Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Butternut Squash & Black Bean Enchiladas

Every other week, I get a box from Delvin Farms that looks like this:


Fortunately, I split it with the lovely Erin and her husband because that is a lot of food, and someone does not always great about eating his veggies. Late summer means peppers galore, but we also received a watermelon, cantaloupe, and butternut squash hiding under all of those peppers. This was our second butternut squash, and because I am incapable of cutting them in half without injuring myself, I got the first one and gave Erin this most recent one.

Without a particular plan for it, I roasted that squash whole, scraped out the insides, and froze the puree for a later date when I would be in a bit of a rush, like, my first day of chaplaincy residency. Switching from grad student schedule (flexible but stressful!) to camp schedule (fun and outdoors!) to free time (boring!) and now to a normal working person schedule is going to take some getting used to. After getting home from the gym after 6:30, having the squash thawed and ready to go was crucial because I was about to chew my arm off. Lesson #1: Don’t skip your snack.

I quickly whipped up the filling. Joe stuffed and rolled the enchiladas. I covered them with sauce, and we threw them in the oven, allowing us enough time to clean up before they were ready to go. We were both surprised how filling they were. Two of these with a quarter of an avocado and we were stuffed, and the cinnamon/nutmeg/cumin combo was a just-right hint of fall. I always thought enchiladas were way too time-intensive for a normal weeknight, but with some of the components pre-made or bought, it was perfect for a relatively quick dinner. 


Butternut Squash & Black Bean Enchiladas
source: The Daily Garnish
Yields 6-8 enchiladas


  • 1 large butternut squash, roasted and mashed 
  • 1 medium onion, diced 
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • salt to taste
  • 6-8 whole wheat tortillas
  • 1 large can red enchilada sauce (or homemade if you prefer)
  • 1/2 cup of shredded cheese


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Spray a medium-sized pan with olive oil and sauté the onion until translucent. Add in rinsed and drained black beans and stir until heated.

Add the black bean mixture to the squash and fold in to combine. Add spices and salt to taste.

Pour a thin layer of sauce on the bottom of a 9x13 pan to coat. Fill a tortilla with about 1 cup of mixture and loosely roll, placing the rolled tortilla seam-side down in the pan. Repeat with remaining tortillas.

Cover the rolled up enchiladas with the rest of the sauce and top with cheese.

Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Tempeh Tamale Pie


When I started to reduce my meat consumption, I didn’t immediately go to faux meat equivalents. Sure, I like a veggie hot dog now and again, but faux deli meat kind of frightens me. I also didn’t want to frighten Joe who had been turned off long ago by a girlfriend’s fake chicken riblets. Instead, we ate a lot of beans, and I gradually introduced tofu. We stuck with that plan for a good while. Then I started hearing about other options, namely tempeh and seitan, and I was intrigued so I picked some tempeh up at the store though I didn’t have any plans for it.

(browning the tempeh)

The vacuum sealed package was a little unsettling in its resemblance to the color and texture of our cats’ wet food. When I showed it to Joe, he gave me the I-don’t-like-it-but-I’m-going-to-trust-you face. When in doubt, I go with something ethnic-inspired, so Mama Pea’s tamale pie seemed like the perfect dish. Besides, she just published a book including this recipe, and I had seen it recommended on Twitter.


It was as great as promised. The tempeh and pinto bean filling had a great nutty flavor and texture. I had a bit of trouble spreading the cornbread mixture in my attempt to only use one pan. The original recipe calls for a 2 quart baking dish, but I did the whole thing in my cast iron. You can also easily make this vegan by omitting the cheese or using dairy-free cheese and sour cream. And sorry, Mama Pea, but black olives do not belong on any self-respecting Mexican casserole.


