Tag Archives: rogue valley

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.

Whole Grain Mustard

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Do you know that making your own mustard is ridiculously easy? Up until just a few months ago, I had absolutely no idea. I recently learned after reading a newspaper article in the Medford Mail Tribune by Jan Roberts-Dominguez titled an Advanced Lesson in Homemade Mustards. Growing up, the only mustard that could be found in our home kitchen was the bright yellow mustard sold in a jar made by French’s.  No offense to all you yellow mustard lovers but the mustard that I knew as a kid pales in comparison to the taste bud tingling spicy goodness that I am about to share with you.  And what makes my Whole Grain Mustard shine is the addition of a really tasty beer such as Southern Oregon Brewing Company‘s Nice Rack IPA.

A good homemade Whole Grain Mustard takes about 15 minutes of your time to prepare and then needs to sit around untouched for at least 48 hours to develop its wonderfully warm spicy flavors. When your mustard is ready, be sure to serve your homemade Whole Grain Mustard on sandwiches, sausages, pretzels or even use it as a base for sauces or salad dressings.  My favorite way to serve my homemade Whole Grain Mustard is to accompany it alongside some grilled brats and pints of some of Southern Oregon’s finest micro brewed beer. Now that’s pure bliss!

What’s great about making your own mustard is that the flavor combinations are endless and you can make it as hot, creamy, spicy or as sweet as you want.  All you need to start is some good quality mustard seeds, liquid for soaking such as wine, beer or vinegar, toss in some spices, add something sweet such as sugar or honey and a sprinkling of salt.

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Yellow mustard (also called white) seeds are on the left and brown mustard seeds are on the right. Notice that the yellow mustard seeds are nearly twice the size than the brown mustard seeds. They are also a lot less pungent in flavor than the brown mustard seeds. I personally like the brown mustard seeds better because of the heat factor. Look for mustard seeds in the bulk foods section of your favorite specialty or natural food store. If you can’t find it locally, you can always resort to shopping online. Once you learn how to make your own Whole Grain Mustard, it’s doubtful that you will want to use store the bought varieties ever again. Thank you Jan Roberts-Dominguez for the mustard lesson and the inspiration!  Enjoy! Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup brown mustard seeds
  • 1/2 cup yellow mustard seeds
  • 3/4 cup beer (I used Nice Rack IPA)
  • 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbs sugar
  • 3 tsp garlic paste
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp ground allspice
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp salt or to taste

In a non reactive bowl or jar (glass, plastic or stainless steel) add the mustard seeds, beer, and vinegar.  Make sure that the seeds are covered in liquid.  If you need to add more liquid, use equal parts beer and vinegar.  Just be careful, you don’t want your mustard to be too watery. Place the mustard covered in a cool place for 48 hours.  Add the remaining ingredients and place in food processor. Blend mustard for about two minutes or until you reach your desired texture. Taste and correct your seasonings.  Place mustard in clean jars with a tight fitting lid and store in the refrigerator for up to a few weeks.  Makes about 2 3/4 cups.

***Recipe adapted from Jan Roberts-Dominguez

Cream of Chicken Soup

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I can’t believe that it has been about six months since I’ve share a single recipe from my kitchen. Well, I’m still here and not a day went by that I didn’t think about it. I have to tell you that a lot has happened over the past year. I’ve watched my son graduate from college at the top of his class and then turn around and head off to law school in Washington D.C., I’m nearing the end of an incredibly challenging software implementation at my work, and Bruce took me on an amazing and much needed vacation to Hawaii.  Now after all that mind boggling activity, I am happy that I am finally getting reacquainted with writing about food and my DSLR camera. Oh, and I almost forgot to tell you. I am in the midst of planning my little garden for this year and I am also teaching myself how to knit.

Now back to the kitchen…  I’m sure that you heard me say this before but, I am going to say it again. I love homemade soup.  Not just one type of soup, but all kinds of soups.  And, one of my favorites is Cream of Chicken soup. I like to enjoy a cup of Cream of Chicken soup served with a fresh green salad loaded with brightly colored vegetables or with a half sandwich piled high with thinly sliced ham or turkey. In my opinion, soup made from scratch is cheaper, tastier and depending on the choice of ingredients can be a much healthier option than store bought or what you get from a restaurant.

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Whenever the weather is cold outside or I am in need of something that is simple and soul soothing, a cup of my homemade Cream of Chicken Soup is just the ticket. My Cream of Chicken Soup has a lovely velvety texture with bits of tender chicken and onion with a hint of thyme, turmeric and bay leaf.

