Posts in the Soups, salads, and sides Category

potato skin

Wow, these kids really keep me moving! I’m back to school and teaching three cooking classes a week. No sooner did we finish Dessert Smoothies, than we jumped into Twice Baked Potatoes. These potatoes are super kid-friendly, easy to make and really versatile (Hosting a tailgating party? Check. Hosting your new vegetarian neighbors? Check. Hosting the entire soccer team after a big win? Check). Filled with broccoli and cheddar cheese, they are also a whole meal stuffed into a potato skin. Did I mention they are a great after-school snack?

My kids often come home from school quite hungry. Their first impulse is to grab a bag of chips, cookies or Gatorade. Sadly these things just make them more tired and irritable. I have been working hard to teach them about making good food choices and why certain foods are better than others. This is the time when kids need a good boost of energy to get them through the rest of their day. Here is a list of the types of foods that are especially nourishing to our bodies and some healthy snack ideas (my kids helped me to make this top 20 list):


  • A large glass of water. Dehydration can make kids feel tired and sluggish. More often than not they are not drinking enough water during school hours. Try adding some fresh mint, a few cubes of watermelon, or orange quarts to the water to give it great flavor without any sugar.


  • Complex carbohydrates. Whole grain foods provide long lasting, consistent energy.


  • Nuts.  These little babies offer lots of heart healthy fats, are high in fiber and are a great source of energy.


  • Protein.  All the cells in our bodies need protein. They build, maintain and repair all the tissues in our bodies. Muscles, organs, and our immune system are all made up of protein.


  • Fruits and Vegetables. They are filled with necessary vitamins and nutrients. They are also a powerful source of anti-oxidants.


Top 20 Healthy After-school Snacks:

  1. Hummus or white bean dip, carrot sticks, and whole grain pita chips
  2. Guacamole with lentil or rice chips or whole grain quesadillas
  3. Edamame with sea salt
  4. Fruit kabobs with cinnamon yogurt dipping sauce
  5. Whole grain toast with almond butter and banana
  6. Sliced apple and peanut butter
  7. Gorp or trail mix
  8. Homemade fruit smoothies
  9. Greek yogurt with fresh fruit and granola
  10. Vegetable fried brown rice (with extra eggs!)
  11. Rice cakes with cream cheese and cucumbers
  12. Whole grain toast with smashed avocado, lemon juice and salt
  13. Oatmeal with bananas and maple syrup
  14. Pizza crackers
  15. Kale chips
  16. Homemade granola bars
  17. Turkey pinwheels
  18. Pumpkin pancakes
  19. Tuna melts

potato skin


4 medium Idaho potatoes

2 tablespoons butter

⅓ cup milk

⅔ cup cheddar cheese (⅓ goes into the potato mixture and ⅓ is used to top each potato)

1 small crown of broccoli, trimmed to florets, well steamed (about 8-10 minutes) and finely chopped

1-2 teaspoons kosher salt



Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Wash potatoes, prick several times with a fork and rub with olive oil. Place directly on the oven rack and cook 45-60 minutes. When done they will pierce with a knife without resistance. They should be firm (not wrinkly) and lightly golden brown from the oil.

Reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees.

Allow them to cool a bit and them slice potatoes in half length-wise. Scoop the potato flesh into a medium sized bowl, leaving about ⅛ inch of potato still inside the skin to help maintain the shape.

Into the bowl with the scooped out potato add the butter, milk, cheese, finely chopped broccoli, and salt. Mix well.

Lay the skins out on a baking sheet (you should have 8 skins). Take a nice scoop of the potato mixture and load up each skin. You should have enough filling to really “stuff” these. Once they are all stuffed, add a bit of reserved cheese to the top of each skin.

Return the skins to the oven for 5-7 minutes. They should be hot throughout and the cheese on top should be melted.




I’m still having fun creating new recipes for the elimination diet. A few weeks ago I posted a recipe for an Asian Kale Salad. At the time I was eating it daily (I truly post recipes for the things I eat the most). Once I started the elimination diet, I wasn’t able to eat soy or citrus anymore. After 2 weeks on the elimination diet I was craving this awesome salad and had to find a close second. Enter coconut aminos. It is a healthy alternative for soy sauce. And it hit the spot!

½ green Napa cabbage, shredded
½ red cabbage, shredded
½ bag shredded carrots
2-3 scallions, sliced
1-teaspoon sesame seeds, lightly toasted

1-teaspoon ginger, minced (I use the tubes from Gourmet Garden)
1-teaspoon garlic, minced (I use the tubes from Gourmet Garden)
1-teaspoon lemongrass, minced (I use the tubes from Gourmet Garden)
4 tablespoons rice vinegar
4 tablespoons coconut aminos (you can buy this at Mrs. Greens or Whole Foods)
½ cup toasted sesame oil


Add all the salad ingredients to a salad bowl. In a clean, glass jar, mix all the vinaigrette ingredients together. Pour some of the dressing on the salad and toss. Taste, season with additional dressing or coarse salt.


Asian Kale Salad

Every morning I drop the kids at school and hop on-line to scan my Facebook and twitter accounts. I get tons of posts for amazing recipes that make my mouth water. Recently I saw a post by for a beautiful chopped kale salad with edamame, carrot and avocado. I ran to the kitchen to see what was there, what I could substitute, and what I needed to buy. Here’s what I had: red cabbage, carrots, scallions, and peanuts. I ended up buying some lacinato kale (I think the least fibrous of the kales) and rushed back home to slice and dice. I changed the vinaigrette a bit, primarily because I love sesame oil, and ended up with a salad that was both familiar and fresh. I never made it to the table to sit down and eat, but instead held the plate up to the window, snapped off a photo, and dug my fork in to devour the salad. Good to the last bite!

