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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Spicy Black Bean and Carnitas Chili

This recipe is a take-off from the last recipe posted... seriously, you could go 1,000 miles just making small departures from a basic chili.  For instance, our family had a ton of leftover roasted pork shoulder from Christmas dinner.  A few changes here and there can make for an entirely different, yet familiar dish.  For this version, you will need:

- roughly 1-2 lbs leftover pork, cubed and / or shredded
- half an onion, chopped
- 1 pkg ranch dressing mix
- 1 pkg fajita mix
- 3 cans black beans
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 1 can diced tomatoes w/ green chiles
- 2 cans whole kernel corn
- 1 cup water
- salt and pepper to taste

Sautee pork and onions together in oil in a large stewpot.  When meat is warmed and sizzling, add ranch and fajita flavor dust.  Stir to coat meat evenly... meat should have an oily, wet look but not be swimming in oil (otherwise drain before adding packages).  Drain half the liquids from all canned ingredients and add contents of cans to stewpot.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Add roughly 1/2 tsp of cumin if desired.  Add 1 cup of water and simmer 20-30 mins or until desired consistency.  Top with corn chips, sour cream, and shredded cheese and serve.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Santa Fe Chili

This recipe is so simple and it makes a ton.  Perfect for keeping in your freezer to pull out at the last minute on a cold winter night.

For this recipe, you will need:

- 1.5 - 2 lbs ground beef
- half an onion, chopped
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 package of ranch dressing mix
- 1 package of salsa mix... I like to use mild.  For a spicier recipe, use 2 pkgs each of ranch and salsa.
- 1 can of each of the following:  black beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, diced tomatoes with chiles, and diced tomatoes
- 2 cans whole kernel corn (or white corn for variety)
- 1 cup water

Brown ground beef with onion, cumin, salt, and pepper in a deep skillet or stew pot.  After meat is thoroughly cooked, drain most of the grease off into a separate bowl and return pot to burner, adding ranch and salsa mixes.  Add some of the drained grease back in if necessary... mixture should have a wet look to it.  As mixture starts sizzling again, add all canned ingredients with juices, mixing thoroughly.  Add water and stew uncovered for approx 1 hr.  Alternate:  transfer to a crock pot for 2 hrs.  Turn burner off, take pot off stove, and let sit covered for 30 mins.  Mixture should have chili consistency.  Serve with tortilla strips / chips, shredded taco cheese, and sour cream.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Tomato, Basil, and Mozzarella Salad

This recipe comes to me from my friend Sarah, who used to work for St. Louis Bread Co / Panera.  So technically it's their recipe, but passed on from friend to friend.  This salad is not only a summer favorite, but works well into the early fall as well.  The ingredients are key.  Do not settle for shredded mozzarella.  And don't cut anything out.  The fresher the tomatoes, the better.  I like buying mine from local farmer's markets or using the ones given to me by friends with tomato plants who have tomatoes coming out of their ears at the end of the summer and just want to get rid of them.

You will need:
- cut lettuce... not a lot, just enough to add some fluff (I like romaine best)
- LOTS of fresh tomatoes, quartered into fairly large chunks (one chunk should equal a mouthful)
- chopped fresh basil
- chopped or sliced red onion to taste
- sliced cucumbers, chopped in half
- fresh mozzarella pearls (the wet, soft kind that you can find in the specialty cheese area of the grocery store)
- Panera balsamic vinaigrette dressing (found in higher-end grocery stores like Schnucks or Dierbergs... maybe Hy-vee?)

Combine ingredients in large bowl and dressing and toss.  Does not keep well.  Serve within 12-24 hours.  Or eat immediately :)  The ratio of tomatoes to lettuce should be at least 1:1 or even 2:1 for best results.  Enjoy this beautiful taste of Italy on a patio or balcony with a glass of wine on a cool evening = perfection itself.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

cold soups

Because of the distinct lack of classical music radio in St. Louis, these days I'm listening more and more to hip hop (don't judge) and public radio. In this recent radio recalibration process, I've come across the most wonderful broadcast: The Splendid Table ( This week, hostess Lynne Rossetto spoke with New York Times food columnist Melissa Clark about "blendid" soups. The idea is simple, yet brilliant. If you can make a smoothie, you can make a delicious, cold summer soup.

