Monday, October 26, 2009

Three Bean Chili with TVP

My hives and I just recently reached our one year anniversary. I didn't feel much like celebrating. While they are much better than they were a year ago, or even a few months ago, I'm tired of battling itchiness. I've tried many, many things. There's still a lot of evidence pointing to the culprit being something in my house since they started not too long after I've moved here. I've got a suspicion that they've got something to do with mold. So, now, I'm trying to think beyond environmental mold and pay attention to what I eat that would be considered "moldy". Well, it's pretty much everything. Since that is overwhelming, I at least decided to cut out a couple of more obvious sources. One is Quorn products. They are made out of mycoprotein which is a fungi/mushroom. We were eating Quorn about 2-3 times a week, and I read an article about how some people were having a hard time digesting it, so I figured I'd experiment with taking it out of my diet for a bit. I am now trying to find replacements. The Quorn crumbles worked well in several things I made. I'm playing around with TVP (textured vegetable protein) to see how we like it. I made a chili with it recently and thought that came out pretty good.

Three Bean Chili

1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tblspns red wine
2 cups dry TVP
1 tspn oregano
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup chili powder
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
1 10.75 oz can tomato puree (I think I may have used a 14 oz can)
1 14.5 oz can kidney beans (drained)
1 14.5 oz can pinto beans (drained)
1 14. 5 oz can black beans (drained)
1/4 tspn crushed red pepper
1-2 tspns salt
3 tblsns cider vinegar

1. Sautee onions and garlic in a little red wine and water (use canola oil in place of wine and water if you'd rather)
2. While onions are cooking, reconstitute TVP according to package directions (usually 1:1 ratio TVP to boiling water)
3. After onions are soft, mix in oregano, bay leaves, TVP, chili powder, tomatoes, tomato puree and beans.
4. Simmer uncovered for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally
5. Add red pepper flakes, salt and vinegar to taste. Cook 15 more minutes.
6. Serve over rice, or on it's own.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Quinoa Spinach Cakes

As if making up for the dreary Saturday we had yesterday, Mother Nature bestowed upon us a most spectacular autumn day today. It was one of those days where the light was amazing and everything looked like it should be on a New England postcard. I spent the day at Harold Parker State Forest in Andover for the Wicked Ride of the East, a mountain bike ride organized by NEMBA. There were so many "postcards" all around us. The light was shimmering on the many ponds we passed. The vibrant colors from the trees reflected off the water. There were carpets of bright yellow from the fallen leaves. I was thankful for this, not only because I appreciate the beauty we can see right outside our doors, but because it offered me moments of respite from the CRAPTASTIC ride I was having. It was one of the worst days I've had on a bike in recent memory. Actually, I should be correct in saying that it was one of the worst days "not on a bike" because I was rarely on my bike. I was mostly pushing it over slippery things, and riding a few feet every so often.
I had very little idea what I was getting myself into when we started out on the pink trail (advanced) vs. the white trail (beginner). It was only after riding the first 3 miles (which felt like 23 miles) that I asked, "How long is this route anyway?" The answer: 20 miles. Now, in general terms, this really isn't very long. But when the gazzilion little rocks and roots covering the trail have been rained on the day before, this lovely little scenic trail felt more like an obstacle course covered in ice. The more I slipped on things, the more I lost my confidence, the more I got off my bike, and couldn't get into a rhythm, and I continued to lose confidence leaving me unable to ride things that would normally be easy. I should add that in all this, there were a lot of people sharing this trail with me, meaning as I was trying my best to navigate, a group of faster riding guys would come up behind me, so I'd have to pull over and let them pass. It was frustrating and not very fun. I tried my hardest to focus on the positive (the scenery, and sharing the day with Todd). I was ready to sell my bike by the end of the ride. I've since decided against that, but I'm still very discouraged and thinking about ways to improve my technical skills on a mountain bike, so I can enjoy tough conditions.
We ended the afternoon by hanging out with some friends, and I tried something new for dinner. Nobody got physically hurt, and all is well here in Arlington. These are a good basic recipe, but I feel it needs a little something to give it some zing. I had a salad with lots of goat cheese that was a nice accompaniment, but I'm wondering about adding goat cheese right into the patties. The recipe had it served with a yogurt sauce (plain yogurt, lemon juice and dill) but I don't think that added much to the flavor.

