Tuesday, September 19, 2017

A Comforting Persian Soup: Aash-e Reshte #BushsBeansFallFlavors #sponsored

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Bush's Best Beans in conjunction with The Women Bloggers, LLC
Compensation for this post was provided and this page may contain affiliate links.

My family and I eat beans all year long, but during the colder months, bean soups are a family favorite. Minestrone, Black Bean Soup, and Chili are always in the menu rotation. So, when the opportunity arose for me to create a recipe using Bush's Best Beans - showcasing Fall flavors -  I was excited. 

After reading a book about the Islamic Revolution in Iran, I started researching recipes. I was intrigued by a comforting Persian soup and looked at different versions of the recipe. Aash-e Reshte is a healthy, flavorful soup. It's filled with aromatic herbs, warming spices, hearty beans, and delicious noodles. My version also includes meatballs, but I saw some recipes that were strictly vegetarian, too.


I love that beans are high in fiber and protein. And with all the varieties of beans, they are incredibly versatile. My Aash-e Reshte has three different kinds of beans - black beans, pinto beans, and dark red kidney beans from Bush's Beans.


During the colder months, I almost always have a pot of beans on the stove. Beans are so filling and healthy. While I often cook dry beans from scratch all day in a Dutch oven, that's not always convenient, especially if I forgot to soak them the night before. So, I stock canned beans in the pantry, too.


Canned beans are great to have on-hand for quick, easy meals. And, even better: canned beans are not a specialty item. They are readily available in every grocery store and most convenience stories. Use their product locator to find whatever Bush's Beans you need: here. I love that Walmart carries them, too! It's super convenient.

Ingredients serves 6 to 8

While my Aash-e Reshte uses canned beans and dry pasta, I added in my homemade chicken stock and home-canned heirloom tomato sauce.

Soup
  • 6 C chicken stock
  • 4 C water
  • ½ C dried lentils, soaked in warm water for at least 10 minutes
  • 1 pint tomato sauce
  • 1/2 package dry linguine pasta, broken into half
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • freshly ground salt, to taste
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 t ground ginger
  • 1 t ground cumin
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 t ground turmeric

Meatballs
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed
  • 1 t ground ginger
  • 1 t ground cumin
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 t ground turmeric

Garnish
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 onions, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1/2 C fresh parsley, destemmed and chopped
  • 1/2 C fresh cilantro, destemmed and chopped
  • 2 T fresh chives, chopped
  • freshly ground salt, to taste
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste

Procedure
Meatballs
Combine all of the ingredients in a mixing bowl. Shape into 1/2" to 1" meatballs and set aside.

Soup
Pour chicken stock and water into a large soup pot. Bring to a boil. Add lentils to boiling liquid and simmer for 5 minutes. Pour in tomato sauce, then, gently drop meatballs into the soup. Simmer until the meatballs are cooked through, approximately 15 to 20 minutes.

Add in the drained beans and spices. Stir in the pasta and cook according to the package directions. Mine took 10 minutes to cook.


While the pasta cooks, make your garnish. Core and dice the tomatoes. In a skillet, heat olive oil. Stir in onions and garlic. Cook until the onions are softened and beginning to turn translucent.


Add in the tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes begin to lose their shape. Stir in the fresh herbs. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.


The Aash-e Reshte is ready once the noodles are cooked through. To serve, ladle beans, pasta, and meatballs into individual bowls.


Top with the garnish and serve immediately. Enjoy!


Do you have a favorite way to use beans in soup? And, do you have any favorite international soups that include beans? I'd love to hear it! We're just at the beginning of Fall. I have lots of weeks to make more bean soups for dinner.


You may find Bush's Best Beans...
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*Disclosure: I received compensation for recipe development and generating social media traction. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of The Women Bloggers, LLC, or the manufacturer of this product.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Go, 'Dores! Pickled Beans


So, you already saw that I got a bounty of heirloom tomatoes from my friend Farmer Jamie of Serendipity Farms, right? I made Heirloom Tomato Chutney with some of that. I also picked up ten pounds of green and wax beans. 



About the name - Go, 'Dores! - the toreador is the mascot of my son's high school. And their school colors are green and yellow. So, I thought these green and yellow pickled beans would be the perfect gift for his teachers. They will make a delicious garnish in their Fall Break bloody marys! Cheers.


Ingredients
  • 5 pounds organic beans
  • 6 C distilled white vinegar 
  • 2 C water 
  • 2 T salt 
  • 1 T organic granulated sugar
  • 6 t yellow mustard seeds, divided into 1 t portions
  • 6 t fennel seeds, divided into 1 t portions
  • 3 t pink peppercorns, divided into 1/2 t portions
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • Also needed: 6 jars, lids and rings



Procedure
Sterilize the jars, rings, and lids in boiling water and keep hot. Place 1 t mustard seeds, 1 t fennel seeds, and 1/2 t pink peppercorns into the bottom of each jar.


