Seared Duck Breast with Blackberry Red Wine Reduction

Monday, October 29, 2012

A disclaimer: the duck breast and sauce in this recipe was prepared by my husband who is a great cook. Now if only he did it more often. 


2 duck breasts each cut in half
Fresh thyme
1 1/2 cups of blackberries
2 tbsp butter
1 tbs oil (I used grape)
1/2 cup of minced shallots
1/2 cup cabernet sauvignon
1 tbs lemon juice
4 tbsp blackberry preserves
Salt pepper to taste
Montreal seasoning (optional)
Herbs de Provence (optional)
Dry coriander (optional)

Preparation for sauce
Puree blackberries and strain the juice. Use only the pulp. You can reserve juice for another use (yummy in a beverage of your choice).
Heat 1 tablespoon of butter in a sauce pan over medium-low heat. Add shallots and saute for 10 minutes, till tender. Add the red wine and lemon juice. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer till reduced by half. Add the blackberry pulp and preserves, mix well. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a boil once again then reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Lastly, add the remaining tablespoon of butter and stir for another minute. Makes about 1 cup of sauce.

Preparation for duck breast
Wash and pat dry duck breast. Score the fat by putting some lines diagonally across the fat. Salt and pepper both sides. Use a savory seasoning to taste if desired. 
Preheat skillet. Add 1 tablespoon of grape oil. Place duck breast, fat side down over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes. Flip the duck over. Add fresh thyme. Sear for another 7 minutes.

Serve with sides of choice and add sauce on top of the duck breast.

We served with sweet mashed potatoes and hericot verts.

You can find the recipe for sweet potatoes here: 

If you are making hericot verts:

1/2 pound of hericot verts (can substitute green beans)
1 tbsp oil (I use grape)
Salt/ pepper to taste

Wash and spin dry hericot verts, remove tails on both sides.
Preheat oil for about 2 minutes. When nice and hot, add your verts. Cook about 15-20 minutes total. We like them w a bit seared. Add salt and pepper to taste.

adapted from 

Arugula Salad w Strawberries, Blueberries, Toasted Almonds, Goat Cheese and Seared Chicken Breast


2 Chicken Breasts
1 Tbsp Low Sodium Soy Sauce
1 Tbsp Grape Oil

3 cups arugula (washed and spun dried)
1 cup of strawberries
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 red onion thinly sliced
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/2 container soft goat cheese (my favorite brand for salad is Chavrie)
2 tbsp aged balsamic
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp honey
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
1/2 cup wheat berries (optional)

To prepare the chicken breast, I use LeCreuset's Grill Pan. This is the one that I have :  Wash and dry chicken. Heat pan, add oil. Cook chicken till cooked through. About 5-7 minutes per side depending on thickness. Add a splash of soy sauce towards the end.  Cool and slice. 

For wheat berries (if using) 
Note that wheat berries are not berries but a legume which means they do need to be soaked overnight. Totally optional in the salad but do give it a nice texture.

1 cup wheat berries
2 to 2 1/2 cups of water
Note that this will make more wheatberries that you need for the salad but these are good to have on hand for other salads or make a nice hearty breakfast.

Rinse the wheat berries well with cold water. 
Place in bowl filled with cold water and let soak overnight.
Rinse and drain the water.
Place in pan with water, bring to boil.
Cover and let simmer for an 1 hr to 1 1/2 hrs till tender and chewy.

For salad:

Wash and spin dry arugula. Wash, dry and slice strawberries. Wash blueberries.
Thinly slice red onions. Combine the above ingredients in a large bowl.

For dressing, combine balsamic, lemon juice, olive oil. Mix well, add honey and dijon. Mix again. 

In a small, preheated skillet, toast almonds till light brown. About a minute per side.

Dress salad. Top with chicken, scoops of goat cheese and toasted almonds. Serve and enjoy.

Butternut Squash, Apple and Leek Soup with Fried Sage

This soup is one of our family favorites. My version is not vegetarian as I make it with chicken broth.


Butternut squash
1-2 apples (I like granny smith)
Leeks if you have
Shallots (or onions)
Chicken broth (I use Imagine Low Sodium Organic Chicken Broth)
1tbs oil, I use grape
Salt pepper to taste
Nutmeg optional
Fresh sage leaves (optional but such a nice touch)

If you are able to get your hands on peeled and cut up squash, skip this step.

Otherwise, wash and dry your squash. Using a sharp knife to piece a few holes in the squash. Place it on a paper towel. Microwave about 3 minutes and flip over. Let cool a bit. At this point, you should be able to peel it, scoop out seeds and cut into cubes. 

