Black Bean Soup

Black Bean Soup

Black bean soup is one of the things that I don’t use a recipe for anymore. I had to reverse-engineer this for sensical public consumption, but you’ll see how intuitive it is once you get the concept. There are many different iterations of black bean soup, but this one is the most stripped-down and versatile. The soup itself is vegan if you use vegetable broth, but you could easily add chicken or chorizo or sour cream and they would play nicely together. I’ve decided to use canned beans here, just for the sake of ease.

The recipe starts with aromatics and olive oil, as most good soups do. Garlic and onion (of course) and there must be peppers – I usually use a bell pepper for flavor and a couple of jalapeños for heat, but these can be swapped out with your favorites, whatever they are (Anaheim, poblano, habanero – go nuts). From there it’s just cumin, salt, beans, broth, cilantro, and lots of lime. On it’s own it’s comforting without being boring, but it’s too fun to not dress it up a bit. I like tortilla strips, avocado, and queso fresco or sour cream, but you can put anything on it that would feel at home in a taco.

Black Bean Soup

Black Bean Soup
serves 6-8 

-1 large onion, diced
-1 bell pepper, diced (I use green for this)
-2 jalapenos, seeded and diced
-2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
-about a tablespoon of olive oil
-2 tsp ground cumin
-3 cans black beans, drained of most of the liquid (but not all)
-3 cups vegetable or chicken broth
-salt, to taste (kosher or sea salt please)
-a handful of cilantro, chopped
-juice of one lime
-a few dashes of your favorite hot sauce (optional)
-toppings (use your imagination)


1. In a large pot over medium-low heat, sweat onion, bell pepper, jalapeño and garlic in olive oil until onion is translucent and peppers are soft.

2. Add cumin and a pinch of salt to the pot and stir until cumin is fragrant.

3. Add black beans and broth to the pot and stir. Increase heat to medium-high and allow soup to simmer for a few minutes.

4. Blend soup with an immersion blender until it’s as smooth as you like. I like it pretty smooth, but if you want to blend only part of the soup and leave some beans whole, that’s allowed. If you don’t have an immersion blender or a conventional blender (or you just don’t want to get it dirty) get a potato masher and mash the beans in the soup until it’s thickened to your liking, (it won’t get smooth this way, but it will get thicker) call it rustic.

5. Add cilantro and lime and taste the soup. You may not need to add salt if the broth you used was salty, but I usually do. Add a few dashes of hot sauce (my favorite is cholula).

6. Top with garnishes and serve.

-If you wanted to add chorizo or chicken to this (or bacon!), I’d recommend cooking the meat in the pot alone before adding the veggies, then transferring the meat to a plate while you make the soup and stirring it back in before you add the cilantro and lime. Chipotles are also a really good addition if you’re in the mood for something smoky – just dice one or two and throw them in with the rest of the veggies.

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Kale and Romaine Salad with Shortcut Caesar Dressing

Kale and Romaine Salad with Shortcut Caesar Dressing

I didn’t realize how much I’ve been eating and talking about kale lately. I think kale’s 15 minutes of faddishness is about over, but hopefully it won’t be completely forgotten when the next “it” vegetable inevitably eclipses it, because I actually really like it. The nice thing about food (unlike fashion) is, even if it’s not “in” it doesn’t stop tasting good or being good for you – so it doesn’t ever really go “out” unless maybe you own a really cutting-edge or trendy restaurant, in which case, I’m sorry.

Kale and Romaine Salad with Shortcut Caesar Dressing

I’ve also posted about caesar dressing before, back during my sauce series. I always prefer to make my own dressing, but sometimes I’m not up for breaking out my food processor and making a big batch of perishable salad sauce. When these moments of laziness strike (liiike 80% of the time) I mix up a little something in the bottom of whatever salad bowl I’m using. And if I’m honest, I kind of like this particular caesar better than the full-on “real” caesar. It’s a little bit healthier and even punchier in flavor, so it dances well with kale’s assertive green-ness and doesn’t totally negate the wholesomeness of salad. Plus, I almost always have everything I need to throw it together at the last minute, which isn’t the case with real caesar dressing (sorry, anchovies).

Kale and Romaine Salad with Shortcut Caesar Dressing

I even made fun of kale salads in my last soup post. All the chewing! But if you use the right kale (tuscan/lacinatno/dino – not curly), and you cut it with a bit of romaine, it’s actually really nice and no more trouble than a normal salad. Kale’s hardiness even makes this salad more filling than the average bowl of leaves. With some homemade garlic croutons, maybe a tomato and a few olives, it’s almost lunch.

