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Macaroni Pie

In college my friend used to whip up his famous “macaroni and cheese” using milk, American cheese and angel hair pasta. So simple yet so satisfying. This is sort of an homage to that, but more so it’s just an interesting way of serving a spaghetti side-dish in a unique, sliced manner. I put my French cooking education to work here – making a quick béchamel to really help bind the pasta and keep each bite creamy and delicious.

SHOPPING LIST: 1 box angel hair pasta, 1 stick unsalted butter, 2 eggs, AP flour, milk, American cheese, shredded mozzarella, parmesan cheese, ground mustard, nutmeg, salt, pepper

First, wipe your skillet with olive oil and throw it into a 375 degree oven to pre-heat while you’re prepping. Since we are using a long pasta, I actually like to boil the pasta water in a wide, shallow saucepan. (You can totally use 2 pots for this and cook your pasta + prepare you sauce simultaneously but for the ease of filling your sink with dishes I am going to explain this a 2-part process.)

Especially since this is a BAKED pasta recipe, we are going to make sure to UNDERCOOK our angel hair – no more than 6 minutes!! Strain your al dente angel hair (reserving a 1/2 cup of pasta water JUST in case) and immediately give it a toss in about 1/2 cup of olive oil to ensure the strands don’t stick together. I like to use tongs to mix the pasta with the olive oil to really make sure that your strands are well-coated.

Once your pasta is strained, you can give the same pot a quick cleaning and use it for your béchamel. Melt the entire stick of butter over medium heat. When your butter is totally melted, add 1/2 cup of flour and whisk well. Bring the heat to medium-high and allow your roux to begin to bubble and cook. I like to cook my roux for about 90 seconds. Add 4 cups of milk and continue whisking. Your milk will begin to thicken into a beautiful cream sauce – your basic béchamel. Turn your heat down to low and add 1/2 cup of shredded mozzarella and 4 slices of American cheese (I just rip the cheese with my hands). Season your béchamel with 1 tsp. ground mustard, 1 tsp. black better, 1/2 tsp. nutmeg and 1 tB. salt. (If your cheese sauce is getting a bit too thick, you can always thin it out with some of your pasta water.)

Add your pasta directly into your cheese sauce and mix thoroughly. Give both eggs a quick mix in a cup and then add them directly directly into the pasta mixture, using your same tongs to really incorporate everything. After the egg is mixed in, remove your hot skillet from the oven and add the pasta directly into your hot skillet, using a spatula to flatten the top. Finish with 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese and a final sprinkle of salt and pepper.

Bake your Macaroni Pie in the oven for 18 minutes (rotating half-way through) or until the parmesan is starting to brown and bubble. ALLOW the pie to cool! If you serve this too hot, you won’t be able to cut perfect slices of macaroni pie. This is an awesome dish to bring to other people’s houses because it presents really beautifully and can be re-heated quickly and easily since it’s served in the cooking dish. The only problem about bringing it to someone else’s house (as I learned this weekend) is then you don’t have the leftovers. Oh, the things I would have done with that Macaroni Pie.

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Grilled Zucchini Salad

I know what you’re thinking: SHE DID IT! Sure did. Found a delicious and simple way to serve up all that zucchini from your garden. DISCLAIMER: I think I killed my garden after the first couple harvests so this zucchini is actually from a friend’s garden but the funny thing about gardening is like – you could just let your friend do it for you – the zucchini tastes the same no matter who grows it. Ha!

SHOPPING LIST: 3 zucchini, 1 lemon, ricotta salata, hazlenuts, chopped garlic, olive oil, truffle oil, garlic salt, pepper

Thinly slice your zucchini LENGTHWISE so you have long, thin zucchini ribbons. In a small bowl, combine 1 cup of olive oil with 2 tB. of truffle oil and 2 tB. of chopped garlic. Mix well and use a pastry brush to smother your zucchini ribbons in your homemade garlic-truffle oil. Sprinkle each side of the zucchini with garlic salt and pepper. Give them a QUICK grill – about 2/3 minutes per side – you want LIGHT grill marks so you’re zucchini ribbons are soft and pliable.

Pile your grilled zucchini ribbons on your serving plate. Freshly grate 1/2 cup of ricotta salata directly over the zucchini and top with 1/3 cup of chopped macadamia nuts (or toasted pine nuts or hazelnuts would work well here too). Finish with the zest and juice of one lemon to brighten all of the flavors. A sprinkle of red pepper flake would also be a nice finishing touch here – pulling double duty with a splash of HEAT and COLOR!

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Ginger Scallion Cauliflower

If you follow my instagram @TheGluttoness you’ll know a couple of things – I have been addicted to my own Ginger Scallion Sauce and I’m always looking for an easy way to spice up my family’s favorite – roasted cauliflower. **Granted, I usually keep a plate of plain roasted cauliflower for the kids before I take a quick detour to flavortown**

SHOPPING LIST: 3 heads cauliflower, 1 bunch of scallions, ginger knob, chopped garlic, jalapeno (optional), lime, olive oil, coconut oil, sesame oil, salt, pepper, garlic power, ginger powder

You know how this goes. 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. 

While your cauliflower is cooking, mix up a batch of your Ginger Scallion Sauce. Drizzle 4-5 tB. of your Ginger Scallion Sauce over your cauliflower and finish under the broiler for 5 minutes. Give the cauliflower another 5 minutes to cool after removing from the oven – I find that allowing the cauliflower to cool gives it a minute to “set” whereas sometimes the florets are too soft to move right out of the oven. Finish with an extra drizzle of your sauce, because WHY NOT!!!!!!! and then instantly question why people eat plain roasted cauliflower in the first place.

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Macadamia Nut Pesto

Remember that incredible Blackberry Salad with the macadamia nuts?! Well I had some leftover macadamias and the ONLY good thing my house renters did was leave me a ton of fresh basil so it only seemed natural to riff on a classic pesto (which usually has pine nuts).

SHOPPING LIST: fresh basil, macadamia nuts, chopped garlic, parmesan cheese, olive oil, lemon, salt, pepper

Give you fresh basil a quick rinse and dry and then you want to get about 2 cups of basil leaves into your food processor. Top the clean basil leaves with 1/2 cup of macadamia nuts, 3/4 cup of parmesan cheese, 2 heaping tB. of chopped garlic and the juice of one lemon. Lastly, add 1/2 cup of olive oil and begin to pulse your food processor until your pesto becomes chunky and emulsified. If your pesto needs more liquid, add 1 tB. of olive oil at a time until it’s easily blended. Finally, add two pinches of salt and one pinch of black pepper and give it one last pulse to blend the seasonings. Your finished pesto should like so:

Now for your pasta. We’re really big fans of the Anna Long Fusilli pasta these days but you can use ANY pasta of your choice. Regardless of noodle, there are a few keys steps to really making this dish perfectly. First of all, make sure you are cooking your pasta in HEAVILY salted boiling water. You want to par-cook your pasta – for this dish I cooked the pasta for 11/12 minutes – and then retain 1/2 cup of the pasta liquid before straining your pasta.

To finish your pesto pasta, add 2 tB. of olive oil (or even butter) to a saucepan with the 1/2 cup of pasta water and 3/4 cup of your pesto sauce and heat over medium heat. The pasta water and oil will loosen your pesto and create a creamier sauce. Re-add your pasta to the pan and continue to cook the pasta 2 minutes in the pesto sauce. Finishing your pasta this way will allow the pasta to really soak in and absorb all of the flavors of the pesto. Give the dish and another pinch of salt and pepper and quick toss before serving. A little red pepper flake would be a nice touch here if you’re cooking for people who like things to have a kick (like me).

** Side Note ** I also love thinning out this pesto recipe – 1/2 cup of pesto with 2 tB. of apple cider vinegar – to create a pesto vinaigrette to use as a dressing for salads or grilled vegetables.

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Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp with Rosemary Apricot Glaze

I know the name is a mouth-full but this gorgeous dish is actually super simple to execute. It’s got everything you want – the sweet, the salty, the crunchy, the supple shrimp and that herbaceous rosemary finish just brings it all home. Also, I’m just *really* having a moment with dried rosemary – my Fig + Rosemary “Baked” Brie has also been on repeat – I just love the earthiness it brings to these fruit-foward dishes.

SHOPPING LIST: 2 lbs. shrimp (peeled, de-vained, tails on), 1 package of bacon, apricot preserves, balsamic vinegar, dried rosemary, olive oil, salt, black pepper

Toss your shrimp with a few tB. of olive oil, salt and pepper so that they are well-oiled and seasoned. Always remember anytime you’re cooking, you want to season EVERY step of the way! Take your package of bacon and lay it flat on your cutting board. Cut the entire package in half so you each strip of bacon is now 2 shorter strips. Wrap each shrimp in a half strip of bacon, starting from the tail and wrapping the entirety of the mollusk. The bacon will be somewhat tacky and stick together if you wrap tightly enough.

