Thursday, May 8, 2008

Black Bean and Corn Salad

Monica Pileggi, January 2005
I found many bean and corn salad recipes. This is my version as I wanted something very low fat. I also calculated weight watchers points.

2 15.5oz canned black beans, drained and rinsed
2 15.25oz canned corn, drained
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, diced
2 celery stalks, sliced
2 teaspoons chopped green chilies
1 T. olive oilJuice of two limes
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground pepper

Combine all ingredients and chill overnight.

Make 8 1-cup servings (2 WW points) or 16 1/2 cup servings (1 WW points).

Mixed Greens w/Goat Cheese Rounds

This is a simple, yet elegant salad. I made this for New Year's Eve dinner.


1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 small shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons Dijon style mustard
1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley leaves
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/4 cup walnut oil

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients and whisk in the walnut oil until emulsified. Set aside or refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before using.

Salad Ingredients:

Mixed baby greens

In a large bowl, toss the lettuce with the vinaigrette. Place salad mixture on four individual salad plates. Top with two goat cheese rounds per plate.

Goat Cheese Rounds:

1 soft goat cheese log
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fine bread crumbs
1/4 cup almonds, ground

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut the goat cheese into 1/2-inch slices - eight slices total. Pour olive oil into a small bowl or saucer; dip goat cheese slices into olive oil and coat both sides of each cheese slice.

In another small bowl or saucer, combine bread crumbs and nuts; dip the goat cheese slices into the crumb mixture. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Place the cheese rounds on a lightly oiled baking sheet. Bake approximately 5 minutes or until the cheese softens slightly and the crust turns golden brown. Remove from oven and transfer rounds to individual salads (two per plate) with a spatula.

Serve immediately.

Serves 4


- I doubled the dressing recipe to have extra on hand for another night.
- I used an electric mixer to combine the salad dressing ingredients.
- The cheese rounds will be very soft, so take care when transfering them to the plates.

Salade de Moules a la Ciboulette (Mussels salad with chives)

Steve and Diane Woodard, August 2003, from their book, "When our Grandmothers Cooked in Provence"

This recipe called for 3 kg. We used two bags.
1 onion, minced
1/4 pt of dry white wine
1 pinch ground thyme
5-6 tablespoons of mayonnaise
3 dashes of hot sauce
1.5 dl/ 0.3 pt of the mussels cooking juice
15 twigs of fresh chives, minced
Salt & fresh ground pepper

Place the mussels in a pot of ice-cold water with about a handful of sea salt in the refrigerator overnight to remove as much sand grit as possible.

Clean the mussels and open them on a brisk heat in a large covered saucepan with the white wine, onions, and thyme for about 10 minutes.

Remove the mussels and let them cool down while you strain the pot juices for the sauce.

Take the mussels out of their shells. You may use an empty mussel shell as a tool to pluck the meat from the shells, like tweezers. Place the mussels into a serving dish.

In a bowl mix the mayonnaise, the cooking juice, and chives. Adjust the seasoning. Pour the sauce over the mussels and place it in the refrigerator.

Serve chilled.

Asian Cole Slaw

Green cabbage, shredded
Red cabbage, shredded
Carrots, julienned
Cilantro, chopped
1 1/2 T. jalapeno peppers, chopped
Chopped garlic
Ginger, finely chopped

3 T. peanut butter
2 T. soy sauce
2 T. white rice vinegar
1-2 tspn sugar
1/4 c. water
2 T. sesame oil

Place dressing in blender and process until smooth. I used 2/3rds green cabbage and 1/4 red cabbage, but you can use any combination. Combine all ingredients and toss with dressing and serve.

10-12 Servings.

Ceasar Salad Dressing

This is a recipe from my friend Carolyn Strycharz

3/4 cup olive oil
3-4 cloves of garlic

Marinate for 3 days.

Into a blender, add:

1 teaspoon dry mustard
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
3-1/2 tablespoons parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon worcestershire sauce
1 can anchovies, mashed
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Pepper to taste

Blend well.

