Spicy Summer Supper

I really am all about the Tex-Mex this week, and this dinner was no different. One of my favorite combinations is quinoa with corn and zucchini. Often, I make it with goat cheese and basil and it is a light dish perfect for a hot summer evening. This time, I wanted to try something a little different and found a Southwest version using the same main ingredients. It turned out delicious and brought out a completely different flavor profile than my usual.

Southwest Zucchini and Corn Quinoa
Adapted from Closet Cooking 

Serves 4

1/2 batch taco seasoning (see below)
1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1 medium zucchini, diced
1 jalapeño, seeded and diced
3 ears of corn
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
3/4 cup queso blanco, crumbled

First, mix the taco seasoning, water, and quinoa in a medium sauce pan and bring to a rapid boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes until the water is absorbed, the quinoa is tender, and the little white spirals show. Fluff with a fork and keep covered until ready to serve.

Meanwhile, cut the corn kernels off the cob and saute with the zucchini and jalapeño in 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium high heat. Saute until everything has softened a bit (about 7 minutes).
This corn is so sweet and creamy! Hard to beat.
To serve, put 1/4 cup of quinoa in a bowl, top with 1/4 of the veggies, a handful of cheese and 1/4 of the cilantro. So delicious and just spicy enough!


Taco Seasoning

Also adapted from Closet Cooking

Mix together the following in a small bowl.

1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons cumin
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
Note: The original quinoa recipe calls for (and I used) a full batch of taco seasoning to be cooked with the quinoa. I think 1/2 to 3/4 of a batch would be better…it got a little gritty with all these spices. Plus, I like the taste of quinoa and couldn’t taste it at all with the full batch used. To add some extra heat, you could always use a hotter pepper in the saute, another jalapeño, or even some cayenne. Yum!

This Week’s Selection Furthers My Tex-Mex Hankerings

This gallery contains 6 photos.

Something about the heat and spending time at the beach leaves me with various Tex-Mex/Southwestern/Tropical flavor joneses and the veggies in this week’s CSA share will help me continue in that vein! The complete haul A jalapeño pepper and cilantro Wax beans, another jalapeño, carrots, and one of the four ears of corn rainbow chard … Continue reading

A Meal in Three-Part Harmony

This dinner didn’t really go together, but each part worked and was delicious, so we’ll do this a little differently tonight!

Part 1 – Summer Borscht

I love borscht. Which, I suppose, shouldn’t be too surprising based on my undying love for beets. When I was puppysitting for my in-laws last week, I got to watch some TV (my husband and I don’t have one) and tuned in to the Food Network, one of my favorites. Ina Garten was making a summer borscht and I couldn’t wait to try it once I got more beets.

This made an amazing meal and was even better the next day for lunch. Plus, it just kept getting more and more pink, which is always fun!

Cold Summer Borscht (adapted from Ina Garten’s recipe)

Serves 4

4 medium beets, cleaned with the tops cut off

1 cup chicken broth

3/4 cup beet cooking liquid

8 ounces low-fat sour cream

1/4 cup Greek yogurt

2 tablespoons sugar

Juice from 1/2 a lemon

1 teaspoon white balsamic vinegar

1 cup English cucumber

2 green onions, chopped

1 tablespoon dried dill

Salt and pepper

First, cook the beets in a medium pot of salted water and boil, uncovered, for about 45 minutes. Place beets in a bowl of cold water to cool and set aside 3/4 cup of the cooking liquid to cool.

While the beets are cooking, whisk together the chicken stock, sour cream, yogurt, sugar, lemon juice, vinegar, pepper (about 1 teaspoon), and the dill in a large bowl. Put the bowl in the fridge to allow the flavors to meld.

Seed and chop the cucumber (about 1/2 an English cucumber).

Peel and chop the beets into small cubes. Add the beets, green onions, and cucumbers to the soup and put back into the fridge for at least 2 hours, the more the better.

This is what the soup looked like at first…just a hint of pink.

Part 2 – A New Take On Zucchini Bread

Zucchini is the bumper crop right now and I’ve been doing everything I can to use it up. I love zucchini bread, but wanted to try something a bit more savory. I found this great recipe for a whole-wheat zucchini bread-maker bread. It came out delicious and ended up being a perfect compliment to the borscht.

Whole Wheat Zucchini Herb Bread

adapted from a recipe by Barb Gertz

(Makes a 2 lb loaf)

2 cups bread flour

1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon honey

1 cup shredded zucchini

1/2 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped

3/4 cup water

2 teaspoons dry active yeast

Add these ingredients in the order recommended by your breadmaker and bake it on the Whole Wheat setting. Make sure you do NOT drain the zucchini like you might for other baking situations…it’s important to have the moisture.

