Saturday, August 28, 2010

Bean and Couscous Salad, and the Friends Who Inspired It

Summer is almost over! It's almost time to go back to school! I am so nervous/excited! This back to school season feels totally different than the rest. I am going to go through a huge change! A new house, new housemates, new school, new subject of study, new degree. Everything is new! All of my friends seem to be starting something new in September whether it be grad school, a new job, or traveling. Last weekend, a few of my friends from Waterloo got together and had a nice dinner which was perfect timing as the summer is coming to an end and before we get super busy in September.

I'm going to give you a quick rundown on these friends becuase I feel it is important in choosing the dish that I brought. Maybe not that important, but it will give this story a little something extra. There is William, a fellow lover of food, especially if cookies and chocolate are involved. He also loves to cook and try new recipes, particularly if it is French. He will turn the most simple dish sound like a French masterpiece. Then there is Max, the one who really convinced me to finally start this blog. He is always up for trying something new in the kitchen. Then we have Andrew, the token carnivore. Everyone has a carnivorous friend right? Clearly I'm exaggerating but not as much as you'd hope. Last but not least we have Miles. Oh Miles, how one can exist on cereal and pizza we will never understand. I like to tease him about his lack of vegetables because he literally defies all odds. This guy never gets sick while only getting his veggies from the top of a pizza! He has an immune system to die for! But I digress; why am I telling you all of this? Because making a dish to bring to a dinner with these friends has to A) impress the food critic that is William, B) have veggies becuase clearly I won't get to eat any otherwise, and C) make those veggies taste great so the carnivores will get their vitamin C for the year (I joke).

Bean and Couscous Salad

1-2 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1 cm piece of chili pepper
1/4 tsp cumin
1 medium carrot, chopped
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 can red kidney beans
3 cups cooked couscous
1 small purple pepper (any colour really), chopped
1/2 large green pepper, chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1/2 cup chopped cucumber

Dressing: from allrecipes.com

1/4 cup fresh lime juice
3 tbsp olive oil
2.5 tsp chili powder
2.5 tsp cumin
1 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt

Add olive oil, garlic, and chili pepper to a pan and heat on medium-high. Heat for a few minutes until fragrant.



Add carrot, onion, and cumin and saute until onions are translucent and carrots are softer (but not fully cooked).



Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool. In a large bowl, combine beans, couscous, onion mixture, peppers, tomato, cucumber, and celery and mix to combine.



Combine ingredients for the dressing in a closed container and shake to mix well. If you have the time, allow dressing to refrigerate for a couple hours to allow the flavours to come together. I did not quite use all of this dressing for this salad. How much you want to use is really up to you. It is also good to add the dressing and refrigerate a few hours before serving.

As far as I could tell, the salad was a hit. Straight from Miles' mouth: "It tastes like tacos!"

Mission: Accomplished.

I move into my new house tomorrow and am in the middle of packing. I am not sure when the internet will be up and running but I hope to be posting from my new kitchen soon!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Oven Roasted Tomatoes, and Refreshing Iced Green Tea

I'm going to begin today with a bit of disclaimer. Today is not a recipe day. These foods are just too simple to be labeled as such. While ever so simple, the oven roasted tomatoes and iced green tea have been simple pleasures for me the past week so I thought I would share them.

With so many tomatoes around here, believe it or not was getting a little tired of eating them raw. I love raw tomatoes but I also love a good plump and juicy cooked tomato. Whether whole or in sauce or stew, I love them. Roasting tomatoes is very easy and results in wonderful flavour. They are so versatile and can be used for almost anything!

You may recall the roasted tomatoes from the Eggs with Tomato post. Those were roasted with just a touch of olive oil. The day before however I made roasted tomato with onion. I meant to add garlic as well but I forgot...typical!


Oven Roasted Tomatoes


Slice plum tomatoes in half and put into a bowl. Add chunks of onion and halved garlic cloves. Sprinkle with basil and oregano. Toss in olive oil until coated. Place on pan cut face up and bake for 30 minutes at 400 degrees F. Cut into smaller pieces as desired once cooled.



