Tag Archives: beans

Six Layer Dip: A Way to Use Leftovers

Andrew and I had much food leftover from our Saturday night shindig. There was still a considerable amount of chili verde, pulled pork and one chicken breast left. What do with it? I contemplated chili verde pork tacos/burritos, but we had no tortillas. Then it came to me: I could make a layered dip for tonight’s BBQ at Peter’s house. Starting at ten in the morning, I started cooking my beans from scratch.

Cooking dried beans either intimidates people or just doesn’t sound very exciting. Okay, I get it. Beans are not a sexy food to cook. Plus it is so easy to buy canned beans. Canned beans however are expensive (much more expensive than buying them dried by the pound) and they often contain a lot of sodium. I also find them a tad mushy. Most of the time I do used canned beans, but I did not have any left and I did have half a pound of dried pink beans in my cupboard.

Cooking beans is a lot easier than people make it out to be. It’s certainly not quick but it is not the long ordeal that it is often made out to be. From cupboard to dip the beans took about an hour and a half. That is not bad considering many recipes say that YOU MUST soak them overnight or they will take forever to cook. Simply not true.

First, I rinsed my beans in cold water. Then I put them in a pot and covered them with water. You want at least two to three inches of water over your beans. Yes, you will need to watch the level of your water and replenish it from time to time. Do some laundry, bring a book into the kitchen, do some knitting, whatever. Bring your beans to a boil then reduce to a simmer so they are gently bubbling. Cover with a lid partway and cook for until they tender. This can take anywhere from an half to four hours. It depends on how much you’re cooking and what kind of bean it is. Mine took about an hour and a half to cook.

Cover beans with at least two inches of water. 

Bring beans to a boil, then reduce heat so they bubble gently.

Partially cover and cook until beans are tender. 

Drain the beans, rinse, and let sit until room temperature. 

When the beans are tender, take off the heat and drain in a colander. You may want to save some of your bean cooking liquid for the next part of the recipe. I did not save mine and I had to use water. Rinse the beans and let them come down to room temperature.

Mash the beans with a fork. I also added spices. 

Now is the fun part. You get to mash your beans to whatever texture you like. I wanted mine chunky so I tried a fork. That was not getting me ANYWHERE. So I used my fist instead. Yes, I fisted my beans. Yes, my hands were perfectly clean and this was totally sanitary. It was also fun. You should never doubt your hands as tools. You may need to add a little water, broth, or bean liquid to get a smoother texture. You can also go a whiz in the food processor depending on how smooth you would like your beans.

Smooth out the beans with a spatula. 

The beans serve as the base for your dip. They are the heaviest and need to be smoothed out. Pour into a large bowl and smooth until level. Then I topped it with the pulled pork which I also smoothed out with a rubber spatula.

Add pulled pork. 

Next I made some rice. I took half a cup of white rice and put it in a small pot. I covered it with vegetable broth with at least an inch covering the rice. This is the correct amount and  you don’t need to measure this exactly. From there bring to a boil then reduce the heat, cover, and let simmer for about fifteen minutes or until the liquid has evaporated and your rice is cooked.

Top the pulled pork with rice. 

Chopped chicken breast marinated in Frank’s Red Hot. 

Add chicken and more Frank’s Red Hot sauce. 

Cover the pulled pork with the rice layer. I topped the rice layer with chopped chicken breast marinated in Frank’s Red Hot sauce (my friend Ian’s contribution to our Saturday night shindig) then topped with more Frank’s Red Hot. Next came chopped avocado. Then this was finally topped with some of the leftover manzana chili verde (see previous post).

The final product

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Vegan Chili Verde

This is one of my favorite cook book recipes. I’ve been recently mulling over my distaste for the way most cookbooks are set up. I find reading through the list of ingredients and directions for dummies to be tedious, boring, and uninspiring. The majority of cook books are made for the lowest common denominator, which is fine for when I want to learn how to cook something that I’ve never cooked before. That is when I turn to Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything. I’ve learned a lot about the basics of cooking from reading his book.

I think the problem boils down to this: when an author writes in his or her introduction that he/she is passionate about cooking, food, and states that they show their soul through the cooking and then write the most soulless, scientific sounding recipes then I just don’t believe them. I find it disingenuous. Give me some character, heart, and explain to me how you feel as you cook. If you are not a gifted writer, then have someone else do the writing for you and you provide the recipes.

I’m veering wildly off-topic here. Back to what I cooked this weekend. This weekend we finally made our move back to Santa Cruz from the Silicon Valley. We had a housewarming party on Saturday, the day after we moved in. Andrew and I are amazingly efficient movers; we had our entire house set up and everything unpacked by mid-Saturday morning. That was with our movers being an hour and a half late on Friday and with me having to make multiple trips over the winding mountain highway in between Santa Cruz and the bay area.

