Category Archives: Lunch

Split-Pea Soup

Here’s another one that may be better the next day! I tend to cook in a hurry, so four hours in the slow-cooker on High may not be ideal for this recipe. Cooking something else to accompany this is recommended, and it’s actually what I did…luckily (pork chops) or just plan better!

After chopping, everything in the pot.

I stirred it every few hours to check on its progress. Not needed.

This is after eight hours on Low. It doesn’t look like much, in my opinion, but it was very flavorful and filling.

It’s also very chunky since I don’t have a food-processor or blender, and I can’t use my Bullet to smooth it out, so this was it!

This was the leftovers! The peas are more broken down into a paste and a less watery base. It was impressively easy in the end.

Split-Pea Soup

8 oz chopped deli ham

2 cubes beef bouillon

Lb dried split peas, rinsed

One celery stalk, chopped

Half of one large carrot, chopped

One shallot, chopped

One bay leaf

One teaspoon salt

1/4 t crushed peppercorns

1/4 t dried thyme

8 c water



Creole Chicken Gumbo

Better as leftovers? Possibly. Portioning out servings of rice with the leftover Gumbo for lunch the following day, one for my man, plus one to give away, and one for myself, I noticed the rice absorbed quite a bit of the liquid the next day even though I dropped spoonfuls of rice in the storage containers as opposed to mixing it in.


Creole Seasoning

T dried onions 

T dried melange peppercorns, milled with dried onions to make powder

T garlic powder

T dried oregano

T dried basil

T dried thyme

½ T cayenne

2 ½ T paprika 

1 ½ T salt


Chopped carrots, celery, and shallots. Honestly, I’d rather eat not-so-fresh veggies than something from a box.

Brown the roast chicken and chicken Andouille sausage on medium-high with olive oil.

In the same pan after chopping the chicken breasts and adding all of the browned meat to the Crock-Pot, brown the flour and equal part olive oil, stirring constantly.

The darker, the better from what I understand; as long as you don’t let it burn.

It will make the kitchen smell amazing! Or if you just start getting nervous that it’s going to burn, add the veggies. Cook for about four minutes. Then, add the remaining ingredients to the pot.

Cook on High for 4 hours or Low for 8-10 hours.

This was the result after four hours on High.

This was the leftovers! Both were delicious, but there was no soupiness to the leftovers. I feel like a true Gumbo is more like a stew after the rice has time to soak up the soup…but what do I know?

Chicken Gumbo

Lb chopped roasted chicken

Lb chicken Andouille sausage, sliced on a bias

One stalk celery, chopped

One medium carrot, chopped

One shallot, chopped

5 cloves of garlic, minced

8 c water

8 t Better Than Bouillon – Chicken

One large bay leaf

2 t Creole seasoning (see recipe towards beginning of post)

½ t dried thyme

½ c flour

½ c olive oil

Salmon Frittata

Quiche without crust. Frittata.

Sometimes you just don’t feel like leaving the house and you end up mentally going through your kitchen inventory to figure out what to make for dinner. Can you relate? Well, one of the ingredients we always have in our refrigerator (or are making a trip to Costco for) is eggs. I love eggs! They are light, delicious, and so versatile.

We also have this wonderful salmon that Mike caught in Sausalito a couple months ago. There was so much, we froze most of it. It was nice not having to buy salmon since it is one of the food we have regularly stocked in our kitchen.

So today was one of those days when I really wasn’t feeling like going to the store. Eggs for dinner and how-to-make-eggs-for-dinner on the brain, I remembered the quiche my host mother in France had made the first night I was there. So good, I wanted to try and duplicate it after I got home to the States.

I made one attempt in college before this one, semi-successfully. Just like then, my skillet is pretty wide, so the frittata is spread out over this area and comes out thin. If you like a fluffier frittata, you can use more eggs; just be sure to season them properly and be prepared for a longer oven bake, probably closer to an hour. You also have to be careful not to overcook the salmon or toughen the eggs.

6oz fresh salmon

4 oz cream cheese, cubed, set aside in bowl

8 eggs

5 oz baby spinach

One shallot, chopped

1t dried dill

salt and pepper

Olive oil and/or cooking spray

In a large skillet, heated to medium-high, add 1-2 T olive oil. Add shallots and heat until a nice golden brown begins to show. Add spinach, salt and pepper. Cook until wilted. Add to bowl of cream cheese. Spray skillet with cooking oil, whisk dill into eggs, add eggs to skillet. Distribute spinach, cream cheese, and salmon evenly.

Bake 350F for 30 minutes.


