Category Archives: Recipes

Bacon Stash

Great tips! Cooking with bacon so you don't end up wasting half the packing OR overindulging.By Kathy Nida

One of the things you learn after years of watching what you eat is that there is no point in denying yourself what you love. Bacon is a good example of this, because it is oh so delicious and oh so bad for you…in quantity. Because that’s the key to eating healthy: eat in moderation and don’t try to remove anything you love completely from your diet, because that diet will not last.

That said, you don’t have to eat the whole pound of bacon in one go, now do you? I used to open the pound and pull off a few slices for a treat for breakfast or to cut up into a Cobb salad, but then I’d never eat the rest of the package and it would go off. It was such a waste of a tasty meat that doesn’t need to be used in a large quantity to add significant flavor, because you can just crumble up one cooked slice into an omelet, on a salad, or on half a baked potato, and it adds plenty of taste.

So nowadays, I go crazy and cook up the whole pound when I need it for a recipe, but then I put a few slices wrapped up tight in plastic in the fridge, where they’ll last for 3-4 days. Then I plan the next few days’ meals to include a slice or two.

Grilled BLT sandwiches with chicken and avocadoOccasionally, about once a year, I have a BLT, usually right before or after a long hike, because I love the taste…actually, add the avocado to make a BLTA, because that fat is good for you, but you’ll need to burn those calories somehow. It gives me a good excuse to get out and count the calories. Today’s hiking apps will tell me exactly when I have burned off the entire sandwich, and then I add a mile for good measure.

Then I make sure I freeze the rest of the pound of bacon, again airtight in plastic wrap, because it keeps for at least 3 months in the freezer. That’s one pound of bacon for a quarter of the year. Well, that’s assuming you don’t have to share with anyone. The dog always looks hurt when she sees me pack the rest of the bacon away in the freezer.

Cookbook with so many savory recipes!Interestingly, no one ever taught me any particularly efficient methods for cooking bacon, either on the stove or in the microwave. The natural foods diet and cookbook 30 Pounds/4 Months describes an amazingly easy way to conquer the grease and use your microwave to cook 5 slices at a time. Or if you prefer stovetop cooking, it clearly explains that process as well.

There’s also a tasty recipe for savory oatmeal that would be great with a few slices of bacon from your stash, and a delicious Beef Burgundy that uses a few more slices for later in the week. And if figs rock your boat, there’s a recipe for Tasty Fig Morsels that includes a slice of that salty meat wrapped around a delicious fig. I’m telling you, this is something that belongs in your freezer.

Order the Kindle version from Amazon, or if you prefer a print copy for your kitchen, and leave a message.

A plate of bacon

Images: DepositPhoto
Plate of bacon: © Madllen
BLT with chicken & avocado: © Nalga

Sweet Pepper Soup!

Summertime in Arizona brings bushels and bushels of peppers. The Borderlands food bank was in the ‘hood the other day: $10 buys 60 pounds of fresh produce. Among the mountains of eggplant and cukes and tomatoes and squash was a big box of these tiny red, orange, and yellow sweet peppers.

Sweet peppers in a pan


They’re not at all hot — they taste exactly like ripe bell peppers.

Obviously, when someone unloads 60 pounds of produce on you, produce that grocery stores are unloading for free because they consider it on the high side of ripe, you’ve got a problem. To wit: what to do with it?

It occurred to me that these little peppers would make a nice soup. And indeed they do!

Because they’re so little, peeling them (as advised in recipes for bell pepper soup) is counterproductive. So I decided to take a chance and just lop off their stem ends, leaving their colorful skins in place. Happily enough, it worked: once cooked, the entire pepper purées nicely in a blender, leaving no flecks of pepper hide. So, here we have…

Delicious sweet pepper soup recipe. Good hot or cold!


Cream of Pepper Soup

You need:

  • Four or five ripe (i.e., not green) red bell peppers) or about four cups of small sweet peppers
  • about 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 or 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • olive oil
  • water to cover
  • small amount of sherry or white wine (optional)
  • about 1/4 to 1/2 cup heavy cream (more or less to taste)
  • small amount of sugar (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste

If you’re using bell peppers:

Preheat the oven broiler or a backyard grill. Place the peppers on a cookie sheet and run them under the broiler or atop the hot grill until they start to scorch (this happens quickly, so don’t wander away). Turn once or twice to roast the peppers on all sides. Remove the peppers from the oven and place them in a paper bag or wrap them in paper towels. Let them cool until you can handle them, and then peel off and discard the skins. Slice the peppers open, remove and discard the seeds and seed membranes, and coarsely cut up the peppers’ meat.

