Rice and Beans: Dinner On The Table in 30 Minutes

I am always on the hunt for dinner recipes that take under 30 minutes. And dinner that’s ready in 20 minutes? I’m sold. I mean, I typically only have about 22 minutes of uninterrupted toddler free time , thanks Daniel Tiger! So I’m always trying to find ways of getting delicious, healthy vegetarian dinners ready in 30 minutes or less.

One of our staples is Rice and Beans. This recipe fills you up and doesn’t break the bank. It’s super easy to prepare, especially when utilizing a rice cooker. It’s a great base recipe and spicing it up, or mixing up the flavors, is a breeze.


Here’s our typical go to Rice and Beans:
1.5 cups brown jasmine rice
1 can of black beans
1 small red onion diced
2 cloves minced garlic
fresh cilantro
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika
salt & pepper to taste
squeeze of fresh lime
fresh green onion


1. Cook rice following directions on the back of the package. We use a rice cooker and it’s amazing. I add water & rice, press a button, and viola! Rice is done in 20 minutes.
2. While rice cooks throw some olive oil in a large skillet/ wok and saute garlic and onions until browned/ slightly blackened. I like to cook over high heat to really sear the onions without making them too soft.
3. Rinse the black beans and add them to the onions.
4. Add spices and mix well.
5. Add cooked rice into bean skillet and mix until rice is evenly spiced.
6. Add a squeeze of lime juice, fresh green onion and fresh cilantro.
Serve and enjoy!

Some other favorite add-ins for our rice and beans:

  • Pineapple/mango, almonds & some cinnamon for more of a Jamaican jerk style rice& beans
  • Andouille sausage (for me), green pepper, red pepper flakes & cayenne pepper for New Orleans style dish


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Grilled Artichokes

When it comes to culinary creativity I like to think that I’m a level above a “Boring Betsy.” I’m not afraid to try cooking outside of my comfort zone: Indian food, Mediterranean, Thai and even vegan dishes. I’ve tried them all – some with more success than others. So, when our close friends asked if my husband and I would enjoy grilled artichokes at our weekly dinner & game night, I found myself taken aback… we didn’t know! Artichokes were one of the lone veggies we had never explored.
We said, “let’s go for it!” and our friends brought them over, prepared, cooked and then taught us how to eat them like artichoke connoisseurs. We were both hooked! Even Emmie got in on the action, and she was a natural at artichoke eating.

Fast forward to today and we now incorporate artichokes into our dinner veggie repertoire. We tend to use this recipe, since we’re a big fan of the nice finishing flavor grilling gives the artichokes. The recipe’s simple garlic & olive oil base is perfect on it’s own or easily enhanced with your family’s favorite spices. If you’ve ever been too intimidated to cook an artichoke I urge you to try! They’re quite easy, and truly delicious. 

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30 Minute Dinners: Chicken Tortilla Soup

I don’t love to cook. Dealing with my demanding toddler, and often fluctuating energy reserves, cooking has evolved into a source of anxiety for me. I loathe the question, “what’s for dinner?” To ease my cooking anxiety I search for fast, easy and healthy meals that ideally take less than 30 minutes start to finish, including prep time! This means minimal steps and minimal dishes, but I don’t want to sacrifice flavors or nutrition. While I know it sounds impossible, it can be done. I’m here to share one of my go to 30 Minute Dinners with you: Chicken Tortilla Soup.
Before we get to it, there are a few tricks I use to help minimize the number of dishes I wash and the total amount of time this recipe takes. First trick is chopping chicken last. I chop everything that needs to be chopped on one cutting board with one knife. I make sure to do any meats last so that when everything’s done I still only have to wash one knife and one cutting board.
Next, is all about the onion.  Anytime I need to chop an onion for a recipe I chop one or two HUGE red onions. I dice that sucker right up. Then, I use what I need and stick the leftovers in a bag and toss it in the freezer. I use this frozen pre-diced onion for most of my cooking. Normally any recipe calls for cooking the onion so having it frozen doesn’t affect it’s taste/texture. It cuts down on dishes, time and best of all how many times I am forced to cry at the mercy of an onion. You can also apply this philosophy to many veggies. Celery, carrots and peppers are some of my other favorites to prep in one go and freeze for later.
Another time saver is using leftovers. This soup is best the day after having rice and beans for dinner. I plan ahead and make a big batch of R&B’s and use leftovers to throw in the soup. No leftovers? No problem, throw your rice into the rice cooker and add it at the end of the recipe. Pop open a can of beans, and you’re done. But remember, I’m all about cleaning as few pots as I can, so leftover rice works great in this recipe! Have leftover white rice from takeout? Toss it in! Any leftover rice will do. 
Lastly, I use a chicken broth concentrate. This stuff is amazing. It’s a liquid so no annoying paste to try to dissolve, you just squirt in a tbsp or two into a cup of water and you’ve got delicious and easy broth. It also comes in beef and vegetable. If you can find it, buy it. It lasts up to 6 months in the fridge but I usually use one every 2 months or so.

Now that you know all my time saving tricks, let’s get cooking.


  • 1.5 cups rice & beans
  • 1 cup chopped tomatoes
  • 1 small red onion chopped *
  • 1 cup frozen sweet corn
  • 1/2 cup chopped peppers
  • Chicken breast (optional)
  • Olive oil
  • Cilantro
  • 3 cups chicken broth/ chicken broth concentrate
  • McMormicks Mexican seasoning **

  1.  Chop onion & toss in soup pot with some olive oil and frozen corn. Saute over medium heat.
  2. While onion cooks- chop tomatoes, peppers, and cilantro. Put chopped ingredients in a soup bowl then you can just rinse the soup bowl to use to eat the soup when you’re done cooking.
  3. Chop chicken breast into small cubes. The smaller the cube the faster it cooks!
  4. Add chicken breast into the soup pot with onions and corn, continue sauteing until chicken is almost all the way cooked through
  5. Add McMormicks seasoning to desired taste. I add a bunch, probably close to a TBSP. I like to make sure it gives a good coating to the chicken, onion and corn mixture.
  6. When the chicken starts to brown, slowly add in some water and scrape the browned bits off the bottom of the pan. [Replace water with broth if not using a broth concentrate.]
  7. Add in chicken broth concentrate, stir.
  8. Throw in peppers, tomatoes, rice & beans and cilantro: bring to a simmer.
  9. While the soup is simmering, wash the one cutting board and knife, and rinse out any bowls used to corral ingredients.
  10. Take soup off heat.
  11. Serve with fresh avocado, a squeeze of lime, and some tortilla chips if you’re feeling fancy.

Pat yourself on the back as you enjoy your delicious soup knowing you only have 1 pot, 1 ladle, and 1 stirring spoon to wash after dinner.

** Substitute a blend of  paprika, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin & cinnamon for McMormicks Seasoning
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