Search This Blog

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Three Bean Vegetarian Chili

Every chili recipe I have ever found - whether it be meatless or beanless - always has the longest list of ingredients.  There is usually at least 15, but often 20, and sometimes even more.  And every recipe is different.  All without fail have a can of crushed tomatoes.  Many also include beef broth, beer and/or tomato paste.  The variety of peppers and spices is endless.  So what to do?  I have experimented with Jim's chili recipe and it never turns out as good as what he's started with - which is the most delicious and least complicated chili recipe you can ever imagine. Only 6 ingredients, people.

You could easily turn this into a meat chili (now it's 7 ingredients) by simply cubing and browning some in a pan (or using ground meat), draining the fat, and then adding it to all the other ingredients in the pot.  Also, this is enough for a superbowl party of people.  On a normal day like today we tend to make an extremely large quantity of chili at one time and then eat some of the leftovers for a couple of days and freeze the other half of it for another time.  It freezes extremely well, but you can easily halve this recipe.  I've given you instructions to cook this in a slow cooker, but you can do the same exact thing in a regular pot on the stove and just cook it at a low boil until the onions and peppers are cooked (4-6 hours) - but now you can't leave the house.

Three Bean Vegetarian Chili

2 28-oz cans of crushed tomatoes (Pastene is my favorite)
3 29-oz cans of beans, drained and rinsed (any variety - I used black, pinto, and kidney beans)
1 yellow onion, chopped
3 poblano peppers, seeded and chopped
2 jalapenos, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup of chili powder

Combine all of the ingredients in a slow cooker and cook on high for 4 hours.  Turn to low and cook for another hour.

Serve with any of the following: cheese, sour cream (not me), tortilla chips, rice, corn bread, etc...and enjoy!


Monday, July 30, 2012

(No mayo) Italian Potato Salad

I hate mayonnaise.  (I also hate sour cream – but more on my strange food aversions another time.)  So this one is for all the people out there who prefer their potato salad sans mayonnaise - you will appreciate this.  For those of you who love mayo, this would be a really nice change.  This potato salad tastes like every fresh ingredient that goes into it.  It's lovely and refreshing.  Don't be shy with the salt and pepper.

This originally comes from Jim’s grandma and I learned how to make it from Jim’s mom.  I think the fact that this simple recipe is generational makes it taste even better.  Maybe Adrienne will make it for her children one day…

Italian Potato Salad
Serves 4

6 medium red potatoes, boiled and diced (I like to leave the skin that stay on)
1 clove of garlic, finely minced
2 tsp finely minced shallot or red onion
3 big basil leaves, chopped or chiffonade
¼ cup olive oil
salt, fresh ground black pepper, and crushed red pepper to taste

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl while the potatoes are still hot.
Refrigerate for at least 3 hours so all the flavors infuse the potatoes and it chills.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Sauteed (Purple and Green) String Beans

I get giddy when I find food in a color other than what is expected.  Orange cauliflower, blue potatoes, purple carrots.  You name it.  I like it.  Today, I stepped into Brox Farm - a local jewel - only to find...wait for it...purple string beans!  Oh yes, there will be string beans for dinner...oh yes, there will.

Unfortunately, to my disappointment, purple string beans are not only purple, but also hypercolor - because they looked pretty much like ordinary green string beans when I was done with them - so sad.  They still tasted good though.  So here is my super simple, super delicious, super healthy, sauteed string beans recipe.

Sauteed String Beans

1 lb of string beans, trimmed
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 shallot, chopped
olive oil for the pan
1/2 cup of chicken broth
salt and fresh ground pepper

Heat the olive oil over medium-low heat in a sautee pan with a lid.  Add the shallot and garlic and cook for about five minutes until softened.  Add the string beans and combine.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.  Add the chicken broth and cover your pan with a lid.  Turn the heat up to medium if necessary so that the broth at the bottom of the pan comes to a boil.  Let the beans steam until they become tender.  This usually takes about 15 minutes for me.  Try your best not to remove the lid because you want the beans to steam, but you'll need to lift the lid after about 10 minutes to assess their doneness.  In the meantime, shake the pan occasionally so that they all cook evenly.  If your chicken broth evaporates completely before your beans are done cooking, add some more to the pan and continue cooking covered.

