Recent Recipes

Hungarian Beef Goulash

Comments (1) | Sunday, February 20, 2011

Goulash is really a very unattractive sounding dish.  It doesn't sound fancy or pretty or even very appetizing.  It is a very guttural word.  To be honest the dish doesn't look all that beautiful either, but let's get one thing straight...this dish is wonderful.  It is hearty, filling, comforting and delicious all wrapped up into one little package.  Add to that the fact that the dish is extremely easy and you definitely have a winner in our book. 

Hungarian Beef Goulash
Adapted from Eating Well
Makes 4 Servings
1 lb. beef stew meat
2 t. caraway seeds
1 T. Hungarian Paprika
1/4 t. salt
fresh ground pepper to taste
1 medium onion, chopped
1 small red bell pepper, chopped
1 c. diced tomatoes
1 c. low sodium beef broth
1 t. Worcestershire sauce
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bay leaf
1 T. corn starch mixed with 2 T. water 
parsley, chopped (optional)

1) Using the bottom of a sauce pan, crush the caraway seeds.  Add the beef to your slow cooker and season with the caraway seeds, paprika, salt and pepper.  Toss well to coat.  Add the remaining ingredients up through the bay leaf to a slow cooker.  Mix thoroughly and cook on low for 8 hours.

2) Discard the bay leaf and skim any visible fat from the top of the broth.   Add the cornstarch mixture and cook on high for 10-15 minutes until the mixture has thickened somewhat.  Sprinkle with parsley and serve over whole wheat pasta.

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Kung Pao Tofu

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As reformed vegetarians there are certain dishes that you can get either vegetarian or not, but you liked them so much in the vegetarian state that you feel like there is no need to eat them with meat in them.  Kung Pao Tofu is one of those dishes.  We realize that they make Kung Pao with beef, chicken and seafood as well as with tofu, but we just really like it with tofu and just don't see the point of adding meat.  Sure meat can be tasty, but tofu really can be as well.  Plus tofu is a LOT cheaper than ethical meat. 

Kung Pao Tofu
Adapted from Jaime Cooks
Makes 4 Servings
1 c. brown rice
1 12 oz. package Extra Firm Tofu, well drained and diced
3 T. sesame oil, divided
1/2 large onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 c. water
4 T. low sodium soy sauce
2 t. corn starch
1 t. sucanat
1 1/2 t. crushed red pepper flakes
1 t. fresh ginger, minced
1 red bell pepper thinly sliced
1 c. snow peas
1/8 c. roasted unsalted peanuts

1) Bring 2 c. water to a boil and add rice.  Reduce heat to low and let simmer for 45 minutes until rice is tender.  When done fluff with a fork before serving.

2) Meanwhile heat a wok or a large skillet over medium heat.  Add 2 T. of the sesame oil.  Add the tofu to the pan and cook turing occasionally until tofu begins to brown, about 5 minutes.  Remove tofu from the wok and set aside. 

3) Add the onion to the pan and let saute about 4 minutes until the onions begin to soften.  Add the garlic and cook another 30 seconds, stirring constantly.  Add the tofu back to the pan. 

4) Combine water with the soy sauce, corn starch, sucanat, and crushed red pepper flakes.  Add this mixture to the pan and bring it to a boil.  Add the red bell pepper and the snow peas and toss to coat with the sauce in the pan.  Let the vegetable cook for about 2-3 minutes until they are beginning to be tender, but still crisp.  Toss in the peanuts and serve over brown rice. 

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Black Bean and Avocado Fudge

Comments (2) | Thursday, February 17, 2011

When one hears of fudge made with black beans and avocados one will usually wonder how good that is going to taste.  Surprisingly it is pretty darn good.  We found this recipe and since Cassie will immediately go for anything that has avocado in it we knew we were going to have to give it a try.  The results were great.  It is a very tasty and pretty darn healthy treat that is great for a chocolaty dessert of even guilt free enough for a weekday snack.  We have actually taken to making these on a weekly basis as a snack to take with us to work.  Delicious, pretty healthy, full of protein, and easy to make.  Can't get much better than that.  These are very tasty fresh, but honestly they get even better when you let them sit overnight.

To make these you would usually use an 8x8 pan.  We used a round 9 inch cake pan since we don't currently have an 8x8 pan.  What can we say?  We just don't make very many brownies.  Since we found this recipe we will definitely be buying an 8x8 pan soon.  You can use either pan.  They both work great, but a square pan makes it easier to cut into uniform servings.    

Black Bean and Avocado Fudge
Adapted from  Branny Boils Over
Makes 12 Servings
1 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
5 egg whites
1/4 c. agave nectar
1 small ripe avocado
6 T. cocoa powder
pinch of salt
1 t. vanilla extract
6 t. evaporated cane juice

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line your baking pan with parchment paper (8x8 or 9 in round)

2) In a food processor combine black beans, egg white, agave, and the avocado.  Puree until smooth making sure there are no chunks of beans or avocado.

3) Add in the cocoa powder, salt, vanilla and evaporated cane juice and blend until everything is well mixed.  Scrape down the sides of the food processor if necessary.

4) Pour into your parchment lined pan and spread evenly.  Bake for 30-35 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let cool, slice and enjoy

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Literary Lunch: A Confederacy of Dunces Hot Dogs

Comments (2) | Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Books are pretty important part of our daily lives in the Barber home.  We read a lot of books in various genres and both of us actually went to school to become librarians.  I am sure you can only imagine that with 2 librarian types in the house we have quite a number of books and this with Jason's constant weeding of our collection.  In fact we just realized that we have three problems.  1) We are totally out of space on our current bookshelves.  2) We have been on a bit of a book buying spree lately so we have quite a few homeless books at the moment.  3) We can't bring ourselves to get rid of any more books to make room.  We have already weeded as much as we dare to.  Those three things brought us to the realization that we need a new book case...and soon.

