Flexitarian Favorites…so far

It has been almost a month since I decided to start replacing the meat in my diet for a couple of days a week. I shared this new lifestyle decision with you in my post titled “Less Meat!” I set the goal for two days a week and that has been completely manageable. In fact, I’ve even gone three days in some weeks. If you’ve been following along, you’ve seen posts about my Go Green Bake and my Eggplant and Heirloom Lasagna.

Those were my most involved veggie fixes so far, but I have a few other very simple but tasty favorites too.

I found a recipe for curried egg salad and I can’t get enough of it! I keep forgetting to take pictures of this one, but you can see the finished product in the original post. I’ve also used this as a filling in lettuce wraps instead of on toast just to mix things up a bit.

I am also a fan of flat bread veggie pizzas. Pictured is a pizza margherita. You can make so many different combinations and usually I just use this to finish some odds and ends veggies that are in the refrigerator before they spoil.

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I also tried a recipe from Martha Steward for a Tortilla and Black Bean Pie. It was very tasty! I suggest adding a little extra hot sauce to it. I also replaced the scallions in the original recipe with cilantro. This is what I’ve made for my food swap event coming up next week!

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I had leftover black beans from the pie, so I made Buffalo Black Bean Stuffed Peppers the next night. Basically, I just used 1/4 cup chopped red onion, 1 cup of black beans, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 6 chopped cherry tomatoes, and 3 tablespoons of buffalo sauce for the filling, and topped it with mozzarella and baked it until heated through. A great way to use the black beans in a different way!



Back to Cooking…Finally!

The past month has been a little hectic! I’ve been in the process of moving, so I’ve been transitioning in a lot of areas of my life…including the kitchen! Unfortunately, I was kitchenless for that time period, which also means that I was blog postless. Blog postless? Apparently, I don’t just cook, I make up words too…

Now, I have a kitchen, but I don’t have all of my supplies unpacked and put away. To squelch my cooking cravings I just worked with what I had to make something quick and easy.

First, I sauteed thinly sliced chicken breasts until slightly browned.


I shredded the chicken and added a can of black beans, 5 tablespoons of salsa, 1.5 tablespoons of lime juice, 1/4 cup chopped onion, 1 teaspoon of cumin, and 1/2 teaspoon of chili powder for a little kick. I let this simmer for about 15 minutes.


While the mixture simmered, I cut the top out of two large bell peppers.


I stuffed each pepper with the chicken mixture and topped it with shredded cheddar cheese.


I baked it for about 20 minutes wrapped in foil and another 5 minutes uncovered.


I liked that the filling was protein filled and tasty. It didn’t include carb loaded fillers like rice or bread crumbs. The addition of the lime juice prevented it for getting too dried out while baking. When I make these again I would like to make my own salsa using my recipe from a previous post called Mexican Monday.


I’m looking forward to getting back to my normal challenges next week!

Crockpot Wednesday – Black Bean Soup

I’ve been perfecting my crockpot black bean soup for a few years now. It is usually a vegetarian dish that we have. This time, I’m using the dish to make use of two things I had left over from past meals. First, I had black beans from my Mexican food challenge where I made Verde Beef and Bean, Vexican, and Chorizo Popper Topper. Second, even though I used leftover Thanksgiving ham in my Twice Baked Ham and Potato Casserole, I STILL had ham left. So, I’ll share my simple black bean soup recipe with ham. You can stick to the black bean recipe or add ham or some other ingredient. I bet chicken would be good. Whatever makes you happy!


1 bag of black beans

2-3 cans of broth (chicken or veggie)

2 cans of green chilles

2 cans of chopped tomatoes

1/2 onion; chopped

1 clove of garlic; minced

1 green pepper; chopped

1 cup baked ham; chopped

jalapenos, cheddar cheese, sour cream (garnish)

First, I soak the black beans in water over night.


I add the beans to the crockpot, add broth until the beans are covered (chicken or veggie; whatever I have on hand), 2 cans of green chilles, 2 cans chopped tomatoes, 1/2 of a chopped onion, 1 minced clove of garlic, and one chopped green pepper. I like my soup thicker and this will be pretty thick after the beans are expanding all day. Keep some extra broth on hand if you may want it to be a little more soup like.


And this time, I’m adding chopped ham.


