Wednesday, December 29

Mushroom Soup with Sherry and Truffle Oil

Inspired by Anthony Bourdain's Mushroom Soup from Les Halles.  This was the perfect way to use up my left over turkey stock from Christmas.  I couldn't believe how easy this recipe was to make - especially with a handy immersion blender!  This could easily be made vegetarian as well. 

6 tbsp butter
1 onion, thinly sliced
12 oz button mushrooms, halved (quartered if large)
4 cups chicken stock (or veggie if you want to make vegetarian)
1 sprig parsley  
3 oz sherry
1 tsp salt 
fresh cracked pepper
black truffle oil (optional) 
Melt 2 tbsp of oil in a large pot and saute onion until soft but not brown.  Add remaining butter, melt and then stir in mushrooms - saute 8 minutes.  Add parsley sprig and chicken stock and bring to a boil.  Cover and simmer for an hour.  
Puree with immersion blender or in pour into regular blender and puree.  If using regular blender, pour it back in the pot and bring back to a simmer.  Stir in sherry and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Drizzle with truffle oil if desired and serve.
Serve with crusty bread and brie cheese and a green salad for a complete meal.

Sunday, December 26

Christmas Day Menu and Memories

Merry Christmas 2010!  What a great holiday we had - it was my first time making Christmas dinner, first time roasting a turkey, and first time cooking a lot of these recipes.  I would do them all over again - and can't wait to cook again next year!

The day started with Christmas gifts and Breakfast Casserole

Then our friends Lee and Michelle came over and we had delicious appetizers to tide us over until dinner - Alton Brown's Shrimp Cocktail and Spinach Artichoke Dip.

Dinner turned out perfect!  Here is the full menu:

Simple Thanksgiving Turkey
Mom and Peggy's Thanksgiving Dressing
Homemade Whole Cranberry Sauce
Turkey Gravy
Creamed Brussel Sprouts with Pancetta
Rutabaga and Turnip Gratin
Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes
Garlicky Brocollini (Michelle is sending me the recipe - stay tuned!  It was delish!)

Dad was in charge of carving the turkey.

After dinner we had Pumpkin Cake for dessert!  First time I have ever baked a cake - it turned out really well.

We really couldn't have asked for a more perfect Christmas. 

Homemade Whole Cranberry Sauce

Nothing like homemade cranberry sauce - its so easy to make!

1 12oz package fresh cranberries
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup orange juice

Rinse and drain cranberries, set aside.  Bring sugar, water, and orange juice to a boil, then add cranberries and cover.  Bring back to boil, then lower heat to simmer for 10 minutes.  Cranberry sauce will be liquidy - place in tupperware container and chill for a few hours so it will set and be ready for dinner.

Creamed Brussel Sprouts with Pancetta

Inspired by a recipe in the cookbook "Two Dudes One Pan" - this was amazing!  Even Ryan enjoyed it and he hates Brussel Sprouts.

2 lb Brussel Sprouts, bottom rough part cut off and outer leaves removed
8 oz pancetta, diced
2 shallots, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Bring a pot of water to boil, add brussels to pot and simmer for 5 minutes.  Drain and rinse with cold water to stop cooking.  Transfer to cutting board and cut in half lengthwise.  Set aside.

In a nonstick skillet, saute pancetta until extra crispy.  Drain on paper towel lined plan, reserving 1 tbsp of fat.  Add shallots and garlic to skillet, saute until lightly browned and fragrant, about 2 minutes.  Ad cream and simmer until reduced by half, about 5 minutes.  Stir in Brussel Sprouts and pancetta and gently coat in sauce.  The sauce should have thickened a bit, but will still be liquid.  Serve with slotted spoon.

Rutabaga and Turnip Gratin

This was an easy and delicious dish - it reheats well so you can make well before dinner and then reheat for about 15 minutes at 400.  From Miller Union restaurant in Atlanta.

Serves 6

1 medium rutabaga (about 3/4 lb), peeled and sliced thin
1 medium purple turnip (about 3/4 lb), peeled and sliced thin
2 tbsp unsalted butter, diced into small cubes
2 tsp fresh thyme
2 cups homemade bread crumbs, seasoned with salt and pepper
1 cup chicken or veggie broth
1 cup heavy cream

Pre-heat oven to 450

Arrange thin layer of rutabagas in greased 8x8 dish (or equivalent).  Sprinkle layer with kosher salt, fresh ground pepper, and a little bit of thyme, then dot with tiny butter cubes.  Top with thin layer of turnips, season in the same manner and dot with butter cubes.  Repeat until turnips and rutabagas are gone.  Top with breadcrumbs and then pour broth and cream over breadcrumbs.  Press down on crumbs lightly to absorb the liquids.

Bake for 35 minutes until breadcrumbs are golden brown, and veggies are tender (test with small paring knife).  Allow to rest for 20 minutes before serving.

Breakfast Casserole

Thank you to Danielle for providing the original recipe.  I made a few changes/added some things - it was delish!  Perfect breakfast for a holiday morning because you can make it the night before and cook it up in the morning.

1 32oz package frozen Ore Ida Southern Style hash browns
6 oz fresh shredded cheese - I used a combination of sharp cheddar and smoked gouda
3/4 lb sausage, cooked and crumbled
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1/2 sweet yellow onion, diced
1 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
6 eggs
1 cup whole milk (make sure to use whole or casserole will cook up watery)
1 cup water

Pre-heat oven to 350.

Saute bell peppers and onion in a little bit of olive oil - season with salt and pepper.  In a large mixing bowl, mix frozen hash browns, sauteed veggies, cooked sausage, cheese, mustard and cayenne pepper.

In a small mixing bowl, lightly beat eggs then mix in milk and water.  Pour over hash brown mixture and mix thoroughly.  Pour mixture into 9x13 Pyrex dish.  At this point, cover and refrigerate overnight if making ahead of time for breakfast.  Otherwise, bake for 1 hour 15 minutes until bubbling on top and cooked through.  Pop under broiler for 5 minutes before serving to get a nicely browned top, if desired.  Allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Alton Brown's Shrimp Cocktail

Found this on - it was amazing!  It may seem a bit tedious to brine and broil the shrimp, but it really doesn't take much longer than steaming or sauteing and they were so flavorful it was totally worth it.

2 lbs 21 - 25 count frozen shrimp, thawed, cleaned, shelled, tails left on

For brine
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 cups ice

For cocktail sauce
1 14.5oz can diced tomatoes
1/2 cup Heinz chili sauce
4 tbsp extra hot prepared horseradish
1 tsp sugar
Fresh black pepper
1/2 tsp kosher salt

1 tbsp olive oil
Old Bay or Magic Seafood seasoning

Mix brine in a medium size mixing bowl.  Take cleaned shrimp and place in brine - marinate for 25 minutes in the fridge.

While shrimp is brining, place cocktail sauce ingredients in food processor and blend until smooth.  Store in refrigerator until ready for use.

Place empty baking sheet or broiler pan under broiler on high for 5 minutes.

Drain shrimp and place back in mixing bowl.  Toss with olive oil and seasoning.  Place shrimp onto hot broiler pan (shrimp will sizzle) and place back under broiler for 2 minutes, then flip to other side and broil for another 2 minutes.  Transfer cooked shrimp to container and refrigerate until completely chilled.  Serve with cocktail sauce.

Spinach Artichoke Dip

From the cookbook "Two Dudes One Pan" with a few adjustments.  It was so easy to make this will definitely be a staple appetizer for future parties.  

2 tbsp unsalted butter
6 garlic cloves - pressed
1 15 oz can artichoke hearts packed in water, drained and quartered
1 bag (5oz) baby spinach, chopped
1 pkg (8oz) cream cheese, cut in 6 pieces, room temperature
1/2 cup fresh grated Parmesan Reggiano
1 tsp kosher salt

Melt the butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat.  Add garlic and cook until it becomes fragrant - 1 minute.  Add artichokes and spinach and stir often until spinach is wilted - about 3 minutes.

Add cream cheese to skillet and mix until thoroughly combined with spinach and artichokes.  Turn off heat, mix in Parm-Reg and salt, then scrap into serving bowl.

Serve hot with slices of french bread.

Pumpkin Cake

Cake Ingredients:
2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 large eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1 can pureed pumpkin (2 cups)

Pre-heat oven to 350

Combine dry ingredients in large bowl and set aside.In a smaller bowl, lightly beat eggs then gradually beat in oil.&Beat egg mixture into dry ingredients.Once mixed completely, beat in pumpkin.

Pour batter into two greased and floured 9 in cake pans. Bake 35-40 minutes.

