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January 2
Creamy Tomato Soup with Mini Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

After the elegance and extravagance of the holidays, January is a good time for getting back to basics, especially in the foods we eat. Here are some comfort food recipes your family is sure to enjoy in the coming weeks. In the first recipe, mini grilled cheese squares float atop a creamy tomato soup like dumplings for a new take on this classic comfort food combo.

10 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise, seeds removed
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 onion, diced
4 garlic cloves, chopped
2 28-ounce cans of crushed tomatoes
3 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
6 slices of American cheese
12 slices of white bread
2 to 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
Chopped chives or basil for garnish, optional

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Place the plum tomatoes in a large baking dish. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Roast until the tomatoes are soft, 25 to 30 minutes.

In a large stockpot set over medium heat, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the onion and garlic and cook until the onion is soft, about 5 minutes.

Add the roasted tomatoes and their juices, the canned tomatoes and their juices, and the stock to the stockpot, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, stir in the cream, and season with salt and pepper. Simmer the soup for 10 minutes; do not bring to boil.

Remove the pot from the heat and use a handheld blender to puree the soup until it’s as smooth or as chunky as you prefer (If you don’t have a handheld blender, you can use a potato masher to break up the tomatoes, or you can crush them against the side of the pot with a wooden spoon.)

Make six sandwiches with 1 slice of cheese between slices of the white bread. Cut off the crusts and cut each sandwich into quarters. Crimp the edges of the bread together with a fork to make little packets that enclose the cheese. You should have 24 cheese dumplings.

In a large skillet set over medium-high heat, melt a tablespoon of the butter. Working in batches and adding more butter as needed, grill the cheese dumplings until they are lightly browned and toasted like little grilled-cheese sandwiches.

Ladle the soup into six bowls and top with four dumplings each. Serve immediately. Garnish with chopped chives or basil, if desired.

January 9
Lettuce Wedges with Blue Cheese Dressing

This wedge salad is a steakhouse classic, but you can serve it up in your home at any time. The recipe below is for 2 heads of iceberg lettuce and 8 servings, but you can use only half the dressing for one head of lettuce and store the remaining dressing for up to a week in your refrigerator.

Juice of 1 large lemon
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
6 ounces blue cheese, crumbled (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 heads iceberg lettuce
10 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled
2 tomatoes, finely diced
Freshly ground pepper

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the lemon juice, mayonnaise, buttermilk, sour cream, garlic powder and onion powder. Whisk the mixture together until smooth. 
Add the cheese and mix just until blended. Chill in an airtight container in the refrigerator at least 2 hours before serving.

Core and quarter each head of lettuce. Serve a generous dollop of dressing over each lettuce wedge and top with the bacon and tomato. Season with pepper.

January 16
Classic Pot Roast

Pot roast usually calls for a lower-cost cut of meat like chuck, which makes this a good value as well a tasty choice for a family dinner. Cooking the meat long and slow in red wine and beef stock, along with lots of vegetables, makes the roast very tender and flavorful. Serve with the horseradish-chive mashed potatoes recipe below.

3 pound boneless beef chuck roast
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
3 tablespoons canola oil
4 tablespoons butter
2 medium red onions, cut into quarters
4 carrots, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
3 stalks celery, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 rutabaga, peeled and cut into 12 to 16 pieces, about a pound
8 cremini mushrooms, halved
2 parsnips, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
1 head garlic, top cut off to expose cloves
3/4 cup tomato paste
2 bay leaves
3 sprigs rosemary
2 cups red wine, preferably cabernet
4 cups beef broth

Preheat oven to 340 degrees. Season meat generously with salt and pepper. On the stove top, heat oil in a large Dutch oven, or other heavy roasting pan with a lid, over medium-high heat. Sear the meat until a dark crust forms, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Remove meat to a plate.

Reduce heat to medium and add butter to the pan. Melt the butter and add the whole head of garlic and vegetables, stirring frequently and scraping the bottom of the pot, until the vegetables start to color, 8 to 10 minutes.

Add tomato paste and cook, stirring frequently, until it darkens slightly, about 5 minutes.

Add bay leaves, rosemary, and wine and cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced to a thick gravy consistency, 5 to 7 minutes. 

Return meat to the pot. Add broth, then cover the pot and transfer to the oven. Cook for 2 hours and 30 minutes.

Let roast sit at room temperature for at least 10 minutes. Remove meat to a cutting board to slice. Discard bay leaves and rosemary stems. Squeeze any garlic cloves remaining in their skins into the stew and discard the skins. Serve slices of meat in shallow bowls along with the vegetables and a generous amount of cooking liquid ladled over top.

January 23
Horseradish-Chive Mashed Potatoes

Nothing is more comforting than creamy mashed potatoes, especially if served with a meat dish that has lots of gravy or sauce, like the pot roast recipe above. This recipe adds horseradish and chives to the potatoes for extra layers of flavor.

2 pounds whole russet or Yukon gold potatoes
1/2 to 1 stick butter
1 cup sour cream
1/4 cup horseradish
1/3 cup chopped chives

Cover the potatoes with cold salted water; simmer 45 minutes. Drain, peel, and mash with 1/2 to 1 stick butter. Add sour cream, horseradish, chives, and salt and pepper; mash until smooth and fluffy. 

January 30
Lemon Poppyseed Muffins

Everyone loves muffins! They are ideal for breakfast, lunch, or served with your afternoon tea or coffee. Lemon and poppyseed muffins are a classic combo and we offer the recipe below as the final entry in our list of January comfort foods. Enjoy!

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for greasing the pan
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
2/3 cup granulated sugar, plus up to 1 tablespoon for topping the muffins, if desired
2 large eggs, at room temperature
4 tablespoons poppy seeds
1/2 cup milk

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly brush a 12-cup muffin tin with butter and set aside. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.

In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or with an electric hand-held mixer in a large bowl, cream the butter, zest, lemon juice, and 2/3 cup sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Remove the bowl from the mixer. Stir in the poppy seeds.

Fold the flour in 3 parts into the butter mixture, alternating with the milk in 2 parts, until just combined. Take care not to overmix the batter. Divide the batter evenly into the muffin tin and sprinkle the tops with sugar. Bake until golden brown, about 25 minutes. Cool muffins in the pan on a rack. Serve warm.

February 6
Cheeseball with Pecans

In February we present three recipes that are perfect for a special Valentine’s meal, and also a paczki recipe for Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday. Enjoy the last few weeks before Lent with these rich and satisfying dishes! We start with a cheese ball appetizer, which is both classic and decadent — a perfect start to a romantic meal or any party. Enjoy!

4 tablespoons salted butter
1 cup shredded sharp, flavorful cheese, in any combination that might include Gruyère, Cheddar or blue cheese
3 ounces fresh goat cheese
4 ounces cream cheese
2 heaping tablespoons finely chopped scallions
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/4 teaspoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup chopped, salted roasted pecans
2 heaping tablespoons chopped flat leaf parsley

Allow the butter and cheeses to come to room temperature. They should sit out of the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

Put everything except the pecans and parsley in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl once or twice. It should take about 4 minutes.

Plop the mixture onto a piece of waxed paper and gently form into a ball. Place in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes or until firm enough to work with.

Mix the pecans and parsley together on a large plate or a cutting board, then roll the cheese ball in the mixture. Cover any surfaces with a sprinkling of the pecan and parsley mixture and pat into the sides until you have an evenly coated ball.

Wrap well in plastic and refrigerate. When ready to serve, let the ball sit out for at least a half hour to soften. Serve with good plain crackers or small toasts.

February 13
Steak Diane for Two

Filet mignon is the perfect dish for Valentine’s Day — for you and your sweetheart. This recipe calls for quick pan-fried steaks topped with a Worcestshire and mustard sauce which makes these steaks so flavorful. They only take a few minutes to make! Serve with the roasted asparagus dish below.

2 6-ounce beef fillets, cut from the tenderloin (filet mignon)
Salt and pepper
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon minced shallot or onion
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, more to taste
1/2 cup heavy cream or half-and-half
Lemon juice to taste, optional
Chopped fresh chives or parsley leaves for garnish

Flatten fillets a bit with the palm of your hand, the back of a skillet or a small mallet; they should be about 1 inch thick. Sprinkle with salt and a lot of pepper. In small skillet, preferably one just large enough to hold fillets, combine oil and tablespoon of butter over medium-high heat. When butter foam melts, sear steaks on both sides, just until browned, no more than 2 minutes a side. Remove to platter.

Wipe pan clean with moist towel; add remaining butter over medium heat, with shallot or onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 2 minutes. Stir in mustard, Worcestershire, and cream. Add some salt and a fair amount of pepper. Stir once or twice, then taste and adjust seasoning.

Keeping mixture at a steady simmer, return meat and accumulated juices to pan. Cook, turning two or three times, for 1-2 minutes more, until meat is done to your liking (125 degrees internal temperature for medium-rare).

Remove to a plate, and add lemon juice, if using, salt and pepper to the sauce as needed. Spoon sauce over meat, garnish with chives or parsley, and serve along with roasted asparagus (recipe below) and crusty white bread. A zesty red wine (like Pinot Noir) would be perfect with this meal.

February 20
Roasted Asparagus with Parmesan

Roasted asparagus is the perfect accompaniment to steak. This recipe is quick and easy to make — and topping the asparagus with Parmesan cheese gives it an added layer of flavor. Serve with lemon wedges.

1 bunch of fresh asparagus
2 tablespoons good olive oil
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1 lemon cut in wedges, for serving
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. If the stalks of the asparagus are thick, peel the bottom 1/2 of each. Lay them in a single layer on a sheet pan and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 15 to 20 minutes, until tender. Sprinkle with the Parmesan cheese and return to the oven for another minute. Serve with lemon wedges.

February 27
Paczki - Polish Jelly Rolls

In Poland, paczki (jelly rolls) are traditionally deep-fried and served during the week leading up to Ash Wednesday. Millions and millions of these light and fluffydelicacies are consumed in Poland in that one week! In the US, you can buy paczki at many bakeries, both Polish and American — usually on Shrove Tuesday or Ash Wednesday — but you can also try making them yourself at home. It takes a while to prepare them, but the effort is certainly worth it!

2 cups whole milk, warmed to a simmer, but not boiling
4 1/2teaspoons active dry yeast (2 packages)
3/4 cup + 1 pinch granulated sugar, divided
5 to 6 cups all-purpose flour, divided
1 egg
4 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4teaspoons salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
Peanut oil, canola oil or lard, for frying
Fruit preserves, for filling (raspberry, strawberry, apricot, or prune)
Powdered and granulated sugars, for coating
Pour warm milk into bowl of a stand mixer. Stir in the yeast and a pinch of granulated sugar. Let stand for 5 to 10 minutes, or until it has become bubbly.
Add 2 cups of flour to the mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until a smooth batter forms. Cover with plastic wrap and set in a warm spot for 30 minutes. The mixture should have risen and be very bubbly.
In a medium bowl, whisk the egg and egg yolks until pale yellow and frothy, about 3 minutes. Add the sugar, vanilla extract and salt, and whisk until combined and smooth.
Attach the dough hook to the mixer, add the egg mixture to the dough and mix on medium-low speed until mostly combined. Add the melted butter and mix to combine.

Gradually add 3 more cups of flour to the mixture and continue to knead until a very soft dough comes together. (It will not clean the sides of the bowl or form a ball; it will be rather slack and a bit sticky.) If necessary, add up to another 1 cup of flour, a spoonful at a time, until the dough forms.
Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and set in a warm spot until it has doubled in size.

Remove the dough from the bowl and turn out onto a floured work surface. With your fingers, push down the dough into an even layer. Sprinkle flour on the dough and roll it out to 1/2-inch thickness. If the dough doesn’t hold its shape and springs back, cover with a damp towel and let rest for a few minutes and try again.
Use a 3-inch biscuit cutter to cut out rounds of dough. Transfer the dough rounds to parchment-lined baking sheets. Gather scraps of dough and again roll out and cut until you have used up all of the dough. Cover the baking sheets loosely with plastic wrap and place in a warm, draft-free spot until almost doubled in size, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat at least 1½ inches of oil in a heavy-bottomed pot, Dutch oven, or deep skillet over medium heat to 350 degrees F. Carefully lower about six paczki into the oil at a time (be sure not to over-crowd the pan) and fry until the bottom is golden brown. Carefully turn them over and continue to fry until the other side is golden brown. Use a spider strainer or slotted spoon to remove them to a paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain. Allow the oil to come back to temperature, then repeat until all of the paczki have been fried.
Allow the paczki to cool until you are able to handle them easily. Using a filling tip, pipe fruit preserves into the sides of the paczki, then roll in powdered or granulated sugar. The paczki are best the same day they are made, but can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.

March 6
Three-Bean Soup

During Lent, you may consider preparing more meatless dishes for your family. We start off our March recipes with a vegetarian three-bean soup that tastes a lot like chili and is both nutritious and easy to prepare. This is followed by a fish-in-foil recipe, a stuffed pasta shell recipe, and a Polish noodle and apple casserole recipe. Who said that eating meatless can’t taste good?

1 large onion, chopped
1 large green pepper, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 - 3 teaspoons olive oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 can (16 ounces) kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (16 ounces) fat-free refried beans
1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can (14-1/2 ounces) vegetable or chicken broth
1 can (14-1/2 ounces) stewed tomatoes, cut up
3/4 cup tomato salsa
2 teaspoons chili powder
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
In a large saucepan, saute onion, green pepper, and celery in oil until tender. Add garlic; cook 1 minute longer. Add the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Yield: 8 servings.

Serve with these toppings on the side, if desired: shredded cheddar cheese, chopped scallions, sour cream, tortilla chips, and cilantro.

March 13
Pasta Shells Stuffed with Ricotta and Spinach

These pasta shells are stuffed with a tasty and creamy filling of cheese and spinach and then baked in a sweet tomato marinara sauce for 30-40 minutes. Leftovers are easy to reheat and perfect for lunch the next day.
24 jumbo pasta shells
1 15-oz. container ricotta
2 cups shredded mozzarella
1 cup shredded Parmesan
1 10-oz. package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1 large egg, lightly beaten
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
Pinch of ground nutmeg
1 26-oz. jar spaghetti sauce

Preheat oven to 375 F. Mist a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Cook pasta shells according to package label directions until just tender; drain and set aside to cool. While pasta cooks, in a large bowl stir together ricotta, 1 cup mozzarella, 1/2 cup Parmesan, spinach, egg, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, and nutmeg.

Spread 3/4 cup of the spaghetti sauce over bottom of baking dish. Stuff shells with cheese-and-spinach mixture and place in dish. Spoon remaining sauce over shells and sprinkle with remaining 1 cup mozzarella and 1/2 cup Parmesan.

Cover baking dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake about 10 minutes longer, until bubbly and cheese begins to brown.

March 20
Lemony Fish Fillets in Foil

These mild and flaky fish fillets only take 30 minutes in the oven. You bake them with onion, spices, parsley, lemon juice, and olive oil in foil packets for a quick, no-mess dinner. Halibut is best, but you can also use cod, salmon, trout, or tilapia fillets. Serve with rice and a green salad.
6 (6 ounce) halibut fillets
2 medium onions, sliced into rounds
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon paprika
4 tablespoons fresh parsley or dill, chopped
2 cloves garlic minced
2 -3 tablespoons lemon juice
2-3 tablespoons olive oil

Cut 6 foil squares large enough for each fillet.

Prepare mixture of salt, pepper, and paprika in small container
Place two onion slices in the centers of the foil squares and then place the fish fillets on top. Sprinkle each fillet lightly with one-sixth of the salt, pepper, and paprika mixture; also with one sixth of the chopped parsley or dill and minced garlic. Sprinkle lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil over each fillet then fold foil over fillets to make a pocket and fold the edges to seal. Place sealed packets on a baking sheet.
Bake in the preheated oven until fish flakes easily with a fork, about 30 minutes. Be careful opening packets as the steam inside will be hot.

