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Category - Food

17 Bean and Barley with Mushrooms

I found this beautiful blend of beans and barley from Trader Joe’s and decided to give it a try. It seemed like an easy one pot meal that would last us a few days. I was going for a tomato based italian flavor similar to minestrone.
First I soaked the blend overnight in a pot of water. Then rinsed and picked through them before adding them to their broth.
On the stove I sauteed some red onion, garlic, mushroom, crushed red pepper, dried thyme, dried oregano, salt and pepper in olive oil.
Next I added 4 cups of broth and one small can of tomato sauce and let it simmer for a few minutes.
Then I added the beans and let it simmer for 30 minutes, added 2 cups more of broth…
…Let it simmer another 30 minutes. At that point some of the beans still weren’t as soft as I like so I let it go a few minutes more. By this time it was more like a stew or chili, so if you like more of a soup add extra water or stock.
Serve with crusty bread or your favorite crackers. YUMMY!

Roasted Brussel Sprouts in Our New Oven

We were gifted a new range by my dad for Christmas! We had it shipped to our house and it just arrived this week! The first thing I made were these simple roasted brussel sprouts (and a few green beans) with olive oil, balsamic vinegar garlic, pine nuts, salt and pepper. Delicious indeed.
Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Pine Nuts

I baked them at 400 degrees, approximately 20 minutes per side.

Oatmeal Cream Pies Recipe

So I’m trying to actually make recipes that I “pinned” on Pinterest, and this is one that I tried for Thanksgiving. The original comes from here: Baked Perfection
Mine were much flatter, but still soft and delicious. I didn’t want to use vegetable shortening in the cream, so I used butter, which of course wasn’t as stiff.

Due to the “flattness” mentioned above, I ran out of cream quickly, so I topped the rest of the cookies with dark chocolate…excellent choice. As a chocoholic I preferred these.

Easy Pumpkin Pie from the Can

One of our neighbors is very meticulous about her yard. She offered to rake our leaves, seeing as we weren’t doing it with my husband working and me with the baby full time. They were really piling up. I told her, “no, no my husband will get to it”, but she insisted. (I know it drives her crazy). I offered to bake her cookies as a thank you/payment.
When I was leaving the next morning, she was sweeping away; she stopped me and asked if there was a good place to get a pumpkin pie nearby, and told me how much she and her husband love a flavorful pumpkin pie; I said that I didn’t know of one, but I took the hint and now I am baking a pumpkin pie.

I thought this would finally be the time I try making my own crust…but I checked the cupboard and I only had bread flour and salted butter…getting discouraged I went to Trader Joe’s and bought the frozen pie crust. (I know I could’ve just bought the right ingredients for dough, but just thinking about it made me tired). So anyway, I wanted to find some tips on how to spruce up the pre-made dough and I found this blog post

I will only be using 1 single pie crust, so I cut it down a bit and used 3 graham crackers and a heaping tablespoon of sugar, with some added cinnamon.
I followed the pumpkin puree can recipe.
Midway into mixing the filling, I noticed that it called for a deep dish pie tin, which I don’t have, so I had used a 9” cake pan.
After it was thawed and I tried to unroll it, the very inner portion was cracking apart, so I managed to mush it back together on top of the graham cracker crumbs. But it started to fall apart when I was transferring it to the pan. I ended up folding it in fours and re assembling it inside the pan.
When I got it pieced together and sprinkled with more crumbs, I brushed it with butter.

I baked at 375 for 20 min (directions say 20 min at 450) but my oven sucks (i set it to 500). I checked and the crust was browning nicely so I figured it was time to turn it down.
Then continue for another 40-50 min at 350.

Vegetarian Split Pea Soup Recipe

It’s finally soup weather here in California!

This amazing vegetarian split pea soup comes from The smoked paprika gives it a depth and smokiness that usually is achieved by using ham to flavor split pea soup. It’s wonderful!
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 large onions, chopped
1/2 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
2 cups dried split green peas, picked over and rinsed
5 cups water (or broth)
juice of 1/2 lemon (reserve the zest for topping)
a few pinches of smoked paprika
more olive oil to drizzle

Vegetarian Split Pea Soup

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Stir in the onions and salt; cook until the onions soften, just a minute or two. Add the split peas and water and/or broth; it’s nice to use half and half. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the peas are cooked through (but still al dente). Using a large cup ladle half of the soup into a bowl and set aside. Using a hand blender (or regular blender) puree the soup that is still remaining in the pot. Stir the reserved soup back into the puree. Stir in the lemon juice and taste. If the soup needs more salt, add more a bit at a time until the flavor of the soup really pops. (This will also depend on what broth you’ve used).
Ladle into bowls and serve each drizzled with olive oil and topped with smoked paprika and a touch of lemon zest.

