Category Archives: Easy Recipe

Summer Salad

In honor of the start of Summer I made a salad to celebrate. I wanted something crunchy, sweet, colorful and most of all healthy. That is how this salad came to be.

Summer Salad Ingredients
3-4 Cups Frisee
2 ears of Corn
6 large strawberries
1/2 cup blueberries
1 cup chopped cherry tomatoes
2 tablespoons plain sunflower seeds

1 tablespoon Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon honey
Salt and pepper to taste

This is a great salad for dinner option, and also travels well as each component can be stored separately and then combined on site.

Frisee – I know this isn’t the salad green that most people gravitate towards but, this branchy leaf has the right amount of bite to stay strong with the fruits and vegetables that would typically overwhelm spinach or arugula. If you can’t get down with the frisee, I think a crisp romaine could also do the trick.

Corn – For this salad fresh is best and so if you have to use a can, I would skip it entirely. This is a great way to use leftover corn from a dinner earlier in the week. My favorite technique is to wash the ear and dry it and place it on a tin foil square with a small pat of butter, salt and pepper and then twist close the foil. Bake for 30 minutes at 400 degrees or throw it on the grill. For this salad, take a strong knife and shear the corn from the cob.

Strawberries – Wash, halve, quarter. Feel free to taste along the way. When in season strawberries are a favorite sweet snack.

Blueberries – Wash, dry, snack and set aside for salad.

Tomatoes – Wash, halve, sprinkle with a touch of Kosher salt and set aside.

Sunflower seeds – These added an awesome nutty, sunny warmth to the salad if you can imagine such a thing. When toasted (in a muffin tin) these erased the need for cheese or crouton toppings.

For the dressing, in a small bowl mix all ingredients and taste. I like my dressings a bit more acidic so I may use more vinegar than the next gal, so feel free to taste and modify. The goal is to keep it light and simple so that the dressing doesn’t overpower the salad.

When you’re ready to serve layer the toppings over the frisee and drizzle with the dressing. The bowl with be filled with bold, bright, natural and healthy colors.

When you’re done eating your body will be full from bold, bright, healthy foods!


Arriving to and Eating in San Francisco

This is the last leg of our California Road Trip – taking the drive from San Luis Obispo to San Francisco with an overnight stop in Monterey/dinner in Carmel and a visit with friends in Sunnyvale (outside of Silicon Valley).

We’re working backwards, so that I can share with you a terrific meal and fabulous recipe for home.

Before heading to the airport we parked along the pier to find a great dinner spot.  We found a perfect pre-travel meal at Plant Cafe Organic.  Mark and I skipped the local wines and instead opted for fresh pressed juices.  Everything was a delight; full flavors, vibrant colors, terrific view.

The stand-out order was my dinner, the Ginger Miso Quinoa Bowl, with shrimp.

I have since made a version of this dish at least four times since returning home.  It is impossible to screw up, and you’ll be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t love it.

Ginger Curry Quinoa Bowl Ingredients

  • 1 yellow onion
  • 2-3 cloves of garlic
  • 4 medium sized carrots
  • 2 medium sized zucchini
  • 1 red, orange, yellow pepper
  • 1/2 lb of shrimp, peeled and deveined or tofu/chicken
  • 1 can of light coconut milk
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/4 cup of teriyaki/soy blend (Soyaki)
  • 1/4 cup of Thai Yellow Curry Sauce (Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 cup quinoa

The recipe uses a lot of vegetables, but there is a lot of room for creativity.  Extra broccoli, no corn? No big deal.

Prepare all vegetables by chopping the onion, mincing the garlic, cutting the corn from the cob and cutting the carrots, zucchini and peppers into 1/2″ spears.

Prepare the pan with a small splash of olive oil and the onions and garlic and cook over medium/low heat.  When the onions have begun to melt add the carrots.

Then add directly to the pot the coconut milk, water, vegetable broth, sauces, seasoning and ginger.  With a gentle hand, mix all of the ingredients.

Add the zucchini and peppers and cover.  The flavors are all working together for a really layered and full bodied bite.  When the vegetables are softened but still firm (after 10 minutes) start the quinoa in a separate pot.

