I am not a picky eater and will eat just about everything…. except one disgusting little condiment called mayonnaise. I’ve never liked mayo; even when I was little, I always preferred mustard on sandwiches. When I studied abroad in Italy, there was no mayo to be found anywhere, and I couldn’t have been happier. With that being said, I had 4 large russet potatoes that I needed to get rid of. I decided to make a lemon potato salad based on a recipe from Gourmet magazine. I substituted the mayo with plain yogurt. I also added a little grainy Dijon mustard. Enjoy!
- 4 large russet potatoes
- 1 cup chopped celery (about 4 ribs)
- 1 1/2 cup plain, fat free yogurt
- 1/2 cup chopped chives
- 1 tsp grated lemon zest
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 2 tbsp course ground Dijon mustard
- 1 tsp sugar
- salt and pepper to taste
- Cover potatoes with water in a large pot and season well with salt. Bring to a boil, then simmer until tender, 12-20 minutes.
- While potatoes cook, stir together celery, yogurt, chives, lemon zest and juice, sugar, salt, and pepper in a large bowl.
- Drain potatoes and cool completely, then roughly chop into cubes. Add to dressing and toss to coat.
This past weekend my hubby was in Boston, so I decided to grab my puppy and head home for a short visit with my parents. Besides running away from the unbearable heat that DC has been having, I was able to spend some quality time with my parents, enjoy beautiful central NY, and pick over 5 pounds of my favorite fruit… raspberries. For $17.80 I got 4 large quarts worth of fresh picked raspberries from Navarino Orchards. On the drive back home (about 15 minutes away), I had my mom stop the car so I could take some pictures of the countryside that is not only idyllic, but also indicative of what I love about central NY. (Ironically, the farm that I’ve taken pictures of below is owned and operated by my parents’ former high school classmate.) What I love about raspberries, or any berry for that matter, is that they are perfectly delicious by themselves with a little sugar and milk. In fact, that’s the way I remember eating them when I was little, so playing off that idea, I came up with raspberry risotto. This is basically the fancy name for raspberry rice pudding; I just liked the alliteration. Hope you had a wonderful weekend and enjoy this recipe!
- 1 14 oz can lite coconut milk
- 1/4 cup skim milk
- 3/4 cup Arborio rice
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1 cup fresh raspberries
- 2 tbsp shredded coconut
- sprinkle of ground cinnamon
- In a large saucepan, bring milks and 1 cup water to boil over medium-high heat.
- Stir in rice, cinnamon stick, and sugar. Reduce heat to low and gently simmer, stirring frequently, until rice is tender and mixture is creamy, about 30 minutes.
- Remove from heat and discard cinnamon stick. Add raspberries and coconut until they are fully mixed in. (Don’t worry if the raspberries start to break up and run… It will make your rice pudding look prettier.)
- Garnish with ground cinnamon and more fresh raspberries
- Serve hot or chilled
I always crave something sweet after dinner. Having fresh blueberries on hand as well as some coconut, I decided to make a refreshing and healthy smoothie. I used flax seeds to give myself a little fiber boost as well as a bit of crunchiness. The coconut added a bit of sweetness and texture too. Serve this chilled or over ice – an easy and healthy after-dinner dessert!
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt
- 1 1/4 cup skim milk
- 1 cup blueberries
- 1 tsp honey
- 1 tbsp flax seeds (optional)
- 2 tbsp shredded coconut
- fresh mint to garnish
- Blend all ingredients together until smooth and serve over ice
- Garnish with fresh mint
Back in March of this year, I decided to make my own vanilla extract. I love to bake and this is one of those staple ingredients that you always need when baking. Pure vanilla extract is not cheap either, so I decided to make some of my own. I let mine sit for 4 months because the longer the vanilla sits, the stronger the extract becomes. Also, the quality of the vodka determines the quality of the extract. While you don’t have to use anything expensive and extravagant like Grey Goose, you don’t want to use anything cheap either. Something in the middle is suitable for making your own extract; I used Smirnoff and was very happy with the taste of my extract. This made 1 cup of extract which is equivalent to 48 teaspoons – roughly enough to last me 6 months if I average 2 teaspoons per week. Enjoy!
