Sunday, June 26, 2011

Hoppin' John

I love Hoppin' John. No, it's not the name of a character actor from Gunsmoke. If you are a southerner, you know it as that lucky to eat on New Year's Day plate of deliciousness made with rice and black eyed peas.

I like it all the time - thus expanding my luck exponentially! I don't make it the exact same way every time as how it ends up depends on what is in my pantry and fridge. Today's version was the "convenient" way. Here's what I assembled before, yes I assemble everything before cooking. I chop and measure too everything ahead of time too, if I am measuring things. Sometimes I just use the look, smell, and taste method of measuring. Onions and garlic actually undergo a chemical alteration from having their lovely insides exposed to air that adds to the healthy aspects, see World's Healthiest Foods for a great article about what happens to garlic when it sits a bit after being cut.

Today's Hoppin' John was made from... 

1 T pure olive oil (not extra virgin because it is to be heated - use Pure Olive Oil)
1/2 an onion, chopped (see link above about exposing to air as they are the same as garlic)
3 jalapenos, split, deseeded, cut into ribbons and then diced
2 garlic cloves, chopped (see link above about exposing to air)
1 T chili powder - this time I used a blend made by Gebhardt as they do a pretty darn good blend and I didn't feel like measuring a bunch of powders
2 t dried cumin
fresh cracked black pepper - a bunch
1 t dried thyme
1 package of pecan smoked beef sausage cut into chunks
2 cans black eyed peas with snaps - rinse the crud out of them well (see this post for why)
1 can chopped tomatoes with green chilis (get Eden brand so you don't have to rinse tomatoes which would ruin the things)
some low sodium organic beef stock - I am going to guess somewhere between a cup or two
Brown rice cooked separately

Cooking is a cinch using these ingredients - Get a big pot with a lid. Heat the pot over medium heat and then add the olive oil and chopped onions. Saute for a bit before adding the jalapeno and garlic - saute for one more minute. Then add all the seasonings and stir for another minute - I like to do this because I am totally convinced it helps to blend and "finish" the flavors of the spices.

Then, dump in all the other stuff except the stock and stir. Add enough stock so that it will simmer but not be soupy. Best to under guess the amount and add more later if it looks dry - which it should not be at all. There needs to be a sort of stew like consistency when it's done.

Bring the stuff to a boil, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for about 1/2 an hour. Taste and adjust the seasonings to your preference. Serve over hot brown rice.

Here's some changes you could make:

You might not be a spicy person and would want to not add the jalapenos. Or you might think, well, that's not very spicy at all - if you think that, add any super hot chili pepper you want.

You might like more onion, I actually do, but my son was home and he is not an onion fan, odd though that may be.

You might think - tomatoes! Blech! Well, just use stock - veggie, chicken, or beef as you prefer.

You might prefer bacon to sausage, or you may be a vegetarian (Hi, Janette!) and will totally not use that nasty old meat nor will you use beef broth - so add whatever you like to use instead of meaty things and use veggie stock instead.

Try a mix of different chili powders - like ancho and chipotle (my personal fave is 3 x more ancho to chipotle). Experiment as they all taste different and the only way to find out what you like is to try it. If you use cayenne, do be very very careful and judicious at first.

You might also think - BPA??? Dried beans for me! That's fine, just prep the beans before doing the other stuff.

Sometimes I add some chopped sweet red pepper too just because I like sweet red pepper.

Vegetarian Times Picnic Sandwich

The last time I went on a picnic, I greeted with a vast array of foods based on two main ingredients - mayo and/or salt. It gets to 100 plus degrees here in Houston on a regular basis. Mayo based recipes are not safe here and I will not eat them - I've never understood why they are a mainstay of the picnic anyway as they are so often the cause of much digestive distress later on. Salt just makes me more thirsty (besides being not particularly good for my blood pressure), so I try to avoid that too. Between the mayo, salt, mosquitoes, and oppressive heat I did not have a particularly great time. I did eat a real nice multi-bean salad. But how many beans can you eat and call it a meal? This sandwich from Vegetarian Times was awesome. Easy to make, no mayo, and I could make it the day before because it was a good thing that the juices soaked into the bread! Win! A most mindful sandwich indeed.

Vegetarian Times Picnic Sandwich

Serves 6
1 small eggplant, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch
1 small zucchini, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch 
Click here for more from Vegetarian Times!
1 small yellow squash, cut length-wise into 1/4-inch slices
3 Tbs. olive oil, divided
1 large loaf ciabatta bread, halved
1/3 cup prepared pesto
1/3 cup prepared tapenade
2 jarred roasted red peppers, sliced
1 8-oz. pkg. fresh mozzarella, drained and sliced
2 Tbs. balsamic vinegar

For the rest of the directions, click here! Many thanks to the nice mindful folks at Vegetarian Times for allowing me to post this recipe!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Calabrian White Bean Stew & Pan Sauteed Garlic Bread Cubes

CalabrianWhite Bean Stew is simple, delicious and very satisfying on many levels. Aromatic rosemary, pretty colors, a satisfyingly thick broth, and rustic crunchy homemade garlic infused croutons make this low calorie nutrient rich meal a mindful feast - wonderfully paired with a simple romaine and sweet red pepper salad.

