Black Bean and Cheese Tostadas With Tomato Salsa and Guacamole

These crispy tostadas are loaded with refried tasty black beans, melted cheese, tomato salsa and guacamole. These are so delicious and easy to make. These make great appetizers or pair it with street corn or rice to make it a meal. Just be sure to make plenty because you can’t just eat one.

Tostadas are fried tortillas that are topped with some of your favorite taco fillings. I’ve made them with chicken, beef or as my mother in law would make, just a red sauce and cheese. These are topped with Guatemalan refried black beans that we get from a can. This is are our favorite brand Ducal.

I admit that I had never had refried black beans until my hubby introduced me to them (they eat these a lot in Guatemala where he is from). I prefer these over the regular refried beans, but you can use either. The red salsa (sauce) is a tasty sauce made from canned tomato sauce with chopped sautéed tomatoes, onions, garlic and a few spices. The guacamole is homemade, but you can also find some really good ones that are already made. Then there is the cheese. This is loaded with Monterrey and Colby Jack cheese that’s piled on top of the black beans then the tostadas are put in the oven for a few minutes so the cheese get all melted and delicious.

It’s a good thing that the pre packaged tostadas come with so many because these are very addictive. So you can taste them for yourself, read below how you can make your own:

Here’s What You Need:

For The Red Sauce:

*3 roma tomatoes, diced

*15 oz. can tomato sauce

*2 garlic cloves, minced

*1 small onion finely chopped

*1 tsp. cumin or more to taste

*1 tsp. coriander or more to taste

*1/2 tsp. garlic powder or more to taste

*1/2 tsp. salt or more to taste

*olive oil

For The Tostadas

*pre packaged tostadas

*1 can of black refried beans

*shredded cheese; I used a combination of Monterrey and Colby Jack

*guacamole; homemade (click on the link for the recipe) or pre packaged

Heat a small sauce pan to medium heat and add in the olive oil. When the oil is hot add in the onions and the garlic.

Cook for about 2 minutes while stirring frequently. Add in the tomatoes and continue cooking for about 5 more minutes or until the tomatoes and the onions are soft; stir occasionally.

Add in the spices and cook while stirring for another minute then add the tomato sauce.

When the sauce begins to gently boil, turn the heat down to low and simmer for 10 minutes stirring occasionally. Taste the sauce and add in any more of the spices if needed.

Pre heat the oven to 400°.

Heat the black beans according to the directions on the can; set aside.

Prepare the guacamole . Cover well and set aside.

Place the tostada shells on a baking sheet and spread a layer of the black beans on the bottom.

Sprinkle on the cheese on top of the black beans.

Spoon some of the sauce over the cheese.

Place in the oven and heat for 5 to 10 minutes are until the cheese is melted.

Take out of the oven and top with the guacamole.

Serve and Enjoy!

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American Chop Suey

Have you ever heard of American Chop Suey? I have to be honest, I had never heard of this dish before. Lately hubby has been craving meals that he hasn’t had in a long time and this was one of those dishes. The only chop suey dish I had ever had was the Asian version. So of course I had to look this one up. It’s a pasta dish made with ground beef and tomatoes in a seasoned tomato sauce. It’s popular in the New England area (where hubby grew up and lived until he met this sweet Southern belle….ok, yeah, that might have been a bit much). Everywhere else it’s called American Goulash.

After looking a bit online I got the idea of how it’s made, of course I had to add a few of my own spins to it as well. It’s really an easy dish to put together. But not only is it easy to make, it’s really tasty as well. Let’s just say we both ate way more than our share. It was that good. This is definitely pure comfort food.

Not only is it super easy to put together, but it’s all done in one pot. It has seasoned ground beef and macaroni simmered in a delicious tomato sauce. Most recipes that I found had tomatoes, tomato sauce and tomato juice. I wanted to add a little more depth of flavor so I added chicken broth instead of the tomato juice. Hubby absolutely loved it so that’s an A+ in my book. I can describe the flavors all day day for you, but this is a meal that if you were a guest at my house, I’d grab you a plate (or bowl if you prefer) and just let you experience it for yourself.

So if you are ready to dig into total comfort food, look below to see what you need to make your own.

