Pineapple Black Bean Enchiladas

For the dinner for first years I mentioned earlier, I made honey lime chicken enchiladas, squash enchiladas, and these pineapple black bean enchiladas.  The recipe was a winner in the Pillsbury Bake-Off several years ago and it was especially fun to make it for some students because I made for some students in my first job outside of grad school 11 years ago.  It’s been so great to watch those students succeed and take on new challenges — as I was cooking, I kept thinking about those students and where they are now.

The folks who were at dinner this week had a similar reaction to most people I’ve served them to in the past: “I didn’t expect this to be good, but it is…”  This is another vegetarian recipe, which I also appreciate as a way to cook these easily and have most folks be able to eat them without issue — enhanced if you use corn tortillas, although I’m unsure how to swap out the cheese for something that isn’t using dairy to help bind things together.


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Harvest Grain Salad

It’s no secret that I love a Trader Joe’s.  One of the go-to ingredients I have there is their Harvest Grain blend.  I thought I’d share my favorite (and easy) way to put it together to make a quick grain salad.

Harvest Blend Salad

Couscous Salad

1 package Harvest Grain Blend
1 can black beans
3 ½ c chicken stock
1 c corn
1 jar Roasted Garlic Salsa

Cook Harvest Grain Blend with chicken stock per package directions. Add black beans, corn, and salsa. Serve warm or cold.

Black Bean, Sweet Potato and Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

stuffed peppersI’ve been cooking a lot of vegetarian meals lately, as some of the students with whom I work are really passionate about food issues.  A couple of the students with whom I work are thoughtful about ethically raised and locally grown animals.  While I try to focus my meat purchases on that as well, I’m not beyond looking for a good deal – something I am hoping to continue to work on as I move into the next academic year.

One such student came over for dinner over a month ago as a thank you for watching my house while I was out of town earlier this year.  Because I’ve been focused on writing my comprehensive exams (woohoo—I’ve turned them in!), I haven’t been writing on the blog when it’s been the height of new recipes and fresh vegetables.  As a result, I’m playing catch up at the moment.

When this student came over, I made a vegetarian-friendly meal.  I’ve done a similar stuffed pepper in the past, like the Lentil Stuffed Pepper I made a couple of summers ago.  Knowing I wanted to do some cooking that involved a stuffed pepper, I went looking.  On the Ambitious Kitchen web site, I found a recipe for Black Bean, Sweet Potato, and Quinoa Stuffed Bell Peppers that I used as my inspiration for cooking.  Then, I looked to see what was in my CSA for the week and went for it.


Stuffed Peppers Before BakingBlack Bean, Sweet Potato and Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

1 tsp olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

½ large onion (we had fresh white onions, so I used one of those)

½ jalapeno, seeded and diced

¾ c uncooked quinoa

2 c vegetable broth

15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 medium sweet potato, peeled and finely diced

2 Roma tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped (I used one large garden tomato)

1 Tbsp chili powder

½ tsp cumin

½ tsp dried oregano (I used 1 tsp fresh oregano)

½ c chopped cilantro

1 tsp red pepper flakes, if desired

1/8 tsp pepper

1/8 tsp salt

3 large bell peppers, seeds removed and cut vertically

¾ c shredded Colby jack cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a sauté pan over medium high, heat olive oil.  Add onions, jalapeno, and garlic and sauté until the unions begin to soften and turn translucent, about 4-5 minutes.  Place into a large bowl and set aside.

To cook quinoa: Rinse quinoa with cold water in mesh strainer.  In a medium saucepan, bring 1 ½ c of vegetable broth to a boil.  Add in quinoa and bring mixture to a boil again.  Cover, reduce heat to low and let simmer for 15 minutes or until quinoa has absorbed all of the water.  Remove from heat and fluff quinoa with fork; place in large bowl.

While quinoa is cooking, place a medium pot over high heat and fill with water, bring water to a boil and add in diced sweet potato.  Reduce heat to medium, cover, and continue cooking for about 6 minute or until sweet potatoes are fork tender.  This might take more or less time depending on how small you cut your sweet potatoes.  Once tender, drain water from sweet potatoes and place into bowl with quinoa and onion mixture.  Gently stir in black beans, tomatoes, remaining ½ c of vegetable broth, and spices.

Arrange bell peppers in a large skillet or baking pan and stuff with heaping ½ c of quinoa mixture.  Cover with foil and bake for 20-30 minutes until peppers are tender.  Uncover and sprinkle each with 2 Tbsp cheese.  Place in oven for 5 minutes longer or until cheese melts.  Remove and serve immediately with toppings such as sour cream, your favorite hot sauce or guacamole.

