It’s OK To Be In The Can: Spicy Easy Bean Dip

spicy bean dip vegetarian recipe

It’s in the Can

I heart my iPhone 5…even though it has some glitches. Like I had to get the speaker replaced when all noises – text pings, Twitter tweets, phone chime, email bings etc stopped. And, for whatever reason…when my phone reaches 35% battery and I try to take and post a picture (sort of the way of life of a food blogger) it just shuts off. Telling me in it’s own Apple way that it’s done with the social media thing for that day. I’m OK with it, though.

iphone 5 texting vegetarian corn dip


One thing that does drive me crazy is the auto text correct. Sure, generally, the phone is right and I mean to type rosé, not rose. The phone seems to have picked up on summer wine season. So smart.

But, I almost…wait, I actually never mean to type that ‘I’m in the can.’ For whatever reason – maybe it’s because the iPhone speaks ‘Californian’ and those people don’t take cabs like we do in NYC – the iPhone refuses to accept that I’m in the ‘Cab’ not the ‘Can’. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to text ‘I mean Cab, not Can’ to people who are waiting for me and now think I have an ‘issue’.

That said, there are times when it’s OK to be in the Can….Like when people are coming over and it’s national hot and spicy food day and you need to quickly get an appropriate array of appetizers ready.

My most recent favorite mix is:

Spicy Easy Bean Dip (serves a bunch – but lasts two days, so just make it all)

Tiny Apartment Tips:

  1. You should probably always have these ingredients on hand, they don’t take a ton of space and last a long time…Oh, and they’re inexpensive too
  2. You don’t need or have room for an electric can opener…I was guest chef-ing…and the kitchen had one…fun, but sorta silly and a space waster for NYC apartments.


  • Gindo's Spice of Life fresh and spicy pepper sauce

    That’s Hot!

    2 Cans Shoe-Peg or Whole Corn Kernels

  • 1 Can Black Beans
  • 1 Can Garbanzo Beans
  • 1 Avocado
  • 1 Bunch of Cilantro – Like a hearty handful of leaves
  • 1/2 Medium Red Onion
  • Gindo’s Spice of Life Fresh and Spicy Honey Habanero Pepper Sauce…You can use the green mild sauce or the original Pepper Sauce but since it’s National Hot and Spicy Food Day…Go for the gusto!

Pay attention – this is tricky…

1. Open the cans of corn kernels and pour into the bottom of a large mixing bowl

2. Open the can (or box, sometimes it’s a box like 365 brand at Whole Foods) of Garbanzo Beans, drain, and pour into the bowl

bean dip recipe vegetarian dips hot an dspicy

This is exhausting!

3. Dice the 1/2 red onion and pour dices in

4. Open the can of black beans, rinse thoroughly, and throw them in the bowl

can opener electric bean dip vegetarian recipe

Who still has an electric can opener???

5. Chop up the cilantro – chop it pretty well…and, yes, if you absolutely hate cilantro, you can use parsley… whatever makes you happy. I don’t judge.

6. Pour 3 TBSP-ish of the salad dressing over the mixture

7. Toss in a few dashes of Gindo’s Spice of Life Fresh and Spicy Pepper Sauce – this’ll get your guests to go ‘hmmmm…wow!’ as the heat hits their tongues. Don’t be afraid here, the smooth taste of the garbanzo beans and the cool, fresh, sweet avocado will balance out the spicy hot sauce.

vegetarian bean dip hot and spicey

I guess at the amount of the dressing – it’ a pretty design!

8. Mix…just get in there and mix

bean dip vegetaran cold dips

This really is TOUGH

9. Cube up about a whole avocado and gently fold in…This part isn’t shown, because our avocados weren’t ripe enough and we had to do without…But, I recommend including them if you can

This dip is best if allowed to sit, chill for a while – at least 2 hours…The flavors all meld together and add to the deliciousness.

Serve with the dippers – you know the Tostito Scoops corn chips…

I can’t really think of an appropriate time to text anyone that you are ‘in the can’…still can’t figure out why my iPhone wants me to say that. Unless the iPhone thinks that somehow I’m shoe-peg corn or black beans or garbanzo beans. Then, being in the can is totes OK.

Happy National Hot and Spicy Food Day! Enjoy the dip!


The Sandy 15: Part 1 ‘Before’

This is the story of how to gain 15lbs in one week of a weather disaster…

Sunday, October 28

It started out innocently enough. Lunch with Sam at a local favorite on a somewhat soggy October Sunday. I had the country salad with a perfectly poached egg on top. Sam, having given up her vegetarianism, had the Luxemburger.

Cafe Luxembourg Frise Salad

Doesn’t the poached egg look a little like Sandy?

We had a few drinks as we read the doomsday warnings in the NY Post and Daily News. The headlines were daunting. They screamed ‘There’s No Place To Hide’ and ‘Play It Safe & Evacuate’ – But since there was no place to hide, we weren’t sure where to evacuate to. We were told it was a ‘Monster Storm’ and wished a ‘Happy Hell-Oween’.

NY Post Hurricane Sandy

There’s NO Place to Hide!

We went item by item down the list of things we were instructed to have in our ’emergency’ kit – some we had, some we didn’t. We had a few questions about the list:

  • Did some loose bandaids and a tube of expired Neosporin count as a ‘First Aid kit’?
  • What am I supposed to do with duct tape even if I did own some?
  • Besides my stock of canned artichoke hearts, what other ‘canned goods’ should I have in my pantry?
  • What’s the conversion between gallons of water and liters of Evian? Evian was on special at the Stop & Shop, so I bought a lot, but I’m not sure I had 1 gallon per person per day. Also, there was no mention of how many days I would need.
  • If I packed a ‘go-bag’ where was I supposed to go…I mean, there was no place to hide from this monster super storm!

While at lunch, we learned that the Mayor had ordered a complete shut down of the City’s subway system at 7pm followed by a complete shut down of the bus system by 9pm. The elimination of public transportation coupled with the doomsday forecasts forced all NYC businesses and schools to announce they would be closed on Monday.

So, there was like no work on Monday….but no way to get out or home to meet people? I knew very early on that Sandy was evil.

Barcibo Enotecca Hurrican Sandy

A-Mazing Meatballs

That night, after Sam caught one of the last subways home, I met some upper west side friends for dinner. First, we went to Barcibo for wine and some amazing meatballs.

Dinner at PJ Clarke’s followed – cheeseburger, duh.

Monday, October 29
The morning arrived and the storm didn’t. I had some toast – might have put butter and peanut butter on it, but can’t remember. That’s what happens after an event like Sandy. You lose track of days and time and specifics…
hurricane sandy sandy15

Tons of water BEFORE the storm

I met friends for a walk. As we strolled along the Hudson River on the west side, we were amazed at the already extremely high level of the water. The waves – yes, there were waves on the Hudson – crashed over and had already created giant puddles on the walkway. The floating docks were pounding into one another. The river was so high that the boat ramps were literally inverted – like going up. And Sandy wasn’t even here yet.
We stopped by The Time Warner Center to see if anything was open and the doors were locked. I looked east and saw a giant crane stretching up into the sky. I said something along the lines of ‘Don’t you think they should have taken down that crane before the storm?‘ My friends thought it would be fine. Still, I was concerned…and snapped this picture:
Crane NYC Hurricane Sandy

Monday Morning

By noon, the winds had picked up and we all went home.
But, I was quickly bored….And decided to venture out one more time before it was too late to venture out at all. ABC7 in New york warned that the storm was growing and speeding up and that very soon stronger winds would be here.
ABC7 wind speed hurricane sandy

Amy Freeze ABC7 forecasting winds…

I walked up CPW and noted the signs posted outside each entrance to Central Park: Park Closed Due To Storm Conditions. I worried about the tents and bleachers that were erected for the NYC Marathon – how would they withstand the winds?

I noted all of the stores that were closed or closing early. I witnessed dozens of people carting bottled water out of Food Emporium. (Food Emporium never closed. Never – amazing).

Every restaurant and bar was closed and it was only 2pm. Even Cafe Luxembourg who the day before promised to be open, was closed. I decided to stroll up Columbus for a few more blocks before giving up and going home. I know, crazy,  I cook and have a lot of food in my apartment…but, the threat of being cooped up there for the next unknown number of days drove me to fight the winds and rain which had started and find a place to eat.

AG Kitchen was open. I hadn’t been there yet and there was one seat at the bar…It was packed. Maybe because it’s relatively new and very good. But most likely because it was the ONLY thing open.

I mixed with the people – sharing stories of preparedness with the couple to my left who lived on a very high floor of an apartment building nearby. Chatting up the pair of building utilities management guys from ABC who had been brought up from DC to help ensure that ABC would have power throughout the storm. I jokingly asked if I could stay at the station if I lost power….they didn’t really get my humor.

Grilled Cheddar and Tomato Soup

pic borrowed from Mariya

I had a pretty decent bowl of roasted tomato soup and grilled cheddar cheese.

I had started comfort food eating…and Sandy had yet to arrive.

At around 2:45pm a tree fell in front of the restaurant blocking the entrance and almost taking out a couple and their dog. Once the manager at AG Kitchen and some other guys got the tree moved. It was time to go home.

I was home in time for the winds to really pick up and the heavier rains to start. I kept in contact with my friends via text or phone – comparing winds and rains and talking about what we thought might happen.

It was bad. Like scary bad. The winds were bowing the windows in my 14th floor apartment. They were literally moving…almost like breathing…like the walls in a haunted house of a scary movie. I called and asked the door guy to check with the super to reassure me that the windows were built to withstand winds of 80 mph and higher. I wasn’t the only panicked resident who called.

The lights flickered…twice.

—————————————————-More tomorrow.

If You’re Talking Thai, Talk Thai

Thai Salad

In navigating the unknown, one good approach is to stick to the theme. I’m not suggesting that you sport tennis togs and carry a bunch of racquets when attending the US Tennis Open – that’s so Forest Hills. But I am saying, that you might not want to hang a crystal chandelier in your kid’s playroom.

The unknown can be especially intimidating when the unknown is what’s for dinner. Stick to the theme. So, if you’re cooking lasagna, don’t make a pork steamed dumpling appetizer. When making roast chicken, don’t serve enchiladas on the side.

Last night’s dinner was based on my attempt to go Thai. I had already decided to make something curry-ish as a main course. My girls were coming over to solve the world’s problems with wine and stories and wine and wine and I thought it was time to try something new.

But, I hadn’t figured out what to do for a vegetable side. I just couldn’t decide. I went to my mental rolodex and looked for what sides I had enjoyed when dining out at Thai restaurants….not really any that memorable. Some steamed veggies with an oddly slimy sauce and pepper flakes is really all I could come up with. And, since I don’t really want to know what’s in the oddly slimy sauce nor do I really like hot pepper flakes, that wasn’t going to happen.

When I left for Whole Foods, I had a list that said just ‘vegetable’. While I can ‘wing it’ in almost any situation, I’m not one of those people who decides what to make based on what looks good in the produce section that day. So this ‘vegetable’ item on the list unnerved me a bit.

Clutching my list, I battled my way through the tourists at the Time Warner Center and elbowed myself on to the escalator into Whole Foods. City-perfect bi-level shopping cart procured and I went straight to produce. It’s fall and the produce section is teeming with squash and I’m like so over squash – for now. I looked around and lamely decided upon broccoli – easy and generally a crowd pleaser. A total cop out – but it would have to do. I needed to find a bunch of other stuff that I hadn’t ever bought before.

As an afterthought, I grabbed a small carton of sprouts figuring that I could put them on top of the curry dish I was preparing. Because sprouts feel super Thai to me.

I got everything home and still felt a little bad about the boring broccoli.


Then while writing yesterday afternoon as The Food Network droned on in the background, I heard something that gave me an idea. Rachael Ray was making a sweet-ish (not Swedish) salad dressing. And, though I didn’t do what she did, I knew that Rachael was on to something.

And suddenly Broccoli schmoccoli….Became:

Thai Salad (serves 4)

The Salad:

  • 2 large carrots peeled and shredded – best bet to use your Cuisinart shredder blade
  • 3 large broccoli stalks only peeled and shredded (save the florets for a boring broccoli side at another time)
  • a handful of bean sprouts as is
  • Toasted cashew nuts crushed up a bit

Toasting the Nuts:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Spread 1/2 cup of cashews on a rimmed baking sheet lined with tin foil.
  • Spray the nuts with an olive oil cooking spray and gently salt.
  • Put into oven for :15 minutes, tossing the nuts every :05 minutes. Watch them closely as they will burn quickly…

Add Some Crunch

The dressing – And this is really what makes the salad so so good

Mise En Place – doesn’t the shallot look like a mouse?

  • 1/4 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp of dijon mustard
  • 1 1/2 tbsp orange marmalade
  • 1/2 shallot – grated
  • 1/2 tsp of Balsamic Vinegar

Whisk together until creamy looking then…

Whisked Together

  • Slowly whisk in 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Mix the shredded veggies, nuts, sprouts and dressing together and serve as an intro to any Thai feast.

Uhmmm Delicious Thai Salad

To be honest, the salad turned out to be the hit of the meal. The sleeper success of the supper, if you will.

So, when confronted with the unknown, stick to your theme. I had never cooked Thai before – but I had a theme. And, you know what? I found out that:  Annie can cook Thai. Annie cooked Thai real well.