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Spinach and Sweet Potato Tacos

Tacos

Spinach and Sweet Potato Tacos

I hadn’t planned on making anything festive for Cinco de Mayo, but when I got home from work, I had an extreme hankering for Mexican fare and mango margaritas. Have I mentioned how much I love Williams-Sonoma’s margarita mixes? They come in pineapple, lemon-lime, and mango. I’ve been making mine with added frozen fruit like strawberries, pineapple and peaches, and blending to creamy consistency. My taco idea turned out great, and since there is no added cheese or sour cream, these are a pretty healthy and satisfying meal.

Spinach and Sweet Potato Tacos:

Ingredients:

  • 1 sweet potato, baked (I poked holes in mine and threw it in the microwave for about seven or eight minutes)
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 big handfuls of spinach
  • 1 15 oz can fat free vegetarian refried beans, warmed
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 6 corn or flour tortillas, taco size
  • Salsa (I used my favorite, Newman’s Own Pineapple Salsa)

Directions:

Heat about 1/4 cup of water on medium in a large frying pan on stove top. Add chopped onion and sauté for about five minutes, or until onion is translucent. Add spinach, stir, and sauté another two minutes. Scoop sweet potato out of its skin, chop into 1-inch cubes, and add to spinach and onion. Add cumin, chili powder, and garlic powder, and stir again. Heat another pan on medium-low, and place one tortilla flat in the middle of the pan. Scoop a layer of refried beans down the center, then top with spinach-sweet-potato-onion mixture. Fold over one side of the tortilla to make a taco, and heat for 2 – 3 minutes on each side, flipping with a spatula. Transfer taco to a plate and top with salsa. This recipe yields six tacos.

My Big Fat Vegan Asheville Vacation

I just spent a wonderful Valentine’s Day weekend trip with my boo.  We decided to go on a pseudo-staycation, so I wouldn’t have to take time off work. We picked Asheville, NC because of its status as hippie-crunchy mecca of the East Coast, and because we haven’t been to Asheville since the Biltmore Estate field trips of our elementary school days. It was only a four hour drive from Raleigh, but in hindsight, we should have stayed two nights instead of just one.

On Saturday afternoon, we toured the magnificent Biltmore Estate and later attended the Asheville Symphony’s Romeo and Juliet. Both highly recommended, but what had me on cloud nine was the city’s culinary delights. We ended up eating so much, we’re still full two days later.

Saturday night, we dined at Mela, an Indian restaurant on North Lexington Avenue. Mela is an omni restaurant with a heavy vegetarian and vegan selection. I ordered a salad of spinach, mango, beets, candied walnuts, and jicama, along with a raspberry and coconut milk martini, just for starters(!) The salad totally outshined my entree, the aloo gobi masala, which was a wee bit too spicy for my tastes.

Vegan Chocolate Cake

Vegan Chocolate Cake at French Broad Chocolate Lounge

For dessert, we headed to French Broad Chocolate Lounge, an all-natural gourmet chocolate bar featuring decadent truffles, cakes, cookies, and mousses. I ordered a slice of the vegan chocolate cake, made with Theros olive oil, rich cocoa powder, and agave nectar. I also got an individual “Buddha” vegan truffle made with dark chocolate and coconut milk. I practically inhaled them both.

Tofu Benedictine

Tofu Benedictine at Laughing Seed Cafe

The next morning, with martini and chocolate hangovers, we went to the Laughing Seed Cafe for the organic Sunday brunch. With a completely vegetarian menu, Laughing Seed was right up my alley. I ordered the “Tofu Benedictine,” a spin on my old favorite, eggs benedict. My plate was piled high with “scratch-made biscuit, grilled organic tofu, grilled tomato, sautéed spinach, and seitan sausage over grits with herb oil and béarnaise.” Breakfast was so delicious, I finished my meal and wanted to actually lick the plate clean.

truffles

Vegan Buddha Truffles collection at French Broad

So after brunch, we decided to walk around town. Somehow, the French Broad Chocolate Lounge seemed to pull us back in, and we ended up in line for brunch dessert… which is not really a thing people do. But I managed to down yet another piece of that decadent, moist, vegan chocolate cake, and purchase a six-pack of vegan truffles for later consumption. The cashier kindly asked me if I would like a bow for the truffle box, but I pointed to my stomach and said they were going straight in there. “Word,” she said.

After a day of sight-seeing around downtown (two fantastic stores are Malaprop’s Bookstore and Blitzkrieg Games), we headed to Wasabi sushi for an early dinner before heading home. All I can say is Holy Cow they have Tempura Sweet Potato sushi rolls. My boo and I agreed it was one of the best sushi meals we’ve ever had.

sushi

Avocado and Tempura Sweet Potato Rolls at Wasabi

I have to say, I am left feeling pretty disappointed after this trip. Not in Asheville of couse, which was like a vegan’s dream world. I’m disappointed that Raleigh is so much larger and more populated, and yet we have only a fraction of the cool eateries and local, sustainable ideology Asheville seems to have. Maybe I’m just bitter, but here in Raleigh it’s like you have to hunt for a nutritious, local, vegan meal. Yes, we have Irregardless and we have Remedy, and I love those restaurants. But in Asheville, we couldn’t walk down the street without finding yet another place overflowing with vegetarian food. In any case, Asheville just became my second favorite foodie vacation spot (I think Western Mass will always be number one for me).

Luscious Vegan Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Vegan Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Saturday, I went to a Christmas party at my boyfriend’s parents’ house. His mom, Sherry, made a fantastic vegan pineapple upside down cake based on a recipe she found on VegWeb (recipe by user BayPuppy.) The cake was so good, everyone was raving about it. It was moist, held its shape very well, and it made a beautiful centerpiece to the buffet.

The recipe calls for pineapple chunks and does not call for maraschino cherries, but I think the whole pineapple slices and cherries add great color and texture to the cake.

Thanks for the delicious meal, Sherry!

Here is the recipe reposted from VegWeb:

Ingredients (use vegan versions):

  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (20 ounce) can pineapple chunks in unsweetened pineapple juice
  • 1/3 cup oil
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup unpacked brown sugar

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt. Pour juice off can of pineapple into 1 cup measuring cup-it should be about 3/4 cup juice. Add water to make 1 cup. In a separate bowl, combine the pineapple juice, oil, and vinegar.

2. Dump pineapple chunks into the bottom of a 12″ spring form pan (you could use an 8″ x 8″ or other sized spring form, just adjust cooking time). Sprinkle with brown sugar.

3. Quickly mix wet ingredients into dry, stirring quickly to combine ingredients well and get out the big lumps.  Pour into pan on top of the pineapple/brown sugar mix.

4. Bake for 25 to 35 minutes, or until golden on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (Baking time will depend on pan size) Let cool and loosen sides of cake from pan. Remove side ring and place serving plate on top. Flip cake over onto serving plate and remove pan bottom.

Eat. Yumm.

Source of recipe: This is a modification of Jeanne’s White Cake recipe I found here under Wedding Recipes.  This cake turned out well so I thought I would share!  This makes a pretty sweet, moist cake.  You can replace the juice with just water if you are concerned about it being “too sweet”.

Makes: 8 to 12 servings, Preparation time: 10 minutes, Cooking time: 25 to 30 minutes

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