Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Arugula Sweet Potato Salad

This is the easiest salad ever - and maybe one of the prettiest. It's also super yummy. The arugula really works well with the apple, sweet potato and red onion. The apple cider vinegar dressing seals the deal. It's something that can be thrown together very quickly, especially by using the microwave to cook the potatoes. It's a very portable salad/side to bring to a pitch-in/potluck, just don't put the dressing on until ready to serve.

Ingredients for Four Servings:

4 cups arugula
2 large sweet potatoes
2 Granny Smith apples
1/4 cup minced red onion
2 tablespoons pomegranate seeds 
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder


Wash and pierce each sweet potato a few times. Microwave on high about 6 minutes until they feel tender when squeezed but not mushy. Slice them open length wise, allow to cool, then cut into 1/4 inch cubes, leaving skin behind.

Spread 1 cup arugula on each of four salads plates or put all four cups on one huge platter.  Put sweet potato cubes,  diced apple, diced onion, and pomegranate seeds on top of arugula. 

Whisk vinegar, oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder together. Pour vinegar and oil mixture over ingredients and serve.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Oatmeal Buckwheat Pancake Mix- An Easy Homemade Gift

I had been listening to foodie type podcasts of Christmas past, when I heard this idea on an episode of Bon Appetit Foodcast. The topic was edible gifts and this sounded very doable since I already had all the dry ingredients on hand, including lots of jelly sized ball jars. All the receiver of a jar has to do is add the perishable, wet ingredients to make surprisingly fluffy pancakes.

I did do some altering such as leaving out flax seeds and exchanging buttermilk for regular milk (or a nut milk) and vinegar. The original recipe called for whirling everything in a blender, but I don't like extra steps and I do like the fact that unblended pancakes have texture.  Since the recipe calls for buckwheat flour and oatmeal, it could claim to be gluten free.  If needed, I think the buckwheat flour could be changed out for all purpose flour. 

Small confession: because I bought my oatmeal and buckwheat from an Amish bulk food store, I jazzed the "Just Add" label of the mix up to say "Amish Oatmeal Buckwheat Pancakes".  It just sounded better - ha! (There's an old story that people were giving a liter of puppies away for free, but no one was interested in them. When they put out a sign that said "Amish Puppies for $50", the pups were all sold in half an hour!)

What's in the jar:

1 cup old-fashioned oats 
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

What's on the Label - What Needs to be Added

2 eggs
1/4 cup of melted butter
1 cup milk (can be nondairy)
1 1/2 teaspoons vinegar

Just stir the dry and wet ingredients together and fry as a regular pancake.  They are great with maple syrup or even yummy with just butter and a fried egg on top.


Saturday, November 23, 2019

Ruby Red Clam Sauce

So it's the weekend before Thanksgiving and you have lots of family coming in? Maybe the cousins from Detroit or the kids are home from college? Well, they all want to eat and but who wants to spend a lot of time in the kitchen right before the most labor intensive cooking day of the year?

I learned this fast, little cheat of a recipe from Ruby Menozzi, a Florida friend from Upstate New York. Ruby and her husband Ed come from huge families and they are used to feeding a lot of people, without being stuck behind a stove.

This easy recipe feeds a crowd with little effort because it relies on ingredients such as canned clams, tomato juice, and tomato paste. In fact, Ruby uses garlic from a jar and dried parsley- but even I couldn't go that far! (But it could be done!)  If someone feels that bad about cheating with canned clams, run to Sam's Club or Costco and get some frozen clams. Steam them and stick the shells on the top when it served - but wait - who wants to go to all that trouble!

Ruby Menozzi's Red Clam Sauce - Serves 8


Several glugs of olive oil - enough to cover the bottom of a large pot to about 1/8 inch
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 whole head of garlic, each clove peeled and put through a press or finely minced
1 (46 oz.) can tomato juice
1 (6 oz.) can tomato paste
1 (6 oz.) can chopped clams
1 (10 oz.) can whole clams
1 pound of pasta cooked according to package directions


Put oil in pan and warm it up over medium heat. Add pepper flakes, oregano and parsley. After they sizzle for 30 seconds, add the garlic and saute for another 30 second.

