Inspired by a much loved Mexican Bean Salad, Once Upon a Chef has perfected her Black Bean Salad with Corn, Red Peppers, Avocado & Lime-Cilantro Vinaigrette, making it positively drool-worthy!

 

With warm temps outside, we’re up for any dish that doesn’t need the oven or stove; and who can resist a chance to eat up some of the season’s freshest ingredients?

 

Please click here to visit Once Upon a Chef and see the instructions that we followed!

 

 

Reviewer #1 – Kristy

Mission: Healthy, fresh and delicious is always a key when trying new recipes! This hit the spot!

 

Details:

Get ready to chop…lots to chop, but well worth it.

  • I grilled the corn on the grill first then added it to the dish.
  • I used minced garlic out of the jar since I didn’t have any cloves.
  • I may add some green onions next time for some extra flavor.

bb salad 1

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Definitely get a juicer for the lime. I don’t have one, and that would have definitely been handy.

We enjoyed ours with some tilapia from the Blackened Tilapia Taco recipe!

 

 

Pros:

I had it marinate for an hour and it was still delicious so don’t hesitate to make it last-minute.

It’s even great the next day!

Cons:

Absolutely, none.

Kristy - BB Salad

Conclusion:

Mike and I both enjoyed!  It’s perfect as a side salad with a meal or great with tortilla chips as a dip!  I will definitely be making next weekend!!

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Amanda

Mission: This recipe was a great way to attempt to get my hubby to eat black beans.

 

 

Details:

  • For the most part I followed the instructions from Once Upon A Chef exactly (minus the fact that I forgot to add the cilantro).
  • I did add a jalapeno for a little heat but that was the only change I made intentionally.
  • I did cut it in half since I am the only one that really loves beans in our house.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Definitely doesn’t make a great left over (gets very runny and strange-looking – although it still tasted pretty good but we eat with our eyes so who are we kidding here).

I could have cut the recipe down to just a ¼ but the thought of that math makes my head hurt.

 

Pros:

This would make a perfect accompaniment to add to a fish taco. You could whip up a batch of the fabulous Blackened Tilapia Tacos we reviewed a while back and add it to them. MMMM.

This is a great summer dish since produce is best this time of year and our markets seem to be overflowing with beautiful color. I tried this as a salsa too and it is great with chips!

Cons:

Really just the leftover thing. It just didn’t “look” like it would taste good the second day and I had to close my eyes to take the first few bites.

Amanda - BB Salad

Conclusion:

YUM. Two thumbs up! This is going straight into my recipe book. My gal pals will love it (even if my family wasn’t on board).

 

 

Reviewer #3 – Sheri

Mission: The sight of this recipe made me drool. With 4th of July coming I was looking for a light side that will please the crowd.

 

Details:

The recipe is very easy to follow, basically just throw all the ingredients into a bowl (saving the avocado for last). Mix, chill, and serve.

  • I took a short cut and used frozen corn instead of cutting from the cob. I’m a sucker for a time saver. It gave me time to make my own pitas. They’re delicious and paired perfectly with this recipe.
  • I highly suggest letting the salad chill in the refrigerator for a while as suggested in the original post. Let the flavors come together

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Squeeze some lime juice on the avocado before tossing it in. It helps prevent them from browning.

Sheri - BB Salad 1

Pros:

Incredibly delicious and sure to please a crowd.

Cons:

I divided the recipe in half and really wish I had more.

Sheri - BB Salad

Conclusion:

I absolutely LOVED this recipe. It had many of my favorite ingredients. I’m avocado obsessed.

Paired with my homemade pita chips, I was all ready to enjoy my Saturday night. This recipe is definitely a winner and full of yummy goodness.

I know what I’m bring to this week’s 4th of July cookout!

 

 

Reviewer #4 – Maren

Mission: I could not wait to make this recipe, it’s right up my alley!  I am a lover of each and every ingredient in this salad.  Yum!

