Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Walnut & Herb Crusted Beef Tenderloin.

A few weeks ago, I posted a recipe for Walnut & Herb Crusted Pork Tenderloin, based on a Clean Eating recipe for Sirloin Tip Roast.  For Christmas, I decided to try the beef, but used beef tenderloin and modified the recipe a bit. The ease of preparation is impressive - it takes about 15 minutes to get this in the oven so you can spend your time on other things.  I was a little anxious making this up along the way, given the price tag on the tenderloin, but it was a huge success and the tenderloin was incredibly tender and delicious!

  • 3 pounds beef tenderloin
  • 1/4 cup unsalted walnuts
  • 1/2 cup panko
  • 1.5 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried marjoram
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • cooking spray

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line baking pan with foil.  Rinse and pat dry beef.  Set aside.  In food processor, chop walnuts until finely ground.  Add panko, thyme, marjoram, oregano, salt & pepper, and spin in the food processor until mixed.  Spray beef lightly with cooking spray.  Press walnut mixture over entire tenderloin.  Bake for 25 minutes, then wrap foil around the meat.  Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees and bake another 50 minutes.  Let sit for 10 minutes, slice, and serve.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Turkey & Bean Hotdish. (For Swimmers.)

I feed two growing teenage swimmers everyday. One happens to be nationally ranked. And a 15 year old boy. And a distance swimmer.  Remember all the talk in 2008 about how many calories Michael Phelps consumed everyday at the Olympics?  It’s real.  The amount of food consumed in my house is impressive. Fortunately, my new recipes are welcomed and I never have to worry if anyone is “hungry enough” to eat what I cook.  The time between school and practice everyday is open season on my refrigerator. (And you don’t even want to know how much I pack in school lunches everyday!) One thing I try to do is prepare hearty, healthy dishes that can be reheated after school. This hotdish – casserole for those not from the Midwest – is a dish that is quickly prepared- and just as quickly disappears at my house.
  • 1 pound extra-lean ground turkey
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • ½ sweet yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 4 stalks (or more) celery, chopped
  • 1 can cannellini beans
  • 1 can pinto beans
  • 1 can diced tomatoes (I used Italian seasoned, because it’s what I had in the pantry)
  • 1 ½  tsp paprika
  • 2 tsp parsley
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • ½ tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup small pasta (I used farfalline – mini bowties)
  • 1 cup water

In large stockpot, sauté onion, celery, and garlic until onion and celery are getting soft and garlic is fragrant, about 5 minutes.  Add ground turkey and cook until no longer pink, breaking up the meat with a spoon and turning often.  (Note: extra lean ground turkey contains very little fat and therefore requires a bit more attention when browning than ground beef does, to keep it from over-browning and sticking to the bottom of your pan.)  Add both cans of beans, tomatoes, and seasonings.  Simmer for 5 minutes.  Stir in pasta and add water. Simmer 8 to 10 minutes, or until pasta is tender. Add more water if necessary to keep the pasta submerged and the pot simmering. Serve immediately or refrigerate and reheat later – it’s one of those dishes that improves with time!

Pear and Cranberry Tart.

I set out to make a rustic, free-form pear tart…and ended up making five of them!  Four of my tarts were pear & walnut, and one was pear, walnut & cranberry.  The recipe can be adapted for just about any fruit – just be sure to include more corn starch, flour, or potato starch if your chosen fruit is juicier. Stay tuned for a future attempt with raspberries… Until then, ENJOY this recipe!
Recipe for one tart
  • crust for 1 pie
  • 3 to 4 pears, peeled & sliced
  • 1 Tbsp Lemon juice
  • 1 tsp Vanilla
  • 1 Tbsp rounded cornstarch
  • ¼ c Brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ c chopped walnuts
  • 1 egg white
  • 2 tsp sugar
If adding cranberries, also use:
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries
  • ¼ c sugar
  • ¼ c water

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Place rolled out pie crust on baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
If adding cranberries, cook cranberries, sugar & water over low heat for five minutes, until cranberries split open.  Set aside.
Toss sliced pear slices with lemon juice and vanilla.  Add cornstarch, brown sugar, and cinnamon.  Toss gently.  Add walnuts and cranberries, if using.
Spread fruit over pie crust, leaving about an inch around the outside. Crimp crust all the way around, folding in slightly over fruit.  Brush edge of crust with egg white and sprinkle with sugar.  Bake for 35 minutes, or until crust is lightly browned and fruit is tender.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Sweet Potatoes and Pomegranate.

