Category Archives: Beans

getting my groove back

Chipotle Hummus

April is a strange month.  One day it is 80 degrees and you curse the fact that your high-rise apartment building still has the heat on full blast and it is almost impossible to sleep because it is hot and stuffy.  The next day, you are getting caught in a downpour while waiting for the bus, with only a rain coat and no umbrella so that by the time the bus finally makes it to your stop, you are wet down to the lining of your dress pants and maybe even your underwear (TMI perhaps, but it totally happened). Continue reading

fickle spring

"Dave's" Chili

A few days ago, I was having a difficult time coming up with some way to talk about this chili recipe. Chili doesn’t really seem like an appropriate top to discuss while experiencing the first 80+ degree weekend, when my apartment is stuffy and hot because the heat hasn’t been switched to A/C. But I finally dug out this recipe from my mom and have made it a few times over the winter, and just not talked about it. Still, I was wary to bring it up. Continue reading

Venetian Bean Soup a la Rancho Gordo

After receiving 3 bags of the famous Rancho Gordo beans from Dave for Valentine’s, I had to search out a recipe that was worthy of one of the bags. Continue reading

A Super Dip


I have one of my best friends to thank for this dip (Hey Ashley!!). During college when we were both living in the sorority house, we spent a Friday night in, chopping and stirring away, making a big bowl of this dip. Then sitting on her floor (she was President at the time so she got her own room), with tortilla chips or even a fork and eating away.


Since moving to Chicago, I have made this dip for every Superbowl party and it has not disappointed. The beans, avocado and corn is a nice change from all the other greasy, fried goodness on the table.


Last night my friends Brian and Julia had us over to watch the game and prepare WAY too much food that could be reasonably consumed by 4-6 people. I brought the Dip (recipe below) and made Bakerella’s famous Cake Balls by request (had to use yellow cake mix because red velvet was unavailable at two stores and I was too busy this weekend to make it from scratch). I also tried to class up queso by using Homesick Texan’s method. It was tasty but I wish I could have found “Longhorn Cheddar” because I think I used a little too much Monterrey Jack. It was reminiscent of PW’s Spicy Mac and Cheese, which of course is not a bad thing.

But the Dip is really something special. I wish I could have gotten this posted before the Super Bowl but it really is great for any party, picnic or potluck. It is sure to impress.

Ashley’s Famous Dip

1 can black beans-drained (rinse and drain well-you don’t want to turn the whole dip black)
2 cans of shoepeg white corn-drained (or yellow if that is all that you can find)
1 can Rotel (diced tomatoes and chiles) drained
1/4 to 1/2 purple onion-diced
1 bunch cilantro-chopped
3-4 Avocadoes-chopped
Juice of 2-3 limes
Fajita seasoning to taste
Kosher salt to taste.

Mix everything together. Don’t stir too hard so that the avocado stays somewhat in pieces.

Serve chilled with tortilla chips. Or even just a fork.

13 Beans

Over the past few months I have wanted to place an order with Rancho Gordo (and buy his book) for some interesting heirloom beans. I did appreciate the quality of the fresh black beans that I was able to purchase this summer at GreenCity, so I have been wondering if they are worth the premium (and the shipping cost). I think I will decide on a few varieties to try in the next few weeks. Anyone try them out or have an suggestions on which of the many tempting varieties I should try? For now, I was just tempted by a bag of 13 Bean Soup that I found at my trusty Treasure Island. Aren’t all the colors wonderful?


The beans do take a little planning because they need to be soaked over night but the result is wonderful. Warm, hearty, soothing. Perfect for a cold winter weekend. I didn’t get a good picture of the final product, but believe me, it is worth trying. Mine turned out a little thick, so I would not really call it soup, it was more like a thicker stew or veggie chili.

13 Bean Veggie Chili
Recipe adapted from the Bob’s Red Mill Bag

2 Cups of 13 Bean Soup Mix
1 Ham Hock
1 Medium onion; chopped
1 15 oz can of diced tomatoes (I used Hunt’s Fire Roasted diced w/Garlic)
1 Tablespoon Chili Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Cumin
1/4 Teaspoon Aleppo Chili Peppers (optional, I thew some in since I have them; crushed red pepper flakes would also work for some spice)
2-3 Cloves of garlic; minced

Wash and soak the 2 cups of beans overnight. In the morning, drain and rinse and bring 2 1/2 quarts (10 cups) of water to boil in a large dutch oven or pot. Add the beans and ham hock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 3 hours.

Add chopped onion, tomatoes, spices and garlic. Simmer for 30 mins. (Be careful towards the end because it will thicken and I did burn a little of the bottom of mine).

Serve in a bowl with a hunk of crusty bread. Would also be good over white rice.

Warm and hearty: Black Beans and Rice

A few weeks ago at Green City, I picked up a pound of super fresh black beans, bell peppers, garlic and a smoked ham hock.  Then I pulled out my trusty The New Best Recipe Book to find a good way to cook them up. This did take the better half of a Saturday afternoon but it smelled awesome the entire time. The pot made enough for 2 weekend meals, a few packed lunches and a big portion sitting in the freezer for a quick weekday meal.

Boil the beans and veggies in a big pot

Boil the beans and veggies in a big pot

Lots and lots of garlic

Lots and lots of garlic

Big ole ham hock

Big ole ham hock



Look at all the garlic

Look at all the garlic

Pick apart the ham

Pick apart the ham

Hunting for the 2nd bay leaf

Hunting for the 2nd bay leaf

Tasty meal

Tasty meal

Black Beans serve with white rice
From: The Best New Recipe Book, Page 232

12 cups water
1 pound (about 2 1/2 cups) dried black beans; picked over and rinsed
1 smocked ham hock (about 2/3 pound-mine was almost twice as big)
1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded and quartered
1 jalapeno (my addition)
1 medium onion, minced
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

2 tablespoons EVOO
1 medium onion, minced
1 small green pepper, cored, seeded and quartered
8 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons dried oregano (I used an mix from Spice House that contained oregano)
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 round cumin
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

For the beans: Bring all the beans ingredients to a boil over a medium-high heat in a large pot (this would be a great place to use a Dutch Oven but sadly I don’t have one…yet.) Skim the surface as the scum rises. Reduce the heat to low and simmer, partially covered for about 2 hours. Add more water if it is getting low and taste the beans to make sure they are getting tender but not splitting. Remove the ham hock. When cool enough to handle, remove the ham from the bone, discard the bone and skin, and cut the meat into bite-size pieces; set aside. Remove and discard the bay leaves.

For the sofrito: Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat; add the onion, bell pepper, garlic, oregano, and salt; saute until the vegs soften, 8 to 10 mins. Add the cumin; saute until fragrant, about 1 more min.

To finish: Scoop 1 cup of the beans and 2 cups of the cooking liquid into the pan with the sofrito; mash the beans with a potato masher until smooth. Simmer over medium heat until the liquid is reduced and thickened, about 6 mins. Return the sofrito mixture with the meat from the ham hock to the bean pot; simmer until the beans are creamy and the liquid thickens, 15-20mins. Stir in the cilantro and salt/pepper to taste. Serve hot over rice.