This was particularly good toasted with a bit of butter

Part 3 – Deep Dish Peach Pie

Now, deep dish peach pie is one of my family’s favorites and this was my first attempt at this super easy and delicious summer dessert. This recipe is one I’ve wanted to share for the while, but the photos, well, they’re to show you that I am not ashamed of my kitchen foibles. Okay, well maybe I’m a little ashamed, but I’ll share them anyway.

I burnt this! My husband affectionally referred to this as the “Pie of Mordor”. It was bubbling and looking very sinister when it first came out of the oven…like molten lava! Oops!

Deep Dish Peach Pie

(My mother’s recipe)

1 cup flour

1 cup milk

1 cup sugar

1 tablespoon baking soda

1 large can of peaches in heavy syrup


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Mix first four ingredients in a deep casserole dish. Pour the can of peaches over the mixture with the syrup included and do NOT stir. Sprinkle cinnamon on top and bake for about 1 hour (or maybe less if my Pie of Mordor is any indication). Delicious served with vanilla ice cream!

Yes, we ate it anyway. What? It’s dessert!


A Taco Kick

I guess I’m on a taco kick…that and I have the ingredients in the kitchen and am trying to use up our staples before our move next week (!!). I can not WAIT to be in our new place…a nice big kitchen, a back deck on which to barbecue with our as-of-yet imaginary grill, AND central air. Anyway, back on topic, I made another delicious lunch of some simple tacos. This time I was cooking just for myself and threw things together rather than using a recipe.

I used one ear of the corn from our CSA share this week, and it stole the show. So sweet and fresh and creamy! Pretty too!

I cut the corn off the cob and sauteed it with about 1/2 cup of drained and rinsed black beans, another Fresno chili pepper, some cumin, olive oil, and salt.

Meanwhile, I put two corn tortillas on a plate and microwaved them with a bit of reduced fat shredded sharp cheddar. Once the beans had softened up a bit, I scooped them onto the tortillas and topped them with a dollop of sour cream.

The sweetness of the corn and the bite of the pepper worked perfectly with the cumin. I am pretty sure I ate these two tacos in record time!

I’m planning another experiment with my favorite veggie for either tonight or tomorrow so check back soon!


A Great Meal for Dinner, Brunch, and Lunch!

I got an email from a good friend with a link to a recipe that I’ve been dying to try. At first, I didn’t think there was going to be any connection to my CSA share, but when I got home from the grocery store, my husband let me know that there were two onions in the crate. So it’s a rather paltry relationship, but, there you go!

As I may have mentioned once (or twenty) times, it has been too darn hot for me lately, but this meal seemed like the perfect light summer treat: Mango and Black Bean Tacos, yum.

the finished product

These turned out delicious, more tropical tasting than Mexican, but totally delicious none the less! As indicated by the title, they were also delicious for lunch the next day. But how did they work for breakfast? Well, really the sauce was the only part we used for breakfast. When I tasted the tacos, I thought the sauce would be tasty on French toast. I made a loaf of white bread in the bread maker and, in the morning, made some seriously good French toast.

One slice was all either my husband or I could eat…so hearty!


Tonight’s Recipes

Mango and Black Bean Tacos

Adapted from Pinch of Yum 

Serves 4

2/3 cup sour cream

1/2 cup coconut milk

1 tablespoon sugar

2 mangos, peeled and cubed

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

juice from 1 lime

1 hot pepper, seeded and chopped {I am a spice wimp and used a Fresno pepper, which is about as hot as a jalapeño…use whatever pepper you want to get the heat you prefer!}

20 oz black beans (about a can and a half), drained and rinsed

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small white onion, chopped

corn tortillas

First, heat olive oil over medium high heat in a skillet. Add the black beans, pepper, and all but 1 tablespoon of the chopped onion. Gently saute until the peppers and onions have softened (about 5-7 minutes).

Meanwhile, mix together the remaining 1 tablespoon of onion, the mangoes, cilantro, and lime juice in a medium bowl and set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, coconut milk, and sugar.

To assemble the tacos, heat the corn tortillas, top with about 1/4 cup each of the bean mixture and the mango mixture and drizzle about 2 tablespoons of the sauce over the top.

Coconut and Rum French Toast

My own original recipe

Serves 4

4 thick slices of dense bread (challah or French bread would both be quite good)

4 eggs

1/3 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoons dark rum

1 tablespoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon fresh grated nutmeg

Coconut milk & Sour cream sauce from tacos

maple syrup

In a pie plate or square casserole dish, whisk together the eggs and milk until well blended. Add the vanilla, rum, cinnamon, and nutmeg and whisk until combined.

Soak each piece of bread for about 15 seconds per side and place onto a griddle or frying pan. Cook each side until golden brown.

Man, I love this griddle!

Top with the coconut milk sauce and plenty of maple syrup.

Berries or bananas would also taste great on this French toast.  Ooo, or pineapples…pretend it’s a piña colada!

Enjoy pretending you are in the Caribbean…shouldn’t be too hard in this weather!