Pineapple Jicama Salad with Cilantro Vinaigrette

Pineapple Jicama Salad

This salad is sweet, tangy and delicious. I originally read a similar recipe in a magazine while sitting in the waiting room at my dentist’s office. I was intrigued because I love love pineapple, but it had cucumber in it, which I absolutely abhor! Cumber is one of the four foods in the world that turn me into a picky eater toddler throwing a tantrum at the dinner table. I will not eat them. I do not like them touching my food and I will sit and pout if they are near my plate (bananas, celery and eggplant would be the others). I have been using a lot of jicama this summer and thought that it would make a great substitute for cucumber. It has the same kind of crunchy texture.

I served this salad with a side of chips for a super chunky chips and salsa kind of thing. You could also serve it over a bed of mixed greens or it would also go great with some grilled shrimp or tequila lime chicken as well.

Pineapple Jicama Salad

Pineapple Jicama Salad with Cilantro Vinaigrette


For the Vinaigrette:
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 2-4 Tablespoons olive oil (I used 3)

For the salad:

  • 1/2 fresh pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut into chunks
  • 1 small jicama, peeled and diced into cubes
  • 1 small red onion, finely diced
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 avocado, pitted and diced


For the Vinaigrette:
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk together until well blended. Set aside. (Vinaigrette can be made ahead of time and will keep in the fridge for about 1 week.)
For the salad:
  1. Combine all ingredients, except the avocado, in a bowl and mix together. Add desired amount of vinaigrette and toss to coat. Salad can now be kept in fridge for up to 4 hours or served immediately.
  2. Right before serving add avocado and gently toss to to coat avocado with dressing, but be sure not to mush it too much.

Fiesta Bean Salad

Fiesta Bean Salad

It’s that time of year again… Fiesta! I haven’t blogged for a couple months, but I’m now in my final stretch living in California (for a while at least), so I figure I might as well enjoy and share as much of the Golden State as I can! Fiesta is a truly unique Santa Barbara tradition. Officially 90 years strong as of this Wednesday. It’s a unique blend of culture, history, food, music, dance and booze. Basically the world’s best combination in my opinion. This week I’m going to share some of my favorite, both new and old, Mexican inspired recipes.

Fiesta Bean Salad

I love this salad! It’s fast and easy. Light and fresh. And it makes a perfect alternative side dish to a Mexican meal instead of traditional black or pinto bean dishes. I had originally planned on serving this as a side dish with tequila lime chicken, but I was so hungry for lunch that I decided to skip the rest of the meal and just dig in. Excellent decision. If you wanted to add some more bulk to the salad, some chopped romaine would be great. If I had some cilantro on hand (my plants have refused to last longer than 5 days this summer!) or corn kernels (I can’t eat whole corn, but if you can), I know both would have made the best addition.

Fiesta Bean Salad
Adapted from Skinnytaste.

  • 2+ cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 limes, juiced
  • 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 15 ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 15 ounce canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 red onion, finely diced
  • 1 medium avocado, diced
  • 1/2 jicama, cut into thin matchsticks
  • 2 ounces queso fresco (or feta), crumbled
  1. In a large bowl, combine the garlic, lime juice, oil, cumin, crushed red pepper, and salt.
  2. Add the black beans, chickpeas, tomato, onion and jicama. When ready to eat, gently mix in avocado, sprinkle with queso fresco and serve right away.



Gluten Free Smoky Black Bean Dip

Smoky Black Bean Dip Here’s a quick and easy dip that’s perfect for any of your last minute cinco de mayo needs! All you need is a food processor and a few ingredients that are probably already in your pantry. This dip is easy to make and easy to serve, plus there’s not absolutely no cooking involved, which makes it a perfect summertime dip. I recommend serving it with tortilla chips and veggies, but you could use it with nachos or on quesadillas as well.

I felt that three chipotles was the perfect amount for this dip. It gave it a nice smoky, spicy taste, but it wasn’t spicy to the point that you couldn’t eat the dip. You notice the spice, but it’s subtle. I thought the dip was delicious when I made it, but it tasted even the better the next day. If you have the time, I would really recommend trying to stick it in the fridge for a few hours and let the flavors mingle.

