Moroccan Spiced Soup

When the stomach gets full it tells the head to sing.

– Moroccan Proverb

This soup is so delicious, healthy, and will make your house smell heavenly. When you make this soup, you are winning at life. It has healthy lean protein and lots of vegetables – a bowl of goals if you’re trying to add more veggies to your diet! It’s perfect for a cold winter’s night and lunch through the week.

There are many variations, so make it to please your taste. I used organic Italian chicken sausage, but it would be great with ground turkey, turkey sausage or meatless. Use any beans you like and substitute kale for spinach. I don’t know why anyone would do that as I think Kale is yucky, but it’s your soup!

Spices – whatever you have! The key to the Moroccan flavor though is definitely the cinnamon, cumin, paprika and cardamom. I think I’ll add curry next time. Just to see what happens. Make sure to add those core spices and anything else you like – cayenne pepper would be good too.

Here’s the recipe:

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 lb or so of Italian chicken sausage – I bought links, removed the casings and browned in a skillet breaking it up as it cooked

1 yellow onion

3 garlic cloves

3 celery ribs

3 carrots, peeled and sliced

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp paprika – I used smoked, but sweet would be great too

1 tsp ground cumin

½ tsp turmeric

1 tsp cardamom

2 tsp lemon pepper – I like Kinder’s

Salt and pepper to taste – but about 1 tsp or so each

1 can diced tomatoes or crushed tomatoes

1 can chickpeas, drained

1 can cannelloni beans, drained

6-8 cups chicken broth or vegetable broth

Fresh lemon juice – I juiced half of a lemon

2-3 cups fresh spinach

  1. Brown the meat in a skillet.
  2. In a large pot add olive oil and heat
  3. Add onion, garlic, carrots and celery and saute for about 3 minutes
  4. Add all the spices
  5. Add the broth, tomatoes, chickpeas, beans and cooked sausage
  6. Bring to a boil and then lower the heat to a simmer
  7. Simmer for about 30 minutes
  8. Add the fresh lemon juice
  9. Add 2-3 cups of spinach until wilted
  10. Taste and add more salt and pepper if needed

Ladle into bowls and dream of Morocco.

Roast Chicken With Lemon. It’s Your New Go-To Recipe!

A crisp roast chicken would set the world aright. George R.R. Martin

Isn’t she lovely?

Thanks to Julia Child, Ina Garten and my friend Vicki, I have perfected the roast chicken. Every time I make it for friends, I get a request for the recipe. It’s so perfect to make on a Sunday night for family dinner and then add left over chicken to salads, soups or sandwiches throughout the week. It’s really a staple. Best of all, it is really easy too!

I especially like to make it during the busy holiday season when there isn’t much time to spare for cooking during the week. Throw a bag of frozen rice in the microwave (I like Trader Joe’s wild rice or brown rice) and steam some green beans. Sliced chicken, wild rice and green beans with a little fresh lemon juice squeezed on top makes for a very easy, yummy, and quick meal.

All you need is a roasting chicken, lemons, olive oil, garlic, herbs and spices.

Here is the recipe to set the world aright:

5-7 pound whole roasting chicken

1-2 lemons – I go through 2 lemons because I squeeze a little more on the chicken once it’s sliced

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

3 large garlic cloves – or more – suit yourself

Salt – whatever you like – sea salt, coarse salt, pink Himalayan salt, good old salt salt


Lemon pepper – I prefer Kinder’s

Thyme – dried or fresh

Rosemary – dried or fresh


Anything else you like – oregano, marjoram, parsley……whatever you have in your spice cabinet.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

1.      Remove the chicken from the package and place in a roasting pan or 9×13 baking dish

2.      Make sure to remove any of the stuff in the cavity like the giblets and the other questionable things in there

3.      Drizzle olive oil and rub it all over the bird – around a tablespoon or two

4.      Quarter a large lemon and squeeze all the juice all over the bird

5.     Place the lemon quarters in the cavity of the chicken

6.      Liberally salt the chicken – I guess around a tablespoon

7.     Sprinkle 1-2 teaspoons of each of the herbs and spices – I just pour in the palm of my hand and sprinkle over the bird

8.      Chop the garlic cloves and sprinkle on top and around the chicken

9.      Place in the oven and get ready for the most delicious aroma in your home

Roast for 1.5 to 2 hours depending on the size of the bird – or until a meat thermometer reads 180 degrees Fahrenheit. When it’s done, let it rest for around 5-10 minutes before carving.

