Side Dish or Main Course?

If Jesse were home he would probably really enjoy this meal, but he wouldn’t really call it a meal. You see, in most cases, Jesse doesn’t consider it a main course if it doesn’t contain meat. It doesn’t matter if it is beef, chicken, pork or even a fish, it just needs to have some sort of meat. I know he would love this as a side dish to maybe grilled chicken or a steak, but I kind of like this as a main course because it is a complete protein without having the meat in it. I won’t become a vegetarian anytime in the near future, but every once in a while it’s nice to have a meatless option that is still filling. Especially with the price of meat in California.

I made this the first night Jesse was in China because I didn’t have any meat except some frozen chicken breast and I was a little chickened out at the time. It was so good that I thought about it over the weekend and by Monday night I had a full blown craving. By Tuesday I didn’t have a choice, I had to make it again. So call it a side dish or a main course, either way, it’s delicious.

Black Beans and Rice

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/3 cup thinly sliced yellow or red onion
1/2 cup bell pepper cut into strips, * (red, yellow, green or all 3)
1 clove of garlic, crushed or finely diced
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 can (14.5 ounces) black beans, drained
1/2 can petite diced tomatoes, drained (or 1 small tomato, diced)
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
dash of smoked paprika
3/4 cup chicken broth **
1 tbsp dry parsley or cilantro for topping
black pepper to taste
2 cups cooked jasmine or basmati rice

Heat vegetable oil in a large skillet. With the heat on medium, add the onion, bell peppers, and garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the kosher salt and continue to cook for 5 minutes, stirring often. Next, add the black beans, tomato, and seasonings. Reduce heat to low and stir in the chicken broth and let simmer for 5-10 minutes or until the beans are heated through. Serve immediately over rice.

* Obviously fresh bell peppers are always the best, but they can be pricey and sometimes go bad before being used. I started buying a frozen pack of precut tricolor bell peppers (kind of like this). They are perfect for quick weeknight meals. And it’s nice to have the trio of peppers without wasting half of each color pepper for smaller meals.

** I only used a half of a cup of chicken broth tonight and it was just a touch dry.

Beef With Snow Peas and Baby Corn

Today I was thinking of Jesse Wondering what the weather was like, how his jet lag was, and of course, what he was eating. I started thinking of all the different kinds of foods he tried the last two times he was in China. I was really proud of him because he really stepped out of his food comfort zone and tried things I had never imagined he would try. And he even liked a lot of them. Another great thing about the food in China is that they use a lot of vegetables, so he started to like a much wider variety.

While all of that was swimming around my head I also started thinking of vegetables, and ginger, and soy sauce. Side note, ironically they don’t use much soy sauce in Shanghai, at least they don’t put it out in restaurants and use it as a condiment like we are so used to in American Chinese restaurants. Jesse says they associate that with being a bad cook or having bad ingredients. Anyways, I then started to crave those things.

I remember seeing this recipe a while back on one of my favorite blogs, the Pioneer Woman. It sounded really good at the time but for whatever reason I didn’t get around to trying it. Finally, after my round about thinking session earlier today, I remembered and decided I had to make this. So really, in a very complicated web of my every day thought process, this meal is all about Jesse and his trip to China. I only wish he were here to enjoy it with me, especially since it was so tasty!

Beef with Snow Peas and Baby Corn
(Adapted from The Pioneer Woman Cooks)


1-½ pound Flank Steak, Trimmed Of Fat And Sliced Very Thin Against The Grain
½ cups Low Sodium Soy Sauce
3 Tablespoons Rice Wine Vinegar (or if you forget to buy this at the store, apple cider vinegar and a splash of white wine)
2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
2 Tablespoons Cornstarch
1 Tablespoon Minced Fresh Ginger
8 ounce package of Snow Peas and Baby Corn
5 whole Scallions, Cut Into Half-inch Pieces On The Diagonal
3 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
Crushed Red Pepper, For Sprinkling
Jasmine Or Long Grain Rice, Cooked According To Package


In a bowl, mix together soy sauce, sherry, brown sugar, cornstarch, and ginger. Add sliced meat to bowl and toss with hands. Set aside.

