Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Pinto, Black & Red Bean Salad with Grilled Corn & Avocado

While we're on our soup kick (you have to check out this recipe for posole!), we thought we'd share a recipe that shares many similar ingredients, but is a bit lighter.... 


1 cup halved heirloom grape or cherry tomatoes $
1 teaspoon salt, divided
3 ears shucked corn $
1 medium white onion, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 jalapeño pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil $
Cooking spray
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/3 cup fresh lime juice
1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added kidney beans, rinsed and drained
2 diced peeled avocados $


1. Preheat the grill to medium-high heat.

2. Place the tomatoes in a large bowl, and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Let stand 10 minutes.

3. Brush corn, onion, and jalapeño evenly with oil. Place vegetables on grill rack coated with cooking spray. Grill corn for 12 minutes or until lightly charred, turning after 6 minutes. Grill onion slices and jalapeño 8 minutes or until lightly charred, turning after 4 minutes. Let vegetables stand 5 minutes. Cut kernels from cobs. Coarsely chop onion. Finely chop jalapeño; discard stem. Add corn, onion, and jalapeño to tomato mixture; toss well. Add remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, cilantro, and next 4 ingredients (through kidney beans) to corn mixture; toss well. Top with avocado.

So, so, so good! 

It's cold outside, but that's okay because we've got a belly full of Posole (poh-SOH-lay)

It's been a cold couple of days in Birmingham, with overnight lows in the mid 30s and daytime highs in the upper 50s/lower 60s.  Of we've got absolutely nothing to complain about, given what our friends and family in the Northeast and Midwest are experiencing right now.  Still, the cold can really settle in the bones and there's nothing better than a hearty soup to warm you up.

Jason dog-eared this recipe in Bon Appetit nearly a year ago and has been waiting for a chance to make it.  Posole (aka pozole) has a rich history, which you can read while you're slow-cooking the meat.  Heads up, this recipe takes hours to make but is so worth the wait!

Note: Photo is from JefferyW's Flickr .  We were so anxious to dig into our bowls that we forgot to take a photo.



  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 2-pound boneless pork shoulder (Boston butt)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced


  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 plum tomatoes, diced
  • 6 cups low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 28-ounce can undrained pinto beans
  • 1 28-ounce can white hominy, drained
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes with juices, puréed in blender until smooth
  • 1 tablespoon oregano (preferably Mexican)
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Shredded mild cheddar
  • Chopped fresh cilantro
  • Lime wedges
  • Flour tortillas



  • Preheat oven to 275°. Line a small roasting pan with foil. Mix cumin, garlic powder, and smoked paprika in a small bowl. Rub spice mix all over pork. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place pork in pan and cover with sliced onion. Pour 1/2 cup water in the bottom of pan. Cover pan tightly with foil and roast until meat is very tender, 5–6 hours. Let pork rest until cool enough to handle.
  • Using 2 forks, shred pork into bite-size pieces. Skim fat from juices in roasting pan; reserve meat. DO AHEADCan be made 2 days ahead. Cover and chill pork and juices separately.


  • Heat oil in a large pot over medium- low heat. Add onion and sauté until trans- lucent, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the diced fresh tomatoes and stir until softened, about 2 minutes longer. Stir in broth and next 5 ingredients. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Cover; simmer, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.
  • Add reserved pork to posole. Simmer uncovered 30 minutes longer for flavors to meld. Season to taste with salt and pepper, adding reserved juices from roast pork, if desired. Divide among bowls, garnish with shredded cheese, cilantro, and lime wedges, and serve with flour tortillas.


It's unanimous. We all loved this recipe. Which is a good thing because we forgot to halve the recipe... we've got leftovers galore. C'mon over! 

Monday, October 8, 2012

This Weekend's Harvest

After spend the night sleeping in a cardboard box you wouldn't think I'd want to spent any more time outside, but the front yard garden bounty was calling my name and I couldn't resist.  

We're growing okra for the first time this year, but only one plant since it's not the most popular veggie in our house. I like it, Jason tolerates it, and the girls hate it. Okra just seems to be one of the veggies that elicits strong feelings!

