Here’s my 2nd recipe that has 5 ingredients or less. It’s an arugula salad with fresh oranges and sliced fennel. I served this salad for my hubby’s birthday along with Fileno al Mirtillo and gnocchi with white wine sauce. I love arugula — I love the peppery flavor, I love how it looks, I love everything about it (sorry, I’m obsessed). Can you tell it’s my favorite type of salad green? Because of its strong flavor, you don’t need to add a lot of accompaniments to it. I like to add orange slices and fennel especially because I love the anise flavor that the fennel adds and the citrus freshness that the oranges add. For the dressing, I keep it simple and use a very good extra virgin olive oil with some fresh lemon juice. Add a touch of sea salt and some fresh cracked pepper and this salad is perfection. It’s simple and yes, only has 5 ingredients, so enjoy!
- 4 cups arugula
- 1 navel orange, peeled and slices halved
- 1/2 bulb fennel, sliced thinly
- 2-3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to season
- Mix arugula, oranges, and fennel in a bowl.
- Drizzle olive oil and lemon juice over salad and mix thoroughly.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
This cranberry and pineapple relish is one of my family’s favorite recipes to make every Thanksgiving. I honestly don’t even know where we found this recipe, but it’s delicious and has been one of our Thanksgiving staples. What’s great about this dish is that you can make it a day ahead and just store in your refrigerator until you’re ready to eat.
Last night I was hankering for something sweet, so I pulled a little bowl of this stuff out and topped it with some whipped topping. I added some lemon zest and almonds to the whipped topping for some extra citrus flavor and crunch. It was delicious and very dessert-like, so if you’re looking to go the sweeter route and serve this as a dessert, you have the option!
What’s your favorite cranberry relish recipe to make?
- 1 12oz. package of fresh cranberries
- 1/2 cup sugar
- Water to cover cranberries (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 1 tsp orange zest
- 1 3oz. package of raspberry gelatin
- 1 can of crushed pineapple, with juice
- whipped cream (optional)
- nuts for sprinkling (optional)
- In a saucepan, combine cranberries, sugar, zests, and water, and bring mixture to a boil. When mixture comes to a boil, turn heat down and boil until cranberries pop (about 8-10 minutes).
- Pour cranberry mixture into a baking dish or deep casserole dish and add the crushed pineapple with juice, stirring to combine.
- Sprinkle the packet of gelatin over the cranberry mixture, stirring to combine thoroughly.
- Cover and refrigerate until set.*
- Top relish with whipped topping and sprinkle with nuts.
*Please Note: This relish will not set as firmly as a jello mold. If you’re looking for a jello consistency, add more gelatin.
In an effort to eat less red meat and more lean proteins and seafood, I decided to purchase some salmon fillets for a nice mid-week meal. Salmon is such a versatile fish that can be cooked multiple ways. I sometimes forget I own a grill pan, so I decided to create a sweet and spicy rub and then grill my fillets. What to serve my salmon with? Well, the options are endless, but salmon with lentils du Puy is a popular French dish that I decided to do a spin-off of. I made my lentils with a Dijon mustard vinaigrette. They came out tender and delicious and were perfect underneath my sweet and spicy rubbed salmon!
What’s your favorite way to prepare salmon fillets and/or lentils?
- 3/4 cup lentils
- 1/2 small onion, chopped
- 2 tbsp red-wine vinegar
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp grainy Dijon mustard
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley
- Sea salt and ground pepper for seasoning
- Combine lentils and 2 1/2 cups water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, covered, 5 minutes.
- Add onion, cover, and continue cooking until lentils and onions are just tender, 15-25 minutes.
- Drain, reserving the cooking liquid and transfer lentils to a bowl.
- In another bowl, whisk 2 tbsp reserved cooking liquid with vinegar, oil, mustard, garlic, and parsley and season with salt and pepper. Toss the dressing with the lentil mixture.
- Serve salmon atop the lentils.
Salmon Rub Ingredients:
- 2 tbsp dark brown sugar
- 1 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp ground black pepper
- 4 salmon fillets
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Coat a grill or grill pan with cooking spray and preheat over medium heat.
