Prepping for Emergencies - Spicy Black Bean Soup From Can Goods

Where ever you are there is always a natural disaster lurking somewhere. In Florida, where I live, hurricane season begins in June and goes through November. Although we can't predict or protect ourselves from everything there are things we can do to be prepared.

No matter what's going on people have to eat and food can offer comfort in a stressful time.

Many years ago there was a hurricane off the coast of Florida and we were told to stock up on food and water. I headed to my local grocery store to buy a few things but I found the store shelves empty.

That's a scary sight. Not even one can of beanie weenies left on the shelf!

We made it through that hurricane with no problems but I decided that I'd never be in the predicament again!

I began to gather recipes that I could make with canned foods that would keep on my pantry shelf.

When stocking my emergency pantry shelves I have three requirements:

Recipes must be made completely from shelf stable ingredients.
The dish has to taste good.
I have to be able to prepare it with a limited heat source.

For this dish I took a family favorite recipe and modified it to meet my requirements. I'll admit the original is better because I make it with fresh veggies and a ham bone but this version is good in a pinch.

Sweet and Spicy Black Bean Soup 

Sweet and Spicy Black Bean Soup

Makes 4 servings

2 cans black beans
1 can peaches in light syrup or juice
1 can Rotel (Original or Mild depending on your taste)
Chicken or vegetable broth (canned is better but you could use bouillon cubes)
1/4 cup dried onion

Drain the beans.
Drain the peaches and reserve 4 Tablespoons and *save the rest to use later.
Dice the peaches.
Soak the dried onion in 1/2 cup water

Add the onions with the water they soaked in, beans, peaches, syrup/juice and Rotel to a pot set over medium heat. Add enough broth to cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and bring to a boil. Simmer for 15 - 30 minutes**. Taste and adjust as needed. You can add more chicken or veggie broth to make the soup as 'soupy' as you like.

To make this a complete shelf stable meal serve the soup with crackers or corn chips.

*If the peaches are canned in 100% juice I save it to drink. If it's canned in light syrup I add it to my iced tea as part of the sweetener or freeze the syrup in an ice cube tray to add to drinks or as a cold treat.

**If you're in an emergency situation and a heat source is limited you don't have to simmer the soup. It's better heated but you could eat this at room temp if necessary.

I've made this dish several times. Not because we had an emergency situation but because I forgot to take something out of the freezer or I was just in a hurry. I guess that can be considered an emergency:)


A Surprise Birthday Party and Hummingbird Cupcakes

Each month I get together with a group of ladies to work on our scrapbooks. If anyone in the group has a birthday that month we celebrate with a special dessert. This month one of the ladies had a milestone birthday so we decided to throw her a surprise birthday party.

The day started early as usual with everyone working away on their scrapbooks but when we broke for lunch my friend was surprised when her husband, her son and a few extra friends showed up. It took her a few minutes to comprehend that we were having something a little special just for her.


We kept the menu simple...

Grilled pork loin and turkey breast
Fruit salad

Everything was prepared the day before so party day was a breeze. 

That’s the way I like to party!

Instead of a birthday cake I decided to make a variety of cupcakes.

A variety of cupcakes to choose from. Hummingbird, Lemon, Chocolate Peanut Butter and Chocolate Orange.

I’ll be sharing all the cupcake recipes but for today I’ll tell you how I made these yummy Hummingbird cupcakes. The cake portion was delicious but the coconut butter cream icing was to die for. I could eat it by the spoonful and I usually doJ

I’m always looking for ways to make things a little easier so that’s why I started these cupcakes with a box mix.

Like my brownie dessert these are my box mix cupcakes all dressed up and ready to party!

