This recipe incorporates three vegetables that are in season during the summer but are available year round: zucchini, yellow squash, and corn. When I make this dish during the winter, I use frozen corn. As this recipe is my own invention, the cooking and ingredients may vary from traditional paella It’s a little more involved than some other recipes on this site but it’s not complicated and takes me a total of 45 minutes.

iPhone 149For those not familiar with removing kernels from a cob of corn, place the corn standing up on a cutting board, fat end on the bottom. Using your chef’s knife, cut inward at first and down the cob to the bottom. Rotate the cob and repeat until all the kernels are removed. If the knife gets stuck, adjust it so it is not so close to the cob. Beware the kernels will fly off so allow some clearance.

Shrimp Paella – 1 Knife+


  • Olive oil
  • 1 cup long grain white rice
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 small onion, peeled and diced
  • 1-2 carrots depending on size, peeled and grated
  • 1 ear corn, kernels removed or 1 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 2 cloves garlic (use a garlic press; if not, finely mince)
  • 1 medium zucchini
  • 1 medium yellow squash
  • 1 pound raw shrimp (whatever size you are comfortable with but not too large), peeled (I prefer to remove that tails)
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cayenne (optional)


  • Overview: start by cooking the rice (which includes the onion, carrots, and corn); zucchini and yellow squash are sautéed in a non-stick pan; shrimp are sautéed next; squash and shrimp and seasonings are combined; then rice mixture is added to the pan and tossed around; then it sits in the pan a few minutes to crisp on the bottom.
  • In a 2 quart sauce pan heat ½ to 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat.
  • When the oil is heated enough, stir in onions and allow to cook slowly until soft and translucent.
  • While the onions are cooking peel and grate the carrot and prepare the corn kernels.
  • When the onions are ready, add the chicken broth, carrots, and corn; increase heat to high.
  • When the broth boils, add the rice, reduce heat to low, and simmer (roughly 20 minutes).
  • Heat 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large 12” non-stick frying pan or sauté pan over medium high heat. If you may trade off pan diameter with a pan of smaller diameter with higher sides.
  • While the oil heats, prepare the squash or you can prep it as your first step. Trim the ends off the squash. Slice each in half length-wise. Cut off the narrow end of the yellow squash, and cut into about ¾ inch dice. Cut the zucchini and the remaining yellow squash in half length-wise again. Dice into ¾ inch pieces. If your zucchini is too thin, adjust accordingly.
  • Press 1 clove of garlic into to the pan. (The garlic tells you when the pan is hot enough.)
  • Add the squashes to the pan and stir around.
  • While the squash cooks, prepare the shrimp. You can lightly season the shrimp with salt if you’d like.
  • Stir the squash as it cooks from time to time.
  • If the timing is working out correctly, when the rice has about 5 minutes to go, the squash should be ready. Place the squash in a bowl and set aside.
  • Add more olive oil to the pan (1 tablespoon) .
  • Press the second garlic clove into the pan and stir around.
  • Place the shrimp evenly in the pan. Cook on one side for about 1.5 – 2 minutes depending on size. Turn and cook for another minute.
  • Add the squash back into the pan.
  • Sprinkle the turmeric and coriander over the shrimp and squash. Toss them all together.
  • Add the rice to the pan and toss together well until all the rice is yellowed by the turmeric.
  • Distribute evenly in the pan and let cook a couple of minutes more so that the rice crisps a little at the bottom of the pan.
  • Serve.

Here is another dish that I made up on my own which is simple enough to make during the work week. Fresh zucchini is available all year but local zucchini can be found later in the summer in northern regions.

The quantities in this recipe are flexible depending on the size of the zucchini and how much spaghetti you like in a serving. For me, the recipe below makes two generous servings.

