Loaded Recipe Series, Poultry, Veggies based & Vegetarian

THE.BEST.Cauliflower.side.dish. EVER

For some reason, cauliflower wasn’t always a superstar. Yet one of the most favorite vegetables for me. We grew cauliflower in our family garden, and I loved it prepared many different ways. It surprised me how many people had reservation about this beautiful “white flower” and had no idea how to make it tasty.



Long before Atkins or Paleo was hot, I enjoyed cauliflower based dishes as a replacement for the meat. Fried, sauteed with sausage, onion, and eggs,  as cauliflower fritters or as my multiple veggie mixes. Later, when everybody started going avocado about the low carb diets, cauliflower was suddenly IN. Cauliflower fried rice, mashed cauliflower “potatoes”, cauliflower steak,  cauliflower dough for low carb pizza – and I must admit, these were exciting new ideas for me too. Cauliflower is delicious and super rich in nutrient on top of that. What’s not to love?

This recipe is one of the most fun, fast, easy and super tasty way to prepare a side dish with cauliflower. It screams SUPERFOOD!!!! Cooking for cancer patients, I have developed several recipes that are loaded with all the anti-cancer properties, boosting immunity and of course, tasting good. Here is one of them:



Turmeric Roasted Cauliflower with Zucchini



Turmeric Roasted Cauliflower with Zucchini


  • 1 large head cauliflower
  • 2 medium green zucchini
  • 1/2 cup olive oil or coconut oil
  • 1 tablespoon ground turmeric
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon curry
  • 1 teaspoon of whole cumin (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • As much finely chopped or grated ginger root as you like
  • sea salt and freshly grated pepper to taste
  • a handful of cilantro, parsley or sliced scallions for garnish

Preheat oven to 400°F.

In a large deep bowl whisk together oil with all the seasoning. Cut cauliflower into similar size pieces and thoroughly rinse in the colander (not too small). Let it air dry, while you wash and cut zucchini into thick chunks (zucchini cooks much faster). Don’t know about you, but I don’t care for mushy.

Add both vegetables into the seasoning mixture and shake the bowl until everything is perfectly combined and every piece is coated with seasoning. It’s easy to see because turmeric and curry made everything bright yellow.

Spread vegetables on a large baking sheet. Make sure all the veggies are in one layer. Spoon the rest of the seasoned oil on the vegetables if there is anything left in the bowl.

Bake in the oven until tender, about 15-20 minutes. Time vary based on your oven and the size of the pieces you cut, so check after 15 minutes. Carefully poke a small knife into the thickest part of the cauliflower to check for doneness.

When ready, garnish with your chosen herbs and enjoy!


Turmeric Roasted Cauliflower and Zucchini

I wanted to take a different picture of the full dish of this beauty, but it disappeared as soon as I took it out of the oven. I guess I’m not the only one who loves it!

Did you try this recipe? Do you have a different recipe you want to share? Let me know in comments!


Wine pairing:

I have opened my 2016 Muga Rose for this dish. It’s a rich, crisp and nicely dry rose that goes smoothly with the components of our dinner. Any other unoaked white would be a good match – try a Gruner Veltliner, Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc or unoaked Chardonnay.







All recipes paired with wine, Poultry

Honey Orange BBQ Chicken

A while ago, I was searching for recipes with some sweetness to it (since that’s what one of my clients enjoys). I found this recipe on Food Network website, courtesy of Patrick and Gina Neely.

The ingredients sounded promising, I tried it, loved it and so do my clients. It’s  in my repertoire ever since. There are never enough of good chicken recipes, right?

Honey Orange BBQ Chicken

Here is what do you need:

For Marinade:

  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup sriracha
  • 1/4 cup Dijon Mustard
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest
  • 1 chicken cut into 10 pieces – or chicken cutlets (how many you need)

For Glaze:

  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) organic butter’
  • 1/4 cup raw honey (I am not a big fan of sweet, so I put little less)
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1/4 cup BBQ sauce (I use Annie’s Naturals Organic BBQ Sweet & Spicy Sauce from Whole Foods)
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice

Mix the orange juice, olive oil, hot sauce, mustard and orange zest together in a large bowl. Pour into gallon zip lock and add the chicken (washed and patted dry with paper towels). Close and shake well so everything is covered with marinade.

If you GRILL: Prepare the grill to medium direct heat. Let the chicken come to room temperature before grilling.

If you cook it on top of the STOVE: If making chicken cutlets, I made them on top of the stove, in cast iron skillet.

Remove the chicken from the marinade and pat dry. Grill on each side for 5 minutes, then turn the heat to medium-low and cover the lid of the grill. Continue cooking the chicken until it’s cooked through, about 25 minutes more.

