Archive for the 'black beans' Category

01
Jun
11

Midday gym and mussels provencale.

I used to think I was incapable of a midday gym. I thought, “Oh, give me two hours after work when I’d want nothing more than some Seinfeld and a leisurely prepared meal to, rather, duke it out with the overly-chatty after-work crowd for some poorly matched free weights and a sliver of floor space.” Then, it dawned on me that more than 20 minutes of cardio at non-interval speeds is the cardio equivalent of white rice, in that it provides no legitimate value to my life and makes me resent sushi for favoring its kind. I used to think my high maintenance hair wouldn’t allow me to compress my routine into an effective half hour, but I found my way back to the oft-neglected ponytail of dance team performances past. I wear it these days without my puff painted hair ribbon with “GJHS” on one side and “Eagles” on the other, though. I’ve moved on.

So, I’ve embraced the midday gym these days. I’m sold on its ability to allow me some midday Cooking Channel and its non-compete policy with happy hour. Also, I realized all too late (several hundred dollars late!) that I was temporarily rendered insane by Physique 57’s feminist messaging and nostalgia-provoking ballet stretches. Nothing tones my body more than weights, and cardio allows for some fat burning and stress releasing. Period. No need to shell out hundreds for less-effective exercises and group motivation, no matter how fancy it makes me feel. And I DID feel fancy. Bring on the fuzzy high heeled slippers and ear plugs that double as chandelier earrings, please. I’m just CRAZY about Tiffany’s.

Since I’m all freed up with the cult-like group exercising, I decided I had some bandwidth to join a dietary cult. My office is kind of enamored with the Four Hour Body, which preaches a dramatic change in physique if one adopts a slow carb mentality. Meaning, you have to cut out all dairy, grains, sugar and fruit, and eat meals of just lean protein, legumes and vegetables. I turned my nose up at first, naturally, but I allowed myself to get sucked in. It’s somewhat challenging to make interesting meals on the diet, but I’ve been doing it for about two weeks and have made some delicious seafood-centric meals.

I made this spicy shrimp dish last week, which I based on this recipe from Epicurious:

Ingredients:

spicy shrimp with peanuts and black beans

3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp rice vinegar
2 tsp sesame oil
4 tsp vegetable oil
1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 1/2 tbsp peeled fresh ginger, finely chopped
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1 large red bell pepper, sliced
6 green onions, thinly sliced
1 bunch broccolini, chopped (my addition)
1/4 c peanuts, chopped (my addition)
1/4 c black beans (my addition)

The recipe actually calls for pineapple and bok choy, but I’m off fruit for now and Whole Foods was out of bok choy, so I improvised. I used broccolini instead, mostly because I think it’s adorable. It’s baby broccoli! How cute is that? Also, it tastes good and adds some color.

You start by blending together the soy sauce, rice vinegar and sesame oil in a bowl. The original recipe wanted me to blend cornstarch and honey in there also, but neither are 4hb compliant, so I abstained. You then heat a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat and add 2 tsp vegetable oil, shrimp, garlic, ginger and pepper for about two minutes. Transfer to a bowl, and then add 2 more tsp of oil to the skillet. Add peppers, onions, and broccolini to the skillet and stir fry until wilted. Then add black beans, peanuts, and eventually recombine with the shrimp mixture in the skillet. It should only take about 5 minutes, and dinner is served.

I made mussels for dinner last night, and they came out pretty amazing. Emphasis on the pretty. Are they not the classiest shellfish around? That they are. My first run-in with a mussel happened just a month ago, and I had wrongly assumed that I had a mussel aversion since my mom is not a fan. It’s the same way I assumed that I, too, hated beets since they had always disgusted her. I temporarily remembered that I am a separate human with separate opinions, and I sat down to several buckets of mussels for dinner. It turns out, I’m a fan. Shocking.

