Sunday, March 30, 2014

Roasted Chicken on a Snowy Sunday Spring Day!

If you have a couple of hours to make dinner, this Roasted Chicken recipe is for you and your family. Today is Sunday so that's a day I almost always have extra time to make the perfect family meal. It also helped that the weather here in Buffalo, New York was miserably pretty…not pretty miserable but miserably pretty. It's March 30th, the winter season is over, it's spring, and all of Western New York woke up to snow, yet once again, for the thousandth time this year. Yes, it looked really pretty but it was really miserable to see! Enough is enough. The only thing that got me through this miserably pretty day is that the forecast is calling for 70 degrees on Tuesday, oh and the fact that I'm making this delicious roasted chicken for my family. I'm not just making a plain old chicken, I'm making a roaster chicken from Wendel's Poultry Farm in East Concord, New York. I was out that way recently and decided to stop into their cute farm store where they sell all of their poultry products as well as their homemade maple syrup. I could have boughten so many things but I decided to just stick with a 6 pound roaster chicken. What is so great about buying a fresh chicken from the farm itself is that you know exactly where it was raised and you know it's going to be the freshest. Wendel's Farm doesn't use any growth stimulants or hormones, no preservatives are added and they don't use any animal byproducts in their feed and their diet is all whole grain. Knowing that makes me feel better about buying my chicken, plus I know it will taste way better.

The chicken took about 15 minutes to prepare and 2 hours to roast. I'm glad I decided to make a meal that required a couple hours of cooking because it warmed up the house on this snowy spring day, plus the house smelled amazing. There is something so wholesome and comforting about roasting a chicken.  The boys were at their friends house getting a geology lesson and when they came home they walked in the door and said "Oh my gosh, it smells so good. We actually smelled it as we were walking home!" I said "It sounds like you boys have a bionic sniffer sense if you smelled it that far away." They laughed. I made the most amazing homemade gravy with it, along with roasted whole potatoes and butternut squash and stuffing. It felt like Thanksgiving day! The roasted chicken was out of this world. The skin was crisp and buttery and the meat was moist, tender and flavorful. Our food impressions were are a bit different today because well sometimes a picture says a thousand words! Salute to Roasted Chicken and Gravy on a snowy sunday spring day!
Wendel's Poultry Farm Chicken
Onions and Garlic cloves placed in middle of pan
for chicken to rest and cook on
The chicken dressed in butter, thyme, garlic, and salt n pepper
The chicken resting while I make the gravy
Making the chicken pan gravy. I love it when a recipe calls for wine. A good excuse to have a glass while cooking!
Roasted chicken and gravy ready to eat.

Roasted Chicken with Thyme and Garlic Click to print recipe)

Preparation and cook time: 2 hours and 15 minutes

Serves 6

  • 1 6 pound whole chicken, trimmed, rinsed, dried and giblets removed, legs tied
  • 8 garlic cloves, whole
  • 1/2 cup melted butter
  • 1 tb dried thyme
  • salt n pepper to taste
  • 1 large onion, cut in thick slices
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup chicken stock
Heat oven to 425 degrees. Using a large roasting pan, place onion slices and garlic in middle of the pan. Place chicken breast side up on top of onions. Onions act as almost a rack for the chicken. Pour melted butter over the top of chicken and generously season with salt and pepper. Add dried thyme to top of chicken breast. Add two cups of water to bottom of pan. Roast for 30 minutes or until skin is crisp and golden. Take chicken out of the oven and add 1 cup of chicken stock. Add foil or a cover to the pan and roast in oven for an additional 1 hour and 30 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Add more stock to bottom of pan if too match evaporates. Take out and let rest covered for 10-15 minutes. Serve with Homemade Chicken Pan Gravy…see below.

Homemade Chicken Pan Gravy:

  • 1/2-1 cup pan drippings of roasted chicken including the garlic and onions 
  • 1 cup of dry white wine
  • 1 cup of chicken stock
  • 3 tb of cornstarch
  • salt n pepper to taste
In the roasting pan or a medium sauce pan, heat pan drippings over medium to high heat. Add wine and let cook for 5 minutes. Add cornstarch to chicken stock chicken and stir until well blended. Add cornstarch/chicken stock mixture to pan drippings and continue to cook on medium heat for 10 minutes or so. Gravy should thicken and reduce. Add salt n pepper to taste. Serve hot with Roasted Chicken. 

Our Food Impressions:
Ok, maybe not the most pleasant looking picture but you can see why a picture says a thousand words! We demolished this 6 pound bird clean!
The second best part of the chicken, the breaking the wish bone!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Local Restaurant Week (March 31st - April 6th)

Local Restaurant Week

March 31st - April 6th 2014

One of my favorite times of the year in Western New York is during Local Restaurant Week. Local Restaurant Week is a biannual event that highlights and celebrates our local independent restaurants.  Trust me, our areas restaurants are so worth celebrating and WNY has some of the most talented chefs in the country. There are over 200 restaurants participating in Local Restaurant Week and it's become a highly anticipated event. Participating restaurants create a special menu for the event and the featured dishes start at just $20.14. That price typically includes a soup or salad, the main entree and a dessert. Some even include a glass of wine or feature bottles of wine for $20.14. That's a bank for your buck, especially considering I can barely cook at home for that price! As much as I love to cook, Local Restaurant Week gives me a break and an opportunity to enjoy an amazing meal out at a fine dining establishment. During the event my goal is to dine out 3-4 times per week. I also try to dine at an establishment that I've never been to before. So one on my list this year is Manzella's Restauant. It's walking distance from my house and I pass by it every day. We've lived in our house for 8 years so it's crazy that we've never been there! When we go out to dinner we typically go to a restaurant we know and love. Local Restaurant Week allows us to be more adventurous and try a restaurant that we never have….without breaking the bank! I can't wait until next week. I have 3 restaurants lined up so far. Tuesday I am dining out with my High School besties, Wednesday I am dining out with my Spa Chick besties and our husbands, and Thursday I am dining out with Dave and the boys. I will post my restaurant adventures and food impressions next week. I highly encourage you to dine out the week of March 31st and April 6th, and support and enjoy the many dining establishments in WNY. Salute to taking a break from cooking and enjoying a meal out during Local Restaurant Week! 


Where will you dine out during Local Restaurant Week? 
Make sure to share your Food Impressions!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Classic Crab Cakes - A taste of Martha's Vineyard tonight

Tonight we were supposed to leave to go to Ellicottville for the weekend. Dave had a business trip in New York City and his flight was delayed so we decided to stay in Buffalo for the night and head to Ellicottville in the morning. We knew it would be a late dinner but that was ok because it gave me extra time to go to the grocery store before he got home. The boys and I headed to Wegmans, without a grocery list or knowing what I wanted for dinner…big mistake! I ended up walking around aimlessly trying to figure out what I wanted. Everything looked good so I was putting all sorts of delicious foods in my cart. Like green tomatoes, butternut squash, avocado, mango, puff pastry, fresh mozzarella, the list goes on. One item I added to the cart was fresh crab meat. As soon as I saw the crab meat I immediately thought crab cakes. I love crab cakes but I usually don't order them when I go to out to dinner because I'm afraid they won't be the freshest or the best quality. I also don't make them too often because well, they're expensive. I bought one pound of crab for $27.99 and that yields 6 crab cakes. In my house, one crab cake per person won't cut it so I bought 2 pounds. (I'm sure Dave will have a convulsion after reading how much I paid) As soon as I decided I was making crab cakes I got all excited. So excited that I had to go to Butlers Liquor store and buy one of my favorite bottles of wine…7 Deadly Zins - Zinfandel. My dear friends John and Judy introduced me to this wine years ago and ever since it's been one of my favorites. Plus, I also bought a cool Rabbit wine opener at Wegmans along with all of the great foods…another reason I just had to buy wine. As soon as I got home I opened the bottle of wine with ease thanks to my Rabbit and started preparing dinner. I started with making the remoulade sauce, which was amazing. Remoulade is a classic french condiment that has a mayonnaise base and pairs excellent with crab cakes. Then I started making the crab cakes and oh my did that bring back memories to our trip to Martha's Vineyard. I remember eating the most fabulous seafood meals while we were there. It was the freshest and of the upmost quality. I also remember having the best crab cakes at this small eatery on the water while we were riding bikes around the island. Once I started cooking those crab cakes the house was infused with seafood flavors. Flavors that brought me back to Martha's Vineyard. Talk about food impressions! So tonight on the menu I served classic crab cakes with remoulade sauce over white rice. It was spectacular because what really shined through was the lump crab meat, not the fillers that many add such as an overload of bread crumbs. Even though I broke the bank making these crab cakes, it was so worth it.  Again, so worth it…right Dave?! Salute to classic crab cakes and travels that have made lasting food impressions.
The crab meat I used. Pricey but well worth it.
Pan searing the crab cakes with a touch of olive oil 
Classic Crab Cakes with Remoulade Sauce over White Rice
Homemade Remoulade Sauce
Classic Crab Cakes with Remoulade Sauce (Click to print recipe)

Preparation and cook time: 40 minutes

Serves 6

Ingredients for Crab Cakes:

  • 1 lb fresh or pasteurized lump crab meat
  • 1 egg, whisked
  • 3/4 cup of plain bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup mayonaise
  • 1 tb old bay seasoning
  • 1 t worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tb fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tb fresh parsley, chopped
In a medium bowl mix all of the ingredients with a large spoon or with your hands. Do not over mix. Gently shape cakes into 6 even patties, about 1 inch thick. In a large skillet heat about 2 tb olive oil over medium heat. Add cakes to hot skillet and sear on one side for 4 minutes or until lightly browned. Flip cakes over and pan sear an additional 5-7 minutes. Serve with remoulade sauce and fresh lemon.

Ingredients for Remoulade Sauce:
  • 1 cup mayonaise
  • 1/8 cup dijon mustard
  • 1 tb paprika
  • 1 t creole seasoning
  • 1 tb prepared horseradish
  • 1 t hot sauce
Mix all ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Serve over crab cakes. Cover and refrigerate for up to three days.

Food Impressions:

Nate: "Super yummy. The sauce is a little spicy."

Tyler: "I love this sauce and the crab meat is so good. I didn't think I would really like it."

Zachary: "Yuuuuuuuum."

Dave: "Delicious, brings me back to New Orleans."

Andrea: "So worth the cost. Brought me back to Martha's Vineyard."

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Salt n Vinegar Spinach Chips

All the rage lately is with kale chips. Don't get me wrong, I love kale chips but when you look on sites like Pinterest or in cooking magazines or on Dr. Oz that's all you see. Kale, kale and more kale. Let's not forget about our other leafy veggies that also make delicious chips, like spinach. Yes, spinach! We also love brussel sprout chips but I'll save that for another post. If you are a fan of kale chips you will for sure be a fan of spinach chips. This week I bought a huge container of baby spinach and had leftovers so I decided to make Salt n Vinegar Spinach Chips. Plus, Tyler and Zachary had their basketball banquet tonight and I wanted to make a quick snack for them. You're probably thinking seriously Andrea…you worked all day, helped the boys with their homework, had to get ready to go to a sports banquet and in the midst of all of that you made homemade spinach chips???? You're also probably thinking impossible or I'm just simply crazy. I may be a little crazy but making homemade spinach chips in the midst of mayhem is not impossible. It's that quick and easy, oh and that scrumptiously addicting! I made two sheets of spinach chips and they were devoured in literally minutes by the boys. They really like kale chips but I actually think they prefer spinach chips. If you are one who is skeptical about making kale chips because you're not sure if they will really taste good or if your kids will really eat them like candy, don't be. They are super tasty and your kids will eat them like candy. A few years ago I was one of those skeptics but now they are a regular part of our diet. Spinach chips are iron and nutrient rich and low in calories and fat. I love making recipes that are healthy because I don't feel guilty eating extras. Spinach Chips are a great alternative to potato chips or any chip for that matter. So if you are one of those skeptics like I was, take the plunge and give it a try. The worst case scenario is you never have to make them again. Salute to crispy, crunchy, salty, vinegary, healthy, addicting spinach chips!
Coat the spinach leaves with olive oil, sea salt and vinegar
Just out of the oven, warm and crispy
Fresh spinach chips ready to be devoured
Zachary and Nate eating them like candy
They barely saved any for Tyler!
Salt n Vinegar Spinach Chips (Click to print recipe)

Preparation and cook time: 20 minutes

Serves: 4


  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 1 tb olive oil
  • 1 tb vinegar
  • sea salt to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. They will stick to the cookie sheet if you don't use parchment paper. In a bowl mix spinach leaves with olive oil and vinegar. Mix well until all leaves are coated with the olive oil. Lay the spinach leaves on the parchment paper and make sure they are not overlapping or touching. Sprinkle sea salt on the leaves. Bake in oven for about 10 minutes or until crisp. Be sure to keep an eye on them because they will burn fast. Take out of the oven and let cool for 5 minutes so they will crisp more. 

Food Impressions:

Nate: "Ooooh I love these. Are there more?"

Tyler: Almost cried because Nate and Zachary ate most of them.

Zachary: "These are so crispy, they like melt in your mouth."

Andrea: The crunch and saltiness make these so good. I'll make sure to make more next time, especially for Tyler.
Great basketball season boys! 

Friday, March 21, 2014

Mashed Cauliflower and a Much Needed Glass of Wine!

Today I posted a picture on Facebook of a glass of wine and titled it "Much needed glass of wine." It was one of those weeks at work where I was like TGIF. As soon as Dave got home I said "Before you take off your coat, before you open the mail and before you stick your hand in the refrigerator, pour me a glass of!" He knew I meant business so he immediately pulled out a great bottle of wine (Wayne Gretzky Estates - Cabernet Sauvignon U.V.) from our wine credenza. I took a sip of that bold Cab and said "Ahhh, just what I needed."

After enjoying a half glass of wine I was ready to  mash cauliflower. And based on the week I had I was really ready to mash, with conviction! So on the menu tonight was Mashed Cauliflower. Years ago when I was on a low carb kick I remember coming across a mock recipe for mashed potatoes, using cauliflower. So if you are looking for something that is low carb, paleo friendly, or gluten free this is a great recipe to try. I love cauliflower so the recipe spoke to me. I've made this recipe several times and it's so easy to make. Much easier and quicker than mashed potatoes since there is no peeling required. I wouldn't say it tastes like mashed potatoes so don't make this thinking you will fool your children. Although you may fool them by the looks though. I know my boys were fooled. When I was done making the Mashed Cauliflower I had it warming on the stove and when each boy walked by they said "Ooooh mashed potatoes." I was curious to see if I could fool them tonight so I just said "yep." You can make mashed cauliflower as simple as you want to but I like to add other ingredients to give it more depth and flavor. In my opinion cauliflower alone is bland. So however you flavor your mashed potatoes you can do the same with your mashed cauliflower. I usually add sour cream and chives to mine. Tonight I did not have those ingredients so I opted for cream cheese and fresh parsley. It was creamy and flavorful. Adding other cheeses such as cheddar, goat or gorgonzola are also delicious. What I also love about mashed cauliflower is that you feel good after eating it. It doesn't make you feel heavy and bloated like potatoes do, and that's a good thing. So did I fool Nate, Tyler and Zachary thinking they were mashed potatoes? Read their Food Impressions to find out! Salute to mashed cauliflower and a much needed glass of wine!
My much needed glass of wine and Facebook post
Cut up a large head of cauliflower and boil it in a large pot
Boil until tender and strain the water as much as you can
Mash the cauliflower as you would potatoes.
Doesn't it look like potatoes?
Fluffy, creamy, flavorful and healthy!
Mashed cauliflower, sauteed spinach and pan seared
scallops with lemon. Delicious meal!
Mashed Cauliflower (Click to print recipe)

Preparation and cook time: 30 minutes

Serves 4-6


  • 1 large head of cauliflower, chopped in to large florets
  • 1 tb butter
  • 4 oz cream cheese or 1/3 cup of sour cream
  • 2 tb fresh chopped chives (I used parsley because that's what I had on hand)
  • salt n pepper to taste
In a large pot bring water to a boil and add the chopped cauliflower florets. Turn heat to medium and cook for 10 minutes or until tender when pierced with fork. Strain water from pot with a colander. Add cauliflower back to pot and mash using a fork or potato masher. Stir in cream cheese or sour cream, butter, chives and salt n pepper. Mix until fluffy and creamy. 

Food Impressions:

Nate: "These are not mashed potatoes. Is this that cauliflower stuff you make?"

Tyler: "Hey I thought you said you were making mashed potatoes!"

Zachary: "Tastes like mashed potatoes to me with lots of cauliflower added!" 

Dave: "You should make these more often."

Andrea: Ok, so no fooling my boys! I honestly didn't think they would be fooled since they LOVE mashed potatoes and know the taste, but I was hoping they'd be fooled. Creamy and delicious and I felt good after eating them.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

