Black Bean, Edamame & Garbanzo Salad

It seems like everywhere we turn, we hear about how our American diet is slowly killing us. “Eat more whole grains, fruits and vegetables”. “Eat less meat, but more fish and chicken.” And then there’s the biggest plea of all…”Cut the sugar from your diet!”  We hear these pleas everyday from the experts in the nutrition field.  While I’m no expert on the subject of nutrition, I do believe that cleaner eating with far less sugar is the best choice…a healthier choice for my family.  I buy fresh and organic when possible, and I try and steer clear of GMOs (read this GMO article) & hidden sugars (read this Sugar article). I love having a protein packed salad in the fridge for quick lunches or a healthy side dish for dinner.  This salad with edamame, black and garbanzo beans has become a summer favorite for the whole family.  You can always top it with a grilled chicken breast if someone in your family needs their meat!  Enjoy!

Black Bean, Edamame & Garbanzo Salad

Black Bean, Edamame & Garbanzo Salad

Black Bean, Edamame & Garbanzo Salad


  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 pkg frozen shelled edamame, cooked per instructions and cooled
  • 1 ½ cups frozen corn, thawed
  • ¾ cup green onions, white and green parts thinly sliced
  • 1 cup cucumber, chopped
  • ⅓ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 ½ cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 1 serrano pepper, minced (to taste)
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder


In large bowl, whisk together olive oil, lemon juice, salt & pepper and chili powder.  Add remaining ingredients and stir to combine.

Liz’s Tidbits:

I have also added a teaspoon of ground cumin with tasty results.  Feel free to play around with the ingredients…if there’s something you don’t like, leave it out.  You could omit the cilantro, serrano and chili powder and instead use parsley, kalamata olives, feta cheese and dried oregano.  Use your imagination!

Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad

My family loves brussels sprouts. I didn’t care for them as a kid, but they’ve turned out to be one of TBP’s (Teenage Bottomless Pit’s) favorite veggies!  While I normally roast them with chopped duck bacon (yes, I said “duck bacon”…try it and you’ll be hooked, too!) and then drizzle with a balsamic glaze, I’ve been seeing lots of recipes lately using them raw and shredded.  I was intrigued.

This salad is full of bright colors and different textures. I actually added cranberries and loved the contrasting flavors of the lemony dressing, salty cheese and sweet cranberries.  It keeps very well in the fridge and is still delicious on day 2–not many salads in THAT category!  The recipe can be cut in half and will still make quite a large bowl, but, be prepared…everyone who tries it will love it and want the recipe! I do believe you could make converts out of those brussels sprouts haters with this one!


Kale and Brussels salad

Kale and Brussels Sprouts Salad

slightly adapted from Bon Appétit

8-10 Servings

  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 1 small garlic clove, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning toasted almonds
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 2 large bunches kale, center stem discarded, leaves thinly sliced
  • 12 ounces brussels sprouts, trimmed, finely grated or shredded with a knife
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • ⅓ cup whole almonds with skins, coarsely chopped
  • ¾ cup finely grated Pecorino cheese (I used Parmesan)
  • ½-1 cup dried cranberries


Whisk lemon juice, mustard, shallot, garlic, salt and a pinch of pepper in a small bowl, and set aside for flavors to meld.

Put ½ cup olive oil into cup.  Remove 1 tablespoon, place into small skillet and heat over med-high heat.  Add chopped almonds to skillet, and stir frequently until golden brown in spots, about 2 minutes.  Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate, and sprinkle lightly with salt.

Mix shredded brussels and thinly sliced kale in a large bowl.   Add cranberries, grated cheese and almonds.  Slowly whisk remaining olive oil into lemon juice mixture, pour over greens and toss.

Liz’s Tidbits:

  • Check your grocery store to see if they carry pre shredded brussels sprouts.  I know Trader Joe’s carries them.
  • Be careful adding salt as the cheese lends it’s own saltiness.
  • This salad can be made and dressed ahead of time. Actually, it’s better dressed ahead of time to allow the greens to soften a bit, and it’s just as good the next day!
  • If you can’t find the pre shredded brussels, use a food processor for both the kale and brussels to save time.
  • If you don’t like cranberries, chopped dates or apricots might be nice.  Maybe even some pomegranate seeds! Be adventurous!
  • For those locals who wold like to try duck bacon, I get mine at Gaucho Gourmet in San Antonio!