Since there are so little seeds these would be great to add to a stew or to a stir fry. There is enough flavour in these to simply top a piece of crusty bread, or toss with some pasta.

Along with tomatoes, summer brings hot afternoons and cravings for cooling drinks. I wanted something that was more flavourful than my go-to liquid (water) but wasn't loaded with sugar. I settled on making some home-made iced green tea.


Iced Green Tea


Heat water in a medium pot (I have no idea how much I used). Once almost boiled, remove from heat, add three tea bags, and cover with a lid. Depending on how strong you want the tea, you can steep it longer or add less water/more tea bags. Once the desired strength is reached, remove the lid and allow to cool. I was told that the beneficial compounds in green tea are volatile and therefore you should keep it covered while still warm. Therefore, I recommend keeping the pot covered, and placing it in a larger pot with ice to speed the cooling. While waiting for the tea to cool, squeeze one half of a lemon into a pitcher. Once the tea is no longer hot, pour into pitcher and put in refrigerator until cold. When ready to serve, add some frozen fruit to keep it cool, and sweeten it just a tad.



This definitely hit the spot!

Today was a beautiful day in Hamilton, Ontario. The air was crisp and the sun was still warm. I can definitely feel fall around the corner. Last weekend a friend of mine hosted a BBQ to bring some friends together as the summer comes to a close. My next post will feature my contribution to the meal.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Eggs with Tomato

I tried to think of a better title for this recipe, I really did. But no such luck. I got this recipe from A Cozy Kitchen. I saw it while browsing Google reader and thought that I definitely wanted to make it one day. The very next day I really wanted to use up some tomatoes and thought it would be perfect. It then took me about 20 minutes to find this recipe as I had forgot which blog it was from. Story of my life.

I was really excited to make this as I love eggs and I am loving the tomatoes from the garden. I altered the recipe a bit but not much. It is tomatoes and eggs, so there isn't much wiggle room here. I don't want to hype this up too much but I was blown away by this meal. It is so simple yet just so delicious. Since it is mostly tomato, you gotta get the best that you can find (not hard to do this time of year; head to the farmer's market) or else you will most likely be disappointed.

Eggs with Tomato adapted from A Cozy Kitchen

3 plum tomatoes, halved
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 clove of garlic, chopped finely
dried red pepper flakes to taste, or freshly chopped red chili pepper
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1 egg, yolk separated
crack egg and allow egg whites to drain into a bowl. Once egg yolk is separated, put it in a seperate bowl that will allow easy manipulation of yolk without breaking.
1/2 cup egg white
2 tbsp ricotta cheese
0.5 tbsp chopped fresh basil
1 tbsp chopped chives
2 pieces of bread, the crustier the better

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Slice the tomatoes in half and brush with 1/2 tbsp olive oil. Roast in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Allow to cool enough to cut into chunks.



To a cold pan, add 1/2 tbsp olive oil, chili pepper, dried oregano, and garlic.



Heat to medium-high until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Increase heat to high and add chopped tomatoes, crushing with spoon even more.



Stir frequently until most of the liquid has reduced. Reduce heat to medium and add egg whites and ricotta cheese, stirring continuously until combined and cooked throughout. Add chives and basil.



Turn heat to low and create an indentation. Slowly pour the egg yolk in this divot.



Cover pan with a lid to heat the egg yolk. If you prefer non-runny yolk, poke it a bit and allow it to spread. Heat covered until desired consistency is reached. Serve with toasted bread slices.



I enjoyed this so much! I have made it twice since. Once I added some spinach as well which was pretty good. This is a great way to eat tomatoes as the fats help to absorb fat-soluble vitamins and antioxidants. This is definitely a lunch staple for me as long as fresh tomatoes are available!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Sweet Summer Slaw

This year we are growing red cabbage in our garden, as requested by myself. I love to use red cabbage in salads, soups, stir-fry, you name it. It is always so inexpensive and yields so much cabbage! The only problem is, I can't finish it on my own before it starts to go bad. So now we have four mature cabbage plants in the backyard...time to be creative I guess.

