Category Archives: beans

Curried Mango Quinoa Salad

I love a good deal.  Whether it’s on clothes, shoes, couches, or books I love knowing that I am saving money.  In fact, my Dad used to tell me that I couldn’t afford to save any more money…but that’s another blog post in and of itself.

So the other day when I was at the store, I came across a great deal on mangoes: a full box (of 12, I believe) for only $5.97! Can you believe it?!?! I know, I couldn’t either! I normally try to avoid buying any produce from the grocery store, but the mangoes mysteriously made their way into my cart and then my fridge.  Imagine that.

My logic went something like this: I bought 12 mangoes for $5.97, or $0.49/each.  Since last week I bought 2 mangoes for $2.99, this deal effectively lowered my cost per mango to only $0.64/each.  Make sense?

The problem with buying 12 mangoes at once (and adding them to the 2 that were already in my fridge) is that they all tend to ripen at the same time.  After eating one a day for a few days in a row, I was getting bored and knew I needed to do something different with the remaining pieces of fruit, lest they start to go bad.  I started pulling things out of my fridge and pantry…a few peppers, some cilantro that was about to knock on death’s door, the last of some black beans, some cucumber, half a lime…and before I knew it I had whipped up a delicious grainy salad to dip into for the week. I hope you do the same.

Wanna see what I made?

Quinoa, mangoes, red pepper, orange pepper, cucumber, red onion, garlic, black beans, cilantro, lime, grapeseed oil, white wine vinegar, mango chutney, honey, curry powder.

Begin by combining 1 c of quinoa and 2 c of water in a pot, and bring to a boil.

Once its boiling, cover the pot and simmer for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, chop up a few peppers.  I used a red one and an orange one because that’s what I had, but feel free to use whatever types you like the most.

Look Ma – no seeds!

I hope you don’t like green peppers the most – they’re gross.

Throw the peppers in a large bowl, then seed and chop about 1/2 of a cucumber.

Throw the cucumber into the same bowl as the peppers, and then chop up a hunk of red onion.

Can’t forget the mangoes!

Add about 1/2 a bunch of cilantro…or however much you have hanging out in your produce drawer.

I had some black beans in the fridge from a different quinoa salad I made earlier in the week, so I threw those in the bowl with everything else and focused my attention on the dressing.

I combined about 1/4 c of grapeseed oil, 3T of white wine vinegar, the juice of half a lime, a big spoon full of spicy mango chutney that had been in my pantry for far too long, about 1 t of curry powder, 1 clove of garlic, and a dab of a fabulous local ginger honey that I am loving these days.

I suppose I could have whisked the dressing together, but I wanted it to be a bit creamier so I blended it in my Magic Bullet instead.

Time to check on the quinoa!

Looks good to me! Fluff the quinoa with a fork and then let it steam with the lid on for about 5 minutes or so.

Once it’s cool, add the quinoa to the veggies/fruit that was prepped earlier, and add the dressing.

Toss it gently, and taste for seasoning.

Does it need more of anything? Salt? Pepper? Curry? A Fork?!?!

You guys.  You seriously NEED to make this salad ASAP. It’s fabulous – bright, fresh, colourful, filling, and healthy.  The curry flavour isn’t very strong – just slight undertones – and is the perfect complement to the other flavours.  And, to top it all off, the whole thing came together in less than 15 minutes.  Bonus!

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I hear dinner calling my name…


Chili For People Who Don’t Think They Like Chili

As a child, I was never really a fan of chili – likely because I had not yet acquired a sophisticated enough palate to fully enjoy any type of beans.  Whenever my Mom made it, she used to dish out a bowl before she put the beans in, and then laughed as I basically ate spaghetti sauce by itself.  Since then, my taste buds have evolved to the point where I can tolerate some types of beans, in certain circumstances.  Given that I’m not much of a fan of beans, chili doesn’t usually enter my radar screen.

However, sometimes I decide things on a whim; things that may not make sense to most people. Things like…dying my hair really dark brown. Or renting out my house and moving into a commune. Or painting my toenails orange. Or becoming a vegan. Or selling all of my stuff and living out of my car.

Or, in the case of tonight, making chili and instead of picking out all of the beans, liking it just the way it is.

Come join me on my journey 🙂

You’re looking at bacon, onions, red pepper, yellow pepper, celery, mushrooms, garlic, chili powder, red pepper flakes, oregano, cayenne pepper, lean ground beef, stewing beef, red kidney beans, black beans, diced tomatoes, and tomato puree.

As with many good things that are born from my kitchen, begin by chopping up 6-8 slices of bacon.

Place the bacon into a very large pot and let it start to crisp up over a medium flame.

Traditionally, chili is made with ground beef.  However, if I’m going to eat chili I want to have a little more textural interest, so I grabbed a 1.5 lb package of beef chunks to include.

Cut the chunks into bite-size pieces if needed, and season generously with salt and pepper.  BAM!


Next, start chopping up the veggies:

2 onions…

2 stalks of celery…

1 red pepper + 1 yellow pepper…

A handful of mushrooms – I used 8 buttons because they were forgotten in the produce drawer for too long, but you can use whatever you have.

And last but certainly not least, 9 cloves of garlic.

Now that that’s out-of-the-way, it’s time to check on the bacon.

Oooohhh baby – if love had a smell I’m pretty sure this is what it would smell like. In fact, I think I might try to bottle the smell of bacon and market it.

If you don’t hear from me for a few months, it’s probably because I’ve become a millionaire and am living on a tropical Island somewhere while my eau-de-bacon fragrance flies off the store shelves.

Remove the bacon and set it aside, and drain almost all of the fat into a separate dish.  Don’t you dare throw it out though!!!

My sources tell me that some people keep a jar of bacon fat in their fridges at all times.

I think I just discovered my New Years resolution. It’s important to have high aspirations in life, you know.

Add about half of the beef chunks to the pan that the bacon just came out of. I know what you’re thinking, and no, you cannot add all of the beef at once to the pot unless you have restaurant-sized cooking vessels at your home. Overcrowding the pot will allow the meat to steam instead of brown, and that would just be gross.

Now – listen up because this is very important – RESIST THE URGE TO STIR! I know that it’s hard, but we want to beef to develop a lovely outer crust and it won’t happen unless we give it it’s space.

After a few minutes though, you can stir. You have my permission.

See what I’m talking about?!?!

Good. Now remove the beef from the pot and repeat the whole process with the remaining beef chunks.

Add the onions, peppers, celery, and mushrooms to the pot, along with a tablespoon or so of the bacon grease if you feel so inclined.

Let everything sweat for about 10 minutes – the vegetables should be softened and starting to brown.

Add 1lb of ground beef and the minced garlic to the vegetables, and continue cooking until the beef is no longer pink.

Let’s talk about spices for a minute, shall we?  I wanted the chili to have a balance of flavour but not be too hot for my delicate palate, so I decided to go with cumin, chili powder, red pepper flakes, and oregano.

I used 1/2 T of cumin, but if you like it more than me you could probably add up to 1T. I also only added 2T of chili powder because I figured I could always add more later if it needed it, but once again, if you like things spicier feel free to add up to 1/4 c.  A pinch of red pepper flakes and 1t of oregano sealed the deal for me, but if I had had any coriander I would have added a good shake of that too.  Oh, and for those of you that want to kick it up yet another notch – add about 1/2 t of cayenne pepper.  Go ahead, I dare ya!

Add the spices – whatever they may be – to the chili and give it a good stir while you open up the 4 cans that are going to join the party soon.


Since a chili really isn’t a chili without tomatoes, add 1 large can each of diced tomatoes and tomato puree.  I used the biggest cans my grocery store had – 28-oz I believe.  I also added 1 can each of red kidney beans and black beans that I drained and rinsed. Oh yes, and I added the cooked beef chunks and bacon back too.

