Shrimp and Black Bean Wontons

Black beans are one of those foods that has taken me a while to warm up to.  A long while.  Whenever I wander into Chipotle, I always get my burrito bowl sans beans since I don’t load up on the other fixings that could distract me from the fact that THERE ARE BLACK BEANS IN MY CHICKEN AND RICE.   Good Lord, if that doesn’t make me sound like a picky eater I don’t know what does.  But at least I don’t have any restrictions on letting my foods touch.  That has to be its own special kind of hell for parents of picky eaters.

So yes, distraction is my way of coping with black beans.  If a recipe calls for beans, I look to see if there are enough other ingredients that will provide camouflage.  Or strong flavors.  Major bonus points if both other ingredients and strong flavors are present in the recipe.  Sorry black bean burgers, you will never earn those bonus points in my grade book.

Despite my pickiness, I am slowly beginning to make my peace with black beans.  I don’t have a lot of recipes in my repertoire that use them but at least now I don’t turn my nose up at the rows of black beans lined up like soldiers as I walk through the grocery store aisles.  And occasionally, I even reach up and grab a can or two.

Shrimp and Black Bean Wontons

Adapted from My Morning Chocolate

BAH Note: I had more wontons than I had filling, so I baked some up like chips.  You could, if you were so inclined, deconstruct this recipe so that the wonton filling is baked up in a dish like a dip and served with the wonton “chips”.  Either way, black beans + shrimp + cream cheese + strong flavors = major bonus points.

  • 1/2 can black beans
  • 1 cup cooked shrimp, tails and shells removed
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon corriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1/4 cup cream cheese, softened
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • wonton wrappers

Rinse and drain the beans and place them in a large mixing bowl.  Chop the shrimp roughly and add it to the bowl of beans.  Add all remaining ingredients other than the wonton wrappers, stir to thoroughly combine, taste and add more spices or salt as necessary.  Cover the bowl and set it aside.

Heat the oven to 375 degrees and line two half sheet pans with parchment.

Place 10 – 12 wonton wrappers on each pan.  Spoon about 1 tablespoon of filling onto each wonton, not quite in the center.  Use a wet finger to moisten two sides of each wonton, fold each wonton in half to form a triangle, and press the edges with the tines of a fork to seal.

Brush the tops lightly with olive oil and bake for 10-12  minutes, rotating the pans halfway through, until the edges are browned and crisp.

{printable recipe}

Sweet and Spicy Snack Mix

Long ago there was a football team in Baltimore. And then there wasn’t. For a very long time. And people were bitter and angry. For a very long time.

There is irony in the tale of Baltimore’s football history. When our team was moved to another city, we the people became mightily indignant. How could he (the owner who still shall not be named) take the team, the franchise, the legend and lore and transplant that someplace else?  How could he? How DARE he?

Yes, we were angry for a very long time. Twelve years to be precise.

And then, and here’s where the irony comes in, Baltimore took another city’s team. We the conquered had become the conqueror. However, understanding the vitriol focused on the owner who still shall not be named, and the lawsuit that needed to be settled before he moved the team, Art Modell wisely chose the leave the identity and history of the Browns where it belonged, in Cleveland.

In 1996, the Ravens came to Baltimore. And the people once again had a team to cheer for. We’ve had winning years. We’ve had losing years. And we’ve had years we should have won but didn’t. This year it looked like we had a solid chance at another trip to the Super Bowl to go for a second Lombardy Trophy.

Hopeful optimism spread through the city. Fans donned their purple; the city was lit at night in hues of violet. And in what was to become the Raven’s final game of the season, I sat in front of the Tivo and watched the wheels come off the bus. The saving grace of the evening was the bottle of wine I was using to numb the excruciating pain of the second half in which they threw away their lead, and a enormous bowl of sweet and spicy snack mix I had whipped up to nibble on. Reaching for snack mix, or the bottle of wine, gave me something to do with my hands besides wring them in desperation as the minutes ticked away and the end of the season came into view.

I won’t lie. It was a painful loss. But out of the ashes of the 2010 Ravens season, Sweet and Spicy Snack Mix was born. It’s not quite the same thrill as having another Super Bowl win under our belts, but it’s better than nothing. We’ve had nothing.  And it tasted bitter and angry.

Sweet and Spicy Snack Mix

Inspired by My Morning Chocolate’s Adaptation of Cooking Light’s recipe.

