Black Beans & Rice

It’s about to get really hot around these parts for the next few days, so I’m hoping I’ll be seeing a lot of this.

Check out that chunk of naked belly…I guess it never grew back after she was spayed.

I was on the phone when she flopped over, and I had to kindly ask dear KA on the other end to hang on just a second because I needed to take some cute bunny photos ASAP.  I think she understood.

I have talked about my BFF Diego before.  I may or may not have posted embarrassing photos of us as children (and yes, there is an entire facebook album devoted to that very thing).  We’ve known each other since age 3, so of course there has been time to accumulate a lot of photos.

We spent so much time together if felt like we were practically siblings.  Diego’s mom refers to me as her American daughter.  I am proud to have been “adopted” if only for the awesome Hispanic meals I enjoyed in their household.

Rice and beans will always be one of my most favorite Hispanic dishes.  It’s so simple, but incredibly flavorful and filling.  While I doubt I’ll ever be able to replicate it perfectly, this, in my opinion, is a pretty good attempt, and even Luke who “doesn’t really like legumes” (I’m paraphrasing here…not sure he knows what a legume is) enjoyed it.

Black Beans & Rice

Adapted from Bon Appetit January 2012

Makes about 2-3 servings

1 small onion, diced

½ cup green bell pepper, finely diced

2 Tbsp olive oil

3 garlic cloves, minced

½ tsp chili powder

½ tsp ground coriander

¾ tsp cumin

1½ cups chicken broth

one 19oz can black beans (I used Progresso)

salt, pepper, and lime juice

2 cups cooked brown or white rice

queso fresco and/or cilantro for garnish

Combine the onion, bell pepper, and oil in a large skillet.  Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until completely softened, about 6-7 minutes.  Add garlic and next 3 ingredients; stir constantly for 2 minutes.  Stir in broth and beans; bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to medium; simmer briskly, mashing some of the beans with the back of a spoon and stirring often, until sauce is thickened, 8-10 minutes.  Season with salt, pepper and a little lime juice.  Divide rice and beans among plates and garnish if desired. Enjoy!



Monday has arrived, so I want to share something fun to lighten the mood for this week.

Onigiri fillings

Onigiri.  Oh-nee-gear-eee.  Also known as Japanese rice balls.  Also known as a tasty, fun and interesting dinner.

They’re also great to snack on.  When I was in Taiwan, I would buy packaged onigiri at the nearest 7-Eleven practically every day.  Or multiple times a day.  Don’t blame me, there were 7-Elevens everywhere. 

When I went to Tokyo, I got to experience authentic onigiri.  Pure heaven, even if I can’t handle the more traditional fillings like umeboshi (pickled plums).  So I make mine with canned tuna.  (Which they do in Japan as well, so there.)

Luke’s were filled with a spicy mixture, while mine was mild.  I also sprinkled mine with furikake seasoning, a Japanese condiment, and wrapped them in nori (dried seaweed).  You can get furikake and nori at your local Asian supermarket, and if you can’t procure, the rice balls will still be great without them.

So if you’re feeling adventurous this week and want to try something new, I’d recommend onigiri.  It’s just so much fun to say and eat!

Onigiri (Japanese rice balls)

Makes about 10 rice balls (depending on how big you make them)

4 cups short grain (sushi) rice, cooked and cooled

1 can tuna, drained

2 Tbsp mayonnaise

2 Tbsp sriracha or other hot sauce

¼ cup hummus

2 sheets of nori, cut into 2” strips

furikake seasoning for garnish

Cook the rice according to the directions on the package, or in a rice cooker.  Let the rice cool completely before starting assembly.

While the rice cools, make the fillings.  In a small bowl, scrape out half of the tuna, add mayo and hot sauce and mix until evenly combined with a fork.

In another small bowl, mix remaining tuna and hummus (with a different stirring apparatus).

Before you begin working with the rice, make sure your hands are wet.  This will keep the rice from sticking to you.  When the rice is cool, use a large spoon or rice paddle to scoop out about ½ cup of rice.  Cupping it in your palm, flatten the rice out and spoon about 2 Tbsp of filling in the center.  Close your palm and use your other hand to bring the rice ball together.  You can also shape the ball into the traditional triangle shape, but I think spheres are much cuter.

Once the rice ball is firmly packed and no filling can be seen, wrap a strip of nori around the ball and put it on a plate.  Garnish with furikake if desired.

Continue this process for remaining rice and filling, and enjoy!

Chai Spiced Rice Pudding

I’ve talked about my strange milk habits before.  Well, I don’t think they’re very strange, it’s just that I don’t like drinking milk, so whenever I buy it, which is pretty much every week, I have to figure out how to use it up.

