Category Archives: LZMarieAuthor

Pesto Cucumber Salad

Fast! This recipe is so easy, it shouldn’t really be called a recipe. But it’s so good I had to share. We eat this at least twice a week at our house.
I use the pesto sauce from Costco, but most markets make excellent pesto these days.
And what should you do with the extra pesto sauce? Mix it with rice! Delicious!

cucumber

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Frittata Recipe

Eggs! Veggies! Cheese! Healthy stuff! 

A frittata is quick-easy and, like most of my recipes, doesn’t call for exact ingredients.

I usually serve it with a salad. ( Actually, that’s a gross misrepresentation– pointing to the bag of greens while saying “You want salad? There it is!” is how I “serve”)

You might note that there’s only 1/2 the frittata in the pic below. That’s because after removing it from the oven, I left the kitchen for several moments. BIG mistake!  When I returned, a hungry 19 yr old had already descended upon it!
Note: This can also be made without cheese for those who are lactose intolerant.

frittata

 

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Chocolate Cheddar Review

cheese 4I love chocolate.                                                   I love cheese.                                                   But together?                                              Would it please?

 

I broke down and finally bought Trader Joe’s chocolate Cheddar cheese and I must say it’s not bad. As you can see from the photo, the cheese has dark chocolate shavings inside–meaning, it’s MOSTLY cheese.

First, I tasted it plain and cold. The OK cheddar flavor was followed by a hint of chocolaty sweetness.

Second, I sipped red wine and nibble on the cheese. Much better! The wine helped bring out the flavors of both. SO, this would be a good novelty cheese to include in a sampling if you need quick, fun party nibbles.


cheese 5Third
, (I’m ever so diligent during chocolate experimentation) I added a slice of cheese atop a split croissant, and warmed in the toaster over!  Magnifico! On par with Nutella! The heat brought out both flavors and, combined with the delicate taste of the croissant ,made for a yummy–if not calorie-laden–treat.

I think this chocolate cheddar would be great wrapped in a wonton and fried. Hubby’s family stuffs empandas with cheese, so this might be a unique substitute.

cheese 1If you love the idea  and taste of a sweet cheese, I suggest buying an expensive gourmet bottle of vinegar ( don’t even ask how many bottles of flavored specialty vinegars I have) and shake the decadently sweet drops onto the cheese for a real “party in your mouth.”

 

 

 

The Merkabah Recruit 
is FREE for AmazonPrime members
and $2.99 on Kindle
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Roasted Beet Salad

I know! I know! Beets… But it’s time to re-think  how delicious this veggie can be if served right!

beet saladThis tasty salad recipe comes from my future daughter in-law. She always has the most wonderful  recipes for vegetables–no doubt because her family owns
Weiser Family Farms. They are organic farmers and their certified organic specialty produce is found on the menus of  some of the best restaurants in Los Angeles.

Lucky for us, their certified organic produce is also  available at 18 different farmers markets in SoCal. Check their website for farmer market times and locations and also for lots of yummy healthy organic recipes.

I wasn’t a fan of beets until just a few years ago. This root vegetable is a good source of beets5glycine betaine ( good for your blood), folates, vitamin A, carotenoids, flavonoids, anti-oxidants, as well as a host of B-complex vitamins and  minerals. That’s one healthy vegetable!

Salad Ingredients
  • 4-5 small beets ( golden, candy-stripped, or regular)
  • 1 bag of baby arugula
  • blue cheese
  • optional: candied pecans or walnuts
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
Dressing Ingredients
  • lemon juice
  • olive oil
  • garlic salt
Directions
Place foil in a baking dish with beets. Lightly coat beets with olive oil, salt,and pepper. Wrap  beets in foil to form a packet. Bake the beets at 350 degrees until fork tender (approx 40 minutes). I use my toaster oven.  Let beets cool until warm. To remove skin, use a paper towel and simply rub off the skin- quick and easy! Slice beets and chill in refrigeration until ready to assemble salad.

Toss arugula, chilled beets, dressing, and blue cheese. Top with candied walnuts/pecans if desired.

