Pineapple Salsa

Remember that pineapple salsa I accidentally stole from my roommate?  It was good, but I thought I could do better.  I read some recipes, then made up my own.  Pretty darn good served on Salsa Burgers.  Use as much and whatever kind of hot pepper you like.  I used a few of my mother’s home-canned pickled hot peppers (we don’t exactly know the variety, but they are hot!)  When I made Mango Salsa a while back, both habaneros and scotch bonnets were suggested.  I’ve tried neither, but you should, and tell me how it is!  And you’ll just have to trust me on the mint.  It really makes it.

Pineapple Salsa

1 can pineapple tidbits or rings, well-drained, juice reserved

1 onion, sliced 1/4″ thick

1/2 a green pepper, sliced 1/4″ thick

1-2 tomatoes, diced

1/2 c frozen corn, thawed

juice of one lime (2-3 Tbls)

1 Tbls apple cider vinegar

1 Tbls fresh mint, finely minced

diced hot pepper, to taste

Slap Ya Mama, to taste

1.  Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high.  Sear the onion slices on each side for a few minutes until they are nice and brown, but not blackened.  Do the same with the bell pepper, then the pineapple.  If you use tidbits like I did, you will save yourself some chopping, but you’ll have to stir them around a bit more in this step.

2.  When they are cool enough to handle, dice the onion and pepper and pineapple rings.

3.  Mix all ingredients in a big bowl.  Add reserved pineapple juice to taste.  Let it rest over night; taste again and adjust seasonings as desired.

Serve with Salsa Burgers, Black Bean Burgers, or scoop it up with chips!  This delicious dish was photographed, but the person who did so hasn’t uploaded yet.  I’ll update ASAP, but don’t let that stop you from making this!  Happy cooking!

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Salsa Burgers

This upcoming weekend is all about the barbecue for me, so I wanted to make something to toss on the grill with the vegetable kabobs. Nothing worse than having nothing to eat but chips all day (especially when there are cocktails in the mix)! I made these pinto burgers this morning, since the temps are going to reach the mid 90’s today and tomorrow. Cook before the sun gets too hot! Sorry for the lack of photos, I’ll try to add some from the luau I’m taking them to on Saturday. Here’s what I came up with, varying the original recipe from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian:

 Salsa Burgers
4 c cooked pinto beans (just under a pound if you cook them from dry) or 2 cans, well-drained

2 onions, quartered if you have a food processor, finely minced if you don’t

1 c rolled oats

2 T each of chilli powder, cumin, and dried oregano

2 eggs or substitute1c mashed potatoes, or 1c cooked oatmeal, or 1/2c Vegannaise, or 1c tofu.  I think tomato paste would work too, and give some more depth to the flavor.  Someone try it and report back!

1/3- 2/3 c salsa of your choice (I used Trader Joe’s Salsa Autentica because I happened to have it. Curious about how chunkier salsa would taste and affect the texture.)

big handful of fresh cilantro

salt and pepper to taste

1. If at all humanly possible, puree the onions and cilantro. I did this in two batches in the 2 cup food chopper attachment for my blender. If not, mince them as finely as possible.

2. Either mash everything together with a potato masher like I did (time-consuming but kinda fun), or put it in the food processor (fast and fun) and pulse until chunky but not pureed, adding a little more salsa if it’s too dry (unlikely for this recipe) to produce a moist but not wet mixture. Taste and adjust the seasonings.

3.  Let it rest for a few minutes before you shape into patties. If your kitchen has reached a temperature of 85 or more degrees (like mine did), you may want to put it in the fridge for 10 minutes. With wet hands, shape into whatever size patties you want (I made them about 1/3c each and got over a dozen patties). Let them rest again if you can be that patient. This is a good opportunity to wash some dishes.

4. Brown in a non-stick skillet, or lightly oiled cast iron skillet over medium heat, about 5 minutes for each side. I found it helpful to lightly squish them with a spatula after flipping them over. Keeps them from being too thick and not cooking through.

Eat up!  I found that these were great with a little mayo and some pineapple salsa that I accidentally stole from my roommate.  I really thought it was mine, I swear!  But now I know what else to take to that luau 😉

Just Desserts

I have a dear, wonderful friend who is allergic to just about everything.  So when I find a recipe that is nut-, gluten-, dairy-, and yeast- free, I get excited.  When it’s dessert, I get really excited!  Recently I came across a wonderful blog about healthy desserts:  chocolatecoveredkatie.com.  While drooling over the chocolatey goodness, I found these Blondies.  Secret ingredient: beans.  What?!?  Gross!!!  Yet, so crazy they just might work.  I knew immediately that I needed to make them for my friend.  They turned out so good that I doubled the recipe and baked up a batch the next day for my boyfriend’s birthday party, where they were an instant hit!  You’ll just have to trust me when I tell you that beans can make some fabulous cookies.  Or, you could break out the food processor and make them yourself.  (Use a food processor.  It will save you both time and a lot of swearing.)

