Friday, June 29, 2012

Tex Mex Black Bean Dip

I originally got this recipe from Cooking Light in the early 90's, when I was in the Navy living in DC.  My friend Beth was having a party, and I said "I'll bring some appetizers!"  Even back then, I was the appetizer queen.  Or at least, they were my favorite thing to eat.  Truth be told, until I was in my early 30's, my trips into the kitchen were disastrous about 1/2 the time.  I burned or cut myself, or the food wasn't that great.

But this one month, there were many dip recipes, and I made 3 of them.  This is the one I liked so much (they were all good though) that I wrote it on a card and kept it.  And have made it from time to time.  I'm not sure how it hasn't made it into the blog before.

A couple of days ago, I cooked up a pound of black beans.  Lo and behold, about a pound of dried beans gets you enough beans for a triple batch of this dip.  Now, if you are going to go to a party and take the dip, by all means, use a can of beans and make a small batch.  However, if you like black beans, and bean burritos, and bean nachos...then make a triple batch and freeze some for later.  These are destined for bean burritos tonight, and some will end up in the freezer too.

The original recipe can be found here.  This is a pretty versatile recipe.  I generally leave out the cheese unless I am serving the dip at a party.  I've added peppers.  I've used jarred salsa and homemade salsa.  I've used canned or cooked from dried beans.  If I don't have cilantro, I leave it out.  I've used fresh or canned tomatoes. I like mine spicy but generally make it mild for the family. 

Tex Mex Black Bean Dip (adapted from Cooking Light).
1 pound dried black beans, rinsed, sorted, soaked, cooked: 1.69 (you get about 7 cups)
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes, chopped finely: 0.58
1 medium onion, diced: 0.50
some diced bell pepper if you have it: 0.20
5 cloves garlic: 0.25
1.5 tsp cumin: 0.10
1.5 tsp chili powder: 0.10
1 Tbsp canola oil: 0.04
1 cup salsa: 0.50 (I used home canned)
salt to taste (because of the dried beans)
juice of 1 lime: 0.25

Total: $4.21 for 10 cups of dip.  $0.42 per cup, $0.21 per half cup of pure deliciousness

Saute the onion (and pepper, if using, I had a teeny bit leftover) until soft.  Add the garlic and saute 1 more minute.  Add cumin, chili powder, diced tomatoes and their juice (because, why not, what else are you going to do with the juice?), salsa, and cook down until the tomato juice has mostly evaporated.

Meanwhile, drain and mash the beans until chunky.  Add the beans to the cooked down mixture.  It will likely be a bit runny, so I cooked it on low for 1/2 hour or so.  If you make a smaller batch with fresh tomatoes, it's done quite quickly. I used my dutch oven to make this.  Add salt to taste and mix in lime (and cilantro, if using), after removing from heat.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

My birthday cake

I celebrated a birthday this week, and my spouse made me this cake.  The recipe was in this month's Sunset magazine, and it is delicious!  Yummy yummy, but with 2 sticks of butter, how can it be bad?  Buttery Lemon Raspberry cake.  I am not a baker, but I will enjoy the fruits of my husband's labor.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Vegan Thai Night

So, I pulled out a cookbook off the shelf yesterday and got inspired.  The cookbook was Nava Atlas' Vegan Express.  I've been meaning to try a couple of recipes from the book.  There are only a few photos in the book, but two of them were for Thai coconut corn soup and Thai pineapple fried rice.  They are supposed to be quick and easy, and I'm all about that these days.  And it's nice that I can find the recipes online so I can link them for you.

Another bonus: they use a lot of the same ingredients: red peppers, scallions, curry powder feature in both recipes.

The soup is touted as being amazingly simple and amazingly good.  And it did not disappoint.  Delicious!  I picked out the red peppers for the kiddo, and he enjoyed it immensely.  The only thing I would change next time is to use my dutch oven.  The soup pot I chose was too small and it boiled over and made a mess.  Good thing tomorrow is cleaning lady day.

The fried rice was a little bit bland.  Next time I'd add more curry powder, more ginger, and more soy sauce.  I topped mine with sriracha, of course.  I also made mine with white rice instead of brown.  My brown rice was buggy.  I'm not sure why.  The little bit of brown rice still in the original bag was fine (ziploc seal), but the rice in the canister with the sealed rubber lid was not.  Huh.

My only problem with the rice is that my new nonstick 12" pan is simply not big enough.  I might have to get a wok someday.

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Microwave

Tonight's dinner brought to you by the humble microwave.

I opted for a stir-fry, but I need to keep things fast and simple.  So here's how Mr. Mike was involved in our dinner.

Step 1: chop your vegetables - broccoli, carrots, kohlrabi.  Steam 4 minutes in the microwave.
Step 2: stir-fry some onion and red pepper in a little oil.  When they are soft, add the microwaved vegetables and some Trader Joe's Island Soyaki sauce.  Then add a little cornstarch and water mixed to thicken the sauce.
Step 3: Microwave the leftover sesame noodles from the weekend (look a couple of posts down for the link - yum!)
Step 4: Microwave some Aidells Chicken and Pineapple meatballs.
Step 5: Don't tell your kid about the pineapple.


