Spiced Lentil Soup With Bacon

lentil-soupI made this soup on a rainy and windy day. And boy, can I tell you that it hit the spot! Nothing like a hot bowl of soup with just a little kick of curry to warm your tummy. For my vegetarian friends, use vegetable broth and skip the bacon and add 1 cup of chopped kale or collard greens instead.


  • 3-4 slices of thick cut bacon, cut into thin slices or cubes
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 can (14.5 ounce) diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup brown or green lentils
  • 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • chopped fresh parsley or celery leaves for garnish


  1. Fry the bacon in a large pot over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the fat is rendered and the bacon is crisp.  About 4-5 minutes. Drain the fat.
  2. Add the olive oil, onions and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and translucent. About 5 minutes.
  3. Add the carrots, garlic, curry powder and thyme, stirring constantly and cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute until the garlic is fragrant.
  4. Add in the diced tomatoes and cook for a few minutes, stirring often.
  5. Pour in the lentils and the chicken stock. Season generously with fresh ground black pepper.
  6. Raise heat and bring to a boil.
  7. Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 45-50 minutes or until the lentils are tender.
  8. Transfer 2 cups of soup to a blender. Protect your hand from the steam with a kitchen towel placed over lid and purée the soup until smooth.
  9. Pour the puréed soup back into the pot. Stir and cook for 1-2 minutes more.
  10. If you are making this vegetarian style, now is the time to add 1 cup chopped kale or collard greens and cook for 5 minutes more or until your greens are tender.
  11. Serve with chopped parsley or celery leaves.


Chocolate Chip Zucchini Bread Mini Loaves

chocolate-chip-zucchini-bread-2Believe it or not, this is actually a skinny recipe. And the best part is that it doesn’t taste like a skinny recipe. This zucchini bread tastes like a rich, decadent chocolate cake. But since it is made with Greek yogurt and grated zucchini, it is actually not that bad for you. Can’t complain about that.  Don’t believe me? Try it for yourself. I made these into 3 mini loaves. You can make using one regular size loaf pan instead.


  • 1 cup flour
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 (6 ounce) container plain Greek yogurt, excess liquid drained
  • 1 1/2 cups grated zucchini (about 2 medium sized ones)
  • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips tossed in 1/2 tablespoon of flour


  1. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees. Grease mini loaf pans with baking spray. (Or full size loaf pan)
  2. In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
  3. Put grated zucchini in a clean kitchen towel and squeeze out excess liquid.
  4. In a mixing bowl, beat sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla extract until blended. About 1-2 minutes. Add yogurt and mix until combined.
  5. Stir in the flour mixture a little at a time until combined with wet ingredients.
  6. Stir in the zucchini and chocolate chips.
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pans.
  8. Bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean.
  9. Cool for 10 minutes in loaf pan, then remove from pan and finish cooling on baking rack before cutting and serving.


Pulled Pork Tacos with Pineapple Pico De Gallo

pulled-pork-taco-2Everyday is taco day in my house. But how about a little sweet and spicy kick?  Tex Mex meets Hawaiian and this is the end result. The slow cooker does most of the work, you get all the credit. Can’t beat that!


  • 4 pounds pork shoulder
  • 1 cup barbecue sauce
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 6 tablespoons fresh lime juice (3 limes)
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 can (20 ounces) pineapple chunks or fresh if available
  • 1 small white or red onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely diced
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 1 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red peppers (optional)
  • 1 cup shredded red cabbage
  • 20  small corn tortillas


  1. In a 6 quart slow cooker add pork shoulder.
  2. In a large bowl, add barbecue sauce, brown sugar, lime juice (reserve 1 tablespoon for the pineapple pico de gallo), cayenne pepper, chili powder and garlic powder. Mix together to form a paste and spread evenly over pork shoulder.
  3. Cook on low for 8 to 9 hours; or you can cook on high for 5 to 6 hours. Shred when done cooking. pulled-pork-in-crockpot
  4. When your pork is ready, assemble the pineapple pico de gallo.
  5. Slice the pineapple chunks into smaller pieces and place in large bowl. Add the diced onions, jalapeno pepper, tomatoes, cilantro and reserved 1 tablespoon of lime juice. If you can handle the extra heat, add the crushed red peppers to the bowl. pineapple-salsa
  6. Top your tortillas with pulled pork, pineapple pico de gallo and shredded cabbage.
  7. Garnish with lime wedges. pulled-pork-taco-1

You can also change this recipe into pulled pork sliders by substituting Hawaiian bread rolls for the corn tortillas. pulled-pork-slider

Frijoles Charros (Mexican Cowboy Beans)

frijoles-charrosI’ve been on a Mexican food kick lately. Whenever I eat something at any restaurant, I always think to myself, “I wonder what they used to make this?” I’ve had these beans numerous times at my favorite Mexican restaurant. And I finally decided to try to recreate their recipe, but of course make it as easy and simple as possible. They turned out delicious! I hope you enjoy these as much as I did. For my vegetarian friends, substitute with seitan bacon or use a few drops of liquid smoke and use vegetable broth instead of beef broth.


  • 4-5 slices of bacon, chopped into small strips
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, diced
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 2 (15 ounce) cans pinto beans, undrained
  • 1 1/2 cups beef broth


  1. Over medium high heat, add bacon pieces to large saucepan. Stir bacon pieces 2-3 minutes until mostly cooked. Drain excess fat from pan.
  2. Add diced onion, jalapeno, garlic, cilantro and tomatoes to bacon in pan. Stir until combined.
  3. Next add pinto beans and beef broth. Stir well and bring liquid to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour.
  5. Garnish with additional cilantro and serve as either the main course or a side dish.



