Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Sweet Potatoes with Vegetarian-Vegan Black Bean Chili

As I mentioned to you in the near past, that we have vegetarian, and vegan meals at least 3, 4 times a week, seafood once a week, and the weekend is pretty "iffy"...never knowing what we're going to eat. That's where I get in trouble with my WW points system, even though I'm allowed extra points, every weekend I gain back at least 2 or 3 pounds; then, start again on Monday, and it takes an entire week to lose those extra pounds, and struggling to lose another pound or two. So, this is the "lifestyle". As long as I'm on track and know what's taking place, I'm more conscious of it!
This dish is the ultimate vegetarian...vegan, if you don't top the chili with the Lebni (kefir/yogurt)...but I must confess that Lebni is so creamy, tangy, thick, and the perfect topping to tame the hot and spicy flavor of this gorgeous chili topped baked sweet potato! I don't claim to be a recipe developer, or a food stylist, but then, I am a professionally trained chef, for decades now... which I never talk about, but I do mention it on the bottom of my  "about me" section. I guarantee, that you haven't seen a chili assembled like this, but there are plenty of sweet potato chili recipes out there. This way, you have the best of both...baked sweet potato, cooked black beans, and separately cooked spicy vegetables, all assembled...with LOVE!
I totally went off the original subject that I want to post about...oh yes! The Red Gold Tomato Giveaway winner!
As you can see these beautiful spicy vegetables that are still simmering, and steaming (you could actually see the steam)...they are made with the Red Gold Tomato Diced Tomato Chili Ready tomatoes.

Here's the tricky part. I did calculate the winner on my handy little Random.Org widget, and wouldn't you know who came up as #14 winner? Wendy @ The Weekend Gourmet. She specifically asked me not to include her, since she also hosted a giveaway last year, and this year, she had the opportunity to visit the Red Gold Tomato plant in person...you can read about her fabulous trip on her blog!

Next, the generator picked my Hungarian food blogger friend, Erzsi @ Troll a Konnyhamban...so sorry, but only U.S. and Canada are eligible....that was # 7...so now, I didn't want to spin the numbers again, that's how I went to the next number, which is # 8...Claudia @ What's Cookin' Italian Style!

Congratulations, Claudia...I will get in touch with you by e-mail...to get your address, so I can send it to Red Gold, and they will ship your giveaway package to you, directly!

Linking to: Full Plate Thursday @ Miz Helen's Country Cottage
                Thursday Favorite Things @ Katherines Corner


Sweet Potatoes with Vegetarian-Vegan Black Bean Chili
my own recipe

1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 red bell pepper chopped
1 medium onion chopped
3 cloves of garlic chopped
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1-14 1/2 to 16 ounce can diced tomatoes with juices
(I used Red Gold diced tomatoes, Chili Ready)
1 15- to 16 ounce can black beans, rinsed, and drained
( I made a large pot of black dried beans, the day before, and used 2 cups of it, rinsed and drained)
3 small yellow crookneck squash diced 
1 Tablespoon minced seeded if you like, jalapeno chili
4 lime wedges

Plain nonfat, Lebni, our sour cream (optional)
Chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Pierce sweet potatoes with a fork, and wrap them separately in foil paper. Place sweet potatoes in baking dish and bake until tender, about 1 hr. 15 minutes.




Note: the day before, make a large batch of dried black beans, and refrigerate in large plastic container, to make at least 3 different meals out of it, or just season it to make a side dish chili, or black bean soup. This is optional, you can use a good quality canned beans for this recipe, as well!


Meanwhile, heat olive oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Add diced bell pepper and shopped onions and saute until golden, about 10 minutes. Add minced garlic and stir mixture 2 minutes. Stir in chili powder and ground cumin, then the diced yellow squash. tomatoes.Reduce heat to low, and cook for about 15 minutes, adding about 1/4 cup of water if it's needed.
Add diced tomatoes with their juices, and cook for another 10 to 15 minutes...not longer, to keep the diced pieces whole.





Heat the black beans separately in a small saucepan. You can add an extra can of beans, or the fresh cooked beans to make sure you have enough. Important: in order to spice up the beans, take a small portion from the spicy veggies, and stir them into the beans.


Arrange 1 sweet potato on each of 4 plates. Split potatoes open; mash slightly. Spoon some black beans in center of each. top with the spicy vegetables, and squeeze lime juice over.


Top with Lebni, Greek yogurt, or sour cream (optional)
 














This is an amazing healthy, colorful, and filling dish.
I figured out the WW points value, which is 7 points.
Even if you're not a vegetarian, you will love this!
Enjoy!












