Category Archives: Mexican

Vegan “Cheese” Sauce and Garlic Aioli

I made another yummy taco salad last weekend. I had a house guest staying so I thought it would be a good opportunity to try out some new recipes … you know, give “Tom” a break from being the only taste tester. The new recipes we sampled were vegan taco “meat”, vegan “cheese” sauce and a cashew garlic aioli. All were pretty good, but the cheese sauce and the aioli were outstanding!

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The cheese sauce is made from potatoes and carrots! I found the recipe on A Dash of Compassion. Here it is:

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Vegan “Cheese” Sauce

(adapted from A Dash of Compassion’s Easy Vegan Cheese Sauce – http://www.adashofcompassion.com/2016/06/my-favourite-taco-salad-with-spicy-lentils-and-easy-vegan-cheese-sauce/)

Serve the cheese sauce with this taco salad or make nachos or however and wherever a cheese sauce goes in your world! 

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2 cups peeled and chopped potatoes (about 4 or 5 medium sized potatoes)

3/4 cup chopped carrots (about 1 large and 1 small or 2 medium carrots)

1/2 cup nutritional yeast

1/3 cup sunflower oil

1/3 cup water

1 tbsp. lemon juice

1 1/2 tsps. salt

Cook the potatoes and carrots together until very soft. Drain, rinse with cold water, set aside to cool a bit. Combine everything in a saucepan and blend with an immersion blender. Add more water, 1 tbsp. at a time, if needed to make a pourable sauce. (I added 2 tbsps. water).

Cashew Garlic Aioli

(adapted from Vegan Heaven’s Vegan Sour Cream – http://veganheaven.org/recipe/vegan-taco-salad-lentil-walnut-meat/)

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Use this aioli anywhere you would use sour cream or mayonnaise. We ate it as a dip for fresh-from-the-garden vegetables and as one of the condiments for the taco salad.

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1/2 cup cashews, soaked overnight or soaked for an hour in boiling water

2 tbsps. lemon juice

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 cup + water

Drain the cashews from their soaking water. Put cashews, lemon juice and garlic in a blender. Blend for about a minute. Add 1/4 cup water and blend again. Add more water, 1 tbsp. at a time, to the blender in order to get the sauce to blend freely, but not so much to make the sauce too runny. Blend for 5 minutes in total to get a smooth sauce.

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Dinner Party Extrodinaire!

“Tom” and I just finished hosting a great dinner party. It was such a relief to get this party going because it was prefaced by organizational challenges – procrastination, rescheduling, commitment, on again, off again. Usually our little gang of dinner partyers has our dinners scheduled ahead of time, but not this time for some reason. Funny thing is I’ve had the menu planned for months! So once we nailed down a date, I was raring to go! Here is the menu:

Cauliflower Ceviche *

Mexican Fiesta Taco Salad with Cilantro Cashew Cream *

Slow Cooker Refried Beans *

Chocolate Mousse – Strawberry-Cherry Parfaits *

fresh fruit (watermelon and cherries)

* see below for recipes

You can find the recipes for the Taco Salad and the Chocolate Mousse on my blog – see links above.

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Cauliflower Ceviche

(adapted from Dora’s Table’s Cauliflower Ceviche)

1 head of cauliflower, cut into florets

1 cup of diced tomatoes

1 cup of peeled, seeded, chopped cucumber

1/2 Serrano pepper, minced

1/2 cup finely chopped onion

1 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro

3 tbsp fresh lime juice

1 tsp (or more) salt

Put the cauliflower florets into a pot of boiling water and simmer for 2 minutes. Drain and immediately plunge into a big bowl of cold water. When cool, chop finely. (I threw the cauliflower into my mini-food processor to chop). Put all the chopped vegetables in a big bowl, add the cilantro, lime juice and salt and mix together. Let marinate for at least 30 minutes. We ate this with tortilla chips and alongside the taco salad as a kind of salsa.

This was the first time I made this dish. It was pretty good and was well received, but I think the next time I make it I will take it up a notch. I only put 1/2 a Serrano pepper in because I wanted to be careful about the heat, but I could easily have put the whole thing in. (You just never know with peppers … you can get a super fiery one or a fairly mild one)! Also, the dish needs more lime juice or vinegar or something to up the tangy taste. This will make the dish more liquidy, but after marinating, the ceviche could be transferred to another bowl leaving the excess liquid behind.

