Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Vegetarian Options and Homemade Taco Seasoning

So, I have mentioned a few times that my 18 year old daughter has chosen the vegetarian's diet, and this often requires some creative thinking on my meal-planning-part.  It doesn't bother me at all that she has decided meat needs to be omitted from her life.  In fact because of it, we have all cut down on the amount of meat we consume.  We don't think it is wrong to eat meat, not at all, but we have noticed that many of our stomach woes were a direct result of certain kinds of meat... namely the ever delicious red meat.

And while I still adore a medium rare, thick cut, filet mignon...It happens more like once or twice a year instead of once or twice a month.

As a result, I have reworked some favorite meals and added new ones with my daughter's input to my repertoire of recipes, and I thought there might be a few friends who could use some good ideas for great tasting, easy to make, vegetarian (not vegan) meals.

Note: All of these vegetarian dishes have a distinct "Mexican" feel to them or at the very least a "Southwestern" theme.  Because I use these spices so frequently together, I make my own Taco Seasoning... and I'm terrible at measuring.  Basically, I use an empty Parmesan Cheese bottle and fill it with:

Homemade Taco Seasoning

  • one bottle chili powder
  • one bottle ground cumin
  • plenty of diced onions
  • enough garlic powder
  • a show of paprika
  • salt
  • pepper
Looks a little like sand art.  Now shake it all up and there ya go.  Handy dandy Taco Seasoning.

Southwestern Egg Rolls and Avocado Dip

Mix the following ingredients in a large bowl:

  • 1 boxed package of frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1 can corn
  • 1 can black beans
  • 2 cups cheddar cheese
  • half a small onion finely minced (or a small palm full of dried minced onions will work)
  • 1 small can diced green chilis
  • 1 TBS lime juice (more if you like)
  • 1 TBS cilantro from a tube... you're welcome to cut up fresh, but I always have this on hand and it is easy!
  • Taco Seasoning to your taste.
  • 1 package of egg roll wrappers.  I get mine in the veggie section of the produce aisle.

You can make this ahead of time, but if you refrigerate it... just remember to adjust your baking time to compensate for cold filling.

Fill egg roll wrappers and roll.  The package should show how to fold. Spray your cookie tray with Pam and put your egg rolls on as soon as you make them.  I like to spray the egg rolls a little with the Pam spray.  You could also use oil from an oil spritzer (like from pampered chef).
Bake in a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes.  Flip, then cook another 10-15.
 If refrigerated, flip and cook another 10 minutes.

Avocado Dip

  • 1 Avocado mashed
  • 1/4 cup Ranch dressing
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt (or sour cream)
  • A shake or two of taco seasoning
  • 1 tsp cilantro
  • 1 tsp lime juice
  • 1/2  tsp agave nectar

I use my immersion blender and mix all this in a small bowl.  It can be done with a sturdy whisk, I would imagine.

TIP:  I usually serve this with some Lime and Cilantro Basamati Rice.  Basamati Rice smells like popped corn as you cook it.  It is our favorite rice. Just cook the rice as the package says, drain, then add about a TBS of lime juice and as much cilantro as you can handle :).

Emily's Favorite Rice Dish

This was discovered while being the guests at a friend's home in Colorado.  She made this and we all fell in love with it.  Especially the Basamati Rice.

Bring to boil 6 cups of water.  Add 1 cup of Basamati Rice and reduce heat to low boil/simmer.  Let this simmer uncovered for 12 minutes. The rice will not absorb all the water, so you'll need to drain it.  Set it aside and let cool.


  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 Avocado cut into chunks
  • 1 ripe mango peeled and cut into chunks (sometimes we just use canned pineapple chunks or canned mandarin orange slices)
  • 1 TBS lime juice
  • 1 TBS cilantro from a tube (told you I used this a lot)
  • pinch of salt
  • Basamati Rice

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl.  That's it.  Serve as a side or as a light meal.

Black Bean Burgers

  • 1 can black beans drained, but not rinsed
  • 1/2 can garbonzo (chick peas) drained but not rinsed
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 1/4 cup diced pepper
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 TBS cilantro from a tube

Put all ingredients into a bowl and use either a potato masher or a pastry utensil to mash together.  Sometimes I reserve a few of the black beans to stir in whole.  Shape into "burgers" and fry in a pan on med. high heat with a couple TBS. of hot oil.  A few minutes on each side should do the trick.  I also wrap these individually and put them in the fridge ahead of time.  Just add a few minutes cooking time to ensure they are heated through.

TIP: Really great with some hummus spread on a toasted ciabatta roll.  Add a thickly sliced tomato, some sturdy kale and voila!


  1. Thanks for sharing this! I'll try them on Emily. She is such a sweetie! Hope all is well with you and your family. Blessings.....Sue B.

  2. You are welcome. Thank you for taking care of our girl. We miss her so much, but we are thankful for you and your family.


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