The Tasteful Kitchen

Here at The Tasteful Garden we love to cook, it is our primary reason for gardening! We love the fragrances of harvesting vegetables and herbs for a meal, preparing foods using the freshest ingredients, and sharing our bounty from the garden with our friends and family. Other cultures have done this for centuries and our American heritage has always done the same in the past. Unfortunately, the modern family shops at the supermarket and has very little sense of where their food comes from.

So much of our produce comes from very far away in other countries which allows us to have a huge selection, but also requires longer storage times and different harvesting techniques which in turn decrease the quality and nutritional value of our food. Vegetable varieties are chosen for their long shelf life instead of the flavor and nutrition they provide.

Family Gardening

We want to bring back the family vegetable garden, encourage children and parents to garden together and learn about heritage gardening so that it can be passed along to future generations. The Heirloom varieties of vegetables are still available for us to grow which have better flavors and more nutrition than the vegetables in supermarkets. Spending family time in the garden, in the kitchen, and at the table is good for all of us and should be encouraged in our children.

Herbs in the Kitchen

Starting your own herb garden can be an excellent way to always have fresh herbs on hand for cooking. It’s great for beginners since it’s very easy to maintain. More experienced gardeners can increase the number of herbs they grow, or expand their plot of land or number of pots for herbs. Don’t be surprised if you end up with an overload of herbs that you can’t use fast enough, it’s a delicious problem to have! We have lots of ideas you can use for your herb harvests, in your own kitchen or gifts from your garden.

More Tasteful Kitchen

Helpful Videos

#Basil Pesto

Lemon Basil Potato Salad

Caprese Salad

The Tasteful Garden Recipes

Tuna Salad with Tarragon and Dill

2 cans or packages premium white tuna, drained

1/2 cup mayonnaise

2 tbsp. sour cream

2-3 sprigs of dill leaves, snipped

1 tsp. fresh tarragon leaves, chopped fine

1 tsp. fresh lemon juice

salt & pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients, except tuna, with a whisk until well blended. Add tuna keeping large chunky pieces together. Chill 15 min or more and serve on lettuce, crackers, in tomatoes or on pita bread.

Creamy Tarragon Dressing

1 tbsp White-wine vinegar

1 tbsp Lemon juice

2 tbsp Chopped fresh French tarragon

3/4 cup good quality olive or other oil

Salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a blender or mini food processor process vinegar, and French tarragon. Slowly pour in the oil. Stop the machine and taste. Adjust the seasonings. This is a great dressing on a Lobster salad, marinade for vegetables, or tossed with greens.

Spring Rolls with Pork and Cilantro

1 pkg. 6″ square spring roll wrappers (these are usually available in your grocery’s produce section)

1 cup cooked pork, chopped finely or ground pork browned and chopped.

2 scallions, chopped finely

several sprigs of Cilantro, chopped finely

1 garlic clove, minced or pressed

1/2 tsp. grated fresh ginger

1 tsp fish sauce

1 carrot cut in fine julienne strips or shredded

1 cup shredded cabbage or bok choy

1 tsp. flour mixed with water to make a paste


2 oz. bamboo shoots

2 oz. bean sprouts

1/2 tsp. chili paste or sesame oil

Combine the pork, scallions, cilantro, garlic, ginger, carrots, fish sauce, cabbage, and any optional ingredients. In the center of each spring roll wrapper place about 2-3 tbsp. of the filling. Turn the bottom edge over to cover the filling then fold in the left and right sides. Roll the wrapper up tightly almost to the top edge. Brush the top edge with the flour paste and seal. Repeat with the wrappers until the filling mixture runs out. Heat vegetable oil in a wok or deep fat fryer to about 350 degrees. Slide the spring rolls in a few at a time and fry till crisp and golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Serve with dipping sauce made with soy sauce, “Mirin” Japanese sweet wine, & rice wine vinegar.

Tortellini and Tomato Soup

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1-2 cloves minced garlic

4 cups (32 ounces) chicken broth

9 ounces fresh cheese tortellini

1 – 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes

2-3 tbsp. fresh chopped herbs such as marjoram, oregano, basil, parsley, lemon verbena or thyme.

1 – 5-ounce package fresh baby spinach, cut into chiffonade or coarsely chopped

Salt and pepper, to taste

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Heat the olive oil in a stock pot over medium heat. Add the onions and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic and chopped herbs and cook for another minute.

Add the chicken broth. Bring to a boil and stir in the tortellini. Simmer uncovered until the tortellini is cooked, 7 to 9 minutes. Stir in the crushed tomatoes and simmer another 5 minutes. Add the spinach and cook until just wilted. Season to taste with salt and black pepper.

Ladle into bowls and top with generous sprinklings of grated Parmesan and crusty French bread or Ciabatta.

Thai Cucumber Salad

2 Carrots, peeled & julienne

1 English or Greenhouse cucumber, peeled & julienne

1/2 Daikon radish, peeled & julienne

Sesame seeds, toasted


3-4 sprigs Cilantro, chopped fine

3-4 spearmint leaves, chopped fine

juice of 1/2 lime and 1 tsp. lime zest grated.

1/2 cup seasoned rice wine vinegar

pinch of sugar

Whisk dressing ingredients and pour over vegetables tossing together. Chill 15-30 min. Sprinkle lightly with toasted sesame seeds

Goat Cheese & Baby Greens salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette

2 logs of Goat Cheese, Chevre or Montrachet

1/2 cup bread crumbs

olive oil

Fresh herbs chopped fine: Basil, Oregano, Marjoram, Garlic Chives, Italian Parsley

Baby Greens & Lettuces

Slice cheese into 1/2″ rounds and coat with herbs and olive oil. Press cheese rounds into bread crumbs to stick well coating completely. Chill for approximately 1/2 hour in the refrigerator. Heat small amount of oil in a non stick skillet over medium heat. Add cheese rounds and brown lightly on both sides approximately 1-2 min. per side. Drain on paper towels for 1 minute and serve immediately with dressed greens.

Dressing for Baby Greens:

1/4 cup Balsamic Vinegar

1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive oil

2 tbsp. Parmesan cheese grated

Whisk together dressing ingredients and pour over greens tossing well. Serves 5-6

Greek Chicken with Oregano, Garlic, and Lemon

1 broiling chicken – 2 1/2 lbs.

1 tbs. crushed peppercorns

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup bread crumbs

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

3 tbs. olive oil

several sprigs of oregano, chopped and several sprigs of parsley, chopped

1/2 tsp Salt

Cut up chicken into small pieces. Put chicken in baking dish. Pour lemon juice over the chicken, add peppercorns, olive oil, oregano and parsley. Cover and let marinate for 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake chicken till light brown and almost done, then sprinkle with bread crumbs and put back in the oven till crumbs are brown also, about 45 min.-1 hour total cooking time.

