Black Bean Sopes with Guac Pico

Sopes with black bean puree

Black Bean Sopes with Guac Pico

This is a tasty dish that is sure to please anyone who loves southwestern style cooking. Or, actually, for anyone that loves to eat! This recipe came about because I was trying to find more uses for masa harina. I can only get the 5 pound bag of Maseca, so I have bunches to use up. I use the corn flour in my cornbread recipe, but I don’t make nearly enough corn bread! I know, shame on me.

Other uses for masa harina are tamales and corn tortillias. However, I don’t make enough of those either. After I was served sopes at a little Mexican restaurant, I knew what I would use that Maseca for! Sopes!

I was never fond of the plain, masa dough sopes. They needed lots more flavor. I worked on that until I achieved a taste that my family liked. Using broth instead of water and jazzing it up with some spices was an easy fix. Give this dish a try. Maybe with a nice cerveza or margarita.

The ingredient list –

Sopes ingredients

Black Bean Sopes ingredients

You’ll need instant corn masa flour – Maseca is a readily available brand, 2 cans of black beans, vegetable broth, onion, tomato, avocado, garlic, cilantro, cumin, and, salt & pepper.

First, make the sopes. Combine the masa with the cumin, salt,

masa mix

masa, cumin & salt

water and vegetable broth. Fold until it’s mixed well. It’s a light and fluffy dough.

mixed masa

masa mixed

It’s ready when you can shape it into a large ball and it stays like that.

ready masa

holds it’s shape

Add more broth if it doesn’t hold together. Pinch off chunks and roll them into golf ball sized, dough balls. You should get 12.

masa dough balls

Masa dough balls

Cover a flat, sturdy surface with a piece of parchment paper.

masa ball

ready to mash

Place a masa ball in the center, cover with another sheet of parchment paper

covered masa ball

cover it up

and mash down with a heavy pot or cast iron skillet.

masa harina

Flatten it

You don’t want to mash it paper thin. You want about a 1/4 inch thick.

flattened sope

Mashed sope

After you flatten it, it should be about 4 inches around.

sopes

4 inch sopes

Now, you’re ready to fry them. Add a small amount of oil to a large skillet. Using medium heat, fry the sopes in batches of 4.

sopes in skillet

Four sopes in a skillet

Turn after 3 or 4 minutes, or when golden brown.

golden sopes

Flip when golden brown

Repeat the process, adding more oil as needed, until they’re all done. Drain on a paper towel lined sheet pan and keep warm in a 200º oven.

Tray of sopes

All fried up.

Now, onto the black beans. Add a tablespoon of olive oil to a large saucepan. Drop in 1 cup of diced onions. Saute them over low heat until they’re clear, about 3 minutes.

onions sauteeing

saute the onions

While the onions are doing their thing, drain and rinse off the black beans.

rinse and drain the blackbeans

drain and rinse the black beans

Back to the onions, add in the diced garlic and cook another minute.

sauteed garlic

add in the garlic

Add in the drained and rinsed black beans, the cumin, salt and pepper.

spiced black beans

add in the spices

Pour in the vegetable broth and stir it all up.

black beans

Add in the broth

Take a masher and mash the black bean mix slightly, leaving some whole beans.

mashed black beans

mash the black beans

Simmer the mashed beans over low, until needed to assemble the sopes. Add small amounts of broth to keep the beans from drying out, if necessary.

Finally, we make the guac pico. Regular pico or salsa would be fine here, too, but adding an avocado just makes it extra special. Dice a half cup of sweet onions.

diced onion

Dice the onion

Chop up a tomato.

chopped tomato for pico

chopped tomato for pico

And the cilantro, too.

chopped cilantro

chop the cilantro

Dump them all into a bowl with the garlic – I use jarred garlic, but, please use fresh if you want. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

guac pico

the bowl for the guac pico.

Remove the pit and peel from an avocado. Chop it up and add it to the pico bowl.

avocado

Chop up and avocado

Cut a lime in half and squeeze the juice from one half, over the guac pico.

lime half

Half a lime

Stir the guac pico with a fork, mashing it slightly as you do.

pico guac

guac pico

Time for assembly. Place on or two sope patties on a plate. Top with a half cup of mashed black beans, then finish up with a healthy dollop of guac pico. Serve with additional lime slices, if desired. Chow down. I served this with zoodles. Zucchini noodles made with a handy vegetable spiralizer.

Sopes with black beans and guac pico

Sopes with black beans and guac pico

Black Bean Sopes with Guac Pico
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Southwestern cuisine
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
 
