Italian Sausage, Kale and White Bean Soup

My husband is a huge fan of hot Italian sausage so he loved this flavorful soup.  If you do not care for hot (or pork) sausage, you could use a mild Italian turkey or chicken sausage and it would be delicious. The green touch of kale makes it earthy and healthy!


1 pound Italian Sausage or turkey sausage
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 chopped medium onion
2 large carrots, cut into rounds
2 celery stalks, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 bunch kale, ribs removed, leaves cut into bite size pieces
2 (15.5 ounce) white beans, rinsed and drained
salt and pepper to taste
freshly grated Parmesan cheese for serving

In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium high heat. Add sausage and cook, breaking up sausage as it browns, approximately 6 minutes. Use slotted spoon to remove sausage to plate lined with paper towels.

Return pot to medium-high and add onion, carrots, celery and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring until onions and garlic are softened, about 5 minutes.

Stir in chicken broth, water, Italian season and sausage and bring to boil. Reduce to sinmmer and cook over medium until carrots and celery are tender, about 6 minutes. Add kale and beans and cook until the kale is wilted, about 5 minutes.

Seat with salt and pepper and serve with a drizzle of oil and Parmesan cheese.

*Recipe inspiration here



Minestrone Soup with Farro

Although the rainy deluge in California seems to have paused, the weather has become cold for those of us who are spoiled by relatively slight changes in temperature. Soup is the perfect antidote for these chilly days! Minestrone usually includes small pasta, but this delicious soup calls for farro instead, which provides healthy fiber in addition to all the tasty vegetables. 

Minestrone Soup with Farro

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

2 zucchini, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 15 ounce can cannellini beans

8.8 ounces quick cook farro (Trader Joe's carries the perfect size bag)

1 15 ounce can chopped tomatoes

8 cups chicken or vegetable broth 

parmesan cheese and chopped basil for garnish

Heat oil in dutch oven over medium heat, saute onion for 5 minutes until a little soft. Add celery and carrots and saute for 3 more minutes then add garlic for one more minute. Add farro, beans tomatoes and stock. Bring to a boil, then lower to simmer. Cook for  15 minutes until farro is tender, then add zucchini and simmer for 5 more minutes until the zucchini is soft but not mushy.

Serve with parmesan and fresh basil. Enjoy!

Recipe inspiration here


Smashed Balsamic Parmesan Mushrooms

We served these mushrooms as an appetizer along with crudite and Dip with a Zip before our Thanksgiving feast and they were a hit! They are relatively easy to make, have a unique taste and are a one bite tasty nugget! You'll be amazed how quickly they go.


1 pound large mushrooms (12-14)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

Position oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven: preheat to 450°F.

Wipe mushrooms clean and trim stems flush with caps. Score a 1/4-inch X across the cap of each mushroom. Mix oil, thyme, garlic powder, salt and pepper in large bowl; toss mushrooms in bowl until the oil is absorbed. Arrange the mushrooms, stem-side down, on a large rimmed baking sheet. Roast on the lower rack until browned and very soft, 18 to 20 minutes.
When the mushrooms are done roasting, remove them from the oven and turn the broiler to high. Turn the mushrooms stem-side up on the pan and use the bottom of a mason jar or sturdy glass to flatten each mushroom. Drizzle with vinegar and sprinkle with Parmesan. Broil on the upper rack until the mushrooms are crisped on the edges and the cheese has melted,1-3 minutes. Check on them-the cheese can burn quickly!

Recipe inspiration here


Swiss Chard, Mushroom and Herb Galette

The fall weather in California has been spectacular with lots of sunny days and cool nights. We had friends over for cocktails on our deck recently to take advantage of our beautiful dry days. A hearty galette, cheese and meat board and some crudite made the perfect appetizers. Our friends brought all the fixin's for Old Fashioned Cocktails and we had a grand time together!

1 prepared pie dough
1 cup ricotta
4 ounces cremini mushrooms thinly sliced
1 garlic clove
1 bunch swiss chard, center stem removed and chopped into bite size pieces
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup herbs, such as parsley, chives, dill
1 teaspoon lemon juice
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
kosher salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Season ricotta with salt and pepper.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Ass mushrooms; season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally until golden brown and crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer to bowl.
Heat 1 tablespoon oil in same skillet over medium heat. Cook garlic for about 30 seconds, add chard tossing until wilted, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat, season with salt and pepper.

Place pie dough on baking sheet covered in parchment paper. Spread 3/4 of ricotta over dough, leaving 1 1/2 inch border. Top with chard, then mushrooms. Dollop remaining ricotta over vegetables. Bring edges of dough over filling to create border and brush with egg. 

Toss herbs with lemon juice and remaining 1 T oil and top galette.

Recipe inspiration here


Hot and Sour Mushroom Soup

 My favorite season is upon us... soup season!  While this soup is one of my daughters' favorites, unfortunately they are not here to enjoy it. I love a flavorful soup that comes together quickly and doesn't require chopping and sautéing. And it makes your kitchen smell heavenly!  


