Black Bean Taco Bake

Remember yesterday when I said I would be posting a lot of the recipes I mentioned? Yeah. This isn’t one of those.

Monday night I really wanted something cheesy with black beans (imagine that), so I made up this black bean taco bake. It really hit the spot and was pretty delicious, if I do say so myself, so I decided to share. I’m going to get to the recipe, but before you get started you should make sure that you have some taco seasoning on hand or, if you don’t, make your own. Personally, I don’t buy taco seasoning since I found Alton Brown’s Taco Seasoning Recipe. It’s a great mix, but I’ve been making my own recipe using his as a base for a few months now. Here’s my recipe:

Martha’s Taco Seasoning Mix


2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons arrowroot powder (you can use cornstarch, but I never seem to have any)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon black pepper


Put all the ingredients into a jar ow bowl with a lid and shake it all up.
Et viola! Taco seasoning.

Now that you definitely have taco seasoning, here’s the recipe for the taco bake:

Black Bean Taco Bake


1 can black beans
2 bell peppers (I had one green and one red)
1/2 large red onion (or 1 small red onion)
1 clove garlic
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons salsa (whatever kind you want)
3-4 tablespoons taco seasoning
1/2 cup water
tortilla shells
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese (or however much you want)


Avocado or guacamole
green onions
tomato (fresh)


  1. Preheat oven to 350°
  2. Put large skillet with olive oil on medium heat
  3. Dice the peppers, onion, and garlic
  4. Add peppers, onion, and garlic
  5. While the peppers, onion, and garlic are sauteing, prep your accoutrements (i.e. chop the green onions and tomato)
  6. After the peppers and onions have a bit of color on them, add the black beans and salsa and cook for a minute or two
  7. Add the taco seasoning (I did 4 tablespoons, but 3 might be good for you)
  8. Give the mix a good stir and let it cook for about 1 minute
  9. Add the water and deglaze the pan a bit (get the caramelized bits of peppers and seasoning from the bottom)
  10. Cook for about 5 minutes or until the water is mostly gone (you want a wet but not soupy consistency)
  11. While that’s cooking, get out a 9X13 baking dish (no need to oil it)
  12. Add the peppers, onions, garlic, taco seasoning mix to the baking dish and top with cheese.
  13. Pop into the oven for 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is bubbling.
  14. If you like your tortilla shells warm, use this 10-15 minutes to do that
  15. Remove baking dish, use the cheesy mixture as filling for your taco shells, and dress using whatever accoutrements you like

I should mention that you can add whatever you want into the peppers, onion, garlic base. I really wanted some corn in there, but didn’t have any on hand. I served these with a guacamole/salsa dip (just gauc and salsa mixed together) and fried up some ham with taco seasoning for S.’s tacos (sounds weird, but he said it was pretty good). If you have any other suggestions, let me know!



Perfect Late-Summer Brunch

I don’t know about you, but I love a good brunch. Breakfast food is pretty much my favorite food, so any meal that allows me to eat breakfast or a breakfast-ish meal is my favorite. Last week, when we were in the midst of a glorious three day weekend, seemed like a great time to make some brunch. So, of course, I turned to my pinterest boards for inspiration. (Do you follow me on pinterest? You should.)

After much pinteresting, and because I had an abundance of green beans ( not my favorite) and basil ( my favorite), I decided to make green beans with pesto topped with a poached egg. Now, I didn’t exactly follow the recipe. It sounds lovely and I’m actually going to try it later today, but I didn’t have the necessary ingredients (like parsley). Here’s my version:

Green Beans with Pesto & Poached Egg


Green Beans (duh): about 1/2 pound

Basil: about a cup

Olive Oil

Pine Nuts: about a 1/4 cup

Parmesan: to taste (about a 1/3 cup for me)

1 clove garlic

Balsamic vinegar

Salt and Pepper to taste

2 eggs


1. Trim the green beans (and string them if necessary)

2. Put about a half inch of water (with salt!) and about a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar into a large skillet and bring to a boil.