Cilantro Lime Chicken and Rice

cilantro-lime-chicken-and-rice-platedI love a one pot dish. Less mess, less to clean. So keep it simple and stop there I tell myself. But alas, I always have to go an extra step. Why not make an avocado cilantro dressing to garnish this chicken with? You could make a double batch of the dressing and save the extra for your salads. If you are going to give yourself extra things to clean, might as well make it worth your while. Plus you have half an avocado left to use. Just saying….


  • 2-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup uncooked white rice
  • 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
  • 2 cups chicken stock (or broth)
  • 1/3 cup chopped cilantro, reserve a teaspoon for garnish
  • juice of 2 limes


  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup cilantro leaves and stems
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon of lime juice


  1. Be sure to use a covered skillet for this recipe. Melt butter over medium high heat. Once butter is melted, add chicken and cook 2 minutes on each side until lightly browned. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
  2. Add rice and garlic to skillet and stir for 1-2 minutes until garlic is fragrant.
  3. Add chicken stock, cilantro and lime juice. Stir until combined. cilantro-lime-chicken-and-rice-1
  4. Place chicken breasts on top of the rice mixture. Cover skillet with lid and reduce heat to medium low. Cook for 25 minutes until chicken and rice is fully cooked and liquid is absorbed. cilantro-lime-chicken-and-rice-2
  5. While the chicken breasts and rice are cooking, prepare your dressing.
  6. Add all dressing ingredients to your food processor or blender. cilantro-lime-chicken-and-rice-3
  7. Pulse until smooth. Add more water or lime juice if needed. cilantro-lime-chicken-and-rice-4
  8. When chicken and rice are ready, drizzle dressing over chicken and sprinkle with reserved cilantro. Dress with sliced limes for more flair.


Chicken Zoodle Soup

chicken-zoodle-soupHere in Northern California, our September weather has been exceptionally warm. We were in the low 90’s the last few weeks. But today we were only in the 70’s. And being the typical weather spoiled Californian, it felt cold to me. I wanted soup. Actually, it gave me an excuse to try out my new vegetable spiralizer and make zucchini noodle soup. Or “zoodles” as the foodies call them. For my vegetarian friends, like Sue T., omit the chicken breasts and substitute with vegetable stock.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • handful of baby carrots (about 6-8) sliced into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 8 ounces of sliced baby bella mushrooms
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 tablespoon poultry seasoning
  • 1/2 cup chopped parsley, reserve some for garnish
  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2-3 zucchinis, spiralized into noodle shapes and cut into desired length
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Add olive oil to large pot over medium high heat. When oil begins to ripple, add onions, celery, carrots and mushrooms. Stir for 2-3 minutes until vegetables soften.
  2. Add minced garlic to vegetables. Stir for 1 minute, until garlic become fragrant.
  3. Next add the chicken stock, poultry seasoning and most of the chopped parsley. Stir until combined.
  4. Add chicken breasts. Once liquid begins to boil, lower heat to simmer for 1 hour or until chicken is cooked through and tender.
  5. Remove chicken and carefully shred into bite sized pieces. Return shredded chicken to pot. Stir to combine.
  6. Meanwhile, spiralize the zucchini. Cut into smaller noodle lengths, unless you want extra long noodles.
  7. Turn heat back up to medium high.  Add zucchini noodles (zoodles) to soup. Stir and let zoodles cook for 1-2 minutes.
  8. Serve with reserved parsley. Salt and pepper to taste.


Shredded Chicken Tacos

chicken-tacos-flour-tortillasTaco Tuesday? It’s taco any day in my house. And when I have all the ingredients in my refrigerator, then I like to go all out and make it taco fiesta night. I like using warmed flour tortillas, but my son likes the corn tortillas. So I always have both types on hand. This recipe makes enough for 12 well packed tacos. Which tortilla type do you like to use to make your tacos?


  • 3 chicken breasts
  • 1 cup your favorite salsa
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 red or white onion, diced
  • 1 cup cilantro, diced
  • 2-3 Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and finely diced
  • 1/2 lime
  • 1 cup shredded red cabbage
  • 1 cup shredded Romaine lettuce
  • 1 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese
  • Mexican Crema to garnish (you can substitute with sour cream)
  • Cotija cheese to garnish
  • 12 flour or corn fajita sized (or smaller)  tortillas


  1. In a covered skillet or pot, add chicken breasts, salsa and water. Turn heat on high until liquid begins to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 45-50 minutes, or until chicken breasts become tender and shred easily. Shred chicken using two forks and set aside in a bowl.
  2. In another bowl, make a pico de gallo, by adding diced onions, cilantro, tomatoes and jalapenos. Then squeeze half of a lime into the pico de gallo and mix well.
  3. Add shredded cabbage and lettuce together in yet another bowl.
  4. Place Mexican blend cheese in a final bowl.
  5. Warm up tortillas. For the flour ones, I just wrap in damp paper towels and microwave for 30-45 seconds. For the corn tortillas, I heat up over my stove gas burners about 10 seconds per side and flip a few rotations until they bubble up a little and get char marks.
  6. Build your tacos. Lay down the tortilla. Add shredded chicken. Then add pico de gallo. Then some cabbage and lettuce mix. Then the Mexican blend cheese. Then drizzle some crema. And finally grate some Cotija cheese over the entire taco. Serve with refried beans and Mexican rice. Muy delicioso!