Wednesday, October 6, 2010

"Spaghetti" (squash)

For a healthier, and still very tasty alternative, try spaghetti squash.  Now, this is by no means a replacement for a good plate of pasta, but it is a great occasional dinner, or side.

Cut in half and de-seed a spaghetti squash.  Cover each half in plastic wrap and microwave for about 10 minutes each (or roast on a pan in the oven on 350 for about 45 minutes.

Now, scoop all the yummy squash out from the inside (it is okay if some of the squash is still stuck together).  It will string apart and start to look a bit like spaghetti.  Saute your squash in olive oil, garlic, onions and salt (add other seasonings to taste if you are going to eat it plain).

Now serve it with your favorite spaghetti sauce and meat if you so desire.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Okay, not really.  It is actually naan pizza I want to talk about today.  And by the way, I won't take all credit; I heard about it through the grapevine.

My favorite store, Trader Joe's sells this really excellent frozen naan.  If you want a really great and really easy dinner option, this is your ticket.  Paired with Indian curries or eaten with hummus, it will make a great dinner any night... but, drum roll please, it also makes awesome pizza!

Lay your frozen pieces of garlic naan out on a counter, add pesto or tomato sauce or garlic and oil, and then add your favorite toppings.  Bake for about 7-10 minutes on 400, and viola, delicious pizza is yours.  If you are tired of the same old toppings, here are a few suggestions:

Goat cheese, asparagus tips, and smoked salmon

A fine grating of Parmesan cheese, sun dried tomatoes and spinach leaves

Feta Cheese, kalamata olives and artichoke hearts.


Thursday, August 5, 2010

Lebanese Hamburgers

SOOOOO easy and SOOOOO good, these burgers make a great sidekick to hummus and some roasted veggies or tabbouleh salad.

1 lb of lean ground beef or lamb
1 finely chopped caramelized onion
2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp paprika
pepper to taste
4-6 pita pocket breads

Mix together all of your ingredients except pita in a bowl.  Cut a one inch strip off the end of each round pita, creating an opening that you can stick your hand in (imagine a circle with a flat edge).  Gently, reach your hand in and loosen the two layers of bread from each other so that you now actually have a pocket with which to work. Divide your meat filling into 6-8 parts, depending on the number of pitas you will be stuffing.  With a gloved hand, or washed hand, whatever you like better, smear the meat stuffing evenly inside each whole pita.

Now, arrange your pitas on a griddle and cook, dry (no oil or butter) over low/medium heat for 8-10 minutes a side.  Cut each in half and serve immediately.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Bacon pancakes

While reading a currently popular thriller recently, I read about bacon pancakes.  I was inspired.  Now before you say, "ewww, gross" or anything, ask yourself some important questions.  Do you eat breakfast sandwiches?  Do you like to dip bacon in maple syrup?  Do you like meat and bread together?  If the answer to any of these is yes, then this might be worth a try.

Simple plan: chop 3 slices of bacon into little pieces and fry until crispy.  Fold into you favorite pancake recipe or mix.  Cook and enjoy.

For those of you who have never made pancakes from scratch, may I suggest the following recipe which is delicious and worth the extra 3 minutes to make:

In a bowl, combine 1 cup of flour,  1/2 tsp salt, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 Tblsp brown sugar (or white)

In another bowl, whisk 1 egg.  Drizzle in 2 tsp of melted butter while whisking.  Mix in 1 cup of buttermilk OR 1/2 cup sour cream or yogurt and 1/2 cup milk.

Combine the wet and dry and cook on a griddle.  This will make 8 small pancakes and can be doubled or tripled easily.

Sunday, August 1, 2010


I love them!

Beyond my favorite vegetable, they are also one of my favorite foods.  Their mild, yet distinct taste is almost buttery in flavor.  Eaten with toppings or without, these delectable flowers are a treat.  Beyond the common uses steamed and in spinach artichoke dip, there are many ways to enjoy are a few ideas.

