Tag Archives: Tomatoes

Domani Star – BRUNCH! *****

Jessica Omelet #2

215.230.9100
57 West State Street 
Doylestown, Pa 18901

CHECK OUT THE BRUNCH MENU!

As I mentioned in my review of Cafe Lift, I am highly critical of brunches served in restaurants. Not only is it my favorite meal of the day, but I also have become quite good at cooking it, so my standards are set pretty high. But Domani Star is one place that I can confidently go for a consistently amazing breakfast…and now that I come to think of it, I do go almost every Sunday!

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The menu features brunch classics like eggs benedict, pancakes, and 2 eggs any style, but it also features unique and memorable dishes like a Bolognese Omelet with asiago cheese, and a Carbonara Scramble with bacon, onions, and parmesan cheese. 

Italian COuntry Scramble.

My personal favorite is the Italian Country Scramble with crispy polenta, fontina cheese, and baby arugula. This dish is to.die.for.

The Jessica Omelet

I also like the Jessica Omelet with avocado, cherry tomatoes, goat cheese, and baby arugula. I get mine with egg whites and a large side of hot sauce and call it a day!

Open Face Sandwich

Another Domani specialty is the Open Face Sandwich with 2 over-easy eggs atop whole wheat toast with avocado, tomato, bacon, and Vermont cheddar cheese with shaved romaine hearts! My dad is a huge fan of this one.

Cappuccino

If you go for brunch, please do not forget to try a cappuccino because they serve one of the best that I have ever had. And if you are a mimosa with breakfast kind of person–which we all know I am!–then feel free to bring a bottle of bubbly (BYOB) and they will supply the OJ. Can’t beat that!

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Filed under Breakfast, Brunch, Buck's County, Italian Restaurants, Lunch Spots, Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Restaurants

{ Homemade Empanadas }

I’ve been hunting for BA’s most delicious empanada for months now, and so far, my favorite contenders for the title also happen to be the spiciest (list of top 10 picks coming soon!). However, finding the right combination of tender meat, flakey dough, and proper spice can be quite a challenge in a country where hot sauce and chili peppers are shunned like the the plague. Also, Argentines don’t like to combine different food groups when it comes to stuffing empanadas (in a manner akin to children segregating their mashed potatoes from their meatloaf, as if an imaginary forcefield was dividing their plate). It’s either meat or cheese….never both in one pastry!

This continues to boggle my mind, because they have all the best ingredients at their disposal…they just never seem to get assembled in the way that I would combine them. I love meat and I love cheese….so why not put them together in one super delicious empanada, rather than forcing me to take a bite of caprese followed by a bite of carne (besides that fact that it always lures me into purchasing two empanadas, of course)?!

In an effort to solve this rather distressing empanada dilemma, I have decided to try making my own! Which brings me to TheGrubDaily’s first ever food event–a DIY Empanada Party, hosted in conjunction with the fabulous KitchenParty.org and LVstudio! I offered my home and empanadas caseras in exchange for good company and a bottle of wine to share! It turned out to be a wild success, as 120 empanadas were served before people began using their paper plates as fans in my tiny, overheated apartment.

I laid out a buffet table with various ingredients for filling the empanadas (chicken, beef, cheese, tomato, act…), and all 25 attendees were given the opportunity to come and make their own creations! With the help of a few native Argentine girls (Valeria and Elvira), everyone was shown how to properly stuff and close the empanada dough and then they were sent into the oven for baking!

The following recipe is a very Traditional Argentine Beef Empanada filling, showed to me by my very dear cleaning lady. The one below it, is a spicy “Gringo” version of that recipe, as adapted by myself. I recommend using Saltena empanada shells (or Goya, if you are in the US), rather than wasting time on homemade ones.

