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Smoky Black Bean Soup with Avocado Cream

Smoky black bean soup

Spring may be upon us, but for me that means long hours at work, and not a whole lot of time to cook. In fact, I’m lucky if I have a moment to myself between getting home and my head hitting the pillow, so while everyone else is starting to grill up a storm, I’m spending my weekends making meals that yield a ton of leftovers that reheat well. Such is the life of someone working in financial services during tax season!

Smoky black bean soup

This soup fits the bill of both easy to make in massive batches, and perfect for leftovers. All the ingredients are staples in my pantry, so while it might take some planning (especially with dried beans), once I have the pot on the stove, I know I’ll have lots to feed myself and the kids on crunch nights when I don’t have a lot of time after a long day in the office.

Smoky black bean soup

Smoky Black Bean Soup

1 lb dried black beans (or 3 15oz cans)
Olive oil
1 large onion, diced
4 carrots, diced
12 oz flavourful sausage {I used moose salami}
1 small head of garlic, minced
3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, minced
1 Tbsp cumin
1 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 cup beer or white wine
1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
6 cups chicken stock
salt & pepper

Soak black beans overnight. Drain, cover with cold water, and bring to a boil. Simmer for 45-60 minutes, until just tender. {Or skip this step completely and use 3 15oz cans of black beans!}

Heat a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add a splash of olive oil and cook onion and carrots until onions are translucent and carrots are tender about 8-10 minutes. Add sausage and cook a few more minutes, until sausage is browned. Add garlic and chipotle peppers, stir and cook for another 30 seconds. Add spices, stir to coat. Deglaze your pot with a generous splash of beer or white wine.

Pour in the rest of the beer, crushed tomatoes, and chicken stock, and add beans. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and let cook over low heat for 30 minutes.

Partially blend with an immersion blender to thicken the soup. Season with salt & pepper to taste, and serve with a dollop of avocado cream {recipe below}.

Avocado Cream

1 avocado
2 Tbsp sour cream
2 Tbsp greek yogurt
2 Tbsp chopped cilantro
1 Tbsp lime juice

Mash the avocado, and whisk in remaining ingredients. Make immediately before serving, as it will discolour a little over time {but that doesn’t affect the taste!}

For other ideas on how to make your life more delicious, visit the Life Made Delicious page for inspiration!

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Disclosure: I am part of the Life Made Delicious blogger program and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation. The opinions in this blog are my own.

Strawberry Banana Yogurt Smoothie

Strawberry banana yogurt smoothie

My inspiration for this month was breakfast. I am not normally a breakfast person. Mornings are not my thing. I’m the kind of person that groggily rolls out of bed and stumbles to the bathroom, cursing the entire time. I’m barely human for several hours after waking, no matter how well I slept. So breakfast inspiration? Haha. Coffee. That’s my breakfast. The kids are lucky if they get cereal!

Strawberry banana yogurt smoothie

I’ve been making smoothies a lot lately, though. Green smoothies. protein smoothies, fruit smoothies. This smoothie strongly reminds me of the ever-popular Yop in my childhood. I saw it again in the grocery store recently, and I was aghast at all the sugar and garbage in it. And the price? I wanted to faint. I knew the kids would love it, but really, how hard could it be to make it myself at home? The answer: not hard at all. A blender and some fruit is all I needed. If this isn’t sweet enough you could add a little honey, but my kids love it just the way it is. And both my brain and my wallet feel good about giving it to them.

Strawberry banana yogurt smoothie

Strawberry Banana Smoothie

1 cup strawberries, fresh or frozen
1/2 banana
1 cup milk
1 cup greek yogurt

Combine fruit, milk and yogurt in a blender. Blend until smooth and serve. Leftovers will keep in the fridge for a couple days.

For other ideas on how to make your life more delicious, visit the Life Made Delicious page for inspiration!

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Disclosure: I am part of the Life Made Delicious blogger program and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation. The opinions in this blog are my own.

Crab & Walnut Stuffed Mussels

Crab & Walnut Stuffed Mussels

When I was first approached by Joana at Yummy Food, I felt flattered, excited, and then totally freaked out. I love food, I love cooking, I love making things up as I go in the kitchen. But Mediterranean is totally outside my comfort zone of typical North American comfort food, and creating a totally original, unpublished recipe with flavour profiles I am not really familiar with? EEK! But as you can see, I accepted the challenge nonetheless!

Crab & Walnut Stuffed Mussels

I spent a great deal of time thinking and planning this recipe. To me, “Mediterranean” is all about freshness, and there is nothing that embodies fresh more than seafood. I used panko and walnuts to offset the creaminess of the mussels, crab and parmesan, and lemon to add that lovely acid required with seafood. Baked until crispy, these are perfect served right in the half-shell, and the perfect single-bite appy. This is the type of dish I could see served on a cobblestone patio, outside some lovely little restaurant overlooking the ocean.

Crab & Walnut Stuffed Mussels

This recipe is part of a contest sponsored by Canarias. I’m so glad I opted to take part, it was so much fun to push myself outside of my comfort zone and cook something I normally wouldn’t.

Crab & Walnut Stuffed Mussels

Crab & Walnut Stuffed Mussels

2 lbs live mussels
1/2 cup water
6 Tbsp butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup crabmeat
1/2 cup panko
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
1/3 cup fresh grated parmesan
1/4 cup chopped parsley
Zest of one lemon
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt & pepper

Wash ad scrub mussels – discard any that are open and don’t close with a tap on a firm surface. In a pot with a tight-fitting lid, place closed mussels and water and bring to a boil. Steam for a few minutes, until they open up. Discard any that didn’t open and let cool to room temperature.

Carefully break off the top half of the shell, and scoop out the meat to detach it from the bottom, but leave it in the half-shell for presentation and serving purposes. Set aside.

In a small pot, melt butter over medium heat. When melted and warm, add garlic and stir to let the garlic cook for a minute or so to infuse the butter. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a bowl, combine crabmeat, panko, walnuts, parmesan, parsley, lemon zest, lemon juice, butter and garlic. Mix well.

Place a generous scoop of the stuffing mixture on top of each half-shell mussel, and lay out on a baking sheet. Bake at 425 until crispy and golden, 5-8 minutes should suffice. Let cool a bit and serve warm!

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