Monday, June 18, 2012

Garden Tacos with Avocado-Tomato Toss

One of the foods I miss the most on the MSPI diet is cheese. (Yes, there are a few MSPI-friendly "cheeses" available -- Daiya is decent -- but it's still not the same, for me at least.) I especially miss cheese on tacos, but I figure that since I can't have cheese, I'm going to splurge and have avocado! And, honestly, if I had to choose, I'd go with avocado over cheese any day. Love those little gems!

I love trying out new recipes for avocados, and the folks over at Avocados From Mexico have just launched a new recipes section on their site, called Recipes From Avocado Lovers, to give foodies who love avocados the opportunity to upload their favorite avocado recipes, download ringtones, wallpapers and other fun items to show their avocado love and discover other fan favorite avocado recipes.

I was invited by Avocados From Mexico to create a recipe that showcases avocados. I took up the challenge and created these Garden Tacos with Avocado-Tomato Toss. They're vegetarian ... no meat in site. In fact, not only are they vegetarian, they're vegan. It's the perfect recipe for summer, since all those veggies are super fresh and on sale! Feel free to mix things up by using other veggies. Bell peppers and zucchini would be great in this, too! To round out the meal, try serving the tacos with refried beans or whip up a batch of my Slow Cooked Pinto Beans. Yum!

If you love avocados as much as I do, submit a recipe to the Recipes From Avocado Lovers website from Avocados From Mexico. And make sure you leave a message here to let me know about your post. I would love to try out YOUR recipe!

Garden Tacos with Avocado-Tomato Toss
Source: MSPI Mama

1 tbsp. olive oil
1 small onion, sliced
12 oz. pkg. button mushrooms, sliced
1 small summer squash, halved and sliced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp. water
1 tsp. cumin
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. chili powder
¼ tsp. black pepper
⅛ tsp. crushed red pepper, or to taste
2 large handfuls baby spinach
2 Avocados From Mexico, halved and cut into small chunks
1 large tomato, seeded and diced
1 tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
1 tbsp. fresh lime juice
¼ tsp. salt
MSPI-friendly tortillas, for serving

Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add the onions to the pan and heat for a minute, breaking the onion slices apart with a spoon. Add the mushrooms and squash to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring often. Stir in the garlic and water. 

Once the water in the pan begins to simmer, add in the cumin, salt, chili and peppers. Stir everything together and allow the mixture to simmer for a few minutes, adding a splash of water, if the vegetables become too dry. Once the veggies are tender, stir in the spinach. Turn the heat to medium low and allow the mixture to continue simmering. 

While the vegetables simmer, prepare the Avocado-Tomato Toss. In a small mixing bowl, gently toss together the avocados, tomato, cilantro, lime juice and salt. Set the topping aside while the vegetable mixture finishes cooking.

Heat the tortillas according to package directions. Once the liquid in the vegetable mixture has completely simmered away, adjust seasoning to taste, then layer some vegetables down the middle of a tortilla and top with the Avocado-Tomato Toss.

Tip: For extra heat, chop up a jalapeno and add it to the salsa mixture.

Fine Print: This is a sponsored post. This sponsorship is brought to you by Recipes from Avocados From Mexico who we have partnered with for this promotion. Regardless, the thoughts and opinions expressed here are purely my own.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Cinnamon Bun Pancakes

Do you ever have a craving for cinnamon rolls? Ummm, I do! But that craving usually hits first thing in the morning. Making cinnamon rolls from scratch takes way too long to satisfy my immediate cravings, and store-bought, MSPI-friendly cinnamon rolls are few and far between.

Fortunately, these simply amazing pancakes satisfy those cinnamon roll cravings. They are crazy good. My oldest daughter is often pestering me to make cinnamon rolls, and she said: "Mom, these pancakes taste just like cinnamon rolls! Please make them again!"

Don't worry, Libby, I'll be making these quite often!

Cinnamon Bun Pancakes
Source: Adapted from Baked Bree

For pancakes:
1½ cups flour (can use combination of regular and whole wheat)
3 tbsp. sugar
½ tsp. salt
4 tsp. baking powder
1 tbsp. cinnamon
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup rice milk
2 tbsp. pure maple syrup or honey
1 tbsp. vanilla
4 tbsp. coconut oil, melted (I use Nutiva.)

