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photoThis is one of my favorites, yummy and satisfying. Enjoy it! And yes, you didn’t read the ingredients wrong…I make my own sauce…from scratch…every time! No jarred sauce in my house. After you make it once, you will be hooked, it’s super easy and delicious. In the time it takes for the sauce to cook, you can be doing the rest of the prep. Some of my sauces take longer, but this simple tomato basil sauce with a touch of cream, is done in a snap!

Ingredients

Serves 2

2 large shallots sliced

1 35 oz can of whole tomatoes (preferably San Marzano)

splash of white wine

2 tbsp tomato paste

dried oregano

handful of fresh basil

3 sweet Italian sausage links removed from casing

1 large jarred roasted pepper

1/2 bunch of broccoli rabe chopped

1 small jar / can of artichoke hearts (packed in water)

1/2 lb of bowtie pasta

splash of cream

olive oil, salt and pepper

Directions

For the sauce: In a medium pot heat a few tablespoons of olive oil on medium heat. Add in shallots and saute until tender but not brown. Add in the tomato paste, oregano, salt and pepper cook for a minute. Add in white wine, cook for 3 more minutes. Add in can of tomatos, more salt and pepper. Cover and let boil. Scrape the bottom of the pot every once in a while to prevent burning. Tomatos should break up on their own, if they don’t, squish them with a wooden spoon.

While the sauce is cooking…Bring a large pot of water to a boil to cook the pasta. In a small skillet add a little bit of olive oil and heat on medium high. Remove the sausage from the casing. Place in hot pan and break up meat until little chunks with a wooden spoon. Cook until browned and no longer pink on the inside. Move to a paper towel to drain. Slice roasted peppers and artichoke hearts into bite size pieces. Wash and dry broccoli rabe, and chop into bite size pieces.

After the sauce has cooked for about 20 minutes, cook the pasta in salted boiling water until it is al dente. Stir in about 1/4 cup of cream into the sauce, or until it reaches a pink color. About 2 – 3 minutes before the pasta is done, stir in the broccoli rabe (this is the quickest way to cook it). Drain the pasta and broccoli rabe and add it back to pot on low heat. Ladle in sauce and mix in sausage, roasted peppers, artichoke hearts and more fresh basil. Serve with grated romano cheese.

YUMMY!

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592963_kitchen_toolsSo I thought I would make this blog a little more interactive! So each week I will post a survey so you can let me know what you would like me to cook! The following week I will post the recipe with the most responses. Thanks to everyone who is following my blog.

Take the survey here…

GingerTonight I made some killer pork egg rolls and chicken / veggie stir fry with sticky rice and it reminded me of this great trick I wanted to share. I love the flavor fresh ginger adds to asian food, but I never use the whole root…and hate to waste it. Here’s a great way to store ginger for months.

Peel the ginger and cut into 1 inch chunks. Put in a ziplock baggie and freeze. When you want to add some ginger to any dish, pull a chunk out the freezer and with a hand grater, grate the ginger right into the food while it’s cooking. Yummy!

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These Fish Tacos have become one of our favorite dinners. It’s inspired by yummy fish tacos we had in Kauai. Every time I make them it reminds me of our trip there. (Can’t wait to go back!) The recipe looks intimidating, but I promise it’s not. It’s so delicious you will want to make it every night!

Ingredients (for 2 people)

2 tilapia filets

1 avocado

cilantro

sour cream

1/2 package of shredded coleslaw mix

1/2 cucumber

flour

salt

cumin

lime

olive oil and vegetable oil

Cholula chipotle hot sauce

a beer (like Corona or Land Shark)

fajita size flour tortillas

For the Slaw:

Squeeze one large lime into a mixing bowl. Add 3 teaspoons of olive oil, salt / pepper, and 1 teaspoon of cumin. Mix with whisk. Add a drizzle of honey and mix until combined. Mix in the cabbage mix, 1/2 of a cucumber peeled and diced, 1 large handful of cilantro. Mix together until all of the ingredients are coated in the dressing. Refrigerate for at least 10 minutes to let the cabbage soak up the dressing.

For the Tilapia:

Batter: Put 4 Tablespoons of flour in a large mixing bowl. Add 1/2 of a beer like Corona or Land Shark. Mix flour and beer to pancake batter consistency. Add more beer or flour, if needed. Mix in about 10 dashes of Cholula Chipotle Hot Sauce and salt.

Cut fish into rectangular chunks. Coat fish lightly in flour, then dip the fish in the batter. This process will help the batter stick to the fish when cooking.

While preparing the fish, heat about a quarter inch of vegetable oil in a deep skillet on medium heat. To ensure that the oil is at the desired temperature, drop in a small amount of batter. Bubbles should form around the batter immediately. If the batter turns brown in 2 minutes without burning, the oil is at the right temperature. Once at the right temperature, place the fish in the hot oil.

Cook fish for about 4 minutes on each side. After 8 minutes, batter should be golden brown and fish should be opaque. Do not crowd the fish too close together in the skillet. You will most likely have to cook the fish in 2 batches. When your remove the fish from the oil, be sure to place fish on a plate lined with a paper towel to drain off the excess oil.

Add a gourmet touch: Make your own Chipotle Sauce-mix 2 heaping tablespoons of sour cream with about 10 dashes of the same Chipotle sauce that you used in your batter.

Serve in a warmed tortilla with sliced avocado, Chipotle Sauce, lime wedges, fresh cilantro. It’s Just Delicious. Enjoy!

lens2011252_1245045248Fresh_herbs_in_straw_basket_2You will notice I use a lot of fresh herbs in my recipes. I think it adds a great freshness and flavor that dried herbs can’t replicate. Thanks to a tip I learned from Rachael Ray, you can keep herbs fresh all week long!

When you bring your herbs home from the store, wash and dry them very well. Wrap the bunch in a dry paper towel and store in a ziplock baggie. Label the outside so you can easily locate it in the fridge.

You will be amazed how long herbs stay fresh and green this way!

Here are some great ways to use fresh herbs:

  • Add chopped basil and flat leaf parsley to a green salad for added flavor
  • Mix cilantro into chili or Mexican dishes for freshness
  • In a mini chopper mix tomatoes, onion, jalapeno, lime, salt and cilantro for a quick, healthy and delicious salsa
  • Mix fresh tarragon with shrimp salad (chopped shrimp, celery, mayo, salt and pepper)…yummm!
  • Fresh thyme tastes great with chicken
  • Rosemary works great with red meat
  • Make a quick side dish of sliced tomato, cucumber, red onion, red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt / pepper and cilantro…bright and light!

On a super hot day, the last thing I want to do is have the oven on and multiple burners going. Ick! Here are some simple sandwich combos I love for dinner. And if none of my ideas sound delicious to you…visit Grey Dog Cafe’s website. They are located in NYC and have sandwiches to die for! I love it there…I actually went there yesterday! If you happen to be in the area stop in for a beer, sandwich and an oatmeal raisin cookie! Yumm!

If you have a panini press like this one from Cuisinart it’s a great tool to create a great pressed sandwich. If not, you can always have a cold sandwich or warm it in a pan or toaster oven. Oh and don’t forget, great bread can turn an average sandwich into a DELICIOUS sandwich!

Tasty Combos

  • Turkey, brie, sliced pear and honey mustard on multigrain bread
  • Grilled chicken on Ciabatta with melted mozzarella, roasted peppers, arugula, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt / pepper
  • Black Forest ham, melted Gruyere, sliced apple, spicy mustard on Pumpernickel
  • Turkey, sliced avocado, sliced tomato and chipolte mayo (blend chipolte in adobo with some mayo – spicy and yummy) in a wrap or on a crusty roll
  • Cheddar, swiss, watercress, applewood smoked bacon and sliced tomato on hearty wheat bread – Best grilled cheese!

After walking around the city all day I wanted to make something easy with what I had in my fridge aka no grocery store stop. I remembered I had leftover veggies from the pizza I made the other day. Here’s a super easy…clean out the fridge meal.

Preheat oven to 400. Cube up any veggies you have on hand. I used red onion, zucchini, eggplant, yellow squash and cherry tomatoes (keep those whole) and toss with olive oil, salt, pepper and herbs de provence (see picture below). Roast until tender, about 15 minutes.

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Cook up some whole wheat pasta, I used rotini…to al dente of course. Before draining off the pasta, save about 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid. Drain the pasta and put back in the hot pot on medium-low heat. Mix the roasted veggies with the pasta, reserved water, a handful of fresh basil, a few ounces of goat cheese, 1/2 cup of ricotta and a generous amount of freshly grated pecorino cheese. Heat until cheese melts and a sauce is formed (about 5 minutes). Finish with a drizzle of olive oil. Enjoy!

