Berbere Spice

Don’t let the long list of spices scare you off.  This spice mix is delicious, and worth making in a big batch, so you have enough for a few meals.  I had most of the ingredients called for on hand, but I had to substitute some of the fancy spices for the spices I (and probably you) normally have on hand.  So maybe my version isn’t quite as authentic, but it’s just as delicious.  The original recipe calls for simmering this spice in to lentils, onions, and carrots, but I find that any combination of vegetables, legumes, and greens works great.  Just sauté some onion and garlic, and cook the beans and vegetables in a little broth with 2 Tbsp of this spice mix.  (Pre-cook the beans unless you’re using lentils)  The curry that results would be delicious as a stand alone meal to be sopped up with flatbread, or served over rice.

1/2 tsp dried mustard
1/2 cup chili powder
1/4 cup smoked paprika
1 tbs salt
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp cloves
1/8 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp allspice


Cheesy Buffalo Oven Fries

We’ve made this recipe 4 times since we discovered it a few weeks ago.  I don’t really change much about this recipe, but I do omit some stuff.  I almost never have fresh herbs on hand.  If I buy some, they go bad before I have a chance to use them.  Life (and cooking) just isn’t predictable enough for fresh herbs in this house.  So, here’s my dumbed down version.

1 large potato per person

Franks Red Hot Sauce

olive oil (or whatever oil you like to cook with)

1 tsp garlic powder


cheddar cheese

blue cheese

Preheat oven to 450.  Slice the potatoes in to slices like a steak fry (I get about 8 thick, triangular slices out of each potato so that each fry has skin on the back of it.)  Place the potatoes in a pot of cold water and bring to a boil.  Once it starts to boil, set a timer for 5 minutes, and drain them immediately after your timer goes off.  Don’t overcook them!  They should still be very firm.  Toss the potatoes in a generous drizzle of olive oil, about a tsp of garlic salt, and the S&P.  Lay the potatoes out in one layer on a baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes, or until the potatoes start to brown just a little bit.  Flip them to the other side and continue to bake 10-15 minutes more, until they are all browned and crispy.  Remove the fries from the oven and crank it up to “broil.”  Pile the fries on a broiler safe dish and drizzle Franks sauce over the top of them, shred a bunch of cheddar cheese on top and sprinkle the whole thing with Blue Cheese crumbles.  Broil until the cheese is bubbly.  Devour and lick your fingers.

Easy Cream Cheese Alfredo

I’m not saying that this is healthy, but does it matter when it’s delicious and it takes 15 minutes to make?  (Don’t answer that.)  Here’s my go-to quick and creamy pasta dish.

1 block cream cheese, cubed

4 Tbsp butter

1/2 cup parmesan

1/2 cup milk (give or take)

S&P to taste

2 cloves garlic, diced finely or shredded

Melt the butter in a saucepan on medium heat, throw in the garlic, and give it a quick stir before putting in the cubes of cream cheese.  Whisk it until the cream cheese is entirely melted and the butter is incorporated.  Stir in parmesan cheese and enough milk to bring the sauce to the consistency that you like for your pasta.  Season it to taste with salt and pepper.  Add red pepper flakes (and maybe up the garlic cloves to 3) if you want it to be spicy.

Tomato Pie

Even though we have a citric acid allergy in the house, I attempt to grow tomatoes every year just so I can have a tomato sandwich, and a tomato pie.  I say “attempt” because every year my tomatoes are stolen by the darn squirrels.  But I was just gifted with several very ripe tomatoes, and I wasted no time in making this.  I had been dreaming of it for years, but had never had enough garden tomatoes to make it and for some reason I just never got around to buying some tomatoes and making it.  I’m weird.  I know.  Anyway, I made this tonight and my 4 year old son (who hates tomatoes) actually asked me to write it in a recipe book for him to have when he’s a Daddy.  So he can make it for his kids.  He liked it that much.  Next time I’m going to have to make two pies.  This tomato pie recipe is straight from the Simply Recipes site.  I’m including my go-to pie crust recipe and instructions on pre-cooking the pie crust.  This recipe is really simple once the pie crust is done.  

Tomato Pie

1 cup flour

1/2 tsp salt

6 1/2 Tbsp butter

1/2 onion, chopped (optional.  I leave it out.)

3 large tomatoes

1/4 cup sliced basil

2 cups cheese (I use cheddar.  Monterey Jack would also be great.)