BAH Note: I can’t eat popcorn or nuts so when Jen of MMC suggested substituting cereal, I knew I had to try this.  It’s sweet and salty and spicy…my perfect trifecta of flavors.  I initially thought this would make a great holiday hostess type gift packaged up in a nice big mason jar.  But learn from my experience.  Putting Sweet and Spicy Snack Mix in an airtight container is a sure recipe for soggy SSSM.  It needs to breathe.  Also, don’t be tempted to use the “butter” pretzels because they may be less expensive than plain old salted pretzels.  They will impart a fake, movie theater butter flavor to your mix.  And that’s just wrong.  Please remember that the spices can be used, or  not, in any combination.

  • 2 cups pretzel squares (see note above)
  • 2 cups each wheat, rice, and corn cereal squares (Chex or generic)
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili spice mix (preferably Penzey’s Chili 9000)
  • 1/8 teaspoon ancho chili powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon chipotle chili powder
  • wee small dash of cayenne pepper

Line a half sheet pan with parchment or aluminum foil and set aside.  Combine the pretzels and cereal in a large bowl.  Use your hands to mix it well.

In a medium saucepan, combine the brown sugar, maple syrup, butter, salt, and spices.  Cook over a low flame until the butter and brown sugar is melted.  Taste for seasoning and add more sugar, spice, or salt as desired.

Once the flavor of the sauce is to your liking, increase the heat and bring to a boil.  Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly while the mixture bubbles furiously.  Carefully remove the pan from the heat and cool for 1 minute before adding the liquid to the cereal in several additions, stirring between each with a wood spoon or plastic spatula.  Remember, boiling sugar is molten hot.

Once the syrup has been mixed in to the cereal, spread the mixture into your prepared sheet pan and allow to cool for 5 minutes before digging in to the sweet spicy mix.

{printable recipe}


Food Memories – Pork with Carrots and Potatoes

Jennifer Walker, the force behind My Morning Chocolate, perfectly illustrates the point of this project. She has a great memory of a dish with only the vaguest notion of the workings of the dish. I’m like that. I know other people are like that too. My point is that we’re not alone in this.  We all have our own personal food stories. I’ll let Jennifer tell you about hers.

Remember when Will Ferrell in the movie Elf says that elves have four food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corns, and maple syrup?  As a child who willingly ate very few healthy foods, I would have fit right in with this sugar happy family from the North Pole.

I had my own four food groups then: Skittles, candy corns, jelly beans, and Cheerios.  (The plain kind only, please.  Hey, something had to sop up all of that sugar!)

I could have eaten anyone under the table in these foods.  A pound of Skittles?  I could put them away in an evening.  A box of Cheerios?  I ate straight from the box, handful after handful, while watching TV.

And even though I don’t remember the last names of all of my high school friends, I can still see with absolute clarity the time my Mom came home from the Giant with a bulk food bag of candy corns.  I was playing on my neighbor Phillip’s driveway while waiting for my Mom to return from the store.  When I saw her pull up, I ran across the street with a pep in my step, picked up the candy corns, and quickly returned to the driveway to eat my first one.

I ate one candy corn at a time, taking a small bite off the top, letting the soft sugar melt in my mouth, then working my way down.  As I chewed, I thought about how this lovely candy tasted like maple syrup.  With all the happiness that candy brought me, you can imagine how hard it was to get me to eat healthy food.

My Mom tried, probably the hardest with eggs.  “I made them really special this time,” she would say, handing me a plate of eggs with a pool of Ketchup on the side.  But the healthy foods just never took for me.   Except for Mom’s pork with carrots and potatoes.  Then I would pile my plate, sit next to my brother on the barstools at the kitchen counter, and systemically chow down.

The carrots and potatoes had a good flavor because of the pork juices.  But they were still vegetables, and that made them less fun than pork.  So I ate them all first.

Then I would move on to the headliner, my favorite part, the pork.  It’s been about 20 years since I’ve had that pork, and yet I can still taste the tender meat melting in my mouth, and the salty sweetness of the onion topping.  I know I ate other real meals back then, but the pork is the only dish I remember.

I don’t eat much meat these days, but I know that I won’t be able to resist pork with carrots and potatoes if my Mom ever makes it again.  Sometimes the best flavors are the ones we remember from when we were young.

Pork with Carrots and Potato

BAH Note:  In true Food Memories fashion, the “recipe” is merely a whisper of an idea.  Jennifer said that her mom didn’t have exact amounts for any of the ingredients and referred her to the soup mix box for specifics.  Sadly, neither Google nor Lipton’s had this exact recipe posted so I had to make some educated guesses as I tried to recreate this dish.  I’m not sure how close I got to what Jennifer remembers.  But the combination of pork, carrots, potato, and onion soup mix is pretty forgiving, even though I made a hot mess of it all.  Seriously, I cannot show you what this looked like…you’d never again trust my cooking skillz.  The instructions on the cooking bags said to use 1 tablespoon of flour to prevent the bag from bursting.  I used 2 additional tablespoons to try and thicken the juices into gravy.  After 90 minutes in the oven, I removed the pork and vegetables to a tray and carefully emptied the juices into a saucepan.  I simmered the juices over a medium low flame for about 8 minutes until they had reduced and thickened.

  • Pork Tenderloin
  • Onion Soup Mix (I used both envelopes that came in the box)
  • Water (I used maybe 1/4 cup)
  • Orange Slices (I used a can of Mandarin orange slices in no sugar added syrup)
  • Carrots (I used one bag of baby cut carrots)
  • Potatoes (I used two sweet potatoes)

Cut the carrots and potatoes so they are a similar size.

Put the pork tenderloin in a cooking bag, then add onion soup mix, water, orange slices, and the cut-up  carrots and potatoes.

Bake at 350.

“The time depends on the size of the roast,” according to Jennifer’s Mom.  “It usually gives you the time on the package.”

Behind the Music – Food Blogger Style – BAH Edition

While my mental vacation continues, visit Jennifer Walker at My Morning Chocolate for the story behind the BAH blog.  It’s like VH1’s Behind the Music, blogger style.  But you get recipes instead of voice overs, hang overs, and mug shots. And you find out what I really think about “original recipe”…not in a KFC way (I’m devoted to extra crispy).

You Are My Sunshine

Jen at My Morning Chocolate was gracious enough to send Bon Appetit Hon a Sunshine Award.  I don’t care who you are, having another person say thanks for inspiring me or supporting me or just doing what you do, feels good. As greedy as I may secretly be, I can’t hoard all this sunshine.  So I am passing the award on to a few folks who make my world brighter.

As Simple As That“I used to admire fashion designers and thought why did God make me a writer and not a seamstress? I wanted to be able to create a piece that could speak out loud to the world and hang from the shoulders and waists of elegant people. I wanted so badly to mix silk and satin, beads and pearls, to ultimately create something beautiful. Something wonderful. But then I learned with age and experience that I am already a designer. A creator. A maker. I am a weaver of sentences, a seamstress of stories. I create the hemlines to a plot, the V-necks to a poem, the ruffles in a romance. When the last period has found its home at the end of a sentence, I have made something that can resonate to the world like a fine piece of clothing. The gift that I find to be the most beautiful part of my work is that it cannot be felt on my body, the way silk feels to my fingers. It can be felt in my soul. I can read a sewn together sentence over and over again and bring it everywhere with me, just like my leather bag or over-sized Audrey Hepburn sunglasses. I can take words and allow them to seep into my being and then use the passion behind them to do unto others in this world that needs more love. That is more blessed than the most timeless fashion pieces. I can give to others what I sew on my heart.” That is what Hanna Katy posted on her ‘About’ page and that right there is why I admire her.  She says the most powerful, thought provoking things.  I wish that I had a fraction of the grace and awareness that she possesses.

Honey & Jam: I could stare at Hannah’s photos all day long.  And sometimes, that’s exactly what I do.  One day, I hope to possess the skills to capture images like this.

And since I am not one for following rules, and it’s been far too long since I’ve bestowed any It’s A Major Award!, I’m going to take this opportunity to hand out a few of those cheekier awards as well. (For the genesis of the IAMA!, please read this and this.)

The Kitchen Witch: Whether she’s writing about something serious that is touching and brutally honest or she’s giving you her coveted Grandma Rhetta’s lemon bar recipe, Dana never fails to impress me with her wit, her love of life, or her humanity.

Three Baking Sheets to the Wind: I’ve finally found someone else whose brain is filled with as many inane pop culture references as mine is.  Could we have been separated at birth?  Doubtful, considering the mad kitchen skills and creativity that Ali clearly possesses.

You Are What You Eat…Or Reheat: We all secretly love trashy food.  Katie gives us a safe place to own those feelings…every Wednesday!  Spaghetti casserole anyone?

Thanks to Jen for sending a little Sunshine my way.  I hope you’ll take a few moments to check out these other blogs that make my world a little brighter.  And now that they have received some of these sunny rays, I hope that they too will pass them on.