Oven Baked Potato Fries

 These tasty "french fries" are a wonderful addition to any sandwich, and take very minimal work.

  • 4 medium potatoes, cut to your desired fry size
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder (I use chipotle chili powder)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar

  1.  Heat the oven to 350°F. Line a jelly roll pan with aluminum foil, spray with nonstick spray, and set aside.
  2. In a large ziplock bag add cut potatoes, oil, and spices.  Mix well until fries look evenly coated.
  3. Spread in a single layer on the pan and bake 30-40 minutes, flipping 25 minutes in.

  • You can peel the potatoes, but I don't.
  • For an extra kick feel free to toss in some cayenne pepper.
  • Give the fries SPACE.  If they are too close together they will steam instead of bake, and get soggy.
  • I like mine extra crisp, so I toss them under the broiler for like 3 minutes at the end of the cooking process.

Yields 4 servings.


Shrimp Pad Thai

  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup cane vinegar (white vinegar will do)*
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce*
  • 2 tablespoons tamarind concentrate*
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 (12 ounce) package dried rice noodles (thicker ones)
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 carrots, juilenned
  • 1 bell pepper, julienned
  • 1 lb 51-60ct shrimp
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped peanuts
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 2 cups fresh bean sprouts
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges
  • Cilantro

  1. For the sauce: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, blend sugar, vinegar, fish sauce, water and tamarind concentrate.
  2.  In a seperate bowl soak rice noodles in cold water until soft- about 15 minutes; drain . In a large skillet or wok over medium heat, warm oil and add garlic and eggs; scramble the eggs. Add carrots and bell pepper and stir until well mixed;  add the shrimp, and noodles and stir until cooked.
  3. Stir in Pad Thai sauce, 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Stir in peanuts and paprika.
  4. Serve with lime and bean sprouts on the side.  Garnish with cilantro

  • Fish sauce, tamarind concentrate, and cane vinegar can be found at the Asian grocery.
  • If you don't want to bother with the above ingredients, some substitutions can be made: soy sauce for fish sauce, food processed lime juice and raisins for tamarind concentrate, and regular vinegar + 2 Tbs sugar to replace cane vinegar.
  • Chicken or tofu are also tasty proteins to add.

Yields 8 servings

Chocolate Banana Bran Muffins

These tasty treats are pleasantly healthy- I like to smear on a bit of homemade peanut butter for an excellent breakfast on the go!
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup cocoa
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups bran cereal
  • 3/4 cup almond milk (or regular)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 Tbs unsweetened applesauce (or oil)
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  1. In medium bowl, mix together flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  2. In large mixing bowl, mix together cereal and milk. Let stand for 5 minutes or until cereal is softened.
  3. Stir in eggs and applesauce; beat well. Stir in bananas. Add flour mixture, stirring only until combined. (Mixture will be thick.)
  4. Spoon batter into 12 large muffin tins, coated with non-stick cooking spray.
  5. Bake at 350°F for about 20 minutes or until browned and firm to the touch.

  • Chocolate chips make a lovely addition
  • Beware of using paper liners, using applesauce instead of oil tends to make the muffin stickier
  • I use my food processor- toss in the bananas, then eggs, and then moistened bran cereal and applesauce.  Then mix that mush with all the dry ingredients.

Yields 12 muffins


Berry Trifle

This dessert is ALWAYS a hit, and it consists of only a few store bought components.  I feel like Semi-Homemade Sandra Lee or something, guh she scares me a little.  She's like PTO mom, meets Martha Stewart, meets Stepford wife.  AND HAVE YOU NOTICED HER KITCHEN CHANGES TO MATCH THE THEME OF EVERY EPISODE?!  It's borderline ridiculous.  Plus I always scoff at her tablescapes...  and clearly I have watched far too much of her on television despite my mild fear of her.  I should probably spend my time doing more productive things, like making trifles. 
Because they're delicious.

oh and don't judge my cheesy smile,  this is the best photo of this dessert I had lying around.

Cilantro-Ranch Dressing

This is my rendition of Cafe Rio's house salad dressing- not a promised copy, but it offers similar flavor.

