Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Bean Salsa

Hello. I'm back with a long lost post. from. last. summer. This salsa/side dish is great for a potluck, your lunchbox, or any upcoming Superbowl snacking. I had it for the first time in June at my sister's Mexican-themed graduation party. My aunt made a quadruple batch of this tasty stuff to set out as an appetizer on all of the tables. I was very happy that she did because it ended up being the only real vegetarian option. It was excellent atop my giant plates (plural!) of cheese nachos. I, of course, had to make a couple of changes to the original recipe. The main thing I did was decrease the sugar from 1 c. to 1/2 c., and it's still pretty sweet. The sweetness is what makes this dish, but I'll save the extra carbs and calories where I can. 

Bean Salsa (or Salad)

1 - 14 oz. can black eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1 - 14 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 - 14 oz. can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1 can shoepeg corn, drained
1 small jar of chopped pimento, drained
1 c. chopped celery
2 jalapenos, finely chopped
1 c. chopped green pepper

1 tsp. salt
1 Tbs. water
1/2 c. canola oil
1/2 tsp. black pepper
3/4 c. cider vinegar
1/2 c. sugar
1/8 tsp. chili powder (optional)
a couple healthy pinches cayenne pepper (optional)

1. Layer salsa ingredients in a large bowl or container.
2. Combine dressing ingredients in a saucepan, whisk to incorporate, and bring to a boil.
3. Cool for 1 minute and pour over bean mixture. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Drain liquid before serving with tortilla chips or on it's own.

Bonus! Save the your little glass pimento jars. They're a great way to pack salad dressing, nuts, granola or anything small in your lunchbox.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Healthy Carrot Muffins

I recently had a lovely, overdue breakfast with my Nana. We chatted for hours sipping coffee, nibbling fruit, and munching on these muffins. It was so good to have some time with her. Breakfast with Nana is like coming home for me. When I was little, I went to her house every morning before school, and she always made me breakfast. (She had the best toaster.) Carrot cake is Nana's favorite, and so I wanted to bake her some deliciously nutritious carrot muffins. They turned out fantastic. We both loved them, and I will definitely be making these a regular in our house. They're hearty and not too sweet, so they are a great breakfast treat. The nuts are optional, but if it's up to Nana, the more the better! Also, the original recipe calls for wheat germ, but I substituted wheat bran because that's what I had in the pantry. Germ has more protein, and bran more fiber. Choose your own adventure. Speaking of adventures...
Healthy Carrot Muffins
makes 12

3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. whole wheat flour
2/3 c. dark brown sugar
2 Tbsp. wheat bran
2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
Pinch fine salt
2 large eggs
1/3 c. canola oil
1 Tbsp. pure vanilla extract
3-4 medium carrots, grated (about 2 cups)
1/2 cup grated apple
1/3 c. chopped walnuts, plus a few whole ones for topping

1. Preheat oven to 350 °F. Line twelve 1/2-cup muffin cups with paper muffin liners.
2. Whisk the flours with the brown sugar, wheat bran, cinnamon, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. In another medium bowl lightly whisk the egg, then whisk in the vegetable oil, and vanilla extract.
3. Quickly and lightly fold the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients with a rubber spatula. Stir in the carrots and pineapple just until evenly moist; the batter will be very thick. Stir in nuts. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups, and top each with a whole walnut.
4. Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean, about 25-30 minutes. Turn muffins out of the tins and cool on a rack. Serve warm.

P.S.  Don't tell Dan, but I think I like these better than my banana bread.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Gluten-Free Lemon Cream Cheese Cupcakes

I love The Cupcake Station. L-O-V-E, love. Their buttercream is a-maz-ing. To celebrate the Grand Openning of their new Plymouth-far too close for my own good-location, Dan and I got ourselves a little treat. I chose one of my favorites: "Lemon Lust"-lemon cake with lemon white chocolate cream cheese frosting. My gluten-free sister happend to stop by that night, and, with puppy dog eyes, asked if she could just try a bit of the frosting. She too was in love and immediately wanted to make a gluten-free version. Here's what we came up with:

Lemon Cream Cheese Cupcakes
cake adapted from joy of baking
makes 18

1 c. butter, room temperature
1 c. granulated white sugar
4 large eggs
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
Zest of 1 large lemon (outer yellow skin of lemon)
2 c. Bob's Red Mill gluten gree all purpose baking flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt
1/4 c. fresh lemon juice

1. Preheat oven to 350 °F and place rack in the center of the oven. Line muffin pan with paper baking cups.
2. In the bowl of your electric mixer (or with a hand mixer) beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy and pale in color (about 3 minutes). Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract and lemon zest.
3. Sift together (we didn't) the flour, baking powder and salt and then add to the batter along with the lemon juice. Mix only until incorporated.
4. Pour the batter into the prepared cups, smoothing the top with an offset spatula. Bake about 15-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Place on a wire rack to cool, then gently remove from pan.

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

1-8 oz. package cream cheese, softened
1/4 c. (1/2 a stick) butter, softened
juice of half a lemon
finely chopped lemon zest
3-4 c. powdered sugar

1. Beat together the cream cheese and butter until incorporated. Mix in zest and juice.
2. Add sugar in batches, mixing thouroughly after each cup or so.
3. Refrigerate or freeze frosting for 15-20 minutes before piping.

