Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Slow-Cooker Red Beans, Vegetables & Rice

I kind of forget about my slow cooker all summer but, as soon as the first hint of fall weather hits, I start imagining all different kind of dishes perfect for slow, unwatched cooking. The type of uncomplicated recipes where you throw a bunch of fresh ingredients in the crock pot, turn on the heat and forget about it until dinner is served. I seem to have so many days jammed-packed with meetings, appointments and projects that the thought of coming home to a delicious dinner without any work is so very appealing. (sound familiar?)

This recipe is a perfect example. Red beans, rice and vegetables all cooked together with spicy, Louisiana style seasonings. Delicious as is but perfect for dinner with grilled sausage and fresh spinach. So easy...so good. Fall is here my friends!  Enjoy...

Slow-Cooker Red Beans, Vegetables & Rice
(4 servings)

1 can red kidney beans, drained
1 white onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 leek, cleaned & chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 jalapeno, minced
2 carrots, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 teaspoons dried cumin
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1/2 cup brown rice, sprouted if possible
6 cups boiling water
sea salt
black pepper
1 cup chopped green onion or chives for garnish (optional)
Italian or apple-sage sausage, sliced and grilled (optional)
4 handfuls baby spinach leaves
Louisiana hot sauce (optional)

Add first 13 ingredients to the bowl of a slow-cooker. Add 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Cook on high setting for 6 hours. Test rice to ensure thoroughly cooked. If not, continue cooking for 1-2 additional hours. When rice is cooked, taste and adjust seasonings if needed.

To serve:
Mound 1 handful spinach on each plate. Top with red beans & rice, sausage (if using) and a sprinkling of green onions. Serve immediately with Louisiana hot sauce on the side.

It is "Slow-Cooker" week at Food Network's Fall Fest
roundup. Check out the other delicious sounding recipes from my blogger friends. Do you have a favorite slow-cooker recipe? Please share in the comments section and/or link to your blog if you have one. 

Feed Me Phoebe: Moroccan Lamb Chili with Chickpeas, Sweet Potatoes and Kale
The Lemon Bowl: 
Slow Cooker Chicken and Vegetables with Cinnamon and Garlic
Jeanette's Healthy Living: 
Slow Cooker Chicken Vegetable Stew with Rosemary, Thyme and Sage
Big Girls, Small Kitchen: 
Slow Cooker Cassoulet
Slow-Cooked Meals from Breakfast through Dessert
Napa Farmhouse 1885: 
Slow-Cooker New Mexican Vegetable Chowder
Red or Green: 
Slow Cooker Red Beans, Vegetables & Rice
The Cultural Dish: 
Slow-Cooker Beef Stew
Domesticate Me: 
Slow Cooker Apple Pie Oatmeal (Vegan and Gluten-Free)
Taste with the Eyes: 
Elegant Braised Leeks
FN Dish: 
6 Desserts to Cook Low and Slow

My best, 

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Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Pasta Puttanesca with Roasted Garlic

My husband loves pasta. He loves garlic. He loves anchovies. He loves spicy. Pasta Puttanesca is a no-brainer in terms of one of his favorite recipes.

Tomatoes, garlic, caramelized onion, anchovies, capers and olives slow cooked and then stirred into hot pasta. How good does that sound? Puttanesca, an Italian term, translates to "in the style of the whore".  There are so many stories about how this dish got its name. Most say something along the lines of  " a quick cooking, fragrant dish that prostitutes ate before beginning their nightly work". I somehow doubt that garlic and anchovies were conducive to a robust business! :) I think the more likely...albeit less provocative explanation... is provided by an Italian newspaper:

In a 2005 article from Il Golfo—a daily newspaper serving the Italian islands of Ischia and Procida—Annarita Cuomo asserted that sugo alla puttanesca was invented in the 1950s by Sandro Petti, co-owner of Rancio Fellone, a famous Ischian restaurant and nightspot. According to Cuomo, Petti's moment of inspiration came when—near closing one evening—Petti found a group of customers sitting at one of his tables. He was low on ingredients and so told them he didn't have enough to make them a meal. They complained that it was late and they were hungry. "Facci una puttanata qualsiasi," or "Make any kind of garbage," they insisted.a[›]Petti had nothing more than four tomatoes, two olives and some capers—the basic ingredients for the sugo, “So I used them to make the sauce for the spaghetti,” Petti told Cuomo. Later, Petti included this dish on his menu as spaghetti alla puttanesca. (provided by Wikipedia)

