Category Archives: Dinner


Leslie H

This time of year there is nothing better than fresh tomatoes. If they are not from your garden, go to your farmers market and get a variety of heirloom tomatoes–they are spectacular right now. The funnier looking the juicier! I have changed this recipe so much from a Cook’s recipe I feel I can call it my own.


3 lbs. (about 6 medium) ripe tomatoes, cored

1 English cucumber, peeled a bit, halved and seeded

1 medium green pepper, cored and roughly chopped ( I don’t care for green peppers but the flavor is necessary in this recipe)

1 small red onion, peeled and quartered

4 medium cloves of garlic, peeled and quartered

1 small Serrano chile, stemmed and halved lengthwise (leaving the seeds in will make it hotter!)

kosher salt

1 slice high quality sandwich bread, crust removed torn into 1-inch piece (I used a ciabatta loaf and a GF bread would work fine)

1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for serving

2 T. red wine vinager

2 T. finely minced parsley, chives or basil


1. roughly chop tomatoes, 3/4 of the cucumber, peppers, onion, and garlic and place in a large colander over a bowl. Sprinkle generously with kosher salt and toss until well combined. Set aside for 1 hour.

2. finely chop remaining cucumber and set aside. This will be mixed into the soup when it is finished.

3. Transfer drained vegetables to a medium bowl and set aside. Add bread pieces to exuded liquid (there should be about 1/4 cup) and soak for 1 minute. Add soaked bread and any remaining liquid to vegetables and toss thoroughly to combine.

4. Transfer vegetable-bread mixture to blender or cuisinart and process 30 seconds. With blender running, slowly drizzle in oil and continue to blend until completely smooth, about 2 minutes. This may need to be done in batches depending on you blender or cuisinart size.  Strain soup through a fine-mesh strainer into a large bowl, using back of ladle or rubber spatula to press soup through strainer. Add vinegar and adjust seasonings.

5. Add reserved chopped cucumbers and garnish with chives, basil or parsley and drizzle with a dash more oil.

This serves approximately 4-6 and could be served in cute little shooter glasses as an appetizer.

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Vegan Sauce for Anything and Everything

Leslie W.

This recipe is adapted from Mama Pea’s Mmmm Sauce.

I’ve use the Mmmm Sauce and this modified version for a number of different recipes. Typically I use it over sauteed veggies, crispy baked or fried tofu pieces, and brown rice which is delicious. Tonight, I used it over sauteed chicken, zucchini, green onion, cabbage, and quinoa. This sauce is so addicting. I love it and hope you do too! Sorry for the blurry photo! I only snapped one unfortunately and thought it came out.


Makes 1 1/2 cups

  • 1/4 c. canola oil
  • 1/4 c. almonds
  • 1/3 c. water
  • 1/4 c. cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 c. nutritional yeast
  • 2 1/2 T. lemon juice
  • 1 t.  garlic
  • 1/4 t. salt (optional)
  • 3/4 t. curry powder (I actually add about 1 tbsp probably, but just taste until you find your perfect amount)
  • 1/2 t. dried oregano (again, I do about 1/2 tbsp to 1 tbsp)

Blend all ingredients until smooth. Serve over any dish and enjoy! I like the milder flavor of the cannellini beans compared to the original garbanzo beans. I highly recommend using them.

On a healthier note…

Leslie W here again. I wanted to share this great appetizer. It is a version of a Caprese salad. I’ve made it a few times at parties and so far it is usually a hit. The ingredients are pretty simple and all you do is gather the ingredients and assemble! Though, I noticed the quality of ingredients really does matter with these. Organic tomatoes and fresh, good quality mozzarella make a difference.


1-2 package of Organic cherry tomatoes (or sugar plum)


1-2 packages boconccini (Trader Joes or Whole Foods)

Salt & Pepper

Olive Oil



Rinse tomatoes  and basil, and drain boconiccini. Put the tomatoes and boconiccnici onto toothpicks with a small piece of basil inbetween. Arrange on platter and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drizzle olive oil over platter. These can be made ahead of time and kept in the fridge. Take out 30 minutes before serving and wait until the last minute to drizzle with olive oil.