Here’s What You Need:

*1 Ib. ground beef

*1 onion chopped

*2 garlic cloves, minced

*2 tsp. garlic powder

*1 1/2 tsp. dried Basil

*1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano

*cracked pepper to taste

*salt to taste

*1 TBS. Worcestershire sauce

*3 TBS. tomato paste

*14 ounce can diced tomatoes; undrained

*15 ounce can tomato sauce

*2 1/2 cups chicken or beef broth (I use Better Than Bullion)

*2 cups elbow macaroni

*grated parmesan cheese (optional)

*parsley garnish (optional)

Heat a large pot to medium high. Add the ground beef, onions and garlic. Brown the beef breaking it up into small bits as you cook it; drain if needed.

Stir in the seasonings, Worcestershire sauce and tomato paste. Cook for about 1 minute.

Pour in the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and chicken broth, then stir in the macaroni.

Cover and cook on medium heat for 10 to 15 minutes or until the noodles are cooked through stirring occasionally.

Top with parmesan cheese and parsley if desired.

Serve and Enjoy!

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Skillet Tortellini Bake

This Skillet Tortellini Bake is perfect when you want an easy, comforting meal. It’s also really good to have when you have friends or family over for dinner. I used 2 packages of the refrigerated tortellini, so trust me, it makes a lot. It’s got everything that you want in a hearty pasta bake. It has cheese tortellini baked in a meaty marinara sauce that’s topped with cheese. It’s a pasta lovers dream.

Who can resist that?

This recipe is not only super easy, but you can play around with some of the ingredients, for instance instead of just using ground beef, half ground beef and half sausage would be divine as well (that’s probably what I’ll try next time I make this). Try using different cheeses and you can even substitute a mushroom filled tortellini instead of the cheese variety. Whatever you choose, I’m sure you and your whole family will even go back for seconds.

So what are you waiting for? Read below to see what you need to make your own.

Here’s What You Need:

*2 packages of the refrigerated cheese tortellini or 1 frozen bag.

*1 pound ground beef

*2 garlic cloves, minced

*2 tsp. dried Basil

*2 tsp. dried oregano

*salt to taste

*2 jars marinara sauce or 4 cups homemade

*2 cups shredded cheese; I used a Monterrey Colby Jack blend

*fresh parsley for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 400°

Boil the tortellini according to package directions; drain and set aside.

Heat a large oven proof skillet to medium high heat, add the ground beef, garlic, basil, oregano and salt. Break up the beef as it browns; drain if needed.

Turn the heat down to medium and stir in the marinara sauce, then gently stir in the tortellini.

Then sprinkle all of that lovely cheese on top.

Place in the oven and bake uncovered for 20 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the sauce is bubbly.

Carefully take out of the oven and sprinkle with parsley.

Serve and Enjoy!

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Asian Inspired Chicken

This Asian inspired chicken makes a quick weeknight dinner and is packed full of flavor. I wanted something a little bit lighter than some of the chicken dishes I get at my local Asian restaurants. So instead of battering and frying the chicken, I pan fried it in a small amount of oil and made a flavorful sauce made from a combination of soy sauce, honey, ginger, garlic and sesame that bathes the chicken pieces as it cooks. You can sauté a few of your favorite vegetables with it as well to make this an even heartier meal. It’s even better served over rice.

To make this dish even quicker for those busy weeknights, make the sauce ahead of time and pre cut the chicken into bite size pieces. You got this! You’re almost on your way to a one quick and yummy dish. Just look down below to see what you need to make your own:

Here’s What You Need:

*2 to 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts

*2 TBS. canola oil

*1 TBS. sesame seeds

*1 to 2 TBS. scallions chopped

*pinch or salt (don’t add too much because the soy sauce will add salt as well)

*white pepper

For The Sauce:

You can add more or less of the ingredients to fit your taste.

*1/4 cup soy sauce

*1 TBS. Shaoxing cooking wine (you can substitute with dry sherry or Mirin)

*1/2 tsp. fish sauce

*1 tsp. sesame oil

*1 TBS. honey

*1 clove garlic grated or minced

*1/8 tsp. ginger

In a small bowl, mix together all of the ingredients for the sauce; set aside.

