Monday, October 24, 2011

Recipe: Black Bean, Sweet Potato, and Swiss Chard Chili

Who doesn't love a good pot of chili? It is great on a cold night, and wonderful to keep reserves of in the freezer.  Like many of you, I grew up with the fairly standard ground beef and kidney bean version and it always brings back good memories when I make it.  However, I also love to try new versions out, and adding veggies to something never hurts.  The base recipe was inspired from this, which used butternut squash instead.  I also had about a cup of cooked orzo on hand that I added in, though this is completely optional.  A few other tweaks here and there and a whole new beast is made.  Meat could very easily be added to this as well if you want it in there.

You will need:

One and a half cooking onions, chopped
2-3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 large sweet potato, cubed
Three 15oz cans of black beans, washed and drained
One 14.5 can diced tomato, UNdrained
1 Bunch swish chard, washed, dried, torn from the stems and chopped
2.5-3.5 cups stock (I used chicken)
One handful fresh parsley, finely chopped with some reserved for garnish
1 cup cooked orzo, optional
2 Tablespoons Adobo Chili Powder
2 Teaspoons Ground Cumin
2 Teaspoons Dijon Mustard
Olive Oil
Red Pepper Flakes
Feta for garnish

Start by prepping the sweet potato.  Mine was pretty ugly on the outside so I peeled it.  Either way, cut it in half length wise and then cut into half-moons.  Stack about 3 half moons on each other and cut them in half length wise.  Then cut these sticks into about 3 cubes each (you can cut them still stacked up to make this faster).
Heat a teaspoon or two of olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.  When hot, add the onion and cook for 4-5 minutes.  Add a dash of salt and pepper and then the garlic.  Stir and cook for 4-5 more minutes until the garlic just starts to brown.  Add the cubed sweet potato and cook for 4-5 more minutes until it starts to get tender.  Add the chili powder, cumin, another good dash of salt.  Stir to combine.
Add in the beans, tomatoes, dijon, and stock.  Stir and bring to a bubble.

Reduce to a simmer and let cook ~15 minutes or until the chili has thickened and the sweet potato is tender.  Halfway through give the broth a taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. When the potato is cooked add the chard.  Stir the chard into the chili and cook for 2-3 minutes or until the chard has wilted. Add in the cooked orzo if you wish, and then the handful of chopped parsley.  Stir to combine.  Garnish with feta and parsley if desired.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Love Thy Leftovers: Hummus Pizza

This was a supermarket epiphany, I didn't wan't to buy/make a pizza sauce that might not get used in something else, and I wasn't looking at spending a lot of extra money that night.  I already had a container of hummus in my fridge, and leftover stir-fry from a night or two before.  The rest came together pretty quickly.  I used the thin-crust Pillsbury roll out crust but feel free to use whatever type you want if you have a favorite, just note a difference in cooking times and you might have to rearrange some of the steps.

You will need:
1 can Pillsbury Thin Crust roll out pizza dough
Hummus (I used about half a container)
Toppings (I used the aforementioned stir-fry mix of slightly curried bell pepper, kohlrabi, and steak. See link)
One handful cheese of choice (I actually used a non-seasoned mexican cheese mix)
Red pepper flakes
Garlic Powder
Parsley, chopped, for garnish is desired
Cooking spray

Start by preheating the oven to 400 degrees.  While it is heating, cover a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and spraying it with cooking spray (or a bit of olive oil).  Roll out the crust on the cookie sheet and sprinkle it with a little pepper and garlic powder.  Bake the crust for 5 minutes.  Remove from oven and spread the crust with the hummus, scatter on the toppings, add the red pepper flakes, and finally the handful of cheese.  Continue baking for 6-10 minutes or until the crust is browning and everything is heated through.  Remove and garnish with parsley, if desired.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Recipe: Kohlrabi, Bell Pepper, and Steak Stir-fry

That is a kohlrabi, and before going to the farmer's market a few weeks ago I'd never seen or heard of it. This past week I decided to give it a go.  The outer layer is peeled off with a paring knife and the light greenish white flesh can be eaten raw, stir fried, steamed, slaw-ed, or in pretty much any other way.  Flavor wise it is mildly sweet with hints of cabbage, and very crisp.  For this recipe, I used the meat that I had on hand (steaks my grandmother had sent from Omaha Steak) but any typical stir fry meat/meat substitute could be used.  I kept the seasonings very simple to let the sweetness of the kohlrabi play off the slight bitterness of the peppers and the bite of the garlic.

