Pico de Gallo

There’s nothing as delicious as freshly-made pico de gallo. Plump, juicy tomatoes mixed with fragrant cilantro, spicy jalapenos, garlic and red onions. Finished off with a fresh burst of lime juice. Can you almost taste it?  This is another one of those things, that, through trial and error, I finally came up with something that’s a keeper. Enjoy.

  • 1 large, ripe tomato, chopped
  • 1 medium jalapeno, diced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 quarter red onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • juice of half a lime
  • 1/2 tsp. of kosher salt, or more to taste
  • few grindings of black pepper

Prepare all of the ingredients as mentioned above, place in a serving bowl, chill and serve. Goes lovely with fajitas, over fish or just munching with chips and a nice cold beer or margarita.


Roasted Chick Peas

These are a quick and healthy snack, especially if you’re craving something crunchy and salty. Good replacement for chips. These take literally no effort. Unless, of course, you consider opening a can of chick peas work. Now that I think about it, it sometimes is.

Three ingredients. Simple, simple, simple.

  • 1 large can of chick peas, garbanzo beans or ceci beans. Whatever you call them, they are the same thing.
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. of some sort of seasoning blend. I use McCormick’s Vegetable Seasoning.

After opening the can of beans, pour them into a strainer and rinse well. Shake off all the excess water. Place in a bowl and toss with oil and seasoning. Transfer to a cookie sheet and roast in the oven at 400º for about 25 to 30 minutes, stirring ocassionally, until nicely browned and rather crisp.

Remove and cool.

Place in an airtight container and store in the fridge.

I eat them just like that or they are also good on salad in place of croutons.

Green Bean, Feta Cheese and Walnut Salad

Crisp-cooked green beans, creamy feta, crunchy toasted walnuts and spicy red onions come together in a delightful and healthy salad.  Dressed in a delicate dill vinaigrette. It’s quite pretty, too.

  • 1  cup  coarsely chopped walnuts
  • 3/4  cup  olive oil
  • 1/4  cup  white wine vinegar
  • 1  tablespoon  chopped fresh dill
  • 1/2  teaspoon  minced garlic
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/4  teaspoon  pepper
  • 1 1/2  pounds  fresh green beans
  • 1  small purple onion, thinly sliced
  • 1  (4-ounce) package crumbled feta cheese

Bake walnuts in a shallow pan at 350°, stirring occasionally, 5 to 10 minutes or until toasted; set aside.

Combine oil and next 5 ingredients; cover and chill.

Cut green beans into thirds, and arrange in a steamer basket over boiling water. Cover and steam 15 minutes or until green beans are crisp-tender. Immediately plunge green beans into cold water to stop cooking process; drain and pat dry.

Combine walnuts, beans, onion, and cheese in a large bowl; toss well. Cover and chill.

Pour oil mixture over bean mixture 1 hour before serving; toss just before serving.

Old Bay Roasted Sweet Potatoes

One word to describe these. Awesome.

I really do love sweet potatoes.  Simply roasting these with Old Bay seasoning, salt and olive oil, give this side dish the perfect spiciness that pairs beautifully with the sweetness of the potato.

To be honest, I didn’t measure how much I put on the potato.  I sprinkled liberally, I can say that.

I used one quite large sweet potato, scrubbed it clean and cut it into one-inch chunks.  I place them on a cookie sheet and pour some olive oil over top.  Then I added a good amount of kosher salt.  Everything needs salt.  Then I sprinkled the Old Bay over that and mixed it all up with my hands. If I had to guess, I’d say I put about a teaspoon of salt and maybe two teaspoons of Old Bay.  But like I said, I’m not really sure. But you could visibly see the Old Bay on them

Roast in the oven, uncovered, for about 30 to 40 minutes at 350°, or until tender.

Grilled Salsa

This salsa has a wonderful, deep smokey flavor.  Serve with Mojo Marinated Pork Tacos or anywhere you’d use salsa.

Makes 2 cups

  • 5-6 Roma tomatoes or 4 large regular tomatoes
  • 1/2 small onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, wrapped in foil
  • 1 jalapeno pepper
  • 1/4 chopped cilantro
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt

Preheat grill to medium-high heat.

Grill tomatoes, onion, garlic packet and jalapeno until soft, about 5 minutes, turning frequently.   Remove from grill and set aside until cool enough to handle.

Peel tomatoes, garlic and pepper. Place in a food processor with remaining ingredients and pulse until blended, but still chunky.  Set aside until ready to serve.

Lentil Soup

I learned how to make lentil soup by watching my grandmother, who would come to our house every Wednesday when my mom went to work full-time. So, she’d be cooking and I’d watch and learn from her.   I’ve modified mine a little bit from hers by adding the ham.  I like the smokey flavor it gives the soup.  If you want to keep it meatless, just omit the ham. It is still very good.

  • 1 lb. bag of dry lentils, rinsed
  • 1/2 cup diced carrots
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 lb. ham, diced (omit if keeping it vegetarian)
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 5 cups water to start
  • 1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 tsp. dry parsley

In a stockpot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add carrots, celery, onion and ham.  Season with a little salt and pepper.  Sweat over medium-low heat until tender.

Add lentils, water, tomato sauce and bay leaf. Stir. Add about a teaspoon of salt and a few grindings of pepper.  Bring to a boil for about 5 minutes, reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for about 45 minutes to one hour, until lentils are soft and soup has thickened up a bit.  Check and stir occasionally.

Taste for seasoning and add more salt if needed.  This needs a good amount of salt.  If too much water evaporates during cooking, add more until you have a desired consistency (I added one more cup of water to get the consistency you’ll see in the bottom picture).  This soup can have a very brothy consistency to extremely thick.  Me?  I like it somewhere right in between.

Remove from heat and REMOVE the bay leaf.  You do not want to eat that!

Serve with some good rustic Italian bread and a salad for a nice, low-fat, nutritious meal.

I like making mine early in the day, so the flavors have a chance to meld and the soup will thicken upon standing.

Penne with Asparagus

Yeah, I’m on an asparagus kick today.  I feel like I’m on Iron Chef and it’s the secret ingredient.  What can I say?  Beautiful, pencil-thin asparagus are plentiful right now, and I can’t resist.  Allez Cuisine?

  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper flake
  • 2-3 dashes of hot sauce
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 lb. asparagus, cut into 1 1/2″ pieces
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup grated cheese for pasta (your favorite)
  • 1 lb. cooked Penne pasta

You can keep this dish low-carb by using Dreamfields pasta, which I did.  No one even knew the difference.

In a skillet, cook garlic, red pepper, hot pepper sauce in oil and butter for 2-3 minutes.

Add asparagus and cook until tender-crisp, 8-10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Add cheese and pour over cooked pasta.  Mix well. Mangia!