“Pizzafied” Chicken with a Spicy Basil Tomato Sauce

I got the idea for this recipe while working out at the gym.  One of the nearby TV’s had a cooking show on and when I glanced up from my book I saw the chef putting what looked like tomato sauce on a chicken breast.  I continued to watch while she added some vegetables, pepperoni and string cheese and it looked almost like a pizza.  I later looked it up on the Internet and they had called it “Pizzafied” Chicken.  You could put almost any kind of topping on this and next time I will probably experiment with some other options.  I made this a tomato basil sauce because we had leftover basil to use up.

 3 – Chicken boneless breast pounded to about 1/2” thickness

Season the chicken with pepper, garlic salt and onion powder (or minced onion), then set aside

 Pizza sauce

6 – Garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup – Small yellow onion, chopped

Sauté the garlic and onion on low heat with about a ½ tbsp of olive oil until the onion is translucent.

In a blender puree the following ingredients while you are sautéing the garlic and onion;

2 – large Roma tomatoes, cored and roughly chopped

3 oz – fresh basil, roughly chopped

dash cayenne pepper

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

1/4 tsp garlic salt

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp ground pepper

1/4 tsp ground oregano

2 tbsp olive oil

After the garlic and onion are ready, add them to the rest of the ingredients in the blender and puree until smooth.

Put the sauce back into the sauté pan on very low heat to warm it up while you cook the chicken.

 Fry the chicken breast on medium heat in a very small amount of olive oil.  They should only take about 4 minutes per side.  Once they are done, turn down the heat and spoon pizza sauce over each breast covering completely. 

Top each of the chicken breast with shredded Mozzarella cheese and cover the pan until the cheese melts, it will only take a couple of minutes.

Sprinkle the top of each breast with some fresh chopped basil and serve



It has only been a few years since I had hummus for the first time and like most snack foods I always eat too much, even when it seems like they all have too much of a preservative aftertaste.  When I needed to bring an appetizer to dinner, I decided I should be able to make some Hummus that was fresh and more flavorful than what you can buy at the grocery store.  I made three different recipes, one with Black instead of Garbanzo beans that the kids call “Hummless”. 

Depending on your taste preferences you might want to reduce the the amount of garlic in your recipe. Our family likes lots of garlic, but for some it might be too far “over the top.”

Don’t forget to bring the chips; I usually do because they are not in the recipe!

Sun Dried Tomato & Garlic Hummus 

(This is a large batch, and was more than enough for a large family gathering)

2 – 15 oz cans garbanzo beans

4 tbls Tahini paste

12 garlic cloves

1 tsp salt

½ cup chopped fresh basil, plus a little more for garnish

6 oz Sun dried tomatoes, plus a little more chopped to garnish

1/8 cup oil from sun dried tomatoes

Juice of 1 lemon

½ cup of light olive oil

Blend all of the above until very smooth in a food processor, adding oil if necessary to get the correct consistency.

Put into a serving dish and top with basil and tomatoes for garnish


Black bean & Jalapeño Hummus

1 – 15oz can black beans

2 tbls Tahini paste

6 garlic cloves

1 tsp salt

¼ cup plain low fat yogurt

2 jalapeño’s without seeds

Juice of ½ lemon

½ cup of light olive oil

Blend all of the above until very smooth in a food processor, adding oil if necessary to get the correct consistency. 


Hummus with Kalamata olives

1 – 15 oz can garbanzo beans

2 tbls Tahini

4 garlic cloves

½ tsp salt

12 kalamata olives

Juice of ½ lemon

¼ cup of light olive oil

Blend all of the above until very smooth in a food processor, adding oil if necessary to get the correct consistency.

