My Dad is the best. Over the holidays, I decided that my Dad needed to do some culinary exploring. And I knew that he would be more than happy to do some cooking with me.
Growing up I always remember my Dad for making those big delicious meals. On a Sunday I’d get up to see that he’d already gone to the store and picked up a turkey, or a flank steak (my personal favorite, right Dad?), or the makings for a delicious summer barbeque. You know, the kinds of meals that you could just eat and eat and eat. Until you felt ready to explode. Then you’d have some more. Oh, and he makes the BEST scrambled eggs with corned beef hash. No joke.
So for Christmas, Dad got some gourmet gifts from O & Co. on Newbury Street. The ingredients for a great dinner: chili infused olive oil, basil pesto, olives, and pici pasta. He was a happy camper, and even happier when I told him this meant he had to make dinner with me, and that steamed clams would be involved.
To find clams, we ended up at about 5 different stores. We obviously decided to do this the same day the blizzard hit NY, but we were persistent, and we finally found Cherry Stone clams to use. In a blizzard. Some things in life are important.
Pasta and Clam Sauce with Steamed Clams
Ingredients for the Pasta and Clam Sauce:
- 1 pound of pasta (recommended: fettuccine, linguine, or spaghetti – we used the pici pasta, but that’s not so easy to find)
- Olive oil
- Chili infused olive oil (optional)
- 1/2 a medium onion, finely chopped
- 4 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1/3 cup kalamata olives, pitted and chopped
- 1 cup grape tomatoes, sliced in half
- 2 small cans (6.5 oz each) Snow’s Bumblebee chopped clams
- 1/4 cup of the liquid from the steamed clams
Ingredients for the Steamed Clams:
- Fresh Littleneck or Cherry Stone clams (we used 36 Cherry Stone clams, but use as many as you want)
- Olive oil
- Chile infused olive oil
- 1/2 medium onion, diced finely
- 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 1 cup of a white wine (pick one you like)
To prepare the clams, submerge them in a large bowl with cold water. This will help any dirt come out of the clams before cooking. I let them sit for about an hour before I started cooking. Also, put on the water for the pasta to come to a boil.
In a large pot, add both olive oils for the steamed clams over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and let them cook until they turn translucent.
Drain the clams well, then transfer them to the pot. Add the white wine and cover. Let the clams steam over medium heat. Once they open fully, they will be ready to eat. This took about 25 minutes.
While the clams are steaming, add both olive oils for the sauce to a large pan over medium heat. Add onion and garlic, and cook about 5 minutes. Add the olives and tomatoes, and reduce heat to medium-low. Let cook while you wait for the pasta water to boil, stirring occasionally.
Once water is boiled, add pasta and cook according to directions.The pici pasta took at least 20 minutes to cook. It is a much thicker pasta, which needed more time than the usual fettuccine or linguine.
With about 4 minutes left on the pasta, add the chopped clams and liquid from the steamed clams to the sauce. Stir and let simmer for about another 5-10 minutes before serving.
At this point, your clams should be ready and open. Discard any that did not open.
Serve the sauce over the pasta, with the steamed clams on the side to enjoy together.
Everything was so good. The chili infused olive oil gave it just a slight kick in the back of your throat, very slight but a great flavor.
Thanks for cooking with me Daddy! He asked if we cold make it again for breakfast the next morning, so I think it’s safe to assume he liked it. I already have our next meal together planned out.
We also made some toasted bread by cutting up Italian bread, brushing both sides with olive oil, then toasting it under the broiler of the oven for about 2 minutes per side. We used the basil pesto as a spread and it was awesome.
And the best part about cooking? The unspoken rule is that if you cook, everyone else cleans. Thanks to our clean-up crew: my sister Melissa, her boyfriend George, and my little munchkin Abby, who just loves to help.
Ready for our next meal Dad?
You may remember my sudden love of Stuffed Bell Peppers after I had one at Bottega di Capri a few weeks ago. I found myself really wanting on for dinner one night, and figured I had enough sense to figure out how to make them myself at home. After playing around with my recipe, I created this one which was delicious (in my humble opinion).
