Fresh Peach Salsa

They are BACK.

We’ve waited since October. 8 long months for them.

Fresh PEACHES!

Of course you have been able to purchase peaches from Chili, Mexico or California for quite some time. But this is just about the very first of the Washington peaches. They start out small and cling but a month from now they’ll be incredible! These peaches are a teaser of better things to come.

I made up my own recipe based on a few that I read on pinterest.

Fresh Peach Salsa

12 small peaches, washed and chopped (I peeled about 1/2 of them, peel if you want, you don’t have to)

2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved

2 jalapeño peppers, diced (toss seeds out if you want less spicy)

1/2 onion, chopped

1/2 bunch of cilantro, chopped

2 cobs of corn, roasted and kernels chopped off cob

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

2 TB salt

Toss everything together gently. I have found salsas to be tastier the next day, drain excess liquid before serving.


Refried Beans, but not

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I grew up with canned vegetarian refried beans. That was the bean product of choice for tacos. I really didn’t like them. Something about how they “slurped” out of the can and how thick they were, even when well heated, just didn’t sit right with me. I remember getting Rosarita’s “vegetarian refried beans with lime”, which was more tolerable, but still mildly dreadful.

I liked the lard laden ones at the local taco joint, those were great, but not really something I would want to eat on a regular basis.

Now, I’ve always enjoyed whole beans in tacos, black beans and kidney beans primarily.

But it wasn’t until I went to my friend Laura’s house  (owner of a white plate that I borrowed for blog photo purposes), that I discovered homemade “refried beans” style mashed pinto beans. She made them from whole dry pinto beans with a few seasonings and mashed them.

Mind blown.

You mean, you can make refried beans from scratch??? (I’ve obviously never considered this)

Last week, while visiting my mom, she gave me some dry beans she didn’t get around to usingImage

Pinto Splits? Good enough.

I found it funny, that the bag said “No Cholesterol”. Well, there better darn well not be any cholesterol in DRIED BEANS. I would be terrified if there was. Made me think of Almost Pizza.

I dumped a half a bag of them in my slow cooker with water, a diced onion, garlic, cumin, hot sauce and black pepper, let it do it’s thing for awhile and then, according to other recipes, I drained the water out, and then mashed the beans up. At that point I added salt, adding it before would have made the beans more difficult to cook. I then re-added additional water to get it to a perfect consistency, and squirted a little lime juice in for flavor.

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Oh my. Delish.

The beans were so good, we just wanted to eat them plain with chips or tortillas. We were out of tortilla chips so we made some with leftover corn tortillas.

But then we burnt them, smelled the whole house up, practically caught the oven on fire (not the first time we’ve done that). We threw up the white flag and ran to Rosauer’s instead.

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Refried Beans, un-fried

2 lbs Pinto Splits

8 cups of water

1 TB ground cumin

1 onion, chopped

3 TB fresh garlic, chopped

3 TB Valentina Hot Sauce (I think this is in every recipe I’ve made, lol)

1 lime

4 tsp salt (to taste)

Toss beans, water, cumin, onion, garlic and hot sauce in slow cooker for 6 hours on high (or over night), drain liquid from beans and reserve. Mash beans with masher or puree in food processor if you desire a more uniform texture. Add salt and the juice of one lime.

Eat as a side dish, as a dip with chips (ideally not burnt ones)


Brownies in the Raw

Okay, I’ve heard of such things, but I really didn’t believe there could be a better gluten-free, low carb brownie out there that beats my black bean brownies, yes, shamelessly arrogant brownie snob here.

But if there is a brownie that is up for the challenge of dethroning the black bean brownies in this house it’s these raw brownies.

They require no cooking, no stirring, no bowl, no eggs, oil or butter.

Oh my. They are incredible.

However I made an elementary cook mistake while preparing them

The brownies call for dates, I had never used dates before, and I didn’t realize they had seeds.

Huge seeds in fact, like the size of a small almond.

Really. Hard. Seeds.

And I plopped 13 dates into my poor indentured servant, Mr. Cuisinart F. Processor, and pushed start. The poor dear tilted on two feet one way and then the back to his other two feet then his blade disconnected and made a horrible sound.

Oh Cuisi, forgive me for those horrible seeds that knocked you senseless. I think after a nice soak in the sink ahem “bath” he is recovering.

But, please, friends, I’m sure you are all aware of date seeds, I was not. Please beware, they do not grind.

There are many raw brownie recipes, and I played with a few of them until I found my ideal. Some call for bananas, avocados, maple syrup, walnuts, cashews. They ALL call for cocoa powder

A word on Cocoa Powder and the different types here

I used Trader Joe’s unsweetened cocoa powder, oh it’s so good.

These brownies are insanely easy to make, you do need a food processor, and a few hours to chill brownies.

