Monday, January 25, 2016


As you may have guessed, Broccomole is the broccoli version of Guacamole. I first heard of it as I was browsing a cookbook that was given to me as a Christmas gift. It was the very first recipe I read and I immediately knew I wanted to try it.
 As is often the case, the holidays can be brutal to one's diet, and this seemed like the perfect appetizer to make for those of us who are trying to get back on track by restricting carbs from our diets. And since I hear there's some sort of big game happening somewhere soon, I figured this would be the perfect time to share the recipe. I served mine with homemade low carb tortilla chips, but feel free to serve it with any kind of chips or any other assorted veggies.
I bet your guests will devour it!

1 large head broccoli
1/4 cup sour cream
1-2 tbs finely chopped onion
1 tbs mayonnaise
2 tbs lemon juice
1/2 tsp chili powder
salt and pepper to taste
tortilla chips

Cut off the florets of the broccoli and place them in the basket of a steamer. Cut off and discard the ends of the broccoli stems and use a vegetable peeler to remove the fibrous tough exterior of the stems. Cut them into smaller pieces and add the to the steamer. Steam the broccoli over simmering water until it is quite tender. Remove from steamer and let cool or chill.
Add all ingredients except the chips to a food processor and pulse until well pureed. Adjust seasoning if needed.  Serve with tortilla chips.

The key to this recipe is making sure you cook the hell out of the broccoli so that it becomes nice and soft. Otherwise, it won't puree properly. Yes, you could boil it, but then it will become too watery.
Do you like it spicy? Add some chopped jalapeños, chopped chilis, or crushed red pepper flakes.
To make your own tortilla chips, cut flour tortillas (regular or low carb) into wedges. Place in a single layer on a baking tray, then brush with olive or vegetable oil. Sprinkle with salt and/or any other seasonings you like. Bake in a 400ºF for about 8-10 minutes or until lightly brown.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Fragrant Coconut-Lime Beef Stew

  If you're one of my faithful readers, you know by now how much I love a good beef stew recipe, or any recipe for which I can use my dutch oven. You also know how much I love trying new and different recipes, especially different types of International cuisine. This is another great recipe from my long distance friend and former classmate, Kathleen. I can't remember how we arrived at the topic of Indian Cuisine (for which I get MANY requests, btw), but I was thrilled when she offered this recipe. No, Kathleen isn't of Indian decent, but she told me she thinks she must have been (in a previous life) because she loves the food so much. hehehehe
 Just wait until you taste this! First and foremost, yes, it still tastes like a hearty beef stew, but it has the subtle hints of coconut and lime to add just the tiniest little twist. And the spices make the whole thing warm and mellow. Kathleen gave me this recipe literally YEARS ago and I'm just now finally getting around to posting it. I've made it several times and it's always a huge hit! If you're looking for a new recipe to try, this one is it! It's REALLY wonderful.
Thanx again Kathleen!

3 tablespoons canola oil, divided
1 medium yellow onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander seed
1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or more to taste
3 pounds beef chuck, cut into 1-inch chunks
14-ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
2-inch strip lime zest
2 tablespoons lime juice
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
2 bay leaves
1 pound baby carrots
1 pound baby red potatoes, halved *
1/2 cup chopped peanuts (optional)

Heat oven to 325 degrees.
In large Dutch oven over medium-high, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add onion and saute until they begin to color, about 7 to 8 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, coriander, cumin, turmeric and cayenne pepper. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute longer. Transfer mixture to a large plate.

Return Dutch oven to burner. Increase heat to high and add another 1 1/2 teaspoons of oil to pot. When oil is hot, add a quarter of the beef and cook until well browned on all sides, about 3 minutes. Transfer to plate. Brown remaining beef in 3 more batches, adding oil as needed.

Return onion mixture and browned beef to pot. Stir in coconut milk, lime zest, lime juice, brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, bay leaves, and baby carrots. Bring mixture to a simmer, cover, then place in oven for 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 hours, or until beef is tender. Alternatively, stew can be simmered over low heat on burner. Season with salt. Serve garnished with chopped peanuts (if desired) over a helping of steamed white or brown rice.

*If you'd like to add sweet potatoes instead of regular potatoes, they'll become too soft if you cook them in the stew. My answer is to peel and cut them into chunks, then toss with a little oil, salt and pepper, and roast them separately on a baking tray, then add them to the stew as you serve.

