Monday, May 11, 2009

Black Bean Salsa

Two weeks ago I was able to attend one of my great friend's bridal showers in the Arbor. Amidst the endless variety of food, I found this delicious salsa that I absolutely loved! It's chunky and fresh and oh so healthy! Caitlin shared the recipe with me and even if you can't boil water you can make this salsa!

1/2 C. Italian Dressing
1 (14 oz) can corn, drained
1 (14 oz) can black beans, drained & rinsed
1 (14 oz) can Rotel (or off brand) diced tomatoes with green chilis
chopped onion, to taste
1 Tbsp dried cilantro
OR 3 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro (go fresh! This was my first time using the's great!)
2 cloves garlic, minced

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and serve with tortilla chips.

Burgers with Garlic-Black Pepper-Parmesan Sauce

Once again, I followed through on Rachael Ray's "What's For Dinner Tonight."  I am providing you all with the full recipe but you must know that I whipped this up rather last minute and didn't have time to roast the tomatoes and because I prepared the sauce from memory I forgot completely about the balmasic drizzle.  However, the garlic sauce turned out beautifully--much like an alfredo sauce.  Mmmm. :)  

2 vine-ripened tomatoes (for four burgers), sliced about 1/4-inch thick

4 tablespoons EVOO – Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided

Salt and ground black pepper

2 pounds coarsely ground sirloin (or any ground meat of your choice. And I only use 1 lb for four burgers.  RR goes a little overboard in my opinion.)

3 tablespoons butter

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped or grated

2 tablespoons flour

1 cup milk

1/2 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

4 Kaiser rolls, toasted

1 head red leaf romaine lettuce, shredded

8 to 10 leaves basil, thinly sliced, for garnish

1/4 cup balsamic drizzle

Preheat oven to 325ºF.


Arrange tomato slices on a screen set over a sheet pan and drizzle with about 2 tablespoons EVOO, some salt and pepper. Roast the tomatoes until tender and caramelized, about an hour. Reserve.


When the tomatoes are ready, place a large skillet over medium-high heat with 2 turns of the pan of EVOO, about 2 tablespoons. While the pan is heating up, combine the sirloin with some salt and pepper, and form into 4 patties. Cook the patties in the hot skillet until seared and cooked through, about 6 minutes per side.

While the patties are cooking, place a small pot over medium-high heat with the butter. Add the garlic to the melted butter and cook for about 1 minute. Add the flour to the pan and cook for about 1 minute. Whisk the milk into the butter-flour mixture and bring up to a bubble. Simmer until the sauce has thickened, about 2 minutes. Season with salt, lots of pepper (about 1 teaspoon) and stir in the cheese. Reserve the sauce warm.


When the burgers are ready, assemble them by placing some lettuce on the bun bottoms and topping it with a burger patty, some Parmigiano sauce, a couple of roasted tomatoes, some basil and balsamic drizzle.

 P.S. check out the gorgeously ripe strawberries.  Oh, and the bun is the Honey Wheat Roll recipe. 

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Black Bean Salsa Chicken

Tonight I had a plan for dinner but I just wasn't feeling it.  Ever have those nights?  Well, Kevin and I brainstormed via cell phones and came up with a few....general...ideas.  I took some of those thoughts and ran with it.  I created Black Bean Salsa Chicken.  Now, in case you didn't realize this about me before (which you most likely didn't because all my shared recipe are very precise), I cook in a very experiential way.  I read through a recipe.  Then I make rather subconcious decisions to alter this and that to my liking and/or to agree with the ingredients I have on hand.  So, to be honest, most of the savory (that is, not sweet) recipes I post are probably not exactly what I created in my kitchen.  But believe me, it'll be just as (if not more) tasty. :D  Anyways...all that to say, feel free to tweak this (and any) recipe to your liking.  

2--4oz. boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 cup salsa (your favorite!)
1/3 of a 15 oz. can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 Tbsp. chopped jalapenos

2-4 cups cooked rice

Preheat oven to 375.  Using cooking spray grease an 8x8 cooking dish and place chicken breasts inside.  Combine salsa, black beans and jalapenos (and any other additions you choose to make--corn, tomatoes, green peppers, onions, etc) and pour down over the chicken.  Bake for 25 minutes or until juices run clear.  While chicken is baking, prepare rice according to directions.  Serve chicken on a bed of rice with a side of black beans, if desired (that is, if you like beans as much as I do.) 

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Eggplant Lasagna

Being of Italian descent (a proud 25% thank you very much) I have cravings for all things topped with tomato or alfredo sauce and cheese.  Most of the time, unfortunately for me, these "things" include a variety of pastas which are like ingesting a little poison for my gluten intolerant digestive system.  All that said...when I saw my good friend, Rachael Ray, prepare Eggplant Lasagna on her daily "What's for dinner tonight" segment, I knew I had to try it!  

