In New England, we are love to celebrate the fall season. Cool morning with warm sunny days, jewel-tone leaves, farm roadside stands bursting with the last of summer’s bounty all signal the change in the seasons. Nature’s premier show on display for all to enjoy. Fall baking is one of my favorite past times and I especially love to make apple desserts. Going through all my post I realized I’m kind of obsessed with apples, cakes, pies, cupcakes and more. When I’m creating a new cake or pie the fall just inspires me like nature to give it my all and go wild! Here are a few of my fall favorites that I have posted over the years.
Brussels Sprouts that neglected and shy little bulb has become trendy – the darling of the vegetable world. Healthy, tasty, versatile, a chameleon, changing depending on the pairing – never boring or the same. Steamed, baked, roasted, raw in a salad, your choices of preparation are endless. For a deliciously healthy salad, I love fresh raw Brussels Sprouts combined with apples, pistachios and shaved parmesan cheese- dressed with a light lemon vinaigrette.
Brussels Sprouts Apple Salad with Pistachios and Shaved Parmesan Cheese
4 cups thinly sliced Brussels Sprouts
2 Granny Smith Apples, chopped
1/2 cup chopped unsalted pistachios
1/4 cup shaved Parmesan Cheese
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh grounded black pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
Combine Brussels Sprouts, apples, pistachios and cheese in a bowl. Toss with lemon vinaigrette. (If you prefer you can serve vinaigrette on the side.) I like my salad lightly dressed. Refrigerate remanding vinaigrette for up to two weeks.
Lemon Vinaigrette: Combine all the ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine.
Did I mention that I love fish! And if you read my blog, living in New England affords me access to the freshest fish. Our local grocery stores all have excellent fish markets.
Cod is a staple in our region, and the most famous dish is Baked Cod with Ritz crackers. On the menu in every traditional New England restaurant. I’ve put a new twist on this recipe to create a healthier version with fewer calories and fat.
During the pandemic, my recipes have tended to be for two and one-pan meals. Double the recipe to serve more people; use a large roasting pan.
4 cups kale, cut into bite-size pieces, and stems removed 1-pint cherry tomatoes 1 lb. cod, cut into four pieces 1/4 cup olive oil 1/4 cup lemon juice 1/4 cup unseasoned Panko bread crumbs 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese 1/2 teaspoon sea salt 1/4 teaspoon pepper
Pre-heat oven 425F. Arrange kale and tomatoes on a baking pa—place cod nestled in kale and tomatoes.
Mix olive oil and lemon juice and drizzle over cod and vegetables.
In a small bowl, combine bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper. Sprinkle over cod and vegetables.
Bake for 25-30 minutes, depending on the thickness of the cod. I purchased a thick cod fillet for this recipe.
Cooking at home is fashionable during the pandemic. Cooking is in my blood; I come from a long line of cooks. I love to cook, entertain, and my favorite, large Sunday dinners with family and friends, is on hold until after the pandemic.
The situation necessitated that created tasty one-pan meals for two while my husband and I are social distancing in our home. So easy and no sacrifice on flavor to combine all the ingredients in one roasting pan, and I serve in the same pan!
I add a salad and homemade bread for a simply delicious meal! Dinner for two couldn’t be more perfect!
1 package Earthly Choice Farro, Microwaveable in 90 minutes 1/2 pound Sea Scallops 2 tablespoons olive oil 2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, about half lemon 1/4 cup dry white wine 2 cloves garlic, crushed 4 lemon slices, halved 1/4 cup pitted Castelvetrano olives, sliced I like Mezzetta olives 2 teaspoons capers 1/2 teaspoon sea salt 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Pre-heat oven to 425F.
Place farro in baking pan and top with scallops.
Combine in a small bowl mix olive oil, lemon juice, wine, and garlic. Pour evenly over farro and scallops: place lemon slices, olives, and caper on top. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
New England winters are snowy and cold. January can be harsh with blizzards conditions blanking the landscape with large snow falls keeping the natives snug and safe our homes. Outside the wind howls and the snow drifts against my front door, inside I simmer homemade soup to warm my thoughts. Nothing tops a hot bowl of soup on a wintery day!
I love to make soup and one of my favorites is Tortellini and Escarole soup. It’s delicious and easy to make. And naturally good. Also, very important to me is that it freezes well.
