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Burrata, Sausage + Peppers

If you follow my feed you know that Sausage + Peppers is a major go-to for me. Why? Especially when it’s grilling season, it’s just such an easy way to create a comprehensive dish that feeds many. I always switch it up a little, but this time I think I really found the KEY to taking this dish OVER THE TOP. Burrata!!

SHOPPING LIST: 2 packages of mini bell peppers, 2 lbs. sausage links, onion, chopped garlic, olive oil, truffle oil, tomato sauce, salt, pepper, onion powder

Before we get into the cooking, let’s talk sausage for a second. I used two packages of Nature’s Promise Sweet Italian Chicken Sausage with Kale. You can use WHATEVER kind of sausage you want – sweet, spicy, pork, chicken, have creative freedom here but like maybe not lamb – this isn’t THAT kind of dish. Now turn your BBQ on high heat and get it ready for some action.

The first thing you want to do is cut the stems off of your little sweet peppers. Put your peppers in a bowl and give them a generous drizzle of olive oil (about 1/4 cup). Add 2 tB. of chopped garlic, and season well with salt, pepper and onion powder and give them a good toss so all of your peppers are coated with oil and seasoning. Throw the peppers on one side of your grill and your sausages on the other. You want your peppers to be blistered on both sides and SOFT, they will easily “squish” for lack of a better word between your grill tongs. For the sausage, make sure to grill them THOROUGHLY, until they are charred on the outside and contrasty, are FIRM between your tongs.

Return your cooked peppers to your prep bowl as they are finished and top withy our cooked sausage. In the bottom of your serving dish, add 1 cup of your favorite marinara sauce (sometimes I like to use a few tB. of pesto sauce instead) and a drizzle of truffle oil. Then, on a cutting board, slice your sausages into about 1 1/2-inch thick pieces. Add all of your peppers and sliced sausages on top of the marinara and truffle oil and toss well. Top with four small balls of SLICED burrata so your guests can see the creamy stracciatella on the inside. If you can’t find the smaller burrata, you can always cut a large ball into quarters — AND YOU CAN ALWAYS ADD MORE CHEESE, because, trust me, sausage and peppers WITH cheese is better than sausage and peppers WITHOUT!

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Spaghetti Carbonara

The other night my daughter wanted a side of eggs with her pasta. It felt like the right time to educate her on the origins of my absolute favorite pasta dish. I touched on this a bit in my Cauliflower Carbonara recipe, how my favorite version ever is at Maccheroni in Rome – but let’s be honest, NOTHING is as good as the real deal. And the truth is, it’s not very difficult at all. Now let me say ONE more thing before I begin. Many years ago when The Gluttoness worked for AlwaysHunrgyNY, I had the pleasure of learning how to make this dish from the incredible Chef Cesare Casella and he used a drop of cream and therefore, so do I.

SHOPPING LIST: 1 box spaghetti, 1 package bacon, 3 egg yolks, 1/4 cup cream, salt, black pepper

Rough chop your entire package of bacon and start it in a COLD pan over medium heat. While your bacon is cooking, bring a pot of HEAVILY SALTED water to boil. Par-cook your spaghetti, and when your spaghetti is a true al dente and still a touch firm in the center, strain your pasta and reserve 1/4 cup of your pasta liquid. Toss the spaghetti in olive oil to prevent it from sticking together.

When your bacon is crisp and all the fat is rendered, add the 1/4 cup of pasta water and 1/4 cup of cream and bring to a simmer. When the liquids are simmering, add your pasta back to the pan and continue cooking 3-5 minutes or until the sauce has thickened and coated your pasta. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer your pasta to your serving dish. Top you with your three egg yolks. Use a tongs to IMMEDIATELY toss the yolks into your pasta.

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Hot + Cold Tomato Mozzarella

With summer upon us and the local farmers’ markets bursting with gorgeous produce, a tomato-mozzarella salad is always an easy go-to! I have a few ways I like to spruce up this class dish – both in flavor and presentation. Let me just say this – this success of this salad is 90% how fresh your ingredients are, especially your mozzarella.

SHOPPING LIST: 2 beefsteak tomatoes, 1 ball FRESH mozzarella, 1 lb. cherry tomatoes, olive oil, chopped garlic, pesto sauce, salt, pepper

I like to use my toaster oven for smaller projects like this. Pre-heat your toaster oven on the CONVECTION mode to 375 degrees. Lay out a peice of tin-foil, folding the ends up so it makes a bit of a perimeter and add all of your cherry tomatoes. Drizzle the tomatoes with olive oil and 1 tB. of chopped garlic. Mix well and season with salt and pepper. Roast the tomatoes 10 minutes or until they are just bursting at the seems!!!

While your cherry tomatoes are cooking, THICK slice your tomatoes and mozzarella. This is part of the trick of making an impressive looking dish. No one wants measly slices. Beautiful thick-cut slices of tomato and mozzarella speak for themselves. Once you layer your slices, tomato/mozzarella/tomato/mozzarella/etc. I like to sprinkle the entire platter with salt and pepper.

For me, what makes this dish special is the difference in temperatures. After your slice and plate your fresh tomatoes and mozzarella – POP THE PLATE IN THE FRIDGE! Chilling your tomatoes and mozzarella before topping them with the warm, blistered cherry tomatoes will add to the contrast of hot and cold.

Finish your platter with the warm cherry tomatoes, fresh out of the oven, and finish the platter with a drizzle of your favorite PESTO. (You want it to be a drizzle, so if you’re pesto is a bit thicker, you can always thin it out with some fresh squeezed lemon juice or apple cider vinegar).

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Spicy Fennel Salad

The first Fennel Salad we made was a bit involved – it had a base of lemon whipped ricotta and grapefruit supremes. While delicious, those extraneous elements take TIME and sometimes you just want to whip up a quick and simple salad on the fly. This is that fennel salad.

SHOPPING LIST: 2 fennel bulbs, 1 jalapeño, shredded parmesan, lemon, olive oil, salt

Remove the stems, fronds and core of your fennel bulbs so you’re left with something looking similar to the size of an onion, making sure to KEEP some of your fronds to finish your salad. Slice each fennel bulb in half, and then very carefully THINLY slice your fennel — if you keep a mandolin on hand, this would be a GREAT opportunity to use it, the thinner the better!!!

Add your sliced fennel to your serving bowl. Next, thinly slice your entire jalapeno (or less if you don’t want it SO spicy) and add that to you fennel. Top with 1 cup of SHREDDED parmesan, making sure you get lots of those larger pieces in the mix. Use a microplane to remove the zest of the entire lemon directly on top of your parmesan, and then squeeze the juice of the entire lemon over your salad.

Grab a handful of the fennel fronds you kept and give them a rough chop and add them to your salad .Finish with 2 tB. of HIGH QUALITY olive oil and 1 tsp. of salt. Give your salad a quick toss and that’s it. Easy, fresh, spicy, and bright with a hint of the salty, nutty parmesan, this salad is truly one of life’s simple pleasure.

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Warm Bacon + Onion Salad

This salad demonstrates how a little bit of bacon can transform your peppery arugula greens from basic to bonkers. This salad is warm and cozy like a fuzzy blanket on a rainy day. Add some chopped grilled chicken or shrimp and it could be a meal in itself!

SHOPPING LIST: 1 box of arugula, 1 package bacon, red onion, blue cheese, dried cranberries, stoneground mustard, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, salt, black pepper

Rough chop 6 pieces of bacon, keeping the pieces fairly large as they will shrink while cooking. As always, start your bacon in a cold pan and then put the heat over medium-high. While your bacon is sizzling, fill your serving bowl with the arugula. Top with 1/3 cup of dried cranberries and 1/3 cup of blue cheese crumbles and set aside.

Slice 1/2 a red onion. When your bacon is sufficiently browned, use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon from the grease, placing it on a paper towel to strain the excess oil. Add your sliced red onion to the bacon grease and sauté until soft and golden. Season your onions with salt and pepper. Again, using a slotted spoon, add your onions on top of your arugula and your crispy bacon bits as well.

In a small bowl, combine 2 tB. stone ground mustard, 2 tB. apple cider vinegar and 1 tB. and whatever bacon grease remains in your pan . Mix well and season with salt and pepper to taste. Drizzle over your arugula salad and give the salad a quick toss so the mustard-bacon dressing really coats all of your greens.

Using a green like arugula is great for a salad like this because it can hold up to the warmth of the onions. Other friends you might want to add to this party? Our favorite quick candied pecans, a diced avocado (tossed in lemon juice, of course) or the addition of ANOTHER green – like frisee – would be wonderful as well!

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Tomato and Feta Cauliflower

Here we go again. Another night staring at a few heads of cauliflower and trying to figure out how to make it interesting. Thankfully, my love affair with sun-dried tomatoes IN OIL continues (see the 3-Way Tomato Salad for more sun-dried tomato inspo).

SHOPPING LIST: 3 heads of cauliflower, sun-dried tomatoes in oil, feta cheese, coconut oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees, using the convection function if you have that option. Remove the florets from your cauliflower and lay on a sheet pan. Drizzle with melted coconut oil and season with salt, pepper, garlic powder. Toss well so all of the florets are equally coated in oil and seasoning and bake for 40 minutes.

The key here is actually the super garlicky oil that that sun-dried tomatoes are preserved in. Once your cauliflower is done roasting, use a large spoon to drizzle about 4-5 tB. worth of the oil over your cauliflower and place the tray under the broiler for 3-5 minutes or until your cauliflower is blistered.

Remove the roasted florets into your serving dish and add 1/2 cup of sun-dried tomatoes (removed from the oil) and 1/2 cup of feta. I chose NOT to slice the sun-dried tomatoes because I thought they looked beautiful full-sized against the larger cauliflower florets – but you could totally give them a rough chop or slice them in half if you prefer smaller bits. Just remember, at many gourmet markets you will find specially packaged “sun-dried tomato olive oil” so purchasing your sun-dried tomatoes IN OIL actually gives you two products in one! You can also use this garlicky tomato oil in your salad dressings, as a drizzle for a classic tomato/mozzarella salad, or even as a topping on pizza!!

