Black Bean Breakfast Tacos

Using up some leftover slaw to top off the tacos.

I was intrigued by Mario Batali making tacos for breakfast on The Chew a few weeks back during his food stamp budget challenge.  I decided this was something I needed to try in order to bring more variety to breakfast.  I tried to find the original recipe for you readers, but The Chew’s recipe search isn’t always the brightest tool on the site.

I was in love from day one.   I seriously kicked myself for not thinking of this before.  The tacos have so much versatility that you can top it with whatever you want once you have the black bean mix on the tortillas.   You can also use lettuce leaves instead of corn tortillas to make this grain-free.  Want to use another type of bean?  Go for it!  Hate mushrooms?  Leave them out!  Want cheese?  Add it!  Can’t have eggs?  Use more beans and mushrooms!

I initially made it the way I’m giving you.  But I played around with it and used things like leftover coleslaw as the vegetable topping.  I have to say, the coleslaw gave it a nice crunch and a bit of an acidic bite that was refreshing for the morning hours.  It was a vinegar based coleslaw that Chaz made for dinner one night, but my Lemony Slaw would work, too.

Without further ado…

Black Bean Breakfast Tacos – makes 3-4 tacos

grapeseed oil or your choice of oil

3-4 corn tortillas (use lettuce leaves for a grain-free option)

1/4 cup cooked black beans (I cooked 1 cup of dried beans ahead of time and had them in the fridge ready to measure out throughout the week)

1 mushroom, diced (or sliced and torn into small bites)

2 tablespoons diced onion

1 egg, scrambled (omit for vegan option)

1/8 teaspoon ancho chili powder

1/8 teaspoon cumin

healthy pinch cayenne pepper

salt, to taste

1/2 avocado, diced

1/2 tomato, diced

fresh cilantro for garnish

(or instead of avocado and tomato, use any combination of veggies you want)

Heat 2 large pans over medium heat.  Add oil to one pan, enough to coat the bottom well.  In the other pan, add the tortillas and toast lightly (or to your preference on each side).  Remove from the pan when done and lay out on a plate.  Add the onions and mushroom once the oil is warm.  Allow the onions and mushrooms to carmelize and then add the beans and the chili powder, cumin, and cayenne.  Stir well.  Add the scrambled egg and then salt.  Keep stirring to get the eggs cooked through.  Once the eggs are done, divide among the tortillas.  If you are not using eggs, just cook the mixture until the beans are warmed through.  Top with your choice of vegetables and serve with a side of fruit.

Lemon Basil Chicken

Lemon Basil Chicken

My favorite way of fixing a whole chicken in order to reuse leftovers in salads and other dishes is to roast it in a slow cooker.  One good thing my mother taught me in the kitchen was to stuff turkeys with oranges and apples to keep it moist rather than stuff it with stuffing.  I took this lesson and applied it to chicken and varied the items I used to stuff.  Lemons.  Limes. Onions.  Garlic.  Fresh herbs.  Dried herbs.  It’s nearly limitless what you can stuff into a chicken.  There really is no right or wrong way to do it either.

Truss the chicken?  Pffft.  Trussing is for overachievers.  I learned how to truss a long time ago.  I probably could if I really wanted to, but why bother?  There is usually a loose flap of skin on poultry that you can tuck the end of the legs into.  Just stuff the chicken, tuck the legs and place in the slow cooker.  It doesn’t get simpler than that.

I make my chicken go a long way.  Along with this dinner of chicken, artichokes, and mashed potatoes, I used leftover meat to make Chicken Stew and Chicken Salad.  I used the juices to make mashed potatoes in place of butter for a different dinner.  And I used the bones along with veggie scraps I was saving in the freezer to make the broth for the chicken stew.  One chicken, four dishes, eight meals.   Yes, my dinner leftovers are always lunch for the following day.  It’s the easiest way for me to make sure I have a good healthy lunch.  Besides, sometimes leftovers are even better than the first time around.

Lemon Basil Chicken

1 whole chicken

1/2 onion, halved

1 lemon, quartered

large sprig basil (you want lots of leaves on the sprig)

salt and pepper to taste

If you grease your slow cooker take care of that first.  Stuff the main cavity of the chicken with 3 of the lemon quarters, the basil sprig and one of onion quarters.  Stuff the rear cavity with the remaining lemon and onion.  Season the outside of the chicken with salt and pepper and rub the seasoning into the skin well.  Cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours.  Remove to a cutting board and let it rest for at least 5 minutes before carving it.

Lazy Sauce

Cut tomatoes around the core to make them easier to seed and chop.

When you think of spaghetti sauce do you think of slaving over a stove for hours stirring your life away?  That’s how I learned to make it.  Slaving in the kitchen for something that turns out amazing.  It’s worth the work if you have the time.  And the patience.  There are days that I don’t have either.  When my Filipino tapeworm rumbles, it must be fed or there is no end to the grumbling.  Add to that the nature of my job being so physical.  Sometimes I don’t want to be in the kitchen forever.  My feet like to rest, too.

These days my sauces for pasta are easy.  Things that won’t take me a long time to do.  Chop, chop, chop, throw in pot.  Or pan.  Stir a few times.  Voila!  Easy.

What makes it even easier is when you have leftovers to use up but don’t know what to do with them.

Tonight, I made a meat sauce chock full of vegetables.  My intention was to just use tomatoes and a zucchini.  That’s all I bought for the sauce.  However, I found myself with half an eggplant that needed to be used or it would end up tossed and some mushrooms that Chaz bought, but didn’t use.  That would be a lot of chopping though.  I didn’t want to do a lot of chopping.  My body is still in recovery from being glutened 4 times in 2 weeks and work has been very busy which

Veggies in the food processor

has added to the physical stress on my body.  I also had an ACE treatment (acupuncture, chiropractic, and energy work) this afternoon.  So the other question was, prep before or after the appointment?

I chose before.  I threw all the produce in the food processor and then added it to the crock pot with the leftover meatloaf.  It didn’t look quite so colorful as before I started the processor, but there was still flavor and lots of nutrients!

This sauce lends itself to using just about anything for a pasta sauce that you might need to use up.  It helps to stretch that dollar.  You can stretch it even more by saving your veggie trimmings in a ziploc bag in the freezer for making broth later.  I like to use carrots in my sauce when I have them.  I don’t normally use eggplant because it does change the color and the taste of the sauce significantly.  I always use tomatoes and garlic, though.  Always.  That is a must.  I’m hoping the tomato plant I bought Sunday will yield some nice tomatoes in the future for more Lazy Sauce.

Lazy Sauce (serves 6)

1/2 leftover gluten-free meatloaf (if you don’t eat meat or want meat that night, use beans)

Pasta with Lazy Sauce

5 tomatoes, seeded

2 cloves garlic, smashed

1 zucchini, 3 inch slices

4 baby bella mushrooms (ends trimmed)

1 handful basil leaves

salt

Process tomatoes, garlic, zucchini, mushrooms, and basil in food processor for about 4 minutes.  Add veggies through the tube if everything won’t fit at one time.  Place the processed produce in a slow cooker on low with the leftover meatloaf (or beans).  Stir after an hour to help break up the meatloaf.  Cook for at least 6 hours on low.   The longer you have it in the slow cooker the more flavor develops and the juicier it becomes.  Add salt about 30  minutes before serving.  Garnish with anything you like.  Fresh herbs, cheese, etc.  For tonight’s dinner, I garnished with Parmesan cheese and Crushed Chili Pepper.