Pumpkin Bark 

  • 2 lbs. white chocolate
  • 1 c. or more M&Ms - Halloween ones!
  • 1/2 c. Craisins
  • 2 c. candy corn
  • 1 1/2 c. broken small pretzels - use gluten-free pretzels to make this gf
  • 1/2 c. cashews
  • Plus extra of all of the above to sprinkle on afterward
Spray 2 cookie sheets (with rims!) with Pam and scatter all of the above ingredients (except white chocolate) evenly across each cookie sheet.  Melt white chocolate according to package directions. 

Once the chocolate is melted, pour it evenly over the contents of both cookie sheets.  Using a small plastic bag, insert your hand into it and butter the palm of your hand on the outside of the bag.  Moving quickly, spread the chocolate over the stuff on the pans - using more Pam, if necessary.

Once the mixture is spread out well, sprinkle with additional candy, craisins, pretzels and cashews and press lightly into the still soft chocolate.  Let sit until the candy is completely set and cooled.  Break up into pieces to serve.  Store in sealable plastic bag.

Note:  To make this gluten-free (and I do!) check all your ingredients to be sure all candy, chocolate and pretzels are GF.  And enjoy!

Aunt Katie's Halloween Treats

Makes 30  balls
  • 1/2     cup  butter
  • 2        cups  sugar
  • 2        cups  light corn syrup
  • 1/2     cup  water
  • 1/2     teaspoon  salt
  • 2        teaspoons  vanilla extract
  • 2        packages  puffed rice cereal -- In a bag.
Combine all ingredients but cereal and cook to hard ball stage (250 degrees to 266 degrees on a candy thermometer; without a candy thermometer, cook until a little of the syrup dropped into a cup of cold water, forms a hard ball between your fingers). 

Pour over cereal while warm and mix well with wooden spoon (a strong one!).  Butter hands and shape into balls (working quickly before it hardens in the pan).  Wrap individually in squares of wax paper.
(145 Calories each)

NOTES : If you make these with gluten-free puffed rice, they are GF!

Wine-Braised Short Ribs
  • 3 lbs. meaty, bone-in short ribs
  • salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • canola oil
  • 1 C. red wine, use whatever you like to drink...besides, you probably already have it in the house!
  • 1 C. brewed coffee
  • 1 1/2 large onions, chopped roughly
  • 6 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 C. chopped carrots
  • 3 sprigs fresh oregano
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1-2 T. tomato paste
  • 1 T. honey
Sprinkle the ribs very liberally with salt and pepper.  Heat the oil in a large skillet until it is very hot, but not smoking.  Add the ribs and get a good crusty sear on them, turning to sear every side.  Remove the ribs from the skillet and move them to a crockpot.

Turn down the heat, add the onion, garlic and carrots to the skillet and stir until slightly softened.  Make a sauce by adding the red wine, coffee, tomato paste and honey to the skillet and scrape up all the good browned bits from the bottom.  

Crispy Grits Cakes Eggs Benedict with Lemon Aioli

  • 2 grits cakes - cut into rounds 3-4" in diameter with a BIG biscuit or cookie cutter
  • 2 slices Canadian bacon
  • 2 slices tomato, good, fresh summer ones!
  • 2 eggs, poached however you do yours

  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard, Colemans!
  • just a pinch of cayenne

Preheat a skillet, add a drizzle of vegetable oil and sizzle up the Canadian bacon and the cheese grits rounds in the same pan.  When done, place one round topped with the Canadian bacon on each serving plate.  Top each with a tomato slice and a poached egg.  Drizzle with lemon aioli and serve!
Aioli:  Blend well the mayo, lemon juice and dry mustard.  Warm in microwave - just take the chill off.  

Don't have a cheese grits recipe?  Here's the one I used:

Parmesan Cheese Grits

  • 1 cup yellow corn grits - I used Bob's Red Mill
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 3 T. butter
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated parm - I used the good stuff, Parmaesano Reggiano
Bring broth and cream just to a boil.  Whisk in the grits very slowly and continue whisking constantly until they're all in.  Lower the heat to medium and continue stirring occasionally until the grits are creamy and completely cooked - maybe 15-20 minutes.  Stir in butter completely.  They will be thick!  They will pop and bubble!  Be very careful and don't get burned. Enjoy as a side with anything grilled or whatever strikes your fancy....use the leftovers to make the crispy grits cakes!

Pour the sauce over the ribs in the crockpot, nestle the oregano and bay leaves down between the ribs, cover the crockpot and cook on high for 4 1/2 hours.  Remove lid and cook an additional hour. 

You can serve this right away over buttered noodles (I use gluten-free, of course), but I like to refrigerate it and serve it the next day...only makes the flavors better!  It also allows you to take the solidified fat off the top to save yourself those extra calories!

Note:  My favorite gluten-free noodle is by Schar.  You cannot tell the difference between the Schar brand and a regular egg noodle!

Halloween Candy Bar Cookies

2 ¼ cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks of butter, softened
¾ cup sugar

¾ cups packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs
2 cups chopped up chocolate Halloween candy (Snickers, Twix, Reese Peanut Butter Cups, Milkyway, Etc)


Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

In a large bowl beat together butter, white sugar, dark brown sugar and vanilla until creamy. Next beat in eggs one at a time, and set aside.

Mix together flour, baking soda, and salt. Slowly beat the flour mixture into the butter mixture until completely combined. Next add in your chopped Halloween candy.
Drop spoonfuls of cookie dough onto ungreased baking sheets, leaving room for the cookies to spread.

Bake until golden brown, about 9-12 minutes depending on oven.

Cool on wire rack and enjoy!

Beautiful Black Beans

1      lb  dried black beans -- picked over and rinsed
2 t.  salt
1      onion -- chopped fine
1      green bell pepper -- chopped
1      red bell pepper -- chopped
4      garlic cloves -- minced
1 T.  cumin
1/3   cup  olive oil
3 T.  tomato paste
2 T.  red wine vinegar

Soak dried beans in cold water to cover by at least 2" for an hour; drain.

In a large heavy pot, simmer beans in water, keeping the water at about 1" above beans.  Add water as necessary to keep them barely covered for 1-2 hours or until tender.  Add the salt and simmer for another 5 minutes.

While beans are cooking, saute the onion and peppers, garlic and cumin in oil over moderate heat, stirring until veggies are softened.  Add the tomato paste and cook for 2 more minutes.

When the beans are tender, stir the veggie mixture into the beans, add vinegar, salt and pepper to taste and simmer until the mixture is thickened how you like them.

Huevos Rancheros

(makes 1)

  • 1 soft corn tortilla
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons queso fresco, crumbled (or feta or cheddar or whatever you like!)
  • 1 tablespoon black beans, drained, rinsed (this is where I use my homemade black beans instead of canned.  Of course, don’t rinse the homemade ones!)
  • 2 tablespoons guacamole, homemade (or bought!)
  • 1 tablespoon chorizo, cooked and crumbled (optional)
  • taco sauce, the thin kind, not salsa
  • sour cream or crema
  • cilantro, choppoed, to taste
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Spray a large skillet liberally with Pam and heat. Place the tortilla in the skillet for a few seconds and then flip it over for a few more seconds until the tortilla is good and hot. Gently break the egg onto the center of the tortilla and hold until the egg adheres to the tortilla – if it slides off, no big deal, just gently put it back with a spatula.

Season the egg with salt and pepper, crumble the cheese on top of the egg, sprinkle with the beans and the chorizo. Turn the heat down to medium and cover with a lid. Cook how you like your fried eggs (I like mine done easy so the yolk oozes) and remove to a plate.

Top the huevos rancheros with guac, taco sauce and cilantro….maybe a little sour cream or crema if you wish. The tortilla is crisp and crunchy, the egg and the toppings stay right in place, and you can pick it up and eat it all right down. YUM!

Maple Bourbon Bacon Cupcakes

Cupcake Recipe:
2 ½ cups all-purpose floour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
¾ teaspoons ground ginger
7 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon bacon drippings
½ cup light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 ¼ cups real maple syrup
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
½ cup buttermilk
½ cup chopped walnuts
½ lbs crumbled cooked bacon (this is for the topping)

Cupcake directions:
Heat Oven to 350 degrees. Beat softened butter, bacon drippings, and brown sugar with mixer until fluffy. Beat in eggs, maple syrup, and vanilla. Set aside.
In another bowl sift flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and ginger. Stir flour mixture and buttermilk gradually into the butter/sugar mixture. Stir in nuts. Fill lined muffin cups and bake 20-24 minutes, until a tooth pick comes out clean. Cool cupcakes completely before icing.
NOTE: If you do not want to use bacon drippings in the cupcakes you can sub the 1 tablespoon of bacon drippings for 1 tablespoon of butter.
Maple- Bourbon icing ingredients :

1 cup unsalted butter, softened
3 oz cream cheese, softened
2/3 cups dark-brown sugar
¼ teaspoon salt
½ cup real maple syrup
¼ cup bourbon ( I use Jim Beam Black)
¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 ½ cups powdered sugar

Maple- Bourbon icing directions:
Using an electric mixer, beat together the softened butter, cream cheese, brown sugar, and salt until light and fluffy, this should take 3-5 minutes. Continue beating and add the maple syrup, bourbon, and vanilla. Slowly beat in the powdered sugar until fluffy. Chill icing 1 hour before using. If the mixture is a little runny add more powdered sugar until consistency is right.
Frost the cupcakes when they are fully cooled and top with crumbled bacon.
If you want to make these cupcakes for kids or for your straight-edge friends omit the bourbon and use ¾ cup maple syrup instead of ½ cup

Cooking bacon in the oven:
I cook my bacon in the oven using a cookie sheet covered in foil. Put the bacon strips on the covered cookie sheet and put in the oven. Turn the oven on to 350 (do not preheat to cook the bacon) and cook for 15-20. Make sure to keep an eye on the bacon while cooking so it does not burn. When crisp take out the bacon and put bacon on a plate lined with paper towels, blot excess grease from cooked bacon. Reserve 1 Tablespoon of bacon drippings and set aside, this should be easy to do if you line the cookie sheet with foil. Crumble bacon when cool.

Taco Burgers

Here's the very simple recipe:

  • 1 pound 80% lean hamburger
  • 1/4 of a medium onion, finely minced
  • 1 packet of your favorite taco seasoning mix - I like SPICY...make yours the heat you like
Lightly mix all the ingredients.  Shape into 4 burgers or flattened cylinders and grill to your desired doneness.  At the end, layer on your favorite cheese - American, pepperjack, cheddar - and when the cheese is melted you're ready to rock.  Add a side of refried beans!  Ole!

Slow-Cooker Salsa Chicken

  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces
  • 2 T cornstarch
  • 2 T taco seasoning (I use hot taco seasoning)
  • 2 bell peppers, cut into bite size pieces (go crazy and use green AND red!)
  • 1 med. onion, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 C frozen corn
  • 1 can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 ½ C jarred salsa (again, I use hot)
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed (sometimes I use the, sometimes I don’t)
  • Cooked rice
  • shredded cheese (cheddar, pepperjack, Mexican – whatever you like)

Mix the cornstarch and taco seasoning together, dredge the chicken in the mixture and put the chicken in the bottom of a slow cooker.

Mix in the peppers, onions, corn, tomatoes, salsa and black beans (if you’re using them).

Cook on low for 6-8 hours, depending on your slow cooker.

Serve over rice and top with cheese.  Ole!

Hot n Spicy Chili

  •   3  lbs        ground beef
  •   3 T           olive oil
  •   2              bell peppers, 1 red and 1 green – large ones,chopped
  •   3              onions -- large, chopped
  •   6 cloves  garlic -- chopped
  •   1 t            basil
  •   7 T           chili powder (that’s right! SEVEN – I use 5 Hot Mexican and 2 chipotle chili powders – sometimes more!
  •   1 T           oregano
  •   4 T           cumin – heaping! – yep, sometimes I use more!
  •   1 can        black beans -- drained
  •   1 can        kidney beans -- dark red, drained
  •   2 - 32 oz  cans  whole tomatoes – break these up roughly
  •   3 T           coffee powder, instant
  •   1 - 12 oz  can beer – I use gluten-free beer
  •   1 T           salt
  •                   fresh ground black pepper -- to taste – lots
  •   1 T           granulated garlic

In large soup pot, saute crumbled ground beef, stirring well and breaking up the beef.  When the beef is browned thoroughly, drain in a colander while you cook the veggies.

Add olive oil to pot, and saute peppers, onions and garlic.  Add drained beef and rest of the ingredients.  Let simmer and taste to adjust seasonings, adding whatever you think the mixture might still need...salt, more chili powder, cumin, etc.

Simmer for 1-2 hours.  This freezes really well!

Roasted Bacon Wrapped Asparagus with Orange Balsamic Drizzle

  • 24 thin asparagus spears
  • 8 thin slices bacon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. 

Snap the woody ends off the bottoms of the asparagus.  Hold 3 spears of asparagus together and tightly wrap a slice of bacon from the stem end up to the tips.  Place on a rimmed baking sheet.  Repeat with the rest of the bacon and asparagus.

Roast, turning once or twice during roasting, until the bacon is browned but the asparagus is still crisp tender.  Drain on paper towels and then place on a serving plate. 

Drizzle with the orange balsamic glaze and serve.


  • ½ C. good balsamic vinegar
  • 2 t. sugar
  • 1 t. grated orange zest
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Combine all ingredients in a small pot and simmer until the glaze is thickened, but not too thick.  It should be like a syrup.  If it goes too far and you end up with balsamic tar, use a little juice from the orange to thin it out.  It may take a little stirring, but it will be just fine.  (Obviously, I learned that the hard way.)

Jerk Burgers

Serving Size  : 4 
  •   1       pound  ground pork
  •   1       tart apple -- grated on large holes, skin on
  •   1/4    medium  onion -- finely diced
  •   2       teaspoons  jerk seasoning -- Busha Brown is my fave! (more or less - I like MORE)
  •            Kosher salt -- to taste
Mix all ingredients together lightly, but thoroughly.  Form into 4 equal burgers.  Grill until cooked through, but still juicy.

Serve on toasted or grilled buttered buns and top with sliced, red ripe tomatoes and serve alongside a pile of sweet potato fries and a nice slaw. 

NOTE: The best jerk seasoning I've ever found is Busha Browne.  It's a paste type in a small jar (4 oz.)...packs a nice punch of heat and subtle sweetness.  Absolutely the best out there. 

Roasted Grape and Asparagus Salad

  • 1 ½ - 2 cups of salad mix
  • 2 strips of cooked, crumbled bacon
  • 4-5 spears of asparagus
  • ½ cup grapes
  • 1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • granulated garlic, to taste
  • 10-12 almonds halved (I used Smokehouse almonds)
  • 2 Tablespoon blue cheese
  • a little thinly sliced red onion
  • 2 Tablespoons of your favorite Raspberry or Balsamic Vinaigrette

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place grapes and asparagus on baking sheet, drizzle both with olive oil and sprinkle salt and pepper to taste (yes, the grapes, too!). Sprinkle the granulated garlic only on the asparagus. 
Place in oven and roast for 15 to 20 minutes - less if you wish. Grapes should be almost crispy on the outside, but they should not burst. Asparagus should still have a bite to it and be bright green with a little crispiness. Let grapes and asparagus cool to room temperature and cut the asparagus diagonally into bite-sized pieces.

In the meantime, place salad mix in a bowl and top with bacon, almonds, blue cheese, and onions. Arrange the cooled grapes and asparagus on top. Drizzle salad with dressing and enjoy! 
I really like this salad for lunch on its own, but t would also be good as a side salad to dinner. It looks impressive and is so easy!

NOTE: This salad is great to use left over asparagus from the night before. If you do not have time to roast the grapes you can put them in raw or exchange them with Craisins.

Reuben Baked Potatoes

  • 4 russet potatoes, pierced
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups sauerkraut, drained
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds
  • 1 cup corned beef brisket, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cup Swiss cheese, shredded
  • Russian salad dressing, purchased or homemade

Preheat oven to 450.

Bake potatoes for 1 hour and let rest until cool enough to handle.

Cut the tops lengthwise off the potatoes.  Scoop out potato leaving 1/4" shell. Place shells on pan. 

Melt the butter in a skillet and saute the onions until golden.  Add sauerkraut, caraway & scooped potato, breaking up the potato.  Mix & heat until it begins to brown.  Add corned beef and ¾ C. of the cheese.  Spoon into the shells & top with remaining cheese.  Bake until tops are lightly browned, about 25 minutes.

Drizzle with Russian dressing to serve

NOTE:  To make Russian dressing:  Mix 1/2 mayo with a little ketchup or chili sauce and add a little pickle relish.  Mix well.  Voila!  Russian dressing!

P.S.  These are naturally gluten-free, too! 

 Asian Beef and Noodles
  • 1 1/4 pounds ground beef, extra lean
  • 2 packages ramen, Oriental flavor noodles
  • 2 cups frozen mixed vegetables, oriental variety
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 2 green onions thinly sliced - well up into the green
  • 1 small can of sliced water chestnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups water 
In large skillet, brown ground beef over medium heat until there is no pink left; breaking up into pieces. Drain the grease from the skillet and remove the beef to a large bowl. Add ONE seasoning packet from noodles (save the other for later in the recipe) to the beef in the bowl; set aside. 
In same skillet, combine 2 cups water, veggies, noodles (broken up), ginger, water chestnuts and remaining seasoning packet (told you you'd use the other packet!). Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer 3 minutes or until noodles are tender. Return beef to skillet; stir in green onions. Serve!

Almond-Encrusted Amaretto Cake
  • 1 package yellow cake mix
  • 1 package vanilla pudding (instant)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup amaretto
  • 3/4  c. sliced almonds

  • 1 stick butter
  • 1/4 cup amaretto
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
For cake: Blend ingredients (except nuts) and beat on high for 2 minutes.  Grease (liberally so the nuts stick!) bundt or tube pan and sprinkle with nuts, making sure all surfaces of the pan are covered with almonds.  Pour in batter and bake at 325 for 50-60 minutes. For glaze: Melt butter in small pan; add 1/4 c. amaretto, water and suar.  Bring to boil and stir for 2-3 minutes. Cool cake for 10 minutes.  Remove from pan and place on a cake rack ove a deep dish and spoon the hot glaze over.  Keep re-using glaze that has run off into dish and glazing cake until all the syrup is gone.

NOTE:  Here's a little hint to grease and coat the bundt pan with almonds.  First, put your hand into a plastic sandwich bag to grease the pan with Crisco.  No mess on your hands!  To coat the pan with almonds,  rotate the pan while sprinkling with the almonds.  Get the inside tube, too, and pat some into place where they may be a little skimpy.

Ft. Knox Pie

  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin - Knox gelatin
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 cups heavy cream - divided
  • 6 ounces chocolate chips
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 22 pieces caramel candy
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cups Famous Chocolate Wafer Cookies crushed into crumbs - When I can't find Famous Chocolate Wafer Cookies, I use chocolate graham crackers - to make this gluten-free, see note below
  • 3/4 cup pecans, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup melted butter

In small saucepan, sprinkle gelatin over water and let stand for 1 minutes.  Stir over low heat until dissolved.  Stir in 1 c. cream, bring to boil & pour into blender with chocolate.  Process until chocolate is melted.  Through the hole in the top while processing, add 1/2 c. cream, eggs and vanilla; process until well-blended.  Pour into bowl and chill until thickened, about 15 minutes. Make crust by mixing 2 c. chocolate wafer crumbs, 3/4 c. finely chopped pecans and the melted butter.  Press into 9" springform pan and up sides for a high rim.  Bake at 350 for 10 minutes.  Cool.

In another small saucepan, mix caramels, 1/4 c. cream and butter.  Stir until melted; pour into crust and cool for 10 minutes. With whisk, beat chocolate mixture until smooth, pour into crust and chill until firm, at least 8 hours - I always make this the night before serving.    Top with whipped cream.

This originally came from a magazine advertisement for Knox Gelatin back in the 80's.

Servings: 12

Note: Use GF chocolate cookies to make this GF.  I like Pamela's Extreme Chocolate Mini Cookies for the crust.  They come in a 7 oz. bag.  If you can't find them at your local gluten-free store (Soergel's in Wexford, PA is my favorite!), order them online.

Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage

  • 2 slices bacon
  • 1/2 head red cabbage, shredded (the food processor disk is great for this!)
  • 1/4 C. cider vinegar
  • 1/4 C. light brown sugar 
  • 2 T. water
  • 1/2 t. salt

In a large skillet (I love my electric skillet for this), fry the bacon until crisp and all fat is rendered into the pan.  Remove the bacon and use for something else - a snack perhaps?

To the bacon fat in the pan, add vinegar and brown sugar, water and salt.  Stir well.

Add the shredded cabbage and mix so that all cabbage is coated.  Cover and simmer for 30 minutes or until cabbage is tender.  I usually do it until it turns a beautiful dark red color - it seems to get sweeter the darker it gets.  

Serve warm.  I like it cold the next day!

NOTE:  You can double this easily!

BBQ Cranberry Meatloaf
  • 2 pounds ground beef, lean
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 large onion, chopped fine
  • 3/4 cup fresh cranberries, chopped
  • 2 cups fresh bread crumbs, for a gf meatloaf, use gluten-free breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 3 tablespoons worcestershire sauce, gf to make this a gf meatloaf
  • 1/2 cup cranberry juice, frozen concentrate, thawed
  • 2 tablespoons Jane's Crazy Salt
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle pepper, ground varietal type chile powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon


  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 1/4 cup cranberry sauce, not wholeberry kind
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
Preheat oven to 375. 
Mix everything together but the glaze ingredients in a mixing bowl lightly, but thoroughly.  Form into 2 or 3 loaves - I do 4 small loaves since there are only two of us at home now.  (Then I freeze the rest for quick dinners anytime!)
Mix the glaze ingredients - ketchup, mustard, cranberry jelly and cayenne - together and spoon over the meatloves in the pan.
Bake the meatloaves for about an hour and a half or until completely cooked through and beautiful!
NOTE:  To keep your meatloaf from sticking to the bottom of the pan and so it lifts out easily, prepare roasting pan by spraying the bottom with olive oil.  Then cut a piece of parchment paper to fit and nestle the paper on top of the olive oil.  Easy clean up, too!

White Chili - with turkey!

  • 3 C. onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, seeded, minced (I used 4 - we like it HOT!)
  • 2 4-oz. cans chopped green chiles
  • 2 T. cumin, or more to taste
  • 1 t. oregano
  • 1 t. ancho chile powder - or your favorite kind
  • 1 t. salt
  • 2 C. chicken stock, canned or homemade
  • 40 oz. cannelini beans, drained
  • 4 C. cooked chicken or turkey, shredded
  • 1 can DelMonte Summer Crisp corn, or whatever kind you like
In a soup pot over medium high heat, saute onions and garlic in the olive oil until onion is soft.
Add jalapenos, green chiles, cumin, oregano, ancho chile powder and salt.  Cook 1 minute.
Stir in chicken broth, beans and chicken or turkey.  Bring to a boil.
Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes or until slightly thickened.
Stir in corn and continue heating another 15 minutes.
To serve, ladle into bowls and top with a dollop of sour cream and shredded cheddar.

Spinach, Black Bean and Turkey Enchiladas
This recipe was first given to my mom and I by my sister Julie - this quick and easy meal is one of Julie's all-time favorites. And, it is delicious and healthy, too! The only change I've made over the years is to add meat to it - which makes it perfect if you have left over chicken…or turkey from Thanksgiving. Since the recipe was originally vegetarian, if you want to leave out the chicken, go right ahead! 
  • 1 package frozen spinach, cut kind, 10 oz. package, thawed and squeezed dry
  • 1 tablespoon taco seasoning mix - I use HOT, of course
  • 1 can black beans, drained
  • 12 oz cooked diced or shredded turkey or chicken
  • 10 rice tortillas (or tortillas of your choice) (soften tortillas by placing a damp paper towel on a plate, then the tortillas, another damp paper towel and microwave for 20 seconds or until warmed and softened - keep covered until ready to use)
  • 4 ounces feta cheese (or more, what the heck!)
  • 1 can RoTel
  • 1/2 cup salsa, thick, saucy kind like Pace - HOT, if you dare!
  • 2 ounces shredded cheddar cheese

Mix spinach, beans, turkey (or chicken), feta & taco seasoning. Dip a tortilla into salsa and fill with mixture. Roll and place into 9x13 pan that has been sprayed with Pam and has a little salsa spread on the bottom. Fill and roll rest of tortillas. If they crack, don't worry - it will be just fine. If you have any leftover filling, just scatter it over the top of the casserole before the next step.

Mix remaining salsa and a can of RoTeltomatoes together and spread over enchiladas and then sprinkle with cheddar.

Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.
To serve, either lift enchiladas with two forks onto a plate or simply cut the casserole dish into squares like you would lasagna...which is how mom does it.

NOTE: We used to make these with flour tortillas until my mom had to go Gluten Free. Two years ago I made this dish for Mothers day and used gluten-free rice tortillas, I will use these from now on. The crunch and taste was just perfect! Mom sometimes uses soft corn tortillas, too. 

Double Corn Crabcakes

  • 1 lb. jumbo lump crabmeat - MD or TX or LA or VA blue crab, please!
  • 3 T. Kraft Hot n Spicy mayo - if you don't have it, you can mix siracha & mayo to make your own OR you can use plain mayo - sigh
  • 2 T. red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 1 T. fresh parsley, minced
  • 1/4 C. corn kernels
  • 2/3 C. cornbread (you know I use gluten-free to make these gf - preferably Gluten Free Pantry brand or use regular cornbread if you don't have to worry about the gluten issue
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 t. Old Bay
  • 1 t. Worcestershire sauce

Gently pick through crab to remove any errant cartilage or shell - don't break up those beautiful big lumps!  

Add all the rest of the ingredients and mix gently, but thoroughly.  Again, keep those big lumps in one piece!  Form into 5 or 6 rounded cakes - pressing firmly together.

Heat a skillet, add canola oil to about 1/4".  When oil is hot, gently place the crabcakes into the oil.  Brown on one side, gently turn to other side and fry until golden and crisp.

Serve with wedges of lemon as is or serve on a bun....which I think is a waste of damned good crab!

Enjoy!  I sure did.


  • 1 27 ounce can sauerkraut, I really like Bavarian sauerkraut with caraway seeds
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 large baking potatoes, scrubbed, unpeeled, diced
  • 2 apples, peeled, cored and diced
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3/4 pounds bratwurst links, cut into chunks
  • 3/4 pounds smoked sausage, cut into chunks

Mix all ingredients in large dutch oven on the stovetop.  Bring to boil, then reduce to simmer.  Cover and simmer 45 minutes.  Uncover and top with dumpling batter.  Cook uncovered 10 minutes then cover and cook another 10 minutes.  Serve

Dumplings:  1 1/2 cup Bisquick, 1/2 cup milk.  Stir together and spoon onto hot casserole as above.  

NOTE:  To make these gluten-free, use gluten-free Bisquick!

Italian Hoagie Burger

  • 1/2 pound ground chuck
  • 1/2 pound hot Italian sausage

Mix both together until well blended and form into 3 or 4 patties.

Since the sausage is pork (duh), I wouldn't recommend doing these anything but well-done....but not overdone...keep them juicy!

Top the burgers with:
  • julienned pepperoni, fried crisp
  • Provolone
  • hot banana pepper rings
  • thinly sliced onion
  • sliced tomatoes
  • roasted red pepper
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • spring greens
While you're grilling the burgers, drizzle a little olive oil on the bun halves (gluten-free buns for GF folks) and toast them on the side of the grill.  Be careful not to burn your buns.  (Good advice in any circumstance, yes?) 
When the burgers are done, top each with pepperoni and cover that with provolone; grill just until the provolone oozes over the top.
Top with any or all of the rest of the toppings.  Or add anything you think I might have missed.  Artichokes?  Black olives?  Radicchio?

NOTE:  Udi's makes a really good gluten-free hamburger bun.  What a treat to actually have a burger ON A BUN if you're gluten-free!  (They make a really good hot dog bun, too!)

Swiss Steak
  • whole bottom round stead, about 1" thick, cut into approximately 6 pieces
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • 2 large green peppers, sliced
  • 28 ounce can of tomatoes (break up the tomatoes)
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1 1/2 t. basil
  • 1 T. oregano
  • red pepper flakes, to taste
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • granulated garlic, to taste
  • 1 C. red wine, or more if needed
Remove all fat from steaks, cut into serving pieces, season well with granulated garlic, salt and pepper and brown in oil in a hot, large electric skillet (with tight fitting lid to use later).  When browned, remove from pan.
In the same skillet, add garlic, green peppers and onions; saute 5 minutes.  Remove veggies, put steaks back into skillet and cover with the veggies.  Add tomatoes, wine and seasonings.  Cover with lid (told you you'd use it later!), reduce heat to low and simmer for 2-3 hours or until fork tender.
Check often to be sure there is enough liquid in skillet and, if not, add a little wine or water.  Do NOT let it dry out.

 Smoky Bacon and Beer Gouda and Cheddar Mac and Cheese

  • 5 slices thick-sliced applewood smoked bacon, cooked crisp and broken into nice sized pieces
  • 4 T. butter
  • 2 T. (make them heaping) flour (GF flour to make this GF)
  • 1 t. salt
  • several grinds of black pepper
  • 1/2 t. Coleman's dry mustard - or any other dry mustard
  • 1 can or bottle of your favorite beer (gluten-free for GF version)
  • 1 C. half and half
  • 1/2 lb. sharp cheddar cheese, shredded, plus extra for the top
  • 1/2 lb. smoked gouda cheese, shredded
  •  1 lb. elbow macaroni (gluten-free to make this GF)

Melt butter in 1 quart saucepan over medium heat.  Combine the flour, salt, pepper and dry mustard and then gradually whisk  the mixture into the liquids, stirring until smooth.  Continue stirring over low heat about another minute to cook out the raw flour taste.  
Continually whisking, add the beer and the half and half  and stir until smooth and thickened.  Over very low heat, now add the cheeses a handful at a time and stirring until smooth until all the cheese is incorporated and the sauce is silken.
In the meantime, cook the pasta in heavily salted water (Mario Batali says the water should be as salty as the sea!).  Remove the pasta from the water while it is still al dente - that way the pasta soaks up some of the sauce...yummy!  (Also, it isn't a mushy mess - you want firm pasta!)  Drain the pasta well and then.

Pour the sauce over the pasta, add the bacon, mix well, pour into a large, buttered casserole dish and cover the top with a layer of shredded cheddar.   

Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 30-40 minutes or until it is browned and bubbly. 

NOTE:  I use nothing but the best, top quality gluten-free ingredients.  If you don't want to be disappointed in your version, use the very best yourself.  (This goes for the regular version, too!)

GF pasta can fall apart easily if you don't use a really good brand.  I use BiAglut pastas.  They're a Heinz product that is imported from Italy - IT IS EXPENSIVE!  And worth every penny.  It stays firm, it has substance that is identical in every way to normal pasta in taste and texture.  

For GF flour, I use either Jule's or Tom Sawyer.  Both brands are used just like wheat all-purpose flour - measure for measure.  

And I use Redbridge GF beer which is made by Anheuser-Busch. 

Soergel's, in the Wexford area north of Pittsburgh, is where I buy my gluten-free products.  If you're around Pittsburgh and you haven't tried Soergel's Naturally, make the trip.  You'll be glad you did.  And you'll become a regular there, too.  And they're so knowledgeable  and friendly!

Mom's Chicken and Andouille Gumbo

  • 1 rotisserie chicken, store bought, cut into pieces
  • 4 medium onions, cut in chunks, peeled first, of course
  • celery leaves, all of them from a whole bunch of celery
  • Crazy Salt - maybe 3 T.
  • water, to barely cover

  • 10 cups chicken broth, reserved (use the stock from above, adding canned chicken stock, if necessary)
  • 8 slices bacon, sliced into 1/4" pieces (nice, thick hickory smoked bacon)
  • 1 pound Andouille sausage or smoked sausage, sliced into half rounds 1/4" thick
  • 1 1/2 cups onion, chopped
  • 2 large green peppers, chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, diced (use all the celery leaves you can...that's where the flavor is!)
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, 14.5 ounce can (I like the fire-roasted ones)
  • 1 can tomato sauce, 15 ounce can
  • 10 ounces frozen corn
  • 20 ounces frozen okra (LOVE my okra!)
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon Hot Shot (if you can't find this in the McCormick section, use 1/4-1/2 t. cayenne and the rest fresh ground black pepper)
  • Jane's Crazy Salt, to taste (or seasoned salt...but please, look for this magic ingredient!  Even Paula Deen used to use it before she started marketing her own.)
  • 1-2 T. file powder (optional) - If you have a Penzey's near you, you can get it there.  It isn't necessary, but it lends a very authentic flavor and also serves to slightly thicken the gumbo. 

In LARGE soup pot, put chicken (yes, the store-bought rotisserie one), onion chunks, celery leaves and Crazy salt; cover with water. Bring to boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer about 45 minutes or until chicken is tender. Remove chicken, cool, and set broth aside. Discard onion and celery leaves. Remove chicken from bones. Set aside.
(If you wonder why I do it this way...a roasted chicken gives a deeper, richer stock.) Cook bacon and sausage in the same pot until bacon is crisp and sausage is browned. Remove meats and set aside. There will be lots of brown stuff on the bottom of the pot.  Leave it there!  It will get deeper until you add the stock at the end.  Then, as you stir the soup, the stock will loosen all that browned, rich goodness and give the soup amazing flavor!

Add chopped onion, green pepper, celery, and garlic and cook until vegetables are tender. Stir OFTEN! Add chicken, bacon, sausage, broth, and all the rest of the ingredients. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, 1 1/2 hours. Stir occasionally - especially get the bottom to get that flavor up into the soup! Serve in bowls, topped with a scoop of cooked rice - that's the traditional way. Without the rice is good, too!

GLUTEN-FREE NOTE:   Not all rotisserie chickens are gluten-free.  Read the label and/or talk to the store you buy it from.  I get mine at Costco for a lot of reasons...first, it is gluten-free, but check each and every time you buy one.  You never know when the store's recipe will change.  Second, Costco has the biggest and cheapest and BEST rotisserie chicken anywhere.  Period.  (Boston Market also has a GF rotisserie chicken!)

 Coq au Vin

  • 8 slices bacon, thick sliced, hardwood or applewood smoked, sliced into 1/2" pieces, set 1 slice of pieces aside for later
  • 8 chicken thighs without skin
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper , to taste
  • 1 large onion, diced fine
  • 2 celery ribs, diced fine
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced fine
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 2 large bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 3 cups red wine, I use burgundy
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 pound cremini mushrooms, smallest ones you can find
  • 10 ounces pearl onions, frozen is just fine, thaw them and dry them well

Cook 6 slices of the the bacon until crisp in a big heavy skillet.  While the bacon is cooking, season the chicken on one side with salt and pepper.  Remove the bacon from the pan and set aside.

Place the chicken, seasoned side down, into the hot skillet with the bacon grease; season the other side of the thighs liberallly with salt and pepper.  Brown the chicken, turn over and brown the other side.  Make them pretty!   Remove the chicken to a a large Dutch oven.

Add the diced veggies (not the mushrooms and pearl onions), thyme and bay leaves to hot skillet. Cook, stirring up the browned bits from the bottom of the skillet, until the veggies have softened.  Add the tomato paste and stir until it is incorporated thoroughly.

Pour the veggie mixture over the chicken in the Dutch oven.  Don't clean out the skillet; pour the burgundy into the skillet and stir well for a minute or so.  Pour the wine over the chicken with the veggies.  Set the skillet aside - don't clean it out're going to use it for the mushrooms and onions later and you want all that good flavor!

Move the Dutch oven to the burner and bring the chicken to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer, uncovered for 45 minutes.  Cover and simmer another half hour.  If you start this early in the day, at this point, you can wait to finish it about half an hour before you're ready to serve dinner.

In the skillet, saute the remaining bacon pieces and until crisp, remove bacon and set aside with the bacon you cooked before.  Saute the mushrooms and onions in the bacon fat until beginning to brown, then gently mix them into the chicken.  Simmer the chicken until the flavors all come together - maybe 15 minutes - and serve over hot, buttered and bacon-sprinkled noodles.

Gluten-Free Note:  This dish is naturally gluten-free.  Use a good brand of gluten-free tagiatelle noodles so the entire dish will be GF.  I like Schar Tagliatelle.  I use this brand for tuna casserole and homemade chicken and turkey noodle soups, too!

 Chocolate Drizzled Orange Cranberry Pecan Biscotti
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 teaspoon orange extract
  • 2 cups Gluten-free all purpose flour (or regular wheat all-purpose flour if gluten isn't an issue)
  • 1 1/2 cups pecans, toasted, divided into 1/4  cup and 1 1/4 cup
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries, I like Trader Joe's orange cranberries
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 tablespoon butter

Preheat oven to 325.
In a food processor, process 1/4 cup of pecans to a fine meal.  Set aside.  Next, roughly chop the remaining 1 1/4 cup of pecans.  Set aside.  Cool pecans.
Cream butter and sugar until nice and light.  At slow speed, add in the eggs and extract; increase speed and mix until completely incorporated.  Next, again at slow speed, add flour, pecan meal, cornmeal, baking powder and the salt.  Next, on slow speed (what else?!), mix in the nuts and cranberries.  If the dough is too loose, add a little more flour until the dough comes together, but isn't dry.
Divide the dough into 4 equal pieces.  With your hands, roll it gently into logs that are approximately 10" long and 3" wide.  Make them pretty!  Place each, as it is formed, onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet.  You should be able to get 2 logs to a cookie sheet.
Bake about 40 minutes.  Make sure they are firm.  Take out of oven and cool the cookie sheets on racks.  Slice on the diagonal into 1/2"-3/4" slices and place back onto the parchment paper-lined cookie sheets.  (The slices sometimes lose their corners - what the heck....they'll still taste wonderful and will still look pretty once they're drizzled with chocolate!)  Bake on one side for about 15 minutes, turn over and bake another 10 minutes.  Keep an eye on them so they don't over-brown.  Remove and cool completely.
Once the biscotti are cooled, melt the chocolate chips and the butter together in a microwave oven.  (Follow the directions on the bag.)  When the chocolate and butter are melted together and smooth, put the mixture into a ziptop sandwich bag and snip the tiniest piece off the corner.  Pipe zigzag lines of chocolate onto the tops of the biscotti and let dry completely before storing.

Coconut Orange Tea Cakes

  • 1 1/2 cups coconut flakes
  • 2 sticks butter, room temperature
  • 2 1/4 cups powdered sugar, sifted, then measured
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 3/4 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 2 1/4 cups Gluten-free all purpose flour (or regular wheat all-purpose flour if gluten isn't an issue)
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350.  Bake coconut on rimmed baking sheet until light golden, stirring occasionally, about 12 minutes.  Check often!  It burns quickly!
Using electric mixer, beat butter, 1/2 cup powdered sugar, and both extracts in bowl to blend well. Beat in flour, orange zest and salt.  Stir in coconut.  Cover and chill at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.  Soften dough slightly before shaping.
Preheat oven to 350.  Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.  Using 1 level tablespoon dough for each cookie, roll dough into balls..  Place on prepared sheets, spacing at least 2" apart.  Bake about 18 minutes.  Cool on sheets for 5 minutes and toss warm cookies in remaining powdered sugar.  Cool.  Store in airtight container.

NOTE:  The gluten-free cookies tend to spread and make a pretty mounded cookie.  Cookies made with wheat flour tend to be a ball shape - the gluten keeps them from flattening.  Both taste the same!  Both are beautiful!

Pulled Pork

  • 3 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon granulated garlic
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon dry mustard
  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt

  • 6 pounds pork roast, Boston butt or shoulder

  • 1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup yellow mustard
  • 1/2 cup brown mustard
  • 3/4 cup ketchup
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • at least a teaspoon freshly ground black pepper - more is better!

Mix dry rub ingredients.  Rub all over the pork and marinate overnight in the refrigerator.  If you don't have time to start it the night before, go ahead and put it right in the oven.  Like I said above, this is a forgiving recipe!

Preheat oven to 300.

Put the pork in a roasting pan fat cap up and bake 6-8 hours or until it falls apart easily.  Pour off any fat in the bottom of the pan, but be sure to use all the pieces of the crusty brown crispy, crunchy fat on top when you pull the pork apart with two forks.

Sauce:   Do this while the pork is roasting or ahead of time.  Combine vinegar, mustard, ketchup, brown sugar, garlic, salt, cayenne & pepper in a saucepan.  Simmer gently for about 10 minutes until the sugar dissolves.

Pour 1/2 the sauce (or just enough to moisten the meat) over pork and mix gently, but well.  Serve rest of sauce on side.

Gluten-Free Note:  The pulled pork is naturally gluten-free.  Look for Udi's gluten-free hamburger buns - wonderful!  Hallelujah, its fantastic to enjoy this on a bun they way God intended!

 Fudge Thumbprints

  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups flour (for gluten-free cookies, use either Jules or Tom Sawyer gluten-free all purpose flour)
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/4 cup Nestles mini chocolate chips
  • powdered sugar

  • 3/4 cup Nestles mini chocolate chips
  • 1 tablespoon shortening
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
 Heat oven to 375.  Mix butter, salt, vanilla & brown sugar until light and fluffy.  Blend in flour, milk and mini chips.  

Shape into 1" balls and make thumbprint....make it nice and big to fit LOTS of fudge in there!  

Bake 10-12 minutes (or more - make sure they're set) and while still warm, roll in powdered sugar.  Cool.

In a double boiler over simmering water on the stove, melt 3/4 c. chocolate chips with shortening.  Cool slightly and add corn syrup, water and vanilla.  Heap into center of cookies. Let these set on a tray until the filling is solid before storing.

I store these in one of my Christmas cookie jars.  However you store your cookies, be sure to put wax paper between layers of cookies to keep the fudge pretty! 

The Captain's Balls

  • 60 vanilla wafer cookies
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  •  2 t. ginger 
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1/3 cup Captain Morgan

  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 t. ginger
  • 1 t. cinnamon
In food processor, whirl cookies, cocoa, powdered sugar, ginger, cinnamon & walnuts.  Process until fine.  Add corn syrup and Captain Morgan.  Process until well-blended and there are no dry spots. 
Make the coating by mixing the cocoa powder, powdered sugar, ginger and cinnamon together and mix until thoroughly combined.

Next, form the dough into 1" balls and roll in the coating mixture.  Let sit on a tray for an hour or so until they've firmed up nicely.  Set each ball into a truffle cup for easy storage and to look pretty when you serve them!  Store in an airtight container.  

It's best to make these a week (or more!) ahead of time because the rum seems to get more potent as they age.  Yum.

Ginger Peachy Marmalade

  • 1 orange
  • 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 cups peaches, fresh or frozen, chopped (I used frozen - it's winter!)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 tablespoons crystallized ginger, chopped fine

Zest the citrus and put the zest in a heavy pot with the water.  Cut up the bald fruit (what else would you call it after it's had it's zest removed?) and put it into a food processor; chop well.  Add the pulp into the pot with the zest and water and cook over medium heat for about 5 minutes.
Add the chopped peaches, sugar and ginger to the pot.  Bring to a boil and cook, occasionally stirring, until it thickens and looks like it is geling.
Heat clean, new jars in boiling water (refer to the directions on the package of jars, lids and rings for proper handling).  Remove from water carefully.  

Ladle the hot marmalade mixture into the hot jars, leaving 1/4" space at the top.  Do not fill more than this.  Put the lids onto perfectly clean jars, making sure the tops of the jars are squeaky clean so the lids can seal completely.  Screw the rings onto the jars and finger tighten.  Put the jars back into the simmering water and process for 10 minutes.  Remove jars from water carefully!

Cool the jars on a rack for 24 hours before checking the seal and making sure the lids aren't popped up.  You want them to have that nice concave top.  Probably the nicest sound, when your jams and jellies are cooling, is that soft "pop" sound when the center of the lid goes down.  You know you have a good seal!  If any of them don't seal properly, don't worry...just refrigerate those jars and use in a couple of weeks.

Orange Spiced Walnuts

  • 3 egg whites
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 6 cups walnuts, whole (I buy mine at Costco - VERY good price!)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons orange zest
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

In a large mixing bowl, using electric mixer, beat egg white and water until frothy, not even soft peaks.  Add walnuts and stir gently by hand just to coat.   

Mix together the rest of the ingredients in a small bowl and add to the nuts.  Stir to coat completely

Have 2 Pam-sprayed rimmed cookie sheets ready and divide the nuts between the two pans.  Spread out thinly.

Bake 20 minutes, stir thoroughly and redistribute the nuts, bake another 15 minutes, stir and redistribute and bake another 15 minutes.  Remove from oven, stir again and let cool completely.

Store in a big zip top bag.  To make pretty gifts, put them into pint or quart jars with lids and tie with a pretty ribbon.  Or put them into pretty cellophane bags from the cake/candy making store and tie with a pretty ribbon.  I used small Chinese takeout containers this year - NEW ones, of course!

Thick and Spicy Meat Sauce with Red Wine

  • 1 pound hot Italian sausage - if you don't like hot sausage, use all sweet sausage or half ground beef
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage - I really like mine with fennel seed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound onions, chopped
  • 2 large green peppers, chopped
  • 1 pound mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  • 6 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 18-ounce cans tomato paste
  • 2 24-ounce cans tomato sauce
  • 1 28-ounce can tomatoes, do not drain
  • 1/4 cup instant coffee powder
  • 1 tablespoon thyme
  • 3 tablespoons basil
  • 2 tablespoons oregano
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 36 ounces red wine (2 tomato paste cans full - get all that paste residue out of the can with the wine)
  • 2 bay leaves

In your biggest soup pot, saute sausage (removed from casing (if it isn't bulk sausage), breaking up with potato masher) until browned.  Remove from pan, pour off grease.  Saute veggies in olive oil, add the rest of the ingredients. 

Cook slowly for several hours, stirring frequently so the bottom doesn't burn.

Freeze what you don't use in quart containers or zip top freezer bags.  Don't forget to write the date and what's inside on the container.  Before I learned to to that, I can't tell you how many times I pulled spaghetti sauce out of the freezer only to find out after it thawed that it was chili!

Cranberry Triple Coconut Cake

  • 2 boxes Betty Crocker gluten-free yellow cake mix (or 1 box regular yellow cake mix)
  • 1 box vanilla instant pudding mix (3.5 oz or similar weight)
  • 1/3 C. sugar (leave this out of the regular cake mix)
  • 1 C. sour cream or Greek yogurt (I use 0% fat Fage Greek yogurt - my fave)
  • 3/4 C. lite coconut milk
  • 3/4 C. canola oil
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 T. vanilla extract (the REAL stuff, not imitation!)
  • 2 t. coconut extract

  •  2 8-oz. blocks cream cheese, room temp
  • 1/2 C. unsalted butter, room temp
  • 1/2 C. cream of coconut (the same stuff you use for a pina colada - get it in the cocktail section of your supermarket)
  • 1 C. powdered sugar, sifted
  • 2 t. vanilla extract (again, use the good stuff!)
  • 1 t. coconut extract
  • 1 can whole berry cranberry sauce
  • zest of 1 orange, use a peeler to remove just the thinnest top layer of the orange and then chop the zest into fine dice
  • 1 bag of sweetened flaked coconut
Cake directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Spray two 9" cake pans with Pam and dust with gluten-free flour (or regular if you're not doing the GF version).  Set aside.
In a large mixer bowl, gently mix the cake mix(es), pudding mix and sugar at low speed.  Add all of the wet ingredients and beat on low speed until just mixed, scrape down the sides.  Increase the speed to medium and mix until the mixture is smooth.  Divide the batter between the pans; tap the pans firmly on the counter to work the bubbles out.  Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, probably about 45-55 minutes.
Cool the cakes on racks for a few minutes, then remove the cakes from the pans and let continue cooling on the racks until completely cool before proceeding.
Put the cranberry sauce into a small pot with the zest.  Stir and bring to a simmer.  Let simmer about 5 minutes and let cool. 

Frosting directions:
With electric mixer, beat cream cheese, butter, cream of coconut, vanilla and coconut extracts.  When thoroughly incorporated and light, lower the speed to low and add the powdered sugar.  Beat until smooth and light.

Place one cake layer on a platter.  Put strips of wax paper or parchment on the plate to keep it clean while you work.
Fill the layer with about a cup (or more) of frosting.  Place the second layer on top, spoon the cranberries into the center and spread them out evenly to about 1/2" from the edge of cake.  
Using the rest of the frosting, frost the sides of the cake, bring it up to meet the edges of the cranberries, leaving no cake visible.
Start applying the coconut!  This is the hard part - well, messy at least.  Just take handsful of coconut and work from top to bottom until the entire cake is covered and gorgeous!
Remove the wax paper from the bottom, decorate the top with a sprig of holly and get ready for them ooohs and aaahhhs.  

Brisket, Bacon & Beer Cowboy Stew

  • 8 slices bacon, sliced across into 1/2" pieces
  • 5 pounds beef brisket, trimmed and cut into bite size pieces
  • Jane's crazy salt, to taste
  • Hot Shot, to taste (if you can't find Hot Shot, mix cayenne pepper and freshly ground black pepper), or just freshly ground black pepper if you don't want the heat
  • 12 ounces beer, 1 bottle, gluten-free to make this GF
  • water
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large white onion, chopped
  • 5 large red potatoes, scrubbed and cubed
  • 10 ounces canned corn, DelMonte Summer Crisp or frozen
  • 1 can tomatoes with green chilies, Ro-Tel brand
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder, ancho chile powder if you can find it - enhances the smoky flavor...or try chipotle chile powder!
  • 2 tablespoons beef bouillon granules, beef soup base - check to see if it's GF if you're making this gluten-free
  • 2 tablespoons coffee powder, instant

Fry bacon over medium-low heat in a large Dutch oven.  Remove and set aside. 

Toss brisket cubes with Crazy salt and Hot Shot.  Brown the brisket cubes in bacon fat, cooking in batches.  When last batch has been browned, add garlic and onion; cook until onion is soft while scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pot.  

Return meat to pot, add beer and water to barely cover and bring to a boil.  Lower heat and simmer until tender beef is tender -  about 2 hours. 

When brisket is tender, add potatoes, corn, Ro-Tel, chile powder, instant coffee and soup base.  Simmer until potatoes are tender and stew comes together nicely.

Serve with reserved bacon sprinkled on top of each serving. 

Smoky Pork, Black-Eyed Pea and Kale Chili

  • 2 teaspoons coriander seeds, warmed in a skillet until fragrant, then ground in a spice grinder
  • 1 tablespoon paprika, a good Hungarian variety
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 1/2 pounds ground pork
  • salt and pepper, freshly ground black pepper!
  • olive oil
  • 1 pound bacon, thick cut, sliced across into 1/2" pieces
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 large jalapeno peppers, finely chopped (less if you like less heat)
  • 1/2 can jalapeno peppers, canned, chopped
  • 1 large red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1   beer, gluten-free to make this GF
  • 2 cups chicken stock, canned is fine (be sure it's gluten-free to make this GF)
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes, fire-roasted kind
  • 1 can tomatoes with green chilies, RoTel (or another can of fire-roasted tomatoes if you like less would be a shame, though)
  • 4 chipotle chiles canned in adobo, plus a little of the juice, chopped (less if you like less heat)
  • 1 pound dried black-eyed peas, rinsed and picked through
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 pound kale, washed well, chopped, leave the moisture on the leaves

Mix the pork, paprika, cumin, salt and pepper to taste together until thoroughly incorporated.

In a large soup pot, pour enough olive oil to just cover the bottom of the pot.  When it's good and hot, crumble half of the pork mixture into the bottom and brown well while stirring occasionally.  Remove that batch of pork and repeat, using more oil, with the other half of the pork.  Remove when it's browned to the same bowl as the first batch.

In the same pot, add the bacon and brown well.  Pour off almost all of the bacon fat, return to heat and add onions, garlic, jalapenos, canned jalapenos and red pepper and cook until the veggies are softened.

Add the pork back into the pot and all the juices, too.  Add the beer, stock, tomatoes and RoTel, chipotles, dried peas and the cinnamon stick.  Bring to boil, cover with lid and reduce heat to low.  Simmer until the peas are tender.  2-3 hours.

Once the chili is done, remove the cinnamon stick and add the chopped kale (it looks like a whole hell of a cooks down to almost nothing) and cook until the kale is wilted and the flavors come together beautifully.

Serve in bowls with cornbread on the side and it's dinner!

Ham and Green Beans

  • 1 ham bone, with lots of ham on it
  • 1 pound frozen green beans, or 1 pound of fresh (use more if you wish...I like MORE!)
  • 4 stalks celery, WITH leaves, or more to taste
  • 3 onions, cut in 1/2" strips
  • 3 pounds potatoes, cut into chunks (leave the skin on....lots of iron there!)
  • Herbes de Provence, to taste, maybe 4 tablespoons
  • 3 tablespoons seasoned salt, Janes Crazy Salt, of course,or more to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 cup garlic, dried, slivered - get in Oriental market (if you can't find isn't easy...use granualated garlic or garlic powder)

Put ham and bone in large soup pot, add celery, garlic, onion and cover all with water.  Bring to a boil, lower heat, cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours.  

Add rest of ingredients except potatoes, adding more water, if necessary.  

Cook another hour or so and take ham and bone out of pot.  Remove all ham and return to pot, discarding bone.  Add potatoes and cook until potatoes are tender.  

Adjust seasonings and serve.

NOTE:  All you need to make this a complete meal is a good crusty loaf of bread!

Chili Con Queso

  • 4 slices thick sliced bacon, diced
  • 1/2 cup green onion, sliced thinly
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 medium tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 4 ounce can chopped green chiles
  • 3/4 cup white wine, or beer
  • 1 pound Pepper Jack cheese, grated (the food processor makes quick work of this!)
  • 3 tablespoons constarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder or granulated garlic

In a medium sized pot, fry bacon until crisp.  Saute onion in bacon fat (no need to remove the bacon...leave it right where it is) until soft and then add minced garlic.  Add tomatoes and chilies and stir well.  

Stir in wine and bring to a boil.  Toss cheese with cornstarch and garlic powder.  Gradually stir cheese into wine mixture and stir until smooth.  Transfer to a mini slow cooker or fondue pot to serve and surround with tortilla chips.

NOTE:  If you like more heat, feel free to add Tabasco or other hot sauce to taste!

Spicy Black Bean Soup

  • 3 cups dried black beans, picked over (I really like the fact that you don't have to soak these beans overnight before making soup!)
  • 1 ham bone, with lots of meat on it
  • 2 jumbo onions, chopped fine
  • 3 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • 1 can RoTel tomatoes & chiles
  • 8 cups water
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle chile powder (McCormicks has it or try Penzey's if you have one near you or substitute regular chile powder)
  • Jane's Crazy Salt to taste
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar

In a soup pot, bring dry beans, hambone, onion, garlic, cumin, water, and broth to a boil.  Reduce heat to low, partially cover pot with a lid and simmer the soup until beans are tender, about 2-3 hours.  Check the beans for tenderness occasionally.  Transfer hambone to plate and cool.  Cut away ham, discarding bone and fat.
Transfer 1 1/2 cups beans and 1 1/2 cups of cooking liquid to a blender or food processor and let cool slightly.  Puree the mixture and return to pot.  Stir in ham, vinegar, sugar, and Crazy Salt salt and pepper to taste and simmer.  Taste and adjust seasonings.
Serve soup with a dollop of sour cream....we use Fage 0% fat Greek yogurt instead of sour cream now.  Even my husband loves it!

Cornbread Salad

  • 1 package Jiffy corn muffin mix (or gf cornbread mix - use just 1/2 of the baked cornbread) baked, cooled & crumbled coarsely
  • 1 can black beans, drained & rinsed
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 can corn, DelMonte Summer Crisp, drained or leftover corn on the cob cut off
  • 6 green onions, sliced well into the green tops
  • 3 large tomatoes, fresh, chopped (reserve a little for decoration) (in the winter I use the ripest Roma or heirloom tomatoes I can find!)
  • 8 ounces ranch salad dressing, made fresh from packet
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese 
  • pickled jalapenos, slices

In a glass bowl (to show off how pretty this is), layer:  cornbread, black beans, green pepper, 1/2 the ranch dressing, corn, green onions, tomatoes, rest of the ranch dressing and shredded cheddar.

Chill 2-3 hours.  Garnish with reserved tomatoes and pickled jalepeno slices.

Serve with additional ranch dressing to drizzle over.

Omelet Lorraine

  • 2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
  • 1/2 medium red onion, chopped
  • 2 slices bacon slices, cooked crisp & crumbled
  • 1/2 cup Swiss cheese, shredded
  • 4 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • Jane's Crazy Salt, to taste

In a Pam-sprayed skillet, saute onion until wilted, add spinach and a splash of water stir until spinach wilts lightly.  Add bacon, stir together and remove to plate.

Beat 4 eggs together with the tablespoon of water and sprinkle in a little Jane's Crazy Salt (you know it's my fave seasoned salt!).  Beat well. 
Wipe out the skillet and spray again with Pam and put over a medium burner.  Add eggs to skillet and swirl to coat the bottom.  As eggs cook, gently pull the edges slightly towards the center, allowing the uncooked eggs to fill in the empty spaces around the edges.  Continue working the eggs like this until the eggs are almost set. 
At this point, sprinkle the spinach mixture evenly over half of the omelet and cover evenly with Swiss cheese.  Gently fold the bare half of the omelet over the top of the filling and continue cooking until cheese is melted. 
Gently remove the omelet from the pan and cut in half across the equator.  Makes two delicious servings!

Big Heat Tortilla Soup
(If you like "little heat" cut the heat in half!)

About 12 servings

  • 20 ounces corn, DelMonte Summer Crisp or frozen corn
  • 2 red bell peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 2 large chicken breasts, coarsely shredded - I use a HUGE rotisserie chicken from Costco and use only the breasts (if you get it somewhere else, use 4 breasts), use what's left of the rotisserie chicken for another purpose (for a vegetarian version - hello, David, this means YOU - just leave the chicken out)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons poultry seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon chile powder, optional, I use chipotle chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 medium zucchini, sliced lengthwise into 4, then sliced across thinly
  • 1 1/2 jumbo yellow onions, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 chipotle chiles canned in adobo, chopped, with a little of the sauce (we like HOT, if your palate isn't as adventurous, use only ONE of the peppers, taste after a few minutes and if you can handle more heat, add more)
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes, I like the fire roasted kind
  • 2 cans tomato sauce, 8 ounce cans
  • 8 cups chicken stock (to make this vegetarian, use vegetable stock)

Drizzle a little olive oil in the bottom of a big soup pot and lightly saute the red peppers.  Then add zucchini, onions, garlic and chipotle peppers.  Stir well and add seasonings.  Cook just to soften the veggies a little - don't overdo it, they'll soften as the soup simmers.  Add chicken and stir well.
Add tomatoes, tomato sauce and stock.  Bring to a boil and immediately reduce heat to medium low.  Add corn and simmer until vegetables are soft and tender and the flavors all come together.  Taste and adjust seasonings.
Serve in bowls topped with chips, cheddar and a dollop of sour cream.  Remember, you can really control the calories and fat here...the soup without the toppings has only 155 calories and 5 total grams of fat per serving!

NOTE:  You can simplify this even more by using a bag or two of frozen mixed zucchini, yellow squash and red peppers in place of the fresh veggies.  So easy.  Still SO good...I know, I've done it!

Good Old (New Fashioned) Stuffed Cabbage

Makes approximately 18 rolls
  • 1 head green cabbage leaves, cut core from bottom, put entire whole head in large pot, core end down in about 4" of water, cook until cabbage is nearly cooked through. Drain and cool
  • 1 pound extra lean ground beef
  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 1 cup brown rice, the instant variety
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon granulated garlic
  • 1 packet dry ranch dressing mix
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper, freshly ground
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, fire-roasted!
  • 1 can sauerkraut, Bohemian kind or with caraway seeds or plain if you - don't like caraway seeds...I do, juice drained and RESERVED

  • 1 cup tomato juice
  • 1 can tomato soup (To make this gluten-free, use the Heinz brand found in the import section of the grocery store.  This is from England.  It isn't condensed.)
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 teaspoons sugar

Preheat oven to 350.
While cabbage is cooling, mix together ground beef, rice, onion, egg, Worcestershire sauce, salt, pepper, granulated garlic, ranch dressing mix, reserved sauerkraut juice and 1/2 a can of the tomatoes.  Mix well.
Spread the sauerkraut evenly in the bottom of a 9 X 12 (or equivalent) baking pan. 
Separate cabbage leaves.  Take 1 cabbage leaf, use about 1/4 c. meat mixture and place it at the stem end of the leaf.  Fold in sides and roll up like a burrito.  Continue doing this until all the meat is gone and the pan is full.  As you assemble each roll, place it on top of the sauerkraut.  Tuck them tightly together if you need more room. When all the rolls are neatly in place, coarsely chop the remaining cabbage leaves and scatter over the top.  

Mix the remaining tomatoes with the wine, tomato juice, tomato soup and sugar and pour evenly over the top of the rolls.   If your baking pan doesn't have a lid (mine doesn't) cover loosely with foil and bake for 3 hours. 
Serve as is or with mashed potatoes.

White Bean and Greens Stew

Makes 6 servings
  • 2 lbs Kale (or Spinach) rinsed, stems removed, and cut into strips
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 Medium red onion, chopped
  • 5-6 cloves of garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon dried jalapenos, less if you don't like it spicy (if you don’t have dried jalapenos you can sub in red pepper flakes)
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes (I usually use the onions with garlic and onions)
  • 2 cans cannellini beans (drained and rinsed)
  • 2 Teaspoons chile powder or to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste

Bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the kale for 5-6 minutes, until tender. Drain the kale well and set aside.
Wipe out the pot making sure it is dry (so the oil doesn't spatter). Put it back on the burner, heat the oil and cook the onion until almost translucent. Add the garlic and dried jalapenos and cook for another minute, being careful not to burn the garlic.
Add the tomatoes with the juices and the chile powder; bring to a boil, then reduce heat. Add the cannellini beans and cook 2-3 minutes. Add the cooked kale and simmer until the mixture comes together nicely. 
Add salt and pepper to taste and serve! 

This is great with good crusty bread.

NOTE:  One serving has approximately 222 calories and only 6 grams of total fat.  And it's LOADED with fiber!

Szechwan Green Beans with Chicken
Approx. 8 servings
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce, gluten-free or wheat-free tamari
  • 2 tablespoons white wine
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 4 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 pounds green beans, ends trimmed, cut into 2" pieces
  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 6 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 8-ouncecan water chestnuts, sliced or diced
  • 1 bunch green onions, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
In small bowl, stir together soy sauce, wine, sugar, cornstarch, black pepper, pepper flakes, mustard, and water until sugar dissolves.  Set aside.Heat oil in large skillet ( I use a LARGE electric skillet...if you have a wok, use it!) over high heat until just smoking.  Add beans and cook, stirring frequently, until crisp-tender and blackened in spots.  Transfer to bowl.
Reduce heat to medium-high and add chicken to skillet.  Saute, breaking up chicken well.  Add garlic and ginger; cook, stirring constantly for a few seconds until distributed throughout the chicken.  
Stir sauce again, add beans back into skillet and pour sauce over evenly.  Toss and cook until sauce is thickened a little and completely coats beans and chicken.  Stir in water chestnuts and let heat through.  Just before serving, stir in the green onions and sesame oil.  
Serve immediately over rice.
(Approx. 233 calories and 10 grams total fat per serving.)
NOTE:  I love good brown rice, but hate to make it...takes too damned long and I don't have the patience.  I found frozen COOKED brown rice - just as good as P. F. Chang's! - at Trader Joe's.  I always keep it in my freezer to pull out anytime I need brown rice in a snap!

Smoky Jalapeno Potato Cakes
  • 1 C. leftover mashed potatoes, warmed
  • 1 large jalapeno, minced (2 small or medium)
  • 2 small green onions, sliced (1 large)
  • 1/3 C. smoked gouda, finely diced
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 t. granulated garlic
  • gluten-free breadcrumbs (or normal breadcrumbs if you're not doing gluten-free)
Mix all ingredients but the breadcrumbs together well.  Form into patties; coat well with crumbs on both sides.  Fry in a little oil in a hot skillet until golden on both sides and the cheese begins to ooze.  
Serve as a breakfast side dish alongside eggs or even for dinner!
NOTE:  I don't waste money on gluten-free breadcrumbs, I just save all the ends of the loaves in the freezer until I have a good bit.  Then I just give them a whirl in the food processor and store them in a freezer bag until I need some.   

Crab, Jalapeno and Corn Hushpuppies

  • 2  6-oz.  Jiffy or Washington cornbread mixes  (I use a box of Gluten-Free Pantry brand cornbread mix to make this GF)
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup sour cream (or Fage 0% fat Greek yogurt)
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 t. dried thyme
  • 1 t. granulated garlic
  • 1/2 t. cayenne pepper
  • 2 t. Old Bay Seafood seasoning
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • 1 lb. fresh crabmeat -- claw meat is fine, picked through for shell and cartilage
  • 1/3 c. green onions, sliced well into the green
  • 2 jalapenos, finely minced
  • 3/4 c.  corn kernels, fresh, frozen or canned


  • canola oil -- enough to come half-way up the sides of a cast iron skillet

Heat the oil to 350 degrees in a cast iron skillet (or use your favorite deep fryer). 

Lightly mix the cornbread mix, buttermilk, sour cream, egg and spices and then very gently mix in the rest of the ingredients.  Do not over mix to keep these as light as possible.

When the oil is to temp, using a tablespoon, take a rounded mound of batter and gently drop the batter into the oil as close to the surface as possible.  (The closer to the oil you are, the lower the risk of being on the receiving end of a hot oil splash.  But also be sure not to get so close that you deep-fry a finger or thumb!)

Don't put too many in the pan at once, be sure there's enough room for the oil to circulate.  Let fry until the first side is done to keep the batter from falling apart, turn over carefully with a fork or other utensil and continue to fry until both sides are golden brown. 

Remove hushpuppies with a slotted spoon or spider and place on a paper towel lined baking sheet.  Keep them warm in a 300 degree oven until all the hushpuppies are done.

Serve as is (my favorite) or with an aioli made with mayo and lemon juice and Old Bay to taste.

NOTE:  I spread these out on a baking sheet, put them in the freezer and in a couple of hours transfer them to a ziplock bag.  Store them in the freezer until you have a craving....heat the oven to 350 degrees and bake until hot all the way through and crispy.

London Broil
 (Use leftovers for salads and sandwiches!)  

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 BIG lemon, juiced
  • 6 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
  • 2 1/2 pounds top round steak, 1 1/2 " thick, lightly scored in a diamond pattern

Mix marinade ingredients in a ziplock bag and put round steak in.  Squeeze all air from bag and marinate for a few hours or overnight, turning occasionally.
Cook on pre-heated grill until medium rare.  Slice diagonlly into paper thin slices and serve au jus.

Pittsburgh Steak Salads
  • leftover London Broil slices - warmed or cold
  • French fries, prepared - hot and crispy
  • spring greens
  • red, ripe tomatoes
  • onion - red or Vidalia, sliced paper thin
  • cucumbers - sliced paper thin
  • shredded cheddar or mozzarella - even feta
  • salad dressing of your choice
Mound the greens on a plate and arrange the veggies over top.  Top the greens and veggies with the fries, layer on the cheese - love it when it melts on the hot fries - and finally top with sliced steak.  Drizzle with the dressing of your choice.  Ranch, of course, is always good, I think I like balsamic vinaigrette the best. 

Chipotle Chicken Black Bean Burgers

  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 2 chipotle chile canned in adobo, finely minced
  • 1/2 cup black beans, cooked, use homemade if you have them, otherwise canned is fine
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic, or more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt, Janes Crazy Salt, of course, or more to taste
  • 3 green onions, sliced thinly
  • panko breadcrumbs (gluten-free to make this gf)
  • cilantro, finely minced
  • vegetable oil, enough to fry burgers (or broil - see below)

Lightly mix chicken thru onions and shape into 6 flat patties.  Dredge lightly with panko on both sides.

Heat scant oil in skillet & fry until browned & crispy on both sides and cooked through.

Sprinkle with cilantro and serve on buns with tomato and some pickled jalapenos...a little mayo & lettuce, too, if you're splurging on the calories.
 NOTE:  Alternately, you can leave off the panko and broil the patties to cut down further on the fat.  I'd suggest maybe sprinkling a little panko on the tops and spraying with a little olive oil to make them pretty.  The broiled version?  Approximately 190 calories and 7 total grams of fat.

Thai Green Curry Sweet Potato Mash
8 servings
  • 2 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled, cubed
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/3 cup shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon green curry paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/3 cup light cream
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Cook potatoes covered with water until tender.  Drain, return to pan, keep warm.
Melt butter in small skillet over medium heat.  Add shallots, cook until just soft.  Stir in brown sugar, salt, green curry paste, cumin, cinnamon, and cayenne; cook a minute, stirring constantly.  

Add mixture to potatoes along with cream and lime juice.  Mash with potato masher and serve.  So pretty!  So good!  So good for you!  1 serving has only 120 calories and is super high in potassium and vitamins C and A.NOTE:  I like to serve these with a small wedge of lime to squeeze over the top before enjoying!

Lemon Chicken with Asparagus, Snowpeas & Mushrooms

Serves 4

  • 1 pound boneless chicken, cut into medium-sized chunks
  • 3 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1/3 pound snow pea pods, fresh, whole, stem ends removed
  • 1/2 pound asparagus, woody ends snapped off, sliced diagonally into 2" pieces
  • 8 ounces sliced mushrooms

    • 1/2 cup chicken stock
    • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
    • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
    • 2 teaspoons water
    • salt and pepper, to taste

    Combine chicken with 2 t. of oil and 2 t. cornstarch.  Toss together in a bowl until chicken is coated.

     Heat 2 T. oil in a skillet and sprinkle the oil with salt.  Add chicken and saute until it just cooks, but doesn't brown.  Remove chicken to a plate.
    Add the veggies to the pan and cook, stirring, until crisp-tender and then add chicken back to skillet.
    While the veggies are cooking, stir together the remaining 2 t. cornstarch, 1 T lemon juice, the stock, water and salt and pepper.  When the mixture is smooth, pour it over the chicken and veggies in the skillet.  Stir until the sauce thickens and serve over rice.

    NOTE:  Double, triple or quadruple (etc., etc., etc.) the recipe to serve as many people as you need to.  This is naturally gluten-free!

Taco Soup

  • 2 pounds ground beef, extra lean
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • half a head of garlic, peeled and minced
  • 2 envelopes taco seasoning mix (I like the hot n spicy kind) (to make this gluten-free, check the label!)
  • 1 envelope ranch-style dressing mix (to make this gluten-free, check the label!)
  • 1 16-ounce can black beans, undrained
  • 1 16-ounce can corn, undrained
  • 2 16-ounce can hominy, undrained (hominy MAKES this NOT skip it)
  • 2 4-ounce cans green chiles, undrained
  • 2 10 3/4 -unce cans RoTel undrained
  • 2 14 ounce cans beef broth

Brown meat, onion and garlic in soup pot.  Begin adding ingredients one at a time, alternating dry ingredients with canned ingredients.  Stir after each addition. Cover; simmer 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Serve in bowls.  Garnish with shredded cheddar cheese, crushed tortilla chips, a dollup of sour cream a little salsa and sliced green onions.  Your taco shell and garnishes are on top of the soup! 

Lemon Garlic Old Bay Wings

  • 24 wing portions - flats and drummies
  • 3 T. Old Bay, plus more for sprinkling before serving
  • 1 T. granulated garlic
  • 1 T. Worcestershire sauce
  • juice of 1 large lemon or 2 smaller lemons - good juicy ones
  • 3 T. olive oil

Put the wings and the rest of the ingredients into a large ziptop bag and mix them around well.  Squeeze the air out, zip and refrigerate overnight or for at least a couple hours before baking.

Preheat the oven to 400.  Spray a rimmed baking sheet with vegetable oil, arrange the wings so there is plenty of room around each and bake for 30 minutes.  Turn each wing over and continue baking until browned and crisp.  Remove to a serving platter, squeeze a little lemon juice over the top and sprinkle with a little additional Old Bay.  

I like these just as they are - naked.  The hubby likes them dipped in bleu cheese dressing.  

Wheat-Free Chocolate Radicals
  • 1 pound bittersweet chocolate chips - I use Ghirardelli 60% cacao (check to be sure these are GF for gluten-free version)
  • 1 3/4 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs, large
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract (check to be sure it's gluten-free)
  • 1 teaspoon espresso coffee powder (if you don't have it, use instant coffee - I have!)
  • 1/2 cup gluten-free flour - I use Jules Gluten-free flour (if you aren't worrying about a GF product, just use regular white flour!)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder - Rumsford for the GF version
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips - same as above
  • 1 cup walnuts halves, toasted
  • 1 cup pecan halves, toasted

Preheat oven to 350.

Melt 1 pound chocolate in top of double boiler over simmering water, stir until smooth and lump-free.  Remove from heat.  With mixer, beat sugar and eggs in large bowl until pale yellow and VERY thick, about 10 minutes - the thicker the better.  

Beat in melted chocolate, melted butter, vanilla and espresso powder.  

Mix flour, baking powder and salt together in a small bowl.  Stir  into chocolate mixture.  Mix in chocolate chips and nuts.  

Line several large cookie sheets with parchment paper or use a Silpat if you have one.  Using an ice cream scoop (yes, the big one with the lever on it), drop batter onto prepared cookie sheets, spacing evenly.  Flatten out into rounds.  

Bake cookies until tops are dry and cracked, about 20 minutes, depending on your oven.  Cool cookies right on the parchment.  When cool, remove from parchment and store in an airtight container.

Makes approximately 2 dozen LARGE cookies.

Duck Fries

  • 2 7-ounce tubs D'Artagnan duck fat (Giant Eagle Market District carries it - ask) (believe it or not, you can order it on Amazon, too!)
  • 2 pounds large Russet potatoes - peeled and cut into French fry sized sticks - make them pretty!
  • 1 pound sweet potatoes - peeled and cut into the same size pieces as the Russets
  • Kosher or sea salt
  • vinegar of your choice - I used cider vinegar, but malt vinegar would be wonderful....just not for we gluten-free folks
Using a large, deep heavy pot, heat the duck fat to 375 degrees.  CAREFULLY lower the fries into the oil and fry until crisp and golden brown.  You'll need to do this in several not crowd!  
As each batch is done, remove to a paper towel-lined baking sheet and keep warm in the oven (200 degrees) until all the fries are ready.  Sprinkle with the salt, splash a little vinegar over and get ready to enjoy some of the best, most flavorful fries you've ever had!
Do NOT throw out the fat!  Let it cool, pour it back into the original containers and store it in the refrigerator until the next time.  And there will be a next time, trust me.
NOTE:  I use a deep pot because the cost of the duck fat is prohibitive to using in a fryer.  The duck fat is $5.99 a small container at Giant Eagle.  The same as it is online, but you don't have to pay for shipping and you don't have to wait for it!  Of course, if you don't live where you can get it in the store, it would be worth having it shipped, in my opinion.

Shot-and-a-Beer Steak

  • 2 pounds round steaks, 1" thick
  • 1/2 cup flour (gluten-free to make this GF - you know I prefer Jules brand)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 12 ounce can beer (gluten-free beer to make this GF)
  • 1/4 cup applejack (more if you want!), I use Laird's - bourbon is wonderful, too!  Experiment.
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dry Coleman's mustard
  • 1 tablespoon thyme, dried
  • 10 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 1 large onion, diced

Cut all fat off the steaks, cut into serving pieces, dust with flour, salt and pepper - LOTS of pepper - and pound into steaks using a mallet.  Melt butter and oil in large electric skillet and brown steaks well on both sides.  Flip and season the other side with salt and pepper to taste..
Scatter the onion and garlic over the top of the steaks, nestling them down between the pieces of steak.
Combine the beer, applejack, vinegar, mustard and thyme in a small bowl or glass measuring cup.  Pour over steak, cover and simmer for 2 hours or until fork tender.  Turn the steaks over halfway through cooking and stir the liquid to keep is smooth.  Check occasionally.  If necessary, add a little water or beef stock.  Serve with the gravy and mashed potatoes!

NOTE:  If you're watching the calories, cut out the flour, cut down on the butter and oil - it's just as good!  The gravy?  Call it sauce instead! 

Pig Roast Pork Chops

  • 1 3/4 pounds pork chops, that's 2, double thick, bone-in loin chops
  • 1 apple, nice tart one like a Granny Smith, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 red onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 sage leaves, fresh, slivered
  • 1/4 pound sausage, sage type
  • Cajun seasoning, or seasoning of your choice

Cut a pocket into each pork chop, make it nice and big being careful not to go all the way through. 

Inside each chop, layer onion, apple, sage, and sausage, spreading each layer to completely cover the inside of the chop.  Close slit with toothpicks if you wish, I don't always do that.  And it works just fine.

Rub both sides of each chop with the Cajun seasoning and then spray lightly with a little olive oil.  Then let the chops come to room temp before smoking over applewood.

If you do these in the oven, preheat the oven to 375 degrees and bake for approximately an hour.until the apples and onions are tender, the sausage is cooked through and the chops are beautifully browned.  No, I do NOT like my pork pink, no matter what those kooky, trendy chefs are doing today.  Call me old fashioned.  I'm okay with that.

NOTE:  Next time I think I'm stuffing these with hot sausage, roasted red pepper, fresh basil leaves, onion, a little fontina...not sure what else yet...still thinking about this one....oooo...roasted garlic, too!   