STOVE: The same goes here. Remove the chicken from the marinade and pat dry. I have then cooked the cutlets on high heat for about 2 minutes on each side, then placed the skillet in an oven, preheated to 350˚F, for about 10 minutes.

GRILL: While the chicken is grilling, melt the butter in a small saucepan o the grill. Whisk in the honey, orange juice, BBQ sauce, zest, mustard and allspice. Reserve a bigger half of the glaze in a small bowl for serving.

STOVE: You can do the same on top of the stove, melt the butter, then take off the heat and add the rest of the ingredients. Reserve a bigger half of the glaze in a small bowl for serving. You don’t need that much for glazing, and when you dip it in the glaze afterwards on the plate – hm hm hmmmm.

GRILL: Brush the chicken pieces with glaze, then flip the chicken, glaze side down, and cook for 2 minutes. Brush second side of the chicken with glaze and flip again. Continue cooking for 3 more minutes. Remove the chicken from the grill to a platter and serve with reserved glaze.

STOVE: Take the pan out of the oven, brush the chicken cutlets with glaze and put back for about a minute. Then take out again, flip glaze side down, brush the other side and finish cooking for about 2 more minutes.

Instead of opening and closing oven, you can  also take the pan out of the oven, return it to the stove, and do the glazin’  and flippin’ on top of the stove. Don’t forget that the pan is super hot – better use oven mitts! You can add little more glaze into the pan as the chicken will get this beautiful brown caramelized color!

I have served it here with quinoa pilaf, but you can make roasted wedged potatoes, just grilled vegetables, rice, couscous – whatever you desire! Hope you enjoy this dish!

Honey Orange BBQ Chicken

I paired this dish with super dry, Austrian Grűner Veltliner from Weingut-Groiss and it worked great for me. Good Grűner Veltliner such as this one (my house wine, it comes in 1L bottle) is probably the most versatile wine you can find. It pairs with almost anything! And, one other important thing, if you don’t plan to finish the whole bottle – Grűner Veltliner practically doesn’t change its quality if you close it back and put it in the fridge. Even few days doesn’t make a difference. You can’t say that about most of the wines – 2 days usually are the most you can keep them. And some start falling apart even after 24 hours.

If you prefer red wine, I can imagine it may work but I would stick with lighter body wine, such as Pinot Noir or Sangiovese. Something young, fresh and fruity. Cheers!



All recipes paired with wine, Poultry, Recipes with leftovers

Delicious dinner ready in 15 minutes? No problem!

In Czech we have this saying: Blacksmith’s (farrier’s) horse goes barefoot. Or plumber’s faucet at home is leaking. You’ve got the message. I cook for a living. I love it, and I cook variety of different recipes to please my unique clientele’s palate. Every day it’s something different I cook. But when it comes to prepare quick dinner at home, that’s usually the last thing on my list (unless I have time or we expect a company).

Why? Well, when I am not cooking, I have a  business to run. Emails to respond, menus to create, paperwork that must be done. I didn’t have time to grocery shop just for us, and I am looking for easy (but tasty) solutions. This past week I had to cancel everything because my husband was seriously hurt and needed my help. How blessed I felt that I have the freedom of being entrepreneur to do so. We were in emergency room, then going to neurologist another day, having MRI done, then back to the original doctor …. You got the drill. The last thing on my mind was to be concerned about the food.

But we still needed to eat. Ok, I have a favorite places where I can get a nice sandwich for a lunch, or favorite Chinese restaurant I call for delivery. I had a large pot of soup cooked for us so it’s not like we were starving. But today, I opened a fridge when it was time to prepare something quick for dinner, and there was little bit of few leftover things, not enough for two – and a box of leftover rice from the Chinese takeout.

I quickly took virtual inventory about what else I have in the fridge that I can whip some meal with. For emergencies like this, I have a box of Applegate Naturals Southwestern-Style Grilled Chicken Breast Strips purchased at Whole Foods. I always have some vegetables and of course, tons of seasoning to choose from.

Chinese take out rice

Great! I could make fajitas with those chicken strips! I love it and it would be easy to make. But the box of unused rice called for something like fried rice. Or….. I can make Rizoto. No, that’s not misspelled Italian Risotto. I am talking about a dish we used to make in my home country, everything- but- sink kind of quick and tasty dish made from leftovers. Something like Czech version of paella, jambalaya, or fried rice.

You see, I recently started to cook for a new customer, whose parents came from Slovakia (part of former Czechoslovakia). She asked me if I knew how to prepare Ludash. It was supposed to be a traditional dish that her mom used to make when my client was little. Her parents came to USA sometimes in 1930ties, so I have never heard of it. When I asked her what was in it, she described something that sounded close to description of my familiar Rizoto.

