Slow Cooker Mexican Spicy Black Beans for Your Vegan Crockpot

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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These can be done stove top – or with canned black beans (if you need these fast).  I cooked them all day & overnight in a slow cooker.  They are simple & easy & yummy.

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Slow Cooker Mexican Spicy Black Beans for Your Vegan Crockpot

INGREDIENTS

1 lb dry black beans (or canned)

6 cups vegetable stock

1 small onion – diced

1 TBS cumin

1 tsp chili powder

3 large garlic cloves – minced

4 tomatoes – diced

GARNISH – with fresh cilantro, diced jalapeno, grilled corn or diced red onion & lime.  Homemade chimichurri or roasted tomatillo & jalapeno salsa – also delicious on these!

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DIRECTIONS

Quick soak the beans by covering them in a pot with water & bringing to a boil.  Remove from heat, cover & let sit for one hour.  Drain and rinse.  The drained bean water is very good for your outdoor plants – so feel free to capture it & spread the nutrients outside.

In a slow cooker – add all the ingredients and cook on high all day.  Additionally – I left mine on warm overnight.  If you cannot cook them this long – use two cups less stock & only add it as you need it to keep the beans covered.  They should be edible in six hours.  Canned beans will require very little stock & be done in less than an hour.

I haven’t done these stove top – but I imagine that after a quick soak – these should be done if left covered over low heat for six hours – stirring frequently & adding water as needed.

With canned beans – you will need less than 2 cups of water & they should be done in under an hour.

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Mexican (or Spanish) Rice

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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I am going to post a series of recipes today that will comprise a Mexican feast.  This rice, a black bean dish, a bean & cheese dip & chicken tacos.  All are very easy & some can be made the day before.  The beans are better if made the day before & the flavors are allowed to blend completely.  The chicken also matures very well.

The ingredients for everything in these recipes are very flexible.  They are the perfect dishes for you to get creative with by adding or omitting things and by eyeballing quantity rather than being anal & carefully measuring.  Only the rice/water ratio is sorta set in stone – but even that is customizable, based on wither you like a firm or softer rice.

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Mexican (or Spanish) Rice

INGREDIENTS

2 TBS of either butter or olive oil

1 1/2 cups uncooked rice (I used brown)

Vegetarian or chicken stock (in the quantity your rice requires to cook – as per the package)

1 medium onion (any variety – I used brown)

3 cloves garlic – diced

1/2 red bell pepper – diced (any color but green would be least pretty)

2 jalapenos – seeded & diced (optional)

1/4 cup of tomato paste

4 Roma tomatoes – diced (optional) – or a 14.5 oz can of Rotel or tomatoes

2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp chili powder

1/2 tsp salt

Fresh cilantro – chopped

Limes – cut in wedges

DIRECTIONS

Heat the oil in a stock pot.  Add the onion, jalapeno, garlic, bell pepper & rice & saute over medium heat until the rice begins to turn color & vegetables are tender.  Add the stock, tomatoes, tomato paste, cumin & chili paste and salt – stir & bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low, cover & simmer for the time indicated on your rice package.  Fluff with a fork & serve.  Garnish the rice with fresh chopped cilantro & lime wedges.

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La Sirena Azul in Inglewood, California

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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Another airport run – another opportunity to sample some of Inglewood’s finest.  This place is ON Century, about 5 minutes (3 miles?) away from LAX.   It is a perfect stop if you want to send folks off to their destinations full of awesome Mexican food.

As of today, with 19 reviews, this place only got three reviews that were not 5 stars.  That is pretty amazing – especially considering the TINY size of this place, absolute lack of curb appeal and its lowbrow interior (lack of) decor…and the fact that people are always more likely to take the time to talk shit about someplace – rather than saying something nice.

YELP REVIEWS

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There are 7 tables in there & a TV playing Spanish Judge Judy court shows.  Surprisingly, they have a small selection of beer – critical for my boyfriend’s satisfaction.  Chips & salsa were delivered promptly.