March 27
Polish Apple and Noodle Casserole

This is bound to become a family favorite at any time of the year! Serve it for breakfast, brunch, or lunch — or as a dessert after dinner. This is one of Eastern Europe’s favorite comfort foods and it is very easy to make — and easy to love.

4 cups thinly sliced McIntosh apples, peeled
1/2 cup raisins, soaked in hot water for 10 minutes (optional)
3 cups cooked noodles
3/4 stick butter
1/2 cup sugar
Cinnamon to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Place 1 1/2 cups of the noodles in a greased 1 3/4 quart casserole, then add a layer of apples (2 cups), 1/4 cup of raisins if using, and 1/4 cup sugar on top of the apples and one half of the butter. Then add another layer of noodles and the remainder of the apples and raisins. On top, sprinkle the rest of the sugar and cinnamon to taste. Top with remaining butter. Bake at 350 degrees until apples are done, usually about 45 to 60 minutes.

April 3
Argulua Soup

Polish Easter Brunch, Swieconka, usually starts with a sour soup, followed by many types of salads and relishes that accompany a variety of meat dishes like ham, sausage, pates, and cold roasts. Below you’ll find recipes for an arugula soup served with hardboiled eggs and two spring salads. Also an easy no-bake version of a cheesecake, which is a modern-day take on the classic Polish cheesecake (sernik), traditionally served at Easter.

3 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 medium onions, sliced
2 leeks, trimmed, halved lengthwise, washed well and sliced
1 garlic clove, sliced
1/4 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1 1/2 pounds boiling potatoes (about 4 medium), peeled, quartered lengthwise and sliced
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/8teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/3 cup heavy cream or milk
2 bunches coarsely chopped arugula leaves (about 2 1/2 cups) plus more for garnish
Freshly ground black pepper
4 hard-boiled eggs, quartered (optional)

Melt two tablespoons of the butter in a heavy saucepan over medium low heat. Add the onions, leeks, garlic and salt, tossing to coat. Cover and cook slowly, tossing occasionally, until the vegetables have softened, about 20 minutes.

Add the sliced potatoes, broth, ginger, and nutmeg, stirring to combine. Raise the heat and bring the mixture to a boil, skimming off all the froth from the surface. Simmer, partly covered, until the potatoes are tender, 30 to 40 minutes.

Remove half the solids with a slotted spoon and puree until smooth in a food processor or a blender. Return the puree to the soup and add the cream or milk. Bring to a boil, then thin the soup if desired with additional broth. (The soup can be prepared in advance to this point, then returned to a boil at serving time.)

Before serving, scatter the chopped arugula over the surface of the soup and cover the pan. Cook until the arugula has wilted, about two minutes. Stir, add salt and pepper to taste, making sure to season the soup carefully. Swirl in the remaining tablespoon of butter and serve immediately over hardboiled egg quarters, if desired. Garnish with more chopped fresh arugula.

April 10
Couscous Salad

This light salad will go perfectly with your Easter ham and other cold meats. Cooking the couscous according to package instructions only takes a few minutes, and then you add in fresh chopped tomatoes, cucumber, mint leaves, and green onions, dress the salad with olive oil and lemon, for a side dish that is tasty, nutritious, and easy to make, at Easter or any time.

1 cucumber, peeled and diced
2 medium tomatoes, diced
1 lemon, juiced
2 wide strips lemon rind
3 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 cups instant couscous (a 10-ounce box)
2 cups water
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Pinch cayenne
1/2 cup torn mint leaves, stems saved
1/2 cup roughly chopped flat leaf parsley, stems saved
3 scallions (white and green), chopped
1/2 cup pine nuts

Toss the tomatoes, cucumbers, and lemon juice in a medium bowl with 2 teaspoons of the salt. Set aside.

Put the couscous into a large bowl. In a pot, bring the water, lemon rind, 3 tablespoons of the oil, the remaining salt, cayenne, and herb stems to a boil over high heat. Pour the liquid over the couscous, stir with fork to separate any clumps. Cover with a lid, plate, or plastic wrap and set aside for 5 minutes. Remove the lemon rind and herb stems and fluff with a fork again.

Add the tomato/cucumber mixture, scallions, mint, parsley, and pine nuts to the couscous. Drizzle the remaining oil over the salad, toss, and serve. (Optional garnishes: crumbled feta cheese and sliced black olives)

April 17
Sweet Potato Salad

This sweet potato salad is tossed with scallions, red pepper, and sweet onion in a light mayonnaise dressing. Let the salad sit in the refrigerator for an hour before serving for the flavors to meld.

2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
1 sweet onion, finely chopped
1 red pepper, seeded and finely chopped
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons orange juice
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Add the sweet potatoes to a large pot of cold salted water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook the potatoes until tender, about 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes and let cool in a colander.

Once the potatoes are cool, transfer to a large serving bowl and add the chopped onion, red pepper, and green onions.

In a separate bowl make the dressing with the mayonnaise, orange juice, smoked paprika, cumin, and salt and pepper to taste. Whisk to combine, pour over the potatoes and gently mix. Refrigerate for one hour before serving for the flavors to meld.

April 24
Fluffy Cheesecake

This easy, no-bake cheesecake is sure to be a hit on your Easter holiday table, or anytime. Serve with fresh strawberries, raspberries, or blueberries or simply with orange or lemon zest grated over the top.

1 1/2 cups heavy cream, chilled
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
9-inch graham cracker crust, pre-baked

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, on medium-high speed, whip the heavy cream and powdered sugar just until stiff peaks form. Scrape the whipped cream into a clean bowl and refrigerate.

Using the same stand mixer bowl, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese until smooth, about 2 minutes on high speed. With the mixer on low, gradually add the granulated sugar and then mix on medium-high speed until smooth. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl then add the sour cream and vanilla and mix until combined.

Remove the bowl from the mixer and take the whipped cream out of the refrigerator. Gently fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture until fully incorporated and homogenous. Spoon the filling into the prepared graham cracker crust and refrigerate for 4 hours or until set before serving.

May 1
Egg Salad Sandwich

In May we present five recipes for classic American sandwiches, some with a new twist. Everyone loves a delicious sandwich for lunch -- or even for dinner -- if served with a soup and/or salad. This egg salad recipe calls for more yolks than whites so it is extra creamy and extra yellow too! The dill and scallions add a touch of crunch and a touch of green to this popular sandwich.

8 large eggs
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2 tablespoons chopped celery
2 tablespoons chopped green onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
salt and pepper to taste
4 slices white or whole wheat bread, toasted

Put the eggs in a medium pan and cover them with cold water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for 10 minutes. Place pan in the sink under cold running water until the eggs are cool.

Peel the eggs. Remove the yolks from 4 of them (save the whites for another use). Chop the 4 yolks with the 4 remaining whole eggs.

In a medium bowl, gently and quickly mix the chopped eggs and mayonnaise. Add the celery, green onions, and dill and mix the egg salad once more, adding salt and pepper if needed, and make into sandwiches by piling salad liberally onto bread slices.

May 8
Chicken Salad Sandwich

Rotisserie chicken purchased at the grocery store is perfect for the preparation of this salad and will take less time than roasting your own chicken. This is definitely a sandwich that you can serve to your family for dinner, along with a soup and/or a cucumber and tomato salad.

1 rotisserie chicken (about 3 lbs)
1 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 cup drained capers
1/2 cup plain yogurt
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
salt to taste, if desired
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
3 tablespoons finely chopped scallions
8 to 12 slices rye bread, either freshly toasted or left untoasted
Salad leaves, pickle strips or sliced radishes for garnish

Strip the chicken meat from the bones and cut it into bite-size pieces. Remove skin, if desired. There should be about 3 or 3 1/2 cups. Put the meat into a mixing bowl. Add the celery, scallions, and capers.

Blend together the yogurt, mayonnaise, and vinegar in a small bowl and add to the chicken mixture. Add salt, pepper, parsley and scallions, and toss to blend.

Use the rye bread to make sandwiches, garnished, if desired, with lettuce, pickle strips, or radish slices.

May 15
Classic Tuna Salad Sandwich

Adding celery and red bell peppers to this salad gives it extra crunch, and the capers add another level of salty and briny flavor. Serve on toasted crusty white or whole wheat bread slices, garnished with arugula leaves and tomato slices, if desired.

2 (6-ounce) cans solid, waterpacked tuna
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup finely diced celery
3 tablespoons finely diced red onion
3 tablespoons finely minced red bell pepper
2 tablespoons drained capers
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Arugula leaves and tomato slices (optional)
Sliced sandwich bread of choice, toasted

In a medium bowl, combine the tuna, mayonnaise, celery, onion, bell pepper, capers, and lemon juice. Mix with a fork until thoroughly combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve on the sandwich bread of your choice. Garnish sandwich with lettuce leaves and tomato slices, if desired.

May 22
Grilled Cheese Sandwich

There is nothing more simple or more satisfying that a grilled cheese sandwich – whether for lunch or dinner or as a midnight snack! The recipe below is for one sandwich, but you can multiply the ingredients to make more. If serving for dinner, than tomato soup is the classic accompaniment for this all-time American favorite.

2 slices bread, either soft sandwich toast slices or larger peasant-style bread slices, not more than 1/2 inch thick
2 ounces grated cheddar (or other cheese),

Heat a heavy pan or skiller over medium-low heat. Thinly spread one side of each bread slice with butter. Spread the other side of each slice with mayonnaise and place the bread, mayonnaise-side-down, in the pan. Divide the cheese evenly on top of the buttered slices. Adjust the heat so the bread sizzles gently.

When the cheese is about halfway melted, use a spatula to flip one slice over on top of the other, and press lightly to melt. Keep turning the sandwich, pressing gently, until the sandwich is compact, both sides are crusty, and the cheese is melted – this will take a few minutes more.

May 29
Hummus, Avocado, and Tomato Sandwich

This sandwich is sure to please – and not only the vegetarians in your family! It’s quick and easy to make and very tasty, as well as healthy, when served on toasted whole wheat slices.

1 cup of hummus
2 large tomatoes
2 ripe avocadoes
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 red onion sliced
1/2 cup arugula leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 slices of toasted whole wheat bread

Slice tomatoes into 16 slices. Halve avocadoes and slice each half into four slices. Sprinkle lime juice over the avocado slices.

Lightly toast the bread and spread four slices generously with the hummus. Top each slice of bread with four tomato slices and four avocado slices, and then garnish with the red onion and a few arugula leaves. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper and cover with the four remaining slices of bread. Enjoy!

June 5
Aspargus Guacamole

Nothing says spring better than asparagus fresh from the farmer’s market! This woodsy, earthy, and creamy vegetable is perfect in many dishes, from soups to dips to pastas to frittatas or as a side with any meat, fish, or egg entree. Enjoy asparagus season this spring with some of these delicious recipes, starting with a creamy asparagus guacamole.

1 pound medium thick fresh asparagus
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
2 tablespoons very finely minced sweet red pepper
1/2 cup finely chopped tomatoes
1 small canned green chili, seeded and minced (about 1 tablespoon), or minced fresh green chili to taste
1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro leaves
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon of salt
Cayenne pepper to taste

Wash asparagus, snap off the tough ends and simmer in water until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and allow to cool. Cut off the tips (about 1 inch off the top) and reserve them.

Cut the spears into half-inch pieces and process to a smooth puree in a blender or food processor.

Fold in remaining ingredients. Then either fold in the tips or use them to garnish the dip. Serve with corn chips or cut raw vegetables.

June 12
Chilled Asparagus and Avocado Soup

A combination of asparagus and avocado makes this soup extra creamy and luscious. Serve it cold on a hot spring or summer day as the perfect starter to an elegant dinner.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 white onion, minced
2 stalks celery, minced
1 lb asparagus, tough ends removed and sliced into 1 inch lengths
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
6 cups vegetable stock
2 medium avocados
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup sweet cream

To garnish (optional):
Olive oil or sweet cream
Chopped parsley or chive stalks
Asparagus spears

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot. Add the onion and celery and cook over medium heat until the onions and celery are translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the asparagus, salt, pepper, and bay leaves. Sautee for another 3 minutes. Add the vegetable stock and bring the soup to a soft boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Remove from the stovetop and allow to come to room temperature.

Add the soup, avocado, and lemon juice to a high powered blender. (You might need to blend in batches depending on the size of your blender.) Blend until creamy. Add sweet cream at the end to get to the desired consistency. Chill soup in the refrigerator for at least one hour before serving. Drizzle with olive oil or sweet cream and garnish with chopped parsley and additional asparagus spears, if desired.

June 19
Roasted Asparagus Frittata

Asparagus tastes best when roasted — follow the recipe below to serve the spears as a side dish — or prep them this way to use in a delicious frittata. A skillet-cooked frittata is a great breakfast or brunch dish you’re sure to love!

8 to 12 medium to fat asparagus spears, trimmed
Olive oil
Salt and black pepper
4 eggs
1/4 to 1/2 cup parsley, roughly chopped
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Spread asparagus on a baking sheet and toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Roast, shaking the pan occasionally, until the asparagus is lightly charred and tender, about 12 minutes. You can serve the asparagus immediately if serving as a side dish; for the frittata, let the asparagus sit at room temperature for an hour or two, or refrigerate overnight.

Beat the eggs with salt, pepper, half the parsley, and half the cheese in a medium bowl. Cut the roasted asparagus into 2-inch lengths and arrange in a single layer in a 10-inch nonstick skillet. Drizzle with olive oil and set over medium heat.

Pour the egg mixture over the asparagus and oil. Use a spatula if necessary to make a round frittata. Cook over medium heat until nearly set, tilting the pan and lifting the edge of the set egg to let the liquid egg flow underneath, 4-5 minutes.

When the top is almost dry, flip the frittata onto a plate, then slide it back into the pan on the other side. Let cook for just a few seconds, then flip out onto a plate.

Sprinkle with the remaining parsley and cheese, and serve hot, warm, or at room temperature with warm white bread and a simple green salad.

June 26
Zesty Asparagus Pasta

Garlic, red pepper flakes, hot pepper sauce, and parmesan cheese add zest and flavor to this simple yet yummy asparagus and pasta dish. Enjoy!

5 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 to 2 dashes hot pepper sauce
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
1 pound fresh asparagus, cut into one-and-a-half inch pieces
Salt to taste
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese (more for garnish)
1/2 pound mostaccioli or penne, cooked and drained

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add butter, garlic, red pepper flakes and hot pepper sauce and cook for 1-2 minutes minutes. Do not let the garlic brown too much. Add the asparagus pieces, salt, and pepper and saute until asparagus is crisp-tender, about 8-9 minutes. Stir in cheese. Pour over hot pasta in a medium bowl and toss to coat. Grate more cheese over pasta before serving, if desired.

July 3
Brownie Ice-Cream Sandwiches

Just in time for July 4th -- you can make your own ice-cream sandwiches, using a brownie dough for the crust and store-bought vanilla ice cream for the filling. Easy to make and store, these little squares of perfection are sure to get raves from your family and guests. They should be made at least one day ahead of serving and can be stored for several days in your freezer. Be sure to make plenty of these delicious summertime treats and keep plenty stocked in your freezer!

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly, plus more at room temperature for the pan
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 pints (1 quart) good-quality vanilla ice cream

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 13- by 18-inch rimmed baking sheet and line it with parchment paper. (The buttered surface allows the parchment paper to stick while you spread the batter on it.)
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.
In a large bowl, whisk together butter and sugar until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat until smooth. Beat in vanilla. Add the flour mixture and beat until combined. (The batter will be thick.)
Scrape batter into the baking pan and, using a spatula, smooth it to a thin, even layer, leaving a small border of parchment paper around the edges. Bake until cake is set, 10 to 12 minutes. Transfer pan to a rack to cool completely.

When you are ready to assemble the sandwiches, remove ice cream from freezer and let it stand for a few minutes to soften slightly. (You can use store bought ice-cream or, of course, you can make your own if you have an ice-cream maker and are feeling ambitious.)
Lifting the parchment paper, transfer the cake to a large cutting board. Cut cake in half crosswise so that you have two pieces that are about 9 by 13 inches each. Using a large ice cream scoop, dollop ice cream evenly over the top of one half of the cake. Using a spatula, spread the ice cream into an even layer. Place the remaining piece of cake on top of the ice cream, with the top facing down, to make a large sandwich cake. Immediately wrap it well in plastic wrap and freeze until firm, at least 8 hours.
Remove the large sandwich cake from the freezer and take off the plastic wrap. Trim about 1/4 inch off of each edge and then cut into 12 smaller sandwiches. Wrap each sandwich individually in plastic wrap and freeze again until firm and ready to serve.

July 10
Grilled Caesar Salad

Another summertime favorite is this grilled Caesar salad. It only takes a few minutes on the grill so you can make it while the meat or fish you prepared earlier for your main course is resting. Make the dressing ahead of time so all you have to do is grill the romaine hearts quickly, top them with the dressing and croutons, and serve along with your main course. Enjoy!

2 garlic cloves
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3/4 cup, plus 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus shaved parmesan cheese for serving
3 heads romaine hearts, sliced lengthwise in 1/2
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups croutons (optional)

Preheat (or turn down) grill to medium heat.

In a blender, combine the garlic, lemon juice, and Dijon mustard. Slowly drizzle in 3/4 cup olive oil to emulsify. Add the grated parmesan and pulse a few times to incorporate all ingredients.

Cut the romaine hearts in half lengthwise, leaving the stems on. Drizzle romaine with the remaining olive oil and season with salt and pepper on both sides; place on grill for 1 minute per side until charred and slightly wilted. Remove gently with tongs and place on a large platter. Drizzle with dressing, top with freshly ground black pepper and shaved parmesan cheese, and add croutons, if using.

July 17
Red Potato Salad with Vinaigrette

There's nothing complicated about this potato salad -- it's just boiled red potatoes tossed with a simple Dijon mustard vinaigrette and a generous smattering of scallions and fresh herbs -- and that's the beauty of it -- it's simple to make and delicious served cold or at room temperature. The flavor gets better as it sits, making it an ideal dish to bring to a summer potluck or picnic.

3 pounds red new potatoes
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons whole grain Dijon mustard
1/2 cup olive oil
6 scallions, chopped
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1/4 cup chopped dill
Salt and pepper

Place the unpeeled red potatoes in a large stockpot, and cover with water. Bring to a boil, and cook until the potatoes are fork-tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and allow to cool. When cool, cut the potatoes in half.

Combine the vinegar and mustard in a large bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil.

Add the potatoes to the vinaigrette, and mix gently but thoroughly. Toss in the scallions, parsley, and dill. Add salt and pepper to taste.

July 24
Easy Grilled Chicken Skewers

Chicken skewers are quick and easy to make on your grill. Marinate the chicken pieces for 20 minutes in lemon juice, olive oil, and herbs, and then cook for 15-20 minutes over a medium-hot grill. Summer dinners do not get much simpler than this!

2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 tbsp fresh minced cilantro or parsley
2 tsp minced fresh garlic
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
8 wooden skewers, pre-soaked in water for 10-15 minutes

Cut the chicken into 1 1/2 inch strips for skewering. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, cilantro or parsley, crushed garlic, paprika, salt, cumin, turmeric, and cayenne pepper. Place the chicken pieces in a glass dish. Pour the marinade over the chicken and stir to coat. Cover with plastic wrap. Place in the refrigerator and let the chicken marinate for 20-30 minutes. If using wooden skewers, soak them in water while the chicken is marinating.

Generously grease the grill and heat to medium-high. Skewer the chicken, evenly divided between 6-8 skewers.
Place the skewers on a medium-hot grill and cook for 10-15 minutes, turning once during cooking, until cooked through. Let rest for a few minutes before serving. The grilled Caesar salad and red potato salad (see recipes above) will be delicious accompaniments to go with the chicken skewers. And the key lime pie (see recipe below) will be the perfect ending to a very memorable summer supper.

July 31
Key Lime Pie

This pie is fun and easy to make, and the large amount of key lime juice in the filling guarantees a tart and impressive flavor. Use a ready-to-eat graham cracker pie crust for convenience. You can pull off this delicious summer dessert in no time at all!

6 large egg yolks
2 14-ounce cans sweetened condensed milk
1 cup freshly squeezed or bottled key lime juice
1 tablespoon finely grated lime zest plus more for garnish
One prepared 9-inch graham cracker crust, refrigerated
2 to 3 cups lightly sweetened whipped cream, for topping

In a mixing bowl, beat yolks until thick, about 3 minutes. Add condensed milk, lime juice, and 1 tablespoon lime zest. Beat again until well blended, about 1 minute.

Pour into pie shell, filling it to the brim and mounding slightly on top. Cover with plastic wrap, stretching wrap tightly across surface. Freeze until firm, at least three hours.

Just before serving, remove from freezer and discard plastic wrap. Allow to rest for 5 minutes, then spread with whipped cream. Top with extra lime slices and lime zest before serving.

August 7
Chilled Golden Beet Soup

A staple of chilled summer soups in Poland is the “chlodnik” made from red beets. For a variation on this theme, prepare the soup with golden beets instead for a sweeter, smoother taste. Garnish with marinated shallots and diced beets along with fresh herbs and sour cream. Serve with crusty white bread.

1 tablespoon finely chopped shallots
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for serving
Ground black pepper
2 1/2 pounds golden beets (about 8 to 10 medium-size beets)
1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
3  cups buttermilk
1/2 lemon, juiced (about 1 tablespoon)
Small handful of basil leaves, for serving
Small handful of dill fronds, for serving
1/3 to 1/2 cup sour cream, for serving

In a small bowl, combine chopped shallots and vinegar and let macerate for 20 minutes. Whisk in 2 tablespoons olive oil and season with a few grinds of black pepper. Set aside.

Put beets in a large pot over medium heat and add 1 teaspoon salt and enough water to cover. Boil for 25 to 40 minutes, depending on size, until tender when poked with the tip of a knife. Drain beets and let cool, then peel off the skins with your fingers.

Cut 1 beet into a small, even dice, then add to the shallot mixture, season with a pinch of salt (or to taste) and set aside. Cut the remaining beets into large chunks and purée in a blender with buttermilk and lemon juice until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate for 1 hour, or until completely cool.

Ladle the soup into bowls and drizzle with a teaspoon of olive oil. Serve with marinated beets and shallots, chopped herbs, and sour cream on the side, so people can garnish their own bowls as they like.

August 14
Classic Caprese Salad

This classic summer salad is both delicious and easy to prepare. And this is the season for sweet and juicy tomatoes! Use different colored heirloom tomatoes for a pretty presentation and use the best mozzarella cheese you can get for a smooth and creamy taste.

1 pound fresh, best-quality mozzarella (preferably buffalo milk)
4 medium heirloom tomatoes
1 bunch fresh basil, leaves only, some reserved for garnish
Flaky sea salt, such as Maldon
Coarsely ground black pepper
High-quality extra-virgin olive oil

While mozzarella is cold, slice it into 1/4-inch slices. Let it sit, loosely covered, to come to room temperature while you prepare the tomatoes.

Slice the tomatoes into 1/4-inch to 1/2-inch thick wedges, leaving them in a single layer on the cutting board as you go. Sprinkle generously with salt.

On a serving platter, arrange the mozzarella, tomato slices, and whole basil leaves so they overlap slightly. Pour any tomato juices from the cutting board over the dish. Sprinkle again with salt and pepper, and drizzle with plenty of oil. Top with reserved basil, and serve.

August 21
Grilled Swordfish Steaks

For a simple summer supper, prepare these swordfish steaks for your family. You only have to grill them 1 - 2 minutes per side and then serve, topped with a lemony vinaigrette and arugula leaves. This recipe is truly quick and easy — and delicious too!