A delicious introduction to Sopes and the many, wonderful flavors of the Southwest.
Ingredients
  • For the sopes:
  • 2 ½ cups instant corn masa flour, such as Maseca
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 cup water
  • oil for frying
  • For the black beans:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup diced sweet onion
  • 2 teaspoons diced garlic
  • 2 cans -15.5 oz black beans, drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup vegetable broth
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • For the guac pico:
  • ½ cup diced sweet onion
  • 1 diced tomato
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • ½ teaspoon diced garlic
  • 1 diced avocado
  • ½ lime, juiced
  • salt & pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Combine the masa, cumin, and salt in a large bowl. Mix in the vegetable broth and water. Fold over until well combined. The mix will be light and airy, but will hold together when gathered into a ball. Pull off chunks of the masa mix, and roll into about 12 golf ball sized, dough balls. Cover a flat surface with a piece of parchment paper. Place a ball of masa on the paper, cover with another sheet of parchment paper and flatted with a heavy pot or skillet. You want them to be about ¼ thick and a 3 to 4 inch circle. Repeat with the other masa balls, keeping both covered to prevent drying out. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Fry sopes in batches of four, turning after 3-4 minutes, or when golden brown. Drain on paper towel and keep warm in a 200º oven, while cooking the remaining sopes.
  2. While sopes are frying, make the black beans. In a saucepan, over a medium heat, add in the tablespoon of olive oil and the diced onions. Saute about 2 to 3 minutes, until onions are clear. Add in the diced garlic and saute for another minute. Then, add in the black beans, the broth, cumin, salt and pepper. Mix well. Mash the bean mix until mostly mashed, with some whole beans remaining. Simmer bean mix over low, until needed for sopes assembly. Add more vegetable broth, if the bean mix dries out.
  3. For the guac pico, mix the diced onion, tomato, cilantro, and garlic together. Add in the diced avocado and lime juice. Mash mixture lightly. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. To assemble the sopes – place one or two, hot sopes on a plate. Top with a half cup of the black bean mixture. Finish with a generous spoon of the guac pico. Serve with additional lime slices, if desired.
Plate of Sopes with black beans and guac pico

Sopes with black beans and guac pico plated

Cuban Habanero Eggs

Cuban Habanero Eggs

Cuban Habanero Eggs

We are lucky enough to have many different Latino/Hispanic/Cuban eateries around here. I am lucky enough to be able to eat at all of them! A few of them serve breakfast and since that’s my favorite meal of the day, we eat out on some mornings. It’s a treat. It rarely costs much and that makes me even happier. At one place, they had Habanero Eggs listed. I, being not too worldly, thought that was eggs with habanero peppers. Nope. It’s a reference to Havana, Cuba. Wiki explains. No super hot peppers were involved, so I ordered it. It was so good! Soft baked eggs, surrounded by sauteed onions, (not hot) peppers, tomatoes and garlic.  It was so good, that in fact, I got to craving it late one evening. I was out of luck. I couldn’t go get it made for take-away. It wasn’t breakfast time! Oh my. What to do, what to do. I went to the kitchen, got out my pans, some peppers and whatnots, then went to work on making it myself. I think it turned out pretty good.

The egg-citing line up!

Cuban Habanero eggs ingredients

Cuban Habanero eggs ingredients

We’re going to make a sofrito, so you’ll need and onion, garlic and some peppers. I used a red bell, a jalapeno and a poblano. You can use all bell peppers, all japaleno, or any combination of peppers that make you happy! Heck, use one of those uber hot, habanero peppers! You will also need some tomatoes, a bit of cumin, some white wine, butter and of course, some eggs. You’ll need some oil to saute those veggies in, too.

Get out the cutting board, we’ve got chopping to do! Dice up the onion. You want at least a cups worth, better to have 2 cups worth. Use a big onion!

diced onion

Dice the onion

Chop up the red pepper, discarding the seedy top.

red bell pepper dice

Dice the red pepper

Do the same for the poblano –

poblano pepper

Dice the poblano

I removed the veins and seeds from the jalapeno.

jalapeno

Devein the jalapeno

Then, it got diced up too.

jalapeno dice

dice the jalapeno

Now, add all those diced veggies to a big frying pan, that you’ve put a couple of tablespoons of oil in.

sofrito

Need a big skillet!

Set it on the stove over a medium heat and let it start cooking.

making sofrito

Saute the peppers and onion.

Time to preheat the oven to 350º F.  OK, back to the cutting board. It’s the tomatoes turn. I used roma tomatoes because they don’t have the high water content like the big, beef stake kind. We want tomato flavor, not tomato soup.

tomato dice

Dice the tomatoes

And, mince up the garlic.

minced garlic

mince the garlic

Measure out 2 tablespoons of white wine. The rest of the bottle can be used by the cook. We’ve got to keep the cook happy, you know!

southern white wine

2 tablespoons white wine

Cook the onion – pepper mixture until the onions are translucent, about 10 minutes, then, add in the tomatoes, garlic, cumin, and white wine.

add maters

add the tomatoes, garlic, white wine and cumin.

Cover the skillet and let it cook for around 5 minutes, stirring frequently. After the tomatoes have softened, remove the pan from the heat, then add some salt and pepper.

tomato sofrito

Tomato sofrito

Oil the inside of four, 12 ounce ramekins.

12 ounce ramekins

oil the ramekins

Divide the sauteed vegetables evenly among the ramekins.

divide sofrito among the ramekins

divide the mix among the ramekins

Smooth it out and lightly pack it down. Crack 2 eggs into each veggie filled ramekin.

2 eggs in sofrito

crack in 2 eggs

Top each dish with one tablespoon of melted butter.

topped with melted butter

top with melted butter

If you are not clumsy, slide the ramekins into the 350º F oven to bake. If you are clumsy (like me) put the ramekins on a baking sheet and place in the hot oven. Bake the eggs until they are soft set – the white is mostly done but the yolk is still soft – about 10 to 12 minutes. Rotate the ramekins halfway through the cooking time. They will continue to cook a bit after they are out of the oven. So, if you are unsure, pull them out. Better to have them underdone than over done. You can always bake them a minute or 2 more.

soft set baked eggs

Baked, soft set eggs

Mmmm, mmm. So good. I garnished mine with some cilantro and smoked paprika. A breakfast that is fitting to start the day with! Serve these with a nice, light fruit salad and some toast points. Or, dollop up a spoonful of grits and a big ole biscuit! You can even add some cheese to the ramekins, either under or over the eggs. That would make it really pop! Enjoy breakfast. Either for breakfast or, go wild – even for dinner!

