Cucumber Salad with Chickpeas and Peppers

Cucumber Salad with Chickpeas and Peppers

Here’s a quick and easy dish, inspired by my moms cucumber salad. This was a summer staple in my house growing up. It was such a simple salad—cucumbers very thinly sliced, combined with a bit of red onion, white vinegar and sour cream. She finished it off with lots of salt and pepper. The salt helps release the liquid from the cucumber, adding that extra liquid to the sour cream dressing.

The other day I was rummaging around the kitchen looking for something for us to eat. I had one cucumber and one pepper in the fridge. I decided to take a spin on my mom’s salad, adding the red pepper to her classic salad and tossing in some chickpeas. The chickpeas add a bit more substance and the red pepper is a great addition of color. The sour cream and vinegar make a creamy, tangy dressing. I just LOVE this salad. It’s the perfect refreshment on the hot summer days, and you don’t have to feel guilty eating as much as you want! Have a ranch seasoning packet on hand? Try adding some as your seasoning for a spin! Fresh dill would be a great addition as well.

Cucumber Salad with Chickpeas and Peppers
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4–6
  • One large Hothouse or English Cucumber, thinly sliced (the thinner the better)
  • ½ large red bell pepper, sliced into 2 inch pieces
  • 1-15.5 oz can of Chickpeas (Garbanzo), drained and rinsed
  • ¼ cup red onion, minced
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • dash of white vinegar or lemon to taste
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Place sour cream, vinegar, salt and pepper in a bowl, and stir vigorously until the sour cream is soft. Combine vegetables with sour cream mixture. Stir vigorously to fully incorporate. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve.


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Ragu Bolognese with Pappardelle

I can’t believe it’s already August! July was packed with so many events that I took the entire month off from blogging (not from cooking though). I still haven’t finished the wedding thank you’s, and there is still plenty of work to be done around the house, but that’s always the case. Looking back at what I’ve cooked these past few weeks, I’ve realized that even in the dead of summer, my husband and I can’t get enough of our pasta. I thought to myself, oh I need to change my diet, but you know what…I’ve decided to just go with it. I like pasta…I eat carbs…I complain I need to exercise more…it’s an endless cycle, but I’m happy. That’s what matters right?

So…ragu is what exactly? Ragu is meat-based sauce. It’s made in a variety of ways, and everyone interprets it differently, but where you’re from is also a factor. I’m not usually into meat sauce, but I decided to whip out my Molto Italiano cookbook, by Mario Batali, which looks like it was used to make about 25 ransom notes (when I ordered this pre-used book from Amazon, they sent it to me with a pages cut out, words cut out…it was a mess!). There was Ragu Bolognese. I read on to discover that while ragu is interpreted differently  throughout Italy, Bolognese is the way it’s made in Bologna. Even there people argue about the right way to make it. It’s agreed that Bolognese is usually comprised of a variety of different types of meat, and milk is a key ingredient. What’s interesting is that tomatoes are not actually necessary. Prosciutto or pancetta (or both) is usually incorporated, as well as the traditional trifecta of vegetables: celery, carrots, and onion. I followed the recipe almost to a tee, and the results were life-changing. I will definitely be making Ragu Bolognese on a regular basis. The vegetables really come through in the sauce, and it’s not smothered in tomato sauce, which I feel is typical of a lot of Italian-American interpretations. Here I’ve paired it with pappardelle, but I’ve also made this with orecchiette—both yummy. Use this ragu in lasagna or over rice. You can even use it to stuff zucchinis or peppers. Please feel free to use any collection of meats in your Ragu Bolognese. You can even buy the meatloaf blend of ground meat (pork, beef, and veal) in the supermarket!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Ragu Bolognese with Pappardelle
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4-6
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • ¼ cup carrots, diced (about 1 carrot or 5 baby carrots)
  • 2 ribs celery, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, diced
  • 4 oz prosciutto, diced
  • ½ pound ground pork
  • ½ pound lean ground beef
  • ½ cup white wine
  • ½ cup whole milk (or any combination of cream, light milk, half and half, etc)
  • 15 ounces of tomato puree
  • ½ tsp of fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 pound of pappardelle, fresh or dried
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  1. Coat a large saute pan with extra-virgin olive oil. On medium heat, saute onions, carrots, celery and garlic until softened but not browned.
  2. Turn the heat up to high, and add beef and prosciutto. Stirring occasionally, saute until browned.
  3. Add white wine, milk, tomato puree, and thyme, making sure to scrape the bits off the bottom of the pan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer covered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  4. While simmering, bring a large pot of water to a boil, then season with salt generously. Right before the sauce is ready, add the pappardelle, and cook according to package.
  5. Transfer the cooked pappardelle to the sauce and toss to coat. Serve it up!