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Creamy Cucumber + Radish Salad

SHOPPING LIST: 2 English cucumbers, 2 radish, red onion, parsley, lemon, mayonnaise, salt, black pepper

Slice the ends off your English cucumbers and then thinly slice both cucumbers. Place all of your cumber slices in a strainer and toss with 1 tB of salt. Mix well and allow to strain 10-15 minutes so that some of the liquid leaves your cucumbers. This is a very important step if you are making this dish ahead of time so that it doesn’t become watery as your cucumber omit their natural liquids.

Next, thinly slice your radishes and reserve in a bowl of cold water until it is time to compile your salad. Mince 1/2 of a red onion and add to the bottom of your serving bowl. Rough chop a handful of parsley leaves – leaving you with about 1/4 cup of chopped parsley. Add your parsley to the onion.

Over a small bowl, use a microplane to remove the zest of one lemon. Add the juice of the entire lemon to the zest. Add 1/3 cup of mayonnaise (obviously my vegan friends can substitute with a plant-based alternative), 1 tB. of black pepper, 1 tsp. of salt and 1 tsp of red pepper flakes. Mix your dressing well.

Give your cucumbers in the strainer a final shake to remove the excess liquid. Add the cucumbers to your onions and parsley and then use the strainer to remove the liquid from your radishes as well. Once all of your ingredients are in the bowl, give your creamy lemon dressing an extra good mix and pour over the contents of your bowl. Toss your cucumber salad and CHILL. I love a salad like this to have to be served a little bit cold – also, the chill will keep your cucumbers CRUNCHY!

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Fig + Rosemary “Baked” Brie

You know that Dalmatia Fig Jam that you always buy and put out with your cheese plates and MAYBE someone takes a spoonful and then you put it back in your pantry until you make another cheese plate? Or maybe that’s just me. Either way – let’s put that bad boy to FANTASTIC use. I know, “baked brie” doesn’t scream summertime – but this isn’t en croute. A full-sized wheel of brie in a cast-iron skillet with a fantastic topping makes this warm, gooey brie perfectly positioned at your picnic, poolside or dinner table. Just don’t forget the crackers.

SHOPPING LIST: large brie cheese, fig jam, dried rosemary, red pepper flake, walnuts, balsamic glaze, salt, black pepper

Unwrap your large wheel of brie and place it in the center of your cast iron skillet. In a small bowl, combine about 3/4 cup of your fig jam with 1/2 cup of walnuts. Add two pinches of salt, 1/2 tsp. black pepper, 2 tB. of dried rosemary and 1 tsp. of red pepper flakes and mix well. Top your brie with the fig mixture.

NOW – you have two options. You can either bake this in a 400 degree oven for 25-30 minutes OR since you are making this in a cast iron skillet, fire up your BBQ and you can GRILL your skillet for the same 25-30 minutes period. Grilling it will infuse the brie with a bit of a smokey flavor which is lovely as well.

When your brie is melty and popping at the seams, finish with a drizzle of balsamic glaze for an extra burst of tangy sweetness. Aside from traditional crackers, I love serving this with my favorite ever – Aurora Tostones – or a freshly sliced French baguette.

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Grilled Shrimp and Halloumi Skewers

I mean you put grilled halloumi cheese in/on anything and you’re off to a great start. These simple shrimp skewers not only benefit from alternating cubes of this blackened, salty cheese, but the homemade lemon parsley marinade, which takes just seconds to whip up in your food processor, bathes each skewer in bright, beautiful flavor.

SHOPPING LIST: 1 lb. cleaned, deveined shrimp, halloumi cheese, cherry tomatoes, lemon, fresh parsley, chopped garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper

This made 4 skewers but they were tightly packed so you could totally stretch this and make 4-6 skewers with this recipe. Toss your raw shrimp in salt and pepper. Then take one package of halloumi cheese. My store-bought cube of halloumi allowed me to slice the brick into three horizontal slabs from which I made cubes, trying to emulate the size of the cherry tomatoes. I don’t know if you can tell from the photo but these heirloom cherry tomatoes were variations of green and red and just so beautiful. So begin skewering, shrimp –> halloumi –> tomato. When your skewers are set it’s time to make the marinade.

In your food processor, add the zest and juice of one lemon. Add one heaping tB. of chopped garlic and then about 1/2 a bunch of parsley leaves – it would be almost one cups worth of fluffy leaves. Add 1/4 cup of olive oil and process until you still have bits of parsley — this is NOT going to be a pesto or puree-like consistency but more like a thin dressing. Season with salt and pepper to tase and then rub your skewers with 3/4 of your marinade.

Get your grill blazing hot and grill your skewers about 4 minutes on each side – until your shrimp are cooked through and your cheese is nice and blistered. Before serving, drizzle the remaining 1/4 of your marinade over your finished skewers.

One thing to note is that the inclusion of the grilled halloumi is seriously be the STAR of these skewers for me. With that said, this would be a great idea for completely VEGETARIAN skewers. Layer up a bunch of your favorite veggies – slices of red onion, zucchini, tomatoes, what have you, with the cubes of halloumi and the same parsley lemon dressing for a super satisfying ALL vegetable meal.

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Spicy Scallop Crudo

Raw scallops are my favorite. Scallop sushi. Scallop crudo. If you have access to fresh, sea scallops – it’s simply the best way to enjoy these gems of the sea. The texture is rich and velvety but also light and silky. You can thinly slice them and literally do nothing more than a squeeze of lemon and some sea salt – or you can take it up a notch. This is clearly the latter.

SHOPPING LIST: 1/2 lb. sea scallops, olive oil, wasabi sauce, wasabi peas, sea salt

First, you have to understand, that as soon as you start slicing your scallops they begin to oxidize so you want to slice them and serve this dish IMMEDIATELY! The only real prep here is crushing your wasabi peas – so take about 1/4 cup in a plastic bag and bang on them with the edge of a jar and you’re ready to get going.

Turn your scallops on their side and try to slice as THIN as possible. I like to layer them a bit for presentation’s sake but feel free to take liberty here. You could display your scallop crudo slices in horizontal lines or scatter them around your platter. When your scallop slices are displayed on your platter you will give them a drizzle of HIGH QUALITY olive oil (note the green color – this not the same olive oil you would cook with), a drizzle of wasabi sauce (I’ve mentioned here before I use the Kikkoman brand, Inglehoffer makes a great option too), a sprinkle of sea salt and then your wasabi peas to finish. I love the little bit of crunch against the smooth scallop and of course the extra spice is always welcome in my house.

SOMETIMES my local fishmonger has wasabi tobiko which is the absolute BEST finishing touch but alas he was out. In my search to link wasabi tobiko, I just learned that you can buy it on AMAZON – so I guess I don’t have any excuses for next time!

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Spicy Korean Cucumbers

First we did the Jewish-style Dill-icious Cucumber Salad. This is a similar concept with a COMPLETELY different flavor profile + technique.

SHOPPING LIST: 3 English cucumbers, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, honey, chili garlic sauce, gochugaru Korean chili flakes, sesame seeds, chopped scallions, garlic salt, salt

I like to use English cucumbers for this – the long, thin, “seedless” kind. Either way, slice your cumber in half lengthwise, use a spoon to remove the seeds and then sprinkle the inside with salt and allow the cucumber to rest in a strainer (salt side DOWN) for 10 minutes so the salt will draw out the natural water from the cucumber. SKIPPING this step will result in a watery pickle! Don’t do that.

In the meantime you can make your pickling liquid. Combine 1/2 cup of rice wine vinegar, 2 tB. sesame oil, 1 tsp. honey, 2 tB. chili garlic sauce, 2 tB. gochuchang Korean chili flakes, 2 tB. sesame seeds, 1/2 tsp. garlic salt and 3 tB. chopped scallions.

I love doing a pickled cucumber salad because it honestly gets better the longer it sits in the pickling solution. Sometimes, when the cucumbers start running out, I’ll add a whole new batch to the same liquid for a quick and easy refresher without starting over!

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Creamed Corn + Crab Pasta

My husband loves crab pasta. So when I’m feeling like a sport (ha!) I’ll grab a pound of lump crab meat. My typical crab pasta recipe is essentially the same as the Lemon Ravioli (a la Misi) – with a boatload of crab thrown in at the last minute. But you know me – always trying to think outside of the box – and always looking into my pantry for inspo. What else does the prince love? Crab and corn chowder. And because we’ve been loving a good (actually, GREAT!) cornbread around here, I always have canned creamed corn on hand.

SHOPPING LIST: 1 lb. jumbo lump crabmeat, 1 can creamed corn, 3/4 box of pasta, olive oil, butter, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes

Bring your pasta water to boil and make sure it is HEAVELY salted because you are going to use your pasta water. I added 2 tB. of olive oil to my pasta water as well because I was using angel hair pasta which I find particularly likes to stick together. As always, use whatever pasta you prefer or have on hand. Especially with angel hair, you want to make sure to PAR COOK your pasta so you can finish cooking your pasta in the super easy sauce. When it’s time to strain the pasta, make sure to save 1/2 cup of your pasta water.

In your sauce pan, melt 2 heaping tB. of. butter. When the butter is melted, add 1/2 cup of the creamed corn and 1/3 cup of your pasta water and bring to a simmer. Season to taste with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes (if you’re like me and want everything to have a kick but also, the red pepper flakes add a little pop of color). As your sauce thickens, add back your pasta and continue cooking over medium-low heat for 3-5 minutes until your sauce is thick and creamy (did you know that creamed corn is a NATURAL thickening agent?!?!).

At the last minute, throw in all of your lump crab. Give the pasta a quick toss and serve immediately. You do not want your crab to “cook” – so you could even do this last step in your serving bowl if you are nervous about your beautiful lumps of crab turning into mush – which will happen if you cook them too long. But you’re paying attention to my explicit instructions so that would never happen to you 🙂

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Halibut Saganaki

I am SO excited to share this recipe with you guys for so many reasons. Obviously, the first one is because it’s super delicious – otherwise who would even care? Secondly, I love any dish that you can serve directly in your cooking vessel because that’s always such a pleasure. Third – and really the most exciting – is poaching fish in this manner is such an EASY and approachable way for people to enjoy cooking fish at home. Cooking fish can be INTIMIDATING – maybe it smells, maybe the fish falls apart when you try to flip it – this style of cooking your fish eliminates all of these risk factors and above all, creates a complex and robust dish with minimal effort.

