What Month Is It?

I’ve been back in sunny Southern California for about two weeks now, loving this weather and absolutely dreading my return to Pittsburgh and the snow. It’s “cooled off” a bit here, down to about 75 everyday, but it was high 80s last week. Feels like summer. I hate snow.

I’ve got a couple recipes for you. It’s been so hot that I’ve been making smoothies almost everyday for lunch. This one has hidden veggies in it, but unlike my Tropical Green Monster it doesn’t have a scary color.

Berry Green Smoothie

Ingredients
1 C frozen mixed berries (I used strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries)
1/4 – 1/3 C milk, as needed (I used soy but any milk would be fine)
1 Tbsp chia seed
1 Tbsp flax meal
soy protein powder
1 large handful fresh spinach leaves
agave nectar, to taste

Instructions
Blend until smooth and serve.

Then the other day, my mom and I tried out a new recipe for vegetarian chili. It was really delicious but it took a lot of work. It wasn’t difficult but just cutting the vegetables took forever because there was so much. I must say, though, this is a pretty substantial chili. Some of my meat-eating friends seem to think there’s no such thing as vegetarian chili – I think they should try a bowl of this. It’s got some really interesting ingredients – coffee and chocolate – that give it a really unique flavor.

Spicy Vegetarian Chili
Original recipe from Food Network Magazine, Jan/Feb 2012

Ingredients
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 large bell peppers (1 red, 1 green), chopped
4 medium carrots, chopped
1/2 tsp salt
6 cloves garlic, minced
3 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp chipotle powder
1/4 tsp adobo seasoning
1 Tbsp tomato paste
2 corn tortillas, torn into pieces
1/2 C brewed coffee
1 28 oz. can whole plum tomatoes, crushed
2 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
2 15 oz. cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 head cauliflower, grated
1/2 C fresh cilantro, chopped
cheese, onions, corn, etc. for topping

Instructions
1.
 In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, bell peppers, carrots, and salt, stirring frequently for 8 minutes or until carrots are soft.
2. Add garlic and cook 2 more minutes.
3. Stir in chili powder, cumin, coriander, oregano, chipotle, adobo, tomato paste, and tortillas. Cook about 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add a splash of water if the mixture begins to stick.
4. Add coffee and let simmer 30 seconds until almost completely reduced.
5. Reduce to low heat. Add tomatoes, cocoa powder, beans, and 2 1/2 C water, and let simmer for 1 hour 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
6. Stir in cauliflower and let cook an additional 10 minutes.
7. Dig in!

How do you eat chili? Just in a bowl? My mom puts it over rice, or sometimes we put it on baked potatoes, but my first choice will always be the Frito Pie. How do you make a Frito Pie, you ask?

Just like that. Asian noodle bowl is optional.

Healthy Dessert?!!

I got another tattoo yesterday, my third, and I’m really sore. I wanted to bake but I wanted something easy. Easy and healthy. This whole tattoo thing means no working out for at least 2 weeks – I have to avoid sweating as much as possible. According to the extremely reliable Yahoo! Answers, I run the risk of a staph infection – bad news. So I’m trying to keep the fatty foods at a minimum.

This is by far the best brownie I have ever tasted. It’s dense, fudgy, and secretly healthy. I’ve seen many recipes similar to this one and I’ve been absolutely dying to try it out! Seriously, don’t be afraid of it. It’s delicious.

The only thing I’d do differently is put the chocolate chips on top, rather than mixing them into the batter. The walnuts were fine, but the chocolate chips all sunk to the bottom and were lost when I took the brownies out of the pan!

Black Bean Brownies
(Original can be found here)

Ingredients:
1 can black beans
3 eggs
3 tbsp vegetable oil (I used grape seed)
1/4 C cocoa powder
2/3 C sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 heaping Tbsp instant coffee
1/3 C chocolate chips
1/3 C chopped walnuts (it actually could’ve used more, maybe 1/2 C)

Special Tools:
Blender or food processor

Instructions:
1.
 Preheat your oven to 350 F.
2.
Rinse and drain your black beans.
3. Put all ingredients except walnuts and chocolate chips into the blender. Blend until smooth.

4. Mix in the walnuts and chocolate chips.
5. Pour into an 8×8 baking pan sprayed with nonstick spray. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until a knife comes out clean.

Black Bean and Corn Quinoa Salad

Quinoa (that’s KEEN-wah) is my new favorite superfood. It’s so easy to use – it has a pretty mild flavor, so you can incorporate it into anything. Cooking it is a breeze – it cooks the same as white rice. And, of course, its most important quality: it’s a complete protein. Whaddup.

This salad is nice and summery, not to mention super filling. One bowl of it was enough for me for dinner. I ate it hot, right after the quinoa cooked, but it would probably be good cold too.

I made a bunch of changes to the original recipe, mostly because I was too lazy to go to the super market, but it came out delicious. Also, I increased the amount of quinoa because the original looked like veggies with quinoa, not quinoa with veggies, which is what I wanted, and this had to feed a family of four.

The original recipe can be found here.

Ingredients:
1 can black beans
1 can corn
1/4 red onion, diced
1/2 bell pepper, diced (I used green, but red might have been better)
1 green onion, chopped
1 small bunch cilantro, chopped
Mango salsa (My package was half-eaten since my mom decided she needed a snack this afternoon, boooooo) – optional
1 1/2 cup uncooked white quinoa
Juice of 1/2 lemon
3 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp cumin
dash salt

Special Tools:
Rice cooker (the quinoa can be cooked on the stove, but this way is easier I think)

Not all the ingredients made it into the photo…

Instructions:
1.
 Rinse the quinoa and cook in rice cooker with 3 cups water.

2. Drain and rinse the beans and corn.

3. Chop your veggies!

4. In the biggest bowl you can find, mix the beans, corn, and the rest of the veggies.
5. In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, cumin, and salt.
6. When the quinoa has finished cooking, toss it in with the veggies. Pour in the dressing and mix. Serve.

So fluffy!

Delicious (: