Tex-Mex Black Bean, Roasted Pepper and Rice Supper

A great vegetarian skillet supper that was simple, delicious and hearty. I didn’t really have anything much in mind for supper tonight and threw something together from what I had in the pantry and fridge. Maya loved it and I’d definitely make it again.

Ingredients

1 onion, chopped
1-2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Tbsp crushed Garlic
1 bag frozen fajita peppers from Trader Joe’s, or 2 fresh peppers cored and sliced into 1/4″ strips
2 Tbsp taco seasoning mix  (I used McCormicks.)
1 can black beans, drained but not rinsed
1/4 cup salsa
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
3 cups cooked rice
1 cup Mexican or cheddar cheese

Heat oil in a skillet and saute onions until softened. Add garlic and saute for a few minutes. Add frozen fajita peppers and taco seasoning mix and saute until the liquid from the frozen peppers is mostly gone. Add the black beans, salt and pepper and the salsa. (You can add a little water if anything is sticking to the bottom of the skillet.) Cook for another 5-6 minutes stirring occasionally until the black beans are warmed through. Dump in the rice and fold the bean mixture and rice together, cooking for a few minutes until the rice is warmed. Sprinkle the cheese on top, remove from the heat and cover for a couple of minutes.

Serve hot with a simple arugula salad. Yum!

Leave off the cheese for a vegan version.

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Spicy Thai Peanut Sauce over Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Rice

Our friend Sharon recently served us this incredibly delicious Vegeterian/Vegan dish and was kind enough to share the original recipe with me, from CookieandKate.com. I made it almost exactly as shown, and then a couple nights later used the leftover peanut sauce as a dipping sauce for oven-roasted sweet potatoes. It is so delicious and uses ingredients you probably have in your pantry already.

INGREDIENTS

Spicy Thai Peanut Sauce

½ cup creamy peanut butter
¼ cup soy sauce (Can use Tamari to be gluten-free)
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
2 and 1/2  Tbsp honey (or agave nectar, to taste)
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, crushed
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
2 Tbsp water

Roasted vegetables

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1 inch long, ½ inch wide chunks
1 red bell pepper, cored, deseeded, and sliced into bite-sized strips
about 2 Tbsp olive oil (or coconut oil)
1/2 tsp cumin powder (I used more than original recipe.)
1 tsp Sea salt (to taste)

Rice and garnishes

1 1/2 cup jasmine rice (could use any rice, really)
3 green onions sliced into thin rounds (green and white parts)
Handful cilantro, chopped
Handful peanuts, crushed

Sriracha sauce on the side (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

In a medium bowl, mix 2 Tbsp of olive oil, salt and cumin. Put the sweet potatoes in a roasting pan and drizzle with about 2/3 of the oil. Drop the peppers in the remaining oil and toss them. You’ll add them to the pan a bit later.

Spread the sweet potatoes out, but leave about 1/4 of the pan empty. Bake for 15 minutes and toss. Then add the peppers in the empty space and continue roasting for another 20 minutes.  Check to be sure the potatoes are cooked and the peppers are soft and starting to caramelize.

In the meantime, cook the rice. Add 1 1/2 cups jasmine rice and 1 tsp kosher salt to a pot. Add a bit less than three cups of water and bring to the boil. Reduce heat to low and cover and cook for 25 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Make the sauce: in a bowl, whisk together the sauce ingredients. If the sauce is too thick whisk in a little more water.

To serve: Spoon rice onto a large serving dish, and top with sweet potatoes, then peppers, a nice heavy drizzle of sauce, and sprinkle chopped green onions, cilantro and peanuts. Serve any extra sauce in a little pitcher.

To serve it as a dipping sauce for sweet potato fries, just gently stir in the onions, cilantro and peanuts. So good!

Thai Green Curry with Eggplant, Peppers and chicken

Made this for Kumy’s birthday last week while we were away from home. We had kind of limited supplies, but I’d brought a couple of Tbsp of Thai Green Curry Paste, which made it crazy easy. We were all starved and this was the perfect dish!

