Baileywick Black Bean Salsa

I haven’t posted a recipe in a long time but this one was too easy and delicious to pass up.  It actually came from a cookbook that my friend Jenny gave me that was put together by parents in the school she teaches in.  (The school is called Baileywick, which is why I call it Baileywick Black Bean Salsa.  I like the alliteration.) 

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It is easy- there’s some chopping involved, but it took me about 15 minutes to put together.

It’s delicious. 

It’s healthy.

What’s not to love?  Make it and serve it with some scoops as a dip, or else use it to accompany tacos as a side dish or topping.   It probably goes great with margaritas or a Corona.  I’ll find out in a few months.  So enjoy and thank Jenny when you’re done for passing this cookbook along to me with this little gem in it.  Oh and while I’m bragging on her, let me just mention she was teacher of the year this year at her school.  Because it’s my blog and I can brag if I want to. 

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Now chop, chill and eat!

Ingredients

  • 1 can black beans, rinsed + drained
  • 1 can white shoepeg corn, drained
  • 1 chopped red pepper
  • 1 chopped red onion
  • fresh cilantro to taste
  • jalapeno, chopped (added to taste)
  • juice of 1 lg lime
  • 2 T minced garlic
  • 1/2 T Adobo brand seasoning*
  • 4 T olive oil

Mix all and chill for 1-2 hours (up to overnight.)

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*I actually didn’t use the Adobo brand seasoning.  I just used salt and pepper.  But I was shopping in Wally world the other day and was in the international aisle and passed right by it – so it does exist and is easy to find!

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And, as a side note…this is the secret best place to buy spices instead of buying them from the baking aisle. 

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They don’t have every spice but they have a lot of the common ones – paprika, garlic, onion, parsley, cumin, chili pepper – and they less than a dollar for each bag.  You get a smaller amount, but that’s okay – does anyone ever use the spices in those jars before they go stale anyways??

So, that’s my hidden tip for today.  You’re welcome.  Now, go eat.

Tomato Soup: I’m Obsessed.

Something fortuitous happened to me this week.  I had been couponing a little too aggressively and as a result, I ended up with 7 cans of crushed or diced tomatoes on my shelf.  I don’t really like stockpiling food, and all these cans of tomatoes were bugging me.  Since I don’t really care for pasta dishes, I wasn’t sure how I was going to use up all the tomatoes.  I went to AllRecipes to do a search by ingredients for crushed tomatoes when I came up on this recipe for Tomato Basil Soup.

It’s no secret I love tomato soup.  But I’ve gotten picky.  I don’t really care for the Campbell’s condensed version (although in a pinch, it will do… especially if there is grilled cheese to dunk in it.)  My craving is best satiated by Panera’s version – slightly creamy, a little hint of basil, and great tomato chunk texture.  This recipe looked like a perfect replica. 

I only made a half batch to see if I liked it, and I made a few tweaks by cutting back some of the butter that seemed extraneous.  It was so good.  I know exactly where the rest of those canned tomatoes are headed. 

Here’s the half-batch recipe (made 4 1 cup servings), with my tweaks.  You can still see the original in the link above:

  • 1 (28 oz) can of crushed tomatoes
  • 8 oz chicken broth
  • 10 basil leaves, minced**
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 3 T butter

**I didn’t have fresh basil on hand but I had minced, frozen basil on hand.  I get it in the freezer section of Harris Teeter.  This is the brand I use.

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How to:

1. Add the can of crushed tomatoes to the chicken broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

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2. Add basil and sugar.  Reduce heat to low and stir in cream and butter.  Stir until butter has melted.

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3. Serve with homemade croutons!  (See below).

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Homemade Croutons

This isn’t really even a recipe… just a quick how to.  Cut up any stale bread into bite sized pieces.  Put in a ziploc bag and add just a drizzle of olive oil.  Add any type of seasoning you want (I like just a pinch of salt and dried basil).  Pour on a cookie sheet and bake at 350 for 10 minutes.  Flip, and bake for another 10 minutes.  They’ll keep in a tupperware or plastic bag for about a week.

