Monday, January 26, 2009

Black Bean Stoup - "Stew meets Soup"

I have to give Rachael Ray credit for converting me from using boxed mixes and canned soups to make week night meals for my family. Actually, she was my inspiration to buy quality kitchen knives, and to stock my pantry with staples that helps me to throw a meal together in less than 30 minutes (this does not include the cleanup, thank you very much). I confess, though, that I can hardly stand to listen to her anymore. Her prattling and Rachaelisms have gotten on my last nerve! Whew! I got that off my chest.

However, there are a few of her recipes that are family staples. Her Black Bean Stoup recipe is one of them. I make and freeze my own chicken stock, but I do keep organic unsalted chicken stock in a box as a pantry staple. This recipe comes together really fast, and I did use boxed chicken stock. The only tweaking that I do with Rachael's recipe is that 3 cans of black beans (or you can soak and cook your own...and I do that, when I have time) isn't enough, for me. I prefer to add 4 cans. I have not had Rachael's success in mashing one can of black beans to thicken this recipe. Instead, I make a slurry of flour and water, and this works just fine to thicken the soup.

To me, I cannot skip adding fresh lime juice and fresh cilantro. It's what makes the whole soup come together with just the right flavors. I served this with Sweet Skillet Cornbread and a green salad for a hearty and delicious rainy night meal.

Black Bean Stoup

This is one of our favorite Rachael Ray recipes. It ...

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Friday, January 23, 2009

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Pinto Beans - Cowgirl style

I cannot resist checking in on The Pioneer Woman website on a daily basis. Her cookin' is simple, down home and delicious. I've made her onion straws, and loved them. We're experiencing glorious warm weather, in the middle of January, in California. So, we've rolled out the Weber and I plan to grill some Santa Maria Style Tri-Tip (recipe for delicious cornbread is coming soon). You've GOT to serve them with beans!

I'm fifty percent Mexican, so I love beans (and tortillas). I love 'em refried, as chili con carne, red beans & rice-- I just love beans. They're easy to make, inexpensive and good for you. I used Ree's recipe as a guideline, but the truth is... I didn't measure at all.

I am a cowgirl, at heart. Yessiree! I have a horse to prove it. She's almost 25 years old, but she was once a rootin' tootin' reigning cowhorse who won quite a few trophies. Here she is, with me, just yesterday afternoon:

The recipe is very basic, according to Pioneer Woman's recipe:
I adapted it to suit my taste

Pinto Beans Cowgirl Style

While I keep canned beans in my pantry for emergencies ...

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Roast Chicken with Meyer Lemon and Sage

I just love lemons-- especially Myer lemons. I have a Eureka lemon tree that is full of fruit. Alas, my Myer lemon tree has yet to gift me with that wonderful sweet fruit. I confess, that I made this recipe with Eureka lemons, because I could not bring myself to pay close to $1.00 each for small Meyer lemons at the grocery store. I just couldn't. Selfishly, I used my four Meyer lemons, from Trader Joe's (and a lot less expensive) to make Myer Lemon Sorbet. I don't have a photo of it, because we greedily ate it for dessert. I used the same recipe for my Ruby Red Grapefruit Sorbet.

This is a delicious recipe, that came together really fast. I used fresh sage from my garden.
With the leftover carcass, I made a beautiful chicken stock-- about 4 quarts of it. I simply added a bouquet garni of fresh rosemary, sage, thyme and parsley. I added the roasted carrots and onions (opting not to include it in my pan sauce-- which was delicious, by the way). The stock tastes lovely, and it's in the freezer for future meals.

But back to the roasted chicken dinner... I served it with roasted fingerling potatoes and a simple baby green salad with pears, gorgonzola cheese and a balsamic vinaigrette. So "Bistro" and good! The bonus was that this was a very economical meal.
From the Food Blog: Phoo-D
Serves 4
Recipe adapted from Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home

Roast Chicken with Meyer Lemon and Sage

This is a delicious recipe, that came together really fast ...

