Perfect Refried Beans

me: So, the other day I decided (and just redecided right now) I want a robot that will make me homemade refried black beans on demand.

Laura: Hahaha! That’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever said

me: Hahaha, surely that can’t be the most ridiculous thing I’ve EVER said! Maybe in a while, but ever? 🙂

Laura: Ever

me: Hahaha! Well I still think it would be awesome. I mean it could do other household chores, like laundry and the dishes, but its primary duty would be to make me refried beans.

I’m not sure there are words to adequately express just how much I love refried beans, but that conversation with Laura is probably a pretty good illustration. In fact, I’m pretty sure my love of Mexican food actually stems from my love of refried beans. When we were in Mexico for Christmas two years ago, I swear I ate refried beans at every single meal. This is also where I became obsessed with refried bean and cheese omelets. (I know; I know. It sounds weird, but it’s delicious. Trust me.)

I’ve been making homemade refried beans for at least a year now, but I never really measured my spices or wrote anything down. Then a couple of weeks ago I set out on the quest for the perfect pot of refried beans. I started measuring, and writing, and tasting, and I am confident in saying I have finally perfected my recipe.

But before I get on with sharing it, can we take a moment to discuss the fact that refried beans are easily Top 5 on the list of least photogenic foods. The chip + Instagram was my attempt to make my bowl of refried beans look appetizing and photogenic. How did I do? Yeah…on to the deliciousness!

Prefect Refried Black Beans
View/ Print on Recipage
Yields: about 3, ½ cup servings Points Plus: 3


  • 1 – 15 ounce can of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • ½ – 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon dried cilantro
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin


  • Pour beans into small sauce pan and add enough vegetable broth to just cover the beans. Add garlic powder, onion powder, salt, cilantro, and cumin and stir until spices are dissolved.
  • Bring to boil over medium-high heat.
  • Once boiling, remove from heat and mash beans with a potato masher. NOTE: This will result in there still being some larger chucks of black beans in the mix. For smoother refried beans use an immersion blender or carefully pour mixture into a blender.
  • Spray a skillet with a thin coating of cooking spray, add mashed bean mixture and “fry” over medium heat for 1 – 2 minutes stirring occasionally.

Serve your favorite way! Nachos, tacos, enchiladas, toastadas, with chips, in an omelet, the possibilities are endless!

Chewy Salted Dark Chocolate Cherry Food Processor Cookies

My mom is a Foods and Nutrition teacher (fka Home Ec.) so growing up homemade food was pretty much the norm.  Dinner was almost always home cooked.  Homemade baked goods appeared on the regular, and every year on my birthday, I got a decorated character cake.  (That character cake tradition actually continued until I was like 25…)

I also did a lot of cooking and baking growing up.  One of my earliest cooking-related memories is making stained glass Jell-O at kid’s cooking class through the park district.  We even got a little cookbook to take home with us.  I also remember having a blue apron with teddy bears on it that my mom made me.

Of course having a mom whose job revolves around the kitchen has its negatives.  For example, I have become a total kitchen snob.  I won’t accept anything less than quality kitchen items.  I live for OXO, Kitchen Aid, Wilton, Calphalon, and Cuisinart (just to name a few), and let’s be honest, if I could afford to outfit my entire kitchen with Le Cruset and Williams Sonoma, I totally would.

And I truly do not understand how people function without a Kitchen Aid stand-mixer.  I mean, how does one mix cake batter or cookie dough without it?  I’m joking really, but if I’m being totally honest here, I truly can’t remember a single time I’ve baked something without using a Kitchen Aid stand-mixer.  Until these cookies, that is.

Apparently you can make cookie dough using a food processor.  Who knew?!  Well, Weight Watchers did I suppose.  I adapted this recipe from the Weight Watchers One Pot Cookbook that my mom just picked up for me at Sam’s Club.

I used bread flour to help increase the chewiness of the cookie, (You can thank Alton Brown for that tip.)  but if you don’t buy it in bulk off Amazon like I do, all-purpose flour will work just fine.  The cookies just won’t be as chewy.

