Southwestern Black Bean Chipotle Burgers

Burgers are the all american comfort food. Anywhere you go now, you can get a burger and the variety in the grocery store is abundant! Twenty years ago a vegetarian had almost no options when on a road trip. If you were a vegan you had none. You could get a gardenburger at Denny’s and that was pretty much it. Oh how times have changed! Now Burger King serves the Impossible Burger, Carl’s Jr. serves the Beyond Burger and all other restaurants seem to either have one of those or their own house made patty.

A homemade veggie patty can be both cheap and easy, let alone tasty. The possibilities are endless. This is a recipe that I like because I love the flavors of the southwest. I was born and raised in Southern California and spent so much time as a child camping and going on road trips through the Southwest. Even though I’ve spent most of my time in the Pacific Northwest as an adult, I have driven through Arizona, New Mexico and Texas several times and tasted the different cuisines depending on location. I like the basic ingredients used like chipotle, corn, and black beans. I used all purpose flour in this recipe, but it would work just as well with a gluten free flour.

TIME: 30 minutes


2 (15 ounce) cans of black beans

1 Cup of frozen white corn

1 1/2 Cups all purpose flour

1/2 Cup red onion roughly chopped

1/2 Cup carrots roughly chopped

1/4 Cup celery roughly chopped

2 cloves of garlic

1 chipotle chili in adobo sauce

1 tsp salt

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp cumin

oil for frying

YIELDS: eight, four inch patties

Using the knife blade put the onion, celery, carrots, garlic and chipotle in the food processor. Pulse until the veggies are roughly chopped.


Drain and rinse the two cans of black beans and make sure to get as much liquid out as possible before placing in the food processor. Add the salt, paprika and cumin and pulse again until the mixture is like a paste. If you were to try to form them into patties at this point they would just be sticky and wouldn’t form.

Empty the contents into a mixing bowl and fold in the corn. We want the whole kernels of corn in our patties, so that’s why I add them in after the processing. Once that is mixed well, add the flour in half a cup at a time. The mixture will still be pretty sticky but you can always add more flour if you like for consistency.


When forming the patties, it helps to flour your hands between each patty so they don’t stick to you too much. Form eight, four inch patties and set them aside.


Heat a pan on the stove with oil at medium high heat and lightly fry the patties. This should take about two to three minutes on each side. As you cook them, you will notice them firming up pretty quickly. Your burgers will be ready for you to enjoy and share with your loved ones. Serve with tomatoes, onion, pickles, lettuce or sauerkraut.



Creamy Vegan Cashew Cheese


It seems like there are thousands of cashew recipes out there to choose from, but I have my own of course. My first experience with making cashew cheese of my own was when I worked as a cook at a vegan restaurant where we made two variations of cashew cheese, one traditional and one with chipotles. We would spread it on sandwiches or put it on the inside of quesadillas. If we served nachos, we would just water it down and warm it up. The same can be done with this recipe. We also used it in conjunction with Daiya and Follow your Heart cheeses.

I was at a new vegan comfort food restaurant the other day called Vertical Diner  in Portland and I had their breakfast burrito. It was fabulous! It was filled with black beans, rice, a delicious tofu scramble and vegan sausage all wrapped up in a whole wheat tortilla with cheese sauce, red sauce and guacamole. This recipe is very similar to their cheese sauce as far as flavor but it’s just thicker. It’s very much a sauce when you first make it but it thickens after you refrigerate it and it can be used as a spread.


As soon as I made it, I steamed some broccoli that I needed to use up and lathered it in this cheese. The next day when I made a burrito bowl I put a dollop on top of the bowl and it added a creamy consistency that you would normally get from sour cream or a highly processed cheese sauce.

TIME: 10 minutes, plus two hours for soaking cashews


1 Cup raw cashews

1/2 Cup non-dairy milk

1/4 Cup nutritional yeast

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp ground mustard

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/4 tsp garlic powder

2 Tbsp lemon juice

YIELDS: 2 cups

It’s important to have a high speed blender for a recipe like this one. If you don’t have a high speed blender you may not be able to get it quite as smooth but it will still get the job done, you will just have to make sure to soak your cashews! If you’ve thought about making this ahead of time, then I recommend soaking the cashews in water, in the refrigerator overnight. You can also speed up the process by pouring hot water over them and soaking anywhere from half an hour to two hours.

