"Food is our common ground, a universal experience." ~ James Beard

April 27, 2011

Spring Chicken Salad

  • 1/2 pound small red-skinned potatoes, halved
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup low-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 romaine hearts, torn
  • 1 rotisserie chicken, skin removed and meat shredded (about 2 cups)
  • 1 Kirby cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded and sliced
  • 4 radishes, cut into wedges
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced


Place the potatoes in a small pot and cover with water. Season with salt, cover and boil until fork-tender, about 6 minutes. Drain and cool.
Meanwhile, pulse the chives, tarragon, vinegar, yogurt, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste in a food processor. Slowly drizzle in the olive oil and pulse to make a thick dressing.
Toss the romaine, potatoes, chicken, cucumber, radishes and bell pepper with the dressing in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

Garden Vegetable Lasagna

9 dried lasagna noodles
6 cups broccoli florets
1 large red sweet pepper, cut into bite-size strips
1 medium zucchini, sliced
1 medium yellow summer squash, sliced (about 1-1/4 cups)
2 eggs
1 16-ounce carton low-fat cottage cheese
1 15-ounce carton fat-free ricotta cheese
1/2 cup snipped fresh basil
2 tablespoons snipped fresh thyme
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon bottled hot pepper sauce
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese (8 ounces)
1. Grease a 3-quart rectangular baking dish; set aside. In a large saucepan, cook lasagna noodles in a large amount of lightly salted boiling water for 10 to 12 minutes or until tender but still firm. Drain noodles; rinse with cold water. Drain well.
2. Meanwhile, place a steamer basket in a Dutch oven. Add water to just below the bottom of the steamer basket. Bring to boiling. Add broccoli, sweet pepper, zucchini, and yellow summer squash. Reduce heat. Cover and steam for 6 to 8 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender. Remove from heat.
3. In a medium bowl, beat eggs with a wire whisk or rotary beater. Stir in cottage cheese, ricotta cheese, basil, thyme, garlic, salt, hot pepper sauce, and black pepper.
4. Layer 3 of the cooked noodles in prepared baking dish. Spread with one-third of the ricotta cheese mixture. Top with one-third of the vegetable mixture and 2/3 cup of the mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers twice more.
5. Cover baking dish with foil and chill for at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours.
6. To serve, preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Bake lasagna, covered, for 55 to 65 minute or until heated through. Remove from oven. Uncover. Let stand for 10 minutes before cutting to serve. Makes 8 servings.

Easy Pasta and Pepper Primavera

4 ounces dried multigrain spaghetti
1 tablespoon olive oil or canola oil
2 teaspoons bottled minced garlic*
1 16-ounce package frozen peppers and onion or sugar snap stir-fry vegetables
1 15-ounce can cannellini beans (white kidney beans), rinsed and drained
1/4 cup dry white wine or reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon finely shredded lemon peel (set aside)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 tablespoon butter
1 ounce Parmesan cheese, shaved
1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic; cook and stir for 30 seconds. Add frozen vegetables. Cook and stir for 2 minutes. Add beans, white wine, lemon juice, thyme, salt, black pepper, and crushed red pepper. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cook, uncovered, about 4 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Stir in butter.
3. Drain pasta. Add pasta to vegetable mixture in skillet. Toss gently to combine.
4. To serve, divide pasta mixture among four shallow bowls. Sprinkle with Parmesan shavings and lemon peel. Makes 4 (1-1/4 cup) servings.
*Test Kitchen Tip: If you prefer to use fresh garlic, substitute 4 cloves garlic, minced.

Hummingbird Cake

  • Unsalted butter, for greasing
  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 cup pecan pieces
  • 3 ripe bananas, chopped
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh pineapple
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil

For the Frosting:

  • 2 packages cream cheese (8 ounces each), at room temperature
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed, at room temperature
  • 2 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Make the cake: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter two 8-inch round cake pans and line with parchment paper. Butter the parchment and dust with flour.

Spread the pecans on a baking sheet and bake until fragrant and toasted, about 8 minutes. Let cool slightly, then roughly chop. Toss with the bananas, pineapple and 1/2 cup flour in a small bowl.

