Black Bean Turkey Chili

Black Bean Turkey Chili {Breaking Bland Eats}

 

I’m dreaming of warm California weather today.  Here in the Pacific Northwest, we’re on day number ‘I’ve lost count’ of clouds & rain while my friends to the East are getting the snow storm of a lifetime. Back in November, my husband and I spent an amazing week touring around southern California, which of course included a day at Disneyland. Walking around the park there were a lot of great food choices but I took note of all the people eating hot chili in what we would consider summer weather. Everyone else was bundled in warm jackets and pants while we were sweating in t-shirts and shorts! We may also have been sweating from the 30,000 steps we took while running around the park trying to avoid the line-ups, but either way our definition of cold is clearly very different.

For me, chili is the ultimate winter food and is perfect for feeding a large group of people – say for an upcoming Super Bowl party? (or my bottomless-stomached husband). I like to make a big batch of chili when having friends over – once the chopping is done it becomes pretty hands-off as it cooks, allowing you to be with your guests rather than in the kitchen.  Then your guests or family members can create their own chili bowls by customizing the toppings.  You can also make chili a day or so in advance which is why this recipe has a permanent spot on my make-ahead dinner list.

I’ve been playing around with this recipe for some years now, mixing different types of beans and vegetables and have finally found the perfect combination.  Kale is the surprising ingredient in this chili, but I love how it stands up well to the long cooking time and also I’m happy whenever I can get something green into a meal.  If you want to make this chili vegetarian, which I often do, simply omit the ground turkey and add a second can of beans.

Hope you all are managing to stay warm.  Me, I’ve got a belly full of this chili!

Black Bean Turkey Chili {Breaking Bland Eats}

 

Black Bean Turkey Chili

Serves 6-8 people

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeños, seeds removed and finely diced
  • 10-12 button mushrooms, sliced (4 cups or ~8 oz)
  • 1 796ml can diced tomatoes, including the liquid
  • 1 796ml can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced (2 cups)
  • 2 cups of frozen corn kernels
  • 1 540ml can of black beans, rinsed
  • 1 bunch of kale, middle stem removed and leaves chopped.

Spices:

  • 2 tablespoons Mexican chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper

Toppings:  green onions, cilantro, grated cheese, avocado/guacamole, sour cream, diced fresh tomatoes, sliced jalapeños, hot sauce, tortilla chips, cornbread….let your imagination run wild!

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in a 5-quart dutch oven or soup pot over medium high heat. Add turkey and cook until no longer pink, ~5-7 minutes.
  2. To the turkey add diced onions, garlic, and jalapeños. Cook for 2-3 minutes or until onions begin to soften.
  3. Turn down the heat to medium and add the spices. Stir and cook for 2 minutes, cooking the spices in the oil will develop a deeper flavour and take away the raw spice taste.
  4. Next add the mushrooms, diced and crushed tomatoes. Simmer uncovered for 30 minutes.
  5. Add zucchini, black beans, corn, and kale. Cook for 15 minutes.
  6. Adjust seasoning to taste and continue to cook until most of the liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes.  At this point you can cover the chili and turn heat to low and keep cooking for up to a few hours – the longer it cooks the more flavour you will develop.

 

Kale and Peach Caprese Salad

Kale and Peach Caprese Salad | Breaking Bland EatsThey say moderation is the key to healthy eating.  Well, I seem to lack moderation when it comes to fresh fruits and vegetables in the summer months.  To say that I bought too much fruit on our road trip this past weekend would be an understatement.  But how could I pass up 20 pounds of BC peaches for $12, or fresh sunrise apples, tree ripened prune plums, or field tomatoes? Plus, with all the local garden produce available right now I’ve been up to my ears (literally) with fresh fruit and produce lately.  But that’s a problem I don’t mind having, but I may have to invest in a second fridge…

One of my all time favourite salads is an Italian Caprese salad.  Sometimes the simplest of foods can be the most delicious.  I’ve taken the classic combination of fresh sliced tomatoes, basil, and bocconcini cheese (a type of small fresh mozzarella), and added juicy peaches and kale.  Don’t worry, this isn’t any old kale salad; take a look at these beautiful heirloom tomatoes and peaches. Breaking Bland Eats

 

Breaking Bland Eats The kale is simply dressed in some lemon juice and oil, which when massaged into the kale helps to tenderize the otherwise tough leaves. This salad makes a perfect side dish alongside grilled meat or it’s hearty enough to eat on its own for lunch or dinner. I’ve got the rest of those 20lbs of peaches to deal with and I’m thinking that my favourite peach pie would make a perfect dessert for this weekend.

Kale and Peach Caprese Salad

Serves 4-6

1 large bunch of kale, thick stems removed and chopped into bite sized pieces (~6 cups)
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 tablespoon olive oil

1 large ripe peach, sliced
2 large tomatoes, sliced
1/4 cup chopped basil, ~10 large leaves
150g (5 oz) bocconcini cheese, sliced or cubed depending on the size
drizzle of good quality balsamic vinegar (or balsamic reduction)
salt and pepper

Directions: 

  1. In a large salad bowl, combine chopped kale with lemon juice, oil, and a small amount of salt and pepper.  Massage by hand until all the leaves are coated.  Don’t worry about being gentle, the kale can handle it.
  2. Set the kale aside and prepare the rest of the ingredients.
  3. Before serving, top the kale with the peaches, tomatoes, bocconcini cheese, basil, and drizzle with  balsamic vinegar.

Kale and Peach Caprese Salad | Breaking Bland Eats

Avocado Mango Quinoa Salad


Breaking Bland Eats

Having just returned from our honeymoon I wasn’t quite ready to let go of the bright tropical flavours we enjoyed while we were away. Luckily, I found a sale on perfectly ripe mangos the other day, and I knew I wanted to use them in a veggie-packed quinoa salad.

This salad is like summer on a plate. Filled with vibrant colours, sweet mango, coconut scented quinoa, and a refreshing lime dressing. Feel free to sub in your favourite vegetables or whatever you have on hand. I love using edamame beans (soybeans) in salads, as they provide a complete source of protein, which is great if you don’t eat meat or are just trying to use more vegetable protein sources.

One tip to turn bland quinoa into something delicious is to cook it in something other than just water. I usually like to sauté some onions and garlic first, then cook the quinoa in vegetable or chicken stock. However, for this recipe, I decided to do a play on coconut rice and used coconut milk instead of stock.  The coconut milk provides just a hint of coconut flavour and helps to keep the quinoa from drying out. Fresh lime juice and cilantro make a simple dressing for this salad, and helps to balance the sweetness of the coconut milk.

This recipe does requires a little bit of planning ahead, since you want the quinoa to be cooled completely before you assemble the salad. A speedy way to do this is to spread the quinoa out on a plate or shallow dish when its hot. This increasing the surface area and allows the quinoa to cool much faster. At this point, you can place the quinoa in the fridge and start prepping the rest of the ingredients.  Speaking of prepping mangos, I recently saw this amazing life hack on how to peel a mango, you can see the video here.  Life changing isn’t it?

Avocado Mango Quinoa Salad

Avocado Mango Quinoa Salad

Recipe by Kirsten.  Serves 4 (main dish) or 6-8 (side dish).

For the quinoa:

  • ½ cup dried quinoa
  • 1 cup canned coconut milk*

For the salad:

  • 1 ripe mango, peeled and diced
  • 1 large avocado, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup shelled edamame beans, cooked and cooled
  • ½ pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 medium carrot, grated or julienned
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
  • juice of two large limes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • mixed salad greens (to serve).
  1.  In a medium pot bring coconut milk to a boil, add the quinoa, cover with a lid, and reduce to low heat.
  2. Cook for 15 minutes, then remove from heat, and let the quinoa to rest for 5 minutes. Allow the quinoa to cool completely– see tip above if you are pressed for time.
  3. To assemble the salad, in a large bowl mix the cooled quinoa with the rest of the ingredients except the salad greens.
  4. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and more lime juice if needed.
  5. Serve the salad over a bed of mixed salad greens either as a main course or as a side dish to grilled fish or chicken.

* You can freeze the leftover coconut milk and use it at a later time in your favourite curries, stir-fries, or blended into fruit smoothies.

 

Chickpea Salad with Fresh Mint and Greek Yogurt Dressing

 

Chickpea salad with fresh mint and greek yogurt - BBEIt’s reached that time of year again.  It’s officially too hot to use any appliance in our small, one-bedroom apartment.  Dinner-sized salads have edged out comforting soups and stews on my dinner rotation.  I came home from work needing something quick to eat.  Since I didn’t have any leftover protein in the fridge, I went to my trusty cupboard and grabbed a can of chickpeas. These little beans pack a punch of protein, vitamins and minerals, as well as heart healthy fibre. You’ve heard me talk about fibre before and for good reason.  Most of us simply don’t get enough! By adding more fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and these versatile legumes into your diet, you can easily boost the amount of fibre you eat.

This salad has all the key ingredients of a delicious and satisfying meal-sized salad; crunchy vegetables, tangy dressing, protein-packed chickpeas and a burst of flavour from the lemon and fresh herbs.  I can already picture this salad going perfectly alongside grilled meat or fish, or even wrapped in a tortilla for a quick lunch.

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Spot Prawn Linguine

Spot Prawn Linguine

Growing up I disliked 4 things: peppers, pineapple, pork, and prawns. Maybe I just had a thing against foods that started with ‘P’??

Up until a few years ago, I had only been exposed to those frozen prawn rings, you know the ones with the cocktail sauce? They seemed to make an appearance every Christmas and I just assumed that all prawns tasted like that.  Boy was I wrong.  Spot prawns are in a completely different league and are nothing like the watery prawns of my childhood. They have a wonderful firm texture and a delicate sweetness.  It’s safe to say that I have been converted.

Sunshine Coast Sunset

Gorgeous sunset from our deck

I’m extremely fortunate to have parents that live on BC’s Sunshine Coast.  For the past few years my vacations have consisted of relaxing ocean side and enjoying fresh seafood. Some days we are fortunate enough to catch the seafood ourselves! Each April, before the commercial fishing opens, we try to catch as many Spot Prawns as we can and freeze them to be enjoyed throughout the year.

You can buy fresh BC Spot Prawns between May-June. Spot prawns are caught in traps and hand-picked from those traps, a practice which keeps the fishery sustainable, but also makes these little critters quite expensive.  One tip when preparing the prawns is to use scissors to cut a slit down the back of each prawn. This makes peeling easier once they are cooked, and allows you to easily remove the vein (of poop).  If you want you can peel them before cooking, but I think they look pretty with their shells on.

BC Spot Prawns

Freshly caught BC Spot Prawns

This easy pasta dish really showcases the natural flavour of the Spot Prawns and is simply dressed with garlic, lemon, and a little heat from chili flakes.  Plus, as always, I’ve added tomatoes and spinach for a punch of veggies. If you can’t find Spot Prawns you can substitute your favourite fish or seafood.  I often make this dish using salmon and it’s equally as delicious.

Spot Prawn Linguine

Recipe by Kirsten, serves 4

454g linguine noodles
20 Spot Prawns, deveined, peeled or unpeeled (your choice)
¼ cup butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes or more to taste.
1 pint of cherry tomatoes or 2 large fresh tomatoes, chopped.
2 large handfuls of spinach
juice and zest of 1 lemon
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 to 2 cups of reserve pasta water
Salt + pepper to taste

Directions:

1. Cook pasta according to package directions in salted boiling water.  Reserve 1-2 cups of pasta water, then drain pasta and set aside.
2.  While the pasta is cooking, melt butter with olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat.  Add garlic and tomatoes and cook until tomatoes soften and begin to release their juices 3-5 minutes.
3. Add prawns and cook until they turn pink, about 2 minutes.  Do not over cook.
4. Add lemon juice, zest, and spinach to the prawns and cook until spinach wilts.
5. Mix together cooked pasta and prawn mixture, if it seems dry add small amounts of the reserved pasta water until desired consistency.
6. Stir in parsley and season with salt and pepper.  Serve immediately.

 

 

 

 

 

Fish and Vegetable Stew in a Light Tomato Broth

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With the weather getting colder, soups and stews are starting to make their way back onto my weekly dinner rotation. There are so many different combinations of flavours and ingredients that you could make a different soup each night of the week and never get bored.  Whether you call it a soup or a stew, this rich tomato broth with tender chucks of fish and vegetables comes together quickly and makes a perfect weeknight meal.

Whenever a recipe calls for canned tomatoes I always add just a touch of sugar; this serves not only to neutralize the acidity from the tomatoes but also as a time saver to create a depth of flavour that is usually achieved by cooking tomatoes for a long period of time. The amount of sugar you will need depends on the sweetness of the tomatoes and your own personal preference. Remember the best tool in your kitchen is your sense of taste, so make sure you taste your food as you’re cooking.   It can mean the difference between a delicious meal and a bland disaster!

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Fish and Vegetable Stew in a Light Tomato Broth

Serves 4-6, recipe by Kirsten

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 large carrots, diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
¼ cup white wine
1 28oz can diced tomatoes, juice included.
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste).
½ – 1 teaspoon sugar
2 filets or ~400g red snapper or other white fish, cut into 1 inch pieces.
2 cups of fresh spinach, chopped
¼ cup fresh parsley
¼ cup  fresh basil
salt and pepper to taste

Directions: 

  1. In a large soup pot sauté onions over medium heat until they become translucent but not brown, about 5 minutes. Add the carrots, celery and garlic and sauté for another 2-3 minutes.
  2. Stir in the white wine and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated.  Next add the diced tomatoes including liquid, red pepper flakes, and ½ teaspoon sugar.  Cook for 15-20 minutes.
  3. Taste broth and add salt and pepper to taste, if it’s too acidic at this point you can add another ½ teaspoon sugar.   I prefer my vegetables on the crunchy side but if you like your vegetables a little softer continue to cook for another 10 minutes.
  4. Right before you are ready to serve the stew add the fish and spinach, cook for 2-3 minutes. Stir in fresh herbs and serve immediately with a nice piece of crusty bread to soak up the tasty broth.

{Tip} You can make the tomato base ahead of time up until the point where you add the fish, then when you are ready to eat simply reheat and add the fish and spinach a few minutes before serving.