Posts Tagged ‘cooking’

Tex-Mex Tempeh Tacos

I went to Bookmans to look for an instructional guide to playing the piano and walked out with that and a couple cookbooks, including this gem:

This book is perfect for this blog! The recipes are super simple and are designed for students, so you make no more than 4 servings in any given recipe.  Most recipes also say how long each dish can last in the refrigerator. This is truly a great book, and for $7, all the better.

The first recipe to really stand out was Tex-Mex Tempeh Tacos. I love tacos and have eaten tempeh many times, but have never cooked with it. Time to try something new!

Bookmans is conveniently located next to a Sprouts. I bought the ingredients I thought I needed, but didn’t realize I was short on olive oil and lemon juice, so I ended up using about 2 tablespoons of sesame oil I had left over from my tofu lettuce wraps.



3 tablespoons lemon or lime juice

2 tablespoons salsa

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon mild chili powder

1 teaspoon ground cumin

Splash of Tabasco


6 ounces multigrain tempeh, cut into 1/4 to 1/2 inch cubes (I ended up using the full 8 oz package)

4 regular size (6 inch) corn or whole wheat flour tortillas

1 small tomato, sliced

2 to 4 lettuce leaves, shredded

“Here tempeh is combined with the forceful flavors of Mexico to make dazzling tacos. For something extra, add chopped fresh cilantro, sliced scallions, pitted sliced black olives, or slices of avocado. Top it all with tofu sour cream.”

Where can you find tempeh? You’ll have to go to a specialty store like Sprouts, Whole Foods or Sunflower Market. You can substitute tempeh for the pre-made vegetarian taco “meat” if you’d like.

I decided to supplement my tacos with avocado, corn and regular ol’ sour cream. That’s the only non-vegan item in this recipe, and I only added it as a topping at the end. There are plenty of recipes of vegan sour cream online, like this one.


1. Add the marinade ingredients to a shallow bowl and stir to combine.

2. Add the tempeh to the marinade and gently stir to coat the pieces. Marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes, turning the tempeh from time to time.

In the meantime, prepare your toppings. I know chopping vegetables doesn’t take that long, but it helps the marinade time go faster, especially when you’re hungry.

3. For this step, using a spatula makes things a lot easier. In a medium skillet on medium-high heat, sizzle tempeh for 30 seconds. Reduce the heat to low and cook, covered, for 3 minutes. Flip the tempeh and cook, uncovered on medium heat for 3 to 4 more minutes, until the tempeh is browned. Set aside.

The browned tempeh.

4. The book suggests heating the tortillas in a dry skillet, but I didn’t want to get another dish dirty, so I microwaved two tortillas for about 20 seconds.

5. Serve and refrigerate any leftovers. The book says “cooked tempeh will keep for several days in the refrigerator.”

I don’t think these will last more than one day in the refrigerator because they were so delicious. This will either be my dinner or lunch tomorrow. This meal was very easy to make. It had a prep time of 15 minutes plus a marinade time of 30 minutes and made 4 tacos. I’d highly recommend it! It was completely vegan friendly if you don’t count the sour cream I added at the end. Cooking with tempeh was super easy, I’m amazed at how fast it was ready.


Cashew Vegetable Korma

My last post really put me in the mood for some more vegan cooking, so I googled Isa Chandra Moskowitz, remembering that she has a cooking website somewhere. I was also hoping to find some of her top recipes. I had a slight facepalm moment because Post Punk Kitchen was already bookmarked in my browser…that’s right, my writer friend from Chicago, Amanda Tague, had told me about it a good three or so years ago.

I decided to make Cashew Vegetable Korma for my dad’s birthday.  He’s a fan of chicken korma, and the rest of the family was planning on eating meatloaf and mashed potatoes. While I realize Indian food and meatloaf don’t exactly go hand in hand, I didn’t want to be stuck eating nothing but mashed potatoes for dinner.

I halved Moskowitz’s original recipe, which serves 16+ and still have more leftovers than I know what to do with.

I found everything but the garam masala at a local grocery store. According to Moskowitz, the tamarind can be bought at Whole Foods or an Indian market. I had no luck at Sprout’s, so I opted to use a lime instead.

You can tone down the heat of this recipe by adding coconut milk and stewed tomatoes. I’m the only person who likes spicy food in my family, so I used a whole can of coconut milk. If you’re going for a medium/hot curry, use half a can.



For the cream:

1 cup raw cashew pieces (plus water for soaking)

2 cup vegetable broth


Veggies to boil:

1.75 pounds yukon gold potatoes (large chunks)

1 lb cauliflower in large florettes (don’t cut them too small, or they will fall apart)

1 lb carrots



1 medium yellow onion

1 inch nub of ginger

4 cloves garlic

1 tsp red pepper flakes


Everything else:

1.5 tsp peanut oil

.5 T coriander

1 tsp red pepper flakes

.5 T curry powder

1 tsp garam masala

Fresh black pepper

1 tsp salt

Lime or .5 T tamarind concentrate

1 T tomato paste

2 cups vegetable broth

1 can coconut milk

1 cup frozen peas

1 large caramelized onion


1. Submerge the cashews in water and soak for at least an hour. The softer they are for your puree, the better. Set aside.

