Posts Tagged ‘beans’

Simple Mexican Dinner

Any day of the week is great for fajitas!  In our local grocery store, as well as the Mexican markets, you can pick up seasoned flank or skirt steak ready to cook.  I like to pile on pico de gallo and avocado slices (guacamole is reserved for the not-so-pretty avocados).  I make a pot of beans on the weekend to see us through the week as a quick snack for the kids (and big people too).  The beans are sorted and rocks removed before heading for a very long simmer in a bath of onion, garlic, chili pods and bay leaf.  There should be about 3 to 4 times the amount of water to beans in the pot so that there is a broth left when the beans have plumped up and finished cooking.


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The pupusa is so fundamental to the cuisine of El Salvador that the country declared November 13th as National Pupusa Day.

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Tuxedo Chili

Cooler days are starting to fade, ever so slowly into the memory of winter.  Spring will find its way here one way or another.  But in the south, spring is a short season, and we are immersed in 100 degree heat far sooner than I care to be.

I saw the white and black beans in my colander and thought they resembled a tuxedo!  Maybe it was because the Globes were the last thing on my mind while I was cooking dinner.  Either way, they became the backdrop for my chili and namesake of the dish.

Brown a pound of lean beef in a large pot seasoned with salt, pepper, cumin, garlic powder and chili powder.  Add diced carrot, onion, corn, 1/2 cup of tomatillo sauce, the rinsed beans and a 15oz can of diced tomatoes.

Cover and simmer, the longer the better, as the spices will marry and infuse everybody further.  This is even better the next day for lunch!

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Since finding cassoulet in my copy of Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking I’ve been trying to devise similar recipes which would lessen the time and cost of preparing such a cozy dish.

This rendition was the result of less than 10$ of ingredients and a couple of hours of stewing in the oven. Us working folk normally don’t have an abundance of time to devote to cooking, but stretching what you have in the pantry at this time of the month (and year) is inevitable and necessary. Weekends are the typical days where my craft can be let loose in the afternoon to bring a leisurely made meal to the family table by supper time. This dish could equally be made in a crock pot, on low while you’re away at work or running errands. I trusted a slow oven for this hearty and thrifty meal.

The measurements are not exact, for you can use more or less depending on what you have.  Go easy with the herbes de Provence, or it will taste like you mistakenly added your flower bed to the stew.

  • 2 slices of bacon, cut into 1/4″ slices
  • 8 chicken thighs, skin and visible fat removed
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1/2 large onion
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 can white beans (Northern Beans or Navy Beans), rinsed
  • pinch or two of herbes de Provence (see note above)
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour (you can omit if gluten is a problem!)
  • 2 – 3 cups chicken stock, homemade preferably, or low sodium purchased
  • salt and pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 350ºF.

In a Dutch oven or equivalent roasting pan, render the bacon.  Slowly fry the bacon to release the fat and remove any crisp pieces as you go.  Use the bacon fat to brown the chicken thighs on each side, you don’t have to worry about cooking the chicken at this point, that will happen in the oven.  What you want is a bit of color on the chicken to add flavour!

Remove the chicken as it browns, split the chicken in two batches if the pan will be too crowded.  Crowds make for sweaty birds, not browned caramelized ones.

Once the chicken is out, check the pan for fat levels, add a few dots of olive oil if the pan looks dry.  Immediately toss in the onion and carrot, tossing them around to coat with the oil or bacon fat.   Sauté until the onions start to look tanned, as if they just came back from a sandy beach off the coast of nobodycares. 

Add salt and pepper, the herbs, (flour) and the garlic.  Stir until the garlic and herbs become fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Then add the stock and scrape up any bits stuck to the bottom of the pan.  Add the beans and crispy bacon pieces.  Nestle the chicken thighs into the pot, the liquid should come half way up the meat.

Cover the pot and place in the oven.  Turn down the oven to 300ºF and leave it alone.  After 2 hours you will enjoy a rich broth with dark chicken meat falling off the bones! 

Serve alone, with cooked pearled barley (yum, this was what I made), with rice, or a slice of fresh bread (also what I had with the stew!).

This stew disappeared before I had a chance to do my photo shoot.  You’ll have to imagine this one 🙂

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Winter in the South is mostly cold and rain. I’m glad not to have to deal with snow, especially with the huge dumps everyone back home are dealing with.  The annoying part about so much rain is that the yard starts to turn to mush and mud.  A happy place for the rambunctious Pepper, she got herself all full of mud!  You should have seen how much I had to wash off of her.

I found this soup on Good Bite (.com) and made my version with what ingredients were available in my kitchen.

