Farmer’s Market Treasures for Italian Pasta Salad

recipe, pasta salad, veggies, organic, garlic, oregano, vinaigrette, vegetables, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, olives, broccoli, corn, cheese, edamame, peas, carrots
Farmer’s Market Treasures
Miller Farms – Organic

There’s still time to take advantage of those farmer’s market treasures for a delicious Italian Pasta Salad. If you’re from the Northern Colorado area, you may want to check out the Longmont Farmer’s Market. It’s open Saturdays 8:00 – 1:00 through November. The Italian Pasta Salad can be made as a side dish, or a full meal. I tend to beef it up to a full meal.

Recipe — Italian Pasta Salad


12 oz. dry gemelli pasta in a pot of boiling water according to the package instructions. Drain, rinse with cold water, and drain again. Gemelli pasta is a thicker Italian pasta. You may substitute what you have, especially if you can’t find it.

For the Salad:

As a side dish

recipe, pasta salad, veggies, organic, garlic, oregano, vinaigrette, vegetables, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, olives, broccoli, corn, cheese, edamame, peas, carrots
Farmer’s Market Treasures
Full Circle Farms – Organic
  • 2 cups seeded, chopped cucumbers
  • 2 cups halved cherry tomatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups halved marinated green olives
  • 1 cup shredded Pecorino Romano (3 oz.)
  • 1/3 cup diced red onion (Feel free to use green onions.)
  • Add the cooked gemelli pasta

This side dish makes 10 servings (10 cups).

Beefed up as a full meal:

recipe, pasta salad, veggies, organic, garlic, oregano, vinaigrette, vegetables, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, olives, broccoli, corn, cheese, edamame, peas, carrots
Farmer’s Market Treasures
Organic Broccoli

I omit the cucumbers and add:

  • peas
  • carrots
  • broccoli
  • cooked fresh corn
  • Asiago or Cheddar cheese chunks
  • cooked chicken, tuna, or cooked shrimp
  • dry roasted edamame

Choose your favorites!

In a large bowl, mix the cold drained pasta with the vegetables.

For the Garlic-Oregano Vinaigrette:
recipe, pasta salad, veggies, organic, garlic, oregano, vinaigrette, vegetables, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, olives, broccoli, corn, cheese, edamame, peas, carrots
Italian Pasta Salad
Garlic-Oregano Vinaigrette


  • 1/2 cup white wine vinegar (Feel free to use apple cider.)
  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil (To decrease the calories and add a little more bite, use 1/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil and increase your vinegar. I usually add Balsamic vinegar to my personal serving but not the whole batch as a matter of personal preference.)
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh oregano (Use dry if fresh is unavailable.)
  • 2 tsp. minced fresh garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. honey
  • 1 tsp. black pepper

Toss whisked vinaigrette with pasta salad.

Enjoy this delicious and healthy dish! What are your favorite veggies to add to a pasta salad?

Gluten Free – Turkey & Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash

dining, Highlands, North Carolina, Recipe
Dining Delight

Whether you have a gluten sensitivity or not, this recipe is a gluten free keeper — Turkey and Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash. A good friend of mine shared this tasty, low fat, nutrient rich meal that’s sure to leave you feeling satisfied.

acorn squash, recipe, gluten free, Turkey & Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash
Acorn Squash – Delicious Stuffed

This recipe serves 8 so feel free to double it or cut it in half.

  • 4 medium acorn squash, halved and seeded
  • 8 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • Kosher or fine sea salt, to taste (I typically cook without the added salt)
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 2 medium sweet apples, such as Pink Lady or Gala, peeled, cored, and
    Gluten Free, Recipe, Turkey & Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash
    Apples for Your Gluten Free Recipe – Turkey & Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash


  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 medium celery stalks, diced
  • 1/2 pound mushrooms, chopped
  • 4 medium garlic cloves, minced or finely grated
  • 2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
  • 3/4 cup blanched almond flour
  • 3 large egg whites, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Place the squash halves cut sides up on the baking sheets. Brush with 4 tablespoons of olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake 45-55 minutes, until tender when pierced with fork (and when top edges are nicely browned).

mushrooms, recipe, Turkey & Apple Stuffed Acorn Squash

In a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the turkey. Cook, breaking up with wooden utensil, until cooked through and no longer pink. Transfer to a large bowl. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil to the pan. Add apples, onion, celery, and mushrooms. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-6 minutes. Add garlic and poultry seasoning and stir 1-2 minutes. Transfer the mixture to the bowl with turkey. Stir to combine, then taste and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Stir in almond flour and egg whites.