All together now!

Bring it to a boil and then put a lid on it to simmer for an hour or so.  After an hour has elapsed (this is very scientific you know) take the lid off and allow it to simmer for another hour or until it’s at a consistency that you can live with.  Check for seasonings – too spicy? Too mild? Does it need more salt? Now’s the time to take care of business.

Eat your chili plain if you’re a purist, or top with sour cream, cheese, green onions, cilantro, avacado…well, you get the idea. Here goes nothing…

This chili is super flavourful, hearty, and textually interesting.  I really, really like it – I’m just full of surprises aren’t I?!?!  Truth be told, this is one dish where I can’t wait for the leftovers, since chili is supposedly better a few days later.  It’s official – I’ve been converted.

And that, my friends, is a very good thing.

Green Goddess Salad

I’m baaacckkk! I know you all missed me, so lets just skip over the pleasantries and get cooking!

A few weeks ago a friend of mine asked me if I ever cook with tofu.  I said yes, because I’m certainly not opposed to it. However, after I said that I realized that I can count my encounters with tofu on one hand – I’ve tried it in smoothies a few times and put it in a stir-fry another time, but that has basically been it.  Speaking of tofu in smoothies, I’d like to just clear the air and reveal to all of you who insist that you cannot taste the tofu in a smoothie, YES YOU CAN!!! Let’s just stop pretending that it magically disappears, ok?  I do not buy for one second the belief that one cannot detect coagulated soy milk in their smoothies. Kudos to those of you who have been brainwashed cannot tell, I’m just not part of that camp. Mind you, I put spinach in my smoothies so I suppose I’m hardly the one to talk.

Wait a minute! This is MY blog and I can talk about whatever I want!!! Mwah ha ha…

So back to the salad.  The other day I was flipping through an old Cooking Light magazine – circa 2005 or 2006 I think – and I stumbled upon a recipe for a quinoa salad with tofu, beans, and a basil vinaigrette.  It jumped out at me because (a) it contains quinoa, which I love, (b) it contains tofu, which means I could blog about my adventures conquering the soy block that often has me tremouring in fear, and (c) it would keep in the fridge for a few days, which would mean less cooking on a daily basis.  How could I go wrong?

(Please don’t answer that, or ask to see the scars on my hands from knife slippage.  I’m sensitive.)

Time to round up the troops!

Let’s see…that would be some quinoa (be honest – how many of you so that one coming?!?!), a carrot, a lemon, some green onions, garlic, tomatoes (grown in my garden, as proven by their stickers), tofu, basil, Dijon mustard, black beans, edamame, olive oil, sugar, salt, and pepper.

First things first: we must cook the quinoa.  Wait – scratch that – we must talk about what quinoa actually is! I could give you the long and drawn out answer, but my guess is that your Google skills are as good as mine and if you are truly curious you won’t pay any attention to what I say because you’ll be Googling like it’s your job.  If you’re not familiar with it, all you need to know is that it is a delicious grain that is a complete protein source.  It’s light and fluffy when it’s cooked – similar to couscous but 100x more nutritious. Oh yes, and in case you’re wondering, it is pronounced Keen-Wah, not Quin-Oh-A. Got that?

Some quinoa needs to be rinsed; mine didn’t. I suggest you read the package on yours before following my lead and ruining your salad.

Is it even possible to ruin salad?!?!?

Sometimes I make no sense. I’m ok with that. Hope you are too.

Dump about 1.5 c of quinoa and 3 c of liquid into a pot and bring it to a boil. You can use water, chicken stock, or vegetable stock. Or – this option is only for the truly adventurous – a combination of the three.

Once it’s come to a boil, stick a lid on the pot, reduce the heat, and let it simmer for about 15 minutes. While you’re at it, stick another pot of water on to boil – we’ll need it for the edamame.

Next, we shall conquer tofu. Together.

