Monday, December 8, 2014

Red Beans and Rice

Red Beans and Rice

This is one of the quintessential New Orleans dishes, right up there along with gumbo and jambalaya.  It is a New Orleans tradition to eat this dish on Mondays.  You can easily leave out the meat and make this dish vegetarian since the beans pack a bunch of protein, but the meat adds so much flavor so I always include it.  This recipe is more of a method than strict instructions.  Red beans are versatile, you can use whatever meat (or meat bones) you have lying around.  You can also use up extra veggies (peppers, onions, celery) and even throw in any homemade stock.  I almost always soak the beans overnight the night before I plan to make this dish, but you could skip that step and increase the cooking time.  Don't forget to serve with French bread for dipping and hot sauce for topping.

-1 lb red beans, rinsed, soaked overnight, drained and rinsed again
-2 Tbsp olive oil
-1 onion, diced
-1 bell pepper, diced
-4 cloves garlic, minced
-1 lb smoked andouille sausage, sliced (I like the spicy Cajun variety)
-1 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp black pepper
-1/4 tsp cayenne peper
-1 tsp dried thyme
-2 bay leaves
-2 Tbsp hot sauce
-6-8 c water
-cooked rice

Heat olive oil in large pot over medium heat.  saute onion and bell pepper until soft (5-10 minutes).  Add garlic and cook 1 additional minute, stirring constantly.  Add sausage and cook 5 additional minutes.  Add beans and fill with water until the beans are just barely covered.  Add salt- hot sauce and stir.  Increase heat to medium high and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer on medium low for 1- 1.5 hrs, stirring every 10 minutes (or so).  If beans become too dry add more water while cooking... I like them pretty thick and not soupy, but that's just personal preference.  Once bean are desired tenderness remove from heat, taste and adjust seasonings.  Serve over rice, with parsley or scallions for garnish, hot sauce and Tony's seasoning for sprinkling, and French bread for dipping.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

RADIANT {announcing a new monthly ladies gathering}

I am so excited to announce a new monthly ladies gathering called RADIANT that my friend Heather and I are starting in January.
This is for ALL. Whether you would identify yourself as a Christian, or not. Whether you are a part of a church, or you have never entered the walls of a church. This is a safe place. A place to come be. To connect. To question. To share. To receive.

In the Bible, when people encountered Jesus they were changed. They were healed and made whole with new hope breathed into their lives and circumstances. We believe God still does this today. That when we encounter Him we are changed. Our goal is to create an atmosphere where people can encounter God through a time of worship, teaching and connection with others, and that as a result we will each leave with a more keen awareness of the always present God in us, our wholeness in Him and His purposes for our lives. Join us, as we do this each month.

Our first monthly meeting will be Thursday January 8, from 7-8:30 pm.  Our January topic will be "A Fresh Start". Join us for worship, teaching and testimonies of God's transforming love, and come expectant to have new hope breathed into your life and circumstances.  Check out the event page on facebook.


Saturday, December 6, 2014

Dark Chocolate Sea Salted Toffee

This is yet another recipe from the book Bread and Wine.  Every recipe in that book is just outstanding!  Several of the recipes have been in my favorites rotation since I first read the book a year and a half ago.  This toffee though... it's buttery, chocolatey, salty perfection!  I have made it several times and it always gets oohs and ahhs.  I follow Shauna's recipe as listed below, except I use way more than the 1 tsp of salt that she calls for.  That is way too light for my taste, and I tend to find that some salt falls off when I break the toffee up so I eyeball it and shake with a heavy hand directly from the canister.  As pictured above, I decided to forgo my traditional Christmas cookie baking this year and hand out little packages of this toffee instead.  With only 4 ingredients, and no need to heat my oven {if you don't live in New Orleans you may not understand why this is a problem in Dec., but it has been over 70 every day for the last week here and we have had our a/c running} I have concluded that toffee instead of cookies was definitely a win this year, and may need to be a tradition going forward.

Dark Chocolate Sea Salted Toffee

Shauna Niequist, Bread & Wine

-1 cup butter (2 sticks)
-2 cups sugar
-1 cup dark chocolate chips
-1 tsp coarse sea salt

In a saucepan, combine butter and sugar, and bring to a boil.  Over medium-high heat, keep stirring until it turns a deep amber color.

Remove from heat and pour onto a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  Refrigerate at least 30 minutes, or until cool and solid to the touch.

Melt chocolate chips in a glass bowl over a pot of gently boiling water.  When the chocolate is smooth, pour it over the toffee and spread with a spatula.  Sprinkle sea salt, and then refrigerate until cooled and solid.  Break into irregular pieces.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos

I have made this recipe several times now but have forgotten to take a picture each time, so I'm just now finally getting around to posting it.  I always double the recipe if serving more than me and Jeremy, but we like leftovers around here.  I serve them with the goat cheese mentioned, cilantro, radishes, assorted hot sauce (I particularly like the Tabasco brand Chipotle and Jalapeno hot sauces) and sour cream.  One time we even had them with some shredded pork and homemade pickled red onions and banana peppers and that was delicious as well.  The only change that I make is to add a few Tbsp of olive oil, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper and 1 Tbsp brown sugar to the garam masala when tossing it with the sweet potatoes.  Sweet potatoes and black beans are one of my current favorite flavor combinations and goat cheese on anything is always the way to my heart.