Garbanzo & Feta Salad

I’ve made this amazing “Chickpea Salad” from The Pioneer Woman twice in two weeks. Does that tell you something? I did make a few changes to her recipe, but nothing too drastic. It’s a great side dish, or even main dish, since there’s protein in the garbanzos and feta. So delish!

I made it yesterday, holding back on the avocadoes and dressing until just before tossing it and serving it today at a picnic. So you can easily make it ahead of time.


2 15-ounce cans garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
6 oz. feta, cubed (omit for a vegan version)
4-5 baby cucumbers, (or 1 English cucumber), cut into half moons (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 pt. cherry tomatoes, halved
1 red or orange bell pepper, diced
1/2 small red onion, thinly sliced (optional – Kumy doesn’t like raw onions, so I didn’t add this.)
2 avocados, cubed
1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

1/3 cup olive oil
3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp dried Basil
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

Mix all veggies, beans and feta in a large bowl. If making ahead, don’t add avocadoes.

Mix dressing ingredients in a mason jar, close lid and shake like crazy.

Drizzle dressing over and toss well.

Note for photo: my avocadoes were quite ripe, and were very creamy.

Yogurt with Berries and Granola

When you want a really light, delicious breakfast, snack or dessert, nothing beats good yogurt, berries and granola. This is a dish that I make all the time, but never think of writing down.

We usually buy the best whole milk plain yogurt we can find (Brown Cow makes amazing yogurt!) and then add a little honey or jam. My favorite jam to add is Spicy Peach, paired with Cinnamon Granola. But you can really use almost any jam or fruit, even a frozen berry mix if you want to, and any granola you have on hand.


1 cup any berries – blueberries, raspberries and blackberries are good
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
1 1/2 Tbsp Spicy Peach Jam
handful of Cinnamon Granola

In a wide, flat bowl start with yogurt, and drop jam over in little plops. (Technical term.) Toss berries and then granola over. Stir gently and devour.

Cinnamon Granola

Granola with fresh berries!

One of our favorite breakfast places, First Watch, has a great Chia Seed Pudding, made with coconut milk, berries and really cinnamonny granola.

I make it at home sometimes, but it’s the granola that I make over and over again, using a recipe from

Mel bakes her granola at a higher temperature, and let’s it cool completely before breaking it up. It stays in little chunks that way.

I use this granola for snacking, or on top of oatmeal or with fruit over yoghurt. It’s so good.


6 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
½ cup brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans (can use other nuts, too.)
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp kosher salt (use 1/3 tsp if using table salt)

½ cup light olive oil
½ cup honey or agave nectar
1½ tsp vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Line two half sheet pans with parchment paper or a silpat mat and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine all of the granola ingredients and toss or stir to evenly combine.

In a small bowl, blend syrup ingredients until well-combined. Pour the syrup over the granola ingredients and stir until all the ingredients are evenly coated.

Scrape half of the mixture onto each sheet pan. Spread into an even layer.

Bake for 15-25 minutes, stirring once or twice and rotating pans halfway through. Keep an eye on the color – you want it to be lightly brown, without getting burned.

Leave it to cool completely. Gently break it up and store in an airtight container.

Mushrooms with Brown Butter & Sage

This is such a delicious dish – mushrooms sauteed in brown butter and sage, seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic with a little spinach and a dollop of Mascarpone cheese. These flavors always feel very woodsy to me and I love that it feels meaty and satisfying, but not heavy.

8 oz pasta, any kind
4 Tbsp butter
1 tsp dried Sage, crushed
1 ½ lbs mushrooms (Costco package), washed and halved
½ tsp kosher salt
½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
½ tsp garlic powder
2 cups baby spinach
2 Tbsp Mascarpone cheese (Cream cheese is fine, too.)

Start a pot of salted water boiling, and add Pasta. Cook until done – but not mushy.

Meanwhile, rinse the mushrooms well. I know you’re not “supposed” to do that, but rinsing is so much quicker and any little water that they absorb cooks off anyway. For washing larger quantities of mushrooms, a basket strainer like this works great:

In a large frying pan on medium heat, melt the butter and continue cooking and stirring until the butter gets a nice brown color and smells nutty. Takes about 5 minutes or so.

Add the Sage and stir for about 30 seconds.

Add the mushrooms and toss well. Continue cooking and stirring until the mushrooms release their water, and then add the salt, pepper and garlic powder.

Continue cooking and stir occasionally, until only about a half cup of liquid is left. Add the baby spinach and stir to wilt. Take off the heat and add the Mascarpone cheese, stirring gently to combine.

Taste a mushroom and add a little salt, pepper or garlic powder if needed. Sprinkle a good-sized pinch of rubbed sage over the top.

Serve over pasta. Delish!

Dying Easter Eggs Blue, Naturally

For a really fun alternative to commercially prepared egg dyes, try dying eggs using natural ingredients. One of my favorite, surprising ways to dye eggs is by using Red Cabbage. This is a great project to do with kids!