Whatever the origin, the dish is delicious. My recipe uses roasted garlic instead of fresh. Peter describes the finished result as a softer and more elegant version. Try it tonight and please let me know what you think. The recipe for roasted garlic allows you to roast as many garlic heads as you wish. Trust me...make at least a 1/2 dozen. You will thank me. Enjoy!

Pasta Puttanesca with Roasted Garlic
(serves 4 as a main course)

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small white onion, chopped
4 anchovy filets packed in olive oil, chopped
1 teaspoon red chili flakes
1 tablespoon dried Italian parsley
1 tablespoon capers, drained
3/4 cup kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
1 28 oz can or box organic diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon coconut sugar (or granulated)  if tomatoes are not super sweet (taste them!)
1 lb fettuccine pasta ( I used a spinach and chive fettuccine for this recipe) 
Chopped green onion or chives for garnish.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and saute 5 minutes or until translucent and just beginning to caramelize. Add the anchovies, red pepper flakes and parsley and cook for another minute, stirring to break up the anchovy. You want the anchovy to melt into the sauce.

Stir in the capers, olives, tomatoes including the juices, salt, pepper and sugar (if using). Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, add the roasted garlic and simmer for 30 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.

While the sauce is simmering, cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and add pasta to sauce skillet. Stir until pasta is coated with sauce. Garnish and serve immediately with plenty of good crusty bread to soak up the sauce.

Roasted Garlic 

You can make this with as many heads of garlic as you wish. This no-recipe recipe is as follows:

With a sharp knife, cut off the very top of each head of garlic...you should just see the very tip of the garlic cloves after cutting. Remove the first layer or two of papery garlic skin from the garlic head, not too much, you want the garlic cloves to remain attached. Place the garlic root side down in a small ovenproof pan or baking dish, you want the garlic to fit tightly in the pan, so the pan size will depend on the number of garlic heads you are roasting (make more than you need...the roasted garlic will last a few days...and you will use it in everything!) Drizzle cut side of garlic with extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with sea salt (I like grey salt) and freshly ground pepper. 

Cover pan tightly with foil and roast in a 375-degree oven for 20-30 minutes. Garlic should be very tender. remove the foil, drizzle with additional olive oil and continue roasting for 10 minutes more.

At this point you can squeeze the garlic from the cloves directly onto toasted french or sourdough bread which is lovely...or you can squeeze all the garlic into a small bowl, mash with a wooden spoon and drizzle with additional extra virgin olive oil to create a smooth paste. Taste and add additional salt/pepper if desired. Garlic and/or paste can be stirred into smashed potatoes, added to toasted/grilled bread, added to roasted or steamed vegetables, stirred into sauces, as a topping for pizza, etc. Once you taste it you will be inspired to add it to almost everything!

It is "Roasted Garlic" week at Food Network's Fall Fest
roundup. Check out the other delicious sounding recipes from my blogger friends. Do you have a favorite roasted garlic recipe? Please share in the comments section and/or link to your blog if you have one. 

The Lemon Bowl: Crispy Garlic Baked Chicken Breasts
Jeanette's Healthy Living: 
Roasted Garlic Tomato Pasta Sauce
Big Girls, Small Kitchen: 
Baking Sheet Spaghetti with Roasted Garlic, Peppers & Eggplant
Napa Farmhouse 1885: 
Red Swiss Chard with Roasted Garlic & Balsamic
Red or Green: 
Pasta Puttanesca with Roasted Garlic
Taste with the Eyes: 
Crusted Ahi with Roasted Garlic Tahini
Dishing With Divya: 
Baked Salmon with Garlic and Herbs
Virtually Homemade: 
Roasted Broccoli and Garlic with Feta Cheese
The Cultural Dish: 
Roasted Garlic Infused Olive Oil
Domesticate Me: 
Butternut Squash Soup with Roasted Garlic, Goat Cheese and Pepitas
The Mom 100: 
Roasted Garlic and Tomato Bread
Roasted Garlic Recipes Worth Worshipping 
FN Dish: 
10 Excuses to Eat Roasted Garlic



Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Spiced Pumpkin Waffles with Maple Syrup Glazed Bacon

Pumpkin...Spices...Maple Syrup...Bacon. How good does that sound? Perfect for breakfast, Sunday brunch or a fall/winter supper, this meal is fast, easy, comforting and delicious. The spices in the waffle batter smell amazing when baking...reminds me the seasons are changing. The waffles cook up light and crispy with a subtle pumpkin pie flavor. I am starting to plan my Thanksgiving weekend menu and this definitely makes the list.

The bacon recipe is one of my favorites. First of all, the bacon is baked in the oven not fried on the stove top. This results in an easier, less messy way to cook bacon. (I love not having grease splattered all over the kitchen). The maple syrup glaze puts this dish over the top. In addition to breakfast, the bacon is wonderful crumbled into salads, added to the best BLT you will ever eat, served with baked chicken, greens, even crumbled on top of vanilla ice cream (sounds odd but give it a try)  Pumpkin Waffles & Maple Syrup Bacon! Happy October everyone...

Spiced Pumpkin Waffles with Maple Syrup Glazed Bacon
6-8 servings
(These waffles are more savory than sweet. Double the sugar if you prefer a sweeter waffle)

1 1/2 cups white whole wheat flour
1 cup unbleached flour
1 tablespoon  baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
4 large eggs
1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 3/4 cups almond or coconut milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons maple syrup
1 cup canned pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1/4 cup coconut sugar (or organic brown sugar)

Preheat waffle iron. Combine flours, baking powder, soda, salt and spices in a medium-sized bowl. Whisk together and set aside.

Beat eggs into a large bowl. Add butter, milk, vanilla, maple syrup, pumpkin and sugar. Stir to combine. Gently fold the flour mixture into the wet ingredients. Stir just to combine. Do not over mix.

Cook waffles according to your waffle maker's instructions. Serve with butter and warm maple syrup.

Maple Syrup Glazed Bacon
1 lb thick-cut applewood smoked bacon
1/3-1/2 cup pure maple syrup

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with foil  Add a wire baking rack to each sheet and place the bacon on top of the rack(s). Brush maple syrup on bacon slices using a pastry brush.

Bake bacon in preheated oven for 10 minutes. Remove from oven, flip slices. Brush with additional syrup and return to oven for another 5-10 minutes. Caution! Watch bacon carefully during the last few minutes...it goes from cooked to burnt really fast!

Remove from oven and place bacon slices on paper towel lined plate. Serve immediately.

It is "Pumpkin" week at Food Network's Fall Fest
roundup. Check out the other delicious sounding recipes from my blogger friends. Do you have a favorite pumpkin recipe? Please share in the comments section and/or link to your blog if you have one. 

Bacon and Souffle: Easy Pumpkin Bundt Cake
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Pumpkin and Chocolate Chip Cake
Elephants and the Coconut Trees: Pumpkin Snickerdoodle Cookies 
The Cultural Dish: Baked Pumpkin Doughnuts 
Haute Apple Pie: Pumpkin Bread Truffles 
I Am Baker: Pumpkin Spice Puppy Chow 
Taste With The Eyes: Savory Little Pumpkins with Labneh, Zaatar and Pumpkin Seed Oil


Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Cauliflower & Peppers Pasta with Pesto

So it is harvest and our local farmers' market is jam packed with delicious end of summer/early fall produce. Last Saturday I bought bushels of cauliflower, bell peppers, cilantro, tomatoes and a large bag of garlic perfect for storing in the pantry this winter. The weather people warned of chilly 34-degree nights this week so I harvested the remaining basil from my garden.  What to make? Pasta with loads of vegetables and pesto of course.

