Frozen Artichoke Tip and Artichoke and Fennel Salad…..

I’ve fallen in love with Trader Joe’s frozen artichokes.  I love that you only pay for artichokes and not the packing liquid as you do with the canned.

The first time I used them I tossed them with olive oil, lemon juice, garlic and salt & pepper.  I roasted them (when my oven was working!) at 375′ for about 20 minutes.  Delish!  The key ingredient here in terms of the brightness of the artichoke was the addition of the lemon (or acid.)   You do not have this issue with the canned artichokes because they add citric acid to the canning liquid. 

This spring like artichoke and fennel salad is really good alongside any fish or chicken dish.   Of course, I used the frozen artichokes in my salad.  When I steamed them in water and a little salt, they came out very gray.  Interestingly, I tossed them with the lemon dressing and poof, they returned to a more appetizing state.   Clearly acid is required in the cooking process which I found interesting that directions on the package did not mention this.

Steamed Frozen Artichokes

Rinse and drain a 12 ounce package of frozen artichokes.  Put into a pot with 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 3 tablespoons of water.  Steam covered over low heat until most of the water has evaporated, about 6-8 minutes.  Drain well and cool if you’re using in the above salad.   Great in any salad or pasta.  Roast with chicken or add to soups.   The possiblities are endless!

Artichoke and Fennel Salad with Lemon Dressing

2 fresh fennel bulbs with fronds
2 cans quartered artichokes, drained or two packages frozen, steamed, rinsed and cooled
3 tablespoons parsley, washed and chopped
3 green onions, rinsed and thinly sliced
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh or bottled lemon juice
2 cloves fresh garlic, crushed
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper

1) Rinse thoroughly.  Trim off the bottom of the bulb and leave about 1″ of the fronds, slice thinly, place in a large bowl. Remove the tender frawns, the deep green portion, and chop coarsely. (Do not use the celery looking stalks, they are very tough, they would be great in soup.) Add parsley and green onions.
2) In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil through the pepper. Pour over vegetables and toss gently. Taste, add additional salt and pepper if necessary.

Have a great day!


Zucchini Bake…..

I get bored with vegetables at this time of year.  It can be challenging to come up with different things to do with vegetables that don’t involve a lot of added fat.

I love this dish.  It is actually better the next day.  Make a good amount of it so you can enjoy for lunches during the week.  Serve with simply roasted chicken or fish.

Zucchini Bake

2 lbs. zucchini trimmed and grated by hand or with a food processor
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt plus additional to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 large cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley or 1 tablespoon dried
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 eggs, beaten
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese

1)   Grate the zucchini and place int a colander.  Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and allow to drain for 10 minutes.  Squeeze any excess moisture out of the zucchini.
2)  Coat a 9 x 13″ baking dish with cooking spray.   Preheat the oven to 350′.
3)   Add the olive oil to a large skillet and place over medium-high heat.  Once the pan is hot, add chopped onion.  Cook for 7-8 minutes or until onions are translucent.  Add the garlic and cook another minute.  Add the drained zucchini.  Cook for 4-5 minutes.  Add the parsley, basil and pepper.  Taste the mixture.  Add additional salt to your taste if necessary.
4)  Pour the zucchini mixture into the prepared baking dish.  Pour the beaten eggs over the zucchini.  Mix well and smooth out the top.  Sprinkle the top with parmesan cheese.  Bake for 25-30 minutes.  Serve hot or cold.  Cut into squares.  Makes about 12- 3″ squares.  Serves 6.



Sausage And Sage Stuffing….

This is soooo delicious!  I use Jimmy Dean’s Sage Sausage, it’s perfect for this stuffing.  Make this stuffing to your own liking.  Use any kind of bread you like.  Cornbread is a delicious option with the sausage as well.  If using cornbread, dry it out the same way you would other breads.  (instructions below)  I save the bread crust ends and toast them for stuffing.  Remember, cold stuffing into cold bird.  This is hugely important when it comes to food safety. 

Sage and Sausage Stuffing

1 lb. bulk sage pork sausage
1 tablespoon butter
5 stalks of celery, cut into small pieces
1 large onion, finely diced
1 teaspoon dried rubbed sage
1 cup fresh parsley, chopped
10 cups dried bread cubes, *homemade or store bought
3-4 cups cold chicken stock or water

1)  Dump the dried bread cubes into a large mixing bowl, set aside.  In a large skillet, cook the sausage until browned.  Drain off any excess fat.  Dump sausage into the bread bowl.
2)  Add the butter to the skillet and add the celery and onion.  Cook 6-7 minutes or until veggies are soft.  Add the sage and parsley.  Mix well.  Add to the bread bowl.  Pour half of the chicken stock over the goodies in the bowl.  Gently fold stuffing ingredients.  Keep adding the stock until all of the bread is moistened.  Cool completely and refrigerate in a large zip bag.  Stuff the cold bird with the cold stuffing right before going into the oven.

*To make your own dried bread cubes cut leftover bread into 1/2″ cubes.  Spread over a cookie sheet, do not crowd.  Bake in 300′ oven for 15-20 minutes or until the bread is totally dried out.  Turn the bread cubes every 5 minutes.  Cool completely.  Store in a zip bag if you’re not using right away.

**If you’d like to bake the stuffing in a casserole dish, butter a 2 quart dish generously with butter.  Add the stuffing and pack in.  Add a couple of pats of butter to the top.  Bake at 350′ for 30-35 minutes.  Makes about eight 1/2 cup servings.

Gobble Gobble!


Dijon Chicken with Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes….

This chicken is tender and luscious.  I served it with sour cream mashed potatoes which was great with the pan sauce.  Throw in a salad and you have a spectacular dinner!  The best part about it is that it’s so simple. I used legs and thighs as they end up being incredibly moist and succulent.   Prep time takes about 20 minutes then finish in the oven.  I would definitely serve this at a dinner party.

If you’re serving mashed potatoes with this chicken, prep the potatoes into the boiling pot before you start the chicken.

Dijon Chicken

3 lbs. chicken legs and thighs
Salt and pepper
Olive oil, about 2-3 tablespoons
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups chicken broth or water
2 teaspoons coriander
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
1/4 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon dried tarragon

1)  Preheat the oven to 325′.
2)  Season the legs and thighs with kosher salt and pepper.  Heat a heavy skillet that has a tight fitting lid over medium-high heat.   Brown each seasoned piece of chicken.  Remove from the pan onto a plate.
3)  Add the onion to the pan.  If you have a lot of goodies sticking to the bottom of the pan, add a couple of tablespoons of the broth to deglaze.  Once the onions are soft, add the garlic and cook another minute.  Add the coriander and broth to the pan and add the browned chicken pieces.  Cover with the lid and into the oven for 45 minutes.
4)  Remove the pan from the oven.  Remove the lid (carefully!) and remove the cooked chicken onto a serving platter, cover with foil to keep warm.
5)  Put the pot over medium heat.  Whisk the dijon mustard, sour cream, and tarragon in a small bowl until all ingredients are incorporated.  Whisk into the pan juices.  Cook about a minute.  Pour the sauce over the cooked chicken…Serve immediately.  Makes 6 servings.

Sour Cream Mashed potatoes

2 lbs. russet or yukon gold potatoes, peeled and sliced to 1/4″ inch
2 teaspoons salt
Water to cover
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup sour cream
1 cup (or more) milk, zap in the microwave for a minute so that it’s warm

1)  Peel and slice the potatoes and put them into a large pot.  Cover with water and add salt.  Bring to a boil and cook for 20-25 minutes.  Poke a potato with a fork while in the pot to be sure they’re tender.  Drain well and put the potatoes right back into the pot.  Add the butter, sour cream and warm milk.  Cover with the lid and allow to stand for about 5 minutes.
2)  Beat with a hand mixer for about a minute so that it doesn’t have large lumps.  Add additional milk if too thick.  Taste.  Add additional seasoning if necessary.   Cover with the lid until ready to serve with the chicken.  Makes about 6 servings.


Have a great day!


Tabbouleh Salad…..(Only 3 points plus per serving!)

This is my favorite salad to date.  For a quick and satisfying lunch serve over a bed of nutrient rich red cabbage and garnish with fresh diced plum tomatoes.   Great with grilled fish or chicken.  Simple to prepare and it will keep for 5-7 days in the refrigerator.  I especially like to make a big tub of it and eat it for lunches or side dishes throughout the week.

The base of this salad is bulgur wheat.   I love the texture of this healthy grain.  One half cup serving contains 5 grams of protein and 7 grams of fiber.    One half cup cooked equals 3 Weight Watcher’s points plus.  As you may already know, whole grains such as bulgur digest slowly, keeping you full longer.

You can soak it in water for an hour and drain off excess water, but I think the best way to prepare it is to cook it.  It only takes 12-15 minutes to cook and I like the texture much better when it’s cooked as opposed to soaking.

Tabbouleh Salad

1 cup bulgur wheat, cooked and cooled
2 large bunches (or more) fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1/4 cup fresh mint, finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 tablespoons fresh or bottled lemon juice
2-3 large cloves fresh garlic, crushed
1 cup sweet onion, finely chopped
2 medium plum tomatoes, seeded and finely chopped
1 large cucumber, seeded and finely chopped
2 pinches of kosher salt (or to taste)
2 pinches of black pepper (or to taste)

1)  Prepare bulgur according to package directions, allow to cool completely.  I use Bob’s Red Mill bulgur.  Add 1 cup bulgur to 2 cups of water, bring to a boil, reduce heat and cover.   Allow to simmer for 12-15 minutes.  Dump the cooked bulgur into a large bowl to promote quick cooling.  Stir often to release the heat.
2)  You can use a food processor to blend the parsley, mint, garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil.  It is not necessary, but it’s a lot easier than chopping the parsley and mint by hand.  Either way, it’s all good.
3)  Add all salad ingredients to the bulgur.  Mix well to blend.  Refrigerate the leftovers immediately.  Enjoy!

*makes about 8- 1/2 cup servings
**1/2 cup serving=3 Weight Watcher’s Points!

Oven Roasted Dijon Potatoes….

These remind me of my Mom’s pan fried potatoes kicked up a bit.   Enjoy these crispy oven roasted potatoes with Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Apricot Glaze, a perfect flavor combination.  All ingredients go into a bowl and get tossed together, then into the oven, super easy.

Here we go…..

Preheat oven to 375′.  Cut about 2 pounds of red potatoes into bite size pieces and place in a large mixing bowl.  Add 1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme.

Add 1 tablespoon of dijon mustard….

Add 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic powder….

Add 1 tablespoon olive oil.

Add 1/2 teaspoon salt and about 5 grinds of fresh ground pepper.  Toss to thoroughly coat.  Place on a non stick foil lined cookie sheet, try not to crowd.  Bake for 35-40 minutes or until nicely browned.  Give the potatoes a turn after about 20 minutes of baking.  Serve immediately.

Oven Roasted Dijon Potatoes

2 lbs. red potatoes cut into bite size pieces
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic powder
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

1)  Preheat oven to 375′.  Non stick foil line a cookie sheet, set aside.

2)  Place cut potatoes, thyme, dijon mustard, garlic powder, olive oil, salt, and black pepper into a large mixing bowl.  Toss to thoroughly coat.  Spread over the foil lined cookie sheet.  Place in the oven.  After 20 minutes, give them a turn.  Bake another 20 minutes or until nicely browned.  Serve immediately.

Oven Roasted Asparagus…..

Did you know that there are male and female asparagus?  Of course, as luck would have it, the chubby spears are the female and the very thin spears are male.  As it turns out, the chubby ones have always been my favorite.  Girls have to stick together, right?    Anyway, I believe asparagus to be the most elegant of all vegetables.    Preparation is very simple and it is best grilled or oven roasted.  Serve hot or at room temperature.  Here I’ve roasted the elegant spears in the oven and topped them with a little fresh grated Romano cheese.  Perfect and simple enough for any occasion.  Enjoy!

Here we go….

Start by thoroughly rinsing as it can be a bit sandy.

Sometimes the thicker asparagus can be tough.  Bend each piece of asparagus at the ends and it will break at the point that it’s tender. 

With a vegetable peeler, peel the asparagus about three inches from the bottom.

Once all of the asparagus is peeled, we’re ready for the oven.  Preheat to 400′.

Place the asparagus onto a baking sheet and drizzle with about 1 tablespoon of olive oil.

Season with a couple of pinches of kosher salt and a pinch of black pepper.

Toss the asparagus to evenly coat.  Roast in the oven for 6 minutes.

Remove from the oven and top with fresh grated Romano cheese.  Place back into the oven for an additional 3 minutes.  Serve immediately.

Oven Roasted Asparagus

1-2 bunches fresh asparagus
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 pinches kosher salt
1 pinch black pepper
1-2 tablespoons fresh grated Romano or Parmesan cheese

1)  Preheat the oven to 400′.

2)  Rinse asparagus well and snap off the tough ends.  Peel the ends 3″ from the bottom.  Place on a cookie sheet with sides.  Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  Roast in the oven for 6 minutes.  Remove from the oven and top with fresh grated cheese.   Bake an additional 3 minutes.  Serve immediately.

Simple Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes…..

I’ve never met a potato I didn’t like.  What’s not to love about a cheesy, scalloped potato that’s really easy??  They go together in about 15 minutes and bake for about an hour.  These are especially delicious the next day.  Make a day ahead and serve at your next barbeque or potluck.  Simply rewarm in the microwave or oven before serving.

Here we go….

Start by generously buttering a large casserole dish.  Add a couple of crushed cloves of garlic, set aside.  Preheat the oven to 375′.  Peel 5 medium size potatoes or 4 large and cut into thin slices.

We begin to layer.  First a layer of potatoes and season with salt and pepper….

Next the cheeses.  I’ve used sharp cheddar, gruyere swiss and….

Cream cheese.  I like the creaminess it adds to the dish.

Then flour for thickening.  You’ll want to repeat the layers at least one more time.  Now for the liquid.

Pour the milk over the top of the potatoes and cheese moistening any flour you may see.  Bake for about an hour or until the cheese is nicely browned and bubbly.  If you’re serving right away, allow them to sit for 10-15 minutes.

Simple Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes
5 medium size baking or Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon butter for greasing the baking dish
2 large cloves garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon pepper
5 tablespoons flour
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup shredded gruyere swiss cheese or regular swiss cheese
4 ounces softened cream cheese
3 cups room temperature milk, microwave until you take the chill off (for richer potatoes, use whole milk)
1) Preheat the oven to 375’. Grease an oven safe 2 quart casserole dish with 1 tablespoon of butter. Crush the garlic and spread over the bottom of the dish.

2) Layer the potatoes, salt and pepper, half of the cheeses, and half of the flour, repeat with the remaining potatoes, salt and pepper, and cheeses.

3) Pour the milk over the potatoes and cheese. Be sure to moisten any flour you may see.

4) Bake for 60 minutes. Let stand for 10-15 minutes before serving. Serves 6.

*Use any combination of cheeses you like. 

**To rewarm in the oven, 350′ uncovered for 25 minutes.  In the microwave-on high for about 10-15 minutes.

Oven Roasted Cauliflower…..

I think this is the most delicious way to enjoy cauliflower.  As you can see, roasting gives the otherwise bland looking vegetable nice color or caramelization.  Use only 5 ingredients…cauliflower, olive oil, salt, pepper and a little water.  Foil line your cookie sheet for easy clean up.  Enjoy hot or cold.

Oven Roasted Cauliflower

1 head of cauliflower, cut into bite size pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 pinches salt
2 pinches pepper
1 tablespoon water

1)  Preheat oven to 375′.  Foil line a cookie sheet.

2)  Cut cauliflower and place in a large bowl.  Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Toss to evenly coat.  Spread over cookie sheet and drizzle with the water.

3)  Roast for 25 minutes, give a turn and roast another 15-20 minutes.



Skillet Potatoes….

Ever have leftover baked potatoes and don’t know what to do with them?  Well, this is the most delicious solution I can think of!   The next time you make baked potatoes, make a few extra.  (ALWAYS refrigerate leftover potatoes!)  Simply remove the skins and coarsely slice them up.  Enjoy as a side dish to most any roasted or grilled meats or make your own breakfast skillet.

Skillet Potatoes

2-3 large baking potatoes, skin removed and sliced

2-3 tablespoons canola oil

1/2 small onion, thinly sliced

Salt and pepper to taste

Garnish with green onions

1)  Heat non stick or cast iron skillet over medium heat until very hot.  Add the oil and the onion,  cook until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add potatoes.  Resist the temptation to stir often.  You want to let them sit in the pan long enough to get brown before turning.  Use a large spatula to give them a flip.  Cook until they get nicely browned.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Garnish with sliced green onions.

*Add peppers and mushrooms if you like.