So what does this have to do with our blog?  Well our love of books and our love of food have somehow combined to create a monthly series that we will call Literary Lunch.  As we have both realized recently a lot of books discuss food quite a bit amongst their pages.  That got us thinking that we could use the books we read as inspiration for some of the meals we eat.  These posts may or may not include a recipe, but we will discuss the book briefly and how the food fits into the picture.  You can look for meals posted on the 15th of every month.

So on to our first book/meal of choice.  We chose the book A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole.  This is a pretty odd and amazing book and we definitely thoroughly enjoyed it.  The book is about Ignatius Jacques Reilly and his exploits.  Ignatius is an adult male that lives at home with his widowed mother and basically sponges off her as he takes time to critique modern society.  He has biting commentary for almost anything and everything.  His favorite pastimes include going to the movies to yell at the screen, eating, and spending time alone in his room or in the bathroom.  Along the way his mother begins to stand up for herself and makes Ignatius go out to find a job.  Ignatius manages to get a job as a hot dog vendor.  So without telling you any more of the story we present the A Confederacy of Dunces Hot Dog.

There is no recipe here this month, because honestly it isn't difficult to make a hot dog, but we thought it would be a great first for our Literary Lunch Series.  It certainly makes for a satisfying Saturday lunch just as the book A Confederacy of Dunces makes for a truly entertaining read.  Enjoy!

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Cocoa-Infused Black Bean Soup

Comments (0) | Sunday, February 13, 2011

We have mentioned before how much we like our grocery store, Natural Grocers.  They sell really quality products and always have tons of great meal ideas in there store.  This meal came from their magazine they were giving away Delicious Living.  In the February 2011 issue they have a section on cooking with cocoa.  This instantly drew our attention and when we saw the black bean soup we knew we had to make it.  It just sounded way too good. 

Cocoa-Infused Black Bean Soup
Adapted from February 2011 Delicious Living
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 red onion, diced
3 bay leaves
1/2 t. salt
2 stalks celery, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 c. tomato puree
1 t. chili powder
1/4-1/2 t. cayenne pepper
4 c. low sodium vegetable broth
1 25 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 T. Dutch-process cocoa powder
1/2 t. black pepper
1/4 t. paprika
1 c. cilantro, coarsely chopped 

1) Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add onion, bay leaves and salt.  Cook for about 4-5 minutes until the onion begin to soften.  Add the celery, carrots, and bell pepper.  Continue cooking for another 7-8 minutes.  Add the chili powder and cayenne pepper and stir to coat.  Cook for about 30 seconds to 1 minute until fragrant.  Add the vegetable broth and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

2) Stir in beans, cocoa powder, pepper and paprika.  Simmer for 5 more minutes.  Stir in the cilantro and serve. 

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Swiss Chard Lasagna Roll Ups

Comments (0) | Monday, February 7, 2011

A trendy food ingredient has emerged in recent years.  This ingredient has caused some concern on our part and we could even go as far to say that we are disturbed by this trend.  Pine nuts are taking over food.  You see them topping salads, mixed in sauces, pesto is everywhere...Wait...Why is this disturbing?

Well it is only really disturbing if you are like Cassie and have severe allergy to pine nuts.  One bite or drop of cross contamination sparks a pretty nasty reaction that can last for days and often leads to a trip to the Emergency Room.  It also makes eating out at restaurants that use pine nuts slightly dangerous.  Cross contamination is a big issue in those busy kitchens for people with severe food allergies.  Plus there are so many really yummy looking recipes out there that call for pine nuts!  At least with those recipes we aren't afraid to take them on and either omit the pine nuts completely or sub them out for another nut.  That is the case with these really yummy Swiss Chard Lasagna Roll-ups that we made.  We used walnuts in place of the pine nuts and it made for a really satisfying meal.

Swiss Chard Lasagna Roll-ups
Adapted from Leslie Sarna
Serves 4-6
12 oz. ground chicken
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 medium onion, chopped

12 Swiss Chard Leaves, washed and the stalks removed
3 c. prepared tomato sauce (jarred or homemade)
15 oz. part skim ricotta cheese
1/3 c. golden rasins
1/3 c. walnuts
1/2 c. Parmesan cheese, shredded and divided
1/2 c. mozzarella cheese, shredded and divided
salt and pepper

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Prepare a casserole for your oven by spraying it with olive oil cooking spray.  Spoon about 1/2 a c. of the tomato sauce into the bottom of the casserole dish to cover it. 

2) Brown ground chicken in a medium skillet over medium heat with the onion and the 2 minced garlic cloves.  When it is cooked through, drain the meat and set aside to cool slightly.

3) In a medium to large bowl combine the ricotta, raisins, walnuts, 1/4 c. of the Parmesan and 1/4 c. of the Mozzarella.  Once the chicken has cooled a little mix it in with the cheese mixture.  Season to taste with salt and pepper. 

4)  To prepare the roll-ups take 1 chard leaf and spoon about 1/3 c. of the mixture on to one end of the leaves.  Roll it up in the leaves tucking the sides in (like a burrito) to keep the filling inside the chard leaves and then place into the casserole dish.  Do this to all 12 leaves.  You may have some filling leftover.  Pour the remaining sauce over the roll-ups and then sprinkle the remaining Parmesan and mozzarella on top.

5) Bake in the oven about 20-25 minutes until the cheese is melted and beginning to brown.

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