Find Melissa's recipe for cold borscht with dill cream here:

Find a recipe for chilled avocado soup topped with crab meat from Food and Wine magazine online here:

Find a recipe for cold cucumber soup here:

Find the Barefoot Contessa's recipe for summer gazpacho here:

Thursday, July 8, 2010

banana chocolate chip cookies

I know it's been months and months since I posted my last recipe. I'm also aware that in doing so, I've pretty much demolished any kind of readership I may have had whatsoever. But you know, as a student, sometimes your research and schoolwork is more important.

This latest recipe comes to me out of my Clean Food cookbook by Terry Walters. It's a goody, too. Several years ago before I went gluten-free, my roommate Jill gave me the best recipe for banana chocolate chip muffins. I used to make them for roommates all the time or take them to college get-togethers... I almost always went home empty-handed and anybody who ever ate them just went on and on about how good they were. Of course, I couldn't take any of the credit because it wasn't my recipe to begin with. And one of the things I missed most about giving up gluten were these muffins. But perusing through my cookbook this morning led me to this gluten-free cookie version. Warm with a glass of milk = perfection itself.

Taken from "Clean Food" by Terry Walters. Simple enough that even people who don't like to cook or bake will find them easy. And this is a great way to get rid of those 13 frozen bananas that have been sitting in your freezer for the last year or so :)

- 2 bananas, mashed
- 1/4 c canola oil
- 1/4 c maple syrup
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup rolled oats (NOT quick-cooking)
- 2/3 c brown rice flour
- 1/4 tsp baking soda
- Pinch of salt
- 1/2 c shredded dried coconut
- 1/4 c (or MORE) semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350

In medium bowl, combine bananas (and mash if not already done so), oil, syrup, and vanilla (I like to whisk the oil, syrup, and vanilla together in a 2-cup measure before pouring into mashed bananas).

In separate medium bowl, combine oats, flour, baking soda, salt, and coconut. Add dry mixture to wet mixture and blend until just combined (she says not to overstir). Fold in chocolate chips.

Spray cookie sheet and drop cookies by heaping teaspoonfuls onto sheet (I like mine big, so don't feel inhibited... I used the soup spoons lol). No need to roll, flatten, or shape cookies (although I do like to make sure mine aren't spread out looking like misshapen UN countries).

Place in oven and bake 14 mins or until lightly browned. Remove from oven and place on wire rack or wax paper to cool. Makes 1 and 1/2 dozen cookies (I guess if you use the teaspoons rather than the soup spoons... I only got about 14 out of the recipe).

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Fajitas with Corn Salsa

This recipe originally comes from "Clean Food" by Terry Walters, though I have modified it a bit from its prime form. The key to this recipe is lime juice and cilantro!

There are 2 parts to this recipe: the Fajitas themselves and the Corn Salsa.

To make the fajitas, you will need:

- 3 sweet potatoes
- 3-4 Tbsp lime juice
- 1 and 1/2 c cooked black beans
- 1 large tomato, diced
- 8-10 soft fajita-size corn tortillas

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place sweet potatoes on baking sheet and bake 45 mins - 1 hr or until soft. Remove from oven and cool.

While potatoes are baking, make corn salsa and set aside or in fridge (below).

Peel sweet potatoes and mash with fork. Add lime juice and distribute evenly, stirring into potatoes. Fold in cooked black beans and tomatoes. Spoon filling into center of each tortilla, roll up and place seam side down into shallow casserole. Top with shredded cheese and place in broiler for roughly 5-7 minutes, watching closely to keep cheese from burning. Remove from broiler, top with sour cream and cold corn salsa, and serve.

To make corn salsa, you will need:

- Canned or frozen corn
- Lime juice to taste
- 1/2 onion, diced
- 2-3 Tbsp chopped cilantro
- salt to taste

Blanch or thaw corn by placing corn in a strainer and pouring boiling water over it. Pour blanched corn in a medium-sized bowl and combine with diced onion (ratio should be roughly 2 parts corn : 1 part onion). Drench with lime juice and stir in chopped cilantro. Salt as necessary.

