Chilled Black Beans & Rice

It’s been ages since I have posted. But I’m back in the game with this winner dish! It’s an adaptation of something my mom made for me when I first turned vegetarian at age 10. I think it was from a grocery store recipe magazine. It’s been WAAAAAY warm here lately, which inspired me to make this chilled dish. Enjoy!

Chilled Black Beans & Rice


  • 2-3 cups cooked black beans
  • 2 cups cooked jasmine rice, rinsed and drained
  • 4-5 roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 small yellow or red onion, finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ¼ c lime juice (or more)
  • 3 T olive oil
  • 1 T apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ t coarse salt
  • ¼ t chili powder (or more, if you like spice)
  • handful of fresh herbs (cilantro &/or Italian parsley), chopped
  • several grinds of fresh pepper


  • Mix the beans, rice, tomatoes & onion in a large bowl
  • In a separate small bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients to make a dressing; taste & adjust to your liking
  • Pour the dressing into the bean & rice mixture; gently mix with a spoon
  • Cover & chill in the fridge for a few hours
  • Serve cold

Wanna shake it up?

  • Add a variety of roasted vegetables – corn, bell peppers, zucchini – or anything that tastes good cold
  • Serve with slices of avocado on a bed of greens to make it a salad

Green Beans Amandine

Crisp, vibrant beans pair perfectly with toasty almond slivers in this easy springtime recipe!

Green Beans Amandine


  • 1 lb. green beans, washed with ends snapped off
  • 1/3 cup sliced or slivered almonds (or more - I like more!)
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • lemon juice
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • water


  • large saute pan
  • colander


  • Toast your almonds in a large saute pan over medium/high heat, shaking the pan frequently; Remove from pan, set aside and let cool.
  • In the same saute pan, cover beans with water and heat over medium flame to a slight simmer; Cover & cook until just crisp (about 8 minutes); They should be a vibrant, bright green. Do NOT overcook.
  • Drain beans into a colander & set aside.
  • In the same pan, saute the garlic in olive oil for a few minutes.
  • Add a splash of lemon juice, a pinch of salt, the green beans and the toasted almonds.
  • Mix it up over medium flame until fully integrated & warm.
  • Taste. Adjust salt/lemon, to your preference.
  • Enjoy!

Wanna shake it up?

  • Chill in the fridge and enjoy as a cold side - perfect for picnics.
  • Don’t have green beans? Try making broccoli, potatoes, or asparagus amandine. Cooking times will vary.

party time!

Freshen up your old standby party dip with carrots, carrots, carrots!

Carrot dip


  • food processor; grater & processor blades
  • knife & small cutting board


  • 1-2 carrots, cut into large chunks (to fit into the food processor tube)
  • 1 thumb of fresh ginger, peeled then grated with a microplane (or, 1/2 t ginger powder)
  • 15oz cooked garbanzos (1 can), drained
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • salt & pepper, to taste
  • water (a few tablespoons)


  • run your carrots through the grater attachment on your food processor. do NOT use the processor blade for this step…breaking down the carrot too much leads to an unfortunate and unappetizing color in the end :(
  • switch from the grater to the processor blade
  • add the rest of the ingredients (except the water) & process. it should be crumbly.
  • pulse in a little water, bit by bit. the consistency should be a little ‘rustic.’ you don’t want it to be completely smooth.
  • you are done! serve as a spread on crackers or toast, or as a dip.

Wanna shake it up?

  • replace your garbanzos with another white bean (cannellini, navy, etc.)
  • make it spicy with cayenne or chile de arbol
buried patio table me & my shovel my dinner

Holy snowstorm batman!

I’ve had a little blog-break since the vegan mofo ended :( but we just got dumped on with at least 15” of snow (exact total yet to come), and I felt inspired & refreshed to return, for the love of lobster!

After some intense (yet satisfying) shoveling I needed a jug of cold water & a tasty, light dinner.  I scrounged up a simple, yet delicious meal from the fridge/pantry contents: arugula salad with homemade sesame dressing & boxed cashew carrot soup with leftover jasmine rice. There will be more shoveling to come…and more tasty food now that I’m enjoying being snowed in :)

Sesame dressing:

Whisk together (measurements are approximate):

  • 2 T tamari
  • 1 T sesame oil
  • 1 T apple cider vinegar
  • splash of lemon juice
  • slivered almonds

Stir in:

  • Generous amount of toasted sesame seeds
  • chopped dates

Toss with arugula!

Simple Supper

Post-Thanksgiving exercise: getting a Xmas tree.

We’ve been in our house 3 years, but this is the first season with a tree! We had to do a lot of prep work for this ritual…

We went to 2 stores IN THE POURING RAIN to pick out the best tree, hauled it home, sawed off the trunk, and proceeded to rearrange the entire living room to accommodate said tree (oh yeah - this included dismantling my 4+ octave marimba yesterday & carefully transporting it to storage). Our house is soooooooo clean & orderly now! And for the next month we will inhale the deliciously fresh scent of Balsam Fir, that of my childhood memories.