If you prefer a vegetarian soup use vegetable stock instead of chicken and omit chicken sausage. I suggest unsalted vegetable stock not broth; stock is more flavorful!
Tortellini and Escarole Soup
3 Tablespoon olive oil 3 cloves garlic crushed 2 shallots, chopped 1 head of escarole, thoroughly washed and cut into bite-size pieces 1 box ( 32 oz.) organic low salt chicken broth or 1 box (32oz.) unsalted vegetable stock, I like Kitchen Basics 1 package cheese tortellini(9 oz) fresh or frozen tortellini
Parmesan cheese (optional)
3 chicken sausages, cooked and sliced into 2-inch pieces, optional
Cook garlic and shallots in olive oil on low for 5 just until shallots are translucent. Don’t brown garlic (it taste bitter if you do). Add escarole, stir, coating escarole with olive, and cook for another 5 minutes just until the escarole is wilted. Add chicken broth, tortellini, salt, and pepper to taste. Bring to boil, then simmer for 20 minutes. I sometimes add chicken sausage to the soup. Brown and thoroughly cook three chicken sausages, slice into 2-inch pieces and add to the soup. Simmer an additional 2 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.
Sprinkle Parmesan cheese over individual servings if you want. Serve with fresh Italian bread and a salad for a beautiful winter meal.
The soup made with sausage and chicken broth
The soup made with vegetable stock and not sausage.
Living in New England, I am fortunate to have access to the freshest seafood. Hard to believe in 2021, an old fashion fish monger truck sells fish and seafood straight off the dock at our seasonal summer market. And this winter, after the market closed, the company is delivering weekly to our town. I just place the order on Monday, for a Wednesday delivery!
I don’t have time most weeknights to prepare elaborate meals. Instead, I serve meals prepared in under thirty minutes, or I defrost and reheat something I made ahead on a leisurely weekend.
One of my favorite easy dinners for two is Spaghetti and Clams in a light white wine sauce. I like to use meaty count neck clams, married with wine and herbs for a lusciously delightful taste.
Dinner in under thirty minutes!
2 tablespoon olive oil 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 shallot, minced 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, finely chopped 1 cup dry white wine pinch of saffron 1/2 teaspoon sea salt 1/4 teaspoon pepper 1 pound count neck clams, well-scrubbed 4 ounces thin spaghetti, cook according to package
In a saute pan, add olive oil, garlic, shallot, and thyme. Saute on medium heat for 8-10 minutes; garlic and shallots should be translucent, not browned. Add wine, saffron, salt, and pepper simmering for 5 minutes. Add clams, cover, continue to cook for 5-10 minutes. All the clams should be open; discard any that aren’t. Pour over cooked pasta. Serve with fresh grated Parmesan cheese.
Winters in New England are cold and harsh. When snow blankets my home and the wind rattles the windows, I crave comfort food that tastes delicious and is hearty. I don’t want excessive fat and calories, so I create recipes that fit my eating requirement! Soups, stews, and casseroles for healthy eating are a satisfying experience, and you won’t feel deprived. You can have a glass of wine with dinner or a small dessert if you cut unnecessary calories—no need to feel deprived. That will sabotage your new year diet or healthy eating intention.
Simply replacing meat with veggie crumbles in chili makes a significant difference without sacrificing taste. I also added butternut squash to this recipe as it pairs well with the beans and tomatoes. Additional I added baking cocoa for richness in taste and color.
If you like five-alarm chili, add additional hot sauces. I freeze the chili in individual for a quick lunch or supper.
2 tbsp. olive oil 1/2 cup chopped onion 2 cloves minced garlic 1 package (20 oz.) cut butternut squash 1 can (14 1/2 oz. ) no salt added diced tomatoes 1 can (15.5 oz.) black beans, drained and rinsed 2 cans (15.5 oz) cannellini beans 1 can (15.5 oz.) garbanzos beans, drained and rinsed 1 box (32 oz.) unsalted vegetable stock 3 tbsp. tomato paste 2 tsp chili powder 2 tsp baking cocoa 1 teaspoon oregano leaves 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin 1 package (12 oz) Morning Star Farms Veggie Crumbles
Heat oil in a large saucepan on medium heat. Add onion and garlic; cook and stir 8 to 10 minutes or until tender. Add butternut squash and cook for additional ten minutes.
Stir in remaining ingredients. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add the shrimp and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and 1/4 teaspoon of the pepper. Cook until the shrimp are just opaque in the center, about 3 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Transfer the shrimp and juices to a bowl to cool.
Add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil to the pan. Add the onions. Cook until tender, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until aromatic, 30 seconds. Add the rice. Stir until well coated and translucent in spots, about 2 minutes. Add the wine. Cook until the wine is absorbed, stirring often, about 2 minutes. Add the clam juice, lemon juice, zest, and the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Increase the heat and bring to a boil, stirring often. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Simmer until the rice is just tender and the risotto is creamy, stirring often, 13 to 14 minutes.
Add the shrimp. Mix in additional broth if needed, 1/4 cup at a time, until the risotto is creamy.
Cooking for me, is fun and creative; I derive enormous pleasure from preparing a delicious recipe. I inherited my passion for cooking from my mother. I loved to return home from school and sit on the countertop, sharing my day with her as I watched her cook. My time spent cooking with my mother motivated me to start my blog and share her cooking philosophy; I am amazed when I hear people say they can’t cook or don’t like cooking. I say if you love to eat, there is every reason to cook.
On my blog, my goal is to make cooking easy and fun. I’m not interested in being intimidated by an overly pretentious recipe with expensive or hard-to-locate ingredients. And my personal dislike too many waisted steps. I don’t show off on my blog; I want you to easily make my recipes to enjoy with family and friends. I love to entertain, and when I do, I want to enjoy my guests, not hibernating in the kitchen.
During the winter months, I make large vats of soups and stews to freeze for consumption later that provides quick and easy dinners when you are short on time. My life is like yours, with an endless to-do list, so when I am short on time, I can open my freezer and discover an array of made ahead meals.
I make my own soups and stews because I find the commercial and restaurant prepared versions are seasoned with too much salt. If you use the right seasonings, salt is a minimal ingredient for a good soup or stew. Limiting salt improves the taste of food and is a healthier option.
I hope I have given you a few reasons to be adventurous if you have never made your own soup or stew! Oh, did I mention I’d love to hear your successes!
If you want to make this a vegan or vegetarian stew, substitute plant-based sausage for chicken sausage.
White Bean and Sausage Soup
2tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
2medium carrots, finely diced
2celery stalks, finely diced
2garlic cloves, finely chopped
1tablespoon tomato paste
½teaspoon ground cumin
1 can (15.5 oz.) Cannellini beans, rinsed, I like Goya Organics, low salt
4 cups unsalted vegetable stock
2teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste
1large rosemary sprig
2teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1pound sweet Italian chicken sausage or veggie sausage, cooked and sliced 3/4-inch thick*
½teaspoon black pepper
Heat oil in a large stockpot over medium-high. Add the carrots, celery, onion, and garlic. Cook, stirring until the vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cumin to the pot. Cook, stirring, until dark golden, about 2 minutes. Stir in the beans, vegetable stock, salt, thyme, rosemary, and bay leaf. Turn the heat up to high and bring to a boil. Then reduce heat to low and simmer gently for about 30 minutes.
Add the sausage to the pot. Simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the vinegar and pepper. Remove the thyme, rosemary, and bay leaf. Ladle into bowls and serve hot.
Roast the sausage on a sheet pan at 425 degrees for about 20 minutes.
Cooking should be fun! I am amazed when I hear people say they hate to cook! Why would you dislike something essential to survival and can be so creative? I like everyone who cooks has experienced disasters in the kitchen. I once made a cake that, when I frosted, slid off the plate and onto the floor.
Every misshape has made me the cook I am today, and I am grateful for all my cooking experiences.
If you are tackling a new recipe, my first suggestion is to read the recipe in total. Then gather all the tools you need and the ingredients and arrange them on your countertop in order of their use. This makes it so easy to follow the recipe for a novice. Even though I am an experienced cook, I take out my tools and ingredients before cooking.
Cooking is like any other skill; the more you practice, the better you become.
Butternut squash is one of my favorite vegetables. And so delicious with kale in a vegetarian lasagna. I roast both to bring out the flavor; instead of a traditional tomato, I used bechamel sauce. No-boil noodles cut the preparation time.
Butternut Squash and Kale Lasagna
1 package (20 ounces) butternut squash
4 cups kale, cut into 2-inch pieces and stems removed
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
10 sage leaves
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups whole milk
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Unsalted butter, for the baking dish1 cup grated fontina cheese (about 4 ounces)
1 cup grated low-moisture mozzarella cheese (about 4 ounces)
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
15 ounces ricotta cheese (can be part-skim)
2 eggs, beaten
9 no-boil lasagna noodles
Make the vegetables: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Toss the squash and kale with 2 tablespoons olive oil on a baking sheet; season with salt.
Roast, rotating the baking sheets once until the vegetables are tender, 18 to 20 minutes; set aside. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degrees F.
Meanwhile, make the bechamel. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the sage and cook for 1 minute. Whisk in the flour until smooth; cook, whisking, until the flour is lightly golden but not brown, about 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in the milk until smooth. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, occasionally stirring, until thickened, about 5 minutes. Add parmesan cheese. Stir in the nutmeg.
Assemble the lasagna. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Toss the cheeses and the flour in a bowl; set aside 1/2 cup for topping. Evenly coat the bottom of the dish with 1/2 cup of the bechamel.
Lay 3 noodles side by side on top. Cover with one-third of the remaining bechamel. Sprinkle with half of the remaining cheese mixture, half of the ricotta cheese, and top with half of the vegetable mixture. Arrange 3 more noodles on top and repeat the layers (bechamel, cheese, ricotta, vegetables). Top with the remaining 3 noodles, then cover with the remaining bechamel; sprinkle with the reserved 1/2 cup cheese.
Loosely cover the dish with foil and bake until bubbly, about 45 minutes. Uncover and bake for 15 additional minutes until browned and bubbling. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.
To make ahead, cover the unbaked lasagna with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 24 hours. To bake, remove the plastic wrap and follow baking instructions.
To freeze, cover lasagna tightly with plastic wrap, then aluminum foil. Freeze up to 3 months. To bake, remove the plastic wrap, cover with aluminum foil, and bake for 90 minutes. Uncover, bake for an additional 10-15 minutes.
An interesting salad adds to a meal with taste, texture, and color. Food should appeal to all the senses not just taste. Lately, I have been obsessed with Slaws which create for different seasons and occasions. And Slaws are healthy especially dressed with simple ingredients. for a colorful holiday slaw, I added pomegranate arils and pecans for crunch.
This recipe works well with other veggies like Brussel sprouts, kale or broccoli. Experiment and see what works for you.
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup Champagne vinegar
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
2 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
3 cups cabbage, thinly sliced
2 cup purple cabbage, thinly sliced
1/2 cup carrots, thinly sliced
1/2 cup baby kale
1 cup toasted pecans, chopped
1 Anjou pear, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
1/4 cup pomegranate arils (seeds)
Whisk together oil, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Place cabbages, carrots, and kale in a large bowl. Add 1/2 cup of the dressing, and toss to combine. Let stand at room temperated 30 minutes to 1 hour.
Add pecans, pear slices, and pomegranate arils, and toss to combine. Drizzle with remaining dressing just before serving.
Bundt cakes are so easy to make and I love this red velvet with a cream cheese filling. Perfect for a festive Christmas dessert.
I used a plastic squeeze bottle to drizzle the icing. The bottle allows me to control the flow of the icing.
Red Velvet Bundt Cake with Cream Cheese
1½ cups unsalted butter softened
3 cups granulated sugar
5 large eggs
1 teaspoon distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 cup whole buttermilk
1 (1-ounce) bottle liquid red food coloring
Cream Cheese Filling (recipe follows)
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
Preheat oven to 325°. Spray a 12- to 15-cup Bundt pan with baking spray with flour.
Cake: In a large bowl, beat butter and granulated sugar with a mixer at medium speed until fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes, stopping to scrape sides of the bowl. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vinegar and vanilla.
In a medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa, salt, and baking soda. Reduce mixer speed to low. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with flour mixture, beating just until combined after each addition. Stir in food coloring.
Spoon half of the batter into prepared pan. Top with Cream Cheese Filling. Spoon remaining batter overfilling. Use a wooden skew or knife to swirl cream cheese filling into the batter.
Bake until a wooden pick inserted near center comes out clean, 1 hour and 10 minutes to 1 hour and 15 minutes. Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes. Remove from pan, and let cool completely on a wire rack.
In a small bowl, whisk together confectioners’ sugar and cream until smooth. Drizzle over cooled cake, and sprinkle with red and white sprinkles, if desired.
Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
Cream Cheese Filling
1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
⅓ cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a small bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar with a mixer at medium speed until smooth. Add egg and vanilla, beating until combined.