What is not to love about Mac N Cheese?  Add in some extra lean ground beef, some tasty seasonings, and best of all....everything goes into 1 pot.  A quick and easy meal in one go.  With this dish, I used a 3 1/2 quart dutch oven so you will want something at least that size.

Speaking of Dutch dear husband recently gifted me with this Lodge pre seasoned dutch oven that I had been coveting.  The lid is also a separate  frying pan.


For this recipe you could include a 14 oz. well drained can of diced tomatoes which would be a lovely addition too.

1 lb. extra lean ground beef

1 large shallot, minced

1 large garlic clove, minced

1/4 cup chopped small red or green pepper

2 Tblsp. chili powder

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

salt and pepper to taste

2 Tblsp. tomato paste

2 cups stock - can easily use:  chicken, beef, or vegetable stock whatever you have on hand

2 cups milk - we use Lactose free 2 %

1 pack of Tinkyada Brown Rice Elbow Pasta (340 grams)

1 1/2 cups aged cheddar cheese - we used 1/2 white, 1/2 orange cheddar

Heat up the dutch oven on low medium heat with the extra lean ground beef.  (no need for added oil)  Break apart the beef well with a spoon.  Brown about 5 minutes, then add in the shallot, garlic, red or green pepper and continue to saute 8-10 min.  Add in the seasonings, and tomato paste mixing well to incorporate, continue to saute for 5 minutes.

Add in the stock and milk, and pasta - mixing well.  Cover with the lid cracked and turn down the heat to a low simmer, stirring occasionally.  Cook for 12-14 min. until the pasta is cooked el dente.   Add the cheddar cheeses mixing well, serve hot....will be even yummier with leftovers tomorrow.



Hello everyone!

Long long time no write no hear.  These last few years have been quite a ride...working full on 5-6 days a week, keeping a business going in the past 8 years has been a labor of luv for sure.  Then fast forward to March 2020 and Covid hit.  During the past 8 years of extreme "business" I have posted very few recipes but do hope to post more down the road.

Now with the reality of Covid... sadly, but also not so sadly, I have shut down my business.  When push came to shove, I realized a few things.

First, I could not adequately meet our health guidelines for returning to work in a safe manner for everyone.  Secondly, I am only a few years away from retirement, and while I would have liked to have had a few more years in the work force, it was not meant to be and after some adjustment it suites me totally fine.  That said, here we are today in a most strange, strange world.  A world that no one could have even dreamed about!

It is with much gratitude and hope that everyone I know out there in our worlds are well and safe.

With all going on in this incredible world of ours....I look to comfort food....always comfort food, plus this is an easy healthy meal to make.

Now, while this is technically not Vegetarian, it so could be.  I used Chicken stock, but using Vegetable stock would make this Vegan/Vegetarian so use what suits you best!

2 Tblsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1/4 of a small red pepper - roughly chopped

1/2 of a red onion - chopped

2 large garlic cloves, minced

1 carrot, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces

1/2 of a celery stalk, chopped into 1/4 inch pieces

3/4 cup red lentils - rinse well in a sieve

3 potatoes or roughly 2  1/2 cups chopped potatoes cut into 1  1/2 inch size - I used German Butter Potatoes (use potatoes that will not turn mushy)

1/2 cup chopped fresh green beans - or frozen will work

3/4 cup chopped frozen spinach

1  1/2 cups chicken stock - add more if necessary *

salt to taste

2 tsp. curry powder - I used a Madra style curry, but any curry powder of your choice will work here

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. onion powder *

*NOTES:  If needed add more chicken or vegetable stock - the potatoes need to be just covered, but depending on the potatoes used you might need to add more liquid.

Onion Powder.  For whatever reason, I can not find onion powder in my neck of the woods.  So, here I have taken dried onion flakes and run them through a coffee grinder to reach a fine powder - onion powder - and it works great!


Heat up a good sized pot on low medium heat with the EVOO.  Add the onion, garlic, red pepper sauteing a good 3 min.  Then add in the celery, carrot, green beans, season with salt and continue to saute another 3 min. or so.  Add in the curry powder, garlic, and onion powder, stirring to blend and continue to saute for 5 min.

Add in the rinsed red lentils, veggie or chicken stock, frozen chopped spinach, potatoes, and stir to combine.  Bring to a lite simmer, lid on for 15 min. stirring occasionally.  After 15 min, take the lid off, and continue to simmer another 5 min. or so (to help reduce if there is too much liquid) and to cook until the lentils and potatoes are cooked through.  Check for salt/seasonings, and serve hot.  A nice gluten free bread tops this meal off.  This recipe serves 2-3 portions, and can certainly be doubled.  The next day leftovers will be even better!



