Bold and Flavorful Marinade!

Marinades can add a great flavor to your grilled meats, vegetables or even tofu. Recently, I shared with you my Steak Rub recipe. Today I’m sharing a marinade bursting with flavor that will make your taste buds zing! Gluten-free food does not have to be boring! Just make sure that your soy sauce, vinegar and spices are free from gluten, so that the marinade is safe for you and everyone to enjoy!

Bold and Flavorful Marinade


¼ cup of olive oil

1/8 cup water

3 Tablespoons of soy sauce

3 Tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce

3 Tablespoons of balsamic vinegar

zest and juice of one lime

3 to 4 Tablespoons of brown sugar (depending on your taste)

1 Tablespoon of fresh rosemary and/or thyme

1 clove of garlic minced


Mix all of the ingredients in a large Ziploc bag. Place steak, chicken, pork or tofu into marinade and let sit in the fridge for at least 2 hours up to overnight. Remove, dry off whatever you marinated and cook how you like. This is great for the grill!


You may be wondering what that strange green thing is holding up the ziploc bag? I got it as a present for Mother’s Day. It makes filling a ziploc bag for any reason, so much easier and folds away.

Are you grilling this weekend? What is your favorite tool for grill prep? What is your favorite item to grill? Let me know in the comments!

Here are some of my favorite grilling tools:

Here are some other recipes if you need some inspiration for your weekend bbq:

Haddock on the Grill

My favorite bbq sauce recipe

Tomatillo Salsa


I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites. This doesn’t cost you any extra, but if you like something I love and buy it, I get a small percentage and can continue blogging.

Beef Pot Roast

Winter will not quit here in the northeast! While the weather doesn’t yet call for actually making lemonade from lemons, take advantage of the cold and make warm, comforting food for you and your family. I have found it is definitely worth the effort to put the time in to prepare a meal in the morning before heading out the door, so you can come home to a completely finished meal that you just need to serve up.

This Beef Pot Roast recipe is an entire meal in your slow cooker. After preparing, there is no more work!

Beef Pot Roast


2 to 3 pound roast sirloin, or other favorite cut

1 teaspoon of salt

1/8 teaspoon of ground black pepper

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 pound of potatoes, diced

3 to 4 large carrots, peeled and diced

8 ounces of sliced baby portabella mushrooms

3 shallots, diced

2 to 3 cloves of garlic, minced

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon of salt

1/8 teaspoon of ground black pepper

1 teaspoon dried thyme

2 Tablespoons of olive oil

1/8 cup of red wine vinegar

1/8 cup of balsamic vinegar

1/8 cup of soy sauce (I use La Choy gluten-free soy sauce)

1/8 cup Worcestershire

¾ cup of beef stock

2/3 cup of water

2 Tablespoons of brown sugar


Take roast out of the refrigerator and rub with 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/8 teaspoon of ground black pepper and 1 teaspoon of dried thyme. Let sit while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.  Turn slow cooker on low and add potatoes, carrots, mushrooms, shallots, garlic, 1 Tablespoon of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1/8 teaspoon of ground black pepper, 1 teaspoon of dried thyme. Toss to cover vegetables.

In a heavy bottomed pan, heat 2 Tablespoons of olive oil. Sear roast on all sides and place into the slow cooker on top of the vegetables.

In a medium bowl mix the remaining ingredients and then pour over the roast. Cover and cook on low for 8 to 10 hours.

Pot roast is the ultimate comfort food! Bonus, this is naturally gluten-free. Just make sure that the vinegar, soy sauce and herbs you use are gluten-free. I like to use Badia or McCormick dried spices. Badia is certified gluten-free and McCormick will mark on their bottles if there is any gluten present.

Here are some more slow cooker ideas from previous posts. What is your favorite slow cooker recipe?

Greek Meatballs

Anytime of year is good for meatballs, but especially around this festive time of year they are a great choice for your entertaining needs. Want to add a little different flavor for your holiday appetizer? Try Greek meatballs. Serve with a yogurt sauce, like this one from It would a bright start or accompaniment to the main meal for your guests.