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We ordered way more food than we needed – mainly because I wanted to try so many things.  I ordered the shrimp ceviche tostada, the cold shrimp cocktail (yes, they offered it warm, too) and fish tacos.  Miles ordered their Diablo spicy Shrimp.  The salsa was decent – not award winning & the chips were standard, too, but the ceviche tostada was beautiful & super fresh & tasty and served with wedges of avocado.

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The shrimp cocktail was served in a huge goblet in a very thin broth with shrimp & giant chunks of avocado.  It wasn’t very pretty – sorta like an uncared-for fish tank – but it was delicious, too!

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My fish tacos were tasty & HUGE and filled with fish & corn & lima beans & green beans and peas.  They were served with rice & an iceberg salad – with even more avocado.

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Miles’ dish was served with salad & rice, too, and was genuinely spicy & really flavorful.  Both Miles & I have a pretty high tolerance for heat but Miles commented a few times on how hot the shrimp were and even asked for a glass of water (unheard of!).  I only ate one shrimp & would just say – they are definitely hot but not blow-your-mouth-out hot.  Certainly, however, too hot for a sensitive mouth.

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When we arrived at 12:30pm, we were the only ones there.  It began to fill up pretty quickly, however, and all the food I saw being delivered to other tables looked amazing & substantial (as to quantity).  Miles & I could easily have split an entree & been fine.  As it was, I went home with half his food & a fish taco.

The bill with two beers & a diet Coke (and the two appetizers – ceviche tostada $2 & shrimp cocktail $7) & two entrees (each about $10) came to $42.  That might seem high but remember – two beers & WAY too much food.  You could get in & out of here for far less.  And – whether you order light or go nuts – I absolutely recommend this joint with complete enthusiasm.  We all go to the airport – so you have no excuse!

Roasted Tomatillo & Jalapeno Salsa

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

This salsa is delicious & would go great on tacos or enchiladas or anything you might add a regular salsa to.  I dry roasted the tomatillos & jalapenos on my grill but it can be achieved in a dry frying pan or in your broiler.

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Roasted Tomatillo & Jalapeno Salsa

INGREDIENTS

2 lbs tomatillos – papery skin removed

4 jalapenos (less if you are sensitive to spice)

1 small onion

4 garlic cloves

1 cup fresh cilantro

4 oregano sprigs or 1 tsp dry oregano

1 tsp cumin

salt to taste

DIRECTIONS

Char the tomatillos & jalapenos until they are black.  Put in a plastic bag & let them sweat a few minutes.  Under cool running water, slip the skins off everything, remove the stems & seed the jalapenos.

Simply blend all the ingredients to a puree.

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Spicy Chipotle Cream Pasta with English Peas & Tortilla Strips

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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I have had a rough week.  Had to go to one of the most dreaded places on Earth.  Worse the the gynecologist.  Worse than the incredibly awful, boob-squishing mammographer’s office.   Almost as bad as the dentist’s office.  I had to go here:

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Time to renew my driver’s license.  Despite being freshly showered & having an appointment, the staff here treated me with suspicion & hostility & looked at me like I had a load in my pants.  They spat questions at me & demanded I stand squarely behind this counter or that, cover this eye or that while reading this string of letters or that.  It was like a fucking field sobriety test and every answer or action on my part seemed to beg imprisonment or the opening of some trap door through which I could be permanently disappeared.   I am not sure why the people at the DMV are such douche bags but I am sure that they are.  More mysterious to me is how they actually PULL OFF being so intimidating.  They have no Goddamn power.  They are not cops.  Why did I panic with every irritated question they asked & quiver under the scrutiny of their surly focus?   It’s ridiculous.  Anyway – I had to run nearly their full gauntlet:  the eye exam, the written test & get a new photo.  I managed to avoid the cavity search but I have no idea how.