Posted in Beef, Dinner, Ethnic, Italian, Pasta | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Mushroom, Leek and Herb Risotto

I’ve been feeling under the weather lately. I left work early on Friday to sleep all night and empty an entire box of tissues while popping decongestants like candy—not a fun way to spend the weekend. I’m feeling much better now (although still not 100%), and I finally got around to some cooking. As my husband says, when I’m sick he starves hah. I’m not one of those chicken soup type people when I’m sick. My husband looooooves chicken soup, and tried to make me eat it all weekend! Nay I say. The first meal I cooked after being sick for a few days was going to be hot comfort food served in a bowl, but not soup. I’m talking a big bowl of hot risotto. I even stood on the loooong line at Trader Joe’s to get all my ingredients—that’s how much I needed that risotto.

If you don’t know what risotto is, you are missing out. It simple really—arborio rice cooked slowly by adding flavorful broth slowly. The texture is chewy and gooey. That might seem like the wrong word, but the result of cooking the rice slowly really creates a yummy in my tummy glue that binds the rice and ingredients together. Once you have the technique down, you can create so many varieties of this dish using tons of different ingredients—parmesan, mushrooms, lemons, herbs, pumpkin, pesto, the list goes on. It’s also a great vegetarian dish if you use vegetable stock.

I decided to go with a mushroom, leek, and herb risotto—using a bit of wine, chicken stock and vegetable stock (I ran out of chicken stock) to flavor and cook the rice. I wanted to use shitakes and creminis but the shitakes were looking a bit sad at the market. I went with button and cremini mushrooms, but you can use any combination you want. No leeks? No problem, substitute sweet onion or shallots. You can also use any combination of herbs you like. Fresh thyme is one of my new favorite things to use in the kitchen. It’s so fun to pull the leaves off the stem (grab the stem at the bottom and gently push up along the stem, knocking off the leaves). Here I use thyme, sage and parsley. Make sure you use arborio rice, regular long-grain rice won’t give you the same result! On day 1, I served this with some sautéed chicken cutlets, day 2 I served it alone. Try serving with a salad or some fish if you’d like. If you have a lot of leftovers, grab a handful of risotto, flatten into a patty (sneak in a piece of mozzarella or swiss), dip in egg, coat in breadcrumbs, and pan fry for some risotto fritters!

Here is the risotto after half of the stock was incorporated.

Here is the risotto after all the liquid was incorporated.

Mushroom, Leek and Herb Risotto
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4–6
  • 1 cup leeks, diced— trim tough green leaves and wash thoroughly, slice lengthwise then chop
  • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms diced
  • 8 ounces button mushrooms (I I like to dice most of them and then slice a few so you can clearly see it's a mushroom risotto)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1½ cups arborio rice
  • ¾ cup white wine (I used a pinot grigio)
  • 7 cups low-sodium chicken stock, or vegetable stock (or both!)
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon fresh sage, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • extra-virgin olive oil (or butter)
  • salt
  • pepper
  1. Place your stock in a separate pot on low heat. Keep hot while you start the risotto. Be sure not to let it boil or else you will evaporate off a lot of the stock in the process.
  2. In a dutch oven or large sauté pan on medium heat, coat with olive oil and sauté the leeks and garlic until softened.
  3. Add the mushrooms, salt and pepper to taste, and sauté until softened.
  4. Add the arborio rice, and toss around, toasting the rice and fully incorporating into the veggies. Do this for 2–3 minutes.
  5. Add the wine, and continuously stir until the liquid is absorbed. Add a ladle full of the hot stock to the risotto. Stir continuously until the liquid is absorbed. Add another ladle, and continue the process until all the stock is incorporated. This will take about 20 minutes. Make sure to continuously, and I mean continuously, stir the pot. Your arm may start to hurt, but it's a good workout!! Don't add any more liquid until the liquid already in there is fully incorporated. The risotto will thicken the more liquid you add and the more you stir.
  6. Once all the stock is absorbed, add the herbs and butter. Check seasoning and adjust if necessary. Serve it up!