While I was doing all that baking, I needed to make a birthday cake, of course!  The BF had requested something chocolate, but he is a peanut butter fiend like me, so I decided on chocolate cake with peanut butter icing.  My first attempt at the cake involved vegan-izing my mom’s devil’s food recipe.  I replaced the eggs with Ener-G egg replacer and ended up with a small, flat-ish cake that left its bottom on the pan.  It tasted good, so I decided it wasn’t a total loss.  But after I looked at its skinny layers for a few hours, I knew I needed another layer.  I whipped up the easy chocolate cupcake recipe from one of my favorite cookbooks, Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World by Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero.  You should buy this book, so I’m not giving you the recipe (copyright infringement?).  Just know that when you buy it, you can use the Basic Chocolate Cupcake recipe to make a single 8″ round cake layer.  Double it for two layers or a 9″x13″.

As for the sticking to the pan problem: My genius mother had the solution.  First, spray the pan with oil.  Then, trace the pan on parchment paper, cut to fit the pan, and stick it down.  It might not be necessary to grease the bottom if you do this, but the oil helps the circle to stick, since parchment has tendency to curl up.  I successfully dumped Layer #3 out of the pan, and after letting it steam off for a few minutes, I carefully removed the paper.  Perfect.  Thanks Mom!

Although I’m not willing to divulge the cake recipe for fear of being sued, I will give you the icing recipe.  My mom makes a non-vegan version of this that is also divine.  This makes enough for a layer cake, a 9″x13″ cake, or two dozen cupcakes.

Peanut Buttercream

1/2 c margarine

2 T shortening

2/3 c creamy peanut butter

3 tsp vanilla

2 1/2 c powdered sugar

2-4 T plant milk

1.  With an electric mixer, cream together the marg and shortening until smooth.  Add PB and vanilla, beat until very smooth, 2-3 mins.

2.  Beat in sugar; mixture will be very stiff.  Dribble in milk a little at a time until frosting is pale tan and very fluffy.  Add more sugar or milk in small increments to adjust the thickness.  (I found that I need a little more milk than called for.)

3. Frost your completely cooled cake and revel in the peanut buttery deliciousness!

Hooray for blurry cell phone pics and sprinkles!

Chili for the Children

Earlier this week I had a moment where I felt like a champion nanny:  I got both of the girls I watch to nap at the exact same time.  So what to do with this extra time?  Cook them a delicious healthy dinner, of course!  The cans in the pantry and the vegetables in the fridge combined with the rainy, cold weather told me it was time to make chili.

Ingredients:

Hooray for cellphone pics!

1 can of kidney, black, or pinto beans

1/2 c of lentils (I used black beluga lentils in this batch, but only because they were there.  Any lentils will work)

1 can diced tomatoes (with green chilis or jalapenos if you’re not feeding this to a picky 5 year old)

1 small can tomato paste, disolved in warm water (1-2 cans of water)

1 medium onion

2 stalks celery

2 carrots or a big handful of baby carrots

1 bell pepper

3 cloves garlic

Seasonings:

oregano, cilantro, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper

1.  Start by cooking the lentils for about 20 minutes in about 2 cups of water.  While they’re cooking, drain your canned beans and chop veggies.  I recommend chopping the things the kids don’t like into teeny tiny peices.  For me that meant very finely diced onion and celery, and crushing the garlic in a press.  The carrots and pepper I cut into bigger chunks, since the girls love those.

Tiny onions, giant carrots

2.  Once the lentils are tender, put everything else in the pot.  Simmer for 30mins to an hour, until the vegetable are tender and the flavors are blended.

3.  Adjust seasonings and serve to children wearing bibs, because tomato sauce stains.

 4.  Take a picture of it before the children wake up and demolish it!

Curry Curry Curry!

Stuck for an easy lunch that didn’t require much planning today, I looked around my kitchen and decided to throw together a simple curry. I had picked up a very cheap eggplant (79 cents!) at the produce market that needed to be used asap, and had cans of chickpeas and coconut milk in the pantry. Didn’t feel like making rice (though it would be yummy) so I added potatoes to the curry (5lb bag for $1.99 – so cheap!).

So here’s my rather imprecise but delicious recipe.

Potato and Eggplant Curry

1 medium eggplant, salted, rinsed and diced *see note below

3 or 4 medium sized potatoes (I used russets, but anything would work)

2 carrots, diced

1 onion, chopped

Handful of cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 can coconut milk

1 T curry powder

2 t cumin

1. Poke some holes in the potatoes and microwave them for 5-10 mins. If you do this first, they’ll be cool enough to chop up by the time you’re finished prepping everything else.

2. Put the curry and cumin in a non-stick skillet over med-high heat and toast for a minute or so. Add the onion and a few tablespoons of water. Saute until soft.

3. Add the eggplant and coconut milk. Put a lid on it and cook until the eggplant is soft, 10-15mins, stirring occasionally.

4. Chop the now-cool potatoes and add them to the pan along with the carrots, tomatoes, and chickpeas. Heat through and adjust seasonings (salt and pepper if you want) to taste.

 

*Note about the eggplant:  Salting the eggplant draws out the bitter juices and makes it cook down into silky deliciousness.  It takes a little extra planning, but is 100% worth the time.  Start by cutting it crosswise into half-inch slices.  Place the slices in a colander in the sink and sprinkle liberally with salt.  Let them sit for about 20 minutes while you chop other veggies or check Facebook or something.  You’ll see the liquid coming out.  Then rinse and drain and chop for this recipe.