Roasted Root Vegetables with Fennel

I am very affected by the weather and the seasons when I prepare food. Certain summer foods I wouldn't dream of eating in the winter months and vice versa.
The word "roasted" conjures up all kinds of warm images, fired in a toasty hearth. These are the hot and hearty foods that I crave on cold days. There is something especially appealing to me about roasting a food that grew snugly in the earth, amidst all of the minerals and nutrients that they absorb.

The first thing that typically comes to mind when people think of root vegetables are carrots and potatoes, but they are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to these nutritious tubers and bulbs. When I went to the market yesterday to find some good examples of root vegetables, I was happy to find a good variety of them. I bought: parsnips, rutabaga, turnips, sweet potato, onion and carrots. I decided to add a little flavor, aroma and texture by adding a chopped bulb of fennel, also known as Florence fennel. I simply peeled and chopped everything, tossed them with olive oil, and a bit of seasoning, and roasted them uncovered for 40 minutes. The result was not only delicious, hearty and bone warming, but it also looked and smelled incredible. I always keep in mind the way a dish will present, so I included the sweet potato and carrots primarily for extra color. I was surprised that the rutabaga turned a nice golden color. This made for an excellent side dish, but was hearty enough to eat as a meal.

Roasted Root Vegetables with Fennel
(you can use a combination of whichever root vegetables are on hand)

1 medium rutabaga, peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
1 large turnip. peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
2 medium parsnips, peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
1 sweet potato(or yam), peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
1 small sweet onion, peeled and chopped into strips
1 fennel bulb, chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
3 Tbsp Olive oil
2 tsp fennel seeds
1 Tbsp ground Sage
1 Tbsp ground coriander
Sea Salt and cracked pepper to taste


Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees
Toss everything together in a mixing bowl
Pour ingredients in a roasting pan, place in oven
Roast in oven- uncovered, for 40 minutes, tossing everything around every 15 minutes
Serve hot and enjoy!


Japanese Steak House Blues

After over four years of living with Celiac Disease, I've found that eating out still isn't easy, and often it isn't very satisfying. Tonight I went to a Japanese steak house, Kabuto Japanese Steak House and Sushi Bar in Greensboro, NC. I used to enjoy going to Japanese restaurants, but this is the first time I've been to a Japanese steak house since being on the gluten-free diet, because everything cooked in front of you on the table gets a good dousing of soy sauce (which is brewed with wheat and is not gluten-free). I made all of the usual preparations before leaving the house; including calling ahead to ask if they could accommodate a gluten-free diet, coming up with a cursory plan of what to eat based on their menu, snacking heavily before going to avoid feeling starved while watching everyone else eat, and bringing my own wheat-free soy sauce. You would think that after all of this preparation, and carefully ordering sushi and steamed rice I would have a nice meal with no issues, but unfortunately that wasn't what happened.
The chef at out table was entertaining with his flashing knives, onion volcano and spinning a raw egg on his spatula for an impossibly long time, but it was frustrating for me to watch as heaps of delicious looking food was tossed (literally) on to everyone's plate. On my plate was a heap on steamed white rice. I used my soy sauce to flavor the rice, along with a dash of Chinese style hot sauce.

My sushi arrived when the main course was served. I ordered a tray of sashimi tuna wrapped in rice and seaweed, and I ate it with the wasabi sauce, pickled ginger and my soy sauce. The tuna was fresh, but the sushi wasn't rolled to well. Nonetheless, I was content with my simple meal, that is until about 45 minutes after leaving the restaurant. Some times I have stomach irritations that I can't precisely attribute to a gluten reaction, but this wasn't one of those times. I had acute sharp pains in my gut that lasted for about a half hour, pretty much the typical good dosing of gluten reaction for me. Once again I don't know exactly where the gluten came from, it had to be either the wasabi, pickled ginger, Chinese hot sauce, (all of which I've had before) or the raw tuna (unlikely due to my type of reaction) or was it some unknown and unseen culprit?

All in all my advice would be: if your on a gluten-free diet, pass on the Japanese Steak house experience. Dining out shouldn't be this hard!