Stuffed Bell Peppers
- 2 large green bell peppers
- 2-3 sausage links (depending on how much you want)
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 3 cloves of garlic
- 1/2 of a small onion, diced
- 2 cups of cooked rice (I used Minute Rice to make my life easier)
- 1 large can of crushed tomatoes
- 1 small can of diced tomatoes
- Grated Pecorino Romano cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste
Start out by making a sauce that you’ll use for the filling and for cooking the bell peppers. Heat the olive oil over medium low heat. Add the garlic and diced onion and cook until it starts to become translucent. Add the diced tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, and salt and pepper to your liking. Let simmer while you’re prepping for the filling.
Moving on to the filling now, starting with the sausage. Remove the casing from the sausage links, and break it up. I usually just use a knife to cut it up a bit. Add about a tablespoon of olive oil to a frying pan and over medium heat. Add the sausage and let it cook. Be sure to keep an eye on it, and break it up into small pieces using a spatula while it’s cooking.
Cook the Minute Rice according to the instructions on the box to make about 2 cups of cooked rice. Set aside for now.
Once the sausage is cooked, add it to the sauce and stir well. Take about a cup and a half of the sauce and add it to the rice. Add in the grated cheese and stir it all up!
I couldn’t help myself at this point, I had to try some. I could have stopped right here and just eaten this the way it is. But I pressed on.
Cut the top off of two bell peppers and clean out the seeds. Fill both peppers with the rice filling (you may have extra filling depending on how large your peppers are – you might even be able to squeeze a third pepper from it). Add the peppers, standing up, back to the pot of sauce to simmer covered for about 30 minutes. This will cook the peppers through to make them soft.
Serve the peppers with a little more sauce on top and enjoy! I was so happy with this meal and had it for dinner and then lunch again the next day. So good!
Last week my wonderful friend Sam came to visit for some quality time together (and to see me model in a fashion show, who says 5’2 girls who loves food can’t be a model?). It was a beautiful weekend in Boston, with temperatures in the high 70s and low 80s which totally put us in the mood for some great summer food.
While shopping Sam mentioned having once had a salad with strawberries in it that a friend made. I had my own salad with strawberries already in mind, and was so glad she had suggested it. We picked up what we needed for a delicious salad, and also got everything we’d need to make our own burgers and some corn on the cob. Perfect makings of a summery meal.
Something to note, when strawberries and corn are in season, they can be so cheap. I know I paid $4-$5 for a container of strawberries in the grocery store over the winter. Now they are about $1.50. Plus they are so yummy because they’re fresh and in season! Just another reason to buy fresh and local.
And we obviously stopped and got Sam Summer on the way home from the store. No summer grilling could be complete without it. There is nothing better than a Sam Summer on a hot day when it finally comes back out for the season.
So here’s two recipes for you. One for burgers and one for that Summery Strawberry Salad.
Burgers (makes four 1/4 lb patties)
- 1 lb of ground beef (I used 93/7, which is leaner)
- 2 tbsp minced onion (I used the dry kind, but you can actually chop up fresh onion)
- Salt and pepper
This is super easy, you just can’t be afraid to get your hands a little dirty (and when I say dirty, I mean covered in raw beef). Put all the ingredients in a bowl and mix using your hands (or a utensil if you are completely anti putting your hands in the meat). Don’t overmix everything, it will make the meat tough, just until the onion, pepper and salt are distributed evenly.
Now roll the meat into 4 balls. I just measured using the size of my palm. Each ball should be about 1/4 of a pound if you have a pound of meat (if you are doing more, you can actually weigh the meat or just eyeball it to make sure each patty will be about the same size). Then press each ball to flatten it into about 1/2 inch thickness (or however thick you’d like your burger).
Once they are patties, they are ready to grill! Cook them up the way you like and enjoy.
Summery Strawberry Salad
- 1 bag of spinach
- 1 container of strawberries
- Crumbled goat cheese
- Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing
While your burgers are cooking you can whip up this salad. Wash and dry the spinach (I use a salad spinner which I LOVE) and add to a large bowl. Cut up 7-10 strawberries into quarters. Add the strawberries and crumbled goat cheese (as much as you’d like) to the spinach. Toss with Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing. Another optional thing to add would be some candied nuts, or just nuts in general. I’ve had this salad with almonds before and it’s very good, I just forgot to buy them at the store.
