Spinach and Chickpea Dijon Vinaigrette Salad

1 15 ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1/2 large English cucumber, diced

1 cup tomato, diced

1 large avocado, diced

1/2 red onion, peeled and diced

2 green onions, sliced

1/2 yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced

1/2 cup diced cheese – feta or queso fresco or similar

2 cups fresh spinach


1 clove of garlic, peeled and minced

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 tablespoon honey

1 teaspoon dried parsley

Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all of the dressing ingredients in a jar. Shake fully. Let sit for approximately 30 minutes before using. Mix the salad ingredients in a large bowl. Top with dressing and mix fully. Refrigerate until ready to eat.


3 pepper casserole – stuffed peppers


This meal cooks in about 45 minutes. It is a one pan meal so it does not require much clean up. It tastes best if made the morning before eating or even the day before. It warms really well in the oven.


1 pound lean ground beef

1/2 large yellow onion, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

1 large green bell pepper, diced

2 large sweet banana peppers, sliced into rings

1 large jalapeno pepper, seeds removed and diced

1 cup jasmine rice, uncooked

1 tablespoon paprika

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon black pepper

1 1/2 cups beef broth OR 1 1/2 cups water with 2 teaspoons bouillon

1 8 oz can tomato sauce

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes


In a large skillet, saute the ground beef until fully cooked. Break it into small pieces as it cooks. Add the garlic and onion. Saute another 3-5 minutes. Add the peppers, cook another 3-5 minutes.


Add the uncooked rice. Saute another 5 minutes stirring often. Add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, beef broth, paprika, thyme, black pepper, and Worcestershire. Bring to a boil. Stir. Cover with a lid. Reduce the heat to low or just above (maintain a slow simmer). Simmer for 25-30 minutes. Do not lift lid and stir while cooking unless it appears that the water has all disappeared.


After 25 minutes, lift lid and fluff. Test the rice to make sure it is tender. If it is not, cook another 3-5 minutes and add water if needed. When finished, remove the lid and allow it to sit without stirring much for 5-10 minutes. Stirring too much when just cooked with cause the rice to become mushy.

Place the mixture in a prepared casserole dish. Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella cheese (optional). At this point, either move to the oven or refrigerate.


Bake in a 350 degree oven covered for 30 minutes.



Black eyed peas

Being from Missouri, we never…. NEVER ate black eyed peas. Now that I live in Texas they are a staple. It has taken me several years to get a spice variety I like. Now that I have it down, I could easily eat these every day. I based my recipe off the Paula Dean variation. It is warm, comforting, and just a little flavor with still allowing the peas to shine. We even grow the peas, jalapeno, onion, and okra right in our backyard. How easy is that?

This is a true “dump and go’ type recipe. It cooks for 2 hours, which can seem a bit long, but there is little that needs to be done to it once it is in the pot. It just needs a few stirs here and there.

This recipe does not work well using dried black eyed peas because of cooking time. They require much longer cooking, and I personally do not like the way they taste as much. It is a lot better to buy fresh peas or even the frozen type that can be found near frozen vegetables at the grocery store.

These black eyes peas are really a meal in itself. Serve them with cornbread and they are perfect. My husband and I like them with BBQ chicken and cornbread. For extra luck, add a side of cabbage.


2-3 cups black eyes peas – fresh or frozen

6 slices of bacon

1 small yellow onion, diced

1 large jalapeno, seeded and diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 roma tomatoes, roughly chopped

1 handful frozen okra slices or 2-3 pods fresh okra sliced

6-8 cups water

3 chicken bouillon cubes

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon guajillo chili powder


Cook the bacon in a dutch oven. Drain the grease and replace the bacon in the pan.

Add all of the ingredients. Cover. Simmer on medium or low for 2 hours.  Stir every 30-45 minutes. Add more water if needed.


Pinto bean soup


I think I prefer this pinto bean recipe to taco soup. It is just that good. I made this using dried beans that I had soaked in water for 20 hours. At one point I learned that the longer you soak dried beans, the easier they are on the tummy. It is true. I know that the soaking time could be decreased if you wanted.

The meat I used for this was from a butcher. I purchased the bacon and ham end pieces. You could use any type of ham or bacon for this recipe. You do not have to purchase premium meat as it cooks for a such a long period of time that the meat will tenderize.

This soup cooks for approximately 2-4 hours. It is an all day type meal but most of the work really happens in the first 30 minutes. It is kind of slow and low cook type meal that is very hard to mess up. This recipe makes enough for 6-7 very large bowls of soup.


1.5 pounds of bacon ends and ham ends

1 large yellow onion, diced

5 cloves garlic, minced

2 large jalapenos, sliced

15 ounces of canned diced tomatoes – undrained

1 pound or 2 cups of dried pinto beans

5 chicken bouillon cubes

10 cups water

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon mexican oregano

1 bunch fresh cilantro, cleaned and roughly chopped

1 teaspoon black pepper


In a large dutch oven, cook the bacon and ham over medium heat until done. Remove the cooked meat from the pan and drain any fat.

Add the onion, jalapeno, and garlic. Replace approximately 2 tablespoons of the fat. Add the meat back as well. Cook on medium to low heat for approximately 20 minutes or until the onions are soft and reduced.

Add the diced tomatoes, water, and all spices (including the cilantro). Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 2-3 hours. Stir the soup every 20-30 minutes and add more water if needed.


Serve this with corn bread or toasted tortillas.


