Black Beans and Rice

While this is a simple dish, it packs a ton of great flavor and nutrition.  Beans and rice make a complete protein, meaning you get all of the essential amino acids that your body needs.  It’s great on its own or topped with a variety of tasty options, like cheese, pico de gallo, avocado, sour cream, cilantro, hot sauce…  Served with a side salad or some sautéed veggies and you’ve got a filling, delicious vegetarian meal, and it’s cheap too!

Black Beans and RiceBlack Beans and Rice (A Seat at the Table)

Serves 4-6

Adapted from Elly Says Opa 

  • 1 Tbsp canola oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp tomato paste (optional)
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 (15oz) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup beer, vegetable broth or water
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • squeeze of lime, to garnish
  • chopped cilantro, to garnish

Heat oil in a medium pot over medium-high heat.  Add onion and cook until translucent.  Stir in the garlic, tomato paste and bay leaves, cooking until garlic is fragrant, about a minute.

Add the beans, smashing about 1/2 of them with the back of your spatula.  Add the liquid, chili powder and cumin.  Simmer for about 30 minutes, until the liquid is mostly absorbed.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve with a squeeze of lime juice and a sprinkle of chopped fresh cilantro.

For the rice, you can just cook according the instructions on the bag.  I stirred in some sautéed onion and chayote (similar in flavor to summer squash), and fresh chopped Roma tomatoes (remove the seeds), to the cooked rice the first time I made this, but it’s delicious either way.  Brown rice is also a good option.

Roasted Banana Oatmeal Muffins

How do you like your bananas?  I’m a pretty firm believer in eating them when they’re completely yellow, I’ll even take a hint of green.  Once the spots start they’re overripe and I wait until they’re good and splotchy and use them for baking.  Lately it seems like my bananas are ripening faster than ever, and I ended up with 6 baking-worthy bananas that I needed to deal with before the fruit flies got to them.  So naturally, I experimented with them.  I’d seen mention of caramelized banana muffins, which sounds awesome.  But I didn’t want an overly sweet dessert muffin, so I continued to do a bit of searching and found several recipes that recommend roasting.  So with 6 bananas, I tried both.  For this recipe I ended up liking the roasted ones just a bit better (although warning: scooping banana out of roasted banana peel is super unappetizing), the banana flavor permeates the whole muffin, adding just a little extra sweetness.  Caramelized was also good, but there were just bits of banana flavor in the muffin, it wasn’t suffused with the flavor.  If you want to try caramelized, just melt 1/2 stick butter in a large skillet, add the brown sugar and slices of banana and cook for a minute or two.  Otherwise, below is the recipe for just sweet enough, roasted banana muffins that are perfect for breakfast with a cup of coffee.

Roasted Banana Oatmeal MuffinsRoasted Banana Muffins (A Seat at the Table)

Makes 12 muffins

Adapted from Guilty Kitchen

  • 1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup wheat germ
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom (optional)
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 ripe bananas, roasted and mashed
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 egg

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Place bananas on a foil lined baking sheet and bake for about 15-20 minutes, or until black and fragrant.  Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine dry ingredients (oats through sugar) and mix well.

In a large bowl, mix together wet ingredients.  Add dry ingredients to the wet and mix until just incorporated.

Divide batter into greased muffin tins and bake for about 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Allow to cool in tins for about 5 minutes, then remove to a wire rack and allow to cool completely.  This have a lot of moisture in them, so to keep them fresh, store in the refrigerator in an air-tight container for up to a week.

Almond Butter

While visiting my friend in CO, I learned that Justin’s nut butters are produced in CO.  And while on a field trip of the 2nd largest Whole Foods in the country, we sampled some freshly pressed nut butters.  Clearly I’m on a nut butter kick, because as soon as I got home and saw a recipe for homemade almond butter with honey, vanilla bean and sea salt, I got right to making my own.

Making nut butter is very easy, as long as you have a food processor up to the challenge.  With a powerful food processor and a little patience, you’re pretty much all set.  It was so much fun, that after making one batch, I made a second batch with a friend the next day.

Honey-Vanilla Almond ButterHoney-Vanilla Almond Butter (A Seat at the Table)

Makes about 1 cup/one jar

Adapted from Ambitious Kitchen

  • 2 cups unsalted almonds
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped out
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp kosher salt

Spread almonds on an ungreased cookie sheet and place in oven.  Set oven to 400°F, when the oven has finished preheating, the almonds are probably done.  They should smell delicious, and taste super nutty.  Allow almonds to cool.

