Monday, October 25, 2010


Looking for a tasty, new side dish to replace your go-to mash potatoes? Well don't look too far, because the answer is right here: mashed SWEET potatoes! This bright orange dish gives you the comforting feeling found in mashed potatoes but offers you complex carbohydrates, vitamin C and B6, dietary fiber, and beta carotene. So add a little color to a traditional favorite and try my easy mashed sweet potatoes!

1 sweet potato
salt and pepper to taste (optional)
chicken broth or milk (optional)
extra virgin olive oil or butter (optional)

-peel skin off sweet potato
-cut potato into 1/2" pieces
-place into a small pot, and cover with water (about 1" above the potatoes)
-boil potatoes over medium high heat for about 20 minutes, until potatoes are fork tender
-drain potatoes and place them back into the pot
-with a fork or potato masher, mash the potato until desired consistency
-if potatoes are too thick, thin out with a little bit of chicken broth or milk
-add richness with a splash of olive oil or a pad of butter
-add a small pinch of salt and pepper to your preferred taste
-serve as a side dish, enjoy!

1 potato makes one serving

This one goes out to my dad, who introduced me to cooking sweet potatoes 'low and slow.'

-This recipe works for yams and/or sweet potatoes.
-To make it a sweet treat, skip the salt and pepper and sprinkle on some cinnamon, brown sugar, baby marshmallows!
-Give the potatoes a sweet and smokey taste by drizzling them with honey and sprinkling them with paprika and cumin.
-Try mashed sweet potatoes on top of a shepherd's pie instead of traditional baking potatoes.
-Mix in some roasted and mashed butternut or acorn squash or pumpkin with the sweet potatoes.
-A few slices of a mashed banana will give the sweet potatoes added sweetness without adding sugar!

-What's the difference between yams and sweet potatoes?
"What is marketed in the United States as “yams” are really a variety of sweet potato, grown in the South. A true yam is a starchy edible root of the Dioscorea genus, and is generally imported to America from the Caribbean. It is rough and scaly and very low in beta carotene.
Yams in the United States are actually sweet potatoes with relatively moist texture and orange flesh. Although the terms are generally used interchangeably, the US Department of Agriculture requires that the label "yam" always be accompanied by "sweet potato."
from: The North Carolina SweetPotato Commission

true yam

clockwise from top left:
yellow-fleshed yam, boniato,
white-fleshed yam, sweet potato

Monday, October 18, 2010


The cool autumn weather is here, and that means it's time to start indulging into some warm comfort food! This decadent vegetarian dish is so hearty, you won't even miss the meat! Nutty roasted broccoli combined with the slightly sweet taste of the butternut squash is paired perfectly with creamy, savory brie. Serve it as a main dish or a side dish, and win over the hearts, and stomachs, of all.

1 lb of butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1/4" cubes
1 head of broccoli, cut into bite sized florets
1/2 small onion, small diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups farro
7-8 oz. of brie, cut into 1/2" cubes
1/2 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained/squeezed of moisture
2 tbs. parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
extra virgin olive oil

-toss cubed squash and broccoli florets in about 2 tbs. olive oil
-salt and pepper the vegetables, toss to coat
-place the vegetables on a baking sheet in a single layer and cook for 20-25 minutes in a 400 degree oven, until vegetables start to brown
-meanwhile, put the farro in a large pot, cover with water (about 1 inch above the farro)
-bring farro water to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to low, cook for 20 minutes, drain
-in a medium sized skillet, saute the garlic and onions in 1/2 tbs. olive oil over medium-low heat
-after 15-2o minutes of sauteing the garlic and onions, add the chicken broth and brie
-keep temperature low, allow brie to start to melt
-put farro back in cooking pot
-add broth and cheese mixture, roasted vegetables, spinach, and parmesan to the farro
-stir until farro is completely coated with cheese
-serve with a sprinkle of cayenne pepper for a little added heat, or paprika for no heat

serves 4 as a main dish

I created and perfected this meal after a beautiful autumn weekend in Brevard, North Carolina, when the butternut squash was bountiful!

-Delicious for a main dish, and perfect for a side dish as well.
-Pour into a casserole dish, refrigerate, and warm in the oven for eating later (easy to take to your next pot-luck dinner too!).
-You may need to roast the vegetables using 2 baking sheets if it won't all fit onto one large one.
-If you buy a whole butternut squash, cut off both ends, peel away the thick skin (until you see a bright orange color!), scoop out seeds (like a pumpkin), and then cube. HOWEVER a lot of grocery stores now sell already peeled, seeded, and cut fresh butternut squash in their produce section- so take the shortcut if you can! You will just have to cut it down to the 1/4" pieces.
-Want to boost the protein level? Add some cubed cooked chicken or a can of drained and rinsed cannellini beans.
-If you do buy a whole squash, save the seeds! Separate them from the strings and bits of squash, rinse and dry, toss with a little bit of olive oil, salt, and pepper, and place on a baking sheet. Cook at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes (like you would pumpkin seeds). Use them to garnish your farro, or just eat them as a tasty snack!
-You can use ALL of the brie, even the powdery-white outside; no need to cut it off!
-Can’t find brie? Try melting in 7-8 oz. of cream cheese, goat cheese, or camembert
-I have also used goat's milk brie before- just as tasty!
-If you simply can't find a butternut squash, try the recipe with a yellow summer squash, a zucchini, or even a sweet potato!
-Leftovers? Mold them into 'cakes' and pan fry, serve with an egg for breakfast
-Can't find farro? Toss with some orzo, Israeli cous cous, brown rice, or pasta!

[whole butternut squash]

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Of the million ways to prepare a potato, this is one of the easiest and tastiest! The combination of potato, zucchini, and onion crisped up in a light oil creates tons of satisfying flavor. Plus, when is the last time you made one potato feed a family of 4? Try this tasty 'pancake' as a side dish with breakfast, lunch, or dinner tonight!

1 medium-large baking potato
1/2 medium zucchini
1 small yellow onion
1 egg
1/4 cup of dry biscuit/pancake mix
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
canola/vegetable oil
extra virgin olive oil
condiments for serving

-wash and peel the potato
-using a box grater or grater attachment on a food processor, shred the potato, onion, and zucchini
-transfer shreddings into a large mixing bowl
-add beaten egg, biscuit mix, garlic powder, salt and pepper, mix until combined
-place 1/2 tbs. of olive oil and 1/2 tbs. canola or vegetable oil in a large skillet, warm over medium heat
-when oil is hot, pour 1/4 cup of the pancake into the skillet
-create 1/4" thick pancakes, pressing the mixture flat to the desired thickness
-when latke becomes brown, flip and brown the other side (about 10 minutes total)
-let cool, serve with desired condiments, and enjoy!

makes approximately 8 pancakes (serves 4 people as a side dish)

A quick, simple version of this world-wide favorite! Made them for the Shellhorns- and had rave reviews!

-Try the latkes with a side of applesauce to dip them in! They also would be great with jam, sour cream, or ketchup.
-You can certainly leave out the zucchini or onion, or shred in other veggies and foods such as carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, green onions, garlic, and/or cheese.
-Double the recipe to make it for a larger crowd.
-You can use all purpose flour instead of the biscuit mix if you'd like.
-Leftovers? Reheat and serve with a fried egg on top for breakfast!
-Make ahead, refrigerate or freeze, and warm again in the oven or on the stove top.
-Make them spicy by adding some red pepper flakes or diced jalapenos.

-potato pancake: also known as a latke
-Mixing the oils allows you to shallow fry the pancakes without worrying about the oil burning (Olive oil has a lower smoke point than the lighter oils. By mixing them, you bring up the olive oil's temperature).

Saturday, October 9, 2010


If you love corn bread muffins, then you'll love these: cubanelle peppers stuffed with healthy vegetables, fiery jalapenos, and moist corn bread- the perfect side dish! The sweet corn balances out the spicy peppers and the added mushrooms and spinach add delicious texture to the light fluffy corn mix. The only thing better than fresh corn bread is having an edible carrier for it!

2 large or 3 medium sized cubanelle peppers
1 box of corn muffin mix (I used Jiffy brand)
(mix needs: 1 egg and 1/3 cup milk )
3-4 button mushroom caps, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/3 cup corn
1/4 cup frozen spinach, thawed and additional moisture squeezed/drained out
1/3 cup cheddar cheese
1 jalapeno, minced
extra virgin olive oil

-saute mushrooms and garlic in 1 tsp. olive oil, over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes, add corn, set aside
-mix corn muffin mixture with egg and milk (or with whatever your brand calls for)
-add to the muffin mix the mushroom and corn mixture, spinach, cheese, and jalapenos
-cut the cubanelle peppers in half lengthwise
-fill the pepper halves with the muffin mixture (about 1/3-1/2 cup of mixture per pepper) and place in a casserole dish
-bake in a 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, until corn muffin mixture is set
-let cool, serve, and enjoy!

serves 4 as a side dish

This recipe was inspired by a recipe on Robin Miller's Quick Fix Meals on Food Network.

-Instead of cubanelle peppers, try poblanos!
-Use whatever corn muffin mix you would like... you will need about 6 muffin sized servings. The egg and 1/3 cup milk was what was needed for my muffin mix. Replace it with whatever your muffin mix needs!
-Make it dairy free: skip the cheese and use water, broth, or soy milk with the muffin mix.
-You can use canned jalapenos or even canned green chiles.
-Add some extra protein by adding a couple of tablespoons of black or pinto beans into the mix.
-Use fresh, frozen, or canned corn.
-Be careful when working with hot peppers... always wash your hands with soap immediately after cutting, and beware of touching your eyes! Or, just wear rubber gloves when chopping!
-This is a great side dish to bbq or latin style pulled pork or grilled, marinated fish or chicken.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


Here's an Italian inspired dish with a Mexican flair- presenting you with layers upon layers of healthy and tasty ingredients. My Mexican lasagna has lean ground turkey, spiced up with classic Latin flavors, sandwiched between soft tortillas, fresh vegetables, and protein packed black beans. So the next time you're thinking 'lasagna,' impress the family with this Mexican style fake-out!

1/2 lb ground turkey
6 flour tortilla shells (10")
1 cup corn (fresh, frozen, or canned)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
16 oz. can refried black beans
8 oz. green chiles
1 cup fresh baby spinach
1 small zucchini, cut into 1/4" slices
1 small yellow squash, cut into 1/4" slices
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1 small onion, diced
6 oz. can tomato paste
12 oz. chicken broth
1 tbs. chili powder
1 tbs. coriander
1 tbs. hot sauce (such as Frank's or Tabasco)
2 tsp. cumin
chopped parsley or cilantro for garnishing
sour cream and lime wedges for serving
extra virgin olive oil

-in a large skillet, warm 1 tbs. olive oil and brown turkey
-once turkey is cooked, add chili powder, coriander, cumin, hot sauce, tomato paste, and broth and stir until evenly coated
-stir in corn, and set aside
-in another large skillet, warm 1 tbs. olive oil over medium heat
-add sliced zucchini, squash, onion, and mushrooms, cook 5-8 minutes until vegetables start to soften and brown slightly
-turn heat off, add spinach, mix vegetables and let spinach wilt, set aside
-in a medium sized mixing bowl, mix refried black beans and the green chiles, set aside
-grease a 9x13 casserole dish
-cut the 2 of the tortillas in 2 inch strips
-place the tortilla strips in the bottom of the casserole dish, 'puzzle piecing' and cutting the strips until the bottom is covered
-spread 1/3 of the bean mixture on top of the tortillas
-spread 1/3 of the meat mixture on top of the bean layer
-spread 1/3 of the vegetable mixture on top of the meat mixture
-spread 1/3 cup cheese on top of vegetables
-continue to layer tortillas, bean mixture, meat mixture, vegetable mixture, and cheese
-place in a 375 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, until hot and bubbly
-let cool, garnish, and serve with sour cream and lime wedges, enjoy!

makes 4-6 servings

This recipe was developed for a dinner with my Mexican-food loving friend, Abi.

-You can use water instead of chicken broth, and use the empty can of tomato paste to measure it!
-Try swapping out sour cream with plain Greek yogurt- just as tangy and tasty, and much healthier too!
-Use regular refried beans instead of black beans.
-Ground chicken or ground beef would be excellent in this dish too.
-Use flour tortilla of choice, or what you have on hand: whole wheat, multi-grain, spinach, sundried tomato...
-Skip the green chiles if you'd like to to be less spicy, just add some broth, water, or salsa to help thin out the beans so they can be more spreadable.
-Use cheddar, jack, pepper jack, monterey jack, or any of these cheese combinations!
-Make it vegetarian by skipping the meat and adding more veggies.
-Make it now, freeze it for later! Just defrost 24 hours in advance in the refrigerator, and add about 10-15 more minutes to the cook time.

Saturday, October 2, 2010


Are you a fan of a salty and sweet combination? Then this is the side dish for you! Sauteing the cabbage creates a slightly sweet caramelization which is enhanced with honey, while the addition of anchovies, capers, and vinegar tickle your salty taste buds. Try adding this cancer fighting vegetable to your next dinner plate!

1 head of cabbage
4 anchovy fillets, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup white or yellow onion, small diced
3 tbs. red wine vinegar
1 tbs. honey
2 tbs. capers
1 tsp. red pepper flakes
salt and pepper
fresh parsley, chopped
extra virgin olive oil

-remove core of cabbage, quarter, and shred into thin slices
-place in a large pan
-drizzle with 1 1/2 tbs. olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, toss to coat
-cover with a lid and set on low heat
-let cook 20 minutes, stirring occasionally
-add garlic, onions, and anchovies and allow to cook on low for an additional 5 minutes
-turn heat up to medium-high, cover, and cook for about 3 minutes, until cabbage starts to brown /crisp, remove from heat
-in a small bowl, whisk together vinegar and honey
-pour vinegar mixture over cabbage, add capers and pepper flakes, toss to coat
-season with salt and pepper to taste, garnish with parsley, enjoy!

This dish was inspired by the fried brussel sprouts i had at Lolita in Tremont, Ohio. Since brussel sprouts are among the cabbage family- i swapped the two!

-Try it with brussel sprouts! Wash and quarter about 1.5 pounds of sprouts, cook as you would the cabbage.
-Anchovies scare you? When you cook them like this, they literally melt away into the cabbage and leave behind a delicious saltiness. You won't even know your eating them! Still scared? Skip them, and just add a little extra salt!
-No capers? Try it with chopped green olives.
-You don't have to finish with parsley, but it does add a tasty looking bright color to the dish!