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What I really like most about my Cream of Chicken soup is that my sweet husband Bruce loves it! He tells me that he likes the creaminess of the soup and that I make sure that it has plenty of bits of chicken in it. I know that if I can please Bruce with my Cream of Chicken soup recipe, I have a winner on my hands.

It’s feels great to be back in the kitchen.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 5 cups of chicken stock
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1/2 onion minced
  • 1 – 2 tsp canola oil
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme or 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper or to taste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp garlic paste
  • 1 tsp salt or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric or to taste (I tend to use more, I love turmeric!)
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • minced parsley for garnish

Begin by chopping the chicken thighs into small tiny bite sized pieces.  Set aside. In a large heavy bottomed pot with a tight fitting lid over medium high heat add the canola oil and onions. Cook for a few minutes, stirring constantly until the onions are cooked through and opaque. Be careful not to burn the onions. Add the chopped chicken and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally until the chicken is lightly golden brown.  Add the chicken stock to deglaze the bottom of the pot.  Add thyme, white pepper, bay leaf, garlic, turmeric and salt. Cover and the bring mixture to a gentle boil, cooking for another 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl make a slurry of the flour and milk.  Whisk well to remove any lumps.  Remove the lid from the soup, and take out the bay leaf and any thyme sprigs.

Whisk the flour and milk slurry into the soup. Reduce heat, stir constantly and cook until the soup has thickened and the flour taste has disappeared (about a half an hour). Taste and correct your seasonings, add additional chicken stock if necessary.  Ladle into cups or bowls and sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley for garnish.  Makes about 2 quarts or 8 servings.

Grilled Cuban Oregano Chicken

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This last spring while shopping for plants for my garden I stumbled upon a Cuban Oregano plant.  I’ve never seen or heard of Cuban Oregano before and it was so much different looking than the Italian or Greek Oregano that I have growing in large pots on my back patio.  The leaves were thicker, almost succulent like and they were lighter in color than the variety I use for Italian and Mediterranean dishes.  What I also noticed is that it had a wonderful herbaceous smell and flavor that would be perfect with chicken, pork or even lamb.

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Do you see how thick the leaves are?  They are fleshy and soft to the touch, almost velvety in nature.  I picked a few sprigs and thought of making a marinade for some chicken that I was going to prepare for dinner that evening.  I tasted one of the leaves first to get an idea of how much to use.  It was fairly aromatic and had a lovely flavor.  With that in mind, I was thinking of making a marinade that had a Mexican or Latin American profile.  That meant lime juice, cilantro and garlic would be great in addition to cumin, pepper and onion.  I pulled together my ingredients and marinated the chicken for about 4 hours before tossing on the hot grill.  Luckily, I wrote down my recipe for it turned out fabulous!  Both Bruce and I loved it!  As a result, this marinade is a definite keeper.  Chop up any leftover chicken and fill warm corn or flour tortillas for delicious soft tacos for a quick and easy dinner the next day.  Enjoy!  Tessa

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup onion
  • 1/3 cup lime juice
  • 1/3 cup cilantro
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 1/2 Tbs Cuban oregano
  • 4 tsp garlic paste
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp pepper (or to taste)
  • 3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • garnish with lime wedges and sprigs of Cuban oregano

Toss all ingredients except for the chicken in a blender.  Blend for a few seconds until all the ingredients are mixed well.  Marinate the chicken in the refrigerator for at least 4 – 6 hours before cooking.  Place chicken on the barbecue or grill pan on medium high heat.  Discard marinade.  Cook chicken, turning occasionally, until the juices run clear or the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Remove from heat and let chicken rest for about 5 minutes prior to serving. Serve with lime wedges and garnish with the Cuban oregano.  Makes about 8 servings.

Rustic Tomato Marinara

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First of all, I owe my family, friends and coworkers a big huge apology.  You see, I will not be giving away my excess homegrown tomatoes from my garden to them ever again.  It’s not that I don’t like to share or that I am a stingy person or that I like to hoard my garden produce.  It’s just that I need the tomatoes because I have learned how to make my own homemade Rustic Tomato Marinara Sauce from scratch. And in my opinion, this Rustic Tomato Marinara sauce is worth apologizing for.

