Category Archives: Spring

Easy Springtime Vegetables

During the Passover/Easter weekend I did a lot, a lot, A LOT of cooking — which also meant a lot of eating.  when I was planning the menu I wanted healthy and spring dishes.

Here are two bright, colorful, and healthy winners – Roasted Carrots with Parsley and Lemon Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower.

Roasted Parsley Carrots, adapted from The New York Times
2 pounds carrots, peeled, then cut in half  horizontally and then down the middle vertically
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 teaspoon of dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon of dried oregano
3 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
In a prep bowl drizzle the olive oil over the carrots and then sprinkle in the salt, pepper, thyme and oregano.
Lay the carrots on a foil covered baking sheet and bake in a 400 degree oven for 35 minutes, or until fork tender.
Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly.  Add parsley just before serving.
Lemon Roasted Broccoli and Cauliflower, adapted from Martha Stewart
1 head broccoli (about 1 pound), broken into 1-inch florets
1 large head cauliflower (about 2 pounds), broken into florets
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 lemons, thinly sliced
Kosher salt and ground pepper
Prep the broccoli and cauliflower, wash, dry, and cut and place in large Ziploc bag or Tupperware. 
Add to the container the olive oil, salt and pepper, thinly sliced garlic and the lemon slices.  Close the container and shake thoroughly to fully coat all of the pieces with the oil, lemon and garlic.
I left my vegetable bag in the refrigerator overnight, but you could also skip right to the roasting.
Lay the contents of the bag onto a covered baking sheet and into a 450 degree oven for 25-30 minutes, longer for crispier vegetables.  Check the vegetables at the midway point and toss on the pan.
Serve warm or at room temperature.
These recipes were affordable to source, a cinch to prepare, healthy and kid approved.

A Berry Good Weekend

Last weekend I went on an impromptu trip to Florida to see my parents.  We cooked, hung out, and relaxed.  It was wonderful.

One of the perks of the weekend was enjoying true spring weather and seeing the sun – we haven’t had a ton of sun in DC this winter.  Another plus was being able to gorge on fresh Florida spring fruits like strawberries and blueberries.  Not flavorless like they are here, and not super tart they were perfectly sweet.

And so, my berry snacks have inspired me for this weekend.

Shop: Dress, Flats, Fruit, Denim, Lip, Smoothie

There is something so lovely about the freshness of a new season and the first crop of sweet fruit.  I hope you have a beautiful weekend with lots of sweetness and joy.

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.


Berry Good Breakfast Muffins

True story, inspired by “If You Give a Moose a Muffin”, if you’re coming to my house, I am going to make sure that there is coffee.  And if there is coffee you’ll probably want something to eat. And if you’re going to eat something it might as well be a muffin.  And if people are going to be eating muffins, I am going to be baking them.

That is the story behind these Berry Good Breakfast Muffins, we had people coming over at 7am (*I know!  That is crazy early!) and I thought 7am visits deserve muffins.  But, these muffins shouldn’t be cloyingly sweet, or filled with butter and chocolate.  They should be a healthy breakfast is a small paper cup.
Berry Good Breakfast Muffins Ingredients
adapted from Joy the Baker’s Raspberry and Jam Muffins
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/4 cups dry oatmeal
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon

1 cup unsweetened apple sauce
1/2 cup nonfat Greek Yogurt
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg

2 tablespoons raspberry jam (I use no sugar added)
1 cup chopped blackberries

In a large bowl add all of the dry ingredients, flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon and with fork blend together.
In a separate bowl add all of the wet ingredients, egg, yogurt, apple sauce and sugar.  With that same trusty fork blend these ingredients.  There is something to be said about a recipe that doesn’t require, or isn’t made any easier by using an electric blender.
When the wet ingredients are blended all the pieces will be fully incorporated and smooth.  Slowly add the wet to the dry and incorporate together and whisk together so everything is one big batter.

I used blackberries because that is what I had on hand.  I chopped them up so that the juice would flow throughout each bit and because blackberries are bigger and have a stronger flavor than blueberries (another delicious option).  Really any fruit works here.

With each scoop of jam I broke it apart into smaller chunks within the batter and very gently folded it in without turning the batter a pretty shade of pinkish purple. 

Set these little breakfast bites into a 375 degree oven for 16 minutes.  The batter makes 18 muffins, so you might want to invite people over at 7am to share these with and enjoy!

Potato Crust Mushroom and Swiss Quiche

Sometimes it is a Monday night and you realize you have like 12 mushrooms in your refrigerator and two random russet potatoes – both of which were purchased at some point with another recipe in mind.  But now you don’t care about those recipes.

So what to do?  Potato Crust Mushroom and Swiss Quiche probably does the trick.  I am a quiche fan – it is easy, filling, and completely customizable.

Potato Crust Mushroom and Swiss Quiche Ingredients
5 eggs
2 egg whites
3/4 cup skim milk
2 large russet potatoes
1 onion
10 – 12 mushrooms
10 stalks skinny asparagus 
6 slices Swiss cheese, or shredded Swiss
1 tbsp of grated parmigiana cheese
Olive oil
Salt and Pepper to Taste

 I know there are quiche enthusiasts who will say a good quiche has to be with a proper pie crust, and usually that is true.  However, in the pursuit of healthy living and delicious eating, this is a fast and quite good alternative.

Slice the potatoes crosswise into 1/4″ coins. In a colander drizzle a bit of extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper -this is a tip, place the colander over the pan you’ll be baking in to catch the oil. Then neatly layer the potatoes in a to cover the base of the pie pan. I sprinkle a tablespoon of grated parmigiana cheese on to the potatoes and then set in the oven for 25 minutes at 375 degrees.

While the crust is baking chop the onion, mushrooms and asparagus.  In a large nonstick pan saute the onions and when they are softened add the mushrooms and then when the mushrooms are just a moment from being down add the asparagus.

Cooled vegetables with the Swiss cheese on top
While the vegetables and crust cools – this is very important – prepare the egg mixture.  I used 2 egg whites and 5 whole eggs and I think you could adjust that to your liking. Whisk egg, milk and salt and pepper and then add the cooled vegetables and cheese.

Bake in the 375 degree oven for 30 minutes – at this time the egg should have a slight bounce but be firm and an inserted knife should come out clean.  This is beautiful served with a fresh salad or on it’s own because it is filled with delicious and nutritious vegetables – and yes, in our house it is breakfast, lunch or dinner!


P.S. Mark and Carly secret: During a bridal shower game I had to guess what Mark’s favorite food was that I made.  Not lasagna, or crab cakes, or cookies, quiche. 

Less Sweet Sweet Stuff

To work in my office is to experience a constant parade of sweets.  They come in all shapes, store bought treats from a coworker’s vacation, classic baked goods from a family baking adventure, ice cream parties to celebrate jobs well-done, and everyone’s favorite, snack on Friday.

On one particular day my office had an extra large Pineapple Upside Down Cake, Chocolate Bombe cake (that was nearly a foot tall), and Ben and Jerry’s Make Your Own Sundae in the lobby.  After partaking and indulging that afternoon I decided to start skipping the sugar, or at least be more selective.  I’ve since realized that having it less often really does make it more of a treat.  Have no fear, sugar isn’t banned – I have enjoyed a few s’mores since our fiesta – I had to make sure their deliciousness wasn’t a fluke.  It wasn’t!

Cutting back on traditional sugar though didn’t mean I was cutting back on baking.  Looking in my refrigerator for inspiration I found these carrots.  They were too soft to dip, it’s still too hot to consider roasting root vegetables, so obviously there was no better place for them that in a cookie!

Sugar Free Carrot Cookies
¾ Cup of Whole Wheat Flour
½ Cup of Cake Flour
1 Cup of Whole Oatmeal (dry)
1 tsp of baking powder
A dash of sea salt

1 Cup Shredded Carrots
½ Cup of Olive Oil
½ Cup of Maple Syrup
Spring of fresh grated ginger

First mix all of the dry ingredients (flours, oatmeal, baking powder, and salt) and then pour in the shredded/grated carrots.  (You can decide how finely grated you want your carrots to be, but keep an eye on them, you do not want carrot juice.)  You can mix these all with a fork, or have one less thing to wash and mix it with your fingers (that’s what I did).

Then pour in the wet ingredients (oil and syrup).  We’re you going to plug in your mixer?  You can skip that to.  I used a soup spoon to mix this together – a soup spoon!  Nothing is easier than that.

Then just roll them out into little balls, about the size of a tablespoon.  I used a Silpat mat on one sheet and a piece of tin foil on the other.  The tin foil cookies’ bottoms were darker, some might say a bit on the burnt side, but they still got rave reviews – I think the extra color caramelized that sugars in the syrup.  Either way, I don’t think you can go wrong.

When they are out of the oven you are going to want to eat them all.  We did do that, so I speak from experience.  They are delightful plain, but they are decadent with a little swipe of cream cheese. These made a terrific guilt-free mid-week dessert, and I can foresee them making an appearance at future brunches and snacks.