Greek Meatballs for a Crowd (makes 55-60 meatballs)


About 5 pounds of ground beef and pork (I usually do about 2/3 beef and 1/3 pork)

1 pound of bacon, minced in the food processor

1/2 of a large sweet onion, grated

1 egg, beaten

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 teaspoon of salt

1/2 teaspoon of pepper

1 Tablespoon of oregano

1/2 teaspoon dried mint

10 ounces of frozen spinach, thawed and drained

8 ounces of feta, crumbled


Place ground meat and bacon into a large bowl. In a small bowl mix onion, egg, garlic and spices. Pour mixture into the meat. Add the spinach and feta. Dig in and mix it all together. Make a small pattie and cook it through. Taste for seasoning then adjust and repeat if needed.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Roll meatballs and brown them in a heavy bottomed pan with olive oil. Transfer to cooling rack on top of baking sheet. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. Serve warm.

I know it seems like a lot of meat, but meatballs freeze really well and take some work. If I’m going to do that hard work, might as well make double so you get a couple of meals or appetizers out of it 🙂 If you try to halve the recipe, let me know how it comes out.

Last couple of days before the holidays hit us. Email me or comment with any questions!


Spoon Roast

I cannot say enough good things about a spoon roast. It makes your house smell amazing and it is seriously easy to cook.

Spoon Roast


2 1/2 to 3 pound spoon roast

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 1/2 teaspoons of salt

1/2 teaspoon of pepper


Preheat oven to 500 degrees.  For rare cook at 500 degrees for 5 minutes per pound (medium rare 6-7 minutes per pound, medium 8-9 minutes per pound, medium well 10-11 minutes per pound). Then turn the oven off. Do not open the oven. Set timer for 2 hours. Take out and slice to order!

I don’t make a gravy for this because it’s more work and I’d like to enjoy the meal with my family 🙂 I think a pesto or horseradish cream sauce would be great with it. You can make either sauce the day before.

Horseradish cream sauce


2 Tablespoons of sour cream

1 Tablespoon mascarpone

3 – 4 teaspoons of horseradish

1/2 teaspoon of onion powder

pinch of salt and pepper


Mix in a small bowl. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

I am serving this on Christmas day with twice baked potatoes, a cauliflower casserole and peas and make your own ice cream sundae’s for dessert! Keeping it simple. I can make the potatoes and casserole the day before and just heat it up after the the roast comes out and saute the peas quickly with some butter, salt, pepper and fresh thyme.

What are your favorite holiday meals? If you are making turkey, below find the link to brining your turkey. It is so good!

Cooking your Thanksgiving Turkey


Apple and Onion Pot Roast

Today I am sharing one of my favorite slow cooker recipes. I have been making this for over 10 years!

I have made it with both beef and pork roasts. Both great! It is based on a recipe from Fix-It and Forget it, Recipes for Entertaining by Phyllis Pellman Good and Dawn J. Ranck. Not much to change when making it gluten free other than just ensuring the soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce and spices are safe.

Apple and Onion Pot Roast


2 Tablespoons of olive oil

3 pound beef or pork roast

1 cup of beef or chicken broth

2 Tablespoons of balsamic vinegar

1 Tablespoon of brown sugar

1 Tablespoon soy sauce

1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

1 clove of garlic, minced

1 large apple, peeled and sliced

1 large onion, sliced

3 sprigs of fresh thyme (optional)

2 Tablespoons of cornstarch

2 Tablespoons of water

1 Tablespoon of butter


In a measuring cup mix together broth, vinegar, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce and garlic. Heat olive oil in a large skillet and brown roast on each side. Put roast into slow cooker. Pour broth mixture into the pan and scrape all the brown bits off the bottom. Add apple and onion to pan and stir for a couple of minutes then pour over the roast in the slow cooker. Add thyme sprigs, if using, and cook on low for 5-7 hours. Remove the roast and onions. Let sit for about 15 minutes. Strain the cooking liquid into a pan. Mix the water and cornstarch and then pour into the cooking liquid. Heat and whisk the gravy until thickened. Take off the heat and whisk in butter. Serve with mashed potatoes or polenta and a side of green beans or salad.

