Sunday, January 16, 2011

Samosa Stuffed Baked Potatoes

I LOVE samosas! If you've never had them, samosas are little fried triangles filled with a mixture of potato, peas, and delicious spices. One of my delicious delicious guilty pleasures is the samosa soup at Burma Superstar . Seriously, if you're in San Francisco you need to find this place and order the samosa soup! I know it might sound weird, but I think the basic recipe is that they take the leftover samosas from the day before, cut them into bite size pieces and mix it with the most amazingly delicious broth ever created. Someday I'll have to work out my own recipe for samosa soup, but for now I can usually satisfy my craving for the flavors of a samosa with this dish. I've been making this unique take on a twice baked potato a lot lately. They reheat very well, especially if after microwaving you take the extra couple of minutes it takes to put it under the broiler until the top is browned again. Oh, and to give credit where it is due, I got this recipe from Veganomicon, one of the best vegan cookbooks ever. I've added a couple things and changed the amounts a bit, but the basic recipe is from there.

Start by baking 4 large russet potatoes. Scrub them and poke them with a fork then cook for about an hour at 400 degrees. I often will do this in the morning while I'm getting ready for work, then just leave them on the counter all day until I get home. That way, when I get back in the evening they are cooked, cooled and all ready to go. Cut each potato in half and scoop out the insides into a bowl. Try not to puncture the skin while you do this.

Mash the potato insides with 1/4 cup of unsweetened soymilk and set aside. Then gather all the other ingredients:

1 tsp. mustard seeds
1 tsp. coriander seeds
1 large onion, diced
4 medium carrots, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup frozen peas
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/2 cup vegan plain soy yogurt
canola oil spray

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Heat a skillet and spray with cooking spray. Add the mustard and coriander seeds and cook over medium heat until the seeds begin to pop. Cover the pan and let them pop away for about a minute, then add the carrots and onions. Saute about 10 minutes until the carrots are tender, then add the ginger and garlic and cook for another minute or two. Add the cumin, turmeric, splash of water. Stir to combine and to get all the bits stuck to the bottom of the pan, then add the potatoes. Continue cooking while stirring until the potatoes are heated through. Add the peas, lemon juice and yogurt and stir to combine.

Take each potato half and fill it with 1/8 of the potato filling. I like to really pack it in there to fill each half, then take what's left and pile it up on top. Spray the outside of the skin with a little canola oil and put each half on a baking sheet. Cook for about 20 minutes, then move the potatoes you plan to eat tonight into the broiler for about 5 minutes. The tops should get just the slightest bit brown and crunchy. These potatoes are one of my total obsessions right now and I love that this dish gives enough for leftovers for days. Yum, I'm so happy I can eat one again tomorrow!

Nutrition Facts: Serving = 2 potato halves. 412 calories; 3.4 g fat (0.2 sat); 0 mg cholesterol; 165 mg sodium; 82.3 g carbohydrate; 11.6 g fiber; 8.4 g sugar; 14.2 g protein; 382% vitamin A; 88% vitamin C; 9% calcium; 24% iron

Maggie Mudd Vegan Birthday Cake

Living in San Francisco, I have the privilege of having access to some of the most amazing vegan restaurants anywhere. I keep meaning to begin adding posts to this blog about fantastic restaurant meals I've had the opportunity to eat. I promise to bring my camera to restaurants more often in the future, but I'm starting with this easy one since it was delivered to my door!

It was J's birthday a few weeks ago (30! Woot woot!) and I thought he deserved an extra special dessert. When I first arrived in San Francisco, my colleagues surprised me with a vegan ice cream cake (who knew there was such a thing!?) at work that I remember being incredible. I searched out the restaurant in advance of J's b-day and found that not only does the amazing Maggie Mudd make vegan ice cream cakes, they make them in every flavor imaginable!! Seriously, you can choose from several different base layers and then choose either one or two ice cream flavors to add on top. Amazing! We went with a vegan brownie base topped with mint Oreo cookie ice cream. J is obsessed with mint-chocolate anything and I just couldn't resist the Oreo flavor. You know Oreos are vegan, right? I love it that somehow everyone knows that Oreos are vegan.