Smoky Black Bean Dip


  • 2 (15 ounce) cans black beans, drained & rinsed
  • 5 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 1/2 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro (leaves & stems)
  • 2-4 limes, juiced
  • 1/4 cup plain yogurt (I used Greek, you can use sour cream too)
  • 2-4 chipotle chiles in adobo (depending on your heat preference), coarsely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste


  1. In a food processor, combine all ingredients except salt & pepper, and process until smooth. Taste for seasoning, add salt & pepper to taste, and if you prefer a thinner dip, continue processing, adding lime juice 1 tablespoon at a time until desired consistency is reached.
  2. Garnish with 2 Tbsp. of chopped cilantro (if desired) before serving.

Veggie Protenia Salad

Veggie Proteina Salad

I’ve recently discovered Red Brick Pizza. They have amazing gluten-free pizza. It’s quite a luxury to go to a pizza parlor and have a real, wood-fired pizza straight out of the oven. I have watched them like a hawk every time I have been and they take so many precautions when preparing a gluten-free pizza (I would also recommend going for a very early lunch when they first open to avoid further cross contamination risks). Every employee I have interacted with has known exactly what ‘gluten-free’ is and what is and isn’t safe on their menu (in extreme detail; I was very impressed). So far my favorites only pizzas I’ve tried are the Hawaiian (the addition of cashews is quite amazing) and the Prosciutto, Mushrooms and Arugula (a drizzle of balsamic and a dash of red pepper flakes; fantastic). Unfortunately, the closest restaurant is 35 miles away, which means I only get to go on the rare Target trip I make (yes, our closest Target is also 35 miles away, I live in a desolate hole), but between Target and pizza, it makes any trip almost as exciting as going to Disneyland.

As amazing as the pizzas are, and they are fantastic, I have absolutely fallen in love with the Veggie Proteina Salad. I never could have dreamed up a more perfect salad, but lucky I don’t have to try anymore, Red Brick has figured it out for me.

From the Red Brick Pizza website:

napa mix, artichoke hearts, red & green peppers, mushrooms, onions, kalamata olives, garbanzo beans, kidney beans, black beans, corn, tomatoes, mozzarella, croutons, choice of dressing

Obviously to make it gluten-free, don’t get the croutons. I also leave off the corn, but keep everything else. The salad is so flavorful and so delicious and so easy to make at home, so that’s exactly what I did. I’ve made it at home several times now and every time it’s been fantastic. At the restaurant, I’ve only tried the salad with balsamic vinaigrette, but at home I’ve tried it both with balsamic and ranch dressing. I really can’t decide which is better. Unfortunately in the pictured version here, I forgot to add the cheese, it definitely wasn’t missed. I have to say that in my homemade version I usually use Monterey jack or white cheddar. I just find them tastier, but the cheese isn’t needed at all.

A little more on Red Brick. They also have gluten-free beer and ciders on tap. There are also gluten-free dessert options as well. Gelato and gelato truffles seem to be the main gluten-free dessert options, but last time I went they also offered gluten-free ice cream sandwiches made with GF chocolate chip cookies and gelato. They all look amazing, but between salad and pizza and dessert, I have to prioritize and pizza always wins in my book.

Veggie Protenia Salad


  • MIx of cabbage and lettuce (I used green cabbage and romaine lettuce)
  • 1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced
  • 1/2 cup kalamata olives, sliced
  • 1/2 cup marinated artichoke hearts, chopped
  • 8-10 button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 1 large tomato (or a pint of cherry tomatoes), diced
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheese (optional) (recommend white cheddar or monterey jack)
  • choice of dressing (recommend balsamic vinaigrette or ranch)


  1. Place cabbage and lettuce in a large bowl.
  2. Add in all other ingredients but dressing.
  3. Toss to mix together.
  4. Add dressing of choice and toss again to coat.
  5. Serve immediately.

Shrimp with Mango & Black Bean Salsa

Shrimp with Black Bean & Mango Salsa

This is a fast and easy meal. It’s perfect for summertime since very little heat is needed. The flavors come together perfectly. The best part of these tacos is the salsa. It’s super fast to make and super delicious. It would be great with chicken or fish tacos or on top of a salad. If you want to add some heat, adding in a couple jalapeños or a bell pepper would be great.

Shrimp with Mango & Black Bean Salsa
For the Salsa:
  • 1 (14.5) ounce can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 large tomato, seeded and diced
  • 1 mango, diced
  • 3 green onions, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 sprigs cilantro, chopped
  • 2 limes, juiced
For the Shrimp Tacos:
  • 3 shrimp per taco
  • 1 corn tortilla per taco
  • olive oil
  • Ground Cumin, to taste
  • Ground Roasted Coriander, to taste
  • Ground Cayenne Pepper, to taste
  • Onion Powder, to taste
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Crumbled feta or queso blanco

For the Salsa:

  1. Mix beans, tomato, mango, green onion, garlic and cilantro in a medium bowl. Top with lime juice. Toss before serving.
For the Tacos:
  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. When oil is heated, add shrimp.
  3. Sprinkle with cumin, roasted coriander, cayenne and onion powder to taste. Add in the minced garlic.
  4. Stir to coat. Cook shrimp about 3 minutes per side until pink throughout.
  5. In a separate pan, heat the tortillas.
  6. Top the tortillas with shrimp and salsa. Add cheese if desired.

Baked Huevos Rancheros

Baked Huevos Rancheros

After eggs benedict and chilaquiles, huevos rancheros is probably my 3rd favorite breakfast of all time. I like ranking things, so this is definitely a statement I can say with confidence. For those of you not familiar with huevos rancheros, it’s a Mexican breakfast dish made with fried eggs, lightly fried tortillas and a tomato-chile sauce and usually served with beans, sometimes rice and a bit of avocado. There are a million different variations, but it’s all the same basic concept. The only down side to huevos rancheros, is that it can be a bit time-consuming to make. I generally hate breakfasts that require a lot of work, so it is a dish saved for ordering at restaurants. Baking the dish helps eliminate a lot of the hands-on work time that the dish usually requires.

For me at least, all the ingredients in this meal are things I always have on hand, so it’s the perfect recipe for a last-minute brunch (or even dinner). The next time I make this, the only thing I would change would be the amount of cheese. The original calls for 12 ounces, I would half that and only use the cheese sprinkled on top and not bother mixing it in with the bean mixture. That said I did you an awesome combination of pepper jack and garlic jack from the Sonoma Cheese Factory. They are a California company, so I’m not too sure what their distribution range is, but if you can get your hands on some garlic jack, I would highly recommend it.

Baked Huevos Rancheros

Baked Huevos Rancheros (from 20 Something Cupcakes)

  • 3 tablespoons Olive or canola oil
  • large onion, diced (emphasis on large, or 2 medium onions)
  • 6 – 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 2-14.5 ounce cans diced tomatoes with chilies/jalapeños
  • 2 15-ounce cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 canned chopped chipotle peppers
  • 6-8 corn tortillas (I could only fit 6, original recipe called fo 8)
  • 8 large eggs
  • 12 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
  • 2 avocados, pitted and diced
  • generous sprinkling of garlic powder
  • good dash of cayenne pepper (to taste)
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1/4 cup pico de gallo or favorite chunky tomato salsa
  • Handful chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 small red onion, minced
  1. Combine avocados, garlic powder, cayenne and lime juice in a bowl. Mash together (a potato masher works perfectly). When mashed, add in salsa, cilantro and red onion. Stir to combine.

For serving (all optional):

  • hot sauce (I recommend Cholula (original) and/or Pepper Plant (Chunky Garlic or Original California Style)
  • black olives, sliced
  • green onions, chopped
  • salsa
  • sour cream
  1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté until golden, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cumin; stir 30 seconds. Stir in tomatoes with juice, beans, and chipotle chiles; bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer until almost all liquid is absorbed, stirring frequently, about 8 minutes. Stir in half the cheese.
  2. Coat a 9- x 13-inch baking dish with spray. Overlap tortillas so that they cover the bottom of the baking dish. Spread tomato mixture over tortillas. Bake for 20 minutes. Carefully remove the baking dish from the oven and, with the back of a spoon, make 8 indentations in the dish. Crack an egg into each indentation.  Top with remaining cheese. Return the dish to the oven and bake until whites are set and yolks reach desired runniness;  about 15 minutes for yolks that are still runny, 20-25 for harder yolks.
  3. Dish up eggs on individual plates and top with salsa, olives, onions, sour cream if desired.
  4. Serve and enjoy!

Sweet Potato Cakes with Chipotle Black Bean Salsa

I saw this recipe and instantly knew I was going to have to make it. Such a tasty and colorful dish that would be perfect as a fall appetizer or as a football watching snack like Lisa recommends. The way the recipe is broken down and written makes it look like a lot more work than it is, so don’t let that intimidate you.

I threw in an extra chipotle because mine were a little on the small side and I love chipotle. The sour cream and sweet potato really help calm the spiciness of the chipotles, but the flavor is still there. I also sprinkled some garlic powder on top, before I squeezed in the lime juice, just because garlic makes everything a little better. I also substituted corn for the original yellow bell pepper because I’m not really a fan of bell peppers and they are costing well over 3 dollars in these parts for one damn pepper! Outrageous!

Sweet Potato Cakes with Chipotle Black Bean Salsa (from Lisa is Cooking)

For the Sweet Potato Cakes:

  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into large chunks
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 5 green onions, both white and green parts, finely chopped
  • 4-6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4-6 tablespoons butter
  1. Steam the sweet potato chunks for 15-20 minutes until completely tender, and then transfer to a colander and allow to drain until dry.
  2. Once very dry, place sweet potato chunks in a large mixing bowl and mash with a potato masher to break up chunks. Add flour and finely chopped green onions, and mix with your hands to form a smooth batter. Using your hands here is best so that it doesn’t become over mixed. In a food processor, the sweet potato mixture could quickly become gummy. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper if needed. Once the mixture is smooth, and the flour and green onions are mixed in, you’re ready to fry. Note: the mixture should be sticky but not wet, so more flour may be needed.
  3. In a non-stick skillet, heat two tablespoons extra virgin olive oil and two tablespoons butter over medium-high heat. Form round, flat cakes from about two tablespoons of batter per cake, and fry four or five at a time for three minutes per side until golden. Transfer finished cakes to a paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain and cool. Add more oil and butter to pan between batches as needed, and continue frying a few cakes at a time until all are ready for their toppings.

For the Chipotle Black Bean Salsa:

  • 1 16 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup of frozen corn, defrosted
  • 1-2 chipotles in adobo, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup finely minced red onion
  • ¼ cup cilantro leaves, chopped
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  1. Combine all salsa ingredients, starting with one chipotle, in a small bowl and stir to combine. Taste for chipotle heat and add more if desired, and taste for seasoning and add more salt if needed. Salsa can be made in advance and stored in the refrigerator.
To Assemble for Serving:
  • Sour cream
  • Cholula or hot sauce of choice (optional)
  1. Place sweet potato cakes on a serving platter and add a small dollop of sour cream to each. Top sour cream with a small spoonful of black bean salsa and hot sauce, if desired and enjoy.

Spicy Shrimp Nachos with Restaurant Style Salsa

So, today is the first day of Fiesta here in Santa Barbara. It’s officially called Old Spanish Days, but long story short it’s five days of mariachis, parades, rodeos, cerveza, dancing and confetti. It’s generally a good time. The last couple years I’ve been out of the country for fiesta and I always got a little sad hearing about friends going to celebrate. Well this year my unintended, extended Santa Barbara sojourn means I get to celebrate Fiesta whether I want to or not…

In honor of Fiesta, I will be sharing some of my favorite go to Mexican recipes. Expect lots of tequila and hot sauce.

When you think about it, Americanized Mexican food is basically all the same ingredients just served in a different form. This recipe could just as easily be served in a burrito, as tacos, tostadas, a salad, whatever floats your boat, but I think homemade nachos are always a good way to go (as long as you don’t burn down your apartment in the process, right Amanda? 😉 ). Nachos are great to make for a crowd or make a tasty meal for one or two.

