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Bean Soup – or what to do with your Easter ham bone…

Yummy Soup Ingredients

On Easter, we had the ham from the local hog we recently bought.  It was quite tasty and since it was a whopping 18 pounds, we have lots of leftover ham in both the freezer and fridge.  As we always do when we have a ham bone, I made our family’s Bean & Hominy Soup.  I used dry navy beans and canned hominy this time, but since I got the recipe from my mom and she always uses canned beans, I am giving the recipe using those. Of course, you can use dried hominy and beans, instead of canned, if you prefer. It will be both cheaper and healthier to make that way.

This is the navy bean soup that my family makes. It is a recipe that my Mom got from her Mom and is a dish that they used to make in Key West, Florida. My grandparents were Key West “Conchs”, meaning they were born and raised in Key West. I guess that this recipe came over to Key West from the Bahamas (or maybe Cuba?) along with the immigrants from there in the late 1800’s. I’ll call it “Ida’s Key West Bean & Hominy Soup” after my grandmother.

But, I will note that while my mom has always made it with hominy, recently she did she reveal that when she was a young child (late 1930’s) her Mom, Ida, made it with dried white “cracked corn”. Later, as it became easier to find hominy and more difficult to find food-grade cracked corn for human consumption (it is used today in chicken feed), they switched to hominy.

Wikipedia states about hominy that “Soaking the corn in lye kills the seed’s germ, which keeps it from sprouting while in storage. In addition to preserving the grain as foodstuff, this process also affords several significant nutritional advantages over untreated maize products. It converts some of the niacin (and possibly other B vitamins) into a form more absorbable by the body, improves the availability of the amino acids, and (at least in the lime-treated variant) supplements the calcium content, balancing maize’s comparative excess of phosphorus.”

It’s great with hominy, but I guess the cracked corn is more authentic.  Also, we always used white hominy, but this time I used half white and half yellow and it still looked and tasted fine. Feel free to adjust the hominy to bean ratio to your tastes, but there must be some hominy in it.  Sadly, there is no vegetarian version of this, since the ham bone and attached ham is what give it most of the flavor.

Ida’s Key West Bean & Hominy Soup

  • 1 ham bone (with some ham left on it)
  • 4 cans Navy beans, 15 oz. size cans (you can use Northern beans, but it’s not quite the same)
  • 2 cans white hominy, 15.5 oz. size cans (hominy is lye-soaked corn, yellow will do if you can’t get white)
  • 1 medium white or yellow onion, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Old Sour, for adding at the table (optional)
  1. Simmer the ham bone in water until the meat drops off and the water makes a rich broth. I use my crock-pot and cook it on low overnight.
  2. Remove the bone and cut up any larger chunks of meat to small bite-size pieces. Drain and rinse the beans and hominy and put the chopped onion in the broth/meat in a pot along with the hominy and beans. Add additional water if necessary, as the final product should have the consistency of a stew when finished.
  3. Cook on low heat (or in a crock pot) for several hours, until the beans and hominy have softened a little and made a saucy-broth. Add salt and black pepper to taste. At the table, you can add “old sour” to taste.

“Old Sour”  is Key Lime Juice that has salt added to it, and is then left to sit and sour/ferment for a while.  I think that its use goes back to the seafaring heritage of many Key West and Bahamian folks, as the preserved  lime juice is a good source of vitamin C when you are out at sea.  That is why “limey” is a slang term for a sailor.

I found this recipe on a Key West web site, in case you can’t find it ready-made. By the way, my Mom doesn’t use peppers in hers, just lime juice and salt. Old Sour is a very old Key West tradition and Conchs use on it just about everything.

Old Sour

  • 2 cups Key Lime juice or Persian Lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 2 Bird Peppers or a few drops of hot sauce, optional
  1. Strain the lime juice through cheesecloth three or four times to make sure to remove all pulp.
  2. Mix lime juice and salt together. Pour into bottles with Bird Peppers. Cork.
  3. Refrigerate two weeks or more before using, the longer the better. Store in refrigerator three to six months.

Serve the bean soup with buttered Cuban bread, or French or Italian if you aren’t lucky enough to live in a town like Tampa were you can get Cuban bread.  A salad goes well with it and gives you something green.

The girls really like this soup and at their request have taken it for lunch in their thermoses the last two days.

– Stacey


Gingery Beef and Green Bean Stir Fry

Gingery Beef and Green Bean Stir Fry
Sorry that it has been awhile since I have blogged.  Life keeps getting in the way.  We have had a big birthday for one of the girls and some family visiting.  I will be posting the recipe and instructions for Emma’s “pizza” birthday cake in the near future, but today, you get a recipe for a ground beef and green bean stir fry.