I leave this in the crockpot on low for about 8 hours. You can top this with sour cream, cheddar cheese, and jalapenos. I only had cheddar cheese, so that finished off my soup.



Mexican Monday

One of my favorite memories from Ball State was “Mexican Monday.” It was just a great group of people who got together for lunch at a Mexican restaurant called Puerto Vallarta in Muncie. Today, I’m posting a blog in honor or Mexican Monday, and it is inspired by a friend in Muncie. Bob is working on Muncie’s first ever food truck (here is my post about food trucks in Lexington for my Kentucky followers). He plans to call it “Slop on Top.”

Joe talked to him about the “slop” recipes he has been creating and he said his recent work had been on making a taco inspired dish. He said he was having fun experimenting, so Joe used this for inspiration for my challenge.

My challenge was to create three taco flavored dishes that could be served over rice. He gave me rice, cilantro, chorizo, ground beef, cheddar cheese, a green, orange, and red pepper, jalapeno, banana pepper, tomatoes, avacodao, black beans, and tortilla chips. I also had to calculate the cost of making each dish (which was a really interesting twist compared to last challenges!)


I wanted to make sure that the three different dishes I made would be very distinct from one another. It would be super easy to just add some taco seasoning (which I do keep on hand at all times) to everything and throw it on rice, but where is the fun in that? So, here are the three dishes I created.

Verde Beef and Bean

I browned the beef, added a cup of water, taco seasoning mix, black beans and green peppers and avocado for the “verde” part. I plan to finish up the packets of taco mix I have, and then will start making my own taco seasoning. I let this simmer while I worked on the other dishes. Until 2 years ago, I had only eaten avocado in salads, in guacamole, or other chilled dishes. It is actually really good when it is cooked too! We often throw it on the grill or in a skillet.


The finished dish ($10.54 to make 5-6 servings):


Vegetarian Mexican (or Vexican)

I had two meats to choose from, and I didn’t want to use one of them in two dishes. I thought the dishes would be too similar. I decided to do a vegetarian version, which I suppose would be an important addition to a food truck menu.


I used a banana pepper, leftover super sweet tomatoes from another challenge, red pepper, orange pepper, and onion as the vegetable base and sauteed them together for a bit. I added a tiny bit of garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, and cumin to the vegetables and cooked them until tender.


The finished dish topped with hand grated cheddar ($6.32 for 2 servings):


Chorizo Popper Topper

The final dish was our favorite. I had used chorizo in another past challenge to make orange chorizo soft tacos topped with orange guacamole, but wanted to get more creative. First, I prepared chicken broth and then added finely chopped jalapenos, cream cheese leftover from homemade sushi. I used my immersion blender to make a smooth sauce. This is where the jalapeno popper part of the name comes from. I added the cooked chorizo.


I had enough ingredients to make a fresh pico de gallo (or at least I assumed I had all of the ingredients with no internet help allowed as one of my challenge rules). I used tomatoes, onion, cilantro, and lime. Turns out that other recipes call for jalapenos, garlic, and lemon instead of lime. But it still turned out really well.


I used this as a garnish on the Chorizo Popper Topper, but it would have worked well with any of the three dishes.

The final product ($7.27 for 4-6 servings):


All were tasty, different, and affordable. The best part about this challenge is that we have enough food for Mexican Monday and several other lunches and dinners this week.



A Taste of Lexington’s Latino Culture

In my last post I mentioned that Lexington is always doing something fun. Well, they are at it again this weekend! We attended the Festival Latino de Lexington last year and had been looking forward to coming back this year.

We enjoyed the dancing, music, and presentations by school children from all over the city. But of course, my main interest is the food.

We chose to go to the stand for the Nicaraguan Latin Grill, a restaurant I had been wanting to try for a while now. They have authentic cuisine and I’m told there is great salsa dancing on Tuesday nights! I had shredded marinated beef, rice topped with black beans, and sweet plantains.


Joe had a pork taquito, mixed rice and beans, plantain cakes, and yuca topped with chimmichurri sauce.


Both meals reminded me of my time in Costa Rica. What a great place with great food!

I’m thinking I should add some ethnic cuisine to my challenges. I’ve never tried cooking with yuca or plantains before.

We ended the night with some amazing fresh churros. If you haven’t checked out the festival (and the food!) yet, you still have time. Enjoy!