January Recipe – Veggie Bean Chili with Espresso

My friend Jeff Berman is an amazing cook.  So, when I started to think about who I could consult on vegetarian, easy, healthy meals, his name came to mind first.  He generously offered me his recipe for chili.  I just made it this weekend and love the complexities of tastes.  I do have one comment… it may have been the chili powder I used, but it was HOT!  So, depending on your personal tastes, you might want to decrease the amount you put in. 


½ C     Extra Virgin Olive Oil

3          Onions, chopped

1          Large Red Bell Pepper, diced

¼ C     Instant Espresso Coffee

¼ C     Ground Cumin

¼ C     Chili Powder

¼ C     Dried Oregano

2          Large Cans of Diced Tomatoes[1]

½ C     Honey

6          Large Garlic Cloves, minced

5          Cans of Beans – a mix is nice – kidney, black, red

½ C     Water

1½ C   Dry Red Wine

¼ tsp Ground Cinnamon (optional)

1          Chipotle Chili in Adobo Sauce, minced

            Celtic Salt & Pepper to taste

Toppings (optional):

Sour Cream

Grated Cheddar Cheese


Heat oil in a large pot over medium/high heat.   Add the onions and red bell pepper and sauté 5-8 minutes, until they are softened.  Add the coffee, chili, cumin, oregano and garlic and cook for 1 minute.  Add the tomatoes and honey.  Bring to a boil, reduce to medium/low heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes.  Add the beans, water, wine, salt, pepper, cinnamon, and chipotle.  Bring to boil, reduce to medium heat and simmer uncovered for another 30 minutes; stirring as needed.  Adjust seasonings as desired.

This is best if made the day before to enhance the flavors.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream or some grated cheddar cheese.

Makes a big batch so great for a crowd or to freeze for additional meals.

[1] Muir Glen brand is organic and enamel coats their cans so the tomatoes does not give off BPA from the plastic!

December Recipe – Herbs de Provence Chicken with Baked Butternut Squash and Sautéed Chard w/ Cherries

Here is a Fast & Easy Weeknight Dinner…

Yesterday I worked all day and had a friend coming for dinner.  I wanted to make something healthy, tasty and fast.  From beginning of preparation to end of cooking this took about 50 minutes.   She loved it and asked me for the recipes. 

With everyone being so busy this time of year, I decided this would be the perfect recipe(s) for December.

Herbs de Provence Chicken:

Chicken – Use whatever pieces you prefer.  I used chicken thighs and got 6 so I would have some leftover.  If using breasts with bone in, you might need to cook them about 10-15 minutes longer.

2 T          Herbs de Provence

1              Lemon, juice only

2 T          Olive Oil

¼ C         White Wine, dry

Celtic Salt & Pepper to taste

In a baking dish, rub a bit of olive oil on the bottom so the chicken doesn’t stick.  Place chicken in dish, skin side up.  Drizzle lemon juice first then olive oil over chicken.  Put white wine in dish around chicken.  Sprinkle Herbs de Provence over chicken, then salt and pepper.  Set aside.

Baked Butternut Squash:

½             Small Butternut Squash, peeled and cut into 1” size pieces

1 T          Butter, melted

1 T          Olive Oil

1 clove  Garlic, minced

Celtic Salt & Pepper to taste

Place squash in a square baking dish.  Add all the remaining ingredients and stir to coat.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place the squash in the oven and start baking.  After 10 minutes, place the chicken in the oven next to the squash.  Continue baking for 35 minutes.  Turn broiler on and broil for about 5-8 minutes until both squash and chicken are beginning to brown on top.  Remove from oven and serve.

Sautéed Chard w/ Cherries:

1 T          Butter

1+ tsp    Olive Oil

2 med   Shallots, minced

2 clove  Garlic, minced

½ tsp     Celtic Salt

2 T          Sherry, see kitchen list for my preference

½             Red Bell Pepper, cut into ½” pieces

1              Bunch of Swiss Chard, ribs removed and chopped coarsely  (I prefer rainbow)

¼ C         Tart Dried Cherries

1-2 T      Water


While the squash and chicken are cooking, you can prepare the vegetables.  In a medium sauté pan, heat the butter and olive oil.  Add the shallots and garlic and sauté on medium heat for 5 minutes or until they start to soften.  Add the bell pepper, salt, and sherry and reduce heat to med/low.  Continue to sauté until the squash and chicken are almost done.  (This will make the bell pepper really sweet!)  Note:  If the pan is starting to become dry, add a bit of water and turn heat to low.  A few minutes after you have put the oven on broil (for the squash and chicken) increase the heat on the pan to medium and add the cherries, water and chard.  Cover and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Watch to make sure the chard doesn’t over cook!  You want it to be a nice vibrant green when done.  Serve.

