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One of the great things about summer are the BBQs and all the time outside. Almost every week, a bunch of us would head to the park with all sorts of goodies to grill on the park’s charcoal grill. We’ play volleyball or soccer, watch the kids on the playground, and maybe go for a walk or go kayaking. Then, we’d crank up the grill and enjoy lunch or dinner in the sun.

This salad is the perfect accompaniment to a summer BBQ. It can be made up to 3 days a head of time and served warm or at room temperature. Add as much fresh herbs you’d like – I loved it with lots of fresh basil.

Couscous & Grilled Veggie Salad

Adapted from Fine Cooking #73 (p. 59)

Serves 10-12

Ingredients for the Vinaigrette:

  • 1/3 c. red-wine vinegar
  • 1/8 c. chopped black olives
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2/3 c. extra-virgin olive oil

Ingredients for the Salad:

  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • 1 red or yellow bell pepper, cored and cut into 1-inch strips
  • 3 small carrots, peeled and halved lengthwise
  • 1 medium eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch strips
  • 2 small zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch strips
  • 1 small bunch scallions, trimmed

Ingredients for the Couscous:

  • 1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1-3/4 c. uncooked couscous
  • 2+ Tbs. chopped fresh basil (or mint, parsley, or a mix)
  • salt and black pepper, to taste
  • lemon juice, to taste

Make the vinaigrette: In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, 1 Tbs. of the olives, mustard, and olive oil. Whisk in the remaining olives. Season to taste with pepper.

Grill the vegetables: Heat grill on medium-high heat. Brush veggies with oil and season with salt. Grill until veggies are marked and tender, turning as needed. The zucchini, peppers and scallions with be ready first, the eggplant second (be sure to make sure it’s still a bit crunchy), and the carrots last. Let cool slightly.

Put together the salad: Bring 2 c. water, oil add salt to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add couscous, stir to combine, and remove from heat. Let stand 5 minutes.

Chop veggies into 3/4-inch pieces. Toss with half of the vinaigrette.

Fluff couscous and toss with veggies, remaining vinaigrette and fresh herbs. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

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One of the things I love about summer is the BBQs and fresh foods. While so many pasta salads are made with mayo or Italian dressing, I like to mix it up a bit. I’ve made this pasta salad a couple of times, varying both the veggies and herbs that get mixed in.

Orzo Salad with Grilled Zucchini & Red Peppers

Adapted from Fine Cooking No. 80 (p. 36, 39)

Serves 6-8

Ingredients for the Rosemary Oil

  • 1 c. extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 sprigs rosemary, leaves stripped off and minced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced

Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Let cook about 5 minutes, until the flavors fused and the oil is bubbling (let oil bubble/sizzle 2-3 minutes).  Set aside to cool. Extra oil may be stored in a glass jar in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Ingredients for the Salad:

  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 1 1/4 lb. zucchini
  • 5+ Tbs. rosemary oil
  • kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 Tbs. red wine vinegar
  • 3/4 lb. orzo pasta (or fregola or other small pasta)

Grill the Veggies: Heat grill to medium heat.

Note: If you’re using a grill basket to grill the veggies, its easiest to cut into 1-inch chunks before grilling. If not, slice both peppers and zucchini into quarters.

Toss veggies with 2 Tbs. oil, 1 tsp. kosher salt, and 1/2 tsp. black pepper. Grill until veggies have nice grill marks and are tender, tossing as necessary. Remove from heat.

Make Pasta Salad: Cook pasta according to instructions. Drain.

Toss grilled veggies, pasta, red wine vinegar, and remaining 3 Tbs. rosemary oil. Add additional rosemary, oil, salt, and pepper to taste.

Serve cold or at room temperature.

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This green bean salad was quick and easy. It’s easy enough to change up the recipe according to your taste and season – more/less lemon, different nuts or herbs, etc. My husband and I had the green beans as our only side with the Barefoot Contessa’s Indonesian Ginger Chicken, and it was perfect for the two of us. It’s definitely a recipe that I’ll be making again and again. Enjoy!

