Monday, November 23, 2009

Black Bean and Chipotle Chili

Before running out the door to church, I treasure-hunted in my cupboards to see what I'd serve for dinner that night.  This chili came together fast, it's vegetarian, and everyone (including my white-foods-only-diet preschooler) cleaned their plates.  And had seconds.  Definitely a keeper!

You could definitely go with dried beans, but I didn't have any dried black beans on hand so I wrote this up the way I made it.  

Chipotle peppers are smoked jalapenos- I purchase them in small cans, packed in adobo sauce.  They're smoky, a little spicy, and delicious.  Store the unused portion in the fridge- I hear they're great in eggs!

Black Bean and Chipotle Chili

5 cans black beans
1 can tomato sauce
2 Tbsp. chili powder
2-5 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
2-3 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro
Optional garnishes: sour cream, shredded cheddar, green onions

Drain and rinse 3 cans of beans, and put in crock pot with remaining 2 cans of undrained beans, tomato sauce, chili powder, and chipotle peppers with their sauce.  Let cook on low 3-5 hours.  Taste and adjust seasonings.  Add cilantro half an hour before serving.  Serve over rice, and topped with sour cream, cheese, and green onions.  


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Cheese and Potato Soup

I didn't take any pictures, but this was a fabulous soup.  Thick, hearty, cheesy, and easy.  What's not to love?  The recipe was recommended by a friend- the original recipe is on epicurious.  My only changes were to use three large carrots, puree the finished product with a stick blender before adding the cheddar, and I used extra cheese (maybe 2 cups total?).  I left out the ham too, and let my family stir in bacon bits at the table, and sour cream.  

Cheese and Potato Soup
2 tablespoons vegetables oil
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped carrot
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
2 cups canned low-salt chicken broth
2 cups milk
1 10- to 12-ounce russet potato, peeled, diced
1 cup packed shredded sharp cheddar cheese (about 4 ounces)
1/2 cup chopped ham
Hot pepper sauce (such as Tabasco)
Chopped fresh parsley

Heat oil in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add celery, carrot, onion and thyme and sauté until vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle flour over and stir 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in broth, then milk. Add potato and bring soup to boil. Reduce heat and simmer soup until potato is tender, about 20 minutes. Add cheese 1/3 cup at a time, stirring until melted and smooth after each addition. Mix in ham. Season soup to taste with hot pepper sauce, salt and pepper. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Bon Appétit
December 1995
by Dorothy Davis: Columbus, Ohio

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Black Bean Asparagus with Tofu

Asparagus must have hit its second wind here in New England (maybe the greenhouse crops?), but I've been seeing it on sale for quite a decent price lately!

This yummy Chinese dish cooks up really fast, and is low in fat and high in protein. What it lacks in authenticity, it makes up for in Sheer Tastiness.

Aunt LoLo's Black Bean Asparagus with Tofu
Serves 4

1/2 block firm tofu
1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 pound asparagus
1/2 tsp. black bean and garlic sauce (available at asian markets)
1 tsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. oyster sauce
1/2 tsp. cornstarch
1/4 cup Szechuan Preserved Vegetables (in the canned pickle aisle, at asian markets)

1) Prepare the asparagus. Rinse the stalks and snap the woody ends off. Cut the asparagus into 1" pieces and set aside.
2) Prepare the tofu. Cut the 1/2 block into 1/2" slices, and then cut those slices into 1/2" stripes, and then those strips into 1/2" pieces. (Did you catch all that? Just chop it up, ya'know?)
3) Prepare your seasonings. Rinse the Preserved Vegetables, and roughly chop. Set aside. In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup water with the cornstarch, black bean sauce, soy sauce, sugar and oyster sauce. Set aside.
4) In a small pot, heat up your olive oil until it starts to shimmer. Add in your preserved vegetables and cook until fragrant. Add the tofu and stir. Add the asparagus and 1/4" of water. Cover and steam until the asparagus is just barely tender, about 3 minutes.
5) Remove the lid and add your cornstarch slurry. (Be sure to give it a good stir before you pour it in.) Stir and continue cooking until the sauce comes to a boil and starts to thicken, about 1 minute.

Serve over rice.
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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Review: Betty Crocker Gluten Free Cake Mix

The other day, I found out rather last minute that a friend suddenly found herself free, the night before a new-state move, and could she pop over to see us?

Of course! I love visits...especially when I can cook for my guests.

This guest is gluten-intolerant, and so has always presented a special challenge. (I've known her for 11 years.)

And I do love a good challenge.

I knew she loved chocolate, and I had recently seen that my Stop n' Shop was carrying a new line of gluten-free Betty Crocker baking mixes. Score!

I decided on the Devils Food- definitely the right choice!

I really didn't miss the wheat flour. The crumbs were so tiny and tight, and the taste was spot on. Lo Gung doesn't like frosting (and I'm lazy), so I left these little beauties unfrosted. We each ate two, and I sent the rest home with my friend. They're a bit more expensive than the "normal" mixes, and it's a good thing. Otherwise, I would be tempted to keep a plate of these on my counter At All Times, just in case my friend decides to drive the 5 hours up to my place for a surprise visit! (It could totally happen...)

I give the Betty Crocker Gluten-Free mixes a definite thumbs up!
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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Aunt LoLo's Shrimp Coconut Curry

This dish came about by sheer force of will - I had shrimp in my freezer, slowly making everything else in my freezer shrimp they had to go.

I had made curry before, with chicken, but knew that it could be delicious with shrimp as well.

Aaaaand, that's usually all the nudging I need to turn on the stove and start throwing things at the pot!!

This recipe got a thumbs up from the family, but for me it was maybe a B. If I had replaced the spinach with basil, then it would have been an A+++++! (Of course, that would require my basil in the garden to get taller than 1"...)

LoLo's Shrimp Coconut Curry
Serves 4-6
Time: 1 hour

2 T. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 potatoes, scrubbed and cubed
2 carrots, washed and sliced
1 1/2 heaping tsp. curry powder (I used an Indian curry blend. It's yellow, but spicier than the Chinese yellow curry blend.)
1/2 half can (about 3/4 c.) coconut milk
1 lb. raw shrimp, shelled and de-veined
6 handfuls raw baby spinach
sugar and salt

In a soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat, then throw in your onion. Cook until soft. Throw in your carrots and potatoes. Cook for about two minutes, stirring constantly. Add the curry powder, and continue to cook (and stir!) until the curry is fragrant.

When the curry is smelling nice and spicy, add in enough water to cover the veggies by about 1/2". Cover and simmer until the carrots and potatoes are fork tender, about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, clean and de-vein your shrimp. (Nobody wants a mudvein in their curry!) My shrimp were shell on, so Cleaning for me was peeling the shell and tail off, then using a sharp Santoku knife to make a small slit in the back of each shrimp. To take the tail off, hold the peeled shrimp in your left hand, and use your right hand to pinch the shrimp just above the tail "flippers." Carefully pull the two hands apart, and voila! To take the vein out, I used my fingers, and wiped them off on a dry paper towel to get rid of the vein.

When the potatoes are done cooking, take the lid off and check your consistency. Is it too thin? Boil for a few minutes to reduce it. Is it too thick? Add a little more water. The potatoes will begin to fall apart and thicken the sauce as well.

About 5 minutes before it's time to eat (maybe while your three year old is setting the table), throw your shrimp and spinach into the pot and stir it up. It should take about 3 minutes for your spinach and shrimp to cook - the spinach will wilt down to nothing, and the shrimp will turn a nice shade of pink.

2 minutes before serving time, add your coconut milk, plus sugar and salt to taste. (Note - do not bring the mixture back to a boil once the coconut milk is in.)

Serve over rice.


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