Sunday, May 31, 2009

Summer Salad of Strawberries, Goat Cheese and Walnuts

Summer, with its sweltering heat, is definitely a time for crisp, cool salads. I love salads with fruit in them. In the fall, I'll use dried fruit like cranberries, apricots, and raisins. But in the summer, nothing other than fresh fruit will do. I've just got to have tart blackberries, sweet watermelon, zesty orange slices, and juicy strawberries!

You may notice this recipe doesn't have any quantities. That's because I think salads should be left up to the individual. Just throw in however much YOU want and any salad will be a perfect and refreshing summer meal!

Summer Salad with Strawberries, Goat Cheese, and Walnuts
an "Apple a Day" original

chopped romaine or other crisp lettuce
sliced strawberries
goat cheese
spiced nuts
honey balsamic dressing

1. Create a bed of lettuce and arrange berries, cheese, and nuts on top. Drizzle with dressing.

One year ago: Angie's famous strawberry cupcakes--the most incredible strawberry cupcakes you'll ever eat!

Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette

This vinaigrette (as many times as I type that word it will never look right!) is perfect on any salad, especially one with fruit in it. It's light, full of flavor, and slightly sweet. On top of all that, it comes together in a pinch!

Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette
an "Apple a Day" original

3/4 c. balsamic vinegar
2 TBSP honey, preferably dark
juice of one lemon
2/3 c. extra-virgin olive oil
salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste

1. Combine first three ingredients in a medium bowl.

2. While whisking, stream in olive oil. Add salt and pepper, taste. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Spiced Nuts

These little gems are perfect for a party. They're great to set around in a pretty bowl for nibbles, as part of a cheese platter, or as a salad topper. They are incredibly simple to make and can be stored in an airtight container for up to two weeks, meaning you can make them well before the day. Score! I love having things crossed off my to-do list days before the event!

Spiced Nuts
adapted from Martha Stewart, The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook

1 large egg white
1/4 c. light brown sugar
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. ground allspice
3/4 tsp. ground cumin
1 3/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
2 1/2 c. assorted nuts (pecan halves, walnuts, cashews, or almonds)

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

2. Beat the egg white until soft and foamy and no clear liquid remains in bottom of bowl.

3. In a large bowl, combine all remaining ingredients except nuts. Whisk into egg white. Stir in nuts until well coated.

4. Spread the nuts, in a single layer, on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes.

5. Remove nuts from oven. Reduce temperature to 250 degrees. Using a metal spatula, toss stir and separate the nuts.

6. Return nuts to oven and bake until medium brown, about ten minutes more.

7. Remove nuts from oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool. Be sure to break up any nuts that are stuck together.

One year ago: chicken with mango barbecue sauce and key lime cupcakes with white chocolate-coconut frosting

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Cuban Beef Picadillo

I haven't been feeling so hot lately. At first I thought it was just my allergies again, but it turned into a nasty sinus infection and cough. I haven't cooked in several days and I was really craving something hearty, flavorful, and warm. This was great on all three points! I'll definitely be making it again come fall, when chili weather arrives.

Cuban Beef Picadillo
adapted from


1 TBSP olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 lb. lean ground beef chuck
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 TBSP chili powder
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground allspice
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes with juices
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 3/4 c. beef stock
2/3 c. raisins or currants
2 TBSP tomato paste
1/3 c. red wine vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Steamed white or brown rice for serving
1. In a large, deep fry pan over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion and sauté until translucent, 3 to 4 minutes.
2. Add the beef and cook, stirring to break up any clumps, until the meat begins to brown, 7 to 8 minutes. Spoon off and discard the excess fat.

3. Stir in the garlic, chili powder, cinnamon, allspice, and oregano and cook, stirring frequently, for 1 minute.
4. Stir in the tomatoes with their juices, beans, stock, raisins, tomato paste and vinegar. Bring to a simmer, reduce the heat to medium and cook, uncovered, until thickened to a stewlike consistency, 10 to 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

5. Divide the steamed rice among 4 shallow bowls, ladle the picadillo on top and serve.

One year ago: Zucchini and sweet potato muffins, one of my favorite muffins ever.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Blackberry Lime Cornmeal Muffins

I'm trying to make a concerted effort to not throw out so much food. It's wasteful, it's expensive, and it's not that much work to do a little extra planning before I go to the store. Still, an expiration date creeps up on me every now and then. Case in point, the blackberries and limes I used in this recipe. They were hanging on to their last days. Good thing they go together so well!

Now I realize I've been talking about trying to eat healthier lately. I know muffins aren't exactly the healthiest. I did make quite an effort to lighten up the original recipe (along with changing the fruits to suit my needs) so I really don't feel quite as bad about eating these. Plus, if I have to splurge, I could really do a lot worse. how's that for convenient logic?

Blackberry Lime Cornmeal Muffins
adapted from

1/2 stick (1/4 c.) unsalted butter
3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 c. yellow cornmeal
1/3 c. granulated sugar
zest and juice of two small limes, divided
1/2 c. skim milk
2 large egg yolks
1 (5.6-oz.) container blackberries

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. and line eight to nine muffin cups with liners.
2. Melt butter and cool.
3. Into a large bowl, sift together flour and baking powder and whisk in cornmeal, sugar, lime zest, and a generous pinch salt.
4. In a separate bowl, whisk together melted butter, milk, lime juice, and yolks and add to flour mixture with all but eight or nine berries, gently stirring until just combined.
5. Divide batter evenly among cups using a standard-sized scoop and press remaining berries into tops of muffins.
6. Bake muffins in middle of oven about 15 minutes, or until tops are golden and a tester comes out clean.
7. Remove muffins from cups and cool on a rack. Muffins keep in an airtight container at room temperature 2 days.
One year ago: May 2008 was great! Try this incredible ciabatta pizza with walnut pesto. My mom loved it so much, she included in the family cookbook she made all of us for Christmas.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Summer Shrimp and Vegetable Toss with Basil

This was one of those recipes I picked because I thought it would taste alright but be very, very healthy. I was partially correct. It was definitely healthy. The part I was wrong about--the complete and total surprise--was that this was absolutely DELICIOUS! It was light and fresh and just packed with bright, clean flavors. I cannot wait to make this again. What a wonderful, don't-use-your-oven summer recipe!

**When I took leftovers for lunch the next day, I threw in some extra black beans. It was a wonderful addition!

Summer Shrimp and Vegetable Toss with Basil
adapted from Best of Cooking Light 2004

also found on



1/2 c. vegetable broth

1 1/2 tsp. cornstarch

3 TBSP fresh lime juice

2 tsp. extra virgin olive oil

3/4 tsp. light brown sugar

1/2 tsp. ground cumin

1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


1 lb. medium shrimp, cooked and peeled

1 1/2 c. julienne-cut yellow squash (one small)

1 1/2 c. julienne-cut zucchini (one small)

1 c. julienne-cut green bell pepper

1 1/2 c. cherry tomatoes, halved

1 c. fresh or frozen corn kernels--about 2 ears
3 TBSP minced fresh basil (also good with cilantro)


1. To prepare dressing, combine broth and cornstarch in a small saucepan, stirring with a whisk; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.

2. Remove from heat; stir in juice and remaining ingredients. Cool completely.

3. To prepare salad, combine shrimp and remaining ingredients in a large bowl.
4. Add dressing mixture to shrimp mixture, tossing well.
One year ago: The Mother's Day menu my mom adored--mini zucchini and goat cheese tarts, Mother's Day salad with herb-marinated chicken, grilled herbed peaches, basmati rice with sweet onions and herbs, and chocolate pavlova with Chambord cream and fresh berries

Monday, May 11, 2009

Banana Oatmeal Scotchie Bars

My pantry is crazy full. Between my roommate and I, I bet we have enough food to feed a family of four for a month. I'm not exaggerating. A month. I enjoy having a well-stocked pantry, but that just seems excessive.

When taking inventory, I noticed I had a whole bag of butterscotch chips I had no idea what to do with. I also had a nearly-full canister of oats I hadn't been working on, a bag of walnuts, and a couple of overripe bananas. Perfect. Time to bake...

Banana Oatmeal Scotchie Bars
adapted from

1 c. all-purpose flour
1 c. whole-wheat flour
1 c. quick-cooking oats
1 TBSP baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 c. granulated sugar
1 1/4 c. (packed) dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1/3 c. mashed ripe bananas (about 2 large)
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 bag butterscotch chips
1 c. walnuts, toasted and chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and flour 15x10x1-inch baking sheet.

2. Blend first four ingredients in medium bowl.

3. Beat butter in large bowl until fluffy. Add both sugars and beat until well blended.

4. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in bananas, then vanilla.

5. Stir in flour mixture, then chocolate and pecans.
6. Spread batter in prepared pan. Bake until tester inserted into center comes out clean and top is golden, about 25 minutes.
7. Cool in pan on rack. Cut into 3x2-inch bars and serve.
One year ago: The absolutely fabulous and impressive looking dessert from my 2008 Mother's Day menu--chocolate pavlova with Chambord cream and fresh berries.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Tilapia with Sweet Peppers

Still on a healthy kick but looking for quick weeknight options, I turned to Williams-Sonoma in search of some easy fish recipes. Phoenix isn't known for its wide selection of fresh fish, so I tend to stick to tilapia and orange roughy, both of which are fished from the Sea of Cortez in nearby Puerto Penasco, Mexico. The following recipe fit all of my criteria--healthy, quick, and using fish I know was still in the ocean within the last couple of days. Enjoy!

Tilapia with Sweet Peppers

3 TBSP olive oil
3 red, orange, or yellow bell peppers, seeded and sliced
1 large garlic clove, sliced
1/4 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 c. chicken or vegetable stock
1/4 tsp. salt, plus more, to taste
freshly ground pepper, to taste
4 tilapia fillets, about 1 1/2 lb. total, pin bones removed
1/4 tsp. paprika
1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. sherry vinegar

1. In a deep fry pan over medium heat, warm 2 Tbs. of the olive oil. Add the bell peppers and cook, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes.

2. Add the garlic, oregano, stock, the 1/4 tsp. salt and a pinch of pepper. Cover and cook until the peppers are tender and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 20 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, place the fillets on a plate. Season on both sides with the paprika and then sprinkle with salt.

4. Set a large, heavy fry pan over low heat to preheat. When the peppers are nearly done, increase the heat under the empty fry pan to medium-high. Add the remaining 1 Tbs. oil.

5. Sprinkle the fillets on both sides with the flour, shaking off any excess. Add the fillets to the pan and cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Turn the fillets over and cook until just opaque throughout, about 3 minutes.

6. Stir the vinegar into the peppers and season with salt and pepper.

7. Transfer the fillets to individual plates. Spoon the peppers over and alongside the fillets and serve immediately.

One year ago: perfect classic brownies and sausage and herb-stuffed pork loin, a sure-to-impress entree that isn't nearly as difficult to cook as it looks

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Stuffed Turkey Burgers

The healthy recipes continue with this one. I've got to rock that swimsuit, people! But I refuse to be hungry. Hungry means cranky. Cranky means I'm not a very good teacher until I get some food. That's not good. I've got to make sure I keep myself full, happy, and healthy.

This recipe definitely fits the bill. I took one bite and immediately knew these burgers would be making several more appearances this summer. They were so delicious, especially when served with a side of delicious garlic oven "fries". I can honestly say these burgers and the garlic fries would satisfy even the meanest craving for a big ol' greasy burger and fries. That's saying a lot. My junk food cravings are usually pretty strong!

Stuffed Turkey Burgersadapted from Ellie Krieger, The Food You Crave


1 1/4 lb. lean ground turkey breast
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. salt
freshly-ground black pepper
1/2 c. roasted red peppers, chopped
1/2 c. shredded part-skim mozzarella
1/3 c. light balsamic mayo (3 parts mayo to 1 part balsamic vinegar)
1/2 c. basil leaves

1. Preheat outdoor grill or indoor grill pan over medium to medium-high heat.

2. Sprinkle garlic, salt, and pepper over ground turkey. Mix in by hand. Do not overwork meat.

3. Divide turkey into 4 equal sized rounds. Make 2 equal sized patties out of each round so you have 8 patties total.

4. On each of the four patties, put 2 TBSP each of red peppers and cheese. Top with remaining patties, working the turkey around the edges to seal burgers closed.

5. Grill or broil until cooked through, about 5 minutes per side.

6. Serve on whole-wheat buns with light balsamic mayo and basil.

One year ago: summer orzo salad, my favorite healthy summer recipe

Garlic Oven Fries

These are great. So full of flavor, but missing almost all of the fat. These will actually satisfy a french fry craving without all the grease!

Garlic Oven Fries
slightly adapted from Ellie Krieger, The Food You Crave


3 cloves garlic, minced

2 TBSP canola oil

3 large potatoes--baking, sweet, or mixed

1/2 tsp. salt, plus more to taste

cooking spray
1 TBSP finely chopped flat-leaf pasley


1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

2. Heat the garlic and oil together in a small saucepan over medium heat for two minutes. Strain the garlic from the oil. Set both garlic and oil aside.

3. Cut potatoes into 1/2-inch thick matchsticks. In a large bowl, toss together oil, potatoes, and salt.

4. Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray and spread the potatoes on it in a single layer. Bake until golden and crisp, about 35 minutes.

5. Remove potatoes baking sheet with a metal spatula. Toss with parsley, reserved garlic, and salt to taste. Serve immediately.

One year ago: five-veggie, four-cheese lasagna