Anyhow, all this work made us tired & hungry, so I quickly made a simple supper of soup & sides with just the contents of our fridge. I’m sharing the soup recipe with you.

Carrot Soup

In a large pot, saute the following in a little olive oil for about 5 minutes:

  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 3 small leeks (or 2 medium; or 1 large)
  • 2 t curry powder
  • 1/4 t cayenne


  • 1 lb. carrots, cut into 1/2” rounds
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 vegetarian bouillon cube (I use Rapunzel brand)
  • 2 T nutritional yeast

Cook over medium flame until carrots are tender - about 15 minutes.

Remove from heat & let it cool a bit; then puree in a blender or food processor.

Put it back in the pot & add 1 1/2 cups almond milk. Heat on medium & stir until it is all yummy. Add fresh cracked pepper, to taste.

Let the soup stand out — serve with fresh bread & simple sides, such as apple & avocado slices.

It rained all day - the snow has mostly melted now :(
But, rain means soup for supper! Recipe to follow.
  • Camera: Canon PowerShot SD770 IS
  • Aperture: f/2.8
  • Exposure: 1/20th
  • Focal Length: 35mm

It rained all day - the snow has mostly melted now :(

But, rain means soup for supper! Recipe to follow.

Restaurant Review: Zeitgeist Arts Cafe

I took a little holiday & I’m a few days behind!

On Wednesday I headed up to Duluth to spend Thanksgiving at my sister’s house. Mini-lesson for all the non-Minnesotans: Duluth is Minnesota’s 4th largest city, is located way up in the northwoods of Minnesota on the shore of Lake Superior, and is a major port for the iron & taconite industry of the nearby Iron Range.

Anyhow…not wanting to cook the eve of the big feast, my mom, sister, 5-year-old nephew & I went out to dinner at The Zeitgeist Arts Cafe. It’s housed in the newly-renovated & eco-trendy Zeitgeist Arts building alongside a 120-seat black box theater and 2 indy movie screens with daily showings. The entire building is beautiful, and I was especially impressed by the cozy urban atmosphere of the cafe. The exposed brick walls & gorgeous lighting were a definite departure from the wood-paneled cabiny Agendas of more typical northwoods establishments.

The menu was simple & organized and the easygoing server pointed out several vegan options (not just salad!). I settled on the Vegan Red Lion, which is a house-made veggie burger. (OK, urban people: it is exceptional that they used the word ‘vegan’ on a menu item here. And, double bonus points that it’s not just a Boca burger with fixins). The patty was a mix of grains, nuts, herbs & spices, and there were generous layers of raw & grilled vegetables on either side of it (think cabbage/sprouts; eggplant). All this was served on a super tall & fresh bun, which I must believe was also baked on-site. The Vegan Red Lion also comes with a vegan aioli, but I opted out & cannot comment on that (I don’t like messy, gooey sandwiches).

We all loved our food & had a relaxing time. Be advised that this place is not cheap (though I don’t have a basis for comparison here), but the quality is good and it’s worth it (especially if you’re used to city prices).

I’ll also note that though I wouldn’t say The Zeitgeist Arts Cafe is the #1 recommendation for families, they do have a kids’ menu & tiny cups of crayons to keep the little ones busy. My 5-year-old nephew had a pretty good time — and the server even seemed to get a kick out of having a kid constantly address him as ‘sir’ with his requests for more water, crayons, cheese, what have you. I think polite kids are probably welcome :)

I would definitely go back to the cafe — and I want to pair my meal with a movie or show in one of the adjacent theaters next time.

Walnut Squash Bread

Thank you, Your Mom’s A Vegan, for your delicious, seasonal acorn squash bread recipe!  I’ve tried it twice now: the first time I used the original recipe to rave reviews (it was devoured in a day!!!); the second time I made some edits to satisfy my more nutty palate (see adapted recipe, below).

Both recipes are quick & easy to whip up (15 minutes prep time max), but you have to commit to being home to babysit your oven for awhile (30 minutes to pre-cook the squash & an hour to bake the bread itself).

Anyhow, the warm oven makes the house cozy & you’ll love the end result. Enjoy!

Walnut Squash Bread

Preheat oven to 350F.

Combine in a large mixing bowl:

  • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour, sifted (more nutritious than AP flour)
  • 3/4 cup sugar (reduced from original 1 cup)
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1/4 t baking powder
  • 1/2 t sea salt
  • 1/2 t cinnamon
  • 1/2 t nutmeg

Mix in a separate bowl:

  • 1 cup roasted* & mashed winter squash (acorn, festival, delicata, etc.)
  • Ener-G Egg Replacer “eggs”
  • 1/4 c Earth Balance, melted

Add wet ingredients to dry & mix until blended (I used my Kitchen Aid Mixer).

