Foodie Corner


January Theme: Healthy Eating

Each week we will highlight our readers favorite recipes vetted by team BA50. Please Click below to submit a brief description of what you love about your recipe, where you found it or if you invented it — no more than 200 words, your website link if you have one, the recipe itself of course and please upload a photo (optional). Click below to submit. Thank you.


Our Latest Recipes

Do You Have An “It’s Party Time” Attitude This Summer?

cocktail hourSummer is in full swing and it’s time to savor our more hedonistic lives; more time spent playing, soaking up the sun and entertaining. This is the time of year that fresh fruits and vegetables abound as do Margaritas, Sangria, ice cream, hot dogs, pastries and long hours spent dining with friends.

As much as we love these summer indulgences, we need to think twice about the extent of our “it’s party time” attitude. We will live with this body that we help create for the rest of our lives.

Every carbohydrate you eat–every piece of bread, pasta, bagel, cake, cookie, muffin, fruit, vegetable, bean, or grain–ends up as glucose in the blood.

Glucose is the most basic form of sugar. Your body’s cells require glucose for energy. Glucose is the only form in which sugar can be transported directly into your bloodstream. All other forms or chains of sugars, otherwise known as carbohydrates, must be broken down by your digestive system to be converted into glucose. This creates…

The Carbohydrate Conundrum

To simplify, we have two groups of carbohydrates: the simple carbs and the complex carbs.

Complex carbs consist of whole foods such as vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. These are digested more slowly and are packed with fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

Simple carbs consist of refined foods such as most breads, pastas, bagels, cakes, cookies, etc. They are digested quickly, and they move into the bloodstream rapidly.

It’s a misconception that all carbs are bad. The truth is that the American diet is heavily dependent upon simple carbs. Simple carbs lead to blood sugar swings that effect your hormones, weight, moods, and they leave us more susceptible to chronic diseases like heart disease and cancer, immune challenges, and fatigue.

By choosing whole, unprocessed foods, you can control these swings and have a stronger hand in reclaiming your health. Our aim should be to keep our blood sugar levels within the green zone on the diagram below.


If you desire to live a long and vibrant life it is time to modify the “swings” in your blood sugar levels. Bring on the good carbs! You will feel the difference.

So…. what SHOULD you eat at cocktail hour?  Raw vegetables of course (with a bit of hummus for dip)!  Edamame in the shell are a fun, great treat (but don’t over do it…the calories add up.) I also love the 2 recipes below:

Sesame Asparagus Spears:

1 1/2 tbsp. sesame oil

2 tbsp. white wine vinegar 2 tbsp soy sauce

2 tsp. sugar kosher salt

1 pound fairly thin pencil asparagus, ends trimmed, cut into 2 inch pieces

2 tbsp. sesame seeds (white or a combination of white and black)

Bring large pot of water to a boil. In medium bowl, whisk together the sesame oil, white wine vinegar, soy sauce and sugar. Set aside. Prepare ice bath for asparagus. Add a lot of salt to the boiling water. Add the asparagus to boiling water and cook for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes – you want them to be crunchy. Remove the asparagus from the water with a strainer and transfer to ice bath. Allow them to cool for a few minutes and then place them on a clean kitchen towel to drain any excess moisture. Toss the dry asparagus with the sauce and top with the sesame seeds. Refrigerate for an hour, or until ready to serve. Serves 6 – 8 small portions

Zucchini and Cucumber Carpaccio (Recipe created by Cristina Ferrare)

Serves 4–6

2 cucumbers, sliced paper thin

2 zucchinis, sliced paper thin

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

4 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar

1 Tbsp. fresh mint, finely chopped

2 tsp. fresh dill, finely chopped

1 Tbsp. Italian parsley, finely chopped

1/2 tsp. kosher salt Fresh Cracked black pepper (to taste)

1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled

1/4 cup roasted walnuts, chopped

In a glass bowl whisk together, olive oil, lemon, rice wine vinegar, mint, dill and parsley. Set aside. Slice the vegetables on a mandolin or a vegetable slicer that can slice paper thin. Arrange the zucchini and cucumbers alternately on a large platter. Sprinkle lightly with kosher salt, walnuts and cracked pepper and add the crumbled feta. When you are ready to serve, drizzle 3 tablespoons of vinaigrette over the top. If you are not going to use the salad right away, wait to add the vinaigrette at the last minute. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until you are ready to serve.

And the big question, “What About Alcohol?”  Most health experts recommend the following hierarchy when choosing alcohol, based on potential health benefits (such as antioxidant content): choose red wine over white wine; choose wine over beer; choose darker-colored beers over lighter-colored beers; and choose beer over liquor and liqueur.


Shrimp & Grits

Nancy Lowell Shrimp and GritsIf you intend on wearing a string bikini this weekend, you may want to hold off from making this dish until later on in the week. But since “Real Women EAT” is our motto this week, we are going to throw caution to the wind and make it anyway. (Especially because it sounds absolutely amazing, and that’s why beach coverups were invented!)

Another fabulous dish from Nancy Lowell of Chef’s Last Diet


I remember the first time I ever heard of shrimp and grits. I was in Atlanta, it was April 1999. I was working for Whole Foods Market and I was there for three weeks helping to open the Briarcliff store. We worked hard all day preparing the store and the department for the upcoming grand opening, and then we’d head out for dinner. Almost every place we went to offered shrimp and grits.

The team I was with included three other people, one of whom, Michael, had lived in Atlanta and when I asked him to describe the dish to me, I knew I’d love it! I already loved grits, and shrimp, and though everyone seems to have their own variation, they all sounded delicious. Who wouldn’t love a creamy, cheesy, soft bed for some crisp shrimp cooked with bacon, peppers and whatever else might have caught the chef’s fancy.

I don’t know how many times I ordered it, probably not too often as I was trying to economize and stay within my allotted meal allowance, but I did splurge a few times. Some chefs use tasso ham, some bacon, and others use that southern staple, country ham, which I confess I am not crazy about. It is too dry, and too salty (I’m sorry to anyone I’m offending, maybe I just haven’t had really great country ham…). It is an easy dish to prepare, and I made mine without any pork (my pescetarian was home) but I can see how that added smokiness would bring a depth that mine didn’t have. My preference would be a good quality, thick sliced bacon, I particularly like the 365 brand (from Whole Foods Market) thick sliced applewood smoked bacon, it is the best packaged bacon I’ve ever had (and no one has asked or paid me to say that).

When you’re making something with very few ingredients (actually whenever you’re taking the time to make anything) the better your ingredients, the better your finished product will be.  Stone ground grits are far superior to instant grits. They have a real corn flavor, and a less gluey texture, once you try them you will need no further convincing. I’ve written here before about making sure you buy dry scallops,  and the same goes for shrimp. Unless you live near a gulf where shrimp are harvested you are buying previously frozen shrimp, so you might as well buy good quality frozen. It’s worth seeking out shrimp that doesn’t have any STP (a sodium triphosphate additive) and for this dish you are throwing your money away if you used previously cooked shrimp.

Shrimp and Grits

Shrimp and Grits
Serves 4
Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 25 minutes
Total time 40 minutes
Meal type Main Dish
Occasion Casual Party
Region American


  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup stone ground grits
  • 1/2 stick butter (unsalted)
  • 1 cup aged sharp cheddar (grated)
  • 1 cup jack cheese (grated)
  • 1lb large shrimp (peeled and deveined)
  • 4 thick slices smoked bacon (chopped)
  • 1/2 red pepper (diced)
  • 3 scallions (sliced thin on the bias)
  • 1 clove garlic (minced2)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 1 Medium lemon (juiced)


Step 1
shrimp n grits 11

Bring stock to a simmer, and slowly add grits to hot stock, stirring as you go
Reduce heat to simmer, and cook for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally
Step 2
shrimp n grits 4

When grits have finished cooking they will be creamy and all the stock will have been absorbed
Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and cheese
Cover and set aside
Step 3
shrimp n grits

While grits are cooking, fry bacon over medium high heat in a large pan, when brown and crisp, remove and drain on paper towels, leave bacon fat in pan
Add peppers and garlic to pan and saute until fragrant
Add shrimp and cook until pink, add scallions, bacon and lemon juice to pan, stir well
Step 4
shrimp and grits

Put grits into serving bowl, and top with shrimp mixture, top with chopped parsley and serve


Almond Joy No-Bake Cookie Bars

Almond Joy Cookie Bars from Fancy ShantyBy the end of July, summer has definitely made itself known. Things have calmed down, you’re into kicking back and relaxing…and it is HOT. Homemade treats would be nice, but who wants to turn on the oven and raise the temps even more? These delicious Cookie Bars from Stacey Molter of Fancy Shanty are not only no-bake, they are non-dairy as well, made with protein-rich almond milk. 