Notes: Can also use canned diced tomatoes if not in season (use roughly half a 15-oz can). Reheat value on this recipe is excellent. Resist the urge to zap these in the microwave, since microwaving removes much of the nutritional value. When reheating, place in warm oven or under low broiler to heat insides without burning outsides.

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

Again, if oats aren't an obstacle for your system, these healthy treats are a great snack! This recipe comes to me from my new cookbook, "Clean Food" by Terry Walters (which, btw, is an EXCELLENT resource for those interested in eating deliciously and nutritiously).

For this recipe, you will need:

- 2 cups rolled oats
- 1 cup brown rice flour
- 3/4 cup shredded coconut
- 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 3/4 c maple syrup
- 1/2 c canola or veg oil
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 c dark choc chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In large bowl, combine oats, flour, coconut, cinnamon, and salt. In separate smaller bowl, whisk together syrup, oil, and vanilla. Pour wet ingredients into dry and stir until evenly combined. Fold in chocolate chips. Spoon dough onto sprayed cookie sheet and do your best to make it stick together as a mound. Bake 13-15 mins or until lightly browned. Remove from oven and enjoy warm :)

Makes roughly 2 dozen.

Notes: Can also add 1 c chopped toasted walnuts for variation.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Julie / Julia

The first time I saw "Julie & Julia," I fell in love. Julia Child does that to you. Or at least Meryl Streep does that to you in the way she portrays her. And several of my friends tell me that I am just like Julie Powell as she is portrayed in the movie. I take this as a huge compliment. To make a long and sentimental story short, I have become obsessed. I call this the Julia Effect.

Anyway, an old friend of mine, Melanie, has also experienced the Julia Effect. And she actually went to the trouble of finding Julie Powell's old food blog from 2002. I've been reading it... it's like watching the movie in REAL LIFE. I. love. it.

I am posting the link to this blog below so you can enjoy it too. I just love her thoughts on so many things. Most of all, I love that she's just trying to figure out what works for her and she graciously allows her readers into that process. And even when things don't go her way, she still figures out a way to deal with it and be ok. I so get that. Adulthood is a tricky thing to navigate. But don't just take my word. Read it for yourself:

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


Ok, ok... this isn't REAL sushi. Technicalities! But this recipe keeps fairly well and can be taken easily in lunches since you'll be using cooked, canned crab.

For this recipe, you'll need:

- 1 pkg nori sheets (dried seaweed)
- 1 small can cooked crab meat (not imitation)
- 2-4 Tbsp mayonnaise
- 2 cups short-grain whole grain brown rice
- 2 Tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 ripe avocado, sliced thin and lengthwise
- 1 cucumber, sliced thin and lengthwise
- salt to taste

Prepare rice as directed on package. Allow rice 10 mins to stand after full cooking time. Stir in rice vinegar.

While rice is cooking, peel vegetables, slice, and set aside. Mix mayonnaise with crab, enough to make stick together and set aside.

On hard surface, spread a medium-sized piece of wax paper. Carefully remove nori sheet from package and lay on wax paper, shiny side down. Spread rice over nori sheet 1/4" thick, leaving about 1" on the edge of the sheet for sealing the roll.

Place vegetables and crab mixture in a long thin strip across middle of nori-rice sheet. Take edge of the sheet and fold over rice, carefully rolling entire sheet with rice, vegetables, and fish in middle. When finished rolling, seal non-riced edge with wet fingertips. Wrap wax paper around roll to compact and further seal.

Sushi roll may be stored in refrigerator, rolled in wax paper with edges twisted, as a candy wrapper.

Repeat with remaining ingredients. Recipe makes 3-4 sushi rolls.

When ready to serve, remove wax paper and slice sushi roll. Best served cold.

Notes: Nori sheets and rice vinegar may be found in ethnic food section of grocery store. Can use with other types of fish as well (tuna, salmon, etc). Health benefits best derived when using whole grain brown rice.