Who does not love bake pasta dishes? Rigatoni, Ziti, Mostaccioli…they’re all good. This one is meatless…with a rich marinara sauce made with San Marzano tomatoes. The rigatoni is tossed with the sauce, and a ricotta/mozzarella/parmesan mix. Then topped with more mozzarella and parmesan. If you bake it right away, it only takes about 20 minutes to cook. But, you can put it together and bake it later…with a longer cook time of course.

This recipe is really cut down using a 9×9 baking dish. Still enough for 4 people.


For the marinara:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup diced onions
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, thin sliced
  • 1 (28 ounce) can of whole, peeled, San Marzano tomatoes
  • 2-3 fresh basil leaves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp sugar or to taste
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter

For the rigatoni:

  • 7 ounces of rigatoni
  • 3/4 cups whole ricotta
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tsp fresh thyme eaves, chopped
  • 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped + more for garnish
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 8 ounces of fresh mozzarella, 1/2 of it diced
  • 3/4 cups grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper


  • Place a medium saucepan over medium low heat and add the olive oil. Add the onions and saute about 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic for 30 seconds.
  • Add the San Marzano tomatoes and crushed with you hands or mash with a potato masher. Add the fresh basil and bay leaf. Add the salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer, cover, lower the heat and cook for 30 minutes. Taste and reseason if necessary. Stir in the sugar and the butter. Optional: using an immersion blender, blend the marinara to your desired consistency.
  • Combine the ricotta, the salt and pepper, thyme, parsley, lemon zest, half the mozzarella, half the parmesan, and the egg. Mix well in a bowl.
  • Cook the rigatoni in salted water for about 9-10 minutes. Drain and don’t rinse. Return to the pan.
  • Place the ricotta mix in the pasta and fold in completely. Add 2 cups of the marinara and reserve the rest for another recipe. Freeze it if you like.
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  • Stir every together until well combined then place in a oil-sprayed 9×9 baking dish. Top with the rest of the mozzarella and parmesan. Cover with foil and bake for 18 minutes. Remove the foil and turn to broil for about 2-3 minutes until the top is lightly browned. Remove from the oven. Tent lightly with the foil and let sit for 10 minutes.
  • Serve with chopped parsley and more parmesan.


I have made Clam Chowder hundreds of times with varying degrees of success, ie, tasting they way I want it to…or, resembling some of the best chowders I’ve had over the years.

This is a great new recipe of mine that kind of gets back to the basics. Please note that I would have liked to do this new recipe using fresh clams, but good chowder clams are not readily available around here (Central California)…so, canned clams.

This version is also cut way down in volume. I did this to minimize the waste if I didn’t turn out…I have “sh*t-canned” many chowder recipes right after cooking. However…this one is a keeper! At least I think so.

The clams I used are whole Bumble Bee Baby Clams, they are much better than the little cans of minced clams. And, a bottle of Bumble Bee clam juice. I might try two bottles next time, but this does have a nice mild clams chowder, and the baby clams chopped, not minced. Keep in mind that canned clams are already cooked, so they need to be heated through. Cook them too long and they become rubbery. One new ingredient this time: Old Bay seasoning.

Here’s how I made it…


  • 3 thick slices of bacon, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup sweet onions, diced
  • 1/2 cup celery, diced
  • 1 (8 ounce) bottle of clam juice
  • 1 (10 ounce) can of whole baby clams
  • 1/2 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1/2 tsp Old Bay seasoning
  • 1 tsp chicken or clam base
  • 1/4 cup dry sherry
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 fresh thyme sprig
  • 1/4 tsp lemon pepper
  • 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper
  • 1/4 tsp MSG (optional)
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tbsp cold water
  • 1 – 1 1/2 cups of Russet potatoes (about 1 medium), peeled, 1/2 inch diced and cook al dente


