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April 2011

Quick Easy Balsamic Glazed Seared Salmon

Balsamic Maple Glazed Salmon
Quick Easy Balsamic Glazed Seared Salmon

I made this recently for my friend Robert and we both loved it. It’s incredibly easy to do and is perfect with rice or couscous and a nice green summer vegetable like zucchini or asparagus.Sometimes I serve it with Elie Krieger’s Whole Wheat Penne with Fresh Herbs and Zucchini (see recipe here - http://bit.ly/hvTUP0)

Download Quick Easy Balsamic Glazed Seared Salmon recipe

¼ cup high quality balsamic vinegar

¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice

2 tablespoons maple syrup (Grade B) or honey

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 sprig fresh rosemary (5-inch)

2 teaspoons vegetable oil

4 skin-on wild Alaskan salmon fillets, 6 ounces each, 1 to 1 1/4 inches thick

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1. Whisk vinegar, juice, maple syrup or honey, and pepper flakes together in small bowl, then add rosemary. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until smoking. Season salmon with salt and pepper and cook, skin side up, without moving, until well browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Flip fish skin side down and cook until all but very center of fish is opaque, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to platter and tent with foil.

2. Wipe out pan with paper towels and lower heat to medium. Carefully pour balsamic mixture into pan (it will splatter). Maintain a strong simmer over medium to medium high heat until thick and syrupy, about 5 minutes. Remove rosemary sprig. Whisk in butter, season sauce with salt and pepper, and pour over salmon. Serve.

Seared salmon
Balsamic Maple Glaze

Moist Orange Layer Cake with Easy Orange Buttercream

Orange cake 2

Moist Orange Layer Cake with Easy Orange Buttercream

This beautiful cake is easy to make and is infused throughout with natural orange flavor. Not only can you make a great cake, you can also help to fight MS if you order your oranges through Harry & David. 

Harry and David is supporting the Nancy Davis Foundation Race to Erase MS campaign (Nancy Davis Foudation) by donating 20% of the sales of their Royal Oranges between the months of April and May to this important cause. 

Please visit Harry & David to order your delicious box of Royal Oranges, handpicked at their peak, and enjoy not only the taste, but the health benefits of this citrus fruit while you join the Race to Erase MS.

The orange is one of the most popular and common fruits.  Harry and David’s Royal Oranges are a specialty orange with superior quality, coloring and unparalleled sweetness and juiciness.  

You'll find plenty of ways to use the oranges, but I decided to serve the cake with homemade orange ice cream using a recipe from the NY Times (Orange Ice Cream recipe)! Candied Orange Zest makes a great decoration and is easy to make.

Download Moist Orange Layer Cake with Easy Orange Buttercream

Orange Layer Cake   

4 large eggs, room temperature

1/2 cup whole milk, room temperature

¼ cup undiluted, thawed, frozen orange juice concentrate

2 teaspoons grated orange zest

1 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 1/2 cups cake flour (10 ounces)

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon table salt

16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter

1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Generously grease two 9-by-1 1/2-inch cake pans with vegetable shortening and cover pan bottoms with rounds of parchment paper or wax paper. Grease parchment rounds, dust cake pans with flour, and tap out excess.

2. Beat together eggs, milk, orange juice concentrate, orange zest, and vanilla with fork in medium bowl; measure out 1 cup of this mixture and set aside. Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, soda and salt in bowl of standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment; mix on lowest speed to blend, about 30 seconds. With mixer still running at lowest speed, add butter one piece at a time; mix until butter and flour begin to clump together and look sandy and pebbly, with pieces about the size of peas, 30 to 40 seconds after all butter is added. Add reserved 1 cup of egg mixture and mix at lowest speed until incorporated, 5 to 10 seconds. Increase speed to medium-high (setting 6 on KitchenAid) and beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute.

