• The Bidens’ Pasta Caprese


    I saw this pasta salad in the September 2010 issue of Food Network Magazine, and I knew I had to try it.  I’ve now made this quite a few times, and I’ve adapted the recipe to our liking.

    It is delicious, and I love the addition of the lemon zest.  It’s a great summer pasta salad, which would be perfect for a picnic or potluck.  We’ll definitely be making this one again.


    • 1/3 c. olive oil
    • 1/2 c. fresh lemon juice
    • 2-3 shallots, minced
    • 3 garlic cloves, pressed through a garlic presser
    • salt and pepper, to taste
    • 1 TBSP sugar
    • 2 lbs. grape tomatoes, halved
    • 1 lb. pasta of your choice (I used radiatore)
    • 12 oz. fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
    • 1/2 c. basil, chopped
    • 1/4 c. mint, chopped
    • zest of 3 lemons


    1. Whisk the olive oil, lemon juice, shallots and garlic in a large bowl.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add sugar.  Add the tomatoes and gently toss.  Marinate at room temperature, about 15 minutes.
    2. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of slated water to a boil.  Add the pasta and cook as the label directs.  Drain in a colander and run under cold water to stop the cooking.
    3. Add the pasta and mozzarella to the tomato mixture and toss.  Stri in the basil, mint, and lemon zest, and season with salt and pepper.
    4. Refrigerate, tossing occasionally until serving.

    The Bidens’ Pasta Caprese:


  • Sangria


    I had a cocktail party this weekend, and boy was it fun.  I made this interesting Sangria that went over really well.  Recipe adapted from Bethenny Frankel.


    • 2-3 peaches, pitted and sliced
    • 2 plums, pitted and sliced
    • 1 c. green grapes, cut in half
    • 2 bottles Prosecco (an Italian sparkling wine–I used a pink variety)
    • 8 oz. Fresca
    • 8 oz. club soda


    1. Mix together and chill for at least 1 hour.
    2. Pour into glass and ladle fruit into glass.



  • Tex-Mex Chowder


    This chowder is quite tasty.  It’s vegetarian, which is nice.  Most chowder recipes have bacon or ham hock in it for flavor, so it was nice to find a recipe without those ingredients.  This chowder had lots of flavor too.

    This recipe comes from The New Vegetarian Grill cookbook.


    • 1 lb. potatoes, peeled and diced
    • 2 c. water or more to cover potatoes
    • 2 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1 tsp. ground cumin
    • 3 TBSP olive oil
    • 6 ears of corn, husks and silks removed
    • 1 red pepper, halved
    • 1 green pepper, halved
    • 2 green chiles (2 poblanos or 1 poblano and 1 jalapeno or 1 poblano and 1 anaheim)
    • 2 c. whole milk
    • 1 TBSP cilantro, chopped
    • salt and pepper to test


    1. Prepare grill
    2. Combine potatoes and water in a medium size saucepan.  Bring to a boil and boil until the potatoes are tender, about 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and set aside; do not drain.
    3. Combine garlic, cumin, and oil in a small bowl. Brush the mixture on the corn, bell peppers, and chiles.
    4. Grill the corn, bell peppers, and chiles, turning occasionally, until tender and grill marked about 10 minutes.
    5. Scrape the corn from the cobs and add to the pot with potatoes.  Remove the outer skins from all peppers and dice, then add to potatoes.  Stir in the milk and cilantro.  Simmer over medium heat until the flavors have blended, at least 15 minutes; do not allow the soup to boil.
    6. Use an immersion blender and puree.  Season with salt and add more cilantro if desired.  Simmer gently for 5 minutes.

    Tex-Mex Chowder:


  • Easy Peasy Hamentashen


    This hamentashen recipe is so easy.  I’ve got a family recipe that calls for the dough to be refrigerated overnight, and whenever I look at that recipe I just want to make these cookies right now!  So this easy recipe is perfect and tasty too!

    This recipe is from allrecipes.com.

    • 1 (18.25 oz.) package moist yellow cake mix
    • 1 c. all-purpose flour
    • 2 eggs
    • 2 TBSP water
    • 1 c. pie filling or Solo filling, any flavor


    1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Grease cookie sheets or use parchment paper.
    2. In a large bowl, mix together the cake mix and flour. Stir in the eggs and water to form a stiff dough. On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out to 1/8 inch thickness. Cut into 3 inch round circles and place 2 inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheets. Place a teaspoon of filling into the center of each cookie and pinch the sides to form three corners. Moisten with water if necessary.
    3. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes in the preheated oven, or until lightly browned. Allow cookies to cool for 1 minute on the cookie sheets before removing to wire racks to cool completely.

    Easy Peasy Hamentashen:

  • Curried Beef


    This crock pot dinner is really tasty, and the leftovers were delicious too.  The recipe comes from the March 2009 issue of Cooking Light. I thought the original recipe called for way too much salt, so I didn’t add the salt, other than to season the beef prior to searing it, and boy am I glad that I omitted the rest of the salt, because the dish was plenty salty.  My advice is to use the salt sparingly, because you can always add more after the dish is finished crocking.

    The recipe calls for beef short ribs, but I used just a boneless chuck roast, and it worked just fine.  If your meat cut doesn’t have a bone, then I’d reduce the cooking time.


    • 2  tsp. canola oil
    • 2  lbs. short ribs or boneless chuck roast, trimmed
    • salt and pepper
    • 1/3  c. minced shallots
    • 3  TBSP minced garlic
    • 3  TBSP minced peeled fresh ginger
    • 1/4  c.  water
    • 2  TBSP red curry paste
    • 1 can of light coconut milk
    • 1  TBSP sugar
    • 1  TBSP fish sauce
    • 1  TBSP grated lime rind
    • 1  TBSP  fresh lime juice
    • Hot rice


    1. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle ribs with salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper. Add half of ribs to pan; cook 2 minutes on each side or until browned. Place ribs in an electric slow cooker. Repeat procedure with remaining ribs.
    2. Add shallots, garlic, and ginger to pan; sauté 2 minutes. Stir in 1/4 cup water and curry paste; cook 1 minute. Stir in coconut milk, sugar, and fish sauce. Add coconut milk mixture to cooker. Cover and cook on LOW 6 hours.  If using boneless chuck roast cover and cook on LOW 4-5 hours.
    3. Remove ribs from cooker; keep warm. Pour cooking liquid into a zip-top plastic bag and place bag inside a 2-cup glass measuring cup. Pour cooking liquid; let stand 10 minutes (fat will rise to the top). Seal bag; carefully snip off 1 bottom corner of bag. Drain drippings into a small bowl, stopping before fat layer reaches opening; discard fat. Stir in lime rind and juice, taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary. Shred rib meat with 2 forks; discard bones. Serve sauce over ribs and rice.

    Curried Beef:


  • Crock Pot Turkey Chili


    This chili is so delicious.  It can be made completely on the stove or once assembled it can be simmered away in the crock pot.  I used my crock pot, and this chili is awesome.  It is thick and hearty and delicious.  I used ground turkey, but you could certainly use ground chicken or beef.


    • 1 medium onion, chopped
    • 1 TBSP   vegetable oil
    • 4  garlic cloves, chopped
    • 1  lb.  ground turkey
    • 2  TBSP chili powder (I used 1 TBSP chili powder and 1 TBSP ancho chili powder
    • 2  tsp. ground cumin
    • 3  TBSP  tomato paste
    • 5-6 dark chocolate Hershey kisses
    • 3  (14-oz.) cans of chili ready tomatoes diced tomatoes (2 cans fire roasted tomatoes and 1 can of Mexican stewed tomatoes)
    • 1  (16-oz.) can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
    • 1/2 c. water
    • Top with shredded cheese


    1. Sauté chopped onion in hot oil in a large Dutch oven or skillet over medium-high heat 5 minutes or until tender; add garlic, and sauté 1 minute.
    2. Add turkey, chili powder and cumin, cooking for 8 minutes or until meat crumbles and is no longer pink.  Then add the tomato paste, and cook 2 minutes. Add chocolate, tomatoes, beans and water, stir to combine.
    3. Stove top recipe: Bring mixture to a boil and cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes. Top with shredded cheese.
    4. Crock pot recipe: add everything to your crock pot.  Cook on high for 2 hours (more time won’t hurt it) or on low for 4 hours (more time won’t hurt it). Top with shredded cheese.

    Crock Pot Turkey Chili:


  • Fried Rice


    Here’s a great recipe for leftover chicken or turkey or use a rotisserie chicken. The leftovers are great too!

    The recipe is adapted from the November 2009 issue of Southern Living.


