Eat Inspire Sides

Red, White & Black Bean Salad

I cannot believe that the 4 of July is actually 4 days away. Well, really, it’s 3 days away because our community is celebrating the 4th of July on the 3rd of July which is Saturday rather than the 4th of July which falls on a Sunday. Don’t ask me why.

Are you confused?

Me too.

Welcome to my life.

Well , what I do know for sure is that it’s this weekend and that it’s just too soon.

Time just flies and I want to slow it down. But no matter how hard I try, it just seems to keep on marching along.

You see the 4th of July is a BIG DEAL here in suburbia. Friends and relatives, classmates and graduates, the old and the young, you name it, they all come home to celebrate the 4th of July here in our community. Every 4th of July or 3rd of July this year, the festivities begin with the traditional 6:30 a.m. bull horn wake up call that our Civic Association so dutifully carries out assigned by those that choose to pay for the experience. People set up their lawn chairs and rope off areas with signs to save their space on the parade route a week before the parade actually takes place.

I’m serious. It’s a sight to behold.

The red, white and blue stars that decorate the center of the streets are repainted diligently every… single… year.

After the parade, the entire community and all of those relatives, classmates, graduates etc. spend the day celebrating at the park with games, bicycle rides, food and reunions. This carries on until the other local park opens its’ doors for the evenings festivities. There are huge round tables covered in white tablecloths for friends and family to gather around and enjoy dinner and refreshments. There is a table centerpiece contest for those who choose to join in. And did I mention a band? Yes, there is also a band for your listening enjoyment until dusk when the attention turns to the skies for the fabulous fireworks display. Once again, this is all thanks to our fine UA Civic Association.

As I said before, the 4th of July is a very big deal.

Equally as important is the food.

Everyone feasts on fabulous fare all day long and while it’s not spoken out loud, the food that one prepares and shares is VERY IMPORTANT.

So this year I’ve decided to blow everyone away with my “Red, White & Black Bean” salad. I mean what could possibly be more all American than beans? Especially when pared with vegetables and fresh herbs? Not to mention beans are packed with protein and who doesn’t need an energy boost on a marathon day like the 4th of July?

Here’s the deal.

It’s easy as pie.

Don’t tell anyone though. Just proudly carry you salad into your celebration on your hip as your personal sacrifice to your country and assure your fans that they were indeed worth all of the trouble.

These are the simple and patriotic ingredients.

Black beans, cannellini beans, Roma tomatoes, green onions, red pepper, salsa, red wine vinegar and fresh cilantro.

The first thing that you want to do is drain and rinse the beans.

A bean bath if you will.

Next rinse the veggies and cilantro and get ready to chop.

Dice the red peppers.

Slice the green onions.

Look how pretty it’s looking all ready.

Dice the tomatoes.

Now chop the fresh cilantro.

Heavens does this smell like summer.

Put all of the ingredients in a big bowl.

Have you ever seen anything so lovely and all American?

Next the dressing.

We must dress the salad. Especially on the 4th of July.

Pour the red wine vinegar into the salsa and add a generous pinch of salt & pepper and mix.

Then pour the dressing all over the beans & veggies.

Gently toss and get ready to have a delightfully patriotic 4th (or 3rd in my case) of July.

I mean who can celebrate the 4th of July without a Red, White & Black Bean salad?

Not me.

And all of suburbia, that’s who.

Have a safe and delightful 4th of July!


Here’s the printable recipe:

Red White & Black Bean Salad
Adapted from Southern Living Cookbook
(Makes 6 servings)


  • 1  (15-ounce) can cannellini beans rinsed & drained
  • 1 (15 ounce-can) black beans rinsed & drained
  • 3 Roma tomatoes
  • 1 red pepper
  • 4 green onions, sliced
  • 1/2 cup salsa
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • Pinch of salt & pepper


Combine all vegetables and cilantro in a big bowl.

Mix salsa, red wine vinegar, salt & pepper and pour over vegetables.

Gently toss & enjoy!

Eat Sides

Rosemary Garlic Sweet Potato Fries

My Yanni and I have a favorite local restaurant here in town called Northstar. Let me just tell you, it’s fabulous! Their food is all organic, fresh and incredible every time. We both adore their rosemary garlic sweet potato fries. I could just eat a whole entire plate of those fries and nothing else and be as happy as a little lark.

