Category Archives: Main Dishes

Rainbow Salad with Citrus Dressing… It’s like a Party in a Bowl!

One thing I can promise you, if you make this rainbow salad with citrus dressing, it’s like a party in a bowl! I’ve never said this before about a salad, but it will make you feel like you are on vacation in the islands. How did I come up with a rainbow salad? While I do love creating new and interesting salads, I can’t really take full ownership. I first saw it at a restaurant and it’s the only time I can think of when I had salad envy – if that’s even possible!

Okay, here’s the whole story… I was visiting my friend Susie in Pittsburgh, and we went out to lunch. She took me to a Caribbean restaurant in the Strip District called Kaya. We hadn’t seen each other in a while and I was so happy to see her and catch up, the menu definitely took second place. I quickly ordered a salad with green apples, goat cheese, and candied walnuts with salmon on top – delish – right? I was quite happy with my choice… until our salads arrived!

Susie ordered the most glorious and colorful rainbow salad I had ever seen. I somehow felt my salad was inferior and I was a little jealous. While mine was very good, it certainly wasn’t a rainbow! For a few moments, I couldn’t concentrate on the conversation. I wondered how I could have let this happen. Did I miss reading all of those ingredients on the menu?

The salad was arranged like a color wheel and as an artist, I felt I let myself down. Facing me was the papaya, I LOVE papaya! There were tomatoes, plantains, pepita seeds (pumpkin), red pepper, avocado, you name it – a feast for the eyes! I love a salad that is not lettuce heavy, and contains a lot of different fruits and vegetables. This salad certainly did that. Susie offered we share both of our salads, but I decided to stick with mine and enjoy the rest of our visit.

That was a couple of months ago and in true Sherri form, I haven’t stopped thinking about it. My mission now was to recreate it. How do I begin? With any recipe I create, there are various ways I go about getting started. In this case, I made a list of ingredients from Kaya’s menu online. Next, in a Google search I checked to see if there were any images. I remembered how it was arranged, but needed a refresher. I found a couple of great photos and started from there. With this information, I made the first version and it was delicious! I knew I didn’t have all of the ingredients it called for, and probably not the right quantities, but it didn’t matter. Below is a photo of the first attempt. I prepared it in a large bowl and it was a great presentation.

This week I found myself in the mood to make the salad again. I went online again and this time, I found a recipe from the restaurant itself – jackpot!

About some of the ingredients… My first attempt wasn’t too far off from the original even quantity wise. One of the ingredients I subbed is the Malanga. It’s not an easy vegetable to find unless you are in the Strip District where the variety of fruits and vegetables are in abundance! The first time, I used jicama and it was delicious adding a nice juicy punch. This time I did a little more research and found out Malanga is a root vegetable from South America. It is likened to a potato so I tried a white sweet potato as to keep the color of the original salad. While very different from each other, both jicama and the sweet potato are delicious in the salad. If you can’t find either, you can also use a regular sweet potato.

I’m allergic to mango so I subbed nectarines which were a perfect exchange. Feel free to use 1 cup mango if you like it. I also omitted the jalapeno and red onion. I don’t care for either in a salad –personal preference. I did amp up the green onion, and added a pinch of cayenne in the dressing to compensate for their omission. The original salad also had toasted garlic. I made garlic chips for the first salad, but felt it overpowered the rest of the ingredients so omitted for this version.

Before you get started, don’t be afraid of the list. I know it seems like a lot of ingredients. One quick stop to Trader Joe’s should get you just about everything you need including a bag of already julienned carrots and the plantain chips! From start to finish, it only took about 40 minutes including grilling a protein. It’s really worth the time and truly is a vacation in a bowl. Who doesn’t need that every now and then?

It has so many different flavors and textures that make it really amazing. Of course you can alter it to how you like (as I did) and change things around a bit. One thing for sure, it’s a real showstopper. It’s great for lunch or dinner, would be perfect for a dinner party and at this time of year, a great salad to eat in the Sukkah! Enjoy!