Posted in Dinner, Leeks, Mushrooms, Rice | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Shrimp Fra Diavolo

Oh seafood, it’s one of my favorites. One of the reasons I love it so is because it’s usually super fast to cook, and can be pretty effortless to prepare. I stock bags of frozen shrimp in my fridge for quick and easy, and shall I say, pretty impressive meals (for some reason I feel like people are always impressed when you serve up a plate of sautéed shrimp versus chicken). Thank the good lord I was blessed with a husband who loves seafood. My husband (the half italian he is) always wants his shrimp with pasta—not any pasta, but his beloved linguine. Oh, and did I mention he loves sauce. I think he could eat pasta with tomato sauce everyday. It’s definitely one of the meals he asks me to make on a pretty regular basis.

Shrimp Fra Diavolo is a great recipe to have on hand, when you want to (let’s quote Emeril here) “kick it up a notch”—fancy seafood pasta, with a literal kick of spicy marinara. I like mine really hot (makes that glass of white zinfandel go down like water), and kinda of sweet (hence the addition of brown sugar). The sugar also helps with the acidity of the tomato (especially if you’re making tomato sauce from really fresh tomatoes). Feel free to substitute your own sauce recipe here too. One thing you must not forget—finish cooking the pasta in the sauce! I don’t even drain the pasta, I just scoop it from the water right into my sauce pot. Any extra starchy water that carries over will only help thicken the sauce. My wine choice here is white zinfandel…the sweetness is a great companion to the spice factor, and every single bite makes me want another sip (or two) and vice-versa.

Want to change it up a bit? Try adding a scoop of mascarpone cheese or a swirl of cream or half and half to the sauce before adding in the pasta.

This recipe calls for 1 1/2 pounds of shrimp, but if you’re like me you buy one of two pound bags. Put your 1 1/2 pounds of shrimp to the side, salt and pepper the extra, and sauté in the pan you’re going to use for the meal before you start making the Fra Diavolo. Take them out and chill them in the fridge overnight. Toss them in your salad with some avocados for lunch the next day, or chop them up and add them to some chopped celery, onion and mayo for a quick shrimp salad. Double-duty!

Shrimp Fra Diavolo
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: about 6
  • 4–5 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ large onion, finely diced (yellow or spanish onion)
  • 1-28 ounce can crushed tomatoes (preferably San Marzano tomatoes)
  • ½–1½ teaspoons crushed red pepper depending on how hot you like it (I like it hot hot hot, so I go with the 1 1/12)
  • A few basil leaves, and handful of fresh parsley, chopped (about 4 tablespoons total)
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1½ tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1½ pounds raw, peeled and deveined shrimp, tail's off (if using frozen, fully defrost first)
  • 1 pound linguine
  • salt
  • pepper
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  1. Coat a deep saute pan with extra-virgin olive oil.
  2. On medium-high heat, saute the garlic and onion until softened.
  3. Add crushed tomatoes, crushed red pepper, oregano, brown sugar, and salt and pepper to taste. When it comes to a boil, lower heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. While the sauce is cooking, bring a large pot of heavily salted water to a boil, and cook pasta according to package. Make sure to cook to al dente.
  5. After the sauce has simmered for 15 minutes, add the shrimp, stir, and let them poach in the sauce for about 5 minutes or until they are opaque and fully cooked. Add the fresh herbs and simmer for another 3–5 minutes.
  6. Add the cooked linguine and toss until everything is fully coated. Serve!


