Spring has sprung in Southwest Virginia where I live…even though there are 18 more days until it is officially Spring (March 20, 2017). The flowering trees are in bloom, my daffodils are showing their cute little yellow blossoms and some of my lilies are popping out of the ground.
I have a major case of Spring Fever and can’t wait to get outside in the garden and visit our local Farmer’s Markets. I love to visit a neighborhood village “Grandin Village” near my home when the weather starts to warm up. There’s lots going on in the village ~ cooking and food classes, wonderful restaurants, natural foods co-op and soon the village farmer’s market will open for the season.
I recently took a cooking class taught by food writer extraordinaire Christina Nifong at our local Natural Foods Co-op and I would love to introduce my readers to her fabulous recipes. One of her latest posts introduces “The Buddha Bowl” which is such a delightful way to utilize the fabulous fresh produce available in our farmer’s markets.
Christina explains the concept of the Buddha Bowl in her blog post: A Buddha Bowl is a bowl (some say it should be a favorite bowl or one with meaning so this meal feeds your spirit as well as your belly) that’s filled with one part grain, one part greens, one part protein. Top that layer with veggies (they can be grilled, sautéed, roasted, raw), and add nuts, fruit or herbs. Then tie the whole thing together with a clean, homemade dressing.
Connect with Christina Nifong to sign up for her newsletter with this link:
http://christinanifong.com/category/blog/ (sign-up box for newsletter is on the right)
I will put these farmer’s market fresh vegetables in my Buddha Bowl (l to r: candy cane beet, Liberty tomatoes from Pulaski, Virginia, rainbow carrots)
I am also on a “chili kick” these days. Although chili is often thought of as a “Fall and Winter dish”, I enjoy chili all year round because there are so many variations of chili to choose from:
Cincinnati Chili: Chili served over spaghetti
Chili Con Carne: no tomatoes, no beans
My recipe for Lime Cilantro Salsa Chili is not complicated so it’s easy to prepare for dinner. The leftovers are delicious served over a baked potato or over tortilla chips topped with melted cheese and salsa to make nachos.
And my new favorite: Lime Cilantro Salsa Chili
1.20 pounds ground beef
1.25 mild chili seasoning mix (I used McCormick’s brand for this recipe)
14.5 ounce can petite diced no-salt added tomatoes, not drained
2 cans (16 ounces) light red kidney beans, drained
16 ounce Frog Ranch mild salsa
1 (25.5 ounces) Muir Glen organic garden vegetable pasta sauce
(You can use your favorite brand of salsa and pasta sauce for this recipe.)
3 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
Garnishes: Avocado, sour cream, chopped green onion, fresh corn off the cob, shredded Mexican cheese blend, hot sauce, tortilla chips
Brown the ground beef in a large soup pot. Drain the fat off the ground beef after browning. Add the chili seasoning and the tomatoes. Stir to combine and heat over medium heat while adding other ingredients. Add kidney beans, salsa and pasta sauce, stirring after adding each ingredient. Add honey and salt and stir to combine all ingredients. Simmer over medium-low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. (I’ve found that one of the secrets to good chili is to simmer it long enough to allow the flavors to meld.)
Top with your favorite garnishes and serve warm over Zatarain’s Cilantro Lime Rice.
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