Garden Picked Pasta

My son and his wife came over to play cards today. We have a year long tournament going on right now. Its my son and I vs the Hubs and our daughter-in-love, who, by the way, is expecting our ninth grandchild in January!!!!

They decided to stay for dinner and I hadn’t planned anything so……. time to raid the garden, pantry, and fridge.

I love, love, love summer when I can go out my backdoor and pick my dinner from the garden! We picked zucchini, orange grape tomatoes, pattypan squash, and fresh basil.

I found a pound of Italian sausage in the freezer and a pound of Delallo Whole Wheat Pasta in the pantry. I always have the Delallo Whole Wheat Pasta on hand. It is the absolute best whole grain pasta that I have found. It always cooks up beautifully and has a bit of a sweet nutty taste to it.

This jar of Bella Sun Luci Italiano Dip was also just hanging out in my pantry. I picked it up at Sam’s Club a while back and I was waiting to try it. Today was the day! It can be used many different ways. On top of cream cheese or goat cheese, dip for chips, on chicken, or as I used it- stirred into a pasta dish.

The flavors in this recipe really came together nicely and it was oh so fresh!

Garden Picked Pasta

Serves: 4


1 lb Delallo Whole Wheat Pasta (any shape you desire)

1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

1 medium brown onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 medium zucchini, chopped into one-inch cubes

2 medium pattypan squash, chopped into one-inch cubes

1 lb bulk mild Italian sausage

1 handful of grape tomatoes, whole

1/4 cup Bella Sun Luci Italiano Dip

1 bunch of fresh basil, cut into strips

Parmesean cheese for garnish

Cook pasta according to package directions.

While pasta is cooking, brown Italian sausage in frying pan until crumbly. Drain grease and add the grape tomatoes and turn off heat. The tomatoes will soften up just sitting in the warm sausage.

In a separate pan sauté onions and garlic in olive oil until onions are translucent.

Stir in squash and sauté until tender. Add a little chicken broth or water if needed to get squash to a crisp tender level.

Drain pasta, reserving about 1/2 cup of the water to use if needed to loosen sauce.

Place the pasta back in the pan it was cooked in. Stir in the Bella Sun Luci Italiano Dip. Add cooked veggies, the sausage and tomatoes and stir gently. Add a bit of the reserved pasta water if you need to loosen it up a bit.

Pour into large bowl and garnish with basil and parmesan.





Fresh From the Garden Healthier Zucchini Bread


What to do with all that zucchini from the garden? Make zucchini bread of course!

This is my favorite recipe for zucchini bread. It was inspired by this recipe. I switched out the all-purpose flour for King Arthur 100% Organic White Whole Wheat Flour. I like using whole grains whenever possible and using this white whole wheat flour gave it a richer, nutty taste.

I also substituted melted organic coconut oil for the vegetable oil. I am trying to avoid corn and canola oil and prefer the healthier aspects of the coconut oil.

You could add nuts, chocolate chips, or whatever you like to this. My grandkids like it just the way it is and they eat a whole loaf up quicker than you can bat an eye!

I hope you will try this recipe and let me know how you like it.

Fresh From the Garden Healthier Zucchini Bread

Yield: 2 loaves


3 cups King Arthur 100% Organic White Whole Wheat Flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

3 teaspoons ground cinnamon ( I love the Kirkland Signature Ground Saigon Cinnamon from Costco)

3 eggs

1 cup organic coconut oil – melted

2 1/4 cups sugar

1 Tbsp vanilla extract (Do not use imitation vanilla extract. Ever! For anything!)

2 cups grated zucchini (about 2 medium sized zucchinis)


-Preheat oven to 325º (I used the convection/bake setting on my oven but the regular setting is fine)

-Grease and flour two loaf pans.

-Sift flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, and cinnamon together in a bowl.

-Beat eggs, coconut oil, sugar, and vanilla in bowl of standing mixer until well combined. (Or stir by hand)

-Add dry ingredients to the mixing bowl and beat on low until combined. It is best to use a mixer here as the batter will be thick.

-Add the zucchini to the mixture and mix on low speed just until combined.

– Spread batter into the prepared pans.

