Ruth from Makey-Cakey was our March 2013 Daring Bakers’ challenge host. She encouraged us all to get experimental in the kitchen and sneak some hidden veggies into our baking, with surprising and delicious results!
I’m finally getting a chance to get back into my Daring Bakers’ Challenges!
It’s been QUITE a busy year so far. I spent all of January transitioning out of my position at Hungry Girl, training my replacement. It was a difficult company to leave, but I knew I needed to make a move in order to continue my personal growth.
For the past two months I’ve been working at a digital marketing agency as a web/social media designer and front-end developer. I’m learning new skills everyday, its’s great!
Coinciding with my job change, I’ve been trying to eat “clean-er.” For quite some time I’ve been straying further and further from over-processed foods, but it’s really hard to avoid when you’re working at a company who uses many of them as their basis for recipes! Now that I’m not in that environment anymore, I’ve been doing a lot of juicing and smoothie-ing. I’m reintroducing healthy fats (like COCONUT!, traditional nuts, seeds) in moderation, as well as power grains like quinoa. ALthough many of the recipes on my blog are “clean,” you may see some “earthy crunchy” recipes like smoothies, homemade nut milks, and chia seed puddings. Things that I don’t normally make or eat, but have taken a recent interest in.
This absolutely does not mean I’ll be giving up baking or entirely switching up ingredients I use when baking. You have to live a little!! So back to making time for Daring Bakers!
I’d been seeing recipes using black beans in brownies for quite awhile, so I decided to find a recipe and give it a whirl. You definitely cannot taste the beans at all, not like I expected one to be able to in the first place. Black beans don’t have THAT distinctive of a taste, just a bit salty. Right?
I changed this recipe up a bit, but if I made it again, I would make some more modifications. They were a bit too thick for my taste. Normally I’d just use a larger pan so they come out more thin, but you’re already using a large pan here. I would try reducing the flour by about 1/2 cup. The brownies are super rich and decadent, so you definitely want to have a glass of milk handy. I ended up cutting them into small squares (the ones pictured, for example, were cut into fours).
black bean brownies
makes 18 2.5 inch x 2.5 inch brownies
- 2 cups flour
- 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons cocoa powder
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tespoon baking powder
- One 15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 3/4 cup brown sugar, not packed
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 4 eggs
- 1 cup walnuts, chopped
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Spray a 9×13 pan with nonstick spray or coconut oil spray.
Whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking powder.
In a blender or food processor, puree the black beans, adding a bit of water (no more than 2 tablespoons) if they stick to the sides before they’re pureed.
In a doubleboiler or a heatproof bowl over simmering water, add the butter and all but a handful of chocolate chips (set those aside for later). Melt and stir until combined. Remove from heat and add the black beans.
If your bowl can’t handle anymore ingredients (meaing it’s too small), transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Stir in the brown sugar and vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly after each one.
Gradually add the flour mixture and stir until combined. Do not overmix.
Fold in all but a handful of the walnuts (set those aside for later).
Pour the batter into the pan and spread evenly. Sprinkle with the reserved chocolate chips and walnuts.
Bake for about 30 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool and cut!
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Sometimes you just need Mexican food. In the form of a bean and veggie tortilla casserole. Spicy, warm, and comforting.
I love Mexican food. It’s one of those things that happens when you move to Southern California. Prior to moving here, Mexican to me was Taco Bell or Don Pablo’s (which is, as I remember now, a not-very-good Mexican chain in the Northeast). I almost always ordered a quesadilla or enchiladas, which is kind of like the cheater “Mexican” food. “Give me a tortilla filled with greasy melted cheese and possibly covered with bland tomato sauce.” Yuck.
Here in LA, thanks to the large Mexican population, you can get authentic Mexican food on nearly every corner. Burritos are my go to, with (soft) tacos a close second. Flour tortillas are smooth and buttery, chewy, sometimes a tiny bit crisp. Tacos from a street truck are just two small corn tortillas topped with the meat of your choice, and cilantro and onions if you’d like. Outside the truck is a table of assorted condiments – spicy pickled carrots and jalapeños, green, red, and orange salsas pureed to a smooth consistency. And since I love condiments, you can guess I load up on all of them.