Frosting Ingredients:
6 tbsp butter
1 pkg (8oz) cream cheese
1 tbsp real maple syrup
1 lb powder sugar

Cream together butter and cream cheese. Beat in maple syrup. Gradually beat in powder sugar

Frost cake when cool, chill until served.

A new Thanksgiving favorite!

Saturday, November 20


Thanksgiving has always been my mom's favorite holiday - she makes the best Thanksgiving dinner I've ever had.  I've posted a ton of our recipes to the blog and here is the "official" menu.  A lot of these recipes are almost 100 years old - family recipes from my Grandmother Peggy.  I'll make sure to add pictures after the holiday.

Simple Thanksgiving Turkey
Mom and Peggy's Thanksgiving Dressing
Turkey Gravy
Twice Baked Potatoes
Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes
Angel Biscuits
Roasted Veggies - no recipe here but roast brussel sprouts and/or asparagus to add some color to the table

Desert (serve both with fresh whipped cream!)
Sara and Peggy's Apple Pie
Pumpkin Pie

I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving with friends, family and really good food!

Peggy's Angel Biscuits

Makes 3 dozen.  Dough can be made several days ahead of time, and biscuits can be baked the day before though they are best hot out of the oven. 

5 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
3 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 cup Crisco
1 pkg dry yeast
2 cups buttermilk
2 tbsp melted butter

Mix together first 5 ingredients in a large bowl and set aside.  Dissolve yeast into 2 tbsp warm water, then add buttermilk.  Add buttermilk and yeast to dry ingredients and stir together.  Cover and refrigerate for at least a few hours.

Roll out dough on lightly floured surface to 1/4 inch thick.  Cut and re-roll scraps to create additional biscuits - can be done twice.  Place on lightly greased baking sheet and brush tops of biscuits with melted  butter.  Cover biscuits with wax paper and let rise in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours

Bake at 400 for 15 minutes until golden brown.

Sara and Peggy's Apple Pie

Our grandmother Peggy was the queen of apple pies (rumor has it she used to bake them fresh some mornings for my mom and uncles to have for breakfast before school).  My sister Sara has actually perfected this recipe (and I'm hoping she'll make corrections to this version if needed!) and taken over apple pie duties around the holidays.

Make the full Homemade Pie Crust Recipe - one will be used for the pie shell, and the other will be used to top the pie.  Do not pre-cook pie shell for this recipe.

12 apples of mixed varieties - granny smith, macintosh, and pink ladies are all favorites
2 tbsp tapioca
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 stick of butter - cut up in small chunks

Pre-heat oven to 425

Peel and thinly slice apples and set aside in large bowl.  Mix all dry ingredients in a smaller bowl and set aside.  Start layering apples in uncooked pie shell and cover each layer with dry ingredients mix.  Apples will be piled high - but they shrink when they cook so don't get nervous you are using too much!  Once apples are completely layered and used, dot with butter chunks.  Top with second pie crust - use whole or cut into strips to decorate as you see fit.  Place pie pan on baking pan to catch any juices that over flow.  Bake for 60 minutes until pie is bubbling and crust is golden brown.

Pumpkin Pie

A Thanksgiving favorite!

Pre-bake Homemade Pie Crust as described.

1 15oz can pumpkin
1 12oz can evaporated milk
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
2/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
3 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves

Pre-heat oven to 425

Beat all ingredients together until thoroughly blended.  Pour into pie shell and bake at 425 for 15 minutes.  Reduce heat to 325 and continue baking 45 minutes.  Pie is done baking with center is fully set - check by inserting a knife in the middle and if it comes out clean its done!

Serve with fresh whipped cream.  Pie will keep in fridge for several days so feel free to make ahead and save yourself some time on turkey day!

Homemade Pie Crust

So easy and it tastes WAY better than store bought!

Makes two 10-inch pie crusts

2 2/3 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 cup Crisco
8-10 tbsp cold water

Sift flour, and stir in salt with fork.  Cut Crisco into flour mix until large pearl size clumps form.  Stir in gently 8 tbsp water with fork until completely mixed in - add additional 2 tbsp of water if it seems too dry.  Using your hands, form a large ball of dough but do not over work the dough.  Cover with plastic wrap and chill for 20 minutes.

Remove from fridge, and divide dough in two.  Roll out on floured surface until its about 1/8 inch thick.  Place rolled dough in pie pan and press down lightly so that it forms to pan - trim edges as needed and reform trimmings and roll out again for decorations if desired.  Or sprinkle with cinnamon and sugar and bake as described below for a tasty treat.

If you have a recipe that you need to pre-bake the crust for, bake at 425 for 15 minutes until golden.

Turkey Gravy

I thought this was so gross when I was a kid but now I can't eat Thanksgiving Turkey and Dressing without it!

Neck and Giblets from Thanksgiving Turkey
Chicken Bouillon
1 stick of butter
1/2 cup flour

Cover reserved giblets and neck from turkey with about 5 cups of water in a large sauce pan.  Add 2 chicken bouillon cubes.  Cover and slowly simmer for several hours - add more water as needed.  Once the turkey is about ready, strain the giblets and reserve the stock.  Discard all the giblets and neck with the exception of the liver which you can dice up and add to the gravy if that's your thing

Wipe out the sauce pan and melt a stick of butter in it.  Stir in 1/2 cup flour to make a roux.  Gradually add back in 2-3 cups of turkey stock, stirring constantly.  Once gravy simmers and has reached desired thickness (its up to you how thick you want it - the longer you stir it the thicker it gets) add chopped liver (if desired), cover and turn off heat but keep on oven to keep warm until ready to serve.

Simple Thanksgiving Turkey

I read all sorts of fancy cooking magazines that suggest some of the most beautiful but also complicated ways of cooking turkey.  My mom has never done any of these complicated techniques and her version turns out perfect every time - so here it is!

Cooks one 12 - 16lb turkey - preferably fresh from your local butcher shop - takes 4 - 5 hours

Pre-heat oven to 375.

Remove giblets and neck from turkey and reserve for Turkey Gravy.  Smear turkey with one stick of butter inside and out and season well with salt and poultry seasoning.  Criss-cross two slices of bacon on top of the breast.  Place in roasting pan and cover tightly with heavy duty aluminum foil.

After 1 1/2 hours remove turkey from oven and stuff with Mom and Peggy's Thanksgiving Dressing.  Turn heat down to 350 and recover turkey and stuffing with additional aluminum foil if needed.  Place back in oven for 3 more hours until done (check with meat thermometer).  Allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Mom and Peggy's Thanksgiving Dressing

This is the most amazing dressing/stuffing I've ever had.  We look forward to it all year long in my family.


Peggy's Cornbread - minus one or two slices
16 oz bag of Pepperidge Farm Herb Seasoned stuffing mix
2 sticks of butter
1 small bunch of celery - everything but the inside ribs
2 medium onions
1 large granny smith apple
8 oz package of mushrooms
1 tsp salt
2 tsp poultry seasoning
1 tsp Nature Seasoning

Crumble cornbread finely into a large bowl and mix with the whole package of Pepperidge Farm mix.  Heat two cups of water and two sticks of butter in microwave until butter has melted and fold into cornbread and breadcrumbs mixture. 

Slice celery, onions, apple and mushrooms into large chunks and finely chop using food processor.  Add to dressing mixture along with salt, poultry seasoning and Nature Seasoning and turn using hands to mix thoroughly. 

Dressing will be very moist, similar to a thick oatmeal texture.  Add broth if it feels too dry.

If cooking with the turkey, spoon dressing into and around the turkey after the turkey has been cooking for about 1 1/2 hours without packing as it will expand.  Rewrap the turkey with additional foil as needed and continue to bake at 350 until done.

If you do not want to cook this in the turkey, then bake in a well greased casserole dish at 350 until it is golden and crisp on top and fully baked throughout - about 1 1/2 hours. 

Thursday, November 18

Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes

Another Turkey Day Favorite

Serves 12

6 medium sweet potatoes
6 slices of bacon, crisp and crumbled (potentially reserved from Peggy's Cornbread)
2 tbsp brown sugar
6 tbsp butter
1/4 cup sliced scallions (dark green part only)
3 tbsp whole milk
2 oz Gruyere, grated
Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 375.   Bake potatoes for 45 minutes.  Remove from oven and increase heat to 400.

Once the potatoes are cool, slice in half and scoop out meat into a large bowl.  Reserve potato skins on a baking sheet.

Combine potato meat with remaining ingredients until mixed but not entirely smooth.  Season to taste with salt and pepper, and fill potato skins with mixture evenly.  Place back in oven and bake for 15 minutes.  Garnish with left over bacon crumbles if desired.