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Friday, February 24, 2012

Chick- Peas in Chunky Tomato Sauce...and Red Gold Giveaway

I'm truly happy to announce to you, that I have the most amazing 100 % all natural tomatoes to have had the privilege of trying, almost exactly one year ago, when I won the beautiful giveaway pack, from my friend Wendy, @ Weekend Gourmet.

I did not even know that our local Publix Supermarket in West Palm Beach carries the Red Gold tomatoes, when I suddenly discovered it, yesterday! More importantly, I got my "six pack" ...no, I don't mean a six pack "abs"...not even nearly, or my six pack of "beer"...although beer would go nice with my Chick- Peas in Chunky Tomato Sauce, made with the Red Gold Tomatoes, that I received the "six pack" of different 6 type of their wonderful tomatoes.
I must tell you, that this is a truly Vegan dish, made with dried chickpeas (garbanzo) that have been soaked, and slowly cooked till it became just the right crunchiness on the outside, and al-dente on the inside, and the tomato stew, slowly cooked with Red Gold Crushed Tomatoes, and combined with Red Gold Stewed Tomatoes, that looked and smelled absolutely fresh, ruby red, and "heavenly"! Served over Israeli Couscous, an you've got yourself a satisfying Vegan/Vegetarian dish, or a side dish with any type of meat, if you prefer it that way! The best part...I get to share these "six pack" of tomatoes with the winner of this giveaway!

 I think it's always helpful to learn about the nice people, behind their products, so I wanted to share this with you...read on!
about red gold
We are tomato people…people who grew up where tomatoes grow best - Tomato Country.
Red Gold began as a family business in 1942. Sixty-some years and three generations later, we still concentrate on growing tomatoes and using them to make over a hundred different products. Day in and day out, we pursue our mission, “To produce the freshest, best-tasting tomato products in the world.”
We harvest our well-tended fields at the moment when tomatoes are at their ripest, and carefully treat those tomatoes with the respect they deserve until they're tightly sealed and on their way to you.
You might be surprised how passionate we can be about tomatoes.
Learn more about Red Gold and our people

Now you can understand a little better...so let's get on with the recipe, and the giveaway. All you need to do is to follow my blog...if you haven't already...no facebook, foodbuzz, twitter, Pinterest, Bloglovin, required to follow, since I'm the worst active blogger in all those. Can't even remember when I tweeted about something, but I will for sure tweet about RED GOLD Tomatoes!...and indeed, it's worth its weight in GOLD. Couldn't have come up with a better name for these amazing 100% natural tomatoes; and by now, all of you who know me from comments, know that I am sincere about my feeling of things, and this is one of them!
Cristy, at Red Gold contacted me by e-mail if I would like to participate in this giveaway, and you couldn't get me fast enough to say YES!

Please leave a comment, and mention what you would like to prepare with Red Gold Tomatoes...I will post all the six types that I received, and certainly there are a lot more products...this are just six, of the many!


Red Gold Petite Diced Tomatoes

Red Gold Diced Tomatoes Chili Ready







Red Gold Petite Diced Tomatoes, with Green Chilies

Red Gold Tomato Sauce









My favorites:
Red Gold Crushed Tomatoes

Red Gold Stewed Tomatoes








You've got till Monday, Feb. 27, 2012 @ 11:00PM Eastern Standard Time to enter, and I will announce the winner on Tuesday... just make sure you are following my blog...I will be sure to follow you back as well on your blog.
I will use Random generated number for the winner! Sorry, only U.S. and Canada are eligible for the giveaway!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Paula Deen's Banana Nut Bread...and Awards

If you're feeling sluggish in the mid-afternoon, here's a very nice "pick me up" ...a slice of Banana Nut Bread, and a cold glass of organic low-fat milk. Of course, you can substitute it for a nice steaming cup of tea, or coffee...the choice is yours!
You"re probably wondering why I chose Paula Deen...the "queen of fatty foods" ...
Is it because it's FAT TUESDAY?...would that be appropriate for someone who is still on the Weight Watchers program?...or just recently finding out that she has type 2 diabetes, that she had for three years already, and we just found out!

It's really true, that we don't have to cook like that, with all the butter and fat, she is not encouraging us to cook that way, but it certainly is very tempting to try those recipes. I have found an easier method...just cut down on the fat, and make it a lighter version!
I found a super great thrift find, recently, at Goodwill. Paula Deen's first cookbook, before she became a famous food network star. It was copyrighted in 1997. The price, as you can see it was $1.29 soft cover book, filled with her early famous recipes. She owned a small restaurant at the time, in Savannah Georgia, with her two sons working there. Very cozy, simple, and down-home good Southern foods. I was really impressed with the Banana Bread recipe, and would like to share it with you. As far as for points value...it has to be at least 3 points pr slice...compared to 2 points with the WW Banana Bread, which I will also make soon. I lightened it up a bit, but I must admit, this was an incredible Banana Bread, enjoyed by all!

