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Posts Tagged ‘side dish’

Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

I have a little something for you today that your taste buds might enjoy…

With the warm weather finally showing us a glimpse of spring, barbecuing comes to my mind. I can’t wait to get my hands on that grill! Cold summer salads are also a favorite for the season, too. Especially healthy ones. That’s where today’s recipe for black bean, corn, and wheat berry salad comes into play.

If you recall, I introduced you to the wheat berry some time last year, giving you a recipe for my perfect protein salad. This is another opportunity for you to experiment with the healthy, full-of-fiber wheat berry.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup dried black beans (or 1 cup canned will do the trick)
  • 1 cup wheat berries
  • 2 cups cooked corn niblets
  • 2 sweet roasted red peppers, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, diced
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro OR 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh mint
  • 2 tbsp chopped fresh chives
  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • salt, to taste
  • 3 tbsp olive oil

Step one: If you’re using dry black beans, you will need to soak them in cold water for a few hours at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator. Rinse and drain them well. Then cook until tender (about 1 1/2 hours).

Step two: Place wheat berries in a large saucepan and cover with cold water by about 4 inches. Bring to a boil and simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours until tender. Drain well. They should be chewy, but still tender — never soft.

Step three: Combine with beans. Add corn, peppers, jalapeno, cilantro, basil, mint and chives to salad ( or whichever herbs you’ve chosen to use).

Step four: Make the dressing. Whisk together vinegar, pepper, garlic, salt and oil. Toss dressing with salad. If you need to, you can adjust the seasonings to fit your liking.

For my salad, I used cilantro and scallions. The original recipe for this salad suggests the addition of arugula or watercress.  You can add whatever makes you happy! Enjoy!

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Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

It’s the dead of winter. Eating comfort foods is right on this time of year. But comfort food doesn’t have to be bad for you if you know how to make healthy alternatives. Enter the blueberry almond oat muffin.

This little treat makes a delicious snack, on-the-go food, breakfast, dessert, or lunch side. It also pairs very nicely with a hearty winter bean soup.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup quick rolled oats
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup blueberries (see my note about blueberries below)*
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 cup milk (or soymilk)
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine, melted
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds, coarsely chopped

Photo by Kate Langenburg

Step 1: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray or line with paper liners.

Step 2: Combine flour, oats, brown sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl; mix well. Stir in blueberries and lemon zest. Add milk, butter and egg; mix until dry ingredients are moistened.

Step 3: Scoop batter into muffin cups. Sprinkle almonds evenly over batter, pressing down gently (or you can dump the almonds right into the batter while you’re mixing all the ingredients together). Bake 18-20 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and cool 5 minutes.

*A quick note about blueberries: it’s hard to find great tasting berries this time of year. Most berries have to be shipped in from far away countries, like Chile or Venezuela, so they are often not fresh and loaded with preservatives to keep them from spoiling on the journey. As a result, a tangier taste ensues. Keep this in mind when you cook with berries during the winter.

Thanks to the Pampered Chef cookbook for this one.

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Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

I know I just did a post about food, but I just made the most interesting soup I think I have ever tasted. So, to follow up my post about comfort foods, here lies another post about food. (I guess this would fall in the realm of comfort food.)

Today, you will enjoy african style peanut butter soup.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup creamy style peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 (or 2) celery stalk (s), sliced
  • 1 sweet red pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 can (14.4 oz.) diced tomatoes (with their juice!!)
  • 2 cans (14.5 oz. each) chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 cup cooked brown or white rice
  • 1 cup finely chopped cooked chicken

Step 1: Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, pepper, and celery. Saute until vegetables are very tender (about 10 minutes).

Step 2: Stir in the garlic and chili powder. Saute for an extra minute longer.

Step 3: Add tomatoes with their liquid, chicken or vegetable broth, and peanut butter to the saucepan. Bring to a gentle simmer, stirring often. (It might take a minute for the peanut butter to spread out.)

Step 4: Stir in the rice and the cooked chicken. Cook five minutes longer. You’re done!

This has a very unique flavor to it, but you have to like peanut butter to really enjoy it (of course.) But it’s not an overpowering peanut butter flavor. I had my doubts when I put a whole cup of the stuff into my soup, but it turned out great. After it simmers for a bit, the flavors all come together to create something wonderful.

The consistency is very creamy, and all the vegetables, chicken, and rice are deliciously coated with a nice layer of the peanut butter-broth mix.

Your tastebuds will really like this one. 🙂

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Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

For my next recipe, I want to encourage you to try something a little different — a little healthier, perhaps. With help from Barbara, the master of healthy cooking, I have whipped up a nice, crunchy concoction that all veggie lovers will love.

Goodness, look at those wheat berries, veggies, and tofu! Photo by Kate Langenburg.

Goodness, look at those wheat berries, veggies, and tofu! Photo by Kate Langenburg.

First, let me introduce you to the wheat berry. Say it with me…wheat. berry. Good. That’s where that crunch is going to come from. Wheat berries are the truest whole grains you can find out there. Because their kernels are still together, none of the nutrients have been removed by the time you dig in. Here’s a whole wheat berry fact page.

 

The cool thing about this recipe is that you can follow it very loosely. There are a few staples that you must have, but other than that, the options are limitless.

