Mom’s Night Out – Crock Pot Carrot Ginger Soup

Around here, the Mama needs to get out on a regular basis. You know the saying, “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy”, and usually what makes Mama happy is great conversation and great food. My outings typically amount to dinner or cocktails out with friends every couple of weeks. There are my “super foodie” friends who point me to new and delicious restaurants, then there are the “quasi-foodie” friends who usually ask me where we should go, and then there are the “wouldn’t know good food if it fell on your head” friends, and with them it’s just best to opt for cocktails.

There are two total Mom’s Night Out joy killers. The first is coming home to kids who are still awake. Seriously, Hubs? Going through the “I need another kiss, and I have to tell you one more thing, and did you forget to change my band-aid, and I need another drink of water, and I can’t fall asleep without my glow in the dark, sparkly Littlest Petshop unicorn that has been MIA for 7 days now” routine just sucks the pleasure out of any evening out. When I come home, I want to be greeted by silence. Let me spell that out even more clearly. I want the house to be absent of all noise, especially small voices uttering the words “Mom” and “I want”. The second major joy killer is trying to get any kind of complicated meal on the table before rushing out the door.

Over the years, I have had to adapt my definition of “complicated”. Basically, anything involving more than two steps is complicated for the Hubs to pull off. So as my craving for Me Nights Out has increased, so too has my love of the crock pot. 1) Scoop out 2) Plop on plate These are 2 steps that my family can cope with. I don’t get hung up in the doorway giving little last minute reminders and being asked about what to do with such and such. I can just point to the pot and remind them to scoop and plop. Easy.

Last week, I enjoyed a great dinner out at Tender Greens with a friend. That restaurant is really growing on me. As I headed out the door, I pointed my brood to the crock pot. On this occasion, it was filled with Carrot Ginger Soup. I can always gauge whether the dinner left behind was a hit or not by how much of it is left when I get back home (to a completely SILENT house, on a good night). Well, let me just say there wasn’t a lick of anything left for me to even taste.

So here are the down and dirty simple steps to Crock Pot Carrot Ginger Soup.

Toss about a pound of chopped carrots, a large chopped sweet potato, one diced onion, a couple cloves of minced garlic, a bit of fresh grated ginger, a dash of garlic salt, and a bit of black pepper into your crock pot.

carrot soup

Pour some veggie broth over it all and cook on low for about 8 hours. Then pour all of the crock pot contents into the blender and blend until soup is smooth.


Whisk in some light coconut milk and serve.

This is where you would have seen a picture of this beautiful soup in a nice white bowl garnished with fresh basil and accompanied by homemade garlic bread sticks and fresh cherry tomatoes with a balsamic glaze. BUT . . . I don’t know what, if anything they ate it with, and the last thing I shouted as I hurried out the door was, “Take a pretty picture of the soup for my blog” which obviously didn’t happen. The good news is, I had a wonderful evening out with a friend and discussed everything we needed to catch up on. AND I returned home to a house with all small people fast asleep.

For the full Carrot Ginger Soup Recipe, click here.

A Summer Splash of Green – Honeydew & Green Tomato Salad

Didn’t get this up in time for Memorial Day festivities (I was busy schlepping 4 kids up the California coast – all in the name of FUN), but it’s a great one for any summer picnic or potluck.

Personally, I don’t do green tomatoes that often.  Just the name, conjures up images of Kathy Bates and Jessica Tandy.  You can try to deny it, but you know exactly what I’m talking about.  The honeydew is a little bit of a stretch for me too.  I’m a definite cantaloupe gal.  Cantaloupe is my go-to summer dinner starter.  I love serving it straight up, with a little prosciutto wrapped around it for a punch of class, and with pearl mozzarella and fresh mint for a little salad combo.  Those are just a few of the players in my routine cantaloupe line-up.  But honeydew rarely catches my attention.  So the green tomato honeydew combo was a duo of underdogs in my book.

Finding good green tomatoes may be the hardest part of this recipe.  The rest of it comes together in a snap.  But the flavors are such a unique blend that it comes off tasting a lot more complicated than it really is.

I started by dicing a little jalapeno.  Yes, it will have a kick, but just the right amount , because the heat is backed down by the sweetness of the melon.


Then I toasted up some cumin just until it started to smell.  I sat that aside and,  in the same pan, toasted some raw pumpkin seeds until they started to pop.  I moved the pumpkin seeds to a small bowl and tossed them with a bit of olive oil.


To make the dressing for this little number, I whisked together the toasted cumin, some white vinegar, the diced jalapeno, salt, pepper, and olive oil.

I cut up my green tomatoes (I added in a few red guys as well since I had trouble finding good green ones) and the honeydew melon.


I tossed the tomatoes and honeydew with some cilantro leaves and the dressing, and then sprinkled with the toasted pumpkin seeds.  There was some major nose turning upping going on around the table when I served this.  Especially from the Big One, of all people.    But in the end everyone enjoyed it.


I actually like the color contrast that the red tomatoes give it.  I think I will stick with that variation for future preparations.  So move over cantaloupe.   Honeydew is encroaching on your status as summer melon of choice.

Full recipe: Honeydew & Green Tomato Salad

So what’s your favorite summer salad melon?  Vote below and let me know.

I Surrender – Too Many “Gnos” to the Gnocchi

I am really blessed by the fact that all the birdies in my nest are very good eaters.  From Big One right down to the Wee One (yes, that’s from 19 years old to 21 months old – a whole lotta girliness in one house), there’s not much complaining that goes on – as far as food is concerned anyway.

For anyone who is interested, I have a few opinions about what makes a kid a “good eater”.

1) Introduce lots of food early on – one of my kiddos was eating olive tapenade at the ripe old age of 8 months.

2) Assume the best – I cringe every time I hear a parent say “Oh, s/he won’t eat that” whenever the kid is offered something new or different.  Let the kid decide.  Don’t limit their tasting experience.

3) Don’t give options – In our house one meal, and one meal alone, is served.  There’s not a “kids menu” and an “adult menu”.  You would be surprised what gets eaten when there’s not a “pizza, mac & chesse, bagel, chicken nugget, etc.” option offered in place of the main meal.

4) Let kids experience food with all their senses early on. OK, tasting is obvious, but I’m also encouraging smelling, and yes, the one most loathed by parents, touching.  I really believe that this full sensory experience of food is very connected to kids loving food.  So let your toddler eat with is/her hands and enjoy the full eating process.

5) Don’t fill them up on snacks. I know it’s “in” in some circles to consider your kid a “grazer”.  But come on, who would want to eat a Chard and Onion Torta, when they’re jammed full of gold fish, Craisins, and string cheese.  In order to enjoy eating, you have to be hungry, right?

6) Eat with your kiddo.  Seriously.  Do you like eating alone?  Well neither does your child.  So don’t fill up his/her plate and then think you have time to send that e-mail, finish that chapter in your book, or unload the dishwasher.  Sit down with your child (even if you’re not eating) and interact during the mealtime.  There are some fascinating studies out there about this, including video footage of the difference in kids’ eating quantities when parents / caregivers sit and eat with them vs. loading up their plate, serving it, and walking away.

I really could go on a lot more about this topic.  I’m passionate about it, and have definite opinions about the matter.  But I digress way too far.  What I am really here to tell you about is Gnocchi.  And in spite of all my musings about my children and their glorious eating habits, they ALL dislike gnocchi.  ALL 5 of them.  Gnocchi – a simple, bland as it gets, potato pasta.  How can can someone slurp down Curried Lentil Wraps and yet shun something like gnocchi?  I just don’t get it.  But alas, I have tried too many times and the objections remain unified and strongly stated.  So as of this posting, I will be retiring gnocchi from my menu rotation.  However, I love this sauce too much to let it go by  the wayside, so I’ll just be serving it over bowties or penne.  I hope you will enjoy it too, whether over gnocchi or some other pasta of your choosing.

Lemon Gnocchi with Peas and Spinach

Start by grating a little lemon zest which will give this sauce just the right zip.

grated lemon

Then simmer some frozen baby peas, with half and half (cream if you are feeling sassy), red pepper flakes, some garlic and salt.  You will want to cover it and let simmer until the peas are tender – usually around 5 minutes.


Then add in some baby spinach and continue cooking until the spinach is wilted. Remove from heat and stir in the lemon zest.


While all of this is going on, cook your gnocchi (or other pasta of choice). Drain and add it, along with some freshly grated parmesan, to your sauce and serve immediately.

final gnocchi

Hey, and if your kids will eat it, let me know.  I’ll have a moment of quiet jealousy!

Want the complete recipe?  Click here.

The Hubs Loves His Fish – Baked Rockfish with Tomato Caper Sauce

The hubs really loves fish of any kind.  I wasn’t as big of a fish admirer before we were married, but I guess I’ve morphed over time.  Salmon is a no brainer for me and I make a mean halibut.  Occasionally tuna sneaks onto the menu. And from time to time swordfish.  But I have to admit (after a couple of glasses of wine when I’m being brutally honest with myself), that there is still some intimidation factor for me when it comes to preparing fish.  I can’t put my finger on it, but I think it has to do with feeling that fish requires a much more precise cooking time.  And let’s face it, when fish is gross, it’s just plain gross and there’s not much that came be done to gussy it up.

That’s why I love this recipe that I came across recently.  It was written forsSole and the sauce also contained fennel.  I make it with rockfish, because that’s what my Costco has in stock quite regularly and it’s REALLY reasonably priced. I have made the sauce with fennel and it is lovely that way.  But if you’re like me, you probably don’t just have a fennel bulb kicking around in the fridge.  So I love this recipe in its modified format for  2 reasons: 1) it’s baked and my fish  intimidation factor gets knocked down a notch 2) it contains stuff that I normally have on hand.

So I start by  just chopping an onion and sauteeing it in some olive oil.  I add a little garlic once the onion starts to turn golden.  Then I add a can of diced tomatoes and their juices along with some white wine.  Finally, I throw in some capers and season with some salt and pepper.  I tame the capers a bit by rinsing them well before adding them.  Otherwise their taste can be a bit overpowering and the little palates of the house aren’t exactly caper fans in their un-rinsed state.

fish tom sauce


If you wish to do the fennel version of the sauce, you can just sautee the fennel right along with the onion.

After the sauce is done, transfer it to the bottom of a shallow, wide baking dish.  I use the old 9×13 casserole dish.

Then take your fish filets and roll them.  Place them on top of the sauce.  To finish things off, mix together some dry bread crumbs, softened butter and salt and pepper.  Place a nice dollop of this breadcrumb mixture right in the center of each fish roll.

fish before baking

Now sprinkle a couple of tablespoons of white wine around the fish (not on it) and into the sauce. Bake the whole thing at 425 degrees for about 25 minutes.

cooked fish

Recipe adapted from Epicurious.

For the full recipe, click here.

Eggs for Dinner – Zucchini & Sweet Potato Frittata

Egg recipes.  Sometimes they are winners and sometimes they just don’t measure up.  Sometimes the ones that sound “dinner-ish”  just end up tasting like breakfast in a thin disguise.  If you have ever seen the move Julia & Julia, you’ll remember the classic omelette scene.  I love that scene because I gave up on the perfect omelette long ago.  I really think it’s a patience thing.  It starts out as a nice omelette and before I know what’s happening, and before I can control my spatula, it has turned into scrambled eggs – “messy eggs” I believe is the more chic term used in some brunch places.  My sister-in-law, on the other hand must be a very patient gal.  She can cook an absolutely perfect omelette.

So having abandoned ship on my omelette skills, I have explored lots of other egg options.  I went through an egg casserole phase.  I had a stratta phase (a little too bready and heavy for me).  We did an “oeuf a la coq” phase.  And also a frittata phase.

This particular frittata recipe I almost passed over because I somehow couldn’t imagine the flavors coming together.  But something kept drawing me back to it.  Well am I ever glad I gave it a whirl.  The texture and melding of flavors was great AND I learned a new little technique that may just help me creep back into being a contender against my sister-in-law’s perfect omelette.