Brownies in the Raw

1 cup pecans

1/2 cup almonds

3/4 cup cocoa powder

1 TB honey

12-13 Medjool Dates **SEEDS REMOVED**

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup chocolate chips (optional)

Place 1 cup of pecans and almonds in food processor, pulse until ground finely. Add dates, remember to remove the seeds (haha), 2 at a time, and use the pulse button to incorporate them slowly. Add cocoa, honey and vanilla. Pulse gradually until the brownie mixture looks like really great soil.

Press into 8×8 pan that is lined with saran wrap (add chocolate chips at this point). Allow to chill in refrigerator for at least 1 hour.

Cut into 12 brownies. Store covered and refrigerated (I wouldn’t be that concerned about it, other than the fact that the medjool date container from TJs says to refrigerate after opening).

I brought some to gathering with friends yesterday, and they were a hit! This is my beautiful friend Annie May, miss that girl already!


Simple Coconut Rice Pudding

Matt and I eat more rice than any other starch, this is a terrific use of leftover rice. This is a simple recipe, whips up quick for a simple dessert. We like basmati rice the most. It’s an aromatic rice, and has a lower Glycemic Index than other white rices (that’s a good thing).

I knew I wanted a Thai flair for this rice pudding, that is where the cardamom comes in. Often rice pudding has raisins in it, I didn’t have raisins around, but I always have dried cranberries around, I think they worked splendidly!

Simple Coconut Rice Pudding

4 cups cooked coconut rice

3/4 cup dried cranberries

3/4 tsp ground cardamom

2 cans light coconut milk

1 large box instant vanilla pudding

Mix vanilla pudding mix according to instructions, substitute milk with coconut milk, whisk in cardamom. Mix in cranberries and rice to pudding, stir gently until incorporated. Top with toasted coconut, granola or fresh berries.

Serves 8

If your rice is fresh this pudding can be devoured hot! I haven’t experimented heating it up, but I’m sure it can be!


Chopped Taco Salad

Like any nutrition graduate I love a good salad. However, I am often disappointed in the roughage to yummy bits ratio. For instance eight parts romaine lettuce to one part chicken, dried cranberries, almonds and cucumbers. Blah. The $12 salad was $10 lettuce and $2 yummy part (not really, but you get my drift).

I like well incorporated salads where EVERY bite is delicious and full of flavor.

My other beef with salads is that often they can be awkward to eat. During work lunches I often want to order a salad, but I’m embarrassed at what I might look like trying to shove a 4-inch spinach leaf in my mouth (salads with huge leaves should ALWAYS be served with a knife in my opinion).  I actually think awkward salads are a cause of the general population not ordering them or healthy alternatives in general when they go out. That is probably far fetched, but I think we’ve all had an awkward moment or two with a salad. Not so recently I ate a McDonald’s salad, the ice berg lettuce was in massive chunks and there were these weird shreds of carrot, they looked like orange tongues. I didn’t even have a crummy plastic knife so I just sat there like an idiot shoving huge bits of lettuce and carrots in my face.

However awkward they can be I do love a good salad, they serve a really good taco salad at The Onion here in Spokane, mmmm, drool worthy.

So, let’s review. A salad should be . . . full of flavor, easy enough to eat and . . . oh right – HEALTHY (almost forgot that one)

This salad is healthy, it is DRESSING FREE! None of that corn syrup ridden, trans-fat containing goop. And I promise you won’t miss it with this delicious salad!

That is what inspired this beauty

Chopped Taco Salad

3 hearts of romaine lettuce chopped thin

1 large can Rotel, drained well

2 cans corn, drained or 3 cups defrosted frozen corn

3 cups black beans (if using canned drain and rinse, if using dried cook, rinse & cool)

1 large (24oz) jar salsa (I REALLY like Winco’s Cascade Pride HOT salsa)

1 lb ground turkey, cooked thoroughly and seasoned with taco seasoning OR cumin, chili powder, garlic and salt & pepper

2 Avocados chopped, sprinkled with lemon juice

Make sure the above ingredients are chilled and well drained, toss together gently until incorporated, serve with sour cream and tortilla chips. I just liked mine plain. Matt and I aren’t cheese eaters but shredded cheese would go well with this too, even mixed in.

Yum. And soooo healthy!

I’ve made this twice, once with one can black beans and one can kidney beans, the second time with dried cooked black beans. I missed the kidney beans, but I think the dried cooked beans taste so much BETTER, and less salty too. The second time we put chopped avocado in it, with the high acidity of the salsa it didn’t brown, so that was good.

We also ate this over the period of 3 days, the lettuce wilts a little, but does not loose it’s crunchy consistency.


Crock Pot Lentil/Garbanzo Masala Stew

Well, April in Spokane involves snow and lots of rain. And really still cold temperatures. So, I’m still cooking stews and soups like it’s January. My most recent invention was inspired by a recipe I pinned, but I altered the recipe significantly, so it’s pretty different.

