Chicken Salad

The surprise ingredient in this chicken salad adds a delicious crunch to this lunchtime favorite.Sharing the kitchen with my daughter and her family has many advantages. One of the greatest advantages is that I am in charge of only half the meals. Another is the opportunity to learn new recipes from the cook who’s in charge of the other half of the meals. Here’s her take on chicken salad. I never would have guessed how much cauliflower can add to this simple dish.

Anne’s Chicken Salad

2 chicken breasts, cooked and cubed
1/2 large onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped fine
4 large pickle spears, chopped
1 small head cauliflower, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 cup mayonnaise
salt and pepper to taste

Saute cauliflower in olive oil until some pieces begin to brown. Remove from heat.

Combine chicken, onion, celery, pickles, and cauliflower in a large bowl. Add mayonnaise 1/4 cup at a time until it reaches the consistency you like. Add salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate 2-4 hours before serving with your favorite bread or on a bed of lettuce.


Oven-Baked Fajitas

This recipe for oven-baked fajitas is easy, healthy, dairy-free, and full of flavor. Give it a try and see what you think.The test kitchen at our house is is officially open for 2016. The first offering of the season isoven-baked fajitas. The recipe, which is making the rounds of Facebook, is low fat, chock full of veggies, and contains no diary. When served on warm tortillas, however, the Man of Steel can top his with sour cream and cheese, and I can garnish mine with refried beans and guacamole. We really liked it. See what you think!

Oven Baked Fajita‬s

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 tsp chili powder
1 1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp seasoned salt
1 (15 oz) can diced tomatoes with green chilies (Rotel)
1 medium onion, sliced
1/2 red bell pepper, cut into strips
1/2 green bell pepper, cut into strips

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place chicken strips in a greased 13×9 baking dish. In a small bowl combine the oil, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, dried oregano, and salt. Drizzle the spice mixture over the chicken and stir to coat. Next add the tomatoes, peppers, and onions to the dish and stir to combine.

Bake uncovered for 20-25 minutes or until ‪#‎chicken‬ is cooked through and the ‪‎vegetables‬ are done. Serve on warm tortillas. Spread the tortillas with refried beans, if you wish, add the meat mixture, and garnish with your favorite toppings.

Cilantro Pesto Pork Chops with a Brine Twist

This recipe is easy, delicious, dairy free, and quick. It even works with lean, boneless pork chops if you brine them first.Today’s recipe adds a slight twist to a tasty pork chop recipe that first appeared on the Gravel Road in October of 2014. A year ago, the pork chops used were bone-in, as you can see in the picture above. This time I wanted to clear out a few boneless pork loin chops from the freezer, but was worried that quick frying would make them to dry and tough.

So I placed the frozen chops in a brine of 2 cups water and 1/4 cup of pickling salt and let them sit all day–on the kitchen counter until they were thawed and then in the fridge until a 1/2 hour before supper. Then I poured off the brine, rinsed the chops several times, patted them dry, and followed the recipe below from then on.

The chops were as tender and moist as I’d hoped and as delicious as ever. This recipe is way too fast and easy for the taste punch it delivers. It’ll show up on our table several more times until grilling season arrives again!

Cilantro Pesto Pork Chops

2 cubes of frozen cilantro pesto, thawed  1/4 cup fresh pesto
4 pork chops, about 1/2 inch thick each
1 teaspoon packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 tablespoon olive oil

Mix the brown sugar and chili powder together. Sprinkle on pork chops and rub mixture in with fingers. Flip chops over and do the same on the other side.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork. Cook for 5–7 minutes on each side, turning once, until they are no longer pink. Serve chops with cilantro mixture.

Italian Wedding Soup

Italian Wedding Soup

This recipe for Italian wedding soup comes from my sister and brother-in-law. They served it during our Thanksgiving stay with them. The Man of Steel raved about it and couldn’t get enough of it. So our hosts graciously pointed me to the recipe which they found at

They made in dairy free by not adding Parmeson cheese to the meatballs. Instead, they put the cheese on the table so diners could sprinkle some on top of each bowlful. Even with that alteration, this soup immediately received Hiram’s coveted seal of approval. And it received a second ringing endorsement when I served it recently at our house, too.

Italian Wedding Soup, Dairy Free Version

Meatball ingredients:
1 pound
extra-lean ground beef
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup dried bread crumbs1 teaspoon dried basil
3 tablespoons minced onion

Soup ingredients:2 1/2 quarts chicken broth
2 cups spinach – packed, rinsed and thinly sliced
1 cup seashell pasta
3/4 cup diced carrots


  1. In a medium bowl, combine the beef, egg, bread crumbs, basil and onion. Shape mixture into 3/4-inch balls and set aside.
  2. In a large stockpot heat chicken broth to boiling; stir in the spinach, pasta, carrot and meatballs. Return to boil; reduce heat to medium. Cook, stirring frequently, at a slow boil for 10 minutes or until pasta is al dente, and meatballs are no longer pink inside. Serve hot with Parmesan cheese sprinkled on top.