7 Days of Oranges - Day 7

Orange Glazed Pound Cake
Today is the last day of my 7 Days of Oranges mission. "Saving the best for last" phrase applies here. For my last course, dessert, I made an Orange Glazed Pound Cake. Oh my gosh, it was sublime. The orange flavor wasn't over powering. There were subtle hints of the orange throughout the cake and stronger notes of orange in the glaze. The glaze was made with not only with orange juice but also the zest. So every time I took a bite of the glaze with zest I tasted a burst of orange flavor. The cake was dense but moist and had a sweet buttery taste. I served this with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a few of the mint leaves I had left over from my Orange-Mint Asparagus, Lima Beans and Peas recipe. I wish I would have taken a picture but just imagine the taste of orange glazed pound cake with ice cream and fresh mint. Yum! I made 4 small loafs as opposed to 1 large loaf and I'm regretting it. Why you ask? Because it's like eating Timbits or Munchkin Doughnut Holes; they give the illusion you aren't eating much but in reality 5 Timbits equals 1 doughnut. I almost always pop 5 or more of those things in my mouth in like 30 seconds, seriously! I'm way better off just eating one full size doughnut. We'll same thing with my mini Orange Glazed Pound Cakes. I would cut  myself a slice, eat it, only to find myself cutting a second piece and then a third piece. Not good for my upcoming Punta Cana trip! I wish I could say these are low fat but sadly they are not. So whether you make 4 mini loafs, 1 large loaf or in a bundt pan don't be surprised if you find yourself eating a 1/3 of it yourself just like I did! Salute to my 7 Days of Oranges mission successfully accomplished!

Orange zest in the mix
Just out of the oven
Drizzling the orange glaze
Dense and moist, buttery and sweet, orange delight

Orange Glazed Pound Cake (Click to print recipe)

Preparation and cook time: 60 minutes

Serves 10

  • 1 cup softened butter
  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 t orange zest
  • 2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 t baking powder
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs
For Glaze:
  • 1 1/2 cups confectionary sugar
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1 t orange zest
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter 4 mini loaf pans or 1 9 x 5 loaf pan. In a large mixing bowl add flour, baking powder and salt and mix well. Using a mixer beat the butter and sugar until fluffy about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time until well incorporated. Add the orange zest and the orange juice and mix. Add the four and mix well. Pour the batter in the loaf pans evenly. Bake for 25 minutes in mini loaf pans or 45 minutes in large loaf pan or when toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool cake on wire racks.

For glaze: In a bowl mix confectionary sugar, orange zest and orange juice until thick and creamy. Pour glaze over cake until top is covered. Let glaze set and harden a bit about 1 hour. Slice and serve with vanilla ice cream.

Food impressions:

Nate: "Wow this is super good. Can I have this for snack tonight, breakfast tomorrow and in my lunch?"

Tyler: "Oh my gosh, this is like grandma's frosted cupcakes"

Zachary: "It tastes like an orange. It's really good mom."

Dave: He doesn't even eat dessert and he ate this and loved it. It's not overly sweet so I think that why he liked it.

Andrea: A nice alternative to regular pound cake. Great for dessert and even great for breakfast! Loved this. What a great way to end my 7 days of oranges mission.

7 Days of Oranges - Day 6

Orange Gremolata
I am almost done with my 7 Days of Oranges mission. Are you tired of reading recipe after recipe about oranges? I have to be honest I'm glad my mission is almost complete. Don't get me wrong I love oranges and I thoroughly enjoyed cooking with them but one full week of oranges is a bit much! But hey what's a girl like me to do when her husband brings home 15 pounds of oranges? Turn oranges into orangade! I know not funny. I'm looking forward to cooking something without oranges. So next week you will not read about me cooking with oranges but rather with chocolate. Yes chocolate and 21 pounds of it my friends! This is not a typo or a crazy error with auto correct, this is the real deal. 21 pounds of Giardelli Chocolate was delivered to my office at work. So what's a girl like me to do when she is delivered 21 pounds of chocolate? Turn chocolate into chocolatade! I know not funny again. So just a few more days of oranges and I promise you a decadent chocolate recipe to follow, maybe even two. 

