Here’s my 2nd recipe that has 5 ingredients or less. It’s an arugula salad with fresh oranges and sliced fennel. I served this salad for my hubby’s birthday along with Fileno al Mirtillo and gnocchi with white wine sauce. I love arugula — I love the peppery flavor, I love how it looks, I love everything about it (sorry, I’m obsessed). Can you tell it’s my favorite type of salad green? Because of its strong flavor, you don’t need to add a lot of accompaniments to it. I like to add orange slices and fennel especially because I love the anise flavor that the fennel adds and the citrus freshness that the oranges add. For the dressing, I keep it simple and use a very good extra virgin olive oil with some fresh lemon juice. Add a touch of sea salt and some fresh cracked pepper and this salad is perfection. It’s simple and yes, only has 5 ingredients, so enjoy!
- 4 cups arugula
- 1 navel orange, peeled and slices halved
- 1/2 bulb fennel, sliced thinly
- 2-3 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to season
- Mix arugula, oranges, and fennel in a bowl.
- Drizzle olive oil and lemon juice over salad and mix thoroughly.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste.
There has been a lot of sickness going around lately, and I, of course, was no exception to this. This past week, I got a very bad cold and actually had to stay home from work one day. I was not feeling well all week – very tired, lethargic, and weak. I decided to start doing a little research on vitamins. I take a women’s multivitamin, but I’ve heard that those vitamins don’t have enough vitamin B which is key to energy production among other things.
There are 8 essential B vitamins (i.e. B-1, B-2, B-6, B-12, Folic Acid, etc.), so I decided to purchase a Vitamin B-Complex that has a little bit of all of them. I just started taking them, but I’m very curious to see within the next several days whether I feel better and more energized. I will definitely keep you posted!
This past weekend I finally started to feel better only to have my hubby start feeling sick. He started feeling sick Friday night and by Sunday morning, he spent the better part of his day off in bed. Since he was not very hungry and didn’t want to eat anything too complex, I decided to make him some homemade tomato soup (no I did not slip any vitamin B into his soup although it did cross my mind!). I adapted this soup from a Food Network recipe I found several weeks ago and have been wanting to try. I de-frosted some of my Ciabatta bread to dip in the soup. My husband enjoyed the soup and bread (even if he couldn’t smell either). He is still on cold medicines and will hopefully feel better soon since his birthday is tomorrow, and I have a wonderful dinner planned for him (shhhh).
Do you take any vitamins or multivitamins to stay healthy? If so, what works for you?
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, peeled and roughly chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 15-ounce can Cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 4 cups crushed tomatoes
- 2 1/2 cups chicken broth
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme
- 2 tbsp lemon zest
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- sea salt and ground pepper to season
- In a large stock pot, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrots, and garlic and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 4 minutes.
- Add the beans, tomatoes, broth, bay leaf, thyme, lemon zest, and red pepper flakes. Bring the soup to a boil over high heat, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes, covered.
- Remove the bay leaf and puree the soup with a hand blender.
- Season with salt and pepper.
I love to make homemade soup especially when it’s cold and dreary outside. This pasta e fagioli literally means “pasta and beans” in Italian and is the perfect balanced soup to make because it has vegetables proteins, and healthy carbohydrates. This recipe is adapted from Giada De Laurentis, and I love it because it’s both hearty and satisfying. Serve it with some warm crusty bread and you have the perfect weeknight meal!
I don’t know if I told you, but one of the gifts that my husband gave me for Christmas to go along with my new camera is this mini tripod. It’s awesome! My camera screws down on top of the tripod and allows me to tilt my camera any way I want. The legs of the tripod are also pliable, so I can bend them in any direction. I used this for the first time last night, and it was definitely much easier than what I’d been doing before! The next thing I have to work on is my backdrop. I have two pieces of white cardboard that I place on my table and behind my table, so I have a completely white backdrop. My aunt was telling me about this really cool box that pops up and is all white, so you can place whatever you want to photograph inside it. I’ve been trying to find this photograph box, but am not having any luck.
Photography is something I’m fairly new at and don’t know much about. I’m also really regretting passing up photography class in high school for band (I played the flute and piccolo — don’t laugh!).
Do you have any food photography tips that you’d like to share? Do you use a tripod? What do you use for your backdrop?
