Curry Crazy!!



I love curry! My son's father taught me how to make curry as well as other dishes from his home country of Nepal. Over the years, I've taken a few liberties with my curry dishes, adding whatever vegetables I have on hand to round out my meal. Today I got up early and decided to cook a curry for our dinner. I cooked it early so the flavors would have time to marry well. The secret to a great curry is to fry the spices well. I learned this from my mother-in-law. She was so right! Today's curry has eggplant, onion, potatoes, cayenne pepper, green and yellow pepper and chicken. Make sure you have a nice hearty gravy so it will go well with either naan or rice.  


Eggplant Chicken Curry


1 cayenne pepper, diced

1 small green pepper, diced

1 small yellow pepper, diced

2 small Ichiban eggplant, cubed

1/2 red onion, coarsely chopped

4 red potatoes, peeled and diced

4 boneless chicken thighs, cubed

1 tsp salt

1 Tbs curry powder

1 can tomato sauce ( you can substitute tomato soup if you don't have any)

1/2 cup water

1 Tbs canola oil


In a large skillet heat canola oil over medium heat, add peppers, eggplant, onion, potatoes and chicken. Fry with curry powder and salt until vegetables are tender and chicken is cooked through, about 5-10 minutes. Add tomato sauce and water to make your gravy and let simmer for about an hour. Serve over rice or with naan. Serves 4-6 people. 

Everything Is Better With Borscht


(photo courtesy of


Everything is better with borscht. And nothing is truer on a bitter winter day. This winter has been colder than usual here in NC. We even had an amazing 10 inches of snow in February. In fact, it snowed Monday - little wispy flakes that swirled around but didn't stick. So on Tuesday I decided it was a soup kind of day. I'd always wanted to make borscht so I did some research on this traditional Russian and Ukranian soup, checked out a bunch of different recipes and then went to work on my own - starting with homemade chicken stock. The result was thinner than I would have liked and next time I'll probably increase the amount of roasted beets I use for a thicker consistency.



  • 1 qt chicken stock
  • 6 medium to large beets, roasted and cubed
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • half head of cabbage, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • quarter onion, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 teas sea salt
  • 1/2 cup sweet Italian sausage, browned and drained.

In a stock pot brown onion and minced garlic in olive oil. Add chicken stock, beets, carrots, cabbage and sausage. Simmer until carrots and cabbage are tender, about 10 minutes.  Serve with a dollop of sour cream. Serves 4.


Easy School & Work Lunches; Mini Taco Bowl Recipe

You don't have to be Jamie Oliver to know school lunches are far from nutritious at most public school cafeterias

You can wait for change to come in the schools or you can start your own food revolution at home by preparing healthy, kid friendly foods your kids can take to school in eco-friendly lunch boxes.  

I like bento boxes for school (and work lunches too).  They're great for fun and attractive mini-meals.

If you're looking for some easy and appealing recipes the whole family will enjoy, Kraft features recipes from Mini Taco Bowls to Mini Meat Loaves - and everything in between. 

Recipes featuring small versions of our favorite comnfort foods are big hits in our household.  Quick to make, they're fun and tasty to eat.


Mini Taco Bowls

Mini Taco Bowls

modified from


8 flour tortillas (6 inch)

1 lb. extra-lean ground beef or turkey

1 cup TACO BELL® HOME ORIGINALS® Thick 'N Chunky Salsa

1/2 cup KRAFT 2% Milk Shredded Cheddar Cheese

2 cups chopped lettuce

1 tomato, chopped

1/4 cup KRAFT Ranch Dressing


HEAT oven to 350°F. MICROWAVE tortillas on HIGH 30 sec. Line each of 8 muffin cups with 1 tortilla. Carefully fold back edges of tortillas, leaving opening in centers for filling. BAKE 10 min.

Meanwhile, brown meat in large skillet; drain. Stir in salsa; bring to boil. Simmer on medium-low heat 10 min.

