Tag Archives: recipes

Zucchini: 7 Superstar Supereasy Recipes

12 Jul

Yeah, yeah, yeah, we all love summer veggies fresh from the garden. Except — admit it! — when there are piles and piles and piles of zucchini sitting around your kitchen counters waiting for a purpose. For that time there is this post.

I have collected some of my favorite zucchini recipes here to inspire you and yours to enjoy zucchini in different ways (and overwhelmed gardeners can send this to their friends as they pass off some of the overabundance of zucchini from the backyard).

Enjoy! You will remember these days fondly in the dark of winter.

Rosemary-Manchego Zucchini Fritters


Zucchini Rosemary Manchego Fritters Yum

Zucchini Rosemary Manchego Fritters Yum


 Remoulade (Easy Summer Squash Slaw…cooooool)


Zucchini Slaw

Zucchini Slaw

 Crunchy Creamy Zucchini Corn Fritters

Light and luscious, the abundant corn kernels make this fun to eat

Light and luscious, the abundant corn kernels make this fun to eat

 Easy Stovetop Lemon-Oregano Zucchini and Yellow Squash

How this dish looked at our campsite on the beach

How this dish looked at our campsite on the beach

Healthy and Happy Grilled Veggie Kebabs Continue reading

Easy, Hearty, Refried Beans for Bean Dip, Tacos, Burritos, and more

8 Jul

We’ve been having folks over or heading to other people’s houses for watch parties during the World Cup…as die-hard fanáticos del fútbol, this extravaganza of soccer is something we look forward to every four years with great anticipation.

I’ve mostly gonewith tried and true recipes like the incredibly delicious Chipotle Lime Jerk Slow Cooker Chicken and my Seasoned Ground Beef for Sloppy Joes, Tortilla Torcal (Spanish stovetop egg frittata with chorizo, ham and peas from our garden), Grapes and White Cheese (no-cook fab appetizer with just two ingredients — three if you count toothpicks), and such.

Go U.S.A.!

Go U.S.A.! Tim Howard is Hercules!

But for the first U.S. game of the Cup, I also made a new one: bean dip! I was very happy with the results. I did homemade refried beans (recipe below), then just layered it up with salsa and cheese and melted in the oven and served with tortilla chips, sour cream and avocado chunks and everyone liked it. A Lot.

This bean recipe is very versatile for Tex-Mex style foods like nachos, burritos, tacos and the like. Sure you can buy refried beans in a can, but this flavor and texture is more complex and of course the sodium and fat levels are reduced to human proportions. Give it a try!


Layered with cheese and salsa, this warm dip is a hot item

Layered with cheese and salsa, this warm dip is a hot item

Refried Beans for Bean Dip or Tex-Mex meals (with garlic scapes)

1-2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbs garlic scapes (or garlic), chopped fine

¼ Cup diced ham (ham steak or deli ham)

½ Cup broth (chicken or veggie; not too sweet)

1 Tbs fresh thyme leaves (or 1 tsp dried)

3 Cups red beans (softened at home or from a can, rinsed and drained)

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a generous pan to medium high. Lower heat and sauté the garlic scapes in the oil until tender. Add the diced ham and sauté an additional minute, then add remaining ingredients and simmer until thickened. Remove from heat and with a potato masher or a fork, mash mixture roughly until you have a thick, rustic paste, adding tablespoons of water or broth as needed. Layer with salsa and cheese in an oven-safe dish and heat up, then top with sour cream, guacamole and olives, or use it to top nachos or stuff tacos and burritos!

Red, White and Blue Shortcake in a (World) Cup

16 Jun

My son’s birthday this year happens to fall on the day of the U.S. National Soccer Team’s opening World Cup match against Ghana. So — being a soccer/fútbol mad family, this is like thematic heaven for us!

USA shortcakeBetween last night and this morning, I banged together class treats that were all red, white and blue, homemade and — while they include cake and whipped cream — also include generous portions of summer fruit.

Very tender and moist cake....

Very tender and moist cake….

I like to think it strikes the right balance between healthy and sweet and it certainly reflects what is important to the little man today.

Pretty decent crumb!

Pretty decent crumb!

And the fact that I put this much time and thought into it reflects 1) my semester finished and I have some extra time on my hands 2) I am indeed the food DIY maniac everyone thinks I am 3) I love this little man so much I want him to be proud of the treats he brought in!

Piled it up nice (and casually no...LOW FUSS!)

Piled it up nice (and casually no…LOW FUSS!)