The cooking time for this dish is fairly quick and prep may be done while the water for the spaghetti is being heated. Part of the timing of this dish is dependent on how long the spaghetti takes to cook and how tender you like your pasta.IMG_0353

Oregano Chicken and Zucchini Tossed with Spaghetti – 1 Knife


  • 5 ounces dry spaghetti, thin spaghetti, or linguine
  • 2 small or one large zucchini sliced into ¼ – 3/8 inch circles or semicircles (for a large piece)
  • 1 pound (or less) boneless skinless chicken breast roughly cut into ½” dice
  • 2 cloves garlic crushed or minced
  • Dried oregano (plenty – 2+ tablespoons?)
  • Olive oil
  • Grated Parmesan cheese to taste (I like a lot on this dish)


  • Set a pot of water on the stove to come to a boil.
  • In the mean time, rinse and dry zucchini and trim off the ends. Slice up and set aside (use a plate or bowl to hold zucchini now and the cooked zucchini later).
  • Dice up the chicken breast and season with salt.
  • Peel two cloves of garlic. (mince if not using a garlic press)
  • Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large non-stick pan over medium high heat.
  • Press one garlic clove into pan and mix around with the oil.
  • Toss zucchini into the oil so all pieces are coated then try to arrange in a single layer.
  • Sprinkle zucchini with a generous amount of oregano. (see photo)IMG_0352
  • Put pasta in the water. Set timer.
  • After a 2-3 minutes turn zucchini over.
  • After 2 more minutes remove zucchini from the pan.
  • Put another tablespoon of oil into the pan.
  • Press in the 2nd garlic clove into the pan.
  • Add chicken to the pan and mix around so pieces are evenly spread.
  • Sprinkle chicken with a generous amount of oregano.
  • After a couple of minutes stir around the chicken. Continue to let chicken cook and occasionally stir the chicken around until it begins to caramelize. Stir in the zucchini; lower heat to low. At this point, the pasta should have two minutes or less remaining. (Raise heat on chicken if you need to speed the caramelization up.)
  • Drain the pasta. Pour a little olive oil into the pasta and mix it around.
  • Add to frying pan and toss everything together. Turn off heat.
  • Serve
  • Top with a generous amount of grated parmesan.

Here is a dish that I made up on my own. Whenever I make chicken soup, depending on how generous a bunch of dill I buy, there is usually a decent quantity that does not make it into pot. Hating to waste a fresh herb, I have made up some dishes to use the dill in.IMG_0327 cropped

In looking at the ingredients in the list below, you will notice that the measurements are imprecise. How much you use depends on how many people you are serving and how much spaghetti you consider to be a normal portion size. This dish as described will serve two to three people. Personally, I use 1/3 pound of raw shrimp per person and 2.5 ounces of dry spaghetti per person. If I am serving more than 3 people, I up the other quantities as well but you should avoid that until you are comfortable making this dish.

The cooking time for this dish is fairly quick so I like to prep all the ingredients in advance. Some of the prep can be done while the water for the spaghetti is being heated. Part of the timing of this dish is dependent on how long the spaghetti takes to cook and how tender you like your pasta.

Shrimp with Feta and Dill over Spaghetti – 1 Knife


  • 5 – 7.5 ounces dry spaghetti, thin spaghetti, or linguine (do not use whole wheat pasta)
  • 2/3 – 1 pound raw shrimp (whatever size you are comfortable with but not too large)
  • 2 -3 tablespoons Olive oil (extra virgin)
  • 1 15 ounce can petite diced tomatoes, drained
  • Juice from 1.5 – 2 lemons (depends on how juicy they are)IMG_0281
  • 3 or more cloves garlic minced (not pressed)
  • ½ cup or more chopped fresh dill
  • ½ cup or more crumbled feta


