Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Chicken Gyro Salad

Chicken Gyro Salad, originally uploaded by michele wynne.
I suppose (were I such a person) I could have just as much of a reason as anyone to hate Gwyneth Paltrow, but I don't and any of you who read this blog knows I am not amongst those in the anti-GP camp. I am, however, the Anti-GP. I am GP's polar opposite- 10 years older, 20 pounds over-weight, solitary in a studio apartment,  broke, in a broke-down kitchen with zero counter space and perpetually overwhelmed by a sink full of dishes. I buy supermarket sale tuna, honey from The Dollar Store and t-shirts from Goodwill. There is not one element of her life and lifestyle that I can relate to or say I've ever had in common with her. Except food, and my growing desire to cook healthier food. I love her cookbooks. I subscribe to goop and enjoy reading it. Mostly. I really could care less about the clothing and merchandising. I do feel envious of the travel though. I used to travel all the time. Now? not at all.
Yet, when I think how close I was to deleting the recent goop newletter from my overflowing inbox the other day...well, I feel almost guilty and ashamed after having been so pro-Gwyneth in my admiration of her latest cookbook (which I currently have my mitts on thanks to my local library).  I wasn't going to open it. It was one of those days when I just wasn't up to it. I did it anyway and as luck would have it, it turned out to be the smartest and most remarkable thing I did that day. I unearthed  a wonderful new keeper recipe and that is to be celebrated.
In her post about street food, scrolling down a bit I found this  Chicken Gyro Salad  and I couldn't wait to make it. I immediately pulled 3 chicken breasts I had in the freezer to defrost and did a little grocery shopping at work that evening buying just enough for my solitary salad:
1 little gem (the perfect lettuce heads for single serving salads)
1 large heirloom tomato
1 mediteranean cucumber
1 red onion
1 lemon
1 8oz. container of greek yogurt
I prepared the chicken and marinade just before I went to bed and cooked it on a grill pan for lunch the next day.
I thought it only fitting to use the left-over chicken in her Brown Rice and Kale  bowl (from My Father's Daughter) when trying to find a quickie dinner later that night. I topped it with the leftover tzatziki dressing. If I'd thought to buy pita bread, I would have made gyros with the leftovers. Next time. There will be many next times. I already have another batch of chicken marinating in the fridge right this very minute.
Thanks GP!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Refried Beans

Refried Beans, originally uploaded by michele wynne.
Refried beans are a little kitchen staple that I make all the time...or used to...until my recent job change. Lunch burritos and/or breakfast burritos were a weekly kitchen occurrence when I had to plan packing office lunches and quickie breakfast bites, thus purchasing several bags of beans a month I usually  from my neighborhood Latino produce market.
Months ago I pedaled across town to Costco for something I don't even remember. Whatever it was, was forgotten when I came across ginormous bag of pinto beans. A few mental mathematical calisthenics later I weighed the practicality of carrying around this burden of a bag and bought them anyway... and here they've sat, in a giant restaurant sized olive jar for these many months.
So months after committing my day to beans I finally cooked up a few.

The slow-cooker has become my go-to method for cooking all beans. I don't soak the beans first but I do pick them over for stones and funky looking bits before rinsing. I usually start them just before bedtime and cook them on low all night. You can also start them in the morning. The great thing about slow cooking beans that ultimately end up pureed or mashed is that the recipe doesn't seem to suffer much if you sleep in or hit happy hour after work and over cook the beans. Place 2 cups of the dried beans in the slow cooker with 6 cups of water. You can flavor the water with chicken seasoning and a few sprigs fresh thyme if you want, but I add so much flavoring after the beans are cooked that this is probably not necessary.

At any point during the bean cooking process, heat a skillet with 1 tablespoon of olive oil. If you don't have caramelized onions in the fridge already, thinly slice an onion,

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow onion thinly sliced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2  teaspoon red pepper flakes
cooked beans
1 cup of chicken bouillon
sriracha to taste

Heat the oil in a skillet on a medium high heat and add the sliced onions, cook until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Lower the heat to medium, add a dash of salt and cook until the onions are browned and caramelized

what to do with 'em:
Cut about 6 corn tortillas into wedges, toss in a bowl with a splash of olive oil, a little salt and a dash of cumin, then bake at 375 degrees for 6-8 minutes until crispy, remove from the oven and let cool a little and reduce the oven temp to 350 degrees.
Spread the refried beans across the bottom of a shallow baking dish or pie plate, place the tortilla chips over the beans, dipping them into the beans so they are standing at an angle rather than laying flat on the surface of the beans. Sprinkle with shredded sharp cheddar cheese and bake until the cheese is melted, another 5 minutes or so.
Serve with sour cream and salsa on the side.
stir in some of your favorite jarred salsa and grated cheese into the refried beans and heat in the microwave until the cheese is melted, stir to distribute the melted cheese and transfer into a serving dish. Top with a little more grated cheese and chopped cilantro and serve with tortilla chips.
Quick Quesadillas:
My favorite quick snack is to shred a little sharp cheddar cheese, heat up the refried beans in a microwave (I heat them in a bowl covered tightly with plastic wrap which I puncture with a fork) , then warm up 3-4 corn tortillas in a microwaveable steamer for 1 minute (this is to keep them soft and pliable for subsequent folding). Spread a thin layer of beans on the warm tortilla, you can also add a dollop of salsa if you like, and then finish with a sprinkle of shredded cheese. Spread the filling evenly over the surface of the tortilla, fold the tortilla in half, then in half again so you have filled triangles.
Of course, the beans are always a great addition to omelettes, burritos, enchiladas and tostada salads.