Original White Lasagna 

Original White Lasagna

I created many original recipes when my kids were young. My younger daughter disliked tomato sauce, so I made this gorgeous baked pasta dish with fresh whipping cream. Below is my recipe. 

White Lasagna

Ingredients:

1 package dried no boil Lasagna 

15 oz.  whole milk ricotta cheese 

2 cage free eggs

1 pint organic heavy whipping cream

8 oz. mozzarella balls

1 teaspoon fresh lemon zest

Fresh basil leaves

Fresh grated Parmesan 

Salt and pepper 

Steps:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Whip eggs with ricotta by hand or with mixer.
  • Layer ingredients starting with cream on the bottom and ending with layer of cheese on top.
  • Cook until brown on top.
  • Allow to cool before cutting.
  • Sprinkle with Parmigiana cheese.

Sydney’s White Lasagna

Love and blessings to all.

Chicken Soup

Quick Chicken Noodle Soup

Because of the healing properties in chicken soup, I always make a version of one of many recipes when someone is ill.

I even made it for my dog Polly. She cut her paw open on a piece of glass walking through the creek with the kids when she was a puppy, and it refused to heal and became infected. She then had an adverse reaction to the anitibotics, so taking matters into my own hands, I fed her homemade chicken and brown rice soup and vanilla Greek yogurt.

Sometimes, I make my own noodles and you can do this with a simple pasta recipe, a rolling pin and a knife. This was fun for the kids when they were small, as making and handling dough is always high entertainment for children. Then, you simply cook the fresh pasta in the broth and vegetables. Or, I use orzo, or any kind of rice.

For myself, I like rice, tarragon, and lemon when I’m feeling under the weather. If I’m just hungry, I like to add bourbon and cream (see my recipe for Chicken, Whiskey and Wild Rice Soup here). 

My daughter wanted egg noodles and just carrots, so that’s what I made. I usually make my own broth, and this is obviously better, but time was limited, so I used this quick recipe instead.

It’s no secret that you can now buy excellent organic broth and pre-roasted organic chicken in most grocery stores, and although not made with fresh herbs from my own garden, they are not as bad as they once were.

Quick Chicken Noodle Soup

Ingredients:

2 cups shredded cooked organic chicken from Whole Foods

32 oz. organic chicken broth

1 cup diced carrots

1 package egg noodles

Sprig of thyme

1 teaspoon lemon zest

Salt and white pepper to taste

Steps:

  • Add diced carrots and broth and bring to a rolling boil to cook carrots.
  • Reduce heat, add noodles, and cook per package directions.
  • Remove from heat, add thyme, lemon zest and season to taste.

Love and blessings to all.

Delayed Reaction 

Yesterday was my late husband’s birthday, I met up with my college friends at the Lafayette Art and Wine Festival, we laughed in the way only old friends can, over nothing, like we were nineteen again. After, I came home and let Siena have friends over since she’s on crutches and I want her close. I made dinner, and watched a movie.

This morning, I woke up feeling a little depressed, so I went to church, then grocery shopping. I had that same lonely feeling I often had as a kid, but rarely feel now. 

I wondered around the grocery store like a ghost, and came home with ingredients for ten different dinners. Comfort food. Right now, I’m making chicken and wild rice soup, with fresh cream, bourbon and thyme from my garden.  I will move onto linguine and prawns in a lemon butter sauce next. After, I’m toasting rosemary focaccia with olive oil and fontina cheese.

Happy Sunday.

Love and blessings to all.

My Charmed Childhood & Chinese Chicken Salad

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The Sideboard Kitchen, Danville, California

If you read my book, Real Food (Amazon), there are many references to my charmed childhood growing up on a farm in the Willamette Valley, in Oregon, and as with many people, the older I get, the more I appreciate my roots and my life there.

My mother was a complete and total “foodie” twenty years before the term was coined. She was the epitome of fresh, organic and sustainable.  All of our food came from our land.  I had my first Twinkie in fifth grade.

