I had a rough time the first two years of college. It was up and down and there were certainly parts I really liked, but I remember crying in my car asking my parents if I could quit and switch schools on more than one occasion. I was an English major and turns out I am a slow reader with poor retention and grammar. I’d graduated high school with a really tight group of friends I had known my whole life and making new friends was a skill I’d little experience with as an adult. I had broken up with the boyfriend I thought I was going to marry and had one great but a few rough roommates to start. It just seemed...hard. I believe we are equipped to do hard and challenging things but I couldn’t quite find the silver lining. I really wanted to go home. So as my last effort to finish what I started, I applied to study abroad in Spain my Junior year to get better at Spanish (because clearly my English wasn’t awesome) and to hit refresh. And it worked. I loved the experience, saw so much of Spain, started a little romance with Hugh via email, didn’t get much better at Spanish to be honest but came back to school to live with a group of girls that just had great chemistry together. They were fun, kind and communicated well instead of gossip and hurt each other which unfortunately, groups of girls often have the potential to do. I can’t really explain it, or I wouldn’t do it justice if I tried, but those ladies changed me. By the time I moved back towards home to start a career, I was dragging my feet. You couldn’t have told me that three or four years prior.
I spent last weekend with a few of those ladies and while we don’t keep up as often as I’d like, they are the same sweet women they were in that season. We all now have kids and lives going different directions but I was inspired by our conversations around our rental’s dinner table. One of these was talking about feeding a family, ideally somewhat healthfully, when you are short on patience, energy and creativity. I like to cook and I still find this hard. One of my girlfriends is a nutritionist and and she really believes we dumb down flavors for kids starting at baby food, often followed by bland starches so there is work involved in turning that around when you get to the point of wanting everyone to eat the same meal. It got me thinking of meals I could make that represent something we could all make on a weeknight. I am guilty of dumbing things down too. Hugh and Curran love tacos and burritos so I started with something generally popular, and then made it a little different. I nabbed the name “blender sauce” from the new How to Celebrate Everything cookbook by Jenny Rosenstrach and it’s so telling because you literally throw all the ingredients into a blender at one time and give it a few pulses. My KitchenAid® Pro Line® Series blender has a pulse function so I could keep the sauce a little chunky like I like it and I chopped the mushrooms small so Curran couldn’t single them out from the beans. We ate tacos and even little Cleo girl ate bits of the mushroom saute and avocado bits. We all ate at the same time! I can’t say that happens very often and it was really nice. More of that, please.
This post was created in partnership with the new KitchenAid®Pro Line® Series Blender.
Mushroom and Black Bean Tacos with Cilantro Blender Sauce // Serves 4
The sauce can be made in a blender or food processor and can sit for a few days so make it in advance if you’d like. The heat of the jalapeno is in the ribs and seeds. The sauce needs some for spice but adjust to your taste. Here it’s drizzled on tacos, but makes for a great salad dressing too. If you don’t stock the spices below, 1 teaspoon of your favorite taco seasoning will do. I was trying to not over stuff the tacos but a little shredded cabbage is welcome here too.
cilantro blender sauce
1 bunch of cilantro
2 garlic cloves
4 green onions, light and dark parts
1 jalapeno, barely seeded
juice of two limes
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp. drained capers
1/2 tsp. salt and pepper
2 Tbsp. grapseed or coconut oil, divided
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 large or 3 smaller portobello mushrooms, cleaned and stemmed
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/2 cups cooked black beans (roughly one 14 oz. can, rinsed and drained)
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. paprika
8 corn tortillas
goat, feta or queso fresco, for garnish
Throw all the sauce ingredients in the blender and pulse until everything is well chopped and combined. Set aside.
Warm 1 tablespoon of the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and a pinch of salt to the pan and cook for a few minutes until softened. Dice the portobellos and add them to the pan with the garlic, remaining oil and another pinch of salt. Saute until browned and the mushrooms have reduced, about 5 minutes. Stir in the black beans and spices and adjust to taste.
Lightly char your tortillas over the stove. To assemble, mash some avocado down the center of the tortilla. Drizzle a large spoonful of the sauce and top with some of the mushroom bean mixture. Garnish with a sprinkle of cheese and enjoy.