When squash halves finish roasting, pile stuffing evenly into the halves. Return to the oven for 15 minutes. Serve warm.

Squash is a nutrient rich food we should all indulge in when we can. Do you have a good squash recipe to share? How about a gluten free one? Check out my Sweet & Sour Chicken — another gluten free keeper.

Thanksgiving — Turkey Dressing Through the Generations

Thanksgiving is upon us and it’s time for a very special side dish — my mother’s turkey dressing! I only treat myself to this guilty pleasure at Thanksgiving (and of course for leftovers) for very obvious reasons. However, among the many blessings I have to be thankful for, this is one I’d like to share for all to enjoy.


Modifications to the original recipe were made to reduce the saturated fat and salt content while retaining its delicious flavor. This has always been my favorite…

  • 1 package cubed seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 loaf bread (whole wheat or bran bread – “stale”).

    Thanksgiving, basket, autumn, bread, recipe
    Thanksgiving Basket
  • 1 container of chicken livers
  • 1 cooked turkey liver
  • Broth (boil the neck to make fresh broth, or use already prepared broth)
  • 1 tablespoon poultry seasoning.
  • 4 cups chopped celery
  • 4 cups chopped onion
  • 6 large eggs (beaten slightly).
  • pepper
  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Sautee onions and celery in olive oil, cook until soft then set aside.
  • Sautee chicken livers and turkey liver, cook until soft then set aside.

Advance timeline:

  • 3 days before — onion and celery
  • 2 days before — cook liver, neck, innards in chicken broth, low salt.
  • Dice the liver and add to the onion mixture in refrigerator. Save flavored broth for stuffing.
recipe, turkey, dressing, Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving Turkey — Dressing Through the Generations

Day of Meal:

  • Place bread in a large pan (Take 1/2 loaf of bread out a couple of days before and dry out.)
  • Wet bread with broth, add beaten eggs, butter/oil, liver, onions & celery. If done in advance, you will need to lightly heat mixture before adding to bread mixture (not too hot though or the eggs will cook).
  • If you stuff your turkey, do it just before baking and place it in a mesh stuffing bag. Bake according to the directions. Please note, it is critical to maintain proper internal safe cooking temperatures.

Certain foods or particular meals bring us “home” in tradition. This is one of mine… . What family recipe is one of yours that you would like to share?

Thanksgiving, recipe, turkey, dressing
Thanksgiving Day
                      Thankful for Every Blessing


Mr. Bugs Had It Right — Carrot and Cashew Soup

fall harvest, carrots, soup, recipe, ginger, carrot and ginger soup
Fall Harvest — Carrots

Mr. Bugs had it right! It’s the end of harvest season — at least in Colorado, and this Carrot and Cashew Soup recipe is delicious!

bunny, carrots, healthy, antioxidant
Mr. Bugs Had It Right — Carrots — A Healthy Choice

Before we get to the recipe, check out the skinny on carrots, a very versatile vegetable. It’s commonly eaten steamed, roasted, boiled, raw, and as an ingredient in many stews and soups. They are easy to grow and can be bought canned, frozen, fresh, and pickled.

Carrots – A Healthy choice

The carrot is a crunchy, sweet, aromatic vegetable that is a very healthy, popular vegetable high in Vitamin A (it provides 210% of an adult’s daily needs). Carrots also contain vitamin E, folate, potassium, manganese, magnesium, phosphorous, zinc and fiber. Evidence exists that vegetables and fruits high in antioxidants (carrots included) reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and cancer. Vision will also be restored by correcting Vitamin A deficiencies.

