Tag Archives: vegetarian

Red Beans and Ricely Yours…

Trivia question of the day:  Who used to sign cards and letters with the above statement in order to show his love for red beans and rice?  Answer appears at the bottom of this post!

So, hi there!  It’s been a while.  Hectic week or so yet again, but hopefully I can make up for it.  Today is Fat Tuesday after all.  Happy Mardi Gras to all Cajuns, Creoles, and wannabes (like me) out there! 

Today, I was in the mood to make something spicy and of course, in honor of the holiday.  One of my grandads is from Louisiana, and I’ve grown up loving Cajun and Creole food of all sorts.  Shrimp étouffé, gumbo, jambalaya, okra in general…I love it all.  Tony Chachere’s is a staple in my pantry, and I continuously turn friends onto it that have never heard of this seasoning blend sent from the gods.  If you don’t know Tony….you need to meet him at your local grocery store ASAP.  He will change your life. 


After mentally debating about what to make for dinner tonight, I settled on red beans and rice.    It’s a classic Creole dish that’s hearty, healthy, and wholesome.  It has delicious spice to it, but more so in the flavor than heat.

I made mine a little healthier than normal since I didn’t use a ham hock, but that’s just me.  If you have an extra hock around the house, by all means, put it to good use!  My version may not be the most traditional, and yes I took a shortcut with canned beans, but I think it will satisfy any craving you have for good N’awlins-style food today!

Red Beans and Rice
Serves 2 to 3 as an entrée

1 Tbsp. canola or vegetable oil
½ Tbsp. butter or margarine
½ cup finely chopped yellow onion
½ cup finely chopped green pepper (typically bell, but you can use jalapeno for a little more heat and smokiness)
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely minced
½ tsp. dried oregano
¼ tsp. ground thyme
¼ tsp. ground red pepper
½ tsp. Tony Chachere’s Creole Seasoning Blend
1- 14.5oz can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
½ cup water or low-sodium chicken broth
dash of hot sauce (such as Tabasco)
1 cup rice
2 cups water

In a large pan, heat oil and butter or margarine over medium-low to medium heat.  Add in the holy trinity (onion, pepper, celery), stir to coat in oil, and cook for 2 minutes. 

Add in garlic and all seasonings, and cook for another minute.  Add beans to pan, and lightly smash some down using the back of a spoon.  Pour in the water or broth, and bring pan to a simmer over medium-low heat.  Let cook for 10 to 15 minutes.  When bean mixture is thickened, taste and add hot sauce.

Serve over rice prepared according to package.



And in case you’re feeling a tad….thirsty…..here’s a drink recipe to help you feel a little closer to the French Quarter.  I made these once in college with a roommate.  A hurricane was headed straight towards our school, which cracked me up because I’m from Florida, and I couldn’t even escape from the storms while living in western Virginia.  There was no better way to celebrate a potential hurricane-day off from school than by making a special trip to the liquor store and concocting these on a Tuesday night.  I miss college.

New Orleans Hurricane
Makes 1 drink

2 oz. dark rum
1 oz. white rum
3 oz. passionfruit juice (use orange if you can’t find passionfruit)
3 oz. pineapple juice
splash of grenadine
citrus slice for garnish

Add rums and juices to a mixer filled with ice and shake or stir well to combine.  Pour over ice and add a splash of grenadine for color.  Serve with an orange or lime slice.

These are the actual drinks we made that night...still have the picture!


Trivia answer:  If you said Louis Armstrong, famous New Orleanian jazz trumpeter and singer, you were right!  Give yourself a pat on the back and laissez les bon temps rouler!

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Slow Down with Sweet Potato Chili

If you read yesterday’s post, you learned that I was the recipient of some bad luck in that ice cream exploded all over me twice before 8am.  How this came to happen makes me laugh because I think I only have myself to blame.  

I am a very curious person.  I tend to notice things that other people don’t, and then wonder why things are the way they are.  So, when I saw a milky substance leaking over the floor of the employee break room yesterday morning at work, my first thought was, “What is milk doing on the ground and how did it get here?  I’ll open up the cooler.” 

Turns out it wasn’t milk — it was ice cream.  That one of my employees left in the refrigerator overnight because it was too big to fit in the freezer.  **Shakes head** 

Well, you think I would learn.  Sadly, I did not.  Because 20 minutes later when I noticed a milky substance pooling underneath the ice cream machine in the dining room again my immediate thought was, “Why is this milk here?  I should open the ice cream machine and see what’s wrong.” 

Side note….but do you remember Gusher fruit candies and how the juice squirts out as soon as you bite into a piece?  Imagine that, but with ice cream rather than fruit juice; that’s exactly what happened when I opened the machine’s door.  Melted ice cream splattered everywhere and left a huge mess over me and the floor.  I just started laughing, went back into the kitchen and poured myself a third cup of coffee because I knew it would be “one of those days.” 

Read on…

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Filed under It's Fun Being a Manager, Recipes, Uncategorized, Work

Festive First Week of February

Today, I realized that this first week of February is completely full of holidays!  And I love it. 

First it was Groundhog Day.  Then it was Chinese New Year.  Next on Sunday is will be the Super Bowl.