8 cups chicken broth
1 pound sliced baby bella mushrooms
1 can bamboo shoots (8 ounces), drained (optional, but gives a great crunch)
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/4 soy sauce
2 teaspoons ground ginger 
1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 large eggs, whisked
8 ounces firm tofu cut into 1/2 inch cubes
4 green onions, sliced
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
salt and pepper to taste

Set aside 1/4 cup of chicken broth for later.

Add the remaining chicken broth, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, ginger and chili garlic sauce to large stock pot. Heat over medium-high heat until soup reaches a simmer.

While soup is heating, whisk together 1/4 cup chicken broth and cornstarch in bowl until smooth. Once soup has reached a simmer, stir in cornstarch mixture and stir for 1 minute until soup has thickened.

Continue stirring soup in circular motion, then drizzle in the eggs in a thin stream to creat egg ribbons. Stir in the tofu, half the green onions and sesame oil. Add more vinegar to make soup more "sour" and/or more chili paste to make soup more "hot".

Garnish with green onions and enjoy!

* Recipe inspiration here


Greek Chicken Skewer Appetizers

We love having friends over to enjoy dinner together at the table on our deck, but sometimes it is fun to have "heavy" appetizers and call it simple meal! These mini chicken skewers provide flavorful protein bites that are delicious pared with Mini Potato Appetizers and Stuffed Mushrooms (click links for recipes). 


1/2 green bell pepper, cut into small pieces
1/2 red bell pepper, cut into small pieces
1/2 yellow bell pepper, cut into small pieces
4 chicken thighs, cut into 1 inch pieces

Marinade for chicken:

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 teaspoons dried basil
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt and pepper

  • Combine all ingredients in gallon ziplock bag.  Add chicken pieces and marinate for at least 2 hours to overnight.
  • Soak short bamboo skewers in water. 
  • Drain chicken from the marinade. Thread a piece of green bell pepper, then chicken, then yellow and red pepper. Grill over medium grill for 3-4 minutes per side or until cooked through.
  • Enjoy!

The skewers ready to be grilled


Meal for a Friend in Need

When my babies were newly born many years ago, I remember how much prepared dinners brought to us by friends meant to my husband and me in our first days of absolute wonder and minimal sleep. Our sweet neighbors just had a darling baby boy and I wanted to bring them the gift of a ready-to-eat meal while they enjoyed their first few days of new parenthood awe before their own parents arrived to assist. This Greek inspired menu was perfect and easy to package with disposable foil containers. 
My girlfriends joined me at my house shortly after I dropped off the dinner for my lovely neighbors and since I made a big batch, my friends and I were able to enjoy the rest of this delicious meal together on my deck!

Greek Souvlaki Skewers

¼ cup olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 teaspoon dried oregano

½ teaspoon salt

1 ½ pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast halves - cut into bite-sized pieces

Prepare kabobs: Combine olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, oregano, and salt in a large resealable bag. Add chicken, coat with the marinade, squeeze out excess air and seal the bag; marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Soak wooden skewers in a bowl of cold water for about 15 minutes. Preheat an outdoor grill for medium heat and lightly oil the grate.
Remove chicken from marinade and thread onto the soaked skewers. Discard unused marinade.
Cook the skewers on the preheated grill, turning frequently until browned on all sides and chicken is no longer pink in the center, about 5 minutes per side. Serve with tzatziki sauce.

Greek-Style Lemon Potatoes With Garlic and Oregano

3 pounds baking potatoes, peeled and cut into 1½-inch cubes

1/3 cup olive oil

4 garlic cloves, minced

1½ teaspoons dried oregano, crumbled

1 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground black pepper

½ cup chicken stock

2 lemons freshly squeezed juice

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Place the potatoes in a single layer in a 9 x 13 " baking dish and pour the oil over them. Add the garlic, dried oregano, salt and pepper to taste and toss well to coat with the oil.

Bake the potatoes for 15 minutes. Add the stock, toss and bake for 10 minutes more. Add the lemon juice, toss and bake for 10 to 15 minutes more, or until the potatoes are cooked through. If you like, preheat the broiler and broil the potatoes for 2 to 3 minutes, or until golden brown.

recipe adapted from Epicurious


1 hothouse cucumber

1 red pepper, large diced

1 yellow pepper, large diced

1 pint cherry tomatoes, halve

½ pound feta, diced

½ cup kalamata olives

For Vinaigrette

2 cloves garlic

1 teaspoon dried oregano

½ teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

½ cup good olive oil

Place cucumber, peppers and tomatoes in a large bowl. For the vinaigrette, whisk together garlic, oregano, mustard, vinegar, salt and pepper. Still whisking, add olive oil slowly to emulsify. Pour vinaigrette over vegetables. Add feta and olives and toss lightly. Set aside for 30 minutes to allow flavors to blend. Serve room temp.

recipe from Ina Garten

Chocolate Chip Cake Cookie Bars

1 box yellow cake mix

1/3 cup melted butter

2 large eggs, whisked

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 1/2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13" pan. Combine cake mix, butter, eggs and vanilla in large bowl. Add chocolate chips and mix until combined.

