Tag Archives: rogue valley food blogger

Christmas Lima Bean and Chicken Soup

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I love to make homemade soup during the cold winter months here in Southern Oregon. Several weeks ago I received a bag of dried Christmas Lima Beans as a gift from my uncle and aunt.  I’ve never seen or heard of Christmas Lima Beans before, so naturally, I was really excited to try them.  Christmas Lima Beans are an heirloom variety of Lima Beans that have a lovely white and rust speckled color.  I was surprised to see that they are larger than the traditional white Lima beans that I know and love.  They hold their shape nicely and they darken in color slightly when cooked.

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I had no idea how uncommon these big beautiful beans were. I’ve never seen this variety of legume locally in Southern Oregon and after doing some research, I found that I can purchase them online from a grower in the Southern California area. The fact that they are a heirloom variety and non GMO make them complete winners in my book.  One day, when Bruce and I have adequate garden space, I will be planting a few long rows of these amazingly delicious beans. 

My Christmas Lima Bean and Chicken Soup is really easy to make.  It’s hearty, healthy and most of all delicious!  Feel free to substitute the common white Lima beans if you don’t have access to the Christmas Lima beans. Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups Christmas Lima Beans (soaked in water overnight, picked over and rinsed well)
  • 2 cups chopped leeks
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1/2 pound cooked chopped chicken (I used boneless skinless chicken thighs)
  • 1 1/2 qt chicken stock (or more as desired)
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 – 2 tsp garlic paste
  • salt and pepper to taste

Place a heavy bottomed pot on medium high heat add leeks, onion, celery and  carrots.  Cook until onions are opaque, taking care not to burn.  Turn down to medium low heat, add the Christmas Lima Beans, 1 1/2 quarts of chicken stock, thyme, coriander, garlic paste and pepper. Cover and cook with a gentle simmer for a about an hour.  Add cooked chicken and salt to taste towards the end of the cooking process.  Cook until beans are tender.  Taste and correct your seasonings. Makes about 8 servings.

Indonesian Grilled Chicken

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If you are looking for a simple to make and yet an exotic tasting way to prepare chicken, then you are in for a real treat.  Indonesian grilled chicken is also called Ayam panggang or ayam bakar.  There are so many versions of it, ranging from sticky and sweet, to hot and spicy.  My version of Indonesian Grilled Chicken tends to be on the sweet side, for my chicken is marinated in sweet Indonesian soy sauce, ginger, garlic, coriander, turmeric and white pepper. It’s similar to my chicken satay recipe but without all the fuss of chopping and threading the meat onto bamboo skewers.  It’s super easy to make and tastes fantastic!  Serve with a scoop or two of steamed white rice, sliced cucumber and for those who love fiery food, add a teaspoon or two of sambal oelek in the marinade or serve it on the side.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1/8 cup Kecap Manis (Indonesian Sweet Soy Sauce)
  • 2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 – 2 tsps. ground turmeric
  • 1 – 2 tsps. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. or one clove minced garlic
  • 1/8 tsp. white pepper (or to taste)
  • 1 Tbsp. water (optional, to thin marinade)
  • 2 tsp. sambal oelek (optional)

Add all of the ingredients to a covered container and refrigerate the chicken mixture at least four hours or overnight.  Toss the chicken on a medium hot barbecue grill and discard the marinade.  Be watchful of the chicken, turning occasionally, being careful not to burn. Cook until the juices run clear or the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 170 degrees Fahrenheit. Makes 4 servings.

Blood Orange Vinaigrette

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I just have to tell you that I have a new favorite fruit.  It’s called a Blood Orange. The name sounds a bit gory but trust me, this amazing citrus fruit is far from it… Just close your eyes and get past the name.  Blood Oranges can be a bit smaller in size than a regular orange and bigger than a tangerine.  When sliced, they have a gorgeous orange to bright crimson center and they have an outer skin that can be somewhat difficult to peel.  Blood Oranges are sweet, juicy and perfect for making a simple Blood Orange Vinaigrette.

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What beautiful fruit!  As you can see, Blood Oranges are aptly named.  Be mindful when handling the oranges, they can stain your clothes and cutting boards.

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Making the Blood Orange Vinaigrette is easy.  Add all the ingredients to a glass jar, tighten the lid and then give it a good shake to blend all the flavors.  Drizzle the Blood Orange Vinaigrette over a plate of fresh greens and Blood Orange segments for a wonderful Blood Orange Salad. Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup blood orange juice
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbs red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbs brown sugar
  • 1 Tbs shallots (finely minced)
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp blood orange zest
  • 3/4 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp fresh cracked pepper (or to taste)

Place all ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid.  Shake well to combine all ingredients. Taste and correct your seasonings.  Store in the refrigerator tightly covered for up to 4 days.  Makes about a cup.

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Israeli Couscous Salad with Roasted Tomatoes and Mint

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Spring is about two months early here in Southern Oregon.  The weather is starting to warm up, the daffodils and crocuses are blooming, and the deciduous trees are already starting to bud out. I love warm weather but when it comes too early in the year, it comes with a large cost. The lack of precipitation in the form of rain and the lack of a snow pack in the surrounding mountains means that we are in store for another very dry year here in the Rogue Valley.

