Cabbage Soup

This recipe is NOT related to “the cabbage soup diet,” although it’s very healthy, so if you are looking to stay slim and trim, this recipe will do the trick. Believe me when I tell you that this soup tastes incredibly delicious. When I tell people I am making cabbage soup, it usually invokes the that-doesn’t-sound-so-appealing facial expression, but those people couldn’t be more wrong!

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This soup contains few ingredients, yet it is packed with flavor. I learned how to make this recipe back in 2004 when I was a freshmen in college and my aunt & uncle would invite me over to Staten Island to their house for Sunday supper. The prospect of not having to ingest another gross meal from the college cafeteria was pretty much my version of Heaven on Earth, especially because I knew that I was going to eat an incredible meal prepared by my Aunt Elena.

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When I would arrive, all of my favorite dishes would be splayed across the table like eggplant parmesan, potatoes and eggs, vodka sauce, and cabbage soup. My aunt and uncle would encourage me to bring along whoever I wanted and Aunt Elena would make enough food to feed an army. She insisted that I take home all of the leftovers and would also send me home with a grocery bag filled with gourmet cheeses and pasta as well. I would come home and struggle to shove all of my goods into my sad little mini-fridge. My aunt’s generosity and delicious food, paired with my Super Nintendo setup, made me the most popular room to hang out with on the entire floor.

Shredded Cabbage

Back then, I was a novice in the kitchen, but I craved home cooked meals since I didn’t even have a kitchen on my floor in my college dorm. My Aunt showed me how to make her cabbage soup and it’s so easy, that even a beginner in the kitchen such as my 2004 self could handle. Aunt Elena uses only water in her version and it’s delicious, but I add some broth to mine. This is another old Italian dish that is considered to be “peasant food.” I guess I would have been a really good peasant when it came to eating because all of those recipes are my favorite!

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According to The New Whole Foods Encyclopedia by Rebecca Woods, “cabbage ranks as one of the healthiest of vegetables, with good reason. It supports chi circulation, clears heat, and tonifies the lungs, large intestine, and stomach.” Cabbage in general—but also Savoy cabbage in particular—turns out to be an especially good source of sinigrin. Sinigrin is one of the cabbage glucosinolates that has received special attention in cancer prevention research. The sinigrin in cabbage can be converted into allyl-isothiocyanate, or AITC. This isothiocyanate compound has shown unique cancer preventive properties with respect to bladder cancer, colon cancer, and prostate cancer. Cabbage also helps treat contipation, poor circulation, mental depression and irritability. It was used by the Romans as a hangover cure, so maybe plan to have yourself a bowl of cabbage soup the day after your upcoming holiday party!

 

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Cabbage Soup
Author:
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 gloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups green or savoy cabbage (about ½ head), shredded
  • ½-1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 15-ounce can white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1½ cups water
  • Black pepper, ground fresh from the mill
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • ½ cup nutritional yeast flakes (if making vegan) OR ½ cup parmesan cheese (if making vegetarian)
Instructions
  1. Detach and discard the first few outer leaves of the cabbage. Slice the remaining head of leaves into very fine shreds. If you are going to do it by hand, cut the leaves into fine shreds, slicing them off the whole head. Turn the head after you have sliced a section of it until gradually you expose the entire core, which must be discarded. If you want to use the food processor, cut the leaves off from the core in sections, discard the core and process the leaves through a shredding attachment.
  2. Put the olive oil and garlic into a large pot, and turn the heat on to medium. Cook and stir the garlic until it becomes vey pale gold colored. Then add the shredded cabbage. Turn the cabbage over 2 or 3 times to coat it well, and cook it until it is wilted, about 5-7 minutes.
  3. Add crushed red pepper, salt, pepper, white beans and water. Turn the cabbage over once completely, lower the heat to minimum, and cover the pan tightly. Cook for 50-60 minutes, or until it is very tender, turning it from time to time. If while it is cooking, the liquid in the pan should become insufficient, add 2 tablespoons water as needed. When done, add nutritional yeast or parmesan cheese and then taste and correct for salt and pepper. Add as much broth as desired. Allow it to settle a few minutes off heat before serving.

