Cooking is fun. Eating is funner. I cook, photograph and write these recipes. Everything I post on this blog I make from scratch using fresh wholesome ingredients.. I've been cooking since I was a little kid. My recipes are based on trial and error, along with studying cookbooks, family recipes, blogs and cooking shows. Some of the veggies and herbs I use are grown in my garden. Yay sustainability! I'm working on making my yard into an edible landscape. It's really fun to go out in the garden and pick your veggies for dinner! I'm helping as many people as I can to plant edible gardens in their yards too. It's hard work but it's really fun!


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J.C.’s Lemon Blueberry Pie

This is one of the amazingly delicious desserts going in my Dad’s cookbook. I waited to make this until yesterday, I didn’t think it would be that exciting. I was wrong, it was so good! This sweet, tangy pie is delectable with every bite. Get your face in this pie right now. 

My Dad’s recipe calls for a graham cracker crust, but I had ground almond flour in the pantry, so I decided to make gluten free almond crust so my Sister could have some. I love the Almond crust! It’s got a buttery, nutty taste that plays against the creamy lemon filling and the fresh bite of fruity, blueberry topping. The whipped cream makes the whole thing extra decadent and it’s fun to use the whipped cream air canister thingy. 

For blueberry topping: The recipe calls for canned blueberry pie filling, but I had a bag of organic blueberries in my freezer so I made it from scratch. In a saucepan, 2 cups frozen blueberries, the juice of 1 lemon, 1 1/2 tablespoons corn starch, 2 to 3 tablespoons brown sugar and a pinch of salt. Simmer until it thickens up and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350.

For the crust, the easiest method is to buy a pre made graham cracker crust, or you could make graham cracker crust from scratch, or do the scratch made Almond crust you see here. Combine 4 tblsp melted butter with 1 1/2 cups ground almond meal, (or 1 1/2 cups ground up Graham crackers) a pinch of salt and 2 tblsp brown sugar. Press into the bottom of a pie dish and up the sides. Bake for 8 - 10 minutes and cool. 

For the lemony filing: Mix 1 can sweetened condensed milk, 3 egg yolks, the juice and zest of 1 lemon. Pour into the pie shell and bake for 12 to 18 minutes until it firms up. Cool. Serve with the blueberry sauce and whipped cream. Yum!! Refrigerate the leftovers if there are any.

J. C.’s Shepherd’s Pie

We made these delicious Shepherd’s Pies yesterday for my Dad’s Cookbook. I’m getting close to being done with cooking and photography for this project, but I still have to layout all the pages and export the files to go to the printer. I’m going to be working on it all week. It’s a lot of work, but I like working on big projects. These recipes are all coming out great, I think my Dad is going to be really surprised to get a recipe book of all his dishes for a birthday present.

This was delicious and easy. Here’s how to make J. C.’s Shepherd’s Pie:

Make mashed potatoes by boiling 5 or 6 potatoes in salted water, drain and mash with 1/4 cup milk and 1 tblsp butter. Set aside while you make the filling.

My Dad’s version has ground beef, but You can easily make a vegetarian version of this by sautéing the veggies, maybe add some garbanzo or kidney beans, and then make veggie gravy the same way as described below, with flour and butter or oil, and veggie stock. 

Heat oven to 400

Brown 1 lb. Grass fed ground beef seasoned with celery salt & pepper. Drain away any fat. Add chopped vegetables, 1 onion, 2 carrots, 3 stalks celery and 4 crushed garlic cloves. Cook until fragrant. Remove all the veggies and meat from the pan and add 1 tblsp butter and 1 tblsp flour. Cook for a minute or two and whisk in 2 cups beef stock, and 1/2 bottle of beer, drink the other half. Whisk until it thickens up and add back the other ingredients. At this point add 1/2 cup corn, 1/2 cup peas and a big handful of chopped green beans. Season with celery salt, a little more pepper, big pinch of dried basil, a sprinkle of cinnamon, and 1 tablespoon Hungarian paprika or smoked paprika.

Cook the strew until it thickens up a little, about 10 minutes. Spoon into casserole dishes, top with some of the the mashed potatoes and swirl the top around to get crunchy bits, top with cheddar cheese if you want. Bake for 10 minutes until the cheese melts and its bubbly and hot.