Cuban Habanero Eggs

Cuban Habanero Eggs

Cuban Habanero Eggs
Author: 
Recipe type: Breakfast
Cuisine: Cuban
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Delicious, baked eggs, nestled in a spicy tomato, sofrito blend.
Ingredients
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper. Chopped
  • 1 poblano pepper, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded, diced
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced
  • 2 Tablespoons white wine
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 large eggs
  • 4 Tablespoons melted butter, divided
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350º F.
  2. Pour the oil to a large skillet. Using low heat, cook the onion, red bell pepper, pobalno and jalapeno until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add in the garlic, tomatoes, wine and cumin, mixing well. Cover and simmer on low heat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
  3. Divide mixture between four lightly greased ramekins. Gently break two eggs into each dish. Top each dish with one tablespoon of the melted butter.
  4. Bake until the whites are set and the yolks are still soft, about 10 to 12 minutes. Rotate the ramekins halfway through the cooking time. Do not over bake. Garnish and serve on plate with toast points and a fruit salad.
  5. Garnish with cilantro and smoked paprika, if desired.
  6. NOTE: use no smaller than 12 ounce ramekins.
Cuban Habanero Eggs

Cuban Habanero Eggs

Tofu Salsa Cocktail

tofu cocktail

Tofu Salsa Cocktail

I’m always looking for cool, delicious new salads to try. I like to experiment with things I’ve eaten or seen on restaurant menus. That’s what happened here. I picked this off a menu. We were in North Little Rock, visiting our son. He said that a local restaurant, the Casa Mexicana, had some good vegetarian options. So, we went there. On the menu was something called Mexican Cocktail. It was boiled shrimp served in a mixture of spicy tomato sauce, cilantro, avocado and pico de gallo. By the time we left, I was already thinking of a way to make it better. That’s how this recipe came about. Mix some up and have it for your July 4th celebrations. It’s cool and refreshing. And yummy. Oh so, yummy.

The ingredients –

ingredients

the ingredients

You’ll need firm tofu, an onion, 2 tomatoes, 2 avocados, a jalapeno, lime, cilantro, tamari sauce and ketchup. Yes, ketchup. The secret to a great salsa!

Open the tofu and drain out the water. Sandwich the tofu between 2, paper towel lined plates and put a weight on top. Press it for at least 30 minutes. You gotta get that excess water out.

press tofu

tofu press

Get out a big bowl. This makes 8 cups of cocktail, so go large. Core and chop the tomatoes.

chop tomatoes

chop tomatoes

You want at least 2 cups. 3 cups is better. If you love tomatoes, that is. We love tomatoes!

tomatoes

3 cups!

Dump them into the bowl. Dice up 1/2 cup of onion and add it to the bowl.

diced onion

half an onion

Chop up 1/4 cup of cilantro and dump it into the bowl.

cilantro

1/4 cup of cilantro

Now, about the jalapeno, if you like it hot, just dice up the whole thing. If you like flavor without the burning tongue, seed and devein the jalapeno. Dice it up and add to the bowl.

jalapeno dice

diced jalapeno

Measure out a tablespoon of tamari sauce (or Bragg’s liquid aminos, or soy sauce) and dump it in, too.

tamari sauce

tablespoon of tamari

Squeeze out 1 cup of ketchup and, guess what? Right, dump it in the bowl. We’re all about the excitement here.

ketchup

1 cup of ketchup

This is where we’re at so far.

salsa mix

Almost done

Now, because avocados are tricky – they like to turn brown on you – we waited to add them. So, dice up that avocado!

diced avocado

it’s avocado time!

And toss it in the bowl!

cocktail mix

add the avocado

Add in some salt and pepper, too. We haven’t stirred the mess up yet, because now, were going to squeeze the lime juice over the avocado, to keep it from browning. It’s lime time.

lime juice

Squeeze the juice over the avocado

Now, now, you can mix it up.

salsa cocktail

Mix it up!

Time for the block of tofu.

tofu

block of tofu

I know, I know, it doesn’t look like much, does it. But you just wait! It’s going to be amazing. OK, cut it in half, width-wise.

tofu halves

2 halves

Then, cut each half into 1 inch cubes.

tofu cubes

cube the tofu

And, add it to the bowl.

tofu cocktail

Here’s the tofu!

Mix it up, so that all the tofu is coated with the salsa cocktail mixture.

tofu salsa cocktail

fold in the tofu

Cover it up and chill it in the fridge for at least an hour. Longer is just fine. Remember, you squeezed that lime juice over the avocado, so it won’t turn brown. When you’re ready to serve, put 1 1/2 cups into a pretty glass, top with a cilantro leaf and eat! I used these margarita glasses. So cute! And there you have it. Tofu Salsa Cocktail. Created from a listing in a restaurant menu. Inspiration comes from everywhere. Enjoy!

