Review – Whole Foods Cheddar-Jalapeño Salmon Burger with Lemon Garlic Aioli


Some quick and easy meals have been featured this week – mostly due to the fact that I have been working late and trying to get ahead of the curve before business traveling starts in another few weeks.  With the new year, comes new responsibilities, and I will need to stay out in front of those, so I don’t get bogged down.  That being said, I was wandering around whole foods without a plan and these looked pretty good.  Reasonably priced, and apparently made in store.  I served with sliced avocado and a quick garlic – lemon aioli, on a brioche roll.  Would have added lettuce and tomato if I had them available.  Would pair well with couscous or quinoa.  I think the biggest thing is to make sure you have oil in your pan, and use a good seasoned cast iron to prevent sticking.  Finish in oven, and then serve.  It was pretty good – 4/5 stars.  Very Healthy, easy to make, and a great go to weekday dinner.


  • Wild Salmon Jalapeno Cheddar Burgers from Whole Foods
  • about 1/8 cup Mayonnaise
  • juice of 1/2 Lemon
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • olive oil
  • green leaf lettuce
  • fresh tomato
  • avocado slices
  • Buns


Preheat oven to 400.  Heat oil in a cast iron pan over medium -low heat

Place patties in pan, and cook on one side for about 5-8  min, or until brown

Flip patty, cook for a few minutes, then place in oven and cook for about 8 minutes or until cooked through.

Meanwhile, toast your buns, and prepare the aioli by combining lemon juice,mayonnaise, and garlic.

Dress the buns, place the patty on the bun, add sliced avocado, lettuce, and tomato, and enjoy.  Serve with a pasta salad, quinoa, or sweet potato fries.

Nutrition Facts

Whole Foods – Wild Salmon Burger Jalapeño Cheddar

  1. Servings:  
    1 Patty
    1 container (2 patties ea.)
    1 container (2 Patty)
Calories 235 Sodium 330 mg
Total Fat 12 g Potassium 0 mg
Saturated 1 g Total Carbs 8 g
Polyunsaturated 3 g Dietary Fiber 0 g
Monounsaturated 5 g Sugars 0 g
Trans 0 g Protein 21 g
Cholesterol 60 mg
Vitamin A 2% Calcium 2%
Vitamin C 2% Iron 4%



Livia’s Ramen Noodle Hack – Monday Night Special

ramen HackJust when I was considering writing a review for Whole Food’s Cheddar—Jalapeño Salmon burgers, my daughter surprised me with this versatile Ramen Noodle Hack.  She took it upon herself to make her own turmeric-based broth, as, In her words, “broth packets in top ramen are filled with excess sugars, sodium and sneaky beef and stuff.”  Sneaky beef indeed.  She may have coined a great moniker for a new band or Steubenville (Ohio)  HS Football boosters. Time will tell. She has confided n me that she is on hiatus from red meat – a choice she made independently from my no meat January – and is making an effort to go pescetarian moving forward.  That will last until I smoke up some pork ribs, or make homemade buffalo wings.  Look for those yummies in future editions!


  • Firm Tofu (cut into steaks about as think as a deck of cards)
  • Turmeric
  • Black Pepper
  • Soy Sauce
  • Honey
  • Siracha Sauce

Optional Toppings:

  • Green Onions or Chives
  • Thinly sliced mushrooms
  • Spinach
  • Boiled egg
  • Sesame seeds
  • Bean Sprouts
  • Radishes
  • Various veggies


Prepare tofu by cutting into steaks, steam in pan 5 min one side, 3-4 min other side on medium / low heat.  Make a sauce by combining the other ingredients, and adjust seasoning to taste.  Once tofu is done steaming, coat in sauce and let sauce reduce down and caramelize onto the tofu steaks.

Cook Ramen noodles as per package instructions but do not use the packet (lots of MSG in there!) instead when noodles are done, add turmeric, pepper, sirachia, and soy sauce to taste.

Get creative. Use what you have in the house.  Mix it up, and let us know about your combinations. Budget Dining!

Recipe Testing – Smoked Salmon Pasta: Spinach Fettuccine with Mushrooms, Chives, and Lemon Zest, Black Pepper and Asiago- Chèvre Cream Sauce

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Today has been an unmitigated success in the kitchen.  I was craving something a little heartier than a veggie stir fry tonight, so I went around the corner and grabbed some smoked salmon and a lemon and put this together.   I had a dinner party last year with a goat cheese and chive crostini with lemon zest, so I wanted to explore those flavors a bit more.  In my research, a lot of recipes called for cream cheese, but I felt that would be too heavy and the goat cheese would be a nice, lighter substitute.  This turned out delicious – hearty, but tangy and zesty as well.  The mushrooms give a nice subtly earthy  note and add more substance to the dish, really rounding it out on the back end.  Upgrading to a spinach based noodle takes some of the guilt and lowers the glycemic index too! Woo Hoo!