  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 3/4 cup mayonaise
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 envelope hidden valley ranch dip mix
  • 3 tomatillos, washed and quartered
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/4 cup lime juice
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup salsa verde
  • ~1 cup fresh cilantro, stems removed

Blast everything in a blender.  It will be a bit runny, pop it in the fridge an hour or so and allow flavors to meld and consistency to thicken.

  • You can use all mayo or all sour cream, whatever is on hand
  • Tomatillos are found in the produce section, often by either bell peppers, or ginger/squash/mushrooms.  Wash your tomatillos first, they are sticky.

Yields about 2 cups.

Mexican Sweet Pork

Plan ahead when you're making this, I usually cook the pork almost two days before I need it.  That being said, this recipe is worth the effort- it is a serious crowd-pleaser.  This shredded sweet pork is inspired by Costa Vida & Cafe Rio, I am not making any promises it is an exact copy, but it is certainly delicious :)

I serve this recipe with cilantro lime rice, black beans, pico de gallo, and cilantro-ranch dressing.

  • 5-6 lbs pork (I use "Butt-Shoulder" {don't ask me what a butt-shoulder is...})
  • 1 Tbs cumin
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 20 oz Coke
  • 1 12 oz bottle mild salsa
  • 1 20 oz bottle salsa verde
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic
  1. In a crock pot, place the roast, onion, and garlic. Fill with water to at least half-way, and cook on low for 12 hours.
  2. After cooked, remove from the liquid, strain, and put the roast in the fridge to cool.  Once it has cooled, shred the meat, removing any extra fat or tissue (or other animal goodness...). Shred the meat and put it in the crockpot with the Coke, brown sugar, salsa, and salsa verde.
  3. Cook on low another 2 hours, then serve with taco salads or in burritos.
  • You can cook the roast initially in the oven for 6 hours at 250 instead of using the slow cooker.

Yields at least 20 servings


Turkish Lamb Kebab

  • ~ 1 1/2 lbs lamb leg fillet, cubed
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp dried mint, or 1 tsp fresh mint
  • 3 Tbs olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Oil for grill
  1.  In a bowl add the olive oil, and zest the lemon into the bowl.  
  2. Add onion, garlic, bay leaves, cayenne pepper, thyme, mint, and pepper.
  3. Mix the lamb cubes in and marinate for at least four hours, or overnight.
  4. Heat the oven to 350°F.  Put the lamb cubes on bamboo skewers.  Also heat a grill pan and brush with oil, or the grill and place kebabs on until grill marks develop on all sides, and then transfer to oven for about 8 minutes to finish cooking.  
  5. Serve with rice pilaf.
  • Soak bamboo skewers overnight so they don't char when grilled.
  • If you choose to use a grill, you can cook the lamb the whole time on the grill and eliminate the oven step.
Yields 4-6 servings


Turkish Red Lentil Soup with Mint

This may sound like a strange combination, but it is DIVINE.  Ever since first going to a Anatolia, a Turkish restaurant, nearly two years ago I have been hunting for an accurate-seeming recipe, and I finally encountered one!  So, after many failed attempts to duplicate Anatolia's Red Lentil Soup this recipe finally succeeded!

Turkish Rice Pilaf

  • 3/4 cup long-grain rice
  • 1 cup hot water or chicken stock
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Pinch pepper
  1. Rinse the rice until water runs clear then drain. Then cover the rice with hot water and leave for about 15 minutes, then drain again. 
  2. Melt the butter in a cooking pot. Saute the rice with butter for 2-3 minutes while stirring. Add chicken stock, salt, and pepper. Turn the heat to low and cook until the rice absorbs all the water.
  3. Take the pot off the heat. Open the lid, place a clean kitchen towel across the top of the pot on put the lid back on. Allow the Pilaf to stand for about 5 minutes.  Fluff with a fork, then serve.
  • Don't stir the pilaf while it's cooking

Yields 3 servings

Turkish Chicken Kebab

Turkish Lamb Kebab, Chicken Kebab, Pilaf, and Red Lentil Soup
Marinating the chicken in yogurt makes for a wonderfully tender texture, and the traditional Turkish spices are absolutely delicious.  Serve with Turkish Rice Pilaf.

  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (or less according to taste)
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed with salt 
  • 1 tsp pomegranate molasses*
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • ~1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed (approx 2 large breasts)

  1.  In a container with a lid, combine yogurt, cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper, garlic, pomegranate molasses, and olive oil.  Mix well and add the chicken, ensuring to coat thoroughly.  Marinate overnight, or at least 8 hours.
  2. Preheat your BBQ or a grill pan on the stove.  Thread the chicken cubes onto 4-6 skewers, then grill 7-8 minutes, or until juices run clear.
  • Pomegranate molasses can be found at many groceries in the international isle, usually near Lebanese or Mediterranean ingredients.  Specialty international markets often have it also.  If it is unavailable lemon juice can be added in place- it provides a similar acidity.
Yields 2-4 servings


Italian Penne with Veggies

This is a super simple recipe, but always a crowd pleaser.  It is best topped with some kind of sauce- I love it with pesto, but a simple marinara from a jar is tasty as well.

  • 1 lb penne (I use whole wheat)
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced
  • 1 medium yellow squash, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 3 carrots, julienned
  • 1 cup halved grape or cherry tomaotes
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning 
  • Zest and juice of half a lemon
  • Olive oil
  1. In a large pot boil water and cook penne according to package instructions for al dente pasta. When finished drain, drizzle with olive oil and set aside.
  2. While the pasta is cooking- in a deep skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat, and saute garlic.  Add carrots and cook about two minutes.  Then add the zucchini, squash, bell peppers, and tomatoes.  Add Italian seasoning, and a few Tbs of water and cover.  Allow vegetables to steam for about 3 minutes, then remove lid and cook until fork tender.  Zest the lemon, and add juice.
  3. Add pasta into the skillet and stir, to reheat pasta, and incorporate vegetables and accumulated liquid with the pasta.
  4. Serve topped with pesto, grated parmesan cheese, or marinara sauce.

  • Basically any shape of pasta that will hold sauce will do- rotini, shells, whatever you have on hand.
  • When cooking pasta- DO NOT rinse it under water to cool.  Rinsing gets rid of the wonderful starches that allow pasta to bind with sauce- so simply let the water drain in a colander.  

Yields 6 servings

Almond Pesto

 This pesto is simple, and far better than any store-bought pesto.  It is great on bruschetta, over pasta, or mixed with some sour cream or cream to make a creamy pesto sauce.  Not to mention the almonds lend a wonderful flavor and are far cheaper than pine nuts.

  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C). Place almonds on a cookie sheet, and bake for 8-10 minutes, or until lightly toasted.
  2. In a food processor, combine toasted almonds, garlic, basil, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Process, streaming in olive oil until a coarse paste is formed. 

  • Basically any nut (except peanuts) can be subbed for the almonds- walnuts, pecans, and pine nuts are all a very safe bet, so use whatever you have on hand!
  • The Parmesan cheese can be omitted to make the pesto vegan.
  • To increase volume, the recipe can be doubled and sub out some of the basil with spinach.

Yields approximately 1 1/3 cup

30 Minute Italian Bread Sticks

 These speedy bread sticks make a delicious accompaniment to any Italian dish, or a tasty appetizer dipped in marinara sauce.  I love that they don't take any time to rise!

  • 1 1/3 cups warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 Tbs raw agave syrup (can be subbed with white sugar)
  • 2 tablespoons dry milk powder
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • ~1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese (optional)

  1. Place ingredients in the pan of the bread machine in the following order: 

    • Liquids: water, oil, agave
    • Dry ingredients: flour, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, milk powder, salt
    • Yeast
  1. Select Dough cycle; press Start. Spray two baking sheets with cooking spray.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). When dough cycle is complete, remove dough to a lightly oiled surface. Divide dough up into 18 pieces. Roll each piece on an oiled board, from center of piece to the outside edges to form bread sticks. Place bread sticks at least 1 inch apart on the prepared pans.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden. Remove to a wire rack to cool. 

