I love the flavors of this salad. It’s no secret that I adore red wine vinegar. That paired with the lime, the cilantro, the onions, and finally the texture of the Quinoa, just gives this that “what is that flavor” feeling on your tongue. You can’t help but continuing to go back for more and more. It’s really that good.

It definitely has that south of the border appeal and would be great for a fiesta or any Mexican themed meal.  We ate this with some taco burgers and it was sensational!  This makes a lot but it stays in the refrigerator for a long time so you can enjoy the leftovers!

Quinoa & Black Bean Salad Recipe
1 ¼ cup quinoa 
1 can (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 can of corn
1 red pepper, chopped
4 green onions, chopped
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ cup cilantro
¼ cup lime juice
½ teaspoon salt
1 ¼ teaspoon cumin
3 tablespoons olive oil
½ tablespoon splenda or sugar
Salt and pepper to taste

  • Rinse quinoa under cold water thoroughly. 
  • Put quinoa in a pot with 2 cups water. 
  • Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer 20 minutes or until water is absorbed and quinoa is tender. 
  • Fluff quinoa and transfer to a large bowl and allow to cool. 
  • In a small bowl, toss beans with vinegar and salt and pepper. 
  • Add beans, corn, red pepper, green onions, garlic, cayenne and cilantro to the quinoa. Toss well. 
  • In a small bowl, whisk lime juice, cumin, splenda and oil. 
  • Drizzle over salad and toss well with salt and pepper.
Total calories = 1770
12 – 1/2 cup servings = 148 calories per serving

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Fire Day Friday: Vegetable Burritos

Hundreds of thousands of years ago, I made a recipe for vegetable burritos that came from a recipe pamphlet from RoTel. Okay, carbon dating and fossil records show it was actually just over 15 years ago.

We loved it back then and thought it was an impressive recipe. That was back when I was just learning to cook for Alexis and my new family. Tonight we dragged this one out of the archives and upgraded it to how we would have made it now compared to back then.

Fire Roasted Vegetable Burritos with Cilantro/Roasted Pepper Queso

Source: NibbleMeThis

1 cup long grain rice
2 ea vidalia spring onions (green onions if you can’t get them)
1 ea red bell pepper
1 ea poblano or cubanelle chile
1 ea cherry pepper
1 can diced tomatoes
2 cups cheddar cheese, freshly shredded
1 ea serrano pepper, finely diced (skip if you want mild, double if you want hot)
1 cup refried beans
1 cup salsa
6 ea flour tortillas (mission sized burrito tortillas)
6 oz Mexican Dipping Cheese (We get El Viajero brand)
4 oz milk
1/4 cup cilantro

Start your grill to direct high heat at about 500f (skip if using your broiler and oven)

Cook your rice according to directions.

Grill the green onions just enough to get a slight browning on them (about 1 min a side). Fire roast or broil your peppers until blackened on all sides. The fire roasting brings out the best of the veggies.

Don’t be afraid that they are “too charred”. That makes them easier to peel and won’t affect the final flavor. This one wasn’t done enough yet, just to give you an idea.

Place the peppers in a plastic zip top bag, they’ll steam on their own for 5 minutes.

Cut the ends off each pepper and slice down the length of one side to open them up. Remove the seeds from the inside. Flip and lightly scrap the charred skin off with the sharp edge of a knife.

Dice the green onions.

As soon as the rice is finished, stir in the green onions, red bell pepper, and cubanelle/poblano pepper (reserve the cherry pepper for the cheese sauce). Stir in 1 cup of the cheese and the serrano pepper.

Taste the rice mixture for seasoning and add salt and pepper as needed.

Repeat for each tortilla:
Spread about 3 Tbsp of refried beans on the tortilla. Top with 1/2 cup of the rice mixture. Sprinkle more cheese and 3 Tbsp of salsa on top. Roll up burrito style and place seam side down in a casserole dish. (Click here for a photo tutorial of how I fold mine.) Top with a few sprinkles of more shredded cheese.

Place the dish in your oven preheated to 350f (or in our case, a grill set up at 350f for indirect heat) and cook for 25 minutes.

Cut the queso cheese into 1/2″ cubes and put into a small sauce pan. Add the milk, cilantro, and diced cherry pepper and warm until melted over medium/low heat.

Serve the burritos with the sauce poured over the top or on the side.

Don’t let the minimal amount in the picture fool you. As soon as the pictures were taken and my burrito was cut up, I ladled a good bit of that queso sauce all over my burrito!

In case you’re interested, here’s the original version. It’s a lot easier and still good.

