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.


Baked mushroom barley


I have always enjoyed side dishes that are low maintenance so I can put my time into other things. This dish is filling enough to also be a vegetarian main dish.

3 tablespoons butter

1 onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 pound sliced mushrooms

1 cup pearled barley

2 3/4 cups chicken broth

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

salt and pepper to taste


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a dutch oven, over medium heat, melt the butter. Sauté the onion, garlic, and mushrooms for 5 minutes. Add the barley and cook 2 minutes. Add the chicken broth and thyme. Bring to a boil. Cover and place the dutch oven into the preheated oven. Cook 60-70 minutes without peeking or stirring.

When you first open the dutch oven all of the mushrooms will be on top. Stir and top with parsley.


Cranberry sauce

Cranberries fresh

I grew up eating canned cranberries. Nothing compares to the fresh sauce. It really is easy to make. I use the recipe on the bag of the Ocean Spray cranberries. The only difference is that I add the juice of one lemon at the end after straining the berries. You do not have to strain. This recipe works perfectly either way. I personally prefer a smooth sauce to a lumpy sauce.


1 cup water

1 cup granulated sugar

3 cups fresh cranberries

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice


Place the sugar and water in a large pot on the stove. Cook until boiling.


Now add the cranberries. Here is the fun part for kiddos. They will pop just like popcorn. I recommend a fry screen over the pot to keep the hot sugar from splashing little faces. Here is a photo after one popped.




Boil this on low, stirring often. Add lemon juice at the end.

Here is the labor intensive part (if you do not want skins). Strain the mixture though a mesh collander or food mill. Here is a photo of my setup. Super fancy, right?


I gently mash the craberries through the strainer with a spoon and collect the at the bottom. The sauce keeps in the refrigerator for 14 days and also freezes well.

cranberry sauce

Light and spicy broccoli cheese casserole


OMG! Tis the season for comfort food. I made this up last night. It might be the best broccoli cheese casserole I have ever made. Again…. there is no cream sauce in a can or milk. Just a little butter and cheese.

1.5 cups cooked white rice

1 pound fresh broccoli – steam and chop

4 tablespoons butter

1/2 of a roasted poblano

2 cloves of garlic

5 tablespoons of flour

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

2 cups chicken broth

1 teaspoon white pepper

2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1 cup grated parmesan… not powdered

1 cup of French’s new jalapeno crisps


After I steamed the broccoli and made the rice, I let them cool and worked on the sauce. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the garlic and chopped roasted poblano pepper. Cook about 3-5 minutes. Add in the flour. Slowly…. very slowly…. add the chicken broth stirring constantly so it does not clump. It needs to be added a few tablespoons at a time. Continue stirring constantly until thickened. Add in the onion powder and cheddar cheese. Stir until melted and thickened. Remove from heat. Salt to taste. I added 1 teaspoon. Add in the rice and chopped broccoli. Pour into prepared 8×12 casserole pan. Top with parmesan and then crispy jalapeños. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes.

This was so yummy. I enjoy casserole type foods but I really do not like feeling like I ate a stick of butter or drank a cup of heavy cream. This really satisfied my every need. We served it with simple grilled chicken.