Sunday, December 23, 2007

Tofu. Yes, Really. Tofu.

Ready for a confession? Tonight was the very first time in my life I've ever cooked with tofu. I have been easing soy products into my life for the last year. I first started using soy milk in my cereal and fruit smoothies. I barely noticed a difference and enjoyed the variety of nutrients it provided. As my desire for variety increases, I became inspired to try firm tofu. For those who know me personally, you know this is a leap for me! But this recipe from Ellie Krieger's show on the Food Network called "Healthy Appetite" was very tempting. How much do I love fried rice. THIS MUCH. So why not try a healthier version?

Fried Rice with Scallions, Edamame and Tofu

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon canola oil, divided

2 large cloves garlic, minced

4 scallions, greens included, rinsed, trimmed and thinly sliced

1 tablespoon minced ginger

4 cups leftover cooked brown rice

3/4 cup finely diced red pepper

3/4 cup cooked, shelled edamame

1/2 cup fresh or frozen, thawed, corn

6 ounces firm tofu, cut into 1/4-inch cubes

2 eggs, beaten

3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a wok or large skillet until very hot. Add the garlic, scallions and ginger and cook, stirring, until softened and aromatic, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add the rice, red pepper, edamame, corn and tofu and cook, stirring, until heated through, about 5 minutes. Make a 3-inch well in the center of the rice mixture. Add 1 teaspoon of canola oil, then add the eggs and cook until nearly fully scrambled. Stir the eggs into the rice mixture, then add soy sauce and incorporate thoroughly. Serve hot.

I have a new cooking toy that made prep for this recipe a lot easier. It's the one chop vegetable chopper from Williams Sonoma. I love it! For those of you who cry when cutting onions, this is the tool for you. For this recipe, it just made my red peppers so uniform (and pretty!) when diced. Anyway, back to this recipe. I was able to make the prep go quickly by purchasing frozen corn and edamame. They both were delicious when cooked (5 minutes each), so don't hesitate to do this. This recipe is a perfect example of how smoothly things can go when you have everything ready before you start cooking. If I didn't do this, something would have definitely burned.
Basically, my hubby and I were really happy with this dinner. It's a gorgeous plate of food - so many brilliant colors and it's very filling. You can use instant brown rice to make this go quicker, of course. Our dinner took a little longer, because I went the non-instant route. Try it, and tell me what you think!

Friday, December 14, 2007

Easy, Fast, Delicious Asparagus

This is one of my favorite side dishes for any meal. It's so quick - literally 10 minutes of prep and 15 minutes or less of cooking. Also, asparagus is packed with nutrients. Cooking Light says, "Eating this tender veggie is an excellent way to help protect yourself against heart disease, as it contains lots of folate, as well vitamins E, A, and C. In addition to helping your heart, folate (a B vitamin) helps cells regenerate; vitamin E fights Type II diabetes; and vitamins A and C help hold cancer and cataracts at bay. Asparagus also contains potassium, which helps lower blood pressure and perhaps even cholesterol."

My favorite thing about this recipe is I always have the ingredients on hand. These are pretty typical items found in everyone's pantry. When you're picking out the asparagus, pick spears that are thin. They will also cook more easily if they are around the same size.

Brown Butter & Balsamic Asparagus

4 pounds fresh asparagus

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1/4 cup butter
4 teaspoons lite soy sauce
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

Preparation: Snap off and discard tough ends of asparagus. Arrange asparagus evenly on a lightly greased 15- x 10-inch jelly-roll pan. Drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper; toss to coat. Bake asparagus at 400° for 15 minutes or just until tender. Meanwhile, melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, 4 minutes or until butter is lightly browned. Remove from heat; stir in soy sauce and balsamic vinegar. Drizzle over asparagus, tossing to coat. Serve immediately.

