Apple, Strawberry, Lettuce, Peppers, Red Onion, Cucumber Salad

This is a light, fresh, citrusy salad that’s great in any season.

  • a combination of romaine, green leaf, and baby spinach
  • peeled cucumber , cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 sweet red bell pepper, cut into bite sized pieces
  • about 2 slices of red onion, cut into small pieces
  • about 1/2 cup shredded carrot
  • 5-7 sliced strawberries
  • 1 apple cut into bite sized pieces
  • a handful of broken by hand Whole Foods Sea Salt Pita Chips

citrus vinaigrette

  • 1 lemon juiced  (about 2-3 tablespoons)
  • 2 tablespoons champagne vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons country Dijon mustard
  • pinch salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6-8 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Greek Pasta Salad

I took my homemade dressing which has a Greek vinaigrette taste, and I added some pasta, and some veggies to create a pasta salad that tastes similar to a Greek salad.

It’s a little heartier than just a salad, and it makes a great leftover lunch.

For the dressing:

  • juice from 1 large lemon (about ¼ cup)
  • ½ cup olive oil (I use a combination of light and extra virgin)
  • 1 ½ teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2-3 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon sun dried tomatoes (in oil) minced (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest, grated

In a mixing bowl, whisk the lemon juice, the oregano, the salt, the pepper, the red pepper flakes, the optional sun-dried tomatoes, the lemon zest, and the garlic. Then add the oil slowly as you continue to whisk. You can make this earlier in the day, and put it in a plastic container with a tight fitting lid. Then when you are ready to use it, give it a few good shakes, and pour it over the salad right before you serve the salad.

for the pasta salad:

12 oz. rotelle or penne

1 1/2 greenhouse cucumbers, cut into 1/2 in. chunks

about 12 kalamata pitted olives, cut in half

a few slices of red onion, diced

1-2 red bell peppers, cut into 1/2 in. chunks

1 pint of grape tomatoes, cut in half

about 1 lb. of good feta, cut into 1/2 in. chunks

Cook the pasta till al dente.  Run under cool water.  Place in large serving bowl, and add all the veggies.  Then pour vinaigrette over salad and mix.  Put in fridge until ready to serve.

Another Pea Soup

I like to keep a  one pound bag of split peas in the house just in case we’re in the mood for pea soup. We just had the big blizzard the day after Christmas, and I was snowed in with my son Benji.  I couldn’t have been happier.  He loves soup, I love him, so I made him a pot of delicious, warming soup.  It was a great day.

1 pound bag of green split peas

1 pound bag of yellow split peas

2 large  onion

4 quarts water

about pound of organic carrots, cut into smallish chunks

kosher salt and black pepper to taste

Rinse the peas.  Put in large saucepan.  Pour the water over.  Peel onions and then pierce with a fork, and place in pot whole.  Put sliced carrots in pot.  Cover and bring to a boil.  Simmer covered about 2 hours over low flame, adding your salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with thin egg noodles, matzoh balls, cooked Kosher hot dogs pieces, or just plain.

Really Easy Marinara Sauce

This sauce is a breeze to make, and you can use it for your homemade pizza, as a sauce for eggplant parm, or just over pasta.

  • 2 28 oz. cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin or light olive oil
  • lots of fresh garlic- maybe 6-8 cloves finely chopped
  • 1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon light brown sugar (optional)

In saucepan over medium flame, heat oil, add garlic and crushed red pepper flakes, and saute till garlic is translucent.  Add crushed tomatoes, salt, and pepper, and simmer covered over low flame for about 1 hour.  Re-season as needed.  

Lentil Soup

My son Benji spent a few months in Greece and Turkey as part of his college study program.  He came home a huge fan of the cuisines of those countries and especially of lentil soup.  I made the following recipe which he really enjoyed.  I’ve been making lots of it for myself –  a bowl of this soup makes a great dinner for me when I get home late from work.

for the soup:

  • half of one very large onion, diced
  • about 3 carrots, organic if possible, cut lengthwise and then sliced very thinly
  • about 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 28 oz. can peeled plum tomatoes, chopped fine -organic if possible (reserve the juice)
  • 1 small can tomato paste, organic preferably
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, extra virgin or light
  • 2 1/2 quarts of water
  • 1 1 lb. bag of brown green lentils (I’ve used Goya and Stop and Shop brand)
  • kosher salt and black pepper to taste (about 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pepper to start)

Rinse well the lentils in collander.  Put into a medium-large pot.  Cover with cold water.  Cover, and bring to a boil over high flame.  When water is boiling, take off lid, and boil over medium flame for about 6-7 minutes.  Drain in collander (do not rinse lentils with water).

At the same time you are starting the process bringing lentils in the pot with the water, get your soup pot going.  In large pot saute onions, garlic, and carrots in olive oil (sprinkle with salt and pepper), till soft (I cover the pot to expedite).  Then, pour the drained lentils from the collander into the pot.  Add the chopped tomatoes, the tomato paste, and the water.  Add the reserved juice from the tomatoes.  Bring to a boil.  Cover, lower flame – soup should be simmering, adding more salt and pepper as necessary.  Cook about an hour.  I freeze the leftovers in quart containers.

