Farro is an ancient whole grain, similar to barley and quinoa that has been eaten for many generations. Commonly found in Mediterranean, Ethiopian and Middle Eastern cuisines, farro has recently gained popularity as a great source of nutrition because it is fat-free, cholesterol-free, but not gluten-free. It is also a great source of iron and high in fiber and protein. Similar to barley, farro has a mild taste and chewy texture and is just plain delicious. Have I convinced you to try it yet?

Like other whole grains, farro is easy to cook. You may want to soak it overnight to shorten the cooking time, but you really don’t need to. It takes about 10 to 15 minutes if you soak it, and 25 to 30 minutes if you don’t.

I loved this particular recipe because of the different textures that were combined. The lemon zest added a tangy flavor and the crushed red pepper further enhanced the flavor with just the perfect amount of heat. You could also add some grated cheese or toasted pine nuts. Any way you make this recipe it will be wonderful! I am now a farro-lover and I think you will be too.

This recipe is courtesy of Michael’s Genuine Food. It will serve 4 people who may indeed, become farro lovers too!

Ingredients for Sautéed Broccoli Rabe with Farro, Crushed Red Pepper, and Lemon

1/2 cup farro
2 pounds broccoli rabe, ends trimmed, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves. minced
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Zest of 1 lemon 

Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil.

Add the farro, reduce the heat to medium-low, and cover.

Simmer until the farro is tender and the grains have split open, about 30 minutes.

Keeping the cooking water in the pot, remove the farro from the pot with a spider strainer or mesh sieve, put it in a colander, and rinse with cool water.

Set aside.

Bring the cooking liquid back up to a boil and season again with salt.

The farro will have soaked up much of the original seasoning.

Boil the broccoli rabe until just tender, about 3 minutes.

Drain in a colander.

Set a large skillet over medium heat and coat with the oil.

When the oil is hot, add the garlic and cook, stirring, for a minute to soften.

Add the broccoli rabe and red pepper; season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.

Toss the rabe to coat with the oil and cook until tender, roughly 5 minutes.

Add the drained farro, tossing to combine, and sauté for another minute until heated through.

To serve, place the broccoli rabe and farro on a nice platter.

Finely grate lemon zest over the top, preferably with a Microplane.

It’s that simple!

Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is an ancient crop that has been eaten by the South American people for 5,000 years. It means “mother grain” in the Inca language. While some people refer to it as a grain, it is actually a seed. It is gluten-free, comes in different colors and is just plain delicious.

This hardy little seed looks a little bit like couscous, but is smaller in size and crunchier in texture. Quinoa has many health benefits. It is rich in lysine, which promotes tissue growth throughout the body, has a very high range of anti-inflammatory benefits and is rich in nutrients such as iron, magnesium, vitamin-E, potassium and fiber. Have I convinced you to try it yet?

Quinoa is a very versatile  food. It can be used in soups, salads, side dishes, and stuffing. I loved this particular recipe because of the use of the browned butter and spinach. Actually, the original recipe called for arugula, but because I am not a fan of arugula, I substituted spinach. The author was kind enough to share some other ways of making yummy adjustments. For example, you could use whole wheat couscous, or cooked millet instead of quinoa. You could also add some grated cheese, which I did as well, or some dried cranberries or toasted pine nuts. Any way you choose to make this recipe, it will be wonderful!

This recipe is courtesy of Cook This Now and will serve 2-3 people who will become new quinoa enthusiasts!

Ingredients for Quinoa with Brown Butter and Spinach

1 cup quinoa
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 ounces spinach (about 4 cups)
3/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup grated Parmesan -Reggiano cheese

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.

Add the quinoa and cook until the center is opaque and the husks begin to loosen from the grain, 10 to 12 minutes. Drain well.

Melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat.

Cook until the foam subsides and the butter just begins to turn a nutty brown, about 2 minutes (watch it carefully to see that it doesn’t burn).

quinoa brown butter

Stir in the garlic and cook 30 seconds.

Add the spinach, 1/4 teaspoon salt and the pepper. 

Quinoa, spinach added

Cook, tossing until the greens are just wilted, about 1 minute. 

Stir in the quinoa and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and heat through for 30 seconds.

quinoa spinach and quinoa added

It’s that simple!

There are so many wonderful cooking tips out there that will help you become a better cook. Throughout the years, I have always looked for those words of wisdom that will help make the process a little easier. As a result, I have collected quite an array of culinary tidbits. I would like to share several with you and hope you find them useful.

1. When making a salad, you know you should always wash your vegetables. What is equally important, in my opinion, is to dry them. Yup. Dry them really well. No one likes a wet salad. 

2. Always dress a salad right before you serve it. Dressing it too early will make it soggy and unappetizing.

3. Many of you store your spices in a shelf near the stove. Don’t! Spices need to be stored in a cool, dark space. Light and heat will cause them to lose their flavor.

4. After boiling vegetables, always plunge them in an ice bath to stop the cooking process. This will ensure you get crisp, beautiful vegetables every time.

