Fried Green Tomatoes with Prosciutto and Lemon Aioli

fried green tomatoes

We recently returned from a trip we took to Georgia and Florida and it got me thinking about fried green tomatoes. You see them everywhere on restaurant menu’s, it’s definitely a summer southern tradition.

Although I didn’t have any while on vacation I knew I wanted to try making some I was totally inspired when I got home. My sister-in-law who lives a mile from me has a big garden so I called her up and asked her for some green tomatoes so I could make them.

green tomatoes

You’re looking for firm unripened green tomatoes which you’ll cut about a quarter inch thick with a serrated knife. They won’t be juicy like a ripe red tomato so after a quick blotting on top with a paper towel, the breading should stick very well.

fried tomatoes

I’ve made fried red tomatoes in a past post and I gave them a little Italian twist and I did the same with this version as well

crispy tomatoes

A crunchy exterior made from flour, polenta and a bit of grated pecorino cheese which gets crispy and golden, the middle is tangy and soft. You can eat them like this, just grab and go, or as an appetizer, a light lunch or dinner which is the way I served them.

platter of fried tomatoes

Lemony greens at the base topped with the fried green tomatoes, a slice of prosciutto on top of each and a nice drizzle of lemon aioli to finish it off, we had this for lunch and enjoyed every bite!

tomato appetizer

Southern charm with a little Italian fusion!

Fried Green Tomatoes with Prosciutto and Lemon Aioli
 
Fried green tomatoes with a little Italian fusion
Author:
Ingredients
  • 4 green tomatoes sliced ¼ inch thick
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup polenta
  • ¼ cup of grated pecorino romano
  • a pinch of cayenne ( optional)
  • 2 eggs whisked with a little milk
  • olive oil for frying
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 slice of proscuitto to top each fried green tomato
  • arugula for base of "salad" mixed lightly with olive oil and lemon juice
  • LEMON AIOLI
  • Whisk Together;
  • ¾ cup of mayo, full fat
  • lemon juice, enough to thin it out
  • 1small garlic clove, grated
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Have your pan ready to go with olive oil drizzled on the bottom for a shallow frying.
  2. Set up a wire rack to place the cooked tomatoes on so they don't get soggy on the bottom.
  3. Place your whisked eggs in one dish, then add your flour, polenta, grated pecorino and optional cayenne in a separate dish.
  4. Dip each slice into the flour mixture first, then into the egg then back into the flour mixture.
  5. Then into the frying pan on medium high heat until both sides are deep golden.
  6. Place each slice onto a wire rack and sprinkle with salt.
  7. When tomatoes cool down a little assemble the platter with the arugula greens first, then place the tomatoes all around, topping each slice with prosciutto.
  8. Heavily drizzle the lemon aioli all around on top.

 

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Garden Inspired Herb Butter

compound butters

I look forward to summer and using all my fresh garden herbs, I’m constantly thinking of ways to incorporate them into my dishes. One of my favorite ways is to make herb butter, also known as compound butter.

When making herb butter the sky’s the limit. You can choose your favorite combinations with additions of garlic, shallots, citrus, edible flowers, mustards and even some spicy heat, it’s really fun to make it your own so whatever you use you can’t go wrong.

herb garden

For my compound butter I used a combination of rosemary, lemon and English thyme, parsley, basil, oregano and chives, I picked some lavender but at the end decided not to use it in this batch.

fresh herbs

I also added some of my hot pepper chili’s to spice it up a bit.  Herbed butters can be used with seafood and fish of all kinds, grilled meats, potatoes, rice, all different veggies and breads, croutons, pasta, eggs and omelets, there are endless ways to use them.

 

herb butter

Herb butters keep in the fridge for around a week but they freeze very well for up to three months, so keep that in mind when you’re making  a batch if you want to keep a stash in your freezer like I do or if you want to give some away as a delicious hostess gift.

 

herbed buttered corn

Infused herb butter that’s melted into a hot steamy ear of corn is a game changer!

buttered corn

Ready to make some?

Garden Inspired Herb Butter
 
You'll want to make extra so that you'll have a stash tucked away in your freezer.
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, very room temperature and soft
  • 2 Tablespoons of finely chopped herbs, like thyme, basil, oregano, chives, parsley, remove all stems
  • 1garlic clove, chopped finely
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • a small pinch of red pepper or a small portion of a chopped red chili ( optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Place the softened butter into a bowl and with a spatula fold in all the other ingredients then add the salt and pepper to taste.
  2. Place the whole bowl into the fridge so the butter mixture can harden up a bit so you can easily form it into a log.
  3. Take a piece of plastic wrap and lay it on the counter and spoon it on top then roll it into a log and twist the ends.
  4. Stick the log into the fridge and let it completely harden up before slicing and using it.
  5. Stays well in the fridge for a week and in the freezer for up to 3 months.

 

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Seafood Pizza On The Grill

grilled seafood

Father’s Day is right around the corner, time to celebrate all the dad’s in our lives and what better way than heating up the grill and making something special.  Grilling pizza is a fun and casual way of entertaining but if you want to kick it up a notch and make it special, top the pizza with grilled seafood.

It’s a beautiful presentation, taking the ordinary pizza to the extraordinary!

marinating fish

It’s quite simple to make if you plan and prep ahead. Keep in mind, you can use any mix of seafood you like. I used calamari, shrimp, scallops, with a small lobster tail and a few clams in the shell to get a few extra WOW’s!

Marinating and flavoring the seafood beforehand is key, every bite will taste scrumptious. Grilling the dough produces a light and crispy crust which goes oh so well with it all.

I loaded the top of my pizza with seafood, but you can go lighter by using maybe just shrimp and scallops or shrimp and calamari, the possibilities and combos are endless, use what you like.

 

grilled calamari

After marinating your seafood get it on the grill to get that lightly charred flavor, if using calamari keep in mind it takes only about five minutes to cook.

 

mixed grilled seafood

The same thing goes with scallops and shrimp, they cook up very quickly, the lobster will take the longest. You can tell when the lobster is cooked through when the meat is firm to the touch and it’s opaque looking.

If using clams you can steam them inside until they open or stick them on the grill, they’ll open up there as well.

 

pizza with fish

You can go against the seafood and cheese police and add some shredded mozzarella and grated parmesan on the crust like I did, it anchors the seafood and tastes delicious, be sure to go light if using cheese, remember the seafood is the star here. I added some nice sliced tomatoes which went really well together with the cheese.

You can also just swipe the crust with fresh pesto sauce, creme fraiche, a light red sauce, roasted red pepper sauce, the list goes on and on, make it your own.

grilled seafood on pizza

Serve this grilled seafood pizza to someone special in your life!

Seafood Pizza On The Grill
 
Add a little elegance to your pizza with a mix of seafood.
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 lb. prepared pizza dough, store bought or homemade, room temp
  • 1 lb. shrimp, medium size, peeled and deveined
  • ½ lb.sea scallops
  • 2 lbs. calamari cut into rings with tentacles
  • 1 small lobster tail, trimmed up with the back cut open
  • 3 or 4 littleneck clams in shell, washed and scrubbed of no sand
  • 2 medium sliced tomatoes or you can use cherry tomatoes
  • shredded mozzarella and a sprinkle of parmesan, enough to lightly cover the bottom of the crust ( refer to post for non cheese options)
  • olive oil, parsley and basil for garnish
  • TO MARINATE FISH
  • olive oil, fresh chopped garlic, red pepper flakes, parsley, lemon zest and a little juice
Instructions
  1. Make sure to get that dough at room temp early in the day so it's easy to roll out.
  2. Marinate all the fish no longer than an hour, drain well before grilling, if using clams no need to marinate.
  3. To make it easy on yourself grill all the fish on a disposable grill pan beforehand and set aside.
  4. TO PREP THE DOUGH:
  5. On medium heat brush your clean grill with olive oil.
  6. Stretch out the dough as big as you can.
  7. Lay the dough on the grill.
  8. Cook til the top bubbles, around 3 minutes.
  9. Remove it from the grill with tongs and place the cooked side up on a cutting board.
  10. Top the cooked side with cheese and place all the grilled seafood ( put the lobster tail right in the middle) all around.
  11. You can slice the scallops in half as well as the shrimp if you prefer.
  12. Place your sliced tomatoes all around the seafood, drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper.
  13. Place the loaded pizza back on the grill ( that will be the uncooked side face down) with the top on the grill down until the cheese melts and fish heats up, around 5 minutes.Watch for hot spots so crust doesn’t burn.
  14. Make a nice salad on the side, slice and enjoy!
  15. Remove and sprinkle with chopped basil and parsley.

 

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Mustard Garlic Herb Paste – For Summer Grilling

grilled kabobs

Summer grilling is here and life is opening up again, it’s time for gathering together with friends and family, having backyard BBQ’s and enjoying special occasions which we all missed so much!

Memorial Day is just around the corner and so is Father’s Day and if you’re planning on doing any cookouts, I hope you add this intensely flavored mustard, garlic herb paste to just about whatever you’re planning on grilling.

herb paste

Fresh herbs are the key to this delicious herb paste which can be made in a jiffy using a food processor, and don’t be afraid to double or triple this recipe, I promise it will amp up your grilling game!

herb box

I used a mix of basil, parsley, thyme and rosemary. Each herb carries it’s own intense flavor which pairs nicely with grilled foods, but feel free to create your own combo that you might prefer.

cut herbs

marinated chicken

Smother the herb paste all over whatever your grilling and then let it sit for a while to intensify.

marinated kabobs

Brush it all over veggies, chicken, beef, pork and even fish, the more the better!

grilled chicken

I’ve been using this herb paste since way back, here’s a post I did nine years ago, time sure does fly!

grilled herb paste kabobs

Snip off some herbs and make this mustard, garlic, herb paste the next time you turn on the grill, enjoy!

4.0 from 1 reviews
Mustard Garlic Herb Paste - SFor Summer Grilling
 
Consider double or tripling this recipe, it's that good!
Author:
Ingredients
  • 2 cups of herbs like parsley, basil, thyme and rosemary, but feel free to use your favorite combination
  • 3 large garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. In a food processor add the herbs and garlic and process, then add zest and lemon juice and finish with the olive oil to the consistency of a loose paste, easy to spread.
  2. Make sure to let it sit on your protein or veggie of choice for at least an hour before grilling.
  3. ENJOY

 

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Cauliflower Antipasto Two Ways

antipasto

If you’re searching for a salad that pleases a crowd, one that you can serve at any get together you might have, this cauliflower antipasto salad is the one for you.

This salad has all the mix of a traditional antipasto, it includes cheese, meat, marinated veggies, olives and other goodies. Quite a few antipasto salads include a pasta of some sort, but in this salad the star ingredient is cauliflower!

antipasto platter

This salad can be served cold or at room temp, it’s easy to pull together, it can be made ahead of time  and there’s no cooking of any kind.  Each bite is filled with hearty and zippy ingredients that have a nice crunchy texture.

Fioretto cauliflower

The cauliflower that I used in this recipe was a variety called Fioretto, it means little flower in Italian. It has a dense head with flowering tiny buds along with a pale green stem, it’s delicate and fluffy like a pretty bouquet.

Fioretto is a hybrid of broccoli and cauliflower, it is not GMO, it’s a hybrid. Of course you don’t have to use this variety to make this salad a regular head of cauliflower will be just as good, I was just lucky enough to come across this big beautiful head and couldn’t wait to use. it.

raw cauliflower

If you don’t see it in your grocery stores ask the produce manager if they can get it for you, you’ll love the sweet and tender florets it produces.

cauliflower antipasto

I blanched the cauliflower for 1 minute then ran some cold water on it to cool down, it was the perfect texture for this salad and you would do exactly the same with a regular head of cauliflower, there’s no difference.

What I like about cauliflower in general is that you can prepare it so many ways, you can steam it, stir fry, grill, saute and roast it as I did in the recipe below.

Italian roasted cauliflower

Here’s another way to prepare a nice, hearty antipasto dish. Roasted cauliflower with pecorino and parmesan which is served with a lemon aioli dipping sauce.

roasted cauliflower

Again you can use your favorite variety of cauliflower to make this, here’s how you do it.

Break up the florets from a head of  cauliflower and place them on a rimmed baking sheet drizzled with olive oil. Heat oven to 425.

In a bowl mix together 1/2 cup of bread crumbs and 1/2 cup mix of pecorino and parmesan.

Drizzle the tops of the cauliflower all over with olive oil, then sprinkle the crumb and cheese mixture covering each floret. Sprinkle with granulated garlic and a good handful of chopped parsley and black pepper.

Place sheet pan into the oven and roast the florets until tender and the cheese mixture is deep golden brown, tossing in between roasting to coat each side.

I like to serve this with an easy lemon aioli that I make by mixing mayo with lemon juice to thin it out, 1 small grated garlic clove, salt and pepper, that’s it!

roasted Fioretto

Two fun ways to serve up and eat a beautiful head of cauliflower, such a yummy and versatile vegetable!

4.7 from 3 reviews
Cauliflower Antipasto Two Ways
 
Ingredient amounts can vary to your liking, this is a rough estimate, feel free to add more or less to your salad.
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 head of cauliflower, broken into florets I used the Fioretto variety but any variety will due.
  • a mix of green and black olives, 1 cup
  • ½ cup chopped red onion
  • ½ cup of sundried tomatoes in oil, sliced
  • a small jar of drained artichoke hearts in oil
  • 1 cup of sliced salami, pepperoni, or spicy sopressata, medium chunks
  • ¾ cup of sharp provolone, medium chunks
  • ½ of a red and yellow pepper diced into medium chunks
  • ½ can of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • ½ cup of sliced pepperoncini strips
  • a hearty handful of chopped fresh parsley
  • DRESSING
  • 1 part fresh lemon juice
  • 3 parts olive oil
  • 1 small grated garlic clove
  • 1 dollop of Dijon
  • salt and pepper
  • whisk together
Instructions
  1. Blanch the cauliflower first into boiling water for 1 minute, then remove it and cool it down under cold water, let it drain and pat dry.
  2. In a large bowl place all the ingredients, including the cauliflower together, tossing very gently until all is incorporated.
  3. Drizzle some of the dressing on and taste as you go for the amount you want to use, adding salt and pepper as needed.
  4. Place onto a pretty platter if serving right away, or tuck it into a container overnight.
  5. This can be served cold or at room temperature.