My mother grew up in St. Johns, Newfoundland, Canada (below Iceland).  It’s tundra, so very little grows there.   My father had grown up on a cash crop farm in Illinois, so they were from very different backgrounds and he was 14 years her senior.  They met when he was working with the Strategic Air Command (SAC) for the Department of Defense during the cold war.  This is how my sister and I got our names as we both have the SAC initials.  They were married when she was 23 and he was 37.  They moved to Washington, D.C. where he worked for the Pentagon, and then to Nurnberg, Germany where he worked undercover for the CIA (and where I was a born), then he went to Vietnam, after the war they bought our farm and restored the 100 year old farmhouse where we lived.

They raised  race horses and my father taught history at the local college and coached the high school football and basketball teams.  My mother wore black silk cigarette pants with jeweled velvet slippers and invited the locals over for cocktail hour.   It was not unlike the T.V. show Green Acres.

When she wasn’t socializing with the neighboring farmers, my mother gardened, cooked, canned, baked and made jam.  She had a massive three acre garden full of tomatoes, lettuces, watermelon, strawberries and everything inbetween.  The black angus and lamb that roamed our fields eventually landed in a giant freezer, the size of a coffin, in our kitchen.  My father made wine.  There were orchards of peaches, apples, cherries and pears, and walnut and hazelnut trees, raspberry bushes and a blanket of mint around our pond.  Wisteria and hydrangeas, lilacs and honeysuckle graced the parameters of the historic house we lived in.  Our backyard was so big the grass was cut with a tractor.  White sheets blew in the breeze on the clothes line.  It was all wonderful.

As I watch the food scene evolve it reminds me of skipping through my mother’s garden on the farm and waiting for dinner to be ready.  This usually included a large garden salad dressed with just oil and vinegar, a T-bone steak the size of a dinner plate, and little else.

If you are in the area stop by the Sideboard Kitchen in Danville, owned by a local couple, their food is fresh and organic and very reminiscent of life on the farm.  They will be opening a second location in Lafayette where Squirrels used to be.  If not, here is my favorite recipe for Chinese Chicken Salad by the master, Bobby Flay, of the Food Network.  I substitute half of the romaine for kale and add cilantro like Sideboard, as pictured above.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cooking for Teen Athletes – Gluten free Spaghetti and Meatballs

Although I’ve been very busy with my entrepreneurial ventures and teaching at Berkeley, I’m still required to cook for my athletic teenage daughters.  Cooking for athletes is different than cooking for a normal family as there are serious time constraints and, “food as fuel” is more of a practice than a concept, although I think it should be an extremely high priority for anyone feeding growing children, athletic or otherwise.

My daughter will often swim for an hour and a half.  She does this after school, so she has already had a full day and has eaten next to nothing.  She’s also prone to anemia, so I am always trying to pack her meals with nutrients, and they need to be iron dense.  My other daughter plays soccer and has practices in the evening, so between soccer and swimming there is a tiny slice of time for dinner, and it’s around 5 p.m.

As many mothers know, teenage girls don’t eat much at lunch, which makes them very hungry when they get home from school.  This is when the bad snacking is often done.  I’ve tried many strategies over the years, but have recently decided to serve a quick dinner at this time when possible.  I know how lucky I am to be able to have the flexibility to cook early in the day, but if you don’t, try making a double batch of this to freeze in single serving glass containers, or to serve the next day.

When the kids were little, and I was for the most part a stay-at-home mom, I could spend two hours cooking dinner, but that is no longer possible.  Someday, I hope to have time to make homemade ravioli again, but for now this will have to do, and it checks the boxes of the top criteria for me.  Fast, easy, hot and nutritious. Plus, they love it, which might be the most important criteria.

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Spaghetti and Meatballs

Ingredients:

1 package gluten free spaghetti cooked

1 jar of marina sauce or make your own

1 package of meatballs from Whole Foods Market or make your own

Parmesan cheese (I like these large shavings)

Instructions:

Begin cooking gluten free pasta as per package instructions.  Then, in a large sauce pan heat the meatballs and sauce until they come to a slight boil, reduce heat and let simmer while the pasta is cooking.  Once pasta is done, add to the pan and gently toss while hot.  Reheats and freezes well.

