Red Pepper Walnut Relish : BA Cleanse 2014

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It’s time to take a hop in the time machine and go back a few months to the beginning of 2014.  Remember when Dave and I did the Bon Appetit cleanse?  We started the year off with two weeks of this awesome cleanse which gave us guidelines AND recipes to follow for every meal plus snacks for every day of the cleanse.  It was awesome.  I actually sorta miss it!

I wanted to share this recipe from the cleanse with you because I love how versatile it is.  You can really use it in so many ways, as we did during our cleanse.  We used this relish on chicken (seen below), on scrambled eggs, roasted tofu, and even by itself as a snack.  It definitely felt good using a topping that was homemade and not store bought.  Yay!

Red Pepper Walnut Relish

Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup Walnuts
  • 2 Red Bell Peppers (1lb)
  • 1 clove Garlic, grated
  • 1 Tablespoon Fresh Mint, finely chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 1 teaspoon (or more) Aleppo Pepper* or ½ teaspoon Hot Smoked Paprika 
  • ½ teaspoon (or more) fresh Lemon Juice
  • ½ teaspoon Pomegranate Molasses** or Balsamic Vinegar
  • Kosher Salt & freshly ground Black Pepper

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Toast walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing occasionally, until fragrant and slightly darker, 8–10 minutes. Let cool; coarsely chop.  DO NOT BURN!!  (I had to re-do this step THREE times lol)
  2. Heat broiler. Broil bell peppers on a rimmed baking sheet, turning occasionally, until softened and skins are blackened in spots, 20–25 minutes. Transfer bell peppers to a bowl, cover with plastic wrap (or a brown paper bag), and let steam 15 minutes. Peel peppers, seed, and chop.
  3. Toss bell peppers, garlic, mint, oil, Aleppo pepper, lemon juice, pomegranate molasses, and walnuts in a small bowl; season with salt, black pepper, and more Aleppo pepper and lemon juice, if desired.
  4. Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before serving.

*Aleppo Pepper is a great spice to have handy.  See if you can find it at Whole Foods or another spice market

**Pomegranate Molasses can be found at most grocery stores, just ask someone where it is.  This is a great item to have for other mediterranean recipes.  It’s delicious.

This relish can be kept in a sealed container in the refrigerator for a week.

Recipe from:  Bon Appetit 2014

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The relish was such a delicious topping on this chicken recipe from the cleanse.  It adds a super flavorful punch and a really nice crunchy texture too.  I love the flavor that is brought to the table by the pomegranate molasses.  You can absolutely taste it and I totally recommend going out and buying it even if it’s just for this.

If you’re wondering what that gorgeous lookin’ side of white beans is, you can read about it here.  These are just a few of the recipes from the cleanse… pretty awesome right?

You can find a few of my favorite cleanse recipes here…

Multigrain Hot Cereal w/ Pomegranate & Crunch

Multigrain Hot Cereal w/ Pomegranate & Crunch

Avocado Smoothie

Avocado Smoothie

Spiced Cashew Crunch

Spiced Cashew Crunch

Roasted Jalapeño & Honey Hummus

Holy Hummus.

I think I’ve discovered my favorite snack, like… ever.

This stuff is legit.

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Don’t get me wrong, my other hummus recipes are awesome.  I love making this stuff from scratch.  It’s so easy and I love being able to customize the flavors.  This recipe puts all others to shame.  It’s just so-freakin-awesome.

The idea for this hummus recipe came from one of my absolute favorite bloggers, Jessica, from How Sweet It Is.  Not only do I love reading her hilarious stories, Jessica has just the best recipes.  Her pictures are amazing too.  I knew I had to try this recipe out when I read it a week or two ago.  I love roasting peppers and adding honey to hummus was something I had never even heard of.  I’m all in.

hummus

Roasted Jalapeño & Honey Hummus

Ingredients:

1-4 Jalapeño Peppers, roasted*

2 cans Chickpeas, drained, reserving liquid

1/4 cup Tahini

1/4 cup Honey

1/4 cup Olive Oil

2 cloves Garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon Salt

1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper

1/4 teaspoon Cumin

1/4 teaspoon Garlic Powder

Directions:

*To roast the jalapeños, you can hold them with heat-safe tongs over a gas range, or you can roast them in the oven (what I do) on a foil-lined baking sheet.  Roast at 400 checking/flipping every 5-10 minutes or so, until the peppers are soft and browning.  I used 4 peppers with seeds.  Use one at a time, tasting to see how spicy it is.  Dave and I love spicy food, this is about average spice for us.  Remove the seeds if you don’t like spice at all.*

1.  Add the chickpeas, jalapeño, and garlic to the food processor.  Pulse until finely chopped.  

2.  Add in the tahini, honey, and all four spices and continue to blend, stopping to scrape down the sides if necessary.  With the processor turned on, slowly stream about half of the olive oil into the hummus.  Depending on how you like the consistency, add in a few tablespoons of the bean “juice” (from draining the chickpeas).  Keep processing until you get the desired consistency, adding bean juice or oil as you go.  I stop and taste often.  Serve with chips, cucumber slices, carrots, or spread on a sandwich!  MMM!