Prepare romaine salad with croutons. Shake dressing well; add to the salad and toss. Serve immediately.

Serves 4.

Calamari and Shrimp Salad

My mother-in-law Millie makes this salad, which is fabulous!

1 Lb Calamari, cleaned and cut into tubes
1 Lb Shrimp, shelled, deveined
1/2 Small onion, sliced thin
1/2 Cup celery, cut on the diagonal
2 Lemons
Olive oil

In a pot, bring water to a boil. Boil the Calamari for no more than 30 seconds. Remove from water and place in a bath of cold water to stop the cooking. Do the same for the shrimp. (Or purchase frozen cooked shrimp and defrost in the refrigerator).

Place the seafood into a colandar in a bowl to drain, cover with wrap and place in the refrigerator until chilled and well drained.

Pat dry the seafood to make sure all excess water is removed. In a serving bowl, add the seafood, sliced onions, and celery. Squeeze the juice of the lemons over the salad. Add olive oil to coat along with some salt.

Mix well.

Refrigerate, covered, for a few hours to marinate. (I actually make this the night before, which helps to marinate the seafood).

8 to 10 servings.

Warm Beef Stir Fry Salad

From my friend June Baker. The recipe was adapted from "Yan Can Cook."

Beef can be served warm or at room temperature.

Soy sauce
Vegetable oil
Cornstarch dissolved in water
Chopped shallot
Chopped clove(s) garlic

2TB rice vinegar
2TB oil
1TB toasted sesame oil
Black pepper to taste

Other ingredients:

Salad greens
1/2 small red onion, sliced or chopped
1/2 cup julienned or sliced cucumber
1/2 cup cilantro leaves, chopped
1/4 cup basil, julienned
3/4 lb. flank steak, thinly sliced
Can baby corn

Combine marinade ingredients in a shallow pan. Add meat, and turn to coat. Let stand 30 minutes to 4 hrs in refrigerator.

Whisk dressing ingredients.

Place salad greens in serving utensil. Add onion, cucumber, cilantro, basil, baby corn.

Stir-fry beef with minced shallots and garlic in a little oil. Cook until brown on outside, but still pink within.

Arrange beef over salad.

Pour dressing over salad and toss.

Tuscan White Bean Salad

Monica J. Pileggi, November 2005

2 19-oz cans of Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

3/4 cup diced tomatoes

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/3 cup olive oil

3 T. fresh squeezed lemon juice

1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped

1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients and toss gently. Referigerate for several hours for the flavors to blend.

Serve with aTuscan style bread.

Crème de Poivrons Rouges (Cream of red peppers sauce)

Steve and Diane Woodard, August 2003, from their book, "When our Grandmothers Cooked in Provence"

1 lb to 1.3 lb Red peppers, seeded and diced
1 large onion, minced
2 garlic cloves
4 ripe tomatoes, peeled and seeded
2 oz. Double cream (You may substitute1% milk for 2 oz of double cream and consider this a Weight Watchers' modification)
Olive oilPinch of sugar (or Splenda)
1.5 dl/ 0.2 Pt of water
Fresh ground pepper

Brown the onions and garlic with 3 tablespoons olive oil over slow heat until they change color.
Add the peppers, tomatoes, and season with salt and pepper; add the water. Bring to a boil, and then cover and cook for half an hour.

Pour into a food processor with the cream and pinch of sugar. Blend and check the seasoning.

Serve this warm over fish, an omelet, hot vegetables, or serve cold over cold vegetables.

Cranberry-Apricot Relish

This is a recipe I found in the Bon Appetit magazine, probably from the mid 1990's. I make this recipe every other year and freeze half of it, as it makes a large amount.

1 large orange, quartered with peel
1 lb cranberries
1-1/2 cups white sugar
1/2 cup apricot preserves
1 8 oz. can crushed pineapple, drained
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Finely chop the orange in a food processor. Combine cranberries and sugar in a heavy saucepan.