I have never worked with eggplant before and may or may not have tasted it previously, but I set out to my favorite market and picked up a shiny little eggplant at $0.82.  This afternoon, I printed out Rachael's recipe and went to town...with a few tweaks of my own of course.  These are noted here as well as in the list of ingredients:

-instead of preparing the tomato sauce from scratch I used my favorite variety of jar sauce (which I purchase only when on sale for $1.00.)  If you choose to do the same, you can eliminate the EVOO, onion, garlic, tomatoes, cinnamon stick, salt and pepper. 

-Also, keep in mind that the precise layering of ingredients is not a science.  Layer as you desire.


4 tablespoons EVOO – Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 28-ounce can whole plum tomatoes, such as San Marzano

1 cinnamon stick

Salt and ground black pepper

5 to 6 leaves fresh basil, torn (-I didn't have fresh basil on hand so I just sprinkled dry basil on the top of the dish for garnish.)

4 medium eggplants, thinly sliced (-Instead of 4 medium eggplant, I used only one and made an 8x8 casserole dish full.)  

2 cups ricotta cheese (-my favorite store--Aldi--did not have ricotta cheese for sale, so I substitued cottage cheese and it worked wonderfully.  And it was low fat to boot!)

1 1/2 cups grated Parmigiano Reggiano, divided

2 egg yolks (-1 whole egg worked fine in place of the 2 egg yolks. )

2 1-pound balls smoked fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced

Basil, for garnish


Preheat oven to 375ºF and preheat a grill to medium-high.

Place a medium pot over medium-high heat with 2 turns of the pan of EVOO, about 2 tablespoons. Add the onion and garlic to the pan, and cook until tender, 3-4 minutes. Add the tomatoes to the pan and break them up with a wooden spoon or potato masher. Add the cinnamon stick, salt, pepper and the basil to the pan, and simmer the sauce until thickened and aromatic, about 10 minutes.

While the sauce is simmering, brush the eggplant slices with the remaining EVOO and grill them until marked and tender, about 5 minutes per side.

Meanwhile, combine the ricotta, 1 cup Parmigiano Reggiano and egg yolks together in a medium bowl. Reserve.

When everything is ready, spread a thin layer of sauce over the bottom of a baking dish. Top with a layer of eggplant slices and spread half of the ricotta mixture over the eggplant. Top with another layer of eggplant and layer one third of the mozzarella over the eggplant. Top with some sauce and then more eggplant. Spread the remaining half of the ricotta mixture and top with another layer of eggplant. Top with another third of the mozzarella and sauce, and then with the remaining eggplant. Scatter the remaining mozzarella over top and sprinkle with the remaining grated cheese. Transfer the casserole to a baking sheet (in case it bubbles over) and bake until golden brown and bubbly, about 45 minutes. Garnish with basil and serve.


Friday, May 1, 2009

Banana Peanut Butter Granola

This recipe is, once again, compliments of: Annie's Eats.  <--For a fabulous photo click that link.  I have had this on my "to do" list all week (or maybe longer) and I'm so glad I finally got in the kitchen to try it.  Now, I must explain that it wasn't so much a lack desire or a fear of failure that kept me from this recipe, but between being sick and baking up a sandwich roll and cookie storm (see previous posts), I just didn't have time or energy.  

But just so you know, this was extremely quick to throw together.  Just be sure that you keep a watchful eye over the granola as it cooks--you don't want it to burn!  Follow the directions carefully. :D   


Note from the 2nd time through this recipe:  I found that the honey was a rather unnecessary addition of sugar.  I keep with the smallest amount of pea. butter as possible--in fact I just toss in a couple spoonfuls that equal approximately 1/3 cup.  1/4 cup brown sugar was more than sufficient.  And I left out the banana chips, chocolate, and peanuts.



3 1/2 cups rolled oats
2 1/2 cups puffed rice cereal
2 tbsp. honey (optional)
1/3 cup applesauce
1/3 cup mashed bananas
1/3-1/2 cup creamy peanut butter, warmed slightly
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/3 cup brown sugar (1/4 cup is sufficient for my taste)
1-1 1/2 cups dried banana chips, optional
1/2 cup honey roasted peanuts, optional
3-4 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped, optional

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine the rolled oats and puffed rice cereal.  In a medium bowl, whisk together the  honey, applesauce, mashed banana, peanut butter, salt, cinnamon and brown sugar until smooth.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir with a rubber spatula until the oat mixture is evenly coated.  Spread onto the prepared baking sheet in a thick even layer.

Bake for 30 minutes.  Then, using a large spatula, turn the granola over in segments.  Bake for an additional 15 minutes.  Depending on the size of your baking sheet, the center may not be fully dried.  If necessary, remove the edges of cooked granola and bake the remaining granola for 10-15 minutes more or until done, being careful not to over-bake.  Cool on a wire rack.

Once the granola has cooled, crumble it into a large bowl or plastic bag.  Add in the dried banana chips, honey roasted peanuts and bittersweet chocolate, if using.  Mix well to combine.  Store in an airtight container.