He went to school in his U.S. kit (with the non-playing Landon Donovan jersey, but never mind…I have to assume Klinsmann knows what he is doing) and seemed very pleased with the whole thing. He was down with a virus last week that has left him with painful bumps in his mouth….so I don’t know whether he’ll actually eat one, but he somehow managed to lick the whipping cream bowl clean all right this morning.

All tarted up for the big game

All tarted up for the big game

I include a link for the recipe for homemade whipped cream. I URGE you to try it…so much more fun and much more velvety and subtle…the kids around here love making it with the hand beater and eating it up! You can also make your own white cake (recipe for a very fluffy and tender one below) or substitute storebought poundcake. If you are going to make your own cake, I suggest you have a look at Paula Deen’s excellent Creaming 101 tutorial. Continue reading

Juicy Lamb and Beef Burgers

10 Jun

We love lamb in this house, from grandparents to grandkid. But admittedly, the more gamey flavor of lamb is not for everyone.

Dad, working with his very nice camera) photo by Pedro de Cuba

Dad, working with his very nice camera) photo by Pedro de Cuba

This recipe, put together by my dad, Pedro, master of burgers, mixes lamb and beef, so the flavor is more subtle.

Sub in green onion if you like!

Sub in green onion if you like! Photo by Pedro de Cuba

The curry and cumin provide a sweet headiness as does the garlic. Remember to turn just once on the grill and not to press down on them; you don’t want to squeeze out the juiciness!

Grill as you would a regular beef hamburger (don't squeeze out the juices!)

Grill as you would a regular beef hamburger (don’t squeeze out the juices!) Photo by Pedro de Cuba

My son ate them on a bun with ketchup, while the rest of us had them as salad toppers with garbanzos. Give them a try! Awesome riff on a BBQ favorite.

Make em any shape you want!

Make em any shape you want! Photo by Pedro de Cuba

Lamb Burgers (makes 8 generous burgers)

1 lb ground lamb

1.5 lbs. ground beef

5 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium onion, chopped fine

1 egg, slightly beaten

1 Cup plain breadcrumbs

1 Tbs curry powder

1 tsp ground cumin

¼ tsp red pepper flakes (dried)

¼ tsp pepper

1 tsp salt

In a large bowl, mix all ingredients together thoroughly, but trying not to overwork the meat.

Divide into desired size of burger. Grill 4- 5 minutes on each side (don’t press down as you don’t want to lose the fat!) to desired doneness. Serve as you would regular hamburgers or serve as patties with couscous, veggies, yogurt sauce, in the Mediterranean style.

Mango Chimichurri Salsa (for grilled meats and seafood)

7 Jun

When it comes to camping food, go bold or go home is my motto. This is no time for subtlety.

Our delicious dinner

Our delicious dinner

So, when Pedro (my dad) showed up at the campsite with some steaks last week. I was all in. He simply sprinkled salt and pepper on the steaks and got to grilling. His hint for you today is that starting with defrosted steaks still a bit cold in the center helps to keep the rare in medium rare when things start moving quickly on the charcoal grill. A fair bit of marbling on a steak is desirable, because you want that fat to melt and season the steak as opposed to drying out a leaner cut.

I decide to surprise everyone with a different sort of dressing for the steak: a mango chimichurri salsa, a riff on the parsley-based Argentinean salsa for steeak. Continue reading

Backyard Foraging: Onion Grass (just like chives!) and cream cheese recipe

14 May

Google “onion grass” and you’ll likely find a lot of advice on how to eliminate it from your lawn. It is called a weed, pesky, unsightly, annoying. But around here the unruly tufts of onion grass that start dotting the emerging lawn in spring are the among the first herbs of the season.  So the way we eliminate it is by harvesting it and eating it!

This is a nice bit just by the raise beds. Note that it is not flat but hollow, and grows to different lengths

This is a nice bit just by the raised beds. Note that it is not flat but hollow, and grows to different lengths

We don’t put down chemical fertilizers or pesticides anywhere in the yard (although the last few seasons of mosquito infestations have us wondering what other choice there is) so there is none of that in our onion grass that we know of. And while we do have plenty of birds and squirrels about, they have those on commercial farms too and we have no dogs, so a thorough washing of the onion grass is sufficient to make it ready for human consumption (This came up in an after-school playground conversation recently, so thanks to Marta for bringing it up!).

A healthy bunch of onion grass. You will have to pick through your harvest.

A healthy bunch of onion grass. You will have to pick through your harvest.

I do NOT recommend pulling it up from anywhere that you are not familiar with. You never know what people throw on their lawns in the crazed pursuit of the perfect carpet of green (heavy sigh). Or what your local government has sprayed.