3. Add remaining egg mixture in slow steady stream, about 30 seconds. Stop mixer and thoroughly scrape sides and bottom of bowl. Beat on medium-high until thoroughly combined and batter looks slightly curdled, about 15 seconds longer.

(To mix using hand mixer, whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in large bowl. Add butter pieces and cut into the flour mixture with a pastry blender. Add reserved 1 cup of egg mixture; beat with hand mixer at lowest speed until incorporated, 20 to 30 seconds. Increase speed to high, add remaining egg mixture, and beat until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Stop mixer and thoroughly scrape sides and bottom of bowl. Beat at high speed 15 seconds longer.)

4. Divide batter equally between prepared cake pans; spread to sides of pan and smooth with rubber spatula. Bake until cake tops are light golden and skewer inserted in center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes. (Cakes may mound slightly but will level when cooled.) Cool on rack 10 minutes. Run a knife around pan perimeter to loosen. Invert cake onto large plate, peel off parchment, and re-invert onto lightly greased rack. Cool completely before icing.

Easy Orange Buttercream

20 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened

2 teaspoon grated orange zest

2 ½ cups confectioners' sugar (10 ounces)

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon freshly squeezed orange juice

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 tablespoon heavy cream

1. In standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat butter at medium-high speed until smooth, about 20 seconds. Add orange zest and beat mixture at medium-high speed to combine, about 15 seconds.

2. Add confectioners' sugar and salt; beat at medium-low speed until most of the sugar is moistened, about 45 seconds. Scrape down bowl and beat at medium speed until mixture is fully combined, about 15 seconds; scrape bowl, add orange juice, vanilla, and heavy cream, and beat at medium speed until incorporated, about 10 seconds, then increase speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, about 4 minutes, scraping down bowl once or twice.

Candied Orange Zest

Take three navel oranges and wash well; dry. Pour about ½ cup of granulated sugar in a cake pan or pie tin and set aside. Using a zesting tool (http://amzn.to/eOIrzK ), remove the orange part of the rind in long, thin strips starting at the top of the orange and with even pressure continue all the way to the bottom. Continue removing all the zest in strips. Rinse well in cool water and set aside. Bring to boil one cup of sugar and half cup of water and add in the orange zest. Reduce heat until it is very gently boiling and continue to cook until the orange zest starts to look translucent. Drain well in a fine mesh sieve (don't rinse with water) and immediately transfer to the dish with the sugar. Toss and separate each strand of zested orange rind so that each strip is completely coated with sugar. Add more granulated sugar for tossing if necessary. Let set for a few minutes and continue tossing. Let set another few minutes and toss again. Very gently remove from the sugar as needed for garnish. Can be used immediately or kept for up to a week in a tightly covered container.

Orange cake frosted
Orange zest

Best Curried Egg Salad Sandwich

Curried Egg Salad Sandwich

Curried Egg Salad with Cilantro

Download Best Curried Egg Salad with Cilantro recipe

Makes 4 sandwiches

6 large eggs

¼ cup mayonnaise

2 tablespoons minced red onion

1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro leaves

½ medium stalk celery , chopped fine (about 3 tablespoons)

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

2 teaspoons lemon juice

1 ½ teaspoons curry powder (I use Penzey's Sweet Curry - http://bit.ly/hnpBQ9)

Ground black pepper

1. Place eggs in medium saucepan, cover with 1 inch of water, and bring to boil over high heat. Remove pan from heat, cover, and let sit for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, fill a medium bowl with 1 quart water and 1 tray of ice cubes (or equivalent). Transfer eggs to ice water bath with slotted spoon; let sit 5 minutes, peel and dice medium.

2. Mix all ingredients together in medium bowl, including pepper to taste. (Can be covered and refrigerated overnight.)

Egg salad onion

Glazed Lemon Bundt Cake

Lemon Bundt Cake slice

Glazed Lemon Bundt Cake

This easy cake from Cooks Illustrated has a bright, fresh, citrus flavor and makes a great springtime dessert especially when served with some fresh berries.

