Saturday, May 19, 2012

Black Beans and Rice with Chicken and Apple Salsa

Recipe #92:
Whew! This recipe title is really long, but don't let that deter you from trying it. The first 7 times I looked at this recipe, I got tired just thinking about how much work it would be. My brain said, "Oh, there's about 4 different parts to this one - WAY too much work!", but eventually, I figured I would give it a shot.

As usual, my version had a couple of variations:
-I used up the bit of red onion that I had on hand from a previous recipe, but it wasn't exactly 1/3 cup. It was more like 1/3 of an onion. I didn't put any of it in the salsa because raw onion is beyond disgusting so it all went in with the beans.
-We didn't have any green bell pepper so I used up the approx. 1/3 of an orange pepper that I already had.
-Our garlic was getting a little long in the tooth so I used about 6 cloves of it to make up for the age factor.
-It turned out we didn't actually have any chili pepper so I used paprika instead.
-The broth was a mash-up of chicken and vegetable broth: about half and half. I intended to use up the beef broth I had in the fridge, but nixed that idea after a cursory sniff. Did you know broth can go mouldy?
-The cans of beans were 19 oz, not 15 oz. The more, the merrier!
-No kosher salt in this house. In fact, I'm not even sure if I added any salt, now that I think about it...
-The rice was mostly a mixture of wild & brown rice that I bought at a bulk food store with the remainder made up of brown jasmine rice (about 1/4 cup?).
-I'm too cheap for rotisserie chicken so I just bought two boneless, skinless chicken breasts and cooked them in a frying pan.
-I didn't use any lime wedges for garnish, just half a lime worth of juice in the salsa and a bit in the bean mixture.

Each section was pretty ok to do, but as usual, I tend to struggle with juggling more than one section at once. The rice was fine - I cooked it in the microwave for the first time with better success than I've had cooking it on the stove. The chicken was easy, as long as I kept an eye on it. The only issue I had with the salsa was trying to convince the stupid cilantro to stay in the bowl with the apple and stop sticking to my spoon/hand/counter/bowl instead. Rather infuriating, actually. I kept finding cilantro everywhere. I had trouble getting the bean mixture to thicken so I ended up having to drain off some of the liquid even after allowing extra time for it to boil off. Mashing more beans didn't even seem to help. The final result was acceptable, but it did take longer than expected so keep that in mind if it happens to you.

In the end, I was pleased with the result, and doubly pleased when the Meatatarian announced that he liked it (completely unprompted by me). It's always a bit of a gamble to get him to eat meatless dishes, but he was quite keen on this one. The different flavours of the different parts of the meal seemed to compliment one another well. I was pleased to be eating the leftovers the next day.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Sweet Potato and Kale Stew

Recipe #91: 15 ml (1 tbsp) extra virgin olive oil
1/2 small red onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
125 ml (1/2 cup) diced red bell pepper
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2.5-cm (1 inch) cubes
1 ml (1/4 tsp) red pepper flakes
5 ml (1 tsp) smoked paprika
1 ml (1/4 tsp) sea salt
1 bay leaf
625 ml (2.5 cups) fat-free, low-sodium vegetable stock
250 ml (1 cup) rinsed, chopped and loosely packed kale

In a small skillet, heat oil; saute onion, garlic and bell pepper over medium heat until tender, about 10 minutes. Add to slow cooker with remaining ingredients, except kale. Cover and cook on Low for 6-8 hours.

Add kale during the last 10 minutes of cooking time and let wilt. Remove bay leaf and serve.
Makes 11 servings, each 125 ml (1/2 cup).

Nutritional info/serving: 43 calories; 1 g total fat; 7 g carbohydrates; 1 g protein; 1 g dietary fibre; 108 mg sodium.
Soooo, I just realized my last post was in January.... Yep, it was a nasty semester and I got a bit burnt out. I'm working two jobs again this summer (one to fulfill Practicum 2), but at the moment, I have some extra time so I thought I'd try to get back on the cooking bandwagon.

My mom could probably tell you I haven't been much of a sweet potato/yam fan for the latter part of my life (rumour has it she fed them to me when I was small), but in the interest of expanding my food horizons and improving my nutrition, I decided to try this recipe. Somehow, gross vegetables like sweet potatoes, onions and peppers seem slightly more palatable in stew/soup form than in a lump on my plate.

For the most part, I didn't make too many alterations with this recipe. The store didn't have any red pepper left so I bought an orange one. The garlic is getting a little um, mature, so I added an extra clove to make up for that. I don't think I cut the stupid dense yams into 1 inch cubes per se, but I cut them up into bite-sized pieces. I'm using up the normal paprika for now, and the sea salt was just regular salt because I couldn't find the sea salt that I could have sworn was in the cupboard yesterday... I added two cups of kale for extra nutrition, in case you care.

This recipe is pretty simple to make, once you chop the bloody sweet potato to make sure it will all fit in your wee little slow cooker. I left it on low for about 6 hours, and it was ready to go when I got home. All I had to do was add the kale for 10 minutes, and presto! It's a bit on the sweet side for me, and the kale is kind of crunchy (next time, I'll remove the middle stem part and just add the leaves), but it's a hot, nutritious lunch to come home to after an intense gym workout that I will surely be paying for in the morning....