Thursday, May 31, 2012

Caprese Pasta with Spicy Italian Sausage

3-4 servings
½ lb dried Rigatoni pasta
3 links of hot Italian sausage (turkey or pork)
Handful of baby heirloom tomatoes, halved
4 oz fresh mozzarella cheese pearls, halved
Jarred sundried tomato pesto
3-4 large basil leaves, sliced
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)

In a large pot of boiling water, cook pasta for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a frying pan over medium heat, cook sausages, turning occasionally until they are browned and cooked through. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest.
Add a drizzle of EVOO to frying pan and lightly sauté tomatoes. Meanwhile, slice sausages.

Drain pasta, return to pot, stir in pesto and coat pasta. Stir in sausage, tomatoes and mozzarella. Serve in a shallow dish and sprinkle with fresh basil.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Three-Cheese Summer Vegetable Gratian

A tasty side dish using summer veggies. I can't wait to make this again. And don't skip the goat cheese, it adds amazing flavor!

4 Servings

2 large yellow squash, sliced lengthwise
1 large tomato, sliced
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
¾ cup milk
1 Tbsp corn starch
2 eggs
2 ears corn, grilled and corn cut from cob
4 oz crumbed goat cheese
½ cup Panko breadcrumbs
½ cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
2-3 large basil leaves, sliced
About 6 cherry tomatoes, halved
1-2 tsp butter, cut into little pieces

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Overlap squash and tomato in a casserole dish, sprinkle with half of basil, drizzle with EVOO, sprinkle with salt and pepper; roast for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine milk corn starch and eggs. Whisk until smooth. Set aside. In another small bowl, combine breadcrumbs, Cheddar & Parmesan cheese and remaining basil; combine and set aside.

Remove roasted veggies from oven, cover with corn and goat cheese. Pour over milk mixture. Arrange halved cherry tomatoes around the edges. Top with breadcrumb mixture. Dot with butter. Bake for an additional 20 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Mahi-Mahi Skewers with Artichoke Vinaigrette Dressing

An elegant summer meal.

Inspired by a recipe found on

1 lb Mahi-Mahi, cut into 1” pieces
1 small yellow bell pepper, cut into 1” pieces
1 small red bell pepper, cut into 1” pieces
1 small red onion, cut into 1” pieces
Salt & Pepper

Preheat grill to medium high. Make skewers, alternating fish, peppers and onion. Brush with dressing and season with salt and pepper. Grill skewers and grill for 3-5 minutes, turning once.

To serve, drizzle dressing over Mahi-Mahi skewers. I also grilled asparagus and used this as a dipping sauce for that along with a sliced baguette.
The next day, I used the left over dressing for a bean and vegetable salad…yum!

4 Tbsp EVOO
½ tsp white vinegar
2 Tbsp minced cilantro
Juice from one lemon
6 oz jarred, quartered artichoke hearts, drained
½ Tbsp capers, drained
Salt & Pepper

In a blender, add ingredients above and blend until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Lemon Lavender Cookies

Make store bought cookies fancy using the flowers and lemons from your own backyard!

1 package of sugar cookies (should make 3 dozen cookies)
[Additional ingredients called for by cookie packaging, such as egg or butter]
2 tsp of fresh English lavender, minced (best to use it right after it blooms)
Zest from one lemon
1 tsp vanilla
In a large mixing bowl or your KitchenAid, combine package of cookies with other necessary ingredients call for by packaging, lavender, lemon zest and vanilla. Split dough into two balls and refrigerate for about 20 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

On a floured surface, roll out dough to about ¼” thick. Using a cookie cutter, cut out cookies and place on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake cookies for 5-7 minutes, until edges turn golden brown.

Let cookies cool for one minute before transferring to a wire rack to let cool completely.

Note: It worked best to work with the dough in two batches, otherwise it gets too soft and sticky, making it difficult to handle and roll out.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Summer Vegetable Couscous Salad

I love using this pasta for BBQs or potlucks. Most people don’t know what it is and once they try it, they love it! It’s as easy as cooking any other pasta and adds an interesting twist.

¾ cup dried Israeli couscous 
1 ear of corn
1 large bell pepper, diced (I used red and yellow to add color)
2 green onion sprigs, diced
Crumbled feta cheese
Juice from one lemon
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
Sea salt
Freshly cracked black pepper

Cook couscous following directions on packaging. Remove from heat and let cool; set aside.

Roast corn with husk on over medium heat on the grill. Cook until husk is charred, turning occasionally. When the corn is done, let cool before removing husk and cutting corn off the cob.

In a large bowl, add cooled couscous, corn, peppers, green onion, cheese, lemon juice, a few drizzles of EVOO and salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with grilled fish or chicken.
Note: If you add the EVOO to the pasta while it’s still warm, the pasta will absorb the oil making it dry. Adding the EVOO to cooled pasta allows it to act as a dressing.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Vegetable Bacon Sauté

Question: How do you get your husband to eat Brussels sprouts?
Answer: Add bacon!

2 medium red skinned potatoes, cubed
1 corn on the cob
2 thick slices of bacon, diced
4 Brussels sprouts, halved
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 Tbsp Tuscan Style Basil Herb dressing (Safeway Select)
Salt and pepper

Cook potatoes in a steamer until almost tender, about 13 minutes. In a separate pot, cook corn in bowling water for about 5 minutes.

