Sunday, October 25, 2015

Blogging on the Road: Pumpkin Soup & Very Green Salad

A couple of days after Allison's visit, Roy and I took off again for a five week RV trip. We visited Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, and even spent some time in South Carolina. Cooking in the motor home is a bit of a challenge; the stove runs on propane and the convection microwave runs on electricity. It's a balancing act between keeping an eye on how much propane I'm using vs electricity - especially if we are hooked up to 30 amp instead of 50 amp. However, the autumn scenery has been so beautiful that I couldn't resist making some fall type food that pics up on the colors and flavors of the season. The pumpkin soup posted here is more savory than sweet and the salad has one of my all time favorite flavor combinations: arugula, Parmesan cheese, and lemon. The best part is that besides being tasty, this recipes are nice and easy! 

Easy Cream of Pumpkin Soup

Ingredients and Directions for six cups of soup or four bowls:

1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin
3 cups chicken broth
1 cup half-and-half plus 1 tablespoon for garnish
1 medium onion, peeled and diced
1/4 cup sliced green onions
1/4 cup butter
1 garlic clove
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds for garnish

Melt butter in a large sauce pan and add the diced onion and sliced green onion. Saute until tender and then add the garlic and the curry powder. Cook for 30 more seconds. Add the pumpkin and chicken broth and gently simmer for 10 minutes. Take off the stove and stir in the half-and-half. Check the temperature of the soup and gently reheat if necessary, but do not let it come to a bowl. Ladle into bowls or cups. Garnish with pumpkins seeds and a drizzle of half-and-half. 

Very Green Salad with Lemon Parmesan Dressing

Ingredients and Directions for Four Large Servings:

1 (5 oz,) package of spinach and arugula mix
8 oz. (1/2 pound) Brussels sprouts.
1 cucumber
1 large Granny Smith apple
1 lemon to make 1/4 cup juice
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

Place the spinach and arugula mix in a large salad bowl. Rinse and drain the Brussels sprouts. Cut the ends off and slice the Brussle sprouts lengthwise into very slim slices. Leave the skin on the cucumber, cut the ends off, and then slice and quarter. Leaving the skin on, core and dice the apple. Add the Brussel sprouts, cucumber, and apple to the spinach and arugula mix. Gently toss together. In a small bowl whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Divide the salad between four serving plates and drizzle with the lemon Parmesan dressing.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

What Allison Ate (While She Was Home)

We were absolutely thrilled that Allison came home for about three weeks this fall. She had spent the year teaching English in Spain, and then traveled around Europe this summer. It was a very fun visit; we spent about a week at the lake, and then the rest of the time we were at home. The weather was great! The mornings and evenings were on the cool side, but the middle of the day was filled with liquid sunshine and temperatures in the '70s. We took full advantage of our good fortune and managed plenty of hikes and bike rides. The above photo was taken on her birthday when we visited a very hipster restaurant in town that happened to be mentioned in Bon Appetit Magazine. However, the soup and salad posted here were not what we ate there! These recipes are quick and easy. They are also meatless to accommodate Allison's recent declining meat intake! However, slices of grilled chicken would be a great addition to either one. So what two dishes did Allison like enough to be posted here? 

Roasted Tomato White Bean Soup...

And Lentil Feta Salad

I hope you enjoy this soup and salad as much as we did!

Ingredients and Directions for Four Servings Roasted Tomato White Bean Soup

2 to 3 red ripe tomatoes
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1 (15 oz.) can chicken broth
1 (15 oz.) can cannellini beans (white kidney beans)
1 small bunch of lacinato kale
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
4 oz. piece of fresh mozzarella cheese 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Wash, core, and cut each tomato into eight slices. Peel and cut onion into eight slices. Peel and mince garlic. Arrange the tomato, onion, and garlic in an oven safe dish. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle the oregano on top, and place in the preheated oven for an hour.
After the tomato mixture has finished baking, place in a soup pot along with the chicken broth, beans, and basil. Fold each kale leaf in half lengthwise and cut the tough middle stalk out. Roll up the kale leaves, cut them in strips, and add them to the pot. Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and allow it to simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Cut the mozzarella into cubes. Ladle the soup into bowls and divide the mozzarella cubes among each serving.

Ingredients and Directions for Four Servings Lentil Feta Salad


1/2 cup black beluga lentils
1/2 cup diced onion
4 cups spinach and arugula mix
2 cups cherry tomatoes
4 oz. feta cheese
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 pepper
1/4 garlic powder


Rinse and pick over the lentils to make sure there are no twigs, etc. Place in a pan along with the diced onion and cover with 1 1/2 cups water. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to a simmer and cover the pot with a lid. Allow them to cook for 20 to 25 minutes or until tender but not mushy. Remove them from the pot, drain off any extra cooking liquid, and place into another container to allow them to cool while you are putting together the rest of the salad. Wash the spinach and arugula mix and divide the greens between four serving plates. Wash the cherry tomatoes, cut them in half if they are large, and distribute them between the four plates. Ladle equal amounts of lentils over the greens and sprinkle each portion with one ounce of crumbled feta cheese. Whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Drizzle about three to four tablespoons of the dressing over each serving and dig in!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Allison's Fake Paella

When Allison was in high school there were two things that were absolutely true about her: she loved, loved, loved learning the Spanish language and she was very social. It was the perfect storm for me to try to reproduce cultural recipes when she brought home large groups of kids that happened to be hungry. I sort of cringe when I call this recipe "Paella" because, although it really is tasty, it's not the real deal. When we visited Allison in Spain this spring, we ate at a wonderful restaurant right on the beach in Barcelona. The paella we had there was served in huge shallow dish and was made the traditional way with arborio rice that is diligently watched and stirred. The recipe posted here is yummy also - just different! It feeds a large crowd with little effort!


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 green pepper or a combination of green, yellow or red to equal a pepper, diced
2 large cloves garlic, minced or put through a press
2 (15 oz.) cans broth - beef, chicken, or vegetable
1 (15 ox.) can chopped tomatoes, juice and all
1 (15 oz.) can quartered artichoke hearts, drained
1 1/2 cups uncooked rice - brown or white
2 heaping tablespoons sliced green olives
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon red cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon saffron or substitute ground turmeric


1 cup frozen peas & carrots

Some protein: I usually add in cooked chicken. Traditionally it is shrimp, clams, chicken.


Over medium setting, heat oil in a large skillet. Add the diced onions and peppers and saute until tender. Add the garlic and saute another 30 seconds. Then, add the broth, chopped tomatoes, artichokes, rice, green olives, paprika, salt, black pepper, red cayenne pepper, and the saffron or turmeric. Cover and turn the heat down to simmer. Allow to cook until the rice is cooked, using the directions on the rice package as a guide. All the liquid will be absorbed by the rice. 

 Cover and turn the heat down to simmer. Allow to cook until the rice is cooked, using the directions on the rice package as a guide. All the liquid will be absorbed by the rice. Before serving, add the peas & carrots along with what ever meat desired. 

Monday, August 17, 2015

Chicken Fried Steak and Ron's Fried Biscuits

     Since we started living the "RV Life" this June, I'm afraid Yates Yummies has gotten the short end of the stick. Part of the reason is the travel journal I started,, but most of the fault goes to the fact that it's not all that easy to cook in a motor home. I finally got some inspiration when we visited Branson, Missouri last month. We joined some dear friends and since the area seemed like a cross between Las Vegas and a western style Disney World, I felt like we had just met up with the wagon train. The first night the seven of us went out to eat at a place called Lambert's which is actually outside of Branson in Ozark. The bill of fare there is good ole home cooking and I shocked everyone when I ordered chicken fried steak with cream gravy. I'm so glad I strayed away from my customary order of salad because it was so incredibly delicious. This place is also known for the rolls that waiters throw at patrons. I tried some of those too, but they sure weren't as good as the fried biscuits that Ron made us for breakfast one morning! His recipe was passed down to him from his mom and is a real treat served with apple butter. This post also includes my attempt to duplicate Lambert's chicken fried steak. Since the only ingredients needed are round steak, salt, pepper, garlic powder, flour, milk, and vegetable oil - it's actually really easy to make. It's also very yummy as well; certainly doable in a tiny kitchen and even at home!

Easy Chicken Fried Steak with Cream Gravy - Serves 4


1 pound beef round steak
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup milk

1/4 cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper


Pound the round steak so that it is about 1/4 inch thick. Cut the steak into four serving sized pieces. Mix 1/2 teaspoon salt,1/4 teaspoon pepper, and1/4 teaspoon garlic powder together and rub it on both sides of the steak. Set aside.

Combine 1 cup flour with the 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder and put the mixture in a shallow dish. Pour the milk into another dish. Dredge each piece of steak in flour, then dip into milk, then dredge in flour again.  Heat 1/2 cup oil in a frying pan over medium high heat. When a pinch of flour sizzles after being dropped into the oil, it is ready. Place the steak pieces in the skillet so they are not touching and brown each side for about 7 minutes, turning over only once so as not to loose the crust. Watch the heat carefully - I adjust it lower, then back up, so I don't burn the meat instead of browning it.