Peach Galette

“The art of eating the Perfect Peach: First raise to the mouth and the aroma enchants, anticipation is stirred.  Insert in mouth and bite.  Juices splash and squirt and you involuntarily lean over as the syrup drips down your cheeks and dangles on your chin.  Flavors explode and the nectar dances across the taste buds.  You slowly swallow and the aftertaste lingers and stays.  Smack your lips and suck slightly on your tongue and a different wave of flavor delights.  Memory is created.  You lick your lips and pause before another bite, savoring the moment–slowly.”

This is the introduction to my newest cookbook,  “The Perfect Peach: Recipes and Stories from the Masumoto Family Farm”.  How could you NOT want to read the “rest of the story” after that kind of intro? lol  Seriously, though, this book is full of great family stories and beautiful photographs of delicious peach recipes from beverages to savory dishes to the beloved peach dessert.

The galette is my alternative to a peach pie.  I love how rustic and simple it is.  It’s the perfect ending to a meal…not too sweet, a delicious golden crust and mouth watering summer peaches bursting with flavor! Top off a slice with either a dollop of ice cream or my Kahlúa Whipped Cream! (see Liz’s Tidbits at bottom.)



Peach Galette-1

Peach Galette w/Kahlua Whipped Cream

Peach Galette w/Kahlua Whipped Cream

Peach Galette

adapted from: The Perfect Peach (Recipes and Stories from the Masumoto Family Farm)


  • ¾ cup unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for working with the dough
  • 6 tablespoons whole wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • scant ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup plus 1 tablespoon cold unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 ½ teaspoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon beaten egg or heavy cream
  • turbinado sugar, for sprinkling


  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour or tapioca flour
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • scant ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6-8 soft peaches (with give) peeled, halved, pitted and cut into ¼ to ½ inch-thick wedges


To make the pastry, combine the flours, sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse until blended.  Scatter the butter over the flour mixture and pulse until it looks like coarse sand. (Alternatively, combine the flour, sugar and salt in a bowl, and work the mixture with a pastry blender until it has a sand-like texture.)  In a small bowl or cup, whisk together the 1 egg and the milk until blended, pour into the food processor or bowl all at once and pulse or gently mix by hand until the dough forms a rough clump.  Do not overwork the dough to avoid toughness.

Lightly flour a work surface.  Transfer the dough to the floured surface, form it into a ball, then flatten into a disk 1 to 1 ½ inches thick.  Don’t knead it! Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 ½ – 2 hours or for up to 1 day.

When the dough is well chilled, preheat the oven to 375°F.

Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let it warm at room temperature for about 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, make the filling.  In a small bowl, stir together the sugar, flour and cinnamon, mixing well.  Place the peaches in a bowl, sprinkle the sugar mixture over the top, and toss gently.  (If the peaches are tart, you may want to add a little more sugar.)

Lay a large sheet of parchment paper on a work surface, and dust with flour.  Place the dough on the floured parchment, and roll it out into a round about 11 inches in diameter and ⅛ inch thick.  Transfer the pastry with the parchment to a rimmed  or rimless baking sheet large enough to accommodate the  pastry round comfortably.  Starting 1 – 1½ inches from the edge of the round, arrange the peach wedges in a single layer in concentric circles, continuing until you reach the center of the round.  Fold the outer edges of the pastry over the peaches, creating overlapping folds as you work around the perimeter.  If your peaches are extra juicy, leave the extra juice in the bowl so that the filling does not overflow in the oven.  Brush the pastry border with 1 tablespoon beaten egg and then sprinkle lightly with the turbinado sugar.

Bake for 50-60 minutes until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbling.  If your galette has a lot of juice, you may want to place a second pan on the lowest rack in the oven under the baking sheet to catch any juices that overflow.

Let the galette cool on the baking sheet on a wire rack.  Cut into wedges to serve…can top with either ice cream or my favorite whipped cream (see below!)

Liz’s Tidbits:

Kahlúa Flavored Whipped Cream

1 cup chilled whipping cream
1/2 cup powdered sugar
3 T Kahlúa
Chill bowl and utensils. Whip cream and sugar until soft peaks form.  Add Kahlúa and combine.

Filet Mignon with Brandy Mustard Sauce

I’ve been wanting to get this post done for some time now, so that next time we are craving a filet with a brandy sauce, I won’t have to spend hours finding the recipe!  I’ve tried numerous sauces for filets, and while all were good, this recipe for a brandy sauce was exceptional!  We all agreed it was, by far, the best we’ve ever had!  The definition of filet mignon actually refers to beef, but I decided to use some venison filets from the Axis deer that TBP (Teenage Bottomless Pit) killed last fall.  This dish was AWESOME!  Paired with a nice Cab, it’s definitely a celebratory dish!