You can easily adapt this to a crock pot instead of a dutch oven. Just brown everything in a skillet as the recipe directs, and then transfer to a crock pot. Kathleen said she likes to cook it on high until it simmers and then cook it on low for about 4 more hours, placing the potatoes and carrots in about an hour before it's done. I think I'd probably wind up just throwing everything in and letting it cook on low for 6 or 7 hours.
If you want to take the heat even further, use a modest amount of chopped, fresh Scotch bonnet chili pepper instead of the cayenne.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Country Chicken Casserole


  Whenever I make a new dish, I always take a picture of it so that I'll be able to post it and share it at a later date. But sometimes I'll save a picture to my food file, and then it never gets posted. It's the same way with recipes. Sometimes I'll see a recipe on another blog, or maybe someone will post it on Facebook, and I'll save the recipe with the hope of trying it and possibly posting it, but then it doesn't happen. One would think that I'd be a little more organized by now, since I've been blogging for about 8 years now. (whoa, EIGHT years? How is that even possible? Time certainly does fly, doesn't it?)
 So anyway, today I was looking through some old photos and recipes and I realized that I had never posted this one. It has COMFORT FOOD written all over it, and it's the perfect thing to warm you up and fill your belly after you've been outside in the cold. Frankly, I don't even remember where I got the recipe. I'm guessing it's from Campbell's since it uses cans of soup, but who knows? I just remember how delicious and easy it was. This is definitely one to add to your "go-to" file of recipes. You could even make it the night before you want to serve it, and then pop it in the oven when you get home from work the next day. Simple! Serve it with a quick salad and you're good to go! Boom.

 a few glugs of vegetable or olive oil
1 cup diced carrots
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced onions

1 can (10 3/4 ounces) Campbell's® Condensed Cream of Celery Soup
1 can (10 3/4 ounces) Campbell's® Condensed Cream of Potato Soup
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves, (or 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves, chopped)
Pinch of salt, pepper to taste

2 cups cubed cooked chicken or turkey
4 cups prepared Pepperidge Farm® Herb Seasoned Stuffing

 In a large skillet, saute vegetables in a little oil over medium heat until they begin to soften. In a large bowl, stir together the soups, milk, thyme, and pepper along with the sauteed vegetables. Add chicken and give it another good stir. Pour into a 3-quart shallow baking dish. Top with the stuffing. Bake at 400°F for 25 minutes or until the stuffing is golden brown and the sauce is bubbly.

This recipe lends itself to any number of variations. If you don't have cooked chicken on hand, buy a rotisserie chicken and just shred the meat off the bone. Or instead of chicken, use turkey, ground beef, diced ham, or any combination! Just be sure it's all cooked or browned in the pan before you add it to the casserole. Use whatever kind of veggies you like. Swap out any kind of cream soups instead of the celery and potato soups. Cream of mushroom or cream of chicken would be absolutely delicious. Wanna add anything else? Go for it! I've even added some craisins and it was fabulous. You can also add shredded cheddar or grated Parmesan cheese. And if you like a lot of something, add a lot! That's the beauty of casseroles. Add what you like and it will all work!

Monday, January 4, 2016

Coconut Rice with Black Beans

 Here's a quick dish that is as hearty to eat as it is easy to make. Yes, I know rice can be a little boring sometimes, but stay with me! You're gonna love this one! It's amazing how adding a few simple ingredients can turn plain white rice into a fan favorite!!
 I made this for one of my themed dinners (this was for Mexican night, of course) and it was a big hit! But why wait until Mexican night? Go ahead and serve it as a delicious side dish anytime! It goes great with chicken, beef, or pork, and the beans make it so hearty that it can stand alone as a meatless main dish. Serve it with a nice salad and you're good to go! Enjoy!

2 tbs oil (or butter)
1 onion, chopped
1 cup uncooked rice (I like Jasmine rice)
1 cup chicken stock (or vegetable stock, or water)
1 cup unsweetened coconut milk
salt and pepper
pinch of nutmeg
1 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained

 Heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the chopped onion, and cook until it has softened and turned translucent, about 3 minutes. Add the rice and stir until coated with the oil. Pour in the coconut milk and stock; season with nutmeg, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender, about 18 minutes. Stir in the black beans, and cook a few minutes until hot. 

The first time I made this, I was surprised at how buttery it turned out, rather than coconutty. I really wanted it to have a more pronounced coconut flavor. So, I tried using all coconut milk instead of doing half coconut milk and half chicken stock. I was figuring more coconut milk equals more coconut flavor, right? Well, yes, but it turned out to be FAR too oily. Ah well, live and learn. So, even if you don't use stock, you still need to cut the coconut milk with something, even if it's just plain water. I suppose if you'd like it to be more coconutty, you could add a few drops of coconut extract.