Stir in a few handfuls of chopped walnuts (omega-3, baby!).

Spread in a greased & floured bread pan (5” x 9” x 3”) & bake for 50 - 60 minutes, or until fork comes out clean.

*cut in half, scoop out seeds & guts, place face down on lightly oiled baking pan & roast for 30 minutes in a 400F oven.

Cashew Sauce

Hectic before the holidays?

There is a lot to do in the next two days before I leave town for Thanksgiving - and I have a bunch of veggies in the fridge that need to be used up.  I need a simple, flexible recipe that will last a few meals.  Enter Cashew Curry!!!  This sauce is spicy, satisfying, and works well with a variety of vegetables.  As with the Ginger Peanut sauce, you can make it ahead of time & store in the fridge until ready to use, or use it right away. Enjoy!

Cashew Sauce:

Combine in blender or food processor, until powdery:

  • 1/2 c raw cashews
  • 2 T sesame seeds
  • 2 t coriander seeds (if using ground coriander, wait to add until next step)

Add & puree until smooth:

  • 4 roma tomatoes, chopped coarsely (or 1 can tomatoes)
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 vegetable bouillon cube (I use “Rapunzel” brand)
  • 1 c water
  • 2 T lemon or lime juice
  • 2 T nutritional yeast
  • 2 t turmeric
  • 1 t sugar
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/2 t cayenne
  • several grinds fresh black pepper
  • 2 t ground coriander (if not using seeds - see step above)

When ready to use:

  • Pour sauce into a large saute pan & heat on medium flame until simmering.
  • Add cut up vegetables*, stir.
  • Lower flame, cover, and simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Stir occasionally.
  • Serve over the whole grain of your choice.

*You can use a variety of vegetables; Today I used a large head of cauliflower, several carrots, and a cup of peas.

Kale Patch Kid

Welcome to the kale patch!

Today’s recipe features the lovely-tasting, nutrient-rich and easy to grow member of the cabbage family: KALE!

Kale is so wonderful that shoppers are inclined to steal it. Just last week I saw a woman coming out of the Seward Coop with an armful of groceries. She stopped in front of one of the decorative gardens outside, and without even contemplating her actions, she started plucking fronds of kale off the plants and putting them in her shopping bag. Busted!

There are a lot of kale recipes floating around this time of year, since it’s hardy enough to thrive well into the cold weather. Fun fact: its flavor actually improves after being exposed to frost. I’m sharing my all-time favorite recipe, inspired by the Mississippi Market’s sesame kale salad.

Sesame Kale with Pasta


  • large pot
  • wooden spoon
  • sharp knife
  • colander
  • cutting board
  • stovetop
  • large bowl (recommended)


  • as much kale as you like! (1 bunch is sufficient, 2 bunches are better, 3 are outrageously nutritious!)
  • 1 16 oz. package dried pasta of your choice (I recommend whole wheat spaghetti)
  • water (sufficient for pasta package directions)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • fresh grated ginger (if you like it zingy, about a thumb’s worth)
  • cayenne, to taste (only you know how much kick you need!)
  • olive oil
  • tamari
  • sesame oil
  • a handful of sesame seeds, toasted
  • fresh cracked pepper, to taste


  • Be at the ready: set a colander in the sink!
  • Get your water & pasta going on the stove, per package directions. When you drop your pasta in, set a timer for 1 minute less than the package recommendation for al dente.
  • Meanwhile, remove the spines from the kale and wash it. Bugs love to hang out in its curly edges, so I recommend you get a large bowl and submerge it in water and a drop of vinegar & agitate. You can also just rinse the pieces carefully. Set aside.
  • When the timer goes off, test your pasta. It should be almost done. Throw all of your lovely kale into the pot, push it down gently into the water with a wooden spoon, and let it wilt. It will turn a beautiful bright green almost instantly (or deep purple, if it’s purple kale). REMOVE IMMEDIATELY and drain the noodles & kale in the colander. Overcooked kale is sad :(
  • Put the same pot back on the stove on low heat and saute the garlic, ginger and cayenne in a little olive oil for a minute or two. Stand back & add a generous splash of tamari. Don’t inhale - this will cause a big fizz that your nose won’t appreciate!
  • Add your cooked pasta & kale to the pot. Sprinkle in your toasted sesame seeds and crank in some fresh cracked pepper. Drizzle in sesame oil to finish it (a little goes a long way). Stir it up! Taste. Adjust tamari/cayenne/oil, to satisfy your palate.
  • When everything is sufficiently mixed & warm, turn the heat off and enjoy!

Wanna shake it up?

  • Add nutritional yeast or flax seed meal at the very end for a healthy boost (but don’t cook the flax - it will make everything super gummy).