Spring is here! And its time to think of lighter dishes with fresher ingredients as the produce becomes available. Try these nice easy to make dishes.

Spring is here! And its time to think of lighter dishes with fresher ingredients as the produce becomes available. Try these nice easy to make dishes.



Bibb Lettuce Salad with Cranberries and Walnuts

1 head Bibb lettuce or spring greens, torn into bite size pieces, torn into bite size pieces

1 ripe but firm avocado, peeled, pitted and sliced

12 strawberries, hulled and sliced

cup chopped toasted pecans

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 tablespoons EVOO, olive oil

1 tablespoon honey or more to taste

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

In a bowl whisk together sugar, olive oil, honey, vinegar and lemon juice; cover and refrigerate.

In a salad bowl place lettuce pieces and top with sliced avocado and sliced strawberries. Drizzle dressing over the salad and refrigerate for up to 1-2 hours or serve immediately.


Oven Baked Breaded Cod Fillets

Serves 4

4 6-8 ounce cod fillets

1 cup flavored bread crumbs

2 cloves garlic, minced then smashed

1 lemon, zested, reserve lemon juice

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Brush olive oil in the bottom of a baking dish, set aside.

Place flavored bread crumbs in a pie dish, stir in smashed garlic and lemon zest. Brush the top of each cod fillet with olive oil and dip into bread crumb mixture, coating the top side. Place in prepared baking dish, crust side facing up. Roast in oven until firm to touch, about 12-15 minutes. Drizzle fresh lemon juice over cooked fillets, if desired.


Roasted Cauliflower

Serves 4-6

1 head cauliflower, about 6 cups florets, cut no larger than 1-inch

4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

6 tablespoons olive oil

1 small sweet onion, chopped

2 tablespoons dried parsley flakes

Salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place oven rack in top third of oven.

In a large bowl combine together cauliflower florets, onion, garlic slices, olive oil, salt and pepper, to taste. Place in a rimmed baking sheet, spreading in a single layer. Roast cauliflower until just tender and beginning to brown on the edges, about 15-18 minutes. Sprinkle and toss with parsley flakes.


Marsala Pork Chops

Serves 4-6

6 4-ounce boneless pork loin chops

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1/3 cup all-purpose flour

Pinch of fresh ground black pepper

2 cups white button mushrooms, sliced

1 small sweet onion chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 slices smoked bacon, cut into half inch pieces

1 cup Marsala wine or chicken broth

5 teaspoons cornstarch

2/3 cup chicken broth

In a plastic zippered bag mix together flour and black pepper. Place pork chops, 2 at a time in the bag, toss to coat and repeat this with last 4-chops. Shake off any excess flour.

In a large skillet heat oil over medium heat. Add pork chops and cook 4-5 minutes on each side or until browned and cooked through. Remove from pan and keep warm.

In the same skillet, add mushrooms, onion, and bacon to the drippings, cook and stir occasionally until mushrooms are tender. Add garlic and cook for 1-minute.

Add Marsala wine, and increase heat to medium high. Cook, stirring to loosen browned bits from pan.

In a bowl, stir together cornstarch and chicken broth until smooth; add to skillet. Bring to a boil, cook and stir for 2-minutes or until slightly thickened. Serve over pork chops.


Oatmeal and Apricot Cookies

2 sticks butter, softened

1 cup light brown sugar, packed

cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs, room temperature

1 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

3 cups old-fashioned cooking oats, uncooked

1 cup dried apricots, chopped

cup dried cranberries

cup chopped pecans or walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl with an electric mixer beat butter and both sugars on medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes.

On low speed beat in eggs, flour, baking soda, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and pinch of salt until just blended.

Stir in oats, apricots, cranberries, and pecans.

Drop dough by rounded tablespoons, 2-inches apart, onto 2-ungreased large cookie pans. Bake until tops are golden about 13-15 minutes, rotating pans between upper and lower oven racks halfway through baking. Transfer cookies to wire racks to cook. Repeat with remaining dough if necessary.

Store cookies in air tight container for up to 1-week or in a zip-tight plastic bag and freeze up to 3 months.


Hope Cusick has won awards at the North Carolina Strawberry Festival in 2012; The North Carolina Blueberry Festival, winning first place for her Blueberry Cheese Danish Pastry in 2012, and placing on her blueberry spinach salad and dressing; and has won various other contest awards for her blueberry cheesecake, breads, cookies, brownies and jams. She resides in Hampstead.