When you give a dog a blanket…

The other day I made the timeless and irrevocable mistake of allowing my Great Dane up on the bed for the first time.  I had been sick in bed most of the day, having come home from work at noon with a stomach that had decided to wage war against me.  It had every reason to, I suppose, I had given it chicken that, as it turns out, was not quite edible.

I told you I should never cook.

In any case, after sleeping for a few hours, I turned over in bed and glanced across the room to find my dog’s big brown droopy eyes staring back at me.  Feeling rather chilly and sorry for myself at this point, and finding his company even more comforting than usual, I had the very ill-advised idea of calling him up on the bed.


At the time, it seemed an entirely sensible thing to do. For one, he’d never been on the bed before because I had taught him it was off limits.

Poor dog.

Secondly, why wouldn’t I allow a warm, cozy 160lb teddy bear up to keep me warm and comfort my soul? And lastly, well, I was sort of  bored and thought it would be cool.

Cool, you say? Yes, well, if cool is having a bed that is now part Great Dane, yes yes, it was a very cooooool idea.

I can’t deny it was rather delightful having him up there with me while I slept. He was warm and cozy, and did clumsy little things with his paws on the bed to make me laugh. He knew he was being allowed to be someplace special, because it took me five minutes to get him to jump up there to begin with, and once he did he just collapsed on his stomach and laid perfectly still for a good ten minutes, all starry-eyed and awestruck.  It was as if he was afraid if he moved he might break the spell.

But now, of course I can’t keep him off. Oh, he won’t dare jump up there when I’m in the room. Oh no, he waits till I leave work and returns to his bed on the floor when he hears my car pull up. It’s become his little forbidden obsession, and he still thinks I don’t know what he’s doing.


I’m sorry my friend, but when I make the bed before I leave only to find blankets pulled off, pillows re-arranged, and a nice warm spot in the center of the bed, you appear about as innocent as a kitten with a milk mustache.


And when I do catch him lying upon the outlawed, delicious place, he sort of freezes and stares at me, as if that somehow makes him invisible.



Why I’m afraid of recipes and how to make a Chimichanga

So you’ve probably figured out by now I’m not much of a cook. I am, in fact, the furthest thing from that term I can think of.  If you look up the word ‘chef’ in the dictionary I imagine ‘Jen’ would be listed as it’s antonym.

Ok, so I’m being a little bit hard on myself here, but in all honestly it really isn’t that far from the truth.  I am good at randomly throwing things together when necessary, making something edible when there is seemingly nothing in the fridge, and tweaking dull dishes to taste better because I am creative and have a perceptive palette.

BUT, when it comes to following a recipe I’m a disaster of immense proportions.  I’ve been known to start kitchens on fire, destroy things as simple as cupcakes, and make casseroles explode while they were minding their own business in my oven.

Ahem, yes, I am definitely not much of a perfectionist, and to my chagrin often attempt to utilize my creativity where creativity is not wanted or needed.  Following a recipe makes me feel constrained and bored, like I’m filling in a paint-by-number.

And so I customize.

The thing is though, the people who create recipes actually know what they’re doing and I don’t. So get over it Jen.

I’m working on it.

So I had a point in saying all this.  In the spirit of developing an appreciation for the process of making meals and a recognition of the few things I have learned to make, I’m going to write about one. This is the very first time I’ve ever shared a recipe, if you even want to call it that. A more accurate expression would be ‘how-jen-tosses-things-randomly-into-a-pot’

I learned this one by default growing up, a combination of my mom’s true gift for cooking and the ‘experimental cooking’ I got from my dad.  I’d drive my poor mom crazy trying to cook with her in the kitchen, while my dad and I would end up laughing in the middle of the mess we’d make ‘experimenting’, which often resulted in no food at all.


For the type-A person reading this, I am sorry. To those who are, in some way like me, cheers!  This one’s for you. (:  I like this one because it gives room for mistakes, has very few ingredients, and you can tweak it without hurting it. You’ve gotta have some time to love on it though.


A bag of dry pinto beans


1 Whole Onion




Ok, so begin with a bag of dry pinto beans. Pour them into a large pot of warm water.  Get your hands in there and clean them, repeating several times until the water runs clear.


Fill the pot with cold water and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and let them sit overnight. (Don’t worry, they most likely won’t get into any mischief.)

Wake up the following morning and have a cup of coffee.


(You may think this is an optional part of the process, but for me it really isn’t)

Turn the beans back on at a low simmer and let them cook for an hour or so, added water when needed and stirring occasionally.

When the water begins to look a nice muddy shade of brown, add one peeled onion cut up any way you like, and about a third package of bacon.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Common onion - Allium cepa

At this point your beans should look about like this, and should be smelling so delicious you’ll want to taste them.  Don’t though, not just yet.

beans cooking

Put the lid on and keep at a low simmer.  Cook for the next 4-5 hours or so, adding water and stirring once or twice every hour.  I usually keep a glass of water right there next to the pot so I don’t forget.


If you need to leave the house at any point during this time, feel free.  Just turn them off while you’re gone and back on when you return.  Trust me, I’ve done it plenty of times myself and it doesn’t hurt them a bit.

At the end of the 4-5 hours, your beans should be cooked through and through, and there should be loose water in the pot.


Try a spoonful to see how they are and add salt to taste.  I always wait until after adding the bacon since that will add salt of its own.


Now comes the fun part- the smashing and mashing.  Use one of these things and start smushing to your heart’s content.


Ta da! We’re done (:  At least with the beans part of things.  And don’t worry, all the lovin’ you put into them will pay off.  These beans last a lot longer than you’d think and can be used in so many other meals. Enchiladas, Nachos, bean dip, and the list goes on.


Ok, so to make your chimichanga, place a flour tortilla in a warm pan or griddle. No oil or butter needed.

tortilla in pan

Spoon in your beans and a fair amount of cheese.


And by ‘fair amount’ I mean lots and lots, of course.

Fold it up like so

uncooked chimi

and let both sides brown nicely.

A few minutes later you should have something that looks like this:


The beauty of these guys, aside from their deliciousness, is that you have so much room to experiment with them.  You can add your own twist however you fancy and make them your own.  They’re great with grilled chicken or ground beef inside, smothered in cheese and enchilada sauce on top, or simply served with guacamole and sour cream. I very much enjoy them served underneath a fried egg, over-easy.

There you have it.  If I can make these, anyone can. And by anyone I mean anyone.