Category Archives: Entertaining

Recipe Redux: Blueberry Basil Cooler

It’s that time again: the monthly Recipe Redux blog challenge! Last month’s theme was grilling (if you missed my Grilled Salmon Burgers with Cherry Chutney check it out), and in keeping with the spirit of summer, the Recipe Redux founders made this month’s theme Summer Beverages.

Back in April, Nutritioulicious intern Megan posted a refreshing recipe for Strawberry, Lemon, and Basil Soda to get us ready for summer, but I needed something new for this month’s challenge. Inspired by the blueberries I had in my refrigerator and the basil I received from my weekly CSA share, I decided to make a Blueberry Basil Cooler. I made it non-alcoholic, but feel free to add vodka or gin to it for happy hour!

Blueberry Basil Cooler
Serves 2


  • 1/2 cup blueberries, plus more for garnish, rinsed and patted dry
  • ~10 basil leaves, rinsed and patted dry
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1-2 teaspoons honey
  • 12 ounces seltzer or soda water
  • Ice cubes

blueberry basil cocktail


  1. Muddle blueberries, basil, lime juice, and honey in the base of a shaker glass.
  2. Add seltzer or soda water and ice cubes and shake to combine.
  3. Fill two glasses with ice cubes and strain the drink evenly between the two glasses. Garnish with blueberries and a basil leaf. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the summer!
summer drinks   summer drink recipes

For more summer drinks, here are the other great recipes from Recipe Reduxers:

Quinoa-Stuffed Cornish Hens

Most Friday nights my husband and I stay in for dinner and I cook something that takes a little more time to prep than during the week. I try to keep it interesting and vary the main dish, so some weeks I make traditional roast chicken and other times I make more unique recipes like beef stew and miso-ginger chicken and cabbage.  A couple of weeks ago we had company over and I tried a new recipe that I really loved. It was different than the typical roast chicken my husband is getting sick of and looked fancier than a basic chicken dish, but was still fairly easy to make. Of course I tweaked the original recipe that I found at Food & Wine, but the end result was great!

Quinoa-Stuffed Cornish Hens (adapted from Food & Wine’s Couscous-Stuffed Cornish Hens)
Serves: 6   


cornish hens recipe

  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 2 cups low-sodium vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Fresh-ground black pepper
  • 3 Cornish hens
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1/3 cup water
  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Toast the nuts in the oven until golden brown, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove and set aside. Raise the heat to 425 degrees F. 
  2. In a small saucepan, bring the broth, apricots, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and the quinoa to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 15 minutes or until all the broth is absorbed. Remove from the heat and add the almonds, 1 tablespoon of honey, the cinnamon, and 1/8 teaspoon of salt and pepper. 
  3. Fill the cavities of the hens with the quinoa mixture. Twist the wings of the hens behind their backs, and if you like, tie the legs together. Put the hens breast-side up in a roasting pan. Coat the hens with the oil and sprinkle with 1/8 teaspoon salt and pepper. 
  4. Roast the hens for 25 minutes. Drizzle with the remaining tablespoon of honey and continue roasting until just done, about 10 to 15 minutes longer. 
  5. When the hens are done, transfer them to a plate and leave to rest in a warm spot for about 5 minutes. Spoon the fat from the roasting pan and add the water to the juices. Cook over moderate heat, scraping the bottom of the pan to dislodge any brown bits, until reduced to 1/3 cup, about 3 minutes. Add a pinch each of salt and pepper. Cut the hens in half and serve with the stuffing and pan juices. 

Fresh Pasta & Eataly

Last summer New Yorkers were buzzing about a newly opened gourmet food and wine market called Eataly. Eataly is not just any gourmet market — it is all Italian all the time. From the freshly made bread and pasta, to the butcher shop, pescheria (fish market), and produce market, and for the end of the trip cravings the espresso bar, gelateria, and pasticceria (pastry shop), you feel like you’re in Italy exploring the bounty of wonderful, delicious Italian cuisine everywhere you turn.