Twice Baked Potatoes

A favorite Thanksgiving side dish.

Serves 12

6 large baking potatoes
1 cup sharp cheddar, grated
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 cup whole milk
1/4 cup butter

Preheat oven to 375.  Bake potatoes for 45 minutes.  Remove potatoes from oven and turn heat down to 350.

Let cool, cut in half and spoon out meat of potatoes into a large bowl.  Reserve potato skins on a cookie sheet.  Add all ingredients to the bowl and mix until blended but not completely smooth.  Fill potato skins evenly with mixture.  Place back in oven for 20 - 30 minutes, until tops are slightly browned.

Potatoes can be made and stuffed a day ahead of time - just bake at 350 for 30 minutes and they are ready to serve!

Peggy's Cornbread

My grandmother Peggy made this cornbread, I think that her mom may have made this cornbread, and my mom now makes it every Thanksgiving.  It is the critical component of the Thanksgiving dressing!  Ideally you'd make this in an heirloom cast iron skillet but if you haven't got one I would recommend baking in a heavy bottomed Caphalon 12 inch skillet with deep rounded edges.

8 slices of bacon
2 cups white cornmeal
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
2 cups buttermilk
2 eggs, slightly beaten

Pre-heat oven to 400

Heat skillet over medium high heat and place bacon in pan - fry until crisp and fat is rendered, then remove from pan and set aside for another use.  Reserve fat in pan and keep warm.

In a large bowl combine cornmeal through baking powder.  Stir in buttermilk and eggs and mix until smooth.  Pour majority of hot bacon fat into batter - leave some in the skillet to keep greased - and stir until mixed.  Don't worry if the batter sizzles when you pour the fat in - it does that.  Pour the batter in the skillet and bake for 35 - 40 minutes until top is golden brown.

Autumn Apple Cranberry Bake

Thanks to Carol for introducing me to this dish!  Ryan and I have an ongoing debate over whether this is a breakfast or dessert.  I argue that most items with fruit in it can be eaten for breakfast or desert (and any other hour between).  This includes but is not limited to apple pie, peach cobbler and carrot cake (yes the last is a veggie but it still counts).

Adapted from the Franklin TN Junior League Cookbook

Serves 6

Pre-heat oven to 325

3 cups chopped, peeled green apples
1 12oz package fresh cranberries
2 tbsp flour
1 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Toss apples and cranberries with flour, sugar and cinnamon and pour into greased 9x13 baking dish.

1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup walnuts, chopped

Mix brown sugar, flour, cinnamon in a bowl.  Cut in butter and mix with fingers until crumbly.  Add walnuts and mix.  Spoon over apple mixture and bake 30-40 minutes until apples are tender and top is golden brown.

Tuesday, October 26

Veggie Sweet & Sour Soup

My attempt to get rid of the cough that has been plaguing Angelo this week. A little sweet, a little sour, a pinch of spice to knock that cold right from your chest.
1 large carrot, sliced thin
3 celery stalks, julienned
Quarter onion, sliced thin
mushrooms, sliced thin
1/2 red pepper julienned
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp fresh ginger, minced
2-3 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp vinegar (rice or white)
1 tsp fish sauce
1 tbsp spicy sesame oil
1 cube vegetable bullion
2 tbsp brown sugar
Sriracha sauce to taste
4 cups water
Angel hair pasta

In large sauce pan, saute onion, celery, carrots, garlic, and ginger in the sesame oil till the celery and onions start to turn clear. Add 1 cup of water and vegetable bullion. Allow to simmer till bullion has incorporated (of course you can use stalk, but bullion was all I had and it worked well).

Add vinegar, fish sauce, soy sauce, brown sugar and Sriracha and bring the pot back to a simmer. Add the remaining three cups of water, 1 at a time. Test flavor, add more soy/sugar/spice/vinegar as desired. Add mushrooms and peppers (I like them a bit more crispy when the soup is finished so I wait till the end.) Add about a good fist full of angel hair pasta directly to the pot. Cook 8 more minutes. Garnish with cilantro and lime & eat!

I added some tofu for a little extra protein, but this would be good with shrimp or chicken.

Sunday, October 10

Pumpkin-Walnut Muffins with Cinnamon Streusel Topping

1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ginger
1 can of pumpkin puree
1/2 cup half-and-half
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 cups sifted flour
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees
Combine in large mixing bowl and cream together: butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Fold in Pumpkin puree, and slowly add in half-and-half.
Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Fold into wet mixture. Stir in vegetable oil. Add in chopped walnuts. In a lined muffin pan, fill cups full. Should make 12 very full muffins.

Streusel Top:
Combine 1/3 cup sifted flour, 1/2 cup sugar, 2 tsp cinnamon and 1/4 cup cubed chilled butter. Mix together with a fork and knife, until large pearl sized clumps are formed. Sprinkle topping over muffin batter.

Bake muffins for 20-25 minutes.

Roasted Vegetables with Hollandaise and Smashed Red Potatoes

Roasted Vegetables:

Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees
Combine 3/4 cup olive oil, juice of one lemon, and 1/4-1/2 cup fresh chopped herbs. I used fresh parsley, cilantro, thyme and sage from my new fall herb garden. Add 1- 2 tsp kosher salt, ground pepper, red pepper flakes, and 2 cloves of garlic crushed. Whisk these ingredients together and set aside.
In an oven safe roasting dish, Pyrex dish, or oven safe pot, chop and combine a variety of fresh vegetables. I used 1 lb Brussels sprouts, 1 head of cauliflower, 1 red pepper, 5 carrots, 3 stalks of celery, 1 medium yellow onion, and 3 shallots. Pour olive oil- herb mix over vegetables and toss. Take 1/4 cup butter, cut into to cubes, and distribute over vegetables. Bake for 35 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.

Hollandaise Sauce:

Separate 4 egg yolks from the whites. Combine the 4 yolks with juice of one lemon in a metal bowl or a heat safe Pyrex bowl. Whisk in 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper, 1 tsp kosher salt, fresh ground pepper, and if desired 1 tsp tarragon. Melt 1/4 cup butter and set aside, re-heat if it starts to cool.
Over low heat bring one cup of water just to a simmer in a small saute pan and then remove from hot burner. Place yolk-lemon mix in its heat safe bowl over saute pan with hot water. Whisk in melted butter, and continue whisking until mixture has just started to turn a light yellow color about 1 minute. If kept over heat for too long the eggs will thicken and scramble.

Smashed Red Potatoes:

Boil 8 red potatoes till soft, about 20-25 minutes. Drain water. Roughly slice through potatoes with butter knife to break them up, leaving skin on. Add in 4 tbsp butter, 1/4 cup half-and-half, and beat together. Add in salt, pepper, and garlic to taste.

Monday, September 13

Mushroom and Barley Casserole

This is one of my favorite dishes I've tried in the last month.  I adapted this from 101 Cookbooks (which is one of my most favorite food blogs) and its just delicious.  I love how the barley and mushrooms create something so rich but healthy as well!

Serves 4

1/2 cup pearl barley (I love barley, but if you don't have it in your pantry sub brown rice)
1 1/2 cups water
1 veggie bouillon cube (optional)
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
6oz mushrooms (your favorite kind will do - I used baby bellas), chopped
1/2 large onion, diced
1 large clove of garlic, minced
1/4 cup mixed fresh herbs (basil, oregano, thyme - whatever you like best)
4 oz low fat cottage cheese
4 oz low fat sour cream
1 egg
2 oz fresh grated parmesan
Kosher salt

Preheat oven to 350

Boil the water, barley and bouillon in a large pot uncovered.  Once boiling, reduce to a simmer for 30 minutes or until the liquid has been absorbed. 

In the meantime, heat butter and olive oil in a saute pan.  Once butter has melted add mushrooms and saute until soft and golden brown and season with a bit of salt.  Add onion and garlic, season with a bit more salt and saute until soft.  Turn off heat and stir in barley.

In a large bowl, combine basil, egg, cottage cheese and sour cream.  Once combined, mix in barley mixture.  Pour cheese and barley mixture into an 8x8 dish, and sprinkle evenly with parmesan and fresh cracked pepper.

Bake uncovered for 30 - 45 minutes until cheese on top is well browned.  Allow to rest for a few minutes before serving.  Sprinkle with additional parmesan as desired.


Sunday, August 22

"So wrong it's right" Potato Salad

This was my first time making my grandmother's famous potato salad, and when I read the ingredients I actually had to call Mom because the first ingredient on the list confused me so much.  It also explained why I loved this salad so much as a kid.  That's because the first ingredient is BUTTER - yes folks - a salad made with BUTTER.  According to Mom, my grandmother used to use a full cup of butter to make this recipe, but over the years Mom cut it back to 1/4 cup, and I think you could even cut this in half again to 1/8 cup. 