 

 

 

 

 

Comfort Food

Pasta, Prosciutto and Peas

I’ve saved the best for last.  This is one of my most cherished recipes, and I make it over and over again for my kids and friends.  I had this for the first time at Tre Vigne in St. Helena when I was 24 years old and on my first trip to the Napa Valley.

Michael Chiarello, now a very famous chef, vintner, TV host and sustainable farmer with his own restaurant, Bottega in Yountville, was the chef.  I still love this restaurant and had lunch there on my birthday this year (December, 2015).

Back then this entrée cost only $8, and we had lunch on the beautiful Tra Vigne patio.  I was with my sister, Sandra Sheehan and my Auntie Deborah. It was a hot summer day and there is nowhere on earth more pleasant than the Napa Valley in the heart of the wine country in the summer. What bliss. I returned many times and I always ordered this dish until it was taken off the menu a few years ago, but I highly recommend the Maltagliati Verde (herb infused pasta with slow cooked lamb) which we had on my last visit.

After the kids were born, I couldn’t make it to Tra Vigne as often, so I taught myself how to make Michael’s recipe at home, and my kids love it too. It’s perfect in a pinch when you find yourself with 12 unexpected and very hungry kids for dinner (double the recipe below), add a salad and some crunchy bread.

As for Michael Chiarello, he can still be found at the stove and was gracious enough to join us (on the patio of course) one afternoon at his restaurant Bottega for lunch.  He will forever remain one of my favorite chefs and inspirations.

Thank you Michael Chiarello!

Ingredients

▪ 1 lb of pasta

▪ 2 tablespoons of olive oil

▪ ½ lb chopped prosciutto, pancetta or bacon (shown)

▪ 2 cloves of garlic, chopped

▪ 1 cup of peas, fresh or frozen

▪ ½ stick of unsalted butter

▪ ½ cup of heavy whipping cream

▪ Parmesan cheese, as needed

Preparation

Boil the pasta, as per the package directions, and then begin making the sauce.

Heat a large sauce pan or dutch oven to medium heat.  Once hot, add the olive oil, then the chopped prosciutto and garlic. Brown lightly.  When the pasta is done, drain and add it to the ham and garlic mixture.  Then, add the butter and cream and reduce heat to low. Stir gently until the ingredients are well combined.  Add the cream, fresh grated parmesan cheese, stir well and reduce for 5 minutes.  Serve immediately in a warm bowls with freshly grated Parmesan.

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Kid Friendly Chicken Pad Thai – Gluten Free and Packed with Nutrients

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I’ve made this 12 times over the last six months and both of my daughters still adore it.  I pack it with whatever vegetables are in season, so what’s not to love?

My 16 year old especially asks for this every time I cook.  As I’ve written before, my daughters both love Asian food, and I am much more of an Italian food flavor person.  However, the virtues of this dish are endless.  It is very healthy, low fat, gluten free (if you use gluten free soy sauce), packed with veggies, easy to make, can be eaten hot or cold and reheats beautifully.  This is an all around winner, but you have been warned, if you make it once you will get to make over and over again.

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Ingredients for the Sauce:

2 Teaspoons sesame oil

4 Tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce – stock

3 Tablespoons lime juice or 2 limes squeezed in pan

3 Tablespoons tangerine juice or 2 tangerines squeezed in pan

2 Tablespoons chopped or grated fresh ginger

3 Tablespoons brown sugar

Pad Thai

Ingredients for the Pad Thai:

8 oz. Pad Thai noodles

½ lb. thin-sliced boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-size pieces

½ Tablespoon sesame oil

2 medium carrots purchased grated

1 red pepper chopped

1 head broccoli chopped into bite size pieces

1 zucchini diced Salted/roasted peanuts (optional)

2 1/3 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped

Preparation:

1. In a glass bowl, whisk together sauce ingredients and set aside.

2. You can cook the rice noodles by submerging them in a bowl of warm water until they are tender or let them sit while you do the following steps.

3. Heat a large wok and add sesame oil. When oil is hot add the chicken and ginger and cook until chicken is white.

4. Add vegetables and cook for 2-3 minutes so they are still crunchy. Remove the pan from heat and toss in the noodles and sauce. Toss well to combine. Garnish with chopped cilantro and peanuts and serve warm.

