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Christmas Lima Bean and Chicken Soup

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAChristmas Lima Bean and Chicken Soup

I love to make homemade soup during the cold winter months here in Southern Oregon. Several weeks ago I received a bag of dried Christmas Lima Beans as a gift from my uncle and aunt.  I’ve never seen or heard of Christmas Lima Beans before, so naturally, I was really excited to try them.  Christmas Lima Beans are an heirloom variety of Lima Beans that have a lovely white and rust speckled color.  I was surprised to see that they are larger than the traditional white Lima beans that I know and love.  They hold their shape nicely and they darken in color slightly when cooked.


I had no idea how uncommon these big beautiful beans were. I’ve never seen this variety of legume locally in Southern Oregon and after doing some research, I found that I can purchase them online from a grower in the Southern California area. The fact that they are a heirloom variety and non GMO make them complete winners in my book.  One day, when Bruce and I have adequate garden space, I will be planting a few long rows of these amazingly delicious beans. 

My Christmas Lima Bean and Chicken Soup is really easy to make.  It’s hearty, healthy and most of all delicious!  Feel free to substitute the common white Lima beans if you don’t have access to the Christmas Lima beans. Enjoy!  Tessa


  • 2 cups Christmas Lima Beans (soaked in water overnight, picked over and rinsed well)
  • 2 cups chopped leeks
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1/2 pound cooked chopped chicken (I used boneless skinless chicken thighs)
  • 1 1/2 qt chicken stock (or more as desired)
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 – 2 tsp garlic paste
  • salt and pepper to taste

Place a heavy bottomed pot on medium high heat add leeks, onion, celery and  carrots.  Cook until onions are opaque, taking care not to burn.  Turn down to medium low heat, add the Christmas Lima Beans, 1 1/2 quarts of chicken stock, thyme, coriander, garlic paste and pepper. Cover and cook with a gentle simmer for a about an hour.  Add cooked chicken and salt to taste towards the end of the cooking process.  Cook until beans are tender.  Taste and correct your seasonings. Makes about 8 servings.

Grilled Thai Turmeric Chicken


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGrilled Thai Turmeric Chicken

If you ever wanted to know what my top ten favorite spices or herbs were, turmeric would definitely be on that list.  I love cooking with turmeric.  Turmeric’s vibrant yellow color and earthy, pungent and ginger like flavor marries so nicely with dishes that contain chicken, beef, eggs, tofu, vegetables and rice.  For those who are unfamiliar with this spice, turmeric can be purchased in either dried or in fresh rhizome form.


Notice the bright yellow color of ground turmeric?  Next time, be sure to add a few teaspoons to your favorite stir fry!


When selecting fresh turmeric, be sure to look for unbruised, firm, and smooth skinned rhizomes.  Fresh turmeric packs more flavor that dried. However, dried turmeric is much more common and easier to find.  There’s no shame in using dried turmeric.  I buy mine in bulk all the time.

My Grilled Thai Turmeric Chicken is an easy to make yet, an exotic tasting dish. It’s made with succulent boneless skinless chicken thighs marinated overnight in a fragrant turmeric spice blend with sweet brown sugar, coriander, garlic, white pepper, fish and soy sauces.  I like to serve it alongside a scoop or two of fluffy white rice and some thinly sliced cucumbers.  It’s simply delicious!  Enjoy!  Tessa


  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 5 tsp garlic paste
  • 2 Tbs brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 Tbs fish sauce
  • 1 1/2 Tbs light soy sauce
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp ground white pepper
  • garnish with fresh cilantro sprigs

Add all of the ingredients to a covered container and refrigerate the chicken mixture at least four hours or overnight.  Toss the chicken on a medium hot barbecue grill or grill pan and discard the marinade.  Be watchful of the chicken, turning occasionally, being careful not to burn. Cook until the juices run clear or the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 170 degrees Fahrenheit. Makes 8 servings.

Oregon Blackberry Salad with Beets & Carrots

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOregon Blackberry Salad with Beets and Carrots

Oregon is widely known for both its cultivated and wild blackberries. Here in Southern Oregon, wild blackberries can be found along roadsides, on fences, and on the banks of creeks and rivers.  In some places, there are so many blackberry vines that some people consider them to be noxious weeds and try removing them completely from their property or backyards.  By mid to late summer the local Southern Oregon blackberries are ripe and ready to pick. Something to consider when using blackberries in any of your favorite recipes is knowing that the cultivated berries tend to be bigger in size, are slightly sweeter and can be a bit a juicier than their wild counterparts. Whether they are cultivated or wild, blackberries are wonderfully versatile little fruits that taste simply amazing.


