Sweet Potato & Black Bean Chili

So making soups in the crock pot on Sunday has become a routine. Putting everything in the crock pot right after breakfast is easy and I have the rest of the day free.

I have read several recipes for this dish, some with ground turkey, or veggie crumbles, but, since I am trying to watch processed soy products I chose to keep it simple.

Sweet Potato Black Bean Chili

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–  2 Sweet potatoes (medium size)

– 2 cans, approximately 30oz (cans of no salt added fire roasted diced tomatoes (I use Muir Glen because I can usually find them on sale at Whole Foods and this week there was a coupon as well)

– 2 cans of black beans, or you can make your own, I happened to have 2 cans

– 2-1/2 of diced bell peppers (any color will work)

– 1 diced onion ( yellow or purple, I used a Spanish yellow because that is what I had)

– 1 tbls cumin

– 1tbls chili powder

– 1 tsp cayenne (optional – I was making this for the 8yo too, so I just spiced up my bowl with siracha)

– S & P to taste

Wash, peel and cube the sweet potato, dice the onion and peppers. Add to a crock pot with beans tomatoes and spices. Put on the top, let simmer on  low for 7-8 hours or high for 4-5 hours. I did add a (1) cup of water about 1/2 way through, you can judge how thick you would like it.

Serve with cornbread, or tortilla chips, if you like, add a little hot sauce of your choosing and Enjoy!

Chocolate Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Frosting

Recently my family gathered to celebrate my cousins birthday, it was a significant one ( lordy, lordy). We do not often get together for birthdays, but it was great seeing my family.

Amy, the birthday girl, requested carrot cake, so I made my normal recipe but the Maple Cream Cheese frosting was courtesy of Smitten Kitchen.

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I also made Chocolate Cupcakes with Salted Caramel Frosting, which is similar to the cake I have made for Steve before and it ws part of my very first blog post (Here We Go!).

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies

Chilly weather makes me want to bake, make soups, and curl up on the couch, so this weekend, I did all of these. I was looking for a new cookie recipe and kept seeing Mexican Hot Chocolate cookies, brownies, cupcakes, so I decided to try them. They were a hit.

I did use 1/2 whole wheat flour and the cocoa and chips were were dark chocolate

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies

Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies

(adapted from MarthaStewart.com)

  • 1 1/8 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/1/8 cup while wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder ( I used Hershey’s Special Dark)
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon + 1/4 tsp for rolling
  • 1/2 teaspoon chile powder (optional) + 1/4 tsp for rolling
  • pinch of cayenne (optional)
  • 1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees, sift together flour, cocoa powder, cream of tartar, cinnamon, chili powder, baking soda, and salt.

In a large bowl, beat butter and 1 1/2 cups sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy. Scrape down side of bowl. Add eggs and beat to combine. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture and beat until combine.

In a small bowl, combine remaining 1/4 cup sugar, cinnamon and chili powder (if using). Using heaping tablespoons, form balls of dough and roll in the sugar/spice mixture. Bake on parchment/silpat-lined baking sheets. Bake until cookies are set in center and begin to crack, about 10 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through


Richmond Beeristoric Tour 2013- AKA Don’t forget your buddy

I had the pleasure of joining over 100 beer enthusiasts on Sunday November 10th  for the 4th annual Richmond Beeristoric tour. Our guide ( 1 of 2) Mike Gorman (the second guide Eric Mink) led us through a history of beer in Richmond , that I never knew. From “Boom to Bust” we took in local breweries, soon to be breweries, restaurants and of course I snuck down to visit Richmond’s own Urban Cidery, Blue Bee, we took in all of the history and ALL of the beer.

Richmond is steeped in beer history dating back to 1585… and well I could give you a bunch of info and facts, but fortunately the lovely Megan Marconyak has covered it in her articular for Richmond Magazine.

So I will focus on the beer. Our morning started at Mekong, the Southeast regions #1 Craft Beer bar for 2 years running, to catch our ride. Our gracious host, Mr. An Bui, started everyone off with a tasting of coffee stouts to get our day started.


Williamsburg Alewerks Coffe Royale and Hardywood Gingerbread Stout

Fist up was a visit to  Capital Ale House and tasted Midnight Brewery Rockville Red, a 5.5% ABV Irish Red.

Second stop, “Yuengling Beer Caves”, where we sampled the Extra Billy’s Proverbial Porter brewed by medal winning Brandon Tolbert,  ( thanks Brandon!).

Extra Bill'y's

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Southern Railway Taphouse was our 3rd stop where we were able to try out Lickinghole Creek Craft Breweries “Punkin Ain’t Easy”, an 8% ABV pumpkin beer brewed with sugar pumpkins from Lickinghole’s own farm, no spice, just pumpkin. Great beer Sean-Thomas Pumphrey.

lickinghole taphouse

We stopped by Legend Brewery for a tasting of their Bourbon Brown Beer and where I may have snuck a quick trip next door to Blue Bee. If you haven’t visited, please do, the Harvest Ration is going quick, and the Charred Ordinary is possibly my favorite cider.

We also got to see the up and going space that will be Triple Crossing.

triple crossing

The Jefferson Hotel offered up a more historic twist, where we were given a “prescription” for our beer, just as you would have received during prohibition. There we tasted El Duderino (well a Blue Bee Apple Brandy Barrel Aged version, an homage to The Dude). This may be the beer that gets me back out to Center of the Universe.


Rounding out the evening was a visit to what was once the home of Richmond Brewery (now Todd Lofts Building) for a a sample of Strangeways Brewing  Bourbon Barrel Aged Phantasmic IPA

Just down the street we ended our day at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery for a tasting of their award winning Gingerbread Stout, 2013 and  Isley Brewing, one of Richmond’s newest brewery in Scott’s Edition for a sampling of their Jane Wit and Decadence Porter

This is an amazing tour, full of history, fun and some great beer. If you get a chance, check it out next year, but gird your liver my friends, and hold onto your buddy.

I used to Blog

I feel/know, I haven’t blogged in a while. The summer has been a blur. Work was very busy, a friends wedding that wasn’t, vacation, and honestly, a lot of great intentions of posting that I didn’t get around to.

A quick recap; I did a little canning, ate delicious tomatoes from my garden, waited patiently for my fig tree to bear fruit, made 2 types of lemon chess pie that were quickly devoured at a fire pit/beer party/pig roast, drank lots of rose and had a pretty good summer.

Fall is here, so soups and heartier things will abound, along with working on more Gluten Free recipes ( lucky me, I found out I have a wheat allergy), and maybe a little talking about exercise and eating well.


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Grilled okra, surprisingly delicious and easy

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Lovely beets to be roasted for refrigerator pickled beets

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Sungolds from the garden, we had so many

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fresh corn, sungolds, tomatoes and basil for a picnic salad

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first try at canning peaches, peaches from Carter Mountain orchard (Thanks Jess!)

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2 types of lemon chess pie

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a quick beach vacation

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Figs! from my very own fig tree

From the Garden

We finally planted a garden, 2 4×4 raised beds filled with soil and beer grain compost. Tomatoes, peppers, basil and cilantro.

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Sungolds courtesy of Farmer Russell

After weeks of rain off and on, and being patient, our little garden started yielding tomatoes.

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So a quick summer salad was in order

Israeli Cous Cous & Tomato salad with a Lemon Dressing

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1 bag Israeli cous cous, cooked according to directions


oregano (if you have it, I was gifted an oregano plant and added it)

tomatoes (cherry, sungold, whatever is fresh and in season)

1-2 green onions (you could sub a shallot as well)

optional – 1/2 a can of artichokes, diced

1 lemon, juiced

1 tablespoon dijon mustard

1 clove of garlic minced

1/3 cup of oil ( I used grapeseed, but olive oil or even a canola would be fine)

salt and pepper to taste

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halve tomatoes, chop onion, tear basil, chop oregano. Mix lemon juice, mustard, garlic, oil ( I use a jelly jar with a lid to mix dressing). Add tomatoes, artichokes, onions and dressing to the cooked cous cous, mix well, taste for seasoning. Let sit for about an hour in the fridge. Serve and enjoy


Sugar Snap Peas and Pasta with Ricotta, Pepper and Lemon

I admit, I am not a fan of peas. When they are in a soup or a dish, I will eat them begrudgingly, but a whole pile of peas? No way (see also cooked carrots, blech!).

Yep, I am picky about vegetables, it is a textural issue.

So we got Sugar Snap Peas in our Dominion Harvest Box, which had been sitting in the fridge for a few days, mainly because I had no idea what to do with them. After a little reading, I decided on combining a few recipes together and here is what I came up with.

Sugar Snap Peas over Pasta with Ricotta, Pepper and Lemon

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fresh sugar snap peas, about 1 lb

2/3 cup ricotta (whole or part skim)

1 lemon, zested and juiced


fresh ground black pepper to taste

4 servings Penne pasta ( I used Gluten Free)

basil (I added this at the last minute because I have a ton in the garden)


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Wash and snap the peas removing the string from 1 side and slice on the diagonal. Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, add the peas and let cook for 3 minutes, remove, rinse in cold water. Add the pasta to the same pot and boil according to directions.