SPOON meat mixture into tortilla bowls; top with remaining ingredients.  


Serve with your favorite fresh fruit.

If desired, substitute 2 cups shredded cooked chicken for the browned ground beef and sour cream for the dressing.


CIA Recipe: Roasted Red Pepper Apricot Relish

Relish the flavors of summer all year.

The Culinary Institute of America has a great recipe for Roasted Red Pepper & Apricot relish, delicious for crostini and great to be enjoyed now and later.

Here in the Carolinas, we have fresh peaches in season now and I'd substitute those for apricots to take advantage of  local farm offerings.

You can find this recipe and more from the CIA cookbook, Vegetables (2007, Lebhar Friedman).

Real, Honest Food with Sam the Cooking Guy & Just Grill This

Grilled Whole Trout with Sam the Cooking Guy

Forget about the 12 Emmys.

Sam Zien, better known as Sam the Cooking Guy, is just a regular guy who likes to cook real, honest food.

Okay, It's hard to forget about the Emmys.

But, Sam the Cooking Guy is down-to-earth and easy to talk food with.  He gives home cooks carte blanche, or complete freedom, to use short cuts. I love it whenever I have permission to cheat, especially when it tastes this good.

Frozen shrimp? Check. Ditto, frozen scallops and steaks.  Pizza crusts?  Cooked chicken breast? A big up.  

Sam compares cooking to riding a bicycle. You get on and you pedal.  The more you do it, the better you get.

The Canadian-born everyman of cooking started out just like everyone else - by opening the refrigerator door, peering in, and trying to figure out what would be good to eat. He began by grilling for his wife.

"I would go out and do the burning," Zien recalled recently. "Kelly and I would pretend it was good and eat it."  But, the more he grilled, cooked and experimented, the better the food tasted.

Along the way, he discovered his life's work.  

Originally, he intended to create a TV travel show for regular people who wanted to discover far flung places in uncomplicated ways. Poised to start, September 11th happened and with it, the way we live and travel was altered forever, so Zien had to rethink his idea.

Since everyone eats, a food show seemed like the next best option. 

Now, he's host of a regular half hour show Just Cook This, Thursday nights on Discovery Health, which is taped in his San Diego, CA, home, complete with wife, kids, and dogs. 

His third book, Just Grill This, (Wiley, softcover, US$19.95, 256 pp), is now out.  In our house, I've designated it as the go-to cookbook for the men in my life who love to eat but aren't very skilled in the kitchen.

Sam had some great ideas for my 12-year-old son, who is excited about learning to cook, and my boyfriend who wants to learn to cook, but is intimidated by food that requires more than five ingredients.

For my son to try, he recommended trying the Fry Dog, a basic hot dog made with great kosher hot dogs, topped with French Fries and spicy mayo.  We made a souped up version, adding our own twist with melted cheese and chili.

Think chili cheese fries over a hot dog. Delicious!

For my boyfriend, Sam suggested making Sesame Grilled Meatballs, a success story for any new cook.  A grill, a bag of defrosted fully cooked meatballs, skewers, hoisin and chili sauce, sesame oil and chopped green onions - you're in business.

There really is nothing like grilled meat on a stick.  

"Meatballs," he said. "Yeah, meatballs. Just do it. I love giving my guests a job. I hand them the appetizers. It gives them something fun to do and frees me up to do other stuff."

Just Grill This! Flipping through this third cookbook, it's easy to get whipped up about dinner - or lunch, or snacks, or drinks or dessert for that matter. This cookbook and his others are not only fun, but filled with recipes that are accessible for home cooks of all experience levels.  The same warmth and wit that makes Sam the Cooking Guy so approachable in person and on TV comes through in print.  

Among his favorite recipes are Sweet Sticky Ribs, Cedar Plank Salmon and Grilled Catfish Sandwich. Popular with his kids are what his sons call Sam Pockets, round refrigerator rolls flattened and stuffed with any filling you can dream up, then baked about 20 minutes or until lightly browned.

