Eggplant and Tomato with or without Pasta

photo 5 (11) photo 5 (12) photo 4 (12) photo 3 (16) photo 5 (13)Another wonderful inspiration from Jessica Seinfeld’s cookbook “The Can’t Cookbook”,  even though I can cook there are so many great and easy recipes in this book. This was certainly one of them. I served over pasta (see photos) and it is so easy! Everyone gets nervous about cooking eggplant and I really am not sure why that is, well this will cure you of that fear if you have it. You can just make this as a side dish without the pasta but any reason to eat pasta in this house is a good one.

Eggplants should be smooth-skinned, evenly firm and without soft spots. I bought organic ,  when  I’m eating the peel or the skin I  try to buy organic, same goes for tomatoes.


1 large eggplant or 2 small ones

4 cloves garlic

1 pint cherry or grape type tomatoes

6 sprigs fresh thyme

1/3 cup olive oil

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

*1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper ( optional )

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Wash the eggplant and the tomatoes. Cut off and discard the stem. Cut the eggplant into 1 inch thick round pieces. Stack 2 rounds, then slice  rounds 2 x and 2x across to make 1″ cubes. ( see photos). Smash the 4 garlic cloves with the back of large knife. Prepare baking dish by spraying lightly with Pam spray.

Place the eggplant , garlic, tomatoes, and thyme in baking dish.  Sprinkle salt , pepper and crushed red pepper if you’re using it. With clean hands toss together until the eggplant is coated with olive oil and don’t worry if it’s over-crowded. It will break down and there will be plenty of room.

Roast until the eggplant is really soft and tender. I roasted for an hour and gave it a stir and was good to go.

I served over pasta but you certainly don’t have to have pasta,  you can eat this just as is. If you’re serving over pasta you may want to drizzle a little more olive oil into the eggplant and tomato mixture–just for a little more saucier consistency.

Thanks again Jessica .

Lime Shrimp with Corn and Avocado

IMG_8249 (2) IMG_8233 IMG_8228 (2)All I can say is Wow!!!!  I cooked about a lb.of beautiful shrimp and I wanted to use it in a delicious light salad incorporating some fresh corn and avocados. This salad has some of most favorite ingredients in it.  I used fresh corn, fresh tomatoes, jalapeno, red onion, and shrimp! Limes are the secret ingredient here because they add all the flavor to this super light dressing.  This has got to be one of the healthiest most delicious salads.  Totally not fattening but filling because of the shrimp , corn and avocados. If you don’t like the ingredients you can Pasadena on this recipe because it’s definitely not for you. For those of you into it this is a must go to for summer entertaining. Light and Fresh , low in calories and so so easy to make.

If you like cilantro I would chop some up and add it, but a lot of people hate it so much I chose to not add. I removed all the seeds from the jalapeno and probably used 3/4 of a large one. One small seeded jalapeno is perfect and not hot at all. Be careful handling the peppers and the seeds,  I’ve taken to wearing surgical gloves to cut up the peppers.

This is a perfect summer salad, just don’t add avocados till you’re ready to serve,  everything else can be assembled ahead of time. I put together in the morning of the day I was serving and then added my avocados right before I served. This is what I did.



1 lb. cooked shrimp (after cooking it should be 1 lb.) I then cut it up into smaller pieces. I probably cut each shrimp into 4 pieces. Remember I used under 10’s. So that’s 10 shrimp to a pound. You want the shrimp pieces to be bite size but not too small.

1/4 cup chopped red onion

3 cobs of fresh cooked corn ( just put cobs in boiling salted water, bring to a second boil and remove and plunge into an ice bath) let corn cool and remove kernels from cobs.

2 limes-juiced , I use my juicer to juice because it’s tough with limes and you need as much lime juice as possible from 2 limes. I squeezed a third lime over at the end, but it’s probably not necessary. The citrus helps keep avocado from turning brown as well.

1 Teaspoon Olive Oil

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

a few grinds on the pepper mill–to taste

I put in about 1/2 pint of small grape tomatoes, but you can eyeball if using larger tomatoes, I didn’t want tomatoes to over power the other outstanding flavors

2 avocados–sliced and cut into cubes

1 small-medium jalapeno–seeded and minced

*a handful of chopped fresh cilantro if you love it


Cook shrimp- peel and de-vein or buy it cleaned and de-veined whichever works best for you. I like cooking my own shrimp but you can certainly use a “cooked shrimp” readily available in most markets.

