FRS - Cooking Light Weeknight - Black Bean Burrito Bake

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I found this old post as I was editing and writing some newer ones. It’s leftover from my Favorite Recipe Search (which is currently on hold). I’ll update with nutritional info & cost soon. In the mean time, ENJOY! This is a regular recipe in our rotation.

When my sister sent me an Amazon gift card for my birthday last August, I took the opportunity to buy several Cooking Light cookbooks, including Weeknights. This recipe, along with all the recipes in their cookbooks, is available on their site, (Please be aware that it includes recipes from their other publications and are not all healthy choices!) Even though I could view their site for free, there is something about holding a cookbook. Plus there is a lot fewer options to dig through.

Since it’s published on the internet, I’m going to post the recipe on my site. It’s also available here. They even have a pretty video of someone making it, which makes my post about it seem that much sillier….

* 1 (7-ounce) can chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
* 1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
* 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed, drained, and divided
* 1 cup frozen whole-kernel corn, thawed
* 4 (8-inch) flour tortillas
* Cooking spray
* 1 cup bottled salsa
* 1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded Monterey Jack cheese


Clearly I have a couple of substitutions. First, the cheese. I always buy 2%, and it’s not available in Monterey Jack. The Mexican four cheese includes the Monterey, but it also has some milder cheeses. Second, wheat tortillas. If I can up the fiber content of something, I do it. Of course, since there’s beans in this recipe, it’s not really necessary. It’s just my knee-jerk reaction when standing at the tortilla section in the store.

If you guys hop over to the original recipe, you can follow along with the directions.

Here’s the chopped pepper, adobo sauce, and sour cream melding into deliciousness.


Speaking of the adobo sauce, what are you supposed to do with it? The recipe only calls for one pepper, but there are several in the can. It’s too expensive to throw away. Simple. Chop up the remainder and freeze them in tablespoon portions. I actually used some leftovers for this recipe.


Here’s the bean and corn mixture. I actually chopped more than the recipe calls for. I like my burrito guts extra sticky. If you prefer more texture, follow their recommendations.


The guts. I don’t have anything to say about it, except YUM!


Back to those wheat tortillas. In my experience, the wheat ones tend to tear more than their white flour counterparts. One way to counteract this is to nuke them in a wet towel in the microwave for 15-20 seconds. They’ll come out nice and pliable and much more accommodating.


Before baking. This is usually the time that Chris comes in and says, “Oooh!”


And after.


Final verdict: My favorite recipe. Period. It’s my favorite from this book, my favorite of my reviews, my favorite. Amen.

I’m going to continue trying others from Weeknights, but this has already made it into our regular rotation. Basically, I make it anytime I forget to thaw meat. (You see, if you buy your meat in bulk and put it your deep freezer, you have to plan your meals in advance. If you don’t, you’ll have rock hard meat-sicles, and you’ll be forced to order pizza or make a vegetarian meal.) However, both Chris and I love it. Plus, as an added bonus, skipping meat for a day is great for the environment. I never thought I’d get Chris behind that cause, but I think he’s willing to join as long as the burritos are involved.

FRS - SC WIRE - Pumpkin Bread

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Remember how I said that I have several cookbooks that belonged to my late grandmother?  Some of these are real gems, like the classic Betty Crocker cookbook, and some are strange fundraiser cookbooks, like this one from the South Carolina Women Involved in Rural Electrification (WIRE).  It was published in 1982, and it completely baffles me that parts of South Carolina lived without electricity during the 198o’s.  Hell, I was born in 1982 and my family’s trailer in the Ozark mountains of Arkansas had power.  To say this cookbook is a bit outdated is an understatement.  It’s a lot outdated, and unless I wanted to cook casseroles with lots of shortening, bullion cubes, and Ritz crackers (as opposed to olive oil, free-range low sodium chicken broth, and homemade seasoned breadcrumbs), it’s going to be a challenge to find a recipe I’m willing to make, let alone call a favorite.

I decided to go with a classic, pumpkin bread.  I thought about doing a banana bread, but I already have a favorite banana bread recipe.   Like the cranberry muffins for Thanksgiving, I made these early, froze them, and served them Christmas morning.  The recipes in this cookbook were submitted by the WIRE members, and I doubt Mrs. Pauline Carmichael of Hemingeway, South Carolina minds me sharing with my readers.  (After all, it’s not a secret recipe - she did submit it so she could keep her lard beef-powder cracker casserole fresh.)

