Tri-Bean Summer Salad

Posted by on August 13, 2010 in Blog, Salad, Vegetables & Vegetarian | 24 comments


I really wanted to entitle this post, “Good Job, Auntie!” I somehow managed to refrain, although I am definitely patting myself on the back right now, despite a few “hiccups”.

My 22 month old nephew came over this morning for just a few hours since he needed someone to look after him and I didn’t call in the cavalry (a.k.a. Aya-chan) to see if she was available to help, and I didn’t have Big Onechan to help me since she is at camp, so I put on my ‘big girl’ pants and said to myself, “You can do this, Judy! It’s only a few hours! You can watch a 12 month old and a 22 month old at the same time all by yourself!” So I woke up early (wait, I do this regularly anyway), got dressed very quickly (I am sometimes in pj’s through breakfast), sorta brushed my hair up into a ponytail, and even managed to put on mascara (I don’t do this regularly), got Bebe E dressed (sometimes she stays in her pj’s until after her morning nap depending on how my day is going) and got her morning milk warmed-up.

At 7:30 AM, my brother rang the doorbell, dropped off my adorable nephew and then the adventure began. Bebe E is always very excited to see her cousin. At first she was wondering why we had visitors over so early in the morning. This usually doesn’t happen, especially right after Bebe Dada leaves for work, but she happily waved ‘hello’ to her cousin and smiled.

The following are highlights and reflections from our 2 1/2 hour adventure:

♥ Kudos to all of you parents and caregivers who simultaneously watch two young infants or toddlers. It’s fun, but it’s hard work! Makes ya think twice about having more than one child close together in age…

♥ A 12 month old and a 22 month old don’t like to share. All conflicts and “play” are a result of taking things from one another. The big kid always wins.

♥ My nephew is a really good boy. He’s very patient and quietly waited and watched while I needed to care for Bebe E when she hit her face on the chair (she is cruising now so accidents like this happen regularly) or if it was her turn for a scoop of oatmeal. Yes, I managed to feed both kids at the same time alternating spoonfuls of banana oatmeal with milk for Bebe E and banana oatmeal with soy milk for my nephew. He can feed himself but he seemed to like it when I babied him and spoon-fed him. So cute.

♥ Bribes work. Wait, let’s rephrase that… incentives work.

♥ After 5 minutes of no cooperation, I resorted to trading my nephew a diaper change for putting on his crocs, going outdoors and blowing bubbles. It helped that he could see the big bottle of pink bubbles sitting on the table outside as incentive.

♥ Kids forget really easily.

♥ After my nephew’s diaper change, he and Bebe E went back to fighting over the Winnie The Pooh train (the kind you sit on and can push or be pushed) and I didn’t have to take them both outside because my nephew forgot about the bubbles. Phew!!! That would have required putting on 4 shoes on 4 little feet, spreading a blanket out for Bebe E to crawl on, putting on 2 jackets, and then blowing A LOT of bubbles, and then washing 4 hands from all the bubbles they popped. I got lucky. Bribe was forgotten. Didn’t have to go outside.

♥ It’s hard changing one diaper on the floor when you’ve got another one crawling around and curious. Not good. (Sorry, who really wants to read about diapers on a food post?!?)

♥ I forgot to hide Bebe E’s container of puff-puffs. Don’t ever forget to hide the puff-puffs.

♥ Little kids love their puff-puffs. We refer to any snack food that resembles Gerber’s Puff snacks as puff-puffs, including Cheerios, Target’s Up and Up brand Puffs, Japanese bolo (crunchy-melt-in-your-mouth milk balls), etc.

♥ Puff-puffs are great for bribes.

♥ My nephew found the container of puff-puffs and wanted some. In his cute little baby voice, he kept saying, “Auntie, puff-puffs? Puff-puffs?” but I wouldn’t give him any. Then, I told him that he could have puff-puffs only if he ate his yogurt first. So he ate his yogurt. Such a good boy!

♥ Puff-puffs bribes are not forgotten.

♥ My nephew didn’t forget about the puff-puffs bribe like he forgot about the bubbles-outside-bribe. He walked around cradling the snack tupperware of puff-puffs while he chased after me as I went to and from the kitchen. You see, I had to get Bebe E’s yogurt too because as soon as she saw me feeding my nephew it was all about yogurt for her too.

♥ There is a distinction between “special” puff-puffs and everything else. When I gave my nephew Cheerios, he said he wanted the SPECIAL puff-puffs. He was referring to the white Target brand Up and Up puffs (these are sweeter than Cheerios) and the Japanese bolo (milk balls). Apparently, sweet puff-puffs, or basically any snack besides Cheerios is a “special puff-puff”.

♥ It is not OK to lie. But I lied.

♥ I told my nephew that there are no “special” puff-puffs and that he and Bebe E could eat all the yummy puff-puffs, a.k.a. Cheerios, that I left out for them on the little table. I told him that these were SUPER SPECIAL puff-puffs. I tried to keep the container slightly hidden behind me because there were indeed “special” puff-puffs in the container that he had spied earlier.

♥ It turns out that maybe a little lie is OK. It also turns out that a little bribe is OK too.

♥ Today, I learned that I will never run my own daycare business. Because I love my nephew and I love Bebe E, I don’t mind that it takes me over an hour to eat my small bowl of ice cold oatmeal and the time I spent caring for them both, I absolutely loved and enjoyed. I truly had a good time with them.

♥ I deserved to pat myself on the back. Good Auntie! Good Mommy!

♥ My hat goes off to all you moms and dads out there with two or more little kiddies. We all know one kid is a lot of work, but when you have more than one on your hands it’s double or triple the work, but I certainly believe it’s even more rewarding.

♥ I rewarded myself by indulging on a Hershey’s milk chocolate bar, compliments of our car dealer. Anytime we get our car serviced, they give you a chocolate bar. Go figure. I always make Bebe Dada ask for two bars – one for me, one for Big Onechan. I wonder if they’ll give us three when Bebe E is old enough. I think that might be pushing it. Anyway, I remembered this chocolate bar in the fridge and promptly rewarded myself for a job well done, despite our little hiccups. Just so we’re clear, I ate the WHOLE chocolate bar. Not just a piece, not half, but the whole thing.

On to the tri-bean summer salad!

I am still in a funk. Well, I’m actually  feeling pretty good, I’m just in a foodie funk. I have tons of food that I’ve cooked over the past several weeks that I just haven’t had the inkling to write about and post! I could easily post these while I continue on my no-cooking- “casual cooking” way, but because I’ve been too tired to write, I’m only now just getting to this tri-bean salad.

This is a “no-recipe” recipe that my BFF gave to me that she learned from our friend, L. I asked my BFF to make this for a recent get-together and it was delicious, so not too long ago I tried making this myself at home, and it was perfect because it didn’t really involve any cooking. Heh. Yes, it was the perfect no-cooking-required dish for my foodie funk mood.

Unfortunately, if you don’t have access to Trader Joe’s and their can of Marinated Bean Salad, you’re on your own folks. Sorry about this. I’m sure most grocery chains have one type of marinated bean salad or another on their shelves that you could easily substitute, but I can’t guarantee that it’s as tasty as Trader Joe’s.

Tri-Bean Summer Salad

  • 1 15 oz can of Trader Joe’s Marinated Bean Salad (kidney beans, garbanzo beans, pinto beans)
  • Chopped fresh basil, sliced lengthwise
  • 1 Chopped vine-ripened tomato
  • Splash of balsamic vinaigrette
  • Fresh parmigiano reggiano shavings
  • Dash of fresh ground black pepper

The original recipe calls for a can of marinated bean salad, fresh basil and chopped tomato, but I added my own little twist to ‘kick things up’, as Bobby Flay would say. I merely added a splash of balsamic vinegar and topped the salad off with fresh parmigiano reggiano shavings and a dash of fresh ground black pepper and the salad was perfection. It was done in less than 5 minutes.

1) Chop basil lengthwise and cube tomato. I only used one tomato but if you love fresh tomatoes (which I don’t, I prefer them cooked) by all means add more tomatoes!

2) In a medium bowl, add one can of Trader Joe’s marinated bean salad (don’t drain this) and gently toss with fresh basil and tomatoes. Add only as much of the marinade into your salad as you want. Done! Well, almost.

I love me a good tart vinaigrette dressing. (Seriously, I don’t talk like this, “love me a good blank“. Not sure what’s come over me…) I sprinkled several generous drops of balsamic vinegar over the salad then tossed. You might want to taste the marinade out of the can to see if it’s tart enough for you. Finally, garnish with fresh parmigiano reggiano shavings and black pepper.

I love, love LOVE fresh parmigiano reggiano. It’s sharp, salty perfect yumminess. I bought some a while ago for a sinful plate of cholesterol-packed carbonara that I made (another post for the future) and I thought, “ooooh, the parm would be perfect on top of this salad.” I was right. It was sooo good!

So there you have it. A super simple bean salad. It’s great as a side dish or a stand-alone salad. Bebe Dada said it would be good with chips as a dip. I think Bebe Dada likes anything with a  side of chips.

Happy lazy summer days!

Judy | bebe mama


Tri-Bean Summer Salad
Recipe type: Salad
  • 1 15 oz can of Trader Joe's Marinated Bean Salad (kidney beans, garbanzo beans, pinto beans)
  • Chopped fresh basil, sliced lengthwise
  • 1 Chopped vine-ripened tomato
  • Splash of balsamic vinaigrette
  • Fresh parmigiano reggiano shavings
  • Dash of fresh ground black pepper
  1. Chop basil lengthwise and cube tomato. I only used one tomato but if you love fresh tomatoes (which I don't, I prefer them cooked) by all means add more tomatoes!
  2. In a medium bowl, add one can of Trader Joe's marinated bean salad (don't drain this) and gently toss with fresh basil and tomatoes. Add only as much of the marinade into your salad as you want.
  3. Add splash of balsamic vinaigrette, and a dash of black pepper.
  4. Top salad with fresh parmigiano reggiano shavings.


  1. avatar

    Children are really cute but they can also be very trying. My boys are two and a half years apart and I remember those days when I thought I’ll be torn apart by the two of them. You know, they grow up very fast too. Mine are now teenagers and I am dreading the day they leave home.

    The salad looks really good and simple to prepare. I do enjoy beans in my salad.

    • avatar

      Yes, they certainly do grow fast. I can’t believe a year has gone by already!

      • avatar

        It really seems like yesterday when I had to juggle 2 small kids and a full time job. They are now 24 and 21.

        I buy the same bean salad can from Trader Joe’s all the time. But I don’t usually dress it up. Thanks for the great ideas!

        • avatar

          Kudos to you, Hyosun for raising two boys so close in age. :) I bet it went by so fast. It already feels like life is speeding by…

  2. avatar

    I had fun reading about your childcare experience — especially the part about the super special puff puffs!

  3. avatar

    What an adorable post…my boys are just over 1 1/2 years apart and so so remember this :) Love the salad too, easy and cool for summer days…

    • avatar

      Thank you! And thanks for sharing that you are a mom of 2. :) That is very close in age and I admire all that you do for your boys!

  4. avatar

    When I had my second child, I quickly found out that looking after two was more than double the work of looking after one. It sounds as though you did it valiantly, with preparing this lovely, simple salad at the same time.

    • avatar

      Loved this post! Kudos to you for babysitting! Yes, I know, for us one-kidders, it is not easy! ha ha

      I love Trader Joe’s. I’ve never noticed this bean salad there before. I’m gonna have to check it out, because yours with the balsamic vinegar and parmesan look awesome…

      My son was addicted to those bolo balls. I didn’t know they were called that. My aunt from Hawaii sent us a big bag. They are too sweet for me. Very good for bribes. Hey, how could we get through a day without bribes!?

      • avatar

        Thanks, Melissa! I’d never noticed the marinated beans at TJ’s too, until I actually looked for them. The label is so unassuming it’s easy to look over.

        I didn’t know they were called bolo either until my girlfriend kept referring to them as bolo. When I finally bought some and read the katakana on the package closely, it indeed says, “bo-lo”. So funny. I never noticed it.

    • avatar

      Kudos to you for all your hard work raising two children! I only had two little ones for a few hours and I was pooped! :)

  5. avatar

    Gokurousama, Judy!!

    Taihen datta ne! The upside is that you survived 2 hrs with 2 youngins!! So, yes, I give you a pat on your shoulder and high fives!! Go, Judy, Go!!

    Bean salad……sounds interesting….I’ll see if I can find Marinated Bean Salad here in Hawaii….no Trader Joe’s. Bummer!

    • avatar

      Thanks, Friend! Yes, taihen deshita, but fun too. :) I’m sure your local grocery store carries generic brand marinated beans that should work just fine. :)

  6. avatar

    I really have to laugh at your comments about watching two little ones at the same time because I often babysit my two grandchildren, boys age 2 and 5, so I can relate to the bribes, lol, I need to get those puffy treats, thanks for sharing:-)

    • avatar

      Hi Patty, That must be fun spending time with your grandkids. :) Aren’t bribes great!?! Heh-heh.

  7. avatar

    That would be a hectic and fun day for you Judy! I don’t know if I can do it haha. Yes, the bribe works like magic!
    Great bean salad and it’s comforting on a crazy day! :D

  8. avatar

    LOL!! I love how many highlights and reflections you have from just 2.5 hours. that’s amazing.

    • avatar

      Seriously, could you imagine how many more highlights I would have if I watched them together the whole day! :)

  9. avatar

    Great job Judy. I know how hard it is to care for two toddlers. Sounds like you really had a great time.
    The salad looks lovely, I will try make them soon. I love a no cook great dish. Thank you for sharing another cute post.

    • avatar

      Thanks, Madin! No-cook recipes are definitely the best. :)

  10. avatar

    Great job taking care of two little ones, Judy! Having cared for a few nieces and nephews (although not two small ones at the same time!), I agree that “incentives” can be a real help.

    Funny, I’ve passed by those marinated beans so often but I’ve never thought to do what you did here. I love the addition of the parm, balsamic vinegar and basil. Sounds so refreshing!

    • avatar

      Thanks, Jean! Anything with a little parm and a splash of balsamic is great! ;)