Brown Rice with Beef Broth and Scallions ~

A dear friend had told me many times recently to make brown rice, because she loves it and "it's so good for you".  I hemmed and hawed over making it, because I heard it was a pain to make.  And I really didn't think I would love it as much as she thought I would.  So today while I was out at the grocery store, I thought about it again and decided to pick up some to try tonight.

I called her from the grocer's to ask which one to buy.  And she said she only buys a brand called "Lundberg".  It's in the fru-fru section of your grocer's, not in with the regular rice.  It's organic and gluten free. And I am not pushing a brand or have any affiliation to this product.  Just passing a tip from a friend.  You can use the brand of your choice.

So, here is her recipe, well sort of, I tweaked it a bit:

1 cup of brown rice, short grain.
1 - 14 ounce can of low fat, low sodium beef broth
2 ounces of water
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 teaspoon of salt
3 green onions (scallions), chopped 3/4 of the way up
2 paper towels

In a good sauce pan with a lid, pour in beef stock, water, oil, salt and give it a whisk.  Add rice and turn the burner on high.  Bring rice to a rolling boil.  Turn down stove to low, not way down, to low, low.  Just low.  My stove says 2, low.  I leave it on 2.  Place the two paper towels across the top of the pan and cover with lid tightly.  Turn timer on 50 minutes.  Don't peak, don't stir.  Walk away and forget about it.  After 50 minutes, take off lid and paper towels and use a fork to fluff.  If you see there is still liquid in the pan, don't panic.  Place new paper towels on top, cover with lid and let cook for 5-10 minutes longer.  Unlike white rice, uncovering the pan at this point, won't mess up the finished product.  Trust me...

When rice is ready, fluff with a fork and add chopped scallions.  Let sit and rest for 5-10 minutes.

And my friend is so right, this rice is so delicious and has a nutty flavor that's hard to describe.  It's nutritious, so another good reason to give it a try. And she was so right, I loved it!   

Now doesn't this look too yummy to be that good for you? And other than brown rice taking longer to cook, it isn't hard to make. Try it, it's that good.   Thanks Donna.  :)

Enjoy ~


Mile High Strawberry Pie - Adapted from a Taste of Home ~

A dear friend told me about this easy and delicious pie.  A great dessert for these hot and humid days of summer and fresh strawberries are plentiful ~  Just bake the crust and fill, no turning on the oven at all.  Thanks Regina ~

 Mile High Strawberry Pie from Taste of Home.

1 9-inch baked crust (I used store bought, Pillsbury)

1 cup sugar
1/4 cup corn starch
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup water
1 tsp. lemon juice
2 cups mashed strawberries

3 1/2 cups halved strawberries
16 oz. heavy cream, whipped and sweetened with 3 Tablespoons of sugar

Whole berries and mint sprigs for garnish, sliced and fanned

Combine dry ingredients in saucepan and mix well. Add water and lemon juice; stir well. Mix in berries. Cook over medium-low heat (stirring often) until mixture comes to a low boil, thickens, and "clears." Cook over low boil for about 3-4 more minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and let cool.

Place halved berries in baked pie shell as evenly as possible.

Pour glaze over berries and chill for at least 3-4 hours.

Before serving, cover slices with dollop of whip cream. Garnish with fanned strawberries.

Enjoy ~


Hot, hazy, humid...

We are in the middle of a heat wave here in the Northeast, so there hasn't been much cooking for me lately.  It's so quick to cook up a bunch of fresh corn on the cob (keep in a plastic container in the fridge), slice a tomato and cold, grilled chicken.  Nothing to heat, not even the corn, eating it cold has been a favorite of mine since childhood. (If you cook everything early in the morning and store in the refrigerator, it will keep for most week night dinners).

So, yesterday morning I headed for my sister's to capture these Hydrangers.  Her Condo complex has a beautiful garden and oh yes, a lovely pool.  Some of the hydrangers were blue, while others were a glorious shade of purple.

Just lush and so vibrant...

I love the deeper purple colored ones, they are just magnificant.

My little Cannon does well in a close up I think....

