Monthly Archives: February 2015

My Standby Black Bean Chili (with Espresso)

black bean chili

I don’t know why this vegetarian chili recipe from the January 2003 issue of Bon Appétit magazine caught my attention, but I do remember making it right away for a Super Bowl party at my aunt and uncle’s house. I was a senior at Wash U, I thought maybe I wanted to be a chef, I was totally addicted to food magazines and espresso drinks, and I had never tasted polenta. Oh, and I made this chili for a group of enthusiastic meat eaters (myself included). I think it went over surprisingly well…or at least I remember being pretty impressed.

Since then I’ve made it over and over again, partly because it’s so darn easy and also healthy, but mostly because I really, really love it. Something about the cumin with the black beans and the spice all make perfect chili magic. You can make it with or without the espresso, make it as spicy or as mild as you like, serve it with all the toppings or by itself, and it’s always delicious.

black bean chili

The very best thing about this chili? I found out this week that Zoe loves it. Yes, score one for “mom meals”! I set a small saucepan on a separate burner while I was mixing this up and made her batch without any chili, espresso (heavens, I can’t even imagine!), and less salt. I pureed it a bit when it was cooked, and she gobbled it all down. Continue reading

Banana Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting (Happy Birthday to my Baby!)

February 8, 2014, my life was turned upside down and inside out and topsy turvy in the most wonderful, amazing, happy way possible — I had a little baby girl, Zoe. Since then my every waking moment has revolved around my sweet little baby.


As a food lover, it’s really amazing to see how Zoe’s diet and awareness of food has grown and developed over her first year. At first she nursed constantly, and I was torn between being thrilled that I gave birth to such an enthusiastic eater and being exasperated that she just never stopped demanding milk, milk, milk and more milk. It was exhausting.

And then at 6 months Zoe was able to eat solid food, and the real fun began. My favorite new hobby became making baby food. Each week I filled my shopping cart at Whole Foods with tons of organic produce (apples, bananas, sweet potatoes, broccoli, frozen peas…) and then spent a day or two steaming, pureeing and freezing it all into cute little cubes of yummy food. She devoured it like a champ, gaining tons of weight (going from 0.5 percentile to 25th percentile). Go girl!


Now, as of February 2015, I’m a mother of a one-year-old with two little teeth, a voracious appetite and the green light to eat everything. I baked her banana birthday cupcakes to celebrate. And now, in theory, I can start cooking like normal and feeding her family meals. I’ve been waiting for this moment ever since I started eating an eclectic diet while pregnant to prime her taste buds for my food-lover’s lifestyle.

banana cupcakes

Only thing is, I’m not sure what’s normal anymore. I’m going to have to revise my arsenal of meals to include what I’ve been thinking of as “mom meals” — healthy, simple, not-too-spicy fare that can be pureed or cut into small bits. I’m looking forward to it, and I hope you follow along as I share some of my new recipes here. Continue reading