Category Archives: Wraps / Sandwiches

Tempeh and Portabella Salad Sandwich

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Hello- Super quick post today for a super quick but so delicious sandwich. This is my second post in a row on tempeh. Well, I had a half package leftover from a few days ago that I need to use. If you aren’t familiar with tempeh, you should really check it out. It’s high-protein, inexpensive and being a soy product, pretty much takes on the flavors that you add to it. Trader Joe’s has their own version of it that I highly recommend.

I had some nice local sourdough bread at home so a sandwich was calling my name. Though I’m not a big mayo fan, I used Vegenaise which is a vegan mayo substitute. This was used to bind the tempeh and mushroom mixture and doesn’t really enhance the taste much. If you don’t have it, you could puree some silken tofu with a bit of lemon juice and salt or even use mustard instead. You can change up the bread as you like.

Tempeh and Portabella Salad Sandwich

1/2 package tempeh (any kind)
1 large portabella mushroom, sliced thinly
1/2 medium size onion, sliced
2 tsp oil
1 tsp garlic powder (or fresh garlic)
2 tsp Old Bay Seasoning or other seasoning of your choice
pinch of dried oregano
salt to taste
1 tbsp Vegenaise or other binder
4 lettuce leaves
2 slices of sourdough bread
1 tbsp Dijon mustard

Chop the tempeh into small chunks or crumble it with your hands and set aside. Heat a pan over medium heat and add oil when it gets hot. Add the mushroom pieces and onions and stir occasionally, allowing them to cook until almost done. Then add the tempeh pieces, garlic, seasoning, oregano and salt and a bit more oil if necessary. Allow to cook until the mushroom and onions are starting to brown and cook through. The tempeh doesn’t have to “cook” but you want to get it starting to brown. When it’s done cooking, remove the mixture to a bowl to cool for a few minutes.

While waiting for the mixture to cool, toast your bread. When it comes out, slather with mustard and put on a plate. Tear some lettuce leaves and place on both pieces of bread. Now go back to the tempeh mix – add the vegenaise and mix well. Taste for seasoning and put on top of your lettuce/toast. Place the pieces together and enjoy!

 

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Tempeh Potato Pepper Curry with Pickled Onions

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Hello! It’s been a long time since my last post. I have been very busy with garden things and kid & school things. I have been tweeting a bit, in case you want to follow me there just look for thisspicylife… I usually re-tweet interesting nutrition articles, garden info and other inspiring stuff.

Yesterday I hosted a huge garden work day at our school garden as part of an Eagle Scout Project. We worked pretty much all day rebuilding raised beds and moving soil into the new beds. We had a lot of help from a local Boy Scout Troop #127 and our school parents and community volunteers. It was such a great day with beautiful weather and nice people. See the end of this post for some pics of our garden remodel.

I really worked up an appetite because today I was ready for a rather substantial (for me) breakfast. It turned into brunch by the time I got it made and ready to eat, though this is a pretty quick dish to make. We had some leftover pickled onions from the weekend, so added these to the plate along with some yummy grits seasoned with nutritional yeast. The leftovers will be made into burritos. It was the perfect addition to this non-spicy curry. If you want the onions, you should plan ahead. Or just make a batch and find ways to use them! They are a pretty pink color and delicious (if you like onions). Here is the tempeh recipe:

Tempeh Potato Pepper Curry with Pickled Onions (Serves 4)

1/2 package of tempeh, cut in bite-sized pieces
1 large baking potato, cut in bite-sized pieces
1 orange bell pepper (or other color), cut in bite-sized pieces
1/2 cup finely chopped kale
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper (optional, to taste)
pinch of garam masala (optional)
salt to taste

Heat a skillet over medium heat. Add the oil and allow to heat a bit before adding the cumin seeds. Once the cumin seeds start to toast, add the potato pieces and a bit of salt, stirring the potatoes to coat with the oil. Cover with a lid and allow the potatoes to cook, stirring occasionally. When the potatoes are almost cooked through, sprinkle with the turmeric, coriander powder and cayenne pepper and stir well. Add the tempeh, pepper, kale and garlic. Continue cooking and stir frequently until the tempeh is heated and the pepper is cooked to your liking. This should take just 3 to 5 minutes. Turn off the heat and add the pinch of garam masala and additional salt to taste. Serve with pickled onions over grits, rice or with bread of your choice.

Pickled Onions

1 red onion
1/2 cup of vinegar (any kind you like)
1/2 cup of water
pinch of salt

Peel the onion and cut in rings. Loosen the rings and place the rings in a non-reactive bowl. Sprinkle a pinch of salt over the onion and add the vinegar (we used white vinegar) and water. Allow to sit for an hour or up to two days before using. These can be used in sandwiches, as part of an appetizer tray with other veggies, on pizza, or just on the side of any spicy curry. The longer they pickle, the better they taste. Just keep ’em in the fridge.