1 red cabbage, cut into thin slices
1 Tbsp vinegar
18 eggs (or as many as you want)

Place cabbage into a large pot and add water about 2/3 of the way to the top. Add vinegar and eggs, and bring to the boil. Simmer for 12-15 minutes and remove from heat. Let cool and remove eggs and rinse off any bits of cabbage stuck to them. (They won’t be dyed yet, but it’s easier to cook the eggs that way. Removing stray cabbage bits is important – I still had a good bit of cabbage on my eggs and I got a few blotchy spots.)

Place eggs into a large pitcher. Once cabbage water has cooled a bit, pour it through a fine mesh strainer over the eggs. Cover and store in the refrigerator for several hours for a light blue color. Keep them in overnight if you want darker. I kept mine in the cabbage water for about 18 hours total.

Carefully pour out the cabbage water and pat the eggs dry.

For more colors, try onion skins for pretty yellow and beets for soft pink, prepared the same way. You’ll never go back to commercial dyes!

Incredible Dill & Onion Dip

Dill Seeds are well known, but Dill Weed deserves more credit! It’s the star of the show in this adaptation of the Pioneer Woman’s Dill Dip. I served it with raw veggies and as a sauce on Baked Salmon, at my brother Ron’s suggestion. So delicious!

How I fell in love with Dill Weed: My neighbor Gene has tons of dill growing in his garden and let me harvest quite a lot last fall. Drying dill weed is easy and it adds great flavor to many dishes. I often make Salmon with dried dill, salt, pepper and garlic powder.

Ree adds 2 Tbsp of pickle juice, but I didn’t have any so I just added a little vinegar. She also only uses mayo and sour cream, but since I had a lot of plain yogurt, I drained it and used about a cup.


1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream
1 cup plain whole milk yogurt, drained (see note 1 below)
2 tsp vinegar
2 Tbsp dried dill (see note 2 below)
1 Tbsp dried parsley
1 Tbsp dried minced onions
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp kosher salt

Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl. Cover with plastic and store in the fridge overnight. Taste before serving and add salt if needed. The minced onions rehydrate and blend with the dill to make a truly delicious dip.

Note 1:

To make your own “greek” style yogurt at home you just need an empty yogurt container and a paper coffee filter. Cut a few notches in the bottom of the container, and tuck a coffee filter down around the bottom. Add the yogurt and let it drain into a deep cup in the fridge for several hours or overnight. If you let it drain until it is quite thick, you can actually season it and use it as a very soft cheese.

Here’s my notched yogurt container:

Note 2:

Drying Dill is also super easy, you can tie it as shown in the beautiful photo above by Elena Kloppenburg on Unsplash. Or you can just use a clothespin to hold it. Then just pop it in a folded down brown paper lunch bag and wait a few days. Keeping the stems intact, crush the leaves, leaving as much stem as possible. Store in a mason jar with a tight seal.

Cheesy Spaghetti Pie with Mushrooms, Onions, Peppers and Sausage

My Mom used to make Spaghetti Pie and I always loved it. I recently stumbled across this recipe, loaded with mushrooms, peppers, onions, Italian sausage and tomatoes, all on a spaghetti “crust” and decided to give it a try. It was amazing and makes a lot – so it’s good for a larger group. For a couple or small family, I’d halve it.


Nonstick cooking spray
Kosher salt
4 oz dried spaghetti
1 Tbsp butter
1 large egg, beaten
1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated parmesan cheese
2 tsp olive oil
1 lb. Italian sausage, removed from casing, or lean ground beef (90 percent lean or higher)
4 cups sliced fresh button mushrooms
1 cup chopped yellow or white onion
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
1 Tbsp dried Onion Flakes
2 cloves garlic, minced or finely grated, or 1 ½ tsp garlic powder
One (8-ounce) can no-salt-added tomato sauce, or 1 can of diced tomatoes, drained
1 tsp dried oregano
1 cup cottage cheese, drained (could also use yoghurt cheese*)
1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese
Fresh basil leaves, for serving (optional)

Step 1
Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch pie plate with cooking spray.

Bring a medium pot of lightly salted water to a boil over high heat. Cook the spaghetti according to package directions until al dente, then drain. Return the spaghetti to the pot and stir in the butter until melted. Stir in the egg and parmesan cheese until combined.

Step 2
Meanwhile, in a 10-inch skillet over medium heat, heat the oil until it shimmers. Add the sausage or beef, mushrooms, onion, bell pepper and garlic and cook, stirring, until the meat is browned and the onion and mushrooms are tender, about 8 minutes. Stir in the tomato sauce and oregano and heat through, about 2 minutes.

Step 3
Transfer the spaghetti mixture to the prepared pie plate and press it into the bottom and up the sides of the plate, forming a crust. Spread the cottage cheese over the pasta mixture and top with the meat mixture, followed by the mozzarella.

*Yoghurt Cheese is just plain whole fat yoghurt with a bit of salt, that’s strained in the refrigerator overnight in a muslin cloth or coffee filter, letting the whey run off into a bowl. It’s a bit like cream cheese but tangier.

