Thursday, July 28, 2011

Mayocoba Beans with Tomato and Onion

This week's recipe isn't much of a recipe. It's more of a how to cook beans and turn it into a lazy weeknight dinner post.

First, you start with some dried beans. In this case Mayocoba. You could use Pinto, but I like the buttery mild taste of the Mayocoba over Pinto.

Next, clean the beans by picking out any tiny rocks that can sometimes be found in the bag. Once you've picked through the beans you'll want to cover them with 3 inches of water and soak them 8 hours or overnight. Soaking beans will help them cook faster.

After you are done soaking the beans, drain the water and give them a good rinse. Place the beans in a pot with fresh water and bring to a boil. Once the beans have started boiling you'll want to reduce the heat, add salt to taste and simmer until the beans are tender. Cooking times can vary anywhere from 1 to 3 hours.

Note: when salting beans I tend to make the water a bit salty since the beans take a while to absorb the flavor.

In order to turn a simple pot of beans into a weeknight dinner you can do the following:

Saute some onion in a bit of oil (preferably a neutral oil like canola or vegetable oil). You'll want to cook the onion until soft and translucent, about 3 to 5 minutes. Once the onion has softened a bit, add an equal amount of chopped tomato and a pinch of salt. Let the tomato and onion mixture cook for another 2 minutes then remove from the heat. Next, chop up some fresh cilantro.

Take some of the tomato and onion mixture and place it in the bottom of a bowl, then pour some of your freshly cooked beans on top and garnish with fresh cilantro.

The heat from the beans will wilt the cilantro a bit and mix with the flavors of the sauteed tomato and onion beautifully.

There you have it a simple, healthy and delicious weeknight supper!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Bulgur-Red Lentil Soup

This is the first of what I hope to be many posts that feature one of our weekly meals. My hope is that by highlighting one of the week's meals, you'll get a better glance into our home kitchen.

Up first is a Bulgur-Red Lentil Soup from Maria Speck's book Ancient Grains for Modern Meals. I found the book on Amazon after finally deciding to by this book. I've been wanting to incorporate more whole grains into our diet, but needed a book that would get me started with some delicious recipes. Maria Speck's book has fit the bill.

I gave the book an initial pass through and found myself stopping repeatedly to ooohh and ahhh over the recipes. Not only are the recipes enticing, but the photos that accompany some of them are down right sinful.

After an initial glance, I cleaned the drool from my mouth and set out to bookmark a couple of recipes to try out soon. The Bulgur-Red Lentil Soup was the first one that I decided to test.

The recipe is simple and straightforward. A one pot meal that is sure to satisfy. In fact the recipe description states that, "you will be rewarded with chunky, supple spoonfuls..."

Supple spoonfuls, yes please.

While the bulgur and lentils make this soup chunkier than a traditional soup, they add a nice heft that makes it a filling meal with a simple salad. 

Bulgur-Lentil Soup
from Ancient Grains for Modern Meals by Maria Speck

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 yellow or white onion, diced
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 1/2 tsp paprika
pinch of cayenne pepper
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 14oz. can roasted diced tomatoes
1/2 cup coarse bulgur
1/2 cup red lentils
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 cups of water
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon (about half a lemon)

Heat a large pot over medium heat and add olive oil. Once oil is shimmering add the butter. Watch the butter carefully so it doesn't burn. Once the butter has completely melted add the onion and cook until soft and slightly browned. (Tip: add a pinch of salt to the onions to draw out the water. This will help the onions to brown better)

Once the onions have softened add the garlic, paprika and cayenne. Stir constantly for about a minute, then add the tomato paste. Cook for an additional minute.

Add the can of roasted tomatoes and bring to a simmer. Once the tomatoes have come to a simmer, continue cooking for about 5 minutes.

Add the bulgur, lentils, broth, water and salt and bring to a boil. Once the soup has come to a boil check to see if it needs any additional salt and then reduce heat to low and cover the pot so that soup simmers.

You should simmer the soup for at least 25 minutes, but the recipe suggests 40 minutes ideally.

Once done, add the lemon juice and adjust seasoning if needed.

Serve and enjoy your hearty lentil soup!

Monday, July 18, 2011

What It's All About

If you've stumbled upon this blog I'd like to welcome you! This blog is my 3rd attempt at I'm not really sure what. Mostly, I'm hoping this blog will be a place for me to post about what I'm cooking, crafting, pondering and all around doing in life.

Cooking - I frequently get asked what I cook, so I'm hoping to post about the recipes that I try at home. Most of them are fairly simple, hopefully healthy, and I'll occasionally get a little wild and make a special dish. The recipes I'll post will either be from the countless recipes I find on my favorite food blogs or from my ever growing cookbook collection. Hopefully, you'll find them easy and, most importantly, delicious.

Crafting - I'm a knitter and occasionally dabble in sewing. I'll show you my successes and failures. Straight up.

Musings and all around life will round out this blog. From my pups Asia and Capone, the constant state of decorating our first home, photography and everything else in between.

I hope you'll stick around!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Oven Roasted Tomatoes

So today, I thought I'd post about oven roasted tomatoes. Why you ask?

Well, let's just say someone went a bit crazy and bought 10lbs. of San Marzano tomatoes from a local farm that was having a tomato sale. You heard me right. A tomato sale.

If the word sale is involved you better believe it's going to grab my attention.

So anyhow, I had a crap load of delicious tomatoes that were just sitting on my table and I needed to do something with them. Enter oven roasted tomatoes.

Apparently, roasting tomatoes brings out their flavor and caramelizes them and all that fancy stuff. All I know is I wanted process them in the simplest fashion and with the least effort on my part.

Here are some pictures of the process. The pictures kinda stink, but I'll just chalk that up to my lack of photography knowledge and crappy lighting.

The end result was nothing short of delicious. The tomatoes taste like sun-dried tomatoes only way better, because they aren't dry and leathery like sun-dried 'maters can be at times.

So far I've used the tomatoes in a pasta dish with asparagus, a goat cheese and spinach sandwich, and eaten them all by themselves straight from the jar. Don't judge me.

I'm pretty sure you can use just about any tomato, so if you don't have a tomato sale in your neck of the woods use what you have and enjoy!

Oven Roasted Tomatoes
from Our Best Bites 

A bunch of tomatoes, any variety 
Extra Virgin Olive Oil 
Garlic cloves, minced or whole (I left the garlic out)

Preheat oven to 325

Cut the tomatoes in half. If you're using anything larger than a Roma tomato you may want to quarter it.  Place tomatoes in a large bowl. Drizzle with enough olive oil to coat everything and then sprinkle with salt and pepper. Lightly toss together.

Arrange tomatoes in a single layer, skins down, on a cookie sheet lined with foil or parchment paper. If using minced garlic then sprinkle over tomatoes being careful to let most of it drop directly on the tomatoes . If you are using whole cloves just place them right on the pan with the skin on.

Place the pan in the oven and cook for 2 1/2-3 hours, depending on the size of your tomatoes. It took about 2 1/2 hours for my halved San Marzanos. The important thing is to keep an eye on them after about 2 -2 1/2 hours. After 2 1/2 hours you’ll see the juices have mostly dried up and some of the tomatoes will start to get dark around the edges.

Once the tomatoes are roasted let them cool and enjoy right away. Or you can pack them in olive oil and place them in your fridge for a week, although I doubt they'll last that long.


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

If At Once You Don't Succeed...

Me: You want to hear something funny.

Mr. H: What?

Me: I'm thinking of starting another blog.

Mr. H: (rolls eyes)

Me: I know!!! But I just don't feel that the other two blogs were ME.

Mr. H: (chuckles)

So yeah, this is my third attempt at blogging. I'm hoping this is the one that sticks. They say third times a charm!

Stay tuned to see if that's true.