Smokey Black Beans and Rice

Smokey Black Beans & Rice

Smokey Black Beans & Rice

A good friend living in Nicaragua (see footnote) asked if I could post a recipe or two that would work for her, given the lack of gourmet grocery stores in her part of the world. Having lived there myself, years ago, I knew gallo pinto, or rice and beans, was a staple, and she confirmed nothing had changed. So to help out – here is a great recipe to spice things up a bit!

This is best done with a crock pot / slow cooker; but you can also make this in a regular pot on the stove, cooking over low heat. You may need to stir at times to keep things from sticking and burning to the bottom of your pot.

Smokey Black Beans and Rice

Serves 8 – 10, depending on your serving size. I used one big ladle per serving.


4 Tablespoons of olive oil (you could use vegetable or peanut oil – whatever you have)

1 onion, chopped – any type will do. I used a Vidalia

1 red bell pepper, cored/seeded, and chopped

1 green bell pepper, cored/seeded, and chopped

1 large carrot, peeled and chopped

4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

8 cups cooked (and drained) black beans

1 cup uncooked white rice

3 Tablespoons smoked paprika

2 Tablespoons black pepper

(I didn’t use any salt – personal choice.)

5 cups liquid – I used 3 cups of unsalted vegetable stock and 2 cups of water.


Heat the oil in a large pan and saute the onion, bell peppers, carrot, and garlic for about 10 minutes. When the onions start to become translucent, you are ready to move on.

Sauteing the vegetables.

Sauteing the vegetables.

Put the black beans in the crock pot, stir in the sauteed vegetables.

Mix in the uncooked rice, smoked paprika, and black pepper.

Pour in the 5 cups of liquid. Gently stir into the mix. You want enough liquid to just cover the rice, beans, and vegetables.

Just before cooking started.

Just before cooking started.

Cover and simmer for 8 hours, or until the rice has absorbed all of the liquid.


Pairs well with fried plantain slices dusted with a bit of sugar and cinnamon.

This is perfect in any climate – from the wonderfully warm temperatures of Nicaragua, to the frozen tundra I currently find myself inhabiting in Virginia.

* If you want to help children in need, and can spare a few dollars a month – please consider sending a donation to Thanks!

Who ordered all this snow? Not me.

Who ordered all this snow? Not me.






Veggie Enchilada Casserole


Veggie Enchilada Casserole!

Ring in the new year on a saucy note with a spicy vegetable enchilada casserole. Stuffed with black beans, corn, potatoes, and Colby Jack cheese, then topped with a rich tomato-based sauce that has a good bite from chopped green chilies – this dish is perfect for those who are busy entertaining during the holidays. And it pairs well with beer, red wine, and even a decent champagne or sparkling wine. What more do you need?

The best part? You can make the sauce a few days in advance, freeze it, and then you are left with only 25 minutes of prep time and a half hour of cooking time. Great food in under an hour!

For the sauce:

Put the following ingredients in a stock pot, stir, and then apply enough heat to simmer for twenty minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking on the bottom of the pan. Let cool, then transfer to a blender or food processor. Blend until you have a nice smooth sauce. Store in the freezer until you are ready to make the enchiladas. On the day you make them, thaw the sauce either in a microwave oven or in a sauce pan on the stove top. Bring it back to a simmer, then you are ready to go!

2 cups of vegetable broth

1 can of diced tomatoes

1 can of tomato sauce

2 small cans of chopped green chilies

1 small can of tomato paste

4 cloves minced garlic

1 tablespoon cayenne pepper

1 tablespoon cumin

1 teaspoon onion powder

For the enchiladas:

4 medium Russet potatoes, diced into pieces a little smaller than, well, you know, dice.

A few dashes of olive oil

1 can of cooked black beans

1 can yellow corn

16 ounces of shredded Colby Jack cheese. Vegan option: any nondairy variety such as Daiya-brand Jack cheese will do!

12 corn tortillas (six inch diameter) or 6 flour tortillas (twelve inch diameter)

Optional: sour cream for the final topping. Vegan option: try Vegan Gourmet nondairy sour cream!


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. You will also need a fairly large saute pan, a 13 x 9 inch casserole dish, and a dinner plate.

1. Saute the diced potatoes with the olive oil until the potatoes are soft, about 20 minutes. While they are cooking, check to see if your sauce is hot yet, and then get the rest of your mis en plas. Once the potatoes are done, remove from heat. You are ready to assemble the enchiladas!

2. If you are using the twelve-inch flour tortillas, cut in half. This will help the enchiladas fit in the casserole dish.