Strawberry / Blueberry harvest from our garden this morning, yum!

Strawberry & Garbanzo Bean Salad

This salad was inspired by my friend Jen who said she forgot a salad just like this on her kitchen counter when she left for work. I’ve been thinking about a healthy strawberry and garbanzo salad ever since.

Most of the greens in this delicious slaw salad were grown in our front garden. We have Romaine, green curly kale, Lacinato kale, Radicchio, and strawberries growing up there. I like to grow a variety of greens because if one of them bolts and becomes bitter, I still have others I can enjoy. 

I harvest two or three outer leaves from each plant, leaving the center leaves growing for next time. Kales and lettuces grow pretty quickly and if you have a lot of different kinds of plants growing in your garden, you can harvest from one day to the next without running out of fresh greens.  

Harvest wash and spin any greens you have growing. Rub a salad bowl with a cut garlic clove. Make a dressing by combining 2 tblsp. red wine vinegar, the juice of 1 tangerine, 1/4 tsp dijon mustard, a big drizzle of honey, a pinch of dill, celery salt and pepper, and olive oil. Toss the chopped garden greens along with any other fresh vegetables you have on hand. I used shredded carrots and green cabbage from the crisper drawer. Add 1 can rinsed and drained organic garbanzo beans. Garnish with sesame seeds and strawberry slices. Yum! 

J. C.’s “Dynamite Sliders”

We made these delectable sliders yesterday. Yum, they were so good! I’m working on cooking and photographing all the recipes that my Dad has sent me over the years, to give him a cookbook for his birthday. This is one of my favorite recipes that he used to make all the time when we were growing up. Home made sliders are amazingly delicious. They’re so much tastier than the ones from the White Castle, but I still love White Castle. Our version is a bit healthier because we use the best ingredients we can get: grass fed beef, sweet Maui onions and organic American cheese slices. This is a simple recipe with big huge flavor. 

I tried to make them the way I remember my Dad doing it, square patty, toasted soft rolls on the griddle with cheese and a pickle. The secret to the “slider” flavor is chopped onions cooked in butter, so decadent, but easy and delicious.

Here’s how to make my Dad’s famous sliders:

Chop 1 sweet onion and sauté it in 1 tblsp butter with a little salt and paper until caramelized and sweet.

Combine grass fed ground beef with a little onion soup mix and freshly ground pepper. I sifted the salty soup powder because it’s extremely salty. I used about 1 tsp salty soup base for 1 1/2 lbs ground beef. I did use all the onion bits though because crunchy onion bits are good. 

Flatten the meat to about 1/4 inch. I used a big sheet of parchment paper and a mini rolling pin. Place it on a cookie sheet in the freezer for a minute to firm up a little, and cut into squares. 

Heat a cast iron skillet or griddle pan to med high, cook the burgers on the first side until they get a nice sear on them, flip and add sautéed onions and cheese. Toast soft Hawaiian rolls on the griddle. Serve the mini cheeseburgers on the toasted roll with a pickle. Add ketchup and mustard if you like, and maybe serve with a big slaw salad or some fries.

Yum, Sliders! 

My Dad’s Pineapple Glazed Ham

Anybody want a ham sandwich? We took this picture on Sunday afternoon, working on my Dad’s cookbook. This is the cheesiest and most intense food styling I’ve done so far. But I have high aspirations. This ham, and the aroma that filled the house while it was baking, totally took me back to growing up in the midwest and going to holiday parties at my own house and my Nana’s house. She always did criss cross cuts on the ham, with clove studs. Family parties were always pot luck, and people would get fancy, usually in the form of jello mold with fruit suspended in it, or a “salad” with tons of mini marshmallows. If you make this, and have the time to add the garnishes, it’s fun to do and will make a hilariously delicious display at your next BBQ or Springtime / Easter party.

I don’t usually cook such a massive hunk of meat on any old Sunday afternoon with just my husband and I eating, but the leftovers we’ve had so far have been delicious. This ham has a sweetly complex flavor due to glazing for 2 1/2 hours with the pineapple glaze. My Dad is really a great cook! Everything I’ve made for his cookbook so far has been completely delicious. I’m going to make split pea soup next, because his recipe for split pea soup has leftover ham in it. I still think I need to give some of this to the neighbors, or maybe I’ll make a big sack of sandwiches and hand them out on the corner. We have way too much meat! That is what she said.