One of my favorite ways to use blackberries is to make a sweet and tangy blackberry vinaigrette and drizzle it on my Oregon Blackberry Salad with Beets and Carrots.  My Oregon Blackberry Salad is a colorful combination of some of the best local ingredients that I can find during the hot summer months.  The sweet juicy blackberries combined with the earthiness of red beets and crunchy carrots makes it a stunningly vibrant summer salad.  My Oregon Blackberry Salad with Beets and Carrots is easy to make, and tastes absolutely fantastic! Enjoy! Tessa

Blackberry Vinaigrette Ingredients:

  • 1 cup fresh picked blackberries
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbs honey
  • 1 Tbs shallots (minced)
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • pinch of salt and fresh cracked pepper or to taste
  • 1 Tbs water if needed

In a blender, add the blackberries, red wine vinegar and pulse until smooth. Add 1 tablespoon of water if the blackberry vinegar mixture is too thick. Remove from blender and strain through a fine mesh sieve into a bowl in order to remove the seeds. Discard seed mixture. Add to olive oil, honey, Dijon mustard, minced shallots, salt and pepper into the blackberry mixture to the bowl and whisk until well incorporated.  Taste and correct your seasonings. Store the blackberry vinaigrette in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator for up to a week. Makes 1 cup or 8 servings.

For one salad:

  • 2 cups fresh green lettuce or your favorite greens
  • 1/4 cup fresh blackberries
  • 1/4 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/4 cup shredded beets
  • 1 – 2 Tbs Blackberry Vinaigrette (see recipe above)
  • fresh cracked pepper (optional)

Assemble the lettuce on a salad plate.  Arrange the shredded carrots and beets over the bed of lettuce and top with the blackberries.  Drizzle with blackberry vinaigrette.

Smoked Steelhead Chowder


I’ve said it before and I can’t help but say it again.  I love living in the Rogue Valley of Southern Oregon.  And, if you have a few minutes, I’ll give you three reasons why.  First of all, it’s a beautiful place. There are mountains, lakes, and rivers just minutes away.  Second, it’s not crowded like large metropolitan cities such as Portland or Seattle.  You can drive 20 minutes in any direction and end up somewhere in the beautiful Southern Oregon countryside.  Third, I think that it has the best of both worlds.  There’s plenty of outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing and camping and also there’s the nearby Oregon Shakespeare Festival, dozens of vineyards and microbreweries, and a number of wonderful restaurants that feature spectacular local ingredients.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Rogue River in Southern Oregon

I always love visiting the Rogue River.  Whether it be for hiking along the banks, rafting or my favorite river activity, fishing.  One day on my lunch hour, I briefly stopped by the Rogue River near Touvelle State Park and decided to snap a few photos.  It was a bit overcast that afternoon but the temperature was nearly perfect.  Not too hot, not too cold.  Looking down at the river from the top of the bridge, it’s easy to imagine large fish swimming in the cold deep water below the surface.  And, if you are lucky, you might even see one!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA fly fisherman on the Rogue River

Many types of fish inhabit the Rogue River.  There’s steelhead trout, Chinook salmon, rainbow trout, green sturgeon, coho salmon, and so many more species of fish.  My two favorites are steelhead trout and Chinook salmon.  I prepare those varieties of fish quite often for my family.  As a matter of fact, I serve fish for my family at least once a week.  When selecting fish, I prefer to prepare wild caught fish as opposed to farm raised fish.  In my opinion, the flavor is better, there are no chemicals or additives, no color enhancements or antibiotics.  If given a choice between wild and farm raised fish, the decision is easy.  Wild caught fish is your best bet.


My Smoked Steelhead Chowder is a deliciously creamy soup made with smoky bacon, roasted russet potatoes, tender onion, fresh  thyme and a splash of heavy cream.  It’s prepared similarly to a  New England style clam chowder but with smoked tender steelhead instead.  It’s great with a slice of warm crusty bread, a crispy green salad or a hot grilled sandwich.  If you are not able to obtain smoked steelhead where you live, feel free to substitute the smoked steelhead with some good quality smoked salmon instead.  Enjoy!  Tessa