Pie Crust Recipes: Traditional Pastry and Graham Cracker Crust

I don’t often make pie crusts from scratch, but when I do, I have the best luck with this recipe.

Traditional Pie Crust:

1 3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
3-4 Tbsp cold water

With a fork, stir together flour and salt in a medium bowl. Pour in vegetable oil and mix gently until the mix is quite crumbly.

Dribble in 3 Tbsp of cold water and gently start mixing it in. The dough will start to stick together and start to form large lumps. If it isn’t, add the rest of the water.

Lay out a section of waxed paper that is twice as wide as it is tall and fold it in half. Unfold it and dump the pie dough onto the bottom layer. Form a flattish 6″ circle. You don’t want to beat it up – just pull all the loosish bits together. Fold the top over and begin to roll it out in a rough circle.

Keep your pie pan handy, and keep rolling until your circle is roughly 1/2″ – 1″ bigger than the pie pan. Remove the top layer of wax paper and “roll” the crust around the rolling pin. Unroll the crust over the pie pan, gently tugging and pushing down so the crust is well-seated in the pan.

Fold the edges up and under themselves, cutting off any extra-long bits and adding them anywhere your crust isn’t quite long enough. Then you can either use a fork to create a ridged edge, or you can crimp the edge with your hand. It’s easier to see than read – here is a video showing how to  crimp a pie crust.

Prick with a fork all over the bottom and bake at 425 for 12-15 minutes.  No chilling – and no baking beans or whatever.  Just pop it in the oven and bake it. You want the edges of the crust to just begin to darken. You’ll also smell a cooked flour aroma.

Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Add filling.  (If you’re using the crust for a filling that needs to bake, just fill it first and follow the baking times for baking a filled pie.)

Graham Cracker (or other cookie) Pie Crust:

1 1/2 cups crushed graham crackers or BelVita Honey and Nuts cookies (3 packs of 2 cookies each)
1/3 cup melted butter
3Tbsp of sugar (1 1/2 Tbsp if you are using Belvita Cookies.)

Mix in a bowl, then dump into a pie pan, gently spreading the crumbs with the back of a spoon, going up the sides of the pan as well.  (Doesn’t have to be perfect – partway up is fine.)   Bake for 10 minutes at 350, remove and let cool before filling.

Mushroom, Leek & Cheese Scrambled Eggs

Poked through the veggie drawer this morning, hungry for something “brunchy” yet healthy. Fortunately I had some really nice mushrooms and a leek, perfect for scrambled eggs. I made up a recipe on the fly and to my delight, it was surprisingly delicious. Thought I’d have enough for leftovers, but nope – ate the whole thing!


1 Tbsp olive oil
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 medium leek, halved and cut into 1″ pieces (be sure to wash really well)
1/4 cup diced onions
2 Tbsp diced peppers
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 kosher salt
few grinds of freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of dried basil leaves
½ tsp butter
2 eggs, beaten
1 slice sharp cheddar cheese (approximately) torn into smaller pieces

Heat olive oil on medium heat in a large frying pan and add mushroom, onions and peppers. Cook, stirring occasionally until the mushrooms have released their water and it has dried back up again. (7-8 minutes?) Add the butter, leeks and seasonings and saute for another 5 minutes.

Once leeks have softened up a bit, turn the heat way down. After a few minutes stir in the beaten eggs and start folding and gently stirring. Once eggs are mostly cooked, add cheese and continue folding and stirring until cheese is mostly melted. Check seasoning and serve immediately.

Mandarin, Feta, Pomegranate and Candied Pecan Salad

This recipe is based on Holiday Salad from It is such a colorful, beautiful salad that doing it on a platter (the way my dear friend Donna does it) is worth it. I made this for Thanksgiving and it was so good! In the mad rush of getting ready for Thanksgiving, I totally forgot to photograph it, but will so do soon.

6 ounces (3-4 cups) mixed salad greens
6 ounces (3-4 cups) chopped romaine
2 11oz cans mandarin oranges, drained and oranges patted dry
½ cup crumbled Feta cheese
1 cup pomegranate arils or ½ cup Craisins
½ cup candied maple pecans or walnuts (see note)

¼ cup cider vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
¼ tsp salt


Dressing: Add ingredients for dressing in a jar with a lid and shake very well until the dressing is nice and creamy.

Toss salad greens in a large bowl. Add most of the mandarin oranges and toss with ½ the dressing.

Lay greens on a large platter, and place the rest of the mandarins, feta cheese, pomegranate arils and pecans on top.

Serve extra dressing in a small pitcher.

To make candied maple pecans: in a small nonstick skillet, add about 1 Tbsp of maple syrup, 1 Tbsp water, a pinch of cinnamon and a pinch of cayenne pepper. Heat in skillet until it’s nice and bubbly. Toss in pecan halves and swirl until they’re lightly coated. Pour out onto a silpat mat or parchment paper. Let cool and break up. The pecans should be lightly sweetened, not gobbed up with sugar.