 

Details:

  • I don’t love red peppers, so I went with orange!
  • I used a 12 oz. bag of frozen sweet corn – worked like a charm!  I eat this brand all the time and I do feel like it’s crunchy and fresh tasting when allowed to thaw on it’s own.  I’m pretty sure that I used more than called for, but whatever, I love corn!
  • I went a little heavy on the lime juice and garlic.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

IMG_3476

I use lime juice in just about every recipe that we eat.  I love it!  Every couple of months, I buy a bag full of limes and take some time to squeeze them all, then pour the juice into ice cube trays so that I always have real lime juice when I need it.  Way better than the stuff you buy in the little plastic lime bottle at the store.

Enjoy with Xochitl tortilla chips.  They are the best!

If you’re chop-challenged, you can use a pizza cutter!

Pros:

I LOVE this salad so much!  I have made it 6 times and have ingredients in the fridge for more!  I eat it on chips, on it’s own, and have even added rotisserie chicken!

Cons:

Even though I am a huge lover of avocado, I actually liked this salad better without it.  Not really a con, but my own preference.

Maren - BB Salad

Conclusion:

This recipe is great.  It’s so fresh and light, perfect for summer noshing.

While I do prefer this salad without the avocado, it’s great with it, too!  Versatile and easy to make, this one was a fast favorite.

 

 

Reviewer #5 – Sarah

Mission: I’m always on the lookout for easy and tasty recipes to prep for events. This one sounded like it was one of those, and in addition sounded healthy!

 

Details:

I modified this recipe from the start!

  • I decided to make it more of a chip dip vs. a salad. I picked up tortilla chips when gathering the ingredients to serve with the dip and it was a hit!!
  • Though I like to eat as many healthy fats as I can, I have never been a lover of avocado. I just can’t get used to the taste and texture, so I left them out of this recipe – I know, selfish! Though, in my case, it helped as I made this dip for two separate events where it would have been too difficult to add to the salad right before serving.
  • I really love a recipe that calls for ingredients I have on-hand. I had Iowa sweet corn from my parent’s farm in the freezer, mini sweet peppers and garlic in the fridge and sweet onions in the pantry, which I used instead of shallots. In addition, I already had all of the seasonings that were called for.
  • At the grocery store, I picked up the black beans, limes and cilantro and then got to work.
  • The only items I had to dice were the peppers, onion and garlic. And then I zested the limes with my handheld grater, which worked great!
  • To cut-up the cilantro, I used my kitchen shears and added closer to 3/4 cup to the mix.
  • After prepping, I let the dip sit in the fridge for 2-3 hours before attending each event I served this at.

It was a huge hit and was gone by the end of the night!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

chips_dip

Using a handheld grater to zest your limes works great – just watch your fingers!

Cut the sugar down to 1 tablespoon, or even omit altogether. In my opinion, it wasn’t necessarily needed.

If you make this as a chip dip, cut down the amount of olive oil added. I only used 6 tablespoons.

 

Pros:

Easy to make and oh so tasty! And, with the addition of the cayenne, it had a nice spicy kick!

Cons:

Honestly can’t think of any – loved it and will definitely make again.

Sarah - BB Salad

Conclusion:

Loved this dip! It was easy to modify for your own needs. Even my husband ate it and went back for seconds, and that’s saying something!

 

 BB Salad Conclusion


The gorgeous
Black Bean Salad with Corn, Red Peppers, Avocado & Lime-Cilantro Vinaigrette and it’s photo by Once Upon a Chef


read more

A little birdie told us that Sarcastic Cooking was spilling the secret to the special blackening seasoning that turns ordinary tilapia into a spectacular dish with a Latin twist!

 

Served with a healthy helping of avocado, their Blackened Tilapia Tacos sounded truly delish.

 

Please click here to visit Sarcastic Cooking and see the instructions that we followed!

 

Reviewer #1 – Sheri

Mission: Honestly, I’m not a huge fan of tilapia; however, I’ve only tried it once. Fish tacos? I’ve only tried those once as well. I figured I should practice what I preach and give it another try. Avocado with anything usually makes me say “yum.”

 

Details:

The directions were easy to follow.

  • Sprinkle the tilapia fillets with the blackening seasoning and cook them in the skillet with some olive oil.
  • Cut up some creamy avocado with some red onion and load it all onto a warmed tortilla.

One of the great thing about tacos is you can add anything you like; black olives, tomatoes, salsa, corn.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Make sure to heat the oil in the skillet beforehand. You don’t want them sticking.