Add almonds to the food processor and blend.  It will be super noisy for a minute, but then will turn into a coarse mixture.  Keep blending until a smooth paste forms. (A ball might develop, just keep blending away, it’ll smooth out).  Once the mixture is pretty smooth, add the remaining ingredients and blend again until smooth and well mixed.  Again, the mixture might firm up into a ball, but leave the processor on and it will smooth into a delicious nut butter.

Transfer butter into a mason jar or tupperware and allow to cool before sealing.  Leave at room temperature and mix as needed if butter begins to separate.  Enjoy with bread, crackers, and/or fruit.

Cocoa Almond ButterCocoa Almond Butter and Honey-Vanilla Almond Butter (A Seat at the Table)

Makes about 1 1/2 cups

  • 3 cups unsalted almonds
  • 4 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 4 tsp honey
  • 1/8 tsp kosher salt
  • pinch of cinnamon (optional)

Spread almonds on an ungreased cookie sheet and place in oven.  Set oven to 400°F, when the oven has finished preheating, the almonds are probably done.  They should smell delicious, and taste super nutty.  Allow almonds to cool.

Add almonds to the food processor and blend.  It will be super noisy for a minute, but then will turn into a coarse mixture.  Keep blending until a smooth paste forms. (A ball might develop, just keep blending away, it’ll smooth out).  Once the mixture is pretty smooth, add the remaining ingredients and blend again until smooth and well mixed.  Again, the mixture might firm up into a ball, but leave the processor on and it will smooth into a delicious nut butter.

Transfer butter into a mason jar or tupperware and allow to cool before sealing.  Leave at room temperature and mix as needed if butter begins to separate.  Enjoy with bread, crackers, and/or fruit.

Tofu Lettuce Wraps with Hoisin-Peanut Sauce

I loved this meal.  It’s super flavorful, comes together quickly and works great as either a main dish or would be a lovely appetizer (just omit the rice).  These were a bit messy and I ended up eating them more as a salad than a wrap, but that made them no less delicious.  This is the first time that I’ve crumbled and sautéed firm tofu, and I won’t lie and say it tastes like chicken, but it is really good.  I liked the texture and it absorbs a lot of flavor.  The hoisin-peanut sauce adds another great layer of flavor and creaminess.  I was a little reluctant to buy hoisin sauce since I hate having tons of open condiments and no idea how to use them up.  However, this recipe and the Grilled Ginger-Sesame Chicken Salad will definitely be made again, so I’m glad I invested in it!

Tofu Lettuce Wraps with Hoisin-Peanut SauceTofu Lettuce Wraps with Hoisin-Peanut Sauce (A Seat at the Table)

Serves 6-10 (10 as an appetizers)

Adapted from Cooking Light


  • 2 tsp canola oil
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 Tbsp creamy peanut butter
  • 1 1/2 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 lime, juiced

In a small saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Add shallot and sauté  for a few minutes, until golden.  Add water, peanut butter, hoisin sauce, and red pepper.  Whisk until smooth, let simmer for about 1 minute.  Remove from heat and whisk in the lime juice.


  • 2 (14oz) pkgs extra-firm tofu, drained and pressed (at least 30 min)Tofu Lettuce Wrap with Hoisin-Peanut Sauce (A Seat at the Table)
  • 2 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 5 scallions, thinly sliced (more for garnish)
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped (more for garnish)
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp fresh minced ginger
  • 1 tsp Sriracha
  • 1/2 cucumber, cut into matchsticks
  • 2 carrots, cut into matchsticks
  • 2 cups hot brown rice
  • Bibb lettuce

In a large skillet, heat sesame oil over medium-high heat.  Add scallions and saute for a minute.  Crumble in the pressed tofu, and saute for an additional few minutes, until tofu starts to brown.  Stir in cilantro, soy sauce, ginger, and sriracha, cook for an additional minute, until liquid has been absorbed.  Remove from heat and stir in the cucumber and carrot matchsticks.

To assemble, place Bibb lettuce leaves on a plate, scoop a little brown rice (about 1/4 cup) onto each leaf, then top with tofu mixture, a little sauce and then garnish with scallions and cilantro.


For all of you who like to keep track of your various blogs through Google Reader, I’m sure you’re aware that G-Reader is ending.  I’ve moved to Bloglovin’ but there are several other options out there.  Wherever you go, I hope you’ll continue to follow me!  Stay tuned later this week for some almond butters!