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The key to this delicious sauce is freshly picked, perfectly ripe heirloom tomatoes.  This bucket full of lemon boy’s, early girls, green zebras, pineapples, mortgage lifters and a handful sweet millions was used in my Rustic Tomato Marinara.  What makes this sauce “rustic” is that I did not peel the tomatoes or seed them before tossing in the pot for cooking.  I say, so what, who cares?  A stick blender takes care of the tomato skins and as a result there’s very little waste and a fantastic tomato flavor.

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My Rustic Tomato Marinara is one of those recipes that works better by taste and feel rather than following the recipe exactly.  Why?  Every variety of tomato is different and some cook faster than others.  Also, you can add whatever blend of spices and herbs you like.  If you like it spicy, add some red pepper flakes.  It’s all about you and your taste. The next time you have an overabundance of tomatoes, make some Rustic Tomato Marinara.  Enjoy! Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 gallon tomatoes (about 5 pounds, quartered)
  • 2 onions (chopped)
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 cup wine (I used red table wine)
  • 1 cup fresh basil (chopped)
  • 1 Tbs fresh oregano
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
  • about 2 – 3 cups water
  • 5 cloves garlic (minced)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 – 2 Tbs sugar (optional)

Grab a large pot and saute the onions in the olive oil until they turn translucent.  Meanwhile, wash and remove stem scars from tomatoes. Quarter the tomatoes, making sure that all the tomato chunks are somewhat uniform in size.  Add tomatoes, wine, water, oregano, basil, salt, and pepper to the pot, Cook on low uncovered for 2 – 3 hours, stirring often.  Add garlic near the end of the cooking process.  Using an immersion or stick blender, blend sauce until smooth or desired consistency.  If the sauce is too watery or thin, cook the sauce longer to reduce or if it’s too thick, add more water.  Taste your sauce, add sugar if necessary.  The purpose of the sugar is to cut the acidity of the tomatoes. Correct your seasonings.  Remove from heat.  Use sauce immediately or cool and put into plastic containers to freeze for later use.  Makes about 2 – 2 1/2 quarts.

Heirloom Tomato Salad with Green Zebra Vinaigrette

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Every spring and summer I dedicate time to plant a vegetable garden.  Those who have a vegetable garden knows full well that having one takes quite a bit of work.  Fortunately, my garden is small in size.  It consists of 2 – 5′ by 8′ raised beds, a 3′ by 6′ planting strip and 5 large half barrel containers.  Chances are that you’ll find me in my garden every night after I come home from work.  I generally spend about 20 minutes a day watering, weeding, and tending to my vegetables and herbs.  It may be an effort but I love it.  Gardening is one of those activities that is productive, therapeutic and good for the soul.  Not to mention, the ultimate reward is delicious fresh picked vegetables and fruit for you and your family.

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Everything that I grow in my little garden is organic.  That means I don’t use bug sprays, processed fertilizers or non-organic composts.  I prefer it that way.  I’m far from perfect but I do try my best to feed my family healthy foods free from chemicals and pesticide residue.  So I do take the extra time to pull weeds or deal with garden pests the old fashioned way by plucking them off the leaves by hand.  Planting, weeding and watering is the easy part of gardening.  Dealing with the garden pests such as snails slugs or beetles is not.  It’s not my favorite part of gardening but, left unchecked, those annoying little pests can destroy your precious plants within a few short weeks.

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Every year I plant several Green Zebra Tomato plants in addition to the dozen other varieties of heirloom tomatoes.  Green Zebra Tomatoes are my son’s favorite variety of tomato so I grow at least three plants just for him.  Green zebras are immensely flavorful and have a beautiful green color.  And, don’t let the bright green color fool you.  The green tomatoes that you see are perfectly ripe and ready to eat.  After growing many heirloom varieties for many years, I have learned to pick my tomatoes by touch and feel, and not by color.  Why?  Heirloom varieties come in a variety of colors such as yellow, green, orange, red and even black.  When picking tomatoes, I gently squeeze the fruit to check for ripeness.  If it’s too firm, it remains on the vine until it’s ripe and ready to be brought into my kitchen.

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My Heirloom Tomato Salad with Green Zebra Vinaigrette is a simple combination of ingredients that packs some serious summertime flavor.  Don’t worry if you can’t find Green Zebra Tomatoes…  My the tomato vinaigrette can be made with any kind of tomato you wish. Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 4 – 5 cups Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes (mixed)
  • 3 – 4 Tbs Green Zebra Tomato Vinaigrette (See recipe below)
  • Sprigs of fresh snipped Basil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Begin by washing and stemming the cherry tomatoes.  Cut in half.  Arrange on 4 salad plates.  Garnish with the fresh basil.  Drizzle with Green Zebra Vinaigrette.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Makes 4 salads.