If you have tiny sweet peppers:

With a small paring knife, lop the green cap off each pepper. This is something to do in front of the television set the night before you choose to make the soup. 😉

Pour a small amount of olive oil into a skillet or soup kettle, enough to cover the bottom of the pan. Over medium to medium-high heat, sauté the chopped onion until it is transparent and just starting to brown slightly. Add the garlic toward the end of this process, so that it will soften without browning.

For small sweet peppers: add the peppers to the olive oil and onions and cook gently until they soften and their skins start to brown slightly. Don’t allow them to blacken.

For peeled bell peppers: add the peppers to the olive oil and onions; cook gently to combine flavors.

Add enough water to cover. If you have any sherry or white wine sitting around, add a splash of that, if you feel so inclined. Simmer for ten or twenty minutes, or until the peppers are softened.

Turn off the heat and allow the pan’s content to cool a little (for safety’s sake).

Then, using a blender or food processor, purée the cooked vegetables with their water. Add a small amount of heavy cream during the blending. For that skilletful of peppers, I used about 1/3 to 1/2 cup cream.

If you’re dieting, you could substitute low-fat yogurt or even coconut milk (experiment with a small amount of the purée to see if you like this).

Taste the result. If you detect a slight bitter flavor, add a small amount of sugar (or honey, or maple syrup, or whatever). A little goes a long way to mellow the overall flavor of the soup.

Add salt and pepper to taste.

Garnish with chopped little green onions. A few pecans go nicely with this beautifully colorful soup.

Good hot or cold!

 Want some other recipes for tasty, easy to make soups? Pick up a copy of 30 Pounds/4 Months, the guide to healthy dining for people who love to eat. You can get it in a handsome paperback direct from Plain & Simple Press, or order the Kindle version from Amazon.

30 Pounds 4 Months - Diet Advice and Over 100 Delicious Recipes

Tomatoes? For Dessert? Who knew??

Got tomatoes? If you have a garden full of them and are looking for ways to eat t hem before the birds scarf them down, consider a new possibility:

Tomatoes are delicious for dessert.

Yep! Check this out.

Tomatoes shutterstock_375501376

Tomatoes & Cream

You Need:

  • Real, vine-ripened tomatoes that are fully ripe
  • A container of real, heavy cream (not the spray-on foam stuff)
  • Turbinado sugar

Garden-fresh tomatoes (the ones grown in someone’s yard, not what some supermarket calls “vine-ripened”) can have so much sweet, brilliant flavor that you can eat them as a dessert. This recipe is shocking, but it’s a lot less bad for you than most of the things we think of as sweets.

Slice the tomatoes or cut them into bite-sized chunks. Place in small dessert bowls. Sprinkle them with a small amount of sugar—vast quantities are neither necessary nor desirable.

Let this sit for a few minutes. Then douse generously with heavy cream. Enjoy.

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Tomatoes and cream for dessert? Who knew!

What to Do with LOTS of Squash? Make convenience food!

What to do with lots of squash! (Acorn squash recipes)Convenience food? And how: I’ll never have to cook again! 😀 This afternoon I whipped up enough fancy frozen dinners to feed me for fourteen days.

Okay, that’s not exactly “never cook again.” But it’s close.

After a visit to the neighborhood from one of those organizations that collect excess supermarket produce, I ended up with a mountain of acorn squash, a small part of a 60-pound haul that cost me all of ten bucks. Seven of the little guys have been lurking around the kitchen, waiting for me to cook them.

Stuffing a cooked squash is a great way to wrap a lot of nutrition into one package. Freezing the finished product provides you with a handy meal that you can heat in the microwave and eat in front of the television — like a TV dinner, only it tastes good.

baking squash

I favor a Caribbean style that has you stuff squash or pumpkin with a mix of meat, nuts, fruits, and veggies flavored with sweet-tasting spices such as  cinnamon, nutmeg, and clove. You finish it off with as much or as little honey or maple syrup as you like — and it is so good.