For underneath the rainbow of vegetables:

1 head romaine lettuce for each salad, washed very well, dried well and chopped
about 2 cups in each bowl
Add to the lettuce:
1 handful parsley or cilantro, leaves only
1 handful basil cut in a ribbon (roll the leaves into a cigar and slice)
1 cup green onions (scallions) finely sliced
1 handful mint (optional)
make sure to wash these ingredients very well. If you want, you can reserve a little of each to sprinkle on top.

For the top of the salad:
1 cup julienne carrots (shredded would be fine too)
2 nectarines cut into chunks (or 1 cup mango)
1 cup cherry or heirloom tomatoes cut in half
1 cup fresh papaya peeled and diced
1 cup English cucumber diced (you can peel it if you don’t like the peel)
1 cup red pepper diced
2 cups white sweet potato
1 cup cooked chickpeas (canned are great too, rinse and drain)
1 cup plantain chips (left whole or crushed and sprinkled)
2 avocados sliced
¼ cup sesame seeds (I used black & white because I had it on hand)
1/2 cup pepita seeds (pumpkin seeds)
fried onions (optional)
2 limes cut in half to be served with each salad

Grilled Chicken, Salmon, or Steak (I grilled the chicken and salmon while I prepped the vegetables)

Citrus Vinaigrette:
Zest and juice of 2 oranges (pineapple juice can be subbed here)
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
juice of 1 lime
2 roasted garlic cloves (1 raw finely grated would work well)
1 to 2 tablespoons of maple syrup
¾ cup good extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste (I used 1 teaspoon of each)
pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)

Add zest and juices with garlic into a blender or food processor. After the citrus is blended, while pureeing, drizzle in the oil to emulsify. Add salt and pepper to taste. I also added a pinch of cayenne pepper for a little kick.

To Begin:
There are a couple of ways you can cook the sweet potato. You can steam it, sauté or roast it like I did. Heat oven (I used a toaster oven) to 350 degrees. Peel and dice sweet potato, toss in a little olive oil and put it on a sheet pan. Bake for about 25 minutes, or until you can pierce it with a fork.

If adding a protein:
Get your grill or grill pan hot. Season the meat or fish with salt and pepper and grill until done.

While that is cooking, prep all of your other ingredients.

Toss the lettuce base with some of the vinaigrette, just to season. Place in the middle of 4 plates or large bowls. Arrange the other ingredients on top – around the bowl. Sprinkle the sesame seeds and plantains on top. Serve with ½ lime for each salad. I hid it under the  pile of plantains! The restaurant link I have included actually gives a diagram on how to arrange the salad. I did my own thing. It was complicated enough with all of the ingredients. However you place the ingredients, it will be beautiful! I’m so excited for you to try it!



Beef Stew… The Lost Recipe

When thinking of a title for this post – beef stew… the lost recipe seemed to fit the bill! You’ll find out why later on.

In the 70’s I was a latchkey kid. I rode my bike home from school, let myself in the house, and started my routine while my parents were at work. Every day included watching reruns of Gilligan’s Island and I Dream of Jeannie, while enjoying a treat from the ice cream truck. In Florida the ice cream man came around every day of the year! After that, I would talk to my friends on the phone while cooking the dinner. I’m sure you noticed doing homework was never mentioned!

I think one of the reasons I like to cook so much is because when I was a kid, I was the one my mom left in charge to prepare dinner. Sometimes that meant heating up what she already prepared, putting together bits and pieces, or cooking the whole meal. I didn’t really mind and kind of enjoyed experimenting a little in the kitchen. She always made it easy for me and sometimes I even had time to whip up some Rice Krispy treats!

Beef stew was one of those meals. So why did I call it a lost recipe? In all my mom’s recipe cards, newspaper clippings, or cookbooks, beef stew never made an appearance. I remember the ingredients, but not the ratios. I also remember it was one of my favorite meals. After looking at a variety of recipes, and with my sister’s help, I found a couple that had the basics of a stew, but not her ingredients. Tonight I recreated it and it tasted just like my mom’s! I think she would be very impressed and happy I added a little bit of wine to it. It was a very welcome treat to enjoy one of my childhood favorites on the coldest night of the year… 2 degrees in Ohio! What a warm and comforting meal. Now all I need is a fudge pop, a rerun of Gilligan’s Island, and I’m all set!

Total Time: 3 hr 20 min… Prep Time: 50 min… Cooking Time: 2 hr 30 min… Level: Easy

2 pounds lean stewing beef cut into 2-inch cubes
4 to 5 tablespoons flour
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
One cup sweet red wine (I used a concord grape wine)
1 – 14.5 ounce can whole or diced tomatoes
1 cup water, beef broth, or vegetable broth
2 ½ cups Yukon gold potatoes cut into 1” pieces
2 ½ cups pearl onions (I used a bag of frozen from Trader Joe’s)
4 large thick carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces to yield 2 cups
3 celery stalks, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 – 12 or 16 ounce packages of baby portobello mushrooms, cleaned well and sliced
1 cup fresh or frozen peas (fresh are difficult to find so frozen are fine)
3 to 4 garlic cloves finely minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Sprinkle 3 or more tablespoons of the flour evenly over the meat and toss to coat each piece.

Heat the olive oil in a large heavy saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the beef in a single layer without crowding the pan (work in 2 batches if necessary) and cook, turning, until browned on all sides. Remove the beef from the pan and reserve.

Add the red wine to deglaze the pan and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Bring the liquid to a boil then add the minced garlic. Return the beef to the pot and add the potatoes, onions, carrots, celery, sliced mushrooms, tomatoes and water or broth. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a very low simmer, cover and cook until the beef is very tender, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Add the peas and continue cooking until the stew is thickened and the peas are cooked, about 5 to 10 minutes. Season it with salt and pepper to taste. I used 1 teaspoon of pepper, and a pinch of salt. If the sauce seems a little thick, add a splash of wine, water or broth. You may also need to do that when reheating if there is anything leftover. Enjoy! Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Hey Northeasters, Here’s a Recipe to Keep You Warm during the Storm… Brisket Chili!


Brisket Chili. Need I say more? I don’t think so, but I will! Today there are a lot of people snowed in – in the northeast. What better time to stay home all nice and warm and cook all day? When I spoke to each of my sisters in New York, they were both very busy cooking! One sister spent the day making soups; she made chicken and lentil. The other sister made meatloaf, turkey chili and meatballs. Wish I was there to enjoy their bounty of deliciousness with them! Recently, I had my own freezing cold day where I stayed in and cooked all day. One of the things I prepared was brisket chili. I usually make turkey but this is where the Barefoot Contessa comes in. I was watching television and her show came on. It was the episode with her friend Devon’s award winning brisket chili recipe.

Ina Garten, aka the Barefoot Contessa, really knows how to live it up. She’s always having friends over to cook, bake, BBQ, decorate with and let’s not forget how much she likes surprising her husband Jeffrey with something (usually chicken)! In this episode, her friend Devon joined her to teach her how to cook her Award-Winning Chili and of course, to surprise Jeffrey! When Ina asked Devon why brisket, she simply said because it’s New York Chili – that’s why! I guess that’s as good a reason as any!

When seeing the show, I remember the first thing that popped into my head was – wow! that is a lot of spice! Then when Ina tasted it, she confirmed what I was thinking! The second thing was… brisket that’s extravagant cut of meat for chili. I had never thought of using brisket. For one reason, we don’t eat very much red meat in my house. Second, we keep kosher and kosher brisket is a very expensive cut of meat to turn into chili. As I watched her make it, I knew I had to try it. Even though I knew there was no way I was adding as much cayenne and chili pepper to it as she did! They added 2 tablespoons of chili powder, 1 tablespoon of red pepper flakes, and 1 tablespoon of cayenne pepper! Talk about hot! It was enough spice to melt all the snow in the northeast!


Anyway, as luck would have it, I was at my butcher last week and all they had was chicken. Yes, I said chicken – hang in there with me I’m getting to it! David, the nice man that works at the butcher shop, walked out from the back with a tray of brisket, but before seeing what it was, I made a joke and said “where’s the beef!” Then he showed me what he was about to put in the showcase. It was beautiful brisket, but the price – not so beautiful to use for chili! That’s when he leaned over, nudged me in the elbow and asked me if I like stew meat? I said yes, when I make stew. He said this is very special stew meat, you’ll never see it here again and he whispered, it’s the leftover brisket scraps at stew meat prices! I put every package in my cart and headed to the register before someone stopped me.  Brisket chili here I come!

