Baked Tomato With Pesto & Mozzarella

Baked tomato with pesto and mozzarella

I have fresh tomatoes coming out of my ears. I’m not complaining, I swear. I will be crying for fresh tomatoes in October when they are replaced in the grocery stores with red, tasteless orbs of tomato likeness. I love caprese salad because seriously what’s not to love about tomatoes, basil and fresh mozzarella? I wanted a warm pretty side dish to serve with baked black cod (sable fish). These baked “caprese” tomatoes were the perfect addition. Continue reading

Tortilla Soup- Vegetarian

What's for. Dinner?

I know that you all are dying to know what I made with my “What’s for dinner? Challenge” ingredients. I can tell from the “holding your breath in anticipation” cyber silence. Feel free to breathe now and leave a comment if you came up with a recipe for the challenge. :-)

South of the border, Tortilla Soup is usually made with chicken but the portobello mushrooms lend a “meaty, umami” flavor and the grilled peppers and corn lend a smoky deliciousness to the soup. I topped my soup with avocado, non-fat sour cream and toasted corn tortilla strips for a vegetarian meal. Vegans, just leave off the sour cream for an animal friendly meal.

Mushroom tortilla soup

Roast or grill fresh corn and red peppers.

Mushroom tortilla soup

Combine rough chopped carrot, onion, potato, mushroom, garlic, and sautée in olive oil.

Mushroom tortilla soup

Simmer in cumin, ancho chili powder, coriander seasoned mushroom broth.

Tortilla Soup, Vegetarian

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 60 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 medium onion diced
2 gloves garlic minced
2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground dried coriander
2 tsp ancho chili powder, more or less to taste
1 tsp ground black pepper
4 cups vegetarian broth, I used mushroom broth
2 cups water
2 cups fresh seeded tomatoes or canned
14 oz can pinto or red kidney beans, drained
2 portobello mushrooms rough chopped, any mushroom will work
2 carrots diced
1 large potato diced
Kernels from 2 ears fresh corn
1 red bell pepper roasted and chopped
2 cups chard, kale or spinach chopped or torn
Adjust salt to taste, the broth and beans may be salted already.

To Serve
1 avocado sliced
1 lime quartered to squeeze over the soup
1/2 bunch cilantro leaves picked
2 corn sliced and tortillas toasted
Sour cream
Cheddar cheese shredded

Grill or broil corn and red peppers until a nice char appears. I don’t bother to skin the peppers after roasting. Remove corn kernels with a sharp knife. While the oven or grill is hot toast the tortilla strips misted with olive oil and lightly salted until golden brown.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a 2 quart pan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic sautée until soft. Add cumin, chili powder, coriander and ground pepper and cook 2 minutes until fragrant. Add all vegetables except the greens, legumes and the liquids. Bring to a boil and simmer 30 minutes. Add greens and simmer 10 minutes. Ladle into large bowls and serve with toppings on the side.

Make Time For Arugula Nectarine Feta Salad

Arugula nectarine feta salad

There’s never enough time!

“This is no time to talk about time! We don’t have the time!… What was I saying?” Cmdr. Deanna Troi, Star Trek First Contact 1996

“I’m late, I’m late for a very important date. No time to say Hello, Goodbye, I’m late, I’m late I’m late.” Bob Dale

I’m on my way to Fiesta Friday with this three ingredient salad. Continue reading

What Would You Make For Dinner?


Are you up for a challenge, Top Chefs? The prize, you ask? Uh….a sense of accomplishment. Yes a sense of accomplishment!
Now stop procrastinating and Go!

What would you make for dinner tonight?

Here are your ingredients.
Red bell pepper
Portobello mushrooms
Swiss chard

You may add seasonings and either a meat or a grain. Liquids and herbs are a freebie.

What would you make for dinner tonight?
Stay tuned for the recipe that I dreamed up.
Hint: South of the U.S. border cuisine

Leave a comment with your recipe title or a link to your blog.

Where’s My Backpack? Travel theme: Horizons

Alaskan Horizon

Early morning in Southeast Alaska. Grab a cup of coffee while the crew prepares to make way and just listen to the sea. The gentle tang of the halyards, a distant gull, the huff of a sea lion or the blow of a passing humpback. Now listen to your breath, be one with the moment and let civilization drift away.

Lemongrass and Ginger Halibut en Papillote

Lemongrass Ginger Halibut en Papillote



Halibut en paper
One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish. I’m bringing this fancy yet simple dish to Fiesta Friday #29 at The Novice Gardener. Thank you to our lovely hosts Jhuls and Selma.