You will need:
4 four oz. top sirloin steaks, sliced
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
2 bell peppers
1/2 large kohlrabi bulb, peeled
Soy Sauce
Olive oil
Curry Powder
Cayenne or red pepper flakes

Prep work:
For the bell peppers, I started by cutting the four sides off of the core.  I then cut each section into strips length-wise and then cut those strips in half.
The kohlrabi, presents a bit of a challenge especially if it is a large bulb.  The best advice is to use a large, sharp knife and carefully slice through.  Then peel (if you haven't already) and laying the flat side on the cutting board cut into strips and then sections approximating the size of the bell peppers.

I found that two pans worked easiest for this, and started the second pan right after I added the meat to the first.  Start by tossing the meat strips in some salt and pepper, and then add to a pan heated over medium high heat.  Add a tsp of soy sauce and cook until the pink has just disappeared (if beef), or until completely cooked (if pork or chicken).

Heat the second pan (a large pot) over medium heat with a drizzle of olive oil.  When it is hot, add the chopped garlic and cook ~30 seconds or until golden.  Immediately add the kohlrabi and bell peppers and stir.  Add a dash of salt, pepper, curry powder, soy sauce, and either cayenne or red pepper flakes and stir to combine.  Cook for 3-4 minutes or until the kohlrabi begins to just brown.  Add the meat and give it a stir and a taste.

I served it over some barely, but rice would work just as well, as would the mix on its own.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Love Thy Leftovers: Swiss Chard Mashed Potatoes

Using leftovers in a creative and delicious way is the key to preventing boredom and waste in the kitchen.  I had a serving of swiss chard (with apple) left over and did not want to eat it plain.  Enter the mashed potatoes.  The swiss chard added some much needed texture, flavor, and nutrition to the mashed potatoes and the potatoes changed it up just enough to make it interesting.  If you want to make your own, that would be great too- I simply didn't have the time or potatoes to do that.  I had about a cup of wilted chard, but you can mix in however much you like, within reason (or amount of potatoes).  If your chard is still in large, wilted, chunks you might take a knife to it before adding it in so it mixes evenly.

You will need:
One cup swiss chard with apples (recipe below)
1 Garlic clove, very finely chopped
1 pouch instant mashed potatoes (I used herb and butter)
2 cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 pat butter

For the swiss chard:
2 bunches swiss chard, removed from stalks and torn into bite sized pieces
2 buches swiss chard stems, chopped into bite sized pieces
1/2 onion, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic finely chopped
1 honey crisp apple, chopped
Olive Oil

In a large pot heat a bit of olive oil over medium high heat.  Add the chard stems and cook 2-3 minutes, then add the onions and cook for 3-4 more minutes.  Create a empty space in the pan and add the garlic, cooking it until it just begins to brown, 30 seconds to a minute.  Stir the garlic into the onions and stems and then add the chard, salt, and pepper. Cook until the chard is completely wilted down.  Add the chopped apple and cook for 1-2 more minutes.

For the Swiss Chard Mashed Potatoes:
Put a pat of butter in a sauce pan and heat over medium heat.  Add the chopped garlic clove and saute until golden.  Add the 2 cups of chicken stock and bring to a boil.  While the liquid is coming to a boil heat the serving of swiss chard in the microwave or in a separate saute pan.  When the stock boils, take off the heat, and add the potato mix and stir with a fork until it all comes together.  Then take the heated chard and stir into the potato mixture and serve.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Recipe: Autumn Caesar Salad

Salads really are wonderful things, they are easy to put together, can use plenty of leftovers, and are nutritious and filling.  Caesar salads tend to take a bit of a hit in the nutrition department, so a mustard or tangy vinaigrette would be a suitable substitute. This salad keeps the toppings pretty simple.  Some roasted sweet potato cubes, Romano cheese, and some sweet and slightly tart Honey Crisp apple for crunch.  This recipe made one large dinner salad or 2-3 side salads.  You can play with the quantities of this as you need, imagine a half sweet potato and apple for every 2 people.  I used a bit more in this so they wouldn't spoil and, it worked nicely.