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Cracked Fingerling Potatoes

This recipe was adapted from Food Network. The original recipe ...

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Monday, January 19, 2009

Orange Blueberry Muffins

Monday mornings have become a traditional time for me to call my friend, Donna, who moved from Carmel to Rhode Island. The only reason she and her husband moved to tiny Rhode Island is to take care of her elderly mom. Trust me. I miss her as my Foodie Friend who shares the love of the same foods that I do. Inevitably, we get hooked into describing recipes and meals we've made.

Last week, I baked fresh blueberry pie. Since then, we've been enjoying fresh blueberries on our Irish Steel cut oats, and on cold cereal. Right now, they are fresh and a decent price to buy, so I've stocked up on them. Donna, I know that you love blueberries so I baked this new recipe from one of my favorite foodblogs, "Half Baked" . I usually think of blueberries and lemons as a perfect pair, but oranges... I had to make these, instead of blueberry pancakes. I'm sure glad that I did!

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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Chive Risotto Cakes

For Christmas, I treated myself to Ina Garten's newest cookbook "Back to Basics". There are quite a few recipes that I plan to make. They are simple, and not too time-consuming. A few days ago, I made seared scallops, and I decided to make her Chive Risotto cakes to serve as a side-dish. I love the crunch of panko crumbs, and I like to keep Greek yogurt on hand for lots of recipes. I grow my own chives, so this is the first recipe from my new cookbok that I wanted to try. This side dish is a nice change from mashed potatoes or a basic rice. It reheats very well. I think that you could take some liberties with this recipe, quite easily. You could use green onion for a little more "kick". You could switch to gruyere cheese, and you could even add a little red pepper flake if you really like some heat.

Chive Risotto Cakes

This recipe comes from Ina Garten "Back to Basics".  I ...

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Blueberry Pie (America's Test Kitchen)

NOTE: Oh my goodness!  Here it is, 2012, and these are some very amateur photos! I really need to re-shoot this recipe, because this was at the very beginning of learning how to photograph food!  This is so crude!  Still, the pie was good, and deserves an encore-- and new and updated pictures.

While shopping for groceries, on Sunday, I spotted a display of fresh blueberries that were on "special" at $6.00 for 18 ounces. I had just recorded an episode from America's Test kitchen on making perfect pie crust (using vodka) and blueberry pie. I was intrigued at the technique of mashing and cooking half the fresh blueberries, to release the pectin. Clever! The remaining blueberries are added "whole". The secret ingredient is to grate a Granny Smith apple, squeeze out the excess juice and adding that to the blueberries. The pectin from the apples would require less tapioca (or cornstarch) to be added-- thus, less risk of ending up with "concrete pie".

Gorgeous Fresh Blueberries

I followed the recipe to a "T"...well, I took one shortcut. I like making my own pie crusts, but I had a box of prepared pie crusts from Trader Joe's waiting to be used. It's a pretty darned good prepared pie crust, for times when you want to take short cuts.
I served the pie with a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream. As promised, the pie filling was firm, and not soupy. Overall, we liked the pie-- BUT, my family unanimously decided that we'd love this recipe even more with our beloved Olallieberries. It seems that the East Coast natives love blueberries the way that West Coast folks love Olallieberries (that are only native to us). Fortunately, I have some frozen olallies in our deep freeze. It looks like I'll have to plan another weekend to make my own pie crust and to repeat this successful recipe!

Blueberry Pie
from the Episode: The Best Blueberry Pie, America's Test Kitchen

This recipe was developed using fresh blueberries, but unthawed frozen blueberries (our favorite brands are Wyman’s and Cascadian Farm) will work as well. In step 4, cook half the frozen berries over medium-high heat, without mashing, until reduced to 1 1/4 cups, 12 to 15 minutes. Grind the tapioca to a powder in a spice grinder or mini food processor. If using pearl tapioca, reduce the amount to 5 teaspoons. Vodka is essential to the texture of the crust and imparts no flavor; do not substitute.

A printable recipe card is at the end of this post.

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