You are in for a treat if you have never tasted Alaskan halibut and I hope you enjoy a little taste of the Alaskan landscape in my photo slide show. Is there a word for people who are smitten with Alaska? Alaskophile? Enjoy!

I found a fantastic online source for Alaskan seafood at Island Seafoods in Kodiak, Alaska. Halibut is expensive but there’s nothing worse than paying for expensive fish that is not fresh when you get it home from the store. I want to know where and when my fish was caught. My obvious preference is to eat fish in Alaska on a boat from my line to the galley but since I don’t live in Alaska I must have my fish shipped. Many thanks to Ian at Island Seafoods for getting flash frozen seafood from the boat to my doorstep in record time. They also have salmon, crab, shrimp and cod for sale.

Halibut is a big fish and it consumes and stores more mercury than a small fish like salmon. Continue reading

Tomato & Basil for Bruschetta

Bruschetta Love

Is there anything better than fresh tomatoes keeping company with basil and garlic? What’s not to love?

Tomatoes are a rich source of antioxidants including vitamin C and beta carotene. They have a very good amount of the mineral manganese and a good amount of vitamin E.
Continue reading

Eggplant Parmesan With Pesto

Eggplant Parmesan With Pesto

I’m having a lazy Sunday, after an incredibly stressful week, writing my blog for Fiesta Friday. If you are a new blogger then you should find a weekly virtual group that will challenge you to write. Fiesta Friday at The Novice Gardener motivates me to create recipes and photos every week. I’ve made a commitment, it’s on my calendars and it gets done.

I have been exploring ways to enrich my life outside of medicine. Please don’t think for a minute that I don’t love medicine. Medicine was my first love and has been my passion since I was 12 years old. But I know there’s more to me than being a physician. I’m not sure where this silly little blog is taking me but I know for sure that writing most days keeps me writing and that’s what writers need to do, right? Yes, write.

Please enjoy my original spin on baked eggplant Parmesan with a pesto twist. Not low-fat, not carb free, not a nutritional power house but a delicious cheesy comfort food recipe.

When eating a rich main course keep your portion size reasonable and balance your plate with 1/4 main dish and 3/4 fresh fruit and vegetables. Take what you need and savor every bite.

Eggplant Parmesan with pesto

Portion control
1/4 main protein
3/4 fruits and vegetables

Add color and textures for visual and flavor satiety. The flowers are nasturtiums which I grow for salads. I keep my herbs and edible flowers free of pesticides and inorganic fertilizers.

Edible nasturtiums

Edible Organic Nasturtiums

For those of us who never follow a recipe. Here’s the quick step version. Keep reading for the printable recipe.

Eggplant Parmesan

Eggplant Parmesan With Pesto

  • Servings: 6
  • Time: 15 minute prep and 75 minutes baking time
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


(You will have extra)
1 bunch of fresh basil, large stems removed, about 2 cups
1/4 cup pine nuts
1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
2 tablespoon olive oil or more for the consistency you like

Eggplant Parmesan
3 large eggs
1 cup breadcrumbs, I used panko
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
1 large eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices, no need to peel
1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, or 1/2 cup shredded
Spray of olive oil
1 (8-ounce) package shredded mozzarella cheese,
3 cups jarred or homemade, natural marinara (I used Trader Joe’s Marinara)
1/2 cup fresh or store bought pesto


Blend pesto ingredients in the food processor until blended if using fresh. I highly recommend fresh because it’s so easy to make.

Whisk eggs until blended. Combine breadcrumbs and 2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese. Lightly salt eggplant then dip slices into egg mixture. Dredge in breadcrumb mixture.
Bake eggplant in a single layer on a cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray or lightly greased with olive oil. Bake at 375 F for 30 minutes until golden, turning slices at 15 minutes.

Spread 1 cup of marinara sauce in a 9 X 13 baking dish, I prefer glass, and arrange one-half of the eggplant in a single layer. Spread 1/4 cup of pesto over eggplant. Sprinkle with 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese and 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese. Repeat pesto layer and spoon 2 cups of marinara over the top. Top with the remaining mozzarella.
Bake, covered, at 375° for 35 minutes. Remove cover and bake 10 more minutes or until cheese melts and is golden.

Wine and Women, Let’s Be Honest

Wine and Women

“How much alcohol do you drink?”
“Doc, I’m just here for my annual gyno exam. Why do you care how much I drink?”
I care about alcohol use for the same reason that I care if you smoke. Everyone knows that smoking is addictive and dangerous to your health yet alcohol consumption has become so accessible and acceptable in our “wine and women” culture that we often overlook the real risks of alcohol consumption. Most women don’t question why I’m asking and they answer honestly and spontaneously without justifications.