Then we headed off to this gorgeous pool to cool off... oh so nice ~

Too soon, this weather will turn cooler and the days shorter, but I'm not thinking about it just yet.  :)

Enjoy your weekend.


A perfect Summer Day ~ Lillies

Next to cooking, I also have a great love of flowers.  Although I don't have much of a green thumb, a friend of mine does.  Her poppies are gone, but now come the lillies.  Beautiful, graceful and elegant, I hope I have done them justice with these pictures.

This is a giant yellow tiger lilly, just bursting with vibrant color.

This is my favorite, a unique color for a day lilly.

Front and kind of subtle..

A view from the side ~

Very large red, very close up....

This tiger lilly is such a brilliant color..

This day lilly is last, but not least...

Here in Boston, summer is short.  But, in one sense, I think it makes us appreciate the beautiful things that nature provides during those months.  I hope you enjoy these as much as I do.



Southwestern Pasta ~

Continuing here in Boston with the hot, hazy and humid weather...  I won't complain because we had a very harsh winter and this weather is much preferred.

Although it's tough to be standing in the kitchen, let alone cooking for any length of time.  So it's quick meals for me this week.  But, that doesn't stop me from looking for tasty ones.  This dish was inspired by the Roasted Corn and black bean salsa I make.  I love the flavors of that and thought I could turn an easy pasta dish with a few tweaks.

And does this look like a 20 minute dish?


I had all of the ingredients on hand, but a quick trip to the farmer's market is all it would take if I didn't.  All fresh produce in the summer here, is such a nice gift to us New Englanders.

Here's the (sort of) recipe:

12 ouces of spaghetti (I use Barilla)
1 medium zucchini, halved length-wise and julienned
2 medium tomatoes, diced
1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
1 ear of fresh corn, cooked and shucked (I always have leftovers in my fridge in the summer)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup of dry white wine
1 Tablespoon Kosher salt
1/3 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
1 lime, juiced

Start cooking your pasta in a large pan filled with salted water as directed.  When it's done, save about a cup of cooking liquid and drain. I use a 6 quart Dutch Oven. 

In a large skillet on medium heat, add olive oil.  Making sure your oil is nice and hot, add the red onion.  Stir and cook until soft, about 2-3 minutes.  Add zucchini and turn to medium high heat.  Let zucchini cook for about 2 minutes on each side.  Add corn, garlic, cumin and stir well.  Remove pan from heat.  Add diced tomato, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and lime juice, stir.  Cover and let sit for about 5 minutes. At this point, check and see if you need a little pasta water and add if needed.  When pasta is cooked, place on a large platter.   Top with vegetable mixture. Voila, get out of the kitchen quicky and take this delicious dish with you.  A loaf of crusty bread and dinner is easy and done in less than 20 minutes.

It was too hot for me to think of cheese, but a nice Southwestern blend sprinkled on top would be nice too.  And next time I make this dish, I'll add a handful of chopped cilantro to the finished dish!
I made this dish meatless, but leftover grilled chicken or pork added to the skillet would be another great addition.

Enjoy ~


Stir- fried, Chicken, Rice and Vegetables ~

This is one of my favorite dishes in the summer.  I make the rice ahead of time, either early in the morning, or a few days ahead.  It doesn't matter, you just need leftover rice.  I use basmati, I like it best for stir-frys.  I also don't have a real recipe, it's just one of those favorites that I have made through the years from memory.  You can use whatever vegetables, meat or even shrimp that you have on hand and still only be in the kitchen for a short amount of time.  

So here is my "recipe", from memory.  I figured it was time I wrote it down.

2 cups of cooked rice
1/2 cup leftover grilled chicken breast, sliced.
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup red pepper, diced
1/2 cup sliced zucchini
1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
1/2 cup white wine.
1 Tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 medium tomato, diced
3 Tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic
A handful of julienned basil, chopped cilantro or parsley.

Heat a large skillet on stove-top to medium heat and add the olive oil.  Stir in onion and add red pepper. Add salt and pepper and yes, stir again.  Let cook for about 4 minutes until vegetables are softened.  Add mushrooms and zucchini, let cook another couple of minutes, turning both zucchini and mushrooms at least once or twice.  Add chopped tomato, stir.  Add garlic and stir again, cooking only for another minute, just until garlic is fragrant.  Remove pan from heat, pour in wine and stir until the wine has stopped bubbling.  Add rice and chicken, stir again and cover with lid.  Let sit, off the burner for about 5 minutes.

