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Thursday, August 13, 2009

recipe of the week: cuban black beans and rice with balsamic avocado dressing

my 1/2 brother is 1/2 cuban - and happens to make delicious cuban food. he made a yummy combination like this one for our family about a year ago and i've been craving it ever since. so here's my version - might just be my favorite food right now. too good for words. and it may be one of the prettiest things i've ever put in my mouth - look at those colors!

cuban black beans and yellow rice with balsamic avocado dressing
4-6 servings
black beans:
1/3 medium onion
1 green bell pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced or crushed
dash of crushed red pepper (optional - my husband said it needed a tiny kick)
3 cans black beans, one drained
2 teaspoons cumin
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon salt
a few dashes of black pepper

run onion, bell pepper and garlic through a small food chopper. heat a splash of olive oil in a medium/large pot. add onion, bell pepper, garlic and crushed red pepper (optional) and let cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes until it has had time to soften. add black beans, cumin, garlic salt, salt and pepper. stir. let simmer on medium low until beans are heated through - 15-30 minutes.

yellow rice (adapted from emeril lagasse's from here - or make your own or buy some!):
3/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
pinch cinnamon
3 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons chicken bullion
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups long grain rice

in a medium saucepan, heat the turmeric, cumin, and cinnamon over low heat until fragrant, stirring, about 30 seconds. add the water, salt, and butter and bring to a boil. add the rice and stir well. cover and reduce heat to a bare simmer. cook, covered, without stirring until the water is absorbed and the rice is tender, about 20 minutes.

remove from the heat and let sit, covered, without stirring, for 10 minutes. fluff with a fork.

balsamic avocado dressing:

approximately equal amounts of chopped tomatoes, chopped red onion and sliced avocado. (not the best the next day, but if you're going to eat it all without leftovers i'd use about 4 medium/large tomatoes, 2/3 of a red onion and 2 avocados - cut that in half if you're going for leftovers the next day and make a fresh batch of dressing to go with.) cover in a drizzle of olive oil and drench in balsamic vinegar. stir well and let marinate for a few minutes before serving.

put beans on rice and top with dressing. add additional balsamic vinegar to taste if you'd like.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

reposting a favorite

i made this for my parents a few weeks ago and then for our little family again last night with a bunch of fresh veggies from my in-laws' garden. mmm.... it reminded me just how yummy it is and that i never posted a picture last time. hope you enjoy this one as much as we do!

and thanks to my husband for working some magic on the pics - they look pretty good, eh? maybe he has a future as a food photographer! :)

no-cream pasta primavera
4 servings
1 (12 ounce) package penne pasta (sometimes i use the whole 16 oz and just add a bit more sauce)
1 yellow squash, chopped
1 zucchini, chopped
1/2 red bell pepper, julienned (pricey! use green pepper or leave out! - or splurge)
1-2 tomatoes, chopped
1 cup fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
5 spears asparagus, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 teaspoons lemon zest (i like it better with a little less, but use your judgement!)
1-1 1/2 tablespoons dried basil (originally called for 1/3 cup fresh, but dried is cheap!)
1-1 1/2 tablespoons dried parsley (same as above - use fresh if you want to splurge!)
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese


1. preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.

2. bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. add penne pasta and cook for 10 to 12 minutes or until al dente; drain.

3. in a bowl, toss squash, zucchini, red bell pepper, tomatoes, green beans, and asparagus with 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt, pepper, lemon juice, and Italian seasoning. arrange vegetables on the baking sheet, and roast 15 minutes in the preheated oven, until tender.

4. heat butter in a large skillet. stir in the onion and garlic, and cook until tender. mix in cooked pasta, lemon zest, basil, parsley, and balsamic vinegar. gently toss and cook until heated through. remove from heat and transfer to a large bowl. toss with roasted vegetables and sprinkle with cheese to serve.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

recipe of the week: cornbread taco bake

i suddenly remembered this delicious dinner my friend emily brought us after i had my daughter. i just had to call her and get the recipe. it is such a yummy, kid-friendly dinner and we loved it! hope you do too.

cornbread taco bake
4 servings

1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef
1 can corn, drained (15 oz)
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
1/2 cup water
1/2 heaping cup chopped green bell pepper
1/4 of an onion, chopped
1 envelope taco seasoning

brown beef with onions, peppers and taco seasoning. add everything else and simmer until thickened. put in a greased 9X9 baking dish.

1 8.5 oz package of cornbread mix (i used 52 cent jiffy)
french fried onions
cheddar cheese

make cornbread mix according to package directions. add a few teaspoons of french fried onions to the batter. spoon over the top of the filling. bake in oven according to cornbread package directions, removing a few minutes before it is finished to add a few more french fried onions and shredded cheddar cheese to taste. return to oven and cook until cornbread is cooked through.

healthy cooking on a budget

disclaimer: i don't claim to be an expert on cooking, weight loss or even healthy eating, but i do love to cook, find healthy, taste bud-friendly tricks and most of all, i love to eat!

qualifications: what qualifies me to blog on cooking healthy on a small budget? well, as my husband is still a student, my budget is not what you'd call large. and as for the healthy part, when i was 10 i was diagnosed with pancreatitus - a disease that doesn't effect me much anymore unless i eat food that is too greasy or has too much fat (in which case, well, let's just say i get really sick). this had steered my experience and limited cooking expertise in a health-conscious direction.

please feel free to comment, criticise, rate recipes, try ideas and make requests for future posts!