Slightly Spicy Three-Bean Soup

Lately, I’ve been all about making soup.  I’ll post some of the other recipes as soon as I have the time, but this one, co-created by my husband, is so easy to tell you about that I would have no excuse for not getting it up right away.  😉  Easy to write up, easy to make — throw stuff in the crock pot, let it make your house smell fabulous all day long!  We like the bean combination that we used, but I bet it would work with whatever dry beans you have in your cupboard.  This is also an easy and tasty way to add some whole grains, as well as legumes and veggies, to your diet.

  • 1 meaty ham bone
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 cup black beans
  • 1/2 cup kidney beans
  • 1/2 cup Great Northern beans
  • 2 large carrots, peeled
  • 3 stalks of celery
  • 3 jalapenos, seeded
  • 4 cloves of minced garlic
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 bay leaves
  • dill
  • salt and pepper
  • 3/4 cup bulgur

Put the beans in the crockpot.  Chop the carrots and celery and add them to the pot.  The jalapenos we just seeded and quartered, and we just peeled the onion and cut it into large slices.  Add those to the pot, then add the garlic and bay leaves.  We used about 1 teaspoon of dill and about 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.

I recommend doing everything up to this point the night before you want to make the soup, since it’s going to need to cook most of the day.  Then, when you get up in the morning, toss in your ham bone and 8 cups of water and turn it on high for an hour.   After an hour, turn it down to low and let it cook for 9 or 10 more hours.  So, if you have to get up and go to work in the mornings, add the bone and water and turn it on first thing, then turn it down right before you leave for work.  At my house, my husband turned it on right before he left for work, and I got up and turned it down an hour later.  Anyway, after it’s cooked for another 9 or 10 hours, remove the ham bone (leave the ham that falls off the bone) and the bay leaves (if you can find them).  Turn the crock pot to its “warm” setting (if it has one) and stir in the bulgur.  This will thicken your broth to give you a nice, thick, hearty bean soup.  Give it about 30 minutes to an hour, then dig in!

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Fried Chickpeas

Ok, another super easy, incredibly tasty, and extremely healthful snack recipe for you!  I had to find something else to do with the many cans of chickpeas (garbanzo beans) in my pantry (no one can eat THAT much hummus!), and I just discovered another really great cookbook by Mark Bittman — The Food Matters Cookbook.

  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 3 Tbs olive oil
  • seasonings

Heat the oven to 400 degrees.

Drain and rinse the chickpeas, then spread them on a towel on the counter and blot them dry.  If you don’t get them as dry as you can, they won’t turn out crispy.   So be gentle, but try to get them very dry.  Now, in an oven safe skillet, like a cast iron, combine the chickpeas and the olive oil, coating the chickpeas in the oil and then spreading them out in a single layer in the pan.  Roast for 15-20 minutes, shaking the pan every now and then.

When you pull them out of the oven, you want to season them while they are still hot.  Some suggestions for seasonings — cumin, or curry powder, or plain old garlic salt.  These are very, very, tasty.  The toddler LOVED them.  🙂

Squash Boats

So, WIC thinks we need to eat more beans, apparently. I’m not a big fan, but I didn’t need four more cans of chickpeas, so we got a couple different kinds and I was determined that I would find something tasty to do with them. This is what I came up with for the pinto beans (I also needed to use up my last squash!).

  • 1 large yellow squash
  • 1 can pinto beans
  • 1 can sliced olives
  • 1/2 an onion
  • 1 can Rotel tomatoes (if you don’t like spicy, just sub regular diced tomatoes)
  • olive oil
  • garlic

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

First, slice the squash in half down the center (so that they’re still round). Then slice them down the middle and scoop out the meaty part, leaving the rind intact. Drain the olives and tomatoes, and drain and rinse the beans. Dice the onion. In a bowl, combine the squash meat with the other veggies.

