October 17th, 2012
This is one of my all time favorite side dishes. Sweet bell peppers are slowly cooked with onion, garlic and tomatoes until the peppers are soft and melty. Pepperonata is so versitile and can be used many different ways. I love serving it with a simple piece of grilled fish on top, along side roasted chicken, over a bed of soft polenta and sauteed greens, as a pizza topping, on crostini, tossed with pasta or folded into an omelette. I can’t take much credit for this recipe. I was introduced to this dish the first time I went to my inlaws for dinner. One of the benefits of marrying into an Italian family is the food prepared by the Italian mother inlaw. My mother inlaw is an amazing cook. She has taught me a lot about how Italians ate very simple peasant food. They used whatever fresh ingredients they had on hand or in the garden. Make this at the end of summer when tons of bright colored peppers and tomatoes are spilling out of the bins at the Farmer’s market. Make a big batch, it cooks down and disappears quickly!
- 3 Sweet bell peppers, thinly sliced
- 1 sweet onion, peeled and thinly sliced
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 large tomatoes, diced or 1 can diced tomatoes
- 2 T extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- chopped fresh basil or parsley optional
- pinch of red chili flakes optional
- Warm oil in a non stick pan. Add garlic and stir until fragrant about 1 minute, add peppers and onions. Saute over medium heat until onions begin to soften, about 8-10 minutes.
- Stir in tomatoes. Cover and simmer on low for about an hour. Check on them and stir occasionally. Add a little water as needed to keep moist and from sticking to pan.
- When peppers are soft, season with salt and pepper to taste and stir in fresh herbs if desired. Enjoy!
October 5th, 2012
Kale is the superstar vegetable of the moment, as it should be. It has been in the spotlight for quite a while and I don’t think it is going away any time soon. Packed with vitamins A, K, C and fiber, this big leafy green does a body good. If you have never had the chance to eat kale raw, it is a surprisingly enjoyable experience. When kale is tossed with lemon juice, it wilts, tenderizes and lessons the bitterness. Kale salads have been a popular dish at our house for a long time. Massaged kale salad can be a fun dish for the kids to help out with. Kids love to help out in the kitchen if you give them the chance. They are especially content if it involves getting their hands really messy. This recipe stands up to the test. There are a few variations on the kale salad. They are very similar but I like to use the first recipe as a base recipe and add ingredients to change up the flavors. The second recipe is similar to a caesar salad with the health benefits of kale instead of romaine.
Massaged Kale salad with Lemon and Avocado
Ingredients: (serves about 4)
- One large bunch Kale (any kind, I love dino)- tough stems removed, washed and torn into bite size pieces
- a medium ripe avocado cut in half and pit removed
- the juice of a lemon
- 1 clove garlic – crushed
- salt and pepper to taste
- Scoop avocado into a mixing bowl add remaining ingredients. Use finger to mash the avocado and massage lemon juice into the leaves until lemon and avocado coat leaves and kale wilts. Serve as is or add optional ingredients.
Ideas for optional add ins- tangerine segments, toasted almonds and quinoa or toasted pumpkin seeds, your favorite hard cheese, bread crumbs, shredded vegetables, apples, walnuts, beets
Tuscan Kale Salad
- 4-6 cups Dino Kale washed, stemmed and torn into bite size pieces
- Juice of a lemon
- 3-4 T extra virgin olive oil
- 1 clove garlic
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2/3 cup grated fresh pecorino romano cheese, or parmesan
- 1/2 cup toasted bread crumbs, crushed croutons or gluten free bread crumbs for GF folks
- Mix together all ingredients expect cheese and breadcrumbs. Allow to sit for about 5 minutes. Toss with half of cheese and bread crumbs. Top with resereved bread crumbs and cheese. Serve and enjoy! you could also add a little anchovy to make it more caesar like. This salad is amazing with roasted chicken and potatoes.
October 2nd, 2012
If you have a young daughter and are not familiar with the Pinkalicious book series, certainly check it out. The original Pinkalicious book is my daughter’s favorite. It is about a little girl named, Pinkalicious who’s favorite color is pink of course. She makes pink cupcakes with her mom and eats too many of them and turns pink. Her mother takes her to the doctor who diagnoses her with a rare case of Pinkititis. The doctor tells Pinkalicious that the only cure for Pinkititis is lots and lots of green food. It’s a very cute story. There is now a series of Pinkslicious books that are fun for any pink loving little girl.
I have been meaning to share these photos for quite a while. My daughter wanted a Pinkalicious party for her birthday. It actually turned out to be a really fun theme. We filled one table with all kinds of pink foods and the other with green foods. We had pink cupcakes, pink yogurt parfaits, bagels with pink cream cheese, veggie puffs in pink paper cones, pink chocolate dipped pretzels, pink peeps, and pink marshmallow pops. Ok, so the pink food table was not the healthiest! The green table however was certainly the cure for too much pink food. We had kale salad, spinach frittata, veggies with spinach dip, seaweed, green grapes and kiwi. I also bought pink flip flops and made bows with jewels to customize them for party favors. Of course some face painting to top of the day. The girls had a great time! I am happy to answer any questions you have about recipes I used, etc.
November 8th, 2011
The gluten free diet craze seems to be the health trend of the moment. Whether you are on a gluten free diet or not, grilled eggplant stands in for a great alternative to sheets of pasta in cannelloni. The eggplant is filled with rich ricotta cheese and proscuitto rolled up into bundles and baked in fresh tomato sauce. You can certainly omit the proscuitto for a vegetarian version. Following a gluten free diet can be very good for you if you are eating plant based gluten free foods and avoiding all of the processed foods. I have tried a gluten free diet for a while when going through my cancer treatments. It made me feel pretty good but I fell back into my love for bread and pasta. It is rough being in an Italian family and trying to avoid gluten. If you are craving Italian and avoiding gluten, this dish will satifsy. Serve with a big green salad or a pile of sauteed greens. This recipe comes from a great cookbook called Eating Local by Janet Fletcher. The book is filled with delicious farm fresh seasonal recipes.
Ingredients: Serves 6 as a main course
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, minced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1/ 1/2 pounds plum roma tomatoes, chopped
8 to 12 fresh basil leaves
1 tsp dried oregano
pinch hot chili flakes
2 cups ricotta cheese
1/2 cup fresh grated pecorino or parmigiano reggiano cheese
1/3 cup mined proscuitto
2 T minced Italian parsley
1 large clove garlic, minced
fresh ground pepper
1 large egg, beaten
1/2 cup fresh grated Parmigiano Reggiano for topping
Slice off the eggplants’ green cap, then cut eggplant into lengthwise slices about 1/3 inch thick. Discard first and last slices. Your should get at least 6 large slices from each eggplant. Sprinkle them on both sides with salt, then set on a rack to let stand for 30 minutes. Moisture will bead on surface.
Prepare grill or grill pan to medium high. Pat the eggplant dry with a kitchen towel until dry and to remove excess salt. Brush with olive oil on both sides. Place slices on the grill and cook until they have grill marks and are pliable, about 3 minutes per side. They do not need to be fully cooked as they will finish in the oven.
To make tomato sauce, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion and garlic and saute until onion is soft. Add tomatoes and cook, stirring often, until they soften and collapse to form a sauce. Add torn basil leaves, chili flakes, oregano (rubbing between fingers as you do so), and salt to taste. Simmer gently until sauce has thickened.
Combine ingredients for ricotta filling
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a shallow baking dish, spread 1/3 of sauce on the bottom.
Put a generous 2 tablespoons of filling on each eggplant slice, carefully roll like a jelly roll. Place rolls seem side down in the baking dish. Top with remaining sauce and parmigiano cheese.
Bake until lightly browed and bubbly. 45 minutes or so.
November 7th, 2011
What are these blackened shriveled looking green things? My new food obsession. Los Pimientos de Padron are small green peppers from Spain. They are often served in Tapas restaurants in Spain or as an appetizer before a meal of seafood. Padron peppers can be found in overflowing baskets at the Farmer’s Markets in late summer, early fall. We have also found them at a few specialty grocery stores. If you are fortunate enough to come across a bin of these small wrinkled green peppers, give them a try. The best way to serve them is pan fried in olive oil and sprinkled with sea salt. We have been eating these as a pre dinner snack or even on the table with dinner. The tricky thing about these little peppers is that some are hot and some are not. It is like playing pepper Russian roulette when you eat them. The majority of them are quite tasty and not hot at all but occasionally you will get one that really puts some fire on the tongue. What we have found is that early in the season there were fewer hot peppers as well as when they are very fresh from the Farmer’s Market.
- Basket of Padron Peppers
- Olive Oil
- Sea salt or Fleur de sel
- Drizzle some olive oil in a hot pan over medium high heat, just enough to barely coat the bottom. Pour basket of peppers in the pan and saute, stirring often until they are softened and darker in color. Remove to a serving bowl and sprinkle with salt. Serve warm. Just pick up and eat the whole pepper off of the stem.
