Difficulty: Moderate

Serves 4

Fresh pineapple really makes a difference in this recipe. Half of one large pineapple will yield about 2 cups of chunks. But if the pineapple that is available isn’t ripe, or you are in a rush, then look for already cut-up fresh pineapple in the produce section of your market. Turn to canned pineapple only as a last resort, and make sure that it is packed in juice, not syrup. Because we like pineapple I used the whole darn thing. And it was delicious!

6 tablespoons red wine vinegar
6 tablespoons orange juice
6 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons ketchup
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large red onion, halved and sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 cups fresh pineapple chunks (14 ounces)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon grated ginger
2 scallions, sliced thin
S & P

Directions: Whisk the vinegar, orange juice, sugar, ketchup, and cornstarch together in a small bowl and set aside.

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and slice it into 1/2-inch wide strips, season with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over high heat until just smoking. Add the chicken and cook until no longer pink, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and heat over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and cook until just beginning to soften, about 2 minutes. Add the pineapple and cook until heated through, about 1 minute.

Stir in the garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Whisk the vinegar mixture to recombine, then add with the chicken to the skillet. Toss until all the ingredients are well coated with sauce. Sprinkle with the scallions before serving.


Taco Soup


Difficulty: Easy

It can’t get any easier than taco soup. A pantry meal at it’s finest! Top this quick concoction with fresh ingredients like creamy avocado, cool sour cream and fresh cilantro and you will soon take it to the next level. Hearty with 3 kinds of beans, tender chicken, corn, sharp cheddar cheese and the crunch of tortilla chips. Satisfaction in a bowl. Definitely a family favorite in our home. This recipe will feed a crowd (approximately 10 or so) or you will have leftovers, which is never a bad thing. Phil and I can stretch this for a few days and have happy lunches.

1 can kidney beans
1 can black beans
1 can pinto beans
2 cans corn
2 cans diced tomatoes
3 cans chicken breast
1 taco seasoning packet
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp granulated garlic
3/4 tsp onion powder
Salt & Pepper

Sour cream
Corn tortilla chips
Sharp cheddar cheese, grated
Fresh cilantro, chopped
2-3 avocados, diced
Limes, cut into wedges for serving

Directions: Dump all canned goods into a large pot, do not drain anything. Add 2 cans water. Add taco seasoning packet and remaining spices, stir to combine. Bring to a simmer over medium high heat. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed, finishing with salt and pepper to taste. The additional seasonings are approximate, add more or less according to your taste.

To serve crush a handful of tortilla chips in bowl, top with cheese and the taco soup. Serve with a healthy dollop of sour cream, a good sprinkling of cilantro, avocado and lime. Dig in!

Chicken w/ Spinach Pesto Sauce


Difficulty: Easy

An easy, fresh and healthy weekday meal is just a short time away! Whip up the pesto in your food processor, saute the chicken, throw together a salad and a veggie and voila! Dinner served. A nice way to get your veggies in, this pesto packs a punch with loads of nutrient-rich spinach, bright flavors from lemon, garlic and Parmesan. Great with pasta too. If you don’t have pine nuts, walnuts are easily substituted. Serves 4.

4 boneless chicken breasts, about 6-oz. each
3 cups lightly packed baby spinach leaves
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
2 cloves garlic, smashed
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 to 2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
1/3 cup olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan

Directions: Heat a large skillet on medium high heat. Lightly oil the pan. Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper. Cook the chicken until the juices run clear, about 5 minutes per side.

Combine the spinach, pine nuts, lemon juice, and lemon peel in a processor. Lightly pulse. With the machine running, gradually add 1/3 cup of the oil, blending until the mixture is creamy. Add salt and pulse. Transfer the spinach mixture to a medium bowl. Stir in the Parmesan. Season the pesto with salt and pepper, to taste.

Spread the about two tablespoons pesto over each piece of chicken and serve. Refrigerate remaining pesto for use later in the week, toss with pasta for dinner to accompany chicken or freeze in an ice cube tray and transfer to an airtight container for long term storage (about 1 month).

Buttermilk Waffles


Difficulty: Easy

Delightfully crisp, light and fluffy. I add orange zest and vanilla for a fresh taste. Easy to make from scratch and infinitely better than a trusty mix. This batter is thick. Top with fresh fruit and a drizzle of syrup for a wonderful meal. Serves 4. Double accordingly; when it is just my husband and I one batch is great, more than 4 then double and you should get around 8-9 waffles, thin with a bit more milk if necessary! It also depends on the size and depth of your waffle iron. Leftovers hold well in a zipper lock bag in the fridge and crisp up beautifully the next morning in your toaster.

2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 TBS sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs, separated
4 TBS butter, melted
1 TBS vanilla
Zest of one orange

Directions: Preheat waffle iron. Combine dry ingredients in large bowl. In a large measuring cup (4-cup Pyrex) or medium bowl combine buttermilk, milk, egg yolks, butter, vanilla and orange zest. Whip the gg whites with hand mixer in medium bowl until soft peaks form. Pour buttermilk mixture into flour mixture, gently combine until few streaks of flour remain. Do not over beat, batter will be lumpy. Gently fold in whipped egg whites. Cook according to your heart’s desire.

Roasted Cauliflower

Difficulty: Easy

I love cauliflower and it is best done roasted. Cauliflower has a bad rap because too often it is prepared wrong; boiling & steaming can lead to smelly overcooked and bland taste. Roasting brings out the delicate flavors and ensures even cooking, gorgeous caramelization and no smelly veggies!

1 head of cauliflower
1/4 cup olive oil
Kosher salt and pepper
1 tsp. garlic powder
Freshly grated Parmesan

Directions: Adjust oven rack to lowest position and preheat to 475 degrees. Trim outer leaves of cauliflower and cut stem flush with the bottom. Cut head into 8 equal wedges so that core and florets remain intact.

Line backing sheet with foil, place wedges on foil and drizzle with half of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper, turn and repeat with remaining olive oil and season again.

Cover baking sheet tightly with foil and bake for 10 minutes. Remove foil and continue roasting until bottom of cauliflower pieces are golden, 8 minutes. Remove sheet from oven, carefully flip wedges and sprinkle garlic powder evenly over cauliflower. Return to oven and continue to roast for 8 minutes longer. Remove to serving plate, sprinkle fresh Parmesan over top and serve!


Difficulty: Moderate

It’s really not that difficult. Easy as baking a cake, not a box cake but still easy. And infinitely better. My biggest gripe with any baked good that claims to be chocolate is that it is not enough. Not enough chocolate. Sure it smells like chocolate, tricks you into thinking that it is going to deliver. And it always falls short. Not this recipe. This is chocolatey, tender and moist. Perfect.

This recipe makes 12 cupcakes and does not double very well. If you need more then it is best to make a separate batch. Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated.

8 TBS butter, cut into 4 pieces
2 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup dark cocoa powder
3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 tsp. baking powder
2 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup sour cream

Directions: Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin pan with baking-cup liners

Combine butter, chocolate and cocoa in medium saucepan and heat until butter and chocolate are melted and whisk until smooth and fully combined. Set aside to cool until just warm to touch. Whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder in small bowl to combine. Whisk eggs in large bowl, add sugar, vanilla and salt and whisk until combined. Add cooled chocolate mixture, whisk until combined. Sift one-third of flour mixture over chocolate mixture and stir; add sour cream and stir to combine and then add remaining flour until batter is thick and all combined.

Divide batter evenly among muffin pan cups. Bake for 17-20 minutes. Cool in pan on wire rack for 15 minutes. Remove from pan and let cool completely.

Buttercream Frosting

3 cups confectioners sugar
1 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 to 2 tablespoons whipping cream

Directions: In a standing mixer fitted with a whisk, mix together sugar and butter. Mix on low speed until well blended and then increase speed to medium and beat for another 3 minutes. Add vanilla and cream and continue to beat on medium speed for 1 minute more, adding more cream if needed for spreading consistency. Spread on cooled cupcakes or pipe as desired.

Stuffed Peppers


Difficulty: Moderate

These are simple and satisfying. Classic rice-and-beef fillings with tomatoes, cheddar cheese, onion and garlic. A favorite in our family. When choosing your bell peppers it is best to pick those with a broad base that will allow the peppers to stand on their own, do yourself a favor and pick red, yellow or orange peppers. Save the tops of the peppers to place around the filled bell peppers to stabilize them if needed. Serves 4.

4 medium bell peppers, tops trimmed, core and seeds removed
1/2 cup long-grain white rice
1 1/2 TBS olive oil
1 onion, chopped fine
12 oz. ground beef
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, drained, 1/4 cup juice reserved
1 1/4 cups cheddar cheese, grated
2 TBS fresh parsley, chopped
1/2 cup ketchup

Directions:Bring large pot of water to boil over high heat. Add 1 TBS salt and bell peppers. Cook until peppers just begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Using tongs or a slotted spoon, remove peppers from pot, drain off excess water and place on a paper towel. Return water to a boil; add rice and boil until tender, about 13 minutes. Drain rice and transfer to large bowl.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Meanwhile, heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add ground beef and cook, breaking up beef into small pieces, until no longer pink, about 4 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Transfer mixture to bowl with rice; stir in tomatoes, 1 cup cheese, parsley, and salt and pepper to taste.

Stir together ketchup and reserved tomato juice in a small bowl.

Place peppers cut side up in 9-inch baking pan. Divide filling evenly among peppers, spoon 2 TBS ketchup mixture over each filled pepper and sprinkle with 1 TBS remaining cheese. Bake until cheese is browned and filling is heated through, 25-30 minutes. Serve immediately with remaining ketchup mixture.