Tag Archives: tomatoes

Mushroom Parmesan

18 Jan

I came across this recipe by Giada De Laurentiis a couple years ago. My beau is a “meat and potatoes guy” if you will. Don’t get me wrong, he loves his veggies but a meatless meal i will certainly raise an eyebrow here. I am so glad I finally decided to make this and so was he. He praised me about the fact that it was vegetarian yet so satisfying, yay! As it says in the ingredients section, you can use store bought or homemade marinara. I highly suggest homemade. Please see my recipe. I think this would also make a great appetizer with baby Bellas and can’t wait to wow our friends and families with it! Please excuse the photo, its an old one taken with a cell phone.

Time: 15 min prep, 25 min cook              Serves: 4-6


  • 4-6 portobello caps (large)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper, fresh ground if possible
  • 2 cups marinara sauce (store bought or homemade, my recipe marinara sauce)
  • 1 tbsp butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan

How to make it

  • Preheat oven to 400F.
  • Allow your grill to heat and brush it with olive oil.
  • Place mushroom caps on a large plate and drizzle both sides with olive. Season liberally with salt and pepper.
  • Grill mushrooms for about 5 minutes on each side.
  • Meanwhile, add about a cup of marinara sauce to the bottom of a baking dish (9×13).
  • Remove mushrooms from grill and place atop the marinara in the casserole dish, bottoms facing up. Top each mushroom with about a quarter cup of remaining marinara sauce. Top with mozzarella, then Parmesan, and finally butter.
  • Place casserole dish in oven and bake for about 15 minutes, until the cheese melts.
  • Then turn oven to broil and leave in for about 2 minutes. Check on it after one minute because you just want the top to brown and not burn.
  • Allow to cool for a moment and serve.

Baked Pasta with Meat Sauce

11 Jan


This name sounds very ordinary but this dish is extraordinary! I’m open to suggestions on how to spruce of the name. This is a great make ahead dish to keep in the freezer for an effortless homemade meal. The slow-cooked sauce develops such great flavors as it sits, so make it a day or two before you plan to make the baked pasta.

Time: 45 minutes hands-on               Serves: 12


  • Meat Sauce

  • 1/2 pound lean ground beef
  • 1/2 pound mild/sweet Italian sausage, removed from casing
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced small
  • 3 celery stalks, diced small
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed & roughly chopped
  • 3 tbsp dried parsley
  • 2 tbsp dried basil
  • 2 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp Lawry’s seasoning salt
  • 6 dry bay leaves
  • 28 oz. can diced tomatoes with liquid
  • 28 oz. can tomato sauce
  • 16 oz. can tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • Béchamel Sauce

  • 6 tbsp butter
  • 16 oz. mushrooms, sliced or diced
  • 1/4 cup flour (I used a Gluten Free baking mix to keep it wheat free)
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1/8 tsp grated nutmeg
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan Gouda blend cheese
  • The Rest

  • 16 oz. short cut pasta, cooked al dente (I used quinoa and corn elbows, again to keep the dish wheat free)
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan Gouda blend cheese

How to make it

  • Meat Sauce

  • Pour 1/4 cup water in bottom of a large medium stock pot, you’ll want about 1/4 inch. Heat over medium. Add ground beef and Italian sausage. Cook for a few minutes.
  • Next, add onions, carrots, celery, and garlic. Add parsley, basil and oregano and cook, stirring, until beef is browned all over and vegetables are tender, about 7-10 minutes.
  • Add Lawry’s and stir. Then, add bay leaves and remaining ingredients. Bring to a gentle boil, then turn to simmer and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally for at least 2 hours. Tastes best after sitting, so allow to cool, and refrigerate overnight.
  • Béchamel Sauce

  • Heat 3 tbsp butter over medium heat in a large skillet or medium saucepan. Add mushrooms and saute for about 7-9 minutes, stirring occasionally. Season with salt & pepper.
  • Add flour and cook, stirring, for about 3 minutes until lightly browned. Slowly whisk in milk. Add nutmeg. Cook for about 3 minutes until thickened. Add cheese and stir. Season with salt & pepper to taste.
  • The Rest

  • Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare a 13×9 baking dish with cooking spray.
  • In a very large mixing bowl or stock pot, combine meat sauce and cooked pasta. Toss well.
  • Pour mixture into baking dish. Pour béchamel sauce over top evenly. Top with grated cheese. Cover and bake in middle rack of oven for 40 minutes.
  • Switch oven to broil at 425F. Uncover and place on top rack under broiler. Broil for about 4 minutes, until top is golden brown and lightly crisp. Check every minute or two to see that it does not burn. Remove from oven and let set for 10 minutes before serving.