3. Put a few spoonfuls of sauce in the casserole dish. Spread evenly on the bottom of the dish. You don’t need much; you just want a barrier between the tortilla and the dish surface.

4. Place a tortilla on the dinner plate. Coat the tortilla with a thin spread of sauce, then spoon on some potato, black beans, and corn. Finish the filling with a sprinkle or two of shredded cheese.

5. Roll up the tortilla, being careful to keep as much of the filling inside the enchilada as possible. Place it in the casserole dish. Repeat until you have used all of your tortillas.

6. Drizzle more sauce on the enchiladas. You can also add any leftover potatoes, black beans, and/or corn. Finally, top with the remaining shredded cheese.

7. Bake in your preheated oven for 30 minutes.

Serve topped with a dollop of sour cream. This dish works well alone or with added side dishes such as rice, stir fried green beans, or both. And don’t forget your beverages!

Buen provecho, mis amigos!


The whole enchilada!

The whole enchilada!









Chicken Enchilada Casserole


Step Two of my complete, three-part Tex-Mex dinner. As you may recall, the black bean corn cilantro salsa was the opener, used as a dip for chips. Hopefully you saved some for this next adventure!

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. or Gas Mark 3 for those who use it.

You will need:

9 x 12 inch rectangular glass baking dish

4 cups of black bean corn cilantro salsa

10 – 12 corn tortilla’s, each approximately 8 inches in diameter if you can get them

16 oz. shredded Colby Jack cheese

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 Tablespoon of chili powder

1 Tablespoon of cumin

1/2 cup sour cream

Getting started:

In a large stock pot, simmer the chicken breasts in water or chicken broth until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Don’t eyeball it – use a thermometer or at least know the fastest way to the nearest emergency room. Oh yeah, have plenty of clear liquids on hand. You will need those when you recover from salmonella poisoning.

165 degrees F. Learn it. Love it. Live it.

Once the chicken is fully cooked, remove the breasts from the liquid and set aside to cool for about 10 minutes. Then, using two forks, shred the chicken breasts.Discard the liquid.

Add the cumin and the chili powder to the shredded chicken. Mix thoroughly.

Place the tortillas in damp paper towels and either steam in the oven for 5 minutes or in a microwave oven for 45 seconds to one minute. This will make the tortillas much more flexible and reduce the chance of rips and tears.

Putting it all together:

Take about a half cup of the salsa and spread it inside the glass baking dish.

Now, take one tortilla (Be careful! They are probably still very warm!) and sprinkle a little bit of shredded cheese inside.

Add about two spoonfuls of shredded chicken, making sure to spread it out.

Spoon in a little more salsa.

Now roll the tortilla up like a fat cigar, then place in the baking dish. If you are using 8 inch diameter tortillas and you have a 9 inch wide dish, this will give you a half inch of open space at each end of the tortilla.

Repeat the process until you have filled the baking dish.

Now add any remaining chicken, cheese and salsa on top.

Loosely cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes.

When serving, add a dollop of sour cream on top of each plate!

Pairs well with da Vinci Chianti 2010.

Chicken Enchilada Casserole

Black Bean Corn Cilantro Salsa


Making black bean corn cilantro salsa is actually step one to my three-step, complete Tex-Mex dinner. This recipe is easy to make and functions as a salsa for dipping chips as well as the base sauce for step two: chicken enchilada casserole. Today is just one of those “we want good tasting food but nothing too complex”: kinda days. If I really felt ambitious, I would have made my patented “Boot Stompin’ Kick Butt” Salsa. But I’m not. Maybe next time.

This version of salsa is reminiscent of my days stationed in Southern California. Back in the day, every restaurant used fresh ingredients, mostly those grown right there in California. They had a low carbon footprint before the term was cool.

This made about 6 cups, but the amount will vary based on how long you let this simmer.


1 can of crushed tomatoes (28 oz)

1 can of chopped green chiles (4.5 oz)

1 cup of corn kernels

1/2 cup of cooked black beans

2 fresh jalapeno peppers, seeded

4 sprigs of fresh cilantro

1 teaspoon of minced garlic

1 teaspoon of cumin

1 teaspoon of ground black pepper


Put the seeded jalapeno peppers into a food processor.

Before: Jalapeno Peppers

Add the leaves off of the cilantro sprigs, then pulse two or three times, just enough to chop everything up.

After - pulsed jalapeno and cilantro

Add this, along with the other ingredients into a stock pot or large sauce pan.

Cover and simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally.

