Easy Israeli Salad

This salad is so delicious and fresh and works so well with grilled chicken, fish or really any protein.

I just love it for lunch or dinner and it’s so easy that anyone can do it. Add in feta cheese, olives, or canned chick peas to add to this wonderful deliciousness.

Whatever and whenever you decide to serve this it will be most wonderful.

Just a word about making ahead… I chopped and diced all the vegetables and put in a bowl and put in the fridge. I juiced my lemon and had it set aside. Right before serving I added olive oil and lemon juice stirred it up well and tasted for salt and pepper.

If you add oil and lemon juice too soon it will be very soggy and I don’t like it that way at all. So just have it all ready to serve and add dressing right before.

Ingredients;

this is what I used feel free to substitute or add in whatever you’d like. ( Canned Chick Peas are also delicious in this) Olives, Scallions, Feta Cheese, whatever you feel like.

1 Large Seedless Cucumber or remove the seeds from a seeded one or just keep the seeds if you don’t care

1 box grape tomatoes halved

1 yellow pepper, diced or an orange one. I used orange and yellow about 1/2 and 1/2

1/2 cup diced red onion

2 Tbsp. Fresh Parsley , chopped

2-3 Tablespoons Olive Oil– I used 3 but you can start with 2 add the salt and pepper and add for more flavor after

3 Tablespoons Lemon Juice

Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Directions:

In a large bowl, toss together all the vegetables. Add the lemon juice, olive oil and chopped parsley and mix thoroughly to coat.

Season with Salt and Pepper to your liking. Serve cold or at room temperature. I like it cold but it’s delicious either way.

Clams and Spaghetti–White Sauce

I made this recipe for the first time back in 2014 and highly recommend it for a quick and delicious meal.IMG_6286IMG_6287 (2)IMG_6283 (2)It is super easy and not intimidating at all. I got the recipe from Jessica’s Seinfeld’s book The Can’t Cookbook .

http://www.doitdelicious.com this is Jessica Seinfeld’s site or you can just buy the book “The Can’t Cookbook”.

Ingredients:

2 dozen littleneck clams

3 cloves garlic

app. 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1 cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon blanc. I actually used what I had open which was a Pinot Grigio

1 box spaghetti, you can use any kind of spaghetti you like. I actually had bucatini style in the house so that’s what I used

3 Tbsp. Olive Oil

*if you’d like a little heat and you should know your audience because mine didn’t so I put on table for those who wanted to add heat. If you are adding add app. 1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper

Kosher Salt , to taste. I have to say I added almost no extra salt at all.

You’ll need a large deep pot to cook clams in. I used my Le Creuset Pot.

Directions:

I placed my clams in a colander and I put the colander in a larger bowl in the sink and I filled the bowl with cold water. I let the clams soak for a few minutes, then rubbed with my fingers to dislodge any dirt; then drained the clams. Throw away any clams that remain open or were smashed. ( my clams were pretty clean) I purchased them clean from Whole Foods. Any Fish Store will clean them for you, but always run them through this process to remove any residual sand, etc.

Smash the garlic and chop it . Chop the Parsley. Measure the Wine. Place all your ingredients near to the stove.

Cook Pasta according to directions on box.

Place a large pot on the stove and turn the heat to medium. Pour in 2 Tbsp. of Olive Oil until it heats up and shimmers ( a few minutes) Add chopped garlic to the pot, and cook , stirring , for at least a minute, until you can actually smell the garlic breaking down. Don’t Burn!!!! Now add the wine and the clams and cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and you’ll want a fairly high flame, probably medium-high . Cook clams until they open, I probably cooked for about 10 – 12 minutes. Looked so beautiful! Add the parsley and the red pepper now if you’re using. Throw away any unopened clams, they are no good.

Once pasta is al dente and drained I transferred to a large serving bowl and added 1 Tbsp. of Olive Oil to pasta, top with clams. Sprinkle if you’d like a tiny bit of coarse salt now if you feel it needs it. I did not need to add any additional salt or pepper. Adjust to your taste.

Amazing!!!! and did I mention Super Easy!!!!!

