The recipes I'm featuring today can be part of a great
menu for a fall get-together for family and friends. All
you need to do is add grilled chicken, steak or even
seafood that you've seasoned with a mixture of chili
powder, garlic, and either cayenne pepper, Cajun
seasoning or even red pepper flakes. Have plenty of
tortilla chips and tortillas on hand!

Black Bean Dip

2 15-ounce cans black beans
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 small tomatoes, diced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup onion, minced (I like sweet onion)
1 hot pepper--jalapeno, Thai, etc.
Fresh ground black pepper
salt to taste

Rinse and drain the black beans. In a food processor, chop
the black beans, hot pepper, garlic, cilantro and 1 tomato.
Transfer to a serving bowl. Add the cumin, lime juice, onion,
1 chopped tomato, salt and pepper. Chill in the refrigerator
until serving time. Serve with tortilla chips.

Cheesy Black Bean Dip

2 garlic cloves, minced
1 (15 ounce) can black beans, drained, rinsed and mashed
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups medium or sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
2/3 cup salsa
1/3 cup green onions, sliced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8-1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon cilantro, minced (to garnish)

Drizzle a small amount of olive oil in a skillet. Saut? the garlic for
1-2 minutes. Add beans, cheese, salsa, onions, oregano, cumin,
and cayenne pepper to the pan and mix well. Cook over low heat,
stirring occasionally, until cheese is melted. Transfer to a serving
bowl and serve with tortilla chips.

Spanish Rice

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cups long-grain white rice
3 cups chicken stock or tomato juice
1 cup of diced fresh or cooked tomatoes
1/3 tsp. oregano
1 teaspoon salt

In a large skillet brown the rice in olive oil over medium heat. Add
the onion and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, for 4-5 minutes, or
until onions are softened. In a medium sauce pan bring the stock
to a simmer. Add the tomato, oregano, and salt. Add the browned
rice to the broth. Bring to a simmer. Cover. Lower the heat and
cook for 20-25 minutes. Turn off heat and let sit for 5 minutes.
Serves 4 to 6.

Jalapeno Cheese Cornbread

1 1/4 cups yellow cornmeal
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup cream-style corn
1/4 cup minced seeded jalape?o peppers
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup light sour cream

2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.. Combine the cornmeal, flour,
baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Stir in all
the remaining ingredients. Stir until JUST moistened. Pour the
batter into a greased 9-inch square baking pan. Bake for 30 to
35 minutes or until golden brown. Serve immediately. Makes 8

Homemade Refried Beans

2 tbsp. bacon fat or vegetable oil
3/4 cup finely chopped onions
2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 can (15.5 ounces) pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 cup water
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the bacon fat or oil in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
Add the onions and saut? until softened and lightly browned. Add the
garlic, cumin and chili powder--cook 1-2 more minutes. Add drained
beans and the water. Cover and reduce heat to medium. Simmer until
beans are very tender and thickened, about 5 minutes. If they become
too thick or dry, add more water. Mash the beans with a fork, wooden
spoon or a potato masher, until they are mashed but still chunky. You
can vary this by adding cayenne pepper, fresh hot minced peppers,
cheese or salsa. Use black beans for a change, or double the recipe
and add black beans and pinto beans.