Tamale Pie
source: Peas and Thank You
Yields 4-6 servings


For the filling:

  • 1 medium onion or 1/2 of a large onion, chopped
  • One 8 oz. package tempeh, crumbled
  • 2 t. minced garlic
  • 1 t. chili powder
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 2 t. apple cider or red wine vinegar
  • 1 t. maple syrup
  • One 14 oz. can tomato sauce
  • One 15 oz. can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
For the crust:
  • 2/3 c. cornmeal
  • 1/3 c. whole wheat pastry flour
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1/2 c. non-dairy or organic milk
  • 1 T. maple syrup
  • 2 T. unsweetened applesauce
  • 1 c. frozen corn, defrosted and drained
  • 1/3 c. non-dairy (i.e. Daiya) or organic cheddar cheese (optional)
For topping:
  • sliced olives and non-dairy or organic sour cream (optional)


  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Place a large oven-proof skillet over medium high heat and spritz with cooking spray or oil. Add onion and sauté until softened and starting to brown, about 4 or 5 minutes.
  • Crumble tempeh into the pan with the sautéed onion. I like to use a grater so that all the pieces are approximately the same size.
  • Lightly brown tempeh, cooking for an additional 2 to 3 minutes.
  • To the pan, add garlic, chili powder, 1/2 t. salt, vinegar, 1 t. maple syrup, tomato sauce and beans.
  • Allow bean mixture to simmer for a few minutes to meld flavors.
  • In a medium bowl, combine cornmeal, flour, baking powder and salt.
  • In your liquid measuring cup, combine milk, maple syrup and applesauce.
  • Add wet ingredients to the cornmeal mixture and stir until just combined.
  • Gently fold in the defrosted corn.
  • Spread corn mixture carefully and evenly over the top of the casserole dish.
  • If using, top the casserole with shredded cheese.
  • Bake for 15-20 minutes, until cheese has melted and crust is set and starting to brown.
  • Serve with desired toppings.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Thin-Crust Pizza

Anyone who has been around for a while might remember the first time I tried to make pizza dough. It was an utter disaster. There was weeping and gnashing of teeth and sticky dough everywhere. I’ve always envied those people who do homemade pizza every Friday night with their own dough as if it is the easiest thing in the world. For me, pizza dough was almost always a production that involved a fair amount of angst and raised voices. If pizza was on the menu, Joe knew to steer clear of the kitchen lest my wrath towards the pizza dough be misdirected towards him. Until now.


This was the pizza night that almost didn’t happen. I made the dough 24 hours ahead of time (easily! in the food processor!), on Thursday afternoon, to give it plenty of time to rise, but when I was at the grocery store on Friday to pick up a few extras, Joe called me to tell me that he was very sick, was coming home to collapse, and probably wouldn’t be feeling up to dinner. So I had a glass of wine and wandered around the house, until at 8:30 pm, Joe announced that I could begin making the pizza. Well, the dough needed an hour to come to room temperature, and I wasn’t about to wait until 9:30 to eat. Then we had relatives in town for the rest of the weekend, so pizza wasn’t going to happen the next night. After a huge brunch, we needed something for dinner on Sunday but could actually wait for the dough to stand while we finished watching Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.


The dough! The dough rolled out perfectly without all the stickiness that I usually experience even after throwing flour at it. And look at those crust bubbles in the picture above. I have NEVER gotten crust bubbles, just like at a real pizza place. And it wasn’t soggy. I could hold a piece and not have it wilt and cause all the toppings to slide off. Even Joe remarked that our pizza night was uncharacteristically successful. He got to top his with pesto, fresh mozzarella, and Boar’s Head pepperoni, like so:


And I stuck with traditional tomato sauce, an Italian blend of cheeses, and mushrooms. We each only ate half a pizza, so there were leftovers the next day as well.


Thin-Crust Pizza Dough
source: Cook’s Illustrated as seen on Oishii Food


1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 TBS. olive oil, plus extra
1 1/3 cups  ice water
1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
2 tsp. sugar
3 cups bread flour, plus extra
Cornmeal (optional)