Corn with Roasted Red Peppers

The weather was beautiful last weekend here in North Carolina, that is until just after the guests arrived for my daughter's fourth birthday party. As the last people were coming in I looked up to see ominous black clouds blowing in from the West. That's when I thought "I better get the food on the grill!" It began to rain just as I put the first of the marinated chicken breast and pork chops on the grill. Within minutes the wind was whipping up and the TV was broadcasting tornado warnings for our area! I thought briefly of cooking everything in the oven, but with over 35 pieces of meat to cook and a cold oven I knew that this option would take way too long. Luckily my brother handed me an umbrella after I came in the house, because when I went back out to flip everything it began to hail. There I was holding the umbrella in one hand a spatula in the other while nickel sized hail clanged off of the grill hood and bounced three feet off of the deck to pelt me in my uncovered legs. With18 hungry people waiting for dinner I didn't even consider letting the meat burn, so I ended up being outside during the worst of the 20 minute storm scanning the horizon for a funnel cloud (luckily I didn't see one). I may have gotten wet and a bit bruised, but hey, I spent too much time and effort planning this dinner to let a little weather get in the way! I'm happy to report that once everything was served dinner went off without a hitch and was enjoyed by all.
(photo: me grilling in the hail storm)

The corn with roasted red pepper recipe is one I created for this party. Ever since staying for a summer in New Mexico when I was 20 years old, I have loved the combination of corn, cumin and chili peppers. In this recipe the spicy chili pepper is replaced with the sweet and rich, (but still peppery) flavor of the roasted red pepper. Like many of the dishes I make these days I've eliminated the spicy element, but didn't compromise flavor.

(photo: the back deck littered with hail after the storm)

I would normally add a bit of cilantro to this dish, but this time I left it out because I realized that my brother (who somehow blames an incident involving me and toothpaste for his dislike of cilantro!?) would be eating with us and many of the other dishes were already infused with the tasty herb. Evidently my brother is not the only one who does not like cilantro, it seems like many people have strong feelings about this strong tasting herb, I found a interesting poll and discussion on the subject at, It seems that there are many more people who like it, but the few who don't really hate it! I'll leave it up to you whether you add it or not, either way this recipe makes a quick and delicious side dish!

Corn with Roasted Red Pepper
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb. package of frozen yellow corn
1 roasted red pepper- skin and seeds removed and chopped
1/4 sweet onion (or red onion) - chopped
juice of one lime
1 tsp ground cumin
Sea salt and fresh crushed pepper to taste
1 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro- optional

Heat a pot with the oilve oil to medium heat , add the corn
Cook the corn for 3 or 4 minutes until thawed, stirring occasionally
Stir in the the chopped red pepper, onion, cumin, salt and pepper
Stir well can cook for another minute or two then remove from heat
Squeeze the lime over the mixture and add the cilantro, stir, serve and enjoy!

Mojo pork chops with Mango salsa

I've been into making a lot of Latin American inspired dishes lately and I was looking for a more authentic Cuban flavor to add to meat so I asked a friend who was born in Cuba and grew up in Miami for a recommendation. She told me to get Mojo marinade,the name rang a bell and when I found it at the store I actually remembered having used it years ago. It has a great garlic-citrus flavor that is good with chicken, pork or beef. I've been hooked on the Goya brand Mojo Criollo (which is gluten-free, and can be found at most grocery stores) and have been using it almost every other day for the past few weeks.
Tonight I marinated some boneless pork chops in the Mojo and then pan fried them. It was the first time I used the Mojo with pork and it was awesome. The pork came out tender, juicy and bursting with citrisy flavor. My first choice would have been to grill the chops, but with no grill available I chose the stove.
I served the pork chops with a mango salsa. This salsa is a great blend of sweet, spicy and sour. It added a bright summery look and taste to the dish and was a great compliment to the pork. Just add a little rice and and this makes an excellent Cuban inspired dinner for a warm summer night.

Mojo Marinated Pork chops

Pork chops
Mojo Criollo Marinate
2 Tbsp olive oil
Fresh Cracked pepper

• To marinate: place the pork chops in a bowl, Shake the Mojo well, and pour over enough to just cover the pork, cover and let it marinade for at least 45 minutes, (preferably several hours)

• Heat a frying pan to medium high with the olive oil, add the the marinated pork chops, sprinkle with pepper
• cook on one side for about 7-10 minutes.
• Flip the pork chops over and add a splash of the Mojo to the pan, and continue cooking the pork chops until cooked through, about another 5-8 minutes
• Serve and enjoy!

Mango Salsa

1 ripe mango- chopped into 1/4" pieces- skin and pit removed
1/2 medium sweet onion (or red onion) - chopped
one poblano chili pepper- (or 2 jalepeno peppers) chopped and seeds removed
@ 2 Tbsp fresh cilantro - chopped
Juice of 1/2 lime
sea salt to taste
• Mix all ingredients together in a bowl
• cover and let the flavors mingle for about 30 minutes, serve, enjoy!


