It took a long time for me to learn to cook. My mother always wanted to teach me, but I was always either busy or uninterested. Does that sound like a lot of you? Don’t you wish your mom or grandmother had written down the recipe for the dish you remember and love so much? Oh, if I had that time back! 

Luckily, I did get some time to learn with my mother. I think she was surprised and happy when I finally showed an interest in cooking. I like to think of this blog as an homage to my mom, she would have enjoyed it very much. I know there was so much more that she could have taught me; I think I could have taught her a few things I have learned as well. Like roasting potatoes and vegetables. Her meals always took a long time to cook, so she would have enjoyed learning a few wonderful quick tricks.

Roasting anything is my favorite fast and easy way to get dinner on the table. It also brings out the full flavor, with a depth of caramelization which will delight your taste buds.

The potatoes in this recipe are coated with fresh oregano, infused with lemon zest and juice, and topped off with Parmesan cheese. Have I got your attention yet? I hope so, because they are just that wonderful. They are roasted to perfection and come out of the oven with a beautiful golden crispy outside and a tender, delicate inside.

This is definitely one of those recipes you will preparing again and again. It is full of fresh flavor and you may even find you will be eating more potatoes than you planned to! Put this on your “short on time” repertoire and thank me later.

This recipe will feed about 4-6 people who will be thrilled with it’s caramelized, cheesy goodness! Definitely A “must-try”.

Ingredients for Parmesan Roasted Potatoes

5 potatoes, peeled and cut into wedges or large cubes
1/3 cup olive oil
Zest of 1/2 lemon
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp. salt
1/2 tbsp. pepper
1 tbsp. oregano, or 4 sprigs fresh oregano, chopped
1 cup Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 450° F.

Put potatoes in a large bowl. 

Add lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and pepper.

Drizzle in oil.

Place 1/3 cup of Parmesan cheese in and toss well  to combine all ingredients.

Spread potatoes in a single layer in a 2-inch deep pan or a large aluminum pan.

Roast potatoes in oven until they are golden brown, about 40-45 minutes. (You want to make sure they are well browned on top).

Take out potatoes and sprinkle the remaining amount of Parmesan cheese on top.

Place back in oven for about 15 minutes, or until cheese has melted.

It’s that simple!

I love soup any time of the year, but since we are stepping into autumn, I thought it was a good time for a soup recipe. It is an unusual one, as most people have not yet experienced the joy of eating a parsnip.

A parsnip is a root vegetable, most closely resembling a carrot in its shape and origin. It has a cream colored skin and becomes sweeter the longer it remains in the ground. It is high in dietary fiber, contains antioxidants, anti-inflammatory and antifungal ingredients.  

When roasted, it takes on this magical sweetness that becomes almost addicting. I usually peel and cut it into cubes, mix it with olive oil, salt and pepper, place it on a baking sheet and roast it at 450F for about 40 minutes. The more brown and caramelized it becomes, the sweeter it is.

This soup is as fast and easy as it is wonderful. Combined with the onions and potatoes, the parsnips have a sweet and smoky flavor that is both satisfying and enjoyable.

This recipe is courtesy of Kosher By Design, by Susan Fishbein, and will serve 8-10 people who will love this unusual vegetable.

Ingredients for Parsnip Bisque

2 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 spanish onion, diced
3/4 celery stalk, diced
1-2 garlic cloves, minced
6 medium parsnips, peeled and diced
2 Idaho potatoes, peeled and diced
8 cups chicken or vegetable stock
Freshly ground black pepper
Fresh chives, optional

In a large pot, heat the oil over medium heat. 

Add the onions and sauté about 6-7 minutes or until translucent. Add the celery, and garlic; sauté 2 minutes longer.

parsnip soup onions

Add the parsnips, potatoes and chicken or vegetable stock. 

parsnip soup parsnips

Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low; simmer about 30-35 minutes or until the vegetables are very tender.

parnip soup chicken broth

Let cool.

Transfer the soup in batches to a blender and puree. You can also use a handheld immersion blender to puree the mixture until smooth. 

Season with salt and pepper.

For extra smoothness, you can strain the soup through a fine chinois.

Garnish with fresh chives in the center of each bowl, if desired.

It’s that simple!

My choice of cookware is enameled pots. I started using them many years ago. They can be pricey, but they are so worth it. You can now find them in stores like Home Goods at more reasonable prices. I started my collection slowly, buying one or two pots a year, and now I am hooked. I rarely use my stainless steel pots anymore for a number of reasons.