You will need:
Amount of salad mix desired, I used a field green mix
1/2 sweet potato
1 Honey Crisp apple
Sprinkle of Romano cheese
Casear dressing to just coat

Start by setting the oven to 425, and cubing the sweet potato.  Toss the cubes with a bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper and roast for 20-25 minutes on an oiled, foil-lined cookie sheet, turning halfway through. When finished, remove from the oven and let cool slightly outside the oven while you prepare the rest of the salad.  Wash and gently dry the salad, slice the apple in to thin slices (or bite sized cubes), and put both in a large bowl.  Add the sweet potato and the cheese and a drizzle of the Caesar.  Toss gently and taste, adding more dressing until it reaches the desired amount.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Recipe: Swiss Chard with Mushrooms

I can't believe I've gone this long without trying (or at least knowingly trying) Swiss Chard.  It is such a great leafy green that doesn't err too far on the bitter side.  Like any leafy green it wilts down to almost nothing, my two farmer's market bunches would have made 2-3 servings.  I buffed it up with some button mushrooms.  Did you know the stems of the swiss chard are edible as well? Those got chopped up and thrown in as well. This dish would be nice as a bed for a fatty fish such as salmon, or served alongside chicken or steak.  In the winter it would also be a nice dish on its own, served in a bowl, perhaps with a shredding of parmesan cheese.  

You will need: 
2 bunches swiss chard
Reserved swiss chard stems
1 pound mushrooms 
1/2 onion, chopped
2 Garlic cloves, fine chopped (1 medium clove=1/8 teaspoon good garlic powder)
Cayenne or red pepper flakes
Olive Oil

For this recipe I think it works best by starting with the prep work, it will significantly reduce the stress during cooking time.  Take the swiss chard by the base of the stem and pull upward on the leaf to strip it off, then tear each half leaf into 3-4 pieces.  Gently wash all the leaves and dry them in the colander/salad spinner/on paper towels.  Also give the stems a quick rinse in the sink and then chop them into bite sized pieces.  Dampen a paper towel and wipe off the tops of each mushroom and remove the stems.  Quarter each mushroom cap.  (If using them, garlic cloves should be finely chopped, and the half onion should be chopped).

Heat a large, deep pan with a turn of olive oil over medium high heat.  When hot, add the swiss chard STEMS and cook for 2-3 minutes (adding salt, and pepper).  Add the onion and cook for 3-4 more minutes.  Add the chopped garlic and cook for 30 seconds before adding the mushrooms.  Cook for 3 minutes and then add salt, pepper, paprika, and cayenne or red pepper flakes (the last two to taste).  Cook until the mushrooms are just soft and brown.  Add in the chard leaves, in batches if necessary, and cover the pot.  Stir occasionally until the leaves are wilted.  Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.  

Monday, October 3, 2011

Recipe: Grilled Cheese with Arugula and Plum Preserves

Alternate title: Grown up Grilled Cheese #1.  The grilled cheese is such a wonderful thing, even its basic form of plastic wrapped American Cheese on white bread is simple toasted perfection.  Luckily, we live in a world where some perfection can be built upon for something even better (and no more difficult).

This version combines several wonderful flavors.  The saltiness of the cheese is played off the sweetness of the little bit of preserves (feel free to use your favorite, I used plum but cannot wait to try it with fig), which in turn plays off the slight bitterness of the arugula. If you have it, a thin slice of prosciutto would probably be lovely as well.  This came together with what I had on hand, but feel free to switch up the bread and cheese to your liking.

You will need:

One good slice of munster cheese (2 slices if pre-sliced)
2 pieces of bread (I used a multigrain sandwich bread)
Small handful of arugula leaves, gently washed and dried
Plum preserves
Small pat of butter

Bloggers Note: I'm assuming you know how to make a grilled cheese/know what to do from here...but for the sake of the post, I am going to explain anyway.  Thank you for your indulgence.

Start off by assembling the sandwich: On one slice of bread smear a thin layer of the preserves, top that with one layer of arugula leaves, top that with the slice of cheese, and finish it off with the top piece of bread.

Melt the pat of butter in a saute pan over medium low to medium heat.  When it has melted place the bread preserve side down and cook until the side is golden brown.  Flip and repeat.  The sandwich is done when both sides are golden.  Enjoy immediately.