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme
- 1 tbsp fresh rosemary
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 4 slabs of bacon, chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 5 3/4 cups chicken broth
- 2 (14.5 ounce) cans red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 cup whole wheat elbow macaroni
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Pinch red pepper flakes
- Parmesan cheese for sprinkling
- Heat olive oil in a heavy large saucepan over medium heat and add the onion, bacon, and garlic and saute until the onion is tender, about 3 minutes.
- Add the broth, beans, and herbs. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat, then decrease the heat to medium and simmer until the vegetables are very tender, about 10 minutes.
- Puree 1 cup of the bean mixture in a blender until smooth.
- Before putting the puree back into the soup, add the macaroni and boil with the lid on until it is tender but still firm to the bite, about 8 minutes.
- Return the puree to the remaining soup and stir well.
- Season the soup with ground black pepper and red pepper flakes.
- Ladle the soup into bowls and sprinkle with some Parmesan.
You’re not imagining things; all my blog posts have recently been pumpkin/squash-based recipes. I can’t help it! It’s October and perfect squash/pumpkin weather. There’s also a few more logical reasons why I’ve been cooking with so much pumpkin and squash recently. First, my mom’s friend cans her own pumpkin, and she gave me 2 quarts of it. The day after Halloween she buys leftover pumpkins that no one wants and then cleans them and cans them, so obviously I was going to take advantage of this fresh, canned pumpkin. Second, my mom told me about the possibility of a canned pumpkin shortage this season; I ran out and bought a huge 32 oz can of Libby pumpkin. Third, I went to the Syracuse farmer’s market while visiting my parents and bought a 5lb spaghetti squash for $2 and a 2lb butternut squash for $1. That is a great deal and definitely not one I’m going to pass up.
Since I can’t let this pumpkin go to waste, even though it is canned and can easily sit in my cool cupboard for another year, I made some pumpkin soup. I decided I wanted to make my pumpkin soup a little thicker, more like a bisque, so I used less chicken stock and water than what the recipe called for. After tasting it, I had to go back and add more salt and pepper. But after seasoning it liberally, it tasted creamy and smooth. I dipped some fresh Ciabatta bread in it. Yum!
Here’s a list of what I’ve made this month with my pumpkin and squash:
Here’s a list of what I’m going to make with my pumpkin:
What is your favorite pumpkin or squash recipe? Is there something pumpkin/squash related that you’d like me to blog about? Share your ideas with me… I always love to hear them!
- 3 tbsp butter
- 1 white onion, diced
- 2 carrots, diced
- 1 tart apple, peeled and diced (Granny Smith)
- 2 cups pumpkin
- 1/3 cup dry white wine
- 1 tbsp dry sage
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 1/2 cup chicken stock
- salt & pepper to season
- Melt butter in saute pan over medium heat. Add onion, carrots, and apple and cook 10 minutes.
- Stir in pumpkin, wine, sage, bay leaf, stock, salt and pepper and bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to low and simmer partially covered for 20 minutes.
- Remove bay leaf and using an electric beater, puree soup until smooth.
My grandmother always used to make greens and beans when I was growing up; it was definitely one of my favorite comfort foods that kept me warm during those snowy Syracuse winters. I am happy to say that while the DC Metro-Area has not received snow yet, yesterday was rainy and cool for most of the late afternoon/evening. I decided to make beans and greens for dinner. I added some Acini di Pepe pasta, but any small, soup pasta would work well (Ditalini or Pastina). This soup is simple and delicious; it’s definitely not as good as my grandmother’s was, but it was warm and perfect on a dreary day.
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 8 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1 medium head escarole, roughly chopped
- 1 medium head savoy cabbage, roughly chopped
- 5 1/2 cups stock (chicken or vegetable)
- 2 14 oz. cans Cannellini beans, washed and drained
- salt & pepper to taste
- 2 Bay leafs
- Acini di Pepe or other small pasta soup (Ditalini, Pastina, etc.)
- Parmesan cheese to sprinkle
- In a medium saute pan over medium heat, saute olive oil. Add garlic and red pepper flakes when oil is hot and saute for 2-3 minutes or until garlic begins to brown.
- Add escarole and cabbage to garlic mix and saute for 5 minutes until greens have wilted down a bit.
- Pour greens mix into a slow cooker and add chicken stock, Cannellini beans, salt, pepper, and bay leafs. Cook on high for 2-3 hours (If you don’t have a slow cooker, you can cook in a large stock pot over medium heat for 1 hour).
