Santiago Bean Dip

This dip is fantastic.  If you’re having a get together for Labor Day, you should definitely make this.  Everyone will thank you.

My dear friend, Becky, made this a while back for a baked potato bar dinner party, and it was super scrumptious!  I’ve been dreaming about it ever since.  So since we were cooking for vegetarians and gluten-free eaters at the beach, I thought a baked potato bar with this dip would be the perfect thing.  It was a huge hit and the leftovers of this dip make an excellent snack with tortilla chips, or would be great mixed with scrambled eggs, or would be delicious eaten with a spoon!  …I think I need to make this again ASAP.

For convenience sake I left out the rice when I made it at the beach.  Next time I’ll add it in.  It’s not very noticeable, but acts as a great binder for all the delicious beans and cheese.

Santiago Bean DipSantiago Bean Dip (A Seat at the Table)

Serves 8-10

Adapted from The Kitchn

  • 2 (15oz) cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 (15oz) cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 (15oz) cans navy beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked rice (optional, but recommended)
  • 2 cups diced tomatoes (I used fresh, but 1 can of diced tomatoes would probably work too)
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  •  1/4 cup pickled jalapeño, diced (optional)
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 6 cups shredded cheese (I used a Mexican blend)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat oven to 400°F.  Grease a 9×13″ pan or deep casserole dish with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, mix beans, rice, tomatoes, onion, jalapeño, spices and 4 cups of cheese together.  Season generously with salt and pepper.  Spread mixture into prepared baking dish.  Cover with foil and back for 30 minutes, until bubbly.  Remove foil and add remaining cheese.  Bake for an additional 10-15 minutes, until cheese is melted.   Serve with baked potatoes, chips, eggs, crackers, or spoons!


Tomato-Goat Cheese Tart

I made this over the 4th of July, and loved the simplicity of it.  This super delicious, cheesy tart comes together quickly, takes advantage of the lovely summer tomatoes, and looks impressive enough for company.  As the saying goes, it’s easy as pie.  I think this would also work well as a galette…which might make it perfect for making at the beach, where pie pans are not always available, but the most delicious farm-stand tomatoes are.  Plain goat cheese gets some extra flavor from rosemary and lemon zest.  You want to be careful to squeeze out the seeds/juice from the tomatoes before layering them on the pie.  Too much liquid and the pie will be soggy.

Tomato-Goat Cheese TartTomato-Goat Cheese Tart (A Seat at the Table)

Serves 8

Adapted from The Endless Meal

  • 1 pie crust (I like Pillsbury)
  • 4-5 large tomatoes, cut off the top and squeeze out liquid then slice
  • 1 cup goat cheese
  • 2 tsp dried rosemary (or twice as much fresh, chopped)
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 lemon, zested

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line 9″ pie dish with pie crust and pierce the bottom with a fork.  Set aside.

In a bowl, beat together goat cheese, rosemary, salt and lemon zest.  Layer goat cheese mixture into the bottom of the prepared pie.

Cut the tops of the tomatoes off and carefully squeeze the juice/seeds out.  Slice tomatoes.  Layer tomatoes on top of the goat cheese layer, until pie is filled.  Sprinkle with a little kosher salt.

Bake for 40-45 minutes, until crust is golden and tomatoes are soft.  Remove from oven and let stand for at least 30 minutes before serving (I couldn’t wait that long, so my slices kind of fell apart, but they still tasted delicious!).

Pico de Gallo

Pico de gallo is a great light and fresh salsa.  It’s not very spicy, and has a fresh vibrant taste from the fresh tomatoes, lime juice and cilantro.  This is great for a light dip with chips,  would go great over grilled chicken, or is a wonderful topping for beans and rice.  However you serve it, it’s simple to make and is perfect for this time of year as the tomatoes are ripe and flavorful.

Pico de Gallo

Makes about 2 1/2 cups

  • 4 Roma or plum tomatoes
  • 1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped*
  • 1 bunch cilantro, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • salt, to taste

Cut tomatoes in half, lengthwise, and scoop out the seeds.  Finely chop the tomatoes and add to a bowl.  Add the remaining ingredients,  cover and let sit for about 30 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.