MUST HAVE Ingredients:

  • 1 cup wheat berries
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup cider vinegar (to taste)
  • 1/2 cup scallions, minced

OPTIONAL Ingredients:

  • 1 teaspoon salt*
  • fresh black pepper, to taste*
  • 1/4 cup minced dill (or 2 teaspoons dried)*
  • 1/4 to 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 to 2 cloves of garlic, minced*
  • 1/2 cup finely minced parsley*
  • 1 cup cottage cheese or mashed tofu*
  • 1 medium carrot, minced*
  • 1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded, and minced*
  • a little bit of minced bell pepper*
  • 1 1/2 cups broccoli flowerets*
  • 1 can garbanzo beans or black beans*
  • celery
  • fresh alfalfa sprouts
  • sliced radish
  • minced red onion*

See? There are so many choices. Pretty much, we’re just talking wheat berries and a ton of minced veggies here. And if you want that extra kick of protein, definitely add the tofu. (That is exactly what I did with mine. The asterisks [*] are the ingredients in the picture above.) Anyway, here’s what you do…

Step 1: Heat wheat berries in 2 1/2 cups water. Bring to a boil and stir once or twice. Cover and simmer 50 to 60 minutes or until the wheat berries are tender, but still firm. Drain.

Step 2: Toss wheat berries and remaining ingredients. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving.

Now that’s a healthy dose of vegetables and protein!

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Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

Yummy little veggies. Photo by Kate Langenburg.

Yummy little veggies. Photo by Kate Langenburg.

As of late, I have been getting into making a lot of cold mediterranean salads. I must admit, I like the feta cheese! But every time I open a new container of feta cheese, there lurks another wonderful recipe on the back of the lid.

Last week, I decided to make a special kind of green bean salad from the back of one of my feta cheese lids, so I went down to the local farmer’s market and picked up a few pounds of the locally grown veggie.

After reading a little bit about how I was going to make this salad, I got to work. I recommed using the basil and tomato flavored feta cheese for this one. Here’s my recipe for green beans and feta cheese with dill:

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds fresh green beans
  • 1/2 cup italian dressing
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill

Step 1: Cook beans in water seven minutes or until tender and crisp. Drain. Rinse with cold water

Step 2: Toss beans with dressing, cheese, onions, and dill in a large bowl.

Step 3: Refrigerate for several hours until chilled. (You can serve this immediately, but I don’t think it tastes as good as it does when you let it sit in the fridge for a while.)

After making this great concoction, I fed it to my room mate, family members, and I ate a whole bunch, too. This recipe is easy, and a must have for anyone who likes dolled up green beans.

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Mine is the anti-tomato version. It's still delicious! Photo by Kate Langenburg.

Mine is the anti-tomato version. It's still delicious! Photo by Kate Langenburg.

Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

As some of you may know, family gatherings are a great opportunity to bring different kinds of foods for everyone to enjoy. Well, as luck would have it, I recently had one of those kinds of family gatherings, at which I tasted the best pasta salad I’ve ever had.

I would like to introduce you to Mediterranean Pasta Salad, courtesy of Norma. In a span of about two hours, the huge bowl she had made completely disappeared, and the reserve stock in the fridge was eaten later that night!

The greatest thing about this dish is its versatility. As Norma herself said it, she never follows a recipe and she always puts her spin on it. That, my food loving friends, is highly recommended with this pasta salad. You can throw in new veggies, take out what you don’t want, or even include some other form of dressing other than the oil and vinegar suggested.

Ingredients:

  • 1 (8 ounce) package of spiral or curly noodles, cooked and drained
  • 3 ounces feta cheese, diced into 1/2 or 3/4 inch pieces
  • 3 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 medium sized cucumber, peeled, seeded, halved and thickly sliced
  • 1/2 cup pitted ripe olives, halved
  • 1/3 cup walnut pieces
  • 2 tbsp finely sliced red onions, optional
  • 2 tsp minced fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tbsp vinegar
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Step 1: Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Toss gently until well mixed.

Step 2: Refrigerate several hours before serving. That’s it!

If I were you, I’d double the recipe. It makes a smaller amount, so if you like to keep eating leftover pasta salad all week like me, doubling is the way to go. This stuff goes great with a sandwich and transports easily for lunches on the go!

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Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

Does this Southwest Black Bean Salad look great? Photo by Kate Langenburg.

Does this Southwest Black Bean Salad look great? Photo by Kate Langenburg.

Scanning my cookbooks for something tasty I could make in abundance and take for lunch, I came across a recipe for this Southwest Black Bean Salad. It comes from the Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook and boy, is it zesty and delicious.

It calls for one jalapeno pepper. I used one that I grew in my container garden. (Apartments leave little space for real gardens.) It was definitely zippy, but if you are a real fan of spicy things, I would recommend using two jalapenos. That way, you’ll get a little more bang in your salad.

Ingredients:

  • One 16 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup diced roasted red pepper
  • 1/2 cup cooked corn kernels
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded, deveined, and finely chopped
  • 4 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Step 1: In a large mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients, then toss. Let stand, covered, until the flavors are blended, at least 1 hour.

Step 2: There is no step 2. It’s that easy!

This recipe would go great at a bbq or similar function. You’ll have all the guests on your invite list asking you for more when it disappears! In that case, of course, you might want to double the ingredients.

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