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With the seemingly early spring, many of my perennial herbs in my garden are ready to pick. What really caught my eye is that my mint has already poked through the soil and is about 6 to 8 inches tall. Mint is one of my favorite herbs and one of the easiest to grow.  I just love the aroma, taste and versatility of freshly picked mint.  From my own personal experience, if you plant just one little mint plant, it will be more than happy to try to take over your entire yard. That’s why when I grow mint, I plant it in its very own pot where it is safely contained and unable to grow freely where ever it chooses.  Once mint is established in your garden, it’s difficult to eradicate without the use of herbicides.  And those who know me, know full well that I don’t use herbicides in my garden. Ever…

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I currently have 4 varieties of mint growing in my yard.  Peppermint, Lemon Balm, Chocolate Mint and Spearmint.  I’m planning to add Apple Mint and Pineapple Mint to my little mint collection in the near future.

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Fresh snipped spearmint and Italian flat leaf parsley from my garden was used in my Israeli Couscous Salad with Roasted Tomatoes and Mint. For those who are unfamiliar with Israeli couscous, Israeli Couscous is a small semolina pasta also known as Pearl Couscous, Ptitim or Jerusalem Couscous. It’s mild in flavor and takes about 10 minutes to prepare. The little ball shape of Israeli Couscous makes it perfect for all sorts of soups, salads, main or side dishes. The next time you see Israeli couscous at your local grocery store or online, be sure to buy some.  It’s a quick cooking and very adaptable ingredient to have on hand in your kitchen pantry!  Enjoy!  Tessa

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Israeli couscous
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup Roasted Cherry Tomato Vinaigrette (see recipe below)
  • 1/2 cup roasted cherry tomatoes (see instructions below)
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese (crumbled)
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint (chopped)
  • 1/4 cup fresh Italian flat leaf parsley (chopped)
  • 1/4 cup kalamata olives (chopped)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Begin by heating the olive oil in a 2 quart pan over medium high heat.  Add Israeli Couscous to the pan and stir constantly until lightly browned, about 4 1/2 minutes. Reduce heat and slowly add water.  Cook covered until water is absorbed, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.  Add remaining ingredients, toss lightly, then taste and correct your seasonings.  Add the mixture to a serving bowl. Serve at room temperature or chilled.  Makes 8 – 1/2 cup servings.

Roasted Cherry Tomatoes:  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  On a baking pan add 1 pint cherry tomatoes.  Toss lightly with 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt. Bake for 10 minutes or until the tomatoes collapse.  Remove from oven and let cool. Makes little over a cup. Use immediately or store covered in the refrigerator for a few days.

Roasted Cherry Tomato Vinaigrette: In a blender add the following ingredients and blend until smooth.  Makes about 1 cup.

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup roasted cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tsp garlic paste
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste

Use immediately or keep refrigerated in a tightly covered container for a few days.

Frank’s RedHot Sunflower Seeds

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If you ever peeked into my refrigerator, chances are that I have a big bottle of Frank’s RedHot Sauce stowed away on the refrigerator door.  Actually, I have a whole door shelf dedicated to spicy hot sauce mixtures and blends.  I love hot sauce.  I love spicy food.  Bruce thinks that I am crazy because I love that lingering burn from hot peppers.  Little does he know, I’m perfectly fine…

My fondness for fiery food began when I was about 10 years old.  I did not want to eat the bland and boring dishes that the other kids in my family were eating, I wanted what the adults were putting on their plates.  Things have not changed.  Now when someone asks me how hot I want my food, my typical response is “make me cry”.

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The other day while shopping at a wholesale food/restaurant supply store, I stumbled across a container of Frank’s RedHot Seasoning blend in the spice aisle.  I’ve never seen it in a regular grocery store before so I think it’s something that is meant to be sold to restaurants and commercial food establishments.  Frank’s RedHot Sauce is a delicious blend of an aged variety of red cayenne peppers, vinegar and garlic.  I use Frank’s RedHot Sauce in and on so many dishes that I prepare.  And, when I first discovered that spice blend, I knew I had something amazingly delicious in my hands.  I could not wait to get home and try it out!

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As soon as I got home, I opened the lid of the container, poked my finger into the spice mixture and tasted it.  It had that same Frank’s flavor that I knew and loved but it was in a dehydrated form perfect for sprinkling on french fries, homemade potato chips, popcorn, chicken or whatever my little heart desires.  I then put the spice blend in a shaker for an even better distribution of flavor on my dishes.

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My Frank’s RedHot Sunflower Seeds are a simple combination of three ingredients.  Raw shelled sunflower seeds, an egg white and Frank’s RedHot Seasoning blend.  That’s it.  Plus, it’s so easy to make, you can have a pound of these delicious little snacks knocked out in about 15 minutes.