Cilantro Cashew Cream (This stuff is crazy delicious!)

(adapted from Oh She Glows’ Cilantro Lime Garlic Cashew Sauce)

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3/4 cup cashews, soaked overnight

1/2 cup fresh cilantro

1 large garlic clove, minced

3 tbsps. fresh lime juice (the juice of 1 whole lime)

2 tbsps. avocado

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 cup water

Drain the soaking water from the cashews. Through everything into the blender and blend for 2 or 3 minutes. Stop, scrape down the sides and blend for another 2 or 3 minutes. (Unless you have a high powered blender then you can blend it until smooth in 2 minutes).

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Slow Cooker Refried Beans

(my own recipe)

image2 cups dry pinto beans, thoroughly rinsed and drained

1 small onion, diced

4 or 5 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp hickory black pepper, if you have it, otherwise use plain black pepper

1 tsp chipotle paste (I make paste by throwing a can of chipotle peppers in adobe sauce through the blender, then I store the paste in a jar in the fridge)

5 cups vegetable broth

Throw everything in the slow cooker and cook on high for 5 hours. Turn to low, coarsely mash the beans in the pot with a potato masher, and keep warm in the slow cooker until ready to use. I stirred a tsp of hickory smoked salt in just before serving. (The refried beans will probably be a bit runny. When they cool down, they thicken up. You can also reduce the liquid in the slow cooker by 1/2.)

Strawberry-Cherry Parfaits

(makes 5 servings)

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1 recipe chocolate mousse

2 cups strawberries

2 cups halved, pitted cherries

2 tbsp maple syrup

5 cherries with stem attached

Make the chocolate mousse ahead of time and leave in fridge to set for a few hours. Put the strawberries in a small saucepan over medium to low heat and add the maple syrup. Bring to low boil then let simmer for 30 minutes. Put the cherries in a small saucepan and heat over medium to low heat. Bring to low boil and let simmer for 20 minutes.

In parfait glasses (I don’t have parfait glasses so I used wine glasses), begin the layering process. Set out the glasses, and put a layer of chocolate mousse in each. Then put in a layer of strawberry compote, another layer of chocolate mousse, then a layer of cherry compote, and finish with a layer of chocolate mousse. Of course, you need to put a cherry on top!

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Looks like a mess when it’s all on the plate, but don’t let that fool you! It was all dee-licious!

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Vegan Queso

I feel like the Cat in the Hat!

Why?

Because the Cat in the Hat says, “Look at me! Look at me now! It is fun to have fun, but you have to know how!”

And that’s what I’m saying right now! Look at me! Look at me now! I’m posting on my blog for the second day in a row!

(Of course, when the Cat in the Hat said it, he was balancing a cup and some cake and some books and a fish and lots of other things!)

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So, yeah, I’m posting another recipe today. This one is for vegan queso. You know, I’d never heard of queso until I became a vegan! Until I started reading and subscribing to other food blogs. Since then I’ve learned that Americans (that is, people from the U.S. of America) really like queso! Even vegans! Traditional queso is a cheese sauce, so creative vegan queso lovers have invented all kinds of cheeseless queso recipes. While I was looking for a Mexican flavoured appetizer to kick off a dinner party that I’m about to host, I came across this interesting take on queso on Minimalist Baker (http://minimalistbaker.com/cashew-less-vegan-queso/).

I made this queso tonight and I thought it was really tasty. I just ate some with tortilla chips, but I’m thinking of using it to make nachos – chips on a pan, a layer of queso, a layer of diced tomatoes, green onions, black olives, jalapenos, repeat layers, broil lightly, eat. I’m also wondering if I could use it for a pasta sauce.

Vegan Queso

(slightly adapted from Minimalist Baker’s Cashew-Less Vegan Queso)

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about 1/2 medium sized eggplant, cut into 1/4 inch thick rounds (Unusual ingredient, that’s for sure! Whether you like or don’t like eggplant, you’ll really like this queso! I know because I taste tested it on an eggplant hater!)

salt

olive oil

1 1/2 cups unsweetened almond milk

3 tbsps. nutritional yeast

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 tsp cumin

1 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

2 + 1 tsp cornstarch

Sprinkle the eggplant rounds on both sides with salt and leave to drain in a colander for 15 minutes. Rinse with cold water, pat dry and lay out on a lightly greased baking pan. Brush a little olive oil on the eggplant rounds. Broil on high close to the top of the oven for about 4 minutes, then flip and broil for another 4 minutes. Don’t let the eggplant burn. Broil to a golden-brown colour. Transfer rounds to some foil, loosely wrap and let steam for a couple of minutes. Peel off the eggplant skin. The broiled, skinned eggplant rounds, packed into a 1 cup measuring cup, should fill the cup.

Put the eggplant rounds, milk, yeast, garlic, cumin, chili powder, smoked paprika and 2 tsps. cornstarch into a blender and blend on high for 2 to 5 minutes (depending on how powerful your blender is) until smooth and creamy.

Transfer to a saucepan and warm over medium heat, stirring slowly. It will start to thicken and bubble (watch out for those bubbles!). If it doesn’t seem thick enough after 3+ minutes, mix the remaining 1 tsp of cornstarch with a splash of almond milk and a couple of tbsps. of the queso until smooth then stir into the saucepan. Keep cooking and stirring until thick.

Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.

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Next time I make this, I will roast the eggplant whole, then scrape out the inside to fill 1 cup .

The original recipe calls for 1/4 cup of drained salsa to stir into the queso after it has been heated and thickened. I didn’t do this because I wanted to serve the salsa alongside the queso.

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Yummy Breakfast Bowl

I’ve been wanting to write a post about bowls for some time. You know bowls … a big bowl of plant-based foods. The bowl concept has been around for a long time and was once the perview of hippies and crack-pot vegetarians. These days anyone who is a vegetarian or vegan or is trying to diminish their meat intake is getting into bowls. You can find them all over Pinterest and food blogs. But just because folks are creating them, photographing them and posting them on social media doesn’t mean they aren’t, when it comes right down to it, simple and easy and delicious and economical. You don’t need any fancy equipment or need to know any fancy cooking techniques. All you need to know is that a bowl generally consists of four elements:

  • a grain

  • a green

  • a bean/plant protein

  • a sauce

Knowing this, the world of bowls is wide open to you! To help get you started, and to get a quick post about bowls sent off (I intend to go more in depth at another time), here’s a bowl I made for my brunch today.

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This is a Mexican inspired bowl. Here’s how I made it:

  • 2 small potatoes, peeled (or not), cut in large dice (this would be the “grain” portion of the bowl)

  • 1 tsp coconut oil, melted

  • 2 large handfuls of spinach (this would be the “green” portion of the bowl)

  • 1 can of your favourite black beans (I used Rosarita Premium Seasoned Whole Black Beans – purchased in the States – I haven’t been able to find them in Vancouver) (this would be the “bean/plant protein” portion of the bowl)

  • 1 tomato, diced

  • 1/2 cup of your favourite salsa (I used Herdez) (this would be the “sauce” portion of the bowl)

  • 1/2 to 1 whole avocado, diced

  • sprinkle of salt (I used Chipotle salt from the Salt Dispensary) – optional

Toss the potatoes in the coconut oil, then roast in a 395 degree oven for 5 minutes or so, toss, roast for a further 5 minutes or so. Turn off the oven. Sprinkle the spinach over the potatoes right on the pan, put a cover on and return to the oven for 5 minutes to allow the spinach to wilt a bit. Heat the black beans in a pot on the stove until warmed through. Assemble the bowl by arranging the potato/spinach mixture on one side, a large scoop of beans beside, the tomatoes beside, the salsa beside, the avocado beside, so that everything is in the bowl, but in their separate piles. Sprinkle on the salt if using. I like to eat my bowls by stirring everything gently together, but some folks are extremely opposed to this kind of food touching business (cough-Susan-cough) so just eat it any way you like!

PS – You might notice there is no avocado in the bowl in the photo. I, sadly, was out of avocado when I made this, but would definitely have used avocado if I’d had one available so make sure you do!

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Mexican Fiesta Taco Salad

Okay, I’m posting on Thanksgiving Day (Canada), but I’d better warn you that this isn’t a Thanksgiving dinner recipe … it’s a recipe that carries a lot of thanks though! I’m so thankful that I came across this yummy recipe and I’m sharing it with you to give you thanks for reading my blog! See, it is about Thanksgiving after all!

