Monday, November 01, 2010

Roasted Beet Salad w/Sauteed Chicken and Feta Cheese!

What a great salad inspired by Maurizio's restaurant "Mangia la Pizza"! So healthy, so cheap and tasty too!

Recipe for one salad:

1 medium roasted beet (golden or purple) cooled, peeled and diced
Olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder
1-2 cups green salad mix (I used a spring mix)
1 Tbsp chopped onion
1/2 tomato chopped
1 boneless chicken breast, marinated, sauteed and sliced (you may omit this if you are vegetarian)
2 Tbsp balsamic vinaigrette (I used Trader Joe's brand)
1 Tbsp crumbled feta cheese (Maurizio uses goat cheese)

Cut the tops and bottoms off of the beet(s) and discard. Scrub beet(s) clean and pat dry. Rub outer skins with olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder. Place in a pie pan and roast in a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes until tender when pierced with a fork. Let beets cool, take off peeling by hand and dice into bite size pieces. Marinate chicken breasts for one hour in Italian dressing and saute' in a frying pan on medium heat for about 7-10 minutes on each side. Let chicken cool and slice lengthwise. Assemble salad ingredients and top with diced beets, chicken and feta cheese. Drizzle balsamic vinaigrette on top! Bon Appetite!

P.S. Fresh roasted beets have an amazing flavor unlike the ones out of a can that I used to eat when I was a kid (I liked those too)! I had gotten a bunch (4) of the golden beets at the farmers market. I roasted them all together and used one per individual salad. They are light, sweet and delicious!

Friday, October 29, 2010

French Onion Veggie Soup

This is so easy, so good and so cheap!


3 large onions cut in half and sliced (I used a purple, yellow and a white)
3 Tbs of butter (or margarine)
1/2 red bell pepper chopped
2 large cloves garlic minced
1 tsp of pepper flakes (optional)
1 cup of wine (red or white, I used white)
2 large carrots sliced
1/2 head of green cabbage coarsely chopped
4 med-large russet potatoes peeled and cut into bite size chunks
2 32oz organic beef broth (I used Wolfgang Puck's)
4 cups of water
1 packet of Lipton Onion Soup mix (I used the store brand)
3 sprigs of fresh thyme (or 1 tsp of dried)
Your favorite grated cheese (optional)

Melt the butter in a large pot. Add onions and saute' over medium heat for about 20 minutes, stirring about every five minutes, until they are caramelized (browned). Add red bell pepper, garlic and pepper flakes. Cook about 1-2 more minutes. Stir in the remaining ingredients, except for the cheese. Bring to a gentle simmer. Place a lid tilted on top of the pan and cook for about 20 minutes (stirring occasionally) until potatoes are tender. Serve in cups or bowls with your favorite grated cheese sprinkled on top. Eat with some crusty bread! Makes about 10 servings! Yummy!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Fresh Pico de Gallo and Chips

This was my dinner tonight. Seems a little weird but it was fresh and good! Here is the recipe...

1 big fat fresh tomato chopped (or two small)
1 Serrano or Jalapeno pepper seeded and minced
2 cloves of fresh garlic minced
1/2 small yellow onion minced
2 Tbsp fresh cilantro minced
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp cumin powder
1 tsp Tabasco sauce
Juice of one lime
Salt and Pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together and marinate for one hour. Serve with chips! Yum!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Grandma Molly's Zucchini Squash

When I was growing up one of my favorite dishes was my grandma Molly's zucchini with peppers, onions, garlic and tomato sauce. It was her father Pedro's recipe. I actually ate this the night before I gave birth to my daughter and woke up all night long with "indigestion" which turned out to be labor pains! lol! Last night my friend Jose brought me a big bag of organic zucchini, yellow summer squash and green peppers so I couldn't resist making a pot even though it was 9pm. Hey, it's always better the next day anyway.... so I'm sitting here eating some right now as I type... it's so good with sourdough toast! Here is the old family recipe! Enjoy!

2 Tbsp Olive oil
3-4 cloves fresh garlic
1 med yellow onion (cut in half and sliced)
1 large green pepper (sliced into strips)
1 tsp of Italian seasoning
2 pounds zucchini (or mix of zucchini and yellow squash) Sliced thick
Salt and Pepper
2 8oz cans of Hunts tomato sauce
Capers or sliced green olives on top as a garnish (optiional)

In a dutch oven (big pot) over med high heat saute' garlic, peppers and onions until soft. Add sliced squash, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper. Stir and place a lid on the pan for 7-10 minutes. Then stir again and cover for another 5 minutes. Add tomato sauce, stir and cover for another 5-7 minutes. Now it's ready to eat with some garlic bread. You can garnish with a few capers or sliced green olives on top (very "tapas"). You may also serve over rice or pasta with a little Parmesan cheese! Smells and tastes delicious!

