Bell Pepper and Artichoke Heart Pasta

Bell Pepper Artichoke Heart Pasta

Bell Pepper Artichoke Heart Pasta

I began with artichoke as the protein inspiration in this dish and thought that it compared to mushrooms in earthiness.  Luckily, all the munchkins enjoy artichoke as much as my siblings did, so I had a good go to for a meat replacement in their “acceptable” palate.  I began the dish by cooking the artichokes with my standard method and allowing the little ones to nibble away all the leaves as an appetizer as I started into the rest of the recipe.  I then rescued the hearts to add to the main dish.  This worked well as it kept their hunger at bay, gave me help, and bought me some cooking time.

This recipe’s fresh flavor is made possible by having all the veggie prep done and close at hand, using a method similar to a Chinese stir fry.  This can also be served without the pasta or with reduced pasta for those with diabetic concerns and tastes just as delicious.

Bell Pepper and Artichoke Heart Pasta

  1. 5 artichoke hearts, leaves and choke removed
  2. 2 cups walnuts
  3. zest of one orange
  4. 18 oz. tricolor rotini pasta
  5. 2 Tbls. olive oil
  6. 1 fennel bulb
  7. 2 red bell peppers
  8. 1 small bunch scallions
  9. 1 granny smith apple
  10. 1 tsp. garlic
  11. 1/2 cup white wine
  12. 1/2 cup veggie broth
  13. juice of 1/2 orange
  14. 1 Tbls. herbs de provence 
  15. pepper and salt to taste

You will want multiple bowls to set beside your stockpot with each of these ingredients at the ready.  Slice the artichoke heart into 1/4″ strips for the first bowl.

Rough chop the walnuts into second bowl and grate the orange zest over them. Stir to coat.

Remove the fronds from the fennel bulb and wash the bulb, then cut in half.  Turn the cut face down and slice into 1/4″ slices. Place these in bowl three.  Wash, de-stem, and remove the seeds from the bell pepper and slice into 1/4″ strips as well. These can share bowl three.

For bowl four, core apple and chop into bite sized pieces.  Add the scallions, sliced thinly.

Put noodles on to boil as per package directions.  If you are like me, set the timer for the noodles.

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large stockpot and add fennel bulb. Saute 3 minutes without stirring, allowing to brown.

Add bell pepper and combine, cooking for 2 more minutes.

Add scallions and apple and stir.  Mix in garlic and artichoke hearts and saute for 2 more minutes.

Stir in 1/2 cup white wine, after 2 minutes more add the 1/2 cup veggie broth and orange juice.

 If you are using pasta, drain and add to stockpot. Mix in spice and walnuts and taste.  Adjust needed salt and pepper, then serve.

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Mother’s Salmon Hash

Flavourspot Waffle

Flavourspot Waffle

When we are looking for a home style breakfast and I don’t want to cook, there are two places we go.  The first is quick and easy, filling to bunches of munchkins, and fine for wandering little cousins.  It’s Flavourspot. With their waffles in foil, full of ham and gouda, sausage and maple syrup, or Nutella and raspberry jam, it’s heaven if eaten while crispy.

Flavourspot is a food cart with picnic tables and since Portland’s usually chilly,  you shouldn’t have a problem eating fast.

The second place we choose, when it’s really cold, or we want a sit down breakfast, is Mother’s. Everyone has their favorites, from waffles to scrambled eggs, but there is only one dish for me.  That dish has always been salmon hash. When ordered, it comes with two eggs and toast, but I always sub in her freshly made pork apple sausage instead.

The chef/owner, Lisa Schroeder has a cookbook  out and I got it, hoping to find both the salmon hash and her cinnamon roll recipe.  While the book did have my wonderful hash, it didn’t have the cinnamon rolls.  After searching everywhere online, I finally contacted her and asked whether she could part with it to add to the back of her cookbook sitting on my shelf.  She was so sweet and sent it to me!

She’s had the salmon hash recipe reprinted in Relish magazine and has a link to it on her site, but it’s a little hard to read and I did make some slight adjustments, so I’m going to post that recipe here.  You’ll need to buy the cookbook and email her for the cinnamon rolls, or just go down this weekend and eat some fresh…

I used one half of  a large wild salmon from a friend who fishes in Alaska.  You will need a firm wild salmon for this, or it won’t hold up to the cream.  I also did not mix the potatoes into the cream as she does, because we like the potatoes to stay super crisp. (Her potato recipe is the same as my grandmothers, so I’ve already been making them for years.) When I have hash at the restaurant, I get a little too full because of the cream to veggie ratio, so I increased the green veggies by adding fresh asparagus and scallions.  This also stretches the sauce a little further and having more makes all the munchkins happy.

