Thursday, September 15, 2011

Black Bean Soup, Pumpkin (Finally!), and Drag Queens

Eeek!  It's been a few days since I've written.  Boooo me.  I've actually had a pretty busy week, which is unusual.  I normally come home from work and sit on my butt, watch TV, eat dinner, go to bed.  Not this week!  Tuesday night, I baked up something yummy with pumpkin (I couldn't wait any longer!), and last night, I had an experience that involved drag queens, twinkies, and fugitivies.  But more on that later. 

First, I have to tell you about the best black bean soup I have ever had.  My friend Sherry brought some black bean soup to work Monday for her lunch.  (I don't usually put whole names, I know, but she TOTALLY gets credit here.)  I told her how good it smelled and she asked J- and I if we wanted to try some.  We practically ran over each other to get to our desks to grab a plastic spoon.  Wow.  It was wonderful!  Smoky, perfectly spicy, not too soupy (not a huge fan of soupy-soups). 

As a side note, let me say that I'm a connoisseur of black beans.  I think I'm secretly part Cuban.  I have tried my fair share of black beans/black bean soups, and when I tell you this is the best I've ever had, I MEAN IT!!! 

Anyway.  Sherry's black bean soup got such a reaction out of J- and I that she brought in a whole crock pot of it for us the next day!  (We are lucky little worker bees to have such a cool boss!)  I ate a bowl of it for BREAKFAST.  And another bowl for lunch.  And another bowl after that.  I would've eaten another bowl but it was all gone.  J- so kindly brought some Cuban Bread and Corn Muffins to go along with the soup, and I crumbled a Corn Muffin in one bowl and it was OUTSTANDING.  Although this soup is just amazing on its own and doesn't need a corn muffin.  I asked Sherry if I could share her recipe on my blog.  And she said "of course!"  So.  Here is my very first guest recipe! 

Sherry's Super-Duper Amazing Best Black Bean Soup in the Whole World

2 cans of black beans (one drained and rinsed, one not)
1 onion
One bag of sliced carrots
1 can of jalapenos, chopped (save the juice) 
1 package of diced ham
1/2 cup chicken stock

1.  Caramelize onions in a skillet with butter olive oil.
2.  Drain one can of black beans and add to large pot (or crock pot).  Add the other can of beans with the sauce from the can. 
4.  Add in diced ham, onions, jalapenos, carrots, and jalapeno juice. 
5.  Add in chicken stock. 
6.  Simmer for a few hours.  (Sherry cooked hers overnight in a cast iron pot, and then brought it to work in a Crock Pot).
7.  Stir in a couple of spoonfulls of salsa and let cook for a bit longer.  
8.  Get a big bowl and eat a whole bunch of this amazing soup!  

TRY IT.  YOU WILL LOVE IT (especially if you're secretly Cuban like me). 

So after all the beans I ate Tuesday, I was in the mood for some PUMPKIN.  I've been trying to hold out and wait until it's cold before I started on my fall baking, but I couldn't do it.  Florida weather sucks and it's still 90 degrees here.  My family in Missouri and Illinois and friend in Indiana all told me it's such nice fall weather up there.  It even got down into the 30's this morning in Chicago.  Sigh.  I hate fall in Florida. 

Needless to say, I couldn't wait another month to make something with pumpkin.  I didn't have any cream cheese, so I couldn't make pumpkin bread or pumpkin cake (it's not right without cream cheese icing).  I was in the mood for something with a crumble topping, so I googled recipes for pumpkin crumble bars.  And found this little gem from Sweet Sista'.  Yay!  Another blog for me to read!!!  This recipe looked perfect the way it was, so I didn't make any alterations.  Except I left out the nuts.  Not because I don't like nuts, I just didn't have any.  I didn't take any pictures- sorry- but my pictures aren't that great anyway so you're not missing much.  I took these to work the next day and everyone loved them.  Maybe everyone else is in the fall mood too.  You just can't help but want some pumpkin in the fall. 

Pumpkin Crumble Bars

For the base and topping:
1 1/2 cups quick oats
1 1/4 cups flour
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, room temp

For the filling:
2 cups canned pumpkin (I used one 15 oz can and it worked fine)
2/3 cup milk
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice

1.  Preheat oven to 375.  Lightly grease a 9x13 baking pan.
2.  Combine ingredients for the base.  Beat with a hand mixer until crumbly.  Reserve 1 1/2 cups of the mixture for the topping.  Press the remaining mixture into the greased baking pan.
3.  Bake at 375 for 10 minutes.
4.  Prepare the filling.  Beat all ingredients until well blended.  Spread over crust and sprinkle with remaining crumb mixture.  Bake for 25 minutes at 375.  Cool and cut into bars. 

So last night, I had quite an adventure.  I met a really nice girl B- at my book club Sunday, who told us she was going to Drag Queen Bingo on Wednesday night.  She invited us to come along and of course I couldn't miss that!  I had been once before and it was a blast!  Sherry came with me too!  Drag Queen Bingo is hosted by Hamburger Mary's in Ybor City, every Wednesday night.  Before I went, of course I had to look up their menu. I was drooling.  Their burgers look fantastic (even if they are 15 bucks...) but their desserts looked the BEST.  Everything was fried!  Fried cheesecake, fried brownie bites, fried bananas foster...fried TWINKIES?  Uhmm....excuse me?  Wow. 

So when you go to this particular Drag Queen Bingo, you buy a bingo card for $10.  There are 10 games of Bingo with different patterns you have to get for a Bingo (and they have hilarious names, which I cannot repeat here).  I figured the prizes would be something kind of silly- but they were really great!  (And of course I didn't win any).  A tequila gift basket, a $150 gas card, 2 nights stay at a resort, a massage package, concert tickets....nice!  And all of the proceeds go to a non-profit, so it's all for a good cause! 

You know I had to try those fried twinkies, but first Sherry and I shared some fried mac and cheese.  Yum!  Not quite as good as the fried mac and cheese at Cheesecake Factory, but pretty close.  Then a big burly man came up to our table with a plate and said, in a very monotone voice, "Did someone order some Twinkies?"  And I screeched "meeeee!"  Ohmigod.  Sherry could only eat a few bites and she was done.  Yes, they were rich.  I ate every last bite.  The cream kind of melts into the rest of the twinkie when it hits the deep fryer.  They had a raspberry sauce around them and some whipped cream.  Ohmigod.  I can't stop saying that.  They were crisp and hot and gooey.  Ahhhh!   I was practically licking the plate. 

So Bingo wasn't a success, as far as prizes go, but Sherry and I had a mission.  A particular friend is a police officer (who shall remain unnamed) and had us on the lookout for a drag queen (who shall also remain unnamed) who is wanted for a certain crime (which shall remain unnamed).  We had a mission to find this drag queen and we were sent a mug shot to compare with.  First of all, in the mug shot "she" was in man form, but with eyeliner.  No wig, no other makeup.  Just a pretty man with eyeliner.  Well you all know drag queens go all out with their hair and makeup, girl.  So it was a little hard to find Ms Fugitive Tranny.  I thought I found her and tried to get a picture, but it was all blurry and she was making some scary face into the camera.  I sent it to Police Officer Friend and I haven't gotten a response, so maybe Sherry and I shouldn't quit our day jobs to become bounty hunters....Weekly Bingo players?  Definitely. 


  1. my favorite Spanish word to say is "frijoles negros", and in a high-pitched voice :-)

  2. It is quite fun to say! :) -Jill