I made this dish from Epicurious:

mussels

Ingredients:

2 lbs mussels, cleaned
1/2 c dry white wine (I used Sauvignon Blanc)
1 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
1 tsp fresh basil, chopped, and some extra for bouquet garni
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 14 oz can chopped tomatoes
salt and pepper
crushed red pepper (my addition)
1 tbsp balade butter (my addition)
You start by heating the olive oil in a large saucepan and adding the onions, celery, garlic, basil and bouquet garni, which I took to mean a bundle of un-chopped basil. Cook over low heat for 5 minutes or so. Add the tomato paste, tomatoes, salt, pepper and red pepper, and simmer for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the mussels in a large skillet with the white wine and butter over high heat. Put the lid on to trap the heat, and cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally. The mussels will all open to reveal their innards, and those who haven’t are still alive and must be discarded. Pour the tomato sauce over the mussels, and sprinkle with chopped basil.

They were incredible. Seriously. This is one of the easiest and tastiest meals ever, and it looks so damn classy. Unfortunately, the picture quality is a little fuzzy due to the steam. I’m including a somewhat distorted picture of the finished product, since it was the best of the bunch. See below:

moules provencale

15
May
10

linguine with clams, veggie sandwich.

I just reached a major culinary milestone. In a lady-balls-to-the-wall moment, I approached the seafood counter at Whole Foods with nothing but bivales on the brain. After probing the seafood man for his expertise (Clams or Cockles? Jersey clams or Maine clams? Boxers or briefs?), I walked away with two pounds of Littleneck clams and a totally unnecessary and premature sense of accomplishment.

I’ve had no experience with clams save for a few encounters with clam chowder, so I was pretty glued to the recipe I found on Epicurious. It was meant for cockles, but the Whole Foods man said he favored clams (they’re sweeter and less briny, apparently) and steered me in that direction. It called for:

linguine with clams

Ingredients:

12 oz linguine (I used whole wheat)

2 tbsp butter

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup dry white wine

2 tbsp tarragon

1/4 tsp saffron

2 pounds cockles ( I used clams)

It also requested I add whipping cream, which I excluded because I can. I love exerting my power over dairy. You start by cooking the linguine as the box instructs, and melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add shallots and garlic and sautee for a couple of minutes, and then add the wine, half the tarragon and the saffron. Bring to boil, add the clams, and cover the skillet. They took about 8 minutes to cook, and suddenly all the clams pop open and, like, all but unhinge! It looked just like the Reach toothbrush cartoon, but an edible version. Side bar: what happened to Reach? Anyways, you toss the cooked linguine in with the sauce, season with salt and pepper, and then top with the clams. I added some crushed red pepper flakes for some spice, but the tarragon and saffron did a pretty good job of seasoning. I really enjoyed the whole clam experience.

In sweaty news, I’ve been going at this whole workout thing with a new perspective. Harder, faster, stronger, if you will. I used to be all “treadmill for 20 min a day? Done.” Now I’m all, “Treadmill for 20, Cybex for 30, Stair master for 15? Done,” or some variation of that. It’s swimsuit season much too soon, so it’s go time. I will never stop wishing there were pools in the city, though, because I loooove to swim. I also enjoy that whole “fetus in the womb” feeling of floating around and doing somersaults and whatever. Also, it’s sweatless exercise. Something to think about, NYC.

While looking through my repertoire of recent eats, I realized that my most photogenic recipe was another from Epicurious. Is there such a thing as a recipe app addiction? If so, I suffer from it.

I want

Ingredients:

1/2 cup white vinegar

1 cup thinly sliced red onion

1 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 cup fat-free mayonnaise

1 teaspoon finely chopped canned chipotle chile with sauce

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

8 slices whole-grain bread

2⁄3 cup crumbled reduced-fat feta

1 medium avocado, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped

1 tomato, cut into 8 slices

You start by boiling 1 cup water with vinegar in a small saucepan. Add onion; turn off heat; let sit 30 minutes; drain. I love red onions more than life itself, and this was a delicious way to prepare them. They’re almost pickled. Epi then wants you to puree beans and cumin in a blender. Mix mayonnaise, chipotle (I used a jalapeno) and lime juice in a bowl, and spread on 4 slices of bread, which I toasted. I’m normally not a mayo fan, but I figured it was alright to include as long as lime and jalapeno were involved. Top remaining slices with bean puree, onion, cheese (I used goat cheese due to the overwhelming absense of feta in Whole Foods that week), avocado, cilantro and tomato. I’ve made my fair share of well documented veggie paninis in the past, but this was by far the most hearty. It’s also arguably the prettiest, and I’m showing it here in all its openfaced glory. See below:

black bean and veggie sandwich with pickled red onions and jalapeno mayo

09
May
10

halibut with fruit salsa, green pea and tarragon soup.

