Thursday, February 16, 2006

Black Beans with Spicy Salsa and Sour Cream

"Beans, beans, the magical fruit......." my ex-husband used to sing when I told him we'd be eating beans for dinner. Not necessarily the romantic serenade one expects to hear on Valentine's Day but I'll take it! Beans offer protein without much saturated fat and with plenty of healthful fiber and micronutrients, and will offset nicely all the other junk we're eating today such as chocolates and cupcakes. Besides, our pantry shelves are stacked with bags of beans, lentils and split peas, and it's time to get those babies soaking.

This whole project started with wanting, or needing, to clean out the freezer and making some more space. I had so much food in my pantries, garages, shelves, kitchen cupboards and freezer that it was starting to look like the Grocery Outlet, or the Canned Food Morgue, as some people gently put it. I am a sucker for a good deal, so I've been hoarding food for years. Image the overwhelming amount of food I had!

The first thing I did was toss anything that was past the due date. A deal is a deal, but botulism is not part of it, so in the trash went many a can. What a waste of money, and how shameful to know that so many are hungry in this world while I am throwing out food. God calls us to be good stewards of our (his) money, and this was definitely not a good way to do it. I sorted the cans that were left and realized that the cat was going to have a ball: twentyfour cans of tuna alone were sitting on a shelf, and you might remember that I am not a big fish eater!

But this mindset also translated to other areas in the house: one of the things I noticed is that I always had so much laundry. Or do I have too many clothes? Slowly but surely I have started to sort my clothes, by what stays and what goes to the women's shelter or the thrift store. And what is with all the paper clutter? So out went the daily newspaper. I don't have time, or take the time, to read it every day and now that I only get the weekend issue, I don't feel so guilty and I save a bunch of money.

Anyway, back to the beans. A couple of weeks ago, the local Joe store had a great deal on legumes, so I bought several bags of black, red, white, pinto, lentils and split peas. They're cheap, they're full of good stuff and they're easy to prepare, what more does a hard working girl want? Today we're fixing Black Beans, topped with spicy salsa, sour cream and a handful of your favorite tortilla chips, a great meal for lunch or dinner.

Black Beans with Salsa and Sour Cream
1 cup of black beans, washed and drained
3 cups of water
1 bouillon cube (chicken w/ tomato is my favorite for this)
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
1 cup of frozen vegetables (mix of corn, peppers, broccoli, green beans, carrots: think color)
spicy salsa
sour cream
tortilla chips

Soak the beans overnight in water if you remember, or add them to a crockpot with three cups of water and the bouillon cube. Follow the cooking instructions on the bag, or set the crockpot on high and cook until tender. Stir in the tomato paste, a spoonful or two of your favorite salsa, salt and pepper to taste. In the microwave, heat up your veggies until hot. (You could also stir them in with the beans in the crockpot, but then they all go black and ugly. If you don't mind go for it, it will save you a dish or two to wash!)

Ladle the
beans in a bowl, add the veggies, and top with salsa and sour cream. Grab a handful of your favorite tortilla chips and enjoy!

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