Saturday, July 31, 2010


this is one of the easiest, and tastiest appetizers you'll ever make! it's under 10 ingredients, all of which can be found year round. it takes no more than a few chops with a knife, a whirl of a food processor blade, and a spoon to scoop the bruschetta into a bowl (or into your mouth!). this cool, fresh take on bruschetta is a delicious treat that i guarantee will make many appearances at your future parties, picnics, and gatherings!

4 large plum tomatoes, seeds removed and chopped
4 gloves of garlic, minced
3/4 cup kalamata olives, chopped
1 tbs fresh basil, chopped
1 tsp fresh oregano, chopped
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
bread toasts or crackers for serving

-chop all ingredients in a food processor or blender until pieces are in small chunks
-serve with bread or crackers, enjoy!

this recipe was given to me by my grandfather's good friend, Gail. my grandparents' fridge is never empty of this delicious snack!

-if you don't have a blender or food processor, you can do all the chopping by hand! it'd still be delicious, and a little more chunky and 'rustic' looking!
-to make your own bread toasts: slice a loaf of fresh bread (like a ciabatta, sourdough, or italian white bread) into 1/4" slices, and then cut each piece into 2" pieces (bite size!). place in a single layer on a baking sheet, drizzle or spray on olive oil, and toast in the oven at 375 degrees until bread starts to turn golden brown.
-put the leftovers over pasta, and turn it into dinner! yum!
-you can use black olives instead of kalamata olives, or try some roasted garlic instead of fresh!
-make it a warm dish by placing the bruschetta on lightly toasted bread, sprinkling some shredded mozzarella cheese on top, and bake it in a [375 degree] oven until the cheese is melted

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


who doesn't love the classic mozzarella, tomato, and basil summer salad? well this spin on the salad gives you the added benefits of protein and grains! the light, nutty flavor of the tiny pearly barley blends great with bright vinegar flavors and the colorful heirloom tomatoes are just as appealing to the stomach as they are to the eyes! bring a bowl of this to your next picnic, and it'll be the star of the show, as will you!

1 cup pearl barley, rinsed and drained
2 cups water
1 1/2 tbs. extra virgin olive oil
3 tbs red wine vinegar
2 tbs balsamic vinegar
2 tbs diced red onion
1 1/2 cups mini heirloom tomatoes
1 cup baby bocconcini mozzarella (approximately 10 pieces)
1/3 cup chickpeas, drained and rinsed
5-6 fresh basil leaves, chopped

-boil water in a medium sized pot, add barley, and reduce heat to low
-cover pot and cook barley on low for approximately 35 minutes, until all the water is absorbed into the barley
-transfer the barley into a large mixing bowl, add 1 tbs each of red wine vinegar and balsamic vinegar, mix to coat
-add olive oil, and a few shakes of salt and pepper, mix, and place in refrigerator until cool
-quarter tomatoes and bocconcini and add to cooled barley
-mix in onions, chickpeas, and basil
-add the remaining 2 tbs of red wine vinegar and 1 tbs of balsamic vinegar right before serving

serves approximately 8 people as a side dish

this dish was inspired by the colorful, tiny heirloom tomatoes at Trader Joe's.

-can't find baby heirloom tomatoes? use any small tomato you can find or have on hand: grape tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, or even chop up one large tomato (just be sure to remove the seeds from a larger tomato)
-you can also use larger pieces of bocconcini if you cannot find baby sized, just cut the cheese into similar sized pieces as the tomatoes
-if you do not have fresh basil, you may use dried- but only use about a teaspoon
-instead of chickpeas, use cannellini beans!
-try the salad with other whole grains like farro or quinoa

Monday, July 26, 2010


time to marry the beloved flavors of italian and mexican foods! leave the tortilla shells in the fridge, and say hello to polenta! this northern italian favorite acts as a perfect bed for the classic latin taste of an enchilada. the creamy polenta is a wonderful counterpart to the mildly spicy peppers and sauce, and as you bite into this dish you'll taste every delicious layer of flavor. so pop this bake into the oven and bring out the blender for margaritas because tonight it's time for a dinner fiesta!