Whisk the remaining 2 1/4 cups flour, the cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, baking soda and salt in a bowl. Beat the eggs and granulated sugar in a separate bowl with a mixer on high speed until thick and light, 5 minutes. Gradually beat in the vegetable oil.

Sprinkle the flour mixture over the egg mixture, then gently fold to make a thick batter. Fold in the pecan-fruit mixture, then transfer the batter to the prepared pans. Bake until the cakes are firm and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean, 50 to 55 minutes. Cool in the pans on a rack, 25 minutes, then invert the cakes onto the rack to cool completely.

Make the frosting: Beat the cream cheese in a large bowl with a mixer until fluffy, then gradually beat in the butter until combined. Sift the confectioners' sugar over the cream cheese mixture and beat until smooth. Add the lemon zest and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy.

Place one cake layer on a serving plate. Spread about half of the frosting on top, then cover with the other cake layer. Spread the remaining frosting over the top and sides of the cake.

Mexican Corn Soup

1 16-ounce package frozen whole kernel corn, thawed
1 cup chicken broth
1 4-1/2-ounce can diced green chile peppers
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1/2 teaspoon bottled minced garlic (1 clove)
1 tablespoon snipped fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cups milk
1 cup chopped cooked chicken (about 5 ounces)
1 cup chopped tomatoes
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese (4 ounces)
Snipped fresh parsley (optional)
Fresh oregano sprigs (optional)
1. In a blender, combine half of the corn and the chicken broth. Cover; blend until nearly smooth.
2. In a large saucepan, combine corn puree, remaining corn, chile peppers, butter, garlic, dried oregano (if using), salt, and black pepper. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Stir in milk, chicken, tomatoes, and snipped oregano (if using); heat through. Remove from heat. Stir in cheese until melted. If desired, sprinkle individual servings with snipped parsley and garnish with oregano sprigs. Makes 6 servings.

Chicken and Asparagus Crepes

  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the dish
  • 2 1/2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken
  • 1 1/2 cups ricotta cheese
  • 3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs (such as parsley, dill, chives or mint)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 8 store-bought crepes (about 9 inches each)
  • 1 shallot, sliced
  • 1/2 pound asparagus, trimmed and cut into pieces
  • 3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Butter a large baking dish. Combine the chicken, ricotta, 1/2 cup parmesan, 3 tablespoons herbs, 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a medium bowl. Spoon about 1/4 cup filling across the lower half of each crepe; roll up to enclose the filling. Place the crepes, seam-side down, in the baking dish. Cover with foil and bake until the filling is hot, about 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt 3 tablespoons butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shallot and cook until it softens, about 1 minute. Add the asparagus and cook until just tender, about 3 minutes. Add the chicken broth, lemon zest and the remaining 1 tablespoon herbs and simmer until the sauce is slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Stir in the remaining 1/4 cup parmesan and season with salt and pepper.
Divide the crepes among plates, top with the asparagus and sauce, and sprinkle with parmesan.

Marcia's Chicken Chow Mein

5 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 pound fresh plain chicken sausages, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons minced ginger

4 ounces snow peas, cut in half

2 fresh, hot long red chiles, seeded and thinly sliced

1/3 cup fresh orange juice

1/2 pound fresh or dried Chinese egg noodles, cooked

1 cup chicken stock mixed with 3 tablespoons of hoisin sauce and 2 teaspoons of cornstarch


1/2 cup slivered basil leaves

1. In a wok, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add the chicken sausage and stir-fry over high heat, breaking it up, until just cooked through, 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
2. Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil in the wok. Add the garlic and ginger and stir-fry over moderately high heat until golden, 1 1/2 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the snow peas and chiles for 1 minute. Add the orange juice and stir over moderately high heat for 30 seconds. Add the sausage, noodles and stock mixture, season with salt and stir-fry until the sauce is thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, stir in the basil and serve

Asparagus-Leek Risotto


  • 3/4 lb. asparagus spears, trimmed
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1-1/2 cups sliced leeks
  • 1 cup Arborio rice
  • 3 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tbsp. snipped fresh parsley
  • 1/2 tsp. finely shredded lemon peel
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground coarse black pepper
  • Lemon Slices
  • Lemon peel