I’ve been a vegetarian for all of two years now, and there are times when I openly wonder if I could still claim veg status if I maybe just integrated some cured Italian meats into my diet. Just a few; just to see how it feels. I watch the Food Network and am unnaturally jealous when they prepare those adorable lollipop-like lamb chops. Also, I’m weirdly fascinated by duck and the way people score the backside with a criss-cross pattern before cooking. When’s the last time I had that much fun with an eggplant? I do realize that I’m the only one closing myself off to decorating ducks, but the idea of crossing over to the dark meat side fills me with this unmistakable sense of failure. I have no clue when that will pass, so for now I’m choosing to further explore the world of seafood.

I was in Whole Foods last week and was drawn over to the seafood counter. Before I had a chance to explore my options, I saw one of those “WEEKEND DEAL!” stickers on the halibut. I’ve only ever made more mainstream fish such as salmon or tilapia, but my latest desire to keep seafood interesting drove me to purchase. For just $15.99 a pound (3X the price of the modest tilapia), I was the proud owner of halibut – the Lexus of fish. I took it home and prepared with some black bean and mango salsa, a Deena original I like to whip out once it gets warm. I started out by brushing the fish with some olive oil and lemon juice, salt and pepper, and cooked in on the panini press:

halibut, being pressed

My friend Becca was talking about how professionals always wrap their paninis in aluminum foil before pressing, and how this would lend to a much less frustrating cleanup. I wish I could take credit, but she was the motivation for me deciding to forgo grill marks for the best cleanup of my life. The end result was fish that turned out all kinds of tender, because it behaved as if it were being steamed rather than grilled. Delicious.

Ingredients:

1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed

1 mango, chopped

1/4 red onion, chopped

1/2 avocado, chopped

1 handful of cilantro, chopped

lime juice to taste

I mixed together all ingredients and seasoned with the lime juice, salt and pepper. The end result unnaturally jacked up my grocery bill,  so I also made a dirt cheap Green Pea Soup with Tarragon recipe I found on the Epicurious app.

halibut with fruit salsa

Ingredients:

2 16 oz bags of frozen peas

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1.5 c of sliced shallots

4 c vegetable broth

3 tbsp tarragon

plain nonfat yogurt

I made the recipe by the book, except they wanted me to add pea sprouts to the top and I figured we could do without. You start by heating the olive oil in a large saucepan, and throw the shallots in. I had one shallot, some red onion and a few green onions — the poor man’s version of the building blocks for soup — so I chopped all of the above and tossed those in. You cook for about 7 minutes, and then add all but one cup of the peas to the pan along with the veggie stock and 2 tbsp of tarragon. Bring it to a boil, and then reduce to simmer for about 7 minutes. Then, the recipe instructed me to puree, so I did as told with my immersion blender, arguably my favorite kitchen tool ever. Once pureed, you add the remaining tbsp of tarragon, some pepper, and then ladle into bowls. Microwave the peas for a minute, and top the soup with a few of those and a drizzle of yogurt. It was seriously so sweet and amazing. I’m pretty sure I had three bowls the first night, and that was with my self control in place.

On the sweaty side, I’ve held true to my promise for more yoga, and have started going at least twice a week. Hello, dedication. The downside, of course, is I’ve started talking in cult-like yogi terms. “There’s one long line of energy in Warrior 2, and you can really feel it. And you want to open up your heart in your bind, you know?” This rarely seems applicable when I work it into daily conversation, yet somehow I do. After two weeks of yoga and half-assed aerobic exercise, I’ve come to the conclusion that yoga can only be a part of my life when I’m still hitting the gym on the daily. It’s really the only way to get ride of those 10 peanut butter pounds I’ve accumulated, especially since I’m still eating massive amounts of reduced-fat Skippy while trying to lose the fruits (back fat, etc.) of its predecessor’s labor. I have future plans to start dancing again, so stay tuned re: that.

