Tag Archives: beans

Easy Lentil Chili

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One evening after work last week, Bruce and I had quite the discussion on how we wanted to eat healthier meals in the New Year.  We talked about eating more vegetarian dishes and avoiding white bread, white sugar and most the most damaging thing of all, fast food.  Our conversation was not about making any resolutions, it was all about making some positive lifestyle changes.  I particularly liked that idea for I don’t believe in resolutions.  I know that when I make New Year’s resolutions, you can bet that I will break them within a few short months.

One of the challenges with cooking healthy meals in our home is finding dishes that both Bruce and I will enjoy.  For instance, I love ingredients such as kidney beans, green peas, fresh picked asparagus and mushrooms.  Bruce on the other hand, will not (knowingly) eat those foods.  He considers them taboo.  And trust me…  He has quite the list of “taboo” ingredients.  So, in order to accomplish preparing a meal that I know that Bruce will like, I sometimes have to get really creative and super stealthy.  That sometimes means chopping the forbidden ingredients into smaller pieces, not telling Bruce what he is “really” eating unless he asks and putting the focus on creating fabulous flavor profiles that distracts his attention.  In other words, out of site, out of mind is the key when preparing a dish for Bruce.

While shopping at Trader Joe’s last week I found a package of precooked lentils in the produce section of the store.  Fortunately, after about ten years of marriage, Bruce has finally warmed to the idea of eating lentils.  Unlike Bruce, I have always loved lentils and with our busy lives this precooked ingredient was something that I just had to try.  I figured that the precooked lentils would be delicious in salads or soups for lunch during the work week.  This evening, I opted to put the lentils in a quick chili for dinner.  As a result, I am glad that I did.  Bruce absolutely loved it!  And the cool part about all this was that he did not notice that he just ate a meal that was hearty, and high in fiber and iron.  And, as a final double bonus, it was vegetarian and cholesterol free!

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My Easy Lentil Chili is super simple to make, incredibly flavorful and tastes great with fresh baked cornbread and a leafy green salad on the side.  Garnish my Easy Lentil Chili with some shredded cheddar cheese, a little dollop of light sour cream, a spoonful of salsa and a sprinkling of fresh chopped cilantro.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 – 17 oz. package Trader Joe’s Steamed Lentils (about 2 1/2 cups, cooked)
  • 1 cup onion chopped
  • 2 tsp canola oil
  • 1 – 15 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups vegetable stock (or more if desired)
  • 1/2 cup brewed coffee
  • 2 Tbs flour (whisked with 1/2 cup stock to make a slurry)
  • 2 Tbs extra dark cocoa powder
  • 1 Tbs dark chili powder
  • 1 Tbs brown sugar (or to taste)
  • 2 tsp garlic paste
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp Sriracha sauce (or to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp salt or to taste
  • black pepper to taste
  • Top with shredded cheddar cheese, salsa, sour cream or fresh cilantro (optional)

In a medium sized pot on medium flame, cook onions in canola oil until onions are translucent. Add 1/2 package of lentils, vegetable stock, coffee, flour slurry, extra dark cocoa powder, dark chili powder, brown sugar, garlic paste, cumin, sriracha, thyme, salt and pepper.  Turn down the heat, cook uncovered on low for about 30 – 40 minutes stirring occasionally, taking care not to burn the chili.  Add remaining lentils and cook covered for an additional 15 minutes.  Taste and correct your seasonings.  Ladle into bowls and garnish with cheddar cheese, sour cream, salsa and/or chopped cilantro.  Makes about 4 servings.