Anyway, to view a full list of Maggie Mudd's vegan ice cream flavors, click here. Holy cow! To say I was overwhelmed is an overstatement. Everything from Mariachi Mambo (a delicious-sounding combination of light chocolate ice cream with chocolate covered almond chunks and a touch of cinnamon to Lychee Coconut, to Banana Rum Brownie to Pink Trousers (Ummmm... who ever thought of fresh strawberry and coconut ice cream with tequila in it?). I can't wait for the next special occasion so I can try out more and more and more of these flavors! Thank you Maggie Mudd.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Stuffed Jalapenos

Oh wow. It's not that frequently that I make a new dish that gets me as excited as I am right now. This is going to revolutionize my menus for a long time. Parties, football games on TV, lazy afternoons, late nights... may I introduce you to your new companion: The non-fried, vegan stuffed jalapeno popper. I found the inspiration for this recipe in one of my very old favorite cookbooks, Very Vegetarian. It's actually the first vegan cookbook I ever bought. It has some great stuff in it, but also some so-so stuff. I was flipping through it and saw a recipe which suggested stuffing jalapeno peppers with a mixture of mashed potatoes and almond meal. It sounded interesting enough to pique my interest, but also pretty boring. I decided to go for it but to make up my own recipe for the filling, still maintaining those two ingredients as the base. When I was just about ready to put these babies in the oven, I also had a thought to bread them with cornflake crumbs. Of course I stay away from frying things as much as possible, but to bread them in a crispy little coating before baking sounded like a good way to get a similar effect. I went ahead and breaded half of them and left the other half plain. Boy boy boy were these amazing. I can still taste them right now as I sit typing (and J is in the kitchen cleaning up the wreckage from the cooking storm). Yum yum yum. These take a bit of time, but they are completely worth it. These are now added to the esteemed company of Thai spring rolls, tempeh sushi, stuffed mushrooms and crispy baked egg rolls as the perfect food to serve when I have people over for pretty much any occasion. If you come to my apartment any time in the near future, you can be assured that this is what I will be serving. I just want to spread the good news!!

Gather the ingredients:
16 large jalapeno peppers
4 or so yukon gold potatoes
1/2 small onion
1 clove garlic
1 medium tomato
1/2 cup ground almonds or
almond meal
2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast
1/4 tsp. turmeric
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp marjoram
1 Tbsp. lime juice
salt to taste
1/2 or so cup corn flake crumbs
1 1/2 Tbsp. Ener-G egg replacer powder mixed with about 3-4 Tbsp. unsweetened soy milk

OK, so the first step is to take about 16 jalapenos and to boil them in salted water for about 5 minutes. These jalapenos that I bought are HUGE, so you might need more if yours are not mutant like mine were. Rinse them in cold water to cool them down and slice each one lengthwise. My tip is to definitely wear some sort of disposable gloves during this process so you don't get spicy jalapeno all over you and then touch your get the picture. Take your fingers and/or a paring knife and remove all the seeds and internal ribs from the jalapenos. Take your time and do this right otherwise your peppers will be too spicy.

Meanwhile, cube the potatoes and boil them until very tender. Drain all the water but about 1/4 cup and mash them until smooth. You need about 3/4 cup of potatoes, so if you end up with too much just feed it to your husband or something. Chop the onion and garlic and saute for just a couple of minutes, then add the tomato, almond meal, nutritional yeast, spices, lime juice, salt and mashed potatoes. Stir to combine and remove from heat. You don't want the onions to be totally cooked, just enough to take the edge off.

Put the potato mixture in a medium-sized plastic ziplock bag, squeeze out the air and seal the bag. Cut off one of the corners of the bag so you have a little piping bag to fill the peppers. This works really well and makes is super easy to fill the peppers without making a big mess. Preheat your oven to about 350 degrees and fill each pepper with potato mixture.