Download Glazed Lemon Bundt Cake recipe

3 lemons, zest grated and saved, then juiced for 3 tablespoons juice

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (15 ounces)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon table salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk (preferably)

3 large eggs, at room temperature

1 large egg yolk, at room temperature

18 tablespoons unsalted butter (2 1/4 sticks), at room temperature

2 cups sugar (14 ounces)


2 - 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 cups confectioners' sugar (8 ounces)

2 teaspoons grated lemon zest


1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 12-cup Bundt pan with nonstick baking spray with flour (alternatively, brush pan with mixture of 1 tablespoon flour and 1 tablespoon melted butter). Mince lemon zest to fine paste (you should have about 2 tablespoons). Combine zest and lemon juice in small bowl; set aside to soften, 10 to 15 minutes.

2. Whisk flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in large bowl. Combine lemon juice mixture, vanilla, and buttermilk in medium bowl. In small bowl, gently whisk eggs and yolk to combine. In standing mixer fitted with flat beater, cream butter and sugar at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes; scrape down sides of bowl with rubber spatula. Reduce to medium speed and add half of eggs, mixing until incorporated, about 15 seconds. Repeat with remaining eggs; scrape down bowl again. Reduce to low speed; add about one-third of flour mixture, followed by half of buttermilk mixture, mixing until just incorporated after each addition (about 5 seconds). Repeat using half of remaining flour mixture and all of remaining buttermilk mixture. Scrape bowl and add remaining flour mixture; mix at medium-low speed until batter is thoroughly combined, about 15 seconds. Remove bowl from mixer and fold batter once or twice with rubber spatula to incorporate any remaining flour. Scrape into prepared pan.

3. Bake until top is golden brown and wooden skewer or toothpick inserted into center comes out with no crumbs attached, 45 to 50 minutes.

4. FOR THE GLAZE: While cake is baking, whisk 2 tablespoons lemon juice, melted butter, and confectioners' sugar until smooth, adding more lemon juice gradually as needed until glaze is thick but still pourable (mixture should leave faint trail across bottom of mixing bowl when drizzled from whisk). Cool cake in pan on wire rack set over baking sheet for 10 minutes, then invert cake directly onto rack. Pour half of glaze over warm cake and let cool for 1 hour; pour remaining glaze evenly over top of cake and continue to cool to room temperature, at least 2 hours. Cut into slices and serve.

Lemon bundt cake pan
Lemon bundt cake baked
Lemon Bundt Cake

World's Best Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Grilled Cheese

World’s Best Grilled Cheese Sandwich

I don’t know who creates these things, but apparently April is National Grilled Cheese Month. Holiday or not, grilled cheese sandwiches seem to appeal to everyone. It’s one of my favorite lunchtime treats –especially when there almost nothing left in the refrigerator – there’s always cheese and bread. Comté cheese, with its complex, nutty, caramelized flavor pairs perfectly with the sharp cheddar. If you can’t find it, you can use all cheddar. Choose high quality sandwich bread – white, wheat or sourdough all work well. Serve on its own, with mixed greens, or my favorite – creamy tomato soup.

Download World's Best Grilled Cheese Sandwich recipe

3 tablespoons butter, melted

4 thick slices white, wheat, or sourdough bread

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

2 ounces Cabot Extra Sharp Cheddar, grated

2 ounces Comté cheese, grated

1. Heat a heavy 12-inch cast iron skillet over low to medium-low heat. Meanwhile, spread ½ teaspoon of mustard on the two bottom slices of bread and then sprinkle evenly with the grated cheeses. Top each with a remaining bread slice, pressing down gently to set.

2. Brush sandwich tops completely with half the melted butter; place each sandwich, buttered side down, in skillet. Brush remaining side of each sandwich completely with remaining butter. Cook until crisp and deep golden brown, 5 to 10 minutes per side, flipping sandwiches back to first side to re-heat and crisp, about 15 seconds. Transfer sandwiches to a cutting board and slice in half with a knife. Serve warm.

Grilled Cheese Cabot shredded
Grilled Cheese open face
Grilled Cheese side 1
Grilled Cheese cast iron

Hearty Turkey Tomato Sauce with Campanelle

Turkey Tomatoe Sauce Campanelle

Hearty Turkey Tomato Sauce with Campanelle

Ground turkey is a nice substitution for beef in this hearty pasta sauce. I often substitute it for the ground beef in my Chili recipe. Make sure to buy 93% lean turkey, any leaner and the meat with taste dry. I like Campanelle pasta for this dish, but any favorite pasta will work.

Download Hearty Turkey Tomato Sauce with Campanelle recipe

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoons olive oil


6 medium cloves garlic, minced

2 pounds 93% percent lean ground turkey (don’t use 99%)

1 can (6 ounce) Pastene tomato paste

1 can (28 ounce) Muir Glen Diced Tomatoes

1 can (28 ounce) Tuttorosso or Muir Glen crushed tomatoes

4 cups low sodium chicken broth

2 bay leaves

1 teaspoon dried oregano

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 pound Campanelle pasta (or pasta of choice)

½ cup fresh basil, minced

1.  Combine onion, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, and ½ teaspoon of salt in a large dutch oven. Cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, until softened, 10-12 minutes. Stir in garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

2. Add HALF the ground turkey and increase heat to medium high. Cook the turkey, breaking the meat into small pieces with a wooden spoon, until the meat loses it raw color, about 7 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and continue to cook until the tomato paste begins to brown, about 3 minutes. Stir in diced and crushed tomatoes, chicken broth, bay leaves, oregano, and pepper flakes. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, for 1 hour.

3. Stir the remaining ground turkey, breaking it up as you add it, and continue to simmer for another 30-40 minutes. Discard bay leaves.

4. Meanwhile, bring 4 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Stir in 1 tablespoon of salt, add the pasta, and cook according to package directions until al dente (about 10 minutes). Drain pasta, reserving ½ cup of pasta cooking water, and return pasta to pot.

5. Stir remaining tablespoon of olive oil and chopped basil into sauce, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss 3 cups of the meat sauce into the pasta, adding some of the reserved cooking water as needed to loosen sauce. Divide pasta among serving dishes and top each with a portion of sauce. Serve with grated parmesan cheese and extra basil, if desired.

Note: Extra sauce will freeze well for up to a month.


Whole Wheat “Earthy” Chocolate Chip Cookies

Earthy whole grain chocolate chip cookies

Whole Wheat “Earthy” Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is a great wholesome, whole grain cookie recipe adapted from Rosie’s Bakery Cookie Book (http://amzn.to/15M22mP). It's one of my favorite cookbooks and it filled with wonderful, easy to follow recipes. Rosie’s is a classic bakery in Boston that’s been baking up confections for over 30 years that use no preservatives or chemicals - if you're visiting Boston, make sure to stop by. (http://rosiesbakery.com/) These cookies taste best the day they are baked, but they can be stored in the freezer for up to two weeks.

Download Whole Wheat Earthy Chocolate Chip Cookies 

2 1/4 cups whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

¾ cup quick cooking oats

2 tablespoons wheat bran

¼ cup unsweetened coconut

1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

2 eggs, room temperature

2 cups semi sweet chocolate chips (Guittard is my favorite)


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees and adjust oven rack to center position. Line a few cookie sheets with parchment paper.

2. Combine flour, salt and baking soda in a bowl, whisk it together and set aside; in another small bowl mix together oats, wheat bran, and coconut and set aside.

3. In the bowl of standing mixer, combine brown sugar, granulated sugar, softened butter, and vanilla; beat at medium speed until creamy, about 1 ½ -2 minutes.  Add eggs and beat for 30 seconds. Scrape bowl down.