I bought the extra-firm tofu for this salad, and you should too.  Do not – I repeat, do not – purchase or use soft tofu. The moisture content is too high, and it won’t fry up properly and would just be plain gross. Even though I’m using the extra-firm kind, I still wanted to drain it. So I did.  It’s just how I roll.

To drain tofu, unwrap it from its package and place on a few layers of paper towels.

Place a few more layers of paper towels on top, and then weigh the whole thing down.

Can you imagine if we were using soft tofu? We’d all be witnesses to tofu being splattered everywhere…think tofuicide. **Shudder** I’m sorry for that mental picture. If you can’t sleep tonight, you can call me and I’ll talk you through it.

Moving on…to the onions!

Green onions, more specifically.  Chop some up – 1/2 c or so, depending on your taste buds and preferences.

I think we need some carrots too, for colour if for nothing else. Once again, a 1/2 c of so should be sufficient.

And tomatoes…3-4, depending on what you feel like.  Remember to remove those pesky homegrown stickers prior to cutting the tomato, unless you are particularly skilled at puzzles.

Throw everything into a large container along with one can of black beans (drained and rinsed please):

Set the veggies aside, and take the opportunity to dump a bag of frozen shelled edamame into that pot of boiling water you put on at the same time as the quinoa. Cooking Light suggested lima beans, but I figured since I was using tofu I might as well go big or go home in the soy department. No quitting at half-time as far as this salad is concerned!

Quick! We only have 3.5 minutes before the edamame is done, and we need to make a vinaigrette pronto.  You know what that means? Are you thinking what I’m thinking?

Oh ya baby…it’s time for the one and only Magic Bullet.

Disclosure #1: the folks at Magic Bullet land have no idea who I am, nor did they pay me to endorse their product. I just like it.

Disclosure #2: writing about the Magic Bullet just made me crave a frappuccino, so I just made one.  Would you be interested in a post exclusively on Magic Bullets? I’ll let you get back to me on that one.

Here’s what went into the bullet…

About a cup of fresh basil, 2 cloves of garlic, the juice of 1 lemon, about 2 T of olive oil, 1/2 t of sugar, about 2-3 t Dijon mustard, and some salt and pepper.

After a few pulses (courtesy of my 4 yr old sous chef), here’s what came out!


If you don’t have a Magic Bullet, have no fear. Just use your blender or food processor, or chop up your basil and whisk everything together. No biggie. I’m just too lazy to do that when there is a perfectly good appliance at my disposal.

I have a nagging feeling I’m forgetting something…

Oh yes! The tofu! Remove it from its drainage station (official culinary term, for those of you wanting to know), and dice it up. I diced it pretty small, because the thought of eating a large cube of tofu is completely unappetizing to me I’m new to the tofu game, but if you’re more experienced than me please feel free to keep the pieces larger. Encourage your sous chef to dialogue with you about what it feels, looks and smells like, and then hide your shock when he pops a cube into their mouth. No clue where he got that idea!

Heat up a drizzle of oil and saute the tofu for a few minutes until it gets nice and golden brown. Don’t forget to season with salt and pepper while it’s cooking – tofu needs all the help it can get in the flavour department.

While the tofu is doing its thing, drain the edamame and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process and help keep it bright green.

Want to see the cooked quinoa? I know you do, so here it is!

All light and fluffy, just the way I like it. And the way its supposed to be, unless you’re into sprouting raw quinoa but that’s another post for another time.

Time to mix everything together…

We’ve got the (cooled) quinoa, the edamame, and the dressing…

…and then everything else that I’ve talked about but forgot to take a picture of!

Once it was all mixed together, here’s what it looked like:

Hmmm…it’s colourful, full of protein and complex carbohydrates, and interesting enough for my palate.  I feel healthier just looking at this, so in my books that makes Green Goddess Salad a good thing. Let me know if you agree!

P.S. Cooking Light Magazine called this salad something else, but I think they should have consulted me – Green Goddess Salad feels more appropriate.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Over and out.