March 28, 2012

Baked shrimp with tomatoes and feta

I pinned this recipe (originally from Ellie Krieger) and have been looking forward to making it since. At first I thought that shrimp + feta was a weird combination, but when I thought about it some more, it sounded good combined with all the other ingredients. I'm glad I tried it because this dish is light, simple, and very flavorful. I love almost anything that contains olives, and this was no exception. It was really easy to make this sauce, but it also felt pretty elegant and special in a way - it was probably the shrimp, which is a treat for us.

Somehow I mysteriously hurt my left big toe a few days ago. I woke up and it was swollen and slightly bruised and really painful! I have no idea what I did to it, but even walking was a chore. Luckily it's getting better now, but I made this meal when it was at the height of painfulness because it was so easy. Although I did have some chopping and photography assistance with this one from my wonderful husband. 


March 24, 2012

Chocolate and cherry steel cut oats

Chocolate for breakfast? Yes, please. I found a bag of cherries in the freezer that needed to be used up... I was thinking about making some sort of dessert with them that contained chocolate. Then, it hit me -- why not combine the chocolate and cherries in some oats for breakfast? Well, I did and it was a good idea. I have only recently discovered steel cut oats and I enjoy them a lot. They have a lot more texture to them than the old fashioned oats (don't get me wrong though, I love those, too). I eat oats in some many ways - bananas, nuts, cinnamon, pumpkin, maple, apples, etc. - they are such a versatile breakfast. Chocolate and cherries are more of a treat than a staple for breakfast, but sometimes you need that in life! Plus, it's probably better for you that some of the other chocolaty breakfast items out there...

This recipe will serve two people. I don't think the oats (or the photos) look as good as it tastes. Top your chocolate and cherry steel cut oats with some milk or cream if you like, or enjoy as is. 

March 20, 2012

Mexican spiced bean and egg breakfast stacks

Disclosure: Marx Foods provided me with the beans for this recipe; however, all opinions expressed are my own.

When I saw Marx Foods was having a Beans for Breakfast recipe contest, I was excited because around here we love our hearty breakfasts, especially on the weekends. I think beans are a great way to incorporate protein into your breakfast and to make it filling and healthy. I received three types of dry beans to work with to create a breakfast recipe: Adzuki beans, Mayacoba (or Canary) beans, and Marrow beans. I thought about making a sweet pastry with the Adzuki beans, which is how they are traditionally used in Asian cuisine, or using just the Marrow beans in a breakfast application since their flavor is reminiscent of bacon... But, since these three beans have different tastes and textures, I wanted to use them all combined in one dish rather than focus on just one or two of the beans. I'm glad I did because this was a hearty and delicious breakfast and the beans went so well with the Mexican flavors and spices. Using all three beans provided an interesting mix of textures and flavors.

I really enjoy beans, breakfast, and Mexican food so I was inspired to use the beans in a recipe that featured some Mexican flavors. I had a beautifully ripe avocado and some farm fresh organic eggs that really helped to pull me into this direction. I wanted to keep this meat-free so I could really focus on the bean flavors, which worked great. I also kept the spices mild since it is breakfast and I really wanted the beans to be the focus of the dish. I loved how the Marrow beans and Mayacoba beans really held their texture, but were creamy at the same time. The Adzuki beans became very creamy and the three blended together into a cohesive dish very well. This recipe will serve four people. 

March 18, 2012

Irish oaten rolls

I should have posted these before St. Patrick's Day, but I didn't make them until then, so I couldn't. These soda bread rolls are simple and tasty enough that you can make them anytime, or to go with your St. Patrick's Day leftovers. The recipe comes from Nigella Lawson's Nigella Kitchen cookbook and she never steers me wrong. They were a great side and accompaniment to our grass-fed local corned beef round that we slow braised in the oven and then added some potatoes, green cabbage wedges, and carrots. We had a couple of guests for our St. Patrick's Day dinner, including my mom and my seven-year old cousin. My cousin turned out to be a great baking helper. 

This recipe will make about a dozen hearty rolls. I served the rolls with a honey butter. Honey butter is something my mom made for every St. Patrick's Day dinner (although she dyed her's green). Below is my slightly modified recipe.

March 9, 2012

Mexican macaroni and cheese

Next to meatloaf and mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese is my ultimate comfort food. While I certainly love regular old mac n' cheese, I also love to change it up with different veggies, spices, etc. Pureed butternut squash is one of my favorite macaroni and cheese add-ins as are cauliflower and broccoli. Recently though, I came across the Mexican macaroni and cheese recipe in Gourmet Today and was inspired to give a new twist to this classic dish. This was like a combination of macaroni and cheese and nachos. It was delicious. I think there are a couple of things that could be added such as diced tomatoes or a topping of cilantro that would take it even more over the top, but it's also really good as is. 

If you are in the need of something creamy, gooey, and comforting with a little kick, this dish is a perfect choice. Serve as a main dish with a salad or as a side dish. Either way, it's sure to be a hit! Lastly, if you want a less-spicy sauce, you can use mild chiles and/or regular smoked paprika instead of hot. If you want an even spicier sauce, you can add more chiles or some hot sauce. Taste the sauce before you combine it with the pasta and adjust to your liking.

March 4, 2012

Fudgy coconut brownies

Can anyone out there believe that this was the first time I've ever made homemade brownies in my life so far? I can't and I'm glad that I've now given them a try. Brownies were one of those things that I always assumed came out of a box and never gave much further thought to it. But, now since I'm changing my eating ways, I figured these were a skill I needed to acquire. I was inspired to make coconut brownies because I saw these lovely coconut flakes in the grocery store (and then was compelled to buy them). I also have been really loving coconut oil lately. So I scoured the internet looking for a basic brownie recipe that I could modify to include coconut goodness. I started with this recipe and changed it to what I have below. The recipe uses a technique that I've never seen before, but it was simple and worked well. They turned out very fudgy and moist and with a good balance of chocolate and coconut flavors.