SHOPPING LIST: 1 lb. halibut, 1 jar of tomato sauce, 1 can of quartered artichoke hearts, pitted kalamata olives, red wine, chopped garlic, 1 lemon, feta cheese, parsley, grapeseed oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder

Before we begin, let me sing my praises for Mia’s Kitchen Kale Pasta Sauce – I would recommend using a pasta sauce that has “STUFF” in it – the more complex your sauce, the more complex your saganaki is going to turn out. The first thing you want to do is slice your halibut in about 1 inch cubes, thoroughly season your cubes with salt, pepper and garlic powder and set aside.

Strain your quartered artichokes and make sure they are patted very dry. In a sauce pan, add 2 tB. of grapeseed oil and sauté 2 tB. of garlic with your quartered artichokes until your artichokes are blistered and crispy. Season with salt and pepper. Next, add 1/4 cup of HALVED kalamata olives and 2 cups of your preferred tomato sauce and bring it a simmer. Once your sauce is simmering, add 1/2 cup of red wine and continue to simmer for 5 minutes or until the alcohol has cooked out of the wine. Finally, add your halibut cubes, shimmying them into the mix of sauce and vegetables, reduce to LOW heat, and COVER for 10 minutes.

While your fish is poaching in the sauce, ROUGH chop 1/4 cup of parsley and ZEST your entire lemon. When you remove the cover from your saucepan, sprinkle your cooked saganaki with your final ingredients – the roughly chopped parsley, the zest of one lemon and then 1/3 cup of feta (or more if you want, this is your dish after all!)

I have to mention that Saganaki is a very traditional Greek dish. What I love about it, other than it being an easy thing to re-create at home, is that it breaks the lame rule that fish and cheese don’t mix. THERE ARE NO RULES WHEN IT COMES TO COOKING! THAT’S WHAT MAKES IT SO FUN! As always, I have to to encourage you to be creative with your protein. ANY thicker white fleshed fish would work well here, and SHRIMP saganaki is a classic combination. Or another alternative, use this tomato-wine base to steam MUSSELS, once your shells have opened, top them with the same trio of the lemon, feta and parsley before serving.

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Mexican Street Brussels Sprouts

When Cinco de Mayo came calling, I was trying to figure out fun ways to play with your typical Mexican flavors. We’ve always loved Mexican corn – ya know the grilled corn that’s slathered in spicy mayo and rolled in cotija cheese and served with a wedge of lime – so these Brussels sprouts were given my version of the “elote” treatment.

SHOPPING LIST: 2 lbs. Brussels sprouts, jalapeño, lime, cotija cheese, taco seasoning, coconut oil

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Trim the ends off your Brussels sprouts and then slice each Brussels sprout in half and put all of your cleaned Brussels on a large sheet pan. Slice your entire jalapeño and throw that on the sheet pan too – the roasted jalapeño slices are going to add a subtle, smoky heat!!! Melt 2 tB. of coconut oil and toss your Brussels in the coconut oil and 2 tB. of your taco seasoning – I love the spicy Siete brand buy any taco seasoning will do. Using the taco seasoning INSTANTLY gives your Brussels sprouts those vibrant latin flavors. Roast your Brussels sprouts for 45 minutes or until fork-tender and crispy on the outside.

When your Brussels sprouts are done, remove the zest from your lime. To finish your Brussels sprouts, you are going to garnish them with the juice and zest of the lime and then cover them with 1/2 cup of crumbled cotija cheese. As you can see, I didn’t use a spicy crema here like the traditional corn to keep the dish a bit lighter, but you could TOTALLY toss your Brussels sprouts in a quick, homemade spicy crema (1/2 cup sour cream + 2 tB. of chipotle hot sauce + salt + pepper) and then finish the same way with the lime and cheese.

One key takeaway here that I’d like to emphasize is the use of the taco seasoning here. You could literally do this to ANY vegetable!!! Just using a vibrant spice blend to roast vegetables instead of your usual salt and pepper can be an INSTANT flavor fix. Don’t want to go to the trouble of making this entire dish? Roast vegetables with your taco seasoning and serve the spicy crema as a dipping sauce! As always, we have to balance what’s delicious and what’s EASY!

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Honey Butter Creamed Cornbread

This is simply one of the greatest hacks – the easiest way to zhuzh up a class box of Jiffy corn muffin mix into something insanely special and delicious. And if you found this under the “Dessert” category just read until the end. You’ll get it.

SHOPPING LIST: 1 box jiffy mix, 1 can creamed corn, 1 egg, honey, butter, salt

The trick? I guess there are a few.

One, we want to employ the old, HEAT YOUR PAN before your add the batter trick so your cornbread is crunchy on all surfaces. So grease up your skillet or springform pan (I used the latter) and pop it in your pre-heated 400 degree oven while your prep your cornbread.

Two, instead of using the 1/3 cup of milk the recipe on the box of Jiffy calls for, replace that with an ENTIRE can of creamed corn. So your batter is essentiality 1 beaten egg, 1 can of creamed corn and the entire bag of jiffy mix. (IF YOU WANT YOUR CORNBREAD TO BE SPICY – sauté a finely chopped jalapeño in oil of your choice and add to the batter as well). Remove your smoking hot skillet from the oven, pour in your batter and bake for 25-30 MINUTES or until the center is firm. (The box says to bake for 15-20 minutes but you will need a little extra time because you basically tripled the liquids).

NOW is the best part. THE THIRD TRICK! After your cornbread has cooled, remove it from the baking dish. Melt 2 tB. of butter and mix with 2 tB. of honey. Use a fork to poke holes in the top of your cornbread. Drizzle the entire cornbread with your honey-butter mixture and finish with a sprinkle of salt. PLACE THE CORNBREAD BACK under the BROILER for 3 minutes so the honey butter gets a little crispy.

I lied. There is a fourth – and MAJOR – secret here. This one is a personal favorite. Last time I made cornbread I served it with St. Louis Ribs. Very traditional pairing. But you know what the BEST use of your cornbread is? ICE. CREAM. SUNDAE. Heat up a slice (or two) of your leftover cornbread. Top with a spoonful (or two) of vanilla ice cream. Finish with a drizzle of honey. THANK ME LATER 🙂

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Stuffed Pepper Parm

I wrote all about the origin of the stuffed pepper in my Taco Turkey Stuffed Peppers post. I had never given the stuffed peppers the parmigiana treatment and it just felt. like. time. This is always a go-to recipe for me because A. it’s not particularly expensive B. it feeds a BUNCH of people and C. it is incredibly satisfying.

SHOPPING LIST: 6 cubanelle peppers, 1.5 lbs. spicy Italian sausage (chicken or pork), 14 oz. whipped cream cheese, 1 egg, tomato sauce, shredded mozzarella, chopped garlic, dried oregano, olive oil, garlic salt, pepper

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. The first step is trimming the stems off of your peppers, slicing them open (without going all the way through) just enough that you can get your fingers inside to clean out all the seeds. Once your peppers are cleaned, rub them with olive oil and season them thoroughly with garlic salt and pepper.

In a bowl, mix one egg. Add 1 tB. of chopped garlic. Add your spicy Italian sausage – if you purchased sausage IN the casing, make sure to squeeze the sausage OUT of the casing so you basically have ground, seasoned meat. 1.5 lbs. of sausage would be equivalent to about 8 links. I also want to note here that the use of sausage is key here because the addition of fat and seasoning to the ground meat is what naturally gives this dish a crazy amount of flavor with minimal effort. Finally, add the whipped cream cheese and use a wooden spoon to mix well. Stuff each pepper TO THE MAX with your filling. Place all of the stuffed peppers in your baking dish. Top with tomato sauce of your choice – in this particular instance I used a Far Diavolo – and then top with 1 cup of shredded mozzarella and a sprinkle of oregano.

Bake your peppers for 45-50 minutes or until the peppers are fork tender and the filling is solid and cooked through! I have to tell you guys, this dish is EXTREMELY satisfying – probably one of my favorites – and as you can see from the this version VS. the taco variation I first posted, you can really use your imagination with HOW creative you get with your filling. With summer upon us, I am thinking next maybe I’ll try to make “crab cake” stuffed peppers because I’m on a serious shellfish kick over here. Or maybe on second thought I’ll just make crab cakes.

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Tortellini en Brodo

Remember that chicken carcass from the Whole Roast Chicken that you didn’t throw away because I told you it makes the BEST chicken soup?! Well, now is your chance! It’s not much different than the Turkey Soup for the Soul preparation but let’s go through it again.

SHOPPING LIST: (reserved chicken carcass), cheese tortellini, 1 onion, carrots, celery, olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder

Hopefully, you have onion, carrots and celery leftover from your roast chicken. Now that I know how amazing soup is from a cooked chicken – VS. the starting with a raw chicken like my grandmother taught me – I always double up on the veggies at the market so I have enough for both applications. In this instance you only have to slice your peeled onion in half. Slice up about 6-8 peeled carrots and celery. In your large sauce pot, add 1 tB. of olive oil and sauce your carrots and celery. Season them with salt and pepper to taste. When the veggies begin to get some color, add the entire chicken carcass and cook a few extra minutes. Throw both halves of the onion in your pot and then fill 3/4 of the way with warm water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 4-5 hours.

This stock, as seen above, will be MUCH richer in color and flavor than the aforementioned chicken stock you begin with raw chicken. As for the tortellini – HELLO SUPERMARKET. I used the 5-Cheese Tortellini from Giovanni Rana but any cheese ravioli will do (the first time I used classic Buitoni) – or go crazy and get meat ravioli – it’s your soup!!!!!! I finished it with a little black pepper because that’s how hubby likes it but a little sprinkle of grated parmesan would go a long way!

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Grilled Caeser Salad

Hands down the SIMPLEST (um, THERE’S BASICALLY NO CUTTING) and most beautiful way to present a classic Caeser salad. The key here is of course, the homemade dressing, and giving those halved romaine hearts the perfect char.