  • 1/4 pound Smoked Steelhead Trout (skin and bones removed, chopped coarsely)
  • 5 cups Milk
  • 1/2 cup Heavy Cream
  • 2 Tbs. Butter
  • 1/3 cup Flour
  • 2 Tbs. Tomato paste
  • 1 pound Russet Potatoes – peeled and diced
  • 1 large White Onion – peeled and diced
  • 4 oz. Bacon – chopped
  • 1 tsp. fresh Thyme
  • 1 – 2 tsp. Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp. Seasoning Salt (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp. Old Bay Seasoning (or to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp fresh ground Black Pepper (or to taste)
  • fresh minced Parsley for garnish

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  On a sheet tray or baking pan toss together diced potatoes, diced onions, 1 to 2 tsp. olive oil and seasoning salt.  Arrange potatoes and onions in a single layer to ensure even cooking.  Bake until the potatoes and onions begin to turn golden brown or about 30 minutes.  Remove from oven and set aside.

Meanwhile, grab a large heavy pot and place it on the stove.  Turn burner to medium high heat.  Add chopped bacon and cook until the bacon is crispy.  Remove bacon with slotted spoon and set aside.  Turn down heat to low, add 2 Tbs. butter and 1/3 cup flour to the remaining bacon fat to make a blonde roux.  Whisk flour mixture constantly, taking care not to burn, and cook until a very light golden brown.  Whisk 5 cups milk and 2 Tbs. tomato paste and cook until almost ready to boil, whisking constantly.  Add smoked steelhead, bacon, potatoes, onions, 1 tsp. fresh thyme, 1 tsp. Old Bay Seasoning.  Cook, stirring often, until the mixture has thickened and the flour taste has disappeared, for about 1/2  hour.  Add heavy cream, taste and correct your seasonings. Ladle into bowls and garnish with chopped smoked steelhead trout and fresh minced parsley.  Makes about 2 quarts or 8 servings.

Indonesian Grilled Chicken


If you are looking for a simple to make and yet an exotic tasting way to prepare chicken, then you are in for a real treat.  Indonesian grilled chicken is also called Ayam panggang or ayam bakar.  There are so many versions of it, ranging from sticky and sweet, to hot and spicy.  My version of Indonesian Grilled Chicken tends to be on the sweet side, for my chicken is marinated in sweet Indonesian soy sauce, ginger, garlic, coriander, turmeric and white pepper. It’s similar to my chicken satay recipe but without all the fuss of chopping and threading the meat onto bamboo skewers.  It’s super easy to make and tastes fantastic!  Serve with a scoop or two of steamed white rice, sliced cucumber and for those who love fiery food, add a teaspoon or two of sambal oelek in the marinade or serve it on the side.  Enjoy!  Tessa


  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 1/8 cup Kecap Manis (Indonesian Sweet Soy Sauce)
  • 2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 – 2 tsps. ground turmeric
  • 1 – 2 tsps. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. or one clove minced garlic
  • 1/8 tsp. white pepper (or to taste)
  • 1 Tbsp. water (optional, to thin marinade)
  • 2 tsp. sambal oelek (optional)

Add all of the ingredients to a covered container and refrigerate the chicken mixture at least four hours or overnight.  Toss the chicken on a medium hot barbecue grill and discard the marinade.  Be watchful of the chicken, turning occasionally, being careful not to burn. Cook until the juices run clear or the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 170 degrees Fahrenheit. Makes 4 servings.

Grilled Blood Orange Chicken

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGrilled Blood Orange Chicken

Grilling chicken has got to be one of my all time favorite ways to prepare dinner for my friends and family.  I generally prefer to use boneless skinless chicken thighs because they’re moister and more flavorful than a boneless skinless chicken breast.  My Grilled Blood Orange Chicken is easy to make and tastes great sliced on top of a fresh green salad, chopped up in warm soft tortillas garnished with crunchy cabbage, spicy salsa and lime or simply served with a side of rice and steamed vegetables.  Double or triple the recipe for some fantastic chicken leftovers!  Enjoy!  Tessa


  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • 2 blood oranges, juiced (substitute any variety of orange if desired)
  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic paste
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1 pkg Sazon Goya Coriander and Annatto mix (found online or at a Latin grocery store)
  • fresh cilantro for garnish

Toss all ingredients in a covered container and let marinade in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight.  Toss any remaining marinade.  Place on medium hot barbecue grill or grill pan.  Turn chicken when halfway cooked.  Cook until juices run clear or the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 170 degrees Fahrenheit.  Pull from grill, let chicken rest for about 5 minutes covered. Place on serving plate and garnish with sprigs of cilantro. Makes 4 servings..