  • At least 24 Hours before prepare the dough. In a food processor, process the flour, sugar, and yeast until combined. With the machine running, slowly add ice water through the feed tube and process until a dough forms and no dry flour remains. Let dough stand for 10 minutes.
  • Add oil and salt and process until dough forms satiny, sticky ball – about 30 to 60 seconds. Remove dough from bowl, knead briefly on lightly oiled work area until smooth, about 1 minute. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 24 hours and up to 3 days.
  • One hour before baking the pizza, adjust the oven rack to the second highest position and place a baking stone on the rack to preheat. Preheat the oven to 500˚ degrees.
  • Remove the pizza dough from the refrigerator and divide in half. Form each half into a ball and place on a lightly oiled baking sheet, with at least 3 to 5 inches apart. Cover loosely with plastic wrap coated with cooking spray and let sit at room temperature for 1 hour.
  • Coat 1 ball of dough generously with flour, and place on a well-floured counter top. Using fingertips, gently flatten into 8-inch disk. Leave 1 inch of the outer edge a little thicker, while gently stretching the middle until you have a 12-inch round. Lay out a sheet of parchment paper and spread a handful of cornmeal on the paper (if using). Place the dough on the paper.
  • Spread sauce (tomato or pesto) over pizza, add a couple handfuls of cheese and your choice of toppings. Carefully lift the parchment paper with pizza on-top and place onto the pizza stone. Bake until the crust is golden and the cheese is bubbling, about 10-12 minutes. Remove pizza and place on wire rack for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.
  • Repeat steps above to make and bake second pizza. Enjoy with your favorite bottle of red wine.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Perfect Veggie Burger

Angela at Oh She Glows is my top blogger-crush. She’s gorgeous, writes beautifully, and makes creative, drool-worthy vegan food. She is also honest about her own issues with food and eating disorders, and out of all of the so-called “healthy living bloggers,” she is one who really seems to have done some very challenging personal and spiritual work around how she treats her body and isn’t afraid to talk about it. Recently, she was on a quest for the perfect veggie burger, in her own words, she wanted a burger that:

  • Can’t be mushy in the middle
  • Crispy outer shell
  • Lots of flavour from fresh herbs & spices
  • No tofu (not a fan)
  • Crunchy, chewy texture is a must
  • No cracking or falling apart
  • Must cook well 3 ways: frying pan, oven, and BBQ
  • Could make a grown man shed a tear of joy (ok, that was my requirement, heh)

Well, except that Joe wasn’t shedding any tears (though he did remark, unprovoked, that they were the best veggie burgers we’d ever had), these burgers fulfill every criterion. Note that there was no “comes together quickly” criterion. These require a bit of prep work (and kitchen mess), but the batch made 8 patties, so I ended up freezing the rest for later. My mini food processor really got a workout! The nuts add so much texture and crunch, and they held up beautifully on the grill.

It was very nearly a perfect summer meal, with grilled corn and okra on the side, and it was all vegan until Joe topped his burger with some non-vegan pesto and I sprinkled my corn with some spicy Parmesan seasoning. I will definitely be keeping a batch of these in the freezer to throw on top of a salad or for a quick dinner.


The Perfect Veggie Burger
source: Oh She Glows
Yields 8 medium-size patties


  • 1/2 cup onion, diced
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • Flax eggs: 2.5 tbsp ground flax + 1/2 cup warm water, mixed in bowl (I used a chia egg with the same amount of chia seeds.)
  • 1 cup oats, processed into flour
  • 1.5 cups bread crumbs
  • 1 cup grated carrots
  • 1 cup cooked black beans, rinsed and roughly pureed or mashed
  • Heaping 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley (or fresh herb of choice)
  • 1/3 cup almonds, chopped (toasted if preferred)
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seeds, (toasted if preferred)
  • 1 tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce 
  • 1.5 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste (I used about 1/2 tsp kosher salt)


1. Preheat oven to 350F (if baking). In a large skillet, sauté onions and garlic in 1/2 tbsp oil. Mix your flax or chia egg together in a small bowl and set aside for at least 10 mins while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

2. Place all ingredients (except spices and salt) into a large mixing bowl and stir very well. Now, add seasonings and salt to taste.

