I love to cook. That’s because I love to eat. Well, it’s more than that. I love to cook because I find it relaxing and because it’s such a sensual pleasure: a good looking red pepper is a work of art. Here you’ll find recipes for things that have been big hits for me, and that you might like as well. Someday I’m going to have to write a cookbook!

1 1/2 cups ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 cup green pepper, chopped
10 oz egg noodles
1/2 cup tomato paste
3/4 cup tomato sauce
1 medium can whole kernal corn, drained
2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups catsup
1 1/4 cups tomato juice
1/2 cup American cheese, grated
1/2 cup mild Cheddar cheese, grated

  • Brown ground beef, onion and green pepper in frying pan. Drain well.
  • Cook noodles in boiling salted water until done; drain and wash in cold water. (make sure you wash or the dish will be too starchy)
  • Combine meat mixture, noodles, tomato paste, tomato sauce, corn, salt and catsup.
  • Add tomato juice to make a juicy consistency.
  • Pour into large pan.
  • Mix grated cheeses together and sprinkle over casserole.
  • Bake at 300 degrees for one hour.
  • Serves 12 unless you have a bad case of the blues, in which case it serves one.

2 packages of active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water
1/3 cup honey
1 T. salt
1/4 cup shortening
1 3/4 cups warm water
3 cups whole wheat flour
3-4 cups all purpose (white) flour
softened butter

  • Dissolve yeast in 1/2 cup water. Stir in honey, salt, shortening, 1 3/4 cup warm water, and whole wheat flour. Beat until smooth.
  • Sir in enough flour to make the dough easy to handle. Knead until smooth, adding flour as you need it as you go, until smooth–usually about 10 minutes or so.
  • Place in greased bowl and let rise one hour or until volume doubles. Punch down dough and knead again until smooth.
  • Divide the dough and place in 2 9-inch bread pans which have been greased if necessary. Brush with butter. Let rise one hour.
  • Bake 40-45 minutes at 375. Really good still warm with butter or butter and jam or butter and honey or toasted with an egg on top.

1 16-ox can chickpeas
2 T. tahini
1 T. lemon juice
2-3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup roasted red pepper
1 1/2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. coriander
1/4 tsp. cayenne
1/2 tsp. salt
freshly ground pepper

  • Drain and rinse chickepeas, reserving liquid.
  • In small bowl, combine cumin, coriander, cayenne, and salt, mixing thoroughly.
  • Put chick peas in bowl of food processor and sprinkle spice mix over, evenly.
  • Add tahini, lemon juice, garlic and roasted red peppers, and blend.
  • Add freshly ground pepper.
  • Once hummus gets smooth, add reserved liquid until it reaches desired consistency.
  • Serve with toasted pita or raw veggies.

1 lb. fresh green beans, ends snapped off, cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
2 T. freshly squeezed lime juice
1 T. olive oil
1/2 tsp. sea salt (I use Kosher)
1/2 tsp. dried oregano (I use fresh)
3/4 cup packed, chopped cilantro
1/3 cup sliced pickled jalapeno chili peppers
1/3 cup chopped red onion (I omit)
1/2 cup crumbled cotija cheese, a salty Mexican cheese resembling feta  (I omit)
1/2 avocado, sliced or cut into long pieces (I use a whole one)
1 medium tomato cut into 8 wedges or one cup halved cherry tomatoes

  • Bring large sauce pan of salted water to boil Add beans and simmmer just until tender/crisp, about 5 minutes. Drain completely.
  • Place beans in large bowl. Gently mix in lime juice, oilive oil, 1/4 cup onion, jalapenos, salt, oregano and cilantro. Let sit for half and hour. (Important to do this for maximum flavor!)
  • When ready to serve, gently mix in chopped red onion, if using, and cheese, if using. Serve the avocado and tomato on the side or mixed in.
  • Serves 4.

This is only about 4 points a serving!!