This is comfort food at its best!

There are so many great Fix-It and Forget-It cookbooks to help you expand your slow cooker repertoire. I also love Stephanie O’Dea’s cookbooks and food blog,  Every recipe I have made from her site has been delicious and they are gluten free!

Here are some of my past slow cooker recipes:

BBQ pulled pork in the slow cooker

Crowd Pleasing Chili

Meatballs, Plain and Simple

These meatballs are a blank canvas. Flavorful on their own but can easily be served with marinara or to make swedish meatballs or even the popular bbq sauce and grape jelly meatball appetizer. They are perfect to bring to a potluck, to bring to family or friends as an act of kindness or just to enjoy at home.

Meatballs  (bulk recipe – you can 1/2 this recipe)


about 3 pounds of pork (boneless sirloin) (or 3 lbs of ground pork)

about 3 pounds of beef (bottom round) (or 3 pounds of ground beef)

8 slices of bacon

2 eggs

1/4 cup gluten-free bread crumbs

1/2 cup of milk

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon oregano

1 Tablespoon shredded Parmesan


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix all the ingredients together. Grind the meat and bacon together if you are not using store bought ground meat. If you are using store bought ground meat, finely chop the bacon or put it in your food processor. Form each meatball and place onto cooling rack placed over baking sheet. Bake for about 25 minutes. Serve with your favorite sauce or freeze in batches to use another time.

You can brown these first for a deeper flavor, but they are just as delicious just baking them. Keep them warm in your crockpot with your favorite marinara. This works well for entertaining. You can cook some gluten-free pasta and toast up some gluten-free garlic bread or make zoodles (zucchini noodles) for a pretty (and healthy!) red and green Christmas themed spaghetti and meatballs.

My kids love to take the leftover meatballs for lunch! Add some yogurt and carrots with hummus and we have a school lunch or a meal my child with celiac disease can bring with him if we are visiting family or friends.

You will find a great new meatball recipe here every Thursday for the next month! Check out these past blogs too for ideas on what to bring to your next potluck or what to serve at your next holiday gathering.

Italian Stuffed Meatballs

Good Food that happens to be Gluten Free

Soups, Stromboli and Shredded beef

In an effort to continue moving forward, I am trying to continue my menu planning each week. Earlier this week I went to a lecture at the local library on menu planning. It was very informative. The librarian giving the talk is a home organizer and amateur cook on the side. Her home organizing company is called, tidylogic. She gave me some great ideas. The first, I had not thought of before. Start with organizing your recipes into one or 2 locations by type (and time, ingredients, etc as detailed as you have time for). This way when you sit down to plan your meals for the week, you can just write in recipes you want and then you have the recipes easily at your fingertips to find the ingredients to add to your shopping list. This way you also do not get stuck in the rut of make the same meals every week like I do sometimes!

There are many different programs out there either online, Iphone/Ipad apps, or through software you can purchase. Having tried a couple of them, I have realized that you just need to find one that works for you and can be customized. If it doesn’t work for you, then you are not going to use it for the long haul.

Doing this recipe organization (or starting to) has reminded me of recipes that I have had for a long time and have never made. My basic menu plan for each week is:

Breakfast – cereal and yogurt
Lunch – sandwiches and fruit
Dinner: leftovers
Snacks: chocolate zucchini bread, apple sauce, crackers with peanut butter, cheese stick

B: eggs and fruit
L: quesadillas and fruit
D: Pasta/Rice (this is where you would insert your favorite pasta recipe)
S: yogurt, fruit, whole wheat gold fish with craisins

B: toast and fruit
L: sandwiches and fruit
D: Tex-Mex night (this is where you would insert your favorite enchiladas, chili, quesadilla recipes)
S: wholewheat banana muffins, apple sauce, crackers with peanut butter, cheese stick

B: oatmeal with fruit
L: sandwiches and fruit or leftovers
D: Baked potatoes/sweet potatoes with soup (slow cooker day)
S: yogurt, fruit, whole wheat gold fish with craisins

B: cereal and yogurt
L: chicken nuggets/fish sticks with sweet potato fries or peas
D: Pizza
S: apple sauce, crackers with peanut butter, cheese stick

B: Eggs and fruit
L: leftovers/soup
D: Pasta/Rice
S: yogurt, fruit, whole wheat gold fish with craisins

B: wholewheat pancakes with fruit
L: leftovers
D: Roast (slow cooker day)
S: apple sauce, crackers with peanut butter, cheese stick

Using this plan, I plug in recipes based on what I have already on hand and what is on sale at the grocery store.  For example, shrimp is on sale one week so I will make my pasta or rice dish on Tuesday with shrimp.

