Saturday, November 15, 2014

Spicy Black Bean Soup

Dear Jess,

Poor Jason informed me that he is hungry. Almost always. This is not surprising, as the weather has officially become cold, and he works outside. The amount of calories he burns everyday has jumped substantially!

I was lucky enough to win a door prize at my friend and Naturopath's open house for the new location of her clinic Healthy Foundations. To my delight, it was the door prize I most coveted: The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook. As it says on the cover, it is "A complete nutritional and cooking guide for every stage of life, including over 200 gluten-free, dairy-free, and egg-free recipes." It is packed full of helpful information for people intolerant of many foods, and also what you should be looking for when buying organic. I have found it extremely helpful.

On page 155, there is a recipe for Spicy Black Bean Soup. This is one of many recipes I hope to make in the upcoming winter months. I served it over brown rice, with a salad topped with boiled egg, and homemade poppyseed dressing. (I will include this recipe too!)


Spicy Black Bean Soup
from The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook, Page 155

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 medium red bell pepper, diced (I subbed celery, because I can't have peppers yet)
1 large carrot, diced
1 small jalapeno chili pepper, seeded and chopped
1 tsp cumin powder
1 1/2 teaspoons oregano
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 tsp chipotle pepper (I omitted this, as I didn't have any)
1 tsp paprika
pinch cayenne
2-3 cups water (I used chicken broth)
6 cups cooked black beans, or 3 cans
2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes, or one 14 oz can
1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels (I can't eat corn yet either, so I left it out)
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
2 tsp sea salt or Herbamare, or to taste
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

1. Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat; add chopped onion and sea salt. Saute until slightly golden, then add red pepper, carrot, jalapeno pepper; saute-stir a few minutes more. Add spices and stir to coat.

2. Add water, black beans, tomatoes, and corn, add more water/broth if necessary. Turn heat to medium-low and simmer until vegetables are fork tender, about 20-25 minutes.

3. Remove pot from heat and add cilantro. Add Herbamare or sea salt to taste. Add apple cider vinegar. Taste and adjust salt and seasonings if necessary. (I also too my immersion blender to it a bit, to thicken and smooth it out a bit)

Poppy Seed Dressing
adapted from a recipe from a friend

1/3 cup honey (or maple syrup)
1/2 cup cider vinegar
1 tsp salt
1 tsp dried mustard
1 tsp grated onion
1 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp poppy seeds

Blend honey, vinegar, salt, mustard and onion together. With the blender on, slowly add olive oil to ensure it infuses effectively. Stir in poppy seeds, and refrigerate!

Like a said earlier, I served the soup over brown rice with a salad. It was a hit with Jason, and he said it filled him up! Woot woot! Win for the wife!

I love you and miss you dreadfully. I hope we can see each other soon.


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala

Dear Jess,

I feel like I have been stumbling across many delicious recipes lately. Choosing one to share (on top of finding time to do so...) is becoming challenging.

I love finding truly delicious Slow Cooker meals. It's always such a surprise. I generally find, when doing a meal in the Slow Cooker, that I sacrifice (to varying degrees) flavour... or maybe the distinction in flavours within the meal... does this make sense to anyone else? All this is to say, it is a rare occasion when I find a Slow Cooker recipe that reaches the standards of a meal made more conventionally.

This. One. 

I have made it twice this week. Once because I was desperate (with a sick, teething baby), and twice because we found it such a delight, I made it for friends when they came over for dinner.

It looks spicy, but isn't at all. It is actually a little sweet, due to the coconut milk.

Chicken Tikka Masala

1 to 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (or breasts)
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch piece whole ginger, peeled and grated
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1-2 Tbsp garam masala
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp kosher salt
1 (28oz) can diced tomatoes
1 can full fat coconut milk

Cut chicken thighs into bite-sized pieces and transfer them to your slow cooker. Stir in the onion, garlic, ginger, tomato paste, 1 Tbsp garam masala, paprika, and kosher salt until the chicken is evenly covered with spices.*

*If you have time: marinate the chicken in 1/2 cup yogurt of up to 6 hours. Shake to remove excess yogurt before transferring to the slow cooker... I didn't do this

*If you have time: Saute the onions and garlic in a little olive oil over medium-high heat in a skillet until softened, then stir in the ginger, tomato paste, and spices until fragrant. Transfer to the slow cooker with the chicken and diced tomatoes. This will give oyur tikka masala more depth of flavour.... I DID THIS

Cover the slow cooker and cook for 4 hours on hight, or 8 hours on low. Fifteen minutes before the end of cooking, stir in the coconut milk. If you prefer a thicker sauce, leave the slow cooker uncovered for the last 15 minutes. (I have done it both ways, and didn't see a big difference in thickness.) Taste and add more garam masala or salt to taste.

Serve over rice!

I may even make a batch of this for the freezer! Mmmmm.
I hope you're doing well, and the cooling of the air is a comfort to you.