Black Bean Brew

October 31, 2012

This soup is to die for! It works as a main course over rice, side dish or sauce for cheese enchiladas. Happy Halloween!

from The Foster’s Market Cookbook

2 cups dried black beans, picked over and rinsed
¼ cup olive oil
1 red onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded and diced
4 ribs celery, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 jalapenos, diced
8 cloves garlic, minced
1 granny smith apple, peeled cored and diced
1 tablespoon dried basil
8 cups chicken or vegetable broth
4 bay leaves
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
juice of 4 limes


First, quick soak the beans by placing them in a large pot and covering with water by 3 inches. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer uncovered for 45 minutes. Remove from the heat, drain, and set aside.

While the beans are cooking, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the onion, and cook until softened (10-12 minutes). You will need to stir occasionally.

Add the red bell pepper, carrots, celery, jalapenos and cook/stir for about 10 minutes or more. Add the garlic and cook 2 minutes longer.

Add the apple, basil, broth, bay leaves, salt, pepper, drained beans and stir to blend. Bring to a low boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 1-1 ¼ hours or until beans are tender.

If you have an immersion blender, blend the soup so that it is both parts smooth and chunky. If not, use a Cuisinart and ladle part of the soup into the processor. Process until smooth. Return the smooth mixture to the pot. Cook an additional 15 minutes.

Remove from the heat and stir in lime juice (optional). Garnish with scallions and cilantro. Also good with some sour cream!

Printable recipe here-Black Bean Soup


House-made Marinara

August 8, 2012

Looking for something to do with all those tomatoes? You definitely should make a big batch of this sauce. Sometimes the simplest dishes are the most flavorful. I’ve made this sauce for years, and it always amazes me how delicious a bowl of noodles drenched in tomato sauce can really taste.

Look at that rich red color! The flavor is even richer. This marinara sauce is ideal for freezing and eating on a cold winter night. So you should double or triple the recipe.

from Michael Chiarello’s Casual Cooking

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ cup minced onion
1 tablespoon fresh Italian parsley, chopped
1 large clove garlic, minced
3 lbs fresh tomatoes- peeled, seeded, & pureed (4 cups of puree) OR
1 (28-ounce) can whole tomatoes (3.5 cups puree)
1 large basil stem, leaves removed
1 teaspoon sea salt
baking soda or sugar, if needed


To make the tomato puree, first quarter the tomatoes. Then, peel and seed the tomatoes. 3 pounds of fresh tomatoes makes about 4 cups of puree. Place peeled and seeded tomatoes in a food processor and puree.

Heat the olive oil in a ceramic pot over moderate heat. Add the onion and sauté until translucent- about 8 minutes. Add the parsley and garlic. Cook briefly to release their fragrance. Add the tomato puree, basil and salt. Simmer briskly until reduced to a saucelike consistency. Stir occasionally so nothing sticks to the bottom. The timing will depend on the ripeness and meatiness of your tomatoes and size of your pot. Anywhere from 30 minutes- 2 hours. If the sauce thickens too much before the flavor develops, add a little water and continue to cook.

Taste and adjust the seasonings. I always add a good amount of salt. If the sauce is too acidic, add a pinch of baking soda and cook for 5 more minutes. If it needs a touch of sweetness, add the sugar, and cook for 5 minutes. Remove basil stem before serving.

Makes 2-2 ½ cups. This freezes very well so double or triple the recipe when tomatoes are plentiful.

Here is a printable recipe-Marinara Sauce


Comfort Food

March 7, 2012

This is the perfect recipe to prepare for someone in need of comfort food. Self-crust chicken pot pie is warm, satisfying and hearty. Plus, it is much easier to prepare than most chicken pot pie recipes. Also, I have made it easier to print my recipes! Please find a PDF of the recipe at the bottom of the post. Hope it helps!

adapted from Cook and Love It More

3-4 chicken breasts (bone in and skin on is best)
1 (10 ¾ oz) can condensed cream of mushroom
1 bag frozen mixed veggies
1-1 ½ cups chicken broth
1 stick butter
1 cup self-rising flour
1 cup milk
¼ teaspoon black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place chicken breasts skin side up on a sheet pan. Rub with olive oil and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until cooked through. Once cooled, debone and cut up into cubes. Place in a 13×9 inch dish. Or place in two smaller dishes and freeze half.