Basil Buttermilk Dressing

2 cups Fresh Basil, packed

3/4 cup Buttermilk

2 Green Onions

3/4 cup Mayonnaise

1/2 tsp freshly ground Pepper

In a blender combine fresh basil, green onions and buttermilk. Blend until smooth. Add mayonnaise and pepper and whisk together. Chill before serving and store in refrigerator.

Caprese Salad (Tomato & Basil salad)

2-3 fresh ripe tomatoes, sliced approx. 1/4″ thick

6-7 fresh basil leaves (marjoram or oregano can be substituted)

1 lb. Fresh mozzarella cheese in water, sliced to same thickness as tomatoes.

Extra virgin olive oil

freshly cracked black pepper

Layer all ingredients on a serving platter. Sprinkle with fresh cracked pepper and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Chill 10 min. or more and serve. Drizzling balsamic vinegar can help the taste of “store bought” tomatoes

Serves 4-6

Warm Lemon & Basil Potato Salad with Spinach

2 ½ pounds small Yukon Gold potatoes or new potatoes cut into 1/8ths

¼ cup lemon juice

2 garlic cloves, minced OR 4 cloves roasted garlic

¾ cup loosely packed chopped fresh basil

1 tbsp Dijon mustard OR Creole mustard

1 tsp salt

½ tsp freshly ground pepper

2/3 cup olive oil plus some for drizzling


½ medium size purple onion, chopped

1 (10-ounce) package fresh spinach (or frozen, thawed and drained well)

10 thick slices bacon cooked and crumbled

Tomato wedges for garnish

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Arrange potatoes evenly on a lightly greased pan. Drizzle with olive oil. Include 1 whole head of garlic in with the potatoes if you plan to use roasted garlic. (Cut off the top edge and drizzle with olive oil first). Bake for 30-35 minutes, stirring occasionally or until tender and golden.

Whisk together lemon juice and next 5 ingredients; whisk in oil in a slow, steady stream. Gently toss potato and red onion with ½ cup of vinaigrette. Arrange spinach or green beans evenly in 6 bowls or in your serving bowl and drizzle with remaining vinaigrette. Top with potato mixture; sprinkle with bacon. Garnish with tomato wedges. Yield: 6 servings

Goat Cheese Ball with Sun-dried tomatoes, Basil, and Chives

1/4 cup fresh sweet basil, chopped

1/4 cup fresh chives, chopped

8 oz. of Chevre or Montrechet goat cheese, softened

(you may substitute cream cheese)

1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and chopped

Blend herbs into cheese with a fork and form into a ball (plastic wrap works well to form ball) and refrigerate for at least 1/2 hour. Remove plastic wrap and roll cheese ball into sun dried tomatoes pressing them into the cheese. Chill until serving. Serve with freshly made croutons.

Mammoth Basil Pesto

2 cups Mammoth basil leaves, packed

3 cloves fresh garlic, minced

1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

1/4 cup pine nuts, optional

1/2 cup olive oil

salt & pepper to taste

Wash and dry the basil leaves. Blend the first 4 ingredients in a food processor until they make a paste. Slowly drizzle olive oil with the processor running until sauce is smooth. Season with salt & pepper. Use immediately, or store in refrigerator for up to a week, or freeze and keep for months.

Ginger Marinated Tomato Salad

2/3 cup rice vinegar

1 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger.

Mix this with desired number of cubed or sliced tomatoes. Marinate for a few hours and serve as a salad, wrapped in lettuce leaves with chicken or as a new twist on bruschetta using fried wontons!

Pesto Cheese Roulade with Sun dried tomatoes

8 oz cream cheese and 4 oz. of goat cheese (or 12 oz. of cream cheese)

2-3 tablespoons fresh Pesto sauce (or use jar pesto to save time)

1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes packed in oil, chopped in a food processor

1/2 cup pine nuts

Put cream cheese in between two sheets of plastic wrap and roll into a rectangle shape about 1/4″ thick or so. It is important to make this as even as possible to help keep the roll consistent. Remove the top sheet of plastic and spread the pesto sauce over the entire rectangle. Sprinkle the sun dried tomatoes on top in a smooth layer. Carefully, beginning on one long side, roll the cream cheese over onto itself as tightly as you can using the plastic wrap to lift it up and press it over.

Once the roll is complete, wrap it entirely in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Meanwhile, toast the pine nuts in a skillet or in a low oven until lightly golden brown. Chop into coarse pieces and spread onto a sheet of plastic wrap to about 3″ wide and as long as your cheese roll without any gaps. Unwrap your cheese roll and place on top of the pine nuts with the seam side up. Press the cheese into the nuts until it is covered entirely. Chill another 30 minutes and serve with bread or croutons

Summer Garden Pasta Sauce

3 large or 4 small very ripe tomatoes peeled, cored, and chopped

4 basil leaves, torn or cut chiffonade (chopped in strips) plus 2-3 leaves for garnish

freshly ground black pepper to taste

4 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

freshly grated parmesan cheese

1 lb. angel hair pasta

prepare tomatoes and add fresh basil, olive oil, and black pepper to taste. Mix & set aside. Cook pasta according to directions. Add 2 tbsp olive oil and 2-3 tbsp fresh grated parmesan cheese. Mix. Add uncooked tomato mixture. Serve with 2-3 whole leaves of basil on top as a garnish.

Not as heavy as usual pasta fare – perfect for hot day! Add as many summer vegetables as you like such as zucchini, peppers, & eggplant.

Fresh Sicilian Tomato Sauce

1/4 cup Olive oil

2 medium Onions (chopped)

9 cups Tomatoes (very ripe – cored & chopped)

2- 28 oz cans Diced tomatoes (undrained)

1 Sweet Bell pepper, diced

6 cloves Garlic (crushed)

1/4 cup Fresh parsley (chopped)

1/2 cup Dry white wine

1 cup Chicken broth

1 Tsp. Basil (dried)

1 Tsp. Rosemary

1 Tsp. Sugar

Salt & black pepper to taste

Heat oil in an 8 to 10 quart heavy-bottom pot. Sauté onion and garlic until tender. Add all remaining ingredients except salt & pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook gently, uncovered, for four hours. Stir often. Taste, and add salt & pepper as desired. Yield: about 4 quarts

I make big batches of this at the end of season and store in freezer bags for use all winter long. Great for lasagna, spaghetti, chili, etc.

