Pasta with Vegetables and Tuna

Here’s an easy and delicious pasta dish, made with vegetables and tuna.

And just for fun, here’s a time-lapse video showing the preparation:


  • Pasta (spaghetti or whatever kind you prefer)
  • 1 Zucchini
  • 1 Yellow squash
  • 1 Green bell pepper
  • 1 Red bell pepper
  • 1 Yellow bell pepper
  • 2-3 cans chunk white tuna in water
  • 2-3 cloves garlic
  • 1 jar of artichoke hearts
  • 1 jar of sun dried tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Oregano (to taste)
  • Red pepper flakes (to taste)
  • Grated parmesan cheese


  1. Boil water and cook your pasta until it’s al dente, adding a few tablespoons of olive oil to the water so the pasta won’t stick. Once cooked, set the pasta aside.
  2. Cut the zucchini and yellow squash in half the lengthwise, then slice into pieces about 1/4 inch thick. Set aside.
  3. Cut the bell peppers into pieces about 1 inch square. Set aside.
  4. Peel and mince the garlic. Set aside.
  5. Drain the tuna. Set aside.
  6. Cut the artichoke hearts and sun dried tomatoes into thin strips.
  7. In a wok, heat a few tablespoons of olive oil.
  8. Add the garlic to the hot oil and stir briefly.
  9. Add the zucchini, yellow squash and bell peppers to the wok and stir.
  10. Add a few tablespoons of water, then cover the wok to steam the vegetables until tender.
  11. Add salt, oregano and red pepper flakes to taste (you’ll re-check the seasoning after adding the pasta).
  12. Add the cooked pasta and about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of olive oil (enough to coat the pasta).
  13. Add the sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts and tuna, then stir.
  14. Re-season according to taste, then serve.

Jacques and Julia’s Cranberry Chutney

This recipe is adapted from Julia Child and Jacques Pépin, as seen on “Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home”. If you are a Hulu Plus subscriber, you can view the episode here:,p4,s1,d0

I made some changes to the recipe to suit my own taste, so this is a slightly different version from what is found on the TV show.


  • 1 large Granny Smith apple
  • Juice of 1 lemon, medium-size
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 2.5 cups fresh cranberries (one 12-ounce bag)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon


  1. Peel and core the apple, then cut into small chunks (should be about 1.5 cups)
  2. Using a lemon zester, take the zest from 1 lemon, then juice the lemon.
  3. Pour the orange juice and cranberries into a sturdy 2 or 3-quart saucepan and set over medium-high heat. Add the rest of the ingredients and stir all together.
  4. Cover the pan and bring to the boil over high heat.
  5. Stir the ingredients, reduce the heat to medium, and cook covered for about 10 minutes, until all the cranberries have burst. Uncover the pan, reduce the heat, and simmer for another 10-15 minutes, until the chutney is thick.
  6. Cool to room temperature before serving. The Chutney will keep in the refrigerator several weeks, or longer if you freeze it.

Egg Rolls

Delicious, crispy egg rolls with a sweet and sour dipping sauce…  What could be better?


  • 1 package of egg roll wrappers (quantity ~20)
  • 1/2 tsp ginger, finely minced
  • 2-3 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1.5 Cups shredded green cabbage
  • 1/2 Cup shredded red cabbage
  • 1/2 Cup shredded carrots
  • 4 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1 Cup sprouts (about 1/4 lb)
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp fish sauce (you can also use oyster sauce)
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • Canola oil (for frying)

If you prefer to make a vegetarian version, just leave out the ground pork and fish sauce, using a little more of the vegetables instead.

For the sweet and sour sauce:

  • 1/2 Cup orange juice
  • 1/2 Cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp potato starch (can also use corn starch or arrowroot)
  • 1 Tbsp water


To prepare the egg rolls:

  1. Place 2-3 Tbsp sesame oil in a large wok or skillet over high heat and add minced ginger and ground pork. Sauté until lightly browned, about 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add the shredded cabbage, carrots and green onions, cooking an additional 2-3 minutes, until tender.
  3. Add the soy sauce and fish sauce, stir, then remove from heat and allow the mixture to cool.
  4. Fill the egg roll wrappers by placing about 2 Tbsp of the mixture in the center of each wrapper, then roll half way from one corner of the wrapper. Brush the remaining exposed part of the wrapper with water, then fold in the two side corners and roll up the rest of the way.
  5. In a large skillet (I prefer cast iron), heat the canola oil to about 350 degrees.
  6. Place rolls flap side down, about 3-4 at a time, turning occasionally, until golden brown. Then remove to a wire rack or paper towels to drain.
To prepare the sweet and sour sauce:
  1. Mix the potato starch (or corn starch or arrowroot) and water in a small bowl and set aside.
  2. Mix the orange juice, brown sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan over medium heat.
  3. Add the pre-mixed potato starch and water to the sauce, then stir constantly until it thickens.

Wild Salmon with Lemon Dill Butter

I was shopping at a local market and found a nice looking wild (not farm-raised) pacific salmon, so decided to have that for dinner. I pan-seared it and served it with a lemon dill butter, along with a salad of baby spinach with a lemon mustard dressing. It was an improvisation, but it turned out to be quite good.


First, prepare the salad dressing and the sauce for the salmon, setting them both aside until everything is ready to serve. For the salad dressing, mix about a tablespoon of good French Dijon mustard with about a quarter cup of extra virgin olive oil, juice of half a lemon, salt and pepper.

Wash and fully dry the baby spinach, then set aside (don’t put the dressing on until just before serving).

For the sauce to put over the salmon, mix 4 tablespoons of melted butter with the juice of one lemon, about 4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, and a tablespoon of chopped fresh dill.

Cut some lemon wedges to serve with the salmon (for an extra touch, you can get fancy if you want and cut them as shown in the photo).

Prepare the salmon for cooking. There’s often a line of “pin” bones in the salmon filet which should be carefully removed using a pair of tweezers or clean needle-nose pliers. Season the salmon with salt and pepper before cooking.

Heat a large cast-iron pan over a medium flame. Add a couple of tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Turn heat up to medium-high and put the salmon in, skin-side down. Cook it that way for about 4 minutes, then turn it over and cook about another 3-6 minutes (depends on the size and thickness of the salmon filet).

Once cooked through, remove the salmon and place skin-side down, then pour the lemon dill butter mixture over it. Arrange the lemon wedges around the salmon.

Add the salad dressing to the baby spinach and mix. Serve both right away.


Challah (also ḥallah plural: challot/ḥalloth/khallos) (Hebrew: חלה) is a special Jewish braided bread eaten on Sabbath and holidays.

The leftovers are terrific for making french toast, and I often make this bread specifically for that purpose.

My mom used to make this every week when I was growing up, and I have very fond memories of working with her in the kitchen on Fridays to make this (not sure how much I was really helping, of course).

This version of the recipe actually comes from Cuisinart, included in the manual for my food processor. I was actually surprised by how good it was, and how closely it matches what I remember from my childhood. The Cuisinart recipe book is available online here, under product manuals (I have the Prep-9):

The instructions assume you have a food processor with a dough blade. For the record, I love the Cuisinart Prep-9 and would recommend it to anyone looking for a good food processor.

Makes a 1 ½ pound loaf.


  • 3 Tbsp granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 package active dry yeast (about 2 1/4 tsp)
  • 1/4 cup warm water (105-115 degrees F)
  • 3 1/4 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp table salt
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 large egg
  • egg glaze (1 large egg and 1 Tbsp water)
  • vegetable oil (or, my preference, olive oil) cooking spray

In a 2-cup liquid measure, dissolve 2 teaspoons sugar and yeast in warm water. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes.

Insert the dough blade in the work bowl and add flour, remaining sugar and salt. Pulse to combine, about 2 to 3 times.

Add cold water, melted butter and egg to yeast mixture. With machine running, add liquid through small feed tube in a steady stream as fast as the flour absorbs it. Once dough forms a ball continue processing for 45 seconds to knead dough. Place dough in a floured plastic food storage bag and seal. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 to 1 ½ hours.