*If you don’t like raw onion, chop the onion first and let sit in cold water while you assemble the remaining ingredients.  Drain and add the the bowl when ready.  The water bath helps lessen the bite that onions can have.

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.

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.

Garden Bean Salad

I love me some beans.  They’re a great source of fiber and protein.  They’re delicious hot, cold or room temperature, they place nice with tons of different flavors, and they’re easy.  Despite my bean love, I’ve never quite liked three bean salad.  There’s a weird sweetness to it that tastes kind of stale to me.  So this is my update on a three bean salad, with lots of vegetables to up the freshness (and health benefits!).  You can use pretty much whatever you have on hand.  I’m usually not a fan of raw onion, so I used shallots which have a slightly milder taste, and I soaked the slices in cold water while preparing the rest of the salad to give them an even milder flavor.  In the end I thought they added a nice subtle spiciness, but weren’t too overwhelming.  You could also mince red onion, or just slice red onion depending on your love of onions.

Garden Bean SaladGarden Bean Salad (A Seat at the Table)

Serves 12-15

Adapted from Food Network Magazine, September 2010

  • 2 large shallots, thinly sliced
  • 2 (15oz) cans small white beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups frozen corn, thawed
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 sweet bell pepper, diced (orange would be nice for the color, but whatever you like)
  • 3 cups frozen green beans, thawed
  • 1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • pepper to taste
  • 1/3 cup minced fresh parsley

Soak shallots in cold water while preparing the rest of the salad.  In a large bowl, combine beans, corn, tomatoes, bell pepper, and green beans.  Mix in the drained shallots.

In a bowl, whisk together the vinegar, sugar, salt, oil and pepper.  Pour dressing over the salad, let marinate at room temperature for about an hour.  Garnish with parsley, taste and adjust seasoning as needed.

Amazing Bruschetta

This is AMAZING.  My new favorite summer dish.  I plan to eat this all summer long.  It’s fresh and easy and absolutely delicious!  Bruschetta is a fun, classy appetizer that’s perfect for your next get together.  I’ve always thought of bruschetta as something reserved for ordering at restaurants, but it’s actually very easy to make and keeps well for several days.  French bread is sliced and drizzled with olive oil and broiled for about 60-90 seconds.  You can’t get much faster than that.



Bruschetta (A Seat at the Table)

Serves 30

Adapted from The Pioneer Woman


  • 6 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 12 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 5 lbs grape tomatoes (red and yellow mix)
  • 4 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup chiffonade basil
  • salt to taste
  • 2-3 baguettes, thinly sliced

In a small skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Sauté garlic for a few minutes, keeping a close eye on it, until fragrant and just beginning to turn golden.

Quarter the tomatoes and toss in a large bowl with oil and garlic, balsamic, basil and salt (being careful not to oversalt).  Toss to combine.  Cover and refrigerate for about an hour (more or less as time permits).

Line baguette slices on a large baking sheet in a single layer, drizzle with olive oil.  Broil on high for about a minute or two.  Keep a careful eye on the bread and remove it from the oven once edges have begun to brown (or to desired toastedness).  Top with bruschetta and enjoy!

Savory Turkey Stuffed Peppers

Dinner last night was a bit of a cleaning out of the fridge.  We had some veggies that needed to be eaten, some ground turkey that needed to be used or frozen, and a bunch of bell peppers.  Naturally stuffed peppers came to mind.  Figuring out what to stuff in a pepper takes a little creativity.  I knew I wanted a whole grain involved, but I didn’t want to spend a lot of time cooking up barley or something.  I like having something kind of creamy/cheesy in my peppers.  I knew I had the protein covered with the ground turkey.  And I always like to have as many veggies as possible in any meal.  So those were my guidelines.  I did a little bit of recipe searching and found a basic recipe to follow for quantities/timing, and lo and behold, dinner was born.  This turned out really well!  I used goat cheese which melted into creamy decadence.  I used quinoa as the grain which adds a lovely nutty flavor and absorbs the creamy melted cheese and the juice from the tomatoes.  I like to cut the peppers in half before filling them so that your pepper is overflowing with filling, but if you prefer the look of a whole pepper being filled that works too.  All and all this turned out perfectly for a use-what-you’ve-got recipe.

