Quick & Dirty: Black Bean Tacos with Avocado-Cilantro Sauce

I had intended to have leftovers for dinner, when I found myself paging through some truly delicious-looking Pinterest recipes. I was looking for something else, I promise! I just…got distracted by the recipes. As usual. It turned out to be a gain, though, because 20 minutes after I found this recipe online, it was sitting in front of me, ready to be eaten.

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As written, the recipe was a bit bland, but the addition of chili powder, oregano, and paprika made it easy to amp up the flavor.

Filling:
Olive oil
1/2 medium onion, diced
2 cans black beans, well rinsed
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tbsp chili powder
1/4 tsp dried oregano, paprika, & garlic powder
1 cup salsa

Sauce:
1/2 avocado
3/4 cup cilantro (destemmed)
1 lime juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp honey (the original recipe calls for a whole teaspoon, but I found that too sweet)
pinch of salt, to taste

Toppings (diced tomato, more salsa, shredded lettuce, jalapenos, etc)
Corn tortillas

1. Saute onions in medium skillet until transparent (5 minutes), add spices. Add drained baked beans and mash with fork to desired consistency. Pour in salsa and heat through (another 5 minutes).

2. Warm tortillas for 5 minutes in a oven preheated to 300 degrees.

3. In a food processor, combine sauce ingredients & blend until smooth. Add a little water to thin, if desired. If you don’t have a food processor (or if all you have is an awful blender, like me), it’s still possible to make: chop the cilantro, mash the avocado, and mix everything together well.

4. And that’s it! Spoon filing into the tortilla, add toppings as desired, and generously pour on the sauce!

Original recipe, and some gorgeous pictures, here.

Falling Even Further into Fall: Sweet Potato Pie

I may have gone a little overboard at the farmer’s market last weekend. I came home with a large bag of apples, eggplant, squash, and several pounds sweet potatoes.

In my defense, though, it’s the first appearance of fall foods! Maybe not THE most wonderful time of the year, but certainly up there.

With all this food, I needed some good fall recipes. I found them in spades (thank you, allrecipes & pinterest!).

I decided to go for the sweet potatoes first: and I settled upon sweet potato pie.

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Healthy (…kind of), delicious, and oh-so-fall. It has a similar texture to pumpkin pie, but with that great sweet potato flavor. I cheated and used store bought piecrust, which made the recipe incredibly easy to make – the hardest part was cooking the sweet potatoes.

2 medium sweet potatoes
1/2 cup melted butter
1/2 cup each brown sugar, white sugar
1/2 cup evaporated milk
2 eggs
1/2 tsp each ground nutmeg, cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1 tbsp flour
1 tsp vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prick sweet potatoes & bake for 45-50 minutes, or until tender (alternatively, you can boil them for 45 minutes, but I think baking them preserves the taste better. Remove from oven and rinse with cold water to remove skin. Mash in large bowl. Lower oven temperature to 350 degrees.

2. Beat butter into mashed sweet potatoes (I used a hand mixer, which helped considerably). Mix in sugar, evaporated milk, eggs, spices, and vanilla. Beat until creamy. Stir in flour to thicken. Pour filling into pie crust.

3. Bake for 55-60 minutes (don’t forget to lower it to 350 degrees), until knife inserted comes out cleanly. Cool on counter for half hour, then in fridge for 3 hours.

Don’t neglect that last step – I cooled it for a half hour and cheated, and I was disappointed until I had a piece later (…for breakfast. It was a perfect breakfast). The flavor & texture improves a ton once it’s chilled completely.

Once you’ve restrained yourself until it cooled all the way…add some whipped cream on top and dig in!

Recipe adapted from Divas Can Cook and AllRecipes.

Fresh, Tasty, and Easy: Twice Tomato Bruschetta

I had some leftover tomatoes & extra basil to use up, so I decided to try the bruschetta recipe I had stumbled upon earlier this week. I stopped by the store on the way home from work to pick up a baguette, and that was honestly the hardest part making this.