The recipe is easy. But it’s a little time-consuming. So plan to spend part of an afternoon preparing enough food to spare you from having to cook for a month of Sundays.

First, cut the squash in half. Scoop out the seeds — do not put them down the garbage disposal, unless you relish RotoRooter bills. If you have a garden, save them to plant in the ground. If not, toss them in a garbage bag. Preheat the oven to 350 or 400 degrees.

Cover the bottom of a cookie sheet or two with strips of aluminum foil. Spread a thin film of vegetable or olive oil over the tinfoil, so as to keep the squash from sticking. Then set the squash halves, cut-side down, on the foil-lined pans. Place these in the preheated oven and allow to cook 40 minutes to an hour, depending on their size. When done, they should be tender all the way through.

onion, apple, celery

While the squash bakes, prepare the stuffing. Scrounge together the following:

A pound or two of ground meat (it can be any variety of meat, or a mix thereof)
An onion
A clove or two of garlic
A stick of celery; you could add carrot, too, if you like
Some nuts (walnuts? pecans? pistachios? whatever is around the house?)
An apple
Spices to your taste — cinnamon, clove, cumin, nutmeg, mustard seeds, whatever
Honey or maple syrup (the real stuff!) or agave syrup
Olive oil, vegetable oil, or butter as cooking shortening(See ideas for alternatives at the bottom of this post.)

Coarsely chop the onion, celery, carrot, and apple; cut up the garlic more finely. Remove the core from the apple (cutting it in quarters and slicing out the seedy part is the easy way). Don’t bother to peel the apple; chop it coarsely and set it aside.

Heat the shortening in the bottom of a large frying pan. Add the chopped onion, carrot, and celery. Allow to cook gently over medium to medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the garlic and chopped apple. Continue cooking for another ten minutes or so, stirring occasionally.

When the veggies and apple are cooked, take a big spoon and lift them out of the frying plan onto a plate. Set this aside.

veggies cooking

Add a little more shortening to the bottom of the pan (do not clean out the pan: you want to get the oniony flavor into the meat). Add the meat and cook, stirring, until the meat is done. Now add the veggies back into the pan, and add whatever nuts you’ve selected (if indeed you have selected any). Stir well. Then and a generous squeeze or three of honey, maple syrup, or agave syrup. Stir this in and then turn off the heat.

When the squash are cooked, remove them and set them in their pans on a countertop or cold stove top. Allow them to cool thoroughly — wander off and do something else for awhile.

When the squash and the stuffing have cooled down enough to handle them, spoon a little stuffing into each squash. Set the stuffed squash back onto the greased aluminum foil in the baking pan, pushing the pieces together to they hold each other upright.StuffedSquash

Now place the pan in the freezer, making sure it stays level.

Allow the stuffed squash to rest in the freezer until each one is frozen through. Then take them out wrap them individually, and store them back in the freezer. If you’ve wrapped them well in, say, waxed paper, you should be able to put a number of them in a large Ziplock-style bag, where they will keep for a long time.


Your microwave will defrost one of these in about two minutes. Half a stuffed acorn squash makes a great meal with a salad, a bowl of soup, or even some crunchy-crusted French-style bread.

If you don’t have a lot of hamburger: You can extend the meat or even replace it altogether with some cooked rice, quinoa, or beans.

Want more veggies? It’s a very adaptable recipe: you can add any number of other items. Try stirring some fresh or frozen spinach or kale into the vegetable mix. A handful or two of peas is good. Cut-up asparagus, corn, bok choy,  broccoli florets — whatever. It’s hard to miss.

If honey on beef, lamb, or pork is a little exotic for you: You’re not required to make it sweet. Try some tomato sauce instead of the honey or maple syrup. Even bottled spaghetti sauce might work. Or leftover gravy. Don’t be afraid to experiment.

 Don’t miss another 100 recipes made from fresh whole foods — good to eat and good for you! Special sale on the 30 Pounds/4 Months diet cookbook starts July 21.

30 Pounds 4 Months - Diet Advice and Over 100 Delicious Recipes

In Favor of Curry

by Kathy Nida

How to make your own curry powder mix.I was at a friend’s house and he was complaining about the delicious smells wafting from a neighbor’s window. “I just don’t like curry,” he said. Wait, what? You don’t like what?