Green Beans with Bacon, Red Peppers and Pecans

  • 1 pound fresh green beans, ends snapped off
  • 4 slices bacon, chopped
  • 1/3 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, sliced
  • 1/4 small red onion, slivered
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar

Fry bacon in a large skillet until it is about halfway done; add pecans and saute them together until the bacon is crisp and the pecans toasted.  

Add the beans, red pepper, onion and brown sugar and toss together well.  Add a tablespoon or two of water, cover the pan and let the beans cook until slightly beyond tender crisp.  Toss well again and serve.

NOTE:  A little drizzle of balsamic vinegar - not too much - is nice at the end, too.

Fresh Pineapple Serrano Relish

  •  1 C. fresh pineapple, peeled, cored, cut into chunks
  • 1/4 C. red bell pepper, seeded, chopped
  • 1 serrano chile, seeded, ribs removed, diced finely
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 medium red onion, diced
  • 3 T. cider vinegar
  • 1 t. olive oil
  • 1 t. sugar
  • 1/2 t. salt, or more to taste
  • 1/2 t. mustard seed
  • 1 t. dijon mustard

In a small pot, combine red pepper, chile pepper, garlic, onion, vinegar, oil, sugar, salt and mustard seed and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer until the veggies are soft.  Remove from heat.
In a food processor, add pineapple chunks to bowl, pour hot veggie mixture over top and pulse until mixture is a coarse relish - just short of what you want the finished relish to be.  Add the dijon and pulse to the finished consistency you want.  
I've over-processed this and fixed it by adding a little finely diced red pepper, pineapple and serrano at the end to make it pretty.  If you overdo it, it won't make a difference in taste, just presentation.  
Serve the relish spooned over hot dogs - maybe smear a little mustard on the bun, too.  Or, do it up like Station Street Hot Dog and lay on the bacon and sweet soy!
NOTE:  Udi's makes a really good gluten-free hot dog bun so if you're gluten-free, you can enjoy a hot dog just the way God intended.  On a real bun!     

Toasty Tropical Oven-Baked Coconut Lime Shrimp

  • 12 large shrimp, peeled, deveined and butterflied

  • 1 egg white
  • 1/4 c. cream of coconut
  • grated zest of 1 lime

  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

  • 1 cup shredded coconut, toasted in a 325 degree oven until golden, cool
  • olive oil Pam or olive oil in a mister 

    •  lime wedges

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Beat egg white, cream of coconut and lime zest together in a bowl.  Set aside.
Mix cornstarch, cayenne, salt and pepper together in a study plastic bag.  Set aside.
Spray cooled coconut with olive oil and toss right on the baking sheet.  Set aside.  Spray a second baking sheet with olive oil to place the shrimp onto for baking.
Add shrimp to wet mixture and toss until the shrimp are coated. Add shrimp one at a time to the dry mixture.  Close bag tightly and shake until the shrimp are well coated. One shrimp at a time, press the coconut onto both sides of the shrimp and place each shrimp onto the oiled baking sheet.
Bake shrimp for about 10 minutes (depending on the size of the shrimp - larger shrimp take a little longer, smaller shrimp a little less time) until just cooked through.  Do not overbake - you don't want dry, tough shrimp...keep them moist, tender and succulent.
Plate up the shrimp, squeeze a little fresh lime juice over top, sprinkle with a little Kosher salt and do some of your own indulging.  They're divine.
NOTE:  If you wish, fry them instead of baking.  Heat oil to 350 degrees in a cast iron skillet and fry instead of baking.  

Chorizo Hash with Eggs

  • 1 pound red potatoes, whole, boiled until tender, cooled, diced into 3/4" pieces, or 1 pound frozen Potatoes O'Brien, thawed
  • 3/4 pound chorizo, fresh, removed from casings
  • 1/2 large onion, diced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 eggs
  • cilantro, minced - don't leave this out!

Preheat oven to 375.  Heat ovenproof skillet on a hot burner.  Add chorizo.  Using potato masher, break up into nice sized pieces while it's cooking.  Add potatoes, onion and red bell pepper, cook until browned and tender, but still with a little bite.  Remove from heat. 

Make 4 wells in hash, break an egg into each.  Put into oven for 15 minutes, more or less, or however  long it takes for the eggs to be to your liking.  In our house, the hubby likes them hard (ugh) and I like a nice runny yolk - makes a nice sauce over the hash that way!
Sprinkle with cilantro to serve.  Cilantro is important to add a nice brightness to the dish!
NOTE:  These are really nice done in individual casserole dishes.  Divide hash evenly among 4 casserole dishes, make well, break egg into each and proceed as above.
Don't miss the variation above to just do these with thawed O'Brien potatoes to make it an easy morning.

Cracked Black Pepper & Lime Shrimp Tacos

  • 1 egg white
  • 1/2 t. dijon mustard
  • 1 pound shrimp, remove tails & shells
  • 1 c. fresh fine bread crumbs, gluten-free to make these GF
  • zest of 1 lime
  • 1 t. freshly ground black pepper, coarsely ground
  • canola oil plus extra to mist over shrimp (can use Pam)
  • 2 c. packaged coleslaw mix
  • 2 green onions, sliced thinly well into the green
  • 3 T. cilantro, coarsely chopped

  • 1 c. plain Greek yogurt (I like Fage 0%)
  • juice of 1 lime (use the zest for the breading above and the juice for the crema)
  • 2 t. minced garlic
  • 1 t. cumin
  • 2 T. fresh cilantro, minced finely
  • 2 t. GREEN Tabasco
  • salt to taste
  • soft corn tortillas 
Slaw:  Toss the coleslaw mix, green onions and cilantro together well.  Set aside or refrigerate until ready to assemble tacos.
Crema:  Mix all the crema ingredients together and refrigerate until ready to assemble tacos.
Shrimp:  Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Prepare a baking sheet (with a raised edge all around) by coating lightly with canola oil.  Set aside. 
Toss breadcrumbs, lime zest and cracked black pepper together in a plastic bag.  Set aside.
In medium bowl, beat egg white until very frothy, but not meringue-y.  Gently beat in mustard.  Add shrimp to egg white mixture and coat completely. 
Remove shrimp from egg white mixture, let excess liquid drip off and add shrimp to the plastic bag, one at a time, with the breadcrumbs.  Shake gently to coat, remove and place on prepared baking sheet.  Mist breaded shrimp with oil and immediately place in preheated oven.
Bake for 10 minutes until just cooked through.  Remove from oven.
Assembly:  Put 3 shrimp on each tortilla, add a little slaw, a little crema, squeeze a little lime over and it's shrimp night! 

Roast Pork Hash with Potatoes, Fennel and Garlic

  • 2 T. bacon fat or vegetable oil
  • 1 C. leftover pork, cubed
  • 2 large potatoes, skin on, cubed
  • 1/2 large onion, cut into large dice
  • 1/2 fennel bulb, cut into large dice (remove fronds for another use)
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
  • salt and pepper to taste

Heat the bacon fat or oil in a heavy skillet.  Once the skillet is good and hot, add the pork cubes and brown on all sides.  Remove.  

Add a little more bacon fat or oil.  Once it is good and hot, add the potatoes, onion and fennel.  Brown, stirring occasionally.  About halfway through, add the sliced garlic.  

Once the veggies are nearly done, add the pork back into the skillet, season with salt and pepper to taste,  Cook everything together for a few more minutes to blend the flavors. Serve with a nice green veggie or a salad.

NOTE:  Roasted carrots, onion, asparagus, garlic and fennel were Sunday's side dish. I used the other half of the fennel bulb and the onion in tonight's hash.  You KNOW I wouldn't waste them! 

I didn't waste the beautiful, ferny fennel fronds either. Those were used to make a batch of fennel simple syrup for some creative cocktails.  The syrup smells wonderful and I can't wait to make some kind of cucumber/fennel/gin drink!  

Grilled Caesar Romaine

  • 1 head romaine lettuce - split in half lengthwise, cut side sprayed lightly with olive oil 
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 t. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 T. fresh lemon juice, more if you like it tarter
  • 1 t. dry mustard - I use Coleman's
  • 1/2 C. olive oil
  • Parmigiano Reggiano, grated fresh to taste

  • 2 slices bread - your favorite, in my case it's gluten-free, cut into small cubes
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced  

Whisk the 2 cloves minced garlic, Worcestershire, lemon juice, mustard and olive oil until emulsified.  Set aside.

In a small skillet, heat the olive oil and saute the bread cubes and garlic until crisp and golden. Set aside.

On a hot grill, put the romaine cut side down and grill just until beautiful grill marks appear.  Remove to a plate.

To serve, drizzle dressing lightly over each grilled romaine half, sprinkle with croutons and lightly grate the parm over each.  Serve! 

Roasted Beet and Feta Salad with Horseradish Vinaigrette

  • 3 large beets
  • 2 tablespoons feta cheese, small crumbles

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, or more, to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper, a good amount

Heat oven to 450 degrees.  Gently scrub and trim beets to 2" of stems; dry.  (Save the greens!  They make a great side dish on their own when braised with a little sugar and vinegar!)  Lightly oil outside of beets with olive oil and place in an oven-proof dish.  Sprinkle liberally with kosher salt, cover dish with foil and roast beets until a knife slides in easily.  Remove from oven and cool.While the beets are roasting, put the vinaigrette together: mix well the horseradish, vinegar, mustard, olive oil, salt & pepper.  Whisk until well emulsified.  Set aside.


Slip the skins off the cooled beets.  Grate the beets coarsely.  Pour about half the vinaigrette over and gently combine.  Mix in the feta, gently mix again.

Serve the additional vinaigrette on the side.

Sweet Tea Applewood Smoked Chicken Thighs

  • 8 bone-in, skin on chicken thighs
  • 6 tea bags
  • 1 quart water
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 1 T. freshly ground black pepper 

Start this the night before to allow the chicken to marinate in the brine for at least 12 hours and up to 24.  

In a saucepan, combine the water and sugar; bring to a boil and simmer until sugar is completely dissolved.  Add tea bags, remove from heat.
While the mixture is still hot, stir in the salt until dissolved.  Add lemon juice and pepper; let cool to room temperature.  

Put the chicken into a large zip top bag and add enough of the brine to completely submerge chicken, but still are able to close the bag securely.  Put the bag into a large bowl - if the bag leaks, it won't get all over your fridge!  Refrigerate the chicken overnight.

The next day, remove the chicken from the fridge and let it come to room temp. Prepare your smoker using your favorite wood chunks - we like apple for this recipe.  You can use water in the smoker bowl or get wild and use apple cider, white wine or beer!  Come to think of it, next time I think I'll try throwing some tea leaves and lemon slices into the water bowl! 

While the smoker comes up to temp, remove the chicken from the brine; discard the brine.  Dry each piece of chicken and arrange skin side up on the smoker rack.  Cover and smoke until the chicken is cooked through, but tender and juicy.  Slice through the biggest thigh right next to the bone to check for doneness.  When there's no pink next to the bone, they're done!    

NOTE:  The sugar in the brine helps to give a gorgeous mahogany color to the chicken!

Springtime Asparagus Lasagna

  • 2 pounds asparagus, ends snapped off
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 lasagna noodles, no boil variety, or equivalent (gluten-free to make this GF)
  • 2 T. butter
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch (gluten-free to make this GF)
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1 lemon, zest only
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 cup parmigiano reggiano, freshly grated, and extra for the top
  • 1 cup heavy cream

Cut tips from asparagus spears; set aside separately.  Cut the remaining bottoms diagonally into 1/2" pieces; cook until tender-crisp and plunge into ice water. Drain and set aside.Prepare the lasagna sheets according to package directions and drain.  Set aside.


Melt butter in a saucepan, add cornstarch and cook stirring over low heat until it begins to thicken.  Add broth and continue whisking until smooth.  Stir in feta, zest and salt; stir until sauce is smooth.  It's okay if the feta doesn't incorporate completely...nobody will ever know in the finished dish.Butter the sides and bottom of a 9" X 9" pan.

Drain pasta well.  Make 1 layer of noodles - cut to size, if you need to.  Spread with 1/4 of the sauce.  Top with 1/4th the reserved asparagus bottoms and sprinkle with 1/3 cup parm.  Continue layering, ending with a layer of noodles.In a bowl, beat cream with just a pinch of salt to soft peaks.  Arrange the asparagus tips on top of the lasagna and gently put the whipped cream over the top.  Evenly scatter the remaining parm over the top.Bake at 400  for 30-40 minutes or until golden and bubbling.  Let it cool for a few minutes before cutting.

Grilled Orange-Glazed Bok Choy Skewers

  • 8 small heads bok choy (about 4" long, if you can't find it this small, cut larger bok choy into pieces)
  • 1/2 sweet red bell pepper, cut into large cubes
  • 1/2 purple onion, cut into wedges

  • 2 T. orange marmalade
  • juice of 1 orange
  • 1 T. hoisin sauce (gluten-free to make this GF)
  • 1 T. soy sauce (wheat-free tamari to make this GF)
  • 1/2 t. granulated garlic
  • 1 t. honey
  • 1 T. vegetable oil
  • 1/2 t. 5-spice powder
  • 1/4 t. red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1/2 t. dark sesame oil (optional)

 Alternate veggies on skewers - if you use bamboo skewers, be sure to soak them in water for an hour before threading veggies onto them (you don't want the bamboo to catch fire!)

Whisk the glaze ingredients together well.

Place veggie skewers on a hot grill, baste with glaze several times while grilling and remove when veggies are tender crisp.

NOTE:  Although the skewers are prettiest when you alternate the bok choy, peppers and onions, cooking time for individuals veggies is more accurate if you put like veggies on separate skewers.  i.e. all bok choy on one, all onion on another, etc.   

Baked Spinach and Parmesan Brunch Eggs

Makes 2 servings
  • 1/2 pound of fresh spinach - washed, dried, roughly chopped
  • 1 1/2 T. butter
  • 1/4 c. onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced finely
  • 1/4 c. half and half
  •  a few grinds of fresh nutmeg, or scant 1/8 t. bottled
  • 1/4 c. Parmigiano-Reggiano - yep, the good stuff!
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • 4 eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter and add the onion and garlic..  When they start to turn translucent, add all of the spinach to the pan.  Yes, it looks like one hell of a lot of won't be when you're done.  Add the half and half, nutmeg and the pepper, stir until the spinach starts to wilt.  Remove from heat.

Divide the spinach mixture between two ramekins or oven-proof dishes.  Make a large well in the spinach, divide the parm evenly between the two ramekins; break 2 eggs into each of the ramekins - yes, right in the center.

Drizzle a little more half and half over the yolks, sprinkle a little more parm over that and bake for about 20-25 minutes, depending if you like your eggs softer or harder.  Serve.  Don't forget the Bloody Marys!  

Poblano Potato Gratin

  • 2 1/2 pounds russet potatoes, peeled and sliced thinly
  • 1 LARGE (or a couple smaller) poblano pepper - the one I used was about 6" long and HUGE - roasted and skinned, sliced across
  • 1/2 large onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 pound pepperjack cheese, grated
  • 1/2-2/3 c. half and half
  • Jane's Crazy salt, to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 c. salsa verde, store bought  

Preheat the oven to 400.  

Butter a 1 1/2 quart shallow baking dish - you know, the kind you make your regular gratineed potatoes in.  Slice half the potatoes directly into the dish, spreading evenly and pressing down to compact them.

Layer all the onion and then all but a few slices of the poblano on top of the potatoes - save a few slices to decorate the top when you're done.  Sprinkle the Jane's Crazy salt and black pepper over the poblanos.  Scatter 3/4 of the cheese over the top and spoon the salsa over that.  

Finish with the rest of the potatoes on the top of the poblanos and press down and compact everything again.  Season with Jane's Crazy salt and pepper again and finish off with a little more cheese and a little more of the salsa.  

Lay the strips of poblano you saved decoratively over the top and gently pour the half and half over all.

Cover the dish loosely with foil and bake for about an hour or until the potatoes are tender and the top is browned and bubbly.

NOTE:  To char the pepper(s), lay them directly on the burner of the stove and char them on all sides, turning to be sure they are blackened all over.  Pop them into a bowl with a tight fitting lid or one that you can tightly cover with plastic wrap.  Let them sit until the peppers are cool.  Scrape the charred skins off the tender flesh and proceed with the recipe.  

Oh...and don't let anyone say you can't do this on an electric burner...I do!  Works just fine.   

NOTE 2:  If you haven't tried Jane's Crazy salt, it is a staple in my house!  Look for it in the spice section along with other seasoning salts...but don't bother with the other ones....Crazy salt is the best!

Hell, even Paula Deen used to use it before she started marketing her own brand!

Lamburger Sliders with Spinach & Feta

Serves 2

  • 3/4 pound ground lamb
  • 1 cup fresh spinach, chopped
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced finely
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • 2 pita bread rounds - Gluten-free to make these GF (see note)
  • spinach
  • red onion, sliced thinly
Mix lamb, chopped spinach, garlic, feta, salt and pepper thoroughly, but lightly.  Form into 4 patties.
Grill over flames to get that gorgeous carmelization!
Put two sliders into a pita with red onion and fresh spinach.  Serve with tzatziki on the side for dipping!

NOTE:  Soergel's in Wexford carries Heaven Mills gluten-free pita that is out of this world!  If you can't get to Soergel's, be sure to look for it wherever you buy your GF products.  Eden's in Mt. Lebanon carries it, too.    

NOTE 2:  See tzatziki recipe below.


  • 1 seedless English cucumber, grated (if you use regular cucumbers, be sure to peel the cucumber and scrape the seeds out before grating - regular cucumbers are waxed)
  • 2 cups plain low-fat yogurt (I use Fage 0% fat Greek yogurt)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil 
  • 3/4 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • Jane's Crazy Salt, to taste
  • fresh ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh mint leaves
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced

Put the grated cucumber into a sieve and sprinkle with a little salt.  Let the cucumber drain for 1/2 an hour over a bowl.  Press the cucumber against the sieve to get all the rest of the liquid out.  Then proceed with the recipe.

Blend all ingredients together and chill for an hour.

To serve:  On large platter, surround bowl of Tzatziki with cherry tomatoes, cubes of feta cheese, Calamata olives, pickled hot peppers and wedges of pita bread.  You can dip the pita itself or tuck cheese, tomatoes, etc. into the bread before dipping!  

NOTE:  Soergel's in Wexford carries Heaven Mills gluten-free pita that is out of this world!  If you can't get to Soergel's, be sure to look for it wherever you buy your GF products.  Eden's in Mt. Lebanon carries it, too. 

Shishkabobs with Asian Honey Ginger Marinade
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce (use wheat-free tamari to make this gluten-free)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger

  • 2 pounds large beef cubes, sirloin or your favorite steak
  • 1 red pepper, large squares
  • 1 orange pepper, large squares
  • 1 purple onion, large wedges
  • 8 tiny heads bok choy
  • 2 small zucchini

Mix marinade ingredients together and marinate beef cubes overnight or at least for several hours.

Using metal skewers (or bamboo skewers that have soaked in water for at least an hour), thread beef and veggies alternately (and decoratively!) on the skewers.  Grill as you like them.

Navy Bean Soup

  • 1 ham bone, with lots of meat on it
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 4 stalks celery, with lots of leaves, chopped
  • 1 pound carrots, peeled and chopped finely
  • 1 pound navy beans, soaked overnight and drained
  • 4 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can tomatoes
  • water
  • Jane's Crazy Salt, to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • hot sauce - optional (I like Cholula Chile Garlic!)

In a large soup pot, cover hambone with water, add onions, celery and garlic.  Cover pot with lid, bring the water to a boil, lower to medium and simmer the soup for about an hour.  Add the beans, carrots and tomatoes, return to a simmer and cook until the ham is falling off the bone.

Remove the bone, cut the ham into bite sized pieces, if necessary.  Adjust the seasonings with Crazy Salt and pepper and continue simmering until the veggies and beans are soft and creamy.

Add hot sauce, if desired (and I desire!).  Serve!

Cold Sesame Noodles

  • 1 pound spaghetti - gluten-free to make this GF (preferably BiAglut - you'll never know it's GF!!!)
  • 1 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 1/3 cup sesame seeds
  • 6 tablespoons soy sauce - wheat-free tamari to make this GF
  • 6 tablespoons tahini (sesame seed paste)
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons dry white wine
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • red pepper flakes
  • shredded lettuce
  • shredded carrot
  • sliced green onions

Cook noodles according to package, drain well, transfer to large bowl and toss well with oil.  Set aside.
Toast sesame seeds in heavy small skillet until light brown stirring constantly!  Put in food processor or blender with next 9 ingredients and process until smooth.  Mix sauce well with noodles and refrigerate.At serving time, bring noodles to room temp.  Arrange lettuce on large serving platter, mound noodles in center and top with shredded carrots and green onions.

NOTE:  This makes a nice main dish if you add some sliced or shredded chicken breast or steamed, peeled shrimp to the noodles!

Orange Ginger Beer Can Chicken on the Smoker

  • 1 roasting chicken, a nice big one!

  • 1 orange, zested and juiced (reserve juice)
  • ginger root, 2" piece, peeled and grated
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
  • 1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons honey, dark honey if you can find it
  • 1 teaspoon Penzey's Bankok Blend spice*
  • 1 tablespoon tamari soy sauce, wheat-free to make this gluten-free or soy sauce if gluten isn't an issue
  • 1 tablespoon sake (or white wine)

Glaze / Basta:

  • orange juice (reserved from the orange above)
  • 1/4 cup sake (or white wine)
  • 1/2 cup orange marmalade
  • 2 tablespoons tamari soy sauce (see note about tamari above)
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon dark sesame oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon ginger

  • 1 can ginger ale

Rinse whole chicken, remove giblets and all the stuff inside (I throw it out, if you use it for something, go ahead!), remove all the fat around the neck.  Pat dry.

Combine the rub ingredients: zest, ginger, garlic, sesame oil, honey, spice, tamari and sake. Mix well into a paste; set 1 T. aside.  

Run your fingers between the skin and the flesh of the chicken breast and distribute 1/4 of the paste completely over that side of the breast.  Repeat on the other side of the breast with another 1/4 of the paste. Massage the paste all around from the outside, working the paste into all areas. 

Paste rubbed between breast and skin.

Make a small slit at the top of one leg (see pic) just about 1" long.  Insert one finger and separate the skin from the leg - do this gently.  Using the same slit, run your finger between the skin and the thigh, loosening skin completely.  Using your finger, work 1/4 of the remaining paste between the skin and leg, then another 1/4 between the skin and thigh.  Repeat on other leg and thigh.  Massage the paste all around from the outside, working the paste into all areas.  

Cutting slit at leg to insert paste.

Now let the chicken chill out in the fridge for about 4 hours.

For the baste, combine the orange juice, sake, marmalade, tamari, granulated garlic, sesame oil and ginger.  Mix well, set aside.

When you're ready to start cooking, prepare smoker as you normally would - we used applewood for this.  While the smoker is getting to temp, pour out all but 1/2 of the gingerale - drink it if you want or save it for something else - and gently work the butt of the chicken over the can.  Bend the wing tips back and tuck them under to keep them from burning.

Once the smoker is up to temp (225-250 degrees) put the chicken on the smoker and move his little legs forward to balance him upright - like he's standing up dancing!  We used to do it this way, but bought ourself a beer can chicken holder that's just study wire with a base that you insert the can into - holds the can and the chicken steady, but without the holder we did just fine for years! 

Cover the smoker and let the chicken go for about an hour.  Remove the lid and baste the chicken with the sauce.  Do this about 3 times over the course of the smoking. 

The time to smoke will vary with everyone - the type of smoker you use, the size of the chicken, how how you're all depends.  Use a meat thermometer to be accurate about when the chicken is done.  An internal temperature of 180 degrees is what you're looking for - the leg should move easily and loosely in the joint.


NOTE:  If you don'e have Bankok Blend, use pinches of ancho chile, lemon pepper seasoning, red pepper flakes, basil and cilantro - all dried and mix well and there you have it! 

All American Shish-Ka-Bob

  • 1/2 lb smoked sausage, cut into 1 1/2" pieces
  • 6 small red potatoes, sliced in half and pre-roasted in the oven to almost done
  • 1 zucchini, cut into 1 1/2" pieces
  • 1 large onion, cut into wedges, separated into layers with 2-3 layers in each wedge
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into large squares 
  • bottled BBQ sauce - your favorite

Thread alternate pieces of sausage, onion, pepper, potato and zucchini on metal skewers.  If you use wooden skewers, be sure to soak them in water at least an hour before threading.
Put the skewers onto a hot grill and turn frequently to keep from burning while basting frequently with the BBQ sauce.  That's it!
NOTE:  The corn is roasted right alongside the skewers....and I have plans for the leftover corn!  In fact, the leftover meat & veggies make a really good hopple popple with eggs for an easy dinner or breakfast! 

Marti's Shaved Fennel with Parm

  • 2 fennel bulbs, fronds removed & reserved, root end sliced off, sliced VERY thinly
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese, the good stuff, the REAL Parmigiano-Reggiano

Scatter the fennel evenly over the bottom of a shallow baking dish.  Squeeze the lemon half over the top, distribute the minced garlic evenly over the top.
Using a veggie peeler or microplane, generously shave the parm over the top in curls. The amount in the recipe above is a suggestion, not a rule...splurge!
Place into a preheated 375 degree oven and bake 30 to 45 minutes or until tender and beautifully browned.  Garnish with a few reserved fennel fronds.

NOTE: Save those fronds to make a simple syrup for cocktails or to add into a salad.  Both are wonderful.

Spatchcocked Lemon, Rosemary & Garlic Grilled Chicken

  • 1 small chicken, fryer type - tenderer and juicier

  • 1 large lemon, 2 if not LARGE, juiced
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 2 fresh rosemary sprigs, about 6-8" long or the equivalent length, leaves pulled off stems and chopped

  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 heavy bricks - new, clean and wrapped neatly and completely in aluminum foil

After the backbone has been removed.

Spatchcock the chicken.  Okay, that means to turn the chicken breast side down, take a very sharp knife and cut along BOTH sides of the backbone, one at a time, from top to bottom to remove the backbone.  Go in knife tip first and lower the blade along the way.  Reinsert the knife if necessary.  Once the backbone is out, open the chicken and lay it flat open side down.  Press firmly with the heel of your hand all along the skin side of the breast to flatten as much as possible.

Mix all the marinade ingredients in a large zip top bag.  When well mixed, gently put the chicken into the bag, open the chicken out flat in the bag, squeeze ALL the air out and using your fingers, smoosh the marinade all around the chicken evenly.  Refrigerate at least 4 hours or you can start this the night before.
Heat the grill, using the lowest setting possible.  Remove the chicken from the marinade and let the excess marinade drip off.  Salt and pepper the skin side of the chicken liberally. 
On the grill, under the bricks!
Lay the chicken on the grill over INDIRECT heat.  Lay the foil-wrapped bricks on top of each side of the chicken, pressing the chicken flat.  Close the grill top and let 'er rip.  Gently, of course. 

Check the chicken often to be sure it's cooking and browning evenly, turning as necessary.  If the flames flare up, have a squirt bottle of water ready to put out the flames.
It will take 1 1/2 - 2 hours, more or less, to cook the chicken completely.  Once the skin has browned and crisped, turn it over to cook it through on the other side; then finish off last by turning it over to the skin side again to give the skin one last crisping. 
Carefully move to a serving plate and serve!

Lemony Greek Potato Salad with Feta and Kalamata Olives

  • 3 pounds red potatoes, small ones, halved and sliced crosswise
  • 1/2 cup Kalamata olives, slivered
  • 3 garlic cloves, unpeeled*
  • 1 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 large lemon, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 pound feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup parsley, chopped
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Cook potatoes with the unpeeled garlic until tender.  Cube the potatoes, set the garlic aside.  Squeeze the garlic from the skins and mash with a fork; set aside.  Combine potatoes with olives and feta in a large bowl. 
Mix garlic paste with oregano, vinegar, lemon juice and olive oil; whisk. 
Toss potato mixture with the dressing, parsley, salt and pepper.

*Did you notice the technique for making the garlic paste?  When you don't have time to roast garlic, this is an easy way to mellow out raw garlic...not as roasty toasty, but works very well in this and other recipes!

 Apple, Bacon & Pecan Chicken Salad 
with Maple Pecan Vinaigrette

Serves 2

  • 2 cups spinach
  • 2 cups romaine lettuce leaves, mixed red & green
  • 1/2 cup pecans, whole
  • 3 slices bacon, thick sliced, 12" across, fried crisp
  • 1 Apple, Gala or other crisp & pretty one
  • fresh lemon juice
  • 6 tablespoons bleu cheese, crumbles
  • 1 chicken breast, roasted, sliced across the grain
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced
  • 1 poblano pepper, roasted, blackened skin removed and seeded - sliced

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup, grade B - it has more flavor!
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Saute bacon until crisp; remove with slotted spoon & drain.  Saute the pecans in the bacon fat.  Remove.

On two plates, arrange 1/2 the spinach & half the Romaine on each plate.  Top with apple slices in a sunburst.  Arrange slices of avocado and roasted poblano pepper alternately; squeeze lemon juice over both.  Arrange 1/2 the chicken slices around the salad.  Sprinkle with bacon & pecans.  Mound bleu cheese in the center and drizzle with the vinaigrette.

Vinaigrette:  Mix olive oil, balsamic, maple syrup, granulated garlic, pepper & salt.  Whisk well.

NOTE: You don't have to do an arranged salad...make it easier and chop the chicken, apples, veggies, etc. and mix lightly together.  Top lettuce and spinach with the mixture and drizzle with dressing.  Easy!

Instead of apple, try grilled peaches, pears, mango or even orange slices!

Old Fashioned Picnic Potato Salad - 
Like My Mom's Used to Be

Serves 8

  • 8 baking potatoes
  • 4 eggs

  • 3/4 green pepper, diced
  • 2 sticks celery, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced fine

  • 1 1/2 cups mayonnaise, Hellmans!
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • Jane's Crazy Salt, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon celery seed (optional) - depends upon your crowd

Place potatoes into a pot big enough to hold them AND the eggs.  Cover with cold water and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat a little so it doesn't boil over, but keep it at a low boil.  Cook until potatoes can JUST be pierced easily with a knife.  Don't overcook!  Remove from heat and pour into a colander to cool slightly.
While the potatoes & eggs are cooling, Mix the diced veggies with about a teaspoon of the Crazy Salt and let sit to draw out the excess moisture for about 15 minutes.  Drain WELL.
While you're waiting for the moisture to come out of the veggies, mix the mayo, sugar, vinegar and mustard together well.  Set aside.
Peel and slice the potatoes into a large mixing bowl.  Peel the eggs.   Dice the eggs into the same mixing bowl.  Add the DRAINED veggies.  Pour most, not all, of the dressing over and mix lightly.  Taste, adjust seasoning with Crazy Salt and mix well again.  Add the rest of the dressing if it needs it....but you DON'T want a soupy potato salad.  

NOTE:  The hint above about salting and draining your veggies ahead of time?  Helps keep the potato salad from getting soupy...AGAIN with the soupy!

Spinach & Feta Twice-Baked Stuffed Potatoes

Makes 4

  • 4 baking potatoes, baked
  • 1 package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, squeezed dry, dry, dry!
  • 4 green onions, sliced thinly, well into the green
  • 4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • 4 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons sour cream
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste - don't be stingy
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • Jane's Crazy Salt, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic

 Cut a thin slice off the top off each potato, lengthwise.  Carefully scoop out the potato, leaving an 1/8" edge, into a bowl.  Fluff the potato in the bowl and break up well.  Add DRY spinach and onions - fluff again.
Add the cream, sour cream feta and seasonings.  Mix well and spoon back into shells.* 
Bake at 400 degrees until the tops are golden.

*There will be more filling than you can fit into the shells - put what's left into small buttered ramekins for another meal.


  • 2 nice ripe avocados
  • 1-2 jalapenos, seeds and ribs removed, sliced thinly
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 2-3 T. chopped onion
  • 2-3 T. fresh cilantro, leaves only, chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 juice lime - more if not juicy

Don't cut avocado until you're ready to add it to the molcajete.

In bottom of molcajete, add jalapenos, garlic, onion and cilantro.  Sprinkle with salt.  Using the stone, mash and grind the veggies into a paste or as close to it as possible.  Now cut avocado around the perimeter and twist apart.  Remove pit, use a large spoon to scoop out all that gorgeous green goodness and add it to the molcajete.  Immediately squeeze lime juice over the avocado to prevent it from turning brown.  Mash it well into the veggies in the vessel.

Taste and adjust seasonings.  Add more lime, salt, cilantro or heat depending on your preference.  Play with it! 

NOTE:  If you don't have a molcajete, use a bowl and a fork!  Just as good...and that's what I did for many years until Mieke bought me a REAL molcajete for my birthday last year.  Do you think it was a gift for both of us?  Of course, I got her one for Christmas!  Turn about, you know?

If you want to invest in a real molcajete, Williams Sonoma has a really nice (i.e., expensive) one.  If you're lucky enough to live where there's a World Market (Pittsburgh NEEDS a World Market!!!!!!!), they carry them at a VERY reasonable price!  ($19.99 as opposed to $49 for the one at Williams Sonoma...see what I mean about NEEDING a World Market?!) 

 Oatmeal Walnut Raisin Heath Bar Cookies

Makes approximately 3 dozen cookies

  • 1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 4 tablespoons shortening, Crisco!
  • 1 cups dark brown sugar (gives the cookies a more pronounced caramel flavor)
  • 1 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups Jules or Tom Sawyer (or other high-quality GF flour mix) Gluten-free all purpose flour, or regular all purpose flour if you're not making these GF
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, freshly ground
  • 1 teaspoons cinnamon, Vietnamese, if possible
  • 3 cups rolled oats, certified gluten-free to make these GF
  • 3 cups raisins
  • 2 cups walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 4 full-sized Heath Bars, coarsely smashed

Preheat oven to 350
With a mixer, beat butter and Crisco until creamy.  Add sugars and continue beating until fluffy.  Beat in eggs one at a time.
Mix flour, salt, baking powder, nutmeg and cinnamon together. 
Mix dry ingredients into butter mixture.  Stir in oats, raisins, walnuts and Heath Bar pieces. 
Using heaping tablespoons of dough,  place onto parchment covered baking sheets leaving about 2" of space around each ball of dough.  Flatten each slightly.
Bake until edges are browned, but cookie is till light 22-25 minutes - more or less depending on your oven.  

Slide the parchment paper with the cookies on it from the cookie sheet right onto a cooling rack.  Let cool 1/2 an hour before serving or storing.  Store in an airtight container.

Bratwurst Reubens

Makes 2

  • 4 slices rye bread
  • butter
  • 3 bratwursts, sliced almost through lengthwise and open like a book
  • 8 thin slices Swiss cheese
  • Sauerkraut, drained VERY well – I like the Bohemian-style kraut with caraway seeds
  • red onion, sliced so thin it's almost shaved
  • Mustard
  • Thousand Island dressing

Butter the bread.  In a large skillet or griddle, place 2 slices of rye side by side.  Top each slice with 2 slices of cheese, then 3 brat halves on each, 3-4 T of kraut spread out evenly on each, a layer of the red onion, 2 more slices of cheese on each and then top with the remaining buttered rye.

Grill over medium heat until each side is browned and beautiful and the cheese is melted.

Serve with mustard and/or Thousand Island dressing to dip.

Avocado Brunch Eggs with Poblano Crema

Serves 2

  • 1 avocado, sliced in half, pitted, drizzled with lemon juice
  • 2 eggs, poached 

  • 1 large poblano pepper, roased, peeled and seeded
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream, more or less
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, more or less
  • pinch of cayenne
  • salt, to taste

  • cilantro leaves

In a food processor or blender, add HALF the poblano pepper, reserve the other half.  Start the food processor and add cream until it is a nice creamy consistency - pourable, but not loose; add cayenne, a drizzle of lemon & a sprinkle of salt.  Process just to blend and transfer to a small bowl or cup.  Set aside.
Make 2 poached eggs - however you do it.  I don't have a poached egg pan anymore so I do mine in simmering water with a little white vinegar added. When the eggs are ready, remove them to a plate.
While the eggs are poaching, slice the remaining poblano half into thin strips.  Set aside.
To serve: Nestle an egg into the hole in the avocado, drizzle with poblano crema, lay strips of poblano decoratively over the top, sprinkle a few cilantro leaves over & a little salt.  Done and delicious!

NOTE:  Obviously you can double, triple or whatever the recipe to match appetites and the number of guests!

Golden Beet Salad with Orange Maple Vinaigrette

  •  6 large beets, trim off the greens to 2" above the top of the beets (I used golden, but red beets would be yum, too.)  NOTE:  do NOT throw out the greens!  Save them for another meal!
  • 1 orange, zested and juiced
  • 1/4 red onion, sliced very thinly

  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons maple syrup, yeah, the real stuff...I like grade B...more flavor!
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Wrap each beet individually in foil.  Roast in a preheated 425 degree oven until a knife slips into the center of the beets easily, but they aren't mooshy.  The amount of times depends on how big the beets are, but an hour, more or less....and then test.
Let the beets cool until you can handle them comfortably.  Squeeze the beet and the skin should slip off easily - if not, use a knife to coax it off.  Slice off the stem end.  Dice the beets into a large bowl.  Add the orange zest and juice and the onion.  Mix.
Add the salt, olive oil, lemon juice, maple syrup and pepper.  Mix well.
Serve at room temp.  

NOTE:  Bunches of fresh beets, if you're lucky, come with leaves attached.  Do NOT throw them away!  Save them for braised greens that your grandmother would have made back in the day.  You will be so happy to rediscover this delicious, thrifty side dish!  Yep, the recipe is coming up this week!

Greek Layered Spinach, Feta & Artichoke Salad

  • 2 large chicken breast halves, shredded (Buy them at the deli counter - if you're lucky, you can just buy the breasts.  Otherwise, buy a whole rotisserie chicken, use the breasts and use the rest for something else.)
  • 3/4 English cucumber, diced small
  • 3/4 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 teaspoon Jane's Crazy Salt

  • 2 cans garbanzo beans, drained
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 large lemons, juiced
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Jane's Crazy Salt

  • 5 ounces fresh spinach, preferably baby spinach, torn - 1 bag
  • 1 cup roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, chopped fine
  • 12 ounces marinated artichoke hearts, reserve juice
  • red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 3/4 cup kalamata olives, seeded and quartered
  • 6 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

A day or two ahead, mix the garbanzo beans (chickpeas) with the lemon juice and minced garlic, olive oil & Jane's crazy salt in a tall, narrow container.  Using a fork, stab the beans, stir, stab the beans, stir; cover & store in fridge.  Shake the container occasionally to marinate well.  Don't make the beans mooshy, just get some nice holes in them.  It lets the marinade permeate & gives the beans a hummus-y flavor!

