Kitchen Wisdom

Roasting Olives and Toasting Friends

Last night Roberto and I attended a blind wine tasting hosted by a couple of our friends here in Virginia. The tasting part of the evening was really excellent – a fun excuse to sample multiple wines, debate your spouse about flavors and pretend not to be cheating while conversing with friends. We had a great time.

Like all the guests, we brought appetizers to accompany the wine. I wanted to make something simple but intriguing and found just the thing: roasted olives. What appealed to me is that the recipes I found took a familiar dish and made it more interesting. La Fuji Mama and Lindsay Olives gave me a good basis to start, but because this was our kitchen, there was a certain amount of improv. Here’s what we did:

  • 1 16oz jar Garlic Stuffed Olives
  • 1 16oz jar Pimento Stuffed Olives
  • 1 12 oz jar Kalamata Olives
  • 12 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 tbs Herbs de Provence
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1 lemon
  • Equipment: medium bowl, 13×9 casserole dish, serving bowl
  1. Preheat oven to 425.
  2. Drain the olives and put them in a medium bowl.
  3. Mix in the olive oil, garlic, and Herbs de Provence.
  4. Zest the lemon and add the zest to the mixture.
  5. Juice the lemon into the mixture and stir thoroughly.
  6. Spread the mixture in a 13×9 casserole dish
  7. Bake for 20 minutes.
  8. Allow to cool, then transfer to a serving bowl and serve at room temperature with crackers or alone.

Roberto did all the chopping, zesting and juicing and let me supervise. We loved the result and so did our friends. In this case we served them with crackers and made toothpicks available. Though our dish was enjoyed, there were enough leftovers to bring home. We chopped up some of the olives in our Cuisinart  and spread them on crackers for an afternoon snack. Oh, and we baked some of the chopped mixture on chicken breasts for dinner tonight…


Kitchen Wisdom

Garlic Lime No Tomato Tacos

Ok, actually this recipe is more of a skillet mash but the title sounds good, doesn’t it?

Here’s the super easy ingredient run down:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 pound ground meat, chopped chicken or canned fish
    I can’t wait to try this with salmon or tuna.
  • 3 tablespoons garlic
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 can mostly drained black beans – or pinto beans, or kidney beans. Basically any beans you have in the cupboard.

You will also want to have on hand some cooked rice, tortilla chips, or your favorite taco shells as well as whatever toppings you like.

Seven simple steps:

  1. Warm the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Sauté the onions for three to five minutes.
  3. Add the meat, garlic and lime juice.
  4. Mix meat, onion and spices well.
  5. Cook for five minutes, stirring as needed.
  6. Combine beans with mixture in skillet.
  7. Let simmer until meat is cooked thoroughly and beans are nicely warmed, about five to seven minutes.

20131013-123735.jpgNow you’re ready to serve this delicious mash over rice, in tacos, or with your favorite chips. Pasta might even be a fun variation.

That’s all it takes — some measuring, a little chopping and about fifteen or twenty minutes of cooking.

The nice thing about this recipe is that it can serve as a base for a meal with family members who have differing taste preferences. Just let each person add fun toppings like cheese, salsa, hummus, guacamole or hot sauce and everyone will be happy and well-fed.

Kitchen Wisdom Random Thoughts

Sunday Stovetop


I’m planning a nice Sunday dinner of roasted chicken, asparagus and onions with garlic. I’ll make enough for leftovers. But first there’s the weekly “cook ahead” — a couple of basic items like rice and beans that it helps to have cooked and on hand for easy meals later in the week.

What do you cook ahead?