 

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Italian Style Beef Stuffed Peppers with Cauliflower Rice

stuffed peppers

Stuffed peppers will never go out of style, they’re a special kind of comfort food, but not in the sense of the heavy, stick to your ribs kind. These beef stuffed peppers are a whole meal contained in a colorful pepper vessel with Italian flavors throughout each bite.

They can be served for lunch or dinner with a nice green salad on the side to complete the meal.

bell peppers

I often find the colorful, sweet bell peppers on sale and when I do I always grab a bunch.

raw bell peppers

In preparing this dish you can either cut each pepper in half or keep them whole as I did here, it’s amazing how much stuffing you can fit into each one.

ground beef stuffing

For this recipe I used a good quality, lean ground beef, 90 percent lean, 10 percent fat. In the past I’ve used Italian sausage featured in this post.

That’s what I like about stuffed peppers, they’re so versatile. You can use a favorite meat of your choice or even no meat at all. You can use a variety of different cheese and vegetable combinations as well as beans.

Also you can use cooked rice, white, brown, wild and even quinoa but I’m loving the lightness that riced cauliflower gives to the peppers, so that’s what I chose for this, plus it’s great if you’re watching carbs or on a keto diet.

prepped peppers

Of course my beef stuffed peppers are made with Italian flavors both in and out, they can be prepared ahead of time, which is a good thing and if you happen to have leftovers they’re just as delicious heated up the next day!

cooked peppers

I promise these will be a hit with your family, I stuck some artichoke hearts in mine, if you’re an artichoke lover put them in, if not you can even sub in some mushrooms, that would be delicious as well.

stuffed bell pepper

If someone you know needs a meal cooked for them, something they could easily heat up, this is the one to make and give to them.

cut open pepper

Next time you see those sweet, colorful peppers displayed in the grocery store, grab a few and make this!

Italian Style Beef Stuffed Peppers with Cauliflower Rice
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 8 colored bell peppers, left whole, tops cut off with seeds and membranes removed inside. Dice up some of the tops to place into the filling as well for added color and taste
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef, 90% lean 10% fat
  • 1 -12oz. bag of frozen cauliflower rice, defrosted
  • 1 -12 oz. bag frozen artichoke hearts, defrosted
  • 1 -28 oz. can of whole San Marzano tomatoes, squished by hand leaving nice size chunks, 1 cup goes into the filling and the rest will be for the bottom of the baking dish, no need to cook it ahead of time
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 large garlic cloves, diced small
  • a handful of both parsley and basil
  • 1 cup of pecorino romano
  • 2 cups of shredded mozzarella, 1½ cups to go inside filling and reserving the ½ to sprinkle on the tops
  • olive oil
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 375F.
  2. Reserve a cup of the squished tomatoes for the filling and put the rest onto the bottom of a 9x12 baking dish that has been sprayed with olive oil.
  3. Place the 8 raw, cleaned peppers into the baking dish.
  4. Brown the beef in a large skillet until you no longer see pink, then remove and drain on paper towel if need be.
  5. Wipe out the pan and drizzle with olive oil and cook up the cauliflower rice until dry with no liquid in the "rice" doing the same with the artichoke hearts, doing one at a time if need be, set aside to cool.
  6. Quickly saute the onion and garlic and chopped pepper tops as well.
  7. When cool, transfer all the precooked ingredients into a large bowl, the beef, onions, garlic, chopped pepper tops, cauliflower rice and artichoke hearts ( chop the artichoke hearts up before adding).
  8. Now add in your basil, parsley, romano cheeese and a 1- ½ cups of shredded mozzarella and also a cup of the squished san marzano tomatoes.
  9. Gently mix everything together and add salt and pepper to taste.
  10. Fill each raw pepper with the filling, packing it in.
  11. Cover the pan tightly with foil and bake for 35 minutes.
  12. Remove pan and foil, they should be nice and steamy.
  13. Sprinkle remaining shredded mozzarella on each pepper, a little romano and some of the tomato juice from the bottom of the pan and a drizzle of olive oil on each one.
  14. Bake into the oven for another 30 minutes or until the tip of a knife goes easily through the sides.
  15. Enjoy!

 

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Colorful Shrimp Pasta Salad

shrimp salad

This shrimp pasta salad has all the components of spring, it has bright colors and it’s light and fresh. This salad can be a stand alone lunch, a light dinner or the perfect side dish to have for spring and summer cookouts.

Colorful spring vegetables are incorporated into this salad and finished off with a creamy lemon dressing that clings to every bite.

farfalle pasta

This pasta salad looks pretty made with rainbow colored pasta, there are so many shapes and sizes available today and the different colors add to the vibrancy of the dish. You definitely want to choose ones that are healthy, the ones that are actually colored with natural foods, things like carrot, beet root, tumeric and spinach  which will also enhance the flavor as well.

I would encourage you to seek them out, I found this cute farfalle shape but again there are so many more!

 

grilled shrimp

You can poach the shrimp, roast the shrimp or grill it, either way will work, just have it done ahead of time.

spring pasta salad

Now that winter is behind us it’s time to tuck those comfort foods away and to brighten things up and this pasta salad is just the thing!

Colorful Shrimp Pasta Salad
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • ½. lb. cooked shrimp, roasted, grilled or poached, cooled down
  • ½ lb. colored pasta, cooked, drained and rinsed cold. Pat dry so no wetness sticks to the pasta
  • 1 lb of fresh asparagus, cut in half and blanched for 2 minutes in boiling water then plunged into ice water, then patted dry of water.
  • ½ cup of peas, if fresh pre-cook, if frozen, defrost
  • ½ of a red pepper and ½ yellow pepper, diced
  • ¼ red onion, small dice
  • 3 radishes, sliced thin
  • ½ of english cucumber, sliced thin
  • hand full or arugula or chopped romaine lettuce
  • tablespoon each of chopped parsley and chopped basil
  • LEMON CREAM DRESSING
  • 1 part fresh lemon juice
  • 3 parts olive oil
  • 1 small dollop of Dijon
  • 2 or 3 small chopped garlic cloves
  • 2 Tablespoons of full fat mayo
Instructions
  1. Add all the dressing components into a jar and whisk it up together. ( You'll have extra) set aside.
  2. Take all your components, the cooked pasta, shrimp, asparagus, peas, chopped peppers, onions, radishes, parsley, basil, arugula or romaine and place them into a nice big bowl.
  3. Toss gently together, evenly dispersed, then spoon in your lemon dressing, taste as you go adding salt and pepper, more herbs if you like.
  4. Be careful not to overload the dressing so as not to make it soggy.
  5. Place pasta salad into a nice platter and serve!

 

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Citrus Infused Ricotta Pie for Easter and Beyond

ricotta pie

Bright citrus flavors of lemon and orange infuse this sweet and creamy ricotta pie. Ricotta pie is a traditional Easter dessert which has so many variations according to individual family recipes. But if I’m to be honest it really isn’t just for Easter, this pie is welcomed any time of the year when you’re wanting a special dessert to serve.

citrus pie

I have another variation of ricotta pie that I make in my own family as well, it’s filled with mini chocolate chips, citron, zest and a hint of cinnamon with flavors like the inside of a cannoli.

pie

But this dreamy version lets the sweetened ricotta shine with hints of vanilla, lemon and orange. This pie is also topped with a lattice crust which reminds me of an Easter basket, and besides the more crust the better in my book!

coffee and pie

With Easter right around the corner this pie would be a perfect addition to your dessert table, Happy Easter!

Citrus Infused Ricotta Pie for Easter and Beyond
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • Use a 9 inch deep dish pie pan
  • Pastry for a double crusted pie, either homemade or a good quality store bought one.
  • 2¾ cups of whole milk ricotta*** IMPORTANT NOTE: Make sure you drain your ricotta really good, excess moisture will affect the cooking time and texture. You can drain it overnight in the fridge if it's the deli kind sitting in some water. Or you can look for a full fat supermarket version.
  • ¾ c. sugar
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon pure vanilla
  • ¼ teaspoon lemon extract
  • zest of 1 large orange
  • zest of 1 large lemon or 2 small
  • reserve a pinch of each to sprinkle on top
  • small pastel colored chocolate eggs for garnish presentation
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. In a large bowl with an electric mixer beat the drained ricotta with the sugar until very smooth.
  3. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
  4. Beat in the vanilla and lemon extract
  5. Fold in the lemon and orange zest to well combined.
  6. Place 1 half of your double pie crust into your pie plate, unbaked
  7. Pour all the filling into the pie shell.
  8. Place the whole plate onto a rimmed cookie sheet for easy in and out of the oven.
  9. Take the other piece of dough, roll it out and make 6 or 8 strips of dough and place them over the filling in a criss cross design.
  10. I usually brush some cream over the top of the crust to make a golden crust, you can do an egg wash as well, then sprinkle the pinch of zest you set aside all over the top.
  11. Bake the pie for around 45 minutes or until ricotta is set and a toothpick comes out clean and crust golden.
  12. Let it cool down then refrigerate before eating
  13. Garnish with a handful of pastel colored, small size chocolate eggs on top for presentation.

 

Signature

Stuffed Cabbage, Italian Style

cooked cabbage

It’s March, and you’re going to see lots of cabbage in the supermarkets. I encourage you to pick up a large head and try my twist on stuffed cabbage Italian style. This is not to say that the traditional version isn’t any good, this is just my Italian take on it.

The concept is simple, the cabbage is wilted and wrapped around all the makings of your favorite Italian meatball and the sauce is a delicious marinara.

fresh cabbage

The cabbage I used here was your typical green cabbage, I chose a big head with lots of leaves. Savoy cabbage is another perfect variety to use if you can find one that is on the larger size.

The hardest thing about making stuffed cabbage is blanching the leaves off and to do this you’ll need a big pot of boiling water going. Core the end of the cabbage and submerge the whole thing into the boiling pot and place a cover on top.

After a few minutes remove the cover and peel off as many leaves as you can and drain on paper towels. Repeat the whole process until you have the number of leaves you want. The bigger the cabbage, the more leaves you’ll have.

After the leaves cool down place one at a time on a cutting board, pat dry and just cut out that center core so it’s easier to fold them. Then form the shape of a meatball using about 1/2  cup of meat mixture tucking the cabbage all around the sides of the meatball creating a round shape instead of the traditional log shape.

ground beef mixture

Here’s where you can really get creative! You can use your own family favorite meatball recipe or do a little improvising like I did with the ingredients above. I used 2 pounds of ground beef for this recipe, it was an 80/20 mix but ground sirloin works great as well as ground pork and turkey. Because of my large head of cabbage I was able to yield 14 rolls in total.

This post is meant to inspire you with the ingredients I used, or if you like, change things up with some of your favorites. For instance, using small chunks of mozzarella instead of the provolone cheese, or eliminate the cooked rice for breadcrumbs or even riced cauliflower. I always like to add a generous amount of grated pecorino, a couple of tablespoons of marinara, a good handful of fresh parsley and enough garlic so you can really taste it, you get the picture, flavor it up good!

cabbage rolls

Tuck your wilted cabbage all around your meatball and then place them seam side down in a pool of marinara.

sauced cabbage rolls

Spoon additional marinara ( homemade or a good quality store bought) on top of each roll, sprinkle pecorino on top and a nice drizzle of olive oil all over.

Cover your baking dish completely with foil and place into a pre-heated 360 degree oven for around 40 minutes. Uncover and test to see if a tip of a knife goes though easily.

Italian style cabbage

When finished cooking let it rest for a few minutes then garnish with parsley or basil and enjoy!

cabbage rolls

I hope you’ve been inspired to make my Italian style version of stuffed cabbage!

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Winter Panzanella Salad With Roasted Vegetables

veggie panzanella

A panzanella salad traditionally is made in summertime with fresh tomatoes and bread, but today I’m featuring a winter version of a panzanella salad. I promise you will love it and you’ll be surprised just how easy it is to make.

Go take a look inside your fridge and see what veggies you have in there, any combination would work, this is truly a freeform type of recipe.

Below is exactly what I had in my fridge.

uncooked veggies

I had a mix of broccoli, carrots, onion, peppers, brussel sprouts, sugar snap peas and cauliflower. If I had squash I would have added that, whatever you have will work.

Don’t be afraid to fill a whole sheet pan full of your favorite veggies like I did. Then drizzle them all over with olive oil, add salt and pepper and roast at 400 degrees until golden, with still a little bite. Make sure you don’t over cook them, you don’t want mushy vegetables here.

homemade croutons

Another important component to this salad is homemade croutons. I can’t stress enough how important it is to make your own, store bought ones do not compare.

I used a stale hunk of ciabatta for mine but any crusty bread would do. Just chunk it up, place on a baking sheet, drizzle and toss them with a generous amount of olive oil, pepper and I had a rosemary salt that I added.

You’re going to put those bread cubes into a 400 degree oven until they get golden and crispy, they don’t take too long so keep watching and tossing them.

vinagrette

Then the final important elements are a homemade vinaigrette and fresh bocconcini, ( fresh mozzarella). Again I stress homemade is best, so please don’t use a bottled dressing of any kind, making your own vinaigrette is easy to do and makes a world of difference to the taste and over all deliciousness of this salad.

I will add my vinaigrette recipe below at the end of the post.

roasted veggies

After the veggies have been roasted and cooled down and the croutons and vinaigrette is made, it’s time to put this winter panzanella together.

winter panzanella

Grab a pretty bowl, add the roasted veggies, torn basil and chopped fresh parsley. Toss in your croutons and bocconcini, use as much as you want and add in a few sliced cherry tomatoes for freshness. roasted veggies

All that’s left is to spoon that vinaigrette over the top and dig in! This could serve as a lunch, side dish or if you just feel like eating a bowl of goodness!