Easy Glazed Teriyake Salmon

I recently made salmon that was so delicious and so easy to make. From beginning to end, this dish will take you less than 1/2 hour to make.  Remember to look for wild salmon as it is much healthier than farmed, as has less mercury in it.

For two people:

  • 2 5-6 oz. portions of salmon or one 10-12 oz. piece of salmon (wild is healthier than farmed)
  • honey- about 1 tablespoon
  • about 1/2-3/4 cup Trader Joe’s Island Soyaki teriyake sauce (has incredible stuff in it like pineapple juice, sesame seeds, ginger, garlic, etc.)

Preheat oven to broiler setting-low.  Then, cover a baking sheet with foil.  Place salmon on sheet (if skin is still on, make sure you put the salmon on the sheet skin side down.)  In a small bowl, put about 6 oz of the teriyaki sauce and about 1 tablespoon of honey, mix till blended.  Spoon some sauce on both sides of salmon, but spoon some extra on the top.  Glaze is thin, so try to make sure some of it pools on top of the salmon.  Place under broiler.  You want the glaze to start bubbling and browning, because that’s what will make it tasty.  If it is getting too brown or burning, change oven setting to bake at 350 degrees.  But you can cook it the entire time on broil if it isn’t burning.  It will take about 10 or so minutes.  But check it after 10 minutes by cutting into a piece.  I don’t like my salmon rare, I like it cooked through, so depending on how you like your salmon cooked, it will either be done or need a few more minutes.  And that’s it.  Oh, I did get my salmon at BJ’s in a bag- it was frozen, individually vacuum sealed packets.  You can defrost them in a bowl of cold water or in the refrigerator.

Note:  You may want to baste the salmon halfway through cooking it, but if you don’t make sure to drizzle the glaze that’s on the foil evenly over each piece of fish.  The glaze is soooo good.

Judy’s Chicken Cacciatore

I’ve made lots of versions of this, and I’ve never really used a recipe.  I made it this week for my daughter Randi and her baby, my amazing grandson, Noah.  They both really enjoyed so here it is.  The one thing I do differently is that I take all the chicken off the bone after it’s cooked and then I cut it up and put it back in the sauce.  It turns out to be more like a chicken stew.  Of course, you may keep it on the bone if you like.

  • 4 pounds of chicken pieces, seasoned on both sides with salt and pepper (I use only breasts – that’s about 5 – 6 breast pieces)
  • 1 28 oz can of good quality crushed tomatoes (or whole peeled tomatoes in thick puree) Best brand of crushed tomatoes is Sclafani or Jersey Best- the tomato product is amazing!
  • 8-12 oz. sliced mushrooms (I used baby bella this time)
  • 2 large red peppers, sliced
  • about 4 carrots, peeled and sliced in large chunks (optional- if you like to add more veggies, this works well)
  • about 10 oz. chicken broth or stock- buy organic or msg free
  • 4-6 tablespoons of dry white wine (optional)
  • 1 large onion, medium dice
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • olive oil
  • kosher salt, black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano or thyme (use fresh herbs if you have them), crushed red pepper flakes to taste, about 1/2 teaspoon (optional- if you like the heat- I can’t use it for the baby)

In a large deep frying pan, pour 1 tablespoon oil,  heat up, and then place seasoned breasts face down, brown, turn and cook another few minutes.  Take out and place on large plate.  Add a little more oil, and saute onions till just starting to brown- towards the end of cooking the onions, throw the garlic in and saute just till transluscent, take out.  Do same for sliced mushrooms, when browned, put on plate with onions.  Then saute peppers, till just soft, take out.

Now you are ready to put it all together.  If this pan is large enough, and has a cover you can cook it all in pan.  Otherwise, in a pot, put the chicken in, all the cooked vegetables, the can of crushed tomatoes or whole tomatoes with juice, the cut up carrots- if using, the chicken broth, the wine if using, oregano, any additional salt and pepper to taste.

Simmer covered over lowest flame for about 45-55 minutes. If you are serving right away, either cook rice or egg noodles, and then serve over.

I do something different at this point.  I  let the pot sit there at least 1 hour, covered, until the chicken has cooled down.  Then I take the chicken out.  I lift the entire breast off the bone, and then I cut the chicken into nice big chunks. I do this because my children never really learned to eat chicken on the bone.   I put the chicken back into the sauce.  Then I turn the flame on, put the cover back on, and I simmer over lowest flame for another 30 minutes to get the juice into the meat.  Then I either serve it, or let it cool and put it into quart containers for serving later in the week or for freezing.

Note:  I go to the butcher shop at my Foodtown, and I buy the chicken that has no antibiotics.  The chicken is more expensive, but it tastes so much better!

Greek Beans with Tomatoes, Celery, And Carrots

After my daughter Randi and her husband came back from their vacation in Greece,  I bacame inspired to find some Greek dishes to make for them.  I came up with this recipe, and Randi and Dan really like it.  It is healthy, tasty, and economical.

  • 1 lb. bag of dried cannelini beans (or fasolia gigantes or similar large dried white beans)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup of extra virgin, regular, or light olive oil
  • 2-3 onions, about 11 oz, chopped (rough chop)
  • 3 celery sticks, chopped medium
  • 4 carrots, peeled and chopped medium
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspooon dried oregano or thyme, or mixture of both (I used fresh thyme leaves, about 1 tablespoon, and dried oregano)
  • 1 28 oz. canned plum tomatoes (do not use juice), rough chop
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste diluted in 8 oz. water
  • 1/2 tsp granulated sugar
  • 3 tbsp finely chopped flat leaf parsley (optional)
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • crushed red pepper to taste (I used about 1 tsp, but that made the end result a little hot)

1.  Place the beans in a large bowl, cover with plenty of cold water, then let soak overnight in the refrigerator.  The next day, drain the beans, then rinse them under cold water in a collander, and drain.
2.  Pour the beans into a large saucepan, pour plenty of cold water to cover, then bring to a boil.  Cover the pan, and cook the beans at a simmer until they are almost tender, about 50-60 minute.  Giantes will cook more quickly, so keep testing them after they have been cooking for 30 to 40 minutes.  The beans should be soft, but not disintegrating through overcooking.  If the beans are starting to break in half, they are totally cooked.
3.  While the beans are cooking, heat the olive oil a clean saute pan ( I didn’t use a nonstick pan for this), add the chopped onions, crushed red pepper, salt, and pepper to taste,  and saute until light golden.  Add the celery, carrots, garlic, herbs, and stir with a wooden spoon until the garlic becomes aromatic and the vegetables are softish.  Stir in the tomatoes, cover, and cook for 10 minutes.  (covering is not essential)  Pour in the diluted tomato paste with water, then return the cooked drained beans to the vegetable mixture, add the sugar the parsley, and any additional salt and pepper.  Mix gently.  Pour into a large 9 x 13 baking dish.  Bake covered for about 30 minutes at 350 degrees and serve.
If you want the dish to have more sauce, bake it covered in the oven.  If you would like the liquid to evaporate more so that the surface of the beans and vegetables become a little candied, then bake it uncovered.  If you are baking the dish uncovered, check the beans once or twice during the 30 minutes, and add more hot water if the beans look dry.
Note:
You can make the vegetable mixture while the beans are soaking, and refigerate until after you cook the beans.
You can probably substitute cooked beans, but you may lose a little of the texture or the authentic taste of the dish.

Greek-Style Couscous With Spinach, Garlic, Feta, And Pine Nuts

I made this recipe for my daughter Randi and her husband Dan last night as a side dish, and they loved it!  It is healthy, easy to make, and much more tasty than the average couscous recipe.  The whole wheat couscous tastes just as good as the regular, so if you can find it, I recommend using it as it is healthier. This recipe serves about 3-4 people, double this recipe for 5-8 people.

  • 1 box Near East whole wheat couscous- box says plain
  • 2-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts
  • about 3 1/2 -4 ounces of prewashed baby spinach
  • 1/4 cup crumbled Feta cheese
  • about 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest, grated on microplane
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Note:  If you do not like feta cheese, or you’d like the dish to be even less fattening, eliminate the feta cheese.

In large skillet, toast pine nuts till lightly browned.  Then add 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 very large ( or 4 small) minced garlic cloves and put flame on medium.  Saute until garlic is translucent.  Add spinach over low flame, just until spinach is wilted.  Add salt and pepper.  Add lemon juice and zest.  Take off heat.  (You can do this part in advance if you wish.) 

A few minutes before you are ready to serve, follow directions and recipe on box for couscous- follow exactly.  When couscous is ready, add it to warmed spinach mixture in large skillet and mix.  Spoon into serving bowl, sprinkle feta cheese over, mix gently, and serve.

Roasted Veggie Casserole

Last night, I tried a new recipe, which really is just a variation on roasted vegetables. I put some of my daughter’s favorite vegetables in this, knowing you just can’t go wrong with roasting vegetables.  I  brought it to my daughter Randi’s for a dinner side dish, and she and her husband loved it, as did I.  If fact Randi liked it so much, she ate it for her main course.

  • 4 tablespoons olive oil (I used half extra virgin and half light, but any type is fine)
  • 2 pounds red potatoes, cut into slightly larger than bite size wedges, skin on
  • 3 large red bell peppers, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1 container of grape or cherry tomatoes, cut in half, or 4 plum tomatoes cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, cut in half
  • 4 large garlic cloves, chopped fine
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red papper flakes (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease an oval or rectangular 9 by 13 casserole dish with 1 tablespoon of the oil. Spread the potatoes, peppers, tomatoes in dish. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper. Drizzle remaining oil over, and toss with your hands to coat well with the oil to coat. Bake for about 45 minutes. Then take out of oven, and add olives, lemon juice, garlic, and parsley. Mix gently. Bake another 45-60 minutes. The longer you cook the vegetables, the more caramelized they will become, but the more they will shrink. So the longer you cook this, the smaller the yield. So if you don’t mind the vegetables not being really caramelized, reduce your cooking time.