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Summer recipes

Happy first official day of Summer!  I’ve already had my first vacation to visit friends in Colorado, and am looking forward to vacationing at the beach later this summer with the family.  To kick off summer right, I thought I’d do a recap of some of my favorite summer-flavored recipes!Summer Recipes 2013

Let’s start off with some ideas for grilling.  I’m a novice when it comes to grilling, but I’m hopefully going to change that this summer.  My friend in CO showed me just how easy grilling up some veggie skewers and bratwurst can be, so I’ve got some ideas to try.  In the meantime, I think this Island Lime and Coconut Chicken and these Apple Turkey Burgers with Cheddar and Caramelized Onions, would be awesome made on the grill.

No cook out is complete without some side salads!  I recommend Grandma Helland’s Potato Salad or her VERY popular Broccoli Salad.  If you need something to share with a crowd, I love making this Asian Cabbage Salad.  It easily feeds a ton of people and is bright and fresh, definitely a crowd pleaser.

For some easy sandwich/wrap fillings, I’ll be making Rosemary Chicken Salad, Curry Chicken Salad and Chickpea Pesto Sandwiches all summer.  They’re light and refreshing and the perfect summertime lunch.

You’ll definitely want to take advantage of all the fresh fruits and vegetables this summer.  Here are some ideas for that fresh, delicious produce.  I plan on making this Amazing Bruschetta all summer long.  My first foray into eggplant is still my most loved way of serving it.  This Roasted Eggplant Salad with Goat Cheese and Smoked Almonds is packed with flavor!  For the summer squash/zucchini, you can’t go wrong letting it shine in this Summer Squash and Ricotta Galette.

Strawberry season has already ended at the local farm I go to, but you’ll be able to get delicious strawberries at the store all summer long.  For a popular salad, make Strawberry Spinach Salad, or take advantage of the young kale and make a raw Strawberry Avocado Kale Salad.  If you’re looking for something sweeter, try these Fresh Strawberry Cupcakes, they’re gluten-free but still super delicious.  Alternatively, make a Fresh Strawberry Yogurt Bundt Cake, which is always good for a group, or really wow them with Tres Leches topped with strawberries.  And I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention this show stopper: Chocolate Covered Strawberry Layer Cake.

To take advantage of the other fresh berries this summer, start breakfast off right with these amazing Blueberry Pancakes with Blueberry Sauce, or a Blueberry Buttermilk Breakfast Cake.  For a more decadent fruit dessert, you’ll never want another kind of cheesecake again once you’ve made this Blackberry Cheesecake, or combine your favorite berries for a spectacular Razzleberry Pie, topped with ice cream of course.  And for the raspberry lovers/dessert lovers, these White Chocolate Raspberry Bars totally changed my opinion on white chocolate.

Grilled Ginger-Sesame Chicken Salad

So I’m trying to get more creative with my salads.  And this is definitely going to be filed under filling, delicious, interesting salads.  This is a great summer salad, full of fresh, strong flavors.  The marinade is wonderful on the chicken, and then it’s very easily transformed into a dressing for the salad.  If you’re looking for a new, interesting salad, you’ll definitely want to give this one try.  I made this on a grill pan, but it’ll be great for outdoor summer barbecues too!

Grilled Ginger-Sesame Chicken SaladGrilled Ginger-Sesame Chicken Salad (A Seat at the Table)

Serves 4-6

Adapted from Menu Musings


  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 3 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
  • 2 Tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp sriracha sauce
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 pkg chicken tenders, or two large chicken breasts cut into strips
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced


  • 1 lb Napa cabbage (1/2 a large head), thinly chopped
  • 2 carrots, grated
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cucumber, chopped
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 2 tsp white toasted sesame seeds
  • 2 tsp black toasted sesame seeds

In a measuring cup, whisk together the soy sauce, canola oil, ginger, hoisin sauce, sesame oil, sriracha, and salt.  Add the chicken to a large ziploc bag, then add in 3 Tbsp of the marinade.  Seal the bag and allow to marinade for at least 30 minutes. Add red wine vinegar and scallions to the remaining marinade and set aside.

While the chicken is marinating, prepare the salad ingredients, and toss together in a large bowl.

Grill the chicken for about 4-5 minutes on each side, until cooked through.  Slice the chicken, and place on top of the salad.  Dress the salad, and serve.

