Monday, February 25, 2019

One Pot Mediterranean Sausage, Rice, and Beans

After working from home all day with hair & make-up done, and wearing a lovely sweater, I've still got PJ pants on the bottom and I wasn't about to leave the house. (The perks of working from home and having video only on the top half!) So ... to the fridge and pantry for dinner I went.

I had all these ingredients in my house. I can't stress how important it is to have a solid pantry and freezer full of ingredients you can use at a moment's notice. Everyone enjoyed this recipe, so here I am recording it for future use. It was SO easy and came together super fast. Clean up was easy, too (or so I hear from my 16 year old!).



4 T olive oil, plus more for drizzling when serving
2 packages spinach and feta chicken sausage (total of 8 links)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 - 1/2 tsp dried pepper flakes (or to your taste)
1 package frozen organic chopped spinach
1 15-oz can organic cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1 15-oz can organic petite diced tomatoes (my can had no salt added)
1 1/2 cups jasmine rice
2 1/2 cups chicken broth (homemade, please)
1 tsp dried oregano
salt and pepper to taste


1. Heat olive oil in large dutch oven over medium-high heat. Slice sausages into bite-sized discs and add to pot. Add garlic and pepper flakes and stir for about 10-20 seconds or until the garlic becomes fragrant. Toss in frozen spinach and stir well, crunching apart the bigger frozen chunks.

2. Meanwhile, open the beans and rinse. Pour into pot. Open tomatoes and pour into the pot. Add rice. Stir well. Add chicken broth, oregano, and about 1 tsp of salt and freshly ground pepper. Mix well.

3. Bring mixture to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low. Cook until rice is completely tender, about 20-25 minutes. Stir well from the bottom of the pot. Adjust seasoning. Portion into serving bowls and drizzle about 1/2 teaspoon olive oil on top to serve. Top with grated Parmesan cheese, if desired. 

Monday, September 11, 2017

Chicken Zucchini Basil Soup

I know it sounds weird, but stick with me - this soup is DELICIOUS!

In my garden I have zucchini. So. Much. Zucchini. My family is getting tired of eating it in its various easily-recognizable forms: as part of a veggie omelette, sauteed, various baked versions - the standards.

Also in my garden, I have more basil than I can use for making pesto, caprese salad, and in anything else made with tomatoes. I need to use it up before it goes to seed.

Suddenly today, with the remains of what was Hurricane Irma rolling into town, the weather turned chilly and rainy, while at the same time I also needed to make another batch of my chicken broth. Perfect timing all around for a soup.

These days, I'm eating ultra low-carb, a modified ketogenic diet, which also has high fat. This recipe qualifies. Don't ask for macros or counts; I don't keep that close track, yet still managed to drop 25 pounds and keep it off. (I still have that last stubborn 10 lbs to go, but I'll take the win!)

I also have to feed my family, including my hungry-man personal trainer hubby. He insists on A LOT of protein with our dinner meals, meaning meat.

I came across a half dozen or more recipes online for zucchini basil soup, but they are generally vegan, vegetarian, and/or low-fat, none of which would work for how my family currently is eating.

This is my take on the recipes I found. Keep in mind, making this low-fat and/or vegan would be easy - simply substitute vegetable broth and don't use chicken, or whipping cream and garnish with only chopped basil but no sour cream.

But we loved it just like this, which is why I'm writing about it here - so I don't forget and can make it again later!

Another reason I made this recipe: I had most of a rotisserie chicken in the fridge. As I said, I knew I needed to make another batch of broth, and my daughter wanted some, plus the grocery store had them on an amazing sale, so of course I picked one up. Any chance you get to pick up a grocery-store made rotisserie chicken, grab one because they are so easy to use in recipes. And after you pick the meat off the carcass, you can use that for your chicken broth. So good!

Finally, I tried something else new. I'd sung the praises of my Vitamix to my mother-in-law for about a year or so when she decided to take the plunge and get one, too. She also loves it and she uses her Vitamix to shred chicken for various recipes. I figured making soup would be as good a time as any to give shredding chicken in the Vitamix a try and I was rewarded with a result perfect for this soup!

Here it is! Give it a try and let me know if you enjoy it!




