Showing posts with label vegetarian. Show all posts
Showing posts with label vegetarian. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Last-Minute Meals: Southwestern Frittata

You know those days when five o'clock rolls around...and you have nothing planned for dinner?

Or those days when you have a dinner planned...and it's just not going to happen?

I had a day like that last week.
When days like that roll around, I look into my fridge and freezer and hope that whatever is in there will yield something remotely tasty and nutritious.

Lucky for me, I came up with eggs, spinach, salsa, cheese, leftover brown rice, and frozen peppers and onions.  Add some olive oil, heat and a few spices, and there was dinner: a southwestern frittata!

For those of you who have never had a frittata (and seriously, you are missing out), it's an Italian-style flat omelette that gets cut into wedges and served; it's made from eggs and anything else you want to throw in.  It's also the fastest meal in the history of meals!  It's a great weeknight option and a very well-rounded vegetarian meal - and don't forget that eggs are involved, so it can be a quick brunch too!  In case you couldn't tell, I'm a total frittata convert!

The next time you're in a crunch for any meal, preheat your broiler, heat up a skillet and pull out that carton of eggs!  Let the leftovers in your fridge inspire you :)

Southwestern Frittata
Serves 6

1-1/2 tbsp olive oil
6 large eggs
4 large egg whites (I used 1/2 cup of egg whites from a carton - they're awful convenient!)
1-1/2 tbsp milk
1/2 tsp salt 
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp hot chili powder
1 large handful baby spinach leaves, torn
1/2 package frozen bell pepper and onion blend
2-3 oz cheddar, jack, or pepperjack cheese, shredded
Salsa, for serving

Preheat the broiler on low.  Heat the olive oil in a large, oven-safe, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the frozen peppers and onions and cook until hot and soft, stirring occasionally.
As the mixture on the stove cooks, whisk together the eggs, egg whites, milk, and seasonings until smooth.
Move back to the stove.  Add the spinach to the skillet and stir briefly, then pour the egg mixture over the vegetables.  Cook, lifting the edges to allow uncooked egg to flow underneath, until the bottom of the frittata is golden brown - about 3 minutes.  Sprinkle the cheese over the top and transfer the pan to the preheated broiler for 3-5 minutes, checking frequently, until the cheese is melted and the top of the frittata is golden and puffy.  Take out of the oven and allow to rest for about 3 minutes.  Slice, top with salsa, and serve - enjoy!

Friday, June 29, 2012

The Dancer Bakes Fancy Grilled Cheese

 It's your regular, unsuspecting grilled cheese, right?
Golden brown and crispy, promising gooey melted comforting goodness inside?

But, see, I can never just let something be.  It's a compulsion of sorts -  I just have to keep playing!

Which is why, when the sandwich gets opened up, you get this:
Gooey melted comforting goodness PLUS sauteed spinach, sundried tomatoes, and herbs, toasted with olive oil instead of butter on whole grain bread.

So...basically, if I want to eat grilled cheese, I have to load it up with veggies.  It's just how I roll.  It's comfort food "light" (if you were next to me, you'd see me doing air quotes on that one): lower in saturated fats since there's no butter, and plenty of vegetable and whole grain nutrition.  Since there's cheese, it's not totally light, but...grilled cheese kinda relies on that bit...

And did I mention yet that it's DELICIOUS??

...I haven't?

My bad.  For the record, it's DELICIOUS.

For this particular sandwich, I also used fancy cheese.
Specifically, Cabot Tomato Basil Cheddar.  Now, would this work with something different - like a Havarti, Mozzarella, even White Cheddar?  Sure!  But in my mind, this cheese took the flavors I added to the mix and enhanced them in the best way possible.  So if Cabot cheeses go on sale at your neighborhood grocery store, snatch this one up - it's well worth it!  If you have pesto on hand, by all that's holy, PLEASE add it - my mouth is watering thinking about it... And while grilled cheese is typically seen as lunch food, this one makes a sensationally tasty quick dinner alongside a salad or a cup of tomato soup!

