Archive for the ‘Ethnic cuisine’ Category

Crispy Chiimichangas with black bean filling

Crispy Chiimichangas with black bean filling

I had never made chimichangas before but I liked the sound of them: yummy rice, beans, corn rolled up into a crispy tortilla and served with guacamole and salsa. They are not hard to make. This version is vegan and because they are baked in a hot oven instead of fried in oil, they have less fat. Even though baked, not fried, they still turned out crispy and delicious.


1 15 oz. can of black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup brown rice, cooked
¼ cup black olives, sliced
½ cup corn kernels – frozen works well
2 tbsp. green chilies (you can buy these canned)
¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves or ½ tbsp.. dried cilantro
½ tsp. chili powder
½ tsp. cumin
Salt & pepper (to taste)
5 or 6 whole wheat taco size tortillas

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

  1. Mix together all ingredients except tortillas.
  2. Scoop about 2/3 cup of filling into the first tortilla. Fold the ends over and roll up the tortilla. Repeat with remaining tortillas.
  3. Spray a cookie sheet with nonstick spray.
  4. Place chimichangas on the cookie sheet, seam side down. Brush with olive oil.
  5. Bake at 450 degrees for 5 minutes. Remove from oven, turn tortillas over and brush other side with olive oil. Return to oven for another 5 minutes. Should be crispy and light brown.
  6. Serve with guacamole and salsa.

Serves 2 to 3 people, depending on appetites.

Chimichangas with fresh cilantro and avocado slices

Chimichangas with fresh cilantro and avocado slices


* This is week 4 of my “quest” to make a vegan recipe from every state in the U.S. during 2015.



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Crock pot of Borscht

Crock pot of Borscht

What type of foods do they eat in Alaska? I would guess they eat a lot of hot soup because it’s cold. When I researched info about Alaskan cuisine online, Borscht came up several times. Makes sense because Alaska is only separated from Russia by a narrow body of water, and Russians and East Europeans, including the Polish, favor this dish.

Borscht is a hearty, nourishing hot soup. It contains a powerhouse of healthy ingredients. I found several recipes online and created a version for the crock pot. It turned out great. I highly recommend this savory soup for a cold winter evening.


2 medium Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and grated
1/3 head of green cabbage, chopped
1 6 oz. can tomato paste
1 cup (about ½ can) white beans, drained & rinsed
1 cup canned beets, cut into bite-sized pieces
32 oz. container of low-sodium vegetable broth
3 cups water
1 tbsp. chopped dill
1 tsp. onion powder
2 bay leaves
Salt & pepper

  1. Place all ingredients except canned beans and beets into crock pot. Stir to mix them together. Set to low heat and cover. Crock for about 5-6 hours.
  2. About 20 minutes before serving, add the white beans and beets.
  3. Serve. Delicious with a veggie Reuben sandwich!
    Makes enough soup for about six or seven people.
Hot bowl of Borscht and a veggie Reuben sandwich

Hot bowl of Borscht and a veggie Reuben sandwich

* This is week 3 of my “quest” to make a vegan recipe from every state in the U.S. during 2015. Since there are 50 states and 52 weeks, the first week is a Native American recipe and the last week will be a holiday recipe. Inspiration for my quest came from Chris Guillebeau and his recent book The Happiness of Pursuit. Check them out!

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Fricasse de Seitan

Fricasse de Seitan

Recently I discovered a new dish – Cuban Fricase de Pollo. It is an ideal Sunday dinner dish because it takes a bit more time and effort to make than you might want to spend on a weeknight and it also provides great leftovers for a lunch or two during the week. And it is absolutely delicious and 100% worth the effort. The mixture of sweet and savory in this dish make every forkful a treat. Nutritious too. I substitute seitan for the chicken, and it works superb. Here is my vegan version of this oh so tasty Cuban dish:

Cuban Fricase de Seitan (Cuban-style stew)

