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?

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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!