Tag Archives: black beans

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Chili

Texans might disagree, but not all chili needs to be slow cooked. And for that matter, it doesn’t even need to include meat in order to be filling and satisfying. Yes, that’s right and this chili, from Williams Sonoma is proof of that beans and potatoes can be just as satisfying, if not more so, than meat.

I have always been partial to both sweet potatoes and black beans. The potatoes are sweet and earthy yet mellow and hold up well in stews and soups. I’ve also been known to eat a baked one as a meal unto itself which makes them the perfect base for this chili. And the black beans are mellow and add protein and body to the chili. Be sure to adjust the amount of chili powder and cayenne pepper as needed since some are hotter than others. Whatever you do, don’t omit the avocado, it both tempers the  heat and adds a refreshing balance to the entire dish.


1/4 cup olive oil
3 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tablespoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 14.5 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 28 ounce can diced tomatoes
4 cups  vegetable stock
Avocado slices for garnish

  • In a Dutch oven set over medium heat, warm the olive oil.
  • Add the sweet potatoes and the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent and the sweet potatoes are slightly soft, about 5 to 7 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and cook for an additional 30 seconds.
  • Stir in the chili powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, salt and black pepper, then add the black beans, tomatoes and vegetable stock.
  • Bring to a simmer, then reduce the heat to medium-low.
  • Cover the pot and cook the chili, stirring occasionally, for 45 minutes.
  • Remove the lid and continue cooking until the beans are soft and the chili is thickened slightly, about 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Top with the avocado and serve immediately.

Serves 6

Chicken Tamale Pie


How do you make a pot of chili even more comforting? Top it with cornbread then bake it until bubbling! This recipe, from Food 52, does just that, turning a warm and spicy stew into a one dish casserole that is sure to please everyone. And unlike many chilies, it doesn’t require long hours of slow cooking. The entire dish is actually quite simple with chicken, beans and corn simmering along with spices in a tomato broth. I’ve used all black beans in my version but you can use different beans or even a combination of beans. Use whatever you like or have on hand. The cornmeal topping is essentially polenta and this simple topping makes the dish feel like a complete meal.

This is so good and so satisfying. And as I discovered, it tastes even better when reheated the next day for lunch. You might even want to double the recipe!


For the filling:

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed

1 clove garlic, minced

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon cumin

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained

1 can sweet corn, drained

1 4-ounce can green chilies

1 12-ounce can diced tomatoes

For the topping:3/4 cup yellow cornmeal1/2 teaspoon saltcups watertablespoon unsalted butter

  • Preheat the oven to 375.
  • In a large heavy skillet set over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil until it shimmers.
  • Add the cubed chicken, garlic, coriander, cumin, and 1/2 teaspoon chili powder. Cook until chicken is browned on all sides. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.
  • Add chopped onion to the pot and cook down until soft and fragrant.
  • Add beans, corn, chilies, and tomatoes.
  • Bring mix to a boil and allow to cook and thicken. After the mixture has thickened, stir in the chicken and cook until heated through.
  • Remove chili from heat.
  • In a small pot, heat water and salt over medium high heat to almost boiling.
  • Stir in the cornmeal and continue whisking while it incorporates the water and thickens, about 5 minutes.
  • When it is thick, add the butter and mix in to melt. Remove from heat.
  • Pour the chili into a deep casserole dish then spread the cornmeal mixture evenly over the top.
  • Bake for 30 minutes, or until the top is firm and slightly browned.
  •  Allow to cool briefly, and then scoop into bowls to serve.

 Serves 6

Spicy Black Beans



Sometimes the simplest dishes are the best. And when they are also fast and delicious, they are even better. Thus is the case with these tangy black beans. And while I love the flavor and texture of black beans when I have soaked, cooked and rehydrated them myself, sometimes using canned ones is a life saver. You know; when you have carefully planned out the protein and vegetable portion of your dinner yet need to add something else to the plate. Well on those nights I turn to my stash of canned black beans and make this dish. It is easy, tasty and the entire family digs right in.


1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 shallot, minced

1 14 ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Juice of 1 lime

  • Heat the olive oil in a medium sized skillet set over medium-high heat.
  • When the oil shimmers, add the garlic and shallot and saute until lightly golden and fragrant, about 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the drained black beans to the skillet then stir in the cumin, salt and pepper.
  • Cook until heated through, stirring occasionally but taking care not to crush the beans.
  • Off the heat, squeeze the lime juice over the beans and stir to combine.
  • Serve immediately.

