Black Bean and Vegetable Stew

Judging by the empty shelves in the dried bean and legume aisle of our grocery store, beans are everyone’s go-to ingredient for cooking in a crisis. I’ve been using them a lot in soups and stews, because one-pot meals are easy, nutritious and comforting — just what we need right now. This black bean and vegetable stew is great ladled over some white or brown rice, but it would also be tasty with fresh tortillas, garlic bread, or just as a stand-alone dish.

If you don’t want to use dried beans, you can substitute 3 cans of black beans, drained and rinsed (reduce simmer time to about 20 minutes). To make a vegetarian version, omit the bacon, use olive oil to saute the vegetables, swap in vegetable broth and add 1 tsp smoked paprika.

Adapted from The Splendid Table’s Cuban Black Bean Stew.

Serves 6-8

Ingredients

3 slices thick cut bacon, cut into small pieces
1 large onion, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery ribs, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 jalapeño, chopped fine
6 cloves garlic, chopped fine
3 tbsp tomato paste
4 cups chicken broth
3 bay leaves
3 whole cloves
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp pepper
1 lb dried black beans
1 cup water
Juice from 2 limes
Salt
1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Soak the beans in about 4 cups of water. You can do this overnight or use the quick soak method: In a large bowl, pour 4 cups of water over the beans, cover and let sit for 1 hour. Drain and rinse.

In a large pot over medium high heat, cook the bacon until the fat has rendered and the bacon is starting to brown. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside. Reserve about 1 tbsp of grease and discard the rest.

Add the onion, carrots, celery, bell pepper and jalapeño and saute until the onions and celery are translucent. Add the garlic and cook about 1 minute more. Stir in the tomato paste, then deglaze with about 2 cups of the chicken broth.

Stir in the spices, beans, reserved bacon, remaining broth and water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 40 minutes.

Test beans for doneness. If they have not softened enough, give them more simmer time in 10-minute increments (add water as needed). Cooking time for dried beans varies widely by age and quality, but it typically shouldn’t take more than an hour or so.

Stir in lime juice, salt to taste and cilantro. Serve over rice.

Pictured: Descoware Flame Dutch Oven, Pyrex Spring Blossom 443 Cinderella Mixing Bowl, Corning Ware Grab-It Bowl

Orange Cardamom Blueberry Muffins

It’s Sunday morning and I’m baking on a rainy day. But this is no ordinary rainy day: It’s also day 3 of our new social distancing routine. For the next three weeks, our schools are closed, we’re working from home and we’re trying to limit our contact with other people and places. Doing our part to protect public health during this global coronavirus pandemic!

So, today baking serves two purposes: It’s a stress-relieving activity, and it’s restocking our supply of muffins (my daughter’s favorite breakfast) so we don’t have to go to the grocery store for a while. And the muffins are pretty delicious, too.

Adapted from Food and Wine‘s Blueberry-Sour Cream Muffins.

Makes one dozen muffins

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1 egg
3/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 cup plain yogurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
finely grated zest of 1 orange
1 heaping cup frozen blueberries, tossed with 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 tbsp coarse sugar (such as Sugar in the Raw)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a standard 12-cup muffin pan (or use paper liners).

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cardamom. In a large bowl, beat the egg, then beat in the sugar and melted butter until smooth and pale yellow in color. Add the yogurt, vanilla extract and orange zest, and beat until well combined. Stir in the dry ingredients a little at a time, then fold in the blueberries.

Use a spoon or ice cream scoop to portion the batter into muffin cups, filling them about three-quarters full. Sprinkle liberally with sugar.

Bake for 25 minutes, until the tops are golden and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool for a few minutes, then transfer the muffins from the pan to a cooling rack.

Pictured: Pyrex Town and Country 443 Cinderella Mixing Bowl, Corning Ware Snack-It Plate

Easy Chimichurri Sauce

Chimichurri has been my favorite thing to make all summer. It’s super easy, brings a ton of flavor to the table and always gets rave reviews. It’s also very forgiving: Measurements need not be exact; just taste and adjust accordingly.

It has a billion uses: Pour over steak, chicken, fish or grilled veggies. Toss with pasta or roasted potatoes. Make chimichurri bruschetta. Dress a panzanella salad. Use as a dip. Spread on a sandwich. Eat by the spoonful. It doesn’t last long in our house!

Adapted from Bon Appetit‘s Chimichurri Sauce.

Ingredients

1 small shallot, chopped fine
1 Fresno chile, seeded and chopped fine
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup red or white wine vinegar
juice of 1 lemon
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 bunch cilantro, chopped fine (leaves and tender stems; about 1 heaping cup)
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, chopped fine (leaves and tender stems; about 1 heaping cup)
1 cup olive oil

In a medium bowl, stir together the shallot, chile, garlic, vinegar, lemon juice and salt. Let it sit while you chop the cilantro and parsley.

Add the cilantro, parsley and olive oil, then whisk with a fork to combine. Add salt to taste. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour before serving.

Pictured: Pyrex Ivy 441 Cinderella Mixing Bowl

5 Instant Pot Recipes to Make Over and Over Again

I was late to the Instant Pot craze, and I never thought anything could replace my beloved slow cooker. But the magic and speed of pressure cooking has really won me over! I’ve tried a bunch of different recipes and experimented on my own a bit, and everything has generally come out pretty good. When it comes to recipes that I’d want to make again, though, only five have made the cut so far. Here they are, in no particular order.

Note: I use the 8-qt Instant Pot Duo Plus, but I think all of these recipes would work in the 6-qt size Instant Pot or other similar pressure cookers.

Instant Pot Perfect Brown Rice Pilaf
This is my new favorite way to cook brown rice. It comes out nutty and flavorful, with just the right texture, and goes well with just about any entree.

