Black Bean and Goat Cheese Dip.

After a month hiatus from blogging, I’m back! It’s been a very busy, fun month which included a fantastic ten day vacation in Paris! Hopefully this Europe-trip-in-the-Fall thing is starting to become an annual habit for me – at about the same time last year, I was heading off to Scotland for 10 days of Highland hijinks. Paris was so lovely, and it was wonderful to get to spend a full ten days in the city. We were really able to combine sightseeing with relaxation in the best possible way, while sprinkling in lots of amazing eating! Here are some highlights of the trip, before we get into recipe-land.

One of many, many patisserie visits, we had kick-butt hot chocolate and baba au rhum at Angelina, near the Tuileries:

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A big culinary highlight of the trip was dinner at the art nouveau dreamworld Brasserie Julien. I was lucky enough to discover this place on a previous visit to Paris, and I couldn’t wait to bring my friends back to enjoy it this time. We enjoyed plate after amazing plate of their beautiful food—Julien delivered again. For my main course, I had this shrimp and salmon dish in a light lime cream sauce:

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I love the ubiquity of Paris cafes – they mean instant peace and a full tummy, with a side of people-watching. The intermittent Fall rain was a great excuse to drop in.

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Probably my favorite pastry of all time is the buttery, chocolate-filled croissant-like bun known as pain au chocolat. Pair it with a cup of black tea and you’ve got a breakfast of champions right here. SO GOOD.

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And not pictured: a HEFTY daily dose of macaroons that would rival the excesses of Versailles. Nothing beats a chocolate macaroon. Except 5 chocolate macaroons.

And now, folks, for the recipe: a creamy, spicy, delicious black bean and goat cheese dip.

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INGREDIENTS

olive oil or bacon grease
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp ground cumin
2 (15 oz) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup vegetable stock (chicken stock or even water would work here, too)
1 (4 oz) can green chiles, chopped
2/3 cup Greek yogurt (or sour cream will do)
1/2 tsp oregano
salt and pepper to taste
2 oz goat cheese
sriracha or other hot sauce
1/2 cup green onion, chopped
tortilla chips, pita bread, or carrot and cucumber slices for dipping

Just the Recipe link: Black Bean and Goat Cheese Dip

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 375 F.

In a bigger saucepan than the inexplicably small one I chose to use for this, heat olive oil or bacon grease over medium flame. Saute the onion and garlic until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the cumin and cook another minute, and then pour in the first can of black beans. Mash with a potato masher.

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Stir in the vegetable stock and green chiles. Simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated.

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Then add the second can of beans and mash again, a little more coarsely this time. Remove from heat.

Stir in the Greek yogurt, oregano, salt, and pepper. Transfer the bean mixture to a baking dish.

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Break up the goat cheese into small pieces and press them into the dip, speckling the top with the little white gems. Drizzle sriracha or other hot sauce over the top.

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Bake for 20 minutes. As the dip bubbles, it might bubble over, so make sure you have a pan or a sheet of foil to catch any drips. When the 20 minutes are up, remove from the oven.

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This stuff is great both hot and room temperature. Just before you serve it, sprinkle with chopped green onion. Serve with tortilla chips or pita bread, or do what I did and cut up some carrots and cucumber for dippin’.

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Green Taco Burger Wraps.

I love lettuce wraps – I think I even prefer when things are wrapped in lettuce to any tortilla or bun (excluding hot dogs, of course). The cool crunch and the light freshness of the lettuce just seems to pair well with a lot of the foods that we think of as bun-worthy. This recipe for what I’m calling “green taco burger wraps” combines the best of cheeseburgers and tacos and wraps the whole thing in nice crunchy lettuce. The burger meat is spiced with cumin and oregano to give it a bit of Mexican flavor, and the toppings are all my taco favorites (especially avocado….mmmm). They’re easy and healthy and so delicious!

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INGREDIENTS

about 3/4 lb ground meat (I used beef)
1 egg
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
red onion, diced
cheese, sliced (I used cheddar)
cilantro, rough chop
tomato, chopped
red pepper, raw or lightly sauteed
4 large lettuce leaves, rinsed and patted dry
avocado, sliced
green onion, sliced
1 lime, sliced

Just the Recipe link: Green Taco Burger Wraps

DIRECTIONS

First, season the burger meat. In a large bowl, add meat, egg, cumin, garlic powder, paprika, ground coriander, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper, and red onion to taste. I set the rest of the red onion aside in a little ramekin to top the burgers with later. Use your hands to mix all the ingredients together.