This is a very loosely adapted version of Devon’s Chili recipe. I want to give credit where credit was due but please note, I did change it quite a bit. The first time I made it last year, I made it close to the recipe but altered the spice to our liking (especially since Ina said it was so hot). This time around, I made it my own and added celery and more peppers plus, I like using canned tomatoes for chili. If interested, her original can be found on the Food Network website. Enjoy!

5 pounds beef brisket, cut in 1-inch cubes
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups chopped sweet onions
1 cup celery diced
3 peppers of any color seeded and diced (I used one of each, yellow, orange and red)
6 large garlic cloves, minced
1 bay leaf
2 (28 ounce) cans of diced tomatoes with their liquid
1 (14.5 ounce) can tomatoes with mild chili’s
1/2 cup strong coffee (I used decaf)
1 can white cannellini beans rinsed and drained
1 can red kidney beans rinsed and drained
salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon chili powder (or to taste, more if you like it spicy!)
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or to taste, same as the chili powder)
2 tablespoons chopped basil leaves

Serve with: Diced tomato, Shredded Lettuce, Brown Rice, Corn, Tortilla chips, Guacamole or other condiment you like with your chili.


This recipe makes 8 to 10 servings

Pat the brisket cubes dry with paper towels. Heat the oil in a very large heavy-bottomed pot and quickly brown the meat, in batches, on all sides. Transfer the brisket to a separate bowl and set aside. Saute the onion and garlic in the same oil over medium heat until limp, but not brown, about 5 to 8 minutes and then add the celery and saute another 5 minutes until translucent.

Add the tomatoes with their juice, the reserved meat, chili powder, cayenne pepper, and bay leaf and bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover the pot with a tight fitting lid and simmer for 2 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. At this point it should be perking gently not bubbling rapidly. Taste and season with salt and pepper to your liking. Add the coffee and the diced peppers and cover the pot allow to simmer for 1 more hour or until the brisket is very tender.

Add the beans and basil, and warm through for about 15 minutes. Adjust the spice according to your taste. Transfer the chili to a large serving bowl and serve with whatever you like on the top.

Bar and Grill Veggie Burger with Secret Sauce


I tried to start this blog with a funny headline but no one in my family laughed. First I thought “A veggie burger walks into a bar and gets sauced” . . . . . . . . get it, . . . . . . . because of the secret sauce? When that didn’t work I simplified it with “A veggie burger walks into a bar… ba – dum – bump!” While it made me laugh, and I think my sister-in-law Barbara would appreciate it, my family heckled me to the point that I just wrote what it is – a veggie burger recipe! Wait, here comes my husband chiming in with a joke of his own! I’d better start writing this post…

A friend of mine told me she went to a restaurant last week and when she asked about the veggie burger on the menu the waiter said it was a frozen Morningstar Farms black bean burger. She was horrified to learn they use a frozen burger you can buy in the grocery. Plus, it’s not the healthiest and definitely not fresh tasting. She inquired as to why they didn’t have a house-made one and they said they’ve never found a good recipe for one. I find it difficult to believe in today’s day and age they couldn’t find a really good recipe or come up with one of their own. She told them they should take it off the menu, and I agree.

One thing you’ll learn about me pretty quickly is that I love good veggie burgers – and, I can be a bit of a snob about them! Even the frozen brands, that’s why I like to make them myself. I don’t like the kind that pretends to be meat. I like the ones where you can see the vegetables and grains. You know the kind that say “hey look at me! I’m healthy and delicious!” Here in Columbus, we’re lucky to have Northstar Cafe where their veggie burger reigns supreme! It’s filled with brown rice, black beans and beets, it’s very different and very delicious! Bare Burger (an up and coming NY chain) has a few vegetarian burger options, including mushroom and quinoa and recently opened in town. Sad is the restaurant that serves a frozen brand when they are so easy to make.