I got the idea late in the game to bread the peppers with cornflake crumbs. I actually love cornflake crumbs because they are much more naturally crunchy than breadcrumbs or even panko, although panko would probably do in a pinch. I decided to bread half the peppers and leave the other half plain, but after eating them I recommend breading them all. It worked perfectly! I took about 1 Tbsp. of Ener-G Egg Replacer powder and mixed it with a few Tbsp. of soymilk. I won't go into a long explanation of Ener-G because the truth is that I use it very infrequently. It's just a powder you mix with liquid to create a consistency somewhat like an egg. It works well in baked goods...but we all know I don't really bake much. I bought one box about 100 years ago and I'm still working through it. Ener-G has basically no taste, but it seems to do the trick binding breading to things...I also like to use it when making breaded eggplant. So carefully dip the pepper into a small bowl of the Ener-G stuff and then coat in cornflake crumbs. Bake in a lightly oiled baking dish for 25 minutes until everything is warmed through and the filling is kind of bubbling.

I decided to serve these with pico de gallo and cilantro. I wouldn't suggest a very spicy salsa, but I do like the acidity of the tomato, so any mild salsa would do. I also paired it with a quick salad with lots of cilantro for some light freshness. I can't tell you enough times how delicious these are. Please do not be put off by the concept of peppers filled with potatoes and almonds... the consistency ends up extremely good and the flavors are really all up to what you mix in. I think I may even add some corn kernels or other items in the future depending on my mood. These peppers take a little time to make, but are completely worth it.

Nutrition Facts: Serving=1/4 recipe or 4 peppers. 201 calories; 8.3 g fat (0.6 sat); 0 mg cholesterol; 157 mg sodium; 26.7 g carbohyrate; 5.8 g fiber; 5.9 g sugar; 8.6 g protein; 19% vitamin A; 60% vitamin C; 25 % iron

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Warm Shallot Dressing

I love to make my own salad dressings. For one, I get tired of the same old ones I buy at the store, and for two, I tend to like the homemade ones quite a bit more. Some I like to make in a big batch and save in a washed out dressing bottle I keep exactly for this purpose. (To view the recipe for a nice big batch of ridiculously good and ridiculously low fat vegan Caesar dressing, click here) Others I like to whip up at the last minute to eat right away. This recipe falls into the latter category. One batch is perfect for 2 salads. I prefer to use it on spinach, because the dressing is warm and it wilts the spinach just a little bit when you toss it. I like the wilted spinach effect but I don't think it would be the same on mixed greens or romaine or something. The beauty of this dressing is the simplicity. Open a bag of spinach, toss with the dressing and voila, you have a very elegant little salad. Toss on a couple croutons and it's practically restaurant quality. I tend to make this salad a lot when dinner is almost ready and I decide that there aren't enough veggies on the menu. Add this salad to any meal and not only will it seem more elegant, but it will get you a solid dose of vitamin A, vitamin C, iron and calcium.

The instructions are simple:

Heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil in a small sauce pan. Add one shallot, peeled and sliced into thin rounds. Cook until shallots are soft and almost translucent then add 1 tsp. dijon mustard, 1 tsp. sugar, 1/2 Tbsp. cooking sherry and 1/2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar. Keep on the heat until warmed through, then remove and drizzle immediately on spinach. Toss to coat and eat!

We had this just the other night and J raved three or four times about how yummy it was. I have to agree. I know that an entire Tbsp. of olive oil in each serving makes this dressing higher in fat than some others I would choose. While I tend to try to keep the fat content low in most of my meals, I do think it is important to incorporate some healthy fat into every meal...just keep an eye on it. For example, I love to eat avocado on my sandwiches, but if I do that means I can't also have delicious Wildwood Zesty Garlic Aioli, because both are high in fat. Likewise, this dressing is great, but only if the rest of the meal is low in fat. Which is why I love to toss on a few fat free croutons and a few grinds of black pepper and leave out any avocado, nuts, pumpkin seeds or any other delicious yet fattening salad toppings. Enjoy!

Nutrition Facts: 1 serving = 1/2 recipe of dressing and 3 cups raw baby spinach. 158 calories, 14.4 g fat (2 g sat), 0 mg cholesterol, 156 mg sodium, 8.4 g carbohydrate, 2 g fiber, 4.8 g sugar, 2.8 g protein.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Leek and Sweet Potato Gratin

A couple of days ago, I received my absolute favorite issue of Vegetarian Times each year: the January issue. I love January issues of most things because they figure everyone is on a diet now and recipes and articles tend to be health focused. Just being vegan does not automatically make you healthy. Contrary to the beliefs of many, you can be very unhealthy and get very fat as a vegan, just as you can as an omnivore. I find that many vegan recipes rely heavily on margarine, oils, fake cheese, nuts etc. All of these are fine in moderation, but not in large doses in my opinion. For this reason you will not see me whipping up big bad vegan chocolate cakes very often or dipping chips in big batches of cashew "cheese."