SHOPPING LIST: romaine hearts (2-3), Caeser dressing, Parm Crisps, olive oil, salt, pepper

The first step is making your homemade Caesar dressing, which is linked HERE and in your shopping list. Obviously skip this step if you have a favorite store-bought Caeser dressing but I promise, it’s super easy to make and you can be creative with how you use your Caeser dressing outside of this simple salad (I used the remainder of this batch as the marinade for a whole roast chicken!!)

Next you want to trim your romaine hearts so they are reading for the grill. Trim the ends of the hearts as little as possible, just to remove the dirty edges but keeping the core in-tact. Then, slice the top inch or so off the leaves end of each heart for a uniform look (and because sometime the edges get wilted and we all know I like pretty food around here). Finally, slice your hearts in half and then drizzle each half with olive oil and season with salt and pepper – trying to get in-between the leaves!!!! I think people often skip this step when trying to do a grilled romaine and SEASONING your greens makes a HUGE difference.

Get your grill super hot and then you are going to grill your halved romaine hearts SLICED SIDE DOWN (that means the flat side goes first) – drizzling the olive oil on the hearts before grilling also keeps the lettuce from sticking to your grill! After 3-4 minutes, use a tong to GENTLY flip your hearts so you can grill the backside as well for another 3-4 minutes or until they are sufficiently charred and wilted. Remove the grilled hearts with tongs and place DIRECTLY onto your serving plate so you don’t have to worry about losing leaves in transit.

To finish, GENEROUSLY drizzle your grilled romaine hearts with your Caesar dressing (and I would also recommend serving extra dressing on the side since once you start slicing the romaine you’ll most likely want more). I like to top mine with broken bits of either Sesame or Jalapeño ParmCrisps. You could always use traditional croutons or even just shredded parmesan is a nice touch. Make sure when serving this dish that you give each dinner a STEAK knife, so that everyone can easily cut into and enjoy their hearts without trouble.

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3-Way Tomato Salad

I get it. There is a LOT of cooking going on. So the best thing to do is find ways to elevate simple ingredients so you can easily create a dish that is equally exciting and approachable. This dish started with a couple boxes of these beautiful Heirloom baby tomatoes and I looked around my pantry to find a way to double, and then triple-down, on the tomato flavor. I have mentioned this Trentasette Red Pesto but a little bit of this magic ingredient goes a long way. The little bit of truffle doesn’t hurt either.

SHOPPING LIST: grape tomatoes (Heirloom, if available), sun-dried tomatoes in oil, kalamata olives, gorgonzola cheese, balsamic vinegar, Trentasette Red Pesto, salt, pepper

All you need is a cutting board. First, slice your grape tomatoes in half. You want about 2 cups of grape tomatoes. Next, remove your sun-dried tomatoes from the oil, slice about 15 of them in half and add them to your grape tomatoes. Then, pour about 2 tB. worth of the marinating oil into a separate bowl to reserve for your tomato dressing! Then you’re going to slice 1/2 cup of your kalamata olives in half. Add 1/2 cup of crumbled gorgonzola cheese and then let’s finish that dressing we talked about.

You have 2 tB. of the reserved sun-dried tomato olive oil. Add 1 tB. of balsamic vinegar and then 2 tB. of the aforementioned red pesto (p.s. the “RED” comes from sun-dried tomatoes so there is your THIRD tomato element). Mix well and season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss the tomatoes, olives and gorgonzola in your tomato vinaigrette. I like to pop this BACK in the fridge for a few minutes before serving so it’s nice and chilled. If you’re an onion fan, some sliced red onion would go a LONG way in this salad (but for the sake of making my husband happy, as usual, I left them out).

I also want to add that for a LONG time I thought I didn’t like sun-dried tomatoes – I thought their flavor lingered and was over-powering. Then my girlfriend introduced me to the tomatoes in oil on the Olive Bar at Whole Foods and I became addicted. In quarantine, I realized that sun-dried tomatoes IN OIL are much much different than the the dry version you get in a plastic container. They might not be as garlicky as the Whole Foods version but they are certainly delicious and as you can see from the recipe above, even the oil they are preserved in has awesome applications in it’s own right!

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Creamy Bacon Walnut Pasta

One of my favorite things to do is re-purpose things in new and creative ways. Last week I made the traditional Georgian Salad – which is covered with an herb-less walnut pesto-like dressing. I had a bunch of the walnut dressing leftover and wanted to think outside of the box. It was a dreary day and pasta was calling my name, as was the 1/2 package of bacon waiting for a purpose as well.

SHOPPING LIST: 1 box pasta, 1/2 package bacon, fresh thyme, walnuts, chopped garlic, lemon, olive oil, butter, milk, salt, pepper, garlic salt

For the walnut dressing: In your food processor, add 1/2 cup of walnuts and 1 heaping tB. of chopped garlic. Add the zest and juice of one lemon. Add 1 tsp. of salt and 1/2 tsp. of pepper and 1/4 cup of olive oil. Pulse until the mixture comes together like a thick pesto. You WANT there to be bits of walnut – DO NOT EMULSIFY THIS INTO MUSH. Add 1-2 extra tB. of olive oil if your walnut dressing needs more liquid to properly pulse. 

Par-cook your pasta. I used rotini because it’s a thicker, creamier dressing so I wanted a noodle that had lots of grooves for the sauce to get stuck into. Strain your pasta and toss with a little bit of olive oil so it doesn’t stick together! Chop up your fresh thyme so you have about 1 tB. of fresh chopped thyme to add to the pasta when it’s finished.

Chop your bacon (about 6 strips), and start it in a COLD saucepan. Put the pan over medium-high heat and continue cooking your bacon until it’s thoroughly crisp and all of the bacon fat has rendered out. Add 1 tB. of butter, 1/4 cup of milk, the juice of one lemon and 3 heaping tBs. of your walnut dressing. (The lemon is important here to BRIGHTEN the heavier flavors). Mix well with a wooden spoon. Once your sauce comes to a simmer, re-add your pasta and allow the pasta to finish cooking in the sauce. Season with a bit of garlic salt and add your fresh chopped thyme right before serving. Here’s a close-up so you can really see how satisfying this creamy pasta is 🙂

In retrospect, I am realizing a handful of freshly toasted and lightly salted WHOLE walnuts would have been a nice garniture for this dish. The addition of whole walnuts would also add an extra level of crunch to the crispy bacon and smaller walnut bits. SO, reserve some walnuts for the very end if you have some extra. Otherwise, this paired perfectly with a chilled glass of red wine and made a rainy day a little less dreary.

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Green Bean Sausage Almondine

I’m really into this dish. I know it reads like a side dish – like your traditional Green Bean Almondine – but the addition of sausage really steals the show here and makes each bite hearty and well-rounded, almost like an entire dinner in one bowl! As usual, the concept was inspired but by these spicy Italian chicken sausage patties I found at my local organic market. I guess someone people might throw them on the grill like a cheeseburger, but my husband doesn’t love string beans so I thought throwing in some spicy sausage might turn him on – and mission accomplished!

SHOPPING LIST: 2 lbs. green beans, 1 lb. spicy Italian chicken sausage, 3/4 cups slivered almonds, grapeseed oil, butter, salt, pepper, onion powder

For the record, traditional Green Bean Almondine is also more like a poached green bean with the buttered nuts, whereas these green beans are sufficiently charred and cooked through. Either way, we start with the aforementioned buttered nuts. In a saucepan, heat 2 tB. of butter over medium heat, you want your butter to melt and slowly start to brown. Then add your slivered almonds and continue to cook the almonds until they are WELL toasted and golden – making sure to season your nuts with salt along the way. Remove the nuts from the pan and set aside.

Next, you are going to brown your sausage. Your pan will still be very buttery from your nuts so just add 1 lb. of spicy Italian sausage meat (if you can only find links that’s totally fine, you can uncase the meat yourself) and increase to medium-high heat. Use a flat-edged wooden spoon to REALLY BREAK UP your sausage into fine bits as they begin to cook. It will take about 5-7 minutes to sufficiently cook the sausage, making sure that you get nice crusty edges on your sausage bits. Use a slotted spoon to remove the sausage from the pan and you can reserve them in the same bowl as the browned almonds.

Using the slotted spoon is key so that the natural greases from the sausage remain in the pan so you can sauté your green beans in the sausage fat. Make sure all of the ends of your green beans are trimmed. Add 1 tB. of grapeseed oil to your sausage grease, and sauté your green beans over high heat for about 10-12 minutes until they are blistered and SOFT. This is always one of my husband’s complaints with green beans when they are still too crunchy – so maybe this is a preferential thing. Season you green beans with salt, pepper and onion powder. When your green beans are finished to your liking, re-add the sausage and almonds to the pan and give them a quick toss so all the ingredients and flavors really meld together!!!

You could totally serve this with a simple rice or orzo, some type of smaller format starch that will soak up all the juices, but I served mine with my favorite Strawberry Salad:

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Ginger-Scallion Flounder

Let’s re-visit the Ginger Scallion Sauce – because I’ve been enjoying it on the regular these days and this particular dish was SO easy to create a large format dinner for a bunch of people quickly and easily.

So follow the recipe for the ginger scallion sauce (linked above) and add the juice of 1 lime. I got an entire filet of flounder from the seafood market – so about 2 lbs. of fish – and then I seasoned both sides with salt, pepper and ginger powder. I chose to do this INDOORS because flounder is such a thin fish I didn’t want to worry about it falling apart on the grill so broiling it would quickly cook it top to bottom and make for a beautiful and easy presentation!

THINLY slice one whole sweet onion and one lemon. It’s very important to thinly slice your onions here because they are only getting 12 minutes of cook time so if they are too thick they won’t cook thoroughly in that time!!! Put the lemon and onion on the bottom of your baking dish, toss with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and then lay the freshly seasoned fish on top. Smother the flounder with your ginger scallion marinade and then BROIL for 12 minutes.

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Buffalo Cauliflower

You get the drill by now. We’re going to start similar to the Cauliflower Piccatta or the Cauliflower Carbonara – by traditionally roasting our cauliflower florets – then taking it the extra flavor mile with the addition of buffalo of sauce and blue cheese so here we go!

SHOPPING LIST: 3 heads of cauliflower, crumbled blue cheese, buffalo sauce, butter, scallions, salt, pepper, garlic powder

Preheat your oven to 375. Again, I happen to ALWAYS use the convection function on my oven when roasting vegetables, so if you have that, it helps your cauliflower brown quicker. Remove the florets from your cauliflower and lay on a sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and toss well so all of the florets are equally coated in oil and seasoning. You are only going to roast your cauliflower for 30 minutes because you want them to retain their texture more so than in other applications.

Using your favorite buffalo sauce (Noble Made is great and Jake’s Grillin is my FAV!), combine 1/2 cup your preferred buffalo sauce. Melt 2 tB. of butter and combine your buffalo sauce and your butter and mix well. Toss the cauliflower in your buffalo sauce mixture and BROIL for 5-10 minutes until your florets are blistered (this is why you don’t want to over-cook your cauliflower before-hand because it’s getting BLASTED at the end). After plating your cauliflower, top with crumbled blue cheese and sliced scallions. The scallions not only add a pop of color but the acidic crunch of these mild green onions helps break up the innate richness of the buttery buffalo sauce.

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Lemon Poppy Slaw

Here she goes again – singing the praises of cabbage. Now that the weather is warming, it’s so nice to enjoy cabbage raw in a fresh slaw. I served this with the Lemon Pepper Bass Kabobs and ate the leftovers for lunch for many days later – the flavors only getting better as the days went on. Oh, and there’s apple and blue cheese in there too.

SHOPPING LIST: green cabbage, red onion, red apple, blue cheese, mayonnaise, 2 lemons, apple cider vinegar, salt, pepper, poppy seeds

Usually I like to shred my cabbage for coleslaw (or you can always used the pre-cut bags of cabbage mix), but for today’s slaw I chose to rough CHOP half of my green cabbage. The amount of cabbage really depends on how large your head of cabbage is, but you want to end up with about 2 cups of cabbage. Then. slice 1/2 of your red onion very thinly. In a small bowl, squeeze the juice of 1/2 a lemon. Slice your apple as thin as you sliced your cabbage and onion so all of the ingredients in your slaw have a similar shape. Toss your apples in the lemon juice to keep the flesh from turning color. Combine your shredded cabbage with the sliced onions and apples. Top with 1/2 cup of crumbled blue cheese.

Now let’s make the lemon poppy dressing. In a small bowl combine 1/3 cup of mayonnaise, the juice and zest of one lemon, 1 tB. of apple cider vinegar and 1 tB. of poppy seeds. Mix well and season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour the dressing over your cabbage and mix well. This is the type of slaw that saves REALLY well – so make a big batch, enjoy it over a few days – it’s the perfect accompaniment to any simply grilled fish or chicken or and especially my favorite Foolproof Ribs.

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Lemon Pepper Bass Kabobs

Full disclosure: my daughter stole the kebabs from the fish store. When I return I will tell them and add them to my bill. But it’s almost funny because I’ve had kebab sticks saved in my Amazon cart for almost a month that I keep putting aside to instead order gold face masks and kitchen organizers so they have yet to make the cut so here we are now, with stolen kebab sticks, and kinda happy about it.

SHOPPING LIST: 2 lbs. fish, 1 yellow onion, grape tomatoes, olive oil, lemon pepper seasoning, lemon

I had 2 lbs. of fresh striped bass and cut the fish into 1 1/2″ cubes. I tossed the fish in olive oil to make sure that it wouldn’t stick to my grill. I then took a sweet onion, sliced it half, and then into quarters in order to retain large chunks of onion. Then, get to skewering. Start with a few pieces of onion to be the anchor, then a grape tomato, then a chunk of fish, and continue up the entirety of your skewer, securing with a grape tomato on each end. Brush each skewer with olive oil and all sides and then GENEROUSLY coat all sides with your lemon pepper seasoning. I have been using the Selina Naturally Brand and am a BIG fan.

I grilled mine outside on the BBQ, but you could always do this on a grill pan outdoors. Just make sure your grill is HOT – because you really want your onions to be able to blister and cook in the limited amount of time it is going to take for your fish to cook through. I cooked mine about 3 minutes on each side. I usually like to finish freshly grilled seafood with a squeeze of fresh lemon and these kebabs were no exception. I served mine with a Lemon Poppy Slaw but this would also go beautiful with a fresh or store-bought tzatziki (I should probably make some of that and link to that as well)! Sounds like I’ve got some work to do (aside from going back to the fish store to pay for the stolen merch).

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Fried Artichokes

One of the best canned vegetables – in my opinion – are artichoke hearts. I used the quartered hearts for Green Pea Penne Pasta, but lately I’ve been buying the whole hearts which come about 5-7 per can. One of these days I’ll be able to fry them as good as E.A.T. by Zabar’s.

SHOPPING LIST: 3 cans of artichoke hearts, grapeseed oil, salt (optional Lemon Aioli: mayo, lemon, salt, pepper)

The key here is to strain your artichokes and really let them dry. You can pat them dry to expedite the process but I just let them sit out in the open air for an hour or so if I have the time. Then, in your skillet, heat up grapeseed oil over HIGH heat so that the oil goes up about 1/2 inch in your pan. While your oil is heating, set up a drying station for your fried artichokes. I like to remove the small rack from inside my toaster oven because it’s small and has a perfectly sized tray to catch the drippings.

When your oil is hot you are going to fry your artichokes in batches. You do not want to over-crowd your skillet. About 8 artichokes at a time – MAX. DO NOT move them. Once once side starts to brown, you can begin to use a tongs to turn the artichokes, making sure that all sides are fried evenly. Don’t forget THE TOPS of your artichokes – use your tongs to position your artichokes upside-down so the tops get extra crispy as well.

As your artichokes are finished, remove them from the oil and onto the drying rack – making sure to season with salt immediately:

I served these alongside the Whole Roasted Chicken – but they can be served as a STAND ALONE side dish. My favorite accompaniment is a lemon aioli. Whisk together 1/2 cup of mayo with the the zest and juice of 1/2 a lemon. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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The Whole Chicken

Let me tell you the truth. At the French Culinary Institute, we had to perfectly roast a chicken EVERY day – and then perfectly butcher it, without messing up the perfectly browned skin. I aced my final exam, I had mastered the Frenched chicken breast, and then guess what? I never made roast chicken again. It felt oddly daunting and intimidating – and then quarantine struck and it was time to hop back on the horse. And guess what? I’m totally obsessed. It’s SO easy! My daughter loves the chicken jus. I love all the roasted vegetables drowned in schmaltz. The carcass makes the BEST chicken stock for my husband’s Tortellini en Brodo and the best chicken salad for me! So roast chicken is BACK on the menu at the Koffler household in a BIG WAY – and I hope I can encourage you to do the same.

SHOPPING LIST: 1 whole organic chicken, 2 lemons, 1 onion, carrots, celery, soy sauce, honey, salt, pepper, garlic powder

I like to prep my vegetables first. Rough chop your white onion, then slice about 6-8 stalks of celery and 4-6 peeled carrots. Toss your vegetables in a little olive oil and season with salt, pepper and garlic powder and lay them on the bottom of a glass baking dish.

Next, remove your chicken from the packaging – give it a quick rinse under cold water – making sure there is nothing inside the body of the chicken – and pat the entire chicken dry. Season the INSIDE of the carcas with salt and pepper. Slice two lemons in half and shove all four halves of lemon into the inside of the chicken. In a separate bowl, mix 1/2 cup of soy sauce with 1/4 cup of honey and mix well. Rub the entire chicken with the honey soy marinade (reserving a few tB.) and season the entire exterior of the chicken with salt, pepper and garlic powder.

Heat your oven to 400 degrees. Put your chicken breast-side-down on top of the chopped veggies and roast for 10 minutes until the underside of your chicken gets nice and golden. Flip your chicken, cover the breasts again with the remaining marinade, REDUCE your oven heat to 350 degrees and cover the chicken with a tent of tinfoil. Roast for 60 minutes. After 60 minutes, remove the tinfoil, INCREASE your oven heat to 400 degrees and cook until the skin on your chicken is brown and crispy. Remove from the oven – RECOVER – and allow to cool for 15 minutes so the juices can settle.

Once the chicken had rested, I removed all of the veggies using a slotted spoon and arranged them around the permitter of my serving platter and then placed the entire roast chicken in the center. I strained all the remaining juices, skimmed the fat off the top, and served the jus separately. The only thing I added to the dish were Fried Artichokes just to add another vegetable with a crispier texture.

Then I carved the bird so that each my husband and I could have a sliced chicken breast to start:

I kept the remaining chicken on the table and we literally just picked at it – dipping each succulent bite in the seasoned jus and seriously went to town:

I can’t say enough about how happy I am that I have revisited roasting a whole chicken. While this recipe has a honey/soy marinade there are SO MANY things you can do to change the basic flavors of this dish. Swap out the vegetables for cabbage or fennel or Brussels sprouts. Switch up the seasoning with a spice rub or international marinade. JUST GIVE IT A TRY! Don’t be scared. You can’t mess up. And if you do, just use the carcass to make a soup so all is not lost 🙂

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Bacon-Wrapped Asparagus Bundles

File this under SO EASY but looks super impressive and like isn’t that just the key to life sometimes, folks?

SHOPPING LIST: 2 bunches asparagus, 1 package bacon, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, garlic powder

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees and trim the ends off of your asparagus. Spread them out on your baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and mix well so your asparagus are well-coated with oil. Season the asparagus with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Easy enough!

Open your package of bacon, and create bunches of about 4-5 asparagus stalks, wrapping the CENTER of each bundle TIGHTLY with the strip of bacon. You could EASILY use two strips of bacon for each bundle if you want to totally cover the asparagus but I’m into the minimalism for this particular recipe. Once your asparagus are tightly wrapped into bundle, drizzle each bundle with balsamic vinegar like so:

Bake the asparagus at 375 degrees for 20 minutes. Turn the bundles over so that both sides brown evenly and continue cooking for another 20 minutes (40 minutes total). I served them as-is, but you could always dress them up with an extra drizzle of balsamic vinegar or even a balsamic glaze when serving.

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Portobello “Pizza”

BIG into mushrooms right now. I’ve always loved mushrooms – always ordered mushroom pizza as a kid – but now I was told that mushrooms boost immunity so they are extra on my radar when shopping. The farmer’s market had these GIANT portobello caps that were perfect for grilling – but I wanted something more satisfying – hence giving these babies the “pizza” treatment.

SHOPPING LIST: 4 portobello mushrooms, pizza sauce, shredded mozzarella, olive oil, garlic salt, pepper, dried oregano

Remove the stems from your portobellos and make sure they are amply dressed with olive oil and then season both sides with garlic salt and pepper. The mushrooms will simply dry out on the grill if they don’t have enough oil. Get your grill smoking hot, about 400-500 degrees, and then begin grilling your mushrooms FACE UP (so the top of the mushroom cap is exposed, and the underside is on the grill). Grill for 5 minutes and then flip. Continue grilling the mushroom for another 3 minutes or so. Top each mushroom cap with 2-3 tB. of pizza sauce (I used the Organicville Pizza Sauce) and then cover the pizza sauce with shredded mozzarella (fresh mozzarella would have too much moisture for this application). Give the cheese another sprinkle of garlic salt and dried oregano so your portobello pizzas are seasoned from top to bottom! Cover the grill and allow the mushrooms to cook 2-3 more minutes or until your cheese is melted.

This is a wonderful dish to serve with what I call the “pizza salad.” I literally typed up this super simple salad yesterday JUST to be able to link it here – so here you go 🙂

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Simple Arugula Salad

aka “The Pizza Salad”

Why the nickname? I’m not sure where it started – when I think about it I think lovingly of Cecconi’s – but my girlfriends and I have this thing where we love eating cold salad on top of hot pizza. The salad is best when it’s made with arugula – because the peppery nature of the greens cuts the richness of the pizza so well. It’s really just a perfect combination. So here’s my recipe for the perfect pizza salad – which obviously, goes perfectly well with WAY more than just pizza.

SHOPPING LIST: 2 cups arugula, shredded parmesan cheese, olive oil, lemon juice, dijon mustard, salt, pepper

Basically all you have to do here is make your dressing. In a small bowl, add the zest and juice of one lemon. Add 1 tB. of dijon mustard, 2 tB. of olive oil and mix together. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Top your arugula with 1/3 cup of shredded parmesan, top with your dressing and then mix well AND THAT’S IT.

Obviously, the simplicity to the pizza salad is what makes it so easy and versatile – but that doesn’t mean you can’t make this a base for something WAY more exciting. Have a perfectly ripe avocado? That would be an awesome addiction. Toast some sliced almonds and throw them on top. Fry up some pancetta in a pan and add that into the mix. Think of the pizza salad as your jumping off point – it’s fresh, it’s bright, and baby’s got range.

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Georgia *Salad* on my Mind

When my husband told my he wanted to go to Georgia I was confused. It didn’t sound like the far off places he usually suggests. Except he meant Georgia – the COUNTRY – at the same time all our friends were going to Ibiza – so there was a slew of reasons why I was originally against this idea. Turns out, Tbilisi is awesome. Qveri wine, while interesting, has it’s merits. Khachapuri and Khinkali are BOTH phenomenal. And the Georgian answer to a Greek salad was the perfect accompaniment to the aformentioned butter-topped cheesy bread.

SHOPPING LIST: 1 cucumber, cherry tomatoes, red onion, kalamata olives, feta cheese, walnuts, lemon, olive oil, chopped garlic, salt, pepper

This is VERY much like your traditional Greek salad – except the dressing is an herb-less walnut-based “pesto” for lack of a better word. Begin with your usual Greek salad prep. Trim the ends off your cucumber, slice in half lengthwise, remove the seeds and then slice into about 1/3″ inch pieces. Take 1/4 of a red onion and mince finely (unless you love red onion in which case you could totally slice into larger pieces). Hopefully your kalamata olives are already pitted – that’s annoying! – and take 1/2 cup of those and slice in half lengthwise as well. Finally, take a cup of cherry tomatoes – I went with the tri-color version for appearance (are you sensing a theme?) – and slice them lengthwise as well. Add 1/2 cup of crumbled feta and set aside to be dressed.

In your food processor, add 1/2 cup of walnuts and 1 heaping tB. of chopped garlic. Add the zest and juice of one lemon. Add 1 tsp. of salt and 1/2 tsp. of pepper and 1/4 cup of olive oil. Pulse until the mixture comes together like a thick pesto. You WANT there to be bits of walnut – DO NOT EMULSIFY THIS INTO MUSH. Add 1-2 extra tB. of olive oil if your walnut dressing needs more liquid to properly pulse. Once your dressing is set – add 2 3 tB. on top of your chopped vegetables and mix thoroughly. Dress with a little extra feta for the fun of it.

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Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad

This dreary Monday called for a BRIGHT and beautiful recipe. Brussels sprouts salads take a little bit more work because you have to really prep the Brussels, but it’s totally worth it because these baby cabbages are much heartier and satisfying than your typical salad greens.

SHOPPING LIST: 1 lb. Brussels sprouts, shaved parmesan, dried cherries, sunflower seeds, olive oil, stone ground mustard, dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar, salt, pepper

The first step is to trim the ends off your Brussels sprouts – then you are going to BLANCH them quickly. Bring a pot of heavily salted water to boil. Drop in the Brussels sprouts for 3 minutes, and then immediately rinse them under COLD COLD water – or if you have time to create an ice bath (ice + cold water) you can strain your Brussels and drop them in the ice bath. This helps to retain the bright green color! Lay your Brussels out on paper towels and make sure they are fully dry before you continue.

Next, you have to THINLY slice all of the Brussels sprouts. I usually start shredding from the right side, and then when I get half way through, I turn the sprout so it is flat again to continue. Also, some of the whole leaves will have fallen off during the blanching process, reserve them to toss with the shredded sprouts because it looks pretty! You know we’re all about looking pretty over here. When all of your sprouts are thinly sliced, you are practically done.

Top the shredded sprouts with 1/2 cup of dried cherries, 1/2 cup of shredded parmesan and 3 tB. of sunflower seeds (you could also use our aforementioned candied pecans here or pistachios!). Lastly, the simplest mustard vinaigrette – in a small bowl combine 1 tB. stone ground mustard, 1 tB. dijon mustard, 2 tB. apple cider vinegar and 2 tB. of olive oil. Whisk together and season with salt and pepper to taste. Dress your salad with your mustard vinaigrette, toss well and enjoy.

One of the other things that makes this salad so wonderful, is aside from the Brussels sprouts being heartier than your typical salad greens, they also stand up WONDERFULLY to dressing – no soggy Susan around here! What else does that mean? This is one of the FEW salads that can actually be enjoyable the next day!

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Pork Sausage Sugo Bianco

Sometimes you make a pasta dish that makes you feel like you’re back in Italy and for a second you can close your eyes and take a sip of your Barolo and all is well. This dish was that for me. My local farmer’s market, which I have become completely obsessed with, had homemade Sweet Pork Sausage – so you just have to make sure that when you purchase sausage for this dish that it is able to be UN-CASED (or removed from the casing).

SHOPPING LIST: 1 lb. sweet pork sausage, 1 box Sfoglini Trumpets (or pasta of your choosing), chopped garlic, 1 lemon, white wine, butter, olive oil, fennel seeds, garlic salt, dried oregano, pepper

Like most great pasta dishes, it’s very important to par-cook your pasta and set it aside to finish cooking in your sauce. I will also say that these Sfoglini Trumpets are certainly a SPECIAL type of pasta – their density, their shape – maybe it’s psychosomatic but I feel like using this particular brand added to the specialness of this dish. Otherwise, I would probably use an orechiette or a pappardelle as a back-up. Once your pasta is par-cooked, toss it with some olive oil and set aside.

For your sugo bianco, you are going to start with with a 2 tB. of olive oil and 1 heaping tB. of butter in your sauce pan. Add 1 tB. of chopped garlic and begin to sauté over medium-high heat. When the garlic starts getting some color, add the uncased sweet pork sausage – I usually just snip off the end and remove the meat like squeezing a tube of toothpaste! Use the edge of your wooden spoon to really break up the meat. Season with 1 tsp. of dried oregano and 1 tsp. of fennel seeds (adding the herbs and seeds really UPS the flavor of the sausage). Once your sausage is getting browned, de-glaze the pan with 1/4 cup of white wine. Add the zest and juice of one lemon and continue cooking until your sausage is fully cooked through and your liquids have reduced into a thicker sauce. Season with garlic salt and pepper to taste and then add your pasta to finishing cooking in the pan with your pork sauce – about 2 minutes.

The little bit of lemon here really works to balance the richness of the butter and the pork fat. Super duper simple yet tremendously satisfying.

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Crispy Salmon Skin

SHOPPING LIST: salmon skin (mine came from a 2 lb. salmon filet), grapeseed oil, sweet chili sauce, spicy mayo, salt, pepper

A long time ago a girlfriend introduced me to Salmon Skin Handrolls and they have been a favorite of mine ever since. Soon after I started making my own salmon skin because I realized that whenever I’d go to Whole Foods I’d always ask for the skin to be removed from my salmon and they were just THROWING IT AWAY! This gem of a product was totally going to waste. So now when I order salmon I ask them to make sure the fish has been scaled and then I have them remove the skin and package it separately. UNSCALED SKIN, while it can be tackled at home with the back of a knife, is MESSY and kind of gross – so if you remember, ask to have it scaled beforehand!

Once your salmon skin is prepped, rub it with grapeseed oil (which I prefer since broiling is such a HIGH heat that you need an oil that can withstand high temperatures). Give the skin a quick season of salt and pepper and then under the broiler it goes for 10 minutes. Anytime you broil, ALWAYS keep an eye out. Some broilers are quicker than others and you can go from broiled to burnt in NO time. When your salmon skin is ready it will actually feel FIRM and CRISPY to the touch. Allow the skin to cool a bit, and then I like to cut mine up into pieces – a kitchen sheers works very well for this.

I always do this particularly when I make the Wasabi Pea Salmon and then I use the salmon skin almost like chip to eat each bite instead of a fork – I know that sounds weird but try it before you knock it. The second best part is obviously the dipping sauce. (SLASH – I think this is essentially the “dressing” for my fav Calamari Salad at Bobby Van’s – maybe thinned out a bit with some rice wine vinegar – wouldn’t be a Gluttoness recipe without some digression HA!) Anyways – super simple – equal parts Sweet Chili Sauce and Spicy Mayo. Brands don’t matter at all here and if you don’t have spicy mayo on hand you can always just mix 3 tB. of mayonnaise with 1 tsp. of sriracha and call it a day!

