Monday, April 29, 2019

Mexican Layer Dip - Low Fat or Vegan

Low Fat Mexican Layer Dip
This is a popular "Snacky Dinner" at our house. And, last time I took it to a potluck, it disappeared before I could blink!

But, the real beauty of it? It takes minutes to prepare, and can be tailored to fit your dining preferences.

I use my homemade, Healthy (Fat Free) Refried Beans. They taste SO much better than the canned variety. I usually make a big batch, and keep them on hand in my freezer in meal-sized containers.

Here's the Recipe:

In your desired casserole dish, layer your ingredients, be careful as you spread the Sour Cream, put several spoons full evenly distributed over the top, then blend the little mounds together, so as not to mix the Salsa into the  Sour Cream by accident. I use the following:

Low Fat Mexican Layer Dip
Refried Beans (I use 2-3 cups in a 2 quart casserole dish)
Salsa (I use a purchased "medium" heat, and use a thin layer - like applying pizza sauce to pizza)
Sour Cream (I use Fat Free - about a cup)
Shredded Cheddar (again, I use Fat Free)
Diced Tomatoes
Sliced Black Olives (optional, of course)

But, when we make it Vegan, here's the plan:

Vegan Mexical Layer Dip
Vegan Mexican Layer Dip
Refried Beans (I use 2-3 cups in a 2 quart casserole dish)
Salsa (I use a purchased "medium" heat, and use a thin layer - like applying pizza sauce to pizza)
Finely Shredded Lettuce
Diced Tomatoes
Sliced Black Olives (optional, of course)

No matter which recipe I make, I serve it with Baked Tortilla Chips (I like Tostitos Brand). If we're at home, I also serve some Flour Tortillas & Lettuce, so we can make our own Burritos, too : )

If you'd like other Vegan and Vegetarian Mexican food ideas, check out these:
Mexican Meals for a Week

OR, for Chicken or Steak Fajitas:

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Monday, April 15, 2019

Vegan Dump Dinners - Cuban Black Beans

Vegan Dump Dinner: Cuban Black Beans
Dump dinners are great - dump everything in a gallon zipper freezer bag, label it, and toss it in the freezer. Thaw it the day before you want to eat it. On the day you choose to eat it, just pour the contents of the bag into your slow cooker, set and go. A few hours later, you have dinner.

These are perfect for busy days when you'll be coming home late and/or tired. They're also perfect for new baby time, convalescing, or those days when you need someone to cook who doesn't know your kitchen.

But, finding good, easy vegan dump dinners can be a challenge. There are lots of meaty dump dinners out there, but very few vegetarian or vegan ones. And most of those are soup. While I like soup a lot, I don't want it every meal. A little variety is good : )

This is my latest innovation - Cuban Black Beans. They can be served over rice, with crusty bread, or as Black Bean Enchiladas - rolled up in a Tortilla, covered with Enchilada Sauce, and baked (or even microwaved ; ) to warm : ) Or as Wet Burritos (aka Smothered Burritos). Scroll on down for directions for all!

Vegan Dump Dinner: Cuban Black Beans for Fill-Your-Own-Tortilla Night

Here's the plan:

Cuban Black Beans 
Label Gallon Zipper Bag and fill as follows:
3 (15 oz) cans Black Beans, drained and rinsed
1 (15 oz) can Chopped Tomatoes with Juice
1 (8 oz) can Sliced Mushrooms, drained 
1 (12 oz) Frozen Bag 3 Pepper and Onion Mix (or 1 cup each, Sliced Bell Pepper & Sliced Onion)
2 Tablespoons Homemade Taco Seasoning (or 1 envelope store-bought)
2 T water

Toss bag in Freezer. The day before you plan to enjoy this meal, put it in the fridge in a plastic box (to prevent drips) and defrost. The day you plan to eat it, put it in the slow cooker, and cook on high 3-4 hours.

Serve over Rice.

Or with Crusty Bread.

Or for a Fill-Your-Own-Tortilla night.

Or make Enchiladas: fill tortillas, top with Enchilada Sauce and bake 350 degrees, 15 minutes.

Or Wet Burritos: Instead of Enchilada Sauce, mix 1 (8oz) can Tomato Sauce with 1 1/2 to 2 Tablespoons Taco Seasoning, and use to top Tortillas which are filled with this filling. I like to line up 9 of these in a 9x13 glass casserole, for an attractive presentation. Heat in oven or Microwave.  When serving, top with Shredded Lettuce, Tomatoes, and  Avocados, if desired.

If you really love Dump Dinners, and want more Vegan options, check out these:

Vegan Dump Dinner: Curried Chickpeas over Rice

Nine Vegan & Cluten Free Dump Dinners

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Monday, April 8, 2019

Fat Free Vinaigrette and Italian Pasta Salad

Oil Free Vinaigrette & Italian Pasta Salad

Here's how you can make a wonderful Italian Pasta Salad with little or no oil.  This amazing recipe for Fat Free Vinaigrette has a flavor & mouth-feel that gives the impression that there's oil, but it's way healthier!

