Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Vegetarian Quinoa Chili

My plan to post twice this week doesn't look like it will work out. Instead I will leave you with this delicious vegetarian chili made with the super grain quinoa. I enjoy a hearty meaty chili but this veggie version is still hearty without being as heavy. This recipe is also well suited to the warmer weather we are having and hopefully continue to have.

Don't forget that quinoa must be cleaned prior to using in a recipe. To clean, place the quinoa into a fine mesh strainer and run water through it. Repeat the process until the water runs clear.

Vegetarian Quinoa Chili
recipe adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod

½ cup quinoa, rinsed
1 cup water
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, diced
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 medium zucchini, chopped
2 (15 ounce) can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
3 (15 ounce) cans diced tomatoes
2 (8 ounce) cans tomato sauce
1 tablespoon ancho chile powder
½ tablespoon ground cumin
Salt and black pepper, to taste
Optional toppings: green onions, avocado slices, cheese, sour cream, Greek yogurt, chips, crackers, etc.

In a medium sauce pan, combine the quinoa and water. Cook over medium heat until water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Set aside.

Spray the stoneware insert of a 6 quart slow cooker with cooking spray. Combine the onion, garlic, jalapeƱo, carrot, celery, peppers, and zucchini, black beans, kidney beans, tomatoes, and tomato sauce. Stir in the cooked quinoa. Season with chili powder, cumin, salt, and black pepper. Stir well and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours until the vegetables are tender.

Serve warm garnished with the toppings of your choice.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Grilled Eggplant Bites

This past week has brought unseasonably warm weather to my neighborhood. Every where I look, people are outside taking advantage of the sunshine and warm temperatures. There are a multitude of reasons to enjoy the climate change, but my favorite is the ability to start grilling outdoors again. 

Grilled Eggplant Bites
recipe courtesy of Maryland Meals

1 eggplant
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 tomatoes, sliced
½ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 garlic cloves, minced
Fresh herbs to garnish (dill, basil, oregano, thyme, etc)
Salt and pepper

Slice eggplants, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper.

Grill until the eggplant slices are cooked, about 5 minutes on an electric grill, you can also fry or bake the eggplant slices.

Meanwhile mix the grated parmesan cheese, garlic, mayonnaise and pepper in a small bowl.

Arrange the eggplant slices on a plate, top each one with a slice of tomato and a spoonful of the mayonnaise mixture. Garnish each appetizer chopped herbs of your choice. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Individual Peanut Butter Pie Trifle

You may have noticed the lack of regular posting in recent weeks. Ideally I post on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays but lately I have been feeling uninspired in the kitchen. Lack of inspiration usually means I am cooking old standbys or just throwing a bunch of things together without writing recipes down or taking any pictures. My usual sources of inspiration include many wonderful food blogs and leisurely trips to my local market. Sadly I have been so busy that I have not had the time to do either of these things. For the next month or two hope to post once or twice a week until my schedule sorts itself out. Now on to the recipe...

I am still pretty green when it comes to blogging and social media and I was very much a newbie when this story popped up on my Twitter feed. The original Twitter link was to an article about Jennifer Perillo and her husband Mikey. I was so touched by Jennifer's loss that I spent the better part of 2 days reading through her many blog posts. My heart ached for the woman who lost her husband and for the little girls that lost their father far too young. Jeannie's post titled for mikey was a reminder to me to take time out to unplug and enjoy the company of those I cherish most. I recommend using 4 ounce jelly jars to easily transport and share these trifles with your loved ones.

Individual Peanut Butter Pie Trifle
recipe courtesy of My Baking Addiction originally adapted from In Jennie's Kitchen

For the crust
16 Oreo cookies
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For the filling
1 cup heavy cream
8 ounces cream cheese
1 cup creamy-style peanut butter
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place the Oreo cookies into the bowl of a food processor and pulse into fine crumbs. In a small bowl, combine cookie crumbs and melted butter and stir.

Evenly divide the crumbs between your individual serving dishes and press into the bottoms of the dishes to form a crust layer.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment or in a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the heavy cream until stiff peaks form. Transfer whipped cream to a small bowl and place it into the refrigerator while you prepare the rest of the filling.

Place cream cheese and peanut butter the mixing bowl and beat on medium speed until smooth. Reduce speed to low and gradually add in confectioners' sugar until well combined. Add in sweetened condensed milk and vanilla and beat on medium speed until mixture is creamy and smooth. Take care to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.

Stir in 1/3 of the whipped cream into the filling mixture. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the remaining whipped cream until well blended until no streaks remain.

Evenly pipe or spoon the filling into individual serving dishes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours before serving. If desired, garnish with whipped cream and chocolate curls.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Slow Cooker Parmesan Garlic Chicken

I love the convenience of using my slow cooker to get a hot meal on the table quickly. Since I am usually gone for at least 10 hours a day during the work week, using the slow cooker with boneless, skinless chicken breasts can be tricky. My slow cooker came with a cooking rack that I usually ignore in favor of dumping my ingredients directly into the removable crock. Because I was only cooking chicken without any vegetables I decided to give the cooking rack a try. I placed the rack in the bottom of the removable crock then placed the chicken on top, added the 3 tablespoons of wine and cooked on low for 8 hours. The cooker automatically switched to warm for the remaining 2 hours. The result was perfectly moist and tender chicken with tons of flavor. I served this alongside leftover Roasted Vegetable Orzo.

Slow Cooker Parmesan Garlic Chicken
recipe courtesy of How Sweet Eats

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 tablespoons olive oil
6 tablespoons dry white wine
½ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon pepper
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon dried parsley
¼ cup finely grated parmesan cheese + 2 tablespoons

The night before, season chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Whisk together 3 tablespoons olive oil, cheese, basil, parsley, garlic and 3 tablespoons of wine in a bowl. Place chicken in a large ziptop bag, then pour marinade over top and coat chicken. Keep in the fridge overnight.

The next morning, place chicken in your slow cooker with 3 tablespoons of wine. Cook on low for 6-8 hours. Remove chicken from slow cooker and serve with Roasted Vegetable Orzo.