Almond Joy No-Bake Cookie Bars with Dark Chocolate Ganache

Packed with dark chocolate chips, coconut, and almonds, these Cookie Bars are topped with Dark Chocolate Ganache and are bursting with the sweet flavor you find in an Almond Joy candy bar. The rich dark chocolate ganache makes this recipe irresistible to the chocolate lovers in you life!


For the no-bake cookies:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup Silk Almond Milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups shredded coconut
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 cup dark chocolate chips
  • Additional shredded coconut and sliced almonds to top.

For the ganache:

  • 11 ounces dark chocolate chips
  • 6 tablespoons heavy whipping cream


  1. Lightly grease glass pan and set aside.
  2. In a large mixer with the paddle attachment, combine butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar. Cream until light and fluffy.
  3. Add flour 1/4 cup at a time just until incorporated. Dough will be crumbly.
  4. Add almond milk, coconut extract, and vanilla extract and beat on medium speed until a soft dough forms.
  5. Add shredded coconut, sliced almonds and dark chocolate chips and mix on low-speed until thoroughly mixed.
  6. Press dough evenly into greased glass pan and set aside.
  7. To make the ganache, add dark chocolate chips and heavy whipping cream to a small pan and heat on low. Briskly whisk as chocolate chips begin to melt, remove from heat and keep whisking until smooth.
  8. Pour ganache over top of cookie dough. Top with shredded coconut and sliced almonds, gently pressing them into the warm ganache.
  9. Allow to cool. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Almond Joy No Bake Cookie Bars with Dark Chocolate Ganache #SilkAlmondBlends

Almond Joy No Bake Cookie Bars with Dark Chocolate Ganache #SilkAlmondBlends

Almond Joy No Bake Cookie Bars with Dark Chocolate Ganache #SilkAlmondBlends

Almond Joy No Bake Cookie Bars with Dark Chocolate Ganache #SilkAlmondBlends


21 Ways to Eat Safer this Summer

e-book about food safety

nancy lowell

We call Nancy Lowell our “Chef-in-Residence,” but that’s really wishful thinking. If she were, we’d be eating A LOT better! Regardless, her tips here will at least keep us eating SAFER.

Here are 21 ways to keep your food safer, and your friends and family healthy during the hot summer months. Think you’re prepared? Before you get started, take this quiz! Yeah! Summer is here, picnics, barbecues, block parties, pool parties, and food poisoning! This time of year toting food around can be risky business, don’t take chances, take action!

  1. Invest in insulated lunch bags for your camper, that lunch can go from healthy to dangerous in just a few hours when the temperatures soar, and put some ice, or an ice wand in the bag (I have one that came with a water bottle)
  2. Contrary to popular belief, commercial mayo will actually act as a preservative, it won’t accelerate spoilage. Chicken without mayo spoils faster than chicken salad made with mayo (you still need to keep everything as cool as possible !)
  3. Wash melons with mild soapy water before cutting, those melons grow on the dirt, and the skins can carry all kinds of bacteria that as you cut will go right into the melon
  4. When cooking out NEVER use the same platter for the cooked food that you used for the raw food
  5. When planning a cook-out that will last several hours keep all raw meats in a well iced cooler (you want it as cold as your beer)
  6. You can start with frozen beef patties, these can be cooked right from the freezer, so pack your cooler with frozen burgers
  7. Don’t worry about ketchup and mustard, they won’t spoil in the heat, and you can ignore the dates on those as well, it takes years for them to spoil
  8. Use mesh domes to cover cooked food, flies live a very disgusting life, and you really don’t want to share your food with them!!
  9. If you travel a long way to the grocery store, or have several stops to make on your way home, use coolers to pack the cold food, or keep the food in the air-conditioned car, rather than the trunk
  10. When buying meat and fish, ask for a bag of ice to keep them cool, most stores will give these to you, and good stores will offer it
  11. Once food has been cooked, if you haven’t consumed it, or refrigerated it in four hours, throw it away!
  12. You can tell if food is spoiled, it will smell bad, feel bad(slimy), and look bad, if your food does any of these things, toss it
  13. Dips and spreads need to stay cool, if you’re eating outside, use a metal bowl, and put the bowl of food into a larger bowl filled with ice
  14. Processed cheese like American cheese can be left out, and will not spoil, it will get very soft, and the oils may start to separate which is not attractive, but it isn’t a health risk
  15. Beans and starchy foods can spoil, and shouldn’t be left out, on the counter or on the picnic table, these, like meat should not be out of refrigeration for more than a total of four hours (cumulative, not four hours at a time)
  16. If you don’t have a cooler, invest in some insulated freezer bags, and ice packs for the beach, many people stay at the beach all day, and bring enough food to eat for several hours, keep it as cool as possible by not constantly opening and closing the bag or cooler
  17. If you’re going camping in a remote location rely on preserved foods, fresh whole fruit will be fine, but cut fruit won’t last out of refrigeration, nor will berries.
  18. Burgers need to be cooked through to an internal temperature of 160°F, but it’s safe to eat steak rare, this is because when e-coli is present on meat, it lives only on the surface of the meat, grinding meat mixes it all up, cooking steak (even rare) will kill any e-coli bacteria on the meat’s surface
  19. When buying frozen packaged food always inspect the box, if there are signs of the box having been wet, don’t buy that package, this means it was defrosted and refrozen, and you have no way of knowing how long it was thawed, or what caused that
  20. When you’re at someone else’s house, pay attention to how they are handling your food, and if it looks, smells, or seems suspect, stick to the chips and pretzels
  21. The golden rule of food safety is WHEN IN DOUBT, THROW IT OUT!

If you have any questions about food safety, please write them in the comments, and I promise to answer all of them! And of course, if you want more you can check out my e-book, Food and Kitchen Safety; A Guide for the Home Cook

Diet Banana Cream Pie?

diet banana cream pie?Friends and family, and anyone who’s read my blog more than, say, twice, know that I don’t cook. At all. Notwithstanding Hubs’ evidence to the contrary, I’m a reasonably intelligent woman, but this fun cooking thing people constantly speak of just eludes me entirely.

Previous attempts to master the Zen of Cooking have been met with greasy explosions requiring day-long cleanup, blaring smoke detectors sending our Chihuahuas scrambling for cover, kitchen fires resulting in fire extinguishers now being kept under every counter, and reminders of grade school science class that repeatedly instructed us not to retrieve stuck bread from the toaster with a fork (turns out that really isn’t a good idea).

My sister, ironically, is an award-winning, valedictorian-of-her-cooking-school chef, whose culinary masterpieces are regularly photographed and proudly displayed for all the world to applaud and envy. I long ago concluded that Sissy sucked up the entire cooking gene pool, leaving me with a lifelong kitchen phobia not infrequently resulting in eating Pop Tarts directly out of the bag to avoid having to go “in there.”

Having said all that, there is one thing I do cook and it’s fabulous. With respect to all your mamas who heretofore had the best recipe in your hometown, I can whip out the world’s greatest banana cream pie in slightly over an hour. It’s the only thing I make and it’s loaded with calories, but if you have a sweet tooth for this dessert, it will rock your banana cream pie world.

One day, Hubs came home and announced that he’d invited some friends over for dinner and he thought I should make my pie. Since we’d both been dieting for summer, I was reluctant to blow weeks worth of deprivation in one evening. But I’d recently read an article about swapping out high-calorie ingredients in desserts for less butt-busting, lower-calorie ones, so I decided today would be a good day to try Diet Banana Cream Pie. I got out my famous recipe and all my “new” ingredients, and got to work.

Layer One: 1 C flour, 1 C chopped walnuts, 1 C melted butter. Stir together in rectangular lasagna-size pie pan, and bake for 15 mins. at 350. Let cool.

Diet version: Flour, skip the nuts, unsweetened applesauce.

Layer 2: 1 8-0z pkg. of cream cheese, softened. 1 C powdered sugar, 1 C Cool Whip. Put in bowl and whip with electric blender (Not the margarita one. That white thing with the beaters that your mom let you lick the frosting from.) Spread over cooled crust.

Diet version: Fat-free cream cheese, powdered sugar, and fat-free Cool Whip.

Layer 3: Slice bananas and place pieces side-by-side over layer 2.

Diet version: Same. It’s fruit. Go crazy.

Layer 4: 1 large package of Vanilla Instant Pudding, 3 C 2% milk. Put in bowl and beat with same blender thing you used for layer 3 until lightly stiff (“pudding-y”). Spread over bananas. and put pie in fridge until set (about an hour).

Diet version: Sugar-free instant pudding and fat-free milk.

Layer 5: “Frost” with remaining Cool Whip.

Diet version: Fat-free Cool Whip.

It was beautiful. It looked exactly the same as the regular version, only I figured I’d easily cut the calories in half. (Sara Lee, are you taking notes?)

Then Hubs suggested we try it, with maybe just a little nibble in the corner, to make sure it tasted the same. Rolling my eyes at the suggestion (it looked the same, so it had to taste the same, and I don’t like serving “leftover” dessert to guests), but he was seriously skeptical about this whole diet pie thing, so we each grabbed a small fork and sampled a corner.

Oh. My. God. The top layers were runny, gooey, and completely tasteless, and the crust…well, we’ll never know because you could use it to knock out a burglar in a home invasion. It was rock solid. SERIOUSLY?? By now, Hubs has spit most of his out into the sink and was laughing so hard he could barely choke down the beer he was using to wash down the rest, while I’d grabbed an ice pick and was vigorously banging on the crust, trying to get it to break, but succeeding only in denting the bottom of the pan. Well, crap.

Now Hubs is off to the store to get the real ingredients while I bury the remains of my experiment where the dogs won’t get it and break a tooth. Then I’m making my famous, original Banana Cream Pie. All 50 gazillion calories. But worth it?

Oh, yeah.

Today’s Dinner, Tomorrow’s Lunch Ideas

Dinner for LunchMy husband and I just hosted 2 couples at our summer home. It wasn’t the first time. These friends have come for a  communal retreat for the past 6 years. It’s an easy group because we love to do the same things and we move between shared activities with ease– biking , golf and most importantly — eating.

This visit was no different than the last and this is how it went. Day one they lumbered off the New Bedford Ferry weighted down with coolers and grocery bags. We were excited to see them and their goodies.  As they passed off their bags to us – the lists of delights began to flow:

“Here’s the 2 pound parmesan chunk you wanted– Oh, I brought my own tea –and I have that bread you love from Bradley’s – I had it sliced.”

“Oh and Ina Garten’s Orange Yogurt with walnuts and raisins– I know you love it so I made it for you guys.”

“Hope you don’t mind I brought a bushel of kale and 2 baseball bat sized zucchinis that I thought we could grill up” (I hadn’t told them I have a new bountiful veggie garden).

“Oh and wait til you try the phenomenal blended scotch I’ve discovered”.

We hadn’t even pulled out of the ferry lot and the women were in menu planning mode. Meanwhile, the guys had stacked the bikes, golf clubs and bags into our embarrassingly oversized car (we call it “The Beast”) and were instantly in deep conversation about biking routes.

Upon arrival at our home, I summoned my girlfriends into the kitchen as I needed help. I’d been wanting to tryout Farro but needed a support team to brave the cooking task. Turned out none of us had ever prepared this “ancient grain” and so began our group cooking. Immediately, we were totally ensconced in re-reading the prep directions for the 3rd time when the men appeared saying they were leaving to hit golf balls. We barely looked up.

That’s pretty much how the visit played out. Predictably the couples sectioned off into “Defending the Caveman” roles – Darwin called this one right.”

It makes me chuckle when I witness how the male/female natural divide is bizarrely stereotypical and predictable: yet here we were, three women happily in the kitchen reviewing the weekends meals – while the men busied themselves with pumping up deflated jeep and bike tires – rewiring the internet connection (no joke) and discussing our household electrical challenges.

Alas, women to the chopping boards – men to the grill! Seamless from the get go – we began our own version of a domestic square dance.

I am writing this piece as the weekend draws to an end – I hear them busy in the kitchen preparing the last lunch (I’m staying clear and am thrilled to have the excuse of writing – I’m totally done with meal prep at this point).

And as we sit down to this last lunch (see photo) all we can say is “Move over Ina Garten!”

We all are amazed at what we have created this visit. With one large pre-grocery shop before they arrived – we only visited the local farmers market once and managed to turn out outstanding healthy feasts that morphed brilliantly into substantial next day meals.

I can proudly say we mastered the Dinner Becomes Lunch challenge and the Lunch becomes Breakfast hurdle.

So – if you’re looking to stretch your meals creatively across a weekend with a full house of guests – here’s some ideas:

First Nights Dinner Next Days Lunch

Corn and Faroe SaladCold Farro Grains

We added cranberries and chopped walnuts to this recipe – Next Day – it was even more delicious and we actually didn’t add the corn until the next day.

Butter lettuce and Kale Salad with avocado tomato and toasted hazelnuts- lightly dressed with lemon and basil oil and plenty of salt.

Marinated grilled chicken breast in olive oil, lemon and herbs

Swordfish with our favorite rub (we keep in the freezer)

Next day sliced thin to top off yesterday’s salad

Radishes with butter and salt with dinner … Next day’s addition to salad.

Corn on the Grill for dinner becomes part of next day’s salad fix ins and Farro toss-ins.

Breakfast Becomes Lunch and Lunch Becomes Breakfast

A basket full of local hard boiled eggs from the nearby farm makes for great snacking all day long.

PB & J Farm Style: This is our pre-biking staple. Wild-diced strawberries on toasted multi grain bread with Justin’s peanut butter ($$$ but great). Next Day Panini Grilled PB & J made with Homemade Strawberry Jam and Justin’s on Multi Grain Bread from yesterday’s beach sandwiches.  Just reheat them on the Panini and enjoy for any  next day meal or next day snack.

Oh and here’s my friend’s secret “Ina” yogurt recipe she traveled to us with that lasted for 3 bountiful breakfasts and someones lunch.

Ina’s Orange Yogurt with walnuts and raisins

orange yogurt recipe





Trifles: Perfect Summer Dessert


strawberry chocolate trifleAccording to the dictionary, a “trifle” is something that is of little consequence–a mere insignificance. But this rich, often indulgent, tiered dessert is anything but. The treat dates back to the 1700’s and came to the US via the British when it was served to the wealthy.

Over the years, trifles have evolved–crumbled biscuits became cubes of pound cake which became crushed coconut macaroons, which became lady finger cookies. And vanilla custard was replaced by lemon pudding which morphed into whipped cream, and chocolate mousse, and so on. Berries, peaches, and lemon curd were overtaken by chocolate curls, crushed brownies, and shards of toffee. 

Trifles are a perfect dessert to serve over the July 4th weekend–the ingredients can be home-made or store-bought, and they can be assembled a day or so in advance. In fact, the dessert gets better with a little time under its belt. The traditional deep, round trifle bowls really showcase the individual layers, but if you’re making the dessert for a crowd, a large, deep Pyrex dish would be equally good. Putting together individual mini trifles in tall iced tea glasses or large individual sherbet cups are a nice touch as well. (Once you’ve prepared all the individual ingredients, you can even have the little ones help you assemble them.)