I don’t have a picture of the finished product (it smelled too good to stop and take photos), but here’s some really pretty pictures I captured of the cactus in bloom at the ranch. :)




Filet Mignon with Brandy Mustard Sauce

Serves 4

Slightly adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine


  • 4 6-ounce filets mignons
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil plus more for brushing
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 10 ounces sliced mushrooms (button, crimini or stemmed shiitake; about 4 ½ cups)
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped (about ½ cup)
  • ½ cup brandy
  • ½ cup low-salt beef broth
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • cayenne pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh chives


Brush steaks with oil, and prepare them your favorite way.  You can grill them on a medium-hot charcoal grill, on a gas grill set to high, or in your favorite screaming hot cast iron skillet, finished in a 450° oven.  Cook to desired doneness, 5-6 minutes per side for medium-rare.  Transfer to a plate and let rest for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large cast-iron skillet.  Add mushrooms and shallots to skillet and stir until mushrooms are tender and browned in spots and shallots are tender, 4–5 minutes. Remove skillet from heat; stir in brandy (caution: mixture may ignite). Return skillet to heat, add broth, Dijon mustard, and thyme leaves; stir to blend.

Add cream; simmer until mushroom sauce is slightly thickened, 4-5 minutes.  Season sauce to taste with salt, pepper and cayenne. Spoon sauce onto plates, top each with a filet and garnish with chives.


Blueberry & Kale Grain Salad

It’s a hot summer here in Texas, and what better way to beat the heat than with a cool salad?  I’m always on the lookout for delicious and healthy summer salads.  Not only is this one delicious, but it has healthy written all over it!  Sweet juicy blueberries are the star, and combined with feta, snap peas and pecans, you’re rewarded with that crunchy, sweet & salty combo.  Kale and wheat berries round out the dose of healthy!


Blueberry & Kale Grain Salad

Blueberry & Kale Grain Salad

Blueberry & Kale Grain Salad

Southern Living Magazine

Serves 8


  • 1 cup wheat berries (farro, quinoa, or wild rice can be substituted)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (8 oz.) pkg fresh sugar snap peas
  • 4 cups coarsely chopped kale
  • ½ cup Red Wine Vinaigrette (see recipe below)
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • ½ cup chopped toasted pecans
  • ¾ cup crumbled feta


Bring wheat berries, salt and 4 cups water to a boil in saucepan.  Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer 1 hour.

Meanwhile, cook snap peas in boiling salted water to cover 2 minutes or until crisp-tender, then drain.  Plunge into ice water, drain and pat dry.  Slice in half.  Drain wheat berries, and rinse under cold water until cool.

Toss together kale, wheat berries, and ¼ cup vinaigrette in large bowl.  Let stand 30 minutes. Stir in blueberries, pecans, and sugar snap peas.  Add salt & pepper if desired and sprinkle with feta.  Serve with remaining ¼ cup vinaigrette.

Red Wine Vinaigrette (makes about 1 cup):

  • ⅓ cup red wine vinegar
  • ½ large shallot, minced
  • ⅔ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons coarse-grained Dijon mustard

Stir together red wine vinegar and minced shallot; let stand 10 minutes.  Whisk in olive oil and remaining ingredients.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Refrigerate in airtight container up to 1 week.

Liz’s Tidbits:

The Vinaigrette recipe makes more than you will use for this salad.  Keep the rest in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.

Cranberry Turtle Bars

And the Oscar goes to…

Cranberry Turtle Bars!

If the Oscars had a “Cult Favorite” category, these Cranberry Turtle Bars would definitely take the award!  Since Gourmet Magazine originally published this recipe back in 2001, these beautiful little bars have gained a cult-like following.  They were voted “THE” favorite cookie from 2001! (see The Gourmet Cookie Book-The Single Best Recipe from Each Year 1941-2009)  Fresh cranberries mixed into a freshly made caramel along with chopped pecans and layered on top of a delicious buttery shortbread crust.  If that isn’t enough, the whole thing is drizzled with chocolate to make it a decadent,  unexpectedly delicious combination of flavors.  They are beautiful and pretty freaking AMAZING!


Drizzle with chocolate, cool, then cut into bars


Cranberry Turtle Bar

Cranberry Turtle Bars

Makes 3 dozen bars (more for me, because I cut into smaller bars)

Slightly adapted from “The Gourmet Cookie Book-The Single Best Recipe from Each Year 1941-2009

Ingredients For Base:

  • 2 Cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ Cup packed light brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ sticks (¾ Cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes

For Topping:

  • 2 sticks (1 Cup) unsalted butter
  • 1 ⅔ Cup granulated sugar
  • ¼ Cup light corn syrup
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ Cup fresh or frozen cranberries (I used fresh and chopped in food processor)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 Cups pecans (12 oz), coarsely chopped

For Decoration:

  • 2 oz fine-quality bittersweet chocolate (not unsweetened), very finely chopped

Special Equipment:

  • A candy thermometer

 Make Base:

Preheat oven to 350°F.  Line a 9 x 13 inch pan with foil, leaving a 2-inch overhang on the 2 short sides.  Butter all 4 sides, but not the bottom.