*I do not use egg in my Pad Thai because my children do not like it, but if you would like to add it then scramble one egg along with the chicken and ginger in step 4.

Healthy Roasted Vegetable Enchiladas for Teen Athletes

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Roasted Vegetable Enchiladas

Most teen athletes make the mistake of focusing on calories when it is nutrient dense foods that should be the focus.  Foods packed with vitamins and minerals are needed for a body that is growing and competing simultaneously.

My older daughter doesn’t look that easy to kill, in fact a boy she goes to school with said she looks exactly how he imagines Joan of Arc to have looked.  She is tall and powerfully built and possesses a warrior mentality.   But like most kids she is actually very fragile.  Last year she was playing club volleyball and swimming, so she was clocking 2 plus hours of intense physical activity per day, and an extra 4-5 hours on the week-ends as an outside hitter for Absolute in Marin County.

In February, I noticed that she was looking a little green.  Because I am her mother, I knew there was something not quite right with how she looked, so I took her to the doctor.   Naturally, as mother always knows best, she was diagnosed with severe anemia.   The doctor started her on medication and she left the next day for Colorado Cross Roads, which in the volleyball world is a pretty big deal and a place where I spend more time with my closest friends from California than I do in California.

All was well, until one of the players became ill with the Noro virus and the team slowly dropped like dominos.  My daughter – a hold out was able to get home and miss the cocophay of vomiting in the bathrooms on the Southwest Airlines flight from Denver to Oakland, but then succumbed to the illness and spent nine, yes “9” days in bed.

Because her immune system was compromised by the anemia her recovery was very slow.  Her pediatrician had to prescribe drugs for cancer patients to stop the vomiting.  So, needless to say, I watch this girl closely now.   I can tell if she is dehydrated or even if she has a head ache.  So, keeping my little warrior well fed is a number one priority.  And since she just wants to eat burgers and french fries it can be a challenge to get her to eat her vegetables, so I created this recipe for her.  Needless to say, she ate the entire pan and I couldn’t have cared less.

Roasted Vegetable Enchiladas for the Teen Athlete

Ingredients

1 red pepper, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3 medium zucchini cut into rounds
2 cups sliced mushrooms
2 Tbsp. olive oil
salt and black pepper
1 package corn tortillas
1 1/2 cups red enchilada sauce (I bought a jar made by a local company and it was excellent)
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups Mexican shredded cheese
Garnishes:  fresh cilantro, chopped avocado, pico de gallo, sour cream

Preparation:

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2.  Brush a baking sheet with olive oil and place sliced vegetables in a single layer and roast for 30 minutes or until they look lightly toasted.

Roasted Vegetables

3. Reduce heat to 350 degrees.

4.  Allow vegetables to cool so you can work with them.  Then heat your sauce in a shallow pan until warm.

5.  Add a small amount of sauce to the bottom of a large baking dish.

6. Place corn tortilla in the warm sauce and saturate both sides.  Remove and fill with vegetables, black beans and cheese.  Roll and place in pan.  Repeat.

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7. Once all of the tortillas are rolled, add the remaining sauce from the pan, sprinkle cheese and cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes.  Remove foil and bake for another 10 minutes or until sauce is bubbling and cheese is melted.

8.  Garnish as desired.

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Kids, Sports & the Perfect Breakfast Sandwich

Paris at 5
Age 5 – First All City Swim Meet, 2004
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Age 16 – Highschool District Meet, 2015

I love being up early and the earlier the better.  I  love kids and sports and especially the quiet mornings spent packing the car in the silence before the neighborhood comes alive.  I love the whispered, “let’s go,” and making sure not to wake up the rest of house.  There was a time when I thought there was nothing more fun than packing up my girl before dawn and heading off to the far corners of California for a swim meet, soccer or volleyball tournament.  There was no place too far flung that I wouldn’t drive for a competitive sporting event.  Clovis, Monterey, Sonoma, South Lake Tahoe, Lodi – you name it.  This is not to mention the four volleyball tournaments in Reno in 2014 – be careful what you wish for because if you keep winning you end up back in Reno.