Now grab your burger (which we finished with cheddar cheese), your salad, and some corn on the cob (which I cooked by just boiling it for about 10 minutes). Cheers to a delicious and fresh summer meal!
This is something my (former) roommate inspired me to do. She used to do something similar, and I just changed it up to meet both Dane and my tastes. Wraps are perfect for a quick dinner after a long day, and if you have leftover veggies, you can use it to top a salad for lunch the next day.
I’m also a pretty renowned wrap roller, so included you can find my tutorial on how to do it so that you don’t lose any of the delicious filling.
Chicken Wraps with Veggie Salad
- Wheat Tortillas (or whatever kind you prefer)
- 1-2 chicken breasts for grilling (this just depends on how it’s cut, if they are huge pieces you might only need one)
- 3 Plum tomatoes
- 1 Cucumber
- 1 can of Garbanzo beans
- 2 cloves of garlic minced in small pieces
- Balsamic Vinaigrette dressing (I used Newman’s Own, but you can really use any kind of dressing you want, or none at all)
Start with the chicken. Season one side of the chicken pieces with salt and pepper (I used chicken breast cut into thin chicken tender pieces) and put them on a grill pan or in a frying pan with a little bit of olive oil, making sure the side that has been seasoned is down. Season the other side. Cook time will depend on how thick your pieces of chicken are. These were not too large, so they only took a few minutes per side to be cooked through.
Let the chicken cool and get started on the salad. Dice the cucumbers and tomatoes into small pieces that are bite size. Add to a bowl. Rinse the Garbanzo beans thoroughly and add to the bowl. Add the minced garlic and mix it all up. You can do this before hand to let the garlic flavor seep in, if you want. Add some balsamic vinaigrette dressing and toss together.
Cut up the chicken into small, thin strips for your wraps. Now you are ready to roll your wrap!
Wrap Rolling Tutorial:
This is the integral piece of a great wrap experience. I absolutely hate it when all the topping falls out of your wrap and makes a huge mess. Not saying that won’t happen at all, but this method will definitely help keep your yummy filling where it’s supposed to be: in your wrap, then in your tummy.
Add your filling to the center of the tortilla. Fold up one side to make a little “pocket” that will hold everything in. (Optional: Fold opposite sides to make two “pockets”.)
Fold over one side, tucking under as you go to keep everything in the wrap.
Now roll the wrap up tightly and enjoy!
The next day I used the little bit of veggie salad and chicken we had left over on top of some romaine lettuce to make a salad for lunch. It was a perfect little meal for work. Try it tonight!
I’m an Italian girl. Well, Italian, Irish, and Polish, but that’s besides the point. The point is that I love pasta and meatballs. LOVE. These are always delicious and a perfect meal.
A few months ago when I was visiting home, my mom made a turkey meatloaf. I had never had meatloaf that wasn’t beef, but it was good and I felt slightly more healthy since it was turkey. I decided to try this with meatballs too. I improvised a bit, and the meatballs ended up being super yummy.
- 1 lb. ground turkey
- 1/2 a medium onion finely chopped
- 3/4 cup of bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
- 3 tablespoons of ketchup
- 1 egg
- Salt and pepper
Add the onion (make sure it’s finely chopped, you don’t want to bite into bit pieces of onion!), bread crumbs, and cheese to a large mixing bowl. Mix it together well. Add the ketchup and egg, and mix it up so that it’s well combined.
Now add the ground turkey and mix it all up! I usually get in there with my hands at this point, it’s just easier to make sure everything is combined. Don’t overmix it or the meatballs will get tough.
Begin heating a skillet a little bit of olive oil over medium heat. Now form little balls with the meat (resist the urge for a TWSS joke) and fry the meat so that the meatballs cook most of the way through.
Once the meatballs are mostly cooked, add them to a pot of sauce. If you need a recipe for tomato sauce, you can find mine in the Recipes tab at the top of the page under Entrees. Let the meatballs simmer in the sauce for at least 20 minutes. This will help flavor the sauce and finish cooking the meatballs through. When you’re all done, serve the meatballs and sauce over your favorite pasta! Enjoy!
