Tag Archives: new recipes

White-Bean, Zucchini, Tomato & Parmesan Salad for Grilling

Just in time for your Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, July 4th, or Labor Day celebration! This quick, easy salad is packed full of flavor, healthy ingredients, and versatility. This will serve four as a side dish, and goes well with a simple grilled steak, salmon, or even chicken.  Originally inspired Martha Stewart’s  White-Bean Salad with Zucchini and Parmesan, I felt that adding one simple ingredient and a little more oil sent an already-delicious recipe over the top.  Perfect for people on South Beach Diet, or for anyone trying to eat healthier.

Admittedly, when I first read Martha’s version, I wasn’t sure how I’d like raw green beans and zucchini in a salad.  But, as the Iron Chef says: “with an open mind and empty stomach”, I recalled that I once had the pleasure of attending a cooking class offered by Chef Charlie Trotter, now known for his involvement in the raw food movement just before his book was published, Raw, (co-authored by Tim Turner). I’d also had the pleasure of dining at Trotter’s restaurant in Chicago  – and despite the big-ticket it came with – my socks were knocked off.

All of my doubts disappeared the first time I made Martha’s recipe, and as often is the case, I was inspired to make it even better.  This easy yet impressive recipe serves 4 as a side dish. I double-dog dare you to eat raw!


  • 1 can (15 1/2 ounces) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2  pound zucchini (1 large), trimmed, quartered lengthwise, and thinly sliced
  • about 3 ounces green beans, trimmed and thinly sliced on the diagonal (2/3 cup)
  • 2 good, ripe plum tomatoes, seeded & diced
  • 2 ounces fresh Parmesan cheese, crumbled (1/2 cup)
  • 1/3 cup fresh basil leaves, torn
  • Grated zest and juice of 1 large lemon
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Coarse salt and fresh ground pepper


In a medium bowl, place cannellini beans, zucchini, green beans, tomatoes, Parmesan, basil, lemon zest and juice, and oil; season generously with salt and pepper. Toss to combine.  I love this with grilled salmon or steak and a crusty Italian bread to soak up the extra dressing.

Note: The texture of the Parmesan in this dish makes all the difference.  I used Stella Parmesan, and crumbled it in my Cuisinart Mini-Prep Plus for perfect tiny bites of cheese flavor.  Shavings or grates just aren’t the same – and, at the risk of sounding like a foodie snob, if you are the canned Parmesan type… this recipe probably isn’t for you 😉


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Filed under All Other Recipes, Budget Friendly, Grilling, Healthy Recipes, Italian-inspired, Quick & Easy, South Beach Phase 1

Grilled Onion & Mushroom Salad with Arugula & Goat Cheese

I prepared this side dish to compliment my grill recipe Chicken Pesto Burgers with Tomato Topping, but it would also be excellent with grilled steak or other grilled meats.  It’s easy to prepare and comes together in less than 15 minutes, including the grilling time. It’s FANTASTICO!  This will serve 4 as a side dish.


  • 1 large vidalia onion, peeled, & cut into 8 wedges, leaving part of the root intact
  • 4 oz. white or cremini mushrooms, quartered and stems trimmed
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • coarse salt and fresh black pepper to taste
  • 3 cups loosely packed young arugula (large leaves are tough and bitter), rinsed and spun dry
  • 2-4 oz. crumbled goat cheese, as desired (I could eat the whole package with a spoon)
  • 2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts (pignolias)


Preheat grill to medium.  In a medium bowl, toss together the onion wedges, mushrooms, 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, and salt and pepper.   Set aside and make the dressing.

In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil, the vinegar, sugar; season with coarse salt and fresh black pepper to taste.

Grill for about 10 minutes on a grilling rack or a vegetable basket, or until onions are slightly charred and mushrooms have cooked down a bit. Transfer to a serving bowl.  Allow to cool to room temperature; then toss together with arugula and dressing.  Top with crumbled goat cheese and sprinkle with pine nuts.

Note: if  you are unfamiliar with pine nuts, they usually can be found in the baking section of your grocery store, or with the display of Italian products next to pasta.  To toast, place them in a small skillet over medium low heat for 2-3 minutes or until just golden.

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Filed under French Recipes, From My Own Kitchen, Grilling, Healthy Recipes, Italian-inspired, Quick & Easy, South Beach Phase 1

Pan-seared Chicken with Roasted Red-pepper Cream Sauce

To make a colorful, flavorful, and healthy dinner, serve this beautifully sauced chicken with brown rice, cooked in chicken broth and tossed with black beans, chopped scallions, lime juice and cilantro.  And don’t forget the margaritas!