Recipe adapted from:  How Sweet It Is

Ready to whirl!

Ready to whirl!

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So while these pics might look like any old hummus… I promise you, this stuff is special.  Try it out!

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Or… try another one of my favorite dips!

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Italian Hoagie Dip

Italian Hoagie Dip

Smoked Salmon Dip

Smoked Salmon Dip

Roasted Grape Tomato, Garlic, & Poblano Ragu

I feel like I’m living in an episode of Seinfeld or Friends.  You know… when something happens and then something else happens and then a third thing happens that somehow ties it all together.  I’m pretty sure some recent events are really just my subconscious is trying to tell me that I’m losing my mind.  Literally.

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I’ve always had this panic thing where I really think I lose my cell phone and once I start the panic mode, I find it under my leg in my seat in the car, in a fold in a blanket, or under the dog.  This happens like, literally all the time.  At least once or twice a day.

What’s going on with my recent misplacement of really important belongings isn’t this panic-mode.  It’s real.  I don’t know what’s going on (with the exception of me losing my mind)… but in the past two weeks I have somehow managed to misplace not one but TWO jackets, leave my car keys in my Mom’s car, and forget my purse in a restaurant.  WTF?!

Rather than just thinking I’m a moron, I’m going to take this as a sign that I need to take a step back and relax.  Take a minute and breathe and STOP LOSING ALL OF MY CRAP!

In an attempt to go back to my normal routine, I decided to make dinner last night.  It’s been rare since Dave and I got engaged… life has just been too crazy and busy to make fun dinners.  I was inspired by the surplus of Grape Tomatoes in the house and wanted to try to make my own tomato sauce.

This sauce is so good… I almost could not believe myself.  Don’t leave out the roasting of the veggies in this recipe… it gives the sauce such a rich flavor.  It’s very easy to do!

Roasted Grape Tomato, Garlic, & Poblano Ragu

Ingredients:

1.5 pints Grape Tomatoes

1 Head Garlic

1 Poblano Pepper

8oz Lean Ground Beef

1 Green Bell Pepper

1/2 Large Sweet Onion

1 can Diced Tomatoes 

1/4 cup Fresh Basil Leaves

1/2 teaspoon Garlic Powder

1/2 teaspoon Onion Powder

1/2 teaspoon-1 teaspoon Sea Salt

1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper

1/8 teaspoon Cumin

1/2 teaspoon Dried Parsley (or 1T fresh)

Directions: 

1.  Roast the Veggies:  Preheat the oven to 400.  On a baking sheet COVERED with foil and prepared with cooking spray, spread the tomatoes.  Put the poblano on the sheet too.  Cut off the tip of the garlic exposing the tops of the cloves.  Wrap the garlic in a small piece of foil and pour a few drops of Olive Oil in and close.  Put the foiled garlic on the baking sheet too.  Either drizzle or spray the tomatoes and poblano with just a bit of Olive Oil, sprinkle with salt, and pop in the oven for 30-40 minutes.  Flip the poblano halfway through and remove if the skin becomes charred.

2.  Cook the meat:  While your veggies are roastin’, cook the ground beef in a skillet over medium heat.  If frozen, scrape into small pieces or chop if fresh.  Season with a little salt and pepper.  Remove from pan.

3.  Cook the veggies:  Chop the pepper and onion and saute with cooking spray in the same pan the beef cooked in.  Cook for 5-10 minutes then set aside in the same bowl as the beef.  

4.  Make the sauce:  When the tomatoes are a little browned ontop and nice and soggy looking, remove them from the oven.  Unwrap the garlic and let cool.  Cut the poblano in half and scrape out the seeds.  Scrape off the skin too, if possible.  Chop half of the pepper and reserve the remaining half for another use.  Using the back of a spoon, press the bottom end of the garlic until the cloves slide out.  Place the chopped poblano, 1/2 of the garlic cloves, and all of the tomatoes in a blender with the rest of the seasonings, the can of diced tomatoes, and fresh basil.  Blend until smooth.  Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.  

