Mediterranean Lentil Salad with Olive Toast

Recipes in this PostLentil Salad with grilled peppers, tomatos, onions and celery with a light olive oil, white wine vinegar dressing

It had been so hot lately in Los Angeles, and even though the day promised to be only in the high 70’s, I still did not want to heat up the house. It was also Friday, which in our house, means no meat. We had some left over grilled sweet peppers that I wanted to use, and some remnants of other vegetables. My friend, Amber, had planted a basil plant I had brought home into two larger containers, and they had plenty of leaves to go with my vegetables. So, what kind of good, cool salad could I make and still have the protein that our bodies require? Lentils were the perfect answer!

As I was checking out at my favorite store, the Adams Supper Market in Glendale, I mentioned my plan to the cashier, and said I would be back later to get some nice crusty bread to go with it if I didn’t have any at home. As it turned out, I did have bread at home, but by the time I discovered I didn’t have any butter, Adams Supper Market was already closed. No problem, Olive Toast to the rescue!

It’s a recipe for a cool, protein rich salad on a hot day.

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Chicken a la King – Weber Style

Recipes in this PostChicken a la King

I really like watching America’s Test Kitchen, and follow them on Facebook. So, when they announced a Kitchen Challenge to make Chicken à la King, I just had to take up the challenge. What makes my Chicken a la King different? Well, it’s barbecue season, and my Weber was sitting outside, crying that it couldn’t join in the fun. I thought to myself, why not? Pimentos are nothing more than very mild chili peppers. I had some lovely yellow, orange and red sweet peppers, and I had some mushrooms and shallots. I also had a chicken breast. All those could go on the grill, couldn’t they? Sure, they could get a lot of flavor to add to a dish that I already really like.

The America’s Test Kitchen challenge is to cook like it’s 1917. Charcoal was developed from waste wood scrap in the Ford Motor Company in 1920, and renamed Kingsford thereafter. Kingsford was a relative of Henry Ford. The Weber grill was not invented until the 1960s but I’m sure that people were barbecuing in some sort of fashion in 1917 – how else would Henry Ford have been able to sell charcoal? I think I’m okay with the time-line, don’t you?

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Easy Meaty Chili

Easy Meaty Chili

Chili with fixin's

Sometimes, on a cold day that looks like it might rain, you have to have chili. Usually, I make a big pot of it, and it cooks a long time to let the beans get nice and soft. Sometimes, you just don’t have that kind of time, but you don’t want something that came out of a can.

I don’t buy the Chili mix in the bag. I make my own, and you should, too. It’s very simple, and better because you can control the heat and you know what’s in it. Basically, it’s a mixture of chilies, cumin and a little salt.

If you live in California, you probably have access to fresh Anaheim chilies, if you live in New Mexico, you have the New Mexico chili which is a bit hotter than the Anaheim. Both chilies have thick skin, so they should be charred before use. When making my chili, I charred two nice big red bells peppers as well.

How to Char Chilies

Charring chilies is very simple. You need four things, the chilies themselves, a gas stove top, long tongs and a plastic bag (the one the chilies came in is fine). Put the gas flame up as high as it will go, and just lay the chili on the burner. Use the tongs to turn the chilies as they char. When most of the skin has been charred, put the chili in the plastic bag, close it, and let the chili steam in the bag. When the chili is cool enough to handle, remove the charred skin under running water. Not only is this a great way to skin a chili pepper, it also give the chili a nice roasted flavor. Of course, if you want really smoky flavor, do it on the Weber!

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Second Chance Banana Bread

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Banana Bread

At my son’s school they have something called “Second Chance Breakfast” for those students who either didn’t have time for breakfast at home, or who are hungry at the midmorning break. Spane has coined a lot of second chance items in our house, dry food for Rolo is “Second Chance Cat Food”, etc.

Spane and I like bananas, and we especially like them when they are just ripe, are firm and might have a little green still on them. I even have a banana slicing tool from Chef’n which makes slicing them a snap. Still, it’s hard for us to get through a small bunch of bananas without one or two going brown. Sure enough, one had gone brown, and knew that it was destined for banana bread.

Why do I call it Second Chance Banana Bread? Well, because it’s a second chance for the banana itself, and because the night Spane and I made it, I was very tired and fell asleep waiting for it to finish baking. When I woke up the house smelled of burnt sugar. The whole loaf was black on top. A little bit in the center had not burned, and we ate that. It was so good, Maria gave me three bananas she had that had also gone brown, so I could make a second loaf – and not burn it.

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Leftover Madness – French Onion Soup, Shrimp Scampi, Ham and Cheese Panini

The past few days have been full of left overs. That’s a good thing, and a good way to save money, but you have to get creative.

When I made the Veal Marsala Meatballs, I made enough to freeze some for another time. Spane and I were at the market on Thursday, and I was thinking of making enchiladas, but Spane didn’t seem to enthusiastic about it, so I asked him if he wanted spaghetti and meatballs, and he said yes.

I had everything I needed to make it, the veal meatballs, a large can of diced tomatoes, basil and garlic. The only thing I needed to make a good meal was a baguette of French bread to make garlic bread to go with our pasta, so I bought a long baguette. It was large enough that I cut it in half and made my garlic butter, intending to make another half on Friday. I bought some large frozen shrimp to have on Friday.

I served the meatballs separately from the pasta, and we ate all of those, and the garlic bread. There was still spaghetti and sauce left over. I had made enough garlic butter for both halves of the bread, and had left the left over in the refrigerator.

I took some of the garlic butter, put it in a pan, and heated the shrimp in that garlic butter. By doing that, I didn’t have quite enough garlic butter for the other half of the baguette, so I added a little olive oil and balsamic butter, whirred it around, spread that on the bread, topped it with a little Parmesan cheese, and threw it in the oven for a few minutes.

We ate all the shrimp Scampi, and all the spaghetti and sauce, and were a little to stuffed to finish the garlic bread.

So, now I had left over balsamic garlic bread. Today, Saturday, was cold and rainy, so soup sounded like the perfect meal. Originally, I was going to make macaroni and cheese as an excuse to turn on Bertha, but grilled cheese sandwiches sounded like a better idea.

What kind of soup could I make and use up the left over garlic bread? Why French Onion, of course. That is such a simple soup to make, and is really fool-proof.

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Rosemary Garlic Chicken Purses with Lavendar Mustard Dipping Sauce

Rosemary Garlic Chicken Cream Cheese Purse with Lavender Mustard Sauce

I graduated from Immaculate Heart High School in 1975. Okay, so now you know how old I am! I have not gone to any of the reunions, and had not heard from any of my former classmates until I found a bunch of them on Facebook.

When I was in high school, one of my best friends was Libby. She lives in another state, and we have been corresponding on Facebook for a while. She said she was coming into Glendale to visit her mother and suggested we get together. Her mother lives a block from Spane’s school. What a coincidence! I haven’t seen her in 36 years, and today, we are going to the park and have a reunion picnic. I am so excited!

Libby has been liking my recipes on Facebook for a while, and even asked me if I remembered making a lemon pie that she liked so much. I decided that she deserved to have a special lunch, so these are thing things I have made:

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