Rizoto alias Ludash
Rizoto alias Ludash

I have some artists-friends on Facebook from Slovakia so I posted the question on their wall if anybody ever heard of Ludash? I love social media! Shortly after my post, few kind souls sent me a different links to some recipes and I was actually right, it was basically how I would prepare Czech Rizoto. So I made it for her. She loved it!!! Said her mom made it without the vegetables, but she liked it better the way I made it. And it was much tastier than she remembers. I was really happy it worked out for her, with all that help I got from total strangers on Facebook.

So, starring at the box of rice, and with this story freshly in my memory, I made Rizoto (or Ludash) . I used vegetables I had in fridge (optional). It took exactly 15 minutes from when I started to when we sat down to eat. Yes, I used semi-cooking method, but it could be easily done within that time frame with freshly sautéed chicken breasts. You want to try it? Here is the recipe!

All recipes paired with wine, Poultry, Recipes with leftovers

Ludash, Rizoto or Chicken and Rice Casserole

Vera’s Rizoto

How this dish started? If you really want to know, you can read about it here, so this post wouldn’t be too long.

Quick leftover transformation – or call it dinner in 15 minutes. When you need to do something tasty, yet healthy fast – this is a super easy recipe that you may enjoy. As a traditional Czech dish called Rizoto (not to be confused with Italian Risotto), it could be called a variation to Spanish Paella, Louisiana’s Jambalaya, or perhaps  Chinese fried rice. Ever country have their own versions of dishes made with rice. This is mine:

Rizoto or Ludash
Rizoto or Ludash

Serving: 4 people


  • 2 cups of cooked rice
  • ¼ red pepper, diced
  • ¼ green pepper, diced
  • 2 carrots diced
  • ¼ white onion, minced
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 stalks of celery, diced
  • 1 table spoon of organic Better than bouillon chicken base (reduced sodium) – my shortcut, you can use a cup of chicken broth, if you have it
  • Chicken Breast Strips or 1 large chicken breast or 4 boneless chicken thighs, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 cup water (only if using chicken base instead of broth)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • Red crushed pepper for heat (totally optional)
  • Saffron (few strings)
  • 1 table spoon of organic butter
  • Olive or coconut oil

 How to:

Heat oil in larger heavy bottom pot. Add minced onion and sauté until translucent not brown, about 1 minute on medium heat. Add diced garlic and keep stirring – because garlic gets easily burned.

Peel and chop your carrots and celery (I happen to like it mined into really small cubes, it also speeds up the cooking time). When prepared, add to the onions. Stir and let cook on medium low heat. Season with salt and pepper.

Diced carrots

In the meantime, clean and chop your peppers (they take shorter time to cook), and when ready, add to the pot. Keep steering so everything combines well. When the vegetables start to soften, add tablespoon of chicken base – or chicken stock. Mix well to combine and add water (if using chicken broth base). Add red crushed pepper if using, and saffron. Mix into the broth well.

Throw all the leftover rice into the pot and stir with vegetables. Let the rice cook with vegetables and chop your chicken – if using already grilled stripes, just cut into bite pieces and add them to the mix. If you have chicken breasts raw, cut into small pieces, and quickly sauté on frying pan, with little bit of olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper for few minutes, until cooked through.

Rizoto or Ludash
Rizoto or Ludash

When the meat is in, mix everything together and add more water /chicken stock, if too dry. Let the meat warm up in the rice (I love that the Southwestern-Style Grilled Chicken Breast Strips gave it another dimension with the spicy seasoning) and frozen peas. Cover and let cook little more on low heat. At the end, right before the serving, add tablespoon of butter. Do not skip this step, organic butter is good for you and this little bit makes huge difference in flavor! Let the butter melt in the rice, mix well and serve. You can sprinkle with fresh parsley or chives (I was too hungry to bother).,

Bon Apetite!

Oh, and for a wine pairing, I opened a bottle of Aveleda Vinho Verde, a very refreshing, mineral and crisp white wine from Portugal. It worked together perfectly. So much so, that I had to pour myself another glass ♥

All recipes paired with wine, Austria, Gruner Veltliner, Poultry

My first Chicken Tikka Masala with Chia Basmati Rice

There are certain cuisines that we are less familiar with then others, and for me the one I have never tried was Indian cuisine. I love to eat it but it’s “unknown” territory. My Indian customer in Connecticut got me hooked on the food, but I always believed it’s a special combination of freshly grounded seasoning, and techniques  and yadi yadi yada … With respect to an authenticity, I wasn’t even fooling around with it.

But I started to experiment (just for myself) with some vegetarian dishes, creating recipes with eggplant and chickpeas and spinach …. some that tasted “like Indian cuisine”, but probably far from the original stuff. And then one day I virtually befriended  one sweet Indian soul called Vrinda who assured me that just like any other “traditional staples” of different international cuisines, Indian cooking also has its multiple variations of dishes, and everybody adds their own personal touch to it. In other words – just do it, and make it your own!

So, why not? I gave myself permission to play with Indian food. And shortly after, I became a personal chef for a lady whose father is an Indian and, on top of it, great cook. On our second session, she asked me to prepare some Indian chicken dish. Whaaaat? That’s like cooking your own Bolognese for an auntie from Tuscany!

But being a fighter as I am, I looked up some recipes on line and realized that it shouldn’t be such a trauma. The bonus – it’s going to be delicious and spicy. And that’s all that I like.

So here is my adapted recipe for my first ever Chicken Tikka Masala. I loved it so much, that after all day cooking at my client’s house, I immediately made some for us at home so my husband can taste it! Please don’t get discouraged by the list of ingredients. Most of it are spices  you probably already have in your spice cabinet and pantry.

Comp tikka

Chicken Tikka Masala with Chia Basmati Rice
Serves: 6


  • ½ cup rice vinegar (or white yoghurt)
  • teaspoon each of cumin, ginger, turmeric, paprika
  • 5 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into bite-size pieces
  • 2 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter) or regular butter
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1½ tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper, double if you want more heat
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 3- 4 large ripe tomatoes (peeled – instructions included – and roughly chopped)
  • 1 cup coconut milk
  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 2 tablespoons curry powder or

For the rice:

  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 1 tablespoon of raw chia seeds
  • ½ small shallot
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cups of water or chicken broth
  • salt
  1. Mix rice vinegar with 1 teaspoon each of cumin, ginger, turmeric, paprika, and add coconut oil. Pour over chicken and store covered in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.Co Chicken tikka masala3
  2. Heat ghee or butter in a large skillet with heavy bottom over medium heat, add onions and cook for 5 minutes over medium heat. I used my favorite cast iron pot. Stir in garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add cumin, salt, ginger, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, and turmeric into the onion mixture and saute for 2 more minutes. Scrape the onion mixture to a small bowl.Co Chicken tikka masala4
  3. Peel tomatoes (pierce skin on the bottom of each tomato, boil for 30 seconds, take out of the boiling water, cool with running cold water in the colander in the sink, and carefully peel the skin off with your hand). Roughly chop tomatoes and let simmer in the same large pot you just sauteed onions, until it reaches sauce consistency (about 10 – 15 minutes).Co Chicken tikka masala5
  4.  Return onion mixture to the tomato sauce and simmer for 10 more minutes. Mix in coconut milk, paprika, and sugar. Bring sauce back to boil and turn the heat down to simmer.Co Chicken tikka masala7Co Chicken tikka masala9
  5. Heat coconut oil in a separate skillet over medium heat. Take the chicken pieces from the marinade and stir carefully into the hot oil, sprinkle with more curry powder, and sear until lightly browned but still pink inside, about 3 minutes. Transfer chicken and any pan juices into the tomato sauce. Let simmer chicken in sauce until no longer pink, about 30 minutes. The sauce will reduce, thicken and all the flavors just beautifully blend together. Adjust seasoning if needed.Co Chicken tikka masala8Co Chicken tikka masala12
  6. While the chicken is cooking, heat tablespoon of olive oil (or coconut oil) in the small rice pan, mince shallot and garlic and cook until fluorescent but not brown. Add tablespoon of chia seeds and cook shortly, stirring. Add basmati rice, water (or chicken broth), season with salt (unless you’re using chicken stock), and bring to boil.Co Chicken tikka masala13
  7. Cover the lid, turn the heat down to low and let simmer for 15 minutes on very low heat. Turn off the heat, and let the rice finish up in its own heat. Fluff with fork when done, and pour the chicken tikka masala deliciousness all over the rice!!! If you have time before you dig in, you can decorate it with few leafs of cilantro. Enjoy!Co Chicken tikka masala14

I have paired this dish with Weingut Groiss Grüner Veltliner 2011. The crispiness of this wine paired well with this spicy and creamy chicken dish.  I must tell you, well made Gruner veltliner like this one (by the way, it comes in 1L bottle so it’s a gem) is so versatile, it pairs with almost anything. This one is my “house wine” and I hooked many of my friends on it. Even those that prefer sweeter white wines. Funny, this wine is dry and crisp, but collectively loved.

Let me know what cuisine you are experimenting with!