Curry…mmmm…that complicated smell and flavor that so enhances meat, vegetables, and rice. Honestly, anything tastes better with curry in it. I’m about to knock on the neighbor’s door and ask for a sample.

I had my first curry meal in Wales, living abroad, missing Mexican food like any good California girl. It wasn’t even anything fancy, just a cheap Indian takeaway late at night, but I was hooked. First of all, that complicated taste with a distinct hint of cumin was the closest I could get to the tacos and enchiladas back home. But as I continued to sample better Indian food as I traveled, I realized curry in general was very different from the Mexican food I was used to eating.

When I moved back home, I had the harder task of trying to reconstruct Indian meals and spices with the very few options available back then. There were no local Indian restaurants, so I had to wait for trips back to the UK for really good curry. I’m lucky now to live near a few authentic Indian restaurants, but even more important, I can buy naan bread and a variety of curry spices just down the street. So I can simmer any meat in a curry sauce with some vegetables, toss it over hot rice, and have a simple but delicious meal ready in a short time.

Pumpkin curry with chick-peas

Pumpkin curry with chick-peas

My local Indian market carries a variety of curry spices from all over, including garam masala, its close cousin. There’s that chili spice, sometimes a 4 and sometimes a 10 on the spice-o-meter. I didn’t know until I had tasted many different versions of the spice that curry wasn’t just like cinnamon or pepper, but that it contained many spices, most notably coriander, turmeric, and cumin. Different regions focus on the spices available there, and local tastes determine what you will get for dinner.

But let’s say you’re on a deserted island and you forgot your spice stash. Or you’re tired of paying top market for spices. Make your own curry powder mix!

You Need:

3 tsp turmerics
3 tsp coriander seeds or 3 or 4 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp whole cardamom seeds, hulled (i.e., get the ones that are not inside the papery pods, which are a nuisance)
2 to 4 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp ground fenugreek
1/4 tsp whole cloves
1/2 stick cinnamon
1 tsp dry, ground ginger
1/3 tsp yellow or black mustard seeds
1/2 tsp whole white peppercorns (black would probably do)
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Measure the ingredients into a blender jar. When everything is loaded into the blender, turn the machine to high and pulverize the bedoodles out of the stuff. It should be reduced to a fine, fragrant powder, with no chips of seeds left.

Curry spices

Curry spices

I’ve bought many of these spices at Penzey’s, an upscale gourmet store, because I didn’t want to drive all over the city. However, if you have some time on your hands, many of the ingredients can be found much more cheaply at Asian or Mexican ethnic markets. Many, too, are packaged by American companies and retailed at ordinary supermarkets. So, by way of stocking up frugally, take a few days and seek out these goodies at decent prices. Try to get whole seeds, which make a much more fragrant, vibrantly flavored product.

Cumin is the dominant flavor of curry. I used four teaspoons because I happen to like it quite a lot. However, if it’s not your favorite flavor or you’d like to accent one or more of the other flavors, you could cut it back to two teaspoons.

Many U.S. recipes ask for white peppercorns. However, the peppercorns and the red pepper are there only to give the curry a little “hot” kick, for which ordinary black pepper will do just fine. Regulate the amount you put in according to your taste for heat.

Same for the mustard seeds, which also add zing.

Turmeric is what gives curry its classic yellow color. It stains—don’t wear white clothing when you’re working with it, and be aware that it can stain tile grout. If this is a concern, cover the work counter with wax paper before beginning.

Use your product in any recipe that calls for curry powder. Curry powder per se is not especially authentic but is an artifact of the British Empire. That notwithstanding, it’s delicious in just about any kind of food you choose.

Once you've made your own curry powder, you can find a recipe in 30 Pounds/4 Months for Curried Quinoa Pilaf, Impromptu Shrimp Curry, and more.The natural foods diet and cookbook 30 Pounds/4 Months has some hints for finding spices. Once you’ve made your own curry powder, you can find a recipe in 30 Pounds/4 Months for Curried Quinoa Pilaf or Impromptu Shrimp Curry. There’s also a mouth-watering recipe for Curry Puffs, one where you might have to make a double batch to make up for the ones you were taste-testing as you cooked.