Roasted Garlic Salsa

The season for salsa is here! We got together with our neighbors for a Cinco de Mayo dinner last week. The following salsa along with an avocado salad, my black bean salsa, and roasted chicken over arroz amarillo (yellow rice), washed down by Jose Cuervo Margaritas was a great way to welcome the warm weather. Although our cuisine was more Cuban that Mexican, our little get together, which we held outside, inspired me to want to make this an annual event.
I've tried making salsa with raw garlic before, and it tastes great while it's fresh, but once it sits for about thirty minutes, the garlic slowly starts dominating the flavors. I wouldn't recommend any close conversations with anyone after eating raw garlic, it gives you just about the worst breath possible. Not to worry though, you can have a deliciously fresh salsa with garlic, without the dominating flavor by roasting it. There are a few different methods to roasting garlic, but the way that has been easiest for me is to simply put it in the broiler of my toaster oven, turning it over once. The result is a sweeter and milder garlic.

When I made this salsa the other day I knew that I couldn't make it as spicy as I normally would. I knew that my daughters, ages 3 and 18 months would be eating it, as well as my neighbors, who have stated several times that they can't eat spicy food. So instead of using a jalapeño pepper I choose to use a hungarian wax pepper. It was just a little hot, but after I removed the seeds and roasted the peppers (using the same method as the garlic) they were perfectly harmless. In the past I have made similar salsa recipes and blended them in the food processor, which works great, but since I had more time and wanted this salsa to present well I took the time to chop everything by hand using my chef's knife.

Roasted Garlic Salsa
4 cloves of roasted garlic- minced
2 hungarian wax peppers (or jalapeño) - roasted, skin and seeds removed and chopped

4 Roma tomatoes- chopped

2 small tomatillos- peeled and chopped

1/2 sweet Vidalia or red onion- chopped

1 tsp sugar

Salt and pepper to taste
2 Tbsp fresh cilantro- chopped
Juice of one lime


Peel the garlic cloves and cut the peppers on half length-wise removing the stem and seeds

Turn on the broiler of your oven or toaster oven, place the garlic and peppers (skin side up) on a pan and place under the broiler
Flip the garlic over after about a minute, careful not to let it burn, let it cook another minute or so on the other side, ideally it will be golden brown on both sides when done
Broil the peppers until the skin starts to turn brown and bubbly, let the peppers cool a minute and remove the skin
You can either chop all of the ingredients by hand, or simply cut them small enough to put them in the food processor. The resulting textures will be different, but the taste will be about the same. If chopping the ingredients everything should be between 1/8 and 1/4 inch in size, except for the garlic which should be minced
Squeeze the lime juice over the ingredients, careful not to get the seeds in the salsa (I like to squeeze it over a fork or sieve)
Stir (or mix in the processor for about 15 seconds) everything together, place in a covered bowl and set aside for about 20 minutes to let the flavors mingle
Serve with corn tortillas. ¡Comerse y disfrutar! (eat and enjoy!)


Baked Sweet Potatoes with Cinnamon Sugar

When my children were babies they both used to love sweet potatoes. I would cook huge batches, puree them and freeze in ice cube trays (perfect one ounce portions) to feed them over a few weeks. But lately neither of them will eat, or even try sweet potatoes. Knowing how good sweet potatoes can taste, and especially how good they are for you, I was determined to give it another shot tonight. I remembered how well they were complimented by cinnamon. I baked some sweet potatoes, then chopped them into cubes, tossed them with a bit of butter and cinnamon sugar and they kids loved them. My 3 year old even surprised me by saying "thank you for making this best dinner ever daddy" and then ran into the kitchen to give me a hug! Now that' a good review if I ever heard one. Of course you could get kids to eat just about anything by pouring sugar on it, but the sugar in this was minimum, there is enough natural sweetness in the potatoes that is brought out by the cinnamon and sugar. And lately I'm thrilled to see them eat anything besides cheese, cereal and pasta.

The cinnamon thing was good for the kids, but when it came to dinner for me and my wife we don't need cinnamon sugar to make our potatoes taste good, do we? You bet we did! I just couldn't look at the kids eating it that way and have some, and it really was delicious! I served our sweet potatoes with chicken breast with Jamaican spices, and sauteed spinach and onions (with a splash of sherry) and all of the flavors meshed extremely well.

Baked Sweet Potatoes with Cinnamon Sugar

sweet potatoes
1 pat of butter per potato
aluminum foil
cinnamon sugar (mix 1/2 cup granulated sugar with 1 Tbsp ground cinnamon)

• Pre-heat the oven to 350º
• Wash sweet potatoes, wrap each potato individually in allunimum foil
• Bake for 45 minutes, or until potato becomes soft
• Remove potatoes from the oven, remove foil and cut in half to let cool for a few minutes
• For kids, cut into bite-sized cubes by making cuts horizontally and vertically (see picture to the right), or cut potato in half, lightly butter the halves and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, or any other toppings you may like.
• If making cubes toss with a bit of butter (to taste) and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar, enjoy!


Where I've been lately...