Anyway, that's why I'm renaming this from Peggy's Potato Salad to a more modern "So wrong its right" Potato Salad - because adding butter to any type of salad is so wrong, BUT it tastes soooo right.

Makes 5 lbs of potato salad - enough to feed an army

5 lbs red potatos
2 tbsp butter
1 medium Vidalia (sweet) onion, diced
2 celery stalks, sliced
1/2 green pepper, diced
4 oz jar pimientos, including juices
3/4 cup green olives, sliced
3 tsp mustard (any type will do)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp Nature's Seasoning
Several generous sprinkles of pepper and dried dill
1/2 cup mayonnaise

Boil potatoes in a large pot.  The easiest way to get evenly cooked large quantities of potatoes is to start them in cold water and once the water finally starts boiling (its going to take a while) boil them for 15 minutes.

While your potatoes are boiling, put the butter and the onions in a large bowl and microwave for 2 minutes until butter is melted and onions have started to soften.  Add all ingredients except mayo to bowl and set aside.

When potatoes are done boiling, drain water, then peel potatoes (the skin should pretty much come right off) and place them in the large bowl with other ingredients while they are still hot so they absorb the flavors.  Using two knives, cut the potatoes into large chunks and use hands to toss evenly with the other ingredients.  Allow to cool for 15 - 30 minutes on the counter, then add mayo and toss with hands to mix evenly.  Season with additional salt and pepper as needed, then chill until ready to serve.


Sunday, August 15

Grilled Tandoori Chicken

This recipe has a lot of spices that you may not have in your cupboard, but its worth the investment.  Besides, they last forever, and you may find a ton of new ways to spice your recipes!

Serves 4

1 chicken (3 to 3 1/2 lb), cut into 8 pieces and skin removed (Note - if you prefer all white meat, just buy 3 lbs of breasts)
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 tbsp water
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 cup lowfat greek yogurt
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tbsp chopped fresh ginger
1 1/4 tsp ground coriander
3/4 tsp ground cumin
1/8 tsp cayenne

Using a sharp knife, cut shallow incisions in the chicken pieces at about 1/2-inch intervals. In a large, glass dish or stainless-steel pan, combine the lemon juice, water, salt, and turmeric. Add the chicken pieces and turn to coat. Let the chicken pieces marinate for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the yogurt, garlic, ginger, coriander, cumin, and cayenne. Spread over the chicken; turn to coat. Let marinate for 10 minutes.

Grill the chicken over moderately high heat (425 - 450).  Grill for 10 minutes, then flip and cook for an additional 10 - 12 minutes.

Serve with toasted naan, hummus, and chick pea salad.


Grilled Stuffed Portobello Mushroom Burgers

Serves 2

3 portobello mushrooms
1/2 yellow bell pepper
1 medium shallot
1 garlic clove
2 tbsp fresh dill - chopped
2 oz shredded gouda
Kosher Salt
Cayenne Pepper
1/4 cup mayo

2 Fresh hamburger buns from the bakery (Ryan and I like brioche buns from the local farmer's market)
1 small bunch of arugula or baby spinach
2 thin slices of fresh tomato

Take the mushroom caps and clean with a damp paper towel, brushing dirt off the cap.  Remove the stems from the inside of the cap, cut away any dirt, and set aside.  Scrape the gills out of the two prettiest caps using a small spoon.  Set aside.

Take the third cap (the not so pretty one) an chop it up along with the mushroom stems.  Grind in a food processor until coarsely mixed, then set aside in a bowl.  Next, chop the bell pepper, shallot, and half the garlic clove into large chunks, and grind in food processor until coarsely mixed.  Saute bell pepper mixture in a pan with a little bit of olive or grapeseed oil until soft - about 5 minutes.  Add chopped mushroom to bell pepper mix, and continue to saute until liquid is almost absorbed - about another 5 minutes.

Pour sauteed mixture into bowl, and add shredded gouda and 1 tbsp of dill.  Stir to combine and season to taste with kosher salt and cayenne.

Heat a grill to medium heat (about 400) and grill the whole mushroom caps stem side down.  This is very important - if you start with stem side up, the cap will collect juices and you'll have to drain it before you can continue.  Grill for 7 minutes, then transfer them to a plate and fill with sauteed cheese mixture.  Place back on grill, filling side up, for another 5 minutes.

While a friend takes care of the grilling, mix mayo, remaining garlic (pressed or minced), and last tbsp of dill in a small bowl.  Season with pepper, and keep in fridge until mushrooms are ready.  Toast buns in broiler, and when mushrooms are done, spread sauce on both sides of the bun.  Place mushroom on bottom side of bun, and add tomato, arugula and a bit more shredded gouda if you like.

Slice in half, and serve hot!


Grilled Tofu Rice Bowl with Sauteed Greens and Egg

For this recipe, prepare the tofu as described in the Tofu Taco recipe (pressing the water out).  This time we'll lightly marinate the tofu in the sauce, rather than brushing the sauce on, but grilling instructions are also the same.

Serves 2

1/2 block of extra firm tofu, drained and pressed

2 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
1/2 tsp brown sugar (heaping)
1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
1 small garlic clove, minced

1 1/2 tsp grapeseed or canola oil
6 oz washed spinach, stems removed, torn to bite sized pieces (I do not like to use baby spinach for this type of dish as I find it gets mushy)
1/4 cup thinly sliced shallots
1/2 zucchini, sliced into 1/4 inch rounds
1 bell pepper, diced
2 eggs
Basmati Rice
Sliced green onion, sriracha, soy sauce, kimchi for garnish

Prepare tofu and set aside.  Mix the next 6 ingredients and pour into a shallow dish.  Dip the tofu in the marinade and allow to sit for 1 minute, then turn to coat other side.  Repeat 1x on each side, then grill for 3-4 minutes on each side at medium heat.  Dice tofu when finished and set aside.  Reserve leftover marinade for next step.

Go ahead and get the rice started (prepare as much as you want to your liking) before moving to the next step.

Add 1 tsp grapeseed oil to saute pan, heat on medium.  Once hot, add shallots and saute 2 minutes.

Add bell pepper and saute for another 2 minutes.  Add zucchini and tofu, then pour reserved marinade into pan and simmer for a final 3-4 minutes.  Finally, add spinach to mix, turn off heat, cover and move to final step.

Get out one last fry or saute pan.  Fry up two eggs - we like ours with the yolk really runny so that it cooks on the hot veggies and really adds flavor to the whole dish.

While you are frying your eggs, have a friend prep the dishes.  By now, your rice should be done, so portion it out into two shallow bowls.  Split the veggies and grilled tofu and pile on top of the rice.  Now the egg should be done - top both bowls with one fried egg.

Garnish with condiments to your liking.  I like mine topped with slide green onions, a bit of sriracha, and kimchi.


Tuesday, August 3

Corn-Cauliflower Chowder

This soup, an unrehearsed original, was inspired by one I had at Table 1280 in Atlanta. I have gotten it as close as I know how. Let me know if you have suggestions or other modifications!

4 cobs of corn, shucked and kernels removed
1 large bag frozen cauliflower, thawed- if you use fresh you want about 2-4 cups.
1 bunch of parsley
1 1/2 cup baby carrots
1/2 of large sweet onion
2 large stalks of celery
1/2 cup white wine
1/4 pint heavy cream
2-3 cups water
1 tbsp butter
2 cubes vegetable bouillon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
Salt, pepper, and nature seasoning to taste.

Using a food processor, finely chop and grind carrots, celery, onion, corn kernels, cauliflower, and 1 cup fresh parsley, until they are a coarse puree. Combine with one tbsp butter in large soup pan over medium heat. Simmer vegetables for 10-20 minutes until they are soft. Add in vegetable bouillon, water and wine, as well as nutmeg, cayenne pepper, more salt and black pepper. Turn heat up to medium high and bring to a simmering boil for15-20 minutes. Reduce heat to low, allow to stop boiling, then stir in cream and continue over low heat for 5-10 minutes. Enjoy!

Sunday, August 1

Spiced Grilled Corn Salad

This was an amazing dish - we served it topped with grilled scallops and with a green salad topped with my Basil Garlic Buttermilk Dressing.  This would be a delish side for barbecue pork, or even Norman's Bomb-A** Shrimp!

Serves 4 as a side dish

1 small garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp red onion, small diced
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
3 large ears of corn, husked
2 tbsp mayonnaise
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp smoked paprika (pimenton)
3/4 cup cojita cheese or queso fresco, crumbled
2 tbsp cilantro, coarsely chopped

Grill corn according to instructions in my Grilled Corn recipe.  Once the corn is grilled, cut kernels from cob into a large bowl and set aside.