- Boil water and prepare Acini di Pepe according to directions.
- Remove bay leafs from soup and season with salt and fresh ground pepper.
- Scoop pasta into the bottom of a soup bowl and ladle greens on top.
- Season with Parmesan cheese.
Note: Do not add pasta to the soup while it’s cooking; it will become too soggy. Prepare separately. If there are leftovers, keep both in separate containers. The pasta will stick together in the refrigerator, but once you re-heat the soup and add the pasta, the heat will separate the pasta.
(Sorry this picture is blurry… it was taken with my iphone.)
I just got back from a work conference in Columbus, OH. It was my company’s conference, so I was working the entire time. It was a crazy 4 days, but now I’m back home and back to the grind. Before I left for the conference, I decided to make a hearty, Italian stew called Ciambotta (chom-bow-tah). Ciambotta is the name of an Italian stew that is made up of a medley of vegetables and/or meat or seafood. When I was growing up, my mom used to make this dish all the time. Sometimes she would make little meatballs and add those to the ciambotta instead of the sausages. Italian Americans like to use the term to refer to anything that is a mish-mash or jumbled together. This recipe is easy to make and gives you the freedom to add whatever vegetables and/or protein you desire. This dish is also great because it makes enough leftovers for lunch!
- 4 Italian sausage links (mild or hot)
- 2 large carrots, peeled and diced
- 1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1/2 lb green beans, cleaned and halved
- 1 can diced tomatoes (14 oz.)
- 1 can cannellini beans (14 oz.)
- 1 cup dried lentils
- 1 cup chicken stock (or water)
- 2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tbsp dried thyme
- salt & pepper to season
- In a saute pan over medium heat, cook sausages until browned in middle and set aside to cool.
- Meanwhile, in a large stock pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat and add the onions, carrots, and sweet potato. Cook until soft, about 8 minutes.
- Add the string beans, diced tomatoes, cannellini beans,*cooked lentils, chicken stock, garlic, bay leaf, thyme, salt, and pepper and simmer on low until the liquid has been absorbed, about 10 minutes.
- Cut the sausages into small bites and add to the stew. Simmer on low for another 5 minutes.
- Serve stew warm with fresh bread.
* Lentil Directions:
- Soak dried lentils according to package directions.
- Drain lentils, place in a sauce pan, and cover with water.
- Bring water to a boil for 2 minutes.
- Lower heat and simmer until lentils are tender.
(I realize this photo stinks b/c you can’t see any corn, but I swear it’s in there somewhere!)
As the weather gets cooler, I naturally begin to crave soups and stews. At my husband’s urging, I decided to make some corn chowder. It came out tasting delicious with a hint of heat due to leaving the seeds in the jalapenos. This chowder had a bit more liquid than I would’ve liked — I was really looking forward to a thick, chunky chowder. While the taste was spot on, the next time I make this, I’ll use less chicken stock (at least 1 cup less). This is such an easy recipe to make because you can add whatever vegetables you like and tweak the liquid based on the consistency you want. We ate this chowder with fresh olive bread that soaked up the broth nicely. Also, I used frozen corn since fresh corn is at the end of its peak. If you don’t use fresh corn, be sure to use frozen rather than canned. Canned vegetables and fruits should be your last option after fresh and frozen (respectively). They have less nutrients and more added preservatives and sodium. Feel free to make this chowder in your slow cooker as well, just be sure to sauté your vegetables beforehand so they soften up a bit. Enjoy!
- 3-4 tbsp olive oil
- 2 cups diced onions
- 2 large carrots, diced
- 2 jalapenos, diced (seed removed for less heat)
- 1 lb small potatoes, peeled and diced
- 5 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth (3 1/2 – 4 cups for thicker chowder)
- 2 fresh thyme sprigs
- 3 cups corn (fresh or frozen)
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- Heat olive oil in a heavy stock pot and add onion, carrots, and jalapenos and cook for about 8 minutes.
- Add potatoes, broth, and thyme and simmer, covered, until potatoes are just tender, about 15 minutes.
- Add corn and cream and simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes.
- Add sea salt and pepper.
- Serve with a thick, crusty bread.
