Monday, August 30, 2010


These cookies are one guilty pleasure that you don't have to feel too guilty about! They use no butter (dairy free!) or oil and with the addition of oatmeal and almond butter, they provide fiber and help keep you full. A mashed up banana provides moisture to the cookies, as well as a flavorful sweetness and the dark chocolate chunks add healthy antioxidants to your daily diet. Really, these are so much more than just a cookie... so go ahead- have two.

1 ripe banana
1 cup almond butter, stirred well
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/8 cup white (granulated) sugar
1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 cup flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
4 oz. (or about 1/2 cup) dark chocolate, chopped (preferably 70% cocoa)
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla

-in a large mixing bowl, peel and mash the banana with a fork
-add the almond butter and mix
-add the brown sugar and white sugar, mix
-mix in egg and vanilla, set aside
-in a blender or food processor, blend the oats until they are minced (you do not want to turn the oats into a flour! so don't process too long. this is to give the cookie texture!)
-add to the almond butter mixture the oats, flour, cinnamon, salt, baking soda, and chocolate
-mix until all ingredients are combined (mixture will be moist and sticky!)
-drop rounded tablespoons onto a lightly greased baking sheet or a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (be sure to leave about 1.5"-2" between each cookie, they will spread out!)
-bake in a 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes
-remove from oven, and let cookies cool on the baking sheets for about 5-10 minutes
-remove cookies from baking sheets to a wire cooling rack, and let cool for an additional 10-15 minutes (cookies will still be moist and chewy after they are cooled)
-serve and enjoy!

makes about 2 dozen cookies

These cookies were inspired by an almond butter cookie recipe in Clean Eating Magazine and they were inspired by my blog readers! I received great feedback from my peanut butter oatmeal cookies, and I wanted to do more with sweets for you all!

-Do NOT try to to roll these cookies into balls- the dough is too wet and sticky, it will just become a mess! Drop onto the cookie sheet in even measurements- they will look 'spikey' and lumpy but they will flatten and smooth out as they cook.
-For easy and even measuring, try a cookie scoop!
-You can use white or wheat flour and/or dark or milk chocolate (good dark chocolate is made without milk, therefore dairy-free! But always check the label to be sure).
-You can use chocolate chips instead of chopping your own- but chopping your own adds great texture!
-If you have quick cooking oats on hand, go ahead- use those instead of old fashion style.
-Mix in some wheat germ and flaxseed for added health benefits.
-Try the cookies with raisins or dried cranberries instead of chocolate.
-You may want to keep these cookies stored in the fridge since they are so soft and moist.
-Can't find almond butter? Make your own! In a food processor, place 1 1/2 cups roasted almonds, 1 1/2 tbs vegetable oil, and 1/3 tsp salt and grind until smooth (adding more oil if necessary). Store in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator.

Oatmeal IS gluten free, however- it is often processed with the same equipment as wheat. So, if you are looking to eat a gluten free diet, these cookies should be okay for you (instead of using 1/2 cup white or wheat flour, replace with oat flour or other gluten free flour). HOWEVER if you are a celiac (allergic to flour), make sure you are using completely gluten free oats and flours.
[I am not a doctor- so if you're concerned about your gluten intake, consult a doctor!]

Saturday, August 28, 2010


It's tomato season! And if you're like me, you can't pass up a ripe, juicy looking tomato, let alone the rest of the farmer's market stand... and this is the perfect recipe to use up all those fresh purchases! This cold, chunky soup tastes like summer in a bowl, utilizing the bounties of the farm (or your garden!). It's the perfect cool replacement for a dinner salad or serve it as a no-cook dinner one hot evening. So incorporate some more veggies into your diet- there is no better opportunity that eating this gazpacho!

1 english cucumber
3 large tomatoes
1 small sweet onion
1 red, yellow, or green bell pepper: stem, seeds, and ribs removed
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups vegetable juice
2 tbs. white vinegar
3 tbs. red wine vinegar
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. ground pepper
1-2 tbs. hot sauce (such as Frank's or Tabasco)
1 tbs. extra virgin olive oil

-remove seeds from the tomatoes and cut into 1/4 inch square pieces
-cut cucumber, bell pepper, and onion into 1/4 square pieces
-place cut vegetables into a large bowl
-mix in minced garlic
-pour in vegetable juice, vinegars, olive oil, and hot sauce
-season with salt and pepper
-serve chilled, and enjoy!

serves approximately 5-6

This recipe was developed for my mom, a lover of gazpacho!

-Add in fresh herbs such as parsley, chives, cilantro, dill, tarragon, and basil.
-Serve with a few homemade (or store bought...!) croutons on top!
-Spice it up more with a diced jalapeno!
-Use a red, green, or yellow bell pepper, or a combination of all 3! total: about 1 cup chopped pepper.
-Give it a boost of protein and add some cooked chopped shrimp or crab or a cupful of garbanzo beans!
-Sweeten it up with some chopped mango or watermelon, using orange juice instead of vegetable juice.
-Skip the vegetable juice, and make it into a salsa.
-Try mixing in some crumbled feta cheese or chunks of fresh mozzarella.
-If you don't want it spicy, leave out the hot sauce! Or if you want it spicier, add a tablespoon or two more!
-Don't want it so chunky? Put the 'soup' in a blender or food processor and give it a few pulses- viola! Smooth gazpacho.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Think you know what to expect with a taco? Think again! Anybody can open a package of taco seasonings, but why bother when you can mix up the seasonings yourself? YOU now control the quality of ingredients in your meal. Think tacos mean "beef"? With these fresh seasonings you won't even know you're eating healthy, lean turkey! Do your hard tacos fall apart too easily? Wrap it in a soft taco, and keep the ingredients IN the shell, instead of on your plate! I do believe it's time to re-think tacos, and try my soft crunch turkey tacos! The zesty ranch sauce will make you a believer for sure!

for meat:

1 lb ground turkey
1 cup chicken broth
1 tbs chili powder
1 tbs coriander
1 tbs cumin
2 tsp paprika
1 1/2 tsp seasoned salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/8 cup hot sauce
extra virgin olive oil

for tacos:
10-12 hard tacos
10-12 soft tacos
2 cups shredded lettuce or fresh spinach
1 cup diced tomatoes
3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese

for sauce:
1/4 ripe avocado
3 tbs ranch dressing
2 tsp hot sauce
1 tsp lime juice

for meat:
-over medium heat, add about 1 tbs olive oil, and brown turkey meat
-add additional ingredients, stir to coat, and cook on medium-low heat until liquid is reduced and thick

for sauce:
-mash the avocado until smooth
-add additional ingredients and stir until smooth

for tacos:
-keep tacos warm in a 200 degree oven until ready to eat
-place about a tsp or 2 of ranch sauce on the soft taco as 'glue'
-take the hard taco, place in the middle of the soft taco, and cover the hard taco with the soft taco
-fill the taco with meat and toppings, drizzle on additional ranch sauce

This is a homemade version of a Taco Bell's 'cheesy gordita crunch'- only WAY better, and WAY healthier!

-Use regular refried beans or refried black beans as the 'glue' between the tacos.
-You can use only a soft or only a hard taco instead of both, but the soft taco outside creates great texture, and helps keep the hard taco shell from breaking and making a mess!
-Skip the carbs: use 1 hard shell taco and line the inside with a large piece of iceburg or romain lettuce- perfect juice and filling catcher!
-Use whatever toppings you like on a taco: black olives, rice, guacamole...
-You can use ground beef or chicken instead of the turkey, or try it with shrimp or flank steak too!
-Don't have an avocado and/or lime juice? Just make the ranch sauce without it- still delicious!
-Skip all the hot sauce if you'd like to make it less spicy.
-Make it ahead of time! You can cook and season the meat and cut the lettuce and tomatoes up to a day in advance. You can make the sauce in advance too, but hold off adding the avocado until close to eating time; it may brown in the sauce.
-Try mixing in some frozen (or fresh, if you have it!) corn kernels (about 1/2 cup) into the meat mixture for added texture and vitamins.

Friday, August 20, 2010


Traditional chicken picatta is tasty and tender because it's covered in butter! Well, it was time to replace fat with flavor, so I reduced the butter, added garlic, and thickened the sauce to make this classic dish just as tasty as the original but friendlier to your waist line!

5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or 10 thin chicken cutlets)
1 cup flour plus 1 tbs
1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs
extra virgin olive oil
2 lemons, juiced
1 tbs. butter
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tbs. capers
2 tbs. chicken broth
salt and pepper

-if you are using chicken breasts, cut then lengthwise in half, so you have 2 thin cutlets or pound out the chicken breast until it is approximately 1/4"-1/2" thick, and cut into 2 equal pieces
-in a large flat bowl, mix 1 cup flour and breadcrumbs together with a pinch of salt and pepper to season
-once you have your cutlets ready, cover the chicken with the flour mixture, shake off excess and set aside
-in a large pan over medium-high heat, add 1 tbs olive oil
-once the oil is heated, place the cutlets in the pan (do not over crowd! do it in batches!)
-cook on each side for approximately 2-3 minutes or until golden brown (do not overcook, the cutlets are thin, and do not take long to cook)
-remove from pan when cooked through, keep in a low oven (200 degrees) in a casserole dish to keep warm while you finish cooking the rest of the chicken/meal
-when all the chicken is done cooking, reduce heat to medium low, melt 1 tbs butter with 1 tsp olive oil in the pan and add the garlic, cook for about 2-3 minutes
-whisk in 1 tbs flour, and cook for about 2 minutes while continually whisking
-add lemon juice and chicken broth, and whisk until smooth
-stir in capers, pour sauce over chicken before serving
-serve and enjoy!

serves 5

This recipe was developed as a healthier version of an italian classic.

-Try using the picatta sauce on top of a mild white fish, thin pork chops, or turkey and veal cutlets.
-Leftovers? Chop up the chicken, add some roasted veggies, and pour the extra picatta sauce on top of rice, cous cous, or orzo pasta.
-Want it dairy free? Skip the butter and use olive oil in its place.
-Make your own seasoned bread crumbs by adding some or all of these seasonings to plain breadcrumbs, 1/4 tsp each: garlic powder, onion powder, pepper, paprika, dried basil, dried oregano.
-Capers are optional; or give them a try in small amounts! Reduce the amount to 1 tbs, chop the capers into small pieces, then add them to the sauce.
-Serve the chicken with additional lemon wedges to add color to your plate and to add an extra fresh squirt of lemon juice before eating.
-Mix up the flavor by adding some chopped sundried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, mushrooms, or chopped spinach to the picatta sauce.
-Try out a whole meal! Complete the picatta with my mushroom risotto and roasted broccoli.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


You can call risotto a magic dish if you'd like... taking a common, cheap ingredient like rice and turning it into something delectably creamy and satisfying. It's fantastic as a side dish and impressive enough to serve as a main dish. The hearty, earthiness of the mushrooms hold up well to the smooth, velvety texture of the risotto and the slow cooking ensures infusion of flavor to every piece of rice. This dish may not be prepared in an instant, but most things worth waiting for aren't either!

1 1/4 cups chopped baby portabella mushrooms
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup yellow onion, small diced
2 cups arborio rice or other white, short grained rice
1/2 cup white wine
6-7 cups chicken broth, kept warm over low heat on a back burner
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste
extra virgin olive oil

-in a large pot, cook mushrooms over medium high heat in 1 tbs olive oil
-after about 10 minutes, or when mushrooms start to brown, season with a pinch of salt, remove mushrooms from heat, and place in a bowl to the side
-in the same pot, add garlic and onion into 1 tbs olive oil, and cook for about 3 minutes on medium low heat
-add the rice, and cook for an additional 1 minute
-reduce heat to low, and stir in wine
-continually stir until wine is absorbed
-gradually stir in warm chicken broth, about 1 cup at a time, cooking and stirring continually until liquid is absorbed, before adding the next 1 cup
-once broth is gone and/or the rice is tender to the bite and creamy looking, remove from heat
-stir in mushrooms and cheese, add a sprinkle of salt and pepper to taste
-place in a serving dish, and enjoy!

serves 4-6

I'm a lover of risotto, and this recipe came about when i discovered a new love for mushrooms.

-Try mixing in bite size pieces of cooked veggies like asparagus, zucchini, spinach, and peas into the risotto.
-You don't have to be glued to the stove, stirring every second of the dish's preparation, but do stir it often.
-You can always skip the wine and use water or broth instead.
-Hold off on the cheese to make the risotto dairy free and try substituting the flavor with something like a few cloves of roasted garlic or a tablespoon or two of fresh herbs and an extra pinch of salt.
-Leftovers? Make a risotto cake! shape rice into a patty, add a tsp of olive oil to a pan, and cook over medium heat on each side until it starts to brown. Delicious with an over-easy or sunny-side-up egg and some spinach or arugula on top!

Creamy rice with no cream?? How??
-short grained rice contains more starch than long grain rices
-toasting the risotto seals in the starches of the rice
-adding broth slowly to the rice and stirring constantly creates friction and allows the rice to slowly release its starches, thus becoming creamy
Why does the broth have to be warm?
-adding cool liquid to the rice would stop the cooking process, thus making the rice take longer to cook since it needs to constantly keep warming up!

Saturday, August 14, 2010


scared of cooking, or maybe even eating, fish? well worry no more! here is an effortless and exquisite recipe transforming a mild white fish into a flavorful meal. the marinade of lemon and lime juices contrast the sweet honey, and pulls double duty as it flavors the fish and the avocado salsa. combine the quick cooking time, the healthful benefits, and colorful presentation and this recipe is a star!

4 tilapia fillets
lemon pepper

for marinade:
3 tbs lemon juice
3 tbs lime juice
3 tbs honey
1.5 tbs creamy dijon mustard

for salsa:
1 ripe avocado, seed and skin removed, cut into small cubes
1 tbs lime juice
2 tsp cilantro, chopped
1 jalapeno or other small hot pepper, small diced
1/2 tsp salt

for fish:
-whisk marinade ingredients together
-place fish in a large dish in a single layer
-pour marinade over fish, let sit in fridge and marinate for 1 hour (or up to 3 hours)
-cover a baking sheet with foil, spray with cooking spray
-remove fish from marinade and place in a single layer on sheet (do NOT throw away marinade!)
-season fish with lemon pepper
-set oven to broil, and cook fish for 10-12 minutes (leave oven door slightly open when broiling) until fish is opaque and flakes with a fork

for avocado salsa:
-while fish is cooking:
-place leftover marinade in a small sauce pan, and bring to a slow boil over medium heat
-when marinade reduces (becomes thick), about 10-15 minutes, turn off heat
-in a medium sized bowl, place avocado cubes, lime juice, cilantro, jalapeno, and salt, pour marinade reduction over avocado mixture, and stir to coat
-serve over cooked fish

serves 4

this recipe was put together as a quick weeknight dinner, adapting an old honey-lemon fish recipe.

-you can cook the fish on an outdoor grill as well! just be sure to put down foil under the fish to avoid tearing the fish when transferring
-don't have lemon pepper? sprinkle fish with salt, pepper, and finely grated lemon zest
-try the recipe with mahi mahi, haddock, swordfish or other mild white fish, just adjust the cooking temperature a bit if the fish is thicker (cook it a few minutes longer)
-mix it up and try the marinade and salsa ontop of chicken!

Friday, August 13, 2010



Flexible Cutting Boards

These things are great! They are super thin so they take up almost zero space, they are sturdy enough for even the sharpest knives, and they bend and flex so you can easily transport and pour food into bowls, plates, pots, and pans! Since they are plastic, they won't dull your knifes and they can be cleaned in the dishwasher. Lastly, the different colors allow you safely cook and cut without cross contamination, for example: blue is for fish and seafood, red is for meat, and yellow is for fruits and vegetables, etc... (Remember to never reuse a cutting board for meat or food that was used for raw meats! Make sure to get a clean cutting board, or wash the previously used one with soap and water!)

Microplane Zester/Grater

By far one of my favorite kitchen tools. It takes fine grating and zesting to a whole new level! I use it for zesting citrus, grating ginger root, mincing garlic into a paste, finely grate parmesan cheese, carrots, zucchini, chocolate and more!

Nalgene Water Bottle

This item doesn't have much to do with cooking, but it IS important to hydrate! I keep a nalgene full of water in the fridge to quickly have access to a cold beverage. I don't have to worry about a cup, I don't have to worry about ice, and I don't have to worry about making more trash in our world! If you have something like this available in the fridge, you will be more inclined to drink the water than grab a 'convenient' can of pop or bottle of juice. These bottles are BPA free and easy to travel with. So do your part for the earth and stop using non-reusable water bottles and help out your body too by drinking more water!

Thursday, August 12, 2010


get stuffed with these peppers- you won't be sorry! the simplicity of the mildly spicy pepper, tender meat filling, and the sweet cheese topping is a delectable mix. this recipe will become a favorite for all seasons, weather, and occasions!

