All posts by LynnHoll

About LynnHoll

I have been an artist and designer all my life incorporating graphic design for websites, gardens, publications, fabrics, interior design and cooking. I am now retired from my professional job, but still create artistic visions in all forms on a daily basis.

A Polish Twist to an Italian Dish

I’m sure you’ve indulged in sausage, peppers and onions at some point in your life, right? Well, while recently shopping at Costco, we picked up some Polish sausage, figuring we could do a similar rendition of the Italian classic with an ethnic twist and it would make for an easy weeknight dinner.


Sausage and peppers is a dish in Italian-American cuisine prepared using Italian sausage and bell peppers as primary ingredients. It is served as a dish on its own, sometimes with the use of additional ingredients such as tomato sauce, onions and potatoes or pasta. You will often find it served at Italian street festivals.

As I gathered our ingredients, I was momentarily taken aback when I realized what we bought was Kiolbassa Smoked Beef Sausage, a product out of San Antonio, Texas. It’s an organic, 100% grass-fed family recipe hailing from, you guessed it, Mike Kiolbassa. Come to find out, it’s just another way of spelling what I knew as Kielbasa. You say “toe-may-toe” I say “ta-mah-toh”…

Not to be deterred, I went ahead with the plans, because to be honest, this one-skillet dish is as easy (and delicious) as a weeknight dinner gets. Having stayed all afternoon at the country-club pool chatting it up with the gal pals, I didn’t have much time to fuss over making dinner once I got home. (Yes, I know, retirement’s tough.)

A staple of Polish cuisine, Kielbasa comes in dozens of varieties, be it smoked or fresh, made with beef, turkey, lamb, chicken, pork or veal—with every region having its own speciality. My mom’s Polish family made their own, so growing up, even though I was an extremely picky eater, I always remember liking Kielbasa.

All ingredients are chopped to bite-sized pieces so the prep takes mere minutes, while the actual cooking takes a bit longer because you have to sauté in steps, starting with the sausage, then the potatoes, next is peppers and onions, and finally everything together. The finale of a generous splash of vinegar brightens the entire dish, while if you’re so inclined, a pinch of red pepper flakes provides a bit of heat. And of course, the chopped chives for a pop of green.

…It’s great as leftovers too…


Polish Sausage, Peppers and Onions

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • Tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 4 Polish sausage links, such as Kiolbassa, cut diagonally into 1″” slices
  • lb. small baby potatoes, any color(s), halved
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • bell peppers, preferably 2 different colors, roughly 1″ chop
  • large red onion, roughly 1″ chop
  • 1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh chives, chopped, as garnish
  • Pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1/3 cup water


  1. Set a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. After it gets good and hot, add the olive oil, then the sausage pieces. Brown all over—about 2 minutes per side—then remove to a waiting plate.
  2. Add another tablespoon olive oil to the skillet, followed by the potatoes, cut side facing down. Season with a big pinch of salt. Cook these for 5 minutes until browned, then flip and cook another 5 minutes. Transfer these to the plate with the sausage.
  3. Add the remaining tablespoon olive oil, then the peppers and onion. Season with a big pinch of salt and red pepper flakes. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until tender—about 10 minutes.
  4. Add the sausage slices and potatoes back to the skillet. Pour 1/3 cup water evenly over the top and cover the pan with a lid.
  5. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes until the sausage is cooked through and the potatoes are tender, lifting the lid for the last few minutes. remove from heat and add a splash of red wine vinegar and a the chopped chives.


Healthy Tex-Mex Grain Bowl

Found on Epicurious, this Tex-Mex-inspired Grain Bowl with Grilled Corn, Steak and Avocado can be assembled in just 10 minutes. The key to a quick meal here is to prep over the weekend and store the elements in the refrigerator. It’s a great, healthy dish, but don’t think of making this without the creamy jalapeño sauce—that is key. If you don’t have a grill for the corn, you can roast it in the oven.

The farro (our grain of choice) and corn mixture could be a meal in itself, it is so good! But then combine it with the steak, corn, avocado and jalapeño sauce, and WOW all of the textures and flavors fuse together in a well-orchestrated dance on your palette. Keep in mind, grilling the corn will take longer than the steak, so plan accordingly. In fact, my cobs took 50% longer than the recipe called for, 15 minutes as opposed to 10, so I indicated that in the directions.


About that sauce, this version is full of fresh jalapeño heat and bright lime, emulsified using only neutral vegetable oil. You might think 5-6 jalapeños is going to be off-the-charts spicy, but it’s really not. The spicy condiment is ubiquitous at Tex-Mex restaurants and taco trucks all over Texas. Most people, including myself, are shocked when they learn the light green, creamy sauce is made without avocado or dairy. Any leftovers would be great with nacho chips, grilled chicken or as a sandwich spread.


Grain Bowl with Grilled Corn, Steak and Avocado

  • Servings: 1 1/4 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 1 lb. skirt or flank steak
  • 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, divided, plus more
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, plus more
  • 3 large or 4 small ears of corn, shucked
  • 2 cups cooked whole grains, such as quinoa, farro, rice, or barley
  • 3 oz. crumbled feta or Cotija cheese (about 1/2 cup)
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 1 avocado, peeled, thinly sliced
  • Creamy Jalapeño Sauce, see recipe below (for serving)


  1. Season steak with 1 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. pepper. Let sit at room temperature 30 minutes.
  2. Prepare a grill for medium-high heat or heat grill pan over medium-high. Grill steak, turning occasionally, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of steak registers 120–125°F for medium-rare (2–3 minutes per side for skirt; 3–4 minutes per side for flank). Transfer to a cutting board and let rest at least 10 minutes or until cool.
  3. Meanwhile, grill corn until charred on all sides, about 10-15 minutes. Transfer to cutting board and let cool.
  4. Slice corn off cobs into a large bowl. Add grains, feta, scallions, oil, lime juice, and 1/2 tsp. salt and stir to combine. Divide corn mixture among bowls.
  5. Thinly slice steak against the grain (to make slicing easier for skirt steak, cut into 5″–6″ segments, then slice against the grain).
  6. Top bowls with steak and avocado. Drizzle jalapeño sauce over; season with salt and pepper.

