Tag Archives: garlic

Super simple lemon garlic chicken


You know how some days you are very excited about cooking, buy two dozen different ingredients, and spend hours in the kitchen creating the perfect culinary masterpiece? This recipe is not for that day. This recipe is for a day when you have no idea what to make, no energy to make something fancy, but still want a hot, healthy, filling dinner that also tastes great.

Oh, that’s every night? Good news, this is great for every night!

This recipe can work with fresh or frozen chicken; if using frozen just microwave for 3-4 minutes before putting it in the oven, and add about 15 minutes to the cooking time. You can also use thighs, or chicken leg quarters, but again add about 10 minutes to account for the bone. Cutting the breasts thinly into cutlets as I did means the cook time is the shortest, but you can also leave the breasts whole.

This recipe is super easy, requiring really only 3 ingredients. You can add on and be creative from there, especially with the flavorings. It is also very versatile in terms of a complete meal. It would go well with pasta, potatoes, a nice salad, steamed veggies, rice, quinoa, or couscous.

Whatever you have in the fridge to go along, they will probably be friends. I also use these easy and versatile recipes to stock up on sales on the good stuff when I see it, because I know I can always pull this recipe out when needed.


  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 3-5 garlic cloves, diced
  • Juice of 2 lemons (about 4 tbsp)
  • Optional: fresh or dried herbs, I used parsley and rosemary

Step 1: Using a sharp knife, filet the breasts into thin pieces, about 1/2 – 1 inch thick. Layer in an oven-safe pan, and sprinkle on the garlic, lemon juice, and herbs, if using. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes, until there is no pink inside the chicken.

I used the same pan, and baked a pound of asparagus and quartered cabbage at the same time. Couscous takes just boiled water (in the microwave) and 5 minutes, so this whole meal was done and on the table in under 30 minutes!




Buttery Garlic Mashed Potatoes


Ahhh, the humble potato. This starchy, much-maligned root vegetable that is a darling and then an outcast, depending on which way the media winds blow. The reason Ireland didn’t completely starve to death. The bearer of cream cheese, chives, and chili.

Potatoes are pretty cool.

Origins of the Potatovarieties of potatoes on a map

The potato is the world’s fourth largest food crop, following rice, wheat, and maize. There are many many different types, or cultivars, or potatoes, from blue to red to yellow to the hardy workhorse russet.

The highest potato yields are produced in the United States, in Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. Burbank Russet potato harvest begins in late August or early September and ends by the first of November. Idaho’s harvest begins in September after Labor Day and ends by the first of November. Available year round, November to late June Burbank Russet supplies come from storage potatoes.

The Inca Indians in Peru were the first to cultivate potatoes around 8,000 BC to 5,000 B.C. Then in 1536 Spanish Conquistadors conquered Peru, discovered the wonderous flavors of the potato, and carried them to Europe.  Before the end of the sixteenth century, families of  sailors began to cultivate potatoes along the  coast of northern Spain.  Sir Walter Raleigh introduced potatoes to Ireland in 1589 near Cork.

Eventually, Europeans found potatoes easier to grow and cultivate than other staple crops, such as wheat and oats. Most importantly, it became known that potatoes contained most of the vitamins needed for sustenance, and each acre of land cultivated could provide a year’s worth for nearly 10 people. Talk about an agricultural feat!

In the 1840s a major outbreak of potato blight swept through Europe, wiping out the potato crop in many countries. The Irish working class lived largely on potatoes, so when the blight reached Ireland, their main staple food disappeared. This famine left many poverty-stricken families with no choice but to struggle to survive, starve, or emigrate out of Ireland. Over the course of the multi-year famine, almost one million people in Ireland and Europe died from starvation or disease. Another one million people left Ireland, mostly for Canada and the United States.


Potatoes arrived in the Colonies in 1621 when the Governor of Bermuda sent two large chests containing potatoes and other vegetables to Governor Francis Wyatt of Virginia at Jamestown.  The first permanent potato patches in North America were established in 1719 in New Hampshire.  From there, the crop spread across the country.

Idaho, the present-day largest producer of potatoes, did not begin growing potatoes until 1836, when missionaries moved west in an effort to teach the native tribes to grow crops instead of relying upon hunting and gathering methods.  However, it wasn’t until 1872 when the Russet Burbank variety was developed, that the Idaho potato industry began to flourish.

