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by Sarah Steimer

I made this for Bill’s birthday in October, and then again for my family when I went home for Thanksgiving. Enchiladas might be one of my new favorite meals to make. It’s so easy to mix and match flavors depending on the season or whatever is in your refrigerator.

  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cubed
  • olive oil
  • 1/2 medium red onion, sliced thin
  • salt
  • 1 cup black beans (cooked)
  • 1/4 cup diced green chiles
  • 1/2 tablespoon chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 chicken breast, poached and roughly chopped (I use bone-in, skin-on chicken and then pull the meat off after poaching, but boneless, skinless is a bit faster)
  • 4 soft corn tortillas
  • 1 cup salsa verde
  • 1/2 cup Monterey jack cheese, shredded

Simmer the sweet potato in a small pot until the cubes are soft enough to be mashed. About 10-15 minutes.

In the meantime, heat enough olive oil to cover the bottom of a small saute pan. Add the onions to the oil, along with a pinch of salt. Cook until the onions are just caramelized.

Want more than just four enchiladas? Double the recipe and use a regular 13-by-9-inch pan.

Mash the sweet potatoes and mix in the black beans, diced chiles, chili powder, garlic, cumin and salt to taste.

Place about half of the salsa in an 8-by-8-inch (or 9-inch) square baking dish. Shake to distribute the salsa in the bottom of the dish.

Distribute the mashed sweet potatoes and black beans, caramelized onion and a sprinkle of the cheese (leave about half for the top). Roll each taco up and place in the baking dish, with the seams facing down. Pour the rest of the salsa on top and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

Bake the enchiladas at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, until the cheese has melted.

Makes four enchiladas, or two-three servings.

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by Sarah Steimer

I actually thought I overcooked these brownies, but the black beans kept them super moist. Unless you say so, no one would ever know there are black beans in this recipe.

  • 3/4 cup cooked black beans
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil or olive oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup sugar (I cut this back from the original recipe’s 2/3 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon instant coffee or espresso
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips, divided
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup chopped walnuts, optional

In a food processor or blender, puree the beans with the oil. Add the eggs, cocoa, sugar, coffee and vanilla.

Melt half the chocolate chips and add to the machine. Blend until smooth.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the mixer and pulse until just incorporated. Stir in the remaining chocolate chips and walnuts, if using.

Pour into 9-by-9-inch or 8-by-8-inch prepared pan — either butter and flour the pan or line with parchment paper.

Bake at 350 degrees or until the surface looks somewhat matte around the edges and the center springs back up to the touch, about 20 minutes. Let cool for at least 15 minutes before cutting and removing from the pan. Dust with powdered sugar if desired.

Store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator.

Makes about 12 brownies.

Recipe adapted from: Melissa d’Arabian via the Food Network

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by Sarah Steimer

Grilling fish is not easy, it stuck to the grate a lot even though I brushed it with olive oil first. I’m sure baking the fish instead of grilling it would give you nearly the same effect.

For the corn salsa:

  • 1 cup corn (fresh, frozen or rinsed from a can)
  • 2/3 cup black beans
  • 1/4 cup red onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, diced (de-seed if it’s a very hot pepper)
  • 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper (again, lessen if this is too hot for you)
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients. Let sit in the refrigerator for at least an hour so the flavors can combine well.

The salsa is great just with chips as well.

For the fish

  • 3 tilapia fillets
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 6 small corn tortillas

Brush both sides of the tilapia with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill (or bake) until the fish is cooked through, which should mean it should be firm when you touch it in the center.

Remove the fish from the grill (or oven) and flake with a fork. Grill the corn tortillas and serve the fish with the salsa, along with additional tomato salsa and sour cream, if you please.

Makes three servings.

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by Sarah Steimer

I served this sloppy Joe with a side of lemony potato-fennel salad. That’s Bill’s Mexican-imported Pepsi he found at a convenience store. Made with real sugar! Wild.

  • 2 (14.5-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can petite diced tomatoes, drained OR 2 medium-sized tomatoes, diced
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 15-ounce jar prepared salsa
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 buns
  • cheese (optional)

Combine the beans, tomatoes, mustard, sugar, Worcestershire sauce, cumin, salsa and salt in a deep skillet. Cook over medium heat until warmed all the way through. Serve immediately.

Recipe from: Heather Likes Food

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by Caitlin Saniga

These make great warm-weather appetizers. Or you can be like me, and load 20 onto a plate for dinner.

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped finely
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup uncooked rice
  • 20 mini bell peppers, sliced down the middle and deseeded
  • about 1 cup arugula
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 30-40 cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • Salsa for dipping (optional)

Heat the olive oil in a medium pan over medium heat. Add the onions, and cook about 4 minutes, or until they become golden and translucent. Stir in the uncooked rice, and cook for 2 more minutes, or until the rice turns golden.

Transfer the rice and onions to a pot, and cook the rice according to package directions.

In the meantime, arrange an oven rack about 6 inches from the broiler, and set the broiler to low heat. Place the peppers cut side up on a baking sheet, working in batches if necessary. Load the baking sheet onto the oven rack, and let cook for about 4 minutes, or until the peppers’ edges brown. (Keep an eye on them, you don’t want them to cook too long and become soggy.)

Once the peppers are out of the oven, place 2 or 3 arugula leaves in each pepper. Mix the black beans in with the rice. Add a spoonful of rice mixture to each pepper. Top with tomatoes. Serve alongside salsa, if desired.

Makes 40.

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by Sarah Steimer

Don't make this if you're very, very hungry - like we did. Not that it won't fill you up, it will. It just takes a little longer to prepare than you would expect and the fantastic smells will kill you.

  • 4 flour tortillas*
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 15-ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 12 ounces beer (this is the average bottle size – choose a milder beer like an amber ale or lager)
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 cup chopped bell peppers (or another vegetable of  your choice, or just more corn)
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 8 ounces shredded cheese – we went with Monterey Jack

    Neither corn nor peppers are in season where I live - BUT this was the perfect time to whip out the veggies I blanched and froze at the end of last summer!

Spray a springform pan with oil, or apply oil with a paper towel. Place one tortilla in the bottom of the pan, trimming the edges if necessary.

In a pan with oil, add the onions, garlic, jalapeno, cumin, and salt and pepper to taste. Sauté until onions have softened.

Add the beans and the beer, bringing the liquid to a rolling boil. Reduce to a simmer and allow the liquid to almost completely evaporate. The recipe said this should take 8-12 minutes but I think that was a complete lie. It felt more like 15-20 or so. But we were also wildly hungry so it may not have taken that long.

Add the peppers, corn and scallions until heated through. Remove from the heat.

Layer about 1/2 cup or so of the mixture onto the tortilla in the pan, followed by a handful of cheese and top with another tortilla. Repeat and finish with the last tortilla on top, sprinkling some extra cheese on this.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes, or until the cheese melts and starts to brown. Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes before cutting.

Makes about four servings.

*I don’t have a springform pan and, instead, used an 8-inch cake round and smaller tortillas. Because the sides of my pan were not very high, we were only able to layer four tortillas and had about two cups of the black bean mixture left.

Recipe adapted from: Elly Says Opa!

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by Sarah Steimer

I used acorn squash, but would suggest using a less-stringly squash like butternut or delicata.

For the squash

  • 1 pound winter squash OR you can substitute sweet potatoes (probably awesome)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, plus some greasing for the pan
  • 1 or 2 canned chipotle chiles, chopped, with 2 tablespoons adobo sauce (this comes in the same can, if you’re new to the chipotle scene)
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon honey

    I actually could have gone for a little extra glaze on on my squash - might make more next time around.

  • Salt and black pepper

In a small bowl – or with a mortal and pestle – combine the olive oil, chiles, adobo sauce, garlic and honey. Toss the cubed squash in the mixture, or use brush to coat the squash. Either way, place the squash on a lightly oiled cooking sheet or glass dish. Roast at 350 degrees for 45-60 minutes, or until you can easily insert a knife into the squash.

For the black beans

  • 1 can black beans (drain only SOME of the juices)
  • olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3/4 cup diced onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/3 cup roasted red pepper, chopped
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Sauté the onions and garlic on medium heat in the olive oil until soft. Add the cumin to the pan and combine. Add half the can of black beans to the pan, including the juices. Rinse the rest of the beans and add to the pan. Simmer the beans for 7-10 minutes (adding water if it seems to get too dry). Mash 1/3 or 1/2 the beans with a fork. Add the roasted red pepper, salt and pepper.

For the rice

  • 2 cups cooked rice (I’m a big fan of basmati rice – which comes white or brown)
  • 1/2 tablespoon butter
  • juice from 1/2 lime
  • loose 1/3 cup cilantro, roughly chopped

Once the rice is cooked, add the butter, lime juice and cilantro.

