Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Simple Arugula Salad & Spaghetti Squash Dinner

While at the Sarasota Farmers Market I found bunches of beautiful organic arugula and the prettiest spaghetti squash one could hope for.  As I was choosing tomatoes it came to me that I had a small container of marinara sauce in the freezer that would be an ideal topping for the squash. So a sweet little dinner was decided upon right there on Saturday morning, before I’d even sat down for coffee and a croissant at C’est la Vie Café!  Don’t you love it when things just come together like that!
I simply washed the arugula, sliced the tomatoes and drizzled them with Extra Virgin Olive Oil, a few drops of Balsamic Vinegar and gave them a light sprinkle of salt and pepper.  That’s all you have to do when you have flavorful arugula; serving it this way really celebrates the arugulas peppery bite!
The spaghetti squash was just as easy as the salad; cut the squash in half and clean out the seeds while the oven is preheating to 375. Spray a baking sheet with non stick spray or coat with oil and place the cut halves face down and bake until done.  This will depend on the size and age of your squash; mine was quite small and very fresh so it took just less than 45 minutes.
When the squash is done, use a fork to scrape out the interior, top that with your favorite marinara sauce, sprinkle with fresh grated parmesan and voila! Dinner is done!

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Auntie Mame Chicken Salads

Thinking Chicken Salad is just something rather blah to do with leftover chicken?
Well think again; after a makeover, a new wardrobe and a few jewels, chicken salad will never be the same again! The movie Auntie Mame was inspiration to take something mature (ok old) and reinvent with a new spirit!
Here is Florida the weather is usually sunny and warm; ok sunny, hot and humid is really more like it!  Hurricane season is especially damp and you really don’t want to spend too much time heating up the kitchen so something cool for dinner is often the best choice.  So thinking Auntie Mame style, I’ve added fruit, nuts and spices to give you flavors and textures sure to please.  Hope these two chicken Auntie Mame salads get you too thinking out of the box and adding YOUR favorite flavors!

Auntie Mame Chicken Salad:
2 cups cooked chicken chopped
1 cup seedless grapes
½ cup chopped walnuts
½ cup mayo
¼ cup sour cream
2 tablespoons lemon juice
4 ripe tomatoes centers removed
Mix together all ingredients except tomato
Stuff tomatoes with chicken salad and serve 
Auntie Mame goes on Vacation (Sliders):
1 cup cooked chicken chopped
½ cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons lime juice
¼ cup chopped pecans
1 teaspoon curry

1 tablespoon honey

1 1/4 teaspoon ginger
3 roma   tomatoes
Slice tomatoes from top to bottom making three little boats to hold the chicken salad
Mix together all ingredients except tomatoes
Top tomatoes with chicken salad and serve

Here is the video of Auntie Mame Chicken Salads!  Hope you enjoy!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Lasagna Silvia

My dear friend Silvianne has been a vegetarian her entire life. She admits to being in her fifties and has never tasted meat, fish or chicken!  Whenever Silvianne and her husband were invited to dinner I made something special befitting her dietary requirements and named every dish after her; hence the name Lasagna Silvia.  But the uniqueness of this lasagna does not end there!  The ‘lasagna noodles’ are actually strips of thinly sliced zucchini and tomato sauce has been replaced with Pacific Natural Foods Organic Creamy Tomato Soup.
The delicate flavors of lightly sautéed portabella mushrooms, zucchini noodles and chopped spinach are complimented and enhanced by the refined natural flavor of the Creamy Tomato Soup.  Together they create a little bit of heaven called Lasagna Silvia.
1 medium sweet onion finely chopped
4 tablespoons virgin olive oil
8 ounces portabella mushroom sliced
2 tablespoons butter
16 ounces frozen spinach thawed and drained well
3 zucchini
30 ounces ricotta cheese
2 eggs
2 cups mozzarella cheese
½ cup grated parmesan
1 quart Pacific Natural Foods Organic Creamy Tomato Soup