I’ve been dying to share this Mexican dish with you for ages. This recipe was inspired by Oh My Veggies The Ultimate Vegan Taco Salad. I have made this countless times – for a family dinner party, for friends, many times just for “Tom” and I, each time a bit different and each time delicious. I’m a big fan of Mexican food and I love to find ways to spice up different combinations of plant based foods to give it a south-of-the-border (south of the USA border, that is, not south of the Canada border) taste. See my menu for a Mexican Fiesta for other Mexi taste treats.

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The original premise was to replace taco meat with something that resembles ground meat in both taste and look, but is not meat. The original recipe calls for farro to serve this purpose. Spice it up a lot and serve it with lots of fresh vegetables and beans and you’ve got a vegan taco salad. Well, I’ve made this with farro, with spelt, with short-grained brown rice, with potato cubes. I’ve used black beans, pinto beans, kidney beans, refried beans. I usually leave out the tortilla chips, sometimes serve them on the side and occasionally crumble them on top. Anyway, the variations are endless and hinge on the ingredients on hand, time, purpose and food craving of the moment! So here is the basic recipe followed by my variations/additions:

Mexican Fiesta Taco Salad

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1 cup farro, cooked *

1/2 cup mild salsa (I use Herdez)

2 tsps chili powder

2 tsps ground cumin

1/2 tsp smoked paprika

pinch cayenne pepper

salt to taste

1 head iceberg lettuce (or Romaine lettuce), shredded

1 large tomato, coarsely chopped, or several grape tomatoes, halved

1 1/2 cups cooked black beans **

1 cup corn kernels (fresh or frozen and thawed)

2 avocados

juice of 1/2 lime

2 tsps finely minced garlic

1/2 cup green onions, finely chopped

1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro

optional – crushed tortilla chips

salsa

Cook your farro in a rice cooker using 3 cups of water to one cup of  farro. Once cooked, stir in the salsa, cumin, smoked paprika, cayenne and salt. You can stir everything together right in the rice cooker. If you are cooking the farro in a pot, once the water has been absorbed and the grain is soft, stir everything straight into the pot with the farro.

Make the guacamole by scooping out the insides of the avocados into a bowl, adding in the lime juice and garlic and mashing everything together.

Assemble the salad by laying down all the lettuce on a platter. Sprinkle on the tomatoes, then the black beans, then the corn. Spread the guacamole over top (or dollop it on all over as it’s kind of hard to spread). Finally, spoon the farro all over the platter. If you want, you can sprinkle on the green onions, cilantro and crushed chips or you can serve them all on the side for diners to add to their plates/bowls as they want.

* instead of farro you can use spelt, wheat berries or short grain brown rice. You can even use potatoes – chop about 4 potatoes into little cubes, toss with a bit of oil and roast in a single layer in the oven at 400 degrees; stir in the salsa and spices.

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** use 1 can of black beans (drained and rinsed) or you can use your own homecooked beans. I cook our beans in a slow cooker on high for about 3 to 4 hours, drain, cool, dole out into freezer bags in 1 1/2 cup portions, freeze. Another option is to omit the black beans from the salad and serve some refried beans on the side. You could try this recipe for crock pot refried beans or just heat up a can of refrieds.

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Almost Instant Black Bean Soup

imageI found this soup on Beard and Bonnet as 5 Ingredient Black Bean and Salsa Soup. I love black bean soup and I make it often, usually using the recipe in Isa’s cookbook, Appetite for Reduction. When I saw this recipe on the Beard and Bonnet blog, I was interested in trying it, but rather skeptical because it had, afterall, only 5 ingredients and some of those ingredients were canned. I’m awfully glad I tried it, because it makes a very tasty soup and it is so quick and easy to make. The key to it’s tastiness is good quality salsa. We use Herdez.

image1 tsp olive oil

1/2 cup chopped green onion

2 cans organic black beans, rinsed and drained or 3 cups cooked black beans (we cook our beans in a slow cooker, about 3 hours on high, then freeze them in 1 1/2 cup quantities)

2 cups of salsa

2 cups vegetable broth

diced avocado

Heat the oil in a medium sized pot then add the onions. Saute for a few minutes, then add the beans, salsa and broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for about 15 minutes. Stick an immersion blender in the pot and give the soup a whirl for a bit. I blended the soup just enough to thicken it, but not so much that it was pureed. Serve topped with the diced avocado. (When I made this soup the other evening, it was on the table in half an hour and that even included making a salad).