5.  Eat the Sauce!  Combine the tomato mixture from the blender with the beef, pepper, and onion.  Heat in a medium saucepan over medium heat until warm.  Serve over spaghetti and top with a little bit of fresh parm.  Enjoy!

Everything in the blender and ready to whirl!

Everything in the blender and ready to whirl!

Cookin' up the pepper and onion.

Cookin’ up the pepper and onion.

Sauce!

Sauce!

The sauce all ready to go

The sauce all ready to go

beautiful!

beautiful!

So delicious.

So delicious.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Southwest Chicken Melts

The past two weeks have been so super busy for me.  Besides my normal jam-packed weekends, work has been crazy, I have been ontop of my workout schedule, and I have been shopping like a maniac to get ready to move!  Who has time to make a great dinner when there’s a sale on duvet covers at Bed Bath?

Oh, and I should probably mention… that a lot of my free lunch-break time has been spent with my dear Kindle reading the second book of 50 Shades of Gray.  Talk about deeeeelish.

I wanted to share today’s recipe with you not only because it was really yummy, but because I’m probably going to make it again soon.  Yesterday marked the boyfriend Dave’s first day on a new diet.  He changed around some things and also wants to do LOW-NO CARBS for three weeks.  Ugh.  I think Chicken Melts will be our new theme for dinner.  (I was hoping for that to be stuffed potatoes, but clearly those will have to wait)

This recipe stood out to me and has been saved in “My Recipe” box for months because of the Roasted Poblanos… mmmmmmmmmmmm!

What was really special about this dinner is that my Dad helped me make it.  My dad has a few specialties… he makes a mean Grilled Cheese, Captain Crunch with Chocolate Milk, Sweet & Spicy Bacon, and really, really, really good Roasted Red Peppers.  While I’ve been meaning to learn how to do the Peppers for a while, I haven’t quite found the time yet, so when he was coerced offered to help me with the Poblanos, I was so excited.

Poblano Chiles ready to roast! Thanks Dad!

Southwest Chicken Melts

Recipe inspired by:  Sunset, 2010

Makes:  4 Servings

Ingredients:

2 Tablespoons of Oil (I use Sunflower Seed Oil)

4 Poblano Chiles

4 Chicken Breasts (if you have the monster-huge ones, slice them in half)

2 teaspoons Cumin

1/2 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper

1 teaspoon Sea Salt

Black Pepper

Lime Wedges

1 Avocado, pitted & sliced

1/2-1 Cup Shredded Cheese (I used Cabot Reduced Fat Jalapeno Cheddar)

Directions:

1.  Put your oven on the broil setting.  Prepare a broiler pan with water.  Rub 1 Tablespoon of oil on the chiles.  Place the Chiles on the broiler pan and put in the oven (dont forget to leave the door open on broil!).  Keep your eye on the peppers, as you’ll need to turn the chiles 90 degrees (with tongs) once the skin ontop has browned.  Repeat until all sides are dark brown or charred.  

2.  Take the “burnt” chiles and plop them right into a brown paper bag.  Either place the bag in a plastic bag to avoid leakage or use a brown paper grocery bag wrapped in a plastic bag (we save ours when we go shopping!).  Close the paper bag and allow the chiles to steam for 10-20 minutes and let cool.  Leave the broiler on, you’ll use it later.

3.  Meanwhile, you can rub or spray 1 a little bit of oil over the chicken breasts.  Combine the seasonings (cumin, cayenne, salt, pepper) and sprinkle over the chicken breasts.  Grill the chicken or use a grill pan and cook, turning once until browned and cooked through (maybe 5 minutes each side if they’re thin sliced).  

4.  Take the cooled chiles and peel off the skin running under cold water if need be.  Slice off the top.  Slice in half and remove seeds to lower the heat, leave them in to keep it hot.

5.  Squeeze some lime over the chicken, top with avocado slices, a reserved roasted poblano, and a sprinkle to a 1/4 cup of cheese.  Put the assembled chicken breasts onto the broiler pan and broil for maybe 3 minutes until the cheese starts to bubble and just brown.  Enjoy!

Shred your own cheese! A nice cheddar or jack cheese would do here. I had a block of reduced fat and like to go a little healthier whenever possible.

I used some extra avocado since only 2 of us wanted it and it was just too good to waste!

TaDa!!

 

MMM… getting hungry today thinking about this one!  We ate the melts with a side salad, but you could do black beans, rice, or even put it on a nice crusty roll if you’re not trying to Low-Carb like Dave!

Another variation would be to buy a jar of roasted red peppers which will cut down on the time it takes to make these and also would cut down on the heat.