Not only can you buy all these delightful Italian specialties at Eataly, but you can also eat there. They have multiple restaurants including a pizza joint, a fish restaurant, a meat restaurant, and a vegetable restaurant featuring seasonal vegetables.

One of the highlights of Eataly is the vegetable butcher they have on staff. Never before had I heard of this type of job! The name really says it all – this is a butcher for vegetables. She will wash, clean, and cut your vegetables. So if you don’t know how to prep an artichoke for cooking or you don’t have time to chop vegetables but want a home cooked meal, she’s there to save your day!

Last week I visited Eataly (as I tend to do when I’m in the neighborhood) and decided to treat my husband and myself to some fresh pasta.  That night we had a pasta sampler for dinner.

We tried the Agnolotti dal Formaggio – little pillows stuffed with four cheeses topped in a tomato basil sauce. The agnolotti were so cute (see below)!

Eataly fresh pasta

We also had Ravioli Zucca – ravioli stuffed with butternut squash and amaretto cookies in a butter sage sauce. This was my absolute favorite! I felt like I was eating in a restaurant!

eataly fresh pasta

Do you have a favorite gourmet market? What do you like to buy there?

A New Way To Enjoy Salmon

Last weekend my husband and I hosted a small New Year’s Eve cocktail party. In addition to some staple items that I always put out for these types of get-togethers like  a cheese plate and crudite, I decided to make a bunch of small bite foods, including white bean dip served with homemade pita chips, baked falafel balls, and pureed mushroom soup served in tea cups. So far everything I had was vegetarian, so I wanted to include at least one non-vegetarian dish.

In the past I have made Salmon-Cucumber Rounds, but I wanted to try something new. After searching some of my cookbooks, I came across a completely different salmon recipe: Black-Sesame Salmon Balls. Andy was skeptical (he’s not a huge fan of salmon, despite all the amazing health benefits!), but once he tried them he was raving about them to everyone who would listen! They’re fairly easy to make, so try them out — who couldn’t use a new twist for salmon?!

Black-Sesame Salmon Balls (from Food & Wine’s Annual Cookbook 2010)
Makes 2 dozen salmon balls (Note: I only got about 16 out of the recipe)

Ingredients:salmon hors douerves

  • 1 1/2 pounds skinless salmon fillet, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons finely chopped water chestnuts
  • 1 large egg white
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon wasabi powder
  • 4 small scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons finely grated ginger
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup black sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon Asian sesame oil


  1. Spread the salmon cubes on a plate and freeze for 15 minutes. Transfer the salmon to a food processor. Add the water chestnuts, egg white, cornstarch, wasabi powder, three-fourths of the scallions, 1 1/2 teaspoons of the ginger, 2 teaspoons of kosher salt and a pinch of pepper. Pulse 4 or 5 times, until the salmon is chopped and the mixture just comes together. Transfer to a bowl.
  2. Spread the sesame seeds on a plate. Scoop the salmon mixture into mounds of 2 tablespoons each and roll into 24 balls. Roll the balls in the seeds and transfer to 2 glass pie plates. Set one of the plates in a large steamer. Steam the salmon balls over boiling water until firm, about 6 minutes. Repeat with the remaining salmon balls.
  3. Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine the vinegar, soy sauce and sesame oil with the remaining scallions and ginger. Serve the salmon balls with the dipping sauce.

What are some of your favorite cocktail party recipes?

*Note: I do not work with Food & Wine, nor was I compensated or asked to write this post.

Pureed Mushroom Soup

I love soup, but I’ve never been a huge fan of mushroom soup, most of which are mushrooms and barley in broth. (Don’t get me wrong – I love mushrooms and barley, but have never been so into the combo of both in soup form). A few weeks ago my mind changed when I had a delicious pureed mushroom soup.When the soup arrived at the table I was surprised to see that it was a puree, not the quintessential mushroom barley soup I was expecting. The puree was so smooth and velvety. I decided that I wanted to try to make it at home, and so I did. I searched for some recipes, and as usual I tweaked to keep the end result a light, creamy puree without the added calories and saturated fat from heavy cream.

