Monday, December 17, 2012

Easy Black Beans and with a Kick

My husband has been craving black beans and rice so I decided to come up with my own version filled with my favorite colorful veggies.

Kathy's Easy Black Beans and Rice with a Kick!

1/4 cup red pepper, diced
1/4 cup orange pepper, diced
1/2 cup green pepper, diced
1/2 cup onion diced
1 jalapeno pepper seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic chopped
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cans diced tomatoes
2 ears of fresh corn, kernels cut off
2 cups cooked rice
2T ground cumin
1/4 tsp chili powder
salt and pepper to taste
squirt of lime juice

Saute peppers and onions in olive oil in a large saute pan about 5 minutes or until they begin to soften.  Add garlic and saute for about 2 minutes.  Don't let the garlic brown or it takes on a bitterness.  Add the cumin and chili powder and stir.  Stir in tomatoes and beans.  Simmer for about 5 minutes.  Add corn kernels and stir.  Mix in rice thoroughly and add cilantro a squirt of lime juice.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Can be served as a side dish or as a vegetarian main course.  Enjoy!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Mango Berry Fruit Salad with Mint

One thing I can always get my kids to eat is fruit and this fruit salad is one of their favorite ways to eat it.
This salad is quick and easy to make yet bursts with sophisticated flavors.

2 mangoes cut into cubes
1-2 cups blueberries
1-2 cups raspberries
1-2 cups strawberries, sliced
Handful of fresh mint leaves cut into thin ribbons
1 T sugar
lime juice- optional

Combine all fruit into a bowl and stir in sugar.  Let fruit sit and macerate.  Stir in mint and a splash of lime juice.  Drizzle honey over the top and serve.  This salad is also yummy over vanilla yogurt.        


Kathy :)

Monday, May 28, 2012

Tomato Basil Soup

I had never like tomato soup.  Then I learned it didn't have to come from a can and I began to love it.  This is one of our family's favorite summertime dishes. I'm hoping that soon I can harvest some of my own tomatoes to make it!

Serve it with some crusty French bread on the side and enjoy!

1 cup chopped onion
About 6 large tomatoes, roughly chopped
1 carrot, cut into small rounds
1 can vegetable broth
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 large bunches basil chopped into fine ribbons
1 T sugar or honey
salt and pepper
2 T butter
2 T olive oil
1/2 cup whipping cream
fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

Heat oil over medium heat in large stock pot.  Saute onions and carrot until onions become translucent. Add garlic and saute for about 1 minute.  Stir in chopped tomatoes.  Simmer until tomatoes have softened and lost their shape.  Stir in basil.
Use an immersion blender until there are no more chunks left.  Add vegetable broth and simmer uncovered about 10 minutes.  Season with desired amount of salt and pepper.  Stir in either sugar or honey and test the soup's acidity.  Depending on the tomatoes you use, you may need more or less sugar.  Add butter and cream and stir.  Ladle into bowls and garnish with fresh grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and a small basil leaf.  Serve with your favorite crusty bread and enjoy!


Friday, May 11, 2012

Veggie Stew with Couscous

This is a great dish for a meatless night.  It's full of bold flavor and leaves you feeling satisfied.  The recipe is based off one I found in Madhur Jaffrey's wonderful book World Vegetarian.  I made a few changes to suit our taste buds and we were thrilled with the results.

Veggie Stew with Couscous  

1/4 onion diced
2 cloves garlic
1 zucchini or summer squash sliced then quartered
1 1/2 -2 cups butternut squash cubed
1 jalapeno pepper
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes
1 15 oz can vegetable broth
1 15 oz can chickpeas
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground paprika
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 cinnamon stick, 1-2 inches
3 T golden raisins
1 T agave nectar or honey
1 bunch fresh parsley finely chopped
olive oil
salt to taste
1 box instant couscous

In a large pot heat olive oil over medium heat.  Saute onions and zucchini until onions are translucent.  Add garlic and cook about 2 minutes until fragrant.  Add tomatoes, broth, butternut squash, jalapeno pepper, chickpeas, raisins and spices.  Simmer about 15-20 minutes or until butternut squash is tender and sauce thickens a little.  Add desired amount of salt.  (I used about 1/2 tsp)  Add agave nectar and parsley.  Let simmer over low until couscous is finished.