2. Combine soup and broth. Pour over chicken. Add vegetables on top of the soup mixture. Do not stir!

3. Combine melted butter, flour, milk and pepper. Spoon over the chicken mixture. Do not stir. Bake in 400-degree oven for 30 minutes or until golden and bubbly.

Click below to download a printable copy of the recipe!
Self-Crust Chicken Pot Pie


Minestra Maritata

February 15, 2012

Italian wedding soup seemed like the appropriate meal to serve at my friend Clary’s engagement supper. We have loved this soup all winter so it was about time I shared it with others. After a quick google search, I learned that the original Italian wedding soup is an American mistranslation for minestra maritata or “married soup”. And by “married” the Italians mean that the greens and meatballs go well together. I agree! The best part of this soup is that you can choose any green and any kind of meatball you like. Kale is my favorite but spinach is fab too. A special shout out goes to Ruthie for taking a long afternoon nap so I could prepare for the celebration.

adapted from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics

For the meatballs:
3/4 pound ground chicken
1/2 pound chicken sausage (pork sausage also works), casings removed
* you can adjust these proportions a little. ex. 1 lb chicken and 1/4 lb sausage
2/3 cup fresh white bread crumbs (Panko bread crumbs also work)
2 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 cup Pecorino Romano (or Parmesan)
3 tablespoons milk
1 extra large egg
kosher salt and ground pepper

For the soup:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup yellow onion, minced
4 carrots, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
10 cups homemade chicken stock
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 cup small pasta (stars, little pinwheels, macaroni…)
1/4 cup dill, minced
12 ounces (or more) spinach or kale

To make the meatballs, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the ground chicken, sausage, bread crumbs, garlic, parsley, Pecorino, milk, egg, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a bowl. Combine gently with a wooden spoon. Next, line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using clean hands, form small 1-1 1/4 inch meatballs. Place the meatballs on the pan. You should have about forty (they don’t have to be perfectly round). Bake for 30 minutes or until lightly browned. Set aside until the soup is ready for them. Also know that these meatballs freeze well!

For the soup, heat olive oil over medium-low heat in a dutch oven. Add onion, carrots, and celery and saute until softened (5-6 minutes). Stir occasionally. Add the chicken stock and wine to veggies and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and add the pasta to the simmering broth. Cook for 6-8 minutes until pasta is tender. Add dill and meatballs and simmer for a minute. Stir in greens just before serving. Simmer for 1 minute or until wilted. Taste for salt and pepper needs. Ladle into bowls and top with extra Pecorino or Parmesan.


White pizza according to Justin- “wow, this is up there in your top five”. I have to say it was pretty awesome. After all, how could any three cheese pizza drizzled with garlic herb oil be bad? The arugula topping elevates the pizza to a gourmet level and adds a smidgen of health benefit.

adapted from Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics

You Will Need:
pizza dough- I like Publix
flour for rolling
olive oil
4 garlic cloves, sliced
5 sprigs fresh thyme
sprinkle crushed red pepper flakes
2 cups grated fontina cheese
ball of fresh mozzarella
8 ounces goat cheese

Salad Topping:
1/2 olive oil
1/4 freshly squeeze lemon juice
8 ounces baby arugula

Preheat oven according to package directions.
Place 1/2 cup olive oil, garlic, thyme and red pepper flakes in a small saucepan.
Simmer over low heat.
Cook for ten minutes (make sure garlic does not burn).
Meanwhile, divide your dough in two.
Roll onto a floured surface into two organic circles.
Drizzle a sheet pan with a little olive oil to keep pizza from sticking.
Place dough on the sheet pan and prepare to top!
Strain flavored oil through a fine sieve and into a bowl (or dip brush into pan).
Brush or drizzle pizzas with flavored oil.
Layer on the three cheeses.
Sprinkle crust with salt.
Drizzle pizza with a little more oil.
Bake pizzas according to package directions.
Meanwhile, whisk together 1/2 olive oil (use flavored if any left), lemon juice, s&p.
Toss arugula with just enough vinaigrette to cover lightly.
Top the cooked pizzas with a handful of dressed arugula.



August 28, 2011

I finally fulfilled my promise (to you and my husband) from a few months back to recreate some of our favorite Cabo dishes. Shrimp Nachos were top on the list. With lots of guidance from the Mexican food connoisseur in my house, we came pretty darn close to Punta Ballena’s Shrimp Nachos. The key was finding the right kind of Mexican melting cheese. This recipe is just in time for football season!

You Will Need:
1/2 pound little shrimp
1 lime, juiced
1 garlic clove, minced
several leaves basil or other herb, chopped
3 slugs olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons pepper
Chips- not too thin or too salty. We used “On The Border” brand.
1 can refried beans
1-2 cups mexican melting cheese or “quesadilla” cheese
1 can sliced jalapeno

For the shrimp-
Rinse little shrimp and pat dry.
Place in a plastic bag with lime juice, garlic, basil, olive oil, s&p.
Marinate for an hour. (the lime juice will begin to “cook” the little shrimp)
Lay on a sheet pan.
Broil in the oven for a couple minutes on each side.

To assemble the nachos-
Heat refried beans in a pan with a little water.
Start with a good foundation of chips on a sheet pan.
Shred the cheese with a box grater.
Slice up jalapeno if necessary.
Spoon warmed and slightly thinned beans onto chips.
Sprinkle with grated cheese.
Broil for a couple minutes- chips should be a little brown and cheese melted.
Scatter with jalapenos and shrimp.



August 15, 2011

This basket of figs turned into a simple, delicious, and slightly sweet pizza. I only know figs from my grandmother’s trees and honestly have never bought them at the store, so I guess that makes me a fig snob. If you’ve never tasted a fig, then please hunt some down quickly! Figs are savory with goat cheese, gorgonzola, balsamic, prosciutto, or straight off the tree. They have a sweet side too; think Fig Newtons but better. You can make fig preserves, top ice cream with sweetened figs, fig cookies, cakes pies…

But for now, here is a fig pizza for all to enjoy. This would be an awesome appetizer!


You Will Need:
pizza dough (I like Publix)
6-10 figs, quartered
10 ounces goat cheese (gorgonzola is also good)
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
olive oil
kosher salt
basil leaves, chopped

Preheat oven according to dough directions.
Roll dough out to desired thickness.
Place dough on lightly oiled pan.
Top dough with figs and cheese.
Smear crust lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
Bake according to dough directions.
While the dough cooks, heat balsamic vinegar over medium/low heat.
Cook until balsamic thickens to a syrup.
(Feel free to add a little water if it gets too thick)
Drizzle pizza with balsamic and top with basil.



August 4, 2011

Miller Union created a pork tenderloin dish that has consumed my thoughts for weeks.  As tender as a beef filet and flavorful as a slow roasted chicken, this cut of meat stole my heart.  This dish also made me realize that I’ve never cooked pork before!  In an effort to eat frugally while also trying pork in my own kitchen, I chose this stuffed pork chop recipe.  I know pork chop is very different from a tenderloin of pork, but while we are pinching pennies this cut was perfect.

adapted from Claire Robinson on Food Network

You Will Need:
2 bone in pork chops, 1.5 inches thick
1-2 tablespoons pine nuts
1-2 tablespoons golden raisins
2 ounces goat cheese
olive oil
salt and pepper

Soak raisins in hot water for a few minutes to plump.
Stir together raisins, nuts and 1 tablespoon olive oil.
Cut a pocket in the pork chop from fat side to bone; a paring knife is perfect for the job.
Stuff each pocket with goat cheese, then the nut raisin mixture.
Secure each pocket with a toothpick.
Season chops with salt and pepper.
Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in skillet or dutch oven over medium heat.
Sear the chops on each side until golden brown.
Add 1/4 cup water to the skillet.
Simmer chops in liquid for 15-20-ish minutes. I didn’t cover but original recipe suggested it.
Remove chops and drizzle with the “gravy” they created.