Over The Top Shrimp Scampi

5 Jan

A decadent spin on a familiar favorite.

Time: 45 minutes            Serves: 2


  • ½ lb shrimp, cleaned, deveined, & butterflied
  • ½ lb angel hair pasta
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 4-6 garlic cloves, whole or halved
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • ½ pint heavy cream (half & half also works)
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 1 tbsp+ olive oil
  • 6-8 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 3 tbsp parmesan cheese, grated finely
  • milk
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • fresh Italian flat-leaf parsley for garnish

How to make it

  • Heat olive oil in large saucepan. Be sure there is enough to cover the bottom of the pan, add more if needed.
  • Soak the shrimp in milk.
  • Combine flour, 1 tbsp cheese, salt, pepper, and cayenne in a bowl. Mix well.
  • Coat shrimp in mixture and fry in oil for about 2 minutes on each side, until golden brown. When cooked, transfer to paper towel lined plate. Tent tin foil around plate and pierce vents with fork. Keep plate on range top.
  • Add garlic to oil. Stir for a few minutes, scraping up the flour mixture left in pan. Turn heat to medium low.
  • Add wine SLOWLY (as it might spray out if pan is still very hot). Bring to a boil, and then turn heat to medium low. Cover and let reduce for about 10-15 minutes.
  • Cook pasta according to instructions.
  • Add cream to wine reduction and turn temperature back to medium high until it comes to a boil. Then, turn heat to low and simmer for about 10 minutes. Add tomato, shallots, basil, and remaining cheese. Mix well. Add shrimp to sauce and remove pan from heat. If sauce is not thick enough (for your liking), let cool for a few moments and it will thicken.
  • Serve shrimp & sauce over pasta. Garnish with parsley. Enjoy with the rest of the bottle of wine 🙂

Yemenite Chicken Soup

12 Nov

My dad and I were talking a few months back and he got to reminiscing about the experience he had at friends’ grandfather’s funeral in Israel. They are Sefardic Jews, mostly of Yemenite descent and their traditions, rituals, and foods are unique. My father told me about a delicious chicken soup they served that was different from any he’d ever had before. I was determined to recreate the soup for him and did my best. I referenced a website called Tender is the Steak, but I came across a couple with the same basic ingredients. My dad was pleased, as were my brother and sister-in-law, and in turn so was I!

Time: 15 min prep, 45 min cook                 Serves: 6


  • 3 pounds chicken parts with bones and skin (drumsticks, thighs)
  • 4 large potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 2 medium tomatoes, cubed
  • 10 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 spring onions, sliced into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 tsp ground cardamon
  • 1 tbsp hawaij spice blend*
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • salt to taste
  • roughly chopped fresh cilantro for serving (optional)
  • *Hawaij (a.k.a. Hawayej or Hawayij) is a Yemenite spice blend primarily used in soups. Ingredients may include: cumin, black pepper, turmeric,cardamom, ground cloves, caraway, nutmeg, saffron, coriander and ground dried onions. Another blend of the same name is used in coffee and tea.

How to make it

  • Combine all ingredients in pressure cooker. Top with water. Secure lid.
  • Bring to pressure and cook on high for 45 minutes.
  • Let the pressure cooker sit for 5 minutes. Carefully carry the cooker to the sink and run very cold water onto the top to bring the pressure down. You’ll hear the valve make a big sigh. When it’s safe to remove the lid, lift it off.
  • Be careful b/c the bones are tender from the pressure cooking. Try to pick them out as serving.