I know, I know. You’re sick of hearing about my obsession with macaroni and cheese. But I can’t help it! Who can resist a pasta smothered in an amazing creamy cheese sauce?
I’ve tried some great recipes, each better than the next for mac and cheese. The way I make it now is a mix of a few, and it is YUMMY!
Baked Mac and Cheese with Sweet Peas
- 1 lb. cavatappi pasta (you can really use whatever kind you want. if you’d prefer, elbows always work well)
- 4 cups of milk
- 4-5 cloves of garlic
- 5 cups of shredded cheese (I used 4 different kinds and mixed it up)
- 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoons of flour
- 1 cup of frozen peas
- Salt and pepper to season
- Italian breadcrumbs (about 3/4 cup)
Start by cooking your pasta. Put the water on in a large pot to boil. Get started on the cheese sauce while you’re waiting for the water to boil.
Use a medium-large saucepan and add the 4 cups of milk. Heat over medium heat. Smash the garlic cloves and cut them in half, then add to the milk. Whisk the milk frequently to ensure it’s not scalding on the bottom, and cook over low-medium heat for 15-20 minutes. This will infuse the milk with an amazing garlic flavor, which I LOVE in mac and cheese. If you aren’t big into garlic, you can leave this part out.
In a large saucepan (you’re going to add the 4 cups of milk to this, so make sure it’s big enough!), melt the butter. Add the flour and whisk together. Make sure you get any lumps out. This will help thicken the cheese sauce later.
Strain the garlic cloves from the milk and discard them. Add the four cups of milk to the saucepan with the butter/flour mixture and whisk well to combine.
It’s probably time to put your pasta in to boil now, so check on that! Cook the pasta 2-3 minutes less than it says on the box. The pasta will continue to cook in the oven, so you don’t want it to get too mushy.
Back to the cheese sauce. Heat the milk mixture over low-medium heat and begin adding the cheese. I used a mixture of cheeses including sharp cheddar (bought in a block and I cut it up into small cubes), a bag of shredded cheese (approximately 2 cups) which was a mixture of cheddar and Monterey Jack, and about one cup of shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese. The cheeses are all about your preferences. I like a much sharper flavor, so I went with sharper cheddars. All together I had about 5 cups of cheese.
Add the cheese about one cup at a time and whisk well. For me, it took awhile for the cheddar pieces to melt in, but the shredded cheese melted much faster. The sauce will begin to thicken. Make sure the cheese totally melts! This might take some patience and extra whisking, but you can do it. Take a quick taste too, just to see if it needs a little salt or pepper.
Your pasta should be cooked and slightly under done by the time your cheese mixture is ready. Add the pasta to your cheese mixture and stir it together. Then add the frozen peas and make sure they are mixed together and evenly distributed. The peas can be added straight from the freezer, no need to thaw them.
Now add this to a large casserole dish that has been greased with butter lightly (so it doesn’t stick!). I had a little bit more pasta than there was room in the casserole dish, so I made two mini mac and cheese dishes that could be individual portions.
Now sprinkle the bread crumbs on top. I used about 3/4 of a cup, but use less or more depending on what you like. Once it’s ready, put in the oven on 375 degrees for about 45 minutes. The breadcrumbs should get slightly browned on top and the sauce will be bubbly and amazing. It will be hard, but let it cool for 10-15 minutes before you dig in. It will be super hot!
Now grab some friends (or don’t, you could just eat it yourself) and dig in! We had two friends staying with us when I made this and it was a huge hit. Baked mac and cheese is always a crowd pleaser!
This is one of the most delicious meals I’ve ever had. Dane had ordered Ropa Vieja at a Cuban restaurant we frequent in Jamaica Plain. After taking my friend Heather to the restaurant, she told us her dad makes amazing Ropa Vieja, and graciously volunteered to get us the recipe. All I can say is THANK YOU HEATHER!
Dane tends to be the one who does slow cooker/meat based meals for us. Maybe it’s a man thing, but I’m definitely ok with letting him cook while I relax and do things like write blog posts about him cooking.
Ropa Vieja (which, not to be gross, literally translated means “old clothes”)
- 1 1/2 pounds flank steak (You can also use skirt steak or brisket. We actually couldn’t find any of those things, so we used top sirloin.)
- 3 quarts plus 1/4 cup water
- 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 4 teaspoons bouillon granules
- 1 tablespoon parsley flakes
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 2 medium onions, sliced thin
- 1 red pepper and 1 green pepper, seeded and sliced thin
- 6-8 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
- 1 1/2 cups tomato sauce
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 1/2 teaspoon vinegar
- Bay leaves
- Seasoning: salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder
Add the meat, water, and some salt and pepper to a large pot. Bring to a boil. Foam will form on the surface, make sure you skim that off and get rid of it. After 5 minutes or so, add the garlic powder, bouillon, and parsley flakes, and onion powder and reduce the heat. Cover the pot partially and let the meat cook over medium-low heat for 2 1/2 to 3 hours. You want to be able to easily shred the meat once it’s done. Dane cooked ours for about 2 hours and 45 minutes. Your kitchen will smell AMAZING, but try and restrain yourself from eating it just yet. It gets better.
Remove your meat from the pot and shred with a fork. I had a little too much fun with it and decided to just use my hands to separate it. Put the meat together, cover and set aside for the moment.
In a big skillet, heat the olive oil and saute the onions until they start to become translucent. Add the peppers and garlic and continue cooking for a few more minutes. Now add the tomato sauce, stir it all together, and let it begin to bubble. Add the wine, vinegar, some salt and pepper, the garlic and onion powder, and bay leaves. Stir together and add 1/4 cup water. Let it come to a boil, the lower the heat and let is simmer for 5-10 minutes.
At this point I started making some yellow rice and beans to go with the main dish. This was the only part of the meal I was allowed to help with (which was fine with me). All I did was boil some water, add the rice and seasoning (that was all from the same bag) and follow the directions. Then I drained and rinsed some red beans, and added them to the rice when there was bout 5 minutes left for it to cook, just so the beans would be heated.
Back to Dane’s part. Add the meat to the pan with your veggies and stir together. Simmer this delicious mix for about 30 minutes, covered.
After a half hour, you’re all done! Time to eat! Serve with or over the yellow rice and beans. And make room, because you’ll probably want more.
One of our go-to meals is always pasta and sauce. It’s quick, easy, and always delicious. Most people have their favorite jarred sauce, but for me that isn’t an option. Both being from Italian families, we much prefer to make our own sauce. Yes, you could just heat up some sauce that’s already made, but it really doesn’t take long to make your own scrumptious sauce!
Tomato Sauce with Sausage
- 1/2 a medium onion
- 4-5 cloves of garlic
- Olive oil
- 1 small can of petite diced tomatoes
- 1 large can of crushed tomatoes
- 2 links of sausage
- Salt and pepper
- Italian seasoning (or whatever seasoning you prefer)
First begin heating a few tablespoons of olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cut up about 1/2 an onion into a small dice (you don’t want to bite into huge chunks of onion in your sauce, or maybe you do, that’s up to you). Add to the saucepan to start caramelizing. Mince up the garlic as the onion begins cooking, and add to the saucepan as well. Let the onion and garlic cook for about 5-10 minutes, or until the onion is soft and translucent.
Add the small can of diced tomatoes. I used petite diced for the smaller pieces. Let this simmer for about 20 minutes. I usually add my seasoning at this point too. Some salt and pepper, and whatever your choice of flavors might be. We usually go with some Italian Seasoning, which is a mix of several different herbs.
While the tomatoes, onions, and garlic are simmering, start cooking the sausage. We used two sausage links, removed the outer casing, and cooked it in some olive oil in a small frying pan over medium heat. While it’s cooking, use a wooden spoon or spatula to break up the sausage into small pieces that will be added to the sauce.
When the sausage is mostly cooked (it will cook the rest of the way through in the sauce) add it to the tomatoes, onion, and garlic. Then add the large can of crushed tomatoes. Stir together, and let simmer for at least 30 minutes. The longer you let it simmer, the more the flavors come together, so if you have some extra time, leave it on the stove for a while. Taste the sauce and season it again as needed.
