Archives for the month of: April, 2014

Spring Minestrone with Chicken Meatballs
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I made this on Wednesday when the rain was pouring down and boy, did I plan that right! This soup is crazy delicious, especially the meatballs. I added about 3/4 cup of frozen peas and they were a nice addition. Delish!

Garlic Bread

Maybe not the healthiest, but you have to indulge once in awhile…

1 baguette, halved lengthwise
1 TB. butter
¼ cup of olive oil
6 cloves of garlic, minced
handful of parsley, minced (optional)
¼ ts. garlic powder
salt and pepper

Heat oven to 375 degrees. In a small saucepan, heat butter, olive oil and garlic until the garlic releases its aroma and gets a little bit golden.

Garlic Cooking

Remove from heat and stir in the parsley (if using), garlic powder, salt and pepper. Brush mixture all over the inside of the baguette. Wrap the baguette in foil and place in the oven for about 10-15 minutes, then open up the foil so that the top of the baguette is exposed and bake for another 2-3 minutes, or until the bread is hard to the touch and a bit crispy.


Shrimp with Orange and Ginger
Shrimp w Orange and Ginger_Web

2-inch piece of fresh ginger, grated
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 TB. sesame oil
1/4 – 1/2 ts. crushed red pepper, or to taste
salt and fresh ground pepper
1 lb. shelled, deveined shrimp
1 large red bell pepper, thinly sliced
6 scallions, thinly sliced (separate white and green parts)
2 large oranges
1 TB. vegetable oil

Mix ginger, garlic, sesame oil, crushed pepper, salt and pepper to taste in a bowl. Add the shrimp and toss until coated. Cover and marinate at room temperature for 10-15 minutes.

Peel and segment the oranges, catching the juice in a bowl (watch Saveur’s video on how to segment citrus here). Cut the segments in half crosswise and add them to the bowl.

Heat a wok or large, deep skillet over moderately high heat until hot. Add the shrimp and stir-fry for a few minutes, until the shrimp turn pink all over. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Heat the vegetable oil in the pan. Add the bell pepper and white part of the scallions, and stir-fry for 5 minutes or until softened. Mix in the orange segments and juice, then return the shrimp and any juices to the pan and stir until heated through. Taste for seasoning and serve immediately, sprinkled with the green parts of the scallions.


Prepare whatever rice you prefer according to the package.

I’m really happy that I finally started this meal-planning blog, but as the weeks have gotten busier it has been more difficult to find time to research recipes, prepare meals and put together each post. I’m not complaining, just saying that you never really know what you’ve gotten into until you’re in it! That said, one unexpected benefit of this site has been that I have an excuse, or really the impetus, to finally try a bunch of recipes that I have clipped or dog-eared or saved on Pinterest. Like anyone, I make roughly the same 20 meals per season rotated over the course of 3-4 weeks. Many of those meals have already been featured on this blog. However, when I started this blog I knew that if I provided readers with just 20 recipes my endeavor would be short lived. So, I started digging through my recipe collection, which lives in a large accordion folder, a collection of food magazines, many cookbooks, a “recipe box” on and of course my trusty Pinterest recipe board.

My trusty recipe board on Pinterest

My trusty recipe board on Pinterest

This week I bring you three recipes that I tried for the first time this week, but that I have wanted to make for awhile. Along with those three I added a re-post of my pasta marinara (a mainstay). Enjoy!

Meal #1: Sweet and Sour Chicken Thighs with Couscous
Meal #2: Pasta with Marinara + Green Salad
Meal #3: Spring Minestrone with Chicken Meatballs and Garlic Bread
Meal #4: Shrimp with Orange and Ginger

Your grocery list, excluding the usual pantry items:

onion – 1
carrots – 2 lb.
lemons – 2
lettuce – 1 bunch or bag
leek – 1
baby spinach – 1 cup
red bell pepper – 1
oranges – 2
scallions – 1 bunch
basil – 1 small bunch
chives – 1 small bunch
ginger – 1 small piece
parsley – 1 bunch (optional)
cilantro – 1 bunch (optional)
low-salt chicken broth – 5 cups
egg – 1
pasta – 1 box
small pasta (such as orzo or ditalini) – 1 box 
crushed tomatoes – 28 ounce can
baguette or whatever bread you like
breadcrumbs – 1/2 cup (if you don’t already have it)
sesame oil – (if you don’t already have it)
honey – (if you don’t already have it)
paprika – (if you don’t already have it)
cinnamon – (if you don’t already have it)
crushed red pepper – (if you don’t already have it)
bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs – 2 1/2 to 2 3/4 lb total
ground chicken – 6 ounces
shrimp – 1 lb. 

