Veggie-chili recipe

This recipe has been a huge hit with my family and they ask for it every week.


150 grams (or to taste) dry textured soy
1/2 a package of chorizoy (soy based chorizo)
2 large containers (cans or boxes) of vegetable juice (V-8 or similar)
6 cans of red or chili beans
4 large, soft tomatoes
1 large onion
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon pepper
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 hot peppers, diced
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp cilantro

Combine the canned beans and veggie juice. Turn on the burner, so it warms up as you’re adding ingredients. Add the soy proteins. Mix well. Cut the ends off the tomatoes and onions. Drop in blender or food processor and turn into juice / finely minced veggies. Add to pot. Add seasonings, including peppers, (these can be varied to taste). Simmer on high heat until the pot’s about to boil over, then reduce to low and simmer 45 minutes to an hour. If the beans have cooked down too much, add more. Serve with light sour cream or a sprinkle of low-fat shredded cheese.


Sunday Recipe

Since my daughter became a pescatarian and a picky eater, I’m constantly inventing recipes that will tempt her. Here’s one of my successes.


1 box of tofu (soft or firm, doesn’t matter)
2 packages of light panela cheese (or any firm, white, low-fat cheese will do)
1 carton of cottage cheese
1 tin/jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce
1 big bag of grated low-fat, skim mozzarella cheese (about a pound)
1 package of lasagna pasta
1 lb of mushrooms (fresh, tinned or frozen, whatever you have)
garlic powder
olive oil
balsamic vinegar

If you want to microwave this, as I do because I don’t have a working oven, precook half the box of pasta so it’s softened, but don’t cook it to shreds. That’s about five minutes in a pot of boiling water. You need 18 pieces of lasagna to do three layers in a big pan, so count them to be sure you have enough as you put them in the pot. Otherwise, you can use “no precook needed” pasta, layer it dry, and do it in the conventional oven. If you can’t find the “no precook needed” type in your local market , then you’ll still need to precook even if you have a proper oven.

Put tofu, cottage cheese and one pack of panela cheese in the blender. Season with garlic, salt, pepper, balsamic vinegar and dash of olive oil. Blend. This should yield the yummy creamy cheese filling. Set aside. Cube up the other package of cheese, set aside. Drain and prepare your mushrooms as well; those steps will vary according to what sort of mushrooms you’re using. Set aside.

Layer your lasagna pasta (dry or soft, depending on how you’re finishing the dish) in the bottom of the pan. In my pan, it takes six pieces to cover. Pour your creamy cheese mix in first. Spread it out. Cover in cheese cubes and mushrooms, remembering to split 1/3 in each layer. Then pour some of your spaghetti sauce over it; then spread it out. Not too much as you don’t want it all to be runny. Finally add a thin layer of mozzarella. Repeat all steps twice more, until you’ve used all your pasta, cubed cheese, mushrooms, and mozzarella. You will likely have pasta sauce left over. This can be saved for another dish.

You can microwave this lasagna just fine. It takes seven minutes in mine and tastes delicious. In a conventional oven, it would be 15-20 minutes at the common baking temp (350 F, 180 C), just enough to heat through and melt the cheese.

Serve with green salad, dressed with olive oil & balsamic vinegar.

Let me know if anyone tries this! It was a big hit in our house today. It’s already gone.

A foodie blog

This entry may be of interest to anyone who (a) likes food, (b) eats, or (c) is always looking for a good recipe. This particular meal is great for vegetarian friends, and it doesn’t take all day to prepare.

I was talking to my husband the other night over dinner, and we got to chatting about comfort food for some reason–for me, that’s meatloaf and homemade macaroni and cheese. I got curious, so I asked Andres, “What was your comfort food growing up?”

He answered: picadillo (ground beef cooked with tomatoes and miscellaneous veggies, similar to goulash) and queso guisado (which translates to cheese casserole). I had no idea what that was, so he tried to describe the dish (challenging since he hadn’t eaten it in like twenty years. His mom doesn’t cook much these days). At any rate, it apparently has tomatoes, peppers and panela cheese. “This cheese is mild, white, and crumbly. Like Queso Blanco it will not run when heated–it will get soft and creamy but will not lose its shape.”

Good to know, thought I. After dinner last night, I went to Google for guidance. To my dismay, there was little in English, so I shifted to recipes in Spanish. Andres had offered to ask his mother how she made it years ago, but I’m something of a kitchen pioneer and I love to invent my own recipes (assuming I can’t find one online). I did manage to find one basic recipe in Spanish, but it was astonishingly unhelpful. To whit: “Take seven big tomatoes, put them in a pot with 10 pesos worth of fat peppers, add some oil and cook until the liquid does something or other…” What is 10 pesos worth of fat peppers anyway? Wouldn’t it depend on how long ago the recipe was written? And for that matter, what’s a “big” tomato? I found some tomatoes I thought were big, and seven of them would’ve made enough queso guisado to feed an army.

I decided there was no help for it — I would have to invent my own recipe. I had some basic idea what I needed, so I went to the farmer’s market yesterday and bought the tomatoes and fresh peppers. I had other ingredients already on hand. So without further ado, here is my recipe:

Queso Guisado

13.5 ounces / 380 grams of premixed salsa (your choice of heat)
3 large tomatoes (they were 4-5 inches across), well diced
1/2 white onion, chopped
1 poblano pepper, chopped fine
1 sweet red pepper, chopped
1 sweet yellow pepper, chopped
drizzle of extra virgin olive oil (maybe 3 tablespoons if you’re the measuring sort)
Garlic powder, sweet paprika, paprika / cayenne pepper, paprika / chipotle, salt and pepper to taste. (I can’t give measurements because individual spice preferences are going to vary.)
Up to two scant handfuls of raw brown sugar
1 pkg of panela cheese

In a saucepan, mix the salsa and all your chopped / diced veggies. Don’t be shy about the mixing. It’s going to boil down into a lovely sauce. Then add your seasonings to taste and drizzle your olive oil atop the lot. Let it cook down for a good 15 minutes on medium heat, keeping a close watch on it. You don’t want it to burn, so you’ll be stirring every five minutes and checking up on it. Now give it a taste. See if it needs more of anything.

You’ll also be assessing the acidity of your tomatoes at this point. That’s what the sugar’s for — not to sweeten the whole dish, but merely to knock the edge off the acidity. If you’ve got lovely sweet tomatoes, you won’t need much sugar at all. So you’ll swirl that brown sugar in until it the dish tastes spicy, but mellow. Once you’re satisfied with the way it’s seasoned, cook it another 10-15 minutes on low. That will turn your veggies a delicious sauce. If the people in your household are funny about chunks, you can run it through your blender to get a uniform texture.

At this point, you cut the panela cheese into cubes and drop it into sauce. Let it simmer on low for about 10 minutes, allowing the cheese to soften and warm, take on some of the other flavors. Don’t worry about the cheese melting away to nothing.

And that’s it! You have a tasty, wonderful vegetarian dish. This can be served with rice; I imagine it would do well with couscous too! It also goes nicely with beans, as shown here. This is our actual dinner from tonight: arroz a la mexicana to the left, queso guisado to the right, and frijoles blancos down below. Enjoy! And if you try it out, do let me know.