Grilled Patty Pan and Yellow Squash with Fresh Tomato Sauce: Appetizer, Side, or Main

It’s not unusual for a friend, student, family member, or neighbor to ask me to cook something — happens on a fairly regular basis. I’m known to oblige whether it’s food for a funeral lunch or a favorite pie they’d like for dessert. Occasionally there’s a request to figure out how to cook a certain dish or food. It might take me a while, but I’m typically up for the challenge. Not long ago, old friend Helen Brockman (at left) asked if I could come up with a new way to cook patty pan squash. She’d even bring some over. “Sure,” I said; “why not?”

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Tarragon Vinaigrette (French Tarragon Class, Part 3)

To make the Zucchini-Tomato Salad, layer thinly sliced zucchini+tomatoes in a circle, add flaky salt, fresh ground black pepper and drizzle with my Tarragon Vinaigrette. For best taste, cover and refrigerate for an hour or two before serving.

This is the third recipe from my French Tarragon Cooking Class. If you’re interested in the other two recipes, here they are:


Not far from our house in Colorado Springs are three yummy “French” restaurants whose names each contain the words, “La Baguette.” It may be that when we first moved to the city they were owned by the same person, though I think they no longer are. We have plain old La Baguette, in Old Colorado City, which is not only the cafe but also a top-notch bakery — still for all 3 locations, I think — and is closest to me. Then there’s La Baguette and Espresso Bar downtown on Pike’s Peak, but only a stone’s throw away. Last, but certainly not least, is La Baguette French Bistro a few miles to the north and east on Chestnut, which is all decked out with Parisian memorabilia and is a favorite “girls” lunch spot, though husband Dave and I have been known to hit them up for dinner occasionally. While the très tasty menus are these days varied from place to place, in my memory at least, they all still serve up a fresh-fresh side salad — just greens — that comes with a lovely tarragon vinaigrette. Tarragon vinaigrette is nothing more than a basic vinaigrette with fresh tarragon added.

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Cornish Hens with Cranberry Cornbread-Brown Rice Dressing: Thanksgiving for One or Two

Printable recipe and an “Elevator” Version below

I always forget about Cornish hens and then when I make them, I can’t believe I let so much time go by without putting these festive little birds on the menu. They’re quick, inexpensive, and versatile — especially when you’re cooking for one or two for Thanksgiving. If you don’t want to go to the trouble of a bunch of side dishes, you can even cook your potatoes and vegetables such as carrots, onions, halved Brussels sprouts, chunks of zucchini, or diced butternut squash right in the pan with them. I include directions for the easy carrots and spinach from the photo in the printable recipe. And even cooler is the simple pan sauce stirred up in the roasting pan while the hens rest and you pour the wine. No Good Gravy! worries. While a one-pan Thanksgiving always sounds nigh unto impossible, you can actually do it if that’s your druthers. That’s an easy clean up, too. On your own this year? I’d still advise cooking two Cornish hens … you want leftovers, right? I mean, the best part of Thanksgiving is the I-don’t-have-to-cook next day sandwich with mayo on white bread. Right after the pumpkin pie for breakfast, that is. Don’t skip the whipped cream.

Check out Perdue Farms’ THE ULTIMATE GUIDE/How to Cook Cornish Hens if you’d like to grill, slow cook, fry, smoke or…your birds.

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Salad Class: How to Up Your Game in 3 Easy Ways — Part 3, STYLE!

Post and recipe Did you know arugula is an herb and one of the most nutritional greens to eat?

Readers’ Note: This is the 3rd and last segment (STYLE!) of a three-part blog cooking class about making your salad a better place to eat!  Click on the red links below to read the other two segments and come chopping with me to make your newest stellar salad! While this class is pretty much do-it-yourself, I welcome comments, emails, photos, etc., to keep us in closer touch — even when we’re all in our own kitchens! Salad on, my friends.

“No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers.” 

― Laurie Colwin

3. STYLE!  MAKE IT LOOK LIKE YOU WANT TO EAT IT! “Wow, that looks good!”

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Salad Class: How to Up Your Game in 3 Easy Ways — Part 2, SEASONINGS

Recipe and post here for GRILLED ZUCCHINI AND CORN SALAD (another colorful mixture of cooked and fresh veggies with fresh herbs)

Readers’ Note: This is the 2nd and middle segment (SEASONINGS) of a three-part blog cooking class about making your salad a better place to eat!  Click on the red links below to read the other two posts and come chopping with me to make your newest stellar salad. While this class is pretty much do-it-yourself, I welcome comments, emails, photos, etc., to keep us in closer touch — even when we’re all in our own kitchens. Salad on, my friends.

“No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers.” 

― Laurie Colwin

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SALAD CLASS…How to Up Your Game in Easy Ways — SUBSTANCE, SEASONING, AND STYLE. Part 1: Substance

Mixed cooked/fresh ingredients give your mouth a break from chewing + create the interest your eye and stomach crave.

Every year about this time, there’s a flurry of interest in fresh and easy meals — which translates to, “Let’s just have a salad.” (It happens on January 2, too!) I’m all for that, but I’d skip the word, “just,” and shout out, “SALAD!” Out of all the cooking classes I’ve taught over the last 12 years, there are the most questions about salads: what goes in them, how to make a vinaigrette, what kind of oil to buy, the sort of salt I like, and how to make salad a meal. In fact, I taught a two-hour class about making salad a couple of years ago and the fun we had together still resonates whenever I think about it. Folks want a great salad; they want easy and fresh, healthful meals, but they’re often a bit stuck in their I-buy-this-every-week greens and goodies. This summer, I decided it’s time to organize an online lesson on salad savvy and give you the skinny on how to bring it all together. As the information I wanted to share was entirely too much for one blog post, I’ve divided it into three (simultaneously published) posts so that you can read them all in a row if you like–or not– and then it’s off to the farmer’s market, the deck, the store, or backyard garden for you to get started! Click on the red links below and come chopping with me to make your newest stellar salad!

  • SUBSTANCE — Part 1 (This post–all about ingredients.)
  • SEASONINGS — Part 2 (Next post on blog–spices, herbs, oil, vinegar, dressings, balance, etc. )
  • STYLE! — Part 3 (The last post in a row of the 3 — what makes you say, “Wow, that looks good!”)

While this class is pretty much do-it-yourself, I welcome comments, emails, photos, etc., to keep us in closer touch — even when we’re all in our own kitchens!

“No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers.” 

― Laurie Colwin
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It’s Too Hot to Cook. So Don’t. (plus what I’m missing/not missing)

just add #rosé or a cold beer

CLOCKWISE FROM BOTTOM LEFT CORNER: Kalamata olives, hummus, potato chips, tortilla chips, sliced cucumbers, Triscuit Thin Crisps, sweet cherries, Green Chile-Pimento cheese, baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, guacamole, and onion dip.

Americans, in the heavy heat of summer, are known for flocking to cold-cold air-conditioned restaurants for dinner–and staying a while. Maybe a long while. (Like until it cools off at home.) I mean, who’s going to turn that stove on when it’s that warm? Even if you have AC (and a lot of Americans do), it makes no sense to make that blessed machine work any harder now, does it? In Covid-Time, though, quite a few of us are still not going to restaurants–at least not to sit inside. We may do drive-throughs or pick-ups, but restaurant dining rooms are still kinda high up on the scale of risk factors. In some places, they’re closed again. Let’s face it, I’m thinking it almost sounds as if it’s not quite worth it, despite my desperately wanting to support my fave local eateries. And even if we do go, we can’t stay there; that’s only fair. There are fewer tables and, in restaurant parlance, “They need to turn.” In other words, you need to eat and git. Drink and run. Maybe, until a few more things move around, it’s still better to spend most dinnertimes at home. Yeah. As in the past four months.

Save Restaurants — read up here.

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Fast Teriyaki Salmon Bowl

Serve with hot green tea.

Over the past five years, “bowls” have become a happily standard feature on American restaurant menus. Most feature some sort of grain (rice, quinoa, grits, barley), a well-seasoned protein, mixes of fresh and cooked vegetables, perky and tasty garnishes, and, of course, a stand out, distinctive sauce. While nearly anything goes into a bowl these days — including traditional Mediterranean or Mexican ingredients — I often find myself leaning toward the Asian-inspired varieties and am happiest if the cooks are fairly heavy-handed with the soy sauce, please.

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Lemon and Garlic Chicken with Parmesan Vegetables–How and Why to Roast a Whole Chicken at Home this Week!

While chicken often tops the list of dinner ingredients in the U.S., (“Winner, winner, chicken dinner!” or “A chicken in every pot!”) it doesn’t take much to figure out those meals today are often based on ubiquitous, tasteless boneless chicken breasts instead of the flavorful cage-free chickens Herbert Hoover supposedly wanted for us. The American obsession with huge chicken breasts (hmph) is a sad one and continues for many reasons–one being it’s easy to not remember where meat comes from if you only have a slab of it and no fat, bones, joints, tendons, guts, or skin. I’ve had more than one adult student who, faced with putting a whole chicken (already cut up, by the way) in a skillet to brown for a tasty fricassée, admitted they had never before handled a chicken with bones. I, on the other hand, almost never buy boneless breasts, though I’ll admit I adore boneless thighs for everything from sandwiches to chili. There are several reasons–the main one being the taste factor–but here’s the critical other one. Because we demand outrageous and overwhelming numbers of inexpensive low-fat, protein rich boneless breasts (just try to buy bone-in breasts in today’s market) compared to other parts, chickens today are often–though not always– raised in incredibly poor and horrific conditions by inhumanely treated workers. How’d that come to be???

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Horseradish Pot Roast and Vegetables with Gravy + Vegetable-Beef Soup from the Leftovers

There are no potatoes in this version, but add them if you like. I stuck with parsnips, turnips, carrots, onions, garlic, and Brussels sprouts.

Returning home from a week’s vacation is always a bit disconcerting. To begin with, there are the myriad elements of travel and all its interesting, but occasionally unsettling features…

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