Tag Archive for 'Dinner'

Southern Hemisphere Meatballs…Meditation and Other Deep Thinking

I’d like to declare that we are officially in the era where meditation is not considered a fringe activity. In the day-to-day busy stressful lives we lead there is seldom time for ‘self-care’ let alone an at the ready tool bag that can help us release from the everyday grind of demands. We are hearing about the benefits of meditative work at the corporate level and even that Western Medicine doctors are prescribing meditation to patients. Continue reading ‘Southern Hemisphere Meatballs…Meditation and Other Deep Thinking’

Anytime PBJ Toast – The Make-Over

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I know, I’ve been silent. It’s not that I haven’t had anything to share, but rather too much to share to know where to begin. I am at some sort of a beginning and I’ve yet to crystallize my thoughts, but time and distance are moving me closer to that bridge. Right now I am the most simple version of me that I can ever recall. There is time to observe what’s going on around me, and even time to think through a situation and examine if my life pre-Cancer was all that amazing and worth repeating. Continue reading ‘Anytime PBJ Toast – The Make-Over’

Guinness Extra Stout Stew

guin stew finals shot

St Patrick’s Day brings with it all lore of little green magical men, visions of rainbows adorned by pots of gold and robust beer parties that go on well past any recommended time frame!

While I love the good ‘ole American-Irish tradition of making corned beef and cabbage I wanted to prepare something a bit more traditional. I realize that to any American reading this, I might sound as if I’ve gone a bit crazy. The fact is that the meal that most American’s grew up believing was a traditional Irish meal is Continue reading ‘Guinness Extra Stout Stew’

Swine & Wine Italian Pork Stew (Bourguignon)

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I was recently offered the opportunity to join a group of bloggers as guests of the Animal Agricultural Alliance, to tour three pig farms (Sow Farm on Prestage P12B/McDaniels Complex, Nursery Farm L&W Ammons and Finishing Farm C&C Top Hog)* in North Carolina. At a glance it seemed like an amazing opportunity, they would pay our expenses and we would enjoy the chance to learn something new. But I also knew it was a trip that would come with emotional and psychological risks. Without much hesitation, this part-time vegetarian decided Continue reading ‘Swine & Wine Italian Pork Stew (Bourguignon)’

Insalata Caprese

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Living in Northern California, with a generally moderate climate, I do feel spoiled by the constant flurry of good fresh foods I have access to. While I am cognoscente of it, I have an indulginest attitude. Ergo- I am lucky, I am appreciative, and I enjoy every opportunity to partake in the available local bounty. This time of year the bounty is abundant with the most succulent tomatoes and fresh herbs.

Good produce makes for great food. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to be a great cook to prepare delicious food. What you need is Continue reading ‘Insalata Caprese’

Blackberry & Proscuitto Goat Cheese Herbed Pizza

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Blackberries make summer memories

Summer simmers along, with hot days and warm still nights. This is the sign of a good blackberry summer. The berries hang heavy and ripe on their briers, waiting for eager hands to gather them. Heaving buckets heaped with berries comprise the Mt. Shasta Blackberry Festival’s iconic food – blackberry pie. As the summer days melt away, this end-of-summer staple, sweet tangy blackberries, ease us into the next season.

For our family, the Mt. Shasta Blackberry Festival has been a staple. There is nothing quite like a good ole’ fashioned summer party to push away the back to school blues. The potato sack races, watermelon eating contest and balloon toss contests are often picturesque images seen only in a Martha Stewart magazine but here, Continue reading ‘Blackberry & Proscuitto Goat Cheese Herbed Pizza’

Ricotta Kale and Spinach Gnudi (pronounced “nu-dee”)

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Summer in Florence, Italy conjures up memories of light meals involving quick summer preparations. And this past week with the heat temperatures hitting over 100 degrees Fahrenheit I was on the prowl to capture a taste of Italian summer.

Whenever I think of Italy, I flashback to my year spent in Florence Continue reading ‘Ricotta Kale and Spinach Gnudi (pronounced “nu-dee”)’

Summer Pesto Pasta Salad

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Eight weeks ago I had my first hand surgery and six weeks post surgery I practically made this pesto pasta salad myself. It was a simple and yet significant task, as it was like getting back up on the horse that threw me. I’ve often times told family and friends over the past few weeks that while I know I was lucky not to have injured my dominant hand (AKA my right hand), I am in no way a one-handed individual. I have learned to adapt to my situation at an exhausting pace – and my milestones have included saying things like, “I can put my hair in a pony tail!”

No gift of accomplishment goes unnoticed. Continue reading ‘Summer Pesto Pasta Salad’

The Season of Green Food Is Upon Us — St. Patrick’s Day Menus

Key Lime Ogre Mini Tarts

The season of green is practically upon us with the likes of green beer, minty milkshakes, and dyed green scrambled eggs. St Patrick’s Day occurs on March 17 and is a day to remember one of Ireland’s patron saints, St. Patrick. It largely celebrates Irish-American culture in the United States. So take this opportunity to pull out your mad green cooking skilz and have fun impressing your friends.

There are no hard and fast rules, and under no circumstances are you required to cook a ‘traditional’ meal of dry corned beef with boiled cabbage and potatoes. It can be your own take on a green themed meal. While there are a lot of ways to turn this typical menu into a delicious meal, anyone from Ireland will be quick to tell you that a typical Irish meal is boiled pork and potatoes. It is mind-blowing when you realize that this meal concept we associate with St. Patrick’s Day is really an Irish-American tradition.

Another revelation: There’s never been any actual corn in corned beef.;) Long before the word ‘corn’ referred to a vegetable, it was an Old English word for any grain still containing the seed. In the original preparation of English corned beef, cooks use coarse pieces of salt the size of grains to cure or preserve the meat.