  • Place a medium saucepan over medium low heat and add the chopped bacon. Cook the bacon until it is rendered and slightly crispy. Remove bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.
  • To the saucepan with the bacon fat, add the onions and the celery and saute for 5-6 minutes until just softened, do not brown. Add 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp white pepper.
  • Turn up the heat to medium and add the sherry. Let it come to a simmer for about 2 minutes. Add the clam juice and the juice from the baby clams. Do not add the clams yet. Add the chicken base, garlic powder, Old Bay, bay leaf, and 1/4 tsp lemon pepper. Cover and allow to simmer for about 8 minutes.
  • Cook the diced potatoes in salted water for about 8 minutes until just barely tender. Drain and place in a bowl in the refrigerator to cool so they don’t get mushy.
  • Add the half and half to the chowder and bring to a low simmer.
  • Place 2 tbsp of butter and 2 tbsp of flour in a small saucepan and cook for about 1 minute to make a roux.
  • When the chowder is simmering, stir in the roux and allow to simmer, stirring, for about 3-4 minutes to thicken slightly. Add the cream and the baby clams. Let it simmer for 2-3 minutes.
  • To make it thicker, make the roux with more butter and flour, or, make a slurry with the cornstarch and cold water. Add to the simmering chowder.
  • When ready to serve, remove the bay leaf and thyme sprig, add the cooked potatoes and 2/3 of the reserved cooked bacon to the chowder and heat through.
  • Serve with oyster cracker, more chopped bacon and chopped chives if desired.


These are boneless skinless chicken thighs!

So, how can I be sold bold as to call it Southern California Fried Chicken? Well, first…I was raised in Southern California. And, it’s my name for boneless skinless chicken thighs fried crisp and moist with a crunchy coating of seasoned flour and buttermilk. And here’s how I do it.

To start, the method is important…but not as important as the seasoning. The flour must be seasoned enough. See below.

After trimming some of the excess fat from boneless skinless thighs, I marinate them for at least 2 hours in buttermilk. Then, I season the flour with…wait for it…some Ranch Seasoning. Not the dressing mix, but the seasoning mix in the plastic jar. It is an incredibly versatile seasoning that works well with a lot of recipes. Is it cheating? Who cares. It produces a wonderfully seasoned coating for the chicken. No egg in this recipe. Just the buttermilk, then heavily flour…the back into the buttermilk…then into the flour again. Then, let them sit for about 20 minutes in the fridge. A classic southern fried chicken method that is the most basic. One of the keys: properly seasoning the flour. Besides the Ranch seasoning, I add my salt-free Southwest seasoning (recipe below) and some lemon pepper. No salt added! The Ranch takes care of that. I do sprinkle on a bit of coarse Kosher salt right out of the fryer. And, yes…they are deep fried!!!


For the southwest seasoning:

  • In a small bowl, combine 1 tbsp paprika, 1 tbsp garlic powder (not garlic salt), 2 tsp onion powder, 2 tsp black pepper, 1 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp chile powder, 1 tsp sugar, 1/4 tsp cayenne. Mix well and put aside. You will have more than you need.

For the chicken:

  • 1 1/4 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs (about 4), excess fat trimmed, cut in half
  • 1 1/2 cups whole buttermilk
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp Ranch seasoning mix
  • 2 tsp southwest seasoning
  • 1 tsp lemon pepper
  • Kosher salt
  • Canola oil for frying


  • Place the chicken thighs in a small baking dish and cover with 1 1/2 cup of buttermilk. Turn the thighs to make sure they are completely coated. Cover with plastic and place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight.
  • Place the flour, cornstarch, and the seasonings in a large mixing bow and mix welll. Remove the thighs from the buttermilk and dredge the chicken in the flour…then back into the buttermilk. Then back into the flour. Make sure the pieces are completely coated in the flour. Place them on a parchment lined plate in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes.
  • Heat about 2 inches or canola oil in a large pot to 350 degrees. Use an oil or candy thermometer.
  • When the oil is hot, fry the thighs for about 7-8 minutes, turning occasionally, until golden brown and the internal temperature is 165 degrees. Remove from the oil and sprinkle with Kosher salt. Place the cooked thighs on a wire rack over a sheet pan in a warm oven while you fry the remainder. DO NOT OVER-CROWD THE POT or they will stick together and not cook properly.


O.K….so, there are 10,000 recipes for Meatloaf out there. And I have made half of them. Well, now…there are 10,000 and 1!

Without going too crazy, I have taken some of the best elements from my best meatloaf recipes and included them in this one.

One of the things you should do regardless of the ingredients is to saute your vegetables. Yes! I don’t like crunchy vegetables in my meatloaf! Many recipes say not to mix everything too tightly …however, if you don’t find a happen medium here, it will fall apart! So, do a little pressing when you shape this thing. After cooking, allow it to sit at room temp for at least 20 minutes before slicing.

