Easter Brunch Americano


If you are hosting Easter Brunch, consider this departure from the usual Mimosa.  Martha Stewart featured this cocktail in her April issue and it is a winner!  I love the bitterness and vivid color of Campari. Martha’s recipe calls for a splash of club soda, but I think a splash of champagne or prosecco would really take this cocktail to the next level.  Thanks Dad for your help with quality control on this one.  This would be a terrific drink for brunch because you can easily double or triple it, make it in a pitcher and serve it as your guests arrive with no fuss.  The Americano is a distinctly Italian cocktail, created by the makers of Campari in the late 1800′s.  Apparently James Bond ordered one in Casino Royale.  Serves 1

  • 1 oz. Campari
  • 1 oz. sweet vermouth, such as Cinzano
  • splash of club soda
  • twist of lemon or orange

Fill a rocks glass with ice.  Pour in the Campari and vermouth, top with club soda (or other bubbles) and garnish with a twist.  To make a pitcher, just use equal parts Campari and vermouth and chill.  Top with club soda as you pour them.



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Spicy Coconut Broth


This broth is a wonderful base for your favorite vegetables, meat, or seafood. You can mix and match the veggies you like.  Toss in a few shrimp or some shredded chicken and you’ve got an incredibly healthy and satisfying soup.  Really good stock is important here, so if you don’t have some homemade stock, buy the best you can afford.  The heat can be adjusted by adding more chili sauce, or leaving it out.  Serves 4

  • 4 C. chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1-2 Serrano chili peppers, sliced thinly
  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk
  • 2 T. fish sauce
  • 1 T. soy sauce
  • 1-2 t. Sriracha or other red chili sauce
  • 3 t. brown sugar
  • 1 C. cilantro, chopped
  • pinch of salt to taste

Veggies to add:

  • I used 2 C. cubed Hubbard squash (any squash would work)
  • 1 C. asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 C. kale, shredded
  • lime wedges for serving

Heat the stock, peppers, coconut milk, fish sauce, soy sauce, chili sauce, brown sugar, and half of the cilantro in a soup pot over medium heat.  Bring it to a simmer and taste for seasoning.  Add a pinch of salt if needed. Toss in your veggies and simmer until tender, about 8 minutes. If you like, add in a few handfuls of uncooked peeled shrimp, or diced chicken breast, and cook just until done, about three minutes. Ladle into bowls and garnish with the rest of the cilantro and the lime wedges. A fresh squeeze of lime really brightens it up!








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Asparagus and Pea Salad with Fried Shallots


This is a welcome departure from your every day greens and dressing. I was inspired by a fava bean/asparagus salad recipe in Bon Appetit.  The salad is served cold, but be sure to save the frying of the shallots for the last minute- you want them to be extra crispy.  You know how chefs are always talking about peeling asparagus?  I never, ever peel my asparagus.  I snap off the woody end and get to cooking.  This time, I took the advice of Ina and Martha and peeled the ends of the asparagus with a peeler.  What a nice, elegant difference it made!   No stringy ends, and nothing stuck between the teeth either.

  • 3 T. olive oil
  • 1 T. parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • 1 T. fresh lemon juice
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 bunch asparagus (trimmed and peeled:)
  • 1 C. frozen, thawed peas
  • 3 T. vegetable oil
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced

Combine the olive oil, parmesan, and lemon juice with a whisk and season with salt and pepper, then set it aside.  Heat a saucepan of water to a boil and drop in the asparagus.  Cook for about three minutes, until just tender.  Rinse under cold water to stop the cooking.  Toss the thawed peas and cooked, cooled asparagus into a bowl with the dressing. Cover and chill.  Just before serving, heat the vegetable oil in a small skillet over medium high heat.  Fry the shallots until golden brown and crispy, about two minutes.  Use a slotted spoon to transfer them to a paper towel.  Top the cold salad with the hot shallots and serve.  A little sprinkling of crunchy Maldon salt at the end would be totes delish!

Posted in Gluten Free, Healthier Options, Quick Dinners, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Easter Recipe Round Up

One week until Easter.  Here are my favorite recipes and ideas for your holiday!


Coconut Easter Basket Cupcakes


Deviled Eggs Can be Chic


How To Make A Peeps Wreath


Easter Egg Dye From The Pantry


Apricot Glazed Ham


Spring Garden Deviled Eggs


Bacon and Egg Cupcakes



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Viola’s Cabbage Rolls


This is not a cooked cabbage leaf wrapped around a savory stuffing, this is cabbage and meat AS stuffing inside of a chewy, soft roll.  These are very similar to Russian pirozhki. I made these for the first time when my husband and I were newly dating.  He talked about his grandmother’s cabbage rolls with such affection that I knew I needed to give them a try.  I asked his mother for the recipe (written on a 3 x 5 card the way recipes used to be passed on) and went to work.  Viola’s recipe of course called for making a yeasted dough from scratch.  She was a strong, Midwesterner known for her economies in raising ten children.  Making your dough from scratch will no doubt save money.  For me the ease and mess-free method of buying ready-made dough trumps the cost.  It makes these doable for a Sunday afternoon.  I use a package of Rhodes frozen dinner rolls.  They come in a bag of 32 and they are the perfect size and shape for making these delectable cabbage rolls.  These will keep in the fridge for a week or in the freezer for months.  Reheat them in the oven to keep the bread from becoming sticky. The dough needs to thaw, so start these about three hours before you want to eat them.