Traditional Argentine Beef Empanada Filling:

{ Ingredients }

  • 1/2 kg (1 lb) of lean ground beef
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 spanish onion, chopped
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 2 beef bullion cubes
  • 2 scallions, chopped (white & green parts)
  • 1/2 cup pimento stuffed green olives, chopped
  • 2 hard boiled eggs, finely chopped

{ To Make the Filling } Heat the vegetable oil in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, and kosher salt. Sautee until the onion is translucent and the garlic is fragrant.

Add the ground beef, breaking it up with back of a spoon. Add the cumin and beef bullion. Cover pot with a lid and allow to cook for 2 minutes.

Mix beef, stirring in scallions and chopped olives. Once the meat is cooked through, remove from heat and fold in chopped egg. Allow to cool and then use for empanada or taco filling.

“Gringo” Spicy Beef Empanada Filling:

{ Ingredients }

  • 1/2 kg (1 lb) of lean ground beef
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 spanish onion, chopped
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small green pepper, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 beef bullion cubes
  • 1/2 cup tomato puree
  • 2 scallions, chopped (white & green parts)
  • 1/2 cup pimento stuffed green olives, chopped
  • 1 yukon potato, boiled and chopped small

{ To Make the Filling } Heat the vegetable oil in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, peppers, and kosher salt. Sautee until the onion is translucent and the garlic is fragrant.

Add the ground beef, breaking it up with back of a spoon. Add the cumin, cayenne pepper, tomato puree and beef bullion. Cover pot with a lid and allow to cook for 2 minutes.

Mix beef, stirring in scallions and chopped olives. Once the meat is cooked through, stir in chopped potato and remove from heat. Allow to cool and then use for empanada or taco filling.

**I like my meat extra spicy, so I also added a couple of dashes of Cholula Hot Sauce while cooking!

Spicy Shredded Chicken Empanada Filling:

{ Ingredients }

  • 4 boneless chicken breasts
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 spanish onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2-1 cup tomato puree
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 2 scallions, chopped (white & green parts)
  • Slice Jalapeños (optional)

{ To Make the Filling } Place chicken breasts in a large stock pot, adding enough water to cover the meat. Heat over a medium-high flame, allowing to simmer until cooked through.

Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly, before beginning to shred chicken (using hands or two forks).

In a large stock pot of a medium high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onions, peppers, and garlic and sautee until the onions are translucent and the garlic is fragrant. Add the cumin, cayenne pepper, green onion, kosher salt, chicken stock, and 1/2 cup of the tomato puree. Return the shredded chicken to the stock pot and stir to combine (if the meat needs more moisture, add more of the tomato puree).

Allow to cook for 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat, allow to cool, and use to as empanada filling or taco meat!

{ To Assemble the Empanadas } Remove an empanada dough from the package and wet one half of the pastry edge using a finger dipped in water. Spoon a your desired filling into the middle and fold over the ends (so moist end meets dry end), pinching hard to ensure that they are properly shut.

Then crimp the edges using a fork or your fingers, as we have done here:

Place onto a greased baking sheet and allow to bake in a pre-heated oven at 350 degrees until the edges and tops are golden brown (about 10 minutes).

Remove from oven and enjoy!

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{ Cilantro Lime Fiesta Rice }

When I was younger, my sister and I would play the “soup” game, combining all sorts of random food items into one container and daring the other to eat the concoction. Too young to understand flavor combinations, these “soups” were usually volatile (although we learned that two delicious things consumed together don’t always equal one magical new thing….just like two beautiful people don’t always make a pretty baby). I haven’t given up on my childish games though, and today–at the age of 22– I revisited the game of “soup.”

The result? This cilantro lime fiesta rice.

It has all of my favorite ingredients, and now 22 years of flavor expertise. It is perfect for a Mexican side dish (fajitas perhaps), a burrito rice filling, and of course, a base for Ropa Vieja. Buen provecho!

{ Ingredients }

  • 3 cups of cooked white rice
  • 1 vine tomato, small dice
  • 1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 jalapeño, small dice
  • 1 can of corn, drained
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 3 tablespoon fresh scallions, chopped
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Kosher salt to taste

{ To Make the Rice } Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir to mix well. If the rice is dry add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and some additional lime juice.