I’ve adapted Warm Arugula Salad from Jamie Oliver’s Happy Days with the Naked Chef. This is the perfect recipe to make right now because arugula is all over the farmer’s market. It’s quick and simple and because arugula has a spicy, peppery flavor already, you don’t need to add that many additional ingredients to make this salad a huge success. I made this salad for 2 people, so feel free to adapt the recipe if you’re making it for a larger crowd. Also, be sure to eat the salad immediately after it’s prepared. I love salads, or I should say, I love eating all the goodies in a salad minus the actual salad. However, I found myself eating every last arugula leaf on the plate. Arugula just has that beautiful, peppery flavor that no other lettuce can compare to.
“Warm salads can be blooming amazing or complete disasters. First, you have to get your hungry guests around the table before you plate up, so as soon as their bums are on the chairs, you are tossing the warm ingredients in with the arugula leaves. Boom, boom, boom on a plate and it’s in front of them.“ ~Jamie Oliver
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 4 slices bacon or pancetta
- 2 TBSP olive oil
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1/4 c nuts chopped
- 1 TBSP fresh lemon zest
- 4 c arugula
- salt and pepper to season
- Balsamic vinegar to taste
- Parmesan cheese
- Heat a skillet over medium heat and fry the pancetta or bacon until crisp. Transfer to a plate.
- Add 2 TBSP of olive oil to drippings in the skillet. Add the thyme leaves, onions, and nuts along with a pinch of salt and toss around gently. Cook about 5 minutes, until the onions are caramelized.
- Return the pancetta or bacon to the skillet along with the lemon zest and toss to coat.
- Throw everything into a salad bowl on top of the arugula.
- Drizzle generously with balsamic vinegar and top with Parmesan cheese.
My husband and I recently decided that we eat too much meat. Beef, chicken, pork, seafood – - you name it, we eat it. So here’s the plan, we’re going to try to eat meat 3-4 times a week. The other 3-4 times a week we’ll be eating vegetarian dishes. Pasta is a great option on a night when you don’t feel like cooking. It’s quick and easy. Not one for canned sauces, I usually saute garlic, onions, and red pepper in olive oil, pour over the pasta and top with parmigiano cheese when I want a quick meal. However, you can only eat so much pasta before you get sick of it. Thus, I’ve been using my slow-cooker.
It’s easy to use and wonderful to come home from work to have your dinner ready and waiting for you. I made a basic lentil soup that came out hearty and flavorful. As soon as I opened our front door I could instantly smell the sweet aromas of onions, garlic, and bay leaves. Served with some crusty bread, it was a quick and easy meal that left us satisfied and content. This is the perfect meal on a night during the middle of your crazy week when you don’t have a lot of time or energy to cook!
- 1 c lentils
- 1/2 head of cabbage roughly chopped
- 1 carrot diced
- 1 small onion diced
- 1 celery stalk diced
- 2 gloves of minced garlic
- 4 c chicken broth
- 4 c water
- 2 bay leaves
- salt & pepper to season
- Add all the ingredients to slow cooker and cook on low 6-8 hours
- Remove bay leaves
- Season with salt and pepper
- Serve warm with crusty bread
This is a wonderful recipe I found from Bon Appetit that is perfect on a cold, dreary night. This hearty soup goes well with a nice crusty bread and a sprinkle of parmigiano cheese. I’ve changed a few things from the old recipe just based on my personal preferences. First, I used dried spices instead of fresh ones in order to keep the soup more rustic. Second, I used Italian pork sausages instead of chicken sausages, but you could use whichever type of sausage you prefer. Next, I sprinkled my soup with parmigiano cheese in order to give the soup an extra Italian kick. The soup was delicious and satisfying. Let me know what you think!
4 Italian sausages
About 1/2 head of green cabbage thinly sliced
3 leeks cleaned and thinly sliced
2 cups of carrots diced
2 Tablespoons of tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
8 Cups of chicken broth
1 15-ounce can of cannellini beans (rinsed and drained)
Salt & Pepper
Heat the olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Brown the sausages on all sides for about 5 mins. After they’ve browned, cut up the sausages into smaller pieces and set aside. In another large stock pot over medium heat, heat the olive oil and saute the cabbage about 2 mins. Add the leeks and carrots to the cabbage and saute until soft, about 5 mins. Add the tomato paste, parsley, and rosemary, and stir for 1 minute. Add the chicken broth, the sausages, the cabbage, and the beans to the mix. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 40 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with parmigiano cheese and accompany with a hearty bread.