I got the recipe from http://www.eatliverun.com/crock-pot-chickpea-butternut-squash-and-red-lentil-stew/

I couldn’t find garam masala (I’m sure it’s here in Spokane somewhere, but I didn’t feel like hunting), so I rerouted the recipe and used Masala simmer sauce instead.

I LOVE our new Trader Joe’s (TJs) it’s a blast, I love to go early in the morning before it’s too busy. This recipe is almost entirely from there, so if you don’t have one near by call me and I’ll send you some masala simmer sauce to make this! Mmmm yum!

Crock Pot Lentil/Garbanzo Masala Stew

Served 12? (a lot anyway, poor Matt might be tired of it, I LOVE it still)

1 onion, chopped

4 carrots, chopped

1.5 tsp minced garlic

1 bag chopped Butternut Squash, (32 oz) from TJs

1 jar Masala Simmer Sauce from TJs

1 cup mixed lentil and dry bean mix from TJs

1/2 cup brown lentils

1 large (28oz) can whole tomatoes (I chopped them once I dumped the can in the crock pot, diced would work too)

1 quart organic chicken broth (use veggie if Vegan)

2 cans garbanzo beans

1/2 tsp coriander

1/2 tsp ginger

1 tsp cumin

1/4 tsp cardamom

Salt, Pepper and Sriicha to taste

Heat onions and carrots in a little oil on a pan until carrots are bright orange and onions are softened. Dump in slow cooker with everything else. I let it simmer/cook for 4.5  hours on low, 1 hour of high, that was a minimum, it probably needed a little longer.

We ate it with Naan from TJs.

OMG. It was so good. Very flavorful, aromatic without being too overwhelming. You could easily eat this over brown basmati rice too.

It was cheap too. Despite purchasing pre-chopped butternut from TJs (I hate chopping butternut squash), it was a $12 meal and fed us forever. Also froze well for Matt’s work lunches.

Yum ya yum yum yum.


Redemption of the lentil

In early January after nearly 3 weeks crashing at either Matt’s parents or my parents we finally were home. I was determined to really cook some homemade meals, the first time in quite awhile. We had grown soft in “the land flowing with milk and honey” (and Costco food), and hadn’t really made a meal in forever.

I though the standard lentil stew would hit the spot. I had used a recipe that won the National Lentil Festival recipe of the year in 2007 or 2008, but I couldn’t locate the recipe online, and I couldn’t find it in my recipe drawer (HORROR OF HORRORS). I remembered that it called for dark chocolate and diced tomatoes, the other specifics I had forgotten. I figured I’d wing it . . . 2 hours later I had 10lbs of the nastiest, grossest looking lentil mud ever seen by man. I had also severely burned the bottom of my favorite pot (several days of soaking and lemon and baking soda did the trick.

Matt was the gracious, as per usual, but he wasn’t interested in dining on the brown scalded mess, he politely offered to make spaghetti instead. This frustrated cook threw up her hands and happily surrendered the kitchen to her patient husband.

Lentils 1 Laura 0

Yesterday, after a short school day I was feeling up to a challenge, I glanced at the large bag of bulk lentils I purchased weeks ago. It was time for another lentil showdown.

A quick Food Network Search yielded this recipe

Sausage Kale & Lentil Soup

  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 pound hot sausage (I used Trader Joe’s Jalepeno Chicken sausage, it was INCREDIBLE)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped, leafy tops reserved
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and chopped (I used 2)
  • 1 large Idaho (russet) potato, peeled and chopped into small dice (omitted completely, who needs potato with lentils, weird)
  • 1 Fresno or Holland chili pepper thinly sliced or finely chopped (squeezed 2 TB Sriracha in instead)
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves picked and finely chopped (didn’t have it, OMITTED!!)
  • 2 large garlic chopped or sliced
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bundle Tuscan, black, or dinosaur kale, stemmed and very thinly sliced (used a half bag of Trader Joe’s bagged Kale
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 1 3/4 cups lentils
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups water

Directions

I used a large wok, heat 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil. Add the sausage (since it was precooked), the onions, celery, carrots, garlic, cumin, salt, and pepper, and cook to soften, 8 to10 minutes.

Wilt in the kale

Stir in the tomato paste for 30 seconds, then add white wine. Cook to reduce by 1/2 and stir in the lentils, stock, and water.Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer the soup until the lentils are tender, about 35 minutes. Serve immediately or cool, store, and reheat.

AND YUUUUUUM

Ok Rachel Ray, ya done good. This is my NEW go to lentil recipe, it was incredible. LOVED IT! It was even sort of beautiful for a lentil stew, full of flavor and the kale – – – don’t get me started on the kale, it was delicious and offered a consistency that was great!

The lentil has been redeemed!