If you have leftover salmon skin, OBVIOUSLY make hand rolls. I always keeps roasted seaweed sheets on hand. Add some white rice, sliced avocado or cucumber and you’ve got instant sushi in a second!

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Cauliflower Piccatta

First we had Charred Broccoli Puttanesca. Then we had Cauliflower Carbonara. And today we have Cauliflower Piccata – giving another classic Italian treatment to take your typical roast veggies to the next level – and answering my cousin’s request for a new cauliflower recipe 🙂

SHOPPING LIST: 2 heads cauliflower, butter, 2 lemons, capers, coconut oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, garlic salt

Preheat your oven to 400. Again, I happen to ALWAYS use the convection function on my oven when roasting vegetables, so if you have that, it helps your cauliflower brown quicker. Remove the florets from your cauliflower and lay on a sheet pan. Drizzle with coconut oil (grapeseed oil, olive oil, whatever you prefer), season with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and toss well so all of the florets are equally coated in oil and seasoning. Roast your cauliflower for 40-60 minutes – or until the florets are sufficiently browned.

For most of us, dinner ends here. By taking, LITERALLY, two extra minutes, you can transform your basic roasted cauliflower into something way more flavorful and interesting.

Zest two lemons and set aside. In a LARGE saucepan, the type where the sides come up a few inches, melt 2 heaping tB. of butter (or a butter substitute – I love the Earth’s Balance variety) over HIGH heat. After your butter melts it will start to BROWN – this is called brown butter, or in French, “buerre noisette” – allowing your butter to brown in this way will give it an awesome, nutty flavor. Once your butter starts to brown, add the juice of one of your lemons, the zest of both lemons, 3 tB. of capers and season with garlic salt. Once that is mixed, add all of your roasted cauliflower to the pan and give it a quick toss in your lemon-caper-butter sauce (like below).

I promise that you’ll find that taking these few extra steps in the kitchen will be worth the end result on your kitchen table.

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Ginger Scallion WHATEVER, or in this case, Swordfish

This sauce is special. It’s easy, it’s bright and it will add flavor and vibrancy to any protein you pair it with. That’s why the sauce is the basis of this recipe – what you choose to do with it is really up to you!

SHOPPING LIST: 1 bunch of scallions, ginger knob, chopped garlic, jalapeno (optional), lime, olive oil, sesame oil, salt, pepper, ginger powder

Chop your scallions very thinly about 3/4 of the way – trim the hairy ends and reserve the remaining scallion ends to throw on the grill (THIS IS SERIOUSLY ONE OF THE BEST PARTS!!! Last time we went to Tulum we pulled over for street side tacos en route to the Villa and picked up 3 plates of grilled green onions to go with our al pastor). Add to the chopped scallions 2 tB. of minced ginger, 1 tB. chopped garlic, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 tB. sesame oil and the juice of one lime. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

I used half of the ginger scallion sauce to marinade my swordfish. I first seasoned the two swordfish steaks with salt, pepper and ginger powder and then tossed them in the bowl with the marinade and the extra scallions ends! Adding the ginger powder to the swordfish seasoning subtly amplified the ginger flavor. Then I grilled the swordfish (and the scallions) about 4 minutes on each side, and topped the swordfish with loads of extra sauce. DISCLAIMER: After I used the ginger scallion sauce as a marinade, I added 1/2 of a chopped, fresh jalapeño to add some spice for the next step. Shocker – I know.

I served the grilled swordfish directly on a cutting board and garnished the dish with the gorgeous charred scallion ends. Honestly, if there is one thing I would have done differently, it would have been to buy MORE scallions just so I could have had even more grilled more green onions since they were truly a treat. Otherwise, feeling free to double or even triple this recipe since it will stay good in your refrigerator and will become an instant favorite!

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Strawberry Salad

Here’s what I have to say about this Strawberry Salad – aside from the fact that a Strawberry Salad is the ONLY salad my husband actually requests – there are 4 key ingredients aside from the strawberries and they ALL can be substituted – honestly, even the strawberries could be peaches if that’s what you have on hand.

So you have your fruit, your greens, your cheese and your nuts. I like to add avocado (which I toss in lemon juice to keep it’s color) – again, optional. So for the sake of this blog making any sense, I am going to give you my exact recipe from the photograph above, but I just want to re-iterate that this is merely the blueprint for an easy fruit-forward salad and you can be creative with your elements.

SHOPPING LIST: romaine hearts, strawberries, blue cheese, avocado, lemon, pecans, confectioners sugar, cayenne pepper, balsamic vinegar, stone ground mustard, olive oil, honey, salt, pepper

I used the candied pecans for this because I had them leftover already from the Grilled Radicchio Salad – so follow this link so I’m not a broken record with the candied pecan instructions – or do what I would normally do and buy the candied pecans in the cheese department at your local Whole Foods.

Chop your romaine hearts (I used two) and set aside. I like the greenery in this salad to be second fiddle, almost OVER-POWERED by all the goodies. My husband prefers spinach for this, I love arugula, but we already had romaine hearts so that’s where we’re at. Chop about 8 large strawberries, first cutting off the ends, then slicing them in half through the root, and then in half again so you get almost triangular shapes. Score half an avocado, remove the sliced cubes with a large spoon and toss immediately in the juice of 1/2 a lemon and a sprinkle of salt.

Aside from this minimal prep work, the next thing you really NEED to make here is the vinaigrette – which is a GREAT standby. You could even use this an easy chicken marinade. In a small bowl, add 2 tB. of balsamic vinegar, 2 tB. of stone ground mustard, 1 tB. of olive oil, salt and pepper. Cover your bed of chopped romaine with your sliced strawberries, blue cheese crumbles (feta or fresh mozzarella would work well here!), candied pecans (I like to break them by hand) and avocado. Give your dressing a good mix before you drizzle it over the top to make sure the vinaigrette is emulsified. As you’ll see in the picture, the mustard seeds are key to finishing this dish. They beautifully dress all of the accoutrements of your salad and burst with mustard flavor in each bountiful bite.

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Greek Fennel Bake

I am so into this recipe. I was staring at two bulbs of fennel and for the sake of being creative, I didn’t just slice it up with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and parmesan for my usual simple salad. I wanted to roast it and I wanted it to be cheesy and thus the Greek Fennel Bake was born.

SHOPPING LIST: 2 bulbs fennel, red onion, pitted Kalamata olives, feta cheese, grapeseed oil, garlic salt, pepper, dried oregano

This couldn’t be simpler. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Remove the stems from your fennel and any dirty outer layers. Slice the bulb in half through the core, and then slice each half thinly. Do the same for your entire red onion and combine the sliced veggies in a baking dish. Toss your vegetables in grapeseed oil, garlic salt and pepper. Take 1/4 cup of kalamata olives and slice them in half. Add the kalamata olive halves and 1/2 cup of crumbled feta (or MORE if you want it extra cheesy) and 1 tB. of dried oregano and mix well. Bake for ONE HOUR. It’s a long time but you want your vegetables to be blistered and fork tender and hopefully look like so:

You could easily serve it directly in the baking dish, but I thought it looked nice to use a spatula and CAREFULLY remove sections of the finished fennel bake and re-plate on a clean patter. This isn’t so much a casserole since there isn’t a binder – melted feta doesn’t creative an adhesive like say melted cheddar or mozzarella would – but the FLAVORS meld together beautifully nonetheless. Between the charred feta, red onion, olives and dry oregano, you will totally appreciate the Grecian influence of this delicious and easy fennel bake. Also, if you want to make this VEGAN – you could totally sub the feta for my fav Violife Just Like Feta feta.

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Pistachio Gremolata

What a gorgeous green bowl of goodness! I had a beautiful piece of fresh striped bass from Out of the Blue and wanted to give it a little more love than simply grilling it. The kids were snacking on pistachios so I had another one of my AH HA! moments – gremolata! But to keep the green theme alive, I swapped the traditional use of lime for lemon

SHOPPING LIST: salted pistachios, chopped garlic, 2 limes, olive oil, salt, pepper

I like to do this by hand even though YOU COULD just pulse everything in a food processor – BUT if you over pulse this the texture will be like a pesto and this is NOT that. You’ll need 3/4 cup of de-shelled salted pistachios, 2 tB of chopped garlic, the zest and juice of 2 limes and 3 tB. of olive oil. I chopped the pistachios, garlic and lime zest together, then mixed in the lime juice and olive oil and seasoned to taste with salt and pepper.

As mentioned, I served mine with/on top a fresh filet of grilled striped bass:

I seasoned the Striped Bass with this amazing Nature’s Promise Mango Habanero Seasoning that I am totally obsessed and highly recommend and then grilled it until the flesh just started to peel apart in the center. When the striped bass was finished, I gave it an extra squeeze of fresh lime on top before topping it with the gremolata. The gremolata was the perfect addition and COMPLIMENT to the spiced, grilled fish. The nuttiness of the pistachios gave each bite of tender bass more substance and the fresh lime only enhanced the subtle mango flavors from my new favorite spice blend.

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Vegan Chipotle Slaw

Serious coleslaw enthusiast here! I love it creamy, I love it tangy – it’s just a great vessel for raw cabbage that you can spice up in a variety of ways. I was going to saute a pound of turkey meat with chopped garlic and Frontera Red Enchilada Sauce to make easy tacos for dinner and figured the best way to class it up a bit was with a unique, homemade slaw. If you haven’t been following along, I’m also a spice enthusiast – so this baby has gets a triple kick from chipotle aioli, charred jalapenos and ancho chili powder. Don’t worry – there’s plenty of acid to balance it out – and nothing a dollop of sour cream can’t temper. Oh, and it’s vegan!

