Dinner and Lunches

Roasted Chickpea and Sweet Potato Salad


Dear Salad, I’ve decided I like you. Once, a long time ago, I pushed you around on my plate and picked at you. Now, you’ve become dinner. Thank you adulthood.

Real posting might return next week, if the world slows down a bit. For now, enjoy this salad. 


Roasted Chickpea and Sweet Potato Kale Salad

Adapted from I Will Not Eat Oysters

For the roasted chickpeas:

  • 1 15 oz cans of chickpeas, rinsed, drained, and dried
  • Salt, pepper, and chile powder to taste

Roasted for 20 minutes at 375 degrees.

For the roasted sweet potatoes:

  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Roast for 20 minutes at 375 degrees. Can be roasted together with the chickpeas.

For the salad:

  • 3 cups of kale, washed and chopped into small, bite sized strips
  • 1 cup of red quinoa, cooked.
  • 1 cup crumbled feta
  • Tahini Sauce (from Trade Joe’s)

Roast your chickpeas and sweet potatoes in a 375 degree oven. In a large bowl, mix together the kale, feta, sweet potatoes, quinoa, and chickpeas. Sprinkle the tahini sauce on the salad, about 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time. Toss and coat. Enjoy.


Roasted Chickpea and Sweet Potato Salad


Roasted Chickpea and Sweet Potato Salad


Chicken and Dumplings

Sometimes, you get to a point in your relationship with a magazine you’ve subscribed to for years where you start to forget why you subscribed in the first place. And then, given that it’s a new year and you find yourself re-evaluating how you spend, waste, and use your time, you discover something profound. That really, it may be your perspective on the publication that stalled your relationship.

When January’s Cooking Light came in the mail, my first reaction was a sarcastic mental comment, “Gee, wow — chicken on the cover. Surprise, surprise.” And yet there I was, leafing through the pages before going to bed, paying attention to the recipes as I sipped my morning coffee. A complete departure from haphazardly scanning the entire magazine, which is what my relationship with Cooking Light had become over the last 6-8 months.

We’ve been talking a lot of mindfulness and being present, both at home and at work. With this, that, and the other pulling on our time (what do mean there’s a new season of White Collar on Netflix?), it’s easy to be “there” but not present. Which is how I’d approached Cooking Light previously — there, but not “present.”

This mindfulness paid off — with a delicious, warming chicken and dumpling soup. And because I wasn’t paying total attention, the dumplings came out a bit larger and “rustic” looking.

Chicken and Dumplings Soup, adapted from Cooking Light

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons dried tarragon
  • 2 leaks, trimmed, washed and cut into thin half moons
  • 2 celery stalks, cut along the diagonal into thin slices
  • 2 carrots, cut diagonally into thin slices
  • 1/5 cup sugar snap peas, cut identically to the carrots and celery
  • 2 garlic cloves, push through the garlic press
  • 3/4 pound of shredded, cooked chicken breast
  • 4 cups of chicken stock, unsalted or home made
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4.5 ounces of flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup of milk

In a large Dutch oven, sauté the leeks over medium head. Add salt, pepper, and half of the tarragon. Saute for 1-2 minutes until fragrant. Add the celery, carrots, garlic to the pan. Saute for an additional 5 minutes. Add the chicken stock, bringing the whole contents to a boil. Allow to cook for 10 minutes, until vegetables are just tender. Add the chicken to the dish, cover to keep warm.

Combine the flour, baking power and remaining tarragon with salt and pepper in a bowl. Using a pastry cutter or fork, cut in the butter until the mixture is course and meal like. Add the milk, combine until just moist. Using 2 teaspoons, drop the dough into the stock, forming 16 small or 8 large dumplings. Cover and simmer for 7-9 minutes, until the dumplings are cooked through.

Chicken and Dumplings

Shrimp on the Beach

We’d been dreaming of these shrimp in the weeks leading up to our flight. On the Big Island of Hawaii, we eagerly mentioned our excitement at being on Oahu soon. We schemed and planned how many times we’d be able to make it to the North Shore and these shrimp. And once we arrived on Oahu, we couldn’t stop raving about how delicious these shrimp were to all our friends who’d travelled farther than us to be in Hawaii at the same time.  Our rental mini van and sedan full of hungry travelers, we led the cavalry to battle, confident in our knowledge and “native traveler” know how.

The shrimp truck was not there.

Worse, the dirt lot normally occupied by many food trucks was roped off, with large signs spray painted with black. “Closed,” they said.

