Category Archives: Appetizer

Black Bean and Roasted Corn Salad


Black Bean and Roasted Corn Salad 

This recipe is great for summer.  Chris and I do this every year when tomatoes and corn are in season.

(Adapted by my husband, Chris, from a Robert Irvine Recipe from Food Network)



  • ½ cup canola oil
  • 1 pound frozen corn kernels or about 4 ears fresh (do not use canned corn – it becomes gummy)
  • Garlic Powder to taste
  • Onion Powder to taste
  • Pinch of Cayenne Pepper
  • Salt (preferably fresh ground or kosher) and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 (24 total ounces) cans of black beans, drained
  • Fresh Tomato
  • And Fresh ¼ cup of Fresh Cilantro


Preheat Oven to 350 Degrees F.


Cut Corn off Cob.  Sauté Corn in Pan with Canola Oil, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Cayenne Pepper, Salt, and Black Pepper until slightly tender. Place in the oven until roasted (but not dried out) about 10 minutes.


Once you pull the corn out of the oven place in a bowl. Toss with Can of Black Beans. Then toss with simple homemade vinaigrette (see below). Garnish with fresh tomato and cilantro. Then serve. (Makes 4 servings)


Simple Homemade Vinaigrette:


  • ¼ cup of Balsamic or Red Wine Vinegar
  • 1 cup of Canola Oil
  • Salt
  • Pepper


Put vinegar and spices in bowl. Then whisk oil in until it emulsified.



7 Layer Taco Dip


7 Layer Taco Dip

When I was a kid and we were having a party, often times my mom would make what she called, Taco Pizza.  It was this 7 Layer Taco Dip.  She served it on a large round pizza pan — hence taco pizza  It was one of my favorite hors d’oeuvre.  It has all theses yummy layers that come together as a cacophony of flavor in your mouth.  I am going to a gathering tonight and this is what I am taking.


  • 1 small can of refried beans (I use vegan friendly ones)
  • 8 ounces of vegan sour cream mixed well with one packet of taco seasoning
  • 1 large tomato chopped and drained (I place the chopped tomato on a paper towel to absorb all the excess water)
  • Guacamole (see my homemade recipe below)
  • 1 can of sliced olives drained ( I used a can of large olives that I had on hand and chopped them myself and drained them on a paper towel)
  • Vegan Rice Cheddar (hand shredded)
  • Pickled Sliced Jalapeños
  • Blue Corn Tortilla Chips

For the first layer, spread the refried beans in the bottom of a 9 X 13 lasagna pan.  Then, on top of the beans, spread the sour cream/taco seasoning mixture.  Next layer is the tomatoes spread out.  Then slather the homemade guacamole over the tomatoes.  Next are the sliced olives.  Then hand shred the rice cheddar over top of everything.  Then dot with the jalapeños.  Serve with Blue Corn Tortilla Chips.  This can be made up ahead of time.  It allows the flavors the opportunity to marry together.  This dip is a colorful, flavorful, and festive dish for any fiesta.  Enjoy!

My Guacamole:

Start with a ripe avocado.  (You can tell it is ripe when you can press it and it yields.  If it does not yield, it is not yet ripe.  Put it back in the windowsill to continue ripening.  If you shake it and hear the pit rolling it is REALLY ripe.  Eat immediately ;o))  Cut around avocado until you have cut it in half.  Take blade of knife and hit against the pit until it is wedged in the pit.  Spin pit and it will pop out.  Hold 1/2 of avocado in hand and make slices one way and then slices the other.  Turn peel inside out and slice under avocado to pop out diced pieces.  Mash avocado.  Roll a lemon or lime.  Cut lemon or lime in half.  Squeeze juice on tope of smashed avocado, taking care to not get any seeds.  Like I said, I don’t measure, but the other ingredients include:  fresh cilantro, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper, and a scoop of your favorite salsa. Mix altogether. Serve with blue corn tortilla chips (or your favorite tortilla chips). So yummy!

Ranch Dip (or Dressing)


Last Monday, my Aunt Carolyn and Uncle Ray gave me some beautiful large scallions out of their garden.  I am not typically a green onion fan, but this week I found a wonderful use for them.  A while back my husband and I were watching Claire Robinson on Five Ingredient Fix, a cooking show, when she made a ranch dressing with just 5 ingredients.  Well this recipe is inspired from that one.  Simple yet refreshingly lovely.  I serve it with fresh raw veggies like:  broccoli, carrots, celery, cauliflower, tomatoes, yellow summer squash, zucchini, etc.


  • 8 ounces of Vegan Sour Cream* (for dressing use Vegan mayonnaise instead)
  • Fresh Scallions (I used 3 or 4 really big ones) coarsely chopped
  • 2 or 3 cloves of garlic (peeled)
  • Dill Weed
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Lemon Juice

In a food processor pulse together the garlic cloves and green onions.  Then fold into the sour cream.  Add other ingredients to taste.  Serve immediately.