3/4 cup mayo


1 tsp Franks Red Hot Sauce

Slice tomatoes and leave them to drain in a colander while you prepare the pie crust.  Preheat the oven to 450.  Chill your bowl, flour, and butter thoroughly.  Have a bowl of ice water ready.  Work quickly so the butter doesn’t melt.  You want nice little chunks of cold butter mixed in to the pie dough.  Mix the flour and the salt.  Cut the butter in to the flour until the pieces of butter are around pea sized or slightly smaller.  Drizzle 3 Tbsp of ice water over the surface of the flour and stir with a fork.  You can add a little more ice water if you need to until it can just barely hold together in a slightly crumbly ball.  But don’t add to much water!  You don’t want it to be doughy or smooth.  Once it’s just barely holding together, carefully roll it out in to a circle that is about 1/4 inch thick.  This may be tricky, as it will want to flake apart, but that’s good.  It means your pie will also be flaky.  Keep working quickly to keep your butter cold.  Once it’s rolled big enough, use your rolling pin as a tool to help you move the dough in to the pan: roll the dough around the rolling pin, and then unroll it over your pie pan.  Shape the edges how you prefer.  Prick it a few times with a fork, and bake for 10 minutes.  Now it’s ready for the filling.  Turn the heat down to 350.  While your pie crust is baking you can caramelize the onion if you prefer.  Squeeze any excess moisture out of the tomatoes.  Sprinkle the bottom of the pie with onions (either raw or caramelized) and layer with sliced tomatoes and finally chopped basil.  Mix the shredded cheese, mayo, S&P, and hot sauce.  Spread on top of the pie.  Bake at 350 for 25-45 min until the top is starting to brown. 




Tortellini Soup

Tortellini Soup:

1 bag of frozen cheese tortellini

1 16 oz bag of California blend frozen veggies 

1 46 oz can of tomato juice

4 veggie bullion cubes plus 2 cups water (or equivalent vegetable broth)

grated parmesan cheese

Combine all ingredients, except tortellini and bring to a boil for 10 minutes.  Add tortellini and simmer over medium heat for 10 more minutes.  Serve with grated parmesan cheese.

Vegetarian Chili

One of the recipes that I miss the most, now that we’re citric acid free, is Vegetarian Chili.  (The kids are excited to be done with it, though.)  This recipe is thickened by sprinkling in some corn grits at the end and letting them soak up the flavor and some of the liquid, which is a tip I learned from The Student’s Vegetarian Cookbook.  (My copy is out there somewhere, right?  Yet another book that wandered away, and never came home.)  This recipe is pretty much straight from that book, except that I never measure anything.  I just dump spices in by the palmful, tasting as I go.   You can also just add whatever veggies you feel like: carrot?  sure!  sweet potato? definitely!  

Vegetarian Chili

1/2 an onion, diced

3 cloves of garlic, diced fine or shredded

2 cans diced tomatoes

2 cans kidney beans (or whatever beans you have on hand)

1 cup frozen corn (optional)

1 small can of diced green chilies


chili powder


a few tablespoons of corn grits

Saute onion in olive oil, adding garlic once the onion is translucent.  Add the rest of the ingredients and let it simmer until it’s all heated through.  Or all day.  Add the grits about 15 minutes before you’re ready to serve it so they can soak up some of the liquid and thicken the chili.  This chili tends to thicken up a lot when it sits, so you may need to add extra liquid if you reheat the next day.  Serve with cheddar cheese, crackers, corn chips, sour cream… whatever you like.  

Vegetable Fried Rice

This is a dish that Matt and I disagree on.  I love it.  The kids and I find it comforting and delicious.  Matt will choke it down.  I make it more often for lunch when he’s not home, but there are some days that dinner needs to be quick, easy, and inexpensive.  This dish is all of those things!  I’ll often grill a couple of chicken tenders and dice them up in the rice, which is a great way to stretch the protein for me and 4 kids, but it’s almost as filling without the chicken.  

Vegetable Fried Rice:

3 cups of brown rice, cooked and cooled (day old is best)

1 Tbsp oil

1/2 onion, diced finely (optional)

2 cups frozen mixed veggies

2 eggs

soy sauce (or your preferred soy-free, wheat-free whatnot)

Heat oil in a sauté pan or wok.  Sauté onions until they’re nearly translucent.  Add the frozen mixed veggies and sauté them until they’re tender.  Scoot the veggies to the side of the pan so you can crack the eggs in the pan and scramble them.  Once the eggs are scrambled, put the rice over the veggies and eggs and mix it all up.  Drizzle with soy sauce and heat through.  Mix in chicken if you’re using it.  

