Sunday, June 16, 2013

Essential Rules of Life

1. Have a go-to recipe for a single chocolate chip cookie. My favorite is here with a few tweaks.
2. Have a work-out you love. This may or may not be related to rule #1. My favorite is Pure Barre.
3. Have at least one sister. She doesn't have to be related you, she just has to understand that sometimes when you're irritable you're really just hangry. And that you need to bounce ideas off her without judgment. And to tell you that you there is something HUGE stuck in your teeth.
4. Have a go-to drink at a bar. Whether it's a favorite beer, a Negroni, or a cranberry & soda (with lime of course), have something you feel comfortable ordering anywhere.
5. Stop and smell the roses now and then. I mean that literally. If you don't have roses, find some gardenias or magnolias or some other fragrant flower.
6. Have a signature perfume but don't wear too much of it.
7. Drink water more than anything else.
8. Take as many pictures as you like, but don't forget to be in some of them.
9. Keep puff pastry in your freezer. You never know when you'll need a quick appetizer or dessert, and  puff pastry makes it that much easier to crank out.
10. Good cheese and crackers are also good to keep around.
11. Picking your own berries and tomatoes is crucial to right summer living. Find a farm and go pickin' one hot day. Don't forget packs of salty peanuts and glass bottles of regular ol' Coca-Cola.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Black Bean & Rice Bowl

DSC_0725_edited-1 Y'all, I just got back from Miami annnnd just in time for a tropical storm. And a boil water advisory for my neighborhood. Seriously, Columbia? I leave for 3 days and the whole place goes to hell in a handbasket? 

DSC_0722_edited-1 I made this black bean & rice delight a couple of weeks before my trip. Sometimes I just get this craving for beans and rice that can't be stopped until I have some. Usually I make black-eyed peas or butterbeans, but sometimes I like to jazz it up with peppers and spices.

DSC_0721_edited-1 And good golly Miss Molly have I been a maniac for avocado the past few months.

DSC_0656_edited-1 Look, it's pretty dang simple. You'll need: Olive oil, brown rice, black beans, hot sauce, onion, bell pepper, scallions, garlic, tomato paste, and vegetable broth.

DSC_0701_edited-1 Oh and let's not forget the spices! Coriander, chili powder, cumin, and paprika. Can we talk for a second about coriander? How is it that I'm just starting to not gag when I taste cilantro but I'm totally okay with coriander? It's the same dang plant. Food is a funny thing, y'all.

DSC_0657_edited-1 It's dice time! I could've gone really corny and said...
DSC_0662_edited-1 Dice, dice, baby! It's the travel that's making me weird, promise. Except I totally shouldn't make that promise.

DSC_0672_edited-1 What I forgot to do was take pictures of the rice. I used brown rice, which takes about 50-60 minutes to fully cook. So when the rice is about halfway done, the good stuff goes in a pan with olive oil over medium heat.

DSC_0675_edited-1 When the produce is just tender and soft, stir in a healthy dollop of tomato paste.

DSC_0680_edited-1 Tomato paste gives it that sweet tomato flavor without the water from the tomatoes mushing it up.

DSC_0688_edited-1 So I got Trader Joe's Cuban-style black beans, but you're welcome to get any kind you like.

DSC_0694_edited-1 Last things last, add in your vegetable stock, spices, and hot sauce if that's your thing. Simmer on medium-low until the beans are tender. Turn the heat off and cover the pan with a lid. Let it sit on the stove for 10 minutes. The sauce should thicken up enough to be more like a dip than a soup.

DSC_0706_edited-1 This just wouldn't be complete without fixins. You can use what you like, but I'm a fan of the green ends of scallions, extra sharp white cheddar, Greek yogurt, and avocado. Queso fresco and sour cream would undoubtedly be excellent, but I use what I have on hand most days.

DSC_0711_edited-1 A layer of rice is followed by a layer of beans.

DSC_0713_edited-1 Which is followed by a layer of cheese. See you put the cheese before...

DSC_0715_edited-1 The Greek yogurt because it will get a little meltier that way.

DSC_0717_edited-1 A sprinkling of scallions makes it pretty. You need a punch of green in this.

DSC_0719_edited-1 Avocado adds a little extra richness and fruitiness. A squeeze of lime would be an excellent decision right now.

DSC_0727_edited-1Not gonna lie, it kind of tastes like a burrito bowl from Moe's or Chipotle, which I love of course. And don't things taste better with a real fork? I thought so.

Black Bean & Rice Bowl (serves 2-4, depending on how hungry you are)

1 c brown rice
2 tbs olive oil
1 c diced onion
1 c diced bell pepper
2 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 scallions, thinly sliced with white/light green and dark green parts separated
1 1/2 tbs tomato paste
1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 c vegetable broth
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp cumin
Hot sauce to taste
Salt & pepper to taste
Fixins: Avocado slices, shredded cheddar, Greek yogurt/sour cream, scallions
  • To make the rice: Bring 2 cups of water and the cup of brown rice to a boil in a medium pot. When the water is boiling, cover with a lid and reduce the heat to a simmer, about medium-low, for 50-60 minutes.
  • When the rice is almost halfway cooked (about 20 minutes), begin the bean mixture. Heat the olive oil in a medium pan over medium heat. Add the onion, pepper, garlic, and the white/light green parts of the scallion. Let cook until the vegetables are just tender, about 5-7 minutes. Add the tomato paste and stir to coat the onions and peppers. Let cook 1-2 minutes
  • Add the black beans, broth, spices, and hot sauce. Stir and let the mixture simmer until slightly thickened and beans are tender, about 20 minutes. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Cover the pan with a lid and turn the heat off. Let the beans sit for 10 minutes or until it's thickened up into a dip-like state. Taste again and season as needed. If the rice is ready before the beans, simply remove it from the heat.
  • Fluff the rice with a fork and scoop into a bowl. Spoon the bean mixture over the rice and garnish with whatever fixins your little heart desires. My favorites are listed above.