Quinoa Mango Black Bean Burrito

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(Becky, the Mama.)

Okay.  I have an honest confession.  If there were a support group for it, I should have joined.  Here it is:  I’m afraid of quinoa.  Not of eating it, mind you.  I actually love it and I know it is a vegetarian’s friends, full of all good things.  One cup of the nutty, fluffy tasty grain provides over 8 grams of protein, 5 grams of fiber, along with goodies like magnesium, zinc, iron, potassium and all for around 220 calories

My first encounter with quinoa was all positive: my daughter-in-law Julie took me to an adorable coffee shop called The Red Cup in Mukilteo, Washington, overlooking the water.  The kind of cafe with bright funky colors alongside soothing bohemian baristas in Birkenstocks and granny skirts.

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They serve an organic warm, tasty burrito stuffed with quinoa and cheese that comes with tangy fresh mango salsa.   I’ve often thought how much I’d like to try recreating one of those burritos, but I found my mind braking at this thought: “Oh, no, I’ll have to learn how to make quinoa.”

Finally, I told my daughter-the-vegan that I have a quinoa-making phobia.  Her response? “Mom, you are going to laugh at yourself when you find out how ridiculously easy it is.  Just use your $10.00 cheap-o rice maker and pretend it is rice.”

So today I faced down my fears. I marched to my rice maker, poured a cup of quinoa and 1 ¼ cups of water into the bowl, turned it on, then walked away slowly.  When I returned, hesitantly, 15 minutes later… a miracle had occurred.  The tiny little beads had burst and turned nutty and fluffy and … awesome.

The rest was easy and familiar: I grilled a tortilla, sprinkled a little cheese around, then layered quinoa, black beans, salsa, mango,cilantro and chopped green onions.  Rolled that baby up, cut it in half at a diagonal. and dipped it in a bit more salsa mixed with diced mango.

I was immediately transported to that café in Seattle.

Just give me some Birkenstocks and a granny skirt and call me the “Quinoa Queen.”

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Quinoa Mango Black Bean Burrito

Serves 1

1 medium to large Tortilla (white or wheat, I prefer Tortilla Land brand)

1/4 -1/3 cup grated cheese, depending on preference
1/3 cup cooked quinoa, warmed (click for Rachel’s simple directions)
2 T. black beans, warmed
1/4 c. diced mango, divided
Sprig cilantro, rough chopped (optional)
1 green onion chopped 
1/4 cup salsa

Grill tortilla on both sides until brown in spots, hot and pliable. (Use a bit of olive oil if needed to keep from sticking.)
Layer cheese, quinoa, black beans, 2 T. magno, cilantro and onion.

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Tuck in two sides and then roll up into a burrito. Cut on the diagonal, in half. Mix salsa with remaining mango and serve alongside the burrito.

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The Title:Quinoa Mango Black Bean Burrito
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This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook

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Green Chili Huevos Rancheros (with Perfect Poached Eggs)

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“I thought eggs were going to be greasy and slimy, but it tastes like cheese sauce. Yum.” Julie Powell, “Julie and Julia”

(Becky, the Mama.)

The short list of foods my husband Greg can cook are: hamburger patties,  grilled cheese sandwiches and pancakes.  So it may come as a surprise to you, as it did to me, that Greg is the one who taught me to poach a perfect egg.   His mother taught him as boy, and he taught me as a newlywed,  and I have to say that when I cooked one correctly: whites firm, yolk thick but still with plenty of liquid gold, it was something of a revelation.

I’ve never been a fan of eggs.  And I have no clue why poaching an egg in boiling  water,  rather than scrambling, boiling or frying  (without benefit of bacon fat or butter!) transforms the lowly egg into something exquisite, but it does.  To Julie Powell it tasted like cheese sauce; to me, with a tiny sprinkle of sea salt, a poached egg tastes like melted butter.

Last week I had a little left-over homemade green pork chili, along with some left-over homemade refried beans, and decided to make Huevos Rancheros.  It was so good, hitting all the right flavor notes,  I proceeded to have it every day for breakfast and lunch for the next three days. There was just something comforting and delicious about the combination of the flavors of warm corn, earthy beans and tangy green chilis topped with one perfect, buttery poached egg.  Where had this dish been all my life?  And why had I not made it before?

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Green Chili Huevos Rancheros 

Serves 1 or 2, depending on how hungry you are!

Ingredients:

2 large eggs

2 t. vinegar

Sea salt & pepper

Water – to fill about 2 inches depth in a small skillet

2 corn tortillas

½ cup refried beans, warmed

½ cup  *pork green chili, warmed. Or if you prefer, any kind of salsa you like

Optional: garnish with slice of fresh jalepano

Directions:

Fill a small skillet 2/3 full with hot water.  Add 2 t. white vinegar.   Bring to boil.  Carefully crack at egg into a small heat-proof bowl.  Slip it carefully into the boiling water.  Repeat with other egg.

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Some of the white will float away, like foamy clouds. That’s okay.  You can capture them later with a slotted spoon and eat them or ignore then and toss them away with the “bath water.” Cook about a minute, but this is not an exact time.  (I like to cover the pan with a lid for a few seconds to insure a film forms over the yolks.)

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When you see the whites are firm and yolk is still soft and gooey,  remove carefully with a slotted spoon and let drain on a couple of folded paper towels. Sprinkle them with a little sea salt and pepper while still hot.

Wrap corn tortillas in a damp paper towel and microwave about 15 seconds until they are hot and soft.  Immediately put them on a plate and put ¼ cup warm refried beans on each tortilla and spread just to edges. Next, carefully set a poached egg on top. Finally ladle all with ½ cup of warm green pork chili or salsa. Garnish with slice of fresh jalepano if desired.

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*You can find green chili of all varieties in the Hispanic food aisle of most grocery stores.  I made my own quick green pork chili by blending 1 cup  chicken broth with ¼ cup mild canned green chilis and 1 clove garlic in a blender.  Then I mixed 1 1/2 T. flour with 1 T. olive oil and 2 t. butter until it made a smooth paste in a hot skillet.  Then I slowly added the contents of the blender plus another cup chicken broth and ¼ cup more green chilis – whisking all the while until it was a desired thickness. (You can add more broth if needed. It should be the consistency of a good stew broth.)  Finally I added about 2/3 cup of cubed leftover pork loin, a pinch of sugar (to balance tang of green chilis), then seasoned with salt and pepper to taste.  You can use veggie or miso broth and omit the pork and make this a filling and delicious vegetarian meal.


Salmon with Avocado-Mango-Lime Salsa

Becky's Salmon with Avocado-Mango-Lime Salsa

Growing up, the only salmon I knew personally came from a can.  My mom would mix it with crackers and egg, fry it and serve it as salmon patties. Then we kids would  drown these little fish-fried hockey pucks in as much ketchup as possible, picking at them, eating a little bit of the edges hoping this would satisfy our mom so we could simply move on from this so-called dinner, and get to dessert.

I never made a single salmon patty for my children. Never served them salmon at all. Felt that I was doing them a huge favor.

Then, eight years ago I married Greg, an Oregonian and Lover of All Things Salmon. It was then, in my forties, that he gently let me know I’d not only never eaten salmon the way it was intended to be served, but I’d mispronounced it all my life.  Who know that there is such a thing as a silent “l” in the middle of a word?  It took me a full year to stop saying “SaL-mon” and start saying “Sah-men” as they do in the Great Northwest.  About that time my eldest son left Texas to hop on an Alaskan fishing boat and has been catching fresh salmon every summer ever since, living for 4 to 5 months at a time on a boat full of stinky sailors and fresh fish.