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Perfect for a bite-sized dinner side or appetizer!

Doesn’t that look delicious? It’s healthy (bonus if you’re using whole grain bread!) and tastes amazing, especially if you’re using fresh herbs.

3 roma tomatoes
2 tbsp olive oil
1/3 c sun-dried tomatoes (in oil)
1 clove minced garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/4cup fresh basil
salt & pepper to taste
French baguette
6-7 basil leaves, de-stemmed
mozzarella cheese

1. Cut the baguette into thin slices, brush with olive oil, and toast for 3-4 minutes until browned. (Important! If they’re not browned now, they’ll be soggy at the end)

2. De-seed and chop tomatoes, garlic, and basil; mix together in large bowl. Roughly chop sun-dried tomatoes (a messy step since they’re in oil, but I know I have trouble eating the whole ones without making a mess!) and add to the mix.

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Look at those bright ingredients. Just like Christmas!

3. Add splash of olive oil, vinegar, salt & pepper, mix well. Heap mixture onto toasted baguette slices, add whole basil leaves, and top with chunks of mozzarella cheese.

4. Broil for 6-7 minutes, until the cheese is melted. Serve immediately, while hot!

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I made mine in a toaster oven, which worked wonderful. They toasted quickly and kept my kitchen from overheating (bonus in the Houston weather! Which is still hot).

Original recipe here.

Growing Season (Stuffed Zucchini Balls)

One of the big advantages to the hot, humid, & sweaty Houston summer is the growing season that comes with it. When I came down here (in late August), I was astonished to see tomato plants & herbs still being sold. Combine that with the farmer’s market within walking distance of my apartment, and I’m in fresh fruit & vegetable heaven.

Going to the farmers market has been a learning experience in itself. I’ve always been a suburbanite, going to the grocery store and getting used to uniform size & colored produce all year long. The farmers market, though… all shapes & colors of peppers, differently colored tomatoes & eggplants, and, I discovered, zucchini balls. I had never never seen a zucchini ball before. Upon seeing my first, I thought, wow. Think of all the OTHER vegetables you could stuff inside!

That led to stuffed zucchini balls.

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They were easy and delicious. I altered several recipes to come up with this one, and it’s flexible – use what you have on hand! I made mine vegetarian, but it wouldn’t be hard to add ground turkey or beef – saute it with the onions at the beginning, making sure to cook thoroughly.

2 zucchini balls
1 tbsp of olive oil
1 med onion, diced
1 garlic clove, minced
handful of fresh basil & oregano
3 tomatoes, chopped & drained
roasted red pepper
1cup bread crumbs
pinch of crushed red pepper
salt & pepper to taste
3-4 fresh basil leaves, chopped
mozzarella cheese
Parmesan cheese

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1. Cut off the tops of the zucchini balls & scrape out the insides. Set aside the meaty part of the inside, toss the seeds. Make sure to drain it well, otherwise it’ll end up watery (same goes for tomatoes below) Cook in a 350 degree pre-heated oven for around 30-40 minutes, until tender.

2. Saute the onion & garlic in olive oil for 3-4 minutes on medium heat, then add chopped basil & oregano. Let cook for 2 more minutes, or until onion is transparent.

3. Combine chopped (drained!) tomatoes, roasted peppers, 1 c breadcrumbs, crushed red pepper, salt & pepper. Mix well, then add to onion mixture. Allow to simmer for 10 minutes, then take off heat & transfer to a medium mixing bowl.

4. Chop mozzarella cheese & remaining basil, add to stuffing mixture, and mix well.

5. If you’re serving it later or planning on leftovers (and they keep well), save this step until you plan on serving it. Remove the zucchini balls from the oven and add stuffing. Make sure to fill it to the top – you want as much of the yummy insides as possible! Top with Parmesan cheese and return to the oven for 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted & insides warm through.

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Enjoy!