Classic Black Beans

For a long time, Trader Joe’s was really lacking in the dried legume department. But lucky for me…about a year ago, they introduced dried black beans, and life has never been the same.

If you find cooking beans from scratch intimidating, you are not alone! Before I started making them from scratch, I imagined an all day process that was very labor intensive. But if you have gone through the process before, then you’ll know just how easy it can be. Beans are a very forgiving food to cook, they just need a little bit of (mostly) hands-off time. Having this classic recipe in your back pocket, I guarantee you’ll start stocking up on this staple.

img_2105

The process really starts the night before. First, empty your 1lb bag of black beans into a large pot and sort through it for any rocks or random beans that might have made their way into the bag (totally common to find stuff like this in raw beans. If you find one, just discard it). Then cover with water, about 2 inches above the bean line, and let sit out overnight. You can cover if you like.

IMG_2106

Next, you’ll dump out the water (in a strainer? using your hands to strain it? You pick) and refill the pot with fresh water, about two inches above the bean line. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. You’ll add the rest of the ingredients (diced onion, garlic, bay leaves and salt), and continue to boil and add additional water until fully cooked, about 1-1 1/2 hours.

IMG_2118

You will want to occasionally try the beans, and add additional salt as needed, just keep in mind that the flavor intensifies as the water evaporates, so over-salting can be a thing. If that happens, you can always add additional water. Make sure to cook until it is soft.

IMG_2116

I love to top my side of beans with the new TEENY TINY AVOCADOS. Great flavor combination! This recipe makes about 6 cups of cooked beans (breaking down to 12, half cup servings).

 

Classic Black Beans

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Recipe by Amanda Hibshman, RDN

Ingredients

  • 1 lb Bag Black Beans
  • Lots of water
  • 1/2 Onion, diced
  • 2 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 1 tsp Salt (+ more to taste)

Directions

  1. Empty black beans into a large pot, look through beans to make sure there isn’t anything funky in there (sometimes rocks or other beans make their way into your bag) and cover with water (about 2 inches above the bean line). Let sit overnight. 
  2. When ready to cook beans, drain soaking water and refill with fresh water, about 2 inches above bean line. Turn heat to high and add onion, garlic, bay leaves and salt. 
  3. Let boil until beans are soft and cooked through (usually close to an hour), stirring occasionally and adding additional water as it evaporates. 

Do you have any secrets to the perfect pot of beans? Concerns? Let us know in the comments!

SWASHBUCKLED! (S1E8): Chur-Nugz

Lot’s of ground to cover in our Season One Finale! We start out with a MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENT from Trader Joe’s about our day-drinking beverage of choice, and end with a sneak peak at season two. Along the way, we spend three hours (yes, THREE HOURS!) making stoner food, setting off smoke alarms, and getting schooled on Macarons/Macaroons/Macron (oh! and put some food on hold for Heather Forte.)

Read on for the episode breakdown…


Ingredients Featured in This Week’s Episode:

 

We start with a big announcement: Our favorite Lonely Alcoholic White Girl Soda, SIMPLER WINES,  is moving on up. Coming soon to a Trader Joe’s near you is the 375 ml can of Simpler Wines for only $2.99. We are especially excited about the addition of a red blend and chardonnay.

The ingredients this week included the seasonally stocked Green Cabbage (with a reminder to stock up on your raw, seasoned corned beef for St. Patrick’s Day before they sell out!), the versatile Matcha Green Tea Powder (which is a pantry mainstay) and Sriracha Potato Chips, which were stellar on their own (#eatin’chips).

Our friend, Heather Forte (remember her from Episode Five?) always raves about the Chick-Less Nuggets that seem to always be out of stock in her local Trader Joe’s store. Not only did we make a delicious vegetarian meal out of this ingredient, we also did her a solid by putting three bags on hold at her local store.

What to do with all these ingredients?

Tacos, of course. I love Tacos, and could eat them all day and all night. The chick-less nuggets have a mandarin sauce, which I took and combined 2/3 of it with mayonnaise, honey, and adobo sauce, and turned it into a creamy sauce to top our tacos. The other 1/3 was reserved to toss the nuggets in.

Another taco topping was a corn and cabbage cole slaw, tossed with lemon zest, cilantro, honey and olive oil. This also makes a great side salad and will last a few days in the refrigerator.

I had a pot of pinto beans soaking overnight when we began the episode. Trader Joe’s doesn’t sell raw pinto beans, but they do sell raw black beans, which can be prepared this same way. If you don’t have the time to make beans from scratch, you can always use canned beans, but they really don’t compare to a delicious pot of freshly cooked beans.

To take these up a notch, we embraced our inner stoner by combining the sriracha potato chips and the cooked beans in a  blender, and then pan frying them, making Potato Chip Infused Refried Pinto Beans. The best was the addition of crunched potato chips on top. It really completed the dish.