The night before you're going to serve this, sprinkle Crazy Salt on diced cucumbers and let drain in a strainer over a bowl while you layer the salad.

In a glass bowl, put the spinach in the bottom, scatter the garbanzo beans and all the marinade next.  Next do a layer of the roasted red peppers, then chicken and sprinkle with basil and a little Crtazy Salt. 

Next do an even layer of the artichokes, cutting to bite-size, if necessary.  Sprinkle with red pepper flakes.  Scatter with the kalamata olives - be SURE you get all the pits out!  Next crumble the feta over all.

Now drain the cucumbers well, pressing them against the sides of the strainer.  Mix the cukes and the tomatoes, sprinkle with a little Crazy Salt, pour the reserved artichoke liquid over all, mix and scatter the mixture over the salad.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until serving time.

The juices and marinades form the dressing.  Serve with tongs, digging down deep through the layers to get a little of everything in every serving.  Nice with some pita!

Jalapeno Beer-Brined Chicken Under a Brick

  • 1 whole frying chicken, cut into 2 leg quarters and 2 breast quarters - or buy them cut that way already or use 8 pieces of your favorite parts, but they MUST BE BONE-IN AND SKIN ON!!!!
  • 1 cup apple juice
  • 12 ounces beer, Use a gluten-free beer to make this gluten-free
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon granulated garlic
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce, be sure to use a wheat-free soy sauce or wheat-free tamari (that's what I use) to make this gluten-free
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 3 tablespoons dried jalapeno, Penzey's carries this - if you can't find it, use 2 fresh jalapenos, seeded and sliced
  • lime wedges (optional, but nice)

In a zip top gallon bag, mix the marinade ingredients.  Add the chicken, squeeze out all the air, seal tightly and marinate in the fridge overnight.

Wrap 2 clean, new bricks in aluminum foil... make it nice and neat.  Set aside next to the grill.  (You may want to wrap an extra brick or two just in case...better to have them ready if you need them than to have to find and wrap a couple at the last minute, you know?)

The next day, preheat the grill on just one side.  Leave the other burner off since we're grilling over indirect heat..  Remove the chicken from the marinade.  Salt the chicken liberally on both sides.

Lay the chicken skin side down on the grill, NOT over the flames.  This is indirect grilling.  Lay a wrapped brick on top of the chicken, arranging chicken so the bricks cover all the chicken.

The chicken will take 1 1/2 - 2 hours to grill.  Turn the chicken over 1/3 of the way through and again about 1/2 an hour before the chicken is done. 

That's it!  If you want to squeeze a little fresh lime over to serve, go ahead!  

NOTE:   The grilling technique was derived from the spatchcocked chicken recipe that was posted earlier.  For reference - OR for another great grilled chicken recipe - here's the link:


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 large eggplants, peeled and cubed
  • 2 green peppers, seeded, sliced thinly & cut into 2" pieces
  • 3 small zucchini, sliced thin
  • 6 large red ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded & chopped
  • salt and pepper
  • a good handful of fresh basil, chopped finely
  • seasoned salt, Crazy salt, of course

Heat oil in a large electric skillet and saute onion and garlic until soft.  Add green peppers, stir well and cook 5 minutes. 

Add eggplant and cook until soft.  Add rest of ingredients.  Cook covered about 45 minutes or until nicely melded.

NOTE: This makes a lot!  Make the whole recipe so you have lots leftover to freeze and to make PIZZA!  


Ratatouille Pizza

  • leftover ratatouille
  • store-bought pizza crust
  • feta cheese
Spread the ratatouille on the crust and crumble feta over the top.  Bake according to the pizza crust directions.
Some "recipe" huh?  Enjoy!

 3 Cheese Hot Sausage & Peppers Twice Baked Potatoes

  • 4 large baked potatoes, slice the tops off & scoop out the potato into a bowl leaving a sturdy shell for stuffing

  • 1 Italian sausage link, cooked leftover - diced small
  • 1/4 cup peppers and onions, leftover - diced small
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 3 tablespoons parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • red pepper flakes, to taste - optional
  • 3 tablespoons ricotta cheese
  • 6 slices provolone cheese, smoked if you can find it, regular otherwise -  4 slices diced small and 2 slices cut in half and reserved

Use a fork to scoop out the potatoes, scraping to fluff as you go, into a bowl.
Break up the potato well and fluff again.  Add all the ingredients (except the 2 slices of provolone that have been cut in half) and mix well.
Pile the mixture into the potato shells and mound high.  Top each with half a slice of provolone and put into a shallow casserole dish.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Bake 15-20 minutes or until the cheese is melted and golden. 

NOTE:  For a gluten-free version, be sure to use GF rolls or bread to make your sandwich! 

Grilled Pina Coladas

  • 1 fresh pineapple, outside removed, cored and cut into 3/4 - 1" slices
  • 2 bananas, LEAVE PEELS ON, cut lengthwise in half - leaving the peels on makes it MUCH easier to handle on the grill!
  • 1 cup coconut flakes
  • 1 cup caramel topping, good quality
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 cup rum, Meyers dark rum, spiced rum, whatever kind you prefer
  • 4 scoops coconut ice cream, Talenti makes a great coconut ice cream, Hagen Daasz makes a pineapple coconut that would be nice, too - or use vanilla if you can't find either one 
  • whipped cream

Melt together caramel topping, butter and rum in a small saucepan until well combined.  Set aside.
Grill bananas cut side down while grilling pineapple slices on both sides until caramelized.  (If you wish, you can dust them with a little brown sugar before grilling.)  When fruits are nicely caramelized, but still firm, remove from grill.  Cut the grilled bananas in half crosswise and peel them carefully. 
On a pretty plate, place a slice of pineapple, scoop ice cream into center of the pineapple ring, place 2 banana quarters decoratively along sides of ice cream, drizzle with caramel, sprinkle with  coconut and adorn with a cloud of whipped cream.  AWESOME!

Bacon Roasted Green Bean Salad 
with Gorgonzola & Maple Balsamic Vinaigrette

  • 1 pound green beans, fresh, end snapped off and broken into 2 1/2" pieces
  • 8 larqe garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
  • 4 slices bacon, thick sliced, cut across into 1/2" lardons, cooked halfway done
  • 1/4 cup sunflower kernals
  • olive oil spray - I put my own into a Misto spray bottle - love it!
  • freshly ground black pepper

  • 1/4 cup gorgonzola cheese, crumbled

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup, the REAL stuff, you know I prefer grade B for more flavor!
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard, I like Coleman's
  • freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 450.  Scatter beans across a baking sheet with a rim.  Then evenly scatter the garlic and sunflower kernels and last, the bacon.  Spray lightly with olive oil and sprinkle with pepper. 
Roast in oven for 15-20 minutes until the bacon is crisp and the green beans are done, but not limp.  Remove from oven and cool.
While the beans are cooling, mix the olive oil, balsamic, maple syrup, mustard and pepper with a whisk until emulsified. 
Pour the vinaigrette over the beans, toss with gorgonzola and serve at room temperature.

Mango Tango Turkey Burgers

  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 2 tablespoons red bell pepper, diced fine
  • 2 tablespoons green bell pepper, diced fine
  • 2 tablespoons purple onion, diced fine
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon siracha
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 mango, chopped fine, use a Champagne mango - those small yellow ones that are cashew shaped

Before grilling...look at the mango!

Mix all together lightly and make into 4 patties.
Grill in a grill basket...they're soft so this way there won't be any accidental bits falling through the grates.  You can pan fry them, too.  (The "before" picture doesn't look like the patties are in a basket, but they are.  I took the pic before closing it up.)
Serve with or without buns.  It's nice to grill some of that onion in slabs and grill some mango, too...delicious on top of the burger!  Avocado would be a good addition, too.

Sweet Corn and Mango Salsa

  • 1 mango, small yellow, champagne type
  • 2 leftover cooked ears of corn, kernels cut off cob
  • 1/2 small red onion, diced small
  • 2 tablespoons red bell pepper, diced small
  • 1 jalapeno, ribs & seeds removed, minced
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin

Combine all ingredients.  Serve!

Great as a dip with tortilla chips, on grilled meats or on fish or chicken tacos!  

Peach & Ginger Meringue Pie

  • 7 ounces gingersnap cookies, Pamela's gluten-free Ginger Mini Snaps or regular gingersnaps if you don't have a gluten issue
  • 1/3 cup pecans
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted

  • 3 tablespoons tapioca
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon crystallized ginger, chopped fine
  • 1 tablespoon butter, cubed
  • 4 cups peaches, peeled and sliced
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice

  • 6 egg whites
  • 12 tablespoons sugar

Put the gingersnaps, pecan halves and melted butter into a food processor; pulse until the cookies are ground, the nuts are fine and it all comes together.  Dump into a 9" pie plate and press down firmly into the bottom and up the sides.  Bake at 325 for 10 minutes.  Remove.

Mix the peaches, tapioca, sugar, salt, chopped crystallized ginger, butter and lemon juice well.  Pour into crust.  Bake at 450 for 15 minutes and then reduce the heat to 350 and bake the pie for another 20 minutes. 

Just before the pie is done, make the meringue.  Beat the whites until foamy, then gradually add sugar and beat until it holds stiff peaks.  Don't overbeat until it's dry, though. 

When the timer goes off for the pie, take it out, mound the meringue on top and spread, being SURE the meringue touches the crust all the way around.  (This keeps the meringue from shrinking back and exposing the filling.)  Create pretty peaks with the back of a spoon.

Bake the meringue covered pie at 400 degrees for about 15 minutes until the meringue is browned and beautiful!

Smoked Pineapple Game Hens (aka Mini-Can Mini-Chickens)

  • 1/4 cup tamari soy sauce, wheat free to make this GF
  • 1/4 cup hot sauce, Frank's Red Hot Sweet Chile Sauce (this is new, look for it on your grocery store shelf by the regular Frank's)
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 2 cans pineapple juice, 1 single serving size can - save the cans!

  • 2 cornish game hens, rinsed & patted dry

  • 2 tablespoons hot sauce, Frank's Red Hot Sweet Chile Sauce
  • 3 tablespoons pineapple juice
  • 2 tablespoons pineapple preserves

  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons tamari - wheat free to make this GF
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic

Marinade:  In a gallon sized zip top bag, mix the tamari, Frank's, granulated garlic and 1 can of pineapple juice - be sure you use the single serving size.  Set the can aside to use later.  Put the game hens in the bag with the marinade, squeeze out all the air and seal tightly.  Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight if you have the time.
At this point, remove the paper labels from the pineapple juice cans and wash well. Set aside until you need them.
If you want to smoke the game hens on the grill, start soaking applewood chips an hour before you plan to start cooking them. 
When you're ready to grill, remove the hens from the marinade and pat them dry.  Set aside. 
Baste:  Mix up 2 T. Frank's Red Hot Sweet Chile Sauce, 3 T. pineapple juice, 2 T. pineapple preserves.  Set aside.
Now it's time to get the hens ready.  Pour HALF the juice in one can into the other can so both cans have equal amounts of liquid.  Add 1/2  t. cayenne pepper to each can, then add 1 T. tamari to each can and last 1/2  t. granulated garlic to each can.  Swish the cans carefully to mix, being careful not to spill them.  Place a game hen over each juice can just like you would with a beer can chicken and put them on the hot grill.  (See the picture above.)  Arrange those little legs like a tripod to keep them upright!  

If you're smoking, put the soaked applewood chips into a smoker box under the grates - if you don't have a smoker box, wrap them in several layers of foil securely and cut a couple of 1/2" slits into the top of the foil packet.  

Arrange the hens carefully on the grill, tripod style, so they don't tip over.  Grill over medium low heat until the hens are cooked through.and beautifully browned , basting every 10 minutes during the last half hour of cooking. 

To Serve:   VERY CAREFULLY remove the cans from the hens.  Keep them upright at all times to the hot liquid doesn't spill and burn you!  Let the hens rest before serving  Cut each in half along the breastbone and back to serve.  

SoCal Chicken Salad with Avocao & Cilantro

  • 2 chicken breast halves, cooked, leftover is perfect
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 small avocado, ripe and buttery, 1/2 cubed, 1/2 smashed
  • 1/2 lime, juice - make sure it's a big juicy lime!
  • 3 tablespoons cilantro, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons red onion, cut into thin, short slivers
  • Kosher salt, to taste

Shred the chicken coarsely in a large bowl.  Add the rest of the ingredients mixing until well blended, but the avocado cubes still retain some shape.
Mound onto a plate with tomatoes and whatever else you'd like or mound it onto buns to make a great sandwich.

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad 
with Spinach & Garbanzo Beans

  • 1 cup quinoa, buy the pre-rinsed kind!
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 36 cherry or grape tomatoes (red, yellow, both or whatever color(s) strike your fancy at the store or farmers market), halved lengthwise
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced thinly & cut into 1/2" pieces
  • 1/2 bag baby spinach (that's a 5 ounce bag) torn into pieces
  • 16 ounces garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 6 sprigs basil, fresh, remove leaves and julienne
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano

  • 2 large lemons, juiced
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a medium sized saucepan, combine the quinoa, water & salt & bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat, cover and cook for 10 minutes.  Stir and let cool.

When the quinoa is cool, add the tomatoes through the oregano and give it a good mix.  Set aside.

Whisk the lemon juice, olive oil salt & pepper until the vinaigrette is emulsified.  Pour the vinaigrette over the quinoa mixture and transfer to a serving bowl.  Serve at room temperature or chilled.

NOTE:  This is just as good served warmed, so don't limit it to warm weather months.  Heat it up and serve it as a side dish to grilled meats or chicken when it's chilly outside.  Or just serve it by's really high in protein!

Hash Brown & Sweet Italian Sausage Breakfast Pizza

  • 1 package hash browns, frozen, the shredded kind - 30 oz. size, thawed
  • 1/3 cup parmesan cheese, grated
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • 1/2 pound Italian sausage links, sweet or hot, cooked & sliced diagonally
  • 1/2 package shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 3 slices provolone cheese, cut in half, I like the snoked provolone
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, julienned
  • 4 eggs, fried (optional)

Mix the thawed hash brown, parm & olive oil thoroughly.  Pat out and press down firmly onto a 13" round pizza pan that has been sprayed with olive oil. Season with salt & pepper & spray with olive oil.  (I really like my Misto oil sprayer - you can control the quality of the oil you use!)  One other note, this potatoes may seem like too much for one pan - it isn't.  They cook down a LOT!
Pre heat the oven to 425.  Bake the crust until browned and crisp on the bottom - about 30 minutes more or less depending on your oven.  Remove the crust, heat the broiler and finish the crust under the broiler being careful just to brown it, not burn it.  Remove and set the oven to 425 again.
Sprinkle the mozz evenly over the crust, evenly place the provolone around the pizza in spokes, top with the sausage slices, scatter the tomato and finally the basil. 
Bake at 425 until the cheese is melted.  

Black & Gold Salsa

  • 1 medium pineapple, peeled and cored, cut into chunks
  • 1 large banana pepper, seeded and chunked - a nice yellow one
  • 1 jalapeno, ribs & seeds removed ( or not, if you want it hotter)
  • 1 small onion, peeled, chunked
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 large ear of corn, leftover, kernels removed (if you don't have a leftover ear of corn, use canned or frozen - 3/4 C or so)
  • 2 teaspoons granulated garlic
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 teaspoons hot sauce, I used Cholula lime, but use your fave

Using a food processor, chop the pineapple coarsely, don't puree it!  Keep some good texture to it.  Remove to a mixing bowl.  Process the jalapeno, but make that nice and fine - but not pureed by ANY means; add to bowl.  Do the same with the onion and banana pepper, achieving a dice somewhere between the pineapple and the jalapeno sizes and add that to the mixing bowl, too.

Add everything else into the mixing bowl and stir until well-blended.  That's it!

Serve with tortilla chips.

Captain's Brined Peachy Pork Chops
 - on the smoker or the grill

  • 4 bone-in pork center rib chop, 3/4"-1" thick

  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1 peach, nice & ripe, peeled & pitted
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1/2 cup rum, Captain Morgan or other spiced rum
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped fine
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard, you know I like Colmans!
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt

  • 1 peach, peeled and pitted, diced
  • 1/4 red onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons rum, Captain Morgan or other spiced rum
  • pinch ginger
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • pinch dry mustard, Colmans
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Combine all the brine ingredients, apple cider through Colmans, in a zip top bag & mix well.  Add the pork chops to the bag, squeeze out all the air, seal & refrigerate overnight or at least 4 hours.  Bring to room temp before putting on the smoker or the grill.
If you're smoking these beauties, prepare the smoker as you normally would with applewood chips.  Smoke the chops until cooked through, replenishing chips as necessary. Remove to plate. 

If you're grilling them, grill as you normally would on both sides.
While the chops are smoking, prepare the chutney.  In a small saucepan, melt butter and saute the onion and garlic gently.  Add the peach and cook down just a little, then add the rest of the ingredients.  Cook until warmed through well, but the peaches still have substance.  Serve over the pork chops.

 Brunch Burger with BACON Marmalade!

Makes 4
  • 1/4 cup orange marmalade
  • 3 strips bacon, thick sliced, cooked crisp, chopped up finely in the food processor
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced

  • 1/2 pound sausage meat, sage kind
  • 1/2 pound ground chicken
  • 1 orange, zested first and then juiced
  • 1/2 medium onion, very finely minced
  • freshly ground black pepper, lots

  • 2 English muffins, toasted (gluten-free muffins to make this GF)
  • 4 slices provolone cheese
  • 4 eggs, fried sunnyside up or how you like them best

Marmalade:  Melt the orange marmalade in a small pot.  When smooth, add the rest of the ingredients and let come to room temp.  Can be made ahead and refrigerated.
Burgers:  Let the sausage and the ground chicken come almost to room temperature before starting makes them easier to mix together thoroughly.  In a large bowl, mix the sausage & chicken well.  Add the orange zest and juice, the onion and the black pepper and mix well again.  Form into 4 patties.
Heat a skillet and add a little butter.  Fry the patties on both sides, cooking through completely.  You don't want any raw chicken or sausage in the middle!
Assembly:  Put an English muffin half on a plate.  Top with the burger, a slice of cheese, a fried egg and drizzle bacon marmalade over the top of everything. 

Greek Potatoes

  • 4 baking potatoes, washed, dried, unpeeled & sliced
  • 1 small zucchini, sliced
  • 1 small yellow squash, sliced
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • salt (Crazy Salt) to taste
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 red ripe tomatoes, sliced (can use diced, canned tomatoes if necessary in winter)
  • 4 ounces feta cheese
  • oregano

Mix potatoes and the rest of the veggies in a large bowl. Toss with zest, juice, Crazy salt, oregano, pepper and olive oil. 

Lightly oil a 9 x 13 baking dish. Pour the potato mixture into the dish and top with tomatoes and cheese. Sprinkle again with oregano and drizzle with a touch more olive oil.  

Cover loosely with foil and bake at 375 for 1 hour.  Uncover and continue baking until and bubbly and nicely melded together.  If the cheese starts to brown, cover with the foil again - loosely.

Serves 4-6 

Eggs & Garlic Spinach in Portobellos with Harissa Cream

Serves 2

  • 2 portobello mushroom, remove stem and clean out all the gills 
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, just to coat the pan 
  • 3/4 bag spinach, chopped
  • 1/2 small onion, diced small
  • 1 clove garlic, minced - 2 or 3 cloves if you like your spinach good and garlicky!  (I do!)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 eggs

  • 2 tablespoons harissa, store bought
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream

Preheat oven to 350.  Oil the bottom of a small, shallow casserole dish - just big enough to hold the mushrooms.
In a skillet, heat the oil and saute the onion & garlic until translucent.  Add the spinach and stir until the spinach wilts.  Season with salt & pepper, remove from heat.
Mound the spinach mixture evenly between both mushrooms.  With a spoon, press the spinach into the curve of the mushroom sides making a nest for the egg and letting it peek prettily around all the edges.  Break an egg into each of the mushrooms.
Put the filled mushrooms into the casserole dish and put about 1/2" of water into the bottom of the dish - be careful not to get any water into the mushrooms.
Bake until the eggs are set and how you like them, checking occasionally.  (The time will vary depending upon how cold the mushrooms are - cold mushrooms means a longer baking time.)
While the eggs are baking, mix the harissa & cream until nicely incorporated.
Remove mushrooms from oven and plate.  Drizzle the harissa cream over and around the eggs.  Gives a beautiful color contrast and a nice little zip!

Bacon Roasted Jalapeno Garlic & Lime Turkey Breast

  • 2 jalapenos, stem end removed, leave in seeds & ribs for more heat, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 small onion, chunked
  • 4 large garlic cloves, peeled and stem end cut off
  • 2 limes, zest only (save the juice for cocktails!)
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • fresh ground black pepper, lots!

  • 1 turkey breast, with ribs and skin
  • 1/2 pound bacon

Prepare jalapeno butter:  In a food processor, whirl onion & jalapeno.  While the processor is running, drop the garlic cloves down the chute & continue processing until everything is minced.  Transfer to a small bowl & add the salt, pepper, zest & butter.  Work the butter into the rest until everything is incorporated into an even mixture.
Run your hand gently between the flesh and the skin of the turkey breast, creating a nice pocket on each side, but don't break the connective tissue that runs down the center from neck to butt end - leaving that in place helps keep the butter in place.  

Put half the butter mixture into each side.  From the OUTSIDE, using your hands, rub and distribute the butter mixture all over the turkey breast on both sides.  (It's easier to do this from the outside!)  Do this the morning you're going to roast the turkey breast or even the night before!  Refrigerate.
Put a roast rack (I like the V-shape type) into a roasting pan, settle the turkey breast into the rack skin side up.  Pepper the outside of the turkey breast well and cover the skin with bacon slices.

Preheat oven to 400 and roast until the turkey skin is browned and golden under the bacon and the turkey registers 165 degrees.  Remove from the oven & let rest for 15-20 minutes before slicing.

 Bavarian Sauerkraut Salad or Relish

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 1 16 ounce can sauerkraut, Bavarian style (has caraway seeds)
  • 3/4 cup celery, chopped fine
  • 1/4 cup green pepper, chopped fine
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped fine
  • 1/4 cup pimiento, chopped fine

In a small pot, stir together sugar and vinegar.  Bring to a boil and stir until the sugar is dissolved.  (Watch this carefully, it doesn't take long.  You don't want smoking, black sugar and vinegar caramel.  Don't ask how I know that.) Remove from heat.  Cool.

Mix the sugar/vinegar syrup into the rest of the ingredients and refrigerate overnight or just for an hour if that's all you have.  Good as salad or as relish for German sausages.  Double the recipe if you're going to serve it as a salad.

NOTE:  I originally enjoyed this sweet & sour treat in the late 80's at a covered dish dinner.  A neighbor brought it, everyone loved it!  She said it was a "secret" recipe and no, she wouldn't divulge the secret.  Her wonderful daughter, Merry, shared it with every one of us the next day.  Turns out, it wasn't so secret after all.  It's the same recipe that apparently everyone's all over the place.  So I'm sharing this not-so-secret secret recipe with all of YOU. 

(I did change it up a little, though.  The original recipe just added the sugar and vinegar to the rest of the ingredients without cooking - I like to be sure the sugar dissolves before adding to the veggies.  You can do it either way you like!  

One more thing...I thought I had a green pepper.  I didn't.  I DID have a poblano pepper...hey, it was green!  I liked it even better!  The mild heat of a poblano was just right - I think a jalapeno would be too much.)

Chili Dusted Duck Fat Sweet Potato Chips 
with Avocado Scrambled Eggs

  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin powder

  • 4 ounces sour cream, or use Fage Greek yogurt - 0% fat is what I used
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro, minced
  • 1 teaspoon tabasco sauce, the GREEN kind!
  • Kosher salt, to taste

  • duck fat
  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 avocado, cubed
  • 1/4 medium jalapeno, cut into 1/2" strips and then across into slivers
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Chili Salt:  Combine and set aside.

Crema: Combine and set aside.

Chips:  In a medium pot, heat 3" worth of duck fat to 375 degrees.  While the fat is heating (watch carefully!), using a vegetable peeler (I like my nice swivel blade one that's about 3-4" wide), cut thin sliced of the peeled sweet potato and let them sit until the fat is hot enough.  When the fat is at temp, fry the sliced potatoes several at a time - maybe 12 or so - until they nearly stop bubbling.  Remove with a spider or slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate.  They won't seem crisp, but will crisp up in seconds once they're out of the oil. Don't let them brown or they will be overdone.  When they're all done, keep them warm in the oven.

Eggs:  Melt the butter in a skillet.  In a bowl, scramble the eggs, water, jalapeno and salt with a whisk.  Pour the eggs into the skillet and gently move them with a spoon until they start to set a little.  At that point, add the avocado cubes and continue until the eggs are just how you like them.  I like mine slightly wet and not overcooked.

Assembly:  Mound the chips on a serving plate, sprinkle with the chile salt, mound the eggs in the center and drizzle with the crema.  Garnish if you wish.

NOTE TO SELF:  Make the chile salt and the crema the night before to make Sunday morning just a little more relaxing. 

Fresh Tomato Basil Summer Sauce

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 6 onions, chopped fine in the food processor
  • 4 cloves garlic, large, minced
  • 6 pounds fresh tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped fine in the food processor
  • 3/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 tablespoon hot pepper flakes
Heat oil in a large saute pan (I like to use my large electric skillet - BIG to hold lots of sauce and a large surface to evaporate liquid quickly). Saute onion and garlic until soft.  Add tomatoes and rest of ingredients.  Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer until liquid has evaporated.
Ladle over pasta and serve with freshly grated parmesan.
I make the sauce in a large quantity - sometimes several batches - and freeze it for the winter.  Quart bags that have a white area on the front to write what's inside and the date are just the thing to freeze the sauce in.  

NOTE:  If you haven't heard (read) me say this before, imported Italian BiAglut is by far the best gluten-free pasta on the market.  More expensive than most, but WORTH IT! I get it locally at Soergel's in Wexford, PA. 

Spicy & Crispy
Balsamic, Maple & Stoneground Mustard Wings

  • 12 chicken wings, that's 6 drummies and 6 flats

  • 1/4 cup stoneground mustard
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup, the REAL stuff!  Grade B - has deeper, richer flavor
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
  • 3/4 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a preheated 450 degree oven, bake wings on a large rimmed cookie sheet - about 20-25 minutes.  Turn over & bake another 20 minutes or so until the wings are browned and crispy, but not dried out.  Remove.

While the wings are baking, mix all the sauce ingredients well in a large heat-proof bowl.  Set aside.

When the wings are done, stir the sauce again and put the wings into the bowl.  Stir well until the wings are coated completely.  Move the wings to a serving plate and pour the sauce left in the bowl over top.

 Crispy, Crunchy & Spicy Gluten-Free Fried Chicken

  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 large jalapeno pepper, stem removed, chopped - leave in seeds and ribs
  • 1/2 cup Tabasco sauce, the Buffalo hot sauce, if you can't find it, use Frank's
  • 2 tablespoons hot pepper, Hot Shot (McCormick makes this...if you can't find it, use a mix of 3/4 freshly ground black pepper and 1/4 cayenne pepper)
  • 2 tablespoons seasoned salt, Jane's Crazy Salt (or other seasoned salt...but do yourself a favor and get Jane's!  Even Paula Deen used to use it before she created her knockoff version under her own, more expensive, brand.)
  • 2 tablespoons granulated garlic

  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup corn flour
  • 1 cup white rice flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons seasoned salt, Jane's again
  • 2 tablespoons hot pepper, Hot Shot again
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic

  • 3 chicken breast halves, with skin, bone in - cut in half
  • 3 chicken thighs, with skin, bone in

Combine all marinade ingredients and marinate chicken overnight or at least several hours.

Mix dry ingredients.  When chicken has marinated, place dry ingredients in bag, then add chicken a few pieces at a time and shake well to coat, covering completely.  Remove pieces from bag and place on rack for at least 20 minutes to set coating. 

In the meantime, put canola oil in an electric skillet about an inch up the side.  Set control to 375 degrees and bring oil to temperature.  Or use your cast iron skillet - perfect.

Carefully place each piece of chicken in skillet skin side down.  Fry on each side until golden brown.  Don't hurry it.  Fry in batches - don't crowd.  Make sure each piece has no pink next to the bone...especially with thighs. When done and cooked through, remove to paper towels and keep warm in a 250 degree oven. When all batches are done, serve!

NOTE:  If you don't like your fried chicken as spicy as this sounds, cut back on the heat by leaving out the jalapeno or cutting back on the hot sauce.  No problem.  

Smoky, Spicy Pumpkin Hummus

  • 14 ounces garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 15-oz. can of pumpkin, NOT pie filling - just canned pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle pepper, dried powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 6 tablespoons lemon juice, fresh
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/3 cup plain yogurt, non-fat Fage Greek yogurt

Process garbanzo beans in food processor until VERYfinely chopped.  

With motor running, add garlic and remaining ingredients and process until smooth.  Taste for seasoning adding additional salt and pepper if needed or more lemon juice.

NOTE:  If you like less spicy things, start with half the cayenne and half the chipotle...add a little at a time until it's just how you like it!

Spiced Apple Balsamic Smoked Pork Loin

  • 3 1/2 pound center cut pork loin roast, bone-in

  • 1 pint apple cider
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons granulated garlic
  • 2 tablespoons stoneground mustard
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt

  • 3/4 cup apple butter
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard, Colman's
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons granulated garlic
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste

The day before you intend to smoke the roast, mix the apple cider, balsamic vinegar and 2 T EACH of granulated garlic, stoneground mustard and Kosher salt in a STURDY zip lock plastic bag.  Once the marinade is mixed completely, put the roast carefully into the marinade, squeeze out all the air and seal.  Place the bagged roast into a deep bowl and refrigerate. (The bowl is to keep any leaking marinade from making a mess in your fridge.)

Early the next day start your smoker using soaked applewood chips. 

Once you've started the smoker, make the glaze mixing the apple butter, Colman's mustard, granulated garlic, balsamic vinegar 1/2 t. each of cinnamon, ginger and cayenne, the salt & pepper.  Mix well.  Slather the glaze all over the roast thickly.  You'll have some glaze left - save that to apply part way through the smoking if you wish.

Smoke, replenishing charcoal and soaked wood chips as necessary until done.  The roast took about 6 hours for ours to smoke - yours may take more or less time depending on the temp of your smoker, the size of your roast, etc.- so plan accordingly to get the meat on the table in time for dinner!  Remove the roast to a platter and let rest for 20 minutes before carving.

NOTE:  If you don't own a smoker or just don't feel like doing it outside, you can roast this in the oven as you would normally - no smoke flavor, but still delish.  

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and roast the pork for 30 minutes.  Reduce the temp to 350 degrees and continue roasting until tender and cooked through the way you like your pork.

Four Cheese 16-Layer Lasagna Melanzane

  • 8 lasagna noodles, Cooked just halfway, drained (use gluten-free lasagna noodles to make this gluten-free - I used Boles)

  • 4 cups tomato sauce, homemade summer sauce or Barilla spicy basil pasta sauce (or your own fave sauce, but be sure it's thick and chunky)
  • 12 ounces ricotta cheese, part skim milk
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • 1/2 cup cream, or buttermilk (that's what I a nice tang)
  • 2 tablespoons granulated garlic, divided
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 8 ounces mozzarella cheese, part skim milk, sliced
  • 8 ounces provolone cheese slices, the good smoky provolone!
  • 1 large eggplant, top & bottom removed, sliced in half lengthwise, sliced across into thin slices (I like to leave the skin on for gorgeous color!)

Mix the ricotta, parm, 1 T. granulated garlic, salt & pepper and cream (or buttermilk) to taste together well.  Set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In a large, deep lasagna pan, spoon just enough sauce to cover the bottom.  Make a layer of 3 noodles across using part of another noodle to patch the end if necessary. 

Continue the layers like this:  1/3 ricotta, sprinkle with granulated garlic, s&p, 1/2 the slices of mozzarella, 1/2 the eggplant slices, 1/3 ricotta sprinkled with granulated garlic, s&p, the other 1/2 of mozzarella, a layer of sauce, a layer of noodles the same as the 1st, the last 1/3 of the ricotta sprinkled with granulated garlic, s&p, the last 1/2 of the mozzarella, a layer of sauce, the last of the eggplant, the last of the sauce and finally, cover the top with the provolone.  Whew!

Cover the lasagna loosely with foil and bake for 1 1/2 hours covered.  Remove foil and continue baking another 20-30 minutes until browned and bubbly.

Let the lasagna rest 15-20 minutes before cutting into squares.

Gorgonzola Roasted Garlic Mashed Potatoes

  • 3 pounds russet potatoes, peel, cut into size-sized chunks
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup milk, more or less, depending upon how dry your potatoes are (buttermilk is really good for a nice tart zing!)
  • 1 head garlic, roasted, cooled and garlic pulp squeezed out
  • 3 ounces gorgonzola cheese, crumbled & extra to sprinkle on each serving
  • salt and pepper, to taste

Put potato chunks into a pot of cold water - just to cover.  Bring to boil and reduce heat to simmer.  Remove from heat & drain immediately when a knife pierces the potato easily.
Add butter and mash with a potato masher - these aren't light fluffy potatoes, they're hearty.  Add the milk - a little less than called for and if the potatoes are thick, add more.  If the potatoes are still too thick add more milk until a nice consistency, but not too thin.  Add the rest of the ingredients except for cheese.  Mix well.  Add gorgonzola, adjust seasonings and serve.  Garnish with a little more gorgonzola before serving.

To Roast Garlic:  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Cut carefully across the top of a WHOLE head of garlic just exposing the very top of the inside cloves - do NOT separate the cloves.  Place the head of garlic on a double square of aluminum foil.  Drizzle with a little olive oil and seal up the foil around the garlic tightly.  Roast until the garlic is soft and golden - 45 minutes to an hour.  Don't burn it, just roast until soft.  Remove from oven and cool.  Make several heads at once, squeeze out the soft pulp and freeze in small snack size freezer bags.  Don't put too much in a bag so you can spread it out about 1/4" thick so once it's frozen you can snap off pieces of the frozen garlic pulp as needed.  No need to thaw!

Apple Baked Navy Beans With Smoked Pork

  • 1 pound dried navy beans, soaked overnight according to package directions

  • 1/2 large onion, diced small
  • 1 1/2 cups apple cider, the good farm fresh stuff!
  • 1/3 cup apple butter
  • 1/3 cup molasses, unsulphured
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 3 tablespoons yellow mustard
  • 1 cup pork, leftover smoked or roasted pork (or ham)
  • 1 large apple, peeled, cored and diced

Drain beans and mix with the remaining ingredients.  Pour into a deep casserole dish or a bean pot with a lid, if you have one.  If you don't have a lid, cover the dish with aluminum foil.

Bake in a 325 degree preheated oven for about 3 hours (more or less) until the beans are tender and most of the liquid is absorbed, but not dry.  Moisten, if necessary, while they're baking with a little apple cider.     

German Potato Pancakes

  • 6 medium baking potatoes, leave the skins on!
  • 1/2 small onion
  • 3 slices bacon, cooked crisp
  • 3 tablespoons flour, gluten-free to make these GF (Jules' is my fave!)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • fresh ground black pepper, to taste (I like lots!)

  • oil

Fit your food processor with a shredding disk.  Feed the potatoes through the tube.  Next feed the onion through, then the bacon.  Everything goes through the processor and into the processor shredding or chopping at all!  Transfer the contents into a large bowl.

Add the flour and the egg, season with salt and pepper.  Mix well and thoroughly.

Heat a scant amount of oil for each batch in a large skillet - I use a large, griddle-sized electric skillet.  Using an ice cream scooper, make mounds and space them out to allow them to spread.  Press each mound down with a spatula and flatten them out well.  Brown well on one side, flip and brown well on the other.  

As each batch is done, remove to a paper towel covered plate and keep them warm in the oven until they're all done.

Serve with sour cream or applesauce.  Or load them up like baked potatoes with sour cream, shredded cheddar, bacon bits and green onions. 

NOTE:  This makes approximately eighteen 4-5" pancakes.  

The amount of oil you use to fry them determines how many calories are in each.  Not including the oil, they're only 68 calories each.  It's up to you whether you use Pam & keep the calories low or use a little oil for a few more calories. 

 Chipotle Apple & Bacon Smoked Meatloaf

  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef, 80/20
  • 3 slices bacon, thick sliced, cut into 1/2" pieces
  • 1 1/2 large onions, chunked
  • 2 apples, peeled, cored & cut into 1/2" dice
  • 4 cloves garlic, BIG ones
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh whole grain bread made into fine crumbs, - use gluten-free bread to make this GF
  • 1/2 tablespoon Kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper, LOTS
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle chili pepper (Penzey's carries this and even McCormick does now, too!)

  • 1 slice bacon, thin slice, cut in half across

While the food processor is running, drop the garlic cloves down the tube and process until they're fine.  Add the onions and process until fine.  Set aside.

Saute the bacon until it releases most of the fat.  Add the onions & garlic and the apple and cook until the onion is translucent.  Remove from heat and let cool.

Mix the meats, eggs, breadcrumbs, salt & pepper and chipotle pepper.  Mix lightly, but well.  Add the apple mixture and again mix lightly, but well.  Shape into two loaves.   (Making two smaller loaves lets them cook through more easily and gets more smoke flavor deep into the meat.  The other advantage is you can easily put one in the freezer to enjoy when it's too cold out to smoke!)  Stretch a piece of bacon of the top of each loaf to make it pretty and tell you what's inside.   

Prepare the smoker, using applewood chips, the way you normally would.  Place aluminum foil over the grate and poke a few holes through it.  Gently settle the meatloaves onto the foil.  Cover and smoke.  Maintain the temp around 225-250 degrees and add soaked applewood chips as necessary.  It took ours about 5 hours.  How long it takes will depend on the size of the loaves and the temperature so check along the way.

When done, remove to a platter and let sit for 20 minutes before slicing. 

Be sure to make some great sandwiches with the leftovers!

 Pumpkin Spice Truffle Cookies

  • 12 ounces chocolate chips, I like Ghiradelli dark chocolate chips - more chocolate-y, less waxy than Nestles
  • 3 egg whites
  • 2 cups confectioner's sugar, divided
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 2 tablespoon espresso powder, instant
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

  • 24 Hershey kisses, pumpkin spice variety - find these early before the Halloween season starts because they're hard to find later!

  • 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
  • 1 teaspoon espresso powder, instant
  • 1 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Measure out 1 cup of the chocolate chips and set the rest aside.  Melt the chips in a double boiler over simmering water.  Set aside to cool slightly while you do the rest.

Using a mixer, beat the egg whites to soft peaks.  At slow speed, add 1 cup of the confectioner's sugar and mix until well-incorporated.  Beat at high speed until thick.  

Lower the speed to low again and add another cup of confectioner's sugar, cocoa powder, espresso powder, pumpkin pie spice and Kosher salt.  When these ingredients are well incorporated, raise the mixer speed to medium and beat until thick again.  

