Black Bean Salad…Caribbean Style!

We recently returned from a fabulous trip to Stocking Island, a hidden jewel located in the Bahamas.  We stayed at the St. Francis Resort, a wonderful, quaint little place with only EIGHT rooms. How we managed to snag one of those rooms, I’ll never know.  I think we just got lucky!

George and Jill are the proprietors of this little slice of heaven, and they are the perfect hosts.  You truly feel welcome and part of the “local family” as soon as you arrive.

The beaches are private and pristine, and the water is gin clear!  There is world class bone fishing and snorkeling along the beautiful reefs and two blue holes that are very close by.  We kayaked, sailed, hiked and many times just relaxed with a book on the beach.  Thanks Jill and George…We can’t wait to return!



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I love the local food in the Caribbean and this salad takes me back to “island time”.   It’s quick, easy and full of flavor!

Black Bean Salad

Printable Recipe


  • 2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 1/2 cups frozen corn, thawed
  • 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 3/4 cup scallion (both green and white parts), thinly sliced
  • 1-2 fresh serrano peppers, diced **(see notes)
  • 1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
  • kosher salt to taste


In large bowl, combine beans, corn, tomato, scallion, serrano and cilantro.  In separate small bowl, whisk olive oil and lemon juice together and add to remaining ingredients.  Stir to combine, and salt to taste.

**Liz’s Notes:

  1. Jalapeno peppers can be substituted for serranos if milder heat is preferred.  Peppers can be omitted altogether for no heat.
  2. Do not substitute jarred or pickled peppers for fresh.

Olive-Pepperoni Kabobs/Birthday/Gender Reveal

Last weekend was a really big celebration at our house.  Hubby, who I’ve always refered to as “Marlboro Man”…I mean really, look at this picture.  For those of you old enough, does he not look JUST like the Marlboro Man of our day, minus the cigarette, of course?   Anyway, Marlboro Man had a birthday.

Marlboro Man

And Marlboro Man’s birthday cake contained a BIG surprise!  It was a Gender Reveal Cake.


Yes, it seems that these days, pregnant couples like to throw Gender Reveal parties.  Our youngest pregnant daughter, Alexis, and son-in-law, Chris, had just found out what they were having, so they decided to reveal that surprise with Marlboro Man’s birthday cake.  TOO CUTE!  Watch the video below to find out whether I’ll be dressing my first grand baby in pink or blue!

Alexis also brought a beautiful platter of appetizers to the party.  Not only are these REALLY good, but they make a GORGEOUS platter!  You merely thread pepperoni or salami, provolone cheese, olives and maybe some cherry tomatoes onto a rosemary skewer.  Her rosemary happened to be in bloom, which made the platter even prettier with the purple flowers on the end!  Here’s a picture of just one:

Olive-Pepperoni Kabobs

And here’s a picture of a whole platter of them!

Olive-Pepperoni Kabobs

Olive-Pepperoni Kabobs

adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Special Ultimate Italian Magazine

Printable Recipe


  • 12 5-inch fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 12 4 x 1 inch thin slices provolone cheese
  • 12 2-inch thin slices pepperoni and/or salami
  • 12 assorted pitted Italian olives
  • 12 cherry tomatoes


Strip leaves from rosemary sprigs, leaving 1 inch of foliage at one end of each sprig.  Arrange a slice of cheese, a slice of pepperoni, an olive and a tomato on each rosemary skewer.  Makes 12 servings.

Marinated Mushrooms and Artichokes

The word “Antipasto” means “before the meal” and traditionally, is the first course of a formal Italian meal. If you compare antipasto to hors d’oeuvres, there are actually several distinctions between them. Hors d’oeuvres are served while guests are still standing and tend to be served off trays in the most formal settings or placed on a table. Hors d’oeuvres are also enjoyed with drinks prior to the meal. On the other hand, antipasto is served at the table and signifies the beginning of the Italian meal. Antipasto can consist of many different things, the most traditional being cured meats, marinated vegetables, olives, and various cheeses.

I love having friends over for wine tastings.  It’s a great way to try new and different wines, and, for me, it’s a great way to try new and different appetizers. This recipe is one I just recently discovered in a Better Homes and Garden Special “Ultimate Italian” magazine I picked up in the grocery store.  If you see it, buy it…there’s not a bad looking recipe in the whole magazine!  This recipe for antipasto spoke to me, though.   It’s easy, full of flavor and can be prepared the day before you plan to eat it (a definite plus in my book!)  I used frozen artichokes, but if your grocery store doesn’t carry them, canned will work just fine.