Keeping a well-stocked pantry is essential for happy, well-fed people. There are a few basic essentials that Sam the Cooking Guy recommends.  Contrary to popular belief, there is no shame in a shortcut or frozen food. 

On a trip to Hong Kong, he watched fascinated as women shopped for fresh foods to cook, thinking they were doing their daily food shopping. What he discovered was that these home cooks made a trip to the market for each meal. The reality for most households is that grocery shopping has got to be done far less frequently, but that doesn't mean food has to be industrial, fast food, bad for you or boring.

Kitchen Essentials

  • Sauces - Hoisin, Teriyaki, BBQ, Chili
  • Frozen Foods - Shrimp, Scallops, Steaks
  • General Foods - Olive Tapenade, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Kosher Salt & Fresh Ground Black Pepper

My new favorite is the Whole Grilled Trout.  It fits right in with my favorite kitchen theory: the meal should look really fantastic, appearing complex, but really a breeze to prepare. On the plus side, you can use any whole fish for this recipe.

"This is about really good, honest food. Simple.  You make it. You eat it. It tastes great," Zien said.


Make Macaroni Pie Your Own


Every Caribbean mommy has a macaroni pie recipe.  It's made as many different ways as there are women to reinvent this recipe and make it their own.

The barebones version, the kind you can find in every New York roti shop, is a little more than a baked macaroni and cheese casserole, but when a Caribbean mommy starts burning, which here means cooking up some homestyle comfort food, stand back and take notes.

I got a Barbados version by way of St. Vincent from my wonderful friend, Andrea Jacobs, and made it my own.  Many if not most recipes call for egg, but I happened to be out of eggs when I made mine recently and discovered they were not necessarily an essential ingredient - good news to those with egg allergies.

If you're pressed for time, you can use packaged grated cheese with good results.

This is a great side dish for cookouts, potlucks and family gatherings.  I like to divide the dish into smaller foil containers so we can have one for now and another for later.  The  Macaroni Pie freezes well and can go straight from the freezer to the oven for reheating.


Southern-style Macaroni Pie

16 ounces short pasta (I prefer penne, but many like elbow or other shapes)

1 tablespoon chicken bouillon (Vegeta or Mrs. Dash works too)

8 ounces cheddar cheese, grated (about 2cups) 

8 ounces mozzarella, grated (about 2 cups)

8 oz ricotta cheese

1 cup Italian bread crumbs

4 oz butter (one stick)

salt and pepper to taste

Grease a 2 quart baking dish. 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Reserve one half cup of the cheddar and mozzarella cheeses to top the Macaroni pie.

Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil. Add a pinch of salt to the water and pour in the pasta. Cook for about 10 minutes, or until al dente. The pasta should not be soft, but be a little firm to bite.

Drain pasta well in a colander, and then pour it back into the cooking pot. Add the bouillon, cheeses, half the stick of butter and half of the bread crumbs to the pasta.  

Salt and pepper to taste and stir to combine all of the ingredients well.

Pour the pasta mixture into the greased baking dish, top with remaining cheeses and bread crumbs. Bake in a preheated oven for about an hour, or until a knife inserted into the middle comes out clean. Allow the pie to rest for 15 minutes. Cut into squares and serve.

Note: If the top begins to brown too quickly, add a piece of foil over the top of the baking dish.


The art of simple food

Last week I picked up a used copy of Alice Water's The Art of Simple Food at my local library book sale.  It was perhaps the best and most satisfying $5 I've spent recently.

Though it isn't a new cookbook, it is indeed a delicious revolution.

The chapter I'm digging into, pardon my corny self, is Salads.

There is no meal or side dish quite so simply elegant and satisfying as the salad. When Waters writes, "I love salad. I love to wash it. I love to eat it. As far as I'm concerned, a meal withut one is incomplete," I feel as if she has channeled my thoughts exactly.