In a separate saucepan make instant couscous according to directions on the box.

Serve stew over couscous and enjoy!

Kathy :)  

Monday, May 7, 2012

Spring Herb and Mushroom Pasta

This is a very lightly flavored pasta dish.  Perfect for a warm Spring evening.  Pair with a bottle of white wine and some crusty bread and you have the makings of a great night.

1lb fresh fettucine pasta
1 shallot chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 cup wild mushrooms, sliced
1/2 tomato chopped
1/4 cup fresh chives chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil chopped
1/4 cup fresh parsley chopped
3 T butter
1/2 cup whipping creme
1/2 - 3/4 cup pasta cooking water
handful of fresh chive blossoms to garnish
fresh grated parmesan cheese

Bring large pot of water to boil.  In a saute pan, saute mushrooms in 2 T butter until they just start to brown.  Add shallots and garlic and saute another 2 minutes.  Remove from heat.

Put fresh pasta into boiling water and cook about 3 minutes or according to package (if using dried pasta cook according to package directions).  Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water and drain the rest. Pour pasta into serving dish.

Pour 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup of the cooking liquid into the saute with the mushroom-tomato mix.  Cook over medium heat and stir until saucy consistency. Add fresh herbs.  Whisk in cream and 1 T of butter.  Add desired amount of salt and pepper.  Pour sauce over hot pasta and toss until well incorporated.  Break apart several chive blossoms and sprinkle over the top along with parmesan cheese.

Enjoy :)


Monday, February 20, 2012

Asian Medley: Vietnamese Pho and Korean Pachanga

Our family loves Asian food of any kind so I decided to make an Asian Medley last Friday.
My daughter Jess has been begging me to make Korean Pachanga again.  I first made it almost 2 years ago.  I guess it made quite an impact on one of our family's most picky eaters.

Korean Pachanga or Veggie Pancakes

1 leek
3 scallions
1 small zucchini
1/2 sweet potato
1 jalapeno pepper, diced
6-10 button mushrooms sliced
1 1/2 cup Chana dal flour (an Indian flour made from ground chickpeas, if not available use regular flour)
About 3/4 cup water- just enough to make pancake batter-like consistency

3/4 tsp Nanami Togarashi (Japanese pepper blend)
1 tsp salt

Make julienne strips sweet potato and zucchini.  Chop scallions and leek (don't use tough tops of leek only white and light green parts).  Mix all veggies in a bowl.  In another bowl mix flour, salt, pepper and water until you have a pancake batter-like consistency.  Mix the veggies into batter.  Pour enough oil in a saute pan to cover bottom.  Heat over medium-high heat.  Drop spoonfuls of batter into pan.  Cook until nicely browned about 3-5 minutes per side.  Dip in soy sauce to serve.

Vietnamese Pho Ga

I love Pho, but I didn't have time to boil bones for the broth.  SO this is my quick and simple pho recipe.  Maybe it's not exactly like they make it in Vietnam, but it had all the right flavors and was delicious.

For soup:
64 oz organic chicken broth
4 chicken breasts, thinly sliced
1 inch ginger, finely chopped
1/4 onion, thinly sliced,
2 T fish sauce
1T brown sugar

5 whole cloves, lightly toasted
5 whole anise stars, lightly toasted
1 package rice noodles

For garnish:
2 limes quartered
1-2 Thai chiles, chopped
bunch cilantro
3 scallions, chopped
bunch basil
2 cups beans sprouts
Sriracha sauce (Asian hot sauce) optional

In large stock pot, saute chicken in oil until no longer pink.  Add ginger and onions.  Cook 1-2 minutes until ginger is fragrant.  Add chicken broth.  In separate bowl, soak rice noodles in cold water about 5 minutes.  Drain and rinse.  Add fish sauce and brown sugar to chicken and broth.  Tie toasted cloves and anise in cheesecloth and put in broth.  Let simmer and add the softened noodles.  Serve with fresh garnishes and Sriracha sauce (Unfortunately when I was buying all the ingredients for it I forgot the basil! :(  It's a major flavor in it.  But it was still yummy!)   Make sure broth is very hot as the cool garnishes will lower the temperature.     Enjoy!!