Hummingbird Cupcakes with Coconut Butter Cream Icing

Makes 24 cupcakes

1 boxed white cake mix with pudding in the mix
1-teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup crushed pineapple, well drained and squeezed dry (save the juice for making the cake)
2  ripe bananas, mashed 
1 cup sweetened coconut (plus a little extra to sprinkle on top of the icing)
1/2 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Mix the cake as directed on the back of the package except add the cinnamon to the dry mix and use pineapple juice in place of the water. (If you don’t have enough juice for what is called for add water to bring it up to the amount needed)

Once the cake is mixed stir in the mashed banana, pineapple and coconut. Fill the cupcake liners 2/3 full and bake as directed on the package. (Usually 14 – 19 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.)

Cool the cupcakes in the pan for 5 minutes then remove and continue cooling for 30 minutes. Once the cupcakes are completely cooled icing them with Coconut Butter Cream.

Coconut Butter Cream Icing

(This makes about 7 cups of icing - I usually have icing left over but I'd rather have too much than not enough. Leftover icing can be stored in a covered container in the fridge for 7 -10 days. To use the leftovers bring the icing to room temp and beat till fluffy.)

3 cups unsalted butter (6 sticks)
6 cups confectioners (XXX) sugar, sifted to remove any lumps
1 – 3 teaspoons coconut extract

The butter must be at room temperature. I leave mine on the counter for 6 – 8 hours or even overnight.
Whip the butter in a mixer on high speed until fluffy. Add the sugar 1 cup at a time beating well after each addition. Add the coconut extract 1 teaspoon at a time. Taste after each addition and add more if needed.

Use a pastry bag and a large tip to pipe the icing on each cupcake. Sprinkle with a little coconut. 

My friend is the perfect sport - she loved her surprise party. 

How about you? 

Do you like to be surprised?

Linking up with:

A Stroll Through Life - Inspire Me Tuesday

Grab button for The YUCK Stops Here


Summer Salad - Quinoa and Black Beans

If you're looking for something a little different to serve at your next cook out or pot luck try this summer salad. Quinoa and beans team up to make a deliciously different and versatile dish. It can be eaten as a meal in itself, served as a side dish or even as a filling in your favorite wrap. 

A few facts about quinoa:
  • pronounced keen - wa
  • often called a whole grain it is actually a seed
  • a complete protein - contains all 9 essential amino acids
  • contains iron, lysine and magnesium
  • high in fiber

Quinoa and Black Bean Salad

1 cup quinoa
2 cups chicken stock or veggie stock 
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped
1/2 cup yellow bell pepper, chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely minced
1 - 15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
Juice and zest from 1 lime (about 2 Tablespoons juice)
2 Tablespoons olive oil 
1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes - more or less depending on how hot you like it.  

Important!  Quinoa is coated with toxic chemical called saponin. You must rinse the quinoa before cooking or it will be very bitter. Place the quinoa in a sieve and rinse under running water. The water will look soapy so be sure to rinse until the water runs clear. 

After the quinoa is rinsed place it in a pot with the liquid and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and cook about 15 minutes until the liquid is absorbed and the quinoa is tender. 
While the quinoa is cooking chop the veggies and place in a large bowl and sprinkle with the salt. Add the beans, garlic, lime juice and zest. Toss to coat. 

Once the water is absorbed and the quinoa is tender allow it to cool slightly. 

Add the quinoa to the veggies and beans and toss. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours to allow the flavors to develop. 

Serve and enjoy!


The Ultimate Baked Beans for Your Next Cookout

When I'm in a hurry or there's lots of dishes to prepare for a cookout I have no problem opening a can of baked beans to heat and serve. But there are times when I want to go an extra mile and make something a little more special.

That's when I pull out all the stops and make the ultimate baked beans. My friend refers to these as "Those Beans" because when I make this dish for a potluck she says everyone want to know who made those beans.

Full of bacon, ground beef and three different types of beans it could be a meal in itself.

All it takes is a few cans of beans and a little of this and a little of that...

