Pork Ragu over Egg Noodles

Hello all — Last week we had a hug-filled, noisy reunion of women we had met with as young moms for 10 years a while back.  We  didn’t stop talking all night, catching up with each other from start to finish.  So many stories!

And for dinner we had big bowls of noodles and this pork ragu, simmered slow and long until it is fork tender.  With a beautiful big salad and Glenda’s amazing cheesecake, we talked and ate until late.

16 oz. egg noodles
3 to 4  pound pork shoulder roast
salt & freshly ground pepper
2 tab. olive oil (and maybe a little more)
1 large onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 tab. tomato paste
1 cup red wine
28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 tsp. dried basil
1 large sprig of rosemary
2 bay leaves
garnish:  parmesan romano, grated

Cut the pork roast into smallish bite size chunks.  Then heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in your soup pot.  Drop in the pork (I did it in two batches so the pot wasn’t too crowded) and liberally salt and pepper the pork.  Cook it on medium high for 8 to 10 minutes until the meat is browned on all sides.  Take if from the pot and set it aside on a plate.

In the same pot add the onion and saute for 4 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook a minute more. Then sire in the tomato paste and red wine and let it cook down at a simmer for about 5 minutes.

Then add in the pork (and the juices that collect on the plate), tomatoes, basil, rosemary and bay leaves.  Keep it all at a low simmer for 2 to 3 hours until the pork is fork tender.

Cook the egg noodles according to the directions on the package in salted water.  Drain well and spread on a big platter, topped with the rage.  Serve with grated parmesan romano — delish!

Here we are around the table.  We’ve been through a lot together– raising babies, losing parents, problems at school, work stress, crazy family stuff, an arduous adoption…  Love these girls bunches.


Simple Pasta Sauce

Hello pasta lovers– I’m with you on this– what’s more warming and homey tan a bowl of pasta with a fresh tangy sauce??

Saw this recipe in a Food & Wine magazine and realized I had all I needed on hand in the kitchen.  That’s what’s so nice about it– no fancy ingredients and ready in less than 30 minutes.  Perfect for a busy weekday dinner.

your favorite pasta
2 tab. olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and grated
3 cloves garlic, minced
28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 tab. butter
1 tsp. dried basil
garnish: parmesan & fresh basil or marjoram*

Heat the olive oil in a deep pot.  Add in the onion and cook for about 5 minutes until it is soft.  Add in the grated carrot and minced garlic and cook 1 minute more.

Stir in the crushed tomatoes and salt to taste.  Simmer on low for 20 minutes, covered with a lid.

While it’s simmering, cook your favorite pasta (we did fresh tortellini).

Then stir the butter and basil into the sauce.  Serve over hot cooked pasta. Garnish with basil & parmesan.

*I used marjoram because it grows year round with no help from me, in the side yard.

Mexican Cobb Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing


Hi all– We are trying to get a little jump on summer here.  It’s been warm and my thoughts are already on summer break, lazing in bed mornings with a book, lunch dates with friends, weekend beach walks, dinner out under the maples in the backyard…  It’s all about slowing down, less rush.

And salads.  A bright salad for dinner, makes it seem like summer.  Fresh colorful veggies, salty bacon and cheese.  And tart cilantro lime dressing.  It isn’t June yet, but with this salad on the table, it feels like summer!


4 cups leafy greens
3 small tomatoes, cut in quarters
1 firm avocado, peeled and cut in chunks
1/2 cup fresh (or frozen) corn kernels
1 Persian cucumber, sliced thin
3 strips of bacon, fried & crumbled
1 cup canned black beans, rinsed
2 hard boiled eggs, cut in half
1/3  cup cortijo cheese*

1/4 cup olive oil
2 tab. lime juice (about 1 large lime)
2 tab. cilantro, chopped fine
1/2 tsp. sugar
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

This is easy.  Spread the lettuces out on a platter and spoon the other ingredients on top.  Done!

For the dressing, put the olive oil, lime juice, cilantro, sugar and salt & pepper into a container with a tight fitting lid.  Shake til it’s thoroughly blended and drizzle over the salad.

Great served with a chunk of cornbread– or if there’s no time to bake, a handful of crispy tortilla chips. Dinner for two.  Enjoy!