SHOPPING LIST: green cabbage, red onion, carrot, jalapeño pepper, Sir Kensington’s Chipotle Vegan Mayo, 1 lime, apple cider vinegar, stone ground mustard, garlic powder, ancho chili powder, salt, pepper

Take 1/3 of your green cabbage and cut it VERY thinly so the cabbage has a shredded-like quality. Peel one carrot and grate the entire thing. Slice 1/2 of your red onion VERY thinly so it has a similar composition to your shredded cabbage. Char your jalapeño pepper – you can throw it on the grill or use a tong to hold it over an open flame on a gas-fired stovetop like I did. Once your jalapeño is charred on the perimeter, slice the entire thing and add it to your bowl of veggies. In a separate bowl, combine 2 tB. of the vegan chipotle mayo, 2 tB. stone ground mustard, 2 tB. apple cider vinegar, the juice of 1/2 a lime, 1/2 tsp. garlic powder, 1/2 tsp. chili powder. Mix and add salt and pepper to taste!

I just want to share a picture of how I served this. For me, this spicy SLAW was the main attraction of the dinner, not the meat:

I served it with corn tortillas, Mexican shredded cheese and a variety of my favorite hot sauces I’ve mentioned here before – Siete Cashew Cashew, Herdez Guacamole Salsa, El Yucateco Chile Habanero Hot Sauce and Herdez Salsa Taquera SPICY! (removed from the can). I basically used this awesome slaw as a base and built an incredible taco bowl on top — my husband ate turkey enchilada meat and cheese on a corn tortillas until he couldn’t breathe. To each his own.

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Grilled Radicchio Salad

Not going to lie, very much missing Via Carota right now. I love their grilled raddichio, amongst basically everything else of the menu. Theirs is definitely much oilier than this, but Via Carota can get away with that. Typing this I’m thinking I should find a way to re-create the griddled Scamorza so stay tuned. I digress. So my local farmers market was unpacking these beautiful heads of radicchio and I figured I’d give it a whirl on the BBQ. You have to make sure your radicchio is very oiled before going on the grill so it really chars and softens, which will *somewhat* lessen the natural bitterness that so characterizes these purple leaves.

SHOPPING LIST: 1 head radicchio, blue cheese, pecans, confectioners sugar, salt, cayenne pepper, balsamic vinegar, balsamic glaze

The first step is candying the pecans. I used this exact recipe for the World’s Best Charoset but I’ll re-paste it for you here in a smaller amount: Take 1 cup of pecans and lay them on a baking sheet and throw them in a 350 degree oven for 4 minutes. Set up a strainer in your sink and then, in a mixing bowl, combine 2 tB. of confectioners sugar with 1/2 tsp. of salt and 5 dashes of cayenne pepper. When the pecans emerge from the oven, put them in the strainer and run water over the nuts so they are equally wet. Then, toss the wet nuts in the bowl of spiced confectioners sugar, replace the seasoned nuts on your baking sheet and bake them another 5 minutes in the oven until they are crunchy and candied. Allow them to cool, chop and reserve.

Slice your radicchio into 4 equal quarters. Brush the entirety of each radicchio quarter with olive oil, getting between the leaves and then season thoroughly with salt and pepper. Each radicchio quarter essentially has 3 sides, so on a hot grill (or in a cast iron skillet), you want to char each side of the radicchio until it’s a fork tender. At this point you could choose to chop your charred radicchio or present each wedge individually like I did below.

To finish, cover your grilled radicchio with blue cheese crumbles, your candied walnuts (I like to break mine up by hand to give them a more organic look) and a drizzle of balsamic glaze. I use the Alessi Balsamic Reduction when I don’t want to reduce the balsamic myself. Otherwise, start with 1 cup of balsamic vinegar in a small saucepan and reduce by half. I like to serve this with extra balsamic or balsamic reduction on the side because I like mine extra saucy. As mentioned, you could make this entire dish as a CHOPPED salad if that’s your jam, I just think it’s way prettier this way.

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ChickPea Chicken Parm

Chicken parm should be chicken parm – and using chickpea crumbs as a breading certainly doesn’t sound exciting – but Passover is here and this picture looked so pretty and it actually turned out DELICIOUS – like I ate it for the next three days hot, cold, whatever. Gluten free or not, this was a winner winner chicken dinner, so use whatever breading you want!

I found Watusee Chickpea Crumbs at my local organic market and figured I’d give it a try with the 3 remaining chicken breasts in the fridge. The key (as usual) – SEASON- every step of the way.

SHOPPING LIST: boneless/skinless chicken breasts, chickpea crumbs (or any breadcrumbs), eggs, tomato sauce, shredded mozzarella, vegetable oil, salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic salt, dried oregano, honey (optional)

You’ve heard this all before, but pay attention to the seasoning steps here. First thing you are going to do is slice your chicken breasts in half horizontally to get more of a “cutlet”. Layer each half of chicken breast between two pieces of plastic wrap and use a small jar or any other kitchen tool to pound the chicken breast thinner. Season both sides of the chicken breast with salt and pepper.

Next, set-up you breading station. In one bowl, whisk 6 eggs together with salt, pepper and onion powder. In a second bowl, empty out the entire package of chickpea crumbs (or about 2 cups of your chosen breading). Each flattened chicken breast goes into the eggs, and then into the breading, and then reserve each breaded piece of chicken on a cutting board. When all 6 chicken cutlets are breaded and displayed on the cutting board, use a large piece of paper towel to press the breading down into the chicken – I also recommended doing this in the Seared Tuxedo Tuna recipe because for some reason I’m convinced this bit of pressure helps the coating stick better.

In a wide saucepan, add enough vegetable oil so it goes about 1/4 inch up the sides of the pan and heat over high-heat. Set up a drying rack over a baking sheet to allow your chicken to properly cool after removing from the oil. Once your oil is super hot, fry 3 cutlets at a time so you don’t overcrowd your pan. It will take about 4 minutes per side or until each side is golden brown and crunchy! Season the cutlets with garlic salt immediately after removing them from the fryer. This is true for anytime you are frying food – you always want to season it right away!!!

To assemble your chicken parm you are going to use a baking dish. If you like your parm extra saucy, you are going to want to coat the bottom of your baking dish with tomato sauce. (I do NOT prefer to make my parm this way, as seen above, because I like the crunchy part of the chicken to be as crunchy as possible and the more the breadcrumbs touch the sauce the softer they will become). Top each cutlet with tomato sauce and then top the tomato sauce with a GENEROUS amount of shredded mozzarella. Finish each compiled chicken parm cutlet with a sprinkle of garlic salt and dried oregano. The dried seasoning here is key to this dish as it gives the parm a pizza-like quality. Bake at 375 for 25 degrees.

I served mine with honey since I’m a complete convert after being introduced to this combo at Quality Italian – I do the same thing with the Whole Eggplant Parm as well or anytime I eat a piece of pizza. If you’ve got Mike’s Hot Honey I recommend that, or else I just combo plain honey and red pepper flakes – works like a charm.

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World’s Best Charoset

I said it, and I mean it. Last night I’m eating the haroset and thinking “why do I only make this once a year?” Then I’m thinking – “why am I eating this for dinner when I REALLY should be eating this over vanilla ice cream!?” But then I’m googling – Is ice cream kosher for passover? This is what happens when your religion encourages you to drink all night! Anyways, this recipe is LEGIT and thank goodness this makes a LARGE batch because you’re gonna want a ton of this.

SHOPPING LIST: 6 red apples, 2 lemons, pecans, walnuts, dates, dried cherries, Manischevitz wine, honey, confectioners sugar, cayenne pepper, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg

The first step is candying the pecans. If you’re lucky to have a store nearby like Whole Foods that carries candied pecans than lucky you – I would totally just buy them if I could. For the rest of us – take 1 1/2 cups of pecans and lay them on a baking sheet and throw them in a 350 degree oven for 4 minutes. Set up a strainer in your sink and then, in a mixing bowl, combine 1/4 cup of confectioners sugar with 1/2 tsp. of salt and 5 dashes of cayenne pepper. When the pecans emerge from the oven, put them in the strainer and run water over the nuts so they are equally wet. Then, toss the wet nuts in the bowl of spiced confectioners sugar, replace the seasoned nuts on your baking sheet and bake them another 3-5 minutes in the oven until they are crunchy and candied (like below). Allow them to cool, chop and reserve.

Next, let’s just prep all of ingredients. Chop 1 1/2 cups of walnuts. Remove the stem and seeds from 1 cup of dates (unless yours are already pitted) and chop the dates as well. Squeeze the juice of two lemons. Peel and chop all 6 of your red apples (the size of your chop is very preferential, I like a large apple cube because the apples will start to lose firmness so the larger chop helps retain their structure), immediately tossing them in the bowl of lemon juice to retain their color. Season your apples with 1/2 tsp. of salt, 1 tsp of cinnamon and 1/2 tsp. of nutmeg. Add your chopped nuts (pecans and walnuts), chopped dates and 1 cup of dried red cherries. Add 1 cup of Manischevitz wine and 2 heaping tablespoons of honey. Mix well and allow to marinate for at least 2 hours in the refrigerator, stirring occasionally if you remember.

Since I couldn’t find an answer to the ice cream question, I ended up eating the Charoset later with melted cream cheese which, as usual, SOUNDS weird, but it seriously tasted amazing or maybe that was the bottle of Brunello talking. Either way, can’t wait to do it all over again later!

Quick Candied Pecans

We use these babies in lots of recipes so it made sense to finally give them a little attention of their own! Whether you use them for any of the following recipes, throw a bowl of these on your next cheese plate or add a handful to a bowl of vanilla ice cream, these candied pecans are easy and versatile in so many ways!

SHOPPING LIST: pecans, confections sugar, salt, cayenne pepper

Take 1 cup of pecans and lay them on a baking sheet and throw them in a 350 degree oven for 4 minutes. Set up a strainer in your sink and then, in a mixing bowl, combine 2 tB. of confectioners sugar with 1/2 tsp. of salt and 5 dashes of cayenne pepper. When the pecans emerge from the oven, put them in the strainer and run water over the nuts so they are equally wet. Then, toss the wet nuts in the bowl of spiced confectioners sugar. Replace the seasoned nuts on your baking sheet and bake them another 5 minutes in the oven until they are crunchy and candied. Allow them to cool.

Feel free to double or even triple this recipe as you can ALWAYS save these in a jar for future uses – or just to nibble on as a delicious snack.