Broccoli And Sausage Pasta In Creamy Tomato Sauce

12 Oct

Another quick, versatile pasta recipe that may be mixed & matched to suit your tastes and what you have on hand.

Time: 20 minutes             Serves: 4


  • 1/2 pound pasta (I used penne), cooked al dente
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 specialty chicken sausage, sliced or diced (I used spinach & Asiago)
  • 1 cup chopped onion (about one medium)
  • 4 oz baby bella mushrooms (or more if you’d like, that’s all I had)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes – with liquid
  • 1/2 large head broccoli cut into florets – lightly steamed
  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • sea salt & black pepper, freshly ground – to taste
  • crushed red pepper flakes – to taste
  • fresh basil to garnish
  • grated Parmesan to garnish

How to make it

  • Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, until translucent – about 5 minutes. Add sausage and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes. Add mushrooms and garlic, stir, cook for 5 more minutes. Add broccoli, tomatoes with liquid, and cream cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Mix well to incorporate. Add pasta and toss well. Serve garnished with basil and Parmesan.

Heirloom Tomato and Feta Salad

17 Aug

Simple and elegant. Another summer great!

Time: 5 minutes             Serves 2


  • 2 large heirloom tomatoes, sliced about 1/4-inch thick (about 6 big stackable slices, reserve other parts for another use)
  • 1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese
  • 2 tsp basil oil (I used Kenzoil. If you don’t have it, whisk together olive oil with basil chiffonade and minced garlic.)
  • black pepper, to taste

How to make it

  • Place one slice of tomato on a plate. Top with some feta. Repeat and overlap slightly as you go. Drizzle with basil oil and season with freshly ground black pepper.

Tiella Calabrese

25 Jun

This dish was inspired by a recipe I found on the Food Network’s website by Chef Michael Chiarello. I’ve never seen or heard of Tiella before so I did some research and while there wasn’t much usable info out there on the web I did find some interesting tidbits on about.com, which is how I figured out how to name this recipe. (The comment by Member ThomasLucente was most interesting.) A beautiful, simple preparation that incorporates some of summer’s greatest offerings: zucchinis, tomatoes, basil.

Time: 15 min prep, 1 hour cook                  Serves: 4-6


  • 6-8 small redskin potatoes, sliced in 1/4 inch disks
  • 1 medium zucchini, sliced in 1/4 inch disks
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 handful fresh basil leaves, chopped or torn
  • 1 can diced tomatoes, drained (feel free to sub for fresh garden tomatoes!)
  • 1 cup shredded cheese (I used a blend of Asiago, Provolone, Romano, and Parmesan)
  • 1/2 cup plain breadcrumbs (I used panko)
  • salt & pepper to taste (I used sea salt & freshly ground black pepper)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

How to make it

  • Preheat oven to 375F. Prepare an 8×8 casserole with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Place potatoes in a medium glass mixing bowl and the zucchini in a separate medium glass mixing bowl. Add 1 tbsp olive oil to each. Divide garlic and put half in each bowl. Season each with salt & pepper. Toss each one well to coat with oil & evenly distribute seasonings.
  • Spoon 1/3 of the can of tomatoes into bottom of casserole dish. Make a layer potatoes and zucchini, alternating between the two. (Try to put the ends of the potatoes on the bottom layer for a more attractive looking end product.)
  • Spread another 1/3 of the tomatoes over top. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup cheese, half of breadcrumbs and basil. Make another layer of potatoes and zucchini. Top with remaining tomatoes, cheese, bread crumbs and basil. If you’d like, make a small pattern on top of this layer but be sure to sprinkle this part with some cheese & crumbs as well!
  • Bake uncovered for 30 minutes. Cover (with foil) and bake for another 30 minutes. Uncover again and bake for 10-15 minutes until top browned. Remove from oven allow to cool to room temperature (to allow flavors to deepen). Tiella may be served room temp, warm or hot. Cut into squares and serve at desired temperature.

Chicken Parmigiana

10 May

This is my interpretation of the Italian classic, baked – not fried, inspired by my friend Janet. I tweaked it to our tastes and I was wowed bite after bite. Give it a try!

