Archive for the ‘Sauces’ Category

Roasted Wild Mushrooms

Monday, January 2nd, 2017

Here is another easy to prepare side dish. Mushrooms are considered to be a “superfood” due to their nutritional benefits, so you can feel great about eating this delicious and healthy side dish.

Roasted Wild Mushrooms

12 to 16 ounces of your favorite wild mushrooms
Olive Oil
Salt & Pepper to taste

Rinse and gently pat dry the mushrooms. Drizzle with a little olive oil, add a sprinkle of salt and a grind or two of fresh pepper.

Roast at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 to 30 minutes (the size and type of mushroom will make a difference, so watch carefully).

From left to right: Velvet Pioppini, Nebrodini Bianco, Shiitake, and Forest Nameko mushrooms.

From left to right: Velvet Pioppini, Nebrodini Bianco, Shiitake, and Forest Nameko mushrooms.

You can roast the larger mushrooms whole and add the smaller mushrooms after 10 minutes or so. You could also slice the larger mushrooms and cook them all about 15 to 20 minutes. There is such variation in the mushrooms that it might take a little trial and error to get them to your liking. We cooked all of these at the same time and the smaller mushrooms (Velvet Pioppini & Forest Nameko mushrooms) were a little more cooked that I would have liked, but they were still delicious.

Serving suggestion ... serve on top of pasta with a brown butter sage sauce.

Serving suggestion … serve on top of pasta with a brown butter sage sauce.

To make a brown butter sage sauce for pasta, place 1 tablespoon of salted butter in a heavy bottomed pan and heat on medium-high heat until the butter begins to bubble and turn golden brown and cook until the butter is a deep golden brown. Watch carefully as the butter can go from perfect to scorched very quickly. Add about 1 tablespoon of olive oil, whisk together, and allow to heat through. Add about 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh sage and cook just a few minutes on medium-low heat to infuse the sage flavor throughout. Add the cooked pasta and gently toss to coat. Portion the pasta onto plates and top with the roasted mushrooms. Garnish with fresh sage.

A Glorious Day for a Ride

Monday, January 25th, 2016

Yesterday was cold, wet, and windy. Today was glorious. The air was clean and fresh, the sun was warm, and the breeze was gentle. It was perfect weather for an afternoon ride. Overall, this was a pretty good weekend!

I enjoyed a rare trip to the Davis Farmer’s Market.

Romanesco Broccoli ... something about the light at this display really caught my eye.

Romanesco Broccoli … something about the light here really caught my eye.

I had a craving for lamb, so I picked up a nice piece at my local Costco. I marinated it in some coffee, herbs, red wine, and balsamic vinegar. I cooked a bit of it last night and served it with spinach fettuccine, a rustic charred heirloom tomato sauce, and wild mushrooms.

Rustic Lamb Hunter-Style Pasta Dish ... what would you call this? It was amazing. The photo does not even begin to do it justice.

Rustic Lamb Hunter-Style Pasta Dish … what would you call this? It was amazing.

The photo does not even begin to do this dish justice. If I may say so myself, it truly was at least as good as any dish I’ve had in any restaurant.

The rest of the lamb marinated overnight and is now in a pot of Irish Lamb Stew made with Stout and Coffee. It smells delicious. I’ll be serving it shortly on a bed of Colcannon (simply smashed Yukon Gold potatoes with some baby kale mixed in). Photos to follow.


Chicken Cacciatore

Thursday, December 3rd, 2015

One of my culinary “specialties” when I was kid was Chicken Cacciatore. I’m not sure when or where I first had it, but it inspired me to find my own way of preparing it. Growing up we ate lots of spaghetti and lots of chicken legs. So, why not together?

Initially I started out with jar of prepared spaghetti sauce, whichever brand my mom happened to buy (which was whatever brand was on sale). I simply browned the chicken legs in a little oil in our large Revereware skillet, then poured in the jar of spaghetti sauce and probably also a can of tomato paste. I would cook this on medium high heat until the sauce is heated through, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the chicken is cooked through and falling off the bones. We served this over spaghetti and generously garnished with that grated Parmesan cheese that comes in the shiny cardboard tube.

Over the years, my Chicken Cacciatore has evolved quite a bit to a fully from scratch dish including fresh tomatoes, mushrooms, fresh herbs, and sometimes onion or fennel, freshly grated cheeses, and NO pasta sauce from a jar. Perhaps a bit of tomato paste, depending on how much liquid the fresh tomatoes produce, but that’s the only non-scratch ingredient in the sauce.