I do worry about the justification group. “I just drink on weekends.” “I just have a few glasses of wine.” “I just had a six pack.” “I don’t drink EVERY day.” “I don’t drink any more than my friends.” If you answer a question about drug and/or alcohol use with a justification, then you may have a problem. Maybe you just have a 5 oz glass of wine with dinner and I don’t have to worry about you but the answer warrants a follow up question.

“Does anyone, including you, think you drink too much?

Ask yourself that question right now. Did you like the answer?

“Wine and Women”, a culture of acceptance and accessibility.

The “Wine and Women” culture has become synonymous with getting buzzed and unwinding with the girls, dishing up the dirt over cocktails with the ladies, and whining over wine. It’s as if alcohol, wine in particular, JUST has to be included in every female social interaction. Can’t we communicate or have fun without alcohol?

Alcohol is a highly addictive drug and we need to recognize the dangers of accepting this culture of excess for all women.

Alcohol is widely accessible and it flows freely at most social events. I worry about all women who drink too much but I’m especially concerned about women in their middle years. Aging is taking a toll on our health and alcohol will accelerate that decline in wellness. The alcohol excesses of the college years have followed some boomers into the middle years but no one seems to be recognizing or discussing that real and present danger. There are many well placed warnings about the dangers of drinking directed at pregnant women, who should NEVER drink in pregnancy, and young adult women, who exhibit risky behavior. But what about mature women? Let’s be honest and open the discussion about the second half of our lives. Please take the time to comment. Are we as a society in denial?

A large percentage of women can handle the culture and don’t drink in a hazardous manner. Most women know when they drink too much but our culture is so accepting of drinking that it allows women in trouble to ignore the warning signs of alcoholism, to disregard the dangers of excessive alcohol consumption on their bodies (weight gain, diabetes, liver failure, cancers), on their brains (early dementia, depression, insomnia, shame and remorse) and on their sexual health (STDs, unintended pregnancy, broken hearts). The acceptance of hazardous drinking in our culture allows women to merrily lie to themselves that drinking excessively is normal.

Everyone is doing it.

Did you hear that justification? If you ever question your drinking then you probably have a problem. Every woman isn’t lying awake at night wondering if she drinks too much. Truly social drinkers don’t wake up with hangovers and regrets on a frequent basis. Normal drinkers don’t forget where or with whom they slept when drinking. Normal drinkers don’t drink and drive. Everyone doesn’t drink until they pass out. Blacking out and forgetting whole evenings and/or conversations while drinking is a very dangerous warning sign of addiction and should never be considered normal. If you are questioning your alcohol use, then see this website for more information.

Get the facts. The consumption of greater than 2 standard drinks daily, is considered excessive alcohol use in women.


A standard drink is not a tumbler sized glass of wine or an 8 oz martini. A standard drink is 1.5 oz of liquor or a small shot glass, 5 oz or 2/3 cup of wine, or a 12 oz bottle of beer. I don’t think women get confused about a standard beer but we do seem to be blinded to the actual size of a standard glass of wine, myself included.

I inherited a set of 1950’s glassware and the wine glasses are ridiculously small, miniature in fact by today’s warped standards, and they hold about 5 oz. When I drink out of them I drink less. I especially like them when I’m dieting because wine is not conducive to weight loss, period. Did you know that a bottle of wine has almost 700 calories? That’s half a days calories and so not worth it. I prefer to eat, thank you very much. One and done!

Do you drink too much?

If you are concerned about your drinking then stop drinking long enough to explore your options. Don’t ask your drinking friends if you drink too much because you might just be drowning together. Expect a push back when you say, “I’m not drinking.” It’s very strange to me that when someone announces that they quit smoking everyone applauds and offers support but when a drinker tries to quit the reaction is exactly the opposite. Try it. I tried a little experiment with my women friends this summer. I didn’t want to drink because frankly I feel bad when I drink so I announced that I wasn’t drinking. The responses ranged from, “Why?” to “Are you criticizing my drinking?” (And by the way, Sistas, I wasn’t criticizing your drinking.) Not one of these women who are genuine friends said, “Good for you, how can I help?” Drinking is so entrenched in our culture that we apparently can’t talk about it and it’s considered abnormal not to drink. If you try this challenge then tell us what you experience. We can learn from each other. If your friend announces that she’s not drinking then be the girl who says, “Great, how can I help?”