2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup good olive oil
2 teaspoons minced fresh oregano leaves or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 (1/2-inch-thick) swordfish steaks (5 to 6 ounces each)
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved (optional)
4 ounces baby arugula
Grated zest of 1 lemon

Light a charcoal grill or preheat a gas or stovetop grill until very hot.

For the sauce, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, oregano, red pepper flakes, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 teaspoon black pepper. Set aside.

When the grill is ready, sprinkle the fish with salt and pepper and cook over medium-high heat for 2 minutes on one side, then turn and cook for 1 to 2 minutes on the other side until almost cooked through. Remove to a flat dish, prick holes in the fish with the tines of a fork, and pour the lemon sauce over the fish while it’s still hot. Sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper, cover with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for 5 minutes.

When ready to serve, place the swordfish on dinner plates or a serving platter, pile the arugula and tomatoes on top, drizzle with the sauce from the fish, and sprinkle with the grated lemon zest. Serve warm. 

August 28
Grilled Peaches

The perfect ending to any summer meal are these simple grilled peaches. They take only 4 - 5 minutes per side and taste great served with vanilla ice-cream or yoghurt and honey.

4 to 6 peaches
Olive oil

Heat a gas grill to medium. If you are cooking on a charcoal grill, wait until the fire has died down to medium to low heat.

Cut the peaches along their seams, all the way around, and twist their halves off their pits. Brush the cut sides of the peaches with olive oil and grill, cut side down, until the fruit has developed grill marks and started to soften, about 4 to 5 minutes.

Brush the tops with oil, turn over and move to the side of the grill to continue cooking over indirect heat, another 4 to 5 minutes. (You can add flavor by brushing them with maple syrup and bourbon, or molasses and butter.) Serve with vanilla ice cream or yoghurt and honey.

September 4
Corn and Tomato Salad

September is the season for fresh veggies, both from our gardens or from the farmers market. We present four recipes below highlighting this bounty. Especially plentiful at this time of year are fresh corn and tomatoes - and this recipe is the perfect combination of both ingredients. Add fresh cilantro and toss in a red wine vinaigrette for a tasty, crunchy late summer salad!

10 ears fresh corn, husked
2 pounds tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup finely chopped red onion
2/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 avocado, sliced, for garnish (optional)
1/2 lime, juiced (optional)

Cook husked ears of corn in large pot with boiling salted water until just tender, about 5-6 minutes. Drain; cool
to room temperature. Cut corn kernels from cobs; transfer kernels to large bowl. Add remaining ingredients;
toss to blend. Season salad to taste with salt and pepper. (Can be made two hours ahead of time. Let stand at room temperature, tossing occasionally). Garnish with avocado slices and add juice of 1/2 lime before serving,
if desired.

September 11
Pickled Cole Slaw

Late summer is the perfect time for grilling burgers, steaks, brats, or fish fillets, as we enjoy the last warm evenings of the season. Pickled cole slaw, using both green and red cabbage, is a tasty accompaniment to grilled meats and fish. Add jalapeno peppers, for an extra kick of heat.

5 cups chopped green cabbage (1 1/2-inch pieces)
2 cups chopped purple cabbage (1 1/2-inch pieces)
2/3 heaping cup chopped sweet onion
2/3 cup finely diced carrot
2/3 cup finely diced red bell pepper
1/3 cup diced jalapeno pepper (optional)

1 large clove garlic
1/2 tablespoon salt, more to taste
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil

Juice of 1 freshly squeezed lime
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Make the slaw: Put the chopped and diced vegetables in a bowl or other container that will fit in the refrigerator.

Make the dressing: Crush the garlic and with the side of a knife work the salt into the clove until it makes a rough paste. Add the garlic paste, ginger, vinegar, oil, and 1/3 cup water to a saucepan and bring to a low boil. Cook for 3 or 4 minutes, stirring now and then. Remove from heat. Allow to cool for 1 or 2 minutes, then pour over the vegetables, tossing well to combine. Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.

Just before serving, toss with the lime juice and a few grinds of black pepper. Taste and add salt if needed.

September 18
Kale Slaw with Peanut Dressing

Here is the absolutely best way to eat kale all autumn long: a crunchy, salty, slightly sweet slaw, with peanuts and cider vinegar. It's kale heaven! Eat as is for lunch or server as a side dish with your favorite grilled meats, fish, or veggies.

2 large bunches curly kale, about 2 pounds
2 red bell peppers, cleaned and cut into fine strips
1 large carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
3/4 cup roasted, salted peanuts, divided
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon packed light-brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
Pinch red pepper flakes (optional)

Fold each leaf of kale in half lengthwise and slice out the center rib. Discard ribs. Roll a stack of the leaves up and slice in half lengthwise, then crosswise into very fine ribbons. You should have 10 to 12 cups of finely chopped kale in the end. Wash and rinse thoroughly in a salad spinner.

Toss the kale with the sliced bell peppers. Slice the carrot very thinly then toss with the kale, red pepper, and 1/2 cup of the peanuts.

In a chopper or small food processor, briefly puree the remaining 1/4 cup peanuts, oil, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper flakes. Pulse it just a few times; the peanuts should be partially pureed, but with some nibs and nubs still left in the dressing.

Toss the dressing with the slaw and let it sit for at least 15 minutes before serving.


September 25
Steak with Avocado, Black Bean, and Red Onion Salad

You can eat the grilled steak, salad, and tortillas separately, or you can wrap them all up and enjoy them fajita-style. Adding steak to avocado, onions, and beans makes this a meal everyone is sure to love, including the meat-lovers in your family!

2 New York strip steaks (1 1/2 lbs. total)
6 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons pepper, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons sweet smoked Spanish paprika
2 ripe avocados, sliced
1 can black beans, rinsed
1 cup thinly sliced red onion
1/2 cup cilantro sprigs, roughly chopped
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 small jalapeno chile, seeded and very thinly sliced
Warm flour tortillas

Heat grill to medium high. Brush steaks with 2 tbsp. oil and season with 1 tsp. each salt and pepper and the paprika. Grill steaks until done the way you like, turning once 10 to 12 minutes total for medium-rare.
Transfer steaks to a cutting board and let rest for a few minutes.

Gently toss the avocados in a large bowl with the red onion, black beans, cilantro, remaining olive oil, lime juice, jalapeno, and remaining 1/2 tsp. each of salt and pepper. Slice steaks across the grain and serve with the salad and tortillas. Enjoy!


October 2
Macaroni Salad with Kosciusko Mustard

In October, we present four Polish American recipes -- the first one is an American classic, macaroni salad with tuna, ham, turkey, or chicken -- but the dressing uses Polish-inspired Kosciusko mustard, which is produced in the U.S., as a spicy ingredient. Enjoy this salad on your fall picnic or barbecue!

1 lb elbow macaroni, cooked al dente and cooled rapidly
1 cup canned albacore tuna (or substitute 1 cup of diced ham, turkey, or chicken)
1 cup celery, diced
1/4 cup canned red pimento, rinsed well and diced
1/2 cup sweet pickle relish
1/2 cup green onion, diced
1/2 cup frozen green peas, thawed
2-3 tablespoons Kosciuszko Spicy Brown Beer Mustard
1 cup mayonnaise
Salt, to taste
Pepper, to taste
2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
1/2 cup chopped parsley or dill

Cook the macaroni according to the package directions; drain and cool under cold water; set aside. In a medium bowl, prepare the dressing by mixing together the celery, pimento, relish, green onion, peas, mustard, and mayonnaise. Add the macaroni and protein (tuna, ham, turkey, or chicken). Toss gently and season to taste. Place on a platter or in a glass bowl and garnish with egg slices and chopped fresh parsley or dill.

October 9
Cream of Cauliflower Soup

Polish soups are delicious, both hot and cold. And this recipe is for one of the classics -- cream of cauliflower soup with onions, carrots, potatoes, and fresh dill. You can make it a day ahead of time. The flavors only get better after they have a chance to blend overnight. And for an American touch, you can add bacon crumbles
as a garnish just before serving.

