Tag Archives: Black Beans

{ Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette }

Cilantro Dressing on Fajita Salad

I love Southwestern-style salads, but I hate the calories that come with Chipotle Ranch salad dressing. So I set out to make a healthier alternative with fewer calories. The result?

This flavorful cilantro-lime vinaigrette made with greek yogurt. The yogurt gives the dressing a smooth creamy texture without the fat, while also sneaking in some additional protein.

I use this dressing as a veggie dip, as a sauce for chicken and beef empanadas, and of course, for salads (my favorite is over spinach in combination with with my black bean corn salad recipe).

{ Ingredients }

  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup 0% plain yogurt (I like Fage or Chobani)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp sea salt

Cilantro Lime Ingredients

{ To Make the Dressing }

  1. Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender and puree until smooth.

In food processord

  1. Continue to add olive oil 1 tbsp at a time as necessary to create a smooth finish.
Finished Dressing

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{ 7 Layer Mexican Dip }

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I am notorious for double-dipping.

I like a high dip-to-chip ratio that can only be achieved with multiple dips, and so I double dip shamelessly for my own snacking pleasure. I just can’t help myself.

However, as you can imagine, my off-putting habit has caused a great deal of tension on several dates and social gatherings, and so I have decided to solve the problem once and for all by making individualized 7 layer Mexican dip cups.  This way I can go in for any number of dips without being ostracized. It’s a win-win for all persons involved.

I first made these appetizers for my Cinco de Mayo party last spring, but I have continued to make them on a regular basis since then. I find that they are a great item to have in the fridge for a quick meal (very high in protein with the beans and avocado) and they help enforce portion control when snacking late at night! They are also more visually appealing to serve at parties than your average 7 layer dip, which starts to look like shit after a few short minutes (especially if I’m there double dipping!!).

Its a fun, new spin on an old classic recipe but I highly recommend using my flavorful recipe for the black bean puree!

{ Ingredients }

  • 2 cans refried black beans (I love the Trader Joes’ brand)
  • 1 Tbsp minced jalapeños
  • 1 Tbsp Taco seasoning (I used Old El Paso)
  • Dash of cumin, to taste
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • Sour cream
  • Salsa (I use Herdez or Spikes’)
  • Cubed avocado or guacamole
  • Monterey Jack cheese
  • Shredded lettuce
  • Black olives, sliced
  • Scallions, sliced for garnish

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{ Directions }

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the refried beans, minced jalapeño, salt, taco seasoning, and cumin. Blend until well combined, adding a few drops of water if necessary to thin out the mixture. You don’t want the mixture to be runny, but you want it soft enough to transfer onto the chip.

Spread the bean mixture in the bottom of the cup, about 1″ thick.

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Top the beans with a 1/4″ layer of sour cream, followed by a 1/2″ layer of salsa.

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Add the chopped avocado pieces, or a layer of guacamole and then sprinkle the shredded lettuce and cheese. Garnish with the black olives and some freshly chopped scallions, and watch them get gobbled up by your guests with out any double-dipping anxieties.

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{ Best Lunch Spots in Buck’s County }

Finding good food on-the-go is tough when you don’t live in a city studded with Pret a Manager, Chipotle, and five-star food trucks. In Buck’s County, the options are pretty limited to full-service, sit-down restaurants or drive-thru, fast-food establishments. If you don’t brown paper bag it to work, you’re looking at either an overpriced gourmet salad, a 40-minute sushi luncheon, or a greasy quarter-pounder in the McDonald’s parking lot. But thankfully, local restaurant owners are finally starting to fill this market gap by opening quick-service lunch spots with high-quality food.

Here is a list of my favorite lunch spots in Buck’s County:

1. { Sariano’s Country Cafe }

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Located right in the heart of Lahaska, is this adorable French cafe with homemade croissants, fresh soups, and delicious Croque Monsieur sandwiches. You can eat al fresco at any of the outdoor cafe tables, or take your order to-go (just be warned that there is only one indoor table, so might not be the best option for a cold/rainy day!). The menu is posted on a black board behind the counter, and although isn’t terribly long, neither is the wait for your food!