1. Place asparagus in single layer on baking sheet. Brush with 1 tablespoon olive oil; lightly sprinkle salt and black pepper. Bake, uncovered, in 450 degrees F oven about 10 minutes or until crisp-tender. Cool slightly. Cut two-thirds in 2-inch pieces; set aside all asparagus.
2. Meanwhile, in large saucepan cook leeks in remaining olive oil until tender. Stir in uncooked rice. Cook and stir over medium heat about 5 minutes or until rice begins to turn golden brown.
3. In another saucepan bring broth to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer. Carefully stir 1 cup of hot broth into rice mixture. Cook, stirring frequently, over medium heat until liquid is absorbed. Then add 1/2 cup broth at a time, stirring frequently until broth is absorbed before adding more broth (about 22 minutes).
4. Stir in any remaining broth. Cook and stir just until rice is tender and creamy.
5. Stir in asparagus pieces, cheese, parsley, lemon peel, lemon juice, and pepper. Top with asparagus spears, lemon slices, and peel. Makes 4 servings.

Herb and Cheese-Stuffed Chicken Thighs

  • 3/4 C. fresh breadcrumbs from a crusty bakery loaf
  • 1/2 C. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/3 C. asiago or provolone cheese
  • 1/4 C. flat leaf Italian parsley, coarsely chopped
  • 1 Tbs. fresh rosemary, chopped fine
  • 1 Tbs. fresh thyme, chopped fine
  • 1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest (optional)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 tsp. salt plus additional salt for finishing the thighs
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 8 boneless skin-on chicken thighs (about 4-5 oz. each)


Heat the oven to 450 degrees and adjust a rack to the center position. In a medium bowl combine the breadcrumbs, Parmesan, asiago, parsley, rosemary, thyme, optional zest, egg, salt and pepper and mix with your hands until well combined.

Place a chicken thigh skin side down on a work surface. Grab approximately1/4 C. stuffing and gently squeeze in the palm of your hand to form a cohesive cigar-shaped lump and place in the center of the thigh. Pull up the meat of either side and fasten with either a couple of lengths of kitchen string or a wooden skewer that has been cut in half. You should assemble the thighs so the elongated stuffing lump fits in the same general direction and space as the removed bone. Repeat with the remaining thighs and stuffing.

Place the stuffed thighs skin side up on a rimmed baking sheet and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Roast until the thighs are crisp and golden brown and a thermometer inserted into the thickest part reaches 165 degrees, 30-35 minutes.

If you have made the thighs ahead and are roasting them directly from the refrigerator you may need to allow for an extra five minutes or so. Let cool for five minutes, cut away the kitchen string or remove the skewers and serve immediately.

Yield: 4-6 servings

Tip: If you cannot find boneless thighs with the skin left on you can ask the butcher to bone them for you. Otherwise you can bone them yourself from the underside leaving the skin intact. The thighs can be assembled up to a day ahead of time and kept in the refrigerator until you are ready to pop them in the oven.

Spinach Ravioli with Tomato Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 ounce Italian salami, finely diced, or pulsed in a food processor
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 28-ounce can San Marzano plum tomatoes, drained, juices reserved
  • 5 or 6 fresh basil leaves, plus more for garnish
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds frozen spinach-and-cheese ravioli
  • 1 ounce ricotta salata or parmesan cheese, grated


Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the salami and garlic and cook, about 1 minute. Crush the tomatoes into the pan with your hands and cook until slightly dry, about 5 minutes. Add the reserved tomato juice, basil, sugar, and salt and pepper to taste. Increase the heat to high and cook until the sauce thickens, about 5 minutes. Stir in 3/4 cup water and reduce the heat to medium-low. Let simmer while you cook the ravioli.

Add salt to the boiling water, then add the ravioli and cook as the label directs; drain. Divide the ravioli among shallow bowls, spoon the sauce on top and sprinkle with the cheese. Garnish with more basil.

Grilled Beef Tenderloin & Arugula Salad

1 lemon
  • 12 ounces beef tenderloin, grilled and sliced

  • 5-8 ounces arugula

  • 1 bulb fennel, thinly shaved

  • 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed, grilled, and slightly chilled

  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved

  • 1 red onion, sliced, grilled, and slightly chilled

  • 1/2 cup low-fat feta cheese, crumbled

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

  • salt

  • pepper

  • 10 chives, chopped

  • Directions

    1. Remove zest and juice from lemon, set aside.
    2. In a bowl, combine beef tenderloin, arugula, fennel, asparagus, grape tomatoes, red onion, low-fat feta cheese, lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper.
    3. Top with lemon zest and chives.