Maple Baked Beans

I am not sure if Friendsgiving is officially a word in the dictionary yet, but it should be because it’s definitely a thing. If Thanksgiving were pumpkin pie, then Friendsgiving would be pumpkin bourbon cheesecake… a bit over the top, but totally worth having. It’s a coming together of friends to feast Thanksgiving-style but without all the family mishigas (yiddish term for craziness). A friend who is very dear to me hosted Friendsgiving supper last year, which was especially sweet because most of my girlfriends from this group were transients like me, so it made us feel more like a little family when we all came together for this fairly new and trendy meal.

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I’ve been told that most Friendsgiving meals are a little more toned down than actual Thanksgiving in ways, but a setup crafted by Robin Haller is never going to be anything less than extraordinary. I posted a few pictures for some inspiration in case you ever plan on hosting a Friendsgiving. I really appreciated how she went the extra mile from renting tables and chairs to all the decorations including handwritten name cards, personalized notes with party favors, and a huge menu with clever names for all of the dishes.

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Addy was more into Friendsgiving than she may appear above…

This is my third year in a row where I was invited to a Friendsgiving meal. Usually, I try to get myself in charge of the stuffing in order to ensure that it will be vegetarian because that’s my favorite dish, but this year I am heading over to a new Friendsgiving supper in a little place called Astoria, Queens. Vik and Shalini are hosting their 2nd annual Friendsgiving meal and they have assigned me to dishes that I have never been in charge of before: string bean casserole & baked beans.

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This baked beans recipe comes in handy when I least expect. Everyone has their own T-giving traditions, but baked beans were never on the table at my family meal. The last time I made them was for a wedding, which seemed like another unusual setting to make baked beans, but it was a backyard BBQ wedding, so they ended up working out perfectly. I am sure that they will work out perfectly again when they sit next to the mac & cheese at this Friendsgiving meal and I am excited that I get to eat this dish in a few days!

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“Dem beans” has been the nickname for this recipe amongst my fellow culinary school grad friends. This dish comes from a recipe that was given to me in culinary school. The maple syrup in this recipe gives it a Thanksgiving feel, but I personally love to make my baked beans this way all year round. If you bring this dish to your Friendsgiving meal, let me know how it went over, although I can tell you now that it will not disappoint!

Baked Beans
Adapted a little from NGI recipe and a little from The Barefoot Contessa
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1½ cups navy beans, soaked, rinsed, and drained
  • ¼ cup tomato puree
  • 1 small onion, small dice
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ⅓ cup maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons mustard
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese chili paste
  • 2 tablespoons white miso, dissolved in ½ cup bean cooking liquid
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
Instructions
  1. In a medium saucepan, combine beans, onion, and bay leaf in 6 cups water. Bring to a boil, skimming foam off the top as needed. Lower heat and simmer covered, until soft, about 60-70 minutes. Drain beans, reserving ¼ cup liquid.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine maple syrup, mustard, chili paste, miso, salt and reserved cooking liquid; mix with cooked beans.
  4. Place bean mixture into a medium Dutch oven or bean pot and baked covered for 60 to 90 minutes. After 1 hour, check every 15 minutes to make sure that sauce has not dried out. Beans are ready when the sauce has thickened. If you like, you can remove the lid for the last 30 minutes to thicken the sauce. Serve hot.

 

Whole Roasted Cauliflower & Zucchini Noodles with Spicy Yogurt Marinade

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I can’t believe that I haven’t introduced one of my favorite kitchen items to my blog until right now, and for this I sincerely apologize. Ladies and gents, meet my spiralizer.

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This past spring I was running a cooking demo at William-Sonoma and this strange looking contraption caught my eye. Letting a chef loose in a lovely kitchen store is the equivalent of a kid running free in a candy shop. William-Sonoma had this spiralizer device on display (also known as a sparooli at Bed, Bath and Beyond, OR, my favorite name… the veggeti), and I knew that once I had a break in between demos, I had to try out this gadget with any leftover produce from my meals.

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The first veggie I spiralized was a sweet potato. Now, I don’t want to start sounding like an infomercial for this product, but I feel like I am obligated to let you know that it comes with SIX different blades so you can make all kinds of noodle shapes and ribbons out of your vegetables. From the first twist of the handle, I was hooked. I mean, there is NO ONE on God’s green earth who enjoys pasta more than I do, but as a carb-addict, I realize that I have to be careful when it comes to my spaghetti and rigatoni intake. This spiralizer is a great solution to my ever-loving pasta needs. I am not trying to suggest to you that the end result tastes like pasta– it doesn’t, but it is a really good replacement if you want to eat healthy veggies with your favorite kind of delicious sauce. It goes well with fresh marinara, yogurt sauce, garlic and oil… pretty much anything works and the sauces ESPECIALLY pair well with zucchini noodles.

