Easy Black Bean Soup

I love cooler weather, partly because I love soup and stews and cooler weather makes it more ‘acceptable’ to cook soups and stews more often. I would, honestly, eat soups year round – but, they do taste better when there is a little nip in the air.

For black bean soup, you could certainly start with dried black beans – but, this is a recipe for a quick and easy black bean soup. That said, I used canned black beans (the picture shows 3 cans, but I actually used 4). Along with the black beans, I added in some carrots, onion, celery and a jalapeno. As far as seasonings, I kept it simple – just cumin and salt. I diced all the vegetables pretty small.

I actually used 4 cans of black beans

In a large pot, I warmed a bit of olive oil. To that, I added in the chopped vegetables and seasonings.

I allowed the vegetables to cook until the vegetables started to soften.

Finally, I added in the black beans and beef stock.

I also remembered that I had a jar of roasted red peppers in the refrigerator (it was about 3/4 full). I drained them and threw that in.

Since I chopped the vegetables pretty small, it doesn’t take long to cook this soup – but, it is good to let it simmer long enough for all the flavors to meld. I would say let it simmer for at least 30 minutes.

This soup is great on it’s own – but, you can add any variety of toppings if you like. I topped mine with a little bit of sour cream.

Also – this recipe is super easy to make vegetarian – just use vegetable stock, in place of the beef stock!

Easy Black Bean Soup

2 carrots, chopped small
1 stalk of celery, chopped small
1/2 onion, diced
1 jalapeno, seeded and diced small
1 tbsp minced garlic
4 cans black beans, undrained
6-8 oz roasted red peppers
1 carton (4 cups) beef stock (or vegetable stock, if you want it to be vegetarian)
1 tbsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1 tsp olive oil

  • Prep vegetables
  • In large pot, add olive oil and heat
  • Add in onion, garlic, celery, carrots and jalapeno
  • Add in seasonings and stir through
  • Add in the stock, black beans and roasted red peppers, bring to boil
  • Once boil is achieved, cover and reduce heat.
  • Let simmer for at least 30 minutes

Soup can be served with various toppings: sour cream, cheese, avocado or chips


Caramel Apple Pinwheels

I’ve mentioned the delicious seasonal spreadable cheeses from Alouette that I’ve found at Aldi. One of them, and perhaps my favorite, is the caramel apple flavor.

I decided to make a quick breakfast for my daughter this morning, using the spreadable cheese, apple and puff pastry – enter Caramel Apple Pinwheels.

No real recipe here – but, just take your thawed puff pastry and lay it out flat.

Spread some of the caramel apple spreadable cheese on top of the pastry.

I wanted to add some very thinly sliced apples to the pastry, so I used my mandolin to ensure that I got thin slices.

I added the apples on top of the caramel apple cheese spread and sprinkled with a little cinnamon.

Then rolled the pastry. This is why you want thinly sliced apples, so that it isn’t too difficult to roll up.

Then slice it into 9 rolls.

Bake in a 425 degree oven (my oven runs a little cooler, so you may want to do 400 degrees) for 23 minutes.

Once the pinwheels were done, I drizzled on some melted Trader Joe’s Cinnamon Bun Spread over top.


Pasta Carbonara for One

I’ve had pasta carbonara in restaurants many times, but had never tried my hand at making it until now. Since I was making it for one, I just tried to figure out the measurements – and I learned a few things in doing so.

Pasta Carbonara has very simple ingredients – pasta, egg, parmesan cheese and pancetta (or bacon – and that’s what I used, because that is all I had). I also added a little bit of salt (not much, as the bacon is salty) and pepper.

I started by chopping 2 pieces of thick cut bacon into small pieces.

Then fry the bacon in a pan.

First lesson learned: Don’t try to fry bacon, when you’re home alone with an adventurous puppy – I got my bacon a little more crisp than I intended to (and have no photographic evidence of frying it) – thanks to Ollie. This is Ollie (in lieu of a picture of the bacon frying).

After the bacon is done, remove it from the pan (keep the bacon grease!!). I quickly prepped the egg and cheese mixture at this point.

Second lesson learned: Despite the fact that I love parmesan cheese, don’t use as much as you think you want. I used a little under 2/3 cup of cheese – I think I needed probably about 1/2 of that to get a shinier, smoother sauce (and I could have added more parm when serving).

Third lesson learned: I think that this recipe might work better with freshly grated parmesan cheese. I only had the pre-grated (not powder, but pre-grated) kind.

When my pasta was done, I was sure to reserve a little bit of the water. Then I threw the pasta into the pan with the bacon grease and stirred through. I turned off the heat and added in the egg and parmesan mixture and continuously stirred it, to ensure that the egg didn’t scramble. I used a little of the pasta water to thin it out, as needed. Then I added the bacon back in, and mixed through.

I served the pasta with a little bit of fresh basil.

It was really good – however, I think that it will be even better – next time – when I give consideration to the lessons that I learned. The pasta carbonara that I’ve had, and loved, in the past was much smoother. I think that using less cheese would do the trick here.

Since this was so simple (and I plan to try it again to get it closer to what I’ve had before, I’m not going to write it up as a ‘recipe’, per se). I will try to do that when I’ve had a chance to come back to it! Hopefully, it will be during a time that I will be cooking for more than just me!

Mississippi Chicken

I remember when I first heard about Mississipi roast. I made one almost immediately and LOVED it. After eating the first roast, I thought – how good would this be with chicken??

We love chicken. Since I have done Mississippi Chicken (same recipe as Mississippi roast, but with chicken), I’ve found that others have done the same (I wasn’t so unique after all, it seems!).

I would like to link to the original Mississippi Roast recipe, but I found it so long ago that I have no clue where I found it. But, many people have posted about it online, so you’d have no problem finding it.

For the Mississippi chicken, I did the exact same thing as the roast recipe that is all over the internet (except I use 16 oz of pepperoncini peppers).

I used 1/2 of this jar of peppers, including the juice.

I just add the chicken, the mixes, butter and pepperoncini peppers (with the juice) to a crock pot. I cook it on high for 4 hours.

When done, I shred the chicken and removed the stems from the peppers.

You may want to remove some of the liquid (it can be reserved to be a dip – think french dip – if you like!), prior to shredding the meat.

Just shake it up to combine, when ready.

You can eat it with vegetables or on a sandwich like we do. I like to put mayonnaise on a bun (or hoagie roll!), add the chicken (and some of the peppers) and provolone cheese. It’s hard to beat – for tastiness and easy recipes!

Mississippi Chicken

4 large chicken breasts
1 stick of butter
1 packet Au Jus sauce mix
1 packet Ranch dressing mix
1 16 oz jar (I actually had 1/2 a large jar on hand) pepperoncini peppers, with juice

  • Add chicken breasts to crock pot
  • Sprinkle Au Jus and Ranch mixes on top of chicken
  • Top with butter and pepperoncini peppers
  • Cook on high for 4 hours (or low for 8 hours)
  • Once chicken is done, shred

Fried Apple Hand Pies

I made an apple and pumpkin spice strudel the other day and I had some apple mixture left over. So I decided to make some fried apple hand pies.

I started with some canned biscuits and the leftover apple mixture. I also used a little bit of oil to fry the pies.

I just rolled the biscuits out until they were large enough to put the mixture in and fold over. I did kind of an oval shape.

I then put a little bit of the apple mixture in the middle (don’t overfill it, or the edges won’t stay closed – I know this from experience – you can tell from the pictures). I, then, crimped the edges with a fork.

In a small amount of oil, I fried the pies in a skillet on the stove.

After letting the oil drain a little, I enjoyed my little (imperfect) hand pie!

Corn Chowder

I think that I’ve made it very clear that I love a soup, stew or chowder (well, I’ve never said, on the blog, I love a chowder – but, suffice it to say, I do – now you know!). When I decided to make corn chowder, I got to wondering what makes a chowder a chowder – why isn’t it a stew, for example. In my research, I found that a chowder uses a roux to thicken – perfect, I was planning on using a roux for this dish! I was making a chowder! Go me!

For my corn chowder, I used chicken stock and some bacon – but, you could easily make this a vegetarian dish by foregoing the bacon and using vegetable stock.

Since I wasn’t planning this to be a vegetarian dish I knew I was going to put bacon in it. So, I started by frying a few slices of bacon.

I prepped the potatoes, onion and carrots.

Then I made my roux. For the roux, I used 2 tbsp butt we er (and the bacon grease that was left over) and 3-4 tbsp flour. For a roux, it should be equal parts fat and flour, I just guesstimated on the amount of bacon fat that was left in the dutch oven. I then added in a bit of the chicken stock, brought up to a boil and whisked well, picking up any stuck on bacon pieces from the bottom of the pan.

I added in the remaining chicken broth and 3 cups of skim milk. I added in the vegetables and dry seasonings and brought the broth up to a boil.

I added in the heavy cream last and then stirred everything through. I added in 1/2 of the bacon, crumbled, to the dutch oven.

I reduced the heat, added in a bay leaf, covered and cooked the chowder for about 45 minutes.

Serve topped with crisp bacon.

Corn Chowder

1 large bag frozen corn (32 oz)
4 carrots, chopped
4 russet potatoes, diced
1 onion, diced
4 cups chicken broth
4 cups milk (I used 3 cups skim and 1 cup heavy cream)
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp Umami seasoning
2 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

2 tbsp butter
3-4 tbsp flour

  • Prep vegetables
  • Fry bacon and remove from dutch oven
  • Make roux, using remaining bacon fat, butter and flour
  • Once roux is done, add in chicken broth and then milk
  • Add in vegetables and seasonings, bring to a boil
  • Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 45 minutes
  • Serve with crisp bacon, if desired (I also added a few pieces of cooked, chopped bacon in prior to simmering)

** If you want to make this vegetarian, use vegetable stock and don’t add bacon

Pumpkin Spice Crescent Rolls

I would feel silly acting as though this is a recipe – it’s not difficult enough to be a recipe – so, let’s just call it ‘the sharing of an idea’, shall we?

As I mentioned before, in this post for my Apple and Pumpkin Spice Strudel, I found some Alouette Pumpkin Spice spreadable cheese at my local Aldi. I decided to use it with some refrigerated crescent rolls and a simple glaze.

All that I did was to unroll the pastries, add in the pumpkin spice spread, rolled up the rolls – and baked per the instructions on the can of crescent rolls.

While the rolls were baking, I made a simple powdered sugar glaze (no measurements – I just added heavy cream to a small amount of powdered sugar, until it was the correct consistency.

When the rolls came out of the oven, I immediately put the glaze over them, so it was melty (is that a word? it should be!) and delicious!

This was super simple, but very much enjoyed!