The original Russet Burbank potato clone was discovered in the 1870s by Luther Burbank and was called “Burbank’s Seedling”. It developed from a first generation seedling of an open-pollinated cultivar “Early Rose” in Massachusetts. In the late 1800s, he marketed this special seedling to Western states, under the name “Burbank”. The Russet Burbank potato became and still is the major cultivar grown in the USA, especially in the Pacific Northwest. – Read more here.

French Fries were introduced to the U.S. when Thomas Jefferson served them in the White House during his Presidency of 1801-1809.  Collinet, chef for French King Louis Phillipe unintentionally created soufflés (or puffed) potatoes by plunging already fried potatoes into extremely hot oil to reheat them when the King arrived late for dinner one night. To the chef’s surprise and the king’s delight, the potatoes puffed up like little balloons.

In 1853 railroad magnate Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt complained that his potatoes were cut too thick and sent them back to the kitchen at a fashionable resort in Saratoga Springs, NY. To spite his haughty guest, Chef George Crum sliced some potatoes paper thin, fried them in hot oil, salted and served them. To everyone’s surprise, Vanderbilt loved his “Saratoga Crunch Chips,” and potato chips have been popular ever since.

The good historians at “potatogoodness.com” supplies this list of fun facts about the humble, yet oh-so-popular spud.

Did you know…

  • During the Alaskan Klondike gold rush, (1897-1898) potatoes were practically worth their weight in gold. Potatoes were valued for their vitamin C.  And gold, at that time, was more plentiful than nutritious foods!
  • In October 1995, the potato became the first vegetable to be grown in space. NASA and the University of Wisconsin, Madison, created the technology with the goal of feeding astronauts on long space voyages, and eventually, feeding future space colonies.

The Incas had many uses for potatoes other than dinner:

  • Placed raw slices on broken bones to promote healing
  • Carried them to prevent rheumatism
  • Ate with other foods to prevent indigestion.
  • Measured time: by correlating units of time by how long it took for potatoes to cook.
  • Various folk remedies recommend using potatoes:
  • Treat facial blemishes by washing you face daily with cool potato juice.
  • Treat frostbite or sunburn by applying raw grated potato or potato juice to the affected area.
  • Help a toothache by carrying a potato in your pocket.
  • Ease a sore throat by putting a slice of baked potato in a stocking and tying it around your throat.
  • Ease aches and pains by rubbing the affected area with the water potatoes have been boiled in




  • 4-5 large Russet potatoes
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 4 tbsp sour cream
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • Garlic salt to taste
  • Shredded cheddar, optional


Step 1: If you really want to, peel your potatoes. I just give them a good rinse, because the skin is where the gorgeous vitamins are most concentrated. Dice the potatoes, and boil them for 15-20 minutes. Drain and put back into the pan.


Step 2: Using a fancy potato masher (or a simple spoon, fork, your hands, a wooden spoon…) mash up the potatoes. This part will take a little elbow grease, but think of how toned your bicep (at least, one of them) will be afterwards!


Step 3: Add in the butter while the potatoes are still hot. Continue mashing, and add in the sour cream and milk. If you like your potatoes super runny, add more milk. If you like them thicker, use less. Mash until your desired consistency (I love just a little bit of chunks still left).


Step 4: If using, sprinkle on some sharp cheddar cheese, and add garlic salt to taste. (Add some, mix it well, taste a little spoonful. Then add another 6 tablespoons, stir again, and taste…repeat as necessary)


Your potatoes are ready to roll! Top with some fresh chives or herbs, more garlic salt, chili, gravy, sauce, whatever…


These are an amazing, down-home side dish. Goes great with meatballs, meatloaf, ribs, steak… pretty much any meat thing. If you make a whole lot extra, you can use the leftovers to top shepherd’s pie, or use it as a filling in classic potato pierogi.



Homemade hummus & Flatbread


If you haven’t jumped on the hummus bandwagon yet, you should definitely consider it! Hummus is super heart-healthy, especially when made at home. And it is so very easy! Just put all the ingredients into a blender and whir for a minute or two, and presto! A tasty, healthy, fiber-full dip or snack.