The Dancer Bakes' Fancy Grilled Cheese
A Dancer Bakes original
Serves one
1-1/2 tbsp olive oil, divided use
1 large handful fresh spinach leaves
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 slices whole grain bread of choice - regular sandwich or artisan
2 oz Cabot tomato basil cheddar cheese
6-7 sundried tomatoes, drained
Pinch each of:
Dried Parsley leaves
Dried Basil leaves
Dried Oregano
Dried Rosemary

Heat a small skillet over medium heat and add 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil.  Add your spinach leaves, salt, and pepper, and saute until wilted.  Remove to a plate and set aside, briefly setting the hot skillet onto a cool burner.
While spinach is wilting, mix together the remaining olive oil and the dried herbs in a small bowl.  Using a pastry brush, brush one side of each slice of bread with the olive oil and herb mixture.  Layer the cheese, sundried tomatoes, and wilted spinach evenly on the un-oiled side of one of the pieces of bread.  Put the skillet back on the heat, place the bread oil side down in it, and top with the other slice of bread.  Cover and let cook for about 2 minutes, until the cheese starts to melt and the bottom piece of bread is crispy and golden.  Flip the sandwich, cover, and cook for another 1-2 minutes, until the whole concoction is melty, crispy, and aromatic.  Remove to a plate, allow to sit for 1-2 minutes, then slice and enjoy!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Carrot Cake Granola

I have a bit of an...oh, what's the word...


With carrot cake.

In a major way.

For the last month - at least - every time the words "carrot cake" appeared in a menu or a recipe title, my only reaction was "YESPLEASENOW."

I've been eating actual carrot cake and cupcakes every time I can get my hands on them.  In between, I've made carrot cake oatmeal, carrot cake pancakes, and I've bookmarked recipes for carrot cake muffins and waffles.

The chocoholic has fallen and my inner rabbit has taken over!  It's madness, I tell you! 

But hey - at least the madness is delicious!

This granola is easily one of the best things I've made.  And eaten.  On multiple occasions.  With a spoon.
Sometimes just with my hands, though.  I'm not too picky.

It involves oats, brown sugar, spices, shredded carrots, raisins, and pecans all baked together in a way that makes your kitchen smell amazing and your stomach lose all impressions that it could be anything but hungry.  And another bonus: it makes a ton, and I mean a TON, of granola!  I still have two containers full of it, and that's after consuming most of a third!

Whether you've fallen prey to the same frosting-loving-bunny urges that I have, or you just happen to enjoy granola and happen to like making it too, please please please make this stuff!  Your wallet and your stomach will thank you.

Now read the recipe and get crackin'.
I've got granola to eat.

Carrot Cake Granola
Source: Chocolate and Carrots

2-1/2 cups old fashioned oats
2-1/2 cups quick-cooking oats (I used all old-fashioned and it worked just fine)
2 cups puffed brown rice cereal
2 tbsp ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
1 cup natural unsweetened applesauce (I used homemade)
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup molasses
1/2 cup light brown sugar
2 tbsp canola oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup grated carrots
2 cups chopped pecans
1 cup raisins

Preheat the oven to 300˚F, with racks in the top and bottom third of the oven.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, foil, or silpat mats and set them aside.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the oats, puffed rice, cinnamon, and salt.  In a separate bowl, combine the applesauce, honey, molasses, brown sugar, oil, vanilla, and carrots (yes, almost all the rest of the ingredients).  Stir the wet mixture into the dry mixture, folding thoroughly to combine until all the oats and cereal are moistened.
Pour the granola onto the prepared baking sheets, spreading it out evenly across the surface and pushing it down with the back of a spatula to flatten it.  Place the baking sheets in the oven for 20 minutes - one on the top rack and one on the bottom.  While the granola is baking, chop the pecans.
Remove the granola from the oven and, using a large spatula, flip it over and break up any large clumps.  Add the nuts to the baking sheets and return them to the oven for another 20 minutes, rotating the sheets between the racks.
Stir the granola, breaking up any clumps that are too large for a spoon, and return it to the oven for another 20-30 minutes, or until dry and golden brown.  Let the granola cool completely on the baking sheets.  Stir in the raisins.  Store leftovers in an airtight container in a cool, dry cabinet.  Serve with yogurt, milk, soy milk, ice cream, or your fingers - enjoy!!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Banana Bread French Toast

Remember this?