My girls love the haricot vert (fancy French green beans) that you can get fresh in the produce section.  Normally, I just steam them or roast them in the oven, but last night I decided to make something Asian with them.  The local Natural Grocers has their grass-feed ground beef on sale, so it was to be ground beef and green beans.

Gingery Beef and Green Bean Stir Fry

  • 4 tsp cornstarch
  • 2/3 cup beef broth
  • 4 Tbsp real soy sauce or tamari (not LaChoy)
  • 3 Tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 2 gloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp dark sesame oil
  • 2 cups fresh green beans
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 small can sliced bamboo shoots, drained and rinsed (the girls call it Panda Food)
  1. Combine all sauce ingredients. That means everything except the green beans, the ground beef and the bamboo shoots. Set aside.
  2. Blanch the green beans in boiling water for several minutes-the beans should be tender-crisp. Drain and “shock” with cold water.
  3. Brown the ground beef and drain. Add the sauce mixture to the meat. Simmer for a few minutes to allow the flavors to blend and the sauce to thicken.
  4. Mix in the green beans and bamboo shoots, heat through and serve over cooked brown rice or whole wheat noodles.

Note: This recipe is not very spicy at all, so Mike and I added Sriracha chili sauce to ours at the table to give it more of a kick.  But, if you are not serving any kids, then feel free to use more red pepper flakes in the dish.

Sorry the picture is not so great, I forgot to take one until after we had already dug into it.  🙂  The kids all liked it a lot!

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Chili – a vegetarian recipe for everyone

You can definitely tell by the number of dishes including meat on my blog that we are omnivores, not vegetarians.  But, everyone needs to eat more fruits and vegetables, so a good vegetable stew or salad recipe is always helpful. 

The chili spices in this dish predominate, so you don’t even miss the meat.  I was concerned that with both the honey and sweet potatoes, the chili would be too sweet, but it isn’t.  To make the recipe vegan, substitute the honey with maple syrup or other vegan-acceptable sweetener and don’t use the optional dairy-based garnishes.

The coffee is just to give it a bit of a smoky taste. So if you don’t drink coffee, use water instead and then add a bit of smoked paprika.  That should give you the same effect.   I have given the recipe using canned beans and tomatoes; the ones I used were organic.  But, it is always better if you have the forethought to soak and cook your own beans and use fresh tomatoes.  But, I am not usually that organized.  🙂

The kids all loved this recipe.  We served ours with a dollop of plain yogurt on top, but no cheese.  You could also garnish with a bit of chopped cilantro.  The sweet potatoes will be giving you lots of vitamins A & C and the beans will give you lots of fiber.

– Stacey

Sweet Potato & Black Bean ChiliSweet Potato Black Bean Chili - potatoes and onions
Yield: 2 quarts, about 8 servings

  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp olive, peanut, or coconut oil (I used coconut)
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 cans (15 oz. each) Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili - adding garlic and spicesblack beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/4 cup brewed coffee
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 cup shredded monterey jack cheese or mexican cheese blend, optional for serving
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt or sour cream, optional for serving
  1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat.Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili - ready to simmer
  2. When oil is hot, sauté sweet potatoes and onion in oil stirring often, until the onion is beginning to soften, about 4 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin and cayenne; cook stirring constantly 1 minute longer.
  4. Stir in the beans, tomatoes, coffee, honey, salt and pepper.  Bring to a boil.
  5. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for about 30 minutes or until sweet potatoes are tender.
  6. For serving, you can top with a dollop of plain yogurt and/ or a sprinkle of cheese.

Note: Another lazier option for making this is to just throw everything in your crockpot and cook on low for 3-4 hours.

Taco Salad… in the slow-cooker?

Girl with Taco SaladThis was dinner on Wednesday night and everyone enjoyed it.   Obviously, you don’t have to make taco meat in the slow cooker, but I had been making chili in it recently and I wondered if the extra cooking time would improve the flavor.

I always add both tomatoes and beans to my taco meat to make it more nutritious.  Do notice that the tomatoes are obviously in there and not hidden veggies.  Unlike some children’s cookbook authors, I think it is important that kids know they are eating veggies in order to develop a taste for them and a habit of choosing to eat them.

