Dairy-free Queso

I cannot in the least take credit for this recipe. When it comes to homemade, vegan cheese alternatives, I am still very much in the learning stage. But, as I explore the dairy-free world, I’m always happy to find a good recipe. And maybe before too long I’ll be adept enough to create my own dairy-free “cheese” recipes.

I made a batch of this cashew queso recipe, with two notable alterations: I did not add the miso because I didn’t have it on hand and I added a 1/2 tsp of chipotle chile powder for a smoky undertone. Additionally, I made sure to include the optional nutritional yeast. While the recipe is a little labor intensive, I felt like it was worth the effort. Plus the queso keeps and re-heats well. (Note: if you do use the miso, check to make sure it is gluten-free if you need that. As I understand it, not all miso is gluten-free.)

Cashew Queso Nachos

For a quick weeknight meal I made nachos (something we rarely eat, but certainly enjoy) by topping tortilla chips with a spiced pepper, onion, and bean mixture and some queso. I broiled it all for a couple of minutes and then added some guacamole (makes any Mexican dish tastier!) and green onions. It was delicious!

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Vegetarian Enchiladas

In our quest for new vegetarian main dishes, my creativity is being pushed into high gear. Very frequently I turn to Alissa Segersten’s two cookbooks, The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook and Nourishing Meals. Every recipe I’ve tried has been delicious. A plus for me is that the recipes are gluten-free, dairy-free, and some are also egg-free. (If you have a chance to peruse her cookbooks through the library, I’d strongly suggest you do. There are plenty of non-vegetarian recipes in there as well.)

Last night I tried my hand at making vegetarian enchiladas from Nourishing Meals. I did make several changes to the recipe, but the essence of it doesn’t belong to me. I love enchiladas and these were delicious! The made-from-scratch enchilada sauce is incredibly tasty and not too labor intensive. While topping them with cheese would be amazing, we just went the route of guacamole (my husband is sensitive to dairy, so we in general avoid it).

Vegetarian Enchiladas

VEGETARIAN ENCHILADAS
(adapted from Nourishing Meals by Alissa Segersten)
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Sauce:
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
1 jalapeno, chopped
1 small bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 Tbsp cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 c. water
2 c. tomato sauce or diced tomatoes
1/4 c. arrowroot powder or cornstarch

Enchiladas:
12 to 16 corn tortillas (I used only 12)
2 c. cooked mashed sweet potatoes (feel free to spice these with your favorite Mexican spices)
3 c. cooked black beans
2 c. baby spinach leaves

Guacamole for topping

Preheat oven to 400° F. Grease 9 x 13 glass baking dish.

To make the enchilada sauce, heat a 3-quart saucepan over medium heat. Add the oil, onion, jalapeno, and bell pepper; saute for 7 minutes, or until softened. Add the garlic, spices, and salt; saute a few minutes more. Then add the water and tomato sauce or diced tomatoes. Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes. Pour sauce into a blender, add arrowroot power or cornstarch; blend until smooth.

To make the enchiladas, first be sure to heat up each tortilla so they are pliable for filling and rolling. Lightly grease a hot skillet; heat each tortilla for about 10 seconds on each side. You can fill one enchilada while the next tortilla is heating. Add a few small spoonfuls of mashed sweet potato, then beans, and finally a small handful of spinach leaves. Roll tightly and place the filled tortilla seam-side down in the greased baking dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas, pushing the filled enchiladas closely together. Once the pan is filled, top with the sauce. Cover and bake for 30-35 minutes. Garnish with guacamole.

International Cuisine: Chipotle Mexican Meatballs

The other evening I had a flash of inspiration and wondered why there are Italian meatballs and Swedish meatballs and Greek meatballs, but no Mexican meatballs. So, I set out to make Mexican meatballs spiced with the smokey flavor of chipotle chile powder.

Not too spicy, with definite Mexican flavor, I wrapped these little meatballs in a soft corn tortilla, nestled on a bed of sautéed peppers and onions, topped with a bit of cheese, tomatoes, and guacamole. I call these Fajita Meatball Tacos (or something like that!).

CHIPOTLE MEXICAN MEATBALLS
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1 lb ground beef
1 small onion, finely chopped
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp dried cilantro flakes
1/2-3/4 tsp chipotle chile powder
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
splash of milk

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Mix all of the ingredients together and thoroughly work the spices into the meat (you may need to use freshly washed hands to do this).

Scoop 1-inch meatballs (or your preferred meatball size) onto a foil lined baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, or until cooked through.

Make into tacos or taco salad.