Add the melted chocolate chips and continue beating at medium speed until all the ingredients are mixed well and become a dough.  Finally, add the reserved chips and gently, but thoroughly, incorporate them into the dough.

Meanwhile, stir a teaspoon of espresso powder and 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice together with 1/2 cup confectioner's sugar in a small bowl until well mixed.  Set Aside.

Using a large (1 tablespoon) cookie baller, scoop the dough into 24 balls.  Roll each until smooth and immediately roll in the sugar/espresso powder/pumpkin pie spice mixture.  

Set 12 balls on each cookie sheet, spaced evenly, and bake for 15 minutes.  Remove from oven and immediately sink a pumpkin spice Hershey's kiss into the center of each cookie.  Set the sheets on cooling racks and let the cool completely.  Do not store these until the Hersey's kiss is completely cooled and SET again.  You don't want any smooshed kisses! (That's "smooshed" not smooched...everybody likes smooches!)

Store in an airtight tin with wax paper or plastic wrap between each layer so the powdery cookies don't make the kisses powdery too.  Keep your kisses clean!

NOTE:  These are naturally gluten-free!

 Smoky Poblano & Habenero 3-Cheese Macaroni

  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch - check to be sure it's gluten-free to make this GF
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 2 cups milk, I use skim, use what you like...there's so much cheese, it doesn't make a difference

  • 4 cups smoked gouda cheese, shredded
  • 2 cups Cabot Hot Habanero Cheddar or a milder pepperjack, if you prefer
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni, cooked al dente, gluten-free to make this GF (the best is BiAglut)
  • 3 large poblano peppers, blackened, peeled, seeds removed, sliced
  • 1 tomato, seeds squeezed out & diced
  • 1/4 teaspoon granulated garlic

  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a saucepan, melt the butter and gradually add the cornstarch while whisking.  When smooth, add salt & pepper.  Gradually add milk, whisking constantly until the mixture thickens.  Add the cheeses slowly, whisking constantly.  

When the sauce is almost smooth (completely smooth isn't necessary), remove from heat and add to the cooked pasta.  Stir until thoroughly combined.  Set aside.

Butter the inside of a large casserole dish.  Layer half of the macaroni mixture in the bottom.  Set aside a few strips of pepper and a few pieces of tomato for garnish.  Dice the remaining poblano and scatter that and the tomatoes on top of the layer of mac & cheese.  Sprinkle with granulated garlic.  

Poblanos & tomatoes top the 1st layer of mac & cheese.

Top the veggies with the remaining mac & cheese, cover with shredded cheddar and arrange the remaining poblano strips and diced tomatoes on top.

Bake for 30-45 minutes and serve.

Dinner Plan-it 1st Birthday Capuccino Buttercream

  • 6 cups powdered sugar, sifted and divided
  • 1 1/2 cups butter, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  •  4 tablespoons milk+ extra in case you need it
  • 3 teaspoons espresso coffee, instant variety
  • 6 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon

Combine 3 cups sifted powdered sugar, butter, 4 T. milk and vanilla in large bowl.  Beat with electric mixer until smooth.  

Add espresso powder, cocoa powder and cinnamon; mix until thoroughly combined.  Add remaining powdered sugar; beat until light and fluffy, adding more milk 1 T. at a time as needed until it's a good spreading consistency.

Fit a pastry bag with a good wide tip.  Fill it 2/3 of the way up the bag with frosting and twist the top shut.  Squeeze dollops onto the top of the cooled cupcakes.  Make it pretty!  

Store in a cool place or in the fridge until ready to serve.

The recipe makes enough to generously frost 14 cupcakes.  For a cake, double the recipe.

NOTE:  Cupcakes like these were part of the cupcake display I made for Mieke & Tall Matt's wedding a few years ago.  Matthew (my grandson) is highly allergic to peanuts and tree nuts, you know my gluten issues.  So instead of bought cupcakes and a wedding cake, I was happy to make the desserts peanut, tree nut and gluten-free.  Nobody knew they were anything but delicious!  Not only that, the chef of the restaurant asked for the recipe.  He didn't get it, but you just did!

Oh...the cupcake itself?  Betty Crocker Gluten-free chocolate cake mix.  It's BETTER than regular!  Moist and rich.  Of course, I do doctor it a little.  The recipe on the box calls for 1 c. water.  I use 1/4 c. Kahlua and 3/4 c. water.  And I add 1 T. or so of espresso powder.  

   Old Fashioned Pineapple Maple Ham Loaf

Ham loaf:

  • 1 1/2 pounds meatloaf mix - combination of pork, beef and veal
  • 1 1/2 pounds ham, ground
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup freshly torn bread crumbs (I use Rudi's Multi-grain gluten-free bread to make ours GF)
  • pepper, to taste
  • 16 ounces pineapple rings in juice, not syrup, reserve juice


  •  1/4 cup reserved pineapple juice
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the meats, milk, 1/2 cup of the reserved pineapple juice, eggs, bread crumbs and pepper until well combined.  Shape into 2 loaves (cook both and wrap and freeze one for later).  Decorate tops with pineapple rings. (TIP: Put a sheet of parchment paper in the bottom of the roasting pan.   The ham loaves come easily out of the pan and cleanup is a snap!)
Bake at 350 until done (approx. 1 1/2 hours depending on your oven), basting occasionally with glaze several times during the last half hour.   Remove to a platter, let sit for 10 minutes, slice and serve. 

Butternut Chipotle Chowder with Ham

  • 1 ham bone, with lots of meat
  • 2 stalks celery, with tops & extra leaves, cut into large pieces
  • 2 onions, peeled and quartered
  • a handful of dried minced garlic - if you can't find it in the store, try Penzey's...I get mine at Costco.

  • 2 slices bacon, thick-sliced, cut across into 1/2" pieces
  • 2 large leeks, washed well and chopped (see washing method below)
  • 6 red potatoes, unpeeled, diced small
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled, seeds removed and diced small
  • 2 stalks celery, small dice
  • 2 small chipotle chile canned in adobo, minced, PLUS 2 T. adobo sauce

  • 1 cup mashed potato flakes

Put the hambone, celery and leaves, onions and dried garlic into a large soup pot and just cover with water.  Bring to a boil and immediately lower heat to a simmer.  Cover the pot and let simmer 1 1/2 - 2 hours until the ham starts to fall from the bone.  Remove bone & meat to a platter and reserve.  Take all the meat from the bone and shred.  Discard the bone. 

Then, using a spider or large slotted spoon, remove veggies.  Discard veggies.

In a large skillet, saute bacon until crisp.  Remove with a slotted spoon to a plate lined with paper towels.  Reserve bacon fat.  Add the butternut squash and saute until it begins to caramelize, but not until soft.  Remove with a slotted spoon and add to the ham stock in the soup pot.  Add the leeks and celery to skillet and continue to stir and cook until soft.  Add to the soup pot.

Add the potatoes, reserved shredded ham and the chipotles & adobo sauce to pot.  Raise heat to high and bring to a boil again.  As soon as it comes to a boil, lower the heat again to low and simmer until the potatoes are cooked through and the soup comes together.  

Add the instant mashed potato flakes to thicken and give a chowder consistency.

Serve garnished with reserved crispy bacon and a drizzle of sour cream or Greek yogurt. 

If you want, separate the squash seeds and roast them at 350 with a sprinkle of Kosher salt and a sprinkle of chipotle powder and a spray of olive oil for about 10 minutes.  Stir and roast another few minutes until crunchy. Finish your garnish with the roasted seeds.  Better than pumpkin seeds!

NOTE:  Leeks are VERY sandy and it is difficult to get all that dirt and sand from between all the layers.  Back in the 70's Graham Kerr - The Galloping Gourmet - shared his method for cleaning leeks.  Works like a charm!  

He always started his leek segment by saying, "First, you take a leek."  Love his humor!  Okay, the method.  

Trim the dried, fibrous end of the leek off.  Then wash the root end.  Starting from about 1/2" above the roots, slice the leek in half lengthwise making SURE the leaves remain attached.  Turn the leek 1/4 turn and slice lengthwise again.  Spread the leaves apart - again, making sure the leaves stay attached to the root end and wash the leek under cold running water.  Be sure to get between each of the leaves and that you are removing ALL the debris..  When you're sure it's completely clean, dry it thoroughly and proceed to chop.  It may seem like a lot of trouble, but it's simpler than it sounds here.  And the leeks are squeaky clean!

Applejack Braised Shortribs with Butternut & Brussels Sprouts

  • 2 1/2 pounds short ribs, boneless - 6 large, lean pieces (they were actually labeled as chuck shortribs)
  • 2 slices bacon, thick sliced, cut across into 1/2" pieces
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • 1 large red onion, sliced thin
  • 2 large garlic cloves, slivered

  • 1 large sprig of thyme, separated into smaller pieces
  • 1/2 cup Laird's Applejack
  • 1 1/2 cups apple cider, you know I use the farm fresh kind from the farm market
  • 1 cup red wine

  • 1 pound butternut squash, pre-cut, pre-packaged cubes - LOVE the convenience!
  • 18 Brussels sprouts, stem ends cut off, cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored and diced large

Season the ribs with Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper on all sides.  Set aside.
In large enameled cast iron Dutch oven (with a lid), saute bacon until crisp.  Remove with a slotted spoon, drain on paper towels and reserve.  Add butter to the bacon fat in the pot and melt. 
Raise the heat to high, add half the ribs to the pot and brown well on all sides. Remove to plate and add the rest of the meat - again brown well on all sides.  Remove to plate.
Add the onion and garlic to the pot and cook for a few minutes until just beginning to soften a little bit.  Add the Applejack and stir well, getting all the browned bits from the bottom of the pot.  Stir the apple cider and red wine into the liquid.

Add the meat back into the pot, nestle the thyme between the ribs and down into the liquid.  Bring to a boil, cover and immediately lower heat to simmer.  Cook for 1 1/2-2 hours until the meat is tender. 

Veggies in the pot all ready for the final simmer...and still pretty.

Add butternut squash, Brussels sprouts and apple.  Raise the heat to high and bring to a boil again and immediately lower heat to simmer.  Cover pot and continue to cook until the squash and sprouts are tender.
Serve over buttered poppyseed noodles (gluten-free to keep this GF - I really like Scharr tagliatelle) & garnish with reserved crisp bacon.

NOTE:  Poppyseed noodles: cook noodles, butter them and add a tablespoon or so of poppyseeds, salt & freshly ground pepper.  Not much of a recipe...I like those easy ones!

Orange Roasted Chicken with Fall Veggies

  • a 6 pound roasting chicken, washed, dried, giblets removed - I threw them do what you wish with them

  • 3 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 pound parsnips, peeled and cubed
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
  • 1 large leek, cleaned carefully, dark ends removed (and reserved), root end removed and discarded, remaining piece cut into 3-4" pieces
  • 2 small fennel bulbs, fronds removed, set aside; stalks removed, set aside; remaining bulbs cut lengthwise into wedges
  • 1 orange, zested, then juiced, reserve what's left of the orange halves and cut into large pieces
  • 3 sprigs thyme, large ones

  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • fresh ground black pepper, lots

  • orange juice, reserved from above
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, preferably white
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350.

In the bottom of a roasting pan, scatter sweet potatoes, parsnips, leeks, garlic and fennel wedges

Mix the rub: orange zest, 2 tablespoons minced fennel fronds, leeks, 2 springs of thyme - leaves removed and minced, 2 T. Kosher salt and lots of freshly ground pepper.  Mix well.  

Gently run your fingers between the skin and the flesh of the breast creating a pocket.  Gently (again) rub 2/3 of the rub between the skin and the flesh.  Rub the rest of the mixture all over the outside of the bird.

Mix the leek ends, remains of the orange, rest of the thyme and the rest of the fennel fronds and stalks.  Cram them into the cavity of the chicken.  Settle the prepared chicken on top of the veggies in the pan.

Roast the chicken until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the breast reads 180 degrees and the legs move loosely when wiggled. Remove from oven and let rest for 20 minutes before carving.

NOTE:  The carcass will be turned into a wild rice and fall veggie soup...the dark meat became a Shepherds Pie with a topping of half and half mashed potatoes and cauliflower.  You know how I love my leftovers!

 Beer and Pretzel Pork Chops

  • 4 pork loin chops, center cut, 3/4" thick
  • 1/2 cup beer, your fave (gluten-free to make this GF)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard

  • 1/2 cup honey mustard, a good one that's more honey-looking than mustard-looking...I like French's Honey Dijon
  • 2 cups pretzel sticks, crushed relatively fine, but not into dust (gluten-free to make this GF)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter

  • 1/2 cup beer, your fave (gluten-free to make this GF)

The night before, combine beer and dry mustard in a zip top bag and mix well.  Add the pork chops, squeeze out all the air and seal tightly.

Before you want to serve.  Crush the pretzels and put them in a plastic bag.  Remove the chops from the bag and dry them well.  Coat both sides of each chop liberally with honey mustard.  Put the chops into the bag with the crushed pretzels.  Coat each chop thoroughly. 

Melt butter and oil together in a large skillet.  When hot, add the chops.  Cook over medium heat until the chops are browned on the first side, turn and brown on the other.  Test for doneness before removing from pan. 

Pour 1/2 cup of the beer into the skillet and stir until the sauce thickens slightly and all the browned bits from the bottom are incorporated.

Plate the chops and pour the sauce over top.

Hot Buttered Rum Butternut Pork Chops

  • 4 pork chops, 3/4" thick center cut loin chops
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste

  • 1 large onion, sliced thinly
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 large butternut squash, peeled, seeded, sliced thinly
  • 2 apples, peeled, cored and sliced thinly
  • salt and pepper, to taste

  • 1/4 cup dark rum
  • 1/4 cup golden rum
  • 2 tablespoons butter 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Melt butter and oil together in a large skillet.  Salt and pepper both sides of chops and brown on both sides in skillet.  Remove to a 9 X 13 shallow baking dish.

Saute the onion and garlic in the same skillet.  When caramelized, remove to a plate.

Tile slices of squash and apple alternately on top of pork chops - do this pretty tightly.  Any squash and apples that are left, just scatter them around the edges of the chops. Season liberally with salt & pepper.  Spoon the onions and garlic down the center of the apple and butternut topped chops.  Spoon excess around the outside of the chops.

Pour both rums into the skillet and stir up all the browned bits.  Add the butter and stir well.  Pour over the chops.

Put foil tightly over the dish and bake for 45 minutes.  Remove foil, if dish is a little dry, add a little water or chicken stock.  Replace foil and cook another 20 minutes.  Remove foil and finish another 10 minutes.

Serve topped with the the extra squash & apples on the sides and lots of sauce - and with a bright green veggie like Brussels sprouts, buttered green beans or asparagus.


Serves 8
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup flour (or cornstarch to make this gluten free)
  • 3 cups half and half
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 pounds ground chuck
  • 8 ounce can tomato paste (little one)
  • 2 cups white wine
  • 1 pound small penne pasta (gluten-free to make this GF)
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese plus extra for top
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted and cooled

Cream sauce:  In a small saucepan, melt butter then stir in flour (or cornstarch).  Cook over medium heat until sandy.  Lower heat.  Gradually stir in half and half and broth.  Cook, stirring constantly until smooth and thickened.  Whisk in parmesan, salt and pepper until cheese is thoroughly melted. 

Meat:  In a skillet, melt butter and olive oil.  Saute onion until translucent.  Add beef and brown, breaking up into small pieces as it cooks. Add cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and pepper, tomato paste and wine.  Cook until slightly thickened.

Pasta:  Cook pasta according to directions, undercooking slightly. Drain.  Beat eggs, 1/2 cup of parmesan and butter in small bowl.  Mix thoroughly with pasta.

Assembly:  Pour half of the penne into a deep, buttered 9 x 13 baking dish and press down firmly all over.  

Spread 1 cup of the cream sauce evenly over the pasta.

Spoon all the meat on top evenly, spreading to edges.  

Add another cup of cream sauce and top with remaining pasta.  Press down firmly again evenly over the top.  Pour the remaining cream sauce over all and top with the remaining parmesan cheese.  

Bake, uncovered, at 350 for 45-60 minutes or until browned and bubbly.  Cool 15-20 minutes and cut into squares. 

NOTE:  Feel free to cut this in half and bake in an 8 X 10 baking dish or something similar.  

Bacon Roasted Green Beans & Shallots

Serves 4

  • 6 slices bacon, thick sliced, cut across into 1/2" lardons
  • 1 pound green beans, trimmed - my favorite kind is the haricot verts (tiny thin green beans) from Costco!
  • olive oil spray (I have a Misto filled with my fave olive control the quality that way)
  • 1 shallot, a large clove of it, cut into big pieces so they don't burn - maybe 1/4 cup more or less
  • freshly ground black pepper, lots

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Spray a large rimmed baking sheet lightly with olive oil.

Spread out the beans evenly on the baking sheet.  Scatter the shallot pieces over the beans and the bacon evenly over the top of everything.  Grind lots of black pepper over the top and roast.  

Halfway through roasting - maybe 15 minutes - stir well.  Continue roasting until the bacon is cook and the beans are crinkly.  


 Dark Rum Cranberry Apple Mincemeat Squares
  • 2 cups oats, gluten-free to makes these GF or regular if gluten isn't an issue
  • 2 cups flour, Jules gluten-free flour or regular all purpose flour if gluten isn't an issue
  • 1 3/4 cups brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 sticks butter, cold, cut into small dice
  • 1 cup pecans

  • 1 jar mincemeat, Crosse and Blackwell brand
  • 1 large apple, peeled, cored, fine dice
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 3 tablespoons dark rum, I used Kraken - use your favorite

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9" X 13" baking dish with 2" sides.  Butter all the way up and well.

Using a food processor, add oats, flour, brown sugar, salt, cinnamon and butter.  Pulse until the butter is well incorporated.

Press 2/3 of the flour mixture into the bottom of the buttered pan.  Press firmly and evenly into place.

Add the nuts to the flour mixture in the bowl of the food processor and pulse until the nuts are chopped into the mixture.  Set aside.

Mix the mincemeat, diced apple, cranberries and rum together well.  Spread evenly over the flour mixture in the bottom of the pan.  Using your hands, evenly spread the flour and nut mixture over the top of the filling.  Press down firmly and evenly.

Bake 60-70 minutes until the top is browned nicely and the filling begins to bubble up around the edges.  Remove from oven and cool completely on a rack.  I like to wait until the next day to cut this into squares. 

NOTE:  This could be even easier if I didn't go to the bother of adding fresh apple to the mixture.  Why do I do it then?  Because my mom always added fresh apple to her mincemeat mixture.  She said it gave a fresher taste.  I agree.  That's why I add cranberries and rum, too.  Well....maybe the rum is just to make it a little boozy tasting.  Nothing wrong with that.

Stout-Hearted Beef Stew

  • 3 pounds stew beef, cut into large cubes
  • 3 slices bacon, thick sliced, cut into 1/2" lardons
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • salt and pepper, to taste - quite liberally

  • 1 pint stout or dark ale, gluten-free to make this gf - I used Green's Gluten-free Stout, you can use their Dubbel Dark Ale, too.
  • 12 ounces beer, gluten-free to make this gf, I used Red Bridge Gluten-free beer
  • 2 large parsnips, peeled,  3/4" dice, parsnips about the size of 3 large carrots each
  • 4 medium carrots, peeled, sliced into 3/4" pieces
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
  • 2 large red potatoes, 3/4" dice, leave skins on - potatoes the size of your fist
  • 2 large Yukon gold potatoes, 3/4"  dice, leave skins on - potatoes the size of your fist
  • 12 ounces Brussels sprouts, trimmed
  • 1 pound pearl onions, frozen - SO much easier than peeling those fresh little suckers!
  • 32 ounces beef broth (be sure it's gluten-free to make this GF)
  • 18 gingersnaps, crushed, gluten-free to make this GF

Fry bacon in the bottom of a large Dutch oven or enameled pot.  Remove bacon & reserve for another use. (Snack timefor the cook is perfectly acceptable as another use.)  Add canola oil to pot.

Season beef cubes with salt & pepper liberally.  Add beef to pot in two batches, browning each batch well on all sides.  Remove from pan.

Add the stout to the bottom of the pan and stir up all the browned bits.  Add the beer.  Add all the veggies except the Brussels Sprouts.  Add beef back into the pot and mix well.  Add the beef broth.  Cover, bring to boil, reduce heat to low and simmer about 2 hours until veggies and beef are tender. 

Add Brussels sprouts to pot and crumble the gingersnaps into the pot as well.  Stir well.  Cover and simmer another 15-20 minutes.  The gravy should be thickened and sprouts tender.  Taste, adjust seasoning if necessary and serve!

Chorizo, Poblano & Smoked Gouda Breakfast Strata

  • 2 chorizo links, removed from casing, crumbled and fried.  Drain and set aside.
  • 1 large red bell pepper, roasted or grilled until blackened all over, popped into a plastic container immediately.  Let sit for at least 10 minutes.  Rub off the blackened peel, remove seeds and cut into 1/4" dice. Reserve 2 T. for garnish.
  • 2 large poblano peppers, roast as above & pop into the same plastic container.  After removing skin & seeds, sliver.  Reserve several slivers for garnish.
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels, Toast in a little olive oil in a very hot skillet until beginning to brown.  Remove.
  • 7 ounces gouda cheese, be sure it's SMOKED gouda.  Shred.
  • 8 slices white bread, gluten-free to make this GF (I used Whole Foods Light White) or a good French bread or challah if you're not dealing with GF issues

  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups milk
  • 4 tablespoons butter, plus extra to grease casserole dish

  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese, for garnish

Beat the eggs and milk together.

In a buttered 2 1/2 quart oval shallow casserole dish (or equivalent), layer half the bread, half the mixed poblanos and red pepper, half the corn and 2/3 of the smoked gouda. Add the rest of the bread, the peppers, the corn, the last of the smoked gouda and top with the crumbled chorizo.

Pour the egg mixture evenly and slowly over the top.  Cover with saran wrap or if you have a lid for the dish, use that - I did.  (Love that CorningWare French White baking stuff!) Refrigerate overnight.

The next morning, set oven to 350 degrees.  Bake the casserole for an hour or until the casserole is puffed, browned and beautiful.  Top with the shredded cheddar, bake another 10 minutes and remove.  Let stand for 15-20 minutes before serving.  Garnish with the reserved red and poblano peppers.  Serve!

This is easy to cut in half.  Use half of everything and make it in a 1 1/2 quart oval shallow casserole dish.  This is the smaller of the set of 2 CorningWare French White set.  The 2 1/2 quart size is the larger of the 2.  

Gingerbread Figgy Pudding and Dark Rum Trifle

  • 1 8"X8" pan of gingerbread, cubed - I used the recipe from "The Cake Doctor Bakes Gluten-Free" by Ann Byrn using a Hodgson Mills Yellow cake mix.  (If you are using a normal, NON-gluten-free mix, make an 8"X8" pan and make cupcakes out of the rest of the batter.)

  • 2 oranges, Cut the peel off with a sharp knife and make strips 3" X 1/8".  Cut the oranges in half and juice.  Reserve.
  • 1 cup dried Black Mission figs, diced
  • 1/2 cup dark rum, or more if needed, I used Kraken
  • 2 Bosc pears, cored and diced

  • 1 package French vanilla mousse mix, prepared. I used Dr. Oetker brand - gluten-free
  • 8 ounces Cool Whip Lite®, thawed

  • candied orange peel, see recipe below - use peel from above

Bake an 8" X 8" pan of gingerbread a couple of days ahead of when you want to serve the trifle. 

You're going to make the trifle the day ahead of when you want to serve this - quite nice for a more relaxed party, yes?  The morning you're making the trifle, put the diced figs into a 2 cup measuring cup.  Add the reserved orange juice and the rum.  If the rum doesn't cover the figs completely, add more until it does.  Set aside for several hours before making the trifle.

Later in the day, make the French vanilla mousse according to package directions.  Let sit for a few minutes and then gently fold the Cool Whip into the mousse.  Set aside.

Assembly:  To the bottom of a nice trifle dish or other tall, pretty bowl, make a layer of 1/2 the gingerbread cubes.  Strain the liquid from the figs - RESERVE!  Scatter half the figs over the gingerbread, drizzle half the reserved OJ and rum over the that, layer half the mousse mixture over top and repeat layers ending with mousse.  Refrigerate overnight loosely covered with foil.

Before serving, decorate the top with candied orange peel and serve in beautiful goblets.

Candied Orange Peel:
  • the orange strips from above

Bring a pot of water to a boil, add the orange strips, bring to boil again.  Boil gently 15 minutes.  Pour through a strainer and rinse while gently stirring the strips to rinse thoroughly. Set aside.

In the same pot, bring 
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 3 cups water
to a boil.  Lower the heat and simmer gently for 45 minutes to an hour.  Let cool.

Pour the orange strips through a strainer and collect the liquid in a large container.  THIS IS A BEAUTIFUL ORANGE SIMPLE SYRUP!  It would be a shame to waste it.  Use it for cocktails or to drizzle over yellow cakes or...well, just use your imagination.  Refrigerate it.

Okay, back to the candied orange spread 
  • 1 cup of sugar 
on a baking sheet.  Toss the orange peel with it until the strips are totally coated with sugar.  Let sit like that overnight. The next day, remove the strips from the the sugar

Use what you want for garnishing the trifle and save the rest for something else.  Wouldn't the orange simple syrup and candied orange peel make a lovely Christmas morning Bellini?  Maybe with a little cranberry juice for color?  And you can rim the glasses with the orange sugar you saved from the candied orange strips. 

Black Bottom Macaroon Cupcakes

  • 1 brownie mix, prepared as directed - For gluten-free prep, I like Gluten-Free Pantry brand the best or use your favorite regular brand if you don't have to worry about gluten

  • 14 ounce bag of coconut flakes
  • 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place cupcake liners in cupcake tins - I usually get about 14 or so out of a batch.  Be depends on how high you fill the cups.
Divide the brownie batter evenly among the liners.
Prepare the macaroon batter:  In a mixing bowl and using an electric mixer, beat the eggs and salt on high until they come to a medium peak. Set aside. 

In a separate large bowl, mix coconut, condensed milk and vanilla until well combined.  Fold the egg white mixture into the coconut mixture combining lightly, but completely.
Spoon the macaroon batter evenly on top of the brownie batter in the cupcake liners.
Bake 25 - 30 minutes until the macaroon topping is browned and gorgeous!  Cool completely on a racks.
NOTE:  These can be done in small tassie-size liners in a tassie pan to make little bites for cookie trays.  Very nice for a wedding or party. YES!  You CAN make these for a special occasion, too!

 Teriyaki Burgers

  • 2 pounds ground chuck
  • 8 ounces waterchestnuts, canned, drained and chopped
  • 1/2 cup tamari soy sauce, wheat-free (or regular soy sauce if you're not concerned about gluten)
  • 4 green onions, sliced thinly
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons granulated garlic

Mix all ingredients together well, but do not overwork the mixture to keep it light.  

Make into 8 patties and grill carefully.  They may stick or fall apart if you're not careful with them.  I usually use a grill basket for easy handling and turning.

NOTE:  If we're not having company, I still make all 8 patties and freeze half of them to thaw and cook as the mood hits.  No fuss, made-ahead teriyaki burgers from the freezer are always nice to have on hand.

Instead of beef, try ground chicken, turkey or pork - or any combination.  I think my favorite is ground pork. Yum!

Japanese Sweet Potato Red Curry Soup with Coconut

  • 2 med Japanese sweet potatoes, baked, peeled and cubed
  • 3 T butter (or even better, coconut oil!)
  • 2 cups diced onions
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup instant potato flakes
  • 2 t hot sauce (I used a lovely curry hot sauce, but use your favorite) 
  • 2 T Thai red curry paste
  • 1 t Thai fish sauce
  • 1 cup fat free evaporated milk
  • 1 can light coconut milk
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • sliced green onions
  • 1/2 cup toasted coconut flakes

  • Melt butter (or coconut oil) in soup pot & add onions. Saute over low heat for 10 minutes or until onions are translucent.
  • Add cornstarch to onions and cook 4-5 minutes, stirring well.
  • Add potato flakes to a large bowl, gradually add chicken stock stirring to incorporate well. 
  • Add slowly to onion mixture, stirring constantly over medium heat and continue cooking to a gentle simmer.
  • Add evaporated milk and coconut milk, stirring until smooth and slightly thickened. Simmer gently for 15 minutes. Do not boil.
  • Add potatoes and fish sauce, simmer gently for another 15 minutes.
  • Remove from heat, ladle into bowls, top with sliced green onions and toasted coconut flakes.

Tuscan Roasted Chicken with Winter Veggies & Garlic

  • olive oil spray
  • 1 pound cauliflower flowerets, just snap them off the head - weigh after taking of the head (easy way to measure? Dump the squash in the dish first and then fill up the empty squash container with cauliflower)
  • 1 pound butternut squash, prepackaged, cubed - so easy!
  • 8 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 4 chicken breasts, bone-in, skin on
  • Rustic Tuscan Seasoning from Costco (Kirkland), to taste
  • granulated garlic
  • kosher salt

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Spray the bottom and sides of a large, shallow casserole dish with olive oil. Scatter the veggies evenly over the bottom and sprinkle seasonings over the veggies.

Top with the chicken breasts and season again liberally. Spray olive oil over the chicken breasts and bake until browned and beautiful...45-60 minutes. 

Wasn't that easy?! (I won't tell anyone if you don't.)

Note: Rustic Tuscan Seasoning is a blend of roasted garlic, bell peppers, rosemary, basil, oregano and lemon.  If you can't find this in the store, mix up a blend of your own with the same ingredients or find a similar blend.  Penzey's will definitely have something similar!  

Minestrone with Adzuki Beans & Kale

  • 1 cup dried adzuki beans, rinsed
  • 1 ham bone
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, broken into pieces - WITH leaves
  • 1 large carrot, big pieces
  • 2 tablespoons seasoned salt, You know I use Jane's Crazy Salt!

  • 1 can garbanzo beans, drained
  • 1 large can of diced tomatoes, with juice
  • 1 large potato, scrubbed & diced, leave peel on
  • 1 package Italian green beans, frozen
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large zucchini, cut in half lengthwise, sliced across
  • 1 large carrot, peeled, sliced thinly
  • 1 large celery stalk, sliced thinly
  • 4 cups kale, sliced into 2" ribbons
  • 8 large fresh basil leaves, plus more for serving
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • seasoned salt, to taste - maybe 1-2 T more
  • 1 parmesan cheese, rind - SAVE YOUR PARM RINDS FOR SOUP! - plus more for serving 
  • 1 cup ditalini or other small pasta - or just crush larger pasta (gluten free, of course, to make this GF)

In a large heat-proof bowl, soak adzuki beans in boiling water several inches above beans for 2-3 hours. Drain.

In a large soup pot, add the ham bone, onion, 2 celery stalks and the carrot. Cover with water until the ham bone is submerged.  Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat to simmer and cook 2-3 hours until the meat begins to fall off the bone.  Remove bone and meat and strain out the stock veggies.  Return the broth to the soup pot.

Add adzuki beans, garbanzo beans, tomatoes, potato, Italian green beans, garlic, zucchini, slices carrot and celery, kale, 8 basil leaves, oregano, additional Crazy salt and the rind of a parmesan wedge.  The rind makes all the difference in the the soup depth and flavor.

Bring the soup to a boil, reduce heat and cook an hour or so until the veggies are soft.

Add the pasta at this point.  Bring to a boil again, reduce the heat again and simmer until the pasta is tender.

Serve in bowls topped with shaved parmesan and a little fresh basil.

NOTE: You can use purchased beef broth in place of the homemade ham broth - I had a hambone and you know I don't waste it!  Use 2 boxes of broth in place of the homemade stock.  Veggie stock is fine if you want to keep this vegetarian. If you're making this gluten-free, be sure to check the label of the bought broth to be sure it's GF.

Szechuan Peppercorn Pepper Steak with Daikon

  • 1 pound round steak, partially frozen, sliced thinly across the grain
  • 1/2 cup beef broth, store bought is just fine
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons sherry, or white wine if you don't have sherry on hand
  • 1/4 cup tamari soy sauce, be sure to use wheat free tamari to make this gluten-free!
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil, or peanut oil

  • 1 large daikon, peeled, quartered lengthwise and sliced across into quarter size pieces
  • 1/2 large onion, large dice
  • 1 large green bell pepper, seeded, large dice
  • 1 large yellow bell pepper, seeded, large dice
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 pound snow pea pods - fresh, whole, nice and small, tender ones, remove the strings
  • 1/2 bag spinach, roughly chopped

  • 1 tablespoon peppercorns, Szechuan, crushed with a mortar & pestle or in a sealed heavy plastic bag
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ginger, powdered
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch, check the label to be sure it's gluten-free is gluten is an issue

An hour before you start to cook, mix the broth, water, sherry & tamari in a sealable plastic bag & mix well.  Add the beef strips and let marinate for an hour (or more).

When you're ready to start dinner, heat a large skillet or wok - I use a big electric skillet.  Preheat the skillet to smoking hot. BE SURE YOU RESERVE THE MARINADE.  Gradually add half the beef and brown on both sides.  Remove this batch and do the next; add the first batch back into the skillet.

While the beef is cooking, add the crushed peppercorns, ginger, sugar and cornstarch to the marinade.  Stir well and set aside.

Add the daikon, onion and peppers.  Cook, stirring often, about 5 minutes.  Add the spinach and garlic and stir until the spinach wilts. Add the snow peas last and stir another minute.

Stir the marinade well again being sure the cornstarch is completely incorporated into the liquid. Pour the mixture over the beef and veggies in the skillet and continue stirring until the mixture comes together.

Pour the pepper steak into a bowl and serve over rice. My favorite is brown rice!

Spiced Carrot Tomato Creme with Wild Rice

  • 1 chicken carcass, dark meat left on what's left of a rotisserie chicken (once again, you know I can't let good bones go to waste)
  • 4 celery ribs, with leaves, chunked
  • 1/2 pound carrots, baby, chunked
  • 1 large onion, chunked
  • 1/4 cup dried minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup Jane's Crazy Salt
  • 1 turmeric root, peeled, sliced lengthwise (new ingredients are like kitchen toys, too...found this little item in Whole Foods...yum!)
  • water, to cover

  • 3/4 pound carrots, baby, sliced
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, fire roasted, with juice
  • 2 cups chicken stock (additional to the stock above)
  • 1/2  teaspoon ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon (or so) granulated garlic
  • saffron threads, 5 or 6 or so (I like "or so")
  • 3 tablespoons butter

  • 2/3 cup yogurt, Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup wild rice, raw

  • smoked salt, garnish

In a large soup pot, cover the carcass of a rotisserie chicken (the white meat was a quick Sunday dinner), the chunked carrots, celery, onion, the dried garlic, crazy salt and turmeric root with water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 2-3 hours until the meat falls off the bones and the stock is rich. Let cool slightly. 

Remove the solids from the stock with a slotted spoon. Let the solids cool completely before picking the meat from the bones for another use. (I use the meat in casseroles.) Pick out the cooked carrots and set those aside to add back in later.

Into the stock in the pot add raw sliced carrots, the can of tomatoes and the spices. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cook until the veggies are nice and tender. Add the reserved cooked carrots from making the stock back into the soup. Now here comes the fun!  

Using your STICK BLENDER (mine is a Cuisinart), puree the soup until smooth. Add the butter. Move the stick blender through the soup until the butter is melted. (If you don't have a stick blender, blend batch by batch CAREFULLY being sure the hot liquid doesn't explode from the blender....see why I bought a stick blender?)

Now add the Greek yogurt. Blend again! Woo hoo!

Add the wild rice, raise heat to ALMOST a boil, but not quite. Lower heat to a simmer and continue to cook until the rice is done.

Serve in bowls garnished with a lovely smoked salt.

Peanut & Pretzeled Gluten-free Texas Sheet Cake  

(Not gluten-free? Just use regular all purpose flour!)

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 cup water
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa, heaping (REALLY heaping!)
  • 2 cups Jules' gluten-free flour blend (or regular all purpose flour if gluten isn't an issue!)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda (dissolve this in sour cream above)
  • 2 eggs

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 4 tablespoons cocoa, level
  • 6 tablespoons skim milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 pound box powdered sugar

  • 2 cups gluten-free pretzels (or regular if gluten isn't an issue), measured before gently crushing
  • 1 cup salted peanuts

Put butter, water and cocoa into pot; bring to full boil.  Remove from heat and add flour, sugar and salt; beat until smooth and add sour cream (with soda in it) and eggs.  Mix well and pour into greased 17" X 9" X 1" high cookie sheet with rim.  Bake for 22 minutes at 375.In same pot the cake was made in (and you don't even wash the pot!) add 1/2 cup butter, 4 level T. cocoa and milk and bring to a full boil.  Remove and add rest of ingredients.  Beat well.

Spread the frosting over cake as SOON as it comes out of the oven.  Evenly sprinkle the peanuts and crushed pretzels over the top of the frosting, pressing gently into the frosting to set them in place.

Refrigerate cake, cut into squares and serve.  Best when cold.   

Bacon Dusted Japanese Sweet Potato Fries

  • 1 pound lard (find it in the grocery store in the Meat Department)
  • 4 slices bacon, thick slices - reserved after cooking

  • 2 large Japanese sweet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1/4" X 1/4" sticks (Russet potatoes or regular sweet potatoes work just fine, too!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 4 slices crisp cooked bacon (reserved from above)

Melt lard in a deep, narrow pot. When the lard is liquid, add the bacon and cook at 375 degrees until the bacon is crisp. Remove the bacon and set aside.

Toss the peeled and cut potatoes with 1/2 teaspoon sugar and 1 teaspoon Kosher salt until every fry is coated.

Maintaining the oil temp at 375 degrees, gently add potatoes to the oil in several batches. Fry each batch until crisp and golden and drain each batch on paper towels. 

While the potatoes are frying, make the Sweet Bacon Dust. Just whirr up the bacon and 1/2 teaspoon sugar in a blender or food processor until fine. There you are, Sweet Bacon Dust! Yum.

As each batch comes out of the oil, sprinkle with Sweet Bacon Dust. Keep warm until all batches are done.
NOTE: Don't want to bother with Bacon Dust? Finish the fries with Salish Alderwood Smoked Salt. Deliciously easy.

Beer-Braised Reuben Meatball Hoagies

Makes 24 meatballs or 8 sandwiches

  • 1 can corned beef brisket, canned, crumbled with your fingers or mashed with a fork
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 2 tablespoons stoneground mustard
  • 1 egg
  • 1 14 oz. can Bavarian (with caraway seeds) sauerkraut, 1/2 c. removed & chopped, the rest of the can reserved  (if you don't like caraway seeds, use regular sauerkraut)
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs, gluten-free if you want to make this GF
  • 1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds, crushed (optional)
  • 1 cup Swiss cheese, shredded - preshredded is just fine
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted in a skillet
  • 1 medium red onion, sliced
  • sauerkraut, what's remaining in the can above
  • 1 cup beer, gluten-free to make this GF
  • 1/2 teaspoon caraway seeds, crushed (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch

  • 8 hoagie rolls, sliced - gluten-free to make this GF
  • Swiss cheese, shredded, extra for the tops

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Lightly mix the ingredients from corned beef through black pepper. Form into approximately 2" balls and set on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper or a Silpat. Bake 25 minutes, turn and bake another 10 minutes. Remove from oven and spoon into a large casserole dish.

While the meatballs are baking, melt butter in a large skillet. Add onion and cook until wilted. Add the rest of the can of sauerkraut, 1/2 t. caraway seeds and the beer. Quickly whisk in the cornstarch until smooth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes until thick.

Pour the sauerkraut/beer mixture over the meatballs in the casserole dish. Serve on hoagie (or sub or get the picture) rolls with a little shredded Swiss on top.

NOTE: If you don't like caraway seeds, leave them out!

NOTE 2: Wish I'd thought of this before....these would be great for a cocktail party on little slider rolls!

Veal with Spinach, Gorgonzola & Mushrooms

Serves 4
  • 1 pound veal cutlet, gently pounded thin with the flat side of a meat mallet - cut into 6-8 pieces
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk - echoes the buttermilk gorgonzola below
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup panko (more if you need it) gluten-free to make this GF, regular if gluten isn't an issue

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced - I like the gourmet variety with oyster mushrooms, criminis and baby bellas - use what you like best!
  • 1 bag spinach, baby, cut coarsely
  • 1/4 cup gorgonzola cheese, crumbled, plus extra for garnish - I used a mild, but flavorful, buttermilk gorgonzola (and yes, I got it at GE)
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced, extra slices for garnish

Spread the panko on a large plate. Beat the egg and buttermilk together and pour into a second large plate. Dip each piece of veal into the egg wash, then into the panko and coat each side well. Set onto a third large plate until all are coated. Don't lay the pieces on top of each other; keep each piece separate to let the crumbs set. Season with salt & pepper.

Heat a large skillet.  Add oil & butter and melt over high heat. As soon as the pan is hot, add the veal pieces in batches.  Don't crowd. It won't take long for them to cook, just brown quickly on both sides and remove to a plate. Keep warm while doing the other batch(es). Don't overcook the's tender, delicate and you do NOT want it to be tough.

Once the veal is all browned and removed to a plate, add another tablespoon of butter to the pan. Quickly add the mushrooms and garlic and stir for a minute or two. Add the spinach and stir until the spinach is wilted. Add the gorgorzola and the juice of half a lemon. Stir and remove from heat.

Spoon the spinach mixture over the veal pieces, garnish with additional crumbled gorgonzola if you wish and a few lemon slices.

NOTE: Don't want to use veal because of the expense? I don't blame you.  That's why it's been so long since I've made it at home. Use pork instead or even chicken. Be sure to pound whatever you use thinly, but gently. Use bleu cheese if you prefer or leave out the cheese completely. The recipe is we all need to be. 

Double Bacon, Swiss & Spinach Quiche Burgers

  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 1/2 cup Swiss cheese, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh spinach, finely chopped
  • 3 slices crisp, cooked bacon, finely diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, or more to taste
  • salt and pepper, to taste

  • 8 slices crisp, cooked bacon
  • 4 slices Swiss cheese
  • red onion, thinly sliced
  • fresh spinach
  • 4 hamburger buns - gluten-free buns to make these GF

In a mixing bowl, lightly mix the ground chicken, shredded Swiss, chopped onions, chopped spinach, diced bacon, nutmeg and salt & pepper. Form into 4 patties.

Heat a heavy skillet and add a tablespoon or so of oil.  When the skillet is hot, add the burgers. Cook all the way through, but don't overcook them - keep them juicy!

Top the burgers with Swiss cheese and let it melt before building the burgers on buns with sliced onion, fresh spinach leaves and crisp bacon.

Mushroom Broccoli Alfredo Mac n Cheese

  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 cups milk
  • 2 1/2 cups fontina cheese, shredded - approx. 1/2 lb.
  • 2 cups smoked gouda cheese, shredded - approx. 1/2 lb.
  • 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, freshly grated

  • 1 pound penne pasta, cooked al dente, drained - Gluten-free penne to make this GF, my fave is BiAglut!

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced - I like the package of baby bellas, oyster and shitakes!
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 head broccoli, cut into florets

Mix the cheeses together in a large bowl until well combined. Reserve a cup of the mixed cheeses. In a saucepan, melt 3 T. butter, add the cornstarch and cook for a minute. Gradually whisk the milk into the cornstarch mixture. When the sauce has thickened, gradually add the bowl of grated cheeses, constantly whisking until the sauce is smooth. Set aside.

In a skillet, melt 2 T. butter and add the minced garlic and sliced mushrooms. Stir until the garlic is translucent and the mushrooms are tender. Set aside.

Have the cooked pasta waiting in a large bowl. Pour the cheese sauce over the top, add the mushroom mixture and the broccoli florets. Mix well and pour into a large, buttered gratin dish. Top with the reserved cheeses.

Bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes until the top is golden.

One Skillet Garlic Spinach and Shrimp Quickie

Serves 2

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups fresh spinach, use baby spinach and you don't even have to chop it!
  • 12 cherry tomatoes, halved
  • pinch oregano, or even TWO large!
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 12 shrimp, raw, peeled - tails on if you wish
  • 1/2 lemon, squeezed over the finished dish

  • brown rice, prepared- check the freezer aisle at Trader Joe's for their cooked brown rice - super simple in a flash!

In a large skillet, heat the oil, add the garlic and spinach together. Stir until the garlic begins to soften. Add the tomato halves and the seasonings. Stir. Add shrimp and cook until the shrimp are pink and opaque.

Pile rice onto 2 plates and divide the shrimp and spinach mixture over top. Give each plate a healthy squeeze of lemon. Serve!

NOTE: You do know this is naturally gluten-free, don't you? Now THAT'S good news!

Thai Red Curry Coconut Cod
 Serves 4

  • 2 nice cod fillets, cut across into 3-4" pieces
  • 1/2 cup coconut milk, I like the lite version
  • 1 cup rice flour
  • 1/4 cup coconut flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • canola oil, to a depth of about 1/2" in your skillet

  • 6 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup Thai red curry paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1/4 cup coconut milk, lite again
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce, be sure it's gluten-free to make this GF
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons water

  •  cooked brown or white rice

Prepare the sauce: In a saucepan, combine vinegar, honey, curry paste, ginger, water, salt, granulated garlic and coconut milk. Bring to a simmer and whisk until thoroughly combined. 

Mix the cornstarch and 2 T. water into a slurry. Whisk the slurry into the sauce, bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer again. Stir until the sauce becomes thickened.  Stir in the veggies, remove from heat and set aside while you make the fish.

Mix rice flour, coconut flakes and salt. Transfer the mixture to a plate; add coconut milk to another plate. Dredge the fish pieces first in coconut milk, then in the flour mixture, coating thoroughly over all sides and edges. Set aside.

Add the oil to a skillet to the depth of about 1/2". Bring oil to 375 degrees. Once the oil has come to temp, add the fish pieces carefully a few pieces at a time - do in several batches if necessary, just don't crowd the pieces. Brown on all sides and remove to a paper towel covered platter until all pieces are done.

To serve: Place the fish pieces on top of brown or regular rice - even rice noodles would be wonderful - then spoon the sauce over the fish being sure to get lots of veggies in each serving.

NOTE: Try using shrimp or scallops instead of cod...or your favorite fish fry variety. For your non-fish eating friends, try using strips of chicken! It's all good.

Peanutty Irishman Cupcakes - Gluten-Free

  • 1 package yellow cake mix, Hodgson Mill Gluten-Free
  • 1/2 package butterscotch pudding mix, instant
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup Bailey's Irish Cream, Caramel
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 3 eggs

  • 3 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons shortening
  • 4 tablespoons Bailey's Irish Cream, Caramel
  • 1 tablespoon vodka, Nutliquor brand peanut butter vodka - or other nut flavored vodka or liqueur

  • 1/4 cup salted peanuts
  • 2 tablespoons sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. If using regular paper cupcake liners, place the liners into 18 cupcake pan holes; if using tulip cupcake liners (like I did) just use 9...these are double size cupcakes!

In the large bowl of an electric mixer, mix the cake mix, dry instant pudding, peanut butter, Bailey's oil and eggs until everything is mixed, scrape down sides of bowl and mix on medium another minute until well incorporated.

Using an ice cream scoop, fill cupcake liners 2/3 full.

Bake approximately 20 minutes for the smaller cupcakes - use a toothpick to test doneness. For the larger tulip liners, bake 35-40 minutes. Again, use a toothpick to test doneness. Don't overbake. Cool completely on racks.

Frosting: In the medium bowl of an electric mixer, combine sifted powdered sugar, butter, shortening, 4 T. Bailey's and 1 T. peanut butter vodka. Beat slowly until the powdered sugar is completely incorporated, increase speed to high and beat until light and fluffy. If the consistency is too stiff, add a little Bailey's or vodka.

Peanut topping: In a food processor or blender, pulse the peanuts and sugar until finely chopped. Don't overprocess or you'll have peanut butter instead!

Assembly: Frost each cupcake using the method you prefer - pipe it on or spread it with a knife. Sprinkle with the peanut sugar mixture and serve. Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Regular (Gluten FULL) version: Use a regular boxed yellow cake mix and prepare according to package directions using a WHOLE box (1/2 cup) of butterscotch pudding mix. 

You'll get about 24 or so cupcakes from a regular cake mix. Bake at the recommended temperature on the box for the recommended number of minutes. Test for doneness with a toothpick.

Also make double the amount of frosting and sugared chopped peanuts. Did you figure out that gluten-free mixes are only half the size of a regular cake mix?  

Red Pack Bloody Mary Salsa

  • 2 cups Red Pack canned diced tomatoes in juice, drained well (reserve juice for another purpose) You should have approx. 2 C. tomatoes
  • 1 stalk celery, diced small
  • 2 tablespoons onion, finely minced
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed
  • 1/2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (be sure it's gluten free to make this GF)
  • 1 teaspoon tabasco sauce
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon celery salt
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1 tablespoon vodka, you know this is optional...I just had to put in a bit to make it REAL! Feel free to leave it out.
  • salt and pepper, to taste - be sure it's freshly ground black pepper!

Combine all the above ingredients well. Refrigerate for an hour or so to mellow and meld the flavors. Serve with corn chips!

NOTE: Want to make this with fresh, glorious summer tomatoes from your garden? Go ahead! The Red Pack version above can be made all year round, no waiting for in-season tomatoes!

Try using Bloody Mary Salsa on eggs or huevos rancheros in the morning, too!

Wondering why I used fresh garlic AND granulated garlic? Fresh celery AND celery salt? Flavor layering. Puts more of a punch into the depth of flavors. Try the technique in your own recipes!

Avocado Deviled Eggs with Truffle

Serves 6

  • 6 eggs, hardboiled, cooled, shells removed, sliced in half lengthwise, yolks removed into small bowl and set aside; egg white halves set aside on a plate
  • 1 avocado, nicely soft and ripe
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 jalapeno chile pepper, seeds and veins removed, VERY finely minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon tabasco sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon truffle salt (if you can't find truffle salt, try using smoked salt - see below for where to find truffle salt)
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise, or more if needed for consistency
  • pickled jalapenos slices, cut into pieces

In a small bowl, mash reserved hardboiled yolks with a fork until fine. Add avocado and lemon juice and mash again with a fork until the avocado and yolks are well mixed. Add the jalapeno, Tabasco, Worchestershire sauce, truffle salt and mayo. If the mixture is too stiff, add mayo a little at a time until piping consistency.

Using a zip top sandwich or quart bag, spoon the mixture into the bag being sure to load it into one corner. When the bag is 3/4 of the way full, squeeze out the air and zip the top securely. Snip off a corner of the bag large enough to pipe the mixture into the center of the egg white easily.

Pipe the egg/avocado mixture evenly into the hollows of the whites. Decorate the tops with small pieces of pickled jalapeno to garnish.

Await your OWN smiles and thumbs ups!

NOTE: Truffle salt (I HIGHLY recommend using it...not just for this recipe, but for fried eggs, popcorn, rice...anything to give your finished dish that extra something special) can be ordered at Gourmet Delights online. I use them regularly!

Gluten-Free Cheddar Jalapeno Waffles with 
Spicy Fried Chicken & Bourbon Maple Syrup

Serves 4

  • 2 chicken breasts, cut lengthwise into 3 "fingers" each - more if the breasts are really big
  • 1/2 cup panko, gluten-free to make this GF, regular if gluten isn't an issue
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1/4 cup canola oil, divided

  • 1 cup maple syrup, the REAL stuff! If you're going to do it, do it RIGHT! Otherwise you're wasting good bourbon.
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons bourbon - more to your liking

  • 1 1/4 cups flour, Jule's gluten free all purpose flour or another GOOD gf blend - regular if gluten isn't an issue
  • 1/2 cup corn flour
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 jalapeno chile pepper, seeds and ribs removed, minced very finely
  • 2 eggs, separated (You know this means the yolks from the whites in different cups, don't you? Otherwise, do not go further in the recipe. ; - )
  • 2 cups milk
  • 5 tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Chicken: In a plastic bag, mix panko, cornmeal, spices and salt well. Add the chicken fingers and shake, coating each finger well.
On a baking sheet with a raised edge all around, drizzle 1/2 the oil and spread it evenly over the sheet. Put it into the oven for a minute to heat NOT let it smoke. Place each chicken finger on the hot oil in the sheet, leaving room between each, drizzle the rest of the oil evenly over the chicken fingers. Bake for 15 minutes, turn each one over and bake another 10 minutes or so until crispy. Remove to plate and keep warm while you make the waffles.
Syrup: Mix syrup and bourbon. Done.
Waffles: In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients, flour through sugar.  Put the egg whites into your small mixer bowl and beat until the whites are stiff, but not dry. Set aside.
In another bowl, beat by hand the egg yolks and milk and then quickly beat in the melted butter. Add these to the dry ingredients and mix well by hand with a fork. When everything is well incorporated, add the beaten egg whites and fold them into the mixture with a rubber spatula until they are thoroughly mixed in. Add the cheese and jalapeno and mix just unti distributed throughout the batter.
Now you're ready to make the waffles! Only you know your waffle iron. Only you know how much batter to use. My waffle iron holds 2 cups exactly. Yours may hold more or less. Only add what YOUR waffle iron holds so it doesn't ooze out the sides and make a mess. My waffle iron doesn't need oil either. If your waffle iron needs it, use it. I LOVE my waffle iron!!!!!
Bake the waffles according to your waffle iron directions, keeping each batch warm as you finish up the batter.
Assembly: Put a waffle on the plate, pile on a couple of chicken fingers, drizzle with syrup. Enjoy!

NOTE: No, this dish is not for the novice cook.  Even if you aren't new to cooking, enlist help. This is a lot of morning work that is WORTH it, but it's always more fun to have fun with a friend while you're cooking. A brunch time Bloody Mary helps, too.

 BBQ Chicken Chippers 
(Don't Call Them Fingers!)

Serves 4

  • 1 1/2 cups potato chips, crushed fine in the food processor
  • 3 slices bacon, thick sliced, cooked crisp, minced fine in the food processor
  • 1 - 1 1/2 pound chicken tenders, approximately 12
  • 1/2 cup barbecue sauce, your favorite bottled brand - be sure it's gluten-free if you want to make these GF - PLUS extra to drizzle & dip

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Put BBQ sauce in a shallow bowl. Mix crushed potato chips and minced bacon together and spread on a plate. Dip each tender well in BBQ sauce. Dredge well on all sides in the chip/bacon mixture. As each tender is done, place on a plate until all are done.

Spray a baking sheet with a rim all around with Pam. Put it in the oven to heat, but watch carefully so it doesn't smoke. Lay each tender on the baking sheet keeping space between them. Spray the tops of the tenders with more Pam.

Bake 15 minutes, turn each one over and bake another 10 minutes or until browned, crisp and crunchy.

Remove to plate and serve with additional BBQ sauce for dipping.

NOTE: I used baked chips to help reduce the fat & calories.

The Animal Burger

Makes 1 burger

  • 1/3 - 1/2 lb GOOD quality ground beef, made into a thin patty
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

  • 2 slices cream cheese from the foil-wrapped package
  • several thin slices raw jalapeno pepper - or use pickled ones from the jar
  • thinly sliced onion - red onion would be pretty!
  • red, ripe tomato slices
  • finely julienned fresh basil
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Jane's Crazy salt or another good seasoning salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • a good toasty bun (gluten-free to make this GF) or a whole Romaine lettuce leaf
Either grill the burger or sear it in a very hot cast iron skillet - I'm assuming you don't have a flat top either - on both sides to medium rare or however YOU like it.

Place the burger on a waiting toasted bun or a large Romaine leaf. Top with the cream cheese slices and the veggies. Dust with Jane's Crazy salt and enjoy.

 Tomato Smoked Chicken Soup with Black Rice

Serves 6 
  • 2 quarts chicken stock (approximately), from the carcass of a smoked chicken (see directions below)
  • 6 Roma tomatoes, cut in six pieces each, lengthwise - I used Campari tomatoes
  • 1 zucchini, sliced in half lengthwise, then across into thin slices
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, cut into 1" julienned slices
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 6 large basil leaves, fresh
  • cooked chicken, reserved from the stock
  • 3 cups cooked black rice - if you can find it, brown or white rice otherwise
  • fresh basil leaves, thin slivers, as garnish

Stock: Using the bones, skin and leftover meat from a smoked chicken (that you smoked outside and had been rubbed liberally outside and in with Cajun seasonings), put the chicken pieces into a large soup pot. Add 4-5 celery ribs with ALL the leaves and broken into 3-4 pieces each, 2 peeled and quartered onions, 1 large jalapeno cut in half lengthwise, 2 T. Jane's Crazy salt, 2 T. dried minced garlic and just cover with water. Bring to a boil, cover. Lower heat to a simmer. Simmer for several hours until the meat falls off the bones and the stock is rich and red. Cool and refrigerate overnight. The next day, first remove all the solidified fat at the top of the stock. Then remove all the meat and reserve. Remove and discard the veggies and strain the stock into another large pot. There should be approximately 2 quarts of stock.
Veggies: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray olive oil over a baking sheet with sides and scatter the tomatoes, red bell pepper slices and zucchini evenly over the baking sheet. Sprinkle with Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Spray again with olive oil and roast until the veggies are soft.
Soup: While the veggies are roasting, start warming the stock on top of the stove. Add the tomato paste and basil leaves to the stock and when the veggies are ready, add them to the pot along with any accumulated juices on the baking sheet. Stir. Simmer about half an hour, heat the chicken separately. Heat the cooked rice separately.
Serve: Put a rounded scoop of rice in the bottom of a bowl, gently ladle the soup around the rice, add sliced chicken to the top and garnish with slivered fresh basil.
NOTE: If you haven't smoked a chicken, you can use the carcass of a store-bought rotisserie chicken or home roasted chicken and use a nice smoky Cajun seasoning to taste in place of the Jane's Crazy Salt. 

Grilled Pineapple, Mango and Ham Salads 
with Meyer Lemon Vinaigrette

Serves 2

  • 1 fresh pineapple, peeled, cored, cut into thick slices
  • 1 mango, peeled, cut in half lengthwise, pit removed
  • 2 thick slices ham
  • 1/2 pint fresh blackberries
  • 1/2 cup smoked bleu cheese (or regular bleu cheese)
  • Romaine leaves

  •  2 T. Meyer lemon juice (or 1 T. lemon juice and 1 T. orange juice)
  • 1/4 C. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 t. sugar
  • 1/2 t. Dijon mustard
  • 1 t. Kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • pinch cayenne pepper

Grill ham, pineapple and mango until they develop some nice grill marks. Remove to plate.

On two plates, arrange Romaine and top with the fruits, sprinkle with bleu cheese. Drizzle with the vinaigrette and serve.

Vinaigrette: While everything is on the grill, whip together the vinaigrette ingredients!

 Gluten-Free Blood Orange Meyer Lemon Meringue Cupcakes

Makes 12

  • 1 package yellow cake mix, Hodgson Mill Gluten-Free
  • 1/2 package instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup Meyer lemon juice (or 2 T. lemon juice AND 2 T. orange juice)
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 3 eggs

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/3 cup fresh blood orange juice (or regular fresh o.j.)
  • 1/3 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice (or regular lemon juice)
  • 6 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 T. grated orange zest
  • 1 stick butter, room temp

  • 4 egg whites
  • 3 T. sugar
Cupcakes: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place cupcake liners into 12 cupcake pan holes.
In the large bowl of an electric mixer, mix the cake mix, dry instant pudding, buttermilk, juices, oil and eggs until everything is mixed, scrape down sides of bowl and mix on medium another minute until well incorporated.

Using an ice cream scoop, fill cupcake liners 2/3 full.

Bake approximately 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Don't overbake. Cool completely on racks. Once they are completely cool, hollow out the centers with about a 1" hole - do NOT go all the way to the bottom. Set aside.

Curd: In the top of a double boiler (or a heat-proof bowl over simmering water in a pot), mix sugar, juices, eggs and yolks, zest and salt. Whisk the mixtures constantly until it becomes very thick and silky. Do NOT let it come to a boil. Remove from heat and cool. (I quick cooled the curd in the freezer, stirring often so it didn't freeze. Once the mixture is chilled completely, move to the fridge until you're ready to fill the cupcakes.)

Assembly: Fill the hollows of the cupcakes with the curd. Chill again while making the meringue.

Using an electric mixer, whip the egg whites to a froth. Add the sugar gradually, continuing to whip until they come to a stiff peak. Top each filled cupcake with meringue. Bake in a pre-heated 400 degree oven until the peaks of the meringue are beautifully browned. Remove from oven. Refrigerate for several hours before serving.

Pastrami Spiced Smoked Corned Beef

  • 1 teaspoon whole mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon whole cardamom seeds
  • 2 teaspoons whole black peppercorns
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • reserved packet of spices from the corned beef brisket package

  • a 3-4 pound corned beef brisket, reserve packet of spices to use in the spice rub above
  • 4 cups applewood chips, soaked in water for about an hour  

Remove the corned beef from the package and rinse well under water. Dry with paper towels and set aside.

In a small coffee grinder or a mortar and pestle, grind the mustard seeds, cardamom seeds and peppercorns to a medium grind. Transfer the spices to a small bowl, add the salt, reserved packet of spices and brown sugar and mix well.

Pat the spice rub over all sides of the corned beef. Let sit to almost room temperature before putting onto the smoker.

Prepare the smoker as you normally would, place the meat fat side UP and smoke the corned beef until tender. 5-5 1/2 hours more or less. Let rest at least 15 minutes and slice thinly. Pastrami Reubens with the leftovers anyone?

(The smoking technique is very general since I don't know if you're using an electric or charcoal smoker. If you smoke, you KNOW how to use your smoker to obtain the best results!)

Samosa Potato Tacos 
with Smoked Corn, Jalapeno & Poblano Salsa

  • 2 tablespoons butter, or coconut oil to make this vegan
  • 1 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1/4 cup yellow onion, very small dice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ginger
  • 1 pound potatoes, cooked in their skins till just tender, cooled, peeled and cut into 1/4" dice
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala (see recipe for homemade below)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more or less to taste)

  • 6 corn tortillas, warmed

Melt the butter (or coconut oil) in a large skillet. Add coriander seeds and toast - don't let them burn. Then add diced onions and cook gently until translucent.
Add the potatoes, garam masala and cayenne. Stir gently so the potatoes are thoroughly coated with the butter and spices - try not to let them break up too much. Remove from heat.

Add the frozen peas (the hot mixture will thaw the peas, but still let them retain the "pop" for a contrast in texture. Sprinkle with lemon juice and combine well. Keep hot.

Assemble tacos: Lay out a warmed corn tortilla and spoon some of the potato mixture down the center. Next spoon some corn salsa down the center, too. Fold over and eat with a squeeze of fresh lime.

Homemade garam masala: 

  • 1 t. cumin
  • 1 1/2 t. ground coriander
  • 1 1/2 t. ground cardamom
  • 1 1/2 t. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1/2 t. ground cloves
  • 1/2 t. freshly grated nutmeg. 

Combine all the spices well. You will only use 1 teaspoon of this mixture for the potatoes so be sure to store what's left in a small bag or extra spice bottle. Be sure to mark it so you know what it is when you dig it out of the bag of the spice cabinet the next time!
Smoked corn salsa: Cut smoked corn or roasted corn from the cobs into a large bowl. Use about 2 cups. Set aside. While you're smoking or roasting the corn, put on 1 jalapeno and 1 poblano and cook until soft. Remove the peppers to a plastic container and cover with a lid tightly. Set aside for at least 15 minutes. When the peppers are cool, remove the skins, stems and seeds. Finely dice the peppers and add to the corn.

In a molcajete or mortar and pestle, mash 1 small garlic clove, a handful of fresh cilantro leaves, 1 finely miniced, seeded jalapeno pepper with about a teaspoon of Kosher salt. When the mixture is pulverized, add it all into the corn and peppers. Squeeze the juice of 1 lime over all with a pinch or two of cumin and mix well. The salsa is ready to top the tacos. Use any leftover salsa with chips or to top hot dogs or nachos.

Cuban Black Rice & Black Bean Soup
 with Jamaican Dark Rum

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large onions, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large green pepper, seeds removed, diced
  • 2 tablespoons garlic, minced

  • 3 cans black beans, drained

  • 4 cups ham stock (see recipe below)
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

  • 2 cups cooked black rice (or brown rice - or whatever cooked rice you have tucked in the back of YOUR fridge!)

  • 1/4 cup dark rum

  • 1/4 cup green onions, sliced well into the green

In a large soup pot, add 2 T. olive oil and heat. Add the chopped onions and green pepper. Saute until soft, add garlic and cook another 2 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the drained black beans and stir into veggies. Cook another 10 minutes to meld flavors.

Add the ham stock, vinegar, bay leaves and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil, lower heat immediately and add rice. Cover and simmer about half an hour. Add rum and simmer another 15 minutes or until the raw rum taste dissipates.

Ladle into bowl, add reserved ham (that you've warmed in the microwave - make it easy!) and garnish with sliced green onions.

Ham Stock:  In a soup pot, add a large meaty ham bone. Add several large celery stalks with lots of leaves, 2 large quartered onions, 3 T. dried minced garlic. Bring to boil, cover and reduce heat to simmer. Cook for several hours until the ham fall easily from the bone. Cool and remove all the meat from the bone. Reserve meat to add to black bean soup. You should have about 4 cups of ham stock. Proceed with black bean soup recipe.

Spicy Peppadew Bacon Cheese for Burgers

  • 4 slices thick cut bacon, cooked crisp and chopped
  • 8 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded on medium disc of food processor
  • 1/3-1/2 c. jarred Peppadew peppers, chopped
  •  1/4 c. mayonaise
  • 2 T. onion, grated
  • 1/2 t. Kosher salt
  • a hefty grinding of black pepper

Add everything to a bowl, mix well and refrigerate until burgers are ready. Spoon the mixture on top of the burgers, add whatever other toppings you like - tomatoes, onions, lettuce, pickles - and serve.

NOTE: Have some of the cheese spread left over? Spread it on crackers! Yum. Have some peppadews left over from the jar? Stuff them with some of the cheese for an appetizer or stuff them with chicken or tuna salad - also for an appetizer. Be creative!

Black Rice Blueberry & Jalapeno Salad

  • 2 cups cold, cooked black rice - don't substitute white rice (cold, cooked brown rice would work just fine - just wouldn't be nearly as dramatic!)
  • 6 green onions, root end removed and sliced thinly well into the green
  • 1 red jalapeno - or green if you can't find a red one, stem and seeds removed, sliced very thinly
  • 1 cup blueberries, washed and dried
  • 1 t. Kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • the juice of 1 lime
  • 2 T. balsamic vinegar
  • 3 T. olive oil

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix gently, but well. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Grilled Pina Colada

Makes 4

  • 1 fresh pineapple, outside removed, cored and cut into 3/4" slices
  • 1 cup coconut flakes, toasted
  • 1 cup caramel topping, good quality (I prefer Richardson's)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 cup rum, Meyers dark rum, coconut rum, whatever kind you prefer - I used Kraken spiced rum this time!
  • 4 scoops ice cream, Talenti's coconut gelato
  • fresh whipped cream

Melt together caramel topping, butter and rum in a small saucepan until well combined.  Set aside.

Grill pineapple slices on both sides until caramelized and have nice grill marks. 

On a pretty plate, place a slice of pineapple, scoop gelato into center of ring, top with whipped cream, drizzle with caramel and sprinkle with toasted coconut.  AWESOME!

Spicy Szechuan Smoked Pork Belly

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon Szechuan peppercorns
  • 2 small green cardamom pods - find these at Penzey's in the Strip District
  •  1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
  • 3 pound VERY lean pork belly (yes, I know this is an oxymoron)

Put the black and Szechuan peppercorns and the cardamom pods in a small coffee or spice grinder - or just crush them with a mortar & pestle. Remove to a small bowl, add the salt & sugar and mix well. Set aside.

Score both sides of the pork belly in a diamond pattern. Rub the peppercorn mixture evenly onto both sides of the meat. Use ALL of the rub. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. An hour before you're ready to smoke, take the meat out of the fridge to bring to room temp.

Prepare smoker as you normally would and soak smoker chips for at least an hour in water (wouldn't sake be nice instead of water?!) - I like hickory for this dish.

Once the smoker is ready to roll, unwrap the pork belly and place it on the smoker. We smoked this for about 4-5 hours - how long yours takes depends on you and your smoker.

Remove from heat when done, let rest 15 minutes and slice against the grain.

Serve on tacos or just by itself. Serve for breakfast or dinner. 
You will LOVE this one!

Buffalo Bleu Coleslaw

  • 4 cups packaged coleslaw mix (or shredded cabbage if you're feeling all industrious)
  • 1/4 cup bleu cheese, crumbled - extra for garnish, if you wish

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Tabasco sauce, the Buffalo Style Hot Sauce variety (it's relatively new...look for it in the hot sauce aisle!)
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt

Put the coleslaw mix into a large bowl. Set aside.

Mix the mayo, vinegar, sugar, Tabasco and salt together until smooth.

Pour the sauce over the slaw, sprinkle with bleu cheese. Toss gently, but thoroughly. Serve.

Garnish with extra bleu cheese crumbles, if desired.

NOTE: Use lite mayo and Splenda to lower the calories...beach time isn't far away!

 Red, Gold & Bleu Beets ala Root 174

  •  4 beets, 2 red, 2 golden - greens removed (saved for beet greens!), lightly oiled, wrapped in foil & baked at 400 degrees until a knife inserted slides in smoothly. Cool, remove skins, cut into medium dice
  • watercress, a few sprigs - tiny leaves removed for dish, larger pieces reserved for a salad
  • 2 tablespoons bleu cheese, my fave is buttermilk bleu cheese - use what you like, crumbled (if you're highly gluten-sensitive, you may want to use a different cheese)

  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1/3 cup honey, I used organic orange blossom honey
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Arrange the beets decoratively on a plate. Sprinkle with watercress leaves and bleu cheese. Set aside.

Mix honey, cumin, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, orange juice, salt and pepper with a whisk until well blended. Drizzle over salad. Serve.

NOTE: If you wish, feel free to just toss the ingredients together and forget the presentation.  It will taste just as wonderful!


  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1/2 pound sausage meat, hot sausage if you wish...I wish!
  • 7 slices bacon, thin sliced bacon

Mix the pork and sausage well - it helps to let the meat come almost to room temp first. Shape golfball sized meatballs and set aside until all are done.

Cut the bacon strips in half and wrap a half slice of bacon around the circumference of each meatball. Secure with a toothpick or slide several moinks onto metal skewers. (If you use wooden skewers, be sure to soak those right along with the hickory chips for at least an hour so they don't burn.) Chill the moinks in the fridge until the smoker is ready to go.

Prepare the smoker as you normally would for whatever type of smoker YOU use. I like hockory chips for these, so soak them at least an hour ahead. When the smoker is to temp, scatter some soaked hickory chips on the coals.

Place the skewers of moinks on the grate, cover and smoke until cooked through and bacon is golden.

NOTE: You can do these on the grill, too. Be sure to keep the flame low and use indirect heat so the bacon drippings don't ignite. 

Pineapple, Jalapeno, Bourbon BBQ Baked Beans

Serves 8
  • 1 cup pineapple, fresh, diced small, core and all
  • 2 jalapenos, seeds and ribs removed, very finely diced - red or green
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 15 ounces black beans, drained
  • 28 ounces baked beans, do NOT drain
  • 1/2 cup barbecue sauce, hickory, bottled
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste

  • 7 slices bacon, cut into thirds

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Combine everything but the bacon and mix well. Pour into a large casserole dish and cover the top evenly with bacon.

Bake 1 - 1/2 hours or until the bacon is cooked, crisp and browned. 

Peg's German Apple Cake

  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 5 tablespoons sugar

  • 4 cups apples, peeled, sliced
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350.Grease and flour bundt or tube pan.  

First, mix cinnamon and 5 tablespoons of sugar together and set aside.Mix cake ingredients for 4 minutes using mixer.  Pour a layer of batter, then a layer of apples - sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar mixture.  Alternate layers, ending with a layer of batter 2 more times.Bake for 1 1/2 hours.

NOTE: When peaches are in season, try using slightly underripe peaches instead of apples...wonderful!

Dilled & Lemoned Fingerling Potato Salad

 Serves 4

  • 1 pound tiny fingerling potatoes, cooked until just tender, cooled, sliced in half lengthwise - do NOT peel
  • 3 hardboiled eggs, peeled and cut into pieces - an extra one cut into wedges if you want to garnish the salad
  • 3 green onions, sliced well into the green
  • 1/3 cup fresh dill fronds, finely chopped
  • 1 lemon, zested first and then juiced

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice, reserved from above
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon stoneground mustard

Put potatoes, hardboiled eggs (not the extra one for garnish), onions, dill and lemon zest into a large bowl. Set aside.

Mix well the mayo, lemon juice, salt and mustard with a small whisk.

Pour dressing over the potato mixture and gently fold together well.

Chill until serving time. Wasn't that simple?!

NOTE: Feel free to substitute tiny red potatoes or mixed red, fingerling and blue potatoes...that would look pretty cool, don't you think? 

Red Plum and Blueberry Streusel Cutie Pies

  • 2 cups blueberries
  • 3 plums, red or purple, stones removed & sliced
  • 2 teaspoons sugar

  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup oats, gluten-free to make these GF, regular oats if gluten isn't an issue
  • 1/3 cup flour, again, gluten-free to make these GF, regular all-purpose flour if gluten isn't an issue
  • 6 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In 4 clean, short, wide Mason or Ball-type canning jars, layer 1/2 cup of blueberries, then 1/4 of the plum slices and press down gently, but firmly. Sprinkle each fruit filled jar with 1/2 teaspoon of sugar. Set aside. 

To make streusel: In a small bowl, use a fork to mix the brown sugar, oats, flour, butter and cinnamon together until all is incorporated and crumbly. Sprinkle the streusel evenly on the tops of the fruit filled jars.

Place the jars on a rimmed cookie sheet to catch any spills and bake for 45 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool on a rack.

To serve, top with scoops of ice cream right in the jar!

Double Orange Smoked Chicken Thighs

  •  8 chicken thighs without skin

  • 2 oranges, grated zest of one, juice of both (approximately 1/2 cup juice total), reserve unzested orange halves after juicing to toss on top of the coals for even MORE orange-iness
  • 1/2 large shallot, finely minced (appox. 1/4 c.)
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup, Grade B (it has much more flavor than A)
  • 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, chipotle variety - Penzey's has it for sure, but you can find it many places

  • 1/4 cup orange marmalade
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder, chipotle again!

Marinade: In a large zip top plastic bag, mix the orange juice, zest, maple syrup, shallot, salt, pepper and chipotle chili power well. Gently add the thighs, squeeze out all the air and zip tightly. Distribute the marinade around the chicken and refrigerate until about 1/2 an hour before putting onto the smoker. You can marinate these as little as 2-3 hours or as long as overnight.

Glaze: Mix the marmalade, balsamic vinegar, chipotle chili powder and granulated garlic well. Set aside until ready to glaze at the end of smoking.

Prepare smoker as you normally would using orange wood - if you can find it. If not, feel free to use apple or another variety. If you don't smoke, don't worry! Just grill them! Once the smoker - or grill - is ready to roll, place the thighs on the grates. About half an hour before the thighs are done, glaze the first side, let them go for 15 minutes, turn and glaze the other side. Finish smoking until tender and cooked all the way through.

Remove from smoker (or grill) and enjoy!

Peachy Jalapeno Smoked Rack of Pork 
with Peach Chut-salsa

  • 2 pounds pork roast, a 4-rib rack of pork

  • 1 1/2 jalapenos, leave seeds & ribs in for lots of heat, remove them for less heat - cut into 1/2" pieces
  • 7 large garlic cloves, paper skins removed
  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 2 cups peach nectar
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon granulated garlic
  • 1 peach, pitted
  • 2 tablespoons stoneground mustard
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 3 peaches, cut in half, stones removed
  • 1 medium onion, peeled, cut in half lengthwise
  • 2 jalapenos, whole
  • 4 cloves garlic, whole, left in skins
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon stoneground mustard

Using a small, sharp knife, deeply pierce roast on all sides. Massage the rub into all the cuts, using all the rub, all over. When it is thoroughly covered, carefully put the roast into the ziptop bag that contains the prepared marinade. Refrigerate for 3 hours, remove from fridge and let it marinate another hour at room temp. 

Prepare smoker as you normally would using peach wood - if you can find it. I really don't think it makes a difference. Feel free to use apple, hickory or your own favorite variety. 

Once the smoker is ready to roll, put the roast on bone side down. Smoke the roast for about 2 hours before putting the peaches and veggies on. Let those smoke for about an hour, remove and let the roast continue to smoke for another 1-2 hours. 

The length of time it takes to smoke depends on your smoker. You know your smoker best, so use your own best educated smoking judgment for when it will be done to your own taste.

Glaze about 1/2 an hour before removing from smoker. Let it rest for about 20 minutes before carving.

Rub: Put the 7 garlic cloves, kosher salt & granulated onion into a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Set aside.

Marinade: In a large ziptop bag, add peach nectar, 1/4 c. cider vinegar, 1 T granulated onion and 1 T granulated garlic. Set aside.

Glaze: Add the pitted peach WITH the skin on, 2 T mustard, 1 T vinegar, 1/4 C honey and Kosher salt to the food processor. Process until pureed. Add additional honey to desired consistency.

Chut-salsa: Finely dice the smoked peaches and veggies and add to a medium bowl. Add 2 T honey, 2 T red wine vinegar, 1 T Kosher salt and 1 T stoneground mustard. Mix well and serve as a condiment atop slices of pork.

 Low Country Grilled Shrimp, Andouille & Veggies
with Old Bay Beer Butter

 Serves 2 - with plenty of leftovers

  • 1 pound shrimp, jumbo, raw, peeled, tails on - threaded onto metal skewers (or wooden skewers that have soaked in water (or beer) for at least an hour)
  • 1 pound sausage, andouille if you can find it - kielbasa is good, too!
  • 1 pound red potatoes, small ones, cut in half - cooked in the microwave for a few minutes until almost done, but not quite
  • 1 large vidalia onion, peeled, cut into eigths - leave stem end intact so the layers don't seperate
  • 4 ears of corn, husked, silk removed

  • 2 sticks butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons Old Bay Seafood seasoning
  • 1/4 cup beer, gluten-free beer to make this GF - your favorite regular beer if gluten isn't an issue

Baste: In a bowl, whisk together the melted butter, beer and Old Bay. Set aside.

Heat up your grill - keep it low because the butter baste is going to flare up...even with the heat low. It's okay because that smoky, blackened flavor intensifies the sweetness of the corn and the veggies...YUM! Also, be SURE to use a long-handled basting brush and work quickly to avoid the flames. No burns or catching on fire, please!

Once the grill is ready, pile on the corn, potatoes, onions, sausage and last, the shrimp. Baste liberally with the Old Bay Beer Butter. This will flare up. Be very careful,! As each item is done, remove to a platter. The shrimp won't take long at all. When everything is done, it's dinner time! All you need is some good crusty bread and a bottle of your favorite beer or wine. So easy! So good!

 Bacon Pineapple Chicken Skewers 
with Asian Orange Glaze

Serves 4 as an entree, 6-8 as appetizers

  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 1 1/2" cubes
  • 1 fresh pineapple, peeled and cored, cut into 1 1/2" cubes
  • 10 slices bacon, cooked slightly, don't let it crisp!

  • 6 tablespoons orange marmalade
  • 2 tablespoons tamari soy sauce (wheat-free tamari to make this GF or regular soy sauce if gluten isn't an issue for you)
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, more or less to your taste - you know I like more!
  • 2 teaspoons granulated garlic

Soak 10 wooden skewers for at least an hour in water - add salt to the water to help season the chicken and pineapple from the inside out! I used 4" appetizer size skewers.

Ready for the glaze, a close up view of the alternating assembly. can do it!

Skewers Assembly: When the skewers are ready, thread a chicken cube, then an end of the bacon, a pineapple cube, fold the bacon back and skewer again, then the chicken, fold the bacon over, the get the idea. Just keep alternating chicken and pineapple and weaving the bacon back and forth until the skewer is full. Set aside.
Glaze: Mix the marmalade, tamari, cayenne and granulated garlic well. Set aside.
Preheat the grill and grill the skewers over a slow heat turning occasionally until the chicken is cook through on all sides. Once they are done, baste the glaze on one side and turn. Let them grill until the glaze is set on the first side, turn again and set the glaze on the second side. Remove to a clean plate and serve.
NOTE: You can mix up another batch of the glaze, add a tablespoon of champagne or rice wine vinegar to it, stir and there you have a dipping sauce for the kebabs. Do NOT use the glaze leftover from basting the skewers because they will be contaminated with raw chicken from basting.

Thai(ish) Coconut Peanut Noodle and Veg Salad 
with Grilled Steak
Serves 4

  • 2 ribeye cap steaks - or your favorite cut, seasoned and grilled how you like it - 1/2 steak per person

  • 8 ounces rice noodles, pad Thai style (I used Annie Chun brand), cooked according to package directions - al dente - drain in a colander and rinse well with cold water - set aside

  • 1 cup fresh spinach, julienned
  • 6 medium basil leaves, fresh, cut into chiffonade
  • 1/2 large jalapeno chile pepper, seeds and ribs removed, sliced thinly into slivers 1/4" long
  • 1 cup bean sprouts, fresh, rinsed and dried
  • 1 cup peanuts, salted - reserve 1/4 cup for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup broccoli florets, cut into small pieces

  • 3/4 cup lite coconut milk
  • 2 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or more to taste
  • 2 teaspoons tamari soy sauce, wheat-free to make this GF or regular soy sauce if gluten isn't an issue for you
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce

Make the salad ahead of time and grill the steak the way you like before serving.

Mix the dressing ingredients - coconut milk through fish sauce - in a bowl until the peanut butter is thoroughly incorporated and pour over the cooked noodles. Add the spinach, basil, jalapeno, sprouts salt, broccoli and salt. Toss well until all the veggies, noodles and sauce are well-combined. Arrange the salad on a platter and top with sliced steak and garnish with the rest of the peanuts and lime to squeeze as needed.

NOTE: Feel free to make this by itself without the steak for a lovely side dish!

Red Hot Brats

  • 1 package Johnsonville Stadium Brats, pierced on all sides with the tip of a sharp knife - BE CAREFUL!

  • 10 ounce bottle of apple juice
  • 2 LARGE jalapenos - sliced thinly into rings - leave the ribs and seeds intact
  • 1 t. chipotle chili powder - available at Penzey's or the Latin section of the supermarket
  • 6 large cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped coarsely

Mix all the marinade ingredients in a quart zip top bag, seal & mix well. Open and put in the pierced brats, squeeze out all the air and seal tightly. Let marinate overnight.

Brats hangin' out in their jalapeno, chipotle and garlic marinade. Ahhhhhh...
The next day, remove the sausages from the marinade, dry them with paper towels and grill until beautifully browned on all sides. Remove as soon as they're browned. Great on good buns with a smear of mustard and chopped onion or onion relish!

NOTE: These are pretty amazing on the smoker, too! Don't oversmoke them, though...just a light smoking - half an hour to an hour tops over applewood chips. Yum.

Peg’s Ocean City Maryland Crab Soup

  • 1 1/2 pounds chuck roast, fat removed 
  • onions, chopped
  • carrots, chopped 
  • celery ribs, with leaves, sliced thinly
  • Water
  • 1 LARGE can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can tomato juice
  • 4 potatoes, diced
  • 6 leftover crabs - SEE NOTE
  • 1 pound crab claw meat – either saved from your crabfeast or storebought
  • 1 pound frozen mixed vegetables
  • Old Bay seafood seasoning (the more, the better!)
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • garlic salt to taste

Add the chuck roast, onions, carrots, and celery to a large soup pot or crabpot, barely cover with water & cook until meat is tender. Remove meat, cut into pieces. Return beef to stock in pot

Add tomatoes, tomato juice, potatoes, claw meat, mixed veggies and seasonings. Add more water, if necessary to almost cover the solids. Bring to boil, add cleaned crabs and the remaining ingredients; lower heat, cover and simmer until done. Adjust seasoning and ladle soup into bowls, placing a half crab on top of each.

NOTE: Clean each crab by removing top shell and cleaning out the gills and the devil (crab term) - be sure to leave legs and claws attached; snap cleaned crab in half along the natural center of the body and toss into boiling stock in pot. Be sure to toss those top shells into the pot, too, for extra crabby flavor!

 Maryland Corn Jalapeno Crab Imperial

  • 3/4 pound REAL Maryland, Virginia, Louisiana or Texas Blue crab meat, backfin lump, picked for shell and cartiledge
  • 1 tablespoon jalapeno chile pepper, seeds and ribs removed, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons jarred pimientos, minced (I used hot peppadews instead - great if you can find them!)
  • 1 tablespoon mayonnaise - Hellman's
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons fresh corn kernels, raw, cut from cob, coarsely chopped - Bonus! I was lucky enough to bring home Maryland Silver Queen corn!
  • 3 tablespoons fresh corn puree (See below)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 4 tablespoons fresh corn puree (See below)
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Corn puree: Cut kernels from an ear of raw corn and place into the jar of a blender. Process until the corn is liquified. This will take a little patience and a lot of stopping the blender and pushing the corn kernels down before starting again. Repeat until the corn is liquified. This makes a very thick liquid with LOTS of intense fresh corn flavor.

Crab Mixture: Mix the jalapeno, pimiento, mayo, egg yolk pureed corn, salt and lemon juice until smooth. Set aside. Gently go through the crab feeling for shell and/or cartiledge and remove, but DON'T break up the crab! Put the crab into a large bowl, pour the mayo/egg mixture over the crab and very gently fold together without breaking up the crab. Set aside.

Glaze: Mix 2 T mayo, 4 T. pureed corn, 1 T. lemon juice and 1/4 t. salt together very well. Set aside.

Just before going into the oven.


Assembly: Using individual ramekins or shells, spray with a little olive oil then divide and mound the crab mixture evenly among 4 ramekins or shells. Tamp lightly to hold the mound together. Spoon the glaze mixture evenly over the tops, using all the glaze. If you wish (and I did) decorate the tops with strips of pimiento or peppadews. Place the ramekins or shells on a baking sheet.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Bake the ramekins or shells for 20 minutes. Remove, set the oven to broil, when the broiler is heated, run the crab under the broiler until lightly browned. Remove, cool slightly and enjoy!

 Crab Deviled Eggs, Baltimore Style

  • 7 eggs, hardboiled,cooled, shelled, cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 tablespoon Old Bay Seafood seasoning, plus extra to dust the tops of the deviled eggs
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard, Colmans!
  • 5 tablespoons mayonnaise, Hellmans!
  • 2 tablespoons celery, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup Maryland backfin crab, remove any shell and/or cartiledge - In addition, set aside the largest crab lumps from the top of the container to garnish each deviled egg

Carefully remove the yolks from each cooled hardboiled egg half to a small bowl. When all the cooked yolks are in the bowl, mash them very well with a fork until finely crumbled. Sprinkle the mashed yolks with Old Bay, celery and dry mustard. Mix the Worcestershire and mayo together then pour over the egg yolks and seasonings. Mix very well - add more mayo if it seems too thick or more Old Bay if it doesn't seem to have enough spice.

Once the egg mixture is ready, GENTLY fold in 1/2 cup of crab and mix completely without breaking up the crab too much. You don't want the big lumps for this anyway. The reserved big lumps will be the garnish for each egg half once the whites are filled.

Mound the egg crab mixture into the centers of each white, dividing evenly. Garnish with a nice big crab lump and dust with Old Bay. Place each deviled egg half into a deviled egg tray that hold 12 deviled eggs. But there are 2 extra! Put the nicest ones in the dish and the other two are YOURS! Reward time!

NOTE: Notice I used only 1/2 a cup from the container? The rest of the pound - 3/4 pound - went to make the Maryland Corn Jalapeno Crab Imperial I posted yesterday. I made the MOST of that pound of crabmeat!


 Queso Tomato Tart

  • 1 corn chip tart crust, baked - see recipe below

  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • pinch kosher salt
  • 2 large garlic cloves, smashed
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 large egg, beaten

  • 1 cup cheese, Mexican blend - I used 365 (Whole Foods) blend with pepper jack, colby and muenster) or your own favorite Mexican blend - plus about 1/2 a cup or so to top tomatoes with at the end

  • 2 ears of corn, leftover, cut from cob - roasted or steamed or boiled - they all work well!
  • 2 tablespoons jalapeno pepper, minced finely

  • 2 large, red tomatoes, sliced very thinly
  • 18-20 yellow cherry tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise

CRUST: Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. In a food processor, process tortilla chips until fine - you'll need 2 cups. Melt 3 tablespoons butter and add to processor with chips - process until well combined. Set aside. 

Butter the bottom and sides of a tart pan with a removable bottom - about 1 - 1 1/2 tablespoons of softened butter. Dump the buttered tortilla chip crumbs into the tart pan and press them evenly across the bottom and up the sides. Tamp them down well. Bake 20 minutes. Remove and cool slightly.

CUSTARD: In a heavy bottomed saucepan, add the cream and milk. Smash the garlic and add along with salt and pepper. Warm the mixture. 

Beat the egg in a small bowl. When the cream mixture is warm, add a little at a time to the egg while beating the entire time...about 3-4 tablespoons of the warm mixture should do it. 

Gradually add the egg/cream mixture back into the saucepan, whisking until all the egg mixture is incorporated. Gently stir until the egg/cream mixture begins to thicken. 

Remove from heat, remove the garlic with a fork or slotted spoon. Set aside.

ASSEMBLY: Once the crust is ready, sprinkle the corn and jalapeno across the bottom of the crust, pour the egg cream mixture evenly over the top. Sprinkle one cup of cheese evenly over the top. 

Lay the tomato slices evenly over the top and add the yellow cherry tomato halves decoratively around the edge and in the center of the tart. Sprinkle the tomatoes with a little more cheese.

Bake the tart for 30 minutes until the custard sets. Remove from oven carefully. Let sit for 10 minutes to set before removing the edge of the tart pan. 

Sprinkle the top with chopped cilantro and cut into wedges.

So good!

NOTE: Makes a great vegetarian main dish, appetizer (cut into thin slices) or brunch dish!

Plum Smoked Duck With Plum Wine Reduction

  • 1 5-pound (approximately) duck, thawed if necessary

  • 3 BIG garlic cloves...or 6 smaller ones, smashed
  • 1 star anise, crushed
  • 3 slices fresh ginger root, about quarter sized
  • 1 tablespoon Scechuan peppercorns, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons five-spice powder
  • 2 tablespoons tamari soy sauce, Gluten-free to make this GF
  • 1 1/2 cups wine, Japanese Plum Wine - also known as Gekkeikan

  • 1 cup wine, Japanese Plum Wine - yep, same as above
  • 4 very ripe Italian prune plums, seeded and quartered
  • 1 teaspoon honey, orange blossom...or your own favorite
  • 1 teaspoon Colman's dry mustard
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • a hefty pinch of powdered ginger

The night before you want to serve this, combine garlic, star anise, fresh ginger, Szechuan peppercorns, 5-spice, tamari and plum wine in a gallon size zip top plastic bag. Squeeze out all the air, seal tightly and put it into a bowl that holds it snugly. (If it leaks, it won't be all over your fridge if it's in a bowl!)

The next day, take the duck out of the marinade and discard the marinade. Dry the duck thoroughly with paper towels. Pour the soda out of a soda can, add about 1/2 cup of plum wine, a hefty shake of granulated garlic, 1/2 t. - 1 t. cayenne, 1/2 t. mustard powder and 1 t. ginger. Yes, this will cook beer can chicken style! Fit the duck over the spice and wine filled can and carefully set aside.

Soak a combination of half cherry/half applewood chips for at least an hour. Prepare the smoker according to whatever smoker you use. When the coals are hot, scatter the chips.

Put the duck on the smoker and smoke for at least 6 hours - more or less according to your smoker and/or your preference. You know I'm loose about smoking instructions...every smoker is different! Remove the duck and let sit while you make the reduction.

REDUCTION (reDUCKtion?): In a saucepan combine 1 c. plum wine, the quartered plums, honey and spices. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to medium. Let simmer until the liquid reduces by half. Strain the reduction through a small strainer, pressing the solids to extract all the liquid.

Slice the duck and serve with the beautiful sauce. This would also be wonderful with a chicken...and there's a LOT more meat on a chicken! (A turkey breast would work well, too!)

Eastern Shore Crab Lump & 
Fried Green Tomato Benedict

  • 2 large green tomatoes, sliced into thick slabs
  • cornmeal, enough to dredge the tomatoes
  • Jane's Crazy Salt
  • canola oil, or use BACON personal fave! - enough to skim the bottom of the skillet & more for the 2nd batch

  • 2 large eggs, poached how you like them - I like mine runny!

  • 1/2 cup hollandaise sauce (see recipe below)

  • 1 cup Maryland blue crab, (or VA, LA or TX...just make sure it's REAL American crab and fresh in the plastic tubs, not pasteurized in cans (even if it's on ice and it's canned, it is NOT fresh crab!), nice BIG lumps! (Here in Pittsburgh, you can find FRESH, real blue crab right at Penn Avenue Fish Company on Penn Avenue in the Strip District. I'm a HUGE fan!)

Prepare hollandaise: This is the easy blender hollandaise...if it gets too thick, thin it with more lemon juice until it's the consistency you like. 

  • 3 egg yolks
  • pinch Kosher salt
  • pinch cayenne
  • 1 T. heavy cream
  • 2 sticks melted butter
  • juice of 1 lemon, more if you need it

In the jar of your blender, combine the yolks, Kosher salt, cayenne and heavy cream and buzz on high until well blended. While the blender is running, add the butter and finally the lemon juice. If it's too thick, add more lemon juice. That's it...easy!

Tomatoes: Heat canola oil in a big cast iron skillet - enough to skim the bottom. In the meantime, pour the cornmeal onto a paper plate and dredge the tomato slices on both sides. Season one side liberally with Jane's Crazy Salt.

When the oil is hot, add the tomatoes to the skillet. Brown on one side then turn them over and season the other side. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate and do the next batch. Set aside.

To plate: set a big fried green tomato slice on a plate, top with the poached egg, slather with hollandaise, top with crab lumps and enjoy!

P. S. You may have noticed only two of the fried green tomatoes were used for the eggs benedict, but I made lots more. Why? So you have extra fried green tomatoes to snack on! Yum.

Maple Chipotle Sweet & Spicy Smoked Pork Chops

  • 4 pork chops, 1" thick, bone-in, center cut loin chops

  • 4 tablespoons maple syrup, grade B, if you can find it
  • 3 tablespoons chipotle chiles in adobo, 1 small one, plus sauce to make 3 tablespoons, mashed well
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt

Mix the wet rub ingredients together well. Rub into the pork chops and put them into a ziplock plastic bag. Be sure to put ALL the rub in with the chops, squeeze out all the air and seal. Refrigerate overnight.

The next day, take the chops out to bring to room temp before putting on the smoker.

Prepare the smoker and soak the maple chips for 1/2-1 hour. When the smoker is to temp, put on the chips and the chops and smoke for 2-3 hours, depending on your own smoker - all smokers are different.

Sit back, relax and enjoy!

      Green Chile Pork Pozole - Crockpot-Style

  • 2 T. canola oil
  • 2 1/2 pound boneless pork loin roast, cubed, browned 

  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 tomatillos, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 jalapenos, seeds and ribs removed, finely diced
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 1 tablespoon granulated garlic
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 28-ounce can green enchilada sauce
  • 2 15 to 16 ounce cans hominy, drained

  • fresh cilantro
  • lime wedges

In a large, heavy skillet, brown pork in oil in 3 batches. Move each batch to the crockpot as it is done. Saute the veggies and seasonings in the oil left in the skillet until veggies are softened, add to crockpot. Add enchilada sauce to the skillet and stir up all the browned bits, getting ALL the good stuff off the bottom and into the sauce. Add to the crockpot along with the hominy.

Cover and cook on high for 2 hours, then low 6 to 8 hours or until pork is tender.

To serve: Ladle into soup bowls. Garnish with a squeeze of lime and a sprinkling of chopped fresh cilantro. 

Serve with cornbread.

6 servings. 


Grilled Apple, Bacon & Swiss 
Stuffed Chicken Breasts

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 cup onion, finely minced
  • 4 slices bacon, crisped & crumbled
  • 1/2 cup Swiss cheese, shredded
  • 1 tablespoon stoneground mustard
  • 1/3 cup Granny Smith or similar tart, crisp apple - peeled, cored, diced medium fine - still some chunkiness to them

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts - butterflied and opened like a book

Basting sauce:
  • 2 tablespoons stoneground mustard
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Heat a skillet over medium heat and melt butter. Add onion and saute until softened. Add the crisp crumbled bacon, chopped apple and mustard. Remove from heat and add cheese. Mix just to combine. Set aside.

Mix the basting sauce - mustard, honey, balsamic vinegar and salt and set aside.

Open the butterflied chicken breasts and evenly divide the stuffing among the breasts, firmly mounding the stuffing along the inside seam. Fold the breasts over the filling, compacting the filling as you go. Secure the edges with toothpicks to keep all the goodness inside.

Preheat the grill. Grill the breasts over indirect heat until each is thoroughly cooked all the way through, making sure the stuffing is cooked through, as well. Once the breasts are done, baste with sauce on both sides and grill until browned, but don't let them burn.


 Apple Caraway Sauerkraut Slaw

  • 4 cups store-bought coleslaw mix
  • 1/2 green pepper, slivered into 3/4" pieces
  • 3/4 cup store-bought sauerkraut
  • 1 small tart apple, skin on, cut into slivers

  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey - you know I like my organic orange blossom honey!
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon caraway seeds

Combine all the dressing ingredients. Set aside.

Combine all the slaw ingredients. Pour dressing over slaw. Mix very well. Serve.

That's it!

Pumpkin Spice Puppy Chow

  • 1/2 Stick Butter
  • 1 1/2 cup Trader Joe's cookie butter - or other cookie butter ( I just used the whole jar, and it was approx 1.5 cups) 
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 cups white chocolate chips
  • 1 17.9 box Crispix
  • 1 lb box powdered sugar
  • 1 1/2 - 2 cups Reese's Pieces

Melt butter in saucepan, add cookie butter and pumpkin pie spice; stir until smooth.  Add chips and stir until melted, then stir in vanilla. 

Using plastic trash bag or other VERY large clean plastic bag, put 1/2 box of powdered sugar in the bottom, then cereal, then cookie butter mixture and then the rest of the powdered sugar and Reese's Pieces.  Shake and knead the bag until cereal is well-coated; cool completely.  Store in an airtight container.

Enjoy until you pumpkin heart is content!

Chilled Fennel Leek Soup With Lemon

  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 4 cups leeks, sliced almost to stem end lengthwise into quarters, run under water while fanning out the leaves, being sure to wash all sand and dirt from top to bottom - pat dry and slice across into about 1/4" pieces - I used 3 leeks
  • 4 cups fennel bulbs - remove the stalks and fronds, remove any tough outer layers, slice in half lengthwise and cut into slivers - I used 3 medium bulbs - be sure to reserve the fronds for garnishes and other uses
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 2 quarts chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt

  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1 cup potato flakes, be sure it's a gluten-free brand to make this GF (Why potato flakes? They thicken the soup without using of my favorite tricks for thickening soups and still keeping it gluten-free!)
  • 1/16 teaspoon nutmeg
  • Tabasco sauce, just a couple drops or so for zing
  • 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon chicken soup base - similar to bouillon, but not as salty
  • 1 teaspoon fennel pollen, plus more for garnish

In a large, heavy soup pot, melt the butter, then add the leeks, fennel and garlic. Cook and stir over low until the veggies are very soft. Add the stock, bring to boil and lower to a simmer. Cover and cook until the veggies are VERY soft. Remove from heat.

Cool slightly, then buzz with a stick blender until smooth. Check the bottom of the stick blender occasionally. If the bottom gets clogged with fibers from the veggies, pull them out and discard them. I had to do that a couple of times.

Once the soup is smooth, return to low heat and add the half & half, potato flakes, nutmeg, Tabasco, soup base and fennel pollen. Stir well with a whisk or wooden spoon. - you don't need the stick blender here! Refrigerate overnight.

The next day, adjust the seasonings - add salt only if necessary. Whisk well and ladle into bowls if you're serving the soup chilled. Warm it up if you want it hot...your decision...both equally yum!

If serving chilled, garnish with a fennel frond or chopped fennel, a pinch of fennel pollen and a squeeze of lemon. Enjoy!

NOTE: If you want the soup extra silky and creamy, after pureeing the soup with the stick blender, put the soup through a food mill. I don't think it's necessary...I like a bit of texture!

NOTE 2: If you use vegetable stock in place of chicken stock, you've got a vegetarian soup!NOTE 3: You can get fennel pollen online at Gourmet Delights. LOVE this site! (That's where I get my truffle salt, too!)

The Cowboy and the Dude
Coffee-Rubbed Smoked Babybacks

  • 1/4 cup ground maple cinnamon coffee (I get mine at Nicholas Coffee in Market Square) - if you can't get maple cinnamon, use a similar flavored coffee...pecan cinnamon, pumpkin get the idea, DUDE coffee!
  • 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon Colmans mustard powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chipotle chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt

  • 1 rack babyback pork ribs, silverskin removed (check online for a method to perform this maneuver...Google's easy, but complicated to describe)

In a small bowl, mix all rub ingredients well - I mash mine together with a fork. 

Massage 1/2 of the rub into one side of the ribs, the other half on the other side of the ribs. Do this at least 4 hours before or overnight. Wrap them well in plastic wrap.

The next day, bring them to room temp and set the oven to 325 degrees. 

Take the plastic wrap off the ribs, rewrap them in heavy duty aluminum foil and seal well. Put the foil-wrapped ribs into a large roasting pan or rimmed cookie sheet that will comfortably hold the ribs. Cook for 3 hours or until tender, just shy of falling off the bone. Remove from oven; open the foil, exposing the ribs completely.

Raise the oven temp to 400 degrees, put the ribs back in and let 'er rip for half an hour. Cowboy campfire goodness from the oven. YeeHAW!

Autumn Pot Roasted Lemon, Fennel and 
Garlic Chicken

  • 5-6 pound roasting chicken

  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
  • 1/4 cup fennel, fronds only, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon fennel pollen - see below for link to buy this magical stuff!
  • zest of one lemon - then juice and reserve the naked lemon - set the juice aside

  • 1 leek, sliced in half lengthwise, washed thoroughly and sliced across into 1/2" pieces
  • 1 fennel bulb, stalks cut off and reserved, stem end cut off, bulb cut in half lengthwise and sliced across
  • 1 garlic bulb, Separated into cloves, peeled and smashed, make 2 piles of the smashed garlic
  • 1 1/2 pounds red potatoes, small ones - cut in half if larger

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Remove the guts from a whole roasting chicken - rinse in cold water and dry well with paper towels. Set aside.

Fennel garlic butter: Put the softened butter, fennel, lemon zest, garlic, kosher salt & pepper and fennel pollen into the bowl of a food processor. Process until well combined, stopping and pushing the contents down as necessary. Set butter aside.

Pile the leeks, half the garlic cloves and sliced fennel bulb into the bottom of a covered roaster or enameled cast iron Dutch oven. (I use a deep oval one that holds the chicken perfectly.)

Loosen the skin on the breast of the chicken by gently running your fingers between the flesh and the skin to loosen - be gentle so the skin doesn't tear. Rub about 2-3 T. of the fennel butter under the skin on one side of the breast and do the same with another 2-3 T. of the butter (more or less) on the other side. Rub what's left of the butter over the outside of the bird all over the breast and legs. Squeeze the lemon you used for the lemon zest over top of all.

Roast the chicken UNcovered at 450 for 30 minutes. Add the potatoes all around the chicken, put the lid on, lower the temperature to 350 degrees and roast another hour. Remove lid and continue roasting until the chicken is lightly browned. 

Let rest. Remove chicken from pot onto a large serving platter, lift the veggies out with a slotted spoon and arrange them around the chicken. Carve and serve!

NOTE: Want more veggies? Feel free to add carrots, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, onions...whatever strikes your fancy. It's a pot roast! There aren't many rules where pot roasts are concerned now, are there? 

 Corncake Chorizo Stuffed Acorn Squash

  • 2 acorn squashes, halved, seeds scraped out

  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup masa harina, I prefer yellow
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cups creamed corn (that's a 14.75 ounce can)
  • 1/4 cup cornmeal, I prefer yellow
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder

  • 1 chorizo link, removed from casing, crumbled and browned well

Squash: Spray the inside of the cut squashes with vegetable or olive oil. Bake cut side down at 400 degrees for 40 minutes or until a knife pierces easily, but not to a mushy mess, please! Remove from oven and let cool before filling and baking again.

Corncake: Beat the butter with the masa harina. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well until completely incorporated.

Assembly: Fill the insides of the squash with the corncake mixture. (Leftover corncake mixture? Butter the insides of small ramekins, fill and bake alongside the squashes. You may need to remove the ramekins from the oven before the squash, so watch them carefully.) 

Sprinkle on the crumbled chorizo and bake at 375 degrees for approximately 45 minutes or until the corncake is baked through. Remove from oven and enjoy!

NOTE: This would really make a lovely, light dinner on its own with a side salad or fresh veggies!

 Pumpkin, Sage, Sausage and Leek 
Stuffed Flank Steak
  • 1 small pie pumpkin, peeled, seeded, diced and roasted - about 1 cup after roasting (see below)

  • 1 large flank steak, pick one that is thick so your butcher or YOU can cut a pocket into it...a thin one is harder to cut without breaking through

  • 1/4 pound sage sausage, crumbled and browned
  • 10 small sage , fresh leaves, chopped

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup leeks (1 small), finely chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, WITH leaves - lots of them, finely chopped
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
  • 2 slices white bread, a good firm white bread like Pepperidge Farm  (to make this gluten-free, use a good firm white gluten-free bread like Whole Foods GF white bread)

To roast pumpkin: Peel the pumpkin with a vegetable peeler, cut in half and scoop out the seeds and guts. Cut the pumpkin flesh into small dice. Spray a rimmed baking sheet with olive oil, spread out the cubed pumpkin, sprinkle with salt and pepper, spray well with olive oil. Bake at 400 degrees for about half an hour. Remove from oven and cover with foil - return to oven for another 10-15 minutes. Remove and cool.

Flank steak: If you can, buy a flank steak with the pocket already cut. If you can't find one WITH the pocket, ask the butcher to cut one for a last resort, do it yourself. Starting at a narrow end, using a VERY sharp knife, slowly and CAREFULLY cut little by little down through the center of the steak being careful not to let the knife pierce through to the outside. Once you have a hollow steak, set it aside to make the stuffing.

Stuffing: In a skillet, crumble and brown the sausage well. When it's browned, add the fresh chopped sage and saute briefly. Remove and set aside. In the same skillet, melt the butter and saute the leeks, celery and onion until softened. Don't brown them, just soften them. Add poultry seasoning. Let cool and add the roasted pumpkin. Crumble the bread and mix everything well.

Assembly: Lightly pack the stuffing into the pocket of the flank steak. If necessary, secure the opening with toothpicks to keep the stuffing inside. Salt and pepper the top of the steak and put into a roasting pan sprayed with olive oil.

Roast the stuffed flank steak in a 375 degree oven for 45 minutes to an hour until well-browned and the stuffing is hot inside. Let rest and slice to serve.

Penne with Tomato Basil Cream 
(Gluten-free option, too!)

  • 2 Italian sausage links, a nice sweet variety WITH fennel...mmmmmm

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup red onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled, smashed and sliced
  • 5 basil leaves, fresh - julienned - plus additional for garnish
  • 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 quart chopped tomatoes, jarred or canned - get the good ones...San Marzano!
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste, love the stuff in the waste like what's leftover in those itty bitty cans
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream, or use half & half
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, plus additional for serving - you know I want you to use the good stuff...Parmigiano Reggiano - worth every penny

  • 1 pound penne pasta, cooked al dente, drained well - to make this gluten-free, use a GOOD GF pasta like Jillian's or BiAglut

While you're making the sauce, saute the sausages until beautifully browned and cooked through

Tomato Basil Cream: Melt butter and olive oil together in a skillet, then add the onion, garlic, basil, red pepper flakes & salt. Cook slowly until the veggies are soft. Add the tomatoes & tomato paste, stir well, bring to a boil, reduce heat & simmer until gorgeous.

Bring out your stick blender once the sauce has come together nicely and give the sauce a nice whirl until all the veggies are pureed and you have a nice smooth sauce. Add the cream and the parm...stir until the parm is melted into the sauce and smooth. Taste, adjust seasonings and you're ready to dress your cooked pasta.

After your penne is cooked and drained, return it to the pot you cooked it in. Ladle enough sauce over the pasta to coat the pasta without OVERsaucing it. It should be kissed by sauce, not swimming it it. 

Slice the sausages. Plate the pasta, arrange the sausage around the plate, garnish with additional slivered fresh basil and additional parm, if you wish. 

Easy dinner, great leftovers!

Traditional Old Bay Maryland Crab Salad

  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise, Hellman's or Kraft - NOTHING else!
  • 1 teaspoon Old Bay Seafood seasoning - NOTHING else!
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 2 tablespoons celery, very finely diced
  • 1 1/2 cups crab, NOT pasteurized in a can. Look for the plastic tub that says it's FROM (not just packaged in) Maryland, Virginia, Louisiana, Texas and that it's blue crab. When you see blue "swimmer" crab, that's imported inferior crab. Beware.

  • 4 tomatoes, quartered - If it isn't summer and local tomatoes aren't available, look for heirloom tomatoes, Ugly tomatoes or Campari tomatoes. For off-season, they have some pretty good summer-like flavor.
  • 8 slices bacon, cooked crisp - a good thick-sliced bacon is best in my opinion...peppered bacon is awesome!
  • Romaine lettuce, as many leaves as you need to make the plate pretty
  • fresh basil leaves, chiffonaded - just a few, just for a little bright, herb-y goodness against the tomato and to make it pretty!

Pick gently through the crab, removing any shell or cartilage you might fine. (In my opinion, if you find a little shell it's just proof that it's REAL crab! No big deal.) As you pick, put the crab into a big bowl.

In a small separate bowl, mix the mayo, Old Bay, lemon and celery well. Pour the mixture over the crab and GENTLY fold the dressing into the crab. Try to keep those expensive, beautiful lumps as whole as you can!

Lay lettuce leaves (say that 10 times fast) on a plate, cross 2 slices of bacon on top, arrange the tomato quarters on top of the bacon, mound the crab salad in the center and garnish with the basil.

Of course this is amazing on good bread, too!
Now put on your shades, the soundtrack of waves crashing onto your favorite beach, then sit back and pretend. Ahhhhhhh, that's better, isn't it?

Black Mission Fig and Ginger Pecan Baked Oatmeal

  • 2 1/2 cups oatmeal, certified gf to make this gluten-free!
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1 cup dried figs, Black Mission figs are my fave, quartered lengthwise
  • 1/2 cup pecans, roughly chopped
  • 3 tablespoons crystallized ginger, diced small if it didn't come that way already
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 1/3 cups skim milk
  • 4 egg whites, lightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350.  Spray 8" glass baking dish with Pam.  Mix all the dry ingredients in large bowl.  In medium bowl, combine the wet ingredients.  Add wet ingredients to dry and mix well.

Pour mixture into dish sprayed with Pam, bake for 55-60 minutes or until center is set and firm to touch. 

Serve as is or with some yogurt on top...maybe a few berries, too! Oh...and I love that it make a good amount so you have an instant breakfast for a few days...IF you and the fam don't scarf it up!

Thanksgiving Meatloaf

  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, WITH lots of leaves, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 6 ounces turkey breakfast sausage, got mine at Whole Foods...LOVE this stuff!

  • 3 pounds ground turkey (white meat)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 medium sweet potato, peeled and shredded (about 1 cup)
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored, small dice - I used a Granny Smith
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries, chopped coarsely
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or more if you wish...I like MORE
  • 5 tablespoons poultry seasoning
  • 3 slices white bread, crumbled coarsely - a good firm white bread like Pepperidge Farm - to make this gluten free, I used Whole Foods Light White bread that has a similar texture and firmness to Pepperidge Farm - LOVE this GF bread!

In a skillet, melt the butter and add celery and onion. Saute until they start to soften. Add the sausage, crumbling well as it cooks. When it is cooked through, add salt, pepper and poultry seasoning, mixing well. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

In a BIG bowl, mix the ground turkey, eggs, cranberries, sweet potatoes, apple, salt, pepper and crumbled bread. Add the cooled (not cold) onion/celery mixture and mix thoroughly with your hands until the meatloaf mixture is evenly mixed.

If you wish, mound mixture into individual large foil muffin cups. If you do this, bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. I made 6 muffin cups and made 2 loaves out of the remaining mixture. I baked the meatloaves for 1 1/2 hours at 350 degrees.

Let sit for about 5 minutes after removing from oven before slicing the meatloaves.

Just like a complete Thanksgiving dinner in a meatloaf - turkey, stuffing, cranberries and sweet potatoes...YUM!

Decadent Artichokes With Garlic Lemon Aioli

  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 2 lemons, zest half of one and set aside, juice both lemons
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 2 artichokes, large, nice firm, full and green with no dry spots
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • 1 cup water

Prepare the artichokes by snipping the spiky ends of each leaf off with a pair of scissors. Next, carefully cut approximately 1" off the top of each artichoke and rub with a cut lemon to stop it from oxidizing. Finally, using a teaspoon or a grapefruit spoon (this works best of all!), scrape out all the tiny inner leaves and the "choke," being sure to get all the fuzzies out of the inside all the way down to the bottom.

In a saucepan just big enough to hold 2 artichokes snugly, add water and the smashed garlic cloves. Add prepared artichokes to the pot along with the lemon slices and onion slices. Bring the water to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and let steam 25 minutes to half an hour or until the tip of a knife slides into the bottom easily. 

Remove from heat, take the artichokes out of the pot and let drain and cool slightly. While the artichokes are steaming, make the aioli.

Add the 4 peeled and smashed cloves of garlic to a blender along with the egg and lemon zest. Whirl until smooth, scraping down as necessary. Through the hole in the top of the blender, add olive oil in a thin stream while the blender is running. Add the salt and then add lemon juice until the mixture is the consistency you like for dipping.

To serve this I like to plate the artichoke and pour the aioli into the center of each...that's why we hollowed out the centers! Garnish with a little tarragon or other pretty green herb like thyme or even parsley and serve!

 Jalapeno Cheese Grits and Sunnyside Eggs
  • 3 tablespoons butter, plus 2 more to finish the dish
  • 1/2 large jalapeno chile pepper, seeds and ribs removed, finely diced
  • 1 cup yellow grits, coarse ground is my fave (wish this Yankee had access to some authentically legendary Southern grits)
  • 2 cups chicken broth, I like unsalted to control the saltiness...especially when using cheese in grits
  • 1 cup heavy cream, or half and half
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, I used a Mexican blend cheese with cheddar, colby and hot pepper jack cheeses
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons Tabasco sauce, the GREEN variety - plus additional to garnish
  • Tabasco sauce, the CHIPOTLE variety to garnish

  • some pretty, sunnyside up fried eggs

Melt 3 T of the butter in the bottom of a deep saucepan - a deep one helps keep the bubbling grits from decorating your stovetop! 

Add the diced jalapeno and cook a minute or 2 to soften. Add the broth and the cream and bring to a boil. Slowly add the grits in a steady stream continuously whisking like mad. Use a long handled whisk to prevent being hit by the bubbling grits as they cook. Boil and stir for about a minute, then lower heat to medium low and continue whisking until they are thick and silky...maybe 15-20 minutes. Be patient, the stirring is worth it. Seriously.

Stir in the rest of the butter and incorporate completely. Add the cheese and 1 1/2 T. of the GREEN Tabasco; stir in thoroughly. Taste and add salt to taste, if needed.

Set the grits aside, fry up eggs - I like mine with a runny yolk to make the grits even better than they already are! Spoon the grits into a shallow bowl, set the sunnyside up eggs on top, add a few dollops of green Tabasco and a few of chipotle Tabasco and serve!