I combined three of my favorites in this dish to create an easy, yummy side!

  • 2 cups diced sweet potatoes
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 3/4 cup pomegranate seeds
  • 3-4 mint leaves,chopped
  • salt & pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 9x13 baking pan with foil.  Toss sweet potato cubes with olive oil. Spread in a single layer in baking pan.  Sprinkle with salt & pepper.  Roast for 25-30 minutes, until soft (but not mushy).  Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes.  Add chopped mint and pomegranate seeds.  Gently mix and serve warm.  Delicious chilled too!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Walnut Herb Crusted Pork Tenderloin.

This recipe is an adaptation of a Sirloin Tip Roast recipe in the November/December issue of Clean Eating.  It's easy to prepare and there was not one bite remaining!  I served the pork with fresh green beans seasoned with butter & truffle salt and a whole grain & cranberry side dish.  It was a great combination!
  • 1 unseasoned pork tenderloin
  • 1/4 cup unsalted walnuts
  • 1/2 cup panko
  • 1.5 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried marjoram
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • cooking spray
Preheat oven to 425 degrees and line baking pan with foil.  Rinse and pat dry pork.  Set aside.  In food processor, chop walnuts until finely ground.  Add panko, thyme, marjoram, salt & pepper, and spin in the food processor until mixed.  Spray pork lightly with cooking spray.  Press walnut mixture over entire tenderloin.  Bake for 25 minutes, then wrap foil around the meat and bake another 10 minutes.  Let sit for 10 minutes, slice, and serve.

Sunday, December 4, 2011


This easy no-bake cookie is one I remember from my childhood. My Grandma made them and sent them to us every year. Today, this is a favorite in my house.  However, it's true confession in the kitchen time: I have never actually measured the ingredients.  This is a recipe that just looks right when it's ready.  
  • semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted (about 2 cups)
  • chow mein noodles (1 package)
  • cocktail peanuts (1 cup or so)

The key is to mix the ingredients until you notice the following: 1) there isn't extra chocolate dripping, and 2) the chow mein noodles and peanuts are well-covered in chocolate.  I start with about 2 cups of chocolate chips, then add 1/2 package of chow mein noodles and mix.  Then I add peanuts - maybe a 1/2 cup.  Back to the noodles, add some more peanuts, and keep tossing until it's well mixed.

Drop by spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet covered in waxed paper. Chill until chocolate hardens.  Keep in a cool place to prevent melting. Bring to room temp just before serving.

Cake Pops!

As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemakers program, I received coupons for Duncan Hines products - and with those came motivation to make my first Cake Pops!  We followed the method many have recommended: bake the cake according to package directions, cool completely, crumble it up and add frosting (we used about 3/4 of the can).  Next, we shaped the balls and inserted sticks that were dipped in our candy coating.  After chilling the pops for a half hour (let's hear it for sub-freezing Minnesota temps and a three-season porch off the kitchen!), we returned to the kitchen to dip them into peppermint chocolate coating.  And here was the result!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts.

This recipe is a variation on one that appears in this month's issue of Clean Eating.
  • 25 to 30 small brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
  • 1 T lemon juice
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 T white wine vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 c panko
  • salt & pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Toss brussels sprouts with lemon, oil, vinegar, & garlic. Sprinkle panko over sprouts and toss gently.  Spread in a single layer on a baking pan.  Sprinkle with salt & pepper. Bake for 10 minutes. Turn and return to oven for 10 more minutes.

Ready for the oven.

Ready to eat!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Balsamic Chicken and Onions.

This was one of those "what's in the fridge?" sort of meals that turned out to be rather tasty. It was super simple because it is made with some of my go-to, always-on-hand ingredients: frozen chicken breast strips, red onion, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and fresh herbs.