Quinoa Spinach Cakes

1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1 1/2 tblspns red onion, minced
1 tspn garlic, minced
2/3 carrot, grated
2/3 summer squash, grated
1/2 10 oz bag frozen spinach, defrosted, water squeezed out
zest of one large lemon
4 tblspns unbleached flour
1 tspn baking powder
1 egg
2 tspns salt
1/2 tspn freshly ground pepper

1. Cook quinoa (rinse quinoa, then add water, bring to a boil, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes until water is absorbed.) Let cool.
2. Preheat oven to 425. In a bowl, combine all ingredients. Oil a baking sheet. Divide the mixture into 8 balls and flatten into patties (about 1/2 inch to 3/4 of an inch thick) onto the baking sheet. Cook for about 20 minutes, flipping after 10 minutes, until light brown and crispy.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Black Bean Soup

It recently occurred to me it was weird that with all the soup making I do, I never make black bean soup. I may have tried it before, but not in my recent memory. So, I decided to make some the other night, and thought, paired with spinach and mushroom quesadillas, it made for a nice weeknight meal. The soup was pretty good, and it's pretty quick to pull together. But, the quesadillas were bland. I didn't spice the veggies when I sauteed them, and I bought some already shredded cheese to save time. I should've just shredded my own cheese. It would've had a lot more flavor.
I looked at a few recipes and combined them, so hopefully this is accurate. I'm not sure I remember exactly what I did. This would be a good base for a black bean chili, just add more veggies to make chunkier, and spices to add more kick.

Black Bean Soup

1 onion, diced
2 ribs celery, diced
1/2 bell pepper, diced
1 large carrot, diced
1 1/2 cups veggie broth
2 15 oz cans black beans, undrained
1/2 tspn salt
1 tspn cumin
1 tspn chili powder
dash of cayenne
lemon juice from 1/2 lemon
1 tspn cider vinegar
1 1/2 tbspn arrowroot (or cornstarch)

1. Combine the first 5 ingredients in a soup pot. Bring to a simmer and simmer for about 10 minutes.
2. Add 1/2 can beans and spices. Simmer for 5 more minutes.
3. Puree soup (this is where my coveted immersion blender comes in handy)
4. Add the rest of the beans to the soup.
5. If using cornstarch, mix it with water, then add to soup. If using arrowroot, add directly to soup. Also add lemon and vinegar. Heat and stir til the soup thickens. Serve.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Creamy Tomato Soup

Help! Does anyone have any ideas what to do with the rest of the can of tomato paste when every recipe only calls for 1 or 2 tablespoons??!

Life has been super busy, which is why it's been a month and a half since I've posted anything. I've had lots of things I've wanted to write about, and have a couple of unfinished posts hanging around, but just don't have a lot of mental energy at the moment. I have finally reached my "light at the end of the tunnel" - the time in which things should become more manageable at work. I have been looking forward to this for a while. I can focus a little more on cyclocross racing and other things that I'd like to give my attention to, like reading, writing and cooking (not arithmetic, that's for sure).
This is probably my favorite time of year for cooking, so I'm happy to get back into it. I made chili a couple of weeks ago which was the perfect thing to have after a very muddy 'cross race. This weekend, Todd requested tomato soup. He rarely requests anything specific, so when he does, I'm on it! My mom and I had tried a tomato soup recipe in August when tomatoes were in season. It called for roasting the tomatoes. It was really quite bland and not something I'd make again. So this time, I just used canned tomatoes, and found a recipe to make on the stovetop. I thought it was quite good, and I used the cream like it called for since I was in the mood for something a little decadent, but I don't think it needs the cream. We had the soup with some grilled cheese sandwiches made from sourdough bread, Cabot cheddar and a little dijon mustard. It made for some nice casual comfort food on a chilly evening.

Creamy Tomato Soup
2 tblsp butter
1 medium onion, chopped
1 small carrot, finely diced
2 tblsp flour
2 lb fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped or 1 28 oz can crushed or diced tomatoes with juices
2 cups veggie broth
1 tblsp tomato paste
1 tblsp fresh basil or 1/2 tspn dried
2 tspns fresh thyme or 1/2 tspn dried
1 bay leaf
1 cup light cream or milk
salt and pepper

1. In a large non-reactive pan melt the butter. Sautee the onion and carrot for 3-5 minutes.
2. Add flour and stir constantly for 1-2 minutes without allowing to color.
3. Add tomatoes with juices, broth, tomato paste, basil, thyme and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer for 15 minutes.
4. Blend in batches or use a super cool immersion blender to puree.
5. Return to pan and add cream/milk on low heat stirring frequently until warmed up.