Linking to: Full Plate Thursday, @Miz Helen's Country Cottage
                Thursday Favorite Things Blog Hop, @Katherines Corner
                Food Photography @Crisp Photoworks

Banana Nut Bread
The Lady and Sons, by Paula Deen

1/2 cup Crisco shortening
(I used 1/3 cup vegetable oil)
1 cup sugar (I used 3/4 cup)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt (I used 1/2 teaspoon)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs beaten
3 ripe bananas mashed
1/3 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cream shortening and sugar. (whisk oil, and sugar, if you're using oil.) Stir together flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda and add to creamed mixture.






Add remaining ingredients; mix well.







Pour into a well greased pan. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes.
( I baked mine for 30 minutes on 350 degrees, and lowered the temperature to 325, for an additional 25 minutes.)












Friday, February 17, 2012

Rajma...and WW Corn Bread


Just recently, I was browsing through some food blogs of friends that I haven't visited for a while, and my eyes
got caught on a simple spicy bean dish...an Indian spicy vegetarian chili that inspired me so much...
knowing that I had all the spices, and it's a Weight Watchers approved dish, as well, plus the fact that I truly love, spicy foods!
When something really inspires me that someone makes, I usually leave a comment saying that "I would love to try this"..."I'm going to make this"..."I'm bookmarking it to print and copy the recipe"...how many of us say these over and over again?...only to just put it aside and forget about it! Nancy, and her husband Veejay are the authors of the Kitchen Gypsies, and I mentioned to my friend Nancy, that I would like to make this dish, and I actually did, in my slow cooker...a huge pot of it! So thanks for the inspiration, Nancy!

 Do visit their blog for the recipe, and browse through for some amazing authentic Indian, and American cuisine, that they have to offer.
Points per serving with rice: 10

Linking to: Cookbook Sundays @ Couscous-Consciosness

When I get inspired about a recipe...especially if I have the ingredients on hand, I could hardly wait to "jump" on it to make it, especially when it doesn't require an electric mixer, or a long time for preparation, and baking time. I can honestly say that this Weight Watchers Corn Bread recipe is the BEST by far, and guilt free light, super moist, and delicious of any corn bread or corn muffins I have made. It's pure, and simple...no butter, no fat, or oil added, just pure buttermilk!
Just look at the beautiful color, texture, and natural thickness of these healthy and delicious red kidney beans, soaked, and then cooked for several hours in the slow cooker! I served them over Thai Jasmin rice...amazing, spicy, and totally comforting and satisfying!


You can see the lines on the slow-cooker crock pot where it started to cook, cooking down and getting thicker.












The next day, I served it with my cornbread, which is a Weight Watchers recipe, that I will share with you.
I topped the Rajma with a generous spoonful of Lebni, which is a thick Middle Eastern Kefir, that can only be purchased in a Middle Eastern market, which we have here, locally, in West Palm Beach.






Recipe for the WW Cornbread...click on!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Strawberry Whipped Sensation...for your Valentine!

I can't help but keep thinking about the famous quotation..."A rose is a rose, is a rose"...some of you might have heard that famous quotation, by Gertrude Stein, part of a poem in 1913. Actually there is a meaning to the quote.
"Things are the way they are!"...yes, that is so true. The sooner we realize and understand how things are, we will understand what they are!
What I like to do is to see a recipe, especially one with a photo, and do my own spin on the final result. I can tell if the recipe will actually work out or not, and in this case, I totally did a different shape, form, but kept the ingredients... just added more strawberries, and crushed Oreo cookies to the crust! Even though I didn't make this cake for a "romantic significant other"...I did have plenty of raves from my wonderful family. How could you possibly resist the fresh strawberry mousse filling over the most favorite cookie crust, topped with America's all-time favorite Cool Whip topping, and surrounded by Dove heart shaped chocolate pieces!


A rose can say I love you and want you to be mine,
A rose can say I thank you for being so very kind,
A rose can say congratulations, whatever the occasion may be,
A rose can say I miss you and wish you were here with me,
A rose can say I'm sorry if I've hurt you in any way,
A rose can say get well soon, May God bless you today,
A rose can say I wish you happiness, and the best for you each day

A rose can say farewell when someone goes away,
A rose can say hello, I'm thinking of you today,
There's just so many wonderful things that a rose can say,
A r
ose can say goodbye when a love one is laid to rest,


No matter what there is to say, a rose can say it best. 


