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Garden 2024

It’s been a while since I’ve put in a veggie garden. What a pleasure to be playing in the dirt again! This year, I decided to purchase my tomato and pepper plants, rather than growing from seeds. So far, I’m very pleased w/ this decision. The plants are healthy, thriving, and look better than when I’ve grown plants from seed. The only thing I grew from seeds this year are the basil and zinnias. The zinnias seeds went in on February 27th (the day before I had mulch delivered), and the basil was seeded on April 15th, just after the last frost. It warmed up early this year in St. Louis.

The plants I selected to grow for 2024 are: Cherokee Purple, San Marzano, Big Beef, and Kangaroo Paw (green/amber) tomatoes; Jalafuego and Serrano (Impala) peppers; and, as in the past, Genovese and Thai basil. Below are a few photos of how things looked on Monday, June 10th.

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Here’s to a productive gardening season!



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Fresh-made pizza dough topped w/ mozzarella, sliced garlic, capocolla, jalapeno, grape tomatoes, and freshly grated parmesan. 
Baked for 15 minutes at 450 degrees F.

Dinner for One

slow braised beef1

Slow braised beef in Italian marinade w/ fingerling potatoes, and a vegetable medley of carrots, yellow onion, crimini mushrooms, jalapeno peppers, and garlic.

Bon Appetit!


To Lasagna w/ Love



My love affair w/ lasagna goes back to my childhood. My parents would make spinach noodles for lasagna that would stretch across the kitchen. My mom made her lasagna w/ these sheets of noodles, Bolognaise sauce, and bechamel sauce. 

The baking pan is the same one my mom used, however, I took a different, and easier path in making my lasagna, as you will see in my recipe. Also, rather than par boil the noodles, I used Ina Garten’s method of softening the noodles. She would put the dry lasagna noodles in a baking dish, and submerge them in the hottest water you can get out of the tap for 20 minutes.

Believe it or not, this was my first attempt at making lasagna, and I have to admit the results not only looked good, but tasted fantastic too! Like Garfield, I can’t resist a good pan of lasagna!!



1 pound box lasagna noodles (use what you need, depending on the size of your baking pan)

1 28 ounce can San Marzano tomatoes

2 pounds Italian sausage

2 pounds ricotta cheese

1 1/2 cups freshly grated parmesan cheese

1/3 pound fresh baby spinach leaves

1 medium yellow onion – medium dice

4 cloves garlic – pressed

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 tbsp. dried oregano

1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

salt and pepper


1) Soak noodles using Ina Garten’s method noted above.

2) Make tomato sauce w/ San Marzano tomatoes, 1 tbsp. of the olive oil, onion, garlic, dried oregano, and red pepper flakes. Salt to taste.

3) Brown the Italian sausage in the remaining tbsp. of olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste. 

4) Get all ingredients lined up in the order of layering, prior to assembling your lasagna. Reserve the parmesan cheese for the final step of baking.

5) Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  

6) In a deep 8 x 11 inch baking pan, start assembling your lasagna (keep in mind the amount of ingredients you have will need to evenly cover 3 layers, and you’ll need a bit of the tomato sauce for the top and bottom): spread a small amount of the tomato sauce in the bottom of your baking pan, then add a layer of noodles, a layer of sauce, a layer of sausage, a layer of spinach leaves, then dab on a layer of ricotta. Repeat this process (noodles, tomato sauce, sausage, spinach leaves, ricotta) for the next 2 layers. Top the lasagna w/ the final layer of noodles and the remaining tomato sauce. Wrap pan tightly w/ aluminum foil.

7) Place lasagna on the middle rack of your oven and bake for 40 minutes, rotating pan front to back after 20 minutes for a more even bake. 

8) After 40 minutes, remove foil, evenly sprinkle the parmesan cheese over the lasagna, and continue baking, uncovered, for another 20 minutes. 

9) Remove lasagna from the oven, and let cool for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Yield: 6 servings


Enjoy a taste of Italy! Buon appetito!! 


Roasted Chicken Infused w/ Roasted Garlic, Basil and Tarragon

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chicken with roasted garlic and herbs2


Yep, another roasted chicken recipe! I was deprived of a working oven for almost a year, so I’m making up for lost time by using my new oven to cook some of my favorite eats, and roasted chicken is one of them.

This dish is an adaptation from one of my mom’s recipes, poulet a l’estragon. In her recipe she used a compound butter w/ tarragon, shallots, lemon zest/juice. Rather than using a compound butter, I roasted 1 1/2 heads of garlic, squeezed out the cloves, then made a paste w/ chopped basil and tarragon, salt and pepper. I then rubbed the paste under the chicken skin, and air dried it, uncovered, in the fridge for 4 1/2 hours. The chicken was roasted at 425 degrees F for 50 minutes, on bed of what I call purple potatoes, which are officially Dutch Blue potatoes.

The chicken turned out beautifully and tastes really good! Since tomatoes are at their peak right now, I made a tomato salad w/ fresh corn, red onion, some basil and tarragon leaves, and a mustardy vinaigrette.

I’ll definitely be making this meal again!!

Bon Appetit!



Jamaican Jerk Chicken – Version #2

Roasted w/ baby purple potatoes; and red cabbage salad w/ granny smith apples, shallots, and tarragon vinaigrette. I like this version more than version #1. The potatoes get deliciously flavored by the chicken drippings, and the shallots in the cabbage salad are milder than the white onion I used in the first version. The rest of the recipe is the same. Some of the benefits of using a vinaigrette rather than a creamy salad dressing are: it’s lighter on hot summer days, the acidity keeps the apples from browning, and it softens the cabbage. In fact, the salad tasted even better after a few days in the fridge!

jerk chicken version #2

cabbage salad



Garden 2023

Another summer of just taking it easy while getting my legs fixed up so I can start traveling again, and put a nice veggie garden in next year. Just herbs and flowers this year.

The flowers are beginning to pop open for some of nature’s pre-4th of July fireworks, and the herbs are adding depth to my weekly cooking projects.

My summer oasis…

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Christmas Dinner 2022

Pork tenderloin stuffed w/ Armagnac-soaked prunes and apricots, and sauteed crimini mushrooms; pan roasted w/ butternut squash and Granny Smith apples. Served w/ pan roasted baby potatoes, and merlot sauce w/ Italian black summer truffles.

Christmas dinner 2022

Happy, healthy 2023!!

Bye Bye Basil

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There was a frost warning here last night, so I figured it was best to pick some basil leaves just in case. I picked what I needed yesterday for my dinner pizza, and what was left over I chopped up to put in some mango salsa. The oregano was harvested today to be dried for upcoming recipes this fall and winter. 

It was good year for basil. I was able to make 3 medium jars of pesto, and a bowl of pistou in addition to picking some leaves occasionally for various dished I needed it for. 

The zinnias and other flowers loved the wet summer we had here in St. Louis. I love it that they’re continuing to bloom and providing some nice color to the browning scenery in my yard.

That’s it for now. I hope your gardens were bountiful too this year. 



Garden 2022

Voila, summer is here! Taking it easy in the garden this year. I’m just growing herbs and flowers.

Strangely, the sage died out after flowering beautifully. The oregano and tarragon were harvested a month ago to use in various kitchen projects. I’ve already made pistou and pesto w/ the Genovese basil, and the Thai basil was snipped for a couple of dishes.

We’ve had a good amount of rain on a regular basis, so the flowers are looking really good.

Here are a few photos taken on July 13th:

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Stay safe and have a great summer!