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Author Archives: nlhartie

Farmer’s Market Tomato Salad & How to Prepare Raw Red Onions

tomato salad
Farmer’s Market Tomato Salad

I like red, raw onions, but not the way I usually find them in dishes—in chunks or thick slices—because the flavor is overpowering (and gives me heartburn, to boot). Instead, I slice them on the thinnest blade on my mandolin, squeeze out the excess water and chop a bit.

(As the photograph makes clear, mine is a cheap plastic one I probably bought on Amazon for about $10. But it works great! If you don’t have a mandolin, do yourself a favor and get one, as you will use it a lot and it slices vegetables so easily and quickly!)  Then I add it to many of my summer salads like potato, tomato, chicken and more. Prepared like this, you don’t taste the onion separately; it melds in with the dish.


This is the simplest tomato salad. You can add fresh mozzarella or feta cheese, basil, and Greek olives. Tomatoes are best when not refrigerated, so the key to this salad is to prepare just before you eat and serve it at room temperature. I use balsamic vinegar to give it a bit of added sweetness and it also helps bring out the tomato flavor. I make this dish when tomatoes are in season and can be purchased at the farmer’s markets, because locally grown are infinitesimally better than commercial hot house varieties.

Farmer’s Market Tomato Salad

Grape tomatoes (or any other) cut in half

Red onion, sliced thin on a mandolin

Splash of balsamic vinegar

Splash of extra virgin olive oil

Salt & pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients and serve at room temperature.

Tomorrow I’ll post my dinner from the other night, which was roasted chicken with this tomato salad, zucchini “pasta” and the scapes and basil pesto I posted last week.

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Did You Know You Need Fat to Absorb the Nutrients in Veggies?

If you eat your salad with a non-fat dressing and with no added fat like cheese, your body will not absorb all the nutrients in the vegetables you are eating.

Vegetables containing lycopene and beta-carotene, known as carotenoids, have been shown to help prevent heart disease and cancer, need fat to be absorbed into the body.

Dietary fats are also an important nutritional factor not only because your body needs them for building healthy cells and to produce hormones, but fat is also required for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. This includes vitamins A, D, E, and K, all of which your body needs to perform important functions.

You don’t need large amounts of fat to absorb the nutrients in vegetables, however. Use healthy extra virgin olive oil as a base for your dressing, some avocado or cheese (I like to sprinkle a bit of parmesan on my salad for extra flavor.)

Speaking of salad dressings, most commercial dressings are nasty and the no-fat ones are especially bad. Most commercial dressings contain inferior oils, chemicals, artificial sweeteners and sugars. Virtually all list the number one ingredient as water, and this includes expensive, organic varieties. Low or no fat dressings are loaded with artificial and natural sweeteners. Basically, buying prepared gives you a vastly inferior product that is way more money than making your own dressing.

So, no surprise that I always make my own dressing and it takes only minutes with my small food processor. I have a couple of Oxo salad dressing containers

Oxo Salad Dressing Containers

to store them and am always making different recipes, so I am never bored. Because there is acid and salt in the dressings, they can last for weeks.

I do have some formal salad dressings, like Caesar, but most are based on the classic vinaigrette and I just make whatever I am in the mood for. You need oil—my staple is extra virgin olive oil, but I use walnut for light dressings. You want to stock different vinegars, as they are one of the main flavors. I use unfiltered organic cider, balsamic, rice, red, and white or sherry. Trader Joe’s Orange Muscat Champagne Vinegar is nice and lemon and limes. You will want Dijon mustard, salt and pepper. Fresh garlic. Other ingredients you can use are fresh or dried herbs like parsley, chives and dill. Hard cooked egg, hot sauces, capers. You can try pickle juice and pickles, soy sauce, sesame oil, anchovy paste or anchovies, Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, sour cream, crème fraiche, avocado, tomato paste, spinach and shallots.

Variety of oils and vinegars

If you like prepared dressings, read the ingredients and try to copy it, using the better ingredients listed here. I am pretty sure yours will be far better and healthier, too boot!

The basic vinaigrette is 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar, salt and pepper. I usually add Dijon mustard. The nice part about mustard is that when you mix it in, it emulsifies the ingredients—meaning the dressing stays mixed.  I usually add a clove of garlic. After that, I either keep it simple or add items from the list, above.

I eat salads every day for lunch and usually have chicken, but sometimes I have shrimp or beans. I usually have the protein the same way for the week and make it on Monday. If I have plain chicken, any dressing will work, but if I make spicy blackened chicken, for example, I’ll want something creamy, like Caesar. I just mix it up and have been eating salad almost every day for years and have not gotten bored yet. (I do take breaks on the weekends.)

