Monday, February 27, 2006

African Sweet Potato Stew

Let's see. Friday we had Chicken & Dumplings and Saturday we had Vegetable Chickpea Curry in the crockpot. Yum yum yum.

Last night we had African Sweet Potato Stew with Red Beans from Cooking Light. It's another crockpot recipe. I sure do love things I can make in the crockpot! I thought it was really good. It's very colorful and pretty. And it's so easy. But you have to like sweet potatoes. I really liked the peanut butter! I thought it was a really interesting new flavor. I probably won't make it again, but I will probably still keep the recipe just in case, since I liked it!

African Sweet Potato Stew with Red Beans
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1 garlic clove, minced
4 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled sweet potato (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 1/2 cups cooked small red beans
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon grated peeled fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
1 (4.5-ounce) can chopped green chiles, drained
3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
3 tablespoons chopped dry-roasted peanuts
6 lime wedges (optional)

Heat oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic; cover and cook 5 minutes or until tender.

Place onion mixture in a 5-quart electric slow cooker. Add sweet potato and next 10 ingredients (through chiles). Cover and cook on low 8 hours or until vegetables are tender.

Spoon 1 cup cooking liquid into a small bowl. Add peanut butter; stir well with a whisk. Stir peanut butter mixture into stew. Top with peanuts; serve with lime wedges.

Yield: 6 servings

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Rice Krispy Treats

Things have been really sucky in my social work classes lately, and tomorrow they're going to be much worse (which is entirely my fault), so I decided to try and boost morale with some chocolate-peanut butter Rice Krispy treats. *shrug* The recipe is unfortunately called "Crunchy Chocolate Treats" (which is just a terrible name) and is from Everyday Food magazine. I sampled them after dinner and they were wonderful. Very, very quick as well. I wasn't looking forward to baking after work today, but it only took about 20 minutes total, from start to finish. Crazy!

My changes: I followed the alternate serving suggestion and made squares instead of clusters. I used Reese's Peanut Butter chips, which I highly recommend because they are delicious. And I didn't get 2 dozen; more like 20. Hopefully not everyone will show up tomorrow, since we have 22 in the class!

Crunchy Chocolate Treats aka Peanut Butter Chocolate Rice Krispy Treats

1. In a large, deep saucepan, melt 4 Tbsp butter, cut into pieces, over low heat; about 4 minutes. Add 1 bag (10 oz) mini marshmallows; cook, stirring, until melted, 6 to 8 minutes.

2. Add 8 oz semisweet chocolate, finely chopped (I used chocolate chips); cook, stirring, until melted, 2 to 4 minutes. Remove from heat. Quickly fold in 6 cups rice cereal and 3/4 cup peanut-butter chips until evenly distributed.

3. Coat a 1/4 cup dry measuring cup with nonstick cooking spray; scoop mixture onto waxed paper, forming clusters. Let set, about 10 minutes. Store in an airtight container for up to several days.

Note: To make squares instead of clusters, use a wet spatula and evenly spread mixture into a buttered 9x13 baking pan. Let set before cutting with a serrated knife.

Makes 2 dozen.

Portobello Philly Cheesesteaks

Cyrus said he was craving philly cheesesteaks this week, so I decided to try out this recipe. It turned out a lot like a mushroom-cheese melt I've made from Penzey's One, but better. I will definitely make this version from now on. It's pretty simple and tasty. I didn't have vegetable broth so I just used some water, and I bought hamburger buns instead of sub rolls because I'm dumb. Definitely a make-again though. This recipe originally came from Eating Well magazine, but I got it off of the Cooking Light Bulletin Boards.

Portobello Philly Cheesesteaks
2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced
4 large portobello mushrooms, stems and gills removed (see Tip), sliced
1 large red bell pepper, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons minced fresh oregano or
2 teaspoons dried
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/4 cup vegetable broth or reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce
3 ounces thinly sliced reduced-fat provolone cheese
4 whole-wheat buns, split and toasted

1. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring often, until soft and beginning to brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Add mushrooms, bell pepper, oregano and pepper and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are wilted and soft, about 7 minutes.

2. Reduce heat to low; sprinkle the vegetables with flour and stir to coat. Stir in broth and soy sauce; bring to a simmer. Remove from the heat, lay cheese slices on top of the vegetables, cover and let stand until melted, 1 to 2 minutes.