Create fabulousness in an instant with this quick, well-rounded menu that will wow and satisfy. Another recipe inspired by Martha Stewart and her Everyday Food crew, the original was this Chicken with Poblano Cream Sauce; which while beautiful in theory and on the picture – lacks the reality that not everyone appreciates the taste of  a poblano pepper, nor knows quite where to find it or what to expect from one.

In my version, I use everyday ingredients but add the heat of the dried chipotle.  If you haven’t any, get some of this for your spice rack! You can add it to almost anything for a great, smoky kick – perfect in chili.   For this recipe, you can substitute 1/2 teaspoons of red pepper flakes for heat if you can’t find chipotle, but it won’t give you the same wonderful smoky flavor.   I love that this recipe is a bit above the rest while still being  simple.  Here’s what I did:


  • 1 large red bell pepper
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/2 small onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried chipotle pepper
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts


  1. Roast the pepper over a gas burner or under the broiler, until charred all over. Wrap in paper towel; cool 5 minutes. Peel off skin; remove seeds and ribs. Chop coarsely.
  2. Heat 1-1/2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a small saucepan over medium heat; add onion, garlic, and chipotle; cook until soft, 5 to 7 minutes. Add pepper and cream.
  3. Puree in blender or food processor until smooth; add chicken stock if too thick. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Season chicken breasts with salt and pepper. Heat remaining vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook chicken until golden and juices run clear, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Serve with sauce

If you are absolutely not going to go through the roasted pepper work (which is healthier and more tasty), you could substitute the equivalent amount of jarred roasted red pepper.

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Filed under Healthy Recipes, Mexican-inspired, Quick & Easy

Over the Top Chicken & Wild Rice Soup

It’s a snowy day, my three year old has a cold, and my husband has been working outside – so I thought it would be a perfect day to do some kind of chicken soup in the crockpot.  I have some wild rice in the pantry leftover from another dish, so I thought I would take a stab at a chicken and wild rice soup.

Now, you’d think it would be easy to find a recipe such as this.  I suppose it is, if you have vanilla tastes and you don’t want anything more than ordinary.  I like a little creaminess to my chicken soup – or at least, a little extra kick.  I like lemon, curry, coriander, ginger, or something beyond Grandma’s recipe. Plus, today I wasn’t able to get to the store for any special ingredients.

I spent about Over the top!40 minutes looking in my books and perusing the website with no success.  There’s probably one out there that’s as good.  But if I was going to get cooking I had to get off the computer and begin.  I found some inspiration from this:


But it still wasn’t all I wanted in a Chicken and Wild Rice Soup recipe.

So, I did my own – and this is what I came up with (don’t be afraid of the long ingredient list, most of them you just throw in):


  • Any combination of 6-8 pieces of bone-in, skin-on chicken
  • Vegetable oil & 2 Tbls. butter
  • 2 stalks celery, diced finely
  • 2 small carrots, diced finely
  • 1 very small onion, diced finely
  • 2 tablespoons flour – I actually used Wondra!
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 cups chicken stock, low-sodium, or 6 cups water with 5 teaspoons chicken bouillon powder
  • 1/2  package (3 oz.) Near East Long Grain & Wild Rice Original, seasoning packet removed
  • 3-4 whole sprigs fresh parsley, tied together
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 bay leaf
  • dash or more of cayenne pepper


Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper.  Heat a large skillet over medium heat, and add 1 tbl. oil and 1 tbl. butter.  Sear the chicken pieces in the skillet in two separate batches, about 5-6 minutes per side, to get a nice browning.*  Place the browned chicken pieces in the bottom of the slow cooker.

Wipe out the skillet, lower the heat to medium-low,  then add the rest of the butter and just a teaspoon of oil. Cook the celery, carrot and onion in the skillet for about 5 minutes or until just soft.  Stir in the flour, season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon fresh black pepper, and remove from heat.

Transfer the vegetable mixture into the crockpot with the chicken.  Add the minced garlic, rice, and pour the chicken stock over everything. Add the parsley, turmeric, cumin, thyme, and bay leaf. Stir gently.

Cook, covered, in the crockpot 1 hour on high.  After one hour, reduce heat to low, and cook an additional 2-3 hours.  At some point, and really, any time after the first hour – you’ll take the chicken pieces out, let them cool a bit, and then bone the chicken.  Remove the skin, of course.  Then chop up the  cooked chicken rather fine – this is a good way to ensure no one gets a bone in their bowl.   You should have about 2 cups of chicken.   Return the chicken to the pot,  and now add the cayenne pepper to taste.  Replace the lid and heat through for the remaining cooking time – or if you wait until the end to bone the chicken, reheat for about 10-15 minutes.

