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.






DJ’s Vindaloo Ragout

DJ's Vindaloo Ragout

DJ’s Vindaloo Ragout

The flavor knocks your socks off when you first cook it. The next day? Hold on to your skivvies!

This dish is a slow-cooked stew of chickpeas and potatoes, simmered for hours in a well-seasoned tomato sauce. You could make this dish using a crock pot or a stove top sauce pan; either works well as long as you have the lid or cover. You can make the vindaloo as spicy as you want, but don’t make it any less.  In India, they have two other versions much “hotter” than this. So we can’t really complain, can we? Besides, if you need a little zippity in your do-dah, this will do it for you!

Time required:  prep 15 minutes &  cooking 2 hours or more depending on size of diced potatoes and cooking temperature

Serves: 10 or so when accompanied with rice as a side dish. Naan or flatbread works well, too!

Ingredients- Part 1:

(1) 14 oz. can diced tomatoes with green chilies

(1) 6 oz. can tomato paste

(1) green bell pepper, cored and diced

(1/2) yellow onion, diced

(4) cloves garlic, minced

(1/2) cup water

(2) Tablespoons Sherry vinegar

(2) Tablespoons olive oil

(1) Tablespoon parsley flakes

(1) Tablespoon finely chopped, fresh ginger (if you don’t have fresh ginger, go get some. There is no subbing on this one!)

(1) Tablespoon crushed red pepper

(1) teaspoon curry

(1/2) teaspoon turmeric

(1/4) teaspoon cardamom

(1/4) teaspoon coriander

Ingredients – Part 2:

(2) cups cooked chickpeas

(2) cups diced raw potatoes

(1) cup water

(1/2) cup pineapple chunks. You know – chunks. Not too small, but not too big? Fits on your fork, and in your mouth for one bite? Yeah, that’s the size you want.


Mix the ‘part 1 ingredients’ in a large sauce pan for the stove top method, or slow-cooker / crock pot.

Using medium heat, warm the sauce, stirring frequently to prevent scorching on the bottom of the pan. Note: if using a slow-cooker, just stir to mix the ingredients, then set on low heat and leave it alone.

For stove top pans, when the sauce starts to bubble, reduce heat to low.

Now add the ‘part 2 ingredients’ and gently stir until the potatoes and chickpeas are covered by the sauce.

Cover and simmer on low heat for 2 hours using the stove top method, or 4 hours on low heat if using a slow-cooker.

Stir occasionally for both methods.

<tick tock tick tock – 2 or 4 hours later >

The Vindaloo Ragout is done!

Serve with white rice, couscous, or quinoa. Some sauteed fresh green beans, seasoned with garlic of course, makes the meal complete.

Except the wine. You need wine. Lemonade works, too. I prefer, well, you know.










Slow Cooked London Broil – Success!


Fact: Most of us are too busy.

Fact: Most of us get hungry after working all day.

Fact:  You really can’t go wrong with gravy.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could cook up a tasty slab of inexpensive meat, without taking up a lot of your time, so everything would be ready when you got home from the cubicle farm – and it had hot, savory mushroom gravy?

No, this is not gourmet cuisine. You certainly would not make it past round one of Top Chef. But, if you need some good old comfort food that will impress even the most picky of carnivores. Here’s what you need:

1 small bag of baby carrots

1 medium yellow onion, peeled and rough chopped

1 can of Cream of Mushroom Soup

1/2 can of water – using the soup can

1 Tablespoon of minced garlic

1 1/2 – 2 pounds of London Broil, or chuck roast -whichever is less expensive.

1 teaspoon of dried oregano

1 teaspoon of dried basil

Salt / Pepper to taste


We will be building this meal in layers, stacked in a large crock pot or slow cooker. First layer: baby carrots and chopped onions. Next – add the cream of mushroom soup concentrate (In other words, the stuff in the can. Don’t actually cook up the soup.) Using a spoon or spatula, spread the soup around the carrots and onions. Follow on with the half can of water, drizzled on top of the whole mixture.

To make it savory, add the minced garlic. This has a side benefit of keeping vampires away from your kitchen.

Now place the London Broil directly on top. Season with the oregano, basil, salt and pepper. Cover the slow cooker and set to “low.”

The bottom line: prep time – 10 minutes at the most. Cooking time? I returned 11 hours later and the meat was so tender you could easily separate it with a fork.

What you end up with is an awesome, very tender London Broil – and slightly browned mushroom gravy covering melt-in-your-mouth onions, and carrots that are thoroughly cooked yet still have substance and texture. You could serve this is a restaurant and no one would know how easy it was to make. And as for using a can of Cream of Mushroom Soup? You probably don’t want to know how many “fine dining” establishments are charging you big bucks for covers that utilize “fresh ingredients” from a red and white can somewhere in the kitchen, out of sight.

Too busy? Still hungry? Try this recipe and let me know what you think. It worked for me! All I needed was a fork and a piece of bread to sop up the gravy.

Variations: some people add potatoes with the carrots and onions, sort of like a pot roast. Other people add a half cup of red wine. You could even go so far as to sub a half cup of beef bouillon for the water.  Your choice. I prefer to drink my wine. And that is next up on the agenda.

As Chef Rudolf would say – “Happy Eating!”




Crock Pot Crazy Cajun Rice

Aidells Italian Style sausages at Costco on El...

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How ya’ll are? I started out trying to make a jambalaya in the old slow cooker, but you know, sometimes it just doesn’t work out the way you planned. But that’s okay, the food still tasted great. I just had to change the name. (Sorry, no photo this time, can’t find the camera and the iPhone 4s has yet to be ordered…)

Try my Crock Pot Crazy Cajun Rice next time it looks like snow outside. It’ll warm you up!

Prep time: 20 minutes.  Cooking time: 4 hours

In a large crock pot, put in the following:

1  – 2 pounds of boneless chicken breast (free range, hormone free), cut into 1 inch cube-chunks.

1 and a half pounds of Aidells Cajun style andouille sausage*, chopped

28 oz. diced tomatoes. I used a large can, but you can use fresh if you want.

1 medium onion, chopped

8 oz okra, chopped (frozen is okay if it is out of season)

2 celery stalks, chopped

1 Tablespoon dried oregano

1 Tablespoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

32 oz. MSG free, low sodium free range chicken broth

Stir the ingredients with your wooden spoon, then cover and cook on low for about 3 hours.

Uncover the pot and stir the mixture. Now add:

4 cups of uncooked, jasmine rice.

Stir in the rice, then recover the pot. Cook on low for an hour. That should be enough time for the rice to cook and absorb the flavors of the spices. If the rice isn’t quite done, keep cooking, but you may have to add some water or chicken broth if it has become too dry.

Stir once more before serving.

Makes 8 good sized servings.

* I don’t normally specify brands, however Aidells’ products are all natural. NO MSG. NO NITRATES and NO ADDED HORMONES. Try ’em. Remember, I don’t get anything from brands I mention. See the disclaimer post if you have questions.

Happy eating!