Cut the chicken breasts into bite size pieces.

Heat a cast iron skillet to medium high heat and add in the oil. When the skillet is hot, add in the chicken pieces. Cook for about 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the pieces over and cook for another 3 minutes or until the chicken is no longer pink in the middle.

Turn the heat down to medium and add in the sauce and sesame seeds. Cook stirring occasionally until heated through.

Toss in the scallions and give a quick stir.

Serve over rice if desired.


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Steak and Cheese Pizza Loaf

Behold, the Steak and Cheese Pizza Loaf. This is similar to a Stromboli, which I love (you as well my Calzone friend) but it’s not rolled like it’s counterpart. Instead, this delicious beauty has seasoned shredded beef and melted cheese wrapped in pizza dough (hence the loaf)with more cheese sprinkled on top to give this a little extra cheesy crunch when baked.

This can easily be sliced and served in portions, or if you’re just really hungry, you can have a meal for one. I wont tell. After making this, it would have been really easy to devour the whole thing because it was that good, but I did share it with hubby. It’s easy to make more than one if your friends or neighbors are lured by the smell of this baking in the oven and want to come over for dinner.

See how all of that tender steak and melted cheese is wrapped in all of that tasty pizza dough? Who can resist this? I could very well sink my taste buds into another one as well.

You can make your own pizza dough or like I did to save a little extra prep time, buy some premade pizza dough. Another time saving tip is to buy the beef pre shredded. I have found more grocery stores now offer cuts of steak and beef already shredded. If you can’t find any pre shredded, you can ask your butcher to do it for you. If you prefer to slice it yourself, a great tip is to wrap the steak or cut of beef in plastic wrap and freeze for 30 minutes to an hour. Then using a sharp knife cut into thin slices. However you choose…pre made dough, pre sliced or go all in and do it yourself, this Steak and Cheese Pizza Loaf will definitely be a winner.

So grab a ball of dough, enough beef to please a carnivore and some tasty cheese, then read below to see what you need to make your own.

Here’s What You Need:

*Pizza dough (pre made or homemade) 1 ball makes 2 pizza loafs

*1 lb steak or roast thinly sliced or shaved

*favorite steak seasoning; I like to use Penzey’s Beef Roast Seasoning but you can use any kind

*salt to taste if needed (some steak seasonings contain salt so adjust according to your taste)

*shredded cheese; I used mozzarella and cheddar

*grated parmesan cheese (for the top)

*olive oil

*favorite marinara or pizza sauce for dipping.

Set out the pizza dough to rise according to package directions. Some might need an hour or longer depending on the dough.

Set out the sliced steak 30 minutes before cooking and season to taste with the steak seasoning and salt if needed.

Preheat oven to 400°

Heat a cast iron skillet to medium high heat and add about 1 TBS. of the olive oil. When the skillet is hot, add in the steak.

Cook for about 2 to 3 minutes; stir occasionally. These will cook quick so don’t over cook the steak or it will become tough. Remove from the pan and let cool slightly.

On a work surface, cut the pizza dough into two halves. Stretch or roll out the dough into a large circle or rectangle.

As you can see, mine are never a perfect rectangle or circle.

Place the steak and cheese in the center leaving space around the edges to fold and seal up the dough.

Fold one side of the dough over and around to the underside.

Pinch all of the edges to seal closed.

Turn the dough over and place seam side down on a baking sheer lined with parchment paper.

Cut 3 thin slits into the top of the dough.

This will allow the steam to escape while cooking.

Brush the top with olive oil and sprinkle on the grated parmesan cheese.

Repeat the same process with the other half of the pizza dough.

Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until golden brown.

*NOTE* If you do not want the parmesan cheese to crisp up, sprinkle on at the few minutes of baking.

Cut into slices and serve with marinara or pizza sauce for dipping on the side.


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Pan Seared Pork Chops

Original Date: September 23, 2020 Revised Date: March 18, 2023

These pan seared boneless pork chops are juicy, tender and full of flavor. I usually bread my pork chops and either cook them in the oven or pan fry them, but these were too beautiful to cover up with all of that breading. Instead, I coated the pork with a herb rub then cooked them like I do my steaks, in a hot cast iron skillet and basted them with butter, garlic and rosemary.

