January 11, 2016

Black Beans and Rice-- Uber Delish!


It has seriously been a while since I shared a recipe. But it's a new year and I got a new cookbook for Christmas, which means new recipes for all!

This past week I tried three recipes from my new cookbook--and all of them were good! Plus, I actually enjoyed cooking this week...which hasn't really been the case of late, so it's a truly wonderful thing!

I've done three things to try an add the joy back into my cooking. First, I've simply tried to change my attitude about it. Don't dread it. That goes a long way. Don't worry about the finish line. That means that if we eat a little later than intended, that's okay. No need to stress about it. Just try and relax.

Which brings me to number two: Listen to some music. Sometimes I put on my favorite cooking cd-- the soundtrack to the movie Chef...it is the best music to chop and stir to; sometimes I put on my headphones and strap my iPod to my arm with my running band (yes, I see the irony!). But either way, I listen to some music that I enjoy (as in, not music for the kids).

And lastly, I try to give the kids something to do to occupy them so that they are 1) not fighting and 2) not constantly bugging me for something. This last one has been only partially successful, but still...

Plus I think just being out of the holiday craziness has reduced my baseline stress level, which helps too.

I've also put a small kitchen tv on my honey wish list. I think being able to watch relaxing tv (for me) while I cook would be nice (like Ina Garten, whose show is not only an excellent cooking show but also super relaxing and fantastic to nap to (I promise not to actually nap while cooking)...it's her soothing voice, I think).

So cooking's been better. Now, my new cookbook...

I got the Forks Over Knives Cookbook from my husband for Christmas and I was super psyched! (You can find it here: Forks-Over-Knives-The-Cookbook.) I watched the Forks Over Knives documentary a few months ago and found it fascinating. (You can check it out on Netflix streaming if you have it. I highly recommend it.) And I checked out the website and many of the recipes they share there. (You can find that here: http://www.forksoverknives.com.)

I also have the original book (Forks Over Knives: The Plan) on my wish list...I'll get to that eventually.

Generally speaking, I buy into the philosophy behind the movement. Though I haven't gone whole-hog (yes, I see the irony again...love irony) with it. Like, I still do dairy and have a hard time imagining cutting that out completely...No half-n-half in my coffee? No yogurt for breakfast? No cheese?!?!? Egads! But I've followed a vegetarian diet at various times in my life and I (mostly) find it pretty easy to cut out meat.

But for now, we're just cutting back, ala Michael Pollan's approach. (If you've never read his books, like In Defense of Food and Food Rules, they are fascinating and really well written, making them super easy reads. You can find them here: http://michaelpollan.com/books/)...I'm a big fan of Michael Pollan.

That being said, you don't have to buy into the Forks Over Knives philosophy to enjoy their yummy dishes. And I make modifications to their recipes that suit me and my family, but don't necessarily follow their guidelines, which I note below. Speaking of which, I guess I ought to actually share it now, huh? Here you go...


The Uber Delish Black Beans and Rice (my version)
1 medium sweet onion, peeled and diced (or whatever onion you like)
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1-2 jalapeno peppers, seeds removed and diced (I only used one so it wouldn't be too spicy for my daughter...but it probably would have been okay with 2...leave the seeds in if you want more heat)
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 tsp minced garlic
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp dried oregano
2, 15 oz cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup water, plus extra as needed (you could use vegetable broth)
salt and pepper to taste (I bet I used a couple of teaspoons each; add it 1/2 tsp at a time, stir and taste till you're happy with it)
1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
juice of 1 lime
3 cups cooked Jasmati rice

Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onion, red pepper and jalapeƱo pepper and saute for 7-10 minutes, until cooked and browned. Add the garlic, cumin and oregano and cook for 3 more minutes. Add the black beans and 1 cup of water. Cook for 10 minutes, adding more water as needed. Season with salt and pepper, chopped cilantro and juice of one lime. Then taste it and add more salt, pepper, cumin, oregano, cilantro and/or lime juice as needed to get it to delish--this is the point where you really become the chef: taste and season, taste and season, taste and season until you love it. You decide what it needs more of to get it just right. Then serve the beans over a scoop of Jasmati rice and top with a dollop of sour cream, if desired. (That's what we did. You could also add a sprinkle of shredded cheese or some cubed up avocado. And you could serve it with some tortilla chips if that suits you.)

We had no beans left over when we were done...that's how good they were. I think I'll make 50% more next time so we can have leftovers--the beans would be delicious reheated and added to a burrito or quesadilla.


Now, for reference, here is the Forks Over Knives Recipe for Black Beans and Rice.

Forks Over Knives Recipe for Black Beans and Rice
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and diced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
2 jalapeno peppers, diced (seeded for less heat)
5 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted and ground
1 1/2 tsp oregano, toasted
4 cups cooked black beans or 2, 15 oz. cans, drained and rinsed
salt and pepper to taste
3 cups cooked brown rice
1 cup chopped cilantro
1 lime, quartered
The main differences in cooking? They cook the veggies in water and I used olive oil at the beginning. They simply garnish with cilantro and lime wedges at the end and I add the cilantro and lime juice while cooking--I think the beans really need both to taste great. And they like to toast their seasonings...I was too lazy!


So there you have it.

Until next time, happy cooking!



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