Healthy food, healthy living, great recipes, fresh ingredients with lots of taste. Join us as we bring you great ideas for your own cooking and healthy life. Eating right never tasted so good.
Be sure to check out our Naan Bread Pizza post as well as our Gordon and Julie Italian post.
Every Great Meal Starts Here
I’m so proud of it! It took me about 4 days to put together. I’m still working on it but here is a sneak peak. I hope it inspires you to create your own herb garden.
I love green and orange. Such lovely colors for a garden.
Basil to die for!
A Messy Pot
Lots of fresh green herbs from the garden. Excellent ciabata bread. Cabernet Savignon! Barefoot, of course. Then you know dinner is going to be spectacular!!
Fresh Parsley, Chives and Oregano
Anytime that you use fresh herbs in your cooking you are actually helping to prevent certain cancers. When I was growing up my parents taught me to look at food as medicine. Because that is what food is. So I grew up eating certain things that I did not like but I knew they were good for me.
In the same way that when we were little and were sick our mother’s gave us our medicine, it tasted horrible but we choked it down anyway, then later on we felt better. That is what food does for you. Good, healthy food, that is. Sometimes it doesn’t taste so good. So just choke it down because you will feel better later on.
Sometimes when I eat out I will order something that I don’t particularly like, (liver) but I eat it anyway and choke it down and then I feel better later on. So don’t be so quick to shun that super food just because you don’t like the taste.
Julie’s Famous Red Sauce
Although I do not have a drop of Italian blood in me, that I’m aware of, I do a pretty good job with whatever Italian meal that I may try. I think a big reason behind that is that I have come to perfect my “red” sauce. Seeing as how it goes into most of my Italian cooking. Here in America it is known as spaghetti sauce or tomato sauce, but in Italy, or certain regions, it is known as Red Sauce.
Every family in Italy has their own red sauce and every family believes that their red sauce is the best. I am no different. So am I bragging that mine is the best? Or am I just telling the truth? hmm..
Regardless, this wonderful Italian meal is a good example of how I incorporate fresh herbs from our garden into the meal.
Last Night’s Appetizers
(Toasted seasoned wholewheat baguette with herbed goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes marinated in olive oil, topped with roasted garlic).
Although I’m using basil as the garnish above left, I often place a basil leaf on a slice of rustic Italian bread that has been topped with goat cheese or any other bruschetta that I may want. A great way to eat it and a nice presentation at any get-together. It usually goes over quite well with guests.
Whenever I make my red sauce it is the messiest and most fun thing to cook. I actually make more of a ceremony out of it and have a nice red wine with a lit candle. Atmosphere is a big part of eating, so why not cooking as well? I have added a ton of fresh Italian oregano and chives from our garden to my sauce. Along with two jars of marinated artichoke hearts and a chopped tomato that was going bad. But not yet. I find it a great way to use up ingredients in the bottom of the frig crispers that will soon spoil if not used quickly.
(Gordon may be the one in culinary school but I’m not such a bad cook myself).
Gordon and I prefer a wholewheat spaghetti pasta but my kids like the regular kind so we compromise and I combine both. Also don’t forget about topping any bread that you may serve with fresh herbs as well. Just add them about a minute or so before the bread has finished cooking.
This was a perfect dinner from the appetizers to the entree.
Did you know that tomatoes originated in Peru? We can thank the Peruvian nation for introducing us to them. Because of immigration we know tomatoes. Better yet, thanks to immigration Italy knows tomatoes and was able to create so many delicious meals that the world has come to know and enjoy. All thanks to immigration.
Grilled bratz with sauteed onions and bell peppers on a bun with corn on the cob topped with Parmesan cheese.
Pork Roast with Vegetables
This magazine is The Australian Women’s Weekly, New Zealand Edition. My friend Trish who lives in New Zealand sends them to me. They are some of the best magazines I have ever read.
Gordon’s Chicken Soup with Spinach Leaves
The Chicken Soup Base
So Gordon set about making my soup. I do love it that all I need to say is, ‘make something like this’, and he DOES IT!!
We may see a recipe that we are interested in making and then we cater it to our tastes and health needs. For example here we added some red potatoes, onion, diced carrots, lots of our herbs, turmeric, and white wine.
This was a rotisserie chicken that Gordon bought at the commissary. Wonder who snacked on it?? That would be ME!!
An already cooked rotisserie chicken does add a different flavor than one that you are cooking yourself.
Here Gordon Removed the Chicken from the Bone
It’s funny but when we have chicken in our kitchen our pugs sit on each side of the kitchen floor like those tennis ball boys that run for the tennis balls at matches. The closer pug will snatch up the fallen treat on the floor and then retrieve back to their station, while sitting and waiting on the next fallen treat.
Adding the Herbs to our Soup
Eating at the Computer
(You know you do it too!!)