The process is simple. If you’ve soaked the cashews, make sure to strain them well, there is already plenty of liquid in this recipe with the milk and lemon juice.

Throw all of the ingredients in your blender and blend to a smooth consistency. Like I said, the smoothness of your cheese will be dependant on the blender that you have, but don’t be afraid to experiment with what your blender can do.


Use this cheese as a sauce when you first make it or as a spread for sandwiches or dipping chips or veggies once it’s been made. If you put it on something hot like a burrito bowl it will begin to soften again and act like a cheese sauce.


Indian Spiced Coconut Curry Soup


Even though it’s August and therefore very hot outside, sometimes I still crave soup. I figure people in hot climates all over the world eat soup year round so why should I be any different. Usually my favorite soups contain coconut milk and some kind of curry. I’ve never had a curry I didn’t like. I even had curry at a Chinese restaurant the other day when I was visiting my Aunt in Los Angeles. I don’t think I’ve ever had Chinese curry but it was amazing! In fact, I may have to attempt one of my own. One of the nice things about LA is the number of truly authentic ethnic restaurants. I miss having that amount of good food around every corner.


So here I am sitting in my very hot, non air conditioned apartment, thinking about curry. I have a can of coconut milk in my pantry, some vegetable broth and chickpeas. In my fridge I have garnet yams and some tomatoes on the counter that are about to become over-ripe. So what do you do when you have different ingredients and something that needs to be used before it goes bad? You make soup!

Here’s my version of an Indian curry soup that I made with some super yummy Indian curry powder that I got from work.

TIME: 30 minutes


2 Tablespoons coconut oil

1 Cup yellow onion diced

2 cloves garlic minced

1 Tablespoon ginger minced

1/2 Cup red bell pepper diced

1 Tablespoon jalepeño

2 Cups diced tomato

1.5 Cups garnet yams

13.5 ounce can of coconut milk

32 ounces of vegetable broth

15 ounce can of chickpeas

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 Tablespoons curry powder

cilantro to garnish

YIELDS: 8 cups

Heat coconut oil in a large sauce pan on medium high heat and add garlic and onions. Cook until onions become translucent and mix in ginger until aromatic or for about 30 seconds. Add bell pepper and jalepeño and cook for another couple of moments or until the bell pepper is soft.


Pour in vegetable broth, coconut milk, chickpeas, yams and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Once it comes to a boil, stir in curry and salt and reduce to a simmer. After about ten minutes the yams should be soft and cooked through, if they aren’t, keep it simmering until the are done.

Serve with cilantro to garnish!


Jackfruit Carnitas


Two years ago I didn’t even know what jackfruit was. My first experience with this versatile fruit was at a vegan restaurant that I worked at. We made jackfruit tacos, enchiladas, soups and we even used it to substitute seafood like tuna or crab. Since then I have moved on to working in another kitchen that doesn’t offer jackfruit as a vegetarian option and usually uses only tempeh or tofu. So when we had a taco day the other day and had tempeh once again, I started dreaming of the jackfruit tacos I used to eat so often. The meat option that day was carnitas, so I decided to go home and make some carnitas of my own with the two cans I jackfruit I had in my pantry.


If you can’t find jackfruit at your regular supermarket in the Asian section or with canned fruits or vegetables, you will always be able to find it at any Asian supermarket. Jackfruit is originally from India and Southeast Asia but is also very popular in Brazil and other South American countries. It is the largest fruit in the world and can grow to be 80 pounds. I haven’t personally had a ripe or fresh jackfruit but I hear it tastes like Juicy fruit, Yummmy! For savory dishes you want to make sure you buy the green fruit in brine.


When you open the can and strain it you can either break it apart with you fingers for a very shredded look or you can just break it up in the frying pan with a sharp spatula. As it warms up it will become easier to break apart.