In the meanwhile, cook diced bacon over medium heat until crispy. Using a slotted spoon, remove bacon to a paper towel lined plate. Return pan to stovetop and turn heat to high. Add potatoes and Brussels sprouts. Cook in bacon grease until browned and crispy.

Cut corn off the cob and add to sauté pan. Add garlic and dressing; stir together. Turn heat to low, cover and cook until Brussels sprouts are tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serve with grilled salmon or chicken.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Crock Pot Hungarian-Style Goulash

Serves: 4 

1 lb beef chuck roast, cubed
1 lb kielbasa sausage, sliced
1 large onion, diced
1/2 cup ketchup
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbsp brown sugar
2 tsp salt
2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 1/4 cups water, divided
1/4 cup flour
Egg noodles

Place beef and sausage in crock pot, and cover with onion. In a medium bowl, stir combine ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar, salt, paprika, mustard, and 1 cup water. Pour mixture over beef, sausage and onions.

Cover, and cook on Low for 8 hours, or until meat is tender.

Mix 1/4 cup water with flour to form a paste, and stir into goulash. Cook on high for 15 minutes, until sauce thickens.

Cook egg noodles according to directions on packaging.

Serve goulash over noodles.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Alfredo Queso

I was rushing through the grocery store to find something quick to make for dinner. I picked up some premade Alfredo Basil sauce and pico de gallo, mixed it together and used it as a pasta sauce. Since I didn’t take a photo of it for the blog, I didn’t post it. Though the next day, I had some of this sauce left over and turned it into a quick queso. I would recommend trying both recipes!

5 oz premade Alfredo sauce
½ cup pico de gallo
¼ cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
¼ cup shredded Monterey cheese

In a sauce pan, combine all ingredients over medium heat. Stir until combine. Serve with tortilla chips.

Note: To made pasta sauce, omit extra cheese from queso recipe above and just heat and combine 10 oz Alfredo sauce and 1/2 cup of pico de gallo, then toss with your favorite pasta. Top with chicken or shrimp.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Grilled Chicken Quesadilla

3-4 chicken tenders (or a 1-2 chicken breasts)
½ packet of taco seasoning
Juice from one lime
1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
½ red bell pepper, sliced
½ green bell pepper, sliced
½ yellow bell pepper, sliced
Shredded sharp Cheddar cheese
Shredded Monterey cheese
6 large flour tortillas
Margarine or butter
Sliced avocado

In a small bowl, combine taco seasoning, lime juice and EVOO. In a zip lock bag, add chicken, coat with taco seasoning mixture and marinate for 30+ minutes.

On a grill over medium high heat, grill chicken for about 3 minutes per side, or until cooked all the way through. Remove from heat, set aside and let rest for a few minutes before slicing.

In a medium skillet over med-high heat, drizzle EVOO and sauté peppers until tender. Transfer to a bowl; set aside.

Butter one side of each tortilla. In a large skillet over medium heat, place one tortilla butter side down. Add Cheddar cheese, peppers, sliced chicken, Monterey cheese and then top with second tortilla, butter side up. Once cheese is melted and tortilla is crispy and golden, flip quesadilla. Cook for 2-3 minutes more and transfer to a cutting board. Let quesadilla rest for a few minutes before cutting into wedges. Repeat for additional quesadillas.

Serve with sliced avocado, salsa and/or sour cream.

(P.S. My hubby thinks it's funny that he's shinning his shoes on the same counter where I'm making dinner, but it's not. It's gross.)

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Sautéed Swai with Spinach Mushroom Rice

Swai is a farmed river fish from Asia, which is light and flaky, similar to catfish.

2 Swai fillets
2 Tbsp parmesan cheese
½ tsp minced parsley
Lemon pepper seasoning
SaltExtra Virgin
Olive Oil (EVOO)

½ cup white long grained Basmati rice
2 Tbsp dried mushrooms
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup chopped fresh baby spinach
2 green onion sprigs, sliced
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)

In a rice cooker, add rice, mushrooms, chicken broth and 1 tsp EVOO; cook until tender. In a small sauce pan over medium heat, drizzle EVOO and cook spinach until wilted. Add cooked rice to pan, add green onions and mix together; set aside.

(Note: if you don’t have dried mushrooms, sauté fresh mushrooms with spinach.)

In a large frying pan over high heat, drizzle EVOO and heat until oil starts to ripple. Season both sides of fish fillets with cheese, parsley, lemon pepper and salt. Fry first side for 2 minutes, flip fillets, turn heat to medium and cook for 3 minutes, until crispy and flakes easily with a fork.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Sourdough Breakfast Sandwich

What a delicious Saturday morning!

Servings: 2

6 slices of bacon
4 eggs
Butter or Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)
Salt & Pepper
4 slices of hearty sourdough bread
Extra sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
½ avocado, sliced

In a frying pan, cook bacon over medium heat until crispy. Remove bacon from pan and set on a paper towel lined plate; set aside. Wipe grease out of pan.

Add a little butter or EVOO to the pan. Crack the eggs into the pan (try to keep the two sets of eggs together). Once the whites are set and the outer edges are just starting to curl up, flip. Season with salt and pepper. Depending on how soft you like the yolks, remove pan from heat when it’s ready.

In a toaster oven, toast bread. On one side of bread, cover with Cheddar cheese and melt.

To assemble sandwich, stack bacon and eggs on slice of toast with cheese. Add sliced avocado and top with second piece of toast. Cut in half and enjoy with some fresh fruit.