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Asian Inspired Salad


I like some of the packaged salads for convenience- you rip open the bag, dump into a bowl, pour on the dressing and in two minutes lunch is ready. However, the variety of ingredients is not great and it is kind of expensive to pay that much for what in many cases is just chopped cabbage. So, I’ve switched to making our own and plan to pre-prep most of the ingredients in the future so I can just pick and choose. I’ve also taken to making almost all of our dressings. I put the ingredients in a jar with a lid and shake at least 100 times. Shaking that much and using enough oil helps it to emulsify and really blend.  It thickens a bit and I wind up using less. OK, here’s the winter salad mix:


  • 1/4 medium head of cabbage, cleaned, cored and coarsely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 5 romaine leaves, thinly sliced
  • 2 large radishes, sliced
  • 2 small carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 hot pepper, seeded and sliced
  • 2 pepperoncini peppers sliced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 4 green onions, sliced
  • 1/4-1/3 cup roasted peanuts or almonds

Dressing Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup sesame oil
  • 1/3 cup safflower oil
  • 1/4 cup almond oil
  • 1 T. soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1-2 T. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 T. rice vinegar
  • 2 T. chopped ginger root

Mix all the salad ingredients together in a large bowl. Serve into serving bowls. Mix dressing ingredients in a jar with a lid and shake vigorously at least one hundred times so that the ingredients blend and thicken. Use to taste on the salad. If you don’t have everything, sub other ingredients. Snowpeas are a delicious addition. Enjoy!



On the Wonders of Fresh Pasta

I am generally a rather frugal person (some might have other, not-so-friendly descriptors for it), but if one has ever once be extremely strapped for money, it can be challenging to change that, once things are a bit easier. Anyway, I would either buy dried pasta from the box or make my own pasta, which is OK but I can’t say I really like to do that. When I am tired from doing other things all day,  I really don’t want to stand around waiting for water to boil or rolling out pasta and then cutting and drying it. Sorry, purists, nope. So, this week, twice, I succumbed to the temptation of using fresh noodles and oh my goodness, am I glad I did.  Both days I knew I was on a timetable and had limited time to prepare dinner. Both nights I was making Asian noodle dishes and thought these two recipes would be good with fresh pasta as opposed to taking another 40 minutes to hike over to the Asian market to get the real thing.

Wow….what a joy! and the time it saved me was remarkable. The fresh noodles needed to cook only two minutes, which meant that both dishes came together in record time. I do recommend you head over to New York Times Cooking and try both of these dishes.  I made Spicy Sichuan Noodles by FLORENCE FABRICANT and Longevity Noodles With Chicken, Ginger and Mushrooms by JULIA MOSKIN. Absolutely fabulous! I could have eaten the entire pot of Longevity Noodles and it probably would not then have enhanced my longevity. Both of the recipes are delicious and quick. Of course, those of you who know me know that I am not great at following directions exactly, so I didn’t in these either. I added significant amount of chopped garlic to the longevity noodles and probably more soy sauce and sesame oil.

I just cannot wait to try these fresh noodles with marinara sauce or with olive oil, garlic, butter and parmesan or asiago or to make a simple meat sauce. If I weren’t allergic to shellfish, these would be perfect with clam sauce, either white or red.

So easy, so quick, so tasty.  Using the fresh made a big difference in the quality of the finished dish.

Zucchini Fritters for Meatless Monday

I LOVE zucchini fritters, called “mucver”  in Turkish. They are just a delightful meal, side dish or tea snack. Delicious. Beautiful green zucchini, a few green onions, a little white or yellow onion, dill, eggs, feta cheese, pepper, a few spoonfuls of flour and you are good to go. The recipe I adapted from Ozlem’s Turkish Kitchen is here:

I changed a couple of things. While fresh dill would definitely be ideal, I used dried because I didn’t have fresh and didn’t feel like going to the store. I also used generous heaping tablespoons of flour. I think it is best to taste one fritter before adding salt. The feta may be sufficiently salty that you don’t need to add more. Finally, and this is really important, is that yes, you need to drain the grated zucchini. But after draining the zucchini, dump the drained squash onto a clean kitchen towel. Bring the ends of the towel together. Holding over the sink, twist the towel so that it wrings out more of the zucchini juice. It makes a big difference in how well the fritters hold together. I also think it makes them less greasy since the mixture holds together better, forms a crust and then you have a nice crisp exterior with creamy savory inside. As for all frying, use vegetable oil that you get hot enough so that the fritters cook properly. If the oil is hot enough, but not too hot, you will actually use less oil than if the temperature is too low. And, take my advice here. I tend to multi-task when I cook. Do NOT multitask when you fry. Just stop the other jobs and focus on frying. It will not take much longer and you will have much better results.


One of the best and easiest chicken dishes ever!!!!

I wish I had encountered this recipe years ago. It would have saved me and my family from some boring, blah, tedious (you get the picture) chicken dinners. OMG this is so good. Thank you, thank you, thank you Sam Sifton!!! And the NY Times! Head over there or just click this link for the details:

Oven-Roasted Chicken Shawarma Recipe – NYT Cooking

I want to share that I made a couple of changes, based on what I had on hand. I used chicken breasts. As one of the commenters recommended, I reduced the roasting time to about 30-35 minutes, removed it from the oven, and let it rest.  After about 10 minutes I sliced the chicken, drizzled a little oil over the top and then broiled it for 2-3 minutes. I didn’t want to fry the meat although I am sure that is tasty. I had guests and wanted to keep the process a little simpler, plus I would use less oil that way. One of our guests was an internationally known cholesterol research scientist, so I try to be on reasonably good behavior. ! Anyway, this is a delicious recipe and very very easy. Make sure you marinate the meat for a few hours. The leftovers are also awesome, so make plenty and you will be set for a few days.

