Da Bee's Knees

Food, Faith and Family

January 24, 2022
Jalanda B

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Cooking With Love (My Joni’s Carne Guisada)

I’ve written in the past about cooking for friends and family. It is one of the special ways that I love special people in my life. In the past, I also mentioned cooking for different reasons and seasons. The year 2021 was a year of active love and final transition.

I was blessed to have extra time with my sister before she left this life. She chose me to be her confidante and special support as she fought her losing battle against cancer. She never told me when she understood that she would not win the battle. I believe that she knew that I would not be able to hear it from her. She was right.

I called her many names in love. To me, she was simply my Joni.

Even now, months after she left… I cannot bear the pain. But slowly, surely I am finding ways to blunt the pain in healthy ways. While my Joni was living, she was an avid foodie. One of her favorite foods in the WHOLE WIDE WORLD was Carne Guisada. We grew up in Texas, where Carne Guisada is a favorite and familiar comfort food. It even was served in the school cafeteria!

My sister lived in Florida from the 1980s until she passed away in August. But every time she visited Texas, she was sure to stop at Taco Cabana for her Carne Guisada “fix”. Fortunately, I learned how to make a very respectable Carne Guisada myself while I lived in Florida. From 2002 until 2015 we were neighbors. I prepared it for her, to her delight. I loved her well while she was here. But I miss her. I always will.

Eating this warm, comforting dish helps. Even for the moment. I hope you try it. It is a pretty authentic recipe, however I don’t use lard or bacon grease. Instead I use a plant oil. (For authenticity, you can use them though!)

Ingredients

3 Tbsp. Oil (I use and oil with a high smoke point: Avocado or Grapeseed)

2.5 to 3 Pound Chuck Roast, trimmed and cubed

3 Large Ripe Tomatoes, diced

1 Large Onion, diced

1 Medium Bell pepper, diced

3 cloves of garlic, sliced

1.5 Tbsp. Ground Cumin (Comino)

1 Tbsp. Garlic Powder

1 Tbsp. Onion Powder

2 tsp. Black Pepper

1 Tbsp. Guajillo Chili Powder (You can use regular chili powder)

1 Tbsp. Kosher Salt

1/4 cup water

2 Tbsps. AP flour (More, if you like a thicker gravy)

Method

Choose a heavy bottomed pot to make Carne Guisada. It matters.

Heat oil in the pot over medium heat, as you begin to chop the vegetables. Once the oil is shimmering and hot, add the chopped chuck roast. DO NOT STIR. Allow to sizzle and brown. Continue chopping the vegetables.

On top of the meat, add the chopped tomatoes. Do not disturb the meat. We are going for a deep sear. (Not a burn, sear. Remember the pot is on medium. If you stove blazes high, go for medium/low) Next add the onion, bell pepper and garlic. Please use all fresh vegetables, including garlic. This is not the time to use jarred garlic. Trust me on this one.

Once you have added all of the vegetable, you can NOW stir the pot. Bring up the deeply seared meat pieces to the top, giving other pieces a chance to brown and sear.

Now is the time to add your seasonings. Just drop them all in, one after the other. Do not skimp on the Cumin/Comino. That is the classic spice profile for this dish. It mellows as it slow cooks. After adding the salt, it is time to cover the pot and turn it down to a low braise. (We are not ready for the water and flour)

The vegetables will break down and release enough juices to tenderize the meat and create the basis for the savory gravy. You will need to resist the aromas… Stay the course. This labor of love takes time.

After one hour stir the pot, being sure to scrape up all stuck bits. Recover, and cook another two hours at a minimum. Continue to stir every hour.

After 3 hours have elapsed, taste for seasoning. Adjust salt, if needed. If the beef is tender, you are ready for the final part. If not yet tender- you guessed it: braise another hour.

When the meat is tender and the aroma is driving you and your neighbors crazy, it is time to thicken the gravy. Mix cool water with flour. Stir until smooth. Add to the pot and stir to mix well. Turn up the heat and briefly bring the mixture to a boil. Once the pot boils, turn the heat down to low and cook for fifteen minutes.

Now comes the hard part. Cover and remove from heat. Allow to rest at least twenty minutes before serving. It just so happens that it takes about twenty minutes to make the perfect Mexican Rice. (wink)

I like to serve with rice, pinto beans and flour tortillas. It is a comfort meal after all. Now is not the time to count calories or carbs.

Instead it is a time to count your blessings.

My Joni was one of my greatest.

She was my laugh until I wheeze partner, fellow foodie, beautiful example of godly love and commitment, mother, wife, servant, scholar, Gigi, daughter, Auntie, mentor, sister and sister friend, overcomer and fashion diva.

She was also so many more things to me. More than words that I have to say.

Rest, My Joni.

January 21, 2022
Jalanda B

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Taco Love

This happened again recently in our home. I thought I would re-post.
Jalanda

Da Bee's Knees

I love tacos. Let me say that right up front. I love tacos. It is always a good day, good time to eat tacos. That’s my point of view. You cannot change my mind.

I love fajita tacos, breakfast tacos, street tacos, ground beef tacos, chicken tacos, fish tacos… I think you get it… I am totally down with taco runs.

Tacos are easy to get on the table in a hurry. And that is just one more thing to make you love them, too. Things are topsy turvy in 2020, and like many folks: I work at home. I’m blessed to say that. So many do not have that option. I was able to take a twenty minute break and get these delicious, luscious and spicy tacos on the table.

Oh…. I forgot to tell you: They are Vegan.

Don’t run away!!! You will not find any soy, tempeh…

View original post 301 more words

July 16, 2021
Jalanda B

2 comments

Double Pesto Ravioli and Vegetables

Yesterday, I made this for dinner.

It was a HIT.

I used another blogger’s base recipe as a jump off point. While perusing Pinterest some time ago, I saved a link that caught my eye from Julia’s Album. Her recipe looked so good and very easy to prepare. While I love red pepper flakes, I avoided them for the younger palates in the household. But you should feel free to include them if you like!

My recipe has the same flavor profile, with pumped up veggies and I added two types of pesto in place of the sun dried tomatoes. It comes together easily and is a one dish meal. I added garlic bread as a side. You could also add salad, but it isn’t necessary as I filled this ravioli dish with veggies! I also added some sliced chicken sausage to pump up the satiety factor for the omnivores in the family. Here’s what you need:

Ingredients:

3 Tablespoons Olive Oil

12 Ounces Sliced Baby Bella Mushrooms

1 small onion, sliced

1 clove of Elephant Garlic, minced (or 3-4 regular garlic cloves)

3 sliced Aidells Chicken and Apple Sausages, sliced

1 small yellow summer squash, diced

1 red bell pepper, sliced

3-4 Stalks of fresh broccoletti, chopped (and par-boiled with ravioli)

5 oz. Fresh Baby Spinach

Kosher Salt

Fresh Ground Black Pepper

2 -3 Tablespoons Prepared Sun Dried Tomato Pesto

1-2 Tablespoons Prepared Traditional Basil Pesto

15 oz. 4 Cheese Ravioli, cooked al dente

Grated Parmesan, as desired

Method:

  1. In a wide and deep skillet, warm olive oil. Add mushrooms and cook until browned.
  2. Add sliced onion and minced garlic. Cook until onions are transparent and taking on browned edges.
  3. Add sausages and again, cook until browned.
  4. Follow with adding sweet red pepper and broccoletti. Cook until softened.
  5. Add spinach, salt and pepper and cook until wilted.
  6. Add both pesto types and the ravioli. Stir to combine.
  7. Top with grated Parmesan, cover and let rest for 5 minutes. Then, serve!

Please do try this easy dish. If you do, post your review! Until next time…

Be well,

Jalanda

April 25, 2021
Jalanda B

1 comment

Butter Cookies, Berries and Pizza

How’s it going, you ask? Why… thank you for asking! As the end of the school year looms, it’s going about as well as expected. Translation: Hang on! It’s gonna be wild!

I also began pushing more on exploring baking and cooking for home and others. I decided to focus on creating and stretching in my creative play in the kitchen. As I deal with both work stress and concern for a dear one that is battling for her life, I need a positive distraction.

Lately, I’ve been putting in time baking. Baking is not my comfort zone. I feel that I’m far more confident and accomplished cooking. But there is something that just draws me with the slow, measured and meticulous process that is baking. I’ve had some astonishing successes. I’m not sure how, as I’ve been distracted. But the Zen of baking grounds me.

First up: I was asked to bake a Keto Cheesecake for a friend and his wife. I was upfront and disclosed that I’d never done such a request. Yet, somehow I hit a home run! His positive review sent another request my way for a Gluten Free Cheesecake. That was also fun and successful.

There were scones and black bottomed cupcakes and Chicago Butter Cookies! I discovered the recipe about 6 years ago. I love these cookies. This weekend, a real Chicagoan gave them her stamp of approval!

Finally, this weekend I tried my hand at homemade pizza. It looked good. But it was not good. It was slightly less than mediocre. Why would I share this? Because we all miss the mark sometimes. It’s okay. It’s not the end of the world. Sometimes we eat mediocre pizza.

I know that I am a creator. I thrive in creating with different flavors, textures and colors. But really, the Greatest Creator of them all makes me smile the biggest with His gorgeous flavors, textures and colors.

Be well,

Jalanda

March 26, 2021
Jalanda B

no comments

Flexitarianism: More not Less

I have been asked many times to explain what on earth it means to be a Flexitarian. The best that I can come up with is that being a Flexi means that I eat more things, not less.

Really, that is the simple truth of the matter. The key however, is which things I eat more of, with the result being that I naturally eat less of other things as a consequence. (Note: the focus is not on less! It’s more of the really, really GOOD stuff) We put foods in two categories: plant based or not. That’s it.

Looking back over the years, I can see how my food choices have evolved. I have to say, it’s been a very gradual and pleasant reconstruct of my idea of feeding my physical body what it needs, deliciously. Most often I need nuts and whole grains, greens and legumes and lots of whole fruit. Sometimes, I need dairy and poultry or fish. And every once and again I need beef. I even rarely need pork. (C’mon… BACON)

I’d say the largest portion of what we consume in our home is “living colors”. We eat colorfully with abandon. What is not naturally colorful, is often infused with plant foods (grains, nuts, veggies and fruits) We don’t do this to hide the plant foods. We find that it makes the resulting dish BETTER TASTING, more filling and decidedly more nutritious.

So yes, we are predominantly Plant-Based. But we eat a much larger variety of foods by being 80/20 Flexis. (80 percent or more plant based diet) The natural result of eating this way, is that our tastes have also evolved. We prefer plant based food items more and more. The way that foods taste, and how we feel drives our food choices.

It’s my hope that you will better understand what you are seeing when I post dishes that do or don’t have animal products or dairy. It’s not either/or. It’s more. Always more.

Be well,

Jalanda

March 6, 2021
Jalanda B

2 comments

Soup for the Soul

We love soup. It does not matter the date on the calendar or the weather outside. Soup is one of our go-to meals. It is a one bowl solution to hunger, cravings for home made taste, health booster and a great vehicle for plant based eating. It also happens that soup is one of the more comforting foods that you can eat, even when your appetite is not robust.

I want to share a quick method that I use, changing up ingredients to put soup in our bowls and bellies in a jiffy. I find that a mixture of fresh produce, pantry items and seasonings are the way to a soup that tastes like it simmered all day. Here’s what you need:

Seasonings:

1 Tbsp. Onion Powder

1 Tbsp. Garlic Powder

1 Tsp. Ground Black Pepper

1 Tsp. Ground Coriander

1/8 Tsp. Red Pepper Flakes (optional)

3 Tablespoons Knorr Bouillon (I used Tomato/Chicken)

Salt to taste (if needed)

Fresh Produce:

3 Ribs of Celery, diced

4 Carrots, scrubbed and chopped

1 Yellow Squash, Diced

1 Onion, Diced

1 Sweet Bell Pepper, dice (any color but green)

2 Cups diced Butternut Squash (I bought pre-packaged in the produce aisle)

2 cloves of garlic minced

1 large potato, diced

Pantry Items:

3 Tablespoons Grapeseed Oil

1 Jar (15.5 ounces) Marina Sauce

32 Ounces of Vegetable Stock

1 Can Diced Tomatoes, No Salt Added

1 Can of Green Beans, drained and rinsed

1 Can of Great Northern Beans, drained and rinsed

Method:

Place pot over heat and add oil. Add chopped fresh vegetables (except potato) and garlic. Saute until they begin to soften. Add seasonings on top. Stir and continue to cook for about five minutes more.

Add marinara, and rinsed and drained beans. Add stock. Add diced tomatoes.

Cook on medium for 1.5 hours. Add potato and cook 30 minutes more.

Check for salt.

Serve.

And… that’s it! You can switch up the ingredients. But really, all you need is a good mixture of fresh produce, pantry items and spices. The sky is the limit!

Please let me know if you try my method.

Be well,

Jalanda

February 18, 2021
Jalanda B

2 comments

Creating Delicious Menus that Support Health

Stuffed Sweet Red Bell Peppers and Green Beans and Cherry Tomatoes

Cooking is for me: creativity, fun, a responsibility and a calling.

I started out simply wanting to prepare tasty dishes to make people that I love happy. Now, more thought often has to go into the process of creating a meal for someone that I love. I believe that my interest in cooking early in my adult life that continues even today is one of my callings in this lifetime. I don’t know that I ever realized that until recently. God really does give you what you need to complete the tasks He sets before you.

I did not know that in various seasons in my life I would need to cook for family and friends that wanted or needed to lose weight or gain weight. I did not know that I would need to learn how to feed myself to feel better and to be healthier in order to live with less pain and medical interventions, even hospitalizations. I did not know that twice I would be called to create enticing, nutrient dense dishes to support a loved one battling a formidable medical adversary to live.

I did not know that I would be called to assist in bringing “color” and variety to colorless and over-processed traditional Southern Black meat centric diets to support longevity and recuperation from surgeries. Lastly, I certainly did not know that I would marry someone that like myself has unique dietary needs and tastes with young children with severe food allergies when I was fifty years old.

Yet, all of these things were and are true.

I will begin to regularly share dishes that have served loved ones and myself well as we eat to live. I use creativity and research to cook and assemble meals that meet our health needs and taste preferences. Ultimately, I add my gift of flavor building, food pairings and creativity to bring smiles and contentment to myself and others. Beautiful plates filled with appealing, health supporting foods are the end goal.

In no way am I a dietician or dietary professional. What I am is this: a person blessed with an interest and gift to create nourishing and delicious food/fuel for the bodies that our souls temporarily occupy. This works for us. Your mileage may vary. (smile) It is my hope that this series will inspire you to create foods that people in your sphere need and will want…. and ENJOY.

We eat the foods that we choose because they are delicious and we want to fully live!

Be well,

Jalanda

November 2, 2020
Jalanda B

2 comments

Butternut Squash and Black Bean Soup

A little over ten years ago while living next door to my sister in Florida, we began to broaden the depth and breadth of vegetables that we served our family. We grew up in a typical middle class American family and ate our share of obligatory canned corn, peas and green beans. Fresh vegetables were various greens and very simple salads (think iceberg lettuce, cucumber and tomato). We also ate “crook-neck” yellow squash. Outside of that squash. Pumpkin pie wasn’t even on our plates. Sweet potato pie reigned.

