Sunday, July 17, 2022

Texas Caviar: Delicious, Healthy Summer Salad

 My husband is trying hard to be heart-healthy, so we have been modifying our meals to be much more plant based. I'm not a gourmet cook by any stretch, and I think I often under season our food. So trying to find yummy foods that avoid meat and dairy is daunting. And to be honest, I also want EASY. 

As a result, I was so excited when I discovered this recipe. Oddly enough, I found it in a monthly magazine that we receive from the electric company that provides power to our rural property. 

The salad lasts beautifully in the fridge for several days. In fact, it becomes even more flavorful as it marinates in the dressing. If I am serving it to a large group, I include the avocado. If we, just the two of us, eat it over a period of several days, I add the avocado as I serve it so that it doesn't turn brown and mushy. The recipe includes bacon, but I simply leave it out to make it vegan. This dish has become a menu staple; I make it almost every week.


1 can (15 ounces) black eyed peas, rinsed and drained (I often use garbanzo beans or other white beans)

1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained

1 cup corn, canned or thawed from frozen (I don't want to waste any of the corn, so I use the entire can)

1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced

1/2 cup diced red onion (if I don't have red, I use white instead)

1 cup halved grape tomatoes

2 slices crisp-cooked bacon, chopped (optional)

1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1 avocado, diced

The dressing:

1/2 c olive oil

1/4 c red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon lime juice

1 teaspon sugar

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cummin

1/2 teaspoon pepper

Drain and rinse beans. Slice and seed red pepper. Peel and dice onion. Chop cilantro. Half tomatoes. Peel and dice avocado. Cook, drain, and chop bacon. Combine all ingredients in a medium sized bowl. Mix dressing and toss with the salad. Chill and serve.


Friday, April 29, 2022

Belly of the Dragon

Isn't the name of this hike enough to pique your interest? All the credit for this gem of a hike goes to my friend Roni who, upon hearing we were heading to Zion National Park over spring break, suggested we tack on this small hike as well. It's just outside Kanab, UT, a quick 14 mile drive away from the East Entrance to Zion.

We still have a 2-year-old in tow, so short and interesting hikes are our go-tos (no Angel's Landing for us this year). Belly of the Dragon fits the bill perfectly; it's a brief hike through a man-made tunnel under highway 89 for water drainage. People grumble online about the "man-made" aspect, and yes, it would be rad if it was an actual lava tube or whatever would create this curious cave naturally. Still, our three boys enjoyed the fascinating scramble through the waving rocks (and so did I).

Happily for us, Google maps did a great job navigating to the dirt access road off the highway and  parking area near the entrance. There is a bit of a ledge to lower yourself (or your kids) down to reach the cave entrance. 

But the ledge is the hardest part, and now you're free to enter the dragon! The cave is short enough that we could see the light at the far end, but we ended up using our phones' flashlights for some extra visibility (and got comments from all our fellow hikers about how great our kids' light-up shoes were in the cavern).

Made it to the other side! Short and sweet. We didn't keep hiking past the cave, though supposedly it goes on for a few miles.

I thought it was well worth the stop on our way to Zion, a perfect little hike with the kids.