Cooking tip: Add the raw spinach to your bowl, then pour the soup over it. Never add that raw spinach to the soup it will just get all mushy and yucky.
This delicious dinner is from my childhood. I don’t know where my mother got the recipe from but she would make these for me and my little brothers and we loved them. I have changed the recipe somewhat to make it a bit more healthy but trust me, you will LOVE them! 🙂
-Pillsbury Refrigerator Biscuits, 12 ounces.
(I used 3 cans)
You want to spread each biscuit into each muffin tin cup before adding the meat mixture.
2-3 pounds ground meat, (we used ground turkey)
You can use ground beef or ground chicken.
Brown the meat in a sauce pan, drain fat.
-1 small onion, chopped
-1 small red bell pepper, chopped
(Sautee the onion and bell pepper in olive oil until softened)
Add to the ground meat mixture.
2 cups Bar-b-que sauce, any kind.
(You can eyeball how much that you want according to your own personal taste. Add to meat mixture).
1 cup brown sugar (we used Splenda brown sugar). Add to meat mixture.
Once all the ingredients have been added you want to bring the mixture to a boil so that it can thicken, about 20 minutes or so.
Place the meat mixture into each muffin tin cup that already has a biscuit flattened in the bottom.
Bake in a 350* oven for about 25 minutes or so. Then remove and add the topping, cheese.
Topping: Sharp Cheddar Cheese, grated.
This goes on top of the Bar-b-que cups the last 5 minutes of cooking. Place the cheese on top of each muffin cup then place back into the oven for an additional 5 minutes of cooking. Then remove from the oven and let cool. Perfect!
(The beauty of this recipe is that you can adjust it to your own taste. You don’t have to specifically go by my recipe. Add or subtract what you like or don’t like).
Brown your “meat” in a skillet. Here I’m using ground turkey but you can use ground beef or ground chicken for this recipe.
Photo at above left, saute your onions and red bell pepper in some olive oil. Photo at above right, adding the Bar-b-que sauce to the ground turkey and sauteed onion and red bell pepper.
Add the brown sugar and then bring to a boil and let simmer until nice and thick about 20 – 30 minutes.
Spray a muffin tin with some cooking oil spray, then add some flattened bread dough to each muffin slot in the tin. You can spread this out with your fingers. Above we used refrigerator biscuits.
Now they are ready for the oven. You want a 350* oven and you want to cook them for about 25 minutes or longer, depending on your oven.
When they are done remove from oven and then top with some sort of cheese. I used a sharp yellow cheese in the photo above. Place back in the oven for about 5 more minutes so that the cheese can melt. Then remove from oven. Let cool. Then serve.
Kids especially love these.
African Chicken Soup
This is the best chicken soup that I have ever eaten. It is nothing like our North American or European version of a chicken soup. It is a bit spicy so it’s not the kind of chicken soup that you would want when you were sick, but it is delicious!!
(This is a recipe that Gordon got at his culinary school).
Muamba Nsusu – Congo Chicken Soup
1 Chicken cut into 8 pieces
1 qt Chicken stock
2 tbsp Palm oil
1 cup Onions diced
1 ½ tsp Garlic minced
½ tsp Crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup Tomato seeded, and diced to ½”
¼ cup Tomato paste
1/3 cup Peanut butter
Salt and Pepper to taste
Combine chicken and chicken stock; simmer until chicken is tender. Remove chicken from stock and retain stock at a simmer. Skin chicken and shred meat; set aside. Heat oil over medium heat; add onions and garlic and sautee 3 to 5 minutes, until soft. Add red pepper flakes and diced tomatoes; bring to a simmer. Combine 1 cup chicken broth from step 1 with tomato paste and peanut butter; stir until smooth. Combine chicken meat, tomato mixture, chicken broth, and peanut butter mixture. Stir and continue to simmer unit the soup is thickened, 5 to 10 minutes; do not boil. Salt and Pepper to taste. Serve hot.
Turkey Vegetable Meatloaf
The ingredient assembly.
Gordon and I have not eaten red meat in over 20 years, but we do eat chicken, turkey and pork. We also eat fish, but only when we know where it came from. So this turkey vegetable meatloaf satisfies that carnivore craving that we do have occasionally, but because it is loaded with veggies and low in fat, it’s a lot healthier for us.
My shadow in the kitchen Sugar…waiting for scraps to fall.
Ingredients for Two Meatloafs
3/4 Yellow Bell Pepper 1/2″ dice
1 Zucchini 1/2″ dice
1/2 Yellow Onion 1/2″ dice
4 tbsp Olive oil
1/2 cup Black Olives some chopped some cut into rounds
1/3 cup Sun dried tomatoes chopped
Salt and Pepper to taste
4 Garlic cloves mashed
1 bunch of parsley chopped
1 tsp Oregano dried or fresh
1 tsp Thyme dried or fresh
3 lbs of ground Turkey
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup or so of grated Parmesan cheese2 9×5″ glass loaf pans
Non-stick cooking spray 3/4 cup ketchup
3/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar
To the left is my mixture of sauteed vegetables I used in the turkey meatloaf. I love the colors of them together.
Peel and chop off the root ends of the garlic.
Place them in a mortar and pestle and mash them to a fine pulp.
Chop up a three quarters of a red bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, and a zucchini into 1/2″ dice. Also chop about half a medium sized onion to the same size dice. Saute them in a large pan with a little bit of olive oil on medium heat. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Chop up about 1/2 cup of black olives leaving some whole. Then chop up 1/3 cup of sun dried tomatoes. Toss both the chopped olives and sun dried tomatoes into the pan and saute them for about 4 minutes. Lastly, add your garlic pulp and cook for another few minutes.
This is what you should now have.
Set the mixture aside to cool.
Crack your egg into a medium mixing bowl. Take a bunch of parsley and chop it finely and place it in a bowl with a teaspoon of oregano and thyme. Whisk all the ingredients together adding some salt and pepper.
Place your thawed ground turkey into the bowl with about 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, 1/2 cup or so of grated Parmesan cheese and mix all together with a wooden spoon or your hands.
Once your sauteed vegetables have cooled, mix them together with you ground turkey mixture until just combined.
Coat two 9X5 inch loaf pans with a nonstick spray and gently press the mixture into the pans.
In a bowl, whisk together 3/4 of a cup of ketchup and 3/4 of a cup of balsamic vinegar and place the mixture on top of the meatloaf.
Bake them in a 425’F oven for approximately on hour. Let the meat rest for at least 10 minutes to let all the juices return to the center of the meat. Cutting them directly from the oven will produce a dry meatloaf.
Below, we topped some bread rolls with butter and herbs and bake them until hot.
Heat some green beans to go on the side and you have a great meal.
This was a great meal and we had plenty of left overs for me to take into work.
Chili Cheese Rice
(A Hawaiian Favorite)
Not everything has to come from scratch.
This is served throughout Hawaii especially at things like fundraisers or craft fairs or things like that. A very popular “local” food.
I start by buying a bag of Bear Creek Darn Good Chilli. It is an excellent base. Then I add to the chilli. Things like tomato paste, chopped green chilli’s, light and dark red kidney beans, black beans, ground pepper, and Tobasco sauce.
I simmer for HOURS on the stove! It really thickens the chilli up and just makes it taste delicious.
To the left my little vintage rice cooker that I adore!
It makes the best rice!
When all is finished you start your layering.
A layer of white rice and then a layer of chilli.
Top with some cheese and then you have an excellent dinner!
Julie’s Salmon Patties
(Good and Healthy)
Ingredients: I tend to eyeball everything and don’t use precise measurements.
2- 14.75 ounce cans pink salmon
1 medium onion, chopped (or thereabouts).
1 cup plain or seasoned bread crumbs (or thereabouts).
A few shakes of any hot sauce, I prefer Tabasco
2 eggs to use as a binder
Pepper to taste
Olive Oil (Not extra virgin)
You want to combine all the ingredients together. Keep the bones in the salmon. Do not remove. They are soft and it is pure calcium. Very healthy for you. Heat your skillet to medium high heat with the olive oil. I love to use my Grandmother’s cast iron skillet. Then just form the salmon into patties and place in the hot oil. Just enough oil to cover the bottom on the skillet. Brown on both sides, just a few minutes each. I love to throw in my extra onion that I chop up because I love that they get all caramelized and yummy. I don’t eat them on any sort of bun, but I suppose that you could if you liked and made a salmon pattie burger.
We adore Brussel sprouts and especially love to eat them roasted in the oven. This is an excellent way, and very delicious. All you need is a packet of ‘Zesty Italian’ seasoning mix and some extra virgin olive oil. Take a plastic baggie and add the cleaned and sliced Brussel sprouts. Then add the ‘Zesty Italian’ dry seasoning mix and some olive oil. Just let the Brussel sprouts marinade a bit and then place them on a baking sheet. Cook on 350* for about 25 minutes or so. Then you have perfection! Trust me!
They look delicious, don’t they? Photo
at top is before, photo right above is after. Both look wonderful! So caramelized!
Red Beans and Rice with Turkey Kielbasa
My Grandmother’s vintage divided casserole dish that I treasure.
This is a favorite meal of ours. Just a simple red beans and rice recipe, we like Zatarain’s, and a pan seared turkey Keilbasa.
This adds such a smokey flavor to the dish.
Red Beans and Rice is the most perfect meal that exists. We have added a little bit of a smokey turkey sausage taste to it. One of our favorite quick fix meals at home.