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Enjoy!  I apologize in advance to Panera on Penny Rd.  You will probably see a substantial drop in your tomato soup business now.

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(Oh hey, stats!  In case you’re counting.  Per 1 cup serving: 217 cals, 14.5g fat, 628 mg sodium, 6g fiber, 6g protein.  Croutons will depend on how much bread and OO you use.  I used 3 oz bread + 2 T olive oil.  Per serving (4 svgs): 116 cals.) 

Texas Caviar

The first time I came across the entry in her food log – “Texas caviar” – I didn’t think too much of it.  After all, as a Northerner transplanted to the South I’m used to coming across things in my clients’ food logs that I’m not entirely familiar with.  Succotash? Butter beans?  Banana pudding, fried okra, and even barbecue – all culinary creations I didn’t know existed until I crossed the Mason-Dixon Line.

Then I saw it everyday on her log for a week.  “Is she eating caviar EVERY DAY?”  I finally asked and she turned over the recipe.

Turns out the very same recipe is one of my best friend’s “go to” dishes for potlucks as well, only she calls it by the slightly less PC-term “Redneck Caviar.”  Whatever you want to call it, it’s easy, it’s delicious and best of all, it’s healthy.

The fixins:

  • 1 can of black-eyed peas (15 oz)
  • 1 can of black beans (15 oz)
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 jalapenos, chopped
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • salt + pepper
  • 1/2 cup light Italian dressing or Lime dressing

Everything gathered!

Chop the Toms

And the Onions

Give it a stir....

Add dressing, salt + pepper... and chill!

In case you’re not a visual learner:

  1. Chop tomatoes, onions, green onions, jalapenos and green pepper.  Combine.
  2. Add rinsed black-eyed peas and black beans.
  3. Toss lightly.
  4. Add 1/2 cup salad dressing, a pinch of salt and pepper and the minced garlic.
  5. Allow it to chill at least 2 hours, up to overnight, to blend flavors together.

I like this just as “as is” as a side dish and with the beans in it, you could almost have it be a light meal by itself.  You can also use this a dip, which is how it’s mostly common served.  Of course, best served on a patio on a warm summer night with good friends and cold beers!

(When you look up the calorie count for this, you’ll find a range of 20 cals-200 calories per serving.  This depends mainly on two things: how many servings you make out of it and how much dressing you use.  Play around with it to figure out what works for you.  If I’m eating it as a side dish, I get about 20 servings out of my batch at 140 calories, 10 g of protein and 9 g of fiber.)

Enjoy, ya’ll.

Farmer’s Market Sandwich (Again)

I’m kind of obsessed with this sandwich.  I made it for dinner Tuesday night, and then had it again for lunch Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

It’s good, ya’ll.  Even if you’re not a big fan of squash, you might like it this way.  Besides, what else are you going to do with all the extra squash your neighbor keeps giving you?

I made a video how-to of this last year, which I’ll post at the end.  But if you prefer the drool-worthy picture step-by-step, here you go.

You’ll need: squash or zucchini, olive oil or balsamic vinaigrette, pesto, basil and real mozzarella (the kind that comes in a ball). 

1. Preheat oven to 350. 

2. Cut your squash (and/or zucchini) into rounds that about as thick as a quarter. 

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(PS, that’s my cute sister in my kitchen!)

3. Lay the squash coins out flat on a cooking sheet.

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4. Drizzle with olive oil or… even better the balsamic vinegar recipe I gave you in my previous post!  Sprinkle with Mrs. Dash’s, or Italian Seasoning or good ol’ salt n pepper.

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5. Roast the coins in the oven at 350 for 20 minutes.  Check them half way through, and flip ‘em over.