One thing that makes me crazy (I’ll admit when it comes to food, the list is long…) is when I order a salad and the dressing comes on the side because then I must attempt to dress the salad evenly. It is almost impossible to do with a fork, and the upshot are under and overdressed bites.

I strongly recommend using a flat-bottomed bowl and a good pair of tongs or salad “hands” to get the job of an evenly coated salad done right.

Salad Bowl and “Hands”

Because homemade dressing doesn’t have water as the first ingredient, start with the smallest amount you think you’ll need. Toss and taste. Add accordingly. Do this and you won’t be using a lot of dressing and each bite will be perfect.

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Low Carb Burger, Mushrooms and Asparagus Dinner

Burger, Mushrooms and Asparagus Dinner

I love to eat burgers with buns; crusty ciabatta and Eli’s soft brioche rolls are my favorites. However, a burger without a bun is actually pretty good, too. The key is good meat. I use either free range beef or buffalo. When meat is free range, it has more flavor and is leaner than animals raised in confinement.

Burger with mushrooms and asparagus

Some of the meals I cook have lots of ingredients; but not this burger dinner—it is simple and delicious.  Change things up with caramelized onions instead of mushrooms (or use both) or add tomato slices, raw onion and lettuce or any other toppings you enjoy.

If you would prefer to eat the burger with your hands, try steaming collard greens and using them as the “bun,” which is a trick I learned from the restaurant, Bareburger. 

If you like ketchup, but want to avoid the sugar, just mix some concentrated tomato paste with a bit of white or cider vinegar and viola—instant low carb ketchup!

Burger, Mushrooms and Asparagus

Serves 4

1 ½ pounds beef or buffalo, divided into 4 burgers

1 pound shitake and oyster mushrooms, coarsely chopped

2 pounds asparagus, tough ends removed

Handful pine nuts

3 ounces goat cheese

Extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper

Grill or pan-fry on a cast iron pan burgers until done to your liking. In extra virgin olive oil, sauté mushrooms. I used shitake and oyster, but portabella, cremini or plain white mushrooms are fine, too.

Asparagus with goat cheese and pine nuts

On medium to low, sauté pine nuts in a tablespoon of butter until golden brown. Remove nuts. Put asparagus in pan and cover with water; cook until done, about 5 minutes. Drain well and mix with nuts. Add a couple ounces of goat cheese, and salt and pepper.

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Low Carb Fish “Tacos” Salad

I love fish tacos, but thought I could’nt eat them on my low carb diet, then realized all I needed to do was omit the tacos and viola! I simply increased the veggies and served the fish on top of the greens. The richness, textures and flavors of this dish are so satisfying that I don’t miss the tacos at all!

Fish “Taco” Salad

I usually use Mahi Mahi or Swordfish, but didn’t like the Mahi I saw and don’t eat swordfish too often because it has a lot of mercury, so I went with Trader Joe’s Dover Sole and it was delicious. Really, any fish or shellfish you like is fine. I live in a NYC apartment and can’t grill, but if you can, grilled fish or shellfish is my favorite way to eat fish tacos.


Fish “Taco” Salad

Serves Four

1 1/2 pounds fish

Either grill fish, saute it in a pan with a little olive oil or bake at 375 degrees; coat with a little olive oil, salt and peper and cook about 9 minutes.



Small red cabbage, sliced thin on a mandolin or food processor

1 medium red onion, sliced on thinnest blade on a mandolin

Romaine, chopped

1 avocado, small chunks

Handful grape tomatoes, cut in half

2 Kirby cucumbers, sliced  on mandolin/food processor

4 radishes, sliced on mandolin/food processor

Chipotle Pepper Sauce

1/2 cup sour cream / greek yogurt/crème fraiche

Handful cilantro

1/2 cup mayo (You could omit and use only sour cream)

1 canned adobe chipotle pepper with sauce (freeze remaining)

1 small garlic clove

Zest of one lime and juice

2 Tablespoons of tomatoes


Zip all ingredients together with a blender

Toss salad with some pepper sauce to evenly coat. Add more sauce to cooked fish.

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Scapes Garlic and Basil Pesto

If you are lucky to get your hands on some scapes garlic, you can make a nice batch of pesto and freeze in containers or zip lock bags. Scapes are garlic and strong, so you may want to cut the strong flavor with basil, cilantro or parsley. I just made a batch with basil. If you are freezing, omit the parmesan until you are ready to use it.

You may make a much bigger batch than this recipe and freeze in portions. Thicken or thin pesto with more or less oil.

Scapes garlic

Look for scapes at your farmer’s market and CSA. Because they have gotten so popular, you might find them at your grocery store; I got these at Whole Foods.