Garlic Scape and Basil Pesto


Leslie H

Literally, while talking on the phone and describing this pesto I was preparing to Melissa, hung up, finished making it and thought to myself, why didn’t I take pictures before I started! I grabbed the ends of the scapes out of the sink added the other ingredients next to it and viola-we have a recipe. Scapes are the flower stalks of the garlic bulbs that send up curly shoots about two thirds of the way through the growing season.  The scapes must be broken off to encourage growth of the bulb. They have a slightly less garlicky flavor than a clove of garlic, but very tasty. This recipe is one of those I made up and quantities are kind of a guesstimate.


Equal amounts of scapes and basil-about 1 1/2 cups each. Trim the scapes below the flowering bud section

1/2 cup toasted pine nuts

zest of 1 lemon

3 T. Parsley

1 T. honey (it needed taming down a bit)

Olive oil to thin to your consistency

1/4 -1/2 cup Parmesan Cheese-I didn’t add, but you know it would be delicious!


Place scapes and basil in the food processor and pulse several times until all is uniformly chopped. Add pine nuts and continue to pulse a few more times. Add parsley, lemon zest, salt and a squeeze of honey; process until smooth. With machine running, slowly add in olive oil until desired consistency. Stop machine, taste and adjust seasonings. I am grilling pizza dough on the BBQ tonight smearing with a little more olive oil and topping with this pesto—yummm.  I think it will also go really well with the grilled halibut.

Crash Hot Sweet Potatoes


Hello! These sweet potatoes are another fabulous pinterest find.  For the most part, I made them pretty similar to the original recipe, except I used more toppings per potato and cooked them for longer so they were crispy.

These are delish – they didn’t even make it to the table! (Somehow, Matt and I ate all of them while we finished cooking dinner…)



1 Sweet Potato

2 T Brown Sugar

1/2 tsp Salt

1/2 tsp Cumin

1/2 tsp Chili Powder

1/2 tsp Paprika

1/4 tsp Onion Powder

1/4 tsp Garlic Powder

Melted Earth Balance Butter and olive oil (or regular butter…) (about 3 T total)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Slice the sweet potatoes into 1 inch discs and put in boiling, salted water for about 15 minutes or so until they are soft (soft is hard to describe…soft enough that they can easily be smushed…if in doubt, cook a little longer).  Let them cool on a drying rack.


While the sweet potatoes are cooking, put all of the spices into a bowl and whisk together.

Image(This is how the spices looked before I whisked them together…and then stopped taking pictures of the rest of the process…)

Line the sweet potatoes up on a silpat-lined baking sheet.  Smash the sweet potato discs slightly, so that you create nice ridges in the surface for the flavors to sink into.  This can be a tough process.  I used a slotted  spoon to smush and a flat spatula to assist when the discs would try to stick to the spoon.

Use a brush (or a spoon) to coat both sides of the sweet potato discs in the melted butter/olive oil mix.  Then, pat a little of the seasoning mix onto both sides of the sweet potato.

Bake for 25 minutes, flip,and bake for 20 more minutes.  Give yourself plenty of time when you make these – you want them delicious and crispy, and it feels like it always takes longer than expected to get them to that perfect level of crunch.

We paired these (or…intended to pair these) with chicken coated in Tom Douglas’ Rub with Love and grilled Asparagus with a squirt of lemon.

Spicy Peanut Soba Noodles

Leslie H.

I know there are hundreds of peanut sauce noodle salads out there, but I found this one recently and I am sorry to say I can’t remember where and made it tonight for dinner and I think it is over the top delicious. I grilled a piece of chicken for my husband so he wouldn’t starve and changed the recipe up a bit for allergy reasons.


8 oz. pkg. soba (buckwheat) noodles, (if you are using gf, I just watched this video and haven’t tried it but it makes good sense)

6-8 oz. sugar snap peas, broccoli, or other vegetables

3 T. dark sesame oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 T. ginger, grated

1/4 cup rice vinegar

1/4 cup soy or tamari sauce

1/4 cup honey

2 tsp. mirin

1 tsp. hot chili oil, sriracha or cayenne pepper

1/2 cup creamy peanut butter ( I used almond butter)

1/4 cup water to thin sauce ( I didn’t need any)

roasted peanuts for garnish ( I used toasted chopped cashews)

chopped green onions for garnish


In a pan over medium heat, add the sesame oil, garlic and ginger. If using the snap peas or other vegetables, add them to the pan and saute for 1 to 2 minutes or until the garlic is golden and the vegetables are bright green. Remove from pan and set aside leaving the oil, garlic and ginger in the pan. Add the rest of the sauce ingredients and stir until smooth. Thin with water if necessary.

In a large pot, bring water to a boil and add noodles. Cook according to package directions. Drain and add to the pan with the sauce. Mix in vegetables. Toss to combine. Garnish with nuts and scallions.

Black Rice Salad with Mango and Peanuts


Leslie H

It seems every summer I find a new salad recipe and  continue to make it throughout the season for every event we are invited to share something. Well, I think this is the 2012 recipe for the summer. It is easy and can be adapted to most any taste buds (especially you cilantro haters out there). This was taken from Bon Appetit. The colors are beautiful and the salad is quite tasty and delicious. My husband said this salad belongs in a bistro showcase!


2 oranges

1/4 cup or more of fresh lime juice

2 T. vegetable oil

1 T. fish sauce ( I didn’t use it)

2 cups black rice (sometimes called forbidden rice)

2 just ripe mangoes, peeled, pitted, cut into 1/2″ dice

1 cup cilantro, chopped

1 cup red onion, finely chopped

1/2 cup unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts ( I used cashews, toasted on the stove)

2 jalapenos, seeded and minced ( I only used 1)



1. Remove peel and white pith from oranges. Working over a bowl to catch the juices, cut between membranes to release orange segments into bowl.  Squeeze membranes over bowl to release any juices. Strain juices through a sieve into a smaller bowl and reserve segments.

2. Add lime juice, oil and fish sauce if using to bowl with orange juice; whisk to blend. Set aside.

3. Bring rice and 2 3/4 cups water to a boil in a large saucepan. Season with salt and cover. Reduce heat to low, and simmer until all liquid is absorbed, about 25 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, covered for 15 minutes. Spread out rice on a rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with dressing, and season with a bit more salt, taste and let cool.

4. Place mangoes and rest of the ingredients in a large bowl. Add rice and toss gently to combine. Season with a bit more salt if needed and perhaps a touch more of lime juice.

Garlic Potato Salad

Leslie H

While I know my kids have never been big potato salad fans, I found this one in my new cookbook Herbavoracious by Michael Natkin, changed it a smidge, and think it will be a delicious side dish for Father’s Day today. It is not your basic potato, hard boiled egg, mayo salad; it has really been updated with wonderful tangy flavors. Give it a try! It is gluten and dairy free and certainly can be made vegan by substituting the small amount of mayo for Vegannaise.


  • 5 pounds small, waxy potatoes
  • 8 stems green garlic – I couldn’t find these but used spring red onions (look like large red scallions)
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 2 cloves minced garlic cloves
  • 3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • big pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • fresh chives and the purple buds (right now they are in abundance in my yard!)
  1. Wash the potatoes and put them in a large pot full of cold, salted water. Bring to a boil and continue to cook until they are fully tender but not falling apart (time greatly depends on size and variety). Drain, rinse, cool, and cut into bite sized pieces.
  2. Meanwhile, remove the fuzzy end of the red onion including the outermost leaves, just like you would with a scallion. Slice thinly. Heat a small saute pan over medium heat. Add 1/4 cup of the olive oil and saute the green garlic/red onion for about 5 minutes, until it is tender.
  3. Scrape the green garlic/red onion and olive oil into a small bowl. Add the remaining olive oil, minced garlic, vinegar, mayonnaise, black pepper, salt, rosemary, cayenne and black pepper. Stir well. Dip a piece of potato in and taste. Does it have enough salt? Is the garlic flavor present enough? Could it use a bit more cayenne? When you are satisfied, toss the dressing with the potatoes. This is easiest to do with your hands.
  4. Just before serving, thinly slice the chives and buds and  mix it into the potatoes.