It’s so good with mashed potatoes, roasted potatoes, wild rice or atop a salad. Spoon the juices in the pan on top of the carved chicken, potatoes or rice. It is delicious – lemon and garlic goodness. Put forth a little effort to roast a whole chicken to have plenty for lunch or other dinners throughout the week!

Crispy roasted chicken and potatoes. I served a spinach salad with it. Super simple and so, so good!

Lemon Orzo Summer Salad

No longer ask “what can I bring?” Just let them know you and your orzo will be there.

Summer is the time to be social and it’s always good to have a go-to dish to bring that everyone will love. This is a great and refreshing salad to keep in the refrigerator all summer long to enjoy at home or bring to any summer gathering. It is also an easy one to make at the lake or beach! So go ahead and buy way too many veggies at the local produce stand (like I do) and worry no more about how to use them all. This salad is an excellent way to ensure that nothing goes to waste!

Use my recipe as a guide and add any vegetables you love to make it your own. This will stay fresh in the refrigerator for a week. As the week goes on, I add to it – in fact, I cooked a few extra ears of corn a few days after making it and sliced it straight into the salad. Delicious!

I used: zucchini, tomatoes, cucumber, red pepper, yellow pepper, fresh basil, Castelvetrano olives, kalamata olives, and orzo. I seasoned simply with salt and pepper. Dressing is simple too – lemon juice, lemon zest, and olive oil.

Other additions: fresh corn off the cob grilled or cooked, feta, garbanzo beans, red onion, Vidalia onion, green/red/orange peppers.

Serve it with grilled chicken for a perfect summer meal. I invited my friend Vicki over for dinner and she brought chicken in a very tasty lemony garlicky marinade. We threw it on the grill and it paired perfectly with this salad!

Here is the recipe for the salad and marinade:

Lemon Orzo Salad:

4 cups cooked orzo

½ cup lemon juice – about 3 large fresh lemons juiced

¼ cup olive oil

Zest of 2 lemons

½ teaspoon of salt                                           

¼ teaspoon of pepper

1 sliced zucchini

1 sliced cucumber

1 cup halved grape or cherry tomatoes

2 chopped bell peppers – I like red, yellow and orange

¼ cup fresh basil – I chop about 8-10 leaves into the salad

Cook the orzo. Combine lemon juice, olive oil, lemon zest, salt and pepper in a bowl and set aside. Chop and slice the veggies and basil. Once orzo is done transfer to a bowl and pour the lemon dressing over it and stir. Add in all the veggies. If the orzo seems dry add about ¼ cup of water – or squeeze more lemon juice into it. Season with more salt and pepper if needed. Serve warm or cold. If serving a day or two after making it, squeeze a little more lemon juice in there. Orzo soaks it up!

Vicki’s Grilled Chicken Marinade:

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice – 2-3 large lemons

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon of oregano – just throw in a palm full

4 cloves crushed garlic – or a bunch more – whatever you want

Whisk all together. This marinade is great for chicken breasts or kabobs. Vicki will season for an hour or overnight for that good deep flavor.

Happy Summer! Or Fall! You know what? This would be fantastic for a football tailgate. Make sure to save this recipe. Let me know if you love it.

The Best Mixers For Cocktails. Voila! you’re Now A Mixologist.

Life’s just a cocktail party – On the street. – Mick Jagger

When creating delicious cocktails, it doesn’t have to be complicated. Fresh citrus, herbs, your favorite spirits and quality mixers are all you need. I like to keep mixers on hand that have fewer ingredients and those that use real fruit. I have tried many and now my selections are not only refreshing, but healthier and offer versatility to create almost any cocktail. And they are also fantastic straight-up. Fever-Tree’s sparkling pink grapefruit and lime & yuzu are my favorites to enjoy right out of the bottle. Belvoir Fruit Farms is another one that is so good over ice or from the bottle. The elderflower and rose lemonade is like summer in a bottle.

Buy a bunch of mixers, ring up your friends and meet on the porch to exchange words of wisdom, vent and solve most of the world’s problems. Or maybe just your own. If anyone comes up with a solution to get your kids to heed your every word, please share. Please.

