Tag Archives: Black bean

Meal Planning!

22 Jul

I really like to cook and I love to bake but sometimes dinner is hard. You know, when you’re driving home from work thinking “What am I going to make for dinner?” and the easiest thing is just stop off and pick something up. I never seem to have the groceries I want on hand or the energy to even make a decision about what I want. Last January one of my New Year’s goals was to start planning my meals and it made a huge difference. For about two weeks. I knew what I was going to have for dinner that week, went grocery shopping ahead of time, everything was perfect. Except for the meal planning part. When I sat down on Saturday morning I could never think of what meals I wanted and ended up rotating through the same seven or so.

Well, I’m trying something new this year. Totally inspired by Decor and the Dog’s Meal Planning Tips I made a list of 30 meals – things I’ve served for beer dinners, tried and true family favorites, a few randoms like breakfast for dinner and grilled cheese and tomato soup. Then, I made magnets that listed each of my 30 options. (I also included a “Dinner Out” and “Try a New Recipe” magnets to mix things up.)


Next, I wrote each recipe out on an individual card, listing the perishable vs. non-perishable ingredients separately. Each recipe got it’s own number, too, on both the magnet and card. That way, I can easily look up the ingredients for each meal and make a grocery list.


The idea is that the 30 magnets will go into my cute retro flower jar and on Saturday morning I can pull out 4-6 meals (depending on what the upcoming week looks like) and voila! meal planning done!


I made a frame to contain my magnets on the fridge. I like Decor and the Dog’s suggestion of not assigning a particular meal to a particular night so there’s flexibility. Next up, a trip to Costco to stock up on some of the non-perishables!


Meals I included:

  1. Vegetarian Chili
  2. Tortilla Soup
  3. Black Bean Sliders
  4. Lentil Soup
  5. Potato Soup
  6. Mini Tamale Pie
  7. Shrimp Creole
  8. Taco Casserole
  9. Spinach Manicotti
  10. Veggie Pasta Bake
  11. Fried Rice
  12. Enchiladas
  13. Lasagna
  14. Baked Macaroni & Cheese
  15. Stuffed Potatoes
  16. Stuffed Bell Peppers
  17. Quiche
  18. Potato Galette
  19. Baked Veggies & Rice
  20. Southwestern Egg Rolls
  21. Quinoa Patties
  22. Pizza
  23. Spaghetti or Ravioli
  24. New!
  25. Dinner out!
  26. Grilled cheese & tomato soup
  27. Breakfast for dinner
  28. Black Bean Empanadas
  29. Spaghetti Squash Casserole
  30. Shrimp Fettuccine & Asparagus

Black Bean Sliders

30 Jul

It’s been a month. Again. And I don’t really have much of an excuse. Except that I’ve been living in a dorm building. Yes, almost 30 and spending six-weeks of the summer supervising high school kids, sleeping in a twin-sized bed, and eating meals cooked in an industrial kitchen. I’m ready for messy kitchen, dirty dishes, and beer, sweet beer.

In the meantime, I thought I’d finally get around to sharing the recipe for the most deliciously cute black bean sliders I made for my June Beer Dinner. Mini foods hold a great appeal for me; it’s almost like you can trick yourself into believing  it’s OK to eat more because they’re small. And that’s where I get in trouble with those damn mini candy bars…

You start with some garlic. See my new garlic peeler! I love it!


Cook it up in some oil with a little onion (of course).


Then, you mash the patootie out of the black beans. I used a potato masher the first time I made these and then just used the KitchenAide the next. Both worked pretty well but the finer mashed ones were easier to shape into patties.


Next, add some stuff to beef it up – sautéed garlic and onion, corn, spinach, red pepper, spices, delish, plus  Panko bread crumbs.


I also ended up adding an egg to get things to hold together better.


Pan fry in a bit of oil.


Finally, serve ’em up how you like them! For the beer dinner I prepared everything ahead of time and then warmed them back up in the oven and melted a piece of cheese on top; instead of avocado I served a spicy guacamole.


The sliders paired really nicely with an IPA. The first taste test I went with Coronado Brewing Company’s Idiot IPA. Coronado has a lot of beer being distributed right now in the Sacramento area and I’m excited to try a few more of theirs. For the beer dinner I went with Goose Islands IPA. Both beers I tried for the first time at the Capital Beerfest.

