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.


Chickpea pesto pasta

This is amazing. I made the pesto from my garden basil. I have used the standard pine nuts as well as pecans. Both turned out fabulous but I think we really enjoyed the pecan version better. That recipe will follow shortly.

1/2-3/4 cup prepared pesto

1/2 cup mayonnaise

1 pound pasta, cook al dente, cooled and drained

1 can chickpeas, drained

1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon fresh chopped green onion

Mix together the pesto and mayonnaise fully. Add in the parmesan. Finally, mix in the chickpeas and pasta.

Borracho Beans – Drunken Beans

I promise that these are delicious and well worth the wait. The photos I took really do not do them justice. I recommend using a good Mexican style beer. These also take a long time to make but easily is enough for 3 dinners. I usually vacuum seal them and then freeze them to use later.

1 pound dried pinto beans, soak for at least 12 hours in water (overnight)

6 slices of bacon, sliced into small pieces

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1/2-3/4 cup rough chopped tomatoes – roma or cherry

2 medium onions, chopped

12 ounces beer

1/2 cup fresh cilantro

2 jalapenos, remove seeds and chop

1 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon mexican oregano

salt and pepper

Remove any floating or abnormal beans after soaking.

Place the beans in a large heavy bottom pot. Cover them with water by 2-3 inches. Bring this to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer. Allow these to cook for 1.5 hours.

In a separate skillet, fry the bacon until done. Remove the bacon and drain on paper towels. Leave the grease in the skillet. Add the vegetables (garlic, tomatoes, onion, peppers). Cook for 10 minutes or until done. Return the bacon to the skillet. Add the can of beer. Simmer 5 minutes. Add the cilantro, cumin, and oregano.

Pour the bacon mixture into the beans. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Simmer for another 30-60 minutes. Covered. Remove and stop cooking when the beans are the texture you enjoy. Serve hot.

Onion rings

onion rings

I grew up in St. Louis. Everyone has one favorite item at each restaurant. My favorite at KC Masterpiece was the giant mound of crispy sweet onions on top of every meal. I think I perfected a perfect replica and I am really excited about them.

1 yellow onion thinly sliced

2-3 cups of whole milk

1/4 cup lemon juice or lime juice

2 cups all purpose flour

salt and pepper or seasoning to taste (I use a lot of cajun seasoning)

Thinly slice the onion. The thinner the better. Place the slices in a bowl. Cover them with milk and the lemon or lime juice. Let this sit for 30-45 minutes.

Heat the oil in a deep fryer to 375 degrees. Season the flour using salt and pepper. Dredge the onions. Make sure to coat them until they are fully dry to the touch with flour. Fry for about 3-4 minutes or until golden brown.

Fresh basil and tomato pasta salad

10 ounces pasta – whole wheat or not

5 tablespoons red wine vinegar

5 tablespoons olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

salt and pepper

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese

1 cup chopped fresh basil

2 cups fresh or frozen corn

1 cup sliced cherry tomatoes

Cook pasta until al dente. Drain and rinse the pasta under cold water.

Place the pasta, tomatoes, corn, and fresh basil in a large bowl.

Mix the olive oil, minced garlic, red wine vinegar, tomato paste, salt and pepper. Once this is fully mixed, add the parmesan. Allow it to sit for 15-45 minutes before dressing the salad.

Leftover mashed potato balls

These are really like a homemade tater tot but with a different texture. Because they need to be frozen, it would be very easy to make them ahead of time and keep them frozen until needed. See the next photo for the texture inside. The kids really enjoyed them. My mom used to make potato pancakes or fritters. What I really enjoy about these (unlike the fritters) is the fluffy texture of the center.

3 cups leftover mashed potatoes

6 tablespoons egg whites

4 tablespoons flour

1/2 cup panko bread crumbs

6 tablespoons parmesan cheese

salt and pepper

vegetable oil for frying

Mix the potatoes, egg whites, and flour until well mixed.

Place the panko crumbs and parmesan in a separate bowl. Take approximately 1 tablespoon of the potato mix and form it into a ball. It will be sticky. You wont want it dry. See my photos. Gently roll it in the panko to make it less sticky. Place the balls on a silpat lined baking sheet or on parchment paper.

Freeze the balls for at least 2 hours before frying.

Head the oil in a deep fryer to 375 degrees. Fry the potato balls for about 3-5 minutes each or until golden brown.

Mustard vinaigrette coleslaw

This is my favorite slaw to eat with smoked pulled pork.

1/2 head green cabbage, thinly sliced

1 carrot, peeled and shredded

3 green onions, thinly sliced

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon yellow mustard

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon celery seed

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt or more to taste

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Whisk together the vinegar, mustard, olive oil, sugar, salt and pepper. Pour this over the cabbage, carrot, and green onion mix. Refrigerate at least 4-6 hours before eating.

Green chili hash browns



This turns out thin and crispy, not thick and soft as some varieties do.


1/2 package frozen hash browns

4 beaten eggs

1/2 cup milk

1 cup pepper jack cheese

2 4 ounce cans mild green chilies – undrained

1 teaspoon salt


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Prepare a 9×13 or 11×13 baking dish. Mix the eggs, mild, cheese, green chilies and salt. Fold in the frozen potatoes.

Press the mixture into the prepared pan. Bake for 45-60 minutes (depending on how crispy you like the potatoes).




Broccoli cheese casserole


WOW! This is definitely a grown up version of a comfort food I loved as a kid. As I have already said, I do not like Velveeta or cheese whiz (which many of these recipes have). This packs a ton of flavor with real cheese ingredients. It is not dry and not over wet. It is really as perfect combination. It is a also a great way to use leftover rice.


1 leek, cleaned and trimmed white parts only

1/2 yellow onion, diced

1 shallot, diced

1 large head fresh broccoli, trimmed

4 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon mustard powder

2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder

2 cups cooked white rice – leftover works great

2 cups milk

1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, diced small or shredded

3 tablespoons cream cheese

1/2 sleeve of Ritz crackers, crushed


Bring a pot of water to boil. Add the broccoli florets. Boil 3-5 minutes. Drain well and allow to drain in a strainer while preparing the rest so that all of the water is removed.


In a saucepan, melt the butter and cook the onion, shallot, and leek for 5-10 minutes or until soft but not caramelized. Add the dry mustard, paprika, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Stir well.

Add the flour. Mix well. Slowly add in the milk stirring constantly to prevent lumps. Cook while stirring 2-3 minutes. Add in the cream cheese and cheddar cheese. Stir constantly until melted. Remove from the heat.


In a large bowl, combine the broccoli, rice, and cheese sauce. Mix fully. Pour this into a prepared 8×10 casserole pan. Top with the crushed Ritz crackers. Bake uncovered in a 350 degree oven for 30-35 minutes or until top is just browned.




Sauteed spinach and leeks


1 leek – cleaned and chopped just the white parts

4 slices bacon

1 tablespoon butter

salt and pepper

11 ounce package of fresh spinach


Cut the bacon into very small 1/2 inch pieces. Fry the bacon until done. Drain the back and discard the grease.

Leave the bacon out of the pan. On medium heat, add the butter and leek. Saute for about 2-3 minutes. When wilted, add the spinach. Turn constantly and cook about 5-10 minutes or until all of the spinach is wilted. Add the crispy bacon. Salt and pepper to taste.