Tofu Salsa Cocktail

Tofu Salsa Cocktails

Tofu Salsa Cocktail
Author: 
Recipe type: Appetizer
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
A refreshing blend of spicy salsa and tofu for a perfect appetizer.
Ingredients
  • 1 – 16 ounce package of firm tofu
  • 2 – tomatoes
  • ½ cup diced onion
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • 1 – jalapeno, seeded, diced
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1 Tablespoon tamari sauce
  • 2 – avocado, pitted, then cubed
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Drain the tofu and press between two plates for 30 minutes to remove excess moisture.
  2. Core the tomatoes and chop them. You want at least two cups. Place in a large bowl.
  3. To the bowl, add the diced onion, chopped cilantro, diced jalapeno, ketchup, tamari sauce, cubed avocado, and lime juice. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, combine well.
  4. Cut the tofu block into 1 inch cubes. Add to the bowl. Fold the tofu into the tomato mixture until all the tofu is coated and it is well blended. Cover and refrigerate for one hour. Makes 8 cups.
  5. Spoon cocktail mixture into pretty glasses, garnish with additional cilantro and serve.
Tofu Salsa Cocktail

Tofu Salsa Cocktail

Gnocchi with Greens and Beans

Gnocchi, Greens and Beans

Gnocchi with Greens and Beans

Last year, I was in the hardware store and decided to pick up some plants for the garden. It’s Florida, we garden year around. On a whim, I grabbed 2 kale plants. This, I thought would give me a head start, while I waited to plant seeds. It gave me such a head start, that I never planted those seeds! Eight months later, those two plants still produce a boat load of leaves. I bought Lacinato or Dinosaur kale.

Lacinato or Dinosaur Kale

Lacinato or Dinosaur Kale

Get your kids into gardening. Go buy some fun Dinosaur kale! Your kids may be more open to trying new things, if they are active in choosing and growing their own food. So anyways, the kale grew. And grew! We have all kinds of kale to eat and the plants show no signs of slowing down!  That means it’s time to dig out all the kale recipes, because sauteed kale got old after the first 16 times we had it. Of course, we had scalloped potatoes and kale, all kinds of soups, kale chips and this dish with gnocchi. I’ve based my recipe on one I found at eatingwell.com.

What you’ll need –

ingredients

The ingredients

You’ll need a 16 ounce package of gnocchi, a can of cannellini beans,  a can of diced tomatoes, some dry Italian seasoning, garlic, onion, bell pepper, mozzarella cheese, and a bunch of kale. Enough to yield 8 cups of chopped leaves. I used about 20 leaves. The plant grew that many again, before I got to my front door.

Start by cleaning the kale. Pull off the stems and tear the leaves into smaller pieces.

cleaning kale

Get the kale ready

Time to cut up the veggies.

diced bell pepper

Chop chop

Cut the bell pepper into about 1 inch square pieces.

diced onion

chop chop, sniff sniff

Dice the onion into about 1/4 inch pieces.

minced garlic

mince mince

Mince the heck out of the garlic. Tiny, tiny pieces. Now, time to cook.

This is a simple one pot dish, so get out a big skillet! A covered one, please. Over medium heat, put a tablespoon of oil in the skillet and add the gnocchi.

gnocchi

gnocchi

Let them cook, stirring them around.

saute gnocchi

Get some color going

When they’re all nice and toasty, remove them to a platter and set aside. (just between us – I wiped that plate off and used it for dinner. who needs more dirty dishes?)

cooked gnocchi

Toasty gnocchi

Pour some more oil in the pan and dump in the bell pepper and onion.

cooking Bell pepper and onion

Bell pepper and onion

Cook these for a couple of minutes, just until they start to soften. Add in the minced garlic and cook 2 more minutes.

saute garlic

the garlic is surrounded

Push the pepper mix to the side of the pan and pile the kale in.

cooking kale

add the kale

Cover it and cook for 2 minutes.

pot lid

Cover it up

Open it up, give it a stir

wilted kale

it’s getting there

and then, cover it up and cook for 2 more minutes. While all the opening and covering is going on, drain and rinse the cannellini beans.

drained white beans

rinse the beans

Open the can of diced tomatoes and pour them into the skillet. Add in the white beans and the dry Italian seasoning. Sprinkle on some salt & pepper, too.

add the beans and tomatoes

add the beans and tomatoes

Give it a good mixing. Cover it and bring to a simmer, about 2 to 4 minutes.

combine the dish

mix it up

Time to grab the plate of sauteed gnocchi and add it to the mix.

gnocchi

little pillows of pasta goodness

gnocchi in the skillet

Almost dinner!

Combine all the skillet ingredients and return to simmering. After another couple of minutes, turn off the stove. Sprinkle the gnocchi mix with the shredded mozzarella.

topped with cheese

top with cheese

Cover and let the cheesy goodness melt all over. That’s it! All done. Pretty it up with some chopped parsley and serve it right from the skillet.

Gnocchi with greens and beans

Grab a spoon, it’s dinner!

We had ours with a simple salad featuring some green zebra tomatoes, fresh from the garden. Life’s simple pleasures.

Gnocchi with greens and beans

Gnocchi with greens and beans

Gnocchi with Greens and Beans
Author: 
Recipe type: casserole
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
A simple, delicious, one pot meal that uses ready made gnocchi, canned white beans and fresh kale in a chunky tomato sauce.
Ingredients
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided.
  • 1 – 16 oz package of ready made gnocchi
  • 1 – bunch of fresh kale, stems removed and chopped, about 8 cups of leaves.
  • 1 cup diced white onion
  • 1 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 – can diced tomatoes, 14 to 16oz.
  • 1 – can of cannellini beans, 14 to 16oz. Drained and rinsed.
  • 1 Tablespoon dried italian seasoning mix
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ cup shredded mozzarella
  • shredded parsley for garnish
Instructions
  1. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Pour in 1 tablespoon of the extra virgin olive oil. Add in the gnocchi. Saute for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring often. When the gnocchi have browned, remove to a plate and set aside.
  2. Add the remaining tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil to skillet. Add in the red bell pepper and white onion. Cook, stirring, over medium heat for about 2 minutes. Add in the garlic and cook 2 more minutes. Move the garlic, onions and pepper mix to one side of the pan and add the kale, packing it in. Cover and cook for 2 minutes. Remove lid and stir kale. Return lid and cook an additional 2 minutes. Remove lid and add the canned tomatoes, rinsed and drained white beans, the dry Italian seasoning mix and salt & pepper. Combine well. Cover and simmer for 2 to 4 minutes. Remove lid, stir in the cooked gnocchi, return to simmer and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella and let melt. Garnish with shredded parsley. Serve directly from the skillet, family style.
Gnocchi with Greens and Beans

Yum!

