‘Shortcut Baked Rigatoni with Meatballs’

Recipe Courtesy of Food & Wine Magazine

Everyone loves a shortcut. Especially when the final product is  decadent baked pasta like this one…the shortcut here is that you assemble a pan of simple, uncooked ingredients–pop it in the oven, and voila. Dinner is served! Store-bought rigatoni, marinara sauce, fresh mozzarella, fresh basil, and easy-to-assemble meatballs are layered in a 9×13 dish, water is added, and that is all the effort this comfort dish requires. Seriously! No hand-on cooking involved. Serve this baked pasta alongside roasted broccoli or a simple side salad and believe me, everyone at your table will be superbly pleased.

(To view this recipe, click on the following link: http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/shortcut-baked-rigatoni-meatballs)

Baked Trout Amandine

Naturally a mild and flaky fish, rainbow trout is a great accompaniment to a lemony butter sauce studded with sliced almonds. A classic French preparation for trout, my version of Trout Amandine is baked and not pan-fried, making for a more hands-off approach that is equally as tasty.  Simply season your fish and then top each fillet with sliced lemons, chopped parsley, almonds and a couple dots of butter. Bake for 15-18 minutes, or until flaky and delicious. I like serving this with a warm lentil salad or even a side of lemony orzo pasta, studded with green peas.

(To view this recipe, click on the blue title of the blog post above*)

‘Chicken with Escarole & Warm Mustard Dressing’

Recipe Courtesy of Better Homes & Gardens Magazine

A simple warm mustard dressing slightly wilts a fresh salad of escarole leaves and fresh fennel–while also flavoring perfectly browned chicken cutlets.  Such a healthy and delicious dinner idea that pairs perfectly with a brown rice pilaf studded with nuts and fresh herbs, along with a glass of dry Riesling.

(To view this recipe, click on the following link: https://www.bhg.com/recipe/chicken-with-escarole-and-warm-mustard-dressing/)

‘Seared Veal Chops with Peas, Scallions & Pancetta’

Recipe Courtesy of Melissa Clark’s Dinner: Changing the Game Cookbook

Even though all signs point to 6-more weeks of winter weather, that doesn’t mean that we can’t dream of Spring with dishes like this one, right? Picture this: seared, thick pork or veal chops served with a warm spring pea salad made with crispy pancetta, scallions and lemon juice really does brighten up the dinner table.  And if there are no fresh spring peas in sight quite yet? Use sliced snap or snow peas instead.  Whichever meat you choose, whichever pea-variety you decide on, one thing is for sure: this dinner comes together in just about 25 minutes and is best when served with buttermilk mashed potatoes or even a nice white rice pilaf.

(To view this recipe, click on the blue title of the blog post above*)

Baby Spinach Salad with Blood Oranges, Pine Nuts, & Roquefort Cheese

High in natural antioxidants, blood oranges are truly a produce gem this time of year! Beautifully colored, these lovely citrus fruits are a healthy snack, lovely when juiced into a cocktail, and make a stunning addition to a simple salad like this one. Simply arrange baby spinach or baby kale greens on each plate, and top with toasted pine nuts (pistachios would also work nicely), slices or segments of blood oranges, rich blue cheese of your choosing, and a drizzle of a simple yet refreshing lemon vinaigrette.  Elegant, simple yet very impressive.

(To view this recipe, click on the blue title of the blog post above*)

Pork & Spaghetti Squash Stir-Fry

This colorful, low-carb stir-fry combines fragrant sesame oil, soy sauce, and sliced garlic with crunchy sliced sweet peppers, snow peas and scallions.  And for the protein? Crumbled ground pork that becomes infused with all of those Asian-inspired flavors.  You can certainly serve this pork and veggie stir-fry over rice or even noodles, but try it over strands of spaghetti squash for a modern, and healthier approach.

(To view this recipe, click on the blue title of the blog post above*)

‘Salad Pizza’

Recipe Courtesy of Bon Appetit Magazine

Oh what a delight! Picture this: your favorite pizza crust baked with a fragrant garlic oil until puffed and lightly browned, then topped with a refreshing Bibb lettuce salad. It’s like your pizza and side salad all-in-one!  The salad is not only tender leaves of Bibb lettuce, but also thin sliced of prosciutto, quick-pickled red onions, crumbled blue cheese, snipped peppery chives and a red wine vinaigrette.  I decided to also add some halved multi-colored cherry tomatoes to the top of the salad pizza, simply for extra color and for their natural burst of sweetness.

(To view this recipe, click on the following link: https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/salad-pizza)

Creole Pecan Pie

Happy Valentine’s Day!  I like to make a special-something-sweet each year on Valentine’s Day. This year I settled on a Southern classic–my Creole Pecan Pie.  Easy to make and adored by all, don’t forget to have some vanilla or chocolate chip ice cream on hand as well…it is a must.  You might be asking yourself what makes this specific version of pecan pie ‘creole’?  Well in addition to the buttery pie crust filled with southern pecans and the gooey mixture made with light corn syrup, cane and brown sugars, and vanilla, is the addition of bourbon and some grated orange zest.  The orange zest adds a nice citrusy sweetness to the rich pie, and the bourbon does what bourbon is supposed to do…liven everything up a bit!

(To view this recipe, click on the blue title of the blog post above*)

‘Slow Cooker Red Beans & Rice’

Recipe Courtesy of Louisiana Cookin’ Magazine

On this fine Mardi Gras day, you should embrace the spirit of the festivities and cook a classic Cajun or Creole dish. Do you love gumbo? Go for it! Craving a sweet King Cake? Get to baking! Wanting to use some of those dried beans in pantry? How about a hoppin’ john or red beans and rice like this one? The beauty of this version of a classic pot of creamy red beans, fluffy white rice and spicy sausage is that is is slow-cooked in the crock pot.  The beans need to be soaked overnight of course, but in the crock pot itself this dish will be ready in about 4 hours time.  A perfect pairing for any of these classic Louisiana dishes is your favorite Abita beer and of course, a dash (or four) of your favorite hot sauce.

(To view this recipe, click on the following link: https://www.louisianacookin.com/slow-cooker-red-beans-rice/)

‘Carrot Soup with Coconut Milk’

Recipe Courtesy of Michael Anthony’s V is for Vegetables Cookbook

This bright orange bowl of yummy carrot soup has several layers of complimentary flavors.  Carrots, yes–but also sauteed fennel, onions, and garlic.  A splash of orange juice as well, which is always a great addition to any dish that involves carrots and/or fennel.  The liquid for the soup can be veggie stock, water or even chicken stock: dealer’s choice.  And we’re not done yet!  A touch of fragrant coconut milk added right into the milk before everything is pureed to smooth adds an unexpected creaminess and flavor.  Top each bowl with some diced red radishes and some fresh herbs, if desired.

(To view this recipe, click on the blue title of the above post*)