Tabil Spiced Chili over Roasted Potatoes

I am still on a quest to share uses for Tabil spice mix with the world – particularly the subset to whom I gave home roasted Tabil as a Christmas gift.  The presence of cumin and red pepper flakes speak to chili, and the rest of the tabil ingredients (coriander, caraway and garlic) seemed different enough to twist the chili up a bit.  I also thought that a different base than rice would be nice.  We do fall back on rice a lot around here, and although I’m glad to have it (and my son could probably eat it 3 times a day), nutritionally speaking, variety is indeed a spicy and healthy thing.  Enter the much maligned potato.  Potatoes have been bred into giant, dry, starchy behemoths that are meant to be smothered in fattening dairy products.  However, the little colored potato with all of it’s positive nutritional status is turning up in all kinds of places.  I recently got 5 lbs. of organic little red taters for 4.99.  That’s cheaper than the rice I use.  Woo hoo!

I’m thinking that all of you are as ready for simple as I at this time of year, and the Tabil helps keep this simple.  If you don’t have any Tabil, it is pretty easy to make* and once you have it…. next time will be really easy!  (Or you can buy it here).  If roasting potatoes does not seem simple, then by all means make some rice – but the rest of this recipe is really quick and easy.

Tabil Spiced Chili

About 2 lbs. red potatoes cut into small chunks for roasting or rice
Oil for sauteeing onion
1 Red onion, diced
1 Tbsp + 1 tsp Tabil spice mix
1 Tbsp chili powder
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes (I use Muir Glen because the cans do not have BPA in the liner)
1 6 oz. can tomato paste (Muir Glen again – same reason)
1 bunch swiss chard (or other hearty green) washed and cut or torn into pieces
1 – 2 colored peppers cut in chunks
1 small can (15 oz. ) black beans, rinsed and drained

Potatoes:
If roasting potatoes – allow 30 – 45 minutes at 400, depending on how small you cut the potatoes.  I made these bite sized because they are the base of the chili, therefore they roast faster and get crispier.  We snuck some before adding chili and I think I will roast potatoes this way always 🙂
Either toss it all in a bowl with oil to coat (I prefer avocado because it withstands high heat), or just stir oil in right on the roasting pan.  Add some salt to taste and stick in the oven.  Stir after 15 or 20 minutes.

20150113_174450-001Chili:
Saute onion until becoming translucent
Add spices and stir until fragrant
Add tomatoes & paste, stirring occasionally over medium low for 10 minutes to heat
Add swiss chard and cook until wilted
Add peppers and beans and let simmer for another 5 or so minutes

Steamy!!

Steamy!!

Serve over the potatoes

The peppers were crunchy, everything else soft and spicy.  We all enjoyed this very much.  My son, who is a charter member of the no-food-touching club chose to eat his potatoes on the side.

20150113_175305-001

My husband and I mixed it all together and then argued – gently discussed – who would get the leftovers for lunch.  I won!

20150113_175352-001Stay warm friends – soon it will be time for seed catalogs and dreaming of warmer days.  For now, I’ll try to heat up my insides a bit with food and laughter.

* If you do decide to make your own Tabil, I have since made it in my Vita Mix which was faster and an easier clean up than my coffee grinder.  In addition, I recommend not adding garlic powder until after grinding to avoid sending a cloud of garlic dust into the air 😉

In addition – we are starting a new series on Well-Being which Little Sis opened a week or so ago.  I’ll be posting the second soon.  If you or someone you know is wanting to eat better and feel better check out our e-book, Baby Steps to Better Health: Winning the Battle with Junk Food for Families and Individuals.

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Googling Up Easy Delish Dinner

I’ve been a little busier than usual lately – I got some real live PAID work, for which I am extremely grateful, but which throws a pretty big wrench in my normal task accomplishment rhythm.  My fabulous bathroom renovation has been, shall we say, stalled (har, har), the garden’s behind, I’ve stopped planning about 15 home improvements and I’ve had a harder time than usual planning food.  Still spinning a bit I guess.  I’ll get the hang of it again, but in the meantime, we still have to eat.

So the other night, when I didn’t get to the market as planned, I made a quick survey of the ingredients I had available, and decided to just google them.  I typed in potatoes, green beans, and coconut milk… and up came dinner.  Isn’t technology wonderful?  And I really mean it this time (unlike so many of the times I say that).

There were several posts that featured the same basic idea (a gentle curry), so I settled on the one that looked like it would make the amount of food I wanted, put some rice in the rice cooker, and got to work changing the recipe to suit myself, as I do.  So I give you:

Coconut Curry with Green Beans, Potatoes and Kale – inspired by this version Continue reading

Herbed Naioli or Nutonaise

As you likely know by now, I have become somewhat obsessed with sunflower seed spread.  We eat it all the time, and I’ve been playing around quite a bit with it to see just how far I can vary and stretch this wonderful (and, yeah, cheap) little refrigerator staple.  It started as a cheese substitute for me, and has progressed to a hummus alternative, a pizza topping (oh yes, I like it better than any cheez I’ve tried), the base for vegan pesto, and NOW it’s standing in for the condiment I miss the most, my beloved mayonnaise.

