Sunday, October 12, 2014

Crunchy Black Bean Tacos With Avocado Cilantro-Lime Sauce

Recipe and photo courtesy of Kaitlin at
{For the sauce}
1/2 ripe avocado
3/4 cup cilantro, stems removed
Juice from 1 lime
1 clove garlic
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. agave/honey
1/8 tsp. salt
Make the avocado sauce: in a food processor or blender, add all sauce ingredients and blend. Add a touch of water to thin if necessary, and tweak seasonings as desired. Set aside, or refrigerate if making ahead of time.

Crunchy Black Bean Tacos

 Recipe and photo courtesy of

  • 2 Cans black beans, cooked
  • ½ cup red onion, minced
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 2 Tbsp. cilantro, chopped
  • 4-6 ounces pepper jack cheese, grated
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  • 8 corn tortillas
  1. 1) In a medium bowl, add beans along with red onion, cilantro, and spices. Add a pinch of salt and lightly mash all of the ingredients together. Grate your cheese and have it ready as well.
  2. 2) In a large, non-stick skillet or cast iron skillet, add a few tablespoons of oil and heat over medium-high heat.
  3. 3) Add one corn tortilla at a time and let each get hot in the oil for a few seconds. Then add about 1?4 cup of the bean filling to one half of the tortilla. Top with a sprinkle of grated cheese.
  4. 4) Using a spatula, carefully fold the tortilla over so it forms a shell. Press down lightly on the tortilla so it holds its shape.
  5. 5) As the first tortilla cooks, move it to the side and do a second one. Depending on the size of your pan, you should be able to get 2 or 3 tacos at once. If you have a griddle you can do even more at once.
  6. 6) Cook each taco for about 3 minutes per side until they are nicely browned and crispy.
  7. 7) When flipping the taco to cook on the other side, use a spatula and flip the taco toward the fold so the filling doesn’t fall out.
  8. 8) Serve tacos with toppings like hot sauce, salsa, avocados, and sour cream.
  9. Note: Corn tortillas are resilient to heat. Don’t worry about burning them. They are very flexible. Just be sure to cook them on each side long enough to get them really crispy.

My Results:
Sauce: The sauce overall was delicious!  It is NOT guacamole, it is a sauce. I used two ripe avocados, added a squeeze of Sriracha sauce for a little heat.  I left out the honey, this seemed out of place to me. 

Tacos: These were soooo good!  I did sautee the onion first, then added the black beans, and spices before spooning onto the tortillas.  Don't add to much filling, or it can ooze out and make a little mess on the griddle.

Family Rating

Fold them gently.
Dip them in the yummy sauce!

Pumpkin Pie Pancakes

Recipe and photo courtesy of Kelly Senyei at


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin purée (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 1/4 cups whole milk
1 egg
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Vegetable oil


Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger and sugar in a large bowl. Set it aside.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the pumpkin with the milk, egg and melted butter.
Make a well in the dry ingredients then pour in the wet, stirring to combine. Allow the batter to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Heat a large sauté pan over medium-low heat and add just enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan, allowing it to heat for 2 to 3 minutes. (See Kelly's Notes.)
In batches, scoop 3 to 4 tablespoons of batter into the pan to form pancakes. Cook the pancakes on one side until bubbles appear in the center, then flip them once and continue cooking until no longer doughy in the center. Serve the pancakes with your choice of toppings, including maple syrup, fresh fruit, nuts or whipped cream.
Kelly's Notes:
You can substitute 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice for the cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and ginger.
Make sure you are using pure pumpkin purée rather than pumpkin pie filling.
The true indication for when to flip a pancake is when tiny bubbles appear in the center. Flip it any sooner and you'll be left with a runny mess!
A fish spatula is my go-to gadget for flipping pancakes since it is small and flexible enough to easily maneuver in a pan.
There's no need to waste an entire pancake's worth of batter to determine if you oil is hot enough. Instead, simply add a tiny drop of batter to the pre-heated pan. It should sizzle immediately, otherwise your pan is not hot enough and the pancakes will become sponges soaking up any and all oil.