Mix first garlic, onion, and lime juice in a small bowl and allow to sit for at least 10 minutes.  Whisk mayo, pepper, and paprika in a seperate bowl, and add to lime juice mix once its finished marinating.  Combine thoroughly and add to grilled corn.  Mix in cheese and cilantro, and serve.

Sunday, July 25

Grilled Tofu Tacos

I know some of you are thinking - yuck!  But done right, grilled tofu is an excellent substitute for animal proteins. And because it quickly takes on the flavor of anything you marinate it in - grilled tofu is a fast and easy main course.  We've made two yummy grilled tofu dishes in the last week - here's the first one!

Serves 2

1/4 cup grapeseed or canola oil
2 tsp anchiote powder (also may be called "annatto" - uf you can't find it sub smoked paprika)
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1tsp tabasco or sriracha
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 block extra firm tofu (save the other half with liquid, use for rice bowl recipe later that week)
1/2 a medium zuchini sliced into 1/4 inch thick rounds
1/2 a medium onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, pressed
1/2 a red bell pepper and 1/2 a yellow bell pepper

Slice tofu block into 3 even pieces.  Layer on 3 paper towels, cover with an additional paper towel, and press with weighted bowl or pyrex dish.  Repeat pressing 1 - 2 times, switching out paper towels each time, until tofu feels fairly dry.  Set aside

Mix the first 5 ingredients in a small bowl and brush tofu slices with anchiote oil on each side.  Grill on medium high, 3-4 minutes each side.  Dice into even pieces and set aside.  Grill bell pepper halves skin side down until charred - 3 - 4 minutes each.  Slide into strips and set aside with tofu.

Saute onion and garlic in pan with remaining anchiote oil.  Once soft, add zuchini, and bell peppers until soft - another 3 minutes or so.

Add tofu to pan and stir to mix with vegetables - season with salt and pepper to taste, add a squeeze of lemon or lime if its too spice.

Serve with tortillas, guacamole, salsa and sour cream.  Makes about 6 tacos.

Tuesday, July 13

Seafood Risotto

For a pescatarian dish, omit the pancetta and add a tablespoon of butter instead.  Substitute the chicken broth for vegetable broth.

Serves 4

2 Tbs. EVOO
4 oz. pancetta, cut into small dice *ask the deli for a 4oz chunk or else they'll thin slice it for you
1 small onion, cut into small dice
2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup vermouth *I have used sweet and dry and they are both good
1 quart lower-salt chicken broth, heated *its very important to heat the broth for a creamy risotto
1/2 lb sea scallops, quartered
1/2 lb large shrimp
7 oz.  spinach, washed, spun dry, and coarsely chopped
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano; more for sprinkling
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, 4 to 6 minutes. Add the onion and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, 4 to 6 minutes longer.
Stir in the rice until well coated with fat. Add the vermouth and cook, stirring constantly until absorbed, about 1 minute. Add 1 cup of broth and cook, stirring constantly, until nearly absorbed, about 3 minutes. Continue adding the broth 1 cup at a time, stirring very frequently until each addition is absorbed, 20 to 25 minutes total. Add 1 cup of water and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the rice is just barely done, 3 to 5 minutes more.

Add the scallops, shrimp and spinach and cook, stirring constantly, until the scallops are just cooked, the spinach wilts, and the rice is mostly tender, with a little chew at the center, about 5 minutes longer. Stir in the Parmigiano and season to taste with salt. Serve immediately, sprinkling each portion with a little Parmigiano and a grind or two of pepper.

Monday, July 12

Cream Cheese Frosting

For carrot cake or red velvet cake.

Cream together until fluffy:
1 stick butter, softened
1 8oz package cream cheese

Gradually beat in 1 box powdered sugar.

Add 1 tsp vanilla extract (only real extract) and fold that into the frosting.

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

My awesome brother-in-law loves carrot cake.  My best friend Jenifer also just discovered she loves carrot cake.  Therefore, I had to post the most awesome carrot cake recipe of all time - my mom's.  Enjoy Joe and Jen (and everyone else!)

Pre-heat oven to 350

2 cups sugar
2 cups flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt

Beat in:
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups vegetable oil

Grate 3 cups carrots (do not use pre-grated carrots - they don't have enough juice to make the batter moist).  Add carrots to mix.  Pour mix into 3 greased and floured 9-inch cake pans and bake for 25-30 minutes, or if you use larger sheet cake pans increase time to 40-45 minutes.  Cool and frost with cream cheese frosting.

Sunday, July 11

Grilled Corn on the Cob

Simple but I had trouble finding out how to do it the right way the first time so wanted to publish it here just in case!

Corn on the cob - husks removed - enough for 1-2 per person

Pre-heat grill to medium heat and place corn cobs on the grill.  Cover and grill turning once for 15 minutes.  Serve with lots of butter and salt!

Another hint - corn on the cob is very delicate so you should cook it the first day you buy it from the store.  If for some reason you can't - store it in a damp paper bag in your fridge until you are ready to use but no more than 3 days.

Watermelon and Tomato Salad with Feta

A great summer side dish but good for only one serving - everything gets a little mushy second day.

Serves 6

4 cups 1 1/4-inch chunks seedless watermelon (about 1/2 of a small seedless watermelon)
1 lb ripe tomatoes large diced
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 tbsp EVOO
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp chopped fresh dill
1 tbsp chopped fresh mint
Fresh arugula leaves - washed
1/2 cup crumbled feta
1/4 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted

Combine melon and tomatoes in large bowl. Sprinkle with salt and toss to blend; let stand 15 minutes. Add oil, vinegar, and herbs to melon mixture. Season to taste with pepper and more salt, if desired. 

Divide arugula among plates. Top with melon salad; sprinkle with feta cheese and toasted almonds and serve.

Norman's Bomb A** Shrimp

This 4th of July we made our friend Norman's famous Bomb A** Shrimp plus Watermelon and Tomato Salad and Grilled Corn on the Cob.  It was quite a feast!  Norman kindly gave me permission to post his secret recipe - enjoy!

Serves 4 as an Entree but also works great as a appetizer

1 1/4 lb shrimp
1/4 cup EVOO
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp fresh parsley
2 tbsp dried oregano
2 cloves pressed garlic
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

Peel shrimp and set aside in fridge.  Combine all other ingredients.  Add shrimp and marinate for 30 - 60 minutes.  Skewer shrimp and place on medium heat grill.  Cook 1 minute each side and serve immediately.


I found this recipe online and with only a few modifications was able to make some amazing big biscuits. Sorry no photo for this one- alex and i devoured all 8 of them straight out of the oven!

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 and 1/2 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1/3 cup shortening
  • 1 cup milk


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Cut in the shortening until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Gradually stir in milk until dough pulls away from the side of the bowl. You may not need to use the full 1 cup- i used all but 1/8th cup!
  3. Turn out onto a floured surface, and knead 15 to 20 times. Coarsely roll dough out to 1 inch or 1 and 1/2 inch thick. Cut biscuits with a large cutter or juice glass dipped in flour. Repeat until all dough is used. Brush off the excess flour, and place biscuits onto an ungreased baking sheet. Should make about 6-8 huge fluffy biscuits.
  4. Bake for 14 to 16 minutes in the preheated oven, or until edges begin to brown.

Sunday, June 20

Arugula-Pecan Pesto

Serve over your favorite fresh pasta- i put mine over fettuccini and it was incredible!

1/2 cup pecans
2-4 cups fresh arugula (about a 1/2 lb)
3/4 cup EVOO
4-6 garlic cloves
1/2 cup Pecorino cheese
juice of 1/2 lemon
kosher salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Toast pecans in oven at 350 degrees for 8 minutes, once cooled coarsely chop. Peel and crush garlic cloves. Combine pecans, garlic and arugula in blender/ food processor and pulse until thoroughly chopped. Once chopped, gradually add in olive oil, lemon juice, pecorino, and salt/pepper- blend together until smooth. Prepare pasta as directed, return pasta to warm preparation pot, add pesto sauce and toss together!

Sunday, June 13

Orzo Salad

Excellent as a side dish or an entree. Goes great with fish or chicken.