  • Stock Pot
  • Strainer
  • Saucepan


  • ½ lb. hardwood smoked salmon (not lox) , bones & skin removed and rough chopped
  • About ¼ cup chopped chives
  • Zest of ½ lemon
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • 2 oz. fresh goat cheese
  • 4 oz. fresh grated asiago (parmesan or Romano will also work)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ pint heavy cream
  • About ¼ lb. chopped mushrooms
  • Spinach Fettuccini
  • Olive oil
  • Butter


Boil Water in stock pot and cook noodles, drain.

Meanwhile, heat butter mixed with a little oil over medium heat in saucepan.  Add mushrooms and lightly salt and pepper.  Add chives and garlic, and once these get going, add lemon juice and salmon. Break up salmon, add cream, goat cheese, lemon zest and reduce heat to low.  Simmer until goat cheese is incorporated, then add asiago.  Simmer and taste, adjust seasoning.

I like to serve this with a simple green salad with a French style-vinaigrette to cut through the cream, a chilled chardonnay like Matanzas Creek or a good Pouilly-Fuissé and crusty Bread.  Bon Appétit!


Recipe Testing – Beer Cheese and Smoked Cheddar Pimento Cheese Spread

pimento cheese spread

Today, I was after a relaxing afternoon at home so I could do some writing for the week (think more blog posts!), do some housecleaning, and just unwind.  I was going through the goody bag left from Christmas and had some beer cheese and a smoked cheddar block from Hickory farms and thought something good could come from making a cheese dip.  Suffice to say, I feel like I nailed it.  The result was quite good –  creamy, smoky, piquant, and tangy.  Sometimes the best things just fall right in your lap.  The recipe also serves as a great cheese dip template.  These are so easy to make, and much better than the prepared ones from the store and better for you as well.  My rule of thumb is to use a sharp cheese mixed with a soft creamy cheese.  Experiment!  Use what you have in the fridge, you may invent the next yummy on the grocery aisle!


  • Cheese grater
  • Bowl
  • Rubber spatula


  • ½ lb. beer cheese, shredded
  • ¼ lb. sharp smoked cheddar, shredded
  • 1 small jar (2 oz.) diced pimentos
  • About ½ cup mayonnaise
  • Fresh black pepper
  • Sweet Hungarian paprika
  • Dash Worcestershire sauce


Place shredded cheese in bowl, drain jar of pimentos, add to cheese.  Add mayo and season to taste with black pepper, paprika, and Worcestershire

Serve with crackers, celery, carrots, or chips.  Tends to go fast!  This will save for about a week, so is a really good one to make ahead if you are hosting, or planning a camping trip, or want to put in your lunch with a bunch of veggies … so very YUM.  For a spicier version, try adding diced jalepeno pepper.  Smoked paprika can also be good in this.  You can try with Extra Sharp Cheddar and white american for a more classic version.




How To Order A Pizza (Friday Night Recipe:))

best pizza ever

How to Order a Pizza

Guess What – It’s FRIDAY and I don’t feel like cooking.  I managed to go to a hot and sweaty 5:30 PM Yoga Class, and at 7:15 had absolutely 0 desire to go to the store, or heat up some frozen thing from my freezer. Thankfully, I have access to all the benefits modern society has to offer, like great Pizza.  Bonus – Vegetarian pizza can be really great!  Vegan Pizza, well lets say I’ve never had one that tasted nearly as good as one with real cheese, but it does exist and is better with lots of hot sauce.  Sorry vegans, but taste does matter.  As does texture.  The important thing about ordering pizza is to make sure your topping / crust ratio does not exceed the capacity of the crust to properly bend and fold.  With that said, here are some other guidelines for amazing pizza experiences:

  • Artichoke hearts are always a good idea
  • Extra Garlic Please
  • Spinach is good, arugula is better. Hold the Kale
  • Olives add to much damn salt, but taste good with pepperoni and sausage
  • Mushrooms are also always a good idea
  • Mozzarella and Fontina Cheese Blend Please
  • Deep Dish – Only in Chicago.  Gut bomb but very tasty.
  • Red Sauce or Olive oil base. Ranch base or alfredo base is just wrong.
  • Chicken alfredo should never be a pizza
  • BBQ chicken can be good but those onions can overpower everything
  • Thinnish Crust baked in a wood fired oven is delightful and better than anything else (See Chicago Exception above)
  • Did I mention that cheese is quite important ?
  • Pepperoni is tasty but causes heartburn.
  • Mushrooms, Sausage, and olives is a carnivore’s delight
  • Hawaiian pizza is tasty and I don’t get why people are weird about it
  • I love ranch dressing but dipping your pizza in the stuff adds like a million extra calories and it drowns out the yummy flavors of the pizza. If you need ranch, maybe you are not getting the right kind of pie!
  • Confession, I love ranch and get it all the time even though it is bad for me. BUT NOT TONIGHT DAMMIT.
  • Mushrooms, Artichoke Hearts, diced tomato, Arugula, garlic, and roasted red peppers with a red sauce base, mozzarella, and Asiago was the winner!

Have a great weekend! Let me know what your favorite pizza toppings are

Cast Iron Hash Skillets – Classic Corned Beef Hash & Sweet Potato, Kale, and Mushroom Hash

I am a big fan of hash – always have been.  I grew up eating the stuff out of the can, and  loved it, and had no idea until I was much older how much better the homemade  version could be, and how easy it is to prepare.  Just before new year’s, I made the corned beef; and on new year’s day I made the veggie hash- incidentally I am doing a “no red meat January” mostly to force  myself to make more of the vegetarian recipes I know, and to develop healthier cooking habits.  The big unifier in both of these dishes are the baked eggs and the paprika-infused horseradish crema.  They are perfectly fine without it, but the crema really takes it up a notch.  Both these dishes are designed to serve 2-3, but you can easily double.  I hope you enjoy and please leave me feedback!corned beef hash skillet




Classic Corned Beef Hash with Baked Eggs and Horseradish Crema


  • 2 cups cubed, cooked corned beef ( I boil one the night before and use the leftovers for this and Reuben sandwiches – that recipe to come later)
  • 1 cup baby carrots,  halved
  • 2 cups diced Yukon gold potatoes
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • ½ cup chopped red bell pepper
  • Chives
  • 4 eggs
  • Prepared horseradish
  • Sour Cream
  • Paprika
  • Black pepper
  • Seasoned Salt
  • Worcestershire Sauce
  • Fresh Thyme, chopped, about 1 tablespoon
  • Fresh oregano, chopped, about 1 tablespoon
  • Olive oil


Mix about 1 tablespoon with 1/2 cup sour cream, and a ½ teaspoon approx. of good Hungarian paprika, and a dash or Worcestershire sauce.  Set aside

Preheat oven to 4000.  Put the carrots, onion, peppers, and potatoes in cast iron, mix with about a tablespoon of olive oil, and season with salt and pepper.  And roast until potatoes just start to change color, about 20 min

Remove from oven, stir, add corned beef and chives, put back in oven for about 10 more min until potatoes are cooked through and golden, and corned beef has rendered

Stir again, make four holes in the mixture, and crack an egg in the hole.  Bake for about 5 more min or until eggs have reached desired doneness

Serve with horseradish crema, English muffin or toast.


Vegetarian Sweet Potato, Kale, and Mushroom Hash


  • 2 cups cubed sweet potato or yam
  • 1 cup cubed Yukon gold potato
  • Two big handfuls kale, cleaned, massaged, and tough stems removed
  • 1 cup mushrooms, rough chopped
  • 1 cup onion, rough chopped
  • Fresh Thyme, chopped, about 1 tablespoon
  • Chives
  • 4 eggs
  • Salt, pepper, olive oil
  • Horseradish crema, recipe above

Preheat oven to 400.  Put the potatoes and onions on a baking sheet, toss with olive oil and thyme, season with salt & pepper, and roast until done – about 20 min

Meanwhile, in cast iron, heat oil over medium—heat.  Add kale, mushrooms, chives, and season to taste.  Sautee until done

When potatoes are cooked, add to the kale and mushroom mixture in the cast iron.  Make 4 holes, and crack an egg into each hole.  Put back in oven for about 5 min or until egg is done

Serve with horseradish crema, English muffin, toast and jelly

Let me know your hacks and tips!  There are lots of variations of root vegetables that work with this dish, and mushrooms are a great meat substitute.  I also want to try with field roast veggie sausage to see how that would be.  Enjoy!