  • a dozen frozen chicken breast strips (boneless, skinless)
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • balsamic vinegar
  • olive oil
  • sea salt
  • pepper
  • 1 T each chopped chives, Italian parsley
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line 9 x 13 baking pan with foil. Arrange chicken in single layer.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Drizzle olive oil and balsamic vinegar over all chicken pieces. (I was rather generous with the balsamic because I love it!) Sprinkle onion and fresh herbs evenly over chicken. Bake for 30-35 minutes.

This was delicious served with lima beans (my fav!) and red potatoes sprinkled with truffle salt. Yum!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Red Potatoes & Truffle Oil.

I have been a fan of truffle oil for a long time and admittedly, have enjoyed it many (too many) times on really delicious french fries.  I'd never cooked with it myself though.  Last week my favorite grocery store sampled potatoes fried in black truffle oil. I bought a bottle on the spot and went home to create my own recipe. There were no leftovers.

  • 1 pound baby red potatoes, halved
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • sea salt & fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1 T black truffle oil
  • freshly grated asiago cheese
Bring a pot of water to a boil; add potatoes and cook just until tender. Drain potatoes and transfer to a skillet prepared with cooking spray.  Sprinkle potatoes with rosemary, salt & pepper, and cook 4 to 5 minutes, until potatoes just start to brown.  Add truffle oil and continue cooking 3 more minutes.  Transfer to a serving bowl and generously add freshly grated asiago cheese.  Toss gently and enjoy!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Avocado Egg Salad.

I love hard boiled eggs so when I found out I was selected as part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program to receive coupons for Land O Lakes eggs, I knew I'd create a recipe using hard boiled eggs.  I decided to use my fresh, hormone-free eggs to make this satisfying twist on egg salad.

  • 8 Land O Lakes eggs, hard boiled & peeled
  • 2 avocados
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1 T dijon mustard
  • 1 T rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • good bread (for sandwiches)
  • lettuce
Slice eggs in half. Scoop the yolk from three eggs into a bowl and set aside. Coarsely chop the whites from those three eggs plus the other five whole eggs and place in a bowl.  Peel and coarsely chop the two avocados. Add half of an avocado to the bowl containing the egg yolks and mash together.  Put the other one and a half avocados in the bowl with the chopped eggs; add chopped onion.  Gently mix chopped eggs, onion & avocado and set aside.  To the mashed egg yolk & avocado mixture, add mustard, vinegar, & parley.  Mix well. Gently fold this mixture into the chopped egg, avocado & onion.  Serve on a bed of lettuce or as a sandwich and enjoy!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Sugar Snap Pea & Shrimp Soup.

As part of the Foodbuzz Tastemaker Program, I received a coupon for Green Giant frozen vegetables.  I set out to use my Green Giant vegetables as an integral part of the meal, not simply as a side dish.  Fresh fruits and vegetables feature prominently in my menus; my use of frozen vegetables has primarily been as side dishes, so I challenged myself to incorporate the frozen vegetable into the main dish.  I decided to use Green Giant Valley Fresh Steamers Sugar Snap Peas as the key vegetable in this tangy, healthy, and quick soup.

  • 1 package of thin rice noodles
  • 64 ounces low fat, low sodium chicken broth
  • 1 package sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 16 ounces frozen shrimp, 50-60 count
  • 1 bag Green Valley Fresh Steamers Sugar Snap Peas
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp  Green Jalapeño Tabasco Sauce
  • ½ cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges

Prepare rice noodles according to package directions. Set aside.  Bring chicken broth, mushrooms, and onions to a simmer. Cook for 4 minutes.  Add frozen shrimp. Simmer 3 minutes.  Stir in Green Giant Sugar Snap Peas, sesame oil, Tabasco, and cilantro. Simmer 3-5 more minutes, until shrimp and snap peas are heated through.

Add rice noodles to individual bowls.  Ladle broth over noodles.  Squeeze fresh lime on soup. For a spicy kick, add more green Tabasco and enjoy!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Potatoes & Sausage.

This was comfort food, all the way around.  I had some baby potatoes I wanted to use and had a craving for something a little salty. This is what resulted.

  • 15 baby potatoes, in a variety of colors
  • 3 Italian turkey brats, casing removed
  • 6 green onions, chopped, including the green parts
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • freshly grated ginger (optional)
  • sea salt
Slice potatoes in half.  Boil until tender.  While potatoes are boiling, cook sausage in a small skillet, until browned and crumbly.  When potatoes and sausage are both cooked, transfer to a larger skillet.  Drizzle oil down the side of the pan and toss potatoes and sausage.  Cook about 5 minutes, until potatoes brown slightly.  Stir in green onions and cook 1 more minute.  Serve with grated ginger and a sprinkle of sea salt on top.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Vegetable & Sausage Saute.

This meal went together quickly and disappeared just as fast. Serve with fresh bread or brown rice and a salad.

  • 1 package fully cooked chicken sausage, sliced
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 1 bell pepper, sliced
  • 8-10 mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 oz sun-dried tomatoes, in oil
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
Saute sausage and onion over medium heat until onion is soft, about 5 minutes.  Add pepper strips and mushrooms.  Cook another 5 minutes, tossing several times.  Add tomatoes and seasonings. Stir. Cover and cook 3 minutes more, until everything is heated through.  Peppers should still be brightly colored and slightly firm.  Serve and enjoy.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Chicken Corn Vegetable Soup.

I set out to make chicken corn chowder, but without the heavy, creamy consistency. This recipe will go through several more iterations before it's exactly what I am after, but this is a very good start. The chief taste-tester in my kitchen had only positive reviews.

  • 2 T butter
  • 1/2 medium red onion, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 64 ounces chicken broth
  • 4 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 cups frozen corn kernels
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 3 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 2 T heavy cream
  • lime juice
Melt butter in stock pot or large soup pan.  Saute onion & red pepper until soft.  Add chicken broth and celery. Bring to a boil. Simmer for 5 minutes.  Add corn, clilantro, and chicken. Simmer another 5 minutes.  Stir in salsa. Simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in cream. Serve with a splash of lime juice.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Lemon Dill Potato Salad.

Challenged to create a unique potato salad, I came up with this little recipe. Yum.

  • 8-10 Yukon Gold potatoes
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped red onion
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped celery
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp lemon juice
  • sea salt & pepper
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh dill
Peel potatoes and cut in half. Cook in boiling water until tender.  Cool.  Slice potatoes crosswise.  Gently toss with onion and celery.  Mix oil and lemon juice and pour over potato mixture.  Gently toss with dill. Add salt & pepper to taste. Chill before serving.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Lemon Mushroom Orzo with Cilantro.

I love reading recipes. I have shelves filled with cookbooks, some of which I purchased simply to read. Lately (I think it must be the cooler weather!), I've been reading a lot of risotto and orzo recipes and was inspired by a lemon and rosemary orzo posted at Eat Yourself Skinny.  This is my twist on a lemony orzo. There was great debate in the test kitchen about the add-ins, so I left them as optional. My preference is to add the pine nuts. One of my tasters preferred the original with no add-ins and the other went for both pine nuts and prosciutto!  Enjoy.

  • 1 1/2 c orzo
  • 1 T butter
  • 1 c chicken broth
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 c water
  • 1 box sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 T cilantro, chopped
  • toasted pine nuts, optional
  • prosciutto crumbles
Saute orzo in butter for 5 minutes.  Stir almost constantly to avoid over-browning.  Add broth, lemon, water, mushrooms, and salt.  Simmer for 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and orzo is tender. Stir frequently to avoid sticking.  Stir in cilantro and, if adding, sprinkle pine nuts and prosciutto crumbs on top.

Tangy Mango & Squash Salad.

This recipe was inspired by a blog a friend shared with me. Thanks, Erika! Check out Eating Rules for a version of this recipe that uses sweet potatoes and a whole lot of great healthy eating information.