Trim beans to the shoulder of your jars. Pack the beans into the jars as tightly as you can.

In a large pot, stir together the vinegar, water, salt and sugar. Bring to a boil. Ladle the boiling bring over the beans. Top the jars with lids and rims and tighten to finger-tight. Invert jars on a towel-lined surface to move the spices throughout the jars.


Place in a hot water bath. Simmer for 10 minutes to process. Remove to a towel-lined counter and let cool for 12 to 24 hours. Test jars for a good seal. Refrigerate any jars that do not seal properly. Let pickles ferment for 2 to 3 weeks before eating...just in time for Fall Break. Go, 'Dores!!

Heirloom Tomato Chutney


This week, I picked up a bounty of heirloom tomatoes from one of my favorite farmers, Jamie of Serendipity Farms. But, I realized that twenty pounds isn't really that much when you cook them down into chutney and sugo. I definitely should have ordered more. As in twice as much. Oh, well. Next time.


Each summer, we can tomato sauce, make salsa, and do whatever else we can to preserve the summer's tomato haul. This year, the Enthusiastic Kitchen Elf asked if we could make tomato chutney. Done...


Ingredients make 4 pints of thick chutney or more if you prefer it thinner
  • 8 pounds organic heirloom tomatoes
  • 1 organic white onion, chopped (approximately ½ to 1 C)
  • ¼ C garlic, chopped (approximately 8 to 10 cloves)
  • 1 C organic dark brown sugar
  • ¼ C maple syrup
  • 2 C apple cider vinegar
  • 2 T salt
  • 1 T ground ginger
  • 1 T ground cumin
  • 1 t ground cinnamon
  • 1 t ground hot paprika
  • ½ t ground cardamom
  • ½ t ground pepper


Procedure
Core and quarter the tomatoes and place them - unpeeled - in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until evenly chopped. If you don't have a food processor, core, peel and chop the tomatoes by hand. It'll take a little bit longer, but works just as well.


Combine all of the ingredients in heavy bottom pot; I used my Dutch oven. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer until thickened, approximately two hours. Stir often so it doesn't burn on the bottom.

Prepare canner, lids and jars. I use my double boiler as a water bath.

Ladle the chutney into sterile pint canning jars leaving a little bit of headspace. Wipe the rims and place the two-part lids on the top. Tighten to finger-tight and place in the boiling water.

Water process for 8 minutes and remove to a towel-lined surface Cool for 12 to 24 hours. Check seals, then, store in a dark, cool place.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Stracciatella alla Romana #SoupSwappers


In January, Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm kicked off her new group: Soup Saturday Swappers.

This month Amy of Amy's Cooking Adventures is hosting. And she wrote: "The kids are back in school, so it's time for quick dinner options!" Yes, yes, yes. Whenever I can get home from picking up the boys and have dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes, I'm a happy gal. They can get started on homework while I head to the kitchen.

Quick dinner options are the best! Thanks for the inspiration, Amy.

The Quick Dinner Soup Swap




Stracciatella alla Romana
This is essentially Roman egg drop soup. It can be tossed together in however long it takes your stock to boil. Since I always have quarts of homemade stock in my fridge, this makes a weekly appearance in our dinner bowls. While I prefer homemade stock so that I can control the salt, it works just as well with whatever stock you have in your pantry. The cheese and eggs are whisked together and poured into the bubbling broth to make gli straccetti, or little savory, eggy rags. It's super quick, super nutritious, and super tasty. That's a weeknight dinner dream!


Ingredients serves 4
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/3 C grated Parmesan cheese + more for serving
  • 2 to 3 T fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 C baby spinach
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • freshly ground nutmeg


Procedure
In a soup pot over medium heat, bring chicken broth to a boil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to a simmer.


Crack eggs into a medium mixing bowl and beat lightly with a wire whisk. Whisk in a generous pinch of salt, several twists of the pepper mill and the grated Parmesan.

Pour egg mixture into simmering chicken broth and stir gently until mixture forms little rags. Simmer for another minute or so.

Ladle the soup into individual bowls and stir parsley over each serving. Grate fresh nutmeg over the soup. Serve with more parmesan. Serve immediately.

Perfect Bars = Perfectly Mixed Reviews #MomsMeet #Sponsored

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Moms Meet
I received complimentary product for the purpose of review, 
but all opinions are honest and they are my own. This page may contain affiliate links.