¼ cup lime juice
¼ cup orange juice
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 8 oz. package of seitan strips
1 green pepper, thinly sliced (stem and seeds removed)
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
2/3 cup white wine
1/3 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
2 yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1” pieces (peel optional)
1/3 cup pimento-stuffed green olives
2 tbsp. capers plus 1 tsp. caper juice from jar
¼ cup raisins
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
1 tsp. Hungarian paprika
1 tsp. dried parsley
1 tsp. cilantro
Salt & pepper
Extra virgin olive oil

Fricasse de Seitan with white rice

Awesome Cuban stew. Works well with white rice.

1) Mix together the lime juice, orange juice, garlic and ground black pepper. Add the seitan strips. Let sit in marinade for about 30 minutes.
2) Meanwhile, sauté the onion in olive oil in a deep skillet on medium high heat for about 5 minutes. Add the green pepper and sauté another 5-10 minutes.
3) Remove pepper and onion from skillet. Add diced potatoes and more olive oil. Stir fry about 10 minutes until potatoes are fork tender. Add the seitan and stir fry with the potatoes a few minutes. Add more oil if, needed. Add in all of the remaining marinade.
4) Then add all of the remaining ingredients and stir together, including the pepper and onion and all spices. Add a little water if needed. Bring to a quick boil, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer about 10 minutes so flavors can meld together.
5) Traditionally served with white rice.

Makes four main-dish servings.

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It’s easy to make a delicious and hearty meat-free bolognese sauce. In celebration of national nutrition month, try this healthy sauce with your favorite pasta.

Meat free spaghetti bolognese

Meat free spaghetti bolognese

Easy Meat-free Spaghetti Bolognese    

6 oz. Lightlife Smart Ground original (1/2 of a 12 oz. package)
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
½ green pepper, chopped
½ cup sliced mushrooms
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. dried basil (or 1/2 cup chopped fresh)
1 tsp. dried parsley
1 tsp. dried oregano
¼ tsp. red pepper flakes
¼ tsp. ground pepper
1 24 oz. jar your favorite marinara sauce
Olive oil

1)      Add 1 or 2 tbsp. olive oil to  deep saucepan on medium-high heat. Add chopped onions and sauté about 7 minutes. Then add green pepper and sauté about another 5 minutes. Veggies should be tender. Stir in all spices.

2)      Add mushrooms and sauté about 5 minutes.

3)      Add minced garlic and stir in. Add smart ground and sauté an additional 5 minutes or so.

4)      Pour in marinara sauce. Bring to a quick boil , then reduce heat to simmer and simmer about 10 minutes.

5)      Serve over your favorite pasta. I used half-whole wheat/half regular spaghetti.

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If you love Asian take-out, but have trouble finding a vegetarian or healthier version, you’ll love this veg version of beef and broccoli. So good, you may find yourself craving it weekly – and that’s without any added MSG. So why phone for take-out when you can make such an awesome dish at home?

Mock Beef and Broccoli

Mock Beef and Broccoli

Mock Beef and Broccoli

16 Gardein brand mock beef tenders, cut in half
2 heads of broccoli, broken into florets
½ of a red pepper, cut into thin strips
½ cup of chopped bok choy (optional)
½ of a sweet onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
3 tbsp. canola oil
2 tbsp. soy sauce


1/3 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
¼ cup soy sauce
3 tbsp. sirachi sauce (or to taste)
½ tsp. sesame oil

1)    In large wok on medium-high heat, add canola oil and 2 tbsp. soy sauce. Add chopped onion and sauté about 5 minutes.

2)    Add the broccoli and sauté another 6-7 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3)    Add the bok choy and red pepper and sauté another 5 minutes or so.

4)    Add the minced garlic. Saute veggies until tender.

5)    Add the mock beef tenders and sauté a couple minutes more.

6)    Mix the sauce ingredients together in a separate bowl. Pour over the stir fry in the wok and stir together.

