Mexican Poblano Casserole

Inspiration: Since throwing away processed carbohydrates for the most part, there are a few things that we’ve really missed – and one of them is enchiladas. Oh, how we both love enchiladas. I was flipping through one of my Rick Bayless cookbooks the other day, and as an intro to one of the sections, he said something along the lines of, “Let’s face it. When we’re craving Mexican food, we usually want something with tortillas.” And I think the man is right. While an authentic Mexican chicken breast with a great mole sauce is wonderful….it just doesn’t satisfy that Mexican food craving like a pile of cheesy enchiladas or quesadillas, does it? Brandon and I both love, love, love Brandon’s Mom’s beef and bean enchiladas, so the idea struck me to try out the main components in a casserole form using poblano peppers instead of tortillas.

What We Loved: This dish completely satisfied that craving for delicious and cheesy Mexican food. The poblano pepper layers were smoky, earthy, and spicy (and provided an entirely new and pleasant flavor dimension than you would find in something like an enchilada), the meat filling was creamy and rich, and the deep red sauce was just packed full of flavor. The sauce was really a wonderful suprrise. I expected it to be good, but it was just so rich, garlicy, spicy, and intense – everything that I love about Mexican food. And when you cover all of these components with cheese and then throw in sour cream and fresh cilantro as garnishes, this really makes for the perfect meal when you’re craving that certain style of Mexican food.

Helpful Hints: Don’t think of this as a replacement for enchiladas. It’s not, nor is it intended to be. That said, we thought that this was really a great meal in its own right and a great way to get a lot of the flavors of enchiladas into a simliar meal that better suits our lifestyle. Also, this might not hold together perfectly (or maybe I’m always just too impatient to let the pan cool long enough before serving), but no matter. The taste is fab and I simply don’t know if I can wait any longer for the leftovers.

Happy Cinco de Mayo all!

Mexican Poblano Casserole
Source: Inspired by Brandon’s Mom’s enchiladas; with the sauce recipe adapted from blogchef.net.

6 poblano peppers
2 cups colby cheese, more if desired
Cilantro and sour cream, to garnish

For the meat filling
1 lb ground beef
1/2 small onion
Cumin
Chili powder
Paprika
Garlic powder
Oregano
Coriander
Kosher salt
Black pepper
1 can pinto beans

For the sauce
Olive oil or butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 slice onion, minced
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 tablespoon chili powder
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup salsa (I used Fronterra’s double roasted tomato)
6 oz tomato sauce
1 1/2 cups water

1. Place the peppers on a baking sheet and broil until blackened, about 5-8 minutes per side. Place the peppers in a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and let steam for 15 minutes. Peel the peppers, then slice them in half. Remove the seeds and insides, then flatten each pepper and set aside.

2. Cook the ground beef in a saute pan. When the beef is cooked, add the onions and cook for a few more minutes to soften. Add a bit of water to the pan, and then season everything well with cumin, chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, oregano, coriander, salt, and pepper. Mix to combine, adding more water if necessary.

3. Puree the beans with a bit of water in a food processor. Mix the beans into the ground beef mixture.

4. To make the sauce, heat a bit of oil in a sauce pan. Add the onion, and saute until softened. Add the garlic, spices, salsa, tomato sauce, and water. Bring to a boil, then cook for about 15-20 minutes, until thickened.

5. Spread a bit of the sauce on the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish. Add half of the poblano peppers in a layer, followed by half of the ground beef mixture and half of the cheese. Add the second layer of poblano peppers and the second layer of the ground beef mixture. Pour the sauce over top, and then top with the remaining cheese.

6. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Allow to cool 10 minutes before slicing. Top with sour cream and cilantro.

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Three Bean Soup with Ham

Inspiration:1) I froze the stock from our (nitrate/nitrite free) corned beef that we made at St. Patrick’s Day, and I was on the hunt for a nice soup to showcase it. 2) Brandon bought me this soup cookbook for my last birthday, and I had tried two different soups from it that turned out….well….just awful. One of them made enough to serve an army (two armies?) and became known as The Sludge in our house. As in, “Good grief, another day of The Sludge for lunch…” The other one had a slimy texture that was just….not pleasant. This book seriously needed to be redeemed! 3) Brandon always makes fun of me for this, but I love beans of any kind (definitely in my top ten favorite foods), and bean soups are my absolute favorite kind of soups. Why does Brandon make fun? When he first knew me, I was really unreasonable/obnoxious about how much I detested beans. Which led him to comment after we enjoyed this meal how cool it is how much people change and grow together. It is, isn’t it? :)

What we Loved: Perusing back over all of the soup recipes that I’ve posted, I’d put this one in my top three, up there with my pork hock and 15 bean soup and black bean and sausage soup (I told you, I really love bean soups!). It’s rich, salty, creamy, and chock full of vegetables and nutrients. I think there’s a reason that ham and beans are such a classic combo – that salty, savory ham flavor really complements the mild, creamy beans so well. And I just loved the three different kinds of beans that were used in this recipe, as I thought that you could really taste each one. Pinto beans always remind me of Mexican food since I eat them most often as refried beans, and then there are the mild navy beans and the richer red kidney beans. Paired with a deeply flavorful and rich stock, this is truly comfort food in a bowl. In fact, I already have it on the menu again for a second time.

Helpful Hints: Since I used leftover corned beef stock (heavily salted because I had cooked a corned beef in it) and since ham is pretty salty itself, I didn’t even need to add any additional salt to this soup. This might be completely different for you, though, if you use a light- or no-salt stock. So I would suggest finishing the soup and then salting accordingly. My preference for this one is to make sure that it’s nice and salty!

Three Bean Soup with Ham
Source: Adapted from Williams Sonoma Soup cookbook

1 cup dried pinto beans
1 cup dried kidney beans
1 cup dried navy beans
Olive oil or butter
1 large onion, finely diced
2 carrots, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
6 cups stock (I used a very flavorful and salty corned beef stock)
2 bay leaves
1 Parmesan rind
2 cups diced ham, more if desired
Black pepper
Kosher salt (if needed)
Oregano

1. Place the three cups of beans in a pot, and cover with water. Soak for eight hours or overnight, then drain and rinse the beans.

2. In a large soup pot, heat some oil or butter and then add the onions. Cook until softened, then add the carrots and cook until just softened, a few minutes more.

3. Add the beans, garlic, diced tomatoes and juice, stock, bay leaves, Parmesan rind, and ham. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer for one hour, or until the beans are softened.

4. Remove the bay leaves and the Parmesan rind. Blend about 1/3 or 1/2 of the soup (or as much/little as you’d like) with an immersion blender or food processor.

5. Season to taste with black pepper, Kosher salt (if needed – mine needed no salt since my stock was very salty), and oregano.

Mexican-Style Black Beans

Inspiration:When we have black beans for a side, I always just saute up some onions in a sauce pan and then throw in the beans with plenty of salt and pepper. I love black beans prepared that way, but you know what? One of my favorite little mantras that pops into my head all of the time (from my favorite song of all time – The Best of What’s Around by Dave Matthews Band) is “If you hold on tight to what you think is your thing, you may find you’re missing all the rest.” Okay, so that’s a little dramatic and ridiculous applied to black beans (ha!) but it’s true, you know? There are always little ruts that I get into all of the time in life. Listening to the same music, reading the same authors, having my places and things that I love and my places and things that I don’t love. And no matter how many new foods we try (a lot!), there are always little ruts that we fall into with certain sides or soups or breakfasts or whatever. But then Dave Matthews sings that little phrase in my head again and I leap for something new. So yes.

What we Loved: These were really a delightful side dish to our Mexican meal. What I loved most was the texture. Since you smash half of the beans in the pan, the texture ends up somewhere between that of regular beans and refried beans. Fabulous! Then there are all of the lovely seasonings, including tomato, onion, garlic, and rich/earthy cumin (which is one of my favorite seasonings, especially with Mexican). There is definitely a lot of flavor going on for such a simple recipe, which is a great contrast to the simple flavors of our normal black beans with onions, salt, and pepper. I also adored the tart squeeze of lime juice and sprinkle of fresh cilantro on top – in my opinion, these are always the perfect and bright finishing touches for nearly any Mexican dish.

Helpful Hints: I think next time I might even smash more of the beans for more of that creamy texture, so I would recommend smashing a bit more than shown in my pictures. That creamy texture is really just wonderful!

Mexican-Style Black Beans
Source: Elly Says Opa

Oil or butter
1/4 cup diced onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 bay leaf
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup chicken stock, more if needed
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
3/4 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon oregano
Squeeze fresh lime juice
Chopped cilantro

1. Heat a drizzle of oil or a pat of butter in a sauce pan. Add the onion, and cook until softened.

2. Stir in the garlic, tomato paste, and bay leaf, cooking for an additional minute.

3. Add the beans, and then smash about half of them with the back of a spoon.

4. Stir in the stock, chili powder, cumin, and oregano (adding more than 1/2 cup stock if needed).  Simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until most of the stock has been absorbed, about 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

5. Top with a squeeze of lime juice and fresh cilantro.

Seared Beef Tenderloin with Truffle Butter and Cannellini Bean Puree

Inspiration: Simply put, I love Brandon, and I love to make him nice dinners with some of his favorite things :)

What we Loved: Sometimes, I don’t think that fancier meals need to be super complicated. I used a couple beautiful cuts of grass-fed tenderloin, some locally grown white beans, bacon, onions, and a dollop of truffle butter. I threw some salt and pepper into the mix, and that was really all there was to it for a rich and wonderful supper. I don’t think that there are many cuts of meat better than tenderloin steaks that are seared on the outside and rare on the inside, and we were actually really surprised by how much we enjoyed the white bean puree, too. It was rich with the flavors of bacon and onions, with a nice and creamy texture that paired perfectly with our steaks. If you’ve never had truffles before, they have an extremely earthy flavor (that I think Brandon would name as one of his favorite things in life?). Putting that flavor into butter results in a wonderfully rich combination. We loved it on top of our steaks, because that fabulous buttery, earthy flavor seeped down into our entire meal.

Helpful Hints: There’s nothing worse than buying an expensive cut of meat and overcooking it, so my best advice is to be very vigilant when cooking these. I don’t think that precise instructions for searing a perfect steak can exist, since preferences/cuts/stovetop temperatures are always going to be different (and experience is what helps the most), but here are my tips. These tips are for rare tenderloin steaks, which is what we prefer.

I always set a timer with tenderloin, and I always follow these general guidelines: place the steak in the pan, set a timer and cover, flip the steak, set the timer and cover again, remove the steak from the pan, and let rest. The only variable is how thick your tenderloin is, and I’ve found that four minutes per side is generally a good rule of thumb for a rare steak. If your steaks are a little thicker, shoot for five minutes. It takes a bit of practice to be able to tell just how long you need, but I think that a good trick is to use a pair of kitchen tongs to cook the steaks, rather than a spatula. Using tongs really gives you a feel throughout the cooking process for how well the meat is being cooked on the inside. Placing the steaks in the pan with the tongs and flipping them with the tongs gives you a feel for the amount of give that there is when the steaks are raw and when they’re halfway  cooked. And though you should only move (flip) the steaks once to ensure a good sear on both sides, you can take the tongs and squeeze the sides of the steak as they’re getting close to being finished. There should still be a good bit of give for a rare steak, so if it’s starting to feel too firm, you need to cut the cooking time short and get it out of the pan. Alternatively, if it seems like it offers too little resistance, you may want to cook for just a little bit longer.

Seared Beef Tenderloin with Truffle Butter and Mashed Cannellini Beans
Source: Original Recipe

For the Steaks
2 beef tenderloin steaks, 6-8 ounces each
Kosher salt and black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
A couple dollops of truffle butter (we find ours at Whole Foods, in the cheese section)

1. Remove the steaks from the fridge 30 minutes before cooking to bring them to room temperature. Season well with salt and pepper.

2. Heat a saute pan over medium heat. When hot, add a good drizzle of olive oil. Place the steaks in the pan, cover, and let cook for 4-5 minutes without touching. Flip the steaks, cover, and let cook for 4-5 minutes more. This will give you a rare steak, but judge the time based on the thickness of your steaks. Thinner steaks will be closer to four minutes, while very thick steaks might edge past five.

3. Remove the steaks from the heat, cover with foil, and let sit for five minutes. Top with truffle butter and serve.

For the Beans
~1/2 cup dried cannellini beans
6 slices bacon, diced
1/2 large onion, sliced
Splash milk
Kosher salt and black pepper

1. Soak the beans overnight, then place them in a pan covered with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, cooking until the beans are softened.

2. When the beans are nearly cooked through, place the bacon in a saute pan over medium low heat. Cook until starting to crisp, then add the onion. Reduce the heat to low, and let the bacon and onions cook until browning and caramelizing.

3. Place the beans in a food processor with a splash of milk. Process until the beans form a smooth puree, adding more milk if necessary.