Black Bean Corn Cilantro Salsa

The longer you can simmer this salsa, the better it will taste. The best option is to let it cool, then refrigerate it until the next day. This will give the flavors time to bloom!

Hot or cold, it is ready for dipping with your favorite chips! Just make sure you save a good amount for the chicken enchilada casserole!

Turkey Enchiladas with Molé Sauce


Tempting the Snowmen with Turkey Enchiladas with Molé Sauce.

The Eastern Shore farms would not be able to harvest as well as they do without the migrant workers. These Latino workers put in a hard day’s work so that you and I can buy those fresh vegetables. As a tribute to their culture, I decided to combine the traditional “American” turkey with a special sauce found throughout Mexico. This sauce is made in homes throughout the land and there are as many recipes as there are “casas.” Here is my version of…

Doug’s Famous Molé Sauce
4 red arbol chilés
2 New Mexico chilés
1/4 c. vegetable oil
1/2 c. white onion, coarsely chopped
1 c. mango, peeled and cubed
1 c. cocktail peanuts
1/2 c. walnuts, shelled, chopped
2 c. chicken stock
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon clove
3 oz. dark chocolate
1/4 c. heavy cream

Turkey Enchiladas
4 cups turkey breast, roasted, shredded
2 cups Colby Jack cheese, shredded
3 cans green chilés (use the small cans)
8 flour tortillas (8 or 10 inch diameter)

Prepping the Peppers
Prepare the arbol and New Mexico chilés by placing them in a medium sauce pan filled halfway with water. Heat until the water starts to boil, then remove from heat and cover for 30 minutes.

Put on some gloves or put your hands in plastic baggies when handling the peppers. No need to get the oils from the peppers on your hands. It can be a tearful experience…
Drain the water and carefully remove the peppers. BE CAREFUL – THEY MAY STILL BE HOT.
Remove the stems. Slice open the peppers and scrape away the seeds. The skin/pulp is what you will need. Set aside until needed. (see recipe.)

Getting started on the Molé Sauce
Using a large sauce pan, heat the vegetable oil and then sauté the onion, mango, peanuts and walnuts, stirring occasionally, until the onions become translucent.
Add the chicken stock, followed by the arbol chilés and the New Mexico chilés, sesame seeds, garlic, ginger, cinnamon, allspice and clove. Simmer for 20 minutes.
Remove from heat. Cover. When cool, place in refrigerator and let the flavors meld together overnight.

The next dayFinishing the sauce and putting together the Turkey Enchiladas
Puree the sauce mixture, then strain into a medium sauce pan. Add a little more chicken stock or water to the mash if you are not getting much liquid dripping through the strainer. You want about a cup of liquid when you are done. Discard the solids.

Add the chocolate and the heavy cream. Using medium heat, stir constantly with a wooden spoon. Warm up the sauce until the chocolate and the cream have been totally incorporated. The sauce should be smooth and may look like a thick chocolate drink. Be careful to not scald the sauce! Remove from heat in order to assemble the enchiladas.

Steam the tortillas. I wrap them in damp paper towels and heat them in the microwave oven for 20 seconds or so. You could use a steamer if you want. You just need them pliable enough so that they roll up without cracking.

Take one tortilla, place a half cup of turkey and a half cup of shredded cheese in the center. Top with a touch of the green chilés, to taste. With a spoon, spread the mixture evenly on the tortilla. Roll the tortilla up like a cigar, but not that tight! Place in a baking dish large enough to hold 8 of the rolled up tortillas.

Complete all of the tortillas, placing them in the baking dish. Top with a little more cheese if you like, then slather the molé sauce on top and cover with foil. Bake (reheat, really) in the oven at 350 degrees F. for 30 minutes.

This recipe makes 8 enchiladas and enough molé sauce for a lot more. Use what you want then freeze the rest for another time. Pairs well with black beans, corn and a nice glass of Toasted Head Merlot (2007.)

If you want a real adventure, pour some sauce in a coffee mug and take a swig! Buen Provecho!

Tex-Mex on the East Coast?


Sure enough, this displaced Texano and his familia had an awesome time last night team cooking a fabulous batch of chicken fajitas and Mexican rice. If you aren’t familiar with the name, it’s pronounced “fa-hee-tas” with the emphasis on the “hee,” but I digress…
We had four cooks, no injuries and enough food to feed everyone plus some.

The recipes came off the Internet, given to me by one of the sous chefs, so I can’t give credit where credit is due, but I’ll tell you up front, they aren’t mine…I only wish they were! These turned out great and I do believe that we will be using these again, many times!

