Category Archives: Main course

Best Roasted Turkey Breast

In this special post I am happy to introduce my amazing Mom — it’s only fitting since she taught me all I know about cooking and baking. She is a great cook and baker and I hope to feature more of her recipes here in days to come.

My Mom at work in her kitchen

Hi there! A few days ago as I was telling Kristin (bragging really) how I made an absolutely delicious roasted turkey breast, she asked me to write a guest post. Of course, I was happy to say yes.

This recipe started when I was trying to come up with something easy for dinner that would also leave enough leftovers for another meal. I had been craving turkey, but I never cook it because it’s such a big production. A whole roasted turkey isn’t hard to do, but it takes a long time and is way too much food for two people. Still, I thought there must be a way to satisfy my craving without the big mess.

And that’s when I got to thinking about how I could roast just half a turkey breast. The problem I’ve run into before is that it tends to be dry and not very flavorful. I thought the solution might be to roast it on a bed of vegetables which could release enough moisture during cooking to keep the meat moist. Then I remembered reading a recipe (wish I could remember where) that used a few fresh bay leaves to flavor a turkey. So I combined those two ideas and the recipe that follows is the result of my brainstorm. It was truly delicious, moist and flavorful. Though I was too tired to bother, I think you could make a nice gravy from the drippings and vegetables in the pan.

One caution, the fresh bay leaves impart a very strong bay flavor to the meat. You may want to cut back on the amount in the recipe if that’s not your favorite flavor. You could substitute sprigs of rosemary and/or other fresh herbs. Any of those choices will give you a wonderfully flavorful, moist turkey breast.

Best Roasted Turkey Breast

  • 1/2 turkey breast (pastured meat if you can get it)
  • 4 – 5 celery stalks, cut into 4″ lengths
  • 3 carrots, halved lengthwise and cut into 4″ pieces
  • 1/2 lg. onion, sliced
  • 4 – 5 lg. fresh bay leaves — adjust quantity to your preference
  • 2 -3 tbs. butter, room temperature
  • 2 tsp. herb mix, see note
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pat turkey breast dry. Lay the celery and carrots in alternating rows on the bottom of a roasting pan to create a kind of vegetable rack to support the turkey breast. Scatter onions on top of the vegetables, then lay the bay leaves on top of the “rack.”
Place turkey breast on top of vegetables and bay leaves, skin side up. Scatter butter pieces over the turkey breast. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with herb mix.
Roast in preheated oven for 18 – 20 minutes per pound or until internal temperature is 165 degrees — use an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the meat. (Alternately, you can make a small slice into the thickest part of the meat, if the juices run clear, not pink, it is done. This is not the preferred method for checking doneness because if you need to cook it longer, the juices will run from the cut while it continues to cook.)
Remove from oven and let it rest for a few minutes before carving.
This will make enough for dinner for two people, plus enough for a turkey salad the next day.
Note: many years ago I bought a spice mixed called “Fines Herbs.” It was discontinued quite a while ago, so now I mix my own. I’ve never use the same amount of the various spices, but here is a rough idea of how to prepare this mixture: In a small bowl mix 2 tbs. thyme, 1 tbs. oregano, 1 tsp. ground sage, 1 tsp. marjoram, 1 tsp. basil. You could also add a teaspoon of rosemary. (Sadly, I never use it because Kristin’s dad hates it. He can detect the smallest amounts like a drug-sniffing dog.) Adjust the quantities of each spice to your liking. It’s really delicious. I use it for our Thanksgiving turkey and on whole roasted chicken.

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Filed under Main course, Poultry, Recipes

Very Best Minestrone

Soak and boil your own beans for the best broth

The weather is still a bit bizarre here in New York — it’s hot, it’s cold, it’s hot, it’s cold. Yesterday was a cold day and I took the opportunity to make my new all-time favorite soup. This will likely be my last soup post of the season but I am so enthralled by it that it may show up again in my kitchen! There is one crucial component to this soup — you must soak and boil your own beans and reserve the cooking liquid from the beans for your stock. This makes the soup creamy, delicious, and hearty. I’ve tried it several different ways and this is the way to go. Plus, it’s economical and you avoid any nasty chemicals that may be present in canned beans and packaged broth (see my article in The Atlantic on obesogens for more on this). It’s delicious and healthful — make it before summer is upon us.

