Carrot Dijon Salad

Carrot Dijon salad is amazing. Sweet baby carrots, tangy Dijon mustard, green onions and dill are the primary ingredients that make up this incredibly yummy salad  that bares a very unoriginal name.   I received this recipe from a family friend in the early ’90s, who had received it from another family friend, who received it from another, and so on and so forth. As such I’m unable to give delicious credit where credit is due though I sincerely thank you, whoever you are.

This carrot salad is a far contrast from the typically shredded carrot salad with raisins.   It’s sweet and tangy with just the right amount of crunch.  Perky is more like it.  The mix of sweet carrots and the tangy zip of Dijon can perk up any meal any time of year. It’s springtime in a bowl, even during the doldrums of winter and is as perky to the palette as it is to the plate.  By now I hope I have convinced you that this Carrot Dijon salad recipe is a must-try.

dijon carrot salad

Preparation couldn’t be any easier. Slicing and cooking the carrots is about as difficult and time consuming as it gets.

dijon carrot salad ingredients

Oh, I suppose shaking the salad dressing – after adding all ingredients to a jar with a tight fitting lid- can be considered a mini workout. Especially if you shake with multiple repetitions.

carrot dijon salad dressing preparation

I was never a fan of baby carrots, or any form of raw carrot for that matter, but as any true condiment queen would tell you, Dijon mustard can make any vegetable taste good.  Even brussel sprouts.

Carrot Dijon salad is a delightful side dish for salmon, pork or chicken and is best prepared in advance so the flavors can blend and get happy and served ice cold. Give it a try and send me your critique.

Carrot Dijon Salad
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
A delightful carrot salad recipe that can be made up to 2 days in advance.
  • 1 lb. package baby carrots
  • Dressing ingredients:
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ½ cup chopped green onion
  • 6 Tablespoon oil
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dill weed
  1. Diagonally slice baby carrots in half and place in medium size pot with 1 Tablespoon sugar. Cover with water and bring to boil.
  2. Cook 15-17 minutes or until tender.
  3. Drain well and cool.
  4. Mix dressing ingredients in a pint jar or small container with tight fitting lid.
  5. Shake well to combine and pour over cooled carrots.
  6. Refrigerate 24 hours.


Homemade Veggie Pizza with Whole Wheat Crust

veggie pizza

Homemade veggie pizza is a soothing antidote to  trivial things that seem monumental at the time. Take for example this past week – seven days of unrelenting rain, a surprise $500 car repair bill, and a teen seriously stressing over the upcoming ACT. By the time Friday rolled around I knew exactly what to make for dinner.

Sure, there are a gazillion recipes for homemade pizza but trust me, this homemade veggie pizza recipe has been perfected. It’s a guilt-free homemade veggie pizza.  A “won’t cost you additional treadmill time” kind of homemade pizza that my thighs greatly appreciate. Yours might too. To boot, this homemade pizza dough can be adapted to a variety of toppings if veggie pizza isn’t your thing and  adapted to a variety of uses.

homemade veggie pizza crust

A perfect base for a mountain of veggies, this homemade pizza crust is made using a combination of white and wheat flours – a blend that gets a nod of approval from my three resident food critics. The key to getting a crispy crust on the bottom while maintaining a bit of chewiness is to preheat the oven to 425F with the stone in the oven. Once the oven reaches full temperature, keep the stone right where it is until you’re ready to top it with your favorite sauce and veggies. (The stone will be hot so be very careful when transferring the dough to the stone.)

Our family favorite veggie pizza includes fresh baby spinach, artichokes, red pepper, zucchini, onion, mushrooms and…black olives. Yes, I know, black olives are an oxymoron coming from the chief salt police, but sometimes you gotta live a little. (Rinsing and draining artichokes and olives will also reduce the sodium level a bit.)