Chicken and okra creole


This happens to be one of the times where I want the tastiest chicken possible. Sometimes when chicken is braised in sauce or made in a crock pot, it turns rubbery or over cooks to mush and cannot be identified as chicken. For that reason, I prefer grilling the chicken breast first and adding it at very end. Also, you could use leftover chicken or rotisserie chicken.

This recipe also allows me to use all the okra we grow in the garden.



1 cup sliced okra

1 can corn, drained

1/2 red bell pepper, diced

1/2 medium yellow onion, diced

1 jalapeño, sliced

1 large (1 pound) chicken breast, grilled and sliced

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 bay leaf

1 teaspoon thyme

1 teaspoon paprika

3 large tomatoes, rough chopped

1/4-1/2 teaspoons cayenne pepper

2 cups chicken broth

salt and pepper to taste

green onions, diced for garnish

cooked white rice to serve with


Heat the oil in a wok or pot on medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, jalapeño, and peppers. Sauté for 5 minutes or until tender. Add the chicken broth, cayenne, bay leaf, tomatoes, paprika, thyme, corn and okra. Simmer on low uncovered for about 10-15 minutes stirring often. Add in chicken. Cook another 3-5 minutes until chicken is just heated. Add salt and pepper as needed to taste. Serve over rice and top with green onions.






Hatch green chili salsa


1.5 whole garlic, roasted

5-6 medium ripe tomatoes

1 teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1/4 cup fresh cilantro

4 tablespoons lime juice

2 Hatch chili’s roasted

2 medium yellow onions, roasted


For tips on roasting the chili, onion, and garlic please see my Hatch chili salsa verde recipe.

Bring the tomatoes and oil to medium high heat in a skillet on the stove. Cook for 4-5 minutes. Cover and turn of heat. Allow to sit covered for 10 minutes. Peel tomatoes if desired. I would peel if you plan to leave the salsa chunky and leave the skins if you want it less chunky.

Place all ingredients into a blender and blend until desired consistency. Best if left in refrigerator for at least 6 hours prior to eating.






Roasted Hatch chili salsa verde


If you are like my husband and I, once you start making salsa from scratch, you will never want to buy jars of salsa again. It just does not taste the same. It is really simple to make. We roast our vegetables on a propane grill but you could also use the oven. The oven will give it a slightly different flavor.


2 Hatch chilis, washed and whole

5 large tomatillos, peeled and washed but keep whole

3 small yellow onions, peeled and halved

1.5 heads of garlic, keep whole

1 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon salt

3-4 tablespoons lime juice

1/4 cup cilantro

2 tablespoons vegetable oil


Roast the Hatch chilis, tomatillos, onion, and heads of garlic at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Allow them to cool. Peel the Hatch chilis and the garlic. Only remove the seeds from the chilis if you want mild salsa.

Place all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth. We use our Ninja.

This is best if allowed to sit in the refrigerator for at least 6-12 hours before eating it.



Habanero hot sauce

habanero hot sauce

Our Texas garden produces a lot of vegetables. The peppers really do the best of anything. This is the 8th year of gardening with my husband and this is by far the best hot sauce recipe I have found. Trust me… I have tried a LOT. I cannot handle too much spice. With as hot has habaneros are, most of the time I cannot even enjoy them. This sauce is more mild and I really enjoy it.


1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 medium yellow onion, diced

1 cup diced carrot

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 cups water

6-8 habanero peppers, seeded

3 tablespoons line juice

3 tablespoons white vinegar

1 teaspoon salt


Saute the carrot, onion, and garlic in the oil in a saucepan for 6-8 minutes. Add the water and boil covered until tender or about 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat. Add the habanero, lime, vinegar, and salt. Cool. Blend until smooth in a food processor. Store refrigerated in glass jars.



Cheesy jalapeño hash brown casserole

cheesy jalapeño hash brown casserole

What happens when you have a bumper crop in your garden? You get creative.

Hash brown casserole is another example of a typically over creamy, over buttered wonderful food that can be made without all the extra fat. The jalapeño adds a really nice flavor. Cooking them first makes it not too spicy.


20 ounce fresh shredded hash browns

3 jalapeño, remove seeds and dice

1 cup diced yellow onion

3 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons flour

1 1/2 cups water

1 1/2 teaspoons chicken bouillon

1 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 cup shredded Colby jack cheese – divided


Cook the jalapeño and onion in butter on medium heat for 10 minutes. Add the flour. Slowly add the water in small amounts while stirring constantly. Add in the bouillon, pepper, and cumin. Continue to stir often until thickened. Remove from heat. Add in 3/4 cup of the cheese. Stir until melted.


Place the hash browns into a bowl. Fold in the prepared cheese sauce until fully mixed. Grease an 8×8 or 9×9 casserole pan. Press the mixture in the bottom of the pan. Sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-60 minutes uncovered.





Italian salad dressing


My husband and I are going to be healthy for a little while. Healthy means I am having fun with salad dressings. The perfect salad to me is a little lettuce, spinach, and TONS of cut up veggies…. green onion, peppers, tomato, broccoli, cucumber, radish, carrots….. pile it all on. Sometimes it ends up more veggies than lettuce but thats okay.

Juice of one lemon

1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup rice vinegar

2 tablespoons water

2 teaspoons honey

3/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon salt

3/4 teaspoon dried basil

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 tablespoon parmesan

1/2 teaspoon mustard powder


This is the best part. Shake it all up. Look how pretty it is before you shake it.


I do not think I will ever use a store bought Italian dressing again. This was literally the best ever….