Whether you want to host a St. Patrick’s Day brunch or a dinner with a new flair, which is always my recommendation, I’ve compiled an undeniably GREEN menu to spark your inner cooking leprechaun.

St Pat Day Brunch


Green Eggs & Ham

Leek & Potato Fritters

Green Lemonade

st pat day dinner


Chestnut Sage Pesto Bruschetta

Warm Brussels Sprout Salad

Lamb Chops

Mint Tea Julep (adult version)

Key Lime Miniature Tarts


Moroccan Preserved Lemon Lamb Tagine with Dates and Almonds


There is nothing like a hearty meal to shake off the cold winter blues. Fragrant spices — cayenne, coriander, cumin, ginger and paprika perfume this colorful stew. While the traditional dish does not call for browning the lamb before cooking this step tends to caramelize the meat and gives the dish an even deeper flavor. Depending on the cut of lamb used the stew will either appear shredded or chunked. Boneless leg of lamb roast can be used for a more traditional stew (cubed meat, a bit drier in texture) or lamb shoulder (falls apart quite easily) which creates a very moist deconstructed stew.

While preserved lemons need to be made at least a week ahead of time, they can also be purchased in some specialty stores. If lemons are not readily available and you want to make this recipe ASAP, lemon juice can be substituted. That said, I highly encourage you to make some preserved lemons to keep on hand – it takes all of 15 minutes and can keep in the fridge for a few months. I recently made a lovely batch of these with my canning gal pals Madge and Jessica. Below you can find Madge’s recipe which is simple and quick to prepare. A great base ingredient to keep on hand for dishes that call for a nice lemon flavor. If you’ve never had them, you can expect a mellow yet intensely lemony flavor, with none of the nose-tickling high acidic side-effects of the fresh lemon. The peel — which is the part most commonly used — is soft to the touch and satiny in the mouth.


Moroccan Preserved Lemon Lamb Tagine with Dates and Almonds


4 lbs boneless leg of lamb roast or lamb shoulder, visible fat removed and cut into 1-1/2 inch pieces

salt and pepper

2-3 TBS olive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 tsp coriander

1/4 tsp cayenne

2 tsps ground ginger

1 1/2 tsps ground cinnamon

1 1/2 tsps ground cumin

3/4 tsp salt

1 tsp ground black pepper

1/2 tsp crushed saffron filaments, steeped in 3 TBS hot water (optional)

2 lbs butternut squash, peeled and seeded, cut into 1-inch cubes

2 large carrots, cleaned and cut into 1/4-inch coins

1/2 sweet potato, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes

4 cloves garlic, finely minced

2-4 cups water, as needed

1 cup chopped pitted dates

1 1/2 cup blanched slivered almonds, toasted

1 preserved lemon, pulp removed and chopped, skin finely chopped or juice from one lemon and lemon zest of one lemon

2 cups tri-colored quinoa

1 vegetable bouillon

1/8 cups sliced almonds, toasted

1/4 cup chopped cilantro (optional)


In a large heavy skillet or dutch oven, over high heat, add 1 TBS oil. When hot, add lamb; salt and pepper. Stir to brown well on all sides. Once browned, remove meat and set aside. Add the remaining 2 TBS of oil. Add the onions and cook over medium heat for approximately 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the cayenne, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, ginger, paprika, pepper, salt and saffron. Add in garlic and cook for an additional 5 minutes.

Add the lamb, 1 lb of butternut squash, lemon pulp, 1/4 cup chopped dates and just enough water to cover the meat. Bring to a slow boil, then reduce the heat, cover the pot and cook over low heat until meat is tender about 1 1/2-2 hours. Add in remaining butternut squash, lemon pulp and sweet potato after 1 1/2 hours. Stir to combine. (If you are in a rush, meat can be cooked over medium-high heat, if covered and stirred regularly so that it does not scorch.) Check the liquid level regularly to ensure sauce is not completely evaporated. The butternut squash will break down and make the sauce thick, some may stick to the bottom of the pan.

(If making quinoa, prepare 15 minutes before meal is ready to serve. For this recipe, use 2 cups quinoa with 2 cups of vegetable broth, if using bouillon dissolve in hot water and bring to a boil before adding quinoa. Cook according to package directions. One plated, top with sliced toasted almonds.)

When meat is tender and ready to eat, remove from heat, add the almonds and lemon peel (or lemon juice).

Serve over quinoa and decorate with cilantro and chopped dates, if desired.









Preserved Lemons


3-6 lemons (depending on the size of the jar you are using), washed and dried

6-12 whole black pepper corns

1-2 bay leaves

1-2 cinnamon sticks

organic lemon juice, bottled is fine (or add more lemons to grocery list and juice filling up jar completely)



Quarter lemons without cutting all the way through the bottom of the skin so that lemon remains in tact and the pieces are still attached at the stem end. Generously stuff each with a tablespoon or more of salt and squeeze it closed. In a sterilized jar, add in some black pepper corns then add in the lemons pressing each down so that they are squashed together. Once the jar is filled, add in more pepper corns, the bay leaf and cinnamon stick, fill to the brim with lemon juice, add more salt on top. Cover with an over hanging piece of wax paper and close the jar.

Shake jar daily, to move the salt around. Allow to set for 7 days, by which time the lemons will have disgorged some of their juices and the skins will have softened a little. Close the jar and refrigerate or store in a cool place for at least a month. The longer they are left, the better the flavor. (If a piece of lemon is not covered, it develops a white mold that is harmless and just needs to be washed off.) More lemon juice can be added if needed.

Before using, rinse under water. Many like to scoop out and discard the pulp, using only the skin. Depending on the recipe all of the lemon may be used once seeds are removed.