Pumpkin – Black Bean Cakes with Creamy Horseradish Sauce

All right, I know, enough with the black beans already!  The posting of this recipe, as well as my Black Bean and Wheat Berry Chili with Turkey Sausage, comes from the fact that I made black beans just a few days ago, and therefore wanted to show a few ways in which I use them.

I work very hard to be economical in my kitchen, I don’t buy or make things that I don’t have some sort of plan for because I absolutely hate to waste food.  Learning how to maximize your ingredients and to reduce the amount of waste in your kitchen, is not always a simple as it might sound, but it is, in my opinion, a very important skill to attempt to master.  Such an endeavor requires creativity in cooking and the willingness to experiment.

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Cranberry – Apple Chutney with Ginger

I love the tang of cranberries, and I love how that tang is traditionally used to cut through the richness of a Thanksgiving dinner.  However, I hate when cranberry sauce has too much sweetness added to help subdue that tang.  It is for that reason that I really enjoy this Cranberry – Apple chutney with Ginger.  There is some added sweetness, but the beauty of this chutney is that you get the tang of the cranberries, offset by the sweetness of the apples, and then you get a little more punch from the ginger.  It is a lovely combination of not too sweet, not too sharp, complex flavor.

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Apple – Jalapeño Chutney

Based on the fact that I seem to be trying to put anything interesting and seasonal I can into a jar, and seeing how my Peach – Jalapeño Chutney turned out so great, I decided to try the same recipe with apples instead of peaches.  I made it as a one off recipe a few weeks ago, and served it over a baked brie as an appetizer, getting a very positive response, I of course decided to make a batch and can it.

Just before I attempted to undertake this endeavor, I received my November/December 2011 issue of Cook’s Illustrated which included a great piece of advice on how to seed jalapeños, so I thought I would share it with you here.  Start by slicing the chili lengthwise about a quarter of the way in, leaving the stem and seed pod intact.

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Habanero – Maple Barbecue Sauce

One of my favorite restaurants in Boston, Deep Ellum, makes these incredible Maple-Habanero barbecue chicken wings.  I have always been more of a hot wings than a barbecue wings kind of girl, but these changed my outlook.  They combined two of my favorite things, maple and spiciness.  In fact, these qualified as both hot and barbecue, incorporating the sweetness of maple.  What could be better?

I became so addicted, that I knew I had to make my own attempt at this concoction, especially after we moved from Boston to Vermont and were no longer in walking distance of Deep Ellum.  Though slightly different than Deep Ellum‘s, on the whole, I think that this barbecue sauce turned out great.  You get the sweetness of the maple first, and then the tang of the habanero with a little bit of smokiness at the end.

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Crab cakes with chipotle chili sauce and grilled corn and tomato salsa

Birthdays are a time for celebration.  They provide the perfect excuse to show someone that you care.  Even a simple gesture can mean a great deal, after all, who doesn’t like to receive a birthday card in the mail.

This year, for my Mom’s birthday, I decided to throw her a little party.  I asked her more than a month ago what she might like for her special dinner, and she responded with the definitive statement: “really good crab cakes and your maple carrot cake.”  So that is what we had!

I have made crab cakes a number of times before, but have never found a recipe that I was in love with, until now!  These crab cakes were absolutely delicious, they were moist and flavorful, and did not require a sauce of any kind.  However, wanting to appeal to everyone’s tastes in my dinner party, I did make two sauces both of which were excellent, and did a lovely job of enhancing the crab cakes.  Of the two sauces, I think that the chipolte chili sauce was definitely the better of the two.  It provided just the right amount of heat (however, I do love spicy food), but did not overpower the flavor of the crab cakes themselves.  The grilled corn and tomato salsa was also good, and appealed more to those who do not prefer spicy food.

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Peach – Jalapeño Chutney

I started making this relish on a one off basis, in much smaller portions, earlier this summer to serve over grilled chicken.  The recipe I was adapting from the Williams-Sonoma website called for plums, so the first several time I made it with plums, which was absolutely delicious.  However, since we bought a bushel of peaches to can, I decided to make a similar relish out of peaches and can it for use in the months ahead over chicken, pork or ham.  The result? … A beautiful mix of sweet and spicy that is a delicious addition to a multitude of dishes.

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Mrs. Sio’s Garden Salsa

I fell in love with this salsa recipe in college while having dinner at a friend’s house.  I now make it every summer so that I may savor it throughout the rest of the year.  Beyond the traditional, chips and salsa, I love to serve this with all different kinds of dishes.  My all time favorite is a dollop of this salsa on top of a La Platte River organic ground beef burger with a melted slice of Cabot extra sharp cheddar cheese on an english muffin, with a side of homemade baked sweet potato fries.  YUM!!!

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