Yam and Black Bean Tacos

Monday, January 31, 2011

No, trust me. They’re good. This coming from someone who eats a whole lot of the more traditional version of this dish. 

Side note: whoever invented Taco Tuesdays should win the Nobel Peace Prize.



Yam and Black Bean Tacos

3 sweet potatoes, cut into 1” cubes

2 Tb olive oil

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1/2 Tb cumin

1 tsp chili powder

1 14-oz can black beans

1 cup fresh cilantro, coarsely chopped

corn tortillas

Cilantro sour cream (see recipe below)

Heat olive oil on medium heat in sauté pan. Cook garlic for about 30 seconds, then add chopped sweet potato. Cook for five minutes, then add in black beans, cumin and chili powder. Season with salt and pepper, if desired.

Warm corn tortillas in a dry sauté pan or in the microwave. Top tacos with fresh cilantro and cilantro sour cream.

Cilantro Sour Cream

This is pretty easy. Don’t hurt yourself.

1 cup sour cream

1 cup cilantro

Blend in food processor. Lick bowl.

What a Crock.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


In my years (what, like, 5 maybe?) of cooking, I’ve tended to snub the crock pot. Or, “slow cooker” is the new, politically correct term for it these days, I guess. Visions of pot roasts (haven’t warmed up to those yet), sticky stews and weird oatmeals have turned me off to this machine.

Now I think that maybe Baby Jesus sent his angels down in the form of crock pots. There’s no other explanation for something that takes a bunch of ingredients, sends you on your merry way for hours on end and cooks your dinner while you’re gone. It’s a dang Christmas miracle.

 I should warn that this particular slow cooker recipe takes a bit more work than the usual, “stick that there chicken in with some salsa and you got yourself a dandy meal.” But stick with me.


Meatballs in Tomato Wine Sauce

adapted from Not Your Mother’s Slow Cooker Recipes

For the sauce:

2 TB olive oil

1 large yellow onion, finely chopped

2-3 cloves garlic

1/4 cup dry red wine

One 28-oz can diced tomatoes, with juice

One 6-oz can tomato paste

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 tsp minced fresh basil

1 tsp minced fresh oregano

1/4 tsp ground allspice

1 bay leaf

2 Tb minced fresh parsleyIMG_0829

For the meatballs

1.5 lbs lean ground beef

1 cup plain dry bread crumbs

2 large eggs

3 Tb freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

1 tsp minced fresh basil

3/4 tsp minced fresh oregano

1/4 cup minced fresh parsley

dash of ground allspice

1.5 Tb olive oil

1/4 cup dry red wine


1. To prepare the sauce, heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring until softened but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add wine, bring to a boil and continue boiling for 1-2 minutes, scraping up any browned bits stuck to pan.

2. Transfer to the slow cooker. Add tomatoes, tomato paste, salt, pepper, basil, oregano, parsley, allspice and bay leaf and stir to combine. Cover and cook on HIGH while you prepare meatballs.

3. To prepare the meatballs, put the ground beef in a large bowl, breaking it up a bit with your fingers or a large fork. Add bread crumbs, eggs, Parmesan, salt, pepper, basil, oregano, parsley and allspice. Gently but thoroughly blend the ingredients, using your hands or a large fork. Be careful not to compact the meat, which will make your meatballs tough. Gently shape the mixture into 12 meatballs.

4. Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add meatballs and brown on all sides, turning carefully, 6 to 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer them to the sauce. Pour off any fat from the skillet, return to the stove and add wine. Cook over high heat for 2-3 minutes. Pour over meatballs. Cook on LOW for 5-6 hours. Remove bay leaf and serve over pasta.


Bolognese – Light & Quick

Friday, January 21, 2011

“Oh, my God. I found a magazine full of fatty sauce recipes that don’t have as much fat! We can eat     all the damn fettuccine alfredo and bolognese we want!”

So said my coworker (and friend) Kiana one cold, blustery day at the office. My response? “Dude. I’m in.”

And that’s how Kiana and I spent a cozy Thursday night, eating fabulous meat sauce, cramming our faces with cupcakes and figuring out what to wear for our next night out.

