bcmom's kitchen

bcmom's kitchen

Friday, May 15, 2015

Southwestern Black Bean and Barley Salad

I've had a thing for barley recently, and really love this Curried Chicken and Barley Salad, though my husband mentioned that he isn't a huge fan, so I went looking for another kind.  I came across this one on Pinterest and just had to try it.  I'm a huge fan of all these flavors together, so I'm hoping he'll be liking it too.  Now that the weather has started to warm up, I need some good salads to serve for dinner - instead of the soups I rely on in the winter months.

I made this to take for a potluck, so I haven't done much more than just taste it - to adjust for seasonings, of course - but the couple bites I had were amazing.  So good!

Southwestern Black Bean and Barley Salad
adapted from BetterRecipes

  • 3 cups cooked pearled barley
  • 2 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 cup frozen corn, rinsed
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/4 cup onion, diced small
  • 1/2 jalapeno, seeded & finely chopped
  • 1 handful cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • Juice & zest of 1/2 Lime
  1. Toss cooked barley, diced tomatoes, corn, black beans, red pepper, onion, jalapeno, and cilantro in large bowl, 
  2. Sprinkle with salt, garlic powder, cumin and chili powder. Add lime zest and juice and mix thoroughly.
  3. Taste and add more salt as needed. Refrigerate.

I used more barley than the original recipe called for.  Did I mention that I'm a huge fan?  I also used garlic powder and salt instead of garlic salt - mainly because I couldn't find the garlic salt when I looked for it.  I didn't think it needed any additional salt when I tasted it, but it's still a good idea to taste it and adjust according to your tastes.  I'm thinking this will be really good served with some tortilla chips, for some crunch and a little added salt.  Also, I bet this would be great wrapped up in a tortilla. With avocado.

Serve with some grilled chicken - with taco seasoning - maybe?  So many options.  He better like this stuff.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Overnight Coffee Cake

I've been making this coffee cake for a long time.  It's so convenient - mix it up the day or night before, refrigerate it overnight, and bake it in the morning.  Warm fresh-baked coffee cake for breakfast or brunch.  What could be better than that?

Actually, I think I may have just figured out how to make this coffee cake even better - after all these years!  Add banana!  I don't know why I never thought of it before, but this past weekend I added a layer of chopped banana between the cake batter and the topping.  It baked up ooey gooey and yummy.  I may just be adding bananas from now on.  For now, I'll leave the bananas as optional - while I let my imagination go wild thinking of all the other fruits I can add and should have been adding all these years.

Overnight Coffee Cake
adapted from The Best of Mennonite Fellowship Meals

  • 2/3 cup butter
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup chopped nuts
    and/or 1/2 cup coconut
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  1.  Cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well. Stir in buttermilk.
  2. Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt.  Stir into butter/sugar mixture and mix well.
  3. Spread batter into greased 13x9" pan.  OR divide between 2 round cake pans.
  4. Mix all ingredients for topping and sprinkle over batter.  Variation: cut up 2 bananas and spread over batter before adding the topping. Refrigerate overnight or for at least 8 hours.
  5. Bake at 350° for 45-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted near the middle comes out clean.

I usually make this in the 13x9" pan. This time I wanted to try the banana but I wasn't sure I wanted it on the whole cake, so I used the 2 round pans.  I spread a layer of banana on top of the batter in one of the pans before sprinkling the topping on, and I did the other pan like normal.  I should have just used 2 bananas and gone with the whole 13x9" cake.  It was that good!

When the kids were little I used to bake this cake in the two round pans all the time.  We'd have one to eat, and I'd freeze the other one for later.  If you use the disposable foil cake pans, one of them will fit nicely into a gallon zipper bag.  My cake pans won't fit, so we just had to eat both cakes.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Frozen Chocolate Covered Banana & Peanut Butter Bites

It's time again for Secret Recipe Club reveal!  My secret blog assignment this month was Not Enough Cinnamon.  Born and raised in Paris, Marie now lives in Sydney, Australia.  Her blog is full of unfussy recipes you can actually make, with simple ingredients you probably already have. I love that approach! Many of Marie's recipes also focus on health and using real, unprocessed ingredients.

There were so many yummy sounding recipes to choose from!  Some that caught my eye were:
I'm pretty sure I will be trying several of those recipes!  But the second I saw this recipe for Chocolate Covered Frozen Peanut Butter & Banana Bites, I knew I had to try it.  To be honest, I wondered why I'd never thought of it.  You're wondering the same thing right now, aren't you?  Three perfect flavors together, frozen, in bite-sized pieces. What could be better? 

