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Thursday, February 26, 2015

Balela


Balela

Ingredients

2 (15 ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup (packed) chopped fresh mint
1/2 cup (packed) chopped fresh parsley
1/2 large red onion, diced
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved (or 4 roma tomatoes, chopped)

Dressing:
1 large jalapeno, minced
2 large cloves garlic, grated
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Method

In a large salad bowl, lightly mix together the chickpeas, black beans, mint, parsley, onion, and tomatoes.

In a small bowl, whisk together the jalapeno pepper, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice, and apple cider vinegar. Pour over the salad and toss to combine.

Sprinkle with salt and black pepper to serve.

NOTES

I am always on the lookout for new, easy, delicious ways to satisfy the afternoon hungries. First, there was tabbouleh. Then, there was cumin-lime chickpea salad. Now, there is balela. My goodness is this ever fantastic. Tangy, spicy, zingy, but also creamy from the combination of the two types of beans. This is definitely my new obsession.

Portion size note: The recipe as is would probably serve 8 people as a lunch or dinner side dish. For afternoon snacks, I cut this recipe right in half and split it into five portions and thought it was perfect.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Cheater Korean Beef Stir Fry




Cheater Korean Beef Stir Fry

Ingredients

1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
1.5 pounds lean ground beef or venison
4 large cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons minced ginger
2 teaspoons chili garlic sauce
salt and pepper
1 bunch scallions, chopped
1 pound broccoli crowns, chopped into stems and florets and steamed
2 large carrots, julienned (or 1 cup pre-shredded)

Method

Heat the sesame oil in a large, deep skillet or wok over medium-high. Brown the beef, breaking into small chunks, until cooked through, about 5 minutes. Toss in the garlic and cook for another minute. Stir in the brown sugar, soy sauce, ginger, and chili garlic sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Add the broccoli and carrots. Simmer for 1-2 more minutes to blend the flavors. Toss in the scallions.

Serve over white or brown jasmine rice.

NOTES

When my friend Amy posted this base recipe for Cheater Korean Beef, I knew Steve and I would love it, but I had no idea just how much. It. Is. AMAZING. I can't stop making it. It's on my menu tomorrow night, for the fourth week in a row. It's funny how so few ingredients, the right ingredients, can produce something so phenomenal.

The only problem I had with the original was it didn't make nearly enough for leftovers. So I took the base recipe of the beef and sauce, scaled it up a bit (except the sugar), and added broccoli and shredded carrots. PERFECT. I can't wait to make this with venison!

Single Crust Chicken Pot Pie



Single Crust Chicken Pot Pie

Ingredients

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 large carrot, diced
1 large stalk celery, chopped
1 medium Russet potato, peeled and cubed small
2/3 cup frozen green peas
2/3 cup frozen corn
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 medium sweet onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon celery seed (optional)
1/3 cup milk
1 (9-inch) unbaked pie crust

Method

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C.)

In a saucepan, combine chicken, carrots, celery, potatoes, peas and corn. Add enough water to cover and boil for 15 minutes. Remove from heat, drain, reserving the liquid, and set aside.

In the saucepan over medium heat, cook onions in butter until soft and translucent. Stir in flour, thyme, salt, pepper, and celery seed. Slowly stir in 2 cups of reserved cooking liquid and milk. Simmer over medium-low heat, whisking occasionally, until thick. Remove from heat and set aside.

Spray a deep dish pie pan or small casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray. Place the chicken mixture in the dish. Pour hot liquid mixture over. Cover with crust, seal edges, and cut away excess dough. Make several small slits in the top to allow steam to escape.

Bake in the preheated oven for 30 to 35 minutes, or until pastry is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

NOTES

Satisfies the cravings for pot pie, but without going completely overboard in terms of fat and calories. In fact, I almost wanted to call this "healthy" chicken pot pie, but let's just say it's a "weeknight" version. Weekend, special occasion pot pie would be heavier on the butter and milk and have a double crust, but this version with a single crust, loads of fresh vegetables, and a very light touch with the sauce base make it highly suitable for everyday eats. And it's absolutely delicious!

Chopped Thai Salad with Sesame-Garlic Dressing



Chopped Thai Salad with Sesame-Garlic Dressing
slightly adapted from Pinch of Yum

Ingredients

For the dressing:
1/3 cup grapeseed or vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic, peeled
3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon grated ginger

For the salad:
16 ounces frozen shelled edamame
5-oz bag baby kale (or kale-spinach mix)
3 large carrots
2 bell peppers (I prefer red, orange, yellow in this)
1 cup cilantro leaves
3 green onions
3/4 cup cashews

Method

Puree all the dressing ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Taste and adjust to fit your preferences. Transfer to a dressing jar and rinse the food processor out for use later.

Cook the edamame by boiling it for 3-5 minutes in a pot of boiling water. Drain and allow it to cool. Meanwhile, slice up the kale, carrots, peppers, cilantro leaves, and green onions into thin strips or shreds.