Springtime in a Bowl – Shrimp, Asparagus and Tomato Pasta

Since it is really Spring it just makes you want to lighten up the menu a bit and my mind immediately goes to asparagus!  This recipe is a variation on my Summertime Tomato Pasta. I wanted to use some of those beautiful asparagus out there. Even though I knew Joel would pick them out , I still made this dish. The asparagus are large enough for him to easily pick out and put on my plate. This dish is light and delicious and pretty quick to prepare. It is like springtime in a bowl!  There are so very many things to do with asparagus but this just appealed to me  and if you leave the shrimp out you have a lovely vegetarian pasta dish and if you leave the pasta out you have a super light dish!  I used the shrimp.  I also used linguine in this recipe because it just seems to hold on to the flavors nicely. Happy Spring and Enjoy.

Ingredients:

1 lb. box linguine ( I used Fini Linguine , it was lighter than regular linguine and was just perfect)

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

2 pint size containers of little grape tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, or any small tomato ( app. 16-20 oz. of tomatoes)  I cut tomatoes in 1/2.

kosher salt

freshly ground black pepper

* crushed red pepper ( we like the heat) use your own discretion depending on how you like it, totally optional

3 large cloves of garlic, chopped finely

1/2 cup dry white wine ( I use whatever I have open)

1 lb. Asparagus , trimmed, stalks cut on a diagonal into app. 1 1/2 inch pieces

1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined

fresh basil chopped ( app. 1/2 cup)

1 teaspoon dried oregano

Directions:

Cook the pasta according to box directions.( Fini Linguine cooks in 6 minutes perfectly)

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the tomatoes, app.  1/4 teaspoon kosher salt and app. 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tomatoes are soft , it takes at least 5 minutes . You want the tomatoes to start to burst so they make a delicious sauce.  Add the crushed red pepper and garlic. Cook for another few minutes ( don’t burn the garlic)keep on low heat and stir around. Add the wine and the asparagus. Bring to a low boil and simmer for at least 5 minutes . Taste for Salt and Pepper, if it needs more this is when I would add it, and I did. I added a bit more salt here, pepper was fine. You need to use your own discretion about the salt .

Sprinkle shrimp in a bowl with a little salt and pepper. Add the shrimp to the pan and continue to simmer until the shrimp is cooked through, about 10 minutes. Shrimp needs to be firm to the touch, and opaque if cut into. Stir in the chopped basil and the oregano.

Pour the sauce over the pasta and toss well to combine.  You can always add more crushed red pepper when finished.

This was really delicious and light. Joel of course picked out every piece of asparagus, and put them in my bowl. That was fine with me because I love asparagus.

*this dish will easily serve 4, if you like you can always add another 1/2 lb. of shrimp for 4 people.

Blueberry Banana Bundt Cake

I had rotten bananas and I had some blueberries and I had all the other ingredients for this delicious bundt cake in the house. It took about 20 minutes to prep and another 50 minutes in the oven and it’s going into the freezer for another time and place. I cut into it to taste it and will cut it into 4 sections and freeze it for when we come back this summer to Colorado. It freezes so well and the bananas were going in the garbage so there you have it –snacking cake for another time. You can freeze this cake up to 3 months, but make sure you wrap it up carefully and mark the date you freeze it on the bag. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon fine salt (table salt)

1/2 cup butter unsalted and softened

3/4 cup sugar

3 large eggs — room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

4 bananas mashed– very ripe black bananas

1 cup blueberries — rinsed and dried

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. I spray a Bundt Pan with Bakers Aid Spray– you can use other sprays but I prefer this one for baking

In a large bowl combine the flour, baking soda and salt with a wire whisk. Set it aside

Cream Butter and Sugar in an Electric Mixer. Add eggs one at a time and the vanilla. Beat until well combined

Add the flour Mixture to the bowl and Combine until just mixed. Fold in the Blueberries and Bananas with a spatula

Pour the batter into the sprayed Bundt Pan

Bake for 50 minutes. Check with a cake tester or toothpick till it comes out clean.

Enjoy!!

Sheet Pan Shrimp with Asparagus and Potatoes

IMG_4193

This dinner was just delicious.  I used under 8 size shrimp. What this means is that there were about 8 to a pound , so rather large and the cooking times were perfect for them. You will probably have to adjust your cooking time depending on the size of your shrimp. Obviously the larger shrimp took a little longer to cook. Timing will vary depending on your oven and the size of the shrimp you use.  The potatoes and asparagus times will remain pretty much the same. I just love cooking on one sheet in the oven! This recipe is a keeper and one I will re-visit often and maybe use different veggies, since I am the only one who ate the asparagus anyway.

