Smoky Black Bean and Corn Soup


It’s official – soup weather is here. The chill of Autumn is in the air, and the sweet, smokey scent of wood burning in fireplaces lingers in the air. This is my all time favorite time of the year. There is nothing to compare to curling up on the sofa with a warm bowl of soup and my family all around me. Often Kiddo and I have a blanket over our laps. Comfort all the way. We love a fresh pot of soup to take the chill off the day.

This wonderful recipe is inspired by a recipe from William-Sonoma. Be it their tested recipes; ingredients or cooking equipment; you know when it’s from William-Sonoma; it’s a name you can trust. Naturally, I did my own tweaking, more sausage, less black bean and the introduction of corn. (Link to original:

The final soup was wonderful – all smoky, with wonderful big chunks of sausage and just a little kick from the cayenne pepper. When my guys sat down with soup spoons in hand and began to “slurp” their supper, all I could hear were a lot of “yums.” Thanks guys!

Smoky Black Bean and Corn Soup
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 Orange Bell Pepper, cored and diced
2 celery stalks, finely diced
1/2 Onion, finely chopped
4 Smoked Chicken Sausages, fully cooked
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 pinch Cayenne Pepper
3 cans Chicken Broth
1 can (15 oz.) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes with juices
1 can (14 oz) corn, drained
Sea Salt to taste
Black Pepper to taste

Coin cut smoked Chicken Sausage. Set aside until ready to use.

In a heavy pot over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the bell peppers, celery and onion and sauté until the onion is tender, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the sausage and sauté until browned, about 2 minutes.

Add 3 cans of chicken broth. Season with the cumin, smoked paprika and a pinch of cayenne pepper.

Empty 1 can drained, rinsed black beans. Add tomatoes and corn. Stir and bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper.

Lower heat to simmer. Let soup simmer gently for 20 minutes. Soup is now ready to serve. If desired, soup can continue to summer as much as 45 minutes. If too much liquid evaporates, thin soup with additional chicken broth.

When ready to serve, ladle into warmed soup bowls. Remember to scoop all the way down to the bottom of the pot so that each bowl has a nice helping of sausage and vegetables.

One-Pot Pasta with Fresh Tomatoes and Basil


Kiddo made supper over the weekend. Whenever I print out recipes for him to follow, I don’t include photos. Most of the time, he doesn’t need pictures. Kiddo knows his way around the kitchen well enough not to require visual aids. This time around, it was a mistake. Not that the finished dish in any way suffered, but he would have been spared the need to be creative.

I could hear him chopping and prepping. I asked if he needed any help, which he declined. There was the distinct “click” of the burner turned on. Supper was cooking. And then there came a request that made me get up and wander into the kitchen.  Do we own a turkey baster? Kiddo had placed all the ingredients into our standard pasta pot. He then placed the pasta on top, in a standing position. It really needed to be on its side, surrounded by the other ingredients in the pot so that everything could easily be submerged in the boiling water. With the pasta standing up, only the lower half was in the water, beginning to cook and soften. When he tried to pull the pasta through as instructed, all that was happening was that the dry pasta was breaking into pieces. I’ve got to give him credit, the turkey baster did the trick and within a few minutes, the pasta softened evenly and all the ingredients were cooking together very nicely. Ten minutes later, and a wonderful pasta dish was ready.

One-Pot Pasta with Fresh Tomatoes and Basil
12 oz linguine
1 large onion, very thinly sliced, about 2 cups
4 – 6 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
12 oz or 3 cups grape tomatoes, halved
10 basil leaves, torn in half, additional for garnish
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper, plus more to taste
4 1/2 cups water
Topping: Freshly grated Romano or Parmesan cheese, several basil leaves thinly sliced

Combine all ingredients in a straight sided large skillet or pot. Bring to a high boil and then reduce heat just enough to keep it boiling without splattering you as you stir and toss it constantly with tongs for about 8-10 minutes. The water and tomatoes will reduce down and the pasta will release starches that thicken it and make it creamy.

Do not wait for all of the liquid to evaporate. Taste the pasta as it finishes cooking. When it has softened to your liking remove from the heat. Taste and adjust salt and pepper if needed. Scoop into serving bowls and top with fresh cheese and additional basil. Enjoy!

Crock Pot Teriyaki Chicken with Teriyaki Glaze


It seems like we have been doing a lot of Chinese Chicken in the crock pot that has you finish the sauce (or in this case the glaze) in a pan on the stove-top. Let’s face it, folks, most of the time crock pots render a lot of liquid. Now in the case of this Teriyaki Chicken, there wasn’t a whole lot of “sauce” left in the pot. What sauce was left was dark – and I do me dark – in color. At first I thought “oh no, it’s going to taste burnt”. Much to my delight, it was just a very dark, very rich sauce that only required a little thickening to transform into a deep, rich glaze.

The only flaw I found in the recipe was that there wasn’t enough rice for the amount of chicken. No big deal – we will make more rice when the few pieces of chicken become another meal. Chinese noodles would also be nice just to change things up a bit.