While the steak is cooking, make the gravy. Heat 1/4 cup vegetable oil over medium heat. Whisk in the 3 tablespoons flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 cup pepper. Let this mixture cook over the heat for about 2 minutes. Watch carefully that it doesn't burn. It is alright if it turns slightly brown. Then, whisk the milk in a bit at a time. Continue cooking and stirring over medium heat until the mixture thickens to gravy consistency.

Serve with some of the cream gravy drizzled on top.

Ron's Famous Fried Biscuits


1 1/2 cups vegetable oil
2 1/2 cups flour
3 rounded teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups milk
3 tablespoons vinegar


Mix flour, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl. Combine the milk and vinegar together and stir them into the dry ingredient mixture with a fork. It should be moist enough to stick together. If it seems too dry, add just a bit of milk.  Knead the dough a couple of times and then turn it out onto a floured board or pastry cloth. Roll it out to a 1/2 inch thickness. Cut into biscuit sized pieces.
Heat the oil to 325 degrees (oil should be hot enough for a bit of dough will sizzle when dropped into the pan).  Ron says a heavy skillet works best. Fry the biscuits in batches.. Drop the biscuits into the hot oil and place a cover on the pan. Roy says if this is not done, "The biscuits will be as hard as hockey pucks." After 3 minutes or when they are golden brown, turn them over, place the cover on again, and cook another 3 minutes. Remove from pan and allow them to drain on paper towels. Serve while they are still hot with butter and jam or even a dusting of confectioners sugar. These are really great with apple butter.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Cherry Chicken Salad & A Very Hungry Caterpillar Shower

A couple of weeks ago I had the joy of co-hosting a baby shower for the daughter of a dear friend. When Amanda (the mom to be), Mary, (whose beautiful home the shower was at), and I met to plan, I asked Amanda if she wanted a particular theme. She wasn't sure at first, but did know that in lieu of a card, she wanted picture books. So, I asked her if there was any particular book that was her favorite. She said she loved Eric Carle's A Very Hungry Caterpillar because the little main character was so cute. Amanda is just so cute herself and immediately set up a joint Pinterest board full of ideas for a Hungry Caterpillar shower.  Thank God for Pinterest! We got all our food ideas from our board, but the cherry chicken salad recipe is mine.  So many people have asked me for the recipe that I decided to post it here. I cut different types of bread (white, rye, whole wheat) in circles to make the caterpillar sandwiches, but it is also good served solo atop a bed of mixed greens.

2 to 3 cups cooked chicken, cut up into bite sized pieces
1/2 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup finely diced celery
1/4 cup sliced green onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
about 1/2 cup mayonnaise

In a large bowl, gently combine the chicken, cherries, pecans, celery, green onion, salt, and pepper. Add the mayonnaise until it is well coated - don't feel like the full 1/2 cup has to be used - it should have enough mayonnaise to hold it together, but not seem like it's "swimming" in it.

Golden friends who have known Amanda since she was a baby!

One Grandma to be with another golden friend.

Me, Marilyn (Amanda's mom), Amanda, and Mary

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Fun (But) Faux Pho

In past posts, I've written about my fun, fun friend Kim and my efforts to come close to duplicating her wonderful Vietnamese food HERE and HERE. Although she now lives in another part of the country we keep in touch through an occasional text or email. I had the chance to contact her a few days ago with a question about some photos she had taken for the organization we both had volunteered for. While I was looking over old files, I found this picture of Kim and the honorable mayor of our city, taken at a charity golf outing. Before that day, I didn't know her very well, but by the end of it I realized that she was a ball of fire with energy that never ran out. When I got to the event, I noticed Kim had added her own sense of style to the frumpy t-shirts all the other volunteers were wearing. She had turned hers into a v-neck, added a wide belt, and brought the ensemble to a whole new level with the addition of boots. She had commandeered a golf cart and said, "Are you here to help take photos? Well, hop in!" Then she took me all over the golf course. At one point we almost flipped the cart when we drove into a sand trap. She got us out safely however -  while she was roaring with laughter!  Kim introduced me to the deliciousness of Pho, the soup that is traditionally served as breakfast in Vietnam. Done right, the secret is the fabulous broth that is cooked for hours. I can't even begin to know how to truly make authentic broth for pho, but the recipe for my fake version posted here satisfies my craving. It's quick, easy, and light. Everyone can garnish it individually to fit their own tastes, so it's a fun and different kind of family meal. I've also included a sauce recipe from Saveur magazine that is great to dip the chicken in as you are enjoying the soup.

