Yes… the situation called for another “Dinner Surprise”, or as the girls lovingly call it, “What’s-left-in-the-fridge” dinner.

Last week, I found myself, yet again, agonizing over leftovers and soon-to-expire vegetables.

See… it’s like this…

…a few weeks ago, there was a sale on the bags of small mixed (red, purple, golden) potatoes.

So, I bought a bag…

…and promptly forgot about them.

When I remembered that they were in the potato bin, I gasped aloud (yes, I actually did) and ran to open the door to the cabinet where I store my root veggies.

In the dim light, I could see tiny potato eyes peeking out of the small holes in the bin.

I lifted up the bin on top, and a cascade of tiny potato appendages flowed out, over the edges of the bin.

Oh my gosh! Could I save them? Their little eyes pleaded with me…

Of course! No big deal… just some minor surgery and you’ll be back up and running!

…Also on the rescue list were leftover pinto beans. (see my New Year’s Black-Eyed Pea Recipe for the vegan, savory bean soup that works for ALL bean and legume types…).

… add to that… some grape tomatoes, and a bag of mini-sweet peppers that were on sale for a dollar a bag the previous week. (Admittedly, I’m a sucker for those 10 for 10 deals… *sigh*).

In the bowl is half a red onion, and the chopped potatoes, scrubbed and appendages removed.


Oh… and some cornbread…

Hmm… not even enough for croutons. Geez…

Now… there were more beans and cornbread left… but, my husband had taken half for lunch that day without telling me… so I had to improvise, again… (and the cornbread ended up being a nice after-school snack for the girls).


A can of black beans. Perfect. (Mixing beans is an awesome way to change up recipes and give them some different and distinct flavors.)

I always drain and rinse canned beans (just like when you pre-soak the dry ones)… it reduces the sodium… and removes that ‘can’ taste.

While those drained, I put the chopped potatoes, onion, and peppers in the oven. (375 degrees, 35 minutes) In the bowl I had added a Tablespoon of Olive Oil, and about a teaspoon each of Basil, Garlic Powder, and Chili Powder. (See this other post for how it’s done… the Rachel Ray two-spoon mixing method.)


The pinto beans were already cooked, so I started the black beans cooking, with just a little bit of water added… and a teaspoon of Cilantro.

Okay… so that looks more like 2 teaspoons of Cilantro… but who’s counting?

Moving on… The tomatoes… what to do?


Cut them in half, and sautée them in olive oil, with a little Basil and set it aside.

The beans were missing something, so I perused the freezer… and found a bag of chopped kale that I always keep as back-up to add to soup, stews, eggs, whatever… See the post “Oh, Kale No!” for details.

I mixed the kale in, and let it cook with the black beans (covered) for about 10 minutes.


Next… time to add in the cooked pinto beans and sautéed tomatoes. Heat through. The only thing I plan to change next time around? Add 1/4 cup of lime juice at the end to counter-balance the cilantro… a little Cuban twist to some basic ingredients. (We have a favorite Cuban Red Beans and Rice from the 365 Vegetarian Meals cookbook, that is completely vegan… my youngest LOVES it…. and the ingredient that gives it that Cuban zing? Lime juice.)


By then, the potatoes, peppers, and onions were done.


The last thing, was a leftover half-loaf of French whole-grain bread. I cut it in half and then into four pieces. My youngest made her extra-special, too much butter, garlic powder, and a little salt and parsley, garlic bread in the toaster oven.

What’s funny, is that once the potatoes, beans, and bread were on the plates, I realized that this was a mash-up, remix, of one of the more common meals that we had when I was growing up… At least once a week, we had brown (pinto) beans, fried potatoes, and some kind of bread (usually cornbread).  Hmm… well, it’s a nice twist on an old tradition. I hope you will try it too!

As always, I hope this helps you to be more brave in the kitchen and try some fruit or vegetable you’ve never tried before. And remember, it’s never too late to rescue that struggling fruit or vegetable you forgot about in the cabinet or fridge. Well, until it is too late… but we get points for trying!

Cheers! 🙂