Pumpkin Bread

  • 3 1/2 cups plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp soda
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 2/3 cup nuts, chopped
  • 2/3 cup raisins
  • 2 2/3 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cup salad oil
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups pumpkin (cooked or canned)
  • 2/3 cup water

Sift flour and measure.  Add baking powder, soda, salt, and spices.  Toss nuts and raisins lightly into flour mixture.  Beat sugar and oil at low speed with electric mixer.  Add eggs, one at a time.  Add pumpkin, flour mixture, and water.  Beat until thoroughly mixed.  Pour batter into one large or two small loaf pans.  Bake at 350 degrees for one hour or until done.

So here’s the cast of characters.


There are a few changes.  The yellow lid behind the bag of pecans belongs to a jar of applesauce.  The recipe calls for a large amount of “salad oil”, which is any kind of vegetable oil, and that’s just too much unnecessary fat in my opinion.  (Also in my opinion, “salad oil” is olive oil, but that’s a bit to fancy for rural un-electrified South Carolina.)  Applesauce is a great substitute for oil in a recipe.  However, I made a little mistake, but I’ll get to that.  Also, I ended up using a wayward bag of walnuts that I found in the bottom of the deep freezer after  I took the photo.  Walnuts just seemed more fitting than pecans.  You’ll also notice that I have pumpkin spice instead of the long list of ingredients and golden raisins instead of the regular raisins (that look a little too much like little rodent turds).

Pauline tells us to sift and measure the flour.  I’m glad I listened to her.  I’ve always measured then sifted, and I think I’ve been using too much flour.  Given most flour comes somewhat “pre-sifted”, I cram as much as possible into my containers.


Remember in my last FRS, when I was eagerly anticipating the arrival of my new sifter? It’s awesome, and it only requires one hand, which is, um, handy when you’re taking pictures of yourself. (Currently, it’s unavailable from Tupperware. Boo!)


Here are the all the dry ingredients mixed together.  I didn’t have ground cloves in my pantry (shame!), but I did have pumpkin spice.  Pumpkin spice is a yummy mixture of cinnamon, ground cloves, ground ginger, and nutmeg.  I used 2 teaspoons of pumpkin spice and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon.


And now for the wet…I got a little over exited about substituting applesauce for some of the oil, and I ended up using 2/3 cup of sauce and 1/3 cup of oil.  That’s a full cup of liquid when it should have been just 2/3 cup.  Oops.


Hey! There are my legs!

Wet ingredients meet the dry ingredients (with raisins and nuts already included).


Here’s the batter poured into a mini-loaf pan.  This pan belonged to Chris’s late Aunt Edith, and I think she’d be happy to know that I’m using it.  I never had the opportunity to meet her, but I’ve heard great stories about her homemaking skills and her love for Chris.  There’s something special about using old family cookbooks and kitchenware.  It makes me feel connected to my heritage.


The recipe, as printed, bakes for at least an hour.  Of course, I added extra liquid by mistake so my bread took extra long to bake.  In the mean time, I whipped up Halibut with Lentils and Mustard Sauce for dinner.  Poor Chris, his life  is so hard…


Here’s the final product:


This recipes makes A LOT of bread so here’s the muffin version too:


Final Verdict: This recipe is AWESOME!  Despite my goof with the extra liquid, it was absolutely delicious (just a little sticky), but then again, it would be hard for it to taste bad with nearly 3 cups of sugar.  Nevertheless, I think this easily qualifies as my favorite recipe from this cookbook.  Since I’m not into casseroles laced with cheez-whiz, I don’t think I’ll be using this cookbook often.  However, there is a zucchini nut bread recipe that might come in handy if I have a bountiful squash harvest from my garden this summer.

FRS - Muffins - Cranberry Muffins

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I must confess that I’ve made and photographed several recipes over the past month, but I’ve been too lazy to upload and post them.  I like to tweak most of my pictures in Photoshop.  Unfortunately, Photoshop makes me laptop run SUPER SLOW, which makes me SUPER ANGRY, and since I’m not suppose to take anxiety medication while breastfeeding, I procrastinate things that make me want to chunk expensive electronics across the room.  As a compromise, I’m going to post unedited pictures.  (Oh the humanity!)

Several years ago I decided I wanted to open a muffin shop and spent quite a bit of time designing a logo, menu, and concept to my store.  (Chris even had the logo printed on a apron for me when we were dating.  He’s got some crazy awesome wooing skills.)  Despite the plethora of hours spent planning, the only result was a steady stream of muffin cookbooks given to me as gifts.  Don’t get me wrong though.  I loved receiving them.  However, there is only so many ways to make a blueberry muffin, and I’m pretty sure I have the recipe for all of them.