Now here is the key to making some delicious sauteed string beans...once the broth has evaporated and your beans are done to your liking, remove the lid and continue cooking the beans for about five more minutes, stirring almost constantly so that your garlic and onions get a little caramelized but do not burn.

I served these tonight with some delicious steak tips that Jim grilled and Italian Potato Salad (that post to follow shortly.)  Heaven.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Baked Zucchini Fries

There is absolutely no bigger bummer than my love of fried food.  If I ate all the fried food that I truly desired, I would probably weigh 200 pounds.  I try my best to avoid it when I can so that when I do indulge, it isn't the end of the world.  Everything in moderation, right?  So zucchini fries seemed like a perfect opportunity to take the higher road.  In other words, I actually listened to the angel on my shoulder that sometimes gets masking tape slapped over her mouth.  Zucchini itself is so low in calories and fat that I needed to keep my desire to fry the hell out of it in check.  If I was frying cheese, that would be one thing...but zucchini???  What's a little bit of frying going to do really?  Add a butt-load of fat and calories.  So I baked these up to use some more of the garden zucchinis and to have a tasty not-so-bad for you side dish with tonight's veggie burgers.  French fries, shmench fries.

Baked Zucchini Fries

2 medium zucchini, cut into wedges
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup flour
2 eggs, lightly beaten
pepper to taste
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 cup grated romano cheese
cooking spray

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

Put the zucchini wedges in a colander.  Sprinkle with the salt and mix well.  Let sit for an hour and then rinse and dry the zucchini.

Set up a breading station - Put the flour in one bowl, the eggs and pepper to taste in another, and the rest of the ingredient mixed together in a third bowl.

Dip each of the zucchini wedges in flour making sure to shake off any excess before dipping it in the egg, and then shaking off the excess egg before covering it in the breadcrumb cheese mixture.

Lay the breaded wedges on a baking sheet covered in parchment paper or greased aluminum foil.  Spray them lightly with cooking spray.  Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes.  Remove from the oven and flip the wedges, spray lightly again with cooking spray, and then continue to bake for another 10-12 minutes.

You can serve this with some marinara sauce for dipping or just eat them as is.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Bread and Butter Pickles

It's time to pickle all those cucumbers that came out of our garden last week.  Last year, all of our cucumbers were extremely bitter, really ruining the whole pickle experience.  I looked it up and the bitterness could have been caused by uneven temperatures, uneven watering, or pure genetics.  Well I can't do anything about temperature fluctuations during a New England summer, nor can I genetically engineer my cucumbers (at least not yet.)  So I crossed my fingers when I tasted our current crop, and luckily, by sheer luck, they aren't bitter...phew.  So onto making some pickles...

If you like pickles with a little sweetness, then these are for you.  My personal favorite are the sour kind, but I haven't perfected my sour pickle recipe yet.  Until then, these are sweet, crisp, and delicious.  You'll need to tailor the amount of sugar to your personal preference.  The amount I use does not make the pickles overly sweet - otherwise, Jim wouldn't eat them.  They came out perfect (for me.)  I can't wait to put these on veggie burgers later in the week!  You'll find the recipe after these pictures.  Enjoy!

Bread and Butter Pickles
Makes enough for a 1-quart mason jar.

1 lb of cucumbers (I used the "pickling" kind), cut into 1/4 inch slices
1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
3 Tbsp kosher salt
1 cup distilled white vinegar
1 cup water
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 Tbsp mustard seeds
1 Tbsp coriander seeds

Combine the cucumbers, onion, and salt in a large bowl.  Mix them together well and then cover with ice. (This is supposed to keep them crisp.)  Let it stand at room temperature for 2 hours.  Put the vinegar, water, sugar, and spices in a pot and bring to a boil.  After the cucumber mixture has sat for two hours, rinse the mixture well.  Then add to your pot.  Almost bring it back to a boil and then set it aside to cool.  You can then put the pickles and the liquid into your jar(s) and into the refrigerator.  You will have pickles in as little as two hours and they will keep in the fridge for up to three weeks.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Zucchini Almond Pesto Pasta (and Hello!)