~Margie Drive

Linking to:#chocolatelove blog hop, @ Mis Pensamientos
http://mizhelenscountrycottage.blogspot.com/
                   http://katherinescorner.com/

                   Be my Valentine Challenge @Very Good Recipes

Strawberry Whipped Sensation
adapted from: Family Circle magazine, March 2003

4 cups fresh strawberries, divided
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tub 8 oz. Cool Whip Whipped Topping thawed, divided
8 Oreo Chocolate Sandwich Cookies, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. butter melted

Line 8x4 inch loaf pan with foil. Mash 2 cups of strawberries in large bowl. Stir in condensed milk, juice and 2 cups of the Cool Whip; pour into pan.
Top with combined chopped cookies and butter; press into mixture. Cover.
Freeze at least 6 hours.To serve, invert onto plate. Remove foil. Frost with remaining Cool Whip. Top with remaining strawberries, Makes 12 servings.



My version of making this cake: I used 16 cookies, and 2 Tbsp. of melted butter, put them in the food processor, and pressed the crushed cookies into a heart shaped springform pan. I filled it with the filling, and topped it with Cool Whip.






I carefully folded my crushed up strawberries into the sweetened condensed milk
Now fold in half of the Cool Whip whipped topping.
Now, cover with aluminum foil, and freeze up to 6 hrs.








Gabby wanted to decorate the cake...instead of using sliced strawberries, she used the most amazing Dove chocolate heart shapes, and just one strawberry on the top. Extra box of strawberries came in handy, to add some halved strawberries on the side, to enjoy!




Beautiful slice of heavenly Whipped Sensation!












This is dessert devoured...before dinner:D









Your MOMENT...YOUR DOVE...saved for last...yumm!









HAPPY VALENTINE'S DAY!
...with Love, to all my friends!
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Friday, February 10, 2012

Oven Roasted Tomato Crostini...and with Rigatoni

When you have a beautiful loaf of homemade bread, and red ripe tomatoes, what could be better, than a "fresh bruschetta topped" or an Oven Roasted (fresh) Tomato Crostini? ...knowing that you have the best extra virgin olive oil, and chopped garlic, and have a batch of fresh basil, you're all set! You don't even need to waste electricity to roast them in your big oven. Your handy toaster oven will do the job for you!
This past week has not been a very successful one, as far as cooking, or baking from my Weight Watchers cookbook...simply, because of last weekend which was the NFL Super Bowl weekend! Missed my WW meeting, didn't keep track of my points, only knowing by now, how much points each item has, that I eat. For instance, one crostini with the roasted tomato topping is 5 points, which is not a lot, but having 2 of these, you're up to 10 points, granted it's very, delicious, and a satisfying snack, but I literally had this for lunch, which was OK. The worst part of the weekend, was, the Super Bowl Sunday, not because I ate too much...it's what I ate. BBQ ribs, twice baked potato, pasta with clams, and for dessert, a slice of Tiramisu! That means, the next following days, I gained back 2 lbs. so now, I'm 3 lbs away from my goal of the 10 lbs loss...sad, but true! Although I hit the gym again...just have to get back to my routine, and stay with the program.
"Kill two birds with one stone" Roasted Tomato Crostini, and Roasted Tomato Rigatoni


Oven Roasted Tomato Crostini
my own recipe

4 to 6 medium ripe tomatoes, or
6 to 8 ripe Roma tomatoes
halved, and cut into quarters
salt and pepper to taste
dried herbs, such as basil, oregano, thyme
2 to 4Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
chopped garlic (optional)


(I didn't add the chopped garlic when roasting tomatoes, I added it to the crostini. You can add it when roasting tomatoes)





Line a small baking pan with aluminum foil, (dull side up)
Place your tomato pieces, and sprinkle with the salt, pepper and spices, and drizzle the extra virgin olive oil on them. Bake in a 375 F. degree oven, for about 45 minutes.

(I used a toaster oven, so simple, and less space used, easier clean-up, and saves electricity)


This is how they will look like after 45 minutes. Almost all of the oil soaked up, just the perfect texture, and incredible sweet flavor. Not using the garlic while you roast them gives them the true sweet flavor. Garlic tends to overpower them while roasting. Use garlic afterwards, if you like, according to taste!



All you do afterwards is, set the tomatoes in a dish with a rim, or in a small bowl, add a little more extra virgin olive oil, adjust seasoning. You can add fresh chopped herbs at this time, and a touch of balsamic vinegar if you like.