7)    Serve with brown rice. Yum!

Serves Two.

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Last weekend I went to a fabulous hole in the wall restaurant in Virginia Beach called the Mayflower Cafe. It features Turkish/Mediterranean food. My mom, who is a picky eater, and both of my nieces, who can be picky at times also, were really happy with their meals. I ordered eggplant stewed with tomatoes served with rice pilaf. I had some leftovers and decided to make a lentil dish to go with them. In keeping with the Turkish theme, I looked up some different recipes and put together my version of Turkish lentils.  Turned out great.

Turkish Lentils and Carrots

Turkish Lentils and Carrots

Turkish Lentils with Carrots

1 cup of lentils (I used green lentils)
3  cups water or low sodium veggie broth
1 medium yellow onion, sliced thin
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
3/4 cup chopped kale (optional)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. paprika
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
¼ tsp. black pepper
Low sodium salt, to taste
Olive oil

1)      Put lentils and water or broth in a medium-sized kettle. Bring to a boil, immediately reduce heat and simmer covered for about 25-30 minutes (until lentils are tender but not mushy).

2)      Meanwhile, add a couple of tbsp. of olive oil to a deep, large skillet. Add sliced onion and carrots (and kale, if you decide to add it) and sauté until onion is nicely caramelized  and carrot is tender– about 15 minutes.

3)      Add minced garlic and spices and sauté a few minutes.

4)      When lentils are done, drain any excess liquid and add them to the skillet. Stir everything together and cook another 5 minutes or so to marry the flavors.

Makes 4 or 5 good sized servings. Serve as a main dish with quinoa or brown rice. Spinach, kale or other greens served alongside the lentils and rice makes for a delicious and healthy meal. A little garlic naan rounds it all out.

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Enchiladas from a Mexican restaurant can’t compare with these homemade enchiladas. They come out of the oven ooey gooey, but much lower in fat and salt than the restaurant version. And they are also packed with nutritious beans, lycopene-rich tomato sauce and spices. My mom has made this casserole for special occasions for years, and now I’m making it too. Try it once and it might become part of your family’s traditions too.

Mom's Homemade Bean Enchiladas

Mom's Homemade Bean Enchiladas

Mom’s Homemade Bean Enchiladas

2 cans refried beans OR 2 cans pinto beans (mashed)
1 medium onion chopped
2 tsp. Chile powder
1/4 cup grated low-fat cheddar (or Mexican blend) cheese or daiya vegan cheddar
12 flour or whole wheat large tortillas
1/2 lb. grated low-fat cheddar (or Mexican blend) cheese or daiya vegan cheddar

2 cups tomato sauce (two 8 oz. cans)
2 cups water
4 tsp. dried minced onions
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp. Chile powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

1) Mix the first four ingredients together.

2) Simmer sauce ingredients together.

3) Spoon bean mixture into tortilla shell, add tsp. of sauce, and sprinkle with cheese.

4) Roll tortilla and place each in long baking dish. Pour remaining sauce over rolled tortillas. Sprinkle with remaining grated cheese.

5) Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. Serve with chopped tomatoes, lettuce, sour cream, sliced avocado, black olives and/or salsa.

Serves 5 or 6.

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Everyone needs at least a few go-to casserole recipes. A casserole is a whole meal in one dish. It’s the perfect dish to make when you want to prepare something ahead of time to free you to be with your guests. Make it the night before and then bake it right before everyone comes over. Or, of course, you can make a casserole when someone you love needs a meal. Perfect drop-off food for couples with a new baby, new neighbors, or when you want to make a busy friend’s day. Casserole and comfort food are synoymous.

Spaghetti Casserole

Spaghetti Casserole

This spaghetti casserole is super yummy and fairly easy and inexpensive to make. I have made it three times in the last month.