Put all of the dry ingredients in a bowl and whisk them together. In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, syrup and vanilla. Continue to whisk the wet mixture while drizzling in the melted coconut oil. (Make sure to whisk in the coconut, otherwise the oil will seize up into a large blob when it hits the cold batter.) Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until combined.

Coat a griddle or large saute pan with cooking spray (or brush it with oil) and preheat it over medium heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the hot griddle. Cook pancakes until brown on both sides. Serve hot pancakes drizzled with icing.

For icing:
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tbsp. coconut oil, melted
2 tbsp. rice milk

Whisk the ingredients together until smooth and a pouring consistency. If too thick add more rice milk, if too thin, add more sugar.

Tip: You can substitute a different kind of oil for the coconut oil, if you prefer, but I love using the coconut oil. It adds a great richness to the pancakes, similar to butter, and it has some tremendous healthy attributes! When using coconut oil in baking, I've found that my batter usually becomes quite thick upon standing, but I believe that's because coconut oil has such a low melting point. Once the batter begins to cook, things will loosen up, so don't become too concerned about the thick batter.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Homemade Spaghettios

Sometimes I create a recipe and get it right the first time out. There's no need to make it again and tweak the recipe before I'm willing to share it with you. And sometimes I have to tweak the recipe A LOT.

Several months ago, I mentioned on my Facebook page that I was devising an MSPI-friendly spaghettios recipe. Well, it's taken me this long to get it right, but here it is!

My kids absolutely adore this recipe. My oldest daughter, who has actually had the real thing from the can, says my version is so much better. Yay! That makes this mama happy!

Homemade Spaghettios
Source: MSPI Mama

1 15-oz. can plain tomato sauce
15 oz. rice milk (just use the empty tomato sauce can to measure)
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. onion powder
½ tsp. paprika
¼ tsp. salt
1 tbsp. nutritional yeast, optional (See note.)
1 7-oz. pkg. ring-shaped pasta (I used Creamette, which I found at Walmart.)
water, as needed

Stir together in a medium saucepan all the ingredients, except for the pasta and water. Bring the tomato mixture to a boil and stir in the pasta. Turn the heat down and cook the pasta as it simmers, stirring often to keep the pasta from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Continue to cook and stir the mixture until the pasta is tender. (The time will vary depending on the size and shape of the pasta but will likely be much longer than indicated on the pasta’s package.) Add a splash of water, as necessary, to keep the sauce from becoming too dry. (I probably added about 1 cup of water by the time I was finished.) Adjust seasoning to taste – including a bit of sugar, if you prefer your sauce on the sweeter side.

Note: Nutritional yeast is not necessary in this recipe, but it helps replace the flavor of cheese. It’s also a nutritional powerhouse, so it’s a great addition to your diet. You can find it at most health food stores or online.

GF: For a gluten-free option, use a small gluten-free pasta. If you can't find one that is satisfactory, try using a gluten-free spaghetti noodle and breaking it into small pieces before cooking.

Link Love: I'm sharing this recipe over at Allergy Free Wednesdays.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Revamped & Revived: Salsa Chicken

I conducted a rather unscientific poll on the MSPI Mama Facebook page yesterday. I asked:

In the "Dark Ages" of my blog, I would post recipes without photos and sometimes no recipe -- just a link to another site. I often remake several of these favorite recipes for my family, so taking a photo wouldn't be an issue. Would you like me to occasionally repost these recipes with pics, or would you prefer I just focus on new ones?

The resounding answer was YES! So today I am introducing Revamped & Revived. I occasionally will repost favorite recipes from my blog. Sometimes I'll share tweaks to the recipe. Sometimes it'll be the exact recipe as was originally posted. Regardless, it'll bring to your attention some of my family's favorites from over the years!

So here's my first R&R recipe: Salsa Chicken. The original post only linked to a recipe over at A Year of Slow Cooking.

I've actually been making this recipe for years ... long before I ever was on the MSPI diet. I'm going to share with you how I've tweaked it over the years. (I've also included Stove Top Directions.) I honestly don't measure the ingredients. I just eyeball the salsa, corn and seasonings. However, this is a pretty close approximation of what I use.