5. Never put oil in pasta water. The oil will prevent the pasta sauce from sticking. Also, pasta with ridges or curves is the best to use with sauces because the sauce will stay in the curves. 

6. Remove your meat from the refrigerator one hour before cooking. It needs to come to room temperature in order to cook evenly.

7. And one from Ina Garten: For best results when baking, leave butter and eggs at room temperature overnight (yes, she said overnight) . I have always said, refrigeration is over-rated. You don’t need to refrigerate as much as the cookbooks suggest. The authors say it for their own safety reasons, just as they tell you to cook meat to a certain temperature.

8. Always cook your meat 10-15 degrees less than what your cookbook indicates. The meat will continue cooking after you take it out of the oven. If you don’t, you will have unpalatable, overcooked meat.

I will include many more cooking tips in future posts. I hope they help!

Today’s recipe provides an outstanding way to cook rice. It is so light and refreshing. The lemon zest, along with the orange zest, give the rice a bright, fresh citrus flavor that will titillate your taste buds, making them dance with happiness!

This is a must-try. It offers a wonderful start to summer with its natural citrus flavors. It is perfect as an accompaniment to any main dish or just as a snack. I did not use as many onions as the recipe called for, but it came out beautifully.

This recipe is courtesy of Giada DeLaurentis and will serve 4-6 people who will love it so much it may become a family favorite!

Ingredients for Citrus Rice

Rice Salad:

1/2 cup sliced almonds
4 cups low sodium chicken stock
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 cups basmati rice, rinsed
3/4 cup chopped fresh felt leaf parsley
1 medium orange, zested
1 lemon, zested
1 cup thinly sliced green onions


1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (about 1/2 orange)
3 tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. honey
1 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
Kosher salt 
Freshly ground black pepper

Heat oven to 350.

Place oven rack in the center of the oven.

Arrange the almonds in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 5-6 minutes until golden brown.

Cool completely, about 15 minutes.

In a medium saucepan, bring the chicken stock, salt and oil to a boil over medium-high heat.

Stir in the rice. Cover the sauce pan, reduce the  heat, and simmer until all the liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender, about 40 minutes.

Citrus rice rice

Remove the pan from the heat and let sit for 5 minutes.

Using a fork, fluff the rice and place in a large serving bowl.

Add the parsley, orange zest, half the lemon zest, green onions, and 1/3 cup of the almonds

citrus rice rice parsley green onions lemon zest

Toss well.

In a blender, combine the olive oil, orange juice, lemon juice. soy sauce, honey and cumin.

Blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

citrus rice food processor

Pour the vinaigrette over the rice mixture and stir well.

Garnish with the remaining lemon zest and almonds.

It’s that simple!

banana plant flower

When I first got married, I did not know how to cook. I was working full time, and soon had a child. That’s enough to “squash” anyone’s desire to come home and first start cooking (as many of you working mom’s would agree). Five years after my husband and I were married, we moved to Florida, near my sister-in-law Shelley and my brother, Stan. Shelley told me she would make the Jewish holidays and I should make Thanksgiving. WHAT? I didn’t cook for myself, my husband and child; how could I possibly make a holiday that many people would attend?

That was not even the worst of it. Shelley and her mom Julia were the best cooks I knew! Ugh! Nervous did not come close to describing how I felt. I was working full time. I had a kid. Make a holiday? Panic set in quickly. 

I don’t remember how many people came, maybe around 10-12. I am sure I must have called my mom to ask for some recipes. I started preparing the night before, and woke up very early that day to begin cooking. It was a crazy day for me, but I got it all done.

Shelley and her mother were very gracious guests. They told me everything I made was wonderful. Maybe it was, or maybe it wasn’t. I still felt very accomplished and basked in the glow of their praise. I did it! And, as it turned out, I enjoyed cooking very much. 

Who knew that 27 years later, I would still be making Thanksgiving. My family, no matter where they live, travel to my home. I feel honored that they all come and try to make it special each year. 

So if you are new to cooking, don’t be afraid, you will learn as you go. You will make mistakes, and that will be okay. Each time you cook, you will get better.  It will get easier and your cooking skills will expand and flourish.

Now let’s get onto the recipe for today. This is a wonderful side dish that has an interesting combination of ingredients. Its pleasant texture and creamy dressing is a wonderful accompaniment to any main dish. The dressing can be made in advance, so it would be a great dish to make for company or a holiday.

This recipe is courtesy of Bon Appetit and will serve 4 people who will love this refreshing salad with the creamy, yummy dressing.

Ingredients For Broccoli-Quinoa Salad

Buttermilk Dressing

3/4 cup buttermilk
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. vegetable oil (I omitted this)
1 tbsp. finely grated lemon zest
1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. unseasoned rice vinegar
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp. fine sea salt (or more to preference)


1 shallot, finely chopped
2 small heads of broccoli, cut into bite-size florets
1 cup white, red, or black quinoa
1/2 cup coarsely chopped parsley ( I would use less, about 1/4 cup, this overpowered the salad)
1/4 cup coarsely chopped tarragon

For the buttermilk dressing:

Whisk buttermilk, olive oil, vegetable oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, rice vinegar, pepper and 1 tsp. salt in a medium bowl. Taste and season with more salt if needed.