Green Zebra Tomato Vinaigrette:

  • 4 – Green Zebra Tomatoes (quartered, about 10 ounces)
  • 1 Tbs Olive Oil
  • 1 shallot (finely chopped)
  • 2 Tbs White Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 tsp Dijon Mustard
  • 1 tsp Garlic Paste
  • 1 tsp Honey
  • 1/2 cup Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbs Fresh Parsley (minced)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • garnish with sprigs of basil

Grab a small saucepan and heat 1 Tbs olive oil on the stove over medium high heat.  Add tomatoes and shallots and cook about 10 minutes stirring constantly, be careful not to burn.  Remove from heat and add the white balsamic vinegar, Dijon mustard, garlic and honey.  Use an immersion or stick blender and add olive oil slowly until the mixture is smooth.  Add salt and pepper.  Taste and correct your seasonings.  Stir in the minced parsley.  Cover and chill.  Makes about 1 cup.  Keep refrigerated in a tightly sealed container for about 3 – 4 days.

Banana Avocado Mango Smoothie

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My “go to” breakfast or morning snack during the hot summer months is an ice cold Banana Avocado Mango Smoothie (aka BAM Smoothie).  I love preparing smoothies because they are good for you, quick and easy to make and most importantly, they’re portable.  After blending, just pour it in a spill proof container or glass, add a fat straw, and breakfast is served!  My Banana Avocado Mango Smoothie is made with a fresh banana, avocado, frozen mango chunks, and chilled unfiltered apple juice.  My BAM Smoothie is a simple combination of ingredients that is simply satisfying and tastes delicious.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium sized banana
  • 1/2 medium sized avocado (skin and pit removed)
  • 1 cup frozen mango chunks
  • 1 cup apple juice
  • stevia (optional, for additional sweetness)

Add all ingredients to a blender or a single serving blender cup.  Blend on high until smooth, about 30 seconds.  Serve immediately.  Pour into a glass, add a straw and enjoy!  Makes 1 serving.

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Broccoli and Spinach Bisque

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Years ago, while growing up, if I wanted to have a bowl of soup for lunch, it came out of a small bright red and white can.  It was called Campbell’s…  Our family always had Campbell’s condensed cans of cream of mushroom, chicken noodle or tomato available in the cupboard ready to add water and heat up.  Back then, I thought that it tasted great for I did not know any better.  Homemade soup was pretty much nonexistent in our diets because we never made it at home and we rarely ate at what I would call a “sit down restaurant”.  And if we did, I would always order a green salad instead of soup.

I was first introduced to making homemade soups after I moved out of the house in my late teens.  I learned how to prepare soups while working my way through college as a short order cook.  As a short order cook, I discovered how easy, inexpensive and delicious homemade soups can be.  In the commercial kitchen, I learned how to make bean soups, cream soups, vegetable soups, noodle soups and so much more.  I strongly believe that my education in the restaurant was as valuable as the high priced education that I received in college.

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Today, I want to share with you an easy to make Broccoli and Spinach Bisque.  It’s made with fresh organic broccoli, spinach and leeks in a good quality chicken stock with a hint of white pepper and fresh grated nutmeg.  Instead of using heavy cream with a ton of fat and calories, I’ve lightened it up a bit with some 2% milk.

“Toto, I’ve a feeling that we’re not having Campbell’s anymore”.  Enjoy!  Tessa

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound broccoli florets
  • 2 cups leeks (white and light green parts only, chopped)
  • 5 cups fresh spinach
  • 1 Tbs butter
  • 1 quart Chicken Stock
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • 4 Tbs butter
  • 4 Tbs flour
  • 2 cups milk (2%)

Begin by cooking the leeks in 1 Tbs butter in a large sauce pan.  Cook over medium flame until translucent, stirring constantly taking care not to burn.  Add broccoli, chicken stock and salt.  Cover and cook until broccoli is tender.  Add spinach, grated nutmeg and white pepper and cook a few minutes more.  Meanwhile in a medium sized sauce pan cook butter and flour mixture (making a roux) until a light golden brown.  Add milk, whisk constantly and cook until thickened.  Add milk mixture to broccoli mixture.  Puree with hand blender and cook for a few more minutes.  Taste and correct your seasonings.  Ladle into cups or bowls and garnish with chopped green onion or chives.  Makes 2 quarts or about 8 – 1 cup servings.

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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.