Everyone has their “go-to” recipes when dinner has to be on the table in a short amount of time.

I know I have mine! It is usually a main dish with a vegetable that is roasted simply with some oil, garlic and lemon. 

From the time my oldest son was a child until he was a teen, he would only eat pizza or pasta with butter and parmesan cheese. My younger son was more adventurous, and would happily try anything. When you are raising two different kids, you gotta do what you gotta do.

My kids, who are adults now, still enjoy my ‘go-to” recipes and ask me for them often. But now I do my best to change it up a bit and diversify their palettes. Of course, starting this blog helped a lot, and I am happy when I see them trying something new.

This recipe is perfect if you want to brave and introduce something special. The caramelization of the cauliflower after roasting gives this dish a wonderful depth of flavor. The raisins add lovely texture, and a sweet surprise. The capers compliment it with a salty jolt, and the breadcrumbs bring it all together to make this dish as wonderful as it is unique.

This recipe is courtesy of Epicurious, and will serve 8-10 people who will love this extraordinary combination of flavors.

Ingredients for Cauliflower with Capers, Raisins, and Breadcrumbs

1 large head of cauliflower (2 pounds), cut into 2″ florets
6 tbsp. olive oil, divided in half
Kosher Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 tbsp. salt-packed capers: soaked, rinsed and patted dry
3/4 cup breadcrumbs
1/2 cup low-salt chicken broth
1 tsp. anchovy paste (optional)
1/3 cup golden raisins
1 tbsp. white wine vinegar or champagne vinegar
2 tbsp. chopped flat leaf parsley

Preheat oven to 425F.

Toss cauliflower florets with 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large bowl; season mixture with salt and pepper.

Divide cauliflower mixture between 2 large rimmed baking sheets, spreading out in a single layer.

Roast, tossing occasionally, until cauliflower is golden and crispy, about 45 minutes.

*Do ahead: Cauliflower can be made 4 hours ahead. Let stand at room temperature. Reheat before using.

Meanwhile, heat remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil in a small saucepan over medium-low heat.

Add garlic and cook, stirring occasionally until they are just golden, about 4-5 minutes.

Add capers and cook until they start to pop, about 3 minutes.

Add breadcrumbs and toss to coat.

Cook, stirring often, until breadcrumbs are golden, 2-3 minutes; transfer breadcrumb mixture to a plate and set aside.

Add chicken broth and anchovy paste (if using) to same saucepan.

Bring to a boil.

Add golden raisins and white wine vinegar and cook until almost all the liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes .

Remove from heat and set aside.

*Do ahead: Breadcrumb and raisin mixtures can be made 2 hours ahead. Rewarm raisin mixture before continuing.

Transfer warm cauliflower to a serving bowl. Scatter raisin mixture over, then toss to distribute evenly. 

Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Sprinkle cauliflower with breadcrumb mixture and parsley.

It’s that simple!

It is so cold here; I really could spend all of my time indoors just cooking. But there are errands to run, people to see and things to do. So, each day I’ve gone out and the thought of spring coming soon has carried me through.

It’s not that I hate winter, I actually love snow, but this kind of cold is not for me. One of my new obsessions is hot sauce. Not only does it go great on eggs, chicken, vegetables and seafood, a little spice also helps me warm up on days like these.

So, I decided to make a sauce that I could use to coat cauliflower and bake in the oven.

I didn’t want to make the sauce too hot, as my other family members have a low threshold when it comes to spiciness. By combining a red chili sauce with a sweet chili sauce, I made a new flavoring that is delicious and can be enjoyed with any vegetable. What’s really great about this recipe is you can use as much hot sauce as you would like!

By dipping the cauliflower in panko crumbs first, you will have a dish that is crunchy, spicy and sweet, all at the same time. It should be roasted in the oven at a high temperature for 25-30 minutes, ensuring a thoroughly crispy outcome. The result will be an oven-baked, healthy side dish, perfectly flavored with a delicate, yet savory sauce. These tasty, crispy morsels of goodness are impossible to resist. 

This recipe will serve 4-6 people who may become serious hot sauce lovers.

Ingredients for Hot and Sweet Cauliflower

1 head cauliflower, cut into bite sized florets
2 cups panko bread crumbs
3 large eggs, whisked
2 tsp. sweet chili sauce
1 tbsp. sriracha sauce
1 tbsp. honey
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp. lime zest
Juice of 1 lime
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

Preheat oven to 450F.

Dip the cauliflower pieces in the egg.

Roll cauliflower pieces in the panko.

Set aside.

In a medium sized bowl, combine the sweet chili sauce, sriracha sauce, honey, garlic, lime zest and juice. (Depending on how much cauliflower you have and how much sauce you want, you may want to double the measurements)

Twirl the cauliflower pieces in the sauce, making sure to evenly coat them.

Season with salt and pepper.

Place the cauliflower on a baking sheet.

Place sheet in oven and roast for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown.

It’s that simple!

Let’s talk food for Super Bowl Sunday!

The final game of football season should be enjoyable for everyone. While I am not a big fan of the sport, I do love having all my friends and family over. I simply prefer to be in the kitchen cooking and chatting while my guests watch the game. 

When creating their menu, most people think: pizza, sloppy joes, chili, chicken wings or hoagies. This may not be a “traditional” recipe for the big game, but if you like to serve something healthy you’re going to want to add this to your selection.

