Black Bean Soup with Salsa Verde

Black Bean Soup with Salsa Verde

Fiesta in a Bowl
Black Bean Soup with Salsa Verde

This is one sassy black bean soup. It is easy to make and gets a kick of heat and smoky authentic flavor from the addition of fire-roasted salsa verde added at the end of cooking. Let each diner go crazy with the garnishes according to their own taste: pickled red onion, garlic crema, tomato, jalapeño, and cilantro all add to this fiesta in a bowl. The black bean canvas is artistically painted with a array of flavors, textures, and colors. 

With only 4 ingredients (tomatillos, jalapeños, salt, and water) –  our favorite Salsa de Molcajete Verde from the refrigerated section at the supermarket, adds robust Mexican taste without having to take the extra steps to roast chiles and tomatillos over an open flame. 

Black Bean Soup with Salsa Verde Recipe

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Heavenly Farmer Cheese Blintzes

Farmer Cheese Blintzes

Heavenly Farmer Cheese Blintzes

An enjoyable dinner at the new Bugsy & Meyer’s Steakhouse here in Las Vegas and the approaching Jewish High Holy Days curiously inspired us to make homemade blintzes.

We discovered that infamous Jewish mobsters Bugsy Siegel and Meyer Lansky were huge fans of the Cheese Blintzes at Ratner’s Restaurant. Founded in 1905 and located on the Lower East Side of New York City, Ratner’s did not serve meat in deference to the kosher prohibition against mixing milk with meat. They served a Jewish kosher dairy menu with cheese blintzes as one of the most loved dishes.

Growing up, our Jewish pancakes were always stuffed with farmer cheese, but, alas, not the easiest cheese to find in modern times… As luck would have it, my friends at Lifeway Kefir make Farmer Cheese that is happily having a resurgence. It is a cultured soft cheese made from an old world recipe with a distinctive tangy flavor, and packed with probiotics. Feeling nostalgic for Jewish comfort foods from our youth, we found the perfect authentic filling for our blintzes.

We prefer our blintzes cooked in browned butter for a nuttier taste and on the slightly crispy side, always served with the obligatory sour cream and lots of other complementary toppings. Here’s our recipe….

Farmer Cheese Blintzes Recipe

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Vegan Chicago-Style Hot Dog

Vegan Chicago-Style Hot Dog

Vegan Chicago-Style Hot Dog

I’m taking a risk. I hope my Chicago friends and family won’t be mad that I am sharing a Vegan hot dog, but please hear me out. All these authentic Chicago-style hot dog “fixings” will really give you the Chicago dog experience.

Even ardent meat eaters might eschew hot dogs due to ingredients and additives in addition to beef or other meats – such as corn syrup, salt, potassium lactate, hydrolyzed beef stock, natural flavor, sodium phosphate, sodium diacetate, sodium erythorbate, sodium nitrite, sheep’s casing…

So try a “a real vegetarian frankfurter” as Field Roast Grain Meat Co. calls it. Simply made from grains and vegetables, it is very tasty, balanced, and well-seasoned.

Now here is the best part, a Field Roast frank has 3 to 4 times the amount of protein as a regular hot dog, sporting 20g in one link with no cholesterol. It has 6g of fiber compared to zero in a hot dog and much less saturated fat as well. Interested?

How To Prepare a Vegan Chicago-Style Hot Dog

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Savory Greek Yogurt Parfait

Savory Greek Yogurt Parfait

Savory Greek Yogurt with Kale Pesto
Recipe by Nicole Putzel

With the summer solstice fast approaching, I decided to choose a recipe from the “Summer” section of Nicole’s veggie-centric cookbook, The Seasoned Plate: Delicious and Healthy Real Food.

This Greek Yogurt parfait is super fresh, colorful, and mighty flavorful.  Kale pesto is simultaneously earthy, nutty, garlicky, and salty. All these savory flavors harmonize with the creamy yogurt and are layered with blackberries, tomatoes, avocado, and walnuts for a delightful healthy cool lunch on a hot day.

Yogurt Parfait Recipe and Cookbook Giveaway!

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Vegetarian Springtime Rigatoni

Vegetarian Springtime Rigatoni

Rigatoni with Broccoli, Cherry Tomatoes, Arugula, and Buffalo Mozzarella
Recipe by Nicole Putzel

All hailing from Chicagoland, Chef Nicole Putzel and I were virtually introduced a few years back by our mutual friend and discerning foodie, Peg. We recently thought it might be fun to collaborate on some of our cooking experiences, especially during these challenging times.

Nicole sent me a copy of her delightful book just published last year, The Seasoned Plate: Delicious and Healthy Real Food. She says, “This cookbook is the result of a beautiful recipe: one of food, friendship, and wellness, told by the seasons.”

Throughout the seasons, Nicole would create a vegetable-centric recipe every Friday, often harvesting the produce from her own organic garden. Her friend Photographer Claudia Chocano would shoot the dishes, after which they would partake of the fruits of their labors together.

The first recipe I chose from the Spring section was this fresh, vibrant, vegetarian rigatoni dish. Nicole wrote, “This colorful pasta dish came together on an evening  when my house was filled with company and my guests asked for a tour of the vegetable garden. The broccoli, arugula, and basil were all ready for harvest and everyone was hungry, so voilà! This was a true crowd pleaser.”

Springtime Rigatoni Recipe and Cookbook Giveaway!

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Heirloom Bean and Tomato Crostone

Heirloom Bean and Tomato Crostone

Heirloom Bean and Tomato Crostone

Have you been baking a lot of bread during this pandemic time? More than you and your family can possibly eat? Maybe you have some slices in the freezer? Here is a delightful meatless meal to use the remainder of the bread that may be becoming a little hard and stale.

The flavorful bean broth rehydrates the toast…and for such a simple dish, this crostone is really extraordinary. Butter AND olive oil add rich mouthfeel while colorful cherry tomatoes add sweetness. Fresh thyme adds herbaceous earthiness while yellow eye beans bring a deep creaminess. It’s a peasant-style vegetarian dish drenched in flavor and texture, and is extremely satisfying. And extremely economical.

Heirloom Bean and Tomato Crostone

Heirloom Bean and Tomato Crostone Recipe

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Cooking in Challenging Times

Chickpea Stew with Lots of Veggies

Chickpea Stew with Lots of Veggies
Kale, Cabbage, Spinach, Carrot, Onion, Celery, Tomato

We are cooking in some challenging times, my friends. But we can do this and we can do this well! Look in the fridge and get excited!

We are cooking without the luxury of just popping over to the supermarket to get whatever ingredient our original recipe requires.

Today’s meal started in the pantry with a can of chickpeas and progressed to the veggie drawer in the fridge. There was a very small head of cabbage left over from my Stuffed Cabbage rolls. Less than a half bag of pre-washed spinach, and an aging bunch of curly kale.

Staples of carrot, onion, celery and garlic are almost always on hand. It was here that this hearty, healthy, satisfying stew recipe began to take shape.

Also, don’t underestimate dried herbs. They definitely have flavor and can substitute for fresh in these unusual times. Hopefully the dried herbs in your pantry are not too old!

Chickpea Stew Recipe

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