Spicy three-bean “salad”

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I feel like beans get such a bad rap (rep? what am I trying to say?). Like, does anyone want to just sit around and eat a bowl of beans? I mean, I do but I’ll sit around and eat a bowl of pretty much anything. These are personal issues that I am dealing with, but I can’t assume the same of you lovely people.

My point being I made this “salad” MONTHS ago but just didn’t post it because I felt weird coming over here WITH A BOWL OF BEANS. But then I ended up just not coming over here at all and that makes me feel weird/sad too. No matter how little I post, I hope you guys know I do love my little corner of the Internet.

Anyway. Beans. In a bowl. I love dishes like this because they’re generally simple to make, fairly cheap and easy to change up depending on your tastes. By that, I obviously mean you can pour anywhere from one tablespoon to one bottle of hot sauce in this thing. This dish specifically is super change-able (it’s a word now) because you can totally use whatever beans you want! I’m always partial to garbanzo beans so those were a given for me. The green beans I got from the Farmers Market (basically so I could tell my fake internet friends that I bought fresh green beans from a Farmers Market) that I needed to use up. And kidney beans just don’t get enough love in my humble opinion. I love a good bowl of chili as much as you but let’s give these guys another chance, shall we?

The other thing we need to discuss here is spice. When you take a look at the ingredients below you might never want to talk to me again, as it’s obvious I’ve gone out of my way to destroy all my taste buds with this dish. I just really can’t help myself, and if I’m going to make beans a meal then you better believe some hot sauce is involved (and jalapenos and red pepper flakes and maybe a little fire). Of course, you don’t have to use everything. This here is my friendly reminder that cooking should be fun, and roughly 75% of my recipes here are merely meant to be guidelines.

Because I have limited kitchen/fridge/life space, I make this, eat a whole bunch and call it dinner. But for those of you with healthy, balanced lifestyles I think this would go great with grilled or baked chicken. Or throw it over some quinoa and then walk around like the epitome of health that you are. Or, eat some of this before you move onto your real dinner of ice cream, wine and Netflix. LIVE THE LIFE YOU LOVE, GUYS.

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Spicy three-bean “salad”
Serves 4

2 teaspoons olive oil

1/2 yellow onion, diced

1 bell pepper (any color), diced

1-2 jalopenos, seeded and diced

3 garlic cloves, minced

One can kidney beans, drained and rinsed

One can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 lb fresh green beans, cut into bite-sized pieces

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 tablespoon (or more!) hot sauce

1/4 – 1/2 cup chicken/vegetable stock

Salt & pepper to taste

Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and saute them for 4-6 minutes until they start to caramelize a bit. Add in the bell pepper, jalapeno and garlic and saute until everything starts to soften up. Then add in the garbanzo, kidney and green beans and mix everything together. Add in all your spices and stir to make sure all the beans are coated in the flavor. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover the pan and allow everything to cook together for 15-20 minutes, checking and stirring ever 5 minutes or so. If things start to look a little dry, add in some chicken or vegetable broth.

This salad can be served warm, room temperature or cold. ENJOY!

Crazy greek pasta

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For many, a new year brings the promise of a healthier and more fulfilling lifestyle. For me, it brings two days of a low-carb diet followed by a weekend of burritos and popcorn. Obviously, 2014 is already treating me SO well.

For those of you who regularly read food blogs, I’m sure you’ve been inundated with smoothies and salads and “healthified” versions of all our favorite dishes because January just isn’t January without greek yogurt…..in everything.

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I, naturally, have done nothing of the sort for you. This is because I’m a horrible blogger, I haven’t cooked a new dish in basically forever and I’m the president of the “carbs for life” fanclub that I’ve just started.

In all seriousness though, pasta is just so on point. For anyone with even a semi-busy lifestyle (if I have enough time to watch four seasons of The Good Wife in two months, I can’t technically say I’m busy, right?) pasta is almost too easy. Boil the carbs. Add favorite things. Put cheese on top. YAY FOOD.

This particular pasta is essentially a big pot of my favorite flavors. We’ve discussed my love for “crazy feta” over here and we’ve discussed how roasted vegetables make the world go round. I obviously just waxed poetic about pasta in general….so now let’s just put everything together. So easy and so delicious.

Here’s to another year of good food (and wine and puppies and lipstick)!

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Crazy greek pasta

Serves 4 

1 lb pasta (any shape will do)

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground pepper

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 panful of roasted vegetables (use your favorites!) + 3 roasted jalapenos + 1 head of roasted garlic

1 lemon

1/2 cup black olives, roughly chopped

8-oz crumbled feta cheese

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, and cook pasta according to package instructions. While pasta is cooking, prepare rest of dish.

Heat the oil over medium high heat in another large pan. Once hot, add in the chicken. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and cumin and allow to sear for 4-6 minutes, until golden brown. Once almost cooked through, add in the vegetables, jalapeno and olives. Stir everything to combine and allow chicken to finish cooking. Once pasta is cooked, drain (reserving a little of the liquid) and add to the chicken and vegetables. Add in crumbled feta, garlic and the juice from one lemon. Give everything a HUGE stir to incorporate the garlic and melt all the cheese. If necessary, add in some of the reserved pasta water to help things along. You can also add in a drizzle of olive oil to create a more saucy texture – totally up to you!

