Review: Old El Paso Stand ‘N’ Stuff Soft Taco Kit

Old El Paso Stand 'n' Stuff Soft Taco Kit

Confession time: I’ve never had a taco. I’ve had a chimichanga, an enchilada, a tortilla, a burrito and a quesadilla, but I’ve never had a taco. So, when Old El Paso sent me some of their products, including their Smoky BBQ Stand ‘N’ Stuff Soft Taco Kit, I finally had my chance to have one.

I haven’t tried a taco before because the shells in the supermarket look crispy and make me think they’ll fall apart, with the filling falling out, but these Stand ‘N’ Stuff ones are user-friendly – as you can guess, they stand up and you stuff them.

For some reason, I thought the tacos would be the size of the box but they’re quite small. You get eight in a box (although I was ripped off as there were only seven in mine) and two is a perfect portion.

Vegetarian tacos

I stuffed mine with meat-free mince – seasoned with the seasoning mix that comes in the box of tacos, the sauce that’s also supplied, jalapenos, salad, grated cheese and topped with Old El Paso Sour Cream Topping.  After I’d posted on Facebook about my tacos, a friend said something along the lines of, ‘yum, except for the mince’ so, if you don’t like mince, you could use refried beans or mashed up kidney beans instead.

Salad, jalapenos, salsa and sour cream topping

In keeping with the Mexican theme, I served the tacos with some Cajun spiced potato wedges. I loved these tacos – they were so quick and easy to make and the leftover mince and taco shells are in the freezer, to be used another day.

Thank you to Old El Paso for sending me some products to try.

A word of warning: if you’re thinking of buying an Old El Paso Stand ‘N’ Stuff Soft Taco Kit, make sure you check the box for the vegetarian symbol as Old El Paso sent me their Extra Mild taco kit a few months ago and although I couldn’t see anything un-vegetarian in the ingredients, it didn’t have the vegetarian symbol on the packaging, so I asked them if it was vegetarian and they said it wasn’t. 

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Vegan Toasted Cheese and Chorizo Sandwich

Vegan toasted cheese and chorizo sandwich
Vegan cheese and chorizo toasted sandwich

I blogged about Violife vegan cheese a couple of years ago and, at the time, I was kind of, ‘Well, Violife’s okay, I suppose, but nothing special’. Since then, I’ve changed my mind and, while I’m not saying it’s the best thing I’ve ever eaten, it’s definitely the best vegan cheese I’ve ever eaten.

Today I used some in a toasted vegan cheese and chorizo sandwich. As you can see in the above photo, Violife melts beautifully and it went really well with the vegan chorizo I made from The Gentle Chef‘s new book – Seitan and Beyond.

Vegan chorizo from Seitan and Beyond by the Gentle Chef
Vegan chorizo from Seitan and Beyond by The Gentle Chef

This chorizo is fab; juicy, spicy, delicious, easy to make and contains easy-to-find ingredients (the only ingredients you’re probably not going to find in the supermarket – at least not here in the UK – are vital wheat gluten and liquid smoke, but these are easy enough and cheap enough to buy online). I can’t share the recipe with you as The Gentle Chef doesn’t allow his recipes to be shared but if you love your mock meat products I recommend you buy Seitan and Beyond, either as a pdf (with photos) from his website, or as a hard copy (without photos) from Amazon.

Vegan chorizo from Seitan and Beyond by The Gentle Chef
Vegan chorizo from Seitan and Beyond by The Gentle Chef

I know you don’t need a recipe for how to make a sandwich, but here it is anyway.

Vegan Toasted Cheese and Chorizo Sandwich
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Sandwich
Cuisine: Vegan
Serves: 1
  • 2 slices of bread
  • Violife cheese, sliced from the block
  • 3 slices of vegan chorizo
  • A few leaves of baby spinach
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • Vegan salad cream (Asda's own brand light salad cream is vegan)
  • Dairy-free spread (I used Pure)
  1. Spread the bread with the dairy-free spread
  2. Add the spinach leaves on to one of the slices of bread
  3. Add the Violife
  4. Add the chorizo
  5. Add the sliced tomato
  6. Squeeze the salad cream on
  7. Top with the remaining slice of bread
  8. Grill in a George Foreman grill or sandwich toaster for about 10 minutes


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Recipe: Tomato and Basil Risotto

Tomato and goat's cheese risotto

I’d never made a nice risotto. So, when Sunrise Care asked me to make the Tomato and Basil Risotto recipe on their website, I thought ‘uh oh’. But, I know the key to a good risotto is to pour the liquid in slowly and to keep stirring, which is where I’ve gone wrong in the past. I’m far too impatient for that kind of thing and usually just bung in the liquid then go off to play Candy Crush or something and return to a heap of bullets stuck to the bottom of the pan.

This time, I thought, I’m going to do it properly. I’m going to make a decent risotto. Guess what? I didn’t make a decent risotto. Although I did the pouring slowly thing and the stirring thing, the rice was still hard at the end. So hard, in fact, that The Meat Eater wouldn’t eat it (he does like his rice and pasta to be more overcooked than undercooked though). I ate it though as, although it was slightly (and only slightly) too firm, it was creamy and cheesy and rich and delicious. If you’re one of those people who can make a risotto, you should make this one.


Tomato and basil risotto (two large portions)
(adapted from the recipe at Sunrise Care)

20g salted butter
1tbsp olive oil
2 vine tomatoes, chopped
1/4 red onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
200g Arborio rice
400ml vegetable stock
20ml double cream
70g goat’s cheese, chopped
Handful of fresh basil, torn
salt and pepper

  1. Heat the oil and fry the onion and garlic for a few minutes, until soft.
  2. Add the tomatoes and seasoning and fry for a further 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add the rice, mix thoroughly and fry for 3-4 minutes.
  4. Gradually add the vegetable stock, stirring until all the liquid is absorbed.
  5. Continue stirring until the rice is tender and creamy but still firm, then add the butter, cream, goat’s cheese and basil and stir it all through.
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Smoky Tofu And Cream Cheese Bagel


A lot of recipes – usually American – call for liquid smoke. Because they’re usually American recipes, this means liquid smoke isn’t something you’re going to find in your local Tesco. Amazon, of course, sells everything, so I bought a bottle from there and today I decided to use it in a marinade for some tofu.


While browsing the internet for inspiration, I came across a lot of recipes that used liquid smoke with tofu to try and replicate bacon. As all vegetarians will know, the vegetarian bacon you get in the shops is a laughable mockery of ‘real’ bacon but as I don’t miss bacon anyway, it doesn’t really matter to me. What I would like though, is to make tofu thin and smoky and crispy – now that does appeal.


My tofu didn’t turn out crispy – possibly because I cut it too thin and it didn’t stick to both sides of my George Foreman, or possibly because I didn’t leave it to grill for long enough, or possibly because I didn’t squeeze enough water out of the tofu to begin with or possibly because of some other reason. Still, it definitely was smoky – liquid smoke isn’t lying about the ‘smoke’ bit – and it went beautifully with cream cheese and salad in a bagel.


I can’t really give exact quantities for the marinade as I just kind of slopped a bit in here, poured a bit in there, and sprinkled a bit in wherever. But I’ll give a rough estimate. You don’t actually need me to tell you what extras to add to your bagel, but I’ve listed what I had.


Smoky Tofu and Cream Cheese Bagel (serves 1)

3 thin slices of tofu, pressed to squeeze out the excess water
1 bagel
Cream cheese

For the marinade

1 tbsp sriracha
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp liquid smoke
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder

  1. Mix all the marinade ingredients together in a tupperware dish and dredge the tofu slices in it. Cover and leave for a few hours.
  2. Grill the marinated tofu slices and while you’re doing this, toast the bagel and pile on your other fillings and top with the tofu when it’s ready.
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Moroccan Tomato and Chickpea Soup

Moroccan Tomato and Chickpea Soup


I’ve been feeling a bit under the weather this week with absolutely no energy and getting out of breath just walking up a few stairs. With Juneathon approaching, this just won’t do, so today I made a batch of spicy soup – if this doesn’t sort me out, nothing will. The original recipe called for a pinch of cayenne but who wants just a pinch of spice? Not me, that’s for sure, so I also added some chilli flakes as I am a firm believer that chilli cures everything.

I feel better already.

Moroccan Tomato and Chickpea Soup (serves 4)
(recipe adapted from No Meat, No Dairy, No Gluten – Just flavour and Goodness)

1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
Pinch of cayenne
Pinch of mixed spice
Big pinch of chilli flakes
1 tsp ground coriander
1 large tin chickpeas, drained
850ml vegetable stock
500g passata
50g basmati rice
1 tsp caster sugar
1 tsp red wine vinegar
salt and pepper

  1. Put the olive oil in a saucepan, add the onion and garlic and cook gently for 10 minutes.
  2. Add the spices and cook for another couple of minutes.
  3. Add the chickpeas, stock and passata and then simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.
  4. Add the rice and cook until tender (approximately 10 minutes). Add the sugar and vinegar and season with the salt and pepper.
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Vegan Chickpea Tuna Mayo Sandwich


This is another recipe I adapted from something I saw on the wonderful What Fat Vegans Eat Facebook page.

I’ve never used nori sheets before but I’ve had them once in Yo Sushi and they tasted just like fish so I was careful not to use too much. And it’s just as well I did only use a little bit because this stuff certainly is fishy.

I served it filled in a Warburton’s Seeded Sandwich Thin with sliced tomato and cucumber. The recipe below will probably make enough for four sandwiches, so just keep whatever you don’t use up in the fridge.

