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Kitchen Madness: Maple Bourbon Cider, Beef Stroganoff made Healthy, Pumpkin Millet Bread, and Sausage Pesto Ravioli

13 Dec

I’ve been feeling the back-and-forth bounce. I’ve been trying to cook comfort foods but with a healthy twist. Sometimes it totally works (millet pumpkin bread=phenomenal), sometimes it totally flops (made a coconut kale salad but added way to much large flake unsweetened coconut). And sometimes it just makes you crave a cocktail.

Maple Bourbon Cider. Got this recipe from Shutterbean and it is absolutely perfect. She also has a recipe for homemade amaretto which I look forward to making soon!

There’s apple cider, maple syrup, lemon juice, and bourbon. Lately I’ve been diggin’ Bulleit Bourbon. Good stuff. Oh, and I do not have a cocktail shaker, so I used my water bottle. Worked like a gem AND its portable 😉

This was a pre- (and post!) dinner cocktail. Yes, I made it twice in the same night, but don’t worry, I shared. Dinner was Mustard Green Beans with Beef Stroganoff made with 0% Greek yogurt instead of 21302983% sour cream. Definitely not as rich and creamy as the traditional, but still tasted great and saved on calories and fat (I needed the cals for my second cocktail). Thanks, Ellie!

And the smell of simmering mushrooms and onions with wine and beef broth is so Cozy. Winter. Night.

As if all of this cooking and eating wasn’t enough, I made Pumpkin Bread with millet, whole wheat pastry flour, coconut oil (no saturated fat), and honey instead of sugar. A moist cake with some crunch from the millet (adds fiber, iron, magnesium, potassium). I got the recipe from Cookie+Kate. Y to the UM. With an extra drizzle of honey on top.

It has been fun trying out your recipes, Tracy, Ellie, and Kate.

All of this experimenting in the kitchen makes a girl want to kick off her shoes and wake up with someone else cooking a meal for her. And this girl got exactly that. Ravioli, spinach, sausage, pesto, cream, black pepper. Ah, now this is bliss.

Happy Eating, everyone!

Warm Winter Meals…my go-to’s

11 Dec


Let’s you and me warm up with some cozy winter meals. I am rounding up a few of my go-to warm recipes that I find myself craving again and again.

Chicken Marbella: This chicken never fails to please…makes the house smell so cozy!

African G-Nut Stew: Savory recipes that call for peanut butter make me swoon.

Green n’ Yellow Risotto: Nothing screams warmth like a piping hot bowl of creamy risotto.

Mushroom Etc. and Sausage Ragu over Polenta: Cheesy polenta + Savory Sausage + Quickly Sauteed Veg

Lasagna! Layered pasta filled with veggies, basil, and ricotta. With a touch of fresh nutmeg for good measure.

Minestrone Soup. Warm broth, hearty beans, crusty bread.

Quiche. The savory pie that can be eaten morning, noon, or night.

Get your ovens preheating and your stove-tops flaming because it is time to warm things up for the cold winter ahead of us.

Mushroom Etc. And Sausage Ragu Over Polenta

28 Mar

What a great weekend. French-style brunch by day, Scottish pub by night. Work making pastries by early morning, homework by early afternoon. Stretching in downward dog at yoga class and running out my pent-up energy in the overcast, beach-style weather.

I’ve made a mini-goal for myself. I am going to try to cook dinner BEFORE I get too hungry. That way, when I am actually hungry I will have dinner made and I won’t snack the entire time I cook.

In addition, I want to save time by prepping my fruits and vegetables right after I buy them. I put my breakfast in a tupper-ware and take it on-the-go most days of the week, so I decided to make my own fruit salad to add to my yogurt or oatmeal. With a sprinkle of cinnamon, my fruit salad was complete. Now I can just eat as much as I want out of the big bowl in my fridge whether it is with breakfast, after dinner, or as a mid-afternoon pick-me-up. I also chopped my celery and carrots into easy to eat pieces and I can just put them in a ziplock baggie to take with me for lunch.

Fresh Fruit Salad

serves 4-6

2 kiwis
1 banana
4 large strawberries
1 pear
1 fugi apple
2 teaspoons cinnamon

Chop all your fruit. Mix everything in a large bowl. Sprinkle with cinnamon and stir. Spoon some fruit salad over your morning yogurt, oatmeal, or eat it on its own. YUM!

After my grocery run this evening, I cooked up a filling, healthy, hearty dinner that made leftovers for lunch tomorrow! I took this recipe I found in a CookingLight magazine and gave it a little twist. Thus I call this a Mushroom Etc. And Sausage Ragu Over Polenta.

Before I started heating any pans, I made sure that I had everything that I needed for this dinner chopped and ready. Then I began sauteing my chicken sausages in a nice hot pan until browned.

Once browned, I took the sausage pieces out of the pan and set them in a bowl.

Next I sauteed some onion and once the onion got soft I added my mushrooms.

After they got nice and browned and soft, in went the garlic, followed by some chopped asparagus and halved cherry tomatoes.

While everything was simmering I was working on the gorgeous creamy polenta. Then it was time to EAT!

Mushroom Etc. And Sausage Ragu Over Polenta


Cook the polenta while the ragù simmers so everything will be ready and hot at the same time.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 1 cup polenta and 1 cup ragù)


  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 8 ounces hot turkey Italian sausage (I used about 2-3 Italian Chicken Sausages from Trader Joe’s)
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion (I used a red onion)
  • 1 pound cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained (I used fresh rainbow cherry tomatoes)
  • 2 1/2 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth (I used veggie broth)
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup uncooked polenta
  • 4 ounces 1/3-less-fat cream cheese (I used 2 tablespoons plain yogurt, a pinch of mozzarella, and a generous grating of Pecorino cheese)
  • 1 tablespoon butter


1. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons oil to pan; swirl to coat. Remove sausage from casings and chop into bite-sized pieces. Add sausage to pan; sauté 3-5 minutes or until browned, stirring. Remove sausage from pan.

2. Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion; sauté 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add mushrooms; sauté 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in sausage, asparagus (if using), 1/8 teaspoon salt, and tomatoes; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium; simmer gently for 15 minutes.

3. Bring broth and 1 1/2 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add polenta, stirring well. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer 20 minutes or until thick (mine took about 10 minutes or less), stirring occasionally. Stir in remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt, cheese, and butter. Serve with sausage mixture.

Nutritional Information

This is if you use the CookingLight recipe without my adaptations, but it should still be quite similar regarless

Calories: 428
Fat: 18.7g (sat 8.4g,mono 8.5g,poly 1.4g)
Protein: 18.2g
Carbohydrate: 46g
Fiber: 4.6g
Cholesterol: 53mg
Iron: 3.3mg
Sodium: 821mg
Calcium: 74mg

>Thanksgiving Rewind…

26 Nov

>2 years ago. I tackled the entire bird for the first time.

I was a skinny little twerp taking the guts out of a big ol’ turkey. But I did it. I won the battle. I successfully baked my spice-rubbed turkey to a lovely golden brown. At least the oven didn’t light on fire (yes, that did happen one year).

Fast forward 2 years. My mother thought it would be simpler to just by a netted breast and thigh rather than deal with the bird as a whole. We nestled the meat atop an aromatic bed of onions, carrots, and fennel. Then mama had this crazy good idea to pour an entire bottle of white wine over the whole darn thing. Crazy good.

Whoa Nelly! That’s one glistening bird. The tough part is keeping it nice and juicy, a rare occurrence in my family’s home (let’s just say we have been known to make dry dry dry and did I say dry poultry). My mom does know how to cook up some real good red meat, but I will save those stories for another day…

Happy Turkey Day everyone!

Oh, and here’s a little snippet of some of this year’s “sides” (sides in “” because I usually consider them my “mains”…the sides are always my fav.!) :

Dinner at Home: Simple, Summery, and Seasonal Steak and Salads

31 Jul

After two months of stop and go (but mostly go) traveling, from Europe back to the USA and down to Argentina and back, I admit, it’s nice to be home. It is nice to be home and see my family and eat dinner outside in the backyard on a warm summer evening.

The menu? Simple, summery, and seasonal:

-Mom’s steak on the grill
-Grilled fresh tomatoes from the garden with Parmesan cheese
-Leftover crispy oven-baked chopped potatoes
-My tomato, cucumber, and hericot vert salad with feta cheese
-My shaved zucchini salad with Parmesan and pine nuts

For dessert? Blueberry and Summer Peach Galette with Homemade Vanilla Bean Ice Cream: Say it, just say it. I know, I am incredible.

The tomato, cucumber, and hericot vert salad with feta cheese can be made in 10 minutes or less. The salad was inspired by my stay in Paris with my good friend Alex. The salad requires no dressing; I like to emphasize the sweet flavor of the produce and the salty cheese. The salad is perfect for summer.

And yes, I used canned green beans, but hey, they’re French-style! I quite like how soft and thin the green beans are. So sue me. They taste great, even if they are from a can.

Tomato, Cucumber, and Hericot Vert Salad with Feta Cheese

serves 4, more or less

3 tomatoes, preferably from the garden
2 Persian cucumbers
1 can of French-style green beans or hericot vert
1/2 block of Feta cheese, cut into cubes or crumbled

1. Slice the tomatoes into wedges and put them into a salad bowl.
2. Slice the cucumbers in half the long way and again in half along the equator. Very thinly slice the cucumbers into a julienne. Put into the salad bowl.
3. Open the can of hericot vert and drain. Add to the salad bowl.
4. Toss the cubed or crumbled cheese into the salad.
5. Eat and enjoy.

The shaved zucchini salad is another lovely and light treat that epitomizes summer elegance and simplicity. No cooking necessary. I absolutely love all of the textures and flavors going on–long, thin zucchini ribbons contrasted with tiny crunchy nuts, delicate slivers of cheese, and a salty tangy dressing.


Shaved Zucchini Salad with Parmesan and Pine Nuts
Bon Appetit Magazine August 2010


1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon course kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

2 pounds of medium zucchini, trimmed
1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted
Small wedge of Parmesan cheese

**RECIPE NOTE: I did not have fresh basil on hand (I know, shame on me) so I just omitted it. I also added some fresh sliced avocado because, well, I love avocados and why not?!


Whisk oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and pepper flakes in a small bowl to blend. Set dressing aside.

Using vegetable peeler or V-slicer and working from top to bottom of each zucchini, slice zucchini into ribbons (about 1/16 inch thick). Place ribbons in a large bowl. Add basil and nuts (and avocado if you are like me). Drizzle the dressing on and in the salad. Using the vegetable peeler, shave strips from the Parmesan wedge over the salad.