Pork chops can become dry and rather bland, but not these beauties. The herb rub gives it a nice flavor while basting them with the butter, garlic and rosemary adds another boost of flavor and helped the chops get a nice golden brown crust. Even hubby approved and he’s not a huge fan of pork chops. He likes pork loin and other cuts of pork, but for some reason, not always the chops. But this time, he even went back for seconds.

I made these with boneless pork chops, but feel free to use the bone in kind. Either one will make a quick, delicious meal. So put back those bread crumbs, crank up the heat on that cast iron skillet and grab some butter because you’re on your way to some tasty pork chops.

Here’s what you need:

*boneless pork chops

*1 TBS butter

*drizzle of olive oil for the pan

*2 cloves of garlic, smashed

*1 heaping tsp. dried Rosemary or 1 TBS. fresh Rosemary

For the Rub:

*1/2 tsp. salt

*1 1/2 tsp. dried sage

*1 1/2 tsp. dried Thyme

*1/4 tsp. white pepper; you can use cracked pepper.

About 30 to 45 minutes before cooking, lay out the pork chops and dry with a paper towel. Mix together the rub; sprinkle the mixture on to both sides of the pork.

Heat a large cast iron pan on medium high heat. Drizzle the olive oil in the bottom of the pan.

When the pan is searing hot, place the pork chop in a single layer.

Add the butter, garlic and Rosemary at the edge of the pan.

When the butter melts, with a spoon slowly baste the pork with the butter mixture.

Cook for about 3 to 4 minutes, basting while they cook. Turn the pork over and continue basting. Cook for 2 minutes or until the internal temperature is 145° For thicker pork chops cook longer .

Take out of the pan and let the pork rest for about 10 minutes and serve.


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Beef Enchilada Casserole

If you like beef enchiladas, then you will love this casserole. It has all of the flavors of beef enchiladas, but it’s so much easier to make. There is no rolling up the tortillas here, instead the zesty beef mix is layered between gooey cheese, corn tortillas and smothered in enchilada sauce.

Doesn’t that just make you want to dive right in?

This comforting, hearty casserole will make a welcome dinner for any night of the week.

This can also be made the night before. It can be frozen as well, which is always great if you have a busy week ahead and you want to have something on hand to just pop into the oven. So grab some tortillas and cheese and let’s get started.

Here’s what you need to make your own:

*corn tortillas; I like to use corn tortillas, but you can use flour if you prefer.

*1 large can enchilada sauce

*2 cups shredded cheese; I used a Monterey and Colby Jack blend

For The Beef Mixture:

*1 LB ground beef

*1 small onion chopped

*2 garlic cloves minced

*1 1/2 tsp. cumin or more to taste

*1 1/2 tsp. coriander or more to taste

*1 1/2 tsp. chili powder or more to taste

*1 tsp. dried oregano or more to taste

*salt and white pepper to taste

Heat a large skillet to medium high heat. Add the ground beef. Cook until almost browned, breaking up the meat as it cooks.

Add the onions and the garlic to the beef and continue cooking stirring frequently until all of the beef is cooked through; drain if needed.

Turn the heat down to medium and pour in 1/4 cup of the enchilada sauce and the rest of the ingredients for the beef mixture.

Set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350°.

Pour some of the enchilada sauce on the bottom of a medium baking dish; just enough to cover the bottom.

Line some of the corn tortillas on the bottom of the baking dish over the sauce. It’s ok if they overlap.

Spread the beef mixture over the tortillas.

Sprinkle half of the cheese over the beef mixture.

Line more of the tortillas over the beef and cheese mixture.

Pour the remaining enchilada sauce over the tortillas.

Top with the rest of the cheese.

Bake uncovered for 30 minutes.

Serve and Enjoy!

If you want to make ahead, simply assemble, cover tightly and place in the refrigerator.


If you don’t want the tortillas to become too soft from sitting in the enchilada sauce over night, toast them in a pan before assembling.

To Freeze:

Toast the tortillas in a pan if you want them a little firmer. They will become softer from sitting in the enchilada sauce.