Roasted Green Beans with Lemon, Pine Nuts, & Parmigiano

Adapted from Fine Cooking 82, pp. 55



  • 1/3 lb. fresh green beans, rinsed well, stem ends trimmed
  • 4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1-1/2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest (1 lemon), plus 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/3 c. pine nuts
  • 1/4 c. coarsely grated or shredded Parmigiano-Reggiano
  • 1 tsp. coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

Preheat the oven to 450°F.

In a large bowl, combine green beans, garlic, and lemon zest. Sprinkle in pepper and salt to taste. Toss with olive oil until just coated (2-4 Tbs.)

Spread the beans on a rimmed baking sheet and roast in the top third of the oven for 10 minutes. Stir, and continue roasting for another 10-15 minutes. Green beans and garlic will be slightly browned.

While green beans are roasting, toast the pine nuts, either on a rimmed baking sheet or in a small skillet, for about 5 minutes, until slightly browned.

When green beans are done, transfer to a bowl or serving dish.

Option 1 to Finish: Toss with lemon juice and another 2 tsp. of olive oil. Sprinkle with pine nuts, Parmigiano, and parsley.

Option 2 to Finish: Skip the lemon juice and olive oil and toss with pine nuts, Parmigiano, and parsley.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

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I always seem to struggle at lunch time. I’m not a sandwich person and I’m pretty picky about my leftovers. If I was home for lunch, I’d have more options… turkey burgers, stir-fries, homemade pizza…. pretty easy stuff that just tastes better when you make them on the spot.

I decided to try my hand at chili this week, healthified since I’m trying to eat less junk and to get back in shape. This one was inspired by a friend of mine, with lots of veggies. Its one of those meals that I think I’d throw just about any veggie or bean I had on hand into, such as my mushrooms that were left over from quesadillas and taco night.

Vegetarian Chili

By Books n’ Cooks

Ingredients for the Chili Seasoning:

  • 1 Tbs. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 3/4 Tbs. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp. dried minced onion

Ingredients for the Chili:

  • olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed or chopped
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 red or green pepper, diced
  • 1 c. diced mushrooms
  • 1-12 oz package veggie protein crumbles (I used Smart Ground Mexican Style)
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1-28 oz. can crushed tomatoes

In a medium saucepan, heat a teaspoon of olive oil. When hot, add onion and sauté until soft.

Add all other ingredients and simmer for 30+ minutes, stirring occasionally, until flavors have fused.

Serve with a cheddar or Mexican cheese blend.

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The mushrooms are just a little bit sweet but not overbearing. A tasty (and quick) accompaniment to steak or a burger. I’ve also served this with steamed rice as a pairing with chicken and fish. Enjoy!

Balsamic Sautéed Mushrooms

Adapted from Fine Cooking No. 91, p. 47


  • 1 Tbs. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp. brown sugar
  • 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 lb. cremini mushrooms, quartered
  • kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic

In a small bowl, combine the balsamic vinegar, brown sugar and 1 Tbs. water. Set aside.

In a 10-inch skillet, melt 1 Tbs. of the butter and the olive oil over medium-high heat.

When butter is melted and butter / oil mixture is hot, add the mushrooms and 3/4 tsp. salt. Stir with a wooden spoon until the mushrooms have absorbed the liquid.

Cook mushrooms for another 6-8 minutes, stirring every minute, until the pan looks dry. Mushrooms will have shrunk and will be brown on some sides.

Lower heat and add the remaining butter and garlic. Stir until butter is melted and garlic is fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add balsamic and brown sugar mixture, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan until the liquid reduces into a glaze, another 30-60 seconds.

Taste and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve warm.

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Since I didn’t have any dinner party plans, I made this for a little appetizer for my husband and I one night before a late dinner. It was tasty although I was surprised that my husband preferred my traditional cheese-stuffed mushroom recipe to this one. I completely thought he would have opted for the sausage version!