Anyways, see below for my delicious pea soup:

Green Pea with Tarragon Soup

25
Nov
09

shrimp tacos.

I’m leaving on a jet(Blue) plane first thing tomorrow morning, so cue a straight week of eating my face off and watching 19+ hours of “Days of Our Lives.” It happens. I’ll try and work in the occasional lake run, but I can’t make any promises. Until then, I’d like to live off my recent accomplishments. Indulge me.

To begin with, I’ve been running every single day. I look like her, except turn the intensity waayyy down. runningI’m all for rock running, but I’ve been sticking to my diluted version with the treadmill and some “Lady Gaga” on Pandora. I cut out the elliptical for good, which seems a little finite considering how good it is to my knees. I’ve never been that impressed with the results, though, so for now it’s over between us. On Saturday, I ran two miles, and then I walked an entire mile by bringing the incline gradually up to 10, and then back down to one. Then, I ran two MORE miles. How serious am I? Not as serious as this girl, but I’m at least halfway there.

On the food front, I’ve been making delicious stuff lately that is just not so photogenic. I’m too honest and law abiding to superimpose one of Giada’s recipes on one of my plates, so I’ve decided to leave them out of this. One was pretty clever, though, so it’s a shame. My friend and I had brunch plans last Sunday, so I was up and doing my morning gymming when I got a text from that friend. He was all, “Can we do a cheap-ass diner instead?” which I read as “dinner,” and immediately started making my own brunch. Once I realized my mistake, I had an over easy egg just hanging out with nowhere to go. I tupperwared it and met my friend for brunch.

Later that night, I was considering making a carbonara to make use of my egg. I don’t eat bacon, I’m mostly off cheese, and the egg was already in a phase not compatible with carbonara, so I had to nix that idea. I made a pasta and my own sauce out of tomatoes, eggplant, mushrooms, onions and garlic, and at the last minute I threw the egg in there to heat it. I ended up eating it altogether, and it was pretty amazing. Seriously. Just not so pretty, so you’ll have to use your imagination.

I love a good taco, so I decided to make some shrimp tacos on Monday. I started with some pre-cooked and frozen shrimp, which I ran water over and then heated with some butter. I toasted a low-carb wrap (obvs), and then heated some black beans alongside my shrimpies. I have this delicious corn-chile salsa from TJ’s, so that became a pretty serious part of the meal. On the side, I chopped tomatoes and fresh cilantro. Not only were they delicious (roommate-approved!), but they’re so easy on the eyes. See below:

shrimp taco

27
Oct
09

pumpkin polenta soup/squash polenta soup.

Winter squashes terrify me, but in an exciting way. I like to circle them slowly, taking it all in, and then I start the no holds barred grab-assing, if you will. Last weekend involved me, the farmer’s market, like 19 varieties of squash, and that scenario I just recounted. I chose three different kinds and stepped up to the cashier forcing a familiar, almost bored expression. The farmer would have believed I knew my shit if I hadn’t tried to buy the decorative autumn corn to eat:just for show

That destroyed my credibility pretty fast. I took my squashes home with very little clue how I’d enjoy them. I started my gourd discovery in a small way, by using the leftover pumpkin from the prior week. I decided to make a soup I may or may not be stealing from Rachel Ray. I’m pretty sure I added my own touch where the spices are concerned, though, so I feel comfortable taking credit.

I started by cutting the pumpkin into chunks and throwing them in the food processor with two peeled and chopped carrots. I then added a third of a tube of cooked polenta, which is the ultimate poor man’s food. I added some spices in the way of nutmeg, cinnamon and chili powder, and I added about 3/4 cup of water to the processor. I pulsed them all together until they got nice and pasty.