-Bake for 40-60 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. (Mine took about 47 minutes.)

-Cool in pan on rack for 20 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely.



Maria’s Four Ingredient Mexican Dip

When we were visiting my sweet cousin Maria in Utah last week she made this super good, super easy Mexican style dip. Maria is an awesome cook and I use many of her recipes. We have so much fun when we are together and I love her so much!

This dip was perfect to make for my book club last night. We had just finished reading “Rain of Gold” by Victor Villaseñor. The book is set in Mexico during the revolution and also in Southern California. So naturally, the theme for the food was Mexican.

This dip fit right in and was so good and got rave reviews. Serve it with veggies or chips. It was even good as a dollop on tacos!

You just need four ingredients. How easy is that?

Maria’s Four Ingredient Mexican Dip


1 16 oz container of sour cream (I used the light sour cream)

1 can refried beans

1 small can of diced green chilis

1 package of Hidden Valley Fiesta Ranch Dip (make sure you get the “Fiesta” Ranch Dip)

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl. Refrigerate for a few hours to let flavors blend.


Fresh Strawberry Pie (Or as We Sometimes Call it “Birthday Cake!”)

In Southern California as spring rolls around we start seeing the strawberry stands popping up. I love it when we are able to stop at a little stand and purchase fresh, fresh strawberries. Not only are they delicious, but it means summer is even closer! (I am a summer girl in case you didn’t know.)

Ever since I can remember my 38 year old son has requested strawberry pie for a birthday “cake”. Even when he was little. So of course, strawberry pie it is!

When I first started making this pie I would use that jar of red red red (not a natural red!) strawberry glaze that you can buy in the grocery store. As my tastes and cooking ability began to improve I began to make my own glaze. It is really easy to make and such a huge difference in flavor. The homemade glaze tastes so much fresher.

I have made this pie using both a store-bought graham cracker crust and a homemade regular crust. I like both, but my son and the Hubs prefer the graham cracker crust. Either way, this pie is delish!

Strawberry Birthday Pie

Yield: 1 pie

4 cup strawberries

1 cup sugar

3 Tbsp corn starch

3/4 cup water

Graham cracker crust

1 egg white

For glaze:

Wash strawberries and mash one cup of them up. Combine sugar and cornstarch in a medium saucepan. Stir in mashed strawberries and water. Bring to a boil while stirring constantly. Boil while stirring for three minutes or until thickened. Transfer to a bowl and let cool for 10-15 minutes.

To finish pie:

Brush graham cracker crust with one egg white. Bake at 375º for 7-9 minutes. This step is important as it helps “set” the crust which makes for easier slicing.

Slice the remaining strawberries in half and place in large bowl. Pour glaze over strawberries and gently stir to coat.

Pour strawberry glaze mixture into prepared crust and refrigerate for 2-3 hours.

Slice (the first slice is not the prettiest one!) and serve with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.





Easy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup to the Rescue!

Well. I guess I really do need bone broth after all!

So glad that I made a big batch of the broth on Monday because yesterday I came down with a nasty sinus infection that has knocked me out for the past few days.

Today I had the energy to make it downstairs and when I opened the refrigerator I saw those lovely jars of bone broth. And the extra chicken meat that I plucked from the bones before making the broth. Win.

Ahh…… chicken soup! Nature’s antibiotic. (Although I got a Z Pack as well!) I have also read that chicken soup is good for sinus infections. I just know that when I am sick, chicken soup sounds so good.

I am not a fan of canned soups. The Hubs loves them but I try to make him homemade soup whenever I can. I always have Kirkland Organic Chicken Stock from Costco on hand but I was super excited to have my own homemade broth to use.

I looked through the pantry and the fridge and threw these ingredients in the Bella Electric Pressure Cooker and voila – an easy, fast, yummy soup was ready for my lunch. Now, back upstairs for a little nappy poo. We have tickets to see Billy Joel on Saturday at Dodger Stadium and I need to get better!

So yummy and comforting!