Sheri - Tilapia 1

Pros:

This is a really quick meal to prepare. Great for a healthy mid-week meal.

Cons:

I can’t get my husband to even try them.

Sheri - Tilapia 2

Conclusion:

I actually liked them and I didn’t think that I would. The fish tacos I had at On the Border, grossed me out. I must say that Stefanie from Sarcastic Cooking really does have a yummy blackening seasoning. I’ll be using it often. So I enjoyed my tilapia tacos all by my lonesome with a cold beer…they don’t know what they’re missing.

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Kristy

Mission: Mexican and a little Louisiana blackened fish…can’t beat it!  This was a no brainer!

 

Details:

  • I used my go to seasoning mix, Tony Chachere’s as it includes all of the ingredients that we wanted for our fish and provides a good spicy kick!
  • Instead of sliced avocados I purchased a southwest avocado dip which included green peppers, black beans, and corn.
  • Sprinkle of cheddar cheese!
  • All organic products used!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Keep it simple and healthy!

Pros:

Simple and delicious!!

Cons:

None, it’s perfect!

Kristy - Tilapia

Conclusion:

Mike and I enjoyed this meal!! Add some Mexican Rice (our favorite recipe is from The Pioneer Woman) and black beans to make it a complete meal!  I kept it simple, always in a rush in the evening!! Will definitely make it again, shrimp maybe my next ingredient to add!  Maybe a mango salsa…wow, you can get creative!

 

 

Reviewer #3 – Maren

Mission: This recipe sounded like the perfect way to get my husband to try some fish (which he usually hates).  I’m new to the fish taco thing myself.  Something about fish in a taco never sounded quite right; but I gave it a shot a few years back and found a new favorite!  I was looking forward to giving them a shot at home.

Details:

  • I used flour tortillas, simply because I haven’t found a store brand of wheat tortillas that I really like.
  • We had plenty of fresh pico de gallo with our tacos.
  • I also drank a lot of beer with this meal, which probably completely negated the fact that I was enjoying a nice, healthy, light dinner.  This was direct result of my pico de gallo taste-testing early in the cooking process, landing right on a jumbo jalapeno and having my mouth nearly burst into flames.  A beer… or two, was the obvious solution to this problem.

We enjoyed our first round just as Sarcastic Cooking suggested, with plenty of avocado and lime juice.  I don’t really believe in eating any Mexican dish without plenty of lime… and Corona!  We loaded in the pico de gallo for our “seconds”.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

My mom taught me to always thaw frozen fish in milk to get rid of any “fishy” taste.  I forgot about this until after the fact… they were just fine.  lol

Make sure to cook the fish through and through, because there is really nothing grosser than mushy fish.  *gag*  This also makes the blackened seasoning extra yummy!

I won’t cook anything in oil without my grease cover.  Can’t live without that thing.  I think that I got ours at IKEA for a couple bucks.

My trick to removing fish from the pan without having it fall apart – Big flipper on the bottom, Spatula on the top!

Maren - Tilapia 1

Pros:

Tasted great!  The honey even said that he’d eat them again… not all the time, but he’d eat them again.

Frankly, you could taste the seasoning and accoutrements much more than the fish itself, as [tilapia] is pretty bland as is.

Cons:

None, other than the fact that it can be tricky getting really great, fresh fish here in the Midwest that won’t cost an arm and a leg.

Maren - Tilapia 2

Conclusion:

I’m really glad that we tried this recipe together.  It’s always nice to know that you have some other options up your sleeve when your usual dinner menu starts repeating itself.  This is especially the case when you’re someone like me, who loves Mexican and eats it as much as humanly possible, only to make your significant other want to cry when he sees the tell-tale ingredients coming out of the fridge…  Mua haa ha!

On another note, I am so grateful to have this special seasoning recipe from Stephanie at Sarcastic Cooking.  I am already eager to add it to other recipes, like her yummy looking Blackened Chicken with Cilantro Lime Quinoa.

 

 

Alicia - TCCReviewer #4 – Alicia

Mission: Believe it or not, I have never had a fish taco.  Not sure why as I love tacos and fish.  I was super excited to try this recipe.