Marinated Mushrooms and Artichokes


Marinated Mushrooms and Artichokes

slightly adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Magazine

Prep: 25 minutes  Marinate: 8 hours   Stand: 30 minutes

Printable Recipe


  • 8 ounces fresh mushrooms (cremini or button are good–if small, leave whole…otherwise halve)
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon snipped fresh oregano
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 (8-9 ounce) package frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and drained if necessary
  • 1 1/2 cups pitted green and/or ripe olives (I used Kalamata)
  • 1/2 cup roasted red pepper strips (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley for garnish (optional)


In a large saucepan, combine mushrooms, water, juice garlic and 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Bring to boiling; reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 10 minutes.  Drain; cool slightly.

Meanwhile, for marinade: In a large bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, oregano, mustard, and 1/4 teaspoon salt.  Add mushrooms, artichoke hearts, olives, and if desired, crushed red pepper and roasted red pepper; toss gently to coat.  Cover and marinate in the refrigerator 8 to 24 hours, stirring occasionally.

Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.  Garnish with chopped fresh parsley, if desired. Use wooden toothpicks or skewers to serve.

Tuscan Shrimp with White Beans

Here at my house, we entertain “almost” every weekend.  Therefore, I’m always on the lookout for really good, flavor-packed appetizers.  I made my  weekly trip to my new favorite seafood shop, Groomer Seafood, today and they had their shrimp on special. That was perfect since I’d been wanting to try an Italian shrimp dish I’d seen Michael Chiarello prepare on the new Cooking Channel. This great change in temperature we’ve experienced the last few mornings (mid 50s) has really put me in the cooking mood!  This dish is what I’d call “Rustic Italian”…easy, full of flavor and definitely a crowd pleaser! Instead of an appetizer, I doubled the recipe and served it as a main course.  Open up a bottle of Italian wine (Chianti is good!), grab some good garlic bread to soak up the juices, and dinner is served!

Tuscan Shrimp with White Beans

Tuscan Shrimp with White Beans

Adapted from Michael Chiarello

Serves 4 as an appetizer, 2 as a main course

Printable Recipe


  • 3 cups canned cannellini beans
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 16 large shrimp, peeled and deveined (can leave tails on for presentation)
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1/2 – 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more to taste)
  • 1 cup canned tomatoes (preferably San Marzano) diced
  • 2 cups whole basil leaves
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons Italian flat-leaf parsley, chopped
  • best quality extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling


Drain beans over a bowl and reserve the liquid.  Put beans into a large skillet with just enough of their liquid to moisten them. Add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and bring the beans to a low simmer.  Keep them warm while you prepare the shrimp.

Heat 1/4 cup oil in a large, non-stick skillet over high heat.  Pat shrimp dry with paper towels, and add to skillet.  Season with salt and cook about 1 minute, tossing frequently (you actually want them to be undercooked a bit, as they will finish cooking at the end).   Remove with slotted spoon to a bowl.  Add garlic to remaining oil in pan and saute until lightly browned (careful not to burn).   Add red pepper flakes and basil and toss briefly.  Add tomatoes, stir, then add lemon juice. Season to taste with salt & pepper.  Cook for about 1 minute, then stir in the shrimp with their juices.  Toss well and cook briefly to reheat the shrimp.  Plate the beans onto a platter, drizzle with the best olive oil you have, then top with the shrimp mixture.  Serve with crusty bread & a good bottle of red wine.  🙂

Steamed Mussels in Thai Curry Sauce-Groomer Seafood

I LOVE a fabulous find!!! Especially if it’s a great pair of “to die for” shoes that are on sale!  My latest find, however, has to do with food….specifically, SEAFOOD!   Groomer Seafood (go ahead…click the link and read all about them…while you’re at it, sign up for their emails and put my name in the referral box!) has got to be the best kept little secret in San Antonio!  I’m guessing from the crowd that was there on Saturday morning, though, that maybe they aren’t exactly a secret at all!  Maybe I’m the only one in town that didn’t know about them!  Well, not anymore…from now on, believe me, I’m a regular customer!

The Groomer family has been supplying seafood in Texas for over 100 years!  They supply to restaurants, hotels and country clubs all  across Texas.  Now, they even have a website for you “non-locals” to have fresh seafood delivered to your front door!  You won’t believe the selection these folks have…things I’d never even heard of!  I ended up buying some of their Tasmanian Salmon, and let me tell you, it was the BEST salmon we’ve ever had!  They also had a special that day for Redfish on the half-shell, so I bought some of that to throw on the grill! FABULOUS!  After talking with Michael Groomer, I found out their seafood is flown in from all over the world…just as soon as it comes off the boat! That means MUCH fresher fish for us than what our grocery stores can provide!  And the best part is their prices are LESS than the grocery stores!  It’s a WIN/WIN! Do yourself a favor…if you haven’t been to Groomer Seafood, make the trip!  You’ll be SO glad you did!

