Friday, January 30, 2015

Mustard Greens and Spicy Pork Soup

This is one of my very favorite winter meals I have ever made. I got the recipe idea from Bon Appetit magazine and added a few of my own little touches. It might seem like it calls for a ton of greens, but put them all in anyway- once they become a part if the soup they turn into a silky yummy tender texture. The whole thing comes out so flavorful and satisfying...just delectable. And healthy! Exactly what I crave on a blustery January day. Serves 4 people. 


1/2 pound grass fed ground pork 

3 teaspoons finely grated or minced peeled ginger 

garlic cloves minced 

1 teaspoon red pepper chili flakes

1 teaspoon black and white peppercorns, crushed

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 tablespoon olive oil 

Salt and freshly ground pepper

6 scallions, white part only, sliced thinly 

5 cups low-sodium chicken broth 

1 bunch mustard greens, thinly chopped 

3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce or Shoyu sauce 

1 teaspoon fish sauce 

8 oz. flat brown rice noodles 


I think this soup would work great with Kale or collard greens too. 

Put pork, ginger, garlic, crushed peppercorns, cumin, and red pepper flakes in a bowl and mix. In a large pot heat oil on a medium heat. Add pork mixture, and stir with a wooden spoon, breaking up the pork into fine little pieces until there is no more pink color, and everything is browned- about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. 

Add chicken broth and bring to a boil. Bring the heat down to a simmer and let all the flavors mingle for about 10 minutes. Add scallions, soy sauce, fish sauce and mustard greens. Stir off and on until the greens turn soft, about 7 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. 

Meanwhile in a large stock pot cook noodles about one minute less than the directions say on the box and drain. 

Add noodles to the broth mixture and serve piping hot. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

CSA delivery!

How much do we love Community Supported Agriculture...thank you local farmers! Today we received (through delivery!) organic carrots, red potatoes, beets, and as a treat, to remind us of summer: a jar of roasted tomatoes and some frozen organic strawberries! Seasonal local produce. Dreamy.


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Quinoa, Bean & Veggie Enchilada Bake

Serves: 6-8 

Cooking and prep time: 45 minutes 

This dish came out really delicious. Coming from California, I love making all kinds of Mexican food. This hearty recipe is a healthful, comforting, vegetarian, yummy way to satisfy those cheesy enchilada cravings. It's all the flavors I love in one dish! Plus it's a cinch to make. I put some sharp cheddar and scallions on the top along with some avocado and at dinner my husband immediately dove in with some tortilla chips. It's a hit! 

P.S. This dish freezes well too! 


1 cup uncooked pearled quinoa, rinsed
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
1-2 jalapeños, ribs and seeds removed, diced
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
2 cups frozen corn
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 cup cilantro, chopped 
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 26 oz can black beans, drained 
2-3 dashes of your favorite hot sauce 
3 cups red enchilada sauce
2 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese 

Optional toppings: Diced Avocado, Greek Yogurt or Sour Cream, Scallions, Juice of one lime

Side dish suggestion: 
I chopped up some Romaine Lettuce nice and thin, squeezed the juice of a lemon and a quick glug of extra virgin olive oil, a pinch of salt & pepper, and a bit of diced avocado- and voila! A crunchy zesty little side salad to help cool the palate. 


1. Put rinsed Quinoa into 2-3 cups of water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Boil for 10 minutes and then bring down to a simmer for another 5 minutes, or until the water has evaporated. Remove from heat, stir, and set aside. 

2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a 9x13 baking dish with olive oil or cooking spray. 

3. In a deep enameled cast iron pot or skillet, heat olive oil. Add onion, peppers, garlic, corn, and jalapeño. Toss gently and sauté for about 10 minutes. Shake a few dashes of hot sauce into the mixture, add cumin, salt and pepper to taste, and half the cilantro. Toss.

4. Add the quinoa and black beans to the vegetable mixture and stir. Pour in the enchilada sauce and stir. 

5. Put the quinoa and black bean mixture into the greased baking dish. Sprinkle grated cheese over the top and the remaining cilantro. Bake for 25 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and melted. Remove from oven and garnish with toppings such as scallions. If desired, dip in with some tortilla chips. Enjoy! 

Monday, January 26, 2015

Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free Bolognese Pasta

After posting my last recipe of Penne Bolognese, many of you asked me if I had a dairy-free gluten-free version of this dish. I sure do, and it's fantastic. I love this version because there is no flavor or richness lost, and it suits many dietary needs. You will not miss the dairy or the gluten. It won't even cross your mind when the gorgeous fresh rosemary and garlic flavors hit those taste buds. 


3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 pound 90% lean grass fed ground beef
4 garlic cloves, minced 
1 stalk celery, diced 
2 tablespoons fresh Rosemary, chopped
1 teaspoon red pepper chili flakes
1/2 cup beef broth 
2 boxes Pomi Chopped Tomatoes (26 oz) or 2 cans San Marzano Chopped Tomatoes (28 oz each) 
Kosher Salt and freshly ground black pepper 
16 oz Gluten-Free Pasta (I use Tru Roots Ancient Grain Pasta, made from organic brown rice, quinoa, amaranth & corn found in any health food store)

Heat the oil in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef, garlic, and celery. Separate beef with a wooden spoon and cook until beef is no longer pink, about 6 minutes. Stir in red chili pepper flakes, chopped rosemary, and salt & pepper and cook for one minute. Add beef broth, tomatoes, and stir, simmering for 20 minutes. 

Meanwhile bring a large pot of water to a boil, add a pinch of salt, and add the pasta- cooking until al dente. Follow directions on the package. 

When the pasta is cooked, drain and put into a large bowl, saving a cup of the starchy water to add to the sauce if desired. Add sauce and starch water to the pasta and stir to coat. Serve hot with a drizzle of olive oil on top. Delicious! 

Urban Belly Ramen, Chicago

This is one of my favorite places for authentic Ramen Noodle Soup in all of Chicago. Urban Belly doesn't miss any detail - and they use local organic produce whenever possible. The noodles are perfectly al dente, and the broth is to die for.

Lentil Chard Soup

When I need to feel like I'm eating something healthier, lentil soup makes me feel darn good - plus it's delicious, and it's filing. When I'm extra hungry I enjoy putting an egg with cheese on too. This is easy to throw together in less than an hour, and it pairs quite nicely with a light to medium bodied red wine on a cold winter night. 


1 pound French green lentils
1 onion, chopped
1 leek, chopped
1 bunch Swiss Chard, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, diced
2 glugs of good olive oil, plus some more to drizzle on top at the end 
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
1 medium carrot, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
2 quarts chicken stock
1/2 cup white wine 
Grated Parmesan Cheese for serving


Cover the lentils with hot water in a bowl, and let sit for 15 minutes. Drain. 

In a large pot, heat the oil on medium heat. Add onions, leek, garlic, cumin, salt and pepper and sauté until the vegetables are tender, about 15 minutes. Add the carrots and celery and cook for 10 more minutes. Add the chicken stock, and lentils, stir well. Cover the pot and bring everything to a boil. Reduce the heat to a medium-low, add Chard, and simmer uncovered for 30-40 minutes, until the lentils are tender yet slightly al dente. Throw in the wine and the apple cider vinegar, add more seasonings if needed, and stir. Let the ingredients make friends for another 5 minutes, and then serve hot, drizzled with olive oil, chili pepper flakes, and a large pinch of grated Parmesan. Feel free to top with a fried egg (optional). Enjoy! 

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Potato, Ground Beef & Vegetable Soup

Needless to say, it is just crazy bitter cold out. Soup is all I crave, and the cold makes me hungry. I felt like something a bit different than my usual soup repertoire and I came up with this. It's like a mixture of French Onion Soup and a hamburger with loads of veggies and herbs. Feel free to play with whatever vegetables you have in the fridge, this soup is flexible. And its a winner. Nutritious, simple to make, it feels like a hug in a bowl.

Serves 6-8 people as a main course.


1 pound ground 90% lean grass fed beef 
1 medium Onion diced
4 cloves garlic minced 
3 stalks celery sliced
1 28 ounce can or box of diced tomatoes
2 small carrots diced 
1 medium zucchini diced
5 medium red potatoes cubed
1 head of Kale or Chard, rinsed and roughly chopped 
8 cups Beef Broth
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes
1 jalapeño (optional)
Salt and freshly ground pepper 
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan for serving


In a large pot over medium-high heat, brown the beef along with the onions, garlic, celery, and carrot. Cook, stirring occasionally until meat is no longer pink and the veggies are slightly tender. Add oregano, salt, pepper and chili flakes. Stir, add all of the other ingredients and bring everything to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, and cover the pot for about 20 minutes, until the potatoes are tender. 

Serve with a generous pinch of Parmesan, and yummy toasted bread and butter!! Mmmmmmm!!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

It's 2 degrees outside, time for Chicken Noodle Soup!

So I know I am not alone here: not only do I have the brutal quintessential early winter cold and cough, but Chicago has already taken "baby it's cold outside" to a quasi- lethal level. Happy New Year, today the Weather Channel told us any exposed skin for over 15 minutes will result in frost bite. Cue the homemade Chicken Noodle Soup. Only this time, it's serious. I'm pulling out ALL the stops- ginger? Yep. Turmeric? You bet. Nothing is going to pull us into the cold flu season with this soup. I've put anythjng  and everything to help heal your little body and soul. And the bonus is it's delicious. 
Be prepared: this will feed eight people.


2 tbs Olive oil 
10 cloves diced garlic
One chopped onion
1 medium carrot diced 
3 stalks celery chopped 
1 teaspoon Turmeric (optional)
1 bunch Kale, rinsed and roughly chopped 
1 bunch fresh dill chopped 
1 bunch parsley chopped 
1 knob ginger root diced 
1 Serrano chili pepper
1 cup green beans trimmed and chopped 
1 Rotisserie Chicken, skin pulled off, meat torn and chopped 
1 lb Wide Egg Noodles
3 Quarts Organic Low Sodium Chicken Broth 
1 liter water 
Juice of one lemon 
Salt & fresh ground pepper to taste 


In a large pot, heat the oil over medium-high. Add onions, garlic, Serrano Chile, celery, green beans and carrots and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are slightly tender, for about 5 -6 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Add broth, turmeric if using, and water and bring to a boil. Add Kale, parsley, dill and diced chicken, and bring down to a simmer.

Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling water add egg noodles until just al dente (follow the directions on the package.) Drain noodles and add them to the soup pot. 

Let simmer, salt and pepper to taste again, and combine flavors for about 10 minutes. Squeeze in lemon juice and serve piping hot. Here's to your health! 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Umbrian Vegetable Soup

The bright flavors of the herbs and quickly cooked veggies brings some Spring into Wintertime in this healthy, flavorful soup...


1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil 
1/2 cup fresh basil
2 handfuls chopped flat leaf parsley
4 cloves garlic
1/2 medium onion
4 cups Vegetable or Chicken Broth
3-4 Red Potatoes cubed
1 medium carrot diced
2 plum tomatoes 
2 cups chopped and rinsed spinach
2 cups canned cannelini beans 
1 cup frozen peas 
Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste 
A pinch of red chili pepper flakes
Freshly grated Parmesan


Place half the chopped basil, 2 tbsp olive oil, onions, garlic and parsley into a food processor and process until everything is slightly chunky. Heat the remaining olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat and add the processed mixture. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring often. Add potatoes, carrot, and tomatoes. Cook and stir for about 5 minutes. Add broth and a pinch of salt & pepper and bring everything to a boil. Reduce heat to a medium-low and let simmer until the vegetables are tender, around 25 minutes. 

Stir in spinach, peas and beans and cook for about 10 minutes, everything should be slightly wilted. Season to taste and add the leftover basil. Serve into soup bowls, sprinkle generous amounts of Parmesan on too, and a glug of olive oil. Enjoy!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Killer Weeknight Bolognese

One of the best parts of winter and living in sub zero temperatures is comfort food. This one is my absolute lifelong favorite dinner to make, Bolognese. My husband knows this dish of mine very intimately, and proclaimed last night that this one was the best out of all the bolognese dishes I have made. True or not, it was darn tasty. This could feed about 8, so feel free to cut the recipe in half.


2 tablespoons good olive oil
1 pound grass fed ground beef
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh Thyme
1-2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes 
1 cup beef broth
2 boxes Pomi Chopped Tomatoes (26 ounces each) or 2 cans San Marzano crushed tomatoes (28 ounces each)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
16 oz penne pasta 
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
1/4 cup heavy cream or half and half
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the ground beef, and cook with a wooden spoon until no longer pink, about 5-7 minutes. Stir in the garlic, red pepper flakes and fresh Thyme and cook for about a minute. Pour the beef broth into your pot and stir. Add the tomatoes, salt & pepper to taste, and stir until everything is nice and combined. Bring to a quick boil, and then lower the heat, simmering for about 15 minutes. 

Meanwhile, bring another large pot filled with water to a boil, add a pinch of salt, then cook the penne until al dente (follow the directions on the box.)

While the pasta is cooking, add the cream to the sauce, stir, and let thicken and simmer for 10 minutes. When the pasta is cooked, drain and pour into a large bowl, saving a half cup of the starchy water to add to the sauce if needed. Add sauce, starch water, and half the Parmesan and toss well. Serve hot, sprinkle Parmesan and the chopped basil on top. Buon Appetito! 

Saturday, January 3, 2015

January Detox Pho Soup

This will heal whatever ails you. It sure worked for us! It's been the best holiday and New Year with friends and loved ones. But after all the indulgences, boy did we need a meal like this. It's health in a bowl, and perfect for those winter blues or if you are feeling under the weather. The fresh herbs and chilis really wake up your senses. 


1 tablespoon Olive Oil or Sesame Oil
2 thumb-sized knobs of ginger root, sliced thinly (I diced them)
4 cloves smashed garlic 
1 teaspoon of Turmeric
8 cups of Beef Broth
1 teaspoon of Asian Fish Sauce
4 cups Kale, roughly chopped
6 oz dried brown rice vermicelli noodles 

Optional garnishes:
(but to me they're the heart of the bright flavor in this dish)

Fresh Cilantro, chopped
Fresh Basil, chopped
Fresh Mint, chopped 
1 cup mung bean sprouts 
1-2 ounces of thinly sliced roast beef
1 small red or green chili, sliced
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 lime for squeezing on top


Heat a large pot over medium heat, add oil, garlic, chili, ginger and turmeric. Stir continually for about 3 minutes and then add broth. Bring heat up to high and bring soup to a gentle boil. Then turn heat to medium and let simmer for about 20 minutes. Add fish sauce, Kale, and a few pinches of salt to taste. Cover Pho broth and keep at a low simmer for about five minutes. 

Meanwhile add the noodles to a medium pot of boiling water and cook according to the package directions (I always err on the al dente side.) 

Place noodles into bowls, one slice of roast beef, and then pour broth mixture over, enough to cover everything. Add a large handful of your garnish of choice (I'm not shy with the fresh herbs) and serve immediately. Here's to your health!

Friday, January 2, 2015

New Year's Day Good Luck Meal

Heirloom Snow Cap Beans slow cooked in San Marzano Tomatoes with garlic, Rosemary, Olive Oil, Kale, Parmeggiano Reggiano, and a good glug of Olive Oil on top. 

Spicy Virgin Mary's 

Purple Potatoes from the garden, roasted with Thyme, Rosemary and Fleur De Sel

New Year's Eve Dinner

I was having so much fun in the Poconos with my dear friends on New Years that much of this great dinner was not documented...! Four different flights of gorgeous single vineyard Champagnes, Kale Ceaser Salad with Mint & Jalepeno, Handmade Fettucine with White Truffles, Lobster, Flank Steak, and Roasted Butternut Squash with Walnuts...such a memorable meal, and with the best company.