Recipe Redux: Chris’s Chi Chi Beans

This past weekend, I got out of the kitchen and and into the car for a quick trip to Maine. After I announced last week that November was going to be a clean eating month, that was thrown out the window on the Piscataqua Bridge linking New Hampshire to Maine, and it became a bit of an overindulgent weekend of food and drink. I, thankfully, walked most of it off, but came home to a renewed promise to eat better this month!

Since I did no real cooking this past week, I thought I’d bring you an oldie but a goodie recipe I posted a couple of years ago. This is my go-to recipe when I am feeling poor in the pocket and in spirit. Vegan and gluten-free, it is healthy, quick to make, and easy on your wallet!

You can view the original post here.

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Chris’s Chi-Chi Beans
I usually serve this on its own, but if you want a little something extra, it is great served over whole wheat couscous to soak up the juice. And for a little bit more protein, serve it with either tofu or chicken.

• 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
• 2 cloves of garlic (or more if you prefer), minced
• 1 medium onion, diced
• 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
• One 14.5 oz. can (or roughly 2 cups) chi-chi (garbanzo, chickpeas), rinsed
• One 14.5 oz. can stewed tomatoes

Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the garlic and onion and cook until translucent. Add the carrots and cook for a couple of minutes until soft. Add the can of beans and stewed tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a low simmer and cook until the carrots are soft, about 10-12 minutes. If you find the liquid is evaporating, you can add a little bit of water or white wine.

Cook’s Notes:
When I went to pick out a can of stewed tomatoes, I didn’t realize there are many different varieties these days! I like the “original” flavor, one that has onion, celery, and bell peppers.     

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup with Grownup Cheese Points

In less than a month, I’ll be taking out my favorite pot to start making soups instead of boiling water for corn on the cob, but the other night I had a hankering for a grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup. I had all the fixings, and since it wasn’t too humid, I thought Saturday night was perfect to make my favorite summertime soup. (Full disclosure, this is loosely based on a Cooking Light recipe of many years ago.)

Now, I love this time of year for the tomatoes, but I have a really hard time taking heirloom tomatoes that I pay $4 a pound and making anything other than a delicious side salad, sandwich, or something that shows off its glorious flavor. So of course, you can use fresh tomatoes if you are incredibly lucky and your garden is overflowing; I chose canned. I had one 28 ounce can of whole tomatoes and a 14 ounce can of petite diced tomatoes. I dumped the can of whole tomatoes in the Dutch oven, took a pair of kitchen scissors, and snipped them into small pieces. I then took my potato masher and went around the pan smashing all the tomatoes until they were somewhat smooth. I added the can of diced tomatoes to add some body, and took one clove of fresh garlic and put it through the garlic press. I almost never use my garlic press, but sometimes it’s really handy; I wanted infused garlic flavor, not pieces that we would be chewing. Using the press was perfect. I put the burner on the lowest heat to warm for about 20 minutes or so and I talked to my dad while it was simmering and losing some of its liquid.

Following this, it’s easy as pie. I added ¾ cup of milk, I used 1 percent, but you can use what you have on hand. I then added about two tablespoons of cream cheese (you can use low-fat if desired), and whisked it into the soup until it was creamy. I then added about ¼ cup of torn basil leaves and stirred. I took it off the burner while I started on my cheese points.

One of my favorite breads is the seeded baguette from Red Hen Bakery in Middlesex, Vermont. When I buy this, I usually cut it half and slip one half in the freezer for later use. I took out two pieces and after they thawed, cut them horizontally. I topped one with Cabot cheddar cheese, the other had my favorite dill weed cheese and placed them on a cookie sheet under the broiler and cooked them until the cheese was bubbly. Earlier, I had sliced half a red onion and soaked the rings in apple cider vinegar. I placed a few slices on top of the cheese, a couple of slices of tomato, and happily munched away. Heaven in a bowl and on a plate that evening.

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup

(Note: Fresh tomatoes can be used in place of the canned tomatoes. I would estimate using 4-6 large.)
1 28 oz. can whole tomatoes plus its juice
1 14 oz. can diced tomatoes, petite cut preferred
1 garlic clove, pressed
¾ cup milk (I use 1 percent)
2 Tablespoons cream cheese
¼ cup torn basil leaves, or to taste

In a Dutch oven, add the can of whole tomatoes, and snip the tomatoes with a pair of kitchen scissors or a potato masher. Add the diced tomatoes and garlic and simmer at the lowest heat for about 20 minutes or so. Add milk, and whisk in the cream cheese. Before serving, add basil, stir, and take off heat. Serves four.

Grownup Cheese Points
Take your favorite baguette and slice horizontally. Place your favorite cheese on top and place under the broiler until they become bubbly. Top with some vinegar marinated onions, sliced tomatoes, or as is. Any how you eat it and with whatever topping, it will be delicious. I promise!

Simple Salad Suppers

The calendar has turned to July, the temperature is now humid not warm, and my hair is no longer curly but frizzy. Yup, it’s summer! So when the heat and humidity turns up, I want to get out of the kitchen and away from the stove for easy and light dinners. These two salads are so simple and easy, I promise it will take you longer to go to the grocery store to buy the items than it will take you to make them!

Easy Cucumber Salad
(Note: Easy to double!)
One cucumber
– Diced tomatoes (I like grape tomatoes sliced in half, but you can use whatever fresh tomato you have on hand)
– Onion (I prefer Vidalia in this, but any onion will do. As you can see, I used red onion this weekend.)
– Feta cheese (optional, I don’t make an effort to add this, only if I have some in the house)
– Finely sliced fresh basil (optional)
– Apple cider vinegar

Peel the cucumber. Slice it in half horizontally and scrape the seeds out with a spoon. Slice into thin half-moon shaped pieces and place in a bowl. Add the tomatoes (I want the ratio to be 3/4 cucumbers, 1/4 tomatoes, but of course you can change it to fit your mood). Add to the bowl. Add a few slices of onion. Mix together. Add the feta, if using. Add a couple of capfuls of the vinegar, about a tablespoon or so, mix, testing it to make sure it has the right amount of zing. Some freshly ground pepper, salt (if I don’t use the feta), stir, and serve!
*Note: This salad is a bit weak on leftovers. Although I eat it, it gets a little wilted and everything isn’t as crisp as when you first make it.  

Spicy Black Bean Salad
– One can black beans, rinsed
– About a half cup grape tomatoes, sliced in half
– Sliced scallions (green onions)
– Diced jalapeno pepper (optional)
– Diced avocado (optional)
– Juice from a half lime, or to taste
– Salt and pepper

In a bowl, add the black beans, tomatoes, scallions, pepper, and mix. Add avocado, if using. Add the lime, salt and pepper, and chill until ready to serve.