Refried Bean Enchiladas

During my adventurous cooking years – that would be my 7 years of poverty as a grad student – homemade refried beans were a staple. Once I discovered a recipe in New Recipes from Moosewood Restaurant, I was hooked. Their secret ingredient was soy sauce and it just makes them sing! Cooking up a batch of dried beans always makes me smug – pennies for such good food – and I love the smell of beans simmering on the stove. It has been a while since I made them and so when I had a hankering for bean enchiladas it reminded me that it was time to make a batch.

Being the DIYer I am, I also made the enchilada sauce, which was simple and shockingly easy. Pulling a few items from the pantry – tomato paste, chipotle in adobo (homemade sitting the frig) and some spices, I whipped up a delicious sauce in no time. My motto is why buy it when you can make it! I just have such a hard time spending money for someone else’s labor. Of course, I just love the satisfaction of making it myself, so don’t let me peculiarities get the way, buy sauce if you like!

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Posted in Cheese, DIY, Entree, Mexican, Vegan, Vegetarian | 1 Comment

Rosemary and Juniper Brined Pork Chops

Growing up, pork chops were in the regular rotation of my mother’s go-to meals. They were definitely one of my favorites but I have no idea how she made them or why they were so good (she doesn’t remember doing anything particularly special…it’s a mystery!) But as I began eating meat again 3 years ago after a 15 year hiatus, today’s pork chops were not meeting the rosy memories of my childhood. Until I discovered brine and marinades.

Pork may be the other white meat, but like the original white meat it generally needs some doctoring to boost its flavor. Marinades can provide lots of flavor like my¬† Miracle Marinade but I was looking for a more porkier tasting chop. That’s where brine comes to the rescue. A simple brine of salt water and a few herbs ensures that your chop stays moist when you cook it and highlights the pork flavor. Delicious!

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Posted in Entree, Herbs, Meat | 1 Comment

Kale and Slow Roasted Tomato Fusili

Someone on the Food Network has a show that is all about “five ingredients or less.” While I”m a fan of short and easy recipes, there are plenty of dishes that are well worth the intimidation factor when it comes to a long list of ingredients. Fortunately for those who want short and sweet, this is the dish for you.

This was another quick and easy meal that uses the Slow-Roasted Tomatoes that I stashed in the freezer – thanks again to Eve of Garden of Eating for turning me on to this method. Of course sun-dried tomatoes would make a decent substitute, as long as they are well rehydrated. But the slow roasted tomatoes are just this side of dried, still soft and slightly plump but with that sweetness that sun-dried ones have. Preserved lemon adds some zip and zing but again is not necessary; substitute some fresh lemon zest after tossing all of the ingredients and you will get the same effect.

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Posted in Entree, Pasta, Presto Pasta Night, Quick, Vegan | 3 Comments

Strawberry Topped Lemon Cake-Muffins

Let’s play a game. Say there is an ingredient sitting in your refrigerator that needs to be used up or it will be tossed upon the mountain of guiltily-thrown-away-food that lingers in your conscience. For this round of the game let’s say the ingredient is buttermilk. You look through your saved-to-make blog posts and put a few aside, but none of them really get you jazzed. So then you use your favorite search engine, Food Blog Search and that pulls up some interesting cakes and biscuits and even a few brunch bread items, but they still don’t stick. Then you notice that it is Sunday night and there is no bread in the house for your morning toast, no yogurt to go with your granola and the half and half will barely get you through your morning coffee let alone serve as milk for some granola. Muffins! That’s the ticket! Use up that buttermilk and make some yummy muffins.

Finding Smitten Kitchen’s brilliant new muffin recipe made it all sound too perfect. At last, the pieces were falling into place. But then you realize that your hand-held beater is still missing the piece that keeps the beaters in place and you have only one lemon. So McGyver it Miss Cook!

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Posted in Baked Goods, Brunch, Dessert, Fruit | Leave a comment

Eggplant "Bruschetta" Sans Bread

This post is for everyone south of the border or living in a temperate climate where it still feels like summer on a good day and spring on a “cool” day. I have been meaning to give Deb of Smitten Kitchen’s recipe a try ever since I can across it. And as usual, she does not disappoint!

While her version called for fresh tomatoes, these beauties from a post by Eve of Garden of Eating were waiting to be devoured. Substituting them was a stroke of creative invention. I loved how the sweetness and chewiness of the roasted tomatoes paired with the briny capers and red wine vinegar.  You could easily leave out the ricotta salata to make it vegan – there is such an abundance of flavor that you won’t miss it.

I bought small eggplants so that the rounds would not be too big. Keeping the skin on keeps the juices intact so that when you bite into these delicious morsels, you simultaneously taste creamy eggplant, crisp exterior and an explosion of Mediterranean flavors in a single bite. Japanese eggplant would probably work really well too, but be prepared to make extra, these are strangely addictive!

Eggplant “Bruschetta” Sans Bread (inspired by Smitten Kitchen)

3 baby eggplant (or 1 large) about 1 lb
20 Slow Oven Roasted Tomatoes
1 tablespoons capers, minced
1/4 cup red onion, minced
1/3 cup oil cured black olives, minced
1 tablespoon fresh mint, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
black pepper
2 tablespoons ricotta salata, crumbled (Optional)
olive oil to grease baking sheet or use oil spray
salt

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut tops and bottoms off of eggplant(s) and slice into 1 inch rounds. Spray or oil baking sheet and lay eggplant on sheet, and salt and pepper eggplant. Bake for 12-14 minutes until bottoms are browned; flip and salt and pepper and spray with oil and bake another 8 minutes until crisp. Meanwhile, combine remaining ingredients in bowl and mash well. Adjust for salt and pepper (if using ricotta salata, it is salty, to be careful). Spoon on top of baked eggplant and eat immediately.

Hugs!

Recipes currently inspiring me:

Light Tomato Coconut Soup at ECurry!
Poblano Mac and Cheese at Nutmeg Nanny
Roasted Tomato Soup with Broiled Cheddar at Smitten Kitchen

Posted in Herbs, Hors d'oeuvres, Quick, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian | Leave a comment

Vegan White Chili

I first came across “white chili” while living in Minnesota. Usually, it is white beans, chicken and some chilies, although not too much. Minnesotans don’t like too much heat, at least in their food! But lately I’ve been challenging myself to cook vegan and the idea of making a vegan white chili popped into my head.

Cooking with tempeh is a great vegan protein. A fermented soy product, it is easier to digest because it is fermented, but unlike other fermented products, does not have a sour or acidic taste. Similar to tofu, it absorbs the flavors it is cooked with. Tempeh has a nutty flavor, that is tempered by how much spice you add to it. In this chili I simmered it for about 30 minutes and the green salsa flavor really permeated it. Delicious!

As always, do not skimp on the garnish, it really makes all the flavors pop!

Vegan White Chili

1 package tempeh, original or 5 grain, cut in 1/4 inch cubes
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, minced
2 serrano peppers, minced
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups salsa verde (such as this recipe)
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 15 oz can navy beans (or 1 1/4 cups beans with their cooking liquid)
2 teaspoons chili powder
1-2 teaspoons brown sugar
salt
pepper
cilantro and red onion, minced for garnish

In a large sauce pan heat olive oil and saute onion, garlic and serrano peppers over medium high heat for 10 minutes. Add coriander and cumin and stir and cook another 2-3 minutes. Add tempeh and stir to combine and cook another 5 minutes. Add salsa verde, chili powder and beans and bring to boil. If salsa verde is thick, thin with a little water and cook chili for 10 minutes. Taste for spiciness and add 1-2 teaspoons of brown sugar according to taste. Season with salt and cook another 15 minutes to allow tempeh to absorb flavors and soften. Serve with minced cilantro and red onion garnish.

Hugs!

Recipes currently inspiring me:

Italian Stuffed Squash from Very Culinary
Fresh Fig and Strawberry Tart from Eats Well With Others
Tiramisu alle Pesche from Aglio, Olio e Peperonciono

Posted in Entree, Mexican, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian | Leave a comment

Mushroom Sugo with Rotini

 If you have not already visited Elise’s blog Simply Recipes, you should. She has a huge repertoire of recipes and she does a fantastic job of describing them, well, in a word, simply. Not only does the blog update nearly every day, but she has introduced me to so many new things when I thought that I had heard it all. This Mushroom stew is a perfect case in point.

Made similarly to Bolognese meat sauce without the milk or cream, it is a slow simmered creation that allows the porcini mushrooms to shine. Since it only calls for 1 oz of dried porcini, this is really an economical meal while tasting luxuriously gourmet. Just my style!

Although I followed this recipe almost to the letter, I did make a slight change. Dried or powered bouillon cubes are just never in my pantry so I tossed in some kombu (seaweed I use for cooking dried beans) since it adds that umami flavor that beef adds. Worked like a charm!
 
Mushroom Sugo with Rotini (from Simply Recipes)

1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, minced
1 carrot, minced
1 stalk celery, minced
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
1/2 teaspoon fresh rosemary, minced
1/4 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced
1/4 teaspoon fresh oregano, minced
1/4 cup dry red wine
8 oz tomato sauce
1 two inch piece of kombu
1 bay leaf
Freshly ground black pepper

Soak dried mushrooms in 2 cups of hot tap water. Strain and reserve liquid and minced mushrooms. Over medium heat saute onions in olive oil until soft. Turn heat down to low and cook gently for 30 minutes until onions turn golden but do not brown. Add carrots and turn heat up to medium high and cook 3-4 minutes. Add celery and cook 3-4 minutes until soft. Add red wine and turn heat up to high, stirring in vegetables and cooking until liquid is absorbed. Add mushrooms, garlic, herbs, tomato sauce, bay leaf, kombu and soaking liquid and bring to boil. Cover and reduce to simmer and cook 1 1/2 – 2 hours, stirring occasionally to keep stew from sticking to pan. Serve over pasta or polenta.

Hugs!

Pasta with Ricotta, Roasted Tomatoes, Figs and Arugula at Eats Well With Others
Berry Pie with Rye Flour Crust at 101 Cookbooks
Bacon, Swiss Chard and Tomato Penne at Cinnamon Girl Recipes

Posted in Entree, Italian, Mushrooms, Vegan, Vegetarian | 1 Comment