Spicy Shrimp Nachos

  • Corn tortilla chips
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • frozen corn
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • Mexican blend shredded cheese
  • 1/2 pound shrimp, fresh or frozen, defrosted, shelled, tailed
  • Taco seasoning
  • Garlic Powder
  • Paprika
  • Chili powder
  • Black olives, chopped
  • Green onions, chopped
  • Red onion, diced
  • Sour Cream
  • Guacamole
  • Salsa (recipe is below)
  1. Heat oven to 450. Place tortilla chips on an oven proof plate. Sprinkle with some cheese if you want. Rinse can of beans. Fill empty bean can with frozen corn, rinse under water and allow to thaw out a bit.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When heated, add onion and cook until soft and translucent. Season with as much garlic powder, taco seasoning, paprika and chili powder as desired. Add in corn and beans. Cook until everything is heated through. Removed from skillet and add to prepared tortilla chips. Sprinkle with cheese if desired. Place in heated oven for 3-6 minutes until cheese is melted.
  3. In the same skillet add prepared shrimp. Season with more garlic powder, taco seasoning, paprika and chili powder if desired. Cook 3-4 minutes each side until shrimp is cooked through. When cooked, remove from skillet and chop into small pieces.
  4. Sprinkle shrimp and other toppings like olives, green onions over the tortilla chips. Top with sour cream, guac, salsa and your favorite hot sauce.
  5. Serve and enjoy!
Restaurant Style Salsa (adapted from Brown Eyed Baker)
I am absolutely OBSESSED with this salsa. I’ve taken to making a batch of it every weekend and having it on hand to use through out the week. Everyone who has been lucky enough to have some, has absolutely loved it. I have also used both fresh jalapenos as well as canned diced chilis and both have worked. Also, final note, made sure you use a BIG food processor, there is a lot of liquid going on here.
  • 28-ounce can whole tomatoes (peeled) with juice
  • 2 10-ounce cans Rotel (diced tomatoes with green chilies)
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalepeño, quartered and sliced thin
  • ½ cup cilantro
  • Juice from a fresh lime
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
Put all the ingredients in a food processor. Pulse until you reach desired consistency (I do it about 10 or 11 times). Pour into bowl and cover. Refrigerate for at least one hour. Serve and enjoy!

Crockpot Salsa Chicken Tostadas

I recently discovered the convenience of the crockpot. Despite my original misgivings about it, I’ve become slightly enamored with it. It’s so easy and fast. There’s hardly any clean up and it doesn’t make the house even warmer during the summer like the oven does. After experimenting with the crockpot a couple times, I was reasonably confident I could just throw some things I liked together and it would turn out fairly well. Turns out I was right. By no means is salsa chicken original, but it certainly is fast, easy and tasty.

Crockpot Salsa Chicken

  • 3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup salsa of choice
  • 1 cup low sodium broth
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • taco seasoning
Prepare chicken and sprinkle with taco seasoning on each side. Place in crockpot. Add salsa, broth and onion to crockpot. Cook chicken on high for 3 hours. When chicken is done, shred with fork and serve or store for future meals.
Salsa Chicken Tostadas (for 2 with lots leftovers or 4 )
  • 4 flat corn tostada shells
  • 1 can refried beans
  • Salsa chicken
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 4-6 green onions, chopped
  • salsa
  • shredded Mexican cheese
  • sour cream or greek yogurt
  • hot sauce
Heat oven to 250 and heat tostadas in oven for a few minutes 5-10-ish depending on how crispy/warm you enjoy your shells. Warm beans. I added a pinch of cheese, 1/2 a diced onion and a couple dashes of hot sauce to my beans and then heated them up in the microwave. When the tostadas are warm, spread a few spoonfuls of beans on the shells. Top the beans with chicken, tomato, green onion, salsa, cheese, sour cream, hot sauce or other toppings of choice. Serve and enjoy!

Black Bean and Corn Salsa

This is one of my all-time favorite recipes. It kinda changes a little bit every time I make it, but luckily, it’s one of those things you can’t mess up regardless of what you do. It’s fast, simple and super tasty. It works as a great salsa, by itself as a bean salad or on top of a green salad.

Black Bean and Corn Salsa

  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can of frozen corn, rinsed and defrosted
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1 can diced chiles, drained
  • 1 lime
  • garlic, fresh or powdered, to taste
  • fresh cilantro, chopped
  • hot sauce, to taste (I prefer Cholula)
In a big bowl combine beans, corn, tomato, onion, chiles and cilantro. Sprinkle garlic on top. Add in the hot sauce to taste. Squeeze lime juice and mix everything together. Cover with plastic wrap and put the bowl in the fridge for about 30 minutes. You can serve it right away, but I like to give it a little time to marinate all together.