Here are some pics of our garden remodel:

Rebuilding the raised beds with cinder blocks…Boy Scouts in yellow shirts. The blocks will get painted later by the students.

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Some artichokes growing in the garden… can’t wait to harvest!

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One of our hard-working volunteers!

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Cutlets Meet Vada Pav Sliders (Indian Potato Burgers)

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There is a delicious Indian treat called “Vada Pav” that is a round deep-fried potato ball served on a bun with garlic chutney. It is so good to eat with the crispy chickpea flour coating outside and the soft flavorful potatoes inside. I decided to try a  healthy twist on this dish, though I would never turn down the original! I’m not trying to improve it but rather make it a bit more healthy for everyday eating. Not that I’m suggesting that this be eaten everyday! With the addition of cooked mung beans, it’s more of a cross between the Vada Pav and a cutlet.

This is a recipe that calls for a few Indian ingredients. If you don’t have them, then come up with your own spice mix. I think a southwest version would be very good. Hmm… that’s definitely a future experiment! The traditional version of Vada Pav features garlic chutney. It gives it a delicious, spicy flavor. However, you don’t need the garlic chutney to complete this dish – sub in some spicy ketchup or other chutney or just dress it up as you would  a burger. You won’t be disappointed!

Healthy Twist on Vada Pav (Indian Potato Burgers) (Makes approx. 9 patties)

1 cup mung beans, cooked
1 potato, boiled or steamed, mashed and cooled (about 1 cup of potato)
2 tsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
pinch of hing
a few curry leaves, chopped
1/2 cup of onions, finely chopped
1 tsp garlic paste
2 tsp ginger paste
1 tsp of cayenne pepper
salt to taste
1/4 cup chickpea flour (besan) plus additional flour for coating
1/8 – 1/4 cup oil for pan frying
small round hamburger buns
1/2 cup dry garlic chutney (or to taste)

In a large bowl, mix together the mung beans and potato. In a small pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the mustard seeds, hing and curry leaves. When the mustard seeds start to pop, add the onion and allow to cook for a few minutes, stirring. Then add the garlic and ginger paste and cayenne. Allow to cook for a minute or until the garlic is cooked to your liking. Remove from heat and pour this in the mung bean mixture. Add the salt and 1/4 cup of chickpea flour and mash everything together until well combined. Taste for salt and adjust if necessary.When the mixture is ready,  roll it into large rounds approx. 2″ in diameter. Set aside until all are rolled out. Place the additional chickpea flour on a plate and roll each ball in the chickpea flour, dusting the outside with the flour.

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Heat a skillet over medium heat and add a tbsp or 2 of oil. When the oil is heated, place a few of the balls in the oil, pressing down slightly on the top to flatten a little.

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Once the bottom is nicely browned, flip over each ball and cook on the other side, flattening a bit more.

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Once browned on the 2nd side, remove from the oil to a plate or paper. Repeat frying until all of the balls are cooked.

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If using the garlic chutney, spread a nice layer on the bottom bun, place the patty on the bun, top with sliced onion. Or skip the chutney and use condiments of your choice. Enjoy!

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Mouth-watering Mushroom, Kale & Tofu Scramble & Grits

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Hello! I’m back to the Indian-inspired cooking for a bit. It’s “cold” here in S. Cali this week requiring some spicy comfort food. Yes, it’s in the high 50’s to low 60’s, but what can I say? This morning I threw together a quick tofu scramble while the grits were gurgling on the stove. I love mushrooms and when I’m feeling a bit under the weather they always seem to bring me back around. For some extra nutrients, I threw in kale and tomatoes. The tomatoes were just cooked enough to be soft but still pop a little in your mouth. Hence, the “mouth-watering” description. I ate these served over yellow corn grits with a few dashes of super-spicy Marie Sharp’s Belizean Heat. I think grits have to be eaten with a bit of hot sauce. Just goes hand-in-hand.

This is an easier recipe than my scrambled tofu with spinach since I don’t use onion and garlic. It also takes less time since you don’t have to wait on the onion to cook. The only thing you have to mess with is chopping the mushrooms (and kale if using fresh). I have a bag of organic kale in the freezer. It’s handy for quick meals where I really need some greens. The kale cooks faster than fresh since the ice crystals have broken it down a bit.

