For the Mr. and I, we are the ultra sappy couple that believes everyday is Valentine’s Day, and therefore do not really partake in the actual holiday, Hallmark style. HOWEVER, this year, we did get matching ♥Love♥ tattoos to commemorate and celebrate our Love (cue the (non-dairy) cheesy Michael Bolton music). I could certainly dedicate an entire post, or section for that matter, on our tattoos, but not today. We have been looking for a new artist to permanently mark us after our last guy up and moved to Alaska…
A month or so ago, I saw a story on the local news about a tattoo studio that had a tattoo event with all money going towards the largest no-kill animal shelter in the country, located in Austin, and was so appreciative of their love and passion for the cause that I did some research on the studio and the owner/artist. I have been putting my next, ultra-epic tattoo together in my head for some time now, and was notified that this tattoo studio was going to hold a Valentine’s Day event (choose a 2×2″ tattoo for a flat-rate of $45) and thought this was an ideal opportunity to check the place out, see if we felt comfortable with the artist etc. What would we lose? Possibly $45 on a crummy micro-sized tattoo… Alright! So, I asked the Mr. if he wanted to do something fun and different for the holiday we don’t celebrate, and he was totally onboard! Long story short, we went, were super impressed with the studio, (nicest, cleanest and quietist tattoo place we had ever been in) the artist’s portfolio, client reviews, and will certainly go back to have some work done. The studio is run by a husband-wife team. He does the work and she runs the house. Really great! And I, at least, am very excited to get something started.
Our Valentine’s dinner was a new recipe I was anxious to try. Lasagna Mexicana! I found the recipe in the new The Engine 2 Cookbook, but of course tailored it a bit, because, well, that is just what I do when cooking. Rarely do I make a recipe EXACTLY as stated. I will always have to add some sort of spice or spin to suit us.
This is a noodle-free Mexican lasagna that will likely satisfy even the pickiest of eaters and will appeal to omnivores as well. It is super easy and makes great leftovers. Ingredients can be cut in half to make a hearty meal for four .
- 1 large green or red bell pepper, chopped
- 1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped (optional)
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 (15oz) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
- 2 (15oz) cans fat-free vegetarian/vegan refried beans
- 2 medium tomatoes, diced
- 1 tsp chili powder
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 3-1/2 cups salsa, your favorite
- 24 corn tortillas, or more for good measure
- 2 cups corn, fresh or frozen
- Fresh cilantro, for garnish
- Hot sauce of your choice
- Sliced avocado or guacamole
- Sliced black olives
- Preheat oven to 375° F.
- In a skillet over high heat, cook the bell peppers, jalapeno, onion and garlic for about 3 minutes, until softened. Add splashes of water to prevent sticking. Add the black beans, refried beans, tomatoes, chili powder and cumin.
- Pour a generous 1 cup or so salsa in the bottom of a 9×13-inch baking pan. Cover the salsa with tortillas. Make sure to cover the entire bottom of the pan. It may be necessary to cut some of the tortillas to fit. Spread half of the bean mixture evenly over the corn tortillas. On top of the bean mixture, add a layer of tortillas. Spread the corn evenly over tortillas. Add another layer of tortillas on top of the corn.
- Continue the pattern from the beginning: Add salsa, tortillas, remaining bean mixture, tortillas, ending with remaining salsa.
- Cover the lasagna with foil and bake for about 30 minutes, or until hot throughout. Garnish with fresh cilantro, avocado/guacamole and hot sauce!
- *The lasagna will be easier to cut if you allow it to cool for about 10 minutes before serving.
Recipe courtesy of The Engine 2 Cookbook and altered by Biscuits & Bellyrubs
If you’d like to add a bit a ‘cheesy’ flavor and texture, I’d recommend:
And honestly, out of all the things I have chosen not to consume any longer, sour cream is by far the thing I miss the most. Mock sour cream is full of crappy oils; I can make a plant-based sour cream with tofu, vinegar and lemon juice, which is fine, but not really sour cream-ish… but then we decided to try this:
By golly, if unsweetened coconut yogurt doesn’t highly resemble Mexican Crema!! It is a fantastic alternative!!
But wait… there is dessert!
The Mr. and I eat a 98% Whole Food Plant-Based diet and that, in my opinion is the best, healthiest way to eat; however, 2% of the time we splurge on some vegan cheese, vegan faux meat, a baked good that uses cane sugar rather than maple syrup… ya know, a real splurge for us. And because it was a candy holiday, we chose to forgo candy and rather I made a frosted chocolate cake.
Side story… My Grandma made THE BEST chocolate cake ever. It is decadent. You should have had to seek a dealer in order to get a slice of this cake. It had been my go-to cake for major celebrations, and was always highly requested, so after going plant-based/vegan, I never felt the desire to make another chocolate cake, because there was absolutely no way that a cake, full of butter, and sugar and eggs and milk could be veganized AND hold a candle to Grandma’s cake. Nope! Well guess what, folks?! It can! And it was! The recipe I got my hands on, is OH LAWD, so good. It’d likely be top seller at a bake sale and I swear no one would ever guess it was vegan! And because I am not (completely) selfish, I will share it will y’all and beg you to give it a try.
Vegan Chocolate Cake
Rich, moist, decadent frosted chocolate cake that can be made as a two-layer or single layer 9×13-inch cake.
- 1-1/2 cups plant milk (I used unsweetened walnut milk)
- 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1-1/4 cups unsweetened applesauce
- 1/2 cup strong brewed coffee
- 2/3 cup melted coconut oil or vegetable oil
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups + 2 Tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1-1/3 cups organic cane sugar
- 1 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 cup vegan butter, softened (I use Earth Balance sticks)
- 2-1/2 – 3 cups powdered sugar
- 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/4 cup dairy-free semisweet chocolate, melted
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 cup plant milk (I used unsweetened walnut milk)
- Preheat oven to 350° F and lightly spray 2 8-inch round cake pans or 1 large rectangular pan with nonstick spray. Dust with cocoa powder.
- Mix plant milk and vinegar in a large bowl and let sit for a few minutes to curdle. In the same bowl, add oil, coffee, vanilla extract and applesauce; beat with hand mixer until frothy.
- Mix together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, and salt; add to wet mixture and beat until no large lumps remain. The batter should be smooth and creamy.
- Divide batter evenly between two round cake pans or all into one large pan.
- Bake 25-35 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cake cool completely before frosting.
- Prepare frosting by beating together all ingredients until light and fluffy, adding more powdered sugar until desired sweetness. If it frosting becomes too thick, add a bit more plant milk.
- Frost cake(s) and store in the refrigerator.
**I opted to make a single rectangular cake this time and halved the frosting recipe. It came out to be the perfect amount for a single-layer cake.