I also added some to cooked rigatoni pasta, with some of my leftover chickpeas, and shaved Parmigiana cheese!
It was the best topping for a simple, healthy and delicious pasta, I could think of at the moment:DDD
Points value for the pasta: 7 points


For the Crostini:

Chop  a few cloves of garlic, place them in a small ramekin, add about 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil to it, and you have a nice garlic spread. Spread some of that lightly on a nice thin slice of crusty bread, spoon some of the roasted tomatoes on, and on a 350 F aluminum foil lined baking sheet, bake for about 10-12 minutes. Roll about 3 fresh basil leaves, and cut them into thin slices (chiffonade) ...scatter them on top, just before serving. You can also add shaved Parmigiana on the crostini, as well.
Do not add the basil when baking the crostini, or it will darken or burn!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Rye Bread...and Awards

If you can believe it, this is my first rye bread that I have ever made...(I have made white, and whole wheat in a simple loaf pan, but not rye...and not free-form.)...thanks to finding rye flour at Whole Foods Market. They have everything there, that are healthy, organic, and totally good for you. I can spend hours there, when I shop, going down on each and every isle, and have a nice and healthy self-serve lunch there, as well.
The crust of this Rustic Rye Bread is so incredibly crunchy, and the flavor just blows you away! I made a long loaf and a round loaf with the recipe, it was really such a pleasure to get your hands on these loaves, and let the bread machine do the heavy kneading, but I did get help from my little grandson Luca. He volunteered to help, and both of us loved every minute of this fabulous bread making.

The recipe comes from a 1987 Fanny Farmer Cookbook, nothing fancy, no photos, just drawing illustrations.The ever famous James Beard has a great introduction about the book. Fanny Farmer...actually, that was her real name, had a cooking school in Boston, in the early 1900, and her first cookbook was published in 1896, the Boston Cooking-School Cookbook. She died in 1915, but her legacy has been carried on for over a century, and copies have been coming out, each time with new revised editions. This edition is also a revised edition, and the latest edition is a 2010 edition. Every cook in America should know about Fanny Farmer, and her contribution to the American Cuisine! Just a little history, to get you acquainted with!...Now, let's get on to the recipe!

Rye Bread
from the Fannie Farmer Cookbook

1 cup (1/4 L) milk
2 Tablespoon shortening
2 Tablespoon dark-brown sugar
1 Tablespoon salt
2 packages dry yeast
3 cups (420 g.) rye flour
3 cups (420 g.) white flour

Bring 1 cup water to a boil, mix it with the milk, shortening, sugar and salt in a large bowl, and let cool to lukewarm. Measure 1/2 cup warm water in a separate container, stir in yeast, and let it stand for 5 minutes to dissolve. Add the dissolved yeast to the rye flour to the first mixture, and combine thoroughly. . Add enough of the white flour, so that you can handle the dough. Turn out onto a lightly floured board, knead for a minute or two, then let rest, for 10 minutes. Resume kneading for about 10 minutes, adding the remaining flour as necessary.

(I did all the previous steps, by adding everything into the bread machine container, and set the dial on to the "dough setting" to do the kneading.)

Put the dough in a greased bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place, until almost double in bulk.













(Now here's the fun part, my little helper waiting, in the sidelines on his favorite stool... and ready to punch down the dough)


Punch down and shape into two loaves. Place in greased loaf pans, ( I made two free-form loaves) and let rise until double in bulk. Preheat oven to 375 F. degrees
(190 C.)

Bake bread for 45-50 minutes. Remove from pans and cool on rack.




For a free-form shaped bread, fold over each side, as in making the dough for flaky biscuits.









Priceless little "angelic" helping hands folding over both sides of the dough!












Shaping the dough into a round loaf...making sure the ends are tucked in and sealed, so bread will not open up and fall apart when baking.












Such happy memories will result from bread making with little ones. (both of us shaping, and sealing the bottom of the dough)












One rectangle, and one round loaf. Place on parchment lined baking sheet, and let it rise again, until larger (not necessarily doubled)









Now, you can rub a little more flour on top, and slash the tops lightly with a sharp knife, to give it a rustic design, and follow the direction for baking.









...and the finished result! My grandchildren ate at least 2 slices of this amazing bread, while it was still warm. My grandson was so proud of himself for helping, he even had another slice for breakfast, the following morning!

Get your kids help you in the kitchen with baking, whenever they get interested...which might be more often than you think. So much fun, so many fond memories:DDD


For points value, I did the math on my little handy WW points tracker. 3 points for 1 slice of bread.
(I ate 2 slices)

Linking to: Full Plate Thursday, @ Miz Helen's Country Cottage
                Thursday Favorite Things Blog Hop, @ Katherines Corner