Friday, February 25, 2011

Pinto Bean Salad with Oregano Vinaigrette

Colorful, Pinto Bean Salad is full of flavor and texture.  Simple ingredients combined together make a perfect light lunch or side dish for poultry, fish or beef.  Add to a wrap sandwich and you have a satisfying meal full of healthy carbohydrates, protein, vitamins and minerals.

Pinto Bean Salad
Makes 3 ½ cups

1 cups (276 grams) cooked Pinto Beans, if using canned no salt added rinsed and drained
½ cup (72 grams) Sweet Red Bell Pepper, diced
¼ cup (20 grams) green onion, sliced fine, include green tops
½ cup (70 grams) English or Persian Cucumber, unpeeled, diced
½ cup (140 grams) Red and Yellow Tomato Cherry Tomatoes cut in quarters
Combine all ingredients together in medium size bowl.  Add Oregano Vinaigrette (see recipe below) mix until combined,  serve or refrigerate until ready to serve.   (serving size 1/2 cup).

Fresh Mexican Oregano from the garden
Oregano Vinaigrette
⅛ Teaspoon Sea Salt
1 Teaspoon minced Garlic (1 clove)
¼ Teaspoon ground Cumin
1 Tablespoon fresh **Mexican Oregano, minced
¼ Teaspoon fresh Jalapeño Pepper, minced fine
2  Tablespoon Lime Juice or Apple Cider Vinegar
2 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Zest from Lime
Fresh ground Black Pepper, to taste.
In a small bowl combine above ingredients. Mix until well blended and pour over the Pinto Bean mixture.

**Mexican Oregano (Lippia graveikebs) has an earthier, citrus flavor, but you may use whatever Oregano you have on hand. If you don't have fresh, use 1 teaspoon dried.
Serving size 1/2 cup
Nutritional information provided by NutriMirror

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Celery Roses with Herb Cream Cheese

Yesterday was a cool, rainy day.  Today I awoke to clear skies and sunshine!  You never know what kind of weather you will have in Southern California. 
I decided to cut some fresh herbs from my garden and make something I have been thinking about for some time.  I had seen stuffed celery in an old cookbook I have that belonged to my mother.  The photo was of a tray of canapes from the late forties.  Many of the recipes were for things I would never make now, but this one for stuffed celery in the shape of a flower looked exactly like something I would like.  I gave it a try and this is what I came up with.  The directions said to make a cream cheese dip from a package and stuff the celery stalks.  Well, I don't use any packaged dip mixes, not with an herb garden right off my kitchen patio! 

 Begin with 6 or 8 washed and dried Ribs of Celery that have been cut all the same length.
Herb Cream Cheese
(Makes 16 tablespoons)
  • 1 Tablespoon Fresh Parsley, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon Fresh Chives, minced
  • 1 Tablespoon Fresh Marjoram, minced
  • 1 Teaspoon Fresh Thyme (lemon thyme if you have it)
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Fresh Lemon Zest
  • 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
  • 1/8 Teaspoon  Sea Salt
  • 4 ounces of Light Cream Cheese (50% less fat), at room temperature
Mix all ingredients together until smooth. Don't use a food processor for this or the cream cheese will turn green.  Spread cheese mixture on each rib of celery, making sure to clean the sides; do not overfill.  After you have all six ribs filled, stack them together beginning with the smaller center ribs of the celery. Press together gently so as not to squeeze out the cream cheese.  Wipe the edges clean after you have them all formed together.  The more celery ribs you add the more your "flower" will take shape. The celery stalk I used today did not have small center stalks. I think those would make a better center than what I show here so use those if you have them.  Once you get all your stalks together, lay it down on a cutting board and carefully cut into 1 inch thick slices.  Clean you knife off after each cut.  Now that I see them plated, I think it would be a good idea to rotate the celery roll after each cut.  You can see by the top flower that it kept it's round shape, where as the lower flowers have a flat side to them.
I placed my "flowers" on a bed of Fresh Sorrel leaves and added a few Rosemary flowers for color.
Information is based on 1 Tablespoon Herbal Spread
Nutritional information provided by NutriMirror

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

1 Potato, 2 Potato, 3 Potato 4, Soup

“Pray for peace and grace and spiritual food,
For wisdom and guidance, for all these are good,
but don't forget the potatoes.”

John Tyler Pettee, 'Prayer and Potatoes
Potato soup is comfort food at it's best!  This version uses sweet potato, white potato, red potato and baking potatoes.  All of which are high in vitamins and minerals. 

 4 Potato Soup

Serves 6
¼ pound ham (or bacon) diced and browned
1 pound leeks, white part only, washed and chopped (about 3)

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
4 ½ cups low-sodium chicken broth

2 cups russet potato, peeled and diced
2 cups red potato, peeled and diced
2 cups white boiling potato, peeled and diced

2 cups sweet potato (or yam) peeled and diced

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves

1 teaspoon nutmeg (freshly ground if possible)

¼ teaspoon ground pepper, (I used white)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Additional chicken broth if needed

1.       In a small saucepan brown the ham, cool and set aside. If using bacon dice first then cook until crisp, drain on paper towels and set aside.

2.       In a large soup pot or dutch oven, saute the leeks using some of the chicken broth to “water sauté” until softened but not browned, about 15 minutes.  Add additional broth as needed to keep from sticking and browning.

3.       Add the flour and cook for 30 seconds.  Add the broth, fresh thyme leaves,  the potatoes and sweet potato.  Increase the heat to high and bring to a boil.  Reduce to a low simmer and cover.  Simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 30 minutes. Let cool slightly. 

4.       Place small amounts of soup in a blender, puree until smooth.  You may also use a hand blender such as Braun, which is what I do.  Be careful if using either method as it can squirt up and burn you or make a mess on the stove and you.

5.       Pour the soup back into the pan and add the nutmeg and white pepper.  Over very low heat, bring soup to a low simmer.

6.       Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with diced ham (or bacon) and chopped parsley.


Nutritional Information Provided by NutriMirror

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Spiced Lavender Scented Citrus Salad, for Dessert

So many people are stuck inside this week with the catastrophic snow storms that has hit across the country.  I wanted to bring you all a little sunshine from California with a delicious Citrus Fruit Salad.  Most supermarkets carry citrus fruits year round. I hope you can make it to the store soon so you can bring a little sunshine home with you and make this salad.  It is really a refreshing, light, dessert. Enjoy!

Spiced Lavender Scented Citrus Salad
(recipes makes 4 servings)
¼ cup sugar (I used turbinado raw sugar)
½ cup water
1 star anise
3 whole cloves
3 whole allspice
⅛ teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
Lavender leaves and flowers (optional)
3 cups assorted citrus fruit (I used pink grapefruit, grapefruit and navel oranges)
Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar.  Add the star anise, whole cloves, whole allspice, dried red pepper flakes and lavender leaves if available.  Boil for 2 minutes, watching carefully so as not to burn.  Remove from heat and let cool.

Peel the citrus fruit, removing all the pith and seeds.  Cut into bite-size pieces and place in a glass bowl; pour spiced syrup over all, stir to mix. Cover tightly and refrigerate for several hours.  Serve in a clear bowl to show off the pretty colors.  Garnish with fresh lavender flowers.
I served mine on a pretty butterfly plate that was a gift from a friend. Wishing for spring to come soon so I can make this again when the butterflies arrive.
Nutritional information provided by