 

Details:

I followed this recipe closely and to a T…

  • Well, I guess we are not a wheat tortilla kind of family, so I used the regular tortillas instead.
  • I also added shredded cheese. Who doesn’t love cheese??!!

Tips & Tricks Learned:

This is the first time I have ever sliced an Avocado.  Fun times and not so hard!  I also added extra salt and pepper to jazz up the taste.

Alicia - Tilapia 1

Pros:

Adding cheese and lime definitely added to the flavor.

Cons:

Tilapia is a very mild fish. I might try halibut next time.

Alicia - Tilapia 2

Conclusion:

This was an easy and delicious recipe!  I prefer my tacos loaded with the good stuff – sour cream, cilantro, salsa and of course cheese, just to name a few; I was pleasantly surprised with the taste of this and loved the blackening seasoning.  Very good! Even better with a Corona or Margarita!!!

 

 

Reviewer #5 – Sarah

Mission: To find a quick, easy and healthy dinner that my family will enjoy, and one that will remind me of being on a Mexican vacation.

 

Details:

I gathered all of the fresh ingredients – the avocado, tomatoes, whole wheat tortillas and limes while on my weekly Super Target run.

  • I also picked up onions as I can’t have tacos without onions!

While I was prepping things for dinner, I found that we didn’t have tilapia in our freezer like I had thought. So, I sent my hubby to our local market to pick that up. They have the best seafood section!

The prep for this dinner was so quick – I think I had everything ready to start cooking within 10 minutes. Once the oil was hot, I began cooking the seasoned tilapia. The recipe called for about five minutes per side, but we ended up cooking ours about seven minutes per side as our filets were cut a bit thick.

Once the fish was done, we flaked it up a bit and layered it on our shells to each of our liking. I added avocado, onion, tomatoes and squeezed fresh lime over the top. My hubby added onion and black olives. Our kiddos ate just the fish! Everyone enjoyed it.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

Make sure to cook your fish all the way through – and it adds more flavor to the blackened aspect the longer you cook it!

Make sure to buy a ripe avocado if you plan to eat it soon. The one I grabbed wasn’t soft enough, so that made prepping it a bit more intensive.

Sarah - Tilapia 1

Pros:

Easy meal to prepare!

Cons:

Can be more costly than planned if you have to hit up the local grocery store for tilapia. Plan ahead!

Sarah - Tilapia 2

Conclusion:

Quick and delish! We will definitely be making this again. I really enjoyed learning the basics of cooking a blackened style fish. Next time, I’ll make sure I have margaritas handy as well!

 

 Tilapia Conclusion


The delish
Blackened Tilapia Tacos and photo by Sarcastic Cooking


read more

Mexican food, check.  Avocado, check. What’s not enticing about Spicy Avocado Chicken EnchiladasThe Novice Chef shares her Cinco de Mayo recipe featuring that green goodie, avocado, chicken and salsa verde.

 

Please click here to visit The Novice Chef and see the recipe that we followed!

 

Reviewer #1 – Sheri

Mission:  When I first saw this Pinned on Pinterest all I could say was YUM, YUM, YUM!

Not only am I an avocado lover but I love making enchiladas for my husband and I. I had never seen a recipe like this before. No traditional red enchilada sauce? I immediately struck the Pin and went to the site, The Novice Chef.

Seeing I recently got my husband to start eating avocados I was excited to share this with him. I even called my parents and suggested I go on over and make them for us all.

Details:

I would like to thank The Novice Chef for not using the word “roux” in the recipe even though I was tossing butter and flour into a pan. If you want to know what that’s all about go read my bio.

I started with making the sauce. It’s pretty simple. Butter, garlic, serrano pepper (which I had to substitute with cubanelle), chicken stock, cumin, cilantro, and sour cream. Adding the sour cream to hot chicken stock kind of turned my stomach a bit but all the ingredients coming together smelled amazing.

After finishing the sauce I started my enchilada assembly line and stuffed and rolled those babies.

I poured the remaining sauce over the enchiladas and hoped for the best. After all I was feeding my parents…my dad can be quite the critic when it comes to new things.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

I baked the chicken breasts ahead of time and let them cool a bit. No need to burn the fingers.

Pros:

Super yummy and filling. Not too difficult to do.

Cons:

I’m not a fan of cilantro. It wasn’t over powering, but I would leave it out next time.

