Recipes from My Kitchen

For the Unmotivated.

Solo nights I try to get the adult-stuff done – tidy up the place, maybe do some laundry, get groceries, clean the kitchen, beach myself on the couch.  Some nights it happens…some nights it doesn’t.  So for those nights where you know you need to do things, but you just can’t Adult, I bring you another delicious one-pot wonder!

The great thing about dishes like these is that you can use/add/substitute almost any ingredient you want to.  The recipe calls for quinoa, but you only have cous cous?  Sure!  Don’t like black beans, try chickpeas instead!  Fresh tomatoes, canned tomatoes, with or without cilantro!  The possibilities are endless.  Throw it all in a pot, set it and forget it, head to the couch – remote in hand.  Glorious.

In all seriousness, this meal is great for a quick dish, side dish, or leftovers the next day (i.e. what I’ll be having in 5 minutes).  You pretty much get a big pot, throw in all the ingredients, and then wait for it to cook up.  It’s a pretty dish, you can tailor it to your liking, and who doesn’t like simple (especially on nights when your stomach is louder than your motivation)?

1460068212995.jpgONE-POT Mexican Quinoa


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 jalapeno, minced
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup corn kernels
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 avocado, halved, seeded, peeled and diced
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves


  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add garlic and jalapeno, and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  2. Stir in quinoa, vegetable broth, beans, tomatoes, corn, chili powder and cumin; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer until quinoa is cooked through, about 20 minutes. Stir in avocado, lime juice and cilantro.
  3. Serve immediately.
  4. (My Note:  Add meat to it for the leftovers, especially if you have leftover meat from earlier in the week!)
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Meat and Fruit. Doesn’t get much simpler than that.


All of my cooking magazines that I get have decided to go “light” for January, for all you resolutioners out there. Which, sometimes I find the recipes are less-than-appealing, but this year they were very fruit-heavy, lots of citrus. And I *love* citrus fruit. As I made my grocery list for the week, I tried to think about ingredients I already had on hand, as I scoured my recipe archives. It’s also a good time to try new recipes (I have a queue), and the citrus fruits of the colorful pages were calling me. And I had a grapefruit. It was $1. You can’t beat that, not even with a stick.

So I started off with Meat. I have a Greek book (I think I’ve told you about these cheap-o books before, I got them at Barnes & Noble in the discount table section for $2 and $3, they’re slightly British, but they have really good recipes), and it had a beef and onion casserole. Truth be told it was a roast, with some pearl onions, and a red wine/vinegar sauce. The hard part was smelling the deliciousness while it cooked…for over an hour. But, worth it in the end.

I’m not listing ingredients for this one because I’m trying to remember what I put in the dish (egads, my book is at home!!). That’s the beauty of cooking vs. baking: baking is an exact art, cooking is not. You’d think with a chemistry/lab background I’d have this baking thing down pat… even though I enjoy making baked goods for people, I think I would rather stab myself with a fork, I’m just not very exact (I’m more of a “pinch,” “dash,” and “have a swig” kind of girl).

Anyway, onto the dish… Take a beef roast (or whatever you have handy – the roasts at the store were either way too pricey or just not what I wanted, so I went with a gigantic steak; you really just need a good, thick cut of meat). Cut the meat into 1-inch chunks and brown in some hot oil, both sides; remove from pan and set aside (you might need more than one round of searing, if you have a lot of meat). When it’s all cooked, throw the meat (and juices!) back into the pan. Add a stick of cinnamon, some diced up garlic cloves and cook for just a minute. Throw on some cumin (I think? Just a dash…) and then add in 2/3 C red wine, and 2 Tbsp of red wine vinegar. Mix 2 Tbsp of tomato paste with some hot water to dissolve (the recipe called for a lot, I used a little – about 2 cups, add as you see fit). Toss in a couple crunched up bay leaves, and simmer for about an hour.

In the meantime, cut up some pearl onions. I didn’t have a ton on hand (and they make me cry, they are strong suckers!), so I just peeled the few I had and halved them – worked perfectly. When the hour of simmering the meat is up, add in the onions, cover with a few pinches of sugar, then do not disturb. Cook for about 30 more minutes. You can salt and pepper to your liking, but you probably won’t need much. The tomato paste turns the juices into this great, thick sauce. The onions soften, the meat (if it’s a roast) just falls apart. I served mine with (instant, ha ha) mashed potatoes. If you wanted to, you could probably toss in some diced/sliced mushrooms about 5-10 minutes before you remove from the heat, just for a little something extra.