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Romario’s Pizza ***

Locations all over Buenos Aires; you’ll be hard pressed to find a corner without one!

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It is a fact: Argentines love pizza. I dare to say they love it almost as much as their prized bovine. If you want to get a rise out of a Porteno, you can do one of two things: mention politics, or ask which restaurant makes the best pizza. Yes, I just compared Peronism and pizza.

Anyways, one of my new favorite pizza spots in BA is Romarios. It’s certainly not the oldest pizza place or the most famous–in fact, it is a chain (probably, the Argentine equivalent of America’s Pizza Hut). But I think it is delicious! I like to order their standard pizza pies, which come in 3 sizes, and I usually top mine with serrano ham, mozzarella, cubed tomatoes, garlic, olives, and fresh arugala. One slice of this pie probably has just as much sodium as a cup of ramen noodles, but it is worth every ounce of swelling. The cheese is hot and gooey and the crust isn’t too thick on the pizza. Addtionally, they make their pies with the sauce on top of the cheese, which keeps the crust from getting soggy.

Of course, you can also order a cheese and onion fugazette if you’re looking to carbo-load. Fugazette is a very popular form of Argetine pizza resembling a calzone. It is pizza dough stuffed with cheese and onion, olive oil, and herbs. It is delicious, but certainly filling. You can get delicious unhealthy food almost anywhere in BA though, so I suggest sticking to traditional pizza at Romarios.

If the pizza isn’t filling enough, order an empanada or two. They have an onion and pancetta empanada one that is ridiculously good and the spicy beef empanada is amazing.

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{ Turkey Meatballs with Simple Tomato Sauce }

Being that I am half Italian, my idea of comfort food is classic spaghetti and meatballs. When I am sick I crave my mother’s chicken noodle soup, and when I am away from home for long periods of time I crave her homemade pasta dishes. Unfortunately, I won’t be putting my mother’s meatball recipe on my blog anytime soon (as that is my trump card to winning over a man’s heart…aka top secret stuff), but I do highly recommend these turkey meatballs by Giada De Laurentiis. Not only are they significantly healthier than the average meatball, but they are also very easy to make and taste quite delicious (most people don’t even suspect that they are turkey meat!). For those of you that have her cookbook or have seen this recipe online, you will notice that she pairs the meatballs with a quick tomato sauce containing peas (the sauce seen in my photographs below). I gave this sauce a shot, but could not find anything enjoyable about it. I tried adding extra garlic, extra salt, even mushrooms…but there was just no remedy. So I have offered my own simple tomato sauce recipe to serve with the meatballs, which I use as the base for several pasta dishes. If you are looking for a lower carb meal, then serve the meatballs in a bowl with fresh lemon wedges and a generous sprinkling of freshly grated parmesan cheese. Whether atop pasta or served alone, these meatballs are fantastic.

NOTE: If you wish to freeze the remaining meatballs, place them into a one gallon ziplock bag with a few ladles of tomato sauce. I find that the sauce helps to keep them moist.

{ Ingredients for Meatballs }

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 ounces pancetta, finely diced
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 pound ground turkey (I used extra lean)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grate Romano cheese
  • 1/4 fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup plain bread crumbs (I use Panko)
  • 1/4 cup sundried tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

{ To Make the Meatballs } Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium flame. Add the pancetta and cook for about 2 minutes, to render out some of the fat. Add the onion and continue to cook until pancetta is crisp and the onion is translucent (about 5 minutes). Remove from heat and let cool.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the pancetta/onion mixture with the remaining meatball ingredients and mix with hands to combine.

Form the turkey mixture into balls, about 2 inches in diameter. Place onto a foil lined baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Now make the pasta and sauce.