Black Bean Taco Salad with Lime Vinaigrette

Nancy came over for dinner again on Friday night and we had some great discussions…we talked supper clubs, fashion, language, and a variety of other topics.  We ate salad, and then went up to the Lincoln Wine Bar for a little music and with the intention of eating gelato — which we eventually did, topped with a shot of espresso, which did this great caramelizing and added almost a taste of chocolate to the vanilla gelato we were eating.  There was a great musician playing — Robert “One Man” Johnson.  If you enjoy blues at all, I would encourage at least checking his music out.  He is really talented and sang beautifully.  He had a ton of fun with the audience as well!

As for the salad we made, it was nice as it made 4 servings, so just enough for us to eat on Friday and me to have leftovers on Saturday, in the midst of writing.  A pretty simple Black Bean Taco Salad I’ve had in my recipe box for about 8 years, I’m not sure where it originated, but it’s been a favorite of mine.  I don’t think I’d made it for a couple of years, so it was nice to be able to make it for some folks who I knew would enjoy it.  Minda and I both worked on chopping different pieces of it and prepping so that when Nancy arrived, we were ready to eat!

black bean taco salad


Black Bean Taco Salad with Lime Vinaigrette


  • ¼ c chopped tomato
  • ¼ c chopped cilantro
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp lime rind
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled

Combine vinaigrette ingredients in a blender or food processor; process until smooth.



  • 8 c chopped lettuce
  • 2 c chopped chicken breast
  • 1 c chopped tomato
  • 1 c chopped green pepper
  • 1 c diced red onion
  • ½ c shredded cheddar
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed

Combine salad ingredients and toss with vinaigrette.  Serve.

Avocado, Black Bean, and Corn Salad

For Christine’s birthday a couple weeks ago, we spent time at the farmer’s market and went out to the lake, and it was great.  I’ve already shared that.  One of the things I have yet to share is that Christine’s friends are all extraordinary cooks, but even more so, Christine is a gourmet cook herself.  On Saturday morning she insisted on cooking in a variety of ways, but one which I am less comfortable with, but hope to emulate her at doing – making food without a recipe.  Perhaps because of my efforts at baking, I am often less inclined to use anything other than a recipe because precise measurements are required.  But, here we went, making up recipes as we went.  And, I knew what I was doing (for the most part).  I remembered what needed to be added, and went by taste for different flavor profiles.

While I was working on a cucumber salad and nursing some injuries, Christine was mixing up a delightful Avocado, Corn, and Black Bean Salad.  I have forgotten how avocado is a great binding ingredient, in ways that historically mayonnaise or other ingredients would be.  I think I tried to catch most of the things she put in the salad, and so here’s what I could see from her work:

Avocado, Corn and Black Bean Salad

2 avocados

2 tomatoes

1 onion

1 can corn

1 can black beans


Lime juice

Chop all and mix together delicately, so as to not mash the avocado.  Add salt to taste.

Mango Black Bean Salsa

I’m getting anxious for summer (and with it, all of the fresh vegetables) to arrive!  In my mind and repertoire, there are several recipes which scream summer to me.  I have used them for years as my go-to delicious recipes for potlucks, to eat alongside a sandwich, or starting to think about those kick-off barbecues to start summer!  Relatively healthy, especially with baked or homemade tortilla chips, this Cooking Light recipe is nice, cool, and refreshing.

mango black bean salsa

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Hungry Girl Egg Bake

Have you been watching Hungry Girl on the Food Network?  I’ve been a fan of hers for a few years and while I don’t love every recipe I eat of hers, there are several which turn out really well.  A few weeks ago we made her El Ginormo Southwestern Egg Bake.  In my general opinion, black beans should be added to just about anything.  So, when there was a fancy–and easy–egg bake with black beans already in the recipe, it was without a doubt worth trying.  Besides making enough to serve a larger crowd, I didn’t do much to alter this recipe.  Check it out sometime in the near future!

El Ginormo Southwest Oven-Baked Omelette
2 1/2 cups fat-free liquid egg substitute (like Egg Beaters Original)
1/2 cup fat-free milk
1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. taco seasoning mix
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tsp. chopped garlic
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/2 cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup canned sweet corn, drained
1/4 cup canned diced green chiles
1/2 cup shredded reduced-fat Mexican-blend cheese
Optional toppings: salsa, fat-free sour cream, chopped scallions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Line a deep 8″ X 10″ baking pan with aluminum foil. Spray lightly with nonstick spray, making sure to coat the sides as well as the bottom.
In a large bowl, combine egg substitute, milk, cumin, and taco seasoning. Whisk thoroughly.
Add onion, garlic, and bell pepper, and stir well. Carefully transfer egg mixture to the baking pan.
Evenly add black beans, corn, and green chiles to the pan. Sprinkle with cheese.
Bake in the oven until the top has puffed and the center is firm, about 1 hour.
Allow to cool slightly. Cut into four slices. If you like, finish off with the optional toppings!