Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Black Bean Hummus (two versions)

Oops!  I totally skipped over the black bean hummus I promised you to go with the crispy smoked chicken rolls!  Sorry.  It almost seems unfair that I call this a recipe because it requires no effort, few ingredients, and it took me less than three minutes to make.  But, god, it is delicious!  I am going to give you two variations:  one is more the consistency of dip and the second is more like a traditional hummus.

Black Bean Hummus (v1)
1 can organic black beans, drained
2 lrg garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1/4 C extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon, about 1 Tbsp
1/2 tsp sea salt

   Puree all ingredients together until smooth.  I use my high powered immersion blender.  Season to taste.
   Makes about 1 3/4 C.  (This is the thinner version, pictured above.)

Black Bean Hummus (v2)
1 can organic black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can organic chick peas, drained
4 lrg garlic cloves, roughly chopped
~1/2 C extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1 lemon, ~2 Tbsp
1 tsp sea salt

   Puree it all together until smooth.  Season to taste.
   Makes about 4 C.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Baby Kale Salad w/ Roasted Tomatoes

A few weeks ago at our local farmers' market, The Murfreesboro Saturday Market, we found baby kale.  It is fresh, tender, and surprisingly sweet.  There is almost no trace of bitterness that you would expect from a dark green.  I couldn't bear to cook it.  Salad seemed like the logical answer.

Baby Kale Salad w/ Roasted Tomatoes
1 bunch baby kale, torn into pieces (about 2 C)
2 C mixed baby field greens
~1/4 C shards of Swiss cheese
1 med tomato cut into thin wedges
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper
your favorite dressing (big surprise, we used Roasted Garlic & Mustard Vinaigrette)

   Toss tomatoes in oil, salt, and pepper.  Roast at 400 deg F for about 15 minutes until soft and a little charred.
   Combine lettuces.  Assemble salad.
   Makes 2 large side salads.  (Some crunchy, homemade croutons would be really delicious on this, we just didn't have any bread appropriate for making croutons at the time.)

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Crispy Smoked Chicken Rolls

The inspiration for these tasty little appetizers was Boscos' Smoked Duck Spring Rolls.  Our Father's Day dinner was Southwestern themed so I changed the flavors, but the basic idea of smoked bird in a crispy shell was there.

Crispy Smoked Chicken Rolls
2 C smoked, shredded chicken*
1 lrg carrot, cut in a very fine julienne
1/2 lrg red bell pepper, very thinly sliced
4 lrg green onions, thinly sliced
1 pkg filo dough**
6 Tbsp salted butter, melted

   Take one sheet of filo, lightly brush with melted butter on one side.  Fold in half width-wise.  Add about 1 Tbsp of chicken, a few pieces of carrots and red bell pepper, and sprinkle with green onions.  Roll up like a burrito.  Use butter to seal the dough and brush the top with a little butter.
   This will make about 18 rolls.
   Bake at 375 deg F for about 15 minutes, until rolls are golden brown and crispy.
   Serves 6.  Serve with fresh salsa or black bean hummus (recipe tomorrow!)

*Season 4-5 chicken thighs very will with salt and pepper.  I used Dillo Dust. (Which you cannot purchase, sorry.  If you really want some you need to place an order with LaRue Tactical.)  It is basically salt, sugar, paprika, pepper, garlic and onion.  Smoke for 1.25 hours according to your smoker's directions.  You can purchase smoked chicken from many BBQ restaurants or you can use roast chicken.
**Make sure to to cover filo sheets with damp paper towels while working so they don't dry out.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Bacon, Spinach, & Gorgonzola Pizza

My favorite bacon is Wright's Steakhouse Bacon.  Yes, I have a favorite bacon. (Though, to be honest, I'm not that picky when it comes to bacon.)  So what?  It is thick cut, premium bacon marinated in garlic, herbs, and spices.  Seems pretty obvious to me that bacon doesn't get more delicious than that.  Unless you add blue cheese to it... hence, this fantastic pizza.

Bacon, Spinach, & Gorgonzola Pizza
12-14 oz pizza dough
4 slices Wright's Steakhouse bacon, chopped and cooked until crisp
12 oz frozen spinach, thawed and water squeezed out
5 oz grape tomatoes, quartered
4 oz crumbled gorgonzola
2 Tbsp parmesan
1 lrg clove garlic, minced

   Spread dough into a roughly 10x12 inch rectangle or 11 inch circle.  Pre-bake crust at 425 deg F for 5-7 minutes on bottom rack.
   Evenly distribute ingredients over the top of the crust.  Bake at 425 deg F for about 10 minutes on middle rack until cheese is melted.
   Serves 4.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Portuguese Kale and Sausage Soup

I told you that kale is my new go-to vegetable.  It only makes sense that I give you a kale recipe.  There are a lot of recipes for this soup which is no surprise because it is delicious, easy, cheap, and great year-round.  Browsing through about 15 different recipes, I found some had too few ingredients which I didn't think would lend to a full, rich flavor and others seemed to have an overabundance of... stuff.  I like to think my version has a good balance of flavor without too many ingredients.  Oh, and this is absolutely a one pot meal; keep that in mind when planning your weekly menu.

