Roasted Fall Vegetables and Lentil Salad


Recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart

We were planning on having this dish for dinner so I decided to modify the recipe and add a few starchy root vegetables so that it would be more filling.  The grocery store only carried regular brown lentils and although I had to make a special trip to a health food store to find them, the French green lentils were not expensive, and they tasted so good that they justified the trip.  They were peppery and nutty, and they cooked up tender, yet firm.

There were so many wonderful flavors and textures in this dish and the picture does not do them justice because so many of the veggies are hidden.  I highly recommend that you include parsnips and rutabaga in the mix when you make this.  Parsnips provide a little zing to the mix, and rutabagas have a sweet flavor.  After plating the veggies and lentils, I sprinkled on some shaved parmesan to put the whole thing over the top.  Enjoy!



4 carrots; sliced lengthwise into 3 pieces each

1 yam; peeled and cut into 1/2  inch slices

1 small acorn squash; halved, seeded, cut into 1/2 inch slices

1 rutabaga; peeled, halved, and cut into 1/2 inch slices

2 turnips; peeled, cut into 1/2 inch slices

2 parsnips; peeled, sliced into thirds lengthwise

1 onion; cut into 1/2 inch slices (reserve 1 whole slice to cook with the lentils)

3 stalks celery; cut in half lengthwise, and then into thirds, reserve leaves for garnish

3-4 Tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper

1 cup dry French green lentils

reserved slice of onion

juice of two lemons (about 5 Tablespoons)

1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard

olive oil (equal to the amount of lemon juice)



2 cloves fresh garlic, minced

shaved parmesan for garnish



1. The vegetables need room to roast, mine were very crowded and did a lot of steaming at first instead of roasting.  Preheat the oven to 425°F.  Place chopped vegetables on cookie sheet(s).  Drizzle  3-4 Tablespoons olive oil over the vegetables, then sprinkle coarse salt over all.


2. Bring pot of water to a boil.  Rinse lentils and pick over them looking for debris, sticks, etc.; drain.

3. Place vegetables in oven and roast for 30 minutes, rotating cookie sheets between the two racks halfway through the roasting time (because of the overcrowding, I had to add 15 minutes to the roasting time).


4. While veggies are roasting, add lentils and slice of onion to the boiling water.  Do not salt the water.  Bring pot back to a boil, and then lower the temperature and simmer the lentils for 20 minutes.


5. While lentils are cooking, make the vinaigrette;  Mix lemon juice (or apple cider vinegar) and Dijon mustard with a whisk.  Add olive oil, fresh garlic and salt and pepper.

6. Drain lentils.  Pour vinaigrette over the lentils.  Cover and set aside to keep warm.

7. Remove veggies from oven.  Pile roasted veggies on plate, spoon lentils over the top, and garnish with shaved parmesan.Roasted-Fall-Vegetable-and-Lentil-Salad-salad

Pittsburgh Steelers Mac-n-Cheese


Pittsburgh Kielbasa and Bacon Braised Cabbage Mac-n-Cheese

Adapted from a recipe by Chef Christopher Bonfili of Avenue B

5501 Centre Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15232

Continuing with the football theme, this is the recipe that I make for Danielle’s team.  The first time I made this it was such a hit with everyone.  Even though there is a lot of work involved, this recipe makes a ton, and I even cut the original recipe in half.  You will have leftovers for lunch or dinner the next day, and believe me, it gets even better after it sits.

The list of ingredients is long and diverse, and you may look at it and be discouraged or think that some of those things do not go together.  Stick with the plan and you will be pleasantly surprised.  You will need a large skillet, a casserole dish, a pot, several bowls and three hours to soak your cabbage before you can even start cooking this dish, but it is so worth it.  Avenue B’s Chef Bonfili came up with this recipe, which is a nod to the Polish heritage of Pittsburgh.  As you take a bite, you are bombarded with so many different flavors.  It is Polish comfort food at its best.  Enjoy!



1/2 head green cabbage

1 pound elbow macaroni

6 strips bacon, chopped

1/2 large Spanish onion, diced

1/4 cup white wine vinegar

1 1/2 teaspoons sugar

1 pound Kielbasa, sliced into 1/4 inch slices

1 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup Monterey Jack cheese, shredded

1/2 cup Sharp Cheddar, shredded

1/8 cup Tabasco (If you don’t like spicy food, this is a lot of Tabasco.  Tone it down a little if you must, but don’t remove it totally.)

1 1/2 teaspoon honey

salt and pepper


1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs

1/4 cup Italian flat leaf parsley, snipped

3 green onions, sliced



1. Dice cabbage and soak in cold water for 3 hours.


2. Preheat oven to 350°F .

3. Cook elbow macaroni until al dente, drain.

4. Spray a large skillet with Pam and saute sliced Kielbasa until the edges are blistered.  Remove Kielbasa.


5. Cook bacon in the large skillet til done, remove bacon but leave the fat in the skillet.

6. Saute onions in the bacon fat until they are translucent.  Drain the cabbage and add it to the skillet.  Stir.


7. Mix together the vinegar and sugar.  Add the mixture to the skillet, stir,  and reduce the heat.  Cover the skillet and cook on low until the cabbage is tender.