      1. Pre heat oven to 350 degrees
2.       Coat a 9X12 Lasagna pan with non stick spray
3.       Drain ricotta cheese in a sieve while preparing onions and mushrooms.
4.       On medium heat, sauté onion on  in 2 tablespoons virgin olive oil until translucent; about 10 minutes. Transfer to large mixing bowl.
5.       In a large frying pan over medium/high heat sauté portabella mushrooms in 2 tablespoons butter and 2 tablespoons olive oil until softened; about 5 minutes.  Add to the onions.
6.       Beat the two eggs and mix with the ricotta cheese.
7.       Mix the ricotta egg mixture into, onions and mushrooms and then the well drained spinach.
8.       Thinly slice 3 zucchini lengthwise to create noodles.
9.       Cover the bottom of the lasagna pan with 1/4th of the Pacific Natural Foods Organic Creamy Tomato Soup.
10.   Place a layer of zucchini noodles in the lasagna pan, slightly overlapping them.
11.   Spread 1/3 of the ricotta, mushroom, spinach mixture across the zucchini.
12.   Sprinkle with 1/4 of the mozzarella cheese.
13.   Repeat the layers two more times.
14.   Top with the tomato soup and sprinkle the last of the mozzarella across the lasagna.  
15.   Finish by topping the lasagna with the parmesan cheese; you will have a 2 cheese top.
16.   Coat aluminum foil with non stick spray and cover the lasagna to keep the cheese from getting too dark.
17.   Bake for 1 hour, then uncover and bake for 15 minutes more.
18.   Let lasagna rest for 15 to 20 minutes prior to serving.
I have entered this recipe in a Chef's challenge.  Here is the link if you would like to vote for Lasagna Silvia: http://everydaychefchallenge.com/recipe-gallery/?round=2

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

No Cook Salmon

Years ago my neighbor in France came to the edge of the fence with a platter of fresh tuna that her husband had caught that very morning.  The tuna was beautifully presented lolling in a bath of fresh lemon juice and little red jewels bedecked each thin slice.  It was absolutely the best tuna I had ever tasted.
We have since adopted this super simple method of preparation as our family favorite and we feast often on salmon or tuna done this way.
1 pound salmon or tuna fillet; as thick as possible
1 lemon
1 T. Baies de Rose
3 Sprigs Fresh Dill
Sprinkle of Salt & Pepper
Drizzle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Thinly slice the salmon on the diagonal and place on serving platter.  Do not overlap slices.
Squeeze the lemon juice over the salmon slices; this will actually cook the salmon.
Sprinkle with the Baies de Rose.
Top with fresh dill sprigs.
Sprinkle with Salt & Pepper.
Drizzle with olive oil.
Cover with cling film and refrigerate for 45 minutes to an hour. This is very flexible; you can make this a number of hours ahead if you wish and it will still be fantastic!
Serve over a green salad or with slices of crusty French bread.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Fresh Corn Muffins

Muffins, muffins and more muffins.
Savory muffins are my favorite.  Cheesy and flavorful, yet still light and fluffy; that’s how I like them best. So when I was at the farmers market in downtown Sarasota and found wonderful fresh ears of corn it seemed the perfect time to make fresh corn muffins.
Most corn muffin recipes call for corn meal but I prefer lighter muffins.  Using white flour instead gives you a light springy muffin every time and I stick with self rising flour; just saves a bit of time.  Cheese wise, pre grated mozzarella and cheddar are readily available and another wonderful time saver!
Muffins really are so easy to whip up, 10 minutes at the most and can be in the oven baking while you get everything else ready and they add so much love to your family dinner table!
2 Cups Self Rising Flour
1 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
2 Tablespoons Chopped Fresh Sage
1 ½ Cups Grated Mozzarella
½ Cup Grated Cheddar
2 Ears Fresh Corn Removed From Cob
¼ Cup (1/2 Stick) Butter
1 Cup Buttermilk
2 Eggs
In a large mixing bowl combine Flour, salt, garlic powder, sage, mozzarella, cheddar and corn and mix well with wooden spoon.
In a small mixing bowl melt butter in microwave then add buttermilk and eggs and beat with a whisk until well mixed.
Pour the liquid into the dry ingredients and stir 15-18 times JUST until ingredients are moistened.  Do not over mix.
Use an ice cream scoop to measure out and fill the muffin tins (which you should coat with non stick spray) ¾ full.
Bake in a pre heated 400 degree oven for 25 minutes.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Cool Fruit Salad

Star fruit, watermelon and cantaloupe with a lime juice and fresh basil dressing....so fresh and cool...I think everyone is going to love this one!
I took the juice of one lime and 8-10 fresh basil leaves that I rolled up and thinly sliced.  Mixed these two together and poured over the chopped cantaloupe and watermelon and star fruit.  Beautiful and I'll serve it well chilled!  That's it, 5 minutes and you have a gorgeous salad that is sweet and refreshing.

