Archive for February, 2012

February 15, 2012

Black Bean Soup with Chicken & Avocado Cream

Black Bean Soup with Chicken & Avocado Cream

When my husband and I were dating, we went to this great Tex Mex restaurant in West Hollywood called Marix Tex Mex Cafe. Big platters of sizzling fajitas, Baja fish tacos, fresh guacamole, awesome margaritas, all very California. We were dating bi-coastal for a few years, with me on the right coast and Alan on the left. Frequent weekend trips to Los Angeles were part of the deal. Dinner at Marix was one of our first Los Angeles dinners together. I’ll never forget driving to the restaurant, Alan said that Marix was a neighborhood favorite for Jennifer Aniston and Brad Pitt (they were still married at the time). I’m the quintessential tourist. Although I never bought one of those “maps to the stars” sold on the side of the road in LA, I have been known to get a little excited at the prospect of a celebrity sighting. So that was all I needed to hear to get me psyched about dinner. What this has to do with the black bean soup recipe… I have no idea. I guess making this Mexican soup brought back memories of our dinners at Marix. We’ve gone back a few times for those fajitas and margaritas – but alas, not a single good celebrity sighting when we’ve been there.

So here’s a healthy black bean and chicken soup recipe that has nothing to do with this story other than there’s some really good Mexican food to be had in California.


  • 1 1/2lb ground chicken
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, small dice
  • 1 poblano pepper, small dice
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 – 15oz cans black beans, drained & rinsed
  • 15oz can diced tomatoes
  • 15oz can corn (or frozen kernels)
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 6 drops tabasco (more or less depending on how spicy you like it)
  • 1tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 3 tsp cumin
  • 1 tbsp + 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder
  • Cayenne pepper, pinch
  • Kosher salt & pepper to taste
  • Scant 1/2 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Add a little olive oil to a large stock pot on medium-high heat. Add the ground chicken and cook, stirring frequently. There shouldn’t be much fat released from the chicken as it cooks. If there is, drain a bit of the grease off. ¬†Once the chicken is cooked, add the green and poblano peppers and onion. Cook until softened, then add the garlic. When garlic becomes fragrant, about a minute, add 1/2 of the black beans. Using the back of a wooden spoon or a potato masher, mash the beans – this will help thicken the soup. Add the other half of the beans along with all the remaining ingredients except the cilantro. Stir well to combine and bring to a boil. Immediately reduce to a simmer and cover, cooking for 30 minutes. Taste for seasoning and cook for an additional 30 min. Serve with a dollop of avocado cream and some chips on the side.

* You can omit the chicken and use vegetable stock to make this soup vegetarian. 

Avocado Cream


  • 1/4 cup plain greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1 avocado, mashed
  • 3 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 2 tbsp fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 tsp adobo sauce from can of chipotle in adobo
  • Kosher salt & pepper to taste

Combine the yogurt and sour cream in a bowl. In a separate bowl, mash the avocado well. Add it to the yogurt mixture and whisk together until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients and combine. You can use all sour cream if you prefer. Using the greek yogurt saves a fair amount of calories and it tastes delicious. I used non-fat greek yogurt, but use whatever you prefer. If you want this to be spicy, add more adobo sauce. Dollop on top of soup. This is also delicious served with salsa and chips.

February 11, 2012

Be My Cherry Valentine Sundaes

Cherry Valentine Sundae

Sweets for your sweetie. When I think of Valentine’s Day, the color red comes to mind. My favorite candies were always anything cherry flavored. I can remember growing up buying the assorted rolls of life savers and digging through to find the few lonely cherry sweets in the pack. We used to have this awesome penny candy store in our little town. You would grab a small brown paper bag and pick your candies from huge barrels. I think they were all a penny apiece. So many barrels of cherry candies to choose from! For a quarter you could leave with a bag of cherry flavored loot.

I used to love sitting down as a kid to a big bowl of fresh cherries. I can hear my dad telling me if I swallowed the pits, a cherry tree would grow in my stomach. I knew better. My love of cherries has brought me to make this decadent dessert. The base of the sundae is Cherry Vanilla ice cream. Buy your favorite brand, I used Breyer’s. This cherry sauce has an adult twist, due to the Grand Marnier. You can leave it out if you prefer. It adds a depth of flavor to the cherries and makes it that much more delicious. As far as these chocolately cookies go, they’re perfect to make anytime, anywhere, and especially for no reason at all.


  • 16oz bag frozen cherries, thawed
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp Grand Marnier (optional)

Place the thawed cherries, sugar, and lemon juice in a sauce pan and bring to a simmer on medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 8-10 minutes until the cherries release their juices and the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and stir in the Grand Marnier. Set aside and allow to cool. Place in the refrigerator, covered until cooled completely. Serve over ice cream – yum!


Adapted from Barefoot Contessa, Parties

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 sticks butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking soda and set aside. In a stand mixer, combine the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar, mixing until fluffy and light in color. Add the vanilla, then add the eggs, one at a time, mixing after each addition. Mix in the cocoa. Add the dry ingredients in three parts. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Line your cookie sheets with parchment paper. To make drop cookies I use an OXO cookie scoop, which I love. It makes perfectly uniform cookies. After you place all your scoops on the cookie sheets, dampen your fingers and gently press down the tops of each cookie. Bake for about 15 minutes – you want them to appear underdone. Allow them to cool a little, remove to a rack to completely cool. I bake on the convection setting in my oven and these were done in closer to 12 minutes.

TO MAKE THE CHOCOLATE HEARTS… I baked one large cookie. After it cooled a little I used a small cookie cutter to cut out the hearts. Pretty cute, don’t you think? I should mention I made most of the batch as regular drop cookies and only a few hearts. Cutting out the cookies makes a lot of scraps – which are still delicious, but not so pretty.

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