We’ve searched the web and picked out a collection of favorites that really showcase the versatility of this long-loved dessert. And how fitting that it be served on Independence Day, as we celebrate just one more thing we’ve wrestled away from the British!

Strawberry Chocolate Trifle from uses crumbled cake and pie filling.

strawberry chocolate trifle

 “Better Than Sex” Trifle from uses chopped Heath Bars and chocolate cake, and looks luscious! Better Than Sex Trifle Mini Tiramisu Trifles are from uses crushed cookies and can be made in individual glasses. mini individual trifles The traditional Mixed Berry and Angel Food Trifle is from and can be assembled in “30 minutes!” angel food cake trifle Red, White, and Blue Trifles from are the ones the kids can pitch in and help with. They’re adorable!   berry trifles

My Smoothie Is Better Than Yours

photoI might be a little bit competitive, but I think you will like my liquid lunch better than hers.  And no, it does not involve alcohol.

In the spirit of transparency, I have only 3 food rules:

1. I eat everything except sweet pickles and 3 bean salad;

2. I’m always hungry.

3. I don’t drink things that are green (other than pea soup.)

So when I saw Felice’s new liquid lunch post, it made my stomach turn.  I called her on it: it’s green, its not thick, it looks gross, it probably tastes grosser, where’s the frozen fruit?, where’s the protein?, why would you want to drink that for lunch? My dear, you have suggested a lunch that only skinny people would try.

For those of you that are like me, who want a nice, thick, sweet but healthy milkshake looking smoothie that fills up your stomach so much that you cannot even get off your chair, nay think about food for hours, here is my smoothie recipe.

I call it the “healthy smoothie that fat people love” because it is better than a McDonald’s shake.  Really, it is…and it is totally healthy. And probably not too fattening.

Sorry, a bit of bad news to start:  1. you need a Vitamix (though you can try it in a blender…); 2. I can’t give you measurements–I hardly ever measure. But trust me, you can just wing it. The amounts don’t really matter.

I start by pouring Organic unsweetened almond milk in the Vitamix.  At 40 calories a cup, you can afford to be generous– and keep adding at the end if your smoothie is too thick.

Add- 1/2 tsp chia seeds.  Don’t pour them those little seeds right in, be sure to measure- they are fattening! I keep the measuring spoon in the package so I am not tempted to pour. If you have patience, wait 5 minutes for them to steep and get soft and jelly-like. If you don’t, and you are like me, just keep going.

Add 1 tsp of flax seeds (optional).

Add- cut pieces of frozen fruit– pineapple, raspberries, blueberries, or any other frozen fruit you have– bananas are particularly yummy. Combine them, mix them up- there are no rules.  I never throw away left over fruit salad or brown bananas.  I always put leftover fruit in a plastic zip lock bag, lay them flat in freezer, and you always have fruit frozen ready to be broken up and added to your smoothie.  Or just buy a big package of frozen mixed berries.

Add 1-2 scoops of vanilla protein powder (the more powder, the thicker your smoothie will be.)

Add a scoop of Organic Greens– the Superfood kind. Don’t add so much that it will change your smoothie from its beautiful pink– you are just trying to make it a little bit healthier.  OR you can add fresh spinach instead if you have it in the refrigerator left over from that salad you intended to make, but never did.

Add 3 PITTED prunes (my signature ingredient for keeping regular…and don’t try this with a regular blender –just leave them out.)

If you are particularly adventurous, add fresh ginger, mint OR tumeric.

Mix up.

Add a few ice cubes if it is not thick enough.  Add water or more milk if it is too thick.


If you have a super sweet tooth, add a packet of Stevia.

The best part– it is so thick, you can’t really get it through a straw.  Get a spoon, and you might mistake it for soft serve.  Enjoy. And let me know what you think.

Now doesn’t that beat a green juice for lunch any day?


Nectarine Cherry Crumble

In their wonderful blog, Plated Stories, Jamie Schler and Ilva Beretta discuss the delicious and very versatile fruit desserts know as Crumbles, Crisps, and Bettys.


Cherry Nectarine Crumble That’s the way the cookie crumbles

 Cookies, I believe, are the most unforgiving of all baked goods; they are, in my humble opinion, time consuming and aggravating. I speak from experience. Folding in the flour, all that elbow grease – one’s entire upper body and muscles we never otherwise use called into service – needed to turn those staple ingredients into something stiff and sticky, scooping up and pushing off spoonful by spoonful of batter onto a row of baking sheets, goo up to our elbows, in our hair and stuck to our face, then popped in the oven, 8 minutes, 10, 12 tops, waiting, watching, scooping, pushing more batter, another baking sheet, and another and another and another when will it ever stop and is the cookie dough actually growing? And. Leave the cookies in just one or two minutes too long and they are too crispy, burned around the edges. And crumbling into sand.

 That’s the way the cookie crumbles. So why do I bother? Why bake cookies when cake is so much simpler in so many ways that cookies are not? My men. Love cookies.

 Cookies are a part of our childhood: tiny hands slipped surreptitiously into cookie jars, stolen treasure stuffed into pockets and carried off to be eaten sitting high up in the branches of a favorite tree or under the blankets shhhh no crumbs or mom will find out! Bedazzled by the array of cookies wrapped carefully in foil, bringing a handful of home to the school playground. Curled up with a book in the comfy armchair with a selection of cookies stacked up within easy reach, eyes locked on the page as we blindly feel for another and another. Cookies are child’s play, the perfect size, big enough to satisfy, small enough to allow for a selection, one of each, not having to choose just one. Satisfying first bite over and over again, an endless choice of flavors. And I am just happy that my little French boys experienced the pleasure, and continue to clamor (along with their father) for cookies. (To read more and get the recipe for Nectarine Cherry Crumble click here.)

Greek Style Chickpea and Quinoa Salad  summer saladCarissa Serink of was kind enough to share her recipe for a splendid summer salad with us. It’s a perfect dish to serve as a lunch entree or as a side with some cold chicken or sandwiches while sitting on a blanket listening to an evening concert in the park.

Carissa says:

Here’s another use-up-the-veggies-before-the-next-CSA-delivery recipe. It’s great, because people on many special diets can enjoy it: it’s vegetarian, gluten free, doesn’t have any major allergens and tasty enough that meat-lovers will love it too!

chickpea salad ingredients

Since this recipe doesn’t need to be cooked, chopping is the extent of the work you will be doing. You will need to chop up a cucumber, red onion, tomatoes, bell pepper, kalamata olives and herbs. The goal is to get the veggies roughly the same size as the chickpeas. Ideally, the quinoa in the recipe will be leftover from last night’s dinner. If you don’t have any hanging around in your fridge, make sure you start cooking it ahead of time to give it a chance to cool. The chickpeas get rinsed and drained from their cans, and some feta crumbled up.

Chickpea salad before mixingThe salad is dressed in a simple combination of olive oil, lemon juice and red wine vinegar, seasoned with a little salt, pepper, chili flakes and additional dried herbs if you prefer.

Since this salad has veggies, beans (in the form of chickpeas), quinoa and cheese, it is a complete meal in a bowl and doesn’t need anything else. But the nice thing about this salad is that it’s versatile in how it can be served. I most commonly eat it how it is straight out of a bowl. If I have leafy greens hanging around, I’ll serve it on top of them (my favorite is baby spinach). Or if I have leftover pitas or tortillas, I will make wraps with them.

Greek style chickpea and quinoa salad

Greek Style Chickpea and Quinoa Salad
Serves 6
Write a review
Prep Time
20 min
Total Time
20 min
  1. 2 14oz cans (or a 28oz can if available) chickpeas or garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  2. 1 cup cooked quinoa (see note)
  3. 1 cucumber, diced (see note)
  4. 1 small red onion, minced
  5. 1 bell pepper (color of your choice), stemmed, seeded and diced
  6. 2 medium tomatoes, cored, seeded and diced
  7. 1/2 cup kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
  8. 1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
  9. 2 Tbsp minced fresh oregano (or 1/2 tsp dried)
  10. 1 Tbsp minced fresh mint (optional)
  11. 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  12. 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  13. 1 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  14. 1/4 tsp red chili flakes
  15. 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
  16. salt, to taste
  1. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Can be served immediately, but it tastes best if it sits in the fridge for at least an hour before serving.
  1. Leftover quinoa works great in this recipe. If you’re making some for another meal, make a little extra to save for this salad.
  2. If using a garden cucumber (as opposed to an English cuke), peel then cut in half lengthwise and remove seeds with a spoon.

Carissa can also be found on

What’s For Lunch?

whats for lunchI never know what to eat for lunch anymore. The truth is, I really don’t like lunch in the summer. Sandwiches are so last year – what with the 2 slices of bread — and then what are you going to put between the slices?

Of course there’s always salad – but then what does that leave for dinner after a lunch of greens – more salad of course — BORING! As I peruse the menu at the local restaurants looking for something refreshing/different/healthy – I’m stumped. American lunches just never really taste fresh. Lettuces are rarely washed and have traces of the chemical flavor they are bagged with– tomatoes are usually mealy and cucumbers taste like soggy rice cakes.   Unless I’m in Italy or Israel (2 x in my life) –there’s never really an original selection – so it’s the usual – I think I’ll have the Cobb, or the Caesar.– How novel – Not!   It’s times like these I wish I hadn’t given up red meat — but that was back in1977, and I think my system would go into shock if I started up on burgers, sausages, and hot dogs.

So — What’s for lunch? This summer I’ve decided when at home, I’m going to drink my lunch. And, I’m going to drink it in a Chardonnay glass. I’ll be drinking liquid that’s elegant, fresh and crisp.  The ambrosia will be full of fresh pungent and complex flavors that coat my tongue and throat. And, even better, I’m going to drink what I have harvested. No – I don’t own a vineyard in California but I do have a 16 x 9 foot garden in Massachusetts. This summer I’m drinking my garden.

Yesterday, my dear friend Debra came over for lunch. She’s a veteran liquid lunch girl. When we talked about menu options – she was thrilled I had the right equipment to make a magical meal. You bet. I am fully loaded with the big daddy of all machines – the Vitamix Professional Series 300. I bought it on Amazon last summer for a pretty penny – but it’s worth it.   So here’s the essentials if you are thinking drinking lunch is for you.

  1. Fresh produce
  2. Vitamix
  3. Mason Jars — for the earthy look
  4. Wine Glass — for a bit of glamour

Although I’m a neophyte greens drinker, so far I’ve learned– if it’s in the garden or the veggie bin – it’s going into my lunch mix!

Here’s what Debra and I threw into the Vita Mix for our liquid green lunch:

  • 1½-2 cups (360-480 ml) water
  • ¾ pound (340 g) organic romaine lettuce, rough chopped, about 1 head
  • ½ head large bunch or ¾ small bunch organic spinach
  • 3-4 organic celery stalks, halved
  • 1 organic apple, cored, seeded, quartered
  • 1 organic pear, cored, seeded, quartered
  • 1 organic banana, peeled
  • ½ fresh organic lemon, peeled, seeded
  • 1 bunch organic cilantro with stems (optional)
  • 1 bunch organic parsley with stems (optional)
  1. Place water, romaine, spinach, celery, and optional ingredients, if using, into the Vitamix container in the order listed and secure lid.
  2. Select Variable 1.
  3. Turn machine on and slowly increase speed to Variable 8.
  4. Blend for 30 seconds or until smooth. Stop machine and remove lid.
  5. Add apple, pear, banana and lemon to the Vitamix container in the order listed and secure lid.
  6. Select Variable 1.
  7. Turn machine on and slowly increase speed to Variable 10, then to High.
  8. Blend for 30 seconds or until desired consistency is reached.

Recipe courtesy of Kimberly Snyder’s Glowing Green Smoothie Recipe.

Coconut Browned Butter Cookies

browned butter cookies Mindy trotta

I am going to put it all out there…I am not a fan of coconut. BUT, I am a fan of thin, crisp cookies and Browned Butter, so when my friend Helene Bludman posted a link to these Coconut Browned Butter Cookies from Smitten Kitchen (one of my favorite food websites), I took notice.

Browned Butter puts its pale yellow, insipid cousin to shame. It is butter that’s gone on a vacation…to the tropics…and it’s come home all tawny and burnished, and smelling goood. It’s a little wild, a little flirty and sputtery, so it needs to be watched carefully as you melt it down. First comes the foam and the sputter, and then comes the caramelization process and the “sun tanning” begins. Your kitchen begins to fill with a nutty aroma and just a second before it goes over the edge into burnt butter oblivion, you grab that hot sucker of a pan off the stove and pour everything (including the browned bits at the bottom) into a glass container (yes, anything plastic will melt).


    “Browned Butter is butter that’s gone on a vacation…to the tropics.”

Browned Butter is a treasure. Once it’s cold, it can be beaten into submission with sugar and eggs and folded into flour to make a totally awesome cookie dough. It is not a one-trick pony, however…it can be tossed with pasta or spooned into risotto to make a savory dish that much richer.   These Coconut Cookies should be crispy, not chewy, so bake them until they are a deep russet. And if, like me, you think you don’t like coconut, get over yourself. You will love these cookies! (BTW, it might be gilding the lily, but a handful of very bitter dark chocolate chips would be a great addition. Fold them in at the very end.)   COCONUT BROWN BUTTER COOKIES (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)   1 cup (2 sticks or 225 grams) unsalted butter 2 tablespoons water 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (125 grams) granulated sugar 3/4 cup (145 grams) packed light-brown sugar 1 large egg 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 1 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons (175 grams) all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon baking soda Slightly heaped 1/2 teaspoon flaky sea salt or 1/4 teaspoon table salt 4 cups (240 grams) dried, unsweetened coconut chips In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. It will melt, then foam, then turn clear golden and finally start to turn brown and smell nutty. Stir frequently, scraping up any bits from the bottom as you do. Don’t take your eyes off the pot as it seems to take forever (more than 5 minutes) but then turns dark very quickly. Once it is a deeply fragrant, almost nut-brown color, remove from heat and pour butter and all browned bits at the bottom into a measuring cup. Adding 2 tablespoons water should bring the butter amount back up to 1 cup. Chill browned butter in the fridge until it solidifies, about 1 to 2 hours. You can hurry this along in the freezer, but check back and stir often so it doesn’t freeze unevenly solid. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Scrape chilled browned butter and any bits into a large mixing bowl. Add both sugars and beat the mixture together until fluffy. Add egg and beat until combined, scraping down bowl as needed, then vanilla. Whisk flour, baking soda and salt together in a separate bowl. Pour half of flour mixture into butter mixture and mix until combined, then add remaining flour and mix again, scraping down bowl if needed. Add coconut chips in two parts as well. Scoop dough into 1, 2 or more (a 2-inch wide scoop for bakery-sized cookies works best) balls and arrange a few with a lot of room for spreading on first baking sheet; use the back of a spoon or your fingers to flatten the dough ever so slightly. Bake first tray of cookies; 1 tablespoon scoops will take 10 to 11 minutes; 2 tablespoon scoops, 12 to 14 minutes, the 2-inch scoop used at the bakery, 14 to 16 minutes; take the cookies out when they’re deeply golden all over. If cookies have not spread as much as you see above, stir 2 teaspoons more water into cookie dough, mixing thoroughly, before baking off another tray. (See note below for full explanation.) This should do the trick, but if it does not, repeat the same with your next batch. Once you’ve confirmed that you have the water level correct, bake remaining cookies. Cool cookies on baking sheet for 1 to 2 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Cookies keep for up to one week at room temperature. Extra dough can be stored in the fridge for several days or in the freezer for a month or more. About the water: When you brown butter, water volume is lost, but not all types of butter contain the same amount of water. Most standard American grocery store butters (any non-European style butter), 1 tablespoon of water per stick (1/2 cup) of butter is a sufficient replacement. However, should you find that your first batch of cookies is too thick, a little extra water is all you’ll need to get the texture right.

Skinny Kitchen BBQ Tortilla Pizza

Skinny Kitchen BBQ Chicken Tortilla PizzaWhat one food would you request if you were on a desert island? Many people we know would answer that question with a resounding, “Pizza!” (Hands are raised over here.) Luckily we’re not stranded on that island, but because pizza is classically a no-no on most diets, we would probably eat it more often if we were. Nancy Fox and Skinny Kitchen have remedied that problem with her yummy remake of the recipe using low-fat ingredients and tortillas. You can now indulge…right at home!


Thin pizza crusts are so popular these days. So what better thing to use for ease and to make it healthier than a whole grain flour or whole wheat tortilla for the crust! This New pizza makes such an easy weeknight dinner the whole family will love.  Serve with a salad and you’re all set.Each yummy pizza has 330 calories, 7 grams of fat and 8 Weight Watchers POINTSPLUS. Each pizza even has 6 grams of fiber! 

Prep Time: 12 minutes
Cook Time: 4 minutes


2 whole grain flour tortillas or whole wheat, see shopping tip

1 cup onions, thinly sliced

⅔ cup chicken, cooked and diced into small pieces

¼ cup barbecue sauce, I like Sweet Baby Rays or Bull’s Eye

1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

½ cup cherry or grape tomatoes, sliced

6 tablespoons light mozzarella cheese

1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese


1. Place tortillas under broiler for about 1-2 minutes to toast, turn over and broil 1 more minute to toast other sides. Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn. Remove from oven and set aside.

2. Place sliced onions on a microwave safe plate and cook in microwave for 2 minutes to soften.

3. Add chicken to a small bowl. Toss with 3 tablespoons barbecue sauce and balsamic vinegar.

4. To Assemble Pizza: Spread each tortilla with ½ tablespoon barbecue sauce. Use the back of a spoon to spread. Top each with ½ of chicken/barbecue sauce mixture and spread around. Place ½ of the onions all over the top of each pizza. Sprinkle each with ¼ cup tomatoes. Finally, top each with 3 tablespoons light mozzarella cheese and ½ tablespoon Parmesan cheese.

5. Place on a baking sheet and broil for about 1-2 minutes until cheese is melted and tortilla is browned. Keep an eye on them so they don’t burn.

6. Remove from oven. Place each on a dinner plate. Pull apart with your hands into pieces to eat or serve with a fork and sharp knife, if desired.

Makes 2 tortilla pizzas (this recipe can easily doubled, tripled and so on)

Shopping Tips
I used Trader Joe’s whole grain flour tortillas. They are terrific. Each has 120 calories, 2.5 grams of fat and 4 grams of fiber. Most supermarkets sell whole grain flour or whole wheat flour tortillas.

I also used the lite mozzarella cheese at Trader Joe’s.

Serving Tip

Sometimes I like to top this pizza with a garden salad tossed in my skinny ranch dressing.  It taste really yummy this way. The barbecue sauce on the pizza and the ranch dressing on the salad make a winning combination!

bbq chicken pizza with salad


Cooking Mistakes You Didn’t Even Know You Were Making

Cooking Tips - Foodie CornerWhether you’re a “cook” who doesn’t know a ladle from a spatula, or a well-seasoned creator of culinary masterpieces, it never hurts to add some cooking tips to your workbook. Nancy Lowell, of Chef’s Last Diet has put together a list of helpful hints to make your dishes taste better.

We all make cooking mistakes, and if you learned to cook at home (which is where most people learn) it’s likely you learned to do things the way your mom (if that’s who taught you) did them, and she the way her mother and grandmother did… If you were fortunate to be from a family of great cooks you’re lucky, and at an advantage over most people. A lot of best practices in the kitchen are common sense, but some less obvious. If you were taught to do something a certain way though, that will likely trump common sense…

In his great book  Malcolm Gladwell talks about the 10,000 hour rule, the theory that mastery of anything takes 10,000 hours of practice. That’s the equivalent of five years of full time work. Chances are good that in that 10,000 hours are plenty of hours spent fixing errors and learning how to avoid them. I have certainly put in well over 10,000 hours, and still make plenty of mistakes.

This list is more about getting the best results from your ingredients

Measuring dried herbs into the sauce: Dried herbs are great—even preferable for anything that will cook for a while; marinara sauce, meatballs or meatloaf, roasts, stews, and braises. Before adding dried herbs rub them in your hands to release their natural oils, and ‘wake’ them up. You’ll also create some new surfaces to expose to the liquid. Unless you use them frequently buy dried herbs in small quantities. They don’t last forever, and before you use them rub small amount in your hands, and check the scent, if they smell off, or flat, or barely at all, it’s time to discard them.
Adding fresh herbs too early: Fresh herbs are wonderful, and most should be added as close to serving as possible. herbs like rosemary, oregano, lavender, and thyme are more hardy and can stand up to long cooking times. Soft leaf herbs like basil, sage, chervil, cilantro, parsley, dill, mint, chives, are more delicate, and their flavor won’t last if they’re cooked for too long. To cut herbs like basil and sage, roll the leaves into ‘cigars’ and slice into thin ribbons, call chiffonade. These herbs will bruise and get discolored if you chop them.
Adding wine or spirits too late, or dangerously: Wine and spirits add another layer of flavor, but they need cooking time for the flavors to soften and deepen. Adding wine at the last minutes may give your sauce a harsh flavor, even if the wine is really good. When adding wine or spirits to a pan sauce, remove the pan from the heat before adding, to prevent them flaming up, even if you intend to let the sauce flame. To flambé a sauce, add the wine to the pan off the heat, then put it back on the burner, and gently tip it away from you until the flame catches the alcohol on fire, then step back and allow the alcohol to burn off, which won’t take long.
Draining your pasta: Always save some of the cooking water (about 1-2 cups) before you drain the pasta. This water is starchy and salty and will add body and flavor as well as thicken your sauce. Add it a little at a time. If you’re going to be making a cold dish with the pasta, add ice water to the cooking water before you drain the pasta, then run cold water on it, and toss it with some oil or the dressing you’ll be using to keep it form clumping.
Overcooking green vegetables: The best way to cook green vegetables and keep their colors bright and their texture crisp is to blanch them. To do this properly put the vegetables into rapidly boiling salted water (you can add a pinch of baking soda which will help balance the PH of the water). Boil briefly— a minute or two depending on the vegetable, then immediately shock them by plunging them into a bowl of ice water. To serve toss quickly in a pan with a bit of oil, butter, sauce, stock,or cooking spray (if you must).
Making lumpy sauces and gravies: Never add flour directly to a sauce or gravy! The classic way to thicken sauces is to use a roux, a mix of fat and flour that has cooked to remove the floury taste, and to create some color, a blond roux is very light, a medium roux is a golden brown, and a dark or black roux (used for gumbo). All of these are a result of cooking time. The roux is stirred into the sauce, and constant whisking will keep lumps from forming, though if you do get lumps you can just strain your gravy. Other ways to thicken are using a cornstarch (or arrowroot) slurry, mix together equal parts cold water and cornstarch and add to simmering sauce, stirring constantly, it will thicken much faster than using a roux! You can use egg yolks, but this is the most difficult, as you can go from perfect to scrambled eggs in a split second. You can also just reduce the sauce, which takes time, and do not season until the sauce is reduced or it will be too salty.
Using the wrong amount of oil to fry: There are three ways to fry; sautéing which uses a small amount of fat, pan frying, and deep frying. Of these, pan frying takes the most precision; you want the fat to reach only halfway up the item you are frying, or the center of the cutlet (or fish) will be overcooked as it will get cooked twice. With all these methods one of the most common mistakes is overcrowding the pan. This will lower the temperature of the fat (and that creates greasy, soggy fried food) and it will not leave room for the bubbles of water to evaporate fast enough and you’ll steam your food. If you can fit six items in your pan, fry five. To sauté corrrectly, you need something that is both tender, and thin enough to cook quickly.
Slicing meat in the wrong direction: Before you carve your roast, or turkey, take a look at how the grain is running, then cut across, not along the grain. The old image of Dad standing over the turkey slicing white meat off the bird are lovely, but to cut the breast meat correctly you should remove it from the bird, then slice the breast across into medallions not long pieces which will be stringy. Some meats can be tricky, but in general look at the meat as a rectangle and slice the way that will create shorter pieces.
Using raw nuts: If you want that deep, nutty flavor you need to toast nuts before you add them. Not every recipe will advise you to do this, but my practice and advice is to do it anyway. You can do this in the oven or on the stove. Either way give this your full attention as it goes quickly, and they burn easily.
Cooking cold meat; When you’re going to cook meat using a quick method like grilling or sautéeing let your meat come to room temperature first. If the meat is cold it will take so long for the internal temperature to get to where you want it, the outside can burn. (Don’t let the meat sit out for more than one hour, but that should be plenty of time).

Fabulous Desserts For Summer Entertaining

summer dessertsKaren from Baking in a Tornado is a smart woman. She knows that you can’t have a summer BBQ, picnic, pool or beach party without a fantastic dessert, so she’s offering up a melange of mouthwatering dishes for us to choose from. Make one…make them all!


If you’re anything like me you’ve looked forward to summer and summer entertaining even before Mother Nature picked this particular winter to go through peri-menopause. Not that I don’t enjoy visiting with friends and sharing winter foods, but when it’s 50 below with whipping winds and dark at 4:30pm, I tend to be more in “hunker down” mode.

Not only is summer a more comfortable time to entertain, but I just love summer foods. Berries are a constant in much of my baking starting right around Memorial Day. Red, White and Blue and Stars always make an appearance both for Memorial Day and Independence Day.

To kick off this much anticipated summer season, I’m sharing a few treats that will be gracing my table and impressing my guests.

Firecracker Red, White and Blue Cake

summer desserts

Strawberry Cheesecake filled Strawberries

summer desserts

Mixed Berry Pie

summer desserts

Strawberry Cream Cookie Cups and Parfait

Summer desserts

S’More and Strawberry Skewers

summer desserts

Karen is a former Director of Social Service, Retail Buyer, and SAHM to two teens about to attempt adjusting to being an empty-nester. She blogs and shares recipes at 

Karen’s been featured on the websites Mamapedia, Scary Mommy, GenerationFabulous, Foodies Network, and Treat a Day is affiliated with the Culinary Content Network and is a Contributor on Felicity Huffman’s website What the Flicka. She’s been published in the Life Well Blogged series and in the book The Mother of all Meltdowns. 


Super Low-Calorie Honey Mustard Broccoli Slaw

Skinny Kitchen Broccoli Slaw for Memorial Day WeekendSummer officially begins with this weekend’s Memorial Day celebration. While it is a time to reflect and remember those who gave their lives for our great country, it is also traditionally a time for families to get together…and weather permitting…grill! Here’s a terrific slaw from Skinny Kitchen that goes well with any grilled entree.

Skinny Kitchen’s Nancy Fox says, “I love all kinds of coleslaw, particularly this flavorful one!  Using broccoli slaw is a wonderful alternative to typical cabbage.  Such a versatile side dish for fish, beef, chicken,  pork, hot dogs, burgers and more. You’ll love how quick it is to make.” The skinny for each serving just 38 calories, 1 gram of fat and 1 Weight Watchers POINTS PLUS.

Prep Time: 5 minutes


3 tablespoons light mayonnaise, preferably Best Foods (Hellman’s) Light

2 tablespoons nonfat plain Greek yogurt or nonfat plain yogurt

2½ tablespoons spicy brown mustard (not Dijon)

1½ tablespoons apple cider vinegar

2 teaspoons honey

Fresh cracked black pepper, to taste

1 (12 oz) bag broccoli slaw, about 5 cups

⅓ cup scallions, chopped (green part only)


1. To make the coleslaw dressing–In a small bowl, mix together mayonnaise, yogurt, mustard, vinegar and honey. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

2. Just before serving, add broccoli slaw and scallions to a bowl. Toss with dressing.

3. Leftovers can be refrigerated and served the next day. It still tastes great.

Makes 4 cups total (each serving ½ cup)

Food Fact

Broccoli slaw is made with broccoli rather than the traditional cabbage. Broccoli slaw is incredible versatile—it’s equally tasty in raw or cooked form, with a sweet or savory kick. Many people that don’t like the taste of cabbage do like broccoli slaw.

Healthy Benefit

Broccoli slaw has a bounty of vitamins A and C, plus an impressive fiber content. It boasts all the benefits of broccoli, simply in shredded form (along with a few carrots and the occasional purple cabbage leaf).

Weight Watchers
 (old points) 0

Weight Watchers POINTS PLUS 1

SKINNY FACTS: for ½ cup serving
38 calories, 1g fat, 1g protein, 5g carbs, 2g fiber, 108mg sodium, 3g sugar
FAT FACTS: for ½ cup serving using full fat mayonnaise
57 calories, 4g fat, 1g protein, 4g carbs, 2g fiber, 89mg sodium, 3g sugar

Easy, Healthy Lemon Chicken


easy, healthy lemon chicken

carol cassara


We’re not sure whether our friend Carol Cassara is a fly by the seat of her pants kind of gal, but she did come up with this simple chicken recipe awfully speedily. It’s tasty and simple. Perfect for dinner on those days when you haven’t got much prep time…you know, those days when you’re flying by the seat of your pants.





Walking Riley the other day, I caught a glimpse of one of our lemon trees, heavy with fruit. Oh, the taste of a lemon right off the tree! I asked M to pick a few and decided to make a healthy lemon chicken. And it was scrumptious. So here you go: try it!
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Find a rectangular baking dish that will hold four chicken breasts. Spray with with cooking spray. I like to line it with aluminum foil, first.

easy, healthy lemon chicken

carol cassara

This here picture of a fire-breathing chicken appears because raw chicken breasts are ugly and photos of live chickens make me want to turn vegetarian. So get out four chicken breasts, not frozen of course. Thaw them. Or, if you live on a farm, slaughter a few chickens. I’ll leave the rest of the dead chicken prep to you.

easy, healthy lemon chicken

carol cassara

Get out a small frying pan. Add a couple tablespoons of oregano to 1/4 cup of olive oil in the pan. Don’t turn it on yet! It’s the oregano that makes this dish so tasty, so don’t skimp! I used dried, but fresh is great.

easy, healthy lemon chicken

carol cassara

Add maybe a teaspoon of thyme. I mean, I made all this up, so season to taste. I did not salt or pepper; no need.

Garlic: 3-4 garlic cloves, minced. Or the equivalent. Yep, into the pan they go!

easy, healthy lemon chicken

carol cassara

How about some white wine?

easy, healthy lemon chicken

carol cassara

No? Then chicken broth.

easy, healthy lemon chicken

carol cassara

Start with half a cup of either. Or even both.
And wait–didn’t I say it was LEMON chicken? Squeeze two lemons and pour their juice into the pan. Without their seeds. Stir and heat all up in the pan for a bit. Till it’s nice and warm and the garlic aromatic. Stir it well.
Pour the heated lemon-herb etc. mixture over the chicken.
Pop the baking dish of chicken in the 400 degree oven for about 25 minutes. The breasts should be tender and juicy. If not, cook a couple more minutes till they are done. You’ve made chicken a zillion times, you can do this.
Oh, this dish is yummy! I served it with Brussels sprouts, corn and cauliflower.

My husband gave it a 4.5 on a 5 point scale. He’s a strict grader, though. He says that he’s had very perfect 5 meals in his life.

The Best Easter Desserts

Karen from has done it again. She’s put together a group of her scrumptious dessert recipes that would be perfect for an Easter celebration. Perfect for Easter, perfect for spring, just what the Easter Bunny ordered!

Spring Fever CookiesColorful Easter Egg Cookies are a colorful delight. They look just like Easter Eggs, and taste divine!








Dessert for the Easter Buffet

Angel Food Trifle looks like a big, pink milkshake, but it’s actually a light, ethereal concoction
that will look perfect on the Easter buffet.









Perfect Easter Buffet Dessert

And just because it’s Easter doesn’t mean that the only chocolate permitted has to be in the shape of a bunny. Double Chocolate Cheesecake Pie is deliciously decadent and will show that bunny just who’s boss!


Cinnamon Raisin Quinoa Granola (for Passover and Anytime!)

Breakfast during passover can be a bit of a challenge..unless it’s Matzoh Brei (and although it is delicious, it’s not exactly a health food.) But the ladies from the wonderful food blog,, have come up something that is not only healthy, but yummy as well. Make it the night before so it will be ready and waiting for you at breakfast.

Kosher for Passover Quinoa Granola


Here’s what they’re saying about their Granola: Yes, we’re talking Passover already. Of course it doesn’t feel like it’s coming, since we just got hit yet again with another snow storm. But whether spring decides to put its foot down and push winter out of the way or not, Passover is rapidly approaching.

So we’re starting to plan already. And this year, we wanted to create gluten-free Passover recipes, just to switch it up a little. And even though eating gluten free during passover isn’t the most difficult thing to do, it can get challenging, since a lot of products and recipes call for matzah, matzah meal and other gluten containing ingredients.

Personally, we find breakfast to be one of the most challenging meals during Passover. Especially trying to make it somewhat nutritious!

Well, once again, quinoa to the rescue. This tiny little power house is actually considered a seed and is also kosher for Passover. Great alternative to people who don’t eat rice during the holiday. And so versatile, that can even be made into granola. As we did in this recipe.

Enjoy it with milk, almond milk or yogurt as part of your breakfast, or just by itself as a healthy snack.

Definitely healthier than all that other sugary stuff



Serves: 4½ cups
  • Dry ingredients
  • 2 cups raw quinoa (any type)
  • 1 cup coconut flakes
  • ½ cup ground walnuts
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ⅓ cup chopped walnuts
  • Wet Ingredients
  • 1 tbsp honey or maple syrup
  • ¼ cup vegetable oil
  • ½ cup vanilla almond milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • Add after baking:
  • ⅓ cup raisins
  • ⅓ cup cranberries
  1. Pre-heat oven to 275 F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper
  2. In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients. Set aside
  3. In a small bowl, combine wet ingredients and mix well
  4. Add the wet ingredients to dry.
  5. Mix well using your hands, so the quinoa is coated evenly.
  6. Spread evenly on lined baking sheet, to form one thin, single layer ( you may need to bake it in two batches)
  7. Bake for 45 minutes at 275F, checking and mixing every 15 minutes so it cooks evenly
  8. Let it cool slightly and add raisins and cranberries. Mix well
  9. Let it cool completely and store in air tight container


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Not My Bubbie’s Matzoh Balls


not your bubbie's matzoh balls

Every Jewish person I know has a strong opinion about what makes a good matzo ball, and a story about the worst ones they ever had. I love, love, love matzo balls, and it’s time to make them! (Quite honestly, I make them other times of year for no more compelling reason than I want some.) I’m sure there are plenty of non-Jews reading this, and thinking they have some strong feelings about Matzo balls too, and I’m sure you do, but we’re the pros, the people who’ve been eating them our entire lives. I was born in March, and that year Passover was April 6th so I probably missed that first Seder, but I’m sure someone was spooning MBs into my mouth by the following year.

If you don’t know, MBs (how many times can you type out matzo balls?) come in two designations: floaters and sinkers.  If I recall correctly, my grandmother’s were sinkers, though not the golf ball tough version I’ve heard about. If you go to traditional Jewish Delis from The Carnegie Deli or the 2nd Avenue Deli in Manhattan, to the Famous Fourth Street Deli here in Philadelphia you will be served a gigantic MB. I have no idea how they manage to make them so large (I’m talking tennis ball-size) have them cooked all the way through, but not too dense or chewy. I have tried, and failed enough times that I’ve given up. I make mine about 3″ in diameter.  At the Carnegie Deli, they bring you a bowl with two giant matzo balls in it, and a separate pot of chicken soup that the waiter dumps into your bowl once he has set it down on the table. I imagine it saves on the number of soup-related accidents!

carnegie soup

My grandmother made perfectly good MBs  but my mom’s were better, and I have spent years trying to perfect mine. I never got my grandma’s recipe, but I did get some tips from my mom. The first year I made them I separated the eggs and whipped the whites, then folded them into the mix, and though I wouldn’t have thought it possible, they were too fluffy, they all but disintegrated in the simmering water. According to my mom, you need to add a bit of grated onion (which I do) use seltzer instead of water (I do that too) and use butter, which defies kosher law, but we’re not particularly strict about these things in my family. I used to use butter, but now I use half butter and half schmaltz, otherwise known as rendered chicken fat, in part because I like the flavor it gives the MBs.

I prefer a MB that has a bit of chew, and density, but isn’t too heavy. This is the kind of thing you can make a few days in advance—I am making them today for our Seder. When you form them, the best technique I’ve found is to keep a bowl of cool water nearby and dip your hands before scooping each ball (sorry) and the mixture won’t stick to your fingers. As with most things, cooked in water, you want the water at a simmer, as boiling water will make the MBs tougher.

balls mix

How can we talk about matzoh balls, without mentioning the chicken soup? The soup I make for this is not the same as the fully loaded chicken soup I’ve shared here before. This is a soup meant to be served as a broth, with nothing but a MB in it. I use a whole chicken, and plenty of seasoning and aromatics which I then strain out. I remove the skin from the chicken, without going crazy—it’s just too much trouble to take the skin off the wings. Taking off the skin leaves less fat to remove after you chill the soup, so a little bit of skin won’t make a big difference. I toss in a few celery stalks, a cut up Spanish onion with the skin on, to add color, and four unpeeled carrots, for seasoning I add two bay leaves, and a generous teaspoon each of dill and sage (dried). I simmer this for an hour, then remove the chicken (you can use that for chicken salad) and strain the liquid.

Whether or not you’re Jewish, whether or not you’re having or attending a Seder, matzo ball soup is great any time of year. Food Network recently showed a restaurant that serves bacon wrapped matzo balls!  Have you ever made matzo ball soup?  Is there a special trick you have that makes yours the best? I’d love to hear what your not so secret ingredients are!

Matzo Balls

Print recipe
Matzo Balls

Serves 8-10
Prep time 30 minutes
Cook time 30 minutes
Total time 1 hour


  • 1 cup matzo meal
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons butter (melted)
  • 2 tablespoons schmaltz (rendered chicken fat melted)
  • 1/4 cup seltzer
  • 1 tablespoon grated onion
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • black pepper (a few grinds of fresh pepper)


Step 1

Separate two eggs, putting the whites in one bowl,

Beat egg whites until stiff

Add the two yolks, plus the rest of the eggs to another b


Beat eggs, and add seltzer, butter, schmaltz and seasoning, and mix well

Step 2

Add matzoh meal and mix


Gently fold egg whites into matzoh mixture

Cover and refrigerate one hour

balls roll

Step 3
Bring a large soup pot filled 2/3 with salted water to a boil
Step 4
Set up a station with a bowl of cool water, the matzo mix and the soup pot,
Moisten hands before forming each ball
Matzo balls will double in size, so make them half as large as you want them
Try to handle them as little as possible

balls mix

Step 5

After all balls have been formed, lower heat to let the water stay at a simmer, and cover th pot and let cook for thirty minutes.balls cooking

Step 6

To store matzoh balls, remove them from the pot, and put into a container where they aren’t too tight, and cover with cooled cooking liquidballs again

Step 7

To serve, remove from cooking water, and heat the matzo balls in the soup you will be serving

Step 8

Garnish with fresh dill, if desired