While your BBQ is heating up, get an ALL METAL saucepan that you can put directly on your grill (you can TOTALLY do this step inside I just find it’s quite easy to do it together). Add 1 cup of apricot preserves, 2 tB. of balsamic vinegar, 2 heaping tB. of dried rosemary, a pinch of salt and black pepper. Place the metal saucepan directly on your BBQ so the apricot preserves can begin to melt into a glaze. Place your bacon-wrapped shrimp on the BBQ. Once your preserves melt, use a pastry brush to add the glaze to the bacon wrapped shrimp. Cook about 5 minutes and then flip your shrimp and continue with another coat of glaze. (If at any point your glaze is getting too hot or reduced, place an oven mit over the handle of your saucepan and remove from the heat). Cook for another 5 minutes or so and then give a final flip and a third coat of glaze. Because the shrimp is wrapped in the bacon, don’t worry so much about over-cooking them because it will take a bit longer for the heat to permeate through the bacon and thoroughly cook the shrimp. Remove the shrimp from the BBQ and finish with any remaining glaze.

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Garlic Parmesan Zucchini Rounds

My first harvest. MAJOR! I planted these soup to nuts – built the garden, lugged the soil, planted the seeds, forgot to label them, wondered what I had planted and then basically hoped for the best. So to come back to a dozen GIGANTIC zucchini felt like such an accomplishment and thus here is a simple zucchini recipe. I feel like some people may refer to this type of recipe as “CHIPS” but honestly, chips are deep-fried potatoes lets not get ahead of ourselves.

SHOPPING LIST: 4 zucchini, parmesan cheese, olive oil, chopped garlic, salt, pepper, red pepper flake, garlic powder

The first step is to thinly slice your zucchini into rounds. It turns out zucchini and cucumbers not only look alike – they have similar water content – so in order for your zucchini to not end up water logged you MUST salt your zucchini rounds and let them sit in a strainer for a least an hour. I even like to wipe the extra water off the zucchini using a paper towel before moving forward. DO NOT skip this step!

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Lay your zucchini rounds on a rack over a baking sheet. (Again, using the rack OVER the baking sheet will allow the zucchini to continue to omit excess water.) In a bowl, mix together 1 cup of olive oil with 2 heaping tB of chopped garlic. Using a pastry brush, brush all of the zucchini rounds with the garlic-oil mixture, and then season with salt and pepper. REPEAT on both sides, making sure especially on the second side that you get all of those little bits of garlic on top of the zucchini. Finish your zucchini with about 1 tsp. of parmesan cheese PER round – you want them covered!!!!! And then a final sprinkle of garlic powder and red pepper flakes for additional spice and flavor.

Roast your zucchini rounds for 12 minutes and then BROIL for the final 5 minutes until the tops of your zucchini rounds are browned and bubbly. ALLOW the zucchini to cool so that the bubbly parmesan can set before serving. Anyways, like an influencer who gets married and warns “wedding spam coming soon” that’s basically going to be me with new zucchini recipes, 90 percent of which will probably include cheese.

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Fried Brussels Sprouts

All Brussels Sprouts are NOT created equally. You know what I mean. Sometimes you go to a restaurant and they are like CRACK. The Smith in NYC immediately comes to mind. My dad’s country club in Philadelphia, Green Valley, also knows what’s up with frying Brussels sprouts. We used to love going to his club on Friday nights for happy hour on the lawn, mainly for the Brussels sprouts, but also because they had babysitters and bouncy houses for the kids and Mama. Had. Off!!!

SHOPPING LIST: 1 lbs. Brussels sprouts, vegetable oil, lime, kosher salt, Sir Kensigton’s Chile Lime Crema

First step is prepping your sprouts. Slice off the ends. Remove any dirty outer layer of leaves so you have clean sprouts and then slice them in half, through the root. I prefer to fry in a cast iron skillet but any steel pot will do. You want have about 3/4 inch of oil – this is a SHALLOW fry, as opposed to a DEEP fry. Get your oil smoking hot (or around 375 degrees if you are fancy and use a thermometer) and drop about 1 1/2 cups of sprouts at a time into your hot oil! It should take about 10-12 minutes for your Brussels to fry. I like to do it in batches, as you know, since over-crowding your pan is never a great idea. While your sprouts pop and sizzle away, set up a drying station (aka a rack over a sheet pan. Give them a quick toss about 6/7 minutes so all the sides can brown evenly. When your sprouts looked fried and crispy all over, remove them using a slotted spoon onto the drying rack and give them an IMMEDIATE sprinkle of salt.