4. Mix in the bacon and onion. Season well with salt and pepper.

Cincinnati Chili

Cincinnati Chili

*Photo and Content Updated February 2012*

Inspiration: Craving for chili? Check. New cookbook (thanks Brandon!) with an interesting Cincinnati chili recipe? Check.

What we Loved: There aren’t many things better than a bowl of chili covered with cheese, are there? Cincinnati chili is a little different because it has some sweeter spices in it like cinnamon, cloves, and allspice, and the result is a dark, smoky, and complex dish that is really a nice change of pace from a regular tomato-based chili. There are plenty of rich and savory flavors, a touch of sweet thrown in, and the wonderful spicy kick that every chili needs. And with a pound of kidney beans, a pound of ground beef, and plenty of diced tomatoes, this is really a thick and hearty chili, too.

Tips: This is our version of Cincinnati chili – certainly not anything super authentic. Cincinnati chili is normally served over spaghetti and can include cheese, onions, and beans as toppings (though the beans are included within this version). We don’t generally eat pasta,  so we skipped the spaghetti and just ate it straight from the bowl topped with cheese and onions. I’d advise using heaps of cheese.

Cincinnati Chili
Source: Adapted from The Daily Soup Cookbook

1 lb red kidney beans (alternatively, you can use two cans)
1 lb ground beef
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
1 28 oz can diced tomatoes

Accompaniments
Cheddar cheese, freshly grated
Onions, finely chopped

1. Cover the beans with water, and soak overnight. Drain and rinse, then pour the beans into a pot. Cover again with water, and cook for 1-2 hours, until cooked through and softened. Drain, and set aside. If you are using cans, no prep is necessary.

2. Crumble the beef into the pot, and cook until browned and just about cooked through.

3. Add the onion to the pot, and cook until tender. Add the garlic, and cook for an additional minute.

4. Add the chili powder, oregano, coriander, cinnamon, allspice, cloves, cayenne, bay leaves, and salt. Stir to combine, and cook until the spices are fragrant.

5. Add the tomatoes and the beans. Simmer for as long as you’d like, at least half an hour.

6. Remove the bay leaves. Serve topped with cheddar and/or onions.

Black Bean and Sausage Soup with Avocado and Cilantro

Inspiration: I love making homemade soups. Since we receive two chickens per month in our CSA share, we make a ton of stock, and we like to use it to make soups to take to work for lunches throughout the week. Do you know what I hate, though? Pureeing soups in a food processor. What a giant pain. I was so happy this year when Brandon surprised me on my birthday with an immersion blender and two new soup cookbooks! Hurray!

What we Loved: This is one of the best soups that I’ve ever made, and it’s my favorite soup that we’ve had since the pork hock and 15 bean soup back in November. The flavor of the soup is really outstanding, with a nice southwestern feel. With the rich black beans and tomatoes, the spicy sausage and cumin, and the fresh complements of avocado and cilantro, there really are a lot of great things going on. The base of the soup is so smooth and creamy (with some nice added texture from the sausage), and it’s nice and filling since it’s so packed full of protein. I really can’t say enough about how much we loved this recipe!

Helpful Hints: I ate some of the leftovers with bleu cheese crumbles on top instead of avocado and cilantro, and that was a great pairing as well!

Black Bean and Sausage Soup with Avocado and Cilantro
Source: Adapted from The Daily Soup Cookbook

1 lb pork sausage
1 onion
1 habanero, seeded and minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 teaspoon ground thyme
2 bay leaves
1 lb black beans, soaked overnight
6 cups chicken stock
28 oz can diced tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Kosher salt
1 avocado
Handful cilantro, chopped

1. Crumble the sausage into a soup pot, and saute until cooked through. Remove to a bowl.

2. In the same pot, add the onion, and cook until softened. Add the habanero and the garlic, and cook for an additional minute.

3. Add the cumin, thyme, and bay leaves, and stir to coat the vegetables.

4. Stir in the black beans, chicken stock, tomatoes, pepper, and cayenne. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and partially cover. Simmer 1-2 hours, until the beans are tender.

5. Puree the soup with a food processor or an immersion blender.

6. Season to taste with Kosher salt. Add the sausage back into the pot, mix to combine, and bring everything to a simmer again for a few additional minutes.