Tomato and White Bean Salad

Tomato and white bean salad

Tomato and white bean salad

Spring has sprung. Although most of the country is still covered up with snow, the calender says that Spring is here. I know it has sprung here in Florida. Everything has a golden layer of pollen on it. Allergy season is here. Flowers are blooming, bees are buzzing, I’m sniffling and sneezing. Yup, it’s Spring.

To welcome the change in seasons, I made this light and refreshing salad. It’s been a particularly hot past couple of days and I wanted something easy. Something I could whip up and let chill in the fridge while I was out mowing the grass. That, is this bean and tomato salad. So, while I’m waiting for my allergy pills to kick in, I’ll teach you how to make it for yourselves.

White bean and tomato salad

Tomato and white bean salad

Here’s the fixings.

white bean and tomato salad

Let’s get started!

You’ll need 2 cans of cannellini beans, a pint of cherry type tomatoes, fresh basil, feta cheese, extra virgin olive oil, agave sweetener (or honey or any sweetener), some salt and pepper, and some white balsamic vinegar. If you don’t have any white balsamic vinegar, got ahead and get some. This stuff is so good. Sprinkle a little bit in with the yolk mix, the next time you make deviled eggs! You’ll be amazed at how good this stuff makes them. If you’re sure you don’t want to go out and buy the white balsamic vinegar, use a white wine vinegar, or rice vinegar. Stick with something clear. Regular balsamic vinegar will make the salad an unpleasant dark color. We don’t want that.

Start off by draining the cannellini beans. Rinse them off, if they have a lot of bean starch in the can.

drain beans

Drain the beans

While they drip dry, get out your cutting board. Time to cut the tomatoes in half.

halving the tomatoes

Slice the tomatoes in half

Get out a large bowl and dump the drained beans into it.

Bowl of beans

Put the beans into a bowl

Dump the tomato halves in there, too.

add the maters

Add the tomatoes

Measure out a half cup of feta cheese and dump it in also!

adding feta

Add in the feta

Stack up about 20 basil leaves, roll them up and slice them thinly. That’s called a chiffonade.  I learned this from the television cooking shows. They love to chiffonade things!

Chiffonade the basil

Chiffonade the basil

You know what’s next, don’t you? That’s right, add them to the bowl.

salad

Pretty colors!

Now, to make the dressing. You’ll need a small jar. I just reuse an old salad dressing jar. Measure out the white balsamic vinegar.

making dressing

White balsamic vinegar

Then, pour it into the jar. Measure out the extra virgin olive oil. Oh, do yourself a favor. Find one of these tiny measuring cups. They make measuring multiple table/teaspoons so much easier. They’re easy to find. I found this one at my grocery store.

evoo

EVOO!

Pour it into the dressing jar, too. Measure out the agave sweetener.

agave

agave syrup

Pour it into the dressing jar, too. Measure out the salt and pepper. I’m into Pink Himalayan salt right now. Why? It’s pretty to look at. That’s why. It’s supposed to have more minerals and be better for you than regular table salt, but, salt is salt, use it sparingly. Too much salt is a bad thing. I also use a four color peppercorn blend. It’s pretty, too.

salt and pepper

pretend this picture is in focus

Add it to the dressing jar. It makes a cool glop in the bottom. Hey, I’m easily amused!

dressing mix

See the salt & pepper glop?

Close it up and shake it up!

Dressing mix

Dressing mix

Pour the dressing over the tomato & bean mix.

dressing the salad

Mix in the dressing

Pour the salad into a pretty serving bowl. Cover and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

put into serving bowl

Put into a serving bowl.

This mix travels well, if you have a covered dish dinner to go to. To serve, place a few lettuce leaves on a plate and add about a cup of tomato bean salad mix over it.

tomato and white bean salad

Tomato and white bean salad

Tomato and White Bean Salad
Author: 
Recipe type: salad
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
 
A light and fresh salad. Perfect for lunch, brunch or a light dinner.
Ingredients
  • 1 pint of cherry tomatoes
  • 2 -15 ounce or 19 ounce cans of cannellini beans, drained
  • ¼ cup shredded fresh basil
  • ½ cup crumbled feta cheese
  • ¼ cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 ½ Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon agave
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
Instructions
  1. Cut the cherry tomatoes in halves. Place halves in a bowl. Add in the drained cannellini beans, basil and crumbled feta cheese.
  2. Pour vinegar and extra virgin olive oil into a small jar. Add in the salt and pepper. Cover and shake vigorously. Pour over bean and tomato mixture. Combine well. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
  3. Arrange a few lettuce leaves on a plate. Top with ¾ cup of the tomato and white bean salad.

This tomato and white bean salad also pairs will with fresh cooked orzo pasta. That makes a tasty dinner.