Once your Brussels are cooled and salted, lay them on your serving dish and finish with a generous drizzle of Sir Kensington’s Chile Lime Crema, fresh lime zest and the juice of half a lime. Listen – I could easily give you the recipe to make your own crema, and then give you instructions to buy a squirt bottle (which is actually quite handy in the kitchen, anyways) so that you can properly drizzle your crema, but Sir Kesington’s not only made the exact product you want for this dish, but it comes in the perfect drizzly squirt bottle and everything DOESN’T have to be homemade to be homemade. Chew on that!

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Blackberry Salad

True story. I have never used blackberries in a salad before. I love a Strawberry Salad (well, the Prince loves a Strawberry Salad so we make it often) but this Blackberry Salad was special. She was beautiful and luscious and an ideal, bountiful accompaniment for my favorite Foolproof Ribs. Also, salads like this are BEYOND easy to throw together. The hardest part is mixing up the homemade Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette which isn’t actually hard at all and you could totally just ignore me and use any store-bought dressing of your choice and call it a day.

SHOPPING LIST: 2 box arugula, 1 1/2 cups blackberries, feta cheese, macadamia nuts, balsamic vinegar (preferably aged), stone ground mustard, honey, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, salt, black pepper

Most times I toss a salad in the bowl before serving, but for this particular salad, I chose to serve it on FLAT, LONG serving dish so that entirety of the arugula base was covered in all the goodies and then I made sure to go heavy on the dressing. (ALSO – serving extra dressing on the side is always a good idea).

So, using a FLAT, LONG serving dish, create a thin bed of your arugula. Obviously, wash and dry your blackberries and then scatter them around the dish. Continue this same method with your macadamia nuts (WHAT AN UNDERUTILIZED NUT!!!!!!!) and your crumbled feta. I have to admit here – I actually used a Black Pepper Crumbled Feta that I found at Whole Foods, which, for a pepper enthusiast like myself, was an awesome win! OR, if you can find a creamy Bulgarian Sheep’s Feta that you crumble yourself that’s always an awesome choice as well.

For the dressing, mix together 2 heaping tB. stone ground mustard, 1 tB. balsamic vinegar, 2 tB. apple cider vinegar, 1 tB. honey, 1 tB. olive oil, a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper. You are going to mix your dressing together and drizzle it all over your salad. I used the entirety of the dressing on my salad so if you want to follow my tip to serve extra dressing on the side than just double the recipe! Last note – since we aren’t tossing the greens in the dressing, I like to finish a salad like this with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Yes, the dressing is seasoned, but this little extra splash of flavor will ensure that each bite is dressed and delicious.

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Aunt Joan’s Crab Dip

My great Aunt Joan lives in Bethany Beach, Delaware – which, if you are unaware, is crab country! We would visit Aunt Joan every August when our entire family would head to Sea Colony (a magical place where we drank Mike’s Hard Lemonade at wild beach bonfires at 13, whoops!), and she would always have her famous crab dip waiting for us. I’ve worked hard to reverse engineer this dip based on my fondest memories, and I’m so excited to share this recipe with you all.

SHOPPING LIST: 1 lb. lump crab, whipped cream cheese, shredded cheddar, mayonnaise, chopped garlic, Worcestershire sauce, 1 egg, mustard, old bay, Tabasco, lemon, dried parsley, olive oil

The best thing about this dip is EVERYONE loves it (unless they are allergic to shellfish or KOSHER ha!), and it’s relatively easy to whip up and it’s perfect for entertaining. AS ALWAYS, grease your baking dish with olive and oil and pre-heat your dish in a 400 degree oven while you’re mixing up the dip so you can ensure extra crispy edges!!!

In a large bowl, crack and whisk one egg. Add 1 lb. of lump crab meat (or jumbo lump if you’re really fancy!), 12 oz. whipped cream cheese, 1 cup of mayonnaise, 1 cup of shredded cheddar, 1 tB. of mustard, 1 tB. Worcestershire sauce, 2 tB. Old Bay, 1 tB. chopped garlic, the juice of one lemon and 5 dashes of tabasco. Mix well, remove your hot baking dish from the oven, and fill the hot baking dish with your dip. Top with another cup of shredded cheddar and finish with a sprinkle of Old Bay seasoning and dried parsley flakes.

Bake your dip in a 400 degree oven for 30 minutes or until your dip is perfectly browned on top. Cover immediately with tin foil and allow to cool for 5-10 minutes so that you don’t permanently burn the roofs of your guests’ mouths.

