Archive for the ‘Healthy’ Category


Adapted from The Essential New York Times Cookbook

My Mom recently gave me this cookbook which she had autographed by the author Amanda Hesser:

“for jeannette-
eat like you mean it!

 all the best, amanda hesser”

Very cool.  It’s an immense cookbook, both in terms of content and actual size. It includes a compilation of the best recipes published in the New York Times over the past 150 years(!).  The most interesting part is the timeline set out in the beginning of each chapter that chronicles food trends for each decade (did you know the Caesar salad came into vogue in the 1940’s?). This fun feature and the author’s own comments for each recipe almost makes you forget that there are no pictures (this usually drives me crazy- what is it supposed to look like?!).

This is the first recipe I’ve made from the cookbook- a great way to use up an abundance of summer vegetables!


  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 1 medium squash
  • 1 medium zuchinni
  • Salt
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 large onion, sliced thin
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme or oregano (or 1/2
    tsp. dried)
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 ripe tomatoes, peeled and cored
  • 6 basil leaves, finely chopped


Chop squash and zucchini into 1/2 inch cubes. Trim ends of eggplant but do not peel. Cut into 1/2 inch slices and cut each slice into large cubes. Generously sprinkle the eggplant with salt and place in a colander. Weight it down with a plate and let stand for one hour to drain (I was skeptical, but it really does drain liquid! but in a pinch, I bet you could skip this step).

Place heavy skillet over medium heat and add oil. When hot, add onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until onion is soft, 3 to 4 minutes.  Add the eggplant, zucchini, squash, herbs and pepper. Add bay leaf and cover and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes.

Chop tomatoes and add them to the eggplant, along with the basil. Simmer for 20 minutes, or until thick. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve hot or cold. We enjoyed it over couscous and again over slices of thick bread.

*Notes: the recipe was originally printed in the New York Times on June 3, 1965: “A Flair for Languages can Add Flavor to Menus” by Craig Claiborne.  The
recipe was adapted from Mrs. Jacques Kayaloff (although the notes in the cookbook state that the recipe may actually be the work of Mrs. Kayaloff’s cook, Lee Faith).


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It is blazing hot here in D.C. and a cold bowl of gazpacho soup is the perfect thing to eat. Especially when you have a new Cuisinart Food Processor!  This recipe is my mother-in-law’s and it is the best gazpacho recipe- ever. It’s flavorful, chunky and so thick that you can stand a piece of bread up in it. Just the way I like it! As soon as I got the food processor home and unpacked, this is one of the first things I wanted to make! MUCH easier than chopping all the ingredients by hand and less messy than making it in a blender.  

6 tomatoes
1 medium cucumber, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 medium red onion
1 medium green pepper
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp vinegar (red wine or sherry)
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
pinch of sugar
2 slices day old bread (country white or Italian chopped in cubes) (optional)
1 cup water or 1 1/2 cups tomato juice
Hot sauce (to taste) 
Plunge tomatoes into a big pot of boiling water for 30 seconds (this makes it easier to peel). Remove from water, peel and chop. Combine all ingredients in a food processor. Serve with fresh basil leaves.  Simple as that! This soup tastes even better the next day, after being refrigerated for awhile. It may become too thick, and if so, you can add more water or the tomato juice to reach your desired consistency (we like ours pretty chunky).

And a picture of Tony in our Garden for good measure!

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It’s that time of year again when our garden produces more basil than we know what to do with!









I also got one of these from my parents for my birthday!









Enter PESTO. versatile, freezeable, and an easy way to break in a new food processor!

Here are two easy recipes:

Classic Basil Pesto










  • 2 cups packed fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 tsp. salt (or to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper (or to taste)
  • 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese


In blender or food processor, pulse basil, pine nuts, garlic, salt, and pepper. Gradually add oil to form a smooth, thick consistency. Stir in cheese at the end and give the mixer another spin or two to achieve desired consistency. Add more salt and pepper (or oil, or cheese) to taste.









Pea Pesto

I have to admit, I made this recipe after reading that it was one of the dishes Giada de Laurentiis was serving to William and Kate (sorry, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge) during their recent trip to California. It was really easy and a good alternative to traditional basil pesto (especially as a base layer for paninis!).










  • 1 10-ounce package of frozen peas, defrosted
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup olive oil


In a food processor or blender, pulse together the peas, garlic, parmesan cheese and salt. With the machine running, slowly add in the olive oil until it is well combined, which takes about one to two minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spread on thick slices of baguette or ciabatta and top with sliced tomatoes.

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Mixed Mushroom Soup

Trick or Treat! 

To kick off the start of Fall (a.k.a. soup season!) I made this amazing and hearty mushroom soup this past Halloween weekend.  I will treat you to the recipe at the end. But first, in the spirit of Halloween, a few tricks and treats from this past weekend: 

Friday night we went to an event at the National Zoo.

…where we enjoyed treats provided by Magic Hat Brewing Co.


… and Tony tried to trick some of the residents of the gorilla house.


On Saturday, I was reminded what a treat it is to live in D.C. where the National Mall is only a short metro, cab, bus, car ride away. Apparently everyone in D.C. had the same idea, so after considerable effort getting there, we reached the Mall to attend this:  

The Mall was packed with people dressed up in costumes and carrying all types of signs. 

It was so crowded, we couldn’t see or hear anything. The trick was to remember to record the event before we left the house and then watch it later from the warm comfort of our couch! 

Sunday was Halloween and while some of us wanted to go out and get some treats with the other kids….    

We told him he wasn’t going to trick anyone with that tail sticking out!

So we stayed in and enjoyed this delicious treat instead:  

Mixed Mushroom Soup

adapted from Whole Living

Serves 4 (about 7 cups)


  • 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 leeks, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced and rinsed
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 pound assorted fresh mushrooms (white button, cremini, oyster, and shiitake), rinsed and chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds (we didn’t have any, so I omitted)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes, drained (I used two cans)
  • 1/2 cup marsala wine (optional) (I omitted)
  • 4 cups vegetable broth


Soak porcini in 1 cup warm water until softened, about 20 minutes. Lift porcini from liquid and coarsely chop; strain liquid through a colander or cheesecloth-lined sieve and reserve.

In a large soup pot, heat oil over medium. Add leeks; season with salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes or until tender. Add garlic, porcini, and chopped mushrooms, season with salt and pepper, and cook for 7 minutes or until mushrooms just begin to brown. Add fennel seeds, bay leaves, tomato paste, and tomatoes, and cook for 3 minutes. Add marsala (if using), porcini liquid, and broth. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.  Discard bay leaves before serving. Serve with a grating of pecorino or parmesan cheese.  We had this with grilled swiss cheese sandwiches on rye bread. Perfect combo!

Taking a picture of a steaming bowl of soup is quite tricky!

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The summer is over and the start of my favorite season is here- FALL! Therefore, it is fitting that my last (and only!) post this September is for Ratatouille- the perfect recipe for all of those end of summer vegetables. In fairness, I’ve probably made this every week this month so it’s ok that it is the only thing I’ve posted…

It’s a really easy recipe that can be adapted a million different ways depending on what ingredients you have on hand and how you want to eat it. I’ve had it over rice, couscous, bread, salad… you name it. I know a lot of recipes have you cut the veggies in round slices and bake them in layers, but I prefer more of a mash up of veggies that you can cook directly on the stove top.

So here is my recipe:



  • 1 medium eggplant (peeled* and cut into 1-inch cubes)
  • 1 yellow pepper (chopped)
  • 1 red or orange pepper (chopped)
  • 1 medium yellow onion (chopped)
  • 1 or 2 tomatoes (chopped) or 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 medium squash or zucchini (or both) (chopped)
  • 3 cloves garlic (minced or chopped)
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 bunch fresh basil (about ½ cup) (chopped)
  • 1-2 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Optional: toasted pine nuts, cheese (ricotta salata, goat cheese or mozzarella are all good!)


Add olive oil, eggplant, and squash/zucchini to large skillet over high heat and sauté until tender, about 8-10 minutes. Add onions and, if needed, more olive oil, and cook until onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Add peppers and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Add tomatoes, thyme, salt and pepper. Reduce heat, cover, and cook until everything is tender, about 20 minutes. Once everything has cooked down and all of the veggies are tender (but not too mushy), add fresh basil. If you want, you can serve it topped with cheese and/or pine nuts.

*I’ve used both peeled and unpeeled eggplant and it definitely tastes more bitter when you leave the skin on- so take the extra time to peel it.

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Go make this right now. Seriously. It is THAT good. 

If you have an end-of-summer abundance of tomatoes from your garden like we do (or just couldn’t control yourself at the farmer’s market) you might be thinking outside the tomato-basil-mozzarella box. I know, it’s ridiculous to think one would even have this problem, but we did. We can’t eat them fast enough and I will not let the birds have them!

That’s how I came across this recipe and am forever grateful. Fresh tomatoes are wonderful just by themselves, but I promise you’ll be happy with this dish! At first I didn’t know why it was called “scalloped” tomatoes. But then I realized it is sort of like a gratin or scalloped potatoes dish- but not as cheesy. It’s more like a tomato bake. It’s so simple- only four main ingredients- and just tastes like summer. Enjoy!

Scalloped Tomatoes

source: Smitten Kitchen adapted from Ina Garten 


  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-3 cups French bread, cut 1/2-inch diced (I included crusts)
  • 2 1/2 pounds cherry tomatoes, cut in half (or any good tomatoes will work)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (you could use less since the cherry tomatoes are already sweet)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup thinly slivered basil leaves
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese


Preheat the oven to 350°F. Heat olive oil in a large pan over medium-high. Add the bread cubes and stir, making sure they are evenly coated with oil. Toast the bread cubes, tossing frequently, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine tomatoes, garlic, sugar, salt and pepper in a large bowl. When the bread cubes are toasted, add the tomato mixture to the pan and cook them together, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in the basil. Pour into a shallow baking dish and top with Parmesan cheese. Bake 35 to 40 minutes until the top is browned and the tomatoes are bubbly.


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These cookies are so good I’ve made them twice in the past month! The first time I made them to take on a boat trip with friends (they are excellent breakfast “cookies”) and then I made them again to take to a friend’s BBQ! They are so easy and yes, “healthy,” but they taste so good you can’t tell 🙂  It’s amazing- there is no flour, butter, eggs or sugar in these cookies (as a result, they are also gluten-free) and yet they are still delicious! Trust me. I used chocolate chips in the first batch, but I didn’t have enough when I made them the second time so I divided the dough and made half with chocolate and half with raisins (and extra cinnamon). I’m not sure which I liked better so in the future I will probably just do half and half again!   

Healthy Banana Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

adapted from 101 Cookbooks


  • 3 large, ripe bananas, mashed (about 1.5 cups)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (or safflower, or coconut oil)
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 2/3 cup almond meal*
  • 1/3 cup shredded coconut (unsweetened or sweetened)
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon (I added more to the raisin cookies)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 6-7 oz. chocolate chips (or raisins)

*Almond meal is easy to make yourself-  just pulse almonds in a food processor (I used my Cuisinart Mini Prep) until it’s the texture of sand. I used blanched almond slivers (found in baking aisle) but whole almonds would work too. Almond meal is sold in stores, but it’s pretty expensive. Just make your own.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a large bowl, combine bananas, vanilla and oil. Using a fork or potato masher, mash the bananas and mix together. In a separate bowl, mix together oats, almond meal, coconut, cinnamon, salt and baking powder. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until combined. If you want to do half chocolate/half raisin cookies, now is the time to separate the batter into two bowls. Fold in the chocolate chips and/or raisins. Drop a tablespoon of dough, about an inch apart, onto parchment lined baking sheets. Bake for 13-15 minutes, until just slightly golden on top and underneath.  

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