  • I made this dish last night with a side of squash souffle. The mix of the sweetness of the souffle and saltiness of the soy/balsamic dressing was out of this world. We were literally licking our plates. So, I would suggest making an entree with this side dish that has a sweet flavor, like a beef or chicken dish with a honey-based marinade.
  • I added another layer of flavor to this dish by sprinkling some zest of lemon peel before serving. I have been using so many lemons, oranges and limes for zests recently that I can't keep up with the extra fruit I have lying around. So instead of wasting them, I decided to experiment with two additions to my spice rack: McCormick's Grated Valencia Orange Peels and Grated California Lemon Peels. I'm sure that fresh produce is always superior, but I'm going to try this for a while and see if it has the desired effects. I'll let you know how it goes.

Monday, December 10, 2007

An Informal Dinner With Family

My husband requested an informal meal to celebrate his birthday with family. So I found a lighter version of a comfort food classic - Chicken Potpie with Root Vegetables. I have always loved potpies. What's better than a dish with smooth flavor packed gravy, soft vegetables and chicken topped with buttery puffed pastry? With that said, I rarely let myself enjoy them because they tend to be a fairly heavy meal. So, when I saw that Cooking Light put this recipe on the cover of the September 2007 issue, I saved it for a special occasion. Now that I've tried it and received good reviews, I'll definitely put it on rotation for a dinner party option. I would make some minor changes to the recipe below. My thoughts follow:

3 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth

1 1/2 cups frozen green peas, thawed

1 cup (1/2-inch) cubed peeled baking potato object

1 cup (1/2-inch) cubed peeled sweet potato

1 cup (1/2-inch) cubed peeled celeriac (celery root)

1 cup (1/2-inch-thick) slices parsnip

1 (10-ounce) package frozen pearl onions

1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces

2/3 cup all-purpose flour (about 3 ounces), divided

1 1/2 cups fat-free milk

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Cooking spray

1 sheet frozen puff pastry dough, thawed


Preheat oven to 400°. Bring broth to a boil in a large Dutch oven. Add peas and next 5 ingredients (through onions) to pan; cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 6 minutes. Add chicken; cook for 5 minutes or until chicken is done. Remove chicken and vegetables from broth with a slotted spoon; place in a large bowl.

Increase heat to medium. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Place all but 1 tablespoon flour in a medium bowl; gradually add milk to bowl, stirring with a whisk until well blended. Add milk mixture to broth; cook for 5 minutes or until thickened, stirring frequently. Stir in chicken mixture, parsley, thyme, salt, and pepper.

Spoon mixture into an 11 x 7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle remaining 1 tablespoon flour on a work surface; roll dough into a 13 x 9-inch rectangle. Place dough over chicken mixture, pressing to seal at edges of dish. Cut small slits into dough to allow steam to escape; coat dough lightly with cooking spray. Place dish on a foil-lined baking sheet.

Bake at 400° for 16 minutes or until pastry is browned and filling is bubbly.

Yield 8 servings

  • I'm not going to lie to you. This dish takes a lot of time to make. You're working with root vegetables here, and you're going to get quite a workout chopping them. However, it felt less intense because I did all of my prep in the morning and waited until an hour before dinner to put everything together. By the way, I wouldn't know celeriac root if it bit me on the face. So, I just doubled the sweet potato portion of the recipe because they're yummy.

  • When chopping ingredients make sure the pieces are approximately the same size. This will allow everything to cook evenly. Speaking of cooking...whoah. This recipe wildly underestimates the cooking time for the vegetables in the dutch oven. These are root veggies that are very starchy. I kept it on medium heat, rather than a simmer, and cooked the veggies 15-20 minutes, with a tight lid (to allow the steam to do some of the work, too!) I wanted to make sure that mixture was nice and soft before I put it in the oven.