Not to mention this wonderful thing called POTATO tacos and burritos (notably from one of my favorite Santa Monica spots, Tacos Por Favor). Soft potatoes with lettuce, guacamole, rice, beans. This is a really big thing, considering potatoes are one of my favorite food items. I’ve never seen anything potato related at Taco Bell or a chain Mexican-American restaurant, have you?
I usually need to have some sort of Mexican food at least once a week. Usually it’s a burrito from my beloved Benito’s around the corner, but they’re not exactly the lightest thing to eat. So for those times when I shouldn’t splurge, at-home-Mexican it is.
Enter black bean and veggie tortilla casserole. This is a nice twist on enchiladas. I’m not really a fan of enchiladas anymore because I feel like the corn flavor of the tortillas deepens when they’re baked and ends up tasting weird. Here, in this casserole, the tortillas end up softening and practically melting into the rest of the ingredients. In a word, it’s awesome.
This recipe was inspired by Everyday Food, but has been pumped up with the addition of veggies and mushrooms.
bean and veggie tortilla casserole
makes 6 servings
- 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 8 ounces crimini or white mushrooms, sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 cans (15.5 ounces each), black beans, rinsed and drained
- 2 cans (14.5 ounces each) or 3 cans (10 ounces each) diced tomatoes with green chiles
- 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves
- 1/2 cup frozen corn
- 1/2 cup frozen peas
- 10 corn tortillas
- 6 ounces shredded cheese (Monterey Jack, Mexican blend, or Mozzarella)
- Optional: reduced-fat or fat-free sour cream, sliced green onions, avocado, jalapenos for garnish
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
In a medium pot, heat 1/2 tablespoon olive oil and sliced mushrooms over medium heat, until softened, 3 – 4 minutes. Put the mushrooms in a bowl and toss with the frozen corn and peas. Return the pot to the heat.
Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the pot, as well as the garlic. Heat until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the beans and 1/2 cup water. Bring to a simmer, about 5 minutes. Slightly mash some of the beans.
In a food processor or blender, puree the tomatoes (with juice) and cilantro. If you don’t have one of those, finely chop the cilantro and mix it with the tomatoes.
Lay 4 tortillas in the bottom of an 8-inch square baking dish, overlapping a bit and slightly going up the sides of the dish. Spread 1/3 of the tomato mixture on top. Spoon 1/2 of the black beans in, then evenly distribute 1/2 of the veggies. Sprinkle with 1/3 of the cheese. Top with 3 tortillas and repeat the layering process. Finish it with the remaining 3 tortillas, last 1/3 of the tomato sauce, and last 1/3 of cheese.
Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and reduce the heat to 350 degrees. Bake for another 20 minutes.
To serve, top with sour cream, green onions, avocado, or jalapeno slices.
Let’s get right down to it. Things have been difficult for me lately. I’ve been in a rough place, but finally feel like I am beginning to come out of it. When I go through challenges, those are the times I realize most that I have an incredible group of friends supporting me. I would not have been able to begin conquering the feelings I’ve been having recently without the encouraging words and actions I’ve received over the past few weeks. Not to mention all of the adorable and thoughtful gifts.
I’m truly blessed, and I can only hope to be as helpful and patient to my friends as they have been to me. Thank you so much. You all know who you are.
With that said, I have not been in much of a cooking or blogging mood lately. I kept putting off this month’s Daring Bakers Challenge, until I realized it was due soon, two days before it was due. So last night I got my butt into high gear.
Patri of the blog, Asi Son Los Cosas, was our September 2012 Daring Bakers’ hostess and she decided to tempt us with one of her family’s favorite recipes for Empanadas! We were given two dough recipes to choose from and encouraged to fill our Empanadas as creatively as we wished!
The original empanada recipe Patri shared with us, was for a casserole-type empanada, rather than the handheld pies I typically think of. I decided to go with handheld pies instead of a casserole, because I knew most of the food would go to waste. I wanted to make a smaller recipe that will be easier for people to make at home and be able to consume with minimal waste. I halved the dough recipe and came up with a hearty Fall-like filling of sweet potatoes, kale, quinoa, black beans, and feta cheese. These savory little pies are great for a dinner or lunch on the go, or served on a plate with a side of veggies.