8. In a large bowl, combine the pasta, Kielbasa, bacon, braised cabbage, cream, cheeses, tabasco and honey.  Stir until thoroughly mixed.  Season with salt and pepper and mix again.

9. Spray a large casserole dish with Pam and transfer the mixture into it.  Cover the dish with foil and bake @ 350 degrees for 30 minutes.


10. Mix Panko breadcrumbs, chopped parsley, and green onions together in a small bowl.

11. Remove foil from pan after 30 minutes and sprinkle Panko mixture over top of casserole.  Bake uncovered until golden brown, about 10-15 minutes.


Swiss Chard

Swiss chard-on plate

Recipe courtesy of Simply

Swiss Chard is one of the vegetables we grew this summer, and for the last few weeks we have harvested the small, tender leaves to put in our salads.  I’ve heard that when Swiss Chard is matured that it is bitter-tasting.  The stem did have a bitter taste to me, but the thick, velvety leaves were not bitter at all.  Because of that, I prepared them like I would prepare kale; I washed each leaf, then I folded the leaf in half and removed the stem as far up the leaf as possible.

Swiss chard-in the garden

Swiss chard in the garden bed

I used 12 leaves when I made this recipe tonight, and I probably could easily have used three times as many Swiss chard leaves because the amount of shrinkage was incredible.  Also, the recipe says to cook the Swiss chard for five minutes, flip the greens, then cook for five more minutes.  I found that amount of time to be excessive (maybe because I only used 12 leaves), and I will probably only cook them for five minutes total when I make them again.  They had a wonderful flavor thanks to the garlic, and a nice bite thanks to the red pepper flakes.  To me, Swiss chard tastes a lot like spinach, and it cooks up like spinach, too.  I’m looking forward to eating this again soon.  Enjoy!



1 large bunch Swiss Chard

1 clove garlic, sliced

2 Tablespoons olive oil

2 Tablespoons water

crushed red pepper flakes

1 teaspoon butter


Swiss chard-whole leaves


1. Rinse the Swiss chard leaves thoroughly, pat dry with a paper towel.  Fold the leaves in half and remove the stalk.  Roughly chop the leaves into inch-wide strips.

Swiss chard-chopped leaves

2. Heat a saucepan on a medium heat setting, add olive oil, a few small slices of garlic and the crushed red pepper. Sauté for about a minute.

Swiss chard-oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes

3. Add the chopped Swiss chard leaves. Cover. Check after about 5 minutes. If it looks dry, add a couple tablespoons of water.

Swiss chard-chopped leaves in pan

4. Flip the leaves over in the pan, so that what was on the bottom, is now on the top. Cover again. Check for doneness after another 5 minutes (remove a piece and taste it).

5. Add salt to taste, and a small amount of butter. Remove the Swiss chard to a serving dish.

Countdown to Football Season


Back, Back, Back, Back Ribs by Chris Berman and Texas Caviar by Gale Sayers

Adapted from The NFL Family Cookbook, published by SMITHMARK Publishers, New York, NY

Well it is finally here, that time of year that all of us sports fans live for, football season.  College football kicks off next week, and the NFL kicks off the week after that.  Whether you are tailgating, watching a game with friends, or screaming at the tv with 100 other patrons in a sports bar, one thing is for sure…there will be food.


If you are planning a football party, know this; there must be food before the game, snacks for during the game, something special brought out at half time, and a little dessert to nibble on throughout the day.  I always try to make as much food ahead of time as possible and have Mark operate the grill so that I’m free to watch all the pre-game stuff, and visit with the guests.


Two of the following recipes come from The NFL Family Cookbook.  The first recipe is Back, Back, Back, Back Ribs from Chris Berman, the humorous ESPN sportscaster who is so well-known for giving the players funny nicknames in his broadcasts.  The second recipe is Texas Caviar from the legendary NFL Hall of Fame Running Back, Gale Sayers.


Ribs and Brats, along with the Pasta Salad are great for eating before the game.  Texas Caviar with tortilla chips can be munched on all during the game, along with a veggie tray that includes your favorite dip.  Make some Chili in a crock pot and have all the fixin’s (shredded cheese, chopped onion, crackers, macaroni, etc.) ready before the game starts, then at halftime you can serve a great Chili Bar with very little effort.  Peanut Butter Cookies and Buckeyes are yummy at any time and will be gone before you know it, so make extras.  Here’s hoping your team has a great season…and Go Bucs!  Enjoy!