Plate and top with a handful of chopped basil, cilantro or parsley.

This dish is and easy and very fresh, just like summer meals should be.  Oh, don't tell anyone, but it's also low in fat!

Yum ~

I love having dinner ready in about 20 minutes, how nice is that?


Thai Marinated Cucumbers ~

With July, comes the hazy, hot and humid days.....  Less cooking, more salads and quick visits to the stove or grill.  I love this time of year, mostly because of the long hours of daylight.  The sun is up around 5am and doesn't set until near 9pm.  How perfect is that?

So, here is a dish I make almost weekly and keep in my fridge all through the hot weather.  They are so easy to whip up in the cool of the night and have it for the next few days.

Thai Marinated Cucumbers ~

1 English cucumber, washed
2 Tablespoons of sugar
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1 tsp. of crushed red pepper
1 Tablespoon of salt
1 teaspoon fish sauce (optional)

First thinly slice and salt your cucumber and let it sit out on the counter for about an hour if you have the time.  If not, about fifteen minutes will do.

After an hour, take a kitchen towel and wrap your cucumber slices up and twist.  I use a flour sack towel.  Pressing to get all of the mosture and salt out.

Next, unwrap the cucumbers and pat dry any excess liquid.

Into a large bowl they go.

Add your vinegar, sugar and red pepper flakes and fish sauce.  Toss and mix well. And I know this is a terrible picture, sorry.  I forgot to take a picture of the fish sauce, but you can find it in the Asian section of your grocer.  It doesn't make the cukes taste fishy or pungent, but remember, just a little bit goes a long way.  So one teaspoon will do nicely here.

Place cucumbers in a tightly sealed container in the fridge for a couple of hours or overnight.  They are lovely and crisp, just perfect for a warm summer night.

I like to serve them for dinner with sliced, fresh tomatoes, corn on the cob and grilled chicken or fish.  Great on a hot and humid night like this.  Enjoy ~


Roasted Corn and Black Bean Salsa ~

Roasted Corn and Black Bean Salsa ~

When I go anywhere in the summer, albeit a cookout, bbq, family gathering, I am asked to bring this dish.  It's even more popular with my family and friends than my potato salad, I think.  Although, I usually do both recipes for large gatherings.  And if you choose to bring this recipe, save a little aside for yourself before you take it anywhere.  You won't have any leftovers, trust me.  It's all fresh ingredients and with only 3 Tablespoons of olive oil in the dressing, this dish is very low in fat!  We serve ours in a big bowl with scoops on the side, but I love the idea of seving it in martini glasses too!

And if you want to keep it totally low fat, just get some tortillas and cut them into triangles and bake them for about 10 minutes in a 350 F., degree oven.  It's great as an appetizer or a side salad.  This dish is also wonderful when topped on fish or chicken and or even served in a soft tortilla as a wrap.

It's best to serve it the first day you make it, but it will keep well for a second or third day in your refrigerator.

Here's the recipe:

~ Roasted Corn and Black Bean Salsa ~

1 pound package frozen roasted corn (Trader Joe's), rinse and drained well.
3 Tblsp olive oil
1 Tblsp. salt
1 Tsp cumin powder
6 Tblsp fresh lime juice
2 Tblsp cider vinegar
1  bunch chopped cilantro
1/2 large red onion red onion, minced
4 large plum tomatoes chopped
1 jalapeno peppers chopped
1 red pepper chopped
3 cloves of minced garlic
2 15 oz. cans black beans, drained and rinsed
3 large avacados chopped

~ Combine salt, cumin, lime juice, oil and vinegar. Shake well in a jar.
~ In a large bowl, combine rest of chopped ingredients. Add beans and
corn. Add avocado, and dressing last and toss gently.
~ Refrigerate for up to 6 hours. Serve same day you make it.

~ Serves 15-20 people

Yum ~