{ Ingredients for Simple Sauce

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 (28 ounce) can of whole San Marzano tomatoes, drained and chopped
  • 2 whole garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil, finely chopped

{ To Make Simple Sauce } Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium flame. Sautee the onion for about 3 minutes, then add the garlic and continue to cook for another minute or two (do not burn the garlic). Add the salt, pepper, parsley, and tomatoes. NOTE: If you like your tomato sauce spicy, then add some crushed red pepper flakes at this time! Cook for 10 minutes, then add meatballs to sauce and continue to heat until warm throughout.

{ To Serve } Laddle tomato sauce over cooked out pasta (I use linguine) and top with 2-3 meatballs. Sprinkle freshly grated Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley over the dish, and enjoy!

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{ Pasta Puttanesca }

Pasta Puttanesca with Grated Parmesan Cheese

After having dinner at La Stalla (read post below), I met up with my girlfriend Jennifer to go out and celebrate St. Patty’s Day in the typical fashion of chugging Irish Car Bombs and drinking pints of green beer! And since Jen and I are always looking for an excuse to dress up themed (cowboy hats to country concerts, Santa hats at Christmas time, ect…), we used St. Patty’s Day as an excuse to rob party city of everything green and sparkly. In major cities, where there are large celebrations for St. Patty’s Day, girls decked out in green apparel like this are the norm. However, we found out that in small rural towns (such as the one we live in), people are not as crazed about drinking holidays and don’t feel the need to get dressed up…at all. I didn’t even see people wearing green tee shirts! That being said, you can imagine just how much Jen and I stuck out in the crowd with our glitter green top hats! We got dirty looks from girls who wanted the attention, and free drinks from the boys giving us the attention. Long story short, our St. Patty’s Day shot glass necklaces were rarely hanging from our necks and certainly put to use, and we ended up requiring a ride home (top-of-the-morning to you dad!) after just two short hours at the bar.

Once we got home, I went scavenging for food and was bitterly disappointed that I had no leftover Puttanesca from dinner. Nothing other than more Puttanesca was going to satisfy drunk-food craving and so I set about to make my own from scratch (much to my mother’s dismay when she say the stove in the morning, with dried linguini caked onto the burners). I make this Puttanesca dish pretty frequently, because it is super easy and relatively inexpensive.

Puttanesca means “food of the whores” in Italian, because it was a staple dish among the poor made with cheap ingredients commonly stocked in the pantry. I choose to make my Puttanesca without anchovies, although they are commonly used in traditional Puttanesca dishes and can be added to my recipe. Tonight, I modified by recipe slightly by adding mushrooms and substituting arugala with baby spinach based on what I had available in my house. The dish turned out incredible, and certainly hit the spot.

If you want a little bit of protein, feel free to add some sliced chicken breast over top the dish! Otherwise, serve hot with Pecorino cheese and enjoy.

{ Ingredients }

  • 8 ounces linguini pasta
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • ½ cup pitted Spanish kalamata olives
  • 2 tablespoons capers
  • 1 tablespoon fresh oregano leaves, chopped or 1 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (less if you don’t like spice)
  • 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • ¾ cup chopped fresh arugala (or baby spinach)
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese

{ To Make the PastaBring a large pot of water to a boil, and add 2 tablespoons salt. Add pasta and cook according to directions on package.

While the pasta is cooking, heat oil in a large skillet over medium flame. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant. Add the parsley, olives, capers, oregano, and crushed red pepper flakes to skillet and sautee for 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and juices and simmer for about 5 minutes. Stir in arugala (or baby spinach) and simmer for 1 minute more, until the greens wilt slightly.

When the pasta is done, drain it and return it to the skillet, combining with sauce. Top with grated cheese and additional red pepper flakes for spice.

**Tip: Do not rinse the pasta after draining it because the sauce does not stick as well to the noodle. The starch is necessary and binding so do not rinse it off.