If you don’t have all of the spices, run out to the store and get them! What are you waiting for? Just kidding… you can add whatever you like – just don’t use too much of any one thing so you keep a balanced flavor. Of course, you could go the Mexican or Italian route with the spices too. Tomorrow I will use the leftovers to make tacos with corn tortillas. Just throw on some spicy salsa, fresh shredded cabbage and another nice, healthy meal is ready! Here is today’s version of the tofu scramble…

Mouth-watering Mushroom, Kale & Tofu Scramble & Grits (serves 2 – 4)

1 pkg. firm tofu (press out the water for 10 – 15 minutes)
1 lb. of portabella or other mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
1 cup of kale, frozen or washed and chopped
2+ tbsp oil
2 tsp of black salt (or to taste)
1 tsp cumin seed
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin powder
2 tsp coriander
1 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste)
2 tsp garam masala (optional)
1 cup cherry tomatoes
2 tbsp chopped cilantro
hot sauce to taste
3 cups cooked grits

Heat up your trusty cast-iron skillet (or other large skillet) to medium. When it’s really hot, add your mushrooms and let them cook for a minute or two. Stir and add a pinch of salt over them. As they start cooking down and releasing their water, you can add the oil and kale. After about two minutes, crumble the tofu with your hands into the skillet. There should be bite-sized pieces and some smaller pieces. Add a bit more oil if necessary to keep it from sticking. Stir and then add all of the spices and stir again to get the spices incorporated. Reduce the heat to low. Allow to cook, stirring only once in while so that the tofu starts to get slightly brown and crispy in spots. After approximately 5 – 8 minutes, make a little space in the middle of the pan by moving everything else to the sides. Toss the tomatoes in the center and let everything cook for about 3 minutes. Stir and turn off the heat. Keep in mind that cooking times will vary depending on the type of tofu you are using, how much water is in it, if you are using cast-iron or not… Spoon over hot grits. Serve with fresh cilantro and hot sauce.

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Mushroom “Bacon” and Avocado Sandwich

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Hello! This is a super quick post for a super quick sandwich. I have been racing the clock all morning trying to get errands and chores done. My friend S and I are meeting for a lunch run and I had to eat properly before heading out. This sandwich is quick, light and satisfying. The main thing that takes a bit of time to prepare is the “bacon”. With my quick version, it takes only 10 minutes (no marinating this time). I hope you try it out!

Mushroom “Bacon” and Avocado Sandwich

1 lb. mushrooms, crimini or button or portabella
a few pinches salt
1 tbsp oil (grape seed, olive, etc.)
1 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
dash or two of garlic powder
dash or two smoked seasoning or liquid smoke
1 tbsp maple syrup
2 slices bread
1 tbsp vegenaise or mayo or your choice
2 lettuce leaves, washed and dried
1/4 avocado, sliced
1 tomato, sliced
salt and pepper to taste

Clean and slice the mushrooms. Place the 1 tbsp oil and half the mushrooms in a heated cast iron skillet in a single layer, sprinkling with a pinch of salt:

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Let the mushrooms cook until lightly browned on the first side. Scoop them to the side and repeat with the other half of the mushrooms. When these are brown on the bottom, stir together and sauté for a minute or two until they are cooked and a bit dry. Sprinkle over the mushrooms: tamari, garlic powder, smoke ingredient and maple syrup. Stir and turn off heat.

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Toast the bread, if you like. Slather some mayo of your choice on one slice and top with the tomato. On the other slice layer the avocado. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Top with lettuce and “bacon”. Press slices together and eat. Enjoy!

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Black Bean & Brown Basmati Burritos

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Hello! Today I opened a fridge packed with bits of leftovers from this past week. What to do with that leftover lettuce and cabbage salad? I have been eating salads almost everyday since the new year, so no salad today. With some leftover brown basmati rice and tortillas, I made up a very quick and satisfying (and healthy) lunch. I also used up the last of the leftover salad! I did save a few bites for our composting worms  – they get hungry too.

This looks like a lot of ingredients but it’s very fast to make. While the beans are heating up, you can prep the tortillas and cut up the garnishes. I don’t usually use canned beans because it’s so easy to make them from dry. Normally I get a bag of dry beans, cook the whole bag and freeze them in portions. Today I resorted to the can since I didn’t have any black beans in the freezer. For this quick bean recipe, I used prepared salsa (Fire-Roasted Tomato Salsa) to give good flavor. It’s smart to keep a few things like this on hand for quick meals and for your emergency bin. I listed sour cream and cheese though I didn’t use them in my burritos and here you could obviously use a vegan option or a non-vegan option. There are a lot of great flavors going on already, so you really won’t miss the dairy or dairy-sub and the accompanying calories. FYI, in the picture you will see what looks like sour cream but it’s actually veganaise mixed with hot sauce. I thought it would be good since sometimes I use this as a dip for veggie-chicken nuggets, but it wasn’t that great. I don’t recommend it!