Italian Sausage and Peppers

1 1/2 lbs. good Italian Sweet Sausages

2 tbsp. Olive oil

3 large sweet bell or roasting peppers, sliced (mixed colors are nice)

1 medium Onion, sliced

2 cloves fresh garlic, minced

1/4 cup Fresh parsley (chopped)

Salt & cracked black pepper to taste

1 lb. penne or spaghetti, cooked

2 large tomatoes, diced (optional)

Boil spaghetti or penne to taste. In a large heavy skillet brown sausages well on all sides. Add 1/2 cup-1 cup of water, cover and simmer on low heat for 10 min. After sausage has simmered, drain any extra water away and add onions and peppers to the skillet and cook until onion is beginning to become translucent. Add garlic, parsley, salt and pepper and tomatoes (if using) and cook for about 3 minutes more. Serve over pasta and pass parmesan cheese.

Tomato-Artichoke-Rice Salad

1 jar (6 oz.) marinated artichoke hearts

2 Tbsp. lemon juice

1 tsp. finely chopped garlic

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

3 cups cooked, cold rice

1 1/2 lbs. (3 large) fresh tomatoes, seeded, diced and drained

1 cup finely chopped red onion

1 can (5 3/4 oz.) pitted whole black olives, drained and cut in quarters

1/4 cup chopped parsley

Drain artichoke hearts, reserving marinade. Roughly slice artichoke hearts lengthwise; reserve. Combine lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper. Beat in reserved marinade. Gently combine dressing with rice, artichoke hearts and remaining ingredients. 6 servings

Rustic Tomato-Bread Salad

4 cups fresh garden tomatoes diced into 1/2-inch pieces

(1 1/2 lbs.about 5 medium tomatoes)

3/4 cup slivered red onion

1/2 cup water

1/3 cup each olive oil and white wine vinegar

1 tsp. each ground black pepper, salt and sugar

1/2 cup shredded fresh basil

6 cups day-old dense,crusty bread cut or torn into 1-inch cubes (about 1 lb.)

Combine all ingredients except bread in a large bowl; let stand for flavors to develop, about 10 minutes. Add bread; toss well to coat. If bread seems dry, sprinkle with an additional tablespoon or two of water. Salad will hold several hours at room temperature before serving.

Tomato Cajun Chicken Salad

3 cups shredded or chopped, cooked chicken

1 1/2 Tbsp. lemon juice

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 tsp. thyme

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

1/2 cup non-fat plain yogurt

1 cup thinly sliced green onion

1/2 cup diced green bell pepper

1/2 cup diced celery

3 cups (about 1 1/2 lbs.) seeded and diced fresh tomatoes

Combine lemon juice and next five ingredients. Beat in yogurt. Gently fold chicken and next 3 ingredients into dressing. Chill 30 minutes. Just before serving, fold in tomatoes. Serves 6

Insalata Pizza

1 homemade pizza crust or store bought crust


5-6 med. California roma tomatoes, sliced

3 Tbsp. olive oil

1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. black pepper

1 head garlic, roasted and chopped

1/2 cup goat cheese

1 Tbsp. chopped fresh mint

1/2 cup chopped arugula

Marinate tomatoes in 1 Tablespoon olive oil, vinegar, salt and pepper for 1-2 hours. Roll out pizza dough to make a 16-inch circle. Brush with remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil. Arrange marinated tomato slices on pizza dough. Dot with garlic and goat cheese. Bake at 500 F in a pizza oven for 10 minutes, or until crust is golden brown. Remove from oven and sprinkle with mint and arugula. Cut into desired number of slices and serve at once.

Creamy Herbed Tomato Soup

Try roasting the tomatoes on a hot grill for more flavor…

4 large heirloom or yellow tomatoes, (peeled and seeded if desired) chopped

1 medium onion, minced

1-2 garlic cloves, pressed

1 cup half & half or heavy cream

1 tbsp. butter

1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock

3 tsp. chopped mixed fresh herbs such as basil, chives, parsley, marjoram, or oregano

In a medium pot or Dutch oven, add the butter and onions, sauté until translucent about 3-4 minutes. Add garlic and herbs and cook 2 minutes more. Using an herb mill will separate the skins and seeds from the tomato pulp and eliminates the need for blending. Add tomatoes and stock and simmer, about 10-15 minutes. Add cream or half and half and cook until hot. Serve garnished with homemade herb croutons, focaccia, cheese biscuits, or as a first course for an elegant meal.

Sorrel Soup

2 cups Young sorrel leaves

2 tbsp Butter

2 tsp Cornstarch

2-3 Sprigs parsley or chervil, minced

3 cups Chicken stock

2 Egg yolks

1 pinch salt

1 cup Light cream

Wash the sorrel leaves and cook them in the butter until just wilted. Puree’ the sorrel and add other ingredients, dissolving the cornstarch first in a little stock, or whirl all together in the blender. Then cook the soup over gentle heat until slightly thickened. Serve hot or chilled, garnished with sour cream and chives, or with thin slices of lemon.

Frico au Poulet

1 onion, chopped finely

2 stalks celery, chopped finely

1 carrot, chopped finely

1 tsp. Summer Savory dried or 2 tsp. fresh

2 tsp. butter

Sauté first 3 ingredients in butter until onion is translucent. Set aside.

1 whole chicken or a turkey carcass and leftover turkey

enough water to cover or approx. 2-3 quarts

Boil gently for approximately 1 hour, removing the scum from the top, until meat is very soft and begins to fall off the bones. Remove carcass/chicken from the broth. When cooled enough to handle, remove all meat from the bones and break up any large pieces of meat and add them back to the broth or if using leftover turkey, break it up and add it to the broth along with the sautéed vegetables.

2-3 potatoes, peeled and diced into bite sized pieces

Bring broth back up to the boil and add potatoes, cook potatoes about 5-10 minutes.


1 1/2 cups flour

1 tbs. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

2/3 cup milk

Combine first three ingredients in a bowl and make a well in the center. Slowly add milk to create a dough that is dry enough to handle, not sticky. Turn it out onto a floured surface and knead briefly and gently to combine and smooth the dough. Roll dough to 1/8″ thickness or less and cut into small 1″ squares.

Add dumplings, one at a time, to simmering stew adding more water to the broth if necessary. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes more. Serve immediately.

Thai Soup with Lemongrass & Chicken (or Tom Ka Gai)

2 cups chicken stock

Chili oil to taste (*caution – this is very hot!) or use fresh Thai chili peppers

2 chicken breast fillets, cut into small bite size pieces

(or use chicken tenderloins, cut up)

2 cans coconut milk, this can be found in most grocery stores in the Asian foods section

3 green onions, minced

1 tsp. freshly grated ginger root, do not use dry ginger powder

1/4 cup whole straw mushrooms

2 stalks lemongrass, roughly chopped

3 tbsp. fish sauce

several sprigs of cilantro, roughly chopped

juice of 1 lime

(note* kaffir lime leaves and galangal are normally used in this recipe however because most of us have difficulty finding these ingredients locally, they have been replaced with lime juice and ginger with only slight variation in taste.)