And how I told you to stick around because I'd do something fun with it?

Banana. Bread. French. Toast.

I have to confess...half the reason I made the bread was to turn it into French Toast after seeing Jessica's recipe.  I was a woman obsessed!  The whole wheat blueberry banana goodness was left virtually untouched (except for a teeny tiny bit that I tasted by itself) for two days after I baked it because I was saving it for its higher purpose.


The next time you're having a craving for an over-the-top breakfast, make this.  Plus, if you use the blueberry oat banana bread, you'll be packing yourself with tons of fiber and fruit at the same time!  I don't want to think about the overall calorie count in that plate...especially since I ate it all...but hey, that's what exercise is for!  Just keep thinking about all that whole-wheat-fruit-and-protein goodness while you're at Zumba ;)

Banana Bread French Toast
Source: barely adapted from How Sweet It Is

6 slices banana bread (such as this)
3 large eggs
1/2 cup milk or heavy cream (I used soy milk)
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
butter for the pan

Slice the banana bread to your desired thickness (we went super thick, but you can be as conservative as you want).  In a wide bowl, combine the eggs, milk or cream, and cinnamon, whisking until smooth.  Heat a griddle or skillet over medium heat and brush with butter.  Soak each piece of bread for about 30 seconds per side, then transfer to the heated griddle.  Cook for about two or three minutes on each side until golden and a bit crispy on the outside, then transfer to an oven-safe plate in the oven, warmed to 150-200˚ to keep the French toast warm as you finish the rest of the slices.  Serve with toppings of choice - I recommend sliced bananas and pure maple syrup, but seriously?  Go crazy.  And most importantly, ENJOY!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Roasted Hazelnut Brussels Sprouts

Can I let you in on something?

I've never celebrated Valentine's Day.

Ever.  In the history of ever.
Even though I've been in a relationship for the last three years.

Why, you ask?
Because our schedules never line up.

See, I was super excited the first year we were together because my single girl dream was coming true: I would finally have a date for Valentine's Day.  BUT then I got my company schedule and realized...umm...kidding.  We had a 10-out-of-12 (all-day tech) on February 14th.  The following year, I had class all day, followed by tech rehearsal for several hours.  I finally got home at 9:45, a gross sweaty mess.  That night, Jon and I split a red velvet cupcake from Starbucks and watched TV.

This year?
Well, this year, my schedule was finally clear on the 14th - after classes ended early in the afternoon, I was free!
Jon was not.  He had bowling after work.  So by the time he got to my apartment at 11:30...I was falling asleep.

Can I tell you something else?

It could be worse.
Because the last two years running, we've both had the day off on our anniversary... February 12th.
And this year, that day was perfect.

I woke up to a warm plate of homemade French toast with pure maple syrup next to my bed.  We went to church, went boot shopping, did some things for the wedding, and went grocery shopping - nothing monumental, but what truly made a difference was that we did those things together, which is a luxury we rarely have.  Later that night, we retreated from the snow under warm fuzzy blankets and watched Netflix, just quietly celebrating the wonderful three years we've had together and all the years to come.
And then there was dinner.

Ohhh, dinner...

Instead of going out, we cooked a gourmet meal together:

Filet Mignon, simply seasoned and cooked to absolute juicy perfection
Mashed Redskin Potatoes with Roasted Garlic and Mascarpone Cheese
and these Roasted Hazelnut Brussels Sprouts.
(For dessert, there was rice pudding...I'll be sharing that soon :)

Now, historically, I have not been a huge fan of brussels.  They're kinda bitter, and the only way I'd liked them before was when they were doused in butter and bacon grease...which is not something I could really afford to do with a show coming up.  But I found this gloriously simple recipe on Cheeky Kitchen and was struck hard with the urge to try it!  I am, after all, on an eternal quest to find more vegetables I lurrrve.