This recipe is a basic recipe, great for pre-dinner appetizers, a party snack, or really anytime. You can get creative with roasted peppers, beets, green veggies, or really anything you set your mind to. Feel free to experiment with different nut butters if you don’t want to buy tahini. I’ve also made black bean hummus before, so you don’t even have to use chickpeas.


  • 1 can chickpeas
  •  1/4 cup tahini
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4-6 tbsp lemon juice
  • Optional: Dash of paprika


Step 1: Place all ingredients into a blender. Blend on high until well mixed. Taste, and add more of this or that until it’s perfect.


It’s best to serve with fresh cut veggies, or toast your own pita chips. To make pita chips, spray a cookie sheet with oil, and place 2-4 tortillas on it. Bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes, until crispy but not burnt. Cut into wedges. Enjoy!

Ratatouille niçoise

There are several recipes or types of food which I’ve heard of, tried, or seen but have not yet tried to cook myself. One of those is ratatouille. The 2007 Disney movie brought the dish into the main stream consciousness with its adorable main character, Remy, a rat who just wanted to be a great chef. Ever since then it’s been in the back of my mind as a ‘make this someday’ dish.

Ratatouille the dish is traditionally a French dish consisting of stewed vegetables. It originated in the French province of Nice, and comes from the Occitan language “ratatolha” and the French word “touiller” meaning to toss food. There are similar dishes in many other cuisines, including the Catalan samfaina, the Majorcan tombet, the Spanish pisto, the Italian caponata, Greek tourloú, and Filipino pinkabet. French chef Michel Guérard came up with a new version called Confit byaldi for the Disney movie. It can be served as a side dish, or made a whole meal when served over rice.

In my version, I pulled together several variations, and used what I had available in my kitchen. I had planned on a potato leek soup sometime this week, but silly me had only bought one leek, so into the ratatouille it went. While I’m at it, I’ll throw the potato in there too. Oh, and a single turnip I had bought for who knows what reason. Also I had no fresh tomatoes, but my pantry is never without a can of diced tomatoes.

3 zucchini (I just happened to have three different colors, so at least it’ll look pretty)
1 turnip
1 potato
1 leek
1/2 red onion
3 large bulbs garlic
1 leek
1 can diced tomatoes
2 tbsp butter or margarine
1/4 green bell pepper, sliced

Step 1: Slice the onion into thin strips, dice up the garlic, and slice the leek. Add them and the bell pepper to a frying pan on low with the butter and cover.

Let that cook and caramelize, stirring occasionally, while you preheat the oven to 350 and proceed to the next step. 

Step 2: Slice the zucchini into thin coins. Peel and slice the potato and turnip as well.

 Step 3: Layer the potato, turnip, and zucchini in a casserole pan.

Step 3: To the pan add the can of diced tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then pour over the vegetables in the casserole dish.

Step 4: Cover in foil and bake at 350 for 45 min to an hour. You’ll know it’s ready when the slices are soft when poked with a fork.

I also took the foil off after 45 minutes and let it bake another 15 minutes to evaporate some of the juices. You can now serve it over rice or couscous, with fresh crusty bread, and/or sprinkle on some mozzarella. Deliciously vegetarian and very low fat and low calorie. Bake up a batch, put on the Ratatouille movie or some classic Julia Child and enjoy!

If you have a favorite French recipe, anecdote of your trip Paris or first year of chef school, or a story of attempting a French recipe that ended unfortunately, please share here!

Feta and Red Pepper hummus


As a spread, appetizer or snack, hummus is filling, satisfying and nutritious. You can eat it with fresh veggies or crackers, or spread it on a sandwich, wrap, burger, gyro and more. I love hummus, and had some chickpeas left over from an earlier curry recipe, so I decided to make a snack.

Most hummus recipes call for tahini, of which I had none, so I created my own recipe. I love garlic hummus, and red pepper hummus, and feta cheese hummus. So I figured, why not combine it all!? Turns out that was an excellent idea, and I hope you think so too.

1/2 cup garbanzo beans/chickpeas
2 tbsp feta (~1 oz)
4 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp water
1 clove garlic, diced
2 tbsp red bell pepper, diced
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin seed
Dash salt & pepper

Step 1: Blend the first 4 ingredients in the blender, scraping sides with a spoon. Add water until desired thickness.