Grandma’s JoJo’s

  1. 8 large red Potatoes
  2. 2 large sprigs of thyme
  3. 2 large sprigs of rosemary
  4. 1 tsp. salt
  5. 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  6. 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  7. 1/4 cup olive oil, plus more for the pan

Oil a large baking sheet generously and pre-heat oven to 450.  Remove fresh spices from stems and place in a spice grinder.  Pulse until the spices are finely ground.  Mix all spices and olive oil in a large bowl. Wash and slice each potato lengthwise into 4 pieces. Add potatoes to bowl to coat with spices.  Arrange potatoes cut side down on baking sheet.  Bake for 20 minutes, then use spatula to rotate to face the second cut side face down, being careful to keep the crust intact. Bake another 20 minutes.  Turn heat to 200 and keep warm in oven until salmon is ready.

Mother’s Salmon Hash

  1. 1 bunch of asparagus (about 2 cups when chopped)
  2. 4 scallions (green onions)
  3. 2 to 3 leeks
  4. 2 Tbls. butter
  5. 1 half of a large wild salmon, skin and bones removed, cut into 1 inch dice
  6. 1 tsp. salt
  7. 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  8. 1 cup heavy cream
  9. 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
Mother's Salmon Hash

Mother’s Salmon Hash

Snap the woody ends off of the asparagus and trim scallions.  Trim dark green and roots from leeks, then slice lengthwise.  Slice leeks and asparagus into 1/4″ pieces, reserving the asparagus tips.  Chop scallions fine.  Rinse all vegetables in a large colander.

Melt butter in a large saucepan and sauté green vegetables until the asparagus begins to lighten, about 3 minutes.

Add salmon and sauté until salmon turns opaque, about 3 minutes.

Add cream and simmer until most of the liquid has evaporated and cream has thickened.  Be careful not to over stir the salmon so that it remains in beautiful chunks.

Plate the potatoes and use a ladle to pour the salmon cream over the top.  Garnish with chives.

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Valentine Baking

before baking

before baking

Baking, like math, is a science. When I’d sit down to take a math test, I’d do my best, turn it in, like tucking a cake in the oven, and think, “That went well.”  I was always surprised when it came back with a big red “C-” on the top sheet. “What did I do?” I would wonder.

Bread, cake, pie crusts, cinnamon rolls… they elude me. I am by nature an artist, one who tinkers until the magic happens. But once the heat is applied to the pan, there can be no more adjustments, no tastings, no second checks to see whether you’ve forgotten the salt.  I own enough baking cookbooks that even I should have figured it out by now. But for me, it’s like the munchkin’s engineering calculators, more of them do not make a better engineer.

So, I slide the pan in the oven, set the timer, and forget about it. If it turns out, there will be a lovely extra after dinner.  If not, there’s always ice cream.

Chocolate Cupcake

Chocolate Cupcake

I found a forgiving chocolate recipe at the sophisticated gourmet this weekend and tried it out for the munchkins for a Valentine’s treat.  Now, I’m not going to give you all of his wonderful tips, as I really think that you should read them at his site, and they are good tips, so really do go there. (Including a link on how to bring your egg and sour cream to room temperature.)  However, I did make the recipe up twice with slightly different ingredients and I wanted to point out the difference between them here. I used coconut sugar instead of white granulated sugar.  That rarely makes a difference in baking, only adding a very slight coconutty flavor to the end product.  It also reduces the sugar hit to your body as it’s easier to digest and process.As far as I have seen, it behaves the same as cane sugar in the end product, so I’m happy.

Chocolate Cupcakes 

Second, I used whole wheat pastry flour as it’s just a bit healthier and as this recipe doesn’t require a yeast rise, it doesn’t affect the rise either.  Third, I don’t like using oil in my recipes as it tends to come out heavier and I’m all about light fluffy baking products. I use apple sauce for 3/4 of the oil and finish the rest off with oil.  Fourth, the first time I made this, I was out of sour cream.  I experimented (usually earning myself a C-) with soured half and half and skipped the boiling water.  The result was a denser, more intense chocolate mouth feel with a crisp candied edge.  When I made it the second time, with sour cream, it was a bit more molten and was especially lovely a ‘la mode.  Either way, it’s chocolately goodness.  Oh, and I’m not really an icing girl, so if you wish them iced, you can print his recipe for frosting as well. (Though I’m going to be trying out a chocolate cream cheese mocha frosting on these next time.)