Vegetable Burritos
Yields: 6

1 Pam non stick spray
1 can (12 oz) Rotel (Diced tomatoes/chilis)
1 cup instant rice
1/2 cup water
1 Green pepper
2 Green onions
2 cups cheddar cheese
1 cup refried beans
10 8″ tortillas
1 cup salsa
Black olives to taste

preheat oven to 350F. Spray a 9x 12 x 2 baking dish w/ spray. In medium saucepan, combine Rotel, rice & water. Heat to boil, reduce heat, cover, & simer 1 minute. Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes. Stir in pepper, onions and 1 cup cheese. Spread 3 table spoons beans over each tortilla. Layer rice mixture over beens and sprinkle on more cheese & salsa. Roll up and place seam down in prepared baking dish. Cover w/ foil. Bake 25 minutes.

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Indian Dal Masoor (Red lentils) for Cultural Connections

I believe this is the first Indian dish that I brought for Cultural Connections. Dals, daals, dahls or lentils, peas and beans are cooked practically daily in almost every Indian home, vegetarian or not. Each region has its own favorites and cooking methods. Indian dal is an easy comfort food for me. There are many good recipes, and it’s easy to find one that you will like. It is easy to find lentils in your grocery store in the ethnic section or where I get mine in our local natural foods store. Of course if you have an Indian store in your area, I’m sure you’ll find a large selection. I like to use masoor dal or red lentils because they cook quickly, you don’t have to soak them or use a pressure cooker. I like the texture when they are cooked as well.

1 1/2 cups red lentils
6 cups water or broth or mix half/half (I used veg broth)
1 small onion finely chopped
1 1/2 tsp garam masala
1 1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp cumin
4-cloves of garlic whole
1 Cinnamon stick whole
3 slices of ginger (peeled and sliced about 1/4″ thick)
1 bay leaf
sea salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter, you can use butter or good olive oil)
1 pinch asafetida (I found this in an Asian market also called hing)
1/2 teaspoon cumin whole seeds
dash of Cayenne or I used several dried whole chili peppers to get the flavor without so much heat.(my family can’t take too much heat) I sprinkled a little whole celery seeds in there too and It added a nice touch, just a tad.

Rinse masoor dahl thoroughly, until water is clear. In pot saute the onions in small amount of butter until soft. Add seasonings and stir. Add the broth, dal and remaining ingredients. Bring to boil, then lower to a simmer cook until thickens about 45min to 1 hour. Salt and pepper at the end before serving, some recipes heat whole mustard seed, cumin seed, and asafoetida in some ghee in small pan then drizzle on top before serving. Be sure you fish out the whole peppers, cinnamon stick, bay leaf, garlic and pieces of ginger before you serve it or at least warn them. I brought this to work once and didn’t get all the chilies out and someone ate it. She didn’t let me hear the end of it. At least she knew me well.

Adjust the liquid the way you like it. I like mine a little more soupy. Some like it thicker. Top with fresh chopped cilantro and yogurt,(my daughter ate hers with sour cream) and serve with a nice bread. Here it is with my Olga’s Bread, and yes I see the chili pepper! You can serve it over rice too!
Perfect for these cold winter days! I wish I could sit by the fireplace to enjoy this!

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Feijoada – Brazilian Celebration Meal! Cultural Connections

This month for Cultural Connections I am making Feijoada, it is the national dish of Brazil. This hearty meal is traditionally served on Saturday and is a celebration meal served with family and friends. I can see why, it makes a lot! I originally posted this on my blog The Tiny Skillet and thought it would be perfect to bring it back for this time of year. You can try it with a Coquito a Puerto Rican eggnog and have a festive time!
All I want to say is, I don’t know what made me research this and make it, but I am glad I did! I am definitely keeping this recipe in with our regulars.
It was said that it originated in the sixteenth century from slaves, where the dish was first made using all parts of the pig such as ears, feet, snouts and what ever else they could use and cooked with beans. I suppose like the chili recipes in the US, and paella in Spain, feijoada has many different recipes, each family or region has it’s variation.

I started out by stopping at our German meat market and store, Geiers Sausage Kitchen. I had a blast checking out all the different sausages, fresh and smoked…so many choices.
I picked up some Hungarian cured bacon to use in the Feijoada, polish sausage, and smoked chorizo. A lot of the recipes called fore dried beef to add some depth, but I found mine had plenty of depth with out it. It is also commonly made with black beans, but my husband is not crazy about them so I mixed in some pinto beans because I like the flavor of them. Pork is usually the star, but again I had my reason for not using much. I just had some pork loin which was too lean in my opinion, pork butt (shoulder) would work better. This is my version after plenty of research! I will try to get the amounts down for you, but as always with cooking (not baking) nothing is exact! (You can use all black beans or great northern if that what you like, and adjust or change the meats, but it is so worth it to make this dish) Give it a try!

