Everyone's A Critic

While people usually get excited about the prospect of free food, sometimes I think my friends are secretly afraid.

Because they know it comes with follow up questions.

Is it too dry?

Too salty?

Too sweet?

Too tofu?

I can always see them analyzing the food a little bit trying to figure out if I snuck something weird in there.

Then as they take initial bites, I am furiously trying to gauge their reaction while being as inconspicuous as possible  which really amounts to an a herculean effort to assess any facial twitches using only my peripheral vision.

If they hesitate before answering the post-mastication quiz, I automatically assume they hate it and mentally scrap the recipe in my head.

I am very critical of my food.

The vision in my head almost never translates to the final product.

And sometimes I think people are just being nice when they tell me something tastes good.

But I know something is good when someone asks for the recipe.

Requested Recipe:


A black bean chili cooked in dark, roasty beer and topped with fire roasted tomatoes, crispy romaine, cilantro, and green onion. Choose a good, dark beer for the best flavor.

For Black Bean Layer:

1 large onion, chopped (reserve half for tomato layer)

2 stalks celery, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 teaspoons olive oil

2 (15 oz) cans black beans, drained and rinsed

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 (12 oz) bottle of dark beer (see tidbit)

2 teaspoons honey (optional)

salt + pepper to taste

For tomato layer:

1/2 large onion, chopped (reserved from beans)

1 teaspoon olive oil

2 (14.5 oz) cans fire roasted tomatoes (no salt added), drained

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flake

1/8 teaspoon salt

pinch pepper

For Romaine Layer:

1 cup chopped romaine

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

3 green onions, sliced

In a large pot, saute onion, celery, and garlic in 2 teaspoons of olive oil until soft.

Add black beans, beer, and chili powder.

Cook over high heat until most of the liquid has evaporated (about 10 minutes).

Continue cooking over medium heat for another 20 minutes or until mixture is thick and almost no liquid remains.

Salt and pepper to taste.

While black beans are cooking, add remaining onion and oil to medium sized pot and cook until soft.

Add drained tomatoes and red pepper flake and simmer for 20-30 minutes.

Add salt and pepper and remove from heat.

When liquid has evaporated from both the beans and the tomatoes, pour beans into serving dish.

Layer the tomato mixture on top.

Toss the romaine, cilantro, and green onion together.

Sprinkle the romaine mixture on top of the tomatoes just before serving.

*Tidbit: I chose a bitter stout beer brewed with coffee for this recipe and added honey off-set the bitterness. Any not-too-sweet porter or stout will work here but a nice lager or ale would be equally delicious.

If you ask for one of my recipes, you become the recipient of all my future culinary adventures by default.

Please neatly print your critique on white copy paper and don’t forget to add your name, date, and willingness to participate in future taste-testing nonsense.

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Brownie Points

Sit down.


Sit down.


Are you sitting down?


Because this recipe could knock you off your feet.

Brownie Batter Dip.


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And it’s healthy.

Are you still sitting down?

Because the ingredients may scare shock you.

There’s only four.

Black beans, cocoa powder, black cocoa powder and pure maple syrup.

You might be wondering what the difference between cocoa powder and black cocoa powder is.

Here’s a visual:

Cocoa powder.

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Black cocoa powder.

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Black cocoa powder tastes like Oreo cookies.

Find some.


Just in case you can’t find any, feel free to use 3-4 tablespoons of regular (i.e. boring) cocoa powder.***

(***UPDATE: After a careful comparison of about 22 spoonfuls of brownie batter dip, it NEEDS the black cocoa powder. Fear not! I will be working on a new recipe for those folks that can’t find the black cocoa powder!).

Hold all your bean biases until you try the dip.

It even passed the pregnant- lady- at- work test.

That means things.

Like, even fetus’ love this dip.

And I don’t even think a fetus has fully developed taste-buds.


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1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed

6 tablespoons maple syrup (just over 1/3 cup)

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

1 tablespoon black cocoa powder

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor.

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Blend until creamy and smooth.

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Serve with fresh fruit, pretzels, cookies, or crackers.

Morracan Carrot Salad and Brownie Batter Dip 367

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Or just eat it from a spoon like any decent human being.

Feel free to teach the batter to mouth technique to the fetus at a developmentally appropriate age.

*March “Clean” Eating tidbit: This recipe used the last can of black beans from the pantry!

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