Add pasta, peas, ricotta, lemon zest, generous amount of pepper, basil, and lemon juice and stir to combine. Adjust for salt, Enjoy!





Citrus Beet Salad with Feta

This weeks salad, brought to you by the letter “B” for beets. I can say it is only recently that I have learned to like beets, but now, roasted beets are a regular occurrence on salads, and I have been researching a few pickled beet recipes.

Citrus Beet Salad with Feta


1 bunch beets, washed, peeled and quartered (reserve the beet tops for another salad)

1-2 tablespoons coconut oil

2 lemons, zested and juiced (or an orange)

salt and pepper to taste

feta – I used Lovers Retreat Feta from our harvest box

Bibb lettuce



Melt coconut oil and add 1/2 the zest to it. Toss beets with coconut oil, salt and pepper. Roast at 400 for approximately 15 minutes, stir, roast 15-20 minutes longer until beets are tender

Let them cool, toss with the lemon or orange juice and remainder of the zest, serve with crumbled feta over lettuce (I used lovely bibb lettuce from our harvest box)

Serve and enjoy! You should also roast more beets and store them for salads that week.

Marinated Collard Green Salad

In our Dominion Harvest box last Wednesday we received a lovely bunch of fresh collard greens. Nornally I would fix these pretty traditionally, cooked down with vegetable broth and lots of garlic, red pepper and onions; but that didn’t seem very fresh and “summery” (that’s a word, right?). So off to  my favorite site for pretty food pictures and recipe ideas, Tastespotting. I came across this recipe from The Right Recipe for Overnight Marinated Collard Greens Salad.  With a few adjustments, it was the perfect salad for our Memorial Day cookout.

Overnight Marinated Collard Green Salad

(original recipe serves 8, I made about 1/2 )



1/4-1/3 lb (approximately) pound fresh collard greens, washed

4 grated grated carrots

1 bell pepper (I had a yellow one on hand, but orange or red would be fine as well), cored and thinly sliced

1 small onion, thinly sliced (purple or white)

1/4 cup rice vinegar

1 tablespoons maple syrup (original recipe used sugar)

1/4 cup light olive oil

1 -2 tsp brown mustard

1 teaspoon celery seed

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

“Cut the thick center vein out of the collard green leaves then stack several leaves together, roll into a cylinder, hold together and thinly slice to make narrow strips.  Repeat with remaining leaves and transfer to a large bowl.  Stir in carrots, bell pepper, and onion. In a small sauce pan, whisk together vinegar,  maple syrup, oil,  mustard,  celery seed,  salt and pepper and bring to a boil.  Pour the hot dressing over the vegetables and toss to coat well.  Season with salt and pepper if desired. ”


The recipe called for placing all the ingredients in a large ziploc bag and letting it marinate over night. I forgot to start this the night before, so I started it in the morning, let it sit in a covered bowl in the fridge for 6-7 hours and it turned out well

Back in the kitchen

Spring has sprung and summer is fast approaching and that means farmers markets and CSA boxes. We are doing Dominion Harvest  right now, and I really like it. You can choose weekly or every other week deliveries (we do every 2 weeks right now). On Wednesday’s a  red box full of veggies, eggs, cheese and sometimes a little surprise (we got jam our first week) are delivered.

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Our first weeks bounty, kale, bok choy, strawberries, shitake mushrooms, lettuce, spring onions, cheese and eggs

This week our box contained collards (recipe for a salad coming next week) more eggs and cheese, shitakes, strawberries, rainbow chard, spring onions and radishes. Now I was excited about everything except the radishes. What to do? I am not a fan of raw radishes so it was off to the oracle of ideas, twitter. A few ideas to quick pickle them, slice and eat with fresh butter and salt and then a suggestion to roast  them. Roasted veggies, yes.

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Roasted Radishes with Spring Onion

1 bunch radishes, washed, tops trimmed off (save those and add them to a salad) and quartered

1 large spring onion, sliced


salt and pepper

italian seasoning

rep pepper flakes (optional)

Toss the radishes and onion with oil, salt, pepper, italian seasoning and red pepper flakes. Spread on a sheet pan, roast at 400 degrees for 40-45 minutes, stirring half way through. Delicious! Roasting takes the “bite” out of the radishes, if you are not a fan, this recipe should change your mind.

Picture 011Enjoy! Next up, Overnight Marinated Collard Salad