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These little sunflower seeds are packed with serious cayenne flavor.  You can adjust the flavor level to suit your taste buds by adding or minimizing the amount of Frank’s RedHot Seasoning that you choose to use…  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.  In a medium sized bowl whisk the egg white until frothy.  Add the raw sunflower seeds and Frank’s Seasoning blend.  Go easy on the seasoning the first time out…  You can always add more at the very end.  Toss and coat well.  Grab a large cookie sheet and spray with non stick spray.  Add the sunflower seed mixture to the cookie sheet spreading out the sunflower seeds evenly.

Place the cookie sheet on the highest rack in the oven.  Bake for about 7 to 10 minutes.  Stirring the sunflower seeds often.  Carefully taste a seed or two before removing from the oven to make sure you get the desired crunchiness and toasty color (they’re hot!).  Remove from the oven, shake more Frank’s Seasoning on the sunflower seeds if desired, let cool and place in an airtight container.  Lasts about 5 – 7 days.

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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Spicy Teriyaki Sauce

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The year 2013 is quickly coming to a close and I wanted stop and say hello and squeeze in one last recipe for the year.  For so many dumb reasons, 2013 has not been the best year for me and frankly, I really look forward to a clean slate in 2014.  You know, you just have to realize that some years are just like that.  We’ve all had those years. Unfortunately, it is what it is. By late spring of this past year, I knew that I had to just had to put my head down, grit my teeth and push through it. And I did. It was hard. I endured a few bumps and bruises, spilled a few tears but I made it through 2013 in one piece and with my chin held high. This next year I plan on devoting more time to my blog, taking a much needed fly away tropical vacation with Bruce and most importantly, focus on simplifying my life. Oh, and I really would like to take a photography class…  Sounds like a brilliant idea doesn’t it?

Last week, I was thinking about making a batch of teriyaki sauce for some grilled salmon that I wanted to prepare later on in the work week.  This time, I wanted to prepare something different than the usual (but, delicious) teriyaki sauce that I make for my family.  I wanted a sauce that was sweet, spicy and packed a bit of heat.  My Spicy Teriyaki Sauce turned out to be just the ticket.  It’s great drizzled over grilled chicken, fish, tofu or beef.  For even more flavor, marinate your protein ingredients in the Spicy Teriyaki Sauce prior to tossing on the grill.  Maybe even use it in stir fried vegetables or noodles.  My Spicy Teriyaki Sauce is super simple to make and tastes delicious!  With that said, I hope that you will have a wonderful and prosperous 2014!  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup light soy sauce
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup mirin
  • 3 tsp garlic paste
  • 1 tsp ginger paste
  • 2 Tbs corn starch
  • 2 Tbs garlic chili sauce (or sambal oelek)
  • 1 Tbs toasted sesame seeds

In a medium sized sauce pan whisk together all the ingredients.  Taste the sauce and add more garlic chili sauce if desired.  Place over medium low heat, cook for 30 minutes or so, stirring constantly.  Remove from heat, let cool and pour in a clean airtight container.  Store refrigerated for up two weeks.  Makes about 2 cups.

Godzilla Smoothie

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Godzilla Smoothie

For the past year, my life has been extremely hectic.  Long hours at work with very little time off.  In order to get things done in an efficient and effective manner, I have had to step up my game in the multitasking department.  It’s not that I wanted to do it but, had to.  Picture this…  Imagine a woman sitting at her kitchen table every morning before the sun is up and the neighborhood is awake.  She has a hot cup of coffee in the left hand, a newspaper in the right, her laptop is open to the day’s emails, a tube of black mascara is on one side and shiny lip gloss on the other.  Oh, and there’s a bright orange cat in her lap demanding attention and a lively white terrier with his paws on the side of her chair wanting to play ball.  That woman you just imagined is me.  I do that nearly every day in a span of about thirty minutes.  After the half hour is over, there’s nothing but a vapor trail between my home and the office.

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I have to admit that I never had an energy drink until about a month ago.  One day, on my way to work, I stopped at my favorite coffee stand.  I was not in the mood for my usual triple shot nonfat vanilla latte over ice.  I wanted something different.  It had to be ice cold, slightly sweet but with a “generous” dose of caffeine.  As the barista suggested, I purchased a smoothie blended with a Red Bull.  Pros: It tasted really good.  It filled me up and gave me that big energy boost that I was looking for.  Con:  It was five bucks including the tip.  After that, I knew that I could make my own smoothie with an energy drink.  The very next day the Godzilla Smoothie was born.

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My Godzilla Smoothie is all that I wanted my new smoothie to be.  Ice cold, slightly sweet, and highly caffeinated.  It’s made with spinach, mango, a splash of mango juice and a can of Red Bull…  It does have healthy elements such as nutrient rich spinach and mangoes.  Yet, it has the lively pick me up of an energy drink.  It tastes great and certainly does the trick when time is at a premium.  I must say, drinking my Godzilla Smoothie is multitasking at its finest.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup frozen mango chunks
  • 1/4 cup frozen spinach
  • splash of mango juice (to taste)
  • 1 8.4 ounce can of Red Bull

Add all ingredients to a blender.  Blend until smooth.  Serve immediately.  Makes one Godzilla Smoothie.

***Note:  This beverage should be consumed in moderation.  It’s not for everyone.  Be sure to read the label.  Energy drinks are not for children, pregnant women or people who are sensitive to caffeine.

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