1 package dry orzo pasta- prepared as directed to al dente.
1 pint size container of cherry/plum tomatoes sliced in halves and quarters
1 medium purple onion finely chopped
1 bushel fresh basil, rinsed and finely chopped
1 package pre-crumbled reduced fat feta cheese
Juice of 1/2 lemon
5-6 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 tbsp Balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp salad vinegar
1 tbsp red-wine vinegar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 can sliced black olives
fresh pepper and additional kosher salt to taste

In small mixing bowl, whisk together 4 tbsp EVOO, 2 tbsp Balsamic vinegar, 1 tbsp salad vinegar, 1 tbsp red-wine vinegar, lemon juice, 1/2 tsp salt, and pepper (as desired).

Prepare orzo pasta as instructed above, then rinse in cold water. Place prepared orzo in a large mixing bowl, drizzle with 1-2 tbsp EVOO. Add in prepared vegetables; tomatoes, onion, and basil and black olives. Add in salad dressing mixture and toss ingredients together thoroughly. Add in feta cheese and toss thoroughly once more. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Cover and chill for at least 1 hour before serving. (If salad seems dry after chilling add in 1 more tbsp EVOO and 1 tbsp Balsamic vinegar. )

Sunday, June 6

Shrimp Linguini

Super yummy. Very easy.

3/4- 1lb peeled and deveined large shrimp (about 16-20 pieces)
1 package fresh linguine pasta (not the dried kind, the kind that has to be refrigerated)
Juice of 1 lemon, plus 2 lemon wedges (about 1 and 1/2 lemon)
1 cup white wine (the cheaper the better)
2 garlic cloves, crushed/ pressed
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp favorite fish seasoning (Magic or Old Bay)
Sprig of fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

In a Medium/ Large saute pan melt 1 tbsp butter and add garlic cloves over medium heat.  About the same time set the water to boil for pasta- fresh pasta cooks fast!!! Cook as desired then add generous amount of olive oil or butter once drained.

Add wine, juice of one lemon, and fish seasoning to saute pan. Bring to a rapid simmer over medium heat.  Once simmering, add shrimp. Cook until done (will be pink and curled) about 4-6 minutes over medium heat. Remove the shrimp from the liquid in the saute pan, and place in a heat safe dish.

Turn heat up to medium-high on your sauce as to reduce it. Will simmer, darken slightly and pull away from pan rim slightly (about 3-5 minutes.)

Place linguine on plate and distribute shrimp, each plate gets 8-10 pieces, if cooking for two. Generously, but equally, distribute your reduced white wine sauce over the shrimp and linguine. Garnish with a dusting pf parsley, Parmesan, and your lemon wedges.

Serve with remainder of white wine!

Vegetable Noodle Casserole

This my own personal spin on a noodle casserole

1 medium- large zucchini cut into 1/4 inch thick slices
1 medium- large yellow squash cut into 1/4 inch thick slices
1 medium sweet onion coarsely chopped
1 small red pepper sliced
1/2 cup shredded carrots
2 cups broccoli florets
1-2 cups portabella mushrooms sliced
1 crushed/ pressed garlic clove
1 bag whole-wheat egg noodles, prepared for firm texture
2 cups mixed Italian (or your favorite) shredded cheese
1/4 cup Parmesan
1 can Fat Free Cream of mushroom soup
1 cup vegetable broth
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 cup bread crumbs
Salt & pepper
1 tbsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp rubbed sage
Nature seasoning to taste.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Spray a 9x13" casserole pan with oil (or use your favorite casserole pan/ oven safe pot).

Prepare egg noodles as directed for firm texture, drain, and place back in pot used to boil noodles.

Saute squash, broccoli, onion, and garlic clove over medium-low heat in vegetable oil for 10 minutes. Season as desired with suggested seasoning above. Add red peppers, carrots, and the mushrooms. Gently stir, and cover with lid for additional 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat. Leave covered. Do not over/completely cook vegetables.

In the pot containing noodles, add cream of mushroom soup, veggie broth, and milk. (the heat from the noodles should make the liquids mix together). Add in all of the vegetables and toss with noodle mixture. Stir in 1 cup of Italian cheese mix.

Transfer mixture into casserole pan (or leave in oven safe cooking pot). Will be fairly liquidy. Sprinkle remainder of the cheeses over top of casserole. Distribute bread crumbs over the top. Cover with Aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for additional 10-15 minutes, or until cheese and crust have browned and the casserole is bubbling.


Tuesday, May 25

Chickpea Salad

The perfect summer side dish!

2 cans of chickpeas (garbanzo beans--they are exactly the same thing)
1 small can of corn
1/2 fresh jalapeno diced small
1/2 orange pepper diced
1/2 yellow pepper diced
1/2 cup roughly chopped cilantro
1/2 small red onion, finely diced
juice of one lime
olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

Rinse chickpeas under cold running water. Toss all ingredients in a large bowl. Drizzle with about 2 tbsp olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste. Allow to sit in the refrigerator for about 20 minutes, toss and serve!

Monday, May 24

Summer Squash Pizza with Shrimp and Goat Cheese

I've been on a Goat Cheese kick lately (obviously).  This is a quick, easy, delicious pizza.

Makes one 10-inch pizza

6 oz whole wheat pizza dough
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium garlic clove, pressed
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1/3 cup shreaded mozzarella
1 tsp fresh savory, chopped
1/2 small zuchinni, thinly sliced
1/2 small yellow squash, thinly sliced
3 mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 oz fresh goat cheese, crumbled
1/4 shrimp, peeled, and patted dry
Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 450.  In a small bowl, combine olive oil and pressed garlic, and allow to sit.  Spray baking sheet lightly with oil.  Dust dough with flour and press or roll to your desired thickness.

Rub garlic oil over rolled dough, leaving 1/2 an inch of crust.  Sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.  Scatter shallots and top with mozzarella and savory.  Arrange squash and zucchini in a single layer, then top with mushrooms and goat cheese.  Finally, add shrimp evenly to the top and put in the oven.  Bake for 18 - 22 minutes, allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.

Saturday, May 8

Veggie Pasta with Goat Cheese

This is one of mine and Ryan's favorite weekday dinners.  Its easy, healthy, and filling.

Serves 2-3

1 Large Shallot - thinly sliced
1 Medium Red Bell Pepper - diced
1 Medium Yellow Squash - thick sliced, quartering the larger slices
1 Medium Zucchini - thick sliced
1/2 Package Baby Bella Mushrooms - quartered
1 Bunch of Spinach (do not use baby spinach) - washed and torn into large pieces
2-3oz Fresh Crumbled Goat Cheese (I like to use herbed Goat Cheese but plain is good too)
Dried Red Pepper
Kosher Salt
Fresh Cracked Pepper
Olive Oil
Whole Wheat Pasta (enough for 2 - 3)
Fresh grated Parmesan (optional)

Prep all the veggies as detailed above.  Start water boiling for pasta.  In a large saute pan with a lid, heat 1 tbsp of olive oil over medium heat.  Add shallots and saute until golden.  Add red bell pepper, and season with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes.  Sautee until red bell pepper starts to soften.  Add squash and zucchini and saute until they start to soften - if they start to brown add a bit more olive oil to the dish.  Add mushrooms and saute until soft, then add spinach.  Cover with lid and lower heat to medium-low.

By now your water should be boiling, so add your wheat pasta to cook.  When finished, drain and divide into large shallow bowls.  By now spinach should be wilted so stir the veggie mix and season to taste with additional salt/pepper if needed.  Top pasta in bowls with crumbled goat cheese, and then top with veggie mix.  Serve with fresh grated Parmesan cheese.

Ryan and I have also used shrimp in this dish on occasion which is a nice additon.

Sunday, April 18

Cold Chinese Noodles

Serves 4

1/2 pound thin spaghetti
1/2 cup sesame oil
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons kosher salt
2-4 tablespoons hot oil (depending on your heat preference)
4 scallions, white and green parts, sliced

Cook spaghetti according to package directions. Drain. While spaghetti is cooking, mix remaining ingredients together. Place drained pasta in a bowl and toss with sauce. Allow noodles to sit at room temperature for 1 hour before serving.

This is terrific as a side dish for grilled Asian flavored meats, poultry and tofu.

Friday, April 16

Salmon Croquettes - Light Style

25 minute meal

We make this a lot. It is delicious and low calorie

1 can (14.75oz) or 2 cans (7.5oz) traditional pack Alaska salmon drained and chunked
¼ cup fat-free mayonnaise
2 Tbsp fat-free mayonnaise
¼ c dry bread crumbs
¼ c chopped green onions
1 egg
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp Cajun, Creole or blackened seasoning mix
2 tsp margarine or butter
1 tsp Dijon style mustard
lemon wedges

In a medium bowl, combine salmon, ¼ c mayonnaise, bread crumbs, green onion, egg white, lemon juice and seasoning. Mix well: shape into four ½” thick patties. Melt margarine in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add patties; cook 3-4 minutes each side until golden brown.
Meanwhile combine 2 Tbsp mayonnaise & mustard. Serve with patties and lemon wedges

Cannellini Beans and Pasta

Shells with White Beans and Chicken

This dish can be made vegetarian - just leave out the chicken and start with onion and celery. We used herbs from our herb garden to make it an even tastier special dish!

