February 26, 2011

Southwest Black Bean Burgers

Brrrr!  It has been snowing off and on here in Seattle since Wednesday.  The prediction was lots of snow this winter and I think this is our third time being hit.  Nothing compared to pretty much the rest of the country.  Everyone outside of Seattle aside, I have become a huge wimp for cold weather.  We have temps in the 30s now and I'm whining like a teenager.

What I really really want is comfort food.  Like lasagna, beef stew, mac and cheese, chicken noodle soup, red wine.  Yeah yeah I know the last one isn't a food but it definitely provides warmth and comfort.  In fact, I'm enjoying a glass right now on this snowy, cold evening!

Earlier this week I shared our menu for the week.  I stuck with EVERYTHING as planned and it rocked.  Turns out it was all what I consider comfort food.  Wednesday it snowed and I made pasta y fagioli (pasta with beans) and it was super yummy.  Watch for a future post.  Thursday I made these black bean burgers.  It was the second time I've made them and they really do not disappoint.  They are substantial and filling like a beef burger and have lots of great flavor.  I was able to make 8 burgers so what we didn't eat is in the freezer. They aren't super spicy, feel free to add a jalapeƱo or green chiles or more chili pepper to give it more heat.  I served it on toasted naan bread with sweet potato fries.

Southwest Black Bean Burgers
recipe from The Moosewood Restaurant Cooking for Health

2 tsp olive oil
1 cup onion chopped
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp cayenne or red chile powder (or fresh chile)
1 cup finely chopped mushrooms
1 cup finely chopped carrots
2-3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup orange juice (I took a tbsp of frozen oj and mixed with 1/4 cup water)
1 cup tortilla chips (couple handfuls of chips)
2 15 oz cans of black beans drained and rinsed
1 egg

Ok if you're reading this you saw a bunch of things get finely chopped.  This is a perfect time to bust out the food processor.  In fact, if you hardly ever pull your food processor and hate cooking that is precisely where you are going wrong.  I mean, it is only god's gift to cooks (that and the kitchenaide).

In food processor pulse the onions until diced (not soupy), put in large bowl.  Do the same with carrots, mushrooms, and garlic.   Heat large skillet over medium-high heat, add olive oil and onion when heated.  Stir and cook until onions start to soften.  Add spices and stir constantly for about 2-3 minutes.  Add the mushrooms through OJ to the skillet.  Lower the heat to medium, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes.

During this 8 minutes, rinse and dry the food processor container.  Pulse the tortilla chips until they are like coarse corn meal.  Add the beans and egg and pulse until the mixture is mashed well but still kind of chunky.  Put the bean mixture into the large bowl the onions were in.  Once the vegetable mixture is done cooking add it to the bean mixture and combine well.

Preheat oven to 375.  Shape into burgers and bake on lightly greased cookie sheet for 25 minutes.  They will be firm and lightly crusted.  This has to be the best black bean burger recipe I've come across!

February 23, 2011

Sunday Pizza: 02.20.2011

Ok truth.  I took exactly five pictures at Sunday pizza.  Two turned out so-so and I've included them cuz for grins.

In the pizza department we went back to our normal dough recipe and moved the pizza down to the lowest shelf in the oven and baked it on the pizza screen.  The picture above is the first pizza, onions, green peppers, and mushrooms.  The second one was much better, crunchy like you wouldn't believe and full of our homemade sausage.  Good stuff.  Success.

Why so few pictures you ask?  Well, Carolyn and Steve were over!  Carolyn is my bestie from college!  We met on the very first day when we were moving into the dorms (Go Illinois!)  I'm the youngest and she's the oldest so I was all excited to be there and she was kind of sad.  She lived right next to my room with the weirdest roomie in the world.  Mine was a close second.

Left Carolyn, right me
I'm all chatty so I introduce myself and she's kind of sad and I'm like, "Why are you sad?  This is only the greatest day of your entire life!  You're in college now!  We get to go out and have fun!"  Within months we both had IDs and were inseparable.  The rest is obnoxious history.  This picture is classic us... I'm all squinty and we're laughing uncontrollably.  Ok Carolyn is actually smiling cute.  Good times.  Usually I'm flipping off the camera so it was tough to find a good picture of us without the bird or one of us having really bad hair.  Plus, clearly whenever we are together the last thing we think about is taking pictures.