4-5 cups chicken stock
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 medium red-skinned potato, chopped
1 medium carrot, peeled and sliced
2 1/2 cups cauliflower florets
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons flour
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons fresh dill, chopped
2 slices bacon, fried and crumbled (optional)

Melt butter in a large stock pot and saute the diced onion for about 5 minutes, until translucent but not browned. Add potato and carrot and then the chicken stock and simmer for 10 minutes; add cauliflower and cook for 10 minutes more; add salt and pepper to taste. In a medium bowl, combine the cream, flour, and egg yolk beating them together with a whisk. Add 1 cup of warm stock to the cream mixture, mixing gently, then gradually pour the cream mixture back into the remaining soup, stirring constantly. Simmer for about 10 minutes; do not boil. Garnish with the fresh dill and optional bacon crumbles. Makes four servings.


October 16
Polish Minced Meat Cutlets

Kotlety mielone, or minced meat cutlets, are a Polish classic. They fall somewhere in between a meatball and a hamburger patty, and are thus uniquely Polish. They are both delicious and easy to make -- just mix everything together in a bowl, roll in bread crumbs, fry for a few minutes per side, and they are ready -- crispy on the outside and soft and scrumptious on the inside. Enjoy!

3 slices soft white bread, crusts removed, or 2 hamburger buns
1/2 cup milk
1 cup onion, diced small
3/4 pound ground beef
3/4 pound ground pork
1 whole egg, beaten
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 cup peanut, grapeseed, or vegetable oil

Soften the bread in the milk in a small bowl for a few minutes, then squeeze out excess milk, and place in a larger bowl. Add all of the remaining ingredients to the large bowl (except for the bread crumbs and oil) and mix well. Shape meat mixture to cutlets of your desired size. (This recipe should make 10-12 medium-sized patties). Press the cutlets on both sides into the breadcrumbs spread out on a plate (however many breadcrumbs stick is fine -- the cutlet does not have to be fully dredged), and fry in the oil of your choice over medium-high heat until done (about 7-8 minutes per side). Place on a foil-lined pan and keep warm in a 200-degree oven until all patties are done and you are ready to serve. Side dishes that go well with these cutlets include mashed potatoes, potato pieorgi, sauerkraut, braised red cabbage, pickles, or cucumber salad. The patties also taste great the next day on rye bread as a sandwich.

October 23
Braised Red Cabbage

This Polish sweet-and-sour braised red cabbage side dish, known as "czerwona kapusta zasmazana," comes together in a snap, especially if you use a food processor to shred the cabbage and onion. Red cabbage is sweeter than green or white cabbage and retains its brilliant color even after it's cooked, due to the vinegar that is added to the recipe. It goes well with just about any dish, but is a favorite in Poland with ham, pork, sausage --- or the minced meat cutlets in the recipe above.

1 (3-pound) head red cabbage, washed, dried, cored and shredded
1 medium onion, shredded
2 tablespoons butter or canola oil
1 cup water
4 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
4 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon salt

In a large pot or Dutch oven, cook the cabbage and onion in butter or oil over medium heat until it wilts, about 5 - 7 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together water, vinegar, brown sugar, pepper, and salt until the sugar is dissolved. Add to cabbage mixture. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low.

Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until cabbage is tender, about 15 minutes. Check seasoning. Refrigerate overnight to improve flavor. Freezes well.

October 30
Apple and Peanut Butter Teeth

A healthy treat for Halloween -- red or green apples with a hint of sweetness thanks to rows of marshmallow "teeth" held in place with peanut butter. and topped with mini marshmallows. Enjoy!

2 - 3 red or green apples
jar of smooth peanut butter (you will need about 1/2 cup per apple - depending on how much you choose to put between the apple slices
bag of mini marshmallows

Cut the apples into slices about 1/4 to 3/8 inch wide. Place a teaspoon of peanut butter onto each slice. Then put a row of mini marshmallows across one apple slice. Place another apple slice on top and sandwich them together. Press firmly until they stick -- and there you have your teeth!
Happy Halloween to all!!

November 6
Classic Apple and Almond Stuffing

Everyone has their favorite Thanksgiving recipes, but some brave chefs might be willing to introduce a new dish to the family's traditional menu from time to time -- like a new stuffing or side dish or dessert. Try the simple apple and almond stuffing below, which is perfect for any vegetarians in your family, but tasty enough so that everyone else will love it too! The recipe calls for you to bake the bread cubes, but you can substitute store-bought stuffing cubes (unseasoned) if you prefer.

12-14 cups 1-inch bread cubes (2 baguettes)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
2 cups medium-diced yellow onion (2 large)
2 cups medium-diced celery (3 large stalks)
2 Granny Smith apples, unpeeled, cored and large diced
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary leaves
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups chicken stock
2 cups slivered blanched almonds

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.  Put the bread cubes on a 13 by 18 by 1-inch baking sheet and bake them in the oven for 7 minutes.

In a large saute pan, melt the butter and add the onion, celery, apples, parsley, rosemary, salt, and pepper. Saute for 10 minutes, until the mixture is soft.

Combine the bread cubes and cooked vegetables in a large bowl and add the chicken stock, and almonds. Mix well.

Turn oven up to 350 F. Place stuffing in a buttered 13 x 9 baking dish, cover with aluminum foil, and bake for 45 minutes before serving.

November 13
Easy Sausage and Herb Stuffing

In this recipe, Italian sausage meets classic French herbs to produce a truly iconic American dish!
If you cannot find bulk Italian sausage in your grocery store, simply buy Italian sausages and remove the casings.

8 cups (14 oz) store-bought stuffing cubes, unseasoned
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
1-1/2 cups diced yellow onion (from 1 large or 2 small onions)
1 cup diced celery (from 3 large celery stalks)
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 pound bulk sweet Italian sausage
2 and 3/4 cups chicken broth
1 large egg, beaten
1 tablespoon fresh chopped rosemary
1 tablespoon fresh chopped sage
1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9 x 13-inch baking dish with butter.

Place the stuffing cubes in a large mixing bowl.

In a large saute pan, melt the butter. Add the onions and celery and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 8 minutes, or until the vegetables are soft. Add the garlic and cook 2 minutes more.

Add the vegetables to the stuffing cubes. (Don't wash the pan but scrape out every last bit of vegetables, otherwise they will burn in the next step.)

In the same pan, cook the sausage over medium heat for 8-10 minutes, until browned and cooked through, breaking up the sausage with a metal spatula while cooking (the largest pieces should be no greater than
1/4-inch). Add the browned sausage to the bread cubes and vegetables.

Add the chicken broth, egg, rosemary, sage, parsley, salt and pepper to the bread cube mixture and mix until the bread is soft and moistened. Transfer the stuffing to the prepared baking dish and bake for 65-75 minutes, uncovered, until deeply golden and crisp on top.

Make Ahead: If you'd like to prepare this ahead of time, you can either assemble and refrigerate it until you're ready to bake it -- or fully prepare and refrigerate it. To reheat, cover with foil and place in a 325 degrees F oven for about 20 minutes, or until hot.

November 20
Roasted Brussels Sprout Salad

For many people, Thanksgiving is not Thanksgiving without Brussels sprouts somewhere on the menu! For many other people, these mini-cabbages are their least favorite part of the meal -- but perhaps you can try to change their minds with this sweet and tangy salad that combines the charred taste of the sprouts with the saltiness of the feta and the sweetness of apples, grapes, and pomegranates.

For the salad:
1 pound Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed and sliced into quarters
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
5 big handfuls baby arugula (5 to 6 cups)
1 Fuji or Gala apple, diced
1 cup red seedless grapes, sliced in half
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds (optional)
vinaigrette dressing, recipe follows

For the dressing:
3/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar (or your choice of vinegar)
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 shallot, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil for easy clean up.
Add the Brussels sprouts to the prepared baking sheet, drizzle with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss everything together. Roast the Brussels sprouts until tender, 30 to 35 minutes.
Add the arugula, apples, grapes, pomegranate, and feta cheese to a large salad bowl. Add roasted Brussels sprouts and toss everything together. Drizzle with about 1/2 cup of the vinaigrette (recipe below). Toss everything together.
Simple vinaigrette: Add the oil, vinegar, mustard, and shallots to a jam jar and shake it up. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary with salt and pepper.