Step 2: Add all spices, mix well and pour onto serving dish.

Step 3: It’s that easy, now enjoy! I cut up a carrot, a celery stick, a roma tomato and had some wheat thin crackers. Delicious!

Amount Per Serving (1/4 cup)
  Calories 215.4
  Total Fat 15.9 g
  Saturated Fat 3.0 g
  Polyunsaturated Fat 1.5 g
  Monounsaturated Fat 10.5 g
  Cholesterol 6.3 mg
  Sodium 298.6 mg
  Potassium 140.7 mg
  Total Carbohydrate 14.9 g
  Dietary Fiber 2.9 g
  Sugars 0.2 g
  Protein 4.2 g

Quick & Easy App: Bruschetta

Bruschetta is one of my favorite appetizers, but it always irritates me how expensive 2 little pieces of bread with the equivalent on 1 tomato on it is. Since I had some homemade bread in the freezer and some tomatoes that needed used, I decided to make my own for cheap!
1 long, thin loaf of homemade bread (or 1 loaf Italian or garlic bread)
2 roma tomatoes, diced small
1/4 onion, diced small
Italian seasonings
Garlic salt
1 tbsp lemon juice
2-3 tbsp Parmesan cheese
Nonstick cooking spray
Step 1: Slice the bread into small, thin pieces
Step2: Dice up tomatoes & onion very small. In a bowl, combine with seasonings and lemon juice.

Step 3: Sprinkle a healthy tablespoon of topping onto each piece.

Step 4: Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes, until crispy on top. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

Serve warm, and try to keep from eating the whole loaf at once!

Mashed potato & cauliflower

I have read about mashed cauliflower several times and never had tried it. Since my grocery store had cauliflower on sale this week, I decided to give it a go. Cauliflower has far less calories than potatoes, and aren’t starchy. So you can eat more of this when you mix half and half, and not feel guilty!
3 small potatoes
1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets
3 tbsp butter or margarine
1/4 cup milk
Optional: 2-3 green onions
Garlic salt
Large pot of water
Step 1: Put several cups of water on the stove to boil, adding salt to make it boil faster. Rinse and dice the potatoes (you can peel them if you don’t like the taste, but the peel is where most of the nutrients are so I left mine on.)  Cut up the cauliflower.
Step 2: Boil the potatoes and cauliflower together for 10-15 minutes, until both are easily smashed with a fork.
Step 3: Using a spoon or a mixer, mash the potatoes and cauliflower together. Level of smoothness vs. chunkiness is personal preference, I made mine pretty smooth. Mix in butter or margerine and milk. Add garlic salt to taste.
Step 4: Optional – slice green onions thinly and add for crunch and flavor.

These taste almost exactly like simple potatoes, so if you don’t tell I won’t! 😉



Radish, onion & herb cheese dip

Sadly I don’t remember where the inspiration for this dip came from, but I read on another blog about putting fresh raw radishes into a dip, and decided to make my own version based on what I had in my house.
1 package cream cheese
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup radishes, diced very small
1/4 cup red onion, diced small
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp dried onion
~1/2 tbsp sea salt

Step 1: Mix room temperature cream cheese and sour cream in a bowl until blended. The dip should be spreadable but a spoon could stand up in it.

Step 2: Add in all the other ingredients, and mix well. Serve with whatever crackers you like. This was a hit at a small gathering I had!

Addictive farm fresh dip!

Homemade Chipotle

Cooking with Herbs Lavender and Lovage
Chipotle is one of my absolute favorite “fast food” places for several reasons. They encourage responsible practices, local and healthy food, quality, plus it is just dang delicious. However, even the best intentioned company makes some compromises to be large scale, and I always prefer making food myself so I know what’s in it and can control the portions. Plus, though $6.95 seems pretty cheap, more than once a month or so isn’t practical. 
Therefore, I decided to make my own version of my favorite, the chicken burrito bowl. A website called Chipotlefan.com has recipes for several Chipotle favorites. I used their recipe for the chicken marinade, with a few variations of my own. Then I made my own version of the fresh tomato and corn salsas based on memory, and the cilantro lime rice. Try it yourself, it isn’t exact, but it is close and Delicious!
Chipotle Chicken:

1 (7 ounce) can chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (remove chipotle peppers, skim out seeds)
2 tsp fresh ground ancho chili powder
1 teaspoon black pepper
2 teaspoons cumin powder
2 tbsp powdered garlic
2 teaspoons sea salt
1 quarter red onion
1/4 cup oil (canola/vegetable/olive)
Boneless skinless chicken breast or tenders

Step 1: Mix all marinade ingredients in a blender/food processor. Add oil until it’s slightly pourable. 
Step 2: Poke holes in chicken, and pour marinade over chicken. Let marinate in the refrigerator for at least one hour up to 24 hours. The best way to cook the chicken is to grill it, but you can cook it in a frying pan with a weight on top as well.
 Chicken sitting in marinade
Spiced Pinto Beans:

1 can pinto or kidney beans, drained
1/2 cup water
3-5 bay leaves
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp garlic powder

Step 1: Drain and rinse the beans, pour into a pot. Add spices, simmer on very low for 10-60 minutes, stirring occasionally to ensure the beans don’t stick.

 Seasoned beans

You can add a bit of bacon here too, if you have it and like that kind of thing. Chipotle has changed their recipe to make it vegetarian, so no bacon included.

Cilantro-Lime Rice:

1 cup rice
1 1/2 cup water or chicken bouillon
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup lime juice
Sea salt

Step 1: Boil the rice or prepare as directed. 

Step 2: When cooked, add the cilantro, salt and juices, fluff with a fork.

The rice magic makers. Lemon juice, lime juice, and chopped fresh cilantro.


Finished rice, ready to be mixed
Corn Salsa:
1/2 cup corn
1/4 red bell pepper
Pinch fresh cilantro
Splash lemon juice
1/8 red onion
Step 1: Blacken the corn in a skillet or grill. 
Step 2: Dice the pepper & onion, add to the corn with the cilantro and lemon, mix well. 
For extra spice, take one of the chipotle peppers from the adobo sauce and dice it up to add, or use a fresh seeded jalapeno.
Fresh Tomato Salsa:
1 large tomato, diced
1/8 red onion, diced
1/4 red bell pepper, diced
Handful fresh cilantro
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp lime juice
Sea salt
Step 1: Mix the diced tomato, onion, pepper, cilantro and juices. Add a grind or two of salt to taste. 
Refrigerate both salsas until ready to serve.
Chicken after grilling and dicing, salsas ready to go.


 Beans and rice, ready for assembly.


Finished plate. Can make it into a burrito, tacos, or a bowl.

I tore up a few large romaine leaves and put the rice, beans, chicken and both salsas on, with a sprinkle of cheese on top. It was deliciously fresh tasting! It is on the spicy side, so if that’s not for you then dial down the seasonings and forget about the chipotle peppers in adobo. For vegetarians, ditch the chicken and marinate some tofu, add some guacamole, or other grilled veggies. Enjoy!

This recipe submitted to the May 2014 “Cooking with Herbs” challenge!

Cooking with Herbs Lavender and Lovage

Inside-out stuffed peppers

I have to credit this post to my friend Maribeth. She is also an excellent cook, and is allowing me to post this recipe here. We both needed some serious girl-talk time, so cooking dinner together and enjoying some wine was of course the natural choice. This is her recipe.
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 box rice pilaf
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 onion
  • 2 tbsp pesto
  • 1 tbsp diced garlic
  • 1 cup Spaghetti sauce
  • black pepper
Step 1: Dice the onion into small pieces and the bell pepper into strips.
Step 2: Cook the ground beef fully, then add the onion, pepper and garlic. Cover tightly and steam for about 10 minutes, until pepper is fully cooked. (You can of course omit the ground beef or use tofu instead for vegetarians.)
Step 3: Meanwhile, cook the rice pilaf according to instructions. Once peppers are soft, add the rice and pesto and mix well.
Step 4: Season to taste with black pepper and any other seasonings you like.

Step 5: Scoop a big pile onto a plate, and cover with the sauce.
Step 6: Try to stop yourself from having seconds!

Inside out stuffed peppers. Delicious!