Savory Turkey Stuffed Peppers

Serves 6-8

Adapted from Eat, Live, Run

  • 3/4 cup quinoa
  • 1 1/4 cup water
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, finely diced
  • 6 oz baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb. ground turkey breast
  • 1 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 (15oz) can diced tomatoes
  • 4 oz goat cheese (I had tomato and herb on hand)
  • 6 bell peppers, seeded and cut in half
  • 2 Tbsp julienned basil, for garnish (optional)

Preheat oven to 400°F.

In a small sauce pan, toast your quinoa over medium-high heat until it starts to pop and smells fragrant, stirring occasionally.  Add water and salt.  Bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to simmer for about 10 minutes, or until all the water has been absorbed.

Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Sauté onion, celery and mushrooms until tender.  Add garlic and cook for another minute.  Add turkey, breaking it up with your spatula as it cooks.

Mix in tomato paste and salt.  Stir in tomatoes and goat cheese.  By this time your quinoa should be done, so stir that in as well and remove skillet from heat.  In a nonstick pan, line up your pepper halves, scoop filling into each half.  Cover the pan tightly with foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove pan from oven, carefully take off the foil and garnish the peppers with fresh basil.  Serve and enjoy!


Tomato Cobbler

I didn’t used to like tomatoes, but growing up with the One Bite Rule I was instilled at an early age with a standard of trying things repeatedly.  And fortunately over the years I learned how wrong I was not to like tomatoes.  So when I saw this Tomato Cobbler I thought it would be a wonderful way to highlight delicious summer tomatoes.  This makes an awesome side dish, pair it with black bean burgers for a great vegetarian meal, or make some turkey meatloaf for a hearty omnivore meal.

Tomato Cobbler with Cheesy Buttermilk Biscuits

Serves 6

Adapted from Joy the Baker


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp rosemary (optional)
  • 3 Tbsp cold butter, cut into cubes
  • 3 Tbsp cold vegetable shortening, cut into cubes
  • 1/2 cup cheese, shredded (I recommend something sharp…sharp cheddar, blue, or gruyere)
  • 3/4 cup cold reduced fat buttermilk

In a food processor, combine dry ingredients and pulse to combine.  Add cold butter and shortening and pulse until crumbly then dump into a large bowl.  Add cheese and buttermilk and mix with a fork until just combined (dough will be shaggy).  Knead for about 10 minutes, shape into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap.  Refrigerate while making the filling.


  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 2 lbs cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped basil
  • 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper

In a large skillet, heat oil and butter over medium heat.  Add onions and season with salt and pepper.  Sauté until onions caramelize, about 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and add balsamic vinegar.  In a large bowl, toss tomatoes, basil, flour, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.  Add onions and toss.

Preheat oven to 375°F.  Grease an 8″x8″ baking dish and pour in the tomato onion mixture.  Bake for about 25-30 minutes.  While the tomatoes bake, roll out the dough to 3/4″ thickness.  Using a 2″ biscuit cutter, cut out biscuits, reshape as necessary to get about 12 biscuits.  Once the tomatoes have cooked for about 30 minutes, carefully top with biscuits (6-8 should fit on top, freeze the rest or bake on a separate baking sheet).  Lightly brush the tops of the biscuits with buttermilk.  Return pan to the oven and bake for 17-20 minutes.  Until biscuits are golden and tomatoes are bubbling.  Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Greek Salad

End of summer is the perfect time to make Greek Salad. The ingredients are fresh and flavorful. This time I added some chickpeas to add a little more protein and substance to my meal, but it’s just as good without. To make this super fast, we use Italian dressing (I know it’s not at all Greek…think of it as world travel for your tastebuds!). Greek salad (in our house) is characterized by its lack of lettuce (perfect for when you’ve just run out), kalamata olives, and feta cheese, the rest of the vegetables can rotate, but those are the key parts.

Greek Salad

Serves 6

  • 1 cucumber, chopped
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 (15oz) can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 2 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 oz feta, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup kalamata olives, chopped
  • Italian dressing to taste

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Can be made ahead or served immediately.