{Black Bean Soup}

Black Bean Soup

It appears that summer is back on the central coast. I’ve spent the last few days walking on the beach, reading in the delightful sun, and deep cleaning my house. Nothing like a little tease of sunshine to bring on early spring cleaning! And at night, I’ve been pushing that sunshine out of my mind and pretending like it’s the deep winter again (well, as deep as it gets around here!), so I can get in my soup making mentality. You see, for Christmas, my mom got me this:

Love Soup

Love Soup by Anna Thomas, who originally wrote Vegetarian Epicure. The book has 160 vegetarian and vegan soups–right up my alley! I love, love, love making soup. It’s so comforting and peaceful and usually you just have to saute a few things and throw them into a big pot together all day. Well, that’s what I thought anyway, until I picked this soup as my first to try: Spicy Black Bean Soup with Sweet Peppers.

Me, well, being me, I didn’t quite read all of the instructions before starting cooking at 4:30 only to later realize how long and involved this soup making process was going to be. A bit of advice: always read the entire recipe before you begin! But you knew that, I’m sure. And maybe not make another crazy meal the night after you make something like this. Just saying. But as labor intensive as this soup was, it was totally worth it. In fact, I think it was one of the best soups I’ve ever made or maybe that I’ve ever had. Really!

Here’s a brief overview of the process.

First, you combine dried black beans, water, onions, and garlic in a large pot and let simmer for 1 to 2 hours.

Black Bean Soup

Meanwhile saute carrots, celery, onion, and garlic with a little olive oil until they brown, about a half hour then add to the soup.

Black Bean Soup

Char 2 bell peppers, 1 red and 1 green on your stove top if you have a gas stove, or in the broiler if you don’t. Sweat them in a paper bag for a few minutes, then remove the skin, chop, and throw in the soup.

Make an Ancho and Guajillo puree by boiling them in water for for a half hour with some garlic, then blend, and add to soup.

Black Bean Soup

Finally toast some cumin seeds and add them to the soup along with vegetable broth, cilantro, and lime juice.

Black Bean Soup

Oh, and make some cornbread while you’re at it.


We made it! But seriously, you should make this–it’s worth the effort, I promise.

The recipe below is how I made it, tweaked a bit from the original. For example, Thomas argued for the inclusion of the Mexican spice epazote in the recipe but, alas, I could not find it at any of my usual haunts. I’ve never used it before, so I have no idea how much this changed the soup.

Black Bean Soup

Black Bean Soup

Adapted from Love Soup by Anna Thomas

Makes 7-8 servings

Print recipe!


1 3/4 cup dried black beans

2 medium yellow onions, chopped

6 cloves garlic, chopped

1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

6 medium carrots, peeled and sliced

2 large stalks celery, sliced

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 large bell peppers, 1 red and 1 greed

1 tablespoon cumin seeds

2 cups vegetable broth

1 small bunch cilantro

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

2 tablespoons ancho chile puree (2 dried ancho chiles + 1 dried guajillo chile + 2 cloves garlic + sea salt)


Rinse beans and place in a large pot with about 10 cups water with half of each of garlic and onions. Bring to a boil then lower to a simmer. Cook, covered, until beans are soft, about 1 to 2 hours. Add a pinch of salt when the beans are soft

Heat oil in a large pan. When the oil is hot, add the carrots and celery along with the remaining onions and garlic. Add a pinch of salt and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables are soft and beginning to brown, about half an hour. When they are done, add to the pot of beans then deglaze the pan with a little bean broth.

Char the bell peppers either on the flame of you gas stove top, in the broiler, or in a 450 degree oven, until the skins are blackened. Place blackened peppers in a paper bag and sweat for a few minutes. Remove the peppers’ skins then core and seed, cut into 1 inch pieces, and add to the soup.

Make your ancho/guajillo chile puree by combing chiles, garlic, and sea salt in a small pot with 1.5 cups water. Bring to a boil then cover and reduce to a simmer, allowing to cook for about half an hour. Let the mixture cool a bit then blend into a thick sauce.

Toast the cumin seeds lightly then grind and add to soup along with the ancho/guajillo chile puree and vegetable broth.

Chop 1/2 of the cilantro and mix into the soup, saving the rest for garnish.

Finally, let the soup simmer for another 20 minutes or so then add a bit of lime juice and more salt, if needed,



{A Meal to Kick Off A New Year Part II}

Grinding the Meat

Hopefully you’ve had enough time to digest ;) yesterday’s pasta post because we’re moving onto part two today: the sausage.

I’m not going to lie, this part grossed me out a lot a little. To start with, I don’t eat much meat and I hadn’t eaten pork in over a year, but Jeff was so excited to try this that I gave in just this one time. Of course, I did had the leftovers for breakfast and lunch, but I didn’t want it to go to waste!

Back to being grossed out (just what you wanted, right?). This task is not for the faint of heart. The sausage oozes and pushes its way through the grinder all while making disgusting squishing noises. I couldn’t help but think of Sweeney Todd the entire time I watched, eyes glued, both horrified and fascinated, as I held the  bowl and Jeff pushed the meat through the grinder. Want to make this yet? Of course, it was some of the best sausage I’ve ever had, but I think I’ll have to let Jeff take the lead on this one from now on!

Ready for the steps? You can do it I promise–you just might have to cover your eyes and ears for a bit like I did!

