Thursday, August 29, 2013

Slowcooker Chicken Breasts with Creamy Chive Sauce

(Adapted from "Better Homes and Garden 
Slow Cooker for Family Dinners")


2lbs. skinless, boneless chicken breasts
8 ozs. white mushrooms, chopped
1 medium shallot, finely chopped
2 - 3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon Worchestershire Sauce
1/4th cup butter & 2 -3 pats of butter
1 0.75 oz package of Italian salad dressing mix
1 10.75 oz. can of cream of mushroom soup
1/2 cup of dry white wine
4 ozs. of cream cheese with onions and chives (the tub variety works best)

Fresh chives, chopped for garnish


1. Sauté garlic and shallot in pats of butter with Worchestershire Sauce, then set aside; sauté mushrooms in butter and place in bottom of slow cooker. Place chicken breasts on top.

2. Melt the half-cup of butter in a medium saucepan; stir in Italian dressing mix. Add mushroom soup, cream cheese, and wine; heat over medium heat and stir until all ingredients are combined. Pour over chicken; likewise pour sautéed shallot and garlic over as well.

3. Cook on low for 4 - 41/2 hours; serve over rice or noodles, sprinkled with fresh chives.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Spicy Syrian Lentil Soup

adapted from "Bean by Bean: 
A Cookbook" by Crescent 
Dragonwagon, Workman 
Publishing, 2011)


1 cup split red or yellow lentils
2 tablespoons uncooked rice
1 carrot, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 jalapeno or serrano chili, deseeded and chopped
3 -4 large cloves of garlic, chopped
8 ozs. diced, fireroasted tomatoes
8 ozs. coarsely chopped sweet fireroasted pimento or other peppers
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

For garnish:

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
lemon slices
finely chopped fresh cilantro
sour cream or yogurt


1. Combine lentils, rice, and carrot with 2 quarts (8 cups)
of water and bring to a boil over high heat. Then lower 
heat to simmer and cook covered for 10 minutes or so.

2. Meanwhile, heat large frying pan with the olive oil over
medium-high heat. Add onions and cook, stirring, until they
become translucent and soft, about 5 minutes. Then stir in
chili and garlic and continue to cook for another 5 minutes
or so.

3. Stir onions, chili, garlic, tomatoes, and peppers into the
soup and add the spices. Simmer covered about 15 minutes.

4. Remove soup from stove and pour into food processor,
pureeing the ingredients. Alternatively, use an immersion
blender to puree the soup.

5. Return pot and reheat, stirring in the lemon juice. Serve
garnished with cilantro, thin lemon slices. If desired, add a
dollop of sour cream or yogurt to each bowl, then serve.


1. The finished soup is quite thin; personally, I prefer a much
thicker, almost stew-like consistency myself, so just before
serving I stir 2 - 4 heaping tablespoons of cooked rice into each

2. I think I'm going to use vegetable broth instead of water then next
time I make this soup, for some additional body and flavor.

3. Since only 1 pepper is used, this soup is only mildly spicy; upping the pepper count would make for a spicier soup.

Black-Eyed Pea and Lentil Soup

A thick, hearty soup for colder weather

(Adapted from "1.001 Delicious Soups and
Stews" by Sue Spitler & Linda Yoakam)


1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 - 3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons olive or peanut oil
6 - 8 cups of vegetable broth
3/4 cup dried black-eyed peas
3/4 teaspoon dried thyme
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 cups dried lentils
salt and pepper to taste


1. Sauté carrots, celery, onions, and garlic in oil in large saucepan for 6 or 7 minutes. Add 6 cups of broth and stir in black-eyed peas and herbs; heat to boiling, then reduce heat and simmer, covered for 45 minutes to one hour, until peas are almost done.

2. Add lentils and simmer, covered, 30 to 45 minutes, until peas and lentils are tender. Add additional broth if necessary. Season with salt and pepper. Remove bay leaf before serving.


1. The soup holds over in the refrigerator for several days but thickens; add a small amount of broth when reheating.

2. A variant version calls for adding 10 ozs. of diced, fire-roasted tomatoes when the lentils are added.

3. A spicier version can be made by including a teaspoon of hot paprika, cayenne paper, or red paper flakes. Or one could use a deseeded and finely chopped jalapeno or serrano pepper or a fire-roasted Hatch pepper.

4. This is the vegan version of this soup; one could use chicken stock instead.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Karniyarik (Turkish Meat-Stuffed Eggplant)

4 small eggplants
1/2 cup oil
3/4 cup hot water with 1 tbsp crushed tomato

3/4 lb.  ground lamb or ground beef
1 small onion, sliced
1 medium tomato, put aside 4 thin slices, dice the rest
1 small cubanelle pepper, put aside 4 thin slices, chop the rest
1-2 garlic cloves, sliced
1 tbsp crushed tomato
3/4 cup hot water

Peel alternating strips of skin lengthwise for each eggplant. Sprinkle salt on top and put aside for about 20 minutes. Squeeze, wash and dry them with a paper towel. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat and fry every side until nicely colored. Cut a slit in each eggplant and scoop out most of the seeds, making sure they don't fall apart. Place them in a clean pan.

Meanwhile cook all the filling ingredients in a small pot on medium heat. All the water should evaporate. Stir constantly towards the end.

