Category Archives: Lunch

Broccoli–Oven Seared Sensation

Do you have broccoli haters in  your life?  Want to “wow” them with a new treatment that actually makes them long for you to prepare broccoli?  All you need to accomplish this great feat is: a blazing hot oven, smidgeon of salt, sugar and an even smaller smidgeon of pepper.  Are you intrigued?  I hope so.  Broccoli is on the super food list; finding a great way to present it to your dubious eaters is a task worth pursuing.  Don’t you agree?

Roasted Broccoli

One large bunch of broccoli

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon coarse black pepper

Oven prep:  put rack at lowest position; place a large rimmed baking sheet on the rack; turn oven to 500 degrees.  Yes, preheat to 500 degrees.

Cut broccoli stems off tops ( separate the tree tops from the trunks)

Peel the stems to remove tough outer sheaf.

Slice into 1/2 inch widths.

Place broccoli pieces into a large bowl. Mix oil with sugar and salt and a dash of pepper and drizzle over broccoli.

Toss with spatula to coat with oil.

Remove HOT pan from oven and quickly dump broccoli onto pan, spreading out the pieces.  It will SIZZLE!

Return to oven and bake for 9 minutes, until broccoli is nicely browned.

Serve to your broccoli haters….they will be amazed at the sweet, mellow flavor of this much maligned vegetable.


This recipe is just one of the reasons I renewed my subscription to Cook’s Illustrated.


This recipe is linked to Fight Back Friday @



Filed under Eating well, Gluten Free, Grain Free, Lunch, Side Dishes, Vegan

Salted Caramel Butternut Squash

Who knew you could have butternut squash for dessert? Or breakfast? Or all by itself for a snack?  With this recipe all sorts of butternut squash eating opportunities present themselves.  I confess!  Yes, I ate almost the whole recipe myself over a couple of days at various times and meals.  Salted/Peppered Caramel is showing up in all sorts of foodie sites.  Here’s a great starter recipe for you!

Salted Caramel Butternut Squash

2 medium butternut squash

6 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/4 cup brown sugar, light or dark, your preference

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

(Adapted from Barefoot Contessa)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Peel and removed seeds from squash.  Cut into cubes. Place in large bowl.

Melt butter in small saucepan

Add sugar, salt and pepper

Whisk into butter

Pour butter mixture over squash

Using your hands, coat squash with glaze (butter/sugar mixture).

Spread on sheet pan.

Bake 45-50 minutes, until beautifully caramelized

So simple, so delicious at any temperature–warm, cold or piping hot!


This post is linked to “Tempt my Tummy” Tuesdays.


Filed under Breakfast, Eating well, Gluten Free, Grain Free, Lunch, Side Dishes, Snacks

Salmon Cakes II

salmon cakes

We decided to have salmon cakes for lunch the other day.  I had mentioned that adding some Panko to the outside might be a nice addition; so that’s what these pictures demonstrate.  Make the cakes as the linked recipe directs then before cooking, pat on some Panko on each side.

Squish the crumbs into the patties.

Carefully place patties into the heavy skillet when the oil is just starting to smoke slightly.

Cook until nicely browned on both sides. Definitely an upgrade.


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Filed under Eating well, Lunch, Main Dish

Vegan Peanut Sauce

Are you a fan of Thai food?  Peanut Sauce?  This post continues my search for easy, make-ahead Vegan food.  I started with an online recipe and expanded it to include more texture and flavors.  It was beautiful to make.  Hope you enjoy the pictures and are inspired!

Vegan Peanut Sauce with Rice Noodles

2 TB coconut oil (or other vegetable oil)

2 shallots

1/2 red and yellow pepper

5 large mushrooms

3 celery stalks

2 carrots

1 cup natural peanut butter, chunky or smooth

4 TB brown sugar

1 TB soy sauce

1/2 lime

1 cup coconut milk

1/2 to 1 cup hot water

Hot sauce to taste

Rice noodles, soaked in hot water until soft

Chop shallots.

In medium pan, on medium heat, melt coconut oil.  Saute shallots.

While shallots are cooking, dice peppers.

Add to onion

While peppers are softening in oil, chop celery

And carrots

Add both to onions and peppers

Measure peanut butter

Pour in soy sauce and brown sugar

Slice mushrooms.  When you are satisfied your vegetables are soft, in go the mushrooms.

Partially cover with lid

Cook briefly, until mushrooms are the way you like them…soft? Still some chew?

Squeeze lime to juice into peanut butter mixture

Stir together and “dump” into vegetables.  The peanut butter will melt as it heats.  Continue to stir until the vegetables are well coated.

Now for the creamy finishing touch…fold in coconut milk

Whisk gently until velvety, adding hot water as needed.

Pour over softened noodles and serve.  If you want more “heat”, add hot sauce.

For a non-vegan option, add chopped, grilled chicken

Although there are many ingredients, the prepping does not take long and you do it as you are cooking.  From first chop to mouth in less than 45 minutes.  You can’t get take-out in that time, can you?


This post is part of Fresh Bites Friday @


Filed under Eating well, Gluten Free, Grain Free, Lunch, Main Dish, Vegan

Vegan “Cheese” Casserole

This was going to be Vegan Mac and Cheese post until I realized that rice noodles were the only vegan pasta I had on hand.  I have been attempting to expand my vegan cooking/baking I do for my vegan son.  Mostly, it’s been Bean Enchiladas for ages.  Lately, I have been filling the enchiladas with not only beans but sauteed tofu, onions and chopped red pepper.

But I digress.  I did some research of recipes online for vegan mac and cheese and found a recipe that used not only nutritional yeast (a common favorite for the “cheese” taste) but sweet potatoes.  I was intrigued.  It passed my son’s taste test so here’s the recipe with my changes, comments and pictures.

Vegan “Cheese” Casserole

6 TB nutritional yeast flakes

1 1/2 cup soy milk

3 steamed and mashed sweet potatoes

2-3 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon pepper or, to taste

1 teaspoon cider vinegar

1/2 cup chopped onion

Rice noodles, approximately 12 ounces

Crumb Topping

1 cup Panko

1/4 cup vegan margarine

1 teaspoon veggie seasoning

Measure soy milk and add to a medium mixing bowl.

Add nutritional yeast, vinegar and pepper

Press garlic to mince

Chop onion.  The next time I make this, I will saute the onion in oil to soften and mellow the taste.  An improvement suggested by the recipient.

Whisk onion into yeast mixture

Steam sweet potatoes.  I am a huge fan of the microwave steam bags; easy and FAST.  Remove peels.

Mash until creamy

Soak rice noodles in hot water until soft

Melt margarine in small saucepan.  Add Panko and seasoning.

Mix until Panko is thoroughly coated

Stir softened noodles into sauce

Coat noodles

Place in baking dish.  I found these small foil pans at the Dollar Store.  They are the perfect size for small meals, made ahead.

Top with crumbs

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes until nicely browned.

I liked this picture so much, I had to add it at the beginning and end.

More vegan recipes to come! 🙂


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Filed under Eating well, Lunch, Main Dish, Uncategorized, Vegan

Mexi Chicken Soup

Storm clouds move in and soup season begins.  We have already had INCHES of rain and October has hardly started.  Soup is certainly one of the only things that improve the rainy day doldrums.  Something warmly spicy seemed appropriate for the first soup of the season.

Mexi Chicken Soup

One medium onion

2 tablespoons bacon fat or oil

6 carrots

4 chicken breasts

7 oz can green chilis

12 oz jar roasted red peppers

1 tablespoon chili powder

4 cups fire roasted diced tomatoes

3 cups chicken broth

1 15 oz can black beans

1  15 oz can corn

Parsley flakes

Chop onion…I like to slice thinly on my mandolin and then chop.

Since I had six carrots to shred, I pulled out my Kitchen-Aid shredder…it’s way fun to use as you can see…

Heat bacon fat in dutch oven.  Add onion and saute until soft and translucent.

Stir in shredded carrots and continue to cook until carrots are tender.

Cut chicken breasts into chunks.

Chop green chilies.

Do the same for the red peppers.

If you are feeling especially thrifty, you can throw the onion and carrot peels and chicken bones into a pot with water and make some hurried broth.  Boil for about 30 minutes and drain, reserving broth.

Add the peppers and chicken to the vegetables along with the chili powder.  Stir over heat until chicken is no longer pink.

Meanwhile……..drain corn and black beans.

When you are satisfied the chicken looks done, pour in the chicken broth, tomatoes, black beans and corn. Heat until almost boiling.

Sprinkle with parsley.  Serve as is or top with sour cream and cheese for a richer soup

Salt and pepper to taste.

Warm and satisfying…..welcome, Fall!


This post is part of Pennywise Platter


Filed under Eating well, Gluten Free, Grain Free, Lunch, Main Dish

Walnut Pesto (Crema)

Another recipe lurking around my files has been Walnut Crema….a pesto made with walnuts and red onion instead of basil and Parmesan cheese.  The pictures were lovely and it sounded so intriguing….and I am always looking for new offerings for my vegan son.  I was pleased with the results.  Some of the ways to use crema:  as a substitute for mayo, on pasta, as a dip or spread akin to hummus or on your next pizza instead of tomato puree. Feeling adventuresome?

Walnut Crema

Simple ingredients:

1 1/2 cup walnuts

1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 small red onion

Kosher salt

Fill a large pot with water; add 1 teaspoon salt.  Bring to a boil.

Add walnuts to steam basket, if you have one…….or you can just put the walnuts directly into the water.

Place basket into boiling water and blanch for 10 minutes, or until walnuts are tender.

Remove basket and drain, reserving 1/4 cup cooking liquid.  Blanching removes the bitterness of the walnuts.

Dice the red onion.

Heat one tablespoon olive oil in a saute pan.  Add onion and a generous sprinkle of kosher salt.  Saute until golden brown, approximately 7 minutes.

Combine the sauteed onion, walnuts and reserved cooking liquid into food processor.

Process until creamy.

With the processor running, stream in remaining olive oil.

It should resemble hummus. If it seems a bit thick, add a little water.

Let sit at room temperature, covered, for two hours.

Although not a vegan serving option, we spread it on whole grain bread, sprinkled with cheese AND


A taste sensation.


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Filed under Breakfast, Eating well, Gluten Free, Grain Free, Lunch, Main Dish, Side Dishes, Vegan