The forager-in-training

The forager-in-training

Now let’s talk identification. As close as I can tell, the botanical name or onion grass is Allium canadense…a member of the onion and garlic (stinking rose) family and very, very similar to Allium schoenoprasum, which we know as chives. Allium canadense is noted for its clumpy appearance in early spring just as the stubble of new grass begins. The blades are actually hollow tubes and taper at the top and grow to wildly different lengths.  They may even curl. I have heard say that they sometimes have bulbs at the bottom, but ours really don’t have much.


The potato ricer was not really the right creaming tool. I soon switched to a fork

The potato ricer was not really the right creaming tool. I soon switched to a fork

Important note: there are several look-alike lily species that are toxic. They may or may not have the hollow stem. The general rule is: If it smells like onion, it is onion and safe to eat. If it doesn’t smell like onion, it’s not onion, so leave it be.

With crackers or veggies, or bagels, of course...the flavor of spring

With crackers or veggies, or bagels, of course…the flavor of spring

In the past, I have just snipped what I need (it is somewhat milder than chives, so you may need to double what you would normally use if you bought supermarket chives), but today when I asked my little man to get some, he just grabbed a fistful and tore and that worked out just fine!

A tub of cream cheese with onion grass! Just like chives...only free for the forager

A tub of cream cheese with onion grass! Just like chives…only free for the forager

The following recipe is just a basic cream cheese with chives. You can also try onion grass with Asian recipes or whatever else you fancy. It’s not like you had to pay for it. And as I say to my students “If it’s free, give me three!”




Cream cheese and chives or foraged onion grass

8 oz cream cheese, softened

2-4 Tbs chopped onion grass or chives

2 Tbs low or nonfat yogurt or sour cream or milk

Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Garnish with additional chopped chives, if desired.

Perfectly Simple Sauteed Mushrooms (5 ingredients)

12 May

The warmer weather calls for simpler fare, meals that are tasty and uncomplicated and straightforward.

I sizzle the roast garlic in the oil

I sizzle the roast garlic in the oil

These mushrooms are just that – similar to the classic Spanish tapa champiñones al ajillo, but quicker and easier.

Into the skillet. They suck up the oil at first, but do not be alarmed. They get a bit of char and then you add the wine and they release their juices.

Into the skillet. They suck up the oil at first, but do not be alarmed. They get a bit of char and then you add the wine and they release their juices.

Thanks to Valerie from the Farmingdale Music Center, I had a container of delicious home-roasted garlic to lend a bit more complexity, but regular raw garlic will work just fine.



We had these on the side for Mother’s Day…they were a great accompaniment to grilled sirloin steak

Salt and pepper crusted sirloin

Salt and pepper crusted sirloin

and our first local asparagus of the season from Sang Lee on the North Fork of Long Island.

The kid's contribution to the menu

The kid’s contribution to the menu


Simple and delicious

Simple and delicious

Basic sauteed mushrooms

1 lb mushrooms, wiped and woody stems removed

1-2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

1 Tbs roasted garlic or minced raw garlic

A glug or two of red wine

Pinch of salt

Sprinkle of parsley (optional)

Make sure mushrooms are clean (wiping them takes longer than rinsing, but helps them look nicer)

Heat olive oil and garlic together to medium high. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring to coat. When the mushrooms begin to get tender, add red wine and allow to bubble until mushrooms begin to release their own juices (a minute or two). Season with salt and parsley and you’re set!

Spaghetti alla Carbonara with Peas (Fast, Easy, Delicious)

3 May

Spaghetti alla carbonara is one of those generous, forgiving dishes that doesn’t require too many ingredients, too much thought, or too much accuracy to be perfect and feel like a treat. In honor of Spring (and some very good Niman Ranch bacon I happened to have that happened to need finishing up), I banged some together with peas.

I love the smell of bacon in the morning

I love the smell of bacon in the morning

Although the flavor is completely different, anyone who is fond of split pea soup with ham or tortilla torcal or pasta with ham and peas (pasta e piselli) will appreciate the affinity that peas and pork have for each other and that’s why I like this combination. (Click here for another version of carbonara with butter and no peas). I played around with a Tyler Florence recipe for this.

Look at the amazing color on the Restoration Farm eggs...use fresh for this recipe

Look at the amazing color on the Restoration Farm eggs…use fresh for this recipe

It also reheats pretty well in the office microwave, which is part of my cooking criteria these days!