Add lemongrass & chicken to stock and simmer 15-20 minutes. You can remove lemongrass

with a slotted spoon if you like or leave it in large chunks to be avoided as it is really too woody to eat. Add fish sauce, coconut milk, chili oil, mushrooms, green onions, ginger, lime juice and cilantro. Simmer, not a high boil, about 10 minutes to heat all ingredients through and serve.

Serves 4-6

White Bean Soup with Sage and Bacon

5 slices of Bacon or prosciutto, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 med. onion, chopped finely

4 med. carrots, 1/4″ dice

6 fresh Sage leaves, minced, plus more for garnish

1/2 tsp. fresh Thyme sprigs

1 1/2 cups canned white beans, drained and rinsed

5 cups chicken stock

In a stock pot over medium high heat, cook the bacon or prosciutto until crisp, about 3 minutes. Remove the bacon and set aside. Add the garlic, onion,& carrots to the pot and cook over medium heat until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Add the minced Sage and Thyme sprigs and cook 1 minute more.

Add the beans and chicken stock and stir to combine. Simmer until beans are cooked and starting to fall apart, about 20-25 minutes. Remove thyme sprigs, garnish with extra Sage and bacon and serve.

Garlic Soup

3 tablespoons olive oil

9 cloves garlic, halved

1/2 loaf crusty French bread, cut into 1 inch cubes

1 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper

8 cups chicken stock

3 eggs, lightly beaten

2 tbsp. fresh Epazote, marjoram or oregano leaves, chopped

1 lime, cut into wedges

Preheat an oven to 325 degrees. In a soup pot over low heat, warm the olive oil and garlic halves cooking slowly and infusing the oil with the garlic flavor, about 5 min. Remove from the heat and remove the cloves from the oil.

Place the bread cubes in a bowl and pour about 1/2 the oil over them tossing well to coat. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and spread out on a baking sheet. Bake until golden brown and crisp being careful not to burn them, about 10-15 min. Remove from the oven and set aside.

Pour the stock into the soup pot with the remaining oil and bring to a simmer. Gradually add the eggs to the simmering stock while stirring constantly in a circular motion. Add the epazote, marjoram or oregano and simmer until the eggs are set about 3 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Place the bread croutons in bowls and immediately serve the soup over them with a lime wedge on the side.

Chili with Chicken and Green Chili Peppers

1 whole chicken or 3/4 lb. of skinless chicken breasts

2 quarts of water or chicken stock

(you can make your own chicken stock using a whole chicken and water adding an onion and a couple of celery stalks boiling the chicken for about 45 min. and then remove the chicken and strain. When the chicken cools remove the meat and cut into pieces for the chili. If you choose not to make your own, you can buy canned stock and simmer your chicken breasts for about 20 minutes then shred the meat for the chili. )

2 tbsp. olive or vegetable oil

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves of garlic, minced

3-4 Anaheim Chili peppers, green or red, sliced and cut into bite sized pieces (or substitute Poblanos for a milder soup)

2 lbs tomatoes, chopped (or 1 – 29 oz. can)

1 can tomato paste

2 tbsp Fresh Oregano, chopped (or 2 tsp. dried)

1 tsp. Cumin

Salt & Pepper to taste

Cayenne pepper to taste

if desired or add fresh jalapenos, diced,

Masa Harina (fine corn flour) mixed with water to thicken, if necessary

In a large Dutch oven or stock pot heat the oil and add the onion. Sauté until translucent then add garlic and cook for about 30 seconds more. Add the chili peppers and sauté 2-3 minutes. Add the cooked chicken, tomatoes, stock, tomato paste, oregano, cumin and fresh jalapenos. Simmer for at least 30 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste and cayenne for heat. Mix 1/4 cup Masa Harina with equal amount of water and mix well. Add to boiling chili and mix well for about 3 minutes. Add any Mexican cheeses such as panela or cotija and corn chips to serve.

Tuscan Sausage and Potato Soup

4-5 cups chicken stock

2 cups potatoes, diced 1/2″

1 cup chopped spinach or other greens like Kale (optional)

1 lb. Italian sausage (sweet or hot)

fresh Italian parsley, chopped

1/2 cup heavy cream (or half & half mixed with a tablespoon of flour or skim milk mixed with 2 tablespoons of flour)

1/4 tsp. salt

crushed red pepper flakes, to taste

Remove the sausage from its casings and sauté the sausage in a skillet or dutch oven until brown. Drain on paper towels and reserve. Add to a large stock pot the chicken broth, sausage, potatoes, and parsley. Simmer soup until potatoes are tender at least 30 minutes. Add spinach and cook until completely wilted. Add cream or half & half and simmer a few minutes until thickened. Add salt and pepper flakes to taste and serve.

Vegetable Minestrone Soup

2 tbsp. Olive oil

2 oz. pancetta or bacon, chopped

1 medium onion, chopped

1 large carrot, chopped

2 medium celery with leaves, chopped

1 fresh sprig Rosemary about 4″

1/4 cup fresh basil (you can also add marjoram, oregano, or thyme leaves) chopped

1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

1 large can chopped Tomatoes

6 cups chicken or vegetable stock

4 oz. orzo pasta, (or any small type pasta such as shells or macaroni)

1/4 tsp. salt

freshly ground pepper

fresh Italian parsley, chopped for garnish

Sauté the pancetta in a skillet until crisp. Add the onions, celery, carrots & garlic and sauté until the onions are almost clear. Add next 6 ingredients to a large stock pot and simmer soup 30 minutes. Remove the Rosemary sprig, add the pasta and cook 15-20 minutes more until pasta is tender. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese and crusty bread for soaking up the broth.

New England Clam Chowder

1 tbsp oil

4 oz. salt pork, diced

1 med. onion, chopped

1/2 tbsp. chopped Thyme

1/4 cup chopped Parsley

1 Bay leaf

2 cups potatoes, cut into 1/2″ dice

about 1 cup water

2 cans chopped clams, drained reserving liquid, or 5 lbs of fresh clams (see note below)

1 cup heavy cream, (you can use milk and thicken with a little flour and water mixture)

Ground black pepper to taste

2 tsp. butter

Add oil and pork to a stock pot over medium heat and cook until crisp. Add onion and thyme and cook until onion is clear, about 5 minutes. Add potatoes, bay leaf, reserved clam liquid and water to cover potatoes. Cook until potatoes are tender, about 10-15 minutes. Add cream, parsley, pepper to taste and bring to a slow simmer, being careful not to boil. Add clams and cook about 2 minutes more just to heat through. You may wish to thicken your chowder by adding 2 tbsp. of flour mixed with 1/4 cup of water add slowly and stir until thick. Serve with 1/2 tsp. butter and oyster crackers.