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That’s the only cooking prep you’ll do in this recipe. At this point, I set the meat aside to let the flavors hang out a bit while I chopped up everything else and put all the amazing toppings into their own little bowls.

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When everything else is ready to go, cook the burgers. First, use your hands to form them into small patties (we made two little patties per person). I cooked them on my beautiful new Le Creuset grill pan from Williams-Sonoma, but a regular grill or a pan can do the trick as well. Put your pan over medium high heat and lightly grease before adding the burgers. Cook until browned on each side and medium-rare in the middle (or however you like your burgers cooked!). Set aside for 5 minutes to let the meat rest.

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The next step is just assembly!

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I started with the lettuce wrapper, then laid the burger on top and placed the cheese on top of that, so it would get a little melty. Then it’s only a matter of topping to your heart’s content – cilantro, red pepper, red onion, green onion, avocado, and a finishing squeeze of lime make these a perfect fresh and healthy lunch. Before you take a bite, just wrap the lettuce around your taco-topped burger. Then dig right in!

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Loaded Chili.

Garnishes. Goodies. Fixins’. At least half the reason I love chili is the toppings you get to put on it. Oh, my, the toppings. This recipe is about making an amazing chili that will eventually become an Ode to Toppings, and I want you to use them all: avocado, cheese, cilantro, tomato—whatever your heart desires. And you know what? You are a great cook and a wonderful person, and you deserve a beautiful meal. So thank yourself for making this by plating it up like a work of art and garnishing the heck out of it. Heidi at 101 Cookbooks is the master at this. Here are some of her most gorgeously garnished soups: Split Pea, Broccoli Cheddar, Yellow Split Pea, and Posole in broth. Let life imitate art and load up this chili!

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INGREDIENTS

for the chili:
olive oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
salt and pepper to taste
1 lb ground meat (I used pork)
1 28oz can diced tomatoes
2 cups stock (I used beef stock)
2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
1 16oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 16 oz can corn, drained and rinsed

all the fixins’:
avocado, sliced
fresh cilantro, chopped
cheese, shredded
fresh tomato, chopped
onion or green onion, thinly sliced or minced
squeeze of lime

Just the Recipe link: Loaded Chili

DIRECTIONS

Heat oil in a pan and add onion and red pepper. Cook about 8 minutes, until softened.

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Add the garlic and the cayenne pepper, oregano, coriander, cumin, red pepper flakes, salt, and pepper. Stir and cook 1-2 minutes, until fragrant and yummy-smelling.

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Add the ground pork and use your spoon to break it up. Cook until browned, stirring occasionally.

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Once the meat is browned, pour in the canned tomatoes and the stock. Toss in a bay leaf for good measure. Bring to a boil and then turn down to a simmer. Simmer for 45 minutes.

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After 45 minutes have gone by, add the cilantro, corn, and beans, and simmer for another 15 minutes.

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Taste for seasoning and your chili is good to go! Now dress it up. And make it look beautiful, for heaven’s sake! You’re worth it.

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100th recipe! and, Roasted Garlic Refried Black Beans.

Happy 100th recipe from KellyintheKitchen! And just in time before the new year. These humble yet flexible refried black beans perhaps aren’t high-brow enough to be deserving of posting-milestone glory, but look beyond their simplicity to see the awesome possibilities. They work great as enchilada or taco filling, a topping for rice, a spread on top of toast, omelet filling or a side for scrambled eggs…the list goes on. My recipe includes ham, but these also make great vegan beans, sans ham of course. They are incredibly versatile. I ate them with a scoop of Greek yogurt and scallions on top and it was great. These are smart to have around. Happy 100!

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INGREDIENTS

3 cloves garlic, with peels still on
olive oil
1/2 red pepper, diced
4 scallions
1 cup diced ham (optional)
2 cans of black beans (one can drained and rinsed, the other with the liquid)
dash of seasoning salt (I used Pilsen Latino Seasoning from the Spice House) – optional
salt and pepper

Just the Recipe link: Roasted Garlic Refried Black Beans

DIRECTIONS

First, dry roast the garlic in a pan over medium low heat. Once they’re tender and soft, set the cloves aside until they’re cool enough to peel.

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In another pan, heat a drizzle of olive oil over medium heat and add the red pepper. Once it’s softened, add the peeled roasted garlic and scallions and, if you’re not doing vegan beans, the ham. Stir around to crisp it up a bit, cooking for about 3 minutes if you’re using ham, or about 1 minute if not.