Cook and stir over medium heat until cranberries just begin to pop, about 10 minutes.

Transfer cranberries to a bowl, add apricot preserves and mix until melted.

Stir in chopped orange, drained crushed pineapple and lemon juice.

Cover and refrigerate until well chilled.

Hazelnut Squares

3 cups hazelnuts
5 cups flour
2 ½ cups sugar
1 pound melted and cooled butter (do not substitute margarine or shortening)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the hazelnuts on a baking sheet and toast them for 8 minutes, or until fragrant. Cool the nuts and then chop them finely. Set aside.

Whisk together the flour and sugar. Add the melted butter and mix until smooth. Add the nuts and mix until incorporated. Spread the dough into a greased baking sheet. Bake for 22-25 minutes or until golden brown.

Cool slightly and then cut into small squares or diamonds. Store in an airtight container.

Makes about 50 squares.

Note: You can also drizzle melted bittersweet or white chocolate over the squares.

Danish Pastry

This is a recipe from Margaret Hansen, Mar 05, which she made for one of our rotation meals.

2 (8 count) cans crescent rolls
16 oz cream cheese, softened
1-1/4 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg yolk, beaten

Unroll the crescent dough. Spread the dough from one can on the bottom of a 9" x 13" baking pan, pressing the perforations to seal.

Add the remaining ingredients into a mixing bowl and mix with electric mixer. Spread over dough.

Lay the dough from the second can over the cheese mixture. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

14-16 Servings

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Spice Cookies

4-3/4 cups All-purpose flour

2 tablespoons Baking soda

3/4 teaspoon Salt

1/2 teaspoon Baking powder

2 teaspoons Ground cinnamon

1-1/2 teaspoons Ground ginger

3/4 pound (3 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 3/4 cups Sugar

2 Large eggs

1 teaspoon Vanilla extract

1/2 cup Molasses

1. Combine flour, baking soda, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, and ginger in a large bowl; sift, and set aside.

2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine butter and sugar. Beat, starting on low speed and increasing to high, until mixture is fluffy, about 2 minutes; scrape the sides of the bowl down once with a rubber spatula. Add eggs, one at a time, and vanilla; beat on medium speed until just combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition.

3. Turn off mixer. Add molasses, and mix on medium speed until just combined. Scrape sides of the bowl, and add dry ingredients. Mix, starting on low speed and increasing to medium high, until ingredients are just combined, about 30 seconds.

4. Transfer dough to a clean work surface. Roll the dough into four 1-1/2 inch diameter logs. Wrap in parchment or plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm, 1 to 2 hours.

5. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Unwrap, and slice each log into 3/8-inch-thick rounds. Place rounds on parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake until cookies crack slightly on the surface, 12 to 15 minutes. Remove from oven, and let cool on the baking sheet for 2 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

Makes about 6 1/2 dozen cookies.

Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce

This is a delicious bread pudding recipe from my friend Olivia Prokra (Sept 04).

10-oz stale French bread, broken into small chunks
4 C. milk
2 C. sugar
4 T. melted butter
3 Eggs
2 T. Vanilla
1 C. raisins
1 C. coconut, shredded
1 C. chopped pecans
1 t. cinnamon
1 t. nutmeg

Combine all ingredients, to be moist but not soupy. Pour into a buttered 9" x 13" baking dish. Place into a non-preheated oven. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 1 hour, 15 minutes, until the top is golden brown.

Serve warm with Bourbon sauce.

Bourbon Sauce

1/2 C. butter (1 stick, 1/4 lb)
1 egg yolk or whole
1-1/2 C. powdered sugar
1/2 C. Bourbon

Cream butter and sugar over medium heat until all butter is absorbed. Remove from heat and blend in the egg yolk. Pour in the Bourbon gradually, stirring constantly. Sauce will thicken as it cools.

16-20 servings.

Creme Brulee

4 cups heavy cream

1/4 cup granulated sugar

8 egg yolks

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 cup sifted light brown sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 275 degrees.