I hope you try this winter version of a panzanella salad.

5.0 from 2 reviews
Homemade Vinaigrette
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 part white balsamic vinegar
  • 3 parts olive oil
  • a dollop of dijon mustard
  • 1 small garlic clove, grated
  • a pinch of salt and pepper
  • a pinch of dried oregano
Instructions
  1. Place all the ingredients into a jar that has a lid.
  2. Shake well until it all emulsifies together.
  3. Store in the fridge when not using.

 

Signature

Dark Chocolate Amaretto Tart with Amaretti Cookie Crust

chocolate tart

Calling all chocolate lovers! Here’s an easy dessert to make for upcoming Valentines Day, a special occasion or if you just have a wild craving for dark chocolate!

The best part about this dark chocolate tart with the almond flavor of Amaretto is that the only thing you’ll have to bake is the crust!

Speaking of the crust, it’s made with crushed amaretti cookies and butter, just like you would make a graham cracker crust but only better.

chopped chocolate

The filling is basically a mousse made of melted dark chocolate that’s folded into whipped cream and flavored with amaretto liquor. The liquor gives it a rich deep flavor, but if you want to substitute that with almond extract go ahead, you need to have that almond flavor.

amaretti cookie crust

As soon as you open up the bag of amaretti cookies that almond smell hits you right away, I promise you it will make the tart so much more amazing by using them for the crust.

dark chocolate

Grab some good quality dark chocolate to melt down and when it cools you’re going to fold it into some heavy whipped cream to create a wonderful silky mousse.

chocolate moussetart filling

Then it’s onto your baked amaretti crust and into the fridge for chilling, but the wait is worth it!

chocolate mousse tart

When chilled, garnish the top with some of the crushed amaretti cookies and toasted sliced almonds and then share a piece with someone you love!

chocolate tart slice

Enjoy!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Dark Chocolate and Amaretto Tart with Amaretti Cookie Crust
 
Satisfy your chocolate craving with this easy to make chocolate Amaretto tart.
Author:
Ingredients
  • Tart Crust
  • 1-7oz. package of amaretti cookies
  • 5 Tablespoons melted butter
  • Mousse Filling
  • 1¾ cup heavy cream
  • 2 Tablespoons Amaretto liquor or ½ to 1 teaspoon of almond extract
  • 5 oz. chopped dark chocolate, good quality
  • 2 Tablespoons powdered sugar
  • toasted sliced almonds for garnish
Instructions
  1. Pre heat the oven to 325F
  2. Melt butter then set aside.
  3. Pour 90% of the cookies into a food processor and process until fine crumbs, leaving the rest to crush by hand later for garnish.
  4. Pour the butter through the tube of processor until the crumbs look like wet sand.
  5. Press the crumbs into a 9" fluted tart pan.
  6. Bake the crust at 325F for 20 minutes until set, then cool completely.
  7. In a small saucepan add ¾ cup of heavy cream, when it starts to slightly simmer remove from the heat and stir in the chocolate and Amaretto. Stir til the chocolate is silky smooth, then let it cool to room temperature.
  8. In a medium size bowl add the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream and powdered sugar, whip til you get stiff peaks.
  9. Gently fold in the cooled down chocolate and mix until fully incorporated.
  10. Pour filling into cooled crust and refrigerate for a couple of hours before serving.
  11. Right before serving garnish with toasted almonds and some of the remaining crushed amaretti cookies.
  12. ***Recipe adapted from Everyday Food***

 

Signature

Seafood Freeform Lasagna with Lemon Cream Sauce

seafood lasagna

If you’re looking for a special date night dinner, something a little fancy but not so hard to make try this seafood freeform lasagna, what makes it even more special is the subtle lemon cream sauce that’s spooned all over.

This is the perfect dinner to have on Valentines Day which is coming up soon and I’m quite sure many of us will be dining at home. This is meant for two people but you can certainly double the recipe for more to enjoy if need be.

I used a mix of scallops and shrimp in this easy freeform lasagna, which is highlighted with a touch of Limoncello for a smack of bright lemon flavor!

chopped shrimp and scallops

The prep work is all done in advance so when it’s time to eat all you have to do is pop your dish into the oven, warm it up and get that golden top.

You’ll be spending all your time with your date instead of cooking and cleaning in the kitchen all night, and that’s a good thing!

filling ramekins

The lemon sauce is very light, you can use half lemon juice and half Limoncello or just all lemon juice. I wouldn’t do all Limoncello because that would  be too sweet tasting and overpower the seafood.

If lemon is not your thing, you can make a nice white sauce to top it off like a béchamel, that would be equally as delicious and creamy to top it off.

Cut your lasagna noodles to fit into individual ramekins if using or if you end up using a bigger dish,  it doesn’t have to fit perfect.

seafood filled ramekins

Then you’re going to layer all that amazing seafood on top. It’s a delicious mix of chopped scallops, shrimp, garlic, shallots with a little ricotta and mascarpone for creaminess and to help bind it all.

shrimp and scallop lasagna

Save some whole shrimp for garnish it makes a striking presentation. This can be served along side a beautiful salad or if you really want to go all out, a steak for some surf and turf!

5.0 from 2 reviews
Seafood Freeform Lasagna with Lemon Cream Sauce
 
A date night or Valentines Day dinner for you and your special someone.
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 lb. seafood, I used a combo of ½ lb. shrimp and ½ lb. scallops, you can also use all shrimp or any combo of your choice, peeled and deveined leaving a couple of whole shrimp or scallops for garnish
  • 6 lasagna sheets, pre-boiled
  • SEAFOOD MIXTURE INGREDIENTS
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, small dice
  • 2 large garlic, minced
  • 2 heaping tablespoons chopped parsley, extra for garnish
  • ¼ cup of ricotta
  • 1 heaping tablespoon mascarpone cream
  • 1 tablespoon, limoncello in the seafood mix or use 1 tablespoon, lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • FOR THE LEMON CREAM SAUCE
  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter and extra to butter your ramekins
  • 2 Tablespoons, Limoncello ( or use all lemon juice to make up the 4 Tablespoons)
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 cup heavy cream
Instructions
  1. Pre boil your lasagne noodles, according to the time directions on the box, cool them down and set aside.
  2. Chop up your seafood into bite size pieces, making sure to clean your shrimp beforehand, and setting aside 1 or 2 for garnish.
  3. For the whole shrimp garnish, season them and stick into a 420F oven until cooked through, then set aside.
  4. Butter 2 -6 inch" ramekins or 1- 12 inch"
  5. Drizzle olive oil in the bottom of a sauté pan, add the shallot and garlic til soft then toss in the chopped seafood, tossing gently till cooked. Don't over cook!
  6. Add 1 Tablespoon of Limoncello to the mix or lemon juice as well as the parsley.
  7. Let the mixture cool down then add the ricotta and mascarpone, folding it in and mixing it til incorporated.
  8. Make your lemon cream sauce by placing both Limoncello, ( 2 tablespoons) and lemon juice( 2 tablespoons) in a small sauce pan together ( or use all lemon juice( 4 tablespoons).
  9. Once warm whisk in your butter.
  10. When the butter melts in add the heavy cream gently stirring on low heat until the cream thickens.
  11. NOW FOR ASSEMBLY
  12. Line the bottom of your ramekins with a few cooked lasagna noodles, cutting them if need be to fit.
  13. Spread a little of the lemon cream sauce on the noodles.
  14. Divide your seafood mix between the two ramekins and spread on top of the pasta.
  15. Use the remaining lasagna noodles to fit over the top of the seafood mixture.
  16. Spoon some of the lemon sauce all around.
  17. This all can be prepped ahead of time.
  18. When you’re ready to serve you can place the ramekins under your broiler to warm it up and get some golden color on top, but if you do you can't walk away!
  19. Stay near the oven broiler and keep checking to make sure it doesn’t burn,.
  20. You can also heat them in the oven at 375 just til heated through, ovens vary so keep checking, it won't take too long, and remember everything is cooked already.
  21. If you want a little more golden on top, stick it under the broiler for that, but again do not walk away!
  22. Spoon some of the lemon cream on top to finish, garnish with chopped parsley and top it off with the whole cooked shrimp.
  23. Enjoy!

 

 

Signature

Chicken Parm Meatballs, A Twist On The Classic

meatballs

Who doesn’t love a good meatball? They’re a favorite of many with endless ways to make them! This version is everything you love about classic chicken parm but formed into a meatball.

The outside is crispy, similar to the way you would fry up your chicken cutlet. They’re topped with a nice marinara sauce, some melted cheese, basil with a surprise center.

When you bite into them they still hold on to that crunch because they’re not simmered in sauce as you would traditional Italian meatballs.

 

frying meatballs

After the balls are formed you’re going to bread them as you would when making chicken cutlets, first a light dusting of flour, then egg, then into breadcrumbs. You’ll brown them first until that crispy coating sets, then they’re finished off in the oven.

meatball parmesan

Depending on the size you make you can serve them as a main with a nice green vegetable or salad on the side, place them on top of pasta or you might simply want to stuff them into a crunchy baguette for a delicious sandwich.

sauced meatballs

Your family will love the fact that you turned the classic chicken parm into a meatball, how can they resist! Crispy on the outside with melted mozzarella oozing on the inside, every bite is amazing!

 

stuffed meatball

I hope you make this fun spin on the classic chicken parm!

5.0 from 3 reviews
Chicken Parm Meatballs, A Twist On The Classic
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • FOR THE MEATBALL MIXTURE
  • 2 lbs. ground chicken
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ medium onion, small dice
  • 2 heaping tablespoons each, parsley and basil
  • ¾ cup of grated parmesan cheese
  • ¾ cup panko bread crumbs
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • FOR THE BREADING MIX
  • 2 large beaten eggs
  • flour for dredging
  • panko breadcrumbs enough to coat your meatballs
  • *****
  • ½ lb. of dry mozzarella in a block so you can cut into ½ inch cubes
  • ½ lb. of fresh mozzarella, just so you can top each cooked meatball, you'll probably have some leftover
  • marinara sauce, enough for a dollop on each meatball and some warmed up to serve on your plate.
  • additional basil for garnish as well as extra marinara
  • Note: you do not simmer these meatballs in a pot of sauce like traditional ones, you want to keep them crispy
Instructions
  1. Mix up the meatballs with ingredients listed.
  2. Form them into size the meatballs you like then push the cubed mozzarella into each one, making sure the meat covers the cheese.
  3. I got 10 meatballs with the 2lbs.
  4. Have your breading station set up with the flour, egg and panko.
  5. Lightly dredge each meatball into the flour dusting off excess, then into the egg, then finally the panko, making sure to coat the whole meatball all around.
  6. In a nonstick heated fry pan drizzle in some olive oil, fry the meatballs making sure to get all sides golden and crispy.
  7. Transfer them to a casserole dish and into a 400 degree oven for around 10 minutes, then pull them out, top with a dollop of marinara on each as well as a piece of the fresh mozzarella, then back into the oven for an additional 5 or so minutes so they can finish cooking on the inside and the cheese melts on top.
  8. Garnish with chopped basil.
  9. Serve with some warm marinara on the side.

 

Signature

Cannellini Beans from Scratch is Well Worth The Effort

stewed beans

Making beans from scratch might take you a little longer but there is absolutely no comparison to the taste, texture and flavor that results. If you’re like most people you have a pantry stocked with canned beans, I do myself, it often allows you to pull together a quick meal during the week, but when you want to slow it down and create an epic meal, dried beans is where it’s at!

The cannellini beans above were slow simmered, infused with aromatics then stewed together with a garlic, tomato and sage sauce. This is a meal in itself, it’s rustic with so much flavor and perfect texture, and the star of this dish are the beans that were made from scratch with some of the dreamy broth it produces as a bonus!

soaking beans

Make it easy on yourself, soak the beans overnight, all you have to do is give them a good rinse, fill a pot with cold water with enough to cover them, pop a lid on and go to bed.

There is a quick soak method out there where you boil the beans for a couple of minutes first, then remove them from the heat, cover and let them sit for an hour. then cook. I’ve tried that method, it didn’t go so well for me, but I much prefer the end result from soaking them overnight.

overnight beans

When you wake up you’ll see how much they puffed up, then you’ll want to drain them and give them a good rinse.

drained beanssimmered beans

Then the fun begins, place the rinsed beans into the pot with fresh water that covers them again. You’ll want to infuse those beans with aromatics, I used a half a bulb of garlic, a handful of fresh sage and my favorite ingredient, a Parmigiano Reggiano cheese rind.

Let’s talk about the cheese rind for a second, you need to have this ingredient for this recipe! You might have your own stash of rinds tucked away in your freezer from cheese you’ve used, if not you can ask your cheesemonger if they would sell you some. I can easily get them from my local Whole Foods, they sell 3 or 4 in a bundle and I’m always impressed how much of a chunk of the cheese they leave on each rind, and that’s what you want, a rind that has some of the cheese still attached.

cooked beans finished

Bring those beans to a boil then reduce the heat to a slow simmer with a lid on top. Mine took almost 2 hours for a pound of cannellini beans but the best way to test them is to taste after about an hour, if they’re still tough continue cooking. Make sure not to rush them or overcook them, you don’t want mushy beans, they should be slightly Al dente.

cannellini beans cooked

The end result should have a slight bite with a soft creamy center.

Now it’s time to remove the cheese rind, sage and just the peels of the garlic because all the cloves will have fallen inside and melted in and produced the most dreamy tasting broth!

cooked beans

This bean dish was such a hit, I can’t imagine it being made with canned beans, it just wouldn’t be the same. The aromatics along with the cheese rind infuses the beans with so much flavor!

toast and beans

Eat them as a side dish or my favorite way is to scatter them on top of toasted crusty bread, each bite is out of this world good!

jarred beans

The other benefit of making beans from scratch is that you’ll probably have some left over, I got around 6 cups of cooked beans from a little over a pound of dried beans. You can tuck them away in your freezer and use them later in a multitude of other dishes, or if you’re like me you’ll make this rustic stewed tomato and bean dish again and again!

