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Monday, July 18, 2016

Recipe Review from 7/11/2016

Busy week work wise, which were balanced out with some super simple but awesome meals.   Some meal plan shifting was required since I ended up with more leftovers than I had initially anticipated.  

The Meal Plan:
Sat  (L) Grilled Eggplant Planks (leftovers, see previous recipe review)
       (S)  brats over a camp fire with Drunken Beans
Sun (L) leftover brats  (S)  "Family Favorite Salad" via pinterest
Mon (yoga) leftovers
Tues - leftovers
Wed - Black Bean burgers  Leftover drunken beans w/rice
Thurs (yoga) leftover beans and rice
Fri - Out

Lunches - Mediterranean Pasta Salad

Drunken Beans (modified America's Test Kitchen TV Show Ckbk) gluten free option**
The Husband and I just purchased a Lodge enameled cast iron pot and the inaugural recipe was this batch of baked beans.  I used navy beans instead of pinto because I had a jar on hand.   I skipped the lime and cheese because I didn't want a wedge of Cojita cheese to use up. 

By all accounts, this should have been a Mexican-flavorful dish, with nuances of smoky tequila and tangy beer, yummy bacon and the freshness of cilantro in the background.   What it was, was  bland, which surprised me to no end.  On the other hand, this was tasty when scooped up in a tortilla chip.

Would I make these again?  Probably.  This dish would be great for a potluck (made ahead and reheated) because it's not spicy.  I can also see this as part a rice and bean dish (which will happen as leftovers), or part of breakfast with some Chorizo sausage, scrambled eggs, salsa and a crisped corn tortilla.

photo from Scifi with Paprika Blog
1 lb (2 1/2 cups) dried pinto beans, picked over and rinsed (I used Navy beans)
30 springs fresh cilantro (about 1 bunch)
4 sliced bacon, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1 onion, chopped fine
2 poblano chilies, stemmed, seeded, and chopped fine (I used one large)
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup tequila
2 bay leaves
1 cup Mexican lager** (use extra H20 or veggie stock)
1/4 cup tomato paste
2 limes, quartered
1 oz Cotija cheese, crumbled (1/2 cup)

My note:  the directions below are what I did to prepare the beans, which differed from ATK's original recipe. 

1.  Place beans in a 5-6qt slow cooker.   Add (filtered) water until beans are submerged 2".   Cook on low 6-8 hours.   I went with 6 hours to slightly under cook them.  Beans were 'al dente', with just a small bit of resistance when bitten into.  

2.  (ATK)  Adjust oven rack to lower - middle position and preheat to 275* (I used my grill so I wouldn't heat up the house)Pick leaves from 20 cilantro springs, reserving stems.  Mince and refrigerate.   Using kitchen twine, tie remaining cilantro sprigs into a bundle and set aside.

3. Cook bacon in a Dutch oven over medium heat, stirring occasionally until bacon is crisp.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon to a paper towel-lined bowl and set aside (I removed excess fat and left about 1-2 tbsp.  I don't like my food swimming in bacon fat, as yummy as that flavor is).  Add onion, garlic and chile, sti rring frequently, until vegetables are soft, 6-7 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Add tequila and cook until evaporated, 3-4 minutes.  Return to heat.  Increase heat to high; stir in 3 1/2 cups water (I used 3 cups because I cooked beans longer at the start), 1 tsp salt, beans and cilantro bundle; and bring to a boil.  cover, transfer to oven, and cook until beans are just soft, 45-60 minutes.

4.  Remove pot from oven.  Discard bay leaves and cilantro bundle.  Stir in beer and tomato paste and bring to a simmer over medium-low heat.  Simmer vigorously, stirring frequently, uliquid is thick and beans are fully tender, about 30 minutes.  Season with salt to taste.  Serve with minced cilantro, bacon, (lime wedges and Cotija cheese). 

 Family Favorite Salad (Gimmie Some Oven via Pinterest)  vegetarian, gluten free
This was a really awesome salad!  After a conversation with a friend, I decided to make it a "build your own" due to the amount of wet-ish ingredients.   I'm very glad I did, because this salad could get soupy fast between the artichokes, the drained red peppers and the dressing.

Ironically, my friend made this the same weekend I did, but she *did* combine everything and she noted there was waaayyy to much dressing.  I'm always an advocate for serving dressing on the side and that's why.  Plus, by keeping the ingredients separate, this will say fresh longer in the fridge.

The flavors in this are fresh and tangy.  This would be perfect for a potluck (serve dressing on the side!).  I thought a grilled chicken breast would be a perfect compliment if you wanted something a tich more substantial or needed a protein hit.

Highly recommended!
photo from Gimme Some Oven blog

Salad Ingredients:

  • 1 head red-leaf lettuce, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 head Romaine lettuce, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • half of a small red onion, peeled and thinly-sliced   (I skipped)
  • 2 (14 ounce) jars quartered artichoke hearts, drained and roughly chopped
  • 1 (12 ounce) jar roasted red peppers, drained and diced
  • 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1 batch zesty red wine vinaigrette
  • optional garnish: extra freshly-grated Parmesan cheese

Zesty Red Wine Vinaigrette Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup red-wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly-cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder  (I used 1 grated garlic clove)
To Make The Salad:
Add all ingredients together in a large bowl, and toss until evenly combined.  Serve immediately, garnished with extra Parmesan cheese if desired.

To Make The Vinaigrette:
Whisk all ingredients together until combined.  (Or add them together in a mason jar, and shake until combined.)  Use immediately.

Mediterranean Pasta Salad  (Gimmie Some Oven via Pinterest)  vegetarian, gluten free option**
Double hit on the vinaigrette's this week!   This was for lunches.  Oh so tasty, tasty, tasty!   I did think a can of chopped artichoke quarters would really have put this over the top into divine.  This comes together very quickly, packed well for lunches, and was good with a side of fruit.  My two alterations were I didn't add the cucumbers because I'm just not a fan.  I packed those separate for the husband.  And I skipped the red onion because I don't like raw onion breath at work. 

Highly recommended. 
photo from Gimme Some Oven

 Salad Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces dry farfalle pasta (I used whole 16oz box)**
  • 1 English (hot house) cucumber, diced
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2/3 cup sliced kalamata olives
  • 4 ounces crumbled feta cheese
  • half of a medium red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • lemon-herb vinaigrette (see below)

Lemon-Herb Vinaigrette Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon freshly-squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano, minced
  • 1 teaspoon honey (or your desired sweetener)
  • 2 small garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly-cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
Whisk all ingredients together until combined.

  1. Cook the pasta al dente in a large stockpot of salted water according to package instructions.  Drain pasta, then rinse under cold water for about 20-30 seconds until no longer hot.  Transfer the pasta to a large mixing bowl.
  2. Add cucumber, tomatoes, kalamata olives, feta cheese, and red onion to the mixing bowl, then drizzle all of the vinaigrette evenly on top.  Toss until all of the ingredients are evenly coated with the dressing.
  3. Serve immediately, garnished with extra feta and black pepper if desired.

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