Do Ahead: Steak and corn can be grilled 3 days ahead. Transfer to separate airtight containers and chill.

Creamy Jalapeño Sauce


Creamy Jalapeño Sauce

  • Servings: 1 1/4 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 5-6 jalapeños (depending on heat and personal preference), stemmed, seeded, coarsely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 5 tablespoons fresh lime juice (about 2 whole limes)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup neutral vegetable oil (such as grapeseed)
  • 3/4 cup (packed) fresh cilantro leaves with tender stems


  1. Pulse jalapeños, garlic, lime juice, and salt in a blender or food processor until puréed. With motor running, slowly drizzle in oil until a thick sauce forms.
  2. Add cilantro and pulse a few times until chopped and incorporated. Taste and add more jalapeño, if necessary.

Do Ahead: Sauce can be made up to 3 days in advance and refrigerated.


Watercress Salad with Steak, Sautéed Shallots & Stilton

Delicious, simple, sophisticated and very easy to throw together with it’s short list of ingredients. This salad is heavier on greens than on steak, making it a light but filling meal. With only one steak to be divvied up between 2-4 people, make sure you buy a top-notch thick ribeye. Often the crown jewel of the steakhouse menu, a well-prepared ribeye steak is a beautiful thing.

The ribeye’s high-fat content offers generous marbling, and therefore, the meat has more moisture to cook with. Where the flavor comes from in a good piece of meat is from the fat, and no other cut of meat has the amount of fat that a ribeye does. So unless you are a “fat-o-phobe” this Watercress Salad with Steak, Sautéed Shallots & Stilton recipe could be your next “save-the-day” weeknight meal.


You may see ribeye referred to in several ways, like ribeye or rib eye and rib steak. Don’t get too hung up on the names; the ribeye has many but they all generally refer to the same cut. The cut is from the rib roast, which usually includes rib bone. But, to become a ribeye cut, the bone is usually removed before cooking, leaving the tender, flavorful part to enjoy.

First, regardless of technique being used, pull your ribeye out of the refrigerator and let it sit out for fifteen minutes. Then after cooking, once your desired temperature is achieved (130–135º for medium rare, 135–140º for medium), let the steak rest ten minutes before you cut into it as this allows the meat to retain the juices and prevents drying out the meat.

This type of salad I usually reserve for warmer weather, but we’ve also served it on cool temperature days, so it can be part of your weeknight dinner rotation in the early Spring or even mid-Autumn—I like that flexibility.


Watercress Salad with Steak, Sautéed Shallots and Stilton

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • Kosher salt
  • 14- to 16-oz. ribeye (1-inch thick)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 large shallots, sliced 1/4 inch thick (about 1-1/2 cups)
  • 6 cups (lightly packed) small watercress sprigs (about 2 bunches trimmed of lower stems), torn into bite-size pieces
  • 2 oz. Stilton, crumbled (about 1/2 cup)


  1. In a small bowl, whisk 2 Tbs. of the olive oil, the lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, and a generous pinch of salt. Season both sides of the steak with 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper.
  2. In a 10-inch straight-sided sauté pan, heat the remaining 1 Tbs. oil over medium-high heat until hot. Cook the steak, without disturbing, swirling the oil in the pan occasionally, until the bottom of the steak is deeply browned, about 5 minutes.
  3. Flip and cook until the other side is nicely browned, about 3 minutes more. Transfer the steak to a cutting board.
  4. Turn the heat to low and cook the shallots, stirring frequently, until softened and lightly browned, 5 to 8 minutes. (Use a spatula or spoon to break apart the shallot slices and to incorporate some of the browned bits from the pan.) Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.
  5. Slice the beef thinly. Fan an equal number of slices on each dinner plate. Rewhisk the dressing if necessary.
  6. In a large bowl, toss the shallots, watercress, and Stilton with a generous pinch of salt and just enough of the dressing to coat.
  7. Season with more salt and pepper and arrange the salad over the beef slices.


Adapted by a recipe by Susie Middleton from Fine Cooking

Perfect for Picnic or Potluck

With all sorts of produce in abundance this time of year, shake things up a bit with a combination twist and make Green Beans with Cherry Tomatoes and Niçoise Olives. It’s not only eye-catching in color, it makes a great accompaniment for steak, pork, chicken or fish.


Niçoise olives are a small French variety of black olive with a rich, briny flavor. If you can’t find them, use Kalamata or other cured black pitted olives instead. As a substitute for cherry tomatoes, use grape tomatoes.

Because you can serve this at room temperature, it’s a great addition to a picnic or potluck—but you may want to double or even triple the recipe in that case.


Green Beans with Cherry Tomatoes and Niçoise Olives

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 3/4 lb. green beans, trimmed
  • 1 cup halved cherry (or grape) tomatoes
  • 1-1/2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbs. minced shallots
  • 1/2 cup pitted, chopped Niçoise olives
  • 1/2 tsp. finely chopped fresh thyme
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Bring a medium pot of well-salted water to a boil over high heat and cook the green beans until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes; drain and cool under cold running water.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the beans with the cherry tomatoes.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil, vinegar, and shallots.
  4. Stir in the olives, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Toss the vegetables with the vinaigrette, adjust the seasonings, and serve.

Recipe adapted from Maria Helm Sinskey from Fine Cooking

Have a Bit of Halibut

I’m sure if you’ve recently tried to buy halibut, or ordered it at a restaurant, you’re aware of how pricey said fish can be. So when we saw it at our local fishmarket for a third off, we didn’t hesitate to pick some up. And, as luck would have it, just before grocery shopping, I remembered our TrueFire Gourmet wraps gifted to us from our West-Coast-Brother-In-Law, David. Inside the packaging were a few recipes, one of which featured this Mediterranean Cedar-Wrapped Halibut recipe.


These wraps are available at many local grocers and seafood markets or directly from their website where you’ll also find additional recipes, videos and products. TrueFire Gourmet® cedar planks, wraps and roasters help you deliver impeccable food whether you grill, bake or steam. The company is based out of San Diego and uses wood from sustainable resources.

Strangely, directions indicate to preheat the oven to 365°, a very uncommon temperature in the U.S. to be sure. However, never having used these wraps before, I wanted to follow the instructions on the first go around. While we’ve grilled salmon on cedar planks in the past, we’ve never cooked with the wraps—which are a great alternative if you don’t like to grill (what?) or live in an area where you cannot grill all year long.

Now it was grilling season here in the Northeast U.S., but it was over-the-top hot and humid with the feel-like temps registering over 100° and the thought of being outside on this particular evening was unappealing, to say the least. It was much more palatable to be in the air conditioned house preparing a dinner that took barely 25 minutes (or so I thought) total time to prep and cook.

The firm white meat of halibut steaks and the mild flavor makes this a great fish for any recipe calling for whitefish. The main thing to remember when cooking halibut is that it will dry out on you fast, because it contains very little oil. And if that happened, you’d want to kick yourself at those prices! So these wraps with a marinade are a perfect solution to help retain the moisture.

Before you start to cook your halibut make sure to wash it thoroughly under cold water and pat dry with a paper towel. One of the handiest kitchen tools you can have is a cooking thermometer, this takes all the guess work out of cooking halibut. You want the fish to have an internal temperature of 145 degrees.

The bottom line: Despite the fact that the directions indicate the fish will reach the desired temperature in 10 minutes time, ours took nearly 25 minutes!! (So you may want to cook in a hotter 400° oven.) Wrapping the fish and marinade in the soaked wraps is tricky to say the least. Plus, with all of the mediterranean garnishes, one could barely decipher the taste of the cedar wrap, although it was a novel presentation and the taste was very good.


Mediterranean Cedar-Wrapped Halibut

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 4, 6-oz. halibut fillets
  • 4 cedar wraps, soaked
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 tsp. dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 oz. light feta cheese
  • 3 Tbsp. light olive oil
  • Lemon wedges for garnish


  1. Preheat oven to 365° and soak wraps for 5 minutes. (I soaked the twine also.)
  2. Combine marinade ingredients in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
  3. Place each fillet in the center of the moist wrap and top with marinade, splitting amount evenly over each portion.
  4. Roll the wrap around fillet. Tie with butcher string or scallions.
  5. Place wraps on a cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes or until fish is opaque in color. (Check temp with a cooking thermometer. The fish should register 145°—ours took nearly 25 minutes.)
  6. Serve partially opened on plates for gourmet presentation with a lemon wedge.

Great Summer Salad!

This main course Grilled Steak Salad with Pineapple-Ginger Dressing has it all: tender greens, crisp peppery radishes, sweet succulent pineapple, beefy steak, and a bright, fresh dressing that packs a bit of heat, too. What a perfect choice for a warm summer evening dining al fresco. And to satisfy any vegetarians, just swap out the steak for grilled portobello mushrooms.

For a great time-saver, look for peeled and cut fresh pineapple in the produce section of your supermarket. I bought a whole pineapple so that I could slice it down and have a lot extra for morning fruit smoothies. Those small 6-ounce cans of pineapple juice are almost perfect—just suck down that last ounce.


Another step-saver? To avoid having to scoop out the cucumber seeds, buy a seedless variety. For just the two of us, one head of Bibb lettuce and all of the rest of the ingredients made two good-sized salads with some dressing and steak leftover. So keep that in mind if intending to feed more diners…


Grilled Steak Salad with Pineapple-Ginger Dressing

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


For the dressing:

  • 5 Tbs. pineapple juice
  • 1 Tbs. soy sauce
  • 1 Tbs. peanut oil
  • 1 Tbs. Asian sesame oil
  • 2 tsp. fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp. honey
  • 1/2 tsp. finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • Large pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup small-diced fresh pineapple
  • 1 Tbs. finely chopped fresh cilantro

For the steak:

  • 1 lb. flank steak
  • 1-1/2 Tbs. vegetable oil; more for the grill
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the salad:

  • 6 oz. torn butter lettuce (use 2 heads for 4 people)
  • 1 medium cucumber, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 3 radishes, thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced scallion (both white and light-green parts)


  • Heat a gas grill to medium high.

Make the dressing:

  • In a small bowl, whisk the pineapple juice, soy sauce, peanut oil, sesame oil, lime juice, honey, ginger, garlic, and pepper flakes to blend. Stir in the pineapple and cilantro.

Cook the steak:

  • Rub the steak with the oil and season with 1 tsp. each salt and pepper. Clean and oil the grill grates. Grill the steak, covered, until it has nice grill marks on one side, 5 to 6 minutes. Flip and reduce the heat to medium.
  • Cook, covered, until done to your liking, an additional 4 to 5 minutes for medium rare. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes.