I knew that I wanted to make the chili verde from the Veganomicon. I purchased the Veganomicon when I had my foray into veganism. I still enjoy vegan cooking. It’s something completely different than recipes that rely upon meat, dairy, and eggs. It’s a challenge and it’s interesting. The Veganomicon for me is the vegan cookbook to purchase. It’s easy enough to follow if you’re a beginner while still maintaining a level of variation and interest. They give fun, pithy explanations of each dish before starting in on the recipe which makes it enjoyable to read. Some of the recipes are damn good, such as the manzana chili verde, chickpea cutlets, and vanilla pound cake, while others suck incredibly (the mustard sauce is one of the most heinous things I’ve ever put in my mouth).

This recipe is based off of and inspired by the Manzana Chili Verde found on page 171 of the Veganomicon by Terry Hope Romero and Isa Chandra Moskowitz. These are also the same ladies who brought you Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World.  They know what they’re doing. I forsake traditional recipe writing here. If you want to know exact ingredients and cooking times please refer to that cookbook. The result is a tangy, spicy, filling concoction that is great as a tip or as a meatless dinner.

1. First wash the following produce: one pound of baby yukon gold potatoes (I used “gold potatoes” whatever the hell those are because Safeway didn’t have baby Yukons), two Granny Smith apples, two poblano peppers (my recipe deviates here and I ended up having to use two green bell peppers. Use green bell peppers if you’re not a fan of the spicy.), and three jalapeño peppers. Set aside the apples and peppers for now.

Wash and roughly chop potatoes

2. Set yourself to work on roughly chopping your potatoes. Then put them in a large pot of cold water and bring to a boil. You want them to boil for about twenty minutes at this point. Use this time to peel and chop your onion (I accidentally used two onions and this was perfectly fine) and chop the peppers. Roughly chop them. It doesn’t matter honestly because you’re going to be putting this through a food processor eventually. Leave the seeds in the jalapeño peppers if you want it to be spicy.

Peel and roughly chop the onion

Wash and chop the peppers. You want it in smaller pieces than this picture shows. 

3. Once your potatoes are tender enough to stick a fork easily in them take them off the heat and drain them. Now get some oil cooking on medium high and then add your peppers and onion. Cook for about ten minutes. While these are cooking, chop your garlic (I used an entire head. Use as much as you like. Exact measurements DO NOT MATTER), and get the cumin (I did not use cumin), chili powder (I used chili powder and the original recipe does not), a teaspoon of oregano,  and 2 cups of vegetable broth ready. Chop the apples into bite sized pieces. Prepare your tomatillos.

Note: To prepare tomatillos you need to remove the papery skins on the outside. Tomatillos are like little green apple and tomato hybrids. They can also be rather sticky. Remove the papery skins and then wash. Chop into small pieces.

Cook the onions and peppers on medium high in olive oil for about ten minutes.

Onions and peppers after 10 minutes

4. When the peppers and onions have reached a soft translucency, add the garlic, tomatillos and spices. Cook for about another minute then add the vegetable broth and apples. Cover and simmer for twenty minutes. I forgot to warn at the beginning of this that this is a rather time consuming recipe, but completely worth it.

Add tomatillos

Add apples and vegetable broth. Cook for another 20 minutes.

5. After the twenty or so minutes are up, carefully ladle your mixture into a food processor. If you have a large food processor good for you it will get done quicker. If you have an immersion blender well then you’re just super awesome and lucky aren’t you. Use that. If you don’t have either, but you have a food mill then use that, but be careful no matter because this shit is hot and can possibly burn you. Go through the entire batch and food process, blend, or mill until it reaches a rough smoothness.

Chili verde after its been in the food processor and the beans/potatoes are added. 

6. Add potatoes and two cans of beans (the original recipe calls for one can of beans but I found that meager). Simmer until heated through. I actually served mine at room temperature with tortilla chips and that was delicious.

People enjoying the manzana chili verde. 

Vegetarian Taco Night

Tonight we made vegetarian tacos. It’s super simple and not even really a recipe. We sliced up some avocado and pineapple, cooked up some beans, and heated tortillas up.

Baked Beans and Hummus

The last time I made baked beans was a semi-disaster. I ended up losing a portion of beans when getting into Andrew’s car. This portion of beans was scalding hot and landed in my crotch. As you can imagine, boiling hot beans in your groin area is really uncomfortable. These beans tasted great and they were an awesome addition to last year’s Super Bowl festivities.