Order the Kindle version from Amazon, or if you prefer a print copy for your kitchen, and leave a message.

Images: DepositPhotos
Curry spices, © jag_cz
Pumpkin curry, © sarsmis

Caribbean Comfort Food

Here’s something I tossed together this morning, by way of fixing something good to eat that will last through several future meals. It has Caribbean roots — a friend who ran a charter boat there for several years brought the recipe back to Arizona. The idea is to stuff a winter squash (such as an acorn squash, a pumpkin, a banana squash) with a mixture of hamburger and the squash’s cooked meat plus a variety of tasty additions.

What gives this savory dish an exotic touch is that you sweeten it with a liberal dose of honey. It’s extremely simple to make, feeds a lot of people cheaply, and can be extended with any number of additions to provide future “leftovers” meals.

Normally you would bake a squash, then scoop out the golden flesh and add it to the hamburger slumgullion. Today I happened to have a bag of frozen squash in the freezer, and since I wasn’t entertaining anyone, I used that instead. This makes for even simpler preparation.

You need:

  • hamburger (1/2 to 1 pound)
  • chopped onion (1/2 to 1 onion, depending on taste
  • celery, chopped (1 stalk will do)
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped pretty finely
  • ground cinnamon to taste (about 1/4 to 1/2 tsp)
  • ground clove (pinch)
  • a handful nuts (pecans, walnuts, pistachios — whatever you have)
  • about 1/2 apple, chopped (optional)
  • honey (to taste; I used about 1/4 cup)
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Sauté the onions and celery until softened; when they’re almost done, add the garlic. When the vegetables are softened and barely beginning to brown, remove them from the pan and set them aside.

Put the hamburger in the pan over medium high heat. Stir to break it up and cook evenly. Add the chopped apple, if desired, while the meat is cooking. Add cinnamon and clove. When the hamburger is about halfway cooked, add the frozen squash.

When the hamburger is cooked through so it’s no longer pink and the squash is defrosted and hot through, add the honey and nuts. Turn down the heat to medium or medium low; stir to combine ingredients and flavors well.

Et voilà! An easy one-dish meal. It’s great with some crusty French bread, or it can be served over rice or pasta.

This catch-as-catch-can dinner is related to the “Slumgullion” whose recipe appears in 30 Pounds/4 Months, except that slumgullion is flavored with tomato sauce or canned tomatoes rather than honey and sweet spices, and it usually contains macaroni. The beauty of either is that you can add any number of vegetables — think peas, chard, spinach, carrots, kale — and also extend it with ingredients such as macaroni or rice. You also can use ground lamb, ground turkey, or ground pork, alone or in combination with hamburger.

Served inside cooked squash shells, this Caribbean version amuses children and makes guests think you’ve gone to a great deal more trouble than you really have. 😉




Not Your Mother’s Garlic Bread

This garlic bread makes a quick, delicious snack, appetizer, or side.This morning I acquired a weird craving for a slice or two of garlic bread, the sort my mother used to make.

But she would make up a whole loaf of the stuff, and she used ingredients I haven’t even looked at in decades: garlic salt or garlic powder, margarine, and that fake Parmesan cheese that you shake out of a cylindrical box covered with bright green metallic stuff. It was good! At least, it was seemed so to a ten-year-old. 😀

While bucketing around town, I picked up a loaf of country-style bread. Everything else was in house.

For a couple of slices…

Preheat the oven’s broiler. If possible, set it on “low,” but it doesn’t matter — you’ll need to keep an eye on it.

You need:

  • Two slices of fresh French sourdough bread
  • Two or three tablespoons of butter
  • Some dried green herbs, such as oregano, marjoram, fines herbes, tarragon, or herbes de Provence
  • Grated Parmesan cheese
  • One clove fresh garlic, chopped or minced
The gear

The gear

Move an oven rack fairly close to the oven’s broiler element.

Place the butter in a microwavable dish, and add the garlic plus dried herbs to taste. Melt in the microwave — about 10 seconds on high or medium-high.

Using a pastry or basting brush, wipe the herbed garlic butter generously over the bread slices.

Ready for the oven!

Ready for the oven!

Place the bread, buttered-side up, on a baking or broiling pan. I like to line my baking pan with aluminum foil, so I don’t have to wash it.  Cover the top of each slice generously with grated Parmesan.

Run the garlic bread under the broiler and let it sit until the cheese is melted and golden. Watch! Do not wander off! This cooks very fast!

This makes a quick, delicious snack, appetizer, or side. I served it with a bit of grilled hamburger and some miscellaneous goodies residing in the fridge: a beet, a tomato, and a ripe pear. So good!

GarlicBreadOnPlateHow our lives have changed since our mothers’ day! When I was a girl, I imagined garlic powder and garlic salt were concocted in a factory — which, I guess, they were. It wasn’t until I was grown and married that I first saw a head of garlic. Didn’t have a clue what to do with it!

And come to think of it, I was probably in my teens before I saw a slab of actual Parmesan cheese. I had no idea it was supposed to taste of something other than cardboard.

You can find more 21st-century recipes made of real, unprocessed foods, many of them deliciously diet-friendly, in 30 Pounds/4 Months, a guide to losing two pounds a week while eating like the Queen of Sheba. Find it at Amazon, or order a print copy through the Plain & Simple Press Contact form.

Popover Joy!

By Kathy Nida

Make delicious popovers with this easy recipe. The great smell of popovers baking should bring any human in the house on the run for an equally great taste.I was in middle school when I officially learned to cook, in a big home ec classroom with 30 other terrified 12-year-olds. Our homework the first week was to take the small handful of typed recipes we had collected in class and cook something for the family at home. We had tried every recipe in class, mixing up salt and sugar by accident, using the baking powder instead of baking soda. The real test, as you all know, is the people you love.

So I made popovers for my parents and my brother. Because they smelled like heaven coming out of the oven. My family loved them hot and buttery, steaming as you broke them open.

Nowadays, I mostly cook for myself, but popovers still smell delicious. And you know what? You can freeze them and then heat them up in the oven at 325° for about 5-10 minutes. They crisp up nicely and you can have just one for breakfast (my favorite) or make a lunch for you and a friend with some chicken salad inside.

Popovers aren’t hard to make. My mother’s popover recipe takes time, but not a lot of work. It doesn’t even take a particularly well-stocked kitchen. I could make some right now without running to the store.

You’ll need the following ingredients:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • A nonstick biscuit pan or a regular biscuit pan with plenty of butter on hand

Preheat the oven to 450°, in plenty of time for it to fully heat. If you’re using a biscuit pan without a nonstick surface, butter it liberally. Butter really does work better than margarine here, plus it tastes so much better.

Place the eggs in a blender and mix on “high” until lemon-yellow. Add the flour and milk in alternate batches of about 1/3 cup at a time. Toss in the salt while you’re doing this. Immediately pour this batter into the biscuit cups, filling about 1/3 to 1/2 full. Do not overfill! Quickly place the pan or pans in the oven, without holding the door open any longer than absolutely necessary. You don’t want to lose all that heat you just built up!

The trick to nice popovers is to refrain from opening the door until they have fully risen. You need to let them bake at 450° for about 20 minutes. Then you can turn the oven down to 375° and continue to bake for another 20 minutes, until they’re nicely browned and puffy.

That smell should bring any human in the house on the run. All you really need is some soft butter, a plate to catch all the melty goodness, and a napkin for wiping your face. If there are any left (and really, you can just eat one), freeze them once they’re cool. Then you can reheat one every morning until they’re gone. Way to make the popover joy last!

Dark Kindle LoResIf you like this recipe, it’s part of 30 Pounds/4 Months, the natural foods diet and cookbook par excellence. Order the Kindle version from Amazon, or if you prefer a print copy for your kitchen, and leave a message.

Popover image: Shutterstock. © 2016 matka Wariatka

Grill a Red Pepper…and Marinate It, Too

How to grill a red pepper with classic vinaigrette. Sounds pretty good, doesn't it? You can find this recipe among a range of easy-to-make salad dressings and sauces in the natural foods diet and cookbook 30 Pounds/4 Months.The other day M’hijito, the King of Millennial Chefs, invited me over to his house for an impromptu spread. He served up some awesome filets broiled with a lemon-roquefort sauce, pretty darned nice. As he was chatting and throwing himself around the kitchen, he handed me a couple of beautiful red peppers, fresh from Costco.

Says he, here’s a great way to cook them on the grill:

Cut out the green top, so you have a hole into the center of the pepper. Don’t slice off the whole top: just carve out the green part. Shake out the seeds or pull them out with your fingers, taking care not to poke a hole in the pepper’s side. Then pour in a little vinaigrette, bottled or your own. Slosh it around in there and then, as you’re cooking the rest of a dinner on the grill, lay the vinaigrette-filled pepper over the fire, too. Roll it around, turn it so it cooks nicely on all sides.

Sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? I’m going to try it on those two peppers below, this very evening.


What’s vinaigrette? Classic French dressing: one part something tart (vinegar, lemon juice, lime juice) to three parts oil (olive oil, vegetable oil, or a combination thereof). Add a little salt and pepper. Add some chopped garlic if you like. Add some fresh or dried herbs (basil, marjoram, thyme, tarragon, fines herbes, herbes de provence, whatever you have around). Whip with a fork or, if you had the foresight to mix the ingredients in a lidded jar, tighten the lid and shake to blend.

You can find this recipe among a range of easy-to-make salad dressings and sauces in 30 Pounds/4 Months, the natural foods diet and cookbook par excellence. Order the Kindle version from Amazon, or if you prefer a print copy for your kitchen, and leave a message.

How to grill a red pepper image, Shutterstock: © 2016 Paladin12

Impromptu Meat & Veggie Pilaf

Feeling in the mood for a one-dish meal? Don’t wanna go to the grocery store or out to a restaurant? If you have some rice in the house, here’s an easy way to toss together a tasty, satisfying dinner.

It takes about a half-hour, all told, depending on how fast you can chop an onion. 😉

An easy, satisfying dinner. Great, simple meal for those times when you just don't feel like going to the grocery store or out to eat!
Here’s what you need for one person w/ some leftovers, or for two not excessively hearty eaters:

A cup of converted rice (sometimes branded “Uncle Ben’s original”); other types will work
2½ cups liquid (can be chicken or beef broth, consomme, water, or a combination of the above; you can add sherry or white wine if desired.
half a yellow or white onion
A carrot or two (or whatever you have around: celery? bell pepper? other?)
one or two cloves of garlic
If you have some rice in the house, here’s an easy way to toss together a tasty, satisfying dinner. Some frozen veggies, such as peas, corn, cut-up broccoli or asparagus, mixed vegetables, whatever… I used some frozen broccoli rabi, the baby broccoli that tastes really good. You could  use frozen mushrooms, too. Or spinach. Or all of the above. This is a kitchen-sink dish, so use what you have on hand and be imaginative.
Vegetable or olive oil
A little sesame oil, if you have it on hand (optional, probably)
Some leftover cooked meat, cut up in small dice — anything will work

To feed more than a couple of people, just increase the amount of the ingredients proportionately to the expected appetites: multiply by 1.5 or 2 or whatever amount you need.

Peel and coarsely chop half of an onion. Cut the carrot into fairly small dice. Same if you’re using celery. Pour a little oil in the bottom of a deep frying pan with a cover. Turn the heat to medium or medium high and add the onion plus carrot or whatever. Stir gently now and again while these cook to a soft stage and the onion is just beginning to caramelize a little. Add a cup of converted or white rice.

Enjoy this easy rice dish meal

Fast, easy, cheap…and no driving needed.

When the rice is beginning to brown, add the liquid (I happened to have some duck broth from last Thanksgiving — don’t be shy about using what you have on hand). Place the lid on the pan, turn the heat down to medium-low, and set the time for about 15 minutes (if you’re using brown rice, figure more like a half-hour or so).

When the rice is almost cooked but a little liquid remains in the pan, add the leftover meat. Don’t stir it in (stirring rice while it cooks can make it mushy). Just let it sit on the top to warm with as the rice finishes steaming.

Set the timer for another five or ten minutes. Next time it chimes, dinner will be ready!

While our diet/cookbook, 30 Pounds in 4 Months, doesn’t recommend piling rice on your plate every day, the whole idea behind it is that healthy food should be easy to fix, be good to eat, and never break the bank.

Available at Amazon in Kindle format, or in a countertop-friendly print edition from Plain & Simple Press.

Large images: Shutterstock. © 2016 vm2002
Small images: Victoria Hay