I figured, at this point, that I owed it to both my husband and son to learn how to cook salmon correctly.  I stumbled along, trying out recipes, eating salmon at restaurants and just sort of tolerating it.  Then one evening, I was out with a friend who encouraged me to order the salmon on the menu and let the chef cook it his way.  I took one bite of this chef-prepared salmon and said, “Oh. My. Gosh. This is the best meat I’ve ever tasted! But it doesn’t taste like salmon. Or fish. It tastes like crispy butter,  crunchy out the outside but moist flakes of soft yumminess on the inside. How did the chef make this?”

What the chef did was cook the salmon on a searing hot grill and left the middle of the fish still slightly moist and opaque.  He did not roast it. He did not cook it to death.  And this made all the difference.  He also served it with a fabulous lime-garlic-tomato salsa.

Now, I hate to brag,  but these days I make the best salmon you’ve ever tasted.  You need to start  with a good fresh piece of salmon, of the milder tasting variety.  Since Denver is not near an ocean,  the best catch of the day around here is at Whole Foods.  The Norwegian salmon is the mildest. I like the fish guy to cut  one big slab of it, enough for two to three people, and leave the skin on.   But I’m getting ahead of myself!  Here’s the recipe.  You will love it!

Seared Salmon, crispy outside, moist and flaky inside. Perfection!

Becky’s  Salmon with Avocado-Mango-Lime Salsa

Serves 2 to 3

Ingredients

Norwegian salmon, skin on, cut it one slab, enough to serve 2 to 3 people (Fresh wild caught salmon is also delicious, but not as mild as the Norwegian at Whole Foods)

1 -2 T. olive oil (enough to coat pan and keep fish sizzling)

1 – 2 t. grill  or steak seasoning (enough to lightly sprinkle on both sides of your fish)

1 avocado

1 small mango

1 small tomato

1/2 clove garlic grated fine

1 T. fresh lime juice

dash salt

dash sugar

Directions:

Using a grill pan preferably (or a large flat skillet that will take high heat) pour olive oil to coat the bottom and let it get “screaming hot.”  Put salmon skin down onto grill pan.  In about 30 seconds the skin will start to loosen, turn the salmon over and remove the skin with flat spatula, scrapping off any of the grey stuff on top of the pink fish.  (Toss the skin in the trash.) Sprinkle lightly with 1/2 t or so of grill seasoning. Flip back over and cook this side of the salmon on high heat until it is seared and beautiful rich golden brown.  In the meantime, sprinkle the other side with 1/2 t. of grill seasoning.   Flip and cook the other side on high heat until it is a rich golden brown.  Remove from heat.  Let sit a few minutes while you make the relish.

Dice tomato, mango and avocado and mix together in a medium sized bowl.  Add lime juice, fresh grated garlic, a dash of salt and a pinch of sugar.  Gently toss, taste seasonings.

Using two spatulas move fish to large serving plate (pour any pooled juices atop) and garnish with the avocado-mango-tomato salsa.  I like to serve this family style, letting every one at the table gently pull of the amount of salmon they want with a big serving fork and spatula.  Serve any remaining relish in a bowl and allow guests to add more if they like.

Variations: add minced red onion, chopped jalapenos, and/or chopped fresh herbs like cilantro or mint or flat leaf parsley or basil to the salsa

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Salmon with Avocado-Mango-Lime Salsa
The URL: https://welaughwecrywecook.com/2012/04/20/avocado-mango-lime-salmon/

Becky’s Salmon with Avocado-Mango-Lime Salsa

Killer Chipotle & Roasted Pepper Salsa (with a Side of Relational Advice)

Sometimes life is funny, and sometimes, not so much.  “Mama said there’d be days like this,” and for days like this you need three things: a good friend, some good clear-the-air advice, and some comfort food. Then, before too long, life can be funny again.

A single girlfriend and I were talking this morning about toxic relationships. Particularly we were pondering the differences between normal friends who are in a temporary season of pain who deserve and need our empathy, patience and compassion;  versus toxic friends whose problems are unending and sap all the energy and joy out of every minute we spend with them, like an Emotional Hoover.

