Saturday, January 26, 2008

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili

This might be the most asked about dish I cook. Whenever I take the leftovers for lunch, my coworkers are peering at my food and begging for the recipe. This was one of the first thing I made when I decided we needed to be eating more vegetarian meals, and I was really uncertain about it that first night. I hadn't grown up eating a lot of beans, and had no solid idea of how I would like black beans. Turns out, I love beans and I love this recipe. Plus, it's easy to cook. My friend M was kind enough to share the recipe with me, and to allow me to share it with you.


2 T olive oil
1 large onion chopped
2-3 cloves garlic
1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
1 jalapeno minced (optional)
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground coriander (optional)
1 C frozen corn
1 tsp salt
2 15oz cans of black beans rinsed and drained

optional toppings: grated cheddar cheese, fresh chopped tomatoes, fresh chopped scallion, sour cream

1. In a large pan with a lid, heat the olive oil and saute the onions and garlic until soft.
2. Add the sweet potato, cover, and cook on low for 3 minutes.
3. Add the jalapeno, coriander, cumin, salt, and cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes. Stir and flip the potatoes. Cover and cook on low for 3 more minutes.
4. Add the frozen corn and black beans. Stir, cover, and cook for 10-15 minutes. Stir occasionally to make sure it's not sticking.
5. Eat a potato to see if they are soft. If not, add a splash of water, cover, and continue cooking until they are.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Baked Shells and Sausage

Growing up, my mother was generally home around 4 o'clock. I'd sit with her in the kitchen when she made dinner, and I'd stir the onions. When I got to high school, she started to have meetings after work. Important meetings. That ran late. And so one night, she called and told me I'd just have to make dinner. I had never made dinner. I could bake, but my real-food experience was, well, zip. I couldn't scramble an egg, or make mac and cheese from a box or anything. I'd watched a million times, but never had to do it. So did she take pity on me, and pick a nice, easy recipe to start? No, she started me in grand style, with this cheesy baked pasta. Of course, it must not have traumatized me too much, since I'm still making it.


1 lb Italian sausage
sauce (see below or use a recipe of your own)
3/4 lb - 1 lb grated mozzarella
1/3 C grated Parmesan
1 lb package of medium shells

INGREDIENTS AND DIRECTIONS FOR THE SAUCE (Or hey, used jarred sauce, I'm not my mother, I'm not perfect!)

1/2 C chopped onion
2 cloves minced garlic
1 tsp dried oregano
1 (28 oz) can of Italian plum tomatoes

Saute onion and garlic about 5 min. Chop up or crush tomatoes (removing icky bits), add to skillet with oregano salt and pepper. Cook about 20 minutes or until a lot of the moisture evaporates.


Cook sausage til brown. Drain well. Slice into disks. After cooking sauce (or pouring jarred sauce in pan), add sausage to warm sauce. Cook pasta (a few minutes less than the package recommends), drain. In a greased casserole dish,(maybe a 2 qt?) layer half the pasta, then half the sauce with sausage, then half the cheeses. You should get two layers.

Bake at 350 F for 35-40 min.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Always take a picture.

Generally, this is my motto. Food is more interesting and engaging when you can look at it. Also, I don't often know in advance what I'm going to tell you about. So I take the picture before we eat and decide what to do later. Sometimes, though, something comes up. Tonight something turned out to be me barehanding the handle of a pan that had just come out of a 350 degree oven. The time I normally would spend arranging food and taking pictures was filled with ice and soft whimpering. And of course, as life would have it, dinner was delicious. And I have nothing to show for it.

I adapted a recipe for a Tortilla, which incidently is just about the same thing as a frittata - who knew?, and made a bread salad to go with it.

adapted from my new toy, Best of the Best
1/4 C olive oil
2 medium boiling potatoes, peeled and cut in a 1/4 inch dice
1 small onion diced
1 clove garlic minced
7-8 eggs
1/3 c shredded gruyere cheese
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees farenheit.
Pour the olive oil in a ovenproof non-stick skillet. Allow the oil to get hot. Add the potatoes and cook over medium heat for 12 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add salt and pepper to taste, add onion and garlic and cook another until onion is translucent.

Whisk the eggs together with a pinch of salt and then add the shredded gruyere. Pour into the skillet over the potatoes just until the bottom begins to set, then use the spatula to pull back the egg and tip the skillet to let the raw egg fill in the empty spaces. Allow to cook about 3 minutes until it's set.

Pop the pan in the oven and cook for 7 minutes at 350.

1 package of white mushrooms, sliced
2 T vermouth or dry white wine
1 T butter
2-3 t fresh thyme
salt and pepper
Add the butter and a smidge of oil to the pan. Add the mushrooms. Cook until the mushrooms are tender. Add salt and pepper and the vermouth. Cook for a minute and let the alcohol burn off. Add the thyme and then serve over the tortilla.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Mashed Potato Pancake

I was not a breakfast person. Over the years, I've gotten a bit better about that, but growing up, I really didn't want anything to do with it. It drove my mother crazy. You see, I was a very skinny child, and she wanted to take advantage of every possible meal to cram me full of calories, in hopes that I would put on some weight. And so, she developed things to tempt me, things I could not refuse, like the mashed potato pancake. It's so delicious, that now, I try to make sure I have enough leftovers just so I can make myself a mashed potato pancake. Notice how I said myself. I haven't ever made one for my husband. I let him take a bite every once in awhile, but I don't really share. You won't want to either.

Mashed Potato Pancake (Breakfast for One)
1 C leftover mashed potatoes
1 egg
1/2 C loosely packed grated cheddar cheese
1 T butter
salt and pepper (optional)
Using a large sturdy fork, mash the egg into the potatoes until thoroughly incorportated. Add the grated cheese and mix well. I don't usually use salt and pepper, because I've seasoned my mashed potatoes when I first made them, but if yours are plain, please add salt and pepper as you please. Melt the butter in a medium skillet on low heat. Turn the heat up to medium-high and add the potato mixture. Using a spatula, smooth it down and out so that it resembles a pancake, but not too thin. Cook on medium-high heat for 4-5 minutes or until browned. Using the largest sturdiest spatula you have, try to flip it. No worries if it all comes apart, it still tastes yummy. Cook the second side for 3-4 minutes. Slide onto a plate, and enjoy.


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