Time Restricted Eating, Part 2

It has been now almost a year since we began time restricted eating and with the exception of the holidays and a couple of vacations, we have been faithful to this regime. What is very, very interesting is that in January we took a trip to Florida to visit some friends. We try to relax and go with the flow on vacations and we did that there. It was definitely an eating frenzy, morning, noon, and night. What I noticed, as much as we had fun and loved being together with our friends, and loved the food, etc., was that we actually felt better on time restricted eating. For us, the eating regime includes not just time restricted eating but we are trying to eat lots of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and quality protein. We try to avoid too much processed food…..clean eating as much as possible. We are very social and that means we aren’t always able to adhere as closely as we may want, but that’s our plan. I was amazed at how much better I feel on this type of eating. It has not impacted my exercise routine at all. Both my husband and I like to hike and try to do so at least a couple of times a week, in addition to other exercise. You are what you eat is a very profound statement. I would be remiss if I didn’t share with you how much better I feel on intermittent or time-restricted eating.

Time Restricted Eating

You might not expect to see this kind of post on a food blog, however, since many of us who are interested in food, have been, on occasion, a bit too interested in food, we wind up spending quite a bit of time and angst trying to get back to our svelte selves again. Well, I’m not there yet, but I am making progress, and this is the only thing I’ve done that has yielded results. Slow, but steady results.

Now, I am not a weight control professional nor am a doctor or nurse or anything like that. I am not giving advice, but I am sharing my experience in the hopes that it may help others.  That having been said, this is what I did.

In March, I began researching fasting and discovered quite a few articles about intermittent fasting. We experimented with some of them, specifically the 16/8 plan and the 5/2 plan. It was a very stressful spring and summer with a serious illness and then a death in the family and it wasn’t always possible to adhere to either plan. Back in July we recommitted to the 16/8 plan, as that is easiest for us and fits our lifestyle better. The 5/2 plan means that one eats normally five days and then fasts, eating only 500 calories or so on the two fasting days. The 16/8 plan requires one to eat within an eight hour time period and fast the remaining sixteen hours. For us, we get up and have black coffee and water and nothing else until 1 PM when we have lunch. We eat only from about 1 PM to 9 PM. Purists would encourage the fasting period to be essentially from mid-afternoon or late afternoon until breakfast, but we have a really active social life and that wouldn’t fit our lives. For lunch we have salads, healthy ones and I make sure to add some nuts, fish, chicken or garbanzos. For dinner we try to have something reasonable, and again, if at home, I make sure that we have plenty of steamed, roasted, or raw vegetables.

Results have been encouraging. I have lost 13-14 pounds. I do exercise four or five times a week. I ride my bike approximately 10 miles outdoors, row on my indoor rowing machine about 3 miles, swim 1/2 mile worth of laps, and do strength exercises. So, I am getting decent workouts. Of course, I have been exercising like that for many years, so it is definitely not the exercise that has prompted the weight loss. We try to eat healthy food, but we have not eliminated any particular food category from our diets. I can now get in clothing I haven’t been able to wear for years. We allow ourselves to have one cheat day a week, usually on Sundays. The last cheat day I realized that I had eaten too much food that day and I just didn’t feel that well. I have felt great, for the most part, although I did have a major arthritis flare-up but was still able to maintain this.

For me, one of the biggest advantages to this is that I don’t feel deprived. At all. I think the fact that I go without food for 16 hours has made me feel truly hungry at times and has contributed to my stomach getting smaller. There are a number of articles out that indicate there may be some health advantages to this type of eating plan, since the body gets a break from constantly eating and digesting. There is quite a bit of research, so you can look that up if interested.

Eating like this lets me try different foods and not feel limited. Many times I have tried to lose weight by following other approaches. I have done the food diary, have counted calories, etc., and while it may help many people, it did not help me. We will see if I can lose another 6 or 7 pounds by the end of the year.

Not Just Meatless Monday Quesadillas

These are so good, you are going to want to make them regardless of whether it is Meatless Monday or not. They are very quick to put together, nutritious, and filling. Here’s how:

  • 4 large flour tortillas
  • 1 can vegetarian refried beans (or see Bean Filling below)
  • 2 cups corn (frozen, canned, or fresh)
  • 2 small avocados
  • 1 clove garlic, pressed
  • juice of half a lemon
  • salt to taste.
  • 1 1/3 cups shredded cheese (American, Mexican)
  • 1 cup tomato salsa
  • butter for greasing skillet

Heat a skillet or cast iron griddle to medium. Meanwhile, warm the tortillas in the microwave for a few seconds to make them more pliable. Heat the corn and the refried beans (or bean filling) for a minute or two in the microwave. Peel and seed the avocados in a small to medium sized bowl. Add in the lemon juice, garlic, and salt to taste. Mash with a fork until it is kind of a chunky guacamole. Assemble the quesadillas. Lay the tortillas on the counter in a row. Spread a generous spoonful or two of the bean mixture on each tortilla. I like to cover about half the tortilla. Next, spread about 1/4 of the guacamole. Then, sprinkle 1/4 of the corn, and 1/3 cup of cheese on each tortilla. Lastly sprinkle the top with the salsa. Carefully fold in half. Quickly grease the griddle or skillet. Lay the quesadillas on the griddle and watch carefully so they don’t burn. Turn over and move to a serving plate. Repeat until all are cooked. Enjoy!