Check out the okra on the right, though. It's a monster! I'm not sure what the okray world record is (can't find it online), but I did find some pretty humongous ones and in the process found a blog I think I might need to follow. Look at their okra...

Wow - talk about long.  Though I'm not sure it's good for eating.  I seem to remember reading something somewhere about larger okra being too tough.

We don't have a harvest nearly this size. Usually just 3-4 okras a week.  We've been using them mostly in breakfast hash or veggie stir fries, but would love some new recipes to try. Do you have a favorite way to prepare it? Please share!

From Soggy Dumpster Sandwiches To Chicken Corn Chowder

Temperatures are starting to dip, even here in the deep South. So of course we marked the occasion by sleeping in cardboard boxes on the sidewalk this weekend! 

Me (back, 2nd from L), Hannah (front, R)
and fellow Girl Scout Troop 27 members

Let me explain.  Hannah's Girl Scout troop is working on its Bronze Award.  When they learned that Alabama is the worst in the nation for child homelessness, they knew they had to do something.  They contacted the local YWCA to ask how they could help and learned that most homeless kids in Birmingham go to school, but many don't have the necessary supplies.

School supplies?  We know how to gather school supplies!  We helped collect thousands of dollars worth of supplies last year to restock schools that were destroyed by the deadly April 27th tornadoes.

So we got to work. We toured the YWCA, found a closet we could set up for school supplies, secured storage bins and started our campaign. We created promotional materials and a Facebook page and started talking to friends and neighbors.  The project culminated this weekend in a "Homeless for the Night" event at our Neighborhood Walmart.

The girls layered up and "took to the streets" to collect supplies ....

and donations ...

LOTS of donations! We haven't counted it all yet, but we're guesstimating it's about $600 (including a $50 check from one older woman and another $20 cash from a young woman who said she lived at the YWCA for a couple months earlier this year).

After a couple hours, community activist Titus Battle joined us to share his story.

Titus ran away from his adoptive family when he was 14 and lived on the street of NYC till he was 21.  He eventually joined the Army and went to college (remarkable, since he quit school in 8th grad!), studying psychology and philosophy.  30 years later, he still crusades against child abuse and for homeless children.

The girls had plenty of questions for Titus.  What did you eat when you were homeless? (answer: way too many soggy sandwiches out of dumpsters)  Where did you take a shower? ("shower? I didn't take a shower for years") Did you see anyone die on the streets? (yes, a young teenager girl who he will never forget).

Once he left, they played a quick game of cards...

then hunkered down for a night "on the streets".

It was surprisingly warm in those boxes!

Still, we were all quite happy to get back to our warm houses, with good food to put in our bellies.  For Hannah and me, that meant Cooking Light's Chicken Corn Chowder.


  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 6 green onions (aka scallions)
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups chopped cooked chicken breasts
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper (we prefer freshly ground, but were out)
  • 20 ounces of frozen corn kernels, thawed 
  • 14 ounces chicken broth (fat-free, less-sodium if you want to Cook Light)
  • 2 cups milk (fat-free to Cook Light; but we used 1%)
  • shredded cheddar cheese ** the recipe says "1/2 cup (2 ounces)", but we're pretty sure 1/2 cup is actually 4 ounces. ACK!! We were wrong! ** 

Melt butter in Dutch oven or large sauce pan over medium-high heat.

Remove green tops from onions, chop the tops and set aside.  Thinly slice white portions of each onion. Add to pan and saute for 2 minutes.

Add flour to pan, cook 1 minute, stirring constantly with a whisk.  Stir in chicken, salt, pepper, 10 ounces of corn, and broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes.

While mixture simmers, combine the remaining corn and milk in a blender and process until smooth. Add milk mixture to the pan; simmer 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

Ladle 2 cup of chowder into each soup bowl; sprinkle with green onion tops and top with 2 tablespoons of cheese.

Tanya  -- It's warm and creamy and someone else cooked it for me.  I say "Very good!"

Jason -- It's quite good!

Miranda -- I like it. I wish it had less chunky corn in it. Maybe you could blend most of that up next time?

Olivia -- I'm going to get another bowl.

Hannah -- Did I eat enough to have ice cream for dessert?

Want to help feed hungry Alabamians? Here's a link that will tell you where to donate your food, time, and money.