*I didn’t have cortijo cheese in the fridge, so used feta.


Tomato Ricotta Tart

Hello all– Since we are tardy tomato planters around here, we still have a bit of a crop coming in out back.  So when the teachers at school had a TGIF last Friday to celebrate the first two weeks of school completed with no major mishaps, I grabbed a few tomatoes from the yard (And some orange ones from the market) to make this happy tart.

You know all those bright colors just look like cheerful food.  And the salty feta, pungent rosemary and flaky pastry.  It’s just fine to go with a glass of wine and lots of frenetic, noisy conversation.  (thanks Kim for making us all laugh and Maryann for having us all in– it was the best!)


1 sheet frozen puff pastry (1/2 package)
4 oz. feta cheese
1/2 cup roasted red peppers, chopped to bits
1 tsp. chopped rosemary (or your favorite herb)
plus a sprig of rosemary for garnish
1 pint cherry tomatoes,* sliced in rounds
a couple shakes of garlic salt
2 tab. olive oil
1/4 tsp more chopped rosemary

Defrost the sheet of puff pastry (I left it overnight in the fridge)– and then carefully unfold it and set it onto a baking sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray.

Score a border about 1/2″ in from the edge of the pastry.  And poke the center inside the border all across with the the tines of a fork.

Then pop the pastry into a 400 degree oven for just ten minutes until the pastry browns.

Take if from the oven and sprinkle on the feta.  Top that with the roasted red pepper bits.  Sprinkle the 1 tsp. chopped rosemary over the top and then settle on the sliced tomatoes.

Sprinkle on a few shakes of garlic salt and put it bake into the 400 degree oven for about 5 to 10 minutes more.

Take it out and drizzle on the olive oil.  Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 tsp. of chopped rosemary and garnish with a fresh sprig of rosemary.

Good served hot or room temperature.  Enjoy!!



White Bean & Bacon Tomato Soup

DSC00443Hello all– There’s not usually bacon hanging around in our fridge.  But when the kids are coming home for a visit, I head straight for the market and get all the things they like to eat. Including bacon.  Lots of it.

So now they’ve come and gone for Christmas/New Years.  And there’s still a bit of bacon lingering in our kitchen.  What better to do with it, than a big pot of white bean & bacon tomato soup?  It’s one of those warm & cozy soups– sweet little beans, salty bacon and all that rich tomato holding it all together.  With a slab of brown bread and a crunchy salad, it’s dinner.

1/3 pound bacon (about 6 slices), cut to bits
2 onions, chopped fine
4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tab. fresh thyme leaves
2 late bay leaves
1/2 tsp. salt
several grinds of fresh pepper
28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes
14 oz. can petit cut tomatoes
2 cups chicken broth
2 14 oz. cans cannellini beans, rinsed in a strainer
garnish– thyme sprigs & grade parmesan romano

Cook the cut bacon in a soup pot until lightly browned.  Remove the bacon.  Pour out all but 3 tab. of the bacon fat from the pot.

Add the cut onions to the pot.  When they are lightly browned, add in the garlic, thyme, bay leaves, salt and pepper.  Cook a minute more.

Then add in the crushed tomatoes, petit cut tomatoes, chicken broth and cannellini beans. Simmer the soup for 15 minutes.

Serve it up hot topped with grated parmesan romano cheese and a sprig of thyme just to make it pretty.


Browned Eggplant with Tomatoes, Olives & Feta

IMG_2050Hi there– I found this recipe in a magazine while I was sitting waiting at the ophthalmologist’s office for an eye exam.  (I guess a good recipe is some small compensation for a trip to the doctor!!)  Tempted as I was to tear out the page with the instructions, I took my waiting to time to commit it to memory (more of less) and here it is!

We’ve still got summer tomatoes at the market and who can resist a happy purple eggplant?  Made it up for dinner with some grilled talpia and a seedy chunk of bread.  Just about right for a warm end of the summer evening…

1 plump purple eggplant
1/4 cup olive oil
1 green heirloom tomato
1 red heirloom tomato
1/2 cup feta with herbs & garlic, cut in chunks
1/2 cup mixed olives
a splash more olive oil
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves (cut if large)
salt & freshly ground pepper

IMG_2032Cut the eggplant into 1/4″ slices and set them on a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet.  Put it under the broiler on medium heat for 5 minutes and then flip the pieces of eggplant and broil for 5 minutes more.  (I had the rack about 10″ below the broiling unit– keep your eye on it so it doesn’t burn!)