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I have tricked served kids zucchini “pasta” and they just twirled it around there forks and ate it like it’s going out of style. I have a handful of recipes that I have made with zucchini pasta, but this one I am posting is my most unique so far because it includes a whole roasted cauliflower. First, the cauliflower poached in a wine flavored broth with a kick, then it is roasted whole, which results in a brown and crackly masterpiece.

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Whole Roasted Cauliflower
Adapted slightly from Bon Appetit Magazine. Roasted Cauliflower
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 head cauliflower, (white or purple) whole, stem trimmed and leaves removed
  • 2 ½ cups dry white wine
  • ⅓ cup olive oil plus more for serving
  • ¼ cup kosher salt
  • 3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 Tablespoon crushed red pepper flakes (or to taste)
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Coarse sea salt (for serving)
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 475° F.
  2. Bring wine, oil, salt, lemon juice, butter, red pepper flakes, sugar, bay leaf, and 8 cups water to a boil in a large pot.
  3. Carefully lower in cauliflower, reduce heat, and simmer, turning occasionally, until a knife easily inserts into center, 15 to 20 minutes.
  4. Using 2 slotted spoons or a mesh strainer or spider, transfer cauliflower to a rimmed baking sheet or roasting pan, draining well.
  5. Roast, rotating pan halfway through, until brown all over, 30 to 40 minutes.
  6. Transfer cauliflower to a plate. Drizzle with oil; sprinkle with sea salt.

 
Spicy Yogurt Marinade
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1½ cup plain yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala or Indian spice mix
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 (1-inch) piece ginger, grated
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Put yogurt, oil, garam masala, garlic, ginger, and salt and pepper into a bowl and stir to make a marinade.

Whole Roasted Cauliflower & Zucchini Pasta with Spicy Yogurt Marinade Assembly
Author:
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup pine nuts, toasted
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 small spaghetti squash, sliced in half
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 2 large zucchini, trimmed and run through the fine grates of a spiralizer
Instructions
  1. Toast pine nuts on a baking sheet at 350 degrees until golden brown. Roast spaghetti squash in oven at 475 degrees for 45 mins with 2 TBS olive oil. Once that is cooked, scoop out the spaghetti squash. In a sauté pan over medium-high heat, warm the 2 tsp olive oil. Add the spaghetti squash and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and just tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and quickly toss with the squash.
 Add the zucchini and cook, stirring occasionally, until just tender, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper.
Remove the pan from the heat and place in a serving dish. Place roasted cauliflower on top and then pour yogurt marinade over the top. Top with toasted pine nuts.

 

Cauliflower & Apple Salad

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I’ve been working on creating cold weather meals that aren’t heavy and highly caloric because, let’s be honest, I don’t want to add layers of fat AND layers of clothes during these fall and winter seasons. Hence, the birth of this hearty fall salad. Its seasonal ingredients paired with a nutty, tangy tahini dressing hits the spot for lunch or a first course at dinner.

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I am trying really hard to create recipes that are exciting to cook and also hold up well in the fridge for a few days. Living in Manhattan, it’s so easy to get any kind of cuisine at any given hour, but it isn’t easy to make healthy choices in the process.

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This recipe was inspired by a sample I had while grocery shopping at Whole Foods. I was rushing around, trying to get all of the groceries for a family that I was working for as a personal chef, running into Rachael Ray (pretty cool!), but I had to stop for a moment and take a taste when I saw this salad in a little tasting cup. I am really glad I did because with some minor tweaks, it has become a fan favorite in my apartment!

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You can add some crumbed feta to this salad if you’d like, but I keep it vegan over here in an attempt to maintain my girlish figure and not succumb to cheese at EVERY meal. Also, my vegan-ish cousin Carrie comes over for lunch often and she appreciates the lack of dairy in this dish. This recipe is very good the day it’s made, but it’s EVEN BETTER the next day.

