Cannellini Bean and Rosemary Spread {Vegetarian}

Cannellini Bean and Rosemary SpreadI’m sitting in the backseat of my parents’ car, erectile trying to read a book. It’s not a very big book, it’s not a complicated book, but I’m not sure what it’s saying. I’m getting frustrated at myself for not knowing the words and the perfectionist in me kicks into overdrive.

My parents pull into the garage and I know my time is up. I have failed to read the book before we reached home (I’m quite the goal setter). “I’ll help you,” says a kind, soft voice next to me. For the next 30 minutes, I sit in the backseat of the car, parked in the garage, while my older sister helps me figure out the words I thought were impossible to learn.

I was five years old and I’m still reminded of that moment when I think of my sister. I’m not even sure if she remembers it. But that’s who she is – giving, thoughtful, inspiring and loving – without even realizing it.

Growing up, I was the typical little sister. I was always snooping through her things, trying on her clothes when she wasn’t looking, copying her every move and eavesdropping on her phone calls. I couldn’t stand her, I couldn’t stand how cool she was, but I loved her more than anything and wanted to be just like her. I still do sometimes.

Now that we’re both “grown,” as my mom says, I have a respect for her that I didn’t know when I was younger. I look back at our childhood (which wasn’t always peachy: hair pulling, door slamming, name calling, death threats – you know, the norm) and think of all of the times she was there for me when she certainly didn’t have to be. My sister is my best friend, but that doesn’t even begin to describe it, nor does that label give justice to the deep-running vein of our relationship.

There are a billion memories I could share with you about my sister, a billion laughs, a billion blowups, a billion tear-jerking moments that have shaped who I am. But those I’ll save for another time… or maybe I’ll just keep them to myself, as a sacred piece of my heart.

One thing I will share though is our great love for all things Sheryl Crow (we’ve been so close to her on stage that we could literally lick her boots if we wanted to… but who would want to do that?) which includes her new cookbook, If It Makes You Healthy. Written and developed with her chef, Chuck White, the book is full of clean, healthy, simple recipes that use mostly seasonal ingredients.

I like my people like I like my food: the ingredients’ true flavors shine through, there’s no fuss and no drama involved in the cooking process and quality ingredients are a recipe for a fantastic meal. Just as I know what to expect from the recipes in Sheryl’s cookbook, I know what to expect from my sister. I know I can count on her. I know that she carries my heart with care. I know that she is one in a million. And I love her for that, more than she will ever know.

Sisters

My sister and me on our way to our second Sheryl Crow concert!

 

Cannellini Bean and Rosemary Spread

*Taken from If It Makes You Healthy, minimally changed

2 cans cannellini beans

Juice of 1 lemon

2 teaspoons fresh rosemary leaves

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 large garlic clove

1/3 cup olive oil

Salt and pepper

In a food processor, combine beans, lemon juice, rosemary, paprika and garlic. Mix until well blended and all ingredients have been pureed.

With the motor running, add the olive oil in a steady stream until the mixture becomes smooth and reaches an easily spreadable consistency.

Season with salt and pepper and serve with toasted bread or pita chips.

Cannellini Bean and Rosemary Spread

Chilled Strawberry-Avocado Soup

Chilled Strawberry-Avocado Soup“Honey, online what are you thinking about?” asked my dear and loving husband. I was sitting at the kitchen table, staring at a big, beautiful bowl of strawberries. “Strawberries,” I said with a smile. “It’s amazing to me how this one little fruit can bring me so much joy.” And I wasn’t kidding…

Strawberries are my favorite fruit. Apparently, they always have been, even before I was born. My mom says I would celebrate every time she ate strawberries, kicking like crazy and doing my own little happy dance. I still feel that way about this wonder fruit today. There’s just nothing like it.

Biting into a strawberry is like acing a test. There is a sense of satisfaction, excitement and happiness as the juice from that berry drips into your mouth and coats your tongue. Rolling the rough seeds between your fingers as your teeth find the perfect bite is the most satisfying feeling because you know what you’re about to do (devour it, obviously).

I probably go through a pint or two of strawberries every week (maybe more… no judgment), so I’m always thinking of ways to use them – especially during the summer. Here is a sweet and savory Chilled Strawberry-Avocado Soup that’s perfect for a summer appetizer or even a great addition to a light summer lunch.

 

Chilled Strawberry-Avocado SoupChilled Strawberry-Avocado Soup

(Dairy free, gluten free, vegetarian)

Makes 4-6 servings

1 pint strawberries

1 avocado

½ seedless cucumber, chopped

Juice of 2 limes

2/3 cup Honey Simple Syrup (equal parts honey and water, brought to a boil, then cooled)

5-7 small basil leaves

Pinch of salt

Hull the strawberries and toss them into a food processor. Blend until they’re smooth. Then add the avocado, cucumber, lime juice, honey simple syrup and basil. Blend again, until smooth. Add a pinch of salt, give the food processor another whirl and give the soup a taste. (I recommend tasting the flavor as you add the ingredients. I like the strawberry flavor to be the most prominent, but you may prefer the refreshing cucumber. Play with it!)

When the soup is flavored to your liking, pour it into a clean bowl and chill it in the refrigerator for two hours or overnight. (The basil will add more flavor the longer the soup is chilled.) Serve and enjoy!

Chipotle Bean Burritos (Vegetarian)

Chipotle Bean BurritoI love meat. Sometimes I just need a big, juicy steak with a pat of garlic butter on top. But most of the time, I don’t enjoy cooking meat (it’s really the raw part I don’t much care for)… so we don’t eat a whole lot of it (my poor husband!).

Growing up, some sort of meat was served for dinner every night. It was the focal point of the dinner plate. So, I grew up thinking that a meal wasn’t a real meal without meat. Even today, at this very moment as I share this recipe with you, I almost feel guilty about not including meat (ground turkey would be pretty tasty in this…).

Anyway, I was pleasantly surprised by the taste and texture of this dish, which was inspired by an old Cooking Light magazine article. I made a few tweaks to the recipe and really didn’t miss the meat at all (for shame!).

So, next weekend when you’re wondering what on earth you’re going to fix for Meatless Monday, try this recipe out – it takes 15 minutes to make, it’s vegetarian and practically guilt-free.

 

Chipotle Bean Burritos (Vegetarian)

*Inspired by Cooking Light

2 teaspoons canola oil

1 large garlic clove, minced

1 teaspoon ground red chipotle

¼ teaspoon salt

½ cup water

1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained

1 (15 oz.) can dark red kidney beans, drained

1 (4 oz.) can green chilies

¼ cup chipotle salsa

Juice of 1 lime

4 reduced-fat flour tortillas

Toppings:

2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced

3 green onions, thinly sliced

3 leaves romaine lettuce, chopped

1 avocado, sliced

Cilantro

Shredded cheese

Sour cream

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently and keeping a watchful eye on the pan to make sure the garlic doesn’t burn. Add the ground red chipotle and salt. Then add the water, beans and green chilies. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

While bean mixture is simmering, prepare tomatoes, lettuce, green onions and avocado.

When bean mixture is done, use a wooden spoon to mash the beans just a bit. Then stir in the salsa and lime juice.

Assemble the burritos with your desired toppings, give one more squeeze of lime and a touch of cilantro to the filling before rolling it up, and enjoy!