Herbed Green Bean Salad

23 May

Here’s a healthy and delicious salad for the holiday weekend to mix up the cast of usual salad characters. The fresh herbs with a mustard and white wine vinaigrette add a nice freshness to the green beans.

1 1/2 lbs green beans, ends off and cut in half

2 large shallots, thinly sliced

1 tsp fresh thyme, finely chopped

1 Tbs freshly chopped chives

1 Tbs freshly chopped dill

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 cup white wine vinegar

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

2 tsp dijon mustard

1 Tbs + 1 tsp sea salt

1 tsp freshly ground pepper

  1. To start you will need to blanch the green beans. In a large saucepan bring water and 1 Tsp salt to a boil.
  2. Add the trimmed green beans to the boiling water, let boil for 3 to 4 minutes. They should be firm but tender. I like to taste one to make sure it’s cooked the way I like them.
  3. Once they are cooked to your liking, drain and run under cold water. Set aside.
  4. Whisk together the remaining ingredients. Add the dressing to the beans and toss until the beans are well coated.

Serve at room temperature.

Peace and good eats my friends!

Braised Zucchini with Buratta

24 Apr

During this pandemic I’m trying to eat healthy foods. I am also making it part of my routine to find new recipes and make a nice dinner every night. Being an insomniac before this crisis, now it’s even worse, so I turn to Instagram at 3am. The other night I happened to come across what looked like an amazing recipe I had to try, Braised Leeks with Buratta from The Lemon Apron, only when I went to the grocery store there were no leeks to be had. No surprise really, so I had to improvise and not just leeks but shallots too. The other thing about this recipe is the Champagne Mustard Vinaigrette…sooooo good! It makes more than enough for this recipe so I’ve been using it other salads for the past two days.

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Here is my adapted version with zucchini, it was absolutely delicious! My husband loved it; he said adding the poached egg made it. That’s one of things about cooking that I really love, the fact that you can improvise and make a recipe your own. And this can be a side dish or main dish like we had with the poached eggs.

Ingredients:

2 medium to large zucchini, ends cut off, slice length wise about 1/4″

1/2 cup white wine

3/4 cup vegetable broth

3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme or 1 tsp dry

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

1 medium ball fresh buratta cheese

2-3 Tbs chopped fresh dill and chives

Champagne Mustard Vinaigrette-click link for recipe

1 loaf crusty rustic bread, sliced and toasted

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Instructions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix white wine, broth, thyme, garlic, salt and pepper.

Line a sheet pan with foil. Lay out the zucchini slices on the foil (I added a few sliced mushrooms too). Pour the liquid mixture over the zucchini making sure you hit all of the slices.

Place in the oven, cook for about 8 minutes, carefully turn the slices over and cook for 8 minutes more, you don’t want it to turn to mush so keep your eye on it.

While the zucchini is cooking, make the vinaigrette.

Remove from the oven, let sit for a bit to cool down, 10 to 15 minutes.

Place slices on a platter in one layer, drizzle the champagne mustard vinaigrette over the zucchini. Let sit for 10 minutes to allow the zucchini to soak up the dressing.

Place the buratta on the slices, using a sharp knife cut into it letting the creamy center spill out. Gently push down on it to release some of the creamy cheese over the zucchini.

Drizzle everything with a bit more of the dressing, sprinkle with dill and chives.

Serve with sliced rustic bread and enjoy! Hoping this crisis is over soon so we can all enjoy breaking bread with our family and friends again.

Stay safe and be well.

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A few notes to keep in mind: I had to use red onion instead of shallots for the dressing as well as white wine vinegar instead of champagne vinegar since there wasn’t any available. I was also thinking that this would be just as good with asparagus…so many options!

Celebrate our Beautiful Mother Earth

20 Apr

Earth Day is this Wednesday, April 22 and if ever there was a time to celebrate the beauty  of our Mother Earth it is now. With all that is going on that is not to good for humans, it has been very good for our planet. Less emissions from factories, cars and airplanes have resulted in less pollution which means improved air quality; that’s good for all living beings. Plants and animals are reclaiming what has been rightfully theirs. It seems that people are rethinking how they live and how it impacts our planet.