Closed. I’m pretty sure I felt a small ping of adrenaline kick in, maybe even a twinge of remorse. My fondness for seafood had been minimal at best for many years prior. And shellfish: no thank you. Then I ate these shrimp – naked cajun barbecue shrimp, with brown rice, fresh baguette, and a buttery, spicy, umami-i sauce. Hooked ever since.

Small panic subsided when, thanks to the miracle of cell phones and 3G connectivity, we found out where we could hunt down our lunch truck. We found him – Dat Cajun Guy – just north of Shark’s Cove, tucked off the side of the road.

And we ended up eating shrimp on the beach. We’re still trying to figure out what was better: our serendipity in connecting with the owner/chef over cell phone or our lunch time view.

Shrimp on the BeachIf you’re possibly craving shrimp after that little tale, here’s my quick and tasty shrimp — not quite what we ate that afternoon in Hawaii, but tasty enough to do the trick. I honestly think it’s the butter that helps give the shrimp a bit of richness. If butter isn’t your style, olive oil is great too. If someone has done this with coconut oil, let me know…because it sounds…you know…yummy.

Salt, Pepper, Lime Shrimp (aka, I can’t believe this is a recipe)

  • 1 TBS of butter per 3/4 pounds of peeled, deveined shrimp
  • Generous amount of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon of course sea salt
  • 1 clove of of garlic
  • Zest of one lime

In a medium or large non stick sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat. At the garlic, cooking until fragrant, maybe 2 minutes. Add the shrimp, sprinkling with the black pepper, sea salt, and about half the lime zest. Watch for the shrimp to start to turn pink (1-2 minutes, depending on the size of your shrimp and the heat of your pan). Flip them over. Repeat the same seasoning pattern.

Remove from pan and serve with rice. Or, as pictured below, with rice and sautéed corn and red onion. You can even poor any left over cooking liquid on top.

Salt Pepper and Lime Shrimp | Kitchen Notes



A-bay, HawaiiBeing a good blogger and traveler, I took some sweet aerial shots of our little island hopper planning departing from Honolulu. Imagine the coast line and Honolulu’s dense city skyline. Then to conserve battery,  I turned my phone off and preceded to place the phone on the seat next to me. Where it stay, until I disembarked and the phone was finally found by someone who (hopefully) needed it more than I.

The good part, it’s pretty freeing to be phone less. No one that needs to be texted, answers that can’t be easily found by just pulling up Google. (Although, Google, thank you for showing us the route to a delicious dinner in Hilo, courtesy of my parent’s phone).

The picture above is taken with the iPad, in a daring adventure I call operation read at the beach. Later that day, we wandered some of the area and found a small grocery store. Groceries purchased, we proceed to make a lovely and simple pasta dinner – local Hawaiian grown carrots and mainland kale included.

Vacation. It’s pretty blessed.

On an Island Pasta Dinner

  • 1.25 lbs ground turkey, chicken or beef
  • 2 lbs of penne pasta, or other short pasta
  • 2 large carrots
  • 1 medium red onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 large bunch of curly leafed kale
  • 2 small zucchini
  • 3/4 cup of chopped, fresh parsley
  • Red wine – whatever you have on hand
  • 1 jar of Newman’s Own Tomato Basil sauce
  • 1 small can of tomatoes
  • Salt, pepper, and crushed red chili flakes

In large saute pan, brown the meat. Add salt and pepper – about 1/4 teaspoon of each. Add a sprinkling of red pepper flakes. Cook the meat until totally browned through. Move the cooked meat to a separate bowl.

Chop the kale into rough stripes. In a cleaned saute pan, cook the kale until the color intensifies just a bit. Add salt, pepper, or red pepper flakes to taste. Set aside the cooked kale.

Chop the onions, carrots, and zucchini into an equal dice. Mince the the garlic.  In a medium warm pan, cook the onions with salt, pepper, and a little sugar for about 20 minutes, until translucent and starting to brown. Add in the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add in the veggies. Cook 2 minutes over medium heat before adding the jar of tomato basil sauce and the small can of tomatoes. Add the meat back to the sauce. Taste for seasoning. Add in your red wine. Cover and simmer at least 30 minutes, until the vegetables are soft. Add the chopped kale.

Cook the pasta according to directions on the package. Check the pasta a few minutes before the package says it will be done. The cooked noodles should be a little chewy, as you’ll be cooking them a little bit with the rest of the sauce. Reserve one cup of pasta water. Once the noodles are strained, add them to the pasta sauce.

Combine sauce, pasta, and a little bit of pasta water if needed. Allow to cook together for a few minutes. Sprinkle the fresh parsley and serve.

Adjust the recipe depending on what you have in the house. We made this in our vacation rental, with minimal spices and seasonings. It does really go to show you how fresh ingredients and a  little salt and pepper (and red pepper flakes!) make for delicious dinner.

This morning, I woke up in tropical paradise. I write this post from the big island on Hawaii, after having just spend a good hour walking along the beach, taking in sights of waves, coral, and lava rock. But I’m thinking of you, and how awesome this dish would be for a vegetarian week night dinner.

I packed the left overs away and ate them cold out of fridge for a tasty lunch the next day. Talk about delicious. And for those of us experiencing cold weather, it’s also tasty warm….with bright flavors to remind you of summer!


Sesame Noodles

  • 1 package of Soba Noodles (6 ounces)
  • 2 tablespoons of toasted sesame oil
  • 4 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice (about 1 lime, juiced)
  • Siracha or chile sauce to taste
  • 2 packages of mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup of frozen edamame, shelled
  • Sesame seeds for garnish and crunch
  • Cilantro, roughly chopped

In a large saute pan over medium head, add olive oil. Add sliced mushrooms and saute until golden and the mushrooms have shrunk in size, about 15 to 20 minutes. Stir the mushrooms every so often as they cook. Add the edamame and cook for additional 5 minutes, or until the edamame are soft yet chewy.

While the mushrooms are cooking, combine the sesame oil, soy sauce, lime juice, and siracha in a separate bowl. Stir to combine.

Cook the soba noodles per the instructions on the package. Strain the soba noodles and add them to the mushroom and edamame mixture. Add the sesame and soy sauce, stir to combine. Serve with a sprinkle of sesame seeds and freshly chopped cilantro.

And because I can’t resist, look at this view from my patio.


We’re a few days out from Thanksgiving, one of the tastiest days of the year. Hopefully we’re not all panicked and making second to last, and final, and definitely last trips to the grocery store.

For those of us with a few spare moments, here’s a sweet recipe to give the host and hostess of your Thanksgiving festivities. It also makes a lovely holiday gift, with it’s rich, jewel red color.

What is it, you may ask? Cranberry Apple Jam.

A mix between apple butter and cranberry sauce, with sweet and tart notes, all wrapped up in a jar and festivity colored to boot.

What is it good on? Warm, crunchy sourdough toast with salted butter. Ham sandwiches (pictured below). You know, left over Thanksgiving Turkey sandwiches. Or maybe: mixed with a little bit of water and used to glaze pork chops.

I usually don’t command you to make anything, but how nice would it be to show up with some Cranberry Apple Jam in hand?

apple cranberry jam, ham sandwich | kitchen notes IMG_2992

Veggie Salad with Zatar | Kitchen Notes and Other SundriesBetween you and me, I’m not a big fan of what I call “salad salad.” Lettuce, veggies, dressing. Something is always missing. So forgive me if I call this grain and veggie dish a salad. It works for me.

We finally had a cooler weekend here in Phoenix. And some parts of the state had their first snow. Yes, it snows in Arizona.

The below is a break from heavier fall and winter fare. Which is rather funny, as I’ve been longing to make some true fall dishes and now have the perfect temperature to work in.

Its a simple combination of chickpeas, veggies, nuts, herbs, and tabouleh. Spiced with salt, pepper, zatar, olive oil, and topped with some yogurt for creaminess.

Veggies Salad with Zatar

  • 1 cup of cooked tabouleh
  • 1 can of no salt added chickpeas, rinsed
  • 1 pint of grape tomatoes, halved
  • 2 small, seedless cucumbers
  • 2 stalks of celery
  • 1/3 cup of toasted pepitas
  • 1/2 cup of freshly chopped parsley
  • 1 lemon, zested and then juiced
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Generous grind of pepper
  • 1 tablespoon zatar
  • Good quality olive oil

Place the cooked tabouleh in a large bowl. Add one can of rinsed chickpeas — I generally rinse these a few times. Chop the tomatoes, cucumbers, and celery to similar sized portions. Add these to the bowl. Add the pepitas and parsley. Pour 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over the salad. Add the salt and pepper. Sprinkle the zatar seasoning over the top.

If desired, add a dollop of yogurt and mix in before eating. Enjoy for lunch. Add shredded roasted chicken for a more substantial meal.

Veggies Salad with Zatar | Kitchen Notes and Other Sundries

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