Summertime, I love to make easy, delicious salads packed with flavor and fresh ingredients. My Orzo Caprese Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette is a family favorite. And the recipe is easily doubled to feed a large group.
Always use the freshest ingredients and fresh basil is the best, so easy to grow.
1 cup uncooked orzo
1 cup chopped tricolored cherry tomatoes
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 1/2 cup fresh mozzarella, cubed
Prepare orzo according to package instructions. Drain and cool.
Make vinaigrette and set aside.
Add tomatoes, basil and mozzarella to orzo. Combine.
Toss with vinaigrette. And chill for 2 hours or over night.
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, or to taste
3 to 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon zest, lemon juice, sugar, mustard and fine sea salt, whisking until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Add 3 tablespoon olive oil in slow stream, whisking until the dressing is well blended.
I usually made a hearty Pot Pie in the cold winter months when the snow and wind blanket my home in wintery New England. However, this spring, I lightened up my Pot Pie by making an all-vegetable version, and I went crazy with a flaky puff pastry topping.
Puff pastry is easy to use, turning you a master pâtissier. It is magical how flat sheets of dough puff into golden pastry in the oven.
You can experiment with different veggies; I used a traditional mix. Have fun with your cooking!
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 (8-oz.) package sliced baby bella mushrooms
4 medium carrots, halved lengthwise and cut into 1 ½-inch pieces
2 medium leeks, white and light green parts only, sliced and rinsed (about 2 ½ cups)
½ teaspoons salt
¼ cup all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
3 cups vegetable stock
3 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
2 tablespoons greek yogurt
2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves, divided
1 [17.3-oz.] package), frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 large egg, lightly beaten
6 ounces fresh English peas
1 teaspoon flaky sea salt
1. Preheat oven to 425°F with rack in lower third position. Heat butter and
oil in a 10-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high until butter is melted
and foamy. Add mushrooms in a single layer. Cook, undisturbed, until golden brown and crispy on bottoms, about 5 minutes. Toss mushrooms; cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid releases and evaporates, about 4 minutes. Add carrots, leeks, and salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until carrots are just beginning to soften and leeks are tender, 6 to 8 minutes. Sprinkle evenly with flour. Cook, stirring constantly, until vegetables are fully coated and flour smells nutty and turns golden brown, about 1 minute. Add stock; bring to a boil over high. Reduce heat to medium-high. Cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid starts to thicken, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in whipping cream, yogurt, mustard, and 2 teaspoons of the thyme. Set aside to cool slightly, about 5 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, roll pastry sheet out onto a lightly floured work surface into a 12-inch square. Cut evenly into 3 (4-inch-wide) strips. Cut each strip evenly into 6 triangles. Repeat with second puff pastry sheet. Stir together egg and 1 tablespoon water in a small bowl.
3. Stir peas into warm vegetable mixture in skillet. Arrange pastry triangles in a circle pattern over mixture, leaving a slight (about ½-inch) overhang around skillet edges and slightly overlapping triangles. Brush pastry with egg mixture; sprinkle with flaky sea salt and remaining thyme.
4. Place a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil on oven rack; place skillet on sheet. Bake in preheated oven until pastry is golden brown and filling is bubbly around edges, about 30 minutes. Remove from oven; let stand 10 minutes.
A staple in Mediterranean cuisine, rapini or broccoli rabe is known for its slightly bitter taste, which I mitigate by cooking with lemon and roasting. I also use rapini in place of broccoli or asparagus in soups, quiches, casseroles, and more. Give this versatile veggie a try, and I’m sure you’ll love the unique taste.
Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil. Set up a bowl of ice water. Drop the broccoli rabe into the boiling water and cook for 1 minute. Remove from the boiling water and plunge immediately into the ice water. Once cool, remove from the ice water and let dry. It can be used right away or held for future use.
Place broccoli rabe in a baking dish. Combine olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes and pour over rabe. Drizzle with lemon juice.
Winters in New England spell snow and Noreasters. Storm after storm plummets the region beginning as early as October and some years raging until April.
A warming soup is perfect when the wind is howling and rattling the windows and the temperature dips to frigid proportions. Soups are easy to make and healthy, primarily if you use unsalted vegetable stock, fresh vegetables, and beans. Did I mention that beans are superfoods, high in fiber, protein, and low in calories? And I add herbs to favor the rich vegetable broth.
1 tablespoon olive oil 1 medium white onion, peeled and diced 1 stalk of celery, thinly sliced 4 cloves garlic, minced 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 8 cups unsalted vegetable stock 2 (15-ounce) cans of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained 2 bay leaves 1 tablespoon fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dried thyme 1 cup uncooked orzo 3 cups broccoli florets juice of 1 lemon 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt 1/4 teaspoon freshly-cracked black pepper freshly grated parmesan cheese, optional
Heat oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Add onion and celery and sauté for 5 minutes, occasionally stirring, until softened. Add garlic and crushed red pepper flakes and sauté for 2 more minutes, stirring frequently.
Add vegetable stock, beans, bay leaves, thyme, orzo, broccoli, and stir to combine. Continue cooking until the soup reaches a simmer. Then reduce heat to medium-low to maintain the simmer, cover, and cook for 10 minutes or until the orzo is al dente. (Be sure to stir the soup occasionally so that the orzo does not clump on the bottom.)
Add lemon juice and stir. Then season with salt and pepper.
Serve warm topped with a generous sprinkle of freshly-grated Parmesan cheese.
Healthy eating and an active lifestyle are essential to me. Creating recipes low in fat and salt, high in fiber and nutrients is vital to staying fit and youthful. I believe in cooking good tasting food that is satisfying to the pallet. I’ve wanted to incorporate more tofu into my recipes for the enormous benefits of soy. Putting it on top of kale, butternut squash, and red pepper makes this an extraordinary healthy, fulfilling one-pan meal.
I use William-Sonoma Goldtouch bakeware for even temperature cooking and cleaning up, which is essential to me. And they are last long.
1 bunch kale, cut and stems removed 1 (20 oz package) cut butternut squash 1 red pepper sliced 2 cloves garlic, minced 1 shallot, minced 1/4 cup olive oil sea salt pepper 1 container ( 16 oz.) super firm Nasoya Organic Tofu 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 tablespoon Bragg Coconut Liquid Aminos 1/4 cup cornstarch 2 teaspoon sea salt 1 teaspoon black pepper 2 teaspoon garlic powder
Pre-heat oven 425F.
Place kale, butternut squash, red pepper, garlic, and shallots in a large baking pan. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Prepare tofu: Cut tofu into one-inch cubes. In a small bowl combine olive oil and coconut liquid aminos: mix cornstarch, sea salt, pepper, and garlic powder in a medium bowl. Dunk tofu cubes in the liquid mixture, turning to coat, then dredge tofu in cornstarch. Place tofu on top of the vegetables. Bake for 30-35 minutes until tofu is golden.
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.
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.
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.