Anyway, in January Vegetarian times always has a lot of light, healthy recipes and I tend to like trying as many as possible. This dish, Leek and Sweet Potato Gratin, was my first new recipe of the new year and I'm very happy with the results. I did make a few adjustments to the original recipe, which are reflected below. This is a perfect side dish for a savory fall or winter meal. It would be great at Thanksgiving and ideal for entertaining. Tonight we actually paired it with a random assortment of leftovers because our poor little fridge is bursting at the seams with all the food I made over the long weekend. Not very glamorous, but practical nonetheless. First gather the ingredients:

1 Tbsp. olive oil, divided
4 medium leeks, white and light green parts
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 1/2 Tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/8-inch thick slices
1/3 cup vegetable broth
3 Tbsp. Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Begin by cutting each leek lengthwise and then slicing rather thin crescents. I find that the only way to truly get a leek clean of sand and grit is to slice it and then soak it in a bowl of water. Try to break apart the layers with your hand while the leeks float around. The dirt will sink to the bottom and you can just grab the clean leeks out with your hands.

Heat 1/2 Tbsp. of olive oil in a skillet and add leeks, garlic and 1 1/2 Tbsp. of the rosemary. Saute for about 8-10 minutes until softened and season with salt and pepper. Take a 10-inch round casserole dish and spray it with cooking spray. Arrange 1/3 of the sweet potato slices on the bottom of the dish and top with 1/2 of the leek mixture. Repeat by making a second layer of sweet potatoes topped with the remainder of the leek mixture. Cover the leeks with a final layer of sweet potatoes and drizzle the vegetable oil over everything. Cover the dish tightly with aluminum foil and bake in the over for about 35 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix the breadcrumbs with 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil and the remaining 1 Tbsp. of rosemary. I didn't actually have Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs, so I mixed in a few appropriate Italian spices with my plain breadcrumbs. It worked just fine of course. After the 35 minutes, remove the foil and sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top of the entire dish. Return to the oven for an additional 15 minutes until the breadcrumbs are golden brown.

This dish was much more flavorful than I had expected. I worried that it might be a bit bland, but the sweet and savory combination worked extremely well. J had one suggestion which I liked very much, which was to add a few toasted slivers of almond to the topping as well. A little bit of crunch to add a different texture would probably enhance the dish, and the nutty flavor of almonds would work very well with the breadcrumbs. Next time I make it, I may add some almonds as well. Yum. Thanks Vegetarian Times, we are off to a good year together.

Nutrition Facts: 1 serving = 1/4 of recipe. 170 calories; 3.8 g fat (0.6 sat); 0 mg cholesterol; 78 mg sodium; 31.9 g carbohydrate; 4.5 g dietary fiber; 10.5 g sugars; 3.5 g protein; 386% Vitamin A; 44% Vitamin c; 9% Calcium; 12 % Iron.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Favorite Food: Crispy Kale Chips

As you know, kale is one of my favorite foods. It's one of those incredible and rare situations where something that is amazingly good for you is also amazingly delicious. And it doesn't get enough attention. I bet if I sampled 20 people I know, at least half of them would have never prepared kale at home - maybe even more than half. One of my resolutions this year is to change that (I'm only half kidding)! Maybe your new year's resolution should be to eat kale once a week. I promise I'll be featuring it on this blog more often, so I'll give you plenty of ideas for how to prepare it. In fact, I just realized that my post yesterday had kale in it too! If you didn't read it, check out these delicious Potato and Kale Enchiladas.

Now kale is great in many things, soups being primary among them, but my absolute favorite way to eat it is virtually alone. You can steam it, braise it, saute it or bake it. This preparation is a lot of fun and is super easy. Give this a try the next time you are craving potato chips. Seriously. Bust out a half recipe of these and eat them when they are still hot right off the baking tray. You will forget all about those Ruffles and you will have done your body a big favor.