4 oz. (1 cup) whole wheat elbow macaoni
3 cups cauliflower florets (about 1/2 medium head) chopped into 1/4 inch pieces
1 T. unsalted butter
2 T. flour
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup 2% milk
1/4 tsp. black or white pepper
pinch of cayenne
1 cup grated lowfat cheddar cheese
1/2 cup bread crumbs (I used whole wheat bread)

  • Lightly oil 8-inch casserole dish. Bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a large pot. Add noodles and coook for 4 minutes. Add cauliflower pieces to noodles and cook for 3 more minutes or al dente.
  • While noodles are cooking, preheat broiler and put oven rack in middle position.
  • Heat butter in a medium sized pot over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook, whisking frequently, until golden, about 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in broth and milk, and cook at a low boil for 7-9 minutes until thickened. Whisk in pepper and cayenne. Whisk in cheese 1/4 cup at a time, until melted. Taste and season with salt and additional pepper as needed.
  • Add cooked pasta and cauliflower to cheese mixture and stir to coat. Transfer to prepared dish and sprinkle with crumbs. Broil until golden, about 2 minutes.
  • Serves 6

1-1/2 pound ground turkey
2 cups bread crumbs (4 slices, whole wheat or white)
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup minced onion (red or white)
1 egg
2 t. seasoned salt

1/2 cup catsup
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 t. dry mustard
1/4 t. allspice
1/4 t. cloves
6 thin lemon slices

  • Heat oven to 350.
  • Mix first six ingredients together and then form into six little loaves. Admire how cute they are.
  • Put the little meat loaves in lightly greased 9x 13 pan (glass or metal).
  • Mix rest of ingredients except lemon slices and pour evenly over meatloaves. Top each loaf with a lemon slice.
  • Bake 45 minutes.
  • Note: I sometimes double the sauce because I love it so much, but you don’t have to.

These are ridiculously good. They satisfy just about every taste desire.

1 box brownie mix, any kind , for 13×9″ pan (I make my own, using The Joy of Cooking recipe)
1 bag (10 1/2 oz) mini marshmallows
1 1/2 semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1-2 T. butter
1 1/2 cup Rice Krispies

  • Line 9×13 pan with parchment paper, leaving some extra that you can grab onto.
  • Prepare brownie mix and put in parchment lined pan. Put into oven.
  • About 5-7 minutes before brownies should be done, pour whole bag of marshmallows on top of brownies in pan. Continue baking until marshmallows are slightly brown, or just feel soft. (They will still be a little bumpy.)
  • Let brownies cool at least 4 hours or overnight.
  • To make chocolate topping, use double boiler or microwave and melt chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter together until smooth.
  • Stir Rice Krispies into chocolate mixture and spread entire topping onto brownies. Chill for a while in the refrigerator.
  • To cut, remove parchment paper with brownies, lay on a flat surface, and cut across with long, non-serrated knife into squares.

1 1/2 pounds carrots, peeled and halved lengthwise
1 pound parsnips, peeled and quartered lengthwise (Doesn’t “Parsnips” sound like the name of a puppy in a children’s book, one of those old Dick and Jane books?)
1 large onion, sliced
3-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons packed dark brown sugar
8 cups rich chicken broth, more if needed (I use some fancy pants highly concentrated French (I think)  stuff I got from Flavour cooking school in Forest Park; you can call them and order some if you want. It’s great, very rich, really makes a difference)
salt to taste
pinch of cayenne
1/4 cup creme fraiche, for garnish (I skip)
snipped fresh chives, for garnish (I skip this too)

  • Preheat the oven to 350. Combine carrots, parsnips, onion and ginger in a shallow roasting pan. Dot with butter and sprinkle with sugar. Pour two cups of broth into the pan, cover well and bake until the vegetables are very tender, two hours. (Your house will smell GREAT.)
  • Transfer vegetables and every last bit of broth into a large soup pot; add 6 remaining cups of broth. Season with salt and cayenne pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, partially covered, for ten minutes.
  • Puree soup in food processor or with immersion blender  (my personal favorite).
  • Serve with garnish if desired.

This is wonderful hot or cold.

1/4 cup breadcrumbs
1 T. grated Parmesan cheese
1 t. paprika
1 t. thyme
1/2 t. garlic salt
1/4 t. red pepper
1/3 cup buttermilk
20 oz. boneless skinless breasts
cooking spray
1 T. margarine, melted

  • Preheat oven to 400.
  • Combine first 6 ingredients (through red pepper) in a large ziplock bag. Place buttermilk in a shallow dish. Dip chicken in buttermilk (I actually let it soak in there a good fifteen minutes or so) and then dredge in crumb mixture.
  • Place chicken on jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray.
  • Drizzle with margarine. Bake 40 minutes or until cooked through.

2 T. dark brown sugar
1 T. paprika
1 T. chili powder
1 1/2 t. ground cumin
1 t. salt
1/4 t. cayenne
freshly ground pepper to taste
1/3 cup catsup
1/4 cup cider vinegar
2 T. molasses
2 t. Worcestershire sauce
2 pork tenderloins (1 1/2 pounds) trimmed of all visible fat

  • Spray grill rack with non-stick spray and prepare grill for indirect heating.
  • For spice rub, mix ingredients up to and including ground pepper in a bowl. Rub half the mixture over the pork and let stand 15 minutes.
  • Meanwhile to prepare mop sauce mix, combine catsup through W. sauce.
  • Rub pork with remaining spice rub. Place over indirect heat section of grill. Grill 15 minutes. Turn pork and grill until 160 degrees, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from grill, let sit for 10 minutes before slicing. Serve with mop sauce.
  • *I do the pork in the oven because I’m still afraid of my grill.

2 T. coarse ground mustard
1 large egg
1/2 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
4 (1/4 pound) skinless boneless chicken breast halves, lightly pounded
2 t. olive oil
2 T. dry vermouth or chicken broth
1 T. lemon juice
1T minced fresh parsley
lemon slices

  • Combine mustard and egg in shallow bowl. Place bread cumbs on a sheet of wax paper. Dip the chicken in the mustard mixture, then in crumbs.
  • Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat. Swril in the oil, then add the chicken. Cook until golden, about 5 minutes on each side. Transfer to a platter and keep warm.
  • Add vermouth and lemon juice to the same pan. Simmer 30 seconds, stir in parsley. Pour sauce over chicken and garnish with lemon slices.

You won’t believe how tasty this is–and it’s really easy! We had it with plain couscous and green beans.

2 T. flour
1/2 t. cumin
2 t. lemon zest, plus 1 T fresh lemon juice
kosher salt and pepper
1 1/2 lbs. chicken cutlets
1-2 T olive oil
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 c. pitted green olives
1/2 cup flat leaf parsley
1/2 c. dry white wine (such as Sauvignon Blanc)

  • Mix the flour, cumin, zest, 1/2 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper in a plastic gallon storage bag.
  • Put chicken in bag and shake until pieces are evenly coated. Heat 1 T. oil in large skillet over medium high heat. Cook until golden brown, 2-3 minutes per side. Transfer to plate. Add shallots and cook until soft, five to seven minutes, only adding more oil if necessary.
  • Stir in olives, parsley, lemon juice and wine and bring to a boil.
  • Return chicken to the pan, reduce heat to low and cook until chicken is cooked through, about five minutes.

This is easy, fast, good for you and delicious! (8 points in 2 cups)

8 cups chopped fresh spinach leaves
4 cups hot pasta such as cavatappi (around 6 oz. uncooked)
1/2 cup good quality shredded Asiago cheese
2 T. olive oil
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 (19 oz) can cannellini beans or other white beans, drained
2 garlic cloves, crushed

  • Combine in a large bowl and toss. Sprinkle with cracked black pepper before serving, if desired.
  • 4 servings, 2 cups each

I make these ALL THE TIME

1/2 cup flour
4 oz. pckge choc. fudge instant pudding mix
1/2 t. baking powder
1/4 t. salt
2/3 cup sugar
3 T butter
1 egg
1 egg white
1/4 cup baby food prunes
1 t. peppermint extract
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips

  • Oven to 350. Mix flour, pudding mix, baking powder and salt and set aside.
  • Mix sugar, butter, egg and egg white on medium speed of electric mixer. Add prunes and peppermint extract and beat again. Add flour mixture and beat until smooth. Fold in chocolate chips.
  • Spread evenly in prepared pan. Bake 30-35 minutes, until dry to touch and puffy, Let cool before cutting into 12 squares.
  • I know these sound weird, but they’re really good!

(from Wall Street Journal 8/11/07)

6 mangoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped very fine
2 T. fresh lime juice
1/2 t. salt
1 cup plus 2 T. sugar
2 1/2 t. powdered gelatin
4 cups heavy cream

  • Place mangoes, lime juice and salt in a large saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mangoes are very soft, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the sugar and continue cooking, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan, until the mixture becomes syrupy, with a few chunks of mango remaining, about 15 minutes. If the sugar starts to brown, reduce the heat.  Let cool to room temperature.
  • Sprinkle the gelatin over 3 T. of cold water and set aside for 5 minutes. Stir the gelatin mixture into the cooled mango mixture until it dissolves, then stir in the cream.
  • Divide mixture into 8 4-oz. ramekins. Chill until set, about three hours. Serve cold. Can be refrigerated up to one day.
  • (I’m going to try this with just plain milk and see if it’s almost as good–it would be WAY less fattening!)

Cookie crust:
1 stick of butter, softened (that’s 1/4 pound)
1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cup flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 11-ounce jar lemon curd (or you could make your own)
1 1/2 pints strawberries

  • For cookie crust, beat butter with sugar until blended at low speed. Increase speed to high and beat until creamy. Reduce speed to medium, and beat in egg and vanilla. With a spoon, mix in flour and salt until dough begins to form. Use your hands to press dough into disc. Wrap this disc in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 325. With floured hands, press out dough on the bottom and up the sides of an 11-inch round tart pan with a removable bottom. Refrigerate pie shell for fifteen minutes.
  • Prick pie shell with fork in several places. Line shell with foil, fill with pie weights, dry beans or uncooked rice. Bake for fifteen minutes. Remove foil and weights and cook five more minutes, or until golden. Cook shell in the pan on a wire rack.
  • Remove tart from sides of pan and slide onto serving platter. (Leave bottom of pan on) Spread lemon curd evenly over the bottom of the shell. Arrange strawberry halves, cut-side up, on the lemon curd. Serve with whipped cream if you like.

This is a really terrific summer main dish. I had some last night at a class I took at one of my favorite stores, Flavour Cooking School, located in Forest Park, Illinois. The classes are always fun there, and the items they sell are high quality, beautiful, and, as my checkbook will attest, irresistible!

8 slices Italian bread
1 green pepper, seeded and quartered
2 tomatoes, cut in 1/2 inch slices
2-3 portabello mushrooms
1/2 pound asparagus
1 Vidalia onion, cut into 1 1/2 inch slices
2-3 T extra virgin olive oil
15-oz. can cannelloni beans

3 T. red wine vinegar
1/2 t. quality mustard (a Dijon is nice here)
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

  • Place all veggies and bread on a sheet pan. Brush all ingredients with olive oil. Grill until slightly charred and heated through. Remove and cut into bite-sized pieces and place in serving bowl. Drain and rinse beans and add to bowl.
  • For dressing, put vinegar, mustard and garlic in a small bowl. Drizzle in oil while whisking constantly. Taste and adjust seasoning–then add about half to salad and toss thoroughly, Taste again and add more dressing as needed (we used it all last night). Garnish salad with fresh basil.