Assemble the salad:

  • In a large bowl, toss the lettuce, cucumber, and radishes with about half of the dressing. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide among 2-4 large plates.
  • Thinly slice the steak at an angle across the grain and drape it over the greens.
  • Drizzle some of the remaining dressing over the beef, sprinkle with the scallions, and serve.

Adapted from a recipe by Maryellen Driscoll from Fine Cooking



Versatile Poached Chicken

Over two years ago I blogged on Clean-Out-the-Fridge Frittata to urge you to utilize leftovers in a creative way without throwing them in the trash (of course, composting is another option.) Sunday mornings are a perfect time for this process. But just as inventive, and maybe even healthier, is a clean-out-the fridge dinner salad, with in this case, a poached chicken breast (see how below.) 


In poaching, you get to use some of your fresh herbs—a snip here, a snip there, for instant aromatic flavor. Or in the spirit of cleaning out the fridge, maybe you are harboring some leftover herbs? Depending on the size of your garden, you may also be able to harvest some of the veggies such as tomatoes and cucumbers. You get the idea, whatever is on hand is the point.

For the salad base, use any extra produce you accumulate throughout the week; for us this time it was a variety of lettuces, tomatoes, cucumber, onion, cauliflower, carrots, and half an avocado. Other times it’s been bell peppers, celery, radishes, cabbage—the list goes on and on… Not to mention leftover cheese, olives, nuts…

We’re also pretty adamant about formulating our own salad dressings. This avoids the excessive calories and processed ingredients of store-bought varieties. You might want to invest in something like shown below (available from Amazon for less than $12), a very compact mixer with just the right capacity so you will not have to deal with a huge blender. All you have to do is add your oil, vinegar and seasonings, turn the handle and make your dressing within seconds!


Follow the simple set of steps below to make your poached chicken breast, prep your other ingredients, and voila, a healthy dinner salad with a minimum of cooking. Not into a vegetable salad per se? How about combining with mayo, onion and celery and make chicken salad spread for a sandwich… or use in chicken tacos… soup anyone?

Your welcome.

*TIP: Strain and reserve the broth. Pour into silicone ice cube trays, freeze and then package into ziplocs. Take out as needed for use in sauces, soups, or other recipes.

Easy Poached Chicken Salad

  • Servings: serves 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 1 large, or 2 small boneless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 small unpeeled onion, root end left intact, quartered
  • 1 clove garlic, halved
  • Sprigs of fresh herbs such as sage, thyme, rosemary, and/or parsley
  • 1 teaspoon peppercorns
  • chicken broth, enough to just cover chicken about 1/2 way
  • Lettuces and whatever else you have on hand to create a dinner salad
  • Choice of dressing


  1. Place chicken, herbs, peppercorn, garlic, onion and bay leaf in a small, shallow pan.
  2. Pour in enough broth to cover chicken about 1/2 way.
  3. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes.
  4. If your breast is large, flip the chicken over and simmer, uncovered for another 5 minutes.
  5. Turn off heat, cover and allow to rest for 15 minutes.
  6. Remove meat to cutting board, slice or shred chicken. *Reserve broth for use in future recipes.
  7. Assemble salad with on-hand ingredients, and top with poached chicken.

Sirloin Tip Steak Sauté with Leeks and Asparagus

Another easy, peasy but tasty dinner for those harboring a love affair with red meat should try Sirloin Tip Steak Sauté with Leeks and Asparagus. For some reason, sirloin tips are not abundant in our locale, so if you encounter a similar difficulty in finding them, just use a regular whole sirloin or flap meat strips (although flap may be as difficult to find), it gets sliced down toward the end anyway.

FYI, steak tips can come from two areas of the cow. One kind comes from tender, expensive cuts in the middle of the cow, such as the tenderloin. These tips are a superior cut but not considered to be a true steak tip, which should be a more pedestrian cut that is magically transformed into a desirable dish through marinating and/or cooking, such as here.

If the steak tips at your market cost upwards of $15 or more per pound, the meat likely comes from the tenderloin. Hey, if money is no object for you, this may be the way to go! However, true steak tips come from various muscles in the sirloin and round and cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $6-7 per pound.

For seasonings, a splash of cream adds rich flavor to this simple sauté, while lemon zest enhances the leeks and asparagus. One reviewer noted that he added a heaping teaspoon of coarse ground mustard to the sauce which added some texture and a pleasant piquancy. I might try that next time, although we thought the finished dish was fine as it was.

The two organic leeks that I bought were quite large and when sliced down amounted to around 5-6 cups as opposed to two, which suited us just fine, and actually made a substitute for a side of egg noodles (which we didn’t make.) Our opinion was that it was filling enough without the addition of a starch, but it would certainly stretch the meal if you included egg noodles.


Sirloin Tip Steak Sauté with Leeks and Asparagus

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 1-1/2 lb. sirloin tip steaks (about 4)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2-1/4 oz. (1/2 cup) all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 oz. (2 Tbs.) unsalted butter
  • 2 large leeks (white and light-green parts only), trimmed, halved lengthwise, and thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth, homemade prefered
  • 8-12 oz. asparagus, trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces on a sharp diagonal
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
  • 1-1/2 Tbs. thinly sliced fresh chives


  1. Pat the beef dry with paper towels and season on all sides with 1-1/2 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. black pepper. Dredge the beef in the flour, shaking off the excess.
  2. Heat the oil and 1 Tbs. of the butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until the butter melts and the foam subsides.
  3. Add the steaks and cook, turning once, until browned, 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a cutting board.
  4. Add the remaining 1 Tbs. butter and the leeks to the skillet. Season lightly with salt and cook, stirring often, until softened and browned in spots, about 3 minutes.
  5. Raise the heat to high, add the wine, and cook, scraping the bottom of the pot with a wooden spatula to release any browned bits, until almost evaporated, 1 to 2 minutes.
  6. Add the broth and boil until reduced by half, 1 to 2 minutes more.
  7. Meanwhile, cut the beef crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices.
  8. Add the asparagus to the skillet and return the sauce to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and cook, stirring often, until the asparagus is just tender, about 3 minutes.
  9. Add the cream and beef to the pan. Cook, stirring, until the beef is just pink and heated through and the sauce thickens slightly, 2 minutes.
  10. Remove from the heat, stir in the zest, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve alone or over cooked egg noodles and garnish with the chives.

