Sunday, January 29, 2012

Moving to Aspen, and Sweet Potato, Eggplant and Black Bean Tacos

Skiing Snowmass with 14 inches of new snow
We officially live in Aspen, in a lovely little carriage house just off main street.  I am finishing my physical therapy education at the Aspen Club Sports Medicine clinic, and Steven is working at a hotel in Snowmass.  We feel very lucky to be spending the winter here, doing what we love: skiing.  Along with the move came a new kitchen.  Our cooking space has gone from small to smaller, but we are slowly getting adjusted.  Today's recipe started as a way to use eggplant and black beans in the same dish.  It ended up being a very filling and tasty meal.

Sweet Potato, Eggplant and Black Bean Tacos
Serves 4 hungry humans

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1 small eggplant, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 small-medium sweet potato (I used a garnet yam), peeled and diced into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 15 oz can black beans
  • Corn tortillas
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 avocado, diced
  • Chopped lettuce 
  1. Heat oil over medium heat in large fry pan and add onion.  Cook until translucent, then reduce heat to medium low and add honey and pinch of salt.  Continue cooking until onion caramelizes, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic, and cook until fragrant.  
  2. Add sweet potatoes and eggplant, and return heat to medium.  Sprinkle with cumin, paprika, black pepper and remaining salt.  Cook, stirring frequently until potatoes and eggplant are both soft, about 15 minutes. 
  3. In a small saucepan heat beans over low heat in their juices.
  4. Remove the sweet potato mixture from the heat, and stir in lemon juice.  
  5. Strain the beans and stir into the mix.
  6. Serve in warmed corn tortillas topped with cilantro, avocado and lettuce.  

Monday, January 9, 2012

Salsa Fresca: My Favorite "Apres-Ski"

Salsa.  The word itself simply means sauce.  However, the word has a unique meaning for each of us.  Often, it is nostalgic of fond memories or specific times.  There are many types of Mexican "Salsas:" red, green, mole, pico de gallo, and many more.  Sunday night, after a lovely day on the mountain, my desire was just for good 'ol chips and salsa.  To me this is a tomato-based, fresh salsa with medium heat.  A classic afternoon, after-ski, snack.

This recipe was made up by perusing the grocery store for "salsa ingredients," and then throwing things sporadically into the food processor until it tasted good.  That being said, it is fresh, tasty and rivals most store bought brands.

A couple notes:
1. This salsa is best if left to sit 12-24 hours for the flavors to combine.  I was much too hungry for this.
2. If you are not a fan of spicy foods, scoop the seeds out of your jalapeno.
3. Always start with less jalapeno than you think you will like.

Salsa Fresca

  • 2 medium garlic cloves
  • 1 medium size jalapeno pepper, sliced in half lengthwise
  • 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 cup cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, roughly diced
  • 4 tomatoes (I used the on the vine type), roughly diced
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1/4 teaspoon lime zest
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Salt to taste
1. Preheat oven to 400.
2. Line a small baking sheet with foil, and place the jalapeno on it cut side down as well as the peeled garlic cloves.  Drizzle with olive oil and place in oven for 10 minutes, or until pepper starts to blister and darken and garlic begins to slightly brown.
3. Combine onions, tomatoes, cilantro, lime juice and zest in food processor and pulse until combined and finely diced.
4. Add sugar, garlic and 1/2 of jalapeno and pulse until all ingredients are combined and chopped to desired consistency.  Taste, and add more jalapeno and salt to taste.
5. Serve with your favorite chips, on tacos, or any other number of ways.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Ringing in 2012 with Warm Chickpea and Avocado Salad

Happy New Year!  2011 was a memorable and fantastic year around here.  On February 26, 2011 we took our relationship to a new level, engagement.  Then, on August 27, 2011 we became husband and wife.  We also took a lovely trip to Turkey with Matt and Mackenzie, went to Hawaii for our honeymoon and to celebrate the wedding of Jeff and Jenn, spent some wonderful days in the Pacific Northwest and took many trips to the Rockies.  I also had my final class of graduate school in September, and spent the fall at the Anchor Center for Blind Children as an intern.  All in all, a pretty darn good year.
Made in Hawaii: Fresh Fish Tacos
However, to ring in 2012 (and begin our slow detox), we started off the year with one of my all time favorite recipes: warm chickpea and avocado salad.  Paired with stuffed acorn squash, sauteed chanterelle mushrooms and green salad, this was a healthful and delicious New Years Day meal.  Perfect for those with or without diet resolutions.

Warm Chickpea and Avocado Salad
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 avocado, diced
  • A couple handfuls of cilantro, chopped (about ¾ cup chopped)
  • Juice of one lime
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon hot paprika, or 3/4 teaspoon paprika, 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • Black pepper, to taste
1. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large sautee pan over medium heat. Add onions and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Stir and cook slowly for 20-25 minutes, until onions are just about done to your liking. (You can go slowly and caramelize them, or turn up the heat and go faster for crispier onions, however you like.)

2. When the onions are just about done, stir in chickpeas. Add cumin, paprika, a few grinds of black pepper. (Add the spices gradually, and taste as you go.) Add 1-2 teaspoons more oil as needed – you don't want this dry – and more salt, to taste. Cook until chickpeas are soft and creamy, 10-15 minutes. Adjust seasonings as needed. Stir in lime juice scraping the pan to deglaze and therefore preserve your wonderful flavors.

3. Turn off heat and stir in avocado and cilantro.

4. Serve as-is, or over rice or in tortillas. Crumbled queso blanco makes a lovely addition.