Tex-Mex Casserole Without Cheese?

Do you think it would be impossible to make a casserole, a Tex-Mex Casserole without cheese? Well, let me show you how I did it for this recipe.

This dish can be totally vegan by replacing the meat with an additional can of beans. I like to mix a couple (or more) of different beans together. 

I chose corn tortillas to keep the recipe wheat-free (aka gluten-free).

And guess what? If you have someone that just loves cheese, they can top their serving with the cheese of their choice (...even vegan cheese :-)

Alternative to cheese, but creamy?  Add avocado, guacamole or this cashew cilantro cream sauce.  



Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn
  • 1 15 oz can of diced tomatoes (or 2 cups freshly diced)
  • 1 15 oz can of pinto beans (or 2 cups home-cooked), rinsed
  • 1 lb ground beef or turkey (optional) - or an additional can of any beans you like
  • 1/4 bell pepper (any color)
  • 1 small onion
  • Frontera Ground Beef Skillet Taco Sauce or you may substitute 8 ounces of your favorite salsa
  • 1 15 oz can (2 cups) of enchilada sauce (or see homemade recipe below)
  • 1 TBS tapioca, potato starch, gluten free flour or cornstarch (organic/Non-GMO please)
  • 6 corn tortillas (or flour)
Directions:
  1. Cook onions and bell pepper.  If using ground meat add at this step too.
  2. Add other ingredients except for the enchilada sauce and tortillas, mix together.
  3. Lightly oil a 9 x 13 casserole dish. 
  4. Tear (or cut) the 2 tortillas into smaller sizes and place on the bottom of the dish.
  5. Layer 1/3 of the filling over the tortillas.
  6. Try to repeat steps 4 and 5 twice, but it doesn't have to be that structured.
  7. Mix the enchilada sauce and thickener of choice together and pour over the casserole.
  8. Bake at 350 for about 20  - 30 minutes, until bubbly and sauce has thickened.

Homemade Enchilada Sauce Ingredients:
  • 1 cup broth
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 1 TB red wine vinegar (really almost any vinegar can be substituted here)
  • 1 cup tomato sauce (or 2 Roma tomatoes)
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1/2 tsp oregano (or even Italian herb spices)
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1 - 2 TBS chili powder (or TACO Seasoning works well too)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 - 2 slices of jalapenos for added flavor

Directions: Place all ingredients into blender and blend well. You can add the  TBS of thickener (called for in main recipe) at this point for easy mix-in.

Coconut Milk Rice and Veggie Soup

I needed a quick meal and this is what I came up with. It's a one-dish meal that's easy to prepare. See notes below for optional add-ins and suggestions.

Ingredients:
  • 1/2 head of cauliflower, chopped and broken into small bits
  • 1/2 cup frozen collard greens
  • 1/4 medium onion
  • 1/2 small green bellpepper
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 1 1/2 cups of cooked rice (I used Basmati rice)
  • 1/2 cup of frozen peas
  • Suggested seasonings: onion powder, garlic powder, dash of cumin, salt and pepper (to taste)
  • cashew cilantro cream sauce (optional)
Directions:
  1. Add cauliflower, onion, bell pepper and garlic to a pot.
  2. Saute using a bit of coconut oil or steam saute (using a bit of the coconut milk) until onions become translucent
  3. Add all of the coconut milk and continue to cook vegetables until they are well-cooked. (I cooked in my Instant Pot for 5 minutes, 4 would have been enough.)
  4. Add cooked rice, frozen peas, cashew cilantro cream sauce (if using) and other seasonings to your desired taste.
Notes:
  • I think next time I will add some mushrooms and perhaps a bit of wild rice too. Some celery might be a good addition too...and lentils/chickpeas (my favorites).
  • It's a whole, plant-based dish that is easily adaptable to accommodate everyone in the family.  In my family, vegetable dishes are the main meal and meats are side items.


Cashew Cilantro Cream Sauce

I had just bought a new bunch of cilantro and I removed all the stalks and leaves that were loose because I didn't want them to go "bad" at the bottom of the jar. (This is how I keep my herbs fresh in the fridge.) So I was left with a bunch that I wanted to use up in a hurry. I decided to make an alternative to the cheese topping for the variety of plant-based tacos that I eat very often - so I searched the internet looking for a cilantro sauce. This was the first to appear. I found it at The Baking Fairy's website (see below), but here is my recipe. I think next time I will definitely try fresh garlic (1/2 to 1 clove) and fresh onions (1/8 inch slice), yet this recipe is still a good one.

Ingredients:
  • 1 cup soaked cashews
  • 1/4 cup cashew milk (or any unsweetened nut milk, I used almond milk)
  • 1/4 cup or more of cilantro (packed tightly)
  • 1/4 cup of lime juice
  • 1/2 jalapeno (I only had jalapeno juice from my homemade pickled jalapeno peppers)
  • 3/8 - 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 3/8 - 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 3/8 - 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • a little pepper is also a nice addition
Directions:
  1. Add all ingredients except for the nut milk to a blender and blend.
  2. Add nut milk as needed until you get to your desired consistency.


The original recipe for this sauce was found at https://www.thebakingfairy.net/2017/05/sofritas-tacos-cashew-cream/.


Blue Berry Muffins with Reduced Calories, Increased Fiber & More Nutrients

This recipe is for Blueberry Muffins using only whole, plant-based (WFPB) ingredients . I hope you will try this recipe. I'm also including the nutrient comparison for your reference (see below). Happy Baking!