Kale and Romaine Salad with Shortcut Caesar Dressing

Kale and Romaine Salad with Shortcut Caesar Dressing
serves 4-6 as a side, 2-3 as a main


for the dressing:
-2 Tbsp mayo
-1 small clove garlic, grated or finely minced
-1 tsp worcestershire
-1 tsp white wine vinegar
-1/2 to 1 tsp dijon mustard (depending on how strong yours is)
-2 Tbsp grated parmesan or pecorino cheese (parm is classic, but I like pecorino)
-1/4 tsp kosher salt or fine sea salt
-lots of fresh cracked black pepper

for the salad:
-1 small bunch lacinato/dino/tuscan kale (it’s all the same, just stay away from curly)
-1 “heart” of romaine (they usually come in packs of 3)

for the croutons (if you’re going there):
– crusty bread, preferably stale
-olive oil (enough to lightly coat the bread)
-1 clove garlic, minced or grated


1. If you’re making croutons, start with that. Cube up your bread and spread it on a baking tray. In a small dish, combine garlic with a few tablespoons of olive oil and pour it over the bread. Mix with your hands and sprinkle with salt. Bake at 350 F until golden and crispy, about 15 minutes. (Kind of like making crostini, but cubic instead of flat)

2. Wash and chop your kale and romaine and dry it as well as possible.

3. In the bottom of your salad bowl, combine mayo, garlic, vinegar, worcestershire, mustard, cheese, salt and pepper. Whisk together and taste. It will be very strong – that’s good – it needs to be strong to stand up to the kale. Add salt or make adjustments now if you like (more cheese, more vinegar, whatever).

4. Pile salad greens in your bowl on top of your dressing and use tongs or a spoon and fork to toss the greens until they are coated with dressing. (Lift from the bottom of the bowl to make sure all the dressing gets incorporated). Top with fresh croutons and serve. Also, it’s not properly caesar-y, but I do like to add tomatoes.

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Salted Brown Butter Vanilla Bean Crispy Treats

salted brown butter vanilla bean crispy treats

{GIVEAWAY CLOSED, winner announced below}

It seems flippant that the the ultimate expression of crispy rice, chewy marshmallow, and melted butter is called, simply: a treat. But then the assembly is almost absurdly easy, and the intended consumer usually below the age of 6. So I decided to grow them up, give them a flowery name, a more well-rounded flavor profile, and some textural contrast. I have to admit, they’re pretty great – like maybe the Platonic ideal of the original.

brown butter vanilla bean treats 2

Salted Brown Butter Vanilla Bean Crispy Treats

-1 stick butter (1/2 cup – I used salted, but you can use unsalted and just add more salt later)
-1 1/2 bags mini marshmallows (they come in 10 oz bags)
-2-3 teaspoons vanilla bean paste (or the scraped-out insides of one bean)
-6 cups crispy rice cereal
-1/4 tsp kosher salt (salted-ness can be subjective – if you used salted butter, start with 1/4 tsp, add more if you like more)

1. Pre-grease a baking pan so you can mold the marshmallow cereal mix as soon as it’s ready. It will firm up quickly as it cools, so taking this step at the beginning will make transferring everything from the pot to the pan easier. If you want thicker squares (like mine), use a 9×9 pan, if you want normal squares use a 9×13.

2. In a large pot (preferably light colored so you can monitor the color of the butter) over medium heat, melt butter and wait for it to brown. When it begins to foam and darken in color, lower the heat to medium-low and stir it until it reaches a medium brown color and smells somewhat nutty. Watch it carefully because it can turn from brown to burnt pretty quickly. Here’s a proper brown butter visual for reference.

3. Add one whole bag of marshmallows and stir until they are melted. Add vanilla bean paste and salt and stir to combine.

4. Stir crispy rice cereal into melted marshmallows along with half a bag of whole marshmallows. Stir until the cereal is well coated and taste – it should be sweet with a hit of salt that brings out the buttery flavor with some toasty complexity (because you took the time to brown the butter). Now is the time to add more salt if you want it.

5. Transfer marshmallow cereal mix into your greased pan and spread into an even layer. There should be some whole or partially-melted marshmallow pockets running through the cereal (there’s the textural contrast – yum!) Allow to cool and slice into squares.



Cast iron pans are the workhorses of the kitchen, enameled cast iron is the easiest cast iron to take care of, and Le Creuset makes the best enameled cast iron out there. Pans like this are instrumental in all the best recipes (liike my pan-seared, butter-basted steak and my favorite cheeseburgers). Everyone should have a good cast iron pan. That’s why I want to give a 10 1/4 inch enameled Le Creuset skillet to one of you resplendent readers. (It should probably be you.) And no, this giveaway isn’t sponsored, I’m just feeling generous.