The last few weeks have been hectic for me so I haven't been able to cook much or update this blog. My family and I just arrived back from a 11 day excursion up to my home town of Buffalo, NY. Besides visiting friends and relatives the main purpose of our trip was to help my parents get their house (which they've lived in for 37 years) in good enough condition to sell it this summer, no small task to be sure.

(photos:left: Me taking a break from breaking up concrete!, right, the yard before, yikes!)

My main project was to landscape the backyard. Once the small yard was mostly covered by a basketball court a large garage and carport. A few years back both were torn down leaving the yard a mess of broken and crumbled concrete. I decided on using a combination of river rocks and grass to create and define different areas. I had to break up a lot of the concrete by hand with a pick-axe and sledge hammer in order to make the ground suitable to grow grass. After 7 days of hitting, pounding, shoveling, raking, hoeing, and planting the yard finally took shape. It's hard for me to believe, but it actually turned out just like I planned it!

(photos: the finished yard!)

I know this post doesn't have anything to do with food, but I thought I'd account for my recent absence on this blog! I did get to eat some great Buffalo wings at the Anchor Bar,, the home of the original buffalo wing. We were able to eat wings there since they have a dedicated wing fryer, untainted by breaded foods like most restaurants. My mother and I (she's also gluten-free) split a bucket of 50 wings, and only left 13, not too bad...
If you want to try and make authentic Buffalo Wings at home, see my Buffalo Wings recipe posting here.

In addition to this trip I have been busy looking for career opportunities in Marketing, Advertising and Graphic Design in the Raleigh, NC area, My Marketing job at a real estate company was recently eliminated due to market conditions. But, don't worry I'm sure I'll find something soon, and I'll be back to post some more great gluten-free recipes in the next few days...

Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato

This past week has been a tough one so consequently, I haven’t had much time, or energy to work on this blog. Last week I was given the news that due to market conditions, my position was being eliminated at the real estate company for which I was a marketing coordinator. You would think that this would give me much more time to work on my blog, (which it still may). But in the meantime I’m finding myself scrambling to re-write my resume and get my graphic design portfolio ( up and running. And I have to say that in the wake of this news I find myself less than inspired in the cooking category. That’s not to say that I haven’t been cooking, but just cooking simply. The other night I fried up some bacon, (something that always makes me feel better!) and made BLT’s. I don’t eat too many sandwiches on bread, but the BLT is one occasion which calls for it, so I used some Food for Life rice bread. I always like cheese on mine so instead of calling it a BLT my wife calls it a B with TLC! (Bacon with Tomato, Lettuce and Cheese) and right now I could use all the TLC I can get…

B with TLC (A.K.A. BLT with Cheese)
Serves 2

4 slices of bacon, cut in half- cooked
1 Tomato- sliced
Few pieces lettuce, rinsed
Sharp Cheddar Cheese- sliced
GF mayonnaise (I use Hellman's.)
4 slices Lightly GF bread

Lightly toast the GF bread slices
Spread mayo on both pieces of toast
Lay down bacon, tomato, cheese, and then the lettuce
Slice sandwich in half (optional)
Serve with carrot sticks,potato or tortilla chips, Enjoy!


Caribbean Roasted Chicken with Bacon

I like to cook healthy food and the problem with bacon is that it just not healthy! One of the good thing about bacon is that it's so packed with flavor that a little goes a long way. So when I say that I baked this chicken breast covered in bacon all I really did was to cover each chicken breast with one piece of bacon. That's not so bad, is it? The Caribbean spice rub I made for this recipe is a great spice mixture to have on hand through the warm months. It not only works well with chicken, but also with fish and pork. The black bean salsa pictured is a quick easy recipe I like to make often. Here is the link to the black bean salsa recipe I posted a few months ago, the only difference is that I've added one cup of cooked corn to the salsa seen above.

Caribbean Roasted Chicken with Bacon
serves 2

2 boneless, skinless half chicken breasts
2 slices of uncooked bacon
1 lime, or lime juice

Caribbean Spice Rub

3 Tbsp brown sugar
2 Tbsp ground coriander
1 Tbsp garlic powder
2 Tbsp ground ginger
1 Tbsp ground allspice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp ground black pepper
1 tsp crushed red pepper
3 Tbsp sea salt


For the spice rub, mix all of the ingredients together well and store in an air-tight container. Will keep well in a dark cupboard for up to 3 months

Pound out the breast to tenderize it and thin it out a bit
"Rub" the chicken breasts liberally with the Caribbean spice rub, place in a covered bowl and refrigerate. Let it marinade for at least a half hour, or up to 24 hours
Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees
Place the chicken in a baking dish and cover each piece of chicken with one slice of bacon, folding it over or slicing it in half to cover the entire top of the breast.
Cut the lime in half and sprinkle it liberally over the bacon and chicken
Cover the dish and bake for 35 minutes, remove cover and bake for another 10 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through
Let cool a few minutes and serve over rice with black bean salsa.
Goes well with a white wine such as a Viognier or Pinot Grigio, enjoy!