I use my cast iron skillet for this dish

I use my cast iron skillet for this dish

Spaghetti alla Carbonara with Peas (serves four)

1 Lb. dry spaghetti

½-1 Cup frozen peas

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
4 ounces thick cut bacon, sliced into chunks (a nice smoky bacon adds a lot of personality)
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 large eggs (as fresh as possible)
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano or other grating cheese, plus more for serving
Freshly ground black pepper

Handful chopped parsley (optional)

Prepare the pasta according to package directions, while you get the other ingredients ready.

About four minutes before the pasta is done, drop the peas in and stir.

Reserve ½ Cup pasta water before draining. You want to time it so that the eggs are ready to pour when the pasta is still really hot because the heat of the pasta is what is going to cook them.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a deep skillet at medium heat until Add the bacon saute for about crisp, stirring frequently. Toss the garlic into the fat and saute to soften. Meanwhile, beat the eggs and cheese together in a mixing bowl, stirring well to prevent lumps.
Add the hot, drained spaghetti to the pan and toss quickly to coat the strands in the bacon fat. Remove the pan from the heat and pour the egg/cheese mixture into the pasta and take it off the heat to avoid scrambled eggs. Stir quickly with a big fork until the eggs thicken, but do not scramble. Thin out the sauce with a little at a time of the reserved pasta water, until it reaches desired consistency.

Season the carbonara with several turns of freshly ground black pepper and taste for salt. Serve in warm bowls and garnish with chopped parsley and extra cheese.


No-Fuss Strawberry Rhubarb Refrigerator Jam (Easy, Sweet and Tart)

25 Apr

’tis the season….rhubarb in the supermarket =  strawberry rhubarb jam in my fridge. And in my friend’s fridges too; this is so easy and makes such a generous amount that you can gift your dearest buddies with what I consider to be the most delicious jam of the year. There is no gelatin and no pectin, just produce and sugar.

berry and rhubarb macerating

berry and rhubarb macerating

All you need is a few small clean jars with lids to pack it up, ’cause as much as I promise myself this will be the year, I have yet to do any real canning/preserving.

Into the clean jars!

Into the clean jars!

Rhubarb facts: It is a vegetable, but it is used as a fruit. Originally from Asia, its botanical name is Rheum rhabarbarum (which is a really unappealing name, I must say). The stem – the only edible part of the plant – looks a lot like celery with a reddish tint). It is in season in late spring and summer.

duck, duck, jam

duck, duck, jam

I have posted this before (Here is the original post ) but since I make it every year, I think it is worth posting again. It’s a pretty flexible recipe; these amounts are guidelines only. And click here for a strawberry rhubarb shortcake idea!!


jam on toast. YUM

jam on toast. YUM

Strawberry Rhubarb Jam (Refrigerator)

1.5 pints strawberries (about 24 oz), washed, hulled, sliced in half or quarters

5-6 medium stalks rhubarb, sliced into 1” chunks (about 1.5 lbs)

2 Cups sugar

2 Tbs fresh squeezed lemon juice

In a large bowl, mix strawberries, rhubarb, sugar and lemon juice. Stir to coat and let sit for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally.

Place two saucers in the freezer.

In a large saucepan, bring fruit to boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Use a hand-held mixer or immersion blender to puree the fruit until pretty smooth. Reduce heat and cook at a lively simmer until mixture begins to thicken, 20-25 minutes.

To test for gelling point, drop one teaspoon of jam on one of the chilled saucers and put back in the freezer for about a minute. When you take it out, the jam’s surface should wrinkle gently when pushed with your fingertip. If not, keep stirring and heating and try again in another five minutes or so, then try again with the remaining saucer.

Ladle hot jam into jars. Allow to cool and refrigerate for up to two weeks.

Easter Meal – Shellfish, Lamb Chops, Asparagus, Brusssels Sprouts and More

19 Apr

While it is not set in stone, this is what we will most likely be eating tomorrow for the big Easter meal. We’ll start with shellfish (and Sauvignon Blanc for the growns, flavored seltzer for the kid), then simple lamb and vegetables (probably some couscous with pesto made by the little man as an additional side). We are off to the farm today, so I’ve run out of time…Happy Easter to all, if I don’t see you before then….lamb

Light Mediterranean-style clams

 Crispy Beer-Battered Oysters

Fantastically crisp beer battered oysters

Fantastically crisp beer battered oysters


Simple and Perfect Roasted Baby Lamb Chops

Roasted Asparagus and Sweet Red Pepper Dipping Sauce



Brussels Sprouts – Sauteed and Sassy

brussels sprouts

 Grilled Potato Disks (Like Fries, but grilled!)

Crispy on the outside, crunchy on the inside!

Crispy on the outside, crunchy on the inside!





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