Last week I made a corn chowder for soup night, Stromboli for pizza night and a shredded beef with sweet potatoes, onions and brown rice for Roast/Slow cooker night.

The corn chowder was the same recipe as I made lobster chowder before, just minus the lobster pieces 🙂

The Stromboli was inspired by an episode of the Chew last week when Michael Symon made a pizza roll. I used Trader Joe’s garlic and herb dough with jarred tomato sauce, shredded mozzarella and turkey pepperoni. Tim, Paul and I liked it, but Neil did not (he’s not eating much of anything these days!) and Karina told me that next week we have to make a flat pizza because she doesn’t like the roll 🙂 This picture is not of the finished product. After I cut into it I saw the dough was still raw inside so I had to put it back in the oven. It definitely takes longer to cook this way.

For the shredded beef with sweet potatoes, onions and brown rice I put a London Broil steak frozen in the slow cooker with a can of healthy choice cream of chicken soup, couple of cups of water, Worcestershire sauce, a little vinegar and Trader Joe’s Everyday Seasoning. I diced the sweet potatoes and onions  and sauteed until mostly cooked then added a little water and closed the lid to let the steam finish cooking the sweet potatoes on low. I seasoned them with salt, pepper and Trader Joe’s Everyday Seasoning. I made the brown rice in the rice cooker with chicken stock. When the steak was read, I took it out to rest and then poured the liquid through a strainer and reduced it. To make a good gravy, I added a little brown sugar and a bay leaf along with the water and cornstarch for thickening.

I use the leftover sweet potatoes to add to grilled cheese sandwiches and quesadillas. Here is a good quesadilla recipe I found for black bean and sweet potato quesadillas. I used the leftover gravy to flavor the stock for lentil soup along with turkey bacon, onion and carrot. My husband also brought leftovers for lunch for a couple of days.

Today, Thursday is soup night, so I am making my old standby, Butternut Squash Soup. The only difference is I added a little ginger to it and when it came time to put the stock in I moved everything to a slow cooker to cook all afternoon and stay safe and warm while I go pick up Karina at school.

Easy Entertaining and Introducing….Ask Mamma!

In another attempt to improve my blog, I would like to make it more interactive. As much as I love cooking, I love talking with people about cooking and sharing ideas. So this is the launch of Ask Mamma! If you have a question about what to cook for dinner when you have x, y, z ingredients on hand or what to make for your next playdate/dinner party/birthday party, click on my email to the right and I’ll answer.

I will post questions and answers for everyone to read (keeping you anonymous, unless you want me to include your name and/or blog)! We all have our own ways of cooking, so someone’s boring every Wednesday night meal, is someone else’s new discovery!

This past week I got a question from a reader about what to make for her son’s 4th birthday party at their house (kids and adults present).

Mamma’s Answer

Making a dinner or lunch party for young kids…Here are three options:

(1) Mexican

Pasta salad – fun shapes for kids or the tri colored (I made one for the boys’ birthday party + added black beans, corn, tomatoes and feta and a mild honey lime vinaigrette). Cook 1 box of pasta, cool and then toss in a can of black beans (rinsed), about a cup and 1/2 of corn (use frozen, canned or fresh), about a cup and a 1/2 of diced tomatoes and about 3/4 cup of feta. To make the vinaigrette add equal parts (about a 1/3 of a cup) lime juice, white balsamic (or white wine vinegar) and olive oil. Whisk together. Then add 2-3 Tablespoons honey (or sugar if kids under 1 are going to be eating it), taste and add more sugar or honey if not sweet enough. If too sweet add a little more vinegar. Add salt and pepper to your taste, whisk all together and then toss with pasta.