Once you have everything in the bowl, drizzle with olive oil, add some minced garlic, and mix well. Now brush some olive oil on the inside of the squash rinds, or boats. Scoop the veggie mix into the boats and bake for 10-15 minutes, depending on how well done you like your squash.

As long as your squash is not shaped oddly, you should be able to get 4 boats out of one squash. You will have lots of veggie mix left over, so you could either use more squash to make more boats, or do what I did — I used the extra to cover some chicken legs and wings and baked them for about 45 minutes. I won’t lie, though; the chicken was juicy and good, but not the high point of this dinner — the veggie mix was!

The next time I make this, I am going to add some herbs and other stuff to the olive oil. Maybe cilantro, maybe dill, probably some lemon juice…I haven’t decided yet. And definitely a little bit of corn.

Ummy Yummy Beans

I’m not a fan of beans, in general. Recent changes in our economic circumstances have made me reevaluate them as a viable energy source. Oh, wait, no….WIC told me I had to eat them. Which was it? Heck, I don’t know, but I did make these incredibly tasty pinto beans, and that’s speaking as one who doesn’t really like beans all that much.  I promise I will start posting recipes that don’t have beans in them!

We happened to have a ham bone and some extra ham left over that I had frozen from Easter. If you don’t have that, then I recommend tossing in some bacon about halfway through.

  • 1 pound uncooked pinto beans
  • 1 onion
  • half a bell pepper, green
  • 1 can Rotel tomatoes
  • 2 large fresh tomatoes
  • half a bunch of fresh cilantro
  • seasonings (salt, pepper, Cajun spices)

After you have picked through your beans and thrown away the broken ones, place them in the bottom of your crock pot.  Slice the onion and bell pepper and add them to the beans.  Add the leftover ham (or bacon cut into 1/2 inch pieces), then pour the Rotel tomatoes over that.  Chop and add the fresh tomatoes.

Chop the cilantro and discard the stems, adding only the green leaves to the pot, along with the salt, pepper, Cajun spices, and possibly just a tiny bit of rosemary.

Now cover everything with about 3-4 inches of water.  If you have to add more water, be sure it is hot, because adding cold water to already cooking beans can cause them to split.

Put the lid on and cook on low for 7-8 hours (better) or on high for 5 or 6 (still ok).  These make great burritos or a great side dish!

Thanks, cooks.com for this recipe!

Black Bean Burritos

Yes, it seems I’ve gone on a bean kick, which is surprising for me, since I never thought I liked beans.  But I promised you healthy and tasty, cheap and easy.  This recipe fulfills all of those requirements, and then some, I think.  Credit where credit is due — I nabbed it off Allrecipes.com.

  • butter
  • 1 small onion
  • half a bell pepper, green or red
  • minced garlic
  • three or four slices of jalapeno, diced
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3 ounces cream cheese
  • salt
  • cilantro
  • tortillas
  • chopped lettuce and tomato (optional)

Chop the onion and bell pepper.  Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat.  Saute the onion, bell pepper, garlic, and jalapeno in the butter for 2 or 3 minutes.  You can use this time to rinse and drain the beans.  Add the beans to the pan and cook for another 2 or 3 minutes.  Cube the cream cheese and stir that in.  Once it’s melted, sprinkle salt and cilantro over everything and stir.  You are now ready to make burritos.

Place a tortilla on a plate and spoon a smallish amount of beans into the middle.  Add your chopped lettuce and tomato, fold both sides in, and roll it up.  Enjoy!

Southwest Middle East Burritos

Lately I’ve been much more adventurous about trying foods I always thought, based on limited experience, that I hated. Brussels sprouts, for example. This recipe is an example of that. I tried hummus once and didn’t like it. However, I found that homemade hummus, with a tweak or two, is FAR superior to the store-bought stuff. I call these Southwest Middle East Burritos because I use cilantro and cumin in the hummus.

This meal takes under 30 minutes, and makes 3 burritos. You will have leftover hummus, though, so feel free to make more chicken than I did, and you could probably easily serve 4 or 5 with this recipe.

You will need:

for the hummus:

1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), 15 or 16 ounces
1/4 cup tahini (basically, a paste made out of sesame seeds)(this is a little harder to find — in my area you can’t get it at Wal-Mart, but you CAN find it at Kroger, either in the organic food aisle or the Asian food aisle, and our health food store has it, so if you have a Whole Foods, I bet they’ll have it)
1 lemon
1 heaping spoonful of minced garlic
cilantro, cumin, and salt
olive oil

for the chicken:
butter
1.5 boneless skinless chicken thighs (I just grabbed some out of the freezer and got a whole one and a half and decided it was enough for the two of us) (or 1 breast if you prefer)
1 heaping spoonful of minced garlic
lemon juice (i just used the lemon juice from the store rather than juicing another lemon)

for the burrito or wrap:
tortillas or flatbread — tonight i used some spinach tortillas that I found at Wal-Mart — fantastic!
1 tomato (actually, you really only need half a tomato or so)

First cut your chicken up into little cubes. Melt some butter in a skillet over medium heat, then add the garlic and cook for a couple of minutes, until you start to see the garlic brown a little. Toss in your chicken, and squirt fairly liberally with the lemon juice. Stir once in a while you’re attending to the rest of the recipe.

Pour the entire contents of your can of chickpeas into a small saucepan, juice and all. Bring to a boil and boil for about six minutes.

While your chicken is cooking and your chickpeas are boiling, juice your lemon (I had a medium lemon and it yielded just under 1/4 cup of lemon juice). If you have a juicer attached to a cup to catch the juice, like I do, add the lemon juice to your food processor last, to make sure that everything that is going to drip through has had a chance.

Measure your 1/4 cup tahini and place into your food processor or blender. Add cilantro and cumin. I didn’t measure those (I rarely measure herbs) but if you’re not used to using them, be careful. They are both pretty potent, and you don’t want to overdo it. Be especially careful with the cumin. Now add your juice of the lemon. Don’t blend yet.

Chop your tomato.

When your chickpeas are done, drain them in the colander. I’ve found that you don’t want to add all of them to the food processor at once, at least if you have a smallish one like I do. So add about 1/4 of the chickpeas, blend, stop, mix it up, maybe add some more, blend, stir. Here’s where the olive oil comes in.

Originally this recipe called for more tahini, but we didn’t like quite ALL that sesame flavor, so I cut back on the tahini and I substitute olive oil as needed to make the consistency come out right. So I would add some chickpeas, blend, stir, add some olive oil, some more chickpeas, and so forth. I know this sounds complicated and time-consuming, but it really isn’t. I was done with this part in a matter of minutes. I wasn’t measuring the olive oil, but I’m guessing I used 1/3 cup or so, when all was said and done.

Don’t worry about trying to get it completely smooth. You will end up with a few chickpeas still intact, or nearly intact, but it actually enhances the dish, in my opinion.

By now, your chicken is cooked, so drain that too. Now lay out one of your tortillas on a plate.  Basically, you make a burrito by smearing some hummus on the tortilla, topping with chicken and chopped tomato, then rolling it up.   Once you have your toppings in the tortilla, pick two opposite side to be the ends.  Fold them in, and roll the burrito.  You may have to re-tuck the ends to make it nice and tight.  You can either eat it whole, or cut in half like a wrap, as in the picture.

One more thing! The recipe that I adapted the hummus from called for 1/2 a lemon, not a whole lemon, and they weren’t expecting it to be served with garlic lemon chicken. So, if you’re not crazy about lemon, season your chicken some other way, and cut the lemon back to a half. Just know you might have to add more tahini or olive oil to make the consistency come out right. As it is, this recipe is NOT a subtle one. 😉 But it is SOOO tasty! Like I said, I didn’t think I liked hummus at all, and I polished off my dinner burrito. Oh, and this reheats pretty well, as I discovered when I decided to eat half of the burrito in the picture later. 😉 It was that good. I challenge you to try it!