Kathy :)

Friday, February 3, 2012

Asian Style Chicken Noodle Soup

My daughter Jess had a cold last week and the only food that sounded good to her was chicken noodle soup.  I decided to kick up the soup's healing power and give it an Asian flair by adding fresh ginger chunks.
I like this soup because it is quick and easy to prepare, full of healthy ingredients and all my kids gobble it up!

Asian Style Chicken Noodle Soup

4 chicken breasts, cubed
2 1/2 -32 oz containers organic chicken broth
1/2 cup onions
1 stalk celery , chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 cup potatoes, diced
Parsley, chopped fresh
1 inch piece of ginger root, minced
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp poultry seasoning (or use fresh thyme and rosemary)
salt and pepper to taste
egg noodles
olive oil

Saute the onions, celery, and carrots in a stock pot, until they begin to soften.  Add ginger and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add poultry seasoning and salt and pepper. If needed add a little more olive oil.  Then add cubed chicken and cook until no longer pink on the outside, and just beginning to brown.  Pour in broth and bring to a simmer.  Add potatoes and desired amount of egg noodles and cook until tender.  Check the salt and add more if desired.  Garnish with chopped parsley.

Hope you enjoy!  Have a great weekend!


Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Nicaraguan Night

Nacatamales with Rice and Beans
We hadn't chosen a Latin American country for a while, so last Friday we set our sights on Nicaragua.  It is the largest country in Central America and is located between Honduras and Costa Rica. According to, the country has 78 national parks and many opportunities for outdoor fun including, fishing, golfing, scuba diving, rainforest canopy tours and hiking up a volcano.  There's even a place called the Mombacho Cloud Forest Reserve where you can explore the rainforest in the clouds.  That sounds amazing!
For our menu, I chose Chicken Nacatamales, Red Beans and Rice and a special treat Tres Leches Cake with recipe courtesy of Pati's Mexican Table.

Chicken Nacatamales
Authentic Nacatamales are steamed inside banana leaves, but I was fresh out of those, so instead I used corn husks like a traditional tamale.  Start this dish in advance so you have time to marinate the chicken

1 cup masa harina
1 cup cornmeal
1/4 cup butter, melted
corn husks soaked in water (or banana leaves if you can find them)
3/4 cup onion divided
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup water or broth
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 chicken breasts cubed
juice of 1 orange
juice of 1/2 lime
1/2 green pepper
1/2 red pepper
1/4 cup fresh parsley chopped
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves chopped finely
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1 tsp cumin
1 tomato, diced
2 cups potato, diced
1/2 cup cooked rice
olive oil

Put chicken in a glass dish and marinate at least 1 hour with orange and lime juices, 1/4 cup of the onion and 2 cloves of garlic.  Saute remaining onion and peppers in olive oil until they begin to soften.  Add  remaining garlic, paprika and cumin until fragrant about 1-2 minutes.  Add tomato and chicken.  Cook until chicken is no longer pink, then add chicken broth and potatoes.  Cover and let simmer until potatoes are tender.  Stir in cooked rice, parsley and mint.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Mix masa harina and cornmeal in medium bowl.  Pour in melted butter and incorporate.  Pour in water/broth a little at a time to make a smooth paste consistency.  It should not be runny or crumbly.

Lay a corn husk flat and spread a spoonful of the masa harina mix onto it.  Then put a spoonful of the chicken mix on top.  Carefully fold in the sides and ends until you have a nice little rectangle.  (I still need more practice doing this.  The first few are always the hardest then I get the hang of it, so be patient with yourself if you've never done it.)

After you've rolled up a few nacatamales, set up your steamer, or make one with a large colander set over a pan of boiling water.  Don't let the water be so high that it touches the nacatamales.  Steam for about 20 minutes.  Serve with rice and beans.

Red Beans and Rice

1/2 onion
1/2 red pepper, diced
1 cup chicken broth
2 cups cooked long grain rice
1 can of red kidney beans
2-3 cloves garlic
1 tsp cumin
pinch of cayenne pepper
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped        
1/2 tsp salt or to taste
olive oil

Saute onion and pepper in olive oil.  Add garlic and saute about 1 minute or until fragrant.  Stir in cayenne, cumin, salt and pepper and saute another minute.  Mix in the rice.  Add the beans and broth.  Simmer until almost all of the broth is absorbed by the rice.  Add the cilantro and serve.  

