So I love refried beans and I love black beans but when it comes to refried black beans out of a can I think they are horrible! I don’t know why! So I starting making my own faux refried black beans a few years back. They are simple and deelish!




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I love making homemade soup because it tastes fresh, it isn’t loaded in salt, and it doesn’t have preservatives. Plus it’s pretty easy to make…easier than most people realize! Once I started making homemade soup it was really hard to want to eat the canned stuff anymore. Recently, I’ve started bringing my soups to eat with my lunch everyday and I have to say that I enjoy my lunches much more now and I’m getting in more veggies.


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Yesterday I was going to make lunch (black bean tacos) and realized that I was out of my usual Mission Carb Balance Tortillas. While I was in the pantry trying to find something else to eat, I spied this bag of corn masa flour I had purchased to make some corn relish the Thanksgiving before last. It has just been sitting there lonely and unused. It had no expiration date on it and there were no bugs in it so it looked like it was still good.


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Yummy Hearty Zucchini Muffins

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I originally came across this vegan-friendly recipe when my friend Jenny convinced me to go vegan for a few weeks last spring. It was a really interesting experience and it opened me up to different ways of cooking without eggs or milk, which is helpful when you are trying to make something for people with food allergies. I also love that you can make such moist and tasty muffins filled with fruit and veggies without the use of oil or butter! They have been tested among healthy and junk food eaters alike…all with positive results. Just don’t mention the word “vegan”.


1-1/2 cups wheat flour
1-1/2 cups multigran hot cereal or unprocessed bran
5 tbls ground flax seed
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup raisins

 5 tbls water
1 tbls vanilla
3 cups shredded zucchini (one medium zucchini equals about 1 cup)
1/2 cup shredded carrots
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
2 ripened bananas mashed


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Mix the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and the wet ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. To help make it go faster, I use a small food processor for the zuchinni and carrots. But if you want bigger pieces of zuchinni, you might want to chop them by hand.

Next, combine the wet into the dry and mix thoroughly. The batter will be thick.

Spoon the batter in muffin pans. I use greased silicone muffin pans because I found this is not a muffin that does well in a paper baking cup….you end up with pieces of paper stuck to the muffin!

It will make 2 dozen small-medium sized muffins. If you want to make larger muffins you will need to make fewer and bake them longer.

Bake about 70 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out of the center clean. You should see some browning on the outside. Be careful not to rush and underbake these because they will be gooey inside (and I’m not talking yummy brownie gooey!) because the mix is so thick.


I don’t like putting a lot of added sugar in my muffins so you can experiment with adding a little more if you need to. Everyone seemed to like it fine with the reduced sugar…originally it called for a whole cup! And I’m not really brave enough to try no added sugar. Also, the other versions of zuchinni muffins use white flour but I prefer to use whole wheat flour mixed with bran…I feel like it makes the muffin a little more hearty. I was that weird little kid that liked bran muffins over blueberry or banana-nut.

If anyone has any comments or suggestions let me know!

Elegant Curried Chicken

I got this recipe from my BFF and made it the other night. Not only was it delicious, but it was really easy.

4 skinned de-boned chicken breasts
   - cut into medallions

1 pouch of onion soup mix 

2 tbsp olive oil 
2 large leeks
   – washed and sliced in rounds…use only the white/light green parts
1 onion
   – sliced
3 cups of hot water
2 tbsp curry powder

1 tsp tumeric
1/2 cup whipping cream

Heat oil in a large, heavy saucepan, fry onion and then saute chicken, turning just once until lightly golden (about 5 mins).  Add leaks.  Sprinkle with onion soup mix.  Stir in water and seasonings and bring to the boil.  Cover, reduce heat to simmer and cook for 25 minutes or until chicken is tender.  Using a slotted spoon remove chicken, leaks and onion from pan to a heated platter.  Cover platter to keep warm.  Boil pan juices until reduced by half.  Stir in cream, boil until thick enough to coat a spoon.  Pour over chicken, leaks and onions. Serve over rice or pasta. Make 2-4 servings.