Since muffins aren’t exactly figure friendly, I won’t be making them very often so it might be a while before I find my favorite recipe.  On the bright side, muffins generally freeze well, and this will be an excellent opportunity to find the right recipes for the hypothetical muffin shop.   I thought I’d start out with Muffins by Gemma Reece  (She was wildly creative with her book title.) and her cranberry muffins.  I actually whipped these babies up about a week before Thanksgiving.  We were taking a day off from our dieting to celebrate the holiday, and I wanted to have a special breakfast treat that was lighter than eggs and bacon and required no additional cooking since I was already making 3 pies, 2 pans of stuffing, brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, and peas and artichokes.

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I love that grocery stores stock fresh cranberries around the holidays.  They are so much better than the canned version, and homemade sauce is easy to do.  Thankfully, someone else made the sauce for our Thanksgiving dinner, but I still picked up two bags when I did my holiday shopping.  (They freeze well too.)  I thought I’d make use of them in the muffins.

Here’s the ingredients.  (The little red bowl is salt.)

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One interesting thing about this cookbook is it’s origin.  It’s from England.  The measurements are listed in English measuring units (England actually uses the metric system.  The U.S. uses the English unit.  It’s confusing I know.), but the recipe calls for some hard to find ingredients, like superfine sugar. Like the name suggests, superfine sugar is finer than our typical granulated, but it’s not as fine as confectioner’s sugar.  It’s used by bartenders in cocktails because it dissolves faster, and it’s found in light and uncooked recipes like meringues and souffles.

I did look in several stores for superfine sugar, but in the end, I had to make it myself in the food processor.  Having no experience with superfine sugar, I had to guess at the coarse.  The whole point of the finer sugar is to make the batter have a smoother texture, but it’s not overly important in a baked bread.

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Here’s all the dry ingredients.  Nothing overly exciting to report here.  I did sift my flour.  After all, what would be the point of pulverizing my sugar if I was just going to mix it would clumpy flour?  It did remind me that my sifter sucks so I ordered a new one this week.

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At this time, I’d like to take a moment to encourage you to hug your microwave today.  Some of you guys might remember a time before microwaves, but I have been fortunate enough to always have a microwave.  Well, I did until mine died the week of Thanksgiving.  At first  I thought,  “Ha! I can live without one!”  But that change when I had to melt butter for this recipe.  I actually had to do it twice.  Apparently you have to melt it until it’s transparent,  not cloudy.

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See the clumps?  That’s not because I forgot to temper the eggs;  that’s the butter trying to re-solidify.   I tossed that mess.  I’m not sure if it would have hurt the recipe, but I didn’t want to waste any more ingredients in order to find out.

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We bought a new microwave that weekend.  I promise that I’ll never take my magical heating appliance for granted again.

Here’s the dry ingredients meeting the wet ingredients and becoming the best of friends.  They’ll hook up with the Cranberries soon and sing songs about Ireland warfare.   Oh wait, wrong cranberries.

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We wait to add the fruit so they don’t burst and permeate the batter.  It’s so much better if they burst  in the oven and create sticky little cranberry pockets.   Once the fruit was gently mixed in, it was time to pour them into muffin pans and bake.  I used my awesome Williams-Sonoma muffin pan that was purchased by Chris while we were dating.  They bake muffins better than my other pans.

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I forgot to sprinkle the muffins with the raw sugar before sticking them in the oven and remember about half way through baking.  Most of the sugar stuck, but I regretted forgetting. The muffins, however, were still very pretty and tasty.

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Final Verdict: Not my favorite.  It was good, but it wasn’t fantastic.  I like my fruit muffins a bit sweeter.  However, I’m only experienced in American muffins.  Maybe they don’t like their breakfast pastries as sweet.  Never the less, they were great for Thanksgiving morning.

FRS - Dinner Doctor - Party Peas and Artichokes

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I had high hopes for this recipe from Anne.  I love peas, and I love artichokes.  As long as she didn’t cover them with curry like her last couple of recipes, I thought we’d probably have a winner. You guys know the drill by now.  Here’s the ingredients.  It truly is stuff that you’ll normally have in your pantry and fridge.  The herb is one of the most common herbs, and one you’ll normally buy if you buy them.