Tres Leches Cake-- This recipe comes directly from the website, Pati's Mexican Table, she has fabulous Mexican recipes and beautiful photos of every step.   She really knows her Mexican food.  She grew up in Mexico and even has her own program called the Mexican Table.  She was kind enough to let me reuse her recipe here so check out her site and give her some bloggy love.

Tres Leches Cake
Serves 10-12

For the Cake
9 eggs separated
I've never had luck making a meringue, but this time it worked!
1 cup sugar
1 T vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour

1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 can evaporated milk
1 cup milk
1 T vanilla extract

For Topping
2 cups heavy whipping cream
1/4 confectioners' sugar

To Prepare:
Preheat oven to 360.  Butter a 9 x 13 inch pan, lining the bottom with a piece of parchment paper cut to fit the pan.

Pour the egg whites into the bowl of your mixer and beat on medium-high speed for 4 to 5 minutes, or until they hold soft peaks.  Slowly stir in the sugar and continue beating until they hold hard or more stiff peaks.  Turn off the mixer and with a spatula, move the egg white mixture onto a large mixing bowl.  

My final product, I added a sprinkle of cinnamon and mint leaf 
Rinse the bowl of the mixer and its whisk.  Now pour the egg yolks into the bowl of the mixer and beat on medium-high speed for about 5-6 minutes, or until the egg yolks become creamy, puffy and their color has toned down to an almost cream color rather than a loud yellow.  Stir in the vanilla and continue beating for another minute.  Turn off the mixer.

Pour the egg yolk mixture onto the egg whites and with a spatula, in evolving motions, combine them into a homogeneous single batter.  Do so gently trying not to lose much volume from the mixture.  When fully combined, fold in the flour, scraping the bowl with the spatula so that all the flour is well mixed.   

Pour the batter into the prepared cake pan and place into the oven for 22 -25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean. It can be a bit moist, but not wet.  The top of the cake should be tanned and feel fluffy if you touch it.  Remove it from the oven and let it cool.

Once it cools down, turn it onto a platter.  Remove the parchment paper and cover the top with an upside down platter and invert again.  The platter should be large enough to hold the cake and the vanilla sauce.  Using a fork, or two, poke holes all over the cake so it absorbs the vanilla sauce.  

In a mixing bowl, combine the 3 milks and vanilla extract.  Pour the vanilla sauce over the cake.  

In the bowl of your mixer, whip up the heavy cream with the confectioners' sugar on medium-high speed until the mixture holds up stiff peaks, about 1-2 minutes.  Spread the whipped cream all over the already wet cake.  Then yum, eat it all up.    

Thanks so much to Pati for sharing this delicious recipe!!!

I hope you enjoy this yummy Nicaraguan feast!


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Curried Squash Soup

I can't believe it has been so long since I last posted here!  It's not that we haven't been eating, just that I've been too lazy to get a decent photo (I'm not a food photographer!) and write up the recipes!  Well I hope to change that.  I'm hoping to at least post once a week for now.  

This had been one of my favorite Thanksgiving recipes, but for some reason the last couple years I'd forgotten about it.
I was digging through my recipe file (this sounds organized but in fact it's a big jumble of clippings and printed recipes!), and to my surprise I found it handwritten on yellow legal paper.  

I guess it pays to organize occasionally!

Curried Squash Soup

1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1 carrot, diced
1 shallot, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
32 oz stock, chicken or vegetable
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp. curry powder
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 T brown sugar
1 can coconut milk, with 1/4 cup reserved
olive oil
About 1 tsp salt or to taste
pepper to taste
cilantro as garnish (optional)

Heat olive oil in 6 quart stockpot over medium. Saute shallot and garlic until fragrant.  Add carrots, cayenne pepper, curry powder, cumin, and cinnamon.  Cook for about 1 minute, stirring constantly until fragrant.  Add broth and squash.  Bring to a low boil.  Cover and simmer about 25 minutes or until squash and carrots are tender.  Puree until smooth.  Add coconut milk and stir.  Ladle into bowls and drizzle reserved coconut milk on top.  Garnish with cilantro and a dash of cinnamon    

Oh and if anyone has any tips on food photography I'd love to hear them!  Tell me what you've been cooking up recently!