This is a quick easy dish to make if you need to use up the last of the summer zucchinis.  With this dish you could use store bought pesto and marinara sauce or you can make your own.  For the marinara sauce I used this one.  If you make homemade there will be leftover sauce that can be frozen for another use.
2 large zucchinis, sliced 1/4 inch thick- first cut the ends off to carefully slice lengthwise
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 cups chopped swiss chard
1 cup cottage cheese - we use lactose free
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
6 big Tblsp. pesto
1 egg - whisk well
Salt and pepper to taste
marinara sauce
gluten free bread crumbs
grated Parmesan cheese
Heat up a frying pan on low medium heat with a good drizzle of EVOO.  Add the chopped swiss chard, and saute until tender, about 8 minutes, then transfer to a bowl to cool.
Add more EVOO to the pan and turn the heat to medium.  Add in batches the sliced zucchini lightly browning each side about 2 1/2 min. per side, and transfer to a plate.  While doing this heat up the marinara on a low simmer.
Then add the cottage cheese, beaten egg, pesto, 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper to the swiss chard mixing well.  To a casserole dish, spread a layer of marinara sauce and top with a few zucchini slices.  Then add a layer of the swiss chard/cottage cheese mixture, a handful of gluten free bread crumbs, and a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.  Repeat the layers using up all of the zucchini finishing with the bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, bake uncovered about 30-40 min. until bubbly and golden.

With all of the lovely summer vegetables available this was a simple tasty dish.  It is a replica - sort of, of a recipe I saw somewhere but seem to have lost.  So, it took some " brain storming" with my not so great memory, some liberty with ingredients and luckily it turned out delicious.  Thank you to whoever came up with this similar recipe, it was delicious! Italian Polenta is always such good comfort food regardless of what the ingredients are.
A word about corn:  Some celiac's have trouble digesting corn - myself being one of them.  However, I have learned by trial and painful error I can eat corn if it is organic.  And I seem fine with cooked polenta.  Having said this, it is a food I do not eat large amounts of as corn is hard to digest for anyone.  This dish would be lovely with fresh organic corn - something hard to find in my area, so have used organic canned corn in place of.  Homemade fresh pesto is a lovely addition, but a good organic store bought one will do in a pinch.  Also, for a vegetarian dish use vegetable stock.
1 pint organic grape tomatoes
1 cup chopped yellow organic zucchini - slice in rounds 1/8th inch thick then cut into fours
1/2 cup of red onion roughly sliced
1/2 tsp. dried basil
2 Tblsp. Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
few good splashes of Balsamic Vinegar
salt and fresh cracked pepper
Heat the oven to 450 degrees.  Toss all of the ingredients into a bowl then transfer to a baking dish.
Roast 20 minutes and remove from the oven and set aside.
Swiss Chard:
2 cups organic swiss chard leaves cut finely into ribbons
5 minced garlic cloves
juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 Tblsp. EVOO
salt and pepper to taste
Heat up a saute pan on low/medium heat with the EVOO.  Add the minced garlic to the pan, saute until fragrant - a minute or 2.  Add in the chard and saute for 3 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste, add the fresh lemon juice and continue to saute for 2-3 more minutes.  Remove to heat, and gently combine with the tomato/zucchini mixture.  Place in the oven on the lowest temperature to keep just warm.
1 cup Polenta
4 cups chicken stock
salt - enough added to the stock to taste salty - polenta needs salt
2/3 cup Parmesan cheese
1 tblsp. butter
341 ml or 12 oz. organic canned corn - drain well
Add the chicken stock to a pot and season well with salt.  Bring to a boil and slowly add the polenta whisking well.  Turn down to low on a light simmer.  Frequently stir so it does not stick to the bottom of the pan.  This will want to cook for a good 30 minutes, if needed add splashes of water to keep from drying out.  At the 30 min. mark add the drained canned corn stirring well to incorporate, then the Parmesan cheese and butter, again stir well.
Remove from the heat, and plate, then add a big spoon full of the roasted tomato/zucchini/chard on top of the polenta and garnish with pesto.  Serve hot and enjoy!