Truly, there was nothing I enjoyed more and no place I would have rather been.  I adored each team with it’s unique personality, including the kids, the parents, and the coaches.  I made so many friends that I hardly noticed the endless hours poolside, on the court, the field, or in the parking lot sitting in camp chairs.   And I loved watching my kids.

In these pre-dawn hours my favorite thing was to stop and get a mocha and a breakfast sandwich on the way   With one or the other of my daughters, I would watch the sun come up heading down the 680 corridor or across one of the many Bay Area bridges that took us to so many different places we would never have gone otherwise.

Now, I have a 16 year old that can drive (a mixed blessing) and because she can drive herself to swimming and beach volleyball it doesn’t mean she can make herself breakfast.  As many of you know, teenage girls are not the best eaters.  In fact, they would prefer not to eat at all.   However, they can’t be strong in their sport if hungry and light headed.

This is the first summer where I find myself standing in the kitchen making my 16 year old breakfast before she heads out the door by herself for a very long day of swim practice, coaching and teaching swim lessons to six year olds, followed by a 2 hour sand volleyball work out.

It’s nice to have more time for my own life, but I will forever treasure the time I spent with my children through sports.  Thank goodness, I have the spare 14 year old soccer player for a few more years.

Obviously there are a few variations, but I will start with the basic instructions and you can suit your own taste.

BASIC EGG SANDWICH

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1) In a small bowl crack one organic free range egg, and start your toast (I use sprouted whole wheat).

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2) Cover with your choice of cheese and microwave for 1.5 minutes on high heat.  You can cover with plastic wrap, but I’m a risk taker and take my chances.

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3) Sprinkle with Sea Salt and add avocado and cut in half.

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4) Wrap in foil or serve warm

VARIATIONS:

On a toasted bagel with bacon:

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On a plain bagel with bacon and avocado:

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Asian Italian Fusion

 

 

 

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 Asian Pasta

Both of my daughters have loved Asian food since they were tiny, tiny, tiny.   We have gone to Susi where they had to kneel on their seats to eat their Bento Boxes.  They used chop sticks before forks.  Maybe it’s the cute box or the novelty of the chop sticks or even the food, but they are constantly begging for Japanese or Chinese.  I grew up on a farm where my mother served a steady diet of meat and potatoes with vegetables.  She made us steaks that covered our entire plate, but mostly I just ate PB&J.  I didn’t even like pizza, so this is all new to me (kids venturing out of the PB&J box and into spicy tuna rolls).

Later in life I developed a deep love for pasta, but not for Asian food.   So Asian Pasta is a compromise that we all love.  And believe me, I will do anything to get them to eat their veggies.  And in this dish they do it gladly.

I used ochecchi pasta because they love it so much.  It has a really yummy chewy texture and for a first Asian Pasta Recipe I knew it would at least be liked if not loved, but of course, they loved it.  It had all of their favorite ingredients, broccoli (the kid favorite in the vegetable family), sausage, brown sugar and light soy sauce.  I use the teriyaki with pineapple hand made sausages from Whole Foods.

This is a very filling recipe and good for hungry kids.  It can be served as an after school snack because it reheats amazingly well.

 

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Ingredients:

1 package of Orecchiette Pasta (Barilla)

2 teaspoons sesame oil (if you like spicy you can buy sesame oil with chili)

2 cloves of diced garlic

2 + cups washed & chopped fresh broccoli

2 Teriyaki and Pineapple house made sausages from Whole Foods

6 teaspoons soy sauce

1/4 cup brown sugar

Sesame seeds to garnish

 

Instructions:

Bring water to a boil and follow package directions to cook pasta.  Then drain pasta well and set aside.

Heat pan or wok on medium high until hot.  Add sesame oil and and garlic and gently brown (do not allow to burn).  Remove sausages from casings and brown with garlic and sesame oil.  Add broccoli  and cook until just tender, but not soft.

Stir in soy sauce and brown sugar.  Gently toss all ingredients until evenly coated.

 

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After school snack…