By Tony Rosenfeld from Fine Cooking

In a Pinch: Caper, Anchovy, Mustard Sauce

With no dinner plans, and the lack of desire to do a full-on grocery store shopping, we removed a beautiful tuna steak from the freezer and then made a quick trip to the local farm nursery. There we selected freshly picked corn on the cob, a few heirloom tomatoes and an ripe avocado. Easy enough, right?

IMG_6625Make a side salad of sliced heirloom tomatoes on a bed of baby arugula and a few slices of a ripe avocado dressed with Avocado Ranch Dressing, yum!

Yet something else was needed to dress up that tuna steak and I knew we had just the right ingredients on hand to do so. You’re also likely to have most of what’s needed to throw this Caper, Anchovy, Mustard Sauce together in a pinch. It has a bright zingy flavor that pairs perfectly with grilled tuna (swordfish steaks would be a no-brainer substitute.) Any leftover sauce would be great to mix with canned tuna and used as a spread, or mix into a pasta salad.


If you’re squeamish about anchovies, no need to worry because they are well blended into the other ingredients. Plus, hiding in the fish’s tiny briny glory are vitamins A, B-6, B-12, C, E, and K, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, and niacin, to name a few. They’re one of the most sustainable fish out there, resilient to fishing pressures with a quick reproductive cycle.

Now the big question: salt-packed or oil-packed? Oil-packed anchovies are just the filets; salt-packed anchovies are everything but the heads and tails—scales, fins, and bones are left intact and softened during the process. Salt-packed anchovies are prized by anchovy lovers for their blast of pristine fishy flavor, while oil-packed versions are slightly more subtle, though easier to eat. The salt- and oil-packed anchovies perform similarly in most uses, though the salt-packed version has a nice extra punch when eaten raw. As for anchovy paste, skip it altogether.


On a side note, I have to give a shout-out to this Chipotle Parmesan corn-on-the-cob seasoning blend. All you have to do is shake it onto a hot ear of corn smothered in butter, or mix right into some melted butter first, then baste onto the corn. I bet it would be darn right tasty on popcorn and baked potatoes too!


Caper, Anchovy, Mustard Sauce

  • Servings: about 1/2 cup
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 1 teaspoon roasted garlic paste, or 1 clove coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 anchovies
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • Salt and pepper
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • A few pinches chopped snipped chives for garnish


  1. Drop the first 5 ingredients in a small food processor and pulse until well blended.
  2. Add a few pinches of salt, lemon zest, and a teaspoon of lemon juice, and pulse to combine.
  3. Scrape the spread into a bowl, stir in the capers, and season it to taste with pepper.
  4. Spoon the mixture over grilled tuna or other seafood steaks and add a pinch of fresh chopped chives.

Eno Terra: Eat Local, Drink Global.

The best laid plans… My birthday agenda was going to include a fancy dinner followed by a “Monet in the Garden” Fountain & Fireworks (F&F) show at Longwood Gardens—over an hours drive from home. Wouldn’t you know, that Saturday was the first day of a predicted weeks-long rainy pattern, and the hourly forecast showed 100% heavy rain from mid-afternoon until past midnight.

Despite the dismal weather, the F&F wasn’t cancelled, so we altered our dinner plans for another evening, dressed in foul-weather gear, and made the trip to Longwood Gardens. And boy are we glad we did. What a show!! The shows are far and few between and sold out months in advance, but if you ever get the chance, I highly recommend…

3.IMG_6370I couldn’t help myself by adding this video and a few pics from the event. But I digress…

Back to the food blog at hand (and where I finally had my birthday dinner)… According to their website, Eno Terra is founded on the principle of regionalism and seasonality drawing from local farmers, fishermen, grass fed beef and poultry producers and three season harvests from their Eno Terra Canal Farm. They’ve created an enhanced Enoteca style menu, to complement their farm-to-table multi course format.


Located in Kingston, NJ, just outside of Princeton, Eno Terra, opened in 2008, is steeped in history and sits on the oldest highway in America—King’s Highway—which was a center point of local commerce. The restaurant itself is the site of the old Fisk General Store and dates back to the 1860s, with original beams and store foundation still in use in their wine cellar (ask to see them when you visit).





For some reason, their small patio area was not available for seating, even though it was a gorgeous summer evening. Not to complain because the two-story space in a historic, wood-framed general store remains inviting, with its artful wall hangings of lichen and other living greenery. Their menu is Italian in sensibility, while the wine list focuses on Italy and the United States with an abundant representation from France and Spain. So many to choose from!

IMG_6600Russ spends some time reviewing all of the wine offerings, orders and Italian NOE Montepulciano D’Abruzzo, then I enjoy a sip…

Along with a separate detailed wine menu and a smattering of a few nightly specials, the menu is arranged into four segments (plus dessert) starting with their highly touted Salumi & Formaggi offerings. While waiting to be seated, Russ eyeballed the high-end Italian meat slicer (shown below) near the hostess station and just knew he was going to have to start with something in this category…


IMG_6608…  Russ chose the Piccolo which allowed for four choices from the meat and cheese offerings, letting our very Italian waiter make the selections for him. Along with marinated Castelvetrano olives, also on the wooden plank platter was an array of spiced cashews, a fruit spread, walnut raisin bread slices, and melt-in-your-mouth Prosciutto di Parma and Coppa meats, and creamy cheeses Taleggio and 24-month Parmigianno. A meal in itself!