1 1/2 cups dried black beans -soaked overnight
1 1/2 cups dried pinto beans -soaked overnight
3 or 4 slices of bacon (I used Hungarian bacon cut in small cubes like lardons)
1 link smoked chorizo -sliced
1 pound Polish sausage (I used one large one)
1 pound eye round steak -cubed (not the best choice, but ok)
1 pound ox tails
3 shallots or 1 yellow onion – chopped
2 carrots – diced
2 stalks celery -diced
4 cloves of garlic – sliced
2 teaspoons coriander
2 teaspoons Mew Mexico green chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 tablespoons tomato paste
5 dried chilies
6 bay leaves
salt and pepper
1/2 bunch of parsley chopped with stems
4 cups broth (I used organic beef broth) and some water to cover

Near the end I added some cubes sweet potato and chayote, you can add butternut squash or skip it. I added some purple sweet potatoes, and I was going to add some chopped cilantro to it at the end too, but forgot!

After the soaked beans are rinsed and added to a pot with broth, start to cook them. I used my crock pot for this because it was one thing that was large enough to hold it all. Because I bought fresh polish sausage I pricked some holes in it and roasted it in the oven with the ox tails for 30 – 40 minutes. While the sausage is roasting and the beans are started, in a large pan , saute the bacon to render the fat, then brown the lean beef.
Add the shallots, celery, carrots, and cook 2 -3 minutes, then add the garlic and tomato paste, cook a little more. I then added the coriander, chili powder, salt, pepper and smoked paprika.
Slice the chorizo sausage to add to it. Some recipes had you slice the polish sausage and some had you leave it in big chunk, so I did both with that!
Combine the meat and remaining ingredients…

I added some water to cover everything to cook in my crock pot. It probably took another 3 – 4 cups of water, (you can use more broth is you wish) once you add all that meat to the beans…

If using a crock pot cook on low for around 8 to 10 hours or on high for 5 0r 6. I had it on all day around eight hours. I started high for about an hour to get it going then turned it low for the remaining time. Then we went out a played on the boat all day, and the last hour or so I added the sweet potato, but of course that is optional.
If making it on the stove top, it cooks for around 3 hours until everything is cooked through and tender.

The meat should be falling off the bones…if using meat with bones, like ox tails or pork ribs…
Don’t forget to remove the bay leaves and dried whole chilies.
Serve over some nice fluffy rice.
Traditionally served with steamed kale, orange slices and toasted manioc flour. I only had cassava flour, which I understand is too fine to use and just wouldn’t work, so I skipped it. My kale was a little sorry looking, but that’s okay, it wasn’t the star!
We all loved this dish, and I am so happy I tried it. I brought some to work for my co-workers, and I still had some left over to freeze for later. It sounds like a lot of work, but it was not really(and it was worth it)…the hardest part was trying not to forget anything that goes in it!

Now I have to find some of this manioc flour!
Hope you enjoy it! Happy Holidays!
Feliz Natal!”
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Pickled Carrots

(makes 2 cups)
3/4 cup warm water
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
4 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons salt
1 pound carrots (peeled and cut to match stick size)
  • Mix the water, vinegar, sugar and salt until the sugar and salt dissolves.
  • Place the carrots in a container and cover with the pickling liquid.
  • Let pickle for at least and hour and store in the fridge for up to a week.

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1/4 pound thick bacon, chopped
1 small bunch green onions, sliced
1 pound fresh green beans, trimmed
1/4 cup Gorgonzola crumbles

  • In a large skillet cook bacon until crisp.  Remove with a slotted spoon to drain on papertowels.
  • Add onions and green beans to bacon drippings and stir fry until crisp tender.
  • Drain off any remaining bacon drippings.
  • Toss onions, green beans, bacon bits and gorgonzola crumbles.
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Buffalo Chickpea Patties

I’ve been enjoying a lot of vegetarian meals lately. I LOVE beans, they are healthy and cheap!

I’ve made bean patties before but so far, these are my favorite. I got the recipe from Veggie by Season and I even attempted to copy her presentation!  It looked so nice! 

I liked how she pureed some of the oats, I think that led to them sticking together better.  They made a very nice appetizer! 

We ate these with a delicious Apple and Caramelized Onion Pizza
Buffalo Chickpea Patties
Adapted from Veggie by Season
1 – 15 oz. can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 c. buffalo sauce, I used Franks
1 egg white
1 small onion
1 tsp. garlic powder
Salt and pepper

For serving:
Buffalo sauce
Ranch or blue cheese
Carrot Sticks

Add chickpeas to a bowl, use a potato masher or fork to mash, some chunks are okay.  Add the buffalo sauce to the chickpeas. 

