Category Archives: Food

Dessert: Mini-Cheeseburgers

My mom once asked me to help her make a version of these mini-cheeseburgers for a kid’s birthday party. They were very easy to make and had visual appeal. I thought they were so cute that I made them last week for my organization’s “Taste of Near North” event (which is much like the “Taste of Chicago” event where you go around to different booths and pay some money to try a small serving of a food item.) These li’l guys were not only easy to make they were also a big hit! I was told they sold out in no time..

Sweet treats

Sweet treats

The following recipe makes 40 mini-cheese burgers:
1pkg – Nilla wafers (buns)
1pkg -Keebler’s grasshopper cookies (meat)
1pkg – white frosting (for adherence)
1 tube- yellow frosting (cheese & mustard)
1 tube- red frosting (ketchup & tomatoes)
1/2 package shredded coconut (lettuce)
Green food coloring.
Sesame seeds


1.) Lettuce – mix shredded coconut with green food coloring – set aside

2.) Spread white frosting on the flat sides of the Nilla Wafers – lining them up as a top/bottom pair (2 nilla wafers for one sandwich)

3.) Place a Grasshopper cookie on one of the two nilla wafers (the bottom bun)

4.) Apply yellow frosting as a circular ring on top of the Grasshopper cookie.

5.) Apply red icing in random dots around the yellow icing.

6.) Layer bits of the shredded green coconut on top of the frosting

7.) Place 2nd Nilla wafer on top (top bun)

8.) Place a dab of honey on top of the top bun Nilla wafer and brush on evenly.

9.) Sprinkle sesame seeds lightly

10.) Smile at your cute little creation and store in a cool place!


Bacon and Tomato pasta

When I couldn’t sleep a few days back I went searching for a number of dishes I want to make. As a result, over the next several weeks you’ll enjoy the results of my evening with insomnia and it starts with this dish – Bacon and Tomato pasta.

For this adventure you’ll need:

2 tablespoons kosher salt
16 ounces spaghetti pasta
1 pound thick-cut bacon or pancetta, chopped
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup red onion, diced
1 teaspoon red chili flakes
3 tablespoons garlic, minced
2 cups Roma tomatoes, diced
1/4 cup red wine
4 tablespoons basil, chiffonade
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 16 ounces spaghetti pasta
  • 1 pound thick-cut bacon or pancetta, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup red onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon red chili flakes
  • 3 tablespoons garlic, minced
  • 2 cups Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 4 tablespoons basil
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For my version I substituted Chili powder for the Red Pepper Flakes and also added dried Parsley.

You’ll have two things at once going on here, just be ready for it.

  1. Add 2 tablespoons kosher salt to a pot of boiling water, and the pasta and cook until tender
  2. In a large saute pan over medium heat, add bacon and saute until bacon is crispy.
  3. Remove bacon to drain on a paper towel-lined plate and remove 3/4 of the bacon fat from the pan.
  4. Add extra-virgin olive oil, onions, and red chili flakes. Cook until onions are translucent, add garlic, cook for 2 minutes then add tomatoes and saute for 5 minutes.
  5. Deglaze with wine.
  6. Drain pasta and add to the tomato mixture pan.
  7. Add basil and bacon.
  8. Toss with Parmesan, and add salt and pepper, to taste.

Your end result should look something like this…


Now here is the good new and the bad news.

The dish is good; however, the dish is NOT a main course. Seeing the effort time one needs to put into making the creation there is almost diminishing returns taking place.

Ok, on to the taste.

The wine, garlic and bacon mix perfectly.  Add in the basil and there is a delicate addition to the dish that helps tie everything together.  Yes, next time I make the dish, and I will make it again, I will give it a shot with the red pepper flakes. But was it stands it has the ability to add a little something to your meal.

Just remember, it’s not a main dish! it IS a main dish.


Tina made a version of the dish and enjoyed it!

Scallops with Anise-Orange Tapenade

I made this for dinner tonight and absolutely fell in love!  I am also a kalamata olive lover so I actually made half more of the tapenade than this recipe calls for.  Once all the ingredients are ready, this dish does not take long at all to complete (that’s one of the great things about seafood).  Lots of flavor!  I will definitely be making this dish again.  Hope you enjoy as well!