This is the very first post on my very first blog and I am very, very nervous.  I mean, who needs another food blog to read???  What else do I have to offer that all the other amazing cooks that blog before me don't already offer up on a daily basis?  Well, if you are anything like myself, then you are obsessed with food and cooking and search through blog after blog, drooling over food porn and saving recipes to whip up at the next earliest convenience.  Well then maybe you have come across me and will like what I have to show you - which is usually, but not always, healthy and tasty food.

I'm Amanda - a high school math teacher, graduate student, and mom.  When I'm not teaching, studying, or being a mommy, I am either cooking, jazzercizing, or sleeping.  If it's not the summer, I can often be found at night watching some good tv.  At least I think it's good tv, but my husband, Jim, will beg to differ.  I have been an enthusiastic amateur cook for about 6 years and recently taken up photography.  So I look forward to sharing some recipes and pictures.  Since I am extremely busy, you can rely on me to show you recipes that you can usually balance with a busy schedule.  I am definitely health conscience, and have a 2 year old daughter, Adrienne, that I would like to raise to be aware of what is going into her body.  So you can rely on me to show you healthy recipes as well.  Keep in mind that my motto is "everything in moderation - including moderation," so don't expect anything extreme.  I like a variety of foods that taste good and are good for you. 

 With that being said, me and Jim have a backyard garden, and in it are the most prolific zucchini plants.  In an attempt to stay on top of the zucchini-fall before we get completely buried, I experimented with some zucchini pesto - and it came out amazing!  So here is the first recipe of what is hopefully many to Amanda original.  The reason my pesto is an almond pesto (you don't see that very often - if ever) is because my husband despises both pine nuts and walnuts (ugh - I swear it kills me inside!)  Since I am such a nice wife, I use almonds instead.  I actually like it better than any other pesto I have ever made (in my pre-pine nut adverse Jim life.)  So thank you, Jim.  Also, don't expect to be knocked over by zucchini flavor.  It's pretty darn subtle due to the power of the pesto, but it's there and you know it.

In the future, I look forward to documenting the cooking process as well.  I didn't know I was going to finally start this blog until after I tasted this deliciousness.  That's how much I liked this dish.  It inspired me to finally start a food blog and share the recipe with everyone.  I hope you like it as much as I did.

Zucchini Pesto Pasta

3 cups fresh basil
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup grated romano cheese
1/3 cup sliced or slivered almonds
2/3 cup olive oil
1/2 an onion
1-2 cups shredded zucchini (about 1 medium zucchini)
1 box of whole grain pasta (I used penne.)
Salt and (crushed red) pepper to taste

Put your pot of water to boil.  Cook your pasta.  Before your drain it, reserve a cup of the cooking liquid to add to your sauce later.

Shred the zucchini in a food processor.  Set the shredded zucchini aside in another bowl.  You can rinse out the processor before you throw the pesto together if you so choose, but I am sure a little left over zucchini shred wouldn't hurt anyone.

Before you begin the pesto process, mince 2 of the garlic cloves and the onion and sautee in a pan with some olive oil over medium-low heat until the onion is translucent.  Then add the shredded zucchini and stir occasionally.  It does not need to cook very long.  It just needs to get warm and absorb some of the garlicky, onion flavor.

While this cooks, you can get your pesto together.  Combine the basil, the remaining garlic clove, cheese, almonds, and olive oil in the food processor and process until it is to your desired pesto consistency.  Now pour the pesto into the pan with the zucchini and combine.  Then pour this mixture into your pasta and mix it all together.  Add some of the cooking liquid so that it isn't dry.  I used about 1/2 of a cup.  Taste it and add more cheese, salt, or pepper to your liking.


(I bet this would taste really good with some chopped up sundried tomatoes if you like them.  If I had any on hand that day, they would have ended up in the dish.)