Pureed Mushroom Soup
Serves: 12; Serving Size: 1 cup


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped shallots and/or onions
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 pounds white mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 portobello mushroom caps, chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 3 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 3 cups water
  • 1/2 cup evaporated skim milk
  • 1 medium Yukon Gold potato (about 6 ounces), peeled and diced


  1. Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the shallots and/or onions and cook until tender, about 3 to 5 minutes.
  2. Add the minced garlic and stir for 30 seconds. Add the mushrooms, a pinch of salt, and a few turns of pepper. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, about 5 to 10 minutes.
  3. Add the broth, water, evaporated skim milk, and potatoes to the pot. Bring to a boil; cover and simmer for one hour.
  4. Working in batches, blend the soup in a blender (works much better than a food processor). Return the pureed soup to the pot and season with salt and pepper. Serve hot. (I served this soup in tea cups at a cocktail party. You can also serve it in shot glasses!)

Nutrition Facts (per serving): 62 calories, 3 g protein, 7 g carbohydrate, 1 g fiber, 2.5 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 95 mg sodium.

Cooking Tip: Hold the cover to the blender with a towel to prevent soup from splattering.

Serving Suggestion: Sautè some extra sliced mushrooms and put in the bottom of the bowl before pouring in the soup.  You can also top the soup with a dollop of crème fraiche.

Nutrition Tip: Mushrooms are the only source of vitamin D in the produce aisle! They are also a very good source of potassium, which helps lower blood pressure; selenium, an antioxidant with cancer-fighting benefits; and the B vitamins riboflavin and niacin, which help provide energy to your body.

Cheesy Bean, Zucchini, & Red Pepper Dip

Between football games and holiday parties there sure are a lot of celebrations this time of year, all of which tend to involve food.  Last week I shared one of my favorite hors d’oeurves, Salmon Ceviche in Cucumber Cups, on fellow dietitian Robyn Webb’s Fabulous Food Finds blog. Today I have another recipe to share, but this time it’s a classic cold weather favorite that is made a bit more nutritiously, while maintaining the delicious flavor.

Cheesy Bean, Zucchini, & Red Pepper Dip
Serves: 8; Serving Size: ½ cuphealthier bean dip


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
  • 1  small zucchini, cubed
  • 1 small red pepper, cubed
  • 1  small red onion, chopped
  • 1 to 2  jalapeño peppers, seeds and ribs removed, chopped
  • 1 can (15-ounces) black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2  teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1  teaspoon  chili powder
  • 1 cup grated reduced-fat Monterey jack or cheddar cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  2. Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add zucchini and sauté for 3 to 5 minutes, until soft. Remove from pan and set aside.
  3. Repeat step 2 with the red pepper, and then repeat again with the onions.
  4. Once the vegetables are all cooked, add them all back into the pan over low heat for another 3 to 5 minutes.
  5. Transfer vegetables from pan to a small to medium-sized ovenproof bowl. Add the drained beans, salt, pepper, and chili powder and toss to combine.
  6. Top bean and vegetable mixture with cheese and bake for about 10 minutes. Once the cheese is mostly melted, broil the dip for about 2 to 3 more minutes until the cheese is brown and bubbly. Serve with healthier chips.

Nutrition Information (per ½ cup serving): 106 calories, 7 g protein, 10 g carbohydrate, 3 g fiber, 4 g fat, 2g sat fat, 8 mg cholesterol, 247 mg sodium

CSA Dinner

Every Monday I get a delivery from a CSA (same one as last year), so by the end of the week I need to make sure there’s room in the fridge for a new batch of goodies. This past weekend I had a lot leftover from the previous delivery, so I got cooking! I made the following dishes:

Over the next few days I will share with you how they were all prepared. Here is what the dinner plate looked like with all four dishes:

dinner made with CSA foods

What do you do with your farm-fresh vegetables?