Tossing the Linguini in with the Puttanesca Sauce

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{ Lentil Salad with Herbs, Tomatoes, and Spinach }

Herbed Lentil Salad with Tomatoes and Baby Spinach

Today I feel like shit…like I’m getting the flu, a migraine headache, and possibly dying. I can’t get out of bed and I could hardly make it past one mile on my run. This is the most exhausted that I have ever felt and I’m not really sure if it’s due to the change in diet or what. Maybe I am going through carb withdrawl, or frozen yogurt deprivation, or maybe I’m just really getting sick. Whatever it is, I feel like a slice of toast and peanut butter with a cold glass of milk might just cure me and I can’t do it. But what I wouldn’t give to have some crunchy chunky peanut butter right now. Yummm. But instead, I’m making Herb Lentil Salad with Tomatoes and Baby Spinach, and no, I am not happy about it! I’ve been eating some combination of 3 egg omelets, spinach salads, and meat for the past four days and I am sick of it. Maybe I feel lethargic because I am in a depression, considering that food is my greatest joy in life and my eating habits are now so repetitive and boring. But hey, diets aren’t supposed to be fun and I only have committed myself to this for 30 days….4 down, and 26 to go!

In an effort to boost my energy, I have decided to make this Lentil Salad recipe by Food Network star, Ellie Krieger. She comes out with a lot of really health conscious recipes, and they are usually pretty tasty, but not generally my first choice, unless I am dieting.

The recipe instructs you to cook out the lentil in a stock pock over the stove, but I suggest just covering them with boiling water in a large bowl and letting them steep for 20 min or so. I find that they tend to overcook when but on the stove and then loose their shape and become mushy, which is gross. Just drain the lentils after they soak and try one to make sure it is soft. If it isn’t, then just repeat the process once more.

Other than that, I followed this recipe verbatim and it turned out pretty good. Of course, it wasn’t toast and peanut butter, but it still left me feeling satisfied. This makes for a great side accompaniment to proteins or serves as a great protein itself, considering the nutritional value of lentils.

{ Ingredients }

  • 1 cup French green lentils
  • Boiling water
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons shallots, diced
  • 3 cups baby spinach leaves
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ¼ cup fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • ¼ cup mint leaves, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

{ To Make the SaladPlace the lentils in a large bowl and cover with boiling water. Cover with towel or lid and allow to soak for 20-25 minutes, or until softened.

Over medium-high flame, heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the shallots and cook until they are softened and fragrant, about 2-3 minutes. Add the spinach and cook until just wilted, about 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes, lentil, basil, parsley, and mint to the pan and stir to combine. Cook until warmed through, about 1 minute. Stir in the lemon juice, salt, and pepper and serve!

I enjoy this salad cold as well!

Nutritional Information:

The total number of calories in this dish are 1269. I got about 5 servings from the recipe, which leads to an average of 253 calories per serving. The nutritional break down is as follows: 44 g of fat, 183 g of carbohydrates, 43 g of fiber, and 55 g of protein. Of course, these figures are for the overall dish, so to find the number per serving, divide each by 5.

Cost of Ingredients:

Total cost of this meal is $15.69, based on the assumption that you have olive oil. Since I already had the cherry tomatoes and baby spinach from previous recipes, this dish only cost me $9 to make. If you get 5 servings out of the recipe (I did), then the average cost per serving is $3.13. My average cost per serving was then $1.80. The lentil salad from Greenstreet Café is $7.50, so again, this is quite a savings on each serving.

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{ Beef and Black Bean Chili }

Beef and Black Bean Chili with Green Onion Garnish

Day one on any diet isn’t too bad. You’re excited about having started something new and you go to bed on that first night feeling satisfied that you spent the entire day eating healthy. Then day two rolls around and the reality sinks in—you’re not just eating healthy for one day, you’re eating healthy indefinitely. Suddenly, it doesn’t feel so good to be substituting your fries for a side salad. Instead, you feel left out as you watch the rest of the world guzzle Coca-Cola and munch on potato chips. Your water bottle and carrot sticks are downright depressing in comparison.

