The black bean recipe that makes me love beans

I’ve never been the biggest fan of black beans, although my family members seem to enjoy them. A lot. But they’ve always been a little blah to me. I’ve tried my brothers trick of warming them in beer, I’ve tried throwing things in to season them up, I’ve tried eating them with tastier things, but the result is always the same. Blah. Until last night.

These beans may well be worth the price I paid for the cookbook. Thank you, Bon Appetit, for helping me discover something that I’ll soon memorize as part of my pantry “canon.”

Refried Black Beans
Best of use canned beans ever. I reduced the amount of jalapeno as the kids are a bit sensitive to heat, but you can kick it up or reduce it based on your own tastes. I had ground ancho in my spice shelf and you could probably substitute regular chili powder, but the smokiness of ancho makes it worth the $5 jar. The cookbook recipe is an improved version of this Bon Appetit version – and the ancho is the difference. 

2 T canola oil
1 T finely chopped jalapeno chili (I used 1/2 jalapeno, no seeds or pith)
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 cans of black bean, drained, liquid reserved (I needed about 1/4 cup)
1/2 t ground ancho pepper
1/2 t ground cumin
salt and pepper to taste
1 radish for garnish, if you’re feeling fancy OR you want to use up leftover produce in the fridge

In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the jalapeno and garlic; stir for 20 seconds. Pour in the beans, stir well, and season with the ancho pepper, cumin, and salt. Cook, stirring frequently, until the beans are warmed and the liquid begins to thicken, about 5 minutes. If it gets too thick, add some of the reserved bean liquid. Remove from heat and season with additional salt and pepper, if desired. Garnish or just eat it – it’s great!


Refried Black Beans. I have a feeling I may start buying beans by the case. 


3 years ago, this kid discovered beans. Matching goatees, black bean style. 

The Food Lovers Cleanse – Bon Appetit

After what felt like an epic fail with Canyon Ranch, I decided to do what I do best – buy cookbooks. Under the guise of shopping for a birthday party present, I used this opportunity to retool and refresh by going back to basics – Bon Appetit. I’m really excited to kick this one off. Why? I love food.


Moroccan Lamb Shanks with Pomegranate – yes please!

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Bringing the Spa Home: Canyon Ranch

It’s late winter, gray, and dreary outside. At least in Minnesota, we’re entering a tough time of year. Spring is most definitely NOT around the corner and anyone who can scrape together the resources, time, and organizational skill to head south to warmer terrain has either done so already or is currently in pre-vacation anticipation bliss. As for the Peterson clan, we’re here for the haul so I thought I’d transport myself to Canyon Ranch for the week. In recipe form, at least. Maybe a few pictures of the Arizona desert will improve my attitude.

This is another dusty book from my William-Sonoma days. My store hosted a cooking class featuring some Canyon Ranch recipes and I was given an apron (too small; I must have had spa-brain that day) as a parting gift. I felt obligated to buy the cookbook for a matching set. This book has gotten little to no use in the past 14 years but has been part of at least 5 moves. (That I can remember counting) We’ll see if it’s been worth the weight and effort for hauling this book around.

The Recipes
Chicken Cacciatore
Jet Fuel Salad Dressing
Fish with Mango Salsa (more of an “inspired by” recipe as I made significant changes)

The Good
There are some really beautiful pictures in the book. The first chapter has some great overall information on healthy tips, food suggestions, and overall strategies for healthful eating. Jet Fuel dressing isn’t terrible – a good fat free option as there is no oil in the dressing. It’s tastier after a few days in the fridge and keeps nicely in a mason jar.

The Bad
Chicken Cacciatore – should have been drunken chicken. The sauce was so boozy I worried that it would catch fire in the oven. Terrible. Don’t worry, I didn’t feed it to the kids. In fact, they didn’t like anything I served this week.

The Ugly
I read the cacciatore recipe three times to make sure I was interpreting it correctly – I knew it would be an epic failure. But I kept going and made extra vegetables for everyone. At least we’d get our greens in. That’s about the only thing we got in with this cookbook. With epic failures early on, I lost my motivation. I didn’t even follow through with my requirement for a minimum of 5 recipes to test – I was done. And bringing the spa home? Laughable. Spas are serene places that inspire exploration of self. My house is chaos that inspire a daily glass of wine.

Canyon Ranch Cooking: Bringing the Spa Home. Jeanne Jones
1 out of 5 stars
I have to be honest – I’m not going to use this cookbook again. It just wasn’t very good. Redeeming factors are beautiful photography and a very interesting collection of recipes. The problem – I didn’t want to eat any of them. I even had a distinct lack of motivation when I was working on my weekly plan. Not a good week. So it’s time for me to refresh. I went to Barnes and Noble and picked up a few new cookbooks – and will start with Bon Appetit’s The Food Lover’s Cleanse this week. With poor inspiration I’ve fallen off my healthful wagon, but feel at least partially inspired enough to hop back on. Let’s see how it goes.