Ok, now on to day 6, my main course. Tonight I was in the mood for a steak. A thick slightly crisp on the outside, moist and tender slightly pink on the inside ribeye steak. I say slightly pink because lately I prefer my steaks cooked medium rare-medium. Dave is appalled that I like mine cooked more medium and he is even more appalled when I ask him to put mine back on the grill to cook more. He says he prefers his steaks cooked medium-rare but I say he leans more to the rare side. It's a debate we've been having for a while now.  On a few occasions our debates have gotten quite heated but mostly they are all in good fun. I try not to complain too much because I worry he may protest and not cook steaks anymore. That would be really bad because Dave is the master at grilling steaks. He concocts his own rubs that he puts on the steaks and they are to die for. He changes the rub from time to time and every time it's restaurant quality if not better. Sometimes it's just a heavy dose of kosher salt and freshly ground pepper and it's still the most amazing flavor. I told him that as amazing as his rubs are I was going to change things up due to my 7 Days of Oranges. I told him to simply salt and pepper the steaks and that I had made Orange Gremolata to go on top of the steak. If you are not familiar, gremolata is a condiment of freshly chopped parsley, garlic, and lemon zest. There are variations but that is the traditional mix. It's typically used as a topper on braised beef or veal. I decided to change it up and use orange zest instead of lemon zest. He was open to the Orange Gremolata but I could tell he was apprehensive. Actually I was too but I figured if it didn't taste good with the steak it was only a topper and could be taken off. So he went in the backyard, brushed the snow off of the grill and cooked the steaks. Medium for me and rare medium-rare for him. We love gorgonzola with our steaks so we topped each steak with some and then sprinkled some orange gremolata on top too. WOW, was it amazing! The orange gremolata was so delicious with the steak and gorgonzola and the flavors were magical.  Steaks alone can taste heavy but the orange gremolata really lighten the taste. We were both surprised how incredible it tasted. As much as I'm looking forward to not cooking with oranges anymore, I am glad I did this mission. It has allowed me to open up and try new recipes and many will become recipes I make over and over, like this one. So if you are looking to lighten and refresh a meat dish Orange Gremolata is the way to go. Salute to 7 days of Oranges and 1 day to go!
Orange Gremolata with Ribeye Steaks and Gorgonzola Cheese
Gremolata - what a great way to lighten up a steak.

Orange Gremolata (Click to print recipe)

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Yeilds: 1/2 cup

  • 4 tb freshly chopped parsley
  • 2 tb orange zest
  • 1 tb orange juice
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • salt n pepper
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl with a spoon until well mixed. Use as a topper on meats, pork or seafood.

Food Impressions:

Dave: Surprisingly delicious. The orange zest compliments the gorgonzola well. And of course anything with fresh minced garlic is sublime.

Andrea: Loved the orange gremolata. I typically make the lemon zest gremolata but I will make it with orange zest from time to time. I will try it with shrimp next. 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

7 Days of Oranges - Day 5

Freshly Squeezed Grapefruit Juice
Before my grandmother Brigid passed away she gave me a lot of her cookware, dinnerware and silverware. I love each and every piece and they all hold a sentimental value in my heart. One item she gave me was her glass hand juicer, which is well over 50 years old. I never used it until my 7 days of oranges mission and I'm loving it! It will be one of my staples from now on. If you don't have one I highly recommend it. I typically just squeezed citrus with my hands for recipes, no more of that! Using a juicer allows for way more juice, plus it gives a very soft pulp which means more flavor.
My Grandmother's hand juicer
Keeping with my 7 Days of Oranges mission, today I am on Day 5. Don't forget our 15 pounds of oranges also included grapefruit. I couldn't forget about these big bad bitter but sweet round boys!  Plus I only have 2 days left on my mission so they had to be incorporated. I decided rather than cooking with the fruit why not take advantage of it's fresh juice all by itself. That made my recipe very simple: freshly squeezed grapefruit juice, that's it! Oh my gosh it was so delicious! Typically when I eat a grapefruit I have to add sugar to take away the bitter taste, no sugar necessary when juicing it. I thought it would need it but once I took a sip I didn't add any. And besides being sweet and delicious there are numerous health benefits to juicing and eating grapefruit. They are loaded with vitamins and minerals, they boost the immune system, are good for your skin and reduce water retention, and are low in calories, only about 70 calories per grapefruit. One grapefruit yielded a half of a cup. Trust me a little goes a long way with this so a few ounces each was plenty. I know you're thinking pouring juice from a carton is much easier and more convenient but once you try hand squeezing your juices you'll see how incredibly easy it is. My 9 year old Tyler did most of the squeezing which took a whole 2 minutes! Only a little time for big flavor. The fresh flavor reminded me of our trip to Bora Bora where every morning we sat on our over water bungalow where we drank freshly squeezed juices. Tropical heaven. Freshly squeezed juices are the best because a) of the fresh taste and b) there are no artificial sugars, flavors or preservatives. Enjoy it for breakfast or enjoy it as a mid-day snack for a quick energy boost. There is no mystery to me anymore that freshly squeezed grapefruit juice or any juice for that matter is the way to go! Salute to 7 days of oranges and 2 days to go!
Adding sugar isn't's sweet enough alone
Tyler squeezing the juice. Oh, so easy!
Our breakfast
Grapefruit Juice - hand squeezed

Preparation time: 3 minutes
Yields: 1 cup
Serves: 4

  • 2 large grapefruits (any variety, we used pink)
  • 1 juicer (I used a hand citrus squeezer)
Cut the grapefruit in half and using a hand citrus squeezer, squeeze the juice and pulp. Use a spoon or a strainer to remove any seeds from the juice. Pour evenly into 4 cups. Each cup yields 4 ounces of juice. 