Scapes Garlic and Basil Pesto

1 cup or about ½ pound scapes, cut into chunks

1 medium bunch basil, stems removed

½ cup Extra virgin olive oil

½ cup pine nuts, toasted until lightly browned at 350 for about 5 minutes

¼ cup grated parmesan

Salt and pepper to taste

Put all ingredients into a food processor and process until smooth. I will be using some of this on roasted bone-in chicken beast next week. Pesto goes with lots of things, including pasta, fish, chicken and vegetables. It freezes beautifully!



Low Carb, Low Fat Diet

I got tired of people looking at my trim dogs and then looking at overweight me, and concluded I had to go on their diet. “It looks like you take better care of your dogs than yourself,” was a comment from an elderly woman in my apartment building; she had a point. 

My seven year old Pugs, Cobi and Ferdi, eat low fat proteins, bone stock and vegetables, which is the recommended diet from the integrative vet they go to called Smith Ridge in South Salem, New York. They actually got too thin and now get a little potato added to their diets. So my Pugs are fit and healthy and have great coats—what could I lose by eating what they eat?

This past January, I also went to a new doctor for my annual exam. My bloodwork showed that I was pre-diabetic; the year before showed the same thing. My blood pressure is also too high and I am on meds and hate that. That time, one of his assistants told be to “cut down” on high carbs, but I didn’t listen.

However, this year was different. A good friend of mine (who was not overweight) had been showing signs of diabetes and she made changes in her diet and was feeling better. Ferdi, my Pug, has diabetes and it sucks. It finally dawned on me that if I didn’t make changes—cut the high carb foods and lose weight—I would eventually get diabetes.

With my friend coaching me, I made the changes in my diet in late January, and have been eating a low fat, low carb diet ever since. I have always exercised, but have increased the intensity on that, too. I am losing weight, but slowly.

BTW…I was weighed at my annual at my gynecologist in April and got depressed over how little weight I had lost and told him so. He said that people who lose weight quickly will gain it back and slow is better. That, for most people, just maintaining weight as you get older is difficult. He said to expect my goal to take a good year to accomplish. He made me feel better.

Writing this in July, there is definite weight loss. Now, I know for many people, the scale plays a major part, but I don’t want to know. Been there and constant weighing myself makes me crazy and obsessive. My clothes have gotten too big; I am losing weight.

This blog will be all about delicious, healthy, low carb, low fat recipes. Follow me on my Facebook page or sign up for my newsletter  (scroll to bottom of page) and enjoy! Conversely, if you want to be inspired by good (and mostly easy and fast to make) dishes, but are into carbs, just add some pasta, bread, rice or whatnot and enjoy.  Depending on my mood, I’ll write about my experiences with food. Cooking tips…decorating…whatever I feel like writing about.  I hope to get feedback, questions and your thoughts.  If you like to eat, I am pretty sure you’ll like my recipes.

Cioppino: a Bowl of Seafood Deliciousness!

Cioppino is a seafood soup that Italians traditionally made when they had leftovers they wanted to use. I love this dish because it is so flavorful, healthy and it takes minutes to make.

Cioppino seafood soup

I omit the shrimp, as my husband is allergic. I always make enough for two nights and cook half the scallops each night so the second night they aren’t overcooked.

You can also use other firm fish for Cioppino, like cod, catfish or flounder.

Because I am eating low carb, I add the zucchini “pasta” so the sauce isn’t wasted. If you are eating high carbs, I recommend a crusty bread for dunking!


Serves 4

1 lb scallops and shrimp (either or both)

2 cans clams, reserve juice

½ head of garlic, minced

1 cup dry white wine

1 large (28 ounce) can whole tomatoes or diced

1 teaspoon oregano

2 bay leaves

Salt  & pepper

Handful parsley, chopped

Baby spinach and zucchini “pasta”, optional

Sauté garlic on medium low for a few minutes, not allowing it to brown.  Add clam juice and reduce to about half.  Add wine, tomatoes and spices and cook 5 minutes.  Add shrimp and scallops and cook 3 minutes or until done. Add clams, spinach, and zucchini, allowing spinach to just wilt. Remove from heat and add parsley.


Lentil Salad With Roasted Beets, Haricot Verts and Bacon

I often make dinner salads in warm weather and this one is very tasty.  Since I eat a low carb diet, I don’t add anything else, but a crusty bread (heated, of course) would be a good addition. If you don’t want to use haricot verts (French string beans) simply increase the amount of greens for the salad.

Unlike other beans, dried lentils cook in 30 minutes or less with no soaking necessary and come in a variety of colors.  Opt for the dried lentils for better flavor, price and variety.

Bacon gives nice flavor, but is optional. I buy my bacon from Hemlock Hill Farm in Cortlandt Manor, NY; the animals are pasture raised and humanly treated–you can see them them you visit. The bacon is the best I’ve ever had.

