Plum Tart

Plums were on sale and I found them to be quite cute, to the point that I had to buy a lot of them. I wouldn’t want to see what happens if I were to walk into a pet store.
They looked great in my fruit bowl, but I realized I had to find a way to use them soon, or they wouldn’t be looking so nice. A plum tart was a great solution and Ina Garten had a great sounding recipe. I’m going to be honest and say I wasn’t in love when I tried it. Let the tart rest overnight, and eat it the next day with whipped cream. A great, great dessert.
The plums are tart and sandwiched between layers of nutty and hearty crust, creating something sweet. Anything that comes out of a tart pan just looks fancy, so making this for dessert might make you feel like you’re fine dining, at home.
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 pounds firm, ripe plums, pitted and sliced lengthwise, quarters or sixths
How To:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Stir the flours, walnuts and sugar in a large bowl. Cut in the butter and the egg yolk. Mix by hand (or you can use an electric mixer) until crumbly.

Press 1 3/4 to 2 cups of the crumb mixture in an even layer into the bottom of a 9 1/2″ tart pan. Place the plums in, skin side down, in a spiral pattern (begin at the outside, end in the middle).

Sprinkle the remaining crumb mixture over the plums. Bake for 40 minutes, or until the topping is lightly browned. Let cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack. Transfer tart to a flat place or cake stand. You can eat it at room temperature but I recommend chilling it and serving with whipped cream.


Salmon with Lemon Pasta

I meant to take more pictures of this dish, but within 15 minutes I was done and my memory kicked in at minute 16. I’m happy to have at least taken a few. A roasted (or grilled) piece of salmon is placed upon slightly tangy, citrusy pasta, atop a bed of fresh spinach.
Salmon with lemon pasta is a great go-to weeknight dinner. It cooks up quickly (as evidenced by lack of photos) and tastes fresh and light. You are actually motivated to do things after dinner; things that would have been left until the weekend while you watch TV on the couch. Of course, it’s ok if you still give into weeknight shows because you still feel good just by eating this meal.
  • 2 (6-ounce) pieces salmon
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to season
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, plus more to season
  • 1/2 pound whole-wheat pasta, any shape (I used twisty gobetti)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream (optional)
  • 4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 3 tablespoons capers, rinsed
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach leaves
How To:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Rub salmon with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast in oven for 12 minutes, or until cooked through.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook until tender but al dente, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain pasta reserving 3 tablespoons pasta water with the pasta and transfer both to a large bowl. Add the garlic, 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, salt and pepper to taste, and toss. Add the heavy cream, basil, capers, lemon zest and lemon juice to the pasta mixture and stir to combine.

To serve, place 1/2 cup to 1 cup spinach on each plate. Top with 1/3 of the pasta, then with a piece of the salmon. Serve immediately. Leftover pasta is there for a second serving.

Quinoa Salad

I had been wanting to make a quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) salad for a long time, but either didn’t feel like the “healthy” taste I was convinced this salad would amount to or couldn’t muster up the energy to get the ingredients. I was wrong on so many levels.

Quinoa salad is incredibly tasty and unbelievably easy. It will be a making many appearances at our dinner table. So it’s healthy, yes, but it is also a great filling grain (actually, it’s a seed, but I call it a grain) that is also gluten free. Anyone who suffers from a gluten intolerance can make this recipe in abundance. And the easy part? It cooks up in 10 to 15 minutes, you let it cool a little, add all your ingredients and there you have it: quinoa salad.

You can switch up the vegetables to use what you have on hand or work with the theme of your dinner. For example, if you are making a mexican dish, add in avocado, corn, salsa, and I’d even say black beans. Just a note, quinoa is a high protein grain, so added beans are going to give you a real protein punch. You could make the quinoa salad your meal alone. But let’s concentrate on this quinoa salad – refreshing, light, and filling with sweet peppers, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, and cranberries. Just the thing for an almost 100 degree day.


  • 1 cup quinoa (the pre-washed variety)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/4 salt
  • 1 zucchini, diced (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1/2 yellow pepper, diced
  • 1/2 orange pepper, diced
  • 3/4 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted sunflower seeds or toasted cashews (optional)

Variations: diced cucumber, celery, snow peas, shell peas, green beans, carrots peeled and sliced thin, avocado, corn, salsa, chopped scallions, raisins, apricots, Greek olives, roasted red peppers (in water or oil), minced jalapeno pepper, fresh mint, parsley, cilantro, or basil, pinch of cayenne, garlic powder, fresh minced garlic, minced fresh or dried ginger.

for the dressing

  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • fresh ground pepper to taste
Dressing variations: Brianna’s blush wine vinaigrette, italian dressing, caesar dressing, your favorite vinaigrette.
How To:
Place quinoa, water and salt in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook until all water is absorbed, about 10 to 15 minutes. When done, the grain will appear soft and translucent and the germ ring will be visible. Place in a mixing bowl and let cool for several minutes.
While quinoa is cooking or cooling, mix lemon juice salt and pepper, then whisk in olive oil. Set aside.
Add the rest of the ingredients, seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Toss with salad dressing and chill. Serve as a side dish or as your main meal.

Morning Blueberry Muffins

I must be on a muffin kick…I saw blueberries in the market and immediately thought of muffins (not a buckle, cobbler, pancakes or smoothie). I’ve had trouble with blueberry muffins before, so I needed to find a great recipe that would put these blueberries to good use. I believe I found that great recipe.

Blueberry muffins need a little lemon zest. They also need a little sweetness but not too much so they feel like a dessert. They are supposed to be a breakfast food after all. And the crumble…oh the crumble. I am now sold on the idea all muffins should have a crumble topping.

My issues have been blue muffins and dry muffins…these are neither. They are moist, the right “muffin” color, and have a tye dye blueberry pattern. They make me want to wake up and eat one. Any muffin that can do that, is worth baking. I think we all know this, but they don’t need to be morning only muffins. They can be morning, noon and night blueberry muffins.


  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temp
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups fresh blueberries
  • 2 cups flour (I used a mix of whole wheat pastry flour and all-purpose flour)
  • 2/3 cup milk

for topping

  • 1/4 cup white sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed

How To:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease 12 regular-size muffin cups.

For topping, mix together sugar, flour and cinnamon. Add in cubed butter and process with hands or with a pastry blender. Set aside.

Sift together baking powder, salt and flour; set aside. In a medium bowl, beat butter until creamy. Add sugar and beat until pale and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Add vanilla and lemon zest and mix. Fold in half of sifted flour mixture then half of milk; repeat. Gently stir in blueberries. Spoon into muffin cups (about 3/4 full) and sprinkle 1 to 2 teaspoons topping onto each muffin. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, until light golden brown and a cake tester comes out clean.