Lastly, we used the MUY BUENO COOKBOOK Recipe for the churro dough, since I have made (and loved) recipes from here in the past. Check out her recipe for the churros we made in this episode. Instead of tossing in just cinnamon and sugar, we used 1 cup of sugar, 2 Tbsp Matcha Green Tea Powder, and 1 Tbsp ground Cinnamon.

I didn’t really execute the churros as well as I had hoped. The dough was too hard, it would have been better to use a mixer, or to follow the time guidelines put forward int he recipe. My piping bag was also clogged, so I ended up making nuggets or snakes, which didn’t have the traditional churro shape. I also admittedly am the worst at deep-frying, so my technique was way off. The idea was great in theory, but the execution just wasn’t there.

Chicken-Less 'Fish' Tacos

  • Servings: 5
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Recipe by Amanda Hibshman, RDN

Ingredients

  • Chicken-Less Nuggets tossed in 1 Tbsp Mandarin Sauce
  • 10 Corn Tortillas
  • Coleslaw:
    • Cabbage – Green
    • Cabbage – purple
    • Corn
    • Cilantro
    • 1 Lime – zest and juice
    • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
    • 1 Tbsp Honey
    • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Sauce
    • 1 Cup Mayonnaise
    • 2 Tbsp Adobo Sauce
    • 2 Tbsp Mandarin Sauce
    • 2 Tbsp Orange Juice

Directions

  1. Grill or microwave corn then remove kernels with a knife. Thinly slice cabbage, chop cilantro. Combine in a bowl with lime zest and juice, olive oil, honey, salt and pepper. Toss well and refrigerate.
  2. Cook Chicken-Less Morsels according to package directions up until mixing with sauce (choice of baking or pan frying). Set aside 1 Tbsp Mandarin sauce to toss chicken-less morsels in after it is finished cooking.
  3. Meanwhile, combine 2 tbsp of the Mandarin sauce with adobo sauce, orange juice and Mayonnaise. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
  4. Once everything is ready, heat corn tortillas on a griddle, place 5 Chicken-Less Morsels in the center, top with coleslaw and adobo-mandarin sauce.

Sriracha Potato Chip Infused Pinto Beans

  • Servings: 10
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Recipe by Amanda Hibshman, RDN

Ingredients

  • Dry pinto beans
  • water
  • salt
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 Garlic Cubes
  • 1 Chicken or Vegetable Boullion Cube
  • 1/2 Onion, diced
  • Sriracha Potato Chips
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil

Directions

  1. Soak beans in water overnight. When ready to make beans, drain water and replace with fresh, and cover with water (about 1 inch above where the beans are). Add salt, bay leaves, garlic, bouillon and diced onion. Bring to a boil and cook for at least an hour, until beans become tender. Add more water and salt as needed.
  2. Normally, I would call it a day and just enjoy my pinto beans, but to take it to he next level, add 2 cups of beans and 1 cup of sriracha potato chips to a blender. Mix on medium for about 45 seconds, until smooth.
  3. Add olive oil to a pan and heat over medium heat. Add blended pinto beans and sauté for about 2 minutes. Turn on low and cover until ready to serve. Top with crunched up potato chips.

FishTacos with Sriracha Chips Refried Beans

French Onion Soup (with Italian Style Breadcrumbs)

French-Onion-Soup-FFK
My ultimate comfort food is French Onion soup. Nutritionally speaking, there isn’t much there aside from a lot of sodium and a whole bunch of cheese. I like to feel better about eating it by telling myself that my comfort food of choice could be a lot less healthy.

Ingredients for French Onion Soup (Fearless Flying Kitchen)It has been a dreary May (at least for this past week), so the first thing I wanted was French Onion Soup. I have not attempted to make this within the last, I don’t know, 10+ years? This usually only enters my diet at restaurants, when I purchase sub-par frozen versions, or get the BEST CUP OF F.O. SOUP EVER MADE at the House of France at Christmas on the Prado (or December NIghts for those of you new to San Diego). Seriously, best ever. I have decided this is mostly because it is not very heavy, the onions aren’t completely caramelized (they are still a light caramel color instead of a dark brown), and they have a few interesting flavors that seem a little more authentic (Herbs de Provence? No clue). I tried to emulate that in this recipe. It is getting pretty close! I am not sure what else I could add, aside from maybe a few more spices, let it cook for a longer period of time, or…I am not sure. But regardless if it tasted exactly like the soup from the House of France, it was good, and completely satisfied my “Dreary Weather Blues.”

French Onion Soup (With Italian Style Breadcrumbs)

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 Cup (half stick) of butter
  • 3 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 (Quart) Containers of Beef Broth
  • 3 Bay Leaves
  • 3 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp Sea Salt
  • 1 tsp Pepper
  • 1 tsp Thyme, dried
  • 1 bag Italian Style Breadsticks
  • 1 Bag Shredded Swiss & Gruyere

Directions:

On medium-high heat, add butter to a large pan, and once melted, add the thinly sliced onions. Cook until they are a nice caramel color (about 15-20 minutes). Add minced garlic, bay leaves, thyme, salt, pepper and beef broth. Let come to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for about 30 minutes (or longer if you have the time, the longer it simmers, the more robust flavor).
In the meantime, while the onions are caramelizing and/or the soup simmers, make your croutons. Put your oven on to pre-heat at 375. Slice breadsticks into 1 inch thick pieces and put onto a baking sheet. Place in oven for about 10-15 minutes, or until they are just starting to get crunchy.
Once soup and croutons are done, remove bay leaves (if you can find them!), fill a bowl with soup, top with croutons and then shredded gruyere/swiss mix, and put in the broiler for a few minutes, until cheese is melted and gets the signature “french onion” bubbly look.

Grilled Polenta with Tomatoes and Olive Tapenade and Perfectly Perfect Artichoke

Come on, get appy! No, not an iPhone app, not an appendectomy…an appetizer!

I could eat appetizers all day long. Cheese boards. Baguette. Hummus. Artichoke and spinach dip. Everything just seems to be more decadent and taste better when it is in amuse-bouche form (in fact, quit what you are doing right now, and do a google image search of amuse-bouche. ooooooohhh, aaaaaahhhh). And quite honestly, if I were on Top Chef, this would be my specialty, because I LOVE hors d’oeuvres.

Fun fact about me: I once co-hosted a book club with my best friend just for the appetizers.

Any way, I am sure you can imagine that I try to pass off appetizers as “dinner” from time to time. For some reason, I always feel like it would be transformed into a “meal” if we added a simple salad. Here are some from my repertoire:

Polenta and Artichoke

Left: Grilled Polenta with Tomatoes and Olive Tapenade
Right: Perfectly Perfect Artichoke

Perfectly Perfect Artichoke

Ingredients:
  • 2 Artichokes
  • About 2 cups veggie broth (home made or store bought)
  • 2 Cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 2 slices of lemon
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/3 cup Mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp Garlic Aioli Mustard
  • 2-3 Tbsp Reserved veggie broth liquid
  • pinch of salt and pepper (optional)
  • 1 tsp basil  (optional)
  • 1 tsp oregano (optional)

Directions:

  1. To prepare the artichoke: rinse them, cut the stem off, trim the top of the leaves (because they can be a little prickly.) Cut each artichoke in half and remove the bitter, flower-y part in the middle, between the leafs, and the “choke.” (This also helps get flavor throughout and cook faster.)
  2. Store Bought is Fine

    Store bought is fine

    Place the artichoke, cut side down in a pot. Add two cloves of garlic, two lemon slices and two bay leafs and cover with veggie broth. You can easily make your own, which will be coming in a future post. However, in the words of my favorite celebrity chef, Ina Garten, store bought is fine.

  3. Cover and simmer until artichokes are tender. Then remove and serve along side of sauce (but don’t toss the veggie broth just yet! You’ll need that for the sauce)
  4. To make the dipping sauce: combine mayonnaise, mustard, and then a few tablespoons of the veggie broth mixture you just boiled the artichokes in. I think I also added a couple other spices, but I really can’t remember. Maybe some dried basil and oregano? Salt and pepper? I don’t know, but it was delicious. I am sure whatever spice you put in there would be delicious.

Perfectly-Perfect-Artichoke from The Fearless Flying Kitchen

Grilled Polenta with Tomatoes and Olive Tapenade

This is REALLY easy to make and will seem very gourmet. I have done this with home made polenta as well as store bought polenta as well as different varieties of olive tapenade. They are all delicious, and it really just depends on how much time you want to invest into this.

Ingredients:

  • Home-made polenta (like this Rosemary Polenta recipe) or the store bought Organic Polenta
  • Approx 1 Tbsp Olive oil or Butter
  • 3-4 Tomatoes (“on the vine” or Beefsteak varieties are best)
  • 1 container of Olive Tapenade
  • 1 container of creme fresh or sour cream
  • Handful of fresh basil, chopped

Directions:

  1. Preheat griddle over medium high heat and spray with some cooking spray, butter or a little olive oil. Slice polenta into 1/4-1/2 inch pieces and place on grill. Cook on each side for 2-3 minutes, not very long because it is already cooked. Just until heated through and has some delicious looking grill marks. Remove form heat and arrange on dish.
  2. Slice tomatoes into thick slices and grill like you did with the polenta.  Once it gets beautiful grill marks, place on top of each polenta slice. Top with a half Tbsp of Olive Tapenade of your choice (I have used three different Olive Tapenades from Trader Joes, and all are excellent, probably leaning more towards the one found in the refrigeratedsection), a dollop of Creme Fraiche or Sour Cream (or, on that note, Greek Yogurt if you are really trying to make this healthy) and then a sprinkling of fresh basil.

Grilled Polenta and Olive Tapenade from The Fearless Flying Kitchen