black beans

Best Beans

I spend all winter long dreaming about that stretch of weather between Mother's Day and Father's Day. I look forward to being outside as much as possible during those days, which leaves me with less time in the kitchen. Despite the iffy weather we've been having, I have faith that soon enough, we'll be able to spend more time outside. In preparation, I've been experimenting with batches of black beans using dried beans instead of canned beans and just like everything else that 's prepped in advance, having a big ol' container of delicious black beans on the ready in my fridge makes life easier and frees up time for outside adventures! Making beans from scratch initially felt like a luxury to me; I never figured that I had the time for such an undertaking but I've come to realize that the low-maintenance set-up of beans (hours of soaking followed by hours of simmering) is much less stressful and time consuming than I initially thought. And the result? More time with my clan plus a giant container of phenomenal beans for several days which actually means less time sweating the dinner meal planning. Score. 

My first go-to for how-to was TheKitchn. I read this fantastic post about cooking dried beans and have pretty much committed it to memory. Making a delicious pot of black beans is literally no more than beans + water + salt + time.  I have experimented with this formula by adding fresh garlic or fresh shallots or a bay leaf. My kids had the most compliments for the batch using fresh garlic (recipe below). Seriously, I am bowled over by how easy this has been. Armed with my pot of beans, I have a world of possibility at my fingertips. 

Though some people consider a pot of black beans to be just a cold weather comfort food, we eat them year round. The list is endless: Roasted black beansDIY black bean wraps, black bean tacos, black bean soup, feijoada, black bean dip, black beans and rice, black bean burgers, black beans without anything else in a bowl with a spoon. I am a big fan of canned beans, don't get me wrong. But I feel like a rockstar these days for making my own. 

Here's the recipe for amazing black beans, slightly adapted from TheKitchn: 

Ingredients 

1 pound dried black beans
Water
1 tablespoon salt, plus more to taste
2 small garlic cloves, cut into large chunks

Instructions

1. Cover the beans in water and soak them for at least two hours, preferably longer. I've had amazing results when I soak them overnight but have also produced delicious batches with just a couple of hours of soaking. 

2. Drain the soaked beans. There may not be much water left, as the beans have absorbed  them and grown. Rinse the beans with cool water. 

3. Place the beans in a sturdy pot or Dutch oven. Add the garlic. Cover with an inch of salted water.

4. Bring the beans to a boil. Give the beans a gentle stir and reduce heat to a simmer and cook with the lid on for at least an hour, potentially up to three hours. Stir occasionally and taste for doneness. If the beans are quite al dente and the water is mostly evaporated, add a bit more water. 

5. When beans are nearly done, add the salt, stir and taste. Adjust salt as needed. Continue to simmer until beans are tender. 

Best Black Beans with rice packed for lunch with Spring Citrus Salad, baby carrots, dried apricots and sunflower seed cookies.

Best Black Beans with rice packed for lunch with Spring Citrus Salad, baby carrots, dried apricots and sunflower seed cookies.

We feasted on black beans for days! It was a perfect companion to the April Citrus Salad. Let us know your favorite uses for black beans! 

 

 

 

Brownies with Avocado and Black Beans

I'm a fan of recipe experimentation. And as I've been saying lately, I'm also fan of all things avocado. So when I came across this recipe from Ambitious Kitchen for Black Bean Avocado Chocolate Chip Fudge Brownies it was something that fit right along with my "sure, I'll give it a whirl" philosophy. 

I let my babysitter know that I was making these and she giggled - admittedly they sounded weird. But when it came time to try them, they got a universal thumbs up! I'm always a fan of letting my kids know exactly what's in their food. In addition to being honest and promoting honesty, I want my kids to be excited by the myriad of possibilities inherent in the foods we eat. I don't believe in hiding vegetables or fooling children. Ever. 

So when I told them that these brownies were made with black beans and avocados they were truly amazed. And kind of delighted that something so delicious and fudgey came from ingredients that are usually associated with savory foods. This is what I call a win!  

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I modified the recipe slightly because I didn't have enough brown sugar in my pantry and I misread the recipe and added a whole avocado instead of a half. I made some other slight changes to the salt quantity and chocolate chip quantity. My modified recipe is below. I refrigerated these brownies and once cold and firmer, the texture was much better (too mushy at room temperature, undoubtedly my own fault thanks to the additional avocado!). Overall, this was a yum. I'll make these again. Thanks to Monique from Ambitious Kitchen! 

Ingredients

  • 1 – 15 oz can of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 large ripe avocado (I would advise against this. Try it with 1/2 avocado)
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup chocolate chips (I used dairy free chips) 

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8×8 inch baking pan with parchment paper.
  2. Place all ingredients except chocolate chips into a bowl and blend until smooth with stink blender or food processor. Add chocolate chips and mix well.
  3. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean
  4. Cool pan completely on wire rack then cut into 16 delicious squares.
  5. Refrigerate (or freeze!) and enjoy! 

 

 

 

DIY Black Bean Wraps for Meatless Monday

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So it's April. Yay! Today felt like Spring is actually going to arrive at some point... but I'm not holding my breath just yet. I'm still craving hearty fare despite today's sunny skies so to celebrate Meatless Monday, I made a big ol' pot of black beans and decided on DIY black bean wraps for tonight's dinner. 
I bought these lovely pale fleshed, purple skin yams and decided to roast them, along with some carrot sticks (375 drizzled with olive oil for 30 minutes). On the DIY plate, I included some firm tofu - my kids are not fans of tofu but I like to reintroduce foods every now and then to gauge whether tastes have changed. The avocados I've had lately have been absolutely outstanding! We eat avocado pretty much every night around here. And we have fruit with dinner every night too, so I sliced a mango to go inside of our wraps. My daughter loves cheese but my son does not. The shredded monterey jack cheese is for her. I found these wraps at my local grocery called Mountain Bread Oat Wraps. Man, are these good! They're thin and they roll nicely. 

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Here's what I did with the black beans:

1/2 large red onion, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves of chopped garlic
2 cans of black beans, drained
1/3 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon white vinegar

I sauteed the red onion with the olive oil in a sauce pan over medium heat. When the onions started to brown along the edges, I added the chopped garlic. After about 3 minutes, I added the black beans, cilantro, salt, cumin and white vinegar. I let this all simmer together for about an hour, stirring occasionally. 

Success! The kids were enthusiastic about making their own wraps! Happy Meatless Monday!

Easy Black Beans for a Rainy Hectic Day

I am having one of those days. I had a million things that needed to get done today and my babysitter called in sick. Ugh. And it's raining. After the work that I was supposed to get done today, I really wanted to spend some one on one time with my 6 year old daughter. Looks like I'lll be with all three kids today and with all the shuffling and whatnot that three kids demands, there's barely a moment to think about dinner. Must make something in advance that takes no time at all to serve later on.

Easy black beans

Easy black beans

Looks like we're having beans and rice for dinner. Yipee! I love beans and rice and I always forget how very easy it is to prepare. Plus on a crappy day, this can be just as comforting as soup but more manageable to eat for the little ones (I dont know about you, but my 2 year old is awful with soup and a spoon). As soon as I got the babysitter call this morning, I prepared these. My kids will be excited and I'm happy that despite the utter chaos of the day and total lack of time, they still get a healthful dinner that's loaded with colorful vegetables, protein and fiber. 

In addition to the rice that I made and set aside, here's how I prepared the beans:

  • 2 cans of black beans
  • 3 chopped carrots
  • 2 chopped stalks of celery
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 2 chopped poblano peppers (bell peppers work fine too)
  • 2 chopped cloves of garlic
  • 1 T  chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2 T white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro 
  • 1 T olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Cayenne to taste

In a large pot, saute the onions and garlic in olive oil on medium heat until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the peppers, carrots, celery, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper and continue to saute for another 3-5 minutes. Make sure vegetables are evenly coated with spices. Add the beans and simmer for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the white vinegar and taste for salt/pepper/cayenne preferences.  Add cilantro and stir to combine well. 

Serve plain or with rice. This recipe makes enough for my whole family plus leftovers for lunch tomorrow.