Purple Sticky Rice Pudding

22 06 2012

This addictive dish works for both breakfast or dessert.  With natural sweetness from bananas and the rich flavor of vanilla bean, you can eat till the purple rice runs dry.

Serves 6

2 cups short grain purple sticky rice (if unavailable, substitute with short grain brown rice or steel cut oats)

2 cups blueberries

2 bananas

2 vanilla beans, seeds and pods (see how to do it here)

4 cups water

Combine all ingredients in a large pot.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low.  Stir vigorously to release the starches in the rice.  Cook until rice is tender, about 30 to 40 minutes.  Stir every 10 minutes or so to release more of the starches.  If mixture becomes to dry, simply add more water.

Garnish with diced mangos or apricots.


How To: Vanilla Bean Split

21 06 2012

How do you get the most flavor out of your vanilla bean?  Do the Vanilla Bean Split.  Get all of the seeds out of the pod using this quick, clean technique.

Dancing is optional, but highly encouraged.

See it on YouTube here.

Strawberry Seduction

20 06 2012

You look up.  She catches your eye from across the room.  In a sea of browns and greens, her seductive red lures you in.  The laws of attraction elicit a deep breath as you inhale her sweet aroma.  Her glowing charm glints like the girl next door.  Her fragile skin hints at precious innocence.

All you want to do is grab her, pick her up, and take a big, juicy bite.

She is strawberry.


Let her radiance inspire you.  Fantasies of chocolate-dipped desserts, colorful breakfast bowls, and simple afternoons licking your fingers run through your mind.  Share company with her friends Blue, Black, and Rasp.  Let her meet your buds Almond, Arugula, and Ginger.

She’s not in it for the long-haul, little more than a summer fling.  But she’s good for every last, juicy drop.

You can find her at optimal beauty at places like:

Seedling Fruit (at Chicago’s Green City Market)

Whole Foods Market (all over the world)

Berry Oatmeal in a Jar

19 06 2012

Who has time for breakfast?  Make a full supply of these Sunday night for Breakfast-on-the-go all week.  Or, do like me, and chow on these for a post-workout refuel.

Makes 6 jars

3  cups oats (thick-rolled have a nice chewiness)

3 tablespoons ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon ground ginger

1/2 tablespoon grated nutmeg

3 cups berries, any variety, let your nose and eyes choose

6 mason jars (holds at least 2 cups each)

Clean out jars.  Open lids.  Place 1/2 cup oats in each jar.  Combine the cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg in a small bowl, then even disperse among the jars (about 1 tablespoon in each jar).  If you have Pumpkin Pie spice mix on hand, this will also work.  Evenly disperse the berries among the jars.  Frozen berries or cherries also work.  Add enough water to each of the jars to cover the oats and come almost to the lip of the jar, about 1 1/2 cups.  Screw the lids on the jars, and refrigerate.

To enjoy: Simply screw the lid off the jar, microwave for a minute, stir, then another 30 seconds.  Enjoy warm.

The longer the oats soak in the water, the softer they’ll get.  Feel free to add in chopped, toasted nuts or fresh vanilla seeds for extra flavor.

Chard, Mushrooms, and Butter Beans

13 06 2012

If you haven’t had butter beans before, do yourself a favor:  Find some, buy some, eat some.  Delicious.  Like Buttah.  If you must substitute, I guess cannelini would be okay.  But not quite “Like Buttah”.

1 bunch Swiss Chard, leaves stripped from stems

8 oz cremini mushrooms, quartered

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 can butter beans, drained and rinsed

Loads of freshly ground black pepper

Heat a medium saute pan over high heat.  Chop the chard stems into bite-sized pieces, about the same size as the butter beans.  The mushrooms should also be about this size.  Add the chard and mushrooms to the hot pan and cook until they start to darken, just a few minutes.  Add the tomato paste and a couple tablespoons of water to the pan, lower heat to medium, and continue cooking until stems soften, about 5 minutes.  In the mean time, slice the chard leaves.  Once the stems are soft, add the leaves to the pan and cover.  Cook just until the leaves wilt, about a minute or two.  If needed, add another couple of tablespoons of water to prevent burning.

Toss beans with the black pepper.  Serve a big heap of the chard mix with a few big spoonfuls of beans.  Enjoy.

Combine leftover beans and chard for next day’s lunch.  Or serve with whole wheat pasta for a hearty dinner.

Easy Chard and Quinoa

12 06 2012

This quick dish is a great easy lunch or a tasty afternoon snack.  Enjoy warm or cold.  Add toasted sunflower seeds and currants for more flavor.

1 cup quinoa

1 bunch rainbow chard

2 sweet onions

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Salt and Pepper, to taste

Place quinoa in a small pot and cover with 2 inches of water.  Simmer, covered, until soft, about 20 minutes.  Meanwhile, cook your chard.

Heat a large saute pan over high heat.  To cook your chard, remove the stems from the leaves of the chard.  Slice the stems into bite-sized pieces.  Cut the two onions into bite-sized pieces.  Add onion and chard stems to the hot pan.  Saute until the onion starts to caramelize (turn brown), about 5 minutes, stirring as needed.  Meanwhile, chop chard leaves.  When onions have caramelized slightly and chard stems have softened, add balsamic vinegar.  Scrape up any bits from the bottom of the pan and turn heat to medium-low.  Add chopped chard leaves to pan, cover, and cook just until leaves start to wilt, about 5 minutes.

Quinoa should be done about now.  Remove the lid from the pan, taste to make sure the quinoa is soft.  Fluff quinoa with a fork and add to the chard mixture.  Season with plenty of freshly-ground black and pepper and salt to taste.

Duo Talent: Rainbow Chard

11 06 2012

Duo Talents are hard to miss.

Duo Talents catch your attention with a notable first impression.  They perk your ears with a clever joke.  They challenge your thinking with a poignant question.  They have incredible shining eyes, a bright smile, and glowing confidence.

And then, they get better.

Beyond that first impression, lies another layer.  It’s the richness of self-motivation, the audacity to take risks, and the warmth of listening to your concerns.

The Duo Talent has two sides to entice.  They have a vibrant, crisp intro to attract.  Then they have a textured, soulful depth to keep you interested.

Rainbow chard is a duo talent.  It draws you in with bright, seductive stalks.  It keeps your interest with luxurious green leaves.  In one beautiful bundle, you get a two-for-one.  You can chop the stalks for braising, soups, sauces, or slaw.  The leaves offer layers for fluffy salads or wilted sides.

By enjoying both talents of this vegetable, you savor the many talents it brings to the table.  Just don’t let the other mustard greens get jealous.