Ingredients:

1 pound large shrimp ( anywhere from 8 – 16 count) is perfect – thawed, peeled and de-veined and leave the tails on

Extra – Virgin Olive Oil

3 cloves of garlic-minced

1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes if you hate the spice you can omit it

2 Lemons, 1 for zest and juice of, the other 1 thinly sliced

1 lb. Asparagus-trimmed

1 lb. Fingerling Potatoes–halved lengthwise

Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper–read directions for amounts

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Spray a large rimmed baking sheet for easy clean up

Place the shrimp in a large mixing bowl and drizzle with 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil . Add in minced garlic and crushed red pepper flakes. Stir to coat and set aside.

In another mixing bowl , toss the sliced potatoes with 1 Tbsp. Olive Oil. Season generously with Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper. Transfer Potatoes to the baking sheet in a single layer. Roast potatoes for anywhere between 20 and 30 minutes, or until they are almost tender.

While potatoes are roasting, toss asparagus with 1/2 Tbsp.of Olive Oil and season with Salt and Pepper,  Set aside

Now add 1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice to bowl of shrimp and toss to coat. Season Shrimp pretty generously with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

After 20 minutes or so remove potatoes from the oven and add asparagus and lemon slices to baking sheet. Continue to roast potatoes and asparagus for another 10 minutes,  potatoes should be tender by now , pierce a potatoe with a fork to check for tenderness. If potatoes still need time you can leave them in for a few more minutes. Using a slotted spoon add shrimp to baking sheet and put back in the oven. Roast for another 10 minutes or until shrimp are pink-opaque and firm to touch. My shrimp took about 12 more minutes, this time will depend on your shrimp. I checked after 5 minutes and using tongs turned them over and continued cooking for another 7 more minutes.

When I removed from oven I sprinkled with lemon zest. Perfection on a plate!

*one added tip– after my shrimp is peeled and de-veined and before I am about to cook I always wrap my shrimp in some paper towels to dry them off. It helps with the oil and spices sticking to shrimp.

Lemon Orzo with Feta

I love this recipe from Ina Garten’s Modern Comfort Food Book.

This is a delicious side dish for Chicken , fish ,and meat. I particularly like it with Roast Chicken. In the photo I posted here I served it with onion crusted chicken, oven roasted string beans, and homemade cranberry sauce. It was sort of perfect.

Get a good block of Feta or buy the crumbled one . I diced up a block of Greek Feta Cheese and it was just perfect but a nice crumbled one would work equally as well.

If you compare my recipe to Ina Garten’s original recipe you’ll notice I have omitted the salt, it was too salty for me. I tasted for Salt and Pepper when finished and added a little bit to the orzo when I cooked it. Everyone has a different palate for Salt so my suggestion is to taste at the end and add then, this recipe is easy to add at the end. Same goes for pepper just add to your own taste. Feta was plenty salty.

Simple to make and Delicious to eat .

Enjoy!

Ingredients:

1 cup Orzo

2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

2 Tablespoons Freshly squeezed Lemon Juice

2 Tablespoons good Olive Oil

1 Tablespoon minced fresh dill

1 cup small diced Feta ( try a good greek Feta ) or crumbled Feta Cheese

*kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste– see note above

Directions:

In a large saucepan , bring 2 quarts of water to a boil, and cook the orzo according to package directions al dente.

Once orzo is cooked and drained transfer to a bowl and stir in the lemon zest, lemon juice, olive oil , dill, fold in the feta and taste for salt and pepper. I added no salt but about 1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper. This is up to you . Serve hot or at room temperature .

Matzo Brei

This is a delicious way to make a meal with eggs and matzo. Sometimes we eat it for dinner and it’s just sort of perfect. Real comfort food for us.  I always loved Matzo Brei since I was a little girl, and I always wondered why it is that we only eat this delicious concoction during Passover.  It’s such a delicious treat why don’t we eat it more often? In our house we usually eat it till the matzo runs out. Usually for the week of Passover, then we stop. It’s so good. Everyone has their own little special spin on it.  Before I met Joel I always ate my matzo brei sweet with maple syrup sort of a matzo french toast. Joel loves it crispy and salty with a lot of pepper and since I know him he always asks for it this way , I sort of grew to love it this way as well. What’s not to love?  You definitely don’t have to be Jewish to love Matzo Brei. This is how we make it around our house.

Ingredients:

*serves 2 just barely (can and should be doubled)

3 Sheets of Matzo broken into little pieces

2 Large Eggs

Salt and Pepper

2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil to cover bottom of pan — but usually 2 Tablespoons is about right

Directions:

Break the matzo into little pieces and place in a bowl. Cover with very hot water from tap. Let it stand for a couple of minutes, and then drain it. ( I usually put a plate over bowl and pour out all the water) Beat Eggs in another bowl, season with salt and pepper. Use your own discretion here, Joel likes it with a lot of salt and pepper. Wait a few minutes so matzo isn’t very hot before adding the eggs then combine the eggs with the drained Matzo till a batter forms. Heat the vegetable oil in a large frying pan over medium -high heat — make sure oil is very hot . I carefully  add the matzo mixture to the hot oil  and start to fry it up scrambling it as I go, we like it in little pieces. ( you can make this batter into small pancakes as well and just fry up until golden brown) I cook it till it is all fryed up and crispy. It should cook up pretty quickly if the oil is hot enough. You can serve it with less salt and pepper and put jam on the side, maple syrup on it, cinnamon , whatever you like! Matzo Brei is awesome even when you feel like you can’t face another piece of matzo.

Old School Meatballs (sweet and sour)

       These meatballs are “old school” but still hold up.  If you’re looking for an easy addition to your menu this could be it.  L’Shana Tova from our house to yours. Enjoy! I cooked these last night and they cook up very fast and since the rules have changed dietary wise you can serve over rice if you’re observing Passover. If not use the bread crumbs. See notes at the bottom for adding raisins . I like to make these the week of Passover while we’re observing and not eating bread.

Sweet and Sour MBalls with Turkey

I have been making this recipe since I got married in 1975. It is really a perfect recipe for holidays or any time. You can use these meatballs with rice or anything like that. They are good for a big crowd when you have poultry and want another main. A lot of you are probably very familiar with this one and have different versions of it. Believe it or not, I still have the very original recipe. I’ve made a few changes to it: I now add my own bread crumbs, which I always make from whole wheat bread but feel free to use store-bought seasoned bread crumbs; If you want you can make these for* Passover by substituting matzo meal for bread crumbs.  I also grate in a little onion (spanish); and my mother taught me to grate in a little potato so I always do that, as well. Now and then I’ll use turkey in this recipe too. Otherwise, this is  the original and it’s super easy. I  used turkey this time out, and they came out perfectly.

INGREDIENTS: (This is for one pound but you can definitely double and these freeze beautifully.)

1 lb. ground beef (Whatever kind you like. I sometimes use ground turkey. In 1975, we all ate beef, but today you might want to use ground turkey or ground chicken.

1 egg (room temp. works best)

1/4 cup bread crumbs (if you’re using from the can) I use 3 slices of whole wheat bread crusts removed. (when I doubled I used 5 slices and it was enough)

*For Passover – omit the bread crumbs and replace with matzo meal

Kosher Salt,  app. 1 teaspoon

Freshly ground black pepper to taste (1/4 teaspoon)

1 clove garlic, minced (the original calls for garlic powder but I’ve changed this as well. If you prefer, try 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon)

1/8 cup warm water (just to moisten it) when you double just add up to 1/4 , I don’t usually use the whole 1/4 cup.

1/4 spanish onion, grated

1/4 potato, grated

1 bottle (12 oz.) Heinz chili sauce

6 oz. grape jelly

Directions:

Mix meat, egg, bread crumbs, salt, pepper, garlic, and water all together. I then grate in the onion and potato too. Next, shape into small balls about 3/4 inches in diameter. Heat the chili sauce and grape jelly until they blend and bring to a low boil. Then drop the raw meatballs into the sauce and simmer, covered, for approx. 45 minutes and don’t touch the meatballs till they actually are cooked , this will give them a chance . I use a sauce pan if only making 1 lb. and I just pile the meatballs in and after 45 minutes I gently stir them.  Again, these can be made ahead and frozen. They are quick, easy, and so good. The larger the pot the more balls you’re able to get in, so a large dutch oven works out best for this.

