Monthly Archives: May 2011

Mexi-Black Beans

Oh, how I just love mexican food!  However, I have had to adapt many of the classic dishes to accomodate our preference for limiting (no, I didn’t say eliminating!) meat and dairy in our diets.  What this means is that I often turn to beans to provide us with a complete protein (rice/beans) and much needed iron.  Sadly, though, until recently I wasn’t exactly LOCO about beans.  Which is why I started playing around to see what could be done to make them more appealing.  I quickly discovered that  two simple additions and a squirt of lime juice can make monumental changes in the flavor!  So pour yourself a big margarita and get ready to whip together a leaner and meaner mexican feast– you can start by swapping out some of the meat and greasy cheese with these tasty Mexi-black beans!!  Two seriously cool facts about mexi-black beans is 1.   how versatile they are–I use them at breakfast in egg burritos and even as an appetizer with a squeeze of lime over the top and multi-grain chips and 2.  they are packed full of iron, magnesium, phosphorus, folate, and fiber (hello beano!).  Heck, if you are really feeling crazy buy a bag of dried beans and give the home made version a shot.  They are super simple and make a good choice even better because YOU have control over the level of sodium added!

Mexi-black beans

Servings:  3

  • 1 14 oz can of black beans
  • 2 t cumin seeds
  • squirt of lime juice
  • 1 t chipotle pepper flakes (or more!)

In a small sauce pan cook the ingredients over low until they start to break down, become aromatic, and thicken up a little.  This is usually when I take them off of the heat and serve them, but if you leave them cook for 20 or so more minutes they will almost completely break down and thicken to a refried bean consistency, which might be desirable depending upon how you are using them!

Coconutier Macaroons

I couldn’t sleep a few nights ago so I got up and starting browsing around for some inspirational blogs and/or food related websites.  During my groggy search I found a recipe for macaroons that perked me up.  When I finally made it back to bed, I must have dreamed about these pillows of sweetness because I got up the next day, did 90 minutes of power yoga and then made COOKIES!  These babies turned out pretty darn good and were ridiculously easy to make.  They ring in at about 100 calories per cookie, but the cool thing about this cookie is that there is no added fat.  The fat comes from the coconut alone–which makes it much easier to swallow!  So pour yourself a big glass of milk (or coconut milk) and enjoy (but try not to over-enjoy) this very sweet treat!

Fluffy pillows of coconut

Coconutier Macaroons

Servings:  12

  • 1 1/2 c sweetened shredded coconut
  • 2 egg whites
  • splash of vanilla
  • 1/2 t nutmeg
  • dash of ground cardamom (optional)
  • 1/3 c brown sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Whip together the egg whites, vanilla, nutmeg, cardamom, and brown sugar.  Add the coconut and turn until it is well covered.  Using your fingers, form tightly packed  little coconut stacks (recipe makes about 12) on your lightly greased (I use PAM) cookie sheet.  Bake for 15 minutes, or until they are nicely browned.  Leave the cookies alone until they completely cool otherwise they will just crumble into pieces.

Crisper drawer quesadilla

Gorgeous colors and flavors in between the tortillas

So the garden of veggies in your fridge drawer is piling up and starting to fade?   I hear all too often complaints about good intentions gone awry with the contents of the crisper drawer.  I am here to help!  This quesadilla is an awesome way to have a hugely flavorful, simple meal while making sure you don’t waste any of those super expensive super foods in your fridge! Plus, if you have kids, they will love you for this one!  There is a little bit of chopping required, but I promise it is worth every second of your time!  This recipe is really just a guide to get you started–use the veggies that YOU love (or want to love :))!  ENJOY!

Crisper drawer quesadilla

Servings:  2

  • 4 flour tortillas
  • Veggies in your fridge.   I usually have some of the following on hand for this dish:  corn (frozen, but fresh in the summer), bell pepper, onion, tomato, cilantro, yellow squash, jalapeño pepper, garlic, argula, asparagus.  About 3 cups total.
  • 1 t cumin seeds
  • 1/2 t chipotle pepper flakes
  • 1/4 c shredded mexican cheese (leave out for vegan)
  • 2 t fresh salsa
  • splash of EVOO
  • sour cream (tofutti for vegans), avocado slices as garnish

Heat a medium size skillet over medium low heat.  Add the EVOO, cumin seeds and chipotle pepper flakes.  After about a minute add the garlic and corn and roast until the corn starts browning.  Clean and prep your veggies, add them to the skillet and cook until they are al dente.

While the veggies are cooking, warm up your George Foreman grill and give it a quick spray with PAM.

Once the veggies are cooked to the texture you desire it is time to build and cook your quesadilla.  Throw one tortilla on the grill, add a big scoop of the veggies, cover with cheese, put the top tortilla on, and close the GF lid.   Cook the quesadilla until it is a golden brown and the cheese is melted.  Garnish with a scoop of sour cream, sliced avocados, and chopped cilantro.  Serve with a side of your favorite salsa.

Quesadilla starting to brown in the GF

Now doesn’t that look good??

PeppaDO! pasta

Can you see the sauce starting to caramelize??

This pepper pasta is truly a no-brainer and is one of my favorites from the ‘I am NOT in the mood to cook’ menu here at the casa.   If you aren’t familiar with the peppadew pepper let me take this opportunity to introduce you to this sweet, warm, red beauty and super fruit.  It is similar in nutritional value to the red bell–low calorie, no fat, loads of antioxidants (vitamin c!), and a nice bit of fiber.  They do pack SOME heat (similar to a pepperoncini) but fear not, it scores very low on the Scoville scale.  The story behind the peppadew is pretty interesting!  In short, about 18 years ago a South African farmer came upon an unfamiliar bush with these small, bright red fruits.  Upon tasting this unique sweetie, he realized he had found something very special.  He played around with the seeds to perfect the plant and patented the fruit under the name peppadew.  He has recently sold the rights and now the pepper is readily available here in the states.  You can most likely find them at your local grocer–Whole Foods even has them in bulk at their olive bar–which is the most economical way to purchase them right now.  Five years ago my hubby and I were lucky enough to source seeds (very, very hard to do!) through a seed saver from Austria — yep, our babies have traveled a long way to be with us here in Missouri!  The plants are late, but heavy producers.  This year I hope to have 8-10 plants bearing loads of them for us!  If all goes according to plan, there will be a whole slew of peppaDO! recipes on the blog by years end!

So, back to the recipe…Shrimp pairs very nicely with this pepper and adds a little more ‘weight’ to this sauce, but it is truly delightful without it!   Toss a big salad, pour yourself a glass of wine, and get ready to enjoy your simple, heart healthy and satisfying dinner!

Bon Appetit!

PeppaDO! pasta

Servings:  4-5

  • 1 package whole wheat spaghetti noodles
  • 1 1/2 jars of your favorite spaghetti sauce (Bertolli Tomato Basil for me, thank you!)
  • 1 t dried basil
  • 1 t dried oregano
  • 1 t (or more) crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 T EVOO
  • 1-2 T diced garlic
  • 1/2 t freshly ground pepper
  • 1 c (or more) peppadew (piquant) peppers
  • 1/4 c peppadew (piquant) brine
  • 1/2 -1 # large uncooked shell-on shrimp (optional)
  • Garnish of freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

In a large saute pan warm the EVOO over medium-low with the chipotle pepper flakes.  Add the garlic, basil, oregano, and black pepper and heat for a minute or two.  Add the peppadews and juice and stir well.  Cook for 3 or so minutes, until it starts to caramelize just a touch.  Add the jarred sauce, turn the heat down to low and cook for 5-10 minutes.  Add the shrimp and cook another 5 – 7 minutes, until the shrimp is cooked through.  Be sure not to over-cook the shrimp or you will have a rubbery disappointment on your hands!

While your sauce is doing its thing, start your pasta by bringing a stock pot full of water (I like add 1-2 T kosher salt and 1/2 t hot pepper to flavor the pasta, but this is totally optional) to a boil and add the pasta.  Cook until al dente-usually 11-12 minutes.  Drain and do NOT rinse.

Serve the pasta with a heaping scoop of sauce.  Garnish as desired!

PeppaDO! Pasta

Milton and George’s Grilled Cheese

I don’t know about you, but I still love a grilled cheese sandwich!  So simple, yet so rich and satisfying.  The beautiful thing is you can use ANY type of cheese that suits your fancy, throw it in between two slices of bread, slather it with butter and in just a few minutes you have a tasty treat!  The negative is that this sandwich is loaded with FAT–I love butter as much as you, but my thighs definitely do NOT!  So, I went searching for an easy answer to that problem and quickly found the solution.  I am happy to report that it is as simple as choosing the right bread and cooking appliance.  Enter George and Milton.  Yes, that is right!    Fire up your George Foreman grill and use Milton’s Whole Grain bread and you will have a crispy grilled cheese that is much lower in fat and calories!  Follow the simple recipe below and you will be enjoying your grilled cheese with less guilt and hopefully equal or more satisfaction.  YUM!   Oh, and the George and Milton’s grilled cheese is like a featherweight–weighing in at 260-340 kcal and 11-18 g fat vs 450-600 kcal and 28-33 g fat!

George and Milton’s Grilled Cheese

Servings:  1 sandwich

  • 2 slices of Milton’s Bread
  • 2 slices of your favorite cheese
  • Pam butter flavor cooking spray (optional)–I don’t use this, but if you need the butter flavor add a quick spray to the GF grill
  • Hot pepper, herbs, black pepper–sprinkle between the slices for an added kick!

Assemble the sandwich while the GF is warming up.  Place the sandwich in the GF, close the lid and let the sandwich brown.  Remove and EAT!

Add sliced tomatoes or any veggie that you like to add nutrients and even more flavor to your sandwich!