I highly recommend the Grilled Vegetable & Mozzarella Sandwich, which is served warm on a Fresh Butter Croissant ($7.00). The vegetables are chopped up nice and small, and the croissant provides delicious and sturdy base for the sandwich, keeping it together as you eat.

Of course, this being a French cafe, I also recommend the Croque Monsieur sandwiches, which are served on homemade French bread. They have the classic Ham & Cheese ($5.50), but I suggest trying the Goat Cheese & Proscuitto ($6.50) combination, which isn’t something you see every day! Keep in mind that these sandwiches are served hot, so the cheese is warm and bubbly when they come out of the oven. Delicious.

And lastly, I really enjoy Sariano’s Shrimp & Corn Chowder Soup ($7.00), which is creamy and slightly spicy but not too heavy. The soup prices seems a little high, when compared those of the sandwiches, but the portions are really generous and it comes accompanied with your choice of crackers or homemade French bread.

If you’re really in a hurry, Sariano’s also offers an assortment of pre-made meals that you can choose from.

2. { Jule’s Thin Crust }

Photo taken from TheMainLineVine

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With new locations popping up all over Buck’s County, it is clear that Jule’s Thin Crust has found a recipe for success. This gourmet pizza shop, which relies heavily on locally and organically grown produce, offer 22+ varieties of pizza, innovative salads, and gluten-free, as well as whole-wheat, products. If you stop by for just a few slices, you can choose from anything available on the line and get back to work within 10 minutes. And if you’d rather place a full pie or custom order, you’re looking at a total wait time of about 15 minutes, but you’re more than welcome to bring a bottle of wine to help pass the time while you wait! Just keep in mind that you’re still at a pizza place, so to all my wine-snobs: NO, there will not be glassware!

I suggest trying the new Buffalo Chicken Pizza with hormone free chicken, chopped celery, blue cheese, mozzarella, arugala, and buffalo sauce ($2.90 per slice). Or the Kim’s Pie with hormone free chicken, portobello mushrooms, caramelized onions, balsamic BBQ glaze, mozzarella, and chives ($2.90 per slice).

Another classic, loved by all, is the Brushetta Pizza with Chopped Organic Tomatoes, Fresh Cubed Mozzarella, Garlic, Oregano, and Arugala, with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil! It will revolutionize your idea of pizza.

3. { Marhaba }

Photo Taken from The New York Times

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Tucked away on a side street in Lambertville, is one of the best Middle Eastern Restaurants that I have ever been to! The interior is cozy, the prices are reasonable, and the food is authentic and a-m-a-z-i-n-g. The Gyro Sandwich, which is slow roasted lamb, topped with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, and tahini drizzle on a warm homemade pita ($5.95) is a deal that can’t be beat and so it has become a regular weekly lunch for me and my mother.

Photo Taken from Jersey Foodies

I also recommend the Babaganough, which is a grilled eggplant spread mixed with tahini, garlic, and fresh lemon juice ($5.95) served alongside warm homemade pita bread. The spread has a zesty flavor and a creamy texture, that is beautiful when paired with the zatter spices on the pita bread.

Photo Taken from ThePalatePrincess

4. { Genivieves Panini & Salads To-Go }

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I found this place on Groupon a couple of weeks ago, and I have been hooked ever since! Located in the center of Doylestown, Genivieves serves up seasonally inspired food made with locally produced ingredients. The sandwiches are crafted like a work of art and the flavor combinations are a food-enthusiasts dream. My personal favorites are: the Vegetale with grilled asparagus, plum tomato, gooey taleggio cheese, and fresh pesto on multigrain bread ($7.50);  and the Tuscany with grilled chicken breast, sautéed broccoli rabe, and sharp provolone on rustic ciabatta bread ($7.50). 

In addition to their fabulous warm panini’s, Genivieves also offers gourmet salads, homemade soups, and assorted baked goods. And if you find yourself addicted, as I have, then you can also order their food for catered dinners with 24 hours advance notice. Unfortunately, Genivieves is take-out only, so you cannot dine-in.