Here is my recipe for jackfruit carnitas. I tried to keep it as authentic as possible to the original pork recipes by simmering it in orange juice. Not only is jackfruit super low in calories, you also don’t have to spend hours cooking it on the stove like the meat version.

TIME:  30 minutes


Two 20 ounce cans of green jackfruit in brine

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1 medium yellow onion diced

3 cloves of garlic minced

2 serrano chili peppers

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 tablespoon nutritional yeast

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 cup of orange juice

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke


Start by dicing your onion and garlic and sauté over medium heat in the coconut oil until they become translucent and then add your serrano chilies. Make sure to deseed the chilies unless you really want some spicy food! If you can’t get serrano chilies, you can always substitute with jalapeños.

Next add your jackfruit and heat about five minutes or until it gets nice and hot. If you haven’t already started shredding the jackfruit when you removed it from the can, you can start now by using the edge of you spatula. As it gets warmer, it will get easier. Don’t worry about getting it completely shredded, the tougher parts will add texture to your dish.


Next add orange juice, soy sauce and liquid smoke and mix well. Add remaining ingredients and mix well again so they are evenly distributed. Let the jackfruit sit and simmer in the pan until all the liquid has dried up. I like to leave it on a little longer to brown the outside.


Serve your finished vegan jackfruit carnitas by serving on corn tortillas with cilantro and avocados and your favorite salsa.


Panko Crusted Spaghetti Squash Casserole

TIME: 1 hour                                                                                                                                                 


1 Medium Spaghetti Squash

1 Teaspoon Salt

1/2 Teaspoon Fresh Thyme, minced

1 Cup Whole Milk Ricotta Cheese

1/4 Cup Freshly Grated Parmesan

1/4 Cup Panko Bread Crumbs

Cut Spaghetti Squash lengthwise with a sharp knife and scoop out the seeds and other loose filling so all that is left is the firm meat. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease baking dish as well as the inside of the squash. I used coconut oil cooking spray so I could evenly distribute the oil without using too much. This also helps keep the calories down since this is a very healthy substitute to other very fatty casseroles. Place the squash flesh side down on the baking dish and place in the oven for about 40 minutes. Check to see that it is fully cooked by sticking with a fork. If the fork goes in easily, it is ready to come out, if not, leave in for another 5 to 10 minutes or until forks slides in easily.

Once the squash cools enough to handle, scoop out the flesh and place in the mixing bowl. Mix in the Ricotta cheese, thyme and salt and mix well.

Lightly grease a 9×9 inch casserole dish and pour the squash mixture. Grate the Parmesan Cheese and evenly cover the casserole. On top of the parmesan evenly cover the casserole with the panko crumbs.

Place in the preheated oven at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Turn oven to broiler setting and broil for two minutes or so, watching very carefully as the panko crumbs brown. Don’t let them burn. Remove immediately after they turn golden.


Chipotle Corn Chowder

Now that fall is finally here, it’s time to start eating warm soups again on chilly nights. It’s time to start cooking with the famous fall harvest vegetables too, like corn! I made this soup so it would be spicy and warming and using one of my favorite fall crops. A cup of this soup is not an appetizer but rather an entree. It will fill you up and give you enough energy to get through the season of preparing for Halloween, cooking for Thanksgiving and shopping for Christmas.

TIME:  30 minutes


oil for sauteeing

3 cups of water

2 cups of yellow onion diced (about 1 large onion)

2 large cloves of garlic minced

1 cup of celery chopped

3 cups of Yukon Gold potatoes cut into half inch cubes

1 chipotle from a can in adobo sauce

1 16 ounce pack of frozen corn or 2 cups of fresh corn

1 cup non dairy milk

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

parsley for garnish

YIELDS: 8 cups

Heat oil at medium high heat and saute onions, garlic and celery for about five minutes or until the onions become slightly translucent and the celery has begun to soften.

Add the potatoes, corn, water, salt and pepper and cover. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for about fifteen minutes or until the potatoes and soft.

Place about 3 cups of the soup in the blender or food processor along with the chipotle chili and non dairy milk and roughly blend.

Mix with the remaining soup and serve immediately. Garnish with parsley or cilantro for a more southwestern flavor.