Before serving, remove the bay leaf and tied parsley. Taste again for salt and pepper seasoning (I added more here).   Finish by stirring in the lemon juice just before spooning into bowls. Then grab a snuggie, some crusty bread or oyster crackers,  and a glass of chardonnay – you are well on your way to comfort heaven.


Wow! This surpassed all my expectations.  This was family friendly, it had everything going for it.  I’m not sure I would change anything, except perhaps to add the rice a little later in the recipe – maybe after that first hour in.  I didn’t mind it soft, but I do like my wild rice to have just a little resistance to the tooth. And, though I was craving something creamy, this didn’t need it.  It was rich and delicious, without being too unhealthy.  I was really glad I ditched the written recipes and did my own thing here.  When I do this again, (and I will) I’ll try just keeping the crockpot on low the whole time, for a longer time – to see if it would withstand being gone most of the day.  Try it and tell me what you think!

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Filed under Budget Friendly, From My Own Kitchen, Kids Favorites, Low & Slow

Premier Recipe: Julia’s BOEUF BOURGUIGNON

The first thing I think of whenever I see this recipe is “how did they manage to put so many vowels in those words?”, and I usually have to look at it to type it or I’ll spell it wrong. This recipe is not for the faint of heart – there is an ample amount of animal fat, oil, and butter. DH and I are intending to begin a new regime this week, so we figured we may as well get the last culinary “hurrah” before we have to lay off the fat stuff for a while.

I’ll preface today’s post by saying that the majority of recipes I intend to blog about won’t be nearly as rich and complicated, primarily because I just won’t have time for long posts like this on a regular basis – and, because most of us don’t have time to make recipes like this frequently – I suspect I’d lose you. But since the inspiration for me began with the story of the blogger taking a culinary journey with Julia – it seems only appropriate to begin our journey with the famed French recipe for Beef Stewed in Wine.  It’s not difficult. It’s just got a few steps, and takes a little time. Save it for the weekend, when you can be doing laundry or playing with kids between steps.

For the recipe, I’m paraphrasing here from Julia Child’s version in the “French Chef Cookbook” (her version is a little wordy). I simplified it a bit but tried not to lose any of the integrity of the real deal.


• 3 lbs. stew meat, or a chuck roast cut into 1-1/2 inch pieces
• 6 oz. of lean salt pork, pork belly, or fresh (not smoked) bacon, cut into 1×1/4 inch pieces. If you must, you can substitute thick-sliced smoked bacon, cut up.
• Vegetable oil
• A few tablespoons of butter, we’ll divide it up as we go
• 3 cups of a good tasting Pinot Noir (doesn’t have to be expensive
• 1-2 tbl. Of tomato paste
• 3 cloves smashed garlic
• ½ teaspoon dried thyme
• 1 bay leaf
• 1 lb. fresh mushroom, quartered and stems trimmed
• 18 white pearl onions, peeled (or a 10-oz. box of frozen pearl onions, already peeled – much easier!)

DO THIS:The Big Finish

Once all you have your ingredients ready in one spot, preheat your oven to 325F. Over medium-high heat, fry the lardons (bacon pieces) in a large skillet (I like non-stick for this) until browned. Remove the pieces with a slotted spoon, and set aside. Then add about a tablespoon of vegetable oil to the skillet so you’ve got a good covering of fats on the bottom. In two batches, brown the meat on all sides a couple of minutes. Then place each batch of browned meat into an ovenproof casserole dish, ideally one that has a cover (or you can use foil).

When the meat is browned and transferred to your casserole, drain the excess fat from the skillet but don’t wipe it – leave the brown bits at the bottom. Put the pan back on the heat and pour in the wine, scraping up any bits and goodness at the bottom. Pour the wine from the skillet into the casserole, and add enough beef stock to almost cover the meat. Then add your tomato paste, mashed garlic, thyme, bay leaf. It didn’t say exactly whether or not to mix it in, so I just gently loosened up the paste in the broth and moved it and the thyme around the liquid a bit. Save the skillet for the next step.  Bring the stew to a simmer on the stovetop. Then cover the casserole, and put it in the preheated oven for at least 2-1/2 hours. I did mine for 3-1/4, but I like it falling apart.

While the stew is cooking, sauté mushrooms in a tablespoon each of butter and vegetable oil. Season with salt, then transfer to a small bowl and set aside. In the same skillet, add one more tablespoon of butter, the peeled onions, and enough water to cover the bottom of the pan. Bring to a simmer, cover the skillet, and cook the onions until nice and soft. Remove from heat and set aside.

Now, I could go on with another couple of steps that were in the original recipe, but in my estimation, it would have taken twice as long for the same result. I’m sure a French culinary authenticist would argue, but I have a family, and extra steps for the sake of tradition are just not in my schedule. So, here’s what I did to finish the dish and the sauce:

About 15 minutes before you are ready to serve, add the prepared onions and mushrooms to the casserole. Gently mix them into the cooking juices and return the casserole to the oven until they are just heated through, about 5-10 minutes. Then, pour the cooking liquid from the casserole into a gravy separator, if you have one. Add enough stock to make 2-1/4 full cups of liquid. Spoon off excess fat or let it stay in the separator when you add the rest to the sauce.

In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt 3 tablespoons of butter. Add 3 tablespoons of flour, whisk and cook until blended about 1-2 minutes. Then, slowly whisking, gradually add the de-fatted cooking liquid, a few tablespoons at a time, until all is incorporated. Bring to just a boil until beginning to thicken, lower heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Season well with coarse salt and fresh ground pepper, and taste. Since you haven’t added any salt and pepper to the stew yet, the sauce will serve as the seasoning.

When the sauce is done, make sure the rest of the fat has been drained out of the casserole, and then add the sauce to the cooked stew. Mix around gently and heat on the stove top for a minute or two. Taste again and adjust seasonings. Keep warm until serving. IT’S DONE!


Was it worth it?

Definitely!  Actually, I was surprised. Any kind of beef stew is not really my favorite meal. This was absolutely spectacular.  I wouldn’t have done anything differently, than what I mentioned above.     According to my French husband,  I passed the test of authenticity test, spot on. Yay for me!  I’ll be honest, though. It will probably be another year before I make it again, and I would invite company to appreciate it for all the time it took.  Oh, and did I mention, the dish has romance written all over it, especially if your guy is a “meat and potatoes” man.  So, if you’re looking to hook one in, this might be a contender…

I’ve always exposed my kids to everything I cook, so they can tolerate more flavor than most kids that are accustomed to a weekly mac and cheese diet.  They still didn’t gobble it up – so this will not get a ‘kid-friendly’ recipe tag.  My husband and I, however, had no problem. I served it with parsley buttered boiled potatoes, and a green salad and crusty artisan bread – traditional as told to me by both the book and my husband.

What I would change:

First, you should know that DH and I had ordered part of a cow this year for our supply of red meat, (the most delicious I’ve ever tasted!) so I used a chuck roast – trimmed the meat off the bone as close as I could, and then cut it into large stew chunks. I kept used the smaller bone pieces to retain the flavor from them and discarded the longest one because it didn’t fit nicely in the pan. If you don’t know this, the marrow from the bone of the cow is succulent (some gourmet restaurants even serve it as a dish). So don’t throw the bones away until after you cooked the stew with it!

I thought I was lucky to find pork bellies in my grocery store – which is the original ingredient used in place of bacon.  But, it turned into a lot of wasted time. I found it to be difficult to cut up – ended up using kitchen shears, and mid-way through frying them, I realized they needed to be smaller in order to brown, so I frantically was cutting them smaller while they were in the pan.   I would stick to ready-made fresh bacon, if you can find it, that isn’t smoked – or use regular bacon and simmer it for a few minutes immersed in water to get the smoky flavor out (as recommended by Julia).  Then dry it with a few paper towels, and fry it up as you would.  If you are just not up for the extra step – I’ve used smoked before in other recipes for this with fine results – it’s just not as traditional, and truly, the flavor is not as completely delicious.

I had already begun this recipe before I realized the only wine left in the house was a simple Columbia Crest drinking merlot, not the finer pinot noir (or burgundy) that it calls for.  But, unless I wanted dinner to be served at 9pm – I had to proceed, and at least it was a younger red.   So in went the merlot and after the casserole was already in the oven I had DH run out and get a proper wine to at least drink with the dinner.

Another thing I changed is to reduce the wine to 2 cups, and replace it with another cup of stock, which by the way, I only had chicken stock in the house too.  This toned down the wine flavor just enough so that the kids would taste it without making a face – because 3 cups really is a lot of wine flavor, even for me, and I have a very high threshold for wine consumption 😉 .  The chicken stock was perfect –  a bit lighter and allowed the flavor of the true beef to come out instead of being masked with the heavy taste of beef stock. Perhaps were I not using top quality beef from a butcher, it would have needed the extra beef flavor.

Rating with Recipe Reviewer’s Changes: 5 Stars

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Filed under French Recipes, Low & Slow