This year we have officially known each other half of our lives!  Crazy huh?  Love ya Car.  Come over anytime and laugh and eat pizza.  Let's get cute and take a picture though.

February 22, 2011

Herbed Risotto with Piperade

"I feel full after the Risotto."

Happy Prez Day!  Were you off today?  C and I were off and spent the morning with Z at IKEA.  It is quite the kid friendly place.  Some day we would LOVE to remodel our kitchen and checked out their cabinets and appliances etc.  It was fun but a kitchen remodel is a scary prop ya know.

Then we went to Bellevue's Goldberg's Deli for an early lunch.  Z had his first matzo ball.  It was a special moment.  He chowed!  It actually made me want to make my own batch cuz the matzo balls seemed heavier than I'm used to.  Still pretty tasty though.

My new vegetarian cookbooks have drool all over them by now.  I bought four books which I realized is three too many.  I have major recipe overload and couldn't decide what to make.  Combine that with a crazy busy project at work and here comes take out Chinese.  [Never a bad thing but still...] Friday night I sat my butt down and made a menu for the week and a grocery list.  Sunday I went shopping during Z's nap.  Here's the menu if you're interested:

Sun: Pizza (duh - stay tuned for post)
Mon: Herbed Risotto with Piperade 
Tues: Falafel with cucumber sauce
Wed: Bubbe evening with Z, I try to wokout  (wish me luck)
Thur: Black Bean burgers
Fri:  Dinner with Bubbe and Queen to celebrate Bubbe's bday (woo hoo!)

Tonight I made risotto.  This was my first attempt at risotto.  I'm a cooking show junkie and have seen shows where the person makes risotto and touts how easy it is to make.  The trick is you must have everything ready to go and the patience to stand over it and stir close to constantly for about 20 minutes.  Quite the commitment even for an avid cook.  

Risotto is made with Arborio rice and is wonderfully creamy.  The interesting thing about it is there isn't any cream or butter needed.  You can add some at the end but the starch from the rice is what makes it creamy.  Probably the cooking method too.  C found all this out and was on board [Not a cheese or cream guy].

The verdict?  The risotto was lovely!  I was ecstatic with how well it came out.  C and Z both ate seconds!  If you make this, which I highly recommend, prep all the ingredients before you start cooking.  Read through the directions a couple times, especially the risotto part, since the beginning is pretty fast.  btw - a Piperade is a pepper, onion, and tomato sauce from the Basque country.  To serve ladle some risotto into a bowl, make a well in it, and fill it with the Piperade.  Heaven!

Herbed Risotto with Piperade
Adapted from Vegetarian Planet

1 Tbsp Olive Oil
2 onions sliced
2 green bell peppers, cut into thin strips (julienne)
2 yellow, orange, or red peppers, cut into thin strips
4 cloves garlic minced
15 oz can of diced tomatoes drained
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

4 1/2 cups broth (I used low sodium organic chicken)
2 tsp olive oil
4 shallots minced 
1 1/2 cup Arborio rice (uncooked)
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese grated
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil  (makes the whole dish!)

Prep all ingredients then start Piperade first.  Once it is cooking for the 15 minutes then you can start the risotto if you are comfortable double-tasking.  Otherwise, just finish the Piperade and let it hang out while you make the risotto.

Preheat large skillet over medium heat.  If using non-stick add oil right away, if using stainless steel let skillet preheat and add oil right before adding the onions.  Saute onions until they soften then add the peppers and garlic.  Lower heat to Medium low and cook for 15 minutes, stir occasionally.  At this point you can start the risotto if you'd like.  After the 15 minutes add the tomatoes, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes if using.  You will make a lot and could almost halve this recipe.

