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

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.

The Soup


Recipe courtesy of Dairy Hollow House Soup and Bread by Crescent Dragonwagon

Published by Workman Publishing Company, New York, NY

Talk about daunting…in the book, this recipe is about 10 pages long with all its lists and variations, and is really more a formula than a recipe.  I had to read it a few times to really get the hang of it, but it forever changed my soup-making process.  After using this recipe a few times I began to see the genius of Crescent Dragonwagon (I love that name).  Her style of soup-making has you layering in the flavors.  I have since gone on to use her tricks in all my cooking and baking. 

This recipe uses lists; lists of liquids, lists of aromatics, lists of vegetables, lists of proteins, and lists of carbohydrates.  There are many variations on the basic recipe, too.  Although the soup making process is similar for all the variations, you can make hundreds of different soups by changing up the items you select from the different lists.  Because of the flexibility of this formula, I suggest that you keep a pen and paper in the kitchen to write down which items you picked, so that you can duplicate your masterpiece later.  I’ve included all the lists here and The Soup recipe is at the bottom.  Just read through and choose from the lists.  The Soup is a nice basic variation, but it is one variation out of ten.  Get your hands on this book and try some of the other variations; Quick and Wonderful Garlicky, Simple with Browned Onions, French Style, Russian Style, Italian Style, etc., you won’t be disappointed.  Enjoy!




10-12 cups liquid of choice, broken down as follows:

8-10 cups brothy liquid ( defatted chicken stock, vegetable stock, leftover cooking liquid from beans, water and bouillon cubes )

2 cups tomatoey liquid or puree ( v-8, Picante v-8, tomato juice, spicy tomato juice, fresh or canned diced tomatoes, canned whole tomatoes in juice that have been buzzed to a chunky puree in the food processor)

1-2 cups red or white wine (optional)

Seasonings and Aromatics:

2 to 10 cloves garlic, minced

1 to 3 large onions, diced (or substitute 1-2 cups diced shallots or scallions, or 1-2 leeks that have been trimmed, split open lengthwise and well washed)

1 Tablespoon savory seasoning (Worcestshire Sauce, Pickapeppa, Tamari/Shoya sauce)

1/2 to 2 teaspoons favorite hot sauce (Tabasco, Frank’s, Louisiana, Crystal, Cajun Sunshine)

Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste


4 to 6 cups fresh and/or frozen vegetables chosen from a combination of any of the following:


green beans, stems and tails removed, sliced crosswise into 1/4 inch slices

zucchini or yellow squash, split lengthwise into quarters, then into 1/4 inch thick slices

celery ribs, diced

green or savoy cabbage, cored and shredded

greens, well washed, tough ribs removed ( tender spinach leaves should be cut into ribbons and put in the pot during the last three minutes)

carrots, split lengthwise into quarters, sliced about 1/4 inch thick

butternut squash, peeled, seeded, cut into 1/4 inch dice


1 to 2 bags, 16 oz. each of frozen mixed vegetables (free of sauce, butter, and starchy vegetables like corn and potatoes)


white rice, cooked

brown rice, cooked

grains, (barley, couscous, kasha) cooked

pasta, cooked

potato, cooked and diced

corn, fresh or frozen, cooked


eggs, hard-cooked and diced

chicken, cooked and diced

fish, cooked and flaked

pork or beef, fat removed, cooked and cut into chunks

hard or semi-soft cheese, grated

beans, cooked

tofu, firm, cubed

yogurt, cottage cheese, ricotta cheese



1. In a large soup pot, bring to a boil your brothy liquid of choice plus a choice of tomatoes and/or juice.


2. Add your choices from the seasonings and aromatics list.

3. Assemble whatever fresh and/or frozen vegetables you wish.  If using fresh, sliced green beans, give them a 5 to 10 minute head start on the rest of the vegetables.  Add any frozen vegetables to the pot and bring the soup back to a boil.  Then add the fresh vegetables, unless they are very tender(such as spinach leaves), and bring the soup back to a boil again.


4. Turn down the heat and simmer, partially covered until the vegetables are tender, 25 to 30 minutes, adding in spinach in the last 3 minutes.


5. To serve, place Carbohydrate and Protein of choice in soup bowl and ladle soup in on top of it.  The addition of carbs and protein are completely optional, but nice.


Late Summer Garden Harvest

Garden Harvest-Late Summer Veggies

cherry tomatoes, green onions, iceberg lettuce, Swiss chard, garlic onions, Butter lettuce, Early Girl tomato, green pepper, French breakfast radishes, Cherry Belle radishes, and jalapenos.

Today’s harvest made for a couple of very fine salads, some goodies for later, and some jalapenos for the freezer.

Garden Harvest-Late Summer Herbs

oregano, basil, purple basil, sage, Italian parsley

I also snipped some herbs to dry.  I prefer to use fresh herbs whenever possible, and I have been doing that all summer, but now I must start prepping for the winter.  I have been freezing herbs in batches all summer, but I also like to use dried herbs.  I make my own bread crumbs and season them with dried herbs, also dried herbs are delicious baked in breads, and sprinkled on casseroles.  As always, just click on the photos to enlarge them.  Enjoy!

7 Layer Dip


Recipe courtesy of Joyce Levesque

This recipe comes from my Mother-in-law, Joyce, and is one of our family’s favorite appetizers, it makes an appearance at all of our sports celebrations and most BBQ’s.  This dip could not be simpler to make, but you do need to start it several hours in advance.  I always make it the night before the event, so that the cream cheese-sour cream-salsa layer has time to firm up before I add the chopped accoutrements.

It is a colorful and tasty addition to the buffet table.  Recently I’ve even gone low-cal and low-fat with some of the ingredients, without affecting the flavor at all.  College football kicks off this weekend, and our Buckeyes will be defending their title this year…Go Bucs! and Enjoy!


15 oz. can refried beans

6 oz. container unflavored, fat-free Greek yogurt (this replaces the sour cream)

8 oz. reduced-fat cream cheese, softened

salsa (an amount that will make a loose mixture, I use about 18 oz.)

Co-jack cheese, grated (can use fat-free or low-fat)

1/2 large tomato, chopped, and seeded

3 green onions, chopped

1/2- 16 oz. can black olives, drained and sliced into thirds (or substitute 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained).


1. Choose a somewhat shallow serving dish, a deep-dish pie plate works well for this dip.  Spread refried beans in bottom of serving dish.


2. Place softened cream cheese and Greek yogurt in a large bowl.  Using a wire whisk, mix cream cheese and yogurt with salsa.  The amount of salsa will depend upon your preference for spice, but keep in mind that the mixture should be quite loose.  It will firm up as it chills in the refrigerator.


3. Pour the mixture over the refried beans, cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate several hours or overnight.


4. Remove dish from refrigerator.  Sprinkle grated cheese over entire surface of salsa layer.  Sprinkle chopped tomato, chopped green onion, and sliced olives over cheese layer.  Place in refrigerator, uncovered, until ready to serve.   Tortilla chips, especially Tostitos Scoops are great with this dip.


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.