Italian Sausage

Grill or broil whatever sausage (turkey, pork, chicken, tofu) you prefer according to the package’s directions.

Farro Salad with Roasted Vegetables and Feta 

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I didn’t actually make this for dinner this week – I brought it to Easter dinner at my in-law’s. They were having a buffet and I needed a side dish that I could make the night before and serve at room temperature. I make this salad a lot because I love farro and it holds up well. Think of it as a heartier (and tastier) pasta salad.

Note: use whatever vegetables you prefer, such as zucchini for some green. I’ve even added canned artichoke hearts.

1 cup farro
1/4 cup + 2 TB. olive oil
2 bell peppers (red, yellow or orange), chopped into 1/2-1 inch pieces
1 red onion
5-6 garlic cloves, peeled
1/2 cup of feta cheese, crumbled
1/2 ts. dijon mustard
pinch of sugar
1-2 TB. red wine vinegar
salt and ground pepper

Cook the farro according to the directions on the box. Sometimes I buy Trader Joe’s 10-minute farro which is pretty good if you want to make this even faster. When the farro is finished, drain and run cool water over it to bring the temperature down.

Toss bell peppers, onion and garlic with 2 TB. olive oil and roast on a baking sheet at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes.

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While the farro and vegetables are cooking, prepare your dressing. Add vinegar, dijon mustard, a pinch of sugar, salt and pepper to a bowl and whisk until mixed together. Continue to whisk while you slowly add 1/4 cup of olive oil and set aside.

When the farro and vegetables are finished (and cooled down slightly), toss them in a bowl together with the feta and dressing.

Penne with Asparagus, Scallions, Peas and Prosciutto


I  couldn’t wait. I tried to wait until asparagus arrived at the farmers market, but the beautiful, green bunches of asparagus at Whole Foods were calling my name. This winter has just been so brutal that I felt I deserved a meal featuring those bright, grassy flavored stalks of spring.

Not only is this dish a celebration of spring, it takes very little time to prepare and it doesn’t need a side.

1 TB. olive oil
1 bunch of asparagus, ends trimmed, stalks cut into 1/2 inch pieces
5 scallions, chopped
1 cup frozen or fresh peas
5-6 cloves of garlic, minced
12 oz. penne
1/4 lb. prosciutto, torn into small pieces
1/4 – 1/2 cup of half and half or heavy cream

Bring salted water to a boil and add the penne. Cook for 10-12 minutes to al dente (read the directions on the box for an accurate time). Save 1/2 cup of reserved cooking water for your sauce.

While the penne is cooking, heat olive oil in a pan and add asparagus, scallions and peas. Saute for 3-4 minutes until slightly tender. Add garlic and saute for another 30 seconds to 1 minute.

When the penne is finished drain the pasta and toss it in the pan with the vegetables and add the prosciutto. Add a little bit of the reserved cooking water, some half and half or cream and season with a bit of salt and ground pepper. Mix and taste to see if you like the consistency of the sauce. You can always add a little bit more water or cream depending on your preference. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese to serve.

I love anticipation. There is no better feeling than the excitement leading up to a big holiday or great vacation. Anticipation is especially strong when you are a kid – how many of us barely slept on Christmas Eve – but fortunately it is one of those few experiences that doesn’t totally go away as you get older. Of course, as an adult what we get excited about changes, but the fun of it stays the same.

After the long, hard winter I have been eagerly anticipating spring. That means getting excited about the cherry blossoms at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, tulips along the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, and of course, asparagus and peas at the farmers market. Like a kid before Christmas who tries to find their presents in their parent’s closet I may have cheated a bit this week… I jumped the gun and bought some California asparagus at the grocery store because I just couldn’t bear to wait any longer. I would like to say that I regret it, but honestly I don’t. I needed that taste of spring and I’m happy to share my recipe with you.