- While the grill is heating, combine the brown sugar, chili powder, cumin, salt, and pepper.
- Brush each fillet with the oil and then rub each fillet with the spice mixture, coating both sides.
- Grill the salmon, flesh side down, until charred, 4-5 minutes.
- Flip the salmon and cook another 5-6 minutes for medium doneness. For well done fish, cook another 1-2 minutes.
- Serve salmon over a bed of lentils.
My mother-in-Lawlor gave me the wonderful idea of “sun-drying” part of my 30 lb. patch of tomatoes in the oven. I cut up my tomatoes and placed them on an ungreased baking sheet. I put my oven on the lowest heat possible, which was 170 degrees, and I left the tomatoes in there for about 7.5 hours. You’ll see the tomatoes start to shrivel up and resemble those expensive, sun-dried tomatoes that you can purchase in the grocery store. After finishing baking them, I placed them in a quart-sized mason jars along with 4 cloves of garlic and about 1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil. The garlic and olive oil will give the tomatoes an added boost of flavor as well as keep them moist.
There’s endless possibilities of what you can use your sun-dried tomatoes for. My husband was kind enough to bake us a pizza (homemade dough) with mozzarella, sun-dried tomatoes, and basil for dinner last night since I was not feeling well. It came out beautifully and the sun-dried tomatoes gave the pizza an added boost of flavor as well as texture. This is so easy… definitely try this out if you have an excess of tomatoes that you need to use up!
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.
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.
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.
I recently spotted some dandelion greens at the farmer’s market and decided to give them a try. Dandelion greens are very nutritional, much like spinach, kale, or chard. They have a bitter taste to them, so when you cook them, you have to offset their bitterness with something rich like cream, cheese, yogurt, etc… I found a wonderful recipe for Dandelion Greens Gratin from Fine Cooking and adapted a few of the ingredients including substituting plain yogurt with heavy cream and mozzarella cheese with goat cheese. I had every intention of using goat cheese, but the horrible, rotten, no-good, under-par grocery store closest to my house did not even carry goat cheese (do you believe that?). Since this recipe is Italian in nature with olive oil, breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, etc… I decided to improvise and use another Italian, semi-soft cheese. Hope you enjoy!
- 1/2 tsp. unsalted butter
- 1 lb. dandelion greens (about 1 large bunch)
- 1 c breadcrumbs
- 3 Tbs. plus 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan
- 1/2 c mozzarella cheese
- 1-1/3 c plain yogurt
- 2 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
- 1/4 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Salt for seasoning
- Heat the oven to 375 degrees and spray an oven dish with cooking spray.
- Fill a pot three-quarters full with water, add 2 tsp. salt, and bring to a boil over high heat.
- Trim the greens of their lower stems and submerge the leaves in a large bowl of water, swishing to release any grit. Transfer directly to the boiling water and cook until tender, 3 to 5 minutes.
- Taste a leaf after 3 minutes; if it’s still tough or stiff, cook for 1 or 2 minutes more.
- Drain and spread the greens out on a rimmed baking sheet lined with a clean dishtowel to steam and release moisture, 10 to 15 minutes. Use the dishtowel to gently wring the greens and get rid of any remaining moisture.
- In a small bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, 3 Tbs. of the Parmesan, and a pinch of salt.
- In a 2-quart saucepan over medium-high heat, bring the yogurt and garlic to a boil, about 5 minutes. As soon as the mixture has come to a vigorous boil (but before it boils over), remove the pan from the heat and let sit for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Add the lemon zest and season with 1/4 tsp. salt and a few grinds of pepper.
- Transfer the greens to a cutting board and chop them coarsely. Put them in a large mixing bowl and add the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan and the mozzarella cheese. Using your fingers, mix well. Spread the mixture in the prepared gratin dish.
- Pour on the yogurt and stir gently with a spoon to distribute evenly. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Top the gratin evenly with the breadcrumbs. Please note: there will be a lot of liquid; some of the crumbs will dissolve in it. The liquid will reduce in the oven and the top crumbs will get crisp.
- Bake the gratin until the crumbs are browned and the liquid has reduced below the crumb level, about 30 minutes. Serve warm.