Assemble and cover the unbaked casserole.

When ready to bake, partially unthaw in the refrigerator over night. Remove from the refrigerator for 30 minutes before baking.

Bake uncovered for 30 to 45 minutes or until heated through with in internal temperature of 165°.

Casserole can be frozen up to 3 months.

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Marinated Chicken with Bacon and Cheese

Have you ever eaten a great dish somewhere and you liked it so much that you wanted to recreate it at home? Way back…..and I mean waaay back….when I was just starting to cook and experimenting in the kitchen (like my mom and dad would do) I had two great chicken dishes that I absolutely loved. One was the Alice Springs Chicken from Outback Steakhouse. Their famous (and still one of my favorites) chicken marinated in a honey mustard type sauce and topped with mushroom, bacon, Monterrey Jack and Cheddar cheese. The other was from Applebee’s, it was a grilled chicken breast topped with bacon and cheese (do you see a pattern here? Yes, I have a weakness for bacon and cheese). I wanted to combine the two and of course, put my own spin on it….as I still like to do. So with a lot of trial and error in the marinade, I finally came up with a version that not only did I enjoy, but my parents as well. I actually have not made this in years, but I thought about it recently and made it once again for my hubby, although he hates mushrooms (which saddens me to no end) so I left those out.

The chicken is marinated for a few hours or over night (it has a little wine in it so you know it has to be good) then pan fried and topped with crispy bacon and melted cheese. Feel free to add the mushrooms. This is also good baked or grilled. It’s easy to put together and will be great for a weeknight….or weekend…dinner. You know it has to be a winner with bacon and gooey cheese.

Here’s what you need to make your own:

For The Marinade:

*1/2 cup soy sauce

*2 TBS Sherry wine

*the juice of 1/2 lime

*2 tsp. Dijon mustard

*1 TBS. olive oil

*2 1/2 tsp. brown sugar

*2 large cloves of garlic grated or minced

*1/2 tsp. sweet paprika

*1/2 tsp onion powder

*1 tsp. dried tarragon

*boneless, skinless chicken breast (thighs are good too)

*2 TBS or more of canola oil for frying

*1 TBS butter

*Shredded cheese; I used a blend of Monterrey Jack and Cheddar

*2 slices of bacon per chicken breast cooked

*scallions for garnish (optional)

In a bowl or measuring cup, combine all of the ingredients for the marinade. Taste and add any more amounts of the ingredients if desired.

Place chicken breasts between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound to make them a little thinner and equal in size.

Place the chicken in a zip top bag and pour in the marinade.

Place in the refrigerator and marinate for at least 3 hours or over night.

Preheat oven to 400°.

Cook bacon and set aside.

Discard the marinade and pat the chicken dry with paper towels.

Pour the canola oil and add butter to a large cast iron pan or oven proof pan and heat to medium high heat.

When the butter melts and the oil is hot, carefully add the chicken breasts to the pan.

Cook chicken 2 to 3 minutes or until the chicken starts to turn golden; flip the chicken over and cook another 2 minutes.

Place in the oven and cook for 10 to 15 minutes or until the chicken reaches and internal temp of 165°.

Top the chicken with the bacon and cheese.

Place back into the oven for another minute or so until the cheese melts. Top with scallions and serve.


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Pan Seared Herb Pork Chops In A Creamy Marsala Wine Sauce

These delicious pork chops are sprinkled with a few herbs, seared to perfection in butter and olive oil, then bathed in a rich, creamy marsala wine sauce. All of this is done in less than 30 minutes.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I just crave a good pork chop. Whether it’s fried in a parmesan crusted coating (future post perhaps?) or seared in a pan with some simple herbs and a nice sauce that lets the pork shine through. I choose the latter. This was definitely a hit with hubby, who isn’t always keen on pork chops. The only thing that I would have loved to add to this dish are mushrooms, but considering how hubby reacts to mushrooms as a vampire to sunlight, I had to forgo those little morsels of delight. But even without them, this dish is one of those that makes you close your eyes and savor each bite. And the sauce…..oh my the sauce…I could drink it with a straw it’s that tasty.