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Mexican Fiesta!

Over Christmas, “Tom” and I were fortunate enough to go to Mexico for a week. We stayed in a beautiful resort on the Mayan Riviera with a large family group. This was our first visit to Mexico. Some highlights of our trip were hiking along the stretch of wild beach next to the resort,

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swimming in cenotes in the Jungle Maya,

Splash!

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attending a Mayan cleansing ceremony,

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watching Mayan dancers,

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and eating authentic Mexican food. Ah, Mexican food … I love it! And you would think a trip to Mexico would mean plenty of it … not so in our case. You see, the resorts have to cater to a wide variety of clientele and so the food choices were all over the place, but with an emphasis on what you could call “western”. I had no problem eating vegan what with all the salads and fresh fruit, but it was very difficult to find good Mexican food on the resort. There was a Mexican restaurant, but it was very meat heavy and very spice light. The main buffet had Mexican food – tortillas in green or red sauce, refried beans, fresh salsa (with no chili spice), avocado sauce – but only at breakfast.

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Our best Mexican food experience was in the Jungle Maya where we were treated to authentic Mayan cooking prepared over charcoal stoves in clay pots and pans. Yum! (Unfortunately, no photos.)

When we got home from Mexico, I knew I wanted to cook up a Mexican meal. Seeing as it was our turn to host the dinner party (see here for more info on that), I decided to do a Mexican theme.

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Here is the menu:

mojitos

make your own tacos:

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roasted chipotle cauliflower

imageroasted poblano vegie toss

“black nachos” – roasted portabello mushrooms

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refried black beans

lime rice

roasted corn rounds

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fresh salsa

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guacamole

chipotle crema

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fresh fruit

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And here’s how I made it:

 Roasted Chipotle Cauliflower

(adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod)

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1 head cauliflower, separated into florets

2 tsps. chili powder

1 tsp cumin

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp chipotle paste

juice of 1 lime

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 tbsp. water

Mix all ingredients except cauliflower together in a large bowl. Add the cauliflower florets and toss to coat all pieces. Spread the cauliflower out on a baking pan and bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, toss, bake another 10 minutes or so depending on the size of the florets. Bake until fork tender, but not too soft as they will become mushy as they cool.

Roasted Poblano Vegie Toss

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1 poblano pepper, roasted and diced

2 zucchini, cut into 6 cm long strips

2 bell peppers, diced

Roast the pepper by spraying it with oil, placing under the broiler for 5 minutes with the over door ajar. Turn the pepper over using tongs, broil for another 5 minutes, turn, another 5 minutes, etc. until blackened. Let the pepper rest for 5 minutes or so, then peel off the skin and scrape out the seeds and membrane.

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In a large pan, saute the zucchini and peppers together. As they begin to soften, add in the diced poblano pepper and saute and toss everything together.

Roasted Portabello Mushrooms – or BLACK NACHOS as “Tom” nicknamed them!

(adapted from Keepin’ It Kind)

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12 baby portabello mushrooms

2 tbsps. Bragg liquid

1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1 tsp liquid smoke

1 tsp dried thyme

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1 tbsp. chili infused olive oil

Mix all the ingredients except the mushrooms in a large bowl. Add the sliced mushrooms and toss to coat all the mushrooms. Do this quickly before the marinade is absorbed completely be the bottom layer of mushrooms only. Spread mushrooms out on a large baking pan. Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes, toss, bake for another 10 minutes.

Lime Rice

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1 cup rice of your choice (I think we used white basmati)

1 lime, zested and juiced

Cook the rice. At the end of the cooking time, stir in the zest and the juice from the lime.

Salsa

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4 plum tomatoes, finely diced

1/2 white onion, finely diced

4 stalks green onions, finely diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 bunch cilantro, chopped

1 jalapeno pepper, finely diced (seeds and membrane removed)

splash of lime juice

1/2 tsp salt

Combine everything together. Taste and adjust by adding more salt or lime juice.

Chipotle Crema

(adapted from Oh My Veggies)

3/4 cup cashews, soaked for 4 hours

1 clove garlic, minced

juice of 1 lime

1 tsp chipotle paste

1/4 cup + water

salt and pepper

Combine everything in a blender and blend until smooth. Keep adding water until you get the consistency you desire, either thick or more thinned out. Blend for at least 5 minutes.

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