Pork Medallions in a Spicy BBQ Sauce

This recipe has been modified from one served at the now closed, fantastic Cajun restaurant, “Burke’s Café.”  Their “Pork Medallions in a Spicy Molasses Sauce” was my all time favorite meal.  I was really sorry when the owners decided to retire and close.  I have taken some short cuts with the recipe, but we all think it is still fantastic – my middle son calls it “dank!”  The last time I made this, we only had about a half an hour to marinate the pork, though it would be better to marinate it for at least one to two hours before cooking.

BBQ Sauce

1/3 cup molasses

12 oz tomato sauce

¼ tsp all spice

¼ tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp chili powder

½ tsp dry mustard

1 tsp cumin

¼ tsp ground coriander

½ tsp white pepper

6-8 garlic cloves minced

¼ cup white onion minced

2 Tbs red wine vinegar

2 Tbs lemon juice

3 Tbs Dijon mustard

Put all of the ingredients into a sauce pan on low heat to simmer; stir occasionally while the rest of the meal is being prepared.  This taste best when it simmers for a couple of hours. (Makes enough sauce for 2 – 3 lbs of pork)

Taste this before it is served and add any ingredients that suite your taste.  We frequently add more mustard or molasses as sometimes it needs a little extra sweetness or spice to make it just right.

Pork & Marinade

2 – 3 lbs of pork tenderloin cut into ¾” medallions then put them into a re-sealable plastic bag

1/3 cup soy sauce

¼ cup rice wine vinegar

¼ olive oil

¼ cup white onion minced

6 – 8 garlic cloves minced

Combine all of the ingredients for the marinade in a small bowl and then pour into the plastic bag with the pork medallions and refrigerate for 1 – 2 hours.

Cover two cookie sheets with foil turning up the edges to make a pan out of the foil.  Reserving the leftover marinade, layout pork medallions onto the foil, spacing them so that the pieces are not touching.  Slide sheets of foil off of the cookie sheets onto a hot barbeque grill. Make sure the sides stay turned up so the liquid is contained.  Pour reserved marinade over the pork and cook for about 10 minutes then flip each piece and continue to cook until they are done – depending are your grill probably another 5 or 10 minutes (internal meat temperature of 145 degrees).

Remove pieces of pork with tongs and place into a large mixing bowl. Pour in BBQ sauce and stir until all the medallions are evenly coated.

Serve over rice or maybe with one of my sweet potato recipes!

Scrambled Eggs with Chorizo Sausage

I have always loved to make breakfast, especially eggs: egg burritos, omelets or scrambled, they all appeal to me.  When I have time I like to use whatever ingredients I can find around the house and throw something together.  This simple recipe idea came about after seeing Chorizo in the grocery store near our lake cabin in Idaho.  I read about adding sour cream to scramble eggs from the blog, www.macheesmo.com and found it to be a fantastic addition.  I plan on using it in all of my egg dishes in the future.  I will probably try different amounts and see how more or less of it affects my recipes.

Start with ½ lb of Chorizo or any type sausage you prefer (there are some really good and a little healthier, spicy chicken sausage available at many stores.)  Cook the sausage in a large non-stick frying pan on medium heat.  As the meat cooks, use a spatula to break up the sausage into small pieces, maybe about ¼”or so.  Line a plate or bowl with a few paper towels.  Using a slotted spoon transfer the sausage pieces to the plate and let the paper towels absorb some of the grease.  Remove the rest of the grease from the frying pan.

While the sausage is cooking, prepare your egg mixture.

Whisk 8 eggs in a mixing bowl until you are sure all of the yolks are broken and some air is mixed in to make them a little bit fluffy.  Mix 3 Tbs of sour cream into the eggs.  Don’t worry if it doesn’t combine all of the way, it will when the eggs are cooking.  Pour the egg and sour cream mixture into the frying pan on medium heat.  After the eggs start to solidify on the bottom of the pan, start to move the egg mixture around with a spatula to begin to scramble them.  When the eggs start to firm up and are lightly scrambled add the following ingredients:

1/2 cup prepared hot salsa or Pico de Gallo

½ cup of shredded medium cheddar cheese, or any other cheese you prefer

Salt and pepper

Optional, 2 Tbs Cholula hot sauce

Stir well and then return the sausage to the pan.