Pour in the tomato juice. Whisk in the tomato paste. Add the chopped clams along with the juice.

Turn the heat down to low and allow the mixture to simmer for an hour or so.

About 10 minutes before you are ready to eat, drain and add the can of whole clams. If the sauce seems too thick, add a bit of the liquid from the clams and some water. Simmer another 10 minutes.

Serve over spaghetti, linguine, or even zucchini zoodles.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

The Kane Sister's Pumpkin Bread (Muffins)

This recipe for pumpkin bread or muffins came from the same source as my family's legendary carrot cake- the Mueller girls. These two sisters, who I knew when we were all teenagers, seemed to be on a diet all the time.  It was so ironic that they sure could bake!  Just like their fabulous carrot cake, this recipe has typical ingredients but a totally unorthodox way of combining them. Besides that, the directions call for baking it low and slow.  It wasn't until years later that I realized how unconventional the recipe was. Nevertheless, my sister Claire and I used the recipe often and brought the resulting pumpkin bread to holiday pitch-ins for years!

Pumpkin Bread - Yields Two Loaves or 24 Muffins


3 cups regular white sugar
4 eggs
3 1/3 cups flour
1 cup vegetable oil
1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin
3 teaspoons cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup raisins
1 cup chopped nuts such as walnuts


Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Oil and flour two loaf pans or insert cupcake liners in muffin pans.

Beat together the sugar and eggs.

Add the flour, oil, pumpkin, baking soda, nutmeg and salt. Combine well.

Stir in the raisins and nuts.

Make at 325 for one hour for pumpkin bread, about 30 to 40 minutes for muffins. Top will have characteristic crack and when inserted, toothpick should come out clean. 

If making pumpkin bread, let the loaf rest 5 minutes before removing from the pan.

Monday, July 29, 2019

Chicken Enchiladas with Tomatillo Sauce

Caroline and Adam have been renovating their Chicago suburban kitchen for what must seem to them an eternity. For several months they have been without a stove, oven or sink. In fact, there is only one room in their whole downstairs that isn’t gutted. As a result they turned an upstairs bedroom into a makeshift kitchen, using a toaster oven and microwave to get by. To help them out, I made a few frozen meals so all they had to do was defrost, then nuke or bake. One meal Caroline requested was chicken enchiladas with tomatillo sauce. Don’t let the sour cream in the filling scare you off- there’s just enough of it to bind the chicken and onions together and the tomatillo sauce supplies tartness to offset the richness.

Ingredients for the Tomatillo Sauce:

12 small to medium tomatillos
1 cup fresh cilantro, leaves and tender upper stems
1 small to medium yellow onion, diced
2 tablespoons canned green chili peppers
1 large clove garlic, put through a press
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cups chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon salt or less 


Husk the tomatillos by pulling the papery skins off. Wash and place in a pot of boiling water. Boil for 10 minutes and drain. Place cooked tomatillos, cilantro, onion, garlic and peppers in a food processor. Blend for about 30 seconds to a minute until all ingredients are combined. 

Heat oil in skillet over medium high until it shimmers. Pour the blended tomatillo mixture into the hot pan. The liquid will hiss and start to boil. Give it a stir and turn the heat down to medium. Cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure it doesn't burn or stick to the bottom of the pan.

Add in the chicken broth and stir well to mix it in. Continue to let the mixture simmer for another 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste and if needed add the salt. If not, discard it.

Ingredients for Eight Chicken Enchiladas:

3 cups cooked chicken, shredded or cubed.
1 cup diced white or yellow onions
1 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
8 large flour tortillas
1 Batch of tomatillo sauce from recipe above
2 1/2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese


In a bowl, mix the chicken, onions, sour cream, salt and pepper together.

Ladle just enough tomatillo sauce into a 9x13 baking dish to cover the bottom. Place a heaping 1/3 cup of chicken mixture in the center of each tortilla. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons cheese on top of the chicken in each tortilla. Roll each tortilla up and place seam side down into the baking dish.

