Archive for the ‘Salad’ Category

Pefect Fall Menu

Fall is my favorite time of the year.  I love the changing leaves, the cool, crisp air, the smell of fireplaces and the sound of football (somewhere in the background).  But the best part about the fall is the food!  Pumpkins and squash and apples and cinnamon – all are fresh and in abundance – and they just smell so good when you cook with them!   Now’s the perfect time to start experimenting with some of these ingredients, and who knows, maybe you’ll find a new recipe for Thanksgiving this year.  So, why not invite a few friends over for the Pefect Fall Dinner and enjoy the best season of the year.

I scoured the web to come up with the Perfect Fall Dinner menu.   Enjoy and send me your favorite fall menus! 


Apple Pear and Walnut Salad 

     source: Sunny Anderson on the Food Network

Side Dish

Risotto with Roasted Butternut Squash (skip the risotto if you’re short on time)

     source: NY Times

Main Dish

Boneless Pork Chops with Apple Chutney (you can easily switch out boneless chicken breasts if you prefer….i do!)

     source: Martha Stewart


Figs with Orange and Ginger

     source: My Recipes



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Hi my friends!  It’s been a long time. Almost a year since my last post. But I’m feeling reinvigorated to start blogging again! Somewhere between moving to the west coast, starting a new job, and having a husband traveling non-stop, I stopped cooking fun, inventive meals. It’s just not as much fun to cook for one! I’ve had many nights of going to yoga class and coming home to eat cereal/ salads for dinner since they don’t require any pots and pans 🙂  But I miss cooking those wonderfully delicious and healthy meals.
Now that I’m back, I’m going to approach this whole blogging thing a little differently. As opposed to always coming up with my own unique recipes, I want to write about some of the best recipes, tools and culinary lessons that inspire me in the kitchen. This week’s inspiration: Kale!
Not only is Kale one of the most nutritious vegetables (read more here about the health benefits), but when prepared right, it’s almost addicting. Really! Tip: remove the stems – always!   Hopefully that’s not where all the good vitamins are, but I find them tough and a little bitter.   Here are 3 of my favorite Kale recipes.

Orecchiette with Kale

I found this recipe in cooking light and it looked so good, I had to give it a try.  When I made this recipe, it was the first time I ever bought kale.  I skipped on the bacon and used cherry tomatoes instead of sun dried.  Both ways I’m sure are delicious.

Orecchiette with Kale, Bacon, and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Kale Chips:

These actually taste like potato chips.  And are definitely addicting.  If you’re serving them at a party, buy an extra head of kale – they will get eaten.   Have fun with the spices and come up with some unique flavors.  Just be careful not to cook too long – they can get a burnt taste.

Picture of Smoky Kale Chips Recipe

Kale Salad

The dressing on this reminds me of a caesar salad – expect it’s better for you!  I even like to add a little Dijon mustard to give it a thicker consistency. Since I discovered this recipe about 3 weeks ago, I’ve been making it at least twice a week.   And it’s from one of my favorite blogs – 101 cookbooks.   Love it!

Raw Kale Salad Recipe

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Guess what?!  We’ve relocated to Southern California, which explains the lack of posts the past two months.  We’re finally getting settled here – it took us awhile to find a place we liked and could afford 🙂  I got a job offer with Oakley (yes, the sunglass company) and Joe and I decided to take the plunge and move.  So far we love it here!  I did miss the fall in Connecticut, but not enough to go through another winter.    We moved to Corona del Mar and are about a block from the beach – doesn’t get any better.  One of my favorite parts about living here is I can walk to a really great farmers market EVERY Saturday ALL year long.  How awesome is that?!  And the produce at the grocery stores here is way better than anywhere else I’ve lived.

So, Joe’s traveling again – he’s in China for a month.  When he’s gone I usually don’t cook big meals.  It’s not as much fun to cook for one!  I have very little in my fridge right now, and really wasn’t expecting this meal to be very good – I’m not sure I’ve ever made stuffed portabella mushrooms before.  Lucky me, I didn’t have to revert to cereal because this meal was awesome.  I’ll probably make it again tomorrow for dinner.  If you’re ever having lunch for your girlfriends – this would be a perfect choice.  Hearty, but not too filling.



Baby portabella mushrooms (as many as you’d like; 2-3 pp)

Mixed Romaine

Shredded Mozzarella cheese

Reduced fat feta cheese

Chopped sundried tomatoes

Extra virgin olive oil (for dressing and cooking)

White Balsamic Vinegar

Dijon Mustard

Salt/ Pepper to taste


1)  Make the dressing.  Combine a squeeze of dijon, white balsamic vinegar and a dash of salt pepper.  Whisk together then mix in olive oil.  I was making this for one, but usually when I make salad dressing I use a 1/3, 2/3 ratio of vinegar to oil.

2)  Clean the mushrooms. Use a spoon to scoop out the flesh.

3)  Combine mozzarella, feta, and sundried tomatoes (herbs would be great addition, but didn’t have any on hand).  Drizzle a little of the dressing in each mushroom then fill with the cheese mixture.  Reserve the rest of the dressing to toss with the mixed romaine.


4)  Preheat broiler to Hi.  Heat olive oil in skillet and add mushrooms to hot pan.  Sautee for 2 minutes.  Add to oven for 3-5 minutes until cheese starts to melt.


5)  To serve, you can either pre-slice the mushrooms or keep the whole.  For presentation purposes, it looks better to keep them whole!

I love the size of the baby portabella mushrooms, and personally I like the texture better than the regular kind.  Hope you like them as much as I did!  ENJOY!


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With Labor Day right around the corner, summer is soon coming to a close!  But what better way to end the summer with some delicious new ways of eating sweet corn?  It’s easy to find right now, so get it while you can.  I came up with the combination for this recipe because they are three of my husband’s favorite foods – corn (he’s from Indiana), lima beans, and potatoes.  This is a really an incredible dish, and I paired it with some delicious scallops.  Stay tuned for that recipe tomorrow – they taste great with this fresh, summer salad.  I thought about adding black beans, feta, and basil at different points along the way, but it tasted so good, I didn’t want to mess it up.  They could be worth a try though.


2 ears of corn – de-cobbed (is that a word?!)

1/2 cup lima beans (I used frozen and thawed them out)

Fingerling Potatoes – diced into 1 in. pieces (as many as you’d like)

1 Leek – thinly sliced and soaked in water

1 clove garlic minced

1 Tbs Dijon mustard

2 Tbs. lemon juice

2-3 Tbs. Olive Oil (for dressing)

Salt/ Pepper to taste



1)  Bring saute pan to medium/ high heat.  Add 1-2 tbs. olive oil and saute the garlic and diced potatoes for 8-10 minutes or until almost cooked through.  Salt/ Pepper to taste.

2)  Add the lima beans, corn, and leeks to the mixture.  Add a little more salt/ pepper – it’s always good to season as you cook so you can adjust along the way.  You might also need to add a little more olive oil if you need more moisture.

3)  Meanwhile, prepare the dijon vinaigrette.  Whisk the Dijon and the lemon juice, then slowly add the olive oil until it emulsifies.  I try not to add too much olive oil, since there’s already some in the veggies.

4)  After the potatoes, beans, and corn have cooked for 10-15 minutes, remove from heat and add the Dijon vinaigrette.  Toss and enjoy!

To see the final dish come together – check out my scallops later this week!

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Watermelon Salad

I’ve been making this salad for years and really can’t get enough of it during the summer!  I think I found it in a Coastal Living magazine, but now you see versions of this everywhere.  This one really is the best though – the watermelon is so refreshing and the light lemon vinaigrette is the perfect pairing.  All you need is a nice glass of white wine and you can make this a meal! 


Chopped Watermelon

1 bunch parsley roughly chopped – about 2 to 3 Tbs.

1 Tbs mint, chopped – (optional, I usually hold on the mint, but some people love it)

2-3 cups arugula or mixed green lettuce

1 handful walnuts or pine nuts toasted

1 red onion sliced in half moons

Feta cheese

2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

Lemon Juice

Salt to taste


1)  To make vinaigrette, whisk lemon juice, olive oil, and salt until emulsified. 

2)  Layer the remaining ingredients in a large salad bowl and drizzle the dressing on top.

Serve and Enjoy!

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My mom and sister just went to Giada’s book signing today in Arlington, VA – so jealous!!!  I’ve been a huge fan of hers ever since I returned from my summer in Italy in 2003 and fell in love with cooking.  I think I started watching her show during her second season on the food network.  Eventually I just started watching everyone on the food network – but Giada was the first 🙂  This mediterranean cous-cous salad is not a Giada recipe, but she did inspire me to use some of her favorite ingredients:  grilled eggplant, lemons, basil and parsley, and of course good extra virgin olive oil.  If you don’t have cous-cous, whole wheat pasta will work too.


  • 1 small eggplant cut into 1 in. rings
  • 10 medium size shrimp (I got lucky and found wild gulf shrimp)
  • 1/2 bag spinach
  • 2/3 cup Cous-cous (for 2 servings)
  • 4-5 basil leaves (lay them flat on top of each other, roll, then thinly slice)
  • 1 handful parsley, minced
  • feta cheese
  • 1 lemon
  • pita bread – toasted with olive oil, salt, and pepper
  • Olive Oil
  • red wine vinegar


1)  Cook cous-cous according to directions.

2)  Toss shrimp and eggplant with olive oil, salt, pepper.  Grill eggplant on medium/ high heat for 2 minutes per side (until you see grill marks).  Once cooked, roughly chop into 1 in. pieces.  Grill shrimp for 2-3 minutes per side – depending on the size of the shrimp (ours were huge!).

3)  Toast pita bread (sliced in wedges) with olive oil, salt, and pepper in 400 degree oven for about 8-10 minutes.  Keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t burn

4)  Begin layering salad.  Place spinach on the bottom, then add couscous, eggplant, shrimp, herbs, feta, lemon juice, 2 tbs. olive oil, a splash of red wine vinegar, salt and pepper to taste.

Buon Appetito!

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Looking for something light and refreshing?  Then this is your perfect salad!   It’s not something I would typically make during the winter – but the fruits just looked so good at the grocery store.  The flavors of the fennel, citrus, and walnuts all come together – the tartness of the citrus really balances out the licorice taste of the fennel.  And walnuts add the perfect crunch.  Pair this with grilled chicken or seafood or serve on it’s own – it would be a really great and healthy meal for lunch too.


1 Orange

1 Red Grapefruit

1 Blood Orange

1/2 lemon for juice

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup Sliced fennel

1/4 cup sliced walnuts

1/2 Tbs. butter

Spoonful of sugar

Arugula or Mixed Greens


1)  Segment the oranges and grapefruit and place in bowl.  To do this, cut in between the membranes (white parts).  Reserve the remaining fruit and squeeze juice into separate bowl along with lemon juice.  Whisk in the olive oil until emulsified.

2)  Thinly slice fennel and add to bowl with fruit.

3)  To prepare candied walnuts, melt butter and sugar in small saucepan over medium heat.  Add walnuts, coat with butter, and toast for 2-3 minutes.

4) Place fruit/ fennel on top salad and then spoon juices over salad.  Finish with toasted walnuts.

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