I did use cream cheese in place of mascapone cheese in this recipe – I never really use mascapone and didn’t think I’d have the time to plan another menu-item around the ingredient to use it up. The cream cheese worked just find as a bonding agent.

The only thing I would recommend with this recipe is that you very finely chop the sausage after it is fully browned. I chopped mine up with a spoon as I would normally do, but when it came time to mix the ingredients, I found that the sausage chunks were still too large.

Stuffed Mushrooms

Source: The Barefoot Contessa

Prep Time: 15 minutes     Cook Time: 50-60 minutes

Yields: 6-8 servings


  • 16 large white mushrooms
  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 1/2 Tbs. Marsala wine or sherry
  • 3/4 lb. sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 6 scallions, white & green parts, minced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2/3 c. panko crumbs
  • 5 oz. mascarpone cheese  (I used cream cheese)
  • 1/3 c. grated Parmesan
  • 2 1/2 Tbs. minced fresh parsley
  • salt & pepper

Preheat the oven to 325F.

Remove stems from mushroom caps. Mince stems and set aside.

Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add sausage, breaking up into small chunks with a spatula or wooden spoon.

When completely browned (about 10 minutes), add mushroom stems and Marsala/sherry. Cook for another couple minutes.

Add scallions and garlic, and cook for another couple minutes. Be sure to stir so the mushrooms, scallions and garlic are getting warmed.

Stir in panko. When combined, add mascapone or cream cheese and stir until cheese has melted and the mixture is creamy.

Remove pan from heat and stir in Parmesan and parsley. Salt & pepper to taste.

Allow to cool slightly before filling the mushroom caps with the sausage mixture.

Arrange mushrooms in a baking dish that holds the mushrooms snugly against each other.

Bake for 50 minutes, until stuffing is cooked and browned. If your stuffing hasn’t browned after 50 minutes, broil for a few minutes.

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Mushrooms 004-1

Sauteed Mushrooms with Garlic & Parsley

Source: Fine Cooking No. 81, p. 81 or online here

Serves 8


  • 5 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 lb. white or cremini mushrooms; washed; trimmed; and quartered
  • kosher salt
  • 5-6 cloves garlic, minced (1 1/2 Tbs.)
  • 1 Tbs. sherry vinegar
  • 2 Tbs. chopped fresh parsley


Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until hot and shimmering. Add mushrooms and sprinkle with 3/4 tsp. kosher salt.

Let mushrooms cook undisturbed until liquid released from mushrooms evaporate, 5-7 minutes. Mushrooms will be golden brown. Stir; and contMushrooms 003-1inue sauteing and stirring until the mushrooms are browned, 3-5 more minutes.

Lower heat slightly and add garlic. Stir.

Add vinegar. Stir, scraping the pan to release the bits stuck to the bottom. Vinegar will evaporate.

Remove mushrooms from heat. Toss with parsley and season with more salt, to taste.
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My family has been using this recipe for as long as I can remember, but, of course, I have no idea where it came from.  I tend to vary the ingredients a bit and it always comes out well and they always go quickly.  Enjoy!

Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms


  • 3 Tbs. butter
  • 2 dozen white button mushrooms
  • 1/4 c. finely chopped onion
  • 6 Tbs. grated or shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 3 Tbs. bread crumbs (I use Italian-style)
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 2 Tbs. cream or milk


1. Clean mushrooms and remove stems from caps. Chop stems finely.

2. In a skillet over low heat, melt butter. Add onions and chopped mushroStuffed Mushrooms 1-1om stems. Cook for 5 minutes, until translucent and slightly browned. With a slotted spoon, transfer to a mixing bowl and allow to cool slightly.