Make your own taco bar – have peppers + onions at room temperature, either chicken or beef (I also did this for the boys’ party and made a beef roast in the slow cooker the day before and then just shredded it and reheated it for the day of the party), shredded cheese, salsa and tortillas. Let people build it themselves. To make the shredded beef or chicken, rub with salt, pepper, coriander, cumin and oregano. Sear meat in pan, then transfer to crock pot with 2-3 cups of beef or chicken stock flavored with coriander, cumin and oregano and keep on low until meat is cooked through (use a meat thermometer!). Once cooled, use a fork to shred meat.

Chips and salsa and guacamole for snacking.

Super simple. Make as much as you want or buy already made 🙂

(2) Greek

Meatloaf with greek seasoning (McCormicks make’s a great one) and feta (Rachel Ray has a great recipe that I wrote about here). I actually made this the other night but made meatballs instead of meatloaf. So good!

Tomato, cucumber and feta salad (onion optional). Dice a couple of vine ripe tomatoes, one cucumber and throw in a couple of handfuls of feta. Mix with a couple of splashes of red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. If you like raw onion, dice about 1/2 a medium onion and add in as well. I’m not a big raw onion fan, so I only diced 1/4 of a medium onion.

Yogurt sauce (make or buy). To make, add yogurt, minced cucumber, greek seasoning and a little lemon juice).

Serve with pita bread.
hummus, pita chips, carrots, cucumber, etc for snacking.

(3) Asian

Shrimp and pork lettuce wraps – Marinate cooked shrimp (I used frozen shrimp that had been thawed) + cooked pork or beef (grill or just cook with salt and pepper) + shredded carrots + shredded slaw (I buy pre-shredded) in a mixture of rice wine vinegar, white balsamic, sugar, lemon juice, ginger and olive oil. Marinate separately for at least an hour. (Can cook it all the day before and then just let it marinate starting in the morning of the party and serve room temp)

Serve with lettuce for lettuce wraps and I LOVE the Trader Joe’s Sweet Chili sauce for dipping. So good!

Coconut rice on the side with edamame if you like. Here is a good recipe I found on a blog I recently discovered, Weelicious.
Dried snap peas, shrimp chips, edamame for snacking.

All of these ideas can be made the day before, leaving you with less to do on the day of the party and may actually allow you to enjoy the party instead of being stuck in the kitchen!

Send me your questions!

Easy comfort food

Continuing with my “choose your own adventure” meals, today I’m writing about comfort food. Comfort food is different for each person. It is whatever food is soul satisfying to you. For some its fried food, a good steak, chicken pot pie or pizza. I am a meat and potatoes girl! With veggies on the side now for the kids 🙂

Whether you are cooking pork, beef or chicken, this recipe works well.



Worcestershire sauce
Vinegar (Balsamic, red wine vinegar, white wine vinegar – whatever you have on hand)
Soy sauce

Olive oil (when searing meat and making marinade)
Butter (optional, add to finish gravy)
Onion powder (optional, or chopped onion, caramelized onions, shallots – whatever you have)
Cornstarch/flour (optional, depending if you like a thicker sauce/gravy)
Chicken Stock/Beef stock (optional, if you want to mellow out the flavor a little. I keep bouillon cubes on hand, so I can make as many cups as a I need of stock).

I used these ingredients the other night to make an easy version of chicken pot pie.

First you start a basic rue, which I learned how to do a couple of years ago for making mac-n-cheese. Melt butter in large sauce pan and then whisk in an equal amount of flour and cook for 2-3 minutes. I think it did about a 1/3 of a cup of each here. Then add a couple of cups of chicken stock and keep adding if too thick. Continue whisking. Add in about a palm full of coriander, ½ teaspoon minced garlic, 2-3 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, 3 Tablespoons vinegar, 3 Tablespoons soy sauce. Taste and add salt and pepper to your liking.