Here are my favorite mixers I use to make easy cocktails that look serious:

Belvoir Fruit Farms

Elderflower Rose Lemonade – just mix with sparkling wine, champagne, vodka or gin. Add a slice of cucumber if you want. No pressure. I make the effort and it’s really good, just saying….

Cucumber & Mint Lemonade – so very good with gin or vodka. Hendrick’s Gin is my favorite. Add muddled basil and lime juice to 2 oz gin or vodka over ice. Mix in Belvoir Cucumber & Mint. It’s a health drink.

Also makes a delicious martini. Pour 2 oz gin or vodka into a shaker filled with ice, add 1 oz Cucumber & Mint Lemonade and a squeeze of lime. Shake it like you mean it. Strain into a martini glass. Add a cucumber slice. Hendricks or The Botanist makes a great gin martini.


I keep these stocked in my fridge at all times. How cute is my egg basket? My cousin Cara gave this to me.

Lime & Yuzu – Made from limes from Tahiti and Japanese yuzu. I don’t know anything else about either except they are magic. Add 2 oz of tequila and fresh lime juice in a margarita glass. Top with Lime & Yuzu. Tastes like a delicious margarita. Salt the rim if you are into that kind of thing.

Sparkling Pink Grapefruit – add 2 oz tequila and fresh lime juice for the best Paloma. You can make one using fresh grapefruit juice if you want. Also amazing. But Fever-Tree makes it easier with their delicious mixer. Some like a salted rim with this one too. I do not. Suit yourself.

Elderflower Tonic Water – pairs perfectly with Hendricks Gin or The Botanist for the best gin and tonic. Add fresh lime juice.  Excellent with vodka too!

Mediterranean Tonic Water – Herbaceous and Mediterranean-y. I’ve used this in countless ways. Vodka and gin mostly. Add St. Germaine elderflower liqueur with fresh lemon or lime juice – or both. Go crazy!

My favorite over ice in a chilled red wine glass:  1.5 oz of gin or vodka, 1 oz St. Germaine, squeeze of lemon slice or lemon quarter and drop in the glass, top with Mediterranean Tonic Water. Rub fresh rosemary and thyme sprigs between your fingers to release the aroma and add to the glass. Don’t have fresh rosemary or thyme? It’s still good without it. But put it on your grocery list. Or plant some. Enjoy all summer!

Ginger Beer – I only use Fever-Tree for my Kentucky or Austin Mules. Kentucky Mule – I pair with Elijah Craig or Woodford Reserve. Add a bourbon cherry. Austin Mule – I use Tito’s Vodka (made in Austin, TX) and fresh lime juice. Serve over ice in a rocks glass.


My absolute favorite batch cocktail mixers. These are not for drinking straight. They are concentrated fresh and natural ingredients to add to spirits or sparkling water. Before using, shake each one with vigour. Vigour I said.

Ellis Old Fashioned – flavored with bitters, cinnamon, orange oil and vanilla. Makes a classic old fashioned.

I add 2 oz to 2.0 oz of bourbon over ice. I add a bourbon cherry too of course.

SweaterWeather – Apple, honey and spices such as cardamom, rosemary, all spice and others. Enjoy cold or warm in a sauce pan or crock-pot.

Add 2 oz to 1.5 oz bourbon. I don’t add anything else. Not even my beloved bourbon cherry. It’s so good just like this. It’s perfect for fall and winter – but I’m going to try it this spring and summer with vodka. I’m a loner, Dottie. A rebel. (look it up)

Bouquet – I’m in love with this. It smells so good. Which is why it’s called Bouquet I think.

Here’s how they describe it: “Dreamy notes of lavender weave through fresh-squeezed lemon and rosewater.” Like a drink at the spa.

I pour 2 oz in a glass filled with ice. I add 1.5 oz of gin or vodka. Then I top with Fever-Tree Sparkling Soda. You can add a twist of lemon if you want. I do not because it is perfect without it. But you do you.

Champagne cocktail – 2 oz of Bouquet and top with champagne or another sparkling wine. Fancy.

Cheers Friends!

No Matter The Question In Winter, A Hot toddy Is The Answer

Dorothy: Ma, another hot toddy? I think I’ve had enough.

Sophia: Shut up and drink.

Dorothy: This is the fourth one Ma! That’s a lot of whiskey!

