Mediterranean Shrimp and Garbanzo Bean Salad

We’re raiding the pantry a lot these days (I can’t help but giggle at “pantry raid”). In that way, this pandemic has been helpful in getting us to save money by “shopping” our freezer and cupboards. The other day, I found a can of garbanzo beans and some frozen shrimp. A slightly unlikely combo, I created an absolutely delicious and totally easy main dish Mediterranean Shrimp and Garbanzo Bean Salad.

Saute or grill shrimp to make this Mediterranean Shrimp and Garbanzo Bean Salad.
I wish I had a cooking surface this big! A skillet, griddle, or grill can easily be used to cook the shrimp. Photo by Pixabay.

Chilled Shrimp and Garbanzo Bean Salad



1 can garbanzo beans, drained
1 lb. frozen shrimp, shells off
1 cucumber (preferably an English cucumber because it has fewer seeds, diced
1 pint cherry tomatoes or 1 large tomato, diced.


6 TBS olive oil
3 TBS fresh lemon juice (could sub lime juice, red wine vinegar, or rice wine vinegar)
2 TBS (approximately) fresh parsley, diced up (see trick below)
1 TBS fresh cilantro (optional), diced

Use cherry tomatoes, cut in half, or diced tomatoes for this Mediterranean Garbanzo Bean Salad.
Slice cherry or grape tomatoes in half, or dice a regular tomato for use in this salad. Photo by Pixabay.


Place the garbanzo beans, tomatoes and cucumbers in a serving bowl.

Saute the shrimp in a little olive oil until they turn pink. Remove from the pan and add to the salad bowl.

Mix the dressing and pour SOME over the salad. Toss the mixture to coat. Serve the dressing on the table in case someone wants to add more. Serve with salt and pepper for people to add as they wish.

The unused dressing will keep in the fridge for a few days.

1. Add other vegetables like diced onion, shredded carrot, diced celery, red/yellow/or orange peppers, or spinach. You can certainly add salad greens too. You can also switch out white beans for garbanzos, or even use both for extra protein.

2. Add a little Feta cheese or Goat cheese to amp up the Mediterranean flavor. If you aren’t sure your fellow diners would enjoy either one, serve it at the table for them to add. If you add either one before serving, the acid in the juice or vinegar will start to break down the cheese a little, helping it “spread” around a little, becoming part of the dressing which can be wonderful.

3. Serve without salad greens but spoon the mixture over a bed of rice, couscous, bulgar wheat, yellow lentils or any other grain or legume you like. The salad is also good served with skillet-warmed pita bread.

Tip for chopping herbs: I learned this from Martha Stewart – put the herbs in a cup, like a measuring cup or even just a drinking cup. Point your kitchen sheers in the cup and start snipping away. This way, everything gets cut but you don’t have any flying, or fleeing bits of herb to chase down as you chop.

The finished dish - Mediterranean Garbanzo Bean Salad with herb dressing.
The finished dish with an herby dressing. Sub/add your own choice of veggies or bases to make this entree salad your own. Photo by E.A.T.

How to Make and Use Roasted Garlic Cloves

Why roasted garlic? Baking it removes the harshness of raw garlic, (kind of) reduces the likelihood of garlic breath (remember, friends don’t let friends eat garlic alone). Roasted garlic also gives that umami sensation that’s so sensational in foods. And, because of its spreadable texture, it can be used in interesting ways. Give our suggestions below a try. The coronavirus travel ban has meant everyone is doing a lot more cooking at home. These tips will come in really handy as you get creative with your cooking.

You can roast garlic in a Garlic Roaster or in just aluminum foil.

How to Make Roasted Garlic Cloves:

Note: Choose whole heads of garlic when their outer peel is white and snug against their bulbs (as opposed to darker and loose and falling off which means the bulbs are getting old).

Our Garlic Roaster holds about 8 bulbs but you can make fewer or more by wrapping them in aluminum foil and resting them in a shallow, oven-proof dish. We love our Garlic Roaster though, because we can store the roasted cloves in there too.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Most recipes tell you to slice the tops off of the garlic bulbs and drizzle olive oil but you don’t really half to. We like the more rustic look of them uncut and we like to add olive oil in the recipe in which we use the cloves. Add the bulbs of garlic to the roaster or put them in in a pouch of aluminum foil, folding over the top of the foil. Some recipes also call for sprinkling roasted garlic with salt at the beginning when you drizzle olive oil on them. I don’t do that because I want to control the amount of salt in the food I’m putting the cloves in.

