Southwestern Black Bean Pasta Salad


Southwestern Black Bean Pasta Salad

I can remember when I was ten years old, wishing that I was thirteen. I wanted to be a teenager because I thought that was way cooler than being ten. Then like most, the next significant milestone was 16. I think I may have counted down the days until my birthday that year. I wanted a car but I did not get one.  It continued after that;  being impatient for graduation, first real job, wedding date, birth of a baby. Many other important dates that I looked forward to with anticipation that I now look back on with nostalgia.

Now, God willing, Greg and I will celebrate our thirtieth wedding anniversary in November. I look forward to celebrating that date because I am proud that he has been able to put up with me for this long! However, if life has taught me nothing else, it is to enjoy the moment. I’m still a planner, and I look forward to special days, but I am trying to place more emphasis on the here and the now than the tomorrows. After all, I’m not promised tomorrow. My very wise mother always told me, “don’t wish your life away.” Well, Mama, after fifty-three years I’ve started listening to you!

It’s a bit difficult to transition from serious to pasta salad, but here goes.  😂 My family enjoys anything with a little spice. We love anything with buffalo sauce, and we enjoy some Mexican and Southwestern food too! I recently tried this Southwestern Black Bean Pasta Salad, and my family went nuts. Even if you prefer your pasta salad with little other than pasta, this dressing is amazing! The lime juice and cilantro are the key ingredients in my opinion,  but leave the cilantro out if you don’t care for it.

Southwestern Black Bean Pasta Salad
  • ½ c. mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1½ tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • 12-oz. rotini pasta
  • 1 can (15 oz.) can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 can (15-oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 (4.5-oz.) can chopped green chiles, drained
  • ¼ c. chopped fresh cilantro
  1. Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain, set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, lime juice, chili powder, cumin, and salt.
  3. Add cooked and drained pasta, black beans, corn, tomatoes, chiles, and cilantro to the dressing and toss to coat.
  4. Refrigerate covered until ready to serve.


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Fried Chicken Tacos with Buttermilk Jalapeño Sauce


If you are looking for a super simple recipe to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, then you have come to the right place.  These tacos start with store-bought fried chicken fingers (or restaurant bought in my case, I went by Zaxby’s).  I  mixed up a packet of Ranch dressing mix for my dressing then combined everything in the food processor for a quick and tasty dressing.  This recipe is a Southern Living recipe, and they suggest that this dressing is also a great dip for wings.  Add more jalapeño for more heat or reduce the amount for less.  This is a great weeknight dinner that you can have on the table in very little time!

Fried Chicken Tacos with Buttermilk Jalapeño Sauce
Serves: 6
  • 1 c. refrigerated Ranch dressing
  • 1 lg. jalapeno pepper, stemmed, seeds removed
  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro (about 1½ c. loosely packed)
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 12 fried chicken breast tenders
  • 6-inch flour or corn tortillas, warmed
  • Sliced radishes
  1. Process Ranch dressing, jalapeno pepper, cilantro, garlic, and lime juice in a blender or food processor 2 to 3 seconds or well blended and almost smooth, stopping to scrape down sides as needed. Place 1 to 2 fried chicken breast tenders in each warmed tortilla. Serve with dressing and sliced radishes.



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Shrimp Ceviche



I have the pleasure of bringing you this recipe from Destin, Florida. Greg and I are on a fall getaway. The last few years of my life, as a parent, has been an adjustment. With both of my kids in college, unless they need money, they don’t need us around anymore. Being able to pick up and travel without worrying about a school schedules or children’s activities is nice. Greg went deep sea fishing a few times, I have been able to do a little Christmas shopping, and we have had excellent seafood!

Because I am at the beach this week, I am sharing a fabulous ceviche recipe. Ceviche (“suh-vee-chey”) is a marinated seafood salad. It is typically made with raw fish or shrimp, cut into bite-size pieces and marinated in acidic fruit juices, such as lime, lemon, grapefruit and/or orange juice. The citric acid in the juice alters the structure of the proteins of the fish or shrimp and “cooks” it. This technique does not kill bacteria and parasites as well as heat, so it is important to start with the freshest cleanest fish or shrimp possible.

This particular ceviche recipe uses cooked shrimp. For convenience, you could even use thawed frozen pre-cooked shrimp. I used fresh shrimp and cooked them for just 1 to 2 minutes in boiling water. Serve with corn chips or saltines for an incredible light lunch or appetizer.

(This recipe appeared in The Courier Herald on October 28, 2015.)

AAA Amye Signature for blog

Shrimp Ceviche
1½ lbs. shrimp, peeled & deveined 1 mango, diced 1 small red onion, chopped ½ bunch cilantro, chopped 1 jalapeño pepper, seeds removed & diced 4 limes, squeezed 4 lemons, squeeze ½ orange, squeezed ½ grapefruit, squeezed Salt to taste
  • 1½ lbs. shrimp, peeled & deveined
  • 1 mango, diced
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • ½ bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeds removed & diced
  • 4 limes, squeezed
  • 4 lemons, squeeze
  • ½ orange, squeezed
  • ½ grapefruit, squeezed
  • Salt to taste
  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add shrimp and cook for 1 to 2 minutes. Drain, rinse in cold water, drain thoroughly and set aside.
  2. Squeeze juice of fruit into a large bowl. Cut shrimp into ½-inch pieces and add to juice. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
  3. Combine diced mango, onion, and pepper in a bowl, add chopped cilantro. Stir into shrimp and juice mixture. Add salt to taste. Cover and marinate for 2 more hours.
  4. Serve with corn chips or saltine crackers.
Best made the day before serving. However, drain off the citrus juice after the specified marinating time.



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Chewy Key Lime Bars

Wes is the only person is our household right now that has no desire to eat a low-carb diet.  Truth be told, I’m showing signs on weakness myself.  He was complaining the other day and when I heard, for the thousandth time, “We have nothing to eat in this house”, I decided to do something about it.  I made him creamed potatoes last night for dinner, I bought him chips & Little Debbies, & I made him these Chewy Key Lime Bars.

Wesley loves Key Lime Pies.  In fact, it’s what he wants for his birthday every year.  When I searched for a Key Lime Bar recipe all I could find was a bar that had a graham cracker crust and a filling like a pie…that’s not what I wanted.  I ended up taking my Cranberry Bliss Bar recipe and making a few changes.  The end result is a delicious, chewy bar with great key lime flavor.


Chewy Key Lime Bars
  • Bars:
  • 1 c. unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 c. light brown sugar, packed
  • ⅓ c. granulated sugar
  • 2 lg. eggs, room temperature
  • ¼ c. key lime juice
  • 1 tbsp. lime zest
  • 2 c. all-purpose flour
  • ¾ tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • ¾ c. white chocolate chips
  • ¾ c. coarsely chopped macadamia nuts
  • Frosting:
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, softened
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 tbsp. key lime juice
  • 1 tsp. lime zest
  • 3 c. powdered sugar
  • .
  1. Line a 10 x 15-inch pan with parchment paper, set aside.
  2. Sift flour, baking powder, and salt into a bowl and set aside.
  3. Beat butter and sugars with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time and mix just until blended. Add lime juice and lime zest, stirring to combine. Add flour mixture and mix just until blended. (Do not over beat) Stir in chips and macadamia nuts.
  4. Spoon into prepared pan and spread evenly. Bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes or until light brown, just around edges. Watch closely and do no overbake. Cool completely.
  5. To make frosting beat cream cheese and butter until blended. Add powdered sugar and beat until light and fluffy. Add key lime juice and zest, mix well.
  6. Frost bars and sprinkle top with a chopped macadamia nuts, if desired. Store in airtight container.
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Marniated Cheese

Merry Christmas!

I hope you are all having a wonderful Christmas.  We have had a great season so far, spending time with family and friends, and eating way too much!

I’m sharing a recipe that I got from a neighbor in Florida several years ago.  She gave me the original version, but with a few changes you can make a Southwestern version too.  I’ve served both many times and everyone always loves it.  I think it’s best with Ritz crackers, but you can use any crackers you like.


Marniated Cheese
  • ½ c. olive oil
  • ½ c. white wine vinegar
  • 3 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
  • 3 tbsp. minced green onions
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • ¾ tsp. dried basil
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 8-oz. mild cheddar cheese
  • 8-oz. pepper jack cheese
  • 8-oz. cream cheese
  1. Combine oil and vinegar, whisking to mix. Add chopped parsley, minced green onion, minced garlic, sugar, basil, salt and black pepper, set aside.
  2. Cut mild cheddar and pepper jack cheeses in half lengthwise. Cut into ¼-inch slices.
  3. You can stick cream cheese in the freezer for a while and slice it up like you did the cheddar and pepper jack. as I do and using a butter knife spread about 1 tsp. room temperature cream cheese on cheese slices, arranging alternately in a shallow baking dish, standing slices on edge. Pour marinate over cheese slices.
  4. Cover and marinate in refrigerator at least 8 hours.
  5. Serve with crackers.

Southwestern Version
  1. Omit dried basil.
  2. Add ½ of a 7.5-oz. jar roasted sweet red peppers, drained and diced.
  3. Add ¼ c. fresh lime juice.
  4. Omit parsley.
  5. Add 3 tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro.

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