  • 4 c butternut squash, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 mango, cut into chunks larger than the squash
  • 1 c cooked edamame
  • 3 T olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 T lemon juice
  • 2 T agave nectar (honey works too)
  • 1 T rice vinegar
  • 3 T cilantro, chopped
Note: This step can be done ahead of time to allow time for the squash to cool. The salad is best when chilled.  Toss the squash in 2 T of olive oil.  Sprinkle generously with sea salt & pepper. Spread in a single layer on a foil-lined baking pan and bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes. Squash should be soft but not mushy.  Cool completely.

Mix dressing: 1 T olive oil, lemon juice, agave nectar, and vinegar.

When squash is cooled, gently toss with mango and edamame.  Sprinkle with fresh cilantro and drizzle with dressing.  Toss to mix.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Sausage, Tortellini & Spinach Soup.

It was another soup & bread day in my kitchen. Yum! This hearty soup is a twist on chicken noodle: it uses turkey sausage and cheese tortellini, and adds mushrooms & spinach. With both the sausage and the tortellini, it makes a filling meal. The crumbled prosciutto on top adds great flavor and texture. 

  • 1 package of turkey Italian sausage or bratwurst, cut into 1 inch pieces or smaller
  • 64 ounces chicken broth
  • 1 package fresh cheese tortellini
  • 1 box cleaned, sliced mushrooms
  • 6 large handfuls fresh spinach
  • 2 tsp parsley
  • 2 slices prosciutto, cooked until crisp and crumbled
In stock pot or large soup pot, cook turkey sausage over medium heat until no longer pink. Add chicken broth and bring to a boil.  Add mushrooms and parsley.  Cook for two minutes.  Add tortellini and cook for 5 minutes or according to package directions.  Stir in spinach and cook for 1 more minute. Ladle into bowls and serve with a sprinkling of prosciutto crumbles on top.

Prosciutto, Pear, & Lemon Stilton.

Quick and elegant, with a nice mix of flavors. Just the way a busy girl likes to cook!  I made one pear's worth for lunch (about 10 pieces) and every time I turned around, one was missing and the remaining wraps were rearranged on the plate. Rave review, indeed!

  • prosciutto
  • pear, peeled & sliced
  • Stilton cheese with lemon, sliced
Wrap a slice of pear & a slice of Stilton in a piece of prosciutto and enjoy!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Endive and Pears with Blue Cheese.

Quick little salad with great flavor. Received rave reviews at my table!  This makes a flavorful side dish with pork or chicken.
  • Belgian endive, one head per serving, sliced crosswise into bite-sized pieces
  • fresh pear, chopped (1 pear is enough for 2 servings)
  • lemon juice
  • dried cranberries (1 T per serving)
  • blue cheese (1 T per serving)
Toss chopped pair in a small amount of lemon juice.  Then, gently toss all ingredients together. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

Chili with Ground Beef and Vegetables.

Cooler weather brings out my soup pots.  I love homemade soups of all kinds and find that making a big batch of soup and some fresh bread quickly brings my family to the table!  This recipe is for a simple chili, made with a combination of fresh and canned ingredients. When using canned ingredients, it's important to pay attention to quality; I use the most whole canned ingredients I can find, with the fewest bonus ingredients possible.

  • 1 pound lean ground beef (or ground turkey)
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 6 stalks celery, sliced crosswise
  • 1 can cannellini beans
  • 1 can light red kidney beans
  • 2 can diced tomatoes
  • dried seasonings: garlic powder, oregano, chili powder, parsley
Brown ground beef (or turkey) in dutch oven or large soup pot.  Add onion and celery and cook until tender.  Stir in beans and tomatoes. Season to taste. Simmer for 20 to 30 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.  Enjoy with crusty bread and fresh fruit.

Turkey Sausage, Beans & Vegetables.

This is a quick and easy dish to prepare on a chilly night. Served with fresh bread and some crisp apple slices, this is a filling and healthy meal!

  • 1 package of lean turkey Italian sausage or bratwurst, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 red onion, sliced
  • 1 can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 bag prewashed spinach
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, rinsed
Cook sausage and sliced onion over medium heat until sausage is cooked through.  Stir in beans and cook for five minutes over medium heat, until beans are heated through.  Add spinach and whole tomatoes. Gently stir in. Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup water and cover. Cook five more minutes, until spinach is wilted and tomatoes begin to split open.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Summer Squash Spaghetti.

The working title for this dish was Simple Amazing Pasta, but, as my daughter said, "something this amazing deserves a little more descriptive name."  But, it IS simple. REALLY simple. And it is amazing.  Super fresh ingredients are the key.

  • thin spaghetti
  • zucchini & yellow summer squash, sliced crosswise with a mandoline slicer
  • fresh Asiago cheese, shredded
  • sea salt & fresh ground pepper
  • olive oil
I prepared this dish for two, so I used approximately two servings of pasta, about a 1/4 cup of Asiago, half of a very small zucchini and half of a very small yellow squash, sliced very thin with my mandoline slicer.

Bring water to a boil and cook pasta according to directions, adding 1 Tbsp of olive oil to the water.  With two minutes remaining for the pasta to cook, add the squash to the boiling water.  After two minutes, quickly drain pasta & squash in a colander and return to cooking pan.  Gently mix in Asiago and transfer to serving dish. Sprinkle with salt & pepper and serve.

This takes about 12 minutes total. Simple. Amazing. Pasta.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Marinated Tomatoes with Pasta.

I bought some spinach & basil fettucine at the farmer's market this week.  Inspired by a picture on the front cover of this month's Martha Stewart Living, i picked up some yellow & red cherry tomatoes and went home to make this recipe.
  • pasta (spinach & basil fettucine was amazing!)
  • cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • ¼ cup fresh basil, torn
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 T rice vinegar
  • fresh sea salt
  • fresh ground black pepper

optional: Parmesan or Asiago cheese, shredded

Cook pasta according to package directions.  Mix other ingredients together, except cheese; once mixed, let sit for 10 to 15 minutes.  Drain cooked pasta. Mix tomato mixture into hot pasta and toss. Sprinkle with cheese, if desired. Serve with a green salad.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Chicken with Mushrooms & Artichokes.

This is an easy, no-fuss chicken recipe with great flavor. Serve with a side salad and pasta for a complete meal.

  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 6 oz marinated artichoke hearts, quartered (reserve marinade)
  • 6 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup Asiago cheese, shredded (more can be used)
  • salt & pepper to taste
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 9 x 13 baking pan with cooking spray. Sprinkle both sides of chicken breasts with salt & pepper and place in pan.  Spread artichoke hearts and mushrooms over chicken.  Pour reserved artichoke marinade over all ingredients in pan.  Bake for 45 minutes.  After 45 minutes, sprinkle tomatoes and cheese over chicken and bake for another 15 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes before serving and enjoy!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Open Face Dumplings.

Package of potsticker wrappers in hand, I knew I needed to create something.  I wanted it to be simple, filling, and reasonably healthy.  This is what emerged. I aimed for a baked open face potsticker, with a common filling base that could be adjusted for individual preferences.  You can add just about anything to the filling, though it's important to have something that will bind your ingredients together (i.e. cheese, a creamy sauce) and to have ingredients that aren't too soupy, or your final product may be soggy.

Start by spraying a mini-muffin pan with cooking spray and gently pressing one potsticker or wonton wrapper in each cup.

Prepare your filling. Plan for about one to one and a half tablespoons of filling for each wrapper.  If you use wonton wrappers you could use a larger muffin tray and then will need at least twice the filling. When the wrappers are filled, bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes. Keep an eye on them and remove from the oven when the wrappers are obviously baked and very lightly browned.

Four Fillings

Goat Cheese & Plum
  • goat cheese (mine was flavored with honey, from my favorite cheese seller)
  • 1 red plum, thinly sliced, with slices cut into thirds
  • hazelnuts, chopped
  • cinnamon
  • agave nectar

Put about 2 tsp of goat cheese in the bottom of the wrapper.  Sprinkle with cinnamon. Place several plum slices on top of cheese, sprinkle with chopped hazelnuts, and drizzle with agave nectar.

Artichoke & Onion
  • marinated artichoke hearts, chopped
  • green onions, chopped
  • Italian parsley, chopped
  • parmesan cheese, shredded (choose a good quality cheese and shred it yourself for the best flavor)
Mix ingredients together in equal quantities and spoon into wrappers. Because I was making several varieties, I only wanted four of these, with a total filling need of 4 to 6 Tablespoons. Therefore, I mixed 1 heaping T of each ingredient to make this filling.

Artichoke & Onion. And Shrimp.
  • marinated artichoke hearts, chopped
  • green onions, chopped
  • Italian parsley, chopped
  • parmesan cheese, shredded (choose a good quality cheese and shred it yourself for the best flavor)
  • shrimp, cooked, peeled, deveined, and chopped
Notice, this the same base as the last variety, but with shrimp added.  Mix the ingredients in the same ratio as above, but add more shrimp according to your taste.  I added twice as much shrimp as other ingredients because I wanted these to be a bit more filling.

  • marinated artichoke hearts, chopped
  • green onions, chopped
  • Italian parsley, chopped
  • parmesan cheese, shredded (choose a good quality cheese and shred it yourself for the best flavor)
  • mixed olives in oil, finely chopped
Again, the same artichoke-onion-parm base, this time with olives added.  I bought mixed olives with Italian herbs from the olive bar at my local store, and then chopped and mixed them in.  These I kept in a 1:1 ratio because the olive flavor was strong. You could adjust however you like.

That's it!  Easy to personalize, easy to prepare. My next batch will likely have a cilantro-lemon-goat cheese base...

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Nectarine & Corn Salad.

Back in my own kitchen after too long away. Lots to share in the coming days. For now, here's a simple salad we enjoyed this evening.

1 white nectarine, cut into small cubes
1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
3 T cilantro, chopped
2 ears of corn, cooked and cut from cob
2 tsp lime juice

Toss all ingredients in a bowl. Chill for 15 minutes before serving.  Serves 4 as a side salad.  Simple, fresh, tasty!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Chicken Caprese Pasta.

This recipe is one that is completely determined by individual tastes.  Mix and match your favorite ingredients for a fresh, filling pasta.  I recommend trying some new combinations. You never know what you'll learn to love!  Here's my version.

  • fresh asparagus, cut into bite sized pieces
  • cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters
  • fresh mozzarella, cut into bite sized pieces
  • sun-dried tomatoes, packed in oil, sliced into thin strips
  • green onions, chopped
  • fresh parmesan, grated
  • basil leaves, torn
  • chicken breast strips
  • olive oil
  • Italian seasoning
  • lemon, cut into quarters
  • fettucini
Cook asparagus in small amount of boiling water until just crisp. Plunge asparagus into ice water to stop the cooking. Set aside.

Heat oil in large pan. Cook chicken on high until one side is browned.  Sprinkle with Italian seasoning and turn over.  When both sides of chicken are browned, squeeze the juice of 1/4 lemon over it and sprinkle more seasoning on the chicken.  Turn heat to medium, cover, and continue until chicken is cooked through. (Add a small amount of water to pan if juices cook off before chicken is cooked through.)

While chicken is cooking, prepare tomatoes, green onions and cheeses.  Cook pasta.

To serve, toss pasta with chicken, asparagus, tomatoes, green onions, basil leaves, and cheese.  Squeeze lemon on top, if desired. Yum!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Mushrooms & Shrimp with Pesto on Pasta.

This may well be one of the best meals I've cooked all summer.  Pick any pasta shape you like. We decided on gemelli today.  Use store-bought pesto or make your own, as I did.  As sauteed mushrooms and sauteed shrimp. Toss it together with a bit of freshly grated parmesan on top and pair with a simple green salad.  Mmmm....


  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • salt, to taste
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
Mix all ingredients except olive oil in the bowl of a food processor.  Blend until well chopped.  Slowly drizzle in olive oil and continue to blend to a smooth consistency.