Banana Mango Smoothie


Whenever I am in a crazy mad dash to get to work in the morning and I have no time to spare, one of my favorite breakfasts to make is a simple smoothie. What I love about a smoothie is that it is quick to assemble, I can take it to work with me, and it’s delicious!  My Banana Mango Smoothie is a fresh tropical tasting mixture of banana, mango chunks, ice, and apple juice. Sometimes I like to add a scoop of vanilla flavored protein powder to fill me up and to help keep me from snacking at my desk.  Simply toss all ingredients into a blender and within a few minutes, breakfast is served. Enjoy!  Tessa


  • 1 banana (peeled and cut into chunks)
  • 1 cup mango chunks (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 – 3 ice cubes
  • approximately 1 cup apple juice
  • 1 scoop vanilla flavored protein powder (optional)
  • 1 – 2 drops liquid stevia (optional)

Add all the ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth.  Add additional apple juice if desired.  Pour in a glass, add straw and serve.  Makes 1 serving.


Blood Orange Vinaigrette


I just have to tell you that I have a new favorite fruit.  It’s called a Blood Orange. The name sounds a bit gory but trust me, this amazing citrus fruit is far from it… Just close your eyes and get past the name.  Blood Oranges can be a bit smaller in size than a regular orange and bigger than a tangerine.  When sliced, they have a gorgeous orange to bright crimson center and they have an outer skin that can be somewhat difficult to peel.  Blood Oranges are sweet, juicy and perfect for making a simple Blood Orange Vinaigrette.


What beautiful fruit!  As you can see, Blood Oranges are aptly named.  Be mindful when handling the oranges, they can stain your clothes and cutting boards.


Making the Blood Orange Vinaigrette is easy.  Add all the ingredients to a glass jar, tighten the lid and then give it a good shake to blend all the flavors.  Drizzle the Blood Orange Vinaigrette over a plate of fresh greens and Blood Orange segments for a wonderful Blood Orange Salad. Enjoy!  Tessa


  • 1/3 cup blood orange juice
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbs red wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbs brown sugar
  • 1 Tbs shallots (finely minced)
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tsp blood orange zest
  • 3/4 tsp salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp fresh cracked pepper (or to taste)

Place all ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid.  Shake well to combine all ingredients. Taste and correct your seasonings.  Store in the refrigerator tightly covered for up to 4 days.  Makes about a cup.


Israeli Couscous Salad with Roasted Tomatoes and Mint


Spring is about two months early here in Southern Oregon.  The weather is starting to warm up, the daffodils and crocuses are blooming, and the deciduous trees are already starting to bud out. I love warm weather but when it comes too early in the year, it comes with a large cost. The lack of precipitation in the form of rain and the lack of a snow pack in the surrounding mountains means that we are in store for another very dry year here in the Rogue Valley.


With the seemingly early spring, many of my perennial herbs in my garden are ready to pick. What really caught my eye is that my mint has already poked through the soil and is about 6 to 8 inches tall. Mint is one of my favorite herbs and one of the easiest to grow.  I just love the aroma, taste and versatility of freshly picked mint.  From my own personal experience, if you plant just one little mint plant, it will be more than happy to try to take over your entire yard. That’s why when I grow mint, I plant it in its very own pot where it is safely contained and unable to grow freely where ever it chooses.  Once mint is established in your garden, it’s difficult to eradicate without the use of herbicides.  And those who know me, know full well that I don’t use herbicides in my garden. Ever…


I currently have 4 varieties of mint growing in my yard.  Peppermint, Lemon Balm, Chocolate Mint and Spearmint.  I’m planning to add Apple Mint and Pineapple Mint to my little mint collection in the near future.


Fresh snipped spearmint and Italian flat leaf parsley from my garden was used in my Israeli Couscous Salad with Roasted Tomatoes and Mint. For those who are unfamiliar with Israeli couscous, Israeli Couscous is a small semolina pasta also known as Pearl Couscous, Ptitim or Jerusalem Couscous. It’s mild in flavor and takes about 10 minutes to prepare. The little ball shape of Israeli Couscous makes it perfect for all sorts of soups, salads, main or side dishes. The next time you see Israeli couscous at your local grocery store or online, be sure to buy some.  It’s a quick cooking and very adaptable ingredient to have on hand in your kitchen pantry!  Enjoy!  Tessa