SUCCESS!  These suckers were chock full of flavor, texture, and overall deliciousness, without being drowned in fat!  A simple short roast at a high temperature with some olive oil, salt, and pepper, with chopped hazelnuts thrown in just at the end to toast up to perfection, and vegetable bliss was attained! It was the perfect side dish, served as part of a perfect dinner, to cap off a perfect anniversary.

Roasted Hazelnut Brussels Sprouts
Source: barely adapted from Cheeky Kitchen

3 cups brussels sprouts
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt & pepper, to taste
1/4 cup chopped hazelnuts

Preheat the oven to 500˚.  Yes, this sucker's gotta be HOT.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  In a medium bowl, drizzle sprouts with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper as desired, tossing to coat.
Spread the sprouts out on the baking sheet and roast on the middle rack for 15-20 minutes, until the edges of the sprouts begin to char.  Toss the chopped hazelnuts on top and return to the oven for another 5 minutes, until toasty and aromatic.  Serve with essentially any meal you want, though I highly recommend meat and potatoes.  Enjoy!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Banana Nut Steel Cut Oats

This, ladies and gents, is by far my favorite winter morning breakfast.

Unless you include pancakes or waffles or french toast.  So by "favorite" I mean "the best possible thing I can afford to eat all the time."  Which this definitely is.

If you're an oatmeal fan, then chances are you've tried steel-cut oats.  If you're not an oatmeal fan, then by all means TRY STEEL CUT OATS!

Sorry.  Didn't mean to get scary on you for a second.  But seriously - if you hate regular rolled-oats oatmeal, these could change your mind.  The oats, instead of being steamed and rolled, are steamed and then cut into small pieces with a steel blade.  Hence steel-cut oats - oh hey!  As a result, they retain more of the oat husk and have even more of those great whole-grain properties.  For those of you who aren't health nuts and don't give a rat's patoot about health values, they maintain a chewy texture - no mush here!  More good news: most steel-cut oats, especially Irish oats, are gluten-free!  Just check whatever brand you find to make sure they are, if that's a concern.  They do take a bit longer to cook, but there's a quick version of steel-cut oats too.  Which is what I use.

I have several variations of my Friday morning oatmeal, and this one is definitely my favorite so far.  I cook the oats with a combination of water, vanilla soy or almond milk, and Stevia, and I add sliced bananas, crushed or chopped walnuts, a nice sprinkle of cinnamon, and just a touch of light brown sugar to finish.  They're creamy, wholesome, sweet, and chewy with highlights of rich banana and crunchy nut - exactly what I want to eat when I see snow out my window in the morning :)

Banana Nut Steel-Cut Oats
A Dancer Bakes original!
Serves 1

3/4 cup water
1/4 cup quick-cooking steel-cut oats (such as McCann's)
1 packet stevia (I use Stevia in the Raw)
1/4 cup vanilla soy or almond milk, with more as needed or desired
1 medium to large banana at desired ripeness, sliced
1/4 cup walnut pieces
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp light brown sugar

On the stove:
Heat the water in a small (2-3 cup) saucepan over medium-high heat till it reaches a rolling boil.  Add the oats and stevia.  Allow to cook uncovered for 5-7 minutes, stirring often, until the water has been mostly absorbed by the oats and the oatmeal has thickened.  Stir in the soy or almond milk and continue to cook until the milk is absorbed and the oatmeal is creamy.  Add the cinnamon, walnuts, and banana slices, stirring well to incorporate.  If the oats are too thick for your taste, add more of the milk and cook until your desired texture is reached.  Allow to sit for 1 minute.  Pour the oats into a bowl, sprinkle with brown sugar, and serve.

In the microwave:
Pour the oats, stevia, and water into a deep, microwave-safe bowl.  Cook on high for 2.5-3 minutes, stir, and return to the microwave for another 1-2 minutes, checking and stirring frequently.  Remove from the microwave and stir in the almond or soy milk, followed by the cinnamon, walnuts, and banana slices.  Add more milk and return to the microwave if necessary until desired consistency is reached.  Allow to sit for 1 minute.  Sprinkle with brown sugar and serve.
Microwave note: if your microwave runs hot and tends to make things boil over, consider adding 1/4 cup raisins to the oats and water before cooking them.  The dried fruit will absorb some of the excess moisture, which will keep the oats from boiling over - just remember you'll probably need more milk than the recipe calls for later!  And the oatmeal's just as delicious with raisins in the mix :)

Friday, November 25, 2011

Sweet Potato Harvest Salad

I'm sitting on the couch at our house in the West Virginia mountains, watching Sing Off videos on YouTube with my dad, and nursing a food baby of epic proportions inside my fleecy penguin footie pajamas.  Based on this description of myself, it occurs to me that now might be a good time to post a salad...