Chocolate Cupcakes:

  1. 1 cup coconut sugar
  2. 3/4 cup plus 2 Tbls whole wheat pastry flour
  3. 1/4 cup plus 2 Tbls natural unsweetened cocoa powder
  4. 3/4 tsp baking powder
  5. 3/4 tsp baking soda
  6. 1/2 tsp salt
  7. 1 egg room temp.
  8. 1/2 cup soured half and half
  9. 1/4 cup applesauce and oil (fill a 1/4 cup 3/4 of the way full and finish off the 1/4 cup with oil)
  10. 1 Tbls vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350.  Butter ramekins and then coat them lightly with flour, shaking off any extra.  Mix together all dry ingredients, sugar through salt.  Add wet ingredients and stir just until mixed.  Spoon 3 tablespoons of batter into each silpat cupcake liner or 8 tablespoons into each large ramekin and set on silpat lined baking sheet.

Bake for 15 minutes and then rotate pan and bake for an additional 5.  Cupcakes are done when a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Serve warm with ice cream or fresh raspberries.

Chocolate Valentines in ramekins

Chocolate Valentines in ramekins

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Comfort Food: Guacamole

Guacamole Comfort Food

Guacamole Comfort Food

When I make guacamole, I hardly think about it at all.  I wander around the kitchen picking up the ingredients and mashing them into a bowl until a little mound of green goodness appears.  It’s not always that easy though.

Someone is living with us who had never tasted guacamole before yesterday. Naturally, they wanted the recipe and I kind of sputtered about a little of this, a little of that… but I remembered the pain of not being able to find the ingredients for Mexican food at all while living in Northern Europe.  Knowing exactly what you are looking for helps narrow your search, but doesn’t always solve all the issues. When the grocer gives you a blank look when you ask for chili powder, you’ve got some serious searching or substituting to do.  In this case, my someone will be taking a special batch of spices back home with them.


  1. 1 avocado
  2. 2 cloves garlic
  3. 1 tsp. lime juice
  4. 1/8 tsp salt
  5. 1/4 tsp chili powder
  6. 1 TBls. salsa (I use Emerald Valley’s organic mild)

Mince garlic, half and remove seed from avocado. Slice avocado into cubes while still in skin, then turn the skin out to dump all the little cubes into a small bowl.  Add all other ingredients and mash with a fork. I eat this with these multigrain chips.

Vanity of vanities, and all is vanity, except to love God, and to serve Him only.  This is the highest wisdom, by contempt of the world to press forward towards heavenly kingdoms. -Thomas A Kempis

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Black Eyed Pea and Turkey Soup with Cornbread

Black Eyed Peas with Turkey Soup and Cornbread

Black Eyed Peas with Turkey Soup and Cornbread

My mother would say this is a good recipe to cook up at New Years.  In the south, Black Eyed Peas are typically eaten for good luck at the beginning of a new year.  I don’t recall ever being at my southern grandparents home for the new year, but I do remember my grandfather baking cornbread. There is a strong line of Cherokee on my mother’s side which influenced my grandparents attitude toward cornbread. Grandpa used to bake it in a cast iron skillet for each meal and set it straight on the table to serve it.  I love to eat mine with honey and butter no matter which dish it’s served with. The soup, like most soups, is even better the second day.

You can substitute vegetable broth for the turkey for a vegan version of this soup.

Black Eyed Pea and Turkey Soup:

Rinse two cups of Black Eyed Peas and place in large bowl. Cover with cold water and allow to soak overnight. Stock: Turkey carcass plus 1 1/2 cups turkey meat reserved 1 carrot 1 stalk celery 1 bay leaf

Place carcass in large stockpot.  Chop carrot and celery into large chunks and add them and the bay leaf to the pot.  Cover with water and simmer for an hour. Do not allow water to come to a hard boil.

Pour stock through a strainer into a large bowl.  Discard the carcass and vegetables. Pour water off the peas and rinse again. Pour the peas into the stockpot and add the turkey stock back to the pot. Bring to a boil and then turn heat down to medium low.