  • 1 cup Israeli couscous
  • 2 Tbs olive oil
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup Roasted Cherry Tomato Vinaigrette (see recipe below)
  • 1/2 cup roasted cherry tomatoes (see instructions below)
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese (crumbled)
  • 1/4 cup fresh mint (chopped)
  • 1/4 cup fresh Italian flat leaf parsley (chopped)
  • 1/4 cup kalamata olives (chopped)
  • salt and pepper to taste

Begin by heating the olive oil in a 2 quart pan over medium high heat.  Add Israeli Couscous to the pan and stir constantly until lightly browned, about 4 1/2 minutes. Reduce heat and slowly add water.  Cook covered until water is absorbed, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.  Add remaining ingredients, toss lightly, then taste and correct your seasonings.  Add the mixture to a serving bowl. Serve at room temperature or chilled.  Makes 8 – 1/2 cup servings.

Roasted Cherry Tomatoes:  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  On a baking pan add 1 pint cherry tomatoes.  Toss lightly with 1 tablespoon olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt. Bake for 10 minutes or until the tomatoes collapse.  Remove from oven and let cool. Makes little over a cup. Use immediately or store covered in the refrigerator for a few days.

Roasted Cherry Tomato Vinaigrette: In a blender add the following ingredients and blend until smooth.  Makes about 1 cup.

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup roasted cherry tomatoes
  • 1 tsp garlic paste
  • 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • salt and pepper to taste

Use immediately or keep refrigerated in a tightly covered container for a few days.

Whole Grain Mustard

WholeGrainMustardFeralKitchenWhole Grain Mustard

Do you know that making your own mustard is ridiculously easy? Up until just a few months ago, I had absolutely no idea. I recently learned after reading a newspaper article in the Medford Mail Tribune by Jan Roberts-Dominguez titled an Advanced Lesson in Homemade Mustards. Growing up, the only mustard that could be found in our home kitchen was the bright yellow mustard sold in a jar made by French’s.  No offense to all you yellow mustard lovers but the mustard that I knew as a kid pales in comparison to the taste bud tingling spicy goodness that I am about to share with you.  And what makes my Whole Grain Mustard shine is the addition of a really tasty beer such as Southern Oregon Brewing Company‘s Nice Rack IPA.

A good homemade Whole Grain Mustard takes about 15 minutes of your time to prepare and then needs to sit around untouched for at least 48 hours to develop its wonderfully warm spicy flavors. When your mustard is ready, be sure to serve your homemade Whole Grain Mustard on sandwiches, sausages, pretzels or even use it as a base for sauces or salad dressings.  My favorite way to serve my homemade Whole Grain Mustard is to accompany it alongside some grilled brats and pints of some of Southern Oregon’s finest micro brewed beer. Now that’s pure bliss!

What’s great about making your own mustard is that the flavor combinations are endless and you can make it as hot, creamy, spicy or as sweet as you want.  All you need to start is some good quality mustard seeds, liquid for soaking such as wine, beer or vinegar, toss in some spices, add something sweet such as sugar or honey and a sprinkling of salt.

mustardseeds1024Mustard Seeds

Yellow mustard (also called white) seeds are on the left and brown mustard seeds are on the right. Notice that the yellow mustard seeds are nearly twice the size than the brown mustard seeds. They are also a lot less pungent in flavor than the brown mustard seeds. I personally like the brown mustard seeds better because of the heat factor. Look for mustard seeds in the bulk foods section of your favorite specialty or natural food store. If you can’t find it locally, you can always resort to shopping online. Once you learn how to make your own Whole Grain Mustard, it’s doubtful that you will want to use store the bought varieties ever again. Thank you Jan Roberts-Dominguez for the mustard lesson and the inspiration!  Enjoy! Tessa


  • 2/3 cup brown mustard seeds
  • 1/2 cup yellow mustard seeds
  • 3/4 cup beer (I used Nice Rack IPA)
  • 3/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbs sugar
  • 3 tsp garlic paste
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tsp ground allspice
  • 2 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp salt or to taste

In a non reactive bowl or jar (glass, plastic or stainless steel) add the mustard seeds, beer, and vinegar.  Make sure that the seeds are covered in liquid.  If you need to add more liquid, use equal parts beer and vinegar.  Just be careful, you don’t want your mustard to be too watery. Place the mustard covered in a cool place for 48 hours.  Add the remaining ingredients and place in food processor. Blend mustard for about two minutes or until you reach your desired texture. Taste and correct your seasonings.  Place mustard in clean jars with a tight fitting lid and store in the refrigerator for up to a few weeks.  Makes about 2 3/4 cups.

***Recipe adapted from Jan Roberts-Dominguez