It's holiday detox time, folks.  Starting tomorrow morning, it's back to exercise and healthy eating. 

With pie still involved, though.  Can't say no to pie...

If you find yourself in a sugar coma but still hungering after fall flavors, give this salad a try.  Roasted sweet potatoes, Gala apple chunks, dried dates, and pecans combine to lend a sense of comfort to the low-calorie dish.  Add some grilled chicken - or better yet, leftover turkey! - and you've got a balanced and complete meal!

Sweet Potato Harvest Salad
Source: a Dancer Bakes original
Serves one
1 1/2 cups Romaine lettuce, washed and torn
1 cup baby spinach leaves
1/3 recipe roasted sweet potatoes (below)
1/2 small or medium Gala apple, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup dried dates
1/4 cup pecans, coarsely chopped
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup shredded chicken or turkey (optional)

Toss first six ingredients together.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with black pepper to taste.  Top with the chicken or turkey, if desired.  Serving with a leftover roll from Thanksgiving dinner is highly encouraged :)  Enjoy!

Roasted Sweet Potatoes
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 tbsp olive oil
Ground cinnamon
Ground ginger
Black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400˚F with a rack on the middle position.
Place cubed sweet potatoes into a bowl.  Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with desired amounts of salt, pepper, cinnamon, and ginger; toss together to combine.  Spread into an even layer on a nonstick baking sheet lined with foil and sprayed lightly with cooking spray.  Roast in the oven for 20-30 minutes, until the potatoes are tender and your kitchen smells divine.  Enjoy hot or allow to cool before using them in the Harvest Salad.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Pasta with Pumpkin Cream Sauce

And now, Part 2 of my pumpkin obsession: Pumpkin Pasta!

This may sound as weird to you as it did to me.  Because the idea of it majorly intrigued me in the "will it or won't it be good?" sense.

I can tell you now: it will be good.
At least, it was for me and the hubby-to-be.

Pumpkin is a vegetable.  And I think we forget that when we dig into a pumpkin donut or devour another slice of pumpkin pie (which I will leave up to you lovely folks - pumpkin pie is not my thing.)  So using it in a savory context does actually make sense.
Delicious, creamy sense.

The sauce is a lightened-up cream sauce, with plenty of pumpkin and some sage to complement it.  Not to mention Parmesan cheese, which makes everything in the world better.  It is delightfully creamy and a gorgeous orange color; when tossed with whole-wheat pasta and served with a salad, it makes a light yet hearty and delicious meal!  This will definitely get made again in my soon as I find more pumpkin.  Which could be a while.

Pasta with Pumpkin Cream Sauce
Source:  Runs with Spatulas

1 pound whole wheat pasta, such as spaghetti, fettuccine, or linguine
1 medium vidalia onion, minced
3 medium cloves garlic, minced
2 sprigs fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
3/4 cup pumpkin puree
3/4 cup low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 cup fat-free half and half
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of water to a boil over medium-high heat. Add salt, pour in the pasta and cook according to the directions on the box.

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic; cook for about 3 minutes, stirring, until they have softened. Stir in the pumpkin puree, broth, half & half, and half of the fresh sage. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the sauce is slightly thickened. If you chopped your onion into bigger pieces (like I did...oops), now would be the time to blend it smooth in a blender, food processor, or with an immersion blender.  The smoother the sauce, the happier you will be!  If you blended it, transfer it back to the saucepan.  Season with salt and pepper to taste; keep warm on the lowest heat setting. 

Drain the pasta and add to the sauce, then add 2 tablespoons of the cheese and mix well. Serve and sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of cheese and the remaining sage.  This pairs excellently with a Caesar salad and a glass of white wine :) Enjoy!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Black Bean and Sweet Potato Chili [Holiday Recipe Exchange]

 Since I may have helped you pack on a couple pounds with my last few recipes, here's one that should help take them off again: vegetarian chili!

Thanks to my insane schedule (school + three shows + wedding planning + attempts to eat and sleep), I'm always on the hunt for one-pot meals that keep me going off of leftovers for long periods of time.  I also love sweet potatoes (if you couldn't tell from the pancakes) and I'm always looking for new ways to use them.  The idea of combining black beans - another favorite - and sweet potatoes in a simple, healthy, long-lasting vegan chili sounded right up my alley!  Thus, this chili.

I started with a recipe and modified it as I went based on what I had in the apartment, then served it topped with a Mexican cheese blend.  Considering it was something I totally threw together, I was happy with how it turned out!  The only thing that would've made it better is corn...or cornbread :)
Come join the fun at the My Baking Addiction and GoodLife Eats Holiday Recipe Exchange sponsored by Le Creuset!  You could win a fantastic French Oven with which to make some chili of your own :)

Black Bean Sweet Potato Chili
Source: inspired by and heavily adapted from GoodLife {Eats}

1 yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeño pepper, diced and deseeded if desired
1 tbsp olive oil
1 1/4 tsp ground cumin
1 tbsp chili powder
2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 29-oz can crushed tomatoes
8 oz vegetable broth
1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3 15.5-oz cans of black beans, drained but not rinsed
3/4 cup cooked brown rice
2 bay leaves
1 1/4 tsp cornstarch
Mexican cheese blend (for topping)

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add the diced onion and saute for 5 minutes, until tender and golden. Add the garlic and the jalapeño pepper and saute for another minute, until fragrant. Add the cumin and chili powder and saute for about another 2 minutes.
Lower heat to medium-low and stir in the crushed tomatoes and broth, reserve 1/4 cup of broth for later use.  Scrape the bottom of the pot to remove any browned bits stuck there and add that tasty flavor back in. Add the remaining ingredients except the cornstarch and toppings.
In a small bowl whisk together the reserved 1/4 cup of broth and the cornstarch until smooth. Pour the cornstarch slurry into the chili pot. Stir until well mixed. Bring chili to a boil for about 2 minutes and then lower heat to low. Simmer over low heat uncovered (or covered with a splatter shield) for one hour, then cover the pot with a lid and simmer for another 30 minutes.
Ladle into bowls and serve topped with the Mexican cheese blend.  Enjoy!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Skillet Cornbread

Cornbread is one of those things that people totally disagree on.

People up north think that cornbread ought to be sweet and fluffy, almost like unfrosted yellow cake that happens to, well, taste like corn.

That's called Yankee Cornbread.

Southern-style cornbread is denser and crumblier, living more up to the title of cornbread.  It's also much more savory and goes beautifully with beans, soups, stews, and chili.

And here's the part where I show my bias:
Southern cornbread is real cornbread.

Not to say that Yankee cornbread isn't delicious.  Because it is.  It's wonderful.
But it's not what I grew up on.  And therefore it must always include Yankee in its title.

My mom always sweetens her cornbread lightly with honey, bakes it up in a cast-iron skillet, and serves it with savory and spicy meals.  Skillet cornbread for me is a little taste of home, which is exactly what I wanted when I made this.

Now, this isn't the recipe I grew up with, but I altered the recipe I had to more resemble my childhood treat - I swapped out the white sugar for honey and baked it in a skillet, then served it with the super-easy-yet-super-tasty Black Bean and Salsa Soup.  It just...made me happy :)

As real cornbread always does.

Golden Yellow Skillet Cornbread
Source: adapted from the recipe on the Indian Head Cornmeal package 

1 cup yellow cornmeal
1 cup white whole wheat flour
3 tbsp honey
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/4 cup canola oil
1 cup milk
2 egg whites, beaten

Preheat the oven to 425˚F.  Grease a 10-10.5 inch cast iron skillet and set aside.
Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Mix oil, honey, egg whites, and milk together and add to the dry ingredients, mixing just until the batter is uniform.
Pour into the prepared skillet and smooth out the top.  Bake for 20-25 minutes - the cornbread should be lightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the center will come out clean.
Serve with beans, soup, stew, or chili, or even just with butter and honey.  Enjoy!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Black Bean and Salsa Soup

This, my friends, is my go-to I-have-zero-time-to-cook-this-week recipe.