Thankfully they did not all grow at the same rate, and there is a large window for harvesting. Last week I picked the first (and biggest) head of red cabbage. It was a beautiful bright purple once I peeled away the dark and dingy outer leaves. I decided to make a big cabbage salad. I feel like vegetables grown in your own yard deserve to be eaten raw at first to really enjoy their natural flavour, so that is what I did. This salad is colourful, sweet, and truly is the taste of summer.

Sweet Summer Slaw

4.5 cups of chopped red cabbage


purple overload!

0.5 cups of sliced onion



3 medium carrots, chopped julienne
3 corn on the cobs, yielding about 1 cup of kernels
handful of basil leaves, chopped finely
olive oil
cider vinegar
salt and pepper
garlic powder

Chop everything "julienne" style as best you can. Thinly sliced pieces allows you to get multiple veggies in one bite which means more uniform flavour. I tossed all the veggies together with the basil and added olive oil and cider vinegar in about a 1:2 ratio. Then added garlic powder, salt, and pepper to taste. The salad is excellent on it's own just like this (and oh so colourful). The basil and corn are wonderful together and sweeten up the crunchy cabbage. I am in love with the corn and basil combination.



Now we have tonnes of tomatoes right now, and the only reason why there are not tomatoes in this salad is because my mom doesn't like them. However, once in my own bowl, I made some personal modifications to this salad that made it even better.

I added about 1 medium tomato, 1/2 can tuna, and a couple tablespoons of cottage cheese. These additions made the salad a complete meal and was incredibly satisfying.

Like I said earlier, we have a TON of tomatoes. I'm averaging about 4 to 6 tomatoes a day I think, so I'm sure getting my dose of antioxidant carotenoids. "Where are all the tomato recipes?" you ask? They are on their way. I have been eating a lot of raw tomatoes, but my lunch today, utilizing oven roasted tomatoes, was so out of this world, that it has pushed it's way to the front of my posting list and you should be reading all about it very soon.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Mushroom and Zucchini Risotto

I have been wanting to make Risotto for a REALLY long time (like 1.5 years long). I have made fake risotto where it is just plain rice in a thick sauce that gives it a risotto feel, but not a real risotto made with Arborio rice. I finally got around to buying Arborio rice so I had all I needed really. It is such a versatile dish that is fairly easy (but a little boring) to make. A recipe is hardly needed and you can really get your creative juices running.

This isn't something I would make all the time. The only reason why is because Arborio rice is white rice and has a higher glycemic index than the all powerful brown rice. This means that the body releases the carbohydrates more readily which is not desired when choosing carbohydrates. But, in moderation, risotto made with Arborio rice is a wonderful treat and worth the efforts (from your biceps and triceps...from stirring).

I guess it has been almost two weeks since I made this. I found a recipe for a zucchini risotto which I used as a guideline as I had never made risotto before. I varied from it a bit and made a mushroom zucchini risotto. The ingredients for this dish are so simple which makes it so beautiful. When making risotto choosing the liquid for the rice to absorb is probably the most important. Be sure to pick good quality liquids. Whether you use tomato juice or broth or what-have-you, make sure it is awesome. I used my favourite vegetable broth for the occasion. I can't remember the brand but I think it may be Pacific All Natural Organic Vegetable Broth. Anyway, the key point is that the ingredients should have nothing but vegetables, water, and a little bit of salt.

Mushroom and Zucchini Risotto adapted from www.allrecipes.com...I think.

7 cups vegetable stock
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cups uncooked Arborio rice
3 small zucchini
3 portabello mushroom caps
50 g soft unripened goat's milk cheese
black pepper to taste

Bring vegetable broth to a simmer in a medium pot. Heat olive oil in a separate pot on medium. Add onions and heat for 3 minutes until softened. Add the zucchini and portabello and satuee until browned nicely, about 5-8 minutes.



Add the rice and stir until coated, about 2 minutes. Ladle in the vegetable broth about 1 cup at a time, slowly stirring until most of the liquid is absorbed.