From there, I had to go to that other glorious bastion of government animosity – the post office – where, again, I was treated like an illegal trying to hustle female minors over a border for enslavement in the sex trade.  All I wanted to do was mail a package to Canada with a tracking number & insurance.  It took FOUR different clerks & thirty minutes before they stopped shoving my package back at me, telling my request was impossible & screaming, “NEXT in line!” over my shoulder.

They said:

You cannot track international packages.  (You can)

You cannot insure documents. (You can if they are negatives.)

You cannot insure international packages.  (You can.)

You cannot use a Priority envelope.  (You can.)

You have the wrong customs form.  (I didn’t)

Speak to that manager out there on the floor. (Who stared back at me blankly and gave me a different form.)

This form is the wrong one.  (It was – but the manager had just given it to me.)

Stand aside & fill this one out.  NEXT person in line please!

Meanwhile, the 32 minutes I had on my meter outside ticked away as the meter maid sat in her car ten feet away.  Parked in the red.

There was more – but you get the picture.  In the end – they did everything I asked but it was like some Kafka-esque nightmare of willfully ignorant bureaucracy & I was seconds from screaming, “No wonder people want to kill you fucktards!”  But, I didn’t.  I just wanted to mail a fucking valuable item to Canada.  Is that the most exotic request the Wilcox post office (the largest one in Hollywood) had ever encountered?

Anyway – with that task completed & seriously disgruntled, I headed home & tried to think of something to cook that could be made without having to venture forth and deal with anyone else in the disservice industry.  I decided to make this dish & as I went to remove my first effort at baked tortilla strips (which I baked to blackness) – I burned my arm.

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I have a much grosser image of this sizable burn but this is a food porn blog & I don’t want to put anyone off their dinner.

Ok – despite the unfortunate burn – this is a really easy dish to put together.  You can use any basic pasta sauce – with or without cream.  I used a little 6 oz container of my homemade vodka sauce that I had in my freezer – so this is a recipe to feed two.  You could use a homemade or jarred vodka sauce or other pink sauce or even a marinara.  I used 4 chipotle peppers in adobo -and found that to be a tad ambitious on the spice side.  I think, in the future, I’ll cut that in half with a quantity of sauce as small as I worked with last night.  I added peas because I had them & they looked pretty.  I added the tortilla strips for the Hell of it.  Either of these two ingredients could easily be omitted with no great loss to the overall impact of the flavor of this dish.  Really – all this is is a sauce with some chopped chipotle pepper in it.  You can’t mess that up.  And it is really delicious!

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Spicy Chipotle Cream Pasta with English Peas & Tortilla Strips

INGREDIENTS

1/2 lb dry pasta

6 oz vodka sauce (or other pasta sauce)

2 chipotle peppers in adobo – chopped finely

1 tomato – diced

Parsley or cilantro – chopped for garnish

2 corn tortillas (optional)

1 cup peas (optional)

Pico de gallo – as garnish (optional)

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 400.

Slice the tortillas into 1/4 inch strips.  Spray with cooking oil & bake for 5 minutes or so – until crispy.  Remove from heat & set aside.

I used fresh peas so I wrapped them in a wet paper towel & zapped them in the microwave for a minute.  This isn’t necessary with frozen or canned peas.

Warm your sauce, add the chipotle & peas, stir & heat it all through.

Cook the pasta as per box instructions.

Drain.  Toss with sauce.  Top with tortilla strips, diced tomato & cilantro or parsley.

Voila!

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Pear, Gruyere & Caramelized Onion Grilled Cheese Sandwich with a Shot of Tomato Bisque

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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There is no real recipe required for this guy.  I used my super quick & easy Artisan bread and served myself a little sake cup up Roasted Heirloom Tomato Bisque alongside a grilled cheese comprised of:

Bread

butter

Gruyere cheese

Bosc pear

Caramelized red onion

Caramelizing onions is time consuming but you can do it it larger batches & keep them in the fridge for use on pizzas or in soups or on sandwiches or with meat.  They are a lovely addition to many things.  HERE is a little tutorial on how to caramelize onions.