1 bunch kale, thin sliced
1 cup chopped red cabbage
1 carrot, julienned
2 scallions, thinly sliced
*2-3 tablespoons peanuts, chopped (for garnish)

2 tablespoons rice vinegar (apple cider vinegar works well too)
1-tablespoon fresh lime juice
1-tablespoon soy sauce
1 clove garlic, minced (I like to use a microplane)
1-teaspoon honey
Pinch of red pepper flakes
¼ cup sesame oil


Add all the salad ingredients into a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix all the ingredients for the vinaigrette except the oil. Slowly drizzle the oil into the vinegar/lime juice mixture while whisking. Add the dressing to the salad and mix well. Garnish with chopped peanuts.


quinoa pilaf

With summer right around the corner, we are all starting to look forward to some fun and sun at the beach. Every summer we spend some time in the Hamptons, NY. So much has been written about the Hamptons (the good, the bad, the ugly), but for me, I really enjoy the family time, beautiful days at the beach and wonderful food. They have amazing farm stands every few miles (some closer than that) and each one has something special to offer.   One of our favorite farm stands is Balsams in Amagansett. They have the very best corn, plus beautiful, fragrant, ripe fresh fruits and vegetables. We load up our baskets with zucchini, tomatoes, peaches, basil, and peppers (corn gets it’s own basket because we buy about 20 cobs at a time). One of our favorite salads to make is a vegetable packed quinoa. It’s a perfect side for a picnic lunch at the beach or any backyard BBQ. Cindy, who helps take care of my kids, has been hard at work to perfect this salad (we’ve been cooking side by side for the past 7 years). I thought we should call it Hamptons Quinoa Salad, but she thinks Quinoa Pilaf works better. Whatever the name, this salad is a winner!

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 red onion, small dice
8-10 oz.mushrooms, halved and thinly sliced
1/2 red pepper, small dice
1/2 yellow pepper, small dice
1 zucchini, small dice
3-4 kale leaves, rib removed and small chopped
3 cups cooked quinoa
1 bunch basil leaves, chiffonade

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup olive oil
Salt and pepper


Heat a medium sized skillet and add the oil.  When hot, saute the onions 1-2 minutes (don’t brown).  Then add the mushrooms, peppers and zucchini and lightly saute.  Add the kale until just wilted.  Season with a bit of salt and pepper.  In a large bowl add the quinoa, cooked vegetables, and basil.  Slowly add in some of the vinaigrette.  Taste, season, and serve.


thai coconut red curry soup

Every now and then I get a serious food craving. Sometimes it’s for a warm sourdough baguette with Fromager d’Affinois cheese, or spaghetti with a fresh summer tomato sauce just lightly sautéed with garlic, olive oil, and a spoonful of red chili pepper flakes, or maybe a really rich, chewy, chocolaty brownie. Is your mouth watering yet? Mine is!

So this week I got hit with a craving for Thai Coconut Soup made with sweet coconut milk, tangy lime and shrimp (I ended up using calamari and loved it). A friend of mine (Emily that’s you) just made a version from Blue Apron and was really happy with the outcome. A few swift keystrokes later, I had the basic idea of how to put this soup together. As it turns out, I had most of the ingredients in my pantry, save for the fresh lemongrass and shrimp. I headed over to the local Asian market to pick up these last few ingredients. Turns out they had calamari, but no shrimp. How serendipitous for me as the calamari was a great success in the soup. It totally hit the spot . . . 4 servings and 2 pots of soup later.

(Serves 4)
1-tablespoon canola oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1” piece ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
2 stalks fresh lemongrass, outer layers removed and sliced on a bias

1-13.5 oz. can lite coconut milk (plus the same amount of water)
2 scant tsp. red curry paste (I like the brand MAE PLOY)
1-tablespoon fish sauce (look for no MSG, like KA*ME)

1-tablespoon canola oil
½ red pepper, diced
8 white button mushrooms, thinly sliced
8 shitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
8 baby Bok Choy, thinly sliced (or 1 regular Bok Choy, well cleaned, they can be sandy)
Salt and pepper
1 lb. fresh calamari (well cleaned, they can be sandy too)

2 scallions, thinly sliced
2 limes, zest and juice (I know the price of limes has increased recently, I think 1 lime zested and cut into quarters would be enough)
*Bean sprouts (optional garnish)

Heat oil in a medium sized pot, and add the garlic, ginger and lemongrass. Sauté just about 2 minutes or until you can smell the flavors. Add the coconut milk, water, red curry paste, and fish sauce. Stir, then simmer about 10 minutes to make your coconut milk broth.

Heat oil a large sized soup pot and add the red peppers, mushrooms, and bok choy. Season the vegetables lightly with salt and pepper (the red curry paste and fish sauce are both salty, so don’t add too much more salt). Sauté just a few minutes, as they will continue cooking in the broth. Place a strainer on top of this large pot and pour the coconut milk broth through the strainer and over the vegetables. Add the calamari and simmer the soup about 5-7 minutes.

Remove the soup from the heat, and using a microplane, zest 1 lime directly into the pot. Serve the soup in bowls with fresh scallion on top and ½ lime on the side. The lime juice elevates this soup from good to great!