September 28, 2012

It's All About Roasted Veggies

I love roasted veggies!  They are super easy to make, and they are great on their own or as an ingredient in another dish.

They also meet all five of my requirements for a great weekday meal:  (1) healthy; (2) doesn't taste healthy; (3) very little hands-on time; (4) my husband's not afraid to make it or I can make it ahead of time; and (5) I can have it on the table within 15 minutes of getting home (even if my husband didn't help).  I usually make them once or twice a month on a Sunday.  That way I can play with my son while the vegetables cook in the oven.  When they are done, I pack them away and warm them up for dinner another night. 

I am a big fan of zucchini and potatoes because the leftovers taste great in a frittata, but I try to mix it up.

Regardless of the combo of vegetables, I follow a simple formula:
  1. Preheat Oven to 425 Degrees Fahrenheit
  2. Cut/Prep vegetables
  3. Toss vegetables in a little olive oil and salt
  4. Roast for 30 to 60 minutes. 
The exact cooking time depends on the vegetables involved. 

Leftover Magic:
  • Make a frittata using leftover roasted zucchini and potatoes
  • Add leftover veggies to pasta
  • Toss leftover veggies, with avocado, romaine lettuce, and a balsamic vinaigrette for a quick salad
  • Add your favorite homemade (or jar of) tomato sauce to leftover veggies (I do this often with zucchini or a zucchini/corn mixture).
  • Puree leftover veggies to make Barefoot Contessa's Roasted Vegetable Soup (and freeze extra).

Roasted Salmon Nicoise

(based on Barefoot Contessa's Roasted Salmon Nicoise Platter)

This recipe is a regular on my dinner menu rotation during the spring and summer.  It is also a dish worthy of company.  When I want to be fancy I put it on an actual platter, so that everyone can pick and choose what they want on their plates.  But if I'm just making a meal for my family, because I know what they will and will not eat from the plate, I will assemble the "platter" on each person's dinner plate.  

Salad Ingredients:

  • 1/2 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 fresh salmon fillets
  • 1/2 pound small Yukon gold potatoes
  • 1/2 pound frozen haricots verts
  • 2 tomatoes, cut into wedges (optional)
  • 3 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and cut in quarters (Trader Joe's sells premade ones!)
  • 1 bunch spinach or butter lettuce
  • 8-10 green Spanish olives, pitted

Dressing Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp orange muscat champagne vinegar (from Trader Joe's)
  • ½ tsp Dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp cup good olive oil


1.    Preheat the oven to 500 Degrees Fahrenheit.
2.    Make the Marinade - In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, lemon zest, olive oil, mustard, garlic, salt and pepper.
3.    Place the salmon on a sheet pan that has been covered in aluminum foil, and drizzle the marinade over the salmon.  Let it marinade for 15 minutes. 
4.    Place the potatoes in a large pot of salted water.  Bring the water to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 25-35 minutes, until the potatoes are fork tender.  When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut them in quarters and set aside.
5.    Place the salmon in the oven and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, or until it is almost cooked through.  Remove to a plate and allow it to rest for 15 minutes.  Break into large pieces and remove any skin.
6.    Follow directions on package of frozen haircots verts to defrost. 
7.     Make the vinaigrette:  In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper, then slowly whisk in the olive oil.
8.    Arrange the salmon and olives on the platter (or if serving directly on dinner plates, divide among the plates).
9.    In a large bowl toss the green beans with a little bit of the vinaigrette, and then place the green beans on the platter (or plates).  
10. In the same bowl toss the potatoes with a little bit of the vinaigrette.  Place the tossed potatoes on the platter (or plates).
11. In the same bowl, continue to toss each main ingredient separately (eggs, spinach or lettuce, tomatoes if using) with a little bit of the vinaigrette.  Place each ingredient on the platter (or plates) after tossing.