To enter: leave a comment below and follow me on Instagram (@sweet_salty_tart). I don’t post very often but when I do it’s usually pictures of food.

I’ll close the giveaway at midnight on Friday 4/24/15 and contact the winner on Saturday via Instagram or email. Good luck lovelies!

Update 4/25/2015: we have a winner! I numbered the 49 entries from earliest to most recent, not including my own comments, and used a random number generator to pick the winner, who I then verified through Instagram.


The 12th commenter was Kelsey A! Congrats lady! I’ll be in touch to work out the details soon!

Huge thanks to everyone to participated and all the awesome comments. I’m feeling the love, and wish I was rich enough to get you all a Le Creuset!

  1. I am borderline obsessed with your website haha! whenever I feel like procrastinating from studying I find a recipe and whip up something delicious, and it always works! :) Pick me for the Le Creuset please!! I've had my heart set on a cast iron pan and a KitchenAid for so long but I'm such a broke student :')

    Anne — April 15, 2015
    1. Hey Anne! Thank you so much for the comment. I'm sooo happy to hear that my recipes work for you. I always test my recipes and try to write them in a way that's easy to follow, but I don't have a team of reviewers or editors so comments like yours are sooo nice to hear. And I'm glad you found the giveaway! I set it up in anticipation of an influx of traffic to this post, but it looks like that influx is going to be delayed until the weekend. So, I'm changing the dates for the giveaway, but your entry will still definitely count. Thank you again!

      courtney — April 15, 2015
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  2. It's a rainy, snowy, cold day outside. These crispy treats look awesome. I'm so tempted to make them today

    Anna — April 18, 2015
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  3. I've been craving for rice krispy squares and I think this recipe will hit the spot. I also have been going through your instagram and your pictures are amazing. Food pictures are the best. I've been wanting to get a LA creuset, hopefully I can win one!!

    Cindy — April 18, 2015
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  4. I have been looking for the perfect brown butter rice krispy treat recipe and this has taken it to a whole other level! I am counting down the days until I can make this! I can't wait to make these for my friends! Thanks for the recipe! I certainly wouldn't mind having a beautiful cast iron pan! <3

    Nina Monet Reynoso — April 18, 2015
    1. reply
  5. Drooling over every recipe on your site --- can't wait to whip up a few!

    Kelly — April 18, 2015
    1. reply
  6. I definitely need to make these yummy looking treats!

    Geraldine — April 18, 2015
    1. reply
  7. this recipe looks amazing! thank you so much for sharing, I cannot wait to try this one out. I just recently found your website and am now following you on instagram as well (itswhit). really cool of you to do an unsponsored give away as well, pay it forward.

    whitney mclaughlin — April 18, 2015
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  8. can't wait to try and make these! I just found your website off of buzzfeed and now i'm a total fan! (claraismora)

    Clara Mora — April 18, 2015
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  9. Those sound amazing! I think I'm going to have to make them very soon.

    Melinda — April 18, 2015
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  10. Drolling over these! Can't wait to make them! Brown butter makes everything better!

    Jasmine — April 18, 2015
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  11. Looking forward to making this for my baby shower!

    Gretl — April 19, 2015
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  12. i LOVE rice krispies! i always have the ingredients on hand and they're one of our favorite treats that I can whip up in 10 min. now you've inspired me to class them up a bit!

    kelsey a — April 19, 2015
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  13. These look fantastic! What a great idea to add vanilla!

    Sharon DeSize — April 19, 2015
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  14. These look like such a sophisticated take on the original Krispy Treat!

    Myra Key — April 19, 2015
    1. reply
  15. These look soooo good. I love crispy treats, and the combo of brown butter and marshmallow sounds heavenly!!! I can't wait to make them for a friend's birthday soon! (anna_sanders20)

    Anna — April 19, 2015
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  16. You had me at brown butter. I seriously cannot wait to make these. I'm embarrassed to admit that a plain RK treat is a favorite guilty pleasure. The usual doctored up versions of the original recipe don't interest me at all...chocolate chips-bleh...peanut butter- no thanks. But these seem to be the absolute perfect tweak. Thanks for posting this recipe!

    kim — April 19, 2015
    1. reply
  17. Rice Krispie treats are my favorite, so much so that a friend brought a tray of them to me at the hospital after having baby #2. I don't care for the caramel/peanut butter/fruity pebbles craziness that people do, but this seems like just the right enhancement to something that is pretty much perfection anyway. I can't wait to try them!