Cook corn and allow to cool down. When corn is cooled completely down I cut kernels off.

In a separate small bowl, place chopped red onion, lime juice, olive oil and salt and a little black pepper. Whisk together .

I placed Shrimp, Corn, Jalapeno and Tomatoes into a large bowl. About an hour prior to serving I poured the lime juice combination over the bowl of Shrimp.

Mix well and allow to sit and marinade. You’ll want to mix a few times before adding avocados to circulate the marinade.

Taste for Salt and Pepper but it should be good.

I added the 2 Avocados right before serving and squeezed a little more lime over it, probably not necessary but I did. If you’re adding the cilantro go ahead and add it now.

That’s it–perfect summer salad.

Triple Berry Crisp–Gluten Free

IMG_7716 IMG_7709 (2) IMG_7702 IMG_7698 I love sugar as much if not more than the next guy but this was an opportunity to make a berry crisp without any white sugar or flour.  I stumbled upon this recipe on one of the million blogs, sites and posts I see spouting Paleo and Gluten Free recipes. I am not a paleo eater nor am I gluten free but it can’t hurt to have a recipe that is light on the sugar and fairly healthy to boot. If you would like it a little bit sweeter you can add a tablespoon of coconut sugar or a packet of stevia, I didn’t and I liked it just the way it was.  It intrigued me since I love a crisp but hate the amounts of sugar that go into it, even though I do love eating it.

I had some fresh blueberries, some fresh blackberries and a few random raspberries that were going to go uneaten . What better time to try this? You can make this with just blueberries, or any berry or fruit you like. Berries are in abundance now and super delicious. This recipe took me all of 1/2 hour to put together. Use cooking spray on ramekins and baking sheet or use parchment paper for easier clean-up.  I used 4 ramekins but you can stretch this to 6 for sure.

I just sampled and can say that while they are not cloyingly sweet they have a bit of sweetness and crunch and you can really taste the tartness of the berries. I wouldn’t mind topping with some  ice cream or yogurt but I guess that would be defeating the purpose. There are some wonderful dairy-free ice creams out there and I suppose they would work just fine.

Just an addition– I ate it for breakfast this morning!!! with a little greek yogurt!


app. 2 pints of berries — as I said you can mix them or use any one you like best. I used black, blue and raspberries. This can be made with apples, peaches, strawberries , nectarines and any combination of the above. I like making them in individual ramekins as a way of having portions already prepared which I think is very nice for dessert but equally nice made in a larger baking dish and you may need to double up on ingredients.


Juice of 1 lemon

1 cup almond flour–available in most supermarkets today ( Whole Foods)

*1/2 cup slivered almonds–obviously can be made without nuts but I love the crunch

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

2 tbsp. maple syrup ( use pure maple not the artificial one)

1 tsp. cinnamon

pinch of nutmeg


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees

In a bowl, mix together the berries with the lemon juice. Divide between the ramekins ( spray ramekins first) you can also bake this in one large baking dish of course.

You can use the same bowl or a new one, and mix together remaining ingredients until combined. Spoon the almond mixture over the berries. Bake for app. 30 minutes , until bubbly and golden brown. Mine were done in 25 minutes so check your oven after 20 minutes to see where they’re at.

Let it cool slightly before serving.

Fresh Basil Pesto

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Chicken and Pesto on the Grill

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Pasta Pesto

The original recipe for this delicious pesto appeared back in May 2011 on Cooking with Candi.  Yummy Pesto was the title. This is the same recipe from my BFF Suki. I have tried many pesto sauces and this remains my absolute go to favorite. It is super easy and while the basil is abundant you should make it and freeze it. When you freeze the pesto in a container, pour a thin layer of olive oil over the top . I have it frozen for up to 3 months. I use it on chicken, pasta, and it’s wonderful as a spread. This recipe is good for 2 lbs. of pasta usually. So I use 1/2 and freeze the rest if it’s just the 2 of us.

Pesto Chicken on the Grill with Grilled Peppers and Roasted Sweet Potatoes


Fresh Basil

If you are going to use on chicken , just brush on the chicken sprinkle a tiny bit of  kosher salt on it and  let it marinate for a few hours at least and it can be marinated  overnight in the refrigerator. Take it out of fridge and let it sit at room temp. before putting on the grill. That’s it!

*if you’re going to freeze the pesto for a later date–put into a container and add a thin layer of olive oil to the top. Then when you defrost it just mix the olive oil in this will keep it green .

*You’ll need a food processor


2 cups fresh basil (washed)

1/2 cup romano cheese (grated)

1/2 cup parmesan cheese ( grated)

1/2 cup pignolli nuts or walnuts

1 cup extra virgin olive oil–use a good one

1 – 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter (it’s good if the butter is softened before adding) you can soften in microwave

4 cloves garlic – peeled and whole

freshly ground black pepper–to taste

*kosher salt to taste if you feel you need it after finished making pesto


I put all ingredients except for olive oil in the food processor. Give it a few grinds using the blade attachment. Then I slowly add in the olive oil through the top of processor while it’s on. Beautiful green pesto! so easy. Taste for salt and pepper

Cook pasta and drain and add pesto. Done!

BBQ Sauce


I made this BBQ sauce and used it on chicken and ribs and it was so delicious. I put it into a bell jar and kept it in the refrigerator for a week. There are a lot of ingredients but it’s worth the effort. Nothing but good old fashioned ingredients. We like it spicy so this has a lot of kick because of the chipotles in adobe sauce, if you want it to be milder use only 1 chipotle or none.


1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1/2 small yellow onion, finely chopped

2 cloves of garlic, also finely chopped

1 cup ketchup

1/2 cup Molasses

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

1 Tbsp. Worcestershire Sauce

1/2 tsp. ground allspice

1/4 tsp. ground cloves

2 chipotles in adobo sauce,  roughly chopped–you can eliminate this if you don’t like it spicy or cut in 1/2


Heat the oil in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Add the onion and cook , stirring occasionally, until onion is nice and soft, depending on your stove top anywhere from 5-8 minutes. You just want them very soft and translucent not browned.

Add the garlic, and cook stirring till garlic looks softened , another few minutes. Add 1/2 cup water and the ketchup. I mixed the water and ketchup before adding.

Add the molasses, vinegar, Worcestershire Sauce, allspice, clove, chipotles and 1/2 tsp. kosher salt and bring all ingredients to a low boil. Reduce the heat, and bring to a slow simmer, stirring occasionally. It will start to thicken up in about 10 minutes or so. I let it cool a little bit and the put into the blender until it was smooth. Store the sauce in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use. This sauce can be made up to a week in advance.


This particular night I made BBQ chicken–dark meat. I used thighs and legs.

I dried off the chicken on some paper towels. Prepared my grill by spraying well with Pam Grill Spray or whatever you like to use, you can also oil the grates.

Separate about 3/4 of a cup of  sauce for basting . You don’t want to cross contaminate raw chicken with sauce that you may want to use . I place the remainder of bbq sauce in the refrigerator and put some in a bowl for serving.

Lightly season the chicken with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Sear the chicken with no sauce on the grill , skin side down, until nice grill marks form, app. 5 minutes. Then flip over.

Reduce the grill to low. Cook the chicken covered, turning and basting with the BBQ sauce every 5 minutes or so, until the chicken is cooked through, about 25 minutes. Check doneness with a meat thermometer or cut into it.

Throw away any sauce that you used on un-cooked chicken.


Summer Salad–Farm Fresh Farro

photo 5 (4)photo 4 (65)photo 2 (69)photo 3 (4)During the summer months in Colorado I am usually outdoors on a hike or my bike and while out there I can’t help but be inspired by all the beauty surrounding me here in the mountains. One of the things I often think about while out there is what I am going to make for dinner. I just posted another fresh farro salad and this was my original version. Both recipes are winners in my book.

Our daughter Kerri was out here visiting and while she is out here I am always on the search for some new vegetarian recipes to try out.  The inspiration for this salad came from some beautiful radishes from the farmers market and some fresh sugar snap peas. During the summer months with all the beautiful fresh vegetables available it’s super easy to throw together these salads. The fresh parmesan pieces give it the extra kick and salt it needs, use as much or as little as you like. I prefer pearled farro for this recipe.

*original recipe from Jessica Seinfeld website Do it Delicious


1 cup pearled farro

1 cup sugar snap peas

4 large radishes

2 scallions

1/4 cup mint leaves loosely packed

1/4 cup parmesan pieces

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Follow directions on the box of farro or fill a saucepan to about an inch from the top. Bring to a boil, and add the farro and cook until tender but still chewy, about 10 minutes. Drain in a strainer and run under cold water to cool down. Drain out excess water and let sit while you prep the rest of the salad.

Wash the snap peas and radishes. Remove the stems from the snap peas, cut them crosswise into 1/2″ pieces and add to a medium bowl. Trim the stems off the radishes and remove the root ends. Slice the radishes in half , then slice crosswise into thin half moons. Add the radishes to the bowl. Trim the ends of the scallions, wash and then slice the white and light green parts of the scallions into small rounds. Add to the bowl. Tear the mint leaves and add to the bowl. Take the parmesan and crumble into the bowl, you can use your hands or a knife to crumble parmesan. Add the cooled farro to the bowl.

Add the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper to the bowl. Taste for seasonings. Mix and allow to sit for a bit before serving. I made ahead and stored in fridge. I removed before serving for a while to bring to room temperature.


Farro Salad

I made this last night combining my recipe which is on my blog “Summer Salad-Farm Fresh Farro” and Charlie Bird’s Famous Farro Salad. My blog post was from a few years ago long before I ever saw Charlie Birds version. Last night I made this salad for friends and it was a runaway hit. Please feel free to add veggies at your own discretion. It’s a loose recipe but this is what I did.

Special thanks to Charlie Bird’s Farro Salad @nytimes cooking site by Melissa Clark – one of the best cooking sites I know


1 cup Farro

1 cup apple cider

2 cups of water

2 teaspoons kosher salt, and more to your own liking

2 bay leaves

8 Tablespoons extra -virgin olive oil

2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice- I used 1 large lemon

app. 1/2 cup shaved Parmesan Cheese , I used a vegetable peeler but I do know you can buy Parmesan Cheese shaved this way ( time and mess saver)

app. 1/2 cup shelled Pistachios–I used salted pistachios and chopped them myself. You can use raw pistachios but they’re a tad tasteless.

app. 2 cups Arugula

app. 1 cup torn Basil Leaves

app. 1 cup Mint leaves-cut up into smaller pieces

2 large radishes sliced thinly or rough chopped



In a medium saucepan, bring farro,  apple cider, salt , and 2 cups of water to a simmer. Simmer until farro is tender and liquid evaporates, about 30 minutes. If farro is cooked but there is still water I put in a colander/strainer and leave it till it cools down. If on the other hand the water evaporates before the farro is done, you’ll have to add a little more water. You can always strain it so no worries–but don’t overcook. Let farro cool down and discard the 2 bay leaves.


In a salad bowl (large enough to fold in arugula and mix) whisk together the olive oil and lemon juice, I use a wire whisk, it’s an amazing kitchen tool. Add the cooled down farro, parmesan cheese and chopped pistachio nuts, mix well.

This salad base will sit for a few hours at room temperature. I made it that afternoon for that evening and never put it in fridge. Salad is always best at room temperature so if you do refrigerate, just bring to room temperature before serving.

Just before serving, fold in the arugula, herbs, radishes and taste for salt. If not salty enough sprinkle a little flaky sea salt or kosher salt. You’ll thank me for this recipe.IMG_1779IMG_1780




Pasta with Tomato and Walnut Pesto

Tomato Pesto!!!! Basil is just a garnish and not even necessary in this wonderful pasta dish. Lovely for summer nights and perfect for the colder seasons as well. Pretty easy to prep, you’ll need a food processor for this one.

Easy obtainable ingredients.


2/3 cups walnuts

2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved

2 tablespoons plus 1/3 cup olive oil

kosher salt

6 oil-packed anchovies, coarsely chopped

2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped

1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

1/2 cup Parmesan, finely grated (about 1/2 cup), plus more for serving

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 box spaghetti, use any type you prefer , I prefer a long spaghetti type of pasta

Fresh Basil for sprinkling garnish* optional


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Toast walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet, tossing once until slightly darkened, app. 10 minutes but check on them after 8 minutes–don’t want to burn the nuts. Set aside to cool.

Heat the broiler. Toss tomatoes with 2 Tbsp. of oil on a rimmed baking sheet; season with some salt. Broil tossing once .  I broiled until tomatoes started to blister and released some of their juices. App. 6-9 minutes. Let cool.

In the food processor fitted with metal blade pulse the anchovies, garlic, lemon zest, red pepper flakes and 1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese until finely ground. Add the walnuts and half of the tomatoes, then with motor running stream in 1/3 cup of olive oil; process until well combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Cook pasta according to the box directions for al dente. Drain and reserve 1 cup of pasta water.

Transfer pasta to a large bowl add the pesto and add a splash of pasta water. Toss adding more cooking liquid as needed, until sauce coats pasta. Add basil if you’d like and remaining tomatoes.


*Pesto can be made 1 day ahead. Keep in fridge.





Mocha Icebox Cake –can be gluten free

This is a most amazing dessert. It can be made in a large bowl like a trifle, which is what I did or for a more spectacular presentation in an 8″ springform pan. I made it in a large glass bowl and while I don’t have a lot of photos I can tell you that this was a big hit! I even froze the leftovers and they were outstanding. I made it with Tates gluten-free chocolate chip cookies because a friend of mine who was coming for dinner is gluten-free.

This was surprisingly easy to make and no baking makes it a summertime favorite.

You’ll need an electric mixer with the whisk attachment for this.


2 cups heavy cream ( I didn’t say this was diet food)

12 ounces Italian Mascarpone Cheese

1/2 cup sugar

1/4 cup coffee liqueur, I used Kahlua

2 Tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1 teaspoon instant espresso powder

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

3 packages chocolate chip cookies, I used Tates (gluten-free or regular) in the bowl I didn’t quite use the 3 packages but if you do it in a springform you’ll probably need them all.

Shaved semi sweet chocolate for garnish


In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, combine the heavy cream, mascarpone, sugar , Kahlua, cocoa powder, espresso powder, and vanilla. Mix on low speed to combine and then slowly increase speed until it forms firm peaks (this could take up to 6 minutes so don’t get nervous if it takes a while)

In a large glass bowl, I broke the cookie into pieces for the bottom of the bowl, covering the bottom as much as possible. Spread some of the mocha whipped cream evenly over the cookies ( you’ll want about 5 to 6 layers depending on the bowl) so eyeball the whip cream so you’ll have enough. Place another layer of cookies on top, lying cookies flat and touching one another. Follow by another layer of cream, continue layering cookies and cream until there are about 5 or 6 layers and you’ll want to end with a layer of cream. Smooth the top, cover with plastic wrap , and refrigerate overnight.

Right before serving I sprinkled the top with chocolate shavings. Serve cold.

I did freeze this in small plastic containers and then just defrosted it in refrigerator and took out of fridge for a little bit and it was perfectly delicious.

I scooped into dessert dishes, a little goes a long way with this because it’s pretty rich. Will probably serve 10-12 in small dessert dishes.

Springform Pan directions:

You’ll need an 8″ inch springform pan.

Directions are pretty much the same – 5 layers will do it. When you are ready to serve run a sharp knife around the outside of the cake and remove the sides of the pan. Sprinkle the top with the chocolate, cut in wedges, and serve cold.


OMG Apricot Bars

OMG Apricot Bars out of oven

OMG Apricot Bars pre cooked

These bars are nothing short of a-mazing! They are the most perfect, delicious treats–great to take on a hike, great for after a ride on your bike…ok, enough Dr. Seuss. Just go ahead and bake them–it is not difficult. I woke up early this morning and decided to bake them and one hour later, they were finished and out of the oven. They remind me of a yummy, soft granola bar. If you don’t like apricots, substitute cherries and cherry preserves, blueberries and blueberry preserves, etc. (I’m not sure if I would use fresh blueberries. Just stick with the dry version of the fruit and the matching preserves.) Thanks to Giada for the inspiration on this one!



1 large jar of apricot preserves (I used an 18 oz jar of apricot/pineapple preserves because that’s what I had in the house. You can use a 13 oz jar of apricot preserves. I like it very gooey so I used a large jar of preserves.)

8 dried apricots, chopped up into small pieces


1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup light brown sugar, packed

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 3/4 cups old-fashioned oats (not the instant or 1-minute kind)

1 cup chopped walnuts

1 stick unsalted butter, melted

1 egg (room temperature), beaten


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Make sure oven rack is in the center of the oven.

Line a 9×13 baking dish with parchment paper (see picture) on the bottom and the sides and then spray the paper with cooking spray (I use Pam).

In a bowl, mix together the jam and the dried apricots and set aside.

In a large, separate bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, salt and baking soda. Stir in the oats and walnuts. Add the melted butter, egg and vanilla and mix very well. Using a utensil or your clean hands, lightly press half of the crush mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Using a knife or spatula, spread the apricot filling (use it all) over the first layer of crust. Cover the filling with the remaining crust mixture and gently press the crust mixture to flatten. Bake for about 35 minutes until light golden brown. Cool for at least one hour. Cut into bars. They will lift right out of pan with the paper and cleanup is a snap with parchment paper.

These will stay in an airtight container for at least three days. I will freeze them for the next time we want them, because they are too dangerous to have around.

* Yields about 24 bars