 

 

Stuffed Portobello Caps

Portobello Caps stuffed

Stuffed Portobello Caps

We like mushrooms. They have a wonderful, earthy flavor and they give you something that you can bite into. Their versatility is neverending. Just think of how many different dishes you’ve made, that start out with a can of cream of mushroom soup! By they way, you can make your own, much more flavorful, mushroom soup. But, that’s a post for another time. One of my favorite breakfasts is a simple sauteed mushroom and egg white omelette. Yum! These stuffed caps are made with easy to find ingredients and are a snap to make. The ingredient list –

ingredients

The fixin’s

portobello mushroom caps, spinach, onion, roma tomato, goat cheese (for creamy yumminess), panko crumbs, red pepper flakes (for a little kick) and some herbes de provence. I like using herbs de provence. It makes me feel swanky. Next thing you know, I’ll be putting truffle oil on everything. If you don’t have herbes de provence, plain old italian seasoning mix will work just fine. You can still feel swanky, too. First thing to do, is to scrape the gills off the mushrooms. You don’t have to, but you can pile in more stuffing if they’re gone, so get them out of there.

removing stems and gills

Snap off the stems and scrape out the gills.

Snap the stems off, too. I don’t use them in the stuffing. Save them for making a vegetable stock. After the caps are clean, set them aside.

cleaned mushrooms

Clean mushrooms.

Now, dice up half an onion. You want about 1/2 a cup.

diced onion

choppity chop chop

Swirl about a tablespoon of olive oil into a large saute pan. Using a medium low heat, cook the onions til tender, about 2 to 3 minutes.

sauteed onion

cooking the onion

Add in the chopped spinach so it can wilt down.

satuee spinach

add the spinach to the pan

It will just take a couple of minutes for it to wilt.

wilted spinach

wilted spinach

Turn the heat off and set the pan to the side. Now, preheat your oven to 375º. Line a baking sheet with foil and set it by the mushroom caps. Time to make the stuffing. Give a roma tomato a rough dice.

roma tomato diced

diced roma tomato

I used a roma, because they are a meatier, less juicy, tomato. If you have to use a regular tomato, dice it, then, blot excess moisture up with a paper towel. Crumble the goat cheese into a medium sized bowl.

goat cheese

crumble with a fork

Combine with the diced tomato, panko crumbs, red pepper flakes and the herbes de provence. Add salt and pepper.

stuffing mix

Stuffing mix

Add in the spinach onion mixture.

stuffing mix

add the spinach onion mix

Mix it well.

mix it up

Combine well

Divide the mixture among the portobello caps.

stuffed caps

Stuff the caps.

Drizzle the caps with a little olive oil. This adds an extra layer of flavor!

oil drizzled caps

Drizzle caps with olive oil.

Bake for about 30 minutes. I roasted some carrots alongside of the mushrooms and served them both with a nice, creamy risotto. A delicious, easy dinner!

Stuffed Portobello Caps

Dinner is served!

Stuffed Portobello Caps

Stuffed Portobello Caps

Stuffed Portobello Caps
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Flavorful portobello caps, stuffed with a savory blend of spinach, tomatoes and goat cheese.
Ingredients
  • 4 portobello caps, stems and gills removed
  • 4 cups raw spinach, coarsely chopped and lightly packed
  • ½ cup diced onion
  • 2 TBL olive oil - divided
  • 1 diced roma tomato
  • 4 oz goat cheese, crumbled
  • ½ cup panko crumbs
  • 1 tsp herbes de provence
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375º. Line a baking sheet with foil.
  2. Saute the diced onion in 1 tablespoon of olive oil for 2 to 3 minutes. Add spinach to wilt, another 2 minutes. Place the goat cheese in a medium bowl. To it, add in the diced tomato, panko crumbs, red pepper flakes and herbes de provence. Pour the spinach and onion mix over the tomato cheese mixture and combine. Divide mixture among 4 portobello caps. Drizzle remaining tablespoon of olive oil.
  3. Place caps on baking sheet and bake for 30 minutes.

 

You should have this smoothie!

You Should Have This Smoothie

You Should Have This Smoothie

Really. You should have this smoothie. Coincidentally, that happens to be the name I gave it. It’s just that good. Sometimes, you want something a little spicy. Something that will make a sweat bead on your forehead. Not something that will give you the hiccups. No, not that spicy. Unless, you like it that way, then, break out the habaneros. I’ll just stick to this. It has enough of a kick from the spicy tomato juice and the horseradish for me.

Let’s get started –

smoothie stuff

Smoothie ingredients

You’ll need one cup of prepared spicy tomato juice. I used this kind. I use the already made stuff, because it has it’s flavors concentrated and you won’t dilute it by adding in the other goodies. You’ll also need one green onion, two stalks of celery, two tablespoons of prepared horseradish, one tablespoon of lemon juice (excuse the plastic kind, I was out of the real kind) and one cup of ice.

chopped veggies

give the veg a rough chop

Go ahead and give the veggies a rough chop. They just fit into the blender better. Measure out the lemon juice and horseradish.

vitamix full

Load the blender

Start with the ice and then add all the rest of the ingredients to the blender. Secure the lid and start blending.

blending

A swirly.

Blend until smooth. Pour into a glass and garnish with a stalk of celery and a sprinkle of pepper. If you have a little vodka, splash some of it in there, too. If you are so inclined. This makes an excellent adult beverage.

smoothie

You Should Have This Smoothie!

You should have this smoothie!
Author: 
Recipe type: beverage
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
 
A vitamin A and C packed, spicy, tomato smoothie, loaded with lycopene.
Ingredients
  • 1 cup prepared spicy tomato juice
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 green onion
  • 2 Tablespoons prepared horseradish
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 cup ice
Instructions
  1. Core the tomato and coarsely chop. Cut the celery and green onion into one inch pieces. Starting with the ice, add all the ingredients to the blender
  2. Blend until pureed and smooth.
  3. Serve immediately. Garnish with a sprinkle of pepper and stalk of celery, if desired.