Dressing: 2 parts lemon juice to 1 part olive oil. Season with garlic salt.

I could eat this salad every day! Thanks Steffy, for the great recipe.

See you at the farmer’s market!

Remember the e-book of
The Merkabah Recruit
is FREE for AmazonPrime members
and only $2.99 on Kindle
Don’t have a Kindle?
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Pork and Hominy

securedownload (1)You know me, cooking tasty but simple recipes I can throw together fast after work is important.  As an IB teacher by day and author by night, I have queries to compose, a novel to write, and a stellar pitch to prepare for Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel contest.

Keep in mind that ingredient amounts can vary depending on individual preferences- so go ahead and alter quantities if you have an affinity for a particular ingredient.

So without further ado…

  •  2 cans white hominy (drained)
  • 1-3 lbs bite-sized pork  ( I have to feed carnivores so I use 3 lbs)
  • cilantro
  • 1 T minced garlic
  • 1 large onion diced ( or more if your family loves onions)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • optional: several green chilis, sliced ( from a can)
  • optional: squeeze of lime

I use a large electric fry pan-less to clean up and the flavors blend nicely.

Saute onion and garlic in butter, then add and brown the pork morsels. Salt and pepper the pork porkwhile cooking. After thoroughly cooked, move the pork and onions to one side and add the drained hominy. (I like more hominy, less pork, and Hubby requires more meat).  Add cilantro to hominy and heat through. Green chilis can be mixed in to hominy, pork or both.

Delicious served with squeeze of lime, picante, or salsa.

Muy Gusto!

OK, now I have to get back to writing my perfect pitch.

 

 

Apple Pie

Who doesn’t love APPLE PIE!

It’s comfort food!

I’m all about fast and easy recipes.  (Fast and easy also describes one of the characters in The Merkabah Recruit) Editing and rewriting consumes much of my time, so I like to get in and out of the kitchen fast!

Apple pie is one of the quickest and simplest pies to make!

Unless you’re a purest, skip the homemade crust. There are plenty of excellent crusts on the market. Check the refrigerated section–grocery stores usually keep them near the cookie dough.

 

 

Ingredients  

  • green apples, 6 or more depending on size, peeled and sliced

    This makes peeling apples a snap! Available at Bed, Bath & Beyond and most kitchen stores.

  • 1/2 T cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • a few pats of butter
  • pie dough for top and bottom crust
  • a splash of lemon juice if the apples begin to turn brown while your peeling
Mix apples, sugar, and cinnamon. Add more cinnamon and sugar to taste.

Roll out one of the dough rounds in glass pie pan. Heap apple mixture in pan–I like my pie stuffed with apples. Cover with top crust. Seal bottom and top together using thumbs and forefingers.

 

Puncture crust with fork in a pretty sunburst pattern.

Brush with milk and sprinkle with sugar (adds sparkle). Bake in 425 oven for 15 minutes then lower to 325 for 35-40 minutes.  If fluted edges become too brown, cover with tin foil and continue baking.

Serve plain or a la mode. Drizzle caramel sauce over top.

Ziti

Cheesy pasta goodness! A cross between lasagna and spaghetti!
Ready to eat!

Ready to eat!

Ziti is one of my son’s favorite meals.

The basic no-frills recipe.

Note: For super fast prep time, I buy pre-shredded cheese and the marina sauce,

  • 1 pound al dente ziti
  • 12 oz ricotta
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4  cup grated parmesan
  • 2 Tbsp chopped parsley
  • 3 cups ( a jar and 1/2) of marina sauce
  • 8 oz shredded mozzarella
  • salt and pepper to taste. ( personally I think bottled sauce has plenty of salt, so I just   add pepper)
  • Optional mix-ins
  • 1 lb cooked ground beef, or chicken, or spicy Italian sausage (remove casing and brown on stove top)
  • 3-4  chopped roasted garlic ( or saute a tablespoon of minced garlic in butter)
  • Italian seasoning like sage, thyme, basil, rosemary, or  Italian spice mix ( fresh is best but who can get to the grocery store every day?)
  • red pepper flakes ( to taste)
  • top with fresh sliced tomatoes
Combine ricotta eggs, 1/2 cup Parmesan and spread enough sauce on bottom of 9 X 13-inch glass pan to prevent pasta from sticking. Layer ziti and mixture and mozzarella  Top layer should be mozzarella and remainder of Parmesan. I  top my ziti with sliced tomatoes and more mozzarella.
Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or  until  cheesy is melt-licious and sauce is bubbling.
Mmmmm.