1 lb chicken cut in cubes
1 tbsp olive oil
¾ tsp salt (if vegetarian you will only need ½ tsp salt)
½ small onion (finely chopped)
2 ribs of celery chopped
½ cup sliced mushrooms (I added mushrooms for potassium)
3 cloves of garlic chopped
(1) 28 oz. Crushed tomatoes
(2) 15 oz cans of cannelloni beans
½ tsp dried oregano
½ tsp dried basil
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
1 lb medium sized shells
Grated cheese as needed

Cook chicken cubes in oil about 5 minutes (season with ¼ tsp salt)
Cook onion and celery in chicken drippings (leftover if using chicken) for about 5 minutes. *If vegetarian start onion and celery in oil. Add garlic and mushroom and cook for 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes, beans, oregano, basil, red pepper flakes and ½ tsp salt. Bring to a boil then simmer for 12 minutes. Cook pasta. Then add beans to mixture along with 1 cup of left-over water from the pasta.

Serve over pasta and add grated cheese to taste
Serves 8
483 calories with chicken (less if vegetarian)

Wednesday, April 14

Black Bean Burgers w/Mango Coleslaw

I normally don't cook vegetarian meals just because I enjoy my meats but this looked WAY too good to pass up! I made a few changes...mainly because I thought the salsa was a little boring and I wanted to add some cabbage. The original recipe also called for some avocado to be added but since I make meals a couple of days in advance, I didn't add that in. I'm thinking a small dollop of sour cream on top of this would be killer!

Side Note: These have a bit of a kick to them but not too much. If you like it SPICY, I would add the entire jalapeno

Side Note Part Deux: I didn't include a picture because honestly, it looks like mashed beans in a patty form. Not that appetizing.

Black Bean Burgers w/Mango Coleslaw
Serves 6

2 (15oz) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
3/4 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
1/4 cup panko
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 medium jalapeño pepper, finely chopped
2 large egg whites
Cooking spray
1 1/4 cups chopped peeled mango (about 2 medium)
3 tbsp chopped shallots
1 1/2 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 bag of cabbage coleslaw
1 garlic clove, minced
6 whole-wheat hamburger buns or sandwich thins


Preheat oven to 350°

Place black beans in a medium bowl; mash with a fork. Stir in 1/2 cup cheese and the next 6 ingredients (through egg whites). Shape bean mixture into 6 (1/2-inch-thick) patties. Arrange patties on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350° for 20 minutes, carefully turning once. And seriously, be careful! They fall apart pretty easily!

Combine remaining mango, and the next 4 ingredients (through minced garlic) in a medium bowl. Place a patty on bottom half of each hamburger bun; top each with 1/3 cup salsa, and top half of bun.

Friday, April 9

Yummy Chicken

I don't know a better name for this dish. Chicken wrapped with thinly sliced ham, cheese, and tomatoes. Baked into moist-goodness. Choose to make as many as you want.

Preheat oven 375

You will need:
- Chicken breast cutlets pounded thin****Buy the already pounded thin chicken breasts (I think Perdue makes some). Otherwise pound thin as many boneless/skinless chicken breasts as you want to make.
- thinly sliced ham
- thinly sliced cheddar or provolone cheese
- finely chopped tomato
- fresh chopped rosemary
- small dish of melted butter or margarine
- Italian bread crumbs

Once pounded thin, place a piece of ham (if breast is big, can overlap two pieces), a piece (or two) of cheese, sprinkle on some finely chopped tomato, sprinkle with rosemary. Roll up and secure with toothpick if need to. Dip in melted butter and roll in bread crumbs. Bake 40-45 min, depending on thickness.

Tuesday, April 6

Basil Garlic Buttermilk Dressing

I've become a big fan of making my own salad dressings.  This is an incredibly versatile dressing that I found on Epicurious. The first time I made it, I had all ingrediants and it tasted awesome.  Tonight, my basil was not as fresh as I would have liked and I substituted a tbsp of shallots and several generous shakes of dried dill and it was still amazing.  The flavors will reach their peak around day 3 - but that is also as long as it will last in the fridge so make sure to use it up by then!

1 garlic clove
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cup well-shaken buttermilk
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh basil

Sunday, April 4

Chipotle Shrimp

Serve with Southwest Black Bean Quinoa Salad and 1/2 an avocado for a complete meal.

Serves 2

1/3 cup mayonaise
2 tsp minced chipotle in adobo sauce
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 lb shrimp (21-24 per lb size) - peeled and deveined if needed
1 cup panko bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 475.

Mix the first 3 ingredients in a small bowl.  If you'd like, split the marinade in 1/2 and save the rest for chicken later in the week.  Pour the panko into a different bowl.  Coat the shrimp in the marinade, then dip in panko shaking off excess.  Put shrimp on baking sheet covered with foil.  Bake shrimp 10 minutes and then turn over and bake for another 6-8 minutes.  Remove from oven once the panko crumbs are golden brown.  Serve immediately.

  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise

  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped chipotle chiles in adobo plus 1 teaspoon adobo sauce

  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise

  • 2 teaspoons finely chopped chipotle chiles in adobo plus 1 teaspoon adobo sauce

  • 3/4 teaspoon salt

  • Southwest Black Bean Quinoa Salad

    Quinoa Salad lasts about 3 days in the fridge and tastes great over a bed of lettuce - makes for a great left-overs lunch. Serve alongside the Chipotle Shrimp with 1/2 an avocado for a complete meal.

    Serves 2

    1 can black beans - rinsed
    1/2 cup quinoa
    1 1/2 tbsp sherry vinegar
    1 1/2 tsp soy sauce
    1 1/2 tsp fresh lime juice
    1/2 chipotle in adobo, minced
    3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil or grapeseed oil
    3 scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
    1/2 small red onion, finely diced
    1/2 red bell pepper, finely diced
    1/4 cup chopped cilantro

    In a medium saucepan, combine the quinoa with 1 cup of water and bring to a boil. Cover the saucepan and simmer the quinoa over low heat until the water has been absorbed, about 15 minutes. Allow to sit for an additional 5 minutes, then put in a small mixing bowl and set aside.

    In a medium mixing bowl, whisk the vinegar, soy sauce, lime juice and chipotle. Add the olive oil in a thin stream, whisking until blended. Add the black beans, quinoa, scallions, red onion, bell pepper and cilantro. Season with salt, toss to combine and serve.

    Wednesday, March 31


    Tomato basil hummus is a bold, exciting flavor of hummus that has a Mediterranean influence. Perfect with piping hot pita!

    · 2 cups chickpeas, drained and rinsed, or soaked if using dried
    · 1 can (15 ounce) whole, peeled tomatoes
    · 2 tablespoons of tahini
    · 2 ½ tablespoon fresh lemon juice
    · 2 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
    · 1/4 teaspoon cumin
    · 1 clove of garlic, crushed
    · 1/2 teaspoon salt
    · 2 ½ tablespoon basil, chopped

    In a blender or food processor, blend the chickpeas. Add tomatoes, olive oil, tahini, lemon juice, garlic, cumin, basil, and salt until the ingredients form a creamy, paste-like consistency. Pour the mixture into a large serving bowl. Cover and refrigerate for one hour.

    I put this hummus on a wrap with cucumber, spinach and tomato and make a sandwich!


    While mushrooms provide plenty of flavor and texture* the addition of pinto beans makes this veggie burger high in fiber & protein too. This recipe is both vegetarian and vegan!.

    · 2 tbsp vegetable oil
    · 1 onion, diced
    · 1 clove garlic, minced
    · 3 green onions, diced
    · 1/2 tsp cumin
    · 3/4 cup diced fresh mushrooms
    · 1 15 ounce can pinto beans
    · 1 tsp parsley
    · salt and pepper to taste
    · oil for frying

    Sautee the onions and garlic in olive oil for 3 to 5 minutes, until onions are soft. Add the green onions, cumin and mushrooms and cook for another 5 minutes, until mushrooms are cooked. Set aside.
    Mash the beans with a fork or a potato masher, or process in a food processor until well mashed.
    Add the mushrooms to the beans and add parsley, salt and pepper. Stir until well combined.
    Shape the mixture into patties. Heat about two tablespoons of olive oil and cook each patty until the veggie burgers are done, about 3 minutes on each side.