Serves 4

Spicy Black Bean Soup


I love black beans. In Albania they were virtually impossible to come by and when I could find them they were always dried. I have nothing against dried beans, in fact I prefer them on most occasions. However, some times it is nice to have canned ones on hand since they are just so easy to use. Case in point this spicy black bean soup adapted from Epicurious. If you have the time and plan ahead, by all means soak and cook your own dried beans. If not, open a few cans and you can have this warm and comforting black bean soup on the table in no time. Serve it with double corn and thyme cornbread or thick slices of roasted red pepper bread and dinner is served.


2 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 cups chopped onion

1 4-ounce can diced green chilies

3 cloves garlic, chopped

2 jalapeno chilies, chopped with seeds

1 tablespoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon coriander

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 15-ounce cans black beans, undrained

2 cups low sodium chicken broth

8 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped

  • Heat the oil in a large soup pot set over medium-high heat.
  • Add the onion, green chilies, garlic, jalapeno, cumin, coriander and salt. Saute until the onions are tender, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the beans with their juices and the broth. Bring the soup to a boil.
  • Reduce the heat to medium-low; cover and simmer until the flavors are blended, about 15 minutes. At this point you can reduce the heat to low and allow to sit for up to 1 hour.
  • Using a stick blender, puree the soup until smooth. Alternatively, if you prefer more texture, you can puree up to 3 cups of the soup and allow the rest to remain chunky.
  • Adjust the seasoning in the soup if needed and serve topped with the chopped cilantro.

Serves 4

Chicken Tortilla Soup

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A lot of soups are quick to make; within a half hour or so you can have a steaming bowlful of soup goodness on the table. This is not one of those quick soups. Making this soup entails several steps– from baking the chicken to the two lengthy simmers of the broth, this soup takes both time and planning before it can be brought to the table. But trust me when I say that all of the effort is worth it. Yes, it is really that good.

The recipe comes from The Pioneer Woman but I have made a few minor changes including reducing the amount of servings that the soup makes to better fit the size of my family, their appetites, and yes, my small refrigerator. (Leftovers are great but there has to be room on those tiny European sized shelves to store them). I increased the amount of bell peppers from the original recipe since my usually vegetable adverse little boy loves peppers. And because we like things spicy in my house, I added an additional tablespoon of chili powder to the spice mix. So plan ahead and make this soup; serve it up with a side of corn bread and dinner is served.


2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

4 teaspoons chili powder

1 1/2 teaspoons cumin

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup red onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 yellow bell pepper, diced

1 can Rotel tomatoes and green chilies

4 cups low sodium chicken broth

2 cups hot water

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

3 tablespoons tomato paste

3 tablespoons cornmeal

2 corn tortillas, cut into uniform 2 to 3 inch strips

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  • Combine the chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, and salt in a small bowl.
  • Drizzle one tablespoon of the olive oil over the chicken breasts and sprinkle a small amount of the spice mix over both sides of the chicken. Reserve the remaining spice mix for later.
  • Place the chicken breasts on a foil lined baking sheet and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the chicken is done.
  • Allow the chicken to cool slightly then shred using two forks.
  • Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a pot over medium high heat.
  • Add onions, red and yellow peppers and minced garlic. Stir and begin cooking, then add the rest of the spice mix.
  • Stir to combine, then add shredded chicken and stir.
  • Pour in Rotel, chicken stock, tomato paste, water, and black beans. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for 45 minutes, uncovered.
  • Mix cornmeal with a small amount of water. Pour into the soup, then simmer for an additional 30 minutes.
  • Adjust the seasonings.
  • Turn off heat and allow to sit for 15 to 20 minutes before serving. Five minutes before serving, gently stir in tortilla strips.

Serves 6-8



Mexican Stuffed Shells

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Craving Italian? Or Mexican? How about both? These easy baked shells bring together the best of both cuisines; the spices of Mexican food stuffed into pasta shells that are reminiscent of baked Italian pastas. The recipe is adapted from Center Cut Cook is easy and guaranteed to fulfill your food cravings. So bake up a dish of these shells tonight. They are delicious as is but make even better leftovers the next day. Its like getting two meals for the price of one.


1 pound lean ground beef

3 tablespoons taco seasoning (I like Penzeys Bold Taco Seasoning)

20 jumbo shells, cooked according to package instructions

2 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend, divided

4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

1 cup black beans, rinsed and drained

2 1/2 cups salsa, divided

Crushed corn chips, for garnish

  • Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Evenly distribute 2 cups of the salsa into the bottom of a 9 x 12 inch casserole dish. Set aside.
  • Cook the shells in boiling water according to package instructions. Drain and allow to cool slightly.
  • Brown the ground beef in a large non-stick skillet set over medium-high heat. Stir occasionally to break up larger chunks of meat. When the meat is no longer pink, drain off any excess fat.
  • Add the taco seasoning and 2/3 cup of water to the meat. Stir well and cook over medium heat for 5 minutes or until the water has reduced and the sauce has thickened. Remove the pan from the heat.
  • Stir in the cream cheese, 1 cup of the shredded cheese and the black beans. Stir to combine.
  • Fill each shell with a heaping tablespoon of the meat and bean mixture and place in the prepared casserole dish. Continue in this manner until you have used all of the shells.
  • Drizzle the remaining salsa over the top of the shells then sprinkle with the remaining cheese.
  • Place in the oven and bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the shells are bubbling.
  • Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes.
  • Sprinkle the crushed corn chips over the top of the casserole and serve.

Serves 8


Black Bean, Corn & Quinoa Salad

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Are you looking for a side dish for your next potluck picnic or cookout? Coleslaw, pasta salads, and potato salads have been done before and chances are someone else will already be bringing one. So why don’t you bring something different? This black bean, corn and quinoa salad is sure to please everyone in your crowd and can easily be made in half of the time of the above mentioned side salads.

If you’ve never tried quinoa before it is a small chewy grain with a slightly nutty flavor. It can be served plain or as a base for sauces or herbs. It is also the perfect base for cold salads. In this recipe adapted from Williams Sonoma the quinoa is combined with corn, black beans, tomatoes and red pepper to form a flavorful and satisfying side dish. A lime juice and cilantro dressing keeps the salad light making this salad a welcome addition to any  picnic table.


1/2 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

3 tablespoons fresh minced cilantro

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 cup dried quinoa

1 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

2/3 cup corn

1 small red pepper, seeded and diced

  • To make the dressing, in a small bowl whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, vinegar, cilantro, crushed red pepper flakes, oregano, salt and pepper. Set aside.
  • In a saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the quinoa and 1 1/2 cups water. Stir in the salt. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low and simmer until the quinoa is tender and all the water has been absorbed, about 10 minutes.
  • Transfer the quinoa to a colander and rinse under cold running water. Drain thoroughly, then transfer to a large nonreactive bowl.
  • Add the black beans to the bowl with the quinoa. Fold in the cherry tomatoes, corn, and red pepper.
  • Pour in the dressing and stir to coat all the ingredients well.
  • Transfer the salad to a large serving bowl or individual plates and serve.

Serves 6.



Spicy Black Bean Soup

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It is Fast Friday again and time for another fast and fabulous dinner suggestion. If you are anything like me, by the time Friday rolls around the last thing you want to do to cook a big meal yet we all still have to eat.  The dishes featured in this series aren’t necessarily fancy but they bring together simple ingredients most people already have in their pantries or have easy access to and allow you to put a real meal on the table in between 30 and 45 minutes.  Enjoy and if you have your own fast recipes you want to share, please send them my way and I will in turn share them with all of my readers.

The recipe, adapted from the Splendid Table, is the ultimate in fast since it literally cooks in minutes.  I like my food with a bit of heat but if you think it will be too spicy for your taste you can use less Tabasco and cumin.  While the soup cooks you can make the avocado, cucumber, and orange salsa, which when paired with a dollop of sour cream tempers the heat of the soup.  Don’t skip this addition; this simple salsa takes the soup from good to unbelievable.


2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large red onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

3 cups vegetable broth

2 – 15 ounce cans black beans, rinsed

1 cup roasted red peppers, diced

1 – 15 ounce can corn

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons Tabasco sauce

1 avocado, cubed

Juice of 1 lime

1 orange, peeled and chopped

1/2 English cucumber, peeled and chopped

1/4 cup sour cream

  • Heat the oil in a large pot set over medium heat.
  • Add the onion and garlic and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the broth, beans, corn, red peppers, seasonings, and hot sauce and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce the heat to low and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.
  • While the soup is simmering, combine the avocado, lime juice, orange, and cucumber in a small bowl. Toss well.
  • Serve the soup in bowls topped with the avocado and orange mixture and top with a dollop of sour cream.

Serves 4

Beer & Jack Chili Mac n’ Cheese

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I don’t know about where you are, but here in Belgium we are yo-yoing on the cusp between winter and spring. Warmer days have me craving lighter and healthier food but on the cool and cloudy ones by body wants comfort food. And what is more comforting that chili? Or macaroni and cheese? How about combing the two and throwing in a cup or two of beer? Yes, you read that right. Beer infused chili macaroni and cheese. What’s not to love?

I adapted this recipe from the always fun Bakeaholica Mama food blog. (If you haven’t checked her out, do so. Her entire website is filled with delicious and inspiring recipes). The original recipe simply called for beer but since you can taste the beer in every bite, be sure to use one you love. In the Brown household Sam Adams Boston Lager is the beer of choice so that is what I used. Some people insist that their chili must have meat in it but this recipe is so hearty that you won’t even miss it. Meat lovers, beer lovers, and vegetarians alike are sure to fall for this recipe. So cook some up for a crowd today and be comforted on these last days of winter.


For the chili:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 small yellow pepper, diced
1 jalapeno sliced
3 cloves minced garlic
1 16 oz can of crushed tomatoes
1 cup beer (Sam Adams)
1 – 11 ounce can corn
1 – 15 oz can of black beans
1 tablespoon of chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

  • Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven set over medium-high heat.
  • When the oil shimmers, add the onions, yellow pepper, jalapeno, and garlic. Saute until the onions are soft and the mixture is fragrant.
  • Reduce the heat to medium and stir in the tomatoes, beer, corn, black beans, chili powder, cumin, salt, and balsamic vinegar.
  • Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and allow to cook until the flavors have melded and the chili has thickened, at least half an hour but longer if desired.

For the macaroni and cheese:
1 16 oz box of pasta
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 cup beer (Sam Adams Lager)
1 cup light cream
10 oz pepper jack cheese, shredded
4 oz mascarpone cheese
2 oz extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
Salt and pepper to taste

Minced cilantro and diced avocado, if desired

  • While the chili is cooking, cook the pasta according to package instructions. Drain, return to the pot, an set aside.
  • In a medium sauce pan melt the butter until it is foamy.
  • Whisk in the flour to form a thick paste then slowly add the beer and cream. Whisk well to ensure there are no lumps.
  • Bring to a low boil then remove from the heat.
  • Stir in the jack and cheddar cheeses and the mascarpone until completely incorporated.
  • Season with salt and pepper then pour over the reserved pasta. Stir well.
  • Pour the chili over the macaroni and cheese and mix until fully combined.
  • Serve topped with minced cilantro and diced avocado if desired.

Serves: 12

Hot Plate Cooking ****Crock Pot Fajita Chicken w/ Black Beans & Rice****

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Here is an easy recipe that celebrates the arrival of my coveted spice collection in our unaccompanied baggage shipment. Let me just say that cooking with just salt and pepper gets old fast. And knowing that  my well stocked Penzey’s spice cabinet would be arriving shortly I abhorred the idea of buying poor, yet expensive, substitutes in the grocery store. Needless to say,I jumped on the first chance I had to use my spices once they arrived.

Because this meal is prepared in a crock pot essentially cooks itself. Meaning I put all the ingredients together in the morning and left for the day only to return with a complete dinner ready and waiting. (I had leftover brown rice from the previous night’s dinner so I was good to go).


2 teaspoons chili powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon paprika

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon cumin powder

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

1 14.5 ounce can black beans

1 small can minced jalapeno peppers

1 lime, cut in wedges

8 flour tortillas

2 cups cooked brown rice, for serving

  • Combine the chili powder, salt, sugar, paprika, cayenne pepper, cumin, and garlic powder in a small bowl. Set aside.
  • Evenly spread the can of black beans into the bottom of a crock pot insert. Sprinkle with the jalapenos over the top of the beans.
  • Place the chicken over the top of the bean and jalapeno mixture then sprinkle the spice mixture over the top of the chicken.
  • Cover the crock pot and cook on high for 3-4 hours or on low for 7-8 hours.
  • When the chicken is cooked through, remove it from the crock pot and using two forks, shred the meat.
  • Place the rice, beans, and chicken inside of the flour tortillas.
  • Drizzle with lime juice if desired.

Serves 4

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