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Add the black beans and go at the whole thing with a potato masher. Add a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, and if you want, a pinch of seasoning salt.

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Cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are heated through. Add a splash or two of water if you want a looser texture – I left mine as they were and they were great. Then serve them however you like! I gave ’em a good dollop of Greek yogurt and an extra sprinkle of scallions and was good to go. Enjoy!

Silent Black Bean and Chorizo Soup.

Beans, beans
The musical fruit
The more you eat,
The more you toot…

Beans. They taste great and are so good for you, but sometimes, ahem, they make you regret eating them. I ate a lot of beans in college, and because I loved my roommates, I worked long and hard to figure out a way to prepare beans so that they would no longer be the “musical fruit” of the children’s rhyme. When I finally was successful in producing an indigestion-free bean, I named them “silent black beans”—they were musical no more! This black bean and chorizo soup is a variant on my original Silent Black Bean Soup; the chorizo is such an amazing addition that I’m not sure I’ll ever make the original version again! So prepare your beans using my tested and roommate-approved method and enjoy a bowl of silent black bean soup, secure in the knowledge that “the more soup you eat, the better you feel, so eat your beans at every meal”…silently, of course.

INGREDIENTS

1 cup dry black beans
4 cups water
1 tbsp vinegar
chicken stock (optional)
2 bay leaves
2 Mexican chorizo sausages
1/2 onion, diced
3 stalks celery, washed and sliced
2 carrots, washed, peeled, and sliced
3/4 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
pinch cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp pepper

DIRECTIONS

First, the beans – these need to be prepared a day in advance. Pour the dry beans into a large bowl and cover with water. Pour in the vinegar, mix it around a bit, and let the beans sit for 18-24 hours. The water will gradually turn a purply wine color.

Once the beans have soaked, rinse them thoroughly under cold water. Then place them in a Dutch oven or other large pot and cover them with water. Bring to a boil and boil for two minutes.

After two minutes of boiling, remove beans from heat, drain completely, and rinse again under water. Pour beans back into the pan and cover with two inches of water or chicken stock. Add bay leaves and bring back to a boil.

Turn down to a steady simmer (or even a low boil) and cover.

Meanwhile, add a splash of oil to a saute pan over medium heat and add the chorizo. Cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and done. Remove from pan, leaving some of the juices behind to cook the veggies.

Place onions, celery, and carrots into the pan with the chorizo fat, and stir. Cook until all the veggies are softened. Remove from heat.

Now we start assembling the soup. Add the cooked veggies to the bean pot, along with the cumin, cayenne, red pepper flakes, and pepper. Continue to cook until the beans are tender; this took me at least 2 hours of cooking.

Once the beans are tender, remove the bay leaves. If you want, you can puree the soup at this point. I like to puree most of it, with a bit of chunkiness remaining, for texture.

Finally, stir in the chorizo you set aside earlier.

Serve hot and garnish with parsley or cilantro, sour cream, and maybe a few crumbled up tortilla chips. And let me know if you’re brave enough to eat this before a date!

Cilantro Chipotle Chicken.

This is another dish born of necessity. Last night, my fridge contained (among other things) a bunch of cilantro and a few chipotle chiles that were about to go bad. So I made up this recipe and had a fabulous dinner! I served it with a caramelized onion and pea couscous, but it would also make a great fajita filling. Or, even better, shred it and make chicken quesadillas. I’m a total quesadilla fiend, so I think I’ve just inspired myself for a future recipe: cilantro chipotle chicken quesadillas with corn salsa. Mmmmm. But back to the oven-baked original of today’s post—it’s juicy, really flavorful, and has a nice spicy kick to it. Feel free to use less chipotle/adobo sauce if you’re a spice whimp, or to add another chipotle if you’re extra brave!

INGREDIENTS

2 whole chicken legs (you could definitely use breasts too…I just like dark meat)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tbsp honey
juice of 1 lime
2 canned chipotle chiles, chopped, plus 1 tbsp adobo sauce

DIRECTIONS

Add all ingredients to a plastic bag. Seal the bag and rub the marinade all over the chicken. Let it marinate for at least 30 minutes, or overnight if you’re patient (I am not).

Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a pan with foil and lay the chicken in it, skin side up.

Bake the chicken until it’s done, around 25-35 minutes.

That’s it! Don’t you just love an easy yet tasty recipe for a weeknight dinner?