Spiced Lentils & Collard Greens

img_1843Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

1/2 cup black lentils
1 bunch of collared greens
1 yellow onion
1 lemon (including 2 tsp of lemon zest)
2 tsp. Ras El Hanout ( I like the one from William Sonoma)
Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

1. Cook the lentils:
Heat a large pot of salted water to boiling on high. (discard any pebbles you see in the lentils;   Rinse the lentils and drain thoroughly. Add the lentils to the pot of boiling water and cook, uncovered, 24 to 26 minutes, or until tender. Drain thoroughly and return to the pot. Set aside in a warm place.

4. Prepare the ingredients:
While the lentils cook, wash and dry the fresh produce. Peel and thinly slice the onion.
Remove and throw out the collard green stems and roughly chop the leaves.   Use a zester to get 2 tsps. of lemon zest from the lemon.  Cut the lemon in  quarters and take out the seeds.

img_1839

3. Cook the collard greens:
While the lentils continue to cook, in a medium pan (nonstick, if you have one), heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the onion and ras el hanout; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, 2 to 3 minutes, or until softened and fragrant. Add the collard greens; season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, 1 to 2 minutes, or until slightly wilted. Add ½ cup of water and cook, stirring occasionally, 3 to 4 minutes, or until the collard greens have wilted and the water has cooked off. Transfer to a bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste.

4. Finish the lentils & plate your dish:
To the pot of cooked lentils, add the cooked collard greens, lemon zest and the juice of 2 lemon wedges (just 1/2 of the lemon); stir to combine and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with your favorite fish or chicken dish.

Grandma’s Make-ahead Mashed Potatoes


Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Yield: Makes 12 to 15 servings

 

Ingredients:

15 medium (5 pounds) potatoes peeled and quartered
6-8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup  light sour cream
2 teaspoons onion powder
salt and freshly-ground black pepper to taste
2 egg whites slightly beaten (or one whole egg)
2-4 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup chopped chives (optional)

Instructions:

Preparing Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes:

In a large pot, add cut-up potatoes and just enough cold water until potatoes are covered; bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium; cover and let simmer 15 to 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork.   Overcooking can cause the potatoes to become gummy.

Remove from heat and immediately drain potatoes thoroughly in a colander.  Return to saucepan; heat over medium-low heat approximately 1 to 2 minutes to dry potatoes, stirring occasionally.  NOTE: Boiled potatoes left in water will start to jellify and may even increase in volume (becoming swollen and watery).  That is why it is important to let the potatoes drain for a couple of minutes in a colander immediately after they are cooked.

In the same cooking pan, mash potatoes with a potato masher or potato ricer until there are no lumps.

TIP: NEVER use a blender, electric mixer, or food processor to make mashed potatoes.Gluey or gooey mashed potatoes are caused by vigorous over mashing, When potatoes are boiled, their starch granules swell.  If those granules are broken too vigorously, the cells release copious quantities of starch, resulting in a potatoes with the consistency of wallpaper paste.

Add cream cheese, sour cream, onion powder, salt, pepper, egg whites, and chopped chives (if desired); blend well.

Spray a large casserole dish with vegetable-oil cooking spray. Add potato mixture and dot with butter.

Cool mashed potatoes slightly, cover, and then refrigerate.

The prepared mashed potatoes may be made up to 7 days ahead of time.  If preparing ahead, remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Place in an ovenproof baking dish if not already stored in this dish.


When ready to heat the potatoes:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Take potatoes out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking.
Bake, loosely covered, 40 minutes or until steaming hot in center.

Crock Pot – Slow Cooker Make-Ahead Mashed Potato Recipe:

Mashed Potatoes in slow cookerYou can use this crock pot/slow cooker version, if you need to free up your oven for other dishes when making my holiday meals.

Take the prepared mashed potatoes out of refrigerator about 3 1/2 hours before serving time.  See Preparing Make-Ahead Mashed Potatoes above.  Place the mashed potatoes in the crock-pot/slow cooker.  Cover and use low heat for approximately 3 hours, stirring once or twice.

When you are ready to serve the mashed potatoes, stir, and then add some additional dollops of butter.

Savory Sweet Potato Fries

img_7430Savory Sweet Potato Fries

Yield: 4 servings

 

Ingredients

2 sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic
¼ tsp hot pepper flakes
2 ½ Tablespoons fresh thyme (rough chopped)

 

Instructions

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
2. Wash and prepare the fresh ingredients:
– Cut the sweet potatoes in 3rds and then cut each “wheel” in 8ths to make wedges
– Peel and finely chop the garlic cloves.
– Chop the fresh thyme.
3. Prepare the Fries:
– Place all the ingredients in a bowl and toss to coat the potatoes.
– Place the potato wedges on a Teflon coated jelly roll pan (or lightly greased cookie sheet) and spread in one layer on the pan.
4.Cook the Fries:
Cook for 20 -25 minutes on until nicely browned turning once with a spatula after about 10 minutes.  Serve hot or at room temperature. Enjoy!

Summer Vegetables

My daughter and I started a SP cleanse once together that required us to refrain from grains, dairy, nuts, meat or fish during the purification process.  We were getting bored with simply raw or steamed vegetables and fruit along with our SP Shakes.

Here is a yummy side dish we stumbled upon via Blue Apron, that is both full of flavor and guilt-free too.

DFTSI Summer Vegetables _6392Summer Vegetables

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Serves: 2

DFTSI Summer Vegetables _6367

Ingredients

  • 6 ounces of cherry tomatoes
  • 6 ounces of summer beans
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • sea salt and pepper

DFTSI Summer Vegetables _6368

1.  Prepare the ingredients:

Wash and dry the fresh produce.  Snap off and discard the bean stems; cut into 2-inch pieces.  Half the tomatoes. Peel and mince the garlic.

 DFTSI Summer Vegetables _6372
2. Cook the vegetables:

In a medium pan (nonstick, if you have one), heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the beans; season lightly with sea salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 2 to 3 minutes, or until slightly softened. Add ½ cup of water and cook, stirring occasionally, 6 to 8 minutes, or until the water has cooked off.

DFTSI Summer Vegetables _6373

Add the tomatoes and garlic; add a little bit more of sea salt and pepper if needed. Cook, stirring occasionally, 2 to 3 minutes, or until slightly softened. Transfer to a bowl. Enjoy!

DFTSI Summer Vegetables _6392

Easy Bruschetta

IMG_3385

Bruschetta is and italian antipasto  that boasts a  mixture of chopped tomatoes, balsamic, basil, and garlic, spooned over olive oil brushed slices of toasted baguette or rustic bread. It’s like summer on toast!

You can  prepare the topping  and toast the baguette slices ahead of time if needed. Then you can assemble right before serving.

Easy Bruschetta 

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Yield: Makes 24 small slices (serves 6-10 as an appetizer)

Ingredients

  • 2 pints of cherry tomatoes (I like to use 1 red and 1 yellow)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 6-8 fresh basil leaves, thinly sliced* or chopped
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, more or less to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, more or less to taste
  • 1 baguette French bread or similar Italian bread
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (plus a little more for brushing the toast)

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 450°F.

2. Prepare the topping: Finely chop the cherry tomatoes (in 6 pieces) and place them in a medium bowl. Mix in the minced garlic, 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, and the balsamic vinegar. Stir in the thinly sliced basil and add salt and freshly ground black pepper, adding more to taste. Set aside to marinate.

3. Prepare the baguette slices: Use a bread knife to slice the baguette on the diagonal making half-inch thick slices. Brush one side of each slice with olive oil with a pastry brush and place on a baking sheet or roasting pan.  Sprinkle with a little kosher salt.  Place in the oven on the top rack and toast for 5-6 minutes. Check for doneness and if needed, toast for 1-2 minutes more until lightly browned and slightly crunchy.  Allow the toast to cool.

4.  Assemble the bruschetta:  Place a small spoonful of topping on toasted bread and place on a serving platter. These can be made up to 30 minutes before serving and still be crunchy due to the toasting with olive oil.

You can also serve the toasts plain with a bowl of the tomato bruschetta mixture on the side for people to top their own.

Psst!   Trader Joe’s offers Bruschetta Sauce in a plastic carton in the refrigerator section and is a great substitute for making your own tomato bruschetta mixture when you are in a hurry.

 

Grilled Artichoke Frittata Squares

Grilled Artichoke Frittata Squares

Yield:   16 frittata squares
Cook Time:   35-40 minutes
These tasty protein-rich appetizers are delicious served fresh and hot from the oven but are also great served cooled, or after having chilled in the fridge. They also make a great on-the-go quick breakfast treat for those rushed mornings when made the night before.

Ingredients

  • 1 12 oz. jar Trade Joe’s grilled marinated artichoke hearts, chopped (approx. 1 cup) -Don’t forget to reserve the liquid
  • 3-4 green onions, diced
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 4 eggs
  • 8 crispy crackers, (I like Ritz toasted original crackers) crumbled
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 1/4 cups of your favorite cheese, shredded (I use sharp cheddar cheese – approximately 8 oz.)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley plus a sprig for garnish

Directions

Preheat over to 350 degrees.  Pour 1/4 cup of artichoke marinade into a skillet and set aside. Chop artichoke hearts into roughly 1/2-inch-sized pieces and set aside. Heat marinade in skillet and add onions and garlic. Sauté until onions are tender (about 3-4 minutes). Remove from heat.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk eggs until thoroughly beaten. Add crumbled crackers, salt and pepper, cheese, parsley, artichoke mixture and stir to combine.  Pour mixture into a 8×8-inch baking pan prepared with nonstick cooking spray). Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes or until set and very slightly browned on top. Allow to cool in pan, then cut into 16 bite-size squares.

Gruyere Cheese and Basil Sandwiches

grilled cheese

Gourmet Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Makes: 2 Servings

Ingredients

  • 4 Slices Sourdough Bread
  • 3-4  Ounces of Gruyere Cheese
  • 4-6 large Basil Leaves
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter

Preparation:

Prepare ingredients:
Pick the basil leaves off the stems; discard the stems. Wash and dry the basil leaves. Thinly slice the cheese into large pieces.

Assemble the sandwiches:

Lay the bread slices on a clean, dry work surface. Divide the cheese slices and half of the basil between 2 of the bread slices;  Complete the sandwiches with the remaining bread slices.  Spread 1/4 of the butter on each of the top slices of bread.

IMG_1330

Cook the sandwiches:

Heat a griddle or fry pan on medium until hot. Add the sandwiches (butter side down) and cook 3 to 4 minutes on the first side, or until golden brown and crispy. Add the remaining butter on the unbuttered bread and carefully flip the sandwiches. Cook 3 to 4 minutes, or until the cheese has melted. Transfer to a clean, dry work surface.
Plate your Dish:
Cut the cooked sandwiches in half and divide between 2 plates. Serve with Easy Tomato Soup on the side. Enjoy!

Caesar Salad with Salmon and Oven-Toasted Sourdough Croutons

Caesar Salad with Salmon and Oven-Toasted Sourdough Croutons

Ceasar Salad with Seared Salmon

Makes: 2 Servings

It is rare that my oldest daughter is home and we get to cook together.  Yesterday was one of those treats.  Together we whipped up a delicious Caesar Salad and turned it into a hearty entree by adding a flakey, pan seared salmon fillet and homemade croutons. The creamy dressing is light and tangy.  This is an easy dinner prepared in less than 30 minutes.   We enjoyed it out on the back patio.  The meal together was heaven on earth!

Ingredients

Continue reading

Refreshing Tomato Cucumber and Onion Salad

tomato cucumber and onion salad

Easy and refreshing, this quick salad recipe is great for summer.  I love to mix up the tomatoes for a unique twist.  It takes just 5 minutes to prepare and is big on tangy flavor.  Include it at your next BBQ!

 

Tomato Cucumber and Onion Salad

Ingredients

Approximately 1 pound of tomatoes (I like  small heirloom tomatoes, combined with grape and cherry tomatoes, quartered or  halved lengthwise depending on the size)
1/4 red onion (or sweet Maui Onion) peeled, halved lengthwise, and thinly sliced
1 Kirby cucumber, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
A generous drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, about 2 tablespoons
1 splashes red wine vinegar
1 splash of apple cider vinegar
Coarse salt and black pepper

Directions

Dress the tomatoes, onions, and cucumber with olive oil,  vinegars, salt, and pepper.

Let stand to allow onions to mellow and flavors to blend, about 20 minutes. Re-toss and serve salad with crusty bread for mopping up juices and oil.

Shrimp Scampi with Zoodles

I just recently discovered the spiralizer – a fabulous kitchen gadget allowing you to turn traditional pasta meals into healthy low carb ones using vegetables instead of noodles.  Here is my latest family favorite.

SKINNY SHRIMP SCAMPI

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes

Yield: 4 servings

INGREDIENTS

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 pound medium raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
3-5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more, to taste
1/4 cup vegetable stock
Zest of one lemon
Juice of 1 large lemon
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 1/2 – 2 pounds (4-5 medium-sized) zucchini, spiralized
2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves, optional

INSTRUCTIONS

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add shrimp, garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring occasionally, until pink, about 2-3 minutes.

Stir in  lemon zest, lemon juice and 1/2 of chicken stock; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Bring to a simmer; stir in zucchini noodles until well combined, about 1-2 minutes. Add remaining vegetable broth if it seems to dry.

Serve immediately, garnished with Parmesan and parsley, if desired.