  1. 1 large red onion
  2. 2 ears of corn
  3. 1 red bell pepper
  4. 1 TBls. olive oil
  5. 1 tsp chili powder
  6. 2 tsp salt
  7.  28 oz. diced tomatoes in juices
  8. 1 cup red wine
  9. 2 tsp herbs de Provence
  10. 1 1/2 cups reserved turkey meat

Cut the corn off the ears, chop onion and bell pepper into fine dice.  Warm olive oil over medium heat and saute corn and diced vegetables for 2-3 minutes.

Add chili powder and salt and stir to coat veggies. Warm the chili powder by cooking for another minute and then pour mixture into the stockpot with the peas.

Allow peas to cook for 1 1/2 hours, adding more water as necessary to keep the peas covered.

Once peas are tender, add red wine, tomatoes, reserved turkey meat, and herbs.  Allow soup to continue cooking on low to meld flavors while you make the cornbread.

This cornbread recipe is adapted from the one cookbook my mother used all through my childhood. Better Homes and Gardens moved over 3000 miles and 50+ years with her. If you use the finely ground cornmeal, the cornbread will have a cake like consistency, perfect with butter and honey. If you choose the medium grind it will be more crumbly and will fall and float nicely into little boats when eaten over your soup.


Dry Ingredients:

  1. 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  2. 2 cups medium or fine ground cornmeal
  3. 1/4 cup sugar or coconut sugar
  4. 2 Tbls. baking powder
  5. 2 tsp. salt

Wet Ingredients:

  1. 2 eggs lightly beaten
  2. 2 cups milk
  3. 2/3 cup applesauce (unsweetened)
  4. 1/2 can corn (optional)

Whisk all dry ingredients together in one large bowl.  Use one small bowl for all the wet ingredients except for the corn.  Whisk them together.  Pour the wet ingredients into the dry bowl and combine until everything is moistened.  *Add the corn and stir gently if using. Pour into a buttered 9″ x 13″ pan.  Bake for 20-25 minutes.

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Turkey Day in February

Turkey with Brussels Sprouts

Turkey with Brussels Sprouts

Like most American mothers, I cook turkey once a year. One of those years I cooked it twice, in order to test recipes before the big day. I quartered the bird and prepped it four different ways. The munchkins thought they were in heaven and of course, promptly chose completely different quarters as their favorites.  So, I’ve pulled the best parts of each recipe to combine into one.

This year I bought one of the “after holiday special” birds. It wasn’t until I pulled it out of the freezer  that I realized just how “special” a bird I’d picked up. Mind you, I only like dark meat, so when I read the defrosting label “breast meat only”, I blanched.  The recipe I’ve settled on takes two days of prep and here I was defrosting a bird I wouldn’t want?

Today was the day of reckoning with this recipe and I have to say, I ate every bite. It was good white meat. good

Turkey with Brussels Sprouts

Day One, Brine:

  1. a 9-12 lb turkey
  2. 1 cup kosher salt
  3. 6 large sprigs fresh rosemary
  4. 5 cloves garlic
  5. 3 apples, each of a different variety
  6. large cooler

Thaw turkey completely before starting. Crush garlic and add to a large stockpot of water.  Add rosemary and bring to a boil, then add salt, stirring until dissolved. Chop three apples into bite sized chunks. In a separate pan, dry roast apple pieces for 1 minute on medium high, stirring often to prevent burning.

Fill the bottom half of a large cooler with ice and pour the brine and apples into the cooler.  Test the water, replenishing with ice as needed until the brine is cold.  Quarter the turkey and soak in the brine overnight. (I like to do this when there is snow outside as I just set the whole cooler on the back patio.)

Day Two, The Rub:

  1. 2 Tbls. fennel seeds
  2. 2 Tbls. whole coriander seeds
  3. 2 tsp whole black peppercorns
  4. 1 Tbls. dried sage and chili powder
  5. 2 glass 9″x13″ baking dishes

Roast fennel, coriander, and peppercorns in medium skillet over medium heat, stirring often, until fragrant and fennel seed begin to darken, 2-3 minutes.  Pour spices into spice grinder or small coffee mill.  Cool and then grind spices finely and pour into tiny bowl, mix in dried sage.

Remove first turkey quarter from brine and allow to drain over sink for a moment, then place in a baking dish.  Rub spice blend under skin. I peel back any membranes as well to make sure I am rubbing directly into the meat so the spices will penetrate the whole piece.  Pull the skin back over and repeat with the remaining three pieces. Cover and place in refrigerator overnight.

Day three, baste and bake:

  1. 1/2 cup butter
  2. 1/8 cup fresh sage
  3. 1/8 cup fresh rosemary
  4. zest from one orange
  5. 3 large carrots
  6. 1 fennel bulb
  7. 2 lbs Brussels sprouts
  8. 1 cup apple cider

Arrange four baking dishes in your oven before starting to make sure they fit before starting this step. I used 2 9″x13″ and two 8″ x 8″ pans and they fit fine.

Preheat oven to 375.  Melt 1/4 cup of butter and stir in sage, rosemary and orange zest.  Place each turkey piece in it’s own pan and baste entire top with butter mixture.  Arrange each pan in the oven and bake for one hour.

Clean and half the Brussels sprouts and fennel.  Slice the carrots and fennel into half inch pieces.  Remove turkey from the oven and add the Brussels sprouts to the pans. Cover whole pan with foil and return them for another hour.

Remove turkey quarters from the oven and remove meat to a large bowl or plate for a moment. Scoop sprouts to a large bread loaf pan. Add carrots and fennel and then strain the juices from the meat dish and pour over the vegetables.  Return meat to oven. Test the smaller pans for doneness with a meat thermometer.  (The smaller pieces should be done about now. Keep them covered with foil on top of the oven.)  Salt the vegetables and add the remaining butter in chunks over the vegetables. Cover vegetables with foil and place in oven.  Roast until the thermometer inserted into the thickest part of each turkey piece reaches 165F, about 1/2 hour longer for larger pieces. Once removed from the oven allow to rest 30 min or so for internal temperature while tented with foil to rise an additional 5- 10 degrees and to reabsorb moisture.

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Quiche with Proscuitto

Quiche with Proscuitto

Quiche with Proscuitto

Few of my cookbooks carry a quiche recipe and it had been years since I’d made one on my own.  The munchkins love them though and with enough extra ingredients I can love them too.  During pregnancy eggs disagreed with me, as did most other foods, and I’ve been slow to readopt naked eggs back into my cooking repertoire.  Here is a lovely dressed version that flew off the plates.

This is easily made vegetarian and doesn’t lose flavor depth by simply substituting 1/2 a Portabello mushroom for the Proscuitto when sautéing.

Quiche with Proscuitto


  1. 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour (I like Bob’s Red Mill)
  2. 1 cup all purpose flour (I’m currently using King Arthur)
  3. 10 Tbls. butter (5 oz.)
  4. 3-4 Tbls. iced water
  5. pinch of salt

Pour flour and salt into the bowl of a food processor. Cut the butter into tablespoons and add to the processor 2 at a time, pulsing after each addition.  Continue to pulse until the mixture  looks like small peas. While the motor is running, add enough iced water to form a smooth dough.

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured pastry board and knead into a small rectangle. Wrap in plastic wrap until ready to use and place in refrigerator.

Quiche Filling:

  1. 1 leek
  2. 4 oz. Proscuitto
  3. 1/2 red onion
  4. 1/2 bell pepper
  5. 1/4 tsp salt
  6. 1/4 tsp fresh pepper
  7. 1 tsp. Thyme
  8. 2 Tbls. fresh parsley
  9. 8 eggs
  10. 1 tsp. Chevril
  11. 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  12. 1 cup milk

Cut roots and stem dark leaves off the leek. Slice into rounds and wash well in a colander. Return them to cutting board and finely chop. Finely chop Proscuitto, onion, and bell pepper.

Saute vegetables and prosciutto with  salt , pepper, and thyme until they are tender and have lost their liquid.  This will prevent the quiche from being weepy when cut.

Pre-heat oven to 350 (180 C). Roll out the pastry to fit a 9″ x 13″ baking dish. Line pastry shell with parchment paper and pour beans or pastry weights on to of parchment paper. Blind bake shell for 10 minutes.

Chop parsley and use a small bowl to mix with eggs. Add Chevril and finely grated Parmesan cheese and mix well before adding milk.

Remove beans or pastry weights and parchment from pastry pan. Continue to bake another 5 minutes until golden brown.

Reduce oven heat to 325 and pour egg mixture into pastry crust. Bake for another 40 minutes or until set.

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