3 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Vidalia or other sweet yellow onions, chopped
8 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
2-3 pounds fresh zucchini, large diced
8 cups homemade chicken broth
1 tsp pink Himalayan salt
fresh ground pepper
1 cup tightly packed fresh basil leaves
1/2 - 3/4 cooked rotisserie chicken, shredded in Vitamix (or chopped finely)  (2 breasts, 1 thigh, 1 leg, etc.)
1/2 whipping cream
sour cream and extra basil for garnish


1. Heat olive oil in large dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onions and cook for 2-3 minutes until translucent. Add garlic and lower temperature to medium; saute for 2-3 minutes more.

2. Stir in zucchini and broth and season with salt and pepper to taste. Bring to boil and lower temperature. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. After 15 minutes, the zucchini should be translucent and easily smashed with a fork. Remove from heat and add basil. Use an immersion blender or add to blender to puree. If using a regular blender, puree in batches, and start slowly, using a towel to cover the lid to avoid exploding hot soup everywhere. (If you don't have an immersion blender, get this one. You'll wonder how you ever lived without it!). The basil will be visible as small flecks ... that's ok. It's perfect!

4. Stir in chicken and cream and return to medium heat. Stir and simmer about 5-7 minutes. Season again with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and a chiffonade of basil on top. If your diet allows, you can also add a nice crusty bread to dunk in the soup. My kids loved it!

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

No-Bake Banana Cream Pie with Chocolate Crust Recipe [Vegan, Gluten Free, Sugar Free]

Now here's a dessert you can feel good about eating and serving to people you love!

If you like chocolate dipped frozen bananas, you'll need to bookmark this page because it's that flavor, but easier to eat and far more nutritious with the added ingredients, no sugar, no dairy, and all raw ingredients. Plus - it's perfect when you want to whip up a yummy dessert without turning on the oven. Somehow when something I prepare doesn't go into the oven, it feels like less of a production and so much easier. That could just be me!

Yesterday was PI Day - you know 3.14 - and to celebrate the occasion, or any occasion really, I made food to go with the theme, which means yesterday was all about the pies! Chicken pot pie was for dinner  (delicious, but not quite where I want it to be for my blog) and for dessert this decadent, creamy, dreamy banana cream pie.

I seek to make my food be plant-based and as nutritious as possible. After hunting online for inspiration, I came up with the following lusciousness everyone in the family enjoyed. I hope you enjoy it, too! We will be adding it to our regular rotation of healthy desserts. Will you? Let me know in the comments below!

No-Bake Banana Cream Pie with Chocolate Crust

Chocolate Crust Ingredients:
2 Tablespoons raw cacao powder
1/2 cup raw pecans (or walnuts would also be delicious)
1/2 cup unsweetened raw coconut
1/2 cup organic raisins (I've also done this with dates, but I always have raisins and it came out perfectly!)
1 Tablespoon coconut oil

Put all ingredients into food processor or high speed blender and blend until well combined and nuts are ground. I like the nuts a little bigger and chunkier for more texture, but you can grind yours as much or as little as you like.

Press into a glass pie plate using a spoon or your fingers. Freeze while you prepare the filling. 

Filling Ingredients:
1 1/4 cup raw cashews, soaked and drained (Most recipes tell you to soak these for a minimum of 4 hours or overnight, but with the Vitamix it's not necessary. Before doing anything else with the crust, I add the cashews to a Mason jar and cover with filtered water. I add all the other filling ingredients to the blender first and then drain the cashews just before adding to the blender. Works like a charm!)

3 heaping tablespoons coconut oil, melted (if it's a hot day, leave it out on the counter, it'll melt quickly!)
1/4 cup organic maple syrup (agave would also work)
1 medium *just ripe* banana (mostly yellow with a few tiny brown spots, equals about 1/2 cup mashed)
1/3 cup full fat coconut milk (from the can, not carton)
1/2 teaspoon organic pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon Himalayan sea salt
2-3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice (juice of 1 small organic lemon)

Put all filling ingredients into a high speed blender and blend on high for about 1-2 minutes until the filling is silky smooth and creamy. It should be thick, but not so think you need to use a tamper. If it is too think, add a tiny bit more coconut milk, coconut water, or filtered water to smooth it out and continue blending til very smooth.

Pour filling into prepared crust and freeze until serving, at least 2 hours, or more for a firmer pie.

Top with whipped coconut cream and enjoy!  

You may be tempted to leave out the lemon juice and salt, but both are needed. The tiny bit of salt enhances the flavors dramatically. The lemon juice is needed for the cashews. They neutralize the "cashew" flavor so you'll never know there are nuts in this filling. You don't want anything to compete with the tropical flavors from the banana and coconut. You will not be able to taste the lemon. I promise. :-)

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Creamy Green Goddess Feel Better Soup [Gluten free, dairy-free, vegan]

Sick, sick, sick.

If I wasn't sick, the name of this soup might be different, but I've got a lingering case of bronchitis and wanted to make some soup from the leftover broccoli from the other night. I searched a bunch of recipes starting with vegan broccoli soup (because milk or cream or cheese when you're sick isn't smart and I limit dairy anyway) and came up with something that turned into deliciousness in my Vitamix. Give it a try, whether you're sick or feeling fabulous. I already feel a spring in my step less than an hour later!

Remember - use all organic ingredients when possible and rinse all produce before tossing it into your blender.

Creamy Green Goddess Feel Better Soup

2 cups filtered water
1 cup broccoli (mine was steamed for about a minute and leftover from the night before, but raw would be fine)
1 stalk of celery (with leaves)
1/4 yellow squash or zucchini (I had yellow squash on hand)
1 kale leaf (I used Tuscan kale)
juice from 1/2 lemon
1 cup raw cashews
leaves from 3 springs of thyme
1 tablespoon brewer's yeast flakes
1 tsp sea salt
a few grinds freshly ground pepper

Add all ingredients into a high speed blender and blend on high for 5-6 minutes until hot. Check seasoning with salt and pepper, serve and enjoy!

Monday, September 28, 2015

Sorta-Souffles - Italian Baked Eggs and Bacon

I served mine with raisin toast!
Yesterday's Sunday breakfast was fantastic. My husband and girls LOVED it. What I liked is that I could whip it up, and while it was baking, get dressed and ready to head out to church. It felt very relaxed, which is how a Sunday morning should feel, right?!

This is gluten-free and if you wanted to leave out the cheese, you could easily make it dairy-free.

Sorta-Souffle Minis - Italian Baked Eggs and Bacon 


2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup diced onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup fresh baby spinach leaves
1/2 teaspoon sea salt. divided
4 ounces pancetta, cut into small pieces (Italian bacon)  (Note - I have also used Canadian bacon; you could try regular cooked bacon or even prosciutto)
olive oil spray for oiling the ramekins
6 large eggs
3/4 cup plain almond milk

1 teaspoon dried Italian herb seasoning
freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 cup provolone cheese, cut into small pieces 

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese


Preheat the oven to 400F. In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion and saute until soft and translucent, about 4-6 minutes. Add the spinach, garlic, and 1/4 teaspoon salt and saute for an additional 1-2 minutes until the spinach is fully wilted and the garlic doesn't burn. Stir in the meat and let cool.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, almond milk, herbs, freshly ground pepper, and remaining salt. Fold in the cooked onion mixture and provolone cheese and stir to combine well, making sure the cheese doesn't clump together.

Spray 6 ramekins with olive oil spray and divide mixture evenly among ramekins using a ladle to measure. Evenly distribute Parmesan cheese to top all mini-souffles.

Place on cookie sheet and into preheated oven and bake for 20-25 minutes until the tops are golden and the souffles have puffed slightly. Enjoy warm from the oven.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Garlic Lemon Vinaigrette Dressing

This photo is not my own but from
another blogger. This is exactly how
my dressing looks, but in case you want
to try another recipe, you can
find this one at:
I'll update with my own photo soon!

Since the last time I wrote, my husband and I packed up our family home in the suburbs of Chicago, where I've lived since I was 10 years old, and moved to Knoxville, Tennessee. I've been cooking, but a bit too busy to blog!

Where we used to live, my parents were about three miles from our house. My life resembled the TV sitcom, "Everybody Loves Raymond," where I was Raymond (I'm not kidding!). It was a fabulous life, but we decided our family was ready for a change. My husband had a career opportunity here in East Tennessee, and my in-laws live in the area, so we knew the timing was right for our move down south and so far we are enjoying it very much!

This dressing is one of my favorites because it is so easy to make and is so delicious - especially with a green that can hold up to the amount of garlic, like baby arugula - also known as rocket (I love that name!), or a mix of other hearty leaves like beet greens, dandelion greens, escarole or you can jump on the kale craze and enjoy this dressing on a baby kale salad.  

