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.
Blueberries and lemons are a favorite flavor combination that I love. Lemon is a fresh scent that reminds me of spring. This cake is delicious any time during the year. Adding candied lemons is a nice decorative touch.
I make this loaf cake often because it is moist, flavorful, and easy to make.
2 cups (250g) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg, at room temperature
3/4 cup (150g) granulated sugar
1/3 cup (80ml) vegetable oil
1/3 cup (80g) sour cream (or plain yogurt/Greek yogurt), at room temperature
2/3 cup (160ml) whole milk, at room temperature
3 Tablespoons (45ml) lemon juice
1 Tablespoon lemon zest
2 cups blueberries
1 teaspoon flour
2 cup (60g) confectioners’ sugar
2 Tablespoon (15ml) lemon juice
optional: candied lemon slices
Preheat oven to 350°F (177°C). Spray a 9×5 inch loaf pan with nonstick spray.
Whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk the egg and granulated sugar together until combined. Whisk in the oil, sour cream, milk, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, then whisk to completely combine. Avoid over-mixing.Pour/spread the batter evenly into prepared loaf pan.
Take 1/2 cup blueberries and mash with fork. Place remaining blueberries in bow and toss with flour. Fold mashed and whole blueberries into cake batter.
Bake the bread for 50 minutes to 1 hour, covering loosely with foil about halfway through to help the loaf bake evenly. Poke the center of the bread with a skew and if it comes out clean, the bread is done.
Cool bread completely in the pan set on a wire rack.
Drizzle with glaze and decorate with candied lemon slices
Slice and serve.
Cover and store leftover plain or glazed bread at room temperature for 2 days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Whisk the confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice together.
Candied Lemon Slices
1 small lemons
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup water
Cut lemons into 1/8-inch-thick rounds; discard seeds. Stir together sugar, lemon juice, and water in a large skillet over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Add lemon slices, and simmer gently, keeping slices in a single layer and turning occasionally, 14 to 16 minutes or until slightly translucent and rinds are softened. Remove from heat. Place slices in a single layer in a wax paper-lined jelly-roll pan, using tongs. Cool completely (about 1 hour). Cover and chill 2 hours to 2 days.
Lately, I’ve been making many vegetarian meals for their low calorie and health benefits. My main requirement is that the recipe pack flavor in each bite. I don’t eat anything that is deliciously tasty. If you eat flavorful food, you don’t overeat. Instead, savor the eat bite. Enjoy, be present, and you will become satisfied.
What I love about this recipe are the chickpeas! I use these darlings in so many recipes, soups, stews, salad; I find many uses. Also, the fire-roasted tomatoes add a delightful taste!
One-pan meals are experiencing a boom in popularity, and I can understand why—easy, delicious, low clean up, perfect for a weeknight meal. I especially like adding colorful veggies, like the rainbow-colored tomatoes in this recipe. I’ve added a Mediterranean flavor with the addition of olives, caper, and feta cheese. Clean-up is easy when you use non-stick sheet pans. My favorite is William Sonoma Goldtouch bakeware for all my baking and cooking needs. One-time purchase and well worth the money.
1.5 pound Gourmet Medley Tomatoes
1 package chicken Italian style sausage (5 sausages)
8 ounces feta cheese, cut into pieces
1 cup pitted Mezzetta Castelvetrano olives, sliced
2 tablespoons capers
2 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 tablespoon lemon juice
Preheat oven to 424F.
Place tomatoes on the sheet pan and nestle sausage and feta cheese in between. Top with olives and capers. Combine oil with the remaining ingredients except for the lemon juice—drizzle oil mixture over the sausage, tomatoes, feta cheese, olives, and capers. Sprinkle lemon juice on top. Bake for 35 – 40 minutes until sausage and tomatoes brown. And feta is bubbling.
The virtues and health benefits of the Mediterranean diet are widely proven and accepted. The Mediterranean diet is a way of eating based on the traditional cuisine of countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. While there is no single definition of the Mediterranean diet, it is typically high in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds, and olive oil. And the inhabitants of the region live a long, healthy life without the modern diseases that plague many in America: Heart disease, diabetes, obesity, and Alzheimer’s.
I love this way of eating because of the flavorful meals I can create that are satisfying and fit a healthy lifestyle.
My quinoa shrimp bowl also is an easy and quick meal that is perfect for a weeknight. I serve this with toasted pita bread and a glass of crisp white wine.
1/2 cup prepared or homemade pesto sauce
2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1 pound peeled and deveined large shrimp patted dry
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups arugula
2 cups cooked tri-colored quinoa
1 cup halved cherry tomatoes
1 avocado, diced
4 ounces cubed feta cheese
Whisk pesto, vinegar oil, salt, and pepper together in a large bowl. Place 4 tablespoons in a small bowl. Set aside.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet, add garlic cooking until translucent. Do not brown. Add shrimp and cook, stirring, until cooked through, 4-5 minutes. Remove shrimp to a plate.
Add arugula and quinoa to the large pesto vinegarette bowl and toss to coat. Divide the quinoa mixture into four bowls. Top with shrimp, tomatoes, avocado, and feta. Drizzle each bowl 1 tablespoon of the reserved pesto mixture.
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.
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.
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.