• Restaurants

    OC Weekly Vegan Pop Up

    This past weekend, we went to check out this new weekly pop happening in Santa Ana, CA. It is hosted by Vegan By El Zamorano, the vegan offshoot of Taqueria El Zamorano.

    The set up is small but cozy. The event takes place in the parking lot. There is a rotating list of vendors, usually about 4-6 vendors, each week. They pretty much cover all your favorites: tacos, tamales and desserts. They have a small covered patio with picnic benches to enjoy while you fill your bellies.

    This weekend, in addition to El Zamorano, the other vendors were: Eat Yiju, Bianca’s Tamales, Sweet Vegan Delights and Nieves Exquisitas.

    Taco Plate from Vegan By El Zamorano

    Our first stop was obviously El Zamorano because tacos. We ordered a couple of each tacos and a taco plate with rice and beans. Our fave taco was the carne asada! Just the right texture and marinade, topped with delicious salsa and fresh cilantro and onion. Street taco heaven! And the beans and rice were fantastic! The beans were perfectly cooked and the rice was nice and fluffy.

     

    Next up was Eat Yiju for these gorgeous dumplings! I loved hearing about Susan’s story and how she is carrying on her families legacy through her love of dumplings. She is super rad. And her dumplings are out of this world. The dough was tender with a slight chew. And the filling was made of veggies and soyrizo which was served with red pickled cabbage. I should have ordered more. SO MANY MORE. Days later, I am still craving them!

    Yo-Soy-Rizo dumplings. OMG.

    We also checked out the tamales from Bianca’s..and totally forgot to take pictures while stuffing our faces! My fave was the Rajas tamal. Filled with chilies and cheeze, enveloped in flavorful masa, this was the clear winner! All tamales are served topped with salsa verde, a drizzle of crema and a dusting of parmesan.

    And, we ended the day with a few scoops of ice cream from Nieves Exquisitas. Technically, its is sorbet as they puree fruit, add some sugar and water and freeze. But what results is a creamy, decadent, ice cream! I kid you not. The coconut was pure and creamy and contained little flecks of coconut. My second favorite was peach-it was just like biting into a fresh peach! Nothing artificial here! I am looking forward to seeing more of them around town as they don’t have a storefront. So get them when you can!

    Peach Perfection
    Creamy Coconut

    And I can’t believe it..but we left without getting cookies. Though our friends that we were with really raved about the shortbread thumbprint cookies from Sweet Vegan Delights! They even have dog treats for your pups. Cookies all around..yay!

    We spent the rest of the afternoon hanging out with friends that trickled into the event. It was a gorgeous SoCal day and this event was a perfect way to spend the day. I loved that there was a great selection of foods and that the event was low key enough that you felt you could stay a while and hang out with friends. And hopefully hit up the vendors for round #2.

    For more info on this week’s pop up and schedule of vendors, be sure to follow Vegan by El Zamorano on IG!

    See ya there….

     

  • Meal Ideas

    Spinach & Tofu Tacos

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    Spinach & Tofu tacos topped with salsa verde and chopped cilantro.

    A local restaurant that we go to has weekly specials. One of their specials was called “Popeye’s Tacos” and my hubby loves them! There is nothing fancy about them but the flavors are so good. I decided to try to replicate these at home and they were a success! Here is what you’ll need to make them at home:

    1 Package Extra Firm Tofu, drained and pressed

    8oz Baby Spinach leaves (I used a small clamshell package but you can adjust more or less depending on your love of spinach)

    1 TBSP oil

    1 TBSP Earth Balance

    Salt

    Pepper

    Corn tortillas for serving

    Your favorite salsa (I used a salsa verde I had on hand but a red salsa would also do lovely here)

    Fresh chopped cilantro for sprinkling.

    1. Shred the tofu using a box grater. You can use a handheld grater but make sure the holes are big. Don’t attempt to use a zester, that won’t work.

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    2. Heat cast iron pan over medium high heat until hot. Once the pan is hot, add in oil and Earth Balance butter. Allow oil and butter to get to temperature.

    3. Once oil and Earth Balance are hot, drop in shredded tofu. Season with salt and pepper and give it a stir.

    4. Let the tofu cook on one side, without stirring, until you see a nice golden color and crisp form. Once you see the golden color, flip using a thin spatula. Allow to cook on second side using the same method.

    5. Once tofu is cooked, add in spinach and stir to wilt down the spinach and heat through.

    6. Fill your tortillas with the spinach and tofu mix, top with salsa and any other toppings and enjoy!

    These tacos would pair well with breakfast potatoes or rice and beans for an easy dinner!

  • Meal Ideas

    Taquitos featuring Beyond Meat

    I love that there are so many vegan meat alternatives! Everyone has their own personal favorites, too. Most of the time I cook with Gardein at home because I have found Beyond Meat a bit difficult to work with. It’s tasty when I have prepared for me but I just can’t seem to cook it right at home…until now. After a few attempts, I have found the best way to prepare it, especially for taquitos, though the possibilities are endless. Here is how I did it:

    Ingredients

    • 1 Package Beyond Meat Chicken Strips (any variety)
    • 1 Poblano chile
    • 4 cups veggie broth
    • 1/4 onion
    • 1 medium tomato
    • 1 Serrano chile
    • Salt
    • Pepper
    • Juice from 1/2 lime
    • Cilantro (about a handful)
    • Corn tortillas
    • Oil for frying
    • Garnishes i.e. guacamole, salsa verde, pico de gallo salsa, non dairy sour cream, etc.

    Directions

    1. Roast the Poblano chile on the stove top until blackened on all side. Once it’s fully blackened, wrap the chile in a cloth towel or plastic bag and allow it to sweat for 5-10 minutes. Then, peel the charred skin off the chile, remove the stem and cut a slit in the side to remove the seeds. Set aside.
    2. In a medium pot, add Beyond Meat strips, broth, tomato, onion and Serrano chile. Bring to boil. Boil until the strips are swollen and are very tender.
    3. Once the strips are ready, use a slotted spoon to remove the strips. Shred the strips using two forks until all the strips are finely shredded. Put the shredded strips into a large bowl. Set aside.
    4. Using the slotted spoon, remove the tomato, onion and serrano chile from the pot and put them in your blender jar. Add the Poblano chile, cilantro, salt and lime juice. Puree until almost smooth.
    5. Add the salsa to the shredded meat and mix thoroughly.
    6. Add oil (about an inch) to pan and heat over medium heat. While this is heating, warm up your tortillas.
    7. When tortillas are warmed, fill with meat and roll up. You’ll want to work in batches here. I usually put about 5 taquitos in my pan at once. Place the taquitos, seam side down, in the hot oil. Cook until crispy on all sides (be sure to turn them to get a uniform crisp.)
    8. Remove cooked taquitos from pan and place on paper towel to drain while you cook the rest of the taquitos.
    9. Top with your favorite garnishments and enjoy!

    This filling would work well with various recipes like tamales, enchiladas or use it as a base for other fillings.

    Enjoy!

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