Vegetarian Black Bean Chili

This is absolutely my go-to recipe for chili. We all love it, and with the temperatures hovering around 10 right now, its perfect with some buttermilk cornbread!

We’re having a bunch of people over for Darrian’s 16th birthday and this is one of his very favorites, so I’ll be making a massive pot of this.

Feel free to share this recipe! I think its an Emeril recipe base, but I might be wrong too. **Disclaimer: not my photo…I found it on, but this is exactly what the dish looks like.

What you’ll need:

2 Tbs canola oil

1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions

1 cup chopped red bell peppers

2 Tbs minced garlic

2-3 serrano peppers, stemmed, seeded, and minced (I usually do 3 since we like it spicy)

1 medium zucchini, stem ends trimmed and cut into small dice

2 cups fresh corn kernels

1 1/2 pounds portobello mushrooms, stemmed, wiped clean and cubed

2 Tbs chili powder

1 Tbs ground cumin

1 1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp cayenne

4 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped (or the equivelant of 2 15oz cans of fresh canned tomatoes

3 cups cooked black beans (or you could really use just about any bean here…pinto, kidney…)

1 15oz can tomato sauce, or the fresh equivelant

1 cup vegetable stock (chicken stock works well too, but then it wouldn’t be vegetarian)

1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves (I add a bit more because we love it)


sour cream (homemade, if you have it!)

diced avocado

chopped scallions

shredded cheddar cheese

In a large, heavy pot (I love to use my cast iron dutch oven for this), heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions, bell peppers, garlic, and serrano peppers, and cook, stirring, until soft, about 3-4 minutes. Add the zucchini, corn, and mushrooms, and cook, stirring, until soft and the vegetables give off their liquid and start to brown around the edges, about 6-7 minutes. Add the chili powder, cumin, salt and cayenne, and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and stir well. Add the beans, tomato sauce, and vegetable stock, stir well, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes.

Remove fromt he heat and stir in the cilantro. Adjust the seasoning, to taste.

Serve with the garnishes on the side.

Its rare that we have any leftovers of this, but if you do, it will be even tastier the next day. This is the veggie version, but you could also use the chicken stock and add some shredded chicken for the meat lovers in your life. Either way, this is comfort food, at its best.

Just Say No, to Receipts

          But wait! I need to keep track of my purchases! I don’t want to overdraw my account! What if I want to return this awesome, vintage 108 car cd changer? I need my receipt!

            First, let’s address the tracking of the purchases: If you used a card, then you can just go online every day or so and check your account, write them down in your register or whatever system you use, no receipt necessary.

 Overdrawn accounts: If you’re checking your account every couple of days, you probably won’t overdraw your account because you’ll be more aware of what you’ve got in there. You’ll probably also spend less since you’ll be more aware of your balance. Win!

  Returns: If you pull up the transaction on your phone while in the store, they should be able to look up the transaction by date and transaction number that is attached to it, which is usually listed on the online bank statement.

 Now that we’ve taken care of those issues, here are some other really good reasons to avoid them whenever you can. The ink and paper that they use is different than what they used to use because the paper is thermal and requires a specific type of ink. It is rare to find receipts that aren’t printed on thermal paper. The ink used contains bisphenol A, or BPA. In fact, they’re coated in it. BPA is a known carcinogen and endocrine disruptor. Aside from the fact that handling them (even just a little bit) is horrible for your health, just think about what happens when you throw them away.

Because of the coating on the paper they can’t be recycled, so we just toss them in the trash, right? Nope. As the ink and the paper degrade, the BPA is released into the soil and can be washed into the water ways, contaminating everything it comes in contact with.

 Better alternatives: many stores have gone to using Square or other similar application. Just ask for the receipt to be texted or emailed to you. If you really need a copy of it, print it at home. You’ll find that you really don’t need nearly as many receipts as you thought you did. And the bonus is that your wallet won’t be bulging with stuff that constantly needs to be sorted through and thrown away.

    Super simple! 

Slow It Down, Man

Sometimes I think that technology has gotten us so used to having everything at our fingertips that we forget about how lovely slowing down can be. That’s not to say that I don’t use technology every day (after all, I’m writing this on my laptop), but I think that there much to be gained by disconnecting, stepping back, and rediscovering things like cooking from scratch, hand washing delicates, manners, and telephone conversations. I guess that’s part of the reason why we moved from the city to a small town, with a slower pace. It gives us time to reconnect, to pay attention to the world around us and the impact that we have on each other and the planet.

  Here are a few things that I want to work on in the future, but I’m sure I’ll think of more as I do them.

 Writing instead of typing. When I take the time, my penmanship is actually legible. I wish I could write like my brother. His handwriting is beautiful and looks like calligraphy, but I’m not that good. I love the feeling of a good quality pen in my hand and how the ink smoothly glides over the paper. I love pens that can be refilled, over and over, which creates less waste. I love beautiful stationary, beautiful, strong paper that can be folded and then unfolded to be read time and time again. There is a certain sense of love and caring when I get a letter that is handwritten. It’s so easy to just sit down to the computer and plunk out a letter, or email, or even just a message on Facebook, but there is thought and time taken when a letter is written. And thank you notes…what ever happened to those?  I realize that they’re not zero-waste, but at some point we have to find a balance between living a whole life and being on guard all the time. I’m bringing it back and I want to do more of this.

 Spending time with family and friends sans my telephone. I want to spend an afternoon with those that I love and not be constantly looking at my telephone for updates and messages. I already don’t like being on my telephone when I’m with friends and family, but it’s so easy to have it right there so that I can take a picture. Maybe I need to get an actual camera and leave my phone in my purse. If someone needs to talk to me, they can leave a message and I’ll call them back. I also need to get better at actually listening to my messages instead of just seeing that someone called and call them back.

  Caring for others in their time of need. I remember, as a child, if anyone was sick, my mother was there to help. She would take a hot meal (she is Queen of the Casserole), do the dishes, or just sit with them and chat…or not chat, but she was available and she was present. There was never a phone in her back pocket to distract her. She does what needs doing and finds joy in it. I want to be like her.

 Reading a book with my husband. I like it when we do things together, besides watching Alaska the Last Frontier. Maybe we’ll pick a book to read together and take turns reading aloud. In days past, when there were no computers, televisions, and electronics to distract us, families sat together at night and read to one another. We’ve got a book called 50 Philosophy Ideas You Really Need to Know. Maybe we’ll start with that.

  Like I said, I’m sure there are more things that I’ll think of as I try to incorporate more of this in my day-to-day life, but the idea is to slow down, take a look around, soak in the experiences and be grateful for them. Days, weeks, months, and then years go by way too quickly to be caught up in the go-go-go pace that we’ve been told we need to prescribe to. I hereby proclaim that I am opting out of that and opting into the slow, deliciousness that is this life we’ve chosen. Yes, it might be hard work some days, but it does force us to slow down and enjoy each other, and for that, I am grateful.

Pickled Eggs

In all of the years that I’ve been married to Alan, it is strange that 17 years later I’m just now finding out that he likes pickled eggs. I should have suspected, but when I was looking for ways to preserve all of our eggs, he mentioned that he liked them. Whodathunk? Not me, that’s for sure. I gave a jar of these to my brother-in-law and he loved them! He’s an easy man to please. 🙂

*not my pic…they got eaten before I could take a picture…got this one from The Guam Guide.

Here’s what you’ll need:

1/2 cup vinegar

1/2 cup water

1/2 cup hot sauce

1 Tbs red pepper flakes

1 Tbs minced garlic

1 Tbs each salt & pepper

1 Tbs cayenne pepper

1 Tbs onion powder

1 bay leaf

Put the spices in the bottom of the jar and put the hard boiled eggs on top. I used a half-gallon jar and filled it half-way with the eggs.

Boil the liquid for about a minute and pour it over the eggs. Put the lid on the jar and shake it to get everything all mixed up and happy.

Keep it in the fridge for at least 5 days before eating, but they’ll keep for at least 2 months. I kept mine in the fridge, but after they’re pickled and if you seal the jar, I don’t see why they couldn’t live in the pantry too.

I got this recipe from a gal on one of my chicken Facebook pages, but I can’t remember her name. But hey, thank you random FB gal for the great recipe!


