Black-Eyed Pea Curry

Black-Eyed Pea Curry

Inspiration: Another day, another curry, right? We’re just fine with adopting that philosophy.

What We Loved: We’ve found that curries with a lot of turmeric and coconut milk tend to have a pretty specific flavor profile – they’re somewhat sweet, yet they’re full of that earthy, rustic turmeric taste. They tend to be nice, mellow curries that are mild in spice but sweet in flavor. We both really enjoy that flavor, and in this particular curry, we both enjoyed how nice and creamy the black-eyed peas were. Plus, all of the cilantro thrown in was awesome. If you are familiar with our blog, you know that we love our cilantro. As always, it added such a bright and fresh herbal taste. This is a nice curry if you’re looking for a curry that’s a little lighter and a little less spicy and intense than a lot of curries can be.

Tips: As often happens with me because I’m impatient, I photographed this dish too early, before it really had a chance to meld together and get nice and creamy. After it has been off of the heat for a little while, this really comes together and is much creamier than it looks in the photo. So I would suggest letting this one sit for just a bit before serving.

Black Eyed Pea Curry
Source: Slightly adapted from Girl Cooks World

2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 medium onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup diced tomato
2 15 ounce cans black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 13.5 ounce can coconut milk
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup cilantro leaves, plus extra for garnish

1. Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium high heat. Add the onion, and cook until starting to brown.

2. Add the garlic, ginger, coriander, turmeric, cumin, and cayenne. Cook until the mixture is fragrant, about a minute.

3. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the tomato, and cook for a few minutes until the tomato begins to break down.

4. Add the black-eyed peas, salt, and coconut milk. Stir to combine. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and simmer for about 15 minutes, until the sauce begins to thicken.

5. Stir in the lemon juice and cilantro. Serve with additional cilantro for garnish.

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Creamy Pinto Beans with Bacon and Zucchini

Inspiration: I can always get behind a good pinto bean or black bean side dish when it comes to Mexican food. And lately, I’ve been loving to throw a bunch of ingredients into a sauce pan and see what happens. It’s awesome when a great recipe results, and as always, one-pot dishes are truly the best (especially with a new baby in the house!).

What We Loved: You can’t quite tell from the photo since the sauce seeps down into the dish, but these beans have an awesome creamy texture that we just loved. This is definitely a dish to eat with a spoon! And there are a lot of great flavors going on, too – zucchini and onion sauteed in bacon fat is always a good thing, especially when combined with crispy bacon pieces, fresh cilantro, and gooey, spicy cheese. That’s not a bad list of flavors to add to the already creamy and rich pinto beans. And everything is tied together with a simple seasoning blend of chili powder and cumin, which really adds a nice Mexican flair.

Tips: In order to get that great, creamy consistency with these beans, don’t drain the can before adding them to the pan. I also like to make sure to chop the zucchini very finely. That way, it doesn’t get mushy as might happen with large chunks.

Creamy Pinto Beans with Bacon and Zucchini
Source: Original Recipe
Serves: 2-3 as a side dish

3 slices bacon, chopped
1/2 small onion, finely diced
1 small zucchini, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 can pinto beans, undrained
chili powder, to taste
cumin, to taste
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
1 oz pepper jack cheese, cut into small cubes
Cilantro, chopped

1. Saute the bacon in a sauce pan over medium low heat until crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

2.Add the onion and zucchini to the bacon fat in the pan, and cook until softened and beginning to get nice and browned. Add the garlic, stirring to combine.

3. Add the pinto beans to the pan (undrained). Season to taste with chili powder, cumin, and plenty of salt and pepper.

4. Simmer over medium heat until thickened, about 5 minutes.

5.  Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the reserved bacon.

6. Serve topped with pepper jack cheese cubes and cilantro.

Chicken with Black Beans, Sun Dried Tomatoes, Cilantro, & Cheddar

Inspiration: Have you ever thought to use sun dried tomatoes in a Mexican or Tex-Mex inspired dish? I always tend to use fresh diced tomatoes or sliced grape tomatoes when cooking that type of cuisine, and I tend to use sun dried tomatoes almost exclusively with Italian. I’d probably list sun dried tomatoes as my favorite type of tomato, though, so I was more than excited to run across the idea of combining my favorite tomato with my favorite cuisine. (And since Brandon loves fresh garden tomatoes best, I might just try this recipe out later on using fresh tomatoes to see how it compares).

What We Loved: As I was hoping, this chicken had a nice Mexican flair with all of the different flavor components that were thrown in. The chicken itself was seasoned with cumin and chili powder, which are a couple of spices that I think always give that Tex-Mex or Mexican twist to a meal. With creamy black beans, bright and fresh cilantro, gooey cheddar, and the unexpected tangy sweetness of the sun dried tomatoes, this meal sure had a lot of great things going on. A nice squeeze of fresh lime juice over top added a tart, fresh flavor that really was the finishing touch. We enjoyed this alongside our favorite hearts of palm salad, which was the perfect complement.

Tips: I used plain sun dried tomatoes that I re-hydrated in water, but I think that olive oil packed sun dried tomatoes or other flavored sun dried tomatoes would be fantastic and lend another dimension of flavor to the dish. The original recipe actually uses sun dried tomatoes with pepper strips, which sounds great.

Sauteed Chicken with Black Beans, Sun Dried Tomatoes, Cilantro, and Cheddar
Source: Adapted from I Wash…You Dry.
Serves 2

2 chicken breasts, butterflied
Kosher salt
Black pepper
Chili powder
1/3 cup cooked black beans
1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes, chopped
Handful fresh cilantro, minced
Freshly grated sharp cheddar
Lime wedges, for serving

1. Season the chicken breasts with salt, pepper, cumin, and chili powder. Heat a couple of pats of butter in a saute pan. Add the chicken, and cook for about 4-5 minutes on the first side.

2. Flip the chicken. Top each breast with black beans, sundried tomatoes, cilantro, and cheddar. Cover the pan, and cook for about 5 minutes more, until the chicken is cooked through.

3. Serve with lime wedges.

Bean Salad

Bean Salad

Inspiration: This one comes from Brandon’s Mom and is something that he has been eating since he was a kid. Now, it’s one of our favorite summer dishes.  I made this most recently to take to a Fourth of July party over the weekend (how the heck is it Fourth of July time already?) as a dish that could sit out for several hours without having to be refrigerated. I always find that those kind of dishes are hard to come by, but this one fits the bill perfectly and is also super tasty.

What We Loved: This dish sure has a lot of fresh and nutritious ingredients going on. Creamy beans, crisp corn, bright carrots and cilantro, a touch of spicy jalapeno, and a nice bite from some onion and garlic really give you so many wonderful flavors in each bite. And the olive oil/lemon/garlic dressing just coats everything in all kinds of goodness. We can just eat this salad by the spoonful, particularly during the summer when all of the great bean and vegetable flavors taste so crisp and refreshing.

Tips: Brandon’s Mom always serves this as a salsa with tortilla chips, and it’s fabulous that way too. I think it’s great as a side dish or even just on its own in a bowl for a nice light lunch. Also, you can either mince the onion, carrot, and jalapeno by hand (as I did this time around since I had some time) or throw them into the food processor for a quicker mince.

Bean Salad
Source: Slightly adapted from Brandon’s Mom
Serves: A crowd

2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can red beans, drained and rinsed
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups frozen corn, thawed
3/4 cup red onion, very finely minced
3/4 cup carrot, very finely minced
1 jalapeno, very finely minced
Large handful cilantro, minced
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons lemon juice
3 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons vinegar
1 heaping teaspoon cumin
2 teaspoons Kosher salt

1. Combine the black beans, red beans, pinto beans, corn, onion, carrot, and jalapeno in a large bowl.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together the cilantro, olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, vinegar, cumin, and salt.

3. Right before serving, pour the dressing over the bean mixture and mix together thoroughly.

Simple Shredded Chicken and White Beans

Inspiration: A one-pot dish with Mexican flair and lots of pepper jack cheese? I’m in. I sometimes think that Brandon and I could eat this style of food every day (Mexican, Tex-Mex, Mexican-inspired, basically anything topped off with plenty of cilantro) and be happy campers. It’s also my favorite kind of food to cook – it’s fun and creative, with recipes fitting for an involved Saturday night supper (like a really great mole, which is on my to-make list) or a quick weekday meal, like this one.