If you are using leeks, wash them really well. Use while part only. Peel shallots. Dice shallots and leeks. 

Wash, peel, cut apple into cubes.

In a medium pot, heat oil. Add your leeks and shallots. Cook about 5 minutes till soften. Add squash and broth. Cook on medium flame till squash begins to soften, about 20 minutes.  Add apple, cook another 10 minutes or so.

Add salt and pepper, nutmeg if using. Another option to nutmeg if you like spicy is a bit of curry powder. Using emersion blender, blend your soup.

In a small frying pan, heat some oil till nice and hot. Add sage leaves, fry till crisp. Add as topping for soup.


Stuffed Acorn Squash with Quinoa, Pinenuts and Dried Cherries

Friday, October 26, 2012


2 acorn squash
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
1/2 cup dried cherries cut in half
Pine nuts (toasted)
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 table spoons olive oil (1 for squash, 1 for dressing)
1/2 red onion diced
Salt and pepper to taste
Feta cheese (optional), I did not use it.
1 teaspoon butter (optional)

  • Direction
  • Wash and pat dry squash. Piece some 3-4 holes per squash with a sharp knife. On a paper towel, microwave squash 2 minutes, turn over and microwave 2 more minutes. At this point, the squashes should be soft enough to cut in half. Not this step is not mandatory if you are strong enough to cut the squash in half w/o it. Unfortunately,  I am not. Anyway, cut squash in half, scoop out and throw out the seeds.
  • Heat oven to 425 degrees. Brush squash with a bit of oil on both sides. Season with salt and pepper, roast face down for about 15-20 minutes till tender and caramelized. Towards the very end, add a little butter into the "cavity".
  • In the meantime, rinse quinoa. Bring 2 cups water to a boil in a small pot. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until tender and water is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Heat a pan, add cooking spray, toast quinoa about 7 minutes, turning frequently. Remove from pan, set aside to cool.
  • In the same pan, toast pine nuts, careful not to burn. 
Mix oil and red wine vinegar well. Toss quinoa w cherries, pine nuts and red onions. Add parsley and feta if you are using it.  Season w salt. Add quinoa to opening of the squash.  If you have extra quinoa, feel free to serve on the side.

This was an excellent vegetarian dinner, even meat loving husband now accepts quinoa as an adequate meat substitute.


Tarragon Veal Loin Chops with Roasted Brocolette and Roasted Yellow Squash

Thursday, October 25, 2012

We don't often eat veal but this was was surprisingly fast and delicious.


You will need:

Veal loin chops, 2 inches thick, about 7 ounces each
1 Tbsp dry tarragon
Whole wheat flour (for dredging)
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 cup chicken broth (I use Imagine Organic and Low Sodium)
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp unsalted butter.


Wash and dry veal. Season with salt, pepper and 1/2 the tarragon on both sides. Dredge in flour.
Melt butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add veal and cook about 4 minutes per side till lightly brown.
Transfer veal to plate. Add wine, lemon juice, broth and the remaining tarragon to skillet. Scrape up any brown bits. Simmer till sauce begins to thicken. About 5 minutes. Return veal to the skillet and cook another minute or so, until cooks through.


1 bunch broccolette
1 tsp oil (I use grape)

Preheat oven to 400F. Remove large stems. Toss in oil. Roast about 20 minutes. Flip over 1/2 through. Add salt to taste.

For squash:

1-2 squashes
1 tsp oil (I use grape)

Slice into circles about 1/3 inch thick. Toss in oil. Roast about 15-20 minutes. Flip over 1/2 through. Add salt to taste.


Adapted from Epicurious/Bon Appetit

Skirt Steak Mango Salad Over Arugula

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

I won't lie, this one is a collaboration with hubby as he is the steak master, posting this with his permission. And the salad is by me.

We make many variations of this salad but the steak stays constant.
Just when I though stew and soup weather was upon us, nope warm again, so the salad dinners are back.

You will need: 

Skirt steak (about 4 ounces per person)

For Steak Marinade:
2 tbsp of soy sauce (we use low sodium)
1 tsp chopped garlic
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp brown sugar
Squeeze of fresh lemon
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine above ingredients in a bowl, mix well.

Wash and dry steak. Marinade for a few hours, or even better, overnight.

Spray a broiler pan with cooking spray. Broil on high but FAR from flame  4 minutes per side. More up closer to flame and broil another 1-2 minutes per side, depending on thickness of steak and how you like your steak. This cooking time results in medium steak.

For salad (you can be creative here)

Arugula (or substitute another green), washed and spun dry
1/2 red onion thinly sliced
1/4 fennel thinly sliced
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes
1-2 cups cubed mango
1 avocado, sliced (did not use this time)
Fresh cilantro (love it but ok to omit)--washed and spun dry

For dressing
2 tbsp ponzu sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil 
Squeeze of fresh lemon

Mix all the ingredients well.
Toss to coat salad. Top salad with thinly sliced steak.

Seared Scallops w Roasted Farm Fresh Zucchini and Mashed Sweet Potatoes

Monday, October 22, 2012


  • 1 pound of Large Wild Scallops
  • Grape Oil 
  • 1-2 Zucchinis sliced into circles
  • 2-3 Sweet Potatoes
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Nutmeg (optional)
  • Aged Balsamic (optional)

Zucchini: Preheat oven to 400. Wash and dry zucchini. Slice into circles. Toss with oil in a bowl. Roast for about half hour, turn every 15 minutes. I like for the zucchini to be nice and brown. Add salt and pepper to taste. You can add a bit of aged balsamic if you wish ( I did not).

Mashed Sweet Potatoes: Wash sweet potatoes, peel with peeler. Cover in water, cook till can easily pierce with knife. Reserve some of the water the potatoes cooked in. Mash with potato masher. Add butter, can also add a bit of milk. Salt and pepper to taste. Can also add nutmeg if you wish.

Scallops: Wash scallops. Dry them REALLY well. Heat oil on a skillet for about 2 minutes till nice and hot. Add your scallops, cook about 2 minutes till the side is nice and brown, turn over and cook about another 2 minutes. Cooking time will depend on the size of the scallops. Do not overcook or they will get rubbery.

Plate and serve. This is so yummy!

Split Pea Soup with Sweet Potatoes and Bacon

Sunday, October 21, 2012


1 bag of split peas (yellow or green, I used yellow)
Bacon-- 2 slices if thick cut or 4 if thinner cut 
       *I used the organic Sunday bacon by Applegate farms, 4 slices
3 small sweet potatoes peeled and cut into 1/2 inch chunks
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup of broth-any kind you like. I usually use 
        **Imagine Free Range Low Sodium Chicken Broth
A pinch of dry thyme or 1 tsp fresh thyme
Lemon juice


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place sweet potato and bacon on a rimmed backing sheet. Roast until potatoes are golden and bacon is crisp, about 25 - 30 minutes. Toss every 15 minutes or so.

In a large saucepan, combine split peas w 6 cups of water.
Simmer uncovered until peas are very soft, about 50 minutes. 

Puree half the peas, I used an immersion blender, adding broth a little at a time till desired consistency. Add the remaining split peas. If you want a smoother soup, you can puree the whole thing. Add thyme, cook a few more minutes. 

Season w salt and pepper to taste. Add a squeeze of lemon juice if you like. 

Add to bowls, top each w sweet potato and bacon.


Adapted from a Recipe by Tyler Florence, People Magazine October 8, 2012

Beef Shank Stew with Shallots and White Beans Served with a Side of Mashed Potatoes w Roasted Garlic and Kale

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Beef Stew is a great dinner for colder days and makes for excellent leftovers. 


4 Beef Shanks
1 cup of broth (I use organic chicken broth which is low sodium)
1 cup of red wine
4 shallots
1-2 Carrots if you like
1-2 cans of white beans
A few tablespoons of flour for dredging (I use whole wheat)
2-3 tbsp of oil (I use grape)
Herbs to taste (I use Herbs De Provence)
Salt and pepper to taste

  1.  Wash and pat dry your beef. Depending on the size of the beef shanks, you may want to cut them up.
  2. Dredge beef in flour on both sides. I like to do this on a large plate.
  3. Heat up about half your oil in a pot, I use a cast iron by Le Creuset which I love.  Brown the shanks on both sides till brownish, you may have to do this 2 times if your beef does not fit. DO NOT CROWD or it may not brown properly.
  4. While the beef is browning, peel and chop shallots. Peel and cut carrots. I like to cut the carrots in relatively large pieces so that my daughter who hates carrots can easily pick them up. Keep carrots and shallots separate in bowls.
  5. Remove beef, wipe the oil residue from your pot. 
  6. Add about half the broth and half the wine.
  7. Saute shallots about 5 minutes, add the carrots and saute a few more minutes. Add the beef, remaining wine and broth. 
  8. Season with herbs of your choice, I use Herb the Provence (a mix of dry thyme, rosemary, lavender). Add salt and pepper to taste.
  9. Cover and cook on a low flame for about 2 hours. If you see there is still too much broth, uncover and increase flame a bit.
  10. NOTE if you are using white beans, you will add them towards the end, when the beef needs to cook for another 30 minutes or so. You will need to drain them and rinse them, add and stir in. They get nice and soft and taste awesome ( I personally prefer them to the beef).