If you have an over abundance of carrots, you may ask, “What should I do?” A neighbor who has a garden of carrots shared a delicious soup recipe — Carrot and Cashew Soup (this is a favorite even of those who are not crazy about carrot soup).

colorful carrots, carrots, Carrot and Cashew Soup, recipe
Colorful Carrots
  • Carrots — 3 pounds chopped.
  • Chopped onions — 1 1/4 cup.
  • Cashews — 3/4 cup unsalted, unroasted.
  • Olive Oil – 2 TBS.
  • 3 crushed garlic cloves.
  • Vegetable stock or water (you may substitute with 3 cups of low sodium chicken broth and 3 cups of water) — 6 cups.
  • Soy milk (or what you prefer) — 2 1/2 cups.
  • Ginger root — 1 Tablespoon grated.
  • Black pepper to taste (optional).
  • Add the water or stock with the carrots to a sauce pan and bring to a boil.
    onions, carrot and cashew soup, recipe
    Onions for Carrot and Cashew Soup

    Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

  • Sautee the onions, garlic, and cashews in another pan in the 2 tablespoons of olive oil until the onions are soft and translucent.
  • Place the contents of both pans in a blender and puree until very smooth.
  • Return the puree to the saucepan and add the ginger, soy milk, and black pepper.
  • Garnish with toasted cashews, parsley, and yogurt.
Colorado, fall, Karen Van Den Heuvel
Karen Van Den Heuvel — Fall in Colorado

You may salt and pepper to taste (although I avoid the extra salt since Americans consume too much).

Let me know your thoughts after you try this delicious recipe!

Southern Tomato Pie — Add to Your Summer Delight

Southern Tomato Pie, pie, farmers market
Southern Tomato Pie — A Summer Delight

Southern Tomato Pie is a delicious way to top off your summer! Savory, not sweet, take advantage of your garden or your local farmers market. Mouth watering fresh tomatoes and sweet Italian basil fill this pie along with a variety of cheeses. It makes a great side dish or a Vegetarian main dish — your choice.


  • 1 9-inch pie shell (store bought or homemade)
  • 3-4 tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup red or yellow onion chopped

    sweet Italian Basil, garden, herbs, farmers market
    Sweet Italian Basil — Home Grown or Farmers Market Fresh
  • 1/4 cup sliced basil (about 7-8 large leaves) — If you don’t have fresh, feel free to use dry.
  • 2 cups (8 oz.) of shredded cheese (use a combination of sharp cheddar cheese and Mozzarella, Monterey Jack, or Gruyere)
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise (reduced fat preferred)


  • 1 tsp Hot Sauce if you like it hot (if not, skip this ingredient)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (Note: Used to remove additional liquid from the tomatoes. Cheese has a lot of naturally occurring salt. Generally, after squeezing the tomatoes, I do not use salt.)


To prepare the tomatoes:
tomatoes, vegetables, fresh
Fresh Ripe Tomatoes
  • horizontally cut them in half,
  • squeeze to ensure the removal of excess juice,
  • chop to yield about 3 cups.
    • If using salt, lightly salt the tomatoes and set them in a colander over a bowl to drain.
    • Note: Remove as much moisture as possible. Squeeze or press with paper towels, potato ricer, or a clean dish towel.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F:

Pre-bake the pie crust until browned lightly (about 8 to 10 minutes — a frozen pie crust may take a little longer). You may want to poke holes in the bottom with a fork to vent.

Layer the pre-baked pie shell:
  • Start with a layer of chopped onions on the bottom of the pre-baked pie crust,
  • spread the chopped, drained tomatoes over the onions, then
  • sprinkle the fresh sweet Italian basil over the tomatoes.
Prepare cheese mixture:
  • Mix together the shredded cheese, mayonnaise, hot sauce (if used), and black pepper in a medium sized bowl.
  • Spread this cheese mixture over the the tomatoes & basil.

Place Tomato Pie in the oven and bake at 350 degrees F until bubbly and browned. This usually takes between 25 and 45 minutes.

Visiting the Highlands, North Carolina area?

