Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Mediterranean Style Three-Bean Salad

Beans are under appreciated in the American diet.  A budget friendly staple packed with fiber and plant based protein, not to mention a list of vitamins and minerals (Vitamin B6, Potassium, folate, magnesium etc...).  It's recommended we consume 25 mg of fiber each day.  A half-cup of cooked beans delivers a whopping 10 mg!  

So, why don't we eat more beans? Some will say they cause issues.....I say, add beans to your regular diet and the issues will go away. 

This Mediterranean inspired bean salad is tasty, super healthy and is loaded with a variety of beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, red onion, feta cheese, parsley, cilantro and tossed with a light lemon-olive oil vinaigrette.  This makes for a beautiful summer salad or as an entree with crusty bread.




Mediterranean Style Three-Bean Salad
Serves 4-6


Ingredients:
15 oz. red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
15 oz. black beans, rinsed and drained
15 oz. garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
Pint cherry tomatoes, halved
Small red onion, diced
1 English cucumber, seeded and diced
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
3 oz. crumbled feta cheese (generous handful)

For the dressing:
Juice from 1 lemon, more if desired
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
3-4 Tablespoons olive oil (or more to taste)
Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

Directions:
In a large bowl, add beans, cherry tomatoes, red onion, cucumber, parsley, cilantro and feta cheese.

In a small bowl, or a mason jar with a lid.  Add lemon juice, garlic, Dijon mustard, olive oil, salt and fresh ground black pepper. Whisk (or shake) all the ingredients together until well blended.

Add dressing to salad.  Toss. Chill for about an hour.  Serve.


Friday, February 24, 2017

Savoring the Season: A Southern Old-Fashioned Cocktail


Our good friends invited us over for a new cocktail they were enjoying.  Typically, not fan of whiskeys but we were pleasantly surprised.

Old fashioned cocktails have a place in American culture. This cocktail dates back to 1806.   A recipe which included a mix of spirits of any kind, water, sugar cubes and bitters.   Leave it to the American mixologists to grow tired of the "traditional" and start adding a "new" fashioned approach to the "old" fashioned.  No doubt the traditionalists were agape in horror at the idea of adding oranges, cherries and even pineapples to a original four ingredient cocktail.  It would not be American if we did not twist and change the elements to bring about a modern twist on a very traditional cocktail.

On a whim we packed our bags and spent a few days in the beautiful city of Charleston, South Carolina.  With our friends cocktail still fresh on our minds, and an attempt to recreate it on our own prior to leaving town...our awareness was at a peak when we discovered the south takes it old-fashioned cocktail quite seriously.   This porch sipper gains momentum in the south with the first turn of autumn and continues long through the spring.

This version of the old-fashioned cocktail was discovered while on a walking food tour of old Charleston and belongs to the Cocktail Club Lounge located in the historic district and dedicated to the "art of the craft cocktail."

Enjoy the warm, sweet southern feel of a modern Old-Fashioned cocktail.




Southern Old-Fashioned Cocktail
Serves 1
Recipe from Cocktail Club (Charleston)


Ingredients:
2 brandied cherries
1/2 orange slice
3/4 oz simple syrup
3 oz. rye whiskey
Angostura or Peychaud bitters
soda water
lemon peel


Directions:
1.  Muddle cherries, orange and simple syrup in a tall glass, then fill with ice.

2.  Add rye whiskey and stir with a spoon.

3.  Add several dash of bitters, to taste, and stir.

4.   Pour into double old-fashioned glass, and top with a splash of soda water.

5.  Squeeze and twist the lemon over the cocktail, and run along the rim of the glass.

Enjoy!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Savoring the Season: Moroccan Chicken and Vegetable Soup with Chickpea Croutons


This morning I woke-up to a chill in the air.  The bone chill jumped started my winter weekend with an outrageously comforting healthy winter soup.  With heaps of seasonal vegetables, and rich sources of antioxidant spices like turmeric, cumin, ginger and cinnamon, provided incredible flavor and reduced the need to add additional fat or salt.

Who says soup toppings have to be boring when you can enjoy fiber rich chick peas tossed in warm spices and slow roasted.  Save the extra!  They are perfect for enjoying as a healthy snack.

This soup is easily doubled and tripled. Can serve a crowd or batch frozen to enjoy another day.



Moroccan Chicken and Vegetable Soup with Chickpea Croutons
Serves 4-6
Recipe from Clean Eating


Ingredients:

Chickpea Croutons
1-15 oz. can cooked chick peas, drained and rinsed, patted dry
1-1/2 tablespoons coconut oil
Pinch sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch ground ginger

Soup
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 stalks celery, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 yellow onion, diced
1-1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric 
3/4 teaspoon each ground ginger and cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch ground black pepper
1-18 oz. unsalted diced tomatoes (with juices)
1 teaspoon sea salt + additional to taste
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced (about 1 lb.)
6 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth, or as needed
2 cups diced or shredded cooked chicken
1/4 cup each chopped fresh cilantro and flat leaf parsley
3 cups lightly packed fresh spinach leaves
1 lemon, cut into wedges

Directions:
1.  Prepare chick peas:  Preheat oven to 400 F.  Place chickpeas on a parchment-lined baking sheet; remove any loose skins.  Roast for 20 minutes.  Add 1-1/2 tablespoons oil and a pinch of salt; toss.  Return to oven; roast for 15 to 20 minutes more, until golden brown.

2.  Turn oven off.  Toss chickpeas with 1/4 teaspoon cumin, 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon and pinch ginger.  Return to oven with door closed and heat off for 1 hour, or until crunchy.  Set aside to cool.