    Mexican Brownies

    Prepare your favorite boxed or homemade brownies, adding 3/4 teaspoon ground chipotle chile pepper and 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon to the batter (for a batch that fits a 9-by-13-inch pan). Top each Mexican brownie with a scoop of dulce de leche ice cream and sprinkle with cinnamon.

    Jen's Creamy Nutella Dip

    Whip 1 c. heavy cream.  Mix into 6 oz. softened cream cheese and a 13-oz. jar of Nutella spread using electric beater.  Add 1/4 c. powdered sugar if desired.  Mix well.  Dip biscotti, cookies, or fruit.

    April 10, 2011

    Shredded Beef, Bean and Corn Fajitas

    • 1  small  red onion, cut into thin wedges (1 cup)
    • 2  cloves  garlic, minced
    • 1  Tbsp.  olive oil
    • 2  cups  Shredded Beef Master Recipe (see recipe below)
    • 1  14.5-oz. can  Mexican-style stewed tomatoes, cut up
    • 1  cup  frozen whole kernel corn
    • 1  cup  canned black beans, rinsed and drained
    • 2  tsp.  chili powder
    • 1/2  cup  seeded and chopped cucumber (1 small)
    • 1/2  cup  peeled and chopped jicama
    • 1  Tbsp.  snipped fresh cilantro
    • 6  7- to 8-inch  flour tortillas, warmed*
    • 1/2  cup  dairy sour cream and/or purchased guacamole


    1. In a large skillet, cook onion and garlic in hot oil over medium heat about 4 minutes or until tender. Stir in shredded beef, undrained tomatoes, corn, beans, and chili powder. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Simmer, uncovered, about 5 minutes or until heated through and desired consistency.
    2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together cucumber, jicama, and cilantro. Divide beef and vegetables among tortillas. Top with cucumber mixture and sour cream and/or guacamole. Makes 6 servings.
    *To warm tortillas, wrap in foil and place in a 350 degree F oven for 10 minutes.
    Shredded Beef Master RecipeTrim fat from a 3 to 3-1/2 pound boneless beef chuck pot roast. If necessary, cut beef to fit a 4- to 5-quart slow cooker. Place 2 large onions, cut into thin wedges and 2 cloves garlic, minced in the cooker. Top with beef. In a medium bowl, combine 1, 14-ounce can beef broth, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, 2 teaspoons dry mustard, 1 teaspoon dried thyme, crushed; 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper. Pour over beef in cooker.
    Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 11 to 12 hours or on high-heat setting for 5-1/2 to 6 hours. Remove beef and onion from cooker, reserving juices. Using two forks, shred beef, discarding any fat. Skim fat from juices. Add onion to beef; add enough juices to beef to moisten. Place 2-cup portions of beef in airtight containers and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months. Makes 6 cups.

    Slow-Cooker Marinara Sauce

    • 1  28-ounce can  whole Italian-style tomatoes, cut up and undrained
    • 2  large  carrots, coarsely chopped (2 cups)
    • 3  stalks  celery, sliced (1 1/2 cups)
    • 1  large  onion, chopped (1 cup)
    • 1  large  green sweet pepper, chopped (1 cup)
    • 1  6-ounce can  tomato paste
    • 1/2  cup  water
    • 1 1/2  teaspoons  bottled minced garlic
    • 2  teaspoons  sugar
    • 2  teaspoons  dried Italian seasoning, crushed
    • 1  teaspoon  salt
    • 1/4  teaspoon  ground black pepper
    • 1    bay leaf
    • 12  ounces  dried pasta, cooked and drained
    •   Shredded Parmesan cheese
    •   Fresh herb sprigs (optional)
    Directions 1. For sauce, in a 3 1/2- or 4-quart slow cooker combine undrained tomatoes, carrots, celery, onion, sweet pepper, tomato paste, water, garlic, sugar, Italian seasoning, salt, black pepper, and bay leaf.
    2. Cover; cook on low-heat setting for 8 to 10 hours or on high-heat setting for 4 to 5 hours.
    3. Remove bay leaf; discard. Toss sauce with hot pasta. Sprinkle mixture with cheese. If desired, garnish with fresh herb sprigs. Makes 6 main-dish servings.

