Thursday, September 6, 2012

Summer Vegetable Casserole

Squash, zucchini, tomatoes... summer bounty! It's the end of the season, and we're all looking for ways to use the warm weather harvest. I decided to put my favorite warm weather veggies into a casserole-- perfect for when the days are getting cool enough to heat up your oven. Baked with a layer of crunchy panko breadcrumbs on top, it's a crisp and flavorful way to enjoy an end-of-summer dinner.

  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 4 TBSP butter, plus a little extra for the baking dish
  • 1 summer squash, sliced thin
  • 1 zucchini, sliced thin
  • 1 1/2 large beefsteak tomatoes, sliced thin (approximately 2 cups)
  • 1/2 large onion, diced (approximately 1/2 cup)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 bunch asparagus, broiled and cut into 1 inch pieces (Need instructions for how to broil asparagus? I shared a recipe a while back--
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 TBSP italian seasoning
  • 3 cups "italian blend" cheese (mozzarella, parmesan, asiago, provolone, fontina, etc.)
  • salt and pepper (on the asparagus), to taste
To Make
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Heat up a skillet, add the olive oil, and sauté the onions and garlic until translucent and lightly browned. Add a little salt if you like. 
  3. Grease an 8x8 baking pan with butter. 
  4. Layer your casserole: First a zucchini and squash layer, then onions and garlic, then asparagus, then tomatoes, then cheese. Repeat until you reach the top of the pan and top with cheese. 
  5. Melt the 4 TBSP butter and stir into the panko and italian herbs. 
  6. Top the casserole with the panko blend and any remaining cheese. 
  7. Cover the dish with foil and bake, covered, for 25-30 minutes.
  8. Uncover the baking dish, raise the temperature of the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, and bake the casserole for another 5-10 minutes... until the breadcrumbs are golden brown. Be sure to keep an eye of things during this stage; the breadcrumbs can burn very easily.
  9. Allow the cooked casserole to rest for 10 or so minutes before serving to give it the opportunity to set.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Salem Bake

I'm by no means the first person to come up with the idea of putting chopped vegetables in a foil packet on the barbecue, but I give you my family's version: The Salem Bake. Named for Salem, New York, the town where my Dad first put the Salem Bake together and placed it on the grill, this is a great dish to throw together when you're looking for a vegetarian-friendly alternative to the usual veggie kebabs. There's no recipe, just "guidelines." This truly is one dish you can make up as you go.

What You'll Need
  • root vegetables, chopped into small-medium bite size pieces 
    • Examples: Potatoes, Sweet Potatoes, Parsnips, etc.
  • more vegetables, chopped small
    • Examples: Carrots, Sweet Onions, Asparagus, Squash, Zucchini, etc.
  • garlic, minced
  • your favorite herbs and spices
    • Examples: salt and pepper to taste, fresh or dried rosemary, sage, etc.
  • fat
    • olive oil, extra virgin olive oil, butter, etc.
To Make
  1. Heat up your grill!
  2. Layer a couple large pieces of foil as the bottom foundation of your bake. 
  3. Fill the foil with your veggies of choice. When you're doing this, make like you're filling a burrito-- add too much and you will make your bake unwieldy when you go to move it to your grill.
  4. Add a little oil and/or dot with butter.
  5. Toss in your herbs and spices. Not sure what to add? The basic kosher salt and freshly ground pepper have never failed to disappoint!
  6. Close up the bake with another layer or two of foil, and pat into a rectangle.
  7. Put your foil packet on the grill. The cooking time will depend on how big you chopped your vegetables and how hot your barbecue is, but my time usually averages about 45 minutes. 
  8. To test for doneness, tear a little whole in the top of the foil (watch out for steam!) and poke your biggest vegetable with a fork (just like poking a baked potato in the oven). If the fork comes in and out easily you are done!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Salsa Salad

I'm stoked for fall to get here. I've caught myself looking longingly at the sweaters in my closest and planning when I'll bake my first apple pie this season... lighting pumpkin-scented candles even!

But, it's going to be pushing ninety degrees in New York City this weekend. Labor Day Weekend is coming; let's send summer out with a bang!

  • one avocado, chopped
  • two large tomatoes, diced
  • one jar Trader Joe's Corn and Chile Tomato-less Salsa
  • one jalepeño, minced (add only if you want your salad to have a little extra "kick")
  • 1 1/2 - 2 cups cooked or canned black beans (if using canned, be sure to drain and rinse)
  • 1/2 cup bell pepper (any color), diced
  • salt and pepper, to taste

To Make
  1. Combine all ingredients in a large bowl or container. Allow the salad to meld in your 'fridge for an hour or two. 
Does it get any easier than that?

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Mexican Lasagna

A twist on an old favorite, this recipe for Mexican Lasagna layers enchilada sauce, corn tortillas, refried beans, vegetables, and cheese that reaches ooey gooey levels of deliciousness as it bakes in your oven. Enjoy it with some fresh cilantro or a dollop of guacamole and a glass of sangria (this one or this one would do nicely) for a dinner you won't soon forget!

  • 1 1/2 cups enchilada sauce (jarred, canned, or homemade)
  • 18-20 6-inch corn tortillas
  • 1 can refried pinto beans, with or without chiles/jalapeños/salsa-style/etc. depending on your taste
  • 1 can refried black beans, with or without chiles/jalapeños/salsa-style/etc. depending on your taste
  • 2 medium tomatoes, diced
  • 1-3 jalapeños, minced: Use one for a mild lasagna... more to add heat!
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cups shredded cheddar or "mexican blend" cheese
  • cilantro or guacamole for garnish
To Make
  1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Blend the two cans of refried beans using a spoon or food processor. Add a little water if necessary to make them more spreadable.
  3. Combine the tomatoes, jalapeños, and onions in a bowl.
  4. Coat the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish with enchilada sauce. 
  5. Add a layer of tortillas.
  6. For the next layer, spread half of the beans over the tortillas. 
  7. Spoon half of your vegetables on top of the beans.
  8. Sprinkle on a layer of cheese.
  9. Add a second layer of tortillas. 
  10. Coat the tortillas with more enchilada sauce. 
  11. Spread the remaining beans on top of the sauce. It's okay if they blend a little bit.
  12. Distribute the rest of the vegetables and another coating of cheese on top of the second bean layer.
  13. Finish off with a final layer of tortillas, the rest of your sauce, and the last of the shredded cheese. 
  14. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until golden brown and bubbling.
  15. Allow the lasagna to set up for at least 10-15 minutes after removing from the oven to avoid a runny dinner plate.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Oven Roasted Chickpeas

Feel like a crunchy snack, but not in the mood to break out the chips and crackers? I love roasting chickpeas. There's a nice protein punch in this snack, and you get to customize your spices to boot!

  • 1 15.5 ounce can of chickpeas
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • Your spices of choice (about 2-3 tsp total). Sky's the limit, so be creative and pick flavors you like. I like using:
    • kosher salt and cayenne pepper
    • garlic salt
    • parsley and paprika

To Make
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Rinse chickpeas thoroughly, and allow to drain.
  3. Spread the chickpeas out in one layer on a cookie sheet and bake for 20-40 minutes, until golden and crunchy.
  4. While they're still warm, toss the chickpeas in the olive oil, then stir in your spices.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Cold Sesame Noodles

This dish is a warm-weather favorite in our house. The noodles get better and better over a few days in the 'fridge... if they last that long. Chili paste gives them a little zing, but they're truly not spicy as far as my palate is concerned. Serve 'em up with some freshly sliced cucumbers or sugar snap peas.

  • 8 ounces Chinese egg noodles
  • 2 TBSP peanut oil
  • 3 TBSP dark/toasted sesame oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-2 TBSP freshly grated ginger (depending on how much you enjoy ginger)
  • 2 scallions, sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 3 TBSP reduced sodium soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 tsp red chili paste- I've used Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce and had good results
  • 2 TBSP brown sugar
  • 3 TBSP rice vinegar
  • 6 TBSP hot water
  • 1.5 TBSP sesame seeds, toasted
To Make
  1. Cook the noodles to al dente, according to package directions. When cooked, drain and rinse noodles until room temperature.
  2. Put noodles in a large bowl, making sure that all of the water has been drained. Toss them in the sesame oil to keep them from sticking together.
  3. Heat the peanut oil in a pan over medium heat. Cook the scallions, garlic, ginger, and chili paste until soft. Stir in the brown sugar, peanut butter, vinegar, soy sauce, and water. Mix until the peanut butter is blended in and the sugar has dissolved. 
  4. Toss your noodles in the peanut butter mixture and stir in the toasted sesame seeds. 
  5. Chill for a few hours and serve.

Friday, July 20, 2012


It took me a while to come up with a good recipe for this rich Italian dessert. It was clear to me as I tried recipe after recipe that some cooks/chefs don't test before they share. I've had tirami-soup, as my toddler affectionally calls it. I've run out of coffee to dip lady fingers in only one layer into dessert assembly. All of my mistakes have been delicious, but I haven't been proud of them. Thankfully, I now have a recipe to share with you that I am proud of. But first, a couple lessons I've learned along the way:

  1. The first couple times you make tiramisu, prepare a little extra of the coffee and rum mixture. Better to have leftovers than to run out in this case.
  2. First I will say that I have not been paid/compensated in any way to recommend this product, but: Use Bellino Savoiardi when you're looking for a great lady finger for your tiramisu. After using these lady fingers when making my own, I won't use any other.
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2/3 cup whole milk or heavy cream (for making custard)
  • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream (for whipped cream)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 16 ounces mascarpone cheese
  • 2 7-ounce packages of lady fingers  
  • 1 cup espresso or strongly brewed coffee, cooled to room temperature
  • 8 TBSP rum
  • 1-2 TBSP unsweetened cocoa powder, for dusting
To Make
  1. Whisk together egg yolks and sugar in a medium pot until well blended. Whisk in your 2/3 cup milk/cream and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture simmers. Let the mixture simmer for about one minute, and remove from the heat. DO NOT OVERCOOK OR YOU WILL HAVE SUGARY SCRAMBLED EGGS. YUCK.  Cover and put into your refrigerator to cool for an hour. 
  2. Using a hand mixer or stand mixer (or a whisk if you have boundless energy and time), beat the heavy cream and vanilla until stiff peaks form... about 5-10 minutes.
  3. Remove egg mixture from 'fridge and strain using a fine mesh strainer or berry strainer. 
  4. Stir the strained egg mixture into the mascarpone.
  5. In a small bowl, combine rum and espresso/coffee.
  6. Take out a 13x9 baking dish. 
  7. Dip each lady finger in the coffee/rum mixture for 3-5 seconds, then form your first layer at the bottom of the pan. If necessary, break some of the lady fingers in half so that they fit properly.
  8. Once you have a layer of soaked lady fingers, spread half of the mascarpone mixture as the next layer.
  9. Make a third layer of whipped cream.
  10. Repeat steps 7-9 once more.
  11. Dust the top of your tiramisu with cocoa powder.
  12. Cover and refrigerate for 6-8 hours, so that the dessert has time to set and the flavors have time to meld.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Morgan's Pineapple Sangria

In a word: delicious. In two words: summery and refreshing. It only takes about 10-15 minutes to make up a pitcher of this lovely sangria, and you'll get rave reviews whether you share with friends at a barbecue or keep it all to yourself! My friend Morgan was kind enough to share her recipe, and I'm excited to share it with you.

  • 2 cups pineapple juice
  • 1 bottle white wine
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 lime
  • 1 orange
  • 2-4 TBSP sugar
  • Ginger Ale or Sprite (optional, and not pictured above)
  1. Combine the wine, sugar, and one cup of the juice in a pitcher.
  2. Juice your citrus fruits, and cut up what remains to look pretty. Be sure to remove and toss any obvious seeds.
  3. Pour in lemon/lime/orange juice into the pitcher and stir to combine. 
  4. Add leftover citrus rinds.
  5. Store this mixture in your refrigerator anywhere from a few hours to overnight (if possible). 
  6. Add remaining one cup of pineapple juice right before serving.
  7. If you like bubbles in your sangria, fill your glass about three quarters of the way up. Then pour in the Ginger Ale/Sprite to fill the rest of the glass. Voila! Bubbly sangria.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Stuffed Peppers

Summertime is here, and peppers are in season. What to do? What to do? There's always tossing them into a cold salad or a morning omelet, but when you feel like something heartier, try stuffing them full of tasty brown rice, beans, vegetables, cheese, and spices.


- 6 large bell peppers, any color... tops and seeds removed
- 2 cups cooked brown rice
- 4 medium tomatoes, chopped
- 1 small/medium sweet onion, diced
- 6 cloves garlic, diced small
- 1 cup cheese shredded (cheddar, monterey jack, parmesan, etc.), plus a little extra
- 1/2 cup red kidney beans
- 1/2 cup black beans
- 1 TBSP dried basil
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 TBSP extra virgin olive oil
- 3/4 cup pasta sauce
- 1 cup vegetable broth


  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Sauté onions and garlic in olive oil until lightly browned.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the vegetable broth and pasta sauce.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, combine the rice, tomatoes, cooked onions and garlic, cheese, beans, and spices. 
  5. Arrange the peppers, hollowed side up, in a baking dish.
  6. Spoon the mixture from the large bowl into the peppers.
  7. Poor the sauce and broth into the bottom of the pan, and sprinkle a little extra cheese on top of the peppers.  
  8. Bake peppers for 30-40 minutes, or until the cheese is golden and bubbly and the peppers are tender when poked with a fork.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Zesty Black Bean Soup

It's a challenge to make a spicy black bean soup that doesn't taste like chili! Ease up on the chili powder, as a little extra broth, break out the crock pot and get ready to enjoy a soup that works great as a main dish or a side.

-  1.5 pounds dried black beans rinsed and soaked overnight in water (makes approximately 9 cups once soaked)
- 2 cups corn kernels
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 8 cups vegetable broth
- 3 cups tomatoes, diced
- 1 onion, diced
- salt and pepper, to taste
- 1 TBSP chili powder
- 1 tsp cayenne pepper
- 2 TBSP olive oil

How To Cook It
1) Put beans, corn, garlic, broth, tomatoes, and spices into your crock pot.
2) Meanwhile, heat a skillet, add the olive oil, and sauté onions until they're translucent and lightly browned.
3) Add the cooked onions to the crock pot with the other ingredients.
4) Cook the soup mixture on low for 8 hours.
5) Garnish individual bowls with your fav. homemade guacamole and fresh cilantro. Guac makes the soup smooth and creamy (not to mention extra delicious) when stirred in, so enjoy!

Monday, January 9, 2012

Salmon and Lentils

Okay, so from a vegetarian perspective this recipe could totally be Lentils and Salmon. I ate the lentils as a main dish, and had the salmon ready as a "side" for the much-loved omnivores in my life. I'm no expert when it comes to meat, but all in all this dish turned out pretty well. The original recipe is from the Good Housekeeping cookbook- I didn't have fresh tarragon on hand and used dried rosemary instead without any problems.

- 1 cup lentils, rinsed and picked through
- 2 1/4 cups water
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 4 pieces (6 ounces each) salmon fillet with skin
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/8 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
- 1  lemon
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 4 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon
- 1 tablespoon butter or margarine
- 1/4 cup finely chopped shallots
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

How To Cook It
1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. In 2-quart saucepan, combine lentils, water, and 1/2 teaspoon salt; heat to boiling over high heat. Reduce heat; cover and simmer until lentils are tender, 20 to 30 minutes. Drain.
2) Meanwhile, grease 13-inch by 9-inch baking dish. With tweezers, remove any bones from salmon. Arrange fillets in single layer in prepared baking dish. Rub with 1 teaspoon oil and sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Bake until fish is just opaque throughout, 15 to 20 minutes.
3) While salmon is baking, prepare dressing: From lemon, grate 1/2 teaspoon peel and squeeze 2 tablespoons juice. In small bowl, with wire whisk, whisk together lemon juice, mustard, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Gradually whisk in remaining 2 tablespoons oil, then stir in 2 teaspoons tarragon.
4) In 10-inch skillet, melt butter over medium heat. Add shallots and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Stir in lentils, lemon peel, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Remove from heat and stir in parsley and remaining 2 teaspoons tarragon. Spread lentil mixture on platter. Arrange salmon on top of lentils and spoon dressing over salmon.