My method with this latest recipe involves pressing the meatloaf into a sprayed loaf pan, then turning it out on a foil lined sheet pan to cook. It cooks a little more evenly on all sides. Plus, it doesn’t wallow in the grease as much. If you want, place the formed meatloaf on a wire rack over a sheet pan, but be careful…it may be more difficult to remove from the wire rack then fall apart if you don’t press it together tightly.

I have included a recipe for the glaze, but this part it wide open. Add BBQ sauce or chipotles to mix it up.


  • 20 ounces lean ground beef
  • 8 ounces ground pork
  • 2 thick slices of bacon
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh bread crumbs
  • 1 cup cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire
  • 1/2 tsp fish sauce
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 cup chopped onions
  • 1 rib celery, chopped
  • 1 small carrot, chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/4 tsp allspice
  • 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg

For the glaze:

  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar


  • To the bowl of a stand mixer, add the bread crumbs, milk, eggs, Worcestershire, fish sauce, salt, pepper, garlic powder, allspice, nutmeg, and parsley. Mix with the paddle about 30 seconds then let it sit for 20-30 minutes.
  • Place the onions, celery, carrots, and bacon in a food processor. Process until everything is minced. Heat the olive oil in a medium skillet and saute for about 4-5 minutes. Remove the vegetables to a plate and place in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.
  • To the stand mixer, add the cooled vegetables, ground beef, and ground pork and mix until well combined, about 2 minutes. You can co all of this with your hands if you choose.
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Mix together the glaze ingredients in a small bowl.
  • Line a sheet pan with foil. I chose to use 4 little loaf pans this time. Spray the loaf pans with cooking spray then place some parchment paper in them. Spray the paper. Press the meatloaf mixture into the pan making sure you press it into the corner and it is not too loose. Carefully turn over the loaf pan on the foil lined sheet pan then remove the pan. Use a spatula if you need to reshape them. Place in the oven and bake for 15 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and brush the meatloaf with the glaze. Cook another 15 minutes them brush with the glaze again. Return to the oven and and cook until the internal temperature is 165 degrees. Remove from the oven. Brush on some more glaze and let it sit for 15 minutes before slicing and serving. Garnish with chopped parsley and offer more glaze at the table.


The term “deviled” in food was first referenced in 1786. It referred to spicy or zesty foods, most often prepared with mustard, pepper, or other ingredients stuffed in the yolk cavity.

Bascaillly, they are just stuffed eggs. And my favorite recipe for Deviled Eggs tried to maintain the simplest of ingredients: mayonnaise, mustard, and black pepper with chives and crumbled bacon for a garnish. I have used pickles and minced onions in the past, but I always for back to this faithful rendition.


  • 6 large eggs
  • 3-4 tbsp whole mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1-2 dashes of Tabasco
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Paprika for garnish
  • Chopped chives for garnish
  • Minced bacon for garnish


  • Place eggs in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a rolling boil. Turn off the heat and cover. Let sit for 12 minutes. Remove from the water and place in a bowl of ice water for 3 minutes before peeling under cold water. Place on a paper towel lined plate and cover loosely with another paper towel. Place in the refrigerator for 15 minutes.
  • Halve the eggs lengthwise and scoop out the yolks into a bowl. Also place one of the egg white halves in the bowl (for volume). Mash it all with a fork.
  • Add the mayonnaise, mustard, black pepper, Tabasco, and salt to taste. Mash some more and stir to a smooth consistency. Taste and reseason if necessary.
  • Fill each egg white with about 1 1/2 tsp of the yolk mixture.
  • Sprinkle lightly with paprika. Then garnish with minced bacon and chopped chives. Refrigerate loosely covered until ready to eat.


You see all kinds of “burgers” these days. As a teenager, I worked at McDonald’s in 1966. Their menu back then was pretty similar to what In N Out’s menu is today…burgers, fries, sodas, and shakes. That’s was it! The fish sandwich was introduced in 1965.

I love burgers. I could live off of them if need be. But I have always been very vehement as to what goes into my burger. I truly believe that mixing anything into your ground beef makes it either meat loaf or Salisbury steak…but not a burger. Burger accompaniments go on the outside. And with that said, have at it! Honestly, I’m not a fan of adding any fruit (other than tomatoes) or even other protein (other than bacon). Any cheese will do, but sliced American is really the best choice…it melts better and just belongs on a burger.

The last burger I made (the one in the photo) was destined to be a tower of impossibility. In other words, good luck stuffing it into your mouth. This one made for a ridiculous picture…then a knife and fork! But it contains the rudimentary, and some of us say, required condiments: American cheese, sliced tomatoes, sliced onions, dill pickle slices, iceberg lettuce, and a burger sauce…in this case, it was an In N Out dressing clone. Yum! It is also flat grilled with a nice dark brown crust and cooked to medium (there was some pink inside). And, seasoned with Kosher salt and black pepper. That’s an 8 ounce 85/15 patty. Juicy and flavorful, as long as you don’t overcook it. The bun? It’s a home made griddle-browned brioche bun.

That’s my take on the Cheeseburger. K.I.S.S. method all the way!


So, why am I calling it Country Chicken Fried Steak? Well…it’s complicated.

First of all, there is no universally accepted explanation as to the difference between Country Fried and Chicken Fried Steak. Generally speaking, Chicken Fried Steak is double breaded in egg and flour and fried like fried chicken. And, it is served with a white cream gravy. Country Fired Steak is dusted in flour, then fried…and the oil is used to make a brownish gravy from the drippings. No one agrees,really, on all this food history blathering. Basically it depends on what part of the country you are from that determined what you call this iconic comfort food.

This recipe is a hybrid between the two. I actually bread the steak in buttermilk and panko, then make the gravy from some of the drippings. So…Country Chicken Fried Steal. Also, traditionally you will find CFS made with pounded out and tenderized round steak, a.k.a., cube steak. I used a NY strip steak here.

Have fun with it. Much of the results depends on technique, ie, frying them crispy and properly seasoning the coating and gravy. It’s all a matter of choice.


  • 1 pound beef or cube steak (flank, strip, ribeye)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup panko crumbs
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 tbsp Cajun seasoning
  • Canola oil
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup cream
  • Chopped parsley
  • Chopped chives


  • Cut the beef into 4 equal portions. Place on a cutting board then pound each portion with a meat mallet using the tenderizer end until they are 1/4 inch thick. If using pre-tenderized cube steak, pound them to about 1/4 inch as well.
  • Place the buttermilk in a flat bowl then place the pounded beef steaks Makie sure they are all covered in buttermilk. Let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes or in the fridge overnight covered.
  • Place the panko crumbs in a flat bowl then add 1 tsp Kosher salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper, and 1 tbsp Cajun seasoning. Mix well.
  • Heat about 1/2 inch of canola oil in a skillet to 350 degrees.
  • Remove the meat from the buttermilk. Bread each steak in the seasoned panko until they are well coated on both sides, pressing the panko into the steaks. Place on a parchment lined plate.
  • When all the steak are breaded, fry them in the oil without crowding until golden brown on the first side, about 2 minutes. turn and repeat with the other side. Remove to a wire rack over a sheet pan in a warm oven.
  • When the steaks are fried, remove most of the oil from the skillet. Add 2-3 tbsp unsalted butter then 2 tbsp of flour. Over medium heat, cook the flour, stirring with a whisk, for about 1 minute. Whisk in the chicken stock and let it come to a simmer. Whisk in the cream and bring to a low simmer. Taste and season with more Cajun seasoning and black pepper.
  • Plate with Yukon Gold mashed potatoes. Spoon some of the gravy on the steaks and the potatoes. Garnish with chopped parsley and chopped chives. Sprinkle with a little paprika.


So, I set out to come up with a new Mac and Cheese recipe. And decided to start with some of my favorite cheeses, two of which I don’t use nearly enough: Fontina and Gruyere. I paired them with White Cheddar And Parmesan and then added a garlic and shallot infused half and half to make the cheese sauce…and I was off and running!