6. Meanwhile, spread about 2 tsp of pesto on a slice of bread.

7. Lay two thin slices of mozzrella (abt 1 oz) on the bread.  Sprinkle a little pepper on, and microwave for 10 seconds just to get it a little melty.  This is about where you should be dying from the delicious aroma of pesto + melted cheese. 

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8. Cover the mozz with basil.  I really don’t believe in too much basil, but use your own discretion. 

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9. Once the squash is cooked, add it as the “meat” of your sandwich.

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10. Devour.  Repeat for the next four days in a row.

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Okay, if that wasn’t good enough for you, you can watch me make it here.  This is a lower-calorie version with a few swaps, but the steps are still the same. 

Appies, Italian Style

A few weeks ago, some friends gathered at our house for an Italian potluck dinner.  The plan was simple: everyone took one part of the menu and came up with an Italian-type dish.  Italian is one of the few cuisines I never cook … but I figured I couldn’t go wrong with some basic appetizers.  It turns out that Italian style appetizers are exactly that: basic.  The best ones are made with ingredients that are fresh, simple and delicious. 

While I’d highly recommend making these in the summer months (when tomatoes and basil will be in season, inexpensive and irresistible), I’ll post them now for your eating pleasure.  Just in case you can’t wait til June to get your hands on some brushetta.

My first appetizer was an antipasto plate.  This was insanely simple: meats, cheeses, and olives.  (I used an aged cheddar, pecorino romano, prosciutto and sopressata.)

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And, of course, when you think Italian appetizers, what do you think of?

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Bruschetta, anyone?

This is also very easy to make.  Prep by turning the oven on to 450 and making sure you have a rack on the very top.

Slice a thin baguette on an angle, about 1/2” thick.

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Brush each piece, using a pastry brush, with olive oil and then rub with garlic clove, before laying oil-side down on a cookie tray.

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Toast for 5-6 minutes, til golden brown.

Meanwhile, chop up tomatoes (plum or roma work best) and basil.  Toss together with balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper to taste. 

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Once the bread comes out of the oven, top it with the tomato mixture. 

Then, eat, eat, eat!

Lastly, I had lots of tomatoes and basil leftover, so I did what any cheese-lovin soul would do…. made Caprese salad!

Again, very straightforward.  Pile up round slices of tomatoes, with a piece of basil, and a round slice of fresh mozzarella.

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Fresh Mozz is a MUST! 

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Once you pile up the stacks, drizzle them with balsamic vinegar and a little salt and pepper.  Although I’m not really a big tomato fan, I just love the way this salad looks.  Isn’t it beautiful?

While these were appetizers, you could certainly make a dinner out of them.   Had my friends not shown up with their goodies shortly after I finished assembling these, I think I might have!

Asparagus Frittata

When I was in high school, I worked in a coffee shop alongside the Erie Canal.  My favorite part of working there was the weekends when we’d whip up these delicious breakfasts including Belgian waffles and the yummiest frittatas.  At the time, I didn’t eat asparagus (what was I thinking?) so I partook in the frittatas every other weekend when they featured broccoli.

Last night I had roasted a bunch of asparagus for dinner, and had a good amount leftover, already cooked.  I had a feeling that soggy asparagus wouldn’t be so delicious on day two and wondered what to do with it.  Suddenly it hit me… Shannon’s Frittata!  (Shannon was the name of the owner of the coffee shop, and appropriately, the name of the shop itself.)  It’s been almost 10 years since I made that frittata and all I could picture was swirling loads of heavy cream into the egg mixture and layering cheese slice upon cheese slice.  No wonder those frittatas were so scrumptious!

I set about trying to make it with a few tweaks (starting with the fact that I didn’t have any heavy cream on hand!)