4.0 from 1 reviews
Cannellini Beans from Scratch
 
The bean preparation was my own but the actual stewed bean and tomato dish was adapted from the blog "How To Feed A Loon" I tweaked some amounts and additions.
Author:
Ingredients
  • FOR THE BEANS
  • 1 lb. bag of dried cannellini beans
  • a small handful of sage
  • ½ whole garlic bulb
  • 1 Parmigiano Reggiano cheese rind with some cheese still attached
  • FOR THE STEWED BEANS WITH TOMATOES, GARLIC AND SAGE
  • 4 heaping cups of the cooked dried beans
  • ⅓ cup of olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup white wine
  • ⅓ cup of the bean broth
  • 6 sage leaves, chopped fine
  • 1 28 oz.of whole San Marzano tomatoes, drained of all liquid and crushed by hand
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • olive oil drizzle
Instructions
  1. Soak the beans overnight.
  2. Drain the beans in the morning then refill the pot with cold water covering the beans.
  3. Infuse the water with your aromatics of sage, garlic and 1 cheese rind.
  4. Bring the beans to a boil, then cover and reduce to a low simmer.
  5. Times vary but you’re looking for a creamy soft inside with a slight bite on the outside. ( mine took almost 2 hours, so keep checking).
  6. When beans are done remove the aromatics, they did their job and keep all that luscious broth as well it's liquid gold!
  7. FOR THE STEWED BEAN DISH
  8. In a large skillet add the olive oil, then add the garlic and chopped sage, cook til golden.
  9. Add the wine and let it evaporate.
  10. Scoop in the beans, along with the flavored broth.
  11. Squeeze in the drained tomatoes.
  12. Season with salt and pepper.
  13. Toss in 3 whole sage leaves and let it simmer until the sauce thickens up a bit and reduces, you don't want a soupy consistency.
  14. When finished drizzle with olive oil.
  15. Serve as a side or on toasty bread.
  16. If you have extra beans you can freeze them or use for another dish, or make this again!

 

Signature

Healthy Fresh Salmon Cakes

salmon cakes

January is the month that everyone wants to do a reset in the eating department, we’ve enjoyed all our goodies during the holidays and now it’s time for some healthier eating.

If  eating salmon is on your regular meal rotation I encourage you to change things up and make these salmon cakes instead of the usual filets.

salmon patties

If you’re a salmon lover these cakes will soon win you over. Tender, juicy chunks of salmon on the inside, lightly crunchy on the outside with no heavy fillers that mask the actual salmon taste and oh so flavorful, they are amazing!

chopped up salmon

The reason these salmon cakes are so scrumptious is that they’re made with fresh salmon, not canned, it really makes a big difference in taste and over all texture. If you check out some recipes on the Internet you’ll find that many salmon cakes are made with cooked, fresh salmon. I prefer forming them in the raw state, like you would a burger, I feel they retain their juiciness that way.

salmon cake ingredients

The added ingredients which are vegetables are diced small, sautéed then mixed into the fresh chopped salmon. You can do this all ahead of time getting your prep work done because they take no time at all to cook.

Stick with wild caught salmon rather than farmed, I can always find it available here. I once discussed this topic with my fish monger at Whole Foods because they do sell farm raised there, but he went into deep length saying that their farm raised salmon is sustainable and ethical and raised the right way so that might be another option for you.

mixed ingredients

After the sautéed veggies cool down they get gently mixed into the salmon along with some added spice and binding agents with no need for eggs.

formed salmon cake

A key tip is to form all the salmon cakes then refrigerate them for at least 2 hours, even overnight if you wish. This firms them up and they’re able to keep their shape when cooked. I would not recommend forming them and cooking immediately, they won’t be sturdy enough.

tray of salmon cakes

I like to use a three inch biscuit cutter that I have to form the salmon cakes. I place the form on the pan I’m going to stick in the fridge, spoon the mixture inside filling to an inch deep, press it compact then I lift the biscuit cutter right off and a perfect shape is formed.

formed salmon patties

After they’re chilled they lift off easily with a spatula.

cooked salmon patties

I like to crisp up the top and bottom on the stove top first, then finish them off in the oven.

plated salmon cake

All you need is the a little tartar sauce, a squeeze of lemon and a nice salad on the side and you’re on your way to a healthier and very tasty January!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Healthy Fresh Salmon Cakes
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1-1/2 lbs. fresh salmon or 4 filets, skin removed. hand chopped into small chunks ( I was able to make 7 cakes with that amount)
  • 1 celery stalk, small dice
  • ¼ onion, small dice
  • 2 green onions, sliced small
  • 2 small mini red peppers or half of a large red pepper, small dice
  • 1 yellow mini pepper or ¼ of a large, small dice
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon capers, rinsed
  • a pinch of cayenne
  • ½ teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
  • 1 large garlic clove, chopped fine
  • 1 heaping tablespoon chopped parsley
  • ⅓ cup full fat mayo
  • ⅓ cup panko bread crumbs and a little extra to coat the top and bottom of the cakes
  • 1 heaping tablespoon of Djon mustard
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Drizzle the bottom of a small sauté pan with olive oil and toss in all the diced veggies, onions, peppers, celery and garlic, cooking until translucent. Turn off heat and let them cool down completely.
  2. Into a bowl add the chopped salmon, the cooled down veggies, the mayo, zest, breadcrumbs and Djon and a little salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Gently toss well to incorporate ingredients.
  4. Form your salmon cakes into 3x1 inch deep patties. Note: I use a biscuit cutter to form mine as stated in the post.
  5. Refrigerate the salmon cakes for at least 2 or more hours for best results, I would not form and then cook them right away.
  6. When it's time to cook, heat the oven up to 450F.
  7. Drizzle the bottom of an oven proof skillet with olive oil.
  8. Pour some panko breadcrumbs on a flat plate and press the bottom and top of each salmon cake into it then into the heated skillet.
  9. When each cake is lightly golden on each side place the oven proof skillet into the oven and finish it off, anywhere to around 6 or 8 additional minutes, oven vary so you be the judge.
  10. Serve with a squeeze of lemon and tartar sauce, or an aioli of your choice.
  11. NOTE; I had some leftover and the next day I heated them at 350 just until warm and they were still great.

 

Signature

Creamy Feta Dip with Toasted Pita Chips

feta and pita

Everyone needs a go-to dip to have for a special occasion, one that requires little work but tastes like a million bucks! NYE is a couple of days away and then game day will be right around the corner, so I thought it would be the perfect time to introduce this creamy feta dip with toasted pita chips.

dip

This dip is so creamy and full of flavor, a little swipe goes a long way. Feta cheese is the shining star along with Greek yogurt and some cream cheese, it’s the perfect blend for a nice smooth dip.

The feta dip itself can be served with an array of fresh sliced veggies, for a healthier version or with my favorite dipper, these toasted pita chips.

cutting pita

I was introduced to this way of preparing the pita chips by a friend of mine years ago, she made it for a girls lunch and we just couldn’t tear ourselves away from them. The chips are thin and crispy but yet sturdy enough to hold up well when dipping.

I’ve made them many times since and they’re always a hit!

One bag of pita yields so many chips! You’re going to cut the pita into 6 or 8 strips with scissors, then snip the tops and end off so you can open it up.

separate. pita

One strip will give you 2 thin pieces. So for 1 whole pita you can get 12 to 16 chips out of it, so if you do a whole bag that’s quite a few chips!

brushed olive oil

Then place the inside rougher side up on a baking sheet and brush each strip with oregano infused olive oil.

pita crackers

I think what makes these so special is definitely the shape and the thinness, as opposed to the thicker triangle shaped ones, and of course the olive oil flavor coming through. I can’t say enough about these dippers, they’re amazing!

They’re the perfect accompaniment to the creamy feta dip. But don’t get me wrong, honestly they go well with any dip! Think crab, shrimp, hummus, white bean, onion, spinach artichoke, I could go on and on.

feta dip

I garnished the top of my dip with olive oil, parsley, red pepper flakes, pistachios and olives but be creative and do what you like.

can of pita

I would encourage you to take the time and make these chips, you won’t be disappointed, it’s the ultimate combo along with the creamy feta dip.

They can be made well in advance and they stay perfect for up to 3 weeks, that is if they last that long! Once you put them out you’ll see them disappear!

I like to store them in a tin can layered between wax paper.

Enjoy!

Creamy Feta Dip with Toasted Pita Chips
 
This dip recipe can be doubled because it stays very well in the fridge, and the dipper chips can be made well in advance.
Author:
Ingredients
  • 8 oz. feta, good quality Greek in brine, patted dry
  • 4 oz. full fat cream cheese, room temp
  • ¼ cup full fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons of oregano infused olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 small garlic clove, grated
  • FOR THE TOASTED PITA CHIPS
  • 1 bag of fresh, Greek pita
  • ¾ cup of olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
  • a light sprinkling of kosher salt to top the chips before toasting
Instructions
  1. In a small bowl add the oil and oregano together and let it sit for 15 minutes to infuse.
  2. Then in food processor first add the feta to break it down, then add in the cream cheese, yogurt, lemon juice and garlic.
  3. Give it all a whirl until it's nice and creamy.
  4. Remove from processor and place into a serving bowl and garnish with a little of the olive oil, parsley, lemon zest, olives or whatever you like.
  5. If making the pita chips, take 1 pita at a time, with a scissor cut 6 to 8 strips then snip the top and bottom off of each strip so you can gently open up the pita and have 2 pieces. (See blog post for example)
  6. Continue cutting the pita into chips then brush each one on the inner rough side with the oregano infused olive oil.( see blog post for visual)
  7. Place onto a rimmed baking sheet, sprinkle them all lightly with a little kosher salt, then into a 400 degree oven for 7 or 8 minutes until golden. Ovens vary so watch closely, you want them golden not burnt, they cook fast.
  8. Remove chips and place on a rack to cool.
  9. Chips can be stored in a tin can layered between wax paper for up to 3 weeks.

 

Signature

Luxurious Pasta With Vodka Cream Sauce

pasta and vodka cream sauce

If you want mid week rave reviews on a dinner served or if you just want to wow your guests with something special, this is the dish for you! Serve them this luxurious pasta with vodka cream sauce.

This sauce tastes like you spent hours cooking it on the stove, but you really didn’t. It has a deep, rich flavor with a silky and luxurious texture that coats the pasta inside and out in every groove.

Speaking of pasta I recommend using mezzi rigatoni, it’s the shorter version of traditional rigatoni, go for the one with the ridges.

Don’t get me wrong you can use other shapes, I’ve made it with penne pasta before, but my heart belongs to mezzi!

vodka sauce ingredients

Get yourself a bottle of vodka that has a nice smooth character to it, you don’t want to use anything too harsh. Right now I’m enjoying Trader Joe’s TX vodka it’s 6 times distilled and it really pairs well with this sauce. (not sponsored).

Have your ingredients ready to go and your salted water boiling and you’re on your way to a fantastic meal!

saute onions and garlic

Onions and garlic are the foundation to this sauce but the star of the show is tubed tomato paste!

tomato paste

Triple concentrated tomato paste to be exact, this is the game changer to this recipe! No more cans of tomatoes, no more doctoring up a marinara sauce with cream, no chopped tomatoes added, nothing!

Triple concentrated tomato paste is the secret ingredient!

deglazed

Let the tomato paste cook down a bit, then you’ll deglaze it with the vodka. Now is the time to start cooking your pasta.

heavy cream

You’ll be adding pasta water and heavy cream together stirring and stirring until it reaches a vibrant pink color.

 

creamy sauce

Like this!

pasta

Now add in your pasta (al dente) and incorporate all that sauce with the pasta really well.
sprinkling cheese

Shut the burner off and sprinkle in the cheese and toss gently.

pasta and vodka sauce

Now get a big scoop so you can fill your plate!

pasta

Add more cheese of course and a sprinkling of parsley, after you take one bite you’ll know exactly what I mean.  This sauce is to die for!

You’ll want to make it often and the best part is that it comes together so quickly, so make sure you have a full bottle of vodka and tubes of tomato paste on hand.

If you want to go all out and show off a little, you can sear up a few scallops to have on the side, but honestly a little green salad would be perfect!

pasta and sauce

You need this in your life!

eaten pasta

Enjoy!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Luxurious Pasta With Vodka Cream Sauce
 
Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit
Author:
Ingredients
  • ½ lb. mezzi rigatoni with ridges, or penne with ridges
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 3 oz. triple - concentrated tomato paste in a squeeze tube
  • ¾ cup of grated parmesan cheese, more for plated garnish
  • 2 oz. vodka ( smooth character )
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup or so of reserved pasta water
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • olive oil
  • parsley for garnish
Instructions
  1. Start your water boiling for the pasta, make sure it's salted
  2. Have all your ingredients ready to go.
  3. Drizzle olive oil into a heavy bottomed pan.
  4. Saute the onion and garlic until the onion starts to brown around the edges, could take 5 or so minutes.
  5. Squeeze tomato paste in along with red pepper flakes.Sir well until the paste coats the onion.
  6. Continue stirring until the paste reaches a deep red color and starts to brown on the bottom of the pan, around 5 or so minutes.
  7. Add the vodka and deglaze the pan, stirring to incorporate, reduce heat to low.
  8. Using a heatproof measuring cup scoop ¼ cup of the boiling water from the pot, then add all the cream to the hot water, this will temper the cream so it doesn't break when added into the sauce.
  9. Slowly add the warm cream into the pot, stirring to incorporate.
  10. Remove from heat for a few minutes.
  11. Add the pasta to the pot of boiling water and cook it al dente according to box instructions.While pasta is boiling, add a little pasta water so it's not so thick.
  12. Reserve a good cup of the pasta water to add to sauce to thin out later if needed.
  13. When cooked, transfer the pasta into the sauce pot using a spider (as pictured in post).
  14. Toss everything together, adding pasta, then the grated cheese, plus enough of the pasta water to have the right consistency.
  15. Sauce should be smooth, glossy and coating each piece of the pasta, not runny.
  16. Toss in some chopped parsley.
  17. Garnishing each plate with a drizzle of olive oil, cheese and more parsley.
  18. Enjoy!