Recipe: Calabrian White Bean Stew
Nutrition facts

Stew Ingredients:

3 cans white beans of your choice such as Cannellini or Great Northern – empty into a colander and rinse well to remove the sodium and the stuff from the can lining (unless you use Eden which has BPA free cans)
1 T pure olive oil
1 onion, rough chopped
3 large or several baby carrots, rough chopped (or as many carrots as you want if you love carrots stick a lot in there!)
4 fresh garlic cloves chopped (don't use the stuff in a jar unless you prefer mild flavor for garlic)
2 C chicken stock (or veggie stock so you can keep it vegetarian)
1 bay leaf
2 t dried rosemary
¼ t or more of freshly cracked black pepper (to taste, I like lots and used more like 1/2 a t!)
a shake or three or more of Tabasco Sauce
1 t extra virgin olive oil

Stew Directions:

In a small bowl, mash one cup of the rinsed and drained beans and set aside. It's always best to cook your own beans from dried beans - you can cook them whenever it is convenient and then just drain and freeze the beans for handy use anytime! If you do that, do not over cook the beans so they hold their beautiful shape.

Heat the pure olive oil in a large stew pot over medium high heat and sauté the onion and carrots approximately 8-10 minutes just until the carrots are crisp tender. If you added extra carrots, you may need a bit more olive oil. Add the garlic, bay leaf, rosemary, and black pepper and sauté another minute or two. Add the stock and the mashed beans stirring until the beans become incorporated into the liquid. If the stock looks too thin, just mash some more beans right there in the pan or from another container of beans and add them til it looks good and thick. Or you might consider adding more stock and veggies such as celery and herbs such as fresh parsley and turn the stew into a soup!

You can prepare the dish to this point and put it on hold, or proceed by adding the remaining beans to the liquid. Simmer and stir a bit for 10 minutes, tasting and adjusting seasonings. I don't often cook with salt and because of that I ramp up the flavors by increasing seasonings and often adding a dash or three of Tabasco Sauce. If you use salt you may not want or need the Tabasco. When it’s done, prepare the fried bread cubes below to be served as a topping for individual bowls of stew.
                                                                                     Fried Bread Cubes Ingredients:
Nutrition facts

2 T extra virgin Olive Oil
4 cloves garlic quartered
2 slices of the bread of your choice cut in to ½ inch cubes - I actually used a stale bratwurst bun tonight, but you just use what you have.

Fried Bread Cubes Directions:

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large frying pan. Add the garlic and sauté for one minute. Remove from heat and let stand for 10 minutes so that the garlic will infuse with the oil. Remove and discard the garlic (this is hard for me to do, but I just remind me that the flavor is now in the oil). Return the pan to medium heat, add the bread cubes and sauté stirring frequently until lightly browned – about 5 minutes or so.

Serve as a topping for the stew and enjoy mindfully. Always save your left over rolls as they make the most outstanding bread cubes!


Calabria is a small region in Southern Italy near the arch of the boot! It's the area where my father-in-law grew up and the home to a lot of wonderful cookery!
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Saturday, June 11, 2011

White Bean and Arugula Soup

prepared with spinach as that is the greenery I had on hand.
Like all great primal recipes, this soup that can be made differently each time. Change the greenery - try spinach or kale or peppery watercress instead of arugula. Change the bean - pinto beans, black beans, or use any other bean you love. Want more vegetables? Add carrots and/or celery (be sure to include some of those delicious celery leaves). If you are carnivorous, add chunks of smoked sausage or cooked Italian sausage. Saute in habanero olive oil for a real fact, do get yourself some of Sciabica's fantastic habanero olive oil. I use it in everything I can.

A comforting easy soup to make on the most hectic day. Feel free to use prepared boxes of veggie stock instead of homemade. My favorite brands of boxed stock are Kitchen Basics or Imagine. Both are just fine and come in a low or no sodium version (that's what I use). By now many of you have noticed I don't add salt except on rare occasions. If you need salt because you are used to it, go right ahead and add it. Don't tell me you did though, salt's not good for my blood pressure.

White Bean and Arugula Soup
nutrition facts
about 8 servings depending on the size of your bowls.


1 T olive oil - use pure olive oil not extra virgin when you saute
1 onion, chopped
3 heaping T garlic, chopped
1 1/2 t thyme
1 t smokey paprika
1/2 t fresh cracked black pepper
2 (15 oz cans) white beans, rinsed and drained - or better still, cook up a pound of beans from dry, divide into two freezer bags that weigh about a pound each and use one bag each time you make the soup!
4 cups vegetable stock, preferably low or no sodium
2 medium red potatoes, chopped - you can always add more to make it super hearty
1 1/2 T olive oil (habanero olive oil is wonderful here, but not required by law)
2 C arugula, chopped 


Saute in a large soup pot, pure olive oil, onion, thyme, black pepper. Stir frequently and when the onion is clear, add the garlic and saute for a few more minutes - do not brown the garlic or it may turn bitter. If the pot becomes dry before the veges are softened, add one tablespoon of the stock and continue to saute until the veggies are soft.

Add the white beans (Great Northern is my favorite, but Cannelini works if you like the larger bean), stock and potatoes. Simmer at least 15 minutes. Taste and add more seasonings if you wish. You may want a thinner soup, in which case add more broth - it does not add much in the way of calories!

Shortly before serving the soup, heat a skillet over medium heat, add the olive oil and saute the arugula or whatever greenery you are using. When it is wilted, add it to the soup.

I strongly recommend hot red pepper flakes for this - especially if you serve it thicker.

Serve with a warm homemade roll such as a brioche or a baking powder biscuit. A salad makes a lovely accompaniment - both for the visual and for the contrast of cool to hot. Enjoy mindfully and often.

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