Red Salad with Sweet Honey Garlic Dijon Dressing

This is delicious. I’m trying to eat healthy because the weather finally turned cold, well, cold for LA, which means cold at night. So now I’m craving mac & cheese. And steak. I love food and cooking so much, I could easily weigh 50,000 lbs. But I have to stay healthy. I made this big salad for lunch yesterday. I made extra so we could have it with dinner last night. I had some as part of breakfast today with eggs and potato cakes. This sweet crunchy salad makes you forget all about the foods that are bad for you. Sorta.

You can use any kind of salad greens and veggies you like or have on hand in your salad. I used red leaf lettuce, shredded beets, celery, julienned radicchio, thinly sliced purple cabbage, lemon slices and pomegranate seeds. Cleaning and chopping the veggies takes a bit of time, so make extra. You’ll be happy to have something healthy and ready to serve when suppertime rolls around. This goes great with all other foods. We had it for dinner last night with Asparagus Risotto. It was really good. It’s dressed with garlic honey mustard dressing. 

For the dressing, mix together: 1 tblsp dijon mustard, the juice of 1 lemon, 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons plain white vinegar (for a nice strong vinegar bite), 2 tablespoons honey, a pinch of Italian seasoning, a pinch of dried tarragon, 1 garlic clove, smashed open and just let it sit in the dressing to flavor it, and salt and pepper. I think this dressing recipe makes about ¾ cup. Add more honey or vinegar to taste. You could also add the juice or an orange or tangerine for more acidity and sweetness.

Keep the dressing and salad separate until ready to serve. The vinegar makes the veggies wilt, so it doesn’t keep long once dressed. The veggies stay crisp in the fridge for a couple days without dressing. Add nuts, sliced pears or apples, and crispy garlic croutons if you get a hankering’. Serve with risotto, or grilled fish. Or mac & cheese and steak. Yum! 

Tex-mex weekend brunch: eggs roasted in sweet pointed peppers, with chilli and freshly made tortilla chips.

Both Danielle and I are pretty lazy and slow-moving on weekend mornings, so it’s usually 11 o'clock or so before we get around to eating anything, by which point we’re starving. So elaborate and hearty brunches are very much a thing for us – you can see some of my previous efforts.

This dish was inspired by a post by Delishy Town that I spotted on Tumblr’s food tag page.

It was easy to make, too:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 deg C (375 deg F).
  2. Dice half an onion, fry gently for a few minutes.
  3. Finely dice a handful of mushrooms, add to the pan with the onions.
  4. Optional: discover some leftover taco meat in the fridge from when your wife made nachos. Throw that in too.
  5. Add a tin of chopped tomatoes to the pan. Bring to the boil, season, add spices if desired, and leave to simmer and reduce a little while you do the next bit.
  6. Get some of those long, red, pointed peppers that most supermarkets sell these days. Halve them through the stalk and carefully remove the ribs and seeds.
  7. Turn the chilli mix out into an ovenproof dish. Put the peppers on top. One by one, crack eggs into a small bowl, then pour them into the peppers.
  8. Cover with grated cheese.
  9. Put the whole lot into the oven for 10-15 minutes, until the cheese is browned and the egg cooked through.
  10. Get a couple of tortillas and quarter them with a sharp knife. Dip some kitchen towel in flavourless cooking oil (vegetable or groundnut) and wipe the tortillas down. Put them on a baking sheet.
  11. Put the tortillas in the oven for the last 5 minutes of the cooking time.

It was very tasty, and a nice change from the normal sorts of things we eat for brunch. –Rich


White Chocolate Strawberry Buttercream Cake

I made cake. Does anybody want some cake? This came out amazingly delicious, and it was quick and easy because it’s doctored up cake mix with melted butter and white chocolate chips added to both the cake batter, and the buttercream frosting. Buy extra strawberries for the garnish, and white chocolate chips when you buy the cake mix. You’ll also need butter, powdered sugar and eggs.  

The first thing I did was make the layer of strawberry jam for the middle. You can use store bought jam to make this even faster, but I had a lot of berries I wanted to use up. In a saucepan, combine 1 to 2 cups cut up strawberries, juice of ½ lemon, 2 tsp sugar and 1 tsp fruit pectin, (optional, but I had it, and it does help it to jell up.) Simmer for about 20 minutes then put it in the fridge to cool.

For the cake layers: I used a small box of vanilla cake mix from Trader Joe’s. Pre heat oven to 350. Let 2 sticks of butter come to room temp.

Melt ½ cup white chocolate chips with ½ cup butter in the microwave for 20 seconds. (Add another few seconds if it didn’t melt all the way, but don’t over cook it.) Mix it around with a fork and let cool for a few minutes. Now add the cake mix, 2 eggs, and 1 cup cold milk. Mix just until smooth. Pour into prepared cake pans. I cut a circle of parchment on the bottom of each pan, and buttered the edges for easy removal.

Bake the cakes for about 20 minutes (or more if you use a different brand of cake mix with a bigger box, the TJ’s box isn’t that big, so these cooked fast) until it springs back when you touch it and a toothpick comes out clean. Let the cakes cool. 

For the White Chocolate Buttercream Frosting: Melt ½ cup white chocolate chips in the microwave for 20 seconds, let cool. Add ½ cup room temperature butter. Beat with a mixer until creamy. Add 2-3 cups powdered sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, and 1 tblsp cold milk. Beat until super creamy and amazing. Lick the beaters, share one with your husband.

To assemble, chop up a bunch of strawberries. I used the reddest ones on the outside, cut in half. Put one cake on a serving plate, add frosting, top with the fresh strawberry jam and chopped berries. Add the second cake. Frost the whole thing and decorate with strawberries and leftover white chocolate chips. Yum!

Bolognese with Egg Noodles

It’s drizzling today. This is the perfect kind of comfort food for chilly, rainy days. I could eat this every day, it’s so delicious! 

In a heavy bottomed pot, saute chopped onions seasoned with salt and pepper in 2-3 tablespoons olive oil and 1tablespoon butter. Add chopped celery, chopped carrots and chopped garlic. Once they’re softened and fragrant, push the veggies off to the side and add grass fed ground beef, and a little more salt and pepper. I like to use grass fed ground beef, but it’s especially important in a dish like this where the meat is the main flavor of the sauce. Let the meat sear and get color on the bottom, (also important for flavor).  

 Let the ingredients cook together until the meat is no longer pink. Drain off any fat. Add 7 or 8 chopped mushrooms and let them cook until they get some color. Add 1 can whole peeled tomatoes, blended, a pinch of cinnamon, ½ tsp dried basil, ¼ tsp sugar, 1 cup red wine, 1 tblsp tomato paste, ( I like the kind that comes in a tube, I keep it in the fridge and use it for stuff like this as needed), salt and pepper, and a bay leaf. Bring up to heat then reduce to simmer, stirring occasionally to prevent it from sticking on the bottom. Let it simmer and bubble for a while until it thickens and becomes amazing. Meanwhile heat a pot of salted water for the spaghetti. Cook according to package directions until al dente. When you drain it, reserve a little of the cooking water. Toss the spaghetti with the sauce in a pot on the stove, adding a little bit of the water from the spaghetti pot if you need to thin it out slightly. The starchy water helps the whole thing come together. Top with Parmigiano reggiano and fresh basil leaves. I like wide noodles with this, it’s also good with macaroni.

J.C.’s Lemon Blueberry Pie

This is one of the amazingly delicious desserts going in my Dad’s cookbook. I waited to make this until yesterday, I didn’t think it would be that exciting. I was wrong, it was so good! This sweet, tangy pie is delectable with every bite. Get your face in this pie right now. 

My Dad’s recipe calls for a graham cracker crust, but I had ground almond flour in the pantry, so I decided to make gluten free almond crust so my Sister could have some. I love the Almond crust! It’s got a buttery, nutty taste that plays against the creamy lemon filling and the fresh bite of fruity, blueberry topping. The whipped cream makes the whole thing extra decadent and it’s fun to use the whipped cream air canister thingy. 

For blueberry topping: The recipe calls for canned blueberry pie filling, but I had a bag of organic blueberries in my freezer so I made it from scratch. In a saucepan, 2 cups frozen blueberries, the juice of 1 lemon, 1 ½ tablespoons corn starch, 2 to 3 tablespoons brown sugar and a pinch of salt. Simmer until it thickens up and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350.

For the crust, the easiest method is to buy a pre made graham cracker crust, or you could make graham cracker crust from scratch, or do the scratch made Almond crust you see here. Combine 4 tblsp melted butter with 1 ½ cups ground almond meal, (or 1 ½ cups ground up Graham crackers) a pinch of salt and 2 tblsp brown sugar. Press into the bottom of a pie dish and up the sides. Bake for 8 - 10 minutes and cool. 

For the lemony filing: Mix 1 can sweetened condensed milk, 3 egg yolks, the juice and zest of 1 lemon. Pour into the pie shell and bake for 12 to 18 minutes until it firms up. Cool. Serve with the blueberry sauce and whipped cream. Yum!! Refrigerate the leftovers if there are any.


Homemade Mexican Food 

 I love to make serious Mexican food from scratch. I live and work in Southern California, so there are Mexican restaurants all around. Most of them are awesome. The ones I don’t love as much are maybe not my favorite because their ingredients aren’t the best, like cheap corn products, or questionable meats. So sometimes I like to spend a couple hours making homemade Mexican everything from scratch. Home made Mexican food, using the best quality ingredients, is delicious and easy to do. It’s a little time consuming, but worth the flavor explosion. The Mexican grocery stores around here are cheaper than any other grocery stores, so that’s good too.

The top picture was the other dish I made to possibly submit to the cheesy Chopped competition, taquitos, stuffed with chicken and poblanos, with ancho chili cheese dipping sauce, shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes and fresh guacamole. It was delicious. My Hubby and I loved every bite. I didn’t use this photo because after I made it, I saw on their inspiration page they suggest taquitos, so I changed my dish to Fried Chicken & Waffles. Thanks to anybody who voted for me. They don’t announce the winner of round 2 until June 27th. Fingers are crossed and all good luck charms in my small jeans pocket. 

The second picture is a chicken and bean tostada I made the next day because I still had a lot of ingredients. This dish has home made restaurant style salsa, avocado crema, and beans and rice. This was also amazingly delicious. Here are some of the basic components I like to make for a Mexican feast. 

For easy Guacamole: mash avocado, mince shallot, squeeze of fresh lime or lemon, chopped cilantro, chopped tomato, s & p. 

For Avocado Crema: Mix plain yogurt or Mexican crema with a few spoonfuls of the Guacamole.

For easy Salsa: Fresh tomatoes (or a can of tomatoes) in a blender, salt & pepper, 1 garlic clove, chopped cilantro, 1 seeded jalapeño or red chili flakes, lemon or lime juice. Blend until blended but still chunky. Add minced onion that you have rinsed in cold water, at the end. The rinsing is so the onion doesn’t take over.

Tomatillo Salsa: Roast hulled tomatillos in the oven, at 400, with a small onion, a jalapeño pepper, and 2 garlic cloves, for about 20 minutes. Blend the cooked ingredients with lemon or lime juice, cilantro, salt and pepper. 

For Easy Taquitos: Roll your favorite cooked ingredients (chicken, potatoes, charred peppers, cheese) in a softened corn tortilla, secure with toothpicks, fry in hot oil for 3 or 4 minutes.

Easy Cheesy Ancho Sauce: 1 tbsp Butter, minced shallot, salt, pepper, 1 tbsp flour, cook until flour cooks, 1-2 min. Add 1 ½ cups chicken stock or Milk, whisk until it thickens. Turn off heat, add 1 cup shredded cheese and 1 tsp Ancho chili powder. yum.

Easy Tostadas: Fry organic Non GMO corn tortillas in hot oil until crisp. Top with refried beans, cooked chicken seasoned with chili powder, cumin and coriander, lettuce,  tomatoes, guac or avocado cream, & salsa.

For easy Mexican Rice: Oil or butter in a pan, add chopped onions, chopped garlic, chopped jalapeño, and rice. Sauté all ingredients together until fragrant. Add chopped tomatoes, s & p, and enough liquid to cook your rice, I think it’s usually 2 c water to 1 c rice.

For easy Refried Beans: The easiest way is buy a can of low fat organic refried beans. You could doctor it up with Ancho chili powder, maybe a little garlic powder, maybe a little cumin, or just heat it up and let the rest of the stuff you made flavor the beans. The slightly harder, but still easy way, is to buy dry beans, wash them, cook in a big pot with several cups of water or chicken stock, cook for a couple or more hours, add salt and seasonings, mash. Add to a baking dish with some cooked rice, top with cheese, bake until the cheese melts. 

Garnishes for me always include shredded lettuce, chopped cilantro, chopped tomatoes, and a fresh squeeze of lemon or lime. Seriously Yum.


Edible landscape update:

We Have Grapes! Yummm, I took these photos this morning in the back yard. I must wait until this bunch is mostly rosy pink before I cut it off the vine and devour them. Waiting is hard work…. are they pink yet?

The first pic in this series shows a massive squash vine that volunteered and is taking over a large portion of the back yard. It’s got these little squashes on it that look like a cross between two other squashes from last year. It also has tons of flowers. I might be making stuffed squash blossoms later today. The other plants in that pic include strawberries, lemongrass, tomatoes, kale, oregano and blueberry shrubs. The second picture is a blooming artichoke. Last picture, Grapes!

Lemony Apple Pancake

This was our delicious breakfast today. Our friends gave us two huge bags of apples from the tree in their front yard. And we have a bunch of lemons from another friends garden. So I thought it might be a good idea to make this Apple Pancake again. Yum! This is delicious and easy! You make this using the same batter as a Dutch Baby. It’s good to do the batter first and let it rest while you slice and cook the apples because the apples cook so quickly. I’ve done it the other way around and screwed up the texture of the pancake because I rushed through the batter.

Heat oven to 400.

In a blender, 4 eggs, ¾ cup milk, ¾ cup sifted all purpose flour, ½ tsp baking powder, dash of salt, a sprinkle of cinnamon, ½ tsp vanilla extract, 2 tblsp sugar, 2 tblsp melted butter. Blend for 30 seconds. Let the batter rest.

Meanwhile, sauté 3 or 4 peeled & sliced apples in 2 tblsp butter for a few minutes. Add a sprinkle of cinnamon, some fresh grated nutmeg and a little salt to the cooking apples. Spread into a single layer, sprinkle with a tsp of sugar, pour the Dutch Baby batter over the apples, and bake for 15-20 minutes or so at 400. Garnish with powdered sugar and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.

Happy Saturday Tumblrs!


Here are more easy and delicious Mexican dishes from my archives including enchiladas, tacos, margarita chicken, chimichurri steak, tortilla soup and empanadas. Yum!

Kale and White Bean Soup with Meatless Nutballs

These vegetarian meatballs were so good. I ate three of them when they came out of the oven, while still making the soup. Then I inhaled this dish after I took the photo. They were so delicious with the tomatoey broth. If you want something meaty, but are avoiding eating meat for whatever reason, you’ll like these Nutty Vegballs. That is what he said.

I was on my way to the store and asked my Man what he had a taste for. He said “meatball soup”. I was like, “Yum! turkey meatballs?” And he said “or just get a bag of veggie meatballs from the freezer”. Hmmm, those things are awful. I decided to make my own. I wanted vegetarian meatballs with umami flavor and meaty texture that wouldn’t fall apart in the soup. I looked up vegetarian meatball recipes. Some of them had nuts, so I decided to add nuts to see if they’d add meatiness. It worked, the nuts give these veggie meatballs a delicious texture and savoriness. I used sunflower seeds, almonds and a few sesame seeds. Along with eggs and garbanzo beans, they held together and had a great bite. The cheese and worcestershire add to the umami flavor. 

Heat oven to 350. Butter a cookie sheet.

In a food processor, process ½ cup sunflower nutmeats and 2 tblsp almonds until they become tiny bits, but not powder. Add to a bowl. Process 1 can garbanzo beans until crumbly, add those to the bowl. Stir in ½ cup bread crumbs, 1 small minced onion, 1 minced shallot, 3 smashed and chopped cloves garlic, 2 tblsp olive oil, a sprinkle of garlic powder, dash each of worcestershire & soy sauce, 1 tblsp sesame seed, salt, pepper, celery salt, 2 tsp dried basil, 2 tblsp leftover pesto if you have any, 2 eggs, ¼ cup grated cheddar, ¼ cup grated parmesan. Mix well to combine & don’t over mix.

Roll the balls smaller than a golf ball. Place on the cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes until hot and cooked through. 

For the Kale and Cabbage Soup: Sauté one diced parsnip, 2 chopped carrots, 2 chopped celery stalks, 1 small minced onion, 3 cloves garlic and 1 shallot in a little olive oil until fragrant. Add one large can diced tomatoes, 2 cups veggie broth, 1 can rinsed and drained organic white beans, 1 cup chopped cabbage, celery salt, pepper, pinch of dried basil, large pinch of dried parsley, ½ tsp sugar. Simmer about 10 or 15 minutes until desired doneness. Add ½ cup chopped kale. Serve over the Veggieballs, garnish with a squeeze of fresh lemon and parmesan shavings. Yum!


Addicted to Crack Salad

I gave my Brother in Law a jar of this Miso Ginger Dressing and he said it was like Crack. This dressing is way better than Crack because it won’t leave you dying on the floor in a quivering mass of sadness, regret and heart failure. It also makes all of your vegetables taste amazing, Crack doesn’t do that. I digress.

In a bowl, grate a small nub of fresh ginger root, smash open one fresh garlic clove (you just leave it in the dressing, smashed open and whole, to flavor the dressing but not overpower it), 2 tblsp rice wine vinegar, 1 tblsp miso paste, 2 tblsp tahini paste, 3 tblsp honey or (1 tblsp sugar or brown sugar,) fresh ground black pepper (no additional salt is needed because the miso paste is very salty), a tiny amount of red pepper flakes (you can add more to taste on individual salad plates, this way it’s versatile for different palates) and 1 tblsp salad oil. Mix well and dissolve all lumps, except the lump of garlic. Serve on freshly chopped raw vegetables, I used red cabbage, garden kale, arugula, carrots, cucumbers and green onions.  You could serve this with roasted sweet potatoes and cooked quinoa to make it into a full dinner instead of just a salad.

The dressing will store in the fridge for a couple weeks. Take the garlic clove out after a day so it doesn’t overpower the whole thing.

The kale in this salad is from our garden. We have 4 kinds of kale growing in our garden right now; Russian Red, Curly Purple, Curly Green, and Tuscan Lacinato Kale. I love Kale salad! Good thing it’s really good for me because I can’t stop eating it. The great thing about growing Kale is that it’s remarkably heat tolerant and sturdy, unlike softer lettuces and greens, which wither in the heat, get bitter and start to bolt. This stuff keeps right on growing from spring into summer, and is harvestable even during the hottest part of the day. Yum!

J. C.’s Shepherd’s Pie

We made these delicious Shepherd’s Pies yesterday for my Dad’s Cookbook. I’m getting close to being done with cooking and photography for this project, but I still have to layout all the pages and export the files to go to the printer. I’m going to be working on it all week. It’s a lot of work, but I like working on big projects. These recipes are all coming out great, I think my Dad is going to be really surprised to get a recipe book of all his dishes for a birthday present.

This was delicious and easy. Here’s how to make J. C.’s Shepherd’s Pie:

Make mashed potatoes by boiling 5 or 6 potatoes in salted water, drain and mash with ¼ cup milk and 1 tblsp butter. Set aside while you make the filling.

My Dad’s version has ground beef, but You can easily make a vegetarian version of this by sautéing the veggies, maybe add some garbanzo or kidney beans, and then make veggie gravy the same way as described below, with flour and butter or oil, and veggie stock. 

Heat oven to 400

Brown 1 lb. Grass fed ground beef seasoned with celery salt & pepper. Drain away any fat. Add chopped vegetables, 1 onion, 2 carrots, 3 stalks celery and 4 crushed garlic cloves. Cook until fragrant. Remove all the veggies and meat from the pan and add 1 tblsp butter and 1 tblsp flour. Cook for a minute or two and whisk in 2 cups beef stock, and ½ bottle of beer, drink the other half. Whisk until it thickens up and add back the other ingredients. At this point add ½ cup corn, ½ cup peas and a big handful of chopped green beans. Season with celery salt, a little more pepper, big pinch of dried basil, a sprinkle of cinnamon, and 1 tablespoon Hungarian paprika or smoked paprika.

Cook the strew until it thickens up a little, about 10 minutes. Spoon into casserole dishes, top with some of the the mashed potatoes and swirl the top around to get crunchy bits, top with cheddar cheese if you want. Bake for 10 minutes until the cheese melts and its bubbly and hot.


I’m 43 follows away from reaching 100,000 followers here on my sweet tumblrs! Whaat? This is so exciting. My husband says we have to drink some champagne when it gets there. Ha ha

Thanks everybody for all the love and all the follows! I’ll try to do my best work ever in 2014 and make delicious, homegrown food for you all!

Happy New Year Tumblrs!  

Love, Betty a.k.a.  Delishytown

Lemon Garlic & Herb Chicken with Lemony Carrots and Potatoes

Hi Tumblrs! Happy Friday! I hope you are all having a fine summer and enjoying the start of Fall. Summer has been going by so fast! I’m shocked that the kids are back in school already. Is that just a California thing? The days are getting shorter, and nights are getting cooler. Yay, I love it. I’m still cooking, gardening and writing as much as I can. I have about 3 to 5 vegetable gardens I’m working on, in various stages of growth, harvest, demise, replanting, re-seeding, watering, weeding, fertilizing, pest and critter control etc. Anyway, all that work makes me hungry.   

This is an easy dish to make if you have a busy schedule but still want some amazing home cooking. My husband and I always say “home food is best”. It’s true, not just because of price, going out to eat is expensive, but it’s way more cozy and relaxing at home. And you’ll always buy or grow better quality ingredients for yourself than a restaurant will, like free range organic chicken, the most flavorful olive oil, and organic vegetables. 

Here is an easy dish perfect for chilly nights when you worked your ass off all day long and just want to throw everything in the oven and watch some smellovsision. This dish is lemony, garlicky, and deliciously savory. It’s addictive. You will find yourself eating the lemon slices from the top of the dish, they come out like tangy candy.

This is easy, the whole dish cooks in one pan. Here’s how: Wash and dry cut up chicken pieces, add to a large baking or roasting pan. Wash, clean and cut 2 to 4 potatoes into large 2 inch -ish cubes. Same with 3 or 4 carrots. Peel 1 onion and slice into large wedges. Crush and mince 5 to 8 garlic cloves. Chop fresh parsley, basil, cilantro, tarragon, dill, whatever you have, or all of them. Add all of these to a large baking dish, drizzle with about 4 tbsp olive oil, kosher salt and pepper, and 1 tablespoon palm sugar or brown sugar, optional. Cut a large lemon in half, squeeze the lemon juice on, straining out the seeds. Slice another small lemon into rounds, try to remove as many seeds as possible. Toss to coat everything. Arrange the pan with the chicken pieces on top of the vegetables, and lemon slices on top of the chicken. Add another grind of fresh ground pepper and another small pinch of kosher salt. Bake at 375 for about 45 min to 1 hour until cooked through and amazing. Yum! Home cooking is the best. 

Smokey Andouille Red Beans and Rice

This sausage and two bean stew is delicious. I used small dried red beans that are sold in bulk or in a bag, and 1 can of organic red kidney beans. The small red beans are creamy and amazing when they cook down, and the kidney beans have a nice meaty bite. This is delicious and cheap and tastes even better the next day. This recipe makes a lot of stew so you can share it with your friends. We used smokey andouille sausage to build the flavor. If you don’t eat meat, use veggie sausage or just omit it. It’s easy to build flavor with paprika, chili powder, celery salt and fresh veggie stock. From the garden we used parsley, fennel, celery, and our first poblano pepper in this dish. Fresh garden vegetables have the best flavor. 

Wash and sort dried red beans, cover with water and soak overnight. Soaking overnight helps them cook faster. Make veggie stock by simmering onions, celery, carrots, fresh fennel and garlic for 40 minutes or so. Strain stock and set aside. Or use a carton of purchased veggie or chicken stock. Or use both. 

Sear sausage in a heavy bottomed stew pot and set aside. In the same pot sauté chopped veggies: 1 small sweet onion, 1 bell or poblano pepper, 2 celery stalks and 5 cloves of garlic in 2 tblsp olive oil. Rinse the soaked beans and add them to the pot with about 3 or 4 cups stock, 1 can of rinsed, drained kidney beans and the sausage. Season with 1 tsp smoked paprika, a little chipotle chili powder, 1 tsp ground coriander, ¼ tsp cumin, and fresh ground black pepper. Turn heat to low and cover to simmer.

I don’t salt at the beginning of the bean cooking process because I’ve read that it makes the beans take longer to cook. Once the beans soften a bit, after about ½ hour or 45 minutes, add celery salt to taste. Continue to cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until the beans are creamy and the gravy is thickened. Serve with parsley rice. 

I cook rice in an unconventional way and it comes out almost perfect almost every time. I cook it sort of the way you cook pasta, in lots of water, then quickly strain and cover to steam. Rinse 1 cup Basmati rice in a sauce pan a few times until the water runs clear. Add 4 or more cups cold water and ½ tsp salt. Bring to a boil. Turn the heat to medium low and keep an eye on it. After simmering for 6-8 minutes or so, taste a few grains for texture. Once the rice is al dente, drain in a mesh strainer, add it quickly back to the pot with 2 tblsp chopped parsley and a little butter or olive oil and cover to steam. To make the fancy rice & beans presentation, ladle the bean stew into a soup dish, press the rice into a small bowl sprayed with olive oil spray, then turn it over on top of the bean and sausage stew. Yum! 


Roasted Eggplant Parmesan in Homemade Marinara

 I definitely cook more at this time of year because we get invited to parties. I love cooking savory food for a party on a chilly night. This recipe is completely delicious! This is one of the dishes I’ve been making for years that I would eat every single day. At the last party I brought this to, it was gone in about 10 minutes. This dish features roasted eggplant, instead of breaded and fried, so it’s kinda healthy depending on the amount of cheese you use. You could make it vegan by using vegan cheese or no cheese at all. Or You could make it really decadent by adding extra cheese. Either way, the bread crumbs give it a nice topping. I add the bread crumbs on top so I don’t miss them on the inside. 

To make this you’ll need: 1 - 2 large cans whole peeled tomatoes, 1 small sweet onion, fresh garlic, good olive oil, s & p, 1 or 2 medium to large eggplants, mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, cheddar cheese or whatever your favorite cheese, Italian seasoning or dried basil, & bread crumbs, panko or regular. 

Heat oven to 375

Slice eggplant ¼ to ½ inch thick. Lay the eggplant on paper towels and salt on both sides with kosher salt. Wait 10 minutes or so for them to release water. Brush the salt off and dry the eggplant. Place on a cookie sheet.

Brush eggplant with olive oil. Season with pepper and salt. Roast until they get color & are still somewhat firm, about 12 minutes, flipping over halfway.  They cook again in the sauce. Remove from oven and set aside.

Meanwhile, for Marinara sauce: This is the recipe that started this blog because my friend Jodi said I should write a tumblr to teach her “how to cook that spaghetti sauce I (you) make”, ha ha! Hi Jokey! Merry Christmas!

Heat a skillet to medium low heat, Saute 1 chopped sweet onion in 2 tbsp olive oil. Cook until caramelized, add 4 or 8 minced garlic cloves and a little more olive oil. Open a can of whole peeled tomatoes and pour the juices into the caramelized onion and garlic and don’t stir. Let it bubble and get dark red. That’s the flavor of the sauce right there. This takes about 3 or 4 minutes, bubbling on low. You’ll notice the difference in the flavor of your sauce. Now, chop or food processor the rest of the tomatoes from the can and add them to the sauce. Stir and let it get thick, about 10 more minutes. If you like your marinara sauce really chunky, leave them whole and just break them apart with the spoon. Add a big pinch of dried basil, or Italian seasoning, and or fresh chopped basil and parsley. 

Layer a buttered baking dish with marinara sauce on the bottom, eggplant, then marinara, and then copious amounts of cheese, and repeat. Combine panko bread crumbs with a dash of salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil. Sprinkle over the casserole and bake at 375 for 45 minutes until all the cheese is melty and amazing. Yum! 

Happy weekend Tumblrs!

New Potato, Leek and Chard Frittata 

We made this Potato, Leek and Golden Chard Frittata mostly from the garden. It was so fresh, bright and delicious. Both my husband and I couldn’t stop saying how good it was with every single bite. There’s nothing tastier than freshly picked food. The eggs, bread, bacon and cheese are from the grocery store, but the leeks, new potatoes, Swiss chard and cherry tomatoes have been growing in our garden since winter. The cherry tomato plant is in a pot near a south facing wall. It never died all the way down, and now it’s come back to life and is giving us a few tomatoes each day. The blackberries are from our thornless blackberry vine which is three years old and has started producing lots of fruit this year. This is the biggest harvest we’ve gotten so far and the berries are so delicious. We have several pots of Swiss chard growing. It’s delicious and mild, easy to grow and very versatile. And don’t get me started on how much fun it is to grow potatoes. Because I won’t stop. It’s really fun and easy to grow potatoes. And free organic potatoes. Harvesting them is like winning a prize. Congratulations, you win potatoes.

Here’s how to make a Garden Chard Frittata:

Heat oven to 400. 

Cook some bacon until crispy and set aside on paper towels. Bacon. 

In a skillet, sauté sliced leeks (or shallots or onions) in a little olive oil or butter. Add diced new potatoes, about ¼ cup or 1 small potato. Cook together, season with a little salt and pepper. Once the potatoes start to soften, add washed and spun chopped Swiss chard, stems and all. Once the greens cook down, about 4 minutes, add 4 scrambled eggs, a few chopped cherry tomatoes, and your favorite grated cheese. Place in the oven until the eggs firm up and the cheese melts. Serve with crumbled bacon on top and a side of toast and fruit. 


Organic Red Lentil & Vegetable Soup 

I love this soup, it’s hearty, savory, sweet and delicious. It’s seasoned with tangy, lemony sumac, one of my favorite spices. This is vegan, gluten free, and non GMO, if you use organic ingredients to make it. I bought the organic carrots, sweet onions, and celery at our farmer’s market. The split red lentils are from my favorite company, Edison Grainery. They have a delicious taste and a wonderful texture

This is easy to make and only takes about 45 minutes of chopping and simmering until all the flavors come together. 

Chop 1 large sweet onion, 1 large organic carrot, 2 stalks organic celery, saute in 2 tbsp organic olive oil or your favorite cooking oil. Add 2 big garlic cloves, crushed, a pinch of kosher salt, a grind of fresh black pepper, and 2 tbsp tomato paste. Continue to simmer until the garlic and tomato paste become fragrant. Add 1 bay leaf, 2 cups water, ½ to 1 whole tsp soup base depending on how salty you like it, 1 small can diced tomatoes, 1 tablespoon dried parsley, 1 to 3 teaspoons sumac depending on how tangy you like your soup, and ½ tsp coriander powder. 

Simmer and stir on low until all the ingredients tenderize and become sweeter. For more sweetness, you could add a drizzle of honey, about ½ tsp. For more brightness, add a squeeze of fresh lemon.

I love to garnish this with lots of sumac, so that it’s nice and tangy. My husband doesn’t love sour flavors as much as I do, so I add the extra sumac just in my own bowl and leave his more savory / sweet. Serve with toasted croutons and a big salad. Yum!

Goat Cheese, Roasted Red Pepper, & Sun-dried Tomato Chicken Sandwich

This sandwich is easy and so delicious! I used leftover herb roasted chicken from dinner the other night. Start with everything French bread (toasted) spread with plain Goat cheese on the bottom, chopped sun dried tomatoes on the top, (the kind packed in olive oil), the cooked chicken, lots of sliced roasted red peppers, (char under the broiler, cover and steam, then peel and chop), mesclun greens, a drizzle with Balsamic vinegar de Modena (this stuff is delicious!) and garnish with peperoncini, and my favorite Castelvetrano olives. Yum!