We were well loved and well fed. But not exposed to many different plant based foods. We saw them while shopping. We also found them to be mysterious and bewildering. However as adults and burgeoning foodies, curiosity began to nag. And then we began to explore.

In the last two years, I have discovered butternut squash. Yes, I am late to the party. But I now adore it. This soup is stupendously good, and easy. I do hope you will try it. If you do, drop a comment.

Ingredients for the Soup

1/4 medium sized pre-roasted butternut squash (use the gourd end)

1 26.5 oz. can of black beans, rinsed well

2 Tbsp Sundried Tomato packed in oil

1 Tbsp. Avocado oil

1 medium white onion, chopped finely

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 stalk of celery, minced

1/2 tsp. smoked paprika

1 1/2 tsp. cumin (comino)

1/2 tsp. black pepper

1 bay leaf

4 cups of chicken stock (you could use vegetable stock, if preferred)

Kosher salt to taste

Ingredients for the roasted squash topping

1/4 pre-roasted butternut squash, cubed (use the “arm” end)

1/2 tsp. Cinnamon

1/4 tsp. Cumin

1/4 Smoked Paprika

Spray Avocado Oil

Kosher Salt

Ingredients for Lime Crema

1/2 cup sour cream

Juice from one fresh lime

Kosher salt to taste

Extra: fresh cilantro, sliced green onion

Method:

In a large soup pot, add the sundried tomatoes in oil (yes, you want the flavorful oil) and avocado oil. Add celery, onion and garlic and saute until slightly golden. Add the cinnamon, cumin, smoked paprika and black pepper. Continue to saute until aromatic.

Add the bay leaf, rinsed beans, stock and salt. Simmer for about 15 minutes. Discard the bay leaf. Carefully remove 3/4 of the soup and place in a blender. Add the butternut squash and blend until smooth. Return mixture to pot. Stir. Taste and adjust seasoning, and turn down to low and cover.

Next, make the squash cubes. Cube the squash and place on a baking sheet sprayed with non-stick spray. Sprinkle with the cinnamon, cumin and smoked paprika. Spray with avocado oil. Salt to taste. Roast in a high oven at 450 until carmelized.

Mix the ingredients for the crema in a small bowl and set aside.

To serve, ladle soup into bowls, add lime crema, roasted squash cubes and if desired, cilantro and green onions.

Serve with tortilla chips.

Be well,

Jalanda

September 10, 2020
Jalanda B

1 comment

Taco Love

I love tacos. Let me say that right up front. I love tacos. It is always a good day, good time to eat tacos. That’s my point of view. You cannot change my mind.

I love fajita tacos, breakfast tacos, street tacos, ground beef tacos, chicken tacos, fish tacos… I think you get it… I am totally down with taco runs.

Tacos are easy to get on the table in a hurry. And that is just one more thing to make you love them, too. Things are topsy turvy in 2020, and like many folks: I work at home. I’m blessed to say that. So many do not have that option. I was able to take a twenty minute break and get these delicious, luscious and spicy tacos on the table.

Oh…. I forgot to tell you: They are Vegan.

Don’t run away!!! You will not find any soy, tempeh or tofu in these tacos. The filling is 100% from scratch and whole food, plant based. It’s also insanely delicious.

Let’s get started on what you will need:

Ingredients:

1 Cup Raw Almonds (Do not use roasted)

1/4 Cup roasted, unsalted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)

1/4 cup Hemp Seed Hearts

5 medium portabella mushrooms, chopped

Grapeseed Oil (about 1/8 cup to 1/4 cup)

3 Cloves of Garlic, minced

1/2 small onion, chopped finely

1 Tablespoon Onion Powder

1 Tablespoon Garlic Powder

1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper

1/2 Teaspoon Smoked Paprika

2 Teaspoons Ground Comino

2 Tablespoons Chili Powder

Salt to Taste ( I used about a scant 1/2 tsp)

1/4 cup water

Prepared Tortillas of your Choice

Taco Toppings (We had chopped fresh spinach, salsa and fresh tomatoes for the vegan option. There was cheese and sour cream available for those that wanted vegetarian)

Method:

Place almonds, pepitas and hemp seed hearts into food processor bowl. Process until crumbly. Add chopped mushrooms and process again until clumps begin to form and mixture looks “meaty”.