Frozen Chocolate Covered  Banana & Peanut Butter Bites
from Not Enough Cinnamon

  • 3 medium-ripe bananas
  • 1/4 cup peanut butter
  • 10 oz dark chocolate
  • coconut oil (optional)
  1. Slice bananas and place on baking sheet lined with parchment paper or silicon mat.
  2. Put peanut butter on half of the banana slices and place a second slice on top.  Place in freezer and freeze for at least 1 hour.
  3. Break chocolate into pieces and put 2/3 of it in a double boiler or place a heatproof bowl over a small saucepan filled with simmering water. On low heat, stir chocolate until melted. (Or place chocolate into a microwave safe bowl. Microwave on medium power for 30 seconds, stir, then repeat at 15 second intervals until the chocolate has melted.) Add the remaining 1/3 of the chocolate and keep stirring until it is fully melted. This is to allow the chocolate to have a glossy texture and to set correctly.
  4. Remove bites from the freezer and dip them in melted chocolate. Working quickly, so bites don't begin thawing, dip one bite at a time in melted chocolate and roll it to cover all sides. Use one fork to remove bite from chocolate and a second fork to remove excess chocolate and arrange bite back on baking sheet. You may want to leave most of the bites in the freezer and work with a few at at time so they don't start getting mushy.
    Note: I have not worked with chocolate much, so I had some issues with this.  The frozen bites made my chocolate stiffen up so that I couldn't coat any more of them.  I added about a T of coconut oil, stirring that into the chocolate, over low heat, until it was smooth and shiny again, and then I could coat the rest.  Only use coconut oil as needed.
  5. Once all the bites have been coated in chocolate, return them to the freezer and freeze for at least 3 hours.  Slide a butter knife under each of the bites to remove them from the baking sheet without losing any of the chocolate and store in a covered container in the freezer.  Enjoy!

Oh yum!  I pretty much always have frozen bananas in the freezer.  Yes, they're great for making a batch of banana muffins, but they're also the perfect snack on a hot day.  Add some peanut butter and chocolate, and it's even better!  The hardest thing is going to be not eating all these at once.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Grow Sprouts in a Glass Jar

I never had sprouts until I went to college, and then I fell in love with them.  After college and marriage, I occasionally bought alfalfa sprouts in the grocery store, but then I stopped because they were fairly expensive and not always good.  Then I mostly forgot about them until a couple years ago when a friend of mine mentioned that she had been growing her own sprouts, and she gave me some seeds so I could try it too.

Since then I've been growing my own sprouts regularly.  It's easy.  Very, very easy.

Grow Your Own Sprouts

You will need:
  1. Place about a Tablespoon of sprouting seeds in jar, and put the cheesecloth or nylon over the mouth of the jar and secure it in place.
  2. Cover seeds with water and allow to soak overnight, or 8-12 hours.
  3. The next morning, pour water out and add more water.  Swirl seeds around in the water a bit to rinse them and then pour the water back out, draining well so that there is no excess water.
  4. Let the jar sit on your kitchen counter, rinsing and draining them a couple times a day, until they have sprouted and begin to have small leaves.  You want to be sure they don't dry out, but you don't want them sitting in water either.
  5. Once the sprouts have reached the point you like them - usually in 5 days or so, rinse them one more time and place them in a container and refrigerate.  I usually put a folded paper towel in the bottom of the container to absorb any excess water.

Enjoy!  and repeat the process as needed.   Sprouts are good on sandwiches or salads or just eaten by the handful with a sprinkling of sea salt.  So good, and good for you too!

sourdough biscuits make great sandwich buns for lunch

 This isn't exactly a recipe, though in the end you get something really good to eat, so I guess it kind of is after all.  I posted this a couple years ago on my other blog, but when I went looking for it, I had a hard time finding it.  I finally did, so I'm posting here - and fixing the images that somehow disappeared.  (Note: do not link directly to pictures you've posted to Facebook.  They may work for a while, but eventually you will end up with a missing image in your post.)

Friday, April 24, 2015

Strawberry Muffins

I saw this recipe on Facebook, and I just had to try it. I don't think I've ever had strawberries in muffins before, but they just looked so good.  And I happened to have some strawberries in the fridge...

Fresh Strawberry Muffins
from Home of My Heart

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup unbleached flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup coconut (optional)
  • 1-1/2 cups chopped strawberries
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  1. Cream butter and sugar. Add egg and mix well.  Add vanilla and milk.
  2. Mix flour, baking powder, and salt together.  Stir into butter/sugar mixture, just until mixed. Gently stir in strawberries and coconut.
  3. Spoon batter into greased muffin pan.
  4. Combine sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over muffins.
  5. Bake at 400ยบ for 30-35 minutes, or until browned.  Cool 5 minutes in pan, then remove to wire rack to cool.
Makes one dozen muffins.

I cut the sugar down just a bit, because I don't like my muffins too sweet, and strawberries are plenty sweet by themselves.  I also added the coconut, which is sweetened. 