Mid-summer screams fresh corn to me, so I began with a small portion of the Sweet Corn Soup. It was ever so delicately spiced with a nod toward the sweet and garnished with fresh heirloom tomato chunks and a sprinkle of chopped parsley. Divine! Of course, we both shared a bit with each other so we could experience the entire meal together.

IMG_6611Our next hurdle was choosing from the Antipasti & Insalate or the Primi categories, so we went with one from each. Russ chose the San Marzano Lamb Meatballs, with four golf ball-sized mounds of meat smothered in the house’s bright, tangy roasted tomato sauce atop Anson Mills polenta, with shaved Pecorino and parsley.

My pick was a Primi, the homemade Tagliatelle with braised veal, succulent Maitake mushrooms, mixed with Swiss chard and topped with rosemary and grated Pecorino. Our waiter raised an eyebrow when I mentioned I was also going to order a Secondi, so he suggested just a half order of the pasta, thank goodness, because that was plenty—and plenty tasty!

IMG_6614For his main dish, Russ zeroed in on the Niman Ranch Flat Iron Steak grilled to a perfect medium-rare and accompanied by grilled asparagus, nantes carrots, rock potato and dressed with a clinging red wine jus. He absolutely marveled at how fantastic the vegetables were, especially the potatoes with their crisp exterior and creamy soft interiors. I had a taste and couldn’t have agreed more.

An all-time favorite of mine are Scallops, and their line of five plump, perfectly seared dry sea scallops came christened with roasted pepper marmalade. They were paired with a baby kale, shaved fennel and citrus salad, and an artistic swash of Shishito pepper purée decorated the plate. Before finishing this course, we were quite full (surprised?), so about half of each dinner was packaged for home. And BTW, we had them the next day for lunch at the pool—even without reheating, they were amazingly good.

Definitely no room for dessert but it looked like they had some great options from scrutinizing offerings ordered by other diners. The meal was not rushed and the waitstaff was very attentive, making sure to keep our wine and water glasses refreshed as needed. Eno Terra, a new favorite? Quite possibly…

Healthy-ish Appetizer

Need a quick and healthy-ish appetizer? Endive Spears with Spicy Goat Cheese clocks in right around 100 calories and is a delicious, light appetizer I found on It yields six servings of six Belgian endive leaves per guest, so if the party is larger, double the cheese mixture ingredients and serve crostini crackers in addition to the lettuce. I also added a good smattering of chopped fresh chives for color and taste.

Let the party begin…


Endive with Spicy Goat Cheese

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: very easy
  • Print



  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) goat cheese
  • 1/3 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1 garlic clove, pressed
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh chives (optional)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons Hungarian sweet paprika, divided
  • 36 Belgian endive leaves (about 3 heads)
  • Crostini olive oil crackers (optional)


  1. Combine first 5 ingredients (and chives if using) and 1 teaspoon paprika in a medium bowl; mash with a fork until smooth.
  2. Top each endive leaf with about 1 teaspoon cheese mixture.
  3. Sprinkle remaining 1/4 teaspoon paprika evenly over cheese mixture.

Skillet Cod, Clams, and Corn with Parsley

Who says clam sauce is only good for pasta? Not this buttery, corn-studded, one-pan wonder. I, personally, am not a fan of whole clams because of what I perceive as the “ya-ya” consistency, but I don’t mind them cut up in soups or appetizers. So when we came across this recipe in our latest bon appétit magazine, Russ was hoping I’d agree to placing this on a weeknight menu—he adores clams!


Realizing he could eat all of the clams and I’d still have cod and corn, it wasn’t hard to win me over. The original recipe said it serves four, but we were hard pressed to see how. It almost vanished between the two of us, and I didn’t even eat any of the clams—with Mr. Hubby being the sole recipient of the entire dozen! In fact, Russ thinks you should add even more…

Coating the cod with flour before cooking prevents the flaky fillets from tearing; any bits left in the pan gives body to the clam mixture. Oh, and make sure to leave the shallots in the pan after removing the clams, you want them to get happy with the buttery corn. Verdict? Two thumbs up!

NOTE: When buying a big portion of cod or other skinless fish, you’ll often end up with the skinny tail end. Keep it from overcooking by folding the tail end underneath itself to create a piece that’s closer in thickness to the rest of the fillets. Then proceed to cook it as you would any other piece.

Skillet Cod, Clams, and Corn with Parsley

  • Servings: 2-3
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 1¼ lb. skinless cod fillet, cut into 4 pieces, patted dry
  • Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
  • ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped
  • ⅓ cup dry white wine
  • 12 littleneck clams, scrubbed
  • 2 medium ears of corn, kernels cut from cobs (1–1¼ cups)
  • 3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley
  • Lemon wedges (for serving)


  1. Season cod all over with salt and pepper. Sprinkle flour over a large plate and, working one at a time, press side of fillet where skin used to be into flour to thoroughly coat. Tap off excess and set on a platter, flour side up.
  2. Heat 2 Tbsp. oil in a large nonstick skillet with a tight-fitting lid over medium. Cook cod, floured side down, shaking skillet occasionally to prevent sticking, until flesh is opaque and starting to flake around the sides and underside is golden brown, 5–7 minutes.
  3. Carefully turn cod over and reduce heat to low. Cook until cooked all the way through (flesh should be completely opaque), about 2 minutes (thinner pieces may go more quickly). Place on platter, golden side up; take care not to break up the delicate fillets.
  4. Turn heat back up to medium, pour remaining 2 Tbsp. oil into skillet, and cook shallot, stirring often, until tender and golden, about 2 minutes.
  5. Add wine; cook until almost completely evaporated, about 1 minute. Add clams and cover skillet.
  6. Cook until clams open, about 5 minutes (some clams might take a few minutes longer).
  7. Uncover skillet and transfer clams (only), discarding any that didn’t open, to platter with cod.
  8. Reduce heat to low and add corn and butter to skillet. Cook, stirring, until butter is melted, sauce is thick and glossy, and corn is tender, about 3 minutes.
  9. Spoon corn mixture over fish and clams. Top with parsley; squeeze lemon wedges over.