  • 1 package of 32 frozen dinner rolls (I should seriously do a Rhodes commercial)
  • 2 t. vegetable oil or olive oil
  • 1 lb. ground beef or pork
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1/2 head of green cabbage, shredded
  • salt and pepper
  • cooking spray
  • flour for rolling dough


First you need to thaw the rolls- I like the speed method that’s printed on the package.  Heat the oven to 200 degrees. Place the rolls on a baking sheet.  When the oven gets to temperature, turn it off and place the rolls inside on the middle rack with a pan of hot water on the bottom rack.  The steam and heat thaws the rolls and keeps them from getting a skin.  The process takes about an hour to an hour and a half, and since the oven is turned off, you can run errands or whatever. When the rolls are thawed and have doubled in size they are read to use.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook the ground beef, onion, and cabbage until the meat is cooked and the cabbage is soft.  Season well with salt and  lots of black pepper. Set aside to cool.

When the filling is cooled you are ready to assemble the rolls. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a baking pan with cooking spray.  I used a 13 x 9 inch pan, you could also use a rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle a cutting board with flour and roll out one ball of bread dough into a round, flat pancake.  Spoon about 1/4 C. of meat/cabbage mixture into the center.  Fold the dough over, folding in the sides, and pinching to close it up, burrito style.  Place the roll into the pan, seam side down. Repeat until you run out of rolls, or run out of filling.

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I usually run out of filling and have about three rolls left, which I bake and devour, hot out of the oven and slathered in butter. Bake the rolls for about 18 -20 minutes, or until golden brown.  These make a great picnic lunch since they taste great at room temperature.

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Clams With Bacon And Pasta in White Wine Broth

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The best thing about coming home from a trip to the beach is coming home with some clams to cook for dinner.  Be sure to have some crusty bread on hand for dunking.  Serves 4-6

  • 1/2 lb. small pasta, such as shells, macaroni, or ditalini
  • 1 T. butter
  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 strips of bacon, chopped
  • 1 t. red pepper flakes
  • pinch of salt
  • 4-5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 C. white wine
  • 1 C. chicken or clam broth
  • 3 lbs. live steamer clams, rinsed
  • 1/2 C. Italian parsley, chopped

Get a pot of water boiling and cook the pasta according to the package directions.  Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven or stockpot, heat the oil and butter over medium heat.  Add the onion, bacon, red pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt and cook until the bacon is crisp and the onion is translucent, about 8 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook one minute more. Pour in the wine and broth and bring to a boil.  Boil for about two minutes.  Add the clams, cover the pot and cook until the clams are fully open, about four to five minutes. Scoop some pasta into the bowls and ladle the clams and broth over the top.  Garnish with the parsley.



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Guinness Braised Brisket


I wanted to make a traditional corned beef (it’s corned, not corn beef, I hate it when people say corn beef) for St. Patrick’s Day.  I am usually pretty good at planning ahead, but in this case I waited until the last minute.  You need two things for corned beef: time and saltpeter, neither of which I had.  Corned beef needs to brine for at least 5 or 6 days.  Saltpeter is what gives it it’s characteristic pink color.  Knowing I only had a day or two, I decided to skip the corned beef and go for a braise.  In keeping with the Irish theme of St. Patricks Day, I chose to use Guinness for the braising liquid.  The rich, silky sauce is addictive.  The total time for this dish is about 3 1/2 hours and serves 4-6.

  • 1 T. olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 3lb. beef brisket
  • 3 carrots
  • 3 celery stalks
  • 1 medium, yellow onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 handful chopped, fresh parsley
  • 1 handful fresh thyme sprigs
  • 2 1/2 C. vegetable or beef stock
  • 1 14 oz. can Guinness or other stout beer
  • 3-4 russet potatoes
  • 1/2 head green cabbage
  • 2 T. butter, softened
  • 2 T. flour

Heat the oven to 375 degrees.  Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat.  Season the brisket with salt and pepper on both sides.  Brown the brisket in the oil on both sides, at least four-five minutes per side, you want it nice and brown.  While the meat is browning, peel and dice the carrots, celery, and onion.  Remove the meat to a plate and add the carrots, celery, and onion to the pot with the drippings.  Use a wooden spoon to scrape up all the brown bits as the veggies are cooking. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or two.  Add the parsley and thyme and put the meat back in the pot.  Pour the stock and beer over the meat.  Cover and place the whole pot into the oven.  Cook for 1 hour and forty five minutes.  Turn the meat over, replace the lid and continue to cook for another hour.  Meanwhile, peel the potatoes and cut into two inch chunks.  Cut the cabbage wedge into large chunks as well.  Remove the meat to a plate.  Strain the cooking liquid into a saucepan and discard the veggies.  Bring the liquid to a boil.  Combine the butter and flour with a fork into a smooth paste and whisk it in a little at a time to the boiling liquid.  The sauce will thicken after about three or four minutes of boiling.  Place the meat, potatoes, and cabbage back into the big pot, replace the lid, and put it back into the oven while the sauce is thickening.  Increase the oven temp to 400.  Ladle a little of the sauce over the potatoes.  Cook about twenty five minutes, or until the potatoes are tender.  Remove the meat to a platter and slice across the grain.  Serve the meat with the potatoes and cabbage and pour the sauce over the top.

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