What's on the menu this week?

I always talk about cooking with fresh seasonal ingredients and how important that is to my cooking methods.   So I thought I’d start showing you what was available at the Saturday Sarasota Farmers Market each week. 
I’ll be using the fresh fruits and veggies that I chose early this morning as the foundation for our meals this week.  Parsnips, spaghetti squash, white acorn squash, new red potatoes, onion, Brussels sprouts, arugula, corn on the cob.
Yes I will have to supplement with other purchases from the market; the proteins and probably some other greens. 

We like salads every day and unfortunately the lettuce was not very good so I’ll be stopping at another produce vendor Monday to see if his are better.  Right now the only salad base ingredient I have is arugula which is my husband Filippo’s all time favorite and will give us salads today and tomorrow. 
The watermellon, star fruit and half of the cantalope went right into a fruit salad that was garnished with lime juice and chopped fresh basil from the pot on my patio; yum!
I feel this is going to be a good week food wise with the fruits and veggies purchased this morning.  I’m thinking I’ll whip up pizza dough for grilled pizza tonight.  Maybe top it off with a bit of the arugula..if Filippo will give some up!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Comfort of Apples Give Away!!!

What a joy! We love apples in this family and I grew up in the northwest with apple trees in everyone's yard! So I thought I knew most everything about these precious orbs; well I learned more than I thought possible!  Phil and Lauren Rubin's The Comfort of Apples is a delightful book with over 100 mouthwatering recipes and photos that make you feel you are sitting in the orchards themselves.
I am sharing one of their recipes from The Comfort of Apples to show you how easy and tasty their recipes are! Butternut Squash Apple Soup is our new family favorite; let me tell you the goat cheese knocked it right out of the apple orchard!  Filippo just loves calves' liver so I tried "Calves' Liver with Cider-Bacon Vinaigrette" and my very picky husband gave this recipe two thumbs up and declared it perfection!  I can't wait to get back into the kitchen and get to know a few more of Phil & Lauren's recipes from The Comfort of Apples!  ON TOP OF THAT.....I am giving one of these magnificent books away to one of my blog followers.  On September 30th all followers will be put into a drawing and one lucky foodie will be sent The Comfort of Apples directly from the publisher.

Butternut Squash and Apple Soup
by Philip & Lauren Rubin,
Authors of The Comfort of Apples: Modern Recipes for an Old-Fashioned Favorite

Soup should be a smooth, friendly spoonful, which is why this is a lasting combination. Some ingredients just work well together: Butternut squash and apples have a complementary, mellow sweetness. Sweet potatoes and apples have a similar agreement, hence our sweet potato side dish


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, coarsely chopped
  • 1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed
  • 4 cups apples, peeled, cored, and chopped
  • 4 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1 quart chicken stock
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • Salt and pepper
  • ½ cup walnut halves
  • 4 ounces goat cheese, sliced in ¼ -inch rounds

1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until translucent about 3 minutes. Add the squash, apples, carrots, stock, and cinnamon and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer until the vegetables are soft when pierced with a fork, 20 to 30 minutes.

2. Ladle the vegetables and half of the broth into a blender or food processor. Puree until very smooth. Return soup to the pot and stir in the remaining broth, one ladleful at a time, until you reach the desired consistency. Season well with salt and pepper.

3. To serve, place a few walnuts in the center of a soup bowl. Shingle 2 slices of goat cheese on top of the walnuts and ladle the soup around the goat cheese. The idea is to have the goat cheese visible atop the soup. (Hint: it may be easier to ladle the soup into a large measuring cup with a spout and pour from there.)

