Sunday, August 30, 2009

curried chicken salad

Originally I took Gail's recipe.

Dice the following:
-2 stalks of green onions
-2 stalks of celery
-1 Red Anjou Pear or apple
-1/4th of an onion
-half of a chicken breast, cooked (approximately)

Mix in Mayonnaise until the consistency is as you like. I think I used about 3 flat tablespoons.

Add in:
-2 handfuls of chopped nuts (candied walnuts, pecans, almond slivers, etc.)
-Madras Curry Powder to your liking (I put in maybe 1 tsp - less than I expected to - definitely didn't want a strong curry flavor, just a nice little kick)
-Salt and Black Pepper to taste
-lemon juice

Mix them all thoroughly well, and serve on top of toast, inside sandwiches, on top of crackers or a bed of lettuce. Also good after it sits a few hours, to let tastes blend.

(Today I'll be making it without most of the ingredients - no celery, no fruit, no onion ... but lots of chicken to eat up!)

black beans

I'm a bit loathe to post my black bean "recipe" here because after 23 years of making them fairly regularly, I don't pay attention to what I do.

But, black beans are a POWERHOUSE - they're super good for us, a cheap form of protein (even when organic), and just super darned yummy.

soak dry beans overnight in a crockpot with clean water (after washing them). Cover at least a couple inches above the beans level. Know that they will approximately double or triple in size, so don't overflow the crockpot or make too many (though, I frequently freeze leftovers and that works well too).

onions (dried are fine)
garlic, chopped up, or powder
epazote if you can find it
peppers: chili, bell, etc.
tomatoes (fresh or canned, or sauce/paste)
black pepper
Anything else your heart desires! (I think most important are the onions, cumin, and oregano.)

For two cups of dried beans I put in (everything approximate) 2-3 T dried onions (I don't buy them, but inherited from a friend moving away), four cloves garlic, 1 T cumin, 1+ tsp oregano, three pinches epazote, dash of cayenne, few grinds of fresh black pepper, five chopped of peppers that were sweet instead of hot); the point is that whatever you do will be yummy! I also freeze the last bits of salsa that's left when the beans run out, and I thaw & toss that into cook with the new pot of beans.

Note that I didn't include salt. When they're all ready, taste to see if salt is necessary (I find it never is) and add then. If you add during cooking, I'm told it makes the beans tougher.

Cook in the crockpot on high about 4 hours - but it really varies a lot depending on crockpot but also how old the beans are. Sometimes it can take more like 7 hours, sometimes less. I'm not picky about how firm they still are - it's fine if they start to disintegrate to me, but if it really matters to you you'll want to check. Before cooking check the water level - make sure the beans still have at least an inch of water. I think it's better to have too much than too little water because I can drain them if they're runny, but burning them is a bummer.

The crockpot is amazing for bean cooking because you never have to check or stir - making it perfect for days away at work or even overnight (soak all day, cook all night - it's a wonderful aroma and breakfast to wake up to!)

To serve: I just ate on rice, with salsa, yogurt, and cilantro. Super yum! Also very good on tortillas.


Megan is now gluten-free.

I've become much more sensitive to this issue through reading two of my favorite blogs (blog roll on the left): Crockpot 365 and Gluten-Free Girl. It's tough to be on the look-out for a very common ingredient.

But it's definitely do-able and will make her feel much better! Yay!

So, as we think about it we can label recipes gluten-free (when we think they are), give gluten-free variations when possible, and post even more recipes that are gluten-free (I make a lot that's gluten-free, I realize).

Saturday, August 29, 2009


fresh mint
(Cumin, salt, pepper, cayenne, or other herbs/spices as desired)


Yes, it's that simple! I had some lovely Persian cucumbers I picked up last week. Those, or English style cucumber, or baby pickling cukes are all good for this. Or the regular kind (especially if home grown!), but I would peel that unless it's really young and the peel is soft.

Chop up the cucumbers (if not Persian, you might want to scrape out the seeds & soft stuff around the seeds which can be bitter) - with Persians I just slice; with regular cukes I do half moons.

Mix with a good amount of yogurt.

Chop up some fresh mint (not too much - just a light taste; I really like the mint that Ahmed brought from Jordan; much American mint is too strong), stir and enjoy!

I don't put in any other spices because I like the simplicity of the tastes with just cucumber, yogurt, and mint.

It's great alone as a light meal/snack, or as a side to a spicy meal (especially Indian food).