Huevos con chorizo

Nothing says comfort food to me like a big Sunday breakfast of eggs with the mexican sausage ” chorizo”. This was a staple in my home back in El Paso, Texas when I was a little girl. Sunday was the day when my aunts and uncles crossed the border from Juarez, Mexico to take care of their shopping needs for the week and so they stopped at my parent’s home for the ritualistic Mexican Brunch.

One thing is certain about most Mexican food, it is SPICY, so this was no exception in my home. While my aunts and uncles heated the freshly made bread that was brought over from the little Mexican panaderias ( bakeries), my mom prepared a killer scrambled eggs with chorizo dish. And she was serious about the heat! In Mexican cooking tradition it is said that when you make something really hot and spicy, the cook was really pissed off. So the spicier the food, the angrier the cook was when it was prepared. It’s actually kind of scary if you think about it!!!

So my mom must have been a really pissed off cook but her food was so delicious that deep inside you could taste all the love that Mexican moms put into their food.

This Sunday morning  I was missing my family and our Sunday breakfasts together. And while I do not eat the chorizo sausage that I find down here in Florida, I knew that there had to be a way to bring those smoky flavors to my morning egg scramble!  A little chilli powder and some TVP (textured vegetable protein) satisfied the craving.

To make  super easy, guilt free vegetarian chorizo I simply boiled some water, added a 1/2 cup of tvp crumbles ( see picture below) and allowed that to simmer for 5 minutes. I drained the tvp into a cheesecloth lined strainer.  Once drained completely, I placed cooked tvp into a metal bowl and added various chilli powders. Since I really wanted smoky flavors I used chipotle powder, then some cayenne, cumin, ground fennel, salt, and just a tiny bit of Jamaican curry powder. I mixed well and in a non stick pan ( the one used for my eggs) I sautéed mushrooms, onions, jalapenos, and finally added some of the seasoned tvp and cooked until the tvp began to form a crust. This gave it a nice crunchy bite. Then I added my eggs and a little salt.

Wow, try those eggs with a piece Puerto Rican pan sobao ( sweet white bread), and your day will be complete!  Of course, I do miss the traditional Fresh chorizo that is made in my family’s northern Chihuahua ranch just as the pig gets slaughtered, and the vegetarian version does not compare, but I like to reserve that for those very special occasions when I get to visit them.  For now, the smoky flavors and spicy notes from the chilli will have to do. Happy Sunday!

eggs with veg chorizo

veg chorizo seared to create a crunchy crust

TVP used for veg chorizo

Orange Glazed Tofu

I was supposed to try pho for the very first time this past Thursday. I was very excited.  However,  it did not happen because that very same morning, during my long run, which is the time when I just think of what foods to make, try, create, eat, taste, I remembered that I had some oranges that desperately needed to be eaten before they went bad. They were tucked away in a dark corner of my fridge, so I decided I needed to use them for something delicious and postpone my pho indulgence until next week!

I still wanted something with Asian flavors so I made Orange Glazed tofu with sesame seeds. The sauce that I used is very similar to the sauce used for my coconut crusted tilapia, except this sauce was reduced longer until it became nice and thick.  Making this was very fun ( when is cooking not fun eh…)

Ingredients

  • Firm tofu block (cut into 1″ cubes; drained)
  • 1 tbs oil
  • Breading procedure set up ( 1/2 c white flour, 1/2 panko crumbs, 1 egg with 1 tbs water)
  • 2 tbs toasted sesame seeds

Glaze sauce

  • 1/2 c white vinegar
  • 1/8 c granulated sugar
  • 1 tbs soy sauce
  • 1/2 c orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon 5 China spice blend
  • 1/2 tbs corn starch

1. When working with firm tofu, I like to make sure that it  has been completely drained. In this case, the flavor of the sauce it very strong, so I did not find it necessary to marinate. I cubed the tofu and used a paper napkin to absorb excess moisture. I then set up my breading station and placed the tofu into the flour, patted away excess flour before dipping it in egg wash, and finally tossed it in the panko crumbs. In that order

2. I can be a health nut most of the time, so I try to avoid frying foods anytime that I can. I decided to coat a baking sheet with oil and then I lined up the breaded tofu cubes on the sheet and placed in the oven @ 350 degrees until they were nice and crispy on all sides. I checked about every 7-10 minutes to make sure there were no burning accidents and to turn the cubes to ensure equal crispness.

3. While that baked, I heated up my stainless steel pan and poured in the vinegar and sugar and wisked it until the sugar dissolved. While that was simmering, I mixed the starch into the orange juice and added in the China spices. I mixed everything very well and added it into my simmering vinegar and sugar mix.  I added my tbs of soy sauce  but more can be added to taste, i only used 1 tbs because of sodium. Finally I let it reduce down until it thickened into a glaze and when the tofu became nice and crisp, I just tossed it into the pan and let the glaze get all over it.  I then added the final touch by sprinkling some sesame seeds over the glazed tofu and served with steamed white rice. A healthier alternative to white rice can be quinoa, which is very easy to make, simply rinse it before cooking to get rid of the sour taste. Quinoa is very high in protein, it has all 9 essential amino acids found in “complete”proteins, so it is perfect for vegetarians!



The hubby really liked these, although he did suggest adding a hint of red  chili pepper paste to the sauce just to get a spicy kick. We are absolutely in love with spicy foods, so a tablespoon of the chili paste from the Asian isle in the supermarket can really take your sauce to a way spicier level! Enjoy!!

Tempeh “meat” balls

Everyone always assumes that vegetarians eat Boca, Tofurkey, or other highly processed soy products. People usually think that being a vegetarian means living a life of eternal blandness, yet, when I reduced my meat intake ( now its only limited to what I have to taste/sample in the classroom) I found that there is life beyond steak! In fact, I learned so much about myself and my creative capabilities with food. Many years ago, when food did not take up most of my thoughts, i did not know about many ingredients or flavors. I was so used to eating the same things over and over that change was not very welcome in my family’s home.  I absolutely love the Mexican flavors that I grew up with, the spicy pico de gallo and the tangy pipian sauces represent comfort food to me, however, I have always been an adventurous person, so I stepped out of my culinary comfort zone in search for something tasty and creatively unusual.

My culinary adventure eventually led me to the path that many food lovers take, the environmentally conscious eater. I feel that this path has allowed me to forget the ways that I ate in the past ( fast food many times a week, mass produced meat products, highly processed foods) and concentrate on what I eat now to secure a sustainable future for myself and future generations.

This is when I had my “aha” moment with food. I discovered that vegetables provided so many important nutrients and at the same time so many complex flavors that where not limited to their juices and fats only. I discovered that highly processed “bacon” wanna-be, or veggie bacon, or Facon, call it what you will, goes completely against everything that I vegetarian is, which is why I eliminated all veggie products from the frozen food aisle and I started to play with Tempeh.

Many people don’t know this but tempeh is soy. Although many studies suggest that consuming soy products can be harmful to the health, that is only limited to soy products that have not been fermented. As a matter of fact, people in Japan have been consuming fermented soy in forms of miso for many generations and they live a longer life and have lower cancer cases among their population. Fermented soy (Tempeh, Miso, Natto) has an exceptionally high amount of beneficial vitamin K2 which can reduce the risk of many cancers, dementia, and heart disease. Also, because of its long fermentation process, this type of soy has nutrients that can be digested by human beings.  Furthermore, and perhaps most importantly, because of this very same fermentation process, the so called “anti-nutrients’ of soy, which many opponents of soy cite for promoting health risks, are reduced in miso, tempeh, and other fermented soy products. Unfortunately soy in the United States is subject to genetic modification and pesticide exposure, so it is advised that an organic soy tempeh be used. The website Mercola.com has a wonderful article on the different soy products in the  market, along with their health risks an benefits.

Tempeh is my favorite soy product to work with because it resembles ground beef so much that I can use it to make spaghetti, chilli, and even the Mexican picadillo that I ate growing up. Of Course, the trick is to allow it to marinate, but that is the case with most protein products.

Yesterday I made delicious tempeh “meatballs”. This is what I used…..

  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 tempeh block ( crumble the tempeh into pea size chunks as shown in the picture)
  • 2 garlic cloves ( minced)
  • 2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbs balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbs Italian herb mix
  • 1 tbs flax seed mixed with 3 tbs water (this binds the whole thing together)

Blend everything together and it will resemble something similar to meatloaf. Add a pinch of salt or however much salt you like (I know some people are super tasters so they need more salt than others)

Here comes the fun part, after everything has been seasoned and mixed together, form small 1-1 1/2 inch balls. Place the tempeh balls on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes at 350 °F or until they form a brown color on the outside.

Once they are out of the oven you can toss them in BBQ sauce, sweet and sour sauce, and even marinara sauce like I did.