I started this one off by peeling two medium sweet potatoes and slicing them into pretty thin rounds.

sliced swpot

I then heated some butter in a large skillet and sauteed the sweet potatoes until they were starting to brown nicely.


While these were sauteeing, I sliced up a medium zucchini – again in pretty thin rounds.

sliced zucchini

After the sweet potatoes were evenly browned, I added the zucchini to the pan, along with some chopped fresh basil,  and continued sauteeing for about 4 more minutes.

Personally, I “paused” my recipe at this point because I was juggling soccer practices, water polo practices, and other crazy schedule challenges.  I just left this waiting on the stove until all eating mouths had returned to the nest.

I then beat 8 eggs with a whisk – making sure to get as much air beat in as possible.


I brought the zucchini and sweet potatoes back to a warm temp and then poured the eggs over.  I let things cook on low for about 10 minutes until it was well set.  Only the top still looked a little goopy.


I heated up my broiler and then popped the whole skillet into the oven to finish off the top (my newfound omelette finishing trick).

I served this with a slice of cantaloupe and a green salad – a nice light meal.

frittata final

The sweet potatoes really carried this dish and made it very dinner-like.  The only thing I would change next time would be to make two frittatas instead of just one.  It was devoured in no time and small people were asking for seconds.  Luckily we had a copious dessert to follow.

For the complete recipe, click here.

This recipe adapted from The Paleo Diet Lifestyle

You Can Take the Girl Out of the Midwest, but You Can’t Take the Midwest . . . – Banana Split Cake

bsplitfinalThe saying is old and cliche, of course, but in last night’s endeavor, oh so true. For those of you who don’t know me personally, I was born and raised in Ohio AND in a non-foodie family (so, please don’t get in a bunch, beloved mid-west readers, This is more about my tribe of origin, than the region from which I hail.) In the culinary realm, this meant that: one of the highlights of Christmas was ham balls, I really believed that mayonnaise and condensed soups were their own food group, and jello (depending on the mold used) was an enviable dessert to bring to any potluck.

I have now lived in California for 20 years. Living here, along with having lived in France for a year, has considerably redefined my take on eating. If you’ve read any other posts around here, you know that I’m about trying to eat “real” food. I am becoming more and more aware of the processed food predators that sneak into our diets. And I’m just grossed out by them. I adore Michael Pollan and his food musings. But I’m also not one of those people who gets so geared up and hog-wild overboard about something that I lose all perspective.

So excuse me for a moment, while I walk you through an old Ohio family favorite that I whipped up last night for a big Soccer Team Parent meeting that was going down at my house. A little number affectionately known as Banana Split Cake (I guess the banana is one healthy aspect of it!). If you have happened on my blog and love it for the “real” food slant, please just plug your ears and hum as you read through this post, or click away now before the GMOs take center stage.

This lovely “cake” sits atop a graham cracker crust. That is – graham crackers hammered with a meat mallet (my preferred method) mixed with 1/2 c. of melted butter.

In case that whopping amount of butter wasn’t enough of an artery clogger for you. the filling consists of another 1 c. of softened butter, whipped together with 2 eggs and a 16 oz. box of powdered sugar.


Slather that good old mess on top of the graham cracker crust and then layer with a can of crushed pineapple (drained) and sliced banana (hallelujah, a real food!).


On top of that loveliness, spead a 12 oz. container of Cool Whip! Now, going back to that whole Michael Pollan thing, one of his more amusing food rules, in his book, Food Rules, is that you shouldn’t eat anything that your mother or grandmother wouldn’t recognize. Well, I guess I’m not technically breaking the rule when stated that way, because my mom and grandma were both bosom buddies with Cool Whip. It made an appearance at just about EVERY family gathering- especially Thanksgiving where the bigger the dollop of Cool Whip, the better the pumpkin pie.


You are now ready for the finishing touch which consists of either more sprinkling of graham cracker crumbs or chopped nuts. I went whole hog and decided on BOTH!


A least an hour of refrigeration makes this ready to eat.

The good news is that the soccer parents didn’t thumb their noses at me for serving such a “processed” dessert. I think we’re all still friends. The banana split cake disappeared with many having seconds and some (we won’t mention names) even thirds. Confession though, I did make a little more “refined” raspberry tart to serve with the banana split cake just to even the balance a bit. Won’t detail out the creation of that one, but will just offer up a walk through of images.


Ok, if you opted to plug your ears and hum, you can unplug them now. Did I mention I made a sweet potato and zucchini frittata, containing only real food, for dinner?

Make Mom Happy – Eat Your Brussels Sprouts

done brussels

I have a few poignant food memories going back to my childhood.  One involved liver and onions and requesting it as my birthday dinner just because I knew my sisters hated it and would HAVE to eat it because it was my birthday request.  Another involved my grandmother ALWAYS giving me a snack to eat in the car on my way home from her house.  After one particular visit, she had nothing to offer in the snack arena except for a couple of cold brussels sprouts.  Rather than break tradition, I opted to take her up on the brussels sprouts offer and proceeded to nibble on them all the way home.

Admittedly, brussels sprouts have a certain, shall we say, reputation. But I assure you that any childhood traumas caused by this poor veggie can be obliterated with one simple recipe – Maple Bacon Braised Brussels Sprouts. We discovered these one year around Thanksgiving time, and haven’t looked at brussels sprouts in the same light since.

But before we get to the sprouts recipe, let’s talk quinoa again.  Because quinoa burgers were the main course to which the brussels sprouts served as a side.  Super simple burgers.  Tasty. Moist and yet hold together well.

Start by cooking 1 cup of dry quinoa as directed on the package.  After cooked and somewhat cooled, add cheddar cheese, cottage cheese, grated zucchini, eggs, flour, green onions, sugar, pepper, cumin, salt and garlic powder.  Your mixture will look something like this.

I actually made this ahead of time and left it chilling in the fridge all afternoon until dinner time.

Heat olive oil in large skillet.  Once oil is hot, reduce heat to medium or medium-low and drop the quinoa mixture by 1/4 cupfuls into oil.  Cooking longer on a lower temp will give them longer to have a good consistency without getting too brown.  I fry these about 4 minutes per side until they are golden brown.  It’s kind of the “pancake concept”  where your first batch won’t be as good as later ones until you get your frying temp just right.  For this reason, you may want to start out with just one patty and then when you have your heat regulated, you can do 4 – 5 at a time.

So now for the brussels sprouts . . . rinse your sprouts well and trim them.

raw brussels

Chop 8 – 10 slices of thick cut bacon into pieces and cook bacon until crisped and brown.  Remove your bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Put your brussels sprouts into your bacon drippings and cook, stirring frequently until they begin to brown.  Continue cooking until tender.  Add bacon back into skillet and add maple syrup.  Heat until syrup coats the sprout and they appear caramelized.


I love serving this great quinoa burger and brussels sprouts combo with sweet potato fries.  You can ues a chipotle mayo to accent the burger AND dip your fries.

quinoa burgers

For the Quinoa Burger Recipe, click here.

For the Brussels Sprouts Recipe, click here.

Dinner for Friends – Parmesan Honey Chicken

You’ve volunteered to take dinner to a friend, and now what?  If you’re like me, this is a common occurrence. Maybe you’ve heard of the 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. Well, in my opinion, food should really be added as the long overlooked 6th love language.  I really enjoy blessing other people with food.  But like everyone, I’m busy and sometimes when the day arrives and I get that little reminder e-mail that says, “New baby parents are excited about the dinner you will be bringing them TOMORROW NIGHT”, I flinch, panic, and think, “What am I going to take?”