Here is how I made it:

Easy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

Serves about 6


4 stocks celery – cut into chunks

3-4 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks


Baby carrots – as much as you want (I usually don’t have baby carrots on hand-these were left over from something and I needed to use them up)

3/4 cup uncooked wild rice

1-2 cups cooked chicken

2 quarts chicken broth

Throw it all in the electric pressure cooker and push the “soup” button. Release pressure after timer beeps.

Garnish with green onions or whatever your little heart desires. Easy!


Smashed Sweet Potato Goodness!

Do you love sweet potatoes? I do. There is something so comforting about a nice roasted, caramelized, brown around the edges little chunk of orange-y goodness.

I came across a great blog called Cafe Delites when I was searching for a new way to make sweet potatoes. Karina has tons of healthy and delicious recipes posted. Just browsing for a few minutes I have found so many that I can’t wait to try.

This recipe is so many kinds of delicious! The Hubs raved about them and they were so easy to make. They are sweet and savory and buttery and garlicky and so so good. I honestly could make a meal of just these alone.

Please check out the recipe and make these! And while you are there, get lost in all the recipes that Karina has to offer.

Do I Need Bone Broth?

I keep seeing “bone broth” popping up on my instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest feeds. Sounds disgusting, doesn’t it.

But then I started doing some research on it and apparently it is good for numerous bodily things. (Bodily things: a very scientific word for that which ails you.)

Here is a list of some of the things that bone broth is used for: arthritis/joint pain; metabolism, detox and weight loss; skin conditions; autoimmunity; digestion, leaky gut and IBS. Here is a link to an article on the information I found.

Today just happened to be the day that I went to Costco to pick up some groceries. Does anyone go to Costco and NOT pick up one of their rotisserie chickens? They are the best. Right?

Tonight we are having the Sweet Kale Salad with some of the rotisserie chicken on top and calling it a day. Easy peasy and perfect because we are still a little bit tired from the excitement of the wedding this weekend.

As I was picking the chicken off the bone I got to thinking about bone broth. Pretty weird huh? What a thing to be thinking of. Then I thought about how I throw the bones away every week from my rotisserie chicken. Which led me to think about my Bella Electric Pressure Cooker. Which, of course, led me to the internet.

I found this recipe and decided to give it a try. The first bonus I found was that I ended up with almost one cup more chicken than I usually get from a chicken because I really picked the bones clean before putting them in the pressure cooker. That is enough to add to a pasta meal or for chicken salad for the Hubs and I!

Look at all of this chicken I have been wasting!

I had all the ingredients for the broth on hand because they are pretty much staples. My fresh herbs are growing like gangbusters right now so I grabbed some fresh thyme and oregano and threw it in as well.

Here it is all ready to cook. I left the skin on the onion so the broth would have a richer color. Pretty sure it doesn’t add any health benefits but it will look pretty.

As I finish up on this post my bone broth has finished cooking and I have strained it. The recipe made about three and a half quarts. I poured some in a mug and I am sipping on it now. It’s pretty good. It has more taste than I thought it would. I am glad I added the fresh herbs to it because I can really taste them. The oregano and thyme is the perfect combo.

I don’t think that I will be throwing those rotisserie chicken bones away again. I’ll be making bone broth with them!


Billie and Katheryn’s Banana Bread -The. Best. Banana. Bread. Ever.

This is THE recipe that I have memorized and made a gazillion times. Everyone in my family makes this recipe. It comes from a family cookbook that my cousins put together in 1977.

As you can see, my copy is well used and well loved!

This banana bread comes together in a snap and it is the perfect way to use up those ripe or over-ripe bananas.

It is moist and dense and sweet and banana-y and all sorts of good things. It also lends itself to all different kinds of add-ins. Some of the add-ins I have tried are chocolate chips, walnuts and pecans. Serve it plain, with butter, with cream cheese, as is, or toasted. Its all good!

Billie and Kathryn’s Banana Bread

Makes one loaf


3 ripe bananas, 4 if small

1 cup sugar

1 egg

1/4 cup butter, melted

1 1/2 cup flour

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

Preheat oven to 325º. Spray a loaf pan with cooking spray.

Place bananas in bowl of stand mixer. Beat on low speed until thoroughly mashed. Add sugar and egg and mix until combined. Beat in melted butter on low. Add dry ingredients and mix on the stir setting until combined.