Conclusion:

These were delicious, but I have a few suggestions. When I make “my” enchiladas I always add black beans. They add to the flavor and texture. So I would definitely add them the next time I make this recipe.

A suggestion from my husband and my father: hot sauce! They added a little bit of hot sauce and said it “blended the flavors together.” Just the right kick.

I was glad everyone enjoyed them. I will never again use enchilada sauce out of a can.

 

 

Reviewer #2 – Sarah

Mission: To try out a new recipe on my family that sounded quick, easy and delicious! We LOVE Mexican food, so was really hoping for a delicious meal that I can make again.

 

Details:

With this recipe, I changed just a few of the key ingredients based on what I already had on-hand and wanted to tame the heat a bit since we have two young kiddos to feed as well.

  • I substituted the Serrano pepper for a pablano pepper, used up the Manchango and sharp cheddar cheese I already had on-hand.
  • For the salsa, I used my favorite Jack’s Special Medium Garden Salsa from Costco. Delish!
  • In addition, my husband and kids aren’t fans of avocado, so I ended up only using half of one within four of the enchiladas and then made four without.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

I prepped all of my ingredients earlier in the day during my kiddos nap time – it made the actual “make” time very easy. For my family, we made half of the enchiladas without any avocado and half with.

Pros:

Super easy to make and really tasty!

It was a hit with my husband, even though my kids didn’t seem as keen on it.

Also made enough for left overs which made lunch the next day great 🙂

Cons:

Uses some ingredients that may take a special trip to the store.

 

Conclusion:

Definitely plan to make again – would be a wonderful dish to make for a quick dinner with friends!

 

 

Reviewer #3 – Maren

Mission: I could eat Mexican food every damn day, so I was excited to see a variation like this one by The Novice Chef!

We are currently shacking up with my in-laws, so I was hoping to make something both full of new flavors and that everyone would like.

Details:

  • In wall of salsa at my grocery store, I only saw a couple in “Salsa Verde” form.  I picked Guy Fieri’s Mean & Green Salsa Verde solely because I love him… and the packaging was cooler.
  • My mother-in-law doesn’t like spicy food or avocados; so I only used 2 avocados, and fortunately my Salsa Verde was already “Medium” as recommended by The Novice Chef.
  • I couldn’t find “Cabot Monterrey Jack” cheese or figure out what the hell it was, so I just used regular Monterey Jack. (I later learned that this is just a brand.  Oh.  Smart moment.
  • I actually made my chicken a couple of months ago – it’s Chocolate Therapy’s Crockpot Chicken Taco’s recipe!  Easiest thing ever, and absolutely perfect in any mexican dish!  Makes a boat-load if it’s just you and your honey, like us – so be sure to take advantage and freeze it in smaller portions!
  • I also ended up adding twice the amount of cheese in an attempt to win over my taste testers.

Tips & Tricks Learned:

My cilantro was also frozen… I wouldn’t do that again.  It tasted fine but was mushy and really grossed me out when I was adding it to the sauce.

I wouldn’t add the flour until after the chicken broth.  Instant blob.  Thankfully, I was able to break it up while the broth and spices melded.  Phew!

Always wear gloves while cutting peppers.  Always.  That is, unless you like the feeling of your eyeballs bursting into flames when you take your contacts out 4 hours later.

Pros:

These were great!  Everyone loved them!  We were so excited to wolf these things down, I barely got a photo before they were gone!

The salsa verde had a strong “smokey” smell, which scared me, but the flavor was great.

They weren’t too spicy, and the avocado simply added a creamy texture and milder flavor – my [anti-spicy/anti-avocado] mother-in-law went back for seconds!  She thought they had a nice “Zing.”  My father-in-law however, thought they had “No zing.” 🙂

Cons:

I could have used a little more spice, but I liked the salsa that I used.  Next time I’ll add another serrano pepper!

Conclusion:

Everyone loved these enchiladas, regardless of whether they thought they were spicy or not!  They certainly had a unique flavor which was a nice way to switch up your “Taco Night”.  I felt like I was eating something that I had ordered from a restaurant!

 

The lovely Spicy Avocado Chicken Enchiladas photo taken by The Novice Chef


read more


%d bloggers like this: