lime-cilantro pasta salad

Lime-Cilantro Pasta Salad

As a regular reader, you’ve probably noticed that I am particularly fond of sugar and butter, which, unfortunately, is not good for me nor my waistline. That’s why I am excited to find recipes as healthy and tasty as this pasta salad.  With luscious mangoes, creamy avocados, sweet tomatoes and bell peppers, I’ve found a great way to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into my diet.

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meyer lemon pudding with chantilly cream, raspberries, and pistachios

Meyer Lemon Pudding

Are you looking for a light and refreshing dessert, perhaps for Easter brunch or a springtime garden party? Why not serve this Lemon Pudding in pretty little cups or goblets? Dress them up with some lightly sweetened cream, raspberries, and a sprinkling of pistachios and you’ve got a simple, yet beautiful treat that can be made ahead of time. The bright meyer lemon flavor is just right, slightly tart and not very sweet. I love raspberries and lemon together, not only for their delicious flavors, but also for their striking color combination. It is a pairing that definitely screams spring!

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pink grapefruit granita

Pink Grapefruit Granita

Do you have a routine that became a routine before you even realized it?  Well, over the past few months, I have developed a habit of eating a bowl of ice cream while watching television. You and I both know this is a hard habit to break, but I think at least I found a healthier substitute.

The French call it granité. In Italy, it is known as granita siciliana, where it is eaten any time of day, even for breakfast with a brioche. The rest of us  know it simply as granita, a frozen dessert made with fruit juice or purée, coffee, or wine that is sweetened with simple syrup. It has a grainy, yet delicate texture, similar to shaved ice, and bursts with intense flavor and melts as soon as it hits the tongue.  It is often served as a light dessert, especially nice after a heavy meal, or as a palate cleanser between courses.

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sumo citrus slices with crème fraîche, pistachios, and mint

Sumo Citrus

Sumo Citrus.  Have you heard of it? I hadn’t until I walked into Whole Foods a couple of weeks ago and was greeted with a beautiful display of these uniquely-shaped and brightly-colored fruit with a thick, dimpled peel and distinctive “top knot”. These large mandarin oranges are seedless, easy to peel, and very sweet. They’re juicy, but not so much that the juice drips down your arm when you peel them like some oranges can do.

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blood orange hazelnut muffins

Blood Orange Hazelnut Muffins

We’ve all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, right? Well, if I had these muffins, I’d eat breakfast every day. Heck, I’d eat two breakfasts a day. Unfortunately, this type of logic doesn’t follow healthy dietary guidelines, so I go without breakfast on some mornings and relish the days that I can indulge.

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cocktail hour: harvey wallbanger

Harvey Wallbanger

In the ’70s, disco music ruled the airwaves and, on television, Charlie’s Angels solved crimes without messing up their perfectly feathered bangs. Leisure suits, platform shoes, and bell bottoms were in fashion. Fondue, salad molds, and pigs-in-a-blanket were staples at parties. Cocktails like the Tequila Sunrise, Rusty Nail, and Piña Colada were all rage in the ’70s, but none were as popular as the ubiquitous Harvey Wallbanger, known as the decade’s signature drink. A Harvey Wallbanger is essentially a Screwdriver (orange juice and vodka) with a float of Galliano®, an Italian herbal liqueur made with 30 different spices.

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endive stuffed with goat cheese, blood orange, and walnuts

Endive Stuffed with Goat Cheese, Blood Orange, and Walnuts

I was first introduced to this light and refreshing appetizer about ten years ago (thanks, Auntie R), and I have been making it ever since. The stuffed endives look elegant, and they are a breeze to make. They’re perfect to serve at dinner parties since all the components may be prepped ahead of time and then quickly assembled right before guests arrive.

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orange ricotta pancakes with kumquat and candied ginger compote

Orange Ricotta Pancakes with Kumquat and Candied Ginger Compote

Growing up, part of our weekend routine included my mom’s pancakes.  My brothers and I loved the way she made them, stacked up high with a pat of butter on top and clear syrup dripping down to the plate. We would watch her cook them, eagerly awaiting the bubbles to form on top, signaling that it was time to flip. We would tease my brother, and laugh about how the dimple on one side of his cheek resembled a bubble on the pancake. Then, we would eat our breakfast, all together as a family, before we were all off in different directions – my parents shuttling my brothers to their Little League games and me to my organ lesson or to the library.
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spicy clementine beef stir-fry

Spicy Clementine Beef Stir Fry

While citrus are available year round, many varieties are at their peak of flavor in winter.  Among them is one of my favorites, clementine oranges. These little “cuties”, at their best right now, are super sweet, juicy, naturally seedless, and easy to peel.  Clementines are delicious on their own or in desserts, but I think they are even more sensational in savory dishes. Their sugary, tart flavor compliments the salty and spicy notes of this delicious stir-fry.

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meyer lemon pudding cakes

lemon pudding cakes

Am I the last dessert-obssessed person to find out about pudding cakes? Better late than never, I suppose. If, like me, you have been living in a cave or under a rock somewhere and have never had these before, trust me. You’ll be a fan. These little beauties are both cake and pudding in one!  Brilliant, right? You can see the two distinct layers – a soufflé-like cake on the bottom and a soft, custard-like pudding on top.

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rosemary orange olive oil muffins

I don’t often make regular-sized cakes. It is well-documented here that I prefer to make cupcakes, muffins, or other miniature-sized desserts. I find them to be more portable and, as a result, easier to serve at social gatherings. Also, I love how cute they look and that they come out of the oven in individually-sized portions. However, I decided to make a “proper” cake when I ran across this recipe since I had featured olive oil muffins not that long ago. So why did I post a picture of muffins at the top of this post, you ask? Where’s the cake? Well, read on…

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olive oil muffins

These muffins, courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis, sounded so good and unique that I just had to make them. The recipe called for both olive oil and balsamic vinegar, ingredients not commonly found in muffins. Don’t worry, these two flavors are subtle, not overpowering at all. The balsamic vinegar complements the sweetness of the muffins, and the olive oil imparts a fruity flavor. While vegetable or canola oil are not unusual in baking, olive oil is not often used because of its distinct flavor, but in this recipe, however, the olive oil is a great addition.
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meyer lemons: pasta with lemon, olive oil, and goat cheese

The meyer lemon is a key ingredient in this easy, yet delicious pasta dish. In less than 30 minutes and with only a few ingredients, you can make this totally satisfying meal.  It is another versatile dish that can be served simply as is with a side salad or a piece of bread, or dressed up with some chicken breast, grilled shrimp or salmon.  Lemon thyme, parsley, or basil would also make great additions to this pasta, not only for added flavor, but for color, as well.  The meyer lemon, less acidic and sweeter than regular lemons, shines through and brightens the flavor of this no-cook sauce and the goat cheese adds a tanginess as well as creaminess.  This recipe is a good one for me to have in my repertoire of quick and easy meals since it’s a good one to make especially after a long day at work and what feels like an even longer commute home.  It really can’t get any easier that this to prepare a home-cooked meal.

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