 

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Ham Bone Split Pea Soup

split pea

Let’s face it, most families don’t often make a bone in, baked ham on their weekly rotation of meals, but on special holidays it’s often the star of the show.

Thanksgiving was a just a few days ago and ham was on the menu at my sister-in-laws house. Since she didn’t feel like doing anything with the ham bone she wrapped it up, rang my doorbell and gifted it to me!

ham bone

Lucky me, there was still a lot of meat left on the bone so split pea with ham was surely going to happen! If you’ve never made split pea using a ham bone, you’re missing out. It gives it a ton of flavor and elevates the soup to another level, even pea haters love this soup!

sofrito

Just a few ingredients to start the soup off, then it’s a nice slow simmer so all the flavors can meld together.

making soup

Grab a big pot with a lid and nestle the ham bone right into the center, then in a couple of hours you’ll be able to pick the meat off the bone.

pot of soup

As you stir the soup while it’s simmering the peas will break down and become nice and creamy!

split pea

Just the smell of of this soup simmering on the stove makes your home feel all comfy and cozy, it’s such a hearty and satisfying soup.

croutons

Keep in mind, you need something crunchy on top for garnish. So if you have any leftover bread, please make your own croutons. I had some leftover ciabatta bread that I cut up in cubes, drizzled it well with olive oil, then sprinkled it with salt and pepper then into a 400 degree oven til nice and golden.

hearty soup

Crunchy croutons on top of such a hearty, creamy, smokey, meaty delicious soup, I could go on and on!

There are many variations of this soup, some add potatoes ,but I don’t think you need them at all. Some add bacon instead of a ham bone, it may be good, but it’s just not the same. There are vegetarian versions but today we’re not going there. Try this once with a ham bone and you’ll be hooked!

Ham bones freeze well so if you don’t feel like making this right away, tuck it into your freezer for when you do.

And lastly this soup freezes well, so don’t be afraid to make a big batch!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Ham Bone Split Pea Soup
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 meaty ham bone, make sure to leave meat on that bone
  • 1- 1lb. bag of green split peas, rinsed well
  • 1 quart of chicken stock, low sodium
  • 5 cups, water ( more to thin out soup if it thickens too much later)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 4 celery stalks, chopped
  • 6 thyme branches, stripped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • olive oil
  • good knob of butter
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Homemade croutons for garnish
Instructions
  1. In a large stock pot with lid, drizzle the bottom with olive oil and add the knob of butter.
  2. Throw in the chopped onion, carrots, celery and garlic, saute til soft.
  3. Add the split peas and stir well.
  4. Sprinkle in the thyme leaves along with the 2 bay leaves and a grind of black pepper.
  5. Hold off on the salt until the end for taste because some hams tend to be saltier than others.
  6. Pour in the chicken broth then nestle the ham bone right in the center.
  7. Add additional cups of water, stirring well, then bring it to a boil, reduce, and let it simmer with lid on almost covered completely.
  8. Cooking times vary somewhere between an hour and a half to 2 hours, mine took almost 2 hours on very low. The peas will break down and get nice and creamy
  9. Keep checking and stirring.
  10. When you start to see the meat falling off the bone, remove the bone, let it cool a little then start picking the meat off and placing the shredded meat back into the pot.
  11. Discard bone.
  12. Taste for salt, pepper and thyme, adding more if needed. Always stirring to check for thickness.
  13. If need be, add a little more water for a looser soup. It's up to you on how thick you want your soup.
  14. Garnish with homemade croutons.
  15. Use a hearty style bread, cut into cubes, drizzled with olive oil, black pepper and a touch of salt.
  16. Place into a 400 degree oven until crispy and golden, it goes fast so keep checking.
  17. Enjoy!

 

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Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Sage and Brown Butter

squash gnocchi

Thanksgiving isn’t all about the turkey, yes turkey is all well and good, but to me Thanksgiving is all about the sides! One of my favorite sides are these butternut squash gnocchi.

I’ve been serving them for years at my Thanksgiving table. I normally make them a week or two ahead of time and have them tucked in my freezer until turkey day.

They may be small in size but not in flavor, they’re slightly sweet with the rich flavor of parmesan cheese running through every tender bite.

roasted squash

You start out by roasting your squash, roasting the squash adds to the depth of flavor, when tender and soft cool it down and then scoop out the pulp.

Next you’ll toss it into a food processor until it becomes nice and smooth without any lumps.

forming gnocchi

What I’ve learned over the years is that after processing the squash you’ll see that the squash holds onto some moisture, so a good thing to do is to toss the pureed squash into a sauce pan and cook it down until you see the moisture disappear, maybe five or ten minutes. When you cook some of the moisture out you won’t have to keep adding flour, which in turn could make them too heavy and doughy.

Then you’ll want to make sure to cool the mixture down completely before you start mixing in the flour and other ingredients.

NOTE: I always test my gnocchi before I form all of them. I boil a few just to see if they stay together, this will ensure you that your mixture is sturdy enough and they won’t fall apart and become mushy in the water. Sometimes you might have to add a little more flour. This is a very important step!

 

making gnocchi

No doubt making gnocchi is a labor of love but I can tell you it’s worth every bit of the time it takes, and remember you can make them ahead at your convenience.

butternut squash gnocchi

There is no ricotta or potato added to these gnocchi, it is straight up butternut squash that’s permeating  throughout these tender bundles.

boiled gnocchi

Gnocchi take very little time to cook, always place them into salted boiling water, as soon as they float up to the top they’re basically done. Never ever pour them into a big strainer, you need to hand scoop them out like shown in thee picture above. Gnocchi are very delicate.

pan of gnocchi

A quick toss into toasty brown butter flavored with frizzled sage, if you want you can add a touch of pasta water to loosen the sauce up a bit.

Brown butter sauce is the perfect compliment to these delicious gnocchi!

Thanksgiving plate

My Thanksgiving plate from years past where’s there’s always room for the butternut squash gnocchi, and I should say that the leftovers are just as good the next day!

Butternut Squash Gnocchi with Parmesan, Sage and Brown Butter
 
Butternut squash with hints of parmesan in every tender bite!
Author:
Ingredients
  • FOR THE GNOCCHI
  • 1 large butternut squash, around 3 lbs. roasted then pureed to yield 2 cups
  • 1 heaping ½ cup of grated Parmigiano Reggiano plus extra for garnish
  • 1 large egg, whisked
  • 1 teaspoon, salt
  • pinch of black pepper
  • 2 plus cups of all purpose, unbleached flour
  • FOR THE BROWN BUTTER SAUCE
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter
  • a handful of fresh sage leaves
Instructions
  1. Carefully cut the squash in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds, drizzle each half with olive oil, salt and pepper and place onto a parchment lined baking sheet, cut side down, at 375 until tender and the tip of a knife goes through easily 40 minutes or so.
  2. Scoop the flesh of the squash out and place it into a food processor, puree until completely smooth with no lumps.
  3. Place pureed squash into a sauce pan on medium heat, stirring often to evaporate any moisture that might be showing up in the mixture.
  4. Next cool down that mixture completely, so place the pan into the fridge until completely cooled .
  5. Now you’re ready to start forming the gnocchi.
  6. In a bowl add the pureed squash with parmesan cheese, salt, pepper and egg.. Then add the flour little by little into the mixture and work together by hand. It will be very sticky, you might need to add more flour, or even less, just judge by the feel of the dough, you have to be able to roll it.
  7. Once smooth, flour the work surface, Divide dough into 6 pieces and then roll each piece into a long strip, about ½ inch wide. Cut the strip into ½ inch pieces.
  8. Using a gnocchi board, a fork, the back of a grater or just as is, to create ridges. Place each piece on floured wax paper and repeat with the rest of the dough.
  9. At this point you can freeze them in single layer until solid frozen then place the gnocchi into zip lock bags until ready to use.
  10. When ready to eat, have a large pot of salted water going, when boiling add the frozen gnocchi, (don't let the water boil so so hard, lower it a bit) when they float up to the top, they’re pretty much done, but you can test one to make sure. Always take them out of the water with a hand strainer like a Chinese spider, never pour them into a big strainer, gnocchi are delicate.
  11. You don't ever want your gnocchi to blow up and over cook, they should have a little bite to them.
  12. While the gnocchi is in the water cooking make your brown butter sauce by melting the butter over medium heat, when it starts to to smell nutty and turn golden brown toss in your sage leaves and let them fizzle.
  13. Take your gnocchi from the water with a hand strainer, gently and place them into the brown butter sauce, tossing till covered, If you want to loosen the sauce up a bit, add a little pasta water, then add more parmigiano.
  14. They're ready to eat now!

 

Signature

Cauliflower and Sausage Stuffing

cauliflower stuffing

Thanksgiving is only a couple of weeks away so it’s time to start talking and planning the big meal and side dishes. Do you have anyone you might be serving this Thanksgiving who is gluten free, keto or doing low carb, if so this is a great option.

Last year I made this cauliflower and sausage stuffing for a gluten free family member, not only she enjoyed it but everyone that tried it loved it, it definitely satisfies your stuffing desire.

It’s made similar to my traditional stuffing with all the same flavors going on except cauliflower florets replace the bread, but the nice thing is you’ll still get crispy bits along the edges ( my favorite part), with fresh and dried herbs mingled between the sausage and all the veggies.

low carb stuffing

I’ve always added breakfast sausage to our stuffing, preferably one flavored with extra sage, it’s tradition over here, so that’s what I’ve added in this cauliflower stuffing.

Feel free to add your favorite type of sausage or eliminate it all together. I do however suggest that you add in some mushrooms as I did to punch up the flavor and give it more bulk.

 

gluten free stuffing

There’s a little bit of prep before like browning the sausage and a quick saute of the veggies, but as far as the cauliflower goes you can toss it in raw as long as the florets are in bite size pieces.

Everything then goes into as buttered casserole dish, like a traditional bread stuffing. This can all be prepped a day or two ahead then popped into the oven with the rest of the other sides on the day your serving it.

cauliflower and sausage stuffing

When it comes out it looks like this, crispy and golden. The cauliflower takes on all the traditional flavors of a bread stuffing but without any bread!

A delicious option for all to enjoy!

Cauliflower and Sausage Stuffing
 
A nice option for those who are gluten free and those preferring to eat less carbs.
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 good size medium cauliflower cut into bite size florets
  • 1 lb. breakfast sausage like Jimmy Dean or Bob Evans, in bulk
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 4 or 5 celery stalks, diced
  • 8 oz. baby bella mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 stick of butter
  • ½ to ¾ cup of chicken stock
  • handful of chopped parsley
  • dried sage, thyme, poultry seasoning (optional) salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh sage leaves for garnish
Instructions
  1. Butter the inside of the casserole role dish you'll be using
  2. In a large skillet place remaining butter until it melts then saute the onions, garlic and celery until soft, then add the sliced mushrooms for a couple of minutes.
  3. Place all the sautéed veggies into a large bowl.
  4. Next brown up the sausage in the pan, breaking it up with a wooden spoon and cooking it until you see no pink.
  5. Drain the sausage on paper towels then toss it into the bowl with the sautéed veggies.
  6. Fold into the bowl the bite size cauliflower, raw. If you think its to big you can toss it into the skillet for a couple of minutes to take the rawness away.
  7. Add in the chopped parsley.
  8. Add in the spices, dried sage and thyme and poultry seasoning if using into the mix. Start with 1 teaspoon each and then taste for your preference, adding more if you like plus the salt and pepper.
  9. Place everything into the buttered casserole dish, then distribute the broth all around.
  10. Top with a few fresh sage leaves for garnish.
  11. At this point it's all prepped and you can refrigerate it 1 to 2 days ahead.
  12. When you’re ready to serve, heat oven to 400 degrees.
  13. lightly foil the dish for 15 minutes then remove the foil and continue roasting until cauliflower is tender, golden, the sausage edges have crispy bits.
  14. Ovens do vary so keep checking every 15 minutes or so, you can also stick it under the broiler for a few minutes at the end to get desired golden look if needed.

 

Signature

Kabocha Squash With Parmesan Cream And Thyme

4 squash

I can’t think of a better side dish to have this fall, one that includes kabocha squash. Have you tried it yet? Kabocha is a rich tasting squash and it tastes like a cross between a sweet potato and pumpkin, it’s vitamin rich and even low in carbs.

This dish is foolproof to make, when the squash is cut into quarters and the seeds scooped out ( which you can roast) it becomes the perfect vessel to hold the parmesan and thyme cream sauce.

This can easily be served during the week or set out on a platter for the holidays.

market squash

You might be intimidated and think how am I going to cut this! Well you definitely have to be safe. One way is you can stick the whole squash in your microwave for a couple of minutes to soften it, doing that will make it much easier to cut.

What I often do is take my knife, make a slit then cover the top of the blade with a tea towel, then take a mallet and pound it until it breaks through, it’s very safe that way and no fingers are involved.

parmesan cream sauce

When parmesan and thyme meet together it’s a match made in heaven, the flavors meld together perfectly!

cream and thyme

Of course this sauce would work with acorn, honey nut and butternut squash as well but if you haven’t tried kabocha, I urge you to give it a try.

Kabocha Squash With Parmesan Cream And Thyme
 
The perfect fall side dish
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 kabocha squash cut into quarters, scooping out the seeds and pulp. Follow instructions on blog post above for a safe way to cut it.
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • ¾ cup of grated parmesan
  • 12 sprigs of thyme
  • salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Cut the squash into quarters then drizzle all sections with olive oil and sprinkling of salt and pepper. Place squash cut side down onto a parchment lined baking sheet and roast at 375F oven. When you see a rich golden color on the outer edge flip the squash over.
  2. In the meantime mix together the heavy cream, the parmesan and some thyme leaves.
  3. Then I like to transfer the squash into a baking dish where they fit somewhat tightly together, right side up, then gently spoon the cream sauce into the cavities.
  4. Place thyme sprigs all over each filled quarter.
  5. Place back into the oven until cream thickens and squash is tender.
  6. Depending on the size of your squash time varies , keep checking it.
  7. You made have leftover cream sauce or not enough again according to the size of your squash.
  8. Scoop and enjoy!

 

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How To Make A Star Shaped Stuffed Crusted Pizza

star pizza

Impress your friends and family my making this star shaped pizza. This pizza is shaped into an eight pointed star and each point is stuffed individually with a mix of cheese hidden inside, not only is it visually striking it’s the ultimate stuffed crusted pizza as well!

star pizza

Don’t be intimidated, this pizza is easy to make, just take your time and go over my tips and instructions a couple of times.

cut dough

You’ll need a half a pound of pizza dough to make one pizza, that will result in the look of a nicely shaped star, so just think from one pound you can make two of these beauties!

You’ll want to actually roll this dough out with a rolling pin, no pressing down with your fingers like a traditional pizza. The dough has to be flat all the way to the end for best results with the stars tips.

stuffed star points

Aim for a ten to twelve inch circle, I like rolling my dough circle on parchment, then I just plop it over onto my lightly oiled and slightly dusted with cornmeal, pizza pan.

Then using a sharp knife make eight two inch slits from the end of the circle towards the center, be careful not to go more than two inches, it won’t look as nice, plus you need room in the center for your toppings as well.

So again you want eight cuts all together like the marks on a clock.

Within those eight sections is where you’ll place your cheese for the crust. I used a mix of shredded mozzarella and ricotta. Keep in mind cheese when melted spreads, so less is more to protect it from breaking open and oozing out all over.

stuffed crust pizza

Here’s where you can get creative, use whatever mix of cheese you want as well as the toppings you prefer in the center.

pizza

This pizza was a simple margarita style with tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella in the center with a nice drizzle from my stash of basil pesto that I have in my freezer.

corner piece pizza

A fun pizza to make and eat, just grab an end and share it with the people you love!

5.0 from 1 reviews
How To Make A Star Shaped Stuffed Crusted Pizza
 
Margarita style star shaped pizza
Author:
Ingredients
  • ½ lb. of prepared pizza dough, room temperature
  • ½ cup ricotta and ½ cup of shredded mozzarella mixed together with salt and pepper to taste
  • tomato sauce for center of pizza, a cup or so
  • 2 or 3 slices of fresh mozzarella, torn up
  • 1 or 2 tablespoons basil pesto or fresh torn basil
  • olive oil
  • dusting of cornmeal or polenta for pan preparation
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 500F.
  2. Prepare your pan by drizzling olive oil all over and a dusting of cornmeal or polenta for a crispy crust.
  3. Roll your dough out on parchment into a 10 or 12 inch circle, flat all the way to the ends.
  4. Then pick up your parchment and plop the dough round onto prepared pan, straightening it out if need be.
  5. With a sharp knife make an incision 2 inches long 8 times, like the marks on a clock face, be careful to not go over 2 inches.
  6. Within those 8 sections place a scant teaspoon of the ricotta and shredded mozzarella mixture, be careful not to overstuff because it will be hard to seal each point. ( see post for visual )
  7. Then pick up the corners of each section that is filled and start pinching the dough together from the point to the center to form a triangle. The edge of the triangle shape should point outwards, and as you continue doing it you'll create an 8 pointed star shape all around.
  8. Then fill the center with your sauce and fresh mozzarella and a quick drizzle of olive oil on top.
  9. Place into the hot oven for around 15 minutes.
  10. Garnish the pizza with basil pesto or fresh torn basil.
  11. Pull apart and share!

 

Signature

Butternut Squash Pasta With Sage And Parsley Breadcrumbs

pasta and squash

This is an easy fall dinner meal using my favorite butternut squash, it is after all squash season. It’s amazing how many meals you can create using squash, it’s so versatile, I never tire of it, plus meatless meals are good for you!

cooked squash

I had a medium sized butternut squash that I peeled then cut into one inch chunks, drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted in a 400F oven til golden and pretty much of the moisture gone.

Now if you do this a day ahead or early in the day this meal can be on your table in no time, which I recommend.

pasta ingredients

Then your going to grab a good handful of fresh parsley as well as fresh sage leaves, and nicely chop them up.

breadcrumbs

Then take a sauté pan and add a nice dollup of butter and a healthy swirl of olive oil. Add one or two crushed garlic cloves along with roughly 2 cups of (preferably) homemade bread crumbs. Toast them up really good then add in your chopped herbs along with a generous half a cup or so of grated parmesan cheese.

Taste if salt and pepper is needed, set aside in a bowl, you’ll be tossing them in at the end and you’ll want them to stay crispy.

Please don’t worry about exact measurements!

breadcrumb pasta

Then boil the pasta of your choice, I used 1/2 pound of  linguine but you can use any shape at all. Chunky rigatoni, orecchiette, ziti, pappardelle, what ever, I just wouldn’t use tiny shapes.

squash and pasta

Lastly take the sauté pan that you toasted the bread crumbs in, drizzle it with olive oil, warm up your cooked squash if need be then toss in your cooked pasta and maybe a little pasta water to loosen it up.

Shut off the heat, top and toss the crispy breadcrumbs right in, add some more parmesan and a nice drizzle of olive oil and garnish with some fried sage leaves for a nice presentation, serve immediately.

It’s really very quick and simple to do and so delicious!

 

Enjoy

Signature

Mushroom Galette With Roasted Garlic And Thyme

galette

A galette is a rustic, freeform pie/tart which can be savory or sweet. They’re super simple to make and the finished results are very impressive!

This savory tart is filled with roasted cremini and oyster mushrooms with a bulb of roasted garlic smashed into it with hints of fresh thyme. There’s also a three cheese mix of asiago, parmesan and mozzarella melted into it.

Keep in mind you’re free to use any mix of mushrooms you like as well as any mix of cheese you prefer, that is the fun thing about making galettes, do your own thing, make your own combo, this is just a guideline for what I used, which happened to be very successful and delicious!

You can make your own pie crust or even buy a good quality one to make life easier. I’ll let you in on a little secret…  I used a Trader Joe pie crust for this, but every time I use it I make sure to ball up the dough first then I roll it out to the size I want, I never just take it out of the package and use it as is.

If you prefer to make a homemade crust, here’s one that I make that would go very well with this mushroom galette.

roasted mushrooms

Roasted mushrooms always produce great flavor and even more so when you squeeze and smash roasted garlic into the mix.

roasted garlic

The garlic you can roast ahead of time, keeping it in the fridge and using it for multiple dishes as well as this one, it’s a nice treat to have tucked away.

mushroom galette

Another reason I’m such a fan of galettes is that you always get a nice, crispy crust all the way around and on the bottom with each and every slice.

sliced galette

The flavor combination of this rustic, stress free dinner is out of this world good, so good we couldn’t wait to have the leftovers the next day!

I hope you make this heavenly mushroom galette, it’s the perfect fall meal!

Mushroom Galette With Roasted Garlic And Thyme
 
Rustic, freeform and super impressive!
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 pastry pie crust, either homemade or good quality store bought
  • 1- ½ lbs. of cremini mushrooms, sliced and roasted
  • ½ lb. oyster mushrooms, sliced and roasted (Can use all of one kind or a mix of others)
  • 1 whole bulb of roasted garlic
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • ½ cup shredded asiago
  • 2 heaping tbl. grated parmesan, plus a little extra for garnishing
  • thyme sprigs
  • olive oil
  • 1 egg for egg wash
Instructions
  1. Pre-roast your garlic ahead of time by cutting off the top portion of a whole bulb, placing it in tin foil and dowsing it with olive oil, some salt and pepper and a couple of thyme sprigs. Wrap it up and place into a 350F. oven around 30- 40 minutes or til golden and soft.
  2. Pre-roast mushrooms in 400F. oven sprinkled with thyme leaves and drizzled with olive oil, roast until all the moisture is out and they start to caramelize.
  3. When mushrooms are done and while the pan is still hot, squeeze and smash in the whole bulb of roasted garlic, tossing gently til incorporated, taste if salt and pepper is needed.
  4. On a piece of parchment that will fit a baking sheet, roll out your pastry to around 12 inches, then place the whole thing onto a rimmed baking sheet.
  5. Sprinkle the cheese mixture on the bottom of the pastry leaving an inch and a half border all around, reserve 2 tablespoons of the cheese mixture to dot on top of galette.
  6. Spread the mushrooms all around the top of the cheese mixture, covering it completely.
  7. Fold up the edges of the dough all around the filling.
  8. Put reserved tablespoons of cheese on top of mushrooms dotting it in sections. ( it just makes it look pretty when finished).
  9. Whisk egg then brush the folded up edge with it, you'll have leftover egg for sure.
  10. Sprinkle some thyme on the crust edge along with grated parmesan and black pepper.
  11. Top galette with 2 or 3 sprigs of thyme and pop it into a 400F. oven for around 30 to 40 minutes or until deep golden on bottom and crust, all ovens do vary.
  12. Serve warm or at room temp.
  13. Enjoy!

 

Signature

Squash And Ricotta Rustic Tart

squash tart

As soon as the weather starts to change into cooler days and nights, I’m in the stores buying squash. Squash of any kind is so versatile and you can create so many healthy and delicious meals with it.

Tarts are the perfect way to showcase winter squash, it can be served as a meatless main dish or a tasty appetizer or side, either way you can’t go wrong!

delicata squash

For this tart I paired creamy ricotta with delicata squash, delicata is easy to work with because the skin is nice and thin and totally edible, but you can certainly make this with butternut squash you just have to peel it first.

The crust is homemade ( which is a breeze to make in the food processor) and has the addition of polenta which gives it the ultimate crunch factor. As much as I like to buy pre-made crusts nothing compares to this one.

Topped with crispy sage and toasted pepitas, this tart screams FALL!

tart dough

I used two delicata squash, sliced them into half inch rounds then scooped out the seeds. Placed them onto a baking sheet and roasted them beforehand.

pre baked tart

Ready for the oven with a quick drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of parmesan before baking.

delicata tart

A crunchy crust with the creamy, cheesy filling of ricotta, topped with the sweet rich flavor of the delicata squash, it’s the ultimate combo!

If you want to try another version, here’s one I did a few years back, using different veggies with the same delicious crust.

squash tart

I hope you make this amazing tart and serve up a slice to your family and friends this fall season.

5.0 from 2 reviews
Squash And Ricotta Rustic Tart
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 2 delicata squash, cut into ½ inch rings with the seeds scooped out
  • FILLING
  • 1 cup ricotta, drained of moisture
  • 1 finely minced garlic clove
  • 2 eggs, 1 for the filling and 1 to brush on top
  • ½ cup of grated romano or parmesan cheese
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • DOUGH
  • 1 cup of all purpose flour (unbleached)
  • ½ cup of instant polenta or fine cornmeal
  • ½ teaspoon of salt and a pinch of black pepper
  • 6 tablespoons of cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • ¼ to ½ cup of ice water
  • fresh sage leaves
  • pepitas (optional)
Instructions
  1. Pre-heat oven to 400F
  2. Place rings of delicata onto a baking sheet drizzled with olive oil, salt and pepper, roast til lightly golden on each side, then remove and let them cool down.
  3. Prepare the dough in a food processor by pulsing the flour, polenta, salt and pepper together. Add the butter and process until combined. Then while the machine is running add the ice water down the tube a little at a time until the dough starts to come together in a ball. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for ½ hour.
  4. Meanwhile mix up the ricotta in a bowl along with the grated cheese, garlic, salt, pepper and 1 egg.
  5. Remove the dough from the fridge, let it sit at room temp for 15 minutes the on parchment roll it out to about 12 inches in diameter. Take your time rolling then place the whole thing onto a baking sheet.
  6. Spread the ricotta mixture onto the dough leaving a 2 inch border all around. Place your roasted squash on top all around. Fold the edges up and pleat where needed to seal it in good.
  7. Brush the crust with the remaining egg, you won't use it all.
  8. Sprinkle the edge with grated cheese, black pepper .
  9. Drizzle the top with olive oil.
  10. Bake around 35 minutes at 400F or until crust is deep golden and ricotta is set.
  11. To garnish the top, drizzle a bit of olive oil in a small pan and crisp up the sage and toss in pepeitas to get golden and arrange all over the finished tart.
  12. Enjoy!

 

Signature

Summer’s Last Hurrah With Fresh Figs

fig salad

Fresh figs are in peak season right now and if you’re a fig lover it’s time to take advantage of them as summer winds down. I’m sharing my two favorite ways to showcase them in a non-cook way with no recipe needed!

fig and burrata

Find yourself any variety of fresh figs that are available in your area, I used black mission here for this delicious salad of figs, prosciutto and burrata.

Grab a pretty platter and arrange prosciutto slices all around, next take a couple of balls of burrata cheese, gently break it open and dot it all around.

Place sliced figs, longwise on top of the prosciutto and burrata, drizzle with olive oil and balsamic glaze and top with sliced almonds and fresh basil leaves.

A little salt and pepper and that’s it!

 

figs

I promise you that you and your guests will enjoy every last bite!

fig boardfig appetizer

For a fun and very easy appetizer you must make this version of stuffed figs with goat cheese and ribbons of prosciutto. It’s finished off with a sweet honey drizzle and topped with a walnut piece. It’s a dreamy one bite delight!

fig and prosciutto

Cut the figs cross-wise from the top, halfway down the fruit and gently open it up like a blossom. Place some softened goat cheese right into the center, I used a honey goat cheese but you can also use gorgonzola and even ricotta works well, then tuck a piece of torn prosciutto right on top.

Place them onto a platter with some scattered leaves of arugula, top each fig blossom with a walnut piece or any nut of your choice then give a good drizzle of honey all over each fig, oh my this is so good!

fig and honey

Figs are said to be the nectar of the gods, I believe they are, enjoy them while they’re still here!

Signature

Summer Tomato Salad With Whipped Ricotta

whipped ricotta salad

It’s late August and summer tomatoes are in major abundance, all vine ripened and at the height of their flavor. Tomato salads have been a consent in my house, I’m either buying them or having them dropped off at my house by family or friends who have gardens of their own and their crop is overflowing. Believe me I’m not complaining, fall will be here before we know it!

There’s some salads that just stick out in your mind, I’ll be dreaming about this one in the dead of winter. What’s so special about this salad besides the vine ripened juicy heirlooms gracing the top, is that the base of this salad is a layer of whipped ricotta which has a hint of lemon zest and herbs folded into it.

tomatoes and ricotta

On top of the whipped ricotta there’s a salad layer of lemony arugula. One thing is certain, you must have crusty bread when you eat this! I’m telling you it’s a meal in itself!

whipping ricotta

You want to look for a dryer type ricotta, not one that has a lot of moisture, if that’s the only kind you can find then I would drain it for a couple of hours in a strainer.

Less than a minute in a food processor and the ricotta takes on a beautiful smooth consistency with a touch of olive oil drizzled in.

smooth ricotta

Parsley, basil and lemon zest was folded in for additional flavor.

tomatoes and whip ricotta

Slice up some colorful heirlooms and mix them in with other varieties and use the best extra virgin olive oil you have.

summer tomatoes and ricotta

I added some sliced red onion and olives to round it all out, it’s outrageous! Put this on a big platter and watch it disappear .

whipped ricotta

I hope you make this, but don’t forget the crusty bread please!

zucchini and whipped ricotta

If you find yourself with an abundance of zucchini, here’s another use for whipped ricotta, I did a post on this a while ago, zucchini ribbon salad with whipped ricotta.

Summer Tomato Salad With Whipped Ricotta
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • A variety of summer heirloom tomatoes, sliced. Enough to cover the ricotta. A variety of colors makes a nice presentation
  • 2 cups ricotta, on the dryer side, if too wet drain it for a couple of hours
  • Good olive oil for drizzling and to add to the ricotta
  • the juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 cups arugula, roughly
  • sliced red onion
  • olives for plating
  • parsley and basil a heaping tablespoon each, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • a loaf of crusty bread
Instructions
  1. FOR THE WHIPPED RICOTTA
  2. Place ricotta into the bowl of a food processor and add in 1 tablespoon and 1 teaspoon of olive oil, process for 30 seconds, or until smooth.
  3. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Scoop out into a bowl and fold in the zest and chopped herbs.
  5. Toss the arugula with lemon juice and olive oil.
  6. Spread whipped ricotta mixture onto a platter, drizzle top with olive oil, then topped with arugula salad, sliced tomatoes, sliced onions.
  7. Sprinkle the tomatoes with salt, then a good drizzle of olive oil all over, place olives all around.
  8. Place slices of crusty bread all around the platter.

 

Signature

White Pizza, Four Cheese With Summer Corn

summer dinner

Nothing screams summer more than fresh corn on the cob and beautiful summer garden tomatoes. I love a good white pizza, meaning no red sauce on top, it’s actually my favorite type of all, but I must confess in my years of making pizza I have never had or made a corn version, until now!

Yes, I have seen many photos of blogger friends ( Stacey Snacks) sitting in restaurants eating gorgeous summer pizzas showcasing fresh corn which I was very envious of because it’s not something I see here in the midwest at all.

Recently a family member dropped off some fresh corn from Wisconsin so I thought this would be a perfect time to make a white version of a corn pizza, and I’m so happy I did, and to say we loved it is an understatement!

  summer tomatoes

I also made an heirloom tomato salad to go along with it and it turned out to one one of our favorite summertime meals that I will repeat again and again!

corn pizza

At first glance this pizza may not look so fancy but don’t let that fool you, this pizza has so much flavor and texture. Nice crunchy dough topped with a combination of four cheeses, mozzarella, fontina, dreamy burrata and Parmesan, melted together it’s the perfect union!

summer pizza

The burrata cheese is scrumptious as it is, but when mingled with the corn it’s outstanding, but remember always use fresh shucked corn, never ever frozen.

corn and cheese pizza

I’ll look forward to making this pizza every summer, it’s now a top favorite and before this summer ends I’ll be making it again and again while corn is still at it’s peak.

If you’ve never had a corn pizza stop what you’re doing and make this now!

4.0 from 1 reviews
White Pizza, Four Cheese With Summer Corn
 
Recipe adapted from The Original Dish
Author:
Ingredients
  • 16 " round pizza pan
  • cornmeal for dusting pan along with olive oil
  • 1 pound ball of pizza dough, homemade or good quality store bought
  • 3 ears of fresh shucked corn, uncooked
  • 4 oz. shredded fontina cheese
  • 2 balls (not large) of burrata cheese
  • ¾ lb. of shredded mozzarella
  • a generous handful of grated parmesan, enough to spread all over the pizza
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • fresh basil leaves
  • red pepper flakes optional for garnish
Instructions
  1. Note: First and foremost it's important to get your dough to room temperature so it's easy to stretch out into the pan.
  2. Coat the bottom of your pizza pan with olive oil and a dusting of cornmeal, it keeps the bottom nice and crunchy.
  3. Stretch your dough onto the pan and place it into a hot prepared oven at 480 degrees for only 5 minutes, then remove it.
  4. If it bubbles up when you take it out pierce it a few times with a fork.
  5. Now add and spread all around your fontina and mozzarella cheese, then sprinkle your grated parmesan generously all over.
  6. Open up your burrata cheese and place dots of it all over the surface.
  7. Sprinkle the fresh, uncooked corn kernels all over the top, evenly spreading them all over the pizza surface.
  8. Season with salt and pepper and a drizzle with olive oil.
  9. Bake at 480 for around 15 minutes or until bottom of crust is deep golden and cheese is all melty.
  10. Garnish with fresh basil all around and optional red pepper flakes.
  11. Enjoy!

 

Signature

Summer Corn and Shrimp Fritters

fritters

Tis the season to make fritters! It’s summertime and everyones garden is bursting with fresh vegetables as well as the farmers markets and grocery stores. I’ve been seeing all sorts of fritters being made of broccoli, cauliflower, but the most popular in the summer are ones made with zucchini or corn.

Today we’re pairing shrimp with corn in a fritter. Summer fresh corn and shrimp go really well together and are the perfect combination, it takes on a high end kind of flavor experience.

 

shrimp and corn fritters

Crunchy on the outside, creamy on the inside with pops of sweet corn in every bite. Serve these for a midweek dinner and if you have leftovers they heat up well and are delicious for lunch, I’ve even made them for a fancy girls summer dinner party.

corn and shrimp

This recipe makes quite a few fritters, ten to twelve depending on the size. You can prep and form them early in the day then stick them into the fridge to get chilled before you pan fry them, these are not deep fried but rather requires just enough of a drizzle of oil to cover the bottom of a pan.

uncooked fritters

You can up the seasoning on the inside with smoked paprika, a cajun spice, some Old Bay seasoning or just leave it as in with the basic recipe, either way it’s all good!

shrimp and corn fritter

Golden brown and crispy ready to be dipped into a sauce of your liking. I’ve served them with a spicy and sweet chili sauce, a lemon aioli, a mango and peach chutney, believe me it’s all good!

Summer Corn and Shrimp Fritters
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 1 lb. shrimp, raw, peeled and deveined and patted dry
  • 3 medium ears of corn, shucked
  • 3 eggs, whisked
  • 3 green onions, sliced with a little bit of the green not all
  • 1 cup of AP flour
  • ¾ cup of shredded cheddar
  • 1 smashed garlic clove, large
  • basil and parsley a heaping tablespoon each, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Optional spice like smoked paprika, Old Bay, cajun, maybe a heaping teaspoon
  • olive oil for pan frying
Instructions
  1. Take ⅔ of the shrimp and place it into a food processor and pulse it into a paste, remove it with a spatula and place it into a large bowl.
  2. Take the remaining shrimp and roughly chop it into small pieces, then add to the bowl.
  3. Then add in the eggs, garlic, parsley, green onions, basil, seasoning, flour and cheddar, mix well then add in the shucked corn continuing to incorporate it all.
  4. Form the mixture into patty's.
  5. Refrigerate them for a couple of hours.
  6. When it's time to cook them remove patty's from fridge.
  7. Drizzle olive oil on the bottom of a heated non stick skillet and pan fry each side until nice and golden and fully cooked inside.
  8. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce like a lemon aioli, or a sweet and spicy chili sauce or even a peach or mango chutney.
  9. This recipe I was able to make 11 fritters, so anywhere between 10 and 12 you should yield.

 

Signature

Summers Magic Sauce, Basil Pesto Cream

summer basil

It’s no secret that I have fondness for fresh basil, I look forward to summertime when I can walk out into my garden and pick my own. This season has been particularly great for growing it as you can tell by my beautiful bounty pictured above, at least 2020 was good for something…

It’s mid July here and so far I’ve used my basil in so many different meals, plus I’ve already made pesto a couple of times, some for me and some for family and friends. I like making pesto, it can be used to enhance so many dishes, it’s so intense in flavor, I love it!

 

pesto swirl

One of my absolute favorite treats whenever I make basil pesto is to turn it into a cream sauce. Ok, let’s stop here and let me say that if you’ve never tasted a basil pesto cream sauce, you’re really missing out!

It’s beyond decadent and creamy and so delicious with seafood, meats, veggies, pasta, I could go on and on, and the best thing is, it’s super simple to make.

It’s definitely summers magic sauce!

homemade pesto

It all starts with the making of your own homemade basil pesto, very important, homemade. Here’s how I do it.

It’s so delicious because it’s filled with fresh basil leaves, quality parmesan cheese, garlic and toasted nuts. I guess you could use store bought in a pinch as long as it’s a good quality one, but I really recommend you making your own, it really makes a difference.

basil cream

There are very few ingredients used to make this luscious sauce, just your homemade pesto and some heavy cream, how easy is that?

Grab a pint of heavy cream, it must be heavy, pour it into a saucepan and simmer it low and slow until it starts to thicken, you’ll begin to see the cream bubbling along the edges of the pan.

When it thickens turn off the heat and start adding your prepared basil pesto, tablespoon by tablespoon whisk it in, it should be a nice balance between the pesto and the cream.

No need to add any other seasoning, it’s a wonderful marriage of the two. If you end up with some leftover sauce it heats up well the next day just put it on a low flame and maybe add a little more cream to loosen it up, but making it the day you’re going to use it is best.

basil cream scallops

I recently seared some scallops and placed them into a puddle of this scrumptious sauce, no words, pure deliciousness!

Think of it smeared on salmon, into your favorite pasta shape, roasted or grilled veggies and different meats, like I said, the possibilities are endless. I hope you make this magic sauce!

 

Signature

Creamy Polenta With Summer Garden Veggies

summer veggie polenta

Since I started this blog way back in 2007 ( next month will be 13 years!) I have posted many different polenta recipes, needless to say we adore polenta in our house.

If you do a search here on my blog you’ll find polenta muffins, polenta biscotti, a polenta tart, croutons, grilled polenta and many different ways to serve it with meat, eggs and various vegetables that are highlighted during the seasons.

 

polenta with veggies

Today I made a creamy polenta that showcases all the summer garden veggies like corn and zucchini that are readily available right now. It’s a fun and very delicious way to highlight both.

polenta ingredients

I use instant polenta which takes no time at all to cook up, and if you prep a few of the other ingredients ahead of time, this comes together quickly.

I roasted a pint of cherry tomatoes the other day and I had some grilled corn leftover from the weekend so I added zucchini and yellow squash and picked some fresh basil from my garden. Just a few ingredients makes such a spectacular meal, but this can also serve as a side dish with something you cook up on the grill.

I also like to serve this up alongside grilled shrimp, it’s such a nice combo!

whisking polentapolenta and veggies

So all you have to do is whisk up some creamy polenta, top it off with julienned strips of zucchini, smokey charred corn along with sweet, juicy roasted cherry tomatoes. Polenta tends to firm up after it sits for a while so if you have leftovers no problem, cut it into wedges and serve it like a pizza!

A summertime dish you won’t forget!

Creamy Polenta With Summer Garden Veggies
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 2 ears of grilled corn with planks cut off the cob, make some planks along with the kernals
  • 1 small zucchini, julienned
  • 1 small yellow squash, julienned
  • a squeeze of fresh lemon
  • 1 pint of cherry tomatoes, rainbow colored
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • fresh basil
  • olive oil
  • FOR THE POLENTA
  • 1 cup of instant polenta
  • 3 cups of chicken or vegetable broth preferably, or water
  • ½ cup parmigiano cheese
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped basil
  • additional ¼ cup or so of water to thin it out a bit if needed at the end
Instructions
  1. Prep your tomatoes by placing them whole on a rimmed baking sheet lined with foil. Drizzle generously with olive oil all over and sprinkle with salt and pepper, if made the day before just warm them up a bit the day of.
  2. Roast at 400 until they burst and all the juices mingle with the oil.
  3. Grill both ears of corn cutting the kernels off the cob and making some into planks, it looks nice when placed on top of the polenta.
  4. Julienne both zucchini and yellow squash then place into a bowl and add a squeeze of lemon and a little olive oil just to wilt them down a bit.
  5. MAKE THE POLENTA
  6. In a medium saucepan add the broth or water, get it to a boil and whisk in the polenta, now turn the heat down and let it cook til it thickens, it doesn’t take long.
  7. Shut off the heat and stir in the butter, chopped basil and parmigiano, taste for seasoning adding salt and pepper, maybbe more cheese.
  8. When polenta is finished pour it into your serving dish and "decorate" the top to your liking with all the ingredients including the green onion and extra sprinkle of basil and cheese for finishing. You'll probably have some leftover ingredients, especially the roasted tomatoes.Be sure to spoon some of the tomato oil on too.
  9. Serve immediately and enjoy!

 

Signature

Spice Encrusted Chicken Thighs With White Peaches

chicken with peaches

This is a quick summer dish to make when you see peaches starting to appear in the markets. Crispy, spice encrusted chicken thighs balanced with the sweetness of peaches creates such a wonderful flavor combination, and it’s made all in one pan!

