Chipotle Mango Quinoa

If you suffer from cilantrophobia and are disgusted by the “bug-infested bedclothes” smelling herb topped on this dish, take a deep breath. The cilantro is optional. I am blessed with Mexican genes that embrace this fresh garnish. Unfortunately, not all foodies feel the same way. Julia Child told Larry King that if she detected cilantro in a dish, she would pick it out and throw it on the floor. Celebrity chefs Ina Garten and Fabio Viviani agree, having publicly declared their hatred for the herb they claim tastes likes soap. The I Hate Cilantro facebook group has more than 10,000 passionate followers sharing cilantro horror stories, and providing tips to help haters enjoy cilantro-free Asian and Latin food. If you’re a hater, keep reading. Chipotle Mango Quinoa has a beautiful balance with the spicy chipotle and sweet mango, is packed with nutrients, and has the option of being topped with the controversial green herb. I love everything about this dish. Cheap. Healthy. Quick. Filling. It also happens to pass the three-day cleanse test, and I was not even trying!

Ingredients:
1 red onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 chipotle chiles, minced with some of their sauce
1 tsp dried oregano
¾ cup dry quinoa

15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained
½ cup frozen corn
1 ½ cup low sodium vegetable broth
salt and pepper
mango- diced
a handful of cilantro, optional
a few lime wedges

Directions:
Coat large skillet with cooking spray and place over medium heat. Add onion and garlic. Cook, stirring until the onion is soft, about five minutes. Add chipotles and oregano and continue to stir for about one minute.
Crank up the heat to medium-high, add the quinoa, and sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper. Continue to cook, stirring frequently for 3ish minutes.
Add beans, corn, stock and bring to a boil. Stir, cover and reduce heat to low. Cook, undisturbed for 15 minutes.
Uncover and check quinoa. If the kernels are still crunchy, add a little more liquid and cook for another few minutes. Top with mango, cilantro and lime.

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Wurstküche Venice

When I moved back to Los Angeles in June the hot new restaurant I constantly heard about was Wurstküche. Being a Westside snob rarely crossing the 405 on the weekend, I kept putting off the drive to downtown Los Angeles for exotic sausages, Belgian fries and beer. 
A few months ago while driving on Lincoln Blvd, my least favorite street in LA, I saw the Wurstküche logo on a warehouse. Yes! They’re bringing Wurstküche to Venice Beach! (And a reason to feel OK about driving on ugly, trafficy Lincoln.)
Wurstküche is worth the hype, serving rattlesnake, alligator and duck sausages for the adventurous, as well as your more traditional bratwurst and hot italian for those wanting to keep it simple. All sausages are served on a yummy fresh roll, and topped with your choice of sweet peppers, caramelized onions, spicy peppers, or sauerkraut. In my three visits I have sampled the Mango Jalapeño, Sun Dried Tomato and Mozzarella, Alligator and Pork Andouille, and my favorite, the buttery, spicy, delicious Rattlesnake and Rabbit with Jalapeño. 
Not only are the sausages super tasty, the fries are ahhhhh AMAZING! Double dipped Belgian fries are served with your choice of tasty dipping sauces (our favorite is the Chipotle Aioli). The fries are thick and crunchy, but soft on the inside.
Wurstküche also offers a huge variety of beer, and their bar tenders have the expertise to find you something to suit your individual beer requests. Last night while celebrating Alaina’s 26th birthday I tried the Franziskaner, which was both fun to say and sip!
If you live in LA and you have not been to Wurstküche yet, go now! If you visiting from out of town, add it to your agenda. You won’t be disappointed.

Tex-Mex Sloppy Joe Sandwich

I love the Homesick Texan. Food blogger Lisa Fain embraces her southern roots by cooking Tex-Mex comfort food from her New York City apartment. Lisa’s love for Texas is obvious through her blog posts. Her collection of recipes include authentic Texas ingredients, are creative and taste delicious. I have recreated her stuffed peppers and chocolate pie, both of which were outstanding, however I decided to feature this sloppy joe recipe because of its simplicity. Although the recipe contains many ingredients, many are either already in your pantry, or inexpensive and easy to find. It is also one of Homesick Texan’s more balanced dishes. Healthy Texan food is hard to find! The chipotle gave a nice kick, and the creamy guacamole took the sandwich up a notch. Make sure you have plenty of napkins, and a knife and fork. These really are sloppy!


Ingredients:

1 1/2 pounds ground lean beef
2 chipotle chile in adobo sauce
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
1/2 bell pepper, seeds and stem removed, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
15 ounces canned low sodium tomato sauce
2 teaspoons oregano
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
Pinch of cayenne
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
12 ounces Mexican lager
2 tablespoons ketchup
1/2 cup cilantro, divided
1 lime, juiced
Salt and pepper to taste
4-6 warm rolls
Guacamole, cilantro, and sliced jalepeños for serving

Directions:
Using a skillet, on medium-low heat, cook the meat until browned, about 10 minutes. Add the onions and diced bell pepper and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another minute.

Using a blender, mix the tomato sauce, chipotle chile, oregano, ground cumin, smoked paprika, allspice, cayenne and Worcestershire sauce. Pour sauce into the skillet along with the beer, ketchup and half of the cilantro. Stir to combined.

Cook on medium-low heat uncovered for 15 minutes and then add the remaining cilantro and lime juice. Add salt and pepper according to your taste.

Serve on warm rolls with guacamole, cilantro, and jalapeño slices.

Makes 4-6 sandwiches