2. Slice the potatoes, cauliflower and carrots. Moskowitz suggests cutting the potatoes in 1.5 inch pieces and 1/2 inch carrot chunks.  Upon completion, I thought the carrot pieces were way too big.

4. Place the veggies in a large pot, she says 8 quarts is ideal. Cover them with cold water.

Cover the pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower heat to a simmer for about 15 minutes. Potatoes should be fork tender. Don’t be alarmed if the cauliflower looks a little brown. Drain and set aside.

In the meantime…

5. Puree the onion, ginger and garlic in a food processor. It shouldn’t be completely smooth, some texture is good.

No need to wash the processor bowl yet, you’re going to puree the cashews in a bit.

6. Cook the puree in 1.5 tsp peanut oil with a sprinkle of salt for about 15-20 minutes until it’s nice and browned. It will start to clump together and spit at you a little.

7. And now, the big test and most difficult part of this recipe: the cashew puree. Drain them and place them in the food processor along with two cups vegetable broth. Puree until smooth. This can take up to five minutes to get it as smooth as possible.

I really hope your food processor is larger than mine, because this was a bit of a juggling act. I don’t have any pictures of this because most of my time was spent running back and forth, trying to get an even mix and clean up the mess.

8. I didn’t time this out like Moskowitz. Don’t get too close to your dish or else you’ll start coughing since you’re using all those spices. My puree was really starting to dry out, so I wanted to hurry up and get to the vegetable broth/cashew cream step stat.

Once the puree is browned (or you’re sufficiently frustrated with your cashews), add the coriander seed, red pepper flakes and saute for about three minutes.

9. Add curry powder, garam masala, several dashes fresh black pepper and salt, and saute for another minute.

10. Add tamarind/lime (I squeezed the entire thing), tomato paste and vegetable broth and bring to a simmer.

11. Now add the cashew cream and your desired amount of coconut milk.

Remember, the amount of coconut milk dictates how spicy your dish will be. If you want spicy korma, feel free to go easy on the coconut milk and add some more red pepper flakes.

Let cook uncovered for about 15 minutes.

That’s starting to look like curry, all right.

12. While the sauce is cooking, saute the red onion in a separate pan in a little peanut oil with a pinch of salt for about 15 minutes until it is browned and slightly caramelized. This adds a really nice sweetness and some texture to the finished dish.

13. Add the peas to the sauce. Fold in the boiled veggies, put the lid on the pot and let it heat through. Taste for salt and seasoning and serve garnished with cilantro if you’d like.

That’s it! Goes great with naan and/or basmati rice.

Isa Moskowitz is an inspiration. The next time I go to the bookstore, I plan on looking for some of her cookbooks so I can check out some more of her recipes. The korma turned out really well, although it took about an hour to make.

I would have no problem going vegan if I could eat delicious food like this all the time. Who knows, some day it may happen.

Simple Seven Layer Dip

I did a Google search for “vegetarian seven layer dip” and found this recipe. I wasn’t too crazy about the lettuce or cooking the beans and the salsa together, so I went my own way. This is Melissa Fossum’s veggie-tastic dip, made just in time for Taco Tuesday.


16 oz container sour cream

1 package taco seasoning

2 16 oz cans vegetarian refried beans (or 1 32 oz can, whatever floats your boat)

16 oz jar salsa

1/2 cup green onions, chopped

1 large tomato, copped

4 avocados, diced

2 cups shredded cheese

4 oz can sliced black olives

Bag of tortilla chips.

1. Mix the sour cream and taco seasoning in a separate container. Mix well, because lots of taco seasoning gathered in the corners of my container. Refrigerate when done.

2. Dice the tomatoes, avocados and green onions.

Mash the avocados in a separate container.

3. Make a layer of beans in a 11 x 13 inch pan. Spread the beans evenly.

4. Empty the entire jar of salsa on top of the beans.

5. The next layer is the sour cream/taco seasoning mixture. Smooth it out to another layer.

6. The next layer is cheese. I purchased a bag of Mexican cheese which was an even 2 cups, that worked out nicely.

7. Put the avocados on top. The recipe I was losely following asked for two avocados, this did not work out very well, this is why I think four is ideal. So much for presentation.

Fortunately, one of my friends isn’t the biggest avocado fan, so this worked out.

8. Olives! Woo…there’s an end in sight, this pan’s looking a little full.

9. Top it off with green onions.

10. Bring the dish to hungry friends who have tacos, cupcakes and wine.

The dish was a hit! It was a nice compliment to the other Taco Tuesday festivities.