Instead of using a casserole dish, I put the chicken mixture in individual ramekins (10 ounce mini-casserole dishes) and gave them individual puff pastry tops. I was able to put five of them on a baking sheet. They looked so cute. It's worth cleaning the extra dishes. Everyone loved having their very own pot pie.
  • Yes, I know it's Cooking Light. But for gosh sakes (speaking to the magazine editor, of course), skip the cooking spray and make some egg wash to brush over the pastry. It just looks pretty for the pastry to brown over and its not going to make or break the calorie count in the dish.
  • Quick summary on prep: If you want to make this dish for a dinner party, you can prep early in the morning. In fact, you can take the recipe to as far as cooking the chicken mixture. Just put the mixture in the fridge along with the remaining broth. Then, when you're 30 minutes away from sitting down at the table, heat both the mixture and the broth up separately (so you can make the gravy) and combine before putting it in the casserole dish or ramekins.
  • Thursday, December 6, 2007

    An Alternative to Chicken Nuggets

    I'm trying this recipe for lunch today. I'll let you know how it goes!

    Turkey Tenderloins with Maple-Mustard Sauce

    1 cup buttermilk

    2 teaspoons plus 1/2 cup whole-grain mustard, divided

    1 pound turkey tenderloins, center tendons removed, cut into finger-sized strips

    1/2 cup yellow cornmeal

    1/2 cup all-purpose flour

    1 teaspoon ground cumin

    1 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

    1 teaspoon salt

    2 tablespoons canola oil

    1/4 cup pure maple syrup

    1. Set oven rack at lowest level and preheat oven to 450°F. Whisk together buttermilk and 2 teaspoons mustard in a large bowl. Add turkey and toss to coat. Combine cornmeal, flour, cumin, thyme and salt in another large bowl. Roll the turkey strips in the cornmeal mixture. 2. Brush oil on a rimmed baking sheet, and place in the oven for 5 minutes. Transfer the turkey strips using tongs onto the hot baking sheet and return it to the oven. Bake for 10 minutes, or until the undersides of the strips are golden brown. Turn the strips over and bake until the turkey is golden brown on the outside and no longer pink in the center, 8 to 10 minutes longer.3. Combine maple syrup and the remaining 1/2 cup mustard in a small bowl. Serve the sauce alongside the hot turkeynuggets.

    From Eating Well Magazine

    • This is the first recipe I'm posting on the blog that I haven't tried before. The concept is a good one, an alternative to chicken nuggets for the family. Picky children will definitely enjoy how crispy the coating is on the turkey nuggets.
    • I didn't have buttermilk on hand, so I used fat free milk. I don't know why this happened, but the coating came off the nuggets very easily when I took them off the pan. Could this be because I coated them with milk rather than buttermilk? Hmm, I'm not sure. Someone who tried this recipe on the Eating Well website suggested putting the turkey into the fridge for 20 minutes (after coating with cornmeal) before putting them in the oven.
    • The recipe for the dipping sauce was simple and great. I will definitely use stoneground mustard mixed with organic maple syrup as a marinade for chicken in the future.
    • Overall, I wasn't wow-ed by this recipe. But, it wasn't that bad, either. A little heavy for lunch, though. Make it for your kids for dinner. I think they'll like it a lot.

    Wednesday, December 5, 2007

    Papa Can You Hear Me? It's me, Lentil.

    That was my shout out to "Yentl" Hey, you try to come up with a catchy post title every time.

    I made this delicious side Lentil and Rice Salad with swordfish this summer. I think it's a perfect match for any grilled fish because it complements the flavors of the fish, especially if you squeeze fresh lemon juice on it. The salad has a light citrus flavor due to the parsley and lemon zest.

    Lentil and Rice Salad

    1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus 3 tablespoons

    1 carrot, peeled and finely diced

    1 small onion, finely chopped

    2 garlic cloves, minced

    1 1/4 cups dried green lentils

    2 1/2 cups chicken broth, plus 2 cups

    1 bay leaf

    1 cup long-grain white rice

    1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, coarsely chopped

    1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley leaves

    1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves

    2 teaspoons finely grated lemon peel

    Salt and freshly ground black pepper

    Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large saucepan. Add the carrot, onion, and garlic and saute until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the lentils. Add 2 1/2 cups of broth and bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer gently until the lentils are just tender, about 15 minutes. Drain well. Transfer the lentils to a large bowl.