2. Place the cream in a double boiler and heat but do not boil. Add the sugar stir until dissolved.

3. Beat the egg yolks well and add the salt and vanilla extract. Stir the hot cream into the egg mixture. Pour the mixture into an oblong baking dish (10 x 6; or small ramekins). The custard should be about one and on-half inches thick. Place the dish in a larger dish and pour boiling water around it.

4. Place in the oven and bake about one hour, or until set. Remove from the oven and let stand until cool, then refrigerate until thoroughly chilled. Remove the custard from the refrigerator and sprinkle with an even, one-quarter-inch layer of light brown sugar.

5. Place the sugar-topped custard under the broiler. Cook quickly, just until the sugar melts and runs together. Return to the refrigerator until thoroughly chilled. Just before serving, shatter the glaze by tapping lightly with a knife.

8-10 Servings.

Chocolate Espresso Cookies

6 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons instant espresso powder
2 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Mix flour, baking powder and salt in small bowl. Stir bittersweet chocolate and butter in heavy large saucepan over low heat until melted. Remove from heat.

Using electric mixer, beat eggs, sugar, espresso powder and vanilla in medium bowl until well blended. Stir egg mixture into warm chocolate mixture. Stir in dry ingredients. Stir in chocolate chips and chopped walnuts.

Immediately drop dough by heaping tablespoonfuls onto nonstick baking sheets, spacing 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake until tops crack but cookies are still soft inside, about 12 minutes. Transfer baking sheets to racks; cool 5 minutes. Transfer cookies to racks; cool completely. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Store cookies in airtight container at room temperature.)

Makes 30

Apple and Whiskey Crème Brulee

2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and diced
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons superfine sugar, divided
2 tablespoons Irish whiskey
5 egg yolks
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup whipping cream
1 cup milk
3 tablespoons granulated brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter six 6-ounce ramekins.

Sprinkle the apples with the lemon juice to prevent discoloring. In a medium skillet over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the apples and 2 tablespoons of the superfine sugar and cook until the apples begin to soften, 2 to 3 minutes. Divide the apple mixture among the prepared ramekins.

In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, the remaining 4 tablespoons superfine sugar and vanilla together. Add the milk and the cream and whisk until well blended. Pour over the apples. Set the ramekins in a large baking pan and add hot water to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins. Bake until the custard is set, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool in the baking pan for 15 minutes. Remove from the water bath, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until serving time.

To serve, preheat the broiler. Sprinkle the top of each custard with ½ tablespoon brown sugar and place under broiler until caramelized, 3 to 5 minutes.

6 servings

Cream Cheese Flan

This is a delicious and easy dessert to make.

3/4 c. sugar

1 12-oz can evaporated milk

1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk

1 8-oz package cream cheese, softened to room temperature

5 large eggs1 t. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.Heat sugar in a small, heavy-duty saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir constantly, for 3 to 4 minutes or until sugar is dissolved and caramel colored. Quickly pour into bottom of a 2-quart casserole dish.

Place evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, cream cheese, eggs and vanilla in a blender; cover. Blend until smooth. Pour mixture into the prepared casserole dish.

Place casserole in a 13x9-inch baking dish; fill baking dish with warm water to 1-inch depth. Bake 1 hour and 15-25 minutes or until knife inserted comes out clean. Remove flan from hot water. Cool at room temperature in casserole on wire rack.

Refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Run a knife along the edge of the casserole to loosen the flan. Place a large flat dish on top and invert quickly.

Welcome to my Kitchen!


I have decided to create a blog page of my recipes, which are currently sitting in my "Travels With Monica" blog page. Since I continue to add lots of travel related (and photography information there), I think it's best to separate the food from the traveling.

The recipes that I will be adding are my own, as well as some from family and friends. I hope that you'll enjoy these recipes! I hope you'll leave comments after you have tried the recipes.

Thanks and Enjoy!