Vegetarian Mexican Casserole with Quinoa

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I’ve been looking for meat-free entrees that my daughter will eat – not so easy! But she does love beans and Mexican seasoning, so I melded together a few different versions of Mexican lasagna in the hopes that she would eat it – and that it would provide some nutritional value.

And it worked! The thing I like best about this is that the next day, the corn tortillas soaked up the juices and became almost tamale like.

Vegetarian Mexican Casserole

vegetarian-mexican-cassarole

1/2 cup quinoa
1 cup water
Bullion, dried cilantro, avocado oil

Cook the quinoa with water, bullion, cilantro, oil. Let it cool.

1 onion, diced
chopped garlic
Taco seasoning
1 zucchini, chopped into thin slices then into 4 pieces
3 cups diced tomatoes – basically 3 very large tomatoes
1 15 oz can of pinto beans
30 oz can of refried black beens
Lime juice
Mild salsa
1 cup corn
Enchilada sauce
1 pound grated cheddar cheese
10 corn tortillas

Turn oven onto 375 degrees.

Cook the quinoa with the water, bullion, dried cilantro and a half a teaspoon of avocado oil.

Fry 1/2 the onion with some chopped garlic and avocado oil, add the chopped zucchini and some taco seasoning, stir, add some water. Cook off the water, but don’t let the zucchini get mushy. Pour the zucchini into a bowl, use the same pan for:

Fry 1/2 the onion with some chopped garlic and avocado oil, then add the diced tomatoes and taco seasoning. Cook down the tomatoes, add a dash of corn starch to thicken. Let boil, then take off the heat. Pour the tomatoes into another bowl, use the same pan for:

Add the refried beans, head up with some lime juice, add some mild salsa.

Mix the corn and pinto beans in a microwave safe bowl, add some salsa and dried cilantro, head in the microwave to cook the corn to firm but not mushy.

Pour a small amount of salsa into the bottom of a lasagna pan. Layer corn tortillas onto the bottom, rip the tortillas to pretty much take up all of the bottom of the pan. Put in all the quinoa in a layer. Add a thin layer of the tomatoes on top, then the corn and pinto beans. Then 1/2 the grated cheese. Then another layer of corn tortillas, the refried beans, the zucchini, the rest of the tomatoes, then some enchilada sauce, then the rest of the cheese.

Cover with foil, bake for 20 minutes, take off foil, bake for another 20 minutes.

Lazy gin fizz

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Continuing with my theme of simple gin drinks (see the lazy aviation recipe here), I use San Pellegrino sodas, gin and bitters to make a simple, sweet citrus drink.

Lazy Gin Fizz recipe

2 ounces gin
4 ounces San Pellegrino Limonata or Aranciata Rossa soda
2 drops Angostura Orange Bitters

Pour the gin and San Pellegrino soda into a glass with ice. Drop in the bitters. Stir and enjoy!

Cioppino recipe I made for Christmas Eve

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I’ve made cioppino, a San Francisco favorite, for a few Christmas Eve’s recently. Cioppino is a seafood stew with a tomato base, and usually has a white fish (in this case halibut), some shellfish and crab. It’s hearty, warm and, other than all the chopping, pretty easy to make. Plus, it pairs well with a light red wine like a pinot noir, so it’s perfect for the holidays.

It’s pronounced “cho pinot” and I can never spell it!

I’ve adapted this recipe after experimenting with it several times. The novel ingredient, at least in my mind, is the fennel. It’s not something that I cook with usually, and has a strong smell/flavor that really blends into the stew in a way that I wouldn’t expect.

Here is the cioppino recipe:

Cioppino (seafood stew) recipe

As much butter and olive oil as you want – maybe 2 tbsp of butter and 2 tbsp olive oil
1 medium-sized yellow onion, chopped (see below for how big for all chopped ingredients)
2 medium-sized carrots, peeled & chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 small shallots, chopped (you can use 1 leek instead, but I had shallots)
1⁄2 small fennel bulb, chopped (also called star anise in some grocery stores, although trying to read about the difference between star anise and fennel gets pretty confusing)
2 28-oz. cans/boxes crushed Italian tomatoes
4 tbsp. tomato paste
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. dried oregano (I used 3 tsp of fresh)
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. dried basil (I used 3 tsp of fresh)
2 pinches cayenne (I did not put this in because my kid can’t handle it, but I recommend it)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup red wine, I used a pinot (make sure the red wine goes with fish! I try the wine with a shrimp before adding to make sure it doesn’t give off a fishy/metallic taste with the fish).
1 can fish stock or clam juice or clam stock (make sure you don’t use asian fish sauce, which is pretty different. And if you have to, you can use chicken or vegetable stock, but I highly recommend a seafood stock)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3/4 lbs. halibut filet, cut into 3/4 inch or 1 inch pieces
1/4 lbs sea scallops
1/4 large shrimp, peeled & deveined (you can also use cooked, which you’ll add later in the cooking process, just to warm)
1 lb oz. cooked crab (the crab is pretty important. You can use a tin of already done crab meat, or since I’m in the San Francisco area, I usually use Dungeness crab. This year I used King crab because the Dungeness wasn’t available). Deshell the crab into big pieces.
1/4 lbs clams or muscles
1⁄2 bunch parsley, chopped

Everything that is chopped should be just over diced in size – about 1/3 of an inch square.

In a large pot, heat the oil and the butter over medium heat. Add the onions and celery and cook, stirring often, for 2 minutes (the onions should not yet bet translucent, but should be getting softer). Add the carrots, peppers, shallots (or leek), and fennel and cook on medium heat, stirring often, for about 8 minutes. Pour in the crushed tomatoes, stir. Then add the tomato paste, bay leaves, oregano, thyme, basil, wine, fish/clam stock, and cayenne (optional) and season to taste with salt and pepper. Increase the head to bring the pot to a boil, then, stir and reduce the heat to low. Simmer the pot for 30 minutes to 2 hours (the longer the better, as the flavors will meld).

Add the clams or mussels to the cooking liquid. Cover and cook until the clams and mussels begin to open, about 5 minutes. Add the shrimp, scallops and fish. (Some cioppino recipes pan fry the shrimp, scallops and fish prior to adding to the stew, but I like to let them cook in the liquid to soak up the flavors). Simmer gently, stirring often) until the fish and shrimp are just cooked through, and the clams are completely open, add the cooked crab and cook about 5 minutes longer (discard any clams and mussels that do not open). Season the soup, to taste, with more salt and pepper.

Add pinch of chopped parsley to each bowl of cioppino, and serve with garlic bread.

So, that’s Healy Jones’ holiday cioppino recipe.

Lazy Aviation Recipe

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I happen to love gin drinks, and the Aviation is a favorite. Lemon, gin, maraschino liqueur, crème de violette and a maraschino cherry. Incredibly refreshing.

However, I don’t always have fresh lemons on hand, and even if I do, I can be lazy. So I’ve come up with a pretty darn good aviation recipe that uses San Pellegrino Limonata soda.

Lazy Aviation Cocktail

Lazy Aviation Cocktail – substitutes out fresh lemon juice

Lazy Aviation Cocktail Recipe

1 1/2 ounces gin
1 ounce San Pellegrino Limonata (lemon) soda, chilled
3/4 ounces maraschino liqueur
1/4 ounce crème de violette
1 maraschino cherry – the sweet ones you loved when you were a kid!

Pour the gin, maraschino liqueur and crème de violette into a shaker, over ice. Shake until chilled.

Add the San Pellegrino soda to the shaker, stir lightly (don’t shake, the soda will foam up like crazy and make a mess)

Drop the maraschino cherry into a martini glass. Maybe just a drop of the sweet syrup that’s in the cherry jar too…

Pour the liquor mix into the glass.

Optional: I sometimes hold back the crème de violette and pour it into the glass first, then add the other liquor on top with a slow pour. The best bartenders often layer on the liquors in their Aviation cocktails… making it look like a sunrise when you are on a plane.

There you go – an original cocktail recipe by Healy Jones.

Homemade Taco Seasoning Recipe

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I haven’t posted any recipes recently, but that doesn’t mean that I haven’t been cooking! Here is a taco seasoning recipe I like to make. It seems spicy given the large amount of chili power, but it’s not – most toddlers can handle it easily. And you can add 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper if you want to make it have real heat.

Also note that I’m a big cumin fan, so this may be more cumin heavy that what you are used to. If you aren’t sure, use 1 teaspoon vs. two.

Healy Jones’ Homemade Taco Seasoning

1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon dried epazote (substitute oregano if you don’t have epazote, which is available in most Mexican groceries and Whole Foods.)
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt (use lemon salt if cooking for fish)
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoon dried cilantro

Simply mix all of these spices together, then use as a rub on the grill or add to ground beef when cooking on the stove.