Southwestern Spicy Green Beans

I came up with this recipe a couple of years ago in an attempt to jazz up what can often times be a rather blah veggie. My traditional southern way of preparing green beans was not cutting it for TheMan’s flavor loving taste buds. Shortly after learning the differences between good fats and bad fats and the many benefits of a diet rich in good fats I started experimenting with ways to up the good fat content in our daily diets. One of the best good fats is extra virgin, organic coconut oil. Since I hadn’t used this marvelous oil before it took a lot of experimenting for me to learn which dishes played nicely with it and which dishes just really didn’t jive with the whole coconut flavor. Somewhere along the way coconut oil and green beans collided in my world and I’ve been making them this way ever since.  The simplicity of the ingredients does not account for the incredible flavor combination that happens when you throw them all together. People have a hard time believing

Southwestern Spicy Green Beans

1/4+ cup of Extra Virgin, Organic Coconut Oil

1 package Frozen, Uncooked Green Beans(I buy the organic ones from Costco, incredible flavor/texture!)

Powdered: Garlic, Black Pepper, Cumin, Sea Salt and tiniest bit of Cayenne.

Instructions:

Put coconut oil in the skillet or cast iron pan. Set at medium to high heat. As soon as the oil is melted and nice and hot throw bag of green beans on top. If there is not enough oil to “cover” the bottom of the pan add more. Don’t be afraid of the oil! Just keep reminding yourself that this is one of the good guys. Do not stir the green beans for several minutes after you toss them into the oil.

While the bottom layer is sizzling and getting a nice light brown “sear” begin to liberally sprinkle Garlic Powder, Black Pepper and Cumin. I really have zero clue as to amounts on these because I’ve never measured. I can tell you that by the time you are through you will want them literally “crusted” with spices. I generally do a LOT of garlic, followed by not quite as much black pepper (but still more than you might think is necessary) and last but not least a generous dusting of Cumin in not quite as much quantities as the first two. By the time you get the first three lavished upon the green beans it’s probably time to stir them and basically flip the still frozen “top” ones down to the hot oil at the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle more seasonings if it looks like there was not enough on the top layer to go around.

At this point I begin sprinkling sea salt to taste.  Don’t be afraid to leave the green beans against the hottest part of the pan long enough to get a nice browning effect, it’s part of what makes these so delicious. At the end, after you have taste tested that there are sufficient flavors present and accounted for, and an adequate amount of sea salt gently sprinkle the tiniest amount of cayenne over the whole dish. Flip the beans around and allow a few more minutes on the heat so the cayenne flavor can get thoroughly distributed and meld with the other flavors. The key with the cayenne is to get such a small amount that nobody can really tell exactly what the flavor is and it not be too hot to burn the tongues of the “mild” Peeps. If a super heat sensitivity is present the cayenne can be replaced with mild chili powder (in quantities greater than the cayenne in order to be noticeable at all) although the flavor isn’t nearly as good or as complex.

Part of the goal of this dish is to have some green beans still crunchy and fresh tasting on the inside and others to be over cooked and super soft and have a caramelized flavor from the heat. This is a rather fast dish to prepare and should take no longer than 15 minutes from start to finish.

Spicy Southwestern Green Beans

Spicy Southwestern Green Beans

Spicy Chai: The Antidote for Cold Days

A while ago my Sister in Law and I were trying to figure out some yummy, healthy winter drinks.  We both love Chai but were loath to use the pre-mixes.  She provided a really fantastic from scratch recipe and we ended up making some modifications to it and printing it in one of our catalogs. Since then I’ve tweaked it even more and it’s now a much spicier version than what it was before.  It is hands down the most flavorful, warm, spicy-warm-you to your toes drink I’ve ever had.

Spicy Chai Tea

– 4 to 6 Cups Filtered Water
– 4 Tablespoons loose leaf black tea (the stronger the better!) Can also use regular Lipton tea bags, I get the best results if I use 6.
– 3-4 Tablespoons Evaporated Cane Juice or Rapadura. One can cheat and use white sugar. I have also used a combination liquid, debittered Stevia, honey and Sorgum with some success. They add their own slants of flavor though so make sure you like the sweetener before you use it.
– 1 large Toe Fresh Ginger peeled then grated or chopped (grated is stronger/spicier, chopped is slightly milder)
– 4 cinnamon sticks (I frequently add more)
– 4 cloves
– 10 Whole Allspice (Can be cracked with a mortar and pestle to release more flavor)
– 1 tsp. Cardamom (lightly crushed with a mortar and pestle to release the flavor)
– 1 tsp. ground Nutmeg
– Pinch Tumeric (not too much of this, can throw the whole balance flavor off for the entire drink)

– Pinch of black pepper

– Small (very small) dash of Cayenne. Can be left out or replaced with a tiny bit of mild red chile pepper for that hint of warm-roasted spice flavor.

– 2 tsp. Vanilla
– Cream or Milk to taste. Can also use Coconut Milk for a delicious tropical variation!

Add water, Rapadura or other sweetener and spices to a 2 to 3 quart pan and bring to a slow boil. After about 45 minutes (the longer, the stronger the spice taste) minutes, add loose tea or bags and continue to simmer as long as appropriate, 5 minutes or more.

Remove from heat and strain through a tight mesh strainer into a 4 cup measuring cup. Stir in vanilla. Some of the liquid may have boiled away. Add back enough hot water to make 4 cups of tea. Serve with 1/4 cup warm cream or milk in each cup.

Trouble Shooting Tips: If it tastes “watery” consider adding a bit of extra powdered cinnamon and ginger. Taste after each addition. If all the flavors don’t seem to be blending very well consider adding extra sweetener. Sweetness is what binds the whole thing together, without enough of that you end up with a bunch of solo flavors competing with each other and tasting more than a bit out of tune. If there is no tea flavor whatsoever consider a strong tea or steeping longer. The bolder the tea flavor the more ideal it is for this recipe.  If the overall thing is just too “bold” with the spice flavors after adding extra sweetener and adding cream consider adding another splash of Vanilla. It can be that calm, soothing note that can make the whole thing become a beautiful medley on the tongue. Keep in mind that because you are using whole herbs and fresh ingredients flavor variations from one batch to another will happen. Don’t be afraid to tweak it around from one batch to another to get it just the way you like it.

Extra can be made up in it’s “concentrated” version and stored in the fridge to be re-heated and served later. This makes a nice and convenient treat to make ahead of time. I also consider this to be an immune boosting beverage if the sugar free versions of it are made because most of the spices used are incredibly beneficial to the body in fighting colds, flu and other winter ailments.

Let me know what you think if you make it!