recipe: black bean quinoa salad

By far, this is the most often-requested of my recipes. That’s probably because this is one of the only things I bring to potlucks such gatherings. It’s simple, healthy, and pretty.

Full of yummy veggies:

There’s not much else to say about this, so I’ll just go into the actual recipe…


Black Bean Quinoa Salad



1 cup uncooked quinoa

1 can black beans (or if you cook them from dry, like I often do, I would say about 1 1/2 to 2 cups)

2 bell peppers (I like yellow and red the best- OR you can use about 6 of those mini sweet peppers that are so popular nowadays)- chopped

a handful of grape or cherry tomatoes, chopped (I actually used Juliets from our garden)

about 5 green onions, chopped

about 1/2 cup of chopped cilantro


1/2 cup olive oil

juice of one lime

1 or 2 jalepenos, seeds and membranes discarded, chopped

good amount of cumin (about a teaspoon, maybe more)

a couple garlic cloves, minced (or about a 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder)

1/2 to a teaspoon of salt


1. Rinse the quinoa very, very well in a fine mesh sieve.

2. Combine quinoa and one cup water in a pot. (Sometimes I use vegetable broth for extra flavor.) Cook on medium-high until boiling, then turn down to simmer at medium/medium low until all the water is soaked up. You know quinoa is done when the white membrane separates from the main grain. Rinse the quinoa in cold water, if using right away.

3. Combine the cooked quinoa with the rest of the salad ingredients.

4. For the dressing, blend all of the ingredients together with an immersion blender or a
traditional blender. If you don’t use jalepenos or garlic cloves, you could probably skip
the blending step and just whisk the ingredients.

5. Pour the dressing all over the other ingredients, mixing very well. This is better if you
let it sit for at least an hour or so in the refrigerator.


meal plan: week of june 23

Today is kind of an odd week, with not a lot of cooking, which is fine by me, because it’s in the 100s here all week. [Sigh.]

Monday- mushroom lasagna (adapted from this recipe); steamed broccoli; chia seed pudding for dessert (trying this recipe for the first time)

Tuesday- beef-stuffed zucchini, baked with marinara and mozzarella; corn on the cob

Wednesday- family dinner (I think I’m bringing a fruit salad) 

Thursday- summer squash, onion, and hot pepper quesadillas; nappa cabbage salad (recipe here)

Friday- rehearsal dinner for a wedding

Saturday- wedding! (and they’re having Thai food- how fun is that?)

my husband is an old man

To wrap up my Father’s Day “series” [kind of] I thought I’d overshare more about my hubby.

Technically, Ryan is 11 months my junior [I am cougar; hear me roar]. But, actually, he’s pretty much a geriatric.

Allow me to prove this to you.

Top Ten Reasons My Husband is an Old Man

1. He wears hats. A lot of hats. Never baseball caps. Old man hats. The evidence abounds:

2. He drinks whiskey straight up. From a special glass that’s made for whiskey. Although he likes scotch and bourbon, he prefers “rye whiskey” as his regular drink of choice.

3. He shaves with this stuff (see below). Do you know what those items are? Nope, neither do I. However, they definitely scream “barber shop scene in a black-and-white movie.” [Related- he also makes his own cologne. That’s not necessarily old-man-ish, but I was reminded of this interesting tidbit when I was getting the shave things for this picture from the medicine cabinet.]

4. He wears *a lot* of argyle socks. From our wedding day:

5. He always carries a handkerchief. Often he carries two, so he has a spare to lend to people who never have tissues on hand [me].

6. He smokes a pipe. Like, the kind with the tobacco that smells amazing and reminds you of your grandfather.

7. He likes cardigans. [This photo also features his fondness for tie tacks.]

8. He wears those sunglasses that go *over* your regular glasses. Similar ones here. [When we were dating I used to tease him a lot about his sunglasses. During this period, we went to a family reunion, and one of my uncles- who is in his 70s, mind you- was wearing the *exact same* pair of sunglasses! I thought this was amazing and used it as fuel for my badgering of him. This did not deter Ryan in the least bit; in fact, I think it actually encouraged him to embrace the old man glasses even more.]

9. He likes bow-ties.

10. He loves actual records and uses his record player on a fairly regular basis.

[Lest you think I am a total jerk, I believe Ryan is actually proud of his octogenarian spirit. Despite my teasing, I like it too.]


Since I have deemed this Father’s Week, I thought I’d share with you something kinda interesting about my dad. He looks like the pope. Yup. We discovered this when one of my nieces was quite young and pointed to a poster of Benedict XVI at church and exclaimed, “papa”! At first, we thought she was a child prodigy, who not only recognized the Holy Father, but also knew the Italian word for pope. Buuuuut, then we realized that she thought the poster was of her Papa (grandfather).

The resemblance certainly isn’t “uncanny,” but it’s noteworthy. [Or so we like to think.]