Black Bean & Brown Basmati Burritos (Serves 2)

For the Bean & Rice Mixture:
1 tbsp oil
1 yellow or white onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp salt
1 can of black beans (or 1 cup of cooked black beans)
1 cup of cooked brown basmati rice (or rice of your choice)
2 tbsp hot sauce (optional)
1/2 cup of salsa

Heat a medium sized sauce pan over medium-low heat. Add the oil and after a minute add the onion and salt. Stir until the onion is translucent and cooked. Add the garlic, oregano, cumin and cayenne and stir around for a minute. Once the garlic starts cooking, add the black beans, rice, hot sauce and salsa. Stir and let heat for a few minutes. Mash the beans a little bit with the back of your spoon to get the mixture incorporated. Leave whole beans too. Once everything is heated thoroughly, remove from heat. Taste for salt and salsa and add if necessary. Set aside. Here’s a close up shot of the beans and rice (on the right side):

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Now you can start assembling the burritos:

2 large flour tortillas
1 1/2 cups of lettuce or mixed salad (I had romaine lettuce, purple cabbage and carrots)
1 ripe avocado, sliced
2 green onions, chopped
additional salsa or hot sauce to garnish
1/4 cup of sour cream mixed with 2 tbsp of hot sauce  (optional)
1/2 cup of cheese (optional)

Heat the tortillas a bit on a griddle or big frying pan. Once heated, remove to a plate. Pile on the black bean mixture, then top with your salad, avocado slices, green onions and salsa. Top with the sour cream and cheese if using. Roll up and enjoy!

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Chole Enchiladas with Roasted Jalapeno

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Chole Enchiladas with Roasted Jalapeno

Hello and welcome to This Spicy Life…

A few weeks ago I made Chole Enchiladas – a perfect fusion of Indian chickpeas curry and Latin whole wheat-corn tortillas.I thought this would be a great recipe to honor Cinco de Mayo that is coming up in a few short days.

I used a variation on my recipe for chickpeas curry posted here. You can use your own recipe or mine, just make double the recipe for the sauce so that you have sauce left over to pour over the rolled up enchiladas. The chole that I made was already spicy but made extremely spicy with the roasted jalapeno peppers added to the filling. If you want less spice, just remove the seeds and maybe use less jalapeno.

Chole Enchiladas with Roasted Jalapeno

Serves 4

  • 1 recipe chole, made with doubled sauce
  • 1 cup potato, minced
  • 6 whole wheat-corn tortillas or other tortillas (6″ – 8″, not the huge burrito size)
  • 2 jalapeno peppers
  • 1 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 lemon, cut in wedges
  • 1 avocado, chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare an 8″x8″ or similar baking pan by rubbing with a bit of oil. Set aside.
  2. Roast the jalapeno peppers: there are many methods to do this. I put mine over direct gas flame and kept turning until the skin was blackened. (You can oil them and place under a broiler or put them in a cast iron skillet and turn them around over high heat.) Once roasted, set aside until they are cooled. Then with the back of a knife (the dull side), scrape off most of the charred skin. Don’t rinse under water as this removes much of the flavor. Chop into bite-sized pieces. You can remove the seeds if you find them too hot. Be careful to wash your hands well after handling the jalapeno! Set these aside until step 6. 
  3. Prepare the sauce part of your recipe for chole / chickpeas curry and remove all but 1 cup of sauce and reserve until step 7.
  4. Add the minced potato to the 1 cup of tomato sauce. Allow to simmer until almost cooked through. Add a small amount of water if it becomes too dry.
  5. Add the reserved chickpeas to the potato mixture and simmer for 10 minutes, adding a bit of water as needed so it doesn’t stick. However, this should be a very dry curry at the end of the cooking time.
  6. Stir in the chopped jalapeno and 3/4 cup of chopped cilantro. Taste for salt/seasoning and set aside.
  7. To the reserved portion of the tomato sauce, add a little bit of water to make a thick gravy consistency (if necessary). Set aside.
  8. Wrap the tortillas in foil and place in the oven for a 5 minutes. They will get a little heated and more pliable. 
  9. Into an oven-proof casserole dish pour 1 cup of the reserved sauce. Spread over the bottom.
  10. Take one tortilla and spread approx. 1/2 cup of the chickpeas on the center. 
  11. Roll up and place in the casserole dish. Repeat with remaining tortillas and pack tightly together. 
  12. Pour remaining tomato sauce over the rolls – be careful to get sauce all over the tortillas (they may become dry if they aren’t sauced). 
  13. Cover with an oven-proof lid or foil. Place in the oven for 30 minutes or until heated through.
  14. Remove from the oven. Remove lid or foil. Allow to stand for 5 – 10 minutes.
  15. Serve with chopped onion, cilantro, chopped avocado and lemon wedges.