Crock Pot Teriyaki Chicken with Teriyaki Glaze
Crock Pot Chicken
3 lbs boneless chicken thighs (about 6 thighs)
3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
6 Tablespoons apple cider or rice wine Vinegar
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 Cup Cooked Rice for Serving

Place chicken in crock pot on low heat.

Combine sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, ginger, garlic and pepper in a separate bowl. Mix well and pour over the chicken.

Cook on low for 4-5 hours until chicken is tender. Make rice while chicken is cooking. Time your rice so that it’s ready to serve when chicken and glaze are ready.

Remove chicken from crock pot, place on rimmed serving platter. Cover with foil and hold in a warm oven (about 250 degrees). Make sauce.

Teriyaki Glaze
Liquid from Crock Pot, strained
1 Tablespoon Apple Cider or Rice Wine Vinegar
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon corn starch
2 tablespoons cold water
1 cup cooked rice for serving

Strain liquid from crock pot into a saucepan.

To the liquid, add vinegar, 1/4 cup (or so) soy sauce and brown sugar. Over medium heat, stir until sugar has dissolved. Increase heat and bring just to a boil.

In a small bowl, combine cornstarch and water until smooth and gradually stir into saucepan.

Reduce heat to simmer and continue to cook until sauce becomes a nice, thick glaze.

Remove chicken from oven. Spoon glaze over chicken.

To Server: Spread out a bed of sticky rice on individual plate. Top with chicken. Spoon glaze from platter over chicken and rice. Enjoy!


Beefy-Corn Rice-A-Roni Taco Style

Beefy Rice A Roni One Skillet Dinner

It’s amazing what one simple, little change can make.. For those of you who have followed my blog for a while, you might recognize the recipe for Beefy Corn Rice-A-Roni – When “Quick” is All That Matters originally posted in August 2014. It’s a simple family favorite for those nights when time is of the essences.  Recently, I whipped up the Rice-A-Roni based dish as I always do, with one tiny change. Instead of browning fresh ground beef; I used up the last of our left-over taco meat from earlier in the week. No sense in letting that taco meat go to waste, right? There really wasn’t enough to make burritos – but there was enough to use as a filler. That little change – using taco meat brought out a whole new dimension – a Mexican Spice flair to our familiar favorite. What a difference! There was nothing left of my Beefy-Corn dish – not even a spoonful!

Needless to say, I will be using  left-over taco meat more often when making Rice-A-Roni with sweet corn.

Beefy-Corn Rice-A-Roni Taco Style
1/2 lb Taco Meat (left over – more if you’ve got it)
4 tablespoons Butter
2 Boxes Beef Rice-A-Roni
1 Can Corn, drained well
4 Cups Water

Brown Rice-A-Roni (Beef flavor) in butter according to package direction. When pasta is nice and golden, add water and seasoning packages from box. Bring to a boil.

Drain corn, add to skillet. Add taco meat, return to a boil.

Lower heat. Simmer for 15 minutes or until rice is tender.

This goes well with tomato wedges or a simple salad. This flavorful rice still works well as a filling for stuffed Bell Peppers.

To use for stuffed Bell Pepper:

Stuffed Bell Pepper (1)Prepare Beefy Rice-A-Roni as above. While Rice-A-Roni is cooking, cut the tops from bell peppers and core. Place peppers in a pot of boiling water for about 5 minutes to help soften. Remove peppers from water, drain well.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Arrange bell peppers on a glass baking dish with about a 2-inch rim.

Spoon rice mixture into peppers. Top with a little cheese. Place in the oven and bake for about 20 minutes.

Slow-Cooker Spicy Orange Marmalade Chicken


We have been eating a lot of frozen Chinese Dinners in our house lately – at lease once a week. Beef and Broccoli, Orange Chicken, General Tso (a Chinese-American dish). It was time to do a little Chinese cooking from Scratch cooking.

While this chicken is cooked up in a slow-cooker; it’s not one of those start it in the morning and forget about it dishes. For one thing, it will cook on low in about 4 or 5 hours; and it does require a little finishing work at the end. This is more along the lines of start it at about noon, then putter about before returning to finish everything at the end. It does give you some free time (always welcome) without complete freedom. If you have teenagers in the house; this is a great dish for them to take on the responsibility of cooking the family meal.

Slow-Cooker Spicy Orange Marmalade Chicken
4 lbs Skinless Chicken thighs (about 6 thighs)
Flour for dredging
1 can orange juice concentrate, thawed, divided
1/2 cup orange marmalade
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons ketchup
1/4 Tablespoon Red Chili Pepper Flakes, divided
2 tablespoons brown sugar
Green onion for garnish

Remove visible fat from chicken thighs and roll each in flour until well coated. Set chicken thighs in the bottom of a slow cooker.

