Curried Butternut Squash Soup

Did you know butternut squash is technically a fruit? It’s a member of the gourd family along with pumpkin, cucumber and melon as they all have seeds. Its orange color adds to its power of nutrients known as carotenoids shown to protect against heart disease. Butternut Squash also has significant amounts of potassium and vitamin B6 and folate. It’s low in fat and is a good source of fiber. I love using it in soups and this Curried Butternut Squash Soup is so easy, flavorful and heart-warming. Serve with a salad and crusty bread, and that’s all you need.

So Healthy, So Good: Quinoa Salad with Arugula and Feta

I’m shooting 4 television shows this week for NBC 13 “Daytime Alabama”, and here’s one of the dishes I will be making. For those of you not familiar with quinoa, I hope that I can help out. Quinoa is an amino acid protein rich seed that has a fluffy slightly crunchy texture and a nutty flavor when cooked. You cook it just as you would cook rice although you need to rinse the seeds before cooking them. Most commonly considered a grain, quinoa is actually a relative of leafy green vegetables like spinach and Swiss chard with so many health benefits. Quinoa is a very good source of manganese as well as a good source of fiber, protein, magnesium, iron, copper and phosphorus. It is said to be helpful to those who get migraine headaches and helps reduce diabetes and atherosclerosis. I love this Quinoa Salad with Arugula and Feta as it’s so fresh, healthy and flavorful. Feel free to make it a main dish by adding cooked chicken or shrimp. This is the perfect dish to start the new year on the right (and healthy) foot.

Fall Fest Fall Salad: Black-Eyed Pea Salad over Arugula

I have been working on some new fall salad recipes for upcoming television cooking segments this month. I was in the mood for a Black-Eyed Pea Salad and trying to increase the fiber in my kid’s diets. This recipe starts with a simple lime and chipotle vinaigrette combined with the black-eyed pea and black bean mixture. The mixture is served over peppery arugula which makes a fresh, flavorful and light salad. This is a great starter salad, but it would also be wonderful as a main dish topped with grilled or cooked chicken, shrimp, turkey or steak. This recipe is also a part of “Fall Fest” which is a continuation of Summer Fest, a cross blog recipe swap from various food blogs. These events were started by Margaret Roach of Away to Garden and Deb Puchalla of The Food Network. The theme this week is “fall salads” so I hope you enjoy this one.


Late Summer Salad: Vegetable Salad with Beets and Goat Cheese

Even though it’s the end of summer, I think it’s the perfect time to make fresh salads filled with your favorite produce. This Vegetable Salad is so colorful and flavorful from fresh roasted beets, corn, potatoes, tomatoes and lettuces topped with goat cheese and pecans. It makes a great main-course vegetarian salad because it is so hearty. This recipe is adapted from a recent recipe in Cooking Light for a Corn and Basil Salad. I added and deleted various ingredients, and this version turned out even better than it looks. My friend, Nancy, served it the other night along with beef tenderloin, and her friends raved about it. You can also add chicken or shrimp if you want to add extra protein. Also, feel free to prepare the beets, potatoes, corn and salad dressing ahead of time so all you have to do is assemble the ingredients.

Meatless Monday Main Dish: Ziti with Roasted Summer Vegetables

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School is a few weeks underway already in Alabama, and I am amazed at how hard my kids’ homework is. Last week, my two oldest children were up to almost 10 every night doing math problems, reading their quota of 150 minutes a week and so on. My son even had to do a “glog” which is actually the same thing as a “blog”. Pretty cool, huh. After a long day at school (and after-school sports), I love to serve the kids something really healthy, colorful and fresh. This dish was a hit the other night, especially topped with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. It’s great when I can feel good about what they are eating, especially when they are working so hard and need good nutrition.

Taste of Summer: Savory Tomato-Basil Pie

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When I worked at Southern Living Magazine, we tested a lot of Tomato Pie recipes. I have been searching for one without mayonnaise that was lighter, healthier and still tasted great. My assistant, Alatia, told me about one that she made recently. This Tomato-Basil Pie is super easy, and it makes great use of summery fresh tomatoes and basil. My kids said it tasted similar to a pizza, and they loved it. This is a great recipe idea for a party appetizer, light main-dish dinner or lunch. Serve with a drizzle of balsamic if you like. It’s a true taste of summer.

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Girls Night Out: Tomato and Avocado with Boursin Appetizer

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My friend, Kiel, just recently moved to Jacksonville, Florida, and she sent me some recipes from her “Girls Night Out” dinner. She and 10 of her friends get together every Tuesday night and alternate at their different houses trying new, fun and creative recipes. One night, they made Panini sandwiches and homemade tomato soup. Recently, they had an abundance of healthy, fresh salads. She sent me some of the recipes from her latest dinner. This Tomato-Avocado Appetizer with Boursin is such a breeze and tastes delish! It is so perfect for a crowd, especially during the summertime (such as this weekend for July 4th) celebrations. Thanks Kiel and your wonderful friends for sharing your recipes with me.

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Weekend Appetizer: Fresh Herb and Tomato Crostini

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Since it’s Memorial Day next week, I thought I would feature a really simple appetizer that looks and tastes like summer. You can’t go wrong using fresh garlic, basil, parsley and tomatoes. These Fresh Herb and Tomato Crostini start off your dinner or party right and are versatile to accompany any menu.

Vegetarian Healthy Favorite: Cuban Black Beans and Rice

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For all of those vegetarian friends and fans, here’s one for you. Cuban Black Beans and Rice is perfect as a main dish or even side dish. Black beans are extremely healthy, as they are a very good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber. They are also rich in antioxidants and may help to protect against cancer. This recipe is really easy to prepare and very filling. Feel free to substitute quinoa for the rice, if desired.

Healthy, Light and Easy: Roasted Vegetable Wraps

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Roasted Vegetable Wraps are as good at they look. You can’t go wrong when you combine fresh Farmer’s Market produce such as squash, zucchini and bell peppers with fresh basil and goat cheese (Belle Chevre is my favorite). This is a light vegetarian lunch or dinner idea, and it’s so easy to prepare. As summer nears, feel free to grill the vegetables over medium heat on a lightly greased grill rack 3 to 5 minutes on a side. You can also warm the tortillas slightly 1 minute on each side.