Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

This week in NY has been particularly cold. I know, I know, it's winter. This type of weather most definitely calls for soup, particularly tomato soup with grilled cheese. This soup came out delicious and 3/4 family members approved. Except for the one that loathes tomatoes... in any form.

Soup: (Makes 12 servings)

2 tablespoons of butter
2 small yellow onions chopped
4 cups of chicken stock
1 28 can of crushed tomatoes
3 plum tomatoes chopped
roughly chopped basil leaves (2 tablespoons divided)
1 pita bread (I used whole wheat) finely diced
3/4 cups grated parmesan cheese
1 cup milk (I used 2 %)
2-3 teaspoons of sugar to taste
Salt to taste

In a large pot, saute the onion in butter till translucent.

Add stock. Bring to boil

Add tomatoes--canned and fresh and 1/2 the basil. Return to boil. Reduce flame to a simmer, cover and cook for about 10 minutes.

Remove from heat.

Add pita and allow it to absorb liquid.

Pure using immersion blended.

Add milk and cheese. Add sugar and salt to taste.

Serve topped with additional basil.

Grilled Cheese

2 slices of sourdough per serving
2 medium thickness pieces of gruyere cheese per serving
1/2 teaspoon butter per serving

Butter bread pieces on the outside.
Place cheese in the middle.
Preheat skillet.
Fry about 3 minutes per side on a medium high flame. I like to partially cover with a heavy cover to press down.

Serve hot and cheesy with the tomato soup.

*The recipe for soup was very much Adapted from my talented friend Marina at MakeMealsMama

Instant Pot Basics

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

These are the basics that I make in my Instant Pot (IP regularly). IP and I are slow to warm up to each other.

Soft boiled eggs 
1 cup of water, 6 eggs
3 mins on manual low pressure
Quick release 
Ice bath

Unsoaked 45 mins on bean setting
2 cups chickpeas to 4-5 cups of water 
Natural release 15 than QR

Rinse quinoa
Manual 8 mins LP 1:2 ratio
NR for 10

Steel Cut Oatmeal 
1/4 cup oats, 3/4 cup liquid 
15 mins manual, pressure HIGH, NR
Pour water under rack. Use dish on top

Spaghetti squash
Manual 15 mins high pressure NR
On rack
Cup of water 

Short Grain Brown Rice
Rinse under water, drain
1:1 Ratio of Rise to Water
Manual High Pressure 22, NR

BBQ Beef Short Ribs in Instant Pot over Spaghetti Squash

A few years ago, on Amazon Prime Day, in a moment of weakness, I purchased the mysterious Instant Pot that everyone has been raving about. I unboxed it about a month later and did the boiling water test. And that it just set there for a while. And all I make in there is boring things like oatmeal and eggs and chickpeas. And while I do like it, it, for me, it has been a slow sloooooow learning curve. Saw a version of this recipe and decided to try it. It was a fast weeknight dinner and a huge hit so I figured I would share. The original recipe had both the spaghetti squash and the meat cooking in the IP but I roasted the squash in my Breville while the meat cooked.

2 shallots chopped
2 garlic cloves chopped
1 cup BBQ sauce
1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup water
2 pounds of boneless beef short ribs
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 spaghetti squash
Cooking Oil (I use grape seed oil)

Spaghetti Squash
Wash/Dry Piece a few small holes
Microwave for 2 minutes to soften
Cut in half and scoop out seeds
Roast face down for about 1/2 hour at 420, flip over face up and roast another 10-20 minutes till soft.
        *I used my Breville for this but it would be just fine in a regular oven
Scoop out the spaghetti like flash, add seasoning and keep warm.

Beef Short Ribs

Brown cut up short ribs about 2 minutes per side. I used a regular pan not IP for this.
But you can also use the IP saute feature. When cooked, add to IP. You may want to do this in batches to not crowd the meat.

Sauté 2 chopped shallots and 2 garlic cloves in a little oil. Added to IP.