Black Bean Sliders from The Curvy Carrot

Everything you’ll need:

  • 3 gloves of garlic (or more, you know)
  • Small yellow onion, chopped
  • Two, 15-oz cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup corn
  • 1/2 cup bell pepper, diced
  • 1/4 cup fresh spinach, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 2/3 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • Egg (optional)
  • Fixings: cheese tomato, onion, etc.


  1. Begin by sautéing the garlic (3 gloves) and onion in oil until tender, about 3-5 minutes. Set aside.
  2. In a bowl, mash the black beans until soft.
  3. Add the corn (1/2 c.), bell pepper (1/2 c.), spinach (1/4 c.), soy sauce (1 T), cumin (2 t), and cayenne pepper (and any other spices you’d like) until combined.
  4. Add Panko bread crumbs (2/3 c.) and egg (optional) until the mixture comes together and will form a patty.
  5. Form patties and allow to chill 10-15 minutes.
  6. Cook patties in olive oil over medium heat until cooked through, about 5 minutes per side.

June Beer Dinner

30 Jun

IMG_8348It’s been a month. Hell, it’s been more than a month since I last posted. Life just seemed to slip away from me in the last 40 days. The end of the school year came, then it was beer dinner time, hosting a baby shower for twins, and getting ready and starting my summer jobs. For awhile there I was only capable of thinking about three days ahead. Not good when you’re suppose to be planning things that need more than three days to prep. Now, though, I’ve finally managed to catch my breath.

At the beginning of the month I hosted my fourth beer dinner – Summer Seasonals! There was quite a variety of beers and lots of new guests. Both my cousins and their spouses came for the first time, plus a new co-worker. It’s always fun to have new people.

Seeing as it was the beginning of summer I went with a beach theme! Super cute but now I’m not sure what to do with beach balls and sand toys…


For dinner we started with veggie kabobs and rice…


Then black bean sliders and chips. (Recipes to come!)


Dessert was stout floats! I had to test out many different stout and ice cream combinations but I finally decided on Lagunitas Imperial Stout with coffee ice cream.


I paired the kabobs with a local amber by Track 7 Brewing Co. I haven’t made it out to the tap room yet, but hopefully by the end of the summer. The Daylight Amber is probably my new favorite amber. It rich without being too hoppy. Same for the Goose Island IPA I paired with the Black Bean Sliders. I first tried this beer at the Sac Beer Fest and really liked it. I think I’ve grown into hoppier IPAs since, but even my sister liked this one.


The beers we tried this time:

  • Sierra Nevada Southern Hemisphere Harvest – Too hoppy for me (I guess I haven’t grown that much)
  • Samuel Adams Summer Ale – Pretty good but wasn’t anything remarkable
  • Leinekugals Summer Shady – Totally different beer; reminded me of the malt beverages I choose when I first started drinking…
  • Big Sky Brewing Summer Honey – Probably my favorite; sweet without being too much
  • Blue Moon Agave Nectar – Was good, but a little too sweet for me
  • Anchor Summer Beer – I don’t remember…


The next beer dinner is schedule for the beginning of August but I’ll also be moving then so we’ll see. I guess that just means more time for me to test-taste some beers!

April Beer Dinner – Ambers & Reds

17 Apr

It has been forever. Basically three weeks. Probably 20 beers. OK, more like 30. I’m sorry. In my vague defense I’ve been a bit overwhelmed with work. I started full time teaching again after having spent the last year and a half splitting my time between a part-time office job and teaching just a few mornings a week. It’s like being back in my first year of teaching – feeling like I’m going to drown but also being exhilarated to get up and go to work in the morning. I guess things balance out.

IMG_8149So it was a welcome break the first weekend in April to host my third, bi-monthly beer dinner! I was a lucky girl and three of my very good friends came to spend the weekend with me. Between putting them to work hanging decorations and their own amusements playing with my train set, we managed to fit in a quick trip to the University of Beer (thanks for the gift certificate, Mom!). I tried my first white IPA there – Chainbreaker White IPA by Deschutes. It was a lot different than other beers but I really liked it! Some hops goodness without being overwhelming, plus a little something extra.