November 27
Beet and Carrot Slaw with Walnuts and Cranberries 

This fall salad is as beautiful to look at as it is delicious to eat! Perfect as a Thanksgiving side dish -- or at any time -- its deep red and orange colors will make it a popular addition to your holiday table. Happy Thanksgiving to all our readers!

3/4 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped
1 pound carrots, peeled and julienned (4 or 5 carrots, depending on size)
3/4 pound red beets, peeled and julienned (2 or 3 beets, depending on size)
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or walnut oil
1 teaspoon lemon zest and 2 tablespoons lemon juice, from 1 lemon
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice, from 1 orange
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 cup dried cranberries
3 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley, more for garnish
Heaping 1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Set oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place walnuts on baking sheet and bake until toasted and fragrant, 5-7 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Combine all remaining ingredients in a large bowl and toss well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes to allow the flavors to blend. Season to taste with salt, pepper, honey, or more citrus. Toss in walnuts and serve.

December 4
Cranberry Nut Bread

What to do with those cranberries you have left over from Thanksgiving? Why not bake cranberry bread? You can use up any fresh or frozen berries you have on hand, or you can actually go out and buy more cranberries to make a few of these yummy loaves to give as Christmas gifts — or to set aside for your own holidays! Cranberry bread is perfect for breakfast, or at tea time, or as a hostess gift, or as something to munch on after you come home from a Christmas party at midnight. It’s a loaf for all occasions!

1/3 cup orange juice
2 teaspoons grated orange zest, from one orange
2/3 cup buttermilk
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg
2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned into measuring cup and leveled-off
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, chopped coarse
1/2 cup walnuts or pecans, chopped

Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 375 F degrees. Spray bottom of 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray.

In a small bowl, stir together orange juice, orange zest, buttermilk, butter, and egg. Set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, salt, cinnamon, baking powder, and baking soda. Stir liquid ingredients into dry with rubber spatula until just moistened. Gently stir in cranberries and nuts. Do not overmix.

Scrape batter into prepared loaf pan and spread evenly with a rubber spatula. Bake for 20 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 F degrees. Continue to bake until golden brown and toothpick inserted into center of loaf comes out clean, about 45 minutes longer. Cool loaf in pan for about 10 minutes, then turn out onto wire rack and cool at least one hour before serving or wrapping in plastic foil for giving or storing.

December 11
Chocolate Cranberry Bark

Another great way to use up any leftover cranberries -- or to find a good use for purchasing them anew -- is this tasty cranberry-nut chocolate bark. It’s a great gift idea -- or a tasty treat to enjoy over the holidays at home with your family.

8 oz chocolate chips (semi-sweet)
3 oz slivered almonds (toasted for 10 minutes at 350)
3 oz pistachios (toasted for 10 minutes at 350)
4 oz dried unsweetened cranberries (chopped roughly)

Preheat oven to 350F. Toast the slivered almonds and pistachios on a rimmed cookie sheet for 10 minutes or until lightly browned and toasted, stirring once or twice to prevent burning.

Melt chocolate over a double burner, or in a microwave for 10 seconds at a time (stirring in between) until all the chips are melted and shiny.

Stir in toasted nuts and cranberries until fruit and nuts are coated with chocolate.

Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper, and spread the chocolate mixture out onto the sheet with a spatula to about 1/4 " thick, in an oval or square shape, making sure that no gaps show through. Push the mixture around as needed to keep the mass connected and together.

Allow to set for about an hour on the counter, or in the fridge covered with plastic wrap gently laid on top. Once firm, break the big piece into jagged pieces of whatever size you like - about 2 to 3 inch pieces usually works well.

The candy will keep for about a week if stored in a sealed container in the fridge. Place wax paper between layers of bark for best results.


December 18
Christmas Butter Cookies

These rich roll cookies are what Christmas is all about! Make them with your kids or grandkids and both you and they will have magical memories and tastes that last a lifetime! You can use any shapes you like to cut out the cookies -- Christmas trees or stars or gingerbread men or angels — and you can decorate then simply with white sugar for a sparkly effect or with lots of colored sprinkles for a more fun version. Make/bake some memories and enjoy!

1 cup (two sticks) of unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 egg whites and sugar for decorating
colored sprinkles for decorating (optional)

In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and sugar with a woodenspoon until smooth and fluffy. Then add the egg and vanilla extract to the butter mixture and stir for a minute or two until well blended.

Sift 2 1/2 cups flour into another bowl and add 1 teaspoon of salt; then add the flour and salt mixture into the butter and egg mixture; and stir together gently with a wooden spoon or spatula until well blended and the dough is sticking away from the sides of the bowl. Take out
the dough and form into a large ball. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 3 to 4 hours.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Take the dough out of the refrigerator and cut into two halves. Roll out first half to a thickness of about 1/4 of an inch and cut out into Christmas shapes using a cookie cutter. Place the cookies on a baking sheet; brush with egg whites, and sprinkle with white sugar (or colored sprinkles). Bake for about 8 minutes, until lightly browned.

Gently remove cookies from the baking sheet with a spatula and let cool on a plate before storing. Repeat with the second half of the dough. You should have about 40 cookies, depending on the size of your cookie cutters.

Store cookies in tin boxes or plastic containers, adding sheets of waxed paper between layers of cookies for best results.


December 25
Poinsettia Champagne Cocktail

This Poinsettia drink is a champagne cocktail, which makes it ideal for Christmas parties. It’s light on the alcohol, easy to drink, tasty, zingy, fresh -- and festive all at once. The flavors are perfect for the season -- orange and cranberry -- from the Cointreau orange liqueur and from the cranberry juice and fresh cranberries and orange slices. And fresh rosemary adds the perfect touch of whimsy. Merry Christmas! Sto Lat! Enjoy!

1 ounce Cointreau
3 ounces cranberry juice
orange slices - for garnish
cranberries - for garnish
sprigs of fresh rosemary - for garnish

Pour the Cointreau and cranberry juice in a chilled champagne flute. Stir them and top the rest of the way with champagne or prosecco or other sparkling wine. Garnish with cranberries, orange slices, or rosemary sprigs, if desired.

To make the drink a little stronger, you can add an ounce of vodka or gin. To make the drink alcohol-free, replace the champagne with ginger ale and replace the Cointreau with orange juice. Cheers!


December 31
Black-Eyed Peas

This dish is served in many areas of the South on New Year’s Day and is said to bring good luck and prosperity. It is typically served with greens and cornbread. The black-eyed peas signify coins, the greens represent dollar bills, and the corn bread represents gold. So cook up plenty if you want to have a prosperous New Year!

1 pound dried black-eyed peas
1 (28-ounce) can whole, peeled tomatoes
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1/2 cup chopped celery
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 pound kielbasa in one piece
2 quarts chicken stock
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Put the peas in a pot and cover with cold water by 2 inches. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat, and simmer for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, cover, and let them soak for 1 hour. (Or cover the peas with cold water and let them soak overnight.)

Meanwhile, drain the tomatoes and reserve the liquid. Hand crush the tomatoes into a saucepan and add the sugar and 1/2 cup of the stock or water. Cook over medium low heat, being careful not to let it burn, until the liquid has evaporated and the tomatoes are thick, about 30 minutes.

In a large pot over medium heat add the olive oil, onion, celery, and garlic. Cook until the onions are soft, about 5 minutes. Add the soaked peas, the kielbasa, and the remaining stock and cook, covered, until the peas are tender, about 20 minutes. Add some water if you need more liquid. Take out kielbasa and chop roughly into cubes and then add back to pot. Fold in the tomato sauce and mix well. Taste, season with salt and pepper, reheat if needed, and serve with cornbread or cornbread muffins and with sautéed greens like spinach or kale.
Or you can serve this hearty dish with a green salad on the side for some freshness. Best wishes for a very prosperous New Year to all our readers!




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