Southern Tomato Pie, tomatoes, basil,
Dusty’s Rhodes Superette
Highlands, N.C.
Serving Delicious Southern Tomato Pie

Enjoy breakfast or lunch at Dusty’s Rhodes Superette, a wholly owned family operation since 1952. The original owners built this market with an attached apartment where current owners, Dusty and Kitty were born. With fresh produce, meats, specialty foods, a bakery, deli and more, it’s a great place to stop, shop and enjoy a meal. They also make a delicious Tomato Pie!

market, dining, breakfast, lunch, Highlands, NC
Dusty’s Rhodes Superette
Highlands, N.C.

The Ultimate 5 Week Bran Muffins

5 Week Bran Muffin, Fresh Fruit
The Ultimate 5 Week Bran Muffins

The Ultimate 5 Week Bran Muffins are not only delicious, but they are healthy as well. Food does not have to be high in fat, salt, and sugar to be scrumptious. With the summer months upon us and the farmer’s markets at their best, we can take advantage of the succulent fruit rich in vitamins and minerals that are available to us. Most will do for this easy, flavorful, healthy muffin that can be eaten for breakfast or dessert as a healthy alternative. The particular muffins shown in these photos have Georgia peaches, blueberries, bananas, apples and walnuts. You can use whatever fresh fruit you enjoy and is available (or a combination).


5 Week Bran Muffins, bananas, blueberries, walnuts, peaches, apples
5 Week Bran Muffins — Perfect for Breakfast or Dessert.Ingredients
  • 1 (15 oz.) box Raisin Bran
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 1/2 cup granulated Splenda (if you do not wish to use Splenda, increase the sugar for a total of 2 1/2 cups)
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3 cups whole wheat graham flour
  • 5 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, apple pie spice, or pumpkin pie spice
  • 4 beaten eggs
  • 1 cup canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 quart buttermilk


  1. Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Add beaten eggs, oil, and buttermilk to the well mixed dry ingredients.
  3. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Tip: I generally use a 3 cup cereal bowl to make a batch at a time.

Farmer's Market, Fresh Fruit
Farmer’s Market – Fruit


To this batter, you may add approximately 1/2 cup of your favorite diced fruit — fresh (or frozen) like peaches, apples, mashed ripe bananas, and blueberries. Walnuts make a delicious and healthy addition.



  • Fill greased muffin tins 2/3 of the way or bake in muffin baking paper cups.
  • Bake at 400 degrees for 15 – 20 minutes. If they get too brown bake at 375 for 25 minutes.

    Bran Muffins, Dessert, Breakfast, Party Snack
    Healthy & Delicious 5 Week Bran Muffins — Perfect as a Dessert, Breakfast, and Party Snack

You may use the entire batter to make the muffins all at once and freeze some for later (they freeze beautifully), or make what you want to eat that day and refrigerate the batter for the next time you want a warm muffin fresh out of the oven. The batter should last up to approximately 5 weeks in the refrigerator.

The Ultimate 5 Week Bran Muffins have been a favorite of ours. It packs a healthy, tasty punch few could deny.

Farmer’s Market Fresh — Salsa Recipe

Farmer's Market Fresh
Vegetables and Fruits — Rick in Vitamins

There is nothing better than the fresh produce available from your local farmer’s market. Typically it’s picked fresh that day and is rich in vitamins, minerals, and flavor. It also gives us the opportunity to support our local businesses. Check out my prior post —  Vitamins – Storage In the Body and Out.

Recipe - Farmer's Market Fresh SalsaThis salsa recipe is an easy and great way to enjoy fresh produce. Feel free to double it or triple it based on the number of people you plan to serve.

Ingredients for Farmer’s Market Fresh Salsa
Garlic & Tomatoes Farmer's Market Fresh
Garlic and Tomatoes
  • 1 cup of diced fresh tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup of fresh corn kernels
  • 1/2 cup of diced onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh cilantro
  • Salt to taste — Americans tend to consume far more salt than is necessary or healthy. When I make the salsa, do not use salt, however, I do realize that most people prefer it.


Directions — Putting it all together
Farmer's Market Fresh
Jerusalem Shuk – Breads

Combine all the ingredients. Serve with your choice of fresh vegetables, tacos, corn chips, nano chips, pita chips, baked or toasted french bread, or anything else that your heart desires.