    • 2 TBSP vegetable oil, divided
    • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
    • 1/2 c. diced onion
    • 1/2 c. diced red bell pepper
    • 1 c. cooked chicken, cut up
    • 1 1/2 c. frozen mixed vegetables, partially cooked
    • 3 c. cooked rice
    • 1/4 c. soy sauce
    • 1 tsp. Asian chili-garlic sauce


    1. Heat 1 TBSP oil in large skillet over medium high heat; add eggs, and gently stir 1 minute or until softly scrambled.  Remove eggs from skillet and chop.
    2. Heat remaining 2 TBSP oil in skillet; add onion and bell pepper, and stir-fry 3 minutes.  Add cooked chicken and mixed vegetables; stir fry 2 minutes.  Add rice, soy sauce, and chili-garlic sauce; stir fry 5 minutes or until throughly heated.  Stir in eggs.

    Fried Rice:


  • Chili Gravy


    This chili gravy is delicious and works well as a sauce for tamales or enchiladas.  The secret to this gravy is making your own chili powder.
    The recipe comes for Rob Walsh’s Tex-Mex Cookbook.

    Homemade Chili Powder

    • 5 whole ancho chile pods, stemmed and seeded
    • 1 tsp. dried Mexican oregano
    • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
    • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin


    1. Spread the chile pods out flat.  Toast the chiles in a skillet over medium high heat until they become aromatic, then remove and cool.
    2. Cut the chiles into small strips with scissors.  In a spice or coffee grinder, grind the strips in several batches until powdered.  Combine the powdered chile, oregano, garlic powder, and cumin in a bowl.  Grind the coarse powder in batches for an additional 2 minutes or until finely ground.
    3. Store in an airtight container until ready to use.

    Chili Gravy

    • 1/4 c. vegetable oil
    • 1/4 c. flour
    • 1/2 tsp. pepper
    • 1 tsp. salt
    • 1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
    • 2 tsp. ground cumin
    • 1/2 tsp. Mexican oregano
    • 2 TBSP chili powder
    • 2 c. chicken broth or water


    1. Heat the oil in a skillet over medium high heat.  Stir in the flour and continue stirring for 3 to 4 minutes, utnil it makes a light brown roux.  Add all the dry ingredients and continue to cook for 1 minute, constantly stirring and blending the ingredients.  Add the chicken broth, mixing and stirring until the sauce thickens.
    2. Turn the heat to low and let the sauce simmer for 15 minutes.  Add water to adjust the thickness.

    Chili Gravy:


  • Easy Chicken and Dumplings


    This is a tasty, hearty, and super easy version of the slow cooked classic: chicken and dumplings.  Be sure to use low sodium broth, and if you don’t I would suggest using half broth half water, otherwise it will be too salty (trust me–there is plenty of salt in the rotisserie chicken, cream of chicken soup, and dumplings).

    This dish makes for a great weeknight meal, as it only took about 30 minutes to prepare, and that’s from start to finish!

    Recipe is adapted from the January 2010 issue of Southern Living.


    • 4 c. LOW SODIUM chicken broth
    • 3 c. shredded chicken (rotisserie chicken)
    • 1 10.75 oz. can reduced fat cream of chicken soup
    • 1/2 tsp. poultry seasoning
    • 1 10.2 oz. can refrigerated jumbo buttermilk biscuits
    • 1 c. carrots, diced
    • 1 c. celery, diced
    • pepper, to taste


    1. Bring first 4 ingredients to a boil in a Dutch oven over medium high heat.  Cover and reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes.  Increase heat to medium-high and return to a low boil.
    2. Place biscuits on a lightly floured surface. Roll or pat each biscuit to 1/8 inch thickness; cut into 1/2 inch wide strips.
    3. Drop strips, 1 at a time, into boiling broth mixture.  Add carrots and celery. Cover and reduce heat to low, and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent dumplings from sticking.
    4. Season with pepper.

    Easy Chicken and Dumplings:


  • Black Beans and Rice


    Black beans and rice are a great winter food.  They are warming and very filling.  They are also very healthy.  The key to this dish is to soak the black beans in water over night.


    • 1 lb. dried black beans
    • water
    • 1 onion, chopped
    • 7 garlic cloves, smashed
    • 1-2 jalapenos, diced (can omit)
    • 2 TBSP dried oregano
    • 6-7 c. chicken or veggie broth
    • Hot cooked Rice
    • Pico de gallo to top the dish (simply mix some tomatoes, onion, cilantro, garlic, salt and lime juice together)


    1. Place black beans in a pot and cover them with water and soak overnight.
    2. Place soaked beans, onion, garlic, jalapenos, oregano, and broth in a slow cooker, and cook on HIGH for 6 hours or until beans are soft and tender.  Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
    3. Serve over hot rice and top with pico de gallo.

    Black Beans and Rice: