Rice and Beans

To me, “rice and beans” by definition is white rice with black beans (cooked with onion and bell pepper) but after living in the Alabama where pinto beans seem to be more popular and living in the Florida panhandle where there’s a lot of New Orleans influence, rice and beans has come to be a very ambiguous term.

This recipe for rice and beans refers to black beans. Although similar to my mother’s recipe, this one is actually adapted from my brother’s fiancé.

Black Beans


  • 1-2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 1/2 green bell pepper
  • 2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 shakes hot sauce
  • S+P


  1. Saute onion and pepper in olive oil for 3-4 minutes. Season with garlic powder, cumin, salt and pepper. Add in black beans, 1/4 can water, bay leaf, and hot sauce.
  2. Cook covered over med-low heat 25 minutes.
  3. Serve with cooked white rice and cream cheese*.

*I have a recommendation that will sound strange – serve cream cheese with your rice and beans. Trust me on this one. I think my mom was the first person to try this – she says it is common to eat rice and beans with Edam cheese. As delicious as Edam is (it’s one of my favorite cheeses) the slight tang and the creaminess you get from cream cheese compliments the bold flavor of black beans. (If you think of it like sour cream it doesn’t sound as crazy.) Take your fork, get a little cream cheese and then dig into the rice and beans! Perfect.


Quita’s Shrimp

I have mentioned my mom’s mom, Busia, on my blog before and it is now time to “introduce” you to my dad’s mom, Quita.

You’re probably thinking I have very strange names for my grandparents. Busia (boo-sha) is the Americanized Polish for grandmother and Quita (pronounced kee-ta) is the Lauren-ized Dominican for Abuelita. When I was young, I couldn’t pronounce Abuelita and being the first grandchild on my dad’s side of the family, it stuck! Funnily enough though only my brother and I call her Quita. My cousins use the traditional Abuelita and Abuelito while my youngest cousin calls them Mami and Papi.

So what do I call my grandfather? Taita (tie-ta). This one is my grandfather’s creation and the origin is debatable.

This shrimp recipe is a party favorite. It is a room temperature salad of cocktail shrimp, onions, and peppers in a bright vinaigrette. The recipe I followed didn’t have the amounts of each ingredient, but I used my best judgment. When I pulled it out of the fridge it smelled perfect – just as I remember. Upon tasting it I was a little heavy handed with the olive oil, but with a little more salt and a dash more vinegar and I was back on track.

Quita’s Shrimp


  • 1 lb cocktail shrimp
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 1 bell pepper, thinly sliced (Quita uses green but I had orange on hand)
  • 2 tsp capers
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 heaping tbsp cocktail sauce
  • 2/3 C apple cider vinegar
  • 1 – 1 1/2 C extra virgin olive oil, to taste
  • Salt and Pepper, to taste


  1. Combine all ingredients. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least an hour. Bring to room temperature before serving.