3. Bring large pot of water (with salt!) and about a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar to a boil.

4. For the pesto: Add basil, pamesan, garlic, and pine nuts to food processor. Pulse a couple of times until a little paste-y. Add olive oil until the pesto starts to pull away from the sides. Note: I didn’t have any lemons, but a bit of lemon juice would be fabulous.

5. Add the green beans to the boil water in the large skillet. Cook for about 5 minutes (you want them to be crisp-tender), pull out, and shock with some cold water. (Shocking is usually done my dunking them in ice water; I was lazy so I just used really cold water).

6. Poach the eggs. (There’s lots of advice for poaching eggs. Here’s mine: Wait until the water has just started boiling (not a rolling boil), crack the eggs into a ramekin or small bowl, hold the ramekin just above the water and slowly drop the egg in.)

7. While the eggs are poaching (that should take 2-3 minutes), mix the green beans and pesto and plate that.

8. Put the eggs on top of the green bean/pesto mixture. Sprinkle a bit of parm on top.

9. Enjoy!

I should also mention that I served this with a bit of crusty garlic bread and a ham steak (for S.) and it was delicious. In fact, our only complaint was that we didn’t have enough for seconds!

UPDATE: Thanks to Tammy for reminding me that I took a picture of this meal! Pregnancy brain is real, folks. And sometimes it makes you forget that you meant to include the crappy iphone picture you took of a delicious meal in your blog post.

Homemade tomato sauce

If you’ve been following me on twitter today, you know that I’m officially on vacation!! Of course, this is roughly the most exciting thing that has ever happened to me.* But, like all things, there is a downside. This week my CSA share, which is normally shared with R., is all mine. And it’s full of tomatoes and corn and peppers and tons of other things that we can’t possibly eat all of before  our trip.

*Note to the future offspring: that was hyperbole.

So, to use up a large chunk of the tomatoes, which, incidentally have been fabulous this year, I made fresh tomato sauce. I used a recipe that was included with the CSA this week. It’s really simple: Tomatoes, Olive Oil, Salt, Pepper, and Basil.  I added some balsamic vinegar and food processed it all until smooth.  After the sauce is complete, just add to some hot pasta and top with some Parmesan.

Lunch today. I also added a tofurkey Italian sausage.

This is basically a perfect summer meal, light, fast, and full of the taste of summer. Fabulous!

Let’s jam.

I made jam for the first time ever a few weeks ago. It was freezer jam, but it still counts.

I bought a ridiculous amount of strawberries, broke open my trusty Better Homes & Garden’s Cook Book, and got to work. About 10 minutes later, I was filling jars and about 24 hours after that I had jam! It was so easy that I can’t believe I never did it before!

Here’s the recipe:

4 cups berries                      4 cups sugar
1/2 tsp lemon peel                1  1 3/4 oz package powered fruit pectin
3/4 cup water

(1) Use a potato masher to crush berries until there are 2 cups.
(2) Mix berries, sugar, and lemon peel. Let stand for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
(3) Combine pectin and water in small saucepan. Bring to boil for 1 minute stirring constantly.

(4) Remove pectin from heat. Add to berry mixture.

(5)  Stir for 3 minutes or until sugar is dissolved and mixture is no longer grainy.

(6) Ladle into half-pint jars. Leave about 1/2 inch heads pace. Let stand for 24 hours to gel.

et voila! 

Did I mention it was also fantastic? ‘Cause it was.

Strawberry Shortcake

I love strawberries more than you can possibly understand. They are, without a doubt, my favorite food. Ever. I buy them year round, but nothing, and I mean nothing, beats a fresh picked locally grown strawberry. Ideally, these fresh picked berries would come from my own strawberry patch, but since I don’t have room for a strawberry patch, they come from my CSA or the farmers market. The ones for this particular recipe came from the CSA. 

This was the first batch of strawberries we got this summer and I decided to celebrate that by making my own version of strawberry shortcake. Please be advised, this is not an actual strawberry shortcake. I just call it that. What this actually is is angel-food cake, whipped cream, and strawberries. The best part of this is that it’s all homemade! 

That’s right, I made the angel-food cake. And, it was the best angel-food cake I’ve ever had. I imagined this would be really hard to make. It wasn’t, it was super easy.My only tips before the recipe are (1) get an angel food cake pan (2) this is not a time for the stand mixer and (3) get egg beater egg whites.