Here we go:

Chicken Fajitas and Mexican Rice

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast, pounded flat

2 Tablespoons olive oil
3 Tablespoons lime juice
2 cloves garlic
1 jalapeno, seeded
salt and pepper to taste

Put the marinade ingredients into a blender and puree. Put the flattened chicken into a gallon-sized zip lock bag and add the marinade puree. Seal the bag up and let the chicken soak for 30 minutes or so (in a cooler or refrigerator – no need to take chances!)


3 potatoes, cut into small cubes
3 zucchini, also cut into small cubes
1 yellow squash, cut into small cubes (see a trend?)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 Tablespoons cayenne pepper
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1 Tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Put the potatoes, zucchini and squash in a glass baking dish. Add oil and seasonings; mix well.
Bake in a 375 degree oven until potatoes are soft; should take about 30 minutes, maybe more.

Now for the arroz Mexicano:

2 Cups long grain white rice
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 white onion, chopped
1 cup of your favorite salsa (I use Mrs. Renfros, out of Fort Worth Texas)
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped

Soak the rice in a bowl of hot water for about 5 minutes. Drain, rinse and shake dry.

Heat the vegetable oil in a large, deep skillet over medium high heat. Add the rice and toast – stirring often to prevent too much sticking to the pan. Do this for about ten minutes; the rice should start to turn tan, slightly brown, but not too much!
Meanwhile, put the onion, salsa and garlic into a blender. Puree, then add to the rice mixture and cook until the liquid is absorbed.
Don’t ask questions – now add 3 cups of water, and the chopped jalapeno. Mix well, then cook over medium heat until the rice is tender. This will take about ten more minutes.
Remove from heat; cover.

Back to the fajitas…

1 large white onion, peeled and cut into slices
1 green bell pepper, seeded and sliced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced
2 Tablespoons olive oil

In a different skillet, heat oil over medium heat.
Add sliced onions and bell peppers.
Cook until the onions start to turn translucent and the pepper soften.
Set aside on the stove top to keep warm.

In yet another skillet (use the vegetable skillet above, unless like me, you have vegetarians in the house) pan fry the chicken. Once done, cut into strips.


8 inch, soft flour tortillas (three per person, at least)

Let’s use some technology here:

Using a microwave oven, steam the tortillas. Start by dampening two folded paper towels with water. Wrap the tortillas in a different paper towel and place on top of the damp ones. Put the whole stack in the microwave oven and cook on high for 30 to 45 seconds. Check to see if the tortillas are warm and steaming. If so, you are done. If not, cook for 20 seconds more. This should do it! If not, keep trying 20 seconds intervals until done.

Get the plates ready, because by now the potatoes should be done!

Grate some Colby Jack cheese and get some sour cream ready for optional toppings.

Put a tortilla on the plate. Add a bit of potatoes, zucchini and squash, chicken (for those who partake) and some onions and peppers. Fold the tortilla over, top with cheese and sour cream if it suits you, and serve with a side of Mexican rice.

Recommended beverages:

Any fine red wine will do, as will tequila straight up (but we didn’t have any so Merlot it was)

Buen provecho, mis amigos!

Puchero Hondureno


A while back, actually a long, long while back, I used to hang out on the northern coast of Honduras.  It’s an even longer story, but suffice to say if you want to taste (maybe experience is a better word) true Latin American food, go to the source.  Realize, however, if you enjoy our American Tex-Mex, that’s great.  I grew up on the stuff thanks to Mama Cuellar and her boys, so rest assured I am not disparaging the Lunch Special Number 7 or any of  its’ ilk.

With the first frost of the season last night, I decided that a good hot stew of some sort would be just the thing for dinner today. And after having two bowls, I think I was right.   This may not be exactly what my host family cooked up for my partners and me, but it is pretty close. Easy to make; great to eat on a cold day.

Puchero Hondureno:

8 oz. Chorizo, or any spicy sausage.

2 cans Goya black beans

1 can chopped tomatoes with green peppers and onion

1 can chopped green chiles

1/2 cup frozen corn

1 tspn minced garlic

1 Tblsp cumin

1 Tblsp apple cider vinegar

2 cups cooked rice


In a large pot, cook the sausage, shredding into small chunks.  Drain the fat when done.

Add everything except the rice. Simmer on medium heat, reducing the liquid, but not eliminating it.  Be sure to stir often with a wooden spoon  (after a while, the mixture can start to burn and no one wants “that” flavor…)

With the stew still a bit soupy, add the cooked rice.  stir.  The rice should absorb the rest of the liquid.

The next liquid you may need will be Flor de Cana, but that’s another post for another day!

Buen Provecho!