Before it goes into the oven

This recipe makes A LOT of food, and without the meat, the 9 x 13 pan is brimming.

Enjoy!

Cheatin’ Chocolate Cake

My family LOVES chocolate cake–preferring this dessert over anything else. As a busy teacher-author I like recipes that are FAST. The credit for this cake goes to my 1st ex ( don’t ask) who experimented with baking many years ago.

Super easy! This recipe–it’s cheating to call it a recipe–makes decadent, moist, rich, tastes-like-homemade chocolate cake. It’s good by itself, dusted with powdered sugar, or frosted.

Cheatin’ Chocolate Cake
  • 1 box of chocolate cake mix
  • 1 box of brownie mix
  • follow directions for both mixes
Mix both together in one bowl. Grease and flour pans. Two 9-inch or 1 bundt ( if not making layers).
 Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Don’t over bake–that’s the kiss of death for baked goods. After 35 minutes, I do the knife test. The second it comes out clean, the cake is done. Carefully invert cake and cool on cooling rack.

For special occasions, refrigerate cake after it has cooled. Slice cold cake with additional layers using a string.  A 4-layer cake is very impressive looking.

For  an “adult” flavored cake, puncture cake with a fork and pour in coconut milk or rum or Kahlua ( 1/4 to 1/2 cup or to to taste)

Yummy fillings to consider: Apricot or raspberry jam
That’s it! Two boxes, one cheatin’ chocolate cake!
Note: I call it Cheatin’ Chocolate cake because it’s not from scratch.

My favorite fast frosting recipe is courtesy of the wonderful book 101 Gourmet Cupcakes

Chocolate Buttercream
  • 8 Tbsp ( I stick) butter at room temp
  • 1/3 cup cocoa
  • 3  and 3/4  cup powdered sugar
  • 3-4 Tbsp milk or cream
  • 2 Tbsp vanilla extract
    Beat butter until smooth and fluffy. A least 30 seconds.Add in remaining ingredients. Mix well. Add milk one tablespoon at a time.  I find the more I whip, the lighter it becomes.

My 2 favorite sources for frosting,mix-ins, & cake flavor ideas!

 

Ecuadorian Stew: Sancocho

There are many variations of this South American comfort food. Here’s my take on this stew.

Remember, as with any soup or stew, the amount or ingredients can be modified to suit personal tastes and/or what’s available in your fridge..

  • 2 ears  of corn, halved
  • Chicken OR beef cubes
  • Chicken OR beef broth
  • 3 medium potatoes, peeled, thick sliced ( I used a handful of small gourmet potatoes and left the skin on)
  • 1 lb peeled yuca/cassava, 1 inch slices
  • 2 green plantains, 2 inch slices
  • 3-4 onion diced
  • Garlic, 1 T minced
  • 3 Carrots, ½ inch slices
  • Salt, pepper to taste
  • Cumin 1-2 tsp
  • Cinnamon (optional) 1-2 tsp
  • Cilantro, handful

In large pot, sauté onions and garlic.

If using beef, sear beef cubes in oil. If using chicken, bake in oven. (I prefer to cook my  meat before it goes into a soup.)

When onions are translucent, add broth. Add in remainder of ingredients. Low boil until starches are cooked through ( yucca, plantain, potatoes). Simmer until dinner.

Note: The amount of spices used are a personal preference;  I added more cumin and cinnamon—just kept adding until it was flavorful. Next time, I’ll add more garlic and a cup of frozen corn.