The recipe could not be more simple:

1 medium bunch of kale
1 Tbsp. olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat the oven to about 350 degrees. Wash the kale leaves and remove the tough stems. Pat the leaves dry and cut into large bite size pieces. Toss kale with 1 Tbsp. olive oil and mix well with your hands to distribute the oil evenly. Spread the kale leaves on a large baking tray and put it in the oven. Cook for 10 minutes, then toss with a large spatula or kitchen tongs. Cook for an additional 5 minutes or until kale is crispy and just barely turning brown. Season with salt and pepper and eat! These chips are a great side for just about any dish. This picture shows them with Smothered Cauliflower and Potatoes, but the options are limitless. To be honest, these guys almost never even make it to the table in our house - we just stand over the stove and eat them. These also taste good cold, so if you don't eat them immediately, you can save them for a little later. I don't recommend saving them until the next day though because they will lose their crunch.

The nutrition facts for this baby will blow your mind. 1 serving = half of the recipe. 159 calories; 8.2 g fat; 1.1 g saturated fat; 0 mg cholesterol; sodium varies depending on how much salt you use; 20.1 g carbohydrate; 4 g dietary fiber; 0 g sugars; 6.6 g protein. Did you get that? 6.6 g of protein in a little vegetable snack! That is MORE protein that is found in a hard boiled egg (but without the 211 mg of cholesterol mind you)! And the vitamins in a serving of this stuff? 618% of your daily recommended Vitamin A; 402% of your recommended Vitamin C; 27% of your recommended Calcium and 19% of your recommended iron. Not bad!

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Invariably Vegan Changes in 2011!

I'm still on vacation from work for one more day, so I've had extra time to think about food, to cook food, to eat food and of course to blog about food. I'm excited about some changes I'm making on the blog. While I definitely slowed down during the busy season at work, the next several months are the off season, which means I get home from work at a reasonable hour most days and therefore have the time and energy to cook dinner much much more often. Looking ahead, I'm excited to spend more time on the blog and more time developing my own recipes and trying new ones from my many cookbooks. I have a number of positive changes in mind for the coming months, and I'll be sure to let you know about them as they occur.

For starters, you can now reach this blog at! I'm still creating and hosting the site on Blogger, but it is now easier for you to remember and find! Please change your bookmarks to rather than the blogspot address. My plan is to move the site off of Blogger at some point in the near future, so save yourself the trouble now and start accessing from Yippee!

I am also finally taking some much needed steps forward in my food photography. I don't need to be told that many of the pictures up until this point have not been of the highest quality ;) I've never been a photographer and with most of my time spent on the actual food itself, the photos are often an afterthought. Well, you will be happy to learn that I am taking (baby) steps towards fixing that. I've been doing a bit of reading and a bit of playing around in iphoto...hence the somewhat better photos in the Hoppin' John and Enchilada posts. The most exciting improvement is yet to come...I finally invested in a set of lights. Because I do my cooking at night and actually eat it for dinner (as opposed to the lucky people out there who get to do this for a living and spend hours styling and photographing in daylight), my photos are taken when it is dark out and thus no natural light is available. The lights are in the mail (or perhaps have already been delivered to my office), so hopefully within several posts, the photos will look even clearer and more delicious than ever. I can't wait!

I have also decided to start posting the nutrition facts for each of the recipes at the end of the blog entry. For the most part, what sets what I cook aside from many other vegans and non-vegans alike is how healthy it is. I'm excited to show you for each recipe how low in fat, how high in fiber and how adequate in protein each of the recipes are. Also, never hurts to show off that every single recipe on this blog has 0 mg of cholesterol!

Many other exciting changes are in the works as well... so stay tuned! Now enough of this boring stuff and on with the food!

Potato and Kale Enchiladas with Homemade Chile Sauce

Enchiladas are delicious. They might be my favorite type of Mexican food, period. The problem (and probably the reason I like them so much as well) is that if you try to order vegetarian enchiladas at a restaurant, the only thing they seem to be able to replace the meat with is cheese. I've even tried to bargain with them before - I'm not picky...fill them with rice, beans, potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, onions...any old thing you have back in the kitchen! But apparently that's not possible, and because I (and my cholesterol) prefer to stay away from huge globs of greasy cheese, I never get to order the enchiladas. SO, I must make my own.

