Friday, April 25, 2014

Easy Thai Green Beans

Tired of preparing green beans the same old way?  Then look no further!  I am constantly trying to change things up in our house so that meals don't become boring.  Plus, It is also fun for me to prepare different things!  I discovered Maesri's chili paste with sweet basil leaves in the international section of our Whole Foods a year or so ago and couldn't pass it up.  Now I make sure that I have a jar on hand at all times.  It is a blend of red chilli, garlic, basil leaves, Kaffir lime, salt, sugar, etc., and it really has wonderful flavor.  The paste is a tad on the spicy side but if you enjoy Thai food then it should not be an issue!  I love fresh green beans but since they are not in season as of yet, I went with the old standby in my freezer.  They turned out just as good and I didn't even thaw them out first!  









Easy Thai Green Beans

3 to 4 Tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, halved and sliced thinly
2 Tbsp. of Maesri chili paste with sweet basil leaves
2 red or yellow bell peppers, sliced
6 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 lb. bag of frozen green beans
Himalayan salt
fresh ground pepper

Directions:
Heat the oil over medium in a Dutch oven.  Add the sliced onion, a pinch of salt, and saute until the onions begin to brown.   Next, add the bell peppers and saute for a few minutes.  Add the chili paste and cook for a few minutes.  Stir in the garlic.  After a minute (when the garlic is fragrant), add the green beans and stir so that they are coated in the mixture.  Cover the pot, turn the heat to low, and let the beans cook for 10-15 minutes, until they are at your desired level of doneness.  Season the beans with salt and pepper (if needed).  Serve as a main dish over some fluffy rice or as a simple side dish! Enjoy!

Photos by Becky Loves Cooking
Recipe by Becky Loves Cooking

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Oven Roasted Tomato Sauce


Making tomato sauce does not always have to be a laborious process and this recipe will prove that.  I have spent my time slaving over sauce simmering on the stove but during the hustle and bustle of the week, who has time for that?  I love that I can throw this in the oven and then go about my business for an hour!  I began making this as an appetizer, a topping for bruschetta.  One night I thought to myself, wouldn't this be a fabulous sauce for pasta!  I added ingredients that I would use in my regular sauce, and then some!  This dish became an instant hit.  It is such a simple pasta dish, yet so full of flavor.   Feel free to substitute whichever tomatoes that you have on hand.  I used grape tomatoes for this version but I have used tomatoes straight from the garden as well as canned San Marzano tomatoes.  I have added cannellini beans because they add protein and give the sauce a wonderful creaminess.  Give this recipe a go and let me know what you think! 
See recipe below...









Oven Roasted Tomato Sauce

2 - 16 ounce packages of grape tomatoes, picked over and rinsed
1 onion, quartered and thinly sliced
1 head of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and grated
a bundle of fresh thyme
3 or 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
1 - 14 ounce can of BioItalia cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 tsp. of crushed red pepper (optional)
Himalayan salt, to taste
fresh ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 to 1/2 cup of a good extra virgin olive oil
the zest of a lemon
1 lb. of pasta (I used casarecce)
freshly grated Pecorino Romano for serving

Directions:
Preheat your oven to 400.  Place all ingredients (minus the last three), in an 8.5 x 11 baking dish.  Mix them well and roast for a half hour.  Stir and roast for another half hour.  When the sauce is almost finished, cook your pasta al dente, drain it, and put it in a large serving bowl. Remove the rosemary and thyme sprigs from the sauce and pour it on top of the hot pasta. Add the lemon zest and toss it all together.  Serve with freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese and enjoy!

Photos by Becky Loves Cooking
Recipe by Becky Loves Cooking

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Smokey Corn Chowder

Smokey Corn Chowder

The first time that I ever made corn chowder was in college.  I was looking for healthier meals to make for myself because I was trying to shed the freshman 15, 20, or 30 pounds I had packed on!  Now that I was living off campus, I was more in control of what I was putting in my body.  I said goodbye to late night pizzas, fried chicken fingers, etc., and began cooking all of my meals.  The recipe that I started with was very basic so I began changing it and gradually it evolved into this.  I prefer using fresh corn for this recipe but it is only available for such a limited time during the summer months so frozen it has to be!  This chowder has become a favorite so I always have the ingredients on hand to make it.  My nephew even loves it, which is so sweet. When one of my recipes gets a thumbs up like that, I write it down! Ha! I hope that you enjoy this as much as we do. See recipe below.



Begin by sauteing your veggies...

Add in your garlic and chipotles...

Add the corn, potatoes, and broth...

Stir in the milk once the soup is finished cooking...

Puree part of the soup for a thicker consistency....(please excuse my messy stove, I cooked four things at once the day that I made this!)


Smokey Corn Chowder

4 Tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil
1 organic onion, chopped
6 organic celery stalks, chopped
1 organic bell pepper, chopped
Himalayan salt
fresh ground black pepper
1 4 oz. can of fire roasted chilies 
2 dried chipotle peppers, stems removed and chopped
6-8 organic garlic cloves, chopped
1 16 oz bag of organic frozen corn
2 medium organic yellow fleshed potatoes, peeled and diced
5 cups of low sodium organic vegetable broth
1 12 oz. can of evaporated milk


Directions:
Heat the oil in a heavy Dutch oven over low to medium heat.  Add the onion, celery, bell pepper, a pinch of salt, and saute for 8 to 10 minutes.  When the veggies start to brown, add the fire roasted chilies, dried chipotles, and chopped garlic.  Saute for 1 or two minutes.  Next, add in the corn, potatoes, and vegetable broth.  Stir, cover, and bring to a boil.  Once the soup comes to a boil, simmer covered for about 25 to 30 minutes.  Add in the evaporated milk.  If you prefer a thicker chowder, ladle half of the soup into a blender (or use an immersion blender like I did), puree it, and add it back into the soup pot.  Stir and add additional salt or pepper per taste.


Photos by Becky Loves Cooking
Recipe by Becky Loves Cooking

SpikedSeltzer Refresh!

SpikedSeltzer Refresh!

I don't know about you but I think that I am officially done with winter!  Spring has arrived and what better way to welcome it in, than with a cocktail.  We are big seltzer drinkers in our home so when I heard that a company had "spiked" seltzer, I decided that I must try it.  We visited a local liquor store where Spiked Seltzer just happened to be having a demo and sampled their lime flavor.  It did not disappoint in the least.  I was expecting it to have a strong alcohol taste, but it did not at all.  Instead, it was light, refreshing, and surprisingly, gluten free!  While Spiked Seltzer is fabulous on its own, I decided to begin mixing it with various things.    

A friend in Japan posted a picture of a beverage she was drinking, which happened to be Creme de Cassis and club soda.  I had never had Creme de Cassis but it looked divine so I ran out and picked some up.  I filled an old fashioned glass with Spiked Seltzer, topped it with some grapefruit juice, and drizzled the cassis on top.  The result was the most wonderfully refreshing drink!  Thank you to Ayako for introducing me to Creme de Cassis and for inspiring this beverage! 




SpikedSeltzer Refresh!

6 ounces of Spiked Seltzer (West Indies Lime flavor)
1 ounce of fresh grapefruit juice
1/2 Tbsp. of Creme de Cassis

Directions:

Place a few ice cubes in an old fashioned glass.  Add the ingredients. Stir and enjoy! 


Photo by Becky Loves Cooking
Recipe by Becky Loves Cooking

For more info on Spiked Seltzer, visit www.spikedseltzer.com.

Disclaimer: All products mentioned were purchased by me and opinions are my own.