Time: 30 min prep, 30 min cook            Serves: 4  


  • 4 small boneless skinless chicken breasts pounded to even thickness OR 2 large b/s chicken breasts sliced in half horizontally
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 28 oz can diced tomatoes with liquid
  • 1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • 2 fresh bay leaves
  • salt to taste
  • fresh ground pepper to taste
  • 1/4 tsp. dried thyme
  • 2 tbsp fresh oregano, roughly chopped + a bit for garnish
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese + 1/4 cup
  • 1 cup shredded cheese – I used Sargento’s 6 Italian Cheese Blend but any similar blend or simply mozzarella will work just as well.

How to make it

  • Heat 1 tbsp oil over medium-high heat. Add onions  and bay leaves. Cook, stirring occasionally, until soft and beginning to turn golden, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and red pepper flakes. Cook an additional 1-2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add tomatoes, tomato sauce, thyme and salt and pepper to taste. Bring to a light boil and reduce to simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Meanwhile, beat egg in a small bowl and season lightly with salt and pepper.
  • Preheat oven to 350F.
  • In a pie plate or similar, combine bread crumbs and 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese. Dip chicken pieces into egg, then into the crumb mixture. Set aside. Repeat with all chicken breasts.
  • Heat 1 tbsp oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chicken and cook on each side for about 3-4 minutes, until golden brown. Transfer to a baking dish.
  • Pour 2/3 of the tomato sauce mixture over the chicken. Sprinkle the shredded cheese on top and then spoon on the rest of the tomato mixture. Sprinkle with the 1/3 cup of Parmesan and garnish with oregano.
  • Bake, uncovered, for about 30 minutes until hot and bubbling.
  • I served this with whole wheat spaghetti, spooning some extra sauce onto the pasta, along with roasted asparagus. It would make a delicious sandwich.

Italian Food

10 May

Italian Food, by Shel Silverstein, Every Thing On It

Oh, how I love Italian food.
I eat it all the time,
Not just ’cause how good it tastes
But ’cause how good it rhymes.
Minestrone, cannelloni,
Macaroni, rigatoni,
Spaghettini, scallopini,
Escarole, braciole,
Insalata, cremolata, manicotti,
Marinara, carbonara,
Shrimp francese, Bolognese,
Ravioli, mostaccioli,
Mozzarella, tagliatelle,
Fried zucchini, rollatini,
Fettuccine, green linguine,
Tortellini, Tetrazzini,
Oops—I think I split my jeani.

Me too! And if that wasn’t enough to choose from, check out some of my other Italian-inspired recipes: Spinach Ricotta Gnudi, Italian Wedding Soup, Pesto Chicken & Vegetable Pasta and stay tuned for my next post.

Turkey Kumato Avocado Melt

23 Apr

I bought Kumato tomatoes from Trader Joe’s and they are yummy! Pretty to look at and sweet tasting. Perfect for this sandwich. It is National Grilled Cheese Month and I’m a bit late to celebrate, but there’s still time. This sandwich is sort of a form of grilled cheese though, right 🙂


  • 2 slices whole wheat bread (or bread of your choice)
  • 2 thin slices of herb roasted turkey
  • 1 slice cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced in thin strips
  • 1/2 Kumato tomato, sliced thin (if you can’t find this variety, other tomatoes will work)
  • 1/2 tbsp butter (can use oil or even cooking spray if you prefer)

How to make it

  • Assemble sandwich: slice of bread, cheese, turkey, tomato, avocado, slice of bread.
  • Heat butter in skillet over medium heat. Place sandwich in skillet veggie side down just for a moment, then turn cheese side down. Turn heat down to medium-low and cover. Cook for about 2-3 minutes, checking occasionally that the bread isn’t becoming too browned. Once cheese begins to melt, flip and cover again. Cook for another 2 minutes, again being sure to toast bread too much.
  • Remove from skillet, cut on the diagonal and enjoy as is or with your favorite condiments. I enjoy Trader Joe’s Aioli Garlic Mustard Sauce.