3/4 cup instant or quick cooking polenta
2 cooked chicken breasts, shredded
3 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup frozen corn
1 poblano pepper, cut into 1/4" slices
1 small yellow or white onion, cut into 1/4" slices
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 15oz can black beans
1 10oz can enchilada sauce
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 tbs salt
extra virgin olive oil

-bring broth to a boil and stir in 1 tbs of salt
-slowly stream polenta into broth, stirring constantly until polenta thickens (about 2-3 minutes
-add corn and 1/4 cup of the cheese and mix
-pour mixture into a greased 9"x9" casserole dish, and smooth out evenly, set aside
-in a large pan, warm 2 tsp. olive oil over medium heat, add peppers and onions
-cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring often
-add garlic, reduce heat to medium-low, stir, and cook for another 3-4 minutes, remove from heat
-drain and rinse beans, and place an even layer of beans over polenta
-place an even layer of chicken over beans
-place an even layer of the peppers and onions over the chicken
-pour the enchilada sauce over the peppers and onions
-sprinkle cheddar cheese over the top of the casserole
-bake at 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes, until heated through and is warm and bubbly
-let cool, and enjoy!

serves approximately 4 people

this recipe was inspired from an Amy's frozen, microwavable meal.

-use shredded pork or beef instead of chicken (or use a store bought rotisserie chicken to save time!)
-try pinto beans instead of black beans and green enchilada sauce instead of red
-spice it up! add a sliced spicy jalapeno or some diced green chiles in with the poblanos
-can't find a poblano? use a bell pepper (color of your choice)
-have grits at home? forget the polenta and use that instead!
-try it vegetarian, skip the chicken and add extra veggies like spinach, mushrooms, and zucchini
-leftovers? chop it up, and roll it in a tortilla, heat and eat!

Thursday, July 22, 2010


time for breakfast! and this dish is ready to amaze... with only 9 ingredients and about an hour of prep and cooking time, you'll be putting that pancake mix back into the pantry for good. the light, fluffy eggs pair perfectly with the mild, earthy flavor of mushrooms and the salty, smokey taste of bacon. it's easy enough to whip up quick in the morning, yet impressive enough to make for company. so try it out; you'll be happy to be waking up to this meal!

3 cups whole wheat bread, cut into 1" cubes (about 1/3 loaf of bread)
5 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 cup sliced mushrooms baby portabella mushrooms (or mushroom of your choice)
1/3 cup chopped frozen spinach, thawed and liquid squeezed out
7 eggs, beaten
1 cup milk
1 cup grated pepper havarti cheese
1/2 cup grated swiss cheese
extra virgin olive oil

-warm 1 tsp olive oil in a pan over medium heat
-add mushrooms and saute until brown 5-10 minutes
-remove from heat and set aside
-grease a 9x9 casserole dish
-mix together bread cubes, mushrooms, spinach, bacon and the cheeses, reserving 1/4 cup to sprinkle on the top
-put bread mixture in dish
-add milk to the eggs, and pour over the bread mixture
-sprinkle 1/4 cup of remaining cheese on top of strata
-bake in a 400 degree oven for 40-45 minutes, until egg is set and top turns golden brown
-let cool, and enjoy!

serves approximately 4 people

this recipe was inspired by a delicious quiche made by my dear friend Maeghan Shellhorn. By turning the quiche into a strata, you save some fat and calories by replacing the buttery crust with whole wheat bread

-use any bread you have handy. don't worry if it is fresh or stale, white or wheat... it all works!
-i used pepper havarti because i had purchased it fresh from the farmers market the day before (thanks to Mayfield Road Creamery), but you can certainly use pepper jack cheese instead or even jack or cheddar or simply use only swiss
-use smaller casserole dishes and portion out individual servings for a classy twist
-mix up your flavors: instead of bacon and mushroom, try ham and broccoli, sausage and asparagus, or 'vegetarian' with summer squash, zucchini, and red pepper
-if you like it spicier, add a few shakes of red pepper flakes in with the beaten eggs
-this recipe can be made up to 24 hours in advance, just pop it in the oven whenever you're ready!
-serve with a colorful fruit salad or green salad to complete the meal