3. Cook caps in same skillet until browned and tender. Transfer to a plate lined with paper towels to drain.

4. Add the remaining ingredients to mushroom / onion mixture and combine. Fill caps with mixture.

5. Broil until browned.


  • Add finely chopped bell peppers, any color (in lieu or in addition to onion)
  • Mix up the cheese: Parmesan, Asiago, any hard cheese
  • Add bacon or pancetta, to the tops of caps before broiling or to onion / mushroom mixture.
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Corn Fritters 4

This was my husband’s one request for his birthday party (I know, a bit weird, right?). However, it ended up being easy to make (I made them during the day, and heated them up in the oven when everyone arrived) and served them with chili. They weren’t as fluffy as the photos in the magazine, but almost all were gone, so I guess they were a hit!

Corn Fritters

Source: Fine Cooking No. 100


  • 1 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 c. stone-ground yellow cornmeal
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. table salt; more for sprinkling
  • 1/2 c. whole milk
  • 1/4 c. sour cream
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 c. fresh corn kernels, coarsely chopped (from about 1 large or 2 small ears of corn) — I used canned corn, drained
  • 1 to 1-1/2 cups vegetable oil

Combine flour, cornmeal, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. In another smaller bowl, whisk the milk, sour cream, and eggs.

Add the egg mixture to the flour and cornmeal mixture, stirring with a rubber spatula until combined. Stir in corn.

Corn Fritters 1

Let the mixture sit for 10-15 minutes, while you heat oil in a skillet (preferably cast iron) over medium heat… Oil should be about 1/2 an inch deep.  (If you need to keep the fritters warm, preheat oven to 200°F.)

When oil is hot (it should sizzle when you drop a bit of batter in the oil), use a tablespoon (or mini-ice cream scoop) to drop balls of batter in the oil. Be sure not to overcrowd the pan – Fine Cooking recommends 3-4 fritters at a time, I cooked 5-6 at a time. Stove should be set to medium-low heat so the fritters cook gently. When browned on the bottom (1-2 minutes), flip the fritter over (using a slotted spoon) and cook another 1-2 minutes, again until golden brown.

Corn Fritters 3

Transfer fritters to a wire rack, set over a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and allow to keep warm in the oven while cooking others (I didn’t keep them warm while cooking the others, but heated them up later

Transfer the fritters to a wire rack set over a baking sheet, sprinkle generously with salt, and keep warm in the oven. Continue to cook the remaining batter in small batches, adding more oil as needed to maintain the 1/2-inch depth.

Corn Fritters 4

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Green Beans with Sweet Potatoes & WalnutsThis recipe is from one of my favorite cooking magazines, Fine Cooking (issue no. 82). Other than skipping the recommended 2/3 c. dried cranberries, I followed the recipe pretty closely. I made the recipe ahead, stopping after I boiled the green beans – removed green beans from boiling water and plunged in an ice bath to stop the cooking. Drained, and set aside until just prior to dinner.

  • 2/3 c. (about 3 oz.) dried cranberries
  • 1-1/4 c. fresh orange juice
  • 2/3 c. walnut halves, toasted
  • 3/4 lb. sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 1/4 c. maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp. plus 1/4 c. kosher salt; more as needed
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper; more as needed
  • 1 to 1-1/4 lb. fresh green beans, rinsed well, stem ends trimmed
  • 6 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh sage

If using the cranberries, place cranberries and 1 c. of the orange juice into a bowl. Let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Otherwise, simply let orange juice come to room temperature.

Heat oven to 450. Combine the sweet potatoes, maple syrup, 1/4 cup orange juice, 1/2 tsp. salt, and pepper. Spread on a baking sheet and roast until potatoes are tender, 10-15 minutes.

Boil 4 quarts water and the remaining 1/4 c. salt. When boiling, add green beans, stir, and cook until tender, 4-5 minutes. Drain.

When ready to serve, melt butter in a large skillet (until bubbling but not browned). Add chopped sage. Stir. Allow sage to crisp slightly and season butter. Add green beans. Cook for 2-3 minute. Add sweet potatoes, walnuts, and if desired, cranberries (strained, with juice set aside). Toss and continue cooking for another few minutes.  Add remaining 1 c. orange juice (or remaining juice from strained cranberries) and cook until most of the juice has evaporated, about 1 minutes.

Serve immediately.

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Sunday Supper Movement