Vegan Tuna Chickpea Mayo 

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 tbsp vegan mayonnaise
1 tbsp shredded nori (or to taste)
3 spring onions, chopped
salt and pepper

Blend the chickpeas until rough but not smooth, you don’t want a paste.
Add the rest of the ingredients and blend for a few more seconds until it’s all mixed together.

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Vegan Mondays: Aubergine stuffed with mushroom and chilli


I woke up yesterday morning and decided that, from now on, Mondays would be vegan days. First things first though, and I went downstairs to check if my hot chocolate was vegan. It wasn’t, dammit! But, aha! I had a tub of cocoa in the cupboard, which is vegan. Okay, so it’s two years out of date, but never mind.

Lunch wasn’t a problem. I’d got up so late, I didn’t have any. I felt a bit peckish in the afternoon though so decided to have some cup-a-soup. Then I realised cream of asparagus cup-a-soup probably wasn’t vegan (the ‘cream’ bit gave me a hint), and it wasn’t, but I had a packet of Ainsley Harriott’s Hot & Sour cup-a-soup, which was (as far as I could tell – I’m not an expert at reading labels for non-vegan ingredients). Yay, good old Ainsley.

Dinner was easy, all I had to do was make something and leave out the ‘cover it in cheese’ bit. I had an aubergine and some mushrooms in the fridge, so mushroom-stuffed aubergine it was. The Meat-Eater says veganism is ‘unnecessary’, so he covered his in salad cream and Flora and said it was ‘okay-ish’ (if he hadn’t read on Facebook I was having a vegan day, he’d have said it was nice).

Aubergine stuffed with mushroom and chilli, topped with herby breadcrumbs (serves 2)

1 aubergine, sliced lengthways
2-4 mushrooms, chopped
1 tomato, chopped
1 chilli, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 slice of bread, crusts removed
1 tsp thyme
salt and pepper

  1. Score a criss-cross pattern in the aubergine and brush with oil. Bake in the oven at 190C for about 20-30 minutes, until tender. Scoop out the insides and chop.
  2. Whizz up the bread to make breadcrumbs and add the thyme.
  3. Fry the mushrooms in the oil for about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the chilli and garlic and fry for another couple of minutes.
  5. Add the tomato and chopped aubergine.
  6. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Pile the aubergine/chilli/mushroom/tomato mixture on the aubergine skins.
  8. Top with the herby breadcrumbs.
  9. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes, until the breadcrumbs are golden.
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Linda McCartney Vegetarian Burgers with a Peppered Mushroom Melt


I seem to have become a bit of a Linda McCartney fan-girl recently and now I’ve tried the Linda McCartney Vegetarian Burgers with a Peppered Mushroom Melt, I reckon they’ll be popped into the shopping basket each week along with the Fish Free Scampi.

The Meat Eater wanted his burger in a bun with all the trimmings, while I was fine having it on its own, but I’m glad he persuaded me otherwise, as this burger was absolutely delicious.

I crammed the bun full of lettuce, red pepper, tomato, gherkin, cheese, Nando’s Peri Peri Sauce and mayonnaise, but this didn’t stop the flavour of the burger coming through, nor the mushroom sauce the burger’s topped with.

My burgers were found next to the Fish Free Scampi in the chilled cabinet at Tesco and cost £2.69.

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Aubergine and Harissa Sauté

Tonight’s dinner was another recipe from Quick Cook Vegetarian (you must buy this book – it’s fantastic and only £4.31 including postage at the time of writing on Amazon. I rave more about it on this blog post).

I wasn’t really sure if it’d be up to much, with it only containing one main ingredient (or two, if you count the tomatoes), but it was totally tasty and definitely one I’ll make again, especially as it was so quick, easy and cheap.


Aubergine and Harissa Sauté (serves 4)

4 tablespoons sunflower oil
750g baby aubergines, thinly sliced
4 tomatoes, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon finely chopped coriander leaves
2 tablespoons harissa
salt and pepper
cooked basmati rice, to serve

Heat the oil in a large frying pan and add the aubergines.

Fry over a high heat for 2-3 minutes then add the tomatoes, cinnamon, coriander and harissa. Stir-fry for 3-4 minutes or until the aubergines are tender.

Season to taste and serve with basmati rice.

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Aubergine melt

Ok, so introducing food slowly back into my diet probably doesn’t mean pour olive oil over an aubergine then melt half a block of mozzarella on top, but The Meat Eater was proud of the aubergine he’d grown and had requested it for dinner, so how could I resist? You must make this, it’s so quick and simple and totally gorgeous.

aubergine 004


1 aubergine
1 block of mozzarella, sliced
2 tomatoes, sliced
olive oil
salt and pepper
basil leaves

Cut the aubergine in half lengthways
Score the flesh and drizzle over some olive oil
Bake in the oven for 25 minutes at 200c
Layer on the tomatoes and mozzarella, season and bake for another 5 minutes
Scatter over the basil leaves

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