Bonus?  It's totally healthy.

Extra huge bonus?  It's really tasty.

Thanks to my first week of rehearsals every night, I needed a quick and easy meal that would take a short time to put together, would fill me up enough to make it through long rehearsals, and would last as leftovers for a few days.  When I first found this soup over on Annie's Eats I immediately added it to my menu plan for that week.

When it only took 15 minutes to get it on the table, it became a standby.

This was the perfect dinner for my crazy week - healthy, hearty, spicy, and comforting.  Served with steamed cauliflower and Southern-style skillet cornbread (recipe coming soon!), it made for a delicious well-rounded meal.

Black Bean and Salsa Soup
Source: Annie's Eats

2 15-oz cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1.5 cups vegetable broth
1 cup salsa
1 tsp cumin
Mexican cheese (for topping)

Place the beans, broth, salsa, and cumin in the bowl of a food processor.  Pulse until the mixture is fairly smooth - I like my soup to have quite a bit of texture, so I don't process it very long, but do it according to your tastes.  Transfer the soup to a saucepan and heat over medium heat until it is hot through.  Serve immediately in bowls topped with Mexican cheese - whole grain tortillas or cornbread are also fantastic additions.  Enjoy the meal - and how quickly you made it!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Spicy Black Bean Burgers

I've been doing this thing lately where I crave some kind of burger weekly, if not multiple times a week.  Maybe it's because it's summer, maybe because I finally started eating them with toppings in the bun, or maybe it's just because they're delicious, but my burger cravings have increased exponentially over the last few months.

This is weird for me.
Not a bad weird, but weird, since I used to be able to go for months without a burger.

Thanks to these increased cravings, I've had to figure out some good hamburger alternatives.  I try to alternate animal-based meals with plant-based meals - it's cheaper and healthier - and having multiple burger cravings a week tends to mess with that.  There are times when there's absolutely no substitute for a gigantic beef-based bacon cheeseburger, but most of the time, I do really well with turkey, bison, or a veggie burger.
And let me tell you, I've become a total veggie burger convert.  And these black bean burgers kick-started my conversion.

Black beans are chopped up with brown rice, sweet onion, jalapeño peppers, garlic, and chili powder, blended with some lime juice, then mixed with whole wheat breadcrumbs and formed into patties.  They're cooked up for less than 10 minutes in a skillet and layered on a toasted whole wheat bun with some lettuce and salsa, making me a happy happy camper.  They are spicy, tender, wholesome, and filling - always a plus for a vegetarian meal!  And it's vegan if you don't use cheese!

...but why wouldn't you use cheese?  That would be delicious...

Anyway.  If you're veggie, if you're a health nut, or if you just like spicy things, make these and be happy :)

Spicy Black Bean Burgers
Source: adapted from Cookin' Canuck's recipe on CuisineNie

2 tbsp olive or canola oil, divided
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 jalapeño peppers, chopped (seeds & membranes removed if you don't want heat)
1 tsp chili powder
1 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1-1/4 cups cooked brown rice
2 tsp lime juice
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2/3 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs, more if needed

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add the onion and saute until it softens.  Add the garlic, jalapeño, and chili powder and saute for an additional 2 minutes.
Scrape the mixture into a food processor.  Add the black beans, brown rice, lime juice, salt and pepper and pulse until the beans are chopped - not pureed.
Transfer the mixture to a bowl and mix in the breadcrumbs with a wooden spoon.  Form into 4-5 equal-sized patties with your hands, adding more breadcrumbs if necessary.  Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes on a baking sheet or plate lined with plastic wrap.
To cook the burgers, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Cook the patties for approximately 4 minutes on each side.  Serve on toasted whole wheat buns with your toppings of choice.  Enjoy!