Ingredients:
⅔ cup unsweetened plant-based milk
Whole Plant-Based Recipe
1 tablespoon ground flaxseeds
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2 cups whole-wheat pastry flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
½ cup pure maple syrup
1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup fresh/frozen berries



For detailed baking instructions:  Go to Forks Over Knives Website

So, if you want to lower calories, increase fiber and add more nutrients to your diet - you could choose this muffin over the traditional way of making blueberry muffins.

Here is a traditional list of ingredients for making blueberry muffins using eggs, milk, butter:
Traditional Recipe
1/2 cup butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups white sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups fresh/frozen blueberries

Comparison Facts:
  • 1/3 of the calories of the traditional recipe
  • the carbohydrate load is also lower
  • fiber has been increased
  • sugars are 1/2 of the traditional recipe

Buddha Bowl using Leftovers

I think I have been creating these all along prior to the term "Buddha Bowl" becoming popular. This is my second "go to" option when trying to determine what to eat next. My first is plant-based Tex-Mex meals. (I live in Texas y'all!)

The Buddha Bowl I prepared today uses quinoa as the base! I love quinoa for so many reasons and healthy ones too. It's gluten-free and high in protein (a concern for some when embarking on a plant-based eating plan). I had roasted sweet potatoes using my favorite recipe. I had a bunch of colorful Swiss chard that I needed to prepare and hummus (which I practically keep on hand at all times). So I threw all of these "leftovers" together and created a very satisfying lunch.

Preparation Notes:


Quinoa
pre-soak 1 - 2 hours for better nutrient absorption

Sweet Potatoes
Diced and seasoned with cumin, turmeric, salt, paprika, chili powder, garlic (sprinkled on as you like). Toss with a little coconut oil (barely oil them) and bake 350 - 400 degrees Farenheit

Swiss Chard
Saute green onions and bell peppers in water until soft. Add tomatoes and Swiss chard until wilted. Squeeze fresh lemon juice on top

Hummus
Seasonings: cumin, lemon juice, tahini, roasted red peppers, salt/pepper and sometimes olives

Hey, here are some ingredient ideas for a Tex-Mex Budha Bowl too!
  • Mexican "brown" rice
  • Black or pinto beans
  • Fresh spinach, kale or romaine lettuces
  • Roasted corn
  • Salsa or Pico de gallo
  • Lemon/Lime Juice
  • Avocado (or guacamole)
  • Cilantro
  • Green onions
  • Not-so cheese

Eggplant and Tomato Pasta Marinara Sauce

This was really yummy. The texture of the eggplant mixed with diced tomatoes was right on target in this marinara sauce. I made the sauce in my InstantPot (love that appliance).

I cut the eggplant into cubes and just added it to the pot along with tomatoes and other seasonings and voila! I was done...

...except for the cooking of the pasta. Sometimes I cook the pasta in the Instant Pot too, but lately I seem to have trouble with getting perfect pasta ...and my guess is that it's probably because I was cooking gluten-free pasta. I think the better outcome has been with wheat pasta. (If anyone has any helpful hints on cooking gluten-free pasta in the InstantPot, please let me know. Thanks in advance.)

Back to the sauce..I cooked the eggplant until it was mushy. I liked it best this way because it was easy to combine with the tomatoes. The mixture of these two vegetables are superb. Yet, I call this a marinara because it's very light vs. being more dense and doesn't have any tomato paste which would make the sauce thicker.

This recipe makes about 2 - 3 servings. You can easily double it.

Ingredients:
1 small eggplant
1 small can of diced tomatoes
1/2 cup diced onions
1/8 cup of chopped bell peppers (your choice)
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 to 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp or so of dried herbs (basil, oregano, Italian herb mix,

spinach to stir into pot after cooking or directly onto the plate (I prefer fresh)

Instant Pot Directions:
  1. Put all ingredients into the inner pot.
  2. Press manual, then adjust settings to 6 minutes.
  3. Allow natural release (if you have enough time to wait)
  4. Adjust seasonings
  5. Stir in spinach (optional)
Stove-Top Directions:
  1. Cook onion and garlic on low heat until soft. I prefer using water to steam the vegetables, so that I don't have to add oils to cook with.
  2. Add eggplant and a little salt to help soften, then cook about 5 minutes while stirring frequently.
  3. Add diced tomatoes and remaining seasonings. Cook, covered over low heat until everything is very soft and (I prefer) mushy. Make sure your pan isn't too high and use a small burner so the sauce doesn't burn. This step may take about 10 more minutes. 
  4. Adjust seasonings
  5. Stir in spinach (optional).
Note: That is a corn-based pasta in the photo. Gluten free pastas that contain corn seem to cook the best.


Sweet Potato Coconut Milk Curry

I prepared this in my InstantPot. But I'm sure a pot on the stove top will work just as well. This was quick and easy. The perfect warm and satisfying meal for the cold night on which I prepared it. (Note: this recipe was based on a recipe I saw at Pinch of Yum, but I added a few things.)

Ingredients:
  • 4 green onions (about 1/3 cup), chopped
  • 1 jalapeƱo, minced (add depending on the spice level you want)
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 cup garbanzo/chickpeas, cooked
  • 1 14-ounce can fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 14-ounce can coconut milk
  • 2/3 cup water for InstantPot or up to 1 1/2 if on stove top
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon curry
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 - 1/2 cup chopped peanuts
  • 2 x 2 strip of Kombu for added minerals
After cooked:
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1-2 cups kale, stems removed, chopped (or any other dark leafy greens: collards, chard)
  • 1 - 2 tsp miso paste (for added flavor)
Directions:
  1. Place all ingredients in InstantPot and cook for 10 minutes or add to a pot on the stove top and cook until potatoes are tender.
  2. Add the "after cooked" ingredients. If using InstantPot, after quick or natural release.