Sauteed Polenta with Roasted Tomatoes

It is somewhat frustrating for me to live in a condo where there is no grills allowed. No charcoal, no propane, not to mention that we have an electric stove, in short, no fire! For the past five years I've had access to a gas stove and a charcoal grill, which I used year round, so I'm having a hard time adjusting to a fireless kitchen. Tonight I had a strong urge to roast tomatoes. I really can't say why, but I started having visions of roasting big pans of tomatoes along with zucchini and peppers and whatever other vegetables I could get my hands on. I reminded myself that I still have a a broiler, even if it's electric.
One thing lead to another tonight, the kids were sick, the house had to be picked up, etc, so by the time I had a few minutes to get into the kitchen my visions of roasting huge pans of food just wasn't going to work out. So I scaled down my visions, way down. I ended up roasting two tomatoes in my toaster oven. And the good news is they still tasted great! I cooked a bit of polenta with olive oil garlic and some zucchini and put the tomato over top and had a light , but satisfying meal. This dish would make a great light lunch. I used the quick and easy pre-cooked polenta from Trader Joe's.

Sauteed Polenta with Roasted Tomatoes
serves 1-2

2 roma tomatoes
3 Tbsp olive oil
9 oz pre-cooked Polenta- sliced in 1/2 inch thick pieces
4 cloves garlic-minced
1 tbsp dried sage
1 tsp dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 zucchini- chopped

parmesan cheese

Heat a frying pan to medium high with 2 Tbsp of the olive oil
saute the garlic in the pan for about one minute then add the polenta slices
Sprinkle the polenta with half of the dried sage and oregano, salt and pepper
cook for three to four minutes, using a spatula to keep the polenta from sticking to the pan
Flip the polenta over, add the zucchini to the pan and sprinkle the other half of the sage and oregano, salt and pepper over everything
Keep stirring the zucchini and polenta, for about 3-4 more minutes, add a bit more olive oil if the pan gets too dry, once cooked through. Cover and set-aside
Cut the tomatoes in half legnth-wise, place in a pan, sprinkle with oilve oil salt and pepper
Place the tomatoes in the broiler for about 5 minutes, then flip over and broil on the other side for another 5 minutes
Serve the polenta on a plate and cover with the sauteed garlic, zucchini and roasted tomatoes, splash a little oilve oil over top and sprinkle with parmesan cheese, enjoy!

Chicken and Sausage Cacciatore

It's April here in North Carolina, the Cherry trees are in full blossom, The dog wood trees and Azalea bushes are just beginning to bloom, but it's still cold! We've definitely had some warm, and even hot days, but today it's just 40 degrees. One good thing about the lingering cool weather, it gives me an excuse to continue cooking winter soups and stews, and my all-time favorite stew is Chicken Cacciatore! Translated from Italian cacciatore means "hunter's stew", or "the catch of the day". I can just picture cacciatore stew being slow cooked in an Italian country villa with rabbit and Guinea fowl (like a pheasant).

Back here in the U.S, I went hunting at our local grocery store and stirred-up some chicken breast and Italian sausage, and I didn't even have to kill them! I've also made this recipe with boneless chicken thighs and legs and with pork, it's pretty versatile so you can add whatever type of meat you choose, or no meat at all.

The combination of fennel seed, rosemary and oregano, along with the mushrooms, give this dish a rich savory flavor that is really satisfying, especially on a cold day.

This recipe also adapts well to a slow cooker or crock-pot. Just brown the meat, saute the onions, garlic, celery along with the herbs in a pan, then add everything else and let cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Cacciatore with Chicken and Italian Sausage

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb. Italian Sausage (sweet or hot)
1 Lb boneless, skinless chicken breast
1 medium onion
1 stalk of celery, cut up
4 cloves garlic
1 large bell pepper, cut up to bite sized
Salt and Pepper to taste
1 Tbsp dried Oregano
1 Tbsp dried basil
1 Tsp fennel seed
1 bay leaf
1 sprig of fresh rosemary, or 1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp crushed red pepper(optional)
1 28 oz can whole peeled tomatoes
1/2 cup chicken stock
1/2 cup red wine
6-8 crimini mushrooms (or white button mushrooms), sliced

Fresh basil for garnish (optional)
Grated parmesan cheese


Heat a large stock pot to medium high heat with the olive oil
Place the chicken breast and the Italian Sausage into the pot, cook each for about 1 minute on each side, browning them, working in batches if you need to. Set aside.
Using the same heated pot, stir in the onion, garlic, celery, and bell pepper, let them cook about a minute or so, using a fork to scrape off and stir in the browned pieces on the bottom of the pot
Mix in the Oregano, basil, fennel seed, rosemary, salt, pepper and crushed red pepper
Next stir in the tomatoes, chicken stock, red wine and mushrooms, mix all together well and bring to a slight boil
Add the meat and return to boiling, once it boils again reduce heat and simmer for 40 minutes, loosely covered
Remove the bayleaf and romsemary sprig. Serve over GF pasta or rice, garnish with fresh basil (optional) and grated parmesan cheese, Mangia!


Rosemary Fried Potatoes

This is a nice and easy breakfast recipe. I like to cook eggs in the morning and now that bread is mostly out of the picture for me I'll often serve these potatoes with my eggs as a source of carbs to make breakfast the filling meal it should be. A few times I made runny over easy eggs and broke the yoke over these fried potatoes. Last weekend we had company I served them with ham and spinach frittatas and sliced cantaloupe. Now that's a good breakfast!

Rosemary Fried potatoes
Serves 4

2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion - chopped
6-8 medium red potatoes- washed and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
2 stalks of fresh rosemary or 2 Tbsp dried rosemary
Sea Salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
sprig (or two) of fresh parsley chopped (optional)


Cover chopped potato with water in a pot, add salt to the water and bring to a boil
Boil until potatoes slide easily off of a sharp knive, about 10-15 minutes
Heat a large frying pan to medium with the olive oil, once hot add the onion, salt and pepper
Strain potatoes in a colander and stir them into the frying pan with the onion
Mix in the rosemary, continue cooking stiring frequently with a spatula so potatoes don't stick to the bottom of the pan. Add more olive oil if the pan gets too dry
Cook until potatoes start turning brown and crispy on the outside, stir in fresh parsley (optional) serve hot, enjoy!


Spicy Indian Lentil Soup

For our family Easter dinner this year I cooked a big ham. I have been really excited about the possibility of cooking lamb for weeks. It's been a while since I've eaten lamb and Easter has always been a great time to indulge on a whole leg of lamb roast. But after going back and forth we all decided ham would work better for our Easter meal.

Well, I quickly got over the disappointment of a lamb-less Easter once I realized that, "hey, we're going to have a big ol' ham-bone left over"! That can only mean one thing for me: soup's on! You can laugh at me, but I really do get excited about this stuff! So now I just had to decide what kind of soup to make with the ham bone. After going back between cannellini bean soup, pasta fazoli, and cuban black bean soup I finally decided on lentil soup. Now some of you may be thinking "what's so exciting about lentil soup?". Well after just eating a bowl, I'm here to tell you, forget the lamb, forget the cannellini, this soup is the bomb!
Maybe it's that I haven't tasted the rich aromatic and savory flavors of Indian food in some time, but my taste buds had a wakeup call tonight and I remember what I love about food. I love food that makes you stand up and take notice. A good meal is "eventful" and leaves you buzzing about it after it's done. This soup did just that for me and the best thing is that it took me off guard.
Now I've got to warn you, this soup is not for everyone, it's got a lot of strong flavors from the ginger, gram marsala, cardamom, and it's on the spicy side, but hey, your mouth deserves a wake up call today!

Spicy Indian Lentil Soup
Serves 6-8

2 Tbsp vegatable oil
1 medium onion- chopped
3 cloves garlic- minced
2" piece of ginger root, peeled and minced
2 hot peppers(anaheim, jalepeno, etc..), seeded and chopped
sea salt and crushed black pepper to taste
1 Tbsp Garam Masala (note: you can make this spice mixture, or buy it pre-mixed, but the fresher the better)
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp cumin
1 bayleaf
1-15 oz can of diced tomatoes
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 cup frozen spinach- thawed
1 lb. dried lentils (dahl-red lentils or mung dahl-yellow lentils preferred) -washed and picked over
1 Tbsp sugar
8 cups filtered water
1 hambone with(or without) meat

plain yogurt (optional)
mint leaves (optional)

Heat a large pot to medium high with the vegatable oil
Saute the onions for about a minute, until translucent
Stir in the garlic, ginger and hot peppers, sprinkle with salt and pepper
Next mix in the garam masala, cardamom, cumin, and bay leaf
Add the tomatoes, carrots, and spinach and sugar, and lentils, and the hambone stir together well, cook for about 5 minutes
Stir in the water and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally
Once it comes to a boil reduce the heat to simmer and cook for 1 hour, loosely covered, stirring occasionally
Discard the bay leaf and hambone- If your ham bone has meat on it, cut the meat off into bitesized pieces and return the pieces to the pot.
Serve in a bowl with a dollop of plain yogurt and garnish with fresh mint leaves, or parsley (optional), Enjoy, (mandatory :-)