Today I made one of two enchilada recipes that we eat on a very regular basis. The other is a bean/corn etc. type of enchilada assembled as a casserole. I'll certainly blog about that one at some point, but today I made a different one that is somewhat more time consuming. I had loads of time, so it wasn't a problem. This recipe comes from one of the greatest vegan cookbooks ever written, Veganomicon. If you just buy one vegan cookbook, that's the one I recommend. The key to these enchiladas is the potato and kale filling. It's tangy and smoky and has the perfect toothsome texture I look for. The corn tortillas cook in the warm, spicy sauce until they are so tender they fall apart and the filling provides the needed backbone for the dish. Let's get started by assembling the ingredients:

For the Enchilada Chile Sauce:
1 onion, diced
3 large green chiles (anaheim or italian style)
3 tsp. chile powder
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp marjoram or oregano
2 15-oz cans of diced tomatoes (fire roasted preferred)
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp salt

For the Potato and Kale Filling:
1 pound yukon gold potatoes, diced
1 bunch kale, washed, trimmed and chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/4 cup vegetable broth
3 Tbsp. lime juice
1 1/2 tsp salt
12 corn tortillas

First start on the sauce. I actually did this several hours before I made the rest of the dish, just to give myself a head start. The first project is to roast, peel and seed the peppers. If you've never roasted peppers at home, please don't be scared. It's the easiest thing in the world and it happens to be super fun. You need to have a gas stove (which I happen to have and could never live without) or else I'm not sure how you do this exactly. Anyway, just turn on a burner or two and put the peppers right there on the grates. Keep and eye on them so you don't burn down the house, but just turn them every now and then so the outsides get equally charred everywhere. I took this picture when I was about halfway done roasting so you can see exactly what happens. When the outsides are mostly black, put the peppers in a plastic ziplock bag and wait about 10 minutes. By that time, the skins will literally peel right off the peppers easily. Cut each one open, remove the seeds and roughly chop.

Next, in a large saucepan, saute the onions for about 5 minutes until soft. Add all of the remaining sauce ingredients and bring to a simmer. Simmer the mixture for a couple of minutes, then remove from heat and set aside. Once the sauce has cooled enough, put it in a food processor and blend until smooth. It will take a while of blending to get the sauce fairly smooth, so don't rush it.

Next prepare the filling. Boil the potato cubes in water for about 20 minutes until quite tender. The original recipe said to peel them but I see no point. I love potato peels and the skins on yukon golds are so fine that you don't even notice them. Drain the potatoes and set aside. Saute the garlic in a large pot for about 1 minute, then add all of the kale with a sprinkle of salt. Mostly cover the pot and cook about 5 minutes until the kale has wilted. Remove the lid and add all remaining ingredients. Mash up the potatoes with a pastry blender until chunky, but not whole pieces. Cook the entire mixture for about 3 minutes while stirring to mix all ingredients. Now preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Now it's time to assemble. Set up a little assembly line in this order left to right: A shallow dish with about a cup of the enchilada chile sauce in it; Stack of 12 corn tortillas; empty dry skillet over medium heat; Potato-kale mixture; Baking dish with about 1/2 cup of enchilada chile sauce in it. I like to use 2 Pyrex 25 x 16 cm dishes because they are the exact perfect size for 6 enchiladas. This way we can eat one dish and save the other for the next day...or give the other dish to a friend. Go ahead and improvise though with whatever size dishes you have. Take the first tortilla and heat it about 30seconds on each side in the dry skillet. This softens up the tortilla so it's ready to bend. Coat the tortilla lightly with sauce by dipping it in the shallow dish on each side. Then place 1/12 of the potato kale mixture
in the tortilla and roll it up. Place the roll in the casserole dish and repeat until all 12 tortillas are used. Pour the remaining enchilada sauce over the rolls and cover each dish with aluminum foil. Bake the dishes for about 35 minutes and allow to cool slightly before serving. I garnished these with a few toasted pumpkin seeds for a little extra crunch. Yum.