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Lemon Garlic Pesto Pasta with Chicken

This is such a fresh and easy pasta dish made with tomatoes, garlic, pesto, wine, fresh basil, lemon juice, grilled chicken breasts marinated for a couple of hours in Italian dressing (omit these if you're vegetarian or you don't happen to have any chicken) and grated Parmesan cheese. It may also be served without chicken as a delicious vegetarian dish. Here is the recipe... enjoy!


2 Tbsp olive oil
3-4 cloves of garlic minced
1 cup white wine
3 Tbsp of pesto (I used Classico brand in a jar)
2 14 1/2 oz cans of diced tomatoes (may substitute w/4 cups of fresh chopped tomatoes)
1 tsp of pepper flakes (optional)
Salt and pepper to taste
Juice of one fresh lemon
2 boneless cooked chicken breasts cut into bite size pieces (optional)
1 lb of any type of pasta cooked al dente.
1/2 cup of fresh basil chopped
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (I was out of Parmesan so I used feta)

In a large frying pan saute garlic in olive oil until golden. Pour in wine and simmer until amount is reduced by half (3-5 minutes). Add pesto, tomatoes, pepper flakes and salt and pepper to taste. Heat thoroughly. Place cooked/drained pasta in a large "pasta" bowl and top with chicken pieces. Pour sauce over the top and sprinkle with fresh lemon juice, basil and cheese. Makes approximately 6 servings.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Creamy Veggie Casserole

So rich, so good, so comforting! There can be many variations of this dish depending on what veggies you have on hand and whatever cheese you happen to have. It calls for pimentos but if I don't have any I will sub with chopped tomatoes or red pepper or sun dried tomato, etc... The staples for the sauce are cream of anything soup. This time I used cream of mushroom with garlic (so far my fav) but you can use any cream soup. Then there is a 1/4 cup of mayo to make it extra creamy, then shredded cheese and the juice of one fresh lemon. Of course I have to splash a little white wine in there to give it that extra rich flavor! :) The casserole can be eaten alone or served over rice. Add a fresh green salad and you have a delicious, healthy vegetarian meal. For you carnivores you made add chopped cooked chicken or even shrimp! It's super easy and super yummy!

Recipe: (This is how I made today's variation)

3 crowns of Broccoli (cut up and steamed till tender crisp)
1 large Carrot (sliced and steamed till tender crisp)
2 yellow summer squash (sliced and steamed till tender crisp)

Note: I've used cauliflower before which is very good!

Place steamed (drained) Veggies in a cake pan evenly spread out.

2 cans of Campbell's Cream of Mushroom w/garlic soup
1 small jar of chopped Pimentos
1/2 cup white wine (optional)
1 cup shredded cheese (I used crumbled feta today because that's all I had)
1/4 cup of mayonnaise
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tsp curry powder (optional)
salt and pepper

Mix sauce together and spread evenly over the top of veggies.
Bake uncovered in a preheated 350 degree oven for 35 minutes.
Prepare any type of rice according to package directions.
Serve Veggies over rice... add a fresh green salad on the side and you have a fabulous dinner!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Harvest 3 Bean Vegetarian Chili

Fall is in the air! It was a little foggy this morning and very cool outside so I decided to make a 3 bean vegetarian chili! Placed all the ingredients in the crockpot and six hours later... Yummy!

Three Bean Vegetarian Chili

1 med. yellow onion chopped

4 cloves garlic minced

½ green bell pepper chopped

½ red bell pepper chopped

1 small jalapeƱo pepper chopped

1 large carrot thinly sliced

1 large stalk celery thinly sliced

2 yellow squashes cut into thick (bite size) chunks

1 small can of corn

1 28oz can of diced tomatoes

2 14.5 oz cans of tomato sauce

1 11.5oz can of V8 vegetable juice

1 14.5oz can of chili beans with spices (I used S&W)

1 14.5oz can of white (cannelloni) beans (drained)

1 14.5oz can of black beans (drained)

1 Tbsp dried oregano

2 Tbsp chili powder

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

1 tsp sugar

1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp soy sauce

½ tsp salt

½ tsp of ground black pepper

¼ tsp cumin

¼ cup of red wine (optional)

Place all ingredients in crockpot and stir together.

Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Serve each bowl topped with grated cheese, sour cream and fresh herbs of your choice and a fresh squeeze of lime juice on top for added flavor!

Makes 8-10 servings

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Summer Time Veggies and Farmer's Market!

We're having an amazingly mild summer here in Northern California! One of my favoritie things to do every Saturday morning is go to the Farmer's Market here in Morgan Hill. I live downtown so it's literally right around the corner!

I had $20 bucks in my pocket so this is what I got! Aren't they beautiful? I laid them all out on my kitchen table and took this picture. Love all the colors of nature up against my red table!

Last night I made this simple, fresh green bean salad which I will probably eat with grilled salmon tonight, ahhhh! Delish and.... cheap chic!!!

Marinated Green Bean Salad

1 pound of fresh green beans (rinsed, trimmed and cut)
1 cup of cherry tomatoes (rinsed and cut in half)
1 small sweet white onion (cut into thin slivers) Purple onion works well too
1/2 cup balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing (I used Newman's own)

Boil a pot of water and toss in the beans. Let them cook about 3 minutes. Then drain them and rinse with cool water. Place them in a bowl (a pretty bowl is best, lol) with the tomatoes, onions and dressing. Mix to coat with the salad dressing. Refrigerate over night. I re-toss them a couple of more times through out the night to make sure all the beans get marinated well. So crispy, so light, so healthy! Goes well with any meal! Enjoy! :)

Friday, August 20, 2010

Chicken Parmesan

This is easy, cheap and so good! Okay here goes... Sauce consisted of a can of Del Monte Spaghetti sauce from Dollar Tree and a can of S&W diced tomatoes. A couple of cloves of fresh minced garlic and a little minced onion sauteed in olive oil then add the sauce and tomatoes. I have a basil plant so I minced some of the leaves and threw it in. You could sprinkle a couple of teaspoons of dry basil (or Italian seasoning) if you don't have fresh. Let the sauce simmer while you're preparing the rest of the meal.

I got a package of 3 boneless chicken breasts from WalMart. Pound them out on a cutting board with a meat tenderizer (meat pounder, lol) until they are about a 1/2 inch thick. Whip up an egg in a bowl and sprinkle some bread crumbs on a plate. Dip the chicken breast into the egg and then into the bread crumbs generously coating it. Then saute in olive oil until golden brown on both sides.

Spray a cake pan with PAM ( or rub with a little oil) and add a little sauce on the bottom of the pan (enough to cover) then lay each chicken breast in the pan. Cover them with the remaining sauce and bake for 30 minutes in a 350 degree oven.

While chicken is baking cook the pasta (al dente). Then drain and place it back in the pan. Add butter and toss. Cover the pan to keep pasta warm.

When chicken has baked for 30 minutes add generous hand fulls of shredded Mozzarella cheese on top of each chicken breast and bake 5 more minutes or until cheese is melted.

Place about 1/2 cup of pasta on a plate and then place a chicken breast on top and add a little more sauce! So delicious! Serve with a green salad on the side and you have an awesome cheap chic Italian meal that rivals even the best Italian restaurant in town. The best part about this entire meal is that it generously feeds a family of 4 for the same cost as one of those meals at that Italian restaurant! Bon Appetit!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Something to really think about...

What if....

What if you had to cut down every tree you need to build your house...
Would you build a 3000 SQ FT house plus a bonus and great room?

What if you had to carry all the water you needed in buckets...
Would you take a 30 minute shower?

What if you had to grow all your own food, every single morsel....
Would you throw any of it out?

What if you had to dig for every single drop of oil then refine it....
Would you drive 100 feet to the store 10 times a day?

What if you had to sew everything you wore....
Would you still need all the clothes you have?

What if an animal had to give up it's life...
And what if you had to kill that animal....
Would you still need 20 pairs of shoes and handbags to match?
Would you only eat the choice cuts of meat?

What if we all consumed as if we had to procure and manufacture everything we need ourselves?
Would you consume, use and throw out less?

I don't want to go back in time. I believe in progress but....not at the expense of my fellow humans, future humans and the planet.

Every time you get in your car or buy something or throw something out think about it. Can you do without it? Can you recycle it? Can you make it yourself?

*I got this from an awesome blog called Thistle Garden. Check it out!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Farmer's Market Spring Veggie Soup

It's beautiful spring weather here in Northern California. Temperatures have been in the 70's and 80's! Every Saturday I go to our local Morgan Hill (my town's) Farmer's Market. I'm lucky that it's only one block from where I live! There is a wide variety of organic and pesticide free locally grown vegetables. Today I decided to make a spring vegetable soup! Ahhhhh, it turned out so yummy! I just made up the recipe as I went along, throwing in a little of this and a little of that! I must say that it turned out so good that I decided to write it down (before I forget) lol, and share it with you all!

Farmer's Market Spring Veggie Soup:

2 Tblsp Olive Oil
4-5 Cloves Fresh Garlic
1 Med Onion chopped
1 Bell Pepper chopped (I used half green/half red)
3 Celery Stalks chopped (1 cup)
5 Carrots chopped (2 cups)
1 Tbsp dried Italian Seasonings
1 tsp Salt (I used ground sea salt from Dollar Tree)
1/2 tsp Pepper (I used ground pepper from Dollar Tree)

Saute' all of this until onions are clear and then add the following:

3- 32oz cartons of Chicken or Veg Broth (3 Quarts)
(I used Trader Joe's Free Range Organic Chicken Broth)
1- 14 oz can Organic diced Tomatoes
1- 6 oz can Tomatoes Paste
1/2 cup White Wine (optional)
(I used Two Buck Chuck Chardonnay from Trader Joe's)
3 Large Potatoes cut into chunks
1/2 head of Cabbage cut into chunks
1 tsp Dried Dill (or fresh)
1 tsp Sugar

Bring this to boil and simmer for about 10 minutes until veggies start to soften. Then add the following:

1 med. Zucchini cut into chunks
1- 14 oz can of White Cannelloni Beans drained and rinsed
Juice of one Lemon
2 Tbsp of a chopped Fresh Herb (I used Rosemary)
(Any herb of your choice will do... Basil, Cilantro, Thyme, etc...)

Simmer about 10 - 15 more minutes and serve with crusty bread! So healthy and so delicious!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Cheap Chic Pizza!

You know how they charge an arm and a leg for those bistro/brewing company wood fired pizzas? Well now you can do your own at home for literally a couple of bucks! Just get Trader Joe's already made pizza dough in a bag, about $1.29 (or any other store brand dough for that matter) and any tomato/marinara sauce, your favorite fresh veggies and some grated cheese! Roll out the dough on a floured surface with a floured coated rolling pin. Bake the crust on a cookie sheet at 425 degrees for about 10 minutes. My cookie sheet may look dirty to you but I prefer to think of it as "seasoned" lol! Then take out of the oven and spread the sauce on the dough. Sprinkle the grated cheese and any chopped veggies on top. Bake for another 10-15 minutes and you'll have the best little healthy gourmet pizza on the planet! Add a chopped green salad on the side and of course a glass of vino and you will have yourself a little gourmet meal for way under $10.00 dollars! Think pizza party! Everyone could make their own little pizza! Make a big salad and pour the wine. Perfect meal for a wine tasting party too! So cheap and so very chic!

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Cheap Veggie Indian Curry Over Rice

Tonight I made a very cheap and very exotic meal using Trader Joe's Curry Simmer Sauce. Ever since my son Carson watched the movie "Food Inc" he has decided to go vegetarian unless he can track where the meat is coming from and where it was slaughtered/prepared and packaged. Smart boy! However now this means that considering his 6'3" frame he now wants to eat almost every 2 hours because let's face it veggies don't stick to your ribs as long as meat does. Well anyway back to my recipe... Both he and I love Indian food so I purchased a bottle of Trader Joe's Curry Simmer Sauce and decided to make it with all vegetables over rice. I steamed two cups of rice in 4 cups of vegetable broth with a teaspoon of curry powder in a large sauce pan. I stir fried some veggies (chopped onion, chopped green pepper, 3 minced cloves garlic, 3 sliced carrots, 2 chopped zucchini, 1 small head of cauliflower chopped in 1 tablespoon of olive oil) in a large frying pan. I added the Curry sauce with one cup of water and a little splash of white wine (which I was drinking while preparing the meal, lol)! I then added a can of drained garbanzo beans. I brought the whole thing to a simmer, covering with a lid for about 20 minutes. Ummmm the smell was incredible!. I served this concoction over a bed of rice with some finely chopped cilantro on top (you could use parsley of any other herb you have on hand). Wow! What an awesome vegetarian meal and so filling and cheap too!!! Give it a try! I ate it alone but I'm sure it would be great with a chopped green salad on the side with some ranch or vinaigrette dressing! Wowza!