Easy Pressure Cooker Chicken and Chickpea Masala
This curry tastes complex but is truly no-fuss. I like to use boneless skinless chicken thighs, which changes the pressure cooking time to 8 minutes. I also prefer to stir in the spinach at the end, rather than pressure cooking it as the recipe directs.

Instant Pot Chicken Tortilla Soup
This rivals the brown rice pilaf as the recipe I’ve made the most. It’s super easy, infinitely customizable, and smoky-spicy-delicious.

Instant Pot Korean Ground Beef
One of the fun things about this recipe is that it employs the pot-in-pot method, where the rice cooks in a separate bowl at the same time as the beef. The beef is really yummy on its own, but also makes a great taco filling.

Easy Pressure Cooker Pork Chile Verde
Just wow! Besides being both easy and delicious, this recipe is fascinating because it does not call for any liquids up front. The onions, chiles, tomatillos and pork release enough moisture to attain pressure in the cooking process, and provide ample sauce. So much sauce, even, that I think I will try using 5 lbs of pork next time rather than the 4 in the recipe.

Pictured: Corning Ware Grab-It Bowl, Corning Ware Grab-a-Meal Bowl, Pyrex Salad Bowl 444 Cinderella Mixing Bowl, Pyrex Gold Wreath 043 Oval Casserole

Any Bean Hummus with Miso

One of my favorite things to do is cook with pantry staples — I love it when all the ingredients I need are already in my kitchen. So recently when I was in the mood for hummus, I decided to make my own. Since I didn’t have any chickpeas, I used black beans instead. Also I’ve been experimenting with making my own miso (and using it to add umami to lots of different dishes), so I threw that in too. The hummus turned out great, and I’m convinced the recipe would work well with just about any type of bean.

Admittedly, miso and tahini may not be staples for most people, but they are great to have on hand, if only to make more hummus!

Ingredients

1 can beans, drained and rinsed
3 tbsp tahini
2 cloves garlic
3 tbsp lemon juice (about one lemon)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp white miso
1/2 tsp cumin
salt

In a medium bowl, combine beans, tahini, garlic, lemon juice, 2 tbsp olive oil, miso and cumin. Use an immersion blender (or food processor) to puree until smooth. Add more oil or a little water if needed for desired consistency. Add salt to taste.

Pictured: Pyrex Butterfly Gold 443 Cinderella Mixing Bowl, Corning Ware Wheat W-43-B Petite Pan, Corning Ware Wheat W-1-B Casserole

Hominy Stew with Bacon and Poblano Peppers

The weather is warming up in Northern California, and I’m having a hard time letting go of stew season. Plus, I’m on a mission to test out recipes that might freeze well for ready-made summer camping meals. This one fits the bill, though I might try adding white beans next time for extra protein.

Side note: Ever since I made this Slow Cooker Pork Stew with Hominy, I’ve been wanting more hominy in my life! I don’t know how I overlooked the chewy goodness of nixtamalized corn kernels for so long. This hominy stew really lets them shine.

Adapted from Food & Wine‘s Hominy Stew with Bacon.

Serves 6

Ingredients

8 oz bacon
2 medium onions, chopped
3 poblano peppers, seeded and chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped fine
5 garlic cloves, minced
2 15-oz cans white or yellow hominy, drained and rinsed
1 14 1/2-oz can diced tomatoes (undrained)
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
zest (about 1 tsp) and juice (about 2 tbsp) of 1 lime
1 tbsp masa harina (optional)
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
salt
pepper

Use kitchen shears to snip bacon into 1/2-inch pieces, then place in a large pot or Dutch oven. Cook over medium heat until browned and crisp, about 10 minutes. Transfer bacon to a plate lined with a paper towel and set aside.

Remove all but 1-2 tbsp of the bacon grease from the pot, then add the onions, poblanos and jalapeños. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper, then saute over medium heat until softened, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute more.

Add the hominy, tomatoes, chicken broth and lime juice and stir. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.

Uncover and continue to simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in masa and simmer 5 minutes more. Add lime zest and cilantro, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve topped with bacon.

Pictured: Descoware Flame Dutch Oven, Pyrex 024 Lime Round Casserole

St. Patrick’s Day Dinner 2019

Corned beef and cabbage is a must for any St. Patrick’s Day feast. And if haven’t cured your own corned beef, you’ve gotta try it! It really is pretty easy if you plan ahead — like brining a turkey, but for 5-7 days. The one special ingredient you need is curing salt (sodium nitrite), also known as prague powder or pink salt (not the same as Himalayan pink salt). It’s easiest to purchase online — I bought this one a couple years ago and it will probably last me forever.

Typically corned beef is made from brisket — but any tough cut will do (must be suited for long, slow cooking, like a pot roast). So this time I’m trying it with a chuck roast. That has led to a slight hiccup in my menu planning: Because the roast is thicker than a brisket, there’s no room for cabbage in my slow cooker! Consequently I’ve added a mustardy coleslaw to the lineup, which I think complements the corned beef pretty well.

This year’s St. Patrick’s Day menu:

  • Home-Cured Corned Beef (roughly based on this curing recipe and this cooking recipe)
  • Mashed Potato Casserole with Cheddar and Green Onions (recipe)
  • Braised Collard Greens (recipe: Braised Winter Greens from Cook’s Illustrated‘s More Best Recipes)
  • Mustardy Cabbage and Apple Slaw (recipe)

Pictured: Corning Ware Green Macrame P-332 Roaster, Corning Ware April DC-1 1/2-B Designer Casserole, Pyrex Spring Blossom 043 Oval Casserole, Pyrex Verde 444 Cinderella Mixing Bowl