). SO, you could maybe go with 3/4 of a cup and see how that goes.

2. Whilte the rice cooks (you’ll have plenty of time to do everything else while the rice cooks for 45 minutes, FYI) prepare the peppers: slice in half length-wise and remove seeds and ribs. It looks nice if the stems are still attached, but obviously those don’t get eaten. You may want to wear gloves for this if you’re using poblanos (especially if you’re wearing contacts you’ll have to take out later!). This is my general rule of thumb for every pepper that isn’t a bell pepper, after burning my eyeballs far too many times.

Place skin side down, drizzle with olive oil, flip (so skin side up) and drizzle again. Put them under a broiler for 6-7 minutes (until they start to char a bit). Flip so they are skin side down and broil for another 6-7 minutes. Remove from oven.

3. While the peppers are broiling… chop onions, drain and rinse the black beans.

4. Place onions, black beans, corn (I went with frozen), seasonings (all seasonings to taste — go nuts if you like things spicier) in a large microwaveable bowl (especially if corn is frozen. If it’s thawed/canned, you might be good at room temp).

5. If the rice has been cooked and has cooled, add rice first, then heat in microwave. Otherwise, heat the mixture to warm (1-3 minutes), then add your cooked rice, along with a handful of cheese just to stick it all together a bit.

I split my mixture and used a regular Mexican blend of cheeses for the vegetarian ones and used Daiya vegan cheese for the vegan ones. (If you haven’t tried this cheese yet, vegan or not, you must!)

6. Place peppers back on baking sheet and fill with rice/bean mixture. My peppers were all oddly shaped so I had to get a little creative with this and pile it up and tuck it in crevices.

7. Top with a bit of shredded cheese (any kind you’re using) and place back under the broiler for 1-2 minutes, until the cheese melts and begins to brown a bit.

8. Top with sour cream (regular or Tofutti) and sprinkle with a bit of chopped cilantro if you have it or salsa.

This was easy to make, took less than an hour and was a crowd pleaser. I’ll definitely be making this again!

Refried Beans

My good friend Jay made this recipe and said they are crazy good and she’ll never buy refried beans again — that’s what I call a glowing review. I haven’t made them yet, but I had to share. It’s a Mark Bittman recipe, if you know who he is (he knows how to cook everything and tells us so). I have black beans in the cupboard, so I might have to whip up a batch of black refried beans, yes?

• 2 cans pinto beans rinsed
• 2 Tbsp. butter
• 1/4 c. chopped onion
• 2 tsp. cumin (or to taste)
• 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper (or to taste)
• salt and pepper

From Jay:
1. Melt butter in a frying pan, add beans.  Mush using a potato masher, fork or the back of your spoon until you get the consistency you like.

2. Add onion, cumin, cayenne and salt and pepper.  Continue stirring until the onions are a little tender.  I added a little water to thin it up a bit since it was hard to stir.

3. Eat!  I ate mine with salsa, sourcream and tortilla chips.  No more canned refried beans ever again, these are way good…  I bet you could add garlic or really anything else you want.


My Twist on Vegan Chilaquiles

Chilaquiles. Ever heard of them? I hadn’t until I saw someone make some on The Food Network a few years ago. Then my friend Tara did a guest post here on her version in 2008, but I never made them. This week I came across a recipe in a magazine, but didn’t really read it… So I decided to make some anyway today — or at least something that resembles them!

To my knowledge, chilaquiles involve chips, sauciness and cheese, you bake it and dig in. It wasn’t until after I popped mine in the oven that I poked around online to discover that calling what I made chilaquiles might be a bit of a stretch, but I’m going to call it that anyway!

Here’s what I did — and keep in mind I was working with things I already had on hand (like frying some tortillas, because I was lacking the amount of chips I would use). So, feel free to substitute just about anything for anything. 🙂 I think next time I might add some veggies to the sauce too.