*You can either buy Vegan Sour Cream or you can make your own:

Homemade Vegan Sour Cream:

  •   1 package of silken tofu
  •     1 tablespoon canola or olive oil
  •     4 to 5 teaspoons lemon juice
  •     2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  •     1 teaspoon stevia
  •     1/2 teaspoon salt

Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender.  Blend for several minutes, until very creamy and smooth.  Then refrigerate.  In addition to being a great base for the above ranch dip (or dressing), it is also great in mexican dishes and as a topper for baked potatoes.  It stays fresh for approximately 5 days.  (The homemade vegan sour cream recipe is adapted from Matt Eberhart.)

Fritto Misto with Vibrant Mustard Dipping Sauce


The first time I remember encountering and falling in love with Fritto Misto, I (as a college student) was sitting in a Venetian cafe on the Grand Canal, in view of the Rialto Bridge with my mom and dad.  It was a beautiful day with clear blue skies.  We were there celebrating Mother’s Day, watching the gondolas and water taxis pass by.  Then it was a heaping plate of beautifully fried seafood.  It was one of the best meals of my life.  I have had it since then, but none quite as good.  Tonight, my husband and I decided to try it out at home.  Instead of frying a mix of seafood, we decided to to a vegetable Fritto Misto.  This recipe would work with any mix of vegetables.  We did zucchini, carrots, and potatoes.  We took an Emeril Lagasse recipe and veganized it.


  • 2 cups of all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • 3 eggs worth of Ener-G Egg Replacer
  • Water (for thinning out the batter)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Canola Oil for Frying
Mix first 3 ingredients together; add water to thin till good batter consistency.  Season batter with salt and pepper.
  • zucchini
  • carrots
  • potatoes
  • broccoli
  • cauliflower
  • summer squash
  • or whatever vegetable you want

Heat Canola Oil to 350 degrees.  Once oil is hot dredge vegetables through batter and gingerly drop in the oil.  Fry till golden brown.  When you pull them out of the fryer.  Place them onto of a plate with a paper towel to drain grease.  Sprinkle with salt.  Serve immediately.  If you want, you can put them in a warming drawer until you have fried up all the veggies.

Dipping Sauce: 

  • Yellow Mustard
  • Creole Mustard
  • and a touch of vinegar
Whisk together and serve.
Marinara also makes a nice dipping sauce for Fritto Misto.

Fried Green Tomatoes


As we come to the end of summer, I am reminded of one of my favorite summer traditions, Fried Green Tomatoes.  Picture it.  It is a hot summer day.  My husband, Chris and I are traipsing around the tomato plants at a friend of ours farm.  We are picking both red and green tomatoes.  The aroma of tomatoes wafts in the air as the sun beats down.  Chris is giddy with the thought of fried green tomatoes.  We get the tomatoes home and wash them knowing soon they will be heavenly:  crunchy on the outside, tender on the inside, dipped in a spicy fun remoulade sauce.  Such a simple way to start a meal.  You cal also make them as a lunch.  These Fried Green Tomatoes are great served with a side salad of mixed greens with a homemade vinaigrette.

Here’s how we make them.  Before starting we whisk up the remoulade sauce (see below).  We get out the serving plates.  And we put paper towels on a plate.

Then we cook and play together.  We make our dredging stations.  And then we heat the oil.  We test the oil but sprinkling the cornmeal bread mixture in the oil.  When the crumbs dance the oil is ready.  I usually dredge and Chris fries.

For the tomatoes:


  • Green Tomatoes
  • Whole Grain Flour
  • Unsweetened Almond Milk
  • White Vinegar (1 Tbsp per cup of almond milk)
  • Corn Meal
  • Vegan Bread Crumbs
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Take Green tomatoes. Cut in 1/2 inch slices.

Set up dredging station.

  1. 1st station: whole grain flour.
  2. 2nd station: unsweetened almond milk + vinegar ( to simulate butter milk)
  3. 3rd station: 1/2 corn meal 1/2 bread crumbs + salt and pepper.
Keep one hand for dipping in flour and milk mixture and other hand for 3rd station.

Fry in enough oil so oil goes 1/2 way up tomatoes. Flip when you see golden brown coloration on bottom half. Lightly salt when it comes out of the frier. Drain on the plate with the paper towels.  Serve immediately

For the simple remoulade:


  • 3/4 cup Canola Oil
  • 1/4 cup of Lemon Juice
  • 2 tsp. Onion Powder
  • 2 tsp. Garlic Powder
  • 1 tsp. Salt
  • 1/8 tsp. Black Pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
  • 2 tbsp. prepared horseradish
  • 3 tbsp. Yellow Mustard
  • 3 tbsp.  Creole whole grain mustard
  • 3 tbsp. Ketchup

Put canola oil, lemon juice, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, horseradish, both mustards and ketchup in bowl and whisk together.