What We Loved: What’s great about this recipe and what drew me to it in the first place is that it’s so simple. There are only four main ingredients – chicken, beans, salsa, and cheese – that are thrown into the crock pot and cook away on their own all day. Sometimes there’s just nothing better than that. The resulting flavors are simple and tasty, too – moist, fall-apart chicken and creamy white beans with a nice kick of Mexican-style flavor from the peppery salsa and cheese. For supper on a busy evening or as leftovers for a quick and hearty lunch, this recipe is perfect.

Tips: Brandon and I thought of this dish as more of a shredded chicken dish than as a chili (as it’s called in the original recipe), since we normally consider chili to have much more sauce to it. Most of the liquid from the salsa was absorbed into the chicken in this dish (making the chicken super moist, which was awesome). As such, we thought that it would work great if you wanted to make Mexican-style shredded chicken sandwiches. Or, come to think of it, this would also work really well atop of a bed of greens for a salad. It really was wonderful and perfect for us eaten just on its own out of the bowl, though.

Simple Shredded Chicken and White Beans
Source: Slightly adapted from Pink Parsley

4 chicken breasts
4 cans navy beans, drained and rinsed
8 oz pepper jack cheese, cut into 2 inch cubes
3 cups salsa
Additional pepper jack cheese, shredded
Grape tomtatoes, diced
Fresh cilantro, minced

1. Place the navy beans, pepper jack cheese cubes, and salsa in a crock pot.

2. Nestle the chicken breasts into the crock pot.

3. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

4. Remove the chicken, shred, and return it to the pot. Stir to combine.

5. Serve topped with additional pepper jack cheese, tomatoes, and cilantro.

Tomato- Rosemary- and White Bean Soup

Tomato, Rosemary, and White Bean Soup

Tomato- Rosemary- and White Bean Soup

*Photo Updated December 2012*

Inspiration: Tomato soup is really a go-to soup for me, because it’s so easy to make and so versatile. I always stick with onions, garlic, tomatoes, and stock, and from there I throw anything that I happen to have on hand into the pot. Any leftover herbs or vegetables; a cup or two of cream or milk that has no use; whatever spices, sauces, or salsas that are sitting around. Some of my creations end up great, and some of them end up not so great, but it’s always fun to mix up the flavor combinations and see what happens. Every once in a while, though, I’ll buy the ingredients for this specific soup. When I first started developing a real love for cooking, this is one of the first recipes that I remember falling in love with, and it was one of my earliest blog posts. All of these years later, it’s still one of my favorite soups – which I think makes it deserving of a shiny new post.

What We Loved: I love this soup so much because it’s so unique. It’s a cross between a creamy white bean soup and a standard tomato soup, and the resulting flavor is very rich and complex. There are a lot of Italian notes from the rosemary and tomato (almost making me want to liken this aspect of the soup to a marinara), and the second level of earthy, buttery white bean flavors competes so well with the tomato flavors. Really, this is like two soups in one. The inclusion of protein in the form of white beans also makes this soup much thicker and more filling than a standard tomato soup, which is another bonus. A thermos of this soup works really great as a work week lunch.

Tips: Giada’s original recipe calls for the soup to be topped with creme fraiche and lemon, but sadly, I haven’t tried this yet for one reason or another. It really sounds great, though, so I would suggest giving it a go if you have the ingredients on hand.

Rosemary Tomato Soup
Source: Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis

I made some minor changes to the ingredient list and doubled the recipe so that the soup can last all week for work lunches. Here’s my version:

2 small onions, peeled and chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
2 15-ounce cans navy or cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes
6 cups chicken stock (or vegetable, to keep the dish vegetarian)
2 bay leaves
2 large sprigs fresh rosemary, minced, plus more for garnish
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and black pepper

1. In a large pot, add the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and carrots, and cook until the vegetables are tender. Add the garlic and cook for a minute more.

2. Add the beans, tomatoes, broth, bay leaf, rosemary, and red pepper flakes. Bring the soup to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes, covered.

3. Remove the bay leaves. Puree the soup using an immersion blender or a food processor.

4. Season to taste with Kosher salt and black pepper.

5. Serve the soup with minced rosemary on top.

Lima Beans with Bacon, Mushrooms, and Onion

Inspiration: I end up making some of the best dishes when I have no idea what to make (and unfortunately, that’s where some of my very worst dishes come from, too). Some random bacon, a couple of mushrooms that never got used, half of a bag of lima beans in the freezer? Sounds good to me. Plus, I could live off of lima beans. I know that they’re one of the most hated foods (why??), but Brandon and I could both probably eat them three times a day and never tire of them. Lima bean omelet, anyone?