Slow Cooker Pot Pie

2 large chicken breasts, roasted and chopped

4 cups water

4 teaspoons Better Than Bouillon Chicken

12 oz bag frozen peas and carrots

½-1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms

One large shallot, chopped

Lb bacon cooked, extra crispy and crumbled

One cup of heavy cream

2 T flour, for thickening (can substitute or leave out)

Salt and pepper


Biscuits: (optional)

1 ½ cups Bisquick

½-1 cup milk, start with ½ c and add a little at a time until all flour is moistened

Don’t let the photos make you dizzy! They do look sideways because they are; that was the best angle for optimum lighting. I had food on my hand and used my iPhone camera. This recipe went quick!

Starting with frozen chicken breast I had cooking in the Crock-Pot on High for two hours, I used tongs to remove and chop them on a cutting board and transfer them to my second Crock-Pot. Side note: I absolutely love having two! The frozen chicken releases a bunch of goo. If I remember correctly, it’s protein which makes a mess in the pot. Instead of removing the chicken and having to clean the pot before continuing, I just use the second pot when I’m in a hurry.

Add the chopped shallots, sliced mushrooms, bag of frozen veggies, water, and Better Than Bouillon, and then salt and pepper everything. Cook on High for two hours.

I waited to add the bacon with the cream and flour to keep it as crispy as possible. Stir the flour into the carton of cream to save from dirtying another dish and add it 30 minutes before serving as well as dollops of the biscuit mix.

Bacon and cream stirred in.


Result after two hours. I added a tab of butter to my bowl of goodness. So yummy!

I noticed the result was better after I turned off the heat and let the leftovers cool for storage. This is common when making recipes with gravy (flour). The leftovers, I suspected, would be ever more delicious!

Notice the biscuits cooked this way are not crispy, but more like dumplings or pancakes without the browning on the outside. That’s the give for this method. The Crock-Pot steams the dough rather than baking it, and I actually added foil under the lid of the pot during the last 30 minutes to make sure the dough cooked through. You would have to use the conventional oven for crispy biscuits which I love, but they take more time, dishes, and effort. Also, using the oven warms up the kitchen which I like to avoid.

Garlic Butter Ravioli

Bend asparagus spears as close to the bottom as possible breaking off the stiffest part of the stalk and discard (or add to compost pile). Chop shallot, mince garlic.

Melt two tablespoons of butter with two tablespoons of olive oil.

Brown both side of the chicken (pre-cooked in the slow cooker on High for four hours) in butter after adding three cloves minced garlic and one chopped shallots and cooking until clear.

I actually steamed the asparagus while the pasta was cooking. Drain pasta when floats. Plate ingredients and sprinkle with sliced almonds. Add extra olive oil and melted butter to the pasta if preferred. Easy.

Cajun Chicken and Sausage Pasta

Photo by M. Sandoval

One-Pot Cajun Chicken and Sausage Alfredo Pasta. That’s a mouthful!

This recipe was at the end of a blog post that I neither had the time nor patience to read. The photos are beautiful and show most, if not all, of the ingredients. I love that! What happens with me, though, is: I already have chicken going in the slow-cooker where I know it will be cooked to perfection. My dilemma is getting a recipe together in time for dinner. Why don’t I plan better? I can’t. Literally. Chicken in the pot is a good sign! So, I skim over the recipe and check to see if I need anything from the store. Here, I only needed the sausage and more cream. This would be easy; fresh parsley in the backyard, bulk garlic from Costco, as well as pasta, spices, and my favorite chicken “stock” Better Than Bouillon are all always on hand.

Sometimes I’ll grab the few ingredients I need for several recipes, but I really do need to get out of the house everyday. Today, was a quick-stop day.

A package of quality Andouille sausage, slice the links on a bias, brown in a couple tablespoons of olive oil. Add minced garlic, stock, and then cream. Here is where not reading all the directions ahead of time (or at least, thoroughly, became a problem…or a bump in the process). I had a pot of water going in which I planned on cooking the pasta. Looking at the pan with the sausages and stock, I realized I missed something because the cream was not going to fit. I could blame the stock; Better Than Bouillon is added to water to make as much as you need and maybe I wasn’t paying attention to the quantity of liquid I would be using. I could also blame pan use. Stock pots were not made for browning meat, but this recipe clearly states in the name that it’s a “one-pot” dish.

Anyway, I caught it at the right time (really, this is just not a one-pot dish–the chefs will tell you!); after adding the stock to the pan with the sausages which “deglazes” the pan getting all the “yummy bits”, as my chef friend calls it, off the bottom of the pan from browning the meat, and before adding the cream which potentially could stick to the pan. Everybody into the stock pot. Continuing from there, it worked out perfectly.

Cajun Spice:

1½ T sea salt

1½ T cayenne

1½ T paprika

1½ T garlic powder

1½ T fresh ground black pepper

T dried chopped onion

T dried oregano

Optional: T dried thyme


I had cooked the chicken separately and so chopped it and added it with the cream, pasta, and parmesan cheese (where the author used fresh grated parmesan which I didn’t know until looking up the website to cite–I use what I have unless I know it will compromise the integrity of the recipe).


What’s left of our backyard parsley after last month’s heat wave. Sprinkled on top!

Amazing flavor, just the right amount of heat (which is variable)! This one’s a keeper!

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Homemade Pizza

Dough made in the bread machine with Italian herbs? Can you imagine the aroma that fills the house? For the toppings, we started with sweet Italian sausage pinched out of the casings and browned in a skillet with a little olive oil.

The dough from the bread machine looks speckled from the Italian herbs. Mike spun it out like back in his Pizza Hut days and stretched it out to the edges of the pizza pan.

Add your favorite toppings. There’s really no right or wrong here; just try and stick with a theme if you want to make sure the flavors will go together or try to replicate an old favorite. For example, cheeseburger–what do you like on your cheeseburger? Put it on the dough! *Meats, unless precooked, need browned beforehand. You’re really just cooking the dough in the oven. Anything else as toppings need to be safe eaten uncooked or without further cooking. Don’t forget your sauce: red, white, pesto, olive oil would work, too!

We topped it with marinara sauce, Italian sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, and of course, mozzarella cheese!

In the oven at 375°F for 20 minutes-ish. I suggest you check on it after ten minutes depending on what you packed on it and how thick your crust is. Watch the crust for a golden brown, and the cheese in the center should be melted. Voilà! You’re a cook!

Taco Ring

A friend of mine who is also a chef, sent me a similar recipe she had done at home with her kids. Naturally, I have to attempt to recreate it. She challenges me that way. The good thing about that is…she never holds back on the kuddos!

She went to culinary school while I was studying Dietetics and the intricacies of food science and human nutrition, so in working out substitutions and proportions, I get validation from her in what I’ve created thanks to that prior knowledge (along with my 30+ years of cooking/experimenting). I actually have two best friends who are chefs, but I digress.

The Taco seasoning, of course, I make at home saving from added preservatives or inexplicable additives you can’t pronounce incorporated during processing. I love these little Ball jars with shaker tops! They’re great for the extra spice mix or making bulk for multiple recipes!














Taco Seasoning:

2 T (tablespoons) chili powder

T ground cumin

½ t (teaspoons) garlic powder

½ t onion powder

½ t dried oregano

t paprika

2 t each sea salt and ground black pepper

Optional– ½ t crushed red pepper


Brown 1-1/4 lb ground turkey, drain fat. Sprinkle 3 to 5 tablespoons, depending on how spicy you like your Mexican food, over turkey meat. Allow to warm and release the oils (smells) of the spices. Remove from heat. Allow to cool so it doesn’t cook the pastry while you’re filling it.

Separate two tubes of refrigerator croissants. Overlap triangles into a ring. You may have to adjust it, but it will be okay as long as the dough stays cold. Stir cheese into meat and spoon onto overlapping sections of the croissant dough.

Gently wrap opposite end of dough over the meat and tuck the point under the inside of the ring. Cook according to croissant baking instructions.

Taco Ring ingredients:

2 tubes refrigerator croissants

1-1/4 lb ground turkey

3 to 5 T taco seasoning or one packet

2 cups of Mexican or Fiesta blend cheese, cheddar also works well

Sour cream, chopped fresh tomatoes, salsa, and cilantro to garnish

Classic Fried Rice

Childhood favorite, versatile, personalize-able, simple, quick, filling, tasty…so many words to describe this dish. It’s quick if you have rice ready or a rice cooker. I like to think of fried rice as the Asian equivalent to lasagna; it’s all your leftovers thrown together, or at least, that’s how I figure lasagna was first made, but layered! For lasagna, you need pasta and cheese; everything else is by selection. For fried rice, you need rice and egg. You can virtually put whatever else in it you choose. My mom had several versions of fried rice: hamburger fried rice, SPAM fried rice (like you see here), spicy fried rice…

SPAM is easily a kid-favorite food because it’s salty. It balances well with these light-flavored vegetables, peas and carrots. I like to use frozen vegetables for this because they keep their shape (don’t get mushy while being tossed around in this mix), are inexpensive but have similar nutritional integrity as fresh vegetables, and they’re ready to cook (no chopping, cleaning, etc).

I’m basically defrosting them in about 1/4 cup of water or chicken stock in a pan on medium-high while I chop the SPAM.

Probably shouldn’t have the kids chop this up…they like to sneak tastes!


I’ve added the SPAM to the veggies to warm it up. I just think it tastes better this way. Once that’s done, add three scrambled eggs, salt and pepper. I’ve opened up a space in the center of the mix to cook the egg as you will see any Asian cooking fried rice will do. Drop some olive oil in there before the eggs. You could cook the eggs first and set them aside; this will also save from dirtying another pan.

Rice is done. Add it when everything else is done cooking. Don’t forget your sauce! Soy sauce, fish sauce, hoisin…whatever you like. You really have to experiment. Most Asians don’t use recipes.