I like using bone in, skin on chicken thighs, they stay nice and juicy even if you overcook them a little bit. But if you’re not a fan of thighs you can make it with chicken breasts, but again I would only recommend bone in and skin on, it really makes a difference in flavor.

white peaches

I was lucky enough to come across these beautiful white peaches the other day. White peaches have a creamy white flesh and taste just as sweet when they’re firm and crunchy as well as tree ripened.

Open up your spice cabinet and pull out some of your dried spices because that is what you use primarily for this dish, with a little fresh basil for garnish.

I usually make beer can chicken during the summer out on the grill,  I make it a couple of different ways but my family likes it when it’s all spiced up the best.

By spiced up I mean a blend of different dry spices rubbed all over a whole chicken, it’s delicious because the spices create a smoky, savory crust but it can get very messy while prepping it because you’re rubbing the spice mixture all over a propped up ( on a beer can) and vertical whole chicken.

 

spice encrusted chicken

In this version you’re using the same spice mix and placing it on top of the skin of the thighs, which results in that same crispy, smoky, savory crust and it takes about a half an hour or so to cook in your oven!

So grab some peaches when you see them, and of course you can sub in the classic yellow peach or even some sweet nectarines if you want, but if you do happen to come across some white peaches I hope you give them a try.

Sweet and spicy is always such a perfect combination!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Spice Encrusted Chicken Thighs With White Peaches
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 6 bone in skin on chicken thighs
  • 5 peaches, pit removed cut into quarters
  • SPICE MIX
  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 1 teaspoon each of oregano and thyme
  • ½ teaspoon each of granulated garlic, onion and salt
  • ¼ teaspoons fresh black pepper
  • fresh basil for garnish
  • olive oil
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 450 F.
  2. Mix up your spice blend in a small bowl and have it ready to go.
  3. Drizzle the bottom of a baking dish with olive oil.
  4. Place thighs in pan, skin side up and brush top with olive oil.
  5. Spoon the spice mix on top of each thigh covering the skin completely and using all the mix.
  6. Do a quick drizzle on top of each thigh.
  7. If you can, let it sit for 15 minutes or so to permeate the meat.
  8. Place pan into the oven and roast for 15 minutes then take out pan and place the cut peaches all around, then back into the oven for another 15 to 20 minutes or until temp insides reaches 165 to 170.
  9. The crispier the better, so a few minutes more won't hurt it at all, if using thighs.
  10. Let it rest for 10 minutes then garnish with a generous amount of fresh basil.
  11. Enjoy!

 

 

 

Signature

How To Grill An Herb Stuffed Pork Loin

pork roast

Grilling season is in full force and Father’s Day is just around the corner and so you might be thinking of something special to make, may I suggest grilling a pork loin. A pork loin is excellent to make on the grill if you’re having a small or large group, you can feed a crowd with a pork roast being the main course and then just  have some wonderful side dishes to serve along side it.

A pork loin has a much richer flavor because of the marbling throughout, as opposed to a very lean pork tenderloin.

A grilled pork loin that’s smothered with fresh herbs inside and out is easier than you think to make, plus it can be stuffed, rolled and tied a day ahead or hours before which makes for a stress free day of entertaining.

grilled pork roast

 

Ask your butcher what size roast you should get according to the amount of people that you’ll will be serving. Look for a pinkish red color when picking your fresh roast and one with some marbling, because as we know, fat = flavor.

herb paste

I used three herbs for my rub, sage, rosemary and thyme along with garlic and olive oil of course!

herb filled pork roast

If you have a smaller roast, two to three pounds, you can cut it down the center, lengthwise with a sharp knife, being very careful not to go all the way and cut through the bottom, then gently open it up like a book.

Cover the meat with plastic wrap and beat it all over with a meat mallet until it’s about a half inch thickness. If you have a larger roast, four to five pounds, you’ll have to be a little more precise in opening it up.  Here’s a good visual for details on the cutting.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s2Vl78vJMJ8

rolled and tied pork roast

It’s best to get the roast all prepped and ready for the grill ahead of time so all the flavors can marinate together as it sits in the fridge.

 

herb filled roastgrilled roast

The smell when it’s grilling is out of this world, your neighbors will be so jealous!

grilled pork roast

Each bite is jam packed with flavor and the pork retains all it’s juices.

Happy Grilling!

How To Grill An Herb Stuffed Pork Loin
 
Author:
Ingredients
  • 3 lb. fresh pork loin
  • meat mallet
  • butchers twine
  • a small handful each of rosemary, sage and thyme plus extra branches for decorating the roast, and your platter.
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. To Make your herb paste:
  2. On a cutting board or a small food processor place the herbs, garlic, a pinch of salt and pepper.
  3. Chop or pulsing the herb mix then drizzle in some olive until the mixture becomes a loose paste, set aside.
  4. To open up the pork loin take a sharp knife and cut down the center, being care not to cut all the way through.
  5. Open the roast up like you do a book.
  6. (If roast is bigger, refer to the youtube link I provided in the post, and double the herb mixture.)
  7. Lay some plastic wrap on top of opened meat.
  8. Take your meat mallet and pound all over the surface, you want it to be about a half inch thick all around.
  9. Remove plastic wrap and smear all over the surface, reserving enough for the outside of the roast.
  10. Have your butchers twine cut and ready to tie the meat
  11. Now roll up the meat as close and tight as you can and secure it with the twine in 2 inch intervals.
  12. Rub the outside all over with remaining herb mixture and add a branch of each herb under one tie.
  13. At this point you can place in a fridge overnight or you can place in fridge for a couple of hours before grilling, you want the flavors to mingle for a while.
  14. FOR A GAS GRILL
  15. Take roast out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before grilling.
  16. Sear both sides on a medium high flame for a few minutes then lower it down to medium, around 350 until internal temp reaches 140. You will have to move it from time to time checking it and watching your temp but other than that it's hands free, and of course cover your grill.
  17. Remove roast and let it rest under loose foil for 15 minutes.
  18. Cut the twine off and it's ready to slice!

 

Signature

Roasted Eggplant Artichoke and White Bean Dip

creamy dip

If you’re looking for an easy and delicious appetizer or snack to serve up this summer, I have just the thing! My roasted eggplant, artichoke and white bean dip.

This wonderful dip is like an Italian version of hummus.

It’s full of flavor and quite healthy and comes together quickly using canned cannellini beans and a jar of marinated artichoke hearts, with no tahini required! ( I never was a fan).

 

pricked eggplant

The only cooking you’ll be doing is roasting your eggplant, this can be done a day ahead of time, just pierce the skin and roast it whole.

roasted eggplant

The eggplant will eventually collapse and become soft, when it cools down you’ll be able to slice and scoop out the nice creamy flesh inside, which is a key component in your dip along with the artichoke hearts, white beans.

dip

Perfect for entertaining with a beverage of your choice. Serve it swiped on crusty bread, crackers or even veggies.

Follow me on Instagram to see what else I’m cooking up during the week.

Roasted Eggplant Artichoke and White Bean Dip
 
An easy to make summer dip, snack or appetizer!
Author:
Ingredients
  • 2 medium/ small eggplant left whole, roasted with flesh scooped out
  • 1 jar of marinated artichoke hearts, drained
  • 1 can of cannellini beans, drained
  • 1 or 2 small garlic cloves
  • small handful each of basil and parsley
  • ¼ cup olive oil, extra for top garnish
  • lemon zest
  • a small pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
  • Small jar of roasted red peppers drained, which you will use for garnish only
  • TO GARNISH THE TOP
  • a few olives
  • a swipe of roasted red pepper paste easily made by draining a jar of roasted red peppers and swirling them in a food processor into a thick consistency.
  • olive oil
  • extra chopped herbs
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375
  2. Line a baking sheet with foil.
  3. Poke fork holes all around the whole eggplant skin, then roast until eggplant is soft and collapsed.
  4. Let the eggplant cool down and then scoop out the flesh.
  5. In a food processor add the artichoke hearts, the beans, the eggplant pulp, olive oil, basil, parsley, garlic cloves, lemon zest and pulse slowly to desired consistency. ( I like to see some of the artichoke bits). Taste for salt and pepper.
  6. Place dip into a serving bowl and make a swirl on top with a small spoon, drizzle in some olive oil into the swirl, add the red color of the roasted red pepper.
  7. Sprinkle with herbs.
  8. Serve with toasted bread, crackers or veggies

 

Signature

Roasted Pepper Salad with Castelvetrano Olives

roasted peppers

You’re in for a real treat when you make this smoky flamed roasted pepper salad. It tastes nothing like the peppers that you can buy in a jar, not in the least!

The salad is sweet as well as smoky with just a few ingredients such as garlic, olive oil and herbs, and it’s perfectly accompanied by buttery, mild and lightly brined Castelvetrano olives.   Aaah… Have you ever tried them? Even olive haters are won over by their incredible taste.

blistering peppers

To start out making this you have to prepare the peppers. The skin has to be removed by charring all the sides and it can be done a few different ways.

Blistering the skin takes a little time and you don’t want to hurry the process.

You can use a grill pan inside, a grill outside or you can even place them directly onto the burner of your gas stove while the flame is going.

broiler blistering peppers

Another way which is pretty easy, especially if you’re making quite a few is to stick them onto a foil lined baking sheet and place the pan right under the broiler. Any of the methods you chose you have to be watchful with constant turning making sure all sides of the peppers are blistering.

You’ll know when they’re done, they’ll feel tender to the touch with charring all around.

covered peppers

Then you’re going to place them into a bowl putting plastic wrap over the top so they can steam a bit while they’re still hot, maybe 15 minutes.

seeding peppers

When they cool down the outer skin will peel right off, if you need a little help grab hold with a paper towel. You’ll be left with the meat of the pepper.

Open up the pepper and scrape out the seeds, you might have a few lingering but that’s ok. Now all you have to do is cut them into slices.

peppers and olives

Now here’s the easy part. Grab a bowl, add the sliced peppers and start adding in the rest of your ingredients.

roasted pepper salad

For six peppers I added roughly a third cup of olive oil, 4 finely chopped garlic cloves, a good handful of chopped parsley, ( you could add basil too)  salt and pepper to taste and a generous amount of Castelvetrano olives. Some people add in capers, pine nuts, garbanzo beans.

I say add what you like but I’m more of a purist and want those olives to shine through all the way.

Keep in mind the flavor just enhances the more it sits and marinates all together. So as the saying goes, the more it sits the better it gets!

 

roasted pepper crostini

Grab a platter and serve up this beautiful, colorful pepper salad as a side to anything you put on the grill, or simply served as a crostini on some crusty bread.

Simplicity at it’s best!

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Memorial Day Weekend Grilling Ideas

veggie kabobs

It’s time to bust out your grills, Memorial Day weekend is around the corner and it’s the start of warm weather and enjoying the outside, and quite frankly I’m tired of comfort foods I’m ready for some serious grilling!

Honesty this post could go on for days because there are so many meals you can make on the grill. Pizza is always fun and so is paella and who doesn’t love a good old clambake on the grill!

Today I’m going to focus on a few of my good old standbys, ones that I make throughout the summer. Starting out with rainbow colored veggie kabobs.

Just skewer your favorite veggies together, I love adding chunks of portobello mushrooms on mine. I usually use wooden skewers that have been soaked in water for a couple of hours so as not to burn, if you have metal skewers, even better.

grilled kabob

I usually do a simple olive oil, salt and pepper that’s brushed all over mine I like the individual veggie flavors to really shine through. I have a basil infused olive oil that I sometimes drizzle over them at the end when plated, simple and delicious!

meat kabob

To go along with the veggie kabobs you might as well do some meat ones. I usually do sirloin steak and chicken breast sprinkled with dry herbs and olive oil of course. I have a Greek seasoning that I love to use but I’ve also done some wet marinades as well, like teriyaki.

That’s the fun part just make them the way you want.

grilled meat kabob

You really don’t use a lot of meat when making kabobs because there’s always some type of veggie stuck in between, so they’re very economical to make and great for a party. Yes, they’re a little time consuming to put together, but all that can be done a day ahead.

kabobs

They’re so pretty on a platter and everyone seems to love them, make a couple of sides and you’re good to go.

planked salmon

I love doing fish on the grill, in fact I prefer it. I often make a cedar planked piece of  gorgeous salmon. Again I’m mostly a dry rub girl, the one I used here had a mix of brown sugar, onion, garlic, paprika, cilantro, smoked salt, chipotle and some other spices, but again make it your own, just be sure to soak your planks for a couple of hours so they don’t burn up on the grill.

I’ve even done a whole sheet pan full of cod with tomatoes, olives, lemons, capers and other spices out on the grill which is super simple to do with amazing flavor.

grilled shrimp

Grilled shrimp always a favorite, for this I make a simple marinade of olive oil, fresh chopped garlic, lemon zest, salt, pepper and fresh chopped parsley. Large shrimp is best to use so that you can put them directly onto the grill grates to get all that good charred flavor.

grilled shrimp

Served with lemon slices these shrimp on the barbie always disappear!

grilled meats

Steaks, ribs, burgers and grilled chicken are all front runners in the grilling department.

sausage and peppers

In my family you can count on Italian sausage on the grill always making a reoccurring appearance, tossed with peppers of course.

grilled veggie tray

If you don’t want to skewer your veggies just grill up a whole bunch of your favorite and arrange them on a platter, a healthy and delicious side to any of your grilled meats or fish.

pasta salad

Throw in a good pasta salad or two, this one has a mix of artichoke hearts, garbanzo beans, olives, tomatoes, red peppers, cucumber, red onion, spinach and feta.

pasta caprese salad

Or do this simple caprese pasta salad. Chop up your tomatoes and let them sit with olive oil and garlic til the juices run out and mingle together, then toss into your cooked pasta and add fresh chopped mozzarella with fresh basil.

potato salad

If you prefer a potato salad, here’s one I posted made with fingerling potatoes and a honey, lemon and Dijon vinaigrette.

Most of us will be homebound this summer so we might as well make the best of it, enjoying our outdoor spaces, nice weather along with good food and drink!

Happy grilling!

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