    Slow-Roasted Salmon with Potatoes

    • 3 bunches leeks, trimmed and quartered lengthwise
    • 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
    • Sea salt
    • 3 pounds fresh, skin-on, center-cut wild salmon fillet, pin bones removed
    • 1 1/2 pounds fingerling potatoes
    • 1 shallot
    • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
    • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
    • 2 tablespoons fresh tarragon
    • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley
    • Juice of 1/2 lemon


    Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Toss the leeks in a roasting pan with 1/3 cup olive oil; season with salt. Roast until slightly golden, about 30 minutes.
    Meanwhile, place the salmon in another shallow pan and rub with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Set aside to come to room temperature.
    When the leeks are done, reduce the oven temperature to 275 degrees F. Season the salmon with salt, place over the leeks and brush with the oil in the pan. Roast until firm, 30 to 40 minutes.
    Meanwhile, cook the potatoes in a pot of boiling salted water until fork-tender, about 10 minutes; drain.
    Pulse the shallot in a food processor until minced. Add the butter, chives, tarragon, parsley, lemon juice, and salt to taste and pulse until combined.
    Remove the salmon from the oven and top with half of the herb butter; top the potatoes with the rest. Slice the salmon, season with salt and serve with the leeks and potatoes.

    April 4, 2011

    Instant Chocolate Cake

    Whisk 1/4 cup flour, 5 tablespoons sugar, 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, 1 egg, 3 tablespoons milk, 3 tablespoons vegetable oil and a dash of vanilla extract and salt in a large mug until smooth. Microwave until puffed, about 2 minutes.

    Creamed Chicken and Corn Soup

    • 12  oz.  skinless, boneless chicken thighs
    • 1  26-oz. can  condensed cream of chicken soup
    • 1  14.75-oz. can  cream-style corn
    • 1  14-oz. can  reduced-sodium chicken broth
    • 1  cup  chopped carrot (2 medium)
    • 1  cup  finely chopped onion (1 large)
    • 1  cup  frozen whole kernel corn
    • 1/2  cup  chopped celery (1 stalk)
    • 1/2  cup  water
    • 2  slices  bacon, crisp-cooked, drained, and crumbled


    1. In a 3-1/2- or 4-quart slow cooker, combine chicken, chicken soup, cream-style corn, chicken broth, carrot, onion, frozen corn, celery, and water.
    2. Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 5 to 6 hours or on high-heat setting for 2-1/2 to 3 hours.
    3. Remove chicken from cooker; cool slightly. Chop chicken; stir chopped chicken into soup in cooker. Sprinkle each serving with bacon. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

    Barbecue Quesadillas

    •     Nonstick cooking spray
    • 4  7- or 8-inch  flour tortillas
    • 1  cup  shredded extra-sharp cheddar cheese or Mexican cheese blend (4 ounces)
    • 1  4-ounce can  diced green chiles, drained
    • 1  18-ounce  tub refrigerated barbecue sauce with shredded chicken (2 cups)
    • 1  cup  bottled salsa
    • 1/4  cup  dairy sour cream
    • 1/4  cup  sliced green onion (2)


    1. Coat one side of each tortilla with cooking spray. Place, coated sides down, on cutting board or waxed paper. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of the cheese over half of each tortilla. Top with green chiles and barbecue sauce with chicken. Fold tortillas in half, pressing gently.
    2. Preheat oven to 350. In a hot 10-inch skillet cook quesadillas, two at a time, over medium heat for 6 to 8 minutes or until golden brown, turning once. Place quesadillas on a baking sheet. Keep warm in preheated oven for up to 30 minutes. Repeat with remaining quesadillas. Cut each quesadilla into 3 wedges. Serve with salsa, sour cream, and green onion. Makes 4 servings.
    Turkey-Havarti Quesadillas: Prepare as above, except coat the unsprayed side of each tortilla with 2 teaspoons stone-ground mustard. Substitute Havarti cheese for the cheddar and 16 ounces cooked sliced turkey for the chicken. Omit green chiles, salsa, sour cream, and green onion.
    Bacon, Tomato, and Avocado Quesadillas: Prepare as above, except substitute Monterey Jack cheese for the cheddar, 8 crisp-cooked and crumbled bacon slices, 2 small seeded and coarsely chopped tomatoes; and 1 seeded, peeled, and chopped avocado for the filling. Omit green chiles, barbecue sauce with chicken, salsa, sour cream, and green onion.

