Monthly Archives: January 2012

Caribbean Salsa

I love cilantro. . . . everything about it!  I love the way it smells and it’s bright fresh flavor!  There’s a market near-by that frequently has piles of cilantro displayed not far from the front doors.  The scent just pulls me in!  I stand in front of it and breathe . . . .  ok, you get the picture!

I’ve been feeling a craving coming on for some time, so when I was at Trader Joe’s yesterday afternoon and spied a package of the fresh herb my mind rushed quickly to my girlfriend Nancy’s Caribbean Salsa!  It’s the perfect recipe for a veggie and bean based dish that’s delightful as both an appetizer or as part of a main entree. 

With Super Bowl Week upon us I thought I’d share – and coincidentally (really) the first time I tried this salsa was tailgating in a K-Mart parking lot before a Green Bay Packers game.  But I promise not to mention the team again!

The salsa’s great with corn chips and awesome as a topper to tacos, it’s also wonderful in a breakfast burrito with scrambled eggs.  Though the original recipe doesn’t call for it, I’m thinking next time I’m stepping out of bounds and adding avocado chunks!  Either way it’s got the just-right-bite going and does great made a day ahead of time!  Colorful too!
Enjoy!

 

Caribbean Salsa
1 15 oz can Black Beans
1 10 oz bag Sweet Corn Kernals (I used Trader Joe’s Organic Sweet Corn)
2 cups Tomatoes, diced (I used a variety of orange, cherry and Campari tomatoes)
1 Red Pepper, diced
1 Orange Pepper, diced (or green as per preference)
2 large (or 4 small) Green Onions, sliced very thin
1/4 cup Fresh Cilantro, chopped
3 Garlic Cloves, finely chopped
Salt & Pepper, to taste
Vinaigrette
2 1/2 Tbsp Fresh Lime Juice
2 Tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 Tbsp Sugar
1 tsp Cumin

1.  Combine the lime juice, red wine vinegar, olive oil, sugar and cumin in a bowl and set aside.  
2.  Drain and rinse the beans and place in a bowl.  Add the corn, tomatoes, peppers, green onions, cilantro and garlic. 
3.  Toss the bean mixture with the vinaigrette and add salt and pepper to taste. 

Recipe Notes:  If you need a little extra heat you can add serrano chiles or a teaspoon of red pepper flakes!

I Love This Sandwich!

Hi Everyone!

Well, looks like it’s the Patriots and the Giants for the Super Bowl!  Big game day yesterday!  I think it was somewhere in the middle of all that Sunday night overtime that I finally came to grips with the fact that the Packers won’t be in it this year.  But that’s ok, I’ve got something incredibly deliciously awesome to share with you! 

First we need to back up a bit.  On December 21st the week before Christmas, my girlfriend Toni made a sandwich for our annual holiday gathering . . . . and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since!  Think BIG flavor – lean meats, basil, red onions, capers . . . . it was making me crazy!  So, I gave her a call last week and she joyfully shared the recipe – which I’m grateful for as this saved me from having to resort to begging!  
But, I would have . . . .

Ok, so what is it that I love about this sandwich so much?  

I love that it’s equally appropriate for a hungry group of sports fans (Yep, definitely Super Bowl worthy) as it is for a girls gathering!  In fact, I made two of these sandwiches this weekend, one for my family and one for my girlfriends. I also love that it’s really quite simple to assemble – but mostly I love how the flavors all come together in just the right satisfying way!  You don’t need a big slice of this sandwich.  A little of it’s big flavor goes a long way!       

So what did my girlfriends have to say?  I wish I could answer that but they never got to try it . . . . I feel so bad for them . . . .but we ended up with this unbelievable amount of snow in a very short time and our gathering got cancelled.       

Check it out!

Lucky for my neighbors Pam and Mike!  We sent the sandwich next door! 

So here’s the recipe and a few photos along the way.  You can make this sandwich as large as you like by adjusting the amount of fillings you add.  To keep sodium in check use low sodium meats.  Also, I used smoked gouda (one of Mick’s favorites) but you can use regular or low fat gouda (available at Trader Joes) as well!     

Best Sandwich Ever
1 Loaf Fresh Italian Bread, remove breading inside
8 oz Cream Cheese (or Light Cream Cheese)
1 Tbsp Yellow Mustard
2 Tbsp Red Onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 – 2 Tbsp Capers, drained (smaller variety)
1/4 cup Fresh Basil Leaves
1/2 pound, Lean Turkey, sliced thin
1/2 pound, Lean Roast Beef, sliced thin 
1/4 – 1/3 pound, Gouda Cheese, sliced thin (or low-fat or smoked)

1.  Wash basil leaves and set aside to dry.
2.  Cream the cream cheese together with yellow mustard and red onions. Keep cream cheese a bit chilled while working with it as this helps create structure in the sandwich.
3.  Slice Italian Bread lengthwise down the side, sub-sandwich style, and remove breading from the inside creating a “space” for the fillings. 

