Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Fajit-as with no Meat-as!

Last Thursday night I was at a loss of what to make.  Usually, I am terrible at coming up with a spontaneous recipe (unlike my husband who is a pantry and leftover genius!).  I am a planner, and have a very difficult time not using a recipe or at least having a meal in mind.  It was after 6:00 and nothing had come to me yet.  I did have a red bell pepper intended for another recipe, but since I used up the broccoli in the mac ‘n’ cheese I couldn’t make the “creamy broccoli and rice casserole”, so the red pepper was fair game.  What to do with the red bell pepper?  Ah-hah!  Fajitas!  So I started chopping:

1 red bell pepper
½ container of baby bella mushrooms (approx. 4oz)
1 onion
2 zucchinis (a great versatile veggie to keep on-hand)
2 cloves garlic

I cut the veggies into longer strips, taking care to cut out the seeds in the pepper and the zucchini (I feel like the seeded portion of zucchinis can get too mushy).  The garlic was minced.  I don’t wash my mushrooms; I just rub off any dirt with a paper towel.  Leaving them dry helps them to soak up all of the flavors of the sauce and veggies that you are cooking with (I learned this at a cooking class last summer!). Oh, and I read this tip in a book at some point (possibly Veganomicon?):

Become a mouth breather when chopping onions and you will never shed another tear! 

I feel like I have super-sensitive eyes, especially to fumes.  I don’t just cry when chopping onions, I bawl and my nose starts dripping like a faucet.  Needless to say I was highly suspicious of this “tip”.  I am happy to report that I’ve done it twice now and it totally works!  But you really have to concentrate when mouth-breathing.  The slightest inhalation through your nose and you’ll notice those eyes start watering!
Jason however was disappointed with my astonishing news; he really wanted to buy me onions goggles.

Let’s get back to the recipe.  I put a little oil (1 tablespoon olive oil, I think) in a hot frying pan and started to sauté the garlic with a few shakes of ground cumin.  After a minute or so I dumped in the veggies with a cup of water mixed with a teaspoon of Vegetable Better Than Bouillon.  The moisture helps you cut back on the amount of oil you need to cook, plus the veggie bouillon adds some flavor and intensity.  I also added a few drizzles of tamari (it’s like soy sauce, except vegan and less salty).  This all sautéd/cooked for about 5-7 minutes with frequent stirring.

While this was happening I threw a can of black beans with half of a can of Rotel (diced tomatoes and green chiles), salt, pepper, and some more ground cumin in a sauce pan.  I also had some white and brown rice cooking in the rice cooker.

Everything came together fairly quickly and easily.  Thankfully we had leftover whole-wheat tortillas in the fridge.  So here’s what dinner looked like:

It was pretty yummy!  The veggie flavor was wonderful and the cumin, tamari and Better than Bouillon added some nice depth.  Mushrooms are amazing, they have a great earthiness that adds so much to meatless recipes (this coming from a girl that almost started crying when Jason put an entire can of mushrooms in spaghetti sauce a few years back).  Here’s a run down of all of the ingredients used for Thursday night’s dinner:

Veggie Fajitas
1 red bell pepper
4oz. baby bella mushrooms
1 onion
2 zucchinis
2 cloves garlic
1 tsp ground cumin
1 Tbsp oil
1 cup water
1 tsp Vegetable Better Than Bouillon
1-2 Tbsp Tamari
Salt and pepper to taste
Whole-wheat tortillas

Beans and Rice
1 can black beans
½ can Rotel diced tomatoes and green chiles
½ tsp ground cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
¾ cup brown rice
¾ cup white rice
1 ½ cups water

We were possibly expecting my brother to drop by for dinner, but since he couldn’t make it we had a lot of leftover fajita fixin’s.  They’re the fajitas that just keep on keepin’ on!  Let me explain.  Since Thursday night’s dinner shared with Jason, I have had fajitas, beans and rice for lunch on Friday, a Chipotle-style burrito with rice, beans and fajita filling on Saturday for lunch, more fajitas, beans and rice for lunch on Monday, and it looks like it will be my dinner tonight as well (in nacho form?).  My pride and joy, however, was Sunday breakfast.  I was actually creative with leftovers (again, a trait that my husband possesses, but I sadly do not).

I chopped up some leftover fajita veggies with a sundried tomato and tossed this into a lightly sprayed frying pan.

 I next added a ton of torn spinach leaves.

 As you can see, they cook down quite a bit.

Next, I added an egg (gasp!) scrambled with some almond milk. 

 I occasionally, like once a month, eat an egg.  I’ll admit I was slightly hung-over that morning (I’m just old, not a drunk, I swear) and there’s just something about a big greasy breakfast that sounds appealing.  So I’m a-okay with eggs in moderation (again like once or twice a month) and as long as they are mixed with mountains of veggies.  The egg acts as a veggie vehicle if you will; it’s no longer the main player in my breakfasts.

The one egg isn’t even enough for a true omelet since I have so many veggies in there, it just becomes a sort of veggie scramble.  I want to try a tofu scramble sometime, but never seem to have tofu just lying around when I need it. 

This was my Sunday morning breakfast; coffee, glass of water, veggie scramble, some fried hash brown, and half of an English muffin with lingonberry jam.  Lingonberries are a tart Scandinavian berry similar to a cranberry but smaller.  They have even more antioxidants than blueberries or cranberries, so stock up the next time you visit IKEA or your local Scandinavian store.

So that is the tale of the veggie fajitas.  And I think this might be a new record for me...5 days in a row using of leftovers!

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