4.  Add flour mixture and mix on low for 10 seconds.

5. Add oat mixture and mix on low just to combine. Remove bowl from stand and stir together with large rubber spatula, scarping sides and bottom of bowl. Stir in chocolate chips.

5. Drop cookie dough by heaping tablespoonfuls onto the baking sheet about 2 inches apart.

6. Bake until cookies edges are dark golden and the centers are puffed up 9-11 minutes. Remove cookies from oven and allow them to cool for 2 minutes on sheet and then transfer to wire racks to cool.

Earthy whole grain cookies baking
Earthy whole grain cookies baked


Lemon Spaghetti Basil Spaghetti al Limone

Lemon Spaghetti 1

Lemon Spaghetti with Basil (Spaghetti al Limone)

This is a super fast and easy recipe and a perfect example of simple Italian cooking at its best. The pasta is great on its own, or you can add some sautéed chicken pieces. You can cut the recipe in half to serve two people.

Download Lemon Spaghetti with Basil recipe

1 pound spaghetti

1/2 cup olive oil

1 garlic clove minced to a paste

½ teaspoon salt

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about 3 lemons)

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon lemon zest

1 cup grated Parmesan

1/3 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

1. Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, whisk the oil, garlic, lemon juice, lemon zest and salt in a large bowl to blend. Stir in the Parmesan cheese until thick and creamy.

3. Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Toss the pasta with the lemon sauce, and the reserved cooking liquid, adding 1/4 cup at a time as needed to moisten. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with lemon zest and chopped basil.

Easy Sauteed Chicken

Slice 1 or 2 boneless chicken breast crosswise into thin ¼ slices.  Melt 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter in a 10” non stick skillet over high heat until just beginning to brown. Add the chicken and cook without moving for 1-2 minutes. Turn pieces and continue to cook for 2-3 minutes longer until cooked through. Serve with pasta.

Sauteed chicken

Rocco DiSpirito’s Lo Cal Macaroni & Cheese

Rocco dispirito lo cal mac and cheese

I recently was in NY with a friend who was guest hosting on the Joy Behar show. Rocco DiSpirito was on to promote his best-selling "Now Eat This!" Diet book (Find it here). He suggested trying his innovative low calorie recipe for Macaroni & Cheese that uses Greek Yogurt and Cabot 50% Reduced Fat Cheddar. I’m always a little skeptical of low fat versions of comfort food, but was pleasantly surprised to find this dish incredibly tasty. Serve it with a mixed green salad and it makes a great lunch or light dinner.

Rocco DiSpirito’s Lo Cal Macaroni & Cheese

Nonstick cooking spray 
4 ounces whole-wheat pasta 
½ cup Onion-Garlic Puree (recipe below) 
½ teaspoon dry mustard 
Pinch of cayenne pepper 
1 cup shredded 50% reduced- fat cheddar, such as Cabot 
1/3 cup nonfat Greek yogurt 
¼ cup whole-wheat panko breadcrumbs, such as Ian's All-Natural 
¼ cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese 


1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Spray an 8×8- inch baking dish with 
cooking spray, and set it aside. 

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the macaroni and 
cook according to the package directions, al dente; drain. 

3. While the pasta is cooking, bring the Onion- Garlic Puree, mustard, and cayenne to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring often. Whisk in the cheddar until it has melted. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the yogurt. In a medium bowl, toss the cooked macaroni with the cheese sauce to coat thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour the macaroni into the prepared baking dish, and sprinkle the panko over the top. Top with the Parmigiano-Reggiano. Bake until the cheese has melted and the macaroni is hot throughout, about 10 minutes. Serve immediately.

Onion-Garlic Puree

1 large Vidalia onion, roughly chopped 

9 garlic cloves, roughly chopped 
½ cup water 
freshly ground black pepper 

1. Combine the onion, garlic, and water in a microwave- safe bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, and microwave on high for 10 minutes. 

2. Pour the mixture into a blender and blend until it is completely smooth. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 72 hours. 

Rocco dispirito lo cal mac and cheese baking