Black Bean Bonanza

by Rhonda Dragomir

Hubby will be home in 30 minutes, and 30 minutes after that, we will rush to mid-week service at church. Hmmm—what’s for dinner?

I’m a planner, not a pantser—for my novel writing, that is. For meals? I’m the take-out queen. Since quitting my job to write full-time, those last-minute forays out for dinner are cost prohibitive. Whether I like it or not, I need to think about dinner in the mornings instead of 5:05 p.m.

One ally in my meal-prep war is my trusty Crock-Pot®. It was a wedding gift, and it didn’t quit working when I set it on the stove and accidentally turned on the wrong burner. It works just as well on three feet instead of four. I’ve been married 41 years and my husband still likes to tell that story!

I’m fond of dump-and-go recipes, but I also don’t want to turn into a stereotypical overweight writer who can’t squeeze through a doorway without using Crisco. I’ve created a delicious, healthy, quick recipe that helps the bottom line. Literally.

Black beans are a fountain of good health. High in protein and low in fat, they also have loads of fiber. This dish is vegan friendly, gluten-free, filling, and versatile.

Most recipes begin by soaking dried beans, but canned beans are more convenient. Another boon is that canned beans cooked slowly have lower amounts of the undigestible sugars that turn you into a rootin’ tootin’ clown of the solo rodeo.

Here’s my recipe:

  • 4 cans black beans, drained (I like Member’s Mark Organic Black Beans from Sam’s Club, only $10 for a package of 8 cans.)
  • 2 teaspoons dried minced garlic (Leave this out if you like kissin’.)
  • 1 medium sweet onion (Dice and pitch; no need to sauté. I hate fancy French cooking lingo.)
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro (Say “cilantro” out loud ten times as you chop—it’s relaxing.)

Throw all the ingredients in the crock pot, cook for 6-8 hours on low, and they’re ready. I’m OCD enough that I don’t like bean juice contaminating my other food, so I drain them first. If you find they are too dry, you may leave the liquids from one or two cans.

Do you want to spruce up your beans? Try these add-ins:

  • ½ pound taco-seasoned ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons jalapenos or diced bell peppers
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

You may serve the beans as a main dish because they have so much protein, or you may use them as a side dish for other meals. They are delicious tucked in a burrito, added to a taco salad, or mixed with rice in a traditional African or Caribbean recipe. When serving, try these beautiful garnishes:

  • A dollop of sour cream (Say dollop out loud as you add it, just because it’s a fun word.)
  • Fresh chopped cilantro (Can one have too much cilantro? No, I say—NEVER!)
  • Chopped green onion
  • Shredded cheese, any flavor
  • Crumbled feta cheese
  • A spoonful of salsa (Just a spoonful of salsa makes the black beans go down, come on, sing along!)
  • Your favorite red hot sauce (Add as much as you dare.)

My final advice? Even if your family does not eat these all in one meal, they freeze well for later consumption (To clarify, I’m using the word to connote eating, not tuberculosis—I write historical romance).

If I am to be completely honest, when my pantser genes kick in, I’ve made these on the stove top at the last minute. The onion is still crunchy, but variety makes life interesting.

Whether you are a pantser or a plotter, I wish you healthy eating and happy writing!

Writing prompt:  How many “b” words can you slip into one sentence with the words “black beans”? Share your sentence in the comments.

Click-to-Tweet: Author Rhonda Dragomir is fond of “dump and go” recipes, so her Black Bean Bonanza #crockpot meal is perfect for writers. Just don’t forget to plug it in. #cooking #amwriting


Rhonda Dragomir and her family live in Kentucky horse country, in the idyllic small town of Wilmore. A graduate of Asbury University with a degree in Social Work, she is a committed pastor’s wife and Bible teacher. Rhonda is also an award-winning writer, with published works in Chicken Soup for the Soul anthologies and Spark magazine. She also wrote an opinion column in her local newspaper for four years, in which some views garnered national attention.

Rhonda and her husband formed The Dragomir Group to offer websites, typesetting, and design services to writers. She also writes a blog, Find the Pony, building a platform for a career in traditional publishing. Her newsletter Writers LifeHacks, shares tips and insights to encourage other writers and simplify the writing process. Rhonda has won many writing awards, including being named the 2019 Writer of the Year by Serious Writer, Inc.

Media

Websites:             www.rhondadragomir.com (Author site)

www.dragomirgroup.com (Writers’ services)

Blogs:              www.findthepony.blog (personal inspiration)

www.writerslifehacks.com (tips for writers)

Facebook: www.facebook.com/Rhonda.Dragomir.Author

Instagram: www.instagram.com/RhondaDragomir

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YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6rst96IuXBwt7oy3unLU8g

LinkedIn:            www.linkedin.com/in/rhonda-dragomir

A Little Planning Goes A Long Way

by: Tammy Trail

We all like keeping life simple. Cooking shouldn’t be complicated with strange ingredients that might be questionable for picky eaters. A couple of years ago when Tim and I were still fostering teen boys, my crockpot was a lifesaver. Especially one summer when I decided to spend two weeks away from home visiting my mom in New Mexico.

Tim was a bit nervous about my leaving for that long a period of time. How was he going to feed the boys? Going out to eat every night for two weeks was not an affordable option, and he didn’t feel confident in his cooking skills to attempt to feed them on his own. Lucky for him, I had already planned a bit before I bought my train ticket.

I began to scour the internet, Pinterest, and my cookbooks for a solution. I came up with enough meals to sustain them while I was away. Some meals were made ahead and put into tin pans, and covered with foil. Other meals were uncooked and stored in plastic gallon storage bags. All of the meals were intended for the freezer and could be pulled out the night before and either placed in a crockpot, or in the oven after thawing to cook. I even took a permanent marker and labeled all the meals, oven temperatures, and how long they needed to cook on the outside of each meal.

A week before my trip, I made my menu and shopping list. After shopping, I started meal prep. This consisted of chopping all my vegetables into separate containers. Then I cooked all the meat that would be put into the frozen casserole tins.  I did casserole meals one day, and crockpot meals the next in an assembly line fashion.

Now, I covered my pans with heavy-duty foil, but there are some storage options that have lids already provided. There are also newer type storage containers that can be used in the microwave and can be used once again as they are also dishwasher safe.

The only item I did not include when making my casseroles, was shredded cheese. Most of the casseroles can be cooked without being covered, so in my instructions, the cheese was to be added before cooking or cook for 20  minutes and then cover in cheese.  I found that you can basically cook ahead and freeze anything.

Here is a family favorite that is so simple and filling. I call it Goulash. I know I didn’t make it the traditional way, but here it is:

1 lb. ground beef, cooked

1 15. oz can of tomato soup

1 15 oz. can of cream of mushroom soup

1 cup of elbow macaroni, cooked

Mix it all together well, add Italian seasoning, salt, pepper to taste. Put it in a casserole dish.

Add shredded cheese on top.

Cook until bubbly.

Enjoy!!

 

Writing Prompt: Tell a story using your Grandmother’s recipe that you loved as a child.

Click to Tweet – Writers need to eat too. #Freezer meals: A lifesaver