To assemble, I pre-heated my oven to 400.  I slathered some butter on one side of each of the pieces of bread.   Layer slices of cheese & pear & some onions on the bread top the sandwich & grill in a pan until each side is golden.  I then put it in the oven for 5 minutes to completely melt the cheese.

This could be nice with brie & apples or brie & figs.  Any salty cheese & sweet fruit.  Maybe even honey!  Get creative!

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Grilled Avocado Bruschetta with Chimichurri & Grilled Avocado, Feta Cheese & Heirloom Tomato Crostini with Basil Oil

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All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2013

To see images of my past posts & get links to the recipes – look on my Pinterest board – HERE.

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Last night I tried something new.  I grilled an avocado.  The idea of a hot, squishy avocado is repellent but I have these Goddamn avocados from Costco & I needed to find creative ways to use them – ways not involving guacamole.  I only left this guy on the grill for less than a minute – just enough to get grill marks.  And the result?  This might be one of my all-time favorite flavors!!  Absolutely incredible!  I recommend you try it as soon as possible.

Now – I also had two slices left over from my first Artisan bread effort.

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I used this bread because I had it.  If making this CRAZY easy bread isn’t part of your plan, no worries.  Use slices of French bread or some other bread with a crusty crust.

As an aside – bruschetta – is pronounced “brusketta.”

I am often corrected when I say it this way – but I remain undeterred.

Crostini & bruschetta are the same thing.

You can top these toasted treats with a wide variety of things but, as of yesterday, grilled avocado tops my list.  You really have to try it.

Also – here is how you peel & pit an avocado:

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Grilled Avocado Bruschetta with Chimichurri

INGREDIENTS

Crusty read

Chimichurri Sauce

Avocado

olive oil

lime juice

S&P to taste

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DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 375.  Arrange bread slices on a baking sheet, brush both sides with oil, and season with salt and pepper.  Bake until golden, 15 to 20 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through – if undersides are not browning, turn bruschetta over once during baking. Let cool on baking sheets.

Halve the avocado.   Remove the pit and peel.

Mix a TBS olive oil with a TBS lime juice.  Brush this mix onto the flat side of the avocado & grill over medium heat for 30 seconds to a minute – just until the grill leaves scars.  You can spin the avocado during this period to get cross grill marks.

Remove from heat, brush all over with lime & olive oil mix & dice.

Top your bruschetta slices with avocado & drizzle with chimichurri sauce.  Serve to people & be considered a hero!

OR —–

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Grilled Avocado, Feta Cheese & Heirloom Tomato Crostini with Basil Oil

INGREDIENTS

Crusty bread

Basil oil

Avocado

feta cheese

Tomatoes – diced

S&P to taste

Olive oil

lime juice

Chopped fresh basil as garnish (optional)

DIRECTIONS

Heat the oven to 375.  Arrange bread slices on a baking sheet, brush both sides with oil, and season with salt and pepper.  Bake until golden, 15 to 20 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through – if undersides are not browning, turn bruschetta over once during baking. Let cool on baking sheets.

Halve the avocado.   Remove the pit and peel.

Mix a TBS olive oil with a TBS lime juice.  Brush this mix onto the flat side of the avocado & grill over medium heat for 30 seconds to a minute – just until the grill leaves scars.  You can spin the avocado during this period to get cross grill marks.

Remove from heat, brush all over with lime & olive oil mix & dice.

In a bowl, mix the grilled avocado, the feta (crumbled) and diced tomato in whatever ratio you prefer.  Equal parts – or heavy on the avocado is nice.  S&P to taste.

Top your crostini with this mix, drizzle with basil oil & top with chopped fresh basil (if using) & serve!  Run a victory lap!

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