Well, until I start craving their black bean burger with extra pickle or start dreaming about the turkey chop salad with granny smith apples and blue cheese.

But this post is about the sweet potato fries, so I’ll carry on.

Every single time we go there to eat, I comment, in between bites of divine sweet potato fries, that I simply MUST make the fries for all of us to enjoy at home.

And guess what? This is your lucky day, because I did make them and they were fabulous.

Trust me on this.

First you must get your hands on some sweet potatoes. I bought two 120z bags of pre-cut fresh sweet potato fries from Trader Joe’s (next time may buy 3 or 4 bags because we ALL devoured them).  You can find them in the refrigerated section. I liked the size of the slices, not too big, not too small. But if you prefer slicing them yourself, well then by all means, please do.

All that you’ll need in addition to the sweet potatoes, is one bunch of rosemary, about 5 cloves of garlic (more if you like) extra virgin olive oil and some coarse salt.

Now, grab the olive oil and a big bowl.

And pour the olive oil all over those darling little slices of sweet potato.

Don’t be shy, make sure that there’s enough to coat all of the slices evenly.

Next grab your garlic and rosemary…

Make sure to take a big whiff of the rosemary, it’s good for your memory.

Well, I’m not exactly sure if it’s really good for your memory, but I do know that the memories of the scent will keep a smile on your face all day long.

So sniff away.

Peel the garlic. I left mine whole because that’s what Northstar did, but once again you do what makes your little heart happy. Slice away if you wish!

Now cut your rosemary in 3-4 inch pieces.

Grab a few generous pinches of salt and sprinkle them over the top.

Now  push up your sleeves and toss a few times with your hands.

Evenly spread the sweet potatoes, garlic and rosemary mixture on a cookie sheet.

Cook at 400º F. for 20 minutes, then give the fries a little flip and cook for 10-15 more minutes until they’re nice and golden brown.

Voila! You now have mouth watering rosemary garlic sweet potato fries at your finger tips!

The most difficult part is waiting until they’ve cooled enough to enjoy. I learned that the hard way.

But it was so worth it!



Rosemary Garlic Sweet Potato Fries Recipe


2  120z bags of sweet potato fries
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
5 garlic cloves (more if you like)
1 bunch of rosemary
2 generous pinches of coarse salt


-Begin by preheating your oven to 400º F.

-Peel the garlic

-Rinse, pat dry and cut rosemary stalks into 3-4 inch pieces

-Put sweet potato fries in a bowl, add all other ingredients and toss well, make sure to cover slices evenly

-Spread evenly on a cookie sheet

Cook for 20 minutes, then give the fries a good toss and cook for 10-15 minutes longer until golden brown

-When done, cool (so you don’t burn your mouth like I did) and enjoy!

Eat Sides

Roasted Asparagus with Fresh Parmesan Cheese

I love asparagus. I love fresh, simple food. I love Farmer’s Markets.

These are just a few of my favorite things.

I love to take advantage of the fresh, seasonal food that I have at my finger tips by shopping at all the local Farmer’s Markets. It’s not only delicious but also a soul satisfying adventure. The best food I’ve ever tasted is…




Sometimes I think that we all get too caught up in thinking that cooking is too complicated and laborious. Well, I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be. Actually, it shouldn’t be.  I love the cooking experience that satisfies the soul as well as the appetite.

Last weekend I ventured off to the Worthington Farmer’s Market, a local Farmer’s Market that I frequent on a regular basis.  I was on the look out for some yummy, fresh, simple produce. And boy let me tell you, I wasn’t disappointed!  Every season has so many lovely fruits to bear and I just couldn’t walk away without grabbing up some gorgeous asparagus!

Have you ever tried roasting asparagus? It is divine! The flavors just burst! And the outside becomes caramelized and it makes for a succulent side dish that you will make over and over, time and time again.

These are the simple ingredients-

  • Fresh asparagus
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • Parmesan cheese
  • course salt & pepper

First you want to wash the asparagus in cold water.

Next make sure to cut off the bottom 1-2 inches of the stalks (maybe less depending on the length of the stalks). The bottoms are very fibrous, not tender and yummy like the rest of the stalk.

In addition to cutting off the bottoms, I have found that peeling the bottoms of each stalk makes the entire asparagus experience perfection! Who wants to bite into a fibrous piece of asparagus? Yuck-o. Not me that’s who, but if you don’t mind than go ahead a skip this step.

Place the asparagus on a cookie sheet, and just douse the daylights out of the asparagus with some good extra virgin olive oil!  Don’t be shy now, the olive oil helps the asparagus to get all crispy and caramelized on the outside!

Next sprinkle a few  pinches of course salt & pepper.

*Note, I’m fully aware that my baking sheets have been very loved. Perhaps if My Yanni is reading this he will make a mental note to surprise with more sometime. It’s just a thought.

Now place the asparagus into a 400° for 15-20 minutes. I turned mine over after 15 minutes and cooked for 10 minutes longer, I like my asparagus nice and crispy on the outside!

And oh my stars, let me just tell you how fabulous my kitchen smells at this very minute! I can hardly wait to sink my teeth into those crispy, caramelized on the outside, all tender and succulent on the inside, spears of deliciousness.

But can you guess what I’m going to do next?

It gets even better.

If you can imagine that.

Pick up your wedge of Parmesan cheese and grate it all over the pipping hot asparagus.

Oh. My. Heaven.

Doesn’t that just look like a celebration?

Well let me tell you it is!

I said it before and I’ll say it again.

I love asparagus. I love fresh, simple food. I love Farmer’s Markets.

These are just a few of my favorite things that I hope you will enjoy too.

Bon Appetit!



1 Potato, 2 Potato, Sweet Potato, 4…

My Yanni is an awesome cook and an EXCEPTIONAL grill master! When it comes to the grill, he’s in charge… Yes honey, I said it out loud,

“You’re in charge of the grill”.

I bow down to you almighty grill master… you can do no wrong on the grill…you are my big strong grill master, I am so lucky to have thee.

O.k. enough said. (did I lay it on a bit too to thick?)

All joking aside, he really is phenomenal when it comes to his grill. (And it’s a good thing too, because he switched to a charcoal grill last year, and I couldn’t start the blasted thing if my life depended on it. )

About two summers ago or so, My Yanni came up with this delicious Spicy Sweet Potato recipe and it’s been a show stopper ever since! Wait until you see how easy and fun it is! (unless you have to start a charcoal grill of course).

You’ll need sweet potatoes (as many as you think will happily fill the bellies of all involved in eating them). We used 4, which makes one potato per person, ( 1 potato, 2 potato, 3 potato….4) Make sure to have enough… I’m just sayin’ they really are grilldillyicious and everyone will be wanting their fair share!

Grab a cutting board a bowl, and a sharp knife.

Next, slice the sweet potatoes into 1 inch rounds (I would like to take this moment to thank My Yanni for not only this recipe, but also his willingness to be my hand model and slicer).


Thank you to My Yanni, my grill master and now hand model and slicer.

Now grab some extra virgin olive oil, coarse salt (which is hiding down inside that cute little milk glass ramekin that was not filled to the top for this photo) and some cayenne pepper.

Slather the olive oil all over those sweet potatoes, and shake a generous amount of cayenne pepper and a pinch or two of salt.

Again, thanks to My  Yanni for his tireless efforts in assisting me as my hand model and oh yes, my almighty grill master. And cayenne pepper shaker.

The sweet potatoes should look something like this moments before they meet the grill.

Note: and your dog should look something like that…all “who me?” in the distance waiting for a morsel of yummyness to fall to the ground.

Place the sweet potatoes on the grill and let them cook about 10 minutes on each side until they get beautiful and puffy…

two words that don’t sound nearly as pleasant when used in a sentence that describes myself however.

The end result should look something like this…

gorgeous crispy, salty, spicy on the outside and sweet tender melt in your mouth on the inside.

So whaddaya waiting for?



Here’s the fun and easy recipe, no “grill master” abilities necessary!

Spicy Sweet Potatoes

You’ll need:

  • Sweet potatoes (about 1 per person)
  • olive oil
  • course salt
  • cayenne pepper

Slice potatoes in to 1 inch rounds, mix with enough olive oil to generously coat each slice. Sprinkle some cayenne generously (I like it hot) all over the slices and throw in a few pinches of salt.

Place slices on a hot grill, cook 10 minutes on each side, until they develop gorgeous grill marks and look slightly puffy.


Also, if you’re looking for other grill recipes, check out  Our Homeschool Home!