Ultimate Baked Beans

3 (1 pound) cans pork and beans
1 (1 pound) can lima beans (do not drain)
1 (1 pound) can of kidney beans (drained)
1/2 pound bacon
1 pound ground beef
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup ketchup
1 cup water
1/4 cup yellow mustard
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

Brown the ground beef, drain the fat and set aside.
Cook the bacon until crisp. Drain all but 3 Tablespoons of the bacon fat.
Cook the onion in the reserved bacon fat until tender.
Add the ketchup, water, mustard, brown sugar, vinegar and Worcestershire sauce to the onions and heat through.

Crumble the bacon and mix all the ingredients together in a large baking dish. (I used a cast iron chicken fryer.)

You can add additional ketchup and water if the dish seems too dry.

Bake in the oven at 300 degrees F for 1 1/2 hours until thick and bubbly.
In a crock pot on low 4 hours
for a cookout this can be cooked on the grill. I used a cast iron skillet and set it over the hot coals for 1 1/2 hours.

For your next cookout those beans would be great served with Sweet and Slightly Tangy Coleslaw and your favorite grilled meat. 

What's on your grill this weekend?

Grab button for The YUCK Stops Here

Practice Hospitality - Talking to People in the Store

When I go shopping I'm usually on a mission to get in and get out! 

When I stopped at Sam's Club to buy 8 pounds of unsalted butter I was on that mission. Get the butter and get out. I had a lot on my mind as I was getting ready for a party I'm hosting and I had a long list of things to do. Making 4 dozen cupcakes was one of the items on my list.

I got the butter and was heading for the checkout when I remembered I was out of milk so I took a side step to picked up a gallon. That's when an elderly gentleman stopped me and asked me about the milk. Whole, fat-free, 1%, 2%??? He was completely lost. So for 10 minutes we talked about milk. I didn't know that a simple product like milk could be a topic of conversation! 

When we parted company he said to me "thank you for talking to me". 

It was a brief encounter but his words stuck with me all day. 

"Thank you for talking to me." 

I don't know the facts and figures but I read somewhere that loneliness is rampant in our society. Especially in the elderly who are often time widowed and have lost many of their friends. 

Whether this gentleman was lonely or not I'm glad I took a few minutes out of my busy schedule to have a simple conversation about milk.

Do you talk to strangers when you're out and about?

Check out this post for a few ideas for talking and listening to people when you're out and about.

Strangers and Pilgrims on Earth


Summer Grilling - Chicken Kabobs with Pineapple Ginger Marinade

It's summer and we're really putting our grill to good use. Last night we grilled chicken that had been marinated with a combination of pineapple, ginger, garlic and few other ingredients. To go with the chicken I stir fried fresh veggies and used the same marinade ingredients to make a sauce that I served over kelp noodles.

Have you ever eaten kelp noodles?

This was a first for us and I was a little leery. I'm not fond of seafood and I wasn't sure if it would taste fishy. But the package promised it was a neutral flavor and since kelp is very high in calcium I decided to give it a try.

I purchased the kelp noodles from Whole Foods. Be forewarned. If you've never used kelp noodles before it looks a little bizarre when you open the package. Like clear plastic strings. The noodles can be eaten right out of the package in salad or you can cook them in liquid. They're still clear as you can see in the picture of the finished dish.

I used a mini chopper to make the marinade.

Bright, crisp veggies and clear noodles are so pretty in the pan!

Grilled Pineapple Ginger Chicken Kabobs With Veggies and Kelp Noodles 

This recipe will make four generous servings.

8 wooden skewers soaked in water for about 15 minutes. 

2 pounds of boneless chicken breast (About 4 large breasts)

Cut the chicken in to chunks roughly 1 1/2  inch square pieces
Place the chicken in a gallon sized zip type plastic food storage bag.

2 cups unsweetened pineapple juice
2 Tablespoon Ume Plum Vinegar OR Apple Cider Vinegar
1/4 cup oil (I used olive oil)
4 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 Tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger 
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
1 Tablespoon sugar 
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (more or less to your liking)

Whisk all the ingredients together and reserve 1 cup to use later. Pour the remaining marinade into the bag. Seal the bag and place in the fridge to marinate for at least 1 hour but not more than 4 hours. Turn the bag occasionally while the chicken marinates. 