Canned clams make this recipe much easier to make. If you choose to use fresh clams, scrub the shells well and soak them in cold salted water to get rid of the sand, rinse well and steam them in a large pot with 1 cup of water and some onion scraps, celery, thyme and bay leaf for about 15 minutes until they are open. Discard any that do not open completely. When they are cooled remove them from their shells and coarsely chop reserving the broth for the soup.

Basic Chicken Soup

1 whole chicken, cleaned of excess fat and rinsed well

enough water to cover completely

1 medium onion, coarsely chopped

1 large carrot, coarsely chopped

2 medium celery with leaves, coarsely chopped

1 fresh sprig Rosemary about 4″

8 sprigs of fresh Thyme, oregano and marjoram

small bunch fresh parsley

Bring the ingredients above to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for at least one hour until chicken falls off its bones. Cool to room temperature and strain stock. Clean the chicken separating the meat from the bones and breaking it up into small bite sized pieces. Add the chicken back to the stock and add any additional ingredients you would like to the soup such as corn, dumplings, vegetables, or pasta. Cook until done.

Chicken Tortilla Soup (Our Family Favorite!)

1 whole chicken

2 quarts of water

cook the chicken until the meat is tender and falling off of the bones (about 45 min.)

remove the chicken from the stock and let it cool down. Once it is cool, shred the chicken meat and cut it up into pieces.

1 onion, chopped

2 tbsp. butter or oil

1 clove garlic, chopped

In a skillet, cook the onion in butter or oil until it starts to become clear then add the garlic and cook for about 1 minute more.

1 large container of Fresh Salsa (Medium, or Hot if you like)

1 can of tomato paste

Put the onion, Salsa, chicken, tomato paste, and broth into a large pot and cook on low heat for about 30-45 minutes. Make a paste of 2-3 tablespoons Masa Harina corn flour and 1/2 cup water mixing it up well. Add to the boiling soup and cook for about 5 minutes more. The soup will become much thicker.

Put into bowls and sprinkle with tortilla strips, good Mexican cheese, cilantro, green onions and add a spoon of sour cream if you like.

Layered Goat Cheese Spread

1 cup Sun dried tomatoes, chopped (drained well if packed in oil)

1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs such as basil, marjoram, chives and parsley

1/2 cup roasted red peppers packed in oil, drained and chopped

1/4 cup Pine nuts, chopped coarsely

4 oz. Goat cheese

4 oz. Cream cheese

Combine fresh herbs into slightly softened goat cheese and cream cheese. Line a mold approx. 6” round with plastic wrap. Add enough roasted red peppers to cover the bottom of the mold (you may add enough to cover the sides as well for a more formal look). Spread 1/2 of the cheese mixture evenly on top of the peppers. Sprinkle the pine nuts on top of the cheese. Add half of the sun dried tomatoes to cover the cheese. Spread another layer of cheese and then a second layer of sun dried tomatoes. Close the plastic wrap tightly over the mold and press gently to remove any air pockets. Chill for at least one hour, unmold, and serve with crackers or toasts.

Focaccia with Fresh Sage

3 1/4 cups unbleached all purpose flour

1 cup warm water (105°F. to 115°F.)

1 package dry yeast

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh sage (or any fresh herbs)

3 teaspoons sea salt or coarse kosher salt

Add yeast to warm water and let sit for about 5 minutes until bubbly. Add to a large bowl or mixer with a dough hook. Add flour slowly, 1/2 cup at a time until each addition is moistened, reserving the last 1/4 cup.

If you use your mixer, it should be on speed 2 and you should add the flour until the bowl is cleaning the sides of the bowl, then knead for about 5 minutes.

If you mix by hand, just add enough flour so the dough is no longer wet and sticky. Turn the dough onto a board and knead for about 5 minutes adding a small amount of flour if needed to keep the dough from sticking to your hands.

Lemongrass Thai Roasted Chicken

1 large roasting chicken 4-5 lbs., butterflied open

several stalks of lemongrass, cut into 4″ pieces and crushed with a mallet

2 Limes

ginger slices, crushed

whole garlic cloves, crushed

Cilantro, leaves and stalks

curry powder to taste

coconut milk

Cut chicken open by removing the backbone and pressing to break the breastbone until flat. Add thin slices of lime and a few lemongrass pieces under the breast skin. Place the rest of the lemongrass pieces, lime slices, ginger, garlic and cilantro leaves and stalks into a large roasting pan. Rest the butterflied chicken on top of the aromatic flavorings and roast for about 1 1/2 hours until breast meat registers 180 degrees on a meat thermometer.

Remove and place chicken on a platter to rest. In a saucepan, add coconut milk and about 1 tsp curry powder, and the aromatics from the roasting pan. Simmer lightly for about 15-20 minutes taste for curry powder, and add juice from one half of a lime. Strain the sauce and serve with Basmati rice and a stir fry of vegetables.

Goat Cheese and Tomato Gratin

8-10 ounces goat cheese

2 tsp. minced fresh rosemary leaves

2 tsp. minced fresh oregano leaves

1 1/2 – 2 cups homemade tomato sauce at room temperature

Preheat the broiler.

Spread the goat cheese on the bottom of a gratin dish. Sprinkle with half of the herbs. Spoon on just enough tomato sauce to coat the goat cheese. Top with olives and remaining herbs. Place gratin dish about 3 inches from the broiler heat. Broil until cheese is melted and fragrant and tomato sauce is bubbling, about 2-3 min.

Serve with crusty French bread slices lightly toasted with olive oil.

Great as an appetizer, snack or add a toss salad of mixed greens with balsamic vinegar and olive oil for a nice lunch entree.

Grilled Prawns with Pepper Citrus Marinade

8-12 jumbo prawns peeled and deveined (this recipe is very good with lobster tails also)

1 lime

1 lemon

2 oranges

several sprigs of cilantro, stems removed and chopped coarsely

a few chive leaves, snipped

2 shallots, minced

salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tbsp. light olive oil

Squeeze the lemon, lime and oranges into a bowl, add the chopped cilantro, chives, salt, pepper, shallots and olive oil mixing well. Add the shrimp and marinate for about 1 hour stirring occasionally. Heat a hot grill or grill pan to medium hot and grill the prawns until they curl up and turn opaque throughout, about 2 minutes per side. Serve immediately or at room temperature.

This recipe would be great for a quick get together with friends. Start with salsa and tortilla chips, and serve the prawns with crusty bread, grilled vegetables and a crisp white wine. Add a light dessert of your favorite ice cream.