 
4.  Spread the cream cheese filling on both sides of the bread.  Sprinkle the capers onto the bottom side of the Italian Bread (adjust amount according to preference).


5.  Layer the meats and cheese as follows – first the turkey, add the gouda cheese next, and then the roast beef, and top it off with the fresh basil leaves.

  
6.  Place the other half of the sandwich on top of the fillings and wrap tightly with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for a minimum of 5 hours.

 

Makes approximately 10-12 slices   

Let me know if you get a chance to try it!  I know for me this sandwich will almost make up for the lack of green and gold I’ll be seeing come Feb.5th! 
Enjoy!  Heidi

Simple Hummus

Hi Everyone
I hope it was a great weekend (for many of us a 3-day)! 

Mick and I took our time yesterday with just about everything – waking up, homework, even our meals.  We got home Sunday evening after a trip to Springfield so I think we were especially lazy.  Truth is, I think I was still in shock after the Green Bay Packer loss (we caught the end of the game). 
Man, that was painful! 

So you’ll never believe this, but late morning my mind started wandering to food!  Actually, I was pondering how I might get Mick in the kitchen with me to create!  At the time I didn’t think we’d be heading out for anything so I wanted to use ingredients I had on hand.  That’s when I thought about a hummus recipe I had.  We LOVE hummus! 

I checked the recipe.  Spices aside, only 5 ingredients – simple enough!!

As it turns out we met my mom for a late lunch and our afternoon snack quickly turned into a before dinner appetizer.  In keeping with the day, dinner was late too (we’re consistent)! 

This is what we got!

Awesome homemade hummus!

So here’s the recipe and one final thought . . . .

Simple Hummus
1 can (15 ounces) Garbanzo Beans, drained and rinsed
2 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 Tbsp Water
2 tsp Fresh Lemon Juice, plus more to taste
1 Clove Garlic, crushed/minced
2 Tbsp Fresh Parsley, chopped
1/8 tsp Paprika OR pinch Cayenne Pepper
Pinch Salt

1.   Puree the beans, olive oil, water, lemon juice, garlic, salt and spice of your choice in a food processor (or blender).
2.   Place the pureed ingredients in a serving bowl and stir in the parsley. 
3.   Taste, adjust seasonings and serve. 

Recipe Taken From:
Field to Plate Culinary Seminar, Amanda Archibald
Please see http://www.fieldtoplate.com for Amanda’s work

Our Prep Notes:  Mick felt the hummus needed a bit more lemon juice so we added an additional teaspoon – and we opted for the cayenne pepper for added punch!  We also thought the hummus would be nice served a bit chilled.  So, if you’re looking to assemble and serve right away you might consider putting the beans in the refrigerator ahead of time!  You can certainly experiment by adding different herbs like chives or cilantro or perhaps including sun-dried tomatoes or roasted peppers. 

Final Thought . . . . . One way to create an ease with your food preparation is to keep yourself well-stocked!  I always find there are “staples” beyond flour and sugar that support me in my efforts to keep things – ok, yep – fresh and simple!  Here’s a list (though certainly not all-inclusive) of a few of my favorites:

Dairy:
Skim / 1% milk and/or Soymilk
Low-fat Sour Cream
Fresh Parmesan Cheese (grated or whole if you have a grater) – my favorite = Parmesan Reggiano
Non-fat Plain Yogurt

Meat & Poultry (fresh/frozen):
Chicken breasts (boneless/without skin)
Ground Turkey & Lean Ground Beef
Free Range Meats, if you can find them are generally lower in fat  

Freezer:
Frozen Vegetables – edamame, spinach, corn – create your own in the summer!
Frozen Berries –  we try to pick them locally in the summer and fill the freezer!
Fillets of Frozen Fish

Fresh Fruits & Vegetables:
Seasonal fruits & vegetables (right now we’re enjoying ruby red grapefruits and a variety of oranges and tangerines)
Greens – spinach, red-leaf lettuce, kale, arugula (parsley is always nice too)
Lemon
Lime
Avocado
Trader Joe’s Unsweetened Organic Apple Sauce  
Variety of Potatoes – red, baking, Yucon golds and sweet potatoes
Onions
Garlic

Pantry:
Beef & Chicken Broth / Stock (including low sodium varieties)
Diced, Stewed & Whole  Tomatoes, Tomato Sauce / Paste
Small cans of Water-Pack Tuna Fish & Wild Alaskan Salmon
Cans/Bags of Beans – kidney, garbanzo, black, vegetarian re-fried, pinto & cannellini
Olive Oil (extra virgin & regular) 
Expeller Pressed Canola Oil
Balsamic, White, Apple Cider & Red wine Vinegar
Nuts & Nut Butters – almonds, slivered almonds, walnuts, pecans, sunflower seeds
Dried fruits – raisins, cranberries, cherries, apricots, figs & dates

Breads & Grains:
Whole Wheat Pastry Flour, Regular Flour and Wheat Flour
Variety of Grains – barley, oats, steel cut oats, quinoa, bulgur, brown rice, wild rice & wheat berries
Whole Wheat Pasta
Cereal with at least 3-5 grams of fiber per serving!

Miscellaneous Items:
Mustard (try new varieties – Cranberry, Dijon, Honey Dijon)
Soy Sauce, Teriyaki Sauce & Worchester (including low sodium varieties)
Green & Black Olives – add a lot of flavor & healthy monounsaturated fats
Salsa, artichoke hearts, capers & sun-dried tomatoes

I Ate Two Pounds Of Peppers!

Well . . . . . almost two pounds.  Truth is I probably ate about one and three-quarters of a pound while Mick ate the other quarter pound.  The point is, by day three they were gone – and they were amazing!  Equally as good as a bowl of candy (I’m not kidding).  This is what they looked like.

Vegetables can be a challenge, even when you LOVE them!  Many of us didn’t grow up with brussel sprouts and cantaloupe at the center of our plates, and when tomatoes were served they were frequently out of season.  Yuck!  
Many of the people I work with will say to me, “it’s not that I don’t like vegetables Heidi, I just don’t think about them.” 

I know!!  We place meat and potatoes at the center of our plates and perhaps fill in with a few vegetables, almost like an after thought.  But it’s time to let vegetables inspire us to try new flavors and “wow” us into possibility!  Let me share with you how this idea wove itself into my life this past week.   

My neighbor Jaclyn has mentioned her love of roasted cauliflower 3 times over the past few months.  So after the third time (about a week ago) I got to thinking, of all the vegetables I’ve roasted over the years I’ve never roasted cauliflower.  I started looking for a recipe and found one that sounded interesting.  Ahhhh cauliflower with olive oil, lemon juice and parmesan cheese!  It was delicious (the cheese really added a new twist)!  That worked so well that I decided to try a few of my favorites, brussel sprouts and multi-colored sweet peppers, with balsamic vinegar.  Awesome again!  The balsamic vinegar was delightful!      

Here’s how the Roasted Balsamic Vegetables turned out.  The Rosemary Sprig is from my herb garden still growing outdoors! 

Like anything else it’s easy to get stuck steaming the same veggies week after week or packing the same bag of carrots for lunch, but the adventure (and the health benefits) lie in trying something new! 

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend filling our plates half full with fruits and vegetables and encourages a goal of approximately,
2 1/2 cups vegetables and 2 cups fruit every day.  A diet rich in the phytochemicals, vitamins, antioxidants, minerals and fibers that fruits and vegetables provide can do fantastic things for our bodies! 

Studies have linked them to:  

  • Decreasing Risk of Heart Disease & Stroke
  • Helping to Maintain a Healthy Blood Pressure
  • Supporting Weight Loss Goals (by filling us up)
  • Decreasing Risk of Certain Types of Cancers
  • Supporting a Healthy Immune System
  • Decreasing Inflammation (that may influence certain diseases)
  • Reducing Risk of Diverticular Disease
  • Protecting Against Cataracts and Macular Degeneration 
  • Supporting Healthy Bones (by encouraging an alkaline ph in the body)

AND . . . . They taste great!

If you’re looking to make healthier choices with your diet this year, committing to more vegetables is a great place to start!  Think of it as a challenge.  
A  veggie challenge with a goal of 2 1/2 cups of vegetables every day. . . . and if you’re feeling a little stuck check out the new page I’ve added above for additional ideas and inspiration!  
Let me know how it’s going!  I’d love to hear from you!         

Cauliflower with Olive Oil, Lemon Juice and Parmesan Cheese
5 cups cauliflower florets (about 1 medium cauliflower)
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Oilve Oil
1-2 Medium Garlic Cloves Sliced Thin (depending on garlic preference)
2 Tbsp Fresh Lemon Juice  
1 tsp Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp Black Pepper
Grated Parmesan Cheese (I used my favorite, Reggiano)
Chopped Chives  

1.   Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
2.   Place the cauliflower in a 9×13 roasting pan.  Drizzle the olive oil and lemon juice over the cauliflower and season with the garlic, salt and pepper. Toss until evenly coated.
3.   Place the roasting pan in the oven and roast for 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes to keep the cauliflower evenly roasted.
4.   Remove from the oven and sprinkle with Parmesan Cheese (as per preference), and a few chives for garnish.     

Recipe adapted from, www.foodnetwork.com 

Balsamic Roasted Vegetables
4-5 cups vegetables of your choice (I used brussel sprouts, red, yellow & orange peppers)
1/4 tsp Kosher Salt (or a little more as desired)
2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar

1.   Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. 
2.   In a bowl, toss the washed and trimmed vegetables with the olive oil, salt and balsamic vinegar until well coated. 
3.   Transfer the vegetables to a jelly-roll type pan (or cookie sheet with an edge around it) and roast for 12-15 minutes, stirring occasionally.  
Note:   You can always add herbs for extra flavor.  Oregano, thyme and rosemary are great!  

Enjoy!!