Karen in Cornfield
Karen in Cornfield

I love sweet corn and have tried cooking it every way imaginable to ensure the sweetest, most delicious taste. Boiling corn probably does it the most injustice, although it may be the easiest. I grilled it shucked and wrapped in foil, not shucked and wrapped in foil, and right on the grill, without shucking it. Then, a farmer told us we were “wrecking” our corn and shared the secret…. You soak the corn in water with the husk on for 30-45 minutes then wrap each ear in foil and grill each side for about 7 minutes. You will have the most succulent, sweetest corn you have ever tasted. As an added plus, it freezes beautifully (I take it off the cob) and enjoy that summer sweetness throughout the winter.

What is your favorite summertime recipe?

Italian Orzo Soup

Italian Orzo Soup is one of my favorite low-calorie meals. It is very healthy with a taste that cannot be denied — simply delicious. Even my nieces love it (and they don’t like soup)! An added bonus is the prep time involved – truly minimal.


Fresh Oregano
Fresh Oregano
  • Olive oil – 1 tablespoon
  • Lean ground chicken or turkey (at least 93% lean) – 12 ounces
  • Chopped oregano (1 tablespoon fresh chopped or 1/2 tablespoon dried)
  • Mushrooms (cremini or what is available) – 4 ounces
  • Garlic – 5 cloves, chopped

    Garlic & Tomatoes
    Garlic & Tomatoes
  • Unsalted chicken broth – 3 cups
  • Water – 2 cups
  • Petite diced tomatoes – 1 (15 ounce) can
  • Whole wheat orzo pasta – 3/4 cup uncooked
  • Spinach – 3 cups fresh
  • Lemon rind – 1/2 teaspoon grated

  • Red pepper (if you like it spicy) – 1/2 teaspoon


Heat a large Dutch oven if you have it (or a pot if you don’t) over a medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and swirl to coat. When the oil gets hot, add the lean ground chicken or turkey and then cook until browned. Make sure you stir to make sure the meat is crumbled. Add the sliced mushrooms, oregano and chopped garlic; sauté for 5 to 7 minutes. Add the chicken stock, water, red pepper (if you like it spicy), and diced tomatoes. Keep scraping the pan to loosen the browned bits and the bring the mixture to a boil. Add the orzo pasta and cook for about 7 minutes. Stir in the ground lemon rind and fresh spinach and then cook for another 5 minutes.

Italian Orzo Soup
Italian Orzo Soup

This recipe serves 4 (I usually double it) and each serving size (2 cups) is approximately 322 calories. Enjoy!

Sweet and Sour … Gluten Free

Enjoy an easy-to-prepare healthy entree you can customize for your taste/needs. You’ll notice that I do not add salt. Most of our sodium intake is considerably higher than the F.D.A.’s daily recommended intake which contributes to health problems in a significant number of people (more on this later). I also did not add quantities to this particular recipe. That’s because you can make as much or as little as you wish. My preference is to make more than what we’ll need so I can freeze a meal for later use. It helps in a crunch and avoids the easy, high calorie way out of stopping by a fast food restaurant.

Sweet & Sour Ingredients
Sweet & Sour Ingredients
  • Your choice: chicken, pork, beef, or tofu
  • Vegetables: broccoli, corn, snow peas, carrots, onions, mushrooms (and any others you enjoy)
  • Pineapple
  • Sweet & Sour Sauce (check for any ingredients you may be sensitive to on the label)
  • Hot Sauce if you like it spicy
  • Rice: I prefer an organic wild medley, however, choose your favorite (keep in mind that whole grain is always better than white)
Sweet & Sour in Pot
Sweet & Sour in Pot

Precook your chicken, pork, or beef and set it aside. Chop the vegetables in bite size pieces. In season, I prefer fresh, but fresh vegetables lose their vitamin potency with time, so if it’s off season, use frozen or canned. Sauté the vegetables until tender but firm, not mushy. You may want to start with the carrots since they tend to take a little longer and are the only vegetable where the availability of a vitamin actually improves upon cooking (Vitamin A). Add the rest of the vegetables, pineapple, sweet and sour sauce. Finish by adding the meat/tofu. Dole out a healthy serving size (1 cup of the vegetable/meat mixture and 1/2 cup of cooked rice).