Serves 6 

The above is an excerpt from the book The Comfort of Apples: Modern Recipes for an Old-Fashioned Favorite by Philip & Lauren Rubin. The above excerpt is a digitally scanned reproduction of text from print. Although this excerpt has been proofread, occasional errors may appear due to the scanning process. Please refer to the finished book for accuracy.

Copyright © 2010 Philip & Lauren Rubin, authors of The Comfort of Apples: Modern Recipes for an Old-Fashioned Favorite

Author Bios
Philip and Lauren Rubin
, authors of The Comfort of Apples: Modern Recipes for an Old-Fashioned Favorite, and graduates of the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City, own 2 Peas & A Pot, a Manhattan catering company. They previously worked in several restaurants, including Cafe Luxembourg, Union Pacific, and Tribeca Grill. Lauren has also worked as a personal chef and recipe tester at Good Housekeeping. They have been featured in the Wall Street Journal, and were the subjects of a full-length feature in BizBash, the premier trade magazine for event planners. They live in New York City with their son, Henry.

For more information please visit www.2peasandapot.com and follow the authors on Twitter.
"Disclosure: I was given The Comfort of Apples from FSB Media. http://www.fsbmedia.com/book_reviews.php?isbn13=9780762759644  
I was not compensated for this post. All opinions, as always, are my own."

Food Trivia Daily Question

     Q: Pepperoni is America’s favorite pizza topping. Is Japan’s favorite pizza topping: (a) eggs; (b) pickled ginger; or (c) squid?
My favorite pizza is grilled with tons of fresh veggies that have been drizzled with olive oil and left to rest with two or three cloves of well chopped garlic; then grilled and tossed on the pizza with fresh mozzarella and English white cheddar! Yummy!
Leave your trivia answers in the comment section and I'll let you know if you are correct or not!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Grilled Organic Yellow Tomatoes

Here is one of the easiest dishes you will ever make and in my humble opinion; one of the yummiest!  I adore tomatoes in all their glory form red to Roma to heirloom to green and yellow.  So with organic yellow tomatoes, I simply slice them, drizzle with garlic/basil olive oil and put the slices in a hot grill pan until browned on both sides.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and voila, you have grilled tomatoes!

Fried Angel Hair Frittata

I always make extra spaghetti or angel hair pasta to make this super easy main dish! My husband loves this out of the box way to have pasta. It’s a marriage of a frittata and pasta. I often times will add in sautéed zucchini or other veggies that I have on hand. If you want to sneak fresh veggies into your kids without them realizing, just chop them very fine and they’ll look like fresh herbs! Depending on your family size and how much you all eat, figure on ½ pound of pasta for 4 people.


½ pound pasta pre cooked

4 eggs

½ cup sour cream or plain yogurt

Salt and pepper to taste

4 T Olive oil for the frittata + 4 T. for the cooking pan

Nutmeg, fresh grated about 1/8 teaspoon


Mix together all ingredients except the pasta in a large bowl

Heat the 4T olive oil in a large frying pan

Add the pasta to the egg mixture and mix well

Pour the egg and pasta into the hot frying and sauté until golden brown

Place a platter on top of the pan, flip over and slide the frittata back into the frying pan

Sautee until golden brown

Friday, September 10, 2010

RWOP "Time Crunch" Dessert Week

As the Dessert Host for the RWOP, I have the great pleasure of making one dessert every day from the recipe submissions during each dessert week. I am so excited to share two of this week’s “Time Crunch” recipes. Time Crunch recipe submissions must use 5 ingredients or less, have two or three easy steps and take no more than 30 minutes to complete! Don’t we all need fast, easy and yummy desserts in our repertoire?

First up is Josee Lanzi’s Shortbread Caramel Cream Cookie Sandwiches. They are wonderful and are prepared in ten minutes and I found they disappeared in about the same amount of time ‘cause they are soooo good! Here’s the direct link to Josee’s recipe on the RWOP web site:



 There are literally hundreds of wonderful recipes, all using 2 ounces or more of Philadelphia Cream Cheese, for every occasion on the Real Women of Philadelphia web site. These recipes have all been submitted by great home cooks for a recipe contest sponsored by Paula Deen and Kraft Philadelphia Cream Cheese! Take a look at the rules; your recipe just may earn you $500 and the chance to be in the RWOP Community Cook Book to be published later this year!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Everyone loves Gifts from PHINE & Whimsey!