Today, I felt the first painful sting of the diet, and I highly doubt that it will be the last. I started off my morning with the 3-egg Garden Vegetable Omelet and then for lunch went to the Rathskeller (the on campus bar and restaurant) with a group of friends, only to finnd that there was not one thing on the menu that I could eat! Fried Ravioli, Mozzarella Sticks, Jalapeno Poppers, Buffalo Chicken Subs, and my personal favorite, the “No-Yes Fries” (fries smothered with cheddar cheese, bacon, and ranch) were all out of the question. Rather than be high maintenance and attempt to construct a meal that pulled various ingredients from all different menu items, I just decided that I would cook myself a delicious pot of chili at home later. So I jogged home from campus (as I have decided to start running to and from my classes…my apologies to those of you who sit directly to my left and right) and I started prepping up the vegetables for a pot of black bean and beef chili. I got the original recipe from Food Network online, however, I have made so many modifications that I think I can safely call it my own now! I like spicy chili so I make mine with a lot of cayenne pepper, but if you don’t want the heat, then feel free to leave it out. I also add Cholula Hot Sauce while the meat is cooking for some additional spice and flavor, but again, this is optional.

It is really important that you use the leanest ground beef that you can find. It is more expensive, but it makes a huge difference in the consistency of the recipe. I once tried to cut corners and save money by buying a fattier ground beef, and the meat let off so much oil and fat that the chili was almost inedible. This recipe also makes for a great taco meat recipe if you just don’t add all the beef broth, diced tomatoes, and tomato sauce. Instead, add like ¼ cup beef broth and ½ (14.5 ounce) can of diced tomatoes, leaving out the tomato sauce altogether. Let the meat simmer until the sauce reduced slightly and then serve. Since this makes a pretty large amount, I freeze mine in individual serving containers and they hold in the freezer for a very long time. When you are ready to eat, just put in fridge and let defrost for a few hours or use the microwave to defrost and reheat. It tastes just as good, if not even better, than when it was first made! When I’m not dieting, I like to serve this on a bed of white rice or use it to make nacho platters, which are always a late night hit. Again, you can also use it for taco meat if you use less of the liquid ingredients.

{ Ingredients }

  • 2 pounds of lean ground sirloin (90% lean)
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • ½ yellow onion, chopped
  • 4-6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup beef broth, like ½ of a 15 oz can
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 (8 ounce) can of tomato sauce
  • Kosher salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

{ To Make Beef and Black Bean Chili }

In a large skillet or stock pot, heat the oil over medium-high flame. Add the ground beef and season with salt, pepper, and Worcestershire sauce. Stir meat with spatula and cook until crumbled and brown, about 7-10 min. Add the onions, peppers, garlic, jalapeno, and season with cumin, chili powder, and cayenne pepper (if desired). Allow meat to cook with veggies for about 5 min. Add the beef stock and scrape up drippings from the bottom of the pan. Stir in the beans, diced tomatoes, and tomato sauce. Reduce heat and let simmer for about 20-25 min, stirring occasionally. Garnish with cilantro or minced green onion and serve!

Nutritional Information

The total number of calories in this dish are 2569, which leads to about 321 calories per serving (if you get 8 total servings). The nutritional breakdown is as follows: 106 g of fat, 197 g of carbohydrates, 59 g of fiber, 252 g of protein. This information is for the pot overall, so to find the information per serving just divide figures by 8.

Cost of Ingredients

The total cost of making this meal is $20.52, with the assumption that you have the olive oil and spices. Since I have left over red pepper and garlic from my Mexican Black Bean Salad, my total cost was only 17.62. I got about 8 bowls of chili out of this recipe, which leads to a total cost of $2.20 per serving. A similar portion of soup from Whole Foods would cost you $4.99, so there is a cost savings.