 

Pasta Caprese

Pasta Caprese salad

Pasta Caprese

Sometimes, it’s just to hot to spend much time in the kitchen. In Florida, that’s pretty much all the days between May & September. The air conditioner is running all the time. So, you either cook something on the grill or crank the ac down to freezing and fire up the oven. I like to take the middle and pick something that doesn’t need cooking or doesn’t use enough heat to turn the kitchen into a super nova. Salads! While this isn’t your lettuce type of salad, it’s still a salad and it uses minimum kitchen time. Plus, this has the bonus of being a perfect dish to take to a cook out.

Let’s get the cooking done, so we can go sip cold beverages on the front porch.

Pasta Caprese ingredients

the goodies

Set a large pot of salted water on the stove and bring it to a boil. Dump in the farfalle pasta and let it cook.

boiling pasta

Looks hot.

If you can’t find farfalle, use something else. Get some fusilli, macaroni, rotini, whatever! I wouldn’t use lasagna, though. That would just be silly.  When the pasta is cooked to your desired doneness, drain it. Don’t bend over the sink. That steam will melt your face.

draining the pasta

free facial steaming

Shake off the excess water and pour the pasta in to a large mixing bowl. Set aside to cool. (and open the freezer and let the coolness waft over you)

While that pasta is cooking, let’s get the rest of the stuff ready. Take 1 cup of cherry tomatoes and cut them all in half.

cherry tomatoes

maters!

Scoop out 1 cup of little mozzarella balls. If you get the same kind as I did – hey, we have slim pickings around here – you have to unstick them from each other. If yours are liquid packed, drain off the liquid. We don’t want to use that.

ciliegine

itty, bitty cheese

Tear or snip about 3/4th a cup of fresh basil.

torn basil

basil

Grab that bowl of pasta. Add in the tomatoes, basil and cheese.

bowl of salad

pretty

Pour 1/2 cup of your favorite Italian dressing over it.

dressing

oil & vinegar don’t mix

A home made dressing would be great, if you are so inclined! Once dressed, mix it all together. Transfer the mix to a serving dish, cover it up and stick it in the fridge for an hour. You have to let everything cool down and let the flavors meld. That’s it. A quick, in and out of the kitchen, dish that’s yummy. Now, grab that cold beverage and go chill out! You deserve it after all your hard work.

Pasta Caprese

Think cool thoughts.

Pasta Caprese
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
A fresh, simple pasta salad in the caprese style.
Ingredients
  • 4 cups of farfalle pasta – dry
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes – halved
  • 1 cup mozzarella pearls or ciliegine
  • ¾ cup fresh basil – torn into small pieces
  • ½ cup of bottled Italian style salad dressing or home made
Instructions
  1. Boil pasta in salted water, uncovered, stirring occasionally until desired tenderness is reached. Drain and pour into a large bowl. Set aside to cool.
  2. While pasta is cooking, cut the cherry tomatoes into halves. Measure out the cup of small mozzarella balls. Tear or snip the basil into small pieces.
  3. Add the tomatoes, basil and mozzarella to the bowl with the pasta. Pour the Italian dressing over all. Stir to combine. Transfer to serving dish, cover and chill for one hour before serving.

 

Tomato Cheese Grits

That’s right! I said grits!

tomatoey cheese grits

Great Grits!

Coarsely ground white corn meal. You either love them or hate them. I am in the lovers group but don’t mind the haters. It just means more for me. I’m not here to make you eat grits. Nope, nuh uh. I’m just here to offer a super easy, great grits recipe to those who already love them. Now, if you are a hater and you still feel the need to give this recipe a try,  then do it!. Broaden your horizons. Live the dream. Embrace the southerner you were meant to be.

p.s. don’t tell anyone, but polenta is just yellow grits. shushhhh.

Onward! Gather the necessities.

Ingredients for tomato cheese grits

Ingredients for tomato cheese grits

Pour the 4 cups of vegetable broth into a 2 quart stock pot. Set it on the stove and bring to a boil.

veggie broth

Heat the broth

While that’s heating, grab the tomatoes, core them and chop them up.

half inch dice on tomatoes

Diced tomatoes

Once the broth reaches a boil, stir in the quick cooking grits and the diced tomatoes. Throw in some salt, too.

add grits and tomatoes

stir in the tomatoes and grits

Stir it up real good and return to a boil. Then, lower the heat to simmer and cook, stirring frequently, for 15 to 20 minutes. Just until the grits are tender.

While that’s happening, get out your cheese a grate it up. You’ll need 1 & 1/2 cups of it.

grated cheese

Grate up a bunch o’ cheddar.

When the grits reach the tender stage, remove the pot from the heat and add in the butter and cheese. Mix it up real good. You want that melted cheese to be in every bite.

cheesy grits

Add in the cheese and butter.

Now, comes the hard part. You need to let it rest for 5 minutes. I know, I know, it’s hard. Your patience will be rewarded.

Cheesy Tomato Grits

Tomato Cheese Grits

Now, pour it into a dish and serve!

Here’s a bonus for you! If you add in a whole, 4 oz can of diced green chiles when you add in the tomatoes & grits, you’ll have Chile Cheese Tomato Grits. Just as yummy!

