Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Monday, February 27, 2012

Meatless Monday: The Colin Clark of Burritos

Colin Clark Black Bean Burritos
(c/o Colin Clark)

Sometimes I visit my friends Beth and Colin and they always feed me. On one particular visit, Colin had made black bean burritos. Upon entering their home, I was immediately given one of these burritos and my one night visit turned into two nights and 4 burritos. These babies are seriously delicious (the burritos and the friends)!  I did a little schmoozing and begging and got Colin to share the recipe with me! (Okay, I didn't really beg. He shared the recipe willingly.) And now I'm sharing the love with all of you!

This is one of those recipes you can make a lot of or a little of and use as much or as little of the seasonings as you want.  You can also make a huge batch of the beans and keep some in the freezer for the future.  

Colin Clark's Black Bean Burritos
  • 3 lbs. black beans (presoaked and rinsed)
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • 2 tsp. chili powder
  • 2 Tbsp. cider vinegar
  • 3 tsp. sea salt
  • 4 tsp. liquid smoke

1) Add all ingredients to a big pot.  Fill pot with water just to the top of the beans. 
2) Cook on low, covered, for 2 hours. During the last half hour, monitor moisture.  If too wet, increase heat and stir often, uncovered.
3) Put inside a burrito with all the fixins! (*see below)

Colin Clark's Pico de Gallo
  • 8 lbs. tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 cilantro bunch
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 4 Tbsp. lime juice

1) Remove tomato seeds and dice.  Dice onion and chop cilantro.
2) Combine tomato and cilantro. Slowly add onion until it "looks onioney enough"
3) Add salt and lime juice, stir it a little, and let it hang out in the fridge for a couple of hours to let the flavors come together.  
      When using this pico de gallo, squeeze moisture out of it to prevent a soggy burrito. 

  • Flour tortilla (Colin swears by Don Marcos brand)
  • Sour cream
  • Mild white shredded cheese (like mozzarella or even queso fresco)
  • Cilantro lime rice
  • Guacamole
  • Frank's hot sauce

Friday, February 24, 2012

Mindful Eating

I came across this New York Times article, Mindful Eating as Food for Thought, and wanted to share! We're all busy these days, so stopping to take a full 30 minutes to enjoy your lunch break is almost unheard of. Even a food lover like me scarfs her food, leaving me wondering "hey, wait a minute! What did that actually taste like?"

I love the concept of dedicating yourself to the enjoyment of a meal, eliminating distractions and focusing on the tastes, textures, and smells. It lets us enjoy the food more thoroughly, it's better for our digestion, and it prevents over-eating.

I think this is something we should all incorporate into our lives to some extent, but it's not something I would want to do for every meal. Part of what I love most about food is sharing it, sharing the experience of tasting, and sharing in the joy of company. Having friends over for a meal is a time to celebrate life. Coming together for dinner each night is my family's time to catch up with each other. This isn't to say that coming together for a mindful meal wouldn't be a bonding experience. Surely, it would. But a meal can take the form of a reflective meditation or an exciting gathering of celebration.

However you decide to conduct your mealtime, may you value all it has to offer.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

How romantic...

(from Giada DeLaurentis)

When I was about 13 or 14, my friend, Kendra, and I were babysitting and, obviously, we raided the fridge.  It wasn't one of the better stocked houses we had visited, but there were a couple of options, amongst them, mint jelly.  Kendra and I looked at each other, bewildered, because mint jelly could not possibly be good on toast.

Fast forward a few years...
My dad has been going to The Sugar Bowl in Gaylord, Michigan since he was 8.  I have been going there for as long as I can remember.  When I finally graduated from the kid's menu, my life improved greatly with the introduction of rack of lamb.  They season it with greek seasoning and grill it so that when you take a bite it sort of crackles and then gives way to such tender, flavorful meat and leaves your lips tasting like greek deliciousness.  And on the side: mint jelly.  Finally it made sense!

Anyway, all this led up to the Valentine's Day dinner menu.  Yeah, I crashed my parents' romantic evening together, but at least I suggested a nice dinner menu.  Crispy Rack of Lamb with Honey and Mascarpone (from Giada DeLaurentis) and Sweet Potato Fries with basil salt and aioli.  The sweet potato fries were also a recipe from Giada, but it's one of those recipes we made once and it was so simple that I have just always remembered it.  

The lamb itself was delicious.  We all agreed that we could do without the sauce.  It wasn't bad, we just like our lamb sauceless.  We are always trying to figure out how to get our sweet potato fries crispy without them getting burned, so this time we tried a little trick with an egg.  There was a slight improvement, but I think we still need to do some tweaking.  

Crispy Rack of Lamb with Honey and Mascarpone

3 (1-1 1/2 pounds each) racks of lamb, trimmed, with 1/4 inch of fat left on meat
1/4 c olive oil
salt and pepper
2 Tbsp. herbs de Provence

1/2 c creme fraiche (or sour cream)
1 tsp. honey (plus more to taste)
3/4 Tbsp. cumin
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh mint leaves
1/2 c mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
salt and pepper

1) Set mascarpone out to come to room temperature.
2) Start grill.  Drizzle lamb with olive oil, season with herbs de Provence and S&P.
3) Cook lamb on the grill, making sure the coals are hot enough to sear the meat and give it a nice crust.  Cook until medium rare (or longer if you're crazy enough to like it that way).  Allow lamb to sit 10 minutes before slicing.
4) sauce: in a small bowl combine creme fraiche, honey, cumin, and mint.  Add mascarpone and stir until combined.  Season with S&P.  Add honey to taste.