What you will need:

12 fresh/frozen sea scallops (about 1 1/4 lbs total)
1/3 c kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
1 green onion, sliced
1/2 tsp finely shredded orange peel
2 tsp orange juice
1/4 tsp anise seeds, crushed
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

1. Thaw scallops, rinse and pat dry

2. For tapenade, in a small bowl combine olives, green onions, orange peel, orange juice, anise seeds, and cayenne pepper


3. Coat unheated large nonstick skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Preheat over med-high heat. Add scallops and cook 3-6 mins or until scallops are opaque, turning once.

4. Serve with tapenade and if desired sprinkle with more orange peel.  Makes 4 servings.  (I served this with a parmesan rice side and a baby herb salad).

Scallops with Anise-Orange Tapenda


Nutritional Information:

Calories: 145

Total Fat: 3 g

Cholesterol: 47 mg

Protein: 24 g

Carbohydrate: 5 g

Fiber  1 g

Sodium: 353 mg

Tortilla-crusted chicken

With this being my first post I wanted to be sure the dish is well worth your try. Rest assured, it is. For something so simple there is a lot of flavor and texture.

You will need:

1 c finely crused multigrain tortilla chips
1/2 tsp dried oregano, crushed
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 egg
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (about 1 1/4 lb total)
shredded romain/salad
purchased salsa*
avocado slices

1. Preheat oven to 375 and coat a baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. In a shallow dish combine chips, cumin, oregano, and pepper. Place egg in another shallow dish; beat lightly. Dip chicken in egg and then coat with tortilla chip mixture.

2. Arrange chicken in prepared baking pan and bake for 25 minutes or until no longer pink. Serve on romaine and top with salsa and avocado. Makes 4 servings. Enjoy!

*I used a medium salsa for extra ‘kick’ and flavor.

tortilla-crusted chicken


Nutritional Information (per serving):

Calories: 230

Total Fat: 6 g

Cholesterol: 135 mg

Protein: 35 g

Carbohydrate: 7 g

Fiber: 1 g

Sodium: 143 mg

Some of the Thanksgiving day spoils

Our quite decadent meal for two:


So this is pretty much our whole Thanksgiving meal save the dessert which was a coconut banana chocolate frozen goop.

The pumpkin soup is the recipe I shared here.

The salad is mixed greens from our CSA box, right off the farm. They are a delightful mix which includes some nice spicy and bitter greens.

The roasted potatoes are also from the CSA box and they are tossed with diced garlic, fresh rosemary, salt and pepper and olive oil and then roasted until browned. (they could have cooked a bit more actually)

The dressing is spelt bread diced
in small pieces tossed with sauteed onions, celery, garlic, salt, pepper, sage, thyme, and LOTS OF BUTTER. After the saute I put in 2 diced uncooked apples, a handful of pinenuts, a handful of walnuts and a handful of raisins. Then put them in a baking dish and covered them while baking until the last 15 minutes.

The turkey is two thigh pieces. Roasted with salt, pepper, sage, rosemary and garlic.

The cranberry sauce was about 12 oz of cranberries with 2 diced pears and about 1/3 of a can of frozen orange concentrate. No sugar added. The orange juice was plenty for me, though it was tart, no doubt. Also about 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 1/2 tsp of nutmeg. Boiled until nice and thick.

I made a mock gravy
as we didn’t have a whole bird to save juices. I boiled about 32 oz of chicken stock with 1/2 a cup of red wine down to about 10 oz. Added salt, pepper, garlic powder and sage, and then thickened it with flour. It wasn’t bad, though I prefer the real thing. No fat…that was nice.

We also have a dessert. I pureed in the blender 3 bananas, a 14 oz can of coconut milk, 1/2 cup raw chocolate powder and 1 tbls of honey. It’s in the freezer. When it’s thickened we’ll eat it. No picture.

Sausage, apple and sweet potato casserole….


That photo looks like it’s all sweet potato and it wasn’t at all.

So I had some chicken hot italian sausages. These are really good natural sausages. They do not have that weak chicken sausage flavor so many chicken sausages have. So if I didn’t know these were great sausages and you prefer pork, then I’d go with pork for this recipe.

I browned about a pound of sausage. I took off the skins and sauteed it like ground meat. Before I did the saute I boiled a 1sausmassively huge sweet potato. Two regular sized large sweet potatoes would do. These are from the CSA box we’re getting so nothing is typical which is lovely because you know it’s not been genetically modified or altered in any way for it to look “normal” for the grocery store. So I cut up the potato in pieces and boiled it.

After the sausage was cooked I put it on the bottom of an 8 x 8 baking dish. I topped that with a layer of thinly sliced apple.

I mashed the potatoes once they were cooked and added salt. Then I put this over the apples and sausage. I baked it covered for 1/2 an hour at 400 degrees and then uncovered for 20 minutes.

2sausI had no idea how this would turn out except I had a vague memory of liking pork sausage with sweet potatoes—where I got this idea I didn’t know. My husband later reminded me I used to get an egg scramble in a restaurant we used to frequent in which there was both a hefty amount of sweet potatoes and sausage. The apple was a new addition. I wasn’t sure if I’d like it but I did and in fact I loved it!


Served it with also local collard greens from the CSA box for an all around southern feel. (I live in the south for those of you who do not know)

Cross-posted at BlogAsheville

Lentil soup with bison sausage


I’ve been having fun with my new (old) crock pot.

For the lentil soup I threw everything in without browning. If one wants a richer soup saute or brown the meat and veggies a bit. This one came out very well without doing so. I simply cut up and threw all the below ingredients into the pot and turned it on high. I cooked it for the afternoon. If you want to do it overnight the low setting would be fine as well.

The sausages were highly flavored and spiced so the flavor of the soup was greatly influenced by them. Think about what sort of sausage you’re using and adjust the flavors accordingly.


1 lb bison sausage (any sausage of your choice is fine)

2 cups dry lentils

water to fill the pot after all ingredients added

whole bunch of celery sliced

1 large onion diced

3 carrots sliced

5 cloves garlic diced

1 cup red wine

3 bay leaves

1 tbls celery seed

2 tbls balsamic vinegar

2 tbls molasses

Salt and pepper to taste (I used red chili flakes)

White cannellini bean hummus with cilantro

Looks like guacamole, but it’s not!


  • 2 cups white beans (cooked in the crock pot over night on low after soaking for about 4 hours — in the morning I turned it on high for about 1 1/2 as the beans weren’t cooked! that surprised me)
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1/2 cup olive oil (more if needed)
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 5 cloves of garlic (more or less to taste)
  • Salt to taste

I pureed the olive oil and cilantro in a food processor with the garlic first then added the rest of the ingredients. Blended until smooth.

I served this on grilled eggplant slices the day I made it. After that I ate it on rice cakes, and also used it in place of salad dressing. It can be a sandwich spread, or a veggie dip. I imagine it can be frozen as well, though I’ve not tried it yet.

Creamy chicken mushroom soup



  • 3 lb whole chicken
  • 2 lbs mushrooms sliced
  • 64 oz stock of your choice
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 8 oz fresh goat cheese
  • 1 very large onion diced
  • 4 cups of celery diced
  • 6 cloves of garlic minced
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tbls celery seed
  • Salt to taste
  • Fresh ground black pepper to taste

Boiled chicken in stock for 2 hours with the bay leaves and the celery seed. I usually skin the chicken first to avoid having to take the fat off of the soup in some other way.

In separate pan I sauteed the garlic, onions, celery, and mushrooms until soft. Then I added the wine and brought it to a boil and turned it off while I waited for the chicken.

Once the chicken is done I remove the chicken from the broth and let cool. I take out the bay leaves from the stock.

I crumbled the goat cheese and melted it in the broth at this point.

Once cool I take all the meat off the chicken and cut it up in very small pieces. At this point all is thrown together–the chicken, broth with goat cheese and the sauteed veggies with the wine. Heat all together to blend flavors, then serve.

If you want a creamier soup you can add a 1/4 cup flour after first adding water very slowly until you have a liquid. Drizzle in the flour with water while stirring a boiling soup. I did not add the flour and liked it just as it was.

One can also add rice which I intend to do tomorrow for the second round. I like steaming the rice separately.