Football Party Menu

  • Ribs
  • Brats
  • Pasta Salad
  • Halftime Chili Bar
  • Texas Caviar
  • Veggie Tray
  • Peanut Butter Cookies
  • Buckeyes



Baby Back Ribs Ingredients

6 pounds baby back pork ribs (each rack is about 3 pounds)

32 oz. ketchup

1/3 onion, finely chopped

1/4 cup brown sugar

3 Tablespoons lemon juice

3 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

1 Tablespoon Liquid Smoke

1 Tablespoon Louisiana pepper sauce



1. Set up your gas grill for indirect cooking with the setting on low.  Cook the racks of ribs for about 2 1/2 hours.

2. After 1 1/2 hours prepare the BBQ sauce. Bring the sauce to a low boil and then simmer for about 1 hour.


3.  Brush the BBQ sauce on the ribs and cook over a medium, direct heat for about 5 minutes. Flip the ribs, brush on some more BBQ sauce, and cook on the other side over the direct heat for about 5 minutes or until the ribs are browned to your liking.  Keep basting the ribs with sauce and move them to the back of the grill ( indirect) if necessary to allow the sauce to cook in to the ribs.



Texas Caviar Ingredients

2-14 oz. cans black-eyed peas, drained

1 -15 oz. can white hominy, drained

2 medium tomatoes, chopped

4 green onions, chopped

2 large cloves garlic, minced

1/2 large green bell pepper, seeded and chopped

2 jalapeno peppers, finely chopped (I used the tame jalapenos)

1/2 cup onion, chopped

1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped or snipped (cilantro would work well in this recipe, too)

1 8 oz. bottle Italian dressing



1. In a large bowl, combine the black-eyed peas and hominy.


2. Add the tomatoes, green onions, and garlic.  Mix well.

3. Add the green pepper and jalapeno peppers, onion and parsley (or cilantro).  Toss well.


4. Pour the salad dressing over the vegetables and toss gently to coat well.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.


5. Drain, and serve with tortilla chips.



Recipe courtesy of the Commissary Deli at RAF Chicksands AB, England

Back in the early 90’s, while we were stationed at RAF Chicksands AB, England, I happened to be at the commissary deli counter one day when someone was picking up a party tray.  Unlike the usual party tray of folded meat and sliced yellow and white American cheese, this one was different.  It was so colorful and eye-catching, lying on a bed of curly lettuce.

I had never heard of a wrap before, and after seeing how pretty they looked, I was hooked; I had to know how to make one.  So I snagged a pen from my purse and spent the next ten minutes picking the brain of the girl working at the deli counter.  When I left the commissary that day I had all the ingredients necessary to make these wraps, and a sketched diagram of the placement of each element.

Tortillas come in lots of flavors and you can put nearly anything in a wrap.  Substitute leftover chicken, pork, or beef and the veggies of your choice for a quick weekday dinner.  You may even decide to have a warm wrap and fillings instead of a cold one.  If so, just place the tortillas on a plate, cover with a damp paper towel, and nuke for 30-45 seconds before filling them.

All these years later and we almost always have the ham and turkey wraps because they are still our favorite.  Every time I make them I have to make extras because Mark wants them for lunch the next day.  These wraps are wonderful party fare because all the work can be done the day before.  They are also great for after-school snacks or served during halftime of a football game.  However, they are especially nice served with fresh berries or peaches on a lazy summer day.  Enjoy!



1 package large tortillas (I used sun-dried tomato flavored)

1 8 oz. brick cream cheese, softened

dried chives or Italian seasoning (to flavor the cream cheese)

1/2 pound sliced cheese of choice

1-2 pounds meat of choice (if using deli meats, have them shaved as they look better in a wrap and you can stretch them further)

about 10 baby carrots, sliced thin, longways

3 green onions, chopped

1 head iceberg lettuce



1. Prepare the veggies and have all your ingredients layed out in front of you.  It is best if you work on one wrap at a time.  Mix the cream cheese and herbs of choice.


2. Spread a thin layer of the cream cheese mixture over the entire tortilla.


3. Referring to the picture, place the sliced cheese on one side only of the tortilla about 1/4 of the way around.  Cut the cheese in half if necessary.


4. Place about 2 good handfuls of meat on top of the cheese.


5. Place carrot slices down the length of the meat.  Sprinkle chopped green onions over the meat.


6. Place a thick layer of iceberg lettuce on top of everything.


7. Tightly roll up the tortilla.  Slice the wrap into sections.  Serve cut-side up.


After-School Snacks


Hungry kids will grab the first thing they see when they walk in the front door.  No matter if your student is a cute little 8 year-old, or a full-grown 20 year-old, when classes are over they always seem to be starving.  To keep them from gravitating towards that bag of chips or box of cookies, it is important to have better snacks on hand.


There is a multi-million dollar industry that produces convenience foods aimed towards kids.  Most of them are loaded with sugar and salt, but they are convenient…and cute, have nice packaging, and look fun to eat.  Usually though, the best after-school snacks are the most basic; fruit, veggies, dairy, grains and a little protein.


Most fruits can be grabbed right out of the bowl or fridge and devoured as is.  You can also prep fruits and veggies; if the fruit has to be cut ahead of time, it can be soaked in a bowl of water with either lemon juice or Fruit Fresh to keep the fruit from turning brown (it works wonders on apples, pears, bananas, peaches, etc.) then drained and placed in the fridge.  Veggies can be sliced and diced ahead of time and placed in the fridge with a few ice cubes.


Yogurt, cheese, and milk are all easy snacks as well.  And who says that cereal is only for breakfast?  Granola is great eaten by the handful, in a bowl with milk, or as a parfait with yogurt.  Crackers and cheese, sandwiches, and wraps are also filling and satisfying.  Pepperidge Farm has a bread called Deli Flats and I like to use the honey wheat variety for peanut butter sandwiches.


Figuring that dinner will follow a few hours after snack time, I tried to keep these snacks small, quick and easy.  You can use cookie cutters for an interesting twist, ranch dip or peanut butter to dress up celery and carrots, and small sticks to make fruit kebabs.  The cookie cutters and kebab sticks are not necessary, but they do make food fun.  Challenge your kids to come up with some fun and healthy snacks and they will be more willing to eat them.  Enjoy



1. Cucumber hair, black seedless grape eyes

carrot nose and a big ranch dressing smile (make a slit in each cucumber ring so that you can easily link them)


2. Ritz crackers, co-jack and mozzarella cheese cut-outs

celery with peanut butter and cherry tomatoes


3. Pepperidge Farm Deli Flats with peanut butter

apple, banana, and black seedless grape kebabs


4. Cucumber flowers, baby carrot slices, Keebler Toasteds crackers

mozzarella cheese chunks and cherry tomato halves.

Cauliflower Steaks with Roasted Red Pepper Salad


recipe adapted from Cauliflower Steaks with Roasted Pepper and Tomato Salad

courtesy of The Martha Stewart Show

When I was stationed in Greece (30 years ago), I would shop for vegetables at the fresh-air market.  I would always return with at least 2 kilos of pistachios, and a head of cauliflower the size of a small watermelon.  My roommate Sherri, loved fried cauliflower and I used to make it for her as a treat.

When I saw this recipe being made on the Martha Stewart Show, it reminded me of Greece and how great that fried cauliflower tasted.  This version is cooked in olive oil and garlic, and has a wonderful roasted pepper and tomato salad to accompany it.  Enjoy!


1 large head cauliflower, trimmed
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes
coarse salt and ground pepper
2 large bell peppers
1 Tablespoon red-wine vinegar
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
3 cloves garlic, minced
couscous or brown rice (optional)




1. Preheat oven to 375°F.  Place cauliflower, stem side down, on a cutting board.  Working from the center of the head, cut 4 nice 3/4 inch “steaks” and set aside.  Trim remaining cauliflower into florets. ( After I cut 2 steaks, the head completely collapsed on me and I was left with a lot of florets.)


2. Toss florets with about 1 teaspoon oil and spread on one end of a baking sheet.  Season with salt and pepper.  Toss tomatoes with about 1 teaspoon oil and spread out on the other end of the baking sheet.  Season with salt and pepper.  Roast until the florets are softened and browned in spots, and some of the tomatoes have collapsed, about 25 minutes.  Remove florets and tomatoes and place them in a large bowl.  Reduce oven temperature to 300°F.


3. Meanwhile, roast bell peppers over a high gas flame or under the broiler, turning frequently with tongs, until charred on all sides, about 10 minutes.  Transfer to a medium bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and allow to steam for 10 minutes (As you can see, I made a huge mess with this.  Next time I’ll use the broiler).


4.  Rub peppers with a paper towel to remove their skins.  Stem, seed, and coarsely chop the peppers (the pepper on the right has not had the skin rubbed off yet).


5. Add chopped peppers to the bowl with the cauliflower florets and the tomatoes.  Stir in 1 teaspoon oil, vinegar, and parsley.  Season with salt and pepper.



6. In a large skillet, heat 1 Tablespoon oil over medium-high heat.  Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add 2 cauliflower steaks, cover, and cook until underside is golden brown, about 5 minutes.  Flip cauliflower, season with salt and pepper and cover.  Cook until tender, about 10 minutes.  Transfer cooked cauliflower to a baking pan, loosely tent with foil, and keep warm in the oven.  Repeat the process with the other 2 cauliflower steaks.  To serve;  Cauliflower steaks can be placed on a bed of brown rice or couscous.  Top cauliflower steaks with roasted pepper and tomato salad.  I served mine with corned beef.