Grilled Artichoke Quarters After steaming 2 artichokes(but leaving them slightly underdone, quarter them, remove the choke and toss into a gallon bag.  Add a splash or two of balsamic and a splash or two of olive oil.  Sprinkle in some salt, some garlic powder or finely diced garlic, and some pepper or hot sauce.  Close bag and distribute ingredients.  Marinate for 30 minutes plus, up to a day.  Grill to heat right before serving.  No dip is required because they have marinated in it!

Goat Cheese Artichoke Leaves For a fancy appetizer, first steam a large, well trimmed artichoke until tender.  Take off all of the leaves and lay out on a platter.  Mix equal parts of sour cream and a soft goat cheese.  Put a small dollop or canelle or spoonful of the mixture on the edible end of each leaf and sprinkle with finely chopped roasted red bell pepper.  Enjoy!

Fried Stuffed Artichoke Hearts purchase canned artichoke hearts, not marinated.  Allow to drain well.  gently remove the very center of each one, replacing it with a sliver of brie wrapped in prosciutto.  Dredge each piece in egg and panko bread crumbs twice, allowing to rest at least 10 minutes before re-dipping.  Deep fry until crispy.

Toss with Pasta  While a pain, the end product is well worth it: with a sharp knife, carefully trim the leaves and choke away, leaving only the heart.  Thinly slice the remaining heart.  Saute sliced garlic, chopped onion and the artichoke hearts in olive oil.  Boil your favorite pasta.  Throw in some crisped bacon, rendered pancetta, or prosciutto slices into the sauce if desired.  Toss the pasta in the sauce and throw in fresh tomatoes.  Enjoy!

I hope I have inspired you to take a new look at artichokes!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

White Burritos

We are up in the mountains, chillin' in big bear, and of course, I planned all the meals.  Tonight was especially yummy.  I love the challenges of cooking on vacation because sometimes it forces you to pare down your food to what you really want it to be.  This fine evening we had what I am calling white burritos, and I am writing it down because I want to do it again, and because when it is good enough to share, I want to share it with you.  It has a few steps, but they are all easy, and you can do it all in only 2 pans!

White Burritos (serves 4-6)

Burrito sized tortillas
1lb ground chicken
1 packet of McCormick's fajita seasoning
2 potatoes
3 green onions, chopped
1 can green chilies
garlic powder and salt OR garlic salt
grated cheese
1 avocado, diced and removed from peel
2 cans whole pinto beans, drained and rinsed
salsa and hot sauce if desired
A few tablespoons of canola or vegetable oil

Peel and dice potatoes (approx 1/2 inch cubes).  Start them boiling, just covered with water in pan, and allow to boil for 7-8 minutes.  Meanwhile, saute the ground chicken, adding the seasoning and water according to package directions.  Set aside in a serving bowl.  Drain potatoes. Using the chicken pan, add 2 tablespoons of oil, green onions, green chilies, potatoes, garlic and salt to taste.  Saute until potatoes are tender.  While you are sauteing potatoes, put the beans and 1/2 cup water into pan you used for boiling potatoes.  Add about 1/3 cup salsa if desired, warm over medium heat, using a spoon to lightly mash the beans.  Assemble you burritos.  Enjoy!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Pulled Pork

I made pulled pork sandwiches today for over 100 people.  It was easy and delicious too!  I slow braised 56 pounds of meat overnight to make it happen, and almost didn't have enough room, but thanks to a nearby friend, it all worked out alright.  But you don't have to make it for  100+, it is an easy and great dinner, or two or three, any time of year.  Here is the recipe (use a crock-pot if it is too hot to turn on the oven, or the oven if it is too cold to not take advantage of the heat!).

1 Pork Shoulder Roast (also called pork butt) bone in or out is fine.
1 Onion, quartered and peeled
1 Apple halved
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon salt (I know it sounds like a lot, but it is a lot of meat)
3 cloves garlic peeled and smashed or 1 tablespoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons chili powder

Put the onions in your covered baking dish or crock pot.  Place the pork roast on top.  Sprinkle the spices over the pork.  Put the garlic and apple on top or on the side, depending on how much room you have.  Do not add any liquid.