Recipe courtesy Claire Saffitz of bon appétit

Dressing For Success

Tired of the same ol’, same ol’ salad dressings? Why not skip the processed bottled stuff and turn to a delicious homemade version that can be whipped up in minutes? Not only do these become the star of the show on any number of salads, but they’re also fabulous on chicken, fish, shrimp, as sandwich spreads and used as dips. Now that’s versatility!

For me, and I’m sure most of you too, summertime cooking is about ease and simplicity. And what fits that criteria better than a big healthy(ish) salad? Summer here in the Northeast U.S. is in full swing, with temps soaring into the 90’s, so a dinner salad without much fuss makes a lot of sense to me.

Back in mid-May, we grilled up a couple of gigundo porterhouse steaks for (one of) Russ’ birthday dinner, with ample portions leftover, so we figured it would make for a perfect weeknight salad. Then our recent Fine Cooing Magazine arrived in the mail, with an article of the same name as this blog, covering eight different homemade dressings. Serendipity I say! The Buttermilk Ranch Dressing seemed like the perfect companion, so that’s the one we went with.


Because salad dressings often contain small amounts of fresh herbs, it’s tempting to substitute dried. If you’re looking for vibrant flavor though, fresh herbs are the way to go. This ranch uses both, but if you have some fresh thyme on hand, go ahead and throw that in instead. The dressing improves with time, and the flavor is best if you can let it sit for at least an hour before serving. Store any leftovers in a glass container with a tight lid for up to a week.

If you’re lucky enough to have your own homegrown chives in bloom, snip off a flower and use as a garnish—they are edible BTW. This Buttermilk Ranch Dressing is great with vegetable crudités, perfect for upcoming parties and picnics.


And for yet another twist on ranch dressings to elevate your meal, try this tasty Avocado Ranch Dressing. Avocado provides the creamy richness of mayonnaise, with the arugula adding a bitter balance. It was a splendid topping on a Chicken Cobb Salad—and using a store-bought rotisserie chicken simplifies the process. You can also try it with crudités and chicken wings or use it in wraps. Recipe follows the Buttermilk below.


Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

  • Servings: makes 1 1/2 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/3 cup sour cream or crème fraîche
  • 2 tsp. grated yellow onion or 1/2 tsp. granulated onion
  • 1-1/2 tsp. lemon juice or white-wine vinegar
  • 1-1/2 tsp. minced fresh chives
  • 1-1/2 tsp. minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic paste or 1/4 tsp. granulated garlic
  • Pinch dried thyme
  • Pinch paprika
  • Kosher or fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. In a medium bowl, whisk the buttermilk, mayonnaise, and sour cream until smooth.
  2. Stir in the onion, lemon juice, chives, parsley, garlic, thyme, and paprika. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Serve or store in the refrigerator in a covered container for up to a week.

Avocado Ranch Dressing


Avocado Ranch Dressing

  • Servings: makes 1 1/2 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 1/3 cup mashed avocado (about 1 small)
  • 1/3 cup sour cream or crème fraîche
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 Tbs. minced fresh scallion
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic paste or a pinch of granulated garlic
  • 1-1/2 tsp. white wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbs. minced arugula
  • 1 Tbs. minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Scoop the avocado and sour cream into a blender or food processor.
  2. Add the buttermilk, scallions, and garlic. Purée until smooth.
  3. Transfer the avocado mixture to a small bowl. Stir in the vinegar, arugula, parsley, and 3/4 tsp. salt. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  4. Serve or store in the refrigerator in a covered container for up to 1 week.

Both salad dressings recipes courtesy of Erin Coopley from Fine Cooking

Bookmark This for a Weeknight Dinner Duo

Pan-Seared Pork Chops with Apricot-Dijon Sauce packs a LOT of flavor with little effort. Actual cooking time will depend on how thick your chops are, so keep a close eye on the meat temp because you don’t want them to dry out. Ours were about 3/4″ thick and took a total of 8 minutes, although Russ started checking after 6 minutes.


Our simple tabbouleh-inspired green peas and farro side was a perfect companion to the seared pork chops. The original recipe by Christine Burns Rudalevige from Fine Cooking indicates to use bulgur, but since we didn’t have any—and our pantry was full of just about every other type of grain—we substituted Italian Farro. I can’t tell you enough how much we really liked this side dish!

Just to be safe, I cooked the farro according to package instructions and used homemade chicken stock which boosted the flavor to yet another level. And instead of draining the liquid over the peas, I added the peas to the hot farro keeping them both warm until the meat sauce was in it’s final reduction.


Here’s the lowdown on bulgur versus farro. One cup of cooked bulgur contains 151 calories while a cup of farro contains significantly more with 340 calories. A cup of cooked farro also contains about 2 grams of fat, compared to the less than 0.5 gram of fat in a cup of cooked bulgur. But farro is a star in terms of protein with about 14 grams per cup, while a cup of cooked bulgur contains 5.6 grams of protein. If you’re looking for a way to increase your intake of essential nutrients, farro is a better choice than bulgur.


Pan-Seared Pork Chops with Apricot-Dijon Sauce

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 4 boneless pork loin chops, 1 inch thick
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp. vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup unsalted chicken stock
  • 3 Tbs. apricot preserves
  • 3 Tbs. apple-cider vinegar
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp. finely chopped fresh sage


  1. Season the pork well with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the chops and cook, flipping once, until well browned and cooked through (140°F), 7 to 8 minutes total.
  3. Transfer to a platter, tent with foil, and let rest while you make the pan sauce.
  4. Reduce the heat to low, add the stock, and cook, stirring and scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pan, until the liquid is reduced by half, about 8 minutes.
  5. Add the preserves, vinegar, mustard, and sage, and whisk until smooth.
  6. Add the juices from the resting pork, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
    (We also reduced the sauce again here for about 5 minutes to thicken it.)
  7. Serve the chops with the sauce.
    IMG_6266Pork chop recipe by Lynne Curry from Fine Cooking

Green Peas with Bulgur, Garlic, Fresh Herbs, and Feta


Green Peas with Bulgur, Garlic, Fresh Herbs and Feta

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled and halved
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1-1/2 cups medium-grind bulgur
  • 6-1/2 oz. (about 1-1/2 cups) frozen peas
  • 1/2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
  • 2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • Kosher salt and coarsely ground black pepper
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped fresh tender herbs (preferably a mix of parsley, chives, and mint)
  • 3 oz. crumbled feta (about 3/4 cup), more to taste


  1. In a small saucepan, simmer the garlic in the oil until golden, 5 to 6 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl.
  2. Put the bulgur and 5 cups water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Cover, reduce to a simmer, and cook until tender, 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, put the peas in a colander in the sink. Drain the bulgur over the peas, and rinse under cold water.
  4. With a fork, mash the garlic to a paste. Whisk in the lemon zest and juice, honey, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. pepper.
  5. Add the bulgur and peas, and toss. Add the herbs and feta and toss again. Season to taste with salt and additional feta, and serve warm or at room temperature.


Blue Danube

Danube so blue, I’m longing for you.
You murmur of home, far over the foam…

Well, not hardly. In fact, not at all.

On a short road trip into the back streets of Trenton with gal-pal Jeremy, we patronized Blue Danube, an old-world rowhouse restaurant featuring Hungarian and German food. The only body of water in proximity is the Delaware River several blocks over, and the color is nowhere near blue. Jeremy had eaten here a few times and said the food was memorable—the neighborhood, not so much. She was spot on, on both accounts.

IMG_6143The Blue Danube sits at the corner of Elm and Adeline streets off of Broad.

Since it was Friday the 13th, I secretly crossed my fingers that when we emerged from eating, her car would still be there. It was, and the weekend night life was just starting to get underway. But that’s someone else’s blog, so I’ll concentrate on our dining experience.


The restaurant’s main door (on the side) opens to a small, but well-stocked bar, where when we arrived, three elderly folks were enjoying cocktails, while another couple stood in the miniscule waiting area to get seated. We on the other hand, had a reservation and were shown to our table right away. The two small dining rooms consist of only about eight to ten tables total, and for a Friday night, oddly several of them were still available.

As described by Karla Cook of the NY Times “…it’s an old-timey restaurant where the knickknacks are layered, the flowers are silk and the glasses don’t match. But the soft-focus food hugs you from the inside.” This Eastern European-Continental formula is a recipe for success—at least where the food is concerned. Blue Danube is all about paprikas, wiener schnitzel and goulash, spätzle and mititei, plus cabbage and pierogies. Yes, there are some Italian and Americanized options too in the case of a picky eater.


Let me just preface the menu by saying if you’re in the mood for mesclun and artisanal goat cheese with balsamic vinaigrette, don’t go to Blue Danube. Trendy it’s not. And don’t be in a hurry, because everything is made to order and the service is slow. The upside of that is, at least one doesn’t feel rushed.

Starters consist of about a dozen cold (i.e. Stuffed Cherry Peppers, Pickle Platter) and hot (Danube Sampler for Two, Turoscuza) choices, and a few homemade soups. The reasonably-priced main dishes are listed under Old World Classics (which include soup or salad), Steaks & Chops, Chicken and Veal Entrées, plus Pastas and Seafood Specialities. So “When in Rome” as the saying goes, we concentrated on the Old World Classics.

Dining companion Jeremy (above left) took some time deciding but finally landed on the Taste of Europe: a large platter loaded with stuffed cabbage, pork schnitzel, pierogies, and homemade sausage on a bed of cabbage and sauerkraut, garnished with a generous dollop of sour cream. As if you need more, the entrées come with a choice of sides and Jeremy chose the red cabbage. Let me tell you, she LOVED her dinner.


Our side salads were nothing out of the ordinary in looks, but they tasted amazing! And no, those are not french fries on top…

While Stuffed Cabbage is not a typical choice for me, it seemed to be calling my name that evening. The three melt-in-your-mouth cabbage rolls made with pork, beef and rice, are slow cooked and smothered with tomatoes, sauerkraut and shredded cabbage and come with either pierogies or kielbasa—I chose the latter. While my entrée was very good, the side of spinach cooked to the consistency of baby food, was way overdone to my liking, although it was tasty.


Their desserts run the gamut from Tiramisu, to Apple Strudel, to Savarina and Parfaits and Sundaes. Too darn full—and with take-home doggie bags—we didn’t even consider ordering more food. But on our way out Jeremy noticed a young couple sharing a very large sweet treat, which when asked, they told her was the Tiramisu, indeed enough for two!

As we emerged onto the streets, the evening was growing dark, our stomachs were full, and the car was intact. All-in-all, not a bad dining experience…