Back home Rachel, Bonnie, and Ed helped me put the finishing touches on the table setting. Ed proved himself to be surprisingly apt at flower arrangement and I do believe things looked beautiful!



IMG_8159This month we tasted Ambers and Reds, plus some beers from Wisconsin Rachel brought. Sadly, none of them super stood out to me. I found that I favored the Reds over the Ambers, though. My two favorite was probably Knee Deep’s McCarthy’s Bane Imperial Red Ale.



There was actually sooooo much beer that three bottles didn’t even get opened….lucky me! I don’t think Ninkasi’s Spring Reign is an Amber or Red but I do know I like it! And the Rubicon Irish Red was my other favorite. (Sorry there’s no actual descriptions of these beers….I didn’t really write anything down this time and it’s been awhile….)


Dinner was delicious if I do say so myself. To start we had a Vegetarian Tortilla Soup that I paired with Sweetgrass American Pale Ale by Grand Teton Brewing Co. That was followed up with Black Bean Empanadas expertly constructed with the crew’s help. This was paired with Firestone Walker’s Union Jack India Pale Ale and an awesome corn-tomato-avocado salad a la Bonnie.


Dessert was Mexican Hot Chocolate Cupcakes paired with a Chocolate Stout by Rouge Ales. I also got to play with my pastry bag to do the frosting on the cupcakes! It was a bit of a disaster to start but in the end the cupcakes were beautiful!

Now I’m looking forward to June’s beer dinner. We’ll be tasting Summer Seasonals – the perfect way to start summer break!

Mini Tamale Pies

11 Mar

I drove home tonight feeling a little stressed and really tired. I had worked two of my three part-time jobs. There are some changes brewing in my life that have me a bit on edge. I didn’t sleep well last night. And when I got home I thought “I really want to cook something.” Now food is usually a go-to comfort for me. I eat my feelings. But this was different – it wasn’t the idea of eating that I associated with stress relief but the act of cooking. I wanted to be in my kitchen with NPR on the radio, chopping some vegetables. This is a new, and welcome, Zen-ness.

After some Pinterest board perusing I settled on this recipe for Mini Tamale Pies – a little bit of chopping, relatively quick, and something I could put sour cream on. I mean, hey, even if I didn’t need to eat my feelings tonight, sour cream is a good accompaniment!

Start with the chopping – a little green onion and garlic.


While the onion and garlic are sautéing, drain and rinse the beans. Have I mentioned yet that I love pinto beans? I always forget about them but they are soooo good!


Mix those beans in with the onion and garlic. Someday I’ll really get on my A-game, stop using canned beans, and cook my own. (Tonight just wasn’t that night.)


Add most of a can of diced tomatoes. When I make this again I’ll probably just use chopped fresh tomatoes. Less sodium and more chopping Zen.


After you bring the mixture to a boil you’re suppose to mash it a bit and let it simmer until thickened.


While the topping is thickening you can play with the polenta! The one time I tried to making polenta myself it was a disaster so I went with the prepared this time. The package said “Some water separation is normal.” What the package didn’t say was that the damn thing would squirt water out when you tried to cut it open!


The squirt gun action aside, I was satisfied with my polenta experience. I cut some slices and laid them down in greased ramekins.


After the topping thickens you spoon it over the polenta.


Then layer on the cheese (more feelings!) and add some green onions.


20 minutes later corn-cheese-bean delish comes out of the oven ready to eat with some chips and sour cream!


I was a little surprised with how much the mixture shrunk down so next time I may just prepare four ramekins instead of six. But now I have plenty of leftovers and some to try and freeze, too!

IMG_7994I paired my meal with Karl Strauss Blackball Belgian IPA. I first tried this beer during Sacramento Beer Week and was considering it for my April beer dinner but I think I’ll look for another beer to go with my empanadas. Don’t get me wrong, I really like the beer, but the Belgian-ness doesn’t really go with the spices. Too bad, I guess I’ll just have to try a few more beers!


Mini Tamale Pies

Everything you’ll need:

  • 1 bunch green onions, sliced, green & white parts separated
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 can (15 ounces) pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, or equivalent amount of chopped fresh tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup water
  • Half a tube of polenta (roughly 8 ounces of a 16 ounce tube), sliced
  • 1/4 teaspoon Tabasco (I skipped and just added other spices)
  • 3/4 cup cheese
  • Toppings according to your feelings!