Because if there’s one thing I hate, it’s letting food go to waste.  Pancakes and other skillet fodder are usually my go-tos for using up milk, but one time, I made a big mistake when buying milk.

I forgot what month it was, and instead of buying milk I thought would last for two weeks, I bought some that expired in two days.  I’m sooo smart sometimes.

Thankfully I only buy quarts at a time, so I had four cups of milk to work with.  Of course, my first thought was pudding.  Browsing through my recipe cache, I decided this one was definitely worth a try.

I had never made rice pudding before, but I’m always up for trying new things.  I didn’t have Arborio rice, so I substituted short grain sushi rice.  You need to use short grain or Arborio in rice pudding so the rice maintains its shape and doesn’t turn into mush in the cooking process.

I loved the spices in the pudding too.  It tastes like sweet, custardy chai tea.  Deliciousness all over.

Chai Spiced Rice Pudding

Adapted from Cherry Tea Cakes

Makes 8-10 servings, depending on container size

1 cup arborio (or short grain) rice
2 cinnamon sticks
1/2 tsp lemon zest
2 whole cloves
4 cups water
1 egg
3 cups whole milk
one 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp vanilla
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/4 tsp allspice

Soak the rice, cinnamon sticks, lemon zest and cloves in the water in a tall, heavy saucepan for 1 hour.

After soaking, remove cloves and cinnamon sticks and bring the rice mixture to a boil on high heat, uncovered. When it starts to boil (about 5 minutes), lower the heat to medium and cook for 10 to 12 more minutes or until water is almost evaporated.

While rice is cooking, beat the egg in a bowl. Add the milk and stir well to mix. Add the egg mixture, condensed milk, salt, vanilla extract and spices to the rice and cook over medium-low heat, stirring carefully, about 25 to 35 minutes. The grains should be coming to the surface of the pudding and you’ll feel some resistance when you stir. Several cups of liquid will have evaporated. Allow to cool at least 10 minutes–it will thicken considerably once taken off the heat.  Pour into ramekins or mason jars and allow to cool to room temperature.  Store in the refrigerator.

Simple Fried Rice

My next few posts are going to be a little shorter than usual.  They’ll also be occurring a lot closer together.

This is because, for some reason, my laziness….insufficient lighting….rapid consumption….I’ve only got one photograph saved of the dish I want to post about.  Which I apologize for.  I know posts are much better with ogle-able photos that make you drool.  Or maybe that’s just how I like my posts.

So to supplement my one photo dishes, I’ll be putting up some extra cute photos of Izzy I took recently.  Because obviously there isn’t enough fuzzy rabbit in your life.


D’awwwwwww.  Admit it.  Your heart just melted.  And no, I don’t know why she decided to fold down one of her ears.

 And now on to the food.  Fried rice is an incredibly simple and satisfying meal that can be created easily at home.  Plus, it’s an easily customizable dish that can be changed readily depending on what ingredients you have on hand.  I hadn’t taken any meat out of the freezer when I made this, so I only used eggs, but feel free to use whatever meat/add-ins you want.


Yes, my stovetop utensil of choice is my pair of long, cooking chopsticks.

Simple Fried Rice

Adapted From What’s Cooking Chicago

Makes 4 servings

2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 1/4 teaspoon salt


4 eggs
1 tablespoon vegetable oil

Fried Rice:
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
4 large garlic cloves, minced
12-14 extra-large shrimp (21 to 25 per pound), peeled, de-veined
2 cups leftover rice, cold
1/2 cup frozen peas and carrots, thawed (Luke’s not a fan, so I omitted these)
4 scallions, sliced thin

For the Sauce:
In a small bowl, stir together brown sugar, soy sauce, fish sauce, and 1¼ teaspoons salt; set aside.

For the Eggs:
In another small bowl, whisk eggs and ¼ teaspoon salt together in medium bowl, set aside.

Heat 1 teaspoon of oil over medium high heat. Once hot, pour the whisked eggs into the pan and allow to set. Pull the cooked edges towards the middle and tilt the pan to allow the runny eggs to coat the bottom of the pan. Continue to do this as needed until no runny egg remain.

With a spatula, carefully flip the egg to cook the top side. Once cooked, take off heat and break up the egg into pieces which will be tossed into the fried rice later. Set aside until the egg is called for in the fried rice recipe.

For the Fried Rice:

Place onion and garlic in 12-inch nonstick skillet with oil. Sauté over medium heat, stirring constantly, until translucent.

Crumble the cold, leftover rice into the middle of the skillet. Cook the rice along with the shrimp until the rice is warmed through and slightly toasted, about 5-7 minutes.

Add the sauce mixture and toss with whatever add-ins you desire.

Add the scallions, remove from heat, and transfer to serving platter. Garnish with lime wedges if desired; serve immediately.