So it is with great delight and anticipation that I peruse her writings on the composed salad, the art of combining and arranging ingredients on a plate. I anticipate the mesclun and fresh herbs from my edible garden- if I can wrest them from the digging squirrels - as mainstays on many a happy plate from my kitchen.

The joy of salad making for me is the infinte variety.  From fresh seasonal vegetables and fruits to tasty roast leftover meats to slivers of nuts and cheese, there are many and diverse ways to build a lovely salad. 

Here is a recipe using one of my favorite ingredients, the beautiful beet.

Recipe: Marinated beet salad

Alice Waters, "The Art of Simple Food"

Beets of different colors make a very beautiful salad.  Dress the red ones separately so their color doesn’t bleed all over the others.

  • 1 pound beets (red, Chioggia, golden, or white)
  • Salt
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar (red wine, sherry, or white wine vinegar)
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil.

Trim the greens to 1/2 inch from 1 pound beets (red, Chioggia, golden or white).

Wash thoroughly. Put them in a baking dish with a little water (enough to cover the bottom of the dish to a depth of 1/8 inch) and sprinkle with salt.

Cover tightly and bake the beets in a 350°F oven until they can be easily pierced with a sharp knife, 30 minutes to 1 hour, depending on their size. Uncover and cool. Cut off the tops and roots and slip off the skins. Cut the peeled beets into small wedges or 1/4-inch dice and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon vinegar (red wine, sherry or white wine vinegar) and salt.

Let stand for a few minutes to allow the beets to absorb the flavor. Taste and add more salt or vinegar as needed. Toss with 1 to 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil.

Serve alone, or with other salads.



  • Substitute fresh orange juice for some of the vinegar and toss with grated orange zest.
  • Toss with 1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs such as mint, tarragon or cilantro.


Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything iPad app

Download Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything has now been optimized for the iPad.

The new app contains 2,000 no-nonsense recipes, plus hundreds of technique illustrations, cooking tips, and detailed ingredient and equipment advice.

The app features extensively enhanced search capability, shopping lists, multiple timers for every recipe, bookmarks within recipes, a recipe note option, featured recipe photos, and more.

Like the iPhone version, this app can be used anywhere, anytime, online or offline. It’s the ultimate companion to everybody’s favorite cookbook.

Written by Mark Bittman, the longtime New York Times columnist, television personality, author, and blogger, How to Cook Everything promotes a simple and accessible approach to home cooking.

For more than 10 years, cooks have relied on this cookbook to make crowd-pleasing food using fresh, natural ingredients; simple techniques; and basic equipment.

In the new How to Cook Everything iPad app you’ll find brand new iPad-only features including:

·        Intuitive filters that pinpoint searches by multiple ingredients, techniques, or cuisines

·        At-a-glance access to all the book’s how-to illustrations

·        Note-taking capability for every recipe

·        Bookmarks to hold your place in several recipes at a time

·        A constant-on option to allow uninterrupted reading and recipe review

·        Featured recipes, now with photos

  The iPad app also contains:

·        Customizable (and email-friendly) shopping lists

·        Built-in timers

·        Immediate inspiration with Bittman’s Picks, Quick Dinners, and Most Popular features

·        Printing option for recipes and shopping lists

Available at iTunes for $9.99.

Hangover cures from your kitchen

It's been more than a minute since I had a cure-worthy hangover.  My life is so exciting that I'm generally in bed before the real revelers are evenh dressed and ready to head to the party. 

But it's good to know that a few of my favorite foods are cures for the dreaded hangover should need ever arise.

Ted Loos expounds on the curative and restorative powers of pancakes, bacon, chocolate, eggs and more at

Even if you don't have a hangover, these taste treats sound nummy.


Holiday dessert classic La Tarte Tatin from Julia Child

Watch the full episode. See more Julia Child.


God bless PBS. 

The educational TV channel has uploaded 28 Julia Child videos. 

And just in time for the holidays, you too can watch and learn to  make a classic ,  LaTarte Tatin, made with juicy, tart and tangy apples.

Bon appetit, now you may eat!