Posted in Dinner, Pasta, Seafood, Shrimp, Spicy, Tomatoes | Tagged , , , , , | 5 Comments

Cheesy Potato and Sausage Breakfast Casserole

It seems that everyone really enjoyed my last post. The amount of interest and pinning of my Blueberry Velvet cake has been overwhelming and exciting! I think it’s safe to say that we all love our dessert. Now let’s move on to my next favorite meal of the day…breakfast! I don’t enjoy a nice homemade breakfast too often (mostly because I like to sleep in on the weekends, and I’m always running late on the weekdays), but I love love love breakfast breakfast—especially brown sugar or maple sausage. I like mine a little overcooked and crispy. Together with the soft, creamy golden potatoes, this casserole is such a winner. You can even have this for dinner…breakfast for dinner, yum. Try substituting bacon or turkey sausage, or adding some green onions, peppers, or mushrooms for some variety. Just serve the whole casserole on the table for everyone to “oooh and ahhhh” over.

Cheesy Potato and Sausage Breakfast Casserole
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
  • 1-12oz package of brown sugar and honey breakfast sausage links (preferably Johnsonville)
  • About 2½ pounds yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1½ cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup light cream
  • salt
  1. Place potatoes in a pot with enough water to fully cover them. Add a good pinch of salt, and bring the water up to a boil. Boil potatoes for 10-12 minutes or until fork tender, but not overcooked. Once cooked, drain and set aside.
  2. Cook sausage according to directions. I like to broil mine, continuously turning them until crispy and browned on all sides. Once cooked, cut into bite-size pieces.
  3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  4. In a baking dish, combine the potatoes, sausage, and 1 cup of cheese.
  5. In a bowl, whisk the egg and cream together. Add to the casserole and mix gently to full coat everything in the egg mixture.
  6. Top with the remaining cheese, and cook for about 15 minutes to melt the cheese, then place under the broiler to brown for about 3 minutes. Make sure not to burn.


Posted in Breakfast, Cheese, Pork, Potatoes, Sausage | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on Cheesy Potato and Sausage Breakfast Casserole

Blueberry Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Why hello!! It’s been too long. I must admit, I’ve had plenty of distractions lately—all of which have kept me from posting. Most of them revolve around me sitting on my you know what, with my eyes peeled to the tv. First there was that 3-day movie event, Hatfields and McCoys, on the History Channel. I know, I know, seems odd huh (well not to the people who really know me), but it starred Kevin Costner for goodness sake! And he’s still looking good for anyone asking 😉 Then there was catching up on Magic City, oh and some really exciting episodes of Deadliest Catch (I’m obsessed with the show). Most recently (and when I say recent, I mean yesterday), I’ve been into Game of Thrones. I meant to post this yesterday, but I started episode one, which turned into me watching 2 episodes, then 3, then 4! Man, I’m a sucker for tv.

Anyway, let’s talk about cake. This isn’t your regular, everyday cake, it’s Blueberry Velvet Cake. Let me tell you how this came about. I went to the supermarket, and blueberries were buy one get one. Being the typical female, I couldn’t pass up on a great deal like that!! A few days went by when I noticed that the blueberries were starting to look sad. I told my husband that I needed to do something with them. “Pie”, I told him. He tells me that he doesn’t want pie. He wants cake. “Like a coffee cake?”. “No”, he says. He wants a vanilla cake with chocolate frosting. Well that doesn’t solve my blueberry issue. “What if I toss the blueberries into the cake?”, I ask him. He hesitantly nods “ok”. At first, I was just going to make a vanilla cake and toss the blueberries in. Then I remembered a post I had seen on Pinterest. It was a blue-colored cake, perhaps ombre? I don’t really remember. Either way, I decide to go more of a red velvet route, coloring the cake blue instead of red and tossing in the 1 1/2 pints of healthy blueberries I had. Typically, a red velvet cake has buttermilk in it, but since I didn’t have any, I used regular 2% milk, and it was still sooo good!

