Black Beans and Rice with Spice!

One of the easiest meals is black beans, rice, tomatoes and spice.

  • Half of a chopped onion
  • Olive Oil
  • 4 cloves garlic sliced or 2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 15 oz can of drained black beans
  • 1 14.5 oz can Mexican style OR plain stewed or chopped tomatoes with half a packet of taco seasoning added
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice

Shredded cheese, fresh diced tomatoes, sour cream, salsa or taco sauce, guacamole, et cetera all go well with this dinner and it can be served on tortillas if you wish.

  1. Start cooking the rice. It’ll take longer to cook than anything else but you can probably start them at the same time. Follow the directions on the bag of rice for the amount of water to add and the cooking time.
  2. Sauté the chopped onion in a couple tablespoons of olive oil until they are soft. Make sure not to cook them on too high of heat otherwise they will burn. If you are using garlic instead of garlic powder, also add this with the onions and sauté.
  3. Add the drained and rinsed black beans and undrained tomatoes to the pan with the onions and garlic. Bring to boiling, reduce heat and simmer for at least 10 minutes.
  4. Serve with the rice, or mix with the rice and spoon into tortilla shells and add toppings.

Note: I find the Mexican-style tomatoes to be too spicy in a bad way. I prefer to add my own spices, either a combination of cumin and cayenne pepper along with salt and pepper or use half a packet or so of taco seasoning.

Wheat Pancakes

You can also substitute the wheat flour for all white flour for traditional pancakes.

  • 1 3/4 cups flour (half white and half wheat, or all white)
  • 2 tsp baking powder (not baking soda!)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 c. sour milk (to sour milk, add a few tablespoons of vinegar or lemon juice then add enough milk to make 1 1/2 c.)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

  1. Mix together the wet ingredients in a bowl. I usually use a 2 cup measuring cup and put the flour, salt and baking powder together in that then dump it in with the other stuff. Mix it up! It might be a little lumpy.
  2. Preheat the frying pan on medium to medium-high and put a little oil or non-stick spray in it first. Then pour some pancake mix in. Do it somewhat slowly so you can see how big the pancake will be. When the pancake starts to bubble a bit you can use your pancake flipper to check underneath to see if it’s brown. If it is, carefully flip it. Let it cook for a few more minutes, check to see if it’s brown underneath. If so, it’s probably done. If you want to be really sure you can cut it in half to make sure it’s cooked inside. As with all foods that use raw egg it’s important to cook it all the way!

Carrot Cake

In my opinion, the best carrot cake comes out of the box but has homemade frosting. Buy a boxed carrot cake and bake according to the directions. Then frost with the frosting recipe below. Any carrot cake lover will appreciate it!

  • 1 8-ounce package of cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup butter (one stick) slightly melted
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla
  • enough powdered sugar to make it the right taste and consistency, about 5-6 cups

  1. Use an electric mixer! That’s the only way to get it to the right smoothness. Mix everything up except the powdered sugar. Add the powdered sugar half a cup at a time for the first few cups then more slowly after that. Test it out when you’re getting close to the end. Use your judgement to determine if it’ll be spreading consistency. It’s best to frost the cake then put it in the refrigerator.
  2. If you want to decorate your cake, set aside some of the frosting in a small bowl. Divide it into the number of colors you want (if you want two colors, for example green and orange, use two separate bowls with similar amounts in each). Add a few drops of the appropriate colors of food coloring. Mix to check the color and add more as needed. If you don’t have a cake decorating bag and tips, you can use a plastic ziplock bag and just cut a tiny hole in the corner. Put the frosting in the bag and squeeze it out as needed to make a shape or spell a name on your cake.

Easiest Homemade Spaghetti and Sauce

  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • 28 oz can of tomatoes
  • 1 6 oz can of tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 to 1/8 teaspoon of red pepper flakes

  1. This is the easiest way I can come up with for spaghetti sauce that still tastes good. Basically all you do is sauté the onion and garlic until they’re soft then add the rest of the ingredients plus 1/2 cup of water. Bring to a boil then turn the heat down and simmer for a while.
  2. Boil the water for the spaghetti after the sauce has been simmering for a while, at least 20 minutes. Add the spaghetti or other pasta and cook until tender. Drain the spaghetti in a colander. Serve topped with the spaghetti sauce and Parmesan cheese if desired.

Note: If you want meat sauce, you can brown 3/4th of a pound to 1 pound of lean ground beef, ground turkey or ground Italian sausage until it’s not pink anymore. Drain and rinse. Add to sautéed onions and garlic. Add the rest of the ingredients as described above.

Falafel Patties

  • 1 (15 ounce) can chickpeas/garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped finely
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin (more or less to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander (if desired)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (if desired)
  • 1 dash pepper
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3/4 cup dry bread crumbs
  • oil for frying

  1. In a large bowl mash chickpeas until thick and pasty. In a blender, process onion, parsley and garlic until smooth. Stir into mashed chickpeas. In a small bowl combine egg, cumin, coriander, salt, pepper, cayenne, lemon juice and baking powder. Stir into chickpea mixture along with olive oil.
  2. Slowly add bread crumbs until mixture is not sticky but will holdtogether; add more or less bread crumbs, as needed. If you start to add the bread crumbs and you don't think the patties will hold together, add an additional egg. You can also do a "test" patty and try frying it before you make the rest into balls, and see if it holds together. Form 8 balls and then flatten into patties.
  3. Heat 1/2 to 1 inch of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Fry patties in hot oil until brown on both sides.

Note: These patties are best served in pita bread with onion, chopped tomatoes and topped with tzatziki (cucumber yogurt) sauce.

Tzatziki Sauce

  • 1 (8 ounce) container plain yogurt
  • 1 cucumber - peeled, seeded and diced into very small pieces
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill or dried dill
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped, or 1 tablespoon garlic powder

  1. Put the cucumber pieces on a paper towel to soak up excess water.
  2. It's best to put the yogurt on paper towels over a bowl so the excess water can drain out. It will make the dip thicker. Or if you can find greek style yogurt it will be thicker.
  3. Combine all the ingredients in a food processor if available. Otherwise, just mix well. Refrigerate at least one hour. It's best if you can refrigerate overnight, especially if you used dry dill and garlic powder instead of fresh.

Chicken Cacciatore

This is the best recipe I've found for Chicken Cacciatore. It's good 

  • 1 lb. chicken breast, cubed
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (or 1 tablespoon garlic powder)
  • 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning, crushed (more or less to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (more or less to taste)
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • Spaghetti, fettucine or rice, cooked

  1. Skin chicken. In a large skillet brown chicken on all sides in hot oil over medium heat about 15 minutes while turning occasionally. Remove chicken from skillet and set aside.
  2. Add onion and garlic to skillet. Cook and stir about 5 minutes or until vegetables are soft. Return chicken to skillet.
  3. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl combine undrained tomatoes, tomato paste, wine, sugar, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Pour over chicken in skillet. Bring to boiling then reduce heat. Simmer, covered, for 30 to 35 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink, turning once during cooking. Serve over hot cooked pasta or rice. Top with Parmesan cheese if desired.