Red Lentil & Black Bean Chili

Hello there– I try not to be too too bossy when I write to you, but today I do want to overstep and  strongly recommend that you try this recipe!  It looks a little plain, no chocolate or bacon involved…  But it’s a new favorite around here.  Hearty enough with all those black beans and lentils– and it’s the flavoring– smoked paprika and roasted red peppers… that make it so savory good.  Also avocados always help!

3 tab. olive oil
1 large yellow onion, chopped
4 carrots, chopped to small pieces
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tab. chili powder
1 tsp. smoked paprika
1 tab. cumin
3 bays leaves
6 cups vegetable both
2 cups lentils
14 oz. can petit cut tomatoes
14 oz. can tomato sauce
7 oz. can salsa verde (Herdez)
2  14 oz. cans black beans, rinsed
14 oz. can sweet corn, rinsed
12 oz. jar roasted red peppers, chopped*
1 tab. honey
salt  & freshly ground pepper to taste
garnishes (take your pick!):  avocado, sour cream, grated cheddar, cilantro, quest fresco, a squeeze of lime, tabasco sauce…

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot and throw in the onion bits and chopped carrot.  Cook until the onions are soft and then add the garlic.  Cook 1 minute more.  Add the chili power, smoked paprika and cumin. Cook two more minutes until they are fragrant.

Add the lay leaf, broth, cut tomatoes, tomato sauce, lentils and salsa verde to the pot.  Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to a rolling simmer for 15 to 20 minutes until the lentils are tender (but not mushy!).

Finally stir in the black beans, corn, chopped roasted red pepper.  Taste and see if you need to add some salt & pepper (I did add a little of both).  Simmer for 10 more minutes to heat it all through.  Serve piping hot with the garnishes you like…

*Roasted red peppers are the best price at Trader Joe’s and come in 12 oz. jars!!


Mexican Cobb Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing


Hi all– We are trying to get a little jump on summer here.  It’s been warm and my thoughts are already on summer break, lazing in bed mornings with a book, lunch dates with friends, weekend beach walks, dinner out under the maples in the backyard…  It’s all about slowing down, less rush.

And salads.  A bright salad for dinner, makes it seem like summer.  Fresh colorful veggies, salty bacon and cheese.  And tart cilantro lime dressing.  It isn’t June yet, but with this salad on the table, it feels like summer!


4 cups leafy greens
3 small tomatoes, cut in quarters
1 firm avocado, peeled and cut in chunks
1/2 cup fresh (or frozen) corn kernels
1 Persian cucumber, sliced thin
3 strips of bacon, fried & crumbled
1 cup canned black beans, rinsed
2 hard boiled eggs, cut in half
1/3  cup cortijo cheese*

1/4 cup olive oil
2 tab. lime juice (about 1 large lime)
2 tab. cilantro, chopped fine
1/2 tsp. sugar
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

This is easy.  Spread the lettuces out on a platter and spoon the other ingredients on top.  Done!

For the dressing, put the olive oil, lime juice, cilantro, sugar and salt & pepper into a container with a tight fitting lid.  Shake til it’s thoroughly blended and drizzle over the salad.

Great served with a chunk of cornbread– or if there’s no time to bake, a handful of crispy tortilla chips. Dinner for two.  Enjoy!

*I didn’t have cortijo cheese in the fridge, so used feta.


Chipotle Veggie Chili

IMG_2395Hey there– Looking for something warm and cozy and good for you, amid all the Holiday eating?  Set aside the fudge and roast beast (thank you Dr. Seuss) for this simple, filling Veggie Chili.  It makes a fine supper served up with a hot slab of cornbread.

2 tab. olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, stopped to smallish bits
1 chipotle pepper, seeds removed, minced
4 cloves garlic
1 tab. chili powder
2 tsp. cumin
2  14 oz. cans diced fire roasted tomatoes
14 oz. can petit cut tomatoes with garlic
14 oz. can black beans, drained & rinsed
1 can chili beans, include sauce
1 can yellow corn, drained
2 cups water
3/4 cup farro
1/2 tsp. salt & freshly ground pepper to tastE
garnish:  sour cream, cheddar green onions…

Heat the olive oil in a soup pot and then toss in the chopped onion and carrots.  Sauce for 3 or 4 minutes until the onions are tender.  Then add in the chipotle pepper, garlic, chili powder and cumin and stir it around for a minute.

Then add in the tomatoes, black beans, chili beans, corn, water and faro.  Simmer on low for 10 to 15 minutes more until the faro is tender.

Season with salt & pepper to taste.  And serve it up hot with sour cream or cheddar or green onions…


Chicken Enchilada Soup

IMG_2573Hello all–  This week our young mom’s group* got together after our summer hiatus.  I made a major pot of soup (did I really think we’d eat that much?!) and set the table, but I didn’t know it would be a celebration dinner– Esther and her Brian finally signed the adoptions papers this week for their little guy– it’s been 3 years of unbelievable ups and downs.  We all couldn’t have been more thrilled!!

So this simple chunky soup became a special occasion supper– I think it was yummy enough to measure up– along with a bright fruity green salad and some orange poppy seed cornbread.  So happy for Esther and her sweet family!

splash olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup yellow corn meal
3 cups chicken broth
14 0z. can green enchilada sauce**
14 oz. black beans
14 oz. can corn
14 oz. can fire roasted tomatoes
1 tsp. cumin
2 cups cooked chicken, chopped to nice little bites***
1 cup cheddar shredded
salt to taste
toppings:  avocado, cheddar, cilantro, red onion, chopped tomatoes, chips…

Heat the oil in the bottom of a soup pot.  Throw in the onions and cook for 4 or 5 minutes until they are completely wilted, then drop in the garlic and cook a minute more.

Stir in the cornmeal.  Then stir in the chicken broth until it’s all blended and bubbling.  then add in the enchiladas sauce, black beans, corn, tomatoes and cumin.

I’m averse to big chunks of tomato floating in my soup, so I smoothed it all out with a stick blender at this point– but you can totally skip that if you’re found of tomatoes.

Then stir in the chicken and finally the cheddar.  Bring it to a simmer and taste to see if you want to add salt– I added just a 1/4 tsp.

It’s ready!!  So easy.  You can serve it with any or all of the garnishes– and with a fruity salad and a slab of cornbread on the side it’s a happy meal.

*It’s a young moms group– but I’m an old mentor mom in this group.

**I love Herdrez brand enchilada sauce (and their green salsa)
***Used a rotisserie chicken from the market, plus several cans of all those ingredients– makes the recipe so fast and easy.


Lime Cilantro Rice Bowl

IMG_0012Hello there–  Do you do this?– sit at a restaurant and examine someone’s plate to determine how you can summon up the same thing at home?  Well, this colorful bowl is my best effort to put together the dinner Larry sat down to at Rubio’s last week.

And it has the added plus that we can set out all the elements separate and any picky eaters (did I mention we have those adorable grand-girls staying with us?) can choose just the ingredients that will make it delectable to them!   I learned this trick from the always interesting blog,  Dinner: A Love Story  —  She calls it deconstructing a meal, serving the elements of the meal separately so her daughters can choose their own combinations.  It works!

So here’s a fast, flavorful and flexible meal that should leave everyone happy…


Lime Cilantro Rice:
1 1/2 cups rice
3 cups water
1 tsp. salt
1 cup cilantro
1/2 cup chopped white onion
1 chipotle pepper, seeds removed and minced fine*
1 large lime, just the juice
1 tsp. olive oil

Cook the rice with the water and 1 tsp. salt according to the directions on the package.  While that’s cooking use a food processor or stick blender to pulverize the cilantro, onion, chipotle pepper, lime juice and 1 tsp. olive oil.  Then when the rice is cooked, thoroughly stir the cilantro mixture into the rice.  Done!  That was easy.

*I’m always careful to remove ALL the seeds, since I’m a wimp about hot peppers.  If you like less heat, just use half a pepper.  Be sure to mince it to a pulp…

Cooked chicken*
2 ears fresh corn
1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup red onion, chopped fine
1 tab. olive oil
salt & pepper
1 can black beans, drained & rinsed
1 large avocado, peeled, pitted & chopped
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

I just cooked bits of chicken breasts with heavy salt & pepper– but leftover cooked chicken or roasted chicken from the market would be A-OK.

Cook the two ears of corn in a pan of water in the microwave 7-8 minutes.  Then cut it off the cob and mix it up with the red pepper bits, red onion and olive oil.  Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste.

Just heat the black beans to serve and set out the tomato and avocado.


Green Chili Chicken and Rice

Hi you all–  Hmmmm… I guess this is a pretty mundane name for this new recipe.  Mexican chicken casserole crossed my mind.  But really, do you think anyone in Mexico ever made this dish?  I wanted to be more descriptive– something like “Cheesy, chicken and cilantro with black beans, corn and chills, rice casserole!”  But no.  Honestly, if you can think of a snappier name, let me know.  I’m working on it…

But it actually does taste pretty delicious– has lots of ingredients at the top of my yumm list–so honey and comfortable.   So here it is:

2 boneless chicken breasts*
1 1/2 cups brown rice
3/4 tsp. salt
1 can corn
1 can black beans
1 cup sour cream**
1 small can chopped green chilis
1 /2 cup salsa***
1 1/2 cups grated cheddar****
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped

Put the rice on to cook with 3 cups of water and the salt. Bring to a boil and then simmer on the lowest heat you can muster for 20-25 minutes until tender.  Meanwhile cook and cut up to bits the chicken.  Then throw together the chicken, rice, corn, beans, sour cream, chills, salsa, 1 cup cheese and most of the cilantro (reserve a bit to sprinkle on top when this comes out of the oven).  Top with the remaining 1/2 cup of cheddar and pop it in the oven at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.  When it comes out, sprinkle on a handful of the remaining cilantro and voila!

Now I have a too long list of ingredient footnotes:
*I just had a couple cups of leftover roasted chicken I took off the bone and cut up.  You could buy precooked chicken to make the process faster (and the original recipe called for “instant rice”–faster as well).
**We use nonfat sour cream and it works just fine.  I know. Real sour cream is just creamier, but we like nonfat for most everything.  But don’t give menon fat cheese, please.
***Your favorite salsa– I used La Victoria mild green salsa.
****I love colby jack cheese– nice orange cheddar for color, but with the jack it seems to melt so well.