I was watching a show on the Food Network the other day featuring a bar and grill. All of the customers were raving about their veggie burger. The chef was making what he called bar food kicked up a notch. A few days later, I watched the show again, wrote down all of the ingredients and then tried to figure out the quantities of each component. I substituted shredded hash browns for mashed potatoes in the original to keep calories down and for simplicity, however, if you have leftover mashed potatoes, go for it and use that instead.

I must have done a great job because everyone in my family loved them. Everyone from my son who is a pescatarian (vegetarian who will eat fish), my other son who is a carnivore (meat lover), and my husband who is an adventurous eater as long as there is a good sauce. Then there’s me, I’m a bit of a wild card. My diet is different from everyone in my family. I am happy with a piece of grilled salmon on a salad any day of the week! While I enjoy a good burger, I can’t remember the last time I actually had one. I usually opt for a turkey burger, tuna burger, and obviously a veggie burger!

So here you have it, my version of an upscale bar food veggie burger, I hope you Enjoy! Let me know how it turns out if you make it! Oh, and while I don’t think it needs cheese, if you just have to have it, select something like fontina, brie, or port salut; mild and creamy that won’t take away from the deliciousness of the burger.


1 cup shredded carrots
1 cup shredded zucchini
1 red pepper diced fine
1 cup shredded frozen hash brown potatoes (or mashed potatoes if you have them on hand)
1/2 cup corn
1/2 cup green peas
1/2 cup cooked barley
1/2 cup cooked brown rice
1/4 cup scallions sliced thin both green and white parts
2 teaspoons – no salt seasoning
1 extra large egg (omit if you want to keep it vegan and add extra potato)
1/4 to 1/2 cup bread crumbs
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper or to taste
canola or light olive oil to pan fry the burgers

Use a good lettuce like crispy frisée or spicy arugula or mixture of both
sliced tomato
slices of avocado

1 soft challah roll, ciabatta roll, or pita
1 to 2 tablespoons of special secret sauce (recipe follows)


While the barley and rice are cooking, prepare everything else. It took about 1/2 an hour to assemble and another 15 to cook. Cook the barley according to package directions. I purchased mine from Trader Joe’s and it was a quick cooking barley that took only 10 minutes. Cook the brown rice according to directions on the package as well.

While they are cooking, assemble all of your other ingredients. Dice the red pepper in a small dice, and slice the scallions finely. Measure the shredded potatoes (I used the Trader Joe’s shredded hash brown potatoes), peas and corn and place in a large bowl then set aside. Finely shred 2 or 3 carrots (depending on size to make a cup). Do the same with the zucchini. I like to buy smaller zucchini when I can find them, they have less seeds and are less watery. It’s okay if your measurements aren’t exact. If it’s a little more or less of an item, it will still turn out well. Just don’t overdo it, keep well within the recipe guidelines especially the first time you make it. Then make it your own!




Into the bowl with the potatoes, peas, and corn, add the rice while it is hot and it will defrost the other ingredients and cool down the rice. Rinse the barley and add that in as well. Next, add in the shredded carrots, zucchini, red pepper, and scallions, Mix well with a fork. Add the salt, pepper and no-salt seasoning and stir gently. Side note here… I like the Kirkland Organic No-Salt Seasoning from Costco or Trader Joe’s 21 Salute, but any no-salt seasoning you like will do.

Add in the egg, mix and then add in the breadcrumbs until everything just comes together enough that you can make a patty.  I used a 1/2 cup measuring cup to scoop out the portions so they would all be the same size. Mold the patties tightly so that they’ll stay together and place on a plate.


Heat a large frying pan or griddle with a couple of tablespoons of canola or extra light olive oil on medium heat. When the oil starts to bubble, place the burgers into the pan. Cook until golden brown on each side – approximately 6 – 8 minutes a side.

This recipe makes approximately 10 burgers and they freeze very well. Just make sure to individually wrap them tightly with plastic wrap and then place in a zipper bag in the freezer. The only problem is that these are so good, they’ll never make it to the freezer!