Ahhhh mayonnaise.  Big Sis and I both have an old love of mayonnaise (she may not remember, but she had mayo sandwiches as a kid; I favored ketchup sandwiches – both offerings I now imagine were the result of a very tired Mom).  There is something about the creamy fatness and the slightly sweet salt of mayonnaise that still works for me in theory, although the shiny fat thing sort of turns me off now. I have missed the condiment’s place on my sandwiches, veggie burgers, various summer salads… you get the drift.  It makes me look fondly onto those culinary classes when I followed the advice of the French chefs with abandon.  They were right about a lot of things, and homemade mayonnaise was one of them.  Times have changed for me, however, and while a little mayo now and again will offend neither my sensibilities nor my  overall eating philosophy, I really did want an alternative for a few dishes.  Enter my beloved sunflower seed.

As I was already convinced that this super spread might be the solution to my problem, I started by just making a batch of the spread.  And then the simple addition that changed my condiment world… marinated artichoke hearts.  Yes, artichoke.  I grant you that this takes the spread from one that is cheap to one that is, well less than cheap, this addition made for an indulgent concoction perfect for the uses I had in mind.  I added six artichoke hearts to my batch, about a teaspoon of dried dill (sadly my fresh finished a long time ago), a little extra lemon juice, and an additional clove of garlic.  The liquid in the artichokes made the spread much thinner (in a good way).  I then turned on a the food processor and just let it go.  I left it on for a while during dinner prep, honestly I have no idea how long.  The spread got smoother and smoother.

When it was done (which means I didn’t want the noise of the food processor any more), I had something that reminded me (in flavor) of an herbed aioli and oh do I have a fairly long list of things one can do with an herbed aioli.  You could add a little olive oil and get more of the fatty creaminess, but as I was happy with both the texture and flavor, I opted to leave it alone.  We had it on our veggie burgers and… the real treat… we dipped our roasted potatoes in it and I was transported to a park in Amsterdam where I hovered over a warm and greasy paper cone of french fries that came with a side of garlic aioli.  Stupendous, delish, and all the result of a series of experiments prompted by a visit from a black bear.  Life’s funny, eh?

You Say Potato…

So I’ve never grown potatoes before. Why? I don’t know. Truth is I’ve not grown much in the way of root vegetables until the last few years. Sort of a basic mistrust of what may or may not be going on underground. I like to be able to watch the progress of the food as it grows and potatoes, carrots, beets simply don’t allow you to do that. Yeah, yeah I know. I can watch the part above ground. I’m sorry, but it’s just not the same. I’ve tried carrots with limited success and beets, which we like but don’t need a lot of at any given moment (the pink pee is interesting to my daughter about once every few weeks, then loses its power to increase vegetable consumption). But I’ve never tried to grow the mighty spud. Which is silly, really, because I love potatoes. I mean I really love potatoes. Early in our relationship my husband and I figured out that he had grown up in a rice household and I had, as you might have guessed, grew up in a potato household. Over the years, despite our initial misgivings, we have both come to appreciate the other’s position, but I think I have really won the day. Homemade french fries will do that for you. Yeah, it’s a dirty trick, but somebody has to do it.

Where was I? Right, growing potatoes, so I’m happily clicking away on Pinterest and I come across this:

What’s that you say?  THAT is a potato tower.  You heard me right, a potato tower.  Grow potatoes without using up all of your precious garden space.  Okay, so that idea and the fact that I had 2×2 chicken wire that proved too big to keep rabbits out waiting in the shed convinced me to give it a go.  So I asked my sweetie to pound some stakes in (our street has the word slate in the name, so guess what’s just an couple of inches below the surface) and then we made a round with the discarded chicken wire, securing the back bit by stapling it to the fence.  I was determined NOT to buy new materials for this project because while I am optimistic, I am CHEAP and if it doesn’t work I’d hate to have spent a lot of dough.  I then filled it around the edges with leaves, rather than the recommended straw and supplemented with a little spanghum moss that I had from another project since I thought it might help retain a little moisture.  In the center, compost baby.  Inserted my cut up seed potatoes in layers and filled with compost and leaves until we got about to the top.  Here it is:

Will it work?  I have NO idea.  I’m sure I didn’t follow the directions exactly as that’s how I roll.  While it is my belief that all gardening is an act of supreme optimism, the slapdash version that I usually do is strictly for the glass half-full crowd.  If it does, that’s about 25 lbs of delicious potato magic coming our way.  And if my children have their way, a great many of them will be prepared this way:

Awesome Oven Fries Adapted from the Weight Watchers New Complete Cookbook

  • 1.25 lbs potatoes, peeled (if you must) and cut to 1/2″ fry shapes
  • 3/4 to 1t salt
  • 1/2t sugar
  • 4t oil
  • 1t paprika
  • 1/4t pepper (I use white to avoid kid detection)

Preheat oven to 450.  Lightly grease baking sheets or line with parchment paper (works better).  Combine potatoes, 1/4t salt, sugar and cold water to cover.  Soak 15 minutes, drain &blot dry.  In dry bowl, combine potatoes with oil, paprika and pepper.  Arrange in single layer on baking sheet. Bake, turning as they brown. 35-45 minutes.  Sprinkle with salt.  Voila.  Fan-flipping tastic.  Yes, you should probably make a double batch.

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