Very Best Minestrone

4 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
4  carrots, peeled and chopped
1 cup of fresh chopped parsley
1 to 2 cups chopped greens, I like kale, ribs removed and cut into thin ribbons
4 cups cooked white beans
about 1 cup chopped tomatoes and their juice (I used Pomi)
about 6 to 8 cups bean cooking liquid (you can add water if you don’t have enough)
3 to 4 tbl olive oil
sea salt and pepper to taste

In a large soup pot saute the onions in about 2 tbl of olive oil until translucent. Add the carrots and cook for several minutes. Then add the remaining olive oil with the garlic, parsley, beans, and greens and stir and cook for several more minutes or until garlic is fragrant and greens are wilted. Add the tomatoes, beans, bean-broth, water, and salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Once it boils, reduce to a simmer and allow to cook for about 45 minutes to an hour. Taste for salt and pepper. Serve with grated Parmesan and more fresh chopped parsley.

Nutrition Nuggets

Beans come in many varieties but for most of them: white, navy, kidney, pinto, black — the nutritional benefits are very similar. Beans contain high amounts of fiber and protein and are a very good source of folic acid and molybdenum. They also contain iron, phosphorus, magnesium, and potassium. Richly colored dried beans offer high amounts of antioxidants. Beans are also protective against cancer. In the Nurses’ Health Study II, researchers found a significantly reduced frequency of breast cancer in women who had a higher intake of beans or lentils.

Parsley is an extremely potent healing food. It is rich in large numbers of nutrients, chlorophyll, and carotenes. Parsley contains a high amount of vitamin C, folic acid, and iron and is a good source of minerals including magnesium, calcium, potassium, and zinc. Parsley has traditionally been used for its medicinal properties and is regarded as a nerve stimulant that helps with energy production. Parsley’s volatile oil components have all shown to have anticancer effects. Parsley is also a good cleansing food and helps with liver health.

Kale is a member of the cabbage family and as such, exhibits the same kind of anticancer properties as all the other members of this family. Kale is actually one of the most nutritious vegetables, with high amounts of carotenes, vitamins C and B6, and manganese. It is a great source of calcium, iron, and copper as well as dietary fiber, B vitamins and vitamin E. As you can see from its deep green color, kale is very high in chlorophyll. The deeper green your vegetable, the more health benefits it contains and kale is one of the darkest!

Photo from the Moderate Oven

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Filed under Main course, Recipes, Soups, Vegetables

Creamy Cauliflower Soup

I’ve been so busy with various writing projects that this blog has fallen by the wayside. But I’m determined to get more recipes up on a regular basis! This means they will be short and sweet entries based on the food I’m making in my kitchen all the time. Here’s a delicious creamy cauliflower soup that’s just right for our strange weather here in New York. It’s tough to go from a sunny 73 degree day spent in shorts in Prospect Park to a chilly, drizzling 50 degree day back in boots and winter coats the next. So I made this soup to warm (and cheer) us up. It’s a real comforting and nutritious dinner.

Creamy Cauliflower Soup
1 head cauliflower, cored and chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
4 tbl butter*
1 cup whole milk*
4 to 6 cups vegetable or chicken broth
dill (about 2 tbl, chopped, or more to taste)
salt and pepper

Place 2 tbl butter in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add onions and saute for several minutes until translucent. Add the carrots and cook for another several minutes. Add the cauliflower, stir and cook for three more minutes. Add the remaining 2 tbl butter and garlic and stir to combine, cook until the garlic is fragrant. Add salt and pepper. Add the broth (make sure you cover all the vegetables). Cover, reduce heat, and simmer until the cauliflower is very tender, about 15 or 20 minutes. In small batches puree in a blender, or use an immersion blender. Return to the pot and add the milk and the dill. Taste and check for seasoning. Add salt and pepper as needed.  Serve immediately with more fresh chopped dill.

*If you want to make this without the dairy, I bet coconut milk and coconut oil would make delicious substitutes for the cow’s milk and the butter.

Nutrition Nuggets

Cauliflower is an excellent source of vitamin K and vitamin C as well as fiber, potassium, and B vitamins. It is also typically high in the trace mineral boron. Cauliflower is part of the cruciferous family (with broccoli, cabbage, and kale) which is known to contain cancer-fighting compounds. Researchers believe that these compounds stop enzymes from activating cancer-causing agents in the body. The compounds also work to increase the activity of enzymes that disable and eliminate carcinogens.

Carrots contain the highest amount of provitamin A carotenes of any commonly consumed vegetable. Two carrots provide 4,050 retinol equivalents, or four times the RDA of vitamin A. Carrots also provide excellent amounts of vitamin K, biotin, fiber, vitamin C and B6, potassium and thiamine. They are high in antioxidants that help protect against cardiovascular disease and cancer. High carotene intake is associated with a 20 percent decreased risk of postmenopausal breast cancer and a 50 percent decrease in cancers of the bladder, cervix, prostate, colon, larynx, and esophagus. Human studies suggest that as little as one carrot a day could cut the rate of lung cancer in half.