Sophia: I only put whiskey in the first one. The second and third were vodka. Amaretto and sambucca in the fourth one. That should kill everything. – Golden Girls

I really love the idea of winter. A fire in the fireplace, cozy blankets, that cold winter smell outside. But as soon as it turns really, really cold that daunting feeling sets in that I have to go outside and face winter’s torture. And put on a coat. Coats make me hot, then cold, then hot, then cold sweaty hot cold. I’m freezing to death and profusely sweating all at the same time. I hate wearing a coat! And I complain relentlessly about the cold and what a harsh, harsh world it is out there. And it is the season of DISEASES. People are coughing, sneezing, throwing up just minutes after being in close confines with them. Winter is very dangerous.

Of course, I became ill the second week in January. I don’t know if it was COVID because all the tests were gone and it was too cold to go out and try to figure out if I had the C word. I just stayed home until I got better (without even knowing if I had the C word….what?!?!). And I drank so much tea that I could have brewed tea straight from my pores in a hot bath. I really wanted a cocktail one evening as I started feeling better, but a cold one would’ve caused my teeth to chatter out of my mouth. And that is when I remembered the hot toddy. It is the most comforting and delicious drink. And it soothes a sore throat. Things were looking up.

Here’s the recipe: hot water, two ounces of bourbon, fresh squeezed lemon juice. That’s it.

Or toss in a candied orange peel or squeeze in a little fresh orange juice.

I made my toddy with tea – Earl Gray and Yogi’s herbal teas are my favorites. You use whatever kind of tea you like. Pour hot water over a tea bag, add honey, lemon and a splash of bourbon. So delicious.

Don’t like bourbon? Tequila, gin and vodka make delicious hot drinks too.

I mentioned candied orange peels. That’s because my cousin Cara posted hers on Instagram. I took one look and knew they would be perfect in a Manhattan or an old fashioned cocktail. Cara uses them as garnish for cream cheese iced chocolate cake. I run to the bar cart and she runs to the oven. I’m the bourbon to her candied oranges!

Ready for the very simple recipes? Here you go:

Cara’s Candied Orange Peels:

Wash and peel a bunch of oranges. Or just a couple. Cut into strips and boil for 20 minutes in water with a cup or two of sugar. Drain and cool, toss with sugar to coat and lay out to dry on a baking sheet. Toss in a cocktail, hot toddy or garnish a cake.

Classic Hot Toddy:

Pour one or two ounces of bourbon or whiskey in a mug, add hot water. Stir in honey and fresh lemon juice to taste.

Variations: Add vodka or gin instead of bourbon or whiskey. Add a cinnamon stick. Go crazy.

I prefer bourbon – either Elijah Craig, Woodford or Basil Hayden’s.

Hot Tea Toddy:  Pour hot water into a mug, add your favorite tea bag, stir in honey, lemon juice and a splash or two of bourbon. Add a candied orange peel for a little extra sweet citrusy flavor.

Hot Apple Cider Margarita

1 – 2 ounces of Tequila
4 ounces hot apple cider – heat in a saucepan
Squeeze of fresh orange juice
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
Tsp of light agave nectar

Add all to a mug and stir to mix flavors. Top with cinnamon and nutmeg – or add a cinnamon stick. Or a candied orange peel.

Hot Vodka Apple Cider

Boil 6-8 ounces of apple cider and ½ tsp of cinnamon in a saucepan. Reduce heat and add 1 ounce of vodka. Simmer for about five minutes. You can add more to make a larger batch for friends.

Party idea! Have friends over and treat them to a hot toddy bar. Have various spices like nutmeg or ground cloves, oranges, lemons, teas, cinnamon sticks, apple cider, candied orange peels, bourbon cherries and plenty of hot water in the kettle. Tell everybody to get creative!

And just like that winter is ok.

I Think Where There Is Fried Rice There Is Love

So you mean to tell me that a chicken fried this rice? -Someone hilarious

My fried rice recipe is one of my favorites. And my kids love it!  I have perfected the recipe and it’s healthy which means that I am, once again, WINNING! I adapted my recipe from one published in The Joy Of Cooking. My most beloved cookbook….worn out, tattered and stained from Lord knows what I splattered on it. I am a messy cook but I think the bigger the mess the better the dish. Right?

If you read different recipes they will tell you to make the rice the day before and start with cold rice. Do I do that? No. Am I telling you not to make it the day before? No. Feel free to plan ahead and use cold cooked rice. I am just not good at planning that far ahead. I just cook the rice and set it aside. I have found the key is to get the oil in the skillet very hot. And when you add the eggs, make a little well in the middle of the rice and scramble it right there in that little spot before stirring it throughout the rice. OK?