Now to the highlight of my meal. This was really delicious. Sometimes Rachael Ray has the best foods, and sometimes her magazine just promotes make-up. Today was a recipe-keeper (I have another recipe for a Kale and Grapefruit salad…stay tuned, I’ll try to make it this week). This “salad” is so simple, the ingredients aren’t difficult (I had almost everything on hand) and it’s a great counter to the richness of the meat casserole.

Since it was just for me, I only used half a grapefruit (which was plenty) and will use the other half later for something else. Cut the fruit in half, then try to peel it like an orange. Don’t be discouraged if your slices fall apart, it’ll make it easier to fork up later. Spread the fruit over a plate. Mix 2 Tbsp of red wine vinegar with 2 Tbsp of olive oil (or however much you think you’ll need, just make them equal ratios). Thinly, thinly slice up a purple onion – you don’t need more than a few sliced rings, a handful or so. Sprinkle that, and some fresh (or jarred, either way) tarragon over the fruit. Top with some almost slivers (trust me, you’ll want the crunch), and then pour the vinegar/oil dressing over it. With all this cold weather, it’s a great summer-time reminder.

Here is a link to the grapefruit salad, if you want to see a second picture…

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Side dish (or “Dinner for One”)

I don’t always feel like making a large meal.  And this week, I planned about 4 meals out – I went to the store, I bought all the ingredients (using a lot of stuff I already had!)…and yet I haven’t made any of it.  That’s ok – the weekend is coming!!

I did make a little something lastnight after I hit the gym – a Barley Leek Salad.  When you get home that late you know you need to eat something, but a large meal is not appealing.  So, enter the quick and easy recipe!!  This is a *definite* great side dish, and a *not so bad* main dish.    But it certainly hit the spot lastnight (and made for pretty good leftovers!).



1 Leek – sliced and diced, washed
1-1/4 C quick-cooking Barley
3 Tbsp golden raisins
3/4 tsp kosher salt
chopped Basil
Lemon Juice
Oil, Salt, Pepper



This recipe is from the Food Network Magazine.  I might not always like their recipes, but they’ve never given me a bad one.  This one is super easy.  Slice the Leek up (all of the white, a little of the green); wash thoroughly and drain in a colander to remove all of the dirt and grit.  Heat some oil in a pan and add the leek, sautee for a few minutes.  Add in the barley and the raising, the salt, and 2 Cups of water.  Bring to a boil, then simmer about 10-12 minutes until the water is drained.  Toss with some chopped Basil and Chives (I used green onions), add ~1 Tbsp lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.  Serve warm.  You will not be disappointed!IMG_20130919_202638_506

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Hello again! I have been on travel for work 3 out of the last 4 weeks (thankfully, on my last one for a while). So between travel, visiting family, and having a baby shower I’ve been a little busy. But my Mama has volunteered another guest post for my blog – so I hope you enjoy!!!

Zucchini Bread
This is a moist bread. I have made this same recipe every year as soon as the Zucchini begins to show up in our garden. This recipe makes two loaves which is really good because you can give one to your mom, neighbor, or hungry friends. Take one to work and I am sure it will vanish before your eyes. If you don’t have a garden, hit your local Farmers Market, raid your neighbor’s garden when they are at work, or purchase some at the grocery store. You should have everything else on hand to make this wonderful moist bread. It’s great hot, right out of the oven but it is also good for a snack, or breakfast. Heck, it’s just good anytime you want something to eat. Be sure to share some with your friends!

Makes 2 loaves Will serve 16 hungry people Takes 10 min. to throw it together.
2 1/2 cups sugar
3 eggs
3 cups flour
3 tablespoons vanilla
1 cup oil
2 cups zucchini, grated
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 cups nuts (optional) ( I just think nuts make the bread)
3 teaspoon cinnamon

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2. Combine all ingredients
3. Pour into two greased loaf pans
4. Bake for one hour
Now, how easy is that!!

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Super Bowl Food

We hosted a small Super Bowl party this year and I love any excuse to try out new recipes and cook for people (and nothing like posting a month or so later :-p)!! Some of these things I’ve made before (the ham-and-cheese tart, Texas Caviar Salsa), but the dessert portion of this night was incredible – this stuff is so addicting, I couldn’t keep my hand out of it (I had plenty of leftovers and took it to work the next day – they also agreed it was like crack – and delicious!).

I made homemade Twix bars.  This is a time-consuming dish, but really pretty easy.  I got the recipe from Annie’s Eats ( – one of my favorite websites is – and I get a lot of my food ideas there.  When I made these, I stuck the pan in the freezer between layers to help it chill/set.  When you slice it and put the candies on a plate, keep in mind as they come to room temperature they will get gooey (really gooey).  So maybe keep them on ice, or hold a few back in the fridge when you need to replenish the plate.  It make a *ton* so be prepared to feed a lot of people, or have a backup plan.  Here’s some pics of the food – and the recipe follows…

Texas Caviar (mmm, salsa!!)


Ham and Cheese Tart

Salted Chocolate Shortbread Bars (see recipe below)

Anyway – the recipe:

Salted Caramel Chocolate Shortbread Bars
Yield: about 5 dozen small bars


For the shortbread layer:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
½ cup sugar

For the caramel layer:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 cup sugar
4 tbsp. light corn syrup
2 (14 oz.) cans sweetened condensed milk

For the chocolate layer:
8 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 tsp. light corn syrup
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
Fleur de sel or sea salt, for sprinkling


  • To make the shortbread layer, preheat the oven to 325° F.  Line a 9 x 13-inch baking pan with parchment paper.  In a small bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir with a fork to blend, and set aside.  In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until well blended, about 1-2 minutes.  With the mixer on low speed blend in the dry ingredients just until incorporated.  Transfer the dough to the prepared baking pan and press in an even layer over the bottom of the pan.  Bake 15-18 minutes or until golden.  (If the crust puffs up a bit while baking, just gently press it down while it is cooling.)  Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely.
  • To make the caramel layer, combine the butter, sugar, corn syrup and condensed milk in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Heat, stirring occasionally, until the butter is melted.  Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to maintain a simmer, stirring constantly.  Continue simmering and stirring until the mixture turns an amber color and thickens slightly.  Pour the mixture over the shortbread layer, smooth the top, and allow to cool completely and set.  (I chilled at this stage to ensure that the caramel layer would not melt when the warm chocolate was added.)
  • To make the chocolate glaze, combine the chocolate, corn syrup, and butter in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water.  Heat, stirring occasionally, until the chocolate is completely melted and the mixture is smooth.  Pour evenly over the caramel layer and use an offset spatula to smooth the top.  Allow to cool for a minute or two and then sprinkle with fleur de sel.  Chill, covered, until ready to slice and serve.
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Italian Wedding Soup and Kale Chips

The Mr. had to work today, and I didn’t go to the store – so tonight’s dinner is compliments of whatever-is-in-my-pantry!  Originally it was going to be chicken and rice – but that sounded just so…bland.  I’m sure I could have done something to perk it up, but I just wasn’t feeling it.  Thankfully, I had just read through my Food Network Magazine (I *seriously* love it – I highly recommend subscribing to it!!).  I had saved their Wedding Soup recipe – and I happened to have all the ingredients (minus pork, so I subbed in the chicken).

Cut up an onion and some carrots (I had shredded on hand, so much easier 🙂 ) and cook in a little bit of oil in your pot till tender.  Add in some minced garlic, and a splash of  worcestershire, then 3 cups of chicken broth.  *I keep bullion cubes on hand, a lot cheaper than using can after can of broth.  Bring this to a boil, then simmer a few minutes.

While this is simmering, make the meatballs.  The recipe calls for ground pork, but I only had chicken – you’re supposed to use it raw to make the meatballs, but I cooked it a little in the pan (probably would have been better raw); it was definitely undercooked when I removed from the pan, but that’s ok, it will finish cooking in the soup.

Since I don’t have a meat grinder, I used a food processor to chop up the chicken into tiny pieces.  Then mixed with breadcrumbs (panko), parmesan cheese, another clove of minced garlic, another splash of worcestershire, and then I added an egg yolk to help hold the meat together.   Form into meatball-shapes.

Add the Orzo (rice-like pasta) and cook for a few minutes.   Then add the meatballs.  They are cooked through when they float to the to of your pot (given there’s enough broth).  A couple minutes before it’s done, throw in some fresh spinach to wilt.

The other dish I made is a favorite of ours, and I make it a ton in the summer time.  I just had some leftover from a soup I made earlier in the week (will try to make it again and post, since – ha ha, who’s surprised – I forgot to take pics).

Kale chips are super easy, and really good for you.  Rinse off the fresh kale (you can get the fresh clump, or buy it in a bag), and tear into smaller pieces if necessary (but not too small).  Drizzle with oil, sprinkle on some salt, and bake at 400 for ~10 minutes.  The chips come out super crispy and delicious!!

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