Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Dinner and a steamy summer read

Green enchiladas with fresh marinara sauce

If you enjoy modern day romance novels and you are looking for a great summer read while relaxing on the beach or escaping the summer heat, you will enjoy:

The Right Zip Code:  Passion Pleasure and Love on Alaska's Last Frontier by C.B. Stanton

This is pure escapism for the mature reader.  From the first word to the last, you'll be transported to the rugged  vastness of Alaska to enjoy a love story full of passion and personal discovery while learning some of the history and culture of the United States' largest state.  The lead characters have strength, tenderness and imperfections that make the story believable. This book makes you feel as though you are reading a really juicy letter from a good friend.

I have known C.B. since my childhood and am enjoying seeing her fiction writing career take off.  As a long-time family friend, I see occasional glimpses from her personal life woven into her stories especially when it comes to time spent around the dinner table.  One of the dishes mentioned in the book is a personal favorite of mine.  I had collected this recipe from her many years ago and set it aside along with many others from friends and family with the vision of one day writing a cookbook.  I dusted off the recipe card and enjoyed adapting this recipe to a vegan friendly lifestyle.  Below are both the original and vegan versions.

Green enchilada casserole

Green enchiladas

original recipe courtesy of C.B. Stanton

I only made a few changes to the original recipe so it fits a into a vegan meal menu.  The original ingredients are in parentheses.  

2 -15 ounce cans or 3 cups cooked pinto, black or kidney beans or lentils, drained and rinsed (1 lb ground beef, browned and seasoned with salt and pepper to taste)
1 small package corn tortillas or 10 homemade ones
1 1/2 - 2 cups garlic cashew cream, recipe below (small can cream of chicken soup)
1 small can chopped green chilies
1 medium onion chopped
up to 2 cups of chopped vegetables like zucchini or summer squash (optional)
1 to 1 1/2 cups grated cheese  (vegan or dairy)

Garlic cashew cream

If you have time, soak the cashews in water for up to overnight.  If you're like me, you'll be pulling this together last minute so just use the cashews dry or even soak them in warm water while you get the rest of your ingredients for the dish together.  Discard soaking water.

1 cup raw cashews (soaked in warm water for 30 minutes or more if you have time)
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
1/2 teaspoon ground sage
sea salt and pepper to taste

In a high speed blender, blend cashews, nutritional yeast and garlic with enough water to make a thick, smooth cream the consistency of thick pancake or cake batter.  Salt to taste.

To prepare the casserole
  1. Preheat over to 350 degrees F.
  2. Tear the tortillas into 4-6 pieces each
  3. In a small baking pan coated with olive oil or cooking spray, line the bottom with a layer of torn tortillas.
  4. Place a layer of half the beans over the tortillas
  5. Sprinkle half of the chopped onions, chopped green chilies and optional chopped vegetables over the beans
  6. Pour half of the cashew cream over the chopped vegetables
  7. Add the rest of the tortillas
  8. Continue layering with the rest of the beans, chopped onions, chilies and optional vegetables
  9. Top with the rest of the cashew cream
  10. Sprinkle grated cheese over the top 
  11. Bake at 350 degrees F until heated through and the cheese is melted (approximately 30 minutes)
  12. Cool slightly before serving. 
  13. Serve with a roasted tomato sauce or salsa on the side.
Thanks for reading!

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