While the eggplant is cooking, slice the tomatoes into pretty thin slices.

When he eggplant is done, brush both sides with the 1/4 cup olive oil and arrange the slices on a plate with the tomatoes.  Scatter the olives, feta and basil over the top of it all and give it a good splash of olive oil and a little sprinkle of salt & pepper.

Makes plenty for 4 people (maybe 6).

Saucy Tomato Chicken with Pasta

Hello there– We all know that actually cooking up a  dinner isn’t nearly as hard as figuring out what to fix for dinner and making sure you have all you need to fix it.  That’s why I like this simple dish– Look at the ingredients.  Chances are you have everything you need already sitting in your kitchen.

So when I come in the dinner about 5:00 and just start thinking oh yeah–dinner.  This dish saves the day.  Bright and fresh, it’s a good one.

2 boneless chicken breasts
splash olive oil
a few shakes of garlic salt
1 onion, chopped fine
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tab. cornstarch
2 cans petit cut tomatoes*
14 oz. can chicken broth
1 tsp. dried basil
8 oz. of your favorite pasta
garnish of parmesan

Heat the olive oil in a skillet while you slice the chicken breasts horizontally to make thin fillets.  Cook the chicken in the hot oil for 2 minutes on each side to brown it, giving it a sprinkle of garlic salt.  Remove the chicken from the pan.

In the hot skillet cook the onion (add a bit of oil if it seems dry) for 5 minutes, adding the garlic to cook the last minute.  Then stir  the cornstarch into the pan coating the onions.  Keep the heat on high and add the chicken broth, can of tomatoes and dried basil.  And keep at a low simmer while the sauce thickens– about  5 minutes.

Put the pasta on to cook and while that cooking, return the chicken to the skillet with the tomato mixture and cover the top with a lid.  Simmer on the lowest setting for about 10 minutes until the chicken is tender.

Serve up the pasta topped with the chicken and sauce– You can grate a bit of parmesan on top to finish it off.

Rosemary Tomato Pork Cutlets

IMG_8186Hello all– I’m so glad we have a hearty rosemary bush out in our side yard– not thanks to us– The family who lived here before us 20 years ago planted it and we’ve been reaping the bounty every since.  So here’s a simple, savory dish that takes advantage of a fresh sprig of rosemary.  It’s quick and easy for dinner in a hurry.

4 pork cutlets (about 1/2″ thick)
splash olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. rosemary, minced
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 can petit cut tomatoes with garlic & herbs

Heat the olive oil in a sauté pan and then toss in the pork cutlets.  Brown them on medium high for just 2 to 3 minutes per side, until they are just browned.  Move them over to a baking dish.

Into the same sauté pan add the onion and cook for 3 to 5 minutes until the onion stats to brown (if the pan seems dry add a bit more olive oil).  then stir in the garlic, rosemary and oregano and cook 2 minutes more.  Then pour in the tomatoes and mix well.

Pour the tomato mixture over the pork chops in the baking dish and pop it into a 425 degree over for just 8 to 10 minutes (depending on how thick your pork it cut).

It’s great with a big bowl of pasta, a pile of mashed potatoes or herbed couscous…

Roasted Tomato Soup


Hey there– It’s true I have loved that tomato basil soup at the Corner Bakery ever since it popped up in our neighborhood years ago.  I tried in vain to locate the recipe and finally gave up.  But on a chilly Friday evening last week, Larry and I walked the mile for a soupy dinner there and it got me thinking about making that spicy soup again.  When I got home, I googled it up and there it was!!  Oh joy!  So this weekend, I made us a pot, hot and steamy.  If you love tomato soup, I think you’ll think this is the best!