What We Loved: To be honest, when it comes to lima beans, you really can’t beat simply cooking them and then mixing them with butter, Kosher salt, and pepper. To both of us, that’s the perfect preparation. But, this recipe takes a very close second. Rich bacon, sweet onions, and earthy mushrooms just add huge amounts of flavor to the creamy beans, and a healthy dose of salt really takes those flavors over the edge. All of the ingredients are mixed in a pan with the fat from the bacon, so everything is also just coated in that rich flavor. We both give this side dish an A+.

Tips: One of the things that we both love so much about lima beans is their fabulous creamy texture, which works really well in this dish. However, I’m sure that this combination of ingredients would be good with other vegetables substituted for the lima beans, too. Thin slices of sauteed and browned zucchini come to mind as a great option.

Lima Beans with Bacon, Mushrooms, and Onion
Source: Original Recipe

4 slices bacon, chopped
1/2 onion, diced
8-10 cremini mushrooms, roughly chopped
2 cups frozen lima beans
Kosher salt and black pepper

1. Place the lima beans in a sauce pan with water, and cook according to package directions.

2. While the lima beans are cooking, add the bacon to a saute pan over medium heat. Cook until the bacon is beginning to crisp and has rendered some of its fat, about 4-5 mintues.

3. Add the onion and mushrooms to the bacon, and stir to combine. Cook until the bacon is crispy, the water released from the mushrooms has evaporated, and the mushrooms and onions are softened and beginning to brown.

4. Drain the cooked lima beans, and add them to the pan. Season to taste with Kosher salt and black pepper.

Spicy Black-Eyed Peas with Bacon

Inspiration: My single favorite summer food? Hands down, it’s Brandon’s slow cooked pulled pork on the charcoal grill. Heck, I’m tempted to say that it’s even my favorite meal. And the process is fun, too – there’s just something great about sitting outside in the sunshine all day (playing Scrabble and drinking caipirinhas and beer, as we did this last time) while your dinner cooks away on the grill. And I always like to stick to a Southern theme when we have pulled pork, so this time around the sides were deviled eggs and black-eyed peas.

What We Loved: These had a great kick! I added both Cajun seasoning and sliced jalapenos, so there was definitely plenty of spice. With a little earthy oregano, some smoky bacon, and sweet onions cooked in the bacon grease, these beans really had a nice flavor profile. And as always with beans, I just loved the creamy texture.

Tips: While we really enjoyed this dish, we found that the spice level made it hard to taste the other components of the meal. As a result, I actually ended up saving these and eating them all last. So, I might recommend either toning down the spice level if you will be eating these alongside milder foods or just eating them as a meal in their own right. I could definitely just dig right into a whole bowl of them!

Spicy Black-Eyed Peas with Bacon
Source: Inspired from Caviar and Codfish, serves 4-6 as a side dish

6 slices bacon, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cans black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
Dried oregano
Cajun seasoning
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 jalapeno, sliced

1. Heat a sauce pan over medium heat. Add the bacon and saute until starting to crisp. Drain any extraneous fat.

2. Add the onions to the pan, and saute for a few more minutes, until softened. Add the garlic, and stir to combine.

3. Add the black-eyed peas. Season to taste with oregano, just a dash of Cajun seasoning, salt, and pepper. Mix together and cook over low heat for 5-10 mintues.

4. Add the jalapenos and serve.

Mexican/Southwest-Style Sampler Plate

Inspiration: I can be very lazy with dinner sometimes, usually on a Friday night. It’s been a long week at that point, and like everyone else, I’m tired. A lot of times we’ll go grab a beer at a pub after work or stop in somewhere for a glass of wine, and after that, it’s all over. Long week + beer/wine = lazy. So what the heck do we do for dinner on those kinds of nights? Yes!

What we Loved: This is just a fun meal all around. Being able to sample so many different items is really a treat. There’s such a variance in flavors – spicy sausage, creamy cheese and avocado, crisp lettuce, sweet tomatoes, rich baked beans, a little of this and a little of that. We loved mixing and matching the different flavors. This is a good Friday or Saturday night dinner that’s fun and delicious, and it’s already one of our favorites.