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Mexican Black Bean Salad *****

Mexican Black Bean Salad with Corn

The omelet tied me over pretty well for breakfast, but around 2:30, I was ready for some lunch. Normally, I would head over to Gardner’s Market for a chicken sandwich with goat cheese on ciabatta, but no 700-calorie sandwich for me today! Instead, I went on a 4 mile run and then headed to the fresh market to pick up some groceries. For those of you living in the Miami area, you must check out The Market (I believe it is a chain, but I don’t know how many states they are located in)! They have the best produce and meat selection, and it is usually cheaper than Whole Foods. I picked up a skirt steak marinated in chimichurri, and some vegetables to make a black bean salad. I make this salad all the time, and serve it with chicken, steak, and burgers. I also fold it into omelets and serve it on top of nachos or mixed greens for a Mexican salad. Best of all, it holds in the refrigerator for several days so you can make it on a Monday and use it all week. Avocado tastes great in the salad, just don’t mix it in all at once because they turn brown and make the salad go bad. I cut up and incorporate fresh avocado with each serving to stretch the shelf life.

It is really important that you drain and rinse the black beans well, because the sauce is super starchy. Also, I like to use canned corn without added salt because you can always add more kosher salt to the dish, but you can’t take away!

Also, a good trick to juicing lemons and limes is to roll them first, before cutting them. This makes the fruit much easier to squeeze and you’ll get all the juice.

Note: I had to modify this recipe slightly since I can’t eat honey on my diet, so instead of the dressing listed below, I used the modified version with the asterisk. If you are not on the diet, use the regular dressing because it is soooooo good!

{ Ingredients }

  • 2 cans of black beans, drained
  • 1 (15 ounce) can corn, drained
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ¼ cup diced red bell peppers
  • ¼ cup diced red onion
  • ¼ cup diced green onions
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • 4 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • Juice of ¾ lime
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • Pinch of ground cumin

{ To Make DressingWhisk together vinegar, lime juice, honey, salt, pepper, and cumin. Combine the dressing with vegetables.

{ Ingredients Modified Dressing }

  • 1 small clove garlic, minced and mashed
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Juice 1 ½ limes (about 3 tablespoons)
  • ¼ teaspoon chili powder
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Pinch of ground cumin

(Whisk together all ingredients for dressing and then combine with vegetables)

Nutritional Information

The total number of calories in this entire salad are 1,311. The nutrition count is as follows: 18% comes from protein, 4.8% comes from fat, and 77% comes from carbohydrates. If you make this into 6 individual servings, that’s an average of 218 calories per serving.

Cost of Ingredients

The total cost of making this salad is $13.21, based on the assumption that you have a few basic ingredients in your pantry such as vinegar, salt, pepper, garlic, olive oil, and seasonings. With the skirt steak, this meal totaled $17.21, but remember that the black bean salad will last several meals. If you get 6 servings out of the salad, that’s an average cost of just $2.20 per serving. Compare that to the price of eating out…not too bad!

Skirt Steak Marinated in Chimichurri with Sauteed Mushrooms and Onions and served with Mexican Black Bean Salad

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{ Tomato Basil Bruschetta }

Today was a fabulous day that ended with a fabulous dinner–as all truly fabulous days must! (I am certain that the quality and quantity of food that I consume in a day and my respective mood are positively correlated). Anyways, tonight my friend, Brooks, hosted a family-style Italian dinner. No, Brooks is not Italian (he is Brazilian) but yes, he is one of the best damn cooks I have encountered and therefore he can cook anything well–including meatballs and gravy! My little home-maker instincts kicked in earlier this afternoon, and I decided I would make bruschetta to bring as an appetizer…plus, my mom always said, “never go to a dinner party empty handed!” So I ran out to the store and bought bruschetta supplies….12 Roma Plum tomatoes, a package of cherry tomatoes, a bulb of garlic, and some basil. Then I came back home and set about making my mouth-watering creation. I did not follow a recipe to make this but I am going to give the approximate portions of everything that I used, so that you can make it and so I can replicate it again!
It was a huge hit and sadly there was none left totake home, but I’m glad everyone enjoyed it. I served it on diagonally sliced tuscan bread, which I first toasted in the oven on 350 degrees with a little drizzle of olive oil and oregano. I then generously topped each piece with the tomato mixture and garnished with basil leaves! For anyone who loves the tomatoes at Vilaggio (and who doesn’t?), these come out tasting practically the same!