Portuguese Kale and Sausage Soup
1 lrg onion, diced
3 med carrots, diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
2 lrg cloves garlic, minced (~1 Tbsp)
1 14oz can diced tomatoes
1 14 oz can organic red kidney beans, drained*
2 lrg potatoes, cut into roughly 3/4 in cubes (~4 C)
~14 oz spicy sausage, sliced**
1 bunch kale, de-stemmed and chopped
4-5 C water
1 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp cayenne (optional)
juice of 1 med lemon
oil, salt and pepper

   In a large pot, heat about 1 tbsp oil over med heat.  Saute onions, carrots, and celery until tender, 7-10 minutes.  Add garlic, tomatoes, beans, potatoes, sausage, water, thyme, cayenne, about 3/4 tsp salt, and pepper.  Simmer partially covered for 15-20 minutes.  (If at any time you think it needs more water, add some.)
   Add kale.  This will probably need to be added in batches.  When all the kale is wilted into the soup add lemon juice and simmer for about 10 minutes, until the kale and potatoes are tender.  Salt and pepper to taste.
   Serves 4-6.

*I specifically say organic kidney beans because most of the regular canned kidney beans have sugar added.  You do not want sweet beans for this.
**Traditionally this soup is made with Portuguese chourico or linguica.  They are delicious, highly spiced, cooked pork sausages; they are also hard to find in a lot of regular grocery stores.  Andouille, a spicy Cajun sausage, would be a great substitute.  I used Hillshire Farm's Hot Smoked Sausage, which was very good and little more budget friendly than other sausages.

Also, I am aware that this is not a Spanish dish, if you are looked at my tags all confused. It is simply the best fit of my current tag listings.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Sweet Potato Pancakes w/ Sage Goat Cheese

Breakfast for dinner... who isn't a fan of that?  Obviously you can make these pancakes for regular breakfast or brunch.  We tend to go a little more simple for real breakfast, and I can't remember the last time we got to have a lazy brunch.  So dinner it is!

Sweet Potato Pancakes w/ Sage Goat Cheese
2 small-med sweet potatoes, baked (about 1 1/4-1/2 C flesh)
~1 1/3 C pancake mix (I use Bisquick Heart Smart)
1 med clove garlic, pasted
~1/2 tsp salt
~1/2 tsp onion powder
1 egg
3/4 C buttermilk

   Combine ingredients.  Add buttermilk or pancake mix until it is a thick, goopey paste.  It should be thicker then regular pancake batter because of the potatoes.
   Make them whatever size you want.  I make 4 ~5inch pancakes.  Cook over medium heat in melted butter or oil until bubbles form on the surface and do not pop.  Flip and cook until golden brown on the other side.  Keep warm on a baking rack in a 200 deg F oven if need be.
   Sage Goat Cheese:
2 oz softened goat cheese
1 Tbsp softened butter
~3/4 tsp ground sage (more if you are using fresh)
   Combine.  Wrap in plastic.  Pop into the freezer for 10-15 minutes.  Cut into 4 slices for serving.
   Serves 4.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Current Must-Have Kitchen Staples

I find myself constantly going back time and time again to the same ingredients.  I thought I would give you my current ingredient crushes.

5.  Buttermilk-- Browsing through my recipes you may realize that I use this dairy a lot... to an unhealthy point almost.  It is rich, creamy, tangy, and low fat.  Yes, most buttermilk is made from low fat milk.  Just make sure you are buying real buttermilk (especially for baking) and not the stuff that is thickened with starches and has added stabilizers.

4.  Chipotles-- This is crush that has been going on for years.  So I guess it is love?  I can't get enough of the spicy smokiness.  I add them to soups, mac and cheese, marinades, sauces... I don't think there is much I haven't added chipotles to.

3.  Zucchini-- I am a year-round fan of zucchini but they are reaching their summer prime right about now.  You can get small baskets for about $2 at farmer's markets this time of the year.  Simple grilled zucchini is one of my all time favorite summer side-dishes

2.  Coconut Manna-- I've only had it on a spoon and bites of it in the hub's oatmeal, but this pure coconut product is amazing and the ideas are churning in my head.  More on this to come in the next couple weeks....

1.  Kale-- Yeah, I know this is kinda of a crunchy-hippie veg.  It is abso-freakin-lutely delicious!  I have recently become hopelessly obsessed with this cheap green.  Be prepared for lots of kale recipes this summer.