Chicken Cacciatore

Chicken Cacciatore … recipe to follow later.


Fresh Tomato & Fennel Sauce

Monday, February 9th, 2015

I am planning to use this with chicken to make a cacciatore-like dish.

Fresh Tomato & Fennel Sauce

1 medium bulb of fresh fennel
1/2 to 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, slightly crushed
8 to 10 fresh Roma tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon Herbs de Provence
1/8 teaspoon red chile flakes
4 to 6 small mushrooms, or stems from about 18 mushrooms
salt and pepper to taste

You'll end up with about 4 cups of tomatoes.

In a large, good quality non-stick saute pan, cook the fennel over medium-high heat. Allow to brown slightly, and cook until a bit softened. Add the tomatoes, herbs, and chile flakes. Cover and cook over medium-low heat until the tomatoes begin to cook down a bit. Give a good stir.

Add the tomatoes, herbs, chile flakes, and cover. Cook on medium-low.

The Roma tomatoes produced more liquid that I anticipated, so I was looking for something to thicken the sauce a bit without having to cook it down too much. I had cleaned some some mushrooms for another use, and thought I’d try pureeing the stems. That way my roasted mushrooms could be just caps (more attractive) and I wouldn’t waste the stems.

Hmm ... that's a lot of liquid.

Clean and trim the mushrooms (or stems). Place in a blender or food processor and pulse to chop them a bit. Ladle about 1/2 to one cup of the the cooked sauce into the bowl of the blender and process mixture until smooth. Add to the sauce, stir, and cook a few more minutes.

The finished sauce. Perhaps not the prettiest, but it will be wonderful with grilled chicken.

This makes a total of about 2 cups of sauce.

For my Challenge, I will count this as a vegetable.


Pasta with (Healthy) Meat Sauce

Sunday, January 18th, 2015

This is so easy to put together and makes for great leftovers.

Healthy Meat Sauce

2 pounds of lean ground turkey
1 tablespoon of fennel seeds, slightly crushed
optional – red chili flakes for a little heat
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, finely minced (more, if you desire!)
1 small red onion, finely diced
8 ounces of mushrooms, sliced (either white or crimini mushrooms will be great)
2 pounds of fresh roma tomatoes, cut into about a 1/4-inch dice (keep the juice!) or 1 can of crushed tomatoes (about 28 ounces)
2 tablespoons pesto, or about 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 4-ounce can of tomato paste
1 large jar of your favorite prepared marinara sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Your favorite pasta (I’m partial to either whole grain or spinach pasta)

For garnish, freshly grated or shaved cheese, such as Parmesan, Romano, or Asiago, & freshly chopped basil and/or parsley

Line a colander with 2 layers of paper towels and set aside. In a large, heavy bottomed skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the ground turkey, fennel seeds, and chili flakes; cook thoroughly. Some people like to chop it up really finely, but I like some chunks in there, so break the meat up as much or as little as you like. When it’s cooked through, scoop the meat into the colander, cover to keep warm, and allow any excess fat to drain. If you’re using lean turkey, there shouldn’t be much. Set the meat aside for now.

Wipe out the skillet, add the second tablespoon of olive oil and heat on medium heat. Add the minced garlic and cook a little, being careful to not brown it. Add the sliced mushrooms and saute a few minutes, just until softened. Add the diced onions and cook a few more minutes, just until the onions are translucent.

If you are using fresh tomatoes, add them now. Stir well and allow to cook over medium heat until they’ve softened a bit. Then add the meat, pesto or chopped basil, tomato paste and stir to blend well. Finally, add the prepared marinara sauce and stir to combine well. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

If you are using canned tomatoes, then add them with the marinara sauce.

Cook over low heat, gently simmering, while you prepare your pasta. Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package.

To serve …

Ladle your pasta into a bowl, top the hot pasta with some freshly grated cheese.

Top with the hot sauce. This is wonderful with a garnish of mushrooms cooked in a bit of red wine.

