Sunday, May 8, 2016


 A very trendy side you see on many menus these days are lentils. These tiny beans are a “super-food” like kale. They are good for your colon and digestive health, high in fiber, good for your heart - high folic acid and magnesium for blood flow; they help to regulate blood sugar levels and cholesterol and are high in protein, minerals and antioxidants. Lentils come is several “colors” with the most typical being the green lentils which turn brown when cooked. They are easy to prepare and tasty, too. They pair nicely with fish, salmon, pork or smoked sausage.

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time - 30 minutes
Tools: medium size mixing bowl, medium sauce pan
Serves: 2 

      • 1/2 cup dried lentils
      • 1/3 cup finely diced onion (or leeks)
      • 1/3 cup finely diced carrot
      • 1/3 cup finely diced celery
      • 1 heaping tablespoon tomato paste
      • salt and pepper
      • 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth 
      • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
      • 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic

  1. Put the beans in a wire mesh colander and rinse them well. Pick out any beans that look bad. Place them in a heat-safe bowl and pour in boiled water to cover. Add 2 teaspoons of salt and stir. Cover the bowl and let sit for 15 minutes.
  2. In a medium size saucepan sauté the onions, carrots and celery in a little olive oil until just tender. Add tomato paste and garlic and cook about 2 minutes. Add 1-1/2 cups of the broth to the pot along with 1 teaspoon of salt and pepper and the vinegar. Drain the lentils and add them to the pot. Cover and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes - until the lentils are tender. If the liquid evaporates before they are done add the remaining 1/2 cup of broth to the pot.
    Sauteed cod with green lentils.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Super Thin Crispy Pizza

It was one of those evenings. Dinner time was approaching and I hadn't a clue what I wanted to have for dinner. Chicken again? No. A pasta dish? Just had it? Something with rice? Had rice twice already. Pizza? Yea - that's it. I love pizza! I always have tortillas in the fridge and they make a great, thin and crispy pizza without a lot of work. You can obviously use whatever you want or have handy on a pizza; you could just make a simple sauce and cheese pizza with some fresh basil, but here is what I did ... 
I preheated the oven to 425 degrees. Placed 2 tortillas on a round, perforated pizza pan (you can use a baking sheet) and once the oven was hot I put them in the oven for 5 minutes. When you take them out move an oven rack to the bottom shelf.
Meanwhile I fried up a small piece of breakfast sausage (Jimmy Dean) and chopped it up, sliced up some green bell pepper and grated some mozzarella cheese. I put the cheese in a bowl and added about 1/4 cup of grated parmesan, 2 teaspoons of oregano and a teaspoon of caraway seed. (The parmesan keeps the mozzarella from clumping and adds flavor as do the additional herbs.)
I opened a small can of tomato sauce and added a heaping tablespoon of tomato paste plus a teaspoon of oregano and a teaspoon of garlic powder. Mixed it up in a bowl, covered it and microwaved it for 1 minute. Then stir to mix well. (I always keep tomato paste in the freezer. I open a can, spread it out on a piece of plastic wrap to about 1/2 inch thick. Wrap it and freeze it. When I need a little I just cut off a piece and return the remainder to the freezer.)
I spread the tortillas with the tomato sauce, added the cheese, and then the sausage and green pepper. Then I placed the pan on the bottom rack. In about 15 to 20 minutes the cheese is bubbly and brown around the edges. The crust is super crispy. Eat up! (A version of this recipe is in my cookbook.)

Sunday, May 1, 2016


So… I love meatballs simmered in an Italian marinara. I could make a meal of just the meatballs forgetting the high-carb spaghetti. This led me to ponder making meatballs in some way without the work of making a marinara. Sure, I can buy a jar of marinara, but I dislike store-bought tomato sauces. All this led me to experiment with meatballs simmered in a simple beef broth. Basically these are mini meatloafs that get melt-in-your-mouth tender after absorbing the broth. I must say I was pleased with the outcome. (This recipe could easily be turned into a Swedish meatballs-like recipe by uncovering the pot near the end and reducing the liquid by half and adding a few heaping tablespoon of sour cream.) The next time I make this I’m going to add 8 ounces of sliced mushrooms that have been browned in butter in a skillet to the simmering liquid.

This recipe made a dozen large meatballs. I made them larger than you normally see a meatball in a spaghetti sauce.

Prep Time: about an hour including baking the meatballs
Cooking Time - 60 minutes to 2 hours - simmer as long as you like.
Tools: large mixing bowl, large covered pot, cookie sheet.

Serves: 4
 The Meatballs:
  • 1/2 pound ground pork
  • 1/2 pound ground chuck  (or use all chuck or pork)
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 1 cup seeded rye bread crumbs (make in a blender)
  • 1/2 cup regular bread crumbs
  • 1/3 cup fine chopped carrot
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
  • 1 tablespoon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
The Simmering Liquid:
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste 
  • 1 package of beefy onion soup mix (or onion mushroom) SEE NOTE BELOW 
  • 2 cans of low-sodium beef broth 
  • 1 cup water
  • 8 ounces of baby portobello/crimini mushrooms sliced
  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Place some parchment paper on a rimmed baking sheet. This is not required but aids cleanup and keeps the meatballs from sticking to the pan.
  2. Mix all of the meatballs ingredients in a large bowl. Form into 12 meatballs. Place on the baking sheet and bake for 40 minutes, turning once half-way through. Turning prevents burning and promotes even browning. When the meatballs are done, remove them to some paper towel to drain.
  3. In a large pot sauté the mushrooms in some butter until browned, then add all of the simmering liquid ingredients to the pot. Add the meatballs, bring the liquid to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cover. Flip meatballs occasionally. Simmer for at least 1 hour or up to 2 hours.
  4. If you want to add some veggies, peel some potatoes and cut them in chunks along with some carrots. Add them to the simmering pot in the last 20 minutes of cooking. When the potatoes are tender you are done.
NOTE: Onion soup mixes are very salty. If you prefer not to use them, just replace with a can of broth. In my experiment I did not add salt to the meatball mixture knowing they would be simmering in a salty liquid. And by adding potatoes at the end the salt in the liquid was absorbed by the potatoes. Potatoes are often used to remove saltiness.