In the midst of chopping the sweet potato I heard, what I though was, rain. Shhhhh! Then a clank as if something heavy and half full hit the tile floor of the kitchen. To my surprise, Little Sister was busy cooking up something herself.

See why it sounded like rain – the rice gently pouring out of the container. And the bang was Little Sister dropping the container and watching it hit the floor. Little Sister is often milling around the kitchen, or around me rather, as breakfast, lunch or dinner is underway. I never shoo her out, unless I need to open the oven door, then she it picked up and placed safely in her high chair or distracted by something in the living room for the 30 seconds needed to complete my maneuver. I guess the latch on the rice container was hardly difficult for her to figure out!

Bokkie inspired the tag-along for the soup: salmon melts. Essentially the same idea as your typical tuna melt, only a can of wild salmon is swapped in for the tuna. Canned salmon, I thought would be uber-fishy, both in taste and smell, was not fishy at all. Actually, it’s less so than tuna. So there’s your encouragement for today – try canned wild salmon! Of course the best thing in the world would be a wild salmon, which you caught yourself and smoked – but that’s a whole other sandwich…

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Soup

Made after Julie Van Rosendaal’s Sausage, Black Bean, Sweet Potato Soup

  • 1 good sized sweet potato, diced (the exact size is not the greatest concern – just make it all the SAME size)
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • pinch cumin seeds
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 link chorizo sausage
  • 3 tbsp hot salsa
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup water, or enough to cover the potatoes
  • 1/4 cup crushed tomatillo

The tomatillo adds some acidity to round out the flavours of the sweet potato, smoky cumin and spicy salsa.  If you don’t have them where you live, you can use a diced tomato and tablespoon of vinegar. 

The salsa I used it not a typical off-the-shelf sauce, this is a very thin, hot and smoky sauce made in one of the Mexican grocery stores here.  Hubby bought some with taco fixings as a quick weekday supper.  It would otherwise sit in the fridge waiting to be tossed in a few weeks, or when I’m really in my pack-rat mood, I will freeze the leftovers.  (There’s still about 3 small frozen containers of a similar style salsa in the freezer right now!)  By all means, adjust the amount of salsa to the level of heat you desire.

I started the soup by browning the chorizo, then removing it to work on the onion.  Once the onions are soft, add the cumin seeds to lightly warm them to release the oils.  Add the chorizo back in as well as everything except the black beans.  Bring the soup to a boil and simmer, covered, for 5-6 minutes.  Turn down the heat to low and add the beans, salt and pepper to taste.  Continue simmering for another minute or until the sweet potato pieces are tender (but not falling apart).

Salmon Melts

  • 1 can wild caught salmon, drained
  • 1 slice of red onion, diced fine
  • 3 tbsp light mayonnaise
  • shredded cheese of choice (I used a Mexican Blend, good cheddar would work too)
  • salt and pepper

Mix the salmon, mayo, onion, salt and pepper in a bowl.  Turn on the broiler to low.  The platform of the open-faced sandwiches were slices of my olive-rosemary bread, lightly toasted under the broiler, just until stiff but not browned.  Then I buttered the toast, slathered on the salmon mixture, sprinkled with cheese and returned the pan under the broiler.  When the cheese melts, they are done!

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Quick & Easy Chili

  • 1 (15oz) can chili meat
  • 1 (15oz) can kidney beans
  • 1 (15oz) can pinto beans
  • 1 celery stalk, diced fine
  • 1/2 onion, diced fine
  • 3 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1/2 tsp ancho chili powder
  • scant 1/2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 large tomato, diced

If I had a little more time, this whole recipe would have been made in the crock pot.  I helped everything get going by sautéing the garlic, onion, celery and half of the tomato.  Add the cumin and ancho chili powder to the pan before the tomatoes to allow the spices to bloom.  Pour the cans of chili meat and beans into a crock pot, then add the onion mixture when the tomatoes have started breaking down.  The can of chili meat contains spices so not much is needed to jazz up the flavor.  You could probably just add salt and pepper to taste and work with the existing spices from the meat.  I happen to like the ancho chili powder and a hint of cumin.  The fresh spices renew the stored food and help amalgamate the sautéed vegetables with the beans.

Cook in the crock pot until bubbly, about 45 minutes.  Everything is already cooked when you add it to the pot, you just need to heat it up then enjoy!

Serving suggestions:

  • Spoon a little sour cream and sliced green onions on top of a bowl of chili
  • Shred some sharp cheddar cheese to top off your serving, let the cheese melt into the sauce
  • Spread leftover chili over nachos
  • The kids love hot dog pieces mixed in
  • Make a grown-up version: chili dogs!

How do you like to enjoy a warm bowl of chili?

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