Leftover Magic:
I usually make this dish on a Sunday so that I can enjoy making it without feeling rushed.  I figure that if I am already taking the time to cook the green beans, hard boiled eggs, and potatoes, etc., I might as well make a little extra.  Here is how to work leftover magic: 
  • Make Green Beans and Tomatoes with the leftover green beans and tomatoes (just cook the extra green beans with chopped Roma tomatoes (and salt, to taste) in a saucepan on the stove top and stir occasionally until the juices from the tomatoes are reduced.  I do this the same night I make the Nicoise salad (usually while we are eating the salad for dinner) so that I can just warm this up during the week for an easy weekday meal).
  • Make Healthy-ish Mashed Potatoes with the leftover potatoes.
  • Add leftover potatoes to Roasted Vegetable Frittata. 
  • Add leftover hard boiled eggs to salads for lunch or dinner throughout the week.

It's All About Israeli Couscous

I love Israeli couscous.  Because I am always short on time, I typically cook a large batch of it on a Sunday.  Then I give it quick makeovers throughout the week (for lunch and dinner) - to try to squeeze at least three different meals from it.  Here are some of my favorite ways to dress up this grain:
  1. Applies and Dried Cherries
  2. Zucchini Onion Mixture
  3. Roasted Zucchini (just mix leftover roasted zucchini into couscous, warm, and serve)
  4. Sauteed Pepper (just like the Zucchini Onion Mixture, except you saute diced peppers and onion in a pan instead of zucchini and onion). 
  5. Lentils (just mix cooked lentils into the couscous, warm, and serve)
  6. Plain
  7. Greek (Zucchini Onion Mixture and Feta Cheese, and sometimes I add kalamata olives).

September 23, 2012

Rosh Hashana - Part Two: The Food

If I've learned one thing since becoming a mom, it's that when you entertain, you should keep things simple.  So when it came time to planning the menu for our Rosh Hashana dinner, I stuck with dishes that were really good, but also really easy to make.  I also used my chafing dishes to keep the warm dishes warm so that I didn't have to wait to the last minute to put everything out (and I didn't have to keep reheating the dishes before guests went back for seconds and thirds).

The Dinner Menu:
  • Gefilte Fish
  •   Israeli Salad
  •  Butter Lettuce Salad with Beets and Corn
  •  Round Challahs
  •  Green Beans with Tomatoes
  •  Israeli Cous Cous with Lentils
  • Sweet Potato Apple Bake  

  • Brisket

The Dessert Table 
A Rosh Hashana dinner is full of sweet symbols for a sweet new year.  So I figured it was appropriate to have a sweet table, full of sweet things.

  • Cheesecake Stuffed Strawberries (I doubled the recipe that I found here).  These were a huge hit, and so simple to make.  The only thing I would do different next time, is that I used a ziplock bag with the corner cut off to fill the strawberries and it was really messy.  Next time, I would use a real piping bag or a spoon.

  • Chocolate Lacies (store purchased)
  • Meringue Cookies (store purchased)
  •  Grapes

  • Chocolate Moose
  • Chocolate Covered Strawberries
  • Apple Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream
  • Apple Pie Pops (from a recipe I found here - I used frozen Pillsbury pie crust and they came out great). 

September 22, 2012

Rosh Hashana - Part One: The Tablescape

One of my favorite parts of planning for a holiday, is figuring out the tablescape.  This year, I wanted something elegant and simple, so I stuck with silver, white, and green.

I found really inexpensive silver satin tablecloths (here), and I made simple centerpieces out of white hydrangeas and roses with some green accent flowers.  I had planned on using green orchids, but couldn't find them.  The smaller filler flowers worked just fine.

For the seating cards, I found small apples at Michael's and I cut out little leaves with everyone's name on them.  I punched a hole in each leaf and hung it on an apple.  (I am a big fan of seating cards for a formal holiday dinner - I don't have to deal with everyone asking me where to sit while I'm trying to get the food ready, and I can also arrange the seating in a way that ensures good conversations around the entire table).