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You might be wondering why my peas are in a bag.  Obviously I’m not concerned with brand endorsements with that gigantic PROGRESSO label.  It’s actually leftovers from a bag that I opened for another recipe.  I’m often whipping up a quick vegetable soup so I save all my leftover (still frozen) veggies.  Half a cup of frozen carrots may not seem worth keeping, but a little splash of color in a soup goes a long ways. (I actually opened a second bag and dumped it in the ziplock for the picture since this recipe called for a large volume of peas.  It’s also for aesthetics.)

Here’s most of the ingredients in a pot, waiting to be stirred. We’re missing the herb. It will wilt and get icky if cooked too long.

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Here’s the herb being chopped while the rest of it cooks. (Just for reference, it’s the flat one, not the curly.)

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I spent too much time chopping, and the peas cooked a little too long and turned a dull pea green (get it, pea green) color.  Of course, I’m not sure what color they’re suppose to be.  Most of the recipes in The Dinner Doctor are pictured on the first few pages, but this one is not. Come to think of it, the only ones not picture are the ones I made.  Maybe I’m doing Anne a favor by toeing the line of copyright infringement.  Lets hope she sees it that way.

Here’s the completed dish:

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And because that doesn’t demonstrate that tasty goodness, here’s the close-up:

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Final verdict: This is my favorite recipe from The Dinner Doctor.  It’s great just the way it’s printed.  Next time, I might try sauteing the onion before combine all the ingredients, but even without tweaking, it’s one that I’d gladly serve to company.  In the recipes introduction, Anne states that this is the dish her mom always brought to potlucks, and I can see why.  There’s plenty of it, and it’s plenty good.  It might just make its way to my Thanksgiving table.

Now that we’re finally done with that cookbook, I’m ready to move onto others.  In the time it took me to find my favorite, I purchased 4 more cookbooks and received 3 more as gifts.  This will truly be a never ending quest.  I’ve decided that I’m going to skip reviewing my bread machine books.  I’ll just post pictures, most likely taken with my camera phone, in my flickr.  (You can see my most recently upload pictures in the top right corner.)  The next cookbook I’ll review will probably be a Cooking Light publication, and hopefully the recipes will be available on their site for your personal use.

FRS - Dinner Doctor - Black Bean Soup

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I’m still searching for my favorite recipe in The Dinner Doctor.  Things haven’t been going very well so far.  Time to try my third and final soup.  As always, here’s the ingredients from the copyrighted recipe.  The bottled item is cooking sherry.

I got a tip from a reader that you can buy chopped onions in the freezer section at the grocery store.  This would save me lots of time and tears, but I haven’t had the chance to pick up a bag.

Here’s some of the ingredients dumped into a pot.  This recipe uses the bean juice.  In the past, I always drained and rinsed my beans because I thought the bean juice would give you gas.  However, a good friend taught me that the thick liquid makes a good base for soup.  It makes sense because it’s full of starch that will thicken up broth.


Just like the first recipe, this soup calls for a blender, and again I used my immersion blender.  While we’re talking about kitchen tools, let’s talk about cookware.  It’s important to have good quality cookware, preferably ones with copper bottoms.  This will aid in even heating and cooking. I’ve been trying to replace my pots and pans over the past two years.  I’ve still got a ways to go, but this is a good one.  It’s from Emeril’s line, which is easy to find and is very reasonably priced.

The recipe calls for lemon zest to be stirred into sour cream.  You can grate a lemon on an everyday kitchen grater.  Personally, I like to use a microplane.  It’s easier to use and makes a finer zest.


So here’s the final product according to the recipe.


However, I’ve never  been very good at following recipes as written, and the fact that I’ve made it through three recipes from this cookbook with any modifications is nothing short of amazing.  It so happened that I had sour cream lemon bread sitting on my counter, and it was starting to dry out.  What should you do with bread that’s a little stale? Make croutons!


Croutons are pretty easy to make. Cut a dense loaf of bread into bite sized chunks. Drizzle lightly with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake them in a preheated 350 degree oven until crunchy.

And here’s the soup with croutons.


Final verdict: eh. It was a pretty bland soup as written. Chris loved it, but I think the croutons made a big impression on him than the black bean soup. I also didn’t care for the lemon zest in the sour cream. I’d definitely skip that. I’d also reduce or cut out the chicken broth. I like a black bean soup with thicker viscosity. The search continues with The Dinner Doctor.   I’m out of soups so it’s onto side dishes.

