Sunday, June 27, 2010

Dressing up a Salad

We love salads of all kinds all year round, but summer produce means salad heaven in our household! We have two favorite vinaigrettes that (in our humble opinions) perfectly accent the fresh leafy greens, sweet berries, juice tomatoes, crunchy cucumbers, etc. that summer brings. They are both a snap to make and much healthier than the store bought versions which undoubtedly contain corn syrup, weird thickening agents, and many other unpronounceable chemicals. I hope you like them as much as we do.

For both dressings you simply combine all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk them together or place them in a jar with a tight fitting lid and shake well.

Balsamic Vinaigrette
¼ Cup Olive Oil
3 Tablespoons of Balsamic Vinegar
1 Tablespoon of Honey (or Agave)
1 teaspoon of Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon each of thyme, oregano and basil (dried)
¼ teaspoon sea salt
A few turns of pepper

This goes really well with diced cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, and fresh basil.

It is also marvelous over leafy greens (I usually get whatever looks the best at the farmer’s market), with thinly sliced apples and raisins or fresh figs and toasted walnuts. Although this is more appropriate for late summer and early fall when apples and figs are in season, we eat it year round because it is Alfred's absolute favorite!

This simple balsamic vinaigrette is also quite good as a dressing for bean salads. I usually toss it with equal amounts of blanched green beans, white and red kidney beans.

Shallot and Poppy Seed Dressing
¼ Cup Olive Oil
3 Tablespoons Apple Cider Vinegar
2 Tablespoons Honey (or Agave)
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon poppy seeds
1 shallot, finely minced
¼ teaspoon sea salt

This dressing pairs perfectly with a salad of sliced strawberries and fresh baby greens (it was a perfect lunch this afternoon).

As the fruit at the farmer’s market changes other berries, sliced fresh peaches or melon can replace the strawberries.

Depending on how much salad you make, all of these options can serve as a meal, a side dish, or a healthy snack. Bon apetite!

As usual, I've also included this recipe as part of several weekly recipe sharing events: Slightly Induglent Tuesday, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesdays and Tuesdays at the Table. Check out all the great recipes other bloggers have contributed!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Wild About Raspberries!

One of my favorite local parks has been overrun with ripe wild black raspberries for the last few weeks. What’s a frugal foodie to do? Pick her heart out, of course! While my dad was visiting we picked a couple of pints. Then last weekend we, the Delshad duo, picked 4 quarts – that’s right a whole gallon! It was an incredibly peaceful experience, smelling the sweet cool morning air and spending time in the shade. The only downside, the next day I discovered I had at least 2 dozen chigger bites (they are finally starting to go away – but I’m still pretty polka-dotted).

I must say the berries were worth the bites!
So far I’ve enjoyed them by the handful, tossed in my breakfast cereal, and atop salads. I’ve also baked up a couple of tasty treats for me sweet husband and put away plenty of berries in the freezer for future use! Last night I made a super easy cake (it is gluten-full not free) for some of my dear friends. I think the recipe could easily be made gluten free by using almond flour, but I haven’t tried it yet. You can also swap out the raspberries with any soft fruit; I’ve also made it with peaches.

Here’s a picture of the last piece. I served it with whipped cream and extra berries macerated in a little sweetener (evaporated cane juice).

Easy Raspberry Almond Cake

1 Cup Flour (all purpose or whole wheat pastry flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon salt
2/3 Cup Sugar (I used evaporate cane juice), plus 1 Tablespoon
2 Eggs
½ Cup oil (I used ¼ cup olive oil, ¼ cup unsweetened applesauce)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
11/2 Cups Raspberries (or other soft fruit)
½ Cup Sliced Almonds

1)Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2)Spray or grease and flour an 8 or 9inch round cake pan (I used a spring form pan for easier removal).

3)Combine flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon and 2/3 cup sugar. In a separate bowl combine eggs, oil, and vanilla. Combine the wet and dry ingredients.

4)Pour the batter into you prepared pan – it will barely cover the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle the berries over the batter, press them in gently. Sprinkle nuts and remaining Tablespoon of sugar over the berries.

5)Bake for 45-55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean.

6)Let cool completely, remove from pan and enjoy!

As usual, I've also included this recipe as part of several weekly recipe sharing events: Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesdays and Tuesdays at the Table. Check out all the great recipes other bloggers have contributed!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Very Versitile Black Bean Stew

You might also call this black bean chili (this recipe was inspired by Deborah Madison's Black Bean Chili). Whatever you call it, there is no doubt it is good stuff! Beans are undoubtedly my favorite source of protein, and black beans are one of my favorite beans. They are incredibly nutritious and affordable - what's not to love! This stew is one of my favorite ways to prepare black beans. It is great on its own with a nice chunk of cornbread, served over brown rice, mixed with some diced roasted sweet potatoes (my favorite - served this way in the picture), or used as a filling for black bean enchiladas or tacos. YUMMY!

Side note: Dried beans take a little while to cook (of course), but they are much cheaper and healthier (no unnecessary sodium or BPA!) than canned. I generally maintain a "whole foods" diet - meaning I eat NOTHING prepackaged, only home cooked. Canned beans are the one "pre-packaged food" I do buy, mainly because I love the convenience of using canned beans for salads. I've been trying to kick my canned beans addition; however, by cooking a bunch of dried each week and using them for various recipes throughout the week. So, if you are a bean lover like me I encourage you to do the same - you can try my black bean mango salad with your extra beans. Black beans and roasted corn are also a delicious combination.

And now for the recipe:
1.5 Cups Dried Black Beans, soaked overnight (Note: I soaked 3 cups, but only used about half for this recipe, I cooked the other half in a separate pot to use in other recipes this week)
2 Bay Leaves
2 Medium Onions, diced
1 Bell Pepper, seeded and diced (I typically include this, but didn't this time because I didn't have any in my fridge!)
3 teaspoons Cumin (preferably cumin seeds that have been toasted and then ground)
2 teaspoons Oregano
1 Tablespoon of Chili Powder (I used a combination of ground ancho and guajillo chili which I bought at a Mexican grocery store)
1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon (may sound weird, but absolutely essential)
1 teaspoon of Sea Salt, plus more to taste as needed
4 Garlic Cloves, diced
2 Medium Roma Tomatoes, diced
1 Tablespoon of Chipotles in Adobo Sauce, plus more to taste if you like
Large handful of Cilantro, chopped

1) Drain black beans, rinse them, place them a large pot, cover with fresh water.
Bring the beans, along with the bay leaves, to a simmer over low heat. (Note: You only want the water to cover the beans by about an inch so you end up with a thick stew, not a soup - you can always add more water later if you need to).

2) Meanwhile - coat a large skillet with a little olive oil and saute the onions and bell pepper until the onions are translucent - add the spices and garlic and saute another 10 minutes over low heat (it will smell heavenly!). Add the tomatoes and chipotle and cook another 10 minutes over low heat.

3) Add the spicy onion/tomato mixture to the pot of beans. Simmer over low heat for 1.5 hours or until the beans are very tender - add a little more water if needed to cook the beans thoroughly, but remember we want a thick stew so don't go crazy!

4) Just before serving stir in the cilantro! Enjoy!

As usual, I've included this recipe as part of several weekly recipe sharing events: Slightly Induglent Tuesday, Tempt my Tummy Tuesday, Tasty Tuesdays and Tuesdays at the Table. Check out all the great recipes other bloggers have contributed!