Food Impressions:

Nate: Didn't try pooper!

Tyler: "Wow, mommy this is tastes fresh and not really like orange juice."

Zachary: "I love this juice, it's sweet and a little sour."

Dave: "Did you add sugar to this?"

Andrea: Pure and simple, healthy and sweet.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

52 Reason Why I Love You!

Just a little break from food or I should say "oranges" for a moment. I would like to share what my 11 year old son Nate gave to me today. It's the most special gift he has ever given to me. He was busy in the kitchen for two hours and kept saying "Don't look Mom" It looked like he was making some elaborate craft project. I honored his wishes and didn't peek although I was very tempted. When he was finally done he said, with the biggest smile on his face, "Okay Mom, I'm finished. Here is what I made for you."

He took a deck of cards and stapled 52 handwritten reasons why he loved me! There was no occasion, he just randomly decided to make this for me. It was the absolute best gift ever. Nothing touched my heart more than reading all of the reasons he loves me. Some were hysterical like "You let me eat ramen noodles" and others were touching like "You always cheer me up." Some reasons were things I never even knew he noticed like "You always help me find things when I loose them" or "You always make sure my hair is neat" or "You dress us well." And some were about things that we have done like "When you take us to the park" or "Take us to the movies." I wasn't sure if I should laugh or cry so I just did both! I told Nate that I will cherish the cards forever and anytime I need a pick-me-up I will pull out a few cards and read them. I certainly don't claim to be the perfect mom, I'm far from perfect but these cards reinforced I must be doing something right! What I thought was so endearing about this gift was that it showed me what a caring, compassionate, loving and appreciative young man Nate has become. I am so proud of him and so proud to be his mom. Thanks Nate, my first born pride and joy baby!
As much as I love gifts like Louis Vuitton handbags or jewelry from Tiffany's, nothing beats a gift like this!
I like the 9 of diamonds!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

7 Days of Oranges - Day 4

Orange-Mint Asparagus, Lima Beans and Peas

I am on to Day 4 of my "7 Days of Oranges" mission. If you remember the last recipe I made,  Cranberry-Orange Quinoa with Feta, wasn't exactly spring-like and it tasted more like a dish you'd serve on Thanksgiving. And with the winter we've been having I need to feel some spring. This past weekend we had to turn the clocks an hour ahead because of Daylight Saving Time. I despise losing an hour in my day for many reasons, but especially if the sun isn't shining and I don't feel an ounce of warmth! In fact, weather reports are calling for another major winter storm in the northeast! It's mid-march, ugh! We are avid skiers and embrace the winter but our Punta Cana trip can't get here soon enough! So to remedy my winter blues mood I wanted to make something reminiscent of spring. (Plus it helped that asparagus was on sale for $1.99 a pound at Dash's.) So I made an Orange-Mint Asparagus, Lima Beans and Peas. Well, if my fourth course doesn't sound like spring than I don't know what does my friends. Not only does this dish sound like spring, it tastes like spring. I actually made this recipe before at one of our spring themed dinners for Gourmet Club. I made one change to the recipe and substituted the lemon with freshly squeezed orange juice. I loved it with the lemon but I also enjoyed it with the orange. So really you could make this recipe using either. This is a quintessential spring vegetable dish. I also made some orecchiette pasta on the side and the boys mixed the vegetables with the pasta and I sprinkled a little parm cheese on top. They gave it a two thumbs up and I happen to agree! Salute to 7 Days of Oranges and 3 more to go!
Freshly squeezed orange juice
fresh mint and orange, both flavors sing in harmony

Orange-Mint Asparagus, Lima Beans and Peas (Click to print recipe)

Preparation and cook time: 20 minutes

Serves: 8


  • 2 tb olive oil
  • 1 tb minced garlic
  • 1 bunch asparagus cut into thirds 
  • 1 bag frozen peas (10 oz)
  • 1 bag frozen lima beans (10 oz)
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • 2 tb fresh chopped mint leaves
  • salt n pepper
In a large skillet over medium heat add olive oil and minced garlic. Add asparagus, and saute for 7 minutes or until tender. Add peas and lima beans and cook for an additional 5 minutes until cooked through. Add orange juice, mint and salt n pepper, and stir until well blended and turn on low and let simmer for 5 minutes. 

