Cuban Inspired Black Beans with Barley

Work has definitely been keeping me busy. Topping off the end of a week where we launched two different products, there was a torrential downpour and hail on my walk home on Friday night. It seemed a fitting end to a hectic and somewhat stressful week!

Since cooking always helps me unwind, I decided to make this black bean dish. It is loosely inspired by Cuban Black Beans in Molly Katzen’s Heart of the Plate.

I started off by chopping onions, a carrot, garlic, and green onions, then sautéing them in olive oil.


Next, I added pineapple and red pepper to add some sweetness and extra crunch, along with cumin, turmeric, and Aji Amarillo chile powder (a recent discovery at the Savory Spice Shop).


Once the spices were heated through, I added black beans and lime juice and covered the mixture to simmer for a few minutes.


After simmering for a few minutes, the sauce had thickened, the flavors had all melded together, and the beans were ready to eat!


I decided to serve the beans on top of barley, although rice works just as well. Green onions add a nice crunch and fresh flavor.


Cuban Inspired Black Beans with Barley
2 small onions, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 carrot, finely diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 can (15oz) black beans, drained and well rinsed
1/2 cup fresh pineapple, chopped
5 green onions, chopped
1 1/2 cups barley, uncooked
1 Tbsp freshly-ground cumin
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground Aji Amarillo chiles or cayenne (optional)
1 tsp red pepper flakes, plus more to taste (optional)
1/4 cup lime juice

In a sauce pan, boil 5 cups of water. Salt well, and add the barley. Reduce the heat and cook the barley until tender but still slightly chewy, 20-25 minutes.

In a sauté pan, heat about 2 Tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrot, garlic, and the white parts of the green onion, and sauté until very soft and fragrant (about 10 minutes). Season lightly with salt.

Add the pineapple and red pepper and sauté for a few more minutes, then add the cumin, turmeric, chile powder, and red pepper flakes. You can omit the chile powder and red pepper flakes for a less-spicy dish. 

After the spices are heated through, add the black beans and lime juice, then stir to combine. Add a little bit of water if there is not enough liquid in the pan to make a light sauce. Cover, reduce heat to medium, then simmer for about 7 minutes until all the flavors are combined. Taste and add salt or pepper as needed.

Serve the beans over the barley. Top with chopped green onions and red pepper flakes for a little extra kick.


Stuffed Peppers


After neglecting my blog for a few weeks, I am back! Work has been quite busy, but although it has kept me from blogging, fortunately for Jon it has not kept me from cooking.

Last night, I decided to make peppers stuffed with couscous and veggies. I’ve made various versions of this dish over the years, including a stuffing with almonds and feta cheese.

I started off by sautéing diced onions and the white parts of green onions until they were caramelized and flavorful. To this mixture I added diced green pepper, carrots, and red pepper, and seasoned the mixture with lots of freshly ground pepper and oregano.

After the veggies were softened, I added 3 cups of veggie broth to the mixture, and let it come to a simmer. Israeli couscous went into the mixture, and was covered to simmer until it was cooked through.

Finally, I stuffed the pepper halves and baked them in the oven for 30 minutes, until the pepper halves were softened and the couscous filling was browned and crispy on top. The peppers were delicious served with freshly ground pepper and topped with chopped green onions.


Peppers Stuffed with Couscous and Veggies

    3 red peppers, 2 halved and deseeded, 1 finely diced
    1 green pepper, finely diced
    2 carrots, finely diced
    1 yellow onion, finely diced
    3 cloves garlic, minced
    1 bunch green onions, chopped
    3 cups veggie broth
    1.5 cups Israeli couscous (regular couscous can be used)
    2 tsp Greek oregano
    1/4 cup slivered almonds, optional

Preheat the oven to 400. In a wide sauté pan, sauté the onions and the white parts of the green onions in a small amount of olive oil until they are slightly caramelized.

Next, add the garlic, green pepper, diced red pepper, and carrots to the pan and sauté until softened. Season with the oregano, salt, and pepper, then add the veggie broth.

Bring the veggie broth to a simmer. Add the Israeli couscous, then cover and allow to simmer until the couscous is cooked through, about 8-10 minutes. If using regular couscous, turn off the heat and allow the mixture to sit for 5 minutes, or until the couscous has absorbed all the liquid.

If using almonds, gently stir into the couscous mixture. Spoon the couscous mixture into the pepper halves, and place the pepper halves into a nonstick baking pan.

Bake for about 30 minutes, until the pepper halves are softened and the couscous is crunchy. If desired, add feta crumbles to the top of the peppers for the last 10 minutes of baking.

Serve topped with diced green onions (green parts only), and lots of freshly ground pepper. Great as a full meal, or serve 1/2 pepper as a side dish.


Mom’s mac’n’cheese

We visited my parents for Thanksgiving, which of course meant that my mom did most of the cooking rather than me. It also meant I got some of my favorite homemade food from growing up.

Mom made her very yummy mac’n’cheese, which isn’t vegan but is so good! It came out of the oven crunchy on top and soft and cheesy in the middle, and which was delicious served with a side salad. Yeah….mom-cooked food!


Quesadillas with tomatillo salsa

At the farmers market last weekend, Jon and I had a great quesadilla from one of the stands. Even better, the stand was selling their tortillas. Of course, I couldn’t resist buying some and using them to make my own quesadillas this week.

I started off by making a tomatillo salsa. I chopped up lots of tomatillos (also from the farmers market), some fresh corn, and jalapeños. I mixed all this together with tabasco sauce, lime juice, and red chili flakes, then let it sit so all the flavors would mix together.

Next, I sautéed onions, peppers, jalapeños, and garlic with oregano, chili pepper flakes, salt and pepper. I also added in some veggie “chicken” chunks, then added a little vinegar to add some nice sharpness to the mix. After the veggies were soft and flavorful, I was ready to assemble the quesadillas.

I heated up my cast iron skillet, then placed a tortilla in it to heat up. Each tortilla was topped with a small amount of vegan cheese, fresh corn, and the veggie mixture. The outside of each tortilla got brown and crispy (no extra fat added!), the vegan cheese melted, and all the flavors combined together.

After all the quesadillas were finished, I served them topped with the tomatillo salsa. Even though they weren’t quite as good as our farmers market quesadilla, they were still delicious!


Stuffed Peppers with Green Beans

The other day at the store there were lots of amazing looking red peppers, so I decided to make roasted peppers stuffed with couscous. I started off by chopping up and sautéing some finely-chopped onion, green onion, and red pepper, which was flavored with thyme. This mixture also works really nicely with slivered almonds if you want a little crunch. Next I added veggie stock and poured the whole mixture over whole wheat couscous.

After sitting for a few minutes, the couscous was ready to go into the peppers. After slicing them lengthwise, I filled each pepper half full of couscous and then put them in the oven to roast.

While the peppers were roasting, I decided to make green beans. This is another recipe adapted from my mom and is Jon’s favorite way to have green beans. I started it off with onions and garlic. After the onions were super-soft, I added some very thin slices of red pepper (yes, we ate lots of them that night!) and then the green beans. To steam the green beans, I added some rice vinegar and water.

By now the peppers were done. Pre-vegan days, I would have topped them with feta cheese, but vegan mozzarella (or no cheese at all) tastes great too. Our red pepper themed dinner was delicious and colorful!


Black Bean Enchiladas

These enchiladas are so yummy and pretty easy to make. This is one of the dishes that always makes Jon sweat because I spice it up so much!

I start by sautéing onion and red pepper together, then adding lots of black beans. Once everything is cooked together, I add cumin (one of my favorite spices), cayenne pepper, salt and red pepper flakes. This is the filling for the enchiladas and also the base for the sauce. Half of the mixture goes into my Cuisinart, along with diced tomatoes and chipotle in adobo sauce and then gets blended all together.

Then, I’m ready to make the enchiladas. I use corn tortillas, and roll them up with a little of the onion/pepper/black bean mixture in each one. Each layer is topped with the chipotle sauce. Finally, the dish is ready for baking! You can top it with vegan cheese (as I did here), or it is really good with a sharp white cheddar grated thickly on top. After 40 minutes in the oven, it is bubbly and spicy! If you’re more talented than I am at serving, I’m sure you could get nicely rolled enchiladas out of the casserole dish…but I end up serving it like lasagna!20120514-070814.jpg

Breakfast Casserole

Breakfast Casserole

Breakfast Casserole with Potatoes, Onions, Mushrooms and Vegan Sausage

Jon is officially spoiled (ahem…”well taken care of”:-)). In addition to making dinner for him almost every night, he got a homemade breakfast this morning, a departure from his normal yogurt and granola.

Onions and Potatoes Sauteing

Onions and Potatoes Sauteing with Rosemary and Pepper

I decided to make a breakfast casserole bake, so started off sauteing onions and garlic (even breakfast starts with onion and garlic for me). I added in some diced potatoes, mushrooms, rosemary, Celtic sea salt, and fresh ground pepper. I had some leftover Mexican Chipotle vegan sausage in the freezer, so chopped it up and added it for a little spicy kick. After cooking everything together for a few minutes, it all went into one of my favorite casserole dishes to bake in the oven for 30 minutes.

Topped with a little bit of vegan cheese and served with freshly brewed coffee, it was a perfect way to start a Sunday morning!

Breakfast Casserole

Breakfast Casserole...a Great Start to a Sunday Morning!