  1. Saute the onion and garlic in oil over medium heat, with salt and pepper to taste, for about 1 minute.
  2. Add the pinto and black beans, plus about 3/4 can of tomatoes and 1/4 cup water.
  3. Stir the mixture and bring to a boil.
  4. Mash some of the mixture, reduce heat, and simmer until thickened, about 15 minutes.
  5. While the mixture reduces, cut slices of polenta and place in the bottom of greased ramekins.
  6. Remove the bean mixture from the heat and season to heat.
  7. Layer the mixture over the polenta, add some cheese and green onion.
  8. Bake for 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees.

Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

25 Feb

I don’t think I’ve ever actually had tortilla soup. As a child I was a very “willful” eater (in other wards, if it wasn’t peanut butter, grapes, or bologna on white bread I wouldn’t eat it). Even when I got older and started to outgrow those tendencies I didn’t like things too spicy. And now of course (if you haven’t caught on yet), I don’t eat meat and you never see tortilla soup in restaurants without chicken. So I managed to get to my late (…sigh…) twenties having never tried tortilla soup.

Starting out I was skeptical. Little things went wrong one after another so I was gearing up for disappointment. First, my grapeseed oil to saute in was rancid (they should really put ON THE BOTTLE that you need to refrigerate it). Then I was out of garlic. And my avocado was bad. But the soup turned out pretty good! A little more stew-like than I think tortilla soup  usually is, but satisfying.

First, you’ve got a lot of spices to throw together: cumin, paprika, chili powder, onion powder, oregano, coriander (which I didn’t have), salt, & pepper.


You start cooking by sautéing the onion and bell peppers until soft. The recipe calls for a green pepper but that’s a willful tendency I’ve held on to – I hate green bell pepper.


But there was a stow-away green pepper in my yellow one! How does that thing get there?


Anyway, next you mix up your spices with the onion and peppers.


Then you start adding cans of things.

Green chili peppers and diced tomatoes.




Vegetable broth.


I recently started using “Better Than Bouillon” anytime I need veggie broth. It’s quick, I can make only what I need for a given recipe, and its more flavorful than those containers of vegetable broth. Finally you add black beans and some lime juice (which I also didn’t have….hmm…maybe this is why the soup wasn’t quite what I expected).


I made the soup Sunday night and paired it with Flying Dog Brewery’s Old Scratch Amber Lager. It was good but a day later nothing stands out to me about the beer. It was an amber. And the label kind of creeped me out.


IMG_7829For dinner Monday I had the soup again (the soup that I was going to have for lunch but left in the fridge) and this time paired it with Red Chair Northwest Pale Ale from Deschutes. Now this beer was good – super piney without a lot of bitterness. The first sip made me pause and consider. I wouldn’t, though, pair it again with the Tortilla soup. The big citrusy-pineness just didn’t go with the spices for me.


I also took out a few frozen Black Bean Empanadas which I had made two weeks ago while my mom was visiting and they reheated awesomely! I had followed my earlier recipe but this time made them bigger and I was super pleased.


Do you have a favorite beer you pair with Mexican-inspired foods? A favorite (vegetarian) tortilla soup recipe I should try next?

Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

The original recipe was found at The Cooking Photographer.

Everything you’ll need:

  • 2 Tablespoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • Oil to saute
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 bell peppers, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 4-0unce can diced mild green chilies, drained
  • 2, 10-ounce cans diced tomatoes
  • 1, 15-ounce can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 64-ounces vegetable broth
  • 2, 15-ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • Juice of 1/2 a lime


  1. In a small bowl, mix together your spices: cumin (2 T), paprika (2 t), chili powder (2 t), garlic powder (1/2 t), onion powder (1/2 t), oregano (1/2 t), coriander (1 t), salt (1-1/2 t), and pepper (1/2 t). Put aside.
  2. In a large pot heat the oil over medium-high, then add the onions and bell peppers and saute until soft.
  3. Add the spices to the onion and peppers and cook for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the green chile peppers, corn, and vegetable broth; cook until warmed through.
  5. Add the black beans and cook 2 more minutes before serving. Squeeze in the lime juice and serve with desired garnishes.