Galley: 1) the kitchen of a boat. Sally: 1) a venture off the beaten path, 2) a military action in which besieged troops burst forth from their position, 3) a witty remark.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Mushroom and Black Bean Tortilla Casserole

A little over five years ago I had a dishwasher. And not just any dishwasher. I know that there is some disagreement over husbands giving wives appliances as gifts, but that dishwasher was a beauty. My husband found it at the local REstore (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle), and immediately bought it for Christmas. At the time we were remodeling our house, had little money, and this dishwasher was more than a deal. It was a Fisher & Paykel stainless steel, two drawer glory. I can't help it. Here she is:
Fisher & Paykel : DD24DCX6 Semi-Integrated Double DishDrawer - Stainless Steel with LCD Display

Now you know what I'm talking about.

We got it cheap, replaced a part, and were off and running. Yes! Running the dishwasher. Our evenings were completely changed. Suddenly, "buzzing up" the kitchen after dinner meant we really could whip things into shape in ten minutes. And it was quiet. And it washed the dishes. Sadly, shortly after we moved onto our last boat and rented out our house, the Fisher & Paykel gave up the ghost. An exact diagnosis was never reached, but I suspect it missed me too much to go on. Sometimes, the feeling is mutual.

But instead of carting myself off to the appliance recycling center, I continue the hunt for meals that use a minimum of dishes, and hence require a minimum of washing up. Because now, I wash the dishes, and I don't want very many. This recipe tastes good, and is conservative in dish use. Win!

Mushroom and Black Bean Tortilla Casserole

You will need...

2 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 lb. cremini or button mushrooms, trimmed and quartered (I just used standard white/brown mushrooms)
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
coarse salt and ground pepper
reserved cooked black beans, or 1 can (15.5 oz) black beans, rinsed and drained (Why I don't use canned beans)
8 corn tortillas, warmed and halved (I warmed mine in a cast iron skillet, no oil, one at a time)
2 cups salsa
1 1/4 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese (I think I used at least two cups...)

What to do...

1) If you have an oven, preheat to 400 degrees. If you don't have an oven, you will use your Dutch Oven, so move on to step two.

2) In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring often, until browned ~7 mins. Add garlic and cayenne; season with salt and pepper.

3) Add black beans and stir to combine. Cook until beans are warmed through, 2 mins. Remove from heat.

4) If using Oven, arrange 5 tortilla halves in a 2 quart baking dish. No oven, arrange 5 tortilla halves in a lightly oiled Dutch Oven. Top with half the bean mixture and 1/2 cup salsa, then sprinkle with 1/3 the cheese. Repeat with another layer of tortilla halves, bean mixture, salsa and cheese. Top with remaining tortilla halves, salsa, and cheese.

5) If using Oven, cover with foil and bake until center is hot and cheese melts, ~10 mins. Uncover and bake until cheese is bubbling, ~5 mins. If using Dutch Oven, cover with lid and heat over very-low heat until center is hot and cheese melts.

6) Yum!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Spicy Black Bean Soup

When I have several dinners planned out in advance, I feel powerful. Kind of silly... but it feels a bit like being able to tell the future. I know what is coming, and I don't have to worry about it. Who ever worried about spicy black bean soup? or mushroom and black bean tortilla casserole? It's like knowing really good friends are coming for the weekend: You know you'll enjoy yourself, but without any stressful preparation.

So, yesterday I sat down with several cookbooks and flipped around. I was on the lookout for recipes that struck me as simple, healthy, and inexpensive. I made a shopping list of the ingredients, and now (after an incredibly mellow shopping trip with my four year old... she was actually really helpful...) I bring to you the deliciously simple spicy black bean soup! To be followed Friday with the casserole mentioned above! The future, revealed, no crystal ball required.

Spicy Black Bean Soup
from everyday food, Serves 4

You will need...

1 1b dried black beans, picked over, soaked overnight, and drained (see tip in step one for quick-soak method)
2 large yellow onions, diced small
2 jalapenos, minced (I used serrano chiles, and only one due to child)
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
coarse salt and ground pepper
2 tsp ground cumin
1 3/4 cups veggie or chicken broth
1 Tbsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice (read about my mistake here later in post)
Optional: diced avocado, diced onion, cilantro, plain yogurt and tortilla strips or corn chips for serving. (we used avocado, yogurt and corn chips)

What to do...

1) In a medium saucepan, cover beans with cold water by 2 inches. Add one-quarter each of onions and jalapenos and bring to a boil over high. Reduce to a rapid simmer; cook until beans are tender ~ 45 to 50 mins. (If you are going to make the aforementioned mushroom and black bean casserole, to be posted Friday, then use a slotted spoon to transfer 1 1/2 cups beans to container for refrigeration)

If you didn't soak overnight, don't despair: Instead of soaking dried beans overnight, cover them with cold water by 2 inches in a pot. Bring to a boil and cook 2 mins. Remove from heat, cover, and let sit 1 hour.

2) In large Dutch Oven or heavy bottomed pot, heat oil over medium-high. Add garlic and remaining onions; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until onions are soft and golden brown ~ 10 mins. Stir in remaining jalapenos, cumin, beans and their cooking liquid and broth. Bring to a simmer and cook until beans are soft, ~ 20 mins. If necessary, add up to 1 cup water or broth to keep beans covered)

3) Transfer 2 cups soup to a blender and add cornstarch. Puree until smooth. Return to pot. Cook, stirring, until soup thickens, 1 -2 mins. Add lime juice and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Here is something funny. When I read the recipe (with many interruptions) I read "juice from two limes," instead of "2 Tbsp fresh lime juice." Yup. In my defense, the original recipe had, in parenthesis, "from 2 fresh limes." So, I bought two big limes and put ALL the juice in the soup. While I was squeezing away my husband (The Real Cook) commented on the quantity of the juice and I blithely replied, "It's the recipe!" And... It was very good. Very limey, but great! So... I don't know how just 2 Tbsp tastes, but if you like lime go ahead and add some more if you like! 

