A Pantry Dinner

5 May

Despite the many eye rolls from a number of the men I know (including my husband), I was one of the thousands of fans who woke up in the wee hours of the West Coast morning to watch Prince William wed Kate Middleton.  While the workday last Friday was filled with much caffeine and stifled yawns, I wouldn’t have changed a thing about spending my sleeping hours awake and wide-eyed.

As I’ve mentioned before, this Royal Wedding holds a place in my heart, not because I have any ties to royalty, or because I am one of the millions of screaming 20-something women grabbing their hearts and wishing it was them becoming a princess.  It’s because at point I truly thought I was going to marry Prince William (there is an interesting story behind that thought).

At 5:00 in the morning, right before the much anticipated Royal kiss, I made and ate my Royal Rosemary and Maple Bacon Buttie, and marveled at how such a good thing just happened in the world.  With so much bad news these days, it was a breath of fresh air to simply watch traditional British Royalty in action, combined with genuine, true love.

Little did anyone know, but only a few days later another day would go down in history for the U.S. as a long awaited great accomplishment – the death of Osama Bin Laden.  Rob and I were finishing up his grilled Ribeye with Herb Butter birthday dinner when we heard the news Sunday night.  Glued to the TV, our dirty dishes went un-clean as we watched our President officially deliver the news that would change history books forever.  While our world is still nowhere near safe, at least one bad guy is burning in you-know-where. 

On the brink of all the world’s recent good news, another great merriment came when we officially celebrated Rob’s 27th birthday on Monday.  We had his favorites: pigs in a blanket, Kelly’s guacamole with chips, pistachios, and Argyle Brut.  Low key, flirty, and fun, we had a great time together with our low budget appetizers and fancy Brut.  By 6:00pm, we were cuddled up on the couch, already in our pjs, with a Waterford crystal champagne flute in one hand, and a pig in a blanket in the other; I’m sure we were quite the sight to see. 

After a crazy start to the week, and as Tuesday rolled around, the hype of the Royal Wedding still hanging in the air, and Bin Laden’s death story continuing to evolve, we realized that a check back to reality was in order.  Our little house needed a cleaning, bills needed to be paid, and laundry desperately needed washing.  As much as I wanted to continue living in the fantasy land of weddings and birthdays, I knew the house couldn’t go unclean forever. 

So Tuesday night, Rob and I partnered up and divided tasks, and we cleaned house.  At one point while cleaning hair out of a drain, I found myself wondering about the new Duchess Catherine – despite royalty, she is still a wife.  Officer’s wife at that.  Do she and William make house?  Does she cook dinner for, or with, her man? 

Well, just the thought of dinner reminded me that while Catherine probably has people who can fancy up a dinner for her if she or William don’t feel like cooking, I, in my commoner ways, do not.  On top of which, with not much in the fridge to work with, I had to become creative.  After cleaning a toilet (that a boy also uses), it’s hard to be creative.

To the pantry: rice and beans.  While slightly boring, they are still healthy.  There’s salsa.  Mexican?  No, Cinco de Mayo is coming up.  Thai curry sauce.  Not enough veg in the fridge for a full curry.  Fashion up a secret sauce?  YES. 

One of our favorite sauces has to be Eugene’s Café Yum sauce.  It’s unique and creamy and tangy.  They do sell bottles of the sauce now, thus giving away its recipe.  Café Yum is such a, well, yummy place to eat with really easy and satisfying food, and they put their sauce on almost everything.  But due to lack of time, energy, and resources (and the fact that Eugene is two hours away), I decided to create my own. 

With the scent of Pine Sol still in the air, I whipped up our own little “Yum Bowl” inspired by Café Yum.  It was delicious!  Maybe even better than the actual Café Yum!  And healthy!  And so easy to make (I keep pantry staples, like salsa, beans, and microwave rice, around for times like these).  So easy in fact, maybe I’ll contact the Duchess of Cambridge just to give her a good, quick, easy, pantry home recipe.  It could be a wedding present!  Or, maybe not.  🙂   

 Rob and Jill’s Yum Bowl (makes 2 bowls)

  • 1can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 package frozen, microwavable brown rice (or make your own, about 2 cooked cups)
  • 1 small head broccoli, cut up into florets
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 2 c baby arugula
  • 1 scallion, white and light green parts thinly chopped
  • ¼ c your favorite jarred authentic salsa, preferably not chunky.
  • 2 tbsp good mayo
  • ¼ tsp cumin
  • s&p
  • a wedge of lime, for serving

 Boil a small pot of water; salt when boiling.  Toss in the broccoli florets, and blanch for about 1 minute.  Remove from water, and put into a salted ice bath to stop the cooking. 

To make the secret sauce, mix the salsa, mayo, and cumin together in a bowl.  Taste for seasoning (may need pepper, but probably not any salt because the salt content of many jarred salsa can be pretty high).

Cook the rice per microwave instructions, and split into two bowls, positioning in one-third of the bowl.  Add the beans to the middle of the bowl, and then add the arugula to the third side of the bowl.  Top with broccoli, red peppers, and sprinkle with a bit of s&p.  Top with desired amount of secret sauce and the scallions. 

Serve with a squirt and a wedge of lime.


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