For the garnish of mushrooms cooked in red wine … credit must go to Tia Stella … and I’m typing this from memory, so hopefully I’m not missing anything. What you’ll need:

1 tablespoon each butter & olive oil
6 ounces of white mushrooms, cleaned and cut into about 1/4-inch thick slices
a generous splash (well, maybe 2) of dry red wine
salt and pepper

Heat the olive oil and butter in a heavy bottomed skillet, until the butter melts and just starts to bubble a bit. Add the mushrooms, saute a few minutes to soften. Add the red wine and stir, cooking until the wine is reduced and you’ve got a nice slightly thickened sauce. If you want, you can add a little bit more cold butter* to help thicken the sauce and make them kinda’ decadent. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

*If you add a bit more butter, start with about a teaspoon of cold butter cut into small cubes, and whisk it in to the pan. You’ll want to be careful at this point to not let it get too hot or the sauce will “break” and the butter will separate out make the sauce oily (for lack of better word at the moment!)

If you don’t like to cook with wine, you could use a good balsamic vinegar in place of the wine.

This would be a great meal after a big bike ride like the Napa Valley Tour de Cure. Come ride with me! There is still plenty of time to sign up. If you don’t or can’t ride, please consider donating to my ride. Please help me reach my goal to be a Champion again this year! I am a long way from reaching my goal this year, so any help will be much appreciated.

As Promised … Pasta Primavera

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015

This is an awesome dinner to serve the night before a big ride. To make it a great recovery meal, serve it as a side dish with some good lean protein such as fish, chicken, turkey, or pork tenderloin.

Pasta Primavera

1 tablespoon good olive oil
Assorted vegetables*, cleaned, trimmed, and cut into about 1 1/2-inch pieces
1 can tomato paste
1 jar of marinara sauce
your favorite pasta

Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large heavy bottomed skillet. Saute the vegetables for a few minutes, just to start them cooking. Add the tomato paste and marinara sauce. Stir to combine well. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and allow to simmer for about 15 to 30 minutes. How long you cook the sauce will depend on how crisp you like your vegetables. I tend to like mine on the crisp side, so when I prepare a Primavera this way, I only cook the sauce 15 to 20 minutes.

Cook your pasta according to the directions its packaging. Drain the pasta, and if desired, toss with a little olive oil.

To serve …

Portion your pasta into a bowl.

Ladle your Primavera Sauce over the pasta.

If desired, sprinkle with a little freshly grated cheese, such as Parmesan, Asiago, or Romano. A good, crusty bread will be a nice accompaniment, also. If you feel like something a bit richer, then feel free to add a bit of Italian Sausage, sweet or spicy would be good. To keep it on the light side, be sure to use a lower fat sausage, such as chicken or turkey.

* Tonight I used asparagus, carrots, fresh fennel, French green beans, heirloom cherry tomatoes, Roma tomatoes, and snap peas. You can use any combination you like! That’s the beauty of a recipe like this – it is so very flexible. It’s easy, nutritious, low in fat, and delicious, too.

Coming Soon … Pasta Primavera

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015

On the stove right now is a big batch of super healthy, super easy Pasta Primavera sauce. It’s loaded with veggies, low in fat, nutrient-rich, and flavorful. I’ll post the recipe soon.

Pasta Primavera Sauce ... perfect with spinach linguine!


Fish Tacos

Thursday, October 9th, 2014

Had a long day and need a quick, healthy dinner?  Try this.

Wild cod cooked in citrus juice

Fish Tacos

2 nice-sized cod filets
1 each: lemon, lime, small orange
1 tablespoon avocado oil
1/2 teaspoon lemon-pepper seasoning
1/2 to one small red onion, cut into a small dice
Fresh flour (or corn) tortillas
Your favorite salsa and guacamole
Optional: your favorite hot sauce or “crema caliente” (recipe follows)

Quickly rinse and pat dry two nice sized cod filets, then place in a glass baking dish. Zest and then squeeze the lemon, lime, and orange. Sprinkle the zest over the fish, then pour the juice over. Allow to sit for up to 30 minutes, turning once or twice. Add the avocado oil to a thick-bottomed non-stick saute pan and heat on high until the pan is hot. Sprinkle the fish with a little lemon pepper, then add to the hot pan. Quickly sear on one side, then turn and quickly sear on the other side. Pour the juice in the pan, cover, and turn the heat down to low. Allow to cook slowly until the fish is tender and flaky. Turn the heat off and allow the fish to sit in the hot juices.

Preparing the filling

Heat the tortillas and wrap in a towel until you’re ready to assemble the tacos.

We mixed together the fish, salsa, and red onion, along with some of the cooking juices from the fish. This worked out great. Simply spoon some of the fish mixture onto a tortilla, top with a little guacamole, and enjoy!

Fish Tacos


If you like it spicy, top with a splash (or two) of your favorite hot sauce or a little dollop of crema caliente.

Enjoy in good health! These are perfect post-ride … good lean protein (cod), good fat (avocado), great flavor.

Crema Caliente

1 tablespoon chipotle in adobo sauce
1 cup sour cream (natural, no fat, of course!)

Dice the chiles, add with their sauce to the sour cream. Stir.



Grilled Wild Swordfish with Pineapple Salsa

Sunday, October 5th, 2014

Swordfish with Pineapple Salsa

Fall 2014 Quarter has officially started and life on campus is returning to its hectic quarter pace. I miss my morning pre-work rides, but have been able to get a few post-work rides in lately.

Thursday on my way home … dealing with commute traffic (ugh!) … I realized that what I really needed was to sort of reset things with a healthy, satisfying dinner. I stopped by my new local neighborhood store, Sprouts Farmers Market, and wandered about. Walking by the seafood counter, I saw some beautiful wild swordfish on sale. Hmm … grilled wild swordfish with pineapple salsa … why not? That was one of the very first special meals I cooked as a rookie foodie, and a soothing reminder of a simpler time long ago.

This beauty of it is that this is actually a very simple meal to prepare. Marinate the fish. Chop a few ingredients for the salsa. Make a simple salad. Grill the fish. Enjoy. If you want, serve with some roasted root veggies (pictured here – from the deli counter at my local Nugget Market), steamed rice, or a crusty hearth bread.

First, marinate the swordfish in some freshly squeezed lime juice and a little olive oil while you prepare the pineapple salsa.

Pineapple Salsa

1 1/2 cups fresh pineapple* chunks (about 1/4-inch cubes)
2 Serrano chilies, seeded and chopped
1 small red onion, cut into about 1/8-inch chunks
juice of 1-2 fresh limes
a large handful of fresh cilantro leaves
salt and pepper to taste

Fresh pineapple is best, but in a pinch you could use canned (in its own juice, not sweetened).

Prepare the cilantro. Remove the leaves from the stems, rinse well and drain on towels.

Prepare the fresh pineapple. Using a large chef’s knife, cut off both top and bottom and discard. Cut off the outer skin, being sure to cut deep enough to remove the “eyes.” If you’ve never cut a fresh pineapple, try Googling “how to cut a pineapple” and you’ll find some videos and easy to follow instructions.

Once you’ve removed all of the skin and “eyes” of the pineapple, slice off a few 1/4-inch thick slices, then stack them and cut them into 1/4-inch cubes.

Note – if you want to make this even more simple … buy some pre-cut fresh pineapple chunks or spears. Many stores carry it in the the produce section.

Rinse the peppers, then cut them length-wise. I like to remove most of the seeds from the peppers, otherwise the salsa is too hot. However, some like it hot, so this is up to you! Dice finely and add to the pineapple.

Squeeze the limes and add the juice to the pineapple and peppers.

Coarsely chop the cilantro and add. Stir to combine all ingredients well. Season to taste with a little salt and pepper.

Get your grill ready. While it is pre-heating, prepare your salad or other side dish. I’d recommend a simple salad with a light citrusy vinaigrette.

Grill the swordfish. Click here for some simple directions.

Place the grilled fish on your plate and spoon some salsa over it. Serve with side dish(es) of your choice.


Just Three Weeks Away!

Sunday, April 13th, 2014

The Napa Valley Tour de Cure is just 3 weeks from today!

I’ve got brand new Continental Grand Prix Four Season tires and a nice tune-up on my Colnago, so my bike is all set to go. I got a good training ride in yesterday with 85 miles from Davis, Winters, Vacaville, Dixon, and back to Davis. Just a couple of rolling hills in there, so I’ve still got some hill work to feel ready. Next weekend! Today’s ride will be a nice couple of hours spinning recovery ride.

After the ride I made a big batch of brown rice penne pasta with marinara, ground turkey breast, mushrooms, artichoke hearts, spinach, argula, toasted fennel seeds, and herbs. It tasted good, but it was not a very pretty sauce, so no photos. It was just about the perfect post-ride dinner, though.

It’s a bit breezy here this weekend, so that will add to the training benefit, right?!