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Green Bean Tomato Salad With Dijon Mustard Vinaigrette

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGreen Bean Tomato Salad with Dijon Mustard Vinaigrette

I’ve never seen purple colored “green beans” at the grocery store before and when I saw the seeds for the Trionfo Violetto Beans in one of my seed catalogs earlier this spring, I knew that I had to grow them myself if I wanted to try them.  When it comes to planting vegetables in my little garden every year, I try to grow plants that tend to be uncommon or hard to find at the store.  As for the Trionfo Violetto beans, they certainly fit the bill…

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A big handful of fresh picked Trionfo Violetto Beans.  I absolutely love the dark purple color.  What’s so interesting is that when you slice them, they have a vibrant green center.  While picking my beans one morning, I was startled to see a large purple and green dragonfly sitting on a stem in the middle of the vines.  I’ve seen dragonflies in our backyard around our koi pond but never on the garden side of the house.  This one was big!  Its wingspan was easily 4 inches across.  I did not have my glasses on so I was way closer to the dragonfly than I would have liked.  As soon as I recognized what it was, I pulled my hand slowly away from the beans (taking care not to freak out, scream at the top of my lungs and wake up the neighbors) and ran straight back into the house to grab my camera.

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I was amazed that he was still there in the same spot when I got back! I was fortunate to snap a few photos before he flew away.  He was camouflaged extremely well and was very similar in color to the bean plants.  I’ve been out to the garden several times since and unfortunately I have not seen this beautiful dragonfly again.

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Do you see what I mean about the Trionfo Violetto Beans?  They are really beautiful and very unusual.  What I found is that once you cook the Trionfo Violetto Beans, they turn green just like a regular green bean!

In addition to the gorgeous Trionfo Violetto Beans, I grew some Kentucky Wonder Green Beans.  The Kentucky Wonder variety of bean is similar to the type of green beans you will find at the grocery store.  They are your basic “all purpose” green bean.  You can put them in salads, cook, can, or freeze them.  They are easy to grow and produce an abundance of smooth green pods.  I have to say that for the first time growing pole beans, I was fairly successful with strong plants and a decent sized crop.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGreen Bean Tomato Salad With Dijon Mustard Vinaigrette

My Green Bean Tomato Salad with a Dijon Mustard Vinaigrette can be made with pretty much any variety of green bean.  In this recipe I used the Kentucky Wonder green beans and cherry tomatoes that I grew in my garden.  The Green Bean Tomato Salad With Dijon Mustard Vinaigrette is wonderfully tangy yet slightly sweet.  The bright colored tomatoes make this vibrant green bean salad a stunning side dish. It’s easy to make, fresh and delicious.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 pounds green beans trimmed and cut into 1″ sized pieces
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 3 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 Tbs champagne vinegar
  • 1 Tbs shallot (minced)
  • 2 tsp mirin (Japanese sweet cooking wine)
  • 1 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Begin by boiling a medium sized pot of water with a big pinch of salt.  Add the green beans and cook for about 5 minutes or until tender.  Don’t overcook.  If you do, your beans will look gray and not a pretty bright green.  As soon as the beans are done, immediately place them in a medium sized bowl of ice water.  The ice water stops the cooking process and cools the beans.  Remove ice cubes and drain well.  Meanwhile whisk together in a small bowl, olive oil, champagne vinegar, shallot, mirin, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper.   Taste and correct your seasonings.  In a medium sized bowl lightly toss the beans and tomatoes with the Dijon vinaigrette.  Add to a serving dish and serve chilled.  Makes about 3 servings.

Redbor Kale and Great Northern Bean Soup

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Redbor Kale and Great Northern Bean Soup

On my days off, I love spending my free time in my little garden.  Gardening diverts my attention from my hectic day job into something completely relaxing and calm.  Tending to my plants whether it be watering, weeding or picking bugs off the leaves of my lettuce makes me happy.  I’ve enjoyed gardening for many years and every year and season my garden changes.

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My garden is small but very productive.  Two raised beds, a small patch of dirt and several large pots.  That’s it.  I utilize every bit of precious gardening space that I can.  During the spring months, I grow my cool weather crops.  Cool weather crops include kale, broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, cauliflower, spinach, kohlrabi and radicchio.  In a few weeks, what you see here will be replaced by tomatoes, squash, beans, cucumbers and corn.  I rotate the variety of plants every year and I make sure that I never put the same plants in the same spot every year.

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A bucket of fresh picked Redbor Kale.  I made the decision to harvest all my kale this morning.  I did that because I needed to make room for the tomatoes that I will be planting next weekend. I gave a few bunches of kale away to friends and family and the rest went into the freezer.  I saved one bunch for my Redbor Kale and Great Northern Bean Soup.