Food Impressions;

Nate: "Mom, what kind of bean is that?" It's a lima bean Nate, try it you'll like it. "Wow that is good, mom!"

Tyler: "I like the minty-ness, like toothpaste." (Not quite the taste I was going for Tyler, but I'm glad you liked it!)

Zachary: He didn't say anything but ate every lima bean, pea and asparagus on his plate!

Dave: "I like the fresh mint, asparagus a little undercooked."

Andrea: The flavors of all the green vegetables go really well together and the orange juice rounds the dish out with a subtle sweetness. Will make it again and really liked it with the side of orecchiette. 

Saturday, March 8, 2014

7 Days of Oranges - Day 3

Orange-Cranberry Quinoa with Feta Cheese

Last night Dave and I had a "date night." We went to The Buffalo Club to work out at the fitness center and have a relaxing dinner. The Buffalo Club is a private social/business club. They recently went through a major renovation and reconstruction of the fitness center and added a state of the art spa. Now that basketball season is over for the boys Dave and I have some extra time during the week to spend together and more out! In 5 weeks we are headed to Punta Cana and this body, yep my body, needs some renovation and reconstruction like the Buffalo Club did! My goal: to loose 5 pounds in 5 weeks. So don't be surprised if my recipes seem ultra healthy over the next month! Since I worked out I couldn't ruin that with a heavy high calorie dinner so I knew I wanted seafood. There were two entrees on the Specials Menu and I totally lucked out because one of the specials: Pan Seared Yellow Tail Snapper, Cauliflower Puree, Roasted Florets, Glazed Radish and Blood Orange! Blood Orange...Red Snapper....I had to order this dinner based on my "7 Days of Oranges" theme. I was all excited to eat this entree! Unfortunately it wasn't bursting with citrus flavor on the snapper that I was hoping for. Hey sometimes it's not about the food but about the experience around the food. So while the entree I chose wasn't 5 stars, my date with Dave certainly was.

Now on to my "7 Days of Oranges" - Day 3. Today I made a side starch for our third course and decided to make Cranberry Orange Quinoa with Feta. Quinoa has become wildly popular in the United States. After all of the hype and health benefits of quinoa I finally introduced it to our family about 2 years ago. I can't say I loved it at first, but I have grown to love it. Quinoa is a grain that is high in protein and fiber and other healthy nutrients. After it's cooked it has a nutty taste and there is a bit of a crunch to it. It reminds me of an al dente couscous. What's great about quinoa is not only it's taste but also it's versatility. You can add anything to it and you can be creative as you want. I have to admit it was very flavorful but reminded me of a dish one would make during the fall season. I chose to make this recipe because I already had many of the ingredients at home. One of my all time favorite salads is arugula, red onion, with cranberries, feta, and sliced almonds so I always have those ingredients on hand.  I figured why not try it with quinoa, it has to be just as good. I'm glad I did because it was just as good. This dish was great but I probably won't make this again until next fall, closer to Thanksgiving. Salute to 7 Days of Oranges - 4 more to go!

Dried Cranberries and 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
The Cranberries soaking in the orange juice adds a nice sweetness
The quinoa and cranberries sautéing. 
Quinoa: a healthy, gluten free, protein packed grain
Cranberry Orange Quinoa with Feta (Click to print recipe)

Preparation and cook time: 30 minutes

Serves: 6


  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup finely diced red onion
  • 1/2 cups sliced almonds
  • 4 oz crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 tb fresh chopped parsley
  • 1 t grated orange peel
  • salt n pepper
In a medium saucepan, heat cranberries and orange juice over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add quinoa and heat for 1 minute and stir. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cover for 15-20 minutes or until chicken stock is absorbed and the quinoa is fluffy. Add red onion, almonds, feta cheese, parsley, orange peel and salt n pepper and stir until well blended. Serve immediately as a warm dish or refrigerate and serve as a cold dish.

Food Impressions:

Nate: Has almonds and Nate is allergic to tree nuts.

Tyler: "Good, crunchy and sweet."

Zachary: "It's pretty good. I like it." (He didn't love this dish)

Dave: Out of town on business so he didn't get to try it.

Andrea: I thought it was great and I wold make this again but in the fall. The orange really sweetened this dish and added a nice flavor. The raw onion added a nice crunch and spice. I served this with Rotisserie Chicken.