As the quinoa is finishing add the corn to the vegetable pot and recover.  Add the shrimp and cook for 2 minutes and then turn for 1 minute, or until the shrimp loses it’s grey in favor of a more fashionable (and safe for consumption) pink.

This dish is a breeze to make, cheap to prepare and perfect for the next day’s lunch.

Leftover tip: keep the quinoa separate so that it doesn’t absorb all of the sauce!

Other notable SF stops:

  • Sunnyvale, we got to visit with friends who we hadn’t seen since our wedding, who recently moved to Sunnyvale.  We got to meet their adorable daughter, who unsurprisingly found her first boyfriend in Mark.  We walked about the beautiful campus of Stanford University, and understood why if you’re going to do extended studies, you’d want to do it there.  (It is the most beautiful campus I have ever been to. Note to future progeny, I will be happy to visit you there.)
  • Then we moved on to San Francisco we met up with a high school classmate of Mark’s, John Gidding, of HGTV fame. Together we went to Starbelly in the Castro district and then onto Blackbird nearby.  Starbelly is all atmosphere, and very good food.  You walk in and the energy is palpable; young people, v-neck t-shirts, wine and cheese.  The restaurant features upcycled wood and communal tables and a daily changing menu.  We shared the Starbelly domestic cheese plate and salumi.  The presentation was stunning, it was piled high with gorgeous cheeses and meats and dotted with sweet berries and nuts. The emphasis is on fresh and the flavor is delicious.
  • The next day we met a high school friend of mine, Rachel, for  lunch in the city.  We went to the Sentinel.  It is famous for their corned beef sandwich and that is what Mark got and quickly devoured.  Talk about aromas luring you in – this is the lunch spot in SF for an amazing sandwich.

It is easy to see how you could leave your heart in San Francisco, but bring the recipes home with you!

Late Night Pancakes

We used to live in Arlington, VA, but in a high-rise condo, so we had the feel of city-living.  Our building was directly adjacent to an IHOP – one that we have visited on NYE, and after my bachelorette party. Now we live in a suburban enclave in DC and there are no IHOP’s within reach.

That doesn’t mean that distance quells the need for pancakes every once in a while.

The funny thing about pancakes is that you can buy a wide variety of mixes, but you’re still adding ingredients to the mix, so why not just make them yourself, from scratch?!

Late Night Healthy Pancakes – from scratch!
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1 tablespoon ground flax seeds
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt

1 egg
3/4 cup water/skim milk
1/2 cup non-fat Greek yogurt
1/2 cup apple sauce (*snack cup sized)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 tablespoon honey

*Makes 8-10 3-4″ pancakes

In a medium sized bowl mix the dry ingredients together and set aside. In a small bowl whisk the wet ingredients together and then slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.

In a griddle pan on low to medium heat add a pad of butter and when that has melted, but not burned, ladle the first scoop of batter (about 1/4 – 1/3 of a cup).

Let the pancakes cook on one side until bubbles begin to appear at the top, and then flip. Too much flipping, or too much time will create burnt little cakes.

These pancakes aren’t like the ones you get at IHOP, with big huge air bubbles, and the kind of texture that makes you think you can stuff an entire 12-inch pancake in the sides of your cheeks. These are pancakes for grown-ups (or people who call themselves grown-ups!). These are made with healthy ingredients, and no sugar, and crazy ingredients like flax, and protein rich Greek yogurt.

These are pancakes that have some bite, and you can eat for dinner, and maybe for breakfast the next day. And, you know for fun, with a lot of syrup!

Spring Vegetable Pasta

Sometimes dinner at my house is a game of what do I have in the fridge, and how much longer will it really last?  Things with major staying power get to stick around for Wednesday/Thursday night’s dinner.

This meal came out of that game.  I had fresh spring peas, two green zucchini, a chunk of parmigiana that was all, “Carly, eat me, a little bite… I’m so good,”  and some fresh basil.  All of that would be perfectly delectable with pre-made arugula and ricotta filled ravioli.

Spring Vegetable Pasta Ingredients

  • A splash of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • One large onion, chopped into thin rings
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 zucchini, shredded into ribbons
  • 1/2 cup of fresh (or frozen) spring peas
  • Splash of vegetable broth (about 1/4 – 1/2 cup depending on your sauce preferences)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • a sprinkle of red pepper flakes (pepperoncino)
  • a sprinkle (or a handful) of parmigiana cheese
  • your favorite pasta

First prepare the zucchini, this is the most time consuming element so you might as well get it out of the way early.  Chop the head and “butt” of the zucchini off and with a fruit peeler peel down the length of the zucchini revealing thin strips the width of the vegetable.  Set aside.

In a large sauce pan add a swirl of the olive oil and then add the onions.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper here, and over medium/low heat let the onion soften and sweat.

(At this point put water in a separate pot to boil and follow instructions.)

Add the garlic and when that spicy, fragrant aroma fills the air – is that not the best smell? – add the zucchini.  At this point you can give the onions and zucchini a good stir, pour in the vegetable stock and cover.

When the zucchini ribbons are softer but not soggy add the peas and again give this some good stirs so that the flavors are all fully incorporated.

When plating this healthy and quick to make dinner give the vegetables one more quick drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of red pepper and cheese.


Easy Passover Desserts

Oh, did you forget tonight was Passover?  You forgot you were supposed to bring a dessert to your friend’s/coworker’s/cousin’s/mother-in-law’s house?  Oh you’re supposed to bring a dessert and you don’t have like an extra 6,000 eggs lying around, and matzah cake meal?

Do not worry.  Walk away from the bakery counter.  Matzah Toffee to the rescue!

The ingredients are simple, and because its basically sugar, butter and chocolate (and your creativity) it is hard to go wrong.  And you can get ready at the same time!

5 sheets of matzah
1/2 stick of butter
1 cup of brown sugar (light or dark)
1 cup of chocolate chips
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt

Cover a cookie sheet in tin foil, and lay out the matzah.  

In a medium size sauce pot, over low heat, melt the butter and then add the brown sugar.  While stirring constantly, watch for the sugar to melt into the butter.  When it starts to bubble remove from the heat.  Off the stove add the vanilla, or other extract that you might like – or none at all, and the salt, and continue to stir.

With a heat-proof spatula spread the toffee mixture on top of the matzah getting as close to all four corners as possible.  

Put the entire tray into a warm oven of 250 degrees for 10-15 minutes. (Take a shower).

Out of the oven, sprinkle chocolate chips onto the hot toffee’d matzah and then tent the entire tray with tin foil and let it sit for 15 minutes.  When tented the heat will melt the chocolate and you’re free to do other things.  (Go do your make up).
Come back to the matzah and spread the chocolate with a knife or spatula and then be creative, sprinkle with a little sea salt, some chopped pistachios or almonds, or candied ginger.

Put the tray in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, or longer.  (Dry your hair). When you’re ready to go, break into candy bar sized pieces.

Enjoy with family and friends – this sweet treat is perfect as a Passover dessert, hosting gift, or a quick snack.

Happy Passover!

Crab Cake Appetizers

“Crab cakes and football, that’s what Maryland does!” – Wedding Crashers

To live near Maryland is to know (and love) crabs: steamed, dipped in butter, made into cakes.  When I was home for the weekend I made a crab cake appetizers for my parents and grandparents.  It was so fun to cook for people who have cooked for me my whole life, and to make something that doesn’t show up too often in South Florida.  Florida is all about stone crabs, not Maryland crabs.

Crab Cake Appetizer, makes 14
2 containers of 8oz crab meat (I used lump and claw)
1 egg, gently beaten
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/8 cup of Panko breadcrumbs
1/2 lemon juiced
1/2 teaspoon Old Bay (this is not exact*)
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 shakes of Worcestershire sauce
3 cracks of fresh black pepper
sprinkle of salt
2 tablespoons of mayonaisse
1/2 teaspoon Old Bay
1/4 lemon juice
chopped chives

In a medium sized bowl empty the crab and with a gentle hand and wooden spoon mix the different kinds of meat together.  You can use all the same kind of meat, but generally one is considerably more expensive than the other, and they have a different flavor, so I combine for more depth.

In the empty crab cup, beat the egg and then add it to the crab.  Add the mustard, and a couple of squirts of the Worcestershire sauce, the lemon juice and the Panko.  