The first asparagus and peas of 2014

Meal #1: Penne with Asparagus, Scallions, Peas and Prosciutto
Meal #2: Mustard Crusted Branzino + Sautéed Spinach
Meal #3: Italian Sausage and Farro Salad with Roasted Vegetables and Feta
Meal #4: Roasted Chicken Thighs with Tomatoes, Olives, and Feta + Sautéed Green Beans with Shallots

Your grocery list, excluding the usual pantry items: 

asparagus – 1 bunch
bell peppers – 2 (red, yellow or orange)
red onion – 1
scallions – 1 bunch (5 or so )
frozen or fresh peas – 1 cup
spinach – 2 bags or bunches
green beans – 1 1/2 lb.
grape or cherry tomatoes – 1 pint
shallots – 7
lemon -1
thyme – 1 bunch
box of penne
farro – 1 cup
breadcrumbs – 1 cup
half and half or heavy cream – small container
feta cheese – 1 cup
Spanish olives – 1/2 cup
Parmesan cheese (if you don’t already have it)
whole grain mustard (if you don’t already have it)
pine nuts (optional) – 2 TB.
prosciutto – 1/4 lb.
Italian Sausage – 1 or 2 links per person
bone-in, skin-0n chicken thighs – 8 or approx. 2 1/2 lb.
branzino or trout – whole (two fish, 2 lb. each) or filet (6-8 oz. per person)

This recipe is originally from Gourmet magazine and I love that it is a) a one-dish meal and b) indulgent but moderately healthy. You know I love kielbasa, but with this recipe I don’t feel guilty eating it! Note: I had some chicken stock kicking around the fridge so I used that instead of water with the chard.


3/4 pound Swiss chard (preferably red; from 1 bunch)
1/2 pound kielbasa, quartered lengthwise, then cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 cup water
1/4 teaspoon dried hot red-pepper flakes
3/4 pound penne
1/2 cup Parmesan, plus additional for serving

Cut out center ribs and stems from chard, then thoroughly wash, along with leaves, in several changes of cold water. Cut ribs and stems crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick pieces and coarsely chop leaves.

Cook kielbasa in oil in a 5-quart heavy pot over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to a bowl. Cook chard ribs and stems with salt in fat remaining in pot over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add chard leaves, water, and red-pepper flakes and simmer, partially covered, until chard stems are tender, about 5 minutes. Remove lid and stir in kielbasa.

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente, then reserve 1/2 cup pasta-cooking water and drain pasta in a colander. Add pasta to chard mixture with cheese and salt to taste and toss until combined well. Thin with some of reserved pasta water if necessary.


I love ordering chicken fajitas and being presented with a sizzling plate while everyone in the restaurant looks on in envy. Ever since our neighborhood Mexican place feel prey to a luxury condo building we have been sorely in need of some at-home fajitas. I’ve been making this recipe, adapted from Weight Watchers, for over a decade. They lack the presentation drama of restaurant fajitas, but they are just as good, and I bet this is a meal that kids would love.

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 Chicken Fajitas 

2 TB. fresh lime juice
1 TB. soy sauce
1/2 ts. chili powder
1/4 ts. ground cumin
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1 lb. skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
2 TB. vegetable oil
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 yellow or orange bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 onion, thinly sliced

In a quart-sized sealable plastic bag, combine lime juice, soy sauce, chili powder, cumin and pepper flakes; add the chicken. Seal the bag and turn to coat the chicken. Refrigerate, turning bag occasionally, at least 2 hours or overnight. Drain the chicken and set aside; discard the marinade.

In a large skillet, heat 1 TB. of vegetable oil. Saute the peppers and onions until softened, about 8-10 minutes, adding a bit of water if the mixture gets too dry. Transfer to a plate and keep warm.

In the same skillet, heat the remaining tablespoon of oil. Saute the chicken until cooked through, 3-5 minutes. Add the pepper and onion mixture to the skillet to re-heat.

Soften tortillas according to the package directions. Serve fajitas with whatever condiments you desire – I like guacamole and sour cream (you can use plain, greek yogurt to keep it healthy).

Black Bean and Corn Salad

This is very much a mix and taste kind of salad. I never measure the salsa or oil and vinegar – I just add a little at a time and taste it until I am happy with the end result.

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can or bag of corn, rinsed and drained (defrosted if frozen)
3 scallions, chopped
1 cup of cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
olive oil
red wine vinegar

Toss the first four ingredients in a bowl. Add salsa (maybe 1/4 cup?), oil and vinegar (1 TB each?) and mix. Taste and adjust to your liking.



Well this has been a crazy weather week! We started off with an absolutely beautiful weekend in NYC where it would not have been crazy at all to wear shorts and then bam – 30 degrees slams you in the face! Some of you probably even got some snow. Sorry about that. With Passover and Easter so late this year I thought we were guaranteed a holiday meal with local asparagus, but it looks like we’ll have to wait a few more weeks for those beautiful stalks to hit the farmers markets. Fortunately the first ramps of the season have been spotted and it is only a matter of time before everything else starts rolling in.  I can’t wait! I’ll be the first to say that I am pretty sick of what I’ve been cooking lately and I am ready to prepare and share with you some new recipes. In the meanwhile here’s a new meal plan with two new recipes and two repeats.

Eliza enjoying the sun at Brooklyn Bridge Park

Eliza enjoying the sun at Brooklyn Bridge Park

Meal #1: Chicken Fajitas + Black Bean and Corn Salad
Meal #2: Brussels Sprouts and Pork (or Beef) Stir Fry + Rice
Meal #3: Penne with Swiss Chard and Kielbasa
Meal #4: Fennel and Garlic Shrimp + French Bread

Your grocery list, excluding the usual pantry items:

limes – 2
red bell pepper – 1
yellow or orange bell pepper – 1
onion – 1
scallions – 1 bunch
carrots – 2
jalapeño – 1
grape or cherry tomatoes – 1 pint
Swiss chard (preferably red) – 1 large bunch
fennel – 2 bulbs
Brussels sprouts – 1 lb.
parsley – 1 bunch
ginger – 1 small piece
can of black beans – 1
can (or bag) of corn – 1
French bread
soy sauce (if you don’t already have it)
chili powder (if you don’t already have it)
ground cumin (if you don’t already have it)
crushed red pepper flakes (if you don’t already have it)
parmesan (if you don’t already have it)
oyster sauce (if you don’t already have it)
rice vinegar (if you don’t already have it)
skinless, boneless chicken breasts – 1 lb.
kielbasa – 1/2 lb.
shrimp – 2 lb.
skirt steak – 1/2 lb.
Pernod (optional)

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Roast Pork Loin with Pearled Onions
Like my roast beef craving of a few weeks ago, this dinner came about because I was in the mood for one more wintery roast, and because I had never made a roast pork loin and I wanted to try it. I have to say it was pretty, darn good for my first try!

1 1/2 boneless pork loin
1 TB. dijon mustard
1 TB. olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1/2 ts. fennel seeds, crushed
1/2 ts. dried rosemary
1/2 ts. dried thyme
1/2 ts. salt
1/2 ts. ground black pepper
1 lb. pearled onions (fresh if you want, or you can use the frozen bagged onions – defrost first)

Note: feel free to experiment with the spices and try something else that you think will work.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Toss onions in a roasting pan with some olive oil and salt and pepper and move to the sides of the pan. Mix the mustard, olive oil and spices together and then rub the mixture all over the pork loin. Place pork loin in the pan, surrounded by the onions, and roast for 15 minutes. Turn onions; cook 10 minutes. Add 1/4 cup water; stir onions to coat. Continue cooking until onions are caramelized, pork juices run clear, and a thermometer inserted into thickest part of meat registers 140 degrees, 10-15 minutes more. Remove pork and onions from pan; let meat rest 20 minutes before slicing.

Cauliflower Gratin
This was the first recipe I tried from The Forest Feast. I really liked that her recipe doesn’t call for par boiling the cauliflower first. That extra step is the main reason I rarely make a cauliflower gratin. Erin recommends using gruyere and I would tend to agree. I used cheddar, because I had it in the fridge, and it was good, but I think the gruyere would melt better and add a little more interesting flavor.