3.  Meanwhile, prepare soup:  In a medium stockpot on medium, heat 2 tablespoons oil.  Add celery, carrots and onion.  Cook until tender, about 6 minutes.  Add turmeric, 3/4 teaspoon each ginger and cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon cumin and black pepper and cook for 1 minute, stirring.  Add tomatoes and 1 teaspoon salt.  Cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes.

4.  Add potatoes and broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered for 20 to 25 minutes, until potato is tender.

5.  Add chicken, cilantro and parsley and heat through, 2 to 3 minutes.  Add additional broth to thin out as desired; season with additional salt as needed.  Stir in spinach.  Top servings with chickpeas and serve with lemon wedges.




Monday, January 9, 2017

Fresh Buttermilk Dressing with Herbs

Never underestimate the power of a dressing to transform the most simplistic of salads into something memorable.  I have been unwavering with my family and friends to throw away bottled salad dressings.  Take a few minutes and make something real.  So, if you are willing to step-out and make a great salad dressing, here is a recipe for you.  Takes only a few minutes and you will never look back.

This dressing serves beautifully with a simple wedge salad,  blue cheese and crumbled bacon.  Finish it off with a few good cracks of black pepper and only good things will happen. This dressing also makes for a beautiful dip to serve with fresh cut vegetables.



Fresh Buttermilk Dressing with Herbs
Makes 2 cups
Recipe from My Recipes



Ingredients:
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons minced shallot
1 small minced garlic clove
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
2 teaspoons finely chopped chives
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon whole grain dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce

Directions:
Combine all ingredients in a 1-quart glass jar with a tight fitting lid.  Shake vigorously until well combined.  Chill for 30 minutes.  Refrigerate in jar for up to a week.

Enjoy!



Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Scenes from my pantry: Italian Bean Ramen

My youngest son departed for the college this year.  His exodus left us with an empty nest and ramen noodles.   A case of ramen noodles tucked into the trunk of his car now seems like overkill, and we are left with at least half of case of chicken flavored ramen noodles.  This may be destiny as we experience the waves of college expenses.  

Who knew the internet was filled with recipe ideas using packages of ramen noodles (Of course, minus the flavor packet).  I came across this very easy recipe with a twist on fast minestrone soup which is perfect for a weeknight meal or a work lunch box.  

This is proof you can create a healthy and satisfying meal from a package of ramen noodles.



Italian Bean Ramen
Serves 4
Recipe from allrecipes

Ingredients:
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
3/4 teaspoon salt
5 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1-1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh or 1-1/12 teaspoons dried rosemary
3 medium carrots, sliced
2 large celery stalks, diced
1 medium boiling potato, died
4 cups water
1 (15.5 ounce) can cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 (3-ounce) packages ramen noodles, coarsely broken in package (flavor packet discarded)
1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
6 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:
1.  Heat oil in a large, heavy pot over medium heat.  Cook onion with salt, covered, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 10 minutes.  Add garlic and rosemary and cook, stirring, 1 minute.  Add carrots, celery, potato, and water and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until carrots are tender, about 15 minutes.

2.  Puree 1/2 cup of beans with 1 cup of soup broth in a blender.  Add to soup along with remaining cup of beans and diced tomatoes and bring to a boil.  Add ramen stirring occasionally, until just tender about 3 minutes.  Stir in parsley.

3.  Sprinkle 1 tablespoon Parmesan over each serving of soup.

Enjoy!

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Savoring the Season: Cranberry Lemon Muffins


The holiday season brings an abundance of Meyer lemons from my backyard tree and fresh leftover cranberries from Thanksgiving's relish that adorns the table every year.  Cranberries and lemons are a natural flavor pairing and each year, I find a way to combine them.

This year, the simplicity of muffins bring a burst of lemons and cranberries in every bite to leisurely enjoy at breakfast or anytime of the day.




Cranberry Lemon Muffins
Makes 12 muffins
Adapted from Everyday dishes



Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Zest of one lemon
2 cups fresh cranberries

Directions:
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a muffin tin with liners. Set aside.

2.  Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl.  Add eggs, milk, vanilla, butter and lemon juice until combined.  

3.  Fold in lemon zest and cranberries until well distributed in batter. Scoop batter into muffin liners until 3/4 full.

4.  Bake 20-25 minutes until toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Remove muffins and allow to cool.

 Enjoy!



Monday, December 5, 2016

Festive Fizz Cocktail


It's the holidays! A wonderful and most Booziest time of year. And to make your spirits brighter here is a festive fun cocktail you can whip up with just a few simple ingredients and a couple of really hard shakes.



Festive Fizz Cocktail
Serves 2
Recipe from all recipes


Ingredients:

Holiday Simple Syrup

1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cinnamon stick
1 (3-inch) rosemary sprig

For Cocktail

1 egg white (If you are concerned about consuming raw egg use 2 tablespoons pasteurized liquid egg whites, such as Egg Beaters).

1/4 cup white rum
1-1/2 tablespoons Holiday Simple Syrup
6 to 8 ounces sparkling rose wine

Directions:

Make Syrup:

1.  Stir together sugar and water in a small saucepan.  Bring to a simmer over low heat.  Remove from heat and add cinnamon and rosemary.  Cover and steep 1 hour.
Note: This makes more syrup than needed: use leftovers in iced tea or another cocktail.  Leftover syrup will keep chilled in an airtight container up to 1 month.

2.  Discard cinnamon and rosemary.  Spoon 1-1/2 tablespoons syrup into a small bowl and refrigerate until cold, about 10 minutes.

Make Cocktail:

3.  Put egg white, rum, and chilled syrup in a shaker.  Cover and shake hard 15 seconds.  Add ice to shaker and shake hard until chilled and frothy, 30 to 45 seconds.

4.  Strain into 2 coupe glasses.  Top each with 3 to 4 ounces wine.  Garnish with a pinch of ground cinnamon and fresh rosemary.  Serve immediately.