Below is some proof. Do you agree?

meal plan: week of june 18

For those of you who shake with anticipation every Monday for my weekly meal plan and thus I have disappointed these last few weeks, my apologies. We have been in and out of town twice, the result being no food plan whatsoever. And so, without further ado:

Monday- sauteed summer squash with whole wheat spaghetti; salad

Tuesday- lemon chicken (inspiration here); oven-roasted turnips

Wednesday- family dinner

Thursday- baked ziti (lazy version here; I’ll sub with whole wheat penne and use half Italian sausage/half beef, then no red pepper flakes); sauteed zucchini

Friday- lentil loaf (inspiration here); oven-roasted potatoes with rosemary

Saturday- TBA (we’ll see what our CSA share provides)

a belated father’s day

Yes, I know yesterday the internet was inundated with praises of fathers- our own, our husbands, our wonderful priests. However, we were traveling, traveling, traveling yesterday, so I didn’t get a chance to post. Indeed, both Ryan and my dad truly lived their fatherhood callings via 12 hours in the car with whiney little people [and wives/daughters].

Even though it’s late [quite fitting for my procrastinating self], I wanted to say “I love you” to the man who formed me into the woman I am today, whose patience and wisdom is the voice most resounding in my conscience, who is the best story teller you will ever meet, who worked soooooo many difficult, long hours to provide for us, who displays unwavering strength in faith and conviction, and who has taken on the role of “Papa” with grace and laughter. When I grow up, I want to be just like you, Dad.

As a mother for 6 months now, I have witnessed beauty beyond my imagination. Without question, one of the greatest of these beauties has been seeing my husband become a father. Almost every day I am rendered speechless by Ryan’s never-ever-ever ending patience with Mena and me. He not only tolerates my crazy, but truly loves me through it and helps me be a better woman and mother.  He has these special ways of holding her, of communicating with her that are so unique, so “Daddy,” that it makes my heart race with affection. And she loves him dearly too. In fact, I can’t even feed Philomena with Ryan in the room, because she’ll ignore me and her food source just to gaze and giggle at him. It brings tears to my eyes [the good kind] to think about their relationship developing over the years. I have no doubt that- like me- she might have difficulty finding a husband, because of the high standards set before her.

This is the point in which, if I was truly honoring  Ryan, I should undercut all this sugary-sweetness with a wry, sarcastic comment. However, this is my blog, not his, and I can be as sappy as you want. So there.

missouri fam vacay circa 2012

My plan was to take copious amounts of instagram photos this past week while on vacation with Ryan’s extended family in Missouri. Then, I was going to plop them all onto a blog post to re-cap our time for generations to come.

But, alas, the ranch where we stayed not only lacked wi-fi, but it also had terrible phone reception. Doesn’t AT&T know I need more cell towers to facilitate lazy blogging? [Why didn’t I just take “normal” pictures with my phone (an action that requires no cell service)? I have no idea.]

And so, I will write a few highlights from the trip, so I can remember them years from now, when I am sure this blog will still exist. [That reminds me of something. When I spent a semester abroad in Europe during college, I sent my parents emails of my adventures. They printed all of them off and kept the tales in a folder. I remember rolling my eyes and explaining to their lack-of-internet-savy selves that this was totally unneeded. Aaaaand, 10 years later when that hotmail account is long gone, I am grateful for the folder. Moral of the story: I should print off all these posts. …but, that just seems silly. Right?]

– Despite my dramatic previous post, the baby was actual a decent traveler. I am sure it had nothing to do with myself and her Aunt Megan giving her constant, immediate attention every second.

– Philomena is turning out to be quite the extrovert. She doled out smiles and giggles with abandon, much to the delight of relatives of all types. One of these days she is going to figure out that raising your eyebrows and clapping really isn’t funny at all. Until then, we will enjoy her ignorance.

– Speaking of our social daughter, Ryan and I have decided that once she can walk, at future large gatherings, the two of us are just going to hole up in our rooms reading books, and we’ll send her out with notes to communicate with others. This way, we can be our anti-social selves, but the relatives can still interact with our offspring. It’s really a win-win for all.

– Mena is at that grab-every-freaking-thing-within-reach-with-her-freakish-baby-strength stage. A favorite object of such snatching just happens to be beer cans and bottles, which she takes quickly and immediately begins to lick. This activity, of course, evoked many wink-wink comments about her alcoholic parents’ “starting her young.” Little did they know about the indoctrination she’s been receiving from her craft beer loving Daddy. You should see her go to town on an IPA.

– This week marked her inaugural swim dipping of toes in a pool. We spent about 20 minutes slathering her in sunscreen, shimmying her into her suit, placing her hat perfectly. Then there was 15 minutes of taking pictures. This led to about 10 seconds in the actual pool before she began pathetically crying. It was really surprising that she didn’t like swimming, because she hates baths, and pools are obviously very different from bathtubs. Only colder. We captured this iconic event on video, but I don’t feel like figuring out how to post it right now. But, I can re-cap it for you: apprehension, toes curling, toes touching water, crying. [It’s thrilling.]

I was able to stand by a fence and hold up my phone to get some reception in order to instagram a couple pics of this happening. You’re welcome.

– All in all, it was a delightful week of family and relaxation. Ryan zip-lined and kayaked. I read, while letting other people hold our babe. We have another extended family vacay coming up way too soon. I’ll make sure to let you in on the captivating details of that sure-to-be adventure.