  • 1 medium shallots, peeled, sliced
  • 1 medium garlic clove, peeled, sliced
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 1 fresh thyme sprig
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter, divided
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • Kosher salt and white pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 cup shredded Gruyere
  • 1/2 cup shredded Fontina
  • 1/2 cup shredded White Cheddar
  • 14 tsp cayenne
  • Kosher salt and white pepper
  • 2 slices of Black Forest deli ham, thin sliced (roll up and chiffonade)
  • 6 ounces of macaroni (I used cavatappi)
  • 1/2 cup panko crumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • Canola oil


  • Place 1 cup half and half, the shallots, and the garlic clove in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Turn off the heat, cover, and let sit for 30 minutes.
  • Cook your pasta al dente according to package directions. Drain, return to the pan, and toss with a little olive oil. Cover and set aside.
  • Place 1 1/2 tbsp unsalted butter in a small saucepan over medium heat then add 1 tbsp flour. Cook, stirring, for about 1 minute. Strain the half and half into this saucepan (discard the vegetables) and bring to a simmer, whisking, until thicken slightly and smooth.
  • Add the Gruyere, Fontina, and white cheddar, lower the heat, and allow the all the cheeses to melt until smooth. Taste and season with Kosher salt and white or black pepper.
  • Pour the cheese sauce into the pasta saucepan and fold in until completely coated evenly. Add the chiffonade ham and fold in. Place the macaroni and cheese in a 9×9 buttered baking dish and smooth the top.
  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • Place 1 1/2 tbsp of the butter in a small skillet over medium heat then add 1/2 cup panko crumbs and paprika. Cook, stirring and tossing until the panko begins to brown. Sprinkle in the parmesan then spoon evenly over the top of the macaroni and cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and bake another 5-10 minutes until the top is golden brown. Remove from the oven and let sit for about 10 minutes before serving.


Oof course, this can be made on the stove top. But doing it a pressure cooker takes a lot less babysitting and produces a super flavorful chili con carne. Just keep in mind that the spice amounts are totally up to you, including adding some cayenne for more heat. Otherwise, it is a pretty tame chili. No beans, of course, for the Keto-friendly aspect. If you’re not worried about Keto…serve it over cooked red or pinto beans or white rice.


  • 1 1/2 pounds 1 lean ground beef
  • 2 thick slices of bacon, diced
  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 1 cup diced yellow or white onions
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled, minced
  • 1 small can diced green chiles
  • 1 small jalapeno, halved, seeds and ribs removed
  • 1 (14 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 tbsp chile powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • Shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese for garnish
  • Sour cream for garnish
  • Sliced green onions for garnish


  • Turn pressure cooker to Saute and add 1 tbsp canola oil. When the oil is hot crumble in the ground beef, diced bacon, onions, and garlic. Chop and stir to desired consistency. Add the remainder of the ingredients except for the garnishes. Bring to a simmer and stir to mix all ingredients completely. Turn off Saute. Turn on Pressure, seal the lid, and cook for 25 minutes letting the pressure release naturally. Open the lid and taste. Reason if necessary.
  • Serve in bowls and garnish with shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese, sour cream, and sliced green onions.


On the big island of Hawaii in 1949, some high school kids requested this dish from a local roadside diner and named it Loco Moco. “Loco” because one of the kids nickname was Loco (crazy), and “Moco” because it rhymed with Loco, not considering it means “mucous” in Spanish! Regardless of the mental connotation, it is widely considering Hawaii’s favorite diner dish and can be found in many versions at most locally owned roadside diners.

I lived on Oahu in the early 70’s, and this was my favorite version of Loco Moco.


For the patties:

  • 1 pound of 80/20 ground beef
  • 1/2 cup diced onions
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder

For the gravy:

  • 1/2 cup of diced onions
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 3-4 cups cooked white rice
  • 4 eggs, cooked sunny side up
  • Chopped chives or green onions


  • Place the ground beef in a mixing bowl and add 1/2 cup diced onions, 1 tsp Worcestershire, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, salt and pepper. With your hands, everything together completely. Form into 4 (4 ounces) patties, season with salt and pepper and set aside.
  • Place a saucepan over medium low heat and add 2 tsp canola oil. Add the diced onions and cook, stirring, for about 4-5 minutes until the onions are translucent. Add the red pepper flakes and the minced garlic and stir another 30 seconds. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Add the stocks and bring to a simmer. Add the soy sauce, onion powder, and garlic powder. Cook for about 5 minutes.
  • Stir the cornstarch with 2 tbsp cold water in a small bowl then stir into the simmering gravy. Allow to simmer until thickened. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Cover and keep warm until ready to use.
  • Cook the ground beef patties in a large skillet until deeply browned on both sides.
  • To serve, place some cooked white rice on a plate. Place a patty on the rice then spoon over the brown gravy. Add a cooked sunny side up egg. Garnish with chopped chives and serve.
  • Sometimes, this plate is served with a small side of macaroni salad.