Greek Kale Salad

Back to my kale eating ways!  This was something I was able to throw together with whatever I had on hand.  It’s easy and super delicious.  It’s easy to keep feta and olives on hand and during the summer months I usually have some tomatoes, cucumbers on hand too, so this is perfect when you don’t feel like putting a lot of work into your salad but you still want to eat your vegetables.  Kale adds some extra nutrients and staying power to this Greek salad.  If you want to make this more of a main dish just add in some chickpeas or grilled chicken.  Perfect for a weeknight dinner or lunch.

Greek Kale SaladGreek Kale Salad (A Seat at the Table)

Serves 4-6

  • 1 bunch kale, stems removed and chopped
  • 1 cucumber, chopped
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 oz feta, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup kalamata olives, chopped
  • Italian dressing to taste

In a large bowl, add kale and about 2-3 Tbsp of Italian dressing, massage the kale until tender.  Add remaining ingredients and serve.

Ginger-Scallion Cold Tofu

With summer approaching and the temperatures rising, you can bet I will be eating a lot more of this tofu.  This is super simple to prepare, it’s refreshing and cold and light.  This goes great with a salad (I’d recommend an Asian cabbage salad like this or this or this) for a quick, light summer meal.  Tofu is also a great vegetarian (vegan too!) source of protein, iron and calcium.  And while the biggest complaint with tofu is that it’s bland, this dish adds spicy fresh ginger, scallions and soy sauce…I think it’s anything but bland with all those flavors going on.  Try it and let me know what you think.Ginger tube

I like Silken brand soft tofu for this, it has a really smooth texture.  If I’m really lazy I even cheat on using fresh ginger and use some from a squeeze tube.  But using fresh ginger does taste a bit better and is pretty easy to use with a proper sharp knife.

Silken soft tofuI like to store gingerroot in the freezer and break off a knob when I need to use it.  I use a pairing knife to carefully peel the outer layer (you can run some warm water over the root for a little so it’s not quite so cold to hold).  Once it’s peeled I use a sharp knife and slice, then mince the still mostly frozen ginger.  This works great for getting a good mince.  Ginger can get a bit stringy, so I’ve found this to be the best way.  You can also try using a microplane to grate the ginger, but that takes longer in my opinion.

Ginger-Scallion Cold TofuGinger-Scallion Cold Tofu (A Seat at the Table)

Serves 2-4

  • 1 block Silken soft tofu, preferably chilled
  • 1-2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, minced (about 1/2 inch knob)
  • 1 Tbsp soy sauce (more or less to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp ponzu (optional, this adds a hint of citrus…you could try a squeeze of lime juice too)

Carefully open the box of tofu and squeeze tofu out onto your serving dish (something with a bit of an edge to hold soy sauce).  Sprinkle with scallions, place ginger on top of the tofu block, then drizzle with soy sauce and ponzu.  Serve and enjoy!

Mediterranean Quinoa

This is a great grain salad.  It’s got everything you need!  Quinoa is packed with protein, but still has the starchy taste of a grain, the vegetables add fresh flavor and color and vitamins, feta and olives add to the whole Mediterranean deliciousness, and herbs make it fresh and summery.  I expect I’ll be making this a lot more this summer.  It’s easy to make, great for potlucks, picnics, or lunches.  The flavor is a little subtle, which I found to be a great refreshing taste, but if you want to kick it up a notch, add more feta and/or olives, or herbs, just taste as you go (remembering that it’ll come together more the longer it sits).

I can also picture this being a great tomato filling for later in the summer, just leave out the grape tomatoes and stuff a large tomato with this salad for a pretty presentation.

Mediterranean QuinoaMediterranean Quinoa Salad (A Seat at the Table)

Serves 20

Adapted from Eat Good 4 Life

  • 3 cups dried quinoa
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1 Tbsp dried dill (twice as much if using fresh)
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh mint (basil would also be fantastic)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 lb grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cucumber, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • 3/4 cup chopped Kalamata olives
  • 8 oz feta, crumbled

In a large saucepan, add quinoa over high heat.  Toast the quinoa, stirring the pan frequently, until fragrant and starting to pop.  Carefully add water and salt, reduce heat to a simmer.  Cover the pot and let cook for about 20 minutes, or until all the water has been absorbed.

Meanwhile, in a measuring cup, whisk together the rice vinegar, olive oil, lemon juice, dill, mint, salt and pepper.

Once the quinoa is done, pour about half of the dressing over the quinoa and mix well (adding it to the hot quinoa will allow the quinoa to better absorb the flavors).  Allow the quinoa to cool partially, then add the remaining ingredients, and top off with the remaining dressing.  Mix well and serve room temperature or cold.