Archives for the month of: February, 2014

Panko-Crusted Salmon
Panko Crusted Salamon_Web

I adore Ina Garten. I think we share a similar mindset toward food, which is that it should be, delicious and approachable. Last Friday, Patrick mentioned that he was in the mood for salmon, and while I have a pretty good rotation of salmon recipes on hand, I wanted something new. However, I don’t have a lot of free time on Fridays to look up new recipes since I’m home with Eliza all day. So in between her Little Gym class and Trader Joe’s, I jumped on my iPhone and plugged “salmon” into the Food Network’s search engine. Fortunately, this recipe was at the top of their list. It is quick to prepare and so good. If you have never had panko before this is the recipe to try. It used to be hard to find, but now even 4C makes it so it should be in most grocery stores. Panko give it such a great crunch, and the mustard keeps the fish moist and adds a nice flavor.

Fennel and Parmesan Salad
Fennel salad_Web
I have no idea when I started to make this salad, or where I got the idea for it. I’ve been eating fennel non-stop since first trying it at The Farm School where we grew it. It is great cooked, but to really show off its flavor you should eat it raw. The crispness and slight anise flavor is a nice counterpoint to the richness of the salmon.

2 heads of fennel, halved, cored, and sliced very thin
¼ cup Parmesan cheese, shaved
¼ cup olive oil
2 TB. lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

Add fennel and parmesan cheese to a large salad bowl. Pour in olive oil, lemon and season with salt and pepper. Toss the ingredients and taste. If you need more oil or lemon juice add a little bit at a time until you are happy with the salad.

Lemon Chicken Breasts

I thought I was familiar with all of Ina Garten’s recipes, but I was wrong. I tried this recipe for the first time this week and I’m glad I did. It is one of those dishes that you throw in the oven for awhile so you have time to work on side dishes or just check your email.

I do have one reservation about this dish. While it isn’t hard to make, Ina recommends that you use boneless, skin-on chicken breasts, which can be hard to find. If you have a good butcher I’m sure they will debone them for you, but if you rely on a grocery store for your chicken – good luck. We happened to go to Fairway this week to shop, rather than our usual run around the neighborhood, so I had to rely on what they had. I got bone-in, skin-on chicken because I knew the skin was going to be important to the flavor of the dish. I decided to bone them myself – big mistake. It added another 10 minutes of prep time, and a lot of frustration. My suggestion – buy bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts and just expect this to take 40 minutes to cook. You could probably use cutlets but it will definitely not be as juicy.

They will be perfect for sopping up the lovely sauce from the chicken.

Boil salted water and follow the directions on the bag.

Sautéed Spinach

2 TB. olive oil
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 TB. pine nuts (optional)
2 bags or bunches of spinach
salt and pepper
lemon wedge

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat, when the oil begins to shimmer add the garlic and pine nuts, saute for 1-2 minutes. Add spinach to the pot and stir.  As it wilts it will release water; let the spinach saute some more (1-2 minutes), stirring frequently, until the water mostly evaporates. Add salt and pepper to taste, and squirt the lemon wedge over the spinach to serve.

Penne alla Vodka
Penne alla Vodka_Web
This is comfort food territory, or at least it is for this South Shore Long Island girl. I’ve said this before, but I grew up around a lot of Italian-Americans so I know (and love) Italian-American food. I’m sure you can’t find anything like Penne alla Vodka in Italy, but you know who’s missing out? Italians.

I’ve only recently started making it myself, rather than ordering it from our local pizza place, and I was happy when I found this recipe, from Lidia Matticchio Bastianich, who is, by the way, an authentic Italian chef. It is a great weeknight dish because it comes together very quickly (skip the tomato pureeing step and just buy crushed or diced tomatoes) and you probably have a lot of the ingredients already. I know you already have the vodka! (Don’t worry, the alcohol cooks off and your kids won’t notice the taste.)

Green Salad

Sausage with Caramelized Red Onions and Radicchio

Sausage w Caramelized Red Onions and Radicchio_WebWhen you visit Italy in the middle of winter, as I did, you had better like radicchio. This is a country that takes seasonality very seriously, and since radicchio is one of the few salad greens available in the winter you eat it often. I admit to being a bit intimidated since I had heard it was bitter, but tossed with a bit of balsamic vinegar, good olive oil and a lot of salt and pepper, radicchio is out of this world. When I returned to the US, I started adding radicchio to many of my salads, but I never cooked it. I don’t know why, but I thought I wouldn’t like it. However, this recipe wooed me. Maybe it was the sausage, or maybe it was the caramelized red onions. Either way, it had enough other things going for it for me to give it a shot and I’m glad I did.

Green Salad

When I was a kid I ate nothing but chicken cutlets, hamburgers, pizza, pasta, rice, potatoes, bread, cheese, corn and peas. As I got to be a teenager I added a few items to the list, such as steak and salad. An exciting palate, it wasn’t. In fact, it wasn’t until I was in my early 20’s, and lived in California’s Bay Area for a year, that I started to be adventurous with food. I was at least 22 before I even tried hummus for the first time! You want to know what finally got me to try new things? I felt left out. In California, I was exposed to so many new foods that I was tired of always saying no. Moving to CA was already a big adventure, so why not eat a little shrimp?

These days, I eat, or at least will try, almost anything. At the same time that I started to eat a bunch of new foods, the whole country seemed to become exposed to a lot of new items which are now relatively easy to get at the grocery store or a farmers market. Arugula, fennel, kalamata olives, etc. are all foods that I didn’t have to reject as a kid – I had never heard of them!

Expanding the variety of foods I eat has also made me a better cook because I now have more ingredients to experiment with. One tip for getting over the fear of preparing or eating something for the first time is to have it with something else that you already love. For example, take this week’s recipe for sausage with caramelized red onions and radicchio. Maybe you haven’t had or cooked radicchio before, but you love sausages and caramelized onions. How bad could it be? Pairing one new thing with a few, old favorites is a less scary way for you, or others in your family, to try new things. So, try it – you’ll like it!

(Meals should feed four adults and take about 30-40 minutes to prepare, or the time it takes Patrick to give Eliza a bottle and put her to bed.)

Meal #1: Panko-Crusted Salmon + Fennel and Parmesan Salad
Meal #2: Sausage with Caramelized Red Onions and Radicchio + Green Salad
Meal #3: Lemon Chicken Breasts + Sautéed Spinach
Meal # 4: Penne alla Vodka + Green Salad

Your grocery list, excluding the usual pantry items:

parsley – 1 bunch
fennel – 2 heads
lemons – 5
red onion – 2 medium
radicchio – 2 large heads
spinach – 2 large bunches or bags
panko breadcrumbs
Italian plum tomatoes (diced or crushed) – 1, 35 ounce can (or 1 large and 1 small can)
penne – 1 box
egg noodles – 1 bag
heavy cream – small container
balsamic vinegar (if you don’t already have it)
Parmesan cheese (if you don’t already have it)
dried oregano (if you don’t already have it)
fresh or dried thyme (if you don’t already have it)
pine nuts (optional)
salmon fillets, skin on – 4 (6-8 oz. each)
sausages – 1-2 per person depending on their size
chicken breasts – 4 bone-in, skin-on (if you have a butcher get them to debone the chicken)
dry white wine


During this past Friday’s rainstorm, Eliza and I made homemade granola. Store-bought granola annoys me because it is usually expensive, cloyingly sweet, the raisins are too hard, and it isn’t that healthy. The following recipe, which I have been making for over a decade, is full of ground flaxseed, wheat germ, nuts, and is just a tad sweet thanks to a bit of molasses. It tastes great on its own, with milk, on ice cream, and of course over yogurt. My favorite way to eat granola, thanks to a recommendation from Design Sponge, is with plain Greek yogurt, a little bit of honey, and sections of pink grapefruit. I know, the combination sounds bizarre, but trust me, it is crazy delicious.

While Eliza napped, I got the ingredients together, including chopping the nuts.


Walnuts and Pecans_Web

I did all of the measuring and Eliza did the mixing. Like any good cook, she needs her essentials close by, in her case, that includes two sippy cups and her Froggie.

Raw Granola_Web

Even before the granola was finished baking she couldn’t resist a taste!

Before the Oven w Hand_Web

Toasty, nutty, and delicious. Yum!

Finished Granola_Web

Homemade Granola

2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
½ cup toasted wheat germ
¼ cup ground flax seed
1 ts. ground cinnamon
1 ts. ground ginger
½ cup unsalted pumpkin seeds
½ cup chopped walnuts
½ cup chopped pecans
4 TB molasses
⅓ cup canola oil
⅓ cup water

Heat oven to 300 degrees and place rack in center.

In a large mixing bowl, combine oats, wheat germ, ground flax seed, cinnamon, ginger, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, and pecans. In a small bowl, combine molasses, oil, and water, and pour over the oat mixture; stir until well coated. Spread evenly in a baking pan.

Bake, stirring every 15-20 minutes for even cooking, until dry and lightly browned, about 40 minutes. Let granola cool to room temperature, then store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 month.



Cauliflower and Sausage Casserole

A few weeks ago, I said that I don’t typically make casseroles, but I love this recipe. To be honest, if a dish combines proteins and vegetables, and doesn’t require you to open a can of cream of something soup, I’m game. The cauliflower is the star of this dish – bet you never thought anyone would say that! You can use any type of sausage you like (chicken, turkey, pork) but, I use sweet Italian pork sausage because the recipe only needs ½ lb. for 4-6 servings, and you get a lot more flavor. I think ⅔ cup of breadcrumbs is too much, so I suggest using just enough bread crumbs to lightly coat the top of the casserole.

Green Salad

Shrimp “Scampi”

I added the quotes because this is definitely not a traditional shrimp scampi, but it tastes pretty close. I like to pair the shrimp with linguine, but rice or even some good Italian bread would be great for sopping up the wine and lemon sauce.

1 ½ lb. shrimp, shelled and deveined
½ cup olive oil
½  dry white wine
2 TB. lemon juice
4 garlic cloves, minced
Pinch black pepper
2 TB. parsley, finely chopped (optional)
¼ – ½ cup seasoned bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Lay shrimp in baking dish.

Combine olive oil, wine, lemon juice, garlic and black pepper in small bowl. Pour over shrimp and sprinkle with parsley and bake 10 minutes.

Remove dish from oven and sprinkle with bread crumbs.

Heat broiler to high, broil until bread crumbs are toasted, golden brown, about 2 minutes. Serve!


2-3 oz. of linguine per person

Boil salted water for pasta, when boiling add pasta and follow directions on the box.

Green Salad



After a lifetime of eating my mother’s meatloaf I am incapable of eating anyone else’s. Her recipe is that good, and will convert any meatloaf haters. The addition of bacon and cheddar cheese definitely does not hurt.

2 lb. ground beef
2 TB. ketchup
1 ts. dried basil
1 ts. dried oregano
½ ts. garlic powder
½ ts. salt
½ ts. pepper
¼ cup minced onion
2-3 dashes Worcestershire sauce (my addition/optional)
1 egg (you may need 2)
⅓-½ cups bread crumbs
3 strips of bacon
cheddar cheese slices, enough to cover the meatloaf

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the first 11 ingredients with 1-2 TB. water, and mix with your hands. If it isn’t coming together add another beaten egg and a bit more breadcrumbs. When all of the ingredients are fully incorporated place the meatloaf in a baking pan, forming it into a loaf. Place the strips of bacon on top and bake for 1 hour. At the end of the hour, top with cheese slices and bake another 3-4 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

Roasted Potatoes

1 lb. red or yukon gold potatoes, halved
2 TB. olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Toss potatoes with oil and salt and pepper on a baking sheet. Roast in the oven for 30-35 minutes, or until tender and browned.

Green Beans

1 ½ lb. green beans, trimmed
1 TB. butter
salt and pepper, to taste

Boil salted water in a pot or saucepan. When boiling, add green beans for 3-5 minutes, or until crisp tender. Drain and toss with butter and salt and pepper.


Chicken & Vegetable Stir Fry
Stir Fry Ingredients_web

There is nothing special about this recipe; it is a variation on what you have probably been making since college. Lately, I’ve been trying out some different sauces, rather than just my standard soy sauce. I came up with this sauce on the fly while the chicken and vegetables were cooking so I’m open to suggestions.

1 TB. vegetable oil
1 garlic clove, minced
½ inch of ginger, minced
1 bunch of scallions, whites and a little bit of the green stem chopped*
2 red, yellow or orange peppers, chopped *
2 zucchini and/or summer squash, chopped *
1 cup, or a handful of snap peas
1 lb. chicken breast, cut into strips *

* ingredients that can be prepped several days ahead.

Heat vegetable oil in a wok or large saute pan until almost, but not quite, smoking. Add garlic and ginger and stir constantly until you can smell their loveliness. Add scallions, pepper, and squash and saute for about 3 minutes. When the pepper starts to soften a bit add the chicken and quickly stir together. After 3-5 minutes the chicken should be cooked through; add the snap peas and give it a quick stir. Then, add the sauce (see below for ingredients) and stir for about a minute to thicken it up and coat all of the vegetables and chicken. Top with the greens of the scallions.


¼ cup soy sauce
½ ts. oyster sauce
¼ cup rice wine vinegar
1 ts. sesame oil

Mix all ingredients together and set aside.