The Rest
  • pasta to serve 4
  • 3/4 pound peeled & deveined shrimp
  • 8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • olive oil
  • salt & pepper
Cook pasta according to package instructions.  Saute mushrooms in 2 T olive oil.  When mushrooms are cooked, set aside in a bowl and add 1 T oil to pan.  Saute shrimp in oil.  Sprinkle with salt & pepper before turning. When shrimp are cooked through, remove from heat.  Toss shrimp and mushrooms with pasta.  Spoon pesto over pasta mixture and gently mix together.  Sprinkle parmesan on top and serve.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Twenty Minute Seafood Paella. Minus the Rice.

Love paella, but wanted something a little lighter. I left the rice out and added a few baby potatoes.  The result was a just right, light combination of seafood and veggies.

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1/2 leek, thinly sliced
  • 3 medium tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 T Italian Parsley, chopped
  • 1 C frozen okra, cut
  • 5 or 6 baby potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • sea salt & fresh ground pepper
  • 3/4 pound Seafood: bay scallops, peeled & deveined shrimp, mussels

Saute leek slices in olive oil for 5 minutes. Add garlic, tomato, parsley, okra, & potatoes. Salt & pepper to taste.  Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 10 minutes.  Add seafood of your choice. Simmer until seafood is cooked through. Enjoy with some crusty bread!

Fizzy Raspberry Mint Lemonade.

Hot days call for cool refreshment.  Here's a twist on a time honored favorite! Recipe below makes a single tall glass. Adjust as needed.

  • 1 T fresh mint leaves
  • 12 fresh raspberries
  • 1 T sugar
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • sparkling water
  • ice cubes
Muddle the mint leaves & 6 raspberries using a mortar & pestle or the back of a spoon in a bowl.  Put mint & crushed berries in the bottom of a tall glass. Add sugar & lemon juice. Stir.  Fill glass with ice cubes. Pour sparkling water over ice and mix.  Top with remaining raspberries and enjoy!

Note: I am not a fan of sweet drinks, so I make my lemonade on the tart side. Adjust the sugar to taste.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Bread on the Side.

I love bread. In fact, I love bread more than I love leeks, so that's saying something.  For this quick side, I used bakery-purchased ciabatta rolls and a few toppings from my fridge.  Personalize it to your liking and you can have a different taste every time!

  • ciabatta rolls, sliced and then halved
  • fresh mozzarella slices
  • fresh basil
  • tomato slices
  • sea salt & fresh ground pepper
  • butter
  • leek, thinly sliced
Set oven to low broil. I made 4 slices of each variety:
Variety 1: Place a slice of fresh mozzarella covering most of the bread slice.
Variety 2: Spread bread slice with butter. Salt & pepper each slice and sprinkle with leek slices.

Place bread slices under broiler until just brown.  Remove and add a leaf of basil and a slice of tomato to the mozzarella bread.  That's all - except for maybe having to make more when it disappears from the table!

Extraordinarily easy and proof that with a few simple ingredients, you can prepare healthy, tasty recipes!

Raspberries & Chicken.

A friend brought me just-picked raspberries this morning and I knew they needed to be part of our dinner.  Enter chicken breasts & leeks, and dinner was ready!

  • 4 boneless chicken breasts
  • 1 pint fresh raspberries
  • 1 leek, cleaned & thinly sliced, white part only
  • olive oil
  • sea salt & fresh ground pepper
  • 1 T sugar
  • 3 T water
Heat oven to 375 degrees.  Arrange chicken breasts in baking pan. Salt & pepper to taste. Drizzle chicken with olive oil.  Sprinkle about half the leek slices over chicken. Bake for 25 minutes.  While chicken bakes, bring water to a boil and add sugar. Boil until dissolved and turn heat to medium.  Add raspberries and crush with back of spoon.  Cook over medium to low heat until you have a raspberry sauce.  Boil slowly to cook off excess liquid if needed.  After chicken has baked for 25 minutes, spoon raspberry sauce over chicken and bake for 10 more minutes, or until chicken is cooked through.  Allow chicken to sit for 5 minutes, then slice and top with remaining sauce and a few leek slices.

This recipe received high praise from all around the table!