• 1/4 bag tortilla chips (more would be ideal, but this is what I had…)
•  8 corn tortillas, cut into small strips/chunks and lightly fried in oil
• 1 lg. (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
• 1 pkg. Trader Joe’s vegan, gluten-free chorizo
• 1/2 medium red onion, diced
• 1/2 to 1 tsp. each: cumin, salt, pepper, nutmeg, cayenne pepper
• 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
• olive oil for cooking
• Trader Joys alternative soy cheese, mozzarella flavor, grated
• Things for Garnish: tomato, onion, spices, lettuce, avocado, sour cream, hot sauce

1. Cut soy chorizo out of plastic casing and cook in a bit of olive oil with garlic and onion.

2. When it starts to stick to the pan and the onions are soft, add can of crushed tomatoes. I started with half of the can, but it was really thick and I wanted it to be saucier, so I tossed in the whole thing. It was perfect.

3. I added spices to taste — a little salt and pepper, about 1 tsp. cumin (maybe a bit more) and several dashes each of nutmeg and cayenne pepper.

4. I let this cook for a bit while I heated the oven to 400 degrees. Meanwhile, I chopped up several corn tortillas and quickly fried them in some oil. They were just semi crispy, but that worked for me. I think this recipe would have worked just the same if they had not been fried or if I had made a layer of whole tortillas.

5. Using an 8×8 glass dish, I put all my blue corn tortillas chips in the bottom, put a thick layer of chorizo sauce, then a layer of the fried tortilla pieces, a thin layer of the sauce and topped with grated cheese. If you’re not going vegan, here’s where you can water down some sour cream and pour it over the top too (according to those recipes I discovered after the fact).

6. I let it bake for about 20 minutes or so, until the cheese looked sufficiently melty.

7. While it was baking I made a bit of a salsa fresca —  chopping up a bit more red onion and fresh tomatoes, adding a little salt, pepper and cumin to the mixture. I topped my portion with some of the salsa fresca and served it with chopped romaine and sliced avocado. You could top with sour cream or Tofutti sour cream to serve too.

This is one of the most flavorful things I have come up with in a long time! I really loved it and would definitely make it for a brunch for 5-6 people. It was just a little bit spicy, but leaving out the cayenne would help with that if you don’t do spice.

I’m happy to have discovered this vegan chorizo too — I think it would be excellent in chili or would be a perfect taco filling as is.

Frontera Grill’s Enchilada Sauce

During my time in Chicago, I ate several times at Frontera Grill, owned by famed Chef Rick Bayliss (who also owns the more upscale Topolobampo next door). I’ve been meaning to whip up some kind of enchiladas, but it just hasn’t happened yet. I saw this green enchilada sauce from Frontera at the store recently and, when I came home late and hungry today, I decided to go with it.

I can’t find a photo of the pouch of sauce online (and didn’t take one), but I bought it at Meijer in the normal “taco section” so it should be easy enough to find.

The instructions say to fill some tortillas with cheese , pour the sauce over them, sprinkle with more cheese and bake. Though this sauce isn’t vegan, I decided to veganize the rest of it and throw some tofu and veggies into the mix. Here’s what I did:

1. Thinly slice any veggies you like (I went with the simple onion and red pepper) as well as half a package of savory baked tofu (two squares). I sauteed this in a little olive oil with some cumin, coriander and salt.

2. Heat up 5 corn tortillas in the microwave wrapped in plastic wrap for about 30 seconds, or in a skillet briefly.

3. Divide veggies and tofu into the tortillas,  add cheese (I went with both kinds of Daiya vegan cheese), and roll each enchilada up, placing them seam-side down in an oven-safe dish. I went with an 8×8 glass pan and five enchiladas fit perfectly.

4. Pour sauce over top of rolled enchiladas and top with more cheese. Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes or until everything is heated through/sufficiently melty.

This was even better than I thought it would be and took about 10 minutes to make. Then I cleaned up the cutting board and one pan I used during the 15 minutes it was baking, so now I can sit on my couch and veg (no pun intended). Obviously you could do this with any type of enchilada sauce (and I probably will), but I’ll definitely be on the look-out for Frontera’s sauces again.