Over time I have developed somewhat of a go-to meal for taking to other people.  I like it because it is simple, pretty general tasting (not spicy, no “weird” ingredients, etc.), and it transports well.  The meal consists of:

  • Crock Pot Parmesan Honey Chicken
  • Roasted Sweet Potato and Red Potato Mix
  • Sautéed Peas with Shallots and Lemon
  • Homemade Steakhouse Wheat Bread
  • Dessert

I first discovered this chicken recipe at a crock pot party. Is that a fabulous party idea, or what? My girlfriend invited a bunch of us over and we all brought a favorite crock pot dish and the recipe to share.  The recipe was originally for a pork roast, but I adapted it to chicken . . . that was back when we were still eating chicken.

I also take paper plates and plastic cutlery when I’m gifting a family with a meal.  If you are getting out of cooking, isn’t it an extra bonus to not have to do dishes as well?

Here was last night’s delivery.  It also included a half gallon of ice cream (Denali Extreme Moosetracks, our family favorite) which the receiving 4 year old of the family seemed pretty excited about.

For the Parmesan Honey Chicken Recipe, click here.

Winner, Winner Salmon Dinner – A Conversion Experience

So after a few years away, my step-daughter (who is 19) returned to live with us this past summer.  We all had some adapting to do.  Overall it went well, except for one minor detail . . . she didn’t like salmon and politely refused to eat it. Salmon was a pretty regular player in our monthly meal lineup, so this posed a bit of a problem.

I secretly set out to make her a salmon convert.  I tried planking (cedar, that is), roasting, different marinades, and more.  Fiinally I hit on the winner.  The big ol’ golden salmon in the sky that makes this girl say, “Hey we haven’t had salmon in a while.” It’s an easy one to make too since it has a lot that can be done ahead of time, or in steps.

I recently had someone ask how long it takes me to put together the dinners that I’m posting.  It honestly doesn’t take that long, and as I explained to the person asking, I do a lot to pre-prep my meals when I have little moments of downtime in my day.  So as I walk you through this one, I’ll also point out the pre-prepping I did to minimize the “last-minute-get-it-on-the-table-crunch”.


The mango salsa is quick to put together and waits well in the fridge.  That sitting time also always the flavors to meld better.  I threw the salsa together in a 5 minute window I had early afternoon when no one was calling my name.  Simply put, you peel and chop 2 mangoes, (insert confession here – I can’t stand the feel of a mango.  Don’t know what it is, but it’s the only food whose feel creeps me out.  As such, I buy them already peeled and packaged at Costco.  This makes the chopping go super fast), finely dice 1/2 of a red onion, chop a bunch of cilantro, mix together and add one squeeze of lime juice.

The spice rub for this salmon isn’t complicated, so during another 5 minute moment of sanity in my day, I threw together the spices required.  That way they were ready for the rubbing when dinner time rolled around.

I serve this salmon over a bed of rice and black beans. While the kiddos were entertaining themselves at another moment in the afternoon, I opened, drained, and  rinsed my black beans, cooked my rice and mixed the two together.  This I could also just set aside until dinner time.

When actual dinner arrived, I was poised and ready to put it all into action and the preceding prep had literally only taken me 15 minutes earlier in the day doled out in 5 minute increments.

I went ahead and rubbed down my salmon with the spices.

I then heated a bit of oil in the skillet and added the salmon.  I cooked it for about 5 minutes on each side until the spice rub made a nice crust.  At this point you can pull the salmon fillets apart  to assure it is well cooked through, or you can do a sneak test and leave the fillets in tact.  The latter is my preference.  Just remember that salmon can go from succulent to dry in a heart beat, so make sure you don’t overcook.

To serve, put the black bean and rice on the plate, layer with the salmon, and top with the mango salsa.  Not only is this one healthy and easy to put together, but it’s beautiful on the plate.  Oh, and I like to serve it with a bit of avocado on the side too, not to mention the pre-mixed margarita that it pairs wonderfully with (wink).

So there you have it . . . the story of how my oldest daughter came to know and love salmon and how this unassuming fish restored dinner table harmony to our family.  As I mentioned, my oldest is 19, but you should also know that at our house if you don’t like what’s served, there are no other options.  Hence the reason my 20 month old ate seconds and thirds last night when this was served.  But talking about how I got my kids to be good eaters and budding foodies is fodder for a whole other post.

Winging It With What You’ve Got – Stuffed Peppers

Let me first start with a little tip of my hat to one of my favorite vegetarian cookbooks – Vegetarian Suppers by Deborah Madison.  I love this book and I think I’m pretty close to having made every recipe in the book.  So recipes are great, but sometimes you just need to let your cupboards and refrigerator do the talking. In other words, interpret your recipe LOOSELY.

Last night I had planned to make this great recipe that Madison has for Yellow Peppers Stuffed with Quinoa, Corn, and Feta Cheese.  I decided to go that route because I had 4 lovely orange peppers sitting in the fridge.  I hadn’t really inventoried the other ingredients I would need, but let’s just say that the substitution of orange peppers for yellow ones wasn’t the only recipe tweak I ended up performing.

  • red onions got replaced by half red and half yellow, just because that’s what I had
  • the pan got deglazed with a little sherry because we had killed our only bottle of white wine the night before
  • quinoa seemed like a hassle so I opted for the precooked tub of organic brown rice that I always keep on hand for moments of laziness just like these
  • the jalapeno just got ditched and not really replaced by anything
  • frozen corn gave way to a good old can of corn
  • kale beat the spinach to the skillet because there wasn’t a leaf of spinachto be found in the house
  • and finally, the feta cheese got replaced with some good old Mexican blend because I didn’t want to listen to kid #2 whine about not liking feta cheese

Believe me when I say that people who review recipes and then proceed to tell you that they changed every living detail about the recipe really annoy me.  But sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do just to get dinner on the table (side note to those recipe reviewers – – – it’s simple, improvise however you need to, but just skip the whole reviewing thing as a favor to us all).

So here’s the recap of how this meal came together.  I’ll give you the real recipe at the close of the post.

Start by cutting the peppers in half, removing stems and seeds, and then putting them in a pot of simmering salt water.  Let them cook 5 – 8 minutes until they are tender to the touch of a knife, but not too soft.

Slice the onions into thin rounds. In a skillet, warm 1 Tbsp. of olive oil.   Add the onions and saute until they start to brown. Deglaze the pan with wine (or sherry as I did) and stir the onions as you do. Season with salt and pepper, and then spread the onions in the bottom of a 9×13 casserole dish.

Place the peppers on top of the onions.

In another skillet, warm 1 1/2 Tbsp. of olive oil.  Add the scallions and Jalapeno (if you have it).  Cook for about 2 min. and then add garlic, cumin, corn, and spinach (or kale), and 2 Tbsp. water.  When the greens are wilted (kale will take longer than spinach), add cilantro, quinoa (or rice), and cheese.  Toss everything until well blended, and season with salt and pepper.

Fill the peppers with the mixture. Drizzle 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil over them.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20 – 30 minutes until they are heated through.  Switch to broil for the last couple of minutes to brown the tops.

And here’s a picture from another meal, when I actually followed the recipe as written.

My personal preference includes the feta cheese, just because I am such a fan, but I have to admit that the absence of whining was a definite upside to last night’s version.

So now here are the actual quantities and ingredients as given by Deborah Madison:

sea salt & freshly ground pepper

1 cup cooked quinoa

3 Tbsp. olive oil

1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced into rounds

2 jalapenos, seeded & finely diced

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

1 tsp. cumin

2 c. frozen corn kernels

1 bunch spinach

1/2 c. chopped cilantro

1/4 lb. feta cheese

2 red onions, thinly sliced into rounds

1/2 c. white wine

4 yellow bell peppers

Wondering about the nutritional value of bell peppers?  Definitely a winner for vitamin c and vitamin A.

Nutrient%Daily Value in 1 c. Raw Bell Pepper

vitamin C 195.8

vitamin A 57.6%

vitamin B6 13.5%

folate 10.5%

fiber 7.4%

vitamin E 7.2%

molybdenum 6.1%

vitamin K 5.6%

potassium 5.5%

manganese 5%

vitamin B2 4.7%

vitamin B3 4.5%

vitamin B1 3.3%

tryptophan 3.1%

vitamin B5 2.8%

magnesium 2.7%