It calls for whipping cream which gives it that rich creamy taste, but I would rather use something a lighter in calories, so next time I think I am going to give it a thai flair and use light coconut milk and maybe thrown in some cashews and bits of pineapple.

This time, I did add a red, yellow, and red bell pepper in because I had them. But you can really add any other veggies you might have laying around. After all, the recipe is just a guideline! Or so my BFF says. :)

Jamie’s Famous Key Lime Meringue Pie

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I love Key Lime Pie…it is my all time favorite dessert. I would take it over any type of chocolate any day! Tonight my Seattle family requested this as dessert so I thought I would share it with everyone. My (almost 3 year old) niece Hannah decided she wanted to help me, but she mostly helped in making a bigger mess. The joys of cooking with a toddler! :)

A few years ago I came up with my own version traditional key lime pie recipe that was extra tart and limey. I also put meringue on top. Since you use the yolks with the pie, why not utilize the whites?!?

The most important part is the lime juice. My favorite lime juice to use is this one:

You can purchase it at some of the nicer grocery stores or sometimes you can find it at a large higher-end liquor store (if you are in Texas, Spec’s carries it). If you can’t find this, get some key limes and squeeze!

So here’s the recipe:
1/2 cup Key Lime juice
2 egg yolks
1 can condensed milk (I usually use fat free)

2 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar

I usually like to make my own crust but you can buy a pre-prepared one.

Pie crust:
1/4 box of graham crackers
3 Tbsp. of sugar
3 Tbsp. butter softened

Ready to bake? Let’s go!

1. Preheat oven to 325°.

2. If you are making your pie crust, crush the graham crackers and mix in the butter and sugar until you get all the butter clumps out and the crumbs are grainy. I use less butter than most recipes because I prefer to not have it too greasy but you may want to add more butter to make the crumbs stick together more. Once the crumbs are ready, spread them out evenly into a normal sized pie pan. Don’t use a super large pan or you will have a really thin pie.

I gave Hannah the job of crushing up the graham crackers…she didn’t last long
though and I ended up reverting to the food processor.
She tried to help me form the crust but ended up getting
crumbs all over her hands and then licked them off.

3. Separate the 2 eggs into yolks and whites and set aside.

4. In a mixing bowl, combine the 2 egg yolks, key lime juice and condensed milk. Mix thoroughly until the filling looks consistent.

She liked the condensed milk and wanted to lick the spatula.
She did an excellent job mixing the filling (yes, I remembered
to wash the spatula after she licked all over it). She’s too cute…
especially with the apron I made her!

5. Pour the filling into pie and bake it for 15-20 minutes, or until the top of the crust browns.

I doubled the recipe to make two pies.

6. While the filling is baking, prepare your meringue. If you have never done meringue before, you will want to use an electric mixer of some sort…do not attempt to manually whip meringue unless you want a serious case of carpel tunnel. Combine the 2 egg whites, cream of tartar, and sugar into a mixing bowl and whip on high until it gets thick and can form a peak (can stand up when you lift your mixer out). Set aside the meringue.

7. Once the filling is done, you can spread the meringue on top. I like to make sure it has a cute little peak right in the middle.

I should confess here that my meringue was kind of like marshmallow
filling here and I only figured out why at the end…I forgot the cream of tartar…whooops!
The cream of tartar is really important component for fluffy meringue.

8. Put it back in the oven for about 5 minutes or until the peak is a little browned. You make want to kick it up to 350° to help get it brown. But don’t overcook the meringue even if it hasn’t really browned, otherwise you will end up with a giant meringue cookie on top of your key lime pie.

9. Take it out the oven, let cool, then enjoy!

Hot out the oven

This is what it looks like when you do the meringue right!
This is a picture of the pie I made last time I was visiting my sister. 

If you have pie left over, cut it into small slices or pieces and freeze. It tastes amazing frozen! Sometimes when I want to make a really big and deep pie, I double the recipe. About 4/5 of this will fit in a large pie pan. The other 1/5 makes a cute little micro pie.

Tomorrow we are off on a family camping trip in the San Juan Islands for the next 4 days…I can’t wait!

I hope you enjoy this recipe, we did! Until later, happy baking!

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