P.S. I'd enjoy these for dinner in a heartbeat!

Kahiki Kona Tiki Ribs

  • 1/4 cup ground Kona coffee (I get mine at Nicholas Coffee in Market Square) - a much less expensive Hawaiian variety called Cantui Red is FABULOUS!
  • 1/4 cup toasted almonds, finely ground in the food processor - caution, don't let it go too long or you'll have almond butter!
  • 2 tablespoons demerara sugar
  • 1 teaspoon powdered ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • zest of 1 lime
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh gingerroot 
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt

  • 1 rack babyback pork ribs, silverskin removed (check online for a method to perform this maneuver...Google's easy, but complicated to describe)

In a small bowl, mix all rub ingredients well - I mash mine together with a fork. 

Massage 1/2 of the rub into one side of the ribs, the other half on the other side of the ribs. Do this at least 4 hours before or overnight. Wrap them well in plastic wrap.

The next day, bring them to room temp and set the oven to 325 degrees. 

Take the plastic wrap off the ribs, rewrap them in heavy duty aluminum foil and seal well. Put the foil-wrapped ribs into a large roasting pan or rimmed cookie sheet that will comfortably hold the ribs. 

Cook for 3 hours or until tender, just shy of falling off the bone. Remove from oven; open the foil, exposing the ribs completely.

Raise the oven temp to 400 degrees, put the ribs back in and let 'er rip for half an hour. 

NOTE: I made 3 racks of babyback and they disappeared in a flash!

NOTE 2: Costco has absolutely GORGEOUS babybacks - SO meaty - packed 3 racks to a pack. These are the meatiest, tenderest, most wonderful babybacks I've ever had. And reasonably priced!

Coconut Lime Chicken Sticks 
with Pineapple Coconut Lime Dipping Sauce

  • 3 chicken breasts, sliced lengthwise into long, narrow sticks

  • 1/2 cup panko, breadcrumbs - I get gluten free ones at Soergels to make this GF
  • 2 limes, zested and juiced, reserve the juice
  • 1 cup coconut flakes, toasted in a 300 degree oven until golden - watch closely so it doesn't burn - cool
  • 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt

  • 1/3 cup coconut cream, Yes, the thick, gloppy stuff you use to make Pina Coladas - GREAT for making a marinade that STICKS!
  • 1/2 of the juice you reserved above
  • 1/4 cup hot sauce, Busha Browne's Pukka Sauce is what I use - get it at Reyna's in the Strip District...AMAZING stuff and perfect for this recipe!
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic

  • coconut oil, you'll need both the solid oil AND a coconut oil spray - my fave spray is from Trader Joe's and fave solid is from Costco

Mix up the breading and set aside - panko through Kosher salt.

Mix the marinade - coconut cream through granulated garlic. Reserve 1/4 cup of the marinade.  In a large bowl or large plastic zip top bag, toss the remaining marinade and chicken strips together and refrigerate for 4 hours or even overnight.

When ready to bake, turn the oven to 450 degrees. Put the breading mixture into a large bowl and a toss few strips at a time in the dredge, coating well. Set aside onto a sheet of plastic wrap or foil. 

Once the chicken is all coated, put a lump - maybe 2 T. - of coconut oil onto a large baking sheet WITH A RIM(!!!!) or 2. Put them into the oven just to melt the oil. Then lay the chicken sticks onto the oiled RIMMED baking sheets leaving room between for browning. Spray the tops with coconut oil spray to ensure browning and crisping. 

Bake for 20 minutes on one side, turn each to the other side and continue baking until crisp and browned...maybe another 10 minutes - watch carefully. Remove from oven.

Sauce: At some point during marinating or baking, make the sauce. Mix together the reserved marinade (that you DID NOT marinate the chicken in!), 1 T. white vinegar, the juice of the other lime still remaining from above, 1 small can of crushed pineapple (drained WELL...almost to dry), 1 t. granulated garlic and 1 t. salt. Taste and adjust seasonings. This is a perfect balance to the chicken.

I love to serve the sauce in a hollowed out half pineapple shell with the fresh pineapple chunks alongside and the top as a pretty platter garnish!

 Slow Cooker Italian Sausage, Chicken & Veggie Stew

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 3 sweet Italian sausage links
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • granulated garlic, to taste

  • 1 small red pepper, seeded, 1/2" dice
  • 1 small green pepper, seeded, 1/2" dice
  • 1/2 large red onion, cut into slivers approx 1/4" wide
  • 1 small yellow squash, cut in half lengthwise and across into 1/4" slices
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 2 cups spinach, torn
  • 1 large eggplant, cubed
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
  • 2 teaspoons oregano, dried

  • 1 1/2 cups marinara sauce, your favorite store-bought brand
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste

  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch

Heat oil in a heavy skillet. Season chicken with salt, pepper and granulated garlic to taste. Brown the chicken breasts and sausages until just cooked through. Remove from pan and set aside. Leave the drippings in the skillet and set aside.

Add the veggies to a large slow cooker. Slice the chicken across the grain, slice the sausages into 1 1/2" pieces and mix into the veggies in the crock. Any juices that may have accumulated from slicing the meats, add them to the skillet.

To the skillet, add the marinara sauce to the pan juices, add water and tomato paste and stir up all the brown bits over low heat. Pour over the meats and veggies in the crock and mix gently.

Cover and turn heat to high for an hour. After the hour, turn the slow cooker down to low and cook for another 5 hours. When ready to serve, mix the water and cornstarch together and stir gently but thoroughly into the meats and veggies to thicken the sauce. Serve as is as a stew or over pasta or spaghetti squash.

One dish dinner, baby!

Turkey - Or Chicken - Pot Pie Soup 

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 2 shallots, large ones, peeled, fine dice
  • 3 stalks celery, ends cut off, cut across into 1" pieces
  • 3 large carrots, peeled, cut across into 1/2" pieces - I used 2 bright orange and 1 pretty yellow one
  • 1 1/2 pounds red potatoes, small ones, cut in half
  • 1/4 pound green beans, fresh, cut into 1 1/2" pieces - I like the small ones the French call haricots verte...mmmmm
  • 1 zucchini, about an 8" one, ends cut off, cut in half lengthwise, then cut across into 1/2" slices
  • 2 cups turkey, leftover, in big pieces
  • 1/4 cup flour, I used Jules gluten-free all-purpose flour to make this GF
  • 1 tablespoon poultry seasoning
  • 2 tablespoons chicken bouillon granules, I use Better Than Boullion brand chicken base - SO much better than boullion...the name doesn't lie!
  • 1 gallon chicken stock, homemade or bought - use a GOOD low salt version if you buy it

  • 1 cup frozen peas

  • 1 pie crust  (9 inch), Roll it out onto a Silpat, bake as directed, remove from oven and cool. Break or cut into 8 pieces to top each bowl of soup with. OR bake your own favorite crust and bake on a Silpat. I made a GF crust using the classic Crisco recipe using GF flour.

In a large stockpot, melt the butter and add all the veggies. Stir and cook until they start to get tender. Add the turkey (or chicken!) and stir. Sprinkle the flour (GF to make this GF!) and poultry seasoning over the top and stir into the veggie/turkey mixture well. 

Add stock slowly, stirring until well incorporated; add the chicken base, stir well again. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, stir up from the bottom making sure the bottom isn't sticking, then cover and let cook until the veggies are completely tender. Remove from heat.

While the soup is cooking, make the crust. I use the classic Crisco recipe using Jules GF flour. Here's the recipe, use regular flour if you don't have the gluten issue to deal with!(SINGLE CRUST

  • 1 1/3 cups gluten-free flour blend OR regular flour if gluten isn't an issue
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 stick well-chilled Crisco
  • 1/4 cup well-chilled unsalted butter
  • 3 to 6 tablespoons ice cold water

Pulse flour and salt in the bowl of your food processor.Add Crisco and butter to processor bowl and pulse until there are pea-sized pieces in the bowl.Sprinkle half the water into the bowl and pulse. If it starts to come together into a ball, sprinkle another tablespoon over the top and continue until the ball forms - DON'T over process! If you still need more water, add just enough until the ball forms. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for half an hour.Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Remove dough from the fridge, center it onto a Silpat or parchment paper covered baking sheet and roll it out thinly into a circle - use flour (GF if you're making a gluten-free crust) on the rolling pin to help keep the dough from sticking. Prick the dough all over with a fork and bake 10-15 minutes or until lightly browned. (The gluten-free crust may not brown well, so you may want to make an egg wash and brush it on the crust ti help brown it.) Remove from oven, let cool and break or cut into large pieces to garnish the soup and make it pot pie-ish!)

Just before serving, stir the frozen peas into the soup just to warm them through. That way you have fresh tasting, bright green peas that pop instead of being mushy.

To serve, ladle the soup into bowls, garnish with pieces of pie crust and serve!

Sweet & Smoky Chipotle Toffee Nuts
  • 3 tablespoons peanut oil, or canola
  • 3/4 cup whole raw almonds
  • 3/4 cup whole cashews
  • 3/4 cup whole hazelnuts
  • 3/4 cup whole pistachio meats - buy them already shelled or enlist the kids to help
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chipotle powder
  • 1 lime, zested - save the lime and juice for a margarita to go with!
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

Heat oil in a heavy skillet (cast iron) over medium-high heat.  Add the nuts and sprinkle with 1/2 cup sugar.  Saute until the almonds become golden brown and the sugar caramelizes, stirring constantly.

Remove nuts from the pan and toss in a bowl with the salt, cumin, chipotle, lime zest and remaining sugar.  Immediately spread over foil to cool.  When your nuts are cool, break them up using two forks.  Store in airtight container. 

NOTE: These go really well with a good Mexican beer or even a margarita on the rocks...that one's MY choice!

Chipotle Maple Bacon Roasted Chicken 
With Winter Veggies

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 2" cubes
  • 20 Brussels sprouts (or more if you wish!), trimmed and cut in half - or quarters if they're large...I'd recommend small ones, though.
  • 2 cups butternut squash, get the already peeled, seeded and cubed butternut in the plastic containers...SO much easier!
  • 1 large red onion, peeled and cut into wedges
  • 1/2 bulb garlic, skins removed, smashed gently (about 15 cloves all together)
  • 4 slices THICK sliced PEPPERED bacon, cut across into 1/2" pieces
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to your taste

  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup, Grade B real maple syrup!
  • 1/2  teaspoons chipotle powder - use less of you'd like less heat, more if you'd like more heat
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • zest of 1 orange save the rest of the orange for a salad or for juice for something else (cocktail perhaps?)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Mix the glaze ingredients together - maple syrup, chipotle powder, granulated garlic and orange zest. Set aside.

Spray a large, shallow baking dish (a lasagna pan or large oval dish abut the same size is perfect!) with olive oil. Toss the chicken and all the veggies together and spread out in the baking dish. Add a good sprinkling of Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Scatter the bacon pieces over top and drizzle with the glaze.

Roast uncovered for about an hour or until the bacon is done and the top is nicely browned and the veggies are tender, but not overcooked. Soup's on!

Asian-ish Thai-ish Chicken Lettuce Wraps 
                                  With Peanut Sauce


  • 2 chicken breasts, minced in the food processor - don't overprocess into a paste! (method: cube still slightly frozen chicken and process in short pulses until it's a coarse, nice sized mince)
  • 2 green onions, sliced well into the green
  • 1 carrot, peeled, julienned
  • 3/4 ounce Mei Fun rice noodles, crushed
  • 1/4 c. water
  • 1/4 water chestnuts, finely chopped
  • 2 T soy sauce - or wheat free tamari if gluten is an issue
  • 1 T chili oil
  • 2 t. sesame oil 

  • 2 T. rice wine vinegar
  • 2 T. sugar
  • 2 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 t. grated fresh ginger + the juice that accumulates under the grater
  • 3 T. wheat free tamari
  • 1 t. chili oil
  • 1 t. dark sesame oil

  • 1T peanut oil


  • 6 T. shredded carrot
  • 4 T. thinly sliced green onion
  • 4 T. finely diced seedless cucumber
  • 2 very small cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 T. thinly slivered red bell pepper
  • 2 T. cilantro, minced
  • reserved marinade from above
  • 2 (or so - taste before adding more) T water


  • 3 T. lime juice
  • 2 t. fish sauce
  • 2 t. soy sauce or wheat free tamari if gluten is an issue
  • 1 t. sesame oil
  • 2 t. sugar
  • 2 t. water
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 T peanut butter


  • finely chopped dry roasted peanuts
  • finely chopped cilantro

  • Bibb, small Romaine or leaf lettuce leaves - you know, small and flexible lettuce!

Marinade: Make marinade for chicken of rice wine vinegar through dark sesame oil. Stir well. Set aside 2 T. of the marinade and add the minced chicken to the remaining marinade. Refrigerate a couple of hours or so - overnight even.

Filling: Heat peanut oil in skillet. When it's good and hot, chicken by batches and brown. Remove each batch to a plate as it's done. When all the chicken is done, return it - and ALL the juices - to the skillet and add water chestnuts, noodles, green onion and carrot. Add the rest of the filling ingredients, stir well and taste - adjust seasonings as necessary. 

Salad: In a medium bowl, toss together the shredded carrot, green onion, cucumber, garlic, red pepper and cilantro. Add reserved marinade mixed with water - taste the sauce and adjust as necessary. Set aside.

Sauce: Whisk the sauce ingredients well - taste & adjust. Set aside.

To serve: Plate a pile of lettuce leaves, a bowl of chicken, the shredded salad and the sauce. On a lettuce leaf, put a spoon of filling, a spoon of salad, drizzle with sauce and garnish with peanuts and cilantro. Roll and enjoy!

Brussels Sprouts Salad 
With Pecorino, Dates & Hazelnuts

  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, bottoms trimmed, sliced very thinly on a mandoline
  • 1/2 c. Pecorino Romano, shaved
  • 1/4 c. Medjool dates, pitted and diced
  • 1/3 c. hazelnuts, toasted and skins mostly rubbed off in a kitchen towel
  • 3 T. butter, browned - NOT burned
  • 1/3 c. GOOD sherry vinegar
  • 1 1/2 t. Kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 t. sugar

Toss the shaved sprouts, cheese, dates and hazelnuts in a large bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together the browned butter, sherry vinegar, salt, pepper and sugar well.

Pour the vinaigrette over the salad, toss well. Serve.
Stand back and wait for compliments!

Black Beans and Rice 
With Chunky Avocado Salsa and Crispy Plantains

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large onions, peeled and chopped
  • 1 large green pepper, seeds removed, diced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh garlic, minced
  • 3 cans black beans, drained
  • 1 cup chicken stock - a good store bought one is just fine
  • 1 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 ½ t. salt
  • pepper to taste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups cooked rice (white, black, red, brown - or whatever cooked rice you have tucked in the back of your fridge) (confession....I used Trader Joe's frozen brown rice - so good, so easy!)

In a large pot, add 2 T. olive oil and heat. Add the chopped onions and green pepper. Saute until soft, add garlic and cook another 2 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add the drained black beans and stir into veggies. Cook another 10 minutes to meld flavors.Add chicken stock, vinegar, bay leaf and red pepper flakes. Bring to a boil, lower heat immediately. Cover and simmer about half an hour or until it’s not too runny, not too dry. If it’s too runny/soupy, let some of the liquid cook off; if it’s too dry, add more stock. Mash slightly with potato masher to thicken a little. Taste and adjust seasonings.

To serve: Ladle beans into individual bowls, top with a good scoop of  rice and crown with avocado salad and a sprinkling of cilantro. Serve with fried plantains.

Avocado Salad

  • 1 avocado, seeded and cut into ½” cubes
  • ½ cup quartered yellow grape tomatoes - I bought the heirloom kind with nearly all the colors of the rainbow!
  • 1 small garlic clove, finely minced or pressed 
  • 1/2 t. finely minced jalapeno
  • 3 T freshly squeezed lime juice
  • ½ t. salt
  • 1 T olive oil or avocado oil
  • 1 T finely minced cilantro - or more if you really like cilantro...I do!

Mix lime juice, salt, oil and cilantro well. Set aside. Mix the avocado, tomatoes, garlic and jalapeno well. Pour dressing over, mix and serve.

Fried Plantains

  • 2 plantains, cut across into 1 ½” sections
  • canola oil

Heat oil in a heavy skillet. Saute plantain sections on each side until browned. Remove from skillet to paper towels. (You can do this earlier in the day.) 

When you’re ready to eat, heat oil in skillet again. Put in each precooked section and smash it down with a spatula to flat disks. Brown and turn over to brown on the other side. Remove to paper towels again and salt immediately. Serve.

Almond Pecorino & Mushroom Chicken With Wine 

  • 1 C almond meal 
  • 1/2 C pecorino Romano cheese, freshly grated

  • 2 T canola oil
  • 3 T butter 
  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced across the width of the breast almost all the way through and open like a book (If yours come apart, so what? No biggie.)
  • 8 ounces mushrooms
  • 3 T butter
  • 1 C white wine - Chardonnay was the Two Buck Chuck choice of the day!

First, in a sturdy plastic bag, mix the pecorino and almond meal. Set aside. Season the chicken with Kosher salt on both sides, put them into the bag and gently turn and coat the chicken with the breading. Remove the chicken to sheets of wax paper and pat any remaining breading onto the breasts.

In a large skillet, heat canola oil and 3 T butter until good and hot. Gently lay the chicken in the skillet and brown well on both sides until both sides are crispy. Don't let them burn. Remove chicken to a platter and set aside.

Add the remaining 3 T butter to the pan and melt. Add the mushrooms and let cook for a minute or two; add the wine and stir well until the sauce is slightly thickened. Because the cheesy breadcrumbs are in the pan, the sauce will be rustic...that's a good thing! 

*NOTE: Not sure what a frico is? Simply a pile of grated cheese - my fave is parm or pecorino - fried in a skillet or baked in the oven until crisp and crunchy.

Elvis Protein Bars

  • 1 1/4 C dry-roasted unsalted peanuts
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1 2/3 C Muscle Pharm Combat Protein, Banana flavor (4 scoops)
  • 2 C oats - I used certified gluten-free oats to make these GF (for my mom)
  • 1 very ripe banana
  • 1 heaping t cinnamon 
  • 1/3 C plus a smidge more of REAL maple syrup
  • 8 slices bacon, cooked very crisp (but not burned!), crumbled
  • 1/3 C dark chocolate chips - again, use gluten-free chips if you're making these GF

Put 1 cup of the peanuts and the salt into a food processor and process until it becomes peanut butter (this takes a few minutes - be will happen). 

Add protein powder, oats, banana, cinnamon and maple syrup to food processor and mix with short pulses until it comes together into a dough-like consistency. If it's too crumbly, add a bit more maple syrup, if it's too sticky, add a bit more oats (the size of the banana can be a factor in this part). Fold half of the bacon into the mixture until mixed in evenly.

Take an 8" X 8" baking pan and line with parchment paper. Press the protein bar mixture into the pan evenly.

Chop the 1/4 cup of remaining peanuts coarsely and sprinkle over top of the protein bars, then sprinkle remaining bacon on top of that. Gently press the peanuts and bacon into the top of the protein bars.

Melt chocolate chips in the microwave and drizzle over the protein bars. Place the pan in the fridge for 20 minutes to set. Once they are set, cut into 10 bars.

Nutrition Per Bar: 277 calories, 28 carbs, 12 g fat, 18 grams protein, 182 mg sodium, 11 g sugar

                          Jalapeno Chipotle Pork Chops 
with Tomato Quinoa

  • 2 T canola oil
  • 4 nice sized, thick, bone-in pork chops - I like center cut loin chops
  • Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 large jalapeno, cut in half lengthwise, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 2 cans fire roasted tomatoes, UNdrained
  • 1 t dried oregano
  • 1 t cumin
  • 1/2 t dried basil
  • 3/4 t chipotle powder (seriously, if you haven't gotten yourself a bottle of this smoky wonder-spice, get ON it!)
  • 1 1/2 C quinoa - rinse well in a sieve under running water before adding to the skillet
  • a 12 oz bottle or can of your favorite beer - gluten-free, of course, to make this GF
  • 1 C roasted corn kernels (if you're roasting these yourself, dry fry in a skillet or buy already roasted corn in the freezer section of Trader Joe's (yep...MY choice!)
  • a handful of fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

In a large skillet (I use my trusty electric skillet), heat the oil. Season the chops liberally with salt and pepper and brown them on both sides. 

Meanwhile, in a mixing bowl mix the onion through quinoa together thoroughly. Once the chops are browned, spoon a pile of the mixture on top of each chop and then distribute the rest of the mixture around and between the chops.

Carefully pour the beer between the chops, cover, reduce the heat to simmer and cook for 45 minutes to an hour until the chops are tender and the quinoa is cooked. Check occasionally to be sure the liquid hasn't dissipated. If it's getting dry, add a little water (or more beer) and keep an eye on it.

Serve with a sprinkling of roasted corn and chopped cilantro.

Chorizo Jalapeno Shrimp n' Grits

2 generous servings

  • 1 1/2 C chicken broth - I use a good boxed variety
  • 1 1/2 C whole milk
  • 2 T butter
  • 1 t salt
  • 3/4 C Stone Ground Yellow Grits (I order REAL grits from down South - good stone ground grits make all the difference! Where to I order them? Amazon. See my current favorite brand below. Of course you can get acceptable stone ground grits around Pittsburgh, but they ARE hard to find.)
  • 1 C cheddar cheese - use a good sharp one - and yes, I shred good cheddar by hand. Don't bastardize a great from-scratch dish with pre-shredded just won't be the same.

  • 1 link Mexican chorizo - the uncooked, raw chorizo, not the smoked, dried Spanish kind
  • 1 large jalapeno, seeds and ribs removed, finely diced
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 9 cherry tomatoes, sliced in thirds
  • 12 jumbo shrimp, peeled and deveined, tails left on

  • lime wedges
  • fresh cilantro, chopped

First, start the grits: In a deep, heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring the chicken broth and milk to a boil. Sloooooowly pour the grits into the boiling liquids while stirring constantly to prevent any lumps. When the grits are all stirred in, add butter and salt and lower the heat to a simmer. Stir frequently to prevent sticking, burning and/or lumps. (Caution...grits bubble and spit so be on the lookout and don't get burned!)

When the grits are silky, creamy and thick, remove from heat and stir in the cheese thoroughly. Cover the pan and set aside.

Shrimp: In a skillet over medium heat, saute the chorizo, breaking it up into small crumbles as it cooks. When it's browned completely, add the jalapeno and onion. Continue cooking until softened and then add the tomatoes. Stir until the tomatoes start to give off their juices. THEN add the shrimp, cooking until just opaque - please don't overcook your shrimp into rubber. Thank you.

Assembly: Take 2 nice flat bowls and pile those gorgeous grits into the center of each. Spoon the shrimp mixture over the top of the grits, dividing evenly. Garnish with a sprinkle of cilantro and a nice squeeze of lime. Enjoy, y'all! 

Not Quite Your "Basic" Stuffed Peppers

Serves 4     

  • 4  green peppers - or RED! (multiple colors look really pretty - orange, yellow, too), tops cut off, seeds & ribs removed
  • 1  pound  ground beef, extra lean
  • 1/2 cup  instant rice -- uncooked
  • 1/2 packet Hidden Valley ranch dressing mix (Secret ingredient! Gives the filling a subtle, smooth flavor that balances the acid of the tomatoes and Worcestershire)
  • 1 small  onion -- finely minced
  • 1 egg
  • 1 can  diced tomatoes, whirred in the food processor until chunks are gone and divided in half
  • 1 14.1 oz can Heinz tomato soup FROM ENGLAND  (find this in the imported-from-England/Britain section at Giant Eagle - this is gluten-free) or another equivalent brand if you're not concerned about gluten - divided in half -DO NOT DILUTE THIS, this isn't condensed soup so use it full strength as it comes from the can 
  • 1 t granulated garlic
  • 1 t salt
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 t oregano
  • 1 T Worcestershire sauce
  • 3/4 cup white wine
  • Heinz (of course!) ketchup for the tops

Mix all ingredients but peppers (using only 1/2 a can of tomatoes and 1/2 a can of tomato soup). Mix it all up VERY well.

Stuff mixture evenly into peppers and place in deep casserole small enough to hold peppers snugly (so they don't fall over). 

Mix wine with remaining 1/2 can of tomatoes and tomato soup and pour around peppers.  Drizzle ketchup over the tops, almost covering.

Bake uncovered at 375 for an hour and a half or until browned, the filling is cooked through and the peppers are soft - longer if the peppers are large.

Serve with lots of sauce spooned over the stuffed peppers and a couple of good veggies - whole roasted carrots and Brussels sprouts are nice - on the side.

Bonus pic of these GORGEOUS carrots...don't you love the speckled one?

NOTE: The amount of filling (stuffing) you need is relative to the size of the peppers. If the peppers are small, you may have some filling left over. I say PILE THOSE SUCKERS HIGH with stuffing! 

If you don't have enough stuffing because the peppers are really big, make another half recipe of stuffing and that should do it.

NOTE 2: Not sure how many peppers you need to snugly fit into your casserole dish or which dish to use? Before you cut the tops off, do a trial run and see just how many you need or just which casserole dish works best for the number you need to make. Once you have the dish and the number figured out, THEN cut the tops off and proceed. 

If you don't have a taller casserole, instead of standing the peppers on end and stuffing a whole pepper, cut them in half lengthwise, lay them down in a shallower dish and bake stuffed pepper halves just like you would whole ones. Bonus? Stretches the recipe to serve twice as many AND cuts the baking time, too.

Mushrooms, Shallots, Chicken & Black Garlic 
Over Parmesan Polenta

  • 2 slices bacon (or 1 if it's thick sliced), cut across into 1/2" pieces
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut across into thin slices
  • 1 large shallot, diced
  • 5 large cloves of fermented black garlic, removed from papery skin and pressed into a paste with the flat side of a chefs' knife
  • 3/4 pound assorted sliced mushrooms, I used half gourmet blend and half cremini
  • 1 t. chicken soup base
  • freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 1/2 C white wine
  • 2 t. cornstarch
  • 1 T. water

In a large skillet, fry the bacon until it begins to brown and has rendered its fat. Add the chicken and cook through. Remove from pan, but leave all the juices in the pan.

Add the shallots and the black garlic paste into the juices in the pan and stir well. Once the mushroom begin to cook add the chicken soup base, pepper and the wine. Cook until the mixture comes together. 

Mix the cornstarch and water together and pour over the mixture in the pan, stirring gently until a smooth sauce forms.

To Serve, spoon the chicken and mushroom mixture over polenta and enjoy!

Parmesan Polenta

  • 8 C chicken stock - I used unsalted
  • 2 t. salt - use less if your stock is already salted
  • 2 C polenta
  • 3 T. butter
  • 2/3 C freshly grated Parmesan cheese

In a large, deep, heavy-bottomed pot, bring the stock and salt to a boil. Sloooooowwwwly pour in the polenta while stirring constantly. Continue stirring for a minute or two until you're sure the mixture is smooth. Stir frequently for another 20-25 minutes until the polenta is thick and smooth and creamy. Stir in the butter and the Parmesan completely. 

NOTE: I'll tell you a secret. I love this simple stove top dish, but I'd love it just as much without the chicken and using double the mushrooms. More mushrooms, more better! And if you used vegetable stock and left out the bacon - use a tablespoon or two of olive oil - and eliminated the chicken soup base, you'd have a nice vegetarian dish for Lent.


Apple Bacon Black Pepper Waffles 
With Cracked Black Pepper Bourbon Maple Syrup

Makes 2 waffles - 4 sections each

  • 1 C maple syrup, the REAL stuff!
  • 1 t. coarsely cracked black peppercorns
  • 1 1/2 T bourbon 
Mix syrup and pepper in a small pot and simmer for 3 minutes - gently. Let cool slightly and add bourbon. Done.

  • 1 1/4 C flour - Jule's gluten free all purpose flour or another GOOD gf blend if you want to make these gluten-free
  • 1/2 C corn flour
  • 1/2 C cornmeal
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 3/4 t. salt
  • 3/4 t. coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1/4 C sugar
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored, sliced thinly and cut into 3/4" lengths
  • 5 slices thick-sliced peppered bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
  • 2 eggs, separated
  • 2 C milk - I use skim milk...eliminates the calories...NOT!
  • 5 T butter, melted
In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients, flour through sugar. Put the egg whites into your small mixer bowl and beat until the whites are still, but not dry. Set aside.

In another bowl, beat by hand the egg yolks and milk, then quickly beat in the melted butter. Add these to the dry ingredients and mix well by hand with a fork. When everything is well incorporated, add the beaten egg whites and fold them into the mixture with a rubber spatula until they are thoroughly mixed in. Add the apples and bacon and mix just until distributed throughout the batter. Let the batter rest an hour or up to 3 hours before baking. 

Now you're ready to make the waffles! Only you know your waffle iron. Only you know how much batter to use. My waffle iron holds 2 cups exactly. Yours may hold more or less. Only add what YOUR waffle iron holds so it doesn't ooze out the sides and make a mess.  My waffle iron doesn't need oil either. If your waffle iron needs it, use it. I LOVE my Cuisinart waffle maker!

Bake the waffles according to your waffle iron directions, keeping each batch warm as you finish up the batter. Serve hot with syrup for brunch OR dinner!

NOTE: I like to use leftover waffles for a breakfast sandwich. Take 2 waffle sections, put a thin slice of cheddar cheese between them and grill on both sides in a skillet until the waffles are crisp again and the cheese is melted. YUM!

Texas Eggs in poblanos

Serves 1

  • 1 poblano pepper, (choose a nice big round one instead of a flat one - holds the egg) cut in half lengthwise, seeds and ribs removed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 link Mexican chorizo, fried and crumbled
  • 1/2 C or so of grated sharp cheddar
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 avocado, sliced and dipped in lime juice
  • 2 small tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 T chopped fresh cilantro plus additional for garnish
  • 2 T sweet onion, finely chopped
  • salt to taste
  • green Tabasco

Set the oven to 400 degrees.

Place the pepper halves into a shallow casserole dish and break an egg into each half. Bake approximately 20 minutes or until the egg is set the way you like it.

While the eggs are baking, make the fresh salsa. Combine tomatoes, onion, cilantro and salt to taste. Add a dash (or MORE) of Green Tabasco (I LOVE this stuff!) and spoon onto a serving plate. 

When the eggs are done, nestle them into the salsa, surround them with shredded cheese, sliced avocado, the cooked chorizo and garnish with more cilantro and lots of green Tabasco or even a little salsa verde.

This presentation is lovely...but right after the pic, I mixed everything up and piled it on top of the peppers. Maybe not as pretty, but easier eating! And that's what counts.

NOTE: Of course you can double, triple, quadruple the recipe to serve as many as you need!

Tuna Casserole Twist

Serves 6-8

  • 12 oz. package rotini pasta (twist shapes to go with the 'twist' theme!) - I used Barilla gluten-free rotini or you can use whatever shape you like best. Be sure not to overcook. Cook them just short of al dente because the pasta continues to cook in the oven and absorbs the flavors of the casserole.
  • 2 T butter, plus another 2 T to butter the casserole dish - soft butter to make the buttering easier
  • 8 oz. sliced mushrooms
  • 1/3 C red pepper, diced
  • 1/3 C yellow pepper, diced
  • 1 1/2 C fresh baby spinach, left whole (or if you have bigger spinach, cut into ribbons or chop roughly)
  • 1/4 C onion, finely diced
  • 2 cans light tuns in water, do NOT drain - broken into smaller pieces (I like light tuna for a casserole, but white for tuna salad)
  • 1 C Greek yogurt (you know I use Fage 0%) or sour cream, if you wish
  • Jane's Crazy Salt (my fave seasoned salt) - I used about a tablespoon as this is a big casserole and LOTS of freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 6-7 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, diced small

Set oven to 350 degrees.

While the noodles are cooking, melt 2 T butter in a skillet. Saute the mushrooms, peppers and onion until just wilted. Set aside.

Drain the cooked noodles in a colander. When all the water is drained off, put the noodles carefully back into the pot. Add the sauteed veggies, spinach, tuna, yogurt (or sour cream), Jane's Crazy Salt and pepper and stir gently. Add the diced cheddar, stir gently again. Butter a large, deep casserole dish with the remaining 2 T of soft butter.

Pour the mixture into the casserole dish. Bake approximately 45 minutes or until golden and bubbly.

Garlicky Spinach, Feta, Tomato & Eggplant 
Stuffed Baby Eggplants 

  • Olive oil spray 
  • 1 T olive oil 
  • 3 mini eggplants, cap cut off, sliced in half lengthwise, pulp removed leaving a 1/4" shell - chop the pulp roughly 
  • 4 large cloves of garlic, chopped roughly 
  • 1/2 medium onion, chopped 
  • 1 1/2 cups spinach, left whole if it's baby (or preemie) spinach, otherwise chop roughly 
  • 3/4 t dried oregano 
  • 4 small tomatoes, chopped (or 12 cherry tomatoes) 
  • 1 t salt 
  • 2 oz crumbled feta 

Set the oven to 400 degrees. Spray a shallow baking dish with olive oil and set the hollowed out eggplant halves in the dish cut side up. Spray the eggplant edges with olive oil

In a skillet over medium heat, heat 1 T olive oil and add chopped eggplant, onion and garlic. Saute until they start to wilt, but don't let the garlic burn. Add spinach, oregano, chopped tomatoes and salt. Stir until the spinach wilts. Remove from heat and stir in feta.

Spoon the spinach mixture into the eggplant shells. Cover the dish with foil and bake until the eggplants are soft, but not falling apart. Maybe 45 minutes or so. Remove the foil and brown slightly. Serve with chicken, steak, lamb (really nice!) or whatever protein strikes your fancy!

Fresh Blackberry Chipotle BBQ Sauce for Pork Chops

  • 2 medium chipotle peppers from a can
  • 2 T adobo sauce (from the same can!)
  • 16 fresh blackberries - nice BIG ones - or 32 smaller ones
  • 2 t rice vinegar
  • 1 t granulated garlic
  • 1 T molasses
  • 4 nice thick bone-in center cut loin pork chops 

In a gallon size zip top plastic bag, add all the sauce ingredients, seal the top, and smoosh (yes, "smoosh" IS a proper culinary read it here first) everything together until completely mixed and (relatively) smooth. Then add the chops. Marinate overnight. 

The "smooshing" of chipotles, blackberries and other sauce components into a proper sauce.

Take the chops out of the fridge about an hour before you're going to put them on the grill. Grill over low heat so the sauce doesn't burn...too much. 

While you've got the grill going, throw on lots of fresh sliced veggies for a whole meal on the grill!

NOTE: Think you can only use this sauce on pork chops? Really good on chicken and turkey, too!

NOTE 2: When I use only 1 or 2 peppers from a whole can of chipotles in adobo, I sure don't throw out what's left. I put the rest of the can into a snack-size ziplock bag and pop it into the freezer. When I need a pepper or two the next time, I just pull the bag out of the freezer, pluck what I need out and put the rest back in the freezer until the next time. Easy. And thrifty!

Spring Spinach, Strawberry, Pea Shoot Salad
With Chived Lemony Buttermilk Dressing

  • 2 C baby spinach, washed and dried
  • 3/4 C pea shoots, bottoms torn off - got them at Whole Foods
  • 2 giant radishes, cut in half lengthwise and sliced across thinly
  • 5 large asparagus spears, raw - cut into ribbons lengthwise with a vegetable peeler
  • 2 green onions, sliced across well into the green
  • 3/4 - 1 C strawberries, washed and sliced lengthwise

  • 1/3 C buttermilk
  • 1/4 C fresh lemon juice
  • 3 T extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 T sugar
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed or minced finely
  • 1 t poppy seeds
  • 1 1/2 T fresh chives, sliced across thinly
  • 1/2 t kosher salt
  • a hefty grind of black peppercorns

Toss all salad ingredients in a large bowl.Combine the dressing ingredients in a Mason jar, screw on the lid and shake until well-combined. 

Drizzle salad with dressing and enjoy!

Horseradish Bacon Cheese for Burgers

  • 5 slices of thick-sliced bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
  • 4 oz. white cheddar, grated
  • 3 1/2 oz. Havarti cheese, grated
  • 1 T. onion, grated
  • 3 T. horseradish
  • 2 T. mayonnaise, Hellman's preferably

Using the shredder disk of your food processor, shred the cheddar, then the Havarti into the bowl. Remove the shredder disk and place the blade in the bowl. 

Add the bacon, onion, horseradish and mayo to the bowl and process until the cheese is smooth, creamy and spreadable.

Grill your burgers as you normally would and pile the cheese spread on top. Put the burger onto a bun with lettuce and tomato...maybe a little sweet onion and there you have it. Enjoy!

NOTE: Why does this spread use less mayo than pimiento cheese? It's the creamy Havarti and horseradish that makes it really smooth and spreadable without all the mayo...and cuts down on the calories...but then again, let's not think about calories. There is all that bacon. Sigh.

New Orleans Red Beans, Rice & Greens

  • 1 T canola oil
  • 1 link Andouille sausage, diced small
  • 1 small onion, diced small
  • 2 ribs celery, diced small
  • 1/2 green pepper, seeds removed & diced small
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 5 oz. baby kale left whole or regular sized kale, roughly chopped - feel free to sub-in whatever greens strike your fancy or whatever you have on hand instead of kale
  • 2 T tomato paste - I love tomato paste in tubes, don't you?
  • 1 T Cajun seasoning - I used Weber's N'Orleans Cajun Seasoning
  • 1 can red beans (15 oz) WITH the liquid
  • 3/4 C arborio rice or long grain white rice - whatever you have on hand
  • 10 oz can chicken broth

Heat the oil in a large heavy pot. Saute andouille, garlic, onion, celery, green pepper until soft. Add kale and stir until wilted. Add tomato paste and cajun seasoning, beans WITH their liquid, rice and broth. Stir well and bring the mixture to a boil.

When the mixture comes to a boil, immediate reduce heat to low cover and cook until rice is tender, approximately 25 minutes. Fluff with fork and serve!

Green Sriracha Basil Marinade for Chicken
(Pork and Shrimp, too!)

  • 1 t Musashi Midori Sriracha (this is the only one I can vouch for at this time)
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • 2 T fresh basil, finely minced
  • 1 T agave syrup (or a mild honey)
  • 1 juicy lime, zested and then juiced
  • 2 T avocado oil - or other mild cooking oil
  • 1 t Kosher salt

  • 4 chicken breasts or protein of your choice such as pork or shrimp

In a zip top bag large enough to hold the chicken (or whatever protein you use), add all the marinade ingredients and smoosh them around until homogenized. 

Add your chicken (or whatever) and marinate at least 3 hours or overnight.

Heat up your grill, remove the chicken from the marinade and grill to perfection!

NOTE: I grilled veggies at the same time for a simple, healthy dinner. AND it made for a great salad on top of greens for lunch the next day!