Monday, May 18, 2009

Black Bean Watchamahoosit

I always know it's summer (or close enough) when I start getting a craving for BBW. I'm sorry, but I don't have the perfect name for it, because if I call it Black Bean Salsa, you'll probably limit yourself to thinking it's just a party dip. However, BBW is much more than that! It lasts for days in the fridge, and although you can eat it on chips, you can also eat in a pita for lunch or even serve it over scrambled eggs. Warmed up and mixed with some leftover chicken or turkey, it's delicious in fajitas, too. If you think it needs freshening up, squeeze another lime in or add a fresh avocado. This recipe is very versatile.

First, assemble your ingredients:
1 30-oz can of black beans, drained
1 15 oz can chic peas (garbanzo beans)
1/2 bag of frozen corn, thawed
1/2 (or less) chopped red onion
1 bunch of scallions (green onions)
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro
1 small can chopped green chilies
salt and pepper to taste
2 T whole coriander seeds
2 T whole cumin seeds
1 lemon
1 lime
1 16oz jar of your favorite Picante sauce/salsa
2 avocados (optional, but what fool wouldn't? JK)
soy beans (edamame, also optional, but don't be afraid; they have a very mild flavor, add gorgeous color, and are good for you)

By the way, for some reason, my store only carries this brand of edamame:Just so you know, I'm not all about organic stuff, but I do like me some edamame, so I suck it up and buy organic. I use the whole bag, but you could use 1/2.

First, set the corn and edamame out to thaw. You may also just run a little warm water over them to have a quicker effect. Drain the beans and garbanzo beans, too, but don't rinse them.
While those are thawing, you may chop your red onion...
and the green onion...(I only used the amount pictured and discarded the rest.)
Cilantro has stems, so you'll need to strip the leaves off before chopping...
Throw everything as you go into a large bowl. Here's how it's coming along...nice. Mr.4444 came into the kitchen at this time, and said, "Wow, what is that herb that smells so good?" (It was the cilantro, of course.)
Add the green chilis...
How's that for colorful?
As always, I wash all of my produce with Veggie Wash before preparing it. I just get grossed out by the thought of them being picked by hands that probably don't have access to a public restroom. (I'm just sayin') So, yes, I did wash the lemon and the lime before slicing them in half. I also let them sit in some hot water for a bit before that, so that when I squeezed them, the juice wouldn't stubbornly cling to the insides.
If you have any pent-up anxiety, this is a great opportunity to release it; squeeze the lemon and lime as hard as you can (into a strainer, so the seeds don't end up in the food and break someone's tooth.) Again, you'll get more juice if you warm them up a little first. (Sometimes, I microwave them for about 30 seconds.)
See this little doohickey? It's from Pampered Chef, and if you asked me, "If your house were burning down and you could only take one kitchen utensil, what would it be?" I would choose this thingy.
It's fantastic for taking tops off of strawberries and tomatoes, as well as funky spots off of any fruit or vegetable. In this case, I love it for scooping out the "pith" of the fruit. You can see it there, below, on top of the black beans; it's the meaty part of the fruit (but not the tough, chewy stuff; just the good stuff. The recipe calls for just the lemon pith, but I take it from both. Pour the lemon/lime juice into the bowl...
Add freshly-ground pepper and salt to taste. Then prepare the coriander and cumin. When I got this recipe from my friend, Julie, she said that I needed to invest in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle, because already-ground spices are just a sacrilege. She's right; there is nothing like the wonderful aromas of freshly-ground seasonings, so buy them like this...And yes, this is way more than you need for this recipe, but guess what? They are the primary seasonings needed for this delicious grilled salmon recipe, so quit yer whining; you'll use it up in no time! Use this (mortar and pestle)or this (spice grinder)to grind them up.

Now, contrary to what you might think, this is not sawdust sprinkled over the BBWIt's what it looks like when you grind up all the lovely coriander and cumin over the bowl, taking time to put on your wrist brace first (it's a workout, let me tell you, but so worth it!). Then, add the Pace Picante Sauce. Oops. Just realized I used Pace Chunky Salsa. Guess what? I don't know the difference between the two, and I don't think it matters, because I've made it both ways before and survived.
Here you mix it all up. Don't worry about food mixing together; as my mom says, "If you think that's gross, you should see it when it's in your stomach!"
How's that for beautiful? I usually like to leave the avocado out until just before serving, though I have also put it in right away; it's not going to hurt anything.

BBW can look a little scary to the vegiphobe, so serve it in a pretty dish with a little cilantro garnish. Once you get them to try it, they'll be hooked. And if they're foolish enough to pass, you can smile and take it home, cuz you know that just means more for you!

Interested in the nutritional info for this recipe? Click here.

P.S. BTW, if you have my cookbook, this recipe can be found on page 52.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Beer Dip

An often-requested dip around here is made with Weaselmomma's favorite ingredient: beer. I know she's a Coors fan, but I usually just use whatever random beer I find in the fridge when I make it. This time, I had my choice of three (since we've had company lately, and everyone has different taste, I guess.)

I make this dip whenever Kyle has a gang of kids over, which he did last night. It's SIMPLE to make, has ingredients usually found in most kitchens, and never lasts long.

1 pkg Hidden Valley Ranch dip
2 pkgs cream cheese, softened to room temp
1 cup grated cheese
1/2 cup (1/3 of a can) of beer
pretzels for serving
Now, if you haven't taken the time to soften the cream cheese, just throw it in the microwave to soften it (I usually do 15 seconds per package).

Then, throw everything in your mixer like so:Now Weaselmomma, just because you like beer does not mean that "a little extra" beer will make this recipe even better. It does not; it just makes it soupy and upsets the balance of flavors. Since you have to open a can of beer and only use 1/3 of it, there's plenty extra to suck down to satisfy your cravings; leave the dip recipe alone.

Back to the mixing...Be careful not to turn it to the "Fling" setting right away, or your cupboards will be immediately spackled with whitish, wet muck. Start out slowly, and mix until blended well.Put in a 2-3 cup bowl and serve with pretzels. It's that simple.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Paula Deen's Red Potato Salad with Bacon

My good friend, Dawn, was kind enough to get me a subscription to The Food Network magazine. (Thanks, Dawn!!) This month's issue has a "He-Made, She-Made" potato salad cook off between Paula Deen and Aaron McCargo, Jr, and both recipes looked so good that I decided to make them (though not in the same weekend.) Mother's Day seemed like a great day to try a new recipe. I chose Paula's Red Potato Salad with Bacon to make today, and I'm glad, because it was delicious. Here's the play-by-play:

Before I begin, I have to explain the first photo, which I took when my camera was set on Macro. For the record, I don't know macro from macaroni, so when it turned out terribly, I decided to go to Picnik (my favorite phot0-editing website) and just do something fun with it, so here it is.Ingredients:
6 cups cubed red-skinned potatoes, unpeeled (about 1 and 3/4 lbs)
2-3 strips of bacon
Freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 cup chopped sweet pepper (any color or combination)
1/4 cup minced red onion
2 sliced scallions
1 tablespoons dijon mustard
1 tablespoons mayo (Paula might die, but I used Miracle Whip)
3/4 teaspoon salt x 2

First, clean your potatoes. Again, I love Veggie Wash for this (and they are not paying me to say that!)Place the potatoes in a large pot, and cover them with water.Add 3/4 tsp sea saltand bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook until tender, 8-12 minutes. Drain and cool slightly.

Meanwhile, cook the bacon (or just take it out of the box, like I did. Don't you love precooked bacon?!) After the bacon is cooked and no longer dripping with grease, cut it up.Clean and cut up the rest of the veggies...(BTW, I only used part of these peppers; Mr.4444 grilled up the remaining parts for supper--yummmm.) Isn't that picture gorgeous? I even looks misleadingly like my kitchen sink is immaculate! Believe me (and anyone who has ever been to my house), my kitchen sink is never immaculate.)

Here's another pic, which pretty much sums up the remaining ingredients (besides the potatoes, of course) in a neat little package:In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, mayonnaise, 3/4 tsp of salt, and pepper.Cut up the potatoes and add with other veggies to a large bowl. Pour previous whisked mixture over veggies, and stir to coat. Cover and refrigerate or serve at room temperature.We ate when it was room temperature, and it was terrific; the dijon mustard and red wine vinegar made this a unique potato salad, but one that everyone liked. Now to put it up against Aaron's Classic Potato Salad. (I'll keep you posted!)