Carrot Cake Baked Oatmeal with Stewed Apples

Sometimes you just need breakfast for dinner, but when I serve this, my kids think I’m giving them cake for dinner.  Tricky, tricky.  I realize that the words “stewed apples” do not sound appealing.  To me, it brings to mind middle school tray lunches with stewed tomatoes.  Yuck.  Do not be put off.  Stewed apples are really just like warm, cinnamon-y applesauce that is the perfect accompaniment for this baked oatmeal.  Feel free to switch it up and serve it with any other fruit or a nut butter spread on top instead.  I experiment with this recipe a lot, adding flax meal, subbing applesauce for oil, switching out the sweetener, or adding nut butter to the ingredients.  It has always turned out well, and seems to be fool proof.  

Carrot Cake Baked Oatmeal with Stewed Apples:

3 cups rolled oats

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 tsp cinnamon

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1 cup milk

2 eggs

1/2 cup butter, melted

2 tsp vanilla

3/4 cup dried cranberries or raisins (optional)

2 carrots, shredded (about a cup, unpacked)

For topping:

3 apples, diced.

1/2 tsp cinnamon

Mix all ingredients together and spread in a buttered 9X9 pan.  Bake at 350 for 40 minutes. Meanwhile, simmer the diced apples and cinnamon with a splash of water.  Leave the lid on so the apples cook down and don’t burn.  Stir occasionally.  Serve a slice of warm oatmeal with a scoop of apples over top.  


Potato Soup (a few ways)

Matt’s favorite soup is a creamy potato soup.  But I never feel like I’ve met the necessary nutrition requirements when I serve it, so I’ve started making this in to more of a vegetable chowder.  Sometimes I puree some corn (and leave some kernels whole) to make this a corn chowder.  Other times I dice up broccoli florets and add some shredded carrot.  You can add whatever you have on hand, and season it the way you like it.  This recipe is really just the base for whatever you want to do (or have on hand!)  There are no official measurements because you can’t really go wrong.  

Potato Soup:







Peel and cube potatoes and chop or shred your onion.  Saute the onion in the bottom of a big pot until it is translucent.  Add the cubed potatoes to the pot along with a cup of water.  (At this point you will add other vegetables, too, if you’re using them.) Put the lid on and simmer the potatoes until they are soft.  Use a potato masher to mash part of them so that there are still plenty of lumps left to add some texture to the soup.  Gradually stir in milk until you get the soupy consistency that you like.  Season with S&P to taste.  Remove from heat and stir in shredded cheese.  Top with bacon if you’re not vegetarian!

Brussels Hash and Eggs

This is one of those meals that Mommy, Daddy, and 1/2 of the kids really love.  The other half of the kids think we may just be resorting to cruel and unusual punishment when we put this on the table.  You’ll have to try it on your family to see what their opinions are.  These days when I make it, I cook a couple of eggs separate, so the picky eaters can have eggs and crusty bread and only be forced to suffer through a few token bites of brussels sprouts.  (But it’s nice when a recipe can be broken down and served separately to picky eaters so that everyone is happy, and everyone is still eating the same meal!  This mama does NOT cook two different meals.)  This recipe combines a basic Brussels Hash recipe that I saw on Pinterest with Alton Brown’s Grilled Brussels Sprouts, which have a really great flavor!  I make a similar recipe using kale, diced fresh tomato, and garlic as the bed for the eggs.  Matt and I love that one as well, but all 4 kids consider that recipe to be inedible, so I don’t make it nearly as often as I would like.

Brussels Hash and Eggs

1 lb brussels sprouts, trimmed and washed

1 Tbsp olive oil

2 cloves minced garlic

1 tsp dried mustard

1 tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

4-6 eggs, depending on the size of your sauté pan

Crusty Artisan Bread


Slice Brussels sprouts in to small strips.  Heat oil in a large pan on low/medium heat and sauté garlic until fragrant.  Add the rest of the spices, seasoning, and the brussels sprouts.  Stir so that the brussels sprouts are all evenly coated in the seasoning.  Let the brussels sprouts soften for a few minutes and give them a good stir, scraping the bottom of the pan.  Make little nests in the brussels sprouts for the eggs to rest in and crack one egg in to each one.  Pour just a little bit of water in the bottom of the pan to create some steam, and place a lid over the pan.  Cook until your eggs whites have cooked through.