Archive for the ‘Rice, Grains, and Beans’ Category

A Time for Everything

Sunday, June 22nd, 2014

When I was a kid, I was so obsessed with ketchup.  It went on/in everything.  From mac’n’cheese to the more conventional french fry, I was obsessed.  And then, with no real warning, our sordid love affair was over.  Ketchup was disgusting, and I didn’t want it on my hamburger, let alone my mac’n’cheese.  Everything was barbecue, those days.  And really, barbecue is an ideal dipping sauce: spicy, sweet, with a little tanginess thrown in for good measure.

And then Joel and I went to the Old Salt Restaurant in Beaufort, NC.  First, let me begin by saying that they have a fantastic gluten free menu and a staff that’s actually educated on it.  Second, they have these sea salt brined fries…

I recognize the fact that in creating a food blog, I’m signing on to be able to write about food.  But sometimes… the texture and the flavor are just absolutely so amazing, that you don’t even have words for them.  And to be honest, I’ve been chasing that sea salt brined high ever since.

Five Guys fries are not a bad stand in when I’m back in Durham.  They’ve got the flavor just right, but the texture isn’t quite there.

But the thing is, the fries weren’t even it.  They serve them with their own homemade ketchup that is unbelievable.  I just… words…. not there…

And ever since, I’m back on the ketchup wagon.  I knew I was going to have the house to myself on Friday night with a new season of Pretty Little Liars on Netflix (I recognize that I should be watching Orange is the New Black, but that’s a together show while Joel doesn’t really care for PLL).  I was out running errands, and I thought some fries with some sort of fancy ketchup would exactly do the trick.

Balsamic Ketchup

Oh man, did they ever!  Heinz has this ketchup with balsamic vinegar.  The fries were everything that prepackaged frozen fries are, but this ketchup is a game changer.

When I told Joel about it after, he wanted in on that mess.  So we manufactured an excuse to use it again: corndog muffins with tater tots (a preference of his I’ll never understand).

Corndog Muffin

Corndog muffins were a pinterest find from forever ago.  They’re the easiest way to satisfy a corndog craving, which, if you’re anything like me, come fairly regularly.  The recipe is from Iowa Girl Eats, and while I like the concept, her method simply doesn’t work for me.  A) I don’t have a mini muffin tin.  B) I have found the best gluten free cornbread mix in the whole wide world, and I really don’t see any reason to mess with that.  C) I also think we can do a smidgen better than regular ol’ hot dogs.

So let’s simplify this a bit.

Corndog Muffins

  • Prepared cornbread batter*
  • Kielbasa sausage, cut into 12 equal pieces

Pour batter into muffin tins as the recipe directs (do not overfill).  Insert a sausage piece into the middle of each filled muffin tin.  If there is batter leftover, I like to pour it into a small pan and bake plain to have with butter and honey for dessert.

* My personal favorite of the gluten free varieties is Pamela’s.  My homemade cornbread isn’t that good.  I figure if I’m having corndogs for dinner, I might as well go whole hog and treat myself with my favorite cornbread (see what I did there?).

P.S.  The combo with the ketchup.  Absolutely divine.

Ramona the Pest

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

When Joel and I first started dating, he was in the process of selling his condo in Carrboro.  When he finally did sell it a year later (this was back when the market was in pretty rough shape), he invited me along on his house hunt in Durham.  The house that he finally did end up buying has my dream kitchen in it (in a 50s retro, funk counter peninsula kinda way), a fenced in back yard, and is about a block away from a dog park.  We’re very fortunate to have a great neighborhood for walking, including a pretty rad trail.  Less than a year after Joel bought this house and quite a bit before I would move in, I was hounding (pun totes intended) Joel to get a dog.  It seemed a crime to have such an ideal house/neighborhood for a dog and not to have one.

… and then we met Ramona.  I was teaching workshops out by the coast that summer, and some of the interns and I were discussing the different dogs they had.  And then this lady who volunteered at this afterschool program said, “Are any of you looking to adopt a dog?  Because we have some dogs that really need a good home?”  And when I told Joel they had a bunch of black lab/golden retriever puppies that were going to the pound within the week if they didn’t find puppies, he was just as much into it as I was.


Ramona’s a tough one to photograph because she’s ALWAYS moving.  I don’t know what we were really expecting with a name like Ramona.  But as much of a pest as she can be at times, I absolutely adore her.

… so when I woke up at 1 this morning because I had a nightmare where she died of this really awful disease, I wasn’t able to go back to sleep.  I had to teach today on little more than 2 hours of sleep.  Obviously not ideal.  So when I was staring at my box of chex this morning, I knew that just wasn’t going to cut it.  I considered toast with peanut butter and banana.  Not a bad option, but I really needed chocolate.

I went searching for this recipe.  And it rocked my world.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Quinoa

Remember those no bake chocolate peanut butter oatmeal cookies you had at VBS every summer?  This is a relatively guilt-free version of that.  It’s so rich and decadent, but the ingredient list beats out your average box of cereal.  Check it out!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Breakfast Quinoa

adapted from The Everything Vegan Cookbook

  • 1/2 c. quinoa
  • 1 1/2 c. milk
  • 2 T. peanut butter
  • 1 1/2 T. cocoa
  • 1 1/2 T. agave syrup (or your sweetener of choice)

Cook the quinoa and milk over medium-low until the quinoa is cooked, and the milk is almost entirely absorbed.  Remove from heat.  While quinoa is still hot, stir in the peanut butter, cocoa, and sweetener.  Top with bananas or eat plain.  Serves 2.

Quinoa Granola

Monday, April 28th, 2014

I started a chore chart this past week.  It tells me what to do each morning and each evening.  It tells me when to do what laundry and when to clean out the fridge.  I started the chore chart the week that I left town on Friday.  I started it on the week that I had multiple evenings where I had to stay super late at school.  I started it on the week when I had to stay home from work sick one day.  I started it the week our dryer stopped working.  I’m behind in the first week.  In truth, that’s often how I roll.

Granola with Bananas

But this granola makes me feel like I’m doing something in my life right.  It makes me feel like I’ve got it all together.  I don’t.  But I do love feeling like I do.  Quinoa gives me all the things I need to get through to my 1:20 lunch time without being a total grouch.  The agave adds sweetness without being overpowering.

So get your life together.  Or pretend.  But eat this granola while you do.  Add bananas, dried cranberries, or yogurt.  It’s empowering.

Granola with Cranberries

Quinoa Granola
Adapted from Iowa Girl Eats

  • 2 cups old fashioned oats (gluten free, if that matters to you)
  • 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 2 T. flaxseed
  • 1/2 T. cinnamon
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1/2 cup agave syrup
  • 2 T. coconut oil, melted

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Prep a baking sheet by lightly greasing or covering with parchment paper.  Mix the dry ingredients.  Stir in agave and coconut oil.  Spread on baking sheet.  Bake for around 15 minutes or until just starting to brown.  Be careful not to overcook!  Let cool completely and store in an airtight container,

Beef and Bean Tamale Pie

Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

I got this slow cooker cookbook at a yardsale a while back, and now I’m ready to start trying out the recipes.  Winter is the perfect time for crockpot recipes.

The first recipe I tried out was “Beef and Bean Tamale Pie.” Basically, it’s chili with cornbread on top. You cook the whole thing in the crockpot, and the chili juices soak up into the bread. It turned out great!

Beef and Bean Tamale Pie

Beef and Bean Tamale Pie

I changed the recipe around a bit. First of all, they called for cornbread mix, but I made my bread from scratch. Also, I wanted more fresh ingredients than they called for, so I added a pepper and some tomatoes. Also, the recipe was originally for a 3 1/2 to 4 quart cooker. Mine is bigger, so I increased some ingredients. So here goes:

Beef and Bean Tamale Pie

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 15-oz cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 10-oz can enchilada sauce (I used a “tomato and chiles” sauce)
  • 1 15-oz can diced tomatoes, juice included
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped

In large skillet, cook ground beef and onion over medium heat until beef is thoroughly cooked. Drain and place in slow cooker. Stir in beans, enchilada sauce, tomatoes, and bell pepper.

  • 1 1/2 c cornmeal
  • 1/2 c flour (gluten-free folks can probably substitute cornmeal)
  • 1 t sugar
  • 2 t baking powder
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/2 t baking soda
  • 1/4 c butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 c buttermilk (or milk with vinegar)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 c cheddar cheese
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped (include the seeds if you want it more spicy)

Mix all ingredients except cheese and jalapeno together, beat vigorously for 30 seconds. Stir in cheese and pepper. Pour into slow cooker over top of beef mixture.

Cook on low setting for 5-6 hours, or until bread is done. Cornbread is done when you can insert a toothpick and it comes out clean. Serve topped with sour cream and chopped green onions.

Salt: my worst frenemy

Friday, December 10th, 2010

Yes, I did just use the word “frenemy”.

Photo by Nathan Clendenin

Photo by Nathan Clendenin

I never really think of salt as being part of a recipe.  It’s in there, sure, and I take it pretty seriously in baking.  But I can’t remember the last time I actually measured salt into a recipe, whether baked goods or mashed potatoes.  You just kinda dump some in, right?  That’s looks like a teaspoon, right?  Right?!

And sodium freaks me out.  There’s so much of it.  Everywhere.  And it’s not good for you.  So I buy low sodium anything they have at the local grocery.  I drain and rinse my canned beans because so much of the sodium is in those tasty juices.  I often under-season my soups, and if I don’t, I feel like I’m going to die from some sort of sodium overdose.  Sodium is scary stuff, and salt… well, we’re not exactly the friendliest.

But I made this chili the other night.  It’s adapted from Jennifer’s adaptation of two other recipes, so I’m pretty sure the original recipe is completely unrecognizable now. It went like this:

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1/2 onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 red pepper
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chili pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1 Tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 cans kidney beans
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes (I used “petite” so they were smaller)
  • 1 can hominy (you could use corn, too)
  • 1 bottle of a full-bodied beer (Jennifer uses a stout, but that’s a bit too much for me to ever have around the house)
  • 1/2-1 cup of water (to desired consistency)

And I browned the meet with the onion, garlic, and pepper.  I added the spices, and then the cans of stuff.  Lastly, the beer and the water.  And I let it simmer for awhile.

And then I tasted it.  And I was not happy.  It needed more.  A lot more.  So I started thinking through which of these spices and how much to add.  The chipotle could be good.  And chili powder would certainly help.  And you know how much I love cumin.  And I was about to start throwing in more spices when I saw a note at the bottom of the sheet of paper Jennifer had given me.  Salt.  She added 2 tablespoons.  I opted for one.

But it was a big step for me.  I think I often add more spices, when a little salt would be more appropriate.  And boy oh boy, did the chili taste better for it.  I crumbled cornbread into it.  Topped with cheese.  Amazing!  Try some.  For reals.

Photo by Nathan Clendenin

Photo by Nathan Clendenin

Also, look at what Rebecca did to my cornbread:

Photo by Nathan Clendenin

Photo by Nathan Clendenin

It was amusing at the time.  I’m pretty sure it still is.