Cauliflower & Apple Salad
Adapted from Wholefoods recipe
Author:
Recipe type: Salad
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 3 tablespoons tahini
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 Tablespoon low sodium tamari
  • 4 cups cauliflower florets, very finely chopped
  • 1 Honeycrisp apple, cored and diced ¼ inch
  • 1 15 ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • ½ cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons scallions, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons minced parsley
  • 2 tablespoons capers (optional. I do not like capers, but those who do LOVE when I add them)
  • Sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl, make dressing by combining tahini, water, lemon juice, and tamari. Wisk well to combine.
  2. In a large bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Fold in dressing. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Let salad mixture rest in fridge for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Pasta e Lenticchie (Pasta & Lentils)

Pasta and Lentils

I’m not sure if this was a dish on the original Yom Kippur table when they were breaking fast thousands of years ago, but lentils with pasta has always been on the Wolfson table that evening. We had a guest over during the occasion last month and he has been hounding me to post this recipe ever since. The best part is that he isn’t Jewish, so it wasn’t like he was fasting all day long and would’ve thought anything was delicious at that point– he was just hungry for dinner, as usual, and was blown away by this simple, yet flavorful dish.

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There was a point when my mother made this dish so much when I was a little girl that I could hardly look at lentils, so it took me a few years to get back onto the lentil bandwagon. Despite my personal protest, my mother taught me how to make this meal and I am so grateful that she did because it is now one of my favorites.

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Now that summer is a thing of the past, I am really trying to make the most of it by cooking fall/winter friendly recipes such as pasta e lenticchie. It is very easy and cheap to make while doubling as a figure-friendly dish! For my super-skinny variation, I make Lenticchie e scarola, aka lentils with escarole. I leave out the pasta and in its place add a 1/2 – to 1-pound head of escarole, chopped or shredded. This variation will have a soupier consistency.

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Lentils and pasta are a traditional pairing in Italian cooking, and most of the regions in the southern part of the boot enjoy pasta con lenticchie in some form, usually in soups. In the future, I will post a variation of this dish where the lentils are cooked with other vegetables into a sauce that served as a delicious dressing for rigatoni. It was excellent that way—this sauce seems to me even more delightful as a dressing for whole-wheat or barley pasta.

I’ve been to restaurants before where orriechetti (also known as “little ears” macaroni) is used in this dish, but in my family, we always used Capellini, also known as capelli d’angelo (angel’s hair), broken into 2- or 3- or 4-inch lengths. I prefer using this very thin pasta and I love it because it cooks so quickly. Be warned: This is not soup. It should be very thick and it is eaten with a fork.

Pasta e Lenticchie (Pasta & Lentils)
Pasta e Lenticchie (Pasta & Lentils) Author: Michele Wolfson
Author:
Ingredients
  • 3 TBS olive oil
  • 3-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 can or jar or tube of tomato paste (6 oz)
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1 bag of lentils
  • 1- 14 ounce can of tomato sauce
  • 1-2 cups water
  • 1 lb of capellini pasta, broken into 3 inch pieces or Fideo Cut Spaghetti
Instructions
  1. Heat olive oil in pot over medium heat.
  2. Add minced or pressed garlic, cook for a few minutes, but be careful not to brown.
  3. Add tomato paste, then put the stove on a on low flame. Watch carefully stirring frequently for 20 minutes.
  4. In the meantime, bring another pot of salted water to a boil for the lentils. Once it comes to a boil, add lentils and simmer for about 30 min.
  5. Add the lentils to the pot with tomato paste and stir. Add the tomato sauce and additional water to the consistency that you want, 1-2 cups.
  6. Check the salt and pepper. Add if needed.
  7. Boil salted water for pasta. I usually use capellini and break it into about 3 inch pieces, but there is a new pasta that I found out there called Fideo Cut Spaghetti that is perfect because it's already broken all up. Drain and put the pasta in a serving bowl and add enough lentil mixture to keep it from sticking together. Put some in a soup bowl and add more lentils. I keep some of the pasta and the lentils separate so that the pasta doesn't suck up all of the liquid.

Vegan Crab Cakes

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I’m about to reveal something that might come as a shock to most of you… I’ve never eaten a crab cake in my entire life. Yep, never cracked open a lobster either. In fact, I have never tasted shellfish of any kind, ever. I guess I’ve never eaten what I affectionately deem “scavenger sea creatures” because my vegetarianism began at such a young age; therefore, my parents never introduced them into my dietary repertoire. My kosher-raised father has never been a fan of consuming fish, so my mother rarely made it when I was growing up.

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Don’t give up on me though.Even if I’ve never had a crab cake, that doesn’t mean I can’t start with vegan crab cakes, right? This is a vegan appetizer that meat-eaters won’t complain about. It’s got great texture and it’s full of flavor.