Heat oil in a wok over high heat. Add snow peas and baby corn and stir for 45 seconds. Remove to a separate plate lined with paper towels to absorb excess oil. Set aside.

Allow pan to get very hot again. With tongs, add half the meat mixture, leaving most of the marinade still in the bowl. Add half the scallions. Spread out meat as you add it to pan, but do not stir for a good minute. (You want the meat to get as brown as possible in as short amount a time as possible.) Turn meat to the other side and cook for another 30 seconds. Remove to a clean plate.

Repeat with other half of meat, allowing pan to get very hot again first. After turning it, add the first plateful of meat, the rest of the marinade, and the snow peas. Stir over high heat for 30 seconds, then turn off heat.

Serve immediately over rice. Sprinkle crushed red pepper over the top to give it some spice.


** This post was imported as a part of my top 30 from my old blog – What’s Cooking in the Orange Kitchen**

What a great post title, huh? Ribs. OK, maybe it’s not the most appetizing title I’ve had on this blog but I am really excited that I finally have a rib to write about! You see, I’ve been trying to make ribs for the past 4 years. I’ve tried a variety of different recipes and I was never that happy with them. One recipe called for boiling, then grilling, then slow cooking. Um hello, who has time for all of that? Not to mention the fact that the end result was just tough. Not at all worth the effort. But I was bound and determined to finally find a recipe that was worth my time enough to write a blog post and I have finally found it!

Sweet and Savory Country Style Ribs
(Adapted from


1 large onion, sliced and separated into rings
2 1/2 pounds boneless country-style pork ribs
1 (18 ounce) bottle barbecue sauce
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup spicy brown mustard – I used a brown mustard with horseradish in it
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper


Layer onion rings in the bottom of a 5 qt crockpot and place the ribs on top of them.

In a large measuring cup (or small bowl), combine the rest of the ingredients.

Pour the sauce over the ribs and turn the crock pot on low.

Cook for 8-9 hours. (At about 6 hours I used a baster to remove some of the grease from the crockpot)

Remove the ribs from the crockpot and place on a foiled lined broiling pan. Spoon the remaining sauce and onions from the crockpot over the ribs. Broil on high for ~4 minutes. *I kept the oven door open and a close eye on them to make sure they didn’t burn. You just want the sauce to caramelize a little.

Buffalo Chicken Salad

** This post was imported as a part of my top 30 from my old blog – What’s Cooking in the Orange Kitchen**

You may have noticed that I had no updates last week and that was because I was on vacation. I had 2 posts ready to go and expected to be able to post them while I was gone but unfortunately we didn’t have internet access because the house we were staying at had a broken router. This is one of those 2 recipes. I made it for our lunch the day before we left and it was so good.

There is a local coffee shop near my grocery store and it serves a few different types of really tasty sandwiches. My favorite has always been the buffalo chicken salad and I have been wanting to recreate it for a while now. I started by throwing some things together until I was happy with the flavor and the texture. I had to find the right balance of spicy kick and smooth, cool, creaminess. I think what I came up with is just as good if not better than the coffee shop version. It came together pretty quickly and would be great on a tortilla wrap, sandwich bread, a croissant or even just right out of the bowl. I can’t wait to make this again!

Buffalo Chicken Salad


1/2 cup Light Miracle Whip (I intended to use mayonnaise but I grabbed the wrong jar and I think it was the a good mistake :))
1/4-1/3 cup Franks Red Hot
1/4 cup blue cheese dressing
1/4 tsp paprika
dash of cayenne pepper
Dash of black pepper
1 celery stalk, cut into very small pieces
1-2 pickle spears cut into very small pieces
2-3 chicken breast, cooked and cut into bite size pieces


In a medium mixing bowl combine all of the ingredients through black pepper. Taste test along the way and add more hot sauce if you want it spicier and more blue cheese dressing if you want it creamier. When you have the right flavor add the chicken pieces, celery and pickle.