- 1 cup vodka
- 2 large-sized vanilla beans or 3 medium-sized ones
- 1 mason jar
- Sterilize the mason jar with boiling water and allow to dry
- Slice the vanilla beans lengthwise and place in jar
- Cover the beans with the vodka
- Seal the mason jar and shake a few times
- Store the jar in a cool cabinet
- Shake the jar 1-2 times per week to release the seeds of the vanilla beans
- Store for at least 2 months or longer
- At the end of the storage period, strain the vanilla extract through cheesecloth or a strainer and store in a tight jar
My best friend, Dr. CET, just started her first year as a resident in the windy city of Chicago. She is working arduous hours (i.e. 30-hour days). Yes, you read that correctly; she is working 30-hour days. Her first night on call, she slept a whopping 20 minutes. Because her schedule is so demanding, when she does get to go home, she doesn’t have the energy to cook dinner (Umm can’t say I blame her!). She asked me if I could send her some of my recipes that are quick and easy to make. After having worked an 8-hour day and feeling quite tired myself (this is quite lame compared to my friend’s tedious schedule), I made apricot and mint couscous. Couscous is easy to make and it literally cooks in 5 minutes. If you don’t care for the apricot and mint combination, substitute it with tomatoes and basil. You can eat this hot or cold too. Enjoy!
- 1 3/4 cups water
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp honey
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1 1/2 cup couscous (I used Israeli couscous from Trader Joe’s, but any kind is fine)
- 4 fresh apricots
- 3 tbsp chopped fresh mint
- 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Cut the apricots into a small dice and set aside
- In a saucepan, bring water, oil, honey, and cumin to a boil and stir in couscous.
- Immediately remove the pan from heat, add the apricots to the couscous, and let stand, covered for 5 minutes.
- Fluff couscous with a fork and stir in mint, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste.
- Serve warm or chilled.
Urban centers have been inundated with numerous food trucks that drive around the city stopping at varying locations delivering everything from homemade cupcakes to Salvadorian papusas. Food stands are not anything new to cities; hot dog stands have canvassed New York City for years. However, there is a recent transformation in the typical food truck. Farming trucks have now ingeniously come into existence; in NYC, there is a farm truck that distributes its CSA (community supported agriculture) to those individuals who subscribe to it. Normally, farmers drop their CSAs off at a pre-determined spot each week, and the person buying the CSA generally does not have any say as to what kinds of produce or how much they are getting each week. However, the Farm Truck, powered by Holton Farms, has a “fresh direct-like approach, allowing its subscribers to order whatever products are available, in whatever quantity desired, on the Web site up to 36 hours ahead of pickup.”
While this Farm Truck has not got the license to sell its produce to passersby in NYC, it is working on eventually being able to do that. Being able to sell fresh produce to passersby is a wonderful idea; I work in downtown Washington, DC, and yesterday I had a wonderful salad for lunch. But it was not enough, and I was craving some fresh fruit. However, there aren’t any grocery stores or supermarkets close by that I can walk to buy fresh produce. Once a week, we have a small farmer’s market that sets up shop around the corner (thank goodness for that), but the other 4 days of the week I am out of luck. I am stuck going hungry at work or stopping by a CVS for an unhealthy, processed snack. For now, the CSA concept of being able to pick and choose which products you want that week is a brilliant idea. While I have not seen any of these Farm Trucks in DC yet, I am sure there are local farmers working on implementing this idea as we speak. I look forward to that.
I have two different types of mint plants outside on my back deck. They are getting huge with all this sunshine and heat the DC area has been having lately. I also have some frozen raspberries that my mom had picked and brought down for me when she was here last weekend. With them, I decided to make raspberry mint muffins from a W&S Muffin recipe book. The recipe was originally for blackberry muffins with a different type of topping. I decided to make a few changes to this recipe including adding some mint. These muffins came out looking and tasting wonderfully; the mint added a nice refreshing pop and the raspberries and brown sugar streusel topping added a wonderful sweetness. These are perfect with any type of fresh, summer berry. Enjoy!
- 1/4 c flour
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- 1/4 tsp cinnamon
- 2 tbsp cold, unsalted butter
- 2 c flour
- 3/4 c sugar
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1⁄2 tsp baking soda
- 1⁄2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 tbsp lemon zest
- 2 tbsp fresh mint, finely minced
- 1⁄4 tsp salt
- 1 egg, beaten
- 5 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 2 cups fresh raspberries or 2 1⁄2 cups frozen
unsweetened raspberries, unthawed
- Preheat an oven to 375°F. Grease 12 standard muffin cups with nonstick cooking spray or tin liners
- To make the topping, stir together the flour, sugars, and cinnamon. With a fork or two knives, cut the butter into the mix until pea-size crumbles form. Set aside.
- To make the muffins, in a bowl, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, mint, lemon zest and salt.