Sure, it’s not technically a holiday.  There are no days off for work (I’ll actually be working part of the day), and no large travel hang-ups across the country caused by too many travellers.  But, I know many many people do consider it an annual holiday, and with good reason.  Super Bowl gamedays are usually filled with friends, food, and festivities.  Plus, the mail is never delivered on the day of the game, so technically it’s just as legit as the real holidays each year.

My plans for Sunday are still a bit up in the air, but for those of you hosting a party or heading to a potluck, here are a couple new recipes that are great for a crowd.  One is perfect for the meat-eaters, the other is vegetarian (but carnivores also love it).  Both are extremely easy to make, which ensures that most of your time will be spent watching funny commercials rather than watching the stove. 

Mama B.’s Meatballs
Makes a whole lotta meatballs

3 – 5 LB. bags of frozen beef cocktail meatballs (Walmart and Sam’s Club usually have them)
1 – 32 oz. jar of grape jelly
1 – 32 oz. jar Heinz chili sauce
Toothpicks to serve

1. Empty meatballs into a large crockpot.
2.  Pour jelly and chili sauce on top, stir to combine, and set crockpot to low for 4 hours. 
3.  Stir very occassionally.  Make sure the meatballs are completely heated through when done.


Curried Chickpea Salad


Curried Chickpea Salad — a dish from my birthday pizza party!
Serves 10 to 12 as a side dish

2 to 3 Tbsp. curry powder (use more for a stronger curry taste)
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
4 – 14 oz. cans garbanzo beans
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 – 15oz. can diced tomatoes, no salt addded variety, half-drained

1. In a clean and dry sauce pan, heat the spices (curry through cayenne pepper) over medium heat for 1 to 2 minutes.  This intensifies the flavor!
2.  In a small bowl, pour spices into olive oil and whisk to combine.
3.  In a large bowl, combine garbanzo beans, bell pepper, and can of half-drained tomatoes.
4.  Add olive oil mixture to the beans, and well until everything is combined.
5.  Salt to taste. 


Here’s another thing to celebrate:  Joie de Meg was featured on FoodPress.com today with my recipe for Fried Egg and Tomato!  Very cool.  Thanks, FoodPress!

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Gone to Italia in My Mind

One thing I love about food is that it can transport you to far away locations and distant memories in just seconds either through sight, taste, or aroma.  Not many other things in life can do that so quickly and effectively in my experience.

I’ve been craving comfort food lately (thanks to frigid temperatures that haven’t gone away since Monday’s ice storm), and pasta is my go-to food when I feel this way.  Whenever I make pasta, my mind always drifts back to one of my favorite vacations of all time:  Italy in the summer of 2006.  My sister graduated from college and wanted to tour around Northern Italy as a way to celebrate.  It was an unforgettable family trip filled with delicious food and wine, and I still dream of owning a villa in Siena one day. 


Ever since that vacation, I claim that I would make a fabulous Italian.  I love Italian food.  I love Italian wine.  I love preparing food to be shared.  I am completely comfortable spending 2 hours in a restaurant eating with friends and family.  I would much rather walk everywhere than drive.  And Italians (at least in the Northern part) take off the month of August to travel to the beach for vacation.  Italians know how to live, friends. 

Can I get away with calling myself Italian?  Hardly.  Blonde hair and pale skin with freckles didn’t really scream “local” when roaming the streets of Tuscany.  Nonetheless, I think I’ve got the soul for the culture. 

 As a tribute to Italia, I thought of this dinner earlier in the week and made it for a couple friends.  It was a huge hit!   Not only is it warm and comforting,  but it also has the colors of the country’s flag.  Buon appetito!

White Bean and Kale Penne
Serves 4 to 6

12 to 15 leaves of kale

10 oz. whole wheat penne (a little more than 1/2 of a 16oz. box)

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 cup yellow onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, diced

1 Tbsp. crushed red pepper flakes

2 Tbsp. capers

1 Tbsp. caper juice

1/2 cup dry white wine (such as Sauvignon Blanc)

1 15oz. can of diced tomatoes (no-salt added variety), drained

1 15oz. can great northern beans, drained and rinse

1/2 of  15oz. can cannelini beans, drained and rinsed

Freshly grated Parmagiano-Reggiano cheese (optional)


1. Rinse kale and remove tough stems from leaves.  Pile 3 to 4 leaves on top of each other at a time, roll them together into a log, and slice into 1/2″ strips (this is called chiffonade).  Place shreds into a bowl and save for later.

2. In a pot, boil water and cook pasta according to package directions.

3. While pasta cooks, heat oil over medium in a large pan. Cook onions for 5 minutes until translucent.  Add garlic, red pepper flakes, capers, and caper juice.  Cook for another minute stirring constantly.

4. Add drained tomatoes, beans, and wine to mixture.  Allow wine to boil, and cook for another 4 to 5 minutes.

5. Smash some of the beans to thicken the sauce.  Add a little water if you wish (about 1/2 a cup).

6.  When pasta is done cooking, toss the kale into the hot water. It will cook quickly, and as soon as the color turns a vibrant, bright green, it’s done.

7.  Drain pasta and kale, and return to the pot.  Add sauce, and stir to coat.   

8.  Grate cheese on top of pasta before serving, and enjoy!

**Note — the capers and parmesan add plenty of salt to the dish, so you probably will not have to add any more to the sauce.  Taste first before you do!


Now I just need to find some gelato!

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