Turkey Lentil Joes

Slightly adapted from Everyday Dinners by Jessica Merchant

2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, pressed
1 lb ground turkey (94% lean)
salt and pepper
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
1 Tablespoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon agave nectar
1 (15-oz) can tomato sauce
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup cooked lentils (I will try using 3/4 cup next time)

Heat a large skillet over medium-low heat and add olive oil. Stir in bell pepper, onion, and garlic, and cook 5-6 minutes until onion softens. Push vegetables to the side of the pan, increase heat to medium, and add the turkey plus 1/4 teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Break up the turkey and cook until browned. Sprinkle on smoked paprika and cook until you can smell the paprika aroma. Add the tomato paste, agave, tomato sauce, Worcestershire and lentils. Stir, cover, and cook for 15-20 minutes, stirring often. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

You can serve this in a bowl, in a lettuce wrap, on a bun, in a tortilla… with bread-and-butter pickles, ranch dressing, or plain.

Published in: on September 11, 2021 at 4:07 pm  Leave a Comment  

Lighter Fettuccini Alfredo

From Cooking Light Magazine

1 tablespoon butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 ⅓ cups 1% low-fat milk
5 ounces fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, shredded (about 1 1/4 cups), divided
2 tablespoons 1/3-less-fat cream cheese
½ teaspoon salt
4 cups hot cooked fettuccine (8 ounces uncooked pasta)
2 teaspoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley (or more!)
Cracked black pepper (optional)

Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Stir in flour. Gradually add milk, stirring with a whisk. Cook 6 minutes or until mixture thickens, stirring constantly. Add 1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, cream cheese, and salt, stirring with a whisk until cheeses melt. Toss sauce with hot pasta. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and chopped parsley. Garnish with black pepper, if desired. Serve immediately.

Published in: on September 5, 2021 at 1:26 pm  Leave a Comment  

To Try: Anti-Ant Spray

From Real Simple magazine, August 2021

1/2 cup distilled water
2 Tablespoons vodka (as a preservative)
15 drops peppermint essential oil
5 drops cinnamon essential oil

Spray ant trails on counters, in cupboards, or any other place inaccessible to pets.

Published in: on August 28, 2021 at 11:06 am  Leave a Comment  

Cold Sesame Noodles

Slightly modified version of a recipe by Cathy Thomas in the 7/18/21 San Jose Mercury News

4-6 servings

3 Tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar (rice vinegar is the same thing)
1/2 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes, or to taste
2 Tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar or granulated sugar, or to taste
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 Tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1/2 cup chicken broth or vegetable broth

1 lb whole wheat spaghetti

4 green onions, thinly sliced (including dark green parts)

cucumber, in thin matchsticks
toasted sesame seeds

Cook the spaghetti according to package directions, until al dente. Drain, rinse in cold water, then drain again and put spaghetti back in the empty cooking pot. Add the sauce and green onions and stir well. Serve at room temperature topped with cucumber and sesame seeds. Grated carrot might be a good topping, too.

Published in: on August 1, 2021 at 5:48 am  Leave a Comment  
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Skirt Steak

from Fine Cooking

Remove surface fat and silverskin.

Cut crosswise into large pieces that will fit well into your cast-iron skillet.

Pound each piece to 1/4″ thickness.

Heat the skillet on medium-high/high.

Make sure the meat is dry. Season with salt, pepper, and other dry seasonings as desired.

Cook for 2 to 3 minutes per side, depending on how thick you pounded it.

Let rest a few minutes.

Slice thinly (1/4″ – 1/3″ thick) across the grain.

Should be rosy pink when cut.

Published in: on July 29, 2021 at 2:55 pm  Leave a Comment  

Cactus Cooler

Based on the drink served at Macheezmo Mouse in the ’80s.

2 cups decaf Earl Grey Tea, chilled
2 cups fresh orange juice, chilled
1 cup apple juice, chilled
1/2 cup Mint Simple Syrup, chilled
Lemon juice, chilled, to taste (1/2 cup?)
Sparkling water, to taste, optional

Serve over ice.

