So there are a few key weekends each summer that everyone at my lake looks forward to – May long weekend, September long weekend, Barnburner, West Cove days – but one of my favourites has to be July long weekend.
I think my cousin Sophie says it best when she refers to the crew out at Lac Ste. Anne as our lake family. Some of us are related by blood, others are not, but it doesn’t matter either way. We have all grown up together since we were kids and are all as good as family out there. We laugh together, cry together, party together, chill together and have EPIC camp fire sing-alongs- you know the drill
So several years back (6 or 7, maybe even more…no one really knows for sure) we came up with the idea to have a Mexican fiesta on Canada day (yes, we know, the cuisine is not appropriate for the occasion, but the spirit sure is!) My understanding of how this all started is that I think my Uncle Don and Aunty Ann wanted to try something fun because their family from Sweden was out at the cabin, and a Mexican fiesta sounded like a fun idea. I remember there was a threat of rain that day, so my Uncle Don managed to set up a bunch of tarps, and we had a great time!
There is a Southpark episode where Cartman’s sole goal in life was to go to this tacky Mexican restaurant called Casa Bonita. At the time, some of us were pretty into Southpark, so we started calling our Mexican fiesta Casa Bonita, and the name has stuck. (I think we have to credit my brother with this gem.) Now everyone attending, parents and all, refer to the fiesta as Casa Bonita.
It’s funny how in Spanish Casa Bonita means ‘beautiful house,’ and the name couldn’t be more appropriate. With good friends and family coming together under the same house (or our cabin’s front yard in our case) what could be more beautiful?
So every year, we always have a different mix of people at Casa Bonita, some years we have probably had more then 30, other years significantly less. But over the years, everyone has kind of fallen into a signature dish. My cousin Lori always starts off the festivities with her patented mango salsa. This year, she also made a pico de gallo. . My mom always makes sangria that just has a habit of magically disappearing as everyone digs in, and usually contributes a Mexican pulled pork and rice. For years, I have been making my favourite sweet and spicy Mexican black beans (which is our recipe of the week!) My friend Alie usually changes it up every year. Last year, Alie and her sister Jossie showed up with four splendid jugs of blended summery drinks. This year, Alie brought a cream cheese crab dip and Tex-Mex style Tater Tots. The tasty bite-sized taters really do lock in all the flavour.
And we can’t forgot my Uncle Don! Every year he lights it up with his enchiladas. When you ask him what he put in them he has no idea. He is the kind of chef that makes if up as he goes with no use of a recipe, and his food always turns out great!
So I intended on getting a fantastic picture of our spread, but the food was attacked with such vigor by all (including myself) that this is the best I could do, a bit of an afterthought. Below are Uncle Don’s fajitas, my mom’s pulled pork and rice, and my spicy beans.
So this week’s recipe is Mexican sweet and spicy beans. I have loved this recipe since the day I first made it, and not only is it a staple at Casa Bonita, but it frequently finds its way to our spread when John and I do Mexican.
– Saute the onions until they are caramelized. This takes a while, but is worth it in the end.
– Every time I make these beans, the level of heat is varied. If you want them just a little hot, remove the seeds from both your jalepenos. Usually, I leave the seeds in one of the two jalapenos – this gives the beans quite the spicy kick
– You can simmer the beans on the stove, but I find it putting them in the oven produces the best results
Ingredient I can’t live without:
I love these little babies so much. Baked beans, black bean hummus, chili and salad – you can’t go wrong!
So special thanks to my lake family for make Case Bonita so much fun year after year! We love to get over-stuffed with Mexican food together. I am already looking forward to next year!
Click here to view printable Word version of recipe:
Sweet & Spicy Mexican Black Beans
Sweet and Spicy Mexican Black Beans
2 medium onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and finely chopped
3 or 4 14 oz cans black beans, drained
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp salt
Heat the oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Add onions and saute until the onions are a nice golden colour, about 15-20 minutes. Add garlic and jalapenos, saute for 5 more minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large dutch oven or oven-safe dish, all ingredients, including the onion mix. Bake beans in oven for 1 to 1.5 hours. Alternatively, you can simmer beans if you don’t want to use the oven.