Add seasoning at this point (pepper or thyme in this case). Continue this adding and stirring until the rice is creamy yet al dente in the center. This was about 45 minutes for me. Once the rice is cooked, add in the cheese. I used goat's milk but Parmesan is definitely tradition here.



The broth I used could stand alone as a soup and therefore this risotto turned out very thick, which isn't really a bad thing. Next time I think I would dilute the broth a bit, or use a tomato juice. Also be careful when using broth to watch for the sodium content. Because you are basically concentrating the broth, it can end up quite salty if you don't use a low-sodium variety.

I will be making this again in the future, possibly with tomatoes since we are on lycopene overload over here, as I still have some Arborio rice. Look out for it!

In my next post I will talk about a wonderful Summer Slaw with lots of seasonal vegetables, mostly from my own backyard!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Peaches Galore

There are peaches galore right now. I think it is coming to an end but a few weeks ago they were everywhere. My parent's picked some up in the Niagara region and I wanted to use them in different ways than usual. The usual would be as they are, in some yogurt, or in my oatmeal. After reading some recent posts in some food blogs, I settled on Whole-Wheat Peach Scones and Peach Wine Coolers. That is one advantage to reading a ton of food blogs, often you find recipes to veggies and fruits that are in season. This is especially true if you read blogs from people who live in your region. I particularly like: OhSheGlows, Posts by Doug Di Pasquale and Joy McCarthy on Thatsfit, and Seasonal Ontario Food.

Whole-Wheat Peach Scones from www.danispies.com

These scones are not the sweetest out there, which is why I like them. A nice healthy scone when you have a craving for baked goods. These scones taste best warmed up with a little bit of butter.



2 cups whole-wheat flour
2.5 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup + 1 tbsp of raw sugar (turbinado sugar)
1 1/3 cup milk (I used soy)
1 heaping cup of chopped peaches
1 tbsp melted butter

Makes 6 large scones

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Mix the flour, baking powder, salt, and 1/4 cup of sugar together. Add milk while stirring until it just comes together. This batter is very sticky. Add peaches and mix until just incorporated. I found the dough far to sticky to form into a mound and cut into wedges like the original recipe described, so I just made individual mounds on the greased baking sheet. Brush the scones with melted butter and sprinkle with 1 tbsp of turbinado sugar (this step is optional). Bake for 18 to 20 minutes until lightly browned.

These scones are very versatile. The original recipe was with blueberries. I could see adding just about anything to these scones to make a delicious new variety.

Peach Wine Cooler from www.annie-eats.com



2-3 fresh peaches, peeled and chopped
1 ounce of peach schnapps
small pinch of kosher salt
750 mL bottle of dry white wine
ice for serving
sliced peaches for garnish

Makes 3-4 servings

In a food processor, combine peaches, peach schnapps, salt, and 1 cup of white wine. Puree for about 1 minutes, until frothy. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours. To serve, pour over ice in wine glass and top up with white wine.

These coolers where very refreshing on a hot summer evening.

I would like to leave you with some photos I took yesterday. While gardenning, a Monnarch butterfly came around and landed on the marigolds in the garden. I immediate ran upstairs to get my camera. Thankfully, it was still around.



I also snapped some pictures of all the veggies from the garden that I picked today. We are overflowing!!!

Basil, chives, oregano and thai basil from the herb garden.



A cute stunted chili pepper and a normal chili pepper, first of the year.



Freshly picked baby lettuce in a cool water bath.



All picked in one day. Look at all that red!



Well, I am off to enjoy a nice afternoon with my friend Will. I am going to take him to Montfort's in Westdale in Hamilton. They have the best falafels! Then we are off to the Rogers Cup to see ROGER FEDERER play IN PERSON!! I am very excited.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Plantain Chips

I have very limited experience with plantains. It is a cousin of the banana, my favourite fruit, so I figured I should experiment with it out of respect. I can only remember two occasions where I actually have had plantain: 1. In Dominican Republic, I believe it was mashed, and 2. at Margarita's in Waterloo, as a chip to dip into guacamole. Now since avocados are my new best friend, I thought this would be a great thing to do with a plantain.

So I purchased a plantain. It was green. I waited and I waited for it to turn ripe. Finally a few days later it was ripe. Once it was ripe I did some research and found that there are lots of uses for green plantains as well. Aparantly it is best to make baked plantain chips with a green plantain, and to make fried or mashed plantain with ripe plantains. So since I had a ripe plantain on my hand, I had to resort to frying the plantain chips. Of course, my version of frying is merely using about a tbsp of oil in the pan, not really "frying".

Plantain Chips

1 plantain
1 tbsp olive oil

serves 2

So I peeled and sliced up the plantain into 1/2 cm slices. I heated the olive oil on medium-high. I then placed the slices on the pan without crowding. After about 5 minutes, flip the slices and heat for another 3 to 5 minutes. You have to watch these carefully becuase they burn quickly.



These went great with the guacamole that I made, based off of the Avocado Salsa Verde from my Mexican Fiesta post. It is my mom's new favourite.

I have since had a new found love for plantains and bought another one the other day. I thought about making plantain tortillas and found a recipe online. The tortillas didn't really turn out (they kind of crumbled), but still tasted good with some spicy quinoa, tomatoes and cottage cheese.



I really like the idea of making tortillas out of plantains and will hopefully get it to work in the future.

Up next: 2 delicious ways to use up all those Ontario peaches!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Heirloom Carrots, Salt & Vinegar Potatoes...and more

As I was uploading my pictures onto my computer today, I realized how much cooking/baking I have done in the last week. As to not overwhelm you (or myself), I will take it one day at a time. I will go back to Saturday July 31. I lucked out and did not work all weekend, but that left me with a lot of free time with very little to do. Most of the weekend was spent with Jenna, asking each other; "What should we do?" All in all it was a relaxing and enjoyable weekend. We managed to rollerblade at Bayfront, walk Locke St., stroll the Hamilton Farmer's Market, walk to the William's at Bayfront, and of course, cook a delicious meal filled with new recipes and ideas.

Initially I knew I wanted to use up some jarred stewed tomatoes in the fridge, and for some reason I also thought of the package of frozen okra that I had in the freezer. That took care of one dish, Okra with Tomato Sauce. The second dish was inspired by Oh She Glows as well as Heidi Swanson of 101cookbooks (surprise, surprise). At first glance of 'Salt and Vinegar Potatoes', I knew I would be making those one day. I LOVE salt and vinegar chips so I was looking forward to making a much healthier alternative. We both agreed the long weekend would be a perfect time to experiment with this recipe.

So the goal of our trip to the Hamilton Farmer's Market was to A) get potatoes and B) other goodies for our meal. As soon as I spotted these heirloom root vegetables, I knew I had to have them and eat them. How cute! I love cute small food.



Our meal was now missing one thing, protein! We opted for tuna (the canned variety), which we made into a delicious salad. To make the salad more complete, we wrapped it in swiss chard leaves, inspired by Oh She Glows.

Okra with Tomato Sauce

1 package of frozen okra
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 jar stewed tomatoes
1/4 cup onion
cumin
cayenne pepper
salt and pepper

Okra is a tricky vegetable to cook with. This is only the second time I have used it, but it turned out much better than the first. Okra secretes a mucous when cut and/or cooked at lower temperatures. Therefore, the best way to cook okra is by frying or high-heat stir fry.

For the sauce: heat 1 tbsp olive oil on medium heat and then add the onions. Cook until translucent. Add the stewed tomatoes and reduce heat. Cover and allow to simmer for 10 minutes. At this point, season to your liking. I just added cumin and cayenne until I liked the flavour. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. Once the sauce is almost done, cook the okra.

For the okra: Heat 1 tbsp olive oil on medium-high and add the frozen okra whole. Keep the pan at as high of a temperature as the oil will allow. This will prevent oozing from the okra. Beware, cooking okra splatters!!! Cook until heated through and browned.




Put the okra in a serving dish and pour sauce over top.



The okra turned out very well, not slimy at all. Jenna was a big fan. Now I know how I like my okra and will definitely use this cooking method in the future. The tomato sauce was nothing special but went well with the okra.

Salt and Vinegar Poatoes from 101cookbooks.com

2 potatoes
vinegar to cover
olive oil
salt and pepper

Cut the potatoes to your desired thickness (the thinner they are cut, the crispier they will turn out). Put into pot and cover with white vinegar. Cover and bring to a boil. Depending on the thickness of the slices, boil for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit in the vinegar for 30 minutes. Be ware of the acetic acid vapour, it will burn your nose/eyes a bit.



Spread the potato slices on a baking sheet. Toss in olive oil and salt. Bake for 30 minutes at 425 degrees F. Turn, adding more olive oil and salt if desired, and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes.



These turned out FANTASTIC! I LOVED THEM. They are vinegary so you gotta love the vinegar to like these potatoes. I can't wait to make them again. This idea of boiling veggies in vinegar can be used for a large variety of vegetables. I can't wait to do some experimenting.

Roasted Heirloom Carrots and Potatoes

Carrots
Potatoes
Onions
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper
oregano, thyme or savory (optional)

Roasted vegetables are so easy to make, and I have been craving them a lot lately. It makes me want fall/winter for the abundance of root vegetables and squashes.
Cut the veggies into appropriate thickness so they will cook roughly in the same amount of time. In a deep baking pan, toss in olive oil, salt and pepper and herbs of your choice. We added some fresh oregano.



The dish was covered in foil and roasted in a 425 degree F oven for 30 minutes. We used this temperature becuase they were in the oven with the salt and vinegar potatoes, but normally I would roast vegetables at around 375 degrees F for 30 to 45 minutes.



This dish was very simple and earthy. The heirloom veggies definitely had unique flavours. It was also fun to eat purple carrots.


Tuna Salad Swiss Chard Wrap
, inspired by Oh She Glows

1 can of flaked tuna, drained
onion
avocado
tomato
carrot
hot banana pepper
lemon
goat cheese

Chop everything nice and small and mix together. I don't know exactly how much of everything we added but it doesn't matter. The important thing is that you include avocado (or else!). This salad is similar to the Zesty Tuna Salad I made back in June.



The mixture was then spooned into the middle of a swiss chard leaf. Each flexible edge was folded inwards to form a wrap.



While this wrap looks like rabbit food, it was actually very hearty! As far as I can remember, this was the first time I had swiss chard. I really liked using the leaf as a wrap becuase it has structure and crunch.

That all seems like a lot of food doesn't it! Here was our plate in case you forgot anything:



The weekend was filled with other good eats that I will share in due time. I will be volunteering at the Kitchener Blues Festival this weekend so I might have to keep you in suspense until my return. Let's just say I dealt with an abundance of peaches, cooked with a particular fruit for the first time, and made a popular dish that I have never attempted before.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Mexican Fiesta!

Here I go again with the Mexican food. It wasn't my idea this time I swear! Will said he was bringing avocados to make guacamole and tortillas to make homemade chips. You cannot avoid wanting some beans and rice to with.

We decided to make a Bean and Corn Chili Salad as well as Mexican Rice. I used these recipes as a guide to get the desired Mexican flavours. Will had seen a recipe for the Avocado Salsa Verde and the homemade tortilla chips and started off with that. I am working from memory here and these dishes were made almost a week ago. I hope I get the avocado salsa verde recipe right, although, you can't really mess up guac.


Avocado Salsa Verde


3 avocados
1 small bunch of green onions
2-3 jalapeno peppers
1-2 limes, juice only

Add everything to the food processor and blend until creamy smooth. To make sure leftovers to do not brown, sprinkle some lemon juice on top.


Whole-Wheat Tortilla Chips


tortillas
olive oil
salt and pepper

Cut the tortillas into triangles like a pizza. Brush with olive oil and add salt and pepper to taste. Bake in a 400 degree F oven until crispy and lightly browned.



These were absolutely delicious! While not the healthiest dipper, they are quite a treat and are much better than store bought corn chips. I could see adding different seasonings such as cumin and cayenne to these to get great flavoured chips!

After we devoured the appetizer, it was time to make our main dishes.

Mexican Rice, adapted from allrecipes.com

3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2/3 cup diced onion
1 1/2 cups uncooked brown rice
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 jar of stewed tomatoes
1 can of tomato paste
salt to taste
1 clove garlic, minced
3 cups water

Heat the oil in a large saucepan on medium-high heat. Saute the onions until they are soft. Add the rice and stir to coat in oil. Add the rest of the ingredients in order. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, cover, and cook for 45 minutes, or until the rice is tender, stirring occasionally.



While this was pretty good, I think it could use some improvements. The end result was rather saucy, and I think next time I would leave out the tomato paste and maybe use less stewed tomatoes. I would also add more cumin and chili powder. Other than that, I love using different liquids to cook rice (such as tomato) and will definitely make this again (with modifications of course).

While the rice was cooking we made the bean salad which is SO easy to put together.

Bean and Corn Chili Salad, adapted from allrecipes.com

3 tomatoes, diced
1 can black beans
1 can white kidney beans
1 can low-sodium corn
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
cilantro (optional)

1/4 cup fresh lime juice
3 tbsp olive oil
2 1/2 tsp chili powder
2 1/2 tsp cumin
salt and pepper to taste

Rinse canned beans thoroughly, and mix with corn and onion. Into a seperate bowl, wisk together lime juice, oil, chili powder, cumin and salt and pepper. Add to bean mixture and toss to coat. Garnish with cilantro or mix in if you like.



Since cilantro and I are not friends, I photographed Will's plate for the full experience (cilantro and all). I really enjoyed this salad and wouldn't change a thing. It was even better the next day! You can really use any beans you like but I would always keep some black beans in there.

The highlight of this meal was definitely the salsa verde. My Mom loved it, and it is now the recipe of choice in this house. I have been able to do a lot of cooking and baking this weekend. Tomorrow I'll post about a meal I made with my friend Jenna that contains some some of the cutest produce at the Hamilton Farmer's market, as well as three recipes we have been dying to try!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Eggs in a Pepper

After making the Quinoa-Stuffed Peppers a while back I thought about other food to stuff peppers with. We have a lot of green pepper from our garden so I thought I would experiment. I wanted to have an omelette one day, but I wanted to have that omelette in the pepper. I wasn't exactly sure how it would turn out, but it was worth a try.

Eggs in a Pepper

1 small or medium bell pepper
1 egg
veggies of your choice

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Remove the stem, seeds, and inner flesh of the pepper. Beat the egg with some veggies (avocado and tomato and my case) and poured the mixture into the pepper. Depending on how big your pepper is, depends on how much egg and veggies you can add. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes, until egg is cooked and pepper is soft.



I cut the pepper in half, added some ground black pepper, and rather enjoyed it! When choosing veggies, avoid ones that contain a lot of water. I know from experience that frozen spinach (even once drained) does not work too well. It makes the eggs very watery which extends the cooking time if you want to have a nice firm egg. I also recommend using smaller peppers, just enough to fit one egg and desired veggies, as the cooking time could extend to almost an hour with a larger pepper with more stuffing. As you can see, the egg tends to overflow during cooking but that is okay.

I think this could make a potentially fantastic (and very cute) appetizer. I have seen some mini bell peppers around, and as long as you could scrounge for ones that would stand upright, it would work well. Since they are so small, I could see a variety herbs, spices and finely chopped veggies, being added to the mixture. How dainty they would be.

I hope everyone is enjoying the long weekend, I know I have been. Even with all this free time I am behind in my postings and have a line-up of new dishes to post about. Tomorrow I hope to write about a Mexican inspired meal I made with my friend Will which includes an amazing new guacamole recipe and homemade whole-wheat tortilla chips.