Monday, February 4, 2013

Cooking More for Less: Bean Burritos and Taco Salads

I have been challenged by a friend to make vegan recipes for families that are pulled in 18 different directions. These friends have to juggle work, child care, school, extra-curricular activities, family obligations, doctor's appointments, church and all of the other stuff that makes up or takes up life.  Well, sure.  I can do that!  But, I do have a few tips for you before we get started.

It all boils down to how I got into this business in the first place.  I didn't have time to make my vegan food every day so I had to mass produce and freeze.  Hence the frozen food line.  These are all of the foods that I make and freeze in dinner size or individual packaging so you can heat it up at home or take it on the go for a low cost lunch.  The mark up in some restaurants is the same as buying a diamond. Mark ups are huge because they have to be. And, unless it is a dinner date with your best pal or your wife, don't buy into lunch out with colleagues.  Pack your lunch. Period. .

Another tip, don't worry about getting all of the ingredients or having the exact amount of everything, substitute wherever you like. Switch out the veggies to what you have on hand or in the freezer. If you don't have garlic, use garlic powder. If you don't have coconut oil, use vegetable oil.  Don't make this hard on yourself.  It's just food.  And, it will be delicious.  And guess what else? It will be cheap!  Think of all the other people on the earth who eat beans and rice as staples. They do it because it is healthy for you and it is inexpensive.  And one more little thing, if your kids need a little help with adjusting to vegan food make my mock-Chik-fil-A sauce that I call The Best Sauce, with the meal and everything will go down easier.  Heck, it may all go down easier for you too!

So in the spirit of making it easy for my friends, let's get cooking.

Bean and Rice Burritos / Bean and Rice Taco Salads
bean and rice burritos for tomorrow's lunch
Refried Beans
1 1/2 cups dry pinto beans (or two cans of vegan refried beans)
1 Tbsp. coconut oil
1 onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 tsp. cumin, ground
1 tsp. coriander
1 tsp. Bangarang! signature seasoning

Cooking dry beans method:  Wash your pinto beans in a colander making sure there are no little stones in there.  Seriously found two rocks in my pinto beans as I washed them this morning. So just give it a good check.  Then, toss the pintos in a big stock pot that you have a lid for.  Cover the beans in water and then add about three to four inches more water over the beans.  Bring the water to a boil over high heat.  Boil the pintos for 5 minutes.  Cut the heat off and put a lid over it.  Let it rest for 30-60 minutes.  Drain the beans in a colander.  Place the beans back in the pot and cover with the same amount of fresh water.  Bring the pot to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium so the water is agitated but not boiling over.  Continue cooking until they are the right texture.  I try them at 30 minutes, and if the skins are cracking that means they are usually done.  Try a bite of a bean first to make sure they aren't underdone by having too much texture.  These are going to be mashed, so you want them nice and soft.  Once they are cooked completely, drain the beans into a colander again.

While that is cooking you can start your veggies.

In a skillet, heat the coconut oil (or any vegan oil you have on hand) to medium, add chopped onion and garlic.  Saute until they are translucent, then add the cumin, coriander and Bangarang!  Get that nice and hot. Remove from heat.

If you have a food processor, put your sauteed veggies in the processor, and run it until they are smooth.  Add the pinto beans once they are done.  You can add up to 1 cup of water (I do half a cup and then see if I need to add more) so they are nice and smooth. Transfer the beans back into the stock pot and heat on Medium-Low heat for about 10 minutes or so.

1 cup dry rice (brown, white, jasmine, just whatever you have but cook each according to package directions)
1/2 Tbsp. coconut oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
2 tsp. cumin seed
1 cup frozen or fresh corn kernels
sea salt

In a pot with a lid, cook the rice according to package directions.  Me, I used white rice because we have loads of it.  So, for 1 cup of dry white rice, I would add 2 cups water.  In they go into the pot.  Bring to a boil on Medium-High heat. Put the lid on it. Reduce the heat to low. Cook this way for 20 minutes.  Remove from heat.

In the same skillet that you used earlier, add the oil, yellow onion and cumin seeds if you got them. Cook until the onion is translucent over Medium heat.  Add the corn. Heat until warm. When the rice is done, toss it in the skillet with the veggies and heat thoroughly.  Add 1/2 tsp. of sea salt and give it a stir.

Divide the refried beans into two bowls or leave one half in the pot, if serving soon.  One is for tonight's dinner, the other is for another dinner or lunches.

Divide the rice into two bowls.  Same thing.

One bowl of refried beans goes with one bowl of rice.

Making your burritos for tomorrow's meal or lunch.  Burritos can be frozen on a baking sheet so they are ideal for serving later.  The fresh beans and rice will be perfect for tonight's taco salad.

Bean and Rice Burritos
4 Grande Sized Burritos Tortillas
1 bowl of refried beans
1 bowl of rice

Get a large skillet, with no oil, to medium heat on the stove top.  Prepare your assembly line.  Right before you, you have a cutting board.  To your left a bowl of water.  To your right, you have your burritos, bowl of rice, bowl of beans.

Take one tortilla over to the medium hot skillet.  Place on one side for 6 seconds, flip to the other side for 4 seconds. Remove from the skillet and place on your cutting board.  Using 1 Tbsp. of water, just grab a sprinkle and moisten the whole tortilla on one side.  In the center, place 1/4 of the rice mix in a 3 inch by 4 or 5 inch strip.  Then add 1/4 of the refried beans over the strip.

Wrap it up.  Bring the short bits of the tortilla to the center over the beans and rice.  Fold the long bottom over the beans and roll the opposite flap over the beans.  Making it sealed rectangle.  Place seems side down on a wax line baking sheet.  Continue this method with the remaining three tortillas.  Place the cooking sheet in the freezer.  Freeze for an hour or more and then pop them into bags, containers or plastic wrap.  If using plastic wrap, I like to cover it with foil too, just to make sure it doesn't pop open during travel.  Label with a sharpee.

Pull them out of their containers and if eating from home, heat the oven to 375 degrees and bake on an oiled sheet for 30 minutes, flipping halfway through the cooking time.  Serve warm with the following dips.

Or if on the go, pop them into the microwave for 5 minutes turning halfway into the cooking time.  Serve with salsa or taco sauce or The Best Sauce which will be somewhere on this blog post.

Taco Salad
taco salad for dinner
Lettuce (whatever you have on hand, iceberg, romaine, spinach) just chop it into bite-sized pieces or julienne into small slivers.
1 bowl of rice
1 bowl of refried beans
Jazzed up Salsa (optional)
Corn chips or baked tortilla wedges (optional)
Guacamole (optional)
The Best Sauce

Heat up the beans and rice if they are cold.  You can put one back in the skillet and the other in the pot.  Heat on Low until ready to serve.

You can either make them buffet style or you can plate them and then set it on the table.  Choice is yours.  I like to put the lettuce down as a bed, then the rice, then the beans, top with some jazzy salsa, guacamole, then on the side, wedge some corn chips. Then serve,

Jazzy Salsa
2 cups prepared salsa
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, fresh chopped
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
Stir it up and serve

1 avocado, mashed with a fork
juice of one wedge of lemon
1/4 -1/2 tsp. Bangarang!
Stir it up and serve.

The Best Sauce
1/4 cup prepared yellow mustard
1/4 cup vegan Barbecue sauce
1/4 cup agave or maple syrup
1/4 cup vegenaise
Stir it up and serve.

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