Add half the oats to a food processor, pulse to create a crumb, add to the chickpeas. Then add the rest of the oats. Beat the egg white into the chickpeas.  Grate onion into the chickpeas, finally add the garlic powder, salt and pepper.  Combining ingredients well. 

Heat a griddle over medium, spray with nonstick spray.  Use a 1/4 measuring cup to portion out chickpea mixture onto griddle.  Cook patties for about 5 – 7 minutes, until crispy and brown, flip gently and cook for another 5 – 7 minutes.  Serve immediately to retain crispness. 

I served these as an appetizer and got about 7 patties.  You could make larger patties and serve as a burger as well. 

Total calories = 616 calories
7 patties = 88 calories per patty

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I found this awesome recipe for Onion Panade over at Stone Soup.   She called it the ultimate comfort food or a savory bread pudding so I needed to try that. She flavored with golden brown onions and the fragrance of thyme. Rustic bread provides the perfect contrast of textures.  I changed it up a bit.  You’ll find my changes in red.

I had couple of pieces of Havarti cheese left so tore them into pieces and added them the last few minutes of baking.

1 large Vidalia onion 

1 red onion, sliced into rings

1 large bunch green onions, sliced thin

2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 bunch fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1/2 medium loaf rustic bread (1/2lb), torn in to chunks I used sourdough buns that I had in the freezer for future croutons
5 ounces cheese, grated or crumbled
3 cups vegetable or chicken stock
2 cups chopped rotisserie chicken pieces
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees 
  • Cut onion in half lengthwise. Peel, then slice into half moons about 1/4inch thick. 
  • Heat 4 – 5 tablespoons olive oil in a large frying pan. 
  • Cook onion stirring occasionally until soft and golden brown. 
  • Stir in the thyme. 
  • In a medium heatproof dish layer about a third of the onions. Sprinkle over some of the bread and cheese. Repeat until all the ingredients have been used. You want to be able to see a little of each on the top. 
  • Bring stock to a simmer.
  • Pour over the onion dish. 
  • Season. 
  • Cover and bake for 30 minutes. 
  • Remove cover and bake for another 20 – 30 minutes or until the top is golden and crunchy and the stock has been absorbed by the bread.

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I’m always on the look out for great ways to spice up vegetable recipes.  I found what sounded and looked like an awesome recipe in a magazine for a carrot side dish recipe.  I was excited to make it, but then oh so disappointed.  They looked pretty, but they tasted awful.  So, we sat around the dinner table deconstructing AND reconstructing the recipe!  My family is so good at dinner conversation.  Well, maybe not, but at least they tell me what they don’t like and then help turn it into something they will like.

The original recipe:
12 medium carrots
1/4 cup mayonnaise
4 teaspoons grated onion
2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
2 tablespoons butter, melted and divided
1/8 teaspoon paprika
  1. Place carrots in a skillet. Add 1 inch of water.  Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer 15-20 minutes or until crisp tender.  Drain.
  2. Cut a thin lengthwise slice out of each carrot.  Scoop out carrot, leaving a 1/4 inch shell, set shells aside. Place the removed carrot in a food processor; cover and process until finely chopped.  Transfer to a large bowl; add mayonnaise, onion, horseradish, nutmeg, salt and pepper.  Spoon into carrot shells.
  3. Place in a greased 13 inch x 9 inch baking dish.  Combine the crumbs, 1 tablespoon butter and paprika; sprinkle over carrots.  Drizzle with remianing butter.
  4. Bake, uncovered, at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until tender. 
Do you remember Gilligan’s Island Season 3, episode 20?  No, I didn’t know the number or season either, but I remember the episode well.  Gilligan discovers a crate in the lagoon and pries off the lid, which falls face side down of course, and inside are all these beautiful seeds.  Mary Ann immediately plants a garden and they all have their favorite vegetables.  Because the seeds are radioactive they produce bigger and “better” vegetables that gives each castaway a special ability.  These were 2 1/2 inches in diameter!
I present to you the Gilligan’s Island Carrots:
12 medium carrots

1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 large bunch green onions, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon white pepper
1/4 cup dry bread crumbs
2 tablespoons butter, divided
1/8 teaspoon paprika

  • Place carrots in a skillet. Add 1 inch of water. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer 10 minutes or until crisp tender. Drain. Cool.
  • Slice carrots into 1 inch lengths and then into 4 pieces each.
  • In a small skillet melt 1 tablespoon of butter.  Saute’ onions and garlic until translucent and fragrant. Drain of fat.
  • Transfer to a large bowl; add mayonnaise, nutmeg, salt and pepper.
  • Toss with cooled carrots until well coated.
  • Place into a greased 9X9 baking dish. Combine the crumbs, 1 tablespoon butter and paprika; sprinkle over carrots. Drizzle with remaining butter.
  • Bake, uncovered, at 375 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until tender.

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