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I have always tried to live my life in a mindful way to protect our planet and appreciate nature. In this post I’m going to share with you some ideas to help you do the same in pretty and practical ways.

  • Use cloth napkins and tablecloths both indoors and out.
  • Grow your own food, even if it’s herbs in pots on your deck.
  • Recycle and reuse whenever possible.
  • Use wooden or metal utensils for cooking.
  • Use wood cutting boards

Reducing the use of plastic is probably the biggest thing you can do to help. Plastic is not biodegradable, it will never decompose. Here are list of companies that I use as an alternative for everything from cooking and entertaining to food storage.

Patio Fashions – This is my company that I run out of my home in New Jersey. Beautiful tablecloths, runners, and napkins. They can be washed and reused, again and again. The tablecloths and runners have a hole in the middle and zipper to make them easy to put on your patio table and just as easy to take off. Proudly, they are made right here in the USA.Patio Floral web res-8294

Dot & Army – A family run business in the coastal town of Brunswick, Georgia that specialize in cloth napkins for every occasion. They have many other sustainable essentials such as bowl covers, unpaper towels, reusable shopping bags and list goes on. If you’re ever in the area you can stop by her adorable shop to see and shop for yourself

Falcon Enamelware – This is company out of England that has been around for many years that specialize in beautiful enamelware that is the perfect alternative for plastic. Falcon has everything from tumblers and cups, to plates and bakeware. They are dishwasher and oven safe as well as the fact that they won’t break, which is key for life on the patio or around the pool.Screen Shot 2020-04-20 at 1.42.13 PM.png

Paper Eskimo – A real favorite! Pretty paper products, party goods and eco-friendly utensils for those of us who love have a party and be mindful of the environment. Shop by color or theme, great for children and adults; they have everything you need!Screen Shot 2020-04-20 at 2.02.05 PM.png

Bee’s Wrap – Sustainable food wraps that can replace plastic wrap that are washable and reusable. Great for bread, sandwiches, fruit, cheese and the list goes on. Not only are the practical, but each wrap has a super cute print that makes you smile!

Golden Rabbit – Another enamelware company that has beautiful patterns to chose from that makes indoor and outdoor entertaining eco-chic! Durable, lightweight and non-stick this enamelware is a great addition for those who love entertain.Screen Shot 2020-04-20 at 2.12.56 PM.png

I hope you this gives you some ideas of how to be to be eco-friendly while being eco-chic.

Stay safe and be well my friends!

Classic Tomato Soup

4 Apr

I only started making soup a few years ago, before that it was Campbell’s. Yup, from a can, now I wouldn’t dream of it. The funny thing is, growing up both my parents were big soup eaters but my Mom never made it from scratch. I guess making dinner for 10 people every night was all the cooking she wanted to do, and in our house soup was eaten for lunch not dinner. Campbell’s tomato soup was a favorite and of course with a grilled cheese sandwich. My Dad always got creative with his, adding leftover rice, noodles or even chopped up hotdogs.

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Now that I make my own soup I really wanted to re-create that smooth, tasty flavor of my childhood favorite. I began searching for recipes and realized that many seemed to be watered down versions of marinara or grandma’s Sunday gravy with basil and oregano. They had an Italian flavor profile, but I wanted a classic flavor, so I went to work on my own recipe and here it is…and it is exactly what I wanted! I hope you enjoy it. I figured we could all use a good recipe for comfort food during this difficult time.

And in a nod to my Dad feel free to add in rice, noodles, shredded cheese, croutons and even chopped up hot dogs if you dare!

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Ingredients:

1 28 oz can of San Marzano tomatoes

1 qt vegetable broth

2 Tbs olive oil

2 carrots, peeled, finely chopped

2 stalks celery, finely chopped

1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

Salt and pepper to taste

1 tsp thyme

Directions:

Heat olive oil in a large stock pot over medium heat, add onions, celery and carrots. Sauté until the onion is soft and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add garlic, thyme, salt and pepper; sauté for just 2 or 3 minutes more.

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Add vegetable broth and tomatoes. I like to chop the tomatoes up a bit once they are in the pot. Stir to combine. Bring soup up to a boil then turn down to simmer and cook for 1 1/2 hours.

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Turn off heat. Using and immersion blender, blend the soup until smooth.

If you don’t have an immersion blender, do what I do, use a blender. Add to blender in batches and put each blended batch into a large sauce pan. Be careful not to fill the blender too much and hold the cover tight so it doesn’t explode from the heat. Adjust seasoning at this point, adding more salt and pepper if needed.

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Heat up over low flame for 15 to 20 minutes before serving. Garnish with freshly ground pepper.

Peace and good eats. Stay safe and be well.

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The Knead for Bread

21 Feb

I like to have a goal and about 3 years ago I decided that my cooking goal was going to be to learn how to make bread. Needless to say I did not accomplish that goal, until the other day! Yup, it took 3 years.

IMG_0126And guess what? It was so much easier than I thought it would be and it was good, really good! Of course I started out with a very simple recipe with just 5 ingredients, couldn’t jump in with something crazy like sour dough or rye.

If you haven’t tried it yet yourself thinking it would be a long process of kneading and rising, this is the recipe for you. Give it a whirl and I’m betting you’ll impress yourself and your family just like I did!

Thank you to The Sparrow’s Home for the recipe! One Hour Breadyeh5k7hBRnW7AVC7XeiCdwIngredients:

1 1/2 cups warm water

 

1 Tbs honey

1 Tbs active dry yeast

1 1/2 tsp salt

3 1/2 cups to 4 1/2 cups all purpose flourIMG_0124.jpgDirections:

  1. Combine water, honey and yeast in a mixing bowl. Let it sit for about 5 minutes or until foamy.
  2. Add 2 cups of flour and the salt into the mixing bowl with the liquids.Using a dough hook on your stand mixer start slowly mixing the ingredients together, adding the additional flour slowly until the dough is not sticky to the touch, this should take about 5 minutes. *I used my hands to mix the dough, didn’t feel like getting out the mixer and it worked just fine, soooo you don’t have to have a mixer to make this.
  3. Scoop the dough out onto a baking sheet or baking stone, form into a long loaf. Cover the loaf with a clean towel and let sit for 20 minutes while you let the oven preheat to 400 degrees.
  4. Using a sharp knife cut slits across the top of the loaf. I also added some freshly chopped rosemary for a little flavor and prettiness. You can also brush the top with melted butter either before baking or after for added flavor too.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown.

Slice and enjoy! It was so good warm and it was still good the next day, moist and delicious. TMe6Ed9BSrKgbAm7csgNlw

Peace and good eats!

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Open Sesame…Noodles that is!

14 Feb

Happy Valentine’s Day! This post has nothing to do with Valentine’s Day other than that’s when I’m writing it. Although now that I think about it, I will dedicate it to livestock animals, as this post is a recipe for a vegan dish.

Asian food is a favorite of mine and I wasn’t sure I’d ever be able to recreate what I have eaten in restaurants…restaurants in China. Yes, I have been to Shanghi, China many years ago when I was working in the world of fashion. Truth be told I was terrified to go and not for the reasons one might think (there was no Corona Virus scare then either). It wasn’t fear of going thousands of miles away to a strange country by myself, it was a fear of starving. My co-workers had told me horrid stories of the food and how bad it was. I was told about monkey brains, snake and the like.

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Well, I didn’t see any monkey brains on the menu but I did see snake, duck tongue and noodles. Oh yes, the noodles that were oh so good! And everything I ate was delicious, I most certainly did not starve.

This is a quick recipe that tastes great and easy to make. You can add* protein to make it more a of complete meal or serve it as a side dish, either way it is sure to please. Another great thing about this dish is that it can be served warm or cold. I like mine room temperature.

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Ingredients:

1 lb noodles **see note

1/2 cup scallions or green onions, finely chopped, plus more for garnish

1 tbs sesame seeds, plus more for garnish

1/4 cup light soy sauce or tamari

2 tbs rice vinegar

2 tbs sesame oil

2 tsp freshly grated ginger or 1 tsp powdered

1 clove garlic, minced

2 tbs peanut butter

1 tbs light brown sugar

2 tsp sriracha  or chili paste (more or less to your taste)

1/2 red bell pepper, julienned

1/2 cucumber, peeled, seeds removed, julienned

Directions:

  1. Cook noodles according to package instructions. Drain when done cooking and rinse with cold water briefly to keep them from sticking together.
  2. While the noodles are cooking place the remainder of the ingredients in a small mixing bowl except the cucumbers and red peppers. Mix well with whisk.
  3. Once the noodles are drained, toss with sauce mixture until well coated.
  4. Serve with red peppers, cucumbers; sprinkle with sesame seeds and chopped scallions.

Serves 4 as main dish, 6 as side dish.

*Add-ins can be shredded cabbage, bean sprouts, edamame, tofu, shredded chicken, etc.

**You can use just about any type of noodle: egg noodles, spaghetti, rice noodles or ramen.

Peace and good eats!

Rustic Stuffing with Mushrooms and Leeks

1 Dec

Stuffing (or dressing, as it is not cooked in the turkey) is always a favorite at holiday meals and as much as I love traditional, I’m always on the lookout for something new.  Well, for Thanksgiving I made this version that I found in the Williams-Sonoma catalog and it is definitely a keeper. I always love getting that catalog, especially for the holidays, it is so beautiful and I’ve found several recipes over the years that have become favorites. This recipe is great not just because it is delicious, but it is also vegan.

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Now, the recipe calls for wild mushrooms, I used button mushrooms and baby portobellos, that’s what my grocery store had and with everything else I had to get done I didn’t feel like driving around to find wild mushrooms…I’m sure you can relate. And one other thing, I forgot to take a photo of my final product so the image is from Williams-Sonoma…oops!

Ingredients:

Unsalted butter for greasing (I used plant based)

1 large loaf rustic country bread, cubed (about 9 cups)

7 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil

2 Tbs. minced fresh rosemary

1 1/2 lb. mushrooms, stems removed and sliced

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

3 large leeks, thinly sliced

3 celery stalks, diced

1 yellow onion, diced

3 1/2 to 4 cups vegetable stock

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.

2. In a large bowl, combine the bread cubes, 2 Tbs. of the olive oil and the rosemary. Toss to coat the bread evenly with the oil. Spread the bread in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake until dry and firm but not browned, 45 minutes to 1 hour (the amount of time will vary depending on the type of bread and how fresh it is). Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack and let the bread cool to room temperature.

3. Increase the oven temperature to 375°F.

4. In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, warm 2 Tbs. of the olive oil. Add the mushrooms and salt to taste and sauté until the mushrooms are tender and browned, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer the mushrooms to a bowl and set aside.

5. In the same sauté pan over medium-high heat, warm the remaining 3 Tbs. olive oil. Add the leeks, celery, onion and salt and pepper to taste and sauté until the vegetables are soft and translucent, 8 to 10 minutes.

Transfer the leek-onion mixture to a very large bowl. Add the bread cubes and stir until thoroughly combined. Stir in the stock 1/2 cup at a time, making sure it is completely absorbed into the bread cubes and does not pool in the bottom of the bowl. Taste a bread cube, it should be moist throughout but not mushy. You may not need all of the stock. Fold in the mushrooms.

6. Transfer the stuffing mixture to the prepared baking dish. Cover the dish with a buttered sheet of aluminum foil and bake for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and continue baking until the top is golden brown and crisp, about 30 minutes more. Let rest 10 minutes before serving. Serves 10 to 12.

Hope you all had a great Thanksgiving! Peace and good eats!

 

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