Meanwhile, I cut a shallot, some spinach, a little cumin, and a can of black beans, and I heated them all in a skillet with some extra virgin olive oil. The goal of that was wilty spinach and soft shallots, and I think I accomplished it.

I heated about 4 cups of vegetable stock with about a a tablespoon of butter in a giant pot, and then I dropped the whole pasty pumpkin-polenta-carrot mix inside. Once I stirred for 5-10 minutes, everything was incorporated. I served the soup with the bean and spinach mix on top, and it was so filling and delicious. See below for Rachel’s and my love child:

pumpkin polenta soup with black beans and spinach on top

The soup lasted three nights of so, and for round two I tried it with this fancy looking squash:fancy winter squash

 

 

 

 

 

 

I prepared it pretty similarly, with two chopped carrots, a third tube of polenta, and plenty of seasonings. I’m not sure if this squash is, like, a non-ripened pumpkin in drag, but it didn’t have much flavor on its own. I was forced to pick up the slack by adding brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in larger amounts. I also pulsed it all with water, and then I added the whole mix to the heated veggie stock and butter.

I took a page from the Giada school by adding a little triple cream brie to the top ($1.99, thanks cheese shop), so the end result was much more dessert-y and sweet than the previous soup. If I had foresight of any kind, I would have swapped the pumpkin with the draggy squash in the two different recipes. It was pretty great anyways, though:

squash polenta soup topped with triple cream brie

19
Oct
09

black bean and pumpkin burger and cumin fries.

I’m getting into a phase in which I’m, like, herb-obsessed. For a while I strayed away from all things stemmy, mostly because I was born sans-green thumb and they make me feel morally inferior. I know “morally” is a stretch, because I can’t recall the last time I saw basil give back to the community, and I don’t think that’s even expected of the greater herb population. In any event, it took me years to discover salt and pepper, and so naturally basil, thyme and rosemary took longer to pique my interest.

Though I can get away with the casual purchase of fresh basil or cilantro, I scare too easily to step out of that comfort zone. In the name of penny pinching and unspoiled herbs, I’ve decided to start small with the dried herbs at my disposal.

I bought these adorable mini pumpkins at TJ’s to break the seal:

baby pumpkins

baby pumpkins

Cue the six month obsession. For my first pumpkin-fueled recipe of the season, I decided to make black bean and pumpkin burgers with oven baked fries. Though I looked up a few recipes for inspiration, the end result was original(ish).

It started easy, with a can of black beans which I rinsed and drained and tossed in a food processor. DONE. Then came the pumpkin cutting, which, though I was armed with a super sharp knife (I have battle scars), was pretty damn unpleasant. Pumpkins, like, don’t want you inside. Luckily I’m stubborn, so I stuck with it until I separated all the innards (minus the seedy parts) from both mini-pumpkins. After that 20 minute ordeal, I added the pumpkins to the processor as well. I diced a red pepper for the mix, and then added about a teaspoon of chili powder, maybe 1/4 tsp of cinnamon, salt, pepper, one egg and a couple cups of bread crumbs. I blended until they were sculpt-worthy, and got to pan frying.

I heated a few tbsp of vegetable oil in a pan over medium-high heat and formed my mix into patties. Each patty took about 4-5 minutes on each side until they got black-ish, so on the side I started on my fries.

I had a few fingerlings left from my reduction, so I cut them into fry-like spears and tossed them in olive oil. I added some salt, pepper, and some cumin, which rarely gets any action from me. I haven’t been able to figure out why, though, because it’s no stranger to Indian and Mexican cuisines, and I enjoy both very much. I tossed them all in the toaster oven at 450 degrees for about 20 minutes. If I had foresight, I would have made them during my pumpkin gutting. Foresight is not my forte.

I toasted a kaiser roll and served one patty on it, not realizing how the monstrous roll would dwarf my hard work and make it look insignificant. I added some amazing deli mustard to the top along with a handful of arugula, and served it all alongside my fries. It was SO good, and for once I have proof. My roommate had one and backed up my claim! And it was pretty, too. See below:

black bean and veggie burger, cumin spiced fries

black bean and veggie burger, cumin spiced fries

05
Oct
09

stuffed tomatoes and breakfast tacos.