Three days after my first trip, I found myself there to load up again!  This time, along with more of that great Tasmanian Salmon, I decided to try their New Zealand Green-Lipped Mussels!  Look how pretty these are!  If you like mussels, give this Thai dish a try!  My guys LOVE it!

New Zealand Green-Lipped Mussels

Steamed Mussels in Thai Curry Sauce

Steamed Mussels in Thai Curry Sauce

slightly adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine

Printable Recipe


2 13.5-ounce cans unsweetened coconut milk* (3 1/2 cups)
2 teaspoons Thai red curry paste*
1 cup chicken stock or canned low-salt chicken broth
1/2 cup (packed) fresh basil leaves
2 stalks lemongrass, trimmed, coarsely chopped (about 1/3 cup) or 1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons fish sauce (nam pla)*
3 kaffir lime leaves** or 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice plus 1 1/2 teaspoons grated lime peel

2 tablespoons peanut oil
3 pounds mussels, scrubbed, debearded
4 plum tomatoes, diced (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro


Bring coconut milk to boil in heavy large saucepan. Reduce heat to medium; add curry paste and whisk until dissolved. Add next 6 ingredients. Simmer uncovered 10 minutes. Strain into bowl.
Heat peanut oil in large deep skillet over high heat. Add mussels. Sauté 2 minutes. Add strained curry sauce. Cover and cook until mussels open, about 4 minutes (discard any mussels that do not open). Transfer to large serving bowl. Sprinkle with tomatoes and cilantro and serve.

*Available in the Asian foods section of some supermarkets.
**Available at Asian Markets

Shrimp Ceviche-Happy Birthday Will!

Today is my son, Will’s, 14th birthday.  As usual, I asked in advance what he’d like me to prepare for his birthday meal.  Most kids see their birthday as an opportunity to “splurge” and have something they don’t get very often.  Well my kid is no different.  The difference is he doesn’t get “kid” food very often, so THAT’S a splurge for him.  Here’s our conversation:

Me: “So, Will, do you want me to cook anything special for your birthday?  (Knowing Will, it’s not unexpected for him to ask for Lobster or maybe filet mignon–not that he’d get it, but he certainly has a very sophisticated palate for a kid his age. )

Will: “Hmmmm…Hamburgers might be good….and that really good potato salad.  You know, the kind you can buy already made up from the grocery store.  And maybe some pasta salad, too…the kind you can get at Costco! mmmmm…that sounds really good!  And don’t forget those beans I really like…you know…the ones in the black can. I think they’re called Ranch Style beans.  I LOVE those beans!”

And so there you have it.  All I had to do was make a trip to the grocery store, buy some canned beans, a couple of already prepared salads, have Dad throw some burgers on the grill, and my kid is a HAPPY CAMPER!  I love boys…they’re SO easy to please! Come to think of it, it really doesn’t change when they’re all grown up.  How does that saying go? Something like…….”Men are easy to please…just show up naked and bring beer!” They’re such simple creatures!

Since I really don’t need to blog about or show pictures of opening a can of Ranch Style beans, I thought I’d give you the recipe for the one thing that I DID get to prepare today.   My version of Shrimp Ceviche.  For those of you who wouldn’t be caught dead eating fish that’s not cooked, don’t worry.  Everything in my version is precooked.  It’s easy to put together and is great for a crowd!  This goes out to Danielle and Veronica.  Glad you liked it! Happy Birthday Will!

Shrimp Ceviche-Liz Style

Shrimp Ceviche-Liz Style

Printable Recipe


1/2 bag of the frozen precooked “salad shrimp” (from Costco), thawed

3/4 cup fresh lime juice

2 teaspoons grated lime zest

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 1/2 cup chopped white onion

2 serrano chilies, finely chopped (or more to taste)

1 garlic clove, minced

1 cup diced tomatoes

1 cup drained pimiento-stuffed green olives, chopped

3/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro


Chop thawed shrimp and place into large bowl.  Add remaining ingredients, stir to blend. Cover and refrigerate about an hour before serving.  Serve with chips.

Slow Roasted Tomatoes…a little slice of heaven!

Is the tomato a fruit or a vegetable?

“To really figure out if a tomato is a fruit or vegetable, you need to know what makes a fruit a fruit, and a vegetable a vegetable. The big question to ask is, DOES IT HAVE SEEDS? If the answer is yes, then technically, (botanically) you have a FRUIT. This, of course, makes your tomato a fruit. It also makes cucumbers, squash, green beans and walnuts all fruits as well. Along with the fruit from a plant or tree, we can often eat the leaves(lettuce,) stems(celery,) roots (carrots,) and flowers (broccoli.) Many of these other parts of the plant are typically referred to as VEGETABLES. Now don’t go looking for tomatoes next to the oranges in your grocery stores; fruits like tomatoes and green beans are usually (alas, incorrectly) referred to as “vegetables” in most grocery stores and cookbooks.”

One of my favorite things about summer is the bounty of fresh tomatoes coming from our garden.  There’s nothing better than a “still warm from the sun” sliced tomato sprinkled with a little sea salt.  I could eat them all day!  A few years ago, I tried a recipe from Fine Cooking Magazine for Slow-Roasted Tomatoes.  When I have more than I can eat coming from the garden, I’ll pop them into the oven for about 3 hours and let them do their magic.  The results are so delicious, as the slow-roasting concentrates and caramelizes the flavor.  The aroma throughout the house is incredible, as well!  I’ve been known to buy the box of beefsteak tomatoes from Costco during the winter months, just for slow roasting! For an easy hors d’oeuvre, top some warm goat cheese with some of the chopped tomatoes, a few pine nuts and a drizzle of pesto and serve with crackers.  For an antipasto, put the tomatoes on a platter with some olives, prosciutto, a hunk of really good Parmigiano-Reggiano and some crusty bread. They can also be tossed with pasta or just served as a side dish.  The possibilities are really endless!  A bonus is the wonderful, tomato-infused oil left over after roasting.  You can drizzle it over grilled veggies, crusty bread, or use it in a vinaigrette. If you love tomatoes, you’re gonna love this dish!

Slow-Roasted Tomatoes

Slow-Roasted Tomatoes

Fine Cooking Magazine

Printable Recipe


3 Tbs. plus 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
4-1/2 to 5 lb. medium-large ripe beefsteak tomatoes (about 12), stemmed but not cored
Kosher salt
Granulated sugar
Scant 1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
3 to 4 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced
2 Tbs. fresh thyme leaves
Tip: Don’t use unrimmed baking sheets or the oil and juices will spill out; instead, use several shallow gratin dishes if you don’t have rimmed baking sheets.

Heat the oven to 350°F. Line a 12×17-inch rimmed baking sheet or two 9×12-inch rimmed baking sheets with foil. If you have parchment, put a sheet on top of the foil. Coat the pan or pans with 3 Tbs. of the olive oil.
Cut the tomatoes in half through the equator (not through the stem). Arrange the halves, cut side up, on the baking sheet, turning to coat their bottoms with some of the oil. Sprinkle a pinch each of salt and sugar over each half, and drizzle each with a few drops of balsamic vinegar. Arrange the garlic over the halves and top with a generous sprinkling of thyme. Pour the remaining 1 cup olive oil over and around the tomato halves.

Roast in the center of the oven until the tomatoes are concentrated, dark reddish brown (with deep browning around the edges and in places on the pan) and quite collapsed (at least half their original height; they will collapse more as they cool), about 3 hours for very ripe, fleshy tomatoes, about 4 hours for tomatoes that are less ripe or that have a high water content. (Check on the tomatoes frequently after the first 1 1/2 hours.  If they are browning too quickly, reduce the oven temperature.) Let cool for at least 10 to 15 minutes and then serve warm or at room temperature. Be sure to reserve the tomato oil (keep refrigerated for up to a week) to use on its own or in a vinaigrette.

Plum tomato variation: Substitute plum tomatoes, cut in half through the stem end and seeded. The roasting time will be about 2 hours. Roasted plum tomato halves hold together particularly well; layer them in a terrine or roll them up, stuffed with goat cheese and basil, as an appetizer.

To store the tomatoes, refrigerate for up to a week or freeze for up to a couple of months. They’ll continue to release juice during storage.

Liz’s Note: I’m not near as precise as the recipe calls for.  First of all, mine aren’t always beefsteak tomatoes.  Any tomato will do, and if I don’t have enough to fill the pan, then I just roast what I have.  I also use more garlic and more thyme than called for (probably double, just cause I like both).  Depending on the meatiness of the tomatoes and how ripe they are will determine how long to roast them.  Keep a close eye on them after a couple of hours and reduce the heat if they start getting too brown.  They should literally collapse within themselves.  Mine will just about always take a good 3 hours roasted on the middle rack.

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