Pour the remaining tomatillo sauce over the top, reserving about 1/2 cup for serving.

Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 50 minutes or until tortillas are browning and sauce is bubbling. Remove from oven and sprinkle the top with remaining cheese. Return to the oven and bake 5 minutes more to melt the cheese. Remove from oven and sprinkle with cilantro leaves as a garnish.

Friday, July 19, 2019

Tomato Chickpea Stew

Around our house, everyone knows I can throw together a meal in minutes. Maybe it's years of practice but I know the real secret is opening a can! Lately, chickpeas have become one of my favorite cans to open. I know many people think that it's a cheat not soak beans and cook them for hours, but who has time for that? Canned goods have great nutritional value as long as you don't see a lot of additives on the label ingredient list and they taste just about the same as fresh. This recipe includes three cans to open - but it also involves fresh kale! So, I don't feel too guilty about making this fast and yummy stew.

Ingredients for Two Large Servings:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 (8 oz.) package of cubed ham or 1 cup of left-over ham, cubed
2 good sized cloves garlic, put through a press or finally minced
1 (14.5 oz.) cans beef broth
1 (16 oz.) cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 (15 oz.) can of chopped tomatoes
1 large bunch kale, ribs removed and chopped 
1/4 teaspoon pepper


Place olive oil in large saucepan over medium low heat. When the oil shimmers, add the ham cubes. Saute the ham for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to allow all sides to brown. Stir in the garlic and continue to cook for 30 more seconds.

Pour in the broth and scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen up any bits that might be clinging to the bottom.

Then gently stir in the chickpeas, chopped kale, tomatoes and pepper.

   Bring the mixture up to a boil, then turn it back down to medium low heat and allow to simmer for five minutes.

  Ladle into soup bowls and serve.

Monday, July 1, 2019

Tortilla Pie

This is an old family favorite that's got it all in a wedge: taco meat filling, seasoned black beans, avocado and lots of melted cheese! It's a bit of a weeknight show stopper but easy enough to throw together in a hurry. I found that when I needed to bring a casserole to someone, it was a great option since it's different from the typical lasagna everyone else makes.


1 pound ground beef
5 tortillas large (10 inch) or 10 small (7 inch), flour or corn
2 (15 oz.) cans tomato sauce
1 (15oz.) can black beans
1 ripe avocado
Juice of one lime, about 2 tablespoons
*Taco seasoning mix, store bought or make your own
3/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves

*To make your own taco seasoning mix combine 2 tablespoons chili powder, 2 tablespoons ground cumin, 1 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt, 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder and 3/4 teaspoon black pepper.


Pour tomato sauce in pan and add 2 tablespoons of taco seasoning.

Stir the seasoning into the tomato sauce and place over medium heat until it simmers.

Turn the heat down to low, stir occasionally and let it simmer while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Drain and rinse the beans. Put the beans in a bowl and mash them with a fork. Stir in 2 teaspoons lime juice and 2 teaspoons taco seasoning.

Peel and scoop the avocado in a bowl. Add 2 teaspoons lime juice and 2 teaspoons taco seasoning and mash together.

Brown hamburger over medium heat, drain grease. Stir in 2 cups of the tomato sauce into the cooked hamburger.

Assemble the Tortilla Pie 

(If using small tortillas, cut filling amounts in half & make two pies)

1. Smear 1/4 cup around the bottom of the pie pan. Place a tortilla on top of sauce. Spoon 1/2 the meat mixture on top. 

2. Put a second tortilla on top and spread black bean mixture on top. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup shredded cheese. 

3. Cover with a third tortilla and ladle on the rest of the meat sauce.

4. Place the fourth tortilla on top and spread the avocado mixture over the surface.

Top with 1/4 cup shredded cheese.

5. Put the 5th tortilla on top and pour remaining reserved tomato sauce mixture on top. 

Bake for 30 minutes.

6. Put remaining shredded cheese on top of stack, return to oven and bake 5 or so minutes more until the cheese on top has melted.

7. Sprinkle with the cilantro leaves.

Cut tortilla pie into fourths and serve.