Nicoise salad

Nicoise Salad

I love a classic salad, and this Nicoise salad certainly qualifies. It’s an easy dish that has many variations, which means you can adjust ingredients to suit individual taste buds. This version comes with a shallot vinaigrette which complements the flavors wonderfully. The origin of Nicoise salad? Let’s explore: Salade niçoise (French pronunciation: ​[niˈswaz]), is a salad that originated in the French city of Nice. It is traditionally made of tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, olives and anchovies or tuna, dressed with olive oil. It has been popular worldwide since the early 20th century, and has been prepared and discussed by many chefs.

salad greens

Dressing a Salad

Like most Americans, I always thought of salad as a bed of greens and a bunch of veggies slathered with salad dressing from a bottle. But when I read that the Italians take an entirely different approach, I needed to give it a try. The basic idea is: stop thinking of dressing as being separate from the salad. Dressing is a verb, not a noun. So the process of “dressing” is the treatment you give to your salad greens before eating. This is how it works: oil, salt and vinegar. Now, each person feels these ingredients should be used in

broccoli kale salad

Broccoli-Kale Salad

with Citrus Vinaigrette To illustrate how cooking sometimes takes its own path, this salad started with a completely different recipe that a friend shared years ago for a farro (grain) salad, which had a unique dressing: Clementine vinaigrette. The salad was “okay,” but the star was the dressing. I decided to make my own version with this tasty Broccoli-Kale Salad. With this recipe, I’m trying for something that resembles the sweet kale salad I sometimes get from Costco. My version has a little less sugar and a little more control over the quantity. Plus, I do have occasional negative experiences

massaged kale

Massaged Kale

Today I am thinking spring. Oh, and what a coincidence. Today marks the vernal equinox! This is the day when day and night are equal, when daylight starts to increase and our agrarian roots start to tingle with the advent of “growing season.” And that should be a cause for celebration. Also, this day marks the time when we reckon with our willpower. Do those summer wardrobe shorts still fit? I don’t know about you, but I’ve come up “short,” so to speak, with my New Year’s resolution (to weigh what it says on my driver’s license). So it’s time

roasted cabbage

Roasted Cabbage

Roasted baby carrots, roasted chickpeas, roasted potatoes – even roasted salsa – you’d think I’ve roasted it all – but since this week marks St. Patrick’s Day, another is called for: Roasted Cabbage! Love it or hate it (I definitely love it) you haven’t had the best of cabbage until it’s been roasted. Because cabbage is so closely related to broccoli and cauliflower – all are considered cruciferous vegetables – it’s a safe bet that if you dislike one, you’ll dislike the others. And, according to prevention.com, if you dislike these tastes it’s probably due to your genetics. Just as

Hoagie rolls

Hoagie Rolls

When putting together some game-day food recently, I wanted to make my sandwiches a little special. Rather than bread, I was thinking . . . rolls. I certainly could‘ve purchased rolls at the store as I have done a ga-zillion times before. But this time, I decided to make them myself. Mmm . . .  hoagie rolls. There are few smells from the kitchen better than baking bread. For many of us, it’s nostalgic, transporting us to when our mothers or grandmothers baked bread regularly. Or, maybe it reminds you of your favorite bakery, or even a trip to France.

avocado egg salad

Avocado Egg Salad

March 2 is Dr. Seuss Day. What a great day to celebrate! And what a great story behind that fanciful character: Did you know? In May 1954, Life magazine published a report on illiteracy among school children which concluded that children were not learning to read because their books were boring. William Ellsworth Spaulding was the director of the education division at Houghton Mifflin (he later became its chairman), and he compiled a list of 348 words that he felt were important for first-graders to recognize. He asked Theodor Geisel (Dr Seuss) to cut the list to 250 words and

spaghetti squash casserole

Spaghetti Squash Casserole

Many times when I make spaghetti squash, I use only half of it for the intended dish. Ratatouille, for example. Somehow we manage to eat an entire batch of ratatouille and only use half a spaghetti squash to go with it. Half a cooked squash sitting in the refrigerator sticks out like a sore thumb. So, I began experimenting. This spaghetti squash casserole is one of the happy results. Actually, the combination of ingredients was a result of cleaning out the fridge. Half a box of mushrooms, one zucchini and one green onion? Great combo! The magic is in the

spaghetti squash

Spaghetti Squash

Happy New Year! Anyone want to admit to a New Year’s resolution? One of the most common relates to dieting. My version: I want to weigh what it says on my driver’s license. 🤪 I am coming off a couple months, several months, oh let’s be honest, a whole year a stretch of over-indulgence, and it’s time to reset! Therefore, I will be focusing on low-carb choices this month, and spaghetti squash is one of my favorites for this. There are many ways to make spaghetti squash. The fastest by far is the microwave. I’ve tried this two ways: cut

Bread

No-Knead Bread

If you’ve ever made bread before, particularly the old fashioned way, you know you’re going to need this no-knead bread recipe. Throughout history, this food staple was a basic necessity, but it was labor-intensive. I have memories of my mom spending all day making bread. Lots of steps involved. It seemed like she was forever kneading the dough, covering it, letting it rise and then kneading it again. Now, there’s no “knead.” (See what I did there?) This recipe, courtesy of New York Times Cooking, is very easy. It does not require kneading, and the ingredients are very simple. Not

Cranberry-Apricot Sauce

Cranberry sauce, a staple of the holiday table, has frequently been the center of debate: jellied vs. sauce? This recipe, courtesy of Good Housekeeping, may tilt the argument in favor of sauce because it adds a new twist: apricot. You may be among those who already tart up your sauce with oranges. We’re keeping the oranges and upping the ante. Now, with apricots, we’re taking it, in Buzz Lightyear’s words, “To infinity and beyond!” To start, grate the zest from one orange (about 2 teaspoons). To a medium saucepan, add this plus the juice from two oranges. Then, add a

grape salad

Grape Salad

Thanksgiving is coming and an easy button would be handy for some sides. This grape salad recipe delivers: simple and delicious, it can be assembled in advance. No need for the Break Glass and Pull in Case of Panic switch. The ingredient list is short. Starts with – you guessed it – grapes! I like a mix of red and green grapes, just for appearance’s sake. There are different ways to handle the grapes. Some like the grapes whole, which certainly makes prep time a snap, but I like the approach taken by Country Living, which is to cut at

mini bell peppers

Mini Bell Pepper Poppers

Turn mini bell peppers into a tasty appetizer or side dish for any Mexican-themed meal.

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Salt ‘n Squeeze Slaw

It’s the end of August and recipes that take minimal effort without generating heat are super handy. This “cool” recipe for salt and squeeze slaw, found in the August issue of “Bon Appetit,” fits the bill. It’s possibly the simplest way I’ve ever seen to make a slaw-type salad. Think of this as a technique as much as anything – it’s intended to be a mix and match of vegetables according to your preference and/or vegetable availability. For instance, I’m showing a combination of radishes and cucumbers. However, other combinations work, such as Napa cabbage and cucumbers, or red cabbage

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Grape Tomato Mozzarella Salad

I love this time of year. It’s the time of the harvest and there’s such an abundance of fresh vegetables available. So many of these veggies can be purchased year-round but let’s face it, they taste best in season. For example, grape tomatoes, there’s a little extra sweetness in every bite. I bought them in bulk last week and snacked my way through in two days. This recipe has been heavily adapted from one of my America’s Test Kitchen cookbooks, and it takes the grape tomato from snack to salad while still maintaining a “star of the show” status. The

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Tuna and Bean Salad

I’m a big fan of tuna salad, but when I want something different and lighter, Tuna and Bean Salad is a great option. This is a modified version of one found on nytimes.com. It uses tuna and white beans to deliver a healthy protein boost. And, the dressing enhances a light lemon flavor without adding tons of calories. The result is a salad that’s less than 150 calories, for one serving. And that’s perfect for lunch. Especially if eaten with some salad greens. Feeling hungry? Just have it all! The whole bowl is still under 300 calories and if you

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Sweet Potato Salad

August 19 was National Potato Day so, of course, a potato dish is needed. Plus, it’s August so let’s think cool. As in potato salad! And let’s give that old saw a new twist by using sweet potatoes! Technically, sweet potatoes are distant relatives of the everyday potato visitors to your dinner table, the red and white “taters.” Sweet potatoes are root tubers found in the company of beets, carrots and turnips. Whereas “regular” potatoes are part of the nightshade family, who count tomatoes, eggplants and peppers as family members. As any respectable bar food denizen knows, sweet potatoes are

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Roasted Baby Potatoes

August 19 is National Potato Day and even though we are smack dab in the middle of August and therefore certain to be hot, I can’t resist sharing my favorite go-to hot recipe for potatoes. Is there anything better than roasted baby potatoes, crispy on the outside and creamy-good inside? I think not.  They remind me of a cross between a baked potato and a French fry. Irresistible! Red potatoes work so well for roasting: In addition to that lovely skin (no peeling required), the potato itself has enough starchiness to roast well. For this batch, I purchased a supply

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Corn Tomato Avocado Salad

I’ve had today’s recipe on my radar for a long time. Finally, I tried it and my very first thought was – “Why did I wait so long?” followed by “How soon can I make this again?” It’s filled with the fresh flavors of just picked sweet corn and tomatoes paired with the creamy, healthy goodness of avocado. So easy and so amazingly delicious! Credit for this Corn Tomato Avocado Salad goes to skinnytaste.com Note: I have played a little with the proportions and find that I’m happiest with a bit more sweet corn so I bumped it up from

Lime Shrimp and Avocado Salad

Sometimes the mood for shrimp hits, but not the mood for making it. This recipe from skinnytaste.com satisfies both those needs by using pre-cooked shrimp to throw together a wonderful and healthy Lime Shrimp and Avocado Salad. The tastes of this salad remind me of ceviche, which is essentially raw fish cured in citrus juices. Ceviche is delicious, but sometimes the mental image of raw fish might spoil it for some. In this salad, the shrimp is already cooked, which makes it a perfect compromise. It takes very little time to assemble, and in the case of a rare leftover

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Caprese Pasta Salad

I love the fresh flavors of a Caprese salad: mozzarella, basil, and tomatoes, drizzled with balsamic. So “old country.” A pasta salad version couldn’t go wrong. Did you know? Caprese salad is a simple Italian salad, made of sliced fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil, seasoned with salt and olive oil. It is occasionally paired with arugula. The usual presentation is an arrangement on a plate. Like “Pizza Margherita, it features the colours of the Italian flag: green, white, and red. In Italy, it is usually served as an antipasto (starter), not a contorno (side dish) and may be eaten any

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Grilled Beets

With summer in full swing, a lot of cooking happens on the grill. But that doesn’t mean just meat. Many vegetables are both easy and delicious when grilled. One such is the beet. For many people, beets seem to fall into either the “love” or “hate” category. For me, I SUPER love (new category) beets (but not pickled, because I just don’t think you should do that to a perfectly good vegetable). You’ve heard of sugar beets, right? They’re called that for a reason: Beets are naturally sweet, due to their high sugar content. But here’s the magic: sugar +

chickpea salad

Chickpea, Carrot and Arugula Salad

Time for a great summer chickpea salad that provides plenty of protein and needs no cooking. Even better, it requires only 6 ingredients, plus spices. As a vegetarian main or a side dish, this salad delivers your veggies in a delicious package! This is another recipe from one of my favorites:

Potato Salad

Red, White and Blue Potato Salad

For the Fourth of July, you need potato salad.  Since you’re probably going to make some anyway, why not make it to celebrate the holiday? This post is simply a different twist on my Classic Potato salad. To make it fun for the Fourth, I use red, white and blue POTATOES! Have you seen these? They are typically sold as a “medley” of very small potatoes – usually about an inch in size. The advantage to this is that they are all about the same size, and there is no need to cut any before cooking – bonus! The small

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Easy Pasta Salad

When I want a quick salad to go with whatever is on the grill, pasta salad is an easy choice. I typically use whatever fresh vegetables happen to be on hand. Then add cheese and meat according to preference or mood of the day. I have found this to be a good venue for whole grain pasta. ThIs is because the use of dressing makes it hard for “picky eaters” to distinguish between the “white stuff” and whole grain. Because I had these on hand, I used tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, yellow bell pepper, green onions, salami and mild brick cheese

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Quinoa Edamame Salad

With summer coming isn’t it nice to have an “easy button” to throw together last-minute salads? This Quinoa Edamame Salad is something I quite literally THREW TOGETHER, using .. whatever .. in my fridge and freezer. I liked it so much, I make it regularly. On purpose! Both quinoa and edamame provide a protein punch. Corn gives hints of sweetness, and grape tomatoes provide a mild tang. I’ve also used cooked carrots and peas with success.  The possibilities are endless! One note about edamame: when I find a package labeled edamame in the freezer section, it is a package of

asparagus and cannellini bean salad

Asparagus and Cannellini Bean Salad

I was raised on a farm where we grew our own asparagus, so for me this vegetable always shouts “Spring!” Luckily, due to the marvels of modern growing and shipping practices, we have access to this vegetable almost year round. But let’s face it: Asparagus is still best in the spring. Sometimes all you want to do is steam your asparagus and have it on the side with fish or even steak. But other times, you want something different. And for that we go to one of my cookbooks from America’s Test Kitchen. And this Asparagus and Cannellini Bean Salad

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Classic Potato Salad

Does anything say summer more than potato salad? (Okay, maybe ice cream, popsicles, shorts, sandals, suntan lotion – you get the idea…) I have a true love affair with potatoes and therefore potato salad. Also, I believe that everyone should have at least one “go to” potato salad recipe that they love and can rely upon. (I have three, at last count) There are many different potatoes and ways to make the dressing, and you might have your own preferences, but here are mine: Potatoes: I use red potatoes, baby-sized if possible. The reason? It’s such a bother to peel

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Quinoa with Broccoli and Parmesan

This is one of my “go to” dishes, any time of year. It takes a mere 3 ingredients and only minutes to assemble. With two of those ingredients being quinoa and broccoli, this dish packs a punch of superfood action covered in one swell foop! AND it’s truly delicious! Since May is coming to a close I wanted to be sure to mention that it is Celiac Awareness month. Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition in which the ingestion of gluten leads to damage to the small intestine. So many people seem to be affected by this! Fortunately, there are

Mediterranean Salad

Mediterranean Chopped Salad

If you are looking for a salad that is bursting with bright, fresh flavors, look no more! This “Middle Earth” delight has a simple vinaigrette dressing that, through some alchemy, “pops” the flavors of the tomatoes and cucumber; “crunches up” the taste of romaine lettuce; and smooths the palate with feta and chickpeas. Kalamata olives provide the “Ta dah!” moment with an exclamation point of piquancy. I absolutely love the flavors and textures of this. Transport your taste buds to the Mediterranean! This recipe comes from The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook, from America’s Test Kitchen. I made a few small adjustments

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4 Ingredient Coleslaw

I think there’s a rule that you can’t serve pulled pork without coleslaw. (Maybe it’s just a guideline). Contrary to popular opinion, coleslaw does NOT have to come from a deli. It is, in fact, one of the easiest salads to make and you probably have all the dressing ingredients on hand already! Buy yourself a package of pre-shredded Coleslaw mix and you are good to go! If you are determined to make this COMPLETELY from scratch, you can shred your own cabbage. You could also simply leave a knife out so it looks like you slaved all day over

roasted carrots

Roasted Baby Carrots

Something I always have on hand are baby carrots.  They’re the perfect snack, any time of year.  Some call them the perfect health food, too, as they provide beta carotene, fiber, vitamin K, potassium, and antioxidants. They are also thought to lower cholesterol levels and improve eye health. Sign me up!  I like carrots raw as well as steamed.  But if you haven’t yet discovered the rewards of roasting vegetables, using this method to make roasted carrots takes them to another level. According to the carrotmuseum.co.uk (there is a website for EVERYTHING), a “true” baby carrot is basically an immature

quinoa

Quinoa

for Buddha bowls and more This week, we make quinoa to celebrate Buddha’s birthday.  We have to pick a week because apparently there’s no agreed-upon date for his birth (or “name day” for you Game of Thrones fans).  So, if you are using the 8th day of the 4th month in the Chinese lunar calendar, the 2019 day is May 12. If you’re using the full moon day of the Vaisakha month of the Buddhist calendar, then it’s May 19. Yeah, I’m confused too. Try Wikipedia, they explain it in great detail. But that brings us to Buddha bowls.  According

roasted brussels sprouts

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

If you haven’t tried roasting vegetables, then you have really been missing out!  Don’t get me wrong, I love my steamed veggies as much as the next, and they definitely take the least amount of time to prepare, but sometimes roasting brings out different flavors and textures, which makes them seem like different vegetables all together! Roasted Brussels Sprouts is a perfect example of this. So, let’s walk step by step on how I roast Brussels sprouts.  Now to be honest, I was never that crazy about this particular veggie, which is kind of weird because I really love cabbage,

Brown Rice and Bean Bake

Mexican, Vegetarian Today, I am continuing the countdown to Cinco de Mayo, and this time, I am making Brown Rice and Bean Bake. It’s hearty enough to be a main dish for vegetarians and perfectly suited to be a side dish for carnivores. There are plenty of rice-and-bean dishes out there, but most start with white rice, something I try to avoid.  White rice is not a whole grain; all the most nutritious parts, like the bran and the germ, have been removed.  This process removes most of the vitamins and minerals, as well as the fiber.  So, use brown