Will’s Mushroom and Pancetta Stuffed Mushrooms

Also included below: Field Greens with Blanched Haricots Verts, Radish, Goat Cheese Crostini and Honey-Balsamic Reduction

I went to a fun little gathering last night, and took on making some quick appetizers and a salad.  We also had mashed potatoes and a lovely brisket that the host had smoked all day, so it seemed good to focus on vegetables.  The stuffed mushroom dish is an original I put together after reading a few different recipes and was really a big hit.  The salad was excellent also, I really enjoyed the crunch and snap of the radish and green beans juxtaposed against the sharp goat cheese, the bitter greens, and the sweet balsamic glaze.  Both are keepers for sure.

Will’s Mushroom and Pancetta Stuffed Mushrooms:




  • Large Baking sheet
  • Mixing bowl
  • Paring knife
  • Chopping board and Chefs knife
  • Sautee Pan



  • 1 box reduced fat cream cheese, at room temperature
  • ½ sweet red pepper, diced
  • 1/8-pound pancetta, minced
  • Fresh Chives, about 4 chopped fine
  • Fresh Thyme, about 2 tablespoons, chopped fine
  • Garlic powder, ½ – 1 tsp
  • Very Finely Chopped onion, 2 tablespoons
  • 2 tablespoons parsley, chopped
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • Fresh grated Romano or parmesan cheese, about ¼ cup
  • 8 large mutton mushrooms, stems removed and chopped fine
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter


  • Preheat oven to 375 on bake
  • Put cream cheese, spices, and ½ the Romano in a bowl with half of the thyme
  • Clean mushrooms and remove stems
  • Brush mushrooms with butter and place on baking sheet
  • Sautee pancetta, mushrooms, and vegetables in leftover butter until they begin to brown, add herbs
  • Mix sautéed vegetable mixture with cheese mixture
  • Stuff mushrooms with cheese mixture. Any leftover stuffing can be served as a cheese dip – people love to sample this with crackers and veggies
  • Top with remaining Romano, then bake for about 20 min. Let cool and serve.  They will disappear quickly.

It is easy to stuff these in advance then cook off and serve if you are hosting.  You can leave out the pancetta if you are a vegetarian, and it is still really good.


Mixed Greens with Blanched Haricots Verts, Radish, and Goat Cheese Crostini, Balsamic Honey Glaze

All the prep can be done in advance, so that all you need to do is compose the salad on individual salad plates with the crostini and then drizzle with the balsamic glaze


  • Organic Salad Greens – I like 50% spring mix 50% spinach for this one
  • Radishes – about ½ bunch, washed and sliced thin
  • Haricots Verts i.e. French Green Beans, washed, blanched for 5 min, then shocked in ice water to stop cooking
  • Balsamic Honey Glaze – reduce about ¼ cup balsamic vinegar and 1-2 tablespoons raw honey until thick and syrupy, put aside
  • Goat Cheese
  • French Bread Rounds or baguette sliced into rounds


  • Toast baguette slices until just brown on a baking sheet
  • Top with goat cheese, put back into oven on Broil for 4 min
  • Compose Salads: Put greens on a plate, add radishes, green beans, and 2 crostini. Drizzle with the glaze.

Leftover Ham and White Bean Soup

On Christmas, we had a large spiral sliced bone-in ham for dinner, with roasted Brussel Sprouts, Scalloped potatoes, and other dishes. I was excited about using the ham bone for soup right away, and the next day prepared this hearty winter soup for the family before we all went to see the new Star Wars movie.  This is not a fancy recipe at all, and can be modified with the addition of Kale.  This can also be made in a crock pot, after the vegetables are caramelized, add to crock pot on low heat.  I like the texture with the beans mashed or pureed, but it is very good “chunky” as well.   Enjoy!



  • Pot
  • Chopping Board
  • Chef’s Knife
  • Immersion Blender


  • 4 cans white beans (I use a mix of low sodium navy, great northern, and cannellini beans)
  • 2 quarts vegetable or chicken stock
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 3 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 medium white or yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh oregano, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 1/8 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • Salt
  • Olive oil
  • Ham bone and about 2 cups diced ham


  • Heat olive oil in pan on medium – low heat
  • Add vegetables, and saute until they begin to brown
  • Add garlic, herbs, and dicd ham, until fat begins to render
  • Add stock, beans, and ham bone
  • Bring to a simmer and reduce heat, simmer about 1 hour on low
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Remove ham bone
  • Pulse with immersion blender, leave it still a little chunky not a puree
  • Taste, adjust seasonings

If using crock pot, just transfer the vegetables to the crock pot after you finished caramelizing them, and proceed with the steps.  The immersion blender is not necessary, but IMP improves the texture of the dish.  Other sources say hand mash half the beans, which sounds good but I have not tried yet.  Bon Appetit!