Which is, like, weeks from now, but you can never plan too far ahead to look your best, right?


Lazy Bolognese (it’s ok if I call it that,

right, Kiks?)

Makes about 8 servings

What you’ll need:

1 Tb canola oil

1 lb. ground turkey

8 oz. Italian turkey sausage

1/2 cup diced onion

1/2 cup diced carrot

1/2 cup diced celery

1 Tb minced garlic

1 cup 2 % cottage cheese

1/4 cup tomato paste

1-28 oz can diced tomatoes in juice

1 cup dry red wine (plus the rest of the bottle for drinky)

2 Tb balsamic vinegar

1 tsp each of dried oregano and basil

1/2 tsp each kosher salt and red pepper flakes

1/2 cup cream cheese

1 cup chopped fresh parsley

Heat oil in a large saute pan over medium high heat. Add turkey breast and sausage and cook until browned.

Process onion, carrot, celery and garlic in a fod processor until minced; add to browned meat. Cook vegetables until softened, 5 minutes. Process cottage cheese in food processor until smooth, 2 minutes; stir into meat mixture in saute pan.

Stir in tomato paste, cook 1 minute. Add tomatoes, wine, vinegar, oregano, basil, salt and pepper flakes. Reduce heat to medium low; simmer 40-45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add cream cheese, stirring until melted, then stir in parsley.

Shrimp Stir Fry

Monday, January 17, 2011

This isn’t your typical stir fry. It’s filled with fresh vegetables and accompanied by wine. But IMG_0441 let’s be honest, most of my dinners are accompanied by wine; unfortunately, “I Pray to Pinot Grigio” isn’t quite as catchy.

I use brown rice as a base, but this stir fry is perfection on it’s own, or you could even go as far as putting it on top of couscous or whatever ancient grain strikes your fancy.


Shrimp Stir Fry

2 Tb butter (just do it.)

2 Tb olive oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

10-12 jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 ear of corn, with kernels cut off

1 red bell pepper

4 radishes, sliced

1 cup black beans (canned)

2 Tb fresh parsley, chopped


1. Heat 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add minced garlic. When oil/butter is hot, add shrimp and cook for 3 minutes. Remove to a plate. Do not clean skillet.

2. Add the rest of the butter and oil and heat over medium heat. Add bell pepper slices in a single layer and cook for one minute, tossing once. Shift bell pepper to the edges of the pan, then add corn kernels to the middle of the pan. Cook for one minute. Add radishes, salt, and pepper, and beans and toss around, then add shrimp. Cook for an additional 30 seconds, then remove from heat. Serve over brown rice if preferred.

Oh, Snap

Thursday, January 13, 2011

I have a hard time referring to these cookies as “snaps.” They don’t snap. In fact, they are

Snap1deliciously chewy and quite possibly the best gingerbread cookie out there for that very  reason. And they stay soft for more than a day which, if you ask me, is a feat not many cookies can accomplish.

It’s still blustery out there (I have no right saying that. It's in the 40s here, which would probably feel like the Caribbean at this point to most of the rest of the country), so these sweet, spicy little buggers are still totally acceptable to nosh on.


If you’re wondering if this is worth buying molasses for, I would reply with a resounding “yes!” Plus, molasses lasts for, like, ever (“ever” to me being 6-8 months. Which could explain my issues with commitment. Hm.).


Chewy, Sugared Gingerbread Cookies. Oh, With White Chocolate. Why not?

makes about 2 dozen, adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod


1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup molasses

1 tablespoon canola oil

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/8 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

2 teaspoons ground cloves

1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 large eggs

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 cup white chocolate chunks

1 cup granulated sugar-for coating cookie dough balls. I added sprinkling sugar. I’m fun like that.

1. Preheat oven to Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment papers or with a silicone baking mat. Set aside.Snaps3

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugar until smooth and creamy.

3. Beat in the molasses, canola oil, vanilla, baking soda, salt, and spices. Mix until well combined.

4. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until smooth. Slowly add in the flour. Next, stir in the white chocolate chunks.

5. Scoop the dough into balls and roll in granulated sugar. Place on lined baking sheets, about two inches apart. Bake for 10 minutes, the cookies will still be soft. Remove from oven and let cookies cool on the baking sheet for five minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.