I decided to try making baked beans again. This time around I made the Veganomicon’s Cheater Baked Beans. These were a lot easier and less time consuming than the other beans I made last year. They, however, are lacking a depth of flavor that were in the Super Bowl crotch burner beans. I really think that dried beans end up tasting a lot better than canned beans and some addition of a smokey flavor is necessary for great tasting baked beans (be this from a ham hock, bacon, or hickory smoke flavoring).

The Cheater Baked Beans

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 medium sized yellow onion, diced as small as you can (I left this out because someone else in my house used my onion *cough cough* Andrew).
  • 3 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 15 oz. can tomato sauce (I used no salt added)
  • 1/2 cup light molasses (I used dark because that’s what I had in my cupboard)
  • 2 tsp. mustard (they call for mustard powder, but I did not have mustard powder nor did I care to buy any)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 15 oz. cans small white beans (I used navy beans)

1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Or be like me and put it at 375 and then change it later because you never read recipes carefully.

2. Preheat a medium-sized pot over medium heat. Saute your onion if someone didn’t steal it in the olive oil for about ten minutes. You want them to be a little browned and caramelized. Add the garlic and saute for one more minute. Add the tomato sauce, molasses, mustard, salt, allspice, and bay leaf and cook for about five minutes.

3. Then pour this into an oven safe dish. Or maybe you have one of those oven safe dishes that can be put on the stove top. I never experiment with this because things can go badly. Cover the dish and transfer it into the oven. Cook for thirty minutes, then stir, put the lid back on and then cook for thirty more minutes.

This left me with fairly runny baked beans. I like less sauce and more bean. It also has a strong tomato flavor and I’m not a big tomato person. However, it did taste nice with my bagel this morning for breakfast.

Hummus


My hummus contains one can of chickpeas and then I add tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt and pepper. Then I process it in the food processor until well blended. It’s not that complicated and I never measure. I prefer the consistency of hummus done in a blender, but my blender is devilishly difficult to clean so I used the food processor this time.

Three Vegetable Dips

This weekend is my friend Peter’s birthday. In addition to the usual BBQ fare that we do at Peter’s house we are also having birthday cake, baked beans, veggies with dip, and CRICKETS. Yes, we are going to have crickets. As you can imagine, I’m stoked.

Yes, I know no one uses the word stoked anymore except me.

I am responsible for making the baked beans and the veggies with dips. I have red peppers, baby carrots, and broccoli prepared. I got off work early today so I decided to make three different dips: ranch, sun-dried tomato bean dip, and a white bean herb dip. Tomorrow I will be making my standby hummus.

Ranch Dip

The first dip that I made was a very time consuming process of adding a ranch dressing packet to some light sour cream and mixing it. Tons of work but definitely worth the flavor. 🙂

Sun-Dried Tomato Dip


The next dip that I made was a sun-dried tomato bean dip. This recipe took a little more time than just adding a powdered concoction to some sour cream. This recipe came from the Veganomicon. I was super-excited to try it. It’s not for the faint of heart or those who don’t like sun-dried tomatoes.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups sun-dried tomatoes (the dry kind, not the kind in the oil)
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/2 cup canned white beans (I used canneloni)
  • 2 tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • several pinches of freshly ground black pepper

1. Place the tomatoes in a bowl and pour two cups of boiling water over them. Cover with a plate and let them soak for about fifteen minutes.

2. In a blender/food processor, grind the almonds to a powder. I messed this part up and added my beans and almonds together. I never read recipes correctly.

3. Use a slotted spoon or tongs to remove the tomatoes from the water (don’t discard the water) and add them to the almonds. Add the remaining ingredients and purree, adding up to 1/4 cup of the tomato water. Cover and chill for at least an hour.’

White Bean Herb Dip

The next dip that I made was made from the leftover white beans that I had from the sun-dried tomato recipe. I added one cup of white beans into the food processor with two large tablespoons of minced garlic, a bunch of dried dill, salt, pepper, onion powder, red chili flakes, and lemon juice. This came out as a pretty tasty, creamy herb bean dip.

Then I did something super complex and time consuming: I cut red bell peppers. This was actually more confusing than it sounds because THERE WERE PEPPERS GROWING INSIDE MY PEPPERS. Seriously, in two of my peppers there were little peppers growing inside. I don’t understand why or how this happened but it did.

Tacos…or something with tortillas

One thing we eat a lot of around here in California is “Mexican” food. “Mexican” is a blanket term for anything involving tortillas, rice, beans, and avocados. This can be in the form of burritos, tacos, papusas, empanadas, enchiladas, or quesadillas. I’m not sure what can be classified as authentic around here. Then there is also the clash between the NorCal and SoCal burritos. I’m a NorCal burrito person myself because I’m not into the refried beans that are used in the SoCal burrito. Plus, NorCal burritos are monster sized and super cheap. They can last me two meals.

Last week we bought a large package of flour tortillas from Safeway and did a taco night. Taco night around our house pretty much consists of pinto beans, avocados, flour tortillas, chile verde, and cheese (for me). This time I made brown rice to go with it and Andrew sauteed some diced yellow onion. This was the first time that I succesfully made brown rice. It was great! This is a simple, easy meal. I wouldn’t say it’s quick because brown rice takes almost an hour to cook, but it definitely is easy.

Basic Brown Rice

  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 2 cups vegetable broth

1. Put brown rice and vegetable broth in a small saucepan. Then bring heat to high and boil.

2. Once the rice and broth are boiling, turn the heat to low and cover with a lid. Let it simmer for forty-five to fifty-five minutes.

3. Remove the lid and fluff the rice. I had excess liquid even though my rice was done cooking. I just drained this out into the sink.

Here is what it looks like as you’re cooking:

1. The rice and broth boiling. The red rings are what heat my food (I miss gas burners).

Yes, our stove-top is almost always that clean.

This is the rice simmering. Seriously, this is thrilling stuff. Do the rest of your cooking while the rice is cooking away or be like me and read a history book (I recommend Alison Weir)

And here is the finished product. No, yours will not be this glowing. That is just my lovely over the top flash because I do not have my portable desk lamp at this house yet.

We ate this with canned pinto cooked with onion powder, chili powder, and minced garlic. We always buy the organic, low-sodium kind and then rinse them before cooking.

And this is the final product. It is a terrible picture but I couldn’t focus with that little of light.

Recipe Reviews: The Veganomicon

I’ve been slowly working my way through some of the recipes in the Veganomicon that interest me. I think they have a lot of great recipes. It is an informative book and the descriptions before each recipe are cute and humorous. My main issue with the recipes are the fact that they do not take into account the time that prep work takes. My carrots, peppers, onions, garlic do not always come magically sliced, minced or chopped. Since I am not a professional cook and have very limited machinery, slicing onions take forever and I’m very sensitive to the sulphur (which means that I cry like a little girl whose just lost their favorite doll). I’ve been mostly satisfied with the recipes in the book, but they are time consuming. Very time consuming.

This last weekend I decided to throw a BBQ to celebrate being accepted into my credential program at San Jose State. I wanted to make one vegetarian dish and Andrew was going to bbq some meat. I ate red meat for the first time in a couple months, but more on that later. I decided to make the Manzana Chili Verde and Skillet Corn Bread. I adapted the corn bread to be made in a piece of bakeware and with spelt flour. I’ve been trying to reduce the amount of white flour that I use.

I’m not going to write the recipe for the Manzana Chili Verde since it’s incredibly long, but I will note that the recipe says 1 hour to make. This is ridiculously underestimated. You would have to be Speedy Gonzalez or Flash Gordon to make this recipe in an hour. It took me at least an hour and a half, probably closer to two hours. The prep work took me forever since I’m a slow cutter. The recipe does not include the prep time for cutting all the vegetables. Also, I had to extra beans to make this hearty enough to be a chili. We ended up using it more like a dip than eating it out of a bowl. It was very tasty, but I don’t think I would make it again.

I will give the recipe for the cornbread since I made some adaptions. I really enjoy the way it came out. It has a heavy corn taste and a very dense moist texture from the spelt flour. The only critique I have of the recipe is that it also took much longer than it said in the book. The book says that it needs to cook for 30-32 minutes. Mine nearly took forty-five minutes. I find that this is a trend in this book. Either my oven is screwed up or the authors of this book have a super oven.

Skillet Corn Bread (Basic Corn Bread)

  • 2 cups unsweetened almond milk (recipe uses soy)
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 cups cornmeal
  • 1 cup spelt flour (original recipe uses all-purpose flour)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup oil

1. Preheat the oven 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a square baking pan with spray oil or whichever type of grease you like.

2. Combing the milk and vinegar in a measuring cup and set aside to curdle as you prepare everything else. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Create a well in the center and add the milk mixture adn oil. Use a spoon to mix together until just combined; some small lumps are okay, but try to get rid of large lumps.

3. Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish. Bake for 30-32 minutes. Now, mine took much longer than this. Keep checking with a sharp knife or toothpick to see if ti comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool a bit before serving.

Today I some of my leftover cornbread with a third of a can of black beans, some mozzarella cheese, and tapatio sauce. It made for a tasty, delicious lunch.