Filed under Main course, Soups, Vegetables

Brian’s Chili

Fall is officially here. The weather is cooling down here in New York and Brian is making chili. The food is great in the Fall! Brian’s chili is just one example of the comforting, warming meals we eat this time of year. Peppers are still abundant at the Farmer’s market and tomatoes are everywhere —  a homemade chili is the the best place to use all of these nutritious ingredients.

Brian’s Chili

2 boxes Pomi tomatoes*
1.5 lbs grass-fed ground beef
1 large onion
2 large red bell peppers
2 large yellow or orange bell peppers
4 cloves garlic
2 cups cooked black or pinto beans
3 to 6 chili peppers (jalepenos or other hot chili) depending on your heat preference
1 12 oz. organic lager (alternately, use the same amount of water)
3 tbls olive oil
4 tbls chilli powder
salt and pepper

Brown the beef in one tablespoon olive oil in a large stock pot. Add one tablespoon of the chili powder to the beef and a pinch or two of salt as you are browning. Once the meat is browned, remove it and drain most of the fat to a bowl. Add one tablespoon olive oil and chopped onion to the pot with one more tablespoon chili powder. Saute the onion until translucent and soft. Add all the chopped peppers and salt. Cook down until they are tender and add the garlic and saute for a few more minutes. Add the tomatoes, beer, beans, meat, and fat. Add the remaining chili powder and salt and pepper to taste. Simmer on a low temperature and stir frequently for at least one hour (the longer the better). Serve with shredded cheese.

* You can also use fresh, blanched tomatoes; you will need about 12 to 16 plum tomatoes for this.

Nutrition Nuggets

Tomatoes are packed with nutrition. They are an excellent source of vitamin C, carotenes, biotin, and vitamin K. Tomatoes are full of a type of a red carotene called lycopene. Lycopene has shown to be extremely protective against breast, colon, lung, skin, and prostate cancers. It has also been shown to lower the risk of heart disease, cataracts, and macular degeneration. Lycopene works to  prevent these diseases by neutralizing harmful oxygen free radicals before they can damage cellular structures.

Bell Peppers are one of the most nutrient-dense foods available. They are full of vitamin C, beta-carotene, vitamin K, thiamine, folic acid, and vitamin B6. They have excellent antioxidant activity and are a great source of phytochemicals. They also contain lycopene. Studies have shown that bell peppers are protective against cataracts. They have also been shown to prevent blood clot formation and reduce the risk of heart attacks and stroke. Bell peppers should be eaten by those wishing to reduce elevated cholesterol levels.


Filed under Main course, Recipes

Eggs Over Easy with Roasted Asparagus

I’ve eaten my fair share of asparagus this season. I’ve cooked it every which way and this is my favorite at the moment. It couldn’t be simpler but it tastes gourmet. The egg yolks coat the sweet roasted asparagus and the Parmesan cheese provides a salty, nutty counterpart — all you need are some delicious pastured eggs, seasonal asparagus, and a bit of good Parmesan cheese and dinner is served in less than 20 minutes. A good crusty baguette wouldn’t hurt either.

Eggs Over Easy with Roasted Asparagus
Serves 2

4 to 6 eggs
2 bunches asparagus
Parmesan Reggiano
Sea salt & pepper

Rinse asparagus and snap off ends. Place in a glass baking dish with a generous coating of olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in the oven on 375 for about 15 minutes, tossing the asparagus about halfway through. Meanwhile grate the Parmesan cheese and set aside. When the asparagus is nearly finished, prepare eggs (at least two per person) over easy, or until the the white is cooked but the yolk remains runny. Divide asparagus evenly between two plates, place eggs on top, and coat with a good dusting of Parmesan. Add a bit more salt and pepper if desired. Enjoy!

Nutrition Nuggets

Asparagus is low in calories and carbohydrates while relatively high in protein compared to other vegetables. It has been used historically to treat arthritis due to its unique phytochemicals and anti-inflammatory properties.

Eggs are packed full of nutrients, healthy fats and protein. They are pretty darn close to a perfect food. The best option is to eat pastured eggs — meaning eggs that come from chickens that are raised on open pasture and regularly eat grass, plants, bugs, grubs and whatever else they can find in the fields. Chickens are omnivores and the quality, taste (and health benefits) of their eggs is largely dependent on what they eat.