3 pounds roma tomatoes
1/4 cup olive oil (plus another splash)
salt & freshly ground pepper
2 cups chopped onion
a small pinch of red pepper*
6 cloves of garlic, minced
2 14 oz. cans of petit cut tomatoes
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups fresh basil leaves
1 tsp. thyme leaves

Slice the roma tomatoes in half lengthwise and set them out cut side up on a baking sheer.  Drizzle the 1/4 cup olive oil over them and liberally salt them with salt and fresh pepper.  Pop them in a 425 degree oven for 45 minutes.


When the tomatoes come out of the oven, brown the onion in a pot with the splash of olive oil.  When they are almost done, add in the garlic and the pinch of red pepper (be careful to not over pepper it all!).  When the onions are caramelized, pour in the tomatoes, juice and all, and the chicken broth.  Toss in the roasted tomatoes, basil and thyme and simmer it all on low for about 45 minutes.

With a stick blender or food processor, blend it all to an even consistency and serve it up piping hot with croutons or a swirl of sour cream.

*I used the 1/8 teaspoon that the recipe recommended and it was too spicy for my taste– start small and you can always add more!

Simple Tomato Soup

Hi everyone–  Ani’s home for along weekend and Saturday night we tucked in for a cozy evening at home–  crackling fire in the fireplace, Cal football on the t.v. and hot tomato soup supper around the coffee table.  What could be more fun than that?  (Well,   OK, it would have been more fun if Cal won the game.)  But in any case, you might like this warming winter soup.

1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
10 sprigs of thyme, tied together with a thread
1 large onion, chopped fine
1 cloves garlic, minced
4 14oz. cans petite cut tomatoes*
2 tsp. sugar
1/2 cup cream (or half’n’half)
salt & pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a large pot.  Throw in the onion, garlic and thyme and saute until the onions are tender and starting to brown. Then add in the tomatoes, sugar, 1 can of water and simmer it all together for about 30 minutes to blend the flavors.  Discard the thyme sprigs and then puree the soup with a stick blender or food processor (I don’t go too crazy on the blending, I like the soup to have a little texture).  Stir in the cream, salt and pepper and simmer for about 10 minutes on low, low heat.  Garnish with a bit of sour cream and a twig of thyme.  Eat it hot by a fire in the hearth.

*I like S& W brand petite cut tomatoes with onion and garlic–they taste to fresh!

Fresh Tomato Basil Frittata

Well hello there– With the yellow bowl of tomatoes on the kitchen counter spilling over, I tried a new dinner for us, a tomato frittata and a big summer salad.  We spread out on the coffee table to eat by the t.v. because I just couldn’t miss those incredible (and adorable) girl gymnasts at the Olympics.  So, it was happy endings!!– the girls won the gold medal and the frittata turned out just fine.

2 tab. olive oil
6 eggs
4 tab. grated parmesan
1 clove garlic, minced
salt & pepper
5 ripe plum tomatoes
1/2 cup fresh basil, cut into slices

Cut the tomatoes into thin slices and spread them on a paper towel to soak off extra juices.  Heat the oil in the pan and whisk up the eggs with the parmesan and a few shakes of salt and fresh ground pepper.  Pour the eggs into the pan and cook on medium heat until they are partially set and the edges are browned.  Sprinkle the basil on the eggs and then layer the tomatoes on top.  Set the pan into a 350 degree oven and bake until the eggs are completely set in the center, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Slice up the frittata and add a bright green salad and a slice of sturdy bread.  A nice light dinner or a great addition to brunch.

Three Toast Toppers

Hi friends–  Here’s some savory little snacks that are just right for a summer lunch sitting with a good book or to have with a pitcher of Sangria and a table full of friends in the backyard on a summer evening.  I was surprised how quickly and easily they went together.

1 avocado
garlic salt
red pepper flakes
cherry tomatoes
fresh basil, cut in ribbons
olive oil
a tub of ricotta
orange peel, grated from 1 orange
1 baguette, sliced and toasted

Pile chunks of avocado on the toast and sprinkle with garlic salt and red pepper flakes.  That’s it.  Easy!

Cut the cherry tomatoes in half.  Arrange them on the toasts and sprinkle the cut basil over the top.  Splash on some olive oil and they’re ready.  (Unless you’d like to add a little garlic salt)

Spoon the ricotta onto the toasts.  Spread a little of the orange peel on top and drizzle honey over it all.  Delish.