Another note: Prep time was about ½ hour and stew simmered for about an hour.

Hubby gave it 5 out 5 stars.  He might be a bit biased.

 

 

Free Read

Amazon Prime members can now read The Merkabah Recruit for free! 

Not a Prime member? No problem! The novel can be downloaded for FREE December 25th through December 27th.

Reminders will be posted on my Facebook  and Fanpage L.Z.Marie  and Twitter @LZMarieAuthor

Free–especially after those wallet busting Holidays–is great!

FYI: Amazon Prime is an amazing program if you’re a voracious reader. It gives you access to zillions ( OK, maybe not that many) of free downloads.

 

Foodie Tuesday: Easy creamed soup

Creamed Soup in a Snap!

I love soup and so I’ve devised a few easy and FAST recipes that meet my low sodium, low fat, high flavor requirements.

For the photos, I used the ever-so–trendy orange cauliflower, but the recipe suits a few other veggies as well. Lots of calorie options in this recipe.

Creamed Vegetable Soup

  • Head cauliflower (white cauliflower, broccoflower, butternut squash or carrots are tasty substitutes) Cut into chunks. The smaller the chunks, the faster it cooks.
  • 1 carton chicken stock ( I prefer the organic kind)
  • 1-2 yellow onions
  • Minced garlic (optional)
  • Salt, pepper to taste
  • Nutmeg (optional)
  • Shredded Parmesan ( optional topping)
  • Cream (optional)

Saute onion in butter, add minced garlic if desired. Toss in chopped vegetables and pour in carton of chicken stock. Cook veggies over medium flame until soft. In batches, transfer veggies and stock into blender. Blend. Return pureed mixture back to pot. Add salt and pepper to taste (add red pepper flakes if you’re a fan). Reheat.

Depending on how fat/calorie conscious you are, mix in anywhere from a teaspoon to a Tablespoon of cream to the bowl. (I have a lactose intolerant child so I don’t put any cream in her bowl.) Sprinkle with Parmesan and nutmeg.

Delicious!  

 

 

 

Foodie Tuesday:Pork & Cabbage Recipe

There’s nothin’ like the smell of a delicious meal when you return home from work! Problem is-that never happens unless I put the food in the Crockpot before I leave at 6:30 in the morning. This mom has a day job (teacher), night job (writer), and in-between job (head chef and supply clerk)! This might sound VERY familiar to the women.

So once a week, I try to make a crockpot meal—I know—I know—so suburban—but hey, I’m assured a tasty nutritious, calorie conscious (always) meal.

Here’s the recipe for the meal I made the other day. Pork & Purple Cabbage. Warning—I come  from a long line of eastern European peasant woman who do NOT believe in precise measurement, instead practicing the art of culinary vagueness!

Ingredients:

  • Pork loin (sorry future daughter-in-law)
  • Small head purple cabbage cut in about 1 inch strips ( no need for preciseness-just cut it up & trash the hard white core)
  • 2 large yellow onions chopped
  • 3 apples peeled and chopped
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Splash of  ( good ) red wine vinegar
  • tsp fennel ( optional)
  • brown sugar (1/2 cup)

Place pork loin in bottom on crockpot on high and dump everything else on top. Cook on MEDIUM

Serve with: pasta, rice, or potatoes and some crusty bread.

I’m presently doing the no wheat thing (we’ll see how long that lasts), so I’ll fool my husband with gluten-free pasta (he’ll never know).

Hope you like it!

Time to eat!

 

 

 

What’s a Merkabah? Most frequently asked question

What’s a Merkabah?Pronounced with equal emphasis on each syllable:  Mer-kah-bah
An  ancient geometry that has been around for 3 thousand years,this hexagon star is is believed to have mystical powers, allowing one to enter enlightenment, zen, or achieve a spiritual and or physical ascension or cosmic travel. Resembling a 3D star of David but also portrayed with  one or two circles enclosing it, the word and shape have Egyptian origins.

Find out  more when history, mythology & science collide in The Merkabah Recruit