If you experience severe symptoms of withdrawal when you quit then seek medical support. Alcohol withdrawal can be life threatening. There are many online resources for help with alcohol related problems. for definitions and advice and for a fascinating, realistic journal of a woman who recognizes her alcoholism and documents her trials of getting sober.

You don’t have to reach “rock bottom”.

There is a huge group between normal drinkers and alcoholics who would benefit from intervention. The problem as I see it is that the term alcoholic conjures up an image of a homeless, DUI convicted, relationship devoid, “rock bottom” character drinking on street corners. When we use labels we can deny alcoholism in ourselves and others because the drinker doesn’t fit our label. It becomes a barrier to patients with a real need for help and allows them to be overlooked by their physicians and friends. Women alcoholics could certainly fit the “rock bottom” description but in general do not and perhaps it’s a better option to reach out for help before you reach rock bottom.

All I ask is that you be honest with yourself.

What do you really think about your drinking? Check out this Kindle book. Seven Days Sober: A Guide to Discovering What You Really Think About Your Drinking” It’s a quick read that helps you step back from the “Wine and Women” culture long enough to think about your own drinking. The author is an alcoholic who was drowning in the Napa Valley wine industry and her words speak to this “Wine and Women” culture.

Reach out.

There is a whole blogosphere for sobriety support. There are ads in every newspaper in the world for AA, Alcoholics Anonymous, meetings. You might see a meeting announcement listed as Friends of Bill W meeting. You can Google “AA” and “getting sober” and find hundreds of sites to check out. You don’t have to go to AA but look for support somewhere if you think you should get sober. There are many types of alcoholics (almost alcoholics/over users/abusers/worried drinkers) and many avenues of support.

In their book Almost Alcoholic, Almost Alcoholic: Is My (or My Loved One’s) Drinking a Problem? (The Almost Effect)“(available at Robert Doyle and Joseph Nowinski identify five signs that someone may be an “almost alcoholic”:

You continue to drink despite at least some negative consequences.
You look forward to drinking.
You drink alone.
You sometimes drink in order to control emotional and/or physical symptoms.
You and your loved ones are suffering as a result of your drinking. is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to

Jalapeño Poppers with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Lowfat

Jalapeño poppers

I have been back from Blogher for five days and I can’t seem to find my blogjo. I’ve been really tired all week. I go through weeks of menopausal insomnia for no apparent reason and this cycle started before the conference and continued this week. I don’t cope well with inadequate sleep. I used to be able to stay awake for 36 hours at a time when I delivered babies but now I need my eight hours or I’m toast. To top off the lack of sleep I had a crap week at work. Seriously, who is mean to their gynecologist? I have metal objects near your lady bits and I control your prescriptions. Why would anyone go out of their way to be nasty to a professional that’s genuinely trying to help them? It’s kind of like being mean to your hair stylist! Hello, she has scissors near your eyes and can cut your bangs off faster than you can say, “oh no you better don’t”. Common sense peeps. Play nice, just saying.

Saucy at Saucy Gander and Margot at Gather and Graze are hosting the party and I didn’t want to let my Fiesta Friday friends down so I whipped up a little pepper popper appetizer to bring to the virtual potluck over at The Novice Gardener. If you are entertaining this weekend then try out these delicious snacks or check out the incredible new recipes at The Novice Gardener. You don’t have to be a food blogger to enjoy the recipes at Fiesta Friday.

How was your week? It’s Friday so please enjoy a little piece of Mexican heaven and an icy cold beverage. I’ve reduced the fat and they are low carb with a spicy kick. I promise you won’t miss the bacon that is usually stuffed in poppers. Take what you need and savor every bite.

Jalapeño Poppers with Sun-Dried Tomatoes LowFat

  • Servings: 24 poppers
  • Time: 15 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

• 12 jalapeño peppers, cut in half lengthwise. Seeds and ribs removed
• 8 oz reduced fat cream cheese, let soften on the counter for 15 minutes.
• 1/2 cup reduced fat shredded sharp cheddar cheese
• 2 tablespoons sun-dried tomato, packed in oil
1/4 cup green onions chopped

1. Wash and slice peppers. Use gloves to keep your hands from burning. Remove seeds and ribs.
2. Mix remaining ingredients with a fork until combined.
3. Fill each half pepper with a heaping spoonful of cheese mixture.
4. Broil on high until browned on top, about 10 minutes. Watch closely and don’t burn them.
Serving size is 1 pepper

kcal: 31 Carb: 1 gm, Protein: 2 gm , Fat: 2 gm
Weight watchers pp – 1 points