We like our fried rice simple. If I make ham fried rice then I don’t add anything else. Sometimes mushrooms but my kids don’t like that. So truly just ham and rice. Anytime I bake a ham I make fried rice with the leftovers. Ham seasoned with cloves is amazing in fried rice. Coriander is the star in this dish so add that to your grocery list! Coriander makes many recipes delicious. You can use cardamom in place of it if you have that instead. Other uses for coriander include roasted potatoes, vegetable soup, roasted eggplant, and any Indian or Asian rice dish.

If I make chicken fried rice, I like to toss in some broccoli. That’s it. We do not like cabbage or onion but you knock yourselves out adding the veggies you like. And I use brown rice sometimes, but we really prefer white rice.

Here’s the recipe:

¼ cup olive oil – heat in a skillet

3 cups cooked rice – toss it in the hot oil

Once hot throughout and golden add:

Salt and pepper to taste

Cooked chicken (I like sautéed chicken), ham or shrimp

Mix well and and hollow out a center in the rice and add:

2 eggs – scramble the eggs and then stir into the rice


1 tablespoon of low sodium soy sauce – or more if you like

1 teaspoon coriander

Toast sesame seeds in a small skillet – about 1 tablespoon and sprinkle on top of the fried rice

Variations:  Add mushrooms, carrots, cabbage, broccoli, onion, peas or whatever you like!

It’s not pretty…..but how it tastes is what matters and it’s really good! Let me know how you like it and how you prepare your fried rice.

Ham fried rice with coriander and toasted sesame seeds

One Ham, Three Recipes and Countless Memories

Food is not about impressing people. It’s about making them feel comfortable. – Ina Garten

Ina….were you talking about ham?!?!?

My pictures aren’t pretty. Sorry.

I will never forget my friend Elizabeth texting me while I was at work one day early in March telling me I had better stop by the grocery store on the way home. She said the shelves were pretty bare with people gearing up to hunker down due to COVID-19. When my friend Elizabeth tells me to do something I just do it. So, I went and I walked down the aisles in disbelief that the shelves were practically bare.  It was like one of those old westerns where one lone cowboy is walking through a ghost town with tumble weeds floating around. Even old music was playing – it was Sheena Easton though – not eerie western movie music. That would have been weird. All the meat was gone! Gone! Except for a pork butt. One lonely pork butt begging for a home. And a section full of ham. Ham! Huge hams that would feed us for a month with an expiration date of November something. So, in the cart the ham went with the other five things that were left in the store. I grabbed some frozen taquitos and we had the most delicious dinner out of those. I’m a huge fan now!

I had to go back to another store the next day because Elizabeth said I had better since it was stocked for the most part. Since I was able to buy a month’s worth of groceries in 30 minutes, I put the ham on hold until Easter.  

Easter Sunday was definitely different but a wonderful day, nonetheless. I spent the day home with my beloved family and delicious food. The ham was so simple, but so good. The smell of a glazed ham in the oven is so comforting and brought up so many memories. Past Easters, Christmas, my grandmother’s baked hams and sweet family memories. It’s amazing how a scent can take you back to precious times. And it was just what we needed during those uncertain days at the beginning of the pandemic – comfort.

That ham and I….meant to be! The recipe couldn’t be any simpler:

You need a 8-9 pound smoked ham placed in a foil lined roasting pan. A pile of cloves. Yellow mustard. Brown sugar.

  1. Take the cloves – about a ¼ cup I’d say – and bedazzle that ham all over with them. Get creative with clove designs if you want! Some score the ham with a knife first…knock yourself out.
  2. Add about a ¼ cup of mustard and a ¼ cup of brown sugar to a small bowl and stir to create a paste.
  3. Rub the mixture all over the ham.
  4. Bake at 325 for around 3 hours 15 minutes or until a thermometer reaches 130.

That’s it my friends. Enjoy the most delicious scent throughout your house! And it’s so good. I mean, my son will stand at the refrigerator and snack on ham in the middle of the night.

Unless you have a large crowd, you should have lots of leftovers. I made white beans and ham, ham fried rice, and ham sliders. Ham and Havarti cheese……food couple of the year. All very different and no one complained that we were having ham again. I’ll post the recipes so check back!