Saturday, July 17, 2010


feeling like eating something a little out of the ordinary dinner routine? this is it! the ingredients are exotic enough to excite your taste buds, but still easy enough to find at your regular grocery store. plus, when you cover vegetables in a delicious spicy, peanutty sauce- nobody can resist eating healthy!

13 oz can of lite coconut milk
6 tbs. red curry paste
3 tbs. peanut butter
1 lime
3 chicken breasts
1 red pepper
1 small yellow squash
1 small zucchini
1 small package of whole white button mushrooms or baby portabellas
1 medium onion
2 cups rice
1 tsp. soy sauce
1/4 tsp. cayenne powder
1/4 cup chopped peanuts
extra virgin olive oil
metal skewers or soaked bamboo skewers

for chicken:
-mix 1/4 cup coconut milk, 1 tbs. peanut butter, 2 tbs. curry paste, 2 tsp. olive oil, and 1/2 lime juice in a large bowl
-cut chicken breasts into 1"-1 1/2" chunks and place in bowl to marinate 30 minutes to 24 hours
-skewer chicken
-grill on foil, 10-15 minutes at about 400 degrees until chicken is done
for veggies:
-cut red pepper, zucchini, squash, and onion all into 1" pieces
-skewer cut veggies and mushrooms, brush with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper
-grill at about 400 degrees until veggies start to get soft and char around the edges, about 10 minutes

for rice:
-place 2 cups white rice with 3 cups of water into a medium sized pot
-bring to a boil
-reduce heat to low/simmer, cover with a tight fitting lid
-cook about 20 minutes until rice is tender
for sauce:
-mix remaining coconut milk, 4 tbs. curry, 2 tbs. peanut butter, 2 tsp. olive oil, cayenne powder, and soy sauce in a small pot over medium low heat until it warms through and thickens a little

-in a large mixing bowl, combine cooked chicken and cooked veggies, and toss with about 1/2-3/4 the sauce to coat
-place cooked rice in a large serving dish, pour chicken and veggies on top to serve family style or place individual servings of rice and chicken/veggies on each plate
-finish off serving dish/individual dishes by pouring on top the juice of the other 1/2 of lime
-serve leftover sauce for those who like it saucier

serves approximately 6 people

this recipe is a combination of 2 recipes from
Clean Eating magazine and Food Network magazine

-try it with a green or yellow curry paste instead
-eggplant, green beans, cauliflower, carrots, white potatoes and sweet potatoes are all great veggies to add to this dish
-don't have a grill or grill pan? roast or saute vegetables and chicken (separately)
-to add some more whole grains into your diet, eat curry with brown rice instead of white. just be sure to realize the cooking time for brown rice is about 40 minutes, opposed to the 20 minute cook time for white rice

Friday, July 16, 2010



These cups are amazing! They are made of a thick, insulated plastic, so your drinks stay cold (or hot) for a super long time, without condensation. The company is amazing too- backing their products with a lifetime warranty. They are true to their word, for on a few occasions, friends and family have sent back broken cups, and they are replaced free of charge. Plus- you can personalize them with initials, names, hobbies, and colors so they make great gifts!

This little gadget is awesome! Since I put extra virgin olive oil on just about everything I cook, this allows me to spray an even, light mist of oil over all the food. No more pools of oil on some spots, and dry food in others! This is great for coating veggies before roasting, spraying on pieces of bread instead of butter, greasing pans and dishes, and tons of other uses! Definitely a good investment to make if you're looking to cut a little bit of fat out of your diet.

Minute 'Ready to Serve' Brown Rice

This is perfect for the healthy eater on the go. Each package comes with 2 individual cups of brown rice, pre-measured and precooked. One quick minute in the microwave and you have delicious and heart healthy whole grain brown rice. Typically, brown rice takes about 45-50 minutes to cook! So, unless you have a lot of time on your hands, this is a quick, tasty way to mix up lunch and dinner. Use it as a side dish with some chopped dried fruits and nuts, serve it under a bed of stir fried veggies, or mix in some chopped tomatoes, shrimp, and sausage and add some spices for a quick jambalaya- the possibilities are endless!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


these cookies won't last long, so you may want to double the recipe! treat you and your loved ones with these little morsels when you're in the mood for something just a little sweet, and just a little salty. with quick prep time and a quick baking time these cookies come out moist and chewy every time- a great staple to keep in your cookie jar!

1/4 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/8 cup white sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups quick cooking oats

-cream together sugars and butters
-mix in egg and vanilla
-add flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt, combine
-mix in oats making sure to scrape down edges of the bowl
-roll dough into walnut sized balls
-place onto a lightly greased (i use Pam) cookie sheet, placing the cookies about 1"-2" apart from each other
-bake in the oven for 10 minutes at 350 degrees
-immediately move the cookies from the cooking sheet to wire cooling racks
-let cool, and enjoy!

makes about 2 dozen cookies

these cookies are dedicated to my mom- she made them for me, now i make them for her!

-try these add ins: raisins, dried cranberries, chopped dried apricots, chocolate chips, your favorite nut, or a combination of these (add only about 1/2 cup total to the mixture)
-to make it a little healthier, use a mashed banana instead to replace some of your butter or mix in some wheat germ with your flour
-10 minutes may not bring you a 'golden brown' cookie, but it will allow the cookies remain soft after baking- so don't overcook!
-simply double the measurements to double the quantity of cookies

Friday, July 9, 2010


time to put a new spin on pizza night! not that there is anything wrong with the traditional pepperoni and cheese pizza, but this colorful masterpiece is a crowd pleaser. the sweet and spicy bbq sauce combined with the verdant flavor of the cilantro simply belong on a crispy, chewy crust. whether this dish only comes out for the big game, or it becomes a friday night staple in your household, keep this delicious recipe handy!

1 prepared fresh pizza dough
1 tbs cornmeal
3 tbs chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish
1 cup BBQ (of your choice)
1 tbs hot sauce (such as Frank's Redhot)
1 chicken breast, cooked and sliced thin
3/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2 tbs parmesan cheese
1/4 of a small red onion, sliced thin

-sprinkle corn meal on a 15x10 inch baking pan
-spread pizza dough out on pan
-mix chopped cilantro with hot sauce and bbq, spread on pizza dough
-sprinkle cheeses on top of pizza, and top with chicken and onions
-place in a 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes until cheese is browned and dough becomes crusty and golden brown
-let cool, sprinkle extra chopped cilantro on pizza
-cut and enjoy!

this pizza recipe is all thanks to my dear friend Dave- the guy who convinced me chicken on a pizza was a fabulous idea!

-you can skip the cornmeal dusting, however it certainly makes the pizza taste and look more like a pizzeria pie
-raw red onions a little too strong for you? try using a raw sweet onion or caramelized onions
-try the pizza with a tangy provolone cheese, smoked mozzarella, or Gouda cheese instead
-for the cilantro haters; use parsley
-lots of grocery stores now sell fresh pizza dough; check in the refrigerated or deli section. try great flavored doughs like spinach, sun dried tomato, whole wheat, olive oil and rosemary, or anything else that sounds good!
-add some health benefits to the pizza and put some veggies on it: chopped spinach, bell peppers, and mushrooms
-sprinkle some crumbled bacon on it, because bacon makes everything better!

Thursday, July 8, 2010


these little meatballs are pulling for double duty. adding ricotta cheese keeps the lean chicken moist, and the spinach helps keep it healthy! not only are they perfect with a toothpick and a creamy cheese sauce for dipping, but they would happily take over your typical spaghetti and meatballs dinner any night! so jazz up your appetizers, these little guys are here to impress!

for meatballs:
1 lb ground chicken
1/4 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
3/4 cup ricotta cheese
1 egg, beaten
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1 tbs. grated parmesan cheese
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

-mix all ingredients together
-form into balls about the size of walnuts
-if mixture becomes too sticky, keep a small bowl of water to dip fingers in, get hands wet, and continue rolling meatballs
-place meatballs in a greased casserole dish
-cook at 375 degrees for 30 minutes, turning the meatballs half way through cooking time
-serve with toothpicks, and enjoy!

for cheese sauce:
1 tbs. butter
1 tbs. flour
1 cup chicken broth, warmed
2 ounces manchego cheese, grated
1 tbs. goat cheese
few shakes of nutmeg

-over medium low heat, melt butter in a pan
-add flour, and continuously stir for about 1 minute
-pour in warm chicken broth and keep stirring for an additional minute
-add cheeses and nutmeg
-stir until cheeses melt
-pour into a dish for dipping and enjoy!

makes approximately 30+ small meatballs

this recipe was inspired by tasty appetizers eaten at The Quarry in Brevard, North Carolina

-use ground turkey instead of chicken
-replace the goat cheese with cream cheese and the manchego with pecorino romano or parmesan
-for a more 'adult' cheese sauce, use half white wine, half chicken broth
-take left over cheese sauce and pour over pasta, add meatballs, and have a delicious dinner! or simply use the meatball recipe to replace your typical beef/pork/veal meatballs for a healthier option!
-if the flour in your cheese sauce becomes lumpy, try adding more butter

-the butter and flour mixture is referred to as a 'roux;' it is the base for most all cream and cheese sauces

Wednesday, July 7, 2010


this dish is a winner on many different levels! you can not only serve a classic mexican meal quickly, but you will impress your dinner guests by adding the unexpected and delicious ingredient: goat cheese. never tried goat cheese? give it a chance! its tangy, creamy texture blends perfectly with the mexican spices and is a great change to sour cream. with only 12 ingredients, you can zip through the grocery store's express lane, get home, and get cooking! assembly time is only about an hour, and you can assemble it hours before you eat it. the recipe is easily doubled to feed larger crowds, and can easily be adapted to suit your mealtime needs!

1 small poblano pepper, 1/4" slices
1 small yellow onion, 1/4" slices
2 clove of garlic, minced
2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded (approx 2-3 cups)
8 oz. goat cheese
1 15 oz. can of refried black beans
lime juice (about 2 tbs.)
handful fresh cilantro, chopped (about 2 tbs.)
6 spinach tortilla shells
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
14 oz. green enchilada sauce or salsa verde
extra virgin olive oil

-put 1 tbs. oil in a large pan over medium heat
-add peppers and onion and cook for approximately 3-4 minutes, until the onions start to get transparent, and peppers start to soften
-add garlic, reduce the temperature to medium-low, and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes
-add 1/4 cup enchilada sauce to the pan, and turn the heat to low
-add chicken to the pan, let it heat up slightly
-add the goat cheese in crumbles, and mix until the cheese melts and evenly coats the chicken
-add lime juice and cilantro
-to make the chicken filling even in each tortilla, divide with your mixing spoon (in the pan) the mixture in half, then in half again, and again, so you have six equal portions
-take one tortilla shell and spread about 1/4 cup of bean mixture evenly on top
-take one portion of the chicken mixture and place it in the middle of the tortilla shell, from top to bottom of the tortilla, keeping the chicken mixture no more than 1.5" wide
-roll up the mixture in the tortilla shell and place in a greased 9"x13" casserole dish seam side down
-continue filling up the additional 5 tortilla shells and place in the casserole dish
-pour enchilada sauce evenly over the 6 tortillas
-sprinkle shredded cheddar on top of enchiladas
-bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes
-let cool and enjoy!

serves approximately 3-4

this recipe was inspired by a meal prepared by chef Bobby Flay on
'Boy Meets Grill'

-save some time! use a store bought rotisserie chicken
-can't find refried black beans? buy a can of regular black beans, wash and drain them, place on a large cutting board or plate, and mash with a potato masher or fork!
-mix it up! try different flavored tortilla shells like red chili, sun dried tomato, whole wheat, or whatever looks good at the store. use traditional red enchilada sauce. use pinto refried beans. try it with shredded pork or beef instead of chicken.
-want to make your enchilada sauce a little more special? add a few cloves of mashed roasted garlic to it! DELICIOUS!! (
Hatch brand enchilada sauce sells a roasted garlic green enchilada sauce i found at Whole Foods Market)
-you can certainly leave off the additional cheddar cheese if you'd like to save some calories, or make the meal vegetarian by replacing the meat with mushrooms, eggplant, spinach, or zucchini- just cut and cook the vegetables like you do the peppers and onions


Looking for a yummy, new side dish to bring to your next picnic? Well, here it is! No need to worry about letting this salad sit out on a buffet, since it's not a mayonnaise covered potato or macaroni salad. The farro and edemame in it are 2 foods high in protein, and low in calories. Plus, this dish is great as a make-ahead meal, since it needs to sit in the fridge and cool down anyways. This light, healthy salad is perfect for your next hot summer meal!

1 lb farro
1 cup edemame, shelled
4 inches of an english cucumber, cut into small cubes
1/2 red bell pepper, cut into small cubes
1/4 cup red onion, diced small
4 oz. crumbled feta cheese
1/4 cup plus 3 tbs red wine vinegar
extra virgin olive oil

-put the farro into a medium sized pot
-fill pot with water, about an inch over the farro
-bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low/simmer and give a quick stir
-cover with a tight fitting lid and cook for 20 minutes
-poor farro into a colander and drain off excess water
-once drained, poor farro into a large mixing bowl
-add 3 tbs of red wine vinegar and 2 tbs olive oil while farro is still hot
-place in fridge for atleast 1/2 hour until mixture is cooled
-once cooled, mix in red pepper, cucumber, edemame, onions, feta, and 1/4 cup vinegar
-season with about 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. ground pepper
-serve cooled, and enjoy!

serves approximately 8-10 people as a side dish

[raw farro grain]

this recipe was inspired from a picture off an advertisement out of a magazine

-mix up the mix-ins: add black beans, carrots, and tomatoes to the items listed above or make it greek style by using kalamata olives, sundried tomatoes, feta, and cucumbers
-make it the day before; just simply add the peppers, cucumbers, edemame, onions, feta, and additional vinegar just before you serve it
-farro should be found by the whole grain section of the grocery store, near the rices or in the organic section
-whole grains: wheatberries, barley, and quinoa and pastas: cous cous or orzo can replace the farro if need be


this recipe is a wonderful go-to flavorful, seasoned chicken recipe to use for salads; to fill fajitas and pot pies; put it in pastas and sandwiches, or simply eat it as a tasty piece of protein! basically- anytime you need cooked chicken for a recipe this is how you can prepare it.

boneless, skinless chicken tenders
seasonings: garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, pepper, season salt (such as Lawrys brand)
extra virgin olive oil

-choose the amount of chicken you need for your recipe (about 4 tenders = one chicken breast)
-prepare it how you need (cube it, slice it thin, leave it whole...)
-evenly season both sides of chicken with a blend of seasonings
-cook chicken with about 1 tsp. olive oil (per breast) in a [preferably] non-stick pan

serves as much as you need

this chicken was the favorite of Miss Catherine Monroe, in which she compared all other chicken around 'her favorite chicken'

-cooking in a non-stick pans allows you to use less oil- aka: it's healthier!
-for asian dishes, add some powdered ginger and coriander
-for latin dishes, add some chile powder and cumin
-if shredding the chicken, cook the breast whole, then shred the chicken by pulling it apart with 2 forks (or your hands if it's cool enough!)