Roast the garlic bulbs in the oven for approximately 40 minutes. Your house will smell a-mazing, full of all of the possibilities for ways to use the garlic.

Let them cool about 10 minutes before squeezing out the bulbs which should be yellowy and squishy.

You can keep the roasted garlic at room temperature for a day or two. After that, you should refrigerate it. Don’t make more roasted bulbs than you would use in about a week.

Spread roasted garlic cloves on buttered toast for a great snack or addition to a meal.
Spread roasted garlic cloves on buttered, toasted bread – including a simple English Muffin. Photo courtesy E.A.T. Blog editors.

How to Use Roasted Garlic:

Basically, use roasted garlic cloves the same way, and in the same measurements, as you would raw garlic. You’ll still get that garlic flavor without the harshness, and without having to saute it.

  1. Toast or grill a good, crusty bread, drizzle it with olive oil and spread a clove or two of the garlic over that. Place the toast in the bottom of a bowl and ladle pretty much any soup or stew over the top.
  2. Do the spread-on-toast method above and lay a sunny side up egg over the top, breaking the yolk so that it mixes and mingles with the garlic and nooks and crannies of the bread for a hearty brunch. I love to do this with garlic on an English Muffin.
  3. Put some softened cloves in a small bowl with a knife for spreading and add it to a charcuterie board. Spread the garlic on crackers and top with cheeses, meats, olives, or cornishons.
  4. Top toasted bread with garlic cloves, topped with lightly-mashed white beans, drizzle with olive oil and top with diced cherry tomato and a sprinkle of thyme for an easy lunch or snack.

Pig Skin Potatoes with Bacon Jam

How could I NOT try something described as a: “Savory-sweet combination of bacon, brown sugar, caramelized onions, apple cider vinegar, and special seasonings that is the perfect companion for everything from tasty party apps to intimate meals” ? I mean, really! The fact that’s it’s called Bacon Jam completely sold me!

The folks at TBJ Gourmet were kind enough to send me a couple of jars of Bacon Jam to try. I’ve been adding them to all sorts of things because, as we all know, bacon makes everything better.

Pig Skin Potatoes with Bacon Jam recipe
Photo courtesy TBJ Gourmet.

Serves 12


6 russet potatoes

6 oz Classic Bacon Jam

1 cup sour cream

1 bunch chives or scallions

12 oz shredded cheddar cheese

4 TBS butter


  1.  After thoroughly scrubbing the potatoes under water, toss in salt then pierce the potatoes with a fork, place on a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 1 hour.
  2. Cut each potato in half lengthwise and gently scrape out the insides into a mixing bowl, taking care not to tear the shell. Leave a thin layer of potato in the skin for support. Lay the hollowed out potato shells on a baking sheet and spread ½ oz Classic Bacon Jam in each. Place back into the oven at 350 degrees for 5 minutes.
  3. Whip the potato insides with sour cream and butter, place into the shells, and top with shredded cheese. Place back into the oven at 350 degrees until the cheese is melted.
  4. Top with finely chopped scallions and serve warm.

For a few recipes you could make, along with this one, for a stellar party platter, visit our sister site, And for even more recipes and to order TBJ Gourmet Bacon Jam, visit their website.

Please note: The E.A.T. (Everyone Around the Table) blog is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn a small amount of advertising fees by linking to while providing convenience for the reader.

Mama's Best Banana Bread, sliced.

Mama’s Best Banana Bread

Whenever bananas start to get a little brown in our house, my husband always says, “Looks like we need to make banana bread.” Which means, I need to make banana bread. My Mom used to make fantastic banana bread but she always made it by hand which was kind of an ordeal – all that banana mashing and mixing. I found an easier way to make it, putting my own spin on it. My family loved it so we dubbed it Mama’s Best Banana Bread.

Mama’s Best Banana Bread slices beautifully. It’s also great toasted and spread with butter.

Mama’s Best Banana Bread

Makes two loaves (halve recipe if you only have 3 ripe bananas)


6 ripe bananas (brown spotted on the peel and soft on the inside but still edible)*
3/4 cup sugar
1 cup safflower oil or coconut oil
4 eggs
Pinch of salt
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 3/4 cup unbleached white flour
1 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup chopped walnuts (optional) or you can sub chocolate chips or do half walnuts and half chips

*If you don’t want to have to hop to it and make banana bread every time a few start to go brown, you can freeze them in a plastic zipper bag in sets of three (to make one loaf, cutting this recipe in half). But the trick is to freeze them when they are still rather firm. Go too far into overripeness and, when you go to thaw them, they turn to brown goo in the bag. So. Gross. There’s a fine line between perfect to freeze and too old so try to catch them at the point at which you’d still eat them.

1. Put the bananas in a Cuisineart and blend them until they are mush.

2. Add all of the other in order. You can pour all but the two flours through the feed tube, keeping the machine running.

3. Take the lid off to pour in the flours. The only reason I don’t pour them through the feed tube is that they tend to overflow the small cylinder. But if you’re more talented than I am and can make it happen, go for it!

4. Keep the motor running until everything is blended, stopping to scrape down the edges if you need to, with a spatula.

5. Also using the spatula, add the nuts and/or chocolate chips at this point just to mix them in. The Cuisineart might chop them up which you don’t want.

6. Pour the batter into two bread loaf pans that you’ve sprayed with nonstick spray.

7. Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes. Then rotate the pans around and bake for another 30 minutes. Check for doneness by sticking a table knife in the center and pulling it out. If it comes out clean, you’re done! If it comes out with batter on it, cook it two minutes more and check again. It will continue baking a little more for a few minutes after taking it out.

8. Remove the baking pans from the oven and let them cool on a wire rack for about 10 minutes. Then turn them over and shake them a little. The loaves should come right out. Turn them right side up and let them cool completely before cutting into them. But when you do, use a serrated bread knife which will result in tidy slices that aren’t falling apart.

9. If you can resist the urge, the banana bread will taste even better the next day.

Be sure to let the bread cool completely before slicing into with a serrated bread knife. I’m not sure why one loaf split like that. Do you? Let me know. Of course, it didn’t effect the flavor at all. It just looks a little weird. But that’s par for the course when I’m cooking – because I’m a real person cooking real food in a real kitchen, just like you.


Pasta Carbonara made with bacon that was not a mess to make.

Pasta Carbonara and a Bacon Trick

Bacon. Onion. Garlic. Pinon nuts. Eggs. Pasta. Parmesan cheese. OMG, what a divine collection of wonderfulness! And they all combine together quickly and easily into my version of Pasta Carbonara which I’m going to share with you right now. And bonus, I’m passing on a great way to make bacon! I know, right? Let’s get started!

Pasta Carbonara made with bacon that was not a mess to make.

Finished and delicious Pasta Carbonara.

Here’s a great bacon trick for cooking it with a minimum of shrinkage and grease splatter: 

I wish I could take credit for this but I heard about this method on America’s Test Kitchen and it’s brilliant –

  1. Put bacon in a cold skillet and add enough water to just cover the bacon.
  2. Turn the heat on to Medium-High and cook until the water has evaporated. This helps prevent the bacon from shrinking and has the majority of the cooking happening “under water,” with no splattering.

    Raw bacon being cooked in water to prevent shrinkage and splattering.

    Here, I’m making a second batch of bacon which I cut up with a scissors, with water over it, starting to cook the bacon.

  3. Once the water is gone, let the bacon start to brown a little and then turn it over to brown the other side. Remove the bacon from the heat when it’s done and let it drain on paper towels.
  4. Now this part, I WILL take credit for – take a clean kitchen scissors and cut the bacon into little bite-size pieces and then follow the method above. This makes it easier to turn, means all the bacon fits in the pan, and leftover bacon will be ready for adding to scrambled eggs, salads, chicken dishes, or just sprinkling directly into your mouth, my personal favorite.

    Bacon starting to brown using the water-first method.

    The water is cooking off at this point and the bacon pieces are starting to brown. This is when you would want to put a splatter guard over your pan. Although, I guarantee you, you won’t have nearly the mess you would have if you’d been frying it without the water first!

Just wait until you try the method above. You’re going to thank me. In advance, you’re so welcome! Now, onto the recipe…

Easy Pasta Carbonara:

1 lb bacon in bite-size pieces (see an easy way to do that, above)
1/2 white or yellow onion, diced
3-4 cloves of garlic, chopped
1 lb spaghetti pasta
1/4 cup pinon nuts
3 eggs, whisked with a fork
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

Put a big pot of salted water on the stove so the water can start coming to a boil while you prepare the meal.

Brown the bacon according to the method above. Remove the cooked bacon to a paper towel-lined plate. Brown the onion in the same pan. As soon as it starts to look translucent, add the garlic, watching it very carefully so neither brown, especially the garlic which will get very bitter if overcooked. With a slotted spoon, remove the onion and garlic to another bowl.

Lightly brown the pinon nuts in the same pan (do we hear one-pan meal?!). Keep stirring them around so they brown evenly. Quickly remove them to the dish with garlic and onion.

By now, the pasta water has probably started boiling. Add the pasta and give it a good stir right off the bat to get those noodles separated and cooking.

Once the pasta is done, scoop out about 1/2 cup of pasta water. Drain the pasta but don’t fret too much about getting every last drop of water off the pasta because it’s going to be part of the sauce. Return the cooked pasta to the pot.

Add 1/2 of the Parmesan choose to the egg mixture and quickly pour it over the pot of noodles, stirring and lifting (use tongs or a pasta server) it quickly so that the egg/cheese mixture gets distributed over the pasta as much as possible. The heat from the pasta is cooking the egg.

Add just a little pasta water (too much and you’ll ruin it and disaster will strike) to take advantage of the starchy water mixing with the pasta, egg and cheese to help distribute everything.

Next, add the onion/garlic/pinon nut mixture and the bacon and toss everything around until it’s pretty evenly distributed.

Serve up the pasta and sprinkle the remaining Parmesan cheese over the top.

IF there’s any Pasta Carbonara left over (not likely, so better make extra), it’s delicious the next day (or two) for leftovers with just a drizzle of olive oil mixed in. Just sayin’.

The raw egg cooks in the heat of the noodles and adheres to the Pasta Carbonara.

The egg/parmesan mixture “cooks” in the heat of the pasta and adheres to the noodles. Delicious!


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Beef and Noodles with Mushroom-Onion Sauce

EAT - Beef and Noodles with mushroom onion sauce Served angle

Warning, what you’re about to see below, isn’t pretty. And it isn’t even appetizing. But believe me, in 7 hours or so, you’re going to be serving up something delicious (see above) and a lot better looking than when it started.

This dish started out as a version of beef stroganoff and was headed in the right direction. What I forgot was the important, very last step of removing the sauce from the heat and then whisking in sour cream. Instead of incorporating nicely and making the sauce creamy, the sour cream broke down under the heat and didn’t break up well without the help of a whisk. Still, the flavor was really good. So out with the stroganoff recipe I was going to give you and in with:

Beef and Noodles with Mushroom-Onion Sauce!

Serves up to 10 (serve one batch and freeze the other for tough day when you don’t want to cook)


2 chuck roasts (I get mine at Sam’s Club where they are packaged in two and when they are on sale)

1 can Campbell’s golden mushroom soup or cream of mushroom soup

1 can Campbell’s onion soup

1 can of water from the onion soup can

1 14-ounce container of full-fat sour cream

1 white or yellow onion, sliced

1 pound white button mushrooms, sliced or mix and match white button mushrooms with baby bellas

1 bag wide egg noodles

EAT - Beef and Noodles with mushroom onion sauce rawMethod:

  1. Place half the onion slices in the bottom of a crockpot.
  2. Place one FROZEN roast on top. Pour half of each of the soups on top.
  3. Place the other FROZEN roast on top of the other one, a slightly different direction as your crockpot will allow so they aren’t completely stacked on top of each other. You read right, I use frozen, rock solid hunks of meat because I found that it comes out beautifully tender, more so than if it was thawed.
  4. Put the rest of the onions and the rest of the soup on top. Note, with the cream of mushroom soup, you may need to take a rubber spatula to loosen it and glop it on, spreading it a little bit. It will make a funny sound coming out.
  5. Fill the onion soup can with water and pour it AROUND the two roasts, not over the top.
  6. Put the lid on the crockpot and cook it on HIGH about 7 hours. If you’re home to do so, at around 3-4 hours, carefully turn the meat over and switch their positions if you can, without splashing everywhere. This also helps with tenderness.
  7. Check the meat by sticking a fork in it at around 6-7 hours. It should be very tender.
  8. EAT - Beef and Noodles with mushroom onion sauce MeatCarefully remove the roasts and put them in a large bowl. After a few minutes, take two forks and shred the meat, removing any chunks of fat. Season with a little salt and pepper.
  9. Pour or ladle the remaining juice and onion into a pot over high heat. Stir periodically as it boils, cooking down and getting thicker.
  10. Turn off the heat and add the sour cream, a little at a time, stirring to blend it.
  11. Meanwhile, be cooking your noodles. If they get done early, drain them and drizzle with olive oil, mixing to coat them so they don’t stick so much.
  12. EAT - Beef and Noodles with mushroom onion sauce SauceIn a DRY, heated skillet such as a cast iron one, start cooking the mushrooms. This can actually be done in advance. Turn them periodically until they are brown and a little wrinkly. I learned a long time ago to cook mushrooms dry because they release their own liquid and will have a more intense flavor without the help of butter or oil. Add them to the sauce.
  13. Serve by spooning noodles in the dish, placing some shredded beef on top and then a good ladle or two of the sauce that has the onions and mushrooms in it. Sprinkle with some parsley, preferably fresh, for a dash of color.

EAT - Beef and Noodles with mushroom onion sauce Served angle


Unstuffed Pepper Casserole, ready to eat.

Unstuffed Pepper Casserole

Unstuffed Pepper Casserole, ready to eat.

I ended up using orange and yellow peppers because they were on sale and I love the flavor. This would have been super-colorful with red peppers in there too. As you know, I cook like a real person and am not into “plating” food beautifully for the family. This is likely what your meal will look like when you, a real person like me, serves it up!

My grandmother was the queen of figuring out better ways to do things. The dishes of her youth required women to be in the kitchen all day. But after decades of making these dishes the way her mother had and her grandmother, she found little shortcuts that saved time but tasted just as great. 

With her as inspiration, I found a better way to make the traditional stuffed pepper casserole by merely slicing up the peppers in my Cuisinart in about 2 seconds or by hand in about 2 minutes. This step means you no longer have to blanch the peppers to pre-cook them a bit. I take advantage of times when my produce department bags up peppers that are just past their prime (wrinkly but not moldy!) for a little budget move.

Here’s the recipe:

Unstuffed Pepper Casserole


4-5 medium-size peppers of your choice (green, red, yellow, orange or a combination) 

1 onion, diced

2 15-ounce cans tomato sauce

1 lb ground beef (or ground turkey, pork or sausage to your liking) – or omit for a vegetarian dish

2 cups uncooked rice

4 cups water

1 cup shredded sharp cheddar + 1/4 cup more to sprinkle over top

2 tsp. garlic powder

Salt and Pepper


  1. Make the rice by boiling the 4 cups of water, then adding the 2 cups of rice. You can use vegetable or chicken stock to enhance the flavor, which I highly recommend. Cook the rice according to package directions and remove from heat.

  2. At the same time, brown the ground beef and onion, adding salt and pepper to taste plus the garlic powder. Add more of the seasonings at the end if needed. You want the meat to have a lot of flavor.

  3. In a really big bowl, combine the rice and meat/onion mixture until well-blended.

  4. Bit by bit, add the cheese, stirring to incorporate before adding more, otherwise, you’ll just end up with a big cheese lump.

  5. Add the tomato sauce. It should not be soupy, just wet, kind of like oatmeal. If you don’t need all of the sauce, save it to pour over the top of the casserole once it is assembled.

  6. Slice the peppers – your food processor will do the trick but if you want to slice by hand, first, I recommend using a serrated knife because the peppers can be slippery. Slice to about 1/4 of an inch thin. You can remove the seeds and core after slicing, very easily.

  7. Assemble the casserole by first spraying an oblong pan like a Pyrex dish, with Pam or another nonstick spray. Then, spoon in a layer of the rice mixture, spreading it evenly along the bottom. But don’t press it down. Next, add a layer of the peppers. If you’ve used different colors, mix up the colors as you place them in to distribute the difference in flavors. Do another layer of meat/rice mixture and another layer of peppers, and so on, until you run out of both. That will probably amount to about 2 layers. IF you have any tomato sauce left over, you can drizzle it over the top. Sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top too.

  8. Put aluminum foil over the top, sealing the edges and bake for 15 minutes in a 350 degree oven. When the timer goes off, turn the pan around and bake for another 15 minutes because most ovens have hot spots so this provides an even baking. Everything in this dish is cooked, except for the pepper slices so baking just heats it through, melts the cheese and cooks down the peppers a little.

  9. Remove the foil and bake 8 minutes more, then serve, using a spatula to “cut” portion sizes. 

This dish is even better the next day and it freezes well too. Enjoy!

Unstuffed Pepper Casserole, hot out of the oven, ready to serve.

If you have room in your freezer, this meal is easy enough to double. Just let it cool completely before putting it in the freezer. The house smelled SO good as I was cooking it!