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. 

Arctic White Bean and Chicken Chili

We’re driving back from Wisconsin after a family day and I started thinking about what to make for dinner. Option 1 – leave the kids with Jeff while I go to the store. Option 2 – create something with that was in the cupboard. Jeff suggested Option 3 – Chipotle. Since rice isn’t in the cards for me and the temperature outside (-12) made salad seem insufficient, I decided to roll the dice and create out of the cupboard. Thanks to Epicurious and a few substitutions, this turned out to be a great winter chili. I think I’ll make it again – this time by choice.

Arctic White Bean and Chicken Chili
When it’s bone-chilling cold outside, you need something warm to stick with you. This chili did it for me and came together in a fairly quick 35 minutes. I received a small jar of fennel pollen a few months ago and haven’t been sure how to use it – so I put it in as I didn’t have aniseed. It was a good decision. The chili is slightly warming but not spicy. Add a can of green chilis (I didn’t have any) if you want to up the heat. Adapted from this Epicurious recipe.

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Help Me Help You – Kids Clothing Extravaganza


Children appear to provide scale.

In the almost 6 years that we’ve had H, I haven’t given a single thing away. We weren’t sure if our family was going to have two kids or three, and since I’ve easily passed my “no kids after 40” rule, I decided it was time to clean out the basement. My strategy has been fairly simple – when the kids outgrow stuff, I throw it in a bin, put the lid on, and it goes downstairs. Jeff set up a brilliant rack storage system in our basement, so it was easy. Just put it on the shelf. Two years ago I noticed that the hallway between two racks was shorter than normal – the bins were stacked up at the end of it. Last year I noticed that you couldn’t really see the ceiling anymore – it was all blocked by bins. I have an “out of sight, out of mind” denial technique that is awe-inspiring. But this is the summer of letting go, so it was time to take on the bins.  Continue reading

July Stitch Fix

I’ve been with Stitch Fix for a year now – and I love it. I’ve never been much of a shopper, I hate searching racks, and I constantly fight buyers remorse. I can’t tell you how many times something looked great in the dressing room but once I got home, I wondered if I had been drinking when I bought it. That was BEFORE kids. Children add a completely different dimension to shopping. I adopted a power shopping model – I’d run out over my lunch hour or before I picked them up from daycare, grab stuff off the racks, try on fast, buy even faster – and then pray that I made good choices. The reality was that while I knew I could return things, it meant ANOTHER trip to the store – something I probably wouldn’t follow through with. And truth be told, my style sense has never been that great anyway. So Stitch Fix provided me a great solution. If you’re not familiar, it’s pretty simple – you log into the site, complete the style survey, provide basic sizes, set your price ranges, and schedule the fix. That simple. It’s like Netflix for clothes – only better, because in addition to the algorithm that knows what you like, a human stylist actually picks the 5 items that show up in the box. They send a card with styling options, add a little note about what they picked (that’s my favorite part!) and then you have 3 days to try the clothes on, match it with your closet, and decide what to keep and what to send back. Sending back is a breeze – a pre-addressed/stamped bag is in the box, so just seal and send.

Generally I spend my time reviewing cookbooks, but it’s fun to review my Stitch Fix box – shake my blog up a bit. I’ve had the same stylist for about 8 boxes and I have to say I look forward to it every month! So – what did this month bring me? I had asked for an easy summer bag, distressed boyfriend jeans, and some easy summer tops. What’s the verdict?
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July Bon Appetit – Cook the Cover

I don’t bake pie. My aunts (wonderful cooks themselves!) and my dad know how to make good pie. I enjoy eating a good pie, but I’ve never been able to master pie. It’s the crust that screws it up. I’ve tried several different methods – all butter, butter/crisco mix, food processor, by hand, with knives, with a pastry tool – to no avail. So when I looked at the cover of July’s Bon Appetit, I thought my time had come. A pastry with a fairly forgiving crust that I could use to kick off my “cook the cover” posts for 99cookbooks. Needless to say it would turn out to be a bit more challenging than I thought – primarily due to my parenting skills. (Or lack of, it turns out on this day.)

blueberry galette

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