To make this you’ll need 1 ham, 1 can of pineapple rings in natural juice, 1 jar of maraschino cherries, a little honey, brown sugar, and some toothpicks. Heat oven to 325. Make criss cross cuts on the ham and add cloves to the center of each diamond shape. Cover tightly with foil and bake for an hour. While it bakes, make the glaze using the juice from the pineapple can, 2 tablespoons brown sugar, a big drizzle of honey and 1 tablespoon apricot jelly. Heat to bubbling, and then on low for about 20 minutes to reduce. After an hour, remove ham from oven, uncover and glaze with a few tblsp of the glaze, cover back up and return to oven. Remove from oven & glaze every 20 minutes to half hour for the duration of cooking. At the end of cooking, remove ham from oven and decorate with pineapple rings & maraschinos, securing them with cloves and toothpicks. Bake another 20 minutes or so uncovered with more glaze to caramelize the pineapple. Serve with scalloped potatoes, spring vegetables, jelly beans, Peep salad & chocolate bunnies. Yum!!

Roasted Artichokes & Beets over Pink Rice with Red Lentil & Beet Greens Soup

We harvested these beautiful beets yesterday. Pulling beets from the garden is so much fun. I used them to make Lentil and Beet Green Soup, and Roasted Beets, Sweet Onions & Artichoke Hearts over Pink Rice. I served them with the rest of our pickled green beans from last week, which were extra delicious after sitting in the garlicky vinegar for a week. Yum! This was so fresh and delicious right out of the garden.

Northern gardeners can start planting beets as soon as the ground thaws, they grow well in cold temperatures. Mine are planted in a raised garden bed, in a very sunny spot, in loose, loamy soil that has lots of compost added. We started them from seed back in January. The gold ones are growing faster than the red ones, they’re larger than the red ones at this point, but I think the red ones will catch up.

Beets are versatile and the greens are delicious too. Here’s how we made this delicious & healthy lunch.

Cook Rice. I like to cook rice like pasta, in lots of boiling salted water until it still has a little bit of a bite, and then drain through a mesh strainer and cover to steam while I cook everything else.

For the roasted beets: Heat oven to 375. Wash and peel the top of the beets, cut them in half & add to a roasting pan with chopped sweet onions, a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper. Cover with foil and roast for about 40 minutes or more until cooked through. Add 1 can drained artichoke hearts at the end and return to oven for another 15 minutes until hot. Serve over rice with lemon wedges.

For the soup, sauté 1 chopped onion, 2 chopped celery stalks, 1chopped carrot and 3 minced garlic cloves in olive oil until fragrant. Add rinsed lentils, (I used small red lentils), 3 - 4 cups veggie or chicken stock, 2 tablespoons tomato paste, 1 tblsp chopped fresh parsley, celery salt and fresh ground pepper, 2 tsp sumac, 1/2 tsp coriander powder, 1 bay leaf & a pinch of cumin. Bring up to heat then simmer on med low. Rinse and chop beet greens and add those to the soup. Garnish with a sprinkle of sumac and a little turmeric. 

Pickled Green Beans and Red Onions

This is an easy way to make a delicious briny quick pickle. The hot brine cooks the vegetables just enough so that they stay crisp. This method is based on Michael Symons basic brine recipe. I like to add a bunch of raw garlic and dill to make it extra dilly and garlicky. These are the best refrigerator pickles, the brine is perfectly balanced. Since these aren’t processed, you want to eat them up within about a week or two of making them. That part is easy because these don’t last more than 3 days in our house. They’re addictive.

Clean and trim any vegetables you want to pickle and pack them into clean sterilized jars. I made one jar with red onions, and another with garlic and green beans, and a 3rd jar with carrots garlic and green beans. That jar is gone already, yum! 

In a saute pan equal amounts of white vinegar and water. Add 2 or 3 bay leaves, 4 to 7 raw garlic cloves, peeled and sliced, 1/2 tsp black  peppercorns, 1/2 tsp mustard seed, 1 tsp coriander seed, 1/2 tsp dill, 1 tblsp salt and 1 tblsp sugar. Heat the brine until it boils. Pour it over the veggies in the jars and let them steep. They’re good to eat as quickly as about 1/2 hour, and they get better if they sit in the fridge for a few hours or overnight. Keep refrigerated.

Corned beef & Cabbage Tacos with Honey Mustard and Briny Pickled Onions

This was a fantastically delicious experiment. My husband & I both thought of this when I put taco shells on the counter while unloading groceries yesterday to make corned beef & cabbage. These corned beef tacos were so good! The corned beef & potato hash tastes amazing with the crunchy cabbage, honey mustard, sweet corn, briny pickled onions and vinegary hot sauce. Yum! If you have leftover corned beef and cabbage, please try this, It’s really good!

The first thing i did was to make pickled red onions. It only takes a few minutes to make quick pickles. I use Michael Symon’s basic brine recipe for all home made pickles lately. It’s perfectly balanced and great for any pickled vegetables. I made pickled carrots and green beans too, since I was already making the brine for the onions. Pickled green beans are my new favorite snack. Yum. 

Here’s how to make the corned beef tacos:

In a skillet, saute diced potato with diced sweet onion. Cook on all sides until they start to get color, then add 2 -3 minced garlic cloves. Add leftover cooked corned beef, diced. Season with salt, pepper, a sprinkle smoked paprika, ancho chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder and celery salt & pepper. Cook an additional minute or two until cooked through.

Make honey mustard by mixing equal amounts of honey and mustard, about 2 tablespoons of each.

Shred cabbage. Grate cheddar cheese. Thaw a small amount of organic sweet corn by rinsing it under cold water. I use the kind in bags that you get in the frozen food aisle.

Heat taco shells in a low oven for 2 or 3 minutes at about 325. Place the corned beef hash in the bottom of the shells, top with shredded veggies, grated cheddar, and pickled onion, drizzle with honey mustard and hot sauce. Serve with a side of pickled veggies. Yum! 

Easy and Delicious Corned Beef and Cabbage

We had a big earthquake here this morning that rattled us out of bed pretty early, it was so scary! I think it was the biggest quake I’ve experienced to date. Nobody got hurt . A few cabinet doors were rattled open, which has never happened in any earthquake I’ve been in so far. It lasted a long time too, it felt like a year but it was only about 15 seconds at the most. I’ve wanted a beer since 6 a.m. It’s not too late to get some Corned Beef cooking for St. Patricks Day dinner, because day drinking makes you really hungry. 

Place a corned beef in a large pot of water. Add 4 or 5 raw garlic cloves, 1 cut up onion, a few carrots cut in large pieces, 1 bottle of beer, a few bay leaves, the spices in the little package that come with the corned beef, & 2 tblsp brown sugar. If your corned beef didn’t come with a spice pack, use a few black peppercorns, a few mustard seeds and 1 tsp coriander seeds. There’s no need to add any salt, corned beef is very salty already.

Bring up to boil, then turn it down to simmer on low for 3- 4 hours until fork tender. About 45 minutes from the end of cooking, add a few red potatoes and a couple large carrots cut up.  Red potatoes are slightly waxy and won’t crumble apart like a baking potatoes might. Once those veggies are cooked, cut a green cabbage in quarters and add that to the pot & cook for another 15 minutes or so. Serve with rye bread and all of the rest of the beer.

Garden Harvest 3-13-14

Today we harvested greens including 2 kinds of baby kale, various lettuces, arugula, nasturtiums, and lots of peas! These get eaten raw after rinsing them and stringing them, they’re so sweet and crunchy. Mmmm, And one of the last Meyer Lemons. I made a garlicky vinaigrette dressing with the lemon, 1/4 c olive oil, salt, pepper, a drizzle of honey and a smashed open garlic clove. Yum

This is my favorite salad. The dressing is so good! I used kale and lettuce from the garden, and red cabbage, carrots and cucumbers from the store. You can use any vegetables you like in this chopped salad and be very happy. Broccoli and tomatoes are good with this dressing too. Yum, I can’t wait to have this again for breakfast!

For the miso dressing: Whisk together 1/4 cup white miso paste, 2 tablespoons cold water, 3 tblsp rice wine vinegar, 1 tblsp sugar, 1 tblsp honey, 1/2 inch of fresh ginger grated, 1 tsp soy sauce, 1/4 cup peanut oil, 1/2 tblsp sesame oil, 1 tblsp tahini paste, 1 smashed garlic clove, and fresh ground pepper.  Serve on top of any veggies, raw or cooked, and enjoy!