Ginger Lemon Chicken

I've been playing with variations of this recipe on and off and finally found the right combination of flavors. This dish is Thai inspired, except that instead of using lemon grass, (which I can't find locally) I've used lemon, which isn't as subtle, but merges well with the ginger to give this dish a light citrisy taste which is characteristic of Southeast Asian cuisine.
This recipe calls for a peeled and julienned broccoli stalk, which some may find unusual. When I first started cooking I would cut off the florets and throw out the rest, but then I learned that the stem not only has nutritional value, but also provides a great taste and texture when prepared correctly. I recommend cutting off off the florets and save them for another dish, then peeling off the tough exterior of the stalk and slicing the rest into thin julienned (also called a matchstick) slices.
I've served this dish as a light lunch over a bed of lettuce and some fresh vegetables, and over basmati rice for dinner.

Ginger Lemon Chicken
serves 2-4

2 boneless, skinless chicken breast half's
Salt and pepper to taste
@2 tsp powdered ginger
1 lemon, cut into quarters

2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 medium onion - chopped
@2 inch piece of fresh ginger root, julienned
3 cloves garlic- minced
1 Thai chile pepper or jalapeño pepper, seeded and minced
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 Tbsp sugar
3 Tbsp fish sauce
1 large carrot, peeled and julienned
1 broccoli stalk, peeled and julienned
sprig of fresh basil, or parsley (optional)


Place the chicken breast in a bowl, sprinkle it on all sides with salt pepper and the ginger powder, then squeeze the juice from one quarter of the lemon over it, place in a bowl, cover and refrigrate for at least 30 minutes (an hour or more of marinade time is preferable)
Heat a large frying pan to medium high heat with the vegatable oil
Saute the chicken breast in the hot frying pan, for about two minutes on each side, remove the chicken to a plate or cutting board and cut the chicken into bite sized pieces, set aside
Using the same hot frying pan, drop in the onions and saute until translucent
Next stir in the ginger, garlic and chile pepper
Squeeze in one half of the lemon, taking care not to get any seeds in the pan (try squeezing over a fork)
Next mix in the chicken broth, sugar and fish sauce (warning: the fish sauce may smell a bit strong at first, but don't worry it won't taste nearly that strong once it cooks a bit blends with the other flavors)
Let this mixture heat up for a few minutes to almost boiling, then add the chicken (that we set a side earlier), broccoli and carrots, mixing all together well
Continue cooking on medium high heat until the chicken is cooked through, stirring frequently
Serve over rice or a bed of lettuce, squeeze the remaining lemon over top, garnish with chopped fresh basil, or parsley (optional), enjoy!


Swedish Apple Cake

This breakfast cake can be considered a close relative to a pancake, Not only for its somewhat similar ingredients, but also for the fact that you pour the batter into a hot frying pan. I was immediately drawn to it as an alternative to the Saturday morning pancakes I make for my family every week. All three of my girls loved it, and asked for more. I found this recipe on Jill's Hey that Tastes Good blog last month and knew I had to make it! Here is Jill's original Swedish Apple Cake post I've changed mine slightly.
The other thing that I really liked about this recipe is that it reminds me of a baked pancake and apple dish my mother made back when I was a teenager, and there's nothing so compelling in taste as memory!

Swedish Apple Cake
serves 3-4

1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
Salt to taste
1 tsp vanilla (or vanilla extract)
1 tsp almond extract
1 cup Bob's Red Mill gluten free flour mix
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
3/4 stick of butter, melted
3 Tbsp applesauce
1/2 apple, cut into thin slices
Sliced almonds (optional)

Frying pan that can be placed in the oven (no rubber or plastic handles)

Spray a frying pan with cooking spray and place it in the oven pre-heated to 350 degrees
Mix eggs with the sugar in a mixing bowl
Stir in the salt, vanilla and almond extract and melted butter
Next mix in the flour mix, cinnamon, allspice, xanthan gum, then add the applesauce.
Once the pan is nice and hot quickly remove it from oven and pour the batter into it, place the apples on the top and sprinkle with cinnamon, and put it right back in the oven for 30 minutes until puffy and brown.
Let it cool for for five minutes, enjoy!


Pork Tenderloin with Rosemary and Feta Cheese

I can't remember exactly where I got the idea to make this recipe, but it has been a favorite of mine and my brothers for years. I have made it for dinner parties countless times and it always comes out great. Pork and rosemary are a great pair, and the saltiness of feta cheese makes this an awesome dish. I'll often cook with dried rosemary, but this is one of those times where you'll need to pay a visit to your friend with the rosemary bush in the front year and snip a few good looking branches, (when they're not looking) Just Kidding! Or you can always suck it up and pay $3 for a few sprigs of it at the grocery store.