  • Feel free to mix up the seasonings- ie. omit the Italian and toss in some crushed black pepper to pair with chili

Yields 18 bread sticks


Chicken Quinoa Chili

  • 1 medium white or yellow onion, diced
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken, in 3/4" cubes
  • 3 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 can petite diced tomatoes
  • 1 can (6-8 oz) diced green chiles
  • 3 cans beans (your choice, I use white beans, pinto beans, and black beans)
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 2 carrots, shredded
  • 1 Tbs chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp chipotle chili powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp white pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)

  1. In a large stock pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add diced onions and cook until tender.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper, and any selection of the aforementioned spices, and toss in the hot pot.  Cook for 5-7 minutes, or until juices run clear.
  2. Add the chicken stock, green chiles, diced tomatoes, beans, chili powder, paprika, cumin, chipotle chili powder, white pepper, and cayenne pepper, and stir well.
  3. Bring to a simmer and cook for 20-30 minutes.  Add the corn, carrots, and quinoa and allow to simmer for 20 minutes more.

Vegan Naan Bread

  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 cups flour, plus a few tbsp for workspace 
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  1. Combine warm water, sugar, and yeast in a bowl. Let stand for 5 minutes until foamy.
  2. Add salt and flour. Mix thoroughly. Knead dough on a floured workspace about 20 times and form into a tight ball. Put dough in a well oiled bowl and cover with a damp towel.
  3. Put in a warm place to rise for 30-45 minutes. Dough won't rise much, but it doesn't need to.
  4. Turn dough out onto a floured workspace. Divide dough into 8 pieces and roll out with a rolling pin to about 1/8" thick.
  5. Grill naan pieces on a grill or electric griddle. In a pinch, a frying pan sprayed with some nonstick cooking spray will work.  A George Foreman grill also works, no need to even flip. Grill for 1-2 minutes on each side. 
  • Sub in any type of flour, I used half wheat and the result was great!

Yields 8 pieces

Quick Mini Biscuits

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup milk (I use almond milk)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Dash of salt
  • 2 Tbs butter
  • ~1/2 tsp your choice of seasoning: cracked pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, fennel, rosemary, etc 

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease the cups of two mini muffin tins.
  2. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, milk, and butter.  Stir in seasoning. Spoon into the prepared muffin cups.
  3. Bake for 10-12 minutes in the preheated oven, or until nicely puffed and browned.

  • I use wheat flour, but good ol' all purpose flour will definitely do the job.
  • I have found that I can bake them at 400F for 7-9 minutes and they turn out fine too if you're in a hurry- just keep an eye on them.
  • In place of butter you can use mayonnaise for a kick (I despise mayonnaise though...).
  • If you have self-rising flour, just use a cup of that and omit the baking powder and soda.

Yields 16 mini biscuits


Pear Berry Crumble

  • 2 pears
  • 1/2 cup fresh raspberries
  • 1/2 cup fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 Tbs lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup ground walnuts or pecans
  • 1/4 cup quick cooking oats
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tbs butter or margarine, melted

  1. Heat the oven to 400F.
  2. Cut the pears into thin slices, and in a bowl mix with sugar, lemon juice, raspberries, blueberries, and a pinch of cinnamon.
  3. In a separate bowl add nuts, oats, brown sugar, and a pinch of cinnamon.  With a fork mix melted butter with ingredients until a coarse meal forms.
  4. Fill 4 ramekins with fruit mixture, and top with crumble mixture.  Bake 12-15 minutes, or until fruit is soft and the top is toasty.  Serve with whipped cream or Cool Whip. 

  • Apples can be subbed for pears, or a mix can be used, whatever is on hand.

Yields 4 servings

Vegan Chocolate Puddin'

Hear me out, I know tofu in pudding sounds AWFUL, but it really isn't!  It lends to a really rich silky texture, and a very happy calorie count- about 120 calories a serving.  Not too shabby for fulfilling that chocolate fix.

Toss the following in a blender:

  • 12 oz of soft silken tofu*
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar (I subbed part agave syrup)
  • 5 Tbs unsweetened cocoa
  • 3 Tbs almond milk (soy works also)

And select one of the following flavor additions:
  • 1 banana, in pieces
  • 1/2 tsp mint extract
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp orange extract + some orange zest
Blend on high until smooth and delicious looking, distribute in serving vessels, and refrigerate for an hour to allow flavors to meld.

  • BUY ORGANIC TOFU.  Yes, I have a few soap boxes, and a general aversion to non-organic soy products is one of them.  Eating soy in excess can have devastating side effects in-and-of itself, but I am okay with organic soy in small moderation.  Non-organic tofu is like 99.99% genetically modified, and riddled with pesticides (soy plants are one of the most pesticide-laden crops)  And I'll shut up now.
  • You can make just plain chocolate, but the "soy-y" flavor can be more distinguished without the additional flavor component.

Yields 4 servings.

Crispy Coconut Chicken Tenders

These tantalizing little tenders are a budget-friendly solution to craving coconut shrimp, and offer a down right delicious option when you want more than the typical chicken tender.

  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast, or tenders
  • 1 cup shredded, sweetened coconut
  • 1 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp Chinese 5 spice*
  • Canola oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Heat your oven to 300F.
  2. On a cookie sheet, spread the shredded coconut in a thin, even layer, and toast in the 300F oven for 8-10 minutes, stirring every 5.  Pay close attention because coconut burns quickly.
  3. Once toasted, toss the coconut in a food processor and pulse until coconut is similar in consistency to bread crumbs.  Set aside.
  4. Turn the oven up to 400F.
  5. Cut your chicken into desired size, I like mine in small tenders.  Then season chicken with salt, pepper, Chinese 5 spice, and paprika.
  6. Create your breading station, in one bowl beat the two eggs.  In another bowl mix panko breadcrumbs and toasted coconut.
  7. Then, utilizing one hand for eggs, and the other dry hand for breadcrumbs, coat each chicken tender in egg, then breadcrumb mixture.  Press mixture on and ensure even coating.  Set coated tenders aside on a cookie sheet.
  8. Once all tenders are coated, heat canola oil in a large skillet on medium high, and cook tenders 3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.  Transfer partially-cooked tenders to a cookie sheet, and finish in the oven with an additional 10 minutes.
  9. These tenders are delicious served with my mango ginger dipping sauce, or peanut sauce.

  • I find that the loose breading in the skillet gets burnt and nasty quick, so I clean the skillet out with a paper towel between batches and use new oil.
  • Chinese 5 spice can be found at your local grocery- either in the Asian section or the spice aisle.  I have found it to be much cheaper in the Asian section than the spice section.

Yields 4-6 servings

Mango Ginger Dipping Sauce

In a blender add:
  • 1 mango, chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh grated ginger root
  • 1 Tbs rice vinegar (regular vinegar works as well, but add only 1 tsp)
  • 1/2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 Tbs orange juice
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  1. Blend until smooth. Can be refrigerated and used up to about 3 days after.
Yields 4-6 servings

Banana Crumble Muffins

  • 1 cup wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup cake flour (or all purpose flour if that's all you have on hand)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 cup agave syrup*
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce (can substitute with oil or melted butter)
  • 3 very ripe, mashed bananas
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
Crumble topping
  • 1 Tbs butter
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 Tbs whole wheat flour
  1. Heat the oven to 375F.
  2. In a mixing bowl, mix mashed bananas, applesauce, egg, white and brown sugar, vanilla and agave.
  3. Sift in flour, baking powder, and baking soda.  Add salt, and stir until incorporated.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix brown sugar, flour, and cinnamon.  Cut in the butter, until the crumble resembles a coarse meal.
  5. Butter and flour muffin tin, and fill each cavity about 2/3 full and top with about a Tbs of crumble mixture.
  6. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

  • If you don't have agave you can use all white sugar
  • Basically any flour will do the job, but I like using some cake flour with whole wheat because it lightens up the texture a bit.
  • You can use muffin papers, but I have found with using applesauce that the muffin tends to stick to the paper.  So if you are subbing oil or butter for the applesauce, go after those muffin liners.

Yields about 16 muffins


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