Mint Simple Syrup
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup (packed) mint leaves

In a 2 cup glass measure, heat the water in the microwave until boiling. Stir in the sugar until dissolved. Add the mint leaves and steep for 30 minutes. Strain, cool, and refrigerate.

Published in: on July 3, 2021 at 2:57 pm  Leave a Comment  

Peachberry Buckle

Slightly adapted from King Arthur Baking

This is rather coffeecake-ish and would be lovely any time of day.



  • 4 tablespoons (57g) butter, at room temperature, at least 65°F
  • 3/4 cup (149g) sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 cup (113g) milk, at room temperature


  • 1 cup (142g to 170g) berries, chopped if large (e.g., strawberries)
  • 1 cup (213g) sliced peaches, peeled or not, your choice (unpeeled was totally fine)



  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a 9″ round cake pan.
  2. To make the cake: In a medium-sized mixing bowl, beat together the butter and sugar.
  3. Beat in the egg and vanilla.
  4. Stir in the baking powder, salt, and nutmeg.
  5. Add the flour in three additions, stirring it in alternately with the milk, and beginning and ending with the flour. Set the batter aside while you make the topping.
  6. To make the topping: Mix all of the ingredients until crumbly. Don’t over-mix, or you’ll get a smooth paste, rather than crumbs.
  7. To assemble the buckle: Spread half the batter (about 10 ounces) in the prepared pan. Layer with the peach slices.
  8. Fold the blueberries into the remaining batter, and dollop it on top; a tablespoon cookie scoop works well here.
  9. Sprinkle the topping over the batter.
  10. Bake the buckle for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until it’s a deep golden brown and a cake tester or toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
  11. Remove the buckle from the oven, and cool it on a rack. Serve warm, or at room temperature. Store at room temperature, wrapped in plastic, for several days; freeze for longer storage.
Published in: on June 22, 2021 at 4:40 pm  Leave a Comment  

Double Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Slightly adapted from King Arthur Baking

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F; lightly grease an 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ loaf pan.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs, oil, sugar, and vanilla until smooth.
  3. Add the salt, baking soda, baking powder, espresso powder, cocoa, and flour, mixing until well combined.
  4. Stir in the zucchini and chocolate chips.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  6. Bake the bread for 65 to 75 minutes, until the loaf tests done (a toothpick or cake tester inserted into the center will come out clean, save for perhaps a light smear of chocolate from the melted chips).
  7. Remove the bread from the oven, and let it cool for 10 to 15 minutes before turning it out of the pan onto a rack.
  8. Cool completely before slicing; store well-wrapped, at room temperature.
Published in: on June 22, 2021 at 4:22 pm  Leave a Comment  

Cauliflower Quesadillas

Slightly modified from Charred Cauliflower Quesadillas from Smitten Kitchen

Deb writes: Poblanos are very mild hot peppers. You could use fewer or swap them with a small bell pepper for less heat, or swap one or both with a hotter jalapeño or other chile for more heat.
Kristin says: I didn’t have a poblano on hand, and didn’t want the heat of a jalapeno, so I substituted a small can of chopped fire-roasted green chiles and it was delicious (and made the recipe even easier and quicker).

Yield: 6 quesadillas, serves 6

2 small or 1 large fresh poblano chiles OR 1 can (small or large, as you choose) chopped fire-roasted green chiles
1 small head cauliflower, cored and cut into rough 1-inch chunks
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for cooking quesadillas
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 cups (about 8 ounces) coarsely grated Monterey jack cheese
12 small (7-inch) flour tortillas OR 6 burrito-sized tortillas, cut in half

If using fresh peppers:
Char peppers: Over a gas burner turned to high, hold the poblanos over the flame with tongs and char them until they are black and blistered all over. Alternatively, you could do this under a broiler, turning them frequently for even blistering. Transfer hot chiles to a bowl and cover tightly with foil. Set aside to steam and let their skins loosen while you cook the cauliflower.

Char cauliflower: In a large bowl, toss cauliflower with 3 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper, until it’s evenly coated. Heat your largest heaviest frying pan over high heat until almost smoking, add cauliflower, and let it cook until each piece has a few black spots but is not mushy, turning and moving it frequently to ensure even cooking. This will take 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer florets to cutting board to rest.

Mix filling:
If using fresh peppers:
When poblanos are cool enough to handle, peel the charred skin off with your fingertips or a paring knife. Pull out and discard stems and seed clusters, and slice peppers into 1/4-inch wide strips.

Add (fresh or canned) peppers to cauliflower on board and give both a rough chop together, reducing the cauliflower to no bigger than 1/2-inch chunks. Return cauliflower and peppers to the large bowl, add scallions, lime juice and salt to taste. You should have about 2 cups of cauliflower filling.

Assemble and cook quesadillas: Lay out 6 tortillas and spread 1/3 cup cauliflower filling and 1/3 cup shredded cheese on each. Place second 6 tortillas on top as lids. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Once hot, coat lightly with olive oil and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook quesadillas until browned underneath, about 3 to 4 minutes. Carefully a flip — a large, thin spatula helps here — and repeat on the second side. Repeat with remaining quesadillas.

To serve: Cut quesadillas into wedges and serve with your choice of fixings. Two choices are below.

Cumin-Lime Crema

1/2 cup sour cream or Mexican crema
A few gratings fresh lime zest
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Pinch of salt

Combine, adjust seasonings to taste, and serve alongside quesadillas.

Lazy Taco Slaw

1 bag coleslaw mix, or 3 cups finely shredded red cabbage and 1 coarsely grated carrot
Coarse salt
Juice of half a lime
2 scallions, sliced thin
A dollop of mayonnaise, sour cream or plain yogurt
A dash of hot sauce (optional)
1/4 cup roughly chopped cilantro or flat-leaf parsley leaves

Toss cabbage mix, salt and lime together in a large bowl; set aside for 5 minutes. It will shrink down a bit. Stir in scallions, then mayo and hot sauce. Adjust seasonings/ingredients to taste, then stir in cilantro leaves. Serve alongside quesadillas or any of your favorite tortilla-clad meals.

Published in: on June 5, 2021 at 1:21 pm  Leave a Comment  

Simple Beef Stew

Lynda Balslev is a cookbook author, food and travel writer, and recipe developer based in the San Francisco Bay area.

Total Time: 3 1/2 hours

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

2 1/2 pounds beef chuck, excess fat trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 large shallot, finely chopped, about 1/4 cup
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/2 cups dark beer, such as porter or stout, divided
1/4 cup tomato paste
3 cups beef or chicken stock
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 large carrots, sliced 1/4-inch thick
2 medium Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 large yellow onion, cut into 1-inch chunks

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Season the beef with salt and pepper.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. (Burns family note: Use Le Creuset Dutch oven.) Add the beef in batches in one layer, without overcrowding, and brown on all sides, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer the meat to a plate and repeat with remaining beef.

Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat from the Dutch oven. Add the shallot and saute until soft, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, about 30 seconds more. Add 1/2 cup beer to the pot and bring to a boil, scraping up any brown bits with a spoon. When the beer is nearly evaporated, add the tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, until slightly caramelized, about 1 minute. Return the beef to the pot and stir to coat.

Add the remaining 1 cup beer, the stock, bay leaf, brown sugar, thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper. The meat should be just covered with liquid. If not, add additional stock to cover. Bring to a boil, then cover the pot and transfer to the oven. Cook until the meat is tender, 2 to 2 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally.

While the meat is cooking, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the carrots, potatoes and onions and lightly season with salt. Saute until the vegetables begin to soften without browning, 4 to 5 minutes.

Add the carrots, onions and potatoes to the stew and stir to combine. Return to the oven and cook, partially covered, until the vegetables are tender and the sauce slightly thickened, 30 to 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove bay leaf and serve warm ladled into bowls.

Sean: Omit carrots and potatoes

Published in: on April 11, 2021 at 8:23 am  Leave a Comment