Place contents of processor bowl into skillet prepared with grapeseed oil and cook over medium heat. Do not stir immediately. Add right on top all of the spices and the chopped onion and minced garlic.

Stir and cook until mixture begins to brown. (Browning is FLAVOR TOWN) Once you see some browned bits, add the water and turn the heat up to evaporate the water. Stir frequently to avoid sticking and burning.

(Our home is Flexitarian. Foreground is vegan taco filling cooking. Background is beef filling for the teen omnivore.)

Taste for seasoning. Adjust as preferred.

Fill tortillas with taco filling and add choices of toppings.

Makes enough for six generous tacos. I chose to have mine on flour tortillas with cheese and sour cream. Lush!

Be well,

Jalanda

July 15, 2020
Jalanda B

1 comment

Carrot Mango Salad

This crazy life, right?

Let’s just say that current events local, national and worldwide have put a serious strain on everyone. While I relentlessly serve up fresh foods, I admit that more often, lately food has been brought in on days when the world is just too serious to bear.

I try to compromise.

I will prepare side dishes to round out meals that are otherwise “less than clean nutritiously”. I admit to meeting the low standard of “at least SOMETHING fresh and living daily”. Today is a win. There were fresh, juicy black plums at breakfast. This salad will boost the fresh food intake for the day.

Tonight we are having chicken sandwiches and fries from a local take out. But along side, we will enjoy this delicious and healthy Carrot Mango Salad. Bonus: If you have a food processor, it comes together quicker than the teen student driver and her Dad can get back with the hot food.

Ingredients:

1 Large Ripe Mango

3 Large Carrots, scrubbed

1 Large Granny Smith Apple, washed and unpeeled

Juice of 2 Large Limes (zest one into salad bowl, before juicing)

1/4 inch of microplaned fresh ginger (Omit, if you are spice sensitive)

1/4 cup dried cranberries

1/2 Tsp. Kosher Salt

1 Tablespoon of Avocado Oil

1/4 Cup of Raw Honey (or Agave Syrup)

1 Teaspoon Yellowbird Serrano Sauce (optional)

Method:

Begin by zesting and juicing limes into salad bowl. Microblade ginger into juice and zest. Add cranberries. Set aside.

Remove blades from the processor bowl and the insert grate plate.

Cut and core apple into pieces to fit mouth of food processor feed tube. Process apple. Remove shredded apple to salad bowl and mix will with lime juice mixture to prevent browning.

Scrub and cut carrots into pieces to fit mouth of food processor feed tube. Process carrots. Remove shredded carrots to salad bowl.

Remove grate plate from the processor bowl.

Cut mango, by slicing “cheeks” from around the large seed. Save one large cheek for the dressing.

Cut one mango cheek into small dice and add to salad bowl. Mix well.

Replace food processor blades in processor bowl.

To processor bowl add, mango flesh from around mango seed and flesh from the reserved cheek of mango, honey, kosher salt, avocado oil and Yellowbird Serrano Sauce. Discard mango seed.

Process until silky smooth. Check for seasoning. You are looking for sweet with a touch of salt and warmth from the ginger and Yellow Bird sauce. Adjust to taste. (Warning: the family thought that I went overboard with the ginger. So, I have adjusted the amount above to reflect that)

Add processed dressing to the salad bowl and mix very well.

Refrigerate 15 to 30 minutes.

Serves 4 (as a side dish)

Be well,

Jalanda