We came up with the 3 B’s that signal it might be time to Back Away from a Relationship.  Red flags, we decided,  are:

1. Belittling — when a person makes you feel small, talks down to you, uses superior tones

2. Blaming — when the person’s default mode is always to blame someone else and never takes any responsibility for their part in bad situations. If someone is constantly blaming others or the universe or God for their problems, it won’t be long before they are blaming and attacking you.

3. Black-Hole — normal people have seasons of neediness and self-focus following tragedy or during illness or stress; but toxic people are walking black holes of ever-growing, never-ceasing, and always-changing need

Having discussed relationship sticky-wickets to our mutual satisfaction, we turned the conversation to comfort food.  In fact, we discussed the perfect food for washin’ a crazy-making friend or a bad day right out of our mind.  In her book, Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert quoted someone’s grandmother as saying, “There’s no trouble in this world so serious that it can’t be cured with a hot bath, a glass of whiskey, and the Book of Common Prayer.”  I agree with the hot bath and Book of Common Prayer, but my preferred comfort beverage would be a frosty margarita alongside  a big bowl of spicy, chunky, smoky, colorful homemade salsa and chips.

And it just so happens that I make the best chunky smoky salsa in the universe. (Ditto on the margs… but that is for another post, another time.)  When my daughter Rachel had her baby this past summer,  I made salsa day after day because her husband Jared loves salsa and chips like only a Texas boy can. This gave me a chance to perfect my recipe, and this is the best of the best!

So come to Mama for the recipe, then whip up a quart of this brain-cleansing salsa, grab some chips and your fave margarita, find a spot in the sun, chill out and let the stress fall away.

Life is hard enough,  your salsa should be easy.  This version is oh so forgiving, allowing lots of variations to the basic recipe.

Everyone I serve this to asks for the recipe, so be prepared to share! (Also usually makes enough to send some home with your grateful guests.)

Becky’s Killer Chipotle & Roasted Pepper Salsa

Ingredients:

Makes about a Quart of Salsa

Into a food processor or blender put:

1/2 of a  28 oz can organic crushed fire roasted tomatoes (save the other half to add later)
1/2 red onion
1 fresh tomato, quartered
2 garlic cloves, peeled
* 3 small peppers (yellow, orange and red) roasted (see picture below)
(Alternatives: If roasted hatch chilis are in season, these are delicious replacements or additions! Or you can use a couple of roasted peppers from a jar,  small can green chilies,  or roast some tomatillos.)
A nice  palm full of cilantro (if you like it)
2 large fresh jalapenos, seeded; 1 if you prefer milder (you can substitute pickled jalapenos as well)
**2 chipotle peppers in adobe sauce (1 if you prefer milder)
(You can find these small cans of chipotles-in-adobe-sauce in most grocery stores now, on the Mexican food aisle; see picture below.)
2 T. white vinegar
2 t. sugar
sea salt to taste
1/2 fresh lime, squeezed
1 t. smoked paprika (this just adds to the smokiness, but is not essential)
Directions:
Process until mixtures has the consistency you like for salsa. Then stir in the rest of the crushed tomatoes which will give it a nice chunky texture.
Check seasonings once more. Grab a bag of chips, a margarita and enjoy.  This makes a lot, so I often freeze half to use at a later time.

*I put three small peppers on my gas flame (set to high)  and roast them while I’m tossing the rest of the ingredients into the blender, turning as they blacken.  Simply scrape off most of the blackened skin (I use a damp paper towel for this job),  seed them and pop in the blender.  You can also halve them and broil them if you don’t have a gas burner.

Roasting small tri-colored peppers on a gas burner

** Here’s what a can of chipotle peppers in adobe sauce looks like.  These babies are strong, and I often only use one or two, so I pop the rest (along with the sauce) in a small freezer bag and store them in the freezer.  When I need one I just cut off what I need.

This was printed from: We Laugh, We Cry, We Cook
The site URL: http://welaughwecrywecook.com
The Title: Killer Chipotle & Roasted Pepper Salsa
The URL: https://welaughwecrywecook.com/2012/03/28/killer-chipotle-roasted-pepper-salsa-with-a-side-of-relational-advice
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