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Skillet pasta with salmon and peas

You know I love my skillet pasta.  I've been kind of on fire this week with the cooking.  In addition to making the frittata and sesame noodles for the week on Sunday, I made this tasty dish on Tuesday.  I haven't baked any bread, but have been making oatmeal for breakfast too.  Yum yum.

You can find the recipe here.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Frittata and Sesame Noodles

This weekend was an exercise in prepping for the week.  In order to fill up my fridge with vegetables, I went with an old favorite Tri County Produce.  I haven't been there in awhile, but I walked a few miles on Saturday with friends and was in the area.  And they  have coupons.  I have never used a coupon there, because their prices are so reasonable it's VERY hard to spend the amount needed to get the coupon, unless you are buying meat and wine.  And I don't buy much of either.  I managed to spend enough to get 5 free ears of corn.  They were HUGE and very sweet too.  Not local, but good.

I picked up some discount bananas and tomatoes too.  I lost a couple of tomatoes (went bad before I could  use them) and the bananas are destined for banana bread.  I MEANT to make chocolate covered frozen bananas, but haven't had the energy.

Saturday night was pizza night (with corn and salad).  I made the dough in the bread machine and par-baked it.  That's always good for one more meal too.  At least for now.  I can foresee the day when both pizzas will be gone in one night. 

Sunday was the prep day.  I made a veggie frittata for lunches this week.

Bread crumbs
eggs and milk

Monday night was our 2nd pizza night, and also the night of my quilting group meeting.  We did a potluck.  I happened to find this recipe on one of the blogs I read, and it seemed perfect.  So I made that on Sunday too.  Our quilting potlucks are hilarious.  The last one (last month) had half desserts.  This one - not a single bite of chocolate, but a lot of carbs.  2 loaves of bread, 2 people brought crackers and cheese, I brought the sesame noodles.  Then two people brought fruit, but they BOTH brought green grapes and red cherries.  Hilarious.  Plus carrot soup and a vegetable dish.

My version of the sesame noodles had cooked broccoli and raw julienned summer squash instead of green onion, because one of my quilting friends is allergic to onion.  Also, a couple don't do gluten, so maybe next time I'll use rice noodles instead of pasta and tamari instead of soy sauce.  They were very tasty, but if I were making them for just myself?  I'd probably use some sriracha.

Up for the rest of the week: a stir-fry with kohlrabi, peppers, and broccoli and some teriyaki meatballs from Costco.  Probably a skillet pasta dish with canned salmon - maybe a creamy mushroom sauce.  I bought mushrooms.  I can make a cream sauce.  Should be doable if I have the energy.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Menu Plan and The Week in Pictures

My menu plans have been a bit free-form lately, based on my own energy level and what we happen to have in the fridge.  The CSA pickings have been heavier on the fruit, thus lighter on vegetables.  So I have to shop more on the weekends to round out the vegetables.  I haven't been sleeping much at all - it's now pretty uncomfortable to even FALL asleep, much less STAY asleep.  That affects my ability to cook and plan.

On the other hand, my son is in summer kids' care.  Our neighbor's daughter is not, so I have the option to stop at the store on the way home.  His summer program is at a different school, and Lazy Acres, Albertson's, and Mesa Produce are on the short 2 mile trip home.

This week's meals were:
Sunday: burgers at a friend's birthday party.  I made potato salad. Man, half the potatoes were perfect,  half were hard as a rock.  I can't figure that out.  Must be mommy brain.  I'm usually the potato salad master. I also made vegan paleo chocolate chip cookies (using maple syrup instead of the honey and upping the vanilla).  These were great and went really fast.

Monday: carrot and turnip ginger soup, and TJ's frozen breaded chicken
Tuesday: skillet pasta with zucchini, broccoli on the side
Wednesday: stopped at the store, so we had chicken, bean, and vegetable burritos and roasted cauliflower (this stuff is the bomb).  We used to make burritos all the time.  I'm not sure why they have fallen out of favor.  Not enough time to cook beans?  I bought a can.

Thursday: leftover pasta and the last of the soup
Friday: leftover burritos and salad

Tonight I'll be making pizza, and tomorrow is dinner at a friend's.  She wants to have me over before the baby comes.  We were going to do next Saturday.  But I think time-wise, that's pushing it.  I have 3 weeks to go, but my son was 2 weeks early.

Next week's meal plan:  I haven't made it yet, but we've got kohlrabi, zucchini, lettuce, chard, onions, lemons.  I'm thinking some sort of chard egg dish for sure.  I definitely will have to hit the grocery or farmer's market for more produce.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Barley corn basil risotto

Courtesy of Martha Stewart.
I found this in one of my cookbooks, and lo and behold, it's available on line too.  It was delicious.

I love risotto because you can make it in a pressure cooker and it's fast. The problem with barley risotto is that you can't - it will foam and clog up the cooker.  So.  Lots of stirring. It took too long.  We started too late (because my husband wasn't listening so well when I told him he needed to work on dinner because I was tired).

Anyhoo, at 7:15 pm we started eating.  Sorry for the bad pic, it's a cell phone pic. Who am I kidding - my regular pics aren't great either.  My camera was dead because I moved a bunch of pictures off and forgot to turn it back off.

