Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Black Bean Dip

I'm also a fan of anything that involves very simple ingredients, especially those you find in your cabinet all the time (those staple items). My friend, Hope, makes a particularly delicious bean dip. I attempted to make something along the lines of what I remembered. I failed miserably at the making it something close to Hope's recipe part. However, what I did create was surprisingly yummy (and not just according to me!) Here's my Black Bean Dip recipe:

Black Bean Dip
1 small handful of diced onion
A pat of butter (maybe a tablespoon?)
1 can of black beans, drained but not rinsed
1 can Rotel, drained but not rinsed
1 small teaspoon of garlic
A little onion powder
Red chili pepper flakes to taste
About 2 cups (a lot) of cheese (your choice - I have used Cheddar/Jack cheese mixtures for a milder touch, and Pepper Jack if you want something a little spicier)

Put the butter in a pan and melt. Sauté the onions in the butter, until very lightly sautéed (not changing color too much – if you want to cut down on spiciness, sauté them longer; if you like spice, add more onions or don’t sauté them at all). After you drain the beans and Rotel, add them to pan on medium heat. Bring to a light boil (just some bubbles in the liquid). Add the garlic, onion powder, and red chili pepper flakes. Turn down to medium low. At this point you want the mixture hot enough to melt the cheese you are about to add, but not hot enough to be bubbling, otherwise it will be messy.
(I used an immersion blender for this next part - see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immersion_blender. However, you could probably puree the mixture in a blender or food processor and then add it back to the pan, bring the heat level back up, and slowly stir in the cheese.)
Using an immersion blender, begin to puree the black bean mixture, while the pot is still on the stove on medium-low. As you puree the mixture, add a shredded cheese of your choice, one handful at a time. I used a Cheddar/Monterrey Jack mixture, but if you want extra kick, try some pepper jack. It is really important to add the cheese in handfuls and completely blend in each handful before adding the next one; if you don’t, or if your heat is too low, you will end up with a black bean mixture that has a cheesy glob in the center. Add cheese until it has reached your personally desired level of cheesiness (I used about 2 cups). Once it is thoroughly blended, transfer to a bowl and serve hot with chips.


Chicken Cordon Bleu

So....I've always loved cooking, and love experimenting in the kitchen. There is a compulsive need within me to take a recipe and tweak it - change a seasoning here, sub an ingredient there, simplify a process, etc. So I thought I might share a couple of recipes on here...and I couldn't really think of anything else to write. :)

I got the basic idea for this recipe from a Tyler Florence recipe on foodnetwork.com. However, I changed a few of the ingredients based on our personal preferences and what was available at our stores and in my cabinet. My hubby and I were very pleased with the results. To quote my husband , it’s “pretty dang good.” Hope you enjoy!

Chicken Cordon Bleu


2 chicken breasts

8 thin slices of Muenster cheese

4 thin slices honey ham

½ cup flour

2 eggs

Splash of water

1 cup Kikkoman Panko bread crumbs (any panko breadcrumb will do, but I found these at Albertson’s and really enjoyed their light super crispy texture)

Italian Seasoning (that yummy mix of oregano, basil, thyme, sage, marjoram, etc. – all those lovely flavors)

Drizzle of olive oil

Salt, to taste

Pepper, to taste


Meat mallet (or a rolling pin or other preferred pounding mechanism)


Jelly roll pan (or any pan with an edge)

3 shallow dishes

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2) Trim all excess fat from the chicken breast.

3) Pound out chicken breast until about a ¼ inch thickness. Tip: Spritz the counter you are working on with water. Lay a sheet of plastic wrap on top on that counter. Spritz that with water and place the chicken breast on the plastic. Spritz a little more water on the chicken and place another piece of plastic on top. Then pound away to your heart’s content. The water helps keep the chicken and your plastic from sliding around (a tip I saw on Good Eats).

4) Once the chicken is pounded out, place two slices of Muenster cheese, then two slices of honey ham, then another two slices of Muenster cheese on each of the breasts.

5) Roll each breast up tightly. Try to tuck the ends in as best as you can. You want the cheese to stay in…well…most of the cheese…if a little runs out into the pan, it makes for a yummy treat for the cook. If your chicken tore, or you’re just not sure how tight the rolls are, you can add toothpicks, but be careful when you go to eat them. Put these rolls in the fridge to firm up a few minutes while you get the next part ready. (You could do steps 2-5 the day before.)

6) Wash your hands!

7) In shallow dish number 1, add the ½ cup flour. Shake a few shakes of Italian Seasoning into the flour and add salt and pepper as well (about ½ teaspoon each).

8) In shallow dish number 2, mix together your two eggs and a splash of water. Add a dash of salt and pepper to the eggs.

9) In shallow dish number 3, add your cup of Panko breadcrumbs. Add some salt and pepper and a good tablespoon of Italian Seasoning.

10) Take your chicken rolls out of the fridge. Dip each one into the flour mixture, egg mixture, and breadcrumb mixture. Try to coat the chicken thoroughly in each mixture.

11) Place in the pan and bake about 35-45 minutes depending on the size of the chicken breasts.