    Kristal — April 19, 2015
    1. reply
  18. Congrats on being featured on Buzzfeed! Love your recipes!

    Shelby M — April 19, 2015
    1. reply
  19. I'm so excited to try this recipe!

    Rory Beckett — April 19, 2015
    1. reply
  20. I have just recently stumbled on to your website and browsing through your recipes make my mouth water (lol). The recipes are quite easy and delicious. Thank you so much for the mouth-watering recipes that I can't help looking at during class, wondering what I should make next for dinner! My favorite so far is the Asparagus Carbonara! I've been always wanting a cast iron pan, as I truly love to cook and I would honestly use that kind of pan all the time for a lot of delicious recipes! Although I am a college student, I still very much love to cook good, wholesome food!

    Nicholle — April 19, 2015
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  21. Love your recipes and love the photos! You are so talented!! Could you recommend a way to make the rice krispies dairy free? And Would love to win your contest 

    Amber — April 19, 2015
    1. Thanks so much Amber! I'll have to get back to you about the dairy free thing, the brown butter is pretty important for flavor here, but it might be possible to make a different take with coconut oil. I'll see what I can figure out!

      courtney — April 19, 2015
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  22. I have loved all the recipes of yours I've tried! Keep them coming! Thanks for the fun giveaways you do, too.

    Sara W — April 19, 2015
    1. reply
  23. I just barely bought my first enameled cast iron piece and would love to add a skillet to my collection!

    Allison Fajardo — April 19, 2015
    1. reply
  24. You are so talented! I love this twist on rice crispy treats! Im so excited to read ur blog for more ideas!!

    Ani — April 19, 2015
    1. reply
  25. Now a happy Instagram follower!! Your recipes are amazing- I always busy them out for a special occasion :) would love a new skillet to add to the mix!

    Helena — April 19, 2015
    1. reply
  26. Looks delicious!

    Elisha Wiggins — April 19, 2015
    1. reply
  27. So excited to try your recipes. They look amazing!

    Julie — April 19, 2015
    1. reply
  28. I stumbled across this recipe and it led me here; what a wonderful discovery. Beautiful blog!

    Jess — April 19, 2015
    1. reply
  29. Love love love this! My study group and I have been using recipies here all semester. Nothing inspires people to show up like treats! These are a great update on classic Rice Krispies

    Same — April 19, 2015
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  30. I went to make Rice Krispie Treats tonight to find I didn't have enough cereal *sad face* but maybe it was because I needed to see this recipe first so I can try something new. Quick question, does it make a difference if you use the large marshmallows for melting and use the small for the mixing in? I already have the large ones and don't want to buy if I don't have to.

    Anne A — April 19, 2015
    1. Hi Anne! I don't think it matters, as long as the volume of the bag is similar. If there's any doubt, I'd say err on the generous side. Hard to have too much marshmallow!

      courtney — April 19, 2015
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  31. Le Creuset is the best, I found a pot at HomeGoods for cheap and am never going back! Love your blog, just bought some miso paste so trying those radishes this week!

    Caitlin — April 19, 2015
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  32. I absolutely love brown butter and I am always thrilled when I find a dessert that requires it. Thanks for the lovely update on a classic. And what a marvelous give-away, I got my first Le Creuset from an ex-boyfriend and I have never gone back :)

    Evyn — April 19, 2015
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  33. I am a (will be on April 21st) 79 year old great gramma who, just yesterday, made a batch of krispie squares as a thank you to a young gentleman who packed my repaired easy chair up two floors to my apartment! I shall use your brown-butter, vanilla bean recipe soon. I have been using the same old cast iron fry-pan for the last 60 years.....I would absolutely die for a brand new Le Creuset, enamelled at modern! I hope you get this before April 24th. Take care and special thanks for all your delicious recipes and hints. Eldie Smith

    Ellie Smith — April 20, 2015
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  34. Looks amazing!

    Ruth — April 20, 2015
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  35. Courtney. So, Hamlet taught me a new word..."quintessence"...I feel like the archaic version of that word could very easily be embodied by everything you bring forth into existence on this blog. Like these treats, for example = DIVINE to the point of being the VERY ESSENCE OF HEAVEN. They are the golden, buttery cherubim of my sweet-sweat-induced fantasies...only, in them there is also a ballet sequence performed by your pan-seared steak. Keep being beautiful.

    Catherine — April 20, 2015
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  36. i don't have a cast iron skillet (I KNOW) so i'm kinda dying to win this. and do i get brownie points for having actually made these treatsies!?? (they're good, everyone!!)

    hannah — April 20, 2015
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  37. I need a cast iron skillet! I told my grandma I wanted hers after she dies but she'll probably live forever. :)

    Lauren — April 20, 2015
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  38. Yum! Can't wait to try this recipe!