Today I hosted my mother-in-law and father-in-law for a lovely Sunday brunch and served:

Egg Casserole
Arugula Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
Fresh Watermelon
Double Chocolate Zucchini Mini Muffins

Everything was organic, home-prepared in my kitchen and came out very well. I'll post a separate entry for each item I served. Because my Mom-in-law asked specifically for the dressing recipe, I decided to start there!

Garlic Lemon Vinaigrette Dressing
(Dairy-free, gluten-free, sugar-free )


¼ c olive oil
¼ c fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp lemon zest
¼ tsp of xylitol, stevia, monk fruit, or other natural sweetener OR 1 Tablespoon organic, raw honey
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp fresh oregano, minced (or ½ tsp dried)

Sea Salt to taste
Freshly ground Pepper to taste

Place all ingredients into a jar (Ball or Mason style), tightly close the lid and shake it like you mean it for about 15-20 seconds. Serve over any firm, greens; my favorite is organic baby arugula.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Dairy Free Creamy Garlic Calamari with Wilted Fresh Spinach over Fettuccine

Yes, that's a tiny bit of organic Parmesean on top.
Leave it off for 100% dairy-free.
Oh my. This was SO good. Well... I can pretty much say that about any food I end up posting here because I only post the really good stuff!

When I was in my mid-20s I gave up dairy totally for about a year or so. At the time, it wasn't as easy as it is today because there were so few alternatives, and almost no one writing dairy-free recipes online. But when I gave up eating all forms of dairy, I noticed my seasonal allergies completely vanished, almost like magic. I felt better and didn't miss it - too much.

Milk was an easy thing. I did rice milk at the time and it didn't take much getting used to. It was similar in texture to skim milk. So that one was simple.

But then, there was cheese. Glorious creamy, melty, flavorful, cheese. The substitutes SUCKED. It wasn't even worth it to eat the fake, plasticy, artificial-tasting sort of lookalike.  Cheese did me in.

There was the Parmesan cheese I missed putting on my pasta.

And the creaminess of a beautiful bowl of mac-n-cheese.

And a slice of swiss on a turkey sandwich.

And pizza. Oh yes. Pizzzzzzaaaaaahhhhh.

So I slowly went back to dairy.

Now that I'm cleaning up my diet and looking at foods that "bother" me, of course, dairy is tops on that list. So when I cook, I seek to eliminate as much dairy as possible. When I *do* use dairy, it's organic and I use it sparingly. Or I go all-in and know I'm going to be in pain later. But it's becoming less and less worth it for the pain.

My kiddos wanted calamari (they're foodies). I was feeling like a little creaminess. And this is what I came up with:


Dairy Free Creamy Garlic Calamari with Wilted Fresh Spinach over Fettuccine


4 Tablespoons Olive oil, separated
1 onion, chopped (I used organic vidalias)
7-8 cloves garlic, minced, separated
1 cup white wine
1 cup water
1/2 cup cashews
Juice of 1 lemon
4 Tablespoons Brewers yeast
3 tsp Salt, separated (or to taste)
1/2 tsp dried basil
1 bag fresh spinach
1 lb raw frozen calamari
1 package gluten free fettuccine noodles, cooked according to package instructions
1-2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes


Prepare noodles. While water comes to a boil and noodles begin cooking, prepare the sauce and calamari.

Add 2 Tablespoons olive oil to skillet. Saute onion on medium heat for several minutes until translucent. Add about half the garlic and raise heat to medium high until both are slightly browned.

While onion and garlic are cooking, to high speed blender (like Vitamix or Blendtec) add wine, water, cashews, lemon juice, 1 tsp salt and basil. When onion and garlic are ready, add to blender and blend on high about 3-4 minutes.

After pasta boils, drain in colander in sink. Put pot back on the stove over high heat, add remaining olive oil and heat for 20-30 seconds. Add calamari and garlic and sauté about 1 minute until calamari is cooked. DO NOT OVERCOOK unless you want to eat rubber band-like fish. Toss in spinach and season with 1 tsp salt and stir for about 20-30 seconds until just starting to barely wilt.  Add sauce and warm through, about 30 seconds. Add pasta to pot and stir to coat.

Serve immediately garnished with red pepper flakes to your taste and with leftover chilled white wine in a lovely glass on the side.