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The heart of palms is what gives it the crablike texture. Heart of palms is rich in vitamin A and is a great source of fiber. It also corrects levels of blood cholesterol, which, coupled with its low caloric value, makes it is especially recommended for the dietary management of obesity and constipation.

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Who says you have to go out to a fancy vegan restaurant to eat this kind of menu item? Make them at home and all will be very impressed, which is great because they are very easy to make and a lot cheaper than shellfish!

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Vegan Crab Cakes
Adapted from The Gothamist
Author:
Cuisine: Vegan
Recipe type: Appetizer
Ingredients
  • For Crabmeat
  • 1 (14 ounce) can hearts of palm, roughly chopped
  • 1 bunch radishes, grated
  • ¼ cup celery, small diced
  • ¼ cup scallions, dliced
  • 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup vegan mayo
  • 1 teaspoon fresh dill, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons Old Bay Seasoning
  • 1 cup gluten-free or panko bread crumbs, more if desired
  • 1 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning
Instructions
  1. For crab cakes
  2. Place the grated radishes and heart of palms in cheese cloth and squeeze out the moisture (if you don't have cheese cloth, just use a clean dish towel). Place that with the celery, scallions, garlic, mayo, dill and old bay seasoning in a large bowl and mix together.
  3. Form mixture into four round patties. In a shallow bowl, combine the bread crumbs and Old Bay seasoning, stirring to mix. Coat the patties with the breadcrumb mixture and place in refrigerator for 25 minutes.
  4. Heat about 3 tablespoons oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat until hot and shimmering. Carefully place the patties in the skillet and cook until golden brown on each side, approximately 2 minutes per side. Watch closely to prevent burning. Transfer the cooked patties to a plate lined with paper towels to drain any excess oil.
  5. Serve hot, with Garlicky Dill Aoli and lemon wedges on the side.

Garlicky Dill Aoli Dipping Sauce
Mostly inspired from LAist
Author:
Cuisine: Vegan
Recipe type: Sauce
Ingredients
  • ½ cup vegan mayo
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl. Mix well and add more salt and pepper to taste. Set in the fridge to keep cool.

 

Warm Arugula Potato Salad with Tarragon Vinaigrette Dressing

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Summer has come to an end, but that doesn’t mean that potato salad season is over! You’ll see what I mean after you take a gander at this recipe. This dish, simply referred to by friends and family as “Michele’s potato salad,” was created back in 2011 in culinary school when my classmates and I had to make our final dinner for over 100 people, and I was in charge of creating the potato salad for our vegan/gluten-free Memorial Day BBQ feast.

Don’t raise your eyebrow at me. I know you’re thinking that a vegan & gluten-free BBQ sounds something akin to going to black tie affair and forgetting to wear your shoes. I am here to convince you that this three-course meal was so delicious and enjoyed by vegetarians and omnivores. Even my uncle, a Brooklyn Italian whose two favorite pastimes are hunting and eating steak, really enjoyed the meal—so that’s saying something!

When we developed the menu for this big night, I really pushed for the potato salad to be warm and our chef (teacher and mentor for this meal) really disagreed with me because he felt that potato salad should always be cold. I have to confess to you that I don’t really like cold food in general that I think is meant to be hot, such as pasta salad. Cold mushy pasta with slabs of mayo? No thanks. I felt that giving the potato salad a little change-up by making it warm seemed like a perfectly sensible idea. My classmates ended up voting to make the potato salad my way and a beautiful recipe was born.

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The dressing was inspired by a recipe that I had in my binder that an instructor from school, Jenny Matthau created. I love the way tarragon pairs with potatoes, so I thought it would be the perfect fit for this dish. While I was in the throes of playing around with this recipe, one of my dear cousins, Lauren went into labor and gave birth to her first son, Jackson, who you have probably seen eating vegetables on this very site. I went to the hospital the next day to visit her and meet the little fella and I brought her some of my potato salad since I figured she was starving after 40 hours of labor and crappy hospital food. She was eternally grateful and has loved this recipe ever since.(I wish I could locate the picture of her eating it out of the hospital container that was meant for her to use in case she felt nauseous because at that point she was ready to eat the potato salad out of anything. Classic).

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This warm arugula potato salad works for a summer picnic and a mid-winter side dish. During those cold months I’ve been adding lentils to it in order to make it feel like a complete meal and it makes a gorgeous lunch. The string beans and the very thinly sliced onions in this salad add a little crunch when you take a bite. That element, as well as the flavors, brings this dish up a notch.