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Going to a BBQ this weekend and need a super easy appetizer? Here are two that I love!

Apple and Manchego

2 Fuji apples

hunk of manchego cheese

good honey

toothpics

Slice the apple. Shave Manchego cheese with a vegetable peeler or cheese slicer. Place shaved cheese on top of apple wedge and drizzle with honey. Secure each nibble with a toothpick.

Bruschetta

4 vine ripe tomatoes

1 ball of fresh mozzarella

handful of fresh basil

1/4 of a red onion finely chopped (I use my Cuisinart mini-chopper)

1 loaf of good bread (like a baguette from Balthazar)

Olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 425. In the mean time, dice tomatoes and mozzarella to about the same size (I make little cubes). Toss with finely chopped onion, torn basil, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper. The mixture should not be soupy. The vinegar and oil are just to coat the ingredients. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Slice the bread into 1/4 inch slices. Drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper. Toast bread until golden brown. Serve along side bruschetta. Guests can spoon the mixture on top of bread slices and enjoy!

Don’t forget about my roasted red pepper dip…this is great for a BBQ too!

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I made homemade pizza tonight (which by the way was just delicious) for less money then it would cost to order in a pie and tip the delivery guy. I had a few things already in the fridge / pantry, but bought the majority of the ingredients. Making a whole pie chock full of yummy healthy toppings only cost $11! By making it at home I saved about $8 and I bet a lot of calories too! Here’s how to do it…

 

 

 

 

Ingredients:

Store bought pizza dough purchased from your favorite pizza shop or Italian market (I buy mine from Corrados) – this time I used whole wheat

2 vine ripe tomatoes sliced thin

1/2 zucchini, 1/2 yellow squash, 1/2 eggplant (sliced a quarter inch thick)

1 jarred roasted red pepper (sliced into thin strips)

1/2 red onion (sliced)

1 ball fresh mozzarella (patted dry and sliced thin)

1 handful fresh basil

olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper

 

Preheat the oven to 450. Stretch out the dough until it forms a circle (depending on the consistency of the dough you may need to use a little flour). Brush with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake until the crust starts to get crispy. If any bubbles start to form prick them with a fork.

In the mean time, drizzle a little olive oil in a saute pan over medium high heat. Saute the sliced onions until they are caramelized (about 10 minutes).

Toss the sliced zucchini, squash and eggplant with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Grill in a grill pan until the are almost cooked through.

After the dough starts to brown (about 10 minutes) pull out of the oven and add sliced tomatoes on top. Cook for a few more minutes until the tomatoes start to “melt”. Take out of the oven and put all of the veggies on top (zucchini, squash, eggplant, roasted peppers, onion) then sprinkle with the thinly sliced fresh mozzarella. Bake for a few more minutes until the cheese melts.

Remove from oven and top with fresh basil and a drizzle of olive oil…just like the do in Italy! I topped mine with a little grated pecorino romano cheese and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. Healthy…delicious…inexpensive! ENJOY!

Here are my top 15 must haves in your pantry or refridge. With these on hand, it’s easy to pull together a quick meal every night. You would only need to purchase minimal ingredients from the grocery store like fish, chicken, fresh produce etc. I always have these items on hand.

1. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

2. Salt and Pepper

3. Pasta

4. Canned Tomatoes (preferably whole San Marzano)

5. Fresh Herbs (like basil, cilantro or parsley)

6. Chicken Stock

7. Canned beans

8. Panko breadcrumbs

9, Potatoes

10. Vinegar (balsamic or red wine)

11. Shallots (or red / white onion)

12. Alcohol (beer or wine)

13. Dijon Mustard

14. Honey

15. Cheese (feta, fresh mozzarella, pecorino romano etc)

About Me

My name is Ashley and I'm a self taught cook. Getting home from work, popping open a bottle of wine and cooking up dinner with my boyfriend is my favorite part of the day. I want to show you that making dinner can be fun and easy. I have some great tricks for the young professional...like me, that I know you will love! Follow me and I'll make you the talk of all of your friends! You won't believe the things you can whip up in the kitchen that are...Just Delicious!

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