Two Potato Chili and Cumin Gratin

Did someone say October? Good, because this month is my favorite.

When I think of October I think of fall colours, cute boots, and the first hints of rosy cheeks. I start getting excited for pumpkin sweets, tea, and comfort food. But most importantly a lot of great “life” things happen this month.

October is the month of my boy’s birthday, our dating anniversary, and our soon to be wedding anniversary. It’s the time of year where we get to go hiking amongst the changing leaves and not sweat every ounce of water we drink. Overall, it’s good. It’s the month I look forward to every year, and by far my favorite season to cook in.

Here is a recipe for potato gratin made with sweet potatoes, white potatoes, cheese, and a creamy chili-cumin flavour to kick it up. I highly recommend this dish, and hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Whisk together all of the ingredients except the potato slices. Make a layer of potato and sweet potato slices in a deep 9 x 13-inch baking dish.

Pour over some of the cream mixture.

Repeat until all of the ingredients are used up.

I like to add some cheese on top at the end – it’s a good idea. Cover with aluminium foil and bake at 350°C for 35-45 minutes.

Remove the foil and continue to bake until golden brown. Allow to rest for at least 10 minutes before serving….then devour!

Two Potato, Chilli and Cumin Gratin
Recipe taken from K.O Rasoi
(Serves 4-6)

Ingredients
3 medium potatoes (500g), peeled and sliced thinly
3 medium sweet potatoes (500g), peeled and sliced thinly
1 1/4 cups half and half (or heavy cream)
60g cheddar cheese
1 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp chilli powder
1 clove garlic
1 tsp salt or to taste
¼ tsp ground black pepper
¼ tsp garam masala

Directions:
1. Whisk together all of the ingredients except the potato slices.

2. Make a layer of potato and sweet potato slices in a deep 9 x 13-inch baking dish and pour over some of the cream mixture. Repeat until all of the ingredients are used up.

3. Cover with aluminium foil and bake at 350°F for 35-45 minutes.

4. Remove the foil and continue to bake until golden brown. Allow to rest for at least 10 minutes before serving.

5. Grab a spoon and devour.

Costa Rican Black Beans and Butter Honey Plantains

Anyone else ready for summer? Don’t get me wrong, I love a good winter ski, snowmobile ride, or outdoor hot tub party, but I am missing the beach!

I grew up in a little town in Ontario where beaches are everywhere. In fact, my Grandparents (where I spent most of my time) live on a beach, my cottage is on a beach, and my high school was in 5 minutes walking distance to a beach. Geeze…just writing that makes me homesick!

Luckily, my vacation in Costa Rica brought some darn great ocean views. Tropical wise, I’ve only ever been to Cuba (two times) and Mexico, but Costa Rica has by far the best beaches.

To make me feel sexy like a Costa Rican tropical again, I threw together this awesome Costa Rican meal! Saucy black beans, brown rice, and some scream worthy butter honey plantains. You need to make this. Like now.

To begin, get your brown rice cooking and get out your ingredients: black beans, onion, lime, tomato paste, oregano, cumin, veggie broth, chili and garlic (I guess it’s missing in this photo!)

After about 10 minutes, start cooking your black beans by first heating a medium skillet over medium heat and adding canola oil. Once shimmering, cook your onion until translucent.

Stir in the garlic, tomato paste, and bay leaf until the garlic is fragrant and the tomato paste has cooked off a bit, about 30-60 seconds.

Add the beans to the pan and using a wooden spatula, smash about half of the beans.

Stir in the veggie broth, chili powder, cumin, and oregano. Simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until flavours meld and most of the broth has been absorbed, about 10 minutes.

Stir in lime juice and season to taste with salt and pepper as needed.

The plantains only take about 10 minutes so these can be made right after you start your beans. First, melt butter and add plantains in a single layer.

Cook plantains on each side, for about 3 minutes, or until they reach a caramelized brown color. Drizzle with honey just before they are ready. Transfer to a plate covered with paper towel and allow to drain for a minute.

Now you can get to plating. Add a scoop of brown rice on your plate. Add half the black beans. Add half of the plantains and you’re done! If you want to be fancy (or awesome) you could add some chopped scallions or cilantro. My boy loooooves cilantro so of course he threw a giant handful on top and mixed it all around.

Costa Rican Black Beans
Recipe adapted from Smells Like Home
Makes 6 servings

Ingredients:
4 tsp canola oil
1/2 cup diced onion
2 fat cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp tomato paste
2 bay leaf
2 cans (15 1/2 oz) of black beans, ( 1 can drained and rinsed, 1 whole can)
1 cup vegetable broth
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp oregano
Juice of 1 lime
Chopped cilantro (optional, for garnish)

Directions:
Heat a medium skillet over medium heat, and add the canola oil. Once shimmering, cook the onion until translucent. Stir in the garlic, tomato paste, and bay leaf until the garlic is fragrant and the tomato paste has cooked off a bit, about 30-60 seconds.

Add the beans to the pan. One can should be drained and rinsed and the other should be put in juice and all. Using a wooden spatula or potato masher, smash the beans until about half are mashed up. Stir in the veggie broth, chili powder, cumin, and oregano. Your beans should be “soupy” and that is a GOOD thing! Simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until flavours meld and most of the broth has been absorbed, about 10 minutes. Stir in lime juice and season to taste with salt and pepper as needed.

If desired, sprinkle cilantro.

Butter Honey Plantains
A Warm Vanilla Sugar Recipe

Ingredients:
1 ripe (almost black) plantain, peeled and sliced in 1 inch slices
2 tablespoons butter
Drizzle of honey

Directions:
In a non-stick skillet over medium heat, melt butter.

Add plantains, in a single layer. Cook plantains on each side, for about 3 minutes, or until they reach a caramelized brown color. Drizzle with honey just before they are ready.

Transfer to a plate covered with paper towel and allow to drain for a minute.

Baked Chickpea Garlic Rice Pilaf

For the past week I’ve been having trouble knowing what to do with myself. Towards the end of October a pain developed in my left hip and it ended up being bad enough that I decided to take this week off from running in hopes it would get better. I thought is was an overuse injury – I’ve had this before in my foot, but it’s been a week today and I can still feel the pain anytime I have to run for the bus, or when I have to do things like “skaters” in my workout routine. I can still do strength workouts, yoga, and pretty much anything that’s not cardio….but none of it’s running. And running is a major thing in my life that makes me happy.

I’ve been running since high school, but I started running regularly when I was 19 and have pretty much been hitting the pavement 5-6 days a week since. It clears my mind, it hipes up my endorphins, it makes me feel strong. For those of you who do run, you know what I mean, but for those who don’t, trust me, it’s addicting. Not being able to do this simple 40 – 120 minute thing every day has really thrown me off. I feel lost. Yoga helps a bit. Long walks help a bit. But I still feel…weird.

I wish I could say something uplifting now. Tell you how I’ve gotten over it or tell you that I’m feeling better because of this awesome rice dish. But I think I just need time. Or advice. And I need to write these thoughts down because this is pretty much all I think about right now! I chose to share this particular rice dish because it is a favorite thing of mine. Like running, or chocolate chip cookies, or Nanny’s house. It’s something I’ve been making for a long time. It’s garlic-y, warm, and has a perfect blend of flavours that cook right into the rice. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

In a saucepan or skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat.

Add the garlic and let cook for about 1 minute.

Add rice to the pan and cook until both are golden brown, about 3-4 minutes.

Stir in 1 cup of the chicken broth or veggie stock, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.

Pour the mixture into the casserole dish, cover, and bake for 25 minutes.

Stir in the remaining 1½ cups chicken broth and bake, covered, for another 45 minutes.

About 15 minutes before it is finished baking, stir in a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

Eat up!

Baked Chickpea Garlic Rice Pilaf
Makes 3 main dish meals and 5 side dish meals
Annie’s Eats

Ingredients:
2 tbsp. butter
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 cup long-grain white rice
2½ cups chicken broth (or veggie broth), divided
1 cup canned chickpeas, drained
½ tsp. salt
pepper to taste
Squeeze of lemon juice

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 375° F. Have ready a covered casserole dish.

In a saucepan or skillet, melt the butter over medium-high heat.

Add the garlic and rice to the pan and cook until both are golden brown, about 3-4 minutes.

Stir in 1 cup of the chicken/veggie broth, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.

Pour the mixture into the casserole dish, cover, and bake for 25 minutes.

Stir in the remaining 1½ cups chicken/veggie broth and bake, covered, for another 45 minutes.

About 15 minutes before it is finished baking, stir in a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

Note: This recipe can be doubled without increasing the baking time. I double this recipe almost every time I make it and it turns out just as yummy!