If you are using a crock pot, either set on low for 8-10 hours, or high for 5-7.

If you are using the oven, put the lid on your baking dish, set the oven at 200 and bake for 8-10 hours, or 275 and bake for 5-7 hours.

NOW LEAVE IT ALONE!  Do not open it, poke it, prod it, take it's temperature, just let it cook.  After the minimum cooking time listed above, check it; does it practically fall apart when you touch it?  Then it is done.  They key to this dish is patience, my dear friend.

Now we can get all crazy.  Take the pork out of it's pork juice bath, and munch it up with a spoon.  I divide mine into meals.  I mix one portion with my favorite barbecue sauce and we have pulled pork sandwiches.  I use the rest for tacos or burritos, enchiladas, pozole (with the drippings that I have removed the fat from as a base for the broth), as a topping for salad; the possibilities are almost endless.  Enjoy!

Saturday, May 22, 2010


I love breakfast.

No, see, I REALLY love breakfast.

It really is one of my favorite things to cook.

Pancakes, eggs, corned beef hash, biscuits, hash browns, breakfast meat.  Sounds pretty regular I guess, but maybe that is the problem most people have with breakfast.  I don't do "regular breakfast."  Maybe that is a bit of a stretch, because I do regular breakfast, but get me to the weekend, or a morning with extra time, and this lady loves to have fun with her morning food.

And let me tell you, I do not use pancake or biscuit mixes.  Nope, not me.  Give me flour, butter, eggs and buttermilk any time.

This morning, I made boysenberry biscuit cobbler. It was tart and mildly sweet with perfectly browned homemade buttermilk biscuits floating on top, soaking in that bright purpley magenta juice.  Delicious.

This last week I made corned beef hash from scratch.  That stuff that most restaurants serve straight out of the can... blech!

I have been enjoying making all kinds of fritattas and Spanish omelets too.  Round up potatoes, onion, leftover veggies, whatever good cheese is in the house and some egg, cook and flip or bake and viola! Yumminess that can be enjoyed all day long.

Ah, breakfast, how I do love thee!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Pressure Cookers

So I have been using a pressure cooker lately.  In our frenetically paced environment, there is often a need for faster or easier ways to cook dinner.  I had never considered using one until recently because my only experience with pressure cookers is my grandmothers horribly overdone veggies.  Let's face it, she couldn't cook all that well anyway. (Side note: probably not her fault, more the generation).

Anyway, I was inspired by Iron Chef America.  So, I broke out the pressure cooker that my dad bought several months ago.  The results so far: awesome steamed artichokes in a third the time, a fall off the bone tender chicken thigh and veggie stew in about 20 minutes, and tonight will bring a whole chicken, shredded for bbq chicken sandwiches and enchiladas.

None of that is super gourmet, but it is yummy everyday food that takes less energy to cook, heats the kitchen less, and that can be done at the last minute.  So far, so good.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Why I started Buying CSA

Community sponsored agriculture: have you heard of it?  I am very excited about it right now.  Now, I am not as hard core as some people I know, but I do like the idea of locally produced food, and of at least leaning towards eating more organic.  So this seemed perfect.

Once a week, I order a 25 dollar box of produce from a local farm.  And they exist, even here in the L.A. area... who'd have guessed?  So anyway, I get a huge box of seasonal, freshly picked, ripe or ready produce that I can enjoy.  And before you ask, no, I don't get to pick what I get, and yes, sometimes even I get things that I have to look up, but that is part of the fun.

I like experimenting with new ingredients.  Now how does this work with meal planning?  Well, I just don't buy many vegetables from the grocery store anymore.  And it is nice!

Convenient pickup, new ingredients, locally grown produce, organically grown produce for cheaper, and a refrigerator FULL of healthy veggies that I feel obligated to incorporate into my meals-- way too many reasons to participate in such a wonderful program.

A Hearty Hearty Breakfast


Homemade Buttermilk Biscuits
Spicy Onion Swiss Chard
Over-Easy Fried Egg
Roasted Beef and Herb Gravy

This isn't something I would eat often, but it was tasty!