Don't be afraid if the enchiladas fall apart a little bit during serving. The taste more than makes up for the lack of glamour. I just love the tangy, chewy flavor of this filling, and to think I'm replacing that fatty, cholesterol-ridden cheese with something as healthy as potatoes and kale! Who knew! Try this dish, and I bet it will be one of your favorites too.

Nutrition Facts: 1 serving = 2 enchiladas or 1/6 of recipe. 236 calories; 1.5 g fat; 0.1 g saturated fat; 0 mg cholesterol; 565 mg sodium; 51.8 g carbohydrate; 8.8 g dietary fiber; 8.7 g sugars; 9 g protein.

New Year's Day: Hoppin' John with Collard Greens

Happy 2011! Yesterday was New Year's Day, so what else could I possibly make other than collard greens and black eyed peas? Collards are kind of a neglected green in our house, compared to it's more popular relative, kale. We eat kale at least once if not more times every week. It's actually in the works for two dishes this week. I end up using collards much less frequently, but this dish is one of the several ways that we really enjoy them. This time of year is the best time for the dark leafy greens - they are in season and incredibly healthy. This preparation doesn't overcook the greens, leaving most of their delicious nutrients intact.

Usually, I start this dish earlier in the day or even the night before by preparing my rice and black eyed peas. Sometimes, if I'm making rice earlier in the week I'll just save out a couple of cups of it for use in this recipe later in the week. This really cuts down on prep time when you actually make this for dinner.

However you do it, start off with about 1 1/2 cups of cooked brown rice and 1 1/2 cups of cooked black eyed peas. You can buy them in the can, but I tend to think they are much too mushy that way. Trader Joe's sells them in the refrigerated section already steamed, and those are not bad. Most of the time I just cook them from dry beans, which takes a lot of time but tends to have the best results. This time, I didn't have much extra time and I found a great new item in the grocery store. These black eyed peas are by Melissa's brand (which I love) and are partially pre-cooked. Just put them in a pot of boiling water and boil for 10 minutes to cook them the rest of the way. The result is perfectly cooked, al-dente peas in a tiny fraction of the time. Nice.

Once you have your rice and peas ready, put a large pot
of salted water on to boil and assemble the rest of your ingredients:

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, divided
2 Tbsp. honey
2 tsp. olive oil, divided
1 1/2 tsp. chili powder, divided
1 tsp salt, divided
2-3 shakes liquid smoke
Hot sauce, to taste
2 large bunches of collard greens, washed and chopped
4 slices smart bacon
1 onion, chopped
3 ribs celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice
1 1/2 cups cooked black eyed peas

Whisk together 2 Tbsp. of the vinegar, honey, 1 tsp. olive oil, 1 tsp.chili powder, 1/2 tsp. salt, liquid smoke and hot sauce. I use Tapatio hot sauce for this because it's something I always have around, but you can use whatever kind you like best. Meanwhile, put the collards in the rapidly boiling salted water for 15 minutes. Drain, reserving about 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, heat the remaining 1 tsp. of olive oil and saute the smart bacon, onion, celery, garlic and remaining 1/2 tsp. chili powder. Cook everything for 5-10 minutes until tender. Add the cooked collard greens, 1/4 cup reserved cooking liquid, 2 Tbsp. vinegar and remaining 1/2 tsp salt. Cover and cook about 10 minutes until greens are tender.

Heat a separate skillet and add the rice and peas, remaining 1/4 cup cooking liquid and the vinegar/honey/spice mixture. Cook until everything is heated through and the liquid is soaked into the rice. At this point, be sure to taste both the rice/peas mixture and the collards mixture. Adjust seasonings as desired. You can serve the collards over the rice or you can mix the entire thing together.

I can't think of a better way to start the year than a delicious and healthy meal of cooked greens and beans and rice. The flavor combination of spicy, tangy, smoky and sweet makes this dish a sure winner. Let's see...maybe one of my New Year's resolutions should be to eat more collards.

Nutrition Facts: 1 serving = 1/3 of the rice and beans mixture topped with 1/3 of the collards mixture. 415 calories; 8g fat; 1.9 g saturated fat; 0 mg cholesterol; 492 mg sodium; 68.9 g carbohydrate; 14.3 g dietary fiber; 25.7 g sugars; 20.2 g protein.