Filed under Eggs, Main course, Recipes, Vegetables

Shrimp Caesar Salad

This is my new favorite salad – it’s simple and nutritious and can easily be prepared for a weeknight meal. People think that making your own Caesar dressing is difficult, but with a food processor or blender it’s ready in about 5 minutes. I use raw egg in mine but you can omit it if you are worried. If you’re buying your eggs from a local farmer who raises his or her chickens on pasture, raw eggs are safe to eat — but I would never recommend eating a raw industrial egg! I used shrimp here but you could use salmon, chicken, or top it with hard-boiled eggs. This is a simple, delicious, and a very nutrient dense meal just in time for Spring. Enjoy!

Shrimp Caesar Salad
Serves 4

2 heads romaine lettuce, washed and chopped
Cooked and chilled shrimp (make sure to buy wild-caught of US origin)
Parmesan Reggiano, grated for topping

For the Dressing:
1/2 cup olive oil
Juice of one Meyer lemon
5 anchovy filets
1 tbl Dijon or stone-ground mustard
1/2 tbl Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup grated Parmesan Reggiano
1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
Freshly ground black pepper

To prepare the dressing place all the ingredients except the olive oil in a food processor or blender and combine for about 30 seconds. Stop the motor and scrape down the sides, then with the motor running add the olive oil in a slow steady stream until incorporated and the dressing looks well combined. Toss the chopped lettuce and dressing in a large salad bowl, then top with Parmesan and shrimp, add ground pepper to taste.

Nutrition Nuggets

Lettuce is a good source of chlorophyll and vitamin K. In general, the darker the lettuce the greater the nutrient content. Romaine lettuce is generally the most nutrient dense and is an excellent source of vitamin A, folic acid, and vitamins C, B1, and B2. Lettuce is also an excellent source of the minerals manganese and chromium.

Shrimp is an excellent source of protein, selenium, and vitamin B12, iron, and phosphorus. Shrimp also contain the beneficial omega-3 fatty acids, EPA and DHA.

Parmesan cheese (the real kind, not the kind that comes in the green shaker) has more protein than any other cheese. It’s full of beneficial bacteria, calcium, vitamin A, riboflavin, zinc and vitamin B12. Cheese has been shown to protect against dental cavities.

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Homemade Veggie Burgers

These veggie burger are easy to make, have infinite variations, and are delicious — far superior than any store bought option and far more nutritious too. This is based on Mark Bittman’s recipe from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. He recommends either pan frying them or baking them but having tried both methods, I found baking them was easier, less messy, and helped with holding the burgers together. I highly recommend these! Best of all you can make a double batch and freeze half of the patties before cooking so you’ve prepped two dinners at once. Serve them with baked sweet potato wedges and a green salad. Enjoy!

Homemade Veggie Burgers
adapted from How to Cook Everything Vegetarian

3 cups cooked garbanzo beans (or use any bean you like)
1 cup cheese of your choice (cut-up or grated)
1 cup old-fashioned oats
2 eggs
1 small onion, quartered
1 clove garlic, peeled
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp chili powder (or more to taste)
salt & pepper to taste

Combine the beans, cheese, egg, onion, oats, chili powder, oregano, salt, and pepper in a food processor and pulse until chunky but not pureed. Let the mixture rest for a few minutes.

pulse to combine but keep the mix slightly chunky

With wet hands, shape into patties and let rest again. If you have time, the flavor improves when they sit for about 20 minutes or so before cooking. Alternately, you can make them up to a day in advance and store in the refrigerator before cooking.

Place patties on a well-oiled baking sheet and bake at 425 degrees for about 15 minutes. Flip burgers and then bake for another 15 minutes, or until burgers have a golden-brown crust.

Serve immediately. Makes 6 large burgers.

Nutrition Nuggets

Garbanzo beans are a good source of fiber, folic acid, and manganese, they also contain high amounts of molybdenum — a trace mineral needed to detoxify sulfites, a preservative commonly found in wine, processed meats, and salad from salad bars. They are a great source of protein and are high in minerals like iron, magnesium, copper, and zinc. Garbanzo beans can help lower cholesterol and stabilize blood sugar levels.

Oats are high in minerals like manganese, selenium, and phosphorus. They are also a good source of the minerals magnesium and iron and contain vitamin B1. Due to the fact that oats contain dietary fiber high in beta-glucan, they have long been touted as having cholesterol lowering effects. Beta-glucan binds bile acids and removes them from the body to help lower cholesterol. Oats also have a favorable effect on blood sugar and are a good alternative to refined grains.

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Filed under Main course, Recipes, Vegetables