Let me tell you that the result was magical! Think blueberry muffins meet birthday cake….YUMMM. My house smelled of freshly baked blueberry muffins, but the result was much more sinful. The cake was frosted in a cream cheese frosting—think blueberry bagel with cream cheese. I will definitely be making this again!!! Oh, and my husband loved it!! He’s not a big sweets person, so that’s saying something. Did I mention my mom, sister, and my guinea pig office friends loved it too? Try coloring one layer in red for a truly patriotic cake…I’m thinking Fourth of July!!!!

4.8 from 4 reviews
Blueberry Velvet Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Serves: 1 2-tier 9" cake
Adapted from Joy of Baking
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature if possible
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 cup milk, room temperature (feel free to use buttermilk)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1½ pints blueberries
  • Blue Food Coloring (can add a drop of red or yellow to achieve the perfect shade of blue you want
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 8oz package cream cheese, room temperature
  • 3 cups confectioner's sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease 2 9" cake pans with butter or cooking spray. Line with parchment paper, then grease again. Set aside.
  3. In a bowl, combine flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt.
  4. In another bowl, using a hand mixer, beat the butter until light and creamy, about a minute or so.
  5. Slowly add the sugar, and cream (beat with the mixer) until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  6. Add the eggs one at a time, being sure to fully incorporate each egg before adding the next.
  7. Add the vanilla, and fully incorporate.
  8. Add the blue food coloring as you like. I just add some, mix it, and then see if I need to add more. Keep in mind that we still need to add the flour and milk, so color it a little darker than you want it in the end. It will lighten up once we add the remaining ingredients.
  9. Add the flour mixture in 3 parts, alternating with the addition of milk. So you'll add flour, then milk, then flour, then milk, then flour last. Make sure to incorporate each before adding the next.
  10. Mix in the blueberries gently with a spatula.
  11. Divide the batter between the 2 cake pans. Bake for 30–35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the cake comes out clean.
  12. Let the cake completely cool before frosting.
  13. Beat the butter and cream cheese with a hand mixer until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  14. Add the confectioner's sugar slowly and fully incorporate.
  15. Add the vanilla and fully incorporate.
  16. Cut the top of the cakes to level the tops. You want them to be as flat as possible.
  17. Place a dab of frosting in the center of the cake stand. Invert one of the cake pans onto the cake stand. This will help prevent the cake from sliding when you frost it.
  18. Use a little less than half of the frosting in between the layers.
  19. Place the other cake on top. Frost the entire cake as you wish!!
Posted in Blueberry, Cake, Dessert, Fruit | Tagged , , , , | 50 Comments

Garlic Hasselback Potatoes

Well, it’s been a long week. I’m excited for the long weekend!!! Why has it been such a busy week? Well my day job is busy as usual, and cooking for the husband and the 2 cats (well I don’t COOK for the cats) keeps me pretty busy, but I mixed it up this week and threw in a little kickboxing. Well let me tell you…after many many months of being inactive and cooking and eating my way through the days, one hour of punching, kicking, and push-ups has made me almost immovable. As a matter of fact, I’m trying to find a comfortable way to type because holding my arms up while typing on a desk that’s so small I can’t rest my elbows on it is painful. Trying to lift my legs so I can rest my feet on the edge of the desk while typing is painful. Heck, sneezing and laughing is painful! All of this has absolutely nothing to do with Hasselback potatoes, but I thought you would all find some humor in my condition.