Oh! It doesn’t have to be Easter to bake a ham. Ham is so good with baked beans, salads, macaroni and cheese – truly perfect for anytime of the year and feeds a crowd. Throw one in the oven and take the sliced meat to the lake. Sandwiches and sliders all week – perfect to pack in a cooler and enjoy on a boat ride. Or at breakfast with bloody mary’s – I definitely enjoyed that combo more than once before it was devoured.

Oh! In case you didn’t know…. ham is very lean and a great source protein. It’s also a great source of selenium, phosporous, zinc, vitamin B6, B12, thiamine, riboflavin, and choline. It’s also low in calories! A win!

Hope you enjoy and let me know how you like it!

Shepherd’s Pie. It’s What’s For Dinner During The Great Casserole Comeback!

“Where’d you get the shepherd?” – My boyfriend Kevin

“This looks so bad but it tastes so good!” – My Kids

Cooking has been challenging to say the least being at the mercy of what is available at the grocery store and my own pantry. I  never know what will be out of stock next at the grocery store. I was shocked to see that hot dogs and sausages were totally wiped out with a sign that said people could only purchase one. Hot dogs? Is that because they will last until the end of time? That is all I can think of. Anyway, as a result I have tried to buy things that will last and that I can stretch through the week.  I fondly refer to this time as the The Great Casserole Comeback. Oh what I can do with a roast chicken, rice, carrots, potatoes, 5 pounds of ground beef……endless possibilities! My kids look scared to death when they see a 9×13 dish come out of the oven.

Well, much to their chagrin they loved my shepherd’s pie. They ate it all. Only one little bit left for lunch the next day.  It’s not pretty…nooooooo it’s not. But what it lacks in presentation it more than makes up for in taste. And that is why I share it with you here today. The best part…’s healthy and very easy to make from scratch.  Use the vegetables you have and don’t worry if you’re missing any. Don’t have fresh veggies but plenty of frozen? Throw them in! It calls for mushrooms but they were sold out like the hot dogs. My kids were thrilled. Don’t eat meat or it’s not stocked? Leave it out – the gravy is so good with the vegetables and mashed potatoes alone. You can make it with ground beef or turkey.

Recipe is as follows – it’s easier than it looks!

1 lb lean ground beef or turkey

1 1/2 cups low sodium beef broth

1 tsp pepper

1 tsp salt

2 bay leaves

3 whole cloves

1 tsp thyme

1 cup diced carrots

1 cup diced onion

1 cup quartered mushrooms

1 cup diced celery

1 cup frozen corn

1 tablespoon, plus ¾ tablespoon all purpose flour

½ cup low sodium beef broth

3-4 chopped, cooked, mashed potatoes

½ cup milk – low fat

1 tablespoon butter

1 -2 cups mozzarella cheese, shredded

Brown beef in a large skillet and drain when done. Wipe the skillet clean. Return beef to skillet and stir in 1 cup broth, pepper, salt, bay leaves, cloves and thyme. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.

While that cooks chop the potatoes and cover in a pan with cold water. Boil the potatoes until tender for 10-12 minutes. Drain in a colander and return to pan. Add butter, milk, and salt and pepper to taste. I have been known to add a spoonful of sour cream. Mash or mix until fluffy in a mixing bowl and set aside.

Add carrots, onions, mushrooms, celery and corn to the skillet with the beef. Add 1/2 cup or so of more broth if it’s low to cook the veggies. Simmer and cook covered for 7 minutes until vegetables are tender.

Preheat oven to 375. Put flour in a small bowl and slowly whisk in broth. Stir until smooth and blended. Add to beef mixture. Simmer for 5-7 minutes until slightly thickened. Transfer mixture to a lightly greased casserole dish. Spread the mashed potatoes on top and cover with mozzarella cheese. Bake uncovered for 10-15 minutes until cheese is melted.

I hope your family loves it! I find that cooking for family is psychologically and spiritually nourishing. Food is love!

Proof that my kids loved it:

Lemony Cheesy Chicken, Broccoli and Rice

Back to School + Cooler Nights = Comfort Food

We also call this Chicken Surprise. Because under the melted cheese……Surprise! Broccoli! Surprise! Lemony Sauce! This is one of my kid’s favorite dishes and it has broccoli in it. They don’t like broccoli on its own just sitting on a plate.  My son does not like rice. Except in this recipe – he eats it up!