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Redbor Kale.  If you are not familiar with kale, you need to know that kale does not form a head like lettuce and that it has a cabbage like texture.  I chose the Redbor variety of kale for my garden this year because I liked the purple color on the leaves and stems.  I was not disappointed.  It has a wonderful flavor too.

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About four feet away from the kale, I planted a small patch of spinach.  2 packets of seed, warm days, plenty of water and a month later I have almost too much spinach.  I need to start sharing the spinach with friends and family too.  What’s worse is that I am starting to think that Bruce is getting tired of having spinach frequently as a side dish for the past couple of weeks. Fresh spinach is delicious and good for you.  Organically grown spinach like mine, is even better.  In a month or so I will be growing zucchini and yellow squash in its place.  Unfortunately, Bruce despises squash.  In the meantime, I hope that he enjoys his spinach.

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My Redbor Kale and Great Northern Bean Soup is a simple recipe that I pulled together for a quick and healthy lunch during the work week.  It’s made with fresh picked kale from my garden, great northern beans, carrots, onion and thyme.  It’s easy to make and tastes delicious.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 small bunch of kale (I used Redbor)
  • 1 can great northern beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 1/2 onion (chopped)
  • 1 carrot (diced)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp garlic paste
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme (use more if you like)
  • 1 quart chicken stock. (use vegetable if you like)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Wash and trim the kale.  Be sure remove the stems.  In a medium sized pan over medium high heat saute the onion and carrots in the olive oil until onions are translucent.  Add the great northern beans, garlic, thyme and chicken stock.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Cook until kale and carrots are tender.  Taste and correct your seasonings and serve.  Makes about 4 servings.

Cranberry Bean Chili Con Carne

Cranberry Bean Chili Con Carne

Can you believe that I started my new year without any resolutions?  Nope, none, nothing, nada…  I have a tough time keeping resolutions.  Every year I say I have one, I am good for a few short months and then my bad habits creep right back up on me.  This year is different.  I decided that this year I am having “New Year’s Expectations”.  Expectations, I know I can do.  Expectations are attainable and having expectations is how I operate.

One of my expectations for 2012 is to be less wasteful in the kitchen.  Instead of buying expensive store bought vegetable and meat stocks, I will make my own.  It saves money and helps keep spoiled vegetables in the vegetable drawer of my refrigerator to a minimum.  I also expect to be more creative with the use of leftovers.  That also saves money and valuable refrigerator space too.

Last night I made a gorgeous prime rib roast for New Year’s Day dinner.  I had a couple of pounds of the roast leftover in the refrigerator this morning.  Living up to my “new” expectations, I decided to make a Cranberry Bean Chili Con Carne.  My Cranberry Bean Chili Con Carne is made with leftover prime rib roast, cranberry beans, homemade beef stock (from the prime rib), onions, garlic, carrots (leftover too!), extra dark cocoa powder  and fragrant spices.  Top your bowl of Cranberry Bean Chili Con Carne with fresh grated cheddar cheese, green onions and red bell pepper.  Makes about 2 quarts of chili or 8 servings.  Enjoy!  Tessa

 Ingredients:

  • 2 cups dried cranberry beans (soaked overnight)
  • 1 pound leftover prime rib or roast beef cubed (fat removed)
  • 1 cup white onion chopped
  • 2 shallots chopped
  • 1 cup carrots chopped
  • 1 – 28 ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups beef stock (0r more if needed)
  • 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 2 Tbls. extra dark cocoa powder
  • 1/4 c. dark chili powder
  • 1 Tbls. ground cumin
  • 1 Tbls. ground coriander
  • 2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 2 tsp. onion powder
  • 2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp. seasoning salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • Garnish with shredded cheddar cheese, sliced green onion and chopped red pepper.

Begin by washing, picking over and soaking the cranberry beans in a bowl of water overnight.  Grab a large pot with a tight fitting lid.  On medium heat saute your onion, shallots and carrots in the olive oil.  Cook until onion is opaque.  Add soaked cranberry beans and the remaining ingredients with the exception of the garnishes. Cook for about 4 hours on very low or until beans are cooked to your liking.  Be sure to keep an eye on it and stir occasionally.  Taste the chili, correct your salt level, add additional stock if needed and ladle into bowls.  Garnish with shredded cheese, sliced green onions red pepper.  Note:  Go ahead and make this in your slow cooker.  About 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low.

Anasazi Bean and Bacon Soup

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Those who know me know that I am a hot lunch person.  If I had a choice between a cold sandwich or a hot bowl of soup, I almost always choose the soup.  The only soup that I would turn down is borscht or the nasty stuff that comes out of a can.  Yick…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I perused the organic section of my favorite supermarket today, I came across these gorgeous Anasazi Beans.  They reminded me of a cross between a great northern bean and a tobiano colored pinto bean.  According to the package, Anasazi Beans were cultivated by the early Anasazi Indians in the cliff dwellings of Colorado.  How cool is that?  What’s even more surprising about the Anasazi Beans is that there is no presoaking required and that they cook faster than regular beans.  We’ll see about that…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Soup is done!  It took about a half hour longer  and about 2 cups more liquid than the package said.  Not to mention they did not retain that gorgeous tobiano color as you see on the uncooked beans. No biggie.  The Anasazi Bean and Bacon Soup tastes awesome and is without a doubt definitely worth the wait.  Enjoy! – Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 pound Anasazi Beans (picked and washed)
  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • 2 carrots peeled and chopped
  • 1 stick of celery chopped
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 5 1/2 cups organic free range chicken stock
  • 4 strips cooked bacon, crumbled
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. coriander
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. garlic paste
  • 1 tsp. dark chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp coarse ground black pepper
  • salt and additional water if needed
  • garnish with parsley, shredded carrot and cojita cheese

Begin by washing and picking over your beans.  Grab your favorite large pot.  Heat canola oil in the pot and add the onion, celery and carrots.  Cook on medium heat until onion is cooked through.  Add the Anasazi beans and remaining ingredients with the exception of salt, water and garnish.  Cook on low for about 1 1/2 hours or until the beans are tender. Taste your soup and add water or salt if necessary.  Ladle up, garnish and serve.  Makes about 4 servings.

 

Indonesian Pickled Beans (Acar Buncis)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of my favorite things to do on the weekend is to hop into my little red car and visit some of the local farms and produce stands.  Often times one of my stops is at Beebe Farms.  I stop by Beebe Farms to buy their fresh locally grown peaches and corn.  This morning, they had a small basket of fresh picked green beans on the counter and I knew exactly what I was going to make with them when I go home.  I was without a doubt going to make some Indonesian Pickled Beans.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was one of the first customers at Beebe Farms this morning.  Normally, the parking lot is full.  I think I may have been a few minutes early because they did not have all their produce out on the shelves for sale yet.  I did see that the corn was harvested just hours before and the peaches were fresh picked.  I look at it this way. If I was not one of their first customers today, somebody else would be in possession of these beautiful beans.  What a score!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Indonesian Pickled Beans are similar to the green bean salads that you would may find at a backyard barbecue or potluck but with a distinctive Asian flavor.  They are super easy to make and makes a perfect summertime side dish.  Makes about 6 cups or 12- 1/2 cup servings.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 pounds green beans
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1/4 c. rice vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic paste
  • 1/2 tsp. sambal oelek (or to taste)
  • garnish with crispy fried onions

Let’s begin by washing and snapping the beans into 1 inch pieces.  In a medium sized pan with a lid bring the water and 1 tsp salt to a boil.  Cook beans covered about 8 minutes or until tender crisp.  Remove from heat, using a slotted spoon add the beans to a bowl of water with some ice to stop the cooking.  Let it cool, drain and remove the ice.  Add your beans to a bowl or plastic container.  Meanwhile whisk together the brown sugar, rice vinegar, salt, garlic paste, and sambal oelek.  Pour over the beans tossing to coat.  Cover the beans and put in the refrigerator for two hours or overnight.  Before serving, toss again, place in a dish and garnish with crispy fried onions.