Chewy Salted Dark Chocolate Cherry Food Processor Cookies
Adapted from:
Weight Watcher’s One Pot Cookbook 
24 cookies Points Plus: 3 points per cookie
View/ Print on Recipage


  • 1/2 cup old fashion oats
  • 1 cup whole wheat bread flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3.5 ounce dark chocolate bar, cut into large chunks
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries


  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Put oats in food processor and pulse until finely ground.
  • Add flour, baking soda and salt and pulse to blend. Pour flour mixture into a bowl and set aside.
  • Add butter and brown sugar to food processor and process until blended, scraping down if necessary.
  • Add egg and vanilla and process until smooth and creamy
  • Add flour mixture and chocolate chunks and pulse until combined.
  • Add dried cherries and pulse two or three times until incorporated.
  • Drop dough by tablespoonfuls about 2 inches apart on a greased cookie sheet.
  • Bake cookies for about 12 minutes until lightly browned around the edges.
  • Remove from oven and allow to cool on baking sheet about 1 minute before transferring to a cooling rack

Balsamic Glazed Caramelized Onion and Mushroom Goat Cheese Pizza

It’s Friday; let’s talk pizza.  In my opinion, Friday and pizza go together like peanut butter and jelly or grilled cheese and tomato soup on a cold winter day.  They’re just meant to be.

Pizza is a staple food in Chicago and in my house on Friday nights, but would you believe I “didn’t like” pizza until sometime in high school?  As a child I refused to eat pizza except when I was eating dinner over a my friend Kristin’s house.  For whatever reason, my warped little kid-brain had decided the pizza her family ordered was superior to any pizza my parents could ever possibly make or order.  Even when I did finally start liking pizza, I stuck to  plain cheese: no meats, no veggies, nothing.  If it wasn’t crust, sauce and cheese, I wasn’t eating it.  Luckily I have expanded my pizza eating horizons over the last decade.

So my ideal pizza?  It’s a thin and crispy crust with just a thin smearing of sauce and a hefty pile of cheese.  (Completely traitorous to Chicago heritage, I know.)  I still don’t care for traditional pizza meats, but I love a good pizza loaded with spinach, onion, mushrooms, garlic, and even broccoli.  My favorite kinds of pizza, though, are the “weird” ones: BBQ chicken, Hawaiian, and various gourmet sounding pizzas.

Today’s recipe falls into that last category: Gourmet Pizza.  This recipe is actually inspired by and adapted from a few different places.  The pizza was inspired by old issue of Vegetarian Times, and the crust is adapted from Panem’s manual and How Sweet Eats Garlic Bread Pizza Crust


Balsamic Glazed  Caramelized Onion, Mushroom and Goat Cheese Pizza
View/ Print Recipe
Make 2 thin crust, lightly topped 14” pizzas (or 1 large thick crust, heavily topped pizza)

The pizza dough was made using my bread machine.  If you don’t have a bread machine you can try the dough recipe by hand, but I can’t promise it will turn out as well.  If you’re making the dough by hand, I would recommend Jenna’s pizza dough recipe.  You could also buy pre-made pizza dough.


  • 1 cup warm water
  • 2 tablespoons garlic infused olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 1 ½ cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 ½ teaspoons quick rise yeast
  • 1 ½ tablespoons butter, melted
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ tablespoon butter
  • 1 very large sweet yellow onion, sliced
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms
  • ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sugar
  • 4 ounces goat cheese, softened slightly
  • ½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese


Make the dough
  • Add the ingredients to the bread machine in the order listed above (or in the order recommended by the manufacturer) leaving out the melted butter and garlic powder.  Run dough cycle.
  • Once the dough is done, preheat the oven to 425.  Spray two pizza pans with nonstick spray and add a dusting of cornmeal.
  • Divide dough into two equal portions rolling out each portion to fit your pizza pans.
  • Combine melted butter and garlic powder.  Use a pastry brush to brush each crust with the garlic butter.
  • Par-bake each crust for 5 minutes.


  • With about 30 minutes left in the dough cycle, begin caramelizing the onions.
  • Heat butter and oil in large skillet over medium heat.  Add onions,cooking until soft, translucent and just starting to brown, about 10 minutes.
  • Once onions have started to brown, add mushrooms.  Cook onions and mushrooms for an additional 10 – 15 minutes until mushrooms have softened, browned and released their juices.
  • Add balsamic vinegar, water, and sugar.  Stir until sugar is dissolved, and allow to come to a boil.  Once boiling, reduce heat slightly and simmer until sauce reduces and thickens, about 10 minutes.

Assemble the pizzas

  • Once crusts have been par-baked, spread each crust with 2 ounces of goat cheese.  (I used the angled spatula that I used for frosting cakes which worked wonderfully spreading the cheese, but any old knife should do.)  Top the goat cheese with half of the onion mixture, and sprinkle with ¼ cup mozzarella cheese.
  • Bake each pizza for 10 minutes.

Slice and Enjoy!