Balsamic Chicken Sandwiches

Hello! It’s Melissa.

This is a recipe stolen from my mom, who got it from a friend (so not sure what it’s original source is…).

Matt made his sandwich on Ciabatta rolls and I made mine on Udi’s Gluten Free bread and they were delicious and held up pretty well.  I didn’t put any cheese on my sandwich, but it is a delicious addition, so it is pretty easy to make this GF, DF.  And of course, you can always omit the chicken if you want a vegetarian sandwich!

Balsamic Chicken Sandwich (GF)


1 pack of chicken

1 Eggplant

3 Portabella Mushrooms

2 Red Onions

2 Red Peppers

(Or whatever veggies you choose…Zucchinis are good too!)

Oil and Salt for the veggies

Havarti Cheese (optional)

Ciabatta Buns or Udi’s GF Bread



1 cup oil (olive or canola)

1/2 cup Balsamic Vinegar

1/4 cup Molasses

3 cloves of garlic

Salt and Pepper


Chop up the garlic and blend the marinade together using a mixer of sorts until emulsified.

Clean the chicken and marinade in 1/2 or less of the dressing for a couple of hours.  Grill/BBQ/Bake the chicken until cooked (we grilled it on the grill pan) and then cut into little pieces (at least, I like my chicken in little pieces in a sandwich.  But you don’t have to do that…)

Slice the veggies, oil and salt them, and grill/roast them until they look delicious (we did ours on the grill pan as well…).  Like the chicken, I like to slice the roasted veggies into bite size pieces for the sandwiches.

Grilled Vegetables

To assemble the sandwiches, put a little balsamic marinade on each piece of bread, and stack with ingredients as you like.  The easiest way to cook the sandwich is in a panini maker, but we don’t have one, so we put the sandwiches on the grill pan and put a heavy pot filled with water on top to squish it down.  Probably could be tasty in the toaster oven as well.

Surprise surprise, I think the sandwiches are delicious with a little extra marinade for dipping!

Matt’s Ciabatta Roll Sandwich


Curried Lentil Soup

Leslie W.

Curried Lentil Soup. Perfect for a day like today, rainy and dreary. I think I can even say this is my favorite soup of all time. I came across this soup in bon appetit only to discover a few months ago it was created by one of my favorite cooks, Molly Wizenberg, writer of the blog Orangette and owner of the pizzeria Delancy. Both of which I highly recommend! The only changes I ever make to this soup is adding a carrot or two or using Earth Balance instead of butter. Otherwise, I highly recommend making it as close to the recipe as possible. Though, last time I made it in the crock-pot instead of the stove and I think it worked out magnificently. Here is the original link:


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, chopped, divided
  • 2 tablespoons (or more) curry powder (I tend to add about 2 tbsp more after it cooks for a while)
  • 1 cup French green lentils
  • 4 1/4 cups (or more) water, divided
  • 1 15- to 16-ounce can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained, rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter


Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in large pot over medium heat. Add onion and carrot; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until onion is translucent, stirring occasionally, about 4 minutes. Add half of chopped garlic; stir until vegetables are soft but not brown, about 4 minutes longer. Add 2 tablespoons curry powder; stir for about 1 minute. Add lentils and 4 cups water. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Increase heat and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium; simmer until lentils are tender, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, puree chickpeas, lemon juice, 1/4 cup water, remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, and remaining garlic in processor. Add chickpea puree and butter to lentil soup. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and additional curry powder, if desired. And as I mentioned above if you make this in a crock-pot, I recommend sauteing the vegetables on the stove and then transferring to the crock-pot. After transferring, combine all of the rest of the ingredients, including the garbanzo bean paste and cook on high for a few hours.

*The picture on the website is much more beautiful!