Plain White Rice

[from]Plain white rice, are you kidding me? It’s so simple that a child can make it. Yet it took me well into my adulthood to remember the ratio of water-to-rice and I still forget the darn salt from time to time. Plus it’s a staple we eat at least once a week, usually as part of some vegetarian dinner effort.


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Black Bean Soup

In the fall one of my weeknight go-to meals is soup. It’s mostly a combine and simmer effort which is perfect after a day at work and the diminishing light of the day.

Black Bean Soup
Servings: 4-6
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 75 minutes


  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 medium red onion, 1/4″ dice
  • 2 Tbsp. dark brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp. ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 14.5 oz. can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 1 6 oz. can tomato paste
  • 2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 2 15 oz. cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • yogurt, diced avocado, chopped cilantro (optional)


  1. Heat oil in a dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add onions and a generous pinch of salt. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes until tender. Add brown sugar, spices and garlic. Stir to combine and heat until fragrant; 1 to 2 minutes.
  2. Add tomato products, broth and orange juice. Stir until tomato paste is incorporated. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Add black beans, stir to incorporate and cook for 20 more minutes. Beans should be heated through and slightly softened.
  4. Taste for seasoning; adjust if needed. Serve with in a bowl with your choice of toppings.

This recipe is based on one I found while sorting through the stack of recipes that get printed out, made once and forgotten. I’ve tweaked the original recipe to match my preferences and written up my version of the instructions.

The original recipe apparently came from Southern Living magazine circa 2008.

Saturday night – 10/18/2014

Sometime during the week I decided a meat-free dinner was in order this week. After bouncing a few ideas around in my head I asked Ted if he would make his vegetarian chili. He uses roasted poblano and cubanelle peppers as the base, keeps the kidney beans as a side note, adds tasty things like barley malt extract and porter for flavor and thickens it with lentils. Some fairly plain rice adds a bit of bulk and a fallish salad filled out the menu.

Ted’s Vegetarian Chili
– optional avocado, sour cream, raw onions and cheddar cheese
Baked White Rice
Green Salad with Apples, Radishes and Toasted Walnut with Pomegranate Vinaigrette

Reese’s Gooey Cake Bars

Notes under the cut

Butternut Squash/Apple Cake with Tangerine-Ginger Streusel

Last weekend I roasted some cubed butternut squash, tossed it with finely chopped red peppers, and served it as a side dish. I had a fair amount left over and got it in my head that I wanted to make dessert with it for some reason or another. If I’m being honest squash pie isn’t my favorite pie. It falls well behind apple, chocolate cream and chicken.

Butternut Squash/Apple Cake with Tangerine-Ginger Streusel

Butternut Squash/Apple Cake with Tangerine-Ginger Streusel

Google found me 12 Perfect Fall Desserts Made with Winter Squash, one of which seemed to fit what was in my head. Crystallized ginger was not to be found at my local mega mart though so I used some homemade candied tangerine peel that Ted made back when tangerines were in season. The result was surprisingly moist with the squash basically disappearing into the cake.

Slice of Butternut Squash/Apple Cake with Tangerine-Ginger Streusel

The last slice of cake.

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Saturday night – 10/11/2014

No kids this week and a smaller than usual group made for a relaxed afternoon; at least for me. Ted cooked the main parts of the meal while I experimented with dessert and tackled the oh so difficult task of boiling water for noodles. Ted also showed me how to make his focaccia. I might even remember a bit of it.

Country-style pork braised with red wine and orange
Buttered Egg Noodles
Stir-fry carrots, onion, peppers and celery

Butternut Squash/Apple Cake with candied tangerine streusel

Notes under the cut

Oven Barbecued Ribs

This recipe comes from my parents. It’s unclear to me who created it. I thought it was my dad however my mom still makes it and it tastes as good as ever. I think the only difference is that she finishes them in the oven while he used the grill. I find her way infinitely more practical as the grill can be a finicky thing.

Oven Barbecued Ribs
Servings: 6
Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: 2.5 hours


  • 4 lbs. country-style pork ribs
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 lg. onions, 1/2″ dice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups ketchup
  • 3/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. hot sauce


  1. Cover ribs with water in a large pot. Bring to a boil (this might take 30 minutes), reduce to a simmer and cook for 1 hour (start the timer after they come to a simmer). The pork should be fork tender but not falling off the ribs (yet).
  2. While ribs cook melt butter in a saucepan or skillet and cook onions until tender over medium heat. Add garlic and cook until fragrant. Add remaining ingredients and stir to incorporate. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 5-10 minutes. Taste the sauce for flavor, adjust as desired and set aside.
  3. When the pork is ready line a cutting board with paper towels and transfer the pork to the board.
  4. Preheat oven to 400°F. Place a large oven bag in a roasting pan and add in a 1/2 a cup of sauce. Nestle about half of the ribs into the bag. Drizzle a 1/4 cup of sauce over the first layer of pork. Add the remaining ribs and drizzle that with another 1/4 cube of sauce.
  5. Tie the bag shut and bake for 45 minutes.
  6. Remove roasting pan to a rack and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes. Reheat the leftover sauce you made earlier. Transfer ribs to platter and serve with extra sauce on the side.

This is a great make ahead meal. It tastes even better after cooling, sitting in the fridge overnight and reheating.

If you don’t have an oven bag then you can line the roasting pan with aluminum foil and spray the foil with cooking spray. This will aid in clean-up. Add the ribs to the pan and toss them in a cup of the sauce. Cover the pan with foil and bake as in step 5 above. Feel free to turn the ribs occasionally to get all sides covered in flavorful sauce.

Saturday night – 10/04/2014

We celebrated my friend Dave’s birthday this week for Saturday night. When we can I try to find out what the guest of honor would like. Dave said he loves the chicken and sausage bake so that’s what we enjoyed.

This week Ted took on a couple of the main items and I tackled the veggies and dessert.

Chicken and Sausage Bake
Baked Macaroni and Cheese
Roasted Green Beans
Butternut Squash with Red Pepper and Thyme

Devils Food Cake with Chocolate Frosting

Notes under the cut