So I’ve been a little MIA as of late, and it’s not because I’ve been eating bland food and staying dry. Actually, I’ve been spicing it up daily and sweating profusely, but my computer decided to have un-resolvable issues and has prevented me from documenting my life away. I’ll try and condense anything notable from the past few weeks, but I’m kind of a talker so it’s a feat. Bear with me, por favor.

To begin with, I’ve fallen for the farmer’s market in my hood. Honestly, I think about it during the week and find any excuse to bring it up in daily conversation. It all started with these beautiful Beefsteak tomatoes I found a couple of weeks back:

beefsteaks

beefsteaks

I mean, that’s hot. I love TJ’s and all, but they never have tomatoes of this caliber. I’ve been wanting to make stuffed tomatoes since they were popular, so I started gathering some ingredients. Actually, I don’t think they’ve peaked quite yet. Their time will come.  

I started with basmati rice, which smells amaaazing while it cooks. I’m thinking of bottling and selling it as perfume, or maybe a home fragrance because that seems more socially acceptable for some reason. While that simmered, I pan fried a little diced eggplant in olive oil, cumin and curry powder.

The rice was done in about 30 minutes, so I mixed in the eggplant. I cut off the tops of my beefsteaks, and then gutted them completely. I filled both tomatoes with the rice and eggplant mix, and then topped them with breadcrumbs and some Manchego cheese.  

The original plan was to throw them both in the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes until they got all soft and…wanton? I’ve been looking for any excuse to use that word since Jude Law said it in “Hamlet” this past weekend, but you’d be surprised in how few conversations it makes sense. Therefore, the tomatoes were wanton, or they would have been if my oven was working. It wasn’t, so I turned to plan B: toaster oven. My beefsteaks proved too large for the mini-oven, so I last resort grilled them on the panini press. Weird but delicious. Behold the final result:

stuffed tomatoes with basmati rice & curried eggplant, topped with bread crumbs and Manchego cheese

stuffed tomatoes with basmati rice & curried eggplant, topped with bread crumbs and Manchego cheese

As far as the sweaty stuff goes, I got a free personal training session last week at my gym, which was kind of awesome/painful. My main lesson learned was that I loathe squat thrusts, although the name alone tells my quads they’re not interested. I told the trainer I pretty much do 20 minutes of cardio each time I gym it, and he suggested I up it to 30-45 at least twice a week. I get bored when doing one activity for such a long period of time, so I’m forced to distract myself. I did the elliptical for 45 minutes today while watching the Food Network. Typical.

Post-trainer time, I returned to my farmer’s market to reward myself. I have a lady hard-on for tomatoes these days (ha, gross), so I picked up a few non-traditional varieties including one orange and one green. I don’t know names. I then went through the hot pepper section and bought at least one of every variety, save the habaneros because I once had a habanero-to-the-eyes incident that I still haven’t fully recovered from. Anyways, my tomato and pepper situation looked like this:

local tomatoes and peppers

local tomatoes and peppers

I decided to make black bean and tomato tacos to begin with. I started with a can of black beans, which I drained and rinsed, and then tossed in a pan to warm. I toasted habanero-lime tortillas into taco shapes, and threw a little hot jack cheese up in there. I cut half an orange and half a green tomato, and half a serrano chile pepper. I mixed them all together as a makeshift salsa with some lime juice, salt and pepper. 

I threw the beans in with the toasted tacos, and then topped each with the salsa. They were delicious and fed me for three meals last week, but I much preferred the looks of the breakfast taco I created on Saturday with the remnants.

The preparation was completely the same, although I didn’t use any cheese and scrambled an egg with a little butter. To recap, it was a habanero lime tortilla filled with scrambled egg, black beans, and green and orange tomato salsa. SO amazing. See below:

 

breakfast taco with scrambled egg, black beans, and mixed tomato salsa with serrano chile pepper

breakfast taco with scrambled egg, black beans, and mixed tomato salsa with serrano chile pepper




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