So, about those Hasselback potatoes. I’m sure you’ve all seen plenty of pictures on Pinterest of gorgeous sliced but still whole potatoes. I know I have, and it’s what inspired me to learn more about them. It seems they are named after the restaurant they originated in Sweden. The name simply refers to the way the potato is prepared for roasting—with a series of slices, making sure to not cut all the way through. What you get is an accordion or slinky-type effect. Fancy, Schmancy! At that point, you can add whatever you’d like, and roast away!! After the roasting you can top with even more items. Sure, I was tempted to go crazy with toppings—I mean the possibilities are endless—shredded cheese, lemon, herbs, breadcrumbs, garlic, butter, vinaigrette, sour cream, bacon, ham, sausage, spinach….the list goes on! I stayed simple here, garlic, olive oil, and coarse sea salt (I am trying to watch my girlish figure). These are really quite simple to prepare, and they make a fantastic presentation. Serve these at your next dinner party, and your friends will surely be impressed. You know what else is great about these? The fact that we leave the skin on is a healthy option since the skin has plenty of vitamins, and we all love vitamins right? Oh, and you know what else??? They’re fun to eat since you can grab each slice and eat them all like potato chips.  My husband and I surely enjoyed eating them this way.

I stayed real simple with this dinner, completing the meal with grilled rib eye steaks (I see you meatlovers drooling over that medium rare beef and natural au jus in the shot) and lemon green beans (that’s right, I sneaked in my new favorite ingredient) Let me say that the entire meal was great! The chunky, crunchy bits of sea salt on the potatoes, the tender steak, and the refreshing lemon zest—mmm. And you know what, there was no butter to be found in this meal! Once again, extra-virgin olive oil saves the day. I only posted the recipe for the Hasselback potatoes, but if you want to try my lemon green beans, just toss your steamed green beans with some garlic salt, lemon zest, and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. For tips on grilling steaks, check out this interesting article I read today on Serious Eats. Enjoy!

Garlic Hasselback Potatoes
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
  • 2 small/medium russet potatoes, washed and scrubbed
  • 2 large garlic cloves, sliced
  • coarse sea salt
  • extra-virgin olive oil
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Starting at one end, cut your potato into very thin slices, about ⅛–1/4 inch thick making sure you don't cut all the way through! Try and go down as far as you can, and if you happen to cut through, just stick it back on! No biggie!
  3. Once you've sliced the potatoes, drizzle with extra-virgin olive and rub around to coat them completely. Try to get the oil in between each slice.
  4. Evenly place the garlic slices between the potato slices.
  5. Sprinkle the potatoes with the coarse salt.
  6. Lay aluminum foil on a baking sheet, and sprinkle some sea salt into 2 little mounds on the foil. Place each potato on top of the mound.
  7. Roast in the over for 1 hour or until tender and crisp.


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Swordfish with Salmoriglio Sauce

So it’s that time of the year again…spring is here, and summer is right around the corner. It’s the time when we start to pull out the summery clothes only to discover we don’t fit into them anymore, or that those muscles we remember last summer are no longer existent. My husband starts to get crazy around this time—pledging to eat almonds (he hates almonds), do Tony Horton videos (P90X!), and get on my case to start making healthy-lifestyle approved meals. “Grilled Chicken” he yells to me—um no. Well don’t get me wrong, I like grilled chicken (actually not the biggest fan), but who wouldn’t get sick of eating grilled chicken and brown rice everyday? I promised him I would start to incorporate some better meal options into our diets (I mean geez I cook homemade dinners for the guy all week long, you’d think that was enough). But seriously, I can make yummy, satisfying, good-for-you meals right? Right? YES!

Not to worry, this blog isn’t turning all health-crazy on you. You’ll probably see a pasta someday soon, and definitely something sugary, buttery, and covered in chocolate, but I’m going to be trying some new things out—at least a few days a week. For this meal, I cut out any unnecessary ingredients, and really relied on good extra-virgin olive oil. It’s packed with the “good fats”. Interestingly, this recipe is a Sicilian-inspired one, and I’m currently using really delicious Sicilian olive oil—Partanna brand to be exact. This oil is really affordable and super flavorful. It really tastes like you spent a ton of money. It’s one of the benefits I enjoy from living in an Italian Queens, NY neighborhood. My Saturdays involve going to the bank, walking to the Italian meat shop, usually ordering an italian hero or some olive loaf to split with the hubby on freshly baked italian bread, and bringing home cases of Italian imported Peach Black Iced Tea. Oh, and when needed, imported olive oil! Ok, ok, enough about my life—back to olive oil. Go and invest in some good, but affordable stuff. Trust me, when you’re only flavoring things like salads and potatoes with olive-oil, it needs to be flavorful and fruity. Another ingredient I’m starting to use more than ever….lemon! I’ve decided that lemon is my go-to, feel good, healthy flavor. That sour, sweet flavor is so refreshing, and just screams summer. I actually just bought a lemon-basil plant…so excited (but let’s get to that later). Combined with some good olive oil=winner, winner, fish dinner.