Place the cooked edamame in the food processor and pulse 5 times to get a minced texture. Transfer to a bowl and repeat the same process for the cashews. Toss the kale, carrots, peppers, cilantro, green onions, edamame, and cashews together until well combined.

Serve immediately.


NOTES

This mix of vegetables is fabulous enough on its own, but then you add the dressing on top of it and holy moly. Best. Salad. Ever. I've served it multiple times with my Thai Red Curry Chicken, twice for guests, and it is a huge hit.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Sausage and Spinach Tortelloni



Sausage and Spinach Tortelloni

Ingredients

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 pound bulk Italian sausage (I use my homemade version)
1 medium sweet onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 8-oz. can tomato sauce
2 cups water
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
pinch of red pepper flakes
8 ounces raw spinach, steamed and minced (yields about 5 ounces cooked; you can substitute frozen)
12 to 16 ounces refrigerated cheese tortelloni** (see note)

Method

Heat oil in large deep skillet over medium high heat. Add sausage and cook for 4 or 5 minutes, breaking the meat into chunks with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink. Add onion to the pan and saute until onion is soft, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and saute for another minute.

Add tomato sauce, water, basil, oregano, red pepper flakes, and spinach and stir until well combined. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 10 minutes.

Add tortelloni and cook for another 2 minutes, until heated through. Serve.

NOTES

This recipe was another happy accident. I was trying a new soup recipe from my friend Amy and though it called for tortellini, I bought the much larger tortelloni instead. I'm cheap, you see. The "ini" is $4-$5 for a 9-ounce bag, but Costco had a 3-pound bag of the "oni" for $10. I figured it would be fine - and it was, taste-wise, but not size-wise. Tortelloni is not soup spoon friendly.

So what to do with the rest of it? Make it into a one-pot pasta of course. This is very similar to my pasta bake in flavor and ingredients, and I love them both equally for different reasons. This dish... a bite of sausage, a piece of tortelloni with that savory cheese inside, spinach, herbs, and a light tomato sauce draped over everything. It's perfect - and ready in 25 minutes. What could be better?

**As for the pasta: I got that 3-pound bag by luck, and split it into 1-pound portions, but I think the tortelloni is usually as expensive as its smaller counterpart and you are more likely to find it in 9-oz or 12-oz packages. A 12-oz portion should work fine in this recipe.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Slow Cooker Barbecue Beans



Slow Cooker Barbecue Beans
adapted from The Slow Roasted Italian

Ingredients

32 ounce package dried pinto beans
1 pound thick cut bacon, diced, cooked until crisp
1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
8 cups water
1/4 cup molasses
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup ketchup
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon ancho chili powder
1 tablespoon New Mexican chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon dried Mexican oregano
1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 cup barbecue sauce (I use my homemade sauce)

Method

Pour beans into a large sieve or colander and rinse well. Pour rinsed beans into 6 quart slow cooker and cover with water by 2 inches. Place cover on and leave slow cooker OFF. Allow beans to soak overnight (no more than 12 hours).

Drain the soaked beans and rinse the slow cooker. Place the beans back into the slow cooker along with the onions, garlic, bacon, water, molasses, brown sugar, ketchup, chili powders, cumin, oregano, and pepper.

Cook on high for 10-12 hours until beans are tender. Add salt and 1/2 cup barbecue sauce; stir to incorporate.

Serve immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or the freezer for up to 3 months.


NOTES

I made this recipe for Christmas lunch and knew immediately it was going down in the archives. First attempt at great barbecue beans and I hit the jackpot. Tangy, meaty, sweet, smoky, delicious - and easy to boot, since most of the cooking is hands off. What could be better?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Peanut Butter Honey Banana Bread



Peanut Butter Honey Banana Bread
from Chow

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick), melted, plus more for coating the pan
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup mashed very ripe banana (from about 3 medium bananas)
2/3 cup unsalted chunky natural peanut butter (or substitute 2/3 cup unsalted creamy peanut butter + 1 ounce chopped peanuts)
1/3 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup whole milk

Method

Heat the oven to 325°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Coat a 9-by-5-inch metal loaf pan with butter; set aside.

Place the flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl and whisk to aerate and break up any lumps. Set aside.

Place the measured butter and both sugars in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Add the eggs, banana, peanut butter, honey, and vanilla and whisk until smooth.

Add half of the reserved flour mixture and stir with a rubber spatula until just combined.

Add half of the milk and stir until just combined. Repeat with the remaining flour mixture and milk, stirring until just combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and smooth out the top. Bake until the bread begins to pull away from the sides of the pan and a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean, about 70 to 75 minutes.

Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool slightly, about 10 minutes. Run a knife around the perimeter of the pan and turn the bread out onto the rack to finish cooling. Once completely cooled, store it in an airtight container at room temperature.


NOTES

Do I even have to explain how good this is? Peanut butter + honey + banana. COME ON. I like mine warm with peanut butter or nutella, but I've been eating it the last few days plain and it's perfectly wonderful all on its own.

And I'm posting this as is for now, but I already foresee a "version with chocolate chips" update coming. Because obviously.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Chicken, Broccoli, and Cheddar Risotto



Chicken, Broccoli, and Cheddar Risotto

Ingredients

1 1/4 lb boneless, skinless, chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
Salt and pepper
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1-1/2 lb broccoli crowns, chopped into stems and florets
1/4 cup white wine
1 1/2 cups arborio rice
4 cups chicken stock, heated
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese

Method

Bring 1 inch of water to a boil in a saucepan with a steamer. Add the broccoli to the steamer and cover; reduce heat to medium and let cook for 5 minutes, or until a broccoli floret can just be pierced by a fork. Drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking. Set aside.

Heat deep saucepan to medium high. Generously season the chicken with salt and pepper, then add to the pan and sauté until cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove to a bowl and set aside.

Reduce heat to medium. Add the onion to the chicken fat in the pan. Sauté for 2 minutes, until just soft. Add in salt, pepper, and arborio rice and saute for 2 minutes more.

Reduce heat to medium low. Add wine, scraping the bottom of the pan as you go. Cook for another 2 minutes, stirring frequently, until wine is nearly absorbed. Add in 1 cup chicken stock. Stir frequently with a wooden spoon until stock is nearly absorbed, about 5 minutes. Keep adding stock 1/2 cup at a time, stirring each time until the liquid is almost absorbed, about 3 minutes per 1/2 cup. After about 20 minutes, all the stock should be used and the rice should be tender (taste test a piece). If it isn't, add another 1/2 cup of water to the pan, stir until absorbed, and check again.

Stir in the reserved chicken and broccoli and toss to heat through, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the cheddar and stir through until melted. Let the risotto rest for a minute or two, to thicken, before serving. Season with additional salt and pepper as desired.

NOTES

Delicious, salty and savory from the cheese - but not overwhelmed by it, and easy as can be. Inspired by this Broccoli and Cheddar Risotto from my friend Sarah and using most of the method from my Chicken Marsala Risotto, this blend of ideas and techniques made for one heckuva weeknight meal. It only took one go at this for Steve and I to agree it needed to be in my permanent archive.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Cranberry-Orange Pecan Bread



Cranberry-Orange Pecan Bread
adapted from Chow

Ingredients

Bread
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
Finely grated zest of 1 medium orange (optional)
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (from about 2 medium oranges)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter (1/4 stick), melted and cooled slightly, plus more for coating the pan
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups whole cranberries, thawed if frozen, sliced in half
1/2 cup (2 oz) pecan chips

Glaze
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup orange juice

Method

Heat the oven to 350°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Coat a 9-by-5-inch loaf pan with butter; set aside.

Place the flour, sugar, orange zest, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl and whisk to aerate and break up any lumps. Add the orange juice, melted butter, egg, and vanilla and stir with a spoon or rubber spatula until just combined. Stir in the cranberries and nuts, if using, until evenly distributed.

Scrape the batter into the prepared loaf pan, pushing it into the corners and smoothing the top. Bake for about one hour, or until golden brown and a wooden toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

When the bread has about 5 minutes cooking time left, bring 1/3 cup of sugar and 1/4 cup orange juice to boil in a small saucepan, stirring until sugar dissolves. Once removed from the oven, pierce the top of the hot loaf several time with a cooking chopstick (or small knife) without touching the bottom of the loaf in pan. Pour the hot sugar mixture over the loaf.

Cool for 30 minutes in pan on a wire rack, then turn bread out of pan and cool completely on rack.

NOTES

So damn addictive, this one. I am a major quick bread kick. It started with the basic Banana Bread, graduated to variations on that theme, then moved on to the fruit and nut ones. I am a sucker for easy baking, especially when it yields such delicious results.

Big kudos to Steve: the first loaf I made of this, it had no glaze. He suggested I do an orange sugar, the same as the lemon sugar that goes on my Blueberry Lemon Bread. GENIUS. It made it twice as amazing. Even better - since this bread recipe seems to solve the softness/cracking issue I have with THAT one, I have it in mind to redo that bread with this recipe's ratios. Trading one bits of a recipe for another's bits of a recipe to make the perfect result. Love that.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Banana Bread




Banana Bread
via Food Network

Ingredients

1 cup granulated sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
2 large eggs
3 ripe bananas
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt

Method

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter a 9x5x3 inch loaf pan.

Cream the sugar and butter in a large mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.

In a small bowl, mash the bananas with a fork. Mix in the milk and cinnamon. In another bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

Add the banana mixture to the creamed mixture and stir until combined. Add dry ingredients, mixing just until flour disappears.

Pour batter into prepared pan and bake 1 hour to 1 hour 10 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Set aside to cool on a rack for 15 minutes. Remove bread from pan, invert onto rack and cool completely before slicing.

NOTES

Best. Ever. There is a reason the rating for this recipe sits firmly at 5 stars after hundreds and hundreds of reviews. It's simple yet flawless. I've made it three times in the past week with consistently awesome results.

You can add nuts if you wish, of course, but I have chosen to leave it as is for a base recipe. Perfect by itself, with coffee, or warmed with a bit of butter or smooth peanut butter on top.