2 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Eggplant, not peeled – cut into 1″ cubes
1 green pepper, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 small onion, cut into fat slivers
1 carrot, julienned
1 lb. chicken tenders, cut into small bite-sized pieces
2 Tbsp Mae Ploy Green Curry Paste
1/2 cup coconut milk
1/2 cup water
1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp Fish Sauce (optional – I didn’t have any and it was still good)
juice from 1/2 lime
pinch red pepper flakes (totally optional – the paste is already very spicy)
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup Thai Basil Leaves, julienned (optional – I didn’t have any and still good)

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet until it’s quite hot. Add eggplant and cook, flipping the eggplant to sear it. Cook for 5 minutes or so, then add the onion, peppers and carrot and saute for another 3-4 minutes, or until the onion is transparent and the peppers are softened. Add the chicken and continue cooking 3-4 more minutes.

Shift veggies to the edges, and add a little more oil, and the green curry paste. Cook the green curry paste for a couple of minutes and add 1/2 cup water, the juice of 1/2 a lime and the salt and red pepper flakes. Stir everything together well and add the coconut milk. Cook for just another 30 seconds to warm the coconut milk and serve over rice.

Would probably be great with chopped peanuts, too.

Update:  Last night Maya and the gals made amazing vegan egg rolls, which Samir fried.  Since we had a lot of folks home for supper,  I made this dish without chicken, and realized it really doesn’t need the red pepper flakes!  Taylor made Sherry Trifle, so it was fine dining all around.

Chicken Pilau Biryani

Everyone has a dish that is their knock out dish, and Pilau Biryani is mine.  I’ve made it for graduations, parties and most recently for a wedding.  (5 catering trays worth!)  It’s a fairly simple dish, but so ridiculously tasty.  I use a spice mix called Shan Pilau Biryani mix, which is available online or in Indian grocery stores.

This makes a really nice big batch, but leftovers never last at our house.  I do make the recipe a little differently than on the box, but it’s still pretty close.  If you decide to make a half box, try to make sure you get roughly half of the big spices as well. It is also traditional to leave big spices like cardamom, cloves, black peppers , pieces of cinnamon etc. in the dish that you simply pick out while you are eating.

1 box Shan Pilau Biryani Mix
2 lbs. of boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 lb. of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 1/2 Tbsp crushed Garlic
1 1/2  Tbsp crushed fresh Ginger
1 – 2 small glasses of water
1/2 cup plain yogurt, stirred well plus more for serving
3 1/2 cups basmati rice
6 1/2  cups of water
1 Tbsp kosher salt
3-4 large onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup olive oil

In  large pot, mix the chicken, spice mix, garlic, ginger and water.  Bring to a boil, then turn down and simmer until chicken is cooked and soft.  (Probably about an hour.)  You want to end up with about 2 cups of liquid gravy (in addition to the chicken of course) so if you end up with much more, just cook it a little longer.  If you have less, add more water during cooking.

Remove from heat.  (If you want to pour it into a catering tray and freeze it at this point, you can.)

Stir the yogurt well and pour it over the chicken mixture evenly.

Cook the rice with the 1 Tbsp salt until just about done, and layer it on top of the chicken and gravy. It is important to make sure the rice isn’t overcooked and too soft, since the moisture in the gravy will add moisture to the rice.

If you get a red powder packet in the biryani mix, sprinkle it on top of the rice for nice bits of yellow color. Sometimes it’s not in the box – which is a bummer, but not a fatal flaw.

Fry the thinly sliced onions in olive oil, stirring frequently until they are dark golden brown and caramelized. This does take quite a while. Keep the onions and the oil they were fried in – you will use it all in the dish.  (I often start the onions before I even start the chicken to save time.  You can also cook the onions and then freeze them, and heat them just before you assemble the dish.)  For the wedding this summer, I fried two big bags of onions from Costco.  I think you could smell onions frying from two blocks away!

Ladle the fried onions and the oil on top of the rice, and cover with foil.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.  (If you start with a frozen base, you’ll need to either cook it longer or you’ll want to thaw the base for a couple of hours.)

Remove from the oven and gently mix up the chicken and rice portion with a big spoon or saucer , and serve on a big platter. Serve with plain yogurt or a simple raita (spiced yogurt and vegetables.)

For a vegan version, substitute 3 cans of washed garbanzo beans, one cup of shelled pistachios, and 1 cup of frozen peas for the meat.  Add the peas until the very last minute or they get mushy.  (I sometimes just put the peas on top of the mixture in the tray since it all gets mixed up anyway.  That way they stay nice and green, but still absorb plenty of flavor.)

 

Asian Chicken Noodle Soup

For this soup, you cook the noodles separately, then place them in the soup bowl and add the soup and other toppings right on top of them.  Rice noodles can get really mushy if you overcook them, so by adding them to the soup bowl, you never have to worry about mushy noodles!

Rice Noodles

Place rice noodles in a large, heat-proof bowl. Add boiling water to cover and let sit, gently moving them apart with a fork. Check for doneness by biting one to see if it is cooked through. Really thin noodles cook in 7 minutes or so and thicker ones may need 10. When done, drain and toss with a little sesame oil.

4 Tbsp Soy sauce
2 Tbsp Mirin (can use cider vinegar with a little sugar)
2 tsp dark Sesame Oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated
1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp Sambal Oelek (Can use Sriracha or any hot sauce you like)
8 cups chicken stock
1 lb. thinly sliced chicken breast
1 head chopped Napa cabbage

Add everything except chicken and cabbage to a large pot and bring to a boil. Turn down heat and let simmer for 15-20 minutes. Add the chicken and cabbage and cook until the chicken is done and the cabbage is slightly softened,7-8 more minutes.

1 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
6 scallions, thinly sliced

To serve, place noodles in a large soup bowl. Ladle soup over the noodles, and top with cilantro and green onions. Serve with soy sauce and Sriracha to let each person season their soup.

Elote – Mexican Street Corn

If you live in Omaha, you must go to the Farmer’s Market in Aksarben and pray that the sweet corn lady is there making Elote.  Kumy and I had gotten one, and quickly realized that there was no way we were willing to share.  (Okay, so there was no way I was willing to share, and I ran back to get another.)

There is nothing better than sweet corn that’s just been picked, quickly boiled and slathered with mayo, fresh lime, parmesan and Tajin Seasoning.  This is a version that I make at home.   Tajin seasoning is tart, salty, not super hot and easily available in Mexican markets and online.

6 ears of corn, freshly shucked and washed

Crema:

1/4 cup Mexican mayonnaise (or use regular mayonnaise with a good squeeze of lime in it.)
1/4 cup sour cream
1/2 cup Cotija cheese (or parmesan in a pinch)
1/2 tsp Tajin seasoning
1 clove garlic crushed
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped pretty fine
Juice of 1/2 lime

Mix crema ingredinets in a bowl.

Cook corn by boiling in unsalted water or grilling. Slather the corn with the crema, and sprinkle with extra cotija and dust with tajin seasoning.

Thai Rice with Veggies

Made this for the first time on Kumy’s birthday last year, with Sriracha-Glazed Salmon.  It was quick and very good.  Yellow curry paste is available in Asian Markets.  I use Mae Ploy Yellow Curry Paste – which is also available online.  You can use coconut milk or coconut cream – both are good, though the coconut cream is of course slightly heavier.  (Avoid using cream of coconut – which is sweetened and used in cocktails.  Ali and Caitlin made that fateful mistake on what was otherwise a very promising curry!)

2 cups rice
3 7/8 cup water
1 tsp salt

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 package mushrooms, sliced (Add more if you like mushrooms.)
1 or 2 red bell peppers, cut into bit-sized pieces

1 1/2 Tbsp Yellow Curry Paste
1 cup coconut milk/cream

Make rice with salt and water. See recipe here.

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Saute peppers for a few minutes, then add mushrooms and saute a few minutes more. Add curry paste, and stir in well. Add coconut milk or cream and remove from heat. Gently blend in cooked rice. Season with a little salt if needed.