    Mary — April 20, 2015
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  39. You're the coolest! Look at all your friends! I still do not have a Le Creuset in my arsenal of cooking-ware! I SO need to win this. No one takes me seriously without one.

    Tricia Layton — April 20, 2015
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  40. First time checking out your website but I am already excited by this recipe. Hoping to make it for the coworkers soon! Thanks :)

    Bethany Bois (ig: wooitsbethany) — April 20, 2015
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  41. I love finding new recipes to try for the adult sweet-tooth, and this hits the spot! Your recipes find that wonderful balance both healthy and comfort variety.

    Arielle — April 20, 2015
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  42. So stoked for your fame!

    Lea — April 20, 2015
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  43. These look soooo amazing! Can't wait to follow you and see what else you come up with! (Would die to own a Le Creuset... Fingers crossed!)

    Sophi — April 21, 2015
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  44. Toasted rice treats have been a favorite of mine since I was very little. Now that I have a family of my own, the love has been passed down. I can't wait to make your recipe with the vanilla bean and brown butter. Thanks for the chance to win, as well!

    Deirdre — April 21, 2015
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  45. planning to make these for my sister's 30th birthday in May, they look great!

    Shannon — April 21, 2015
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  46. I can't wait to make these once finals are over! Or maybe when I procrastinate during finals, I'll be making this!

    Lara Balajadia — April 22, 2015
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  47. I'm obsessed with this rice crispy treat recipe and can't wait to make them this weekend! Just followed you on Instagram... please consider me for the Le Creuset!

    Maya Misra — April 23, 2015
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  48. My roommate just showed me your blog today! I love all you simple but delicious looking recipes! I'm always a fan of dishes I can whip up quickly without buy a lot of fancy expensive ingredients that I'll rarely use again. I'll definitely be making these treats this weekend for the office!

    Christine Houston — April 23, 2015
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  49. Perfect for finals!

    tasha — April 23, 2015
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  50. […] spiced almonds  /  sweet potato chips with white bean + basil dip  /  zucchini chips  /  salted brown butter rice crispy treats  /  picnic salami sandwiches  /  dark chocolate trail mix […]

    The Perfect Picnic // Portable Picnic Recipes | South On Broadway — June 23, 2016
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Get A Thermometer


This post contains affiliate links, but it was not solicited and I stand by my words completely. I’m just super serious about thermometers.

We are a month into 2015 – how are those resolutions going? Uh huh. That’s too bad. Why don’t you try an easier one: get a thermometer and stop overcooking your meat.

Meat is just better when it’s cooked properly. Safer too, obviously, but it’s so much more delicious it will probably blow your mind, because (unfortunately) most people overcook meat pretty significantly. But it doesn’t have to be this way, and it really shouldn’t. The nice thing about resolving to stop overcooking meat is it’s more a problem of awareness and equipment than about making a deep personal change (like “getting in shape” or whatever).

For me, this is actually a moral matter too, because I believe meat deserves to be delicious. I’m obviously not a vegetarian, but I believe that most Americans take meat for granted, to the point of being wasteful and disrespectful. We don’t like to be reminded of the fact that, when we sit down to a bowl of chicken curry or a juicy cheeseburger – an animal died for it. I think that’s why so many people like white meat chicken – it’s consistently textured and barely reminiscent of animal muscle. But guess what – it’s a dead bird. Let’s respect that fact.

I love that our collective American food culture is moving more toward slow and sustainable and caring that livestock be treated well (like actual animals instead of future-food).  I also agree that we should all probably be eating less animal products in general and that we should definitely be shopping with our hearts instead of just our wallets and stomachs.

I think the logical extension of grass-fed, free-range, ethical meat movement is learning how to cook it properly. Properly cooked meat is more flavorful, more tender, and therefore much less likely to go to waste than mishandled meat. And be honest, last time you roasted a chicken, did you do your best to eat every last scrap? When meat is cooked properly, making use of every bit is a delicious joy rather than a chore. If we are going to be omnivores, I think making the absolute most of the meat that we buy and eat is the least we can do.

Buying a thermometer changed my cooking drastically and immediately and it will for you too. I think the Thermapen is the best, most versatile and most accurate on the market right now, but any thermometer is better than nothing. I’ve also appreciated having a probe thermometer which allows me to monitor the temperature of roasts while they are in the oven, making overcooking those expensive cuts almost impossible.

The easiest change you can make this year: be a better cook and a more responsible omnivore. Familiarize yourself with proper meat temperatures and get. a. thermometer.

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