Who knew meatloaf gravy could taste soooo good?  I have been craving meatloaf for days now.  We have had the craziest weather - at one point we were sitting at 29 degrees Celsius, out came all of our fans.  Then it dropped back down to 11 - 13 degrees!  So time for meatloaf.  There are a number of meatloaf recipes on this blog, but I decided to use a basic, stand by recipe.  Having never made gravy with meatloaf before, we were happily surprised at how delicious it was.
I had not intended this to be a recipe, so have created this one from memory in terms of ingredients... I may fine tune it down the road.  Either way, I am sure it will still be delicious.
1  1/2 lbs. extra lean ground beef
1/2 an onion diced fine
a good large handful of Parmesan Cheese
1 Tblsp. gluten free Worcestershire sauce
salt and generous amount of fresh cracked pepper
1 egg
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2/3 cup ketchup
3 Tblsp. mustard
Mix sauce make more reddish in color add more ketchcup
In a bowl add the ground beef, onion, Parmesan Cheese, salt pepper and egg.  Add a good 1/4 cup of the sauce.  Mix well with hands if dry add more sauce and shape into a loaf - you want it on the moist side, place inside a 9x10 glass baking dish.  Pour remainder of sauce over top of the meatloaf to cover.  Bake in a preheated oven 350 degrees for 1 hour - then check with a thermometer.  Mine was at 155 degrees when I removed it from the oven and plated the meatloaf on a tented platter with tin foil.  It will reach 165 by the time it is ready to be served.
1 1/2 cups chicken stock - beef would work too
splash of balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. dried sage
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste
4 largish cremini mushrooms - chopped
1 large shallot, cut in half and sliced
2 Tblsp. butter
splash of fresh cream - we use lactose free
renderings from meatloaf
1 tblsp. cornstarch, bit of water to make a slurry
Heat up a medium sized frying pan on medium heat with the butter.  Add the shallots, sauteing 2 min.  Then add in the mushrooms and continue to saute until the mushrooms are lightly golden.  Pour in the chicken stock, meatloaf renderings and add the seasonings and bay leaf bringing to a light simmer.  Simmer a good 10 min. low heat.
Mix up a cornstarch slurry with a little water and add to the simmering stock/mushrooms whisking well to thicken.  Turn to low, check for seasonings, remove the bay leaf, and add the splash of cream, stirring well, then serve over meatloaf and potatoes adding a side dish of vegetables and serve.  Enjoy!

Here is another chicken recipe from yesteryear.  I have not thought about this recipe in what feels like 100 years!  When you have to give up any dairy that contains lactose it is surprising how many recipes go by the wayside.   Now we can actually buy Lactose Free Cream, and have been able to do so for some time now - a wonderful once in a while treat whether your dish is savory or sweet.  As a result, all of those yesteryear recipes are popping back into my memory!  If dairy is not an option for you, this would work well with full fat coconut milk.
4 skinless/boneless chicken breasts
season breasts with:  salt, pepper, a sprinkling of garlic powder and paprika then set aside
2 Tblsp. Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 1/2 cups chicken stock
2 Tblsp. Balsamic Vinegar (the original recipe calls for 1/2 cup of white dry wine)
1/2 a large onion, sliced in half, then into quarters
4 large crimini mushrooms, sliced in half, slice again
4 minced garlic cloves
1 tsp. dried rubbed sage
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 1/2 tsp. dijon mustard
1 bay leaf
1/2 cup lactose free whipping cream or full fat coconut milk
2 tsp. cornstarch
2/3 cup grated fresh Asiago cheese
2 Tblsp. butter
Heat up a non stick skillet on medium high heat with the EVOO.  Season the chicken breasts, and fry each chicken breast about 4 min. per side.  Remove to a dish and set aside.  Turn down the heat to medium low, and add in the butter.
Add in the mushrooms - sauteing a good 5 minutes until golden.  Then add in the onion, garlic, sage, thyme and continue to saute for another 5-7 minutes.  Pour in the chicken stock, balsamic vinegar, and add in the dijon mustard stirring well.  Return the chicken to the pan and cook lid on for 5 minutes.  Remove the lid and continue to cook for 7 more minutes until chicken is cooked through.  Remove the chicken to a plate and set aside.
Add the corn starch to the cream mixing to remove any lumps.  Pour into the sauce stirring well.  Remove the bay leaf, add the Asiago cheese, mixing well.  Return the chicken to the pan and simmer 5 more minutes.  Serve with any side dish - mashed potatoes, rice or vegetables.