    *Mushroom protein is also superior to many other vegetable proteins on account of its essential amino acid content. The white cap mushroom ranks above all other vegetables, except beans and peas in this respect. Between 70-90 per cent of the vegetable protein present can be easily digested. They are an excellent source of minerals, especially potassium and a good source of vitamins, particularly B vitamins

    Friday, March 26

    Risotto Primavera

    Delicious and veggie packed!  Addition of fried egg is not necessary but adds a nice bit of protein to the meal.

    Serves 2

    2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
    1 cup chopped button mushrooms
    1/2 cup chopped onion
    2 garlic cloves, minced
    1 cups arborio rice
    1/4 cup dry white wine
    2 cups vegetable broth
    1/3 cup diced carrots
    1 cups diced asparagus (stalks only - no tips)
    3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
    1/3 cup shelled fresh peas or thawed frozen peas
    1 tbsp chopped fresh Italian parsley
    2 eggs

    Melt 1/2 tablespoon butter 12-inch pan over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms; sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Season mushrooms with salt and pepper. Set aside. Wipe pan clean.

    Melt 1 1/2 tablespoons butter in the same pan over medium heat. Add onion; sauté until beginning to soften, 3 minutes. Add garlic; stir 1 minute. Add rice and stir until translucent at edges, 5 minutes. Add wine. Stir until liquid is absorbed. Add 1/2 cup broth. Simmer until broth is absorbed, stirring often. Add carrots, asparagus, and another 1/2 cup broth. Simmer until liquid is absorbed, stirring often,. Continue to slowly add remaining broth (about 1/4 cup at a time), until rice is just tender and mixture is creamy, stirring often and letting almost all liquid be absorbed after each addition, about 25 minutes total.

    Stir cheese, peas, parsley, and mushrooms into risotto. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and let sit while you fry the eggs.

    Mound 1 cup risotto on each of 2 shallow bowls. Using back of spoon, make hollow in top of each mound. Top each with egg, and sprinkle with addditional cheese if desired.

    Wednesday, March 17

    Greek Goddess Wrap

    I saw this recipe in Sunset magazine (what, my mom gets it!) and was immediately drawn to it. There was a couple of issues...the most importantly that it wasn't that healthy. But with a few changes and a MAJOR reduction in the amount of sauce used, this becomes a very tasty lunch.
    Side note: This makes A LOT of dressing. If you won't use it for something else, I would reduce by 1/3-1/2. (However it rocks so I would probably find a reason to use it)
    Side note part deux: I'm thinking feta would also be awesome in this!
    Greek Goddess Wrap
    Serves 4

    4oz mushrooms, thinly sliced
    1tbsp fresh lemon juice
    2 cups shredded skinned rotisserie chicken
    4oz baby spinach
    4 whole-wheat tortillas
    1 yellow pepper, cut into strips
    4 thin slices muenster cheese
    For dressing:
    1 garlic glove
    2 tbsp each roughly chopped parsley, chives and fresh tarragon
    5-7 kalamata olives, depitted (is that a word?)
    1tbsp white wine vinegar
    1/2 cup mayo (light or otherwise)
    1/2 cup low fat sour cream (if you hate sour cream, you could use plain yogurt)
    Combine all ingredients for dressing in food processor and pulse until well blended.
    Make wraps: In a medium bowl, toss chicken with about 1/2 cup dressing until evenly coated. Lay tortillas flat on a work surface. Arrange equal portions of chicken down the center of each. Evenly top chicken with bell pepper, mushroom, cheese and spinach. (if you wanted to, you could add another drizzle of dressing. But honestly, you don't need it). Fold tortilla over short sides of filling, then roll up, starting from long side of filling.

    Tuesday, March 16

    Quesitos for Breakfast, Mofongo for Dinner

    Myself and several Let's Dish ladies went to Puerto Rico last week.  While we were there we ate some amazing food - and two of our favorite dishes were mofongo and quesitos.  This is true Puerto Rican cuisine - no kidding!  Here are recipes I found for both - I haven't made them yet but hope to give it a go this weekend. 

    Quesitos (Puerto Rican Danishes)
    We ate these almost every morning once we discovered the little bakery across the street from our hotel.

    1 puff pastry sheet package (specifically, 1 sheet)
    8 oz cream cheese, softened
    3 Tbs sugar
    1 tsp vanilla
    1/4 cup light corn syrup
    Egg white of 1 egg

    Mix together cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Cut pastry sheet into 3” x 2” rectangles.

    Place about 1 tsp. cheese mixture in the middle. Grab one edge and pull into the center of rectangle. Pinch tip into the middle of the sheet. Grab the edge across from it and wrap around towards the end across from it. Pinch at the bottom.

    Brush with egg whites and roll in sugar. The sugar is to taste, but ideally a quesito has a nice sugary crust that crunches when one takes a bite.

    Bake 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees until golden. Remove from oven and brush with a moderate amount of light corn syrup over each one. Let cool for 10 minutes before eating.

    This was a really unique dish - made of deep fried, mashed plantains that are stuffed with various meats/seafood and served in a gravy.  The equivalent of Puerto Rican soul food.

    Makes 25 Mofongo Dumplings

    2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
    3 cloves Garlic Clove
    1/4 lb Hickory Smoked Ham
    1/4 cup scallions
    1/4 cup Cilantro, Fresh
    1/2 cup Manzanilla Olives
    1 1/2 lime yields Lime Juice Raw
    1 cup Tomato Puree
    1 cup Tomato Sauce
    2 lb Raw Shrimp Medium
    4 cup Plantains
    1/8 cup Corn Oil

    Heat the olive oil in a large skillet.

    Add the stuffing ingredients (olive oil, peeled and crushed garlic, diced ham, sliced scallion, roughly chopped cilantro, chopped manzanilla olives, lime juice, tomato puree, tomato sauce), except the shrimp, and saute over medium heat for five minutes.

    Add the shrimp (peeled, cleaned, cut in half) and cook until they turn pink. Set aside.

    Peel the plantains and cut them into 1/2-inch slices. Heat the corn oil in a large skillet and fry the plantain slices until they are golden brown. Drain on paper towels.

    Mash 5 or 6 plantain slices (in a mortar) with a little of the stuffing liquid. Fold in 1/2 cup of the shrimp mixture and shape stuffing onto a ball with your hands. Repeat the process five more times.

    Thursday, March 4

    My Favortie Brownies

    If your in need of a chocolate fix this recipe never fails me!

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees, prepare a greased brownie pan.

    Cream together in mixing bowl:

    1/2 cup butter

    1 cup sugar

    1 tsp vanilla

    2 eggs

    In seperate bowl sift together:

    1/2 cup flour

    1/3 cup Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate Cocoa powder

    1/4 tsp baking powder

    1/4 tsp salt

    Have a bag of Hershey's Special Dark Chocolate Chips near by.

    Add dry mix to wet mix, and thoroughly combine. Spread evenly into greased baking dish, will be about 1/2 inch in height. Now, sprinkle 1-2 handfuls (about 1/2 cup give or take) of Hersheys Special Dark Chocolate Chips over the top of the batter in the baking dish. Place in oven for 25-30 minutes, check center to see if done, if not done cook further at 3 minute intervals.

    Best served hot out of the oven with vanilla icecream and a tall glass of milk!

    Sizzlin Salmon

    This is a dish inspired by a recipe in momma's cookbook. Alex declares its the best salmon he's ever tasted!

    For one salmon filet with skin on:

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees

    Mix together: 1 tbsp mayo, juice of 1 lemon, dash of paprika, dash (or three) of dill, and a very generous sprinkly of MAGIC SALMON SEASONING or Old Bay or your favorite fish season.

    In an oven safe pan sprayed lightly with oil and set to medium heat, place the salmon skin down onto hot pan (will crackly and simmer). Leave skin side down for at least 1-2 minutes. Meanwhile sprinkle up side of the salmon with more of your favorite fish seasoning, in my and Amanda's case MAGIC SALMON.

    Now, flip salmon over to the other side, still over medium heat to brown. Here the skin of the salmon should peel easily off with the help of a spatula- if its still on tight flip over again and cook for another minute or two. If skin falls off easily, sprinkle the naked side of the salmon with more MAGIC SALMON. Cook the face down side until it has gained a nice golden brown color (usually 3-5 minutes). Once salmon top is brown, flip back over for the final time, coat generously with your special mix (totally fine if it runs onto your pan) then pop in the oven for 13-17 minutes depending on how done you like your salmon.

    Remove from oven, let sit 2-5 minutes. Best served with asparagus, rice pilaf, 2 glasses of wine and a good friend! enjoy!

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