{ Ingredients }

  • 12 roma plum tomatoes
  • 1 package of grape tomatoes
  • 4-6 cloves of garlic
  • 2 green onions
  • 10-15 basil leaves
  • 1-2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
{ To Make BrushettaHalve all of the grape tomatoes and place in large mixing bowl. Cut an X into the top of each plum tomato and then bring a medium sauce pan of water to a boil. Add the tomatoes 2-3 at a time for one minute each and then remove from water and peel back the skins. Cut off the tops and remove seeds, chopping into small pieces.
Add these pieces to the mixing bowl of grape tomatoes. Repeat until all of the plum tomatoes have been done. Chop the green onions and basil, and mince the garlic gloves, adding all ingredients to mixing bowl. Then add the olive oil and vinegar and a few generous sprinkles of Kosher salt. Mix well to coat all tomatoes. Allow to sit and then serve on toasted bread!
But let me also mention the delicious main course that took place tonight. Brooks was head chef (as he should be in his own kitchen) and I enjoyed playing sous chef for a change! The menu included a Baked Brie Bread Bowla Mixed Green Salad with Petit Tomatoes and Red Onion tossed in Homemade Dijon Vinaigrette, Spaghetti with Gravy, and Homemade Meatballs! Ohhh, and i forgot about the Brownie Sundaes for dessert. Talk about a feast….
The meatballs were unreal. I am Italian and I think my mom makes the best meatballs ever, but these were a close rival and they were incredible. Plus, Brooks made them in a cupcake pan, and I tend to love anything that comes out of a cupcake pan so I was instantly happy. Here is a photo of the meatballs, just after coming out of the oven….

Meatballs Post Oven

You can see the fat drippings in the bottom of the pan, which is abundant considering that Brooks uses a combination of Veal, Beef, and Italian sausage to make his meatballs….plenty of fat there. After he spoons out each little masterpiece from the pan he pours the drippings into his pot of gravy, which instantly thickens the tomato sauce. He then places each of the meatballs into the pot of gravy and allows them to finish slow cooking amid the tomatoes for another 20 or 30 minutes. The sauce absorbs the flavor of the meat, and the meat absorbs the moisture and acidity of the sauce….it’s a beautiful marriage a meatball and gravy!
The salad was simple but the homemade dijon dressing really took it to another level. It was very similar to the much coveted secret sauce from La Sandwicherie!! (see post) and the bite of the dijon mustard with the greens was great. Here is a look at my beautiful plate of food…

Spaghetti with Meatball topped with Ricotta and Parmesan Cheeses

As you can see, we finished off the meatball with a scoop of ricotta cheese and parmesan cheese shavings!!! WOW! Even “Big Nick”–clearly fully Italian–approved of Brooks creation, despite his former doubts. So delicious.
Now for my little confession….and I’m praying that no one from the dinner party reads this (although I secretly hope that some of them follow my blog!). As sous chef, I was in charge of cooking out the pasta. And believe me, I can cook out a perfectly salted and al dente pasta in my sleep. I know how to cook pasta like people know how to spell their name….it is just a part of me…second nature. Anyways, I salt the water with the large salt container, add the pasta, and start to cook. But, when I taste the pasta it isn’t salty! So naturally, I add more salt. A few minutes later I taste the pasta and it almost tastes sweet. I can’t believe it, so I reach for the salt one last time and realize that it is actually a container of sugar. His sugar container looks just like my salt container at home. So instead of salting the pasta, I have been coating it in sugar water. Before I start to panic, I reach for the morton’s and begin a generous pour just hoping that the salt will mask the sugar. Thankfully, it did and no one noticed. I couldn’t even taste the problem myself! Anyways, funny little secret that no one knows…..yet, at least!

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