Perfect Bars
These are protein bars crafted with nut butters - peanut butter, almond butter, and cashew butter - as the base. They are blended with organic honey for a creamy consistency. They are all gluten-free, soy-free, non-GMO, kosher, and Oregon Tilth Certified Organic. They come in a dozen different flavors for the full Perfect Bars and in two flavors for the Perfect Bar Minis.

  • Peanut Butter
  • Almond Butter
  • Blueberry Cashew
  • Coconut Peanut Butter
  • Maple Almond
  • Almond Acai
  • Almond Coconut
  • Carob Chip
  • Cranberry Crunch
  • Fruit & Nut
  • Dark Chocolate Almond (new)
  • Dark Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter with Sea Salt (new)
While they need to be refrigerated for longevity, I was excited to learn that they stay fresh for a week out of the fridge, so they are perfectly fine all day in the lunchbox! The Minis are only available online, but you can find the full-size bars in select retailers. Search for the nearest store here.


Our Thoughts
Through my association with Moms Meet, I received a package of Perfect Bars to try. My family tried the lot of them; I passed out sample packets to friends for their feedback. And, I brought them to picnics and playdates for even more opinions.

I have to admit: I was surprised at how polarizing they really were. Perfect Bars received perfectly mixed reviews from my crew of taste-testers. Here are some of the comments and photos...

"A bit chalky, but interesting blueberry bursts of flavor."

"The perfect amount of peanut butter and a touch of coconut in every bite!"

"A great post workout snack, rich with peanut butter and just a tad sweet!"

One of my sons tried a few flavors, but groaned when he saw them in his lunchbox. "Mom," he complained, "no one likes these." What do you mean 'no one'? "Well, I let some friends try them at school...and we all think it's just like eating peanut butter. Really, really sweet peanut butter." So, he wasn't a fan and, apparently, neither were his friends. I did hear from one of the moms the same complaint from her daughter - they are too peanut-y!


My other son liked it for that exact same reason. "It's like when I was little and you just gave me a spoonful of peanut butter as a snack!" 

A friend sent me this message: "We did like the almond ones, fairly unanimously, and the rest were 'meh,' also unanimously." 


My husband was in that same camp; he preferred the almond butter ones. And, while I am not a huge fan of bars, it's usually because they are just too sweet. Perfect Bars are sweet, but not cloyingly so. I enjoyed the Blueberry Cashew, but preferred the almond butter minis for their more savory taste and their size. So, I will continue to buy the ones we liked and skip the varieties that were simply 'meh.'

You may find Perfect Bar...
on the web
on Twitter
on Instagram

*Disclosure: I received this product for free from the sponsor of the Moms Meet programMay Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms Meet blogger, I agree to use this product and post my opinion on my blog. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of May Media Group LLC or the manufacturer of this product.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Grilled Octopus & Potatoes Salad #fishfridayfoodies


It's time for Fish Friday Foodies' September event. We are a group of seafood-loving bloggers, rallied by Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm, to share fish and seafood recipes on the third Friday of the month. This is, easily, my favorite recipe sharing event of the month. I always come away with a list of recipes that I just have to try!

This month, Wendy is hosting. She asked us to toss some fish or seafood on the grill and share it with you all. 

One of our favorite appetizers is grilled octopus. We order it anytime we see it on the menu. So, I thought it would make a nice addition to our round-up. It does take time as the octopus is braised, then marinates overnight, and is grilled just before serving. But, I think, it's worth the effort!

The Grill Line-Up



Grilled Octopus & Potatoes Salad

Ingredients
Octopus
  • one 5 to 6 lb. octopus, beak removed
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • one 1” knob fresh ginger, peeled
  • 2 T hot chile paste
  • 2 t coriander seeds
  • 2 T fish sauce
  • 1 T freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 T unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 C sake
  • 1 C fish stock (or vegetable stock)
  • 2 C water
  • 1 T toasted sesame oil
  • Also needed: grill pan (I like cast iron) or an actual grill
Potatoes
  • 2 pounds baby potatoes (I like to use different kinds and colors for visual interest)
  • 1 organic onion, peeled and cubed
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • olive oil
Sesame Vinaigrette
  • 2 T rice wine vinegar
  • 6 T olive oil
  • 1 t toasted sesame oil
  • black sesame seeds, optional


Procedure
Octopus
Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven or heavy lidded pot. Add garlic, ginger, chile paste, and coriander seeds, cooking until fragrant, approximately 3 minutes. Add fish sauce, lime juice, vinegar, sake, and stock. Pour in 2 C water and bring to a boil.

Add octopus to liquid, reduce heat, and partially cover pot. Simmer gently, turning octopus occasionally, until flesh is tender enough to cut with a spoon, approximately 60 to 70 minutes. 