 6 potatoes (small ones that are clean are best so you can leave the skin on)
4-6 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup milk (I use 1%)
Butter to taste
Salt and pepper to taste
Cooking spray (I use Spectrum Canola Oil)

Wash and clean potatoes well. If they are relatively unblemished, leave the skin on otherwise peel

Place in pot, cover in water. Cook till soft, about 20 minutes to half hour. Reserve a bit of the water.

In the meantime, roast your garlic cloves, you can leave skin on in over or toaster over for about 15 mins. Coat w PAM or another spray.

Peel and reserve soft roasted garlic.

Once potatoes are soft, mash, add garlic, butter and reserved water. Turn on small flame, slowly add warm milk ( I heat milk up a few seconds in the microwave). Stir well. 

I am loving kale lately--I think it tastes great and is the latest SUPER food!

Note that kale shrinks a lot when you are cooking w it.

1 batch of kale
Salt to taste
1 tbsp oil

Remove large stems from kale, disgard. Wash and spin dry kale.
In a large deep skillet, heat oil for about 2 minutes till it's nice and hot. 
Add kale, cook about 3 minutes per side. I leave in on each side long enough where it's a little brown. Salt to taste.

Assemble your stew, mashed potatoes and kale. Serve with a glass of Pinot Noir (optional)

NOTES: In my opinion, stew tastes even better as leftovers and my family (luckily) is happy to eat it for a few days. I usually mix it up by serving a different side dish or a different veggie. If there is not a lot of meat left, I add another protein in like frozen edamame which gives me enough dinner for another night. You can also add a can of diced tomatoes. Be creative and it will make your life easier. 

Finished product

Beef stew recipe is adapted from Real Simple Magazine as well as Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything with lots of improve by me.

Arugula salad w Orange Segments, Shaved Parmesan and Sunflower Seeds. Healthy and Tasty!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

It seems like all summer long we eat salads for dinner and the minute it gets colder, I start eating way less salad. Not good. This is one my favorites regardless of season though.


These are all pretty flexible--but I love to play around with this and I find these all go together very well.

  1. 3 cups of arugula (makes about 2 servings)
  2. 2 oranges, 1 1/2 for salad, 1/2 for dressing
  3. 1/4 cups sunflower seeds (can substitute pine nuts)
  4. 1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes
  5. 1/2 cup of thinly sliced fennel
  6. 1 ounce or so of aged parmesan cheese
  7. 1-2 tablespoons OJ
  8. 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
  9. 1/4 teaspoon of dijon mustard
  10. 1/4 of a shallot

1)  Wash and spin dry arugula. I am very anal about this as I loathe a soggy salad.
2)  Wash and dry cherry tomatoes.
3) Wash and dry fennel. Slice thinly.
4)  Peel orange, cut into circles, remove the white. Reserve 1/2 orange for dressing.
5) Heat small skillet, add sunflower seeds and toast them till light brown.
6) Shave your parmesan. I like to use a veggie peeler for this, it works very well. 

For dressing, squeeze juice from the reserved 1/2 of orange. If you have lemon, squeeze a bit of juice as well. Add the oil and mustard. If you are using shallot, finely chop and add in. Mix well.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl except orange segments, cheese and seeds. Dress salad, top w orange, cheese and seeds.


Finished Product!!!

Orange Ginger Cod w Brown Rice, Chanterelles and Roasted Brussel Spouts

This is what I made for our wedding anniversary!

  1. 3 Cod (same as sable fish) fillets 
  2. The above recipe says to remove the skin but I did not bother.
  3. 2 tbsp honey
  4. 1 tsp of good balsamic vinegar
  5. 1 tablespoon soy sauce, I used low sodium
  6. 1-2 tablespoons of orange juice ( I used fresh squeezed)
  7. 1 tablespoon orange zest (used same orange that I used for juice above)
  8. 2 tablespoons ginger (fresh if you have, that's what I used)
  9. 2 tsp oil (I used grape)
  10. Salt and pepper to taste
  11. Pam or another cooking spray ( I used canola oil by Spectrum)
1) Preheat broiler. Cover pan w foil, makes clean up much easier.

2)  Spray foil/pan with a bit of cooking spray. 

3) Wash and pat dry fish. Season w salt and pepper to taste.

4) Combine ingredients #3 through #9 in a small bowl. Lighly coat the fish--don't put too much or the fish will burn under the broiler.

5) Broil fish about 4 inches from flame till browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Pour remaining sauce on top of the fish and bake the fish at 425F till fish is flakes in the thickest part.  Don't flip the fish over, this allows the glaze to caramelize on top. 


Chanterelles are such delicious little mushrooms, if you can get your hands on them, I highly recommend them. They are tasty over rice or potatoes --you really need another side w them since they shrink so much.

1 to 2 pack of chanterelles
2 shallots
1 tablespoon grape oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger (optional)

Remove the dirty part from the stem of the chanterelles. Wash and dry them.
Peel and chop shallots. 
Preheat pan, cook shallots in oil till they begin to brown a bit, add mushrooms, cook till they shrink a lot. Salt and pepper to taste. Ground ginger (if you wish).


Brussel sprouts (as much as you think you will eat), I always make extra and reheat the leftovers the next day.
Grape oil--1 to 2 tablespoons depending on how many brussel sprouts you plan to roast.

Preheat oven to 425 F. In the meantime, peel outer layer from sprouts. Half or quarter them depending on size. In a bowl, toss w oil of choice.
Stick in the oven and turn every 15 minutes or so. Once they are brown, you can turn the oven off and I sometimes leave the sprouts there another ten minutes, this gets them even more brown and crispy which I like.


Cook to package direction, I won't bore you with this. 

I was sneaky and used microwavable rice from Fresh Direct (my savior as a busy working mom). If you are lucky and they deliver to you, check them out... 

Peach and Goat Cheese Salad

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Had lots of peaches due to miscommunication w husband. He bought some and so did I.

Decided to use them  in salad. Google to the rescue and I came across this awesome recipe from the Farm House Table which I promptly added to my Pinterest of course :)

Here is the original recipe which I followed somewhat loosely.

Here is what my final product looked like. I must say it was very good.

I used romaine instead of arugula--no arugula available at the moment.
Had sliced fennel so I added that.
Had wheatberries which I love and cooked a few days before--added a bit of those.
Had no chives, heavy cream or creme fraiche.
Used goat cheese (my fave) instead of mozarella.

My ingredients that I used:

  1. Romaine lettuce (about 2 cups per person). Washed and dried in salad spinner.
  2. 3 peaches (enough to serve 2)
  3. 1/2 red onion thinly sliced
  4. 1/2 container of goat cheese
  5. 3 table spoons of toasted pine nuts
  6. 1 table spoon honey
  7. 1 table spoon extra virgin olive oil
  8. 2 table spoons of red wine vinegar
Wash and dry peaches, cut into quarters or half. Spray pan w Pam or the like. I use canola oil spray by Spectrum. Roast at about 400 till soft. I used my toaster oven as it was too hot outside to run the oven.

Wash lettuce, dry, set aside. Add thinly sliced fennel (wash first) and thinly sliced red onions.
Add to lettuce. Add wheat berries (if you have). I cooked them according to package direction.

Whisk ingredients 6 to 8 in small bowl to  make dressing.

Toast pine nuts on skillet.

Once peaches are cooked, toss salad w dressing. Top w peaches, pine nuts and goat cheese.


Salad of warm figs w goat cheese and balsamic glaze

One of my recent creations: a salad of warm figs (in season and delish right now) w goat cheese


1)  Arugula (washed and dried, I use a salad spinner)
2)  Large figs (6-8)
3) Goat Cheese (I like the soft kind), about 2 table spoons per serving
4) 1/4 cup of pine nuts 
5) 1/4 of thinly sliced red onion (or more if you like)
6) 1 table spoon extra virgin olive oil
7) 2 tablespoon of aged balsamic
8) 1 teaspoon of berry preserves
9) Balsamic glaze for decoration

Wash and dry figs, slice in half, warm in over or toaster over on an oiled tray for about 20 minutes.
In the meantime, wash and try arugula.
Slice red onions thinly.
Heat small skilled and toast pine nuts, careful not to burn.

For dressing, mix ingredients 6-8. 
Once figs are ready, toss arugula and red onions w dressing. You don't want to leave the dressing on too long b/c arugula is delicate and gets mushy. Plate and top w pine nuts. 

Add warm figs, top w a 1/2 spoon or so of goat cheese. Top figs w balsamic glaze (store bought), if you don't have it, can use some of the dressing for this.