Toss in 2 handfuls of frozen mixed vegetables, let cook for a few minutes. Then toss in leftover chicken that has been cubed or shredded (I used the Garlic chicken I made the night before). Take a can of biscuit dough (I used Pillsbury) and peel each biscuit in half and bake in the oven (I baked it directly on top of the sauce and it didn’t cook through, so this way will work much better!). After baked, place on top of chicken, vegetable and sauce mixture and serve! I kept a couple of biscuits aside and filled them with some extra chicken + frozen veggies that I thawed separately in the microwave, and then cooked them. These were great little pockets for the boys to pick up and eat. Much less messy than the pot pie would have been!

You can also use these ingredients to make a marinade. To marinade steak, pour equal parts Worcestershire sauce, vinegar (balsamic or red wine vinegar is best here), soy sauce and olive oil into a large Ziploc bag. Add a couple of tablespoons of coriander, a teaspoon of minced garlic and a ¼ teaspoon pepper. Close bag and shake (make sure its closed!) or massage with your hand. Insert steaks and make sure covered. Marinade at least 4 hours, but can do it over night.

I used this on Father’s day with petit sirloin (seared on the indoor grill and then baked at 400 degrees for 7 minutes for rare to medium rare). I served the steak with a sweet potato salad (bake equal amounts of sweet potatoes and white or yellow potatoes, cube, mix with miracle whip, mustard, salt and pepper) and roasted corn on the cob.

These ingredients are very versatile. You can use them as I have mentioned above to make a thick gravy for chick pot pie or a marinade for steak. Most often however, I use the dry spices on pork, beef or chicken and then use the wet ingredients to make a braising liquid. I usually prep dinner while the kids are taking their afternoon nap and braising takes 2-3 hours, so it is perfect timing for getting the food on the table for dinner. Sear the meat + then pour in braising liquid (1 part Worcestershire sauce, 1 part vinegar, 1 part soy sauce and 2 parts beef or chicken broth, a couple of tablespoons of coriander, a teaspoon of minced garlic and a ¼ teaspoon pepper and ¼ teaspoon salt.) Cover and put in low oven (around 275/300) for a couple of hours. When done (use a meat thermometer) take meat out to rest and add a couple of tablespoons of cornstarch to a mug and pour in some of the braising liquid and mix together, then add back to the saucepan and rest of braising liquid and bring to a boil. Taste and add more spices as you need. Finish off with a pat of butter and take off heat for the perfect gravy!

Post-Holiday pressures…

We all have pressure around the holidays with travel, entertaining and this year with all the snow days. After the holidays the pressure seemingly goes away, but now its keeping new year’s resolutions, getting organized and turning a new leaf. Cooking for your family should not be another source of stress, although I know for many it is. I hope through this blog to help make it less stressful by pointing people in the direction of easy recipes and providing tips from my (and my friends’) experiences.

I have a few new blog ideas “cooking” (pun intended) for this year: helpful substitutes (recipe calls for marsala wine and you don’t have it in the house or don’t want to use alcohol, so use…), bringing food with you while your traveling by plane, train or automobile, my go to cookbooks (not specifically for kids) for making weeknight meals and many more!

One of my New year’s resolutions is to stop impulse buying at the grocery store. I have been successful so far this year in not buying items for the sake of buying them because they’re on sale or I may need them for a recipe in the future. That usually leaves me with a pantry and fridge full of items that don’t necessarily go together and makes me spend more than I need. So, now I am trying to take 10 minutes away from Facebook and instead I pick 5 recipes for the week that I will aim to cook those meals. Then I make a list of ingredients I don’t have, buy them and stick to my list, which is hard!

Some of the things I cooked this week: lemon cod (another one of my resolutions is to eat more fish) with potatoes and spaghetti squash, beef stew, potato leek soup, polenta and sauteed lima beans with roast chicken.

Lemon cod, fingerling potatoes and spaghetti squash: Take about a pound of cod (or other white fish) and 1st coat with mixture of 2-3 tbs melted butter with juice of 1/2 a lemon and then coat with mixture of about 1/3 cup flour, salt and pepper to taste. Put the covered cod into a baking dish and into a 400 degree oven, after dousing it with the rest of the butter and lemon mixture, for about 10 minutes or until flakey.