3. With slightly wet hands, shape dough into patties. Pack dough tightly as this will help it stick together.

4. Cooking methods: You can fry the burgers in a bit of oil on a skillet over medium heat for about 5 minutes on each side. If baking in the oven, bake for 30-36 mins (15-18 minutes on each side) at 350F, until golden and crisp. For the grill, pre-bake the burgers for about 15 minutes in oven before placing on a pre-heated grill until golden and crisp on each side.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Easy Weeknight Thai Curry

I’ve been a little quiet about what I’m going to be up to post-graduation, post-ordination, and post-camp. In large part, that’s because I DIDN’T KNOW. Without going into the nitty-gritty details, the usual plan of action would’ve been to return to Texas but because somebody has a job as a hotshot doctor and I prefer to live in the same state as my husband at this point in our marriage, I am staying in Nashville with the permission of the bishops. Besides, Joe probably would not have let me take these guys with me.


So I ended up scrambling around and waiting for God to lead me to that perfect fit where my gifts and talents will be appreciated and used and where I can grow into the minister that God has called me to be. Through a little bit of a fluke and with the encouragement of some dear friends, I interviewed for a year-long chaplaincy residency and got it. I’m going to be a chaplain at the same top-ranked academic hospital where Joe works.

But I also needed to be serving in a parish, not only because I want to and very much feel called to liturgical ministry, but also because my ordination to the priesthood is contingent upon it. After waiting, lots of meetings over coffee, and the connections made through other clergy, it finally happened. Within a few days, everything was squared away for me to serve at an absolutely fabulous parish just a few miles from my house.

However, this also means that I’ll be working six days a week. Not to mention trying to squeeze in making dinner and exercising. So now seems like a prudent time to expand my repertoire of meals that come together in less than 20 minutes. Adding tofu, tempeh, shrimp, or chicken to this might take slightly longer, and I was surprisingly satisfied without a protein, particularly with the brown rice noodles. We spiced it up by adding a bit of Sriracha. Either way, very fast, very satisfying, and enough for leftovers.


Easy Weeknight Thai Stir-Fry
adapted from Sing For Your Supper
Yields 4 servings

1 16 oz package of frozen stir-fry vegetables
1 8 oz package of brown rice noodles
1 cup lite coconut milk
2 tbsp Thai red curry paste
Chopped cilantro, to garnish
Sriracha, optional


1. Soak brown rice noodles in hot water until softened. Meanwhile, cook frozen stir-fry vegetables in a pan with a little bit of oil until warm and cooked through.

2. Mix together the coconut milk and red curry paste. Pour mixture over the vegetables and heat thoroughly. Add in noodles and toss to coat.

3. Garnish with cilantro and Sriracha to taste.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Five Favorite Things

Note: I was selected to be an official blogger for the Women’s Half Marathon, so if you’re at all interested in my running adventures, head on over to Run, Rev, Run.

Where did August come from? This summer has just flown by, especially since I was at camp for a good part of it. Here are a few of my current favorite things as summer comes to a close.

1. Iced Coffee


Last year, I posted this recipe/method for cold-brewed iced coffee. Now, instead of making it in mason jars, I just cold brew in my French press and leave it sitting on the counter for 12-24 hours. Or I head to Bruegger’s for some iced Green Mountain Wild Blueberry coffee. Particularly after a steamy run, some combination of iced coffee, water, and Gatorade really helps me recover.

2. Garden & Gun


I cannot say enough good things about this magazine. It’s my favorite. Ever. Every time I read an issue, I can’t imagine myself ever living anywhere besides the South. And any magazine that can throw in Dolly Parton, Wendell Berry, and jazz in the same issue is good by me. The photography and writing are top notch. If an article about fly-fishing or hunting can interest me, then you know its well-written.

3. Girly Pop Music


I think it started at camp and was compounded by our (Groupon!) tickets to the Britney concert, but right now I can’t get enough of Ke$ha, Britney, Nicki Minaj, Lady Gaga, or Beyonce, particularly on my exercise playlists. It’s certainly not high-brow, but it’s fun and I like it. The last time I was at spin class, I didn’t think I would make it, but Lady Gaga’s “The Edge of Glory” came on and I sprinted my heart out during the chorus.

4. Mad Men


Now that it’s available on Netflix Instant Stream, I’m catching up on what everyone has been raving about for years. I’ve watched nearly 3 seasons in a week or so, and it’s what everyone has said: great acting, fabulous attention to detail, and the costumes! A personal interest for me is that my mother would’ve been about the same age as the Draper children at that time, growing up in a similar culture.

5. Mini-weekend trips


Unlike when we lived in Texas, there are a ton of great weekend trip destinations within a 5 hour radius, and with a cheap Priceline hotel and group deal sites, several weekend trips replaced a bigger summer vacation for us. So far this summer, we’ve been to Knoxville and the Smoky Mountains, Chattanooga for the aquarium and hiking, and Atlanta for the Sweetwater brewery tour and a Braves game. I love getting to explore the Southeast one weekend at a time.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Lasagna Pie

Despite being married for three years and making hundreds of meatless meals that were perfectly acceptable with only a few flops, Joe still gets a little nervous about vegetarian food. When a vegetarian restaurant opened in town and I mentioned that I wanted to go, he was not interested. Though he claims his resistance was not as strong as I claim, there were several other times when I suggested it as an option and was turned down. But when another friend of his wanted to go, we made a date that Friday to go with her. And Joe totally ate up his vegan queso and plantain tacos, leaving completely satisfied.

He also admitted that he was “nervous” about this lasagna pie. It doesn’t appear to be much: whole wheat crust, a ricotta mixture, zucchini and summer squash, and a tomato sauce. Not only was it surprisingly filling, but it was a great way to use up a whole bunch of my CSA veggies.

My crust was a little, um, rustic-looking. Elly also had some problems with it being soggy, which she attributed to not baking it without the pie weights. Mine was also a little soggy but that might’ve been because I pre-made the pie and let it sit in the fridge while I went to spin class. Either way, it wasn’t objectionable.


Lasagna Pie
Serves 4
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks as seen on Elly Says Opa


For the crust:
2 cups white whole wheat flour or whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp. salt
1/4 cup olive oil
~1/2 cup cold water

For the filling:
1 small to medium summer squash, thinly sliced
1 small to medium zucchini, thinly sliced
3 tbsp pesto
1 cup low fat ricotta cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten

For the tomato sauce:
2 tsp. olive oil
2 shallots, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 scant tsp. red pepper flakes
1 (14.5 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
~3 Tbsp. water
1/2 tsp. oregano
small pinch of sugar


To make the crust, combine the flour and salt in a large bowl. Drizzle the olive oil over the flour and stir it in.  Slowly add the water to the dough and stir until it’s just absorbed. Add just enough water to form a dough. Knead a couple of times to get the dough to come together.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to the size you need. Transfer the rolled dough to your pie or tart pan, pressing it into the corners and up the sides without stretching the dough. Trim any excess dough. Place the crust in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375.  Prick the dough a few times with a fork and then line it with parchment paper and fill it with pie weights or dried beans. Bake for 15 minutes and then remove the parchment and weights and bake an additional 5. Place the crust on a rack to cool.

Reduce the oven to 350.

To make the sauce, heat the oil in a pan over medium heat.  Add the shallots and cook until tender. Stir in the garlic and red pepper flakes and stir until the garlic is fragrant, about 30-60 seconds.

Add the tomatoes and a little water. Season with the oregano, a small pinch of sugar, and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for 10-15 minutes. Re-season, if necessary.

To make the filling, toss the sliced zucchini and squash with a little salt in a colander. Let it sit there to drain as you continue with the filling and sauce.

Combine the pesto with the ricotta cheese and beaten egg.

If the squash still has a bit of moisture, pat it with a kitchen or paper towel to dry.

Spread half the ricotta mixture over the bottom of the crust.  Place half the summer squash/zucchini in one layer over the cheese. Spoon half the tomato sauce over the squash.  Spread the remaining ricotta cheese mixture over the top,  then layer the remaining squash, and finally the rest of the tomato sauce.

Bake in a 350 oven for about 30 minutes. Sprinkle with the parmesan and then continue to bake for an additional 10 minutes. Allow to sit for 10 minutes before slicing and serving.