Fill the eggplants equally with the filling using a teaspoon. Place the sliced tomato and green pepper on each eggplant. Pour 3/4 cup of hot water with 1 tbsp crushed tomato into the pan from the side. Cover the lid. Cook on medium-low heat for about 15 minutes.


1. Ground lamb is more common in the actual Turkish recipe, but ground beef works fine, too.

2. I personally like the meat filling with the addition of 1 or 1.5 tablespoons of freshly chopped dill and an equal amount of Italian parsley or cilantro.

3. Any kind of green pepper will do just as well as cubanelles, depending on personal tastes. I'll be using Hatch peppers in the batch I'm making tonight.

4.  They can also have cheese on top during the final stage of cooking; mozzarella or fontina works nicely for this, I've discovered.

5.  Using yogurt as a dipping sauce adds another flavor to the mix; I've also sometimes mixed  a dash (a teaspoon or so) of harissa with the yogurt to spice things up a bit.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Grilled Peaches with Balsamic Glaze

Grilled Peaches with Balsamic Glaze


2 fresh peaches, halved and pitted but not peeled

3 tablespoons white sugar
3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper

crumbled bleu cheese


1.  In a saucepan over medium heat, stir together the sugar, balsamic vinegar, and pepper.  Simmer until liquid has reduced by 1/2; it should become somewhat thicker.  Remove from heat and set aside.

2.  Place cut sides of peaches down on lightly-oiled grill surface.  Cook for about 5 minutes on medium-high heat or until flesh is caramalized.  Turn peaches, brushing the cooked surface lightly with the balsamic glaze, and cook curved surfaces for another 2 - 3 minutes.

3.  Remove peaches from grill; peel should slip off easily at this point.  Place on serving dishes, drizzle more of the balsamic glaze over them, and sprinkle liberally with crumbled bleu cheese.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Black Bean and Smoked Sausage Soup with Peppers

This is another good soup for
lunch on frosty winter days.

* * *


3/4 to 1 lb. of smoked sausage (either beef or pork)
2 14.5 oz. cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup chopped white onion
2 or 3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 to 1 red (or green) bell pepper, finely chopped
3 Hatch peppers, grilled, peeled, seeded, and
chopped into small pieces
1 cup beef stock
1 cup water
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 to 1 teaspoon dried, crushed oregano
Sour cream
Italian parsley


1. Cut sausage into bite-size pieces and fry in skillet
over medium heat until it browns a bit; remove from
skillet and set aside.

2. Sauté onion and garlic in skillet with sausage
drippings for 5 minutes; remove from pan and set aside.

3. Place beans, sausage, onions, garlic, bell pepper,
Hatch peppers, beef stock, water, salt, and oregano
in covered 3 qt. pan and heat to boiling; remove lid
and lower temperature, simmering until soup thickens
to desired consistency.

4. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling
of freshly-chopped Italian parsley.


1. The Hatch peppers I used were rather spicy, so I
didn't need to add any other seasoning but salt. You
could use other types of peppers (serranos, for instance)
or season with cayenne pepper or hot pepper sauce.
Or you can make a milder version without hot seasoning,
substituting regular pepper, thyme, oregano, or other
spices to taste.

2. I imagine one could use turkey sausage instead of
pork or beef; it's better, I think, to have a smoked variety
as that enhances the flavor of the soup.

3. Chicken or vegetable stock can be used instead of
the beef stock if desired, or one can replace it altogether
with water, although I think the stock helps give the soup
a richer flavor.

4. Afterthought: It's just occurred to me that one could
easily substitute one can or whole kernel corn for one
of the cans of black beans for an even more Southwestern
kind of soup.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Corn and Bacon Chowder

(Whoops! I accidently let a whole year slip by without updating
here; I hope to do better starting now with a recipe that I came
up with by combining a couple of different ones and adding a
twist or two of my own. Enjoy.)


8 - 12 bacon strips
1 cup chopped white onion
2 medium potatoes
1/2 - 1 minced red bell pepper (Optional)
2 14.5 oz. cans whole kernel yellow corn
2 cups of whole milk (+ about 1/2 cup for mashing potatoes)
1 cup heavy cream
6 - 8 ozs. shredded cheddar cheese
Salt to taste


1. Peel and microwave the potatoes; mash, mixing with
enough milk to make them smooth. Set aside.

2. Cook bacon in frying pan over medium heat; remove
when crisp, drain on paper towels, then crumble. Pour off
about half of bacon fat.

3. While bacon is frying, add corn, milk and heavy cream
to a large saucepan.

4. Sauté onion and red pepper in remaining bacon fat until
tender. Transfer to saucepan.

5. Heat saucepan contents to simmering, stirring in bacon
and cheese; add salt. Stir in enough mashed potatoes to
begin to thicken the mixture. Let pan simmer without boiling
for 15 - 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until chowder
thickens the desired amount.

6. Remove from heat and serve.


1. Instead of whole milk and heavy cream, 2% milk and
half-and-half can be substituted.

2. The amount of mashed potatoes will vary; just use
what seems best to you for the thickness you'd like.

3. Pepper can also be used, although personally I
don't use it in this recipe. Also, if you want a somewhat
spicier chowder, you can easily add some hot paprika,
cayenne pepper, or red pepper flakes; I'll most likely
use one of those the next time I make this chowder.

4. This chowder keeps well in the refrigerator.