This Salmoriglio sauce is a Sicilian lemon sauce that’s great on fish, even delicious on potatoes and other veggies. Oh, and did I mention how pretty it is? A few, simple and healthy ingredients is all it takes to dress up simple grilled dishes. I grabbed a piece of swordfish to grill with it, but you can easily use shrimp or other cuts of fish. It’s a realllllly quick meals too, which I know all of you working folks will appreciate. I served this with a nice tomato basil salad (olive-oil, balsamic, basil, salt, pepper), and some smashed yukon gold potatoes with arugula. I never knew how much I LOVED yukon golds. They make the most creamy, velvety mashed potatoes, but since I bathe my mash in cream and butter, I had to go a different route to please the man. Boiled half with the skin on, then smashed with arugula, salt, pepper and a little drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. YUM. When the salmoriglio sauce drenched my potatoes—double yum!

Hope you all enjoy this one—I know I did! And it was all washed down with some nice crispy pinot grigio :)

Swordfish with Salmoriglio Sauce
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2 (or 4)
inspired by Apron and Sneakers
  • 2 (or 4) Swordfish steaks (not to big!!)
  • 1 lemon, juiced plus the zest
  • ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • handful of fresh chopped parsley
  • 2-4 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ tsp dried oregano
  • pinch of crushed red pepper
  • coarse salt
  • fresh ground pepper
  • 2 tablespoons hot water
  1. In a bowl, combine the lemon juice, zest, parsley, garlic, oregano, crushed red pepper, pinch of salt, and pepper.
  2. Gently whisk in the olive oil. Once incorporated, whisk in the hot water, pouring it in slowly.
  3. Marinade the swordfish in the sauce for a few minutes, then place on an oiled grill (outdoor or indoor) until fully cooked, about 8-10 minutes total.
  4. Transfer to a plate and pour additional sauce on top before serving.


Posted in Dinner, Fish, Seafood, Swordfish | Tagged , , , , | 5 Comments

Key Lime Pie

So a coworker of mine was taking a trip to Florida. Not sure how it came up, but she was telling me how much she loved key lime pie. I told her that my old college roommate loved it too, and that I had never made it before. We made a deal. If you brought the limes back from Florida, I would make the pie. What was I getting myself into?? Not only had I never made key lime pie, but I couldn’t even remember that last time I had had it. I think I remember not like it. When you make something with a flavor you’ve never had, it’s hard to tell if you’re making it right. I kept asking my husband to taste the filling—is it supposed to be tart like this?? is it too sour? I had NO idea. I followed the recipe, so I just hoped it tasted great.

When the pie was done, I packed it up along with the whipped cream for the commute to the office the next day. I was nervous to see what everyone thought of my first attempt at this pie. I was especially worried I’d disappoint my friend who was soooo looking forward to it! Well she didn’t wait until after lunch, or even before lunch. She dove right into that pie for breakfast. Not only did she love it, she said it was the best she’d ever had! Now maybe she was trying to raise my self-esteem (which I’m sure she was), but hell, I’ll take it!!! If you don’t have any key limes, don’t worry it can be made with regular limes.


