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Cajun Red Beans and Rice

We made this dish on our local Chicago station, WGN.  So yummy! Feeds 6-8 |Preparation - About 30 minutes (great make ahead meal) Ingredient List From your pantry: 4-15 ounce cans of 8 Track Dark Red Kidney Beans, drained and rinsed. Save the “bean water” 1 medium yellow onion, diced 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil 2 teaspoon, minced garlic from the jar (if you don’t have fresh) 1 teaspoon, hot sauce (add more if you like heat) 1 teaspoon of EACH of the following (thyme and dried paprika(smoked if you have it!) ½ teaspoon salt, more to taste ¼ teaspoon of black pepper 1/8teaspoon cayenne 2 bay leaves 8 ounce vegetable broth (1tsp vegetable bouillon to 8 oz water) Couple drops of red wine vinegar 2 cups instant brown rice, dry (prepare according to package directions)  From your fridge: 1 green bell pepper, cored and diced 2 stalks celery, diced Fresh scallions for garnish (not required)  Preparation Instructions: In a large skillet medium heat, add olive oil, onion, bell pepper and celery.  sauté until vegetables are translucent (about 5-7 minutes).  Add garlic and cook one minute. Add oregano, thyme, hot sauce, paprika, salt and pepper; stir to coat veggies Add one can of kidney beans (approx. 1-1/2 cups) and mash with back of spoon or potato masher, add remaining beans (don’t mash!). Add bay leaves, and vegetable broth. Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for 10-15 minutes. Stir occasionally.  Remove from heat and Add a couple drops of red wine vinegar to brighten flavors. While the beans simmer, prepare rice according to directions Serve:  Ladle on bean mixture over a bed of rice and top with scallions Enjoy!   Food Science Tip: By smashing the beans, you release the natural starches.  This naturally creates a thicker sauce.