Tomato Cheese Grits
Author: 
Recipe type: side dish
Cuisine: southern American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8 generously
 
A super easy side dish that makes great use out of grits, a southerner's pantry staple.
Ingredients
  • 4 cups of vegetable broth
  • 1 cup quick cooking grits
  • 2 large tomatoes – ½ inch dice
  • 1½ cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. In a 2 qt pan, bring the broth to a boil. While it's heating, dice the tomatoes.
  2. When the broth reaches a boil, mix in the diced tomatoes, the teaspoon of salt and the grits.
  3. Return to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, stirring often, for 15 to 20 minutes. As it cooks, shred the cheese.
  4. When the grits are tender, remove from heat and add in the tablespoon of butter and the cheese. Stir to combine. Let stand 5 minutes, then plate and serve.
  5. Bonus version: For chile cheese grits, when you are adding the tomatoes and grits, also add in one whole 4 oz can of diced green chiles. Finish recipe as written.

 

Tomato and Goat Cheese Gratin

 

Tomato and goat cheese gratin

Tomato and goat cheese gratin

Something simple. Something easy. Something – so delicious. A gratin. Fling a bunch of stuff in a casserole dish and top it with cheese or breadcrumbs. Bake. Now, you have a gratin. You can be extra special and use both cheese and breadcrumbs. Bake. Now,  you have a show stopping gratin. I like show stopping. You’ll like it, too.

This one uses tomatoes, basil and goat cheese. Why? Because they had been in my fridge a little too long and I needed to make room for fresh vegetables from the co-op. Saturdays are always a surprise dinner day. We never know what’s going to be left over from the week or what needs to be used up right now. I don’t know about you, but things hide in my fridge. You know it’s in there, but you can’t find it. Later, much later, dang! There it is! Harumph. Sneaky veg. Well, these tomatoes were hiding under a bag of spinach. I found them, though. Along with that little knob of ginger that I never use up. The tomatoes, I’ll use. The ginger? Well, let’s just say the chickens enjoyed it.

Our ingredients.

gratin ingred

For the tomato goat cheese gratin

Slice the tomatoes into 1/4 inch slices.

sliced maters

Slice the tomatoes

You don’t have to get out the ruler. Just guess. Look! I used my ceramic Yoshi blade. That thing is great for making really thin slices of tomatoes. I use it for nothing else. I am a Yoshi blade snob.

Then, chop up the basil. You can roll it up and make a lovely chiffonade, or you can be like me and scrunch the leaves up and hack away. Whatever gets the job done.

chopped basil

chop up the basil

Get out a 9 x 9 inch casserole dish and give it a coat of spray oil. Use half the tomatoes and make a layer in the bottom, overlapping the sides if necessary.  Sprinkle half the diced garlic over them.

garlic and tomatoes

garlic and tomatoes

Use half the basil – after you save some for the garnish – and spread out that over the ‘maters.

basil and tomatoes

Add the basil over the tomatoes.

Now, do that again and make the second layer. Then, get out the olive oil and drizzle it over the top. Add some salt and pepper, cause you know you’ll want it.

tomatoes basil and oil

Top with olive oil and salt & pepper.

Now, you could go ahead and grab a fork and gobble this down right now because it;s just that good –

tomato salad

Tomato salad!

But DON’T! You’d miss the creamy goat cheese and crunch topping! Instead, plop that dish into the oven for 10 minutes. While it’s cooking, get a half cup of panko bread crumbs out. Sprinkle a little salt & pepper over it and add in a tablespoon of olive oil. Mix it up real good.

panko salt pepper and olive oil

panko, salt & pepper, and olive oil

panko, salt & pepper, and olive oil combined

All mixed up  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now that 10 minutes has passed, get the hot dish out of the oven. It’s cheese time! Pinch off little pieces of the goat cheese and drop them all over the top of the dish.

goat cheese and tomatoes

add the goat cheese

Cover it evenly. Share the cheese. I know those look like hunks of cauliflower and I imagine that would work too, but stick with the cheese. You’ll thank me later. Then, sprinkle all the seasoned panko crumbs on top.

panko topping

Really crumby.

Now, pop that dish back into the oven for another 10 minutes or until the top is all nice a browned.

Tomato Gratin

Golden Goodness!

Don’t forget to finish it off with that basil you saved!

Tomato and goat cheese gratin

All you need is a fork!

Let’s get a better look at this, shall we?

Tomato and goat cheese gratin

Extreme close up!

Oh my! Oh my, oh my, oh my! That looks wonderful! It is, really! So good. Try it! Soooonnn.

Tomato and Goat Cheese Gratin
Author: 
Recipe type: casserole
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
A delicious layered tomato gratin topped off with creamy goat cheese and crunchy panko bread crumbs.
Ingredients
  • 3 large tomatoes or 4 smaller ones
  • 4 oz. weight - goat cheese
  • ⅔ oz. weight - basil, approx ½ cup chopped. Divided.
  • 1 Tablespoon minced garlic, divided.
  • ½ cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil, divided.
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425º. Spray a 9 x 9 inch casserole dish with cooking spray.
  2. Reserve some basil for garnish.
  3. Slice tomatoes into ¼ inch slices. You don't have to measure, just guess.
  4. Using half the tomatoes, place a layer of them in the casserole dish, overlapping the sides, if necessary. Next, evenly spread a layer, using half of the chopped basil. Sprinkle half the garlic over that. For the next layer, repeat with tomatoes, basil and the rest of the garlic. Over the top, drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  5. Bake casserole for 10 minutes. While it's baking, to your panko crumbs, add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and some salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
  6. After 10 minutes of baking time has passed, remove casserole from oven. Pinch off pieces of goat cheese and drop over the top, as evenly as possible. Top the casserole with the seasoned panko bread crumb mix. Return to the oven for an additional 10 minutes or until the crumb topping is nice and golden. Garnish with the reserved basil.
  7. Serve!

And now, the recipe.