Once the eggs are cooked through they are ready to serve.  Salsa and hot sauce are good condiments to add before eating if you really like it spicy.

Sweet Potatoes with Onion & Jalapeno

A great way to prepare sweet potatoes.  The whole cloves of garlic roast up very nicely and are a great treat as you are eating the potatoes and onions.

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees

Cut up 4-5 large sweet potatoes into about 1/2 inch cubes or chunks – I just scrub them clean then cut them up, peel and all.  Put them into a large bowl so the following ingredients can be added then stirred to coat the potatoes evenly.

1 large red jalapeño with seeds coarsely chopped

1 medium Walla Walla or other sweet onion coarsely chopped

1/3 cup light olive oil

1/2 Tbs cinnamon

3 tsp cayenne pepper

2 tsp paprika

10 cloves garlic roughly chopped

10-15 cloves garlic whole

Salt and pepper

After combining all of the above, spread the potatoes over a foil covered cookie sheet.  The cooking time will vary depending on the size of the potato pieces but it should be about 45 minutes.  The potatoes are done when they’re fork tender and a bit brown.  A quick broil right before they are done will give you an even crispier potato.

I served these with my Pork Medallions in a Spicy BBQ sauce and we were really feeling the heat!

Spicy Black Bean Soup with Pork

This hearty soup is especially satisfying on a cold winter night.  The recipe is a variation of Spicy Black Bean Soup with Shrimp that I originally made from my favorite cookbook, Simply Classic.  I recommend that everyone own this cookbook as every recipe in it has proven to be exceptionally delicious!  You can buy it at: http://www.jrleagueseattle.org/?nd=store_detail&product_id=4&item_id=&use_filter=p_store


4 Tbs butter

1 Tbs olive oil

6 cloves garlic finely chopped

1 large onion chopped medium

6 – 15 oz cans black beans drained and rinsed

Walnut size piece of ginger peeled and minced

2 large jalapenos with seeds and veins minced

2 –28oz canned plum tomatoes drained and coarsely chopped

2 tsp thyme

2 quarts chicken stock

 Heat butter and oil in a large pot on medium heat.

When the butter is melted, sauté the garlic and onion until the onion is soft.

Add black beans, ginger, jalapenos, tomatoes, thyme and chicken stock.

Stir, bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer for 2-1/2 hours. 

Continue to stir occasionally and make sure that it is not burning on the bottom of the pan.


2 Tbs oil

4 cloves garlic coarsely chopped

2 lbs of pork tenderloin cut into medallions



 Sauté garlic in the oil for two minutes on medium heat.

Add pork medallions to the oil and season with salt and pepper. (Depending on the size of your pan, this may need to be done in batches so you don’t crowd the meat).

Once one side of each batch is browned, turn the medallions, season and continue to sauté until browned.  Using tongs, transfer pork pieces to the simmering soup.

 After the soup has been simmering for 2-1/2 hours, remove about 1/2 of the beans with a slotted spoon and place in bowl. (Try to get as little of the meat as possible, just beans and tomatoes).  Using a food processor, blend the beans from the bowl in batches to make a thick paste.  Return each batch to pot and stir in. Bring the soup to simmer once again and its ready serve!


Salt and Pepper to taste

Sour cream

Chopped cilantro

 The sour cream and cilantro add even more flavor to this very hearty soup. 

Serve with crusty bread and try not to eat too much!

Spicy Garden Salad with Grilled Steak

I could not decide what to make for dinner last night so I began perusing the local grocery store ads to see what was on sale.  There were good prices on bell peppers, vine ripe tomatoes and Hass avocados.  I decided with some nice produce and a beautiful warm sunny day, a salad would be perfect.  Since I always have to think about meeting the caloric needs of our sons, I decided to make it a steak salad.  I love different textures and flavors so I added some other fun ingredients as well.   I use beans in many of my recipes because of their nutritional value.    See the article, link below, for Garbanzo beans in particular: 


 Steak Marinade

1.5 – 2 lb flank steak

3 Tbs olive oil

1 Tbs sesame oil

2 Tbs soy sauce

2 tsp chili oil

1 Tbs rice vinegar

1 Tbs lime juice

1 tsp red pepper flakes

6 cloves of chopped garlic

Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all of the above ingredients in a mixing bowl

Lay out steak on a cutting board and make cross hatch cuts across both sides then place flat in a pan. Pour marinade over steak, cover and refrigerate.  Marinade about 6 hours, turning the steak occasionally


¼ – ½ each of a red, orange and yellow bell pepper, diced medinm

1 large tomato diced medium

10 radishes diced medium

1 large or 2 small avocados diced medium

½ small Vidalia onion, diced medium (Walla Walla’s would be good but were not available)

1 – 15 oz can garbanzo beans drained and rinsed

1 head green leaf lettuce torn into bite size pieces

Combine all of the above in a salad bowl. 

(When I was cutting up the salad and only had the onions, tomatoes and radishes in the bowl, I was tempted to put some balsamic vinegar and oil on it and call it good.  I think that would be a great recipe all by itself!)


5 Tbs s oil (we always use very light olive oil)

1 Tbs sesame oil

2 Tbs rice vinegar

1 – 2 Tbs wasabi powder

1 Tbs honey

Dash cayenne pepper

Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all of the above ingredients and then adjust any of them to your taste.

Grill the steak to your liking (instant read thermometer is the easiest way to get it right).  When it’s done to your preference, remove from heat and let it rest for 5 or 10 minutes. I’ve found that grilling the steak to medium rare at its thickest point helps to provide a variety of doneness for my picky critics.  Slice into thin bite-size strips.

Put dressing on salad and mix well.  Serve on individual plates or in bowls and place steak pieces on top.

Now take this light summer meal out onto your patio or deck and enjoy!

Pasta Sauce with Chicken

I have been making this sauce or versions of it for many years.  It incorporates many of my favorite ingredients, which you might want to vary depending your own taste.  In this rendition of it, I sauté chicken separately from the sauce then add it to the sauce right before serving.  My family’s favorite pasta for this recipe is Cavatappi because it tends to hold onto sauce, but you can use whatever shape you like best.


Olive oil to lightly coat the bottom of your pan, about 3 Tbs

6 cloves of chopped garlic

½ small red onion chopped fine

4 chopped anchovies

6 chopped Kalamata olives

1 Jalapeno pepper, seeds and all chopped fine

6 – 8 Roma tomatoes chopped into 1/2″ pieces

1 – 16 oz can tomato sauce (optional, this makes it much saucier and more of a tomato taste either way is very good)

2 Tbs Balsamic vinegar

2 tsp dried oregano

2 tsp dried basil leaves

Salt and pepper to taste

Sauté the first six ingredients until the garlic is slightly browned.  Add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for about 15 – 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Turn to warm and continue to stir occasionally until the pasta and chicken are ready.



Olive oil to lightly coat the bottom of your pan, about 3 Tbs

4 cloves of garlic chopped very fine

3 boneless chicken breast cut into bite size pieces

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp cayenne pepper if you like it spicy

Salt and pepper to taste

Saute the garlic until slightly browned.  Add the chicken and spices and saute until the chicken is no longer pink inside.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer the chicken to your pasta sauce without the saute liquid and stir thoroughly.

Spoon sauce over your pasta of choice and enjoy!

Shrimp with Salsa & Cornbread

This was last night’s attempt at a new recipe. Due to conflicting feedback from the family, I will probably try this again with modifications.  The flavors were all very good but it may have had too many different flavors for one dish.

The complete meal was a cornbread pancake topped with a honey ginger glaze, smothered with sauteed shrimp and a salsa made with mango, pineapple, habanero and tomatoes.  Individually, all of the components were really good and some of us liked it all together, but some didn’t think the cornbread went very well with the other parts.

Shrimp and Marinade

2 lbs shrimp peeled and de-veined

1 walnut size pieces of ginger roughly chopped

1/4 cup light olive oil

1/2 cup soy sauce

2 tsp sesame oil

1 Tbs lime juice

4 cloves of garlic roughly chopped

Put the shrimp and the marinade in a zip lock bag in the refrigerator until you need to saute them.


2 mangoes cut into 1/4″ pieces

1 – 2 small habanero peppers chopped very fine.  These are very hot so if you don’t like spicy, limit how much you use.  I suggest wearing gloves when you handle them.

1 – 15 oz can of black beans drained and rinsed

3 roma tomatoes cut into 1/4″ pieces

1/3  bunch cilantro roughly chopped

1 – 15 oz can of pineapple cut into 1/4″ pieces

1/2 of a red onion finely chopped

2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp allspice

1/8 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp salt

1 lime, zest and juice

Combine all of the above ingredients then put them into a sauce pan on very low heat, stirring occasionally, while making the rest of the meal.  This is modified from a salsa recipe I made for salmon, which I found with my Epicurious phone app.


1/3 cup soy sauce

6 Tbs honey

2 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp sesame oil

In a shallow pan combine all of the above and reduce until you have a syrup to spoon over pancakes.

Cornbread pancakes (once you pour this batter onto the griddle, start to saute the shrimp so they will be done when the pancakes are done.)

Use any prepared corn muffin mix (like Jiffy) and follow the instructions to make 12 muffins.  When you have that prepared, add the following ingredients.

1/3 cup of sharp cheddar cheese

1 Tbs crystallized ginger crushed and chopped into pieces

1/2 small habanero pepper chopped very fine

More liquid than the mix instructions call for may be needed to get the right consistency once these additional ingredients are added,.  Heat up a griddle or frying pan and pour the batter to make pancakes.  We made them into about 6″ diameter pancakes and cooked them until they were firm enough to flip.  Cook both sides then put one on each plate.

Spread some glaze on each pancake, spoon salsa over the whole pancake to cover (and more!), add shrimp over the top of all of it and dig in!.


Grilled Sweet Potatoes

I recently started hearing about sweet potato fries but had never eaten them until I cooked them myself.  Up until then, my only experience eating sweet potatoes was the mushy stuff with brown sugar served in a casserole dish at holiday times.  I was never very fond of this dish so I was greatly surprised to find out how much I loved sweet potatoes. They are also a very healthy food to eat.  See this link that discusses the nutritional value of sweet potatoes:  http://www.foodreference.com/html/sweet-pot-nutrition.html

Cut up 4-5 large sweet potatoes into about 1/2 inch cubes or chunks – I just scrub them clean then cut them up, peel and all.  Put them into a large bowl so the following ingredients can be added then stirred to coat the potatoes evenly.

1/3 cup light olive oil

1/2 Tbs cinnamon

3 tsp cayenne pepper

2 tsp paprika

10 cloves garlic, roughly chopped

3 tsp salt

After mixing all of the above, place the potatoes in a grill pan on the BBQ for 30 – 45 minutes at about 400 degrees, stirring occasionally so they cook evenly.  The time will vary depending on your grill, as well as the size of the potato pieces.  The potatoes are done when they’re fork tender and a bit brown and crispy on the outside; cooked too long they become mashed potatoes (which is another way I like to prepare them!).

See this link for the grilling pan we use:  http://www.surlatable.com/product/PRO-666180/Perforated-Stainless-Steel-Grill-Wok

This recipe is an offshoot of my sweet potato fries recipe, where I cut the potatoes into julienne pieces for fries and cook them on a cookie sheet in a 400 degree oven instead of on the BBQ.  When I make them this way, I sometimes finish them off under the broiler to make them crispy.