1. I followed the recipe exactly.  
2. These pancakes are very moist.  If you're thinking they will taste like other pumpkin baked goods, you will be disappointed.  There is pumpkin flavor, but it's not overwhelming, and they are not super sweet.  Use heated maple syrup to add sweetness, or top with powdered sugar, fruit, etc.
Family Rating

Make sure your griddle is hot!

Smelling delicious...

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Spinach and Ground Beef Stuffed Shells

Recipe and photos courtesy of Layla Atik
Visit her blog at:

Serves: 4
  • 6 ounces jumbo pasta shells (about 12-14 shells)
  • 2 cups loosely packed spinach
  • ½ lb ground beef
  • 1 cup marinara sauce
  • 1 cup shredded shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup shredded parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 2 teaspoons tomato paste
  • ½ cup diced onions
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoons basil
  • 1 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • salt+pepper to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a big pot boil 6 cups of water and cook shells al dente style (according to package), add salt and pepper to taste.
  2. While the shells are boiling Heat a large pan or skillet. Add the ground beef (no oil needed) and brown for 2-3 minutes. Add the chopped onions, garlic, basil, oregano, tomato paste and salt + pepper to taste. Simmer for 2 minutes then add the spinach and simmer for 2 more minutes.
  3. After the shells are cooked (be careful not to overcook because they will start to break apart) and the meat sauce is ready put the mixture in the shells like a tablespoon and half into each one line them up in across a 13x19 casserole dish. Pour the marinara sauce over the top, sprinkle with mozzarella cheese and Parmesan cheese and cook for 15 minutes at 400°F.
1. I switched out the ground beef for ground turkey, and I used a whole pound instead of half.
2. Next time I will chop the spinach up a bit, so pieces of it are mixed more evenly throughout.
3. I also decided to put about a cup of marinara sauce in the bottom of the casserole dish first, so the shells wouldn't stick.
Family Rating


Monday, October 6, 2014

Israeli Couscous and Tuna Salad

  Recipe courtesy of Ina Garten
Click here to visit 

2 cups Israeli couscous (10 to 12 ounces)
2 (7-ounce) cans or jars Italian tuna, drained and flaked
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (2 lemons)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup good olive oil
3 tablespoons capers, drained
1/2 cup pitted, oil-cured black olives, coarsely chopped (3 ounces)
1/2 cup jarred roasted red peppers, medium-diced (4 ounces)
2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 cup chopped scallions (6-8 scallions)
1/4 cup julienned fresh basil leaves, lightly packed
Juice of 1/2 lemon

Bring 4 cups of water to a boil in a medium-size saucepan. Add the couscous and reduce the heat to very low. Cover the pot and simmer for 12 to 15 minutes, until the couscous is just tender. (I pull the pot halfway off the heat.) Drain in a colander.

Meanwhile, combine the tuna, lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil, capers, olives, red peppers, garlic, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper in a large bowl. Pour the hot couscous into the mixture and stir well. Cover and set aside for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Just before serving, stir in the scallions, basil, juice of the 1/2 lemon, and 1 more teaspoon of salt. Taste for seasonings and serve warm or at room temperature. 

4:00 am, can't sleep, watching the Food Network channel.  I watched The Barefoot Contessa make this salad, and it made my mouth water.

1. I could not find couscous in my grocery store!  So I substituted Organic Tri-Color Quinoa from Trader Joe's.  Cooking time is similar to the couscous, and it resembles it too, small & round...
Quinoa was a great substitute.

2. I used regular old canned Albacore tuna.  The tuna Ina uses is $9.00 a jar! GULP! I also did not have fresh basil, so I used 1/2 teaspoon dried.
3. This was easy to make, and it tasted great.  So lemony, and salty, not too salty.  The capers, olives, peppers, tuna, were a great combo!

My finished salad!  I think it's very pretty, almost as much as Ina's!

Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Best Butternut Squash Soup