Homemade Veggie Pizza with Whole Wheat Crust
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
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Serves: 8
Delicious homemade pizza crust using a blend of white and wheat flour. Crispy bottom, slightly chewy crust - a great base to pile on the toppings!
  • 1 C warm water (at most 115F)
  • 1 package yeast (1/4 oz/7g)
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ Cups all-purpose unbleached flour*
  • 1 Cup whole wheat flour*
  • *This combination can be adjusted to 1¾ C white and ¾ C wheat and vice versa
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F with baking stone placed inside.
  2. Next, begin making the pizza dough by dissolving the package of yeast and sugar in warm water, stirring until both are dissolved completely.
  3. Pour mixture into mixing bowl.
  4. Add olive oil and salt and stir to combine.
  5. Add flours and stir until well blended.
  6. Let dough rest for 10 minutes.
  7. Sprinkle work surface with cornmeal or flour and roll dough to desired shape and thickness.
  8. Remove heated baking stone from oven; transfer the dough onto the rolling pin and then carefully transfer to the dough to the hot stone. Be careful!
  9. (With slightly oiled fingers, pat the dough onto the stone if necessary.)
  10. Top with your favorite pizza toppings.
  11. Bake 15-20 minutes.
  12. Homemade veggie pizza toppings:
  13. In place of red sauce, spread 1 heaping tablespoon of pesto on dough and top with shredded mozzarella cheese (dairy or your favorite vegan variety).
  14. Next, spread 1 can of rinsed, drained and diced artichoke hearts, and then top with:
  15. baby spinach
  16. sliced mushrooms
  17. sliced onion
  18. sliced red pepper
  19. thinly sliced zucchini
  20. At the end, sprinkle dried oregano to taste.

I’m a full disclosure kind of gal and want to give accolades to the fine folks at Allrecipes for a crust that got me tinkering. Thank you!

Easy Fish Tacos Recipe

easy fish tacos

Just as I was snapping a photo of sizzling fish, Hubby walked in.  “You know, G, there are millions of fish taco recipes on the Web. The world may not need another one.” Pish posh! I’d be doing a disservice to cooks across all continents if I didn’t share my easy recipe!  Really, these fish tacos standout because of the tasty marinade, easy preparation, and versatility in serving style. Don’t like to pan fry? Fire up the grill. Don’t care for cod?  Substitute any firm fish such as tilapia or whitefish.  Have an at-times overly direct, linear observant husband? Feed him fish tacos for dinner.  And love him anyway.

Easy Fish Tacos in 3 simple steps.

Step 1:  Mix all marinade ingredients and pour over fish. Refrigerate for 20 minutes while preparing sides.

marinating fish for fish tacos recipe

Step 2: Heat a non-stick skillet and pan fry fish in batches, 3-4 minutes on each side.

pan frying cod for fish tacos recipe

Step 3:  Plate the fish, put out the sides and enjoy!

prepared fish for fish tacos recipe


Easy Fish Tacos Recipe
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
A flavorful marinade adds a tasty zip to cod, tilapia or whitefish and makes for a delicious and easy preparation for fish tacos.
  • Marinade:
  • 1½ teaspoon chile con carne or ancho chile powder
  • 1½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ C extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 chopped jalapeno
  • ½ teaspoon dried cilantro (or 2 Tbsp fresh if you like the strong taste)
  • 1 - 1½ lbs cod loins (can substitute tilapia or whitefish)
  • Corn tortillas
  • Garnish: Chopped lettuce, tomato, red onion, guacamole, salsa
  1. Mix first six ingredients to form a paste.
  2. Spread evenly over fish filets and refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  3. Heat non-stick skillet over medium-high flame and fry 4 minutes on each side or until fish flakes and is fully cooked.
  4. Transfer to serving plate.
  5. To construct, break up the fish into chunks and spoon some fish onto a warm tortilla. Top with your favorite toppings and squeeze sliced lime on top for an added tang.


Oven Roasted Pork Roast – the juciest, most tender roast you’ll EVER make!

Hubby has become a master smoker, treating our family and extended family to succulent slow smoked pulled pork on many a fourth of July. It’s no easy task managing a small water smoker but he skillfully juggles tending the butt while getting his own into the pool for one of our good-natured uncompetitive volleyball matches. Wisconsin winters, however, send our smoker into hibernation so to combat potential barbecue withdrawals I decided to try adapting Hubby’s outdoor recipe to oven roasting. The results blew us away. This is bar none the juiciest fork-tender oven roasted pork roast you will EVER make, adapted from The Renowned Mr. Brown recipe from the book Smoke & Spice with reduced sodium.

Begin by mixing a rub that will transform into a sweet tangy layer of crispiness.

preparing oven roasted pork roast


  • 2 T ground
  • 2 T paprika
  • 2 T turbinado sugar (aka sugar in the raw)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne (optional)
  • 1-2 Tbsp vegetable or canola oil
  • 4 lb pork shoulder roast

Mix dry ingredients well, adding 1-2 Tbsp of oil to form  a paste.


  1. Preheat oven to 300F
  2. Rub the paste into the roast, covering every nook and crevice and place seasoned roast in Dutch oven or roasting pan.
  3. Pour 1 1/2 C of water to cover the bottom of pan.
  4. Cover tightly with lid or foil and roast 4-5 hours, checking for fork tenderness.
  5. Remove the lid or foil and increase temperature to 375F and roast for another 15-20 minutes for the top to get nicely browned and crispy.Allow to rest 15 minutes before transferring to board or platter and begin pulling.

Sound too simple to be true? Not at all. Besides being the juiciest fork-tender oven roasted pork roast it’s also the easiest!


rubbed pork roast before roasting

After: (ooh, look at that crispiness)

oven roasted pork roast

Proof of fork-tenderness, or in this case tong-tenderness, below. The roast fell apart as I pulled it out of the Dutch oven.

shredding tender roasted pork

This pork can actually be used in a variety of ways as the seasoning lends itself to be adapted to a variety of cuisines. As for me and my brood, we crave a taste of summer during the doldrums of winter so it’s barbecue all the way.

I was hooked at first bite of pulled pork topped with creamy slaw. Put all of this in a crusty Dutch roll and oooh la la. There’s only one other addition that makes it a taste of heaven and that’s a generous pour of barbecue sauce from Fat Matt’s Rib Shack in Atlanta, GA. (After seeing Fat Matt’s featured on an episode of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, we just had to check it out ourselves. That was one tasty road trip.)


oven roasted pork sandwich with slaw


Broiled Cajun Salmon with Creole Sauce over Cheese Grits

broiled cajun salmon with creole sauce

It was Friday night frenzy in my household this past weekend with the high school musical in full swing. How I get into a mood to create on such evenings remains a mystery. This time I’ll blame it on the weather. It was a snowy day in the Midwest and the only logical explanation I can muster for the blaring call for comfort food. Well, that and the gorgeous filet of Atlantic salmon in the fridge that was screaming Creole. What to do, what to do.

Daughter #1’s allergy to all things crustacean struck out Saucy Shrimp and I couldn’t let the cry for Creole go unheard. Hence, the birth of my latest culinary creation that I’m happy to pass on to you.

Broiled Cajun salmon topped with a spoonful of rich Creole sauce makes a beautiful presentation on its own over rice pilaf or mashed potatoes. Top it over a heaping helping of cheese grits and it’s over the moon. (In case you missed it, here’s my recipe for a healthier version of cheesy grits that uses quick-cooking grits.)  The Cajun rub and Creole Sauce can easily be prepared in advance and while the sauce is reheating prepare the grits and broil the salmon. While this recipe may seem daunting, it is actually a fairly quick meal to prepare that is sure to impress in presentation and taste.