Key Lime Pie
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1 pie
Adapted from Joy of Baking
  • 1½ cups graham crackers, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • pinch of salt
  • 3 large egg yolks, room temperature
  • 1-14oz can of sweetened condensed milk
  • ½ cup key lime juice (you can substitute regular limes)
  • 2 teaspoons key lime zest
  • 1 cup cold heavy whipping cream
  • 3 tablespoons confectioners sugar
  • pinch of vanilla
  • pinch of cream of tartar
  1. First, you'll need to make the crust. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine the graham crackers, sugar, butter, and salt together in a bowl. Once combined, press down into the bottom and up the sides of a 9" pie dish.
  3. Bake the crust in the oven for 8–10 minutes to set. Don't be tempted to touch it right away! It needs to cool a few minutes before fully setting.
  4. With a hand blender, beat the egg yolks about 2–3 minutes or until fluffy. Add the condensed milk, and continue to beat until fully incorporated. Next, add the lime juice and zest, and beat a few minutes until fluffy.
  5. Pour the filling into the baked pie crust and spread evenly. Bake for 15–20 minutes or until set. Allow the pie to cool before adding the whipped cream.
  6. In a bowl, beat the cream, sugar, and vanilla in a bowl (cold bowl is best) until stiff peaks form. Add a pinch of cream of tartar at the end to ensure the peaks hold. Using a piping bag, or just a spoon—top of the entire pie, or allow everyone to top their own slice, it's up to you!
Posted in Lime, Pie | Tagged , , , | 9 Comments

Beef Tinga Burritos

We all know that Cinco de Mayo is only a few days away, and that makes me very happy! No, I’m not Mexican, but Mexican food, margaritas and sangria are just a few of my favorite things to enjoy. Well in preparation for this fun celebration, I made burritos! Burritos are great because they’re somewhat handheld and always filling. You can stuff burritos with a variety of fillings so they never get old. Oh how I love them, and my husband too!

I happened to pick up this totally awesome Mexican Recipe edition of Better Homes and Gardens magazine. Inside was a recipe for Beef Tinga. I had never heard of this spicy Mexican beef stew. The recipe called for chorizo and another favorite of mine, chipotle peppers. Well I had no chorizo, and in doing a bit of research I noticed that not all Tinga recipes had it. I’m not sure what’s authentic and what’s not, but this beef stew was mighty delicious even without the chorizo. You can keep the meat cubed and serve with rice, or you can shred and serve in tacos, enchiladas, or burritos.

You can use any toppings for your burritos. I used all the typical burritos fillings on top of the shredded beef—pre-cooked brown rice to make my life easy, canned black beans, Mexican blend cheese, sour cream, and sliced avocado dripping in lemon juice and salt. MMM MMM. I also stuffed them in whole wheat flour tortillas which I love. To give my canned black beans a little flavor, I added a few tablespoons of store-bought tomato Sofrito. You can also add some store-bought salsa instead. When available, I like to enjoy these with a nice cold Sidral Mundet or Jarritos orange soda!

Beef Tinga Burritos
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6
recipe adapted from Better Homes and Gardens
  • 1-1/2 pounds stew beef or boneless beef chuck in large cubes
  • olive oil
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1 medium spanish onion, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-15oz can of tomato purée
  • 2-4 chipotle peppers in adobe sauce, seeded and chopped
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  1. Season the beef well with salt and pepper.
  2. Coat a dutch oven with olive oil, and sear meat on high heat in batches until browned on all sides.
  3. Add all the beef to the pot, and add enough water to completely cover the meat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and cover.
  4. Let the meat simmer for 1 to 1-1/2 hours until tender.
  5. Remove the meat from the pot and shred. Reserve 1-1/2 cups of the cooking liquid, and discard the rest.
  6. Add a bit of oil to the same pot, and sauté the onions and garlic until tender.
  7. Add the tomato, cooking liquid, and chipotle peppers to the onions and garlic. Bring to a boil, then add the shredded beef.
  8. Reduce the heat to low and simmer uncovered for about 15 minutes or until thickened.
  9. Use as a filling for burritos or tacos.



Posted in Beef, Dinner, Ethnic, Mexican, Spicy, Stew | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments