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Best Ever Black Bean Soup – Palm Beach Post

Best Ever Black Bean Soup – Palm Beach Post

It’s cold today.  Florida cold. . . . 62 degrees with 20 mph winds.  Yes, I know we’re a little wimpy, but that’s cold for us.  So when I read the Palm Beach Post online today, I thought I would share their recipe for the Best Black Bean Soup.  This is hearty, filling and nutritious!

Stay warm!  (with special warm vibes for those of you who endure real cold and winter weather!)


Yield: 10 servings

Total time: About 2 hours

For the soup and garnishes:

1 small (7-oz.) can chipotle chilies in adobo (see note)

2 Tbsp. olive oil

2 carrots, peeled and chopped

2 onions, peeled and chopped

4 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup red wine

2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and chopped

1 lb. dried black beans

2 quarts mild vegetable or chicken stock

1 Tbsp. oregano, preferably Mexican

2 bay leaves

1 Tbsp. kosher salt

1 tsp. ground black pepper

Red wine vinegar, to taste

Sour cream or Mexican crema for garnish (optional)

Whole cilantro leaves for garnish (optional)

For pickled onions:  1 small red onion, peeled and thinly sliced, freshly squeezed juice of 2 limes, salt.

1. Empty the can of chilies into a blender or food processor. Purée until smooth, scrape into a container and set aside. Put on a teakettle of water to boil and keep hot.

2. In a large, heavy pot, heat olive oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add carrots, onions and garlic and cook, stirring, until softened but not browned, 5 to 8 minutes.

3. Pour in wine and let simmer until pan is almost dry and vegetables are coated. Add jalapeños and cook, stirring, just until softened, 2 minutes. Push the vegetables out to the edges of the pot and dollop 2 teaspoons of chipotle purée in the center. Let fry for a minute and then stir together with the vegetables.

4. Add beans, stock, oregano and bay leaves. Stir, bring to a boil and let boil 10 to 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally and adding hot water as needed to keep the soup liquid and runny, not sludgy. Continue cooking until beans are just softened and fragrant, 1 to 2 hours. Add salt and pepper and keep cooking until beans are soft.

5. Meanwhile, make the pickled onions, if using: In a bowl, combine sliced onions, lime juice and a sprinkling of salt. Let soften at room temperature until crunchy and tart, about 30 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. Squeeze dry in paper towels and refrigerate until ready to serve. If desired, chop coarsely before serving.

6. Adjust the texture of the soup: The goal is to combine whole beans, soft chunks and a velvety broth. Some beans release enough starch while cooking to produce a thick broth without puréeing. If soup seems thin, use an immersion blender or blender to purée a small amount of the beans until smooth, then stir back in. Continue until desired texture is reached, keeping in mind that the soup will continue to thicken as it sits.

7. Heat the soup through, taste and adjust the seasonings with salt, pepper, drops of red wine vinegar and dabs of chipotle purée.

8. Serve in deep bowls, garnishing each serving with a dollop of sour cream, a scattering of pickled onions and a flurry of cilantro leaves if you like.

Note: If chipotle chiles are unavailable, use 1 tablespoon each ground cumin and ground coriander. Add to vegetables at the same point in the recipe, in Step 3.

Recipe and pic from The Palm Beach Post.


Creamy Caramel Fruit Dip

Creamy Caramel Fruit Dip

So we’re eating more fruit and less sugar . . . but we still need to have a bit of fun!  Add this dip to your fresh fruit plate!  This is one of my all-time favorite treats.  I love fruit, but I love fruit dipped in creamy caramel fruit dip even more!  A girl has to have a treat once in a while and this delicious recipe helps to combine both worlds – delicious healthy fresh fruit with a yummy slightly decadent caramel dip.

This is great with reduced-fat cream cheese and reduced-fat sour cream.  You can also use skim milk to cut calories.  I haven’t tried sugar-free pudding mix because I don’t care for the sugar-free mixes.  Let me know if you try it and like it!

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened,

3/4 cup packed brown sugar

1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1 cup cold milk

1 package (3.4 ounces) instant vanilla pudding mix

Assorted fresh fruit

In a mixing bowl, beat cream cheese and brown sugar until smooth.  Add the sour cream, vanilla, lemon juice, milk and pudding mix, beating well after each ingredient.  Cover and chill for at least 1 hour.  Serve as a dip for fruit.  Makes about 3 1/2 cups – keeps well in the refrigerator for several days.

Weekend Heaven! Island French Toast

Weekend Heaven! Island French Toast

Restaurant-Quality French Toast without a lot of time or fuss.  This French Toast sits in the refrigerator overnight and is ready to pop in the oven when you wake up the next morning.  Most of you know I’m not a big morning person, so when I can find a delicious breakfast recipe where the preparation doesn’t need me to get up at the crack of dawn. . . . . well, it’s a winner!  It’s elegant enough to serve at a brunch and easy enough to have anytime!   I’ve also used this recipe with that yummy but often wasted bread that some restaurants slip into our take-out orders (okay, don’t you love take-out some nights?)  I always slice the bread and let it dry out a bit so it can soak up the egg mixture a little easier.  I know you will love this French Toast!

4 eggs

2/3 cup orange juice

1/3 cup milk

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 loaf Italian bread, cut into 8 1-inch slices

1/3 cup butter, melted

2 tablespoons orange peel

1/2 cup pecan pieces

Confectioners’ sugar

Warm maple syrup

Beat eggs, orange juice, milk, sugar, nutmeg and vanilla together.  Put bread with edges touching in a single layer in a 13 x 9 inch baking dish.  Pour milk mixture over bread; cover and refrigerate overnight, turning once.

The next morning – the bread has soaked up all of the egg mixture and is ready to bake

The next morning:  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Pour melted butter on a jelly roll pan and spread evenly.  Sprinkle orange peel and pecans on butter.  Place bread on top and bake for 20-25 minutes.  Serve with confectioners’ sugar and warm syrup.

Four servings.

“Something Good” for Dinner. . . Garlic Butter Lime Shrimp

“Something Good” for Dinner. . . Garlic Butter Lime Shrimp

Need an easy and delicious dinner for tonight?   This is one of our favorite meals when we want “something good” but I don’t have a lot of time to spend in the kitchen. (Yes, sometimes when I ask the what-do-you-want-for-dinner question, the answer is “something good”!)  It is scrumptious and so incredibly easy to prepare.  Just make sure to use the larger shrimp (my favorite are the Key West Pink Shrimp) and you can’t go wrong.  If you really want to save some time, buy the frozen raw shrimp that are already shelled and deveined.

Here’s how you put it together:

Melt 1/4 cup unsalted butter in nonstick skillet – add 1 teaspoon minced garlic. Cook over medium heat until the garlic is heated through and sizzling.

Add one pound shrimp – raw, shelled, deveined.  Sprinkle with 1 teaspoon Seafood Magic seasoning by Chef Paul Prudhomme.

Cook on medium heat until the shrimp are done, turning once.   They will cook quickly.  How do you tell when they’re done?  The tell-tale sign of cooked shrimp is that it has turned from watery-looking and translucent to bright pink and white. They cook rather quickly – don’t overcook or the shrimp will be tough.

Squeeze the juice from a fresh lime over the shrimp.  Top with fresh grated Parmesan cheese, fresh parsley and a sprinkling of sweet paprika.  Serve over rice or pasta.

So delicious!  It’s definitely “something good”.

The Incredible One-Minute Cookie

The Incredible One-Minute Cookie

Craving a warm, gooey chocolate chip cookie but don’t want an entire batch of cookies tempting you?  Or maybe you want a cookie but don’t really feel like baking – OR, heaven forbid – you don’t LIKE to bake!!  (it’s tough for me to imagine that one, lol.)

This is the answer.  This is all you need to satisfy that craving.  In fact, if you eat it warm with a mini-scoop of vanilla ice cream, you may decide this is your new favorite recipe!!  I am a cookie lover and will  tell you the truth. . . . . . Of course a big batch of cookies baked in the oven is going to rate higher on my scale of 1 – 10. . . . . but making just one cookie is pretty cool and it’s a quick, delicious treat!

Here is all you need:
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter (if you use salted butter, leave out the salt listed below)

1 Tablespoon white sugar

1 Tablespoon brown sugar, firmly packed

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pinch of salt (delete if using salted butter)

1 egg yolk

3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 Tablespoons chocolate chips (I love the milk chocolate!)

Microwave butter in a small microwave-safe dish until melted – about 30 seconds.  With a spoon, mix in sugars, vanilla extract and salt until well-combined. Add egg yolk and mix well.  Mix in flour. Fold in chocolate chips.

Place cookie dough in the center of a small plate.  Microwave on high for 60 seconds. Serve warm, topped with vanilla ice cream.  YUM!

One minute in the microwave!


Rolled Sugar Cookies 3.0 – Valentine’s Day! ???

Rolled Sugar Cookies 3.0 – Valentine’s Day! ???

These will delight both your heart and your taste buds!  This is the only recipe – my all-time favorite recipe – that I will repeat.  As we get close to Valentine’s Day I have to share the results of one of my favorite  Cookie Decorating Parties (aka friends, wine, lots of laughs and fun!).  Aren’t these cookies adorable?  We had so much fun decorating them – and eating them.  We shipped many boxes to our then college children.  The girls thought the cookies were fabulous and almost hated to eat them!  My boys said “yah, they were good, thanks.”

Anyway, regardless of who is eating – or not – eating these melt-in-your-mouth cookies, this is a great recipe that yields delicious results!  Here is the original post:

I love, love, love frosted sugar cookies. Anyone who has been around me knows that I love to make them, I love to give them to friends & family and I love to eat them! My grandmother gave me a baking set when I was very young and got me started with cakes and cookies. The set included four tiered round cake pans – perhaps the most elegant thing I had ever seen – and several metal cookie cutters, which I still have. I have added to my collection over the years and have a very large box of cookie cutters for all occasions now. I have hosted cookie parties (think women, wine and lots of laughing!), sent care packages and made cookies for every occasion you can think of, including numbered jerseys for my son’s football team. You can see that I’m not an artist. In fact, I’m not even very creative. But I do find pictures to copy, friends to imitate and I have long-time favorites that I keep repeating. I’m not trying for the picture-perfect cookies that bakeries make (here comes the cookie snob in me) but these are absolutely homemade, from the heart and delicious!

I have used the recipe, from The Joy of Cooking Cookbook, for at least 32 years! I got this cookbook as a wedding gift. This is the best rolled sugar cookie recipe EVER:

3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
2/3 cup shortening
2 eggs
2 1/2 teaspoons double-acting baking powder
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt

Early in the day or the day before:

Measure all ingredients into a large bowl – use a mixer if you’d like but I just mix thoroughly with a spoon or spatula. Then I use my hands to finish mixing and shape dough into a ball. Put it in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 2 to 3 hours so it’s easy to handle.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. For best results, use freezer paper on your cookie sheets, but if you don’t have freezer paper, make sure you lightly grease the cookie sheets. (If you haven’t tried baking cookies on freezer paper you are missing out – I went through years of doing it the hard way before my friend Jennifer wised me up!)

Roll half or a third of the dough at a time, keeping the rest of the dough refrigerated. If you like your sugar cookies crisp, roll your dough very thin. I like my cookies a little softer so I roll about 1/4″ thick. Make sure to flour your rolling-pin AND your cookie cutters as you roll and cut. Roll your trimmings until all your dough has turned into cookies!

Place your cookies about 1/2″ apart on your cookie sheet and bake 8 minutes or until the edges are very lightly brown. I use a special little cookie turner to remove cookies to racks. Cool and decorate. I use a powdered sugar frosting that starts out with:

3 cups of powdered sugar
2 Tablespoons of softened butter
1 teaspoon of vanilla

Add milk until the frosting is the consistency desired. Add powdered sugar if it becomes too thin. I like the frosting a little thicker so it holds the decorating designs.

My sons used to help me decorate when they were younger and one day I will make these with my grandchildren. My friend Lisa tells me she makes these cookies with her daughters every Christmas. I hope you have traditions – food or otherwise that you love. If you need a new one, I’d be thrilled to have you make these cookies!

Isn’t life fun!

I have such creative friends!
Working on the next tray. . . .


This May Be The Best Quesadilla in the World. . . . .

This May Be The Best Quesadilla in the World. . . . .

Your family and friends will want you to make these again and again!  I ‘ve made what I thought were good quesadillas for years – just by layering fresh ingredients between tortillas.  They weren’t bad, but I had it all wrong!  This recipe blends the perfect flavors and seasonings in a meat and cheese filling that is easy to prepare.  It’s also the perfect consistency to “stick” to the tortilla and not fall apart.  This will be one of your “go to” recipes —  for an appetizer, a quick dinner or just a fun snack!

1 pound sirloin steak or chicken, thinly sliced
1/2 can (4 1/2 oz.) green chilies
3 teaspoons ground cumin
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup minced sweet onion
1/4 cup minced red pepper

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 teaspoon season-all salt

2 cups Monterrey Jack cheese
4 large flour tortillas
extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 c. fresh cilantro, chopped,  1/2 cup prepared guacamole
1 large tomato, chopped
1/2 c. sour cream,  salsa

In a large skillet, drizzle enough extra-virgin oil to coat bottom of skillet – about a teaspoon.  Add steak or chicken, chiles, cumin, garlic, onion, red pepper, chili powder and salt.  Mix thoroughly and cook over medium heat until fully cooked.  Add cheese – I cut into small pieces – and stir until melted.  Set aside.
Preheat another large skillet over medium-low heat. Drizzle olive oil and place 1 flour tortilla and fill with 1/2 of meat mixture. There will be enough for two large quesadillas. Place another tortilla on top. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes until light golden brown then flip and cook on other side. If the quesadilla is browning too quickly, turn down to low heat. Repeat steps for the remaining quesadilla.
Cut each quesadilla into 4 pieces and garnish with tomato, sour cream, salsa, guacamole and fresh cilantro.

Ready to top with second tortilla – chicken quesadilla made with chicken breast
Use a pizza cutter to cut into four pieces
Steak Quesadilla – my favorite!
Almond Pistachio Muffins

Almond Pistachio Muffins

I dream of these mini-muffins with a hot cup of coffee!

What a treat!

We fell in love with the Pistachio Muffins at a nearby market so I went on the search for a recipe.  I couldn’t find any recipes for pistachio muffins that were the muffins we loved, so I came up with this one.  I added a glaze and everyone loves them!

2/3 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
2 packages pistachio instant pudding mix
2 cups flour
1 cup buttermilk
1 teaspoon almond extract

1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons milk or cream (add more if too thick)
1/2 Tablespoon butter
1/8 teaspoon almond extract

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease muffin pan.  In small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, pudding mix and salt.  In electric mixer bowl, cream butter and sugar.  Add eggs and almond extract and beat until smooth.  Gradually add dry ingredients and buttermilk, alternating, starting and ending with dry mixture.  Blend well.  Divide batter evenly into muffin cups.  Top with chopped pistachio nuts.  Bake 25 minutes or until edges are brown and top pops back when you touch it.

While the muffins bake, combine glaze ingredients and stir until smooth.

Cool muffins in pan 5 minutes then top with glaze before removing to cooling racks.

Regular and mini-muffins baking in the oven
Caramel Bread Pudding

Caramel Bread Pudding

Okay.  NOW I’m ready to diet.  Ever had that “last” meal before you begin a diet?  I had a few leftovers to deal with before I was ready to begin the annual tradition of losing the weight I gained over Christmas.  (Anyone else do this?  I swear it’s still worth every bite!)   I know that I could have tossed them in the garbage but they were such GOOD leftovers!  I had caramel rolls, caramel sauce, and heavy whipping cream.  Sounds like a delicious bread pudding, right?            It was. . . . . !

Bread pudding is an under-rated treat and making it with caramel rolls instead of plain bread takes it to a new level.  I cut up the leftover caramel rolls and let them dry out for the day.  I could have left them out for a couple of days but who has the patience for that?  Of course you CAN make this with any kind of bread.  You can also add cinnamon and raisins.  If you do not use sweet rolls, you will need to add 1/2 cup sugar to the liquid mixture. No extra sugar is needed with the caramel rolls.

Cut up caramel rolls left out to dry

The rolls measured out to about 4 cups.  I placed them in a 7 x 11 Pyrex baking dish.  I poured this mixture over the rolls:

3 eggs

1 cup heavy whipping cream

1 cup milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/4 teaspoon salt

Mix thoroughly before pouring over rolls.  Let the combined mixture sit for 30 minutes while the rolls soak up the liquid.

Bake for 45 minutes in a 350 degree oven

Then bake for 45 minutes in a pre-heated 350 degree oven.  It is done when a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Drizzle with caramel sauce if desired.  Serve immediately if you like warm, delicious caramel bread pudding!

So good when it’s warm out of the oven!

There weren’t any leftovers this time.  Yum!




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