I bought the bag of fingerling potatoes that you get at Trader Joes, where you just cut the corner and microwave for 4-5 minutes. While they are cooking in the microwave, I put a couple of tbsp of butter in a large glass bowl with some fresh herbs (rosemary, sage are what’s left in my garden), salt and pepper and then put the hot potatoes in the bowl, cover with aluminum foil and shake to cover potatoes.

The spaghetti squash, I cut in half, take out the seeds and put about an inch of water in pan. Place the squash rind side up and poke a few holes with a fork. Cook in a 425 degree oven for at least 45 min. When done, scoop out squash with a fork and mix with butter and fresh herbs.

Beef stew: Take about a pound of stew meat (good deal at Fred Meyer this weekend) and mix it with salt, pepper and ground coriander to taste. Dice one medium size onion (yellow, white, red, whatever you have on hand), peel, dice 2-3 carrots; dice one leek and a couple of handfuls of fingerling potatoes (probably about 1/2 lb of potatoes -diced) [you can ad lib for most veggies you have on hand. Use sweet potatoes instead of regular potatoes or add some frozen green beans]. In microwave safe bowl mix about 2 cups chicken stock (or beef or veggie stock, whather to you have on hand) with a few dashes of worchestershire sauce and a few dashes of balsamic vinegar. Microwave sauce for about 3-4 minutes until hot. Take a small bowl and mix 1-2 tbsp corn starch with 1/4 cup of the sauce. Pour back into sauce and mix. Place stew meat, veggies and sauce into slow cooker and cook on low for 5-6 hours. If sauce is not thick enough mix 1-2 tbsp cornstarch with 2-3 tbsp of softened butter (using a fork), until blended. After cornstarch and butter are blended, add mixture to stew and stir.

Leeky Potato Soup: 2-3 tbsp butter, 1tbsp olive oil, 3 leeks chopped, 1 shallot chopped (you can use a white onion as well), 1tbsp minced garlic (I buy the already minced garlic in jars from the grocery store, great time saver), 1/3 – 1/2 bottle white wine (or about a cup of white wine vinegar), palmful of coriander, 1 tsp lemon pepper, lemongrass (I buy the tubes from the grocery store and used one squeeze), salt to taste, about 6 medium potatoes (peeled and sliced thin or diced), 3 1/2 cups veggie stock (or chicken stock) and a bay leaf. Melt butter and olive oil in soup pot over medium high heat. Add leeks, shallot, coriander, lemongrass, salt and pepper and cook for about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for another minute or two. Add wine and reduce for about 5 min. Mix stock and bay leaf in microwave safe bowl and heat in microwave for 3 -4 min. Add potatoes to soup pot and cook (stirring ever 3 min or so) for 12 min. Add stock and bay leaf mixture to soup pot and cook for about 25 min, stirring occasionaly. When pototoes are cooked, use an immersion blender (or transfer to blender or food processor) and blend until smooth. Mix in more stock or spices to reach desired consistency and taste.

Roast chicken: melt 3 tbsp butter in microwave. Mix salt, pepper, coriander, lemon grass with butter. Rinse chicken, pat dry with papertowel. Insert one onion (cut into 5- 6 sections) and 2 tbsp chopped garlic into cavity of bird. Rub butter and herb mixture all over the chicken. Place into 400 degree oven covered with foil for about an hour (I had a 3.8 lb chicken) and cook uncovered for 30 min. Let rest under foil outside the oven for about 15 min before serving. Here is a link for safe handling/cooking of poultry.

Polenta: I buy the tubes (Safeway or Trader joes) and cut it into cubes cook it with butter, milk (keep adding until desired consistency, 1/3 cup or more). Keep stirring until smooth, then add shredded parmesan for flavor.

Sauteed lima beans: I usually keep a frozen bag of lima beans to make in the microwave for Karina (a great source of fiber!), so I used what was left and put in in a non stick pan with some butter, olive oil, fresh herbs (I had sage on hand) and salt and pepper. Sautee for a few min until cooked. Serve immediately.

Best wishes for stress free cooking for the new year!