Ain’t that a (Side) Kick in the Head

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Green Beans with Shallots

Apparently I’m on a sides kick. Not to worry, main dishes will make a reappearance as soon as I stop going out to eat as much. I go through cooking phases like everyone else does and sometimes having someone else cook for me is diiiivine. But new shows like TLC’s Strange Addictions (eating laundry detergent, what the…?!) or another season of The Bachelor (I’ve been watching since 2001, and so what if that makes me proud) or screaming, “Oh em gee, I can totally do that!” while watching The Amazing Race means cooking and then enjoying food at home is back on the agenda.

This dish is a healthy side dish that packs a punch from the shallots that get caramelized and then a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.


Balsamic Green Beans and Shallots

What you’ll need (serves 3):

- 1 lbs fresh green beans

- 1 shallot, chopped

- 1 Tb olive oil

- Good balsamic vinegar *

- Salt, pepper


1. Blanch your beans. First, bring a pot of water to a boil, throw in the green beans for about 5 minutes, then transfer them immediately into a bowl of ice water.Calivirgin

2. Meanwhile, sauté the chopped shallot in olive oil in a saucepan. Drain your green beans and add them to the saucepan. Toss together with salt and pepper.

3. Transfer to a serving dish and drizzle with balsamic.

Calivirgin Products

* There are some pantry essentials that should be high quality. It is my firm belief that olive oil and balsamic vinegar are two of them; it can change the entire taste of your dish. While I don’t tend to promote goods on I Pray to Gouda and must emphasize that they didn't ask or pay me to do so, I stand behind Calivirgin products for olive oil and balsamic. I’m lucky enough that their products are made locally, but they are also easy to order online. Don’t trust me? Click here.

Try them out!

Garlic-Rubbed Bleu Cheese Focaccia

Monday, January 10, 2011

It doesn’t get much easier than this, folks. Especially since I’m not telling you to go make your own focaccia bread – nope, this is a delicious addition to a meal that will not only taste good, but looks gourmet.

Garlic-Rubbed Bleu Cheese Focaccia

What you’ll need:

- 2 TB extra virgin olive oil

- 1 loaf focaccia

- 1/2 cup bleu cheese crumbles

- 1 Tb chopped garlic clove

- 1/2 Tb chopped, fresh rosemary or basil

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Combine good quality olive oil and chopped garlic.

3. Brush the top of the bread with this mixture.

4. Tear small holes (about 1” across, 1/2” deep) into focaccia.

5. Stuff each hole with two to three individual cheese crumbles. Sprinkle chopped herbs over bread. Broil 8-10 minutes.

Life is Just a Bowl Full of Cranberries.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Cranberry Sauce

Some moments are sweet. Some are sour. But combined, you have a pretty good chance of maintaining a nice balance.

Holy shucks, that was sappy, no? But…shoot, I’d write that down if I were you. Before I figure out some genius already said it somewhere else.

This recipe was one I used on Thanksgiving, to give a more real food spin to the usual canned cranberry sauce. Now, I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t like that canned stuff. I ignore the fact that Ocean Spray straight up molded a berry into a gelatinous wonder, but I just can’t help it.

Whether you secretly adore the canned version, too, or simply think I’m crazy, I’d recommend you try this version this winter while they’re still in season.

P.S.: did you know these are called “bounceberries” because they bounce when ripe? I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to call them cranberries again.


Sugared Vanilla Bean Cranberries

- 2.5 cups sugar

- 1.5 cups water

- seeds scraped from one vanilla bean


1. First, you’re going to make a simple syrup. Bring your water and 2 cups of the sugar to a simmer over medium heat and stir until the sugar is fully dissolved.

2. During the simple syrup making process, put your cranberries into a heatproof dish. Pour the simple syrup over the top of the berries. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

3. The next day, pulse the remaining .5 cup sugar with the vanilla bean seeds in a food processor and then transfer to a shallow dish. Use a slotted spoon or colander to strain the cranberries. Then roll the cranberries in the sugar and spread on a parchment-covered baking sheet.

4. Let set for one hour, then serve!