Pasta Salad is delicious, but the normal Pasta Salad is drenched in fat - either mayonnaise or oil. This option now becomes a healthy choice to put on your family's table.

This is a great recipe because your add-ins can come from what you have on hand- or even leftovers in the fridge! You can vary add-ins according to the taste of your family members.

I chop, cook pasta, and make sauce whenever, then combine the ingredients just before serving. This may be served either at room temperature or chilled.

I make the dressing right in a 2 cup Microwavable glass measuring cup. If you don't use a microwave, you can do the first step quickly and easily on the stove top in a saucepan.

Fat Free Vinaigrette
Combine in microwavable glass measuring cup:
1/2 Cup Water
1 teaspoon Tapioca Starch
Cook 30 seconds, stir. Repeat. Stir. Repeat. Stir.
(I find this takes 60-90 seconds total, you want it to bubble and turn clear)
Remove from heat/remove from microwave.
Next Add & Stir
1/2 Cup Red Wine Vinegar
1 teaspoon Dry Basil
1 teaspoon Sugar
1 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Minced Garlic (or 2 cloves, minced)
1 teaspoon Dijon Mustard
Stir. May be used immediately, or chilled. Stir again before using if chilling.
If you like, you may add:
1-3 teaspoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil - that still keeps the oil content VERY low compared to a normal pasta salad. 

Pasta Salad
Cook according to directions and drain.
1 pound Pasta (shapes like Shells or Bowties are nice for Pasta Salad)
Rinse several times in cold water
Add your choice of the following, according to what you have on hand. I like to choose ingredients with flavor & texture contrast - crunchy, sour, salty, sweet, beany.
Green Peas (fresh or frozen)
Sweet Corn
Chopped Fresh Tomato
Chopped Fresh Cucumber
Chopped Fresh Celery
Chopped Fresh Bell Pepper, in various colors
Snow Peas or Sugar Snap Peas
Rinsed, Drained White Beans
Black Olives, Sliced
Green Olives, Sliced
Carrots, Sliced
Chopped Onion
etc, etc, etc

Top with dressing & toss just before serving time.

Tip for dining with Omnivores:
You may choose to add the following to the portions of Omnivores:
Parmesan Cheese
Diced Ham
Diced Salami
Diced or Shredded Chicken

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Monday, April 1, 2019

Vegan Dump Dinner - Curried Chickpeas Over Rice

Vegan Dump Dinner - Curried Chickpeas over Rice
I love the concept of Dump Dinners. I love making them! You just dump everything in a gallon freezer bag in a few minutes and pop it in your freezer. The day before you cook, pull it down the the refrigerator to thaw overnight. Then, on serving day, pour everything into the Slow Cooker (I use a Rival brand Crock Pot).

Unfortunately, many "Dump Dinners" you find on the internet are simply meat, meat and more meat. Often they're not dinners at all - only meat. I've actually seen many that are nothing more than a lonely hamburger! You still have to make the REST of the meal on serving day!

It's nice to have a few vegan options for your freezer : )

These are wonderful for busy nights,  or for a night when you need provide something easy for someone else to prepare (kids, grandma - whomever) while you're out of town or convalescing.

But also they're great to share with a vegan friend, or an Orthodox Christian friend during Lent or Advent. If you know a family with a new baby or some other need, this is a great meal to drop by : )

If you're Gluten Free, make sure all the ingredients you choose for this recipe are Gluten Free. Regular Soy Sauce contains Gluten, but Kikkoman makes one with a blue label that is Gluten Free.

A while back, I wrote a post of 9 Vegan Dump Dinners (that could be made in about 1 1/2 hours) - and it was a huge hit.

Well, today, I just discovered that another one of my family recipes makes a great dump dinner!

It's SOOO quick & easy to fix!

Curried Chickpeas
Pour into Freezer Bag
1 teaspoon to 1 Tablespoon Oil
1 Onion, thinly sliced in rings or crescents
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
1 Tablespoon Curry Powder *
½ cup water (a little more if you need a longer cooking time)
3 (16 ounce) cans Chickpeas, drained (or 4 1/2 cups home-prepared)
5 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
2 T Soy Sauce
1 ½ teaspoons dry Parsley (or 3 Tablespoons fresh)


Thaw overnight before cooking. The day of serving, pour into slow cooker. Cook on high 2-3 hours, or low 4-5 hours, until onions are tender. The flavors are really beautifully developed here with the slow cooking!

Serve over rice or with Flatbread.
Rice and flatbread also freeze well, so you can make these ahead, too, if you like.

Serve with Salad & Indian-style Pickles.

If you like this recipe, check out my other Vegan Dump Dinners

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