Place dough on a lightly floured surface and punch down. Divide dough into 3 equal pieces. Use your hands to roll each piece into a cylinder about 1 ½ x 14 inches. Place the cylinders side by side on a baking sheet coated with vegetable oil cooking spray. Braid loosely from one end. Gently pull and taper each end to a point, then pinch and tuck under loaf. Cover with plastic wrap coated with vegetable oil cooking spray and let rise until doubled in size, about 45 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F for 15 minutes before baking.

Prepare egg glaze by combining egg with water; brush over braid. Bake in lower third of preheated oven for 20 minutes. Lower temperature to 350 degrees F and bake until loaf is browned and sounds hollow when tapped, about 10 minutes. Cool on wire rack.

Chili Con Carne

Here’s another family recipe that I’ve updated to suit my own preferences through experimentation. This recipe is for a fairly large batch, with enough for left-overs. Probably about 12-14 servings.


  • 2 medium yellow onions, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 pounds ground beef (as always, I recommend grass-fed)
  • 2 large cans (30.5 oz) Brooks Chili Beans (mild or hot, or one of each type, depending on your taste)
  • 1/2 Cup ketchup
  • 1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
  • 2 cans (14 oz) diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 bottle of good beer
  • 4 tsp cumin
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (optional – can skip, or use more, according to taste)
  • 1/2 onion and shredded cheddar or shredded mexican cheese blend (for garnish, optional)


  1. Saute the onions, green and red peppers, and the ground beef in the olive oil
  2. Add diced tomatoes and ketchup, then simmer for 30 minutes
  3. Add tomato paste, Brooks chili beans, and beer, then simmer for another 30 minutes
  4. Add seasoning, adjusting according to taste
  5. When serving, top with fresh, finely chopped onion and shredded cheddar or shredded mexican blend cheese (optional)

Honey Wheat Bread

Breadmaking is an art one can spend a lifetime perfecting, and I have only just begun! However, I was so pleased with the way this Honey Wheat Bread turned out, I figured I’d share it with you.

Thanks to Julia Child, I’ve learned that the key to getting a nice crust is steam during the first 5-8 minutes of baking! To achieve this, I used Julia’s trick of super-heating a brick on top of the stove, then placing that brick into a pan of water in the bottom of the oven, creating a burst of steam. Another tip from Julia is to line the upper oven rack with ceramic tiles to use as a baking surface.

There are so many possible variations to this recipe and approach, but here’s what I did this time…


  • 14 ounces bread flour
  • 6 ounces whole wheat flour
  • 10 ounces water (lukewarm)
  • 4 ounces honey
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon active dry yeast
Other Materials
  • 1 brick (used to create steam)
  • 1 large ceramic floor tile, or several smaller “quarry tiles” (used to line the oven rack to create a baking surface)


I’ve found that the easiest way to mix the ingredients is by weight. Using a good digital kitchen scale, equipped with a “tare” function makes the job easy. Place the bowl on the scale and press the “tare” button to reset the weight to zero. Add each ingredient slowly until the scale readout shows the desired number of ounces. Press the “tare” button after adding each ingredient so you’re measuring from zero each time.

Mixing can be done using either a food processor equipped with a dough blade, or an electric mixer. Of course, you can do it by hand too, but I will assume for these instructions that you’ll be using one of the previously mentioned tools.

  1. Add all of the dry ingredients to the food processor or mixer. Mix briefly to blend.
  2. With the food processor or mixer running, add the liquid (water and honey, combined) slowly.
  3. If using an electric mixer, mix on medium speed for about 10 minutes.  If using a food processor, mix using the “dough” setting until the dough starts to form a ball, then continue mixing for about 45 seconds to 1 minute.
  4. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and let it sit at room temperature (around 70 degrees) for about 2 hours to rise, until doubled in size. The time will vary based on temperature and humidity. You can also use lower temperatures to slow down the rising process. For example, I sometimes make the dough in the evening and then leave it in the refrigerator to rise until morning.
  5. Punch down and kneed the dough, then form it into a ball again (for a boule shaped loaf, or form into other shapes as desired).
  6. Allow dough to rise for another hour.
  7. At least 20 minutes before baking, preheat your oven to 400 degrees.
  8. About 10 minutes before baking, start heating your brick on the top burner over a high flame. Make sure you have tested moving the brick before this (I use two sets of metal tongs).
  9. Rub extra virgin olive oil on the dough, then use a razor blade or very sharp knife to make slashes in a pound sign (#) formation on the top of the dough.
  10. Fill a 9 x 4 inch baking pan with water about an inch deep, then place in the bottom of your oven.
  11. Carefully pick up the brick and place it in the pan of water. Be careful, as this will cause a lot of steam!
  12. Place the formed dough on the ceramic tile, in the upper third of the oven.
  13. Bake for 30 minutes at 400 degrees, removing the water pan after the first 5-8 minutes.
  14. Reduce temperature to 375, then bake another 10-15 minutes, until the crust is golden brown. You can also use an instant thermometer to check the internal temperature. The bread is done when the internal temperature reaches about 200 degrees.
  15. Remove the bread and allow it to cool on a wire rack for at least 20 minutes.

Buffalo Chicken Bites

Crispy bite-sized boneless chicken with a buffalo-style dipping sauce… Yum!

The key here is to buy good chicken, which is easier said than done these days. Luckily, a market near us sells Miller’s Amish Country Chicken, which is organic, free-range, antibiotic-free, vegetable-fed chicken with no additives.


  • 2-3 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • Canola oil (for frying)

For the breading…

  • Bowl #1:  About 1.5-2 cups all-purpose flour, seasoned with your choice of seasonings (I use salt, paprika, cumin, and a bit of cayenne)
  • Bowl #2:  3 eggs, beaten
  • Bowl #3:  Panko bread crumbs (Japanese bread crumbs – but regular bread crumbs would work too)

For the dipping sauce:

  • 1/2 Cup Frank’s Red Hot Sauce
  • 1/4 cup (half stick) melted butter


  1. Heat your oil to about 375 degrees
  2. While the oil is heating, cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces and prepare the breading materials in three separate bowls as described above
  3. Dip the chicken in the seasoned flour, then the eggs, then cover with the panko bread crumbs
  4. Drop the chicken gently into the oil and fry until golden brown and cooked through (only takes about 2 minutes if the oil is hot enough and the pieces are bite-sized)
  5. For the sauce, just stir together the Frank’s Red Hot Sauce and the melted butter, then serve!

Tenderloin Filet and Braised Brussels Sprouts

OK, here’s one for the meat-eaters out there…

If you’ve never tasted the difference between organic grass-fed beef and the stuff they sell at the grocery store, you must! I’ve eaten at some of the finest steak restaurants in the Chicagoland area, and nothing comes close to this. I ordered this from Blackwing Quality Meats, which I can now highly recommend. This steak was so tender, juicy and flavorful, I will never again be able to eat a steak without comparing it to this.

I prepared this with a red wine reduction with shallots and a side of braised brussels sprouts.

The brussels sprouts were boiled until tender, then braised with some butter and finely chopped shallots.

For the filets, I used a simple marinade of about 1 cup extra virgin olive oil, a little salt and black pepper, and about a tablespoon of soy sauce. I placed a thick cast-iron pan in the oven on the top rack and preheated the oven to 500 degrees. I then switched over to the broiler and put the steaks in the hot pan (about 6 inches from the broiler). A few minutes on each side is all it takes, depending on your preferred doneness. I used an instant thermometer to check them (click here for a basic temperature guide). Remember, the temperature will increase another 5 degrees or so while it’s resting, so take it out when it’s about 5 degrees below your target temperature and let it rest for 8-10 minutes before cutting into it.

While the filets were resting, I moved the cast-iron pan to the stove top for deglazing and added some finely chopped shallots, about 1 cup of organic beef stock, 1 cup of good dry red wine, and 2 tablespoons of butter. I let that boil down until it started to thicken, then poured it over the filets.