I whipped up 3 eggs and 2 egg whites, and added about 3/4 cup of skim milk.  Then I added a splash of half-and-half for some creaminess.  I added the already cooked asparagus.  If you were starting from scratch, just sauté them with a little bit of olive oil – this recipe will work with any veggies, and is a great way to use up leftovers.  I poured the combo into a pie pan sprayed with olive oil cooking spray.  To this, I added two slices of Swiss cheese that I tore into little pieces and sprinkled throughout.  A heavy shake of pepper and we were ready to go!

Into the oven at 350 F, the frittata cooked for 40 minutes.  It’s done when the edges get a little bit brown and if you shake the pie tin, the eggs don’t wiggle too much.

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This dish will keep for days in the fridge, and you can just cut out a slice and reheat it in the microwave for about 30 seconds.  I paired it up with a homemade latte for a delicious, filling breakfast!  (Yes, it was homemade even though the cup looks otherwise… I have a habit of rinsing out and refilling my cups two or three times… until the cardboard starts to fall apart.)  Yum!

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Stats from my favorite calorie counter, based on 3 egg + 2 egg whites, 3/4 cup skim milk, 1/4 cup half and half, 1 T olive oil (counted for my roasted asparagus earlier), and 2 oz swiss cheese.  Not sure how much asparagus I used, it was about half of a grocery store “bunch”): 95 calories, 6 g fat (2.5 g sat), 6 g protein.

Roasted Acorn Squash Wedges

My friend Jamie gave me an acorn squash from her neighbor’s garden, and it’s been making a lovely centerpiece on my fall-themed table for quite some time now. I’d googled a few recipes on how to cook it, and there seemed to be a few common themes: butter and brown sugar. I’ve never eaten an acorn squash before, but I figured 171,000 Google hits can’t be wrong… butter and brown sugar it is. I KNOW. Hey, everything in moderation, my dear readers.

Acorn Squash

Acorn Squash

Turn your oven on to 350 F. Start with an acorn squash. Cut in half. This turned out to be very challenging, and thankfully did not result with me going to visit my husband at his place of employment, the ER. “Hi honey… was cooking dinner and… would you care for some squash while you stitch me up?” So, be very careful, slicing up your acorn squash. (Please note, that is not proper knife technique but it is very hard to hold a camera and cutting utensils. I do not recommend trying.)

Slice squash, not fingers.

Slice squash, not fingers.

Then scoop out the inside, as if it were a pumpkin. I briefly considered saving the seeds to roast (and a google search later tells me you could do this), but decided to just focus on the task at hand.

Scoop the goop out.

Scoop the goop out.

Next cut the acorn up into slices, like a melon. Arrange the slices in a baking dish, and drizzle with a little bit of olive oil. Roast in the pre-heated oven for 20 minutes.

Drizzle with olive oil.

Drizzle with olive oil.

While it’s cooking, mash together 2 T butter and 1/4 cup of brown sugar. Try not to eat the concoction while you wait for the squash to roast. When they’re done, mash the paste on to each slice of squash and then stick it back in the oven for another 30 minutes.

Butter.

Butter & Sugar Mash-up

Ready to Roast, Round Two

Ready to Roast, Round Two

After 30 minutes, they should be done. You can stick a fork in one just to make sure they’re squishy. Before serving, scoop up some of the sauce that’s gathered in the pan and drizzle on top, just to really seal the deal.

Drizzle the good stuff on there.

Drizzle the good stuff on there.

This would obviously work as a side dish, but I actually had this as my dinner tonight. I paired it with a slice of Ezekiel bread with some marionberry jam (Thanks, Seattle-dwelling Jen!!), and it was a delicious, if not a tad sweet, dinner. BUT, I’ve been fighting the urge to bust into the Halloween candy I bought today, so this hit the sweet spot cravings I’ve been having and was certainly a lot healthier. Very yummy, and now that I know what to do with acorn squash, I may be lurking around friends’ gardens more often.

Dinner is served!

Dinner is served!