Broccoli quinoa dressing

(Dressing can be made 5 days ahead. Cover and chill).

For the salad:

Stir together shallot and 2 tablespoons buttermilk dressing in a small bowl. Set aside.

broccoli quinoa shallots and dressing

Cook broccoli in a large pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 1 minute. Using a slotted spoon, transfer broccoli to a bowl of ice water; let cool.

broccoli quinoa broccoli cooking

Drain and place on a kitchen towel-lined baking sheet.

Meanwhile, return water in pot to a boil and cook quinoa until slightly al dente, about 12 minutes; drain.

Toss quinoa and 2 tablespoons buttermilk dressing in a large bowl to coat; season with salt. Let cool.

broccoli quinoa quinoa with dressing

Add dressed shallot, broccoli, parsley, tarragon, and 2 tablespoons buttermilk dressing to quinoa and toss to combine. Season with more salt if needed.

It’s that simple!

My construction is finally over! It was a long 5 months, and I’m so glad to be back! My goal was to be back in business by Thanksgiving, and thankfully, all went fairly smoothly. Sure, there were a few glitches, but overall, I can’t complain.

A week before Thanksgiving, (a holiday at which I host 50 people), my house was still a construction site! It was challenging, but somehow we managed to get the house clean and ready for the holiday. Whew! Glad it is over! 

Enough of that, let’s talk about cooking. I missed writing my blog and I am so happy to be back!

I found this chicken recipe online, but made so many changes that I now consider it one of my own.

Many recipes do not call for browning or crisping the skin first. I think this is one of the most important steps in any chicken recipe. Nothing beats chicken with a crisp, caramelized skin. This will add only 10 minutes to the cooking time, yet yields  a wonderful texture and enticing flavor to any chicken dish. If you can, try to spend the extra time to brown it, it is so worth it.

Although this recipe is made with couscous, you can make the balsamic chicken with any grain such as barley or farro. I prefer to use chicken broth instead of water to prepare it. The chicken broth will add a nice dimension of flavor.

I love this recipe. The chicken thighs are so moist, accompanied by a delicious, uncomplicated sauce that makes this an easy go-to meal.

You can use this recipe with chicken breasts, but be sure to get bone-in breasts. They have much more flavor and will be tender and just as good.

This recipe will serve 4 people, but you want might to make a little extra. I am sure they will be asking for seconds!

Today’s Hint: For crispier skin on chicken, or for a better browning on meat, always pat them dry with a paper towel. If you leave any moisture on the chicken or meat, it will impede the browning process. Do not overcrowd the pan or your meat or poultry will steam and not brown! Remember, the brown part is always the best tasting part of the poultry or meat. It is also known as caramelizing, which ensures the best (and yummy) results.

Ingredients for Chicken

4 chicken thighs (or chicken bottoms (thigh and leg)
4 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup chicken stock
1-2 tbsp. sugar (optional)
2 cloves garlic crushed

Ingredients for Couscous

1 1/2 cups couscous
2 1/4 cups chicken stock
3 tbsp. margarine or butter
4 cloves garlic, chopped
3 tbsp. fresh oregano, finely chopped

Pat the chicken bottoms dry with a paper towel. Sprinkle both sides with a good amount of salt and pepper.

balsamic chick cous with salt and pepper

Place skillet on stove, over medium heat. Add chicken, skin side down. Let cook, without moving it for 6-7 minutes. Turn the chicken over and repeat on the other side for about 4-5 minutes.

balsamic chic cous skin browned

*The pan becomes hotter as it cooks, so the browning time for the other side will be less.

Set pan aside.

Prepare the marinade. Combine the vinegar, chicken stock, sugar and garlic in a shallow bowl. 

balsamic chic cous sauce

Place chicken in marinade 10 minutes for each side.

Prepare the couscous.

Boil chicken stock and pour over couscous in a medium bowl. Cover the bowl tightly with a plate or aluminum foil  and let it sit for 5-7 minutes, until all the liquid is absorbed. If you have any remaining liquid, just pour it out. Set aside.

Cut butter into small pieces (this will help it melt faster) and place in skillet (different than the one you used for the chicken) over medium-low heat.

Add the garlic and oregano and cook for 1-2 minutes. Be careful, you do not want the garlic to turn brown or burn.

Add the couscous into the pan and stir it for about 3-4 minutes. Set aside.

balsmaic chic cous cous cous

Add the chicken and the marinade back into the original pan and let it cook on medium-low for 10-15 minutes. The marinade will thicken.

balsamic chic cous chicken in sauce

Place couscous on a serving platter and pour the chicken and sauce over it.

Dinner served!

thanksgiving full table

It’s that simple!