Cook your choice of pasta according to the directions. When the sauce is done, pour some over your pasta and enjoy!
This is one of my favorite quick meals. I’m not sure when I actually learned this, but I’m been making it for a while and have it down to a science. Since Dane doesn’t love cauliflower, I get to make this all for myself. This recipe is all about the garlic flavor, so embrace it!
Fettuccine with Garlic and Cauliflower
- About 3 tablespoons olive oil
- About 3 cloves of garlic
- Frozen cauliflower (or use fresh if you prefer)
- About 3 tablespoons of water
- Pecorino Romano cheese for sprinkling on top
Start with the garlic. Add the olive oil to a medium saucepan and heat over low heat. Mince the three cloves of garlic (I used my Garlic Zoom) and add it to the saucepan to begin flavoring the olive oil and to start to brown. You do not want the garlic to burn, so be careful about the heat. Once it starts browning, it can quickly burn, so try to keep this over low and medium heat.
Let the garlic cook for a few minutes, then add the frozen cauliflower (or again, fresh if you want, it just won’t take quite as long). Add the water to help steam the cauliflower and cover. You want the cauliflower to cook through and to slightly brown. Every few minutes check the cauliflower and garlic and flip the pieces as needed.
Start the water to boil and cook the pasta until it’s slightly under done. Drain it and reserve about 1/3 cup of the pasta water. Once the cauliflower is just slightly browned, add the pasta to the cauliflower, garlic, and olive oil and toss in the saucepan. Add the pasta water and toss together. The pasta will finish cooking and the starch in the pasta water will help the flavors come together on the pasta.
Once the water has cooked away, serve the pasta with Pecorino Romano cheese grated over the top. Yum!
This is one of my favorite pasta dishes, but also one of those that you probably shouldn’t eat all the time. The more times I’ve made fettuccine alfredo, the quicker I’ve been able to prepare it. Of course, this is awesome for me, when I have limited time but really have a craving for it.
The other night I was able to make this whole meal in about 25 minutes (take that Rachel Ray and your 30 minute meals). We had a meeting to get to after work, so I had to make dinner quickly.
Here’s what I did for 2 servings.
Fettuccine Alfredo with Broccoli
- 1/2 box of pasta (you can really use whatever you want, I happen to love fettuccine)
- 1 cup of light cream
- 1/2 stick of unsalted butter
- About 2-3 cloves of garlic
- 3/4 cup of grated Pecorino Romano cheese
- 1 bunch of broccoli
Start by filling up a pot with water for the pasta and putting it over high heat to boil. My stove takes a long time to do this, so I knew I had at least 20ish minutes between waiting for the water to boil and waiting for the pasta to cook that I could use to make the alfredo sauce.
While the water is heating, steam the broccoli. Cut the broccoli up into small pieces so that you can mix it into the pasta easily. I steam my veggies using a pot of boiling water and a veggie steamer. It took about 12 minutes for my broccoli to be done. You can put the broccoli aside until you’re ready to mix it in.
When the water boils put the pasta in and cook according to the directions. The fettuccine took about 13 minutes to cook to al dente. While the pasta was cooking, add the 1/2 stick of butter to a small saucepan and melt over medium heat. Once the butter is melted add the light cream and whisk together with the butter. Season it to your taste with some salt and pepper. Smash the garlic cloves (I used three because I LOVE garlic, but use what you’d like) and add to the mixture. This is just for flavor, so you don’t need to chop the garlic. Make sure you are frequently whisking the mixture.
Once the butter and cream are heated through, add the Pecorino Romano cheese and whisk in. This will thicken the sauce. I used about 3/4 of a cup of cheese, but again, add what you like to thicken and flavor the sauce.
When the pasta is done, drain it, then add it back to the pot. Remove the garlic cloves from the alfredo sauce. Pour the alfredo sauce over the pasta and add the broccoli. Toss it together and it’s ready to eat. If you feel like the sauce needs to be thicker you can add some more cheese.
I love my carbs. This was so yummy and a great quick dinner. Give it a try!