Pour sesame oil into the cooking liquid. Let both the octopus and the liquid cool. Then pour the liquid over the octopus in a dish with a lid and marinate in the refrigerator overnight. Bring the octopus to room temperature before cooking. While the octopus is warming, cook your potatoes.


Potatoes
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Place bite-sized pieces of potato and onion in a large mixing bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat. Turn the potatoes onto a parchment-lined piece of paper. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 40 minutes. The potatoes will be browned and crisped on the outside, soft on the inside. 


Octopus
Heat a large skillet or a grill pan, preferably cast iron, over medium-high heat. Slice the octopus into large pieces - I like to keep the tentacles mostly intact and cut the body into 2" cubes or so. Grill to get nice char marks on the octopus.

Sesame Vinaigrette
In a mason jar, pour the rice wine vinegar, olive oil, and sesame oil. Add in the black sesame seeds, if using. Place the lid on the jar and shake to emulsify.

To Serve
Place the potatoes in large mixing bowl. Toss with vinaigrette and scoop into a serving bowl. Lay octopus pieces over the top and serve immediately.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

My Produce Soapbox + Veggie Wash Product Review #AppleWeek #Sponsored

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Veggie Wash in conjunction with #AppleWeek 
Product for this post was provided and this page may contain affiliate links.

As we prep for online blogger events, often event sponsors with send us samples or items to use in our posts. When items began rolling in for #AppleWeek, I received a sample bottle of Natural Veggie Wash by Beaumont Products.

Before I get to my thoughts on the product, I'm going to climb on my soapbox for just a moment.


My Produce Soapbox
In a perfect world, we’d all have the food budget to buy only organic, grass-fed, and pasture-raised meats and purchase only organic, locally-grown, and in-season produce. It makes a difference to our bodies and our planet.

The reality is that it's not always feasible to do so. So, I prioritize and always get organic options of 'the Dirty Dozen;' I sweat the 'Clean 15' less.

I have the printed Dirty Dozen list from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) on my fridge, but here's the scoop. EWG singles out produce with the highest levels of pesticide residues. Each of these foods test positive for multiple pesticide residues and contain higher concentrations of pesticides than other produce. Pears and potatoes are new additions, displacing cherry tomatoes and cucumbers from 2016's list. The Clean 15 indicate produce least likely to be contaminated by pesticides.

EWG’s Dirty Dozen, version 2017
  • Strawberries
  • Spinach
  • Nectarines
  • Apples
  • Peaches
  • Pears
  • Cherries
  • Grapes
  • Celery
  • Tomatoes
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Potatoes

EWG’s Clean 15, version 2015
  • Sweet Corn
  • Avocados
  • Pineapples
  • Cabbage
  • Onions
  • Frozen Sweet Peas
  • Papayas
  • Asparagus
  • Mangos
  • Eggplant
  • Honeydew
  • Kiwi
  • Cantaloupe
  • Cauliflower
  • Grapefruit


However, organic or not, if it didn't come from the garden of a trusted family friend or trusted local farmer, I make sure to carefully wash all produce that we eat. And, even if it does come from the garden of a trusted grower, I make sure to, at least, rinse the produce.


Produce washes are purported to help remove pesticides, wax, dirt, and other residues from your fruits or vegetables. Generally, you spray on the wash, soak or scrub depending on the brand, and rinse. I'm not new to using veggie washes, but I do not think I've ever used this particular brand.

Veggie Wash Ingredients
Water, cleaners made from corn, palm and coconut, citrus oil, sodium citrate (a derivative of citrus fruit), glycerin (from coconut oil) and grapefruit seed extract

Veggie Wash Directions
You can spray the fruit with Veggie Wash, rub for 20 seconds, and rinse thoroughly. Or you can dilute (2 ounces) Veggie Wash in large bowl or half sink full of water, soak and swish for 30 seconds, and rinse thoroughly. 

My Thoughts
I washed 15 pound of apples, zucchini and summer squash, carrots, plums, spinach, and chard using the directions above. I found it easy to use and effective. The spray bottle allows you to be judicious with the liquid. 

Is veggie wash necessary? No, I don't think so. Can you simply just rinse with water or a vinegar and water mix? Certainly. But, when I've used white vinegar to wash my produce, my family sometimes complains that they can smell the vinegar. With this product, all they can smell is citrus.

I think that produce washes give some people peace of mind. And, if that's you, I would recommend you try this. I, myself, will be hunting down a bottle of their organic veggie wash to try it out!

You may find Veggie Wash by Beaumont Products...
on the web
on Twitter
on Instagram

*Disclosure: I received complimentary product for the purpose of review and generating social media traction. My opinions do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the manufacturer of this product.

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