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My 30-Minute Meal! What?

Thursday Jan. 3rd, 6 pm

I’m not cooking tonight. In fact, I want to be taken out to eat.

blackbean1 My 30 Minute Meal! What?

I prepared picadillo and black beans for lunch, on a whim. Having saved myself the hunger pains of waiting an hour, I did the sacrilegious thing and used canned beans. I discovered this little trick about 2 5 years ago (doctoring up canned anything in a serious way). Sadly, I put my mother on to it and now she cheats every now and then. So anyway, I wasn’t intentionally timing my process, but when it was all said and chopped, I had managed to make picadillo, black beans and rice in 30 minutes! Whoa there Nelly! I would have been more excited had I fried some plantains, but the single sofrito for both the beans and ‘dillo allowed it to be record time for me. I was pleased with the outcome for the most part. The picadillo was great, even though I reverted to beef chuck. Beef is greasier than turkey. I had made the switch to turkey about 3 years ago and somehow while at the grocery store on New Year’s Eve, I picked up beef–the leanest-but still beef. I put olives in my picadillo along with raisins, which always adds a great contrast to the savory power.

Rice is easy.

But the beans. Those dag on little black nibblets. They piss me off sometimes! Next time I’m mad, I’ll just dart a hand full at the window. My pressure cooker fresh black beans are to kill for. I use the canned ones because they’re easy, considering they are already cooked. I’ll live through it though.

I make a sofrito consisting of onions, garlic, cumin, oregano, green pepper–5 minutes. I add that to the beans and pa-dow it’s on its way to perfection. NOT! Our Cuban recipe calls for vinegar, just 1 tbsp, and somehow I end up putting 2 tbsp (the irritation with the guy caused momentary memory loss)–I thought I had used two cans, not one. Add sugar, add water, stick a 1/2 yellow onion, sprinkle cooking wine, add more water… Whatever! My last water addition and another 15 minutes of cooking killed the bitter taste, for the most part.

We sat down 35 minutes later and blessed our food. He loved it. I was slightly disappointed. I excused myself from the table after two forks (note: spoon in pic below for aesthetic appeal), walked to the stove and looked at the beans in dismay. He couldn’t tell the difference, so he kept eating, expressing himself as a satisfied man does. First time he has my beans and of course it would have to be the first time I had such a difficult time fixing the small problem. I couldn’t even explain to him what was wrong. I finished my first serving and went for seconds. This time without the beans. Picadillo and rice (with a few sliced tomatoes) work just as well.

Well, almost!

picadillo2 My 30 Minute Meal! What?

picadillo My 30 Minute Meal! What?

Sat Jan. 5th.

Geisha was sad today. Really sad. He left yesterday and the farewell wasn’t very affectionate. She misses him and I’m sure he misses her too. He’s cross-country in Tinseltown. I still feel like the sour cream that was intentionally picked out of really good soup, and I’m not happy about that. But, on a tastier note, guess what! Those same beans will make you smack yo’ momma. Okay not that far, but dag on it, the beans are right! Somewhere deep down inside I knew the problem would fix itself. I didn’t call my mother to complain about the vinegar overkill. I’m glad. A few more hours of idle sitting, with a 1/2 onion and voila, your my goof up is corrected and you I are am redeemed! I made some more rice, cheerfully warmed up the picadillo and poured the beans over top the rice.

Suddenly the empty feeling I had on Friday was filled up. He doesn’t like olives so I had the extra ones we had pushed aside. Fully satisfied in my belly, I sat back, took a deep breath and thought about Friday morning. I miss him too.

Next time, I’ll really stick to my pressure cooker and save myself the agony of trying to rectify something so simple. I’m in this for the long haul, so something’s gotta give.

Here’s my 30 minute meal, baby… white rice (15 mins) black beans (25 mins) picadillo (30 mins) (green salad (5). And, don’t let the picture fool you. Jason and I both ate full size plates two times and there was enough for two more servings. I made him a simple salad too, by the way icon smile My 30 Minute Meal! What?

I’ll save the recipe for the pressure cooker version of fresh black beans for next time I cook them. Here’s a quick 3-minute black bean recipe. Sofrito and all!

w My 30 Minute Meal! What?


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  • 1/2 diced green pepper
  • 1/2 diced yellow or Spanish onion
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 cup canola oil

Heat 1/2 cup canola oil on medium high. Add onion, garlic, green pepper, oregano, cumin and sautee for 5 minutes or until onion has softened.



  • 1 can of your fave brand of beans (unseasoned)
  • 1 can (you can use same as bean can) of water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tbsp. vinegar
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp. sugar




By Bren
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    RaShaun says:

    I absolutely LOVE black beans but never have the time to prepare them. So I’m often force to go to my favorite Cuban familia’s house or get them from a so called “Mexican Restaurant”. So Ms. Bren, I put you too the test and followed your recipe. To my surprise they actually tasted pretty good! Thanks for the short cut.

    Very nice idea Bren :)
    I love it… I added this post to to try later.

    Have a good day, Margot

    Reggie says:

    Sweet! Thanks for the Chef Bren easy meal in 30 minutes!! I’ll definitely put this recipe to the test and I’ll repost again!! You know how much I loved those black beans you made us at the dinner party!!

    Lenka says:

    Wow Bren!  What a yummy, easy and quick recipe!  The black beans were absolutely delicious.  I’ll recommend it to anyone who has a craving for frijoles negros from now on…Thanks again

    […] was enjoying beans when I was in my mother’s womb. By the time I was born, I was in love with black beans. Seriously, a true story. My mother would run cooked black beans through the food processor and […]

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