Category Archives: vacation

Gallo Pinto (Costa Rican Rice and Beans)

IMG_3625We just got back from a vacation in Costa Rica (Playa Flamingo to be exact, go book your trip now!)  where we spent a week in the ocean, hanging at a resort pool (complete with a swim up bar), having beach bonfires, doing yoga with an ocean view and having all sorts of adventures with a bunch of our pals. The reason for the trip was that our friends Nate + Sarah decided to get hitched in the paradise you see in the picture above. Geniuses.

It was great and so was the food. We ate rice and beans as a part of almost every meal for a seven days and when we got home the first thing Brent wanted to do was recreate the recipe, so we did.

photo (6)
Gallo Pinto
adapted from Vegetarian Times


  • 1 tablespoon olive or canola oil
  • 1 medium-sized onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups cooked brown or rice
  • 2 cups cooked or canned black beans, drained, rinsed and liquid reserved
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1-2 tablespoons Vegetarian Worcestershire sauce (or Salsa Lizano if you are lucky enough to have it or want to buy it on
  • Juice of 1/2 a lime (or more, to taste)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste


  1. Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat, and add onion. When onion starts to turn a little translucent, add garlic, and sauté for about 3 minutes, or until onion is golden brown.
  2. Stir in 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce to the onions and garlic.
  3. Add in the cumin, coriander, ginger with to the onions and garlic, mix until incorporated.
  4. Stir in rice, beans and seasonings, combining well. Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup liquid from canned beans, if desired, to make the rice a little more moist, or as the recipe says “dirty.” I did this and it did bump up the flavor a bit.
  5. Cook until heated through, and add lime juice, salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Add another tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce or Salsa Lizano to the mix if you feel like your beans are missing a little seasoning. I only used 1.25 tablespoons and I thought it tasted great.

The original recipe called for an additional cup of rice, but I wanted a more even bean to rice ration. If you want to add that additional cup, just add an extra tablespoon of worcestershire or Salsa Lizano. I also used brown rice and it tastes great (and is better for you) I also really like squeezing a bit of lime over the beans after I re-heat them. Feel free to top with cilantro or green onion too.

My view today is of clouds and city, not of beaches and palm trees,  but at least I can eat this at work and pretend I’m back in Costa Rica… right?


Asian Noodle Salad

It’s spring and this awesome weather is the start of backyard parties and BBQ’s in Minnesota. It’s been nice for about two weeks, and I have been to three backyard happenings  so far. What does this mean for this blog? The introduction of a whole range of summer side dishes!

I like to bring something that will not spoil in the heat, that is relatively healthy, that people will enjoy and eat so I don’t have to bring home a ton of leftovers!

This Asian Noodle Salad gets made by tons of people with tons of different recipes. This version is one my Mom made up that we call “Mom’s Rip Off of Whole Foods Asian Noodle Salad.” IT’S VEGAN!

The Ingredients:

1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/3 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
Kosher salt

Noodles + etc.:
1 pound thin spaghetti (I use the white pasta)
2 tablespoons black sesame seeds, toasted for a few minutes in a dry fry pan (I was out and used white, but it wasn’t the same!)
1 red bell pepper, cored and seeded, and thinly sliced
2 carrots, julienned
4 scallions (with and green parts), sliced diagonally
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the spaghetti and cook according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

2. For the dressing; whisk together the vegetable oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, honey or brown sugar, garlic, ginger, and salt in a medium bowl. Or mix it in a mason jar, like I did.

3. Combine the spaghetti, carrots, red peppers and scallions in a large bowl. Pour the dressing over the spaghetti mixture and mix. Add the cilantro and sesame seeds and mix again.There will be a bit of extra dressing in the bottom of your bowl which will get soaked up by the noodles. I like to make this dish the night before to let the dressing properly soak in and coat all the noodles; it just tastes better.

Another tip, it tastes better at room temperature, so it’s perfect for backyard parties where everyone is eating at their own pace.

Delicious and super easy.

Vegas Food

I spent last weekend in Las Vegas for a bachelorette party.  It was my very first time in Vegas, and it was so much fun. My BFFs, sunny +  hot weather, pools, “free” drinks, clubs that play dance music, awesome people watching and a town of visitors who have lost all concept of time.

Everywhere we ate was great, and the customer service is to die for. This seriously is the land of hospitality; free drinks, free champagne, free desserts, nice staff and best of all; super accommodating to a vegetarian diet.  We had great meals and great service at Lakeside Grill, Tableau, Beso, Rare 120 and the mecca: the breakfast buffet @ the Wynn.

I read a Time article about the 10 things to do in Vegas and one of them was the breakfast buffet at the Wynn where we were staying.

It. Was. Awesome. The breakfast buffet was $21.50 ($20 + tax) and worth every penny! We got to the buffet at 10:30 so it was more like a brunch buffet… breakfast and lunch options. BONUS!!

This was a place where if you wanted to stay on your healthy eating track, you could do it! Temptation was everywhere, but it was still possible to load up on fruits, egg whites, salad, soup, etc. However, if you wanted to eat yourself silly with every cuisine imaginable (including fancy nachos and indian food!) and a dessert bar with beautiful treats, you could.

I decided I needed to take a video of the insanity that is the Wynn buffet for you all, so enjoy below. It’s a little fast and shaky, but please note I was running through a buffet line taking video with my cellphone, so I looked crazy.

If that isn’t a good enough plug for you to check it out, I’ll leave you with the mini cupcake of your dreams.

Thats right. GLITTER!