Ingredients and Directions for Four Large Bowls of Pho

For Soup:
2 to 4 pieces of chicken (boneless breasts are easiest)
8 cups unsalted or homemade chicken broth
1 tablespoon fish sauce (I used Thai Kitchen brand)
2 thumb sized pieces of ginger, peeled
1 package of thin rice noodles
8 green onions, sliced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped

For Garnish:
2 cups bean sprouts
1 bunch fresh basil, washed
1 tablespoon sriracha hot sauce
1 lime, sliced 

For Dipping Sauce:
1 jalapeno pepper, sliced
1/4 cup fish sauce
2 tablespoons lime juice
pinch black pepper

Put the chicken pieces in a soup pot along with  the chicken broth, 1 tablespoon fish sauce and 2 thumb sized pieces of fresh peeled ginger. Bring to a boil and then turn the heat down to medium low and allow the soup to simmer for 20 minutes.

While the chicken is cooking, prepare dipping sauce, rice noodles, and garnish platter. To make the sauce whisk the 1/4 cup fish sauce, lime juice, and pinch pepper together in a small bowl. Float the jalapeno pepper slices on top of the sauce mixture. For the noodles, rinse them under running water and then drop them into a pot of boiling water and cook for about 5 minutes. When done the noodles should be tender but still have a bite to them. Drain the noodles and set aside.

On a platter arrange the basil, bean sprouts, slices of lime, and the tablespoon of  sriracha hot sauce.

When the broth mixture is done cooking, remove the chicken. Slice  the chicken into bite sized pieces, and set aside.  Remove the ginger pieces from the broth and discard.

Now follow this order to build a yummy bowl of quick faux pho:

First, put 1/2 cup of cooked rice noodle in each bowl.

Divide the chicken pieces up evenly between the four bowls and lay it on top of the noodles.

Sprinkle two of the sliced green onions and 1 tablespoon of the chopped cilantro in each bowl.

Evenly pour the broth over the contents of each bowl.

Add the garnishes (add more garnishes to the bowl as needed - a bit at a time to keep them crunchy) and dip chicken in the fish/lime sauce as the soup is eaten.

Monday, May 25, 2015

California Carnitas Style Tacos

Light and Fresh  - Inspired by the Street Tacos in SoCal

View from Our Neighbor's Beach House

Chilling in the Courtyard

A couple weeks ago we visited Jenn in Southern California and were thrilled that Caroline could join us as well. Of course we had a wonderful time - What's not to love! There are tons of farmers' markets', beautiful beaches, hiking beaches, bike paths, and great weather! Our neighbor back home owns a vacation home and she graciously offered to let us stay there for a few days. It was just yards from the beach, and there were tons of taco joints within walking distance. I've posted about tacos inspired by California before: CLICK HERE and HERE , but this time I was taken by pulled pork variety. I've got to admit I was also influenced by the May issue of Saveur Magazine. The recipe I posted here is my quick, fast version - but it does take some time to either cook it low and slow in an over or several hours in a crock pot. Check out SoCal Street Tacos on my sister blog, Oranges and Almonds, for even more street taco options! 

This makes eight or more tacos:

Ingredients and Directions for the Pork:

2 pound pork shoulder roast
1 onion, diced
1/2 cup lime juice
1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 teaspoon ground ancho chili pepper
1 teaspoon oregano
2 cloves garlic, put through press

Trim the excess fat off of the roast. Place in oven safe dish with high sides. In a bowl put the diced onion, lime juice, orange juice, vinegar, pressed garlic, ancho chili powder, and oregano.and whisk it all together. Pour over the pork. Cover with foil and bake in a 325 degree oven for 4 hours or cook in a crock pot for 4-5 hours on high or all day on low.  At the end of the cooking time, remove from the cooking liquid with a slotted spoon, and place on a platter. Shred the meat using two forks.

Ingredients and Directions for Salad in Taco

1/2 head of lettuce, shredded
1/2 red onion, sliced
1 avocado, peeled and sliced
2 tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
4 radishes, sliced
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1/2 cup cotija cheese

In a large bowl place the lettuce, onion, avocado, tomatoes, cilantro, and radishes. Whisk together the vinegar and olive oil, pour the mixture over the ingredients in the bowl, and gently top. Sprinkle the cotija cheese on top.
*Note - if you have a few extra minutes before assembling the salad, place the red onion slices in a shallow bowl and pour white vinegar over them. Allow them to sit for 10 minutes, then drain them and add them to the salad mixture. 

To Assemble:

Warm 16 corn tortillas between paper towels in microwave on high for 30 seconds.
Place two tortillas together and spoon 1/4 cup of salad mixture on each one.
Place 1/4 cup of shredded pork on top of the salad.
Garnish with radish slices, red onion slices, and crumbled cheese from the salad