Easy Labor Day Weekend Ideas

Couscous salad topped with grilled veggies, serve with grilled pita and you’ll have the perfect lunch,

or serve it as a side with any roast you might be putting on the grill.

Nothing makes me happier than seeing a platter filled with grilled veggies drizzled with olive oil and balsamic glaze!

A perfect side dish with any grilled meats.

Or slabs of grilled sweet onions with dollops of warm gorgonzola.

For an extremely fresh salad that you can’t stop eating, try this Zucchini Carpaccio

Salad. Paper thin slices of fresh zucchini tossed with baby arugula, shredded Parmigiano Reggiano, garlic, lemon zest and olive oil. Topped with toasted walnuts.

For a quick dessert take advantage of all the beautiful apricots that are still available.

Stuff them with sweetened mascarpone and plop a blackberry on top, drizzle with honey or agave and stick them under your broiler. Garnish with pistachio’s.

Keep it simple and savor every last bit of all the beautiful summer produce.

Buon Appetito!


Ricotta and Herb Stuffed Chicken, Grilled Veggie Couscous, and a Fresh Salad from my Garden

With the long weekend ahead of us and the Fourth of July right around the corner you might consider this as one of your meals, Ricotta and Herb Stuffed Chicken. Placing an herby, cheesy and citrusy mixture of creamy ricotta underneath the skin turns a simple chicken into something quite amazing!

I get all my chicken from Whole Foods, I know where they come from and I love how clean and fresh they look and the friendly butcher behind the counter is always happy to do anything I ask so I don’t even have to get my hands messy! Lately every chicken I buy I’ve been asking him to cut the back out for me, better known as spatchcocked or butterflied. I just love how even and fast it cooks up being cut that way.

For this particular recipe you’re going to be loosening the skin all around which will make it easier for you to place your ricotta mixture underneath. Just wiggle your fingers carefully under the skin along the top and bottom of the breast, thighs and tops of the legs.

For the ricotta filling mix up 1lb of ricotta with fresh herbs of your choice, I used basil and parsley along with grated parmesan or romano cheese, salt, pepper, lemon zest and chopped sundried tomatoes. In a small pan, saute 1 clove of minced garlic and either sliced green onions or the lighter part of a leek, when soft, toss and stir into the ricotta mixture.
Lift up the skin and stuff your bird wiggling the ricotta mixture down to cover all areas. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil on top. Roast in a 450F oven for 30 minutes with tin foil over the breast part, then remove foil and turn oven down to 400F and continue cooking until internal temperature reaches 180F. Let it rest before cutting into it. (You could grill this but make sure you don’t lose your ricotta mixture.)

While the chicken is cooking in the oven you can be outside grilling up some vegetables for this delicious side dish of Grilled Vegetable Couscous, better yet get it done earlier in the day so you can be sipping your favorite drink instead!

Cook your couscous according to the package, I like the large Israeli couscous, toast it first in olive oil then add water, it’s usually equal amounts. I had 1 1/3 cups of couscous and the same amount of water. When it cools down to room temperature add your grilled veggies, I used red, yellow, orange and green peppers, Vadalia onions, portobello mushrooms and fresh corn. Add lots of chopped basil, olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper to taste.

I’m excited to share my first romaine salad of the year that my green thumb husband grew for us, he has it growing in pots as well as in the ground.

He won’t let me cut the leaves off for fear I might destroy the plant, he’s very particular. Look how proud he is!

The leaves were so tender and fresh even the core was delicious, simply dressed with my very best olive oil, fresh squeezed lemon juice and light shavings of Parmigiano Reggiano, simply the best!

Have a great weekend and Buon Appetito!