    Meanwhile, bring the remaining 2 cups broth and bay leaf to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Add the rice and return the broth to a simmer. Cover and simmer gently over low heat until the rice is tender and the liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes (do not stir the rice as it cooks). Remove the saucepan from the heat. Fluff the rice with a large fork. Transfer to the bowl with the lentils. Add the olives, parsley, thyme, and lemon peel. Toss the rice mixture with the remaining 3 tablespoons oil to coat. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper. Serve warm or at room temperature.

    Recipe courtesy Giada De Laurentiis

    I adore this recipe because it looks like a lot of work, but it really takes no time at all. The "hardest" work you will do is chopping the carrot, onion and garlic. I think this entire dish, prep and all takes 30 minutes.

    • A wonderful tip I learned from L'academie du Cusine ( is regarding the rice. First, always make rice with chicken broth rather than water. It just plain tastes better, no matter what recipe you're doing. Especially if you're serving the rice alone. Please promise me you'll try it once. You'll never go back to doing it the old way again! Okay, here's the big tip from the cooking school. When you're chicken broth starts to boil and you put the rice in the saucepan at the moment you would usually turn the heat down to simmer, DON'T. Instead take it off the stove and put it in the oven at 400F for 17 minutes EXACTLY. The rice will soak up the liquid completely and not burn. The best part of it is that it's off the stovetop and you'll have room to do other things. You won't have to keep checking on it's status. Just don't forget it to take it out at the 17 minute mark!

    • Back to this recipe, when using lemons, limes or oranges for zesting purposes, try to buy organic fruit. Since you're eating the outside of the fruit, it's not a bad idea to enjoy it pesticide-free.

    • By the way, I have never tried this recipe with olives. I would be willing to, but my husband doesn't like them. Oh well. If you try it, tell me how it is.

    • Lastly, anytime you're using oil as a dressing, like in this dish, go for a best quality you have the pantry. It really does make a difference.

    Tuesday, December 4, 2007

    My Favorite Side Dish of All Time

    I've always been an "Autumn" person. I love reds and oranges as accents in my house (and yes, even in my hair.) I make the most out of the season in the kitchen, as well. This dish has it all: gorgeous color and the perfect balance of sweet and tart. It's filling as the main course at a vegetarian dinner or a showstopper as a side dish. Here's the recipe. My thoughts below:

    3 orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, about 2 lb.
    total3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, divided use
    1 Fuji apple, peeled, cored and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
    1/2 cup sliced green onion
    1 cup cranberries, coarsely chopped
    1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
    Pinch of ground allspice
    1/4 tsp. kosher salt, plus more, to taste
    Freshly ground pepper, to taste

    Preheat an oven to 350 degrees F.Set the sweet potatoes directly on the oven rack and bake until they still feel slightly firm when pressed, 50 to 55 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool to room temperature. Place the sweet potatoes on a plate, cover loosely and refrigerate overnight. (Chilling them firms the flesh, making it hold together better in the hash.) The next day, peel the sweet potatoes and cut them into 1-inch pieces. Set aside.In a nonstick fry pan over medium-high heat, melt 2 Tbsp. of the butter. Add the apple cubes and saute, stirring occasionally, until the butter browns and the apple cubes start to caramelize and brown around the edges, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining 1 Tbsp. butter to the pan. When it melts, stir in the green onion and cranberries and cook until the green onion wilts, about 1 minute. Stir in the cinnamon and allspice, add the sweet potatoes and cook, stirring frequently, until they are heated through, about 4 minutes. They will break up somewhat, but try to smash them as little as possible. Add the 1/4 tsp. salt, or more, to taste, and season with pepper. Transfer the hash to a serving dish and serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