Of the three things I cooked this weekend, two completely flopped and one turned out fabulous. This blog worthy pizza is a must try this summer. The key is the combination is Georgia peaches, prosciutto, and basil; and really you can use them in a variety of ways. With help from the Green Egg Master, I finally tried grilling a pizza and think you should try it this summer too!

adapted from Martha Stewart Living

pizza dough (I like Publix), cut into two
2 ripe but firm peaches, halved
several basil leaves
10 slices prosciutto
buffalo mozzarella
olive oil
coarse salt
Green Egg/grill
baking stone/ceramic plate

Heat the grill and baking stone to 400 degrees.
Brush halved peaches with olive oil.
Grill 2-ish minutes on each side.

* We found it helpful to create a prep tray with peaches, salt, olive oil etc. and bring it out to the grill. Like a cooking show! The American Culinary Institute calls this “Mise en place”. A french term meaning “everything in it’s place”.

Roll dough out thin (you will have two thin pizza discs after cutting dough in half).
Slice mozzarella and place on a paper towel to remove any excess water.
Brush dough with olive oil.

We tried two different dough grilling techniques. The first created a crispy bottom and soft top. The second created a Indian naan-like bread. You’ll have two pizzas so give both a whirl.

Dough Grilling Option 1- grilling only one side. See first image above for final result.
Place oiled side down onto the ceramic plate.
Brush crust with oil and sprinkle with coarse salt.
Add mozzarella slices.
Close grill and cook for 8 minutes. *Cooking times my vary so watch it!

Dough Grilling Option 2- grill both sides. See second image above for final result.
Place oiled side down onto the ceramic plate.
Brush crust with oil and sprinkle with coarse salt.
Grill for several minutes until dough is golden like a pancake.
Flip dough on the plate to grill opposite side.
Now Add mozzarella slices.
Close grill and cook for 5 minutes. *Cooking times my vary so watch it!

Top grilled dough and melted cheese with prosciutto, basil and grilled peaches. Enjoy!


Here is another fabulously fresh and light recipe from the Hot and Hot Fish Club cookbook. You must involve a grill/grill master, limes and grouper for this dish. The marinated tomatoes, avocados and onions are awesome enough to be there own side dish anytime.

adapted from Hot and Hot Fish Club

For two people-
1 ripe Haas avocado, sliced
2 ripe heirloom tomatoes, sliced
1 Vidalia onion, thickly sliced
10 basil leaves, sliced into ribbons
4-ish limes
olive oil
2 grouper fillets
* could use lettuce and make a salad

Fire up the grill to 400 degrees (or high heat).
Slice up your veggies.
Brush onion rings with olive oil and sprinkle with S&P.
Grill the onion slices for 4-5 minutes per side.
Squeeze limes into a bowl (I had 1/2 cup lime juice).
Whisk in equal parts olive oil into the lime juice.
Add a dash of S&P to the lime dressing.
Marinate the tomatoes, avocados, grilled onions and basil in the lime dressing.
Sprinkle grouper with salt and pepper.
Grill grouper directly on grates for 6-7 minutes on first side (until fillets begin to pull away from grill)
and 4-5 minutes on second side (or until fish is golden and cooked through).
Place several slices of each vegetable on a plate.
Top marinated veggies with grilled grouper.
Drizzle with lime dressing.

Note: These marinaded vegetable are a wonderful dish on their own. The dressing is so easy!