Spaghetti Casserole

1 pound dried spaghetti (most boxes are 1 pound)(you can use brown rice spaghetti if following a gluten free diet) – cooked according to package directions

1 jar of your favorite tomato-based pasta sauce (about 25 oz.)

1 small can of tomato sauce (about 6 oz.)

1 medium-sized yellow onion, chopped

½ green pepper, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

6 – 8 button or cremini mushrooms, chopped or sliced

2/3 cup ground veggie burger

1 tsp. each of basil, oregano, crushed red pepper and parsley

Optional: layer in a small sprinkling of reduced fat mozzarella cheese or daiya Vegan mozzarella cheese between each layer and sprinkle cheese on top, if desired. You won’t miss the cheese though if you leave it out. I’d even go so far as to say, it’s better without the cheese

Olive oil

1)    In large sauce pan, heat 1 or 2 tbsp. of olive oil on medium-high heat. Add chopped onion and sauté about 8 minutes, until tender.

2)    Add chopped green pepper and sauté another 5 minutes. Add veggie burger and stir in with the onion and pepper. Saute a minute or two.

3)    Add garlic and sauté a minute more. Then add mushrooms and sauté a couple of additional minutes. Add more olive oil, as needed.

4)    Pour in tomato sauce and pasta sauce. Add all spices. Stir and simmer about 10 minutes.

5)    Grease a large, deep casserole dish with olive oil. Ladle enough sauce into the bottom of the dish to cover the bottom. Add a layer of spaghetti, and then another layer of sauce.

6)    Repeat layering 3 or 4 times until you have used all of your ingredients.

7)    Cover with foil and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 20 minutes.

Serves 6-8 people. Reheat leftovers in microwave. Makes good leftovers.

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Are you tired of the same old sandwich for lunch? Or spending more than you would like at a lunch place near your office? Here’s an easy idea to spice up your lunch routine. Whips up in less than 5 minutes.

Ingredients for Lunchbox Enchilada

Lunchbox Enchilda

1 small tortilla (I use whole wheat)
2/3 cup of vegetarian refried beans
1/3 cup of low-fat cheddar or other Mexican style cheese (or Vegan cheese)
1 cup of your favorite salsa

1) Place tortilla flat on a plate. Add the refried beans on one side of the tortilla. Add a sprinkling of the cheese. Fold up the tortilla, tucking in the edges.
2) Place the enchilada you just made in a container you can take to work. Pour the salsa over it and then sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.
3) When you are ready to eat lunch, put it in the microwave for about 2 ½ minutes or until cheese melts.

Lunch for one.

Lunchbox Enchilada

Lunchbox Enchilada

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Did you know that authentic Greek salad does not contain lettuce as an ingredient? I did not know this until last week.

Greek Salad

Authentic Greek Salad

While on vacation in the Outer Banks, my friend Eleni (who is from Greece) created a Greek feast for our group. Her menu included:

  • Homemade Spanikopita
  • Pastichio (she made the traditional casserole, but made a mini version that substituted spinach for the meat for the three vegetarians in our group – it was delicious!)
  • Homemade bread (seriously)
  • Greek Salad

I helped with the cooking and Eleni assigned me to cut up vegetables for the Greek salad. She informed me that the real deal does not have lettuce as an ingredient. Seriously. But it was truly delicious, and a great accompaniment to the pasta.

Authentic Greek Salad

3 or 4 tomatoes, chopped into wedges
1 English cucumber, cut into slices
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2/3 cup of pitted calamata olives
1 large handful of fresh parsley leaves
About ½ cup of reduced fat feta cheese, broken into small pieces
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil (add more or less to your taste)
¼ cup balsamic vinegar (add more or less to your taste)
Salt & pepper to taste

1)    Prepare vegetables and add to a large bowl.

2)    Mix in the feta cheese, olives and parsley.

3)    In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Pour onto the salad and mix well.

Makes enough salad (as a side salad) for about 6 people.

Life is good at the beach
Friends at the Beach (Eleni is in the middle)

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