Pour into greased loaf pan and bake for 1 hour or until center is set.





Sunday Dinner – A Little Bit Healthier Chicken and Waffles

Do you do Sunday dinner with your family? We do. And. I. Love. It!

It gives us a time to get together and connect and for the cousins to see each other and play and have fun.

Not all of the kids come every Sunday as our schedules are crazy. We also don’t pressure anyone to come. It is always “come if you can, no worries if you can’t.”

Most of the time I come up with the menu, but my favorite dinners are when someone requests something.

We were talking the other day about the really good chicken and waffles that Chili’s Grill and Bar is serving now. My oldest son suggested trying to make a bit healthier version for Sunday dinner.

I got right on it and searched for a recipe. I found this one and tweaked it a bit. I used a whole egg instead of just the white for a little richness. I also added some chipotle pepper for a little kick. Instead of making waffles from scratch I used our absolute favorite pancake and waffle mix made a few additions. The Kodiak Cakes Power Cakes is available at Costco and it is so so good!

The chicken and waffles were a hit. The chicken was moist and tender and crunchy without frying. The additions that I made to the waffles bumped them up just enough to compliment the slightly spicy chicken.

This will for sure be part of our Sunday dinner mix of recipes.

A Little Bit Healthier Chicken and Waffles

Serves 4-6


For the chicken-

1/2 cup white whole wheat flour

1/4 tsp chipotle pepper powder

salt and pepper, to taste

1 egg

1/2 cup non-fat plain yogurt

1/8-1/4 cup skim milk

2 cups corn flakes, crushed

1 1/2 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into  strips

For the waffles:

1 cup Kodak Cakes Power Cakes mix

1 cup milk

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla

1 tbsp honey

1 tbsp avocado oil (or oil of your choice)

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place an oven-safe cooking rack on top and spray with cooking oil.

Prepare three bowls for dipping: one with flour, chipotle pepper powder, and salt and pepper; one with the egg and yogurt and a bit of the milk to thin; and one with the crushed corn flakes.  Be sure to stir each bowl.

Dip the chicken breasts into the flour mixture, followed by the egg/yogurt/milk mixture, followed by the corn flakes, coating evenly. Place the coated chicken evenly spaced out onto the prepared rack.

Ready to go in the oven.

Bake for 20-30 minutes until thoroughly cooked and juices run clear.

Yum! Such a nice crisp on the chicken after baking.

While chicken is baking prepare the waffles.

Stir all the waffle ingredients together in a bowl and cook per your waffle iron directions.

Serve with maple syrup, raspberry chipotle sauce, jalapeño jelly or what ever your little heart desires!

Enjoy! Happy Sunday dinner.

Cheesy Polenta Keeps on Giving!

So, the Cheesy Polenta that I made the other night to go with the Oven Baked Cranberry Maple Crusted Chicken was so good and I had leftovers. Yay!

The polenta was really soft and creamy when I served it for dinner. I knew that it wouldn’t reheat and have the same creamy texture so I smashed it into a loaf pan, covered it with plastic wrap, and stuck it in the fridge.

The next morning I had a beautiful loaf of polenta that was the perfect consistency to slice and fry up in a little butter with an egg on the side.

Not the lowest calorie breakfast but SO good!

Here is the recipe for the Cheesy Polenta. Enjoy!

Cheesy Polenta

Serves 4-6

1 clove  garlic, minced

1 T avocado oil (I like to use avocado oil for sautéing as it has a higher smoke point than olive oil)

1 cup polenta

1 cup milk (I suggest using whole fat milk or heavy cream or a mixture of both. Non fat milk will not result in a creamy mouth feel)

1-2 cups chicken stock

2/3 cup Parmesan cheese*

In medium saucepan  sauté  the garlic for one  minute. Add the milk and one cup of the chicken stock and bring to a boil.

Add the polenta and whisk until polenta is thick and bubbly. Continue whisking and adding stock as needed until polenta is soft and creamy.

Stir in the Parmesan cheese.

*You can substitute any cheese of your choice to suit whatever you are serving it with. This is a pretty versatile recipe!