Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Spicy Tuesday - Asian Almond Quinoa Salad - Cilantro

Different and fun flavors to shake up your salad. Plus lots of yummy fresh green cilantro! It's here on Spicy Tuesday -  Asian Almond Quinoa Salad - 012814 at http://www.livingandeatingwell.com

Monday, January 27, 2014

Black Bean Chocolate Dip for the Super Bowl

Here's my dirty little secret...I don't like football. Well, maybe's it not that I don't like it, I just don't know much of anything about this national obsession. Sigh. On no! It's not that I haven't had many chances to learn. As a child of a Daddy who loved Alabama football - I am convinced that he is up there in heaven reviewing plays and calls with Bear Bryant daily.

Oh yes! It's true that my first three years of college I spent at Ole Miss. Hotty-tottying with the boys and girls of the true ole south and attending more games than I care to remember, (or forget).

In my wildest imagination, I can't picture myself on the gridiron. Perhaps that's why I've never gotten excited about the sport. Besides, who needs to watch the field? Cocktails, (bourbon and whatever), beers, peanuts, popcorn and the only-time-I-would-ever-eat-it hotdogs with sauerkraut. Squeeze cheese nachos and bbq sandwiches. Is there ever a better excuse for eating a little really trashy food? I don't think so.

I do like the concept of Super Bowl parties, tho. Pick friends that have spouses, friends or partners that are interested in the game, and hang out with like minded peeps who would prefer to talk recipes and drinks, rather than players and scores. I've learned a lot in the kitchen at Super Bowl parties. I get caught up on celebrity gossip, what's on TV and how to make a terrific bowl of chili.

Here's what I sharing this Sunday. Full of savory flavor from the black beans and the little bit of intense dark cocoa powder, I'm going to serve it with warm corn tortillas, homemade chips and veggies. Tiny tomatoes, cuke sticks, skinny green onions, fennel spears, long fingers of carrots and celery are going to fill a big platter. My hope is that along with the chips, my buddies will pick up some of the crunchy fresh veg. It'll make them feel better and me very, very happy.

Here's to a fun Super Bowl for everyone, no matter what the score!

Mexican Black Bean Chocolate Dip

1 Tsp Olive Oil
½ Cup Minced Red Onion
3 Garlic Cloves, Grated
1 Tsp Ground Cumin
1 Tsp Chili Powder
1 Tsp Smoked Paprika
1 Tsp Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

2 (15 oz) Cans Black Beans, Rinsed and Drained
1 Can Rotel Tomatoes and Chilies
1/4 Cup Chopped Cilantro

1 Cup Shredded Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese
2 TB Lime Juice
Sea Salt and Black Pepper to Taste
Greek Yogurt, Chopped, Seeded Tomatoes and Chopped Cilantro for Garnish

Step One
In a medium sauté pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Stir in the onion and sauté for about 5 minutes or until soft. Add the garlic and sauté for an additional minute. Add the spices and cocoa powder and cook and stir for 2 minutes.

Step Two

Add in the beans Rotel and cilantro. Cook for about 5 minutes or until heated through. Remove from the heat, and using a potato masher, break up the beans. Add in the cheese and stir until the cheese is melted. Add the lime juice and taste for salt and pepper. Garnish with Yogurt Tomatoes and Cilantro. Serve with Corn Chips, Warm Corn Tortillas or Fresh Veggies.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Inspired by Provence - Roasted Veggie Soup for Dinner Tonight

A fellow chef recently wrote an article all about why she didn't like the word, "veggies". She felt strongly that by referring to vegetables as "veggies" that we were demeaning the most wonderful category of food. The author, Deborah Madison is a culinary rock star. She is simply one of the most forward-thinking, creative women chefs in the world. Her books include titles like Greens and her latest, Vegetable Literacy. I had the opportunity to meet her at a professional conference and I was thrilled beyond belief.

But Deborah, I beg to differ. The word veggie is simply an endearment. And really...who doesn't think of the word when picking up the most tender tiny little squash, or brand new spring onion, an enormous feathery dill with fronds as long as hair or a glamorous bunch of golden beets with dirt disguising its bright colors.

We do this all the time in the food world. In the article she talks about we don't call meat, "meaties". No, we do something worse to meat - we call all types of meat "proteins".  How crazy is that? We are lumping in the industrial "pink slime" of the fast food hamburger in with the lovely raised grass fed cow that lived a good life before it graced our plate. Or the slices of serrano ham that were carefully placed on a tapas plate, because of their beauty and taste. That's just wrong.

I'll lead the movement to make meat a more treasured part of our diet. Not giant slabs from steak houses, but the magnificent well raised and valued meats that are called by their name. Beef, pork, lamb and goat that is appreciated more than just being "protein" that is consumed because its fatty and rich and indulgent.

Deborah, I agree with most of your article. I love how you get SO excited about vegetables. Me too. The paragraph on how vegetables protect themselves is fabulous. But for me, I'm going to continue to use the word, veggie. It perfectly describes my love and the wonder for the best part of any menu. Thanks for making me think about how much veggies mean to me.

Just in case you want to read Deborah's article, too! Stop Calling them Veggies

Wishing I was back in Provence today, warm yellow sun, blue skies and lavender. That's the inspiration for this weeks Meatless Monday recipe.

Provencal Roasted Veggie Soup

2 Cups Chopped Red Onion
6 Cloves Peeled Garlic
4 Yukon Gold Potato, Chopped
1 Cup Chopped Carrots
1 Cup Chopped Parsnips
1 Head Cauliflower, Chopped
3 Red Peppers, Seeded and Chopped
2 TB Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 TB Herbes de Provence
Sea Salt and Freshly Cracked Black Pepper, to taste
4 Cups Veggie Broth
1 Can (15 ½ Oz Fire Roasted Tomatoes)

The Garnish
1 TB Lemon Juice
2 Tomatoes, Seeded and Chopped
½ Cup Shredded Parmesan
Fresh Thyme, Rosemary or Basil Chopped for Garnish

Step One
Preheat oven to 400F.

Step Two
On 2 aluminum foil or parchment lined baking sheets, toss the onion, garlic cloves, potatoes, carrots, parsnips, cauliflower and peppers with the olive oil and herbes de provence. Season with sea salt and pepper, to taste. Roast the vegetables for about 30 - 45 minutes or until they are tender.

Step Three
Pour the broth and fire roasted tomatoes into a stock pot and add the roasted vegetables. Simmer gently for about 15 minutes.

Step Four

In a small bowl, toss the tomatoes with the lemon juice. Taste for salt and pepper. Serve, topped with the tomatoes, cheese and the chopped herbs.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Cauliflower Tabbouleh

Ahhhh, Pinterest. The source of many great ideas and lots of yummy food. Or at least Lea, my Sous Chef thinks so... You may be more like me, dipping into the pictures and quickly scanning the feed for a little eye candy once in a while. But Lea, she's obsessed. She spends time each day looking for just the right accessory, recipe of food styling tip. I see her repins each time I log on, typically to pin the Friday Four, Meatless Monday or Spicy Tuesday picture. The cauliflower tabbouleh this week? Thanks to Lea who passed on the idea of a tabbouleh full of flavor, but not fat or carbs.

I must admit I was a little skeptical before trying to recreate it in my kitchen. I love my traditional tabbouleh recipe, cooking the bulgur wheat in tomato juice for more flavor and a beautiful red color. (Thanks to my sister for that great idea!) However, I'm always game for new inspiration, especially if it means I can eat and serve it to others happily. The recipe below is the result of the cauliflower experiment. Boy, is it good. Keeps well in the fridge and just keeps getting more flavorful the next day or two. Oh! It makes a good pita pocket for lunch, too.

We've learned lots about making this tabbouleh this week. Couple of tips to pass on to you. First, don't put the whole head of cauliflower, or all the florets in your food processor at once. Cauliflower has lots of liquid in it, (Who knew?), and the veg at the bottom of the bowl will turn soupy if you load the processor up. Pulse your cauliflower in a least 2 batches, making a rough, coarse meal out of it. Think about the texture and size of bulgur wheat for your guide.

You'll also want to seed your tomatoes, to reduce the liquid in the finished dish. The best tool for seeding tomatoes? Your very clean thumb. Cut your tomato in half and run your thumb through the channels where the seeds live. This will intensify the tomato flavor, and your tabbouleh will not be watery.

Have fun with this recipe - we have!

Cauliflower Tabbouleh

1 Head Cauliflower (or 2 bags florets)
2 Large Tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1 Cup Chopped Parsley
¼ Cup Chopped Mint
1 TB Lemon Juice 
2 TB Lemon Zest
¼ Cup EVOO
Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper

 Pulse the cauliflower florets in a food processor, or chop them by hand, until they are small bits resembling grains. Toss with chopped tomatoes, chopped parsley and mint, lemon juice, zest and olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Monday, January 6, 2014

It HAS to be Soup! Fragrant Spiced Chickpea Curry

Thank GOODNESS the sun is shining because the temp on my phone is still 27F. Yikes, who ordered this weather. Last week I was in St Pete, Florida. Sunshine most days, even on the cloudy ones it never dropped below 60F. Heaven. Today I am cranking out work at my computer and trying to remember to get up every hour to move around. So my feet don't turn into popsicles, and I can actually feel my nose. I don't know about you all, but just the thought of weather like that makes me shiver. I so wish I could appreciate cold more. But I don't. I guess that's why God made Maine and Florida, and people that enjoy living there:)

As the thermometer began a steady decline this weekend. I started plotting my cold weather cooking strategy. And, you won't be surprised to know that it includes lots of soup. It has to be soup to warm cold fingers and toes. It has to be soup to keep at a simmer for hours to gently warm the kitchen and spread its tantalizing aroma throughout the house. It has to be soup.

So here's a recipe for Meatless Monday that's one of our favorites here in chilly Atlanta. But no matter where you live, I think you'll find it warm and soothing - just right for a weeknight dinner. Warm, (not hot!), from the spices and warm from the heat. Steam up some brown Basmati rice*  and call your folks to the table.

Fragarant Spiced Chickpea Curry
Good News, this recipe can be double or tripled, and it freezes great!

2 TB Olive Oil

1 Tsp Turmeric

1 Tsp Cumin

½ Tsp Freshly Cracked Black Pepper

1 Tsp Garam Masala

¼ Tsp Cayenne Pepper 

1 Tsp Ground Coriander

1 Red Onion, Chopped

1 TB Grated Ginger

4 Cloves Garlic, Grated or Minced

1 Cup Vegetable Stock

1 (14.5 oz) Can Fire Roasted Tomatoes

2 (15 oz) Cans Chickpeas, Drained and Rinsed

Sea Salt to Taste

1 Cup Light Coconut Milk

Thinly Sliced Red Onions, Chopped Fresh Mint, Cilantro or Chopped Tomatoes

Step One Heat oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Stir in the spices and stir until fragrant. Add in the onion, and ginger, and cook until the onion is wilted.  Stir in the garlic, the tomatoes, stock and chickpeas; season to taste with salt. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until garbanzos are very soft, about 20 - 30 minutes. 

Step Two After the chickpeas are softened, use a potato masher and mash them a little bit. Don't mash them all, just about a quarter of the chickpeas. Add the coconut milk and cook and stir for another 10 minutes or so - this will thicken the sauce. Serve, topped with garnishes of your choice.

*Make your brown Basmati rice more flavorful and even better for you. Microwave a cup of frozen green peas for a minute. Add them into your cooked brown rice. Beautiful color AND taste.