Tip: To make this recipe less time consuming, buy pre-made dough. I like to use reduced-fat crescent roll dough. You just pinch the perforated seams together to make it a seamless sheet of dough. Then roll out and cut to the specified measurements below. This will shave at least 45 minutes off your prep time!
sweet potato and kale empanadas
- Empanada Dough
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 1/4 cup less 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 tablespoon dry yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 2 small sweet potatoes, diced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup diced onion
- 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa, prepared according to packaage
- 1/2 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
- 1 cup raw kale
Put the flour in a bowl and make a well in the center. Add the water, oil, yeast, salt, and paprika. Stir together with a wooden spoon until a dough forms. Knead the dough for 8 minutes.
Cover the dough with a cloth and allow to rise for 30 minutes.
In the meantime, make your filling. In a pan sprayed with nonstick spray, sauté the sweet potato over medium heat until it begins to soften, about 10 minutes. Add the onion and garlic, cook for about 5 minutes. Add the quinoa, beans, rosemary, and feta. Stir to combine, then top with the kale. Allow to cool.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Once the dough has risen, roll it out into a 13 inch by 13 inch square. Trim off the uneven edges, then cut into 4 equal pieces.
Spoon about 1/4th of the filling diagonally into the center of each square of dough. You may have some leftovers. You can eat these plain on their own another time!
take one corner of the dough and carefully stretch it over the filling to make a triangle. Pinch and tuck the edges together, making a tight seal on the two open edges.
Make two small slits diagonally across the top of the empanadas so the steam releases when they’re baking.
Bake for about 25 minutes, until the outside is crisp and beginning to brown.
I used to work at a very small company. For over two years, I worked from home, however, when I finished college, I started going into our office (which was then an apartment). One of my coworkers, a new hire, was my age. Quickly, we realized we have a lot of the same values and views, and we now joke that we’re “soul mates.”
Well, naturally, as soul mates, we started going to lunch often. Carla is an interesting person. Rather than someone craving a burrito one day, a smoothie the next, and french fries the day after, her cravings are focused on one food item, are intense, and last a few days. One week it’s carrots, the next it’s blueberries, then Luna Bars. But one thing lasted for several weeks: Tortilla Soup.
I could never indulge in this. I rarely eat chicken and I even stay away from chicken broth and stock. But it had to be tasty if she’s craving it several times a week, for several weeks…Right?
However, I continued to look on with desire. Those crispy strips of tortilla. That beautiful red color. I wasn’t sure I’d taste tortilla soup unless I found a way to make it myself.
A few months later, Carla’s obsession had subsided, and my lust for tortilla soup fell onto the backburner (ha!).
Then, I found it. In the pages of my January 2009 issue of Everyday Food. It just fell right onto my lap! This recipe originally called for chicken stock, but no shredded chicken. It’s hearty enough that it doesn’t need chicken to give the extra fullness. There’s no doubt in my mind that since I’ve found this soup I’m not missing anything at a casual restaurant.
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 2 cans (14.5 ounces each) diced tomatoes in juice
- 2 cans (15 ounces each) low-sodium black beans, rinsed and drained
- 1 can (14.5 ounces) Swanson vegetable stock (Get Swanson!! Way better than other brands. No, this post is not sponsored.)
- 1 package (10 ounces) frozen corn
- kosher salt and ground pepper
- 1 cup crushed tortilla chips
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, plus lime wedges for serving
tortilla soup with black beans
In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium. Add garlic and chili powder and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add tomatoes and juice, beans, broth, corn, and 1 cup water. Season with salt and pepper.
Bring the mixture to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Sprinkle in the tortilla chips and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in lime juice, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with lime wedges and, if you like, additional chips. And that yummy looking sandwich is my Spicy Tex Mex Grilled Cheese!
to anyone. You don't have to know a lot about cooking or be a foodie to prepare and enjoy nutritious homecooked meals! Read more...