Sunday, August 29, 2010

Spinach Squares

Recipe courtesy of: Gail

These spinach squares are delicious & easy to make- great for dinner any time of year.

  • 4 Tbsp butter, melted in a 9 x 13 pan
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 Cup of flour
  • 1 Cup of milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 lb of grated Monterey jack cheese
  • 2 10-oz boxes frozen chopped spinach, defrosted (wring out most of the water)

  1. Melt butter in pan in oven (watch so it doesn't burn).
  2. Beat eggs, flour, salt, baking soda, and milk.
  3. Add cheese and spinach and then turn the mixture into the pan.
  4. Bake at 350° for about 35 minutes.

Notes: These are good as leftovers too :-)

Thanks Gail!!

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Oatmeal Chunky Monkeys

Adapted from Quaker Oatmeal "Vanishing Oatmeal Raisin Cookies"

These delicious cookies cut back on the fat without compromising on taste by substituting banana for some of the butter. The original recipe these come from is called "vanishing" for a reason... they are so tasty it's hard to keep them around!

  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 stick margarine or butter, softened at room temp
  • 3 cups of oats
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 package of chocolate chunks
  • 1 large Banana

  1. Heat oven to 350°
  2. Beat together in a large bowl: Butter, banana, and sugars until creamy
  3. Add eggs and vanilla to the large bowl & mix well
  4. Mix together in a small bowl: Flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Mix well.
  5. Add the flour mix to the ingredients in the large bowl. Mix well.
  6. Stir in oats (and raisins if using original recipe).
  7. Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown.
For the original recipe, use 2 sticks of butter instead of banana, and add 1 cup of raisins.
Want a holiday version? Try using the original recipe but with dried cherries or cranberries and white chocolate chips.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Tomato Pie

Recipe courtesy of: Weezie M.

This is one of the dishes we love to have when we have dinner on Cape Cod with our good friends Weezie & John. The pie is great as an accompaniment to a meal, or as the main course itself. It is delicious and light-tasting, perfect for summer.

  • 1 Pillsbury Pie Crust
  • Swiss cheese, sliced, enough to cover pie
  • 3-4 Tomatoes
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese
  • Garlic
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 8-10 Ritz crackers
  • 1 Tablespoon of butter

  1. Cook pie crust as directed for one crust baked shell and let cool.
  2. Line bottom of pie crust with thin slices of Swiss cheese.
  3. Cut tomatoes into thick slices and put on top of cheese. Do not overlap.
  4. Mix one cup of parmesan cheese with one cup of mayo. Add a pinch of garlic. Spread this mixture over the pie.
  5. Top with crushed Ritz Crackers(8-10) and dot with butter.
  6. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until brown and bubbly.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010


(AKA Butterscotch Rice Krispie Treats)

It's amazing what some butterscotch chips can do! My first experience with these incredibly addictive sweet treats was on my high school lacrosse team- various team members would bring post-game treats, and one of favorites was the scotcheroo. (Originally, they were covered with a layer of chocolate, but I actually prefer them without now). This recipe is so simple it barely requires an ingredient list and steps, but I'll indulge you.

  • 6 cups Rice Krispie Treats
  • 1 bag of marshmallows (regular-sized big ones)
  • 3 Tbs butter or margarine
  • 3/4 of a bag of butterscotch chips
  1. Melt butter in a large pot over medium-low heat.
  2. Add the marshmallows and continue to melt, stirring occasionally.
  3. When the marshmallows are almost completely melted (they still have a little shape to them but have blended together) add 1/2-3/4 of the bag of butterscotch chips.
  4. Stir until melted, only 1-2 minutes more.
  5. Add in the rice krispies and mix quickly to coat.
  6. Immediately transfer to a greased pan and spread into pan. You may need to wait a few minutes until the mix has cooled a bit to spread it evenly.
Notes: As mentioned, these can be addictive. Cut them in smaller pieces than you usually would, as they are very sweet (but that doesn't stop people from eating them up quickly!) These are a great party addition, and are becoming my new 4th of July staple treat.

Variations: For a while I was drizzling melted chocolate over the top, to stay closer to the original scotcheroo. You can also go all-out and do the full chocolate topping: melt chocolate in a saucepan (baker's chocolate, follow package instructions for sweetening) and spread over the krispie treats in the pan.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Shiitake Mushrooms with Young Pecorino Cheese

From: Bon Appetit Culinary Series, Sur La Table Cooking Class

I didn't think I was going to like this appetizer, since I don't usually go out of my way for mushrooms, and I'm wary of new cheeses. But wow, this is a refreshing change to your usual cheese & cracker app, and has a vibrant, delicious taste that is definitely a good way to start off a cocktail or dinner party.

Serves: 6
  • 7 tsp fresh lemon juice, divided
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 8 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 lemon, peel cut into long thin slivers (yellow part only- avoid cutting into white pith)
  • Coarse kosher salt
  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 1 lb fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, cut into 1/2 inch wide slices or left whole if diameter is smaller than 1 and 1/2 inches
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and flattened
  • 6 ounces of young pecorino cheese (pecorino fresco) or Monterey Jack for milder taste, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley leaves
  1. Whisk 5 tsp lemon juice and the mustard in a small bowl. Gradually whisk in 6 Tbsp of olive oil. Stir in the lemon peel slivers. Season with coarse salt and pepper.
  2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Spray rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray. Toss mushrooms, remaining 2 tsp lemon juice, and 2 Tbsp oil in a large bowl. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet and sprinkle the mushrooms with salt & pepper. Roast for 15 min. Using a spatula, turn the mushrooms over and roast until soft and beginning to brown at edges, about 10 more min.
  3. Remove from oven and pour half of the lemon & mustard dressing over the hot mushrooms. Add the garlic clove and toss to coat. Let cool on the cooking sheet.
  4. Combine the mushrooms, cheese, parsley, and remaining dressing in a medium bowl. Let marinate at least 1 hr and up to 2 hours in the fridge.
  5. Discard the garlic clove and serve with toothpicks.
Notes: Young pecorino is not the same as pecorino toscano or romano, so make sure you get the right kind. If you're like me and aren't sure about your cheeses, ask for a sample- any nice place like Whole Foods or the like will be happy to let you try some. Also, the mushrooms aren't cheap, but you do need the full pound, since they shrink a little while roasting and this appetizer is really about the combination of all the ingredients together. When cutting the lemon, use a small knife, peeling almost like an apple and avoid cutting deeply into the white part of the lemon peel. You want thin strips. It's amazing how good they taste in this combination.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Cauliflower Mousse

From: Spa Cuisine at Home, Chef Nadine, BCAE class

Low in calories in fat, this makes for a healthy, creamy-tasting side that pairs easily with many dishes and is a nice change from your regular-old mashed potatoes.

Serves: 7

  • 1 head of cauliflower (1 quart raw)
  • 6 oz Neufchatel cheese
  • 3 egg whites
  1. Cut the cauliflower into small pieces and steam until just tender to the bite.
  2. In a food processor, combine the egg whites and cheese and blend until smooth.
  3. When the cauliflower is finsihed, add it immediately (while still hot) to the egg & cheese puree in the processor. Puree until smooth and looks like mashed potatoes.
  4. Serve hot.
Notes: It's important to keep the cauliflower hot, since it needs to cook the egg.

Nutrition facts: (per serving): 81 calories, 5g fat (3g saturated fat), 5g protein, 1g fiber, 17mg cholesterol, 4g carbohydrate, 143mg sodium.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Italian White Bean Soup

From: Spa Cuisine at Home, Chef Nadine, BCAE class

Here's another quick, easy, delicious, healthy dish. I love this soup, and it's totally satisfying. Because of the fresh-tasting veggies, I think it works any time of year.

  • 1 big can of GOYA white kidney beans (cannellini work too; 16oz)
  • 1 can water (fill the GOYA can after emptying beans)
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable or olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 1/8 tsp dried thyme
  • 3/4 package of french string beans from Trader Joe's (note: I specify T Joe's here because something about these frozen green beans, and no other, keep them tasting fresh and amazing in this soup. You can also substitute 1 bunch of fresh spinach here, which is what the original recipe calls for. I like the green beans better though.)
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  1. In a large saucepan, heat the oil. Cook onion and celery in the oil for about 5-8 minutes or until tender. Add the garlic and cook about 30 seconds, continually stirring.
  2. Stir in the can of beans. Without rinsing the can, fill it with water and add to the saucepan.
  3. Stir in the pepper, thyme, and additional water if desired for more volume. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat, simmering for 15 minutes.
  4. Add the frozen green beans to the saucepan and cook until thawed.
  5. Stir in lemon juice and remove from heat to serve.
Notes: By not washing the can of beans, you get a creamy flavor to the soup without any actual cream or milk. You can also use vegetable stock if you prefer, but I think you'll be pleasantly surprised at how tasty something so simple can be.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Artichoke Griddle Cakes

From Everyday Greens, by Annie Somerville

I am in love, love, love with Greens Restaurant in San Francisco. It is a vegetarian's dream. The first time I went, it was our one-year wedding anniversary, and I was feeling only slightly guilty my husband had sacrificed yet another night of eating meat to go to a vegetarian place- until I had the best caprise salad of my life (ridiculous tomatoes! amazing balsamic! where did they find this stuff?!), followed by an out-of-this world fresh-corn filled crepe with tons of veggies.... followed by the best lemon dessert in the world... seriously, I cannot gush enough about the food at Greens. The second time we went, it was even better, and my parents AND my husband (none of whom are vegetarians) were all blown away by the freshness, the flavors, the overall just plain delicious food. I actually savored eat bite, literally- and when was the last time you really remembered doing that?

Hmm... so I may have built up this dish a little too high then. My point is, Greens is awesome, so I was inspired to get one of Annie Somerville's cookbooks. I'm certain she would do a much better job than I did at making these tasty little griddle cakes, but it's worth trying your hand at them.

  • 1/2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 medium leeks, white parts only, thinly sliced and washed (about 1 cup)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/4 white wine.....optional: plus a glass or two for yourself while you're cooking :-)
  • 2 lbs of SMALL artichokes, trimmed (3 and 1/2 to 4 cups)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 lb whole milk ricotta cheese (about 1 cup)
  • 3 large eggs, separated (keep both the yolk and the white, in separate bowls)
  • 2-3 ounces Gruyere cheese, grated (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 ounce fresh Parmesan cheese, grated (about 2-3 Tbsp)
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 Tbsp chopped chives
  • 1 Tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1/2 tsp minced lemon zest
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • Vegetable oil for the pan
  1. Prep the little artichokes: Little artichokes are side shoots of the artichoke that are too young to develop a choke inside, so you just need to trim the top and bottom and peel off the tough outer leaves. This can be done ahead of time: just store them in lemon water in the fridge.
  2. Heat the oil in a large saute pan over medium heat and add the leeks, 1/2 tsp salt, and a pinch of pepper. Cook until they begin to soften, about 2-3min. Add the garlic and cook 1 min more.
  3. Pour the wine into the pan with leeks & garlic and cook until pan is nearly dry, about 3min. Add the artichokes and water. Simmer until the artichokes are completely tender, about 10 min. Drain off any excess liquid and set aside to cool.
  4. Once cooled, coarsely chop the artichoke mixture.
  5. Combine the ricotta, egg yolks, cheeses, milk, herbs, lemon zest, and juice in a large bowl. Stir in the artichoke mixture, flour, baking powder, 1/4 tsp salt, and a pinch of pepper.
  6. Whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they form stiff peaks and gently fold them into the batter.
  7. Coat a skillet with vegetable oil. Over medium-high heat, spoon the batter into the pan, allowing about 1/4 cup per cake. Cook for about 3min on each side, until the cakes are lightly browned. Add fresh oil to the pan between batches of cakes.
Notes: So, in case you were thinking of it, no, you cannot use regular-sized artichokes. I tried and failed miserably. I ended up using frozen artichoke hearts instead, which are actually not a bad substitute if you can't find the little artichokes, and a fairly nice time-saver- just be sure to use the correct amount. For the life of me, I could not get those darn egg whites to form stiff peaks, so I finally gave up and just added them to the bowl...which may have led to my next problem: My first batch would not stick together. But, like regular pancakes, the first batch isn't usually the best, so I kept on and ended up getting some nice cakes after that- I think it works best to keep them small and be ready with TWO spatulas to flip when you see little bubbles coming through the top. (I did save the scrambled mess from my first round and had it for lunch the next day, because hey, it still tasted good, and Gruyere cheese isn't cheap). I stored the griddle cakes in a heated oven until ready to serve all of them. Finally, my husband was determined to put something on them, so I suggest some sour cream with fresh chives. Overall, I found this recipe neither quick nor easy- there are a lot of ingredients and some fairly intensive steps-but it was tasty!

Annie has a nice description of how to prep the artichokes in her book (step 1 summarizes her tips). I'm excited to try more recipes from this cookbook (but wary of the culinary skills and ingredients that might be required....)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Corn and Avocado Salad

From: Whole Foods recipes

Another corn salad! This is a slight variation on last week's corn salad recipe, but different enough that it warrants it's own post. My friend Paula introduced it to me, and it was love at first bite. The addition of the avocado gives it a nice hearty but healthy creaminess, while the dressing and cilantro add a fresh bright flavor.

Serves: 4

  • 4 ears of fresh corn, kernels removed from cob
  • 1 cup of halved grape tomatoes
  • 1/2 ripe avocado, diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp champagne vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  1. Steam the corn in a large pot until just tender but still crisp, about 3 min. Cut from cob with large knife.
  2. Whisk together the oil & vinegars, adding the onion.
  3. Combine all ingredients in large bowl and toss to mix well.
Notes: As with the other corn salad, it's all about fresh sweet corn here. Substituting frozen corn won't cut it. The recipe on Whole Foods suggests pairing this with a salmon dish, but since I don't eat salmon, you don't get that recipe here! We paired it with artichoke griddle cakes and it made for a nice meal. Something Mexican-inspired would also work well with this side dish.

Here's another variation: Corn Salad with Beans & Avocado.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Sweet Potato and Parsnip Puree

From: Gourmet Magazine, via Epicurious

Did I mention I love parsnips? This side makes a nice substitute for the much less-healthy but traditional candied yams we always had for Thanksgiving and Christmas growing up. Actually, my husband found this recipe and first made it for Thanksgiving, and when he suggested we nix the candied yams for this dish I was incensed; but, after tasting it, I LOVED it. (So shhh! Don't tell my mom, but for the past 2 years we've been making this dish as a staple side instead of the brown sugar-topped sweet potatoes. But I'll still post the recipe for those later, as they ARE delicious too...) The flavor of the parsnips really comes through in this heavenly whipped dish, making it just a little bit different and exciting.

Serves: 4 (ie, you might as well double it if it's Thanksgiving!)

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 4 parsnips, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
  • 3 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup of whole milk
  • 3 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  1. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add potatoes and parsnips and boil gently until tender, about 12 min. Drain well and transfer to a food processor.
  2. Add butter while the potato/parsnip mix is still hot, and puree until smooth.
  3. Add milk, brown sugar, and salt, and blend well.
  4. Season with pepper to taste and serve.
Notes: The pureeing can be a bit of a time-consuming process to get that smooth consistency, but stick with it- it's worth it. You can prepare this early and reheat it, but I think it's best fresh.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Butternut Squash and Arugula Salad

From: Bon Appetit culinary series, Sur La Table cooking class

This salad is absolutely delicious, a wonderful start or side to a fall meal. Often I find arugula too bitter, but when paired with these ingredients, it's perfect. The roasted butternut squash is amazing.

Serves: 6


  • One 2lb butternut squash, peeled and seeded and cut into 1/2 inch cubes (about 4 and 1/2 to 5 cups)
  • 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • Pinch of dried crushed red pepper
  • Coarse kosher salt
  • 2 Tbsp orange juice
  • 1 and 1/2 Tbsp of walnut oil or other nut oil
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp fresh lemon juice
  • 4 ounces of arugula (about 8 cups lightly packed)
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsley chopped
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate seeds or dried cranberries
  • 2 tsp pomegranate molasses (this is a thick pomegranate syrup that is honestly hard to find- apparently it's in some Middle Eastern markets- ummm....where are they?- and online at - it's delicious, so if you end up finding it, I'd buy some; if not, you can try substituting other items as a dressing- a balsamic vinegrette may work, but it's not as good...)
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Toss squash, olive oil, and crushed red pepper on large rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle with coarse salt. Roast for 15 min. Using spatula, turn squash over. Continue roasting until edges are brown and squash is tender, about 15 more min. Sprinkle with more coarse salt. Note: This can be done 2 hrs ahead, and let stand at room temp.
  2. Whisk orange juice, walnut oil, and lemon juice in a large shallow bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add arugula, walnuts, and pomegranate seeds (or cranberries) and toss to coat.
  3. Spoon the warm or room temperature squash over the salad. Drizzle with the pomegranate molasses and serve.
Notes: I'd actually recommend buying the pomegranate molasses. It's only 5 bucks online, and wow, it really makes the salad. It's a unique ingredient that could be used in other dishes as well to add a nice pop. This is an easy salad to make, with the only real time commitment being the squash. If you're having trouble cutting it, you can cook it a little bit (about 10 min) to soften. Also, note the "do ahead" option if you are having guests over and don't want to be cooking and entertaining.