Added 1 cup BBQ sauce, 1/4 cup soy sauce, quarter cup of water to IP. Used Meat/Stew setting for 30 mins. I think next time I would go 5 minutes longer. Use Natural Release (aka wait till you can open the pot). This came out quite saucy. If you would like, you can simmer it a bit to thicken the sauce. I did this in another pot on the stovetop (bc IP newbie). Taste the sauce, you may want to add a bit of sugar to it at this point if you like the sauce a bit sweeter.

Serve over the cooked warm spaghetti squash. As you may be able to see in my photo, I also added a bit of already cooked chickpeas and quinoa. Because you know, us working moms want to spread that delicious meal into 2 days.

Voila. Drop me a note and let me know how you like it.

Miso Glazed Cod (another version)

Friday, October 28, 2016

4 cod fillets, about 1 inch thick (if you are feeling fancy, black cod would be even more decadent)
1/3 cup white miso
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 table spoons of Mirin (Japanese cooking wine)
Black sesame seeds for garnish (optional)

Wash and pat dry fish fillets with paper towels.

In a bowl, combine the miso, brown sugar, sesame oil and mirin until sugar is well dissolved.
Spoon glaze on both sides and marinade for 30 mins to an hour.

Broil for 4 minutes until the top is slightly charred. Bake at 375 for an additional 10 minutes.

Top with black sesame seeds if desired.

I served this with green beans and mushroom brown rice and the family declared it a huge hit.

*adapted from Ellie Krieger's Miso Glazed Cod

Braised Beef Short Ribs

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Last weekend, I made braised beef short ribs for the first time ever and their were absolutely delicious and pretty easy to prepare. All you need is about a 1/2 hour of prep time and a few more hours for braising in the oven. I served them over potato/parsnip puree and roasted green beans.  This yielded 2 days worth of dinner, one lunch of leftovers and some delicious bones for the dog.

I quizzed my cooking group on facebook for recommendations and put this together based one of the recipes with a bit of improve on my part.


about 3 pounds of beef short ribs (mine were bone in)
1 bottle of red wine (I used cabarnet savignon)
3 shallots chopped (ok to substitute w onion)
3 leek bulbs white and light green roughly chopped
2 carrots cut into rounds
2-3 cloves of garlic, crushed
6 oz can of tomato paste
2 cups of beef stock (ok to substitute w more wine, water or stock)
a few spigs of thyme
2 bay leaves
Flour for dredging meat (I used whole wheat)
Neutral oil (I used grape seed)
Salt to taste

Preheat oven to 325.

In the meantime, in a heavy duty dutch oven, heat up a bit of oil. In the meantime, dredge short ribs in flour. When the oil is preheated, brown the short ribs on both sides, about 3 minutes a side. You may need to do this in batches, DO NOT CROWD or you will not get a proper browning.

Remove short ribs from dutch oven. Add a bit more oil if needed. 

Add shallots and leeks. Allow to brown a few minutes while scraping up meat bits from the dutch oven. 

Add carrots, bay leaves, thyme, garlic. Deglaze with red wine. Add the ribs back in. Pour stock or other additional liquid you are using. Cover well and place in oven.

Cook in the oven for about 1 hours. Add tomato paste and mix well. Cook additional 30 minutes to an hour for a total baking time for 1.5 to 2 hours. 

Remove from oven. Remove meat and use immersion blender to puree the sauce. Simmer on the stove top at a low flame to reduce a bit. Taste for salt.
Add meat back in. 

Serve over a carb of choice like potato pure or polenta. 


Roasted Maple Glazed Delicata Squash

Monday, November 2, 2015

I love all things squash,  I really do. But Delicata Squash might actually be my new favorite! It's delicious, you can eat it with the skin, it's satisfying and easier to cut in half then it's relatives. Yes, butternut and  acorn, I am talking to you!

2-3 squashes
1-2 tablespoons of oil, I use grape seed oil
1 tablespoon maple syrup (optional)
Salt to taste

Preheat oven to 425. I use my highly regarded Breville Convection Oven for this but it would do just fine in the regular oven.

To prepare, wash and dry your delicata squash. I usually made 2 or 3 as they tend to not be very large. Cut in half the long way, this should not be very difficult as the skin is not that thick.
Scoop out seeds and toss. You do not need to remove peel as the entire squash minus seeds can be consumed!

Slice into about 1/2 inch half moon slices. Place onto a baking sheet. Add a bit of oil and salt.

Roast for about 10 minutes, turn over using spatula. Add a bit more oil if  needed. Continue to roast till soft and golden brown. If using, drizzle maple syrup and roast an additional 2 minutes.
Cooking time should be about 1/2 hr in total. You may want to flip is over carefully a few times.

This makes a great side dish or a welcome addition to a fall salad.


Maple Glazed Delicata Squash

Maple Glazed Delicata Squash Served with Teriaki Black Cod

Home Made Salad Dressings

Friday, August 7, 2015

Once you go home made with the salad dressing, there is really no way to go back to the store bought bottled version! No way, no how!

Making homemade salad dressing is a quick and simple way to take your salad to another level!
Here are a few versions that are in my regular rotations. Keep in mind, the portions size here is to accommodate my family of four, so adjust accordingly.

I tend to use a ceramic bowl where I mix all the ingredients with a fork. I continue to mix the ingredients as I dress the salad.

If you have leftovers, they will keep refrigerated for 2-3 days. Don't forger to mix prior to adding to salad.

Balsamic Vinaigrette and Variations:
I have used a variation of this one here: Strawberry, Almond and Goat Cheese Salad
  • 2 Tablespoons ExtraVirgin Olive Oil
  • 3 Tablespoons Aged Balsamic
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Dijon Mustard
  • Sea Salt to Taste

If you are feeling motivated, you can also add the following:
    1/2 Small Chopped Shallots OR 1 Clove Minced Garlic
    2 Grated Strawberries OR Berry Preserves

Strawberry, Almond and Goat Cheese Salad Dressing in Balsamic 
White Balsamic and Honey Vinaigrette:
I have used a variation of this one here: Peach and Burrata Salad
  • 2 Table Spoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 Tablespoons White Balsamic Vinegar or Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 1 Teaspoon Honey
  • Sea Salt to Taste

Ponzu Sesame Dressing:
This one goes really well seafood or Asian inspired salads.
I have used a variation of this one here: Baked Lobster Tail with Spring Salad and Shrimp Mango Avocado Salad
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons of Ponzu Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon of Sesame Oil 

Shrimp, Mango, Avocado Salad Dressed in Ponzu Sesame 

Shishito peppers with lemon and sea salt

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Shishito peppers are a delicious, savory and occasionally spicy appetizer. I have had a version of these as a restaurant appetizer but never attempted at home. This was super easy and a huge hit.
Note to self, next time double the quantity (I had about 4 cups and they were gone in minutes).

Wash and dry the peppers. Heat a little olive oil till hot, about 2 minutes. Add the peppers and cook them over medium flame, tossing and turning frequently. This should take about 10 minutes.

Once done, toss with sea salt and lemon juice. 

Serve hot. The entire pepper is edible except for the little stem. You will get a spicy one about 1 in 7 or so, for the most part, these are mildly flavored.


Dijon and Panko Crusted King Salmon

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

This recipe is inspired by the salmon from Blue Apron Delivery that I received a few weeks ago. Even my husband who normally dislikes salmon approved , so I decided to recreate it at home using a nicer more luxurious fillet! Looks like a fancy and impressive meal but is ready in 20-30 minutes. 

I used wild king salmon fillets but regular salmon fillets will work just as well. Note that cooking time will vary based on thickness of the fillet.

4 salmon fillets, mine were 3/4 inch thick 
1/2 cup of panko, I used Ian's whole wheat
1/2 cup of Dijon Mustard
Salt and Pepper to taste
Oil of choice (I used grape seed)

Wash and pat dry salmon fillets. Add salt and pepper to taste on both sides.
Heat your skillet. While skillet is heating, spread dijon onto the salmon side that does not have skin.
Dip in panko, first mustard side down then the other side.

Into a hot skillet with oil, add salmon mustard/skin free side down. Cook 2-3 minutes on that side and flip over. Cook another 2-3 minutes. Since the salmon fillets I was using were thick, I finished them off in the oven for an additional 15 minutes at 350. If your fillets are thinner, you can omit this step.

I served the salmon with a side of quinoa topped with sauteed mushrooms and shallots for a tasty meal! 

Leave me a note in comments to let me know what you think.

Dijon and Panko Crusted King Salmon Fillets

Dijon and Panko Crusted Salmon with Quinoa and Mushrooms

Oat Chia Blueberry Chocolate Chip Healthy Eggless Muffins

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

I love muffins. I don't eat them but I love them. Because they are high in fat, high in calories and once I start eating them, I don't think I will stop. I will need to have one for breakfast every day!

Items in my usual boring but healthy breakfast rotation include plain plain oatmeal with brown sugar and dried apricots, Fage with added honey, hemp seeds and berries,  Breakfast Chia Pudding with Berries or Overnight Oatmeal that I learned about from the The Yummy Life Blog.

When the The Yummy Life Blog posted the recipe for the "Magic Muffins", healthy muffins I became obsessed with trying them. Let me tell you, these were a huge hit. Both kids and husband approved! I will definitely be making these again. The original recipe is here: So far, I tried blueberry to which I added chocolate chips. I will definitely be trying a variety of these and will report back. I had to modify the recipe a bit because I was not able to find some of the flour varieties (barley or brown rice) so I just used oat. No issue. These were moist and delicious. There were meant for make ahead if desired but I made all 12. For my gang, made ahead would only work if the recipe is doubled.

These have are whole grain and have no eggs or no butter. They get their moisture from the chia seeds which create a gel like substanace! Magic! 


2 cups of Whole Grain Oat Flour 
      (note Yummy Life's recipe uses 1 cup of oat flour, 1/2 cup of barley flour and 1/2 cup of brown rice flour but I could            not find these so substituted, no issues) 
2 tablespoons GROUND chia seeds
2 teaspoons baking POWDER
1/2 teaspoon baking SODA
1 teaspoon ground cinamon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup lowfat buttermilk*
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup honey (my kids thought these need to be a tiny bit sweeter, will add a bit more next time)
Fruit, nuts, etc. 

Cooking Spray (I used Trader Joe's Coconut Spray) 

*Buttermilk substitute can be created by combining 1 tablespoon of vinegar with enough low fat milk to make 1 cup total liquid and letting is sit for 10 minutes. I did not try this. But if you do, please let me know how this turns out. 

1. In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients. Mix.

2. In a medium bowl, combine all the wet ingredients. Mix.

3. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Mix to combine. Do not overmix, it's fine if mixture is a bit lumpy. You will NOT BE STIRRING again when adding mixture to your muffin tin.

4. Allow to sit on counter for 30-40 minutes. Or cover and refrigerate for up to 5 days. I did not try to refrigerate. You can double or triple the recipe. 

5. Wash your fruit or berries that you will be using. I used about 1 cup of blueberries and about 1/2 cup of dark chocolate chips.

6. Preheat oven to 350. Spray muffin tin with cooking spray.

7. Add a bit of muffin mixture, add a few blueberries and a few chocolate chips. Add more mixtures till muffin cup about 2/3 full. Add a few more blueberries and chocolate chips to each.

Assembled muffins ready to bake

8. Bake about 22-25 minutes till toothpick  inserted in center comes up clean. Mine took about 25 minutes. Allow to rest for 5 minutes before moving to cooking rack.

Baked  muffins straight from oven

Baked muffins cooling! Kids waiting impatiently!

Yesterday, per my kids request, I tried two additional varieties, raspberry chocolate chip and banana chocolate chip. Both were delicious. I cut the raspberries into halves and bananas into half circles layered same way I did blueberries.

Muffins Batch 2: Raspberry, Banana, Blueberry. All have dark chocolate chips. 

Per the original recipe, these can be cooked in microwave as individual serving.

I have not tried these.The Yummy Life suggests many varieties or you can make up your own! My girls are already begging me to make more so I will review those when I do. They each devoured 2 each for breakfast. The younger one said they need to be a bit sweeter and dipped them in berry preserves.