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.
Healthy eating during the Holiday Season is not an easy task, beginning with Thanksgiving and continuous munching to the New Year. Celebrating, enjoying food with family and friends is an essential facet of the season for me. To not become unhealthy and pack on the weight, I’ve created vegetarian options for our everyday meals that are flavorful and healthy. I make my vegetarian meatball Italian style to add to homemade tomato sauce. I make a large batch of marinara and freeze to have available for a quick meal. You can purchase a good quality sauce if you prefer. The link to my sauce is below.
2 tablespoon olive oil 1 (8 ounces) package mushrooms, I used portabella. 1/2 cup chopped onions 3 cloves chopped garlic 4 teaspoons Italian Herbs 1/4 teaspoons crushed red 1 can (15.5 ounces) chickpeas, drained and rinsed. 3 tablespoons tomato paste 1/2 cup fresh grated parmesan cheese 1 cup plain bread crumbs or cooked Arborio rice 1 egg, beaten salt and pepper to taste
Pre-heat oven to 450F. Heat oil in a large skillet, add onions, mushroom, Italian herbs, and red pepper. Saute until onions are soft. Add minced garlic a saute a few minutes longer. Do not let garlic brown.
Transfer to a food processer. Add beans and tomato paste. Pulse until combined, not pureed.
Add parmesan cheese, pulse to combine. Next, add bread crumbs and pulse.
Transfer to a bowl and add beaten egg. The egg binds the mixture together. Once the mixture binds together, make the meatballs. I like my balls’ smalls. They can easily be made large, like big meatballs.
Place meatballs on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Lightly spray with cooking spray. Bake for 12-14 minutes until browned.
Add to tomato sauce for meatless spaghetti and meatballs.
Soup has a special place in my heart! My mother made the most flavorful homemade soups. She would have hot soup ready for us when we came home, frozen from playing in the snow or ice skating on the pond near our home. And she had a variety of frozen soups ready for an after school snack to hold us over to dinner. My father didn’t return home from work until six or seven o’clock, and we waited for him to eat together as a family.
Those cherished memories return to me when I make soup for my family. Maybe that is why I enjoy making soups. I am transported to my childhood sitting on a stool in the kitchen, watching my mother make magic. My repertoire of soups is extensive for so many reasons. Soups, first, are delicious, easy to make ahead, and by limiting fat and salt, very healthy!
A favorite ingredient I use often is mushrooms. I love their earthy taste and nutritional benefit. And the variety is of mushrooms is considerable. I like to use portabella mushrooms, dark and earthy, complementing the brown rice melody. My mushroom-rice soup is healthy and flavorful; I added four cloves of garlic. The aroma of sauteing garlic is so delightful!
Baby Bela Garlic Mushroom Soup with Brown Rice
2 tablespoon olive oil 4 cloves garlic, minced 8 oz baby Bela mushrooms, chopped 32 oz low salt vegetable stock 1/4 teaspoon pepper 1/2 teaspoon sea salt 2 teaspoons Herbs de Provence 1/4 cup brown rice, I used Trader Joe’s, Brown Rice Melody
Rinse mushrooms well and pat dry—heat olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic sauteing for 5 minutes on low heat. Don’t let garlic brown. Add mushrooms; continue sauteing for 10 minutes. Pour in the stock and bring to a boil. Add pepper, salt, herbs, and rice; cover and simmer on low for 30 minutes.
Springtime in New England our markets are bursting with fresh asparagus, which is one of my favorite veggies. I love to combine asparagus with leeks then flavor with thyme and lemon. I used this combination to make this rich goat cheese quiche. A wonderfully easy dish, I used store-bought piecrust, saving time, and cleanup while maintaining the rich fresh favor.
Asparagus Leek and Goat Cheese Quiche
1 (14.1-oz.) pkg. refrigerated piecrusts
2 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups thinly sliced leeks
1 chopped shallot
1 bunch fresh asparagus, trimmed and cut into 2-inch pieces)
1/2 kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon dried thyme or 1 tablespoon fresh thyme
1 whole milk
1/2 heavy cream
4 large eggs
4 oz crumbled goat cheese tablespoons
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon lemon zest
Preheat oven to 425°F.
Unroll piecrust; stack on a lightly floured surface. Roll stacked piecrust into a 12-inch circle. Fit piecrust into a 10-inch deep-dish pie plate or a lightly greased tart pan with removable bottom; press into fluted edges. Flute and pitch if using a pie plate. Trim off excess piecrust along edges if using a tart pan.
Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium-high. Add leeks, shallots, asparagus, sprinkle with salt, pepper, and thyme. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender and lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, and cool 5 minutes. Reserve 4 asparagus spears for decoration.
Whisk together eggs, milk, cream, nutmeg, goat cheese, mozzarella, salt, pepper and lemon zest
Spoon asparagus mixture in the prepared pie dish. Gently add egg mixture. Arrange reserved asparagus spears on top. Bake in the preheated oven until set, about 45-50 minutes, covering with foil to prevent excess browning if necessary. Cool on baking sheet on a wire rack 20 minutes before serving.
While my husband and I have been social distancing during the pandemic, running out on a whim to purchase ingredients or locating specific products has been challenging. Instead I’ve been creative using what I have on hand to make dinner. I love to cook so I usually have certain stables in the pantry and garlic, shallots, olives are a necessity in my kitchen. If you stock your pantry with canned tomatoes, artichokes, olives, olive oil, pasta, and have garlic, shallots, or onions on hand, a meal is easy to put together without running to the store.
I also like to keep a few Asian ingredients for a quick easy meal but my repertoire isn’t very extensive. I realized during this time of social distancing that although I love Asian dishes we normally go out to a restaurant for Thai or Chinese food. Take out is an option, which we have tried during the pandemic. Now I want to expand my cooking and include more healthy Asian dishes. I love cooking with fresh veggies. I look forward to this new cooking adventure. Who knew that after all these years I could find more outlets for my cooking skills.
My favorite weekday meal requirements are simple: flavorful, easy, and little clean-up, two dirty pan limit! And my Veggie pasta is perfect!
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 large shallot, chopped
1 can(14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes, no salt. I like Hunts tomatoes
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 crushed red pepper
1/2 can(14 oz.) artichoke hearts, drained and sliced in quarters
1/2 cup Castelvetrano Italian olives, I love Mezzetta olives
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
4 oz fresh mozzarella, chopped
1/2 box thin spaghetti
Heat olive oil in a medium pan. Add garlic and shallot, saute for 5 minutes until the shallot is translucent. Add diced tomatoes, and wine. Season with salt and red pepper. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add artichokes hearts, olives, and basil. Simmer for 5 minutes
While the tomato mixture is simmering, cook spaghetti according to package instructions. Drain and put in large bowl
Add mozzarella to the tomato mixture cooking just until the cheese starts to melt. Remove from heat and toss with spaghetti.
When I was going through some old recipes, I’m looking to declutter, I found an old an easy Potatoes Dauphinois recipe that I made faithfully as an accompaniment to baked ham. I remember the delicious baked potato casserole and I made it again this year for Easter. The dish did not disappoint and was as wonderful as we remembered! Nutmeg adds a delicate flavor that enhances the potatoes, cream, and gruyere cheese. And you can ready the dish in advance, refrigerate and bake later.
This recipe is easy to double if you are serving a large group.
6 medium-size potatoes, Yukon golden potatoes
1 1/2 cup grated gruyere cheese
1/4 cup shallots, finely minced
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 cup heavy cream
Preheat oven to 325F.
Peel and thinly slice the potatoes on a mandoline or vegetable slicer (about 1/8-inch-thick slices). Combine salt, pepper, and nutmeg in a small bowl.
Layer 1/2 of the potatoes into a baking dish, 13x9x2. Pour half of the cream over the potatoes, then 1/2 of shallots, season with 1/2 salt, black pepper and nutmeg mixture, and sprinkle with half of the Gruyere cheese. Top with the remaining potatoes then add shallots, sprinkle again with black pepper and nutmeg. Pour on the remaining cream, and sprinkle with remaining Gruyere cheese. Sprinkle a little nutmeg on top.
Bake for 2 hours or until potatoes are tender and liquid is absorbed.
Living in the Boston area we love our fresh fish. In Boston cod is called scrod. I know there is a fancy legend around why we call cod scrod and some say scrod is young cod. All I know is when the fishermen leave the dock to fish they are out to catch cod.
Cod is a firm white-fleshed fish that is versatile and can be used in a multitude of recipes. We love fish in our family and I like to prepare cod differently. Traditional Boston Scrod is made with a Ritz cracker topping that is absolutely delicious.
I’ve updated the preparation by using panko breadcrumbs, pecans, Dijon mustard, and maple syrup.
2/3 cup panko (Japanese dried bread flakes)
1/3 cup pecan pieces
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1teaspoon mustard seed
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 freshly ground black pepper
1 lb. Cod Filet
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon Maple Syrup
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
In the food processor combine bread crumbs and pecans. Pulse until finely ground. Place in a small bowl and mix together with parsley, lemon zest, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Drizzle with the olive oil and stir until the crumbs are evenly coated. Set aside.
In a small bowl combine mustard and maple syrup. Place the cod in a baking dish.Generously brush the top of the fillets with mustard mixture. Place the panko mixture thickly on top of the mustard on each cod fillet. The mustard will help the panko adhere. Drizzle remaining mustard mixture overtopping.
Bake Cod for 20 – 25 minutes until topping is browned.
Traditional Pasta e Fagioli is made with a pork product such as pancetta, ham or pigs’ feet(old-time Italian) but growing up my mother always made meatless Pasta e Fagioli on Fridays. I have fond memories of eating Pasta Fagioli on crisp fall nights before rushing off to a Friday night football game or for lunch on a snowy winter day.
My mother’s version of Pasta e Fagioli, I like to call Pasta e Fagioli meets Boston Baked Beans, She used canned baked beans as the base. I have no idea why one time she decided to substitute baked beans, no problem we loved her recipe. Over the years I have added my own touches to my mother’s Pasta e Fagioli to make it an easy totally vegetarian meal.
Pasta e Fagioli
1 cup chopped shallots
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 cup dry white wine
2 (16 oz) cans vegetarian baked beans, Bushes
1 can (8 oz) no salt Tomato Sauce, Hunts
1 can (15.5 oz) Garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained, Goya
1 can (14 oz) vegetable broth
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 cup dried ditalini pasta
1/4 cup snipped fresh basil or 1 tablespoon dried basil
1 tablespoon snipped fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
Parmesan Cheese, optional
1. In large pot cook shallots, garlic and olive over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
2. Sir in wine, baked beans, garbanzo beans, vegetable broth, and crushed red pepper. Bring to a boil: reduce heat. Simmer, covered for 20 minutes.
3. Cook, pasta al dente(firm but not hard), drain. Stir cooked pasta, basil, oregano into bean mixture. Simmer for 5 more minutes. Pasta e Fagioli should be thick like stew not soupy. Add more broth if thick and cook a little longer if too thin.