The Stats:
1. Heat oven to 350 F.
2. Half acorn squash, scoop out the insides, cut into slices.
3. Drizzle with 2 T olive oil.
4. Roast for 20 minutes.
5. Mix together 2 T softened butter and 1/4 cup brown sugar.
6. Rub on squash slices when they’re done roasting.
7. Put squash back into oven for 30 minutes, roast again.
8. Drizzle yummy goop from butter/sugar back on to slices, serve.

According to my fave recipe analyzer, if you served 4 from this it’d be about 190 calories per serving. That actually surprises me – I would have thought it was a bit higher, taken into account all the butter and oil. But, youu can certainly find recipes that are a little heavier handed on the butter/sugar combo, and I thought my version had plenty of yummy goodness to drizzle on top. It definitely could be a great side dish for the holidays, or eaten as a main course like I did. Either way: deliciousness awaits you.

Goat Cheese Salad

As I’ve confessed, I like to rip off restaurant favorites and try to healthy them up a bit. One of my favorite meals here in town is a salad with fried goat cheese patties in it. Two places here serve it: 6th & Vine in downtown Winston and Riverburch Lodge. It’s a toss-up as to which one I like better. 6th and Vine might win solely because I usually eat it on their gorgeous back porch, and for better or worse, ambience is half my taste buds!

Anyways, I figured “Fried” + “Cheese” were probably two things I shouldn’t go too crazy with BUT on the other hand, goat cheese is one of the lowest in calories and fats. A few months ago, my Everyday Food magazine featured a recipe on how to make them using panko and it was way easier than I imagined.

I went to work and was so delighted with the results I had to share it. The key is to start with REALLY cold goat cheese, so it slices into nice disks. Then, you just drop each disc into a little bit of egg WHITE. After the egg white bath, they flip over to a bath of either panko crumbs or grind up a slice of WHOLE WHEAT bread.

After that they can go into a pan with just some spray olive oil and abt 1 tsp of oil oil per little disc. They don’t take long to crisp up before you need to flip them. The stats will depend on how much olive oil you use, and how many discs you put on your salad per person. Here’s a quick way to tally it all up.

I put three goat cheese discs on a salad with blueberries, a few chopped almonds, 1 T of olive oil and fresh ground pepper. It was words-fail-me delicious.

Goat Cheese Salad

Goat Cheese Salad

Meal Plan Follow Up: Chef’s Salad and Black Bean Tostadas

Wednesday was supposed to be Chef’s Salad, but I ended up going to a Charity Chicks event last minute with some lovely ladies (skirtini’s for a cause, yes please) and I left Matt to his own devices with salad and sandwich basics. Thursday night, Matt was catching up on some sleep after a long shift at the hospital so we didn’t have a sit down dinner.

But, that’s the reality of meal planning:

Potlucky

A few years ago, my friend Emily brought a salad to our house for a cookout and every since then it has become a staple in our household. I could eat this morning, noon and night – I’m not kidding. And, it’s absurdly simple to make. Emily had a recipe, but after following it the few times, it started becoming a pantry-dump salad.

If you’ve got 4th of July plans and need a healthy but yummy dish to take with you: here’s your dish!

Throw It Together, Mix It Up

Throw It Together, Mix It Up

The general ingredients are beans, corns, tomatoes, onions and jalapenos if you like a little kick. Then the whole thing gets tossed together with 1/4 cup of olive oil or a light Italian dressing. I like olive oil with just a pinch of salt and lots of pepper, along with fresh garlic.

Simple Dressing: OO, Salt, Pepper

Simple Dressing: OO, Salt, Pepper

The last one I made had kidney beans, black beans, corn, onions, tomatoes, and jalapenos. Based on these ingredients (one 15 oz can of each of the beans, 1 cup corn, 1 tomato) and the 1/4 c olive oil, it was 220 calories per serving. (My batch was 16 servings.) And it has 8 g of fiber AND 12 g of protein. We started making this as a side dish, but with those stats, I often eat it for lunch as my main entree!

Ready to Eat!

Ready to Eat!