Here’s to good eats,

Broiled Cajun Salmon with Creole Sauce
Serves: 4-6
Broiled salmon coated in a low sodium Cajun rub topped with a rich Creole sauce is sure to send your taste buds flying. Especially when it tops a bowl full of cheesy grits! A meal that gives a warm hug with every bite. The Cajun rub and Creole sauce can easily be prepared in advance.
  • 4-6 individual salmon filets
  • Cajun Rub:
  • 1 Tbsp paprika
  • 1½ tsp garlic powder
  • 1½ tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • pinch of cayenne pepper {optional}
  • ¼ tsp salt {optional}
  • Creole Sauce:
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large green pepper, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 stalks celery, thinly sliced
  • 1¼ Cup crushed tomatoes
  • ½ tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 Tbsp chilli powder (I used Penzy's no salt Chili Con Carne)
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1-2 Tbsp brown sugar {per taste}
  • 1 large bay leaf
  1. Begin making the Cajun Rub by mixing all ingredients in a small jar or container with a tight fitting lid. Shake well to combine and set aside.
  2. Next, prepare the creole sauce adding the olive oil to a medium-sized saucepan over medium high heat.
  3. Add the pepper, onion, and celery and cook until the onions become transparent, stirring frequently.
  4. Add the remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly.
  5. Cover with tight fitting lid, reduce heat to medium-low and let it simmer while the rest of the meal is being prepared. If you're cooking in advance, simmer on low for 40-45 minutes.
  6. If desired, begin preparing the cheesy grits.
  7. Preheat the oven to 400 and then set it to broil, raising the rack to sit just below the broiler.
  8. Grease a large baking sheet and place salmon filets skin-side down onto prepared pan.
  9. Thoroughly coat the top of each salmon filet with Cajun rub and 3-4 minutes.
  10. Set the oven from broil back to 400F and back for another 5-7 minutes, depending on thickness of the salmon.

Move over shrimp and grits, Cajun salmon broiled to perfection and topped with a spoonful of rich Creole Sauce is my new found favorite topping for cheese grits.  This meal scored high with my resident food critics and Hubby and I had fun morphing into food stylists. Note: the photo below is Hubby’s spiced up version that has an extra generous sprinkling of Cajun rub.

Whose bowl looks better? 🙂

spicy broiled cajun salmon

Quick & Creamy Cheese Grits

spoon of creamy grits

I have made more than my share of grainy, clumpy, far from creamy cheese grits. The kind that bare no resemblance to the velvety texture of the cheese grits I devoured in Savannah last summer. Or the creamy grits I ate in Myrtle Beach. Or the divine grits of goodness loaded with Munster cheese that I relished every fat gram of in Charlotte.

While I’m sure each of those chefs labored over their cheese grits, this busy mama has been on a quest for a quick-cooking grits recipe that would deliver a creamy spoonful of goodness with every bite. And in a jiffy. A recipe that would come to my rescue on nights when each of my loves is heading in a different direction, after a family meal. Naturally, I turned to Cousin Google for help and bless you folks who took the time to write about your grits and enlighten folks like me. I hadn’t a clue that the secret to making creamy quick-cooking cheese grits is in the starting temperature of the liquid.  Who would have thought to add quick-cooking grits to cold water and/or milk to get that velvety texture?

After a lot of tweaking and twerking, I’m happy to pass on my own recipe to all of you who relish creamy cheesy grits with a speedy preparation. This recipe takes a healthier spin on cheese grits as I opt for a mixture of reduced fat milk and water instead of heavy cream. The reduced fat cream cheese provides richness with fewer calories and fat grams and the egg whites lend a velvety texture.

Quick & Creamy Cheese Grits
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
  • 1 C quick-cooking grits
  • 2 C skim or 1 % milk
  • ¾ C cold water
  • 2 Tbsp butter
  • 3 oz. reduced fat cream cheese (often labeled Neufchatel cheese)
  • ⅓ C grated Parmesan (or your favorite cheese variety)
  • 1 Tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 egg whites, lightly beaten
  1. In a medium size saucepan, add the milk, water and cup of quick-cooking grits.
  2. Set the temperature on high, get out your whisk and let the mixing begin.
  3. Bring the mixture to a boil - stirring constantly - about 4 minutes or until the mixture visibly thickens.
  4. Remove from heat and add 2 T butter, 3 oz. reduced fat cream cheese, grated Parmesan (not from a can), and dried parsley. Mix well.
  5. Next add the lemon juice and lightly beaten egg whites.
  6. Return to the stove top, reduce heat to medium, and continue whisking for another 1-2 minutes until all ingredients are well blended and the grits have a smooth, creamy cheesy consistency.
  7. These grits are best served straight from the stove top, but will reheat nicely if you're lucky enough to have leftovers.

bowl of quick-cooking cheesy rits

This recipe has been a steady hit in my house and delivers a spoonful of goodness in every bite. I’d love to hear from you if you give my recipe a try –  let me know what you think or how you tweaked it to make it your own.  (These quick & creamy cheese grits also make a perfect bed for Saucy Shrimp, and especially for my family’s new found favorite – Cajun Broiled Salmon topped with Creole Sauce.)

Wishing you many spoonfuls of goodness,

Shrimp, Scallop and Veggie Pasta in a light Lemon Butter White Wine Sauce

Hey all! It’s good to be back after a long winter’s nap.

It’s that time of year when the longing for spring begins to swell inside me as the cold wind still blows outdoors. Weekly email blasts from various seed companies and full color catalogs brimming with pics of ripe produce don’t help. Oh, the torture. With a good 5 inches of snow still covering my garden, and the inevitable one or two more snowfalls still coming before the final spring thaw, the only cultivating I can do is in my kitchen.  Last night I decided to dish up a taste of spring in the form of a light shrimp, scallop and veggie pasta in a delicate lemon, butter, and white wine sauce. It’s my pseudo buerre blanc sauce, a riff on the classic French buerre blanc that is loaded in fat grams from copious amounts of butter. I’m sure my light buerre blanc would annoy any classically trained chef , but it is still very palette pleasing and I know my arteries thank me. Yours will too.

Shrimp, Scallop and Veggie Pasta in a light Lemon White Wine Sauce



  • 1 lb cooked shrimp (feel free to substitute raw, peeled & deveined shrimp)
  • 1/2 lb scallops
  • 1 red pepper, diced or julliened
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 C cherry tomatoes, halved (I used some orange grape tomatoes that I had in the freezer from last summer’s harvest)
  • 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into small pieces (or use frozen as did – see instructions below)
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 C dry white wine
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/4 C lemon juice

ingredients for Shrimp-Scallop and veggie pasta


  1. Cook pasta according to directions
  2. Meanwhile, heat 1 T extra virgin olive oil in a large skillet or wok
  3. Stir fry red pepper, cherry tomato halves, and onion until crisp tender or to your liking. If  have fresh asparagus, go ahead and it, cut into small chunks. If you’re in a hurry, or you have frozen aspargus spears on hand as I did, microwave them until crisp tender, cut and then it to the other veggies.
  4. Next, add the unsalted butter and dry white wine along with the spices and give it a good stir.
  5. The vegetables will soak in the liquid a bit. To remedy this, I added 3-4 large spoonfuls of pasta water as well as the 1/4 C lemon juice.
  6. Finally, add the scallops and stir fry for 1 min, then add the shrimp and stir fry for another minute. (Since the shrimp are cooked, it’s only a matter of heating them through.)

Living up to my “Salt Police” title, I finished this lovely shrimp, scallop and veggie pasta dish with a light sprinkling of feta cheese. It’s a delicious accent to the lemony, white wine sauce. Low sodium varieties are available for sale and a little goes a long way. Prijatno! Enjoy!

A sweet reminder

Here we are, the first week of December and it feels and looks like spring in Wisconsin. By now a cold wind should be blowing, kids should be bundled up to their eyeballs and making predictions when we’ll get our first snow fall.  There isn’t a flake in sight and based on the forecast there won’t be for at least another week.