I had gotten a LOT of Westbrae organic beans and Muir Glen diced fire-roasted tomatoes during the sale our local Natural Grocers had in October.  If you can’t find the fire-roasted tomatoes, then substitute regular canned diced tomatoes but add a little smoked paprika for that smoky flavor.‎

Slow Cooker Taco Salads
Serves 6-8, depending on appetite

  • 20-oz. ground lean turkey (or ground beef)
  • 25-oz. can organic pinto beans (or kidney or black beans, if you prefer)
  • 28-oz. can Muir Glen fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 2 Tbsp Taco seasoning of your choice (I used a mix from Native Roots, a local natural foods store,
    but here is an option from $5 dinners for making your own)
  • sea salt, to taste (our taco seasoning was salt-free, yours may not be)
  • Organic corn chips (we used some from Xochitl)
  • 2-3 cups organic leaf lettuce or raw spinach, shredded
  • 1-2 raw tomatoes, chopped
  • shredded mild cheddar cheese
  • Plain Greek yogurt (a great substitute for sour cream)
  • Tabasco sauce (served at the table to spice things up a bit more for the adults)
  1. In the morning, put the ground turkey, beans, canned tomatoes, taco seasoning and optional sea salt in your slow cooker (AKA crock pot). Cook on low for at least 4-6 hours.
  2. When you get home in the afternoon or evening , chop up the lettuce or spinach and the tomatoes.
  3. Serve everything at the table and let everyone plate their own taco salad… chips, lettuce, taco meat, shredded cheese, yogurt, and fresh tomatoes.

We also mashed up an avocado with a bit of lime juice and some tabasco, salt, pepper, and garlic as a speedy guacamole.

– Stacey

Taco Salad

More beany treats – Garbanzo Bean Blondies

I hope you all liked the recent Black Bean Brownies post and recipe.  I decided to try making blondies using garbanzo beans, AKA chickpeas. But, you probably could use just about any white bean for this.

I went to lots of sources for white bean blondies recipes and some of the recipes that inspired mine are at Meal Makover Moms, Struggle Muffins, The Blissful Baker, The Runny Egg, Peanut Butter Lover, and Professional Palate.  So, I came up with a recipe I had planned to make using peanut butter, chocolate chips and nuts.

But, I was chatting last night with one of the other soccer moms at the soccer skills camp our girls were attending and she mentioned that she likes to add lemon zest and dried cranberries to her sugar cookies.  I had been thinking of using some dried fruit in the blondies so I went with that flavor combination of lemon and cranberry instead.  This may not be the traditional butterscotchy blondie, but it is good.

When I first thought of making blondies, I had planned to just used chocolate chips and nuts, but when I changed to cranberries, I decided to use the white chocolate chips again and for my nut butter in the recipe, I used almond butter.  So, I am going to give you two recipes…the one I made and the one I planned to make, but didn’t.  I will probably try it in the future.

Garbanzo Bean Blondies – with peanut butter, chocolate chips, and nuts
(makes 16 2″x2″ blondies)

  • 1 can chickpeas AKA garbanzos, drained and rinsed (about 1.5 cups)
  • 1 medium banana
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 Tbsp honey or maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2-4 Tbsp natural creamy peanut butter
  • 1 tsp real vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp aluminum-free baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seed or oat flour
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Garbanzo Bean Blondies – with almond butter, white chocolate chips, and dried cranberries
(makes 16 2″x2″ blondies)

  • 1 can chickpeas AKA garbanzos, drained and rinsed (about 1.5 cups)
  • 1 medium banana
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar (I used Sugar in the Raw)
  • 4 Tbsp natural creamy almond butter
  • 1 tsp real vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp aluminum-free baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp lemon oil (use lemon zest instead, if you have it)
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 cup ground flax seed
  • 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup chopped dried cranberries (I used Craisins brand since I had it on had, but it is sweetened)

Directions for both  versions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F and grease an 8×8 inch baking pan; I use my MISTO oil sprayer.  Place drained chickpeas in a food processor and blend until smooth.  Add the banana and eggs and process until smooth again.  Add all the rest of the ingredients (except chocolate chips and nuts) to the food processor and process until completely smooth. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts.  Scrape batter into prepared pan and spread evenly.  Bake in preheated oven for 35-40 minutes. Do not overbake.

The girls all liked these Craisin blondies, but I don’t think they are quite as decadent as the previous chocolatey brownies, but it has nothing to do with the beans, just the lack of lots of chocolate.  🙂  I used 1/2 cup of Craisins, but that may have actually been too much, the cranberry taste was a little stronger than I would have like, so will probably reduce the cranberries to 1/3 or even 1/4 cup next time.  If you are going to make it with a less assertive dried fruit such as apricots or raisins then you may want to use the full 1/2 cup.  Also, I actually used more like 1.5 bananas in mine because that is what I had leftover from dinner, but it made the batter a little wetter than I liked, so if it looks too moist in the pictures, that is why.

