Project 365, Day 1: Spam and Eggs with Spinach

Spam and scrambled eggs over garlic rice for breakfast was always one of my favorite things about visiting the Philippines.  Maybe it was the musubi, maybe it was just the need to use up the cans of Spam in the pantry; whatever it was, the boyfriend has been converted to the cause.

Here’s our lightened up version with thin cut, crispy Spam and spinach salad instead of fried rice.

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Lazy Day Cassoulet and Baby Spinach Salad with Cherry Vinegrette

Goodbye, Winter.

It’s been a good few months. You’ve given us much lovely snow, but much drippy rain. It’s probably best that we go our separate ways.

You’ve aided and abetted many an early night in (not to mention the late mornings). You’ve inspired cookies, muffins, soups and stews. You make that bread hot from the oven just that more tempting. We’ve spent whole lazy weekends under your spell.

We’ve made you one last savory baked dinner. You’ve been begging for a casserole, so we spent one more lazy day in the kitchen for you. We sauteed that holy trinity of French flavors (onions, celery and carrots) in fat rendered from salty bacon, rich chicken legs and sweet bratwurst. We baked the meat under a thick layer of tomatoes and white beans until the chicken practically melted off the bone. Oh, and we topped it with garlic breadcrumbs (your favorite, we know). It warmed the house as it baked all afternoon. We hope you like it (we certainly did).

But it’s time for us bid you adieu. We’ll see you again next year.

Love,
Us

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Hello, Spring.

It’s been a while and we’ve missed you. The sun’s almost become a stranger in these short few months.

We’ve been dreaming about your early mornings and late afternoons. We’re yearning for fresh, tender leaves and bright buds.

We know it’s a bit soon for this, but we made you a little something. We hope it doesn’t scare you off, but it helps us remember what it’s like to be warm again. Crisp spinach and tangy goat cheese are such a tease. Toasty walnuts crunch under our teeth and sweet cherry vinegar (made from the cherries we got from you last June) nips at our tongues. We hope you like it (we certainly did).

Hope to see you around here more often.

Love,
Us

Notes: Don’t be intimidated by the length of the ingredient list. The important thing to note is that you’re using some aromatic veggies and meat as a base for the beans. The actual veggies and meat isn’t so important: cassoulet isn’t a fussy dish. We made a lot of changes to the recipe as we went along, since it was hard to follow while we cooked. We added an ingredient list and split the process into four basic sections common to casseroles: 1. Prep, 2. Brown, 3. Bake, 4. Finish. We used a dutch oven, but this could just as easily begin in a skillet and be transferred to a casserole dish or crock pot after the “Brown” steps.
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Rice Bowls

Growing up, we ate one type of rice only – jasmine.  Jasmine rice with adobo.  Jasmine rice with stir-fried steak and green peppers.  Jasmine rice with a little splash of soy sauce.  Jasmine rice with butter and frozen mixed vegetables…

I actually had no idea that other types of rice existed until running off to college in the Southwest where finding jasmine rice was damn near impossible outside of Whole Foods.  (Actually, that’s not quite true.  On some level I knew that my mom’s biko consisted of some other type of rice, but it wasn’t until college and the epic quest for an Asian grocery in the desert that I figured out what kind).

Since that time, I’ve branched out a little.  I’ve experimented with Mexican-style rice with tomatoes and chile peppers, Spanish paella, Italian risotto and Indian-style basmati rice with cardamom and cinnamon sticks.  It’s been fun.

So, when I heard there was a rice bowl idea/recipe contest I was ready.

The USA Rice Federation is currently accepting submissions to the aforementioned contest.  I’ll share my submission if you share yours…

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Smoky Spanish Chorizo and Chickpea Bowl

Prep: 10min
Cook: 25min

1/2 lb chorizo 9 (2-3 links), sliced
1 c. dried chickpeas, rinsed and simmered until tender (or one 28oz can chickpeas)
1 lb fresh spinach, steamed (or 1lb frozen spinach, thawed)
1 small onion, sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 T. smoked paprika
1 t. oregano
1 t. ground cumin
1 t. red pepper flakes (optional)
1/4 c. white wine vinegar
1/2 c. water
2T olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

1.  Brown chorizo in a large skillet.  Add onions, garlic and olive oil and cook until onions are soft.
2. Add paprika, oregano, cumin, red pepper flakes.  Cook about 1 min.
2. Add chickpeas, vinegar and water.  Cover and simmer for about 20minutes.
3. Add spinach.  Cover and cook until spinach is warm.

Serve over steamed white or brown rice.