Boxing Day Meatball Sliders

The day after Christmas and all through the house, I am sick and tired of the non-stop buffet of rich holiday food and want to get back on a regular meal schedule.  For real for real.  I was just driving home from a Christmas day hike and it hit me like a flash of inspiration.  Homemade meatball sliders – everyone will love those.  They were a hit with the tasting panel, yesterday, and I am happy to share with you today 😊



  • Large bowl
  • Foil lined baking sheet
  • Large frying pan
  • Tongs
  • Cutting board
  • Knife for choppin


  • 1.5 pounds lean ground beef
  • 1 pound sweet Italian sausage
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh oregano, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • ½ – 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 eggs
  • About 1 and ½ cups breadcrumbs (I like stale French bread for this, prepared breadcrumbs add too much salt)
  • 2/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • Garlic salt
  • Olive oil
  • 1 habanero or serrano chili pepper, whole
  • 1 jar, your favorite basic marinara sauce ( I use Newman’s own organic)
  • Sliced provolone cheese
  • Fresh crusty French dinner rolls (from Deli at your grocers)


  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Put about 1/8 cup olive oil in frying pan with whole chili, heat on medium-low heat
  • Mix the beef, sausage, vegetables, bread crumbs, eggs, and spices thoroughly in the bowl.
  • Take mixed meat and form into balls about the size of a golf ball, put on lined baking dish
  • While doing this, you will notice the chili cooking in the oil. Once oil is infused, remove chili
  • Take the balls in batches, and brown in the oil. Place browned balls back on baking sheet
  • Bake for about 20 min or until cooked through
  • While balls are baking heat up sauce on low heat
  • Cut French rolls in half, arrange on baking dish in a row
  • Once balls are out o oven, place in sauce.
  • Take the saucy balls and put them on a roll with some provolone
  • Broil for about a minute or until cheese is melty
  • Eat
  • Nom

Final thoughts- of course this is better with homemade marinara, but that’s more of a summer thing with fresh tomatoes.  I sometimes add fresh anchovy to my meatballs and use ground pork instead of sausage.  If I am using ground pork, I will add additional seasonings (dried Italian seasonings basically) and the minced anchovy to amp up the umami.  Habanero will yield a spicier  ball than the Serrano, but infusing the oil is a key step of this process.  If the meat mixture seems too dry, add a little milk. You can substitute ground turkey or “beyond meat” and still have a tasty meatball.

Aunt Julie’s Crab Dip – Or the Best Cold Layered Holiday Crab Dip Ever


The first time I had this recipe, my Aunt Julie prepared it for a new year’s eve party.  It has been a staple of our holiday parties ever since.  Even now, living on the other side of the country, we share this bond that food created many years ago.  I have made some changes to that original recipe – I doubled it for a large crowd, I use Oregon Dungeness crab if available, but I also add canned crab as a filler to the more expensive Dungeness.  Bottom line – this is a great dish for entertaining and it always seems to disappear.  Serve with an assortment of crackers – I usually buy a couple boxes of those fancy water crackers and mix with some butter crackers as well.  Enjoy!  Happy holidays everyone 🙂


  • Hand Mixer
  • Large Bowl
  • Large Serving Platter
  • Rubber spatula


  • 1 large lemon , seeded and cut into halves
  • Italian parsley, washed and chopped , about 1/4 cup
  • 1 shallot, finely minced, about 2 tablespoons
  • Two packages cream cheese, softened at room temperature
  • Worcestershire sauce – about a teaspoon
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • Good quality cocktail sauce
  • Prepared horseradish, to taste
  • 8 oz fresh Dungeness crab meat, rinsed and shells removed
  • Can lump crabmeat, rinsed and shells removed
  • Dried onion, 1 teaspoon


Put the softened cream cheese into a bowl with the shallot, dried onion, Worcestershire, juice of ½ lemon, and some black pepper and beat with the hand mixer until everything is incorporated and the cream cheese is somewhat fluffy. Use the rubber spatula and spread this in an even layer on your large serving platter.  Next mix the horseradish and cocktail sauce to your taste, and spread a thin layer of the cocktail sauce over the cream cheese layer.  Third, take the drained and rinsed crab meat (I squeeze all the water out of it) and apply in an even flaky layer over the cocktail sauce.  Finally, squeeze the rest of the lemon juice on top and add the parsley to finish.  Serve with crackers.