The whole meal serves 2

November Recipe – Pumpkin Porter Soup

For this month’s recipe, I decided to enter the Royal Foodie Joust competition.  They stipulate that you need to create a recipe to include three ingredients – pumpkin, porter or stout beer, and sugar!  Well, I happened to have just purchased an organic pumpkin from Jay Hill Farms, had a couple of bottles of Breckenridge Brewery Vanilla Porter in the fridge, and had sugar on hand.  Given that, I just couldn’t resist trying.

Since this is a competition, and if you like the soup, I would appreciate you casting your vote for my soup!  You can go to the Royal Food Joust.  I believe if you go to this link:   http://www.leftoverqueen.com/forum/index.php/board,5.0.html  to vote for me… thanks!!!

Hope you enjoy this fall soup!

Pumpkin Porter Soup


3 qts      Chicken broth

1              Pumpkin, medium, cut into 1 ½ “ pieces

3              Cloves Garlic, whole, skins removed

3 T          Butter or ½ olive oil / ½ butter

1              Sweet Onion, chopped

2 tsp      Celtic Salt

2              Yellow Bell Peppers, chopped

12 oz      Vanilla Porter Beer (I like Breckenridge Brewery)

1 tsp      Sugar

1 ½ tsp  Aleppo Red Pepper flakes[1]

 1 tsp     Smoked Spanish Hot Paprika[2]

¾ C         Crème Fraiche


Additional Aleppo flakes

Grated Parmesan Reggiano


In a 5 quart pot, bring to boil the chicken broth, pumpkin and garlic.  Cook until the pumpkin is tender, about 15 minutes.  Once tender, puree all in food processor or blender and return to pot.

Meanwhile in a medium sauté pan, melt butter.  Add onion, 1 tsp salt, and yellow bell peppers.  Sauté over medium heat until the onions and peppers are soft, about 20 minutes.  Place all above ingredients in a food processor or blender.  Blend until smooth.  Add to pumpkin/chicken broth pot.

Stir in beer, sugar, Aleppo flakes, paprika and crème fraiche.  Bring to boil then reduce heat to simmer.  Simmer for 5-10 minutes.  Serve in bowls.  Top with additional Aleppo and parmesan.

Serves 6 people, first course

[1] You can use regular pepper flakes but might need to decrease amount as they are hotter.  I get mine through Savory Spice Shop.

[2] Can use regular paprika or this is also available at Savory.

October Recipe – Tandoori Chicken with Mixed Vegetables

Tandoori - Cumin, coriander, paprika, tumreic, garlic, chiles, ginger, charmushka, cardamom and more!

This one-dish meal is fast and easy and offers those fantastic tandoori flavors so famous to India.  This dish serves 2 however will be a great leftover.  If you double the recipe to save some, remove ½ at about 10 minutes into the final cooking period.  This way when you reheat the vegetables will not be overcooked.


7oz         Greek Yogurt

1 tsp      Crème Fraiche

1 ½ T      Tandoori seasoning mix[1]

1 T          Lemon Juice

¾ Lb       Chicken boneless skinless breast, cut into 1 ½“ pieces

1 T          Butter

1-2 T      Olive Oil

2-3 lg     Garlic cloves, minced

1 lg         Sweet Onion, chopped

1 lg         Tomato, chopped into fairly small pieces

1              Red Bell Pepper, chopped in ¾” pieces

1              Carrot, thinly sliced

1              Zucchini, cut lengthwise in quarters and then chopped across into ½” pieces

1              Crooked Neck Squash, cut lengthwise in half and then chopped across into ½” pieces

½ C         Chicken Broth

½ C         Raw Cashew pieces, toasted

Celtic Salt & Pepper to taste


Mix first 4 ingredients in bowl.  Mix in chicken and let marinate for 3-4 hours or overnight in refrigerator.


Heat a medium or large skillet to medium heat.  Add olive oil, butter, garlic, and onion to skillet.  Sauté for a few minutes until onion is starting to become translucent.  Stir in tomatoes and cook for a minute or so.  Then add bell pepper, carrot, zucchini, crooked neck squash and chicken broth.  Bring to boil.  Add chicken with marinade and mix thoroughly.  Allow it to come to boil, cover and reduce heat to med/low.  Simmer for 15 minutes or until vegetables and chicken are cooked but not overdone.  S&P to taste.  Serve with toasted cashews on top.

Serves 2


[1] You can make your own or go to Savory Spice Shop  and they can mail it to you.  Note on their website the ingredients, in case you want to do it yourself.

September Recipe – Arugula & Chicken Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette

This is a great meal in itself.  Also, the beauty of this salad is that you can make it even easier by using leftover chicken from another meal.  Just in case you don’t have any on hand, this recipe includes a great, easy way to bake chicken.

From my garden!
From my garden!


Arugula, Goat Cheese & Pine Nuts... Yum!
Arugula, Goat Cheese & Pine Nuts... Yum!










1 whole chicken, cut in half lengthwise and backbone removed (I get the butcher at Whole Foods to do this for me.)

2-3 T      Olive oil

Coarse Celtic Salt & Fresh Ground Pepper

For salad:

1 lg         Arugula bunch

1              Watercress bunch

3-4oz     Goat Cheese, plain

1/3 C      Pine Nuts, toasted

10           Fresh Raspberries

For Dressing:

1/3 C      Olive Oil, get a nice mild one

1 med   Shallot, finely minced

3 T          Champagne Vinaigrette

1+ C       Fresh Raspberries

1 tsp      Honey

Preparation of chicken:

Heat oven to 450 degrees.  Sprinkle chicken halves generously with celtic salt and pepper.  Heat large, oven proof skillet on med high.  Add olive oil.  Place chicken halves in skillet, skin side down.  Cook until skin is brown, approximately 5 minutes.  Leaving chicken as is, place entire skillet in oven.  Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until chicken is just about falling off the bone.  Remove from oven and place chicken on cutting board.  Cover with foil and let stand for 10 minutes before cutting.

Preparation for salad dressing:

Place olive oil, shallot, vinegar, honey and raspberries in blender.  Blend until smooth.  Depending on size of the raspberries, add more if needed.  Salt and pepper to taste.

Place arugula and watercress in bowl.  Toss with vinaigrette.  Place slices of chicken on top of salad.  Top with crumbled goat cheese and pine nuts.  Arrange extra raspberries over top.

Note:  The salad dressing can keep in the refrigerator for several days so you can make it ahead or keep the extra for another salad.

Serves 2

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Fantastic Topping for Chicken, Veggies or Eggs!

Mushroom & Onion Saute
Mushroom & Onion Saute

Here is another idea for putting on top of those fluffy scrambled eggs.  You could also put this on top of  grilled vegetables or baked chicken to add delicious flavor and more nutrients.


1 TBSP       Butter

½                 Purple Onion, chopped

¼ lb            Mushrooms, chopped (I used trumpets as they have a nice thick texture.)

¼ C             White Wine

1 TBSP       Sun Dried Tomato Pesto

1.5              Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce, chopped fine

2 tsp          Crème Fraiche or Greek Style Yogurt

½ bunch   Cilantro, chopped

2 oz            Feta Cheese, crumbled

½                 Avocado, sliced

Salt & Pepper to taste


Melt butter in medium skillet over medium heat.  Add onion and mushrooms and sauté for 2 minutes.  Add white wine, pesto, chipotle pepper and crème fraiche.  Continue to sauté until the vegetables are cooked, approximately 4 more minutes.  Just before serving stir in the cilantro.  Sprinkle the feta on top of the eggs, chicken or grilled vegetables.  Top with this mixture.  Finish with the avocado slices nicely presented on top.

Serves 2

Cooking for Health, Nourishment, Relaxation and Connection. Why I Love to Cook!

Quote from the New York Times Magazine, August 2, 2009:

“The more time a nation devotes to food preparation at home, the lower its rate of obesity.  In fact, the amount of time spent cooking predicts obesity rates more reliably than female participation in the labor force or income.”

Why I love to cook!

I love the creativity of it all.  I get to think – but not too hard – what I could make that is delicious, pretty easy, will impress my friends and family and be healthy. 

I grew up with 2 working parents and although Mom prided herself in making home cooked (sort of) meals, they weren’t always that tasty and mostly had one spice ingredient – Lawry’s salt.  Now I have to give her credit for her efforts but she wasn’t my inspiration.  I ended up being friends with my sisters’ best friend.  I was 16 and she was 21.  Her name was Louise and she was a great cook.  In looking back, I can still hear my Mom say, ‘when did you learn to eat that?’  The ‘that’ included (now) staples like garlic, onion, spices, herbs, and so forth.  All I could ever tell Mom was ‘Louise taught me!’

From there I got into health food – that tasteless, no salt, old dried out herbs kind of food.  I stopped using salt, stopped cooking in aluminum pans, and stopped storing in plastic in the ‘80’s.  Now most of this thought pattern has continued but I have to say I sure have learned how to make food tasty!  At that time I was quite proud of what I cooked but anyone who ate it suffered!  I didn’t know this until about 6 years ago when I made a meal for my sister.  She wasn’t feeling well and laid down for a nap.  Upon awakening she came into the kitchen to see what smelled so good.  (You see she, my brother and I were together, just the 3 of us, for the first time in 18 years!)  I can still hear her remark about those bad meals she and her family had to eat when I cooked for them all those years ago.  I had no idea!

Well, she opened the oven and exclaimed, ‘oh, a whole chicken!’  I kind of looked at her and said, ‘yea, so?’  To think that she was a stay at home mom turned stay at home grandmother and yet she hadn’t cooked a whole chicken in years.  Instead she had the illusion that cooking whole things like a chicken was time consuming and difficult.  The result was that she mostly cooked things like potatoes from a box, reheated a ham, vegetables from a can or frozen package.  Things like that.  On the other hand, I have been working full time and managing a house for 26 years (at that time).  Obviously we had taken different paths on our lives.

Fast forward to today, 6+ years later and I have grown into a better, more self-confident cook.  But let’s not go there just yet…

The true credit for my initial cooking ability came from my friends Jan and Jeff.  I met them in the late ‘80’s when I was working for them in Hawaii.  We became fast friends and I had the pleasure (both socially and gastronomically) of sharing many meals with them.  They both cooked and did so mostly together.  It was, along with a martini, a social event; a place where they would come together after a long days work to catch up, share their day.  This was an experience completely new to me and I loved it.  It opened my eyes to not only cooking but a wonderful way of engaging.  I was hooked and, although single, wanted it to be a part of my life.  I truly enjoyed the connection and delicious rewards that came with the experience.

I left Hawaii in 1990 to move to Colorado and pursue a new career – one as a massage therapist.  Among the many things I brought with me was that fantastic, mouth watering joy of cooking great food and sharing it with friends.

I have continued to do so and have added a great dimension – a partner – a man that is vastly interested in the senses, including taste, and is appreciative of my cooking.  It has enabled me to be more creative (and less neurotic about precise measurements in recipes) and more risk taking.  I put together dishes based on nothing more than an idea and what I have available.  The results?  Mostly I end up with really yummy dishes.  Do I still read and try recipes?  You bet!  They give me inspiration to be more creative.

Why I’m telling you all this is because of a concern for where our society is heading.  I am reading more and more about junk food, fast food, pre-packaged food all dominating what we put in our mouths.  Pre-packaged food started in the ‘50’s.  It was marketed as the ‘new way’.  The unfortunate thing is along with it has come a tremendous increase in obesity (fact) and a decrease in communication and relaxing with each other while eating, in my opinion.

The obesity stems from foods that are low in nutrition and high in (bad) fats, sugar, and salt.  These are all ingredients that, in big enough quantities, can mask the disgusting taste of the other cheap denatured ingredients.  It is a sin!  What has made us rise above other animals is our ability to prepare and cook foods, our ability to plan, store, and create meals that enable us to spend time being together (and working) rather than grazing or hunting our time away.  It has provided us the luxury of sitting down, eating and connecting with fellow human beings.

Now I realize people will argue that we still do this while inhaling a meal together at McDonalds but is it really the same?  I think not.  Not only are we missing out on the nutrients but the care, love and pride that goes into a homemade meal.  We are feeding our guts but are we really nourishing any part of our selves?  As for the ‘I don’t have time’ concept, I don’t buy it.  I continue to work full time and manage a house yet I also cook about 80%-90% of the meals.  And they are meals that are healthy, focused on local growers, very nutritious, easy to make and delicious.  This is not to say I don’t enjoy going out to eat but it makes it a special occasion and it allows me to afford to go somewhere that is healthy.

My goal is to introduce you… entice you… encourage you… and to offer you meals that will take you down this fun rewarding path.  Oh and there are some side benefits – you will feel physically better, have more energy, possibly lose weight (if you need to), and save money!  Now what can beat that?

Try out the recipes on my website.  Meanwhile I am putting together an eBook titled 30 Meals 30 Days that will offer you a variety of dinners so you won’t have to plan a thing.  There will be a list of ingredients to keep on hand in your kitchen, a weekly shopping list, and short videos to show you just how easy healthy cooking can be! 

Check back regularly for the launch of the eBook or sign up for our mailing list (no I will not give your name to anyone!).  If you choose to sign up, I will let you know when it is available.  Meanwhile, eat healthy and share good food and great conversation with your friends and family!