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Happy Cinco de Mayo! Celebrate with fish tacos!


So, I’m a day late and a dollar short. Yesterday was Cinco de Mayo. Usually that means my boys come home from school and tell me they have to bake something for Spanish class. Oh, and did I mention they usually need it the next day! So being the girl scout that I am and always prepared, I generally have all the ingredients to make any variety of food (well most foods anyway)! The good news is that my boys help out, especially since we always make desserts. Jarred genuinely likes to cook and Ethan likes to lick the bowl!

This year as May 5th approached I asked my younger son Ethan what he wanted to bring in to school. He said the teacher didn’t ask the class for anything –  I was shocked yet at the same time being in the throws of baseball season very relieved. Over the past 6 years I have been in my kitchen making: Mexican wedding cookies, horchata or Arroz con leche (rice pudding), flan (Mexican custard), dulce de leche (caramel), churros, oh and let’s not forget to send in Mexican hot chocolate, and cafe con leche to wash it all down! Last year I made bridagderos (a chocolate candy that is a cross between fudge and a truffle) stay tuned for that recipe, it’s delicious although technically wasn’t considered Spanish for the class since it’s Brazilian! As you can see, I’m not the grab a bag of chips and salsa to bring in kind of mom! This year I was planning to make paletas (frozen popsicles) that I saw on the Food Network. I might just have to make those sometime this summer.

Since it is a baseball night, I had to make a fast dinner so I decided to prepare a make your own taco or burrito bar. Being short on time, I purchased flour tortillas, guacamole and cuban black beans from Trader Joe. They have the best homemade flour tortillas! Salsa is another story entirely and I should probably have a post dedicated the the brands I have tried. So for tonight, any jar of salsa you have in your house will be great – remember, short on time.

To set up the buffet, you’ll need a main protein (in my case grilled tilapia) toppings of your choice, shredded lettuce, salsa, guacamole, rice, corn, black beans, tortilla chips and shredded cheese.


For the recipes… roasted corn and onions, grilled tilapia, brown rice.

Taco Spiced Tilapia
3 to 4 tilapia filets (account for 1 piece of fish per person)
Penzey’s taco seasoning (or brand of your choice)
1 tablespoon olive oil

Put a non-stick grill pan on the stove top on medium heat. Meanwhile prepare the fish. Rub both sides with olive oil and sprinkle the top with taco seasoning. When the pan is hot, place the fish seasoned side down. Sprinkle the other side with a little more seasoning. Grill until done about 5 minutes a side depending on how thick your fish is.


Roasted Corn Recipe

There is a restaurant in NYC called Canyon Road. They make a roasted corn dish that is to die for. In the summer, I roast my own corn on the grill but for a nice shortcut, Trader Joe has roasted corn in the freezer section. How easy is that? It’s made with caramelized onions and very deliscious, I hope you like it.

one onion finely diced
4 garlic cloves minced
1/2 bag frozen roasted corn from you guessed it… Trader Joe!
salt and pepper to taste (I used 1/2 teaspoon of each)

In a large skillet heat 2 tbs. olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions and cook over medium to low heat for about 15 to 20 minutes until they are nice and caramelized. Add the garlic and cook for a couple of minutes then add the corn. Cook until the corn is hot, add salt and pepper to taste.


Chipotle Restaurant Style Rice
2 cups of water
1 cup brown rice
1 small shallot diced fine
2 tablespoons dried cilantro or parsely (or combination)
2 teaspoons of olive oil
2 teaspoons zesty lemon seasoning
1 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning (no salt added)

In a 2 quart saucepan add the water and bring to a boil. When it comes to a boil, add the rice and the rest of the ingredients and stir. Cover and cook as directed on the package.


According to the Encyclopedia Britannica…

Cinco de Mayo, ( Spanish: “Fifth of May”) , also known as the Anniversary of the Battle of Puebla,  national holiday in Mexico in honor of a military victory in 1862 over the French forces of Napoleon III. When in 1861 Mexico declared a temporary moratorium on the repayment of foreign debts, English, Spanish, and French troops invaded the country.