Marinated Carrots

I’ve been making these since my oldest kids were little, so at least 15 -20  years. Every time I make them, someone always asks for the recipe. I got it from one of those old Sunset cookbooks (like, 1988), this one is called Gifts from your Kitchen. You can find it here: I usually add more crused red pepper and garlic, because that’s how we roll around these parts, but once you get the basic recipe down, you can adjust the seasonings any way you want to. And once you eat the carrots, just cut up some more and put them in the jar! No need to waste that good stuff!

*Not my pic..found it on The Garden of Eating…it’s pretty though, huh?

Here’s what you’ll need:

1 pound carrots, peeled, and cut into fatty matchstick like things, a little less that the height of your pint-sized jar

2 bay leaves

1/2 cup white vinegar (white wine vinegar is really yummy here too!)

1/4 cup water

3 Tbs sugar

1/2 tsp each salt, mustard seeds, and dry dill weed

1/4 tsp each crushed red pepper and dill seeds

1 clove garlic, minced

Arrange carrots in a vegetable steamer. Cover and steam over boiling water until just tender when pierced (about 8-10 minutes). Plunge into cold water to cool quickly, then drain.

Arrange the carrots vertically in a clean 1-pint jar. Tuck in bay leaves. In a bowl, stir together vinegar, water, sugar, salt, mustard seeds, dill weed, red pepper, dill seeds, and garlic until the sugar is dissolved. Pour over the carrots and cover tightly. Refrigerate for at least 2 days or up to 3 weeks.

Makes 1 pint. I usually double this recipe and make a quart at a time because they don’t last long around here.


Buttermilk Pie

Y’all, Alan loves the pie. I mean, what’s not to love? Buttermilk…pie…custard-like…heaven in a pie pan. I first heard of buttermilk pie about 5 years ago and just happened to have an abundance of buttermilk, so pie needed to happen, and happpen it did. As fate would have it, it has become a favorite in this house. This is also amazing with homemade whipped cream on top…because what isn’t better with homemade whipped cream, right?
**Not my pic…found it on :)**

Here’s what you’ll need:

3 eggs

1/2 cup butter, softened

3 Tbs all-purpose flour

1 1/2 cups sugar

1 cup buttermilk

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 Tbs lemon juice

1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

1 9-inch pie crust


Prepare crust as normal. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Beat eggs until frothy; add butter, sugar and flour. Beat until smooth.

Stir in buttermilk, vanilla, lemon juice and nutmeg; pour into pie shell.

Bake for 40 to 60 minutes, or until center is firm.

Once it is cool, cut into slices and serve with some of that homemade whipped cream on top. Stand there and let everyone love you because you made an amazing pie.


Homemade Hand Lotion

When we moved to North Carolina I got rid of just about everything that wouldn’t last in storage. After all, I had no idea how long it would take for us to find a house and in the meantime all of my stuff, including things like my homemade lotion, would be in stoarge. Pretty sure it wasn’t going to fare well in there, even in a climate controlled condition, so I gave all of it away.

Then we got here and I had to tide myself over with crappy, store bought nastiness. Too many perfumes and waaayyyy too many weird chemicals. But, hallelujah, that junk finally ran out and it was time to make my own lotion again.

This is a very flexible recipe. I mean super flexible. You can use any oils you want, but I choose geranium and frankincense, which are both incredible for the skin. For a nighttime foot lotion you could even do lavender and cedarwood oils! You don’t even have to use coconut oil. Heck, you could use cocoa butter or even lard if you wanted to. It would still work. One thing I will say: PLEASE make sure that you are using the highest quality essential oils that you can afford. If it’s going on your body, it’s going in your body, so if you wouldn’t eat it, don’t use it.

Ok, get ready for this super duper complicated recipe.

You’ll need:

Solid coconut oil

Geranium and frankincense essential oils (or whatever oils you want to use)

Grab whatever size jar you want to use and fill it most of the way with the coconut oil. I use one that is about 3 inches tall, but you can use whatever.

Add 10-15 drops of each oil, depending on what you want it to smell like. Mix it up with a popsicle stick (or whatever you have). Put the lid on. All done!

Now how hard was that? And really, how much do you think that costs in comparison to the store bought crap? AND look at how much packaging you’ll save from the whole landfill/recycling system! This is a total win!

Want to get the good oils? Just shoot me a message and we can make that happen! I’d love to have you on my team!