Scoop dough into pan, press down even with a piece of parchment paper. Dough is a bit stiff.

Bake for 20 minutes. Allow to cool in pan 15 minutes then slice into squares.

The note of instructions I included with the dinner~

Dinner for New Parents Cindy and Rob 

Congrats on the arrival of baby Alex!

August 9, 2022



  • NAAN (heat at 400 degrees for 2-3 minutes until warm)




Enjoy chicken souvlaki skewers with tzatziki sauce, and greek salad with cut pieces of warmed naan and potatoes on the side.

You can also serve the chicken souvlaki skewers wrapped, like a sandwich. Spread some tzatziki sauce on the warmed naan and top with the chicken souvlaki, greek salad and potatoes and wrap. Enjoy!

I'm so thankful for dear girlfriends! 


Ham and Cheese Sliders / Roasted Vegetable Sliders

Bring these sliders to your Labor Day gathering with friends this weekend- such a yummy bite of goodness and makes all ages happy. They are a great appetizer or even a quick weekday meal for your family.
Ham and Cheese Sliders


1 package Hawaiian sweet rolls, sliced in half 12 count (I made 24 for a staff snack)

½-¾ pound cooked deli ham, thinly sliced

¾ pound Swiss cheese, thinly sliced

½ cup butter, melted

1 tbsp dijon mustard

2 tsp poppy seeds

2 tsp dried minced onion

2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

¼ teaspoon salt

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 x 13” baking sheet with foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray.

  • Using a large knife, slice rolls in half horizontally. Do not separate rolls- try to cut them in half as one big “sheet.”

  • Put the bottom layer of rolls in prepared pan, line with cheese, then ham, then another layer of cheese. Add top layer of rolls.

  • Make the sauce: melt butter in microwave safe bowl. Mix in  mustard, poppy seeds, minced onion, Worcestershire sauce and salt. Pour sauce on top of rolls, spreading carefully to put over all the tops. If it spills over, that’s ok. Cover with aluminum foil and let rolls sit for 10 minutes.  

  • Bake covered for 20 minutes, or until the cheese has melted. Take foil off and cook for a few more minutes. 

  • Slice into individual sliders and serve warm or cold.   


Layer a slice of mozzarella on the bottom, roasted zucchini and red pepper next and top with rolls spread with pesto

1 package Hawaiian sweet rolls, sliced in half 12 count
8 ounces fresh mozzarella sliced into 12 slices
3 zucchini
2 red bell peppers
1/4 home made or jarred pesto

Slice zucchini into 1/4 inch slices and red pepper into quarters. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic salt. Roast over medium heat for 3-5 minutes per side (pepper may take longer). Put peppers in brown paper bag to steam for 15 minutes. Take out of bag and remove skins from peppers. Spread pesto on top

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9 x 13” baking sheet with foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray.

  • Using a large knife, slice rolls in half horizontally. Do not separate rolls- try to cut them in half as one big “sheet.”

  • Slice zucchini into 1/4 inch slices and red pepper into quarters. Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with garlic salt. Roast over medium heat for 3-5 minutes per side (pepper may take longer). Put peppers in brown paper bag to steam for 15 minutes. Take out of bag and remove skins from peppers. Spread pesto on top layer of rolls.

  • Put the bottom layer of rolls in prepared pan and layer with mozzarella, zucchini, peppers. Place pesto roll sheet on top.

  • Bake covered for 20 minutes, or until the cheese has melted. Take foil off and cook for a few more minutes. 

  • Slice into individual sliders and serve warm or cold.   



Figs! What do you do with them? Trader Joe's has large plastic boxes of figs replacing the big peach and nectarine boxes as summer fruits begin to fade. I find them very enjoyable and you can, too, with this easy snack or breakfast idea. Just slice a few figs, add a dollop of ricotta (or goat cheese), top with some toasted walnuts and a drizzle of honey. Enjoy!



Mini Potato Appetizers

This appetizer is one of my favorites- easy to make, yummy and a true crowd pleaser!


14-16 small red potatoes
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup sour cream
several slices bacon, cooked and chopped
green onions, chopped 
salt and pepper

  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees. 
  • Cut potatoes in half, put on rimmed baking sheet, toss with olive oil, salt and pepper. Arrange all the potatoes cut size down.
  • Roast until lightly brown and easily release from baking sheet, about 25 minutes.
  • Let cool and spoon a dollop of sour cream on each potato and top with a spinkle of bacon bits and green onions.
  • Enjoy!