Balsamic Roasted Brussel Sprouts & Figs with Goat Cheese

My mother-in-law gave us two strawberry baskets full of gorgeous figs from her garden this week and I wanted to do something with them before they got too ripe.

Fresh Figs

I love balsamic roasted brussel sprouts so I thought I’d try that with the figs, and top it off with some goat cheese.

Figs and Brussel Sprouts

Here are my loose instructions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

(my oven is crappy so I set the temp to 450, it was around 400 after I put the pans in)

Wash the fruit and vegetables.
Cut the base off the brussel sprouts and cut in half lengthwise.
Arrange in a baking dish, without overlapping. Sprinkle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, salt & pepper.
(i forgot my olive oil this time)

Figs and Brussel Sprouts Ready to get Dressed with Balsamic Vinegar

Cut the stems from the figs and also cut lengthwise. (Quarters if you prefer smaller pieces).

Sliced Fig

Arrange in baking dish. (same one if you have room)
Drizzle generously with balsamic vinegar.

Figs with Balsamic Vinegar

Then give some attention to your sweet baby who is entertaining himself.

Oliver James

Bake for approximately 20 minutes or until the vinegar reduces and the figs look like this and are caramelized.

Oven Roasted Caramelized Figs with Balsamic

I had to leave the house at the 20 minute mark so I turned off my oven, let some of the heat out, and let them slow roast while I was gone, until the oven cooled. About 2 hours.

When I got home the house smelled amazing and they came out perfect!

Balsamic Roasted Figs and Brussel Sprouts with Goat Cheese

Plate the desired amount of each and sprinkle with goat cheese. Gorgonzola would probably be good too. AND I froze the extra figs to serve over ice cream!

Balsamic Roasted Figs and Brussel Sprouts with Goat Cheese


Healthy Oatmeal with Apples, Almonds and Cranberries

Are you looking for a healthy yet tasty way to prepare your oatmeal?

Try cooking the oatmeal in apple juice, with toasted almonds and apple added for texture and flavor. Make sure to buy “no sugar added” apple juice if you want to limit the amount of sugar.
Dried cranberries or other dried fruits are a great addition! Sprinkle with cinnamon and brown sugar or a drizzle of maple syrup.

Healthy oatmeal cooked in apple juice with apples, almonds and cranberries

Another variation I like is adding a scoop of my mother-in-law’s tart homemade apple sauce. Speaking of in-laws, Happy Birthday to my father-in-law Joe!

Hot Chocolate: One of my pleasures in life

According to Peet’s Coffee and Tea as well as ABC News, it’s National Chocolate Day!!!

I am a chocolate lover and have been enjoying at least one cup of hot cocoa every day for as long as I can remember. It all started with Nestle’s Quik.  My dad used to leave for work before 5 am and I would be up early to spend time with him and have toast and hot chocolate.  Over the years my tastes have developed going with a new hot chocolate for a year or so then finding another flavor for a while.  My current favorite is Dagoba “Authentic”. It is a dry, dark hot chocolate, not too sweet.

I usually buy my hot chocolate at Whole Foods. If you don’t have one near you, it’s also available here on Amazon

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe: Like My Mom Used To Make

My mom passed away in 2003, and I’m reminded of her everyday…in the small things, things I do around the house, as a wife and mother.  She wasn’t the greatest cook, but she was a wonderful baker and made the best chocolate chip cookies.  I was never able to get mine to taste like hers, I don’t know if it was my oven or what…until recently when I remembered that she liked to use bread flour.

Here is my recipe that has adapted over the years…initially that generic recipe from the back of chocolate chip bags.  It has evolved into my favorite cookie, just like my moms.  Its slightly thicker and crisp on the edges and soft and moist in the middle.
I use bread flour in place of all purpose, and salted butter, because it tastes great a little more salty. And I usually mix semi sweet chocolate and bittersweet chocolate chips.

Preheat oven to 375

2 ¼ c. bread flour
1 ½ tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
½ c. granulated sugar
1 c. brown sugar
1 c. salted butter (2 sticks) (room temperature)
1 ½ tsp vanilla
2 eggs (room temperature)
2 c. chocolate chips

1. In small bowl combine flour, salt and baking soda. Set aside.

2. In large bowl cream butter, softened, sugar and brown sugar until smooth. Add vanilla and eggs. Mix until fluffy.

3.  Combine dry ingredients into wet ingredients until incorporated.

4. Stir in chocolate chips

5. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto prepared cookie sheet.  I like the silicon mats. Chill in the fridge for a few minutes on the sheet.

6. Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.

7. Cool for a few minutes then transfer to wire rack.

8. Enjoy!
The last time that I made these, my oven wasn’t working properly and wasn’t getting up to temperature; it was wavering between 300 and 350 degrees, so I baked them 15-20 minutes and they came out great anyway! (featured in photo)