 Here’s the recipe (it’s from

1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 cup cake flour
1 1/2 cups egg whites (12)
1 1/2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 teaspoon salt

Move oven rack to lowest position. Heat oven to 375ºF.

Mix powdered sugar and flour; set aside. Beat egg whites and cream of tartar in large bowl with electric mixer on medium speed until foamy. Beat in granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons at a time, on high speed, adding vanilla, almond extract and salt with the last addition of sugar. Continue beating until stiff and glossy meringue forms. Do not underbeat.

Sprinkle sugar-flour mixture, 1/4 cup at a time, over meringue, folding in just until sugar-flour mixture disappears. Push batter into ungreased angel food cake pan (tube pan), 10×4 inches. Cut gently through batter with metal spatula.

Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until cracks feel dry and top springs back when touched lightly. Immediately turn pan upside down onto heatproof funnel or bottle. Let hang about 2 hours or until cake is completely cool. Loosen side of cake with knife or long, metal spatula; remove from pan.

I also made the whipped cream. It was my first time ever doing it. I may never eat cool whip again. It was truly amazing. Here’s the recipe (again from

1 cup whipping cream
2 tablespoons granulated or powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
In chilled medium bowl, beat sweetened whipped cream ingredients on high speed until soft peaks form. 

For the berries, I didn’t make a syrup or anything. I just hulled and sliced them, then I put some sugar (maybe about half a cup-ish) on them. I covered them and let them hang out while the angel food cake was baking. End result was sweet slightly syrupy fresh strawberries. 


Picture Explanations

I know it’s been a while since my last post. Sorry guys, real life intervened. I went to the smallest town IN THE WORLD and started a new job. But more about that later. For now, I’ll explain the pics in the last post.

Me and S at my cousin’s wedding. This was wedding weekend 1 of 2 in the last 3 weeks. 
The first vegetarian dinner S has ever made. This is a HUGE step. 
S and I visiting my new favorite tea spot, Cuppa. 
S and I at Stella’s Kentucky Deli. Delish!
The beginnings of strawberry shortcake.
Strawberries. I love them. 
R, S, J, and me playing the most ridiculous game of bocce ever played. 
My first French Onion Soup. 
Strawberry freezer jam. 
I’ll have more details about most of these later. This is basically what I’ve been doing this summer… Have a great week!


I just saw this article at (the Lexington-Herald Leader’s website). It’s about a new internet based tv station that’s dedicated to profiling Kentucky businesses that are green. It also does segments about how to green your life. The site is

Before I go any farther, I should say that I really dislike the term “green” to mean environmentally friendly. I think it’s got some people make associations and assumption about products and ideas that are deemed “green” that make people resistant to trying these things. I know it seems like the reverse should be true, but for some people I know “green” means pretentious, expensive, and unnecessary.

If you’re one of these people, then this site is for you. It, I think, takes the bad connotations out of the word and focuses on how being environmentally friendly can save you money and help your community. If you are outraged about your electricity bill, there’s videos about how to caulk your windows and weather-strip your doors. Need a new appliance? Or maybe you just realized your refrigerator is 25 years old, runs constantly, and freezes everything. If that’s you, the site has information about Kentucky’s appliance rebate program. There’s information on the site about gardening, finding jobs in the “green” industry, profiles about individuals who promote sustainable practices, and a lot more. My favorite profile is this one; it’s about a recent college grad who moved back to Eastern Kentucky and just started a company that manufactures bio-diesel from used cooking oil. I know it sounds a little kooky, but the company provides a few jobs and makes fuel from something other than crude oil (which I think is good).

The site is also doing a “From Farm to Table” series, beginning in the fall that features Elmwood Stock Farms. In case you’re new to the blog, that’s the farm I support through their CSA program. I’m pretty excited about that because I always miss their visit the farm day and this will be a great opportunity to see the people who grow my food.

I think this is a really great site and I’m hopeful that it will make more people want to live sustainable and environmentally friendly lives. Check it out and let me know what you think.