You’re probably noticing that the measurements for these ingredients are not overly specific, that’s because we’re cooking and not baking, and because flavor and spice is personal.  Mark loves Old Bay so I tend to go stronger with that, and I don’t care for salt so I tend to go lighter.  If you want spicy crab cakes, add more red pepper – it’s that simple!

Again with the wooden spoon, very gently incorporate all of the ingredients, being careful to not pulverize the crab.  A great crab cake is full of big, pump pieces of meat.  I usually take a sniff of the crab mixture to see if it seems balanced, and then maybe add more spices if necessary.

Now, form small balls of the crab mixture is the well of the palm of your hand.  These just need to be gently formed, not packing them too tightly.  Place all of the uncooked cakes on a plate and cover with plastic to refrigerate for about 30 minutes.  Refrigeration lets the crab cakes firm up before they are cooked.

In a large pan over low/medium heat add a touch of butter and get to cooking.  Each side takes 3-4 minutes.

When the crab cakes are out of the pan, give them a few moments to cool and mix up the sauce (mayonnaise, lemon juice and Old Bay) and chop up some chives.  For an extra kick you can add a dash of Tabasco to the sauce.

Place all of the crab cakes on a platter and give some (or all) a small dollop of sauce and a sprinkle of chives, serve with fresh lemon, oh and Enjoy!

Rainy Day Cravings: PB + J AAF

Welcome to Day 2 of rain in Washington, DC.  Here is the thing, when it is raining I feel like blech.  I don’t want to run, I don’t want to think about how my hair is growing (wider/frizzier) by the moment, and I don’t want to get wet (and in DC, cold).  All I want to do is read, watch, eat.  

Some might say this is the perfect weather for grilled cheese and soup.  Even that sounds too time consuming…  I want salty, crunchy, nutty peanut butter and sweet, fruity jelly.  

Here are some hometown favorites:
Please note, if you are ever making a PB + J sandwich, treat yourself right and do the trick my dad taught me: Toast some fresh Challah,  egg bread/brioche, and then slather both pieces with peanut butter and then both pieces with jelly.  The warm bread ups the flavor and out of this world comfort of this food and pairs amazingly with a cold glass of milk.

Bite courtesy of yours truly
How about this for breakfast?

 Pillsbury Waffle Sandwiches are nothing short of brilliant.  We do this a lot for breakfast or a mid afternoon/night time snack.

This clever design comes from  Serious Eats and NY’s Peanut Butter Co – a restaurant that serves up so many PB & J sandwiches that they created one for every day of the year.  Photos of the clever creations are now on display at the Nutropolitan Museum of Art!
High Class PB & J?
This clever idea come from Bon Appetit’s new blog the Kookery.  The clever concept was for choosy mom’s with ever choosier kids.  Frankly, I think this works for 26 year old kids too..

Decadent PB & J
These Peanut Butter and Jelly Cups might be the most brilliant thing ever.  The deliciousness of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?  Heavenly…

What do you crave for comfort foods?  How do you like your peanut butter and jelly time?

Grilled Eggplant Pesto Parmigiana

Sometimes I realize that the recipe featured here require a mixer, or an immersion blender, and for as much as I try to simplify recipes by using simple tools, it can become intimidating if your kitchen equipment is pieced together with hand-me-downs and college left overs.

This recipe requires not much more than George Foreman grill, the staple of every college “registry”, and it looks and tastes a bit more sophisticated than college.

Grilled Eggplant Pesto Parmigiana
1 large Italian eggplant
Pesto Sauce (either premade, or homemade – do it!  It is soo easy)
Grated Parmigiana cheese
Marinara sauce
Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  On a cutting board slice the eggplant into 1/2″ coins.  Sprinkle generously with Kosher salt.  Salting the eggplant adds flavor and it also helps the eggplant to “sweat” out some of it’s moisture.

In a small bowl prepare the pesto sauce, come on, I know you went homemade.  Another even lower calorie option that is strong on flavor is crushed basil, garlic and olive oil – I recommend the frozen basil and garlic cubes at Trader Joe’s.
Lay the eggplant coins out on the grill and cook for 3-4 minutes or until golden brown grill marks appear and then rotate for a beautiful cross pattern.   
Lay all of the grilled eggplant slices on a cookie sheet and spread each slice with a 1/2 teaspoon of your spread.  (If you’re  not into pesto, or garlic, or basil, or whatever, a tapenade would be amazing, or just your basic marinara sauce).  Sprinkle with the grated parmigiana cheese and bake for 10 – 15 minutes or until the cheese is a little bit melted.
If you can help it, arrange the grilled eggplant slices on a plate and serve with fresh sauce.  If you can’t help it, try not to burn your fingers as you eat them right from the pan.  We ate them both ways in my house, and they taste just as good with or without the fancy presentation!

This makes for a healthy, affordable, and really satisfying dinner or appetizer for a crowd.  Buon Appetito!

Roasted Cauliflower and Lentil Salad

Between all of the baking I really try to make our dinners filled with an abundance of seasonal vegetables and big bold flavors.  Last week it was all about cauliflower.  Roasted, delicious cauliflower.  This very easy recipe was a snap for a weeknight dinner entree, side or weekend lunch.  It was divine – which is saying a lot for a veggie.

Roasted Cauliflower and Lentil Salad
One Head of Cauliflower
1/2 Vidalia Onion
1 cup of cooked lentils
1/4 cup raisins
2 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tbsp White Wine Vinegar
1 teaspoon Curry Powder
1/2 teaspoon Paprika
Salt and Pepper to taste
Oven at 400 degrees
Instead of cutting the cauliflower into little trees, cut the head into slices across the sphere. 
In a small glass whisk the oil and vinegar and add the curry and paprika, salt and pepper.  The “dressing” now has a burnt orange color and fragrant scent.

I dipped the head of each cauliflower slice into the dressing and laid them all out on a covered cookie sheet.  With the remaining dressing, reserve about 1 tablespoon and drizzle the excess over the cauliflower.  Bake in over for 35 minutes.
With 10 minutes left on the cauliflower timer slice the onion and throw all of the onion slices into the remaining dressing.  In a non-stick pan over medium heat, cook the dressed onions until they are nearly translucent.  Add the pre-cooked lentils (I always use pre-steamed lentils from Trader Joe’s/Whole Foods/Wegman’s) and the raisins and allow the flavors to integrate completely.
When the cauliflower has fully cooked the dressed spots will be sweetly caramelized and the heads will be browned (and extra delicious)!

Add the cauliflower to the pan with the onion, lentils and raisins and let all of those flavors dance together and serve.  That is a delicious bowl of winter.

Italian French Toast

I consider myself a connoisseur of French Toast, and having said that I think the only way you can really make a good French Toast is with challah, brioche if you’re fancy, egg bread if you’re not.

It is very difficult to find a challah in DC that rivals Publix’s challah, which is just as good since I have graduated to whole wheat bread, but when it comes to French Toast healthy just doesn’t make sense. 

What do I substitute for challah?  Panettone.  Made in Italy, Panettone is a dome of rich egg bread studded with raisins, currants and sometimes bits of orange.  They are a traditional Italian Christmas treat and Panettone french toast has become a bit of a tradition for our family.  Because Panettone stays fresh (and delicious) for a very long time, the shelf life of this recipe last long after Christmas ends.

Panettone French Toast Ingredients
1 medium sized Panettone 
4 eggs
1/3 cup of skim milk
1 tsp of vanilla
1/2 tsp of almond extract
2 tsp of cinnamon
1/4 tbsp of butter for the pan
In a medium sized bowl whisk together the eggs and the milk and then add the extracts and the cinnamon.  Some people like lots of cinnamon, if you’re one of those people, add more.

Slice your panettone across the dome and then cut those pieces in half – I do this to make it easier to manage in the pan, but it also helps with the portion control 🙂

Dip each piece of pannettone into the egg mixture so that each slice is completely covered.

In a non stick pan, or a griddle pan, cook the slices so that they are golden brown on both sides, about 2-3 minutes each.  Tip: use a flat, wide spatula to help maneuver the slices.  Because the bread has a softer texture than a wheat bread they can get  a bit flimsy in the batter.

Serve with your favorite jam, a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar, syrup or nothing at all.  Enjoy!  Buon Appetito!