In a pan bring the broth to a simmer and keep hot.  Put a ladle in the broth.  Preheat a medium sized pot over medium high heat.  Add oil and saute shallots for two minutes stirring constantly.  Add risotto and stir one minute.  Add white wine and 1/2 cup of warmed broth.  Stir.  I ended up turning the heat down to just warmer than medium to avoid burning.  When the liquid is mostly all absorbed add another 1/2 cup of broth, stir, add more broth when liquid is mostly absorbed.  Repeat until all the liquid is used.  It will take 18 to 20 minutes.  Risotto is done when all liquid is used and rice is tender but still slightly chewy.  Stir in pepper and Parmesan cheese.  Add all but 2 tablespoons of basil, stir.  

Mound risotto in bowl.  Use a ladle and make a well, ladle in piperade and sprinkle parm and basil.  Enjoy with the rest of the white wine you used for the risotto!

February 16, 2011

Sunday Pizza: 02.13.2011

Check it out!! That's C tossing dough!  Impressive.  2011 has already been a super busy year so we "scheduled" a quiet Sunday pizza.  Ah.  Bubbe Fran came over to see the Z-Man and be a guinea pig for our experiments.  Thanks Mom.

This week we made two changes.   Always risky since you can't always tell which change made the difference.  As a developer I always fall victim to this, I'll change  a couple things at once and introduce a new bug and not always know where to start.  Duh.  

We got this new pizza how-to cookbook and it made two suggestions we tried (among many others): use high gluten bread flour for the dough and use a pizza screen for a crisper crust.  The pizza was definitely different but not as expected.  The dough was chewier, not crisper.  It seemed like even though the dough was thinner it was still chewier.  Strange.

I reread the screen bit in the book and we were supposed to put the pizza on the lowest possible shelf height so it is closest to the heating element.  We had it in the middle position with the pizza stone on the rack just below it but not touching.  AHHH too many variables.  Next time, no stone, lowest position and normal dough.  Make a decision on the screen then worry about the flour type.

This week I want to send love to my wonderful sister-in-law, Katherine, who lost her grandmother this week.  

Also, positive vibrations to my friend Andrea and her mom, she was diagnosed with what is looking to be treatable lymphoma.  

Life is short and fragile. Big hug and love to you all.  Be with the ones you love.  Love the things do.  Best bet, make and eat pizza with someone you love!  

 Z now yells "Pizza Doh" and runs for the flour every time the pantry door opens.

 Isn't this just a cute picture of C?  You should see the one I took of him before this one.  Grumble grumble...

Z kissing the oven door after his little pizza went in.  I melt.

 If Abbey could talk she'd say, "Please please please drop something!"

Z is laughing at something Bubbe said or did.  He LOVES his Bubbe!  I love you Mom!

February 14, 2011

Sweetheart Ribs

Happy Valentine's Day!  I hope you were showered with love, candy, and flowers today... better yet, I hope you showered someone you love with love, candy, and flowers today!

Truth be told, C and I don't really "Celebrate" Valentine's Day.  12 years ago C said, "It should be Valentine's Day everyday.  If not, I'm taking you for granted and one day isn't enough to fix it."  I bought it hook, line, and sinker.  Ya know, I can conclude two things all these years later.
1)  I definitely do not feel C ever takes me for granted.  I try very hard to do the same.
2) We always have actually done something cutesy and Valentiny around Valentine's Day. (like I'll buy him some fancy chocolate and he'll get me a nice bottle of wine)

My friend and former colleague, Lisa K, told me her and her hubby celebrate on February 15th cuz everything is at least half off and the restaurants are empty.  Does it really matter which day it is you celebrate?  Nah!

This year C made dinner for us Saturday night.  Ribs!  We had a slab in the freezer calling our names.  What's better than ribs at a BBQ with friends in July?  Only ribs in February with your sweetie!  We ate after Z went night night.

One happy memory I always think of with ribs is my maternal Grandpa Sherwin.  He loved ribs.  I remember as a kid my grandpa getting Carson's Ribs in Chicago.  Warm memory.  I think he'd like C's ribs.  I think he'd like C.

C makes the best ribs and they are really really easy!  We modified the recipe from Cuisine at Home Magazine.  It is a great mag that the Queen's friend, Stacy, got me into years ago.  A) No Ads B) Hole punched so you can store them in a binder C) Great recipes.  I'm into lists today!

Ready for the grill!

Sweetheart Ribs

Slab of Baby Back Ribs (from a reputable butcher shop)
1/2 Tbsp Garlic Powder
1/2 Tbsp Ground Cumin
1/2 Tbsp Paprika (we used smoked)
1 Tbsp Chili powder (we use a combo of New Mexico and Cayenne)
1 Tbsp Kosher Salt
1 Tbsp Ground Pepper (Freshly ground on the spot . . . it's a pain but totally worth it.)
BBQ Sauce (use your fav)
Tin Foil

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

With a paper towel remove the silvery membrane on the ribs.  Use a fork and poke holes throughout the ribs between the bones so the rub will penetrate better.  Put ribs onto a cookie sheet.

Combine all seasonings in a small bowl (Garlic powder through Pepper).   Rub mixture onto both sides of ribs.  Cover cookie sheet tightly with tin foil so steam cannot escape.  Roast in oven for 1.5 hours.  After 1.5 hours check to see how much of the rib bone is exposed.  After that check every 15 minutes to see if the meat has crawled up the bones about 1/2 to 1 inch.  We needed 2 hours of total roasting.  (see photo by recipe title)

At this point you can pop in fridge and finish up to a day later.  To finish them off grill them basting your fav BBQ Sauce on them for about 30 minutes turning halfway.  They just look done ya know or if the slab bends in half when picking up or it begins to fall apart while flipping them on the grill . . . they ARE done.  Let them rest 10 minutes.  Slice individual ribs by holding the ribs so the bones are vertical and you can slice downward.  Serve with more BBQ sauce.  Recipe easily doubles or triples for a crowd, if you feel like sharing.

Thanks C, Love you!

February 11, 2011

Sunday Pizza: Teaser

Friday night we're making a new batch of sauce. Woo hoo!  Sunday we're trying something new...  Z-man is helping provide the teaser.  Can't wait to tell you our results.

February 9, 2011

Tuesday Pizza: Bitsy Edition

Pizza on Tuesday?!  I bet you did a big time double-take when you saw that. Eh? [Every now and then it's fun to go a little Canadian ya... take off]  

It is with great excitement that I present Sunday Pizza's very first, and hopefully not last, remote Sunday Pizza chef!  I am almost having trouble typing from sheer excitement.  Simmer down, girl...  

Ok, where to start?  My Uncle Kent clearly. UK for short.  He has a special place in our hearts in many ways but especially because he married us almost six years ago.  He has many fascinating chapters in his life that, if he was so inclined, would make a marvelous book.  Check out some of his work to see he is a truly talented writer.  

Some of his chapters include owning a paint store with my Aunt Fran in Mt. Pleasant Iowa, raising two awesome kids Rachel and Nigel, teaching at a school for teens convicted of crimes and serving time in Juvenile prison, becoming a Methodist Minister, becoming a Polar Bear Club member (in Wisconsin no less!), road tripping in at least three different vintage Airstreams (not at the same time), and most importantly being a grandpa.  

UK has three grandchildren.  Nigel has Jenna and Rachel has Sammy and Elizabeth (Bitsy).  UK is retired and often watches the kids throughout the week.  Rachel and her hubby David went through a two or three year process of fundraising and paperwork and waiting and waiting to adopt Bitsy from China.  Perhaps the family should sign a book deal with Pendant Publishing :)  Anyway, we were all quite teary when we saw pictures of the family finally in China meeting and adopting Bitsy.

It is two plus years later and Bitsy is four (or is she five? YIKES) and in Montessori pre-school.  Tuesday afternoon I get an email from UK that he was making pizza dough.  Cool coincidence our dough recipes are quite similar.  I asked him to take pictures for the world to see on Sunday Pizza.  Little did I know he was making dough for Bitsy to make into a drool-worthy deep dish pizza!  

Way to go Bitsy!!!  Wish I could join you!  UK, thanks for sending along.  It made my day, well, week really.  Without further ado, live from Milwaukee it's Tuesday Pizza!

February 7, 2011

Are we starving or what?