    Mark's Couscous Casserole

    • 4  tablespoons  olive oil, plus more for the dish
    • 1  medium  onion, chopped
    • 1  tablespoon  garlic, minced
    • 1  pound  ground beef, pork, lamb, turkey, or chicken
    • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
    • 1/4  teaspoon  freshly ground black pepper
    • 2  medium  zucchini or summer squash, thinly sliced
    • 1/4  cup  chicken or vegetable stock or water
    • 4  cups  tomato sauce
    • 1/2  cup  couscous
    •   Freshly grated Parmesan cheese for garnish, optional
    Directions 1. Oil a 1-1/2- to 2-quart gratin dish or any oblong baking pan. Heat the oven to 400 degree F.
    2. Put 2 tablespoons of the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add the onion and garlic and cook until just beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the meat and stir to break it up; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Cook until the meat is no longer pink, about 8 to 10 minutes more depending on the kind of meat; set aside.
    3. While the meat cooks, put the zucchini slices on a baking sheet, drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Transfer to the oven and roast until just tender, 5 to 8 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 350 degree F.
    4. Put the stock and tomato sauce in a medium saucepan over medium heat and bring to a gentle bubble. Stir in the couscous and turn off the heat; let sit for about 10 minutes.
    5. Spoon a thin layer of the tomato sauce mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan and top with zucchini slices and then a portion of the meat. Repeat the layers until you have used up all the ingredients, finishing with the tomato sauce. Bake the casserole until it's bubbling along the edges, about 25 minutes. Serve hot, sprinkled with Parmesan cheese if you like.

    Meatballs a la Pizzaiola

    • 8 ounces smoked mozzarella cheese
    • 2 large shallots, chopped
    • 1/4 cup (5 to 6) sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained
    • 1/3 cup packed fresh basil leaves
    • 1/3 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
    • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
    • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
    • 3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
    • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
    • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef chuck (80% lean)
    • 1 pound ground pork
    • Olive oil, for frying
    • Vegetable oil, for frying
    • Marinara sauce, warmed, for serving (optional)


    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Dice the smoked mozzarella into 1/2-inch cubes. Set aside.

    In a food processor, pulse the shallots, sun-dried tomatoes, basil, shredded mozzarella, parmesan, tomato paste, red pepper flakes, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper until blended. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl. Add the beef and pork and, using a wooden spoon or clean hands, stir until combined. Form into 1 1/4-to-1 1/2-inch meatballs. Insert 1 cube smoked mozzarella into the center of each meatball and form the meat around it, enclosing the cheese.

    In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, pour equal parts olive oil and vegetable oil to fill the pan halfway. Heat over medium-high heat until a deep-fry thermometer reaches 350 degrees F. In batches, fry the meatballs until dark brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove and drain on a paper towel-lined plate.

    Place the fried meatballs on a foil-lined baking sheet. Put in the oven and bake until cooked through, 10 to 12 minutes. Cool slightly, then serve immediately with marinara sauce, if desired.

    Italian Meatloaf

    • 2 lb. Hamburger
    • 2 Eggs
    • 2/3 C. Quick Oats
    • 1 envelope Onion Soup Mix
    • 1/2 C. Pasta Sauce
    • 1 tsp. Garlic Powder


    Mix and put in crock on low for 8 hours. I put onion slices on the top. Oh, to get this out easy, fold some aluminum foil into 2 thick strips and criss cross them in the bottom of the crock first. When it's done, you just grab the 4 pieces of foil that are sticking out and it pulls right out.

    Orange Glazed Blueberry Scones

    • 2 cups unbleached flour, plus more for rolling berries
    • 1 tablespoon baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1/3 cup sugar
    • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, chilled and cut in chunks
    • 3/4 cup buttermilk or cream
    • 1 egg
    • 1 pint fresh blueberries


    Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
    In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar; mix thoroughly. Cut in butter using 2 forks or a pastry blender. The butter pieces should be coated with flour and resemble crumbs.
    In another bowl, mix buttermilk and egg together, and then add to the flour mixture. Mix just to incorporate, do no overwork the dough.
    Roll blueberries in flour to coat, this will help prevent the fruit from sinking to the bottom of the scone when baked. Fold the blueberries into batter, being careful not to bruise. Drop large tablespoons of batter on an ungreased cookie sheet.
    Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until brown. Cool before applying orange glaze.

    Orange Glaze:

    • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
    • 2 oranges, juiced and zested
    To prepare Orange Glaze: combine butter, sugar, orange zest, and juice over a double boiler. Cook until butter and sugar are melted and mixture has thickened. Remove from heat and beat until smooth and slightly cool. Drizzle or brush on top of scones and let glaze get hazy and hardened.

    Mediterranean Brisket

    • 1  3-pound  fresh beef brisket
    • 3  teaspoons  dried Greek seasoning or Italian seasoning, crushed
    • 2  medium  fennel bulbs, trimmed, cored, and cut into thick wedges; or 4 stalks celery, cut into 1/2-inch slices, plus 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
    • 1  14.5-ounce can  diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano, undrained
    • 1/2  cup  beef broth
    • 1/4  cup  pitted green, kalamata, and/or ripe olives
    • 3/4  teaspoon  salt
    • 1/2  teaspoon  finely shredded lemon peel
    • 1/4  teaspoon  ground black pepper
    • 1/4  cup  water
    • 2  tablespoons  all-purpose flour
    •     Hot cooked noodles or rice (optional)


    1. Trim fat from meat. If necessary, cut meat to fit into a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker. Sprinkle meat with 1 teaspoon of the Greek seasoning; rub in with your fingers. Place meat in the cooker. Top with fennel wedges or celery and fennel seeds.
    2. In a medium bowl, combine undrained tomatoes, broth, olives, salt, lemon peel, pepper, and the remaining 2 teaspoons Greek seasoning. Pour over brisket mixture in cooker.
    3. Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 10 to 11 hours or on high-heat setting for 5 to 5 1/2 hours.
    4. Remove meat from slow cooker, reserving cooking juices. Thinly slice meat. Arrange meat and vegetables on a serving platter. Cover meat and vegetables; keep warm. Pour cooking juices into a glass measuring cup; skim off fat.
    5. For sauce, if necessary, add water to cooking juices to make 2 cups. Transfer to a small saucepan. In a small bowl, combine the 1/4 cup water and the flour; stir into mixture in saucepan. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir for 1 minute more. Serve sauce with meat and vegetables. If desired, serve with hot cooked noodles.

    Pot Roast with Fruit-Chipotle Sauce

    • 1  3-pound  boneless beef chuck pot roast
    • 2  teaspoons  garlic-pepper seasoning
    • 1  7-ounce package  mixed dried fruit
    • 1/2  cup  water
    • 1  tablespoon  finely chopped chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
    • 1  tablespoon  water
    • 2  teaspoons  cornstarch


    1. Sprinkle both sides of meat with garlic-pepper seasoning. If necessary, cut meat to fit into a 3-1/2- or 4-quart slow cooker. Place meat in the cooker. Add fruit, the 1/2 cup water, and the peppers.
    2. Cover and cook on low-heat setting for 10 to 11 hours or on high-heat setting for 5 to 5-1/2 hours. Transfer meat and fruit to a serving platter. Cover and keep warm.
    3. Transfer cooking liquid to a bowl or glass measuring cup; skim off fat. In a medium saucepan combine the 1 tablespoon water and the cornstarch; add cooking liquid. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly; cook and stir for 2 minutes more. Thinly slice meat. Spoon sauce over sliced meat and fruit. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

    Spicy Lime Beef Salad

    • 1  pound  sugar snap peas, ends and strings trimmed
    • 1    red bell pepper, quartered, cored and thinly sliced
    • 1    medium cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded and sliced thin
    • 1  pound  skirt or flank steak
    • 1/4  teaspoon  kosher salt
    •     Freshly ground black pepper
    • 3  tablespoons  vegetable oil
    • 2    shallots, thinly sliced
    • 2  tablespoons  fresh lime juice
    • 2  tablespoons  fish sauce
    • 1/2    fresh red chile (seeds and veins removed for less heat if desired), sliced crosswise
    • 1 1/2  teaspoons  sugar
    • 1  cup  grape tomatoes, halved
    • 2  tablespoons  cilantro, chopped
    • 2  tablespoons  mint leaves, chopped
    • 2  tablespoons  roasted unsalted peanuts, chopped (optional)


