Sunday, September 23, 2012

Happy bithday, Pat!

I am finally feeling a lot better from this bizarre fall cold, so I took advantage of today to do a lot of cooking and baking.  My darling Marky had the day off and was making his delicious roast for dinner, so I took care of lunch with black beans and coconut-lime rice.  Mom and I had planned on me making this meal for dinner last Monday, but I spent so much time laying around sick this week that today was the first time I could get to it.  I love any meatless meal, but I especially love beans with all their protein-packed goodness that leaves my family not complaining for once that they are starving after they eat!  I also like strange flavor mixes, like coconut and cumin, lime and black bean.  For these reasons, I knew this meal would be delicious.

And oh man, was I right!!!  I am a little in love with this lunch.  The rice was beyond amazing.  It was made with not just water, but water and chicken broth.  Then I had to toast shaved coconut in the oven, and that went in to the finished rice along with cilantro, scallions, lime zest and lime juice.  The rice was salty and sweet and sour and just all sorts of amazing.  The beans on top were great too, but the rice was really the star of the meal!  I am pretty pumped to have this for lunch tomorrow.  It just might make curriculum night bearable.

Then Mom has been begging me to find an apple muffin recipe, and I found one from good old Martha Stewart which has diced apple in the muffins, but also one thin slice on top.  They were really quick to make, but looked kind of gross.  Have you ever mixed melted butter, buttermilk, and eggs together?  Because it curdles and looks repulsive and makes you think you messed up the whole recipe.  But never fear: the gross liquid mixture gets folded into the dry ingredients and poured into a muffin tin, and voila: apple muffins!  Kenzie maintains that these are "boring but good," so not surprisingly, Mom was obsessed with them! They are flavored with sugar, cinnamon, apple and walnuts, so if those are your favorite fall flavorings, make 'em up.

Last was my struggle of the day: chocolate swirl buns.  It's Pat's birthday and I had to make him something special since he always comes over to sample my treats, and never has anything to say other than how great things are.  When he was here the other night, I had been looking at Annie's newest recipe, which was chocolre swirl buns.  The pictures were just gorgeous, and it said these are a simplified version of a chocolate babka, which made me think of Seinfeld.  So today Pat said he'd like those for his birthday, and I thought, easy!  Yeast dough rolled around a chocolate cinnamon mixture? No problem.  So I made the dough and waited for it to rise.  And waited.  And waited.  And finally I decided I must have done something wrong, so I made another dough and waited.  And waited.  I have come to the conclusion that my yeast is dead.  RIP.  The jar does say to use it within4 months of opening, and it has definitely been more than 4 months.  I left both doughs on the kitchen table and went to sulk for a while.  Miracle of miracles: five hours later they both were rising slowly!  I found this out only because Delilah started eating one.  So I tossed that one and decided to make the buns with the remaining dough.  It was not as risen as it should be, and it kind of freaks me out that I baked with dying yeast, but hey: it rose.  So I rolled it out, used my cute new little food processor (thanks Ajemians!) to chop the chocolate mixture up, sprinkled that on top, rolled it up, and cut it into twelve pieces.  Each piece goes into a muffin tin well, and they come out looking absolutely beautiful.  The bread part is buttery and soft, and the filling is a cinnamon-y, chocolate-y, decadent mush!  They are sort of like a cinnamon roll, but made with chocolate.  Bittersweet chocolate, to be exact.  Kenzie claims they were too bitter for her super sweet tooth, but Pat, Mark, Mom and I loved them.  Mom even said they were perfect because they aren't "sweety-sweet."  And the birthday boy gave me his usual: "loved it."  A job well done :)


chunky apple muffins
chocolate swirl buns

Black beans and coconut-lime rice

from the May 2010 issue of Southern Living Magazine

1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1  1/2 cups chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 Tablespoons butter, divided
1 1/4 cups uncooked basmati rice
1 small onion, choppd
2 cans (15 ounces each) black beans, drained and rinsed
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 lime
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Bake coconut in a single layer on a baking sheet 8-10 minutes or until toasted.

2)  Bring broth, next 2 ingredients, 2 Tbsp. butter, and 1 cup water to a boil in a large saucepan.  Stir in rice.  Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook 15-20 minutes or until rice is tender and water is absorbed.

3)  Meanwhile, melt remaining 1 Tbsp. butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add onion (and if you want, 1 diced poblano pepper, but I obviously did not do this).  Saute 5 minutes or until tender.  Stir in black beans, chili powder, cumin, and 3/4 cup water.  Cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes.

4)  Grate zest from lime into a bowl.  Squeeze lime juice into bowl. 

5)  Fluff rice with a fork.  Fold in lime zest and juice, coconut, green onions, and cilantro into hot rice. Serve bean mixture over rice with desired toppings (the recipe recommends lime wedges, diced mango, sliced radishes, sliced fresh jalapeno peppers, and sour cream, but we found no need for any of these things!)

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