8 medium-large banana peppers
1/2 lb ground pork
1/2 lb ground veal
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 small onion, small diced (about 1/2 cup)
6 oz can tomato paste
1 cup water
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
2 tbs parmesan cheese
tsp fresh basil, chopped
tsp fresh oregano, chopped
8 oz (1 cup) ricotta cheese
1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese
extra virgin olive oil

-in a large pan over medium-low heat, warm 2 tsp olive oil and add garlic and onion
-cook for about 7-10 minutes until garlic and onions are soft and transparent
-add pork and veal, and continue cooking until meat is cooked through, about 10-15 minutes
-drain grease from meat mixture
-add tomato paste and 1 cup of water, stir until meat is coated
-season mixture with salt, pepper, sugar, pepper flakes, parmesan cheese, basil, and oregano
-cut off the stems of the peppers and insert a knife into the peppers to remove the seeds and ribs -cut the peppers lengthwise on one side, so it opens like an envelope (do NOT cut peppers in half!)
-working through the cut in the pepper, remove any additional seeds and ribs
-open up a pepper, and fill it with about 1/2 cup of the meat mixture
-continue with each additional pepper, placing them in a 9”x13” casserole dish
-cover each stuffed pepper with 2 tbs each ricotta cheese
-sprinkle about 1 tbs of mozzarella cheese on top of each pepper
-place in a 375 degree oven for approximately 30 minutes, or until stuffing is hot and bubbly, and cheese just starts to brown
-let cool, serve, and enjoy!

serves approximately 4

these peppers were inspired by a fabulous version of stuffed banana peppers i had from Beau’s Grill in fairlawn, ohio

-instead of the pork/veal meat, you can use: 1 lb ‘meatloaf mix’ (combo of ground pork,veal, and beef), 1 lb ground italian sausage (sweet or spicy), or 1 lb of pork, veal, OR beef. to lighten up the dish- try it with ground chicken or turkey!
-cubanelle peppers are a great substitute for banana peppers, and they’re generally milder too (use cubanelles and skip the red pepper flakes for a non-spicy version)
-make it dairy free: skip the cheeses, and add a breadcrumb gremolita instead!
(for gremolita: mix 1/2 cup seasoned breadcrumbs, 1 tbs olive oil, 1/2 tsp chopped basil, and 1/2 tsp chopped oregano and sprinkle 1 tbs of mixture on each pepper. bake as normal.)
-for a cow’s milk free meal, try: sheep’s milk ricotta, buffalo mozzarella, and [sheep’s milk] manchego cheese
-make it in advance; make it up to 24 hours before you need to eat it!
-leftovers? chop up the pepper and filling and put it over pasta or polenta- yum!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


ditch the canned green beans, and go fresh! this recipe uses flavor instead of fat to make vegetables tasty. the combination of steaming and sauteing leaves you with tender, not soggy, beans and the addition of the tart lemon juice and the salty parmesan makes even healthiest of foods a family favorite.

1 lb fresh green beans, rinsed and ends trimmed
½ cup water
tbs lemon juice
1 tsp lemon pepper
1 tbs parmesan cheese
extra virgin olive oil

-put beans and water in a medium sized pan
-cover and cook over medium high heat for about 10 minutes (until beans are just tender)
-add 2 tsp olive oil into the pan over the beans, toss to coat
-cook for an additional 5-7 minutes stirring the beans occasionally
-beans should start to brown and shrink/shrivel slightly around the edges
-turn off heat and add lemon juice, lemon pepper, and cheese, toss to coat
-serve as a side dish, enjoy!

after years of steaming, salting and buttering green beans i decided to kick 'em up! and the addition of lemon juice and parmesan makes just about anything taste good.

-try this recipe with asparagus instead of green beans
-leave out the cheese if you'd like to make it dairy free, you just may want to add a sprinkle of salt instead
-the combination of lemon juice, lemon pepper, and parmesan cheese is great atop vegetables when roasting them in the oven or on the grill too!

Monday, August 9, 2010


time to take a mini vacation down south with this dish! my quick jambalaya recipe is the perfect one pot, weeknight dinner consisting of fresh vegetables and lite meats mixed into a bed of tangy spiced rice. once you see how easy it is to create your own creole favorite, you won't be purchasing the pre-made box mix anymore! you can better control the intake of sodium and preservatives with this recipe, as well as control good taste! so try this one out, and put on the easy going attitude of New Orleans while you're at it too!

1 green bell pepper, cut into 1/2"-1" pieces
1 small yellow or white onion, cut into 1/2"-1" pieces
1/3 cup celery, chopped into 1/4" pieces
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 14oz. can diced tomatoes
2 cooked chicken breast, cut into 1" cubes (try my 'Catherine's Favorite Chicken' recipe)
1 lb smoked sausage (I use Hillshire Farm Lite brand), cut into 1/4" half-moon shapes
1 1/2 cups uncooked white rice
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
2 tsp chili powder
1 ts. paprika
1/4 tsp cumin
1/8-1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional, depending on how hot you like it!)
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp salt
extra virgin olive oil

-warm 1 tbs. olive oil in a large pan (with about 3" high sides) on medium heat
-add peppers and onions to pan, stir to coat oil
-cook for 5-7 minutes, until peppers and onions start to brown slightly
-reduce heat to medium-low, add garlic and celery, cook for an additional 3 minutes
-set pepper and onion mix aside
(-if you need to cook the chicken do it now, and use the same pan. remove the pepper mixture, and add raw, seasoned 1" chunks of chicken into pan with about 2 tsp of olive oil. cook about 5 minutes on medium heat, until chicken is cooked through. set aside with the pepper mixture, and continue on)
-in the same pan, on medium heat, add 1 tsp. olive oil and sausage
-cook until sausage starts to get crispy, about 5-7 minutes
-reduce heat to low/simmer
-add to the pan the pepper and onion mix, chicken, tomatoes, rice, and broth
-add chili powder, paprika, cayenne, salt, and pepper, and stir
-cover the pan with a tight fitting lid
-cook on low for about 25 minutes until rice is cooked, and liquid is absorbed

serves approximately 4

this recipe came about when i decided to stop using the boxed jambalaya mixes, and created my own

-you can use water, beef broth, or vegetable broth instead of chicken broth
-make it creole style by adding some shrimp and/or lump crab meat 7-10 minutes before it's done cooking
-make it cajun style by skipping the tomatoes; just make sure you add an extra 1/2 cup broth to the pot
-to increase your whole grain intake, try it with brown rice. combine the broth, brown rice, and tomatoes in a separate medium sized pot, bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and let cook for 50 minutes. cook the veggies and meat separate, and add everything together when the rice is done cooking
-you can use whatever color bell pepper you have on hand! red, yellow, or green!
-try it vegetarian with tofu products and add more veggies such as zucchini, squash, and chopped spinach
-try it with a can of diced fire roasted tomatoes!
-if you choose to use fresh tomatoes instead of canned, you will also need to add some more broth (about 1/4-1/2 cup, depending on how juicy your tomatoes are)

-the combination of green bell peppers, onions, and celery is called the "trinity' in cajun cooking. these 3 foods are the base seasonings in many cajun dishes such as gumbo, stews, chilis, and jambalaya!
-the difference between gumbo and jambalaya? jambalaya is generally more of a casserole dish, with all ingredients cooked with the rice. gumbo is more of a hearty stew poured over rice, and usually takes much longer to cook. however, they both include the trinity and similar spices, vegetables, and meats.

Saturday, August 7, 2010


getting tired of boring steamed broccoli? well it's time to get out of that rut and get roasting! this super tasty recipe is quite successful when it comes to getting people to eat their vegetables. the roasting brings out a nutty flavor in the broccoli with just a hint of garlic. so next time the dreaded broccoli is on the menu- try roasting it; you might be surprised when the family is asking for seconds!

1 head/package of baby broccoli (or regular broccoli)
1 garlic clove, minced
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

-wash and trim a head of baby broccoli
-drizzle about 1 1/2 tbs. olive oil over broccoli
-sprinkle on garlic, and season generously with salt and pepper
-toss broccoli to coat evenly
-place on a baking sheet in a single layer
-cook at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes, turning the broccoli halfway through the cooking
-broccoli should brown and slightly crisp around the edges, but not burn
-you can test the tenderness of the broccoli by sliding a knife into the stem of the broccoli floret, if it slides in easily- it's done!

serves about 4 as a side dish... it looks like a lot, but the broccoli shrinks when cooked!

this recipe was discovered through another food blog from years ago. i'm a veggie lover, so it's easy for me to eat lots, but i knew this recipe was a winner when my family was fighting over who gets the last piece of broccoli!

-use most any vegetable with this method: zucchini, asparagus, squash, cauliflower, mushrooms, or carrots
-you can also use garlic powder instead of fresh garlic
-try adding some lemon zest and a splash of lemon juice on top of the veggies when the dish is done cooking, and toss to coat
-parmesan cheese is also a GREAT addition to just about any vegetable dish
-instead of using it as a side dish, chop it up and add it to pasta and rice dishes!
-put a layer of foil on your baking sheet and cook the veggies on top; it makes clean up easier!

Thursday, August 5, 2010


the summer heat is not only good for pool playtime, but it's great for this salad! the hot sun allows these ingredients to fill the produce section of grocery stores and the rows in your garden. the variety of vegetables hit many tastes and textures, including crunchy, salty, spicy, creamy, and fresh. so keep the heat out of your kitchen and whip up this cool salad- no 'cooking' required!

1/2 cup diced heirloom tomatoes
1 small cucumber, diced (about 1 cup)
1/2 cup diced fresh mozzarella
1 small cubanelle pepper, diced (about 1/2 cup)
1 turnip, peeled and diced
1/4 cup kalamata olives, chopped
1 1/2 tbs diced sweet onion
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tbs red wine vinegar
1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

-mix all ingredients together

this salad was inspired by a counter covered with fresh vegetables from my local farmers' market and some tasty veggies from my good friend Christy Rosneck's garden

-try it on top of a salad, top a piece of toasted bread or crackers, or over orzo pasta, quinoa, farro, or any other small whole grain or pasta
-let it sit. it tastes great upon the first minutes of making, but it tastes better after all the flavors have had time to mix and marry
-add some chickpeas, black beans or cannellini beans for additional protein
-if you can't find a turnip, try a peppery radish
-if you don't have or like ALL of these veggies, feel free to leave one or two of them out of the salad! it won't destroy the recipe, i promise!

Monday, August 2, 2010


this is a mexican classic that everybody should know how to make! it's a simple, refreshing, and healthy treat that can be snacked on with tortilla chips, spread into tacos and fajitas, or dolloped on top of chilies and soups! a ripe avocado fruit when gently mashed becomes creamy and buttery- therefore the tang of some lemon and lime juice and a sharp sprinkle of salt makes a perfect evenness of flavors. so i suggest, as well as many health specialists, to utilize this recipe and get the most out of this super food!

1 ripe hass avocado (the dark green/black, bumpy looking kind)
1 small tomato, seeds removed and chopped
2 tsp small diced red onion
2 tsp lime juice
2 tsp lemon juice
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder (or 1 small fresh garlic clove, minced)
1 tsp fresh cilantro, chopped

-slice the avocado in half, remove pit, and use a spoon to scoop out the avocado fruit
-place the fruit into a medium sized mixing bowl, and mash with a fork (mash it as smooth or as chunky as you prefer)
-add tomato, onion, juices, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and cilantro and mix to combine
my version of a classic.. delicious with tortilla chips, in fajitas, or on top of enchiladas. can't go wrong!

-try mixing in add-ins like blue cheese, black beans, or bacon
-a ripe avocado should slightly give when pressed lightly with your finger
-if the avocado is not ripe when you buy it, ripen it on the counter for a few days, or you can ripen it quicker if you place it in a brown bag with an apple, banana, or tomato to speed up the process
-you can certainly leave out tomatoes, onions, or cilantro if you'd like, or if you don't have them on hand. it'll just then be a delicious, simpler version of my guac!
-spread the guacamole on a piece of sandwich bread instead of mayonnaise
-to learn how to easily cut an avocado, check this out!

-why keep it with fruit? because the ethylene gas released from the fruit helps to quickly ripen the avocado
-if your avocado is ripe before you are ready to use it, keep it in the fridge to stop it from going bad (but eat it soon! the fridge can only keep it from going bad for a few days)
-besides being tasty- eating an avocado can help lower cholesterol, prevent strokes, provide breast and prostate cancer prevention, enhance memory, keep your heart healthy, and help your body better absorb certain nutrients
-eat in moderation! though high in monosaturated fat ('good fat'), beware of calories. 1/2 of an avocado (roughly 170 calories) is a good daily amount to intake; providing you 3 grams of protein and 8 grams of fiber