Monday, March 12, 2012

A meatless day filled with Lentil Tacos

Please note:  I wrote this post on a Friday but forgot to post it.  : )

This song makes me happy.  Fridays make me happy.  I need happy things this week.

I went on a wonderful vacation at the beginning of this week, and really really didn't want to return to reality.  For 5 glorious days I was lucky enough to be surrounded by good family and friends on a beautiful Island full of refreshing Island breezes.
I want to live on that Island.  It makes me happy. 
Returning to the humid Houston air is always so life sucking.  Not to mention the rest of the family stayed on the Island for a few more days so I had to return home to work while they continued to vacation.  Not complaining, I am grateful, just missing the island...if you knew my island you would understand.  : )

My younger brother and sister followed in my footsteps and attended/attend my Alma Mater.  I love my Alma Mater, and as much as I loathe my student loans, I wouldn't have traded my college experience for anything.  Besides getting an incredible education, I also gained the best friends a girl could ask for.  You can't put a price tag on that.

We were on the island because my siblings were on Spring Break, and they brought a few friends from school with them.  It was so refreshing to be around these good people.  All of these people are kind, caring, and considerate.  Everyone listened, cared, and was kind.  Something that sadly is not as prominent in today's world as it should be.  Everyone chipped in and helped cook and clean the whole trip.  How many 20 something year olds do you know that don't even have to be asked to help? 

We rode our bikes on a crazy scavenger hunt, braved the winds on the beach, lived in the hot tub, soaked up the soothing rays of sun, played games until the birds fell asleep, ate good food, and watched movies. 
Perfect vacation - check.

I love being Catholic.  I love that I went to a great Catholic college.  I love that my siblings have found wonderful people to be their friends and walk beside them on this crazy journey of life. 
I love Lent.

It has been a scatter brained week, can you tell? : )
Here enters a choppy segue into my meatless meal to share with you.

To non-Catholics giving up meat on Fridays during Lent sounds so daunting and impossible...but really it isn't.  I actually look forward to my Lenten Friday meatless meals.  I sit there eating my vegetarian meals thinking..."is this really supposed to be a penance?  I am enjoying this way to much to count as suffering....what is wrong with me?"  Maybe I should strive to make meatless meals that aren't so tasty. 

Do Vegetarians take on eating meat during Lent...think about it.

Make these Lentil tacos because they are good, and also because the word "Lent" is in "Lentil" so obviously it is the best choice for a Lenten meal. : )

Lentil Tacos

Olive oil
1 onion chopped
1 tsp chopped garlic
1 whole jalapeno
2 cups dried lentils
1 cup short grain brown rice (or whatever rice you prefer)
2 cups tomato sauce*
10 cups Vegetable broth/or water
2 tsp chili powder
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1 1/4 tsp salt

Coat the bottom of a large soup pot with the olive oil and saute the onions over a medium/high heat for 2-3 minutes.  Add the garlic and whole jalapeno.  Saute 1 minute.  Add the dried lentils and brown rice.  Stir and cook for 1 minute.  Add the tomato sauce, and 1/2 of the water, and all the spices (not the salt).  Cook uncovered over medium high heat for 45 minutes-hour.  Stir every few minutes, and if the mixture is getting too thick and sticking to the bottom add more water.  Cook until lentils and rice are tender.  Then add salt.  Be vigilant with the stirring especially towards the end of the cooking as it is not a soup, but in the end will have a thick consistency like oatmeal.

Serve warm in a tortilla or taco shell and garnish with lettuce/spinach, cheese, salsa, pico, sour cream/Greek yogurt, avocado/guacamole, or cilantro.

*Alternately you can probably throw it all into a crock pot and call it a day.  I haven't tried this yet, but it seems like it would work.  The tomato sauce is not pasta sauce, just plain tomato sauce in a can.  Also, if you don't have tomato sauce you could also use a can of tomato paste and just increase the water by 1 1/2 cups.  This tastes much better made with vegetable broth, but water works fine too.

We make our meatless meal,
We pray the Stations and we kneel,
We strive to improve our souls and our hearts,
We contribute to the poor and do our part,
We offer up our sacrifices and repent,
As we journey through this Holy season of Lent,
We strip away the materialistic things of our days,
We draw closer to Him in so many ways,
As the darkness fades away along with our sin,
We find a quiet peace deep within.

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