Salmon Fillets sautéed with herb butter

2-3 sprigs each Lemon verbena, Sweet Marjoram, & Parsley chopped finely

juice of 1/2 Lemon

salt & freshly ground black pepper

Salmon Fillets cut to about 6 oz. each, checked for bones, and trimmed

1-2 tsp. light Olive oil

2 tsp. butter

Mix herbs with salt, pepper and lemon juice in a small bowl. Rub over fish fillets and let sit for at least 15 min. or up to 1 hour in the refrigerator. Heat a skillet to medium hot and add oil, then butter. Add salmon skin side down and cook for 5-7 minutes until fish feels slightly firm to the touch and has browned on the first side. Gently turn fillets and cook for 3-4 minutes until fish feels firm but is not separating into layers. Remove and drain slightly on paper towels then serve sprinkled with parsley.

This recipe is an elegant and easy meal for a holiday dinner party. The fresh herbs add color and flavor. You can cook the salmon in the oven for a large crowd and add scalloped potatoes or a rice pilaf, and fresh broccoli spears or asparagus. A chocolate dessert, some good wine, and you’re done!

Purple Ruffles Basil Aioli

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbsp Purple Ruffles Basil, chopped

1 tsp. Lemon juice

1 cup good quality mayonnaise (or make your own)

2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

ground pepper to taste

Add garlic, basil, and lemon juice to food processor and puree until it becomes a paste. Add the mayonnaise and pulse 2-3 times to mix. Drizzle oil while running the food processor in a light stream to combine with the mayonnaise mixture until very smooth. Grind a generous amount of black pepper over the top. Serve as a garnish for fish, spread on sandwiches, or as a dip for crudités.

This recipe made with Purple basil has a great purple color and the most incredible flavor. Use it on sandwiches for a bright new twist of flavor.

Lime Basil Vinaigrette

1 clove garlic, minced

2 tbsp. Lime Basil, chopped

2 tbsp. Chives, chopped

1 shallot, minced

1 tsp. Dijon mustard

1/3 – 1/2 cup of white wine vinegar

salt & freshly ground black pepper

1 1/2 cups extra virgin olive oil

Mash together the garlic, basil, chives, and shallot until a paste is formed. Add to a food processor along with the mustard, vinegar, salt & pepper. Mix well. Slowly drizzle the oil in a steady stream while the processor is running until the ingredients are fully emulsified. Let the dressing sit for about 30 minutes for best flavor.

Ricotta Basil Spread

1 c. ricotta cheese

1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon milk

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon minced fresh basil

salt and pepper to taste

Mix, chill for at least 30 minutes. Good w/crackers or fresh veggies.

Thin w/more milk to make a dip. Simple but delicious.

Smashed Potatoes with Basil Pesto

3 lbs. red skinned or Yukon gold potatoes, quartered

1/2 cup milk or half & half

2 tbsp. butter

1/2 cup Pesto sauce, made without pine nuts

salt and freshly ground pepper

Boil potatoes in salted water until very tender. Drain well and place the pan back on the stove to dry the potatoes. Smash the potatoes with a masher or large fork blending in the milk & butter. Add pesto sauce, salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot.

Tomato Bruschetta

8 slices of thick, crusty, firm bread

2 large cloves garlic, halved

2 large cloves garlic, minced

3-4 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

4 medium ripe tomatoes, cored and diced

1/2 cup basil leaves, chopped

salt & pepper to taste

Grill or broil bread turning once until golden brown. Remove and rub one side of each with garlic halves.

Combine next 4 ingredients and season with salt & pepper. Divide the tomato mixture among the bruschetta and serve immediately.

Thai Basil Vinaigrette or Marinade

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

2 tbsp. Thai Basil, chopped

2 tbsp. Fish sauce

1 tsp. sugar

salt to taste

ground red pepper to taste

6 tbsp. vegetable or peanut oil

Whisk together in a small bowl all ingredients except oil. (Or process in a blender or food processor) Add oil in a slow steady stream whisking constantly until smooth. Use immediately or refrigerate.

Fresh Corn Risotto with Basil, Tomato, and Lime

1 cup diced, seeded, and peeled, ripe tomatoes

2 tbsp. chopped fresh Sweet Basil

juice of 2 limes

1/4 tsp. salt

5 cups Chicken Stock

2 cups fresh corn kernels (or frozen corn, defrosted)

2 tbsp. butter, unsalted

1/2 cup finely chopped scallions, white part only

1 1/2 cup Arborio rice

1/2 cup dry white wine

salt & pepper to taste

freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese

Combine tomatoes, basil, and lime juice in a small bowl. Bring chicken stock to a simmer. Puree 1 cup of the corn in a food processor. Heat the butter in a large deep skillet over medium heat. Add the scallions and cook until translucent, about 5 min. Add rice and stir to coat with the butter. Add the wine and cook stirring until the stock is absorbed into the rice. Add chicken stock in 1/2 cup increments stirring in between until liquid is almost completely absorbed each time before adding more. Continue until the rice is almost tender about 15 minutes then add the pureed corn and another 1/2 cup of stock. Continue cooking, stirring and adding stock as needed until the rice is tender, 5-10 minutes more. Stir in the remaining corn kernels and the tomato mixture. Remove from the heat and add salt & pepper to taste and sprinkle with cheese before serving. Serve with a light salad as a main dish or in smaller portions as a side dish. Great for a buffet.

Adapted from: Joy of Cooking (our favorite cookbook!)

Herb, Tomato and Vegetable Beef Soup

This recipe can use literally every type of vegetable you can get your hands on. Make enough to freeze some for later!

1 1/2 lbs. good beef sirloin or chuck, well trimmed and cut into bite sized pieces

light olive oil as needed

1 onion, chopped

2-3 celery stalks (with leaves), chopped

4-5 carrots, chopped into bite sized pieces

2-3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed

1 – 28 oz can of diced or pureed tomatoes

1 can of tomato paste

1 quart of water or beef stock (chicken or vegetable can also be used)

Salt & Pepper to taste

Fresh herbs such as thyme, oregano, parsley, basil, marjoram and 1 small sprig of rosemary. Herbs should be chopped fine or tied into a bundle with kitchen string which can be removed after 1 hour of cooking time.

Suggestions for vegetables: (these should cook according to length of time needed, frozen or canned vegetables will take less time and can be added for the last 15 min.)

2-4 potatoes (depending upon size), diced

canned or frozen corn

1-2 zucchini or squash, cut to bite size

green beans, canned, frozen or fresh



or even broccoli!

Add about 2 tbsp. oil to a large skillet or Dutch oven and heat on high. Season meat with salt & pepper and add to the skillet in one layer and brown it over medium heat in separate batches adding oil as necessary. Remove cooked meat to a stockpot.

In the same skillet, over medium heat, add about the same amount of oil and sauté onions and celery until just translucent. Add chopped herbs, or herb bundle, cooking for just a few minutes then turn off the heat and add garlic, stirring to heat but don’t let it brown. Add to the meat in the stockpot along with the tomatoes, paste and water or broth. Simmer soup for at least an hour then remove herb bundle, if used, and add vegetables in stages beginning with the potatoes, which take about 30-40 min. to cook, and ending with corn and squash which take only about 15 min. to cook. Taste and season as needed with salt & pepper.

Serve with Cornbread, Biscuits, or French Bread. Note, fresh herbs make a huge difference in flavor in this soup and you should use them where possible but dried herbs are delicious too.

Wilted Spinach Salad

Fresh Spinach leaves, well washed and stems removed.

Thick sliced smoked bacon or pancetta

1/2 thinly sliced red onion

1/2 bunch of Chives, chopped coarsely

3-4 tbsp. Red Wine vinegar

1/2 tsp sugar or to taste

freshly ground pepper and salt to taste

Cook bacon slowly until crisp but still chewy. Remove bacon drain and break into bite sized pieces. Add vinegar to drippings in the pan on low heat. Add sugar and salt and pepper stirring until sugar is dissolved. Add onion slices and cook for about 2-3 minutes. Toss in chives and spinach leaves and turn over gently to coat the leaves with dressing. Remove from heat and serve immediately with bacon sprinkled on top. Add hard boiled egg slices if desired.

Summertime Catch-All Recipe!

Summer squashes 1-2 mixed colors, diced

1/2 large sweet onion, diced

1-2 cloves garlic, minced (optional)

1 sweet bell pepper, diced

3-4 tomatoes, diced (peeled and seeded if preferred) heirlooms with mixed colors are best!

2-3 tbsp. good Olive oil

about 3-4 tbsp. of fresh herbs minced such as Sweet Basil, Chives, Italian Parsley, Oregano, and Marjoram (any mixture will do)

1/4 tsp. hot red pepper flakes (optional)

Additional items to add:

2 fresh chicken breasts, cut into bite sized pieces.

or 2 cups large shrimp, peeled

Couscous, cooked with chicken broth

or cooked penne or spaghetti Pasta (regular or whole wheat).

Begin by sautéing the onion and peppers in the olive oil, add garlic when onion is translucent. Add chicken or shrimp, herbs, tomatoes, and squash and cook over med high heat for about 5-10 minutes or until chicken is fully cooked through and vegetables are just tender. Toss in a large bowl with Couscous or Pasta and serve immediately.

This really is a catch all recipe, just about any vegetable can be added and any type of meat or substitute garbanzo or other beans to add protein. Leave out the pasta or couscous for a low carb version. Fill tortillas for a tasty hot sandwich or serve it cold at a picnic or cookout.

Steak Tips salad with Blue Cheese and Lime Mint Vinaigrette

1 10-16 oz. Sirloin steak

Season steak and grill to medium rare and let stand for 10-15 min. before slicing into thin strips.

1 head of nice flavorful lettuce greens in bite sizes

1/2 cup roasted red bell peppers, cut into bite sizes

1/2 cup crumbled Blue Cheese or your favorite Feta or Chevre

1 English or seedless Cucumber diced

1/2 cup french filet green beans, just cooked until crisp

1/2 Red Onion sliced thinly and separated into rings

1 tomato cut into wedges

4 hard boiled eggs, peeled and cut in half

Arrange in a large serving dish lettuces, roasted peppers, cucumbers, onion rings, tomatoes, & green beans. Drizzle with vinaigrette dressing and add boiled eggs around the edges of the salad. Add steak slices across the top of the salad and sprinkle with Blue or Feta cheese. Serve with garlic croutons.

Vinaigrette dressing:

Juice of 2 limes

several sprigs of spearmint leaves, minced

2 shallots minced fine

Salt & freshly ground pepper

about 1/2 cup Good extra virgin olive oil added slowly to emulsify in a blender.

Garlic Croutons:

4- 1″ slices of good firm bread (day old is best)

1-2 garlic cloves, sliced

2-3 tbsp. olive oil

Heat oil in a large skillet until very warm but not too hot. Add garlic slices and cook over low heat for just a few minutes to extract the garlic flavor into the oil. Remove garlic from the oil and bring the heat up slightly. Add the bread slices and fry for about 3-4 minutes per side until lightly browned. Drain on paper towels and serve with salad.

Winter Squash Soup

This recipe can be made with any winter squash except maybe spaghetti squash which has a different texture. The buttery smooth flavor with a touch of heat and spice is fantastic in the winter or freeze some for a light summer soup.

1 cup chopped onions

1/2 cup chopped celery

1 cup chopped carrots

1 leek, cleaned and chopped (optional)

fresh parsley sprigs and stems, chopped

2 tbsp. butter

1-2 lbs of Winter Squash such as butternut, acorn, or pumpkin

1 tablespoon minced or grated fresh ginger

2 jalapeno (or hotter) peppers

2 cups chicken stock

1 cup heavy cream or 1 1/2 cups half & half

salt & pepper to taste

cayenne pepper to taste (optional)

Chop vegetables and saute in butter until onion starts to become translucent. Add squash, ginger, and jalapeno peppers and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add chicken stock to almost cover the vegetables and cook on low heat for about 35-45 minutes. Squash should be very tender.

Using a blender or food processor, add ladles of soup to the bowl and blend in batches until smooth. Return all to the cooking pot and add cream. Heat on low until simmering hot but not boiling. Season to taste with salt and pepper and cayenne if you like some kick to it.

Chili Relleno stuffed with Corn, Peppers, Shrimp and Cheese

4 small or 2 large Poblano Peppers (you may use sweet bell peppers if you prefer a mild flavor)

1/4 cup of cilantro, chopped

1 can of corn or 1/2 package of frozen corn

1 cup of fresh peeled shrimp, cut into bite sized pieces

1/4 cup of chopped sweet bell pepper

2 cloves garlic, minced

3-4 green onions, chopped or 1/2 red onion, chopped

1 cup of Mexican cheese, Monterey jack, Queso or other.

1 can of Rotel or diced tomatoes

salt & pepper to taste

Roast peppers on a gas eye of your stove or in the oven at 500 degrees until blackened and skin begins to bubble and peel. Place in a plastic bag for 20 minutes to cool and peel the blackened skin off under running water. Clean and remove the seeds and stems.

Mix all of the remaining ingredients and fill peppers with the mixture. Add a slice of Monterrey Jack to the top of the peppers.

Place on a baking sheet and bake for 25 minutes at 375 degrees.

Great main course for vegetarian dinners or as a side dish with fish or chicken!

Tomato Goat Cheese Bruschetta

2 Fresh Ripe Garden Tomatoes, diced small
3-5 fresh Basil leaves, chopped
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
4 oz. fresh chevre goat cheese (or cream cheese)
2 tbsp. Extra Virgin olive oil
6-8 slices crusty Italian or French bread

In a skillet warm olive oil over low heat. Add minced garlic and cook very gently for about 1-2 minutes. Remove from heat and add a pinch of salt and 2 grinds of fresh black pepper.

In a medium bowl, toss the tomatoes and fresh basil together and add the olive oil & garlic mixing well.

Toast bread slices on a grill pan or under a broiler until just crisp. While still warm, spread goat cheese in a thin layer across the toast. To make ahead, just before serving, pop the toasts back into the oven with the cheese until warm. Top with bruschetta tomato mixture. Drizzle lightly with balsamic vinegar for extra flavor. Serve immediately!

Marinara Sauce

4-8 Large ripe fresh garden tomatoes, chopped coarsely (seeding and peeling is helpful but not necessary)
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 large sweet onion, chopped finely
6-8 sprigs of chopped fresh herbs such as Oregano, Marjoram, Basil and Parsley
1/4 cup Olive oil
Salt & Pepper to taste
Freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese

Heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Add onions and cook until almost clear or translucent, about 3-5 minutes. Add garlic, tomatoes and herbs and simmer for 5 minutes more. You can blend sauce in a food processor to make it smooth or serve as is over Angel Hair or any other favorite pasta. Grate fresh Parmigiano over top of pasta at the table.

Canning: put into sterile jars and boil 40 minutes in a hot water bath, or 20 min. under 11 lbs. of pressure

Broccoli Crab Bisque 

2 tsp. butter or oil

3 c. broth (fish, chicken, or vegetable)

1 lb. broccoli, stems peeled & sliced, florets reserved

4 med. Potatoes, peeled and diced, divided

1 1/2 c. diced carrots, divided

1/4 c. chopped celery

1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, or to taste

1 tsp. lemon juice

1/4 tsp. thyme leaves

1 bay leaf

1/4 tsp. salt and a dash of cayenne if desired

2 c. milk or 1 cup Half & Half for a thicker, richer broth

8 oz. crab meat

In a large saucepan, sauté the onion in the butter or oil until it is soft. Add the broth, broccoli stems, half the potatoes, half the carrots, celery, pepper, lemon juice, thyme, bay leaf, salt, and cayenne. Bring the soup to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer the soup for about 15 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.

Remove the bay leaf, and puree the vegetables and broth in a blender or food processor. Return the puree to the pot. Add the remaining potatoes and carrots, and cook the soup over a low heat for about 10 minutes. When the potatoes and carrots are nearly soft, add the broccoli florets to the pot, and cook the soup for another 5 to 10 minutes or until the broccoli is tender crisp. Add the milk and the crab meat, and heat the bisque but do not boil it. Serve the bisque with croutons or good crusty bread.

Shrimp & Grits

1 cup Grits (the slow cooking kind, not instant)
half & half and water as directed

4 slices of smoked thick cut bacon or 4 oz. Tasso ham or prosciutto, diced
2 tsp. butter (if using ham)
1/2 large sweet onion, diced
1 shallot, minced
1 sweet bell pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken stock
3-4 chopped scallions
2 smoked sausages, diced
1 lb. or more of large Shrimp, peeled and deveined and cut into bite sized pieces (or leave them in the shell for a nice messy dinner)
1/4 cup grated fresh Parmigiano Reggiano
1 tsp. butter Cook grits according to directions using half water and half milk (or half & half) instead of water.

Cook smoked bacon or chopped tasso ham (if you can get it) in a large skillet until browned. Crumble bacon and set aside.

In the remaining bacon drippings, or in butter, cook onion and/or shallots and sweet bell pepper until onions go translucent. Add 1 large or 2 small cloves of minced garlic at the end for another minute or so. Add ¼ cup flour over the vegetables and mix until well incorporated (no flour showing) and slightly cooked. Add ½ cup white wine and cook for a minute or two then add chicken stock and stir in well to make a sauce. Cook for 5 minutes. (If it is very thick and lumpy, add a little more chicken stock)

Add chopped scallions, reserved bacon, chopped smoked sausage and 1 lb. or more of large shrimp. (I peel the shrimp but if you prefer to cook them in the shell, that is fine too) Add fresh chopped parsley, salt & cracked pepper to taste and a bit of hot sauce (Tabasco or sriracha) for extra heat. Cook until shrimp are done, about 5 minutes.

Add ¼ cup grated Parmigiano reggiano (or cheddar cheese) and butter to hot grits and serve topped with shrimp mixture.

Fresh Potato Parsley soup

2-3 tbsp butter
2 leeks, cleaned well and chopped
2-3 celery stalks, chopped finely with leafy tops
1 quart chicken stock (homemade is best)
5-6 medium white potatoes, peeled (if skins are thin, you can leave the skins on for more fiber and a rustic texture) and cut into large bite-sized pieces
1 can white navy or cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 bunch or several stalks of fresh parsley
2-3 stems of fresh basil (or use a tsp of prepared pesto)
1/2 lemon
Salt & pepper
sour cream and chives to garnish

Remove parsley and basil leaves from stems, set leaves aside and tie stems together with kitchen string. Add butter to a dutch oven and melt over medium heat. Add leeks and celery and cook for about 5 minutes until soft. Add bundle of herb stems, potatoes and chicken stock to dutch oven and cook on medium heat until potatoes are fork tender, about 10 minutes boiling time.

Remove herb stem bundle. Chop parsley and basil leaves finely and add to simmering soup along with drained cannellini beans, lemon juice, and salt & pepper to taste. Simmer soup until beans are warmed through, about 6-10 minutes. Soup can be pureed at this stage for a smoother texture. Add in batches to a blender or use an immersion blender.

Serve with a dollop of sour cream and fresh snipped chives. This recipe would be great with a bruschetta of tomatoes, basil and garlic.

Pumpkin and Black Bean Soup

1 tablespoon oil
1 onion (chopped)
4 cloves garlic (chopped)
1 tablespoon cumin (toasted and ground)
1 tablespoon chipotle chili powder
salt and pepper to taste
4 cups broth (chicken or vegetable)
2 cups pumpkin puree
1 (19 ounce) can black beans (rinsed and drained)
1 (14 ounce) can tomatoes (chopped)
1/4 cup dry Sherry (or dry white wine)
1 handful cilantro (chopped, optional)
1 handful toasted pumpkin seeds (optional as garnish)

add some Chorizo or Italian sausage to spice things up a bit more.

1. Heat the oil in a pan.
2. Add the onions and saute until tender, about 5-7 minutes.
3. Add the garlic, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper and sauté until fragrant, about a minute.
4. Add the broth, pumpkin, black beans, tomatoes and sherry and simmer for 30 minutes.
5. Remove from heat and puree to the desired consistency.
6. Serve garnished with cilantro and toasted pumpkin seeds.