Lentil Salad With Roasted Beets, Haricot Verts and Bacon

Serves 4 as a main course



4 small beets, wrapped in foil and baked in the oven or toaster oven at 400 degrees until done, about an hour. Peel and cut into chunks and add a bit of dressing when they are still warm.

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

½ teaspoon salt

4-8 slices (4 ounces) bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces and cooked (optional)

1 cup raw brown or green lentils

2 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled

1 bay leaf

1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, more to taste

½ teaspoon black pepper

Chopped greens, including radicchio

1 lb haricot verts, roasted in a single layer at 400 degrees with olive oil, salt and pepper, about a half hour, until a bit wrinkled and dark.

Sea salt and black pepper, to taste


¼ cup aged white or sherry vinegar

1 teaspoons Dijon mustard

Salt & pepper to taste

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

In a small bowl, whisk together vinegar, mustard and salt. Then whisk in olive oil. Or put all ingredients into a small food processor.

In a medium pot, combine lentils, 4 cups water, garlic,  rosemary, salt and pepper and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes, until lentils are tender.

Drain lentils and discard bay leaf; keep or discard garlic as you like. Toss lentils and beans with half of the sherry vinaigrette while still warm.

Toss greens with enough of remaining vinaigrette to lightly coat it and arrange it on a platter. Combine lentils, bacon and roasted vegetables, adding more of the vinaigrette to taste; spoon mixture on top of greens.

Turkey loaf , Asparagus and Zucchini “Pasta”

Turkey loaf with goat cheese, farm fresh asparagus from the North Fork on LI and zucchini “pasta”.

My husband and I recently spent a week on the North Fork on Long Island and we stopped at a local farm for asparagus. It was the best I’ve ever had, and we picked up three bunches on our way bck to the City.

I like to experiment with meatloafs and make them with ingredients based on other meals. This turkey meatloaf is borrowed from a chicken dish I make with goat cheese and artichokes.

Turkey Loaf

Serves 4; Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1 lb Ground turkey

1/2 cup Scallions

1/4 cup milk

1/2 cup Panko

1 egg

1-2 tablespoons worcheshire

Salt & pepper

Handful parsley, chopped

½ teaspoon gelatin

3 ounces goat cheese

Combine wet ingredients and gelatin and let sit a few minutes. Combine remaining ingredients. Spray oil in an ovenproof casserole or pan and place mixture in pan. Bake for 30 minutes. Test for doneness by cutting open and seeing that juices run clear.


Good asparagus needs nothing more thana bit of butter, salt and pepper.


S &P


Cut off tough ends or snap off. Place in a saute pan with enough water to just cover and palce lid on top on high; when boiling, lower heat. Boil about 3 minutes and test for doneness. Drain water and on medium/low heat, add a pat of butter, salt and pepper. Stir until any remaing water evaporates.

Zucchini “Pasta”

2-3 zucchini

Touch of extra virgin olive oil, salt & pepper

With a spiralizer, make pasta. Toss seeded part of zucchini. In a suacepan, on medium/high, heat a bit of oil and add zucchini. You may add a talespoon or so of water to make zucchini limp.



Preview of Newest Fiber Art Ball!

fiber felted art ball
Untitled image untouched of fiber felted ball

I am currently working on creating finished images from my latest felted fiber art ball. This ball took about 8 months to complete, and is about 10″ round. While working on it, I got my house ready to sell. If you have ever prepared to sell and move, you know what a stressful and seemingly never ending period that can be. Having my fiber ball to work on while I was getting my stuff in order was my calm space and respite.  The house sold a couple months ago and I am now living full time in Manhattan.

The first image is one section of the fiber art ball and is untouched. I use a Better Light Digital camera which scans at a super high resolution, thus allowing tons of detail when magnified. To get an idea of the resolution, images for the web are 72 dpi; for photographs in printed books, 300 dpi. This image was scanned at 1200 dpi! Scanning at such a high resolution keeps the smallest details sharp when magnified.  Scroll down to see as photographs are cropped and further magnified. Note the cool details of the wool fibers that emerge!

Felted fiber art ball cropped

Felt Wool Ball closer up

The next image is of one section taken from the first image and it has been cropped. Can you see from which section it was taken?

The next photo is another crop and further magnification.

Felted fiber art ball cropped more

Finally, this cropped photograph is about 1/2″ big on the actual fiber art ball. You can now see the fibers of the wool very clearly. (Magnify much more than this and all you will see is color and then finally, pixels.

felted fiber art ball
Cropped and magnified felted fiber ball

I have just started working on manipulating the photographs from this ball. If you would like to be notified of any updates and when the photographs will be ready, please sign up for my newsletter: (At the bottom of the page.)

My current work can also be accessed from the Home page.