Barley, corn, and basil risotto:
1 cup pearl barley: 0.40
4 cups vegetable stock: 1.99
2 cups frozen corn: 1.05
2 cups fresh basil: 1.00
2 Tbsp olive oil: 0.23
1/2 cup white wine: 1.00
1/2 cup grated parmesan: 0.75
1 medium onion: 0.40

Total: $6.82 for what is supposed to be 4 servings, but was really more like 5.  So...$1.36 per serving.  You could use cheaper wine, or leave it out.  And make your own vegetable stock.  But I was being lazy and bought stock.

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Random food photos

Sometimes, the only energy I have is to snap a photo and talk about it.  That's what it's gonna be today.  This was probably my roughest, most stressful work week ever.  Followed up by acupuncture and a good night's sleep. 

Breakfast: bread with egg, banana with sunflower seed butter

Dinner: bread and salad and black bean soup.

Kindergarten graduation: banana muffins

Dinner: the last of the pork and vegetable hash - potatoes, broccoli, carrots, squash

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Pork sliders and kale chips

I love kale chips.  You know it.  Had them for dinner today.

Busy weekend with a trip to the zoo - as we left they were setting up for Zoo Brew.  Lots of youngun's with pretzel necklaces and beer cups.

Today we took a trip up north to pick blueberries.  I wanted to go before I was too close and going to risk early labor.  We picked 6 lbs of blueberries, got 4 bottles of wine (I am a member at a winery, and it turns out I've missed 2 pickups in December and March...gee, wonder why?), and came home with a really sore back.

Then I did some work.  I worked quite a bit on Saturday...we bought a docking station for our laptops and large screen.  We canceled cable TV and upgraded our internet to faster.  It's great that I can work from home more easily...and it's bad that I can work from home more easily.  But today the network at work was slow, and it was an exercise in frustration, so I gave up early.

We've been busy washing and freezing blueberries for later this summer.  For dinner, I winged it.  I bought some small King's Hawaiian rolls from the discount rack at the grocery store.  I defrosted some pork loin and some enchilada sauce from the freezer.  I made up a concoction of the pork, black beans, onions, zucchini, enchilada sauce, and peach/mango salsa (to sweeten it up).  Served on the rolls with some avocado.  Quite delicious for just making stuff up.

As I was looking for the enchilada sauce in the freezer, I found a container labeled October 2010.  It had ice crystals.  I tossed that, along with some frozen persimmon that was probably from the same year.  Gotta do better at keeping up with the random freezer stuff.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Mix and Match

I just wanted to let you know that I *have* been cooking, just not posting.  The 3 day weekend had GORGEOUS weather.  We grilled a couple of times, despite the fact that Memorial Day weekend is the WORST weekend for my husband to be outside (allergies).

Saturday, we had friends over.  This is new.  I love to socialize with my buddies, but man, I've been so tired lately and it seems overwhelming.  So, do I have one big party with 10 couples and get it all out of the way?  Do I have people over one couple at a time, but do it more often?  Or do I just pass out early on Saturday and Sunday nights?  I'll take door #3.  Actually, it was a pleasant and easy evening.  We grilled sausage, I made a salad with a ginger-garlic dressing, and we steamed corn on the cob.

We also attended a kid's birthday party at a park.  PERFECT weather.  Kids got to play, I did my standard - I end up eating PB&J made for the kids at these parties because of the "pregnant women can't eat deli meat" thing (listeria).  I tell ya, the first lunch after I give birth, I'm sending my hubby to South Coast Deli for a South Coast Turkey sandwich.

Sunday night we grilled burgers (beef from Rancho San Julian - so good!) and had leftovers for Monday also.  Monday morning we went out to breakfast so the cleaning people could work in peace.  We used our Axxess discount book. What I'm discovering is - I'm learning MORE where not to go to eat.  I'm also discovering (by reading the book) restaurants that we really like and haven't used our discount yet.  Silly us.  We moved on to I Madonnari to see the chalk paintings, then spent the afternoon at the beach with friends, where my son got a bloody foot (poor baby) and I got a ton of tar on mine (my hubby got to work at it with canola oil when I got home).

After the weekend, the meals were a mix and match of leftovers and veggies.  I was so low on veggies by Thursday.  Wednesday night I made a pasta sauce with fava beans, fennel, onion, white beans, leftover bruschetta, and some cherry tomatoes from our plant out front.  It came out thick, like hummus.  For lunch the next day, I mixed it with leftover crockpot beef from the freezer a few weeks ago.  And for dinner, I took that concoction and added steamed chopped chard (topped with avocado).  I sauteed the stems with onion and potatoes for the side.  Here it is in all its ugly glory:

Tonight we're going to hear a coworker's band play at a local downtown winery, which I would enjoy a lot more if I weren't pregnant.  Still, should be fun.

Next week is shaping up to be a busy one, since it's the LAST WEEK OF SCHOOL.  There are kindergarten graduation (need to make muffins), doctor's appointment, end-of-year party, and then Friday there is no school, so hubby and I are splitting the day at home.