Serve hot and enjoy!

Lemon-thyme quinoa risotto

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I have been trying to write this post for almost three weeks. Every time I sit down (err lay, all of my blog-writing is done in bed because I’m obviously super professional) to write…I suddenly have no words. Like, I just stare at the screen and the recipe below and NOTHING.

Also, I’m not sure if you’ve heard but there’s this thing called the internet? And…how do I put this? Well, it’s my life. So, sometimes I’ll be writing but then suddenly remember that season two of Friday Night Lights just isn’t going to watch itself!  Or, you know, realize YouTube doesn’t exist to just sit there ( because it actually exists to teach me how to put on eyeliner and curl my hair, duh). I mean, sometimes I just mosey over to the Modern Love section of The New York Times and lose hours reading those columns. I normally only come up for air when my heart literally can’t stand it anymore.

Actually, the same can be said for Friday Night Lights because that show makes me feel all the feelings. I cried so hard when (spoiler alert?) Smash got into A&M that I had to actually stand up as to not choke on my tears. And those were HAPPY TEARS, you guys. Please just imagine what happens to me when sad things go down.

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It’s a miracle I even made this dish at all because at the time I was in deep with both The Good Wife AND Orange is the New Black. And in case you guys were wondering, I do have an actual job. And I work pretty hard at my actual job. This leaves me with a limited amount of free hours to begin with, and as we’ve discussed before, I require sleep. As much of it as possible, really. What I’m saying is I devote most of my available, non-working hours to sitting in bed, watching shows on my little computer. This is when wine and popcorn for dinner comes in handy. But for those of you that need actual substance in the evening, this dish does the trick. Some dishes are just random thoughts that swirl around in my head until I decide I have an actual recipe, and this is definitely one of those.

I’ll be the first to admit that quinoa risotto is not the same as regular risotto. It just isn’t, and because you guys are my friends I’m not even going to sit here and try to pretend like it is. Regular risotto is a beautiful thing, but sometimes a little shake-up can be fun! I could try to go the “hey, it’s healthy for you!” route here, but you’ll notice the cream and cheese in the recipe so I’m not sure I can get away with that.

The tomatoes and shrimp are totally good for you though, right?! Super fresh, and I just love them both with the slightly heavy risotto. Of course, you don’t have to use tomatoes and shrimp here. Use whatever vegetable and/or meat you want! I’m pretty convinced this would be delicious with roasted vegetables and goat cheese, but I’m convinced a shoe would taste good with that combo so you might want to approach that carefully.

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Lemon thyme quinoa risotto

Serves 2 (as a meal), 4 (as a side)

Tomatoes

20 cherry tomatoes

1 teaspoon canola oil

2 garlic cloves, smashed

1 sprig of thyme

Shrimp

1/2 lb large shrimp, peeled and devined

1 teaspoon oil

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

Quinoa risotto

1 cup dry quinoa

2 teaspoons oil

1/4 cup white wine

2-3 cups warm chicken stock

1/4 cup heavy cream

Juice and zest from half a lemon

1/3 cup gorgonzola cheese, crumbled

Heat 1 teaspoon canola oil in a small pan over high heat. When hot, add tomatoes, garlic and thyme (keep the sprig intact). quickly stir so tomatoes are all coated in oil. Reduce heat to medium/medium-high and allow tomatoes to char, shaking pan frequently to keep them moving. When garlic is browned, remove from pan (because nothing is worse than burned garlic). When tomatoes are charred and most have burst, cut the heat and set aside. Remove the thyme sprig and reserve for later.

Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat. Add quinoa and stir to coat. Toast, stirring frequently for 2-3 minutes until starts to take on a light, golden-brown color. Add wine and stir continuously until evaporated. Add stock 1/4 cup at a time, and stir continuously until liquid is completely absorbed before adding the next batch of liquid. You’ll probably use about 2-2 1/4 cups of stock, but I always suggest keeping more on hand just in case. Make sure to taste test as you go along as that’s the only way you’ll know the quinoa is cooked through. The pot will be thick (though not as thick as regular risotto). After you’ve added the last bit of liquid, give the pot one big stir and then cover and let sit for 5-6 minutes. Once time is up, turn off the heat, remove the lid and add your heavy cream, lemon juice, zest and crumbled cheese. Chop up the thyme from your tomatoes and sprinkle in. Mix everything together and allow cheese to melt.

While the risotto is finishing cooking, prepare your shrimp. Preheat your oven to 400. Arrange shrimp on a baking sheet in a single layer. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Toss gently with your hands to ensure each shrimp is coated. Bake for 7 minutes, until shrimp is just cooked through and pink.

To serve, divide risotto in bowls (or plates, whatever). Top with tomatoes and shrimp. Enjoy!