Happily, this is cauliflower week at Food Network's Fall Fest so the timing for this recipe could not be better. The vegetables are pan-charred for taste and texture and the spicy pesto is made with basil, (I used green and purple varieties today) cilantro, red pepper flakes, cheese and walnuts. Oh...and extra virgin olive oil. Use a big, bold, spicy oil for this dish. You will have leftover pesto which I think is a huge benefit. Cover the remaining pesto with olive oil and Saran wrap and keep in your fridge for a few days. Perfect as a spread on sandwiches, as a dip for fresh vegetables, dolloped on soup or just eat with crackers, cheese and bread for a wonderful lunch or appetizer plate.  So very good!

Cauliflower & Peppers Pasta with Spicy Pesto
serves 8

(you will have leftover pesto...score!)

2 cups fresh basil leaves
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
2 cloves garlic
3/4 cup walnuts
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil (use a bold, spicy one for this), plus more for covering
sea salt
black pepper
1/2-1 Tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Add first 5 ingredients to the bowl of a  food processor. Pulse until pureed. Add olive oil, a pinch each salt and pepper and 1/2 Tsp red pepper flakes to puree. Pulse until well mixed and very smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings if desired. Add remaining red pepper flakes if you want it a bit spicier. Scrape into small bowl and cover with a thin coating of olive oil.  Set aside.


(serves 8)

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
2 yellow bell peppers, cored, seeded and cut into 2 inch pieces
1/2 white or yellow onion, chopped
sea salt
black pepper
1 lb whole wheat pasta (any tubular shape you like...mostaccioli, penne, ziti...whatever you like)
1 large tomato, cut into 1 inch pieces
Parmigiano-Reggiano, shredded, for serving

Heat a large skillet until hot. Add the olive oil and the cauliflower and bell peppers. Allow to cook, without stirring, for 5-7 minutes or until charred in spots and heated through. Using tongs, turn vegetables and cook on the other side an additional 5 minutes until charred. (You want very deep brown color but do not let burn). Stir in onions and 1/2 Tsp each salt and pepper. Cook an additional 2 minutes. Turn off heat and set aside.

Cook pasta according to package directions ensuring water is well salted. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta water. Add pasta to skillet with cauliflower over medium heat. Stir in 1/2 cup pesto and 1/4 cup pasta water. Taste and adjust seasonings if desired. Add additional pesto and pasta water if pasta is too dry. Stir in tomato and serve with additional olive oil and cheese drizzled over top. Enjoy!

    It is "Cauliflower" week at Food Network's Fall Fest
    roundup. Check out the other delicious sounding recipes from my blogger friends. Do you have a favorite cauliflower recipe? Please share in the comments section and/or link to your blog if you have one. 

    The Lemon Bowl: Slow Cooker Indian Butter Chicken with Cauliflower 
    Feed Me Phoebe: Vegan Cauliflower Soup with Red Curry
    Jeanette's Healthy Living: Hash Brown Cauliflower and Potatoes 
    The Cultural Dish: Cauliflower and Leek Soup 
    Dishing with Divya: Gobi Manchurian
    Napa Farmhouse 1885: Smokey Cauliflower Soup with Parmigiano-Reggiano
    Red or Green: Cauliflower and Peppers Pasta with Spicy Pesto
    Swing Eats: Cauliflower T-Bone Steaks with Olive, Lemon and Parsley
    Dishin & Dishes: Curried Cauliflower Chowder
    Domesticate Me: Three Cheese Cauliflower Gratin
    Weelicious: Vegetarian Tagine
    Devour: 5 Reasons to Make Cauliflower Immediately
    Elephants and the Coconut Trees: Cauliflower Breadsticks
    Taste With The Eyes: Spiced Roasted Cauliflower with Walnut, Cilantro, Mint
    FN Dish: Reasons to Reconsider Cauliflower (recipes)


    Follow Me on Pinterest
    I have started sharing my "California Girl in Taos blog"  Please visit and let me know what you think.