Here is my new hostess gift favorite!  These are beautiful and I love personalized gifts.  So I'm already thinking ahead to my holiday hostess gift list and don't these make great stocking stuffers and office party secret Santa gifts!

This blog is normally devoted to dishes featuring fresh seasonal ingredients but today I want to share with you an extraordinary gift shop I just know you will absolutely love!  PHINE & Whimsey is owned and operated by Lori Seybert Jones who travels throughout the United states to find unique items to fit every occasion.

The shopping motto at PHINE & Whimsey is providing "Gifts for the thoughtful gift giver who desires creative, high quality gifts that provide the givers the opportunity to make wonderful memories and impressions."  I certainly can attest to the beautiful products she carries and let me tell you the packages arrived beautifully and professionally wrapped.  It was a treat to just open the shipping box and see the black and white paper covering the treasures inside!

Everyone I have sent gifts to from PHINE and Whimsey has received EXACTLY what I ordered, exquisitely wrapped and on time!  From baby gifts to stationary to silver frames and jewelry, I KNOW when I order from PHINE and Whimsey, everyone will be smiling and happy!

You'll find FINE & Whimsey at http://www.phineandwhimsey.com/index.html
Do stop by the web site and have a little fun; remember the holiday season is really just around the corner and you'll be needing everything from hostess gifts to best friend treasures.  You'll find pages of unique gift items for everyone on your list; and don't forget something for yourself too!

Here is my new hostess gift favorite!  These are beautiful and I love personalized gifts.  So I'm already thinking ahead to my holiday hostess gift list and great stocking stuffers and office party secret santa gifts!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Baja Burgers

I am still exploring dishes featuring Avocados from Mexico.  This little Mexican vacation has been great fun for the entire family!  Marina discovered she likes Avocado, Tomato Paninis.  Filippo has been feasting on avocado treats; the Baja Burgers featured today are definitely his favorite.  Not really surprising since it's a burger, his was beef, topped with yummy ripe avocados!
I made these Baja Burgers two ways, one with ground turkey and one with ground beef.  I have featured the ground beef Baja Burgers in the photos but give the ingredients for the turkey burgers below.  I do hope you enjoy these as much as we did.  In fact, they are being added to this weekends menu at the request of both Marina and Filippo!
1 ripe avocado sliced
1 pound lean ground beef
or 1 pound ground turkey
6 chopped fresh sage leaves for the turkey burgers
1 t. salt & 1/2 t. pepper
1/4 cup finely chopped sweet onion
Ranch Dressing or Ketchup (Ranch for the turkey burgers and ketchup for the beef)
sliced dill pickles
large loaf country French bread cut into wide wedges, or two smaller ones)
1. mix together ground beef, salt, pepper and onion (or mix turkey, sage, onion, salt & pepper)
2. form into oblong patties to fit bread wedges
3. grill patties as desired
4. slice through center of bread wedges and put lettuce on bottom half
5. place patty on top of lettuce, top with pickles, dressing and avocado slices
6. Serve and enjoy
One thing nice about doing burgers this way is that you can make them any size you want.  My son Giuliano get a HUGE beef Baja burger, while Marina and I choose small turkey Baja burgers.  Yes I do make both turkey and beef Baja Burgers at the same time.  I just use less of each ground meat and have found it really doesn't take much more time to mix two batches and EVERYONE is happy!

I would love to hear what you think of these Baja Burgers!

Baja Burgers on FoodistaBaja Burgers

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Avocado Cucumber Stackers

I cannot tell you how fast these little bites disappeared when I was done taking the photographs!  Marina and two friends came home from school and .... poof they had eaten them all in short order!    
I mixed ripe avocado with Ranch dressing, an idea from the Avocados from Mexico web site and I can't even describe how good that combo is!  My new favorite for sure.                          
1 Avocado
1/4 cup Ranch Dressing
1 cucumber
4 Roma Tomatoes
4 thin slices Mozzarella

1. mash avocado
2. mix in Ranch Dressing
3. Slice cucumber
4. Cut each mozzarella slice into 4
5. stack cucumber, mozzarella and tomatoes.
6. Use pastry bag to pipe avocado onto snacks