This is a great dish when you want a quick, but tastes like you spent hours in the kitchen, kind of meal. Serve it over rice, mashed potatoes or even buttered egg style noodles. Make sure you have some nice, crusty bread to soak up all of that delightful sauce since licking ones plate might not go over to well if you have company at the table. But if it’s just you and your significant other….lick away my friend….lick away.

Here’s what you need:

*Boneless pork chops; you can do this with bone in as well but cook a little longer

*Rosemary, fresh or dried to taste

*Thyme, fresh or dried to taste

*Tarragon, fresh or dried to taste ( I used a little since tarragon can be a little over powering)

*salt to taste

*cracked pepper to taste

*1 TBS. olive oil or more if needed

*2 TBS. butter

*1/2 cup Marsala wine

*1 cup chicken stock

*1/2 cup cream or half and half

Sprinkle both sides of the pork with the herbs, salt and pepper.

Heat a large cast iron pan to medium high and add the olive oil and the butter. When the butter is melted place the pork chops into the pan. Cook for about 3 to 4 minutes. Turn the pork over and continue to cook for another 3 to 4 minutes. While cooking, tilt the pan and spoon the butter mixture over the pork.

Take the pork out of the pan and set aside.

Turn the heat down to medium and carefully pour in the marsala wine. Let it cook for about 1 minute while scrapping the bottom of the pan to loosen any seared bits on the bottom of the pan. Those are indeed little chunks of flavor.

Pour in the chicken broth.

Turn the heat back up to medium high and let the sauce continue to cook until the sauce starts to reduce and thickens slightly; about 3 to 5 minutes.

Reduce heat down to medium and stir in the cream. Place the pork chops back into the pan with the sauce.

Cook until the pork chops are warm and are cooked through, about 1 to 2 minutes (145F minimum).

Serve and Enjoy!

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Slow Cooker Chili

Original Date: December,21 2020 Revised Date: November 11, 2022

Now that the weather is starting to turn cooler here in the South, well, on the days when the temps are not climbing into the high 70’s, it’s time for some hearty comfort food. This slow cooker chili is just that. It’s meaty and satisfying with a nice kick of spice, but not too spicy….unless you want it to be. You can throw it together and let it cook for hours and have a nice dinner everyone will love. It’s even better the next day.

The hardest part, and it really isn’t that hard, is browning the beef. The other hard part is trying not to lift the lid on the slow cooker to take a few bites. The wonderful smell wafting through the house for several hours makes it so tempting. This is one of those dishes my hubby asks for during the fall and winter months so I do tend to make this a lot. It also makes a great meal when you have friends and family over. I will admit, when I was a kid I hated beans in the chili. I would try to leave all of the beans behind and just score all of the other tasty stuff. Of course my mom and dad wasn’t too pleased with being left with mostly beans and a few morsels of beef and tomatoes. I can proudly say that when I got older I learned to savor this comforting dish, beans and all.

So pull out your slow cooker and get ready to fill your home with the mouthwatering smell of simmering chili.

Here’s what you need:

*1 lb ground beef

*1 small onion, chopped

*3 garlic cloves, minced

*1 1/2 TBS chili powder, or more to taste

*2 tsp. Chipotle powder, or more to taste

*1 tsp. salt

*2 tsp. garlic powder

*2 tsp. onion powder

*2 tsp. cumin

*2 tsp. coriander

*2 tsp. paprika

*2 tsp. dried Thyme

*1 1/2 tsp. dried oregano

*2 tsp. beef stock base; I used Better than Bullion Beef base

*1 bay leaf

*2 cans of light kidney beans, drained

*2 cans diced tomatoes with juices

*1 15oz. can tomato sauce

*shredded cheese for topping (optional)

Heat a large pan over medium high heat. Add the ground beef and brown; drain if needed. Turn down the heat to medium and add all of the herbs and spices (chili powder thru the beef stock).

Mix well and cook for 1 minute, add any more herbs or spices if needed. Spoon in to the slow cooker.

Add in the onions and garlic.

Add in the beans, tomatoes and tomato sauce.

Mix all of the ingredients together and then add in the bay leaf.

Cover and cook on low for 5 to 6 hours.

Remove the bay leaf and serve with some nice crusty bread and top with cheese if desired.


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