Archive for the ‘Food & Recipes’ Category

DSC01006I’ve been on a roasted broccoli kick lately.  It started this spring when I bought a tray of broccoli rabe from Trader Joe’s.  Then I found a recipe with balsamic vinegar and red pepper flakes … a great combination with broccoli!

I’ve modified the recipe from Country Living, as I like to cook creating the fewest dirty dishes possible.  My husband loves me for it, as he usually has “clean up” duty.

Spicy Balsamic Broccoli Rabe

4 Servings


1  1/2 lbs Broccoli Rabe (2 trays from Trader Joe’s)

3 Garlic Cloves, thinly sliced

2 Tbs Olive Oil

1 tsp Kosher Salt

1/2  tsp ground Pepper

1  tsp Red Pepper Flakes

1  1/2 – 2 Tbs Balsamic Vinegar


1.  Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Trim the ends from the broccoli rabe.  Thinly slice the garlic cloves.

2.  Place broccoli on large, rimmed baking sheet.  Sprinkle broccoli with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Use tongs to toss the broccoli on the baking sheet.  Sprinkle sliced garlic evenly on broccoli.  (You may use a medium bowl and toss all ingredients to evenly coat.)

DSC010033.  Roast the broccoli until crisp-tender and leaves are slightly charred (approximately 8 to 10 minutes).  I’ve used regular broccoli when I can’t find rabe.  Then I roast for 10 to 14 minutes.

4.  Remove baking sheet from oven.  Sprinkle red pepper flakes and drizzle with balsamic vinegar before serving.



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Frozen Lemon Dessert

If you’re looking for a light lemony dessert for those hot days of summer, this is perfect!  It’s lowfat, easy to make and you can even make it ahead of time.

It combines light, airy lemon flavors with crispy coconut.   I usually make it a day ahead of serving.

Frosty Lemon Cooler

Serves 9


1 cup crushed Coconut Cookies  (I use Trader Joe’s Coconut

Cookies.  Trader Joe's Coconut CookiesI’ve also used Mother’s brand)

2 Tbs. Butter, melted

2 Egg yolks

1 tsp. grated Lemon Peel

1/3 cup Lemon Juice

2/3 cup Sugar

Dash of Salt

2 Egg Whites

2/3 cup Nonfat Dry Milk Powder

2/3 cup water


1.   Crush coconut cookies and combine with melted butter.  (I use 18 of TJ’s Coconut cookies, which results in a bit more than 1 cup.  I put the cookies in a ziplock bag and crush them with a rolling pin.)  Reserve 1/4 cup of the crumbs and spread the remainder in a 9×9 pan.


2.  Stir together egg yolks, lemon peel and juice.  Add sugar and salt, mixing well.

3.  In a large bowl, combine egg whites, milk powder and water.  Beat on high speed with an electric mixer to stiff peaks (about 5 minutes).

4.  Add egg yolk mixture to egg whites and beat low just until blended.  I often fold in the lemon egg yolks to mix well.

5.  Pour over crumbs in pan.  Top with remaining crumbs.  Cover with foil or plastic wrap and freeze.


6.  When serving, dip the bottom of pan in warm water for 10 seconds.  (I usually use a rimmed cookie sheet and fill it with hot water.)  This makes it much easier to cut the dessert.  Cut into 9 squares.


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This is one of my favorite appetizers!  The combination of mild brie with the sweetness of the papaya or mango makes a winning combination.  You can make the Papaya/Mango mixture ahead of time and even have the tortillas layered with Brie slices, so you’re ready to bake when guests arrive.

Brie and Papaya (or Mango) Quesadillas


1 red onion, thinly sliced

1 Papaya, peeled seeded and diced ** (or Mango)

1 Jalapeno Chili Pepper, seeded & minced

1/2 bunch of Cilantro, stemmed and minced

Juice of 2 Limes

4 large Flour Tortillas (or whole wheat)

10 oz. Brie Cheese, rind removed & thinly sliced

2 Tbs. Butter

2 Tbs. Olive Oil


1.  Soak the sliced onions in a small bowl of water for 20 minutes.  Drain well and pat dry.  In a medium bowl, combine the onion, papaya (and/or mango), chili and cilantro.  Add the lime juice and gently stir.

2.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Lay the tortillas on a baking sheet.  Place slices of the Brie on one half of each tortilla.  Evenly divide the papaya mixture over the Brie slices.  Fold each tortilla in half.

3.  Melt the butter in a small ramekin in the microwave.  Add the olive oil.  Brush the top of each quesadilla with the butter mixture.  Bake for 5 to 7 minutes.  Turn the quesadilla over and brush the other side with the butter mixture.  Bake 5 to 7 minutes longer, or until the cheese is melted and the tortillas are lightly browned.

4.  Cut each quesadilla into 3 pieces and serve warm.


  • ** I often substitute Mango for Papaya … or even combine Mango & Papaya for this recipe.  I like the sweetness of mango with the onion and Brie.
  • If I’m making just one or two quesadillas, I will cook them in a skillet instead of baking them in the oven.  I omit the butter and olive oil and just make them nice and crunchy on the outside.

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When life gives you zucchini … make Zucchini Bread!

My husband (our resident gardener) has quite the fruit & vegetable garden going this summer.  We’re getting at least six zucchini a week (from two plants) and it’s not even July.

We’ve been grilling and stir frying zucchini.  Over the weekend, I decided to try out a new zucchini bread recipe.  It’s originally from Cooks Illustrated — with just a few tweaks.  I used low-fat Greek Yogurt, which I always have on hand.  And, I added dried cranberries and toasted pecans.  It was quite delicious!

It’s best to use small zucchini when making zucchini bread.  They have smaller and drier seeds than large, which is preferred in bread.

Zucchini Bread

2 small zucchini (1 pound)

2 cups Flour

1 tsp. Baking Soda

1 tsp. Baking Powder

1 tsp. Ground Cinnamon

1 tsp. Ground Allspice

1/2 tsp. Salt

1  1/2 cups Sugar

6 Tbs. unsalted Butter, melted and cooled

2 large Eggs

1/4 cup Plain Yogurt (I used low-fat Greek Yogurt)

1 Tbs. Lemon Juice

Optional:  1/2 cup Pecans or Walnuts, toasted & coarsely chopped

Optional:  1/2 cup Golden Raisins or Dried Cranberries


1.  Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and preheat to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan.

2.  Shred the zucchini using large holes of box grater.  Squeeze shredded zucchini between several layers of paper towels to absorb excess moisture.

3.  Whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, allspice and salt together in a large bowl.  In a medium bowl, whisk sugar, melted butter, eggs, yogurt and lemon juice together until smooth.  Gently fold shredded zucchini and yogurt mixture into flour mixture with rubber spatula until just combined.  (Don’t overmix).  Gently fold in nuts and raisins or cranberries.

4.  Scrape batter into prepared pan and smooth the top.  Bake until golden brown and toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out with few crumbs attached, about 55 minutes, rotating loaf pan halfway through baking.

5.  Let loaf cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack and let cool for 1 hour before serving.

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One of my favorite restaurants in the Pasadena area is Julienne’s.  Julienne’s is actually in San Marino on Mission Street.  It’s an adorable restaurant with a gourmet market & gift shop attached.  If I’m there at lunch, I usually order the Chicken Taragon Salad Sandwich.  It’s truly the BEST chicken salad sandwich ever!  And, it’s served on a yummy rosemary currant bread.

I had a craving for the salad a few weeks ago and ending up finding a recipe that had been posted in the LA Times years ago.  It’s been a hit with my family!

Julienne’s Chicken Taragon Salad

Makes 4 – 6 sandwiches

4 – 5 stalks Celery, finely chopped

3 – 5 Green Onions, finely chopped

1 bunch fresh Tarragon leaves, chopped

1/2 cup Mayonaise

1 tsp. Salt

1 tsp. White Pepper

4 Chicken breast halves, poached and chopped

Herb Bread (preferably rosemary), sliced and toasted

1.  Combine celery, green onions, tarragon, mayonnaise, salt and white pepper.  Mix well.  Pour over chicken and toss to coat chicken well.

2.  Spread chicken salad mixture on lightly toasted bread.


  • I have used Rosemary Bread (from Costco) as well as a Raisin Bread for the sandwiches.  Both are delicious.
  • Raisins, chopped toasted almonds or walnuts are also nice additions to the salad.

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We eat quite a bit of salmon, so I’m always looking for new ways to fix it.  This Asian Grilled Salmon (borrowed from Barefoot Contessa) is one of the easiest and most flavorful ways to fix salmon.  It takes 10 minutes of prep and you’re ready to grill.  I often buy the salmon from Costco and I have the marinade ingredients on hand – all the time.

Asian Grilled Salmon

Serves 6


2  1/2 to 3 pounds Salmon, boned with skin on

2 Tbs. Dijon Mustard

3 Tbs. Soy Sauce

6 Tbs.  Olive Oil

1/2 tsp. Minced Garlic



1.  Light the grill (or prepare charcoal briquettes).

2.  Whisk together (in a small bowl) the mustard, soy sauce, olive oil and garlic.  Drizzle half of the marinade onto the salmon and allow it to sit for 10 minutes.

3.  Prepare the grill with an oiled paper towel.  Place salmon skin-side down on the hot grill.  Grill for 4 to 5 minutes, depending on thickness of fish.  Turn fish carefully with a wide spatula and grill for another 4 to 5 minutes.   The salmon may be slightly raw in the center, but it will keep cooking as it sits.

4.  Transfer fish to a serving platter or plate, skin-side down.  Spoon reserved marinade on top of fish.  Allow fish to rest for 10 minutes and serve.


  • I use Crushed Garlic (from the jar) instead of mincing the garlic.
  • And, as I said above, I often buy our salmon from Costco.  When I buy the salmon in the foil containers, I just pour the marinade directly onto the salmon.  One less dirty dish!

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Pork Carnitas

When we go to our local favorite Mexican food restaurant, I order carnitas soft tacos … about 90% of the time.  And when I go to Chipotle, I always order a carnitas salad. But until recently, I’ve never made carnitas.

So a few months ago, I set out to find an easy, healthy recipe for carnitas.  This is one of the easiest recipes and makes the most delicious, flavorful, moist carnitas.  And, if you substitute pork loin for pork shoulder (see the NOTES section below), it’s a really healthy source of protein.

Carnitas are great in tacos, burritos, and even salads.  Add some cilantro and salsa with corn or flour tortillas, and you’ve got a great meal!  (My favorite is with Trader Joe’s Mango Salsa).  Sour cream, avocado or guacamole, cheese … the condiments are nearly endless.


1 tsp. Salt

1 tsp. Garlic Salt

1 tsp. ground Cumin

1/2 tsp. dried Oregano

1/2 tsp. ground Coriander

1/4 tsp. Cinnamon

1  4 lb. boneless Pork Shoulder **

2 Bay Leaves

1 to 2 cups Chicken Broth

Garnish Options:  Cilantro leaves, Avocado, Sour Cream, Grated Cheese, Salsa (and my favorite … TJ’s Mango Salsa)

Tortillas – corn or flour


1.  Mix spices in a small bowl.  Coat the pork (on all sides) with the spice rub mixture.

2.  Place bay leaves in the bottom of the slow cooker.  Place the pork on top of the bay leaves.  Pour chicken broth around the sides of the pork, making sure not to rinse off the spice mixture on top of pork.

3.  Cook on low in a slow cooker for 5 hours.  Turn the pork over and continue to cook for another 5 hours.

4.  Use forks to shred the pork.  Serve the carnitas based on your preference.


** I often substitute pork loin for pork shoulder.  It’s a much leaner cut and makes for a healthier meal.  (Costco sells pork loin – in 2 packs.  I use one sleeve of pork loin (2 loins) for this recipe.  I cut each pork loin in half ending up with 4 pieces.  I reduce the broth to about 1 cup, as you don’t want to cover the pork and rinse off the spice rub.)

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