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Warm Arugula Potato Salad with Tarragon Vinaigrette Dressing
Author:
Ingredients
  • Warm Potato Salad with Arugula:

  • 1.5 pounds Fingerling Potatoes
  • 4 TBS olive oil
  • Smoked Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper (to taste)
  • ½ pound string beans, chopped
  • ½ Small sweet onion, thinly sliced
  • 2.5 ounces Baby Arugula- 5 cups
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Cube fingerling potatoes. Then toss in a bowl and coat with 3 TBS of extra virgin olive oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste and toss it some more in the bowl.
  3. Place potato on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 20-25 minutes
  4. Chop string beans and then sauté with 1 TBS olive oil for 3 minutes.
  5. Remove string beans and place sliced onions in the same pan and sauté for 2-3 minutes.
  6. Remove onions from pan and mix in a bowl with arugula.
  7. Mix potatoes and string beans together in a bowl with tarragon dressing.
  8. When serving, place arugula and onions on plate and then place potato and string bean mixture on top of arugula. For leftovers, just mix it all up together.

Tarragon Vinaigrette Dressing
Inspired mostly by Jenny Matthau
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 TBS Mustard
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ white wine vinegar
  • 1 TBS fresh tarragon
  • 1 rounded tablespoon onions
  • 1 rounded teaspoons of minced garlic
  • 1½ tablespoons agave
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 TBS flax seed oil
Instructions
  1. In medium mixing bowl, combine mustard, salt, vinegar, and tarragon. Stir in shallots, garlic and honey. Slowly whisk in oils until an emulsion forms.

 

Watermelon Caprese Skewers + Watermelon Lemon-Thyme Martinis

It’s no secret that summer is my favorite time of year. As a native northeasterner, I relish the days of bright dresses, strappy sandals, and sun-kissed skin. It also means prime time season for watermelon.

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Watermelon is delicious in all forms. Whether it be all by itself, in a salad, on a skewer, and of course in a boozy summer cocktail. I made these watermelon caprese skewers pictured above for a wedding I catered this July… and they were definitely a hit! This eye-catching  simple recipe was a fan favorite by both the kids and adults who attended.

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When the bride, Patti, asked me to be her caterer for her special day, I knew that this little appetizer would be a big hit. They are so adorable and delicious. And now I’m convinced there’s something special about this treat because right after I made them this past weekend, my boyfriend proposed to me at my childhood summer home- my favorite spot in the world.

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Want to know the best part about these skewers, besides the fact that they may have convinced my fiancée to propose? There is no cooking and little to no cleanup required! If that doesn’t sell you on this recipe, then I don’t know what will. These kabobs look good even when you use toothpicks in place of mini skewers—they are that easy. If you can’t find unseasoned little balls of mozzarella, cubed feta works great as a replacement!

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After I take a melon baller to the watermelon for these skewers, I have a fair amount of fruit chunks left over. But as the saying goes, when life gives your watermelon, make a watermelon martini! Does life say that? Well if not, it should. I made a batch of Watermelon Lemon-Thyme Martinis and they went down in a flash. It’s the perfect summer evening cocktail to end the perfect summer day.

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engaged with watermelon martini

 

Watermelon Caprese Skewers + Watermelon Lemon-Thyme Martinis
Watermelon Caprese Skewers With Fig Balsamic Vinegar
Author:
Recipe type: Appetizer
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Ingredients
  • 1 large watermelon
  • 16 oz of Ciliegine or ‘Cherry Size’ Fresh Mozzarella
  • 10 leaves of basil
  • ¼ cup aged balsamic vinegar
Instructions
  1. Cut the watermelon in half.
  2. Make as many balls as you can out of your watermelon.
  3. Slice the basil leaves into thin strips and throw away the thick vein that runs down the middle. Skewer one watermelon ball, one piece of mozzarella, and then another watermelon ball on each skewer, drape with a basil slice.
  4. Drizzle the fig balsamic over the skewers.

   
Watermelon Caprese Skewers + Watermelon Lemon-Thyme Martinis
Author:
Recipe type: Drinks
Ingredients
  • 4 cups watermelon chunks
  • 1¼ cups vodka
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 10 mint leaves
  • 1 tablespoon thyme, chopped
Instructions
  1. In a blender combine the watermelon, vodka, lemon juice, mint and thyme and blend until smooth. Pour into 8 frozen martini glasses and garnish with either a lemon twist or a thyme sprig.

Black-Eyed Pea Rainbow Salad

Have a potluck party coming up this weekend and you’re not sure what to make? I have the answer. I didn’t know that a bean salad could be so appealing to the masses until I made this recipe for a BBQ one 4th of July and it was a major hit.

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Let’s talk about beans. I loooooooove beans. I try to add them into my meals on the daily because they are chock full of all things good. It’s actually amazing how something so tiny can be so full of nutrition and flavor. Also, beans can be added into so many dishes as well as pureed. Ohhhh pureed beans… Now we’re talking. But this time, we are eating them whole and we are actually eating black-eyed peas. After trying this recipe, you will see why Fergie wanted to be in a band named after this delicious legume.

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If you’ve never eaten black-eyed peas before, you are in for a treat. They are pale-colored with a prominent black spot and are very low in calories while being high in fiber. Each serving has 16% of your daily fiber 70 calories, to be exact! I usually eat this salad by itself but sometimes I put in on toasted bread and make it into a bruschetta or I could even make it a dip and have it with some tortilla chips. It is such a good way to get kids to eat their beans and vegetables.

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My favorite way to eat this recipe is to pair it with a frozen margarita. The perks of a hot summer day! 🙂

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(Right after I made this salad for a Kitchensurfing photo shoot. Look how happy dem beans make me!)

You can make different variations of this recipe all year long. During the winter, I add stewed tomatoes and sautéed spinach instead of avocado. In the South, eating black-eyed peas on New Years Day is thought to bring prosperity into the New Year, so please enjoy this dish 365 of the year.

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Okay, I am going to go make some now because I just got a serious craving after writing all of this up and my cousin wants to have a picnic on the water by the South Street Seaport, so I leave you now with red wine + Black-Eyed Pea Rainbow Salad in-tow. (I don’t have the margarita ingredients, and besides, she has to go back to work not totally hammered!) Don’t be too jealous.

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The picnic happened and Carrie gave this recipe (and the wine) a big stamp of approval!

Black-Eyed Pea Rainbow Salad
Black-Eyed Pea Rainbow Salad
Author:
Recipe type: Beans & Legumes
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Ingredients
  • 2 14–oz. cans black–eyed peas, rinsed and drained
  • ½ green bell pepper, chopped
  • ½ red bell pepper, chopped
  • ½ red onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 avocado, cubed (1 cup)
  • 2 Tbs. lemon juice
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • 3 Tbs. red wine vinegar
  • ⅛ tsp. cayenne
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 4 Tbs. vegan Szechuan sauce
  • ½ tsp. agave
Instructions
  1. Toss together black-eyed peas, bell pepper, onion and garlic in large bowl.
  2. Toss avocado with lemon juice in separate bowl. Add avocado to black-eyed pea mixture.
  3. Whisk together oil, vinegar, cayenne, salt, Szechuan sauce, and agave in bowl used for avocado. Add black-eyed pea mixture, and toss to mix.

Tips on How to Get Your Kids to Eat Their Vegetables

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Meet my new sous chef, Jackson. He is three years old and he LOVES spending time in the garden picking vegetables, and then helping prepare dinner in the kitchen. I’m not kidding when I tell you that he actually enjoys eating chard and cabbage leaves right there in the garden. Jackson is my cousin and we both have a mutual adoration for homegrown veggies.

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My family owns property in Goshen, NY that was purchased in 1942 and there are 11 houses with about 80 acres of land. The houses are all family owned and we rent out a few of them to maintain the upkeep. It’s called Kindred Farm and it’s my favorite place in the entire world. Jackson has a house on the property as well, so we get to have a lot of quality time together when we are both spending the weekend in the country.

He is a shining example of what a garden can do for a kid’s diet. Jackson also happens to have parents who know a thing or two about healthy eating. They have been teaching him how to make healthy choices before he could even talk. They encourage him to try a new food before deciding that he doesn’t like it, and he does not get dessert until he eats all of his dinner first. Jackson may like to pick broccoli more than he likes to eat it, but he still tries it when it’s in his meal and the kid loves basil and radishes, so I’d say he’s off to a good start.

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As a private chef, many of the families that I work for ask me how to get their kids into healthy eating habits. I have worked with kids who started off hating to eat anything green, but little by little they grow to eat produce that they never thought they could possibly enjoy, like spinach, kale, and chard. It’s a process, but it works. I know that it’s a struggle that many parents deal with. I figured I would share my tips on how to get kids to eat produce since I get requests all the time to “HELP GET MY KID TO EAT THEIR VEGETABLES!”

1. Get your kids involved: It’s often stressful to cook, even without a little kid running around your kitchen, so adding a child to the mix can be daunting. Don’t let it be. Getting kids involved in the process of making a meal gets them really excited to eat what they’ve created in the kitchen.

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2. Garden with your kids: If you live in a place where having a garden is impossible, grow some produce and herbs on your windowsill and give your kids responsibilities involving watering, caring, and picking your plants. Knowing where their veggies came from and getting them exciting about “their own vegetables” is especially important for children: growing up with a taste for plant-based foods gives kids an advantage they will carry with them for life. Research says that it takes an average of ten to twelve attempts before children will try a new food, unless they are involved in cooking and gardening projects like Alice Waters’s Edible Schoolyard or after school summer programs. Learning about food and cooking in an active way helps breed a sense of culinary adventure.

IMG_6403                   My mother gardening back in the ’80’s. What a a good role model!

3. Lead by example: Kids are smart and they are not going to eat their broccoli if mom or dad look at the calciferous vegetable sideways. Phobias or dislikes that parents have are often something that kids copy, which is a problem if you are afraid of eating vegetables, but if that’s the case, don’t expect your kids to be vegetable lovers. Parents are usually the source for kids bad eating behaviors, so practice what you preach!

4. Try different cuisines: Many people balk at unfamiliar foods, and children in particular spurn new tastes and textures. Still, plenty of healthy and delicious foods—— bean burritos and guacamole for lunch; spaghetti or lasagna with a robust tomato sauce for dinner——are popular with just about everyone and a great way to get protein and veggies into your kid’s diet. Mexican, Italian, Asian, Middle Eastern and even Indian food have proven to major hits with my clients’ kids.

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Made this bok choy stir fry for my client’s kids and they LOVE bok choy now!

5. Fib… but only a little: When I feed picky children, do I always advertise that their shepherds pie is loaded with kale, spinach, carrots, onions and garlic? No. Sometimes kids think they hate something or are afraid to try greens before they even give it a chance, leaving parents very frustrated. When a kid is fussy, I just sneak some healthy veggies into their food like quesadillas, pies, soups, pasta sauces, and they just chow down, licking their fingers, having no clue that they have just eaten every vegetables that they swore off. With that being said, I am completely against lying to a child about what they are eating if they are morally opposed to something like meats, fish, and dairy… you should be as well.

6. Don’t be a short-order cook: Many parents come to me emotionally fried because they are making three meals every night and no one is satisfied. Kids don’t warm up to new things right away, and if you keep giving them the old standbys they’re not going to branch out and explore new foods. Be patient. Make the same dinner for everyone in the family while making sure to put some foods on the plate that your children like — then add something new. Reward them in the end for eating something new and healthy. Just keep trying.

I want to know: How do you get picky kids to eat their veggies? Share your answer below and see what others have to say.

Tofu Frittatas with Onion and Tomato
Here is one of many kid-friendly recipes I make regularly. Based on Vegetariantimes.com Serves 8
Author:
Recipe type: Entree
Ingredients
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, diced (¾ cup)
  • 2 small carrots, diced (1 cup)
  • 5 green onions, chopped (¾ cup)
  • 1 small zucchini, diced (¾ cup)
  • 1 12-oz. pkg. extra-firm tofu, drained
  • 6 oz. soy chorizo, such as Soyrizo, crumbled
  • 3 Tbs. tamari sauce
  • ¼ cup frozen corn kernels
  • 6 plum tomatoes, sliced
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Coat 10-inch casserole dish or 24-cup mini-muffin tin with cooking spray.
  2. Heat oil in skillet over medium heat. Sauté red onion 3 to 4 minutes, or until soft. Add carrots, green onions, and zucchini, and sauté 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, and cook 3 minutes more, or until vegetables are crisp-tender. Remove from heat.
  3. Purée tofu, soyrizo, and tamari sauce 2 minutes in food processor, or until smooth and thick. Stir tofu mixture into vegetable mixture, mix in corn and spoon into prepared muffin tin. Arrange tomato slices on top of frittata. Bake 25 to 30 minutes for mini frittatas, or until top is firm to the touch. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

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