FRS - Dinner Doctor - Curried Crab “Gumbo”

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Well, with the Curried Carrot Soup a bust,  I’m on to my next recipe in Anne Byrn’s the Dinner Doctor. I thought I’d give Curried Crab “Gumbo” a try.  Generally I stay away from things with quotations, but I had all the ingredients in the house.  However, if I keep cooking her recipes, I might run out of curry as it appears to be one of her favorite spices.  This is a bit strange because she’s a pasty white woman.  (As you can see in the last post.)

Here’s the ingredients from the still copyrighted recipe.

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This recipe ranks high in the simplicity category.  If you can dump things in pot, you can make this recipe.   The only skill you need to possess is onion chopping.  Strangely, it’s one I struggle with.  Most people cry when cutting them, but I’m rendered practically blind.  I usually have to chop an onion in multiple stages and must leave the room between them for fresh air.  There are a few tricks to make it a little more manageable.  You can spray your cutting board with vinegar, or you can light a candle to help burn off the gases that cause you to cry.  I recently told Chris about the candle trick and now he’s obsessed with reminding me to do as if he was the one that taught me the trick.

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You can also see my J.A. Henckels Zwillings knife in that picture. It’s an awesome knife. It’s also a very expensive knife. However, I got it at a bargain price of $25 at TJ Maxx. I rarely spend that much money on something from TJ Maxx, but if you look at their usual prices, you’ll understand why I splurged.

So here’s almost everything dumped in the pot.

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After a conversation with my sous-chef, we decide to add the optional shrimp to the “gumbo”.

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The final product:

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Final Verdict: Not my favorite recipe, at least not how it’s printed. Chris said it’s a winner. I think if you substituted a lean summer sausage or ground chicken for the seafood, it would be a lot better. There is a significant amount of pepper sauce in it, and everything tastes good with hot sauce. I’d also change the name of the soup. Just because it has okra, doesn’t mean it’s gumbo, quotations or not.

Favorite Recipe Search (FRS) - Dinner Doctor

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When I started writing my “To Do” list, I knew that it would take a life time to complete.  However, I didn’t fully grasp the amount of time that it would take me to complete what appeared to be a simple task:

100. Find a favorite recipe in every cookbook I own

For a girl that is only 26 years old, I own quite a few cookbooks. Several that I’ve never used, and many that I’ve only used a handful of times. It’s going to take some time to scour over their pages to find recipes that I’d like to try, let alone my favorite.

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I decided to start with the Dinner Doctor by Anne Byrn. I chose this one because I’ve never used it and the whole premise is easy, fast cooking with basic ingredients that are usually in your pantry. My first trial recipe was “Warm Curried Carrot Soup.” We really like soup in this house. In fact, I whip up vegetable soup soup and chili pretty regularly. However, they always have meat so I was a little hesitant to make a meatless soup. But, like the book’s claim, it was easy and fast.

first book

Since it’s under copyright protection, I can’t share the recipes with you. However, here’s a picture of the ingredients. Probably stuff you have in your house already except the ginger. We always have ginger. It’s great to use in marinades, but I don’t use it enough to buy a fresh ginger root. In my experience, the jarred stuff is just as good. I’m sure food critics would disagree but they can shove it.

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Here’s a picture of most of the ingredients cooking. Doesn’t look too appetizing; sorta like the mess that bubbles out of the garbage disposal when the dishwasher is running when we haven’t run the disposal for fear of waking the baby.

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In several of the soup recipes, Anne’s instructions say to pour the cooked mixture into a food processor or blender and puree. However, there is a tool that will save you the frustration of pour hot liquid back and forth, an immersion blender. This fantastic red KitchenAid one was given to us as a wedding gift by Chris’s good friend and groomsman, Jim. I put it on our registry because I wanted to make some tasty soups, but so far, I’ve only used it to make milk shakes. Finally, I get to use it for soups!

immersion blender

So here’s the soup after the puree. Notice the circle imprint from the immersion blender.

final simmer

After pureed, I mixed in the final ingredient. It made the soup creamer. Then I served it up in a lovely white bowl.

Warm Curried Carrot Soup

The soup was pretty good. Though you could taste the spices, it was rather plain. I think it would be nice opening course for chicken satay or with a grilled cheese sandwich with fancy cheese. Coconut milk would probably make it better too, but that is an ingredient most people don’t keep around which would defeat the purpose.

Final Verdict: It’s not my favorite recipe. There are several tantalizing ones in the book so I’ve got high hopes.