  • Peel and devein shrimp; remove tails.
  • Remove dill from stems, chop up and set aside.
  • Begin to heat the pot of water for the spaghetti.
  • Mince garlic, set aside.
  • Strain the can of tomatoes and set aside to drain.
  • Juice the lemons.
  • If your pasta takes 8 minutes to cook, as the spaghetti water nears a boil, preheat olive oil in a 10 – 12 inch pan, preferably non-stick, using medium high heat. If the pasta takes 11 minutes to cook, wait until the spaghetti is in pot before preheating the skillet. You also must know your pan and your stove. If your pan heats up quickly, allow less time for this step. You do not want to burn the oil.
  • When the water boils, add the pasta and set your timer .
  • Place the shrimp evenly in the pan. Cook on one side for about 1.5 – 2 minutes depending on size. Turn and cook for another minute.
  • Add lemon juice, tomatoes, and garlic. Stir.
  • Check the pasta timer. Depending on the amount of time left, adjust heat on the shrimp pan. You want the contents of the pan to come to a simmer by the time there is one minute left on the timer. I recommend leaving the heat as is and then once you see the sauce beginning to simmer, then you can lower the heat.
  • When the timer gets below on minute left stir in the dill.
  • Drain the spaghetti when it is ready. Distribute to plates or place in a large pasta bowl if serving family style.
  • Add feta to pan. Stir. Turn off heat and spoon shrimp and sauce over the pasta.

Oatmeal Strawberry Bread

Here’s a dessert I really enjoy and is simple to make.  While this site usually advocates using produce in season, here’s a recipe that is fairly forgiving if the strawberries are not at their peak – though of course, in season tastes better and costs less.  Also remember to clean your strawberries well as they are listed among the fruits with the highest levels of residual pesticides.  Beginners: slice off and discard the tops.

This is recipe is a mild variation on another web recipe but this time the changes are few but significant.  The original recipe calls for ¾ cup of vegetable oil.  Here I cut the oil in half and compensate by increasing the amount of strawberries.  Strawberries when they bake give off a lot of water so do not be concerned that your batter will be barely moistened when you add in the strawberries.  A note for dieters – even with cutting the oil in half, the entire recipe is about 2700 calories – which per serving (no matter how small you serve) is not slimming.IMG_0318

The other change is that I use an 8×8 pan rather than a loaf pan.  The best parts of this recipe are the top and the sides (the rest is very good too).  Also cooking in a flatter pan also reduces baking time and you do not get that gooey middle that sometimes forms when oil based breads take a few days to eat.  If you want, a 7×11 pan should work well too.  I find that many dessert breads turn out better in an 8×8 pan than a loaf pan.

Oatmeal Strawberry Bread – 1 Rolling pin


  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup oats (I have not tried the quick variety)
  • 1 cup white granulated sugar
  • ½ tablespoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 pound strawberries roughly chopped (about 3/8 “ dice +/-)


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease an 8×8 glass pan.
  • Stir together in a large bowl: flour, outs, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt
  • In a smaller bowl, whisk together the oil and the eggs until well mixed
  • Stir the oil-egg mixture into the dry ingredients until all the dry ingredients are moist
  • Fold (stir) in the strawberries
  • Place batter in the pan, spreading it out evenly
  • Bake in preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 50 – 60 minutes (check out 45 minutes if using a 7×11 pan).
  • Cool on a wire rack.

Bread Machine Challah

For those unfamiliar with Challah, it is a sweet egg bread which is a staple at Jewish holiday meals but enjoyed all the time.  Typically, it baked as a braided loaf or a round swirled loaf, both with shiny tops as a result of an egg-white wash prior to baking.  The recipe here differs from the typical challah by being made in a bread machine with its tall loaf shaped pan.  Another difference is that most store bought challahs are made without any dairy so that those who keep kosher can enjoy the bread with a meat meal.  This recipe contains butter and milk and is very delicious (I find the top 1.5 inches of the loaf to be heaven – almost as enjoyable as cheesecake).

Bread Machine Challah

Bread Machine Challah

I assume if you do not have a bread machine, you can combine the ingredients below and prepare it as you would any white bread.  In addition, many people enjoy adding ingredients.  Feel free to add a half cup of golden raisins (but possibly reduce the sugar content to compensate for the added sweetness of the raisins).  Some enjoy a little vanilla extract in their challah.For those with a bread machine, you know how simple making bread can be.  Place your wet ingredients in the pan first and then place the dry ingredients on top; let the machine do the rest.  I find with some bread machine recipes that the machine has some trouble combining all the ingredients together.  That is not the case here.

Bread Machine Challah – 1 Rolling pin


  • ¾ cup milk (I use ½% milk and have found using whole milk makes no difference)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1¼ teaspoons salt (approximate)
  • A pinch of saffron, crumbled (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, either melted or softened
  • 3½ cups bread flour
  • 1½ teaspoons dry yeast (not rapid rise)


  • Measure milk into a measuring cup and microwave to a slightly warm temperature (settings vary based on microwave strength – start with 20 seconds and go from there if needed)
  • Pour milk into the bread pan
  • Add the next 6 ingredients (though you might want to beat the eggs first)
  • Top with flour and yeast.  If you are starting the machine with a time delay, place the yeast on top so it does not come in contact with the wet ingredients.
  • Set bread machine to the standard white bread setting, 1½ pound loaf, light crust.  Start and wait (about 3 hours).
  • When done, remove from loaf pan to cool on a rack.  Try not cool in pan as the bread machine paddle may have trouble coming out.  You don’t have to let it cool too much before you can slice.  Who doesn’t love fresh, warm bread?  Enjoy!

Chicken Marsala

Chicken Marsala is a classic dish that is well liked and easy to make.  There are many ways to make it; I have several ways myself.  My varieties almost all have the same ingredients with the difference being how little effort you want to take and whether you want to serve it immediately or not.Plated Chicken Marsala

The recipe follows the common cooking approach of sautéing cutlets coated lightly with seasoned flour, followed by sautéing mushrooms and creating the sauce.  My little twist is that I add diced shallots to the mushrooms.  The variations come into play on the last steps.  Do I do it by the book by correctly sautéing the mushrooms, removing them from the pan, then adding the wine, letting it reduce way down, and then adding chicken stock?  Or do I just start sautéing the mushrooms and throw in the wine after a little while, then let it liquid reduce down until I think it’s ready?  Do I place the chicken in a glass baking dish and throw the sauce (not as reduced) over the top, cover, and place in the oven where the sauce will reduce down or get totally absorbed?  Or do I add butter or flour to the sauce to thicken it so I can serve immediately?  It’s ALL good though some are better.  Experiment.  Because it is a simple dish, over the course of the year try making it different ways until you find what works for you.

A minor note about the wine.  I never have measured the wine when I make this dish.  I just pour until I think it’s the right amount.  If you are uncomfortable with that idea, start with a cup and add more if you think you should.  And yes, I use the cheap marsala but you are welcome to buy a better grade of wine.

Chicken Marsala – 1 Knife


  • 1½ pounds boneless chicken breast
  • ¼ cup flour, seasoned with salt and pepper to taste
  • Olive oil (extra virgin)
  • ¼ cup diced shallot (1 moderate sized shallot)
  • ½ pound cremini mushrooms sliced (regular white mushrooms will work as well)
  • 1 cup Marsala wine
  • 1 cup chicken broth or stock (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons butter (optional)
  • 1-2 tablespoons flour combined with twice as much cold water to make a slurry (optional)


  • Peel and dice shallots and set aside
  • Clean and slice mushrooms and set aside
  • Using a sharp knife, trim the boneless chicken, then horizontally slice the chicken to achieve thinner pieces of a more uniform thickness (or thinness in this case).  You may want to cut some of the pieces in halves or thirds to get smaller, more manageable pieces.
  • In a non-stick skillet or pan, heat about 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium high heat – enough to sauté the chicken with.  This will vary depending on the size of the pan.  Add more oil before sautéing a second batch of chicken.
  • Dredge both sides of chicken pieces in flour, making sure the chicken is coated but make sure to shake or tap off any excess flour
  • Sauté chicken until lightly golden on each side.  Depending on thickness, you may need to cook a little longer.  Or if you are going to bake the chicken in the oven, you can err on the less done side since the chicken will be cooked further.  As each chicken piece finishes cooking, remove from the pan and place on a plate or a glass baking pan or casserole (if doing the oven approach).  Add more olive oil when you add new pieces to the pan.  Cover the plate with aluminum foil to keep the chicken warm while you prepare the rest. IMG_0213
  • Lower heat to medium.  If necessary, add a little more olive oil to the pan.  Add shallots to the pan, a sauté them for a couple of minutes to begin softening, at which time you can add the mushrooms.

Best flavor approach:

  • Sauté mushrooms until done.  Remove from pan (place on top of chicken for ease).
  • Turn heat to high and add wine.
  • Reduce to about ¼ cup
  • Add broth and heat to just boiling
  • Lower heat somewhat and stir in slurry, letting it cook a couple of minutes (optional)
  • Reduce heat to low and stir in butter until it melts and is blended in (optional) [the butter and/or slurry are used to thicken the sauce; how thick you want the sauce is a matter of taste; start with the 1 tbsp flour slurry mixture and the 2 tbsp butter, then adjust the next time you make the dish.]
  • If serving immediately, place the chicken and mushrooms back in the pan to warm back up a bit (a minute or two).  Then remove chicken and cover with sauce; extra sauce can be served on the side. IMG_0216
  • If baking, pour sauce over the chicken, cover the dish, and place in low oven until you are ready to serve.  Set oven temperature based on how soon you will be serving.  If an hour or more, then use a low oven (200°); if ½ hour or less, use 300-350° oven. [Hint: do not thicken sauce as much for this method.]

Simplistic approach:

  • Sauté mushrooms until they start to soften
  • Add wine and raise heat to high
  • If serving directly to plate,
    • Reduce liquid until you have the amount of sauce you want.
    • Lower heat a little and add slurry; cook a couple of minutes more so the sauce thickens.
    • Lower heat more and add chicken back to pan heat up and get coated
    • Serve
  • If serving baking in the oven,
    • When the mushrooms have softened and sauce has reduced somewhat, pour sauce over chicken.
    • Cover baking dish and place in a 300 degree oven for ½ hour or longer

I like to search for recipes on the internet.  One of the advantages of many internet recipes is that you can read the comments made by those who have already tried the recipe.  Not only do they tell how good the recipe is, but they also talk about changes or variations to the posted recipe that they have made.  And then there are the comments seconding or reviewing those changes.

The banana chocolate chip cake recipe posted here today epitomizes finding a well received recipe and adjusting it significantly based on the recommendations and feedback to the recommendations as well as my own experience baking.  The ingredients and/or quantities listed below vary from the original recipe so much that I have no trouble labeling the recipe my own.   Only 3 of the 11 ingredients are unvaried from the original recipe; even the pan is changed.

Now on to what matters: the cake.  Although I often try to make cakes recipes that use canola oil rather than butter, I cannot deny that butter makes a better tasting cake and this recipe uses butter – but not quite as much as the original recipe called for.  I also use low fat buttermilk, but you can substitute any variety of milk you prefer.  Since this cake is not frosted, you are not getting the overdose of saturated fat most cakes have.  As to the chocolate chips, try it with standard sized chips or the minis and please let us know which you enjoyed most.   All pertinent feedback is welcome.  You’re even welcome to guess which 3 ingredients are unaltered from the original recipe (and no, flour is not one of them).

Some cooking hints: I find the best way to mash bananas is to place them in a wide soup bowl and mash them with a fork.  Of course, this depends on how overripe your bananas are and the strength of your fork.  A nice feature of this cake is being able to visually tell when it is ready to come out of the oven.  Since the cake is not frosted you want the top to appear golden in color.  Yes, the toothpick may come out clean sooner but the extra minute or two to get that nice appearance is worth it and does not impact the result.



Banana Chocolate Chip Cake – 1 Rolling pin


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup white granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • ½ tablespoon baking soda (1.5 teaspoons)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup mashed bananas
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
  • ¼ cup low fat buttermilk
  • ½ cup semisweet chocolate chips


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease and flour a 9 inch round cake pan
  • In a large bowl, mix flour, sugars, baking soda, and salt
  • In a separate bowl, combine bananas, egg, melted butter, buttermilk, and vanilla extract
  • Stir the banana mixture into the flour mixture until blended.  Be careful not to over mix.
  • Stir in chocolate chips
  • Pour into 9 inch round pan.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean (see cooking hints above).
  • Remove cake from oven and allow the cake to cool before removing it from the pan.