Potato Planting

These organic potatoes sprouted on our counter, there are two varieties here, Russet, and waxy red. Home grown potatoes are delicious, easy to grow, and harvesting them is so much fun. The first thing I do is cut them apart to create more “seeds” so that you get more plants growing. I cut them into big pieces, with one or two sprouts on each piece. Let them dry a bit and callous over, just overnight, so they don’t rot in the ground. These will get planted at the bottom of a 5 gallon fabric pot, with the sides rolled most of the way down, in organic potting soil. As the potato plants grow up and get leggy, you need to “hill them up” or add more soil. This is where the soft sided fabric pots come in, because they allow you to keep hilling up the potato plants, unrolling the sides of the pot and adding more soil as the plants grow taller. You hill them up because the stems will turn into roots, and more potatoes will form along those new roots. I usually unroll the sides of the pot and hill the potatoes up 4 or 5 times in the course of a 2 to 3 month growing season. I add a thick layer of straw mulch on top to keep the sunlight from hitting the potatoes on the top layer. Sunlight is what turns potatoes green, and green potatoes are toxic. When the plants start to die back, you just dump the pot over and harvest your potatoes.

The last 2 pictures are potato plants growing in our garden and potatoes we harvested. Yum!

Strawberry Almond French Toast

 Can you see the rain on our porch in the background? We’re finally getting rain. This cool rainy weather is so refreshing. It’s been a hot dry Winter here in the Southwest. I don’t like hot dry Winter. Not at all. I’m from the Midwest, winter is supposed to be cold and wet. So, I’m happy that it’s finally raining. This weather makes me hungry though, hungrier than my usual starving self. When I wake up really hungry, I go to my kitchen & look through the fridge, pantry and garden and try to come up with something good. I opened the crisper drawer and there was the container of organic strawberries I splurged on while grocery shopping yesterday  ($5.00, Yikes!). I have strawberries growing out back, but they’re still small and green. Other things we had were a few small loaves of day old French bread from weekend sandwich making, eggs, real Maple syrup, and the rest of the almond slivers from making toffee the other day. I decided to make some French toast. The combo of the almonds and berries with lots of real maple syrup turned out to be deliciously amazing. I like the grade “B” Maple syrup from TJ’s because it’s not as cloyingly sweet as the grade “A”, and has a nice bit of earthiness to it.

In a shallow wide bowl scramble 2 or 3 eggs with 1/4 c. milk, a pinch of salt, and 1 tsp vanilla extract. Slice day old crusty bread and soak it in the egg wash, turning to coat thoroughly. Heat a skillet to med high. Add a little butter or coconut oil to the pan. Cook the French toast slices on both sides until cooked through. Serve with sliced strawberries, sliced almonds and real Maple syrup. Yum!!

The Academy Awards are coming up on Sunday, and that always makes me think of party appetizers. Even if it’s just my Man and I watching at home, I love to make delicious party appetizers and watch the Oscars. I made this compilation of appetizer recipes from the Delishytown archives to inspire ideas for your next party. Click through titles for the recipes. Have a fun weekend everybody!

Zucchini Bites, these are crispy and delicious and mostly healthy. Yum!

Tater Tot & Tomatillo Shrimp Bites, these were so good! I wish I had them for breakfast right now.

Oven Fried Buttermilk Chicken these are a good thing to make if you have a lot of hungry people coming over.

Kale Chips  these are great if you’re on a budget and have kale growing in the yard, free appetizers!

Pansy Spring Rolls these are delicious and really pretty. I love making these.

Grilled Asparagus Salad this is damn delicious! and really healthy! yum

White Trash Party Meatballs these are decadent, and really delicious!

Shrimp Egg Rolls I know you can just buy egg rolls, but these home made ones are so fresh and really tasty.

Baked Coconut Shrimp this is my favorite! The flavors explode on your taste buds!

Tarragon Deviled Eggs I love deviled eggs

Meyer Lemon Tart this is delicious and lemons are in season right now.

Grilled Artichoke these are delicious served with garlicky mayo or garlic dipping sauce

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