Thick stews, spicy chillis, and hearty soups are usually standard winter fare, though this past weekend many folks fired up the grill -yours truly included- under sunny skies and in no-jacket-required mid 60 degree temperatures. I do wonder if global warming naysayers are getting suspicious.

Wreaths, pine boughs and decorated Christmas trees seem out of place with green-tinged grass. But the weather doesn’t constitute this holy season and I received a sweet reminder of that this afternoon. As I was scurrying through the local Aldi amid shoppers clad in spring jackets, a little voice rang out from another shopper’s cart across the produce aisle.

“Go tewit on da mauwn-tin, over da hills and ev-wee wheeeeerrrrre,
Go tewit on da mountain, dat JESUS CHRIST IS BOOOORRRRN.”

That sure put a jingle in my step and the bright sun felt better than ever as I walked to the car.

No thanks, I’ll pass

Every Thanksgiving for as far back as I can remember I have literally passed the relish.

For the past twelve years Hubby has made his version of the Spiced Cranberry Sauce with Zinfandel from the 2001 issue of Bon Apetit and continually scores rave reviews from nearly the entire family. Everyone except his loving wife.

Perhaps my disdain for the hard berry stems back to my childhood. Every year my late Gramz made a lip-puckering, eye-watering bowl of crunchy roughage that she called cranberry relish.  To this day I am baffled my family could ingest it with any amount of enjoyment.  I loved just about everything that came out of Gramz’s kitchen except her relish. And chop suey, but that’s another story.

Did you know Wisconsin produces more cranberries than any other state and produces more than half of the entire world’s supply of cranberries?

I’m a bad Badger.  I have never enjoyed the taste of cranberries regardless of the amount of sugar, wine, and spices to doll it up and I have pretty much avoided all things cranberry.  Until I baked this vegan pumpkin cranberry bread . It shocked my tastebuds last year and rocked them again yesterday.

“So does this mean you’re going to at least try my cranberries this year?” Hubby asked hopefully.

No thanks, I’ll pass.

Vegan Pumpkin Cranberry Bread

I was assessing the fridge after Thanksgiving last year and found a half bag of cranberries and a small bit of pumpkin puree that somehow never made their way into their respective dishes.  As much as I disliked cranberries, I didn’t want to waste. Hence I decided to bake a bread that I could turn into French toast or easily disguise in some other way should it turn out awful. (I wasn’t hopeful,  I was using cranberries so I didn’t waste time formulating a Plan B.)

Lo and behold I baked a wonder bread! A moist and delicious combination of sweet and tangy with a subtle hint of orange and just the right amount of crunchy pecans. Deeeeelicious.

Vegan Pumpkin Cranberry Bread

I’m thankful for the remnant ingredients that were hanging around or I might not have conquered my disdain for the rock hard berry.  Though I still say no thanks to on any form of cranberry relish, I won’t pass up a slice or three of this bread. For all of you anti-cranberry eaters out there, give this vegan pumpkin cranberry bread a try and you too could be converted. Well, at least partially.  Enjoy!

Ingredients for Vegan Pumpkin Cranberry Bread

1  1/4 cups of all purpose flour
3/4 cup of whole wheat flour
1 cup sugar
1  1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup orange juice
¼ cup canola oil
1/3 cup cooked pumpkin puree (pure canned pumpkin if you’re using help from the cannery – not pie filling)
1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
1 Tablespoon grated orange peel (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9x5x3 inch loaf pan.

In a bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda. Stir in orange juice, oil and pumpkin. Mix until well blended.

Stir in cranberries and nuts and orange peel, if desired. Turn batter into prepared pan and bake for 50 – 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool on wire rack for 10 minutes before running a butter knife along the edges and removing the bread from the pan.  Finish cooling on wire rack, or feel free to skip this step and proceed to cutting a nice big slice. Enjoy!