3. Divide the mixture into 4 portions with a spatula, leaving the melted cheese layer on top. Scoop a portion onto each toasted bun and serve immediately.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Lentil & Potato Soup

Much more of a stew than a soup, since it's really thick. I found this recipe on the Cooking Light bulletin boards. It was really highly recommended. I think it's from a cookbook called "Jane Brody's Good Food Gourmet" or something. It was good, but we will probably not make it again. It's similar to a lot of other Indian dishes I've made in the past, which we liked better. But it's very flavorful and spicy! I bet it would be extra-good over rice or with pita bread.

Lentil & Potato Soup
1 cup lentils
4 cups water
1 tsp salt
1 bay leaf
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil
2-3 large potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp cayenne (I added a little more!)
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 large tomatoes, chopped
2 tsp garam masala
1 tsp sugar or honey

1. In a medium saucepan, combine the lentils, water, salt, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer the lentils until they are just soft, about 30 minutes. Do not drain the lentils! Discard the bay leaf, then set the lentils aside.

2. In a large dutch oven or saucepan with a nonstick surface, heat the butter and oil briefly, and add the potatoes. Sprinkle them with the turmeric, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Cook the potatoes, tossing them, over medium heat, for about 5 minutes.

3. Add the tomatoes, reserved lentils and their cooking liquid, garam masala, and the sugar or honey to the potatoes.

4. Cook the stew over medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring the mixture from time to time and adding water if the stew seems to be too dry.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Pasta & Squash with Tomatoes, Basil, and Pine Nuts

This is the other dish I made for my mom. It will be good for her to take in lunches because it warms up really well. I think it's yummiest in the days after it is made because all of the flavors mush together and get really tasty. This recipe is from Cook's Illustrated magazine.

Pasta and Squash with Tomatoes, Basil, and Pine Nuts
4 medium zucchini and/or summer squash (2 lbs), halved lengthwise and then cut crosswise into 1/2 inch pieces
Kosher Salt
1 lb farfalle pasta (bow-tie)
5 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
3 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 Tbsp)
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 pint grape tomatoes, each tomato halved
1/2 cup packed chopped fresh basil leaves
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted in small dry skillet over medium-low heat until lightly browned and fragrant (about 4 minutes)
Parmesan cheese for serving

1. Toss zucchini and/or summer squash with 1 Tbsp kosher salt in medium bowl; transfer to large colander, set colander over bowl, and let stand 30 minutes. Spread squash evenly over double layer of paper towels; pat dry with additional paper towels and wipe off residual salt.

2. Bring 4 quarts water to rolling boil, covered, in stockpot. Add 2 Tbsp kosher salt (or 1 Tbsp table salt) and pasta, stir to separate, and cook until al dente. Drain and return to stockpot.

3. While pasta is cooking, heat 1 Tbsp oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat until just beginning to smoke; swirl to coat pan. Add half of squash and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown and slightly charred, 5 to 7 minutes; transfer to baking sheet or large plate. Add 1 Tbsp oil to skillet, swirl to coat pan, and repeat with remaining squash. Return empty skillet to medium-high heat; add 1 Tbsp oil and swirl to coat pan. Add garlic and pepper flakes; cook until fragrant, about 10 seconds. Return squash to skillet and stir well to combine and heat through, about 30 seconds. Add squash mixture, remaining 2 Tbsp oil, tomatoes, basil, balsamic vinegar, and pine nuts to pasta in stockpot; toss to combine. Adjust seasonings, if necessary, and serve, passing Parmesan separately.

Picture added April 9, 2009:

Leek, Potato, and Fontina Tart

We're in Connecticut right now, and my family doesn't seem to ever eat home-made food anymore, so I decided to cook stuff for them that they could warm up during the week. So one of the things I made was this leek and potato tart from Cooking Light. I've made this a whole bunch of times, and we love it. It's kind of like a pizza crust topped with mashed potatoes and caramelized leeks. My mom ended up really liking it and said she would make it for her women's group sometime.

Leek, Potato, and Fontina Tart
2 tablespoons butter, divided
3 cups chopped leek (about 4 large)
2 1/2 cups cubed peeled baking potato
3 garlic cloves, halved
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded fontina cheese, divided
1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
2 tablespoons 2% reduced-fat milk
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 large egg
Cooking spray
1 (10-ounce) can refrigerated pizza crust dough

Preheat oven to 375°.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add leek; sauté 7 minutes or until tender and lightly browned. Set aside.