Combine 1/2 orange juice concentrate, marmalade, soy sauce, garlic and ketchup in a small bowl. Whisk until well blended. Add 1/8 teaspoon (about a pinch) of Red Chili Pepper Flakes.

Pour sauce over chicken thighs. Cover slow-cooker and cook on LOW setting for 4-5 hours.

Remove thighs from slow cooker and place in a rimmed serving platter. Cover chicken with foil and hold in a warm oven. Ladle sauce into a sauce pan. Add remaining orange concentrate and brown sugar. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and let cook until reduced and thickened, about 20 minutes. Taste sauce, add additional Red Pepper Flake if desired.

Remove chicken from oven. Spoon some of the orange sauce over chicken, garnish with green onions. Serve with additional sauce on the side.

Honey and Cinnamon Carrots


Every year, we attend a gathering of Pirates in Vallejo, California. We go for two reasons – the music (mostly a lively bunch of tipsy Irish Bands belting out their favorite Whiskey Songs) and the food. Kiddo really enjoys the battle of tall ships in the bay and we all love just being near the water. There’s something about being near the ocean that seems to connect with our souls.

One of my favorite “plates” is the mesquite grilled Quail served over a bed of wild rice. One of my least favorite sides are the creamed spinach that also comes with the quail. While the spinach is colorful, there’s something about mass-cooked spinach that lacks flavor and texture. It’s sort of this bright blob of green on my plate.

I get it, I really do – the simplicity of the spinach. This is a gathering of pirates in Victorian times. The blob of spinach is fitting, although not very appealing. Recently, I wanted to recreate this plate, skipping the blob. That’s when I came across a very simple serving of carrots. These have flavor and are just as colorful as the spinach. Great with grilled quail, or roasted chicken. I’d even include them with a Thanksgiving Turkey or Easter Ham.

Honey and Cinnamon Carrots
1 package (16 ounces) frozen sliced carrots
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 to 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 Cinnamon Sticks for garnish

Cook carrots according to package directions.

Meanwhile, in a saucepan, heat the honey, butter and cinnamon until butter is melted; stir to blend. Taste and adjust cinnamon, if necessary, about 1/4 teaspoon at a time.

Drain carrots well; place in a warm serving bowl. Drizzle with honey mixture. Place a couple of sticks of cinnamon into the dish for garnish.

Super Easy Chicken Mole


This past weekend, we had grilled foods on the menu for both Saturday and Sunday’s supper. The weather had been holding nice and steady for mid-October with warm days and cool evenings. One of the more difficult things about this time of year is planning too far ahead. The weather turned. We knew it was going to turn, but none of the news stations seemed to agree as to when and how. Some said wind with a chance of showers. Some predicted light rain in the morning hours, others gave us the chance of heavy rains in the overnight hours. (I’d love to have a job that allowed me to be wrong so often and keep my job!)

Saturday the sky was a nasty, threatening gray. By mid-afternoon, the winds were high, making outdoor cooking just about impossible. Sunday brought heavy rains (it was supposed to be scattered light showers). That meant a last-minute “shuffle” in the menu before heading off to the market. Darn, I had my mouth all set. Oh well, good excuse to dine out on Saturday night. Sunday brought out a recipe I’ve shared before – Cheater’s Mole. mole-ready-to-serveWhile this is similar, with the same basic short cut, my usual Mole Sauce wasn’t available. Same brand, just not the concentrated variety that comes in a jelly jar. This mole sauce comes in a carton “ready to use”. Hum, might have to do a little tweaking to the sauce for that nice, full flavor of the concentrate without all the extra work involved to make my Cheater’s Chicken Mole. Nothing like being flexible. I’ve pushed off the Grilled Quail  and Spice Rubbed Tri-tip for next weekend . . . we’ll see. In the meantime, here’s one of Hubby’s all-time favorite Mexican Dishes, with a few alterations.

The upside to using the Ready To Serve is that it is easier to work with. The down side is that, left alone the Ready To Serve Mole has a chalky finish and isn’t nearly as spicy as its concentrated counterpart. To dilute with broth creates a finished sauce that is thinner than we like. (Adding broth a little at a time and tasting after each addition, it took half a can of broth to eliminate that chalky after taste).

Super Easy Chicken Mole
2 Cartons Dona Maria Ready to Serve Mole Sauce
½ Can Chicken Broth
¼ Teaspoon Chipotle Pepper Seasoning
¼ Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
½ Teaspoon Ground Cumin Seasoning
4 large chicken breasts, boneless, skinless

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Empty mole sauce into a large mixing bowl. Add 1/2 can of broth to the bowl. Whisk until blended. Add seasonings, whisk until well blended. Set aside until ready to use.

Cut chicken into large chunks, about 1 1/2 inches and place in a large casserole dish. Pour sauce over breasts. Cover with foil and bake 1 ½ hours. Uncover and continue to bake an additional 30 minutes to help sauce thicken slightly. Breast should be very tender.


Serve with warm flour tortillas, Spanish Rice and Refried Beans.