    1. Bring a medium saucepan of water to a boil. Add the sugar snaps and boil 1 minute. Drain and cool under cold running water; drain well. Slice sugar snaps on the diagonal into 1-inch pieces. Transfer to a shallow serving bowl and add the bell pepper and cucumber.
    2. Heat a medium nonstick skillet over high heat 2 minutes. Pat the steak dry and season on both sides with the salt and black pepper to taste. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil to skillet and cook steak, turning once, until seared, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
    3. Pour remaining oil into skillet. Add the shallots and sauté over medium-high heat until browned, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the lime juice, fish sauce, chile and sugar. Remove from heat.
    4. Transfer steak to a cutting board; pour the juices from the plate into skillet. Thinly slice steak across the grain and return sliced meat to skillet; toss to coat.
    5. Pour steak and shallot mixture over sugar snaps, bell pepper and cucumber. Garnish with the tomatoes, cilantro and mint and the peanuts if desired; serve immediately.

    Mushroom and Asparagus Salad

    • 1    whole-wheat English muffin (or 1 slice whole-wheat bread), torn into pieces
    • 4  teaspoons  grated Parmesan
    • 1/3  cup  plus 2 teaspoons olive oil
    • 1/2  teaspoon  kosher salt
    •     Freshly ground black pepper
    • 2  tablespoons  minced shallot
    • 2  tablespoons  balsamic vinegar
    • 2  tablespoons  reduced-sodium soy sauce
    • 2  teaspoons  fresh thyme leaves, chopped, or pinch dried thyme
    • 1 1/2  pounds  thin asparagus, trimmed
    • 3  cups  trimmed and sliced cremini mushrooms
    • 5  cups  salad greens
    • 2    hard-boiled eggs, peeled and finely chopped


    1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. In a food processor, pulse the English muffin into large, fluffy crumbs. Transfer bread crumbs to a medium bowl; toss with the Parmesan and 2 teaspoons of the oil. Season with the salt and black pepper to taste.
    2. Whisk together remaining oil and the shallot, vinegar, soy sauce and thyme and a pinch of black pepper in a small bowl.
    3. Spread the asparagus evenly on two rimmed baking sheets. Drizzle each sheet with 2 tablespoons of the dressing; shake to coat.
    4. In another medium bowl, toss the mushrooms with 2 tablespoons dressing. Scatter mushrooms evenly over asparagus, reserving bowl. Roast the vegetables 10 minutes.
    5. Toss roasted asparagus and mushrooms to coat with their cooking juices and scatter bread crumbs over each sheet. Return sheets to oven and roast another 8 to 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender and bread crumbs are browned.
    6. In reserved bowl, toss the salad greens with 2 tablespoons dressing; store leftover dressing in the refrigerator. Pile the salad on dinner plates. Top with asparagus and mushrooms, sprinkle with the chopped egg and serve.

    Roast chicken with Spring Vegetables

    • 3 1/2 pounds skin-on, bone-in chicken quarters
    • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
    • 1 lemon, halved
    • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1 pound fingerling or other small potatoes
    • 2 bunches radishes 1 bunch scallions
    • 1 bunch baby carrots
    • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill


    Preheat the oven to 500 degrees F. Rinse the chicken and pat dry. Season with salt and pepper, then place skin-side up on a rimmed baking sheet. Squeeze 1/2 lemon over the chicken and drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Roast 15 minutes.

    Meanwhile, cut the potatoes and radishes in half and cut the scallions into thirds. Toss the potatoes, radishes, carrots and the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil in a bowl; season with salt and pepper.

    Remove the chicken from the oven and scatter the vegetables around it. Continue to roast until the vegetables are tender and the chicken is golden and cooked through, about 20 more minutes. Squeeze the remaining 1/2 lemon over the chicken and vegetables. Top with the dill and season with salt.