Cilantro Pesto Pork Chops

Cilantro pesto pork chopGuess who’s back in the kitchen? Not only cooking again, but also looking for ways to use meat from our half of a hog purchased from our farmer son. The meat in our freezer and a craving for cilantro pesto prompted a “pork and cilantro recipes” internet search. It turned up a deceptively simple Better Homes and Gardens recipe for pan-seared pork chops with cilantro pesto.

I substituted cilantro pesto from my freezer instead of making it according to the original recipe’s directions. But the rest of the instructions were followed exactly. The pork chops were delicious enough to receive the coveted Hiram seal of approval. They received my seal of approval because they were tasty, as well as easy to make and a very fast meal to throw together.

Cilantro Pesto Pork Chops

2 cubes of frozen cilantro pesto, thawed  1/4 cup fresh pesto
4 1/2 inch thick, bone-in pork chops
1 teaspoon packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 tablespoon olive oil

Mix the brown sugar and chili powder together. Sprinkle on pork chops and rub mixture in with fingers. Flip chops over and do the same on the other side.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork. Cook for 5–7 minutes on each side, turning once, until they are no longer pink. Serve chops with cilantro mixture.


Dairy-free, Gluten-free Rice Krispie Bars

gluten-free dairy-free Rice Krispie bars

Today’s recipe is so easy I’m almost embarrassed to post it. But I know many, many parents of kids with food allergies. I know how much they dislike telling their children “No, you can’t eat those treats.” And I know that with a few simple ingredient substitutions, they can say, “Yes, you can eat what all the other kids are eating.”

That may not sound like a big deal to you and me, but for parents who have to say “no” to their children and to kids who can’t eat what their friends do, it can be a very big deal. So today’s post is for them. To make the gluten-free and dairy-free version, you’ll need gluten-free Rice Krispies and Earth Balance vegan buttery sticks. Both can be found at the grocery store. The pictures below can help make sure you get the right ones.



Once you have those ingredients, use them while following the traditional Rice Krispie treat recipe found at their website. You can click the link or follow the directions below.

Gluten-free, Dairy-free Rice Krispie Bars

Put 3 tablespoons of Earth Balance vegan buttery sticks in a large, heavy saucepan and melt over low heat. Add a ten ounce bag of miniature marshmallows and stir until melted. (Or put the shortening and marshmallows in a microwavable bowl. Put in microwave on high for 3 minutes, stirring after 2 minutes.

Add 6 cups of gluten-free Rice Krispies to the melted marshmallows and stir until cereal is evenly coated. Put mixture in a well-greased, 9 X 13 pan. Use a buttered spatula or waxed paper to press the mixture into the pan. (I just spray a little cooking spray on my fingertips and use my hands.)

Cool. Cut into squares and serve.

Roasted Cauliflower

roasted cauliflower

Before diving into today’s recipe, you should know that I am not a cooked cauliflower lover. I like it raw, but not steamed, mixed with broccoli, or in soup. So I was a little skeptical during a weekend visit with family when the chef said the veggie for supper was going to be roasted cauliflower. I took a small helping, took a small bite, and experienced a small epiphany.

It. Was. Delicious.

Amazingly delicious. So delicious that I bought a head of cauliflower and gave it a try myself. I only used half the head for the two of us, in case my version wasn’t as tasty as what we’d been served early. But once again, it tasted wonderful. And I have enough left to make it again very soon. Hooray! Enough with the swooning and onto the recipe. Here it is. The easiest, tastiest vegetable side dish ever…

Roasted Cauliflower

1 head cauliflower, washed and broken into florets
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, pressed
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 450°. Oil a 9 X 13 casserole dish. Put cauliflower in a large bowl. Mix oil, garlic, salt and pepper together and pour over cauliflower. Mix well. Pour cauliflower into baking pan. Slide in the oven and bake for 20 minutes.

Mom’s Chili Soup

chili soup

Welcome back for the second recipe in the cornbread and chili series. Last week’s post featured non-dairy cornbread. This week’s features the chili recipe my mom used for years. The origin is unknown, though I suspect it’s a quick-and-easy version she created in her teaching-while-parenting-three-kids-caring-for-a-disabled-husband-and-going-to-college years. It may not win a chili cook-off contest, but it’s the taste I grew up with, and to my mouth, it’s wonderful.

Mom’s Chili Soup

1 pound ground beef or ground pork, browned
1 medium onion, chopped
1–2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and chopped (not in original, kid-friendly recipe)
1–46 ounce can tomato juice
1–28 ounce can chili beans
1 tablespoon chili powder
salt and pepper

Brown meat in large soup pot. Drain off fat. Add onions and peppers. Saute for 5 minutes. Add tomato juice, beans, chili powder, and salt and pepper to taste. Heat to boiling. Simmer for 45 minutes to an hour.

This meal freezes well, so I often make a double batch and freeze one.