* serves about 8 – 10

*you can also throw in some raisins if you’d like but throw them in when you put the meatballs in so they cook and plump up. Probably a 1/4 cup per 1 lb. should be fine

Traditional Ashkenazi Charoset–Apple/Walnut

DSCN2703This is my easiest Charoset and maybe this year we just have a little bit of this on the table for tradition sake.  It’s traditional in the sense that it’s an Ashkenazi (Eastern European) recipe. I add a little brown sugar instead of white sugar and it gives it just a bit more character. Remember, while a reminder of the mortar used in making bricks for Pharaoh, charoset is really just a sweet condiment of apples and wine!

Have a Sweet Passover !

Ingredients:

3 medium Fuji apples (or any other kind you like), peeled, cored and finely diced (use processor to make your life simpler) I usually use whatever is in the house, but on Passover I go through so many apples, so buy what you like (I always like Granny Smith because they are nice and tart)

1 1/2 cups walnuts, chopped (buy them pre-chopped)

1/2 cup sweet red wine such as Manischewitz Extra Heavy Malaga or just Concord Grape is fine

*20 pitted dates, chopped; or 1/2 cup golden raisins (optional)

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon packed brown sugar

*for a bit of extra added flavor you can add 1/2 teaspoon of powdered ginger (optional)

Directions:

After chopping apples, stir all ingredients in a large bowl. Keep in refrigerator ’til ready to serve. Serve at room temperature. You can also pulse everything together in processor, just be very careful not to over-process. I often do this to save time. You don’t want it too fine, so just go gently with the processor if you go that route. I do it in the processor, and I know exactly how I like it to come out, so go easy with the chopping.  If it’s a little dry or too thick, you can always add more wine. I find this always tastes better after it sits and allows the wine  to really soak and ripen for 24 hours. Before serving, check for consistency and add a little more wine, if necessary.

Chicken Marbella–perfect for Passover

This recipe is my “go to” chicken. I’ve made it almost every Passover since I found it. The original recipe is from the”Silver Palate” cookbook. It was many winters ago that I first had it at my friend Susan’s house for the first time.  It has been a staple on my holiday table ever since. Not to say that it is not a recipe for every other day of the year and week, because it’s perfect for anytime.

Enjoy!

*The key to this recipe is the overnight marination, which is essential to the moistness of the chicken.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup red wine vinegar

1 cup pitted prunes

1/2 cup pitted Spanish green olives (no pimentos)( if you can’t find, just pick out pimentos)

1/2 cup capers with a bit of juice

6 bay leaves

1 head of garlic, peeled and finely pureed(chopped well)

1/4 cup dried oregano

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste (I start with 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and a few grinds of black pepper.)

4 chickens, cut into eighths (original recipe calls for chickens to be quartered but I find that you get more per person if you do it in eighths.) the chickens are about 2 1/2 lbs. apiece , so it’s about 10 lbs. of chicken . Sometimes I ask the butcher to cut the breasts in 1/2, if they are very large.

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup dry white wine

1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley (finely chopped)

Directions:

Combine the olive oil, vinegar, prunes, olives, capers and their juice, bay leaves, garlic, oregano, and salt and pepper. ( You can combine in a large bowl, but I use a large Ziploc bag.) Add the chicken, then stir or mix around to coat well. Refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Take a large shallow baking pan (you may need 2), arrange the chicken in a single layer and spoon the marinade over it evenly. Then sprinkle the chicken pieces with the brown sugar and pour the white wine around them.

Bake, basting frequently with the pan juices until the thigh pieces yield a clear yellow juice (don’t want it pink). It takes anywhere between 50 to 60 minutes to cook. (Test thigh with a fork.)

When you are ready to serve, transfer the chicken with a slotted spoon to serving platter. Moisten with some of the pan juices and sprinkle generously with the parsley. You can pass the remaining juices in a gravy boat.

*should serve 10 or more–If I am having a small gathering I cut this recipe in 1/2

* this chicken is delicious cold or at room temperature. If you make ahead and it is in fridge, just remove from fridge, reheat it in the juices, then allow to come to room temperature.