Sweet Potato Fries with Basil Salt and Aioli

sweet potatoes
1 egg white
mayonnaise (or plain yogurt)
lemon juice

1) Preheat oven to 350℉.
2) Wash sweet potatoes.  Cut into fry shapes, keeping them all about the same size so they cook evenly.
3) Beat one egg white until frothy.  Toss potatoes with egg white, plus S&P if you would like.  Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray and lay potatoes out in a single layer, not too close or else they will get soggy.
4) Bake fries until they are getting crispy, turning them halfway through cooking.
5) Meanwhile, finely chop basil, combine with salt, and reserve.  Mince a clove of garlic, combine it with mayonnaise (and/or plain yogurt for a healthier approach) and lemon juice.  
6) When fries are finished, sprinkle them with basil salt while they're still hot.  Serve with garlic aioli.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Will you be my Valentine?

Chocolate Donuts

Last weekend was my friend Jake's birthday. My Michigan friends and I made the trip to see our Chicago friends to celebrate Jake's special day! Jake and his fiancé, Sarah, were even kind enough to let us take over their living room with futons and air mattresses and in the morning a certain sneaky friend quietly escaped through the front door. The rest of us were starting to stir when in walks sneaky friend with a giant Dunkin Donuts bag. Our sleepy little eyes widened with joy as she pulled out 2 huge boxes of donuts and a bag of bagels. Talk about a great hostess!

I was thinking about how special it felt to indulge in those delicious sprinkled pastries and since Valentine's Day is around the corner (yes, it's this Tuesday, in case you forgot), I decided to regale my loved ones with homemade donut treats!

I searched high and low for Valentine's Day sprinkles to no avail (okay, I only went to three stores) but we had red and white sprinkles that sufficed. Next year I will plan ahead and get my festive sprinkles before Michael's sells out.  Besides the sprinkles, the donuts were so delicious!  I gave some to my boyfriend, my brother, and my parents and they were a hit!

Chocolate Donuts

(Makes 12 donuts)
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cocoa
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  1.  Preheat oven to 325.  Spray donut baking pan with cooking spray.
  2. Stir dry ingredients together in mixing bowl.  Add egg, buttermilk, vegetable oil, and vanilla.  Blend until smooth using a mixer on medium speed.
  3. Put batter in a ziploc bag.  Squeeze batter into one corner and cut of the tip.  Pipe batter into each cooking reservoir.
  4. Bake about 8 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  5. Meanwhile, combine powdered sugar, a touch of vanilla, and enough water to make a thin glaze.
  6. While still warm, dip each donut in glaze, turning with a fork, and lay on a cooling rack.
  7. When donuts are cooled, dip the to of each in chocolate glaze (optional)

Chocolate glaze

(Makes more than enough glaze for 12 donuts)
  • 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 Tbsp. light corn syrup
  • 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
  1. In a double boiler over hot, but not boiling water, combine chocolate chips, butter and corn syrup.  Stir until chips are melted and mixture is smooth, then add vanilla.

Friday, February 10, 2012

What's for Lunch?

Pantry Tostada
(from my kitchen)

You know that feeling when you open the fridge and think "there is NOTHING to eat" and you panic a little bit? That happened to me today.

But with a little ingenuity I came up with this little creation! I think at any given time we have enough stuff in the ktchen to create some sort of Mexican dish. Refried beans, ground beef, salsa, sour cream, lettuce, cheese, queso fresco, avocado, tortillas, tortilla chips. The possibilities are endless!

Today's creation:
  • Corn tortilla heated in a skillet
  • Vegetarian refried beans (lard free!) spread on top of the tortilla
  • Sprinkle cheese (aka: shredded cheese)
  • Queso fresco
  • (All of the above heated in the oven to get everything warm and melty)
  • Lettuce
  • Sour cream
  • Salsa
  • Avocado

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Holy Hiatus!

Salmon with Saffron Cream Sauce

Alright, kids. I know I've been away for awhile and it's no excuse. I just got stuck in a little rut, you see. But I'm back and I hope you're ready for me!

And what better way to come back than with a new recipe to try?

We ("we" being my family) prepare salmon pretty much the same way every time. It's delicious, but variety is the spice of life. So tonight's menu is salmon with brown rice, stir-fried veggies, and a saffron cream sauce. Sounds good, right?

Well here's what happened. It wasn't all rainbows and lollipops. I made the sauce and may have overestimated my estimating abilities. The called-for 1 tsp. of yellow mustard may have turned into more like 1 1/2 or maybe even 2 tsp. Woops! I'd suggest starting small with strong flavors like that. We tasted the sauce in the pan and we were all very skeptical. Since it was my suggestion for dinner, I only admitted my skepticism silently to myself. Mom, however, came right out and said it: "I don't know if I like this." We doctored it up a bit, adding a little more wine, a little more mascarpone, and some chicken stock. It definitely did the trick! The mustard flavor mellowed and it thinned out the sauce.

Final verdict: DELICIOUS!

Note: This dish is very quick and easy. It is not, however, inexpensive. Unless, of course, you happen to have saffron, mascarpone, and sundried tomatoes already in your pantry. Let's just say if you wanted to impress a special someone a little bit, maybe for a special holiday, this is your dish! (*cough, cough* Valentine's Day *cough*)

Salmon with Saffron Cream Sauce

1) Cook salmon in a greased dish at 350℉ until it's done. (Have I mentioned my rule-of-thumb for cooking any sort of meat/fish? Cook it til it's done. Now I have.)

2) Melt 1-2 Tbsp. butter in a pan over medium heat.

3) Add 1 onion, diced and cook until translucent.

4) Add 1/2 c. dry white wine, 1/4 tsp. saffron, 1 tsp. yellow mustard, and 4 oz. mascarpone cheese. Simmer until thickened. Stir in sundried tomatoes.

5) Sauté your choice of veggies and combine with cooked rice of your choice.

6) Serve salmon atop rice and veggies and spoon sauce overtop.