The yellow topping is just a few drops of food coloring whisked into some granulated sugar and sprinkled on top.
These are not exactly light and fluffy. The cake ended up more dense and rich, but still delicious. I think that is due, in part, to the gluten-free flour, and the recipe itself. With 4 eggs, I think the original is leaning more toward a pound cake anyway.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Whole Wheat Banana Bread

We went down to Eastern Market last Saturday and had an awesome lunch with some awesome friends at Russel Street Deli. It was a bit expensive, but my Avocado Melt was worth it.( "It is so choice." ) After lunch, we strolled through the various sheds perusing the produce. I was primarily looking for Michigan grown veggies, but came across a couple of vendors selling bananas at 3 pounds for a $1. Two words. banana. bread. This is my version-with wheat flour and far less sugar-of Mom's old recipes that she got from who knows where. To mash the bananas, I put them in a flat-bottom bowl and use a potato masher just like I do with avocados to make guacamole. It's much easier. And when I don't have an abundance of fresh bananas, I use over-ripened ones that I store in the freezer. Just take them out 30 min to an hour before you plan on mashing them.

Whole Wheat Banana Bread 

1/3 c. butter
1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 c. mashed banana
1/3 c. water
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1 c. whole wheat flour
2/3 c. AP flour
1/2 c. chopped nuts (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 °F. Grease bottom of loaf pan(s).
2. Mix sugar and butter in a large bowl. Stir in eggs until blended, and add water and bananas.
3. Stir in remaining ingredients except nuts, and mix well. Stir in nuts and pour into baking pan. Or, pour into pan, and sprinkle nuts on top.
4. Bake until toothpick comes out clean and top is golden brown.
     1 hr. 15 min. for 8" pan
     55-60 min. for 9" pan
     40-45 min. for 3 small 6" pans

Friday, September 17, 2010

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas

I am often asked how we handle dinner in our house with me being a vegetarian and my husband not. For the most, we primarily eat vegetarian meals that my husband enjoys. (He likes to get meat when we go out for dinner.) Other times we'll cook something on the side for him. It's not that hard with a little planning. For example, if I'm making spaghetti, I'll saute mushrooms for myself, and cook up a sausage for him. Another easy fix are enchiladas. One pan with sweet potatoes, the other with chicken. This recipe is a modification of my chicken enchiladas, and is a result of splitting many ingredients in half. 

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Enchiladas
makes 4 - double for a full batch

1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 tsp. olive oil
1 tsp. taco seasoning
1/2 of a 14 oz. can black beans
1/2 of a 4 oz. can diced green chilis
1-10 oz. can red enchilada sauce
4 whole wheat tortillas
4 oz. Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

1. Preheat over to 400 °F. Toss sweet potatoes with olive oil and taco seasoning to coat. Place on a sheet pan sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Roast for 15-20 minutes, stirring once.
2. Meanwhile, combine black beans, green chilis, 1-2 Tbsp. sauce and 2 Tbsp. cheese in a large bowl.
3. Add the roasted potatoes to the black bean mixture and stir to combine. Divide filling among tortillas, roll, and place in a 9 x 9 baking dish. Top with desired amount of sauce, and remaining cheese.
4. Reduce heat to 350 °F and bake 30-40 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Greek Quinoa Salad

Dan and I spent our Labor Day weekend at a camp in "Up North," Michigan. Despite the rain, we had a fantastic time with extended family and friends. One of the highlights for me was falling asleep in our cold cabin next to the warm glow and crackling of the fire in our fireplace. For a moment each night, I couldn't help but think of Little House on the Prairie.
Being on a particular diet, the thought of going to a camp where I have no idea what type of food we'll be served is a bit unsettling. I figured there would be salads, potatoes, and some fruits and veggies, but to make sure that I had some good vegetarian protein, I made this salad to take along. It worked out great since there was no cooking or heating necessary. Just pulled the container out of the fridge. I didn't really do any careful measuring so the amounts of vegetables and cheese are approximate. Use more or less as desired.
On a side note, I'm taking another evening class this Fall that meets twice a week, so I planning to make many more main-dish salads like this one that can be eaten on the go.

Greek Quinoa Salad
3/4 c. quinoa, rinsed
1 1/2 c. chopped, seedless cucumber
1 c. seeded, chopped tomato
3/4 c. canned chickpeas, rinsed
1/2 c. chopped, blanched zucchini
3 Tbsp. finely chopped onion
1/4 c. diced red (or green) pepper
1/4 c. crumbled feta cheese
3 Tbsp. olive oil
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 clove garlic, pressed
salt & pepper

1. Cook quinoa according to package directions and place in fridge to cool. Meanwhile, chop vegetables and set aside.
2. Combine dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to incorporate.
3. In a large bowl, combine cooled quinoa, vegetables, feta, and dressing. Season with extra salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Quick Black Bean Brownies

If you have never heard of black bean brownies, don't be scared. They taste just like real thing, but with an added nutritional boost and an extra fudgy texture. These are a great way to sneak some vegetables past kids or the vegetably challenged adults we all know and love. There are tons of "from scratch" recipes floating around the web, but this is a quick trick that I heard of by word of mouth over a year ago. Trust me, no one will ever know...unless you tell them.

Quick Black Bean Brownies

1 - ~20 oz. box brownie mix
1 - 14 oz. can black beans

1. Drain beans and rinse well.
2. Put beans back in the can, and fill it up the rest of the way with water.
3. Puree beans and water in a blender until very smooth.
4. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the bean mixture and brownie mix. Pour into a greased 13 x 9 baking dish, and bake according to the package instructions.