When you're ready to grill equally divide the chicken and thread it on to the skewers. Discard the excess marinade.
Grill over hot coals for 5 minutes. Flip and grill another 5 minutes. Check for doneness. Make sure the chicken is no longer pink inside. 

Cook the veggies and noodles while the chicken grills. 

4 cups of broccoli florets
1 medium red or white onion cut in chunks
1 medium red or green pepper cut in chunks
1 clove of garlic, minced 
2 - 3 Tablespoons of oil for stir frying

Heat the oil in a large skillet or wok add the garlic and cook 30 seconds. Add the veggies in the following order. 
Broccoli - cook for 2 minutes
Onions - cook for 1 minute
Peppers - cook for 2 minute
The veggies should be crisp tender. Don't over cook.
Continue on to the sauce and noodles

Noodles and Sauce:
To the reserved marinade add:
2 cups of veggie or chicken stock
1/2  cup of pineapple juice
1 finely grated carrot
Packaged Kelp Noodles

Once the veggie have been stir fried pour the sauce over the veggies and add the package of kelp noodles. The noodles only need 5 minutes to soften up. 
Adjust the flavorings and add more soy sauce if needed. 

I hope you'll give Kelp Noodles a try! I did and I like it for a change of pace.

So what's on your grill this summer?


Sweet and Slightly Tangy Coleslaw For Your 4th of July Celebration

In my last post I shared a favorite book Table Experiment: Loving Your Neighbor One Meal at a Time by Ryan J. Pelton.  A partial quote from the author really caught my attention.

"implement the art of hospitality back into the daily rhythms of life"
This makes me think about how we can complicate the act of hospitality. The house has to be perfectly decorated and clean. The table must be beautifully set with a special centerpiece, matching napkins and of course a cute little name place card for each guest. The food must be right off the pages of the latest magazine or get the idea.

This is why I named my blog A Plate at My Table. I hope to convey that hospitality can be as simple as setting an extra place at the family dinner table. Inviting people to sit down to share your meal.

Share your table - Share your life

Almost every night I make dinner for six so adding one or two more people around the table isn't really that difficult. The other night we included a young couple and their baby at our impromptu cookout. 

We ate outside on the porch so it didn't matter that the house was a little messy.

The menu was simple.
A plate of sliced tomatoes, onions and lettuce to top our grilled burgers, baked beans (yep, right out of the can) and coleslaw. 

Now that's a burger!

Holidays Make it Easy to Invite Someone Over

If you aren't comfortable inviting someone over on short notice or when nothing special is going on take advantage of the upcoming 4th of July holiday. Holidays are the perfect time to entertain guest.
Remember that even for a holiday the menu can be simple.

Throw some burgers on the grill, open a can or two of baked beans and make a big bowl of coleslaw. You're good to go!

The Coleslaw

I'm not sure about other parts of the country but in the South everyone has their own version of coleslaw. Some people swear by coleslaw made with sweet relish other's use only dill relish. Apple cider vinegar or white vinegar, add carrots, don't add carrots. A few radicals even add an apple or grapes! I've had icebox coleslaw and hot coleslaw. After years of trying I finally perfected what my family says is their favorite version.

A combination of crunchy cabbage and carrots that's sweet and a little tangy with just a hint of dill. 

Sweet and Slightly Tangy Coleslaw
Recipe will serve 6 and can easily be doubled to meet your needs. 

About 7 cups of shredded cabbage 
1 or 2 carrots - shredded
14-ounce bag of shredded cabbage with carrots 

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 Tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
2 Tablespoons water
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons finely minced red onion
1/2 teaspoon dried dill 

Combine all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk together until smooth. 

Place cabbage and carrots in a large bowl. Pour on the dressing and stir. 
For best results refrigerate at least 2 hours. 

Will you be serving a special coleslaw at your 4th of July get together?

So Much At Home

Strangers and Pilgrims on Earth

Grab button for The YUCK Stops Here