Although this may also go well over rice, I have always served it with roasted red potatoes tossed with rosemary and olive oil, and then covered them both with the delicious gravy that this recipe yields. One variation of this recipe worth mentioning is to include pieces of thin sliced Prosciutto ham with the Feta Cheese in the stuffing, talk about bursting with flavor!

Pork Tenderloin Stuffed with Rosemary and Feta Cheese
Serves 4

4 cloves of garlic- minced
2-3 branches of fresh Rosemary, chopped-up and stalks removed
4 Tbsp olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
2 lb. pork tenderloin
3 oz Feta cheese
tooth picks, or butchers twine

1 Tbsp cornstarch

Frying pan
roasting pan
meat thermometer


Mix together 2 tablespoons of olive oil with the the minced garlic, rosemary, and a liberal amount of salt and pepper on a small bowl
Rinse off and dry the pork, and cut off any extra fat
Butterfly cut the pork, creating a pocket (cut the pork 3/4 of the way though lengthwise so it can be stuffed) see picture
Take all of the garlic / rosemary mixture and rub it on both sides of the pork
place the Feta cheese in the middle of the loin,roll up the pork using either toothpicks or twine to bind it - see picture
Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees
Heat a frying pan to medium high heat with the remaining olive oil
Brown the pork on all sides in the pan (cook for about 1 minute on each side), keep the pan and the drippings to use for making gravy
Place the tenderloin in a roasting pan (on a roasting rack if you have one) pour 1 cup of water in the bottom of the pan- (we will use this to make gravy later)
Cover loosely with aluminum foil and bake for about 30 minutes, or until the temperature in the center of the pork reaches 160 degrees. Important: Make sure the meat is cooked to at least 160 degrees!
Once fully cooked let the roast cool for 5 minutes before serving and remove toothpicks (or twine)
To serve, slice the roast in 1/2 inch pieces and drizzle with the gravy

Above: the roast is sealed with toothpicks.
Below: feta cheese is "stuffed" in the pocket

For the Gravy:
•Re-heat the pan you used to brown the pork, with the drippings, ad the drippings from the roast, and 1 cup of water, heat to medium high using a fork to remove the pieces stuck to the bottom on the pan
• Whisk together 1 Tbsp of corn starch with 1/2 cup of COLD water in a small bowl, slowly stir this mixture into the pan
• Bring to a boil while stirring constantly
• Once the mixture boils reduce the heat ,simmer for a few minutes and serve


Chicken and Rice Soup

I woke up this Saturday morning feeling not quite right. I wasn't hung-over and I didn't feel any flu symptoms so I guess it is just a cold. I believe in the old adage, "feed a cold, starve a fever" so the first thing that came to mind was to feed this cold some chicken soup!

Over the past months I have been collecting all of the unused parts from the whole chickens that I buy in my freezer. So I brought them all out along with a whole chicken breast and made a big pot of chicken stock which I let simmer for 3 hours. I strained the stock two times and put in the fridge. Once cooled a layer of solid fat formed on the top, which was easily removed. I discarded all of the chicken pieces except for the breast. I removed the bones from it and "pulled" the meat from it, in other words, I tore off bite sized pieces to use in the soup.

I used to like to make chicken noodle soup with egg noodles, but of course egg noodles aren't just egg, they're made with wheat flour. I'd be interested to see if there is a gluten-free noodle that is similar, but I haven't seen any. I've used gluten free pasta as a substitute in chicken noodle soup before and was less than thrilled with the result, the pasta either falls apart completely or is too rubbery, either way it wasn't the texture I was looking for in a noodle. I've also made chicken soup with potatoes which I always enjoy. This time I've chosen to use basmati rice as the grain in my soup and the result was great.

Chicken and Rice Soup
Serves 4

2 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 large onion- diced
2 stalks celery- diced
2 carrots- peeled and diced
2 cloves garlic- minced
Sea Salt and crushed black pepper to taste
1 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried parsley
2 bay leaves
1 1/2 cup of cooking sherry (or other dry white wine)
8-10 crimini mushrooms- sliced
1 cup of broccoli- cut to bite sized
9 cups of chicken broth
1 cup of uncooked basmati rice
one whole chicken breast- cooked, skin and bones removed and pulled (or cut-up)
1/2 cup heavy cream


Heat a large stock pot with the olive oil to medium heat
Stir in the onion, celery, carrots and garlic saute for a few minutes until the onion becomes translucent
Add the Salt and pepper, thyme, parsley, bay leaves and the sherry
Next mix in the Mushrooms and broccoli, cook for another minute or two
Add the Chicken broth and turn op the heat to medium high, bring to a boil
Once boiling add the rice, reduce the heat to simmer and cook for 20 minutes loosely covered, stirring occasionally
After 20 minutes stir in the chicken and cream, bring it back to a boil and then reduce to simmer for another 5 minutes
Serve and enjoy!