    Servings: 6Adapted from source: Williams-Sonoma, Essentials of Healthful Cooking, by Mary Abbott Hess, Dana Jacobi & Marie Simmons

    • Okay, let me tell you a secret. This week when I made this recipe I forgot that it called for 50 minutes of baking time for the sweet potatoes. I was hungry and hubby was coming home in twenty minutes. I decided to improvise, peel the potatoes first and bake them in the microwave. I put all three of them in for 10 minutes. It wasn't enough. I put them back for a few more minutes until they were slightly firm when pressed (as the recipe suggests.) The hash came together nicely in the frying pan. I didn't realize that the potatoes weren't fully cooked until I went in for a taste. I wound up putting the entire hash back in the microwave for another 3 minutes until the potatoes were soft enough. In the end everything worked well together. I hate using the microwave to "cook", but I was in a jam this time. My advice is to follow the recipe instructions the first time you try this dish. Then, you'll know how firm the potatoes should be and can improvise the next time.

    • The simpliest rule of eating healthy is to fill your dinner plate with color. If your plate has several colors of the rainbow, you're in great shape. Think green and red (sauteed swiss chard), yellow (roasted butternut squash) and purple (beet salad with goat cheese!). There's a great article on the Whole Foods website which talks about the benefits of eating a variety of colorful foods. Here it is:

    My Grocery List! - Updated January 2008

    This list is my master grocery list. I edit it depending on what meals I'm planning on. I know it's a long list of fresh items that have the potential to go bad in the fridge. However, I have found that when I buy it and I can see it (with an organized fridge), then I will eat it. Has anyone else discovered that shopping trips are quicker when armed with a list? I know it sounds simple, but I've gone to the grocery store both with and without a list. I spend more money and time when I do the latter.

    One thing I feel very proud of is that the majority of my grocery cart is filled with bagged items and not prepared or boxed food. This list contains the main ingredients for the majority of my meals.

    Please take a look at my entry about what's in my pantry to see the list of healthy items that will turn these items into truly delicious and healthy meals. You may consider adding some of the pantry items to your grocery list, as well.

    Without further ado, here's the grocery list for Winter 2007:


    For Snacking
    Red Seedless Grapes
    Fuji or Honeycrisp Apples
    Clementine Oranges

    For Breakfast (additions to smoothies or oatmeal)

    For Cooked Greens
    Swiss Chard

    For Roasting as side dishes
    Sweet Potatoes
    Butternut Squash (already cut and cubed)
    Yukon Potatoes

    For Steaming as side dishes

    For flavor when cooking
    Green Onion (Scallions)
    Garlic Cloves
    Yellow Onions
    Ginger root
    Fresh herbs (dill, thyme, bay leaves, parsley, etc)

    For flavor after cooking

    For salads
    Romaine Lettuce
    Tomatoes (grape or beefsteak)
    Dried cranberries
    Almonds or walnuts

    Fat Free Milk
    Goat Cheese
    Parmesan Cheese
    Soy Milk

    SOUPS (use these for rice, sauces, soup bases, everything!)
    Chicken Broth
    Vegetable Broth

    Multi-Grain Bread (Fiber >4g)
    Flax seed - sprinkle on yogurt or oatmeal
    Bob's Red Mill 5 or 8 grain cereal (for hot breakfasts)

    Lean Chicken Breasts
    Ground Turkey
    Firm Tofu
    Canned Beans (garbanzo, black beans, kidney, etc.)