Proof of my error!

4) Top with avocado, diced onion, cilantro, yogurt and tortilla strips/chips if desired. (Can I say that I made the yogurt with fresh milk from the Coffelt Farm? Yum!)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Mama in the Galley

Sometimes I just want to write all about being a mommy, and not so much about cooking. When that happens, I take a glance at all the mommy mahme mama mother mamu mamilicious blogs out there and think, "Now really, there just isn't room for one more."

Writing another mommy blog feels like the old mitten story, where the boy loses his mitten in the winter forest, and one by one the animals come and make a home in the cozy space. First a mouse, followed by a mole, a frog, a rabbit, a fox... more and more animals, each bigger than the last, until finally the bear lumbers along, squeezes in, and the mitten bursts! The splitting wool flings all the animals back out into the chill of the wintry night, and in the morning the boy sees a mouse wearing a little red cap, the thumb from his mitten.

I am the lumbering bear. Too slow to claim a mommy spot for myself in the blogosphere. And while I certainly don't think I'm powerful enough to push everyone aside by squeezing in, I'm not certain there is even a remnant of wool left to discuss. From incredibly creative foods for kids (did you ever eat apples and cheese in the shape of the very hungry caterpillar?) to my favorite Scary Mommy, it seems no stone of motherhood is left unturned. There are so many brilliant mamas! Which is great. Which is good. Which is how it should be... but I'm suffering from an acute case of Fabulosis Mamiblog Envyitis.

How could I not? I mean, how great is this? Yesterday I read a blog post where the mommy suggests this T-shirt for new moms: 

I Make Milk. What's Your Superpower?

Now, I just took a brief tour through Etsy, and it turns out you can (and should) actually buy this T-shirt for new mommies. Whether the blogger had an original idea and these are her T-shirts... I don't know. Maybe another mommy stole the idea. Maybe a prowler mommy who stalks other mommies' delightful blogs and wishes they were hers stole the idea. Maybe that is all that is left for me: Slinking around on other mama-blogs looking for good ideas and laughing at the memory of the most on the money description of parenting I've seen yet. And while we're talking about it, the author of that inspired piece has the blog name Momastery.

She really does. Momastery. I'm not sure my education in biology has given me the tools to even come up with a competing blog name, 'cause yeah, Mommyology is taken too. You can see the mommyologist here.

I reported these feelings of Missed Opportunity, Incompetence, Lack of Foresight, and Frustration to a friend. She told me to go for it! Write another mommy blog! She even said, "The cream rises to the top." I love her. The only problem is, there is so much cream. Check this out: Top 50 Mom Blogs.

See how much mom-ing is going on already? For now I think I better stay here, a mama in the galley.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Simply Amazing Split-Pea Soup

I have to tell you all about this soup, even though I didn't take a picture. !!

I know... pictures are best, but I didn't know it was going to be so good, and then I was too busy "eating" to take a picture. When you are trying to spoon soup with one hand, hold a bowl with the other, flip fresh biscuits in the pan with your elbow, and calm a freaking out four year-old with deep breaths and lots of love... well, the camera suffers.

But this soup... nothing suffers with this soup. Not your budget, not your time, not taste, nothing! I don't have exact measurements because I just threw it together, but I think it would still be amazing by approximation.

Serves: Two adults and one child, with leftovers for two adult lunches! You will need...

1 fantastic, large pork chop, ~ 3/4 lb. I got mine from a small local farm. I found this very exciting.
1-2 carrots, sliced small
1-2 celery stalks, sliced small
1 large yellow onion, chopped
1/2 -3/4 cup barley
1 1b green split peas
salt and pepper to taste

What you do...

NOTE:  I didn't measure my water, but the package for the peas says about 8 cups per pound. I'm guessing I used somewhere between 11 and 13 cups of water total. Just start with closer to 8, and add water throughout as your soup thickens. This way, you'll get the consistency you want.

1) Place ~8 cups water and raw pork chop (mine was even frozen) in Dutch oven or heavy bottomed pot and heat over high flame. Add chopped onion and barley and bring to a boil.

2) Add carrots, celery and split peas. Return to boil, then reduce to steady simmer and cover.

3) Check regularly to stir and add water as necessary. My soup simmered for about an hour and fifteen minutes. Yours will be done when the peas reach the consistency you like. We like very soft here.

4) When the peas are done, remove the pork chop and place on cutting board. Remove all meat from bone, dice, and return meat to pot. If the soup is too runny, simmer with cover off until right. If soup is too thick, add water slowly.

5) When soup is ready, ladle into bowls and serve with salt and pepper. So Yum!!! I am eating the leftovers for lunch as I type, and am going to go heat up the last bowl now.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Struggling to Write

I've been struggling with this blog of late.

I haven't posted anything recently.

I've also spent the last month with three different "bugs," most recently a nasty sore throat. I have to admit that when sick, I just don't feel like writing. I'm afraid that any readers I might have will be abandoning this blog in search of more productive pastures... PLUS, one of my New Year's Resolutions was to be better about keeping my blog current this year.

Not doing so good.

Don't feel good. Could someone please pass the chamomile tea?