Sunday, July 17, 2011

Black Bean Soup

Friend of mine was telling me a story about her hubby's misadventures with some black bean soup the other day.  A few days later it was raining, and I didn't feel like cooking, so I decided to make some of my own.  This is the recipe I started with, then tweaked it based on personal taste and what I keep in my pantry.  You know, I honestly don't know why I bother buying cookbooks, since the food we eat never resembles the original recipe!  Inspiration, I suppose...

I often will cook a bag of dried beans, then freeze it in two-cup portions with some of the cooking water ladled over the top to prevent freezer burn.  Super easy, and super cheap.  This recipe is based on that.  You could use canned beans just as easily, as called for in the original recipe.

4 cups cooked black beans, with cooking water
1 can of petite diced tomatoes
1/2 t. Italian seasoning
1 t. ground black pepper
2 t. salt, more to taste if needed
2 cups chicken broth
2 T. taco sauce (as suggested in the original recipe, I used two packets of mild Taco Bell sauce.  Probably wasn't quite two tablespoons, I could have used one or two more.)
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 broccoli stalk, peeled and chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped

Put all ingredients into a 4- or 5-quart crock pot.  Cook on low 8 - 10 hours.  Before serving, ladle half of the soup out into a blender.  Put the lid on, COVER WITH A TOWEL (this is very important to keep you from getting burned), and blend until smooth.  Pour back into the crock pot and stir. 

Serve with cornbread on the side.

Makes 4 servings (three if you're feeding this to a bean-loving toddler like mine!).

Menu Plan July 18 - 21

I haven't posted a menu in a long, long time.  Truth be told, I lost all inspiration and I'm not exactly sure what we've been eating for the last couple of months!  I've just finished cleaning and reorganizing the pantry, however, so it's time to get back on track (now that I know what's actually in there).

Here's what's on tap for this week:

  • Monday:  meatloaf and garlic mashed potatoes, green beans from our CSA box
  • Tuesday:  manicotti (I use this recipe from the back of the Ronzoni manicotti box and add some cooked ground beef), green salad, and cheesecake (happy 8th anniversary to us!)
  • Wednesday:  Baked chicken with roasted broccoli and cauliflower
  • Thursday:  Kielbasa and kidney beans
Friday we're eating dinner out.

Have a great week, everyone!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

CSA Adventures, week 4 and 5

For some reason, I wasn't into dealing with fresh produce last week, so some of it is still sitting in my fridge (which also explains why I haven't blogged about it)!  Here's what I got...

Broccoli:  went into a DELICIOUS pot of black bean soup (I started with this recipe, but made quite a few changes along the way).

Zucchini:  went into some gorgeous looking sausage and cheese calzones, which we couldn't eat because hubby accidentally baked them with the plastic wrap still on (one of the hazards of make-ahead dinner, LOL!).

Green onion:  I remember chopping these, but can I remember what I put them in?  Of course not...

Snow peas:  Still in the fridge

Radishes:  Still in the fridge

Cherries:  Almost all eaten.

This week, my CSA buddy is out of town, so I got the whole box to myself.  I got:

Broccoli and cauliflower:  I'm going to try roasting this.

Zucchini:  I'll probably grill it, but the zucchini in my garden is finally starting to come on, so at some point I'm going to start shredding and freezing it (for bread, muffins, etc).

Green beans:  Steamed all the way, baby!

Sugar Daddy Peas:  I thought these were sugar SNAP peas, so I sat down this morning to shell them.  Well, the peas were DINKY, and the pods wouldn't budge since there weren't any strings!  I finally looked at the list again, saw what they actually are, and googled them since I've never heard of them before.  We'll most likely be steaming them and eating them whole.

Raspberries:  I absolutely LOVE the flavor of raspberries, but I have issues with my teeth and the seeds, so I don't eat them very often.  So I decided to make puree and freeze it, for sauces or Italian sodas or whatever.  Did that this morning.  Then I ran across this recipe, and now I'm kicking myself for pureeing them all because those sound AMAZING!  I've bookmarked it so, come this fall when my own raspberries come on (we have a few but not enough to cook with right now), I can give it a try.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

CSA adventures, week 3

This week's box had asparagus, zucchini, green onions, cabbage, spinach, lettuce, and cherries.  My friend took the cabbage, since she needed to make coleslaw for a crowd, as well as the lettuce because my garden is more than covering our needs right now. 

I bought extra asparagus and pickled it all last night.  I've never made pickles of any kind before, let alone something as exotic as asparagus, so we'll see how it goes.  I have to let it sit at least a month before I can try it, so I'll keep you posted!

The trimmings of the asparagus and the spinach went into a delightful pasta dinner last night which also included, among other ingredients, fresh basil, Italian sausage, fontina cheese, garlic, and cream.  It was EXCELLENT. 

The green onions have gone into many things, including spinach dip and bean dip for our 4th of July gathering. 

I sauteed the zucchini in olive oil and served it as a side dish.  Normally I like my zucchini grilled, but since both of our propane cans are empty and we haven't taken the time to get them filled, that was not an option. 

We're still eating the cherries. Love them! 

So far, our boxes have been pretty mainstream, and haven't really had any "out there" ingredients that I've had to wrangle with.  In a way, this is good, because it helps to ensure that we actually eat what we're buying.  On the other hand, I haven't done much experimenting, either, which I definitely think would be a great deal of fun.  We'll see what the rest of the season holds...