I also increased the bake time. I baked the muffins for 25 minutes, like the original recipe said, but even though they were technically done, they just weren't browned as well as I would have liked.  Baking them the extra 5 to 10 minutes gives them a nice crunch around the edges and enhances the flavor nicely.

I'm thinking of adding rhubarb next time - or adding strawberries to my Rhubarb Muffins.  Some kind of combination of the two.  I bet that would be really good.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Southwestern Hummus

I only recently discovered hummus. Well, in the last few years anyway.  I'm not sure why I never tried it before that, but I'm crazy about it now.  Of course, the best hummus is the kind you make at home, and this recipe for Really Smooth Hummus is my favorite.  I love it with with pita chips and celery especially.

But sometimes (OK, a lot of the time) I just have to try something new.  I had pinned this recipe on Pinterest, and when my friend Jennifer asked me to bring an appetizer when we went over to their house for dinner, I had the perfect opportunity to try it.  (Note: when trying new recipes, it's always good to try them when you're taking food to share with lots of people.  That way, if it's not good, you don't have to eat it all yourself.  And if it is good, everyone thinks you're a great cook.  It's a win-win situation, really.)

This was definitely a win!  This recipe is one of my new favorites.  It's a variation on the traditional hummus, made with Great Northern beans and southwestern spices, and it is yummy and so smooth.  The Great Northern beans blend up so nicely, and this comes together quickly and easily.

Southwestern Hummus
from an Aldi recipe

  • 2 15.5-ounce cans Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • Juice of 1 lime (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1/4 tsp each - garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, paprika, chili powder, salt, black pepper
  • 1 T chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Garnish:
    1/2 Roma tomato, diced
    1 tsp chopped cilantro
    1 tsp. olive oil
  1. In a food processor, combine all ingredients except garnish and process until smooth, 1 to 1-1/2 minutes. Transfer hummus to a serving bowl.
  2. In a small bowl, combine garnish ingredients and place on top of hummus. Serve with vegetables.

This would probably also be good with tortilla chips or maybe pita, but the veggies were perfect.  I especially loved it with the red pepper, celery, and broccoli.  It looked pretty, too!  Of course, I won't always put together an entire veggie tray when I make this, but it was a special occasion.

The original recipe called for an entire Roma tomato in the garnish, but 1/2 was enough.  I guess it depends on the size of your tomato.  This hummus would be good on its own, but that garnish adds a touch of freshness and makes it really special.  A bit of finely diced jalapeno might be nice, too - if you're feeding people who like a little spice.

The consensus is that this recipe is a keeper.  I'll definitely be making it again. 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Spinach and Feta Stuffed Chicken

I've made the Sun-Dried Tomato, Spinach, and Feta Stuffed Chicken Breasts several times since I first tried them. The flavor is just so good.  Unfortunately I'm out of sun-dried tomatoes, but I did want to try some different flavors in my stuffed chicken breasts.  So I went looking for a recipe to change it up a bit but still use the spinach and feta.  The addition of the lemon zest in this recipe caught my attention right away.  I also added just a touch of lemon juice, and I think the flavor turned out great.

Spinach and Feta Stuffed Chicken
inspired by this recipe

  • Olive oil
  • 1/2 a medium onion, chopped
  • 2 or 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 10 ounces fresh spinach
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • a squeeze or two of lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1⁄2 tsp black pepper
  • 1⁄4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  1. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium high heat; add onions and garlic, and cook until onions become translucent.  Add spinach and continue cooking until spinach is wilted. Turn off heat and stir in lemon zest, lemon juice, salt & pepper, and feta.  Set aside.
  2. Place a chicken breast between two sheets of plastic wrap and pound with a mallet or the bottom of a heavy pan until breast is about 1/4" thick.
  3. Spread half of spinach/feta mixture on chicken breast.  Roll chicken breast up, starting with the narrowest end.  Secure with toothpicks and transfer to a baking dish.  Repeat process with second breast.
  4. Drizzle the breasts with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and bake at 350° F for 30 minutes. Let sit for 5 minutes; Remove toothpicks, slice and serve.  Spoon a little of the cooking juices over the top, if desired.
4 Servings

The recipe said to cook the chicken breasts in the skillet after rolling them up, turning them occasionally to get the chicken browned and cooked through.  I don't roll my chicken breasts up well enough to feel that I wouldn't just lose all the filling if I tried that.  There is a lot of filling!  So I just placed my chicken in a baking dish and baked it.  Super simple, which I love.

The skillet-cooked breasts might get a little browner, but you'll notice that my toothpicks came loose on at least one of the chicken breasts, so I probably would have had filling everywhere.  It probably would have tasted just as good, though.

I'll definitely be using this filling again.  (I'm kind of obsessed with spinach right now)  I'm also a dark meat chicken kinda gal, but these stuffed chicken breasts turn out really moist and flavorful.

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