    Take a Peek Inside My Pantry...Updated January 2008

    I spent last weekend taking everything out of my pantry and re-organizing it. As you can see, Sami, our golden retriever, wanted to help. As I took things out, I created a master list of what I had and what I needed. Here is a list of the pantry items I use the most in my healthy cooking endeavors:

    Whole Wheat Flour
    Organic Honey
    Organic Maple Syrup
    Brown Sugar

    Kidney Beans
    Chickpeas (Garbanzo)
    Black Beans
    Cannelini Beans (White Northern)

    Cold Tea Mixes
    Hot Teas

    Kashi Cereal
    5 Grain Hot Cereal (Red Mill)
    Whole Grain Pancake/Waffle Mix
    Whey Protein (for smoothies)

    Canola Oil
    Extra Virgin Olive Oil (one for cooking and one great one for dressing)
    Cooking Wine (White, Marsala, Sherry, etc.)
    Vinegars (Red Wine, Champagne, Balsamic, Apple Cider, etc.)
    Panko - Whole Wheat Bread Crumbs
    Cooking Spray

    Canned Pineapple
    Canned Mandarin Oranges

    Wild Rice
    Brown Rice
    Whole Wheat Couscous
    Kashi 7 Grain Pilaf

    Natural Peanut Butter

    Whole Wheat Fusilli
    Whole Wheat Penne Pasta
    Whole Wheat Spaghetti

    Chili Garlic Paste
    Dark (or Toasted) Sesame Oil
    Oyster or Fish Sauce
    Hot Sauce
    Tabasco Sauce
    Seafood Spice Rub
    Toasted Sesame Seeds (white or black)
    Kosher Salt
    Sea Salt
    Ground Black Pepper
    Garlic Powder
    Sesame Seeds
    Dry Mustard
    Red Pepper Flakes
    Chili Pepper
    Cayenne Pepper
    All Spice
    Cinnamon Sticks
    Bay Leaves

    Tomato Paste
    Diced or Whole Tomatoes
    Sun Dried Tomatoes
    Roasted Red Peppers

    Something old, something new....

    Okay, so when my husband said he wanted a lighter version of his favorite meal for his birthday I thought this would be a challenge. Ready for it?

    Fettucine Alfredo.

    Yea. Ever have this dish out at a restaurant and then you get home and your stomach is still digesting it? How about all night long? Yep. This was a toughie. Then, lo and behold, Cooking Light magazine had a healthier version of the recipe that received rave reviews on line. So Fettucine Alfredo is my "Something Old" with a lighter twist. Here's the recipe:

    1 tablespoon butter 2 garlic cloves, minced 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour 1 1/3 cups 1% low-fat milk 1 1/4 cups (5 ounces) grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided 2 tablespoons 1/3-less-fat cream cheese 1/2 teaspoon salt 4 cups hot cooked fettuccine (8 ounces uncooked pasta) 2 teaspoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley Cracked black pepper

    Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic; cook 1 minute, stirring frequently. Stir in flour. Gradually add milk, stirring with a whisk. Cook 6 minutes or until mixture thickens, stirring constantly. Add 1 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, cream cheese, and salt, stirring with a whisk until cheeses melt. Toss sauce with hot pasta. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and chopped parsley. Garnish with black pepper, if desired.

    Serve immediately.
    4 servings (serving size: 1 cup)

    Nutritional Information
    CALORIES 399(30% from fat); FAT 13.5g (sat 8g,mono 3.4g,poly 1.1g); PROTEIN 21.3g; CHOLESTEROL 34mg; CALCIUM 451mg; SODIUM 822mg; FIBER 2g; IRON 2.1mg; CARBOHYDRATE 48.9g

    Mary Creel/Alison Ashton ,
    Cooking Light, JANUARY 2007

    My thoughts on the recipe:

    • If you can't find Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (I can never find it at Giant), you can use grated Parmesan cheese. I did and it worked well.

    • When you're cooking the garlic on the first step, definitely keep a watchful eye. This is not the time to walk away from the stovetop. If it burns, start again. It didn't happen to me last night, but it's happened to me before. Since the cooked garlic is setting the stage for the flavor of the alfredo sauce, this is important to get right.

    • I used spinach pasta instead of whole wheat or white pasta.

    • I only used a pinch of fresh parsley. Flat leaf parsley belongs to the same family as cilantro. It has a citrus flavor to it. Flat leaf parsley also has a much stronger flavor than curly parsley that you're used to seeing. I'm not a fan of either parsley or cilantro. But I keep trying to get myself to like it because it's a common herb to flavor a dish.

    • This dish was quicker to make than I expected. I was combining the cooked pasta and the finished sauce just when my hubby called and told me he was running twenty minutes late. The texture of the dish changed in that short amount of time. Basically this is a perfect dish when your family is ready to sit down to dinner. When they say "serve immediately" they weren't kidding! It was still tasty just "stickier."

    • Try a little oil in the saucepan when cooking the pasta. The noodles won't stick together so much.

    Something New!

    So what do I serve as a vegetable with the fettucine alredo? The pasta was already spinach based so I didn't want to use green leafy vegetables. Since the sauce was white, I decided to go with that same color palette and make Roasted Cauliflower. I have never in my life tried this before. I've never even eated cauliflower raw off the crudite platter at parties. I can't believe I was going to try this for the first time for my husband's birthday dinner, but I've heard so many great things about cauliflower (made right), that I had to try it. Also, I've been roasting veggies for so long now, I knew that the technique was a sure fire hit.

    I received a hint about the technique at cooking class. But the recipe is really made up. Here it is:

    Roasted Cauliflower

    One head of Cauliflower, cored and cut into florets, 1-2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, Kosher salt, and fresh ground black pepper.

    After cutting the cauliflower into florets, I dunked them in a bowl of cold water for 25 minutes. Apparently this helps keep the moisture in the veggie while it's roasting. After draining them in a colliander, I laid the florets out evenly on a 9X12 casserole dish and added the oil. Then I tossed them with a pinch of kosher salt and pepper. The oven was preheated at 375F. I knew it would take 30 minutes, but I set the timer to go off every ten minutes so I could add 1-2 tablespoons of water to keep it moist. I also took the opportunity to push the florets around to make sure all sides were browning evenly.

    I read somewhere that roasted cauliflower tastes delicious with fresh lemon juice. I place a lemon cut into four halves on the table with the cauliflower.

    So how did it turn out?? I couldn't believe it. It was extremely yummy!! It just melted in my mouth. I'm totally serious. I had no idea that roasted cauliflower could be so good. I'm definitely putting in my rotation of side dishes. I will probably start serving it at dinner parties, too.

    Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable because the leaves form a cross underneath it's head. Here's a great fact about cauliflower that I found online:

    "Cauliflower and other cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cabbage,
    and kale, contain compounds that may help prevent cancer. These compounds appear to stop enzymes from activating cancer-causing agents in the body, and they increase the activity of enzymes that disable and eliminate carcinogens." (from

    I also learned that cauliflower is in season from December to March. So try it now! I promise you will LOVE it.



    Hi everyone! I'm so glad you stopped by to see what I was up to. Most of you know that I've always loved to cook. Over the last year I've been on a new adventure: to prepare the majority of my family's meals with whole grains, fresh vegetables and fruit and lean protein. I've also re-dedicated myself to learning new cooking techniques. I've been taking classes at a French cooking school in Maryland called "L'academie du Cuisine." I started this blog because I find that I'm telling anyone (who will listen!) about how excited I am about what I've been learning.

    Since I've been cooking this way, my husband and I have never felt better. Neither of us has been sick all year and we've had more energy than ever before. And of course, we've been enjoying tasty meals every night. One down side to cooking this way is I've found that I've spent a little too much money on groceries. So this blog will help me develop some good habits, too. For instance, I'm going to keep my fridge and pantry better organized so I can see everything I have and not buy duplicate items. And that I'll make everything I have that's fresh before it goes bad.

    I'm happy to try out recipes that you've found, too. Just leave me a comment or drop me an email and take your recipe for a "test drive" in my kitchen!

    Happy to have you here....