No, we're not starving, but we have been eating pretty lame lately during the week.  How's about some spaghetti with marinara for dinner?

Wondering where the latest and greatest next meal will come from? [Me too most days!]  Here's a teaser... Emily tipped me off that Amazon Market sells used books for $0.50 and up! Wha-huh? The catches are the shipping is $3.99 per book and books ship at book rate which can take a week or longer.

I got four vegetarian cookbooks at a buck each. [that's $5 per book if you don't have a calculator handy]  Nice! Two have already arrived and I dove in and have many recipes I wanna try. NOW!

Ok, I know what you're thinking and yes, guilty as charged!  I totally bought two pizza cookbooks as well.  One for full-price no less (Only $13 though and free shipping so sue me).  Details to follow as I get those books.  Here are the books I bought.  Happy Birthday to me!

Vegetarian Planet

Quick Vegetarian Pleasures: More than 175 Fast, Delicious, and Healthy Meatless Recipes

The Art of Pizza Making: Trade Secrets and Recipes

The Great Chicago-Style Pizza Cookbook

February 4, 2011

What's your song?

Today my good friend and colleague, Ben, was telling me about the movie Blue Valentine.  I guess there's a scene where the main couple determine what "their song" is and then another scene where the song is playing but they are breaking up.  Apparently, quite depressing material.

It got me thinking, though, about music.  As Ben was talking about the movie moment I immediately flashed back to how C and I found our song.  It is Ray Charles "What would I do without you."  Heard of it?  Ray Charles rocks! Take a listen below...

Our story is pretty simple but quite nice.  C and I were hanging out listening to music and most likely drinking wine.  This was back in Chicago many moons ago.  I can't remember if we were in our apt or condo. I think condo.  C put in his box set of Ray Charles and this song came on.  We both just stopped talking and listened to it.  That was it.  We both knew.  A few years later we danced to it at our wedding.

I remember back in high school I bought The Best of Simon and Garfunkel on CD.  I had it playing in the living room and went up to my bedroom.  I lost track of time (shocker).  My dad and J-Mo have a tri-level and the hallway on the top floor looks down on the main floor.  I was walking from my bedroom to the bathroom and Bridge Over Troubled Water was playing. My dad and J-Mo were dancing in the living room.  Very sweet moment.  I decided it was their song.  Not sure what it really is.  

What's your song?  Is there a story?

February 2, 2011

Sunday Pizza: 01.30.2011

Happy February!  Think the groundhog will see his shadow?  I always forget what seeing his shadow is supposed to mean.  Now a days it means watching poor Bill Murray live the same day over and over.  I hope everyone in the middle and east side of the country are warm and safe.

Lots of birthdays right around now!!  Big shout-outs and happy birthday to my bro, Jon, and his wife, Therese who celebrated their birthdays earlier this month.  Also, J-Mo had a birthday last week!  My sis, Tina, and sis-in-law, Katherine celebrated bdays Sunday (wish we could have had a slice of pizza together!)  Finally, my bro-in-law, Ken's birthday was Monday.  WOW!  I know J-Mo will write me to remind me of the other January birthdays I missed.  Oh on Saturday we went to our friend, Matt's to celebrate his 30th.  OMG - 30.  [umm karaoke - LOVE IT] What a great age, but no worries I'm loving where I am today.  Happy birthday and love you all.  I hope you all love the year your in too.

Sunday pizza...  On the bench this week with Z-man are long-time regular, Elliott, and long-awaited friend, Karsten!  Karsten was strategically placed in the middle to keep the peace between Z and E.  For some reason they have become the Bickersons and fight over everything.  Joys of growing up.  

It was a blast spending quality time with Karsten and Elliott's parents.  Karsten's Mom, Andrea, is due in June with a baby girl!  No shortage of things to chat about there.  Plus, we have a huge bean bag called a Love Sac and the boys ran and jumped on it for the longest time.

The awe moment was watching Karsten's Dad, Eric, read to the boys.  Too cute for words.

This Sunday is the Super Bowl.  We are heading to my sister's for their annual party.  They really know how to throw a party and no one ever leaves hungry.  The food is legendary so we're taking the night off from Sunday Pizza!