Place potato and garlic in a large saucepan; cover with water. Bring to a boil; cook 10 minutes or until potatoes are very tender. Drain. Place 1 tablespoon butter, potato mixture, 1/4 cup cheese, chives, and next 4 ingredients (chives through egg) in a large bowl; mash with a potato masher.

Lightly coat a 10 1/2-inch round removable-bottom tart pan with cooking spray. Unroll dough onto a lightly floured surface; let rest 5 minutes. Pat dough into bottom and up sides of pan. Spread the potato mixture into dough. Spread leek over potato mixture, and sprinkle with 1/4 cup cheese.

Bake at 375° for 20 minutes or until puffed and set. Cool in pan 5 minutes on a wire rack.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Easy Fish Tacos (no sex jokes)

Yesterday was a work day so I wanted to make something quick and easy. We also had a minor problem involving yucky little friends visiting our kitchen, so I didn't want to use a lot of kitchen equipment (the problem has since been remedied). So! Dinner was Fish Tacos, from Real Simple magazine. It sounds so pathetic because it's so simple, but it's actually my favorite way to eat fish!

Fish Tacos
1 10.6 oz package Gorton's Extra Crunchy Fish Tenders (note: this brand really does work the best in this recipe)
6 8-inch flour tortillas
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups shredded romaine lettuce
Tartar sauce

Bake the fish according to package directions. Wrap the stack of tortillas in foil and place in the oven during the last five minutes of baking. To assemble the tacos, place the warm tortillas on serving plates, put 2 tenders on each tortilla, and cover with a few slices of onion. Add a dollop of the tartar sauce and top with 1/4 cup of the lettuce. Fold over and serve.

Makes 6 servings

Hands-on time: 5 minutes
Total time: 20 minutes
If Made from Scratch: 1 hour

Monday, February 13, 2006


This is a recipe that I photocopied out of one of my mom's cookbooks. What cookbook, you ask? I haven't a clue. All I know is that it's page 268, in a chapter called "The Weekday Cook" (but it is not the Bon Appetit cookbook, "The Weekday Cook"). There is a drawing of an onion on the top left corner of the page. I'm going to CT this weekend to visit my family, so if I remember, I will look up which cookbook it is. Anyway. Here is the recipe for chilaquiles, which we had for dinner tonight. It's kind of like a Mexican lasagna, using tortillas instead of noodles.

1 Tbsp canola oil
1 cup chopped onions
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups shredded carrots
1 can (16 oz) red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 large tomato, chopped
1/2 cup tomato sauce
2 Tbsp chopped canned green chili peppers (I used fresh jalapenos)
1/2 tsp chili powder
3 large flour tortillas
1 cup shredded low-fat Cheddar cheese
2 tbsp minced scallions

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Coat an 8" souffle dish or a 2-quart casserole with no-stick spray; set aside.

2. In a large non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Add the onions and garlic; cook, stirring frequently, for 2-3 minutes, or until tender. Add the carrots; cook for 2 minutes.

3. Stir in the beans, tomatoes, tomato sauce, peppers, and chili powder; bring to a boil. Cook for 5 minutes, or until slightly thick. Scoop out 1/4 cup and set aside.

4. Place 1 tortilla in the bottom of the prepared dish. Top with half of the vegetable mixture and 1/3 cup of the cheddar.

5. Add another tortilla, the remaining vegetables, and 1/3 cup of the remaining cheddar. Top with the final tortilla and the reserved vegetables. Sprinkle with the scallions and the remaining 1/3 cup cheddar.

6. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until heated through. Let stand for 5 minutes before cutting into wedges.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Snow Storm!

We got a ton of snow today, and it's very, very cold outside, so it was the perfect day for soup! We had our favorite Potato Leek Soup, which was nice and yummy and warm.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Southwest Pinto Bean Burger with Chipotle Mayonnaise

I've made meals that are similar to this one before (like Southwestern Falafel), but this is my absolute favorite so far. It's really tasty. Don't skip the chipotle-mayonnaise; it really adds a LOT to the dish. The recipe only calls for a tiny amount of chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, so you can freeze the remainder of the can to use in other recipes. An 8 oz can is only like $1, so you can afford it. As usual, this recipe is from Cooking Light. My only change was that I omitted the cilantro, because we don't like fresh cilantro much. Oh, and we were out of Tabasco sauce so I used a squirt of sriracha instead. That made it very spicy!!

Southwest Pinto Bean Burger with Chipotle Mayonnaise
1/2 cup diced onion
1/2 cup dry breadcrumbs
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons minced seeded jalapeño pepper
2 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, drained
1 (8 3/4-ounce) can no salt-added whole-kernel corn, drained

Chipotle Mayonnaise:
1/4 cup low-fat mayonnaise
1 teaspoon canned minced chipotle chile in adobo sauce

Remaining ingredients:
1 tablespoon canola oil
4 (1 1/2-ounce) whole wheat hamburger buns, toasted
4 romaine lettuce leaves

To prepare burgers, combine the first 10 ingredients in a large bowl. Add pinto beans and corn; partially mash with a fork. Divide bean mixture into 4 equal portions, shaping each portion into a 3 1/2-inch patty, and refrigerate for 10 minutes.

To prepare chipotle mayonnaise, combine mayonnaise and 1 teaspoon chipotle in a small bowl; set aside.

Heat canola oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add patties to pan, and cook 4 minutes on each side or until thoroughly heated. Place patties on bottom halves of buns; top each patty with 1 tablespoon mayonnaise, 1 lettuce leaf, and top half of bun.

Note from the magazine about freezing the chiles: Puree remaining chiles and adobo sauce, and freeze in an ice-cube tray. Remove frozen cubes, cover in plastic wrap, and store in a zip-top bag in the freezer. Add a cube to flavor chili.

Note from Lauren about freezing the chiles: I just dumped the contents of the can into a small tupperware container and stuck it in the freezer. I didn't feel like pulling out the food processor.

Whole Grain Blackberry Spice Muffins

Blackberries were significantly on sale this week, so I bought a couple of packages of them. I decided to use one of them in this recipe from Cooking Light. The recipe says they can be frozen and then reheated later, which is good for me because it means I can take them in lunches all this week, or eat them for breakfast. Our apartment is kind of humid, so baked goods don't usually last very long. Freezing it will help quite a bit. Anyway. The muffins are very good. They're not the prettiest to look at, since the blackberries dye the batter, but they're tasty!

Whole Grain Blackberry Spice Muffins
2 cups all-purpose flour (about 9 ounces)
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon apple-pie spice (Note: I only had pumpkin pie spice)
1 cup fat-free milk
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg, lightly beaten
1 1/2 cups frozen blackberries, coarsely chopped (Note: I used fresh ones)
Cooking spray
1/4 cup granulated sugar

Preheat oven to 400°.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 6 ingredients (through apple-pie spice) in a large bowl. Make a well in center of mixture. Combine milk, butter, vanilla, and egg in a small bowl; add to flour mixture, stirring until just moist. Gently stir in blackberries.

Spoon 1/4 cup batter into each of 17 paper-lined muffin cups coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400° for 16 minutes. Sprinkle muffins evenly with granulated sugar; bake 3 minutes or until muffins spring back when touched lightly in center. Cool in pans 10 minutes on wire racks.

Yield: 17 muffins (serving size: 1 muffin)

To freeze muffins, let cool completely, and place in zip-top plastic bags. Reheat in microwave 20 seconds.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Crap food

We're a little strapped for time, cash, and motivation, so this past week we ate a lot of crap. I didn't cook anything until last night. So we had stuff like Aunt Jemima Frozen Pancakes and macaroni and cheese.

Last night we had pizza, made with the pre-baked pizza crust I've used before. It had tomatoes, red bell peppers, pesto, veggie pepperoni, and pepperoncini. We just needed something simple but not fatty (so no ordering Chinese!).

Tonight I made my spinach artichoke dip.

I've also been eating a lot of Special K with Red Berries. The freeze-dried strawberries are nasty so I'm going to start picking them out. But the cereal itself is quite tasty. Probably won't buy this flavor again though. I'm intrigued by the Vanilla Almond flavor. *shrug*

Starting tomorrow or the next day, I should have new recipes to post. Things I'm planning on making in the next few days include:
-Whole Grain Blackberry Spice Muffins
-Southwestern Pinto Bean Burgers with Chipotle Mayo
-Fish tacos
-Potato-Leek Soup

Time for some more cereal!

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Magnolia Bakery Cupcakes

This recipe is from the Magnolia Bakery Cookbook, but was posted by someone on the SomethingAwful cooking forums (also see: GBSFood). So the directions themselves are not verbatim, as you will see. These are the cupcakes that are mentioned numerous times in the SNL skit "Lazy Sunday."

They are delicious! I had some issues with the icing (the butter stayed a little bit clumpy), but it's okay. I colored the icing blue, since my classmate is having a boy! Hoorah! I will definitely make these again, but I'll have to put forth some extra effort to make a good buttercream frosting.

Magnolia Bakery Cupcakes
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
4 large eggs
6 ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
6-8 cups of confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Line your muffin tins with cupcake papers. This recipe makes roughly 2 dozen cupcakes
3. In a small bowl, sift together the flour and baking soda and set aside
4. Melting the chocolate. You'll need some double boiler action to do this. But, if like me, you have no double boiler, one can be created very easily. Find a small pot and a small heat resistent bowl that will nest easily into the pot. Fill the pot with just enough water so that when the bowl is nesting in the pot, the water doesn't splash out. Put the water on to boil. Put the 6 ounces of unsweetened chocolate into the bowl. Once the water is boiling, put the bowl of chocolate in the pot to melt the chocolate. Turn down the heat on the water so it's just simmering (if you leave it on a full boil, hot water will go everywhere). Stir the chocolate until it's totally melted. Set the bowl of melted chocolate aside to cool to room temperature.
5. In a large bowl, cream the butter until smooth. Add the granulated and light brown sugar and beat until fluffy. Add the eggs 2 at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the chocolate, mixing until well blended. Add the sifted flour/baking soda mixture in small doses, alternating with the buttermilk and vanilla. Mix until batter is well blended and smooth.
6. Spoon the batter into the cupcake liners, filling until roughly 3/4 full
7. Bake for 20-25 minutes, checking periodically to make sure they don't burn. The cupcakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
8. Remove the cupcakes from the tins to cool. Once all the cupcakes are cool, it's time for the best part, the frosting!

Put the butter in a large bowl, add 4 cups of the sugar, then the milk and vanilla and beat until smooth and creamy.
Gradually add the remaining sugar, one cup at a time, until the frosting gets to a decent consistency for spreading (you don't want it too runny or too thick).
Add some food coloring to you're frosting if you are so inclined.
Be generous with the frosting, nobody likes a frosting miser.
You're all done!

Makes about 2-2 1/2 dozen!

Raspberry Cheesecake Bars

Just finished baking these and they look amazing! I'm excited to take them to the baby shower. Plus they are low in fat, since they are from Cooking Light.

Raspberry Cheesecake Bars
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
3 large eggs
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light sour cream
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 (8-ounce) package 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
Cooking spray
1 1/2 cups fresh raspberries

reheat oven to 350°.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and salt, stirring with a whisk.

Combine butter, brown sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and eggs in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Add flour mixture to butter mixture; stir just until moist.

Place 1/2 teaspoon vanilla, granulated sugar, and next 4 ingredients (through cream cheese) in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until fluffy.

Line a 13 x 9-inch baking pan with foil that extends 1 inch beyond sides; coat foil with cooking spray. Spread half of batter into pan. Pour cream cheese mixture over batter in pan, and spread evenly over batter. Sprinkle with raspberries. Drop remaining batter by tablespoonfuls over raspberries. Swirl batter, cream cheese mixture, and raspberries together with a knife.

Bake at 350° for 35 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely on wire rack. Remove from pan by lifting foil. Remove foil; cut into 30 bar cookies.

Yield: 30 cookies.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Southwestern Bean Casserole

This is from an old issue of Cooking Light. I think it's from 1997? I don't remember. I clipped it out, then lost it before I could make it, and recently found it again reprinted in a best-of compilation. It was so good!!! It's basically a bean casserole topped with cornbread. I love that combination. It was very easy to make, too. It will definitely be added into our rotation.

Southwestern Bean Casserole
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
Cooking spray
1 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup canned no-salt-added cream-style corn, divided
1/2 cup drained canned chopped green chiles, divided
1/2 cup bottled salsa
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 (16-ounce) cans pinto beans, drained
1 (14.5-ounce) can no-salt-added stewed tomatoes, undrained
1 cup (4 ounces) shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese, divided
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 egg whites, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 375°.

Heat 1 teaspoon vegetable oil in a large saucepan coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic, and saute 3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup corn, 1/4 cup chiles, salsa, and next 5 ingredients (salsa through tomatoes), and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes. Pour mixture into a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray, and sprinkle with 1/2 cup cheese; set mixture aside.

Combine cornmeal, flour, sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Combine 1/2 cup corn, 1/4 cup chiles, 1/2 cup cheese, buttermilk, 1/4 cup oil, and egg whites, and add to cornmeal mixture, stirring just until moist. Spread batter evenly over bean mixture. Bake casserole at 375° for 25 minutes or until corn bread is lightly browned.

Makes 7 servings.

Photo added 1/18/09:

Friday, February 03, 2006

Potato Chana Curry

This recipe comes from Madhur Jaffrey's amazing cookbook, World Vegetarian. It's like 1000 pages of recipes, so obviously some are better than others. The one I made tonight, a Caribbean potato-chickpea curry from Trinidad, was OK but not as unique as I expected. It involves so many spices, and even has a habanero in it, but it's still fairly bland. Maybe it's because I didn't use fresh herbs? Also, I didn't have amchar masala (a Caribbean spice blend) so I used garam masala (an Indian spice blend). It was good, but not a make-again.

Potato Chana Curry
pg 33 of World Vegetarian

1 1/2 cups dried chickpeas, soaked and cooked (Note: I used canned chickpeas)
2 Tbsp finely chopped culantro or cilantro
1 1/2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh chives
2 scallions, white parts only, cut into very fine rounds
1 Tbsp finely chopped parsley
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 tsp dried
1/4 finely chopped Scotch Bonnet or other fresh hot chile (I used an entire habanero)
2 tsp salt
1/4 cup peanut or canola oil (I only used maybe 4 Tbsp)
1 large onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 tsp hot curry powder, such as Madras
2 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 x 3/4 inch chunks
2 tsp amchar masala (I used garam masala)

Put the drained chickpeas in a bowl. Add the culantro, chives, scallions, parsley, thyme, Scotch bonnet, and 1 tsp of the salt. Mix gently and set aside.

In a large, wide pot or deep frying pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add the onion and stir-fry for about 4 minutes, or until the onion pieces turn brown at the edges. Put in the garlic; stir-fry for another minute. Now add the curry powder and stir once or twice. Quickly add the potatoes, chickpeas, remaining tsp of salt, and enough water to barely cover the potatoes and chickpeas- about 1 1/4 cups. Bring to a boil. Turn the heat to low, cover, and simmer gently for 30 minutes. Stir in the amchar masala and cook another 5 minutes. Serve hot.

Makes 4-6 servings.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Tortilla Soup

This recipe originally came from the California Pizza Kitchen cookbook, several years ago. My mom has tweaked the recipe over the years, so this is what she came up with. If you're wanting to include meat, you can precook some chicken, cut it into bitesize pieces, and throw them in during the last step when you simmer the soup again. This recipe makes a LOT of soup, so I usually cut it in half for the two of us (and we still have leftovers for a few days).

Tortilla Soup
2 Tbsp oil
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 small onion, chopped
2 cans sweet yellow corn
1 can Rotel tomatoes (or 1 can tomatoes + 1 jalapeno, minced)
7 plum tomatoes, chopped
1 small can tomato paste
2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp pepper
1 Tbsp salt
1 tsp chili powder
1 1/2 cups water (Note: I usually omit this, mostly because I forget to add it)
1 quart vegetable (or chicken) broth
Handful of tortilla chips, plus more for serving
Sour cream

Heat oil in a dutch oven over medium high heat. Add garlic and onion. Cook until onion turns translucent. Add 1 can of corn and rest of ingredients except sour cream. Bring soup to a low, even boil. Boil for 5 minutes.

Remove soup from heat. Puree with an immersion blender (or in a standing blender). Return soup to heat.

Add other can of corn. Simmer over low heat. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and more tortilla chips.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Crispy Rice & Bean Burritos

This is a combination of this recipe from Cooking Light (for the filling) and a recipe from Woman's Day magazine (for the cooking method). It is fast and easy and quite delicious. Since the recipe for the filling originally was a stand-alone dish, it is very good just on its own if you don't want a burrito. I also took out the olives from the original recipe.

Crispy Rice & Bean Burritos
1 bag instant brown rice, cooked according to package
1 15oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
1 medium avocado, diced and peeled (how to peel and pit an avocado the way I do it)
1/3 cup chopped green onions
1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Salt + Pepper to taste
4 burrito-size flour tortillas
Cooking Spray
Sour Cream for serving (optional)

After rice is cooked, stir in beans and next 5 ingredients (through salt and pepper). Toss gently to combine.

Spoon 1 cup mixture on each tortilla. Roll, tucking in 2 opposite sides to enclose filling (instructions on rolling a burrito). Coat with cooking spray.

Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add burritos, seam side down, and cook 5 minutes, turning as needed, until brown and crispy.

Serve with sour cream.

Makes 2-4 servings, plus some extra filling to snack on later.