First, you’ll need some pork shoulder. We bought a 3 pound package and ended up using about half of it for the sausage which was more than enough. You’ll also need 4 cloves of garlic, some salt, fennel seeds, red pepper flakes, and peppercorns.

Pork Shoulder

Cube the meat, and using the kitchen aid meat grinder attachment (or something similar), grind just the meat and garlic through first and set aside in a bowl.

Grinding the Meat

Add salt, fennel seeds, red pepper flakes, and peppercorns and combine thoroughly.

Meat and Spices

Grind the meat and spice mixture through a second time and place in a clean bowl. Cover, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Grinding the Meat

That’s it–homemade sausage! Now excuse me while I go pass out.

Pork Sausage Recipe

Makes about 3 cups ground sausage

Print recipe!


1.5 pounds pork shoulder

1.5 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

4 cloves garlic

1 teaspoon peppercorns


Cut pork shoulder into cubes.

Using the kitchen aid meat grinder attachment (or something similar), grind just the meat and garlic through first and set aside in a bowl.

Add salt, fennel seeds, red pepper flakes, and peppercorns and combine thoroughly.

Grind the meat and spice mixture through a second time and place in a clean bowl. Cover, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

Serve in desired format–case it, fry it, form into patties, you name it!

Note: Next, we combined the sausage meat with the tomato sauce, but you’ll just have to wait till tomorrow to get the rest!

PS–Next time we’re making chicken sausage!

{Homemade Eggels}


After visiting Nautical Bean and eating their eggels about a million times, I decided it was about time to make one on my own. This recipe is less a recipe and more an assemblage, but the results were oh-so-good that I thought I’d just have to share. This would be perfect to fuel you up for any New Year’s Eve dancing or could be modified to use half of a bagel thin or low fat cream cheese to make it more waistline friendly. But we have two more days before we have to worry about that, right?

Eggel Recipe:

Makes 1 eggel

Print recipe!


2 eggs

1 everything bagel

1 tablespoon cream cheese

4-5 thin slices red onion

1 tablespoon salsa

1/4 cup fresh microgreens or sprouts

1 tablespoon butter




Toast bagel.

In a medium frying pan, heat butter until melted. Add eggs and scramble. Sprinkle with desired amounts of salt and pepper.

Spread cream cheese on toasted bagel. Add egg, onion, salsa, and sprouts.


{Barbecue Chicken Pizza}

Barbecue Chicken Pizza

When Jeff and I were dating, we used to love to go to California Pizza Kitchen for their Barbecue Chicken Pizza. When we got older and started cooking on our own, it became our mission to make the best and closest copy at our own home. Now, this pizza is something we make at least once a month, and probably more like once every two weeks. In fact, when I told Jeff I wanted to blog about it, he was so sure that I already had that I had to do a search on my own blog! Like I thought, it wasn’t there, but I’m happy to be sharing the recipe with you now because it’s that good!

There’s just something comforting about BBQ chicken pizza–it tastes like it should be horrible for you, but if you use the right ingredients, it can be a pretty decent meal. We like to use Trader Joe’s barbecue sauce because it actually has real ingredients in it and not all of that processed sugar, but use what you like best. Also, I think the cilantro is the icing on the cake, but I would put cilantro on pretty much everything if I had the choice!

We used our standard pizza dough recipe (below), but you could also use a pre-made one as well. We love the Trader Joe’s dough when we’re feeling lazy!

Pizza Dough Recipe:

Print recipe!


  • 1 cup water
  • 1 package (1/4 oz.) of active dry yeast
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups flour
  1. Measure one cup of warm water (approx. 110 degrees)
  2. Transfer water to medium size bowl
  3. Rehydrate yeast by sprinkling it into the warm water for 5 minutes. Stir to dissolve yeast.
  4. Add first two tablespoons of olive oil, sugar, and salt to the yeast mixture.
  5. Mix in 2 cups of flour
  6. Turn out the dough onto a clean, well-floured surface
  7. Knead the dough for 5-10 minutes until no longer sticky. Add more flour as necessary while you knead
  8. Transfer the kneaded dough into a bowl with the remaining tablespoon of olive oil.
  9. Cover with a moist cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled (about 2 hours).
  10. Punch down and form a tight ball. Allow the dough to rest for 15 minutes before rolling out.
  11. Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees. Let dough rise for another 15 minutes before applying toppings.

Barbecue Chicken Pizza Recipe:

Makes 4 servings

Print recipe!


Pizza dough (see above), rolled out to about 18 inches in diameter

1 chicken breast

1 cup mozzarella cheese, packed

1/2 cup Trader Joe’s barbecue sauce

1/2 red onion, chopped

1/4 cup cilantro

1 teaspoon Smoked Paprika

1 teaspoon Salt

1 teaspoon Pepper

Olive Oil


Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees.

Heat olive oil in a small frying pan over medium heat.

In a small bowl, combine paprika, pepper, salt to form a rub.

Coat chicken breast with rub and place in frying pan. Sear chicken on both sides, remove and cut into strips, then place back in frying pan. Fry until cooked all the way through, about 2-3 minutes. Remove chicken and chop.

Place pizza dough on a large baking sheet or pizza stone. Coat with barbecue sauce then add cheese, red onion, and chicken.

Place in oven and bake for about 15-20 minutes, until cheese is melted and crust has slightly browned.

Top with cilantro, slice, and enjoy!