7. Peel, pit, and dice the avocado. Mix with a handful of cilantro and a good sprinkle of Kosher salt.

8. Serve the soup topped with the avocado mixture.

Pork Hock and 15 Bean Soup

Inspiration: I rave about the benefits of our meat CSA all of the time, but one of the great things about it is that every now and then, it opens us up to some new and interesting foods. I probably wouldn’t have gone to the store and picked out a pork hock, but when we were given one in our CSA share, we had to make good use of it. I stumbled upon an awesome bag containing a mixture of 15 beans from a local farm while I was grocery shopping recently, and it happened to have a ham and bean soup recipe on the back. Perfect for adapting for our pork hock!

What we Loved: Since we had never cooked with pork hocks before, B and I were both very skeptical at first, but it really turned out that the pork hock was the key ingredient to this soup. The main flavor of the soup came from the broth, which was wonderfully rich and smoky with a great pork/ham taste. And after 10+ hours in the crockpot, the meat completely fell off of the bone. It was so easy to cut off the fat/tough parts and shred the rest for the soup. With plenty of salt for added flavor and the great creamy texture of all of the different kinds of beans, there sure was a whole lot going on with just a few ingredients. Brandon and I would both list this as one of our favorite soups that we’ve ever made.

Helpful Hints: Make sure to add plenty of salt (taste testing as you go) when the soup is done cooking, as it really does enrich all of the other flavors in the pot a lot. And I’m sure that this soup would be good with any kind of beans you prefer – there’s no need for a 15 bean mix if you can’t find one. But I thought that it was really awesome to use such a varied mix with such an awesome nutritional profile! (If you’re interested or want to pick and choose some beans to use for this recipe, our bag of beans contained: yellow eye beans, cranberry beans, red kidney beans, navy beans, pinto beans, great northern beans, adzuki beans, cannellini beans, yellow peas, green peas, blackeye peas, red lentils, green lentils, baby limas, and Christmas limas).

Pork Hock and 15 Bean Soup
Source: Adapted from Carlson-Arbogast Farm’s (Howard City, MI) recipe for “Mom’s Favorite Soup”

24 oz mixed beans (I used a bag of Carlson-Arbogast Farm’s Bean Appetite Souper Mix)
Oil or butter
2 cups onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 quarts chicken stock
1 smoked pork hock
Kosher salt and black pepper

1. Soak the beans covered in water overnight, then drain and rinse.

2. Heat a bit of oil or a pat of butter in a pot (I use the stovetop-safe removeable insert of my crockpot) over medium heat. Add the onions, and saute until softened and lightly browned. Mix in the garlic and the cumin, cooking for an additional 30 seconds.

3. Add the chicken stock and beans, and bring to a boil.

4. If using a stovetop-safe crock pot insert, remove the insert from the stove and place it back in the crock pot. Otherwise, transfer the mixture to your crock pot. Add the pork hock and cook on low for 10-12 hours.

5. Remove the pork hock. The meat should fall from the bones. Remove any fat/tough parts, and then shred the rest and return it to the pot.

6. Season the soup well with salt and pepper. Makes 12 cups.

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Lima Beans with Prosciutto

IMG_3848

*Photo and content updated December 2012*

Inspiration: Every year for Valentine’s Day, I like to make Brandon and myself a nice supper. This year, I had stuffed pork loin and cauliflower gratin on the menu, and I decided to complete the meal with a lima bean side dish, because they’re definitely a favorite food in our house.

What We Loved: To me, the best thing about lima beans is their texture. They’re just so uniquely and awesomely creamy. Brandon and I both really love them, and they tasted great in this simple preparation. The prosciutto added a nice, salty flavor and a wonderful crispy texture. And with just a few good pats of rich butter and some salt and black pepper for seasoning, these couldn’t be easier to prepare. Sometimes, simple recipes really are the best.

Tips: The only little piece of advice that I want to offer here is to be careful when seasoning with salt. Prosciutto is very salty on its own, so you may need less that you would typically add.

Lima Beans with Prosciutto
Source: 80 Breakfasts

1 cup frozen lima beans
Butter
3-4 slices prosciutto, sliced into thin strips
Kosher salt and black pepper

1. Add the lima beans to a saucepan, and cook according to package instructions. I added water to the pan, steamed the lima beans for approximately 20 minutes, and then drained the water.

2. Meanwhile, melt a pat of butter in a small saute pan. Add the prosciutto slices, and cook until crispy, stirring occasionally.

3. Add the lima beans to the pan with the prosciutto. Mix in another good pat of butter, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Roasted Red Pepper and Black Bean Soup

Black Bean and Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Inspiration: I’ve seen a lot of recipes for various kinds of black bean soup floating around the internet lately. While trying to plan a week of lighter suppers to counteract my love of beer, wine, cheese, etc., etc., I decided that a black bean soup would be perfect. And it just so happened that I served this on the first day of fall, too, which was nice.

What we Loved: I chose this particular black bean soup recipe because it had so many ingredients in it that B and I both adore. Black beans, roasted red peppers, chiles in adobo sauce, a heaping cup of cilantro. I had high hopes for this recipe, and it really didn’t dissapoint. While B was eating, he said that it would have to be a repeat recipe in our household for sure. That’s always a good thing! The flavor combination is really just amazing, with a nice smoky flavor from the adobo sauce and the roasted peppers and a great freshness from the cilantro. The soup turned out really thick and creamy, too, and it was also very spicy, which we loved. I really enjoyed this soup topped with plenty of avocado and green onions.

Helpful Hints: Because of the chile in adobo, this soup is very spicy. If you don’t like much spice, I would consider adding just a bit of the adobo sauce to keep the nice, smoky flavor, or maybe just a small amount of the pepper. I added one chile and some sauce for a super spicy soup. The soup in the original recipe was topped with sour cream, which I omitted because I needed to use up some vegetables instead, but next time I would definitely serve this with sour cream! The nice chill of the sour cream would really pair wonderfully with that spicy heat.

Roasted Red Pepper and Black Bean Soup

Source: A Good Appetite

I changed a few things around in this recipe, using canned beans and using cilantro instead of parsley. Here’s the recipe as I made it.

2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
Extra virgin olive oil
1 cup vidalia onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 red peppers, roasted, stems and seeds removed, and chopped
1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, chopped
1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
1 cup fresh cilantro
Kosher salt
2 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth to keep this vegetarian)

1. Heat a drizzle of olive oil over medium heat in a pot. Add the onion, and cook until tender, approximately 5 minutes. Add the garlic, and continue to cook for an additional minute.

2. Stir in the red peppers, chipotle, oregano, cilantro, and a big pinch fo salt. Cook for approximately 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the chicken broth and one can of black beans, and stir to combine.

3. Pour the soup into a food processor, and process until very smooth. I let my food processor run for several minutes to achieve the right consistency. Alternatively, use an immersion blender.

4. Return the soup to the pot. Add the remaining can of beans. Cover, and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for approximately 15 minutes and serve. Top with sour cream, yogurt, avocado, green onions, or any other desired toppings.

Stuffed Bell Peppers with Black Beans and Cheddar

Inspiration: It’s great to have meals sometimes that can use up all of your leftover odds and ends in the refrigerator and pantry. Somehow this week, I managed to overbuy all kinds of produce, and I found myself with a drawer full of vegetables that needed to be used. Omelets and pastas are other great meals for these situations, but I had a lot of vegetables with TexMex flavors, so I decided on stuffed peppers.

What we Loved: I really loved the flavor of the stuffing in these peppers. I put together a mix of black beans, garlic, onions, tomatoes, cilantro, and black olives, and the resulting filling tasted really great both cold and after having been cooked inside the peppers. I had some extra filling, so I snacked on it as I prepared supper, and B ate the rest alongside his meal. I served these with some avocado slices sprinkled with Kosher salt for a nice, vegetable-filled supper.

Helpful Hints: I would suggest making sure to cover your baking pan with foil before cooking the peppers. I didn’t, and the black beans that were on top before I added the cheese got far too crispy in the oven.

Stuffed Bell Peppers with Black Beans and Cheddar
Source: Original Recipe to serve 2

2 bell peppers, any color
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 roma tomato, chopped
10 black olives, roughly chopped
1 generous bunch cilantro, chopped
1/2 vidalia onion, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, minced
Kosher salt and black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup freshly shredded cheddar cheese
1 avocado

1. Slice the peppers in half vertically, and remove the seeds and insides. Set the peppers in a baking dish.

2. Heat a drizzle of exra virgin olive oil in a saute pan. Saute the onions for two to three minutes, until softened. Add the garlic, and saute for an additional minute.

3. Place the onions in a bowl. Add the black beans, tomato, black olives, and cilantro. Mix well, and season to taste with salt and pepper.

4. Fill each bell pepper to the top with the black bean filling.

5. Cover the baking dish with foil, and bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes.

6. Remove the baking dish from the oven, and discard the foil. Sprinkle some of the cheddar cheese on each pepper, and return to the oven. Cook for an additional five minutes, or until the cheese is melted.

7. Serve with salted avocado slices for garnish.