Tips: The possibilities are endless with a meal like this. We’ve actually had this meal three times before it even made it onto the blog, and the other couple of times I switched out some of the ingredients for some sauteed poblano peppers and onions, a dollop of sour cream, and sliced green chiles. And if I wouldn’t have gotten lazy last time, I would have added a nice sunny-side up egg as well. I also think that pico de gallo, pickled red onions, guacamole, roasted sweet potatoes, or crumbled Mexican chorizo are some great options. So yes, there are a million roads to take with this fun dinner. In fact, I’m going to have to use some of those options to make a completely different Mexican/Southwest-style plate. I’m also excited to use this idea to try different variations of all of our favorite cuisines, with Mediterranean being next (homemade hummus, cucumber slices, black olives, chunks of feta cheese, maybe some white beans with oregano….).

Mexican/Southwest-Style Sampler Plate
Source: Inspired by Bunny.Eats.Design.

Load up a plate with all of your favorite ingredients. I used: Spanish chorizo, grape tomatoes seasoned with salt and pepper, chopped romaine hearts topped with salsa verde, leftover white beans cooked in Belgian style beer, avocado slices seasoned with salt, goat cheese, and cilantro.

White Beans with Belgian Style Beer

Inspiration: Ahhhhh beer. I think it’s safe to say that it’s our number one obsession right now. We have a lot of favorites, but Belgian beers are a style that both of us would list at the very top. Over the past few years we’ve done a lot of…..research?…..and have fallen in love with both the very characteristic and unique flavor of true Belgian beers as well as the great interpretations in the American craft brew scene. So how could I pass by a recipe like this?

What we Loved: For a couple of beer lovers like us, these were wonderful. The fantastically rich beer flavor absorbed itself into everything in the dish, resulting in a rich ale taste with just a slight touch of bitterness (not bad bitter, but bitterness like you’d find in a something like a pale ale). We used some pretty complex beers, which I’m sure impacted the flavor of the final dish pretty directly. And for us, it was great! I was also so pleased with the texture/sauce of the final dish, which was thick and creamy just like a great baked bean recipe should be. And of course, the big pieces of bacon added some nice texture and that fabulous bacon flavor.

Helpful Hints: I let these beans cook in a crock pot since I had to work all day, but the original recipe called for them to be baked in the oven for 2-3 hours. The crock pot worked just fine, though there was still quite a lot of liquid left at the end of cooking. I just transferred my stove top-safe insert to the stove (so convenient!) and boiled the beans until they were nice and thick (about 20 minutes). If you don’t have a stove top-safe insert and transferring to the stove is too much work, you could also try turning your crock pot to high, but I would probably recommend just cooking as originally instructed at The Bitten Word. Also – I used a couple of Belgian style American craft beers that we had around the house (Dark Horse Sapient Trip Ale and Troeg’s DreamWeaver Wheat, if you’re interested). We loved the resulting beer flavor, but if you’re not a huge beer fan like we are, I would recommend sticking with something lighter like Blue Moon for a more subtle beer flavor.

White Beans with Belgian Style Beer
Source: Adapted from The Bitten Word, originally from Everyday Food

I made these in a crock pot with a stove top-safe insert, so that’s what I will give instructions for.

10 slices bacon, cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
1 medium Vidalia onion, diced small
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon mustard
Dried thyme and oregano
1 pound dried white beans, picked over, soaked overnight, and drained
2 12 oz bottles Belgian style ale
1 3/4 cups chicken stock
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons cider vinegar

1. Saute the bacon in a your stove top-safe insert until crisp and browned. Remove the bacon and reserve. Drain most of the extraneous fat.

2. Add the onions to the insert, and cook until softened and beginning to brown. Add the garlic and cook for a minute more.

3. Add the mustard, a good sprinkle of thyme and oregano, beans, beer, and stock. Season well with salt and pepper.

4. Place the insert in the crock pot, and cook on low for 8 hours. If there is too much liquid at this point, transfer the insert to the stove top and bring to a boil until the mixture reduces and thickens.

5. Return the reserved bacon to the insert. Season to taste with additional salt, pepper, and 1-2 tablespoons of cider vinegar.

6. Serve as desired. I served ours atop chopped romaine hearts with crumbled goat cheese.