Layer – in order – the rice, beans and top with the glazed squash. Garnish with cilantro and lime wedges.

Makes about 2 or 3 servings.

Recipe adapted from: Cookie + Kate

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by Sarah Steimer

Mexican food is sort of fun to take into the winter. Because peppers and corn are no longer in season, you can replace them with sweet potatoes and beans.

  •  1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
  • 1 3/4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried cilantro
  • 1 small onion, diced (1 cup)
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes
  • 1 15-oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 16-ounce jar prepared medium salsa (or make your own, of course)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, minced
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup shredded jack cheese (we used pepper jack), plus more for topping
  • 8 large tortillas

Wash the sweet potatoes and pierce with a fork all over. Bake in the oven in a glass or tin dish at 400 degrees until soft – about 30 to 40 minutes.

In a sauce pan, combine the tomato sauce, broth, chili powder, cumin, cilantro and 1 teaspoon of the minced garlic. Keep at a low simmer until heated through then cover until ready to use.

You can also experiment with totally different flavors just by switching up what type of salsa you use. (P.S. We halved this recipe when we made it - in case you're counting the enchiladas in this picture)

Once the potatoes are ready and have cooled to touch, peel the skins off (this happens very easily). Mash the potato with a fork or masher. Saute the onion until translucent in a pan with olive oil; add the sweet potato, diced tomatoes, drained black beans, salsa, jalapeno and the remainder of the garlic. Once well combined, add the cheese.

Brush the bottom a 9-by-13 glass baking dish with olive oil. Spread about 1/2 cup (or so) of the tomato sauce mixture on the bottom. Fill each tortilla with the black bean and sweet potato mixture. Roll the enchilada up and place in the pan (width-wise), seam side down. Continue until the pan is filled and all the enchiladas feel snug. Top with remaining tomato sauce and a sprinkle of cheese.

Bake in an oven at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until bubbly. You can also pop the enchiladas under the broiler for the last 5 minutes – or ignore this step if you can’t figure out the boiler on your oven like me.

Makes 8 enchiladas.

Recipe adapted from: Vegetarian Times

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by Sarah Steimer

I also tried a patty pan stuffed with rice, basil and ricotta a different time. They're so versatile, the meal depends entirely on what you're in the mood for.

  • 2 large patty pan squash, about the same size so they cook evenly
  • olive oil
  • 1 cup rice (preferably basmati rice!), cooked
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, cut in halves
  • 2/3 cup corn
  • 1/3 cup black beans
  • few leaves of fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Cut the stem off the patty pan squash. Brush the squash with olive oil and bake in a glass pan at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes, or until you can easily insert a knife into the vegetables.

I can't get over the corn and tomatoes we've been getting at the farmer's market - best.

In a saute pan, heat a little olive oil and saute the cherry tomatoes, corn and black beans. Add the honey, basil and season with salt and pepper. Mix with the rice.

Once the patty pan are cooked, let the cool until you can touch them without swearing. With the offed-stem side down so the squash does not roll, cut about a 1 and 1/2-inch circle off the top and scoop out the mush and seeds inside, without going through the skin – think carving a Halloween pumpkin.

Stuff the squash with the rice mixture and serve.

Makes two servings.

Recipe: Sarah Steimer

Photo: Sarah Steimer

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by Caitlin Saniga

This recipe is a throwback to one of my favorite Mexican-style, local-fresh restaurants in the world: Taco Tanto's in Kent, Ohio. These tacos were my go-to meal if Sarah and I didn't have time to cook.

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into small chunks
  • 1 cup mixed greens, roughly chopped
  • 1 small bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup black beans, rinsed
  • 2 tablespoons Italian dressing, divided
  • 6 6-inch flour tortillas
  • 6-8 grape tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese (more is good, too)
  • hot sauce and lime wedges, to pass alongside

Steam sweet potatoes in a small pot until a fork prick glides cleanly through the potatoes.

Meanwhile, mix greens and cilantro in a small bowl. Combine black beans and 1 tablespoon Italian dressing in another small bowl.

Mash steamed sweet potatoes with the back of a fork in another small bowl, incorporating the remaining 1 tablespoon Italian dressing.

Assemble tacos by topping tortillas with layers of sweet potato mixture, bean mixture, greens mixture, tomatoes and cheese. Squeeze fresh lime juice over and sprinkle with hot sauce, if desired.

Makes 6 tacos.

Recipe: Caitlin Saniga

Photos: Caitlin Saniga

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