- Make a well in the center and add the egg, melted butter and yogurt. Stir just until evenly moistened. The batter will be slightly lumpy.
- Gently fold in the raspberries with a spatula just until evenly distributed.
- Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling each to a bit above the rim of the cup. Top each muffin with the streusel topping.
- Bake until the muffins are golden and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 25-30 minutes.
- Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes. Makes 12 muffins.
I made pineapple bars for two of my fellow co-workers‘ birthdays. They were really easy to make and came out very moist and yummy. The simple glaze on the top gives the bar an added boost of pineapple flavor. This recipe is quick and easy to transport to work (i.e. on the Metro). For next time, I might try adding some coconut and maybe even some white chocolate chips. I like using the crushed pineapple since it evenly distributes pineapple throughout the bars, so you get a little bit in each bite. Enjoy!
- 2 c flour
- 1 1/2 c quick or old-fashioned oats
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 c unsalted butter, softened
- 1 c packed brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 2 tbsp milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 can (20 oz.) crushed pineapple, well drained
- confectioners sugar
- pineapple juice
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Mix the flour, oats, and baking soda together.
- In a separate bowl, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Stir in eggs, milk and vanilla until well combined.
- Gradually stir in flour mixture until thoroughly mixed.
- Stir in crushed pineapple until just mixed.
- Pour into greased 13×9-inch baking pan.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
- Allow to cool.
- Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, gradually add pineapple juice, 1-2 tbsp at a time, to the confectioner’s sugar until a smooth glaze forms.
- When the bars have completely cooled, drizzle pineapple glaze over the bars and allow to cool.
This past weekend for my sister’s 30th birthday party, I made my mom’s infamous Acini di Pepe recipe (pronounced ahh-chee-nee-dee-pep-eh). Acini di Pepe is actually the name of the pasta that you use in this recipe. Acini di Pepe in Italian means pepperberry or peppercorns. If you look at this pastina (tiny pasta) up close, you’ll see it is extremely small and does indeed look like small peppercorns. Acini di Pepe is traditionally used for soups, but my mom has been making this dessert dish for as long as I can remember. Summer does not officially begin for me until this dish is passed around at a cookout or a party. Someone at the party asked me what this dish is, and I had a very difficult time explaining. The best I can compare this dish to is some sort of ambrosia salad, but infinitely better. While this dish might look very peculiar, you have to take my word for it and just try it. It’s absolutely amazing – light and sweet and perfect for summer. Enjoy!
- 1 Box Acini di Pepe (2 brands I know make this are De Cecco & Wegmans)
- 2 small cans of mandarin oranges
- 1 can pineapple chunks
- 1 jar maraschino cherries
- 12 oz. Cool Whip
- 3/4 c sugar
- 3 Tbsp corn starch
- 2 eggs, beaten
- Cook pasta according to directions, drain, and rinse with cold water. Set aside
- Open the canned fruit, strain the juices, and set the fruit aside.
- Add the juices from the mandarin oranges, pineapple, and cherries to a small pan along with the sugar, cornstarch and beaten eggs
- Over medium heat, stir the juice mixture until it becomes thick
- Pour the thickened juice over the pasta and mix well
- Add the fruit and Cool Whip and mix
- Refrigerate and serve cold
In lieu of the plethora of barbeques that will be taking place this 4th of July weekend, I wanted to share with you two recipes that I made for my sister and brother-in-law that are perfect for any picnic or party. I made a Mexican spice rub for a pork tenderloin that I then grilled and served with mango pineapple salsa. I also grilled the pineapple making this a delicious and refreshing meal; perfect for the summer. Try the rub with pork, beef, or even turkey. Ribs would be wonderful for this rub as well. Enjoy and have a wonderful 4th of July!
- 4 pineapple rings
- 1 mango, diced
- 1 jalapeno, minced
- 1/2 small red onion, diced
- 1/4 c cilantro, roughly chopped
- 1 tbsp fresh oregano, roughly chopped
- 1 lime, juiced
- salt & pepper to season
- Over a hot grill or grill pan, grill the pineapple rings for 2 minutes on each side
- Set pineapple aside to cool
- Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and mix
- Dice the pineapple rings and add to the mix
- Refrigerate for 15 minutes
- Serve cool over pork tenderloin or other meat
Mexican Spice Rub
- 2 tbsp cumin
- 2 tbsp paprika
- 2 tbs oregano
- 2 tbsp Cajun seasoning*
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- Combine all spices and store in a tight container
*If you do not have Cajun seasoning, use 2 tbsp chili powder and 2 tsp of cayenne instead.