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{ Cilantro Lime Fiesta Rice }

When I was younger, my sister and I would play the “soup” game, combining all sorts of random food items into one container and daring the other to eat the concoction. Too young to understand flavor combinations, these “soups” were usually volatile (although we learned that two delicious things consumed together don’t always equal one magical new thing….just like two beautiful people don’t always make a pretty baby). I haven’t given up on my childish games though, and today–at the age of 22– I revisited the game of “soup.”

The result? This cilantro lime fiesta rice.

It has all of my favorite ingredients, and now 22 years of flavor expertise. It is perfect for a Mexican side dish (fajitas perhaps), a burrito rice filling, and of course, a base for Ropa Vieja. Buen provecho!

{ Ingredients }

  • 3 cups of cooked white rice
  • 1 vine tomato, small dice
  • 1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 jalapeño, small dice
  • 1 can of corn, drained
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 3 tablespoon fresh scallions, chopped
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Kosher salt to taste

{ To Make the Rice } Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir to mix well. If the rice is dry add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and some additional lime juice.

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Mexican Black Bean Salad *****

Mexican Black Bean Salad with Corn

The omelet tied me over pretty well for breakfast, but around 2:30, I was ready for some lunch. Normally, I would head over to Gardner’s Market for a chicken sandwich with goat cheese on ciabatta, but no 700-calorie sandwich for me today! Instead, I went on a 4 mile run and then headed to the fresh market to pick up some groceries. For those of you living in the Miami area, you must check out The Market (I believe it is a chain, but I don’t know how many states they are located in)! They have the best produce and meat selection, and it is usually cheaper than Whole Foods. I picked up a skirt steak marinated in chimichurri, and some vegetables to make a black bean salad. I make this salad all the time, and serve it with chicken, steak, and burgers. I also fold it into omelets and serve it on top of nachos or mixed greens for a Mexican salad. Best of all, it holds in the refrigerator for several days so you can make it on a Monday and use it all week. Avocado tastes great in the salad, just don’t mix it in all at once because they turn brown and make the salad go bad. I cut up and incorporate fresh avocado with each serving to stretch the shelf life.

It is really important that you drain and rinse the black beans well, because the sauce is super starchy. Also, I like to use canned corn without added salt because you can always add more kosher salt to the dish, but you can’t take away!

Also, a good trick to juicing lemons and limes is to roll them first, before cutting them. This makes the fruit much easier to squeeze and you’ll get all the juice.

Note: I had to modify this recipe slightly since I can’t eat honey on my diet, so instead of the dressing listed below, I used the modified version with the asterisk. If you are not on the diet, use the regular dressing because it is soooooo good!

{ Ingredients }

  • 2 cans of black beans, drained
  • 1 (15 ounce) can corn, drained
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ¼ cup diced red bell peppers
  • ¼ cup diced red onion
  • ¼ cup diced green onions
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
  • 4 tablespoons sherry vinegar
  • Juice of ¾ lime
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • Pinch of ground cumin

{ To Make DressingWhisk together vinegar, lime juice, honey, salt, pepper, and cumin. Combine the dressing with vegetables.

{ Ingredients Modified Dressing }

  • 1 small clove garlic, minced and mashed
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • Juice 1 ½ limes (about 3 tablespoons)
  • ¼ teaspoon chili powder
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Pinch of ground cumin

(Whisk together all ingredients for dressing and then combine with vegetables)

Nutritional Information

The total number of calories in this entire salad are 1,311. The nutrition count is as follows: 18% comes from protein, 4.8% comes from fat, and 77% comes from carbohydrates. If you make this into 6 individual servings, that’s an average of 218 calories per serving.

Cost of Ingredients

The total cost of making this salad is $13.21, based on the assumption that you have a few basic ingredients in your pantry such as vinegar, salt, pepper, garlic, olive oil, and seasonings. With the skirt steak, this meal totaled $17.21, but remember that the black bean salad will last several meals. If you get 6 servings out of the salad, that’s an average cost of just $2.20 per serving. Compare that to the price of eating out…not too bad!