This is seriously one of the BEST. DIPS. EVER. Serve it with a mix of crackers and crudite. Also — use this exact same mixture as a stuffing for baby portobellos! Bake them 15 minutes with the same shredded cheddar and dried parsley topping. Nothing like a good old 2-for-1 special!!

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Blue Cheese + Balsamic Portobellos

Grilling portobellos is a wonderful idea, except when it isn’t. You know sometimes these giant mushroom caps just end up flavorless and soggy. Except of course, for my Portobello Pizzas which are obviously excellent – and now you have this new, super easy recipe, which, for a simple mushroom side dish is totally DECADENT and satisfying.

SHOPPING LIST: 4 portobellos, crumbled blue cheese, balsamic glaze, olive oil, truffle oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder

The first key to a nicely grilled portobello is making sure it’s properly oiled before grilling. I mentioned above that they can become soggy (and that’s because mushrooms naturally omit a bunch of water when cooked) but conversely, if they aren’t properly oiled they can become DRY, equally not cool. I like to mix 1 tB. of truffle oil with 1/2 cup of olive oil to use for these mushrooms. Truffle oil isn’t typically used for cooking, but mixing it with the olive oil will infuse your portobellos with a mild truffle essence. Remove the stems from your portobellos and then make sure your mushrooms are evenly coated with the blended oil on BOTH sides – and then generously season each side with salt, pepper and garlic powder.

Make sure your grill is SMOKING hot and start grilling your mushrooms STEM(less) side down. Grill your mushrooms about 8 minutes, letting all of the liquid drip into your BBQ so you won’t have soggy shrooms. Flip your portobellos and top each with a HANDFUL of blue cheese crumbles. DON’T be stingy. The use of blue cheese is really ideal here because the flavorful, blistered cheese really becomes the star of the show. Shut your BBQ and cook for another 8 minutes. You will see the edges of your mushrooms become almost CRISPY – this is what you’re looking for!!!!!

Remove the grilled portobellos and drizzle with your favorite balsamic glaze. REGULAR balsamic vinegar will NOT do the trick here. You need the sweeter glaze to balance the stinky cheese. Also, thick store-bought balsamic glaze drizzles beautifully and who doesn’t love a beautiful drizzle?

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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, mine has always been Rao’s Arrabiata (sometimes I like to use a few tB. of pesto sauce instead of/ or in addition to the red sauce) 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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Vietnamese Lemongrass Chicken

I had the ABSOLUTE pleasure of traveling to Vietnam with my husband when the world was normal and traveling was a thing and there are a FEW dishes that stick out in my mind – one in particular was the lemongrass chicken at Cuc Gach Quan. It’s just one of those restaurants where you feel like someone’s grandmother is in the kitchen, and you’re eating in their living room, and each dish is more incredible than the next. Needless to say, I’ve never had Lemongrass Chicken like theirs, so the next best option was to do it myself!

SHOPPING LIST: 3 chicken breasts, jalapeño, scallions, chopped garlic, dried lemongrass, grapeseed oil, fish sauce, soy sauce, salt, pepper

I’m going to link here to a similar version of the lemongrass I used because you want to make sure you are using a FINELY cut product like THIS. Lemongrass isn’t always the easiest thing to find fresh so using a dry product allows us to get the same result with an ingredient that is accessible to most everyone.

Chop your entire bunch of scallions and thinly slice your jalapeno. In a saucepan, add 1/4 cup of grapeseed oil over medium heat. Add your scallions, sliced jalapeños, 2 heaping tB. of chopped garlic and 1/4 cup of your dried lemongrass. You want to really fry your spices for 5-10 minutes. In the meantime, chop your chicken into cubes. (As a very good Indian friend taught me, DO NOT season your chicken yet because it will omit too much water – WAIT until your chicken is nice and browned).

When you spices are browned and fried, add your chicken, increase to high heat and DO NOT TOUCH YOUR PAN. Let it really get a nice brown on one side. After 5 minutes, give it a quick toss and 2 tB. of fish sauce and 2 tB of soy sauce. Use a wooden to spoon to remove all of the browned bits from the bottom of your pan and season with salt and pepper. Allow to cook another 7-10 minutes or until your chicken is fully cooked through.

I didn’t put any garniture because I really wanted you to see the bits of fried garlic, jalapeño and lemongrass on the chicken but if you have leftover scallions or fresh Thai basil a little bit of fresh herbs would be a lovely finishing touch.

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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.