With tennis, wrestling, lacrosse and lots of activities my kids need protein and vegetables. So if I have to present it under a blanket of creamy cheese sauce so be it. This is also a very easy recipe to make which is a bonus – especially after a busy day. It’s great for dinner the next night or the night after that and it’s so good heated in the microwave for lunch.

When I find a recipe that my teenagers will eat and it has vegetables in it I have to share it! You are welcome!

Here is the recipe – preheat oven to 350

  1. 2 large chicken breasts about 1.5 pounds. Boil or bake until done. Coarsely chop and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  OR buy a rotisserie chicken and pull it off the bone.
  2. Broccoli florets – about 2 cups. Steam for about 3 – 4 minutes. Squeeze a lemon wedge over it. Set aside.
  3. 2 cups of cooked rice – set aside.
  4. Sauce: 1 can cream of chicken soup, ½ cup mayonnaise, 1 cup sour cream, ¼ cup milk, juice of half of a lemon, and 1 cup of cheddar cheese – mix all of that together in a bowl.
  5. 1 tsp of olive oil spread in bottom of 9×13 baking dish.
  6. Spoon rice in bottom of pan and spread evenly.
  7. Layer broccoli over the rice.
  8. Add the chicken on top of the broccoli.
  9. Pour the sauce over all of it.
  10. Sprinkle 1-2 cups of cheddar cheese on top.
  11. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until bubbly.

It is so creamy good and the lemon juice makes such a difference. I hope you like it and that it becomes one of your family’s favorites, too.

Sea, Sand, Books, and Beach Shrimp

Smell the sea and feel the sky, let your soul and spirit fly. – Van Morrison

I just returned home from another great beach vacation. We celebrated my mom’s 70th birthday at her favorite place – the beach on 30-A in Florida on the Gulf of Mexico. If you haven’t been let me tell you it’s one of the most beautiful beaches I have been to and I’ve been to many coast to coast. Pristine natural beauty and the color of the water is truly gorgeous. The Watercolor community in Santa Rosa on 30-A is so aptly named for the aqua and turquoise crystal clear sea water. The gorgeous water color combined with sugar white sand is breathtaking. We stayed a few miles from Watercolor in the charming Blue Mountain Beach area and loved it.

Typically, we pack in activities such as snorkeling, boating, shopping and enjoying as many restaurants as possible. This time, my kids let me know they wanted to relax vs. being dragged everywhere. Dragged everywhere? Poor children. That was music to my ears. I read two books and lounged on the beach everyday all day. Heaven on earth. I read Educated by Tara Westover and Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens. Read them! Even if you don’t like to read. Read them! They will change you for good.

When I did pull myself out of my chair it was to figure out dinner. There was a fantastic fresh seafood market next door and I bought tons of fresh shrimp. Old Bay, lemons, boiling water and in minutes I announced that dinner was served. Fresh watermelon, a salad, and crusty French bread accompanied. Lunch the next day was shrimp tossed in a little mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon juice, avocado, salt and pepper. So fresh and healthy! I call it Beach Shrimp. Yes, it’s on a paper plate. I barely washed my hair much less styled dinner.

I’m back home and it’s hot. I’m craving this perfect meal as it is cold, light and healthy. The best part – it just takes a little time to prepare!

Here’s the recipe if you can call it that:

Shrimp – only fresh. Please. I bought a little over 2 lbs.

Old Bay – ¼ of a cup or 2 heaping tablespoons per pound I’d say

Lemon – a big one – cut into quarters

Add water to a large pot – a little over half way to the top. Squeeze juice from a lemon into the water and toss it in – I quarter it and add it to the water. Add Old Bay and stir. Bring to a boil. Add shrimp and boil 3 minutes for medium and 4 minutes for large shrimp.

Beach Shrimp:

1 lb of cooked, chilled shrimp – peeled and deveined

Tablespoon of mayonnaise

Tablespoon of sour cream

Juice of half of a lemon

One avocado, coarsely chopped

Coarsely ground salt and pepper.  I like Himelayan pink salt.

Toss it all together. I like it alone or over a spring mix salad. It’s also good in French bread served po-boy style.

This will definitely be a recipe made at the beach each summer and enjoyed at home when the mood strikes.  I hope you like it! Comment if you feel like it if you have any beach recipes you enjoy.

Birthday Girl!
My Sea Urchins!