They burn easily and are very difficult to clean.

The enamel pots, on the other hand, clean easily, and rarely require overnight soaking.

In addition, enamel pots are made from a cast-iron or steel base and then coated with porcelain enamel to give the pan a smooth, non-stick surface. This coating is made from natural clay that has been baked and glazed to make it very hard and durable.

I have found that stainless steel pans are a poor conductor of heat, and, as a result, food tends to cook unevenly. They also contain some elements that may interfere with the taste of the food.

Enamel pots, however, combine the heat distribution benefits of iron with the non-stick properties of enamel. Foods cook more evenly and do not contain properties that interfere with the taste of the food.

Buy one for yourself. I know you will notice the tremendous differences between the stainless steel and the enameled pot. I think you are going to be hooked too!

This recipe has turned a beet-hater like me into someone who actually enjoys them. The sweetness of the dark brown sugar combined with the tartness of the orange juice makes the beets as wonderful as popping a piece of candy in your mouth. I used golden beets for this recipe, but you can use the red ones as well. 

I hate to peel beets (don’t forget to put on gloves), but I love this recipe enough that I would gladly peel them again. It is scrumptious and worth every minute. Peeling and steaming the beets take the majority of the time required  for this recipe. Once the beets are done, the process goes quickly. Take a look at this recipe; how is that for short and simple? 

This recipe is courtesy of eating and will serve 6 people who will be popping them into their mouths like bonbons!

Ingredients for Brown Sugar-Glazed Beets

3 cups peeled, steamed cubed beets, 1/2 to 1-inch cubes
3 tbsp. dark brown sugar
2 tbsp. orange juice
1 tbsp. unsalted butter
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

Place beets in a steamer in a pot with 2 inches of water. Steam on high heat for 15-20 minutes. 

Brown Sugar Beets in pan steaming

Combine brown sugar, orange juice, butter, kosher salt and pepper in a large nonstick skillet.

Brown Sugar beets sugar and orange juice

Cook over medium heat until the sugar and butter are melted and starting to bubble.

Stir in the beets and cook until most of the liquid has evaporated and the beets are coated with glaze, about 6-8 minutes.

Brown Sugar Beets in pan with brwon suagr and orange juice

Serve warm.

It’s that simple!

Jenna eating corn

I love the long, lazy days of summer which lend themselves to spending more time outdoors and less time in the kitchen. I don’t find myself cooking that much lately, and when I do, I look for quick, simple dishes. 

This is one of those recipes I find myself making over and over. It is a new and delicious way to enjoy mashed potatoes. The addition of the peas, chives, and dill make it really unique. I love taking a simple dish like mashed potatoes and doctoring it up until it becomes something special. It is like taking a winter recipe and turning it into a summer delight. What could be better than that?

The majority of time in this recipe is spent boiling the potatoes. You can save time by boiling them ahead. Just to note: these potatoes are intended to be slightly lumpy, which is why they are mashed by hand, along with the peas.

The combination of flavors in this recipe truly makes it special. And you already know what I think about the lemon zest! These potatoes make a beautiful presentation. They are elegant and so perfect for a weeknight summertime side dish. You are going to be overjoyed when you try this recipe!  (You can let me know what you think of it by dropping me an email; I would love to hear from you)!

This recipe is courtesy of It will serve 4 people who will love this new twist to mashed potatoes!

Ingredients for Smashed Potatoes

1 1/2 lb. of Yukon Gold potatoes
1 clove garlic, chopped
6 oz. (1 heaping cup) thawed, frozen peas
1/3 cup of olive oil
1/4 cup scallions, finely chopped
3 tbsp. dill, finely chopped
2 tbsp. chives, finely sliced
2 tsp. lemon zest
Kosher salt and Pepper to taste

Bring 1 1/2 peeled and quartered Yukon Gold potatoes and 1 clove garlic to a boil in water well seasoned with kosher salt. (I did not even peel the potatoes!)

Cook until tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

Just before draining add the peas and cook until heated through, about 1 minute.

Drain, return to the pot and coarsely mash. Stir in 1/3 cup of olive oil, scallions, dill, chives and lemon zest.

Smashed peas and potatoes in pot

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

It’s that simple! (It really is, isn’t it?)

large planter in yard

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