– Stacey

Time for a treat – Black Bean Brownies

Child Eating Black Bean BrownieTime for a TREAT!  Black Bean Brownies!  Yay!
Wait, that sounds nasty to you?  Well, you have never had a black bean brownie then.  Because the chocolate flavor is so intense that you can’t even tell that all the flour in a regular brownie has been replaced by beans.  So, while these brownies are high fiber, lower carb, and even gluten-free, they are also rich, moist, and delicious.

The first time I saw a recipe for them was at All Recipes and then saw a different version at Meal Makeover Moms. I made several different versions of them and then tweeked it to get the recipe I give below.

I typically use semi-sweet chips, but this time I went with some white chocolate ones.  I also add a little prepared coffee (left over from breakfast) to bring out the chocolate flavor and add some flax seed just to give it some Omega-3s.  Both of those are optional.  Also, we like nuts in our brownies, so I put either chopped pecans or walnuts in, but again that is optional if you are not a nut lover or have someone with an allergy issue in your family.

Black Bean Brownie Ingredients

Black Bean BrowniesBlack Bean Puree
(makes 16 2″x2″ brownies)

  • 1 15-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained very well
  • 3 eggs (organic is great and pastured is even better)
  • 3 Tbsp peanut or coconut oil (or whatever vegetable oil you prefer)
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 pinch of sea salt
  • 1.5 tsp aluminum-free baking powder (Rumford is one option)
  • 1 tsp real vanilla extract
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar OR 3/4 cup white granulated sugarBlack Bean Brownie Batter
  • 2 Tbsp prepared coffee (optional)
  • 2 Tbsp ground flax seed (optional)
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips, divided
  • 1/2 cup pecans or walnuts, chopped (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease an 8” x 8” baking pan; I use my MISTO oil sprayer.  In a food processor, process black beans until smooth.  Add the eggs, oil, cocoa powder, salt, baking powder, vanilla extract, and sugar, and process until smooth.  Add half of the chocolate chips, and pulse a few times or stir, so that the chips are mixed in. Stir in chopped nuts, if using.  Transfer the batter to the baking pan, and sprinkle the remaining chips on top of the brownies.  Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted at the center comes out clean; check during the last 5 minutes so they don’t burn.  When cool, cut into squares.

Black Bean Brownie Batter in Pan

In Pan Before Baking

Baked Black Bean Brownies

In Pan After Baking

I ran the recipe through the Calorie Count Recipe Analyzer assuming the generous 2″x2″ square serving and these are the nutritional results below.  The downside is that it is high in sugar, but not really compared to other desserts.  On the upside, it is high in fiber and protein and low in sodium.

Plus, they are yummy and very chocolatey.  I have seen a recipe online for garbanzo-bean blondies, so we may be trying those soon.

– Stacey

black bean brownies nutrition

Black Bean Brownie Closeup

Espinacas con Garbanzos (Spinach and Chickpeas) – a Spanish dish

Spinach and Garbanzos in BowlI heard about this dish on the Smitten Kitchen blog  and had to try it.  The veggies make it high in both Vitamin A and C and the garbanzos provide both protein and fiber.  What more could you want?

It is delicious and also works for vegetarians as a main dish.   Or, omnivores can serve it as a side to a grilled meat. Apparently, it is normally served in Spain, especially Seville, with small pieces of toast as a tapas dish. 

Of course I made a few changes to the original recipe.  🙂   Feel free to adjust the spinach to garbanzo ratio to suit you and your family’s taste.

Espinacas con Garbanzos (Spinach and Chickpeas)
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
(Serve 4 as a main or 8 as a side)

  • 6 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 pound raw spinach, washed
  • 1/2 pound dried chickpeas, cooked until soft and tender or two 15-oz cans of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup tomato sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes or a few shakes of tabasco
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika (add more if you like, it is tasty without being “hot”)
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • lemon juice, to taste

Spinach and Garbanzos on Plate

  1. Place a large saucepan over medium heat and add the olive oil.  When hot, add the onion and cook a few minutes.
  2. Add the garlic, cook 1 minute, then add the spinach with a pinch of salt and stir well.  Cook until the spinach is wilted and soft.
  3. Add the chickpeas, tomato sauce, spices and all remaining ingredients. Stir until the chickpeas have absorbed the flavors and are hot.
  4. Check for seasoning and serve on fried bread toasts as the Spanish do.

Note about the Smoked Paprika:  You really need to try this stuff as it adds so much flavor.  I found mine at one of the local natural food stores that sells bulk spices.  I understand you can also order it from Penzeys, but apparently, even McCormick has a version.  I have read that they smoke the peppers first  and then dry and grind them.  You might be able to get by with substituting regular paprika and some liquid smoke, but do try to find the smoked paprika if you can.

– Stacey

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