There is something about the combination of chicken, rice, mushrooms and broccoli in a casserole that is pure comfort food.  Back in the day, we used to make the old recipe that used canned cream of mushroom soup for chicken and rice casserole.   I have yet to find a good store bought dairy free, gluten free cream of mushroom soup.  If you have the time, homemade mushroom soup in this recipe would be wonderful - just adjust liquid/rice ratio.  While this recipe does not use cream of mushroom soup, it is a yummy casserole dish for those days when comfort food is beckoning.
With this recipe, I took some guidelines from here - then made a few adjustments/additions so will do a re-cap here.
8 skinless organic chicken thighs - bone in
Season blend for chicken:
2 Tblsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 1/2 tsp. Paprika
1 1/2 tsp. Garlic Powder
3/4  tsp. Italian Seasoning
salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
Mix ingredients in a small bowl, place chicken onto a plate and slather the season blend onto the chicken thighs rubbing in well, then put aside
1 1/2 cups basmatti rice - rinse and drain well
2  3/4 cup chicken stock
2 Tblsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4-5 crimini mushrooms, diced
1 generous cup broccoli florets, cut small
1/2 a celery stalk, diced
5 minced garlic cloves
1 chopped onion
2 Tblsp. each:  fresh Italian Parsley, fresh Basil - minced
salt and pepper
grated Parmesan Cheese
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Heat up a medium sized frying pan on low medium heat with a good drizzle of EVOO.  Add in the mushrooms, garlic, broccoli, celery and season with salt and pepper.  Saute 2 min. then cover with a lid - stirring a couple of times for 5 more minutes.  Remove from the heat, and add in the fresh minced Italian Parsley and Basil and mix.
Lightly oil a large square casserole/roasting pan/dish 10X13 approx. with EVOO.  Pour in the chicken stock, add in the rice stirring lightly to make even, then sprinkle in the chopped onion, and mixed vegetables.  Lay the seasoned chicken thighs on top and cover with foil.  Bake for 45 minutes.  Remove from the oven and take off the foil adding a good sprinkling of grated Parmesan Cheese through out and bake 20 more minutes.

Oh how I love Italian Food. What I love is, Italians keep their food simple, without any fuss or complex ingredients, always using fresh ingredients and as a result their food is always delicious.  Jamie Oliver once said he was born in the wrong country....I very much think the same thing!
This recipe was quick, easy, elegant and delicious.  What makes this dish so easy is you can make up the polenta the day before or the morning of.  You can also use leftover marinara sauce or use a store bought jar of marinara if you are in a crunch for time.
How this recipe came about is years ago we had this dinner in a restaurant and I fell in love with it.  That was back in the day when I did not know anything about anything in regards to cooking.  However, I never, never forgot about this wonderful meal. This dish would be wonderful cut into smaller portions as an appetizer too.  Anyways, for whatever reason, this recipe popped into my head the other day and I thought .... yes .... it is time to give it a go.  So happy to go down memory lane...and how delicious it was too.
1 cup of milk (we use 2% lactose free)
2 cups water (plus keep extra water on hand)
1 Bay leaf
salt - be generous
1 cup polenta
1/2 cup Parmeasan cheese
Combine milk, water, generous amount of salt to season, and bay leaf in a good sized pot.  Bring to the boil on low medium heat.  Add in the polenta - whisk well, then turn down to a good simmer.  Now using a wooden spoon continue to stir well.  Keep stirring for a good 30 minutes.  I added in total at least an extra 1/2 cup of water a bit at a time continuing to stir.  When it feels smooth to taste remove from the heat and add in the Parmesan cheese mixing well.
Lightly oil an  8 1/2 x 12 inch glass casserole dish with Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  Transfer the cooked polenta to the casserole dish spreading out evenly.  Allow to cool 20 min. then refrigerate until 30 minutes before it is to go into the oven.
one  796 ml/28oz can of organic crushed tomatoes with basil
Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 minced garlic cloves
fresh cracked pepper
2  generous Tblsp. finely chopped Italian Parsley, and fresh Basil
Heat up a sauce pan of low heat with the EVOO.  Add in the minced garlic, and fresh cracked pepper.  Saute until fragrant - a minute or 2.  Pour in the crushed tomatoes, and add the finely chopped parsley and basil stirring to combine.  Take the casserole dish of polenta out of the fridge and put aside.  Keep the marinara on a low simmer, stirring occasionally for 30 min. and remove from the heat.
Other ingredients:
130 grams herb crusted goat cheese
Grated Parmesan Cheese
10 asparagus spears - cut in half
While the marinara is simmering, blanch the asparagus for 1  1/2 min. drain and add to a bowl of very cold water to stop the cooking process.  Drain well and pat dry with paper towel.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Add a few generous ladle fulls of marinara sauce on top of the polenta - spreading evenly.  Then a generous layer of grated Parmesan cheese, topping with the blanched asparagus.  Sprinkle the crumbled goat cheese through out the dish.  Bake for 20 minutes, then turn on the broiler for another 2-3 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let sit 10 minutes.
To plate:  Add a small ladle full of marinara sauce to your plate, then add a slice of the baked Polenta Asparagus Goat Cheese.  It is amazing how a few simple fresh ingredients can create a delicious wonderful meal.  Enjoy!  We sure did.