Blend flour, brown sugar and salt in a food processor, then add butter and pulse until mixture begins to form small (roughly pea-size) lumps.  Sprinkle into baking pan, then press down firmly all over with a metal spatula to form an even layer.  Bake in middle of oven until golden and firm to the touch, 15 to 17 minutes, then cool in pan on a rack.

Make Topping:

Melt butter in a 3-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat and stir in sugar, corn syrup and salt.  Boil over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until caramel registers 245°F on thermometer, about 8 minutes.  Carefully stir in cranberries, then boil until caramel returns to 245°F.  Remove from heat and stir in vanilla, then stir in pecans until well coated.  Working quickly, spread caramel topping over base, using a fork to distribute nuts and berries evenly.  Cool completely.

Cut and Decorate Bars:

Lift bars in foil from pan and transfer to a cutting board.  Cut into 6 crosswise strips, then 6 lengthwise strips (to form 36 bars).  Melt half of chocolate in top of double boiler or a metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, stirring until smooth.  Remove bowl from heat and add remaining chocolate, stirring until smooth.  Transfer chocolate to a small heavy-duty sealable plastic bag. Seal bag and snip off a tiny piece of 1 corner to form a small hole, then pipe chocolate decoratively over bars. Let stand at room temperature until chocolate sets, about 1 hour.

Liz’s Tidbits:

  • The original recipe notes that if you use frozen cranberries, do not thaw.
  • Once you add the cranberries to the caramel, the temperature will drop substantially.  Make sure you bring the temp back up to 245° before taking off the heat.
  • Use a small offset metal spatula to spread the cranberry mixture.
  • Rather than cutting them first, decorate the bars and let the chocolate set before cutting.
  • The bars keep in an airtight container (use wax paper between the layers) for up to 1 week.

Chicken Enchilada Soup-great for the slow cooker!

I’ve been seeing lots of slow cooker recipes come across my computer screen lately, and it got me to thinking that maybe my slow cooker could use some updating replacing!  I feel certain mine was given to me as a wedding gift, so that puts it in the ancient category!   With all the new technology, I figured there HAD to better ones out there, so with the help of Google and America’s Test Kitchen, I did a bit of research to find “the best” slow cooker on the market today.  If you’re interested in seeing which one now sits on my kitchen counter, click here.  After a quick trip to Bed Bath & Beyond, I’m now the proud owner of a brand spankin’ new slow cooker.  :)

For some reason, I’ve always associated slow cookers with “bland” food, and since no one in my family is a fan of bland, maybe that’s why I didn’t use mine much.  But when BFFE (Best Friend from El Paso), Lisa, raved about this Chicken Enchilada Soup, I figured it was time to initiate my new piece of equipment!   While you can make this soup on the stovetop in about an hour and a half, you can also put it in the slow cooker and be WOWED when you get home from work and walk in the door! The house smells wonderful, and dinner is ready!  Bland, it is NOT! This soup is chock full of flavor and won the approval of both my guys!

Chicken Enchilada Soup

Chicken Enchilada Soup

Chicken Enchilada Soup

Courtesy of Lisa Elbjorn


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1 small green or red bell pepper, diced ( I used half green and half red)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can (11 oz) Ro-tel diced tomatoes and green chiles (can use the HOT-habanero can for more heat!)
  • 4 cups low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 ¼ pounds boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup corn
  • 2 cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½  teaspoon Mexican oregano (crushed between fingertips)
  • sour cream, shredded cheese,  and diced avocado for garnish


In medium skillet, heat oil over medium heat.  Add onions, peppers and garlic, and season with salt & pepper.  Cook until softened, stirring often, about 10 minutes.

To your slow cooker, add the Ro-tel, chicken broth, chicken, corn, black beans, chile powder, cumin, oregano, 1 teaspoon coarse salt (or ½ teaspoon fine salt) and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Mix in the cooked onions, peppers and garlic. Cook on high 3-4 hours or low for 5-6.  Remove chicken breasts to a cutting board and shred into bite-sized pieces, adding back to pot when done.

Serve garnished with shredded cheese (I used Monterrey Jack, but cheddar would be good, too), diced avocado and a dollop of sour cream.



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