February 25th, 2011
This is my breakfast every day. I splurged a few years ago on a Vita-Mix blender. I love it! I put a whole bunch of healthy ingredients in every morning and blend up a great shake that I can drink on my way to drop kids at school or on my way to a morning work out. I used to simply juice fruit and vegetables, which I still love, but it left me hungry shortly after. This shake becomes a vehicle for getting in my daily flax seeds, chia seeds and greens powder, etc. The taste varies by the type of protein powder that you use. If you are not familiar with chia seeds, maybe you remember ch-ch-chia pets? It turns out the seeds that you use to grow those lovely little animals actually pack a powerful nutritional punch. They are loaded with fiber and omega 3 fatty acids. They offer similar benefits to flax seeds but you do not have to grind them in order to benefit. Try one or the other or both. The list of ingredients may look like a lot but it take me no more than 5 minutes to make this breakfast and even clean the blender. I have not tried to make this in a regular blender so I am not sure how well it will work but play with the ratios of milk, etc. to make it work for you.
- 1 serving Protein powder of choice- hemp, rice, whey, soy
- small handful of ice
- large handful of baby spinach
- half of a banana
- handful of frozen organic blueberries
- 1 T raw almond butter
- 1 T raw cacao nibs or cocoa powder, optional
- 2 T flax seeds
- 1 T chia seeds
- 1 tsp maca root powder, optional
- enough unsweetened almond milk or milk of your choice to blend, about a cup
- greens powder, optional
Put all ingredients in the blender. Blend and enjoy.
January 19th, 2011
Happy New Year! Well, first off before I tell you about these lovely cookies, I need to apologize once again for taking such a long break from blogging. I do miss it and I have been cooking a bit more lately. Hopefully I will be posting more regularly now that things have returned to a little bit more normal in my life. A few people have requested this recipe, so here it is.
These cookies are wonderful! My friend Eleni was nice enough to share the recipe with me and all of you. If you have sworn off dairy, eggs, gluten and white sugar for the new year, then these are the cookies for you. The recipe was adapted from a recipe she found at www.elanaspantry.com, a wonderful resource for gluten free recipes. These cookies come out soft if you bake them on the lower end of the cooking time and crisp on the outside, chewy in the middle at the later end of the cooking time. The first time I made them exactly as Eleni’s recipe is written. The second time I added chopped walnuts just because I like cookies with nuts. They are great either way. They do not spread when baking so it is important to flatten them with the palm of your hand or a fork. Enjoy!
- 2 1/2 cups blanched almond flour (such as Bob Redsmill)
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 cup pure maple syrup or agave
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 T vanilla
- 1/2 cup dark chocolate chopped or dark chocolate chips
- 1/2 cup toasted chopped walnuts (opt.)
Method: yeilds about 24 cookies
- Stir all ingredients together in medium sized bowl. Set aside in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.
- Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- After dough is chilled, spoon onto baking sheets. Flatten with the palm of your hand or fork. Bake for 7-10 minutes. They will firm up when they cool.
October 30th, 2010
Pumpkins make me happy. I love anything with pumpkin in it. Fall is probably my favorite time of year just because of pumpkins. This particular pumpkin soup is great because it is all baked and served in the pumpkin shell. I will post a picture of what the soup looks like when it is done. I made it the other night and because it was already getting dark outside the picture didn’t turn out. I chose to post the recipe today because Halloween is on a Sunday this year and I think it would be a fun recipe to have before trick-or-treating. This recipe is so easy to make as well. Love this soup for a fall dinner party! Your guests will love the fact that it is served in a pumpkin at the table. I love to serve dinner guests soup. It makes people warm and fuzzy.
A combination of leeks and broth are cooked inside of the pumpkin which allows the pumpkin flavor to infuse the broth. When it is soft, the pumpkin flesh is spooned off of the sides into the soup. At this point you add cubes of toasted bread and Gruyere cheese and return to the oven just until the cheese melts. You can find Cinderella pumpkins at the farmer’s market or even Trader Joe’s. They are an heirloom french pumpkin, which have a dense, custard like flesh. Pick one with a nice reddish orange color. I am going to buy up all of the Cinderella pumpkins I can find because I am in love with this soup. The recipe comes from the San Francisco Farmer’s market cookbook. I have adapted it a bit. I used less butter and cheese than the recipe called for and a whole grain bread. I think next time I will add sauteed kale. I am always looking to add greens to any recipe. I think it would be a great addition to the cheesy pumpkiny goodness. The kids liked the soup but they were not fans of the texture of the bread inside of soup. If you are serving to kids, I would serve their portion before putting the bread cubes and cheese in and just give them toasted bread cubes on the side that they can dip. Enjoy and Happy Halloween!
- 1 8-10 pound rouge vif d’etampes or Cinderella pumpkin
- 4 T butter at room temp.
- Salt and Pepper
- 3 small or 1 very large leek, white part and 2 inches of green part, sliced and washed well
- 1/2 tsp ground dried sage
- 1/2 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
- a handful of grated Gruyere cheese (about a cup)
- 2 cups of crusty whole grain bread chunks, toasted (you can use more or less bread depending upon preference)
- about 5 cups chicken broth preferrably homemade (or vegetable broth)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Using a sharp pumpkin carving knife, cut off the top of the pumpkin at an angle (so that the lid doesn’t fall into the pumpkin) creating about a 4 inch diameter lid. Scoop out any seeds and strings. Rub the inside of the pumpkin with a tablespoon of butter and season the flesh with salt and pepper. Place pumpkin on a rimmed baking sheet that can be brought to the table for serving.
- Melt remaining 3 tablespoons of butter in a skillet. Add leeks and cook until softened. Season with sage, nutmeg, salt and pepper.
- Spoon leeks into pumpkin and cover with broth. Place the lid on the pumpkin and bake for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until tender.
- Carefully removed pumpkin from the oven. Using a spoon, carefully scoop flesh off of sides of pumpkin into the soup. Add bread cubes and cheese and return to the oven for about 5 minutes.
- Bring the whole baking sheet to the table to serve.
September 29th, 2010
Grilled halibut topped with sweet and spicy mango salsa, smokey chipotle cream, crunchy cabbage wrapped in a homemade corn tortilla. Fish tacos are such a quick and easy dinner to make. They are my go-to weeknight dinner. The kids and my husband love them. I usually make Spanish rice and black beans to go with them. Tilapia or salmon would also be good in this recipe. You can certainly purchase corn or flour tortillas for this dish. I made corn tortillas from scratch. They are very simple to make. There is usually a recipe on the back of the corn masa. You just add water and allow the dough to sit for a little bit. Roll the dough into golf ball sized balls. Press with a tortilla press and cook for a few minutes on either side in a hot cast iron skillet.
Recipe: Serves 4 adults
- 4 halibut fillets (about 4 oz each)
- 1 T olive oil
- salt and pepper
- 1/4 cup sour cream
- 1 chipotle pepper from a can of pepper in adobe sauce, minced
- Mango salsa (recipe in previous post below)
- Red cabbage, shredded (about a cup)
- Tortillas, corn or flour
Method: *If you don’t have a grill or a grill pan, the fish can also be cooked under the broiler.
- Either heat a grill pan or med-high heat or heat an outdoor grill. While grill is heating, rub halibut with olive oil and season with salt and pepper on both sides.
- Grill fish for a few minute on each side until is flakes easily. Set aside.
- Stir sour cream and chipotle pepper together, taste and add salt and pepper as necessary.
- Serve by spooning chunks of fish into a warm tortilla and top with salsa, chipotle cream and cabbage.
September 29th, 2010
Sweet, spicy and cooling, this is a great accompaniment for grilled fish or chicken. I am on a salsa kick. There are so many different types of salsa that you can make so easily. They add so much flavor to dishes with out a lot of calories. This salsa comes together in minutes. This particular night I served it with halibut tacos. You can skip the step of charring the jalapeno if you want to. It is good both ways. I just like the smokey flavor it adds when you toast the pepper first. This salsa is also very good with diced avocado stirred in.
- 1 medium size mango, peeled, pitted and diced
- 1 Jalapeno pepper
- 1 Large Heirloom tomato, diced
- 1/2 small red onion, finely minced
- 1/2 English cucumber, diced
- 1 handful cilantro leaves, chopped
- 1 lime, cut in half
- salt and pepper
- Heat a small cast iron skillet over med-high. Add jalapeno pepper and cook, turning occasionally until blistered on each side. (Skip step if desired) Remove jalapeno from pan and when cool enough to handle, carefully dice. You can leave seeds in or out depending on desired heat.
- Toss the mango and cilantro in a bowl together. Squeeze the lime juice over the top and season to taste with salt and pepper.