Skirt Steak Marinated in Chimichurri with Sauteed Mushrooms and Onions and served with Mexican Black Bean Salad

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Casa Larios ****

Ropa Vieja served with Black Beans and Rice

305.662.5656
5859 SW 73rd Street
South Miami, Fl 33143

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Today was the big day—my wisdom teeth have been removed and I have embarked on my depressing all-liquid diet, which equates to a permanent state of “fee-fi-fo-fum.” But even doped up on Percocet, with swollen cheeks that resemble a chipmunk going into hibernation, I still managed to get my butt to the grocery store today. I’m a hardcore foodie. My dinner, consisting of plain vanilla yogurt (no granola, no fresh fruit, no nothing), has left me shockingly unsatisfied and so I’m hoping that blogging about delicious foods might help satiate my hunger!
So let’s talk Cuban food! One of my favorite Cuban restaurants in Miami is called Casa Larios, which is located near Sunset Plaza. I’m usually the only English-speaking Gringa in the place, so its definitely authentic (and slightly intimidating, for me!). Look around the large indoor/outdoor restaurant and you will find tables of both older men and businessmen sitting around and smoking cigars over Corditos. As well as impeccably dressed women (most in pearls and sky high heels) sipping on white wine and gossiping with friends (it seems that no one in Miami works). You will also always undoubtedly find a group of Cuban policemen congregating around the door, drinking coffee and eatingcroquettas. It’s a fun scene for people watching, but the food is also outrageous…in a good way!
I love to start my meal with a basket of Mariquitas and Mojo dipping sauce. For those of you who don’t know, Mariquitas are fried plantain chips and mojo is a delicious blend of garlic, lemon, and vinegar (warning: be careful when consuming on date!). The combination of the sweet plantains with the contrasting acidic garlic sauce is perfection. And although it is not a low-cal appetizer, it’s a totally pleasurable way to consume your calories. Ohhh, and I almost for about the bread that is brought to the table, which is absolutely A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. It is warm, and light, and fluffy on the inside, yet flakey and golden on the outside. Put it this way, there are only two restaurants in Miami where I have been wowed by the bread, and those restaurants are: (1) Le Bouchon in the Grove, and (2) Casa Larios. The bread is really the highlight of the meal for me, and it is brought out in abundance with room-temperature butter packets that practically spread themselves on the heavenly dough. As author Elizabeth Gilbert might say, you need to go to Casa Larios with a “no carb left behind” kind of mentality–this is not the place to be tallying your Weight Watcher’s points!
For my entree, I usually order either the Pechuga La Plancha (simple chicken breast) or theRopa Vieja(shredded beef in a light tomato sauce), which is a special on Mondays. The Ropa Vieja is so incredible in my opinion, because I had never tried anything like it before coming to Miami. The meat is stewed with onions and other herbs in a flavorful tomato-based wine sauce, and then it is shredded to serve. The result is a very tender meat and pleasing rich dish. I put the meat over a mound of white rice and mix in some velvety black beans with a dash of Tabasco….Ooooo, it is so good! And Cubans make the best white rice…the grain is larger than Jasmine rice, which makes it pillowy and then they add butter (which makes everything better) and salt so that the rice has flavor when tasted on its own. It is something that I cannot replicate on my own at home, so I look forward to it every time that I go. The Pechuga La Plancha is a very simple pan seared chicken breast, but they cook it with butter (like everything else at this place) so it tastes like delicious comfort food. I always wondered why my chicken never tasted as good at home, but then I realized that butter was the secret ingredient and I’m too health conscious to prepare mine that way on my own. I always order my chicken with a side of black beans and rice, and usually Maduros too (fried plantains). It is a simple but classic Cuban meal that I have come to love and crave on a weekly basis.
The only thing that I did not like at Casa Larios were the Papas Rellenas , which are stuffed and then fried potatoes. When I ordered them they were brought out below room temperature, which reminded me of like the frozen Costco party appetizers…ewe. I’m pretty sure that they aren’t made to order and it was a bad experience that put me off to them completely. Everything else that I have tried has been great though. Go to Casa Larios…just don’t try to order a Cuabn coffee to blend in if you’re not used to drinking them! Benn there, done that, and I’m pretty sure that it was unleaded. I can actually compare my first Cuban coffee to my first shot of Limoncello…both made hair grow on my chest.

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