I will definitely be preparing the basics as well this year, but it is nice to have a couple of healthy alternatives, especially for friends who are vegetarians.

I know there are also a lot of vegan eaters out there, so this recipe is perfect for you, too! Veggie balls are a great appetizer you can use for any occasion that everyone will happily indulge in. When I first started making them, my family would never have thought to choose them over chips and dip or pigs in a blanket. However, after making them for many different occasions these have become a fam-favorite!

Do not let the amount of ingredients intimidate you. Do your prep (mise-en-place) and these veggies balls will come together in no time at all. What’s even better: you can make them ahead of time and they freeze beautifully.

Go ahead and make these, they are so uniquely delicious your guests will be talking about for many Super Bowls to come!

Just a note: The pictures show more amounts than the recipe calls for – I was making them for Thanksgiving and I had to make 100!

This recipe is courtesy of “The Meatball Shop” cookbook by Daniel Holzman and Michael Chernow. It will make 24 servings for your family and friends who will be sure to become veggie ball lovers.

Ingredients for Veggie Balls

2 cups lentils
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp. olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1 tbsp. chopped fresh thyme
2 tsp. salt 
3 tbsp. tomato paste
8 ounces button mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced
3 large eggs
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/2 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh walnuts

Combine the lentils and 2 quarts water in a medium stock pot and bring to a boil over high heat.

Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the lentils are soft, (but not falling apart), about 25 minutes.

Drain the lentils and allow to cool.

Add 1/4 cup of olive oil to a large frying pan and sauté the onions, carrots, celery, garlic, thyme and salt over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes, until the vegetables are tender and just beginning to brown.

Add the tomato paste and continue to cook, stirring constantly, for 3 minutes.

Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, for 15 more minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed.

Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and allow to cool to room temperature. 

When cool, add the lentils to the vegetable mixture.

Add the eggs, parmesan, bread crumbs, parsley, and walnuts to the cooled vegetable mixture and mix by hand until thoroughly incorporated.

Place in the refrigerator for 25 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 400F.

Drizzle the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil into a 9 x 13-inch baking dish and use your hand to evenly coat the entire surface.

Set aside.

Roll the mixture into round, golf ball size “meatballs” (about 1 1/2 inches), making sure to pack the vegetable mix firmly.

Place the balls in the prepared baking dish, allowing 1/4-inch of space between the balls and place them in even rows vertically and horizontally to form a grid.

Roast for 30 minutes, or until the meatballs are firm and cooked through.

Allow the meatballs to cool for 5 minutes in the baking dish before serving.

It’s that simple!

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!

This is an elegant side dish that caught my eye because, (of course), the lemon sauce. Do not be intimidated by the ingredients or the directions . When you break them down, they are really quite simple to follow.

I was originally uncertain how the lemon sauce would taste. I had never used lemon peel to prepare a lemon dressing. But I trusted Lydia, and I ended up loving this fragrant, savory sauce.

The Brussels sprouts combine beautifully with the garlic and red pepper flakes. Be careful when heating the Brussels sprouts. The leaves are very delicate, and therefore, easy to overcook. Immediately take them off the heat when they become a beautiful bright green color. Remember, they will continue to cook for a short time after you remove them from the heat, so allow time for that.

Lydia writes in her notes that the lemon sauce can be made earlier in the day and reheated. The Brussels sprouts can be prepped ahead as well.

The addition of the lemon sauce gives this dish a tangy flavor that will delight your taste buds! This recipe is perfect for company or any week-night dinner (when you have a little extra time).

This recipe is courtesy of Lydia Bastianich, from her book, Celebrate Like an Italian, and will serve 4-6 who will relish the taste of this beautiful vegetable and luscious sauce.

Ingredients for Brussels Sprouts with Lemon Sauce

Lemon Sauce:

Peel of two lemons, removed with a vegetable peeler
1/3 cup of lemon juice
5 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
2 medium onions, cut into 1-inch chunks
1/2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes
2 tbsp. extra- virgin olive oil

Brussels Sprouts:

1 1/2 pounds firm, unblemished Brussels sprouts
3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, sliced
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper flakes

For the lemon sauce:

In a medium saucepan, combine the lemon peels and juice, garlic, onions, salt, red pepper flakes and 1 1/2 cups of water.

Cover and cook it at a gentle simmer for 20 minutes.

Uncover, and simmer a bit more rapidly until the onions are very tender and barely covered in liquid, about 20 to 30 minutes more.

Scrape the contents of the pot into a blender, and carefully blend as you drizzle in the olive oil through the hole in the top, until smooth.

Return to the sauce pan, season with salt if necessary, and keep warm.

For the Brussels sprouts:

Trim any rough or yellowed outer leaves. 

Seperate the leaves from the base of the sprouts, cutting the base as needed to free the leaves.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

When the oil is hot, add the garlic, and let it sizzle until just golden brown around the edges, about 1 to 2 minutes.

Add the sprout leaves, and season with the salt and crushed red pepper flakes.

Toss to coat in the oil, cover, and cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until the leaves begin to wilt, about 4 minutes.

Toss with tongs and cover the skillet again.

Cook until the leaves are wilted and tender, but not falling apart, about 4 to 5 minutes.

Increase heat to boil away any liquid in the pan.

To serve, spread 1/2 cup of the lemon sauce on a platter and mound the Brussels sprouts on top.

It’s that simple!