Salsa Chicken

1 15-oz. can black beans, rinsed
1 cup salsa
1 8-oz. can tomato sauce
1-2 cups frozen corn
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
1 lb. frozen chicken breasts
1-2 tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
hot cooked rice
Combine the first five ingredients in your slow cooker. Nestle the chicken into the mixture, making sure to fully coat the breasts. Place the lid on the slow cooker and cook the chicken on high for 2-3 hours, on low for 4 hours or until the chicken is fully cooked.

Remove the chicken from the slow cooker. Allow the meat to rest for a few minutes. Chop or shred the chicken and return it to the salsa mixture in the slow cooker. Stir in the cilantro. Adjust seasoning to taste. Serve with hot cooked rice.

Stove Top Directions: Follow the same steps as above, but add 1 cup of water to the mixture. Heat in a large pot on medium-high until the mixture begins to bubble, turn the heat to medium-low and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through, stirring occasionally and adding more water, if necessary. Remove the chicken and chop or shred it. (If the salsa mixture is too thin, turn the heat up to medium-high and simmer to preferred consistency.) Add the chicken and cilantro to the pot and serve.

Quick Start with MSPI Mama: This is one of my Quick Start recipes

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Sesame Noodles with Golden Garlic

Ahhhh, it's summer! The last month has been BUSY! School and all those school-year activities wrapped up. We've had recitals, open houses and field trips galore. Then, before we could even catch our collective breath, we took off over the Memorial Day weekend to visit our far-flung family and friends. Not to mention, my hubby has been super busy at work, so his help around the house has been spotty at best.

With that in mind, in order to get dinner on the table, I've needed food that could be prepared in advance -- usually during nap time -- that could cook for a few hours (i.e. slow cooker recipes!) or foods that could be served cold. This recipe fits the bill perfectly! Not to mention, it makes a huge amount of food, so we could easily get two family meals out of it. Yay for "twofers"!

The original recipe does not add chicken, but I knew my family would revolt without a little meat somewhere. But you could easily leave it out. Also, if peanut butter is a no-no in your house, I would recommend using sunbutter.

Sesame Noodles with Golden Garlic
Source: Adapted from All You

3 tbsp. canola or coconut oil
4 large cloves garlic, halved and thinly sliced lengthwise
1 lb. chicken breast, thinly sliced, optional
2 celery stalks, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and thinly sliced
2 large carrots, thinly sliced or shredded
1 lb. spaghetti
½ cup peanut butter
1 cup reserved pasta water (likely won't use all of it)
2 tbsp. rice vinegar
1 tbsp. sesame oil
1-2 tsp. MSPI-friendly fish sauce, optional
Salt, to taste
2 green onions, thinly sliced

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta to the water and cook, according to package directions, to al dente. (While pasta is cooking, you can prep your veggies and chicken.) Before draining the pasta, remove 1 cup of cooking water from the pot and set it aside. Drain pasta well and rinse under running water. Place noodles in a large bowl and return the pot to the stove.

Warm oil in the same pot over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until golden brown, 1 to 2 minutes. (Do not step away from the stove. The garlic will burn if you don't watch it closely!) Remove the garlic with a slotted spoon and set it aside. Leave the oil in the pot and return it to the stove top.

If using chicken, add it to the oil in the pot and cook until chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes. Remove chicken and add to the noodles. Return pot to the stove top.

Add the vegetables to the pot and cook, stirring, until softened but not browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add to the noodles.

In a small bowl